Tuesday Thoughts

Loving this quick article about being happy with gaining weight. Not about scale progress, about mental progress.

This Buzzfeed article on Instagram Food vs. Real Food is perfect. Love it.

I don’t think any dessert could be any more perfect than these s’mores cakelettes. Now in my bookmarks bar.

Obsessed with this song lately. The lyrics are perfection.

Two words. Pumpkin. Push-pops.

 

Healthy Foods to Always Have on Hand

I eat a lot of the same foods. I consume different variations of the same thing for breakfast, lunch is usually protein and veggies and dinner is usually something similar. Until recently, I never found the need to meal prep, but lately, I’ve figured out how handy having things ready to eat truly is. Besides having food already in the fridge, I also make sure to keep a fully stocked cabinet of foods for snacks, condiments and additions to every meal.

My Top 5 Staples:

1. An Orange Carb Source: Butternut Squash/Sweet Potatoes/Kabocha Squash (when I can find it)
Even though it’s a little more expensive, I always buy the pre-cut butternut squash at the store. Peeling a butternut squash is more hassle than it’s worth and makes my meal prep a lot more difficult. I simply buy a package of squash, throw it on a baking sheet and roast it in the oven for about 40 minutes or until it’s soft. Sometimes I sprinkle half with cinnamon for something different. Having plain roasted squash is perfect for adding to salads, lunches, dinners or even mashing for something like pancakes.

As for sweet potatoes, I buy a few and cut each one into differently so I can identify one potato. Usually I’ll do fries, wedges, rounds and chunks. I usually peel the chunks but not anything else. Like the squash, I simply throw them on a baking sheet and cook until soft. I LOVE cold sweet potatoes but they are also easy to just warm up.

2. Lean Ground Turkey (or chicken)
I usually buy a package of 99% (or 97%) lean ground turkey and put the whole thing in a pan right when I get home. I add a little water, a ton of chili powder, cayenne and paprika and cook it through like taco meat. Having ground meat in the fridge is an easy way to throw protein into stir-frys, wraps, omelette’s or anything else.

3. Mustard
I might be weird, but I love mustard on everything. In my opinion, it’s the perfect condiment. I put mustard on my salad as a dressing, put it on meat and dip my sweet potato fries in it. I use it like this because I simply love mustard but a plus is that it’s essentially a “free” food–only about 5 calories per serving.

4. Peanut Butter
I have so many jars of peanut butter that it’s a little ridiculous although I personally believe you can never have too much. Peanut butter is an easy way to add satiating fat to any meal. Peanut butter goes great on oatmeal and tastes delicious drizzled over squash or sweet potatoes. Not only that it’s easy to find little squeeze packets of PB to keep in your bag in case you’re starving with nothing around.

5. Rice Cakes
I eat rice cakes as my pre-workout snack almost everyday. They also go hand in hand with the peanut butter. When you need a quick breakfast before a workout, a couple rice cakes with peanut butter and a banana works great. They are perfect as a snack and as a post workout meal, I’ll occasionally break one up with almond milk and eat it like cereal. Although I usually buy plain ones, I love the apple caramel ones for something sweet and cheddar for something more savory.


Of course I always have other things in my pantry but these are all constant and they make grabbing something to eat a lot easier when time is tight or when I don’t feel like making anything.

 

What are your staples?

What I Ate Wednesday

It’s been a while since I’ve done a What I Ate Wednesday so I’m linking up with Jenn at Peas and Crayons again today to showcase my eats this week.

This week I started doing a lot of meal prep so I would be prepared when I’m hungry. I’m giving this method an A+. There’s always something good! The only bad thing is I don’t have a microwave so a lot of stuff gets eaten cold but I actually prefer a lot of things that way so it works out well most of the time.

Dinners:

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(Burger, sweet potato fries, veggies)

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(another day, the same meal)

chix2(Chicken, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower)

Lunches:

chix(Spinach, chicken, sweet potato rounds, butternut squash, jicama)

pita and soup(buffalo chicken deli meat and spinach in one and ham in the other, chicken soup and jicama)

pita(meatball and spinach in one, buffalo chicken in the other, jicama and cucumber)

Breakfasts:

I took a break from my standard oat bran this last week for some other things.

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(spinach omelet, berries and plain oat bran on the side)

eggs(egg, kale, zucchini and oatmeal on the side)

Five Tips for Success in Living a Healthy Lifestyle

Over the last few weeks, I have many posts on social media regarding the “Resolutioner-s” and the influx of people in the gyms. I confess, I am one of the people that got annoyed when the gym went from empty on December 31st to packed on January 1st. On New Years Day when I walked in the gym to do some cardio, I cursed under my breath as I waited for a piece of equipment. I didn’t even care which one–I just wanted to use something.

