Thursday, February 28, 2013

Instant Gratification and Cravings

This post is personal for me because I very much suffer from the need of instant gratification. When I have a craving for something, it is very hard to tell myself to wait and eat something else instead or even just to wait and have it the next day. I feel as though I am denying myself something so important and I will never get it back. A bit dramatic considering we are only talking about a chocolate bar or a donut or a glass of chocolate milk ... whatever it may be, I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who has experienced this feeling. It's a "Gotta have it right now!" kind of thing that somehow seems to take over your whole body and all of your thoughts until you give in.

Unfortunately, I also tend to live by the "all or nothing" approach and once I do give in to that temptation, it's so much harder for me to bounce back. I end up smashing the whole tea set just because I chipped one cup. It doesn't make sense does it? But in that moment, I feel like I have failed and there is no going back. Until tomorrow. There is something magical about "tomorrow", isn't there? Tomorrow is where all of our hopes for success lie ... but tomorrow doesn't always come. I seem to get stuck in "today" and can't quite get to the land of "tomorrow" where I can finally say "NO!" to that donut and get back on track to getting healthy.

I'm not saying to give up though. Instead, I'm going to give you some of my tips and tricks. I know I just said I still struggle with this, and I imagine that I always will to some extent, but at the same time, I know I haven't been giving a full effort to help myself out either. So before throwing in the towel, try some of these tips and see if they work for you!

As in the picture above, there are options to:
1. Work out/ Go for a walk - Exercise is known to be an appetite suppressant, so getting up and going for a short walk may do more for you than you realize, and I bet you are not going to want to dig into that donut after you sweat your booty off with a workout either. 
2. Drink a glass of water - A lot of times a person thinks that they are craving something but really they are just dehydrated. So next time you are feeling the cravings, try drinking some water and wait and see if it helps. If you still feel hungry, then you probably are, but try to make a healthy choice, which leads me to #3.

3. Eat a salad - This does not include chemical dressings and the entire fridge poured on top. It doesn't have to be a salad either. But many times, people have cravings because they are lacking a key nutrient. Make sure your salad, snack, or meal contains the important 3's: protein, healthy carbohydrate, and healthy fat. If you do this, you will feel satisfied and I bet your cravings will disappear too!

4. Paint your nails/Write a letter/ Play guitar/ Braid your hair - I'm not much for painting my nails (I can never seem to stay in the lines!), but the idea here is to do something with your hands so you are distracted and can't sit and mindlessly eat. This can be anything you want it to be. The key is to find something you enjoy so you don't just sit there and think about the cookies in the other room!

5. Imagine yourself at your goal weight - This is simple. Think about all of the reasons why you want it. And all of the things you'd like to change. Imagine being there for your daughter's wedding, being able to fit into those skinny jeans, or not having to make excuses when you're out of breath taking a flight of stairs at work. The goals you have are what motivate you. Keep reminders of them wherever you can, so you know what you are working towards.

6. Put on a pair of tight pants - This is pretty straight forward too. You can't binge if you can't breathe! Ever try sitting down to munch on a whole bag of chips and dip when your jeans are digging into your middle, pushing out that lovely, jiggly jello, also known as the "muffin top"? It's not fun and it's not easy. You just literally can't do it. It will also help you stay motivated if you know that those chips are the reason why you can't fit into those jeans anymore.

7. Crave Control Plus - This is actually something you can buy. It is from one of my favorite resources: Nutritional Weight and Wellness. They promote food first, but also recommend supplements to help you along the way, if needed. The thought behind this is that it contains the important nutrients that calm your body so you don't experience the craving attacks so intensely, thus making it easier to control them. It is also designed to help for a while until you get your food balanced out and eventually you won't need it anymore. I have tried it and I did notice a difference in myself while taking it.

8. Psyllium Husk - This is another supplement, but this one is more to help you feel full. If you are having an empty day, where you just can't seem to feel full, this supplement helps you feel satisfied and forget your hunger. It works this way because it is fiber and fiber in your food is what makes you feel full. This you can order online or find in most pharmacies. I believe that it comes in capsules or as a powder, but I have only tried the capsule version. Just follow the directions on the back.

9. Break out the gum or toothbrush - I am normally not an advocate of gum, but sometimes just having something in your mouth helps. And especially if it is minty because not a lot of foods go well with mint. It will most likely take away your cravings because it tricks you into thinking about pizza (or whatever you are craving) with tooth paste/mint ... and I don't know about you, but that just doesn't sound great! 

10. Call a friend - If you are talking to a friend then they can help talk you out of the cravings, it will get your mind off of it, and you will be less likely to shove things into your mouth if you are busy talking with it. So call a friend, call a few friends, until the cravings subside.

There you have it! So pick one, pick two, or use all ten tips and avoid those cravings. It has been proven that having visual aids around will noticeably affect your overall success too. So the more reminders you have, the more likely you are to stay on track. So tape up notes by your desk and on your refrigerator. Put a post-it on your TV to tell you to get on the treadmill instead. And keep your water by you to remind you to drink up!

Some sources say to just have a taste of whatever you are craving, but that doesn't work for me, so I didn't want to share it. If I have a bite, I end up eating the whole thing. So that is not on my list of recommendations. It may work for you, but I only share the things that have worked for me personally. 

If you have more tips you'd like to share, I would love to know what works for you, so please share! And don't forget to pat yourself on the back when you do manage to say "No!" to your cravings and get rid of that nasty instant gratification habit. It's a major accomplishment and should be rewarded ... just not with pizza!

