Archives for the month of: July, 2013

Yesterday I had my Saturday morning weigh-in following a week of eating all whole foods. The scale showed a 4.4 lb improvement. Seriously. This is what I’m talking about, folks. I did not track calories AT ALL this week and I did not make any other kind of changes to my routine. Isn’t that kind of amazing? I was super excited and it gave me just the encouragement I needed to make a bigger commitment to the whole foods/clean eating plan.

I tried out a couple of recipes this week from Skinnytaste.com. Her healthy chicken nuggets were a huge hit with my husband, both of my daughters and myself. We loved them. I never want to buy them the frozen, bagged nuggets again. These were healthier, less expensive and delicious. Also, as was suggested in the recipe, I used the leftover breadcrumb mixture on some zucchini I got at the farmers market and had awesome zucchini sticks.

We also tried Gina, skinnytastes author’s, buttermilk blueberry cake. I made a few substitutions to make it a little more “whole food friendly” such as by using whole wheat pastry flour instead of white cake flour. It didn’t come out quite as light and pretty as her picture, but it was really good anyway and slightly healthier. I still need more blueberry recipes as I have a TON of blueberries in my kitchen and even more awaiting me to pick outside.

How am I making it work eating whole foods on such a very small budget? Well, for one, I am eating in season. This is something I have read before and also that my sister-in-law, a nutritionist, has mentioned. It makes a big difference when you eat fruits and vegetables that are in season, prices are so much lower. It is a great idea to stock up on these things and freeze them to have during other seasons when the prices will shoot up. In particular, I do this with zucchini, one of my favorite veggies. I am also staying within my tiny budget by keeping my shopping list small. I know that sounds obvious, but I am totally guilty of, in my weight watchers days, trying to keep so many different fruits and vegetables in the house that inevitably something goes bad and I have to throw it away. I can honestly tell you that I have not thrown away ANY produce in the last two weeks and that makes me super happy. And finally, I’m staying within my budget by not shopping all in one location. I’ve been mixing it up between Aldi, Food Lion, Target and the local Farmers Market. I keep an eye on which stores carry which items for less and shop accordingly.

One last helpful tip for eating whole foods is to know where to buy your bread. It is hard finding bread that has 5 ingredients or less. Heck, it’s hard finding bread that has a list of ingredients that can even be understood. My saving grace here is Great Harvest Bread Co. Whole wheat flour, water, yeast, salt, honey. That is what you will find in their Honey Whole Wheat bread and it is delicious. At a little over $5 a loaf it is kind of pricey but the slices are big and I usually only use one at a time. Plus, I use my Attractions coupon book and it has a coupon for BOGO loaves. I’ve been asking my friends to trade coupons with me for this one and so far I’ve gotten two. I’ve heard they can also make buns with this dough but I haven’t looked into that yet.

My goal for this week is to continue eating whole foods/ eating clean. Also, my kids won’t be around as much this week so I would like to take advantage of that alone time to do some exercising that I don’t normally do, such as biking and maybe some yoga. Right now I’m feeling great and I hope that you are too. Here’s to a healthy me and you!

Let me start off by saying that after one week of calorie counting and other healthy adjustments the scale showed a two pound improvement yesterday. Yay! Now, how do I keep it going in that direction? I really think the answer is quite simple: whole foods. For almost two months last year I decided to eat only whole, unprocessed foods. It was the greatest I had felt in my life and the results were so dramatic that everyone around me took notice.

Honestly, I’m not positive what got me started on the whole foods kick but I think part of it was an article that I read about The Biggest Loser contestant, Tara. The article talked about her struggles with keeping her weight in check after leaving the show. She started seeing a therapist where she discovered she had a food addiction. The very basic idea is that the chemicals, preservatives and fake sugars in processed foods are highly addictive and eating even small amounts of them can start a downward spiral into wanting more and more. This article really resonated with me. I have felt myself stuck in that vicious cycle many times before. So what can you do to avoid the cycle? Stop eating processed junk, simple enough.

I did a lot of research on what eating “whole foods” meant and came up with about a thousand variations on the same theme: eating foods in their simplest form. My more detailed interpretation includes to not eat anything you can’t pronounce because it likely was generated in a lab. When buying something I check for an ingredients list with five ingredients or less, with few exceptions. I try to stay away from added salts and sugars. Basically I try to eat as fresh as possible. Again, there are a lot of interpretations out there but these are the guidelines I have chosen to follow.