Yesterday I was watching Kelly and Michael as I did intervals on the AMT trainer and Jeff Garlin, the guy who plays the father in The Goldbergs was on the show. Kelly mentioned how he lost weight and asked for some tips since they try to promote health in January and February on the show. His first statement: why only January and February?

I almost did a fist pump. 

 Why does health have to start as a New Years Resolution? Why can’t someone start today, tomorrow, on a random Wednesday in May? Why is it so all or nothing? People go to the gym for 10 days in a row, eat healthy then “indulge” in a brownie one night after dinner and say it’s ruined. The next day they go back to their old habits. 

Health isn’t so cut and dry. It doesn’t mean you can’t have treats, or that you have to go to the gym every.single.day. It’s a lifestyle that changes as you do and needs to be integrated into your life instead of controlling it. 

My Tips?

1. Plan to Eat

I was always the person that said no to food prep but lately, I’ve realized how much it truly does help. Roast up some vegetables, cook up some proteins and keep plenty of the foods you need to succeed in the house. Lately I’ve been cooking some butternut squash, sweet potatoes and chicken and keeping it on hand. I also always have plain Greek yogurt, peanut butter, rice cakes and oatmeal. I usually have a few Quest bars on hand to throw in my bag. Don’t keep food in your house that you don’t want to eat. Plain and simple. Whether this is chips or candy bars, don’t buy them the next time you hit the store. Also, if you know you’re going to be out for a while, either pack something to eat or have something before you leave. It will keep you from grabbing convenience snacks when you’re starving.

2. Plan to Exercise

Exercise is a part of my lifestyle everyday. The same way I plan on going to work or school, I plan to go to the gym at a certain time each day. Knowing what time I am going to the gym each morning makes it a happy part of my day. I also change it up so that it doesn’t become a chore. Set exercise into your schedule just as you would anything else. Whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour, every minute counts. If you can’t get to the gym or do a real workout a few times a week, take a brisk walk, do some squats or jumping jacks to get your heart rate up and your blood flowing. 

3. Rest

I am a person that never wants to take a day off from the gym. Sometimes I forget that I’ve worked out without a day off for 2 weeks in a row. This might seem like a good thing but it could actually hinder progress. Your muscles recover the most when you take a rest day, as does your mind. Taking a day off doesn’t mean you have to sit around all day. Take a walk with the dogs or do some stretching to allow your body to reset. If you feel sick, take a day off and don’t stress about it. It can be easy to feel guilty when you can’t work out but that feeling isn’t good. Taking one day off when you don’t feel well is better than spending a week out of commission when you get too run down.

4. Be a Little Flexible

This is something I personally struggle with the most. Being healthy doesn’t mean perfection. Your body won’t crumble if you miss a workout, eat something that you might not normally eat or every treadmill is full and you usually only run. Health isn’t just about your body, it’s about your mind too. Being rigid only creates a disconnect between your brain and the rest of you which in turn, makes you unhealthy. Health is a balance. You can reach and obtain your goals without ruining your life. 

5. Change It Up (+Research)

Doing the same thing every day can get a little boring, no matter what it is. Look for fun recipes or play around and create your own. Try a class at the gym or look for some new routines to try. Do intervals one day and weight machines another day. Eat broccoli one day and cauliflower the next. Experiment with different methods and beliefs. Read websites, blogs, books. Set goals and try to reach them on your own. Monotony is the number one way to prevent you from making a lifestyle change and new habits. Spend time learning, get interested, incorporate new things, make the family join you. HAVE FUN.

 

Foodie Pen Pals Reveal!

A few months ago, I learned about Foodie Pen Pals at The Lean Green Bean exactly 12 hours after sign-ups closed. I HAD to sign up for the following month, so that I did. Because I signed up so soon for the next month and without any hestiation, I had honestly forgotten about it when I received the email from Lindsay the week before letting us know that the list would be coming out soon.

I quickly e-mailed my Pen Pal and planned my day out so I would have some time to shop.

A few short weeks later, my package from my pen pal Jessica arrived in the mail!

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It was like she has known me forever with some things:
Wasabi Almonds
Coconut Water
Dark Chocolate

and she gave me a chance to try some others like Cinnamon Apple tea, which tastes like apple pie in a cup and Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter which is delicious.