Bonus: Preventative Tips

To avoid getting hit with the cravings in the first place, there are a couple of things you can do:
  • Get enough sleep. This is so important. Sufficient sleep is key in your weight loss. Your body simply does not make what it needs to when it doesn't get a chance to rest enough and deep enough. 
  • Avoid stress. Stress has also been known to cause cravings because it creates too much cortisol in the body. 
  • Avoid fasting. If you go long spurts between eating, your blood sugar dips and when your blood sugar is low, candy bars look tempting and it's almost impossible to say no. Your body sees the candy bar, almost pure sugar, and knows it will raise the blood sugar. You feel great afterwards, but what goes up must go down. A great spike in blood sugar, caused by the candy bar, will only lead to a drop in blood sugar once that sugar is burned off. So stick to eating balanced meals at regular intervals to avoid this unhealthy cycle.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Join Me at Thintopia

I've decided to see if anyone wants to join me in my journey. I created a Thintopia challenge that lasts all year long so you can join at any time and come back to it at any time. The website keeps track of your weight, but doesn't show how much you weigh to other members. It only shows the percentage lost each week. The challenge is set to weigh in on Fridays, but any day will do. Consistency is the key! Hope to see you there!

The link is: HERE and the password is: GetReal

Body Rock/Daily HIIT Review

This review is not for a specific workout, but a specific workout group called Body Rock. I discovered this website some time last year and it's a great resource. It's also a FREE resource. The website is full of videos, and instructional videos, as well as nutritional information. The thing that is probably one of my favorite aspects of this website is that the videos are all under 20 minutes long, usually just 12 minutes. As short as they are, they pack a serious punch! You start out at high intensity and don't stop until you're done. These workouts are not for beginners, although they do show you different modifications if your fitness level is not quite as high yet. It's also great because there are always new videos so you aren't doing the same thing all the time and you won't easily get bored.

The workouts are high intensity intervals. They are typically made up 50 seconds work and 10 seconds rest alternating until the workout is finished. Some of the routines require equipment such as: free weights, equalizer, stability ball, and quite frequently a sandbag. They do offer modifications for many of these if you don't have the equipment though. And they even include a Yoga workout occasionally for those looking to build flexibility.

The program also has grown to a new website, called the Daily HIIT. I haven't followed this website as much, but it seems to be a bit more organized and has been divided into different categories including:

** HIIT Core          ** HIIT Reps
** HIIT Light          ** HIIT Prep
** HIIT Body         ** HIIT Bonus
** HIIT Max          ** HIIT Wkend
** HIIT Lean

On the flip side, the workouts can be a bit hard to navigate. They don't come with a set schedule of which workouts to do and when to do them. So if you're someone who likes specific structure, this may be a bit difficult for you. Also, and this is just a personal opinion, but I feel like the host, although very chipper and motivating, is a bit full of herself and as much as the program promotes being beautiful no matter who you are or what you look like, she has changed just about everything she can using plastic surgery in the last year: boobs, nose, and at some point lips. So it's hard for me to see her as a good role model for loving our bodies when she alters hers so much. The behind the scenes stuff can also seem a bit immature at times.

  • It's FREE
  • The workouts are short and easily fit into your day
  • The workouts are intense and guaranteed to bring results
  • The hosts are high energy and motivational
  • The program offers a wide variety of workout styles

  • The hosts can be a bit full of themselves
  • The workouts don't follow a particular schedule
  • A lot of the workouts require equipment
  • Does not include warm up/cool down
Overall though, I give this one a thumbs up! What you put into a workout is what you get out of it and you have to put a lot into these workouts, which means you also get a lot out of them. If you can get aside the occasional drama on the web page, then it's a great program! 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Motivation: Tools to Use

I find that I perform the best when I am surrounded by helpful tools. These can be friends that help you stay on track, websites that motivate you to keep going, online calculators that help you see your progress, or even apps on your phone to remind you when to weigh in. Whatever it is that you need, there are a ton of options out there to help you lose weight and get healthy. I'm going to share some of my favorites with you!


I like to keep several options open for keeping tracking of my weight loss. With many different numbers to keep track of, it's easier for me to stay on course than if I am only watching the scale. For example, I can keep track of my weight on Thintopia, a website designed to track weight loss, but not show the actual numbers. This is great for competitions because you can join with others, but they don't have to know how much you weigh; they only know the percentage of your total body weight that you have lost. In addition, I use a target weight loss date calculator so I know of a reasonable completion date and keep it as a goal to finish by that date. I also look at a body fat % calculator, which will tell me approximately how much of my weight is fat that can be lost. And finally, I keep track of my measurements, which you can do on your own or you can log on to a FREE Beach Body account. You get signed up for a coach who can help you stay on track and there are tons of free tools to keep track of your measurements and even your workouts too!

Aside from these tools, I use a calorie counting website to help me keep track of the food that I consume each day. Most of these types of websites allow you to also keep track of your activity calories burned, so you have a net amount of calories at the end of the day. I've tried several different options, but Calorie Count at is my favorite. It seems to be very user-friendly.

  1. Thingopia 
  2. Target Weight Loss Date Calculator
  3. Body Fat % Calculator
  4. Beach Body Super Gym
  5. Calorie Count
  6. My Fitness Pal 
  7. Spark People


Here is a list of some of my favorite websites to gather recipes. Some of them are Paleo, but some, like Skinny Taste or Chocolate Covered Katie, are not. They all have a wide range of recipes to choose from and I know you will not be disappointed with the recipes!

