by Melanie

Day 20 of Whole 30, Sprout’s Farmers Market + New Saucony Kinvara 5 Shoes!

January 24, 2015 in Deep Thoughts, Meal Ideas, Motivation, Running, Weight Loss, Whole 30 by Melanie

Well folks, I’m almost done with day #20 of Whole 30!

It’s still hard and takes commitment, but it’s almost becoming second nature to me.

I’ve definitely found some foods/recipes that I enjoy and it’s made it a lot simpler.  I know there are a million different “gourmet” Whole 30 recipes out there, but I’ve chosen to keep it very simple.  I pretty much eat a lot of the same things most days.  Yes, it’s getting old, but the simplicity actually helps me.

Here are the basic things I eat; veggie/egg creations, sweet potato chips with guacamole, green smoothies with limited fruit, stir-fry creations with veggies and leftover meat, roasted veggies, salads, apples, bananas with almond butter, berries, leftover meat and/or deli meat and that’s about it!

I’ve tried to make different things for dinner though.  The last few weeks I’ve made things like Tacos (taco salad for me), Pot Roast and mashed potatoes, Beef Stew, Pancakes for the kids (omelet for me!), Turkey Burgers (bunless for me), Grilled Chicken with salad and fruit and Grilled Chicken with baked potatoes (sweet potato for me.)

I also plan to make Chicken Stew, Vegetable Soup and some sort of Spaghetti Squash creation this next week.

Yes, I feel like I’m cooking all the time!  It’s kind of a pain, but I also feel a sense of accomplishment.  I know it’s VITAL that I always have good food choices available and convenient for me.  I always have a stash of roasted veggies, some sort of protein (leftover chicken, turkey burgers, roast, deli meat), sweet potato chips, guacamole and bananas on hand at all times.

I still have cravings from time to time, but it’s usually when I’m hungry.  I’ve tried to train my brain to “not to go there” and not think about all of the foods I wish I could eat!  I also like to always have a plan and know what my next meal will be.

Surprisingly, I really haven’t been eating that many salads!  When I first started Whole 30, I thought I would have a salad every day.  However, I really only eat a salad every 3-4 days or so.  I’ve been enjoying my veggies warm or in green smoothies instead.  I did have this yummy salad a few days ago…

My yummy Whole 30 Salad

It was just romaine, apples, leftover chicken, slivered almonds and snap peas topped with a drizzle of Balsamic Vinaigrette and Frank’s Buffalo Hot Sauce.  I LOVE apples and chicken together in a salad!

I also had this the other day that I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED…

Cauliflower rice, Chicken and green salsa

I know that looks sick, but it was so good!  It was just some of my Cauliflower Rice topped with leftover grilled chicken and green salsa!  SO GOOD!

In fact, I think I’ll cook up some more Cauliflower rice tonight and get some chicken marinating.

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We did go out to dinner at the CHEESECAKE FACTORY (aauughh!) a couple nights ago with some friends.  Even though their “menu book” has a bazillion choices in it, I felt like I could only eat a couple of things on the menu.

It was very depressing.  I ended up ordering the Cobb salad without the bleu cheese…

My Cobb salad from Cheesecake factory minus the cheese

It was a great salad, but the cheese was very much missed.  It definitely adds so much flavor!  We had such a fun time with our friends though…

Cheesecake Factory with friends

However, they all ordered cheesecake after dinner (auuughhh!)

Cheesecake from Cheesecake factory

Doesn’t that look insanely good??!!!  Yes, I was dying and probably could’ve polished off all three of them myself!  In fact, I should just delete that picture from my blog because it is so painful, lol.

I was very proud of myself for staying strong!

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I’m happy to say that a new Sprouts Farmer’s Market store opened near my house a couple weeks ago!

Sprouts

I am in heaven!  Sprout’s reminds me a lot of Trader Joe’s in that it offers great quality, natural foods at great prices!  I’ve gone twice now and it’s been so busy both times!  I’ve had to wait in line about 15-20 minutes, but it was worth it.  I’m sure the crowds will die down soon…I hope.

The kiddos and I at Sprouts

Thankfully, the kiddos have been very patient.

I’ve been amazed by the quality produce and good deals!  I bought a TON of their boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.77/lb. and portioned it out into freezer bags to use for dinner or grilling.  I also bought a TON of their berries because the blueberries/raspberries were only 88 cents a box!  The strawberries were $2.50/2 lbs., which is a very good deal this time of year!

My Sprouts purchases berries and chicken

I got some other good deals like Organic apples for 99 cents/lb. and small pineapples for a dollar!  LOVE!

