Monthly Archives: June 2014

Clean Eating Challenge; Days 11-14

It’s a funny thing, making a lifestyle change.  For me, it always takes a challenge to start something new.  It gives me something to focus on…something to strive for and be held accountable to stick with for a specific time.  Now that the time has ended though, I very much realize the challenge continues.  Every day.

Days 11-14 were both the easiest and hardest.  There was no in between.  Some days it just felt natural and other days, I wanted to eat the entire ice cream cake!

I was going to give the day by day, play by play, as I had been; but I would rather focus on how I feel overall after the two weeks.

The Clean Eating Challenge was HARD.  I definitely slipped up here and there but I am SO glad I did it!

Here some of the positive changes that have taken place:

1- I have cooked more at home in the last two weeks, than I have in the last two years!  I tried new foods, experimented with recipes and best of all, so much of it is from scratch.  I never would have made my own taco seasoning or salad dressing before.  Simple little changes are adding up to a lot in the kitchen!

2- I bought a Vitamix and it is as life changing as everyone says.  I totally plan to continue my morning smoothie routine and I find myself half way through a long run thinking about my post-run smoothie.

3- I am more alert, relaxed and I have slept so much better.  My skin has cleared up, my energy level is up and overall, I just feel better.  Okay, so this might all be related to summer, but regardless, I like it!

4- My cravings for starchy, carb-y, sugary foods is much lower.  The cravings aren’t gone by any stretch, but they are definitely changing.

5- I enjoy food more.  I am not eating just to eat.  I am really focusing on how the foods I eat will affect my body.  It has really made me want to dive into the world of nutrition further.  I am thinking about taking some classes.  Not sure which direction I want to go, but I have always loved working with kids.  If I could somehow incorporate my knowledge of food/nutrition with love of kids, that would be awesome.

6- I am walking the walk.  Sure, if I want the occasional beer or cookie, I am going to have it.  But for the most part, I am practicing what I preach.  I have always been relatively healthy but I had no idea how much I had to learn.  Now I know I still have so much to learn.  I am ready though!  I just have a whole new energy about everything.

7- Food prepping is SUCH a time saver!  Having things ready to go makes it so easy to choose them!  Grabbing pre-cut veggies is as easy as grabbing something packaged.  Food prep takes time, but it is so worth it!

8- I went from drinking close to 50 ounces (50!!!!) of coffee a day, to 12 ounces.  I am shocked at how little this change has bothered me.  The first week was tough and I felt really sluggish my mid-day, but it kept getting easier.  Now, I have my one cup of coffee and feel good for the day!  This is probably the single best change I made.

9- Through all my research, I have found so many awesome recipes.  I am looking so forward to trying all the new, healthier versions, of foods.

10- My workouts are so much stronger.  I feel better running, I am lifting heavier and best of all, I recover faster.  This has been one of the best changes!

 

Here is what made it hard:

1- Look, healthy food is expensive.  Yes, there are ways to save and if you work at it hard enough, you can definitely budget, but it was hard.  Building my pantry up is a process and it is nowhere near finished.  I am working really hard to fit my food budget into my life.  It comes at a cost; something else has to get cut, but at the end of the day, I am doing it for my health, so it is worth it.

2- I really like dining out.  Over the two week challenge, I dined out three times. I did really well and in each case I ordered something I normally wouldn’t have, but it was really hard to pass up some of my old favorites.  I will continue to work hard at balancing my love of dining out with my new found way to live healthy.

3- Food planning is so not my thing.  I keep trying but I just cannot decide weeks in advance what I will want to eat.  For one, my schedule changes too often and for two, I need to think about what I want.  It frustrates me, but at the same time, I don’t put a ton of stock into it as long as I am not wasting the food I bought or prepped.

 

Overall, I am really proud of how I did these last two weeks.  I definitely tried new things, decided to remove some foods for good and still enjoyed life!  That is why the beer, or the cookie, or the piece of bread with dinner weren’t deal breakers for me.  That is just life.  90% of the time, I ate better than I had been eating in years.  I focused on what I was eating, made conscious choices and paid attention to how it made me feel.  THAT in and of itself makes having done the challenge worth it.  I am really focused on being the healthiest version of myself, with the understanding that doing so also means enjoying dessert sometimes, too!

I kept thinking about what would change between yesterday when the challenge ended, and today.  The answer is, nothing changes.  Like I said, the challenge continues…the challenge is every day.  To continue to do what is best for myself, try new foods, cook at home, eliminate the bad and create more good and stay on this great path I have started paving for myself.

But, I am not going to start eating avocados or give up ranch dressing.  Let’s not get carried away!

