by Melanie

Refocusing…

August 30, 2011 in Exercise, Nutrition, Recipe by Melanie

I’ve been wanting to hop on here and do a quick blog post for days!!!  We’ve been crazy and I’m worried that this “crazy” is the new “normal.”  Eeeek.

However, the kids are back in school.  I love them very much, but….

WAHOOO!

I get to have a somewhat organized and scheduled life again.

Phewwww.

With this new found organization and schedule, I’m feeling particularly motivated.  I’ve been somewhat of a morning person too!!

Gasp, I know!

Since my 12 year old is in Junior High now, I have to wake him up at 6:30.  That might not sound all that early to some of you.

It is early to me.

I don’t want to wake up and be a tired, groggy, ornery mom, sooooo….I figure I have to wake up early anyway, I might as well make the most of it.

So, I’ve been going to bed earlier!  Yay!

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I’ve always loved mornings, but the problem is I’ve always loved nights too.  Sadly, I’ve realized I can’t be a morning and a night person and expect to have any sort of energy or motivation.

It’s not that hard of a concept, but for some reason I’ve struggled with it my whole life!

I’m so productive at night because it’s quiet and the kids are sleeping.  It’s hard for me to just “go to bed” when I have so much to do.

But, I don’t like being tired all the time, so I’m not going to be!

I’m going to be disciplined.

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So, this morning I went on a quick 4 mile run.

I really love running in the morning.  It is so refreshing.  It’s also so nice to have my workout done first thing!

Check!

I must say though that (as usual) I DID NOT feel like running this morning.  I went to my favorite Boot Camp class last night (which, btw was not cancelled, but just moved to a different gym, yay!).

That class kicks my can every time!  I feel like I work every muscle (some I didn’t know I had!) in my body.

I’m sore EVERY time.  I love it!

Anyway, I was sore this morning and felt like an 85 year old lady.  It also didn’t help that my 1 year old was up in the night crying because he’s getting a million teeth right now.

Excuses, I know.

My mind starting thinking, “Oh, I’ll just run with the kids in the jogger a little later.”, or “I’ll run on the treadmill”, or “I’ll run later tonight.”

I’ve learned when I start thinking like that, I need to just turn my mind on “auto-pilot” and get up and get it done!

The minute I walked out the front door, I felt motivated.  I was so happy to be out there and glad I didn’t procrastinate!

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When I got home,  I had a very yummy protein shake.

Love it!

Here it is…

Almond Joy Protein Shake

(recipe adapted from www.pimpmyproteinshake.blogspot.com)

  • 1 scoop Chocolate Protein Powder
  • 1/2 C. Coconut Milk (you could use Skim milk, Almond milk or water!)
  • 1/4 C. Water
  • 1/4 C. Cottage Cheese
  • 1 T. PB2 (or use any all-natural Nut Butters)
  • 1/2 tsp. Almond Extract
  • 1 T. Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1 T. Cocoa Powder
  • Spinach (optional)
  • Ice cubes

Here’s everything you need minus the spinach, water and ice. I bought the Protein Powder at Costco, the Unsweetened Coconut at Sunflower Market, the PB2 online and everything else at Walmart.

Almond-Joy-Protein-Shake-Ingredients

Add liquids first (Milk, Water, Cottage Cheese, Extract)

Add everything else (Protein Powder, PB2, Coconut, Cocoa)

Mix well in blender.

Almond-Joy-Protein-Shake-Blender

Add Spinach (sorry, I always do)

Almond-Joy-Protein-Shake-with-Spinach

Mix well.

Almond-Joy-Protein-Shake-mixed-with-Spinach

Add Ice and mix well!

Almond-Joy-Protein-Shake

Enjoy!

My 3 year old and 1 year old love my protein shakes so much that every time I make one, I have a little entourage that follows me around the house.  I usually pour some into cups for them and they love it!

Btw, that is a toy snake in the background, but it looks kinda real in this pic. Freaky.