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I recently got some new running shoes that I am in love with!

My Saucony Kinvara 5 shoes 2 pics

They are Saucony Kinvara 5’s and I love them!  I’ve been an Asics running shoe lady the past several years, but I wanted to try something new this time.  I did a lot of research and decided to try the Kinvara 5.  I think I made the right choice!

First off, I love the bright colors!  They are also light weight and very roomy.  They are very comfortable!  FYI, I usually wear an 8 or an 8 1/2 in regular shoes, but I get a 9 in running shoes.  However, I read several reviews and most of them recommended getting these shoes a 1/2 size bigger than you usually get.  Soooo, I got a 9 1/2, but they fit perfectly!  I’m so glad I got the bigger size.

Oh, and they retail for $100, but I found them on Ebay for $67!  Boom.

I ran on the treadmill this morning and felt great!  I only ran 3.75 miles, but it was just perfect for me right now.

Me running on the treadmill

I think my “normal speed” right now is right around a 9 minute mile.  I still want to speed up quite a bit, but I’m happy to be making progress.  I can definitely feel a difference as I’m losing weight too!

Seriously!

I’ve been going to a great class at the gym on Tuesday nights.  It’s been different every week; tabatas, kick boxing, circuit training, weights, etc. and I love it so much!  It’s so tough and such a great workout!

Anyway, the first week I went (3 weeks ago), I felt heavy and out of shape.  I pushed myself very hard, but it was tough to move my body quickly and I didn’t feel very agile.  It’s kind of hard to explain, but it was an interesting spot to be in.  My mind still thought my body should be able to jump up and down quickly and easily, but my body didn’t want to cooperate.

It was very frustrating.

However, I’ve noticed progress each week!  I can move my body so much easier now and I feel lighter!  I’m starting to feel like my old self again!!!  Wahoo!

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Well, it’s getting late and I want to spend the rest of my Saturday night with my sweet husband, so I better end this.

I just want to say that eating a healthy diet is hard, but very, very rewarding.  I LOVE sugar so much and I’m missing all of my favorite treats, but the joy and happiness I feel from eating my favorite foods is so short lived!  Eating well and losing weight is slow and the results aren’t instantaneous, but the effects are much more satisfying and last a lot longer!

So, with that being said, I’m going to keep on pluggin’ along!  I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!

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by Melanie

Healthy Eating, Exercising and LOSING weight on Whole 30!

January 20, 2015 in Exercise, Meal Ideas, Motivation, Nutrition, Restaurant Food, Weight Loss, Whole 30 by Melanie

Hello everyone!  Yes, I’m still alive.

Ya know, I get asked all the time, “How do you find time to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, take care of 6 kids and a husband AND blog about it all?”

My answer is always, “It….Is…..NOT….easy!”

But, I love it!

However, when my blog isn’t updated for a while, it’s probably because I’m busy exercising, preparing healthy meals, spending time with my family and/or occasionally sleeping.

There are not enough hours in my day….seriously.

I also must say that preparing meals/snacks for Whole 30 takes quite a bit of extra time.  I’ve also kicked my exercise schedule up a notch and I love it, but it takes extra time too. :-)

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Soooo, I have a zillion pictures/things to share with you guys!

First off, I’m still going strong with Whole 30!  It’s very tough at times and takes a TON of mental strength, but I love it and know it’s so good for me.

I’ve stayed on track 99.9% of the time, but I have allowed myself a half stick of chewing gum (I’m not supposed to have sweeteners) from time to time and I’m okay with that.  I also realized that the Seasoned Salt I’ve been using has sugar in it!??!  Who knew??  I was also at my sister’s house the other day and she offered me some turkey jerky.  After I had eaten a couple pieces, I realized it had sugar in it too!!

WTFreak?  I think everything has sugar in it.

So, other than those few weird “issues,” I’ve stayed right on track!

I’ve been making lots of interesting Whole 30 concoctions….

Various Whole 30 creations

I usually throw together various veggies, eggs and/or meat and top it with salsa, hot sauce or guacamole.  Sometimes it sounds good to me, sometimes it doesn’t, but I always eat it either way!

I’ve still been making green smoothies most days and usually have it with a side of chicken or turkey.

Green Smoothie and chicken

My smoothies are pretty boring, but they’re always refreshing.  It’s usually a mixture of unsweetened coconut milk, water, some type of frozen fruit (usually banana or berries,) spinach or kale, maybe a little cucumber, chia seeds, nuts and ice!

This has been my all-time favorite snack

My favorite Whole 30 food sweet potato chips and guacamole

Homemade guacamole and sweet potato chips!  Yuuuuu……uuummmmm!

