Thursday, January 29, 2015

Endurance

I have been afraid of starting the C25K program again. I have been afraid that my endurance up and took off on vacation. You know how sensitive endurance can be when you don't use it. It gets its feelings all hurt and then just bails on you when you finally decide you are ready to start up again. I pictured my endurance lying in a hammock with a margarita in its hand laughing at me trying to run without it. But I loved training to run last year. I felt so strong and bad ass. I wanted to feel that high again. I needed to build up my relationship with endurance again.


Tuesday was my first evening back at run training. I laid out my running clothes in advance and tried so hard to pump myself up. On Tuesday evening I didn't want to do it. I was nervous. I was trying to convince myself not to go as the husband chatted with the Blue Ray help desk lady, I sat on the bed fully dressed in my work out clothes having a conversation with myself...

"You know, we could just eat dinner and call it a night. We have been good for 3 whole days on workouts."

"But we said we wanted to run that 5k this year."

"We still have time to train."

"But we wanted to really train slow and build up our strength with running."

"Yeah but aren't you proud of those 3 days of workouts?"

"Yes but I would be prouder if we kept our streak going and went out to run. We didn't lose 4 pounds last week by sitting around."

By the time the husband got off the phone my good angel had won. I was tying on my shoes, leashing up Arya and we were going to run. My reasoning was simple, if my breathing was really horrible or my legs were not able to do it, then we would speed walk. I could at least speed walk.

Now the reason I took Arya and not the other furry minions (aka dogs) is because Arya is going to hopefully become my running dog. Red is too old now (hip issues). Bella has too small of legs (mini dachshund). Arya is perfect. I sound like Goldilocks and the three dogs over here. Arya behaves so much better after a run and I have been working a LOT on her training. She is a great dog but she needs a lot of discipline or else she gets destructive. So I am building her mileage with me and training her how to run with me. She is pretty well behaved on a leash since we got the gentle leader but she still needs a bit of work. She tends to side swipe me at times. But the biggest reason I take her is because she is also way more protective, so on those evenings the hubs can't join, she is perfect for helping keep me safe.


Now is where I tell you the ugly truth about that first run back...

That first few running intervals hurt my lungs. I was bent over after the first interval convinced I was going to collapse from not being able to breath. I felt horrible. I almost stopped running and just walked home but the husband kept me moving forward. But as I kept doing run intervals, I started to remember, breath in through the nose, breath out through the mouth. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Calm. Controlled. By the last few intervals I felt great. I was giving it my all and really concentrating on not letting my breathing get out of control again. It was perfect, well except that I was a tiny bit shy of a mile. DARN!


This weekend I have another two running sessions planned out that I am actually looking forward too. Now that I know that not all my endurance left me, I feel good and strong. Ready. Excited even.


Do you battle with your endurance?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Quick Workout and A Fun Salsa Chicken Recipe

Last night the bus was running on time but it still only gets me home (after my 15 minute walk) 30 minutes before the husband gets home. Now on the nights that the husband gets home around 6 p.m. I like to quickly workout before. It is easier. I have the whole living room to spread out and when he gets home I can actually have a conversation with him on how our days were and start dinner. On nights like last night I tend to do 2-3 short workouts.


I did a 11 minute Beginners Kettlebell workout- Basically he takes you through three 3 minute circuits of beginning exercises. The two handed swing, around the body, one armed swing and the overhead press. The soreness is real folks. I was sore all over last night.

And a 7 minute Ballet for Legs workout- She is a lot of fun. For some reason I like most of her videos. I just used one of my bar stools (I am 5"8 and my bar stools are on the shorter side) and I probably wasn't half as graceful as her while doing it. But I had fun and it was a great workout for the legs.

Last but not least I turned on some dancing music and had a dance party in my living room for 5-10 minutes. Which is ALWAYS fun!

I used to worry that the small workouts weren't doing anything for me but honestly they do. I sweat. I am sore that evening. I feel good afterwards. Don't knock a short workout if it is all you have time for.