Baby-with-Almond-Joy-Protein-Shake

I love this shake.  I love the flavor of almond extract and I love the little coconut bits in it.  Yum.  I may add some coconut extract next time to add a little more coconut flavor.  We’ll see.  Oh, and the way I made it is about 260 calories (add more or less if you use different liquids or real peanut butter.)

K, here’s a little 411 about some of the ingredients I used.

Coconut Milk (I buy So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk)

coconut milk

You can buy this anywhere….you just need to know where to find it.  You can find it in the Ethnic food aisle (usually by the Asian stuff) or I’ve found it in the milk section (refrigerated and non-refrigerated) by the other kinds of milk (rice, almond, soy, etc.)

  • Only 50 calories per Cup
  • 5 g. fat per cup (but it’s the healthy beneficial kind of fat!)
  • Coconut Milk has also been known to help people lose weight, boost the immune system, fight disease and help lower the risk of heart disease!

So drink up!!!  If you want to read more about the health benefits, click here.

PB2

PB2

This “food” is a stroke of genius!!  I read about this on the internet and one of my good “peanut butter lovin” friends told me how much she liked this.  I decided to give it a try and I LoooVE it!  It’s basically like peanut butter (in powdered form) with a bunch of the fat and calories taken out!!  Who knew??  They keep it “all-natural” too and don’t use any chemicals, preservatives or artificial sweeteners.  Awesome.  Two tablespoons of this stuff is only 45 calories!  You basically mix 1 part water with 2 parts PB2, create your peanut butter and use it how you please.  I also just use the powder in my protein shakes or in baking too!  I bought this online.  For more info, go here.

Unsweetened Coconut

unsweetened coconut

I’ve been surprised at how “non-readily” available this is!  I’ve only been able to find it at Sunflower Market or Whole Foods.  It might be at Smiths too, I need to double check.  I love it though because you get all of the coconut flavor without all the sugar!  Yay!  I don’t have any sweetened coconut in my house, so I don’t know the nutritional facts for it, but unsweetened is 100 calories, 1 gram of sugar and 10 grams of fat for 3 Tablespoons (I usually just use 1 T though).  It’s all healthy and all natural.  Love it.  Oh, and I love love love Bob’s Red Mill stuff!  He is the bomb…that dude comes up with everything!  Love him!

So, go buy all these funky ingredients and have fun using them, K?

I will also share with you a yummy dinner I made last night.  It’s one of my favs because it’s so so so healthy and perty easy too!

Easy, Yummy, Healthy Chicken Veggie Stirfry

This is why I LOVE this recipe…

Veggies-for-Stirfry

It’s an awesome way to eat tons of yummy veggies!

This really isn’t a recipe, but this is how I make it.

  • Prepare and marinate chicken before hand.  If I have time, I use my yummy marinade.  If I don’t have time, I use my easy marinade.  When Kev gets home, I have him grill it.  Love that!
  • Cut up any veggies you want to use.  I usually use the following: broccoli or broccoli slaw, carrots, celery, green peas, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, green beans, sugar snap peas, and whatever else I have on hand.  You could even use little corn cob thingys or water chestnuts.  Whatever.
  • Cut up, slice, chop, etc. all your veggies (a food processor or mini chopper makes this SO MUCH simpler!)

Chopped-Veggies-for-Stirfry

Throw all the “harder” veggies into a wok or big ‘ol electric frying pan (preheated with 1-2 T. Olive Oil).

Stirfry-Veggies

Cook them for a little while (maybe 5-7 minutes), then add a little seasoning salt and lite soy sauce to taste.

Seasoned-Salt-Soy-Sauce

Then add any softer veggies like broccoli slaw, green peas, corn, etc.  Btw, I really love broccoli slaw…lots of nutrition without a lot of work!

Broccoli-Slaw

After I added the broccoli slaw…

Veggies-Broccoli-Slaw-Stirfry

Cook and stir occasionally for 5-10 more minutes depending on how crunchy you like your veggies.  There is no “right” or “wrong”, it’s just personal preference.  I like mine on the crunchier side.  You can also add more seasoning salt or soy sauce if needed.

stir fry veggies

Serve with quinoa or brown rice…

quinoa

Here’s my cooked quinoa.  If you want to know more about it and how to cook it, click here.