  1. Skinny Taste
  2. Chocolate Covered Katie
  3. Fast Paleo
  4. Chow Stalker
  5. Dessert Stalker
  6. Nutritional Weight and Wellness
  7. On Diet and Health


I like FREE so I found a few different free websites to watch exercise videos. And believe me, they are challenging videos. But the nice thing is that the videos are very structured and most of them are run by professionals, so their workouts not only work, but they are safe too. 
  1. BodyRock 
  2. DailyHIIT
  3. ZWow 
  4. Hang Tight with MarC


Anyone who knows me well knows that I love podcasts. My husband got me into them! And I am hooked! I love to listen while I work, and some of my favorites are about nutrition and fitness. Here are the main ones that I listen to that have really helped me understand food and what it does to the body. I also have recently discovered the Get-Fit Guy, who has a great podcast on fitness. 
  1. Primal Diet -
  2. Dishing Up Nutrition -
  3. Get-Fit Guy -

Phone Apps

Phone apps are also a great way to stay connected and motivated when you don't have your computer with you. I try not to have too many, but it helps to have a calorie/activity tracker on my phone, which Calorie Count has, and then I have a fitness video app so I can workout even when I don't have anything else with me. And Pinterest is possibly one of the best apps because you can find anything on that site: recipes, workouts, motivation, friends, and tips for weight loss. 

  1. Calorie Count 
  2. Pinterest
  3. Body Rock
  4. Facebook

With all of the resources available, it's easier to stay motivated and there is always going to be something for everyone. If something doesn't work for you, then keep looking. I know you will find what you need! I hope my suggestions help, but go out and find some of your own. You never know what's out there until you look!

Recipe: Sweet Potato and Kale Chicken Patties

I found this recipe on the Multiply Delicious website. These chicken patties didn't turn out as pretty as the ones in the pictures, but they were delicious! I didn't read through the recipe totally before I started to make them, so I didn't realize I was supposed to let them sit overnight, but they were still really good. In fact, I devoured one while I was waiting for the others to finish cooking! I would probably add a bit more spice to it next time, but I like my food spiced well.

This recipe is a perfect combo of protein and carbohydrates, and the recipe even says to get in all 3 of the protein, carb, and fats to just add some guacamole on top. I didn't try that, but I can imagine it would be completely delicious!!  These chicken patties would also be a great option for kids and could be served as-is or sandwich style!

  • 2 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into tiny little cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups kale, finely chopped (leaves only)
  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with 1 teaspoon coconut oil or avocado oil (or bacon grease) add green onions and cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add sweet potatoes and cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, until barely tender.  Add kale and cook until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Set aside.

Add chicken to a food processor and process on pulse until ground.  Transfer meat to a large mixing bowl.  Add salt, garlic, paprika, Dijon mustard, rosemary, egg, coconut flour, and sweet potato mix.  Mix together with hands until well combined.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or even better overnight.

Divide your chicken mixture into 6 to 7 even patties.

Coat a large non-stick pan with coconut oil or even better bacon grease to just coat the bottom (not a lot). 

Add patties and cook until golden crust forms, about 5 to 6 minutes, then flip to the other side and cook until golden and cooked through.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Weigh in and Portion Sizes

Today is Friday and that means weigh in! I didn't do as well as I thought, but I still lost half a pound. As long as you move in the right direction and never give up, then I think that's what really counts though.

My mom has recently found a pair of jeans that she loves and so she ended up buying a pair for me too. We happen to be the same size right now so she also bought an extra pair, one size too small, and said that the deal is, whoever fits into them first will get them! Sounds like a fun deal to me! So I've got to get on that!

As I was scanning around the wonderful world of iPhone apps yesterday, I discovered Flipboard. It is amazing. So I got it all set up to read different articles on food and health and fitness and other similar topics. I found this article in Women's Health Magazine on portion sizes that I thought was pretty interesting.

For example:

This example only works for a woman's hand because obviously a man's hand would be much larger, but it gives you a quick reference for when you don't have your measuring cups handy.

This one comes in very handy because I never know how much cheese is 1 ounce. Everybody knows how big a pair of dice are though. So this comes in very useful.

The article does recommend serving sizes for some foods that I wouldn't recommend like the fruit juice and the cereals, which are basically all sugar, but you can still get an idea of approximate sizes and how to figure it out when you're dining at a friend's house or somewhere without proper measuring tools.

To read the full article from Women's Health Magazine, click: HERE!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Rule of Three

One of my favorite resources for learning about the how's and why's of food is a podcast called "Dishing Up Nutrition". The team is made up of nutritionists and food experts. Each week they go through and explain different foods and how they affect the body, but they also explain how to change the food you eat in order to feel better, reduce cravings, and even reduce many different health concerns.

There are two main messages that the podcast has in almost every show and that is 1) Don't eat processed foods and 2) Follow the rule of 3's.

The Rule of 3 means that for each meal and snack you should include 1 protein, 1 good fat, and 1 good carbohydrate. These three things should all be incorporated to have balanced meals. They all work together to help your body and mind. Without one or two of these components, it throws the balance off and you wind up having intense cravings, feel hungry soon after eating, or even are sleepy and grumpy.

What are classified as healthy?

Healthy Fats:

  • avocado
  • real butter (not margarine)
  • fats in grass-fed animal protein
  • coconut and olive oil (stay away from canola and vegetable oil)
  • coconut milk 
  • eggs


Healthy Proteins:

  • grass-fed animal protein
  • eggs
  • nuts
  • whey protein
*stay away from processed proteins 


Healthy Carbohydrates:

  • Fresh vegetables (carrots, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, etc) 
  • Fresh fruits (blueberries, strawberries, apples, tomatoes, watermelon)
  • Frozen fruits & vegetables (just make sure they don't have any additives)
* The more color in a vegetable, the more nutrient rich it is.
* Stay away from breads, pasta, and grains

So try to get one of each of these into every snack and meal. An example of a great breakfast would be some eggs cooked in coconut oil, half of a sweet potato with real butter, and some spinach. Delicious too!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How Much Should I Exercise?