So I experimented with a recipe the other night. A friend mentioned salsa chicken a week ago and I suddenly wanted it so bad my mouth was watering. Power of suggestion but I am always looking for a fun way to spice up chicken. I hate plain chicken. Like really hate plain chicken. There is no plain seasoned chicken breasts in my world. Let's spice that up with cheese and breading. So I did my own version of it based off of several recipes I was seeing around the internet. I just sort of experimented. Look at me, I went from not cooking at all to experimenting with recipes now!!

Salsa Chicken with a Cream Cheese Twist

Ingredients:
Chicken Breasts
1 Jar of Salsa (I prefer mild but get whatever you want)
8 oz of cream cheese
Grated Cheddar Cheese

Optional:
Parmesan
Jalapenos or green chiles
Black Olives


Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lay out your chicken breasts in a glass baking dish and season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Break up cream cheese and spread evenly over all the chicken. Pour salsa evenly over all the chicken. Bake in oven for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes take out chicken, add shredded cheddar cheese and Parmesan. I like a LOT of cheese. You can also add the optional Jalapenos or green chiles at this point. Let it all bake some more for 10-15 minutes.

Take out to cool for a few minutes. Add black olives. Serve hot.

Plain chicken just won't be the same for you after this delicious meal. Trust me. I can't wait to make it again and play with the recipe some more!! I am thinking maybe some pepperjack cheese next time. Doesn't that sound good??

How do you like your chicken??

Monday, January 26, 2015

I Rocked This Weekend

Anyone else getting slightly burnt out on winter? I wake up and it is dark. I work inside an office building all day. I get off work and there goes the sun again. The only time I see the sun anymore is on the weekends. I am ready to start seeing the sun again. Thinking of weekends, mine was chalk full of healthy things. The best part was weighing in on Sunday and seeing a loss. The worst was having to deal with a few PCOS symptoms that snuck up on me. I have good days and bad days with this health condition. Whenever I change my routine a bit (add in more exercise, clean up my diet) it always takes a week or so for my PCOS to stabilize out again.

Weigh in...

-4.2 Pounds

That makes a total loss of 6.2 pounds so far this year. Woot Woot! That is pretty exciting stuff after not losing any weight for 3 months.

Workouts...

I am okay with not having a gym membership right now. One day I will need one but for now I am having a lot of fun with my at home workouts. This weekends workouts consisted of a routine I created. I built a whole playlist of dance music on YouTube starting with Beyonce's Drunk in Love because it is a good warm up. Then I dance for one song, just doing whatever feels fun and keeps me in movement (little bit of cardio). Then when Iggy Azalea's Work song comes on, I pick up my hand weights and kettle bell because that song always pumps me up!

(That is my fierce face, it is okay to laugh at it, I did)

I bust out the weights the entire song. Then alternate each song after that between cardio (dancing) and strength (weights). Sort of my own version of a HIIT or bootcamp workout that alternates strength with cardio. Kicks my butt and I am pouring down sweat by the time I run out of songs. Not to mention the soreness. But above all it is fun and I find myself wanting to workout. I woke up each morning rearing to throw on my compression clothes and get to it. That is how you know you have a good workout.

Weekend eats...

I ate really clean this weekend which is something to be proud of. Normally weekends mean a bit of splurging but I honestly didn't even feel like splurging. Breakfast on Saturday was an egg scramble with cheddar, feta and kalamata olives. While lunch was a snack lunch of hard boiled eggs, apples, cheddar cheese, black olives and kalamata olives. Both were super simply and easy. Seriously. Great throw together low carb meals.


On Sunday I woke up with a pancake craving and decided to try another low carb pancake recipe. Now I already have one (if you check out my recipe tab) that involves protein powder but I love experimenting so I decided to try a banana one because well I had bananas that were seriously going bad. It just had 3 simple ingredients, 3 bananas, 6 eggs and 1/3 cup of coconut flour. I cut the recipe in half though because I could not eat all that. Blend it all together, heat up a skillet, add some coconut oil and cook pancakes. Seemed simple enough.