Serve with grilled chicken on the side or cut up and mixed in!

I also made a “clean out the fridge” fruit salad to go with it…

mega fruit salad

Here’s my plate…

chicken, stir fry veggies and fruit

Kev and I both love this meal, but I must say that my kids are not big fans.  They don’t love rice or quinoa too much and they prefer their veggies not all mixed together.  They love the chicken and fruit though.  I always get complaints when we have this, but I remind them that their mom loves them and wants them to be healthy! ;-)

That is all…easy, healthy, and yummy!  Love it!

Oh, one more fun little thingy…

I ran a free “just for fun” 5k that my church organized on Saturday morning.  It was so much fun!!!  I didn’t have my running watch though, so I felt like I was running blind.  However, the good news is because I was “running blind”, I didn’t know exactly how fast I was going and couldn’t really pace myself.  I ended up finishing faster than I thought I could (24:15, 7.48 pace) and came in 2nd place for all the women (probably because most of them walked it!) ;-)  I was happy about it though!  Yay!

Here’s a pic with my little ribbon.  Fun.

me after running the church 5k

’till next time!  Hopefully soon!!!

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by Melanie

Be Empowered!

August 25, 2011 in Nutrition, Recipe by Melanie

Sorry guys, I’ve been a little MIA…

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I just dropped off my 12 year old for his first day of Middle School this morning!!

I’m kind of freaking out.

Time flies, ya know???  It seems like he was just a little baby a few years ago…and I feel like I was just in Middle School a few years ago!!??

How does that happen?!

!?!?!?!?!!!!

I guess it’s just another reminder that I need to seize the day and get a handle on my health and my life before I’m a little old lady, huh.

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I have always valued health.  I haven’t always been committed to it, but I’ve always known it’s important.

I’ve exercised fairly regularly most of my life.

When I was 14 or so, my sister and our friends would workout to Jane Fonda videos in the basement.

It was fun.

I joined my first gym when I was 16 and loved it.  For most of my life I’ve usually either gone to the gym, done exercise videos, or created my own workouts at home.  I also started running about 3 years ago…LOVE it!

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However, I must say that sometimes I’ve been an exercising slacker.

For big chunks at a time too.

Like the last few months of pregnancy or when I have little tiny babies at home.  At those times, just surviving is about all I can handle…;-)

Or sometimes, I just really don’t feel motivated to exercise…at all.  But, I love it in a weird sorta way.

I don’t love the time commitment, hard work and effort it takes…but, I do love the physical and emotional satisfaction I feel afterward.

I love pushing myself and feeling strong and empowered.

I love feeling disciplined.  It is worth every minute I put into it.

My body will thank me. ;-)

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I’ve been a pretty decent eater most of my life.  I’ll admit, my idea of “healthy eating” has changed quite a bit over the years.

When we were first married, I tried to include vegetables with dinner every night.  I ate whole wheat bread, brown rice (although I always made white rice for Kev!), chicken, eggs and had cereal for breakfast most mornings.

I thought I was A-OK.

About 4 years ago, I really started to discover what it means to eat healthy.  My sister introduced me to a book by Tosca Reno called “The Eat-Clean Diet.”

LOVE it!

Tosca Reno Eat Clean Diet Recharged
It’s basically a straight-forward “eat real food” kind of diet.  It seemed to make sense to me.

It intimidated the heck out of me though.

The book introduced me to things I had never heard of like Agave Nectar, Kefir and all kinds of funky grains and flours.  I started to improve my diet and take a lot of her advice, minus all of the funky intimidating stuff.

I eventually started to include a lot of the funky stuff too.

Now, I think it’s kind of fun to discover new healthy ways to eat.  I love checking health books out at the library, reading health magazines, searching the internet and learning more and more.

Sooooo, I will share what I learn with you!

If I ever use a “funky” ingredient, I will tell you everything you need to know so it won’t be so “funky” anymore.

K?

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With that being said, here are a few (not so funky) things I’ve been eating lately.