I’ve pretty much had a constant stash of these in my fridge at all times.  There are many times when I’m so dang sick of veggies and NOTHING sounds good to me……and that’s when I pull out my chips and guac!

I also have a stash of roasted veggies in the fridge at all times…

Roasted veggies

I also made a batch of Cauliflower “Rice” the other day and it was great!

Roasted Cauliflower Rice

Some day I’ll put the official “recipe” on here, but for now I’ll quickly tell you guys how I make it.

  • Wash a head of cauliflower and cut it into florets.
  • Put the florets in a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower becomes small pieces that look like rice.
  • You can cook the “rice” many ways, but my favorite way is to roast it.
    • Spread the “rice” out on a foil lined pan (sprayed with oil.)
    • Drizzle a little olive oil on top.
    • Sprinkle with seasoned salt (or seasonings of your choice)
    • Roast at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes until slightly browned.  Enjoy!

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I’ve only been out to eat ONCE in the past 16 days!  Kev and I took our oldest son out to eat at Chili’s over the weekend…

At Chili's with T and C

My son ordered the biggest, yummiest looking burger and I really wanted to eat it!!!  However, I ordered myself the 6 oz. sirloin with grilled avocado and tomato with a salad on the side….and took a blurry picture of it!

My steak, avocado, tomato, salad plate at Chili'sIt was very good, but not very filling.  It was one of the few items on the menu that was Whole 30 compliant.  I did have to pick the pieces of Feta cheese out of the salad though. :-(

We had a fun night and it was nice to eat food that I didn’t have to fix myself!

We also went up to my parent’s house Sunday night for a potluck dinner with my brothers and sisters.  My mom asked ME to bring dessert!!???!

Seriously.

I made some Caramel Brownies and chocolate cupcakes with the best frosting on the planet!

I didn’t take any pictures (boo), but I’m happy to say that I didn’t eat ANY of the desserts I made, not even a lick of the spoon.  I was so proud.

I was also worried that there wouldn’t be much food I could eat at my mom’s house, so before we left, I ate this….

My Salad and grapes I ate before heading up to my mom's house

A random salad made up of romaine, snap peas, hard boiled eggs and Frank’s Buffalo Hot Sauce.  I also had some grapes on the side.

Interesting and random, I know.

I was glad I ate it though, because THIS was the only thing I could eat at my mom’s house…

Me with my salad up at my mom's house

A BIG plate of salad.  I had to pick the Feta cheese out of this salad too!

This “diet” definitely takes a lot of hard work, determination and freakish willpower!  I love it though and I’m happy to say I’m seein’ some results!!!

I’m not “allowed” to weigh myself on Whole 30, so I’m not sure how much weight I’ve lost, but I can actually SEE the difference!

It was quite interesting because I didn’t notice much of a difference the first 8-9 days, but then it seemed like a bunch of weight fell off of me!  All of my clothes fit so much better and my beautiful muffin top has totally gone down!  It’s been seriously miraculous.

I’m so happy about it and very encouraged!  It’s exactly what I needed to keep me goin’.

I had Kev take a picture of me on Sunday, but I’m not sure if you can actually see any difference.  Nonetheless, here ya go…

Picture of me half way through Whole 30

I did take a few scary “before” pictures when I first started Whole 30, but I’m saving those “gems” for the end.  Oy.

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I’m also happy to say that I’ve been kickin’ some serious butt in the exercise department.  I’ve been loving the new Vasa Fitness gym that opened near my house!  It is so beautiful and it’s so nice to have it so close!

I’ve found a couple great classes there that I’ve loved!  I’ve also been meeting some friends there at 6:30 AM, three times a week to do the Jamie Eason LiveFit Trainer workouts.  It’s been great!

I still feel “fluffy” and I definitely still have weight to lose and muscles to tone up/show up, but I’m happy to see some progress!

I have so many more things I could share, but I think I will end this!  So far, I would recommend Whole 30 to anyone!  It’s hard, but awesome.

I hope you are all healthy and happy!

xoxo

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by Melanie

The Chicco KeyFit 30 Car Seat and Activ3 Jogging Stroller

January 13, 2015 in Baby, Product Review by Melanie

Chicco, the largest baby brand in all of Europe, has produced top quality, safe baby products for over 50 years.  I’ve owned several Chicco (pronounced “kee-ko”) products and have loved and been impressed with each one.

When I was expecting baby #6, I knew I wanted the safest car seat available.  After doing a little research, I found the Chicco KeyFit 30 car seat and knew it was the perfect seat for us.