Except it wasn't. It was a complete disaster. The pancakes wouldn't flip and they didn't have a real pancake taste to them. More of a banana and coconut taste. Not a great combination in a pancake.


Whoops. Oh well. Not every recipe can be a huge success. I will find another one and try again. I am always open for suggestions, anyone else have a low carb pancake recipe??

Also on Sunday evening I made a huge Greek salad. Super simple as well. 

Ingredients:

4 Cucumbers
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
1/2 a red onion
Kalamata Olives
Feta Cheese
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Pepper

Directions:

Cut up cucumbers, tomatoes and onion. Add in kalamata olives, I like a lot so I add a lot and feta cheese, I also like a lot of feta. Sprinkle some pepper on top. Add as much olive oil and balsamic vinegar as needed for taste. Or you can get a separate bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and olive oil till combined before pouring on top. I don't feel the need to do that, I just sort of throw some on top and then mix it all together. 


Simple and follows that no lettuce salad thing I love. I ate it for dinner and had plenty to take with me to work for lunch. So for me it could go either way, lunch or dinner.

I am working on posting a salsa chicken recipe with a cream cheese twist next. So keep an eye out for it. Hope everyone else had a great weekend as well!!

What is your favorite low carb recipe? How was your weekend?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Let's Talk About a No Lettuce Salad and a NSV

I am going to tell you a weird fact about me, I love salads but hate lettuce. Mostly because I am so darn picky about my lettuce. I do love restaurant salads because for some reason their lettuce is usually good. Perfect combination of crisp but not overly crisp. But at home I can never seem to duplicate it at all. I buy the big containers of spring mixes and I have to use them within a few days. They get too wilted for me or not crisp enough or get a funny bitter flavor. I just start hating the lettuce and cursing the day I bought it after less than a week. The catch 22 in all of this is that I like salads for lunch. They are convenient, I can throw them together at the last minute and they are low carb. Not to mention I make a killer dressing with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.

So what happens when you love salads for lunch but don't want to deal with the crappy lettuce issue anymore? Where there is a will there is a way.


This fun creation is just a whole bunch of everything. I have salami, pepperoni, black olives, cheddar cheese, green bell pepper, red onion and cherry tomatoes. No lettuce and it still tastes amazing. I make my own homemade dressing as well. Just a bit of olive oil with some balsamic vinegar. You only need a little bit to coat the salad. Ta daaa. No wilted lettuce or bitter green stuff. I combine it with some low carb snacks, some kalamata olives in a small container, an apple and some salami with cream cheese. Keeps me on track with low carb and high protein eats. (If you wonder why I eat this way, check out this blog post and this one)

So yesterday was a bad day. 


Sometimes I hate working in such a big building because it feels like people are able to get away with far too much. On days like yesterday I contemplate becoming an independent paralegal but I always remember the next day that I like what I do and who I work with for the most part. After work, the bus decided to run late so it took me extra long to get home and I forgot my walking shoes so I had to walk the 5 blocks home in flats. Ouch. Trust me it hurt the knees and ankles. Then I came home and the hubs had forgot to buy chicken for the salsa chicken I was dying to try. Needless to say, by 6 p.m. my mood was more than sour.


Now normally this kind of crazy bad day would have sent me into emotional eating OVERLOAD. I would have ordered take out and bought desert. I would have filled my stomach so full it would have hurt. I would have used it as an excuse because if we have a bad day we can eat whatever right?? Wrong!! I just couldn't do it yesterday. Nothing in me wanted to feel sick or eat till I exploded. So I made a different choice. I blasted music on YouTube as loud as the TV would go, changed into my yoga sweats and decided to tackle a project that had been sitting on my to do list for a week.