Shopping was a little time consuming at first because I had to check the label on everything and I was forced to try a lot of new foods I’d never even heard of before. I spent some time at fancier stores such as Earth Fare and Whole Foods but bought most things from good old Food Lion. After all, I was trying to be healthy, not go completely broke. The biggest surprise for me when shopping at Whole Foods was that they, like all other grocery stores, have a lot of processed foods on their shelves. A lot of their items did not coincide with the idea of “whole foods.” The take away here is that regardless of where you are shopping you still must read ingredient labels!

For the two months that I ate only whole foods I felt fantastic. I slept better at night and had more energy during the day. Headaches and migraines that had plagued me for years…totally gone. I had no cravings for junk food. My skin was clearer and prettier. I dropped down to the lowest body weight I had been in almost 10 years. And to be completely honest…I wasn’t counting calories. At. All.

If eating whole foods is such a miracle, why did I stop? Why are others not jumping on board? Well, I guess because it isn’t easy. When you are working and raising a family and taking care of your home it is very time-consuming. Most whole foods can’t be zapped in the microwave super fast and you pretty much can’t find it in a drive-thru line. If you want to make cookies, for example,  you have to make them from scratch. Most whole foods can be expensive. Eating out at restaurants or even at other peoples homes can be difficult. When I fell off the wagon it was holiday time. Lots of unhealthy, rich food abounding, little time for planning, stress to the max.

If you try you can always come up with more reasons why you shouldn’t do something. But, if you really want something, such as good health, you will do everything in your power to obtain it. I lost sight of my goal then but I am ready and willing to work hard and achieve my goal again. My goal for this next week is to eat only whole foods. I will plan, be prepared and hold myself accountable. Here’s to a healthier me and you!

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So far this week is going pretty well. Sunday I tracked calories all day via MyFitnessPal and stayed well within range. My husband and I had the day without our kids and we wanted to go out. It’s tricky trying to eat healthy, primarily whole foods at most restaurants and especially when on a budget. We decided on Panera which was an excellent choice. They have all calorie counts listed on their menu, most of which are very reasonable and I’ve never had anything there that I didn’t like. My husband and I both went already knowing what we would be getting: The Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad. Absolutely delicious and very satisfying. A very important aspect of eating healthfully is making sure you eat a variety of color and this salad definitely has it. Fresh blueberries, pineapple, strawberries, greens, some mandarin oranges, nuts and antibiotic-free all-natural chicken. It’s awesome. So awesome, in fact, I decided to take a picture…but not until after I mixed it all up and made it look a bit less pretty – oops! Eating here was also a good choice because there was a very large, nice shopping center nearby where we went for a long walk.

Yesterday was not entirely as successful on the calorie front but still not bad. I spent the day with some family members installing a new ceiling in my living room. I ate breakfast before we started and lunch when we took a break but dinner was more difficult. We were very determined to finish the project and before I knew it we were hungry, it was super late and the house was a bit of a mess. So…we ordered pizza. Normally I would consider that a disaster, but after eating a healthy breakfast and lunch, drinking lots of water throughout the day and getting plenty of physical activity I decided to not give myself a hard time. In the future I would like to be better prepared though.

During a break from the ceiling project I wandered out into my backyard to take a peak at my blueberry bushes. At first glance it didn’t look like there were many berries so I started picking them and holding them in my hands. Those sneaky little berries were everywhere! I ended up with two bowls full and will have plenty more in a few days. Aside from eating them plain or in smoothies I wanted to find a good use for them. Also, my youngest daughter is a blueberry lover and I wanted to find recipes that she would enjoy as well. I immediately went to skinnytaste.com and searched for blueberry recipes. I found two that I am definitely going to try over the next couple of days: easy blueberry buttermilk cake and insanely good blueberry oatmeal muffins. I chose these because they look and sound amazing but also because I am on a tight budget and these recipes utilized almost all ingredients that I already have at home. Will definitely be posting pictures of these soon!