One of the main questions that people ask when considering fitness is how often should they work out. That answer varies greatly depending on not only who you ask, but also your fitness level and what you're hoping to achieve. Ask Men's website states that you should strive to make working out of your routine 6 days each week. They say to aim high, because if "life happens", you're still likely to get in at least 3 - 4 days each week.

They also claim that working out 6 days a week makes it habit, which makes it a part of who you are and becomes as ordinary as brushing your teeth or showering every day. You eat and sleep each day, and feel better when you do so appropriately, so it makes sense that you feel more energized and healthier when you also workout regularly. In fact, most people notice other areas in their life improving as well, like positive attitude and healthier skin, when they exercise consistently. They say that people that don't workout consistently are less likely to see progress and then are less likely to stick to working out at all.

Daily Exercise RoutineOf course, you need to take into consideration your fitness level when determining how often to exercise each week and also what you'd like to achieve. If you are a beginner, most experts recommend 20 minutes three times a week, which can be broken up into ten minute sessions throughout the day or all at once. And of course, any exercise is better than no exercise.

Beginners are likely to need more recovery time than seasoned athletes too. Answer Fitness says:

"As a general rule of thumb, a good training frequency for someone who is new to the gym, or returning after a lengthy break, is three resistance workouts a week lasting between 45 and 60 minutes. This will allow you to work each major muscle group with at least one exercise and give yourself 48 hours for recovery between workouts."

As for the US government, when asked the question, they released a report called Dietary Guidelines for Americans which said:

"To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements."

We Be Fit's website goes on to explain that you should consider cardio workouts four to six times a week between 20 and 60 minutes each session for optimum fat loss. Exceeding an hour of this can be harmful to your body though, as it begins to eat muscle that is used to fuel your body. To maintain muscle mass, they recommend resistance/strength training three days a week for about 30 - 60 minutes.

Those recommendations are similar for people of ages up to even 70 and 80 years old.

The recommendations for how often to exercise each week may vary, but what all the websites have in common is that you should start out slowly, so as not to injure yourself, pace yourself, start with lighter weights, shorter sessions, and gradually work your way up. They all also recommend on day of rest minimum each week. You will burn yourself out if you never give your body a chance to rest, especially when engaging in vigorous workouts. I think my personal rule of thumb is always to listen to your body. Each body is different and you know when you are pushing too hard or when you aren't pushing enough. So listen to your body, lace up your shoes, and get sweaty!!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Insanity Review

After trying P90x for a bit, I decided to look into the Beachbody website for another workout program. I opted to give Insanity a go. I have to admit that I struggled with P90x, but Insanity was a step above even that; the two workout programs are designed very differently. While I enjoyed working out with Tony Horton and P90x, I really enjoyed the new style and energy that Shaun T brings with Insanity.

Insanity is categorized as a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). They call it Max Interval Training. The main idea behind this program is to push the body as hard as you can for 2 minutes and then take a short, 30 second, break before jumping back in. You repeat this cycle over and over until you've reached the end of the workout. The DVD involves great warm up and cool down instructions as well, although, the warm up workout is very much a workout in itself. It is ten minutes long and is nonstop!

The videos typically consist of several circuits. The circuits involve four different moves, each 30 seconds long, totaling 2 minutes. Then you get a 30 second break. Afterwards, you move on to a new circuit, with four new moves. Occasionally, there is a bonus move or two in between circuits.

There are a few videos that break this routine and instead consist of the warm up, followed by about 16 minutes of pure cardio moves, each 1 minute long, and then the cool down. These DVDs are a bit shorter at about 40 minutes long, but really pack a punch.

This DVD program comes with 10 DVDs:

1: Dig Deeper
& Fit Test

2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit
3: Cardio Power & Resistance
4: Cardio Recovery
5: Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs 
6: Core Cardio & Balance
7: Max Interval Circuit & Fit Test
8: Max Interval Plyo 
9: Max Cardio Conditioning & Cardio Abs
10: Max Recovery

Along with the 10 DVDs, you get:

  • Elite Nutrition Plan

  • Fitness Guide

  • INSANITY Workout Calendar

  • FREE Online Support Tools


Pros to Insanity:

Shaun T is a fun, high energy trainer
DVDs get to the point, no wasted time at all
Workout program lasts 60 days instead of 90
Workouts are shorter than P90x
Guaranteed to bring results

Cons to Insanity:

May be too extreme for many fitness levels
Some workouts are still a bit long
A little expensive at $120 but you can find it cheaper on other websites
Not recommended for people who have bad knees, as it involves a lot of jump training

This workout is definitely a great workout if you are already at a high level of fitness or athletic ability, but I wouldn't suggest it for a beginner. It's a very high intensity workout, so it may become easy to get burnt out. I always recommend trying everything once (within reason) though, so I would give it a shot. I typically use it now mixed in with a variety of other workout DVDs when I want a high calorie burn workout. So give it a shot!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Stay Motivated

There are hundreds of ways to stay motivated, but that doesn't mean that they will all work for you. The trick is to find what works for you and your weight loss and wellness journey. Sometimes the only way to find out what works for you is to try different things. So here are a few tips that work for me and hopefully they'll work for you too. But ... if they don't, just keep looking, ask around, see what works for other people and try them to see if they work for you too.

Tip #1
Set reasonable goals - You may have 100 pounds to lose, but if you focus on that 100 and you only lose 2 pounds per week, it will take a LONG time to reach your goal. Instead, focus on 10 pounds per month or even just the 1 - 2 pounds per week. You're much more likely to stick to something if you feel like you're accomplishing something. So make reasonable goals. They can be pounds, inches, fitting into your skinny jeans, or even just emotional accomplishments like feeling good about yourself.