Last but obviously not least, she sent me some of her homemade cookies which are no lie, the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve eaten. I quickly stuffed one into my mouth gobbled one down and put them in the freezer. A few days later I grabbed one out and my tastebuds exploded. I must have not savored that first cookie because oh my gosh, this was the most perfect cookie. Buttery, fluffy, chocolately. Perfect.

Thanks again Jessica!

The Lean Green Bean

Why I Count Calories

This post has been on my mind for a few weeks now. Do I disclose the information or just keep it to myself?

If you’ve been a long time reader (or if you’ve just scrolled through posts), you know that I am a firm believer in living a lifestyle of eating and not living on a diet. I personally believe that diets set many up for failure because I know that when I can’t have something, I want it even more. I think that mentality holds true for most.

When I realized that my habits had become disordered, I started writing all my food down in a food journal. This was somewhat annoying and didn’t really do me any good. While I could see what I was eating, it didn’t really matter because my problem wasn’t that I ate five cookies and a pint of ice cream in one sitting, it was that I wasn’t eating enough.

That’s when I turned to My Fitness Pal to start tracking my food in the app and on the computer. This made it so much easier because I could see how many calories, carbs, fat and proteins I was eating every day and set a goal.

Since then, I’ve done a TON of research on reverse dieting, which is when you gradually increase your food intake in order to get a damaged metabolism back to normal. It’s a process used often for people coming off of physique competition prep periods so they don’t gain a lot of weight right away and it’s also used for people who have had eating disorders.

In the last few months, I’ve increased my “macros” (proteins, carbs and fat which equal up to calories) each week. Let me tell you, and I hate to say this, but I am so thankful that I started tracking my food.

Doing so makes me see how easily I got caught in the long rut of not eating enough. It’s not that I’m not hungry enough to eat, it’s that the food choices I make don’t have enough nutrients to help my body.

I don’t like counting calories. This is not permanent.

Some days I struggle to hit those numbers and other days it’s easy. Sometimes it’s like a game and I plan things out while lying in bed in the morning. Other times it’s incredibly frustrating to stay within those guidelines.

My goal is to keep increasing until I am eating enough to not only gain my metabolism back but build some lean muscle mass. I knew but didn’t want to believe it that your body cannot build muscle unless it’s in a caloric surplus. Your body also does not burn fat when in too much of a caloric deficit.  I repeat my little mantra often: food is fuel.

Whether or not you choose to count calories, macros, etc., doesn’t matter–the point is to find what works for you each and every day. Find a lifestyle you can sustain because what’s most important is being healthy.

Food Shopping on a Budget (#1)

I’m not always a budgeter. 

At all. Never have been. I’m definitely conscious of my money and monetary decisions but I have never laid things out for certain things. 

As I am not a money manager, I am also not a recipe planner. I often get into the habit of buying things at the store, then not eating them all, having to throw it away and in turn, wasting money (and food obviously..). 

Interestingly enough though, I am pretty good at shopping on the cheap no matter if I plan to or not. I’m big on prices, pounds and shopping the store in general. 

Seeing as I don’t currently have a job, I’ve been attempting to actually budget money for groceries and other things each week so that I can make my pennies and my food go farther. A win-win situation. Any extra money either gets to stay in my account for the next week or go to something fun (maybe a meal out, coffee, something fun at the store I don’t need). 

To make saving money even more fun, I’ve decided to share my food shopping adventures here so I can both learn more about budgeting and saving and share my new and old grocery store wisdom with other people.

Budget: $50 
Cooking for: Myself
How many meals/day: 3 meals+snacks a day (minus one or two meals a week)
Items I already have in general: condiments, oil, vinegar, spices
Items I already had before I went shopping this week: Almond milk, skim milk, 1/2 dozen eggs, oat bran, oatmeal, 3 yogurts, half a container of cottage cheese, half a container of ricotta cheese, bag of mozzarella cheese, jar of tomato sauce, can of tuna, 2 frozen turkey burgers, bag of sweet potatoes, bag of kale, 1 head romaine lettuce, an onion, half a cucumber, half a red bell pepper, frozen spinach, frozen berries, frozen brussels sprouts, frozen bananas

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I spent $30.76 on Friday. I have done some meal prepping and also have made several meals so far, as well as actually planned a few more (oh my gosh!)

What I do with this food:

The granola bars weren’t something I would normally buy. Usually I would make my own but I heard these were good and I like to have a few snack-y things around just in case. 

Lettuce, tomatoes, pepper, spinach–Salads for lunch/dinners

Spinach–I throw spinach in smoothies, into a pan with meat and other vegetables and use it as a neutral vegetable all the time

Pumpkin–For use in my morning bowl of oat bran