Within an hour I had my fridge scrubbed clean and all the old food things thrown away. I had all the clean clothes folded. I had the dishwasher unloaded. I had the dishes done. I had sang till my throat hurt and danced all around the house. After all that I sat down and killed some stuff on Mario Galaxy. Above all when I went to bed, calm, centered and without eating a ton of crap food I was proud of myself. I didn't let a bad moment or a bad day completely de-rail me. I didn't give in to the anxiety that threatened to overcome me. I didn't eat sugar to compensate for crappy people. I let all that frustration go in a productive way without taking it out on anyone around me or eating ALL THE FOOD. That is a non scale victory that I can really celebrate.

So how do you handle your bad days?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Beating My Excuse: My Secret Weapon

Can I tell you a little secret? I used to think eating healthy and exercise was just about getting it done. When I couldn't stick to a healthy eating plan or exercise routine I thought it was because I was lazy or not motivated or had no willpower. Here I am, someone who quit smoking a year ago after being a smoker for almost 14 years and I thought I had no willpower or was lazy. Yeah. Hmm. So I went on a hunt for my excuse. You know what I am talking about, that one excuse that keeps your butt firmly pressed to the couch. I have one and I figured out what it is. I was unorganized when it came to my weight loss. Which is funny because I am super organized at my job and pretty organized around my house. But I wasn't when it came to weight loss and I don't like having to guess what I am eating or what I am doing as a workout. If I have to guess, I will guess myself on the couch with a bag of take out because damn it I am tired at the end of the day.

I leave the house at 7 a.m. and don't get home till 5:20 p.m. By the time my key hits that door I.am.done. I don't want to make a decision. I don't want to debate or discuss dinner. I don't want to even really think about it. I have a one track mind, all I am thinking about is changing out of my work clothes and getting some food in my stomach. Before that was when I hit my excuse of being unorganized. Who is making dinner? What are we making? What workout should I do? All these questions and decisions to make, nah, I think I will go sit on the couch with a pizza instead thankyouverymuch. I would love to be one of those people that preps everything on Sunday for the whole week. I admire you people that can do that. I can't. I get bored really easily and I like variety in my menus.

So I made that goal for this year, that goal of getting more organized with my weight loss in 2015? Well want to know my secret weapon for doing that?

This beauty right here...


Yes, you got it, a pink day planner. This simple and cheap day planner has changed my life. Okay, that sounds really huge but honestly I am sort of in love with it. I keep asking myself, why didn't I do this sooner??

It has two calendars in each monthly section. One calendar is an overview of the whole month. That is where I keep appointments, days off of work, pay days, bill due dates and keep track of the husbands ever changing work schedule. Then behind that is a break down of each individual day in the month and that is where my weight loss has become suddenly organized. I sit down every single Sunday with the hubs and we go over dinners. Who is cooking what dinners which nights and what we want to cook on our nights. I cook roughly 3-4 nights worth of dinner a week and he usually does roughly the other 3-4 dinners.  We make a menu and make a shopping list. 


Then based off of his work schedule I figure out what days each dinner will be made. Voila! No guessing. No discussion. On my days I get home and open the planner to figure out what I am cooking. On the husband's days he opens the planner to figure out what he is cooking. We don't have to think about it at all. Which has completely eliminated my excuse of going out to eat. It has also eliminated that fight of whose night it is to cook. The key to a happy marriage, communication and organization!!

Now for workouts. Just like dinners everything is neatly written out each day so there is no guessing. In the next week I am going to be starting my run training program (C25K) and the hubs wants to join me because we are re-signing up for the Color Run. But this time I want to run it. So I have to carefully schedule run days on when he works morning shifts or else we would be running at 9 p.m. at night. Ew. In between run days I schedule my own workouts, I do videos off of YouTube like Barre, Zumba, kettlebell or yoga. Not to mention all the Beyonce moves I am doing in the kitchen while preparing dinner. I do my bootcamp workout disc and strength moves I find on Pinterest. All of it gets planned out and written down just like the dinners. All I have to do is throw on my workout clothes, check the day planner and then cue up the video. I track my weight. I track water intake. Everything gets written down in one convenient place. All I have to do is open up my day planner and it is allll right there.