Tip #2
Eat blue, wear red - You know how light green is supposed to be a calm color, which is why it's often found in hospitals? Well, they say that blue is an appetite suppressant. So eat your dinner on a blue plate and supposedly you won't feel the need to eat quite as much. And red? Well, they say red is known to help boost your mood. So if you're feeling the lack of energy, put on your red and it is supposed to boost your energy and your self confidence.

Tip  #3
Be optimistic - This is one of the most important tips for weight loss, but also one that I try to follow just as a rule to life. It's very easy to get down about your journey as you miss a workout or indulge in some ice cream, but that doesn't mean that you should give up completely. Instead, focus on what you have been doing right and all the hard work you've put into your journey and get right back on track. If you don't, you'll just be that much further behind when  you do get back into it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Recipe: Turkey Taco Chili (from

I'd like to share one of my all time favorite chili recipes with you. It's a go-to recipe when you want that warm, comfort food without the guilt. Chili, in general, is a great comfort food, but this recipe is so yummy that everyone in the family will love it! I found it on the Skinny Taste website and now have it bookmarked so I never lose it. It's that good!

Turkey Chili Taco Soup
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 9 Size: 1-1/4 cups Old Points: 3 pts Points+: 5 pts
Calories: 198.8 • Fat: 1.4 gCarb: 29.7 g • Fiber: 7.0 g  Protein: 19.5 g

  • 1.3 lbs 99% lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 10 oz can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies
  • 15 oz canned or frozen corn, drained
  • 15 oz kidney beans, drained
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 16 oz fat free refried beans (I use regular refried beans)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (or make your own with this recipe)
  • 2 1/2 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth (again, I don't use the fat-free version)
In a large pot, brown turkey on medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When cooked through, add onions and pepper and cook 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, beans, tomato sauce, refried beans, taco seasoning and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10-15 minutes.

Serve with a few baked tortilla chips and your favorite toppings such as low fat sour cream, jalapeƱos, reduced fat cheese, chopped scallions,  onions, or chopped fresh cilantro. Freeze leftovers in individual portions for future meals.

This is another recipe that I would highly recommend doubling and freezing some for later because it's so good that I am sure it won't last long. I also think it's great to use for breakfast with an egg or two fried up on top. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Weigh In: After Valentine's Day

So I think that weigh in after Valentine's Day is not a great thing! My hubby took me out to dinner at a Mexican place and then we went for ice cream. We don't do gifts for Valentine's Day, just have a date night together. He got a little annoyed when he missed a turn and had to go around and then, since he was irritated, missed another turn. Kind of funny, but it just irritated him more. Ah well, boys will be boys. I think it's an extension of the "Guys don't ask for directions" complex. But other than that, it was a great first Valentine's Day with my husband. 

The scale has not been my friend today though. I've gone up. I'm hoping that salt has a lot to do with it. I'll just have to be good this week and see what it says next Friday.

So here are some tips for you for weighing in:
  • Weigh in at the same time of day as previous weigh ins. I do mine in the morning on Fridays, right after I wake up
  • Make sure you, uh, go to the bathroom before weighing in
  • Wear the same clothing, or lack of, for each weigh in. You'd be surprised how much a pair of jeans can affect those dreaded numbers
  • Don't consume anything before jumping on the scale. A bottle of water is 16 oz and 16 oz is a pound. Therefore, you'll be approximately 1 pound heavier if you've just downed the whole thing. 
  • Try to be as consistent as possible. I know that on my scale if I lean a certain way, I can affect the numbers. But ... that's cheating. You can get it to give you different numbers, but your body will always show the world what's really going on. 
Hope you all did better than I did, and I hope you all had a great Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Water is often overlooked when it comes to nutrition, but it is one of the most important parts of your diet. The big question is: How much water should I drink per day? The most common answer is the famous "8 glasses of water a day"! But there are variables that should be taken into consideration. For example, a 5 foot tall, 115 pound woman's needs would be very different from a 6 foot tall, 300 pound man's. Also, the needs of someone who is sedentary would differ from someone who runs 8 miles every day, as that person would perspire more.

The opposite side of hydration is dehydration. This is the condition in which one does not drink enough water to keep the body hydrated. explains, "Getting enough water each day is important to avoid dehydration, which can cause headache, fatigue, weakness, dizziness and even unconsciousness in severe cases."

"You lose close to an additional liter, about four cups, of water a day through breathing, sweating and bowel movements," states the Mayo Clinic's website. Livestrong's website goes on to say, "Since food typically accounts for 20 percent of your total fluid intake, consuming two liters of water or other beverages a day in addition to your normal diet will typically replace your lost fluids".

 The benefits of drinking water are many. Here are just a few.
  • Helps you lose weight by reducing your appetite
  • Improves your mood because your body feels good
  • Helps detoxify your body
  • Helps with digestion and constipation
  • Creates healthy skin
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Protects and moisturizes joints
  • Transports nutrients and oxygen into cells
  • Moisturizes the air in our lungs
  • Helps with metabolism
So how much water should you drink? You can aim for the 8 cups of water or there is another technique. They say to take your weight, divide it by 2, and that is the amount of water that you should drink in ounces. So if you are 200 pounds, divide that by 2, which equals 100. So you would try to drink around 100 ounces of water each day, which is about 12 cups. That may seem like a lot, but you must remember that you also consume water through the fruits, veggies, and other beverages like coffee or tea that you consume. Pop/soda does not count in this list. Livestrong's site says though, "If you drink enough water where you rarely feel thirsty and produce at least 1.5 liters, or about six cups, of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate."

So grab your water and drink up!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fighting childhood obesity!

In 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. (CDC) It has even gotten to the point that it is affecting infants. It's no wonder because "more than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese." (WIN).

