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My Clean Eating Journey ~ Revamped for 2014

First, let’s define “clean eating”.  When I typed “clean eating definition” in my internet search engine, there were over 6.5 million results.  There seem to be as many definitions of this phrase as there are dieting techniques.  My understanding of eating clean is to avoid all processed foods, limit dairy, and avoid all sweets (in food and beverage form), including alcohol.  There are plenty of recipes out there for a clean version of anything you can think of.  I must say that I have been impressed with the ones that I’ve tried.

The summer of 2011, I was enthralled in the art of eating clean and incorporated making smoothies and soups.  It worked very well for me.  I started doing cardio on my lunch break at my office gym, and then I would add some strength training in the evening.  I lost 13 pounds in three weeks, mostly water weight, I’m sure, but it was a great way to kick-start my weight loss plan.  It actually worked too well for me – I got pregnant with my third child, and my way of eating fell by the wayside.  Now here I am, 20 months postpartum, and back to square one.  I am in need of a major overhaul – not just for aesthetic reasons, but for my health and quality of life.

This time around, I am personalizing my efforts.  I need to do what is best for me, not only what works for the masses.  Don’t get me wrong.  The main principles of clean eating are what make it so successful.  Processed foods don’t have any health benefits, and foods from the ground, including fruits and vegetables, do.  It’s pretty simple.  It isn’t so easy to stay on track.  That’s where my personal modifications will come in.  In order for me to remain consistent and keep my metabolism high, I have realized that protein is my best friend.  I don’t eat pork or beef, so I get the majority of my protein intake from poultry, seafood, and beans.  I believe that I have failed in the past because I thought that severely cutting all forms of carbohydrates and replacing most meals with a liquid equivalent would do the trick.  Well, I lost weight that way, but there was truly no way to maintain the weight loss.

I look forward to keeping it off this time.  In the coming weeks and months, there will be many posts related to eating clean, including weekly meal prep.

Nita

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365 Days of Fitness…Starting Now!

Today is my first day of 365 days of fitness.  This personal challenge was inspired by one of my favorite natural hair and fitness bloggers, Shelli of Hairscapades.  The main premise of my challenge is to incorporate a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity into each day, with no exceptions.  This physical activity can be broken up throughout the day.  On work days, I’m sure that this will be the best way to ensure I don’t fail to get it in.

This morning, I danced to two of YouTuber Keaira LaShae’s dance cardio videos – one was a 20-minute hip-hop/twerking video, and the other was a 5-minute 90’s dance video.  To reach my 30-minute goal, I danced to Beyoncé’s Flawless video.  I truly worked up a sweat!  During the first dance cardio video, I realized that I have gotten completely out of shape since relocating back to my hometown, 7 months ago.  I’ve never really needed to use the “modified” version of a workout video…until now.  It was disappointing that my body wasn’t in sync with the excitement going on in my mind.  Growing up, dance was my life!  I danced all throughout school, and now I enjoy dancing along to videos.

As far as my eating habits go, I avoided my morning coffee today, which was hard to do, yet not so hard, after all.  The hard part was only in my mind.  I typically drink one to two cups of coffee each morning, brewed with a teaspoon of cinnamon sprinkled on top, with evaporated milk and approximately three spoons of sugar mixed into each cup (yep, you read it right).  I have sugar substitute packets, but the coffee just doesn’t taste the same that way, in my opinion (obviously).  For breakfast, I drank flavored water and ate some chicken.  For lunch, I ate more chicken and some baby carrots dipped in beans and low-fat ranch dressing.  I ate some fresh pineapple for an afternoon snack.  For dinner, I am going to eat some turkey sausage and mixed veggies.

Overall, the first day is pretty much the worst day for me, since I basically ate without restriction, yesterday.  No withdrawal symptoms, just slightly hungry and “craving” some of the usual suspects.  For me, my cravings consist of whatever is on hand.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to get something bad to eat; I would simply indulge in what is available.  Since I am living with family at the moment, there are salty and sweet treats within an arm’s reach, all the time!!  This new eating plan of mine will require some major willpower, if I am going to stay on track.

With God’s assistance, anything and everything is possible.

Watch me work!!