So far today has been very successful calorie-wise. I’m also getting ready to step outside and do some mowing. Mowing the yard is an awesome form of exercise. Lots of parents, such as myself, tend to feel guilty spending time on themselves and that includes work-out times. Mowing the grass, however, is something that I do for my entire family. It makes the yard enjoyable for the kids to play on and it makes our home look better in general. At the same time that I am helping my family I am working up a huge sweat and burning major calories. Of course I should mention that this is by using a push mower, not a riding mower, problably not too many calories being burned there. 😉 So, this will definitely free up some extra calories for this evening if I should so choose.

A big THANKS to all of those that visited my page, liked my previous post and/or started following my blog. Support from others is invaluable anytime you are working toward a goal. Until next time, here’s to a healthier me and you!

The most challenging thing about writing this blog, for me, is trying to figure out where to begin. I have so much that I want to share but I don’t want to overwhelm any potential reader. I started this blog for two main reasons: a source of accountability for myself and also as a way to help others who want to improve their health through weight loss, eating healthy and exercise. 

I do not have a degree in nutrition but I can offer advice based on what has worked for me and also from information I have read. To get things rolling I am going to give you a list of pros and cons of some plans and tools that I have found useful over the years.

  • Weight Watchers: Pro – very popular, online version is user friendly, big support system through either making friends on their website via message boards or in meetings in person. Cons – expensive. You have to pay to go to meetings and/or pay to use the online version and it isn’t cheap. You CAN NOT use the plan without paying for at least one, even if you see points values listed on foods at the grocery store. Also, the plan is constantly changing and updating to new versions which can be very hard to keep up with and confusing. ~My Experience~ I have used Weight Watchers at least twice, once using meetings and then the online version later. I had pretty good results with both but ultimately could not afford the plan. It is definitely a great jumping off point for beginners.

  • MyFitnessPal: Pro – it’s a totally free online calorie counter and progress tracker, it is very easy to use, can be customized to how much weight you want to lose and how quickly, has a huge database of foods available to choose from, you can scan items into the database using your smartphone and you can have the program send reminders to your smartphone to log your meals. Cons – If you look up something basic such as “boneless, skinless chicken breast” you will probably come up with a list of 500 items and some can vary greatly in calories, you can’t always trust the calorie counts you see listed (it’s best to check behind sometimes), the list of workouts is pretty vague and can be confusing when tracking workouts. ~My Experience~ I use My Fitness Pal consistently and enjoy it. I have no excuse not to use it as the app is on my smartphone, iPad and can be accessed via computer. The program sees all calories as calories and doesn’t necessarily encourage you to make smarter/healthier choices, so that part is up to you. Overall I like it and know lots of people that use it.

  • Hungry Girl: Pro – her recipes are usually very quick and easy to make, she offers swaps for popular restaurant foods, sign up for her emails and they are delivered to you free daily, she offers some free recipes on her website, she alerts you to new healthy items being offered in stores so you can keep an eye out for them. Cons – she uses a LOT of pre-packaged, processed foods. ~My Experience~ As you can see I don’t have much bad to say about Hungry Girl. In general I enjoy her ideas, recipes and attitude. But, I don’t like using fat-free cheeses and sourcreams, etc. My family does not approve of the taste and usually I don’t either. When you sub with a low-fat cheese, for example, your nutritional stats in general do not look nearly as impressive as hers. Occasionally I come across recipes that I really don’t like, but have also found many that are excellent. I would use her recipes as fillers, but not use them for every meal. I have never been let down by any of her shakes or swappucino’s (as she calls them.)

  • SkinnyTaste: Pros – The website is pretty, informative and easy to navigate. All of her recipes are free and neatly categorized. She uses all whole food ingredients and serving sizes are generous. She provides very detailed cooking instructions and takes lots of pictures along the way. She also recommends items to pair with the recipe to create an entire meal. Cons – None. ~My Experience~ This website is pretty amazing, I just discovered it a few months ago and have easily made 20-30 recipes of hers. Every single recipe was delicious and definitely does not taste like typical “diet food”. The only problem here is the temptation to over-eat some of these recipes because they taste so good so make sure you put the extras away immediately! Another plus is that my husband has enjoyed all of these recipes as well. 🙂

 

My goals for this week are to use MyFitnessPal to keep track of calories daily, to eat mostly whole foods meals and less processed junk, to drink more water and to get 30 minutes of exercise daily. I will try to post updates throughout the week. Here’s to a healthier me and you!