I’ve been feeling very very worn out and run down lately, so I’ve kept breakfast pretty simple and “comforty”….

Egg whites (with a little ketchup) and a side of fruit

Egg-Whites-with-Fruit

OR

Cereal with Fruit

Healthy-Cereal-with-Strawberries

These are some of my favs…Uncle Sam (bought at Walmart) and Flax Plus (Costco).

Uncle-Sam-Flax-Plus

Uncle Sam is an amazing cereal!  10 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of sugar!  WOW!  Love it! 

Oh, and the ingredients are: Whole wheat kernels, whole flaxseed, salt, barley malt.

That is it.

It’s pretty tasty too.  I eat it topped with a little fruit or mix in a little Flax Plus to sweeten it up sometimes too.

Flax Plus is pretty awesome itself (5 grams fiber and 6 grams protein).  It does have a higher sugar content (10 grams), but it contains all real and healthy ingredients.  I just use it as an accent.  Oh, I also love any cereal made by Kashi (Go Lean is my fav!) and Fiber One cereal is good too!

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For lunch the other day, we had BLTs!  Yummy!

I used Turkey Bacon for the “B”,

Jennie-O Natural (no nitrates/nitrites) Turkey Bacon. 40 calories, 2 grams fat, 6 grams protein per slice! Not bad!

Uncured-Turkey-Bacon

Iceberg for the “L”, and tomatoes from our garden for the “T”.

Lettuce-and-Tomatoes

I put all the yummy ingredients on these yummy sandwich thins I found at Walmart.

Thinwich sandwich thins

Served with a side of leftover veggies.

BLT-Sandwich-with-Veggies

Guess what I had for lunch the following day too???

BLT + C salad

BLT+C Salad!

I just threw leftover iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, crumpled turkey bacon and cucumbers (because we have a million of them in the garden right now!) together and topped it all with a little mustard.  Very yummy!

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The other night we had a crazy night….so I just made breakfast for dinner!

Healthy Whole Wheat Waffles with egg whites!

whole wheat waffles and egg whites

I topped mine with a little Smart Balance spread, sugar-free syrup and fruit! YUM!

Easy, yummy, and the kids loved them!!!

I gotta go to bed….I am draggggggggggggin’

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by Melanie

Excuses, excuses!

August 20, 2011 in Exercise, Nutrition by Melanie

Are you “guilty” of or have you ever been “guilty” of any of the following….

  • Avoiding getting your picture taken or hiding behind someone in a picture because you don’t like how you look.
  • Avoiding the gym because you’re embarrassed about how you look.
  • Not running/exercising outside because you’re embarrassed about how you look.
  • Avoiding get-togethers with friends because you’ve “let yourself go”….
  • Hanging onto an old pair of jeans that are too small because “someday” you will fit into them again.
  • Not getting on the scale because, well….reality bites.
  • Eating a whole (insert favorite indulgent food here) because you’re stressed, tired, depressed….etc.
  • Giving up on trying to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, etc. because it’s too hard and the results aren’t happening fast enough.

Guess what, I have been guilty of ALL of those!!!

And, it’s not fun.

If you are guilty of any of those (or other similar things), I’m here to say….STOP IT!

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If you are not happy with how you look, your weight, your lifestyle, health, etc….you can change it!!!  It is freakin’ hard and it is a lifetime commitment….but it is so worth it!

Btw, I’m giving myself this pep talk too. ;-)

As you well know, I am not a pro….at all.  I have to motivate and recommit myself every…single…day!

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I gotta tell you a (not so) funny story….

Soon after I had my last baby (in April, 2010), I was anxious to get back into shape.  My baby was about 6 weeks old and I decided I wanted to start running again.

I was SOOOO out of shape that I could barely run a mile (and it was a very slow mile)!

Well, one day I was out running the block around my neighborhood.  I was wearing my baggy capri sweats and a big oversized t-shirt because it was the only “exercisy” clothes that fit me

I did not feel cute….at all.

I ran past this amazingly cute runner lady who was wearing a very cute matchy running outfit and looked very fit.

As she ran past me, she gave me a thumbs up and said, “You’re doin’ great!”