Now isn't that easy and convenient??!! Trust me, it has made my life so much easier. So what are you waiting for, go get you a day planner!! 

How do you keep organized?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How My Relationship with Food has Changed Recently

I was diagnosed with PCOS in my twenties. I had plenty of signs of it in my teens but I don't think they really had a name for it back then (that makes me sound so old). Once I was diagnosed, just like anyone that gets diagnosed with any kind of health condition, I started doing my research. Which was hard because there wasn't a lot of research out there. I went through all the emotions, denial, depression, anger, frustration and then finally acceptance. I couldn't change my diagnosis but I sure as heck could start fighting for my right to be healthy. I just wanted to feel normal in my own skin. I started moving more and trying ALL kinds of eating lifestyles. I tried paleo, I tried vegetarian, I tried allowing whole wheat in my diet and I tried low fat. I never quite understood the significance of how food really effected my condition till recently to be honest. I thought of all those diets as exactly that, a diet, a way to lose weight.

I have an odd relationship with food. For a long time I used it to squish down the emotions I couldn't deal with on a daily basis. See, I was raised in a loud family, with a lot of BIG personalities and having a voice wasn't necessarily easy in that kind of environment. I always felt in the middle of every argument, walked on and often times out-talked by the people around me. Not a big deal EXCEPT for when it came to sticking up for myself. Since I didn't know how to speak louder than the voices around me, I ate instead and that created an odd relationship with food. As an adult, I didn't start overcoming my emotional eating till I learned to have a voice. At first I was terrible at sticking up for myself. Then I started getting comfortable and learning who I was, learning when it was appropriate to fight, when it was appropriate to apologize and when it was appropriate to stay quiet till I felt ready to talk again. In that moment my relationship with food changed. Suddenly I didn't want to emotional eat anymore because I felt in control of my own emotions. Suddenly, I saw food for what it was, a way to help fight PCOS effectively.

I recently had a light bulb moment.



I realized that I was treating my PCOS with weight loss and even though that is great, what I really needed to do was treat PCOS with how I was eating and the weight loss would follow. Especially since I had that pesky insulin resistance issue.



"Insulin resistance (IR) is a condition in which the cells of the body become resistant to the effects of insulin, that is, the normal response to a given amount of insulin is reduced. As a result, higher levels of insulin are needed in order for insulin to have its effects. The resistance is seen with both the body's own insulin (endogenous) and if insulin is given through injection (exogenous)." (Source)

How is that linked to PCOS:

"In women with PCOS, high insulin levels can cause the ovaries to make more androgen hormones such as testosterone. This can cause increased body hair, acne, and irregular or few periods. Having insulin resistance can increase your risk of developing diabetes." (Source)

Not to mention so much more. When your hormones are off, everything is off. Your body is a well tuned machine. It is all linked. Which was a fact that surprised me and took me far too long to understand.

I have been conducting my own experiment of sorts with my own body. November through December I was sort of free eating. I was eating whatever I wanted. I noticed that even though I was walking almost daily in November, I wasn't losing any weight. I was also struggling with acne, high anxiety and stomach issues. I was also getting these massive crashes in the afternoon that were extreme fatigue. Not to mention I would get crazy cranky by the time the afternoon rolled around. I wouldn't even know why I was cranky, I was just really cranky and felt stressed. I also would get really sad for no reason. Basically my emotions were all over the place. I had brain fogginess. I was starting to struggle to remember things. I struggled to sleep all through the night. I had a terribly irregular cycle. The list goes on.