Nita

Update ~ Project Drop 50

Last month, I mentioned that I was embarking on a journey to lose at least 50 pounds.  I was 60 pounds away from being at the appropriate BMI level, but losing 50 pounds would put me in my comfort zone.  I ultimately didn’t kickstart my new plan until the week before Christmas.  Fast forward to today, and as of Tuesday, the 23rd, I have lost 11 pounds!  I’m so thankful to see progress and the fruits of my labor.

So here’s what I’ve been doing, thus far:

Food

  • Breakfast ~ Frozen fruit and leafy green vegetable (spinach or kale) smoothie every weekday and eggs and turkey bacon on weekends
    • This past week, I have added cottage cheese, for added protein and creaminess, flaxseed for Omega-3’s, and apple cider vinegar to aid digestion
  • Lunch ~ Either boiled eggs and vegetables, straight vegetables with low-fat dressing, or vegetables with a protein (turkey bacon, ground chicken, or baked fish)
  • Dinner ~ Vegetables and ground chicken, turkey bacon, or baked fish
  • Snacks ~ A boiled egg, here and there, but no more than 3 boiled eggs per day (I love mine whole – no discarding yolks for me!).  Also, I have found a “clean” oatmeal cookie recipe that consists of only oats (I use whole grain) and 1 banana.  Believe it or not, it is a really tasty treat!

Sounds boring, I know, but it has worked for me.  I am figuring out ways to add variety and additional flavor to what I eat.  I’m learning about spices that I never used before, and I haven’t felt deprived, at all.

Fitness

  • 4-5x week ~ about 1 hour of cardio via YouTube dance, Zumba, and Plyometrics videos.  I have several playlists of videos at my disposal, so I can tailor my workout to the specific amount of time that I have to work out.  I try to work out for a little while, first thing in the morning, and then again in the evening.  When I oversleep, I aim to work out longer in the evening to make up for it.
  • 5x week ~ 20-25 minutes of Pilates or traditional ab exercises via YouTube fitness videos

Within the next week, I am going to purchase some hand weights (to replace the sets that I lost recently) and some ankle weights.  Then, I plan to incorporate more strength training to my workouts.

How are you making better choices regarding your diet or fitness level this year?  Do you have a plan for success?

Nita

Breakfast of Champions

In my quest of ‘Eating Clean in 2013’, I have started to whip up super-nutritious homemade smoothies each morning.  From what I’ve read, a drink, no matter how nutritious, shouldn’t permanently replace any of our meals; however, I am a woman who has almost always failed to eat a weekday breakfast.  Then, I end up compensating for my starvation by consuming far too many calories at lunch or snacking my way to lunch (I’m a grazer).  My days of self-deprecation have ended!

Welcome the Breakfast of Champions!!  During the week, I only consume the smoothie, which consists of 1/2C of whole wheat oats, 1 banana, 1/2C frozen fruit, about 2T flaxseed, 2t apple cider vinegar, and a splash of water, today.  To switch things up, I make numerous variations, such as the addition of 1/2C of cottage cheese, in order to get additional protein in with the least amount of added calories.  I also typically add a leafy green vegetable, such as kale or spinach, and some cilantro (to aid digestion).  Since it is the weekend, I cooked two eggs and topped them off with a pre-made chunky salsa.  So delicious and healthy, at the same time!

Breakfast of Champions 012613

 

Nita

Naturally Delicious ~ Chicken Stew

I decided to make chicken stew on Sunday.  It was super easy to cook, and it’s a hit with my youngest (my toughest critic)!

Ingredients:

1T oil of your choice (I use canola)

1lb ground chicken (ground turkey will also work, but I am in love with ground chicken right now)

1lb white potatoes, peeled and cut into 2in chunks

1lb carrots (I used baby carrots, so there was no peeling and cutting involved)

16oz low-sodium chicken broth + 16oz water

Season to taste

Directions:

1. Heat oil in the bottom of a stock pot on medium heat.

2. Add chicken to pot and brown for approximately 5 minutes.

3. Add seasoning to chicken and stir.

4. Add potatoes, carrots, broth, and water.  Stir over medium-high heat occasionally, until boiling.

5. Once the liquid starts boiling, cover and reduce the heat to medium-low.

6.  The stew should simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, approximately 15 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes.

That’s it!  I won’t be able eat such starchy vegetables after this week, but this stew is so good right now!  It is just on time for the cooler weather we are experiencing in Texas.

What types of cold-weather meals do you like to make?

Nita