Mmmmm Kay…..

I know she was trying to be nice….

But I thought, “Dang, do I really look that pathetic!???”

Dang.

I appreciated her encouragement though. :-)

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I gotta tell ya….I gained a ton of weight with my last pregnancy.

It was not pretty.

I think my face was bigger than my belly.

In my defense, I have to say that I felt pretty grody (yes, I still use that word) at least half of my pregnancy.  My motivation to eat healthy and exercise regularly was pretty much zilch.   Also, people tell you things like, “Don’t let yourself get too hungry or you’ll feel worse”, or “Eat something and it will make you feel better”, etc.

Well, I heeded that advice.

A lot.

And, I got huge…..to the tune of ~55 pounds or so!  Yikes!

I am not a cute pregnant lady.

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So, after I gave birth I was very anxious to get back into shape.  I worked very hard, ate very well, and exercised regularly.

In case you’re curious, I thought I would post a picture.  My brother, sister and I ran a 5K about 3 1/2 months after I gave birth.

I was very poofy.

Here ya go…

Me, 3 1/2 months postpartum with my very skinny brother and sister…oh and I’m wearing Kev’s running shirt because it fit!

Holly, Richard and I running 5k

When my baby was about 4 months old, I still had about 15-20 pounds to lose so my sister and I challenged each other to not have “treats” for a month.

I did it and lost 8-9 pounds.

Then, I started a 6 week “healthy challenge” with a bunch of friends and random people.

I lost another 7-8 pounds and started to look like my normalish self.

Well, that “healthy challenge” ended last November and I haven’t lost any more weight since then!

Auuughhh!

I lost all my baby weight, but I still want to lose 15-20 pounds!  It is very frustrating.

I think I’ve gained and lost the same 5 pounds about 5-6 times since then!  I think I’ve been gaining muscle and I know “they” say that muscle weighs more than fat…

Blah, blah, blah

I just want to see some results!!

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However, something that I’ve learned first hand is….it is all about what you eat!!  It seems like I can exercise until the cows come home, but if I’m not watching what I eat, I won’t notice anything.  It isn’t until I clean up my diet (for an extended period of time) that I notice any change.

I’ve heard that weight loss is 20% exercise and 80% diet….I believe it!

I also believe that weight loss is 100% freaking hard!!!

It is so worth it though.

I know that after I had my baby and I was 20, 30, 40, 50 pounds heavier than I am right now…I did not feel good about how I looked.  It was on my mind every day when I woke up and every night when I went to bed.

That is no way to live.

So, if you want to lose weight, get healthier, get more energy, whatever….

YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!!

Stop making excuses and get to work!!

Time is tickin’.

I’m not giving up….I’m going to keep on pluggin’ away until I lose these last 15 or so pounds.  I am also going to commit to live a healthy-ish lifestyle…forever.

There…that is my pep talk for the day.

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I have so many recipes I want to put up here…I just need time to do it….

So, here are a few little snacks I enjoyed yesterday…

Pre-run….A banana with natural peanut butter

banana with peanut butter

Post-run….Fruity Spinach Protein Shake (w/o Spinach because I was out!)
I love my little “Chill Pipe” straw that I got at Maverick for a buck!

fruity spinach protein shake

Peanut Butter Banana (with a drizzle of Agave) Sandwich on Oroweat Whole Wheat Sandwich Thin w/ a side of cherry tomatoes….yummy! Do you love my Spiderman plate??

PB banana agave sandwich

Afternoon snack: Grapes with Cashew Clusters…Sorry I could not for the life of me get this picture to focus!

grapes with cashew clusters

I buy these cashew clusters at Costco and I love them!

cashew clusters

That’s all the pictures I took yesterday.  Last night was crazy, so dinner was baby shower food (from a baby shower I was at)….veggies & dip, fruit & dip, crackers & cheese.  Yum.  I know all the dips and cheese aren’t healthy, but I tried not to overdo it.  I did have a small handful or two of Skittles too.  Yum!

Well, ’till next time!!  Keep on keepin’ on….

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