Overweight and obese children are more likely to have:
  • Higher risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Prediabetes
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Social and psychological problems
 It is also shown that children who are overweight or obese will grow up to be overweight or obese as adults. This puts them at risk for:
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Severe types of cancer ( including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma)
  • Osteoartheritis

 So what can we do to help the kids? 

There are several ways to help our kids get healthy. The most important thing that you can ever do, as a parent, friend, or family member, for a child is to lead by example! I can't stress this enough. Kids mimic the habits and behaviors that they learn at home. If you are overweight yourself, there is a great chance that your children will be too. As much as you think you can do what you want and tell them to do something else, "Do as I say, not as I do" rarely works. You also don't want to sit down and talk to your child about how they are overweight and you're concerned and they are going to be put on a diet and fitness regime. You never want to single out your child and make them feel bad or guilty about their weight; this only increases the chances of decreased self-esteem and may even push them into eating more and being less active.

Here are a few ways to help your child, without making them feel bad about it:

  • Get active WITH THEM. Play outside with them, take them to a park, go for bike rides together. If they are into technology, get them into playing Wii Sports with you or have them show you how to shake your groove thang with one of the many different Wii dance games. It's active, it's fun, and you're not singling them out. It's great for the adults too because they will increase their fitness level by doing this as well. And it's a great way to interact and bond with your child.
  • Pack them lunch for school. I cannot emphasize enough how much I do not agree with what has become acceptable to serve to kids at school. I believe they have even tried to pass off french fries as vegetables because they are made from potatoes. So pack your kids a lunch. Make it fun and make it delicious, but leave out all the processed junk that their little, growing bodies do not need. 
  • Prepare healthy meals for EVERYONE at home. Creating a meal of pasta for the family, but giving one child a salad and chicken is NOT going to help their self esteem at all, and will only create resentment. If you want your child to be healthy, make sure you focus on the whole family getting healthy together, rather than trying to make little Julie lose weight. 
  • Help them find an activity at school that they can be active in whether that is track, softball, football, or even the marching band. Don't force them into it and don't make it seem that they need to join to lose weight. Just get them involved in something physical where they can make friends and have fun. 
  • Make sure they are getting enough good quality sleep each night. It's a bad idea for them to have TV's or computers in their room because they often stay up until very late and too much stimulation before bed time makes it hard to fall asleep.
  • Try to reduce stress. Stress has been proven over and over to cause weight gain and difficulty losing weight. So talk to your kids, find out what is going on and try to reduce any stress that they may be dealing with. 
  • Drink water, lots of water. Juices and pops are loaded with sugar. Instead of setting your kids up for a crash, a blood sugar crash, have them drink lots of water throughout the day. It will give them energy and is exactly what their bodies need. 
If you have talked to your child about how they have a weight problem and they responded poorly, as is expected if it is addressed as their problem,  Jillian Michaels recommends talking to them and being honest. Explain to them that it isn't their fault and you aren't unhappy with them and that you will love them no matter what, but that you are feeling like you have let them down by not showing them healthy behaviors and that the whole family is going to focus on getting healthy together from now on.

I hope my tips have been helpful. Have a happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Zumba Review

"Zumba Fitness® is the only Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that blends red-hot international music, created by Grammy Award-winning producers, and contagious steps to form a "fitness-party" that is downright addictive. Since its inception in 2001, the Zumba program has grown to become the world's largest – and most successful – dance-fitness program with more than 14 million people of all shapes, sizes and ages taking weekly Zumba classes in over 140,000 locations across more than 150 countries." (

Zumba was created by Alberto "Beto" Perez through what he considers a "happy accident". On his way to teach a fitness class, he forgot to bring his music and ended up using the music tapes that he had in his backpack (salsa and merengue). His students responded to it very positively and he turned it into what is now one of the most popular forms of dance fitness worldwide.

There are two ways to do Zumba. You can either take a class, Zumba Class (click to watch the video), held either in a gym or in their own locations, or you can buy the DVD and do it in your own home. I haven't tried any of the Zumba classes, although I have heard many positive reviews of them, but I received the Zumba DVDs a couple of years ago.

I quickly learned that I have 2 left feet, but even so, this workout is FUN! Fun AND challenging. You can choose between an introductory DVD which shows you how to do the dance moves one step at a time, then there are several different options between a long type of workout or a short type workout. They even have a DVD to dance along to a Zumba concert. Yes, they even hold concerts, where people gather to work out together, with Beto and his dancers on the stage. Pretty exciting huh?

The DVDs, no matter which length you choose, are so much fun that they go by very quickly. It is a great DVD if you love to dance, or even if you just enjoy it slightly. They go through a wide variety of different types of Latin dances, and even a few outside of that genre. They are constantly switching it up, so that you don't do a single version for too long and get bored. It moves along quickly, but if you do the introductory DVD you should have minimal trouble keeping up.

Another interesting note to the Zumba DVDs is that you have the option to work out in English or Spanish.

If you aren't into dancing, then this workout is probably not for you. Also, if you're looking to tone specific areas, then you probably should move towards a HIIT workout or a strength training workout. Zumba will slim you down, and is a great cardio workout, but it won't add much as far as tone to your upper body... or not as much as targeting those areas specifically.