In January I cleaned everything up. I started eating low carbohydrates. In other words, I stopped eating the processed crap. I stopped drinking sodas, I switched to sugar free creamer and above all I changed everything I ate. For snacks I started eating apples, black olives, salami and hard boiled eggs. I started experimenting with vegetarian low carb dinners, with a few lean meat dinners and only one night of red meat a week. For breakfast on the weekends I started having omelettes filled with spinach and other yummy vegetables. I cut out dairy except for cheese. I started upping my intake of water. I drank non sweetened hot tea every night to replace the desert I had grown accustomed to. I worked on making good healthy choices each day.

The results....

Less acne. Less anxiety. No afternoon crashes. More energy. No stomach issues. Weight loss. I sleep better. I am in a better mood more often. My moods have stabilized in general. The brain fog has lifted. I am more alert. I gained a normal period. In other words, things have just stabilized in my body and now I am back to losing weight steadily again. 

If I didn't realize how important eating the right food was to my health condition, I get it now. Even now, when I have a cheat meal, I can feel it. Last night I ate Greek food as a cheat meal. I was out running errands, it got late and I needed a quick dinner. I ordered some garlic fries with my gyro plate and Greek salad. I felt it instantly after eating it, all last night my stomach felt bloated and nasty. I had this over full feeling like I had eaten FAR too much. This morning I woke up with a stomach ache and feeling sluggish. I am a little more anxious than normal. Just one day of allowing myself to cheat was enough to slap me hard across this face. This isn't a diet. I don't need cheat days. This is my LIFESTYLE. I have to make it my lifestyle in order to live comfortably with PCOS. People that have food allergies or celiac disease don't have cheat days, they eat a certain way because they get sick otherwise. That is what has been sinking into my brain over the last few weeks. This is how I have to eat or else I will get sick otherwise. Does it make me sad? NO actually. I don't miss feeling crappy at all. 

Am I busy? Yes and eating healthy doesn't always fit into my schedule. I can still eat out. I just have to skip over the carbohydrates and stick with meat plus veggies. Easy actually. I could have ordered a Greek salad and just the gyro meat last night. It would have been just as good and I would feel a lot better this morning. I make the choice to feel better or not. Just by simply choosing everyday how I am going to eat. That is the biggest lesson I am learning these days.

So what changed your relationship with food?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Keeping it Clean

This week I have morphed from a croaking frog, to a squeaky wheel, to now a husky 5 pack a day smoker.



Since Tuesday I have barely had a voice. Now I have a cough to add on to everything else. So as you can imagine my workouts are non existent. I sort of miss working out right now. It was my way of unwinding after a long day at work. Go home, change into sweats, workout for 30 minutes, maybe do some yoga, make dinner, do dishes, clean up house, play with doggies, read my book for a bit and bed. I was also looking forward to starting my C25K program again but ah well, getting better is my main objective right now and surviving each work day with half of my normal energy.

But even with not working out for a week I still lost 2 pounds when I stepped on the scale this morning. Do I think it would have been more with my workouts added in, yes, but I will TAKE IT!

I have been clinging to my clean eating like you wouldn't believe this last week, knowing it would be the only thing that would help me maintain or lose weight while I was stuck on the couch each evening. My appetite hasn't been amazing either but usually when I am sick I reach straight for the junk food. I usually don't want to cook and I want nothing but ALL THE PROCESSED CARBOHYDRATES when I don't feel good. Luckily I have been working hard to really overcome those urges to emotionally eat. To recognize when I am doing it and to instead make healthier choices that will make me feel better.

Instead I have been making things like....

(Chicken with vegetables)

(Spinach salads for lunch with cheese and meat)

(Bun-less burgers)

I also gathered together enough energy to experiment with a zucchini feta bake


but I need to work with it a bit more before I share the recipe. I didn't like the egg in it.

So I am pretty excited about those 2 pounds and I am REALLY looking forward to getting back to enjoying my workouts. But first, I have to get better. I am hoping this 3 day weekend I can keep the talking down to the minimum and really get a lot of rest. Maybe by Monday I will be able to workout again and will have my voice back.

How did you do this week??