It’s the #1 rated car seat, the easiest car seat to install correctly and is available in a BUNCH of different styles and colors!  I also read countless positive reviews about this car seat on several different websites.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review not only the Chicco KeyFit 30 car seat, but the compatible Chicco Activ3 Jogging Stroller as well!

Chicco Car Seat and Stroller

My baby is now 4 1/2 months old and I have LOVED both the car seat and the jogging stroller so much!  I wish I had had them with all of my babies.

The KeyFit 30 is made for babies from 4-30 pounds.  When I first put my brand new baby in the car seat to take him home from the hospital, he looked comfortable and secure

Leaving the hospital with baby in car seat

I love the removable newborn insert, thickly cushioned seat pads, shoulder pads and 5 point harness.  Everything seemed to cradle my tiny baby perfectly and I was thrilled to see that it helped to support his head as well.  I also loved that I could tighten and loosen the straps of this car seat so easily and with one hand.

When we got home from the hospital, my baby had fallen asleep.  I was happy to see how comfortable and peaceful he looked.

Baby asleep in car seat

I have also loved the canopy with the foldout sunshade.  When my baby was about a month old, I went over to the Elementary school to support my older kids during the school’s jog-a-thon.  It was about 90 degrees out and I was so happy to have the sunshade to protect my baby…

Baby in stroller at the park

I have also loved, loved, loved the base that comes with this car seat and how quick and easy it is to install!  It feels very secure, which gives me great peace of mind.

The latches clip in so easily and the center pull adjustment strap tightens the base down securely.

Chicco KeyFit 30 Car Seat Latch

I also LOVE the spring-assisted leveling foot which helps to achieve the proper seat angle.  Brilliant!

Chicco adjustable car seat base

The bubble indicators on both sides of the base also help to make sure the base is installed accurately.

Chicco car seat base indicator

I’ve dealt with a lot of car seats in my life and have always tried to make sure to install them correctly in my vehicles.  However, when I installed THIS base/seat in my van, I felt 100% positive that it was installed correctly and that my baby was safe and secure.

The Chicco KeyFit 30 car seat is compatible with a wide array of strollers, but I’ve also loved how easily it snaps into the Chicco Activ3 Jogging Stroller!

Chicco Activ3 Jogging Stroller with KeyFit 30 Car Seat

I’m a big fan of car seat/stroller combos because it makes it so simple to transport the baby.  It’s so nice to not have to wake up a sleeping baby to put them in a stroller or back into the car.

The Chicco Activ3 jogging stroller is top quality, comfortable, handles like a breeze and is loaded with features.

Chicco Activ3 Jogging Stroller Comfort and Convenience features

The canopy is already large, but if you unzip it, it extends even more!  I have loved that feature so much.

When my baby was only a couple months old, I brought him to one of my kid’s soccer games.  It was quite cold and windy out and I was so grateful for this stroller and the large canopy!  I was able to extend the canopy over the car seat, without even unzipping it, and my baby stayed warm and safe from the elements.

me with stroller at soccer game

I have also loved the access tray on the stroller.  It’s been so nice to have a place to hold water bottles, my keys, baby toys, my cell phone and all the other random stuff I seem to carry with me.

I love the large basket underneath and love how easily the seat reclines.  I can quickly recline the seat just using one hand.  Every part of this stroller maneuvers and handles so smoothly.

I love the height adjustable handlebar and the hand operated brake and swivel lock controls that are located up near the handlebar.  They are easy to operate and feel very secure.

Chicco Activ3 Jogging Stroller Hand Locks

The swivel lock keeps the front wheel from swiveling and keeps it stable for jogging.  Since my baby is still quite small (and it’s winter!), I haven’t used this stroller for jogging yet.  However, it’s so nice to have the option and I’m sure I will love it this spring.

Another feature that I love about this stroller is how compactly it folds.  Jogging strollers can be big and bulky and hard to fit into a vehicle.  I’ve been impressed with how easily I’ve been able to fit this stroller into the back of my van.

This video perfectly demonstrates the folding options of the Chicco Activ3 Jogging Stroller

Love it!

The Chicco KeyFit 30 car seat and compatible Activ3 Jogging Stroller are both wonderful options for babies and parents.  I’ve been so impressed with the convenience, maneuverability and safety of these products.  I would highly recommend them to any parent.

You can find more information about these products and other great Chicco products, by visiting their website, www.chiccousa.com

Chicco provided me with the car seat and stroller in exchange for my honest review.  All of the text and opinions are entirely my own.  I only promote and recommend companies and products that I truly love and would use myself.
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