  • Fun
  • Workout goes by quickly
  • Cardio workout to improve stamina
  • Lots of variety in the workouts
  • English or Spanish option
  • Can do the workout in a class or on a DVD
  • Price of the DVDs falls between the expensive Beach Body products and the more affordable Jillian Michael's or Body Rock workouts


  • Not going to get you as toned, specifically upper body
  • Not great for the uncoordinated person
  • Need a bit more space to do the workout than other DVDs
Overall, I say Zumba is a great addition to your other workout DVDs as a fun cardio workout when you want a good burn and/or you don't have a lot of time to get your heart rate up!
Buy Zumba.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Motivation

I was talking to a good friend of mine about struggling with cravings and feeling bad when I give in to temptation. She said something to me that has really stuck with me. She said that giving up the bad food is hard and that we all stumble and give in sometimes. It was the answer most people give me when I tell them about how hard it is to stick to a healthy diet. But then she added something else. She said that I should instead try to focus on resisting temptation half as much. Then when that becomes easier, take it down another half. Each step will get you closer and closer to your goal: eating only healthy foods and having the power to say no to the bad foods.

It helped me to think about it in this way because I tend to have an all or nothing approach when it comes to food. I think, "Well, I've blown my diet by eating that cookie, so I may as well just forget about being good the rest of the day." But if I follow her advice, I can think, "Yeah, I had that cookie. But I'm not going to have any more. If I decide that I want to have a cookie the next time they are offered to me, then I will consider it." By doing this, I can keep myself from just giving in completely each time I stumble. And gradually, the amount of times that I turn down that cookie will grow to be more and more. And that's where habit comes in. They say it takes 3 weeks to turn an action in a habit. So if I'm turning down cookies and cakes when I go to birthday parties or work get-togethers or whatever the case may be, then I am that much stronger, because it doesn't even become an option. And then I can go home and eat a little treat that I have prepared for myself on my Paleo guidelines.

But even if I do give in and have that cookie, it's important not to think of it as the end of the world and totally cave in to devouring everything in site. It also helps to remember that turning down this cookie doesn't mean that you can't ever have another cookie again, which is what I tend to do with my all or nothing approach. And the fact that it isn't completely prohibited makes it just that much less desirable. People always want what they can't have. So by allowing yourself a cookie once in a while, perhaps stick to Paleo or healthier versions, but at least you aren't denying yourself and creating that subconscious pull to the bad food.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Importance of Sleep

It may not be what comes to mind first when you think of weight loss, but sleep is actually a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to losing weight. reports, "studies have shown that people who get an adequate amount of sleep each night (6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep) generally weigh less".  Have you ever noticed that when you get a poor night's sleep, or maybe just not enough sleep, you feel tired and groggy the next day? Big surprise, huh? Well, do you also notice that you are more likely to grab the potato chips or candy bar on those days too? I never really put the two together until I heard about it on a podcast, Dishing Up Nutrition. But now that I know, it's pretty obvious.

I have a hard time getting to bed when I should most nights. That means that I don't usually get enough sleep. And on those nights when I don't get enough sleep, I notice that I am not only grumpy the next day, but I suffer from horrible cravings too. Why is that? Livestrong explains that "Grehlin is a hormone in the body that enhances appetite and can lead to weight gain. Leptin is a hormone in the body that represses appetite and can support weight loss. A lack of sleep disturbs the hormonal balance and the body suffers; the result of insufficient sleep leads to an increase in Grehlin and a decrease in Leptin levels, which inevitably leads to weight gain." WebMD goes on to say that, "... if you aresleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep orgood quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly".

It is reported that each person should get 7.5 hours of sleep or more of sleep each night. That is not just sleep, but good sleep. Waking up several times in the middle doesn't count because your body won't be fooled.

Tips to get a good night's sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine after 2 PM. It's effects can linger long into the evening and disrupt your sleep.
  • Exercise regularly to achieve healthy sleep. 
  • Avoid heavy meals before bed. Also avoid spicy foods which may provoke heartburn and keep you awake.
  • Start and stick to a pattern of going to bed at the same time each night; your body will get used to it and adjust to be ready for it.
  • Start and stick to a pattern of eating healthy at certain times each day. If you plan ahead, you are more likely to stick to eating healthy, which will help you sleep better too.
  • Hydrate well during the day, but avoid excessive liquids before bedtime, which will keep you from getting up multiple times to make trips to the bathroom. 
  • Avoid the computer and television before bed as these tend to stimulate the brain, making it harder to relax. Instead, read a book or write in a journal. These are actives which relax the brain and prepare it for sleep. 

"Adequate sleep is essential for the metabolism and hormones to remain balanced and function properly. Sleep deprivation produces fatigue and stress, and can also lead to other serious health concerns. If you balance your day with sufficient sleep, a healthy diet and moderate exercise, you can retain a healthy weight and feeling of wellness that is beneficial to your overall health." (WebMD)

If you are getting enough sleep each night and still are feeling tired the next day, it is recommended that you speak to your doctor about visiting a sleep specialist.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Recipe: Creamy Broccoli White-Bean Soup
I tried a new recipe last night and I have to give it rave reviews! I was expecting it to be good, as I really enjoy broccoli and beans, but it was super delicious! Definitely above and beyond what I was expecting. It was pretty easy to make too, as long as you don't mind breaking out the blender. But I imagine even the non-blended version of this soup would be yummy too!

I rarely follow a recipe exactly since I usually just end up eyeballing amounts and may add or omit an ingredient depending on my mood, but I can say that I followed this recipe pretty much directly. The only thing I did different was not really paying attention to how much broccoli I used vs. what it called for. Also, at the end, you're supposed to leave some of the chunks of broccoli out to use as garnish, but I forgot, so it all got blended. I heard no complaints. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to make a double batch because it disappeared pretty quickly.

So here is the recipe. I hope you all try it and I hope you like it. I wish I could claim it as my own, but I got it from Whole Living's website.


  • 1 head broccoli (1 pound), cut into florets, stems thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 ounce shaved Parmesan, for serving


  1. Steam broccoli florets and stems until tender
    and bright green, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly.
    Reserve 1/2 cup florets for garnish.
  2. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until translucent, about 6 minutes.
    Add beans and stock and bring mixture to a simmer.
    Remove from heat and add broccoli; puree in batches in a blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish each bowl with broccoli florets, toasted pine nuts, and shaved Parmesan.
    • Yield Serves 4
    My version of the soup. It didn't last long at all!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Weigh In

It's Friday. That means it's the weekend! But it also means weigh-in day!

I have to admit that this week has not been the greatest for me. In fact, it was a bit stressful. I hate making excuses, but I just wasn't able to get motivated this week. I didn't lose much weight, but I didn't gain, so that's a plus! I lost 0.25% according to Thintopia, which puts me at about 196 instead of the 196.5 I was at last week for weigh in.
Aside from just keeping any and all trigger foods out of the house so as not to tempt me, I've come up with little ways to remind myself to stay on track. It is only as strong as you allow it to be, but they are pretty helpful.

3 Tips to Stay On Track:

  1.  Buy a set of window markers. You can get them at Wal-Mart and probably many other stores too. I found them in the office section with the other pens, pencils, and markers. They are markers that you can use to write on windows or mirrors and they wipe off, leaving no trace of the marker behind. I happen to know that they come out of clothing well too! I use these markers to leave myself notes around the house. I have some written on the bathroom mirror, on a dry-erase board in the kitchen, and even a little decorative mirror hanging by my front door. On the mirrors I write different quotes that inspire me, different messages to remind me why I want to lose the weight, and even little notes that my husband leaves me to keep me going. It's very handy and you can change the messages as often as you like, without having to use a ton of Post-It Notes. 
  2. Get a support buddy. My husband is my buddy. As I mentioned before, he will be strong for me when I feel I'm about to cave to temptation. It doesn't always work, and I don't always listen to him, but the majority of the time, it helps so much! Even if they aren't there with you physically, you can still text/call/email to let them know that you're feeling weak and they will be there for you and remind you of all the reasons to stick to the plan. It's great!
  3. Wear form fitting clothing. I have a habit of wearing dresses or pj's often. I work from home, so I don't technically have to get dressed each day. This is a problem though. If you don't wear your jeans or your pants, then you can't tell when you're outgrowing them. My mom always said that if you wear baggy clothing, you'll grow to fit them. If you wear form fitting clothing, you are more aware of what you eat because they only stretch so far.
I hope my tips can be a little helpful for you and I hope you all are doing well with your weigh-ins. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Plan Ahead

They say that if you want to be successful with your diet/lifestyle/way of eating that you need to be proactive. Plan ahead. If you think about it, when is the time that you feel the cravings the most? When are you most likely to give in? It happens when you haven't planned out your next meal, right? Whether that means you've gone an hour or two past dinner time or whether you head to the kitchen to try to make a meal out of something you will try to throw together. When you're hungry, or when your food options are limited, we're much more likely to make poor choices.

I've never been all that great with planning ahead. My usual style was to wake up, wait until my stomach reminds me that I need to eat, and head to the kitchen to see what sounded good. That means that my blood sugar level is pretty low and I'm much more likely to grab a piece of bread with some peanut butter and honey on it. And then another. And another. And another. And then to wash it down, maybe some chocolate milk? Then, when I was really bad, I'd wait until I got so hungry that the thought of waiting to cook would be so horrible I would run through the drive through of the nearest fast-food restaurant.

That's how I used to do it. Now I don't eat bread, I definitely don't eat fast food, and I know that you should eat soon after waking, not only to kick start your metabolism, but to also fuel you for your day. It's been proven that people of all ages perform better at school and work when properly fueled in the morning, typically within 30 - 60 minutes of rising. This breakfast does not mean a glass of orange juice and toast. Listening to a podcast from Nutritional Weight and Wellness, called Dishing Up Nutrition, I have learned that a glass of orange juice is actually worse for you than a can of pop. Considering that a can of pop offers absolutely nothing of value, how does that make sense? If you think about how many oranges you eat when you want a snack, I'll bet most of you will stop at one, right? Now think about how much juice is in one orange. You would need several oranges to fill a normal sized glass of orange juice. Oranges are natural foods, but they're also very high in sugar. And your body does not need that much.

Toast is very similar; although not considered a sweet food, it is a refined carbohydrate. Next time you pick up a bag of processed carbs, look at the nutritional label. Find how many grams of carbohydrates there are and divide by 4. So if your serving of bread (toast) contains 24 grams of carbohydrates and you divide 24 by 4, you end up with 6. That is how many teaspoons of sugar those 24 grams of carbohydrates converts to. So you start your day loaded up on sugar, which takes your blood sugar high. And what happens to all things that go up? They must come down. And this is usually in the form of a blood sugar crash. And that is when you end up starving an hour later, searching the halls for a vending machine to grab a Snickers or a Twix, which only repeats the cycle.

So the lesson for today is not only to eat a healthy, balanced breakfast including 1 healthy protein, 1 healthy fat, and 1 healthy unprocessed carbohydrate soon after rising, but also to plan ahead. Think about when you are able to eat and what you will have available. The best leaders always form a plan before going into action. You shouldn't be any less considerate to your body. If you know for a fact you're going to have salmon and asparagus for lunch at 12:05, then you'll be much less likely to either munch on chips at your desk at 11:15 or to wait until 1:30 before realizing your stomach is growling and go off in search of that candy bar.

One of my good friends is a meal planning goddess!! (Link to her blog here) She knows what she's doing. I've picked up some tips from her over the last year or so and hope to come up with a good Paleo-style meal plan for 30 days, including a grocery list, to help me get on track... and I'm sure my husband would appreciate a few new recipes to add variety to his meals too. I'll work on that and post it when I'm finished so you can see what it looks like and maybe come up with a meal plan for yourself!

That's all for now. Until next time!