 

❤ Jillian

 

 

 

New Food Friday- June 27, 2014

New Food Friday is a weekly post that coincides with one of the items on my bucket list; that is, to try one new food or recipe a week for a whole year.

Let me tell you a story:

When I was little, I had a babysitter, Aunt Phyllis.  She was an older woman (she seemed really old to me then, but I know now she was much younger than I ever thought!) and I loved being at her house.  Even if all the memories aren’t exactly as I remember, what I DO remember is how much she loved us.  She insisted we not just sit around and that while we were under her care we would learn something.  She taught us all how to knit, there was mandatory piano practice and for the kids who didn’t know how to swim (I have been swimming since I was a baby), they certainly knew how by the end of summer!  She had her entire sun room set up as a nintendo (the original- I am aging myself!) room, complete with over 100 games AND the power pad!  She would take us to the park, let us play in her RV (pretty sure never took it anywhere, just parked it in her driveway for us to play in) and we spent many afternoons swimming.

I loved it at Aunt Phyllis’s.  She was caring, kind, loving and made sure we were all well taken care of each day.  I loved everything about it there.

Except for one thing.  A pretty big thing.

Aunt Phyllis and I didn’t often agree on food.

Basically as a child, I lived off of mustard and cheese sandwiches, spaghetti,  kraft mac & cheese and pizza.  I also had a thing for fruit roll-ups.  To say I was a picky eater would be a major understatement.  I did not make it easy on Aunt Phyllis.  But she wouldn’t back down.  If you didn’t eat her food then you simply sat at the table.  All day.  Most of the time I sucked it up and ate the food.  I could only hold out so long and usually I was alone.  There were only two foods I held my ground on.  Cheese Hot Dogs and Tuna Fish.

Okay first of all….WHO PUT CHEESE IN A HOT DOG????  No. Stop. Gross.  Second, I already didn’t like tuna or mayo.  Um, pretty much the tuna-fish recipe.  I hated the smell so much, I couldn’t even bear the taste.  I would sit all day.  No chance.

Until one day, when Aunt Phyllis simply had enough.  She was fighting with a child over tuna-fish and she wasn’t dealing with it anymore.  She came right over to me, and stuck the biggest spoonful of tuna in my mouth and made me eat it.  Now, I could be exaggerating, it might have been as small as a teaspoon.  But in my head it might as well have been a dump truck of tuna and I feel like it took me HOURS to swallow.  It was the WORST thing I ever tasted.  But I knew that if I even dared to spit it out, I would just get another heaping disgusting spoonful.  So eventually, I ate it.  I didn’t die or even throw up.  But it scarred me for life.  I never ate tuna again.  Of any kind. Ever.

Until tonight.

I have been looking for different dinner options and on almost every single recipe page, I see tuna burgers.

Now, I am in no way ready to face the fear of eating tuna out of a can with mayo.  No way.  You heard me…scarred for life.

However, I found tuna burgers at Whole Foods and figured why not.

image

I baked mine in the oven, topped it with some spinach and onion and then made a sauce to go with it.

image

 

I totally winged it with the sauce.  After googling “can you mix Greek yogurt with hot sauce” I decided to give it a try.  I also added a little ketchup for sweetness.   I was actually expecting it to taste really funny, but you know what?  It was good.  Like, really good.  I mean, it was no ranch dressing.  Let’s not get crazy.  In the future, I would make this sauce again…but when it comes down to it, hot sauce is a million times better with ranch dressing.  Fact of life.

As for the tuna burger…well, it wasn’t the best thing I ever ate.  Right away the smell brought me back to sitting in that kitchen with the spoon in front of my face.  But I really wanted to give it a try and I really wanted to like it.  Honestly though, I think the only reason I liked it was because the sauce was so good.  This is one of those foods where I’ll finish the other ones in the box, but it’s not something I would buy again.  I am glad I gave it a try and now I know it’s genuinely something I don’t really care for; that or I really was scarred for life!!

Here is the recipe for the sauce:

1tsp of Franks Red Hot Sauce

1tsp of Greek Yogurt

1/2tsp of ketchup

Nutritional stats:
Calories- 23
Fat- 0, Sugar- 2.1g, Carbs- 2.1mg, Protien- 2.9g, Fiber-0, Sodium- 52mg
Please Note: Nutritional information estimated based on brands I use and/or calculations using nutriondata.com and sparkpeople.com.  Data may not be completely accurate and yours may differ.  You should not refer to this data as being exact but as a figure.  I do not take responsibility for the inadequacies of the nutrition calculator used. This data is provided for general reference only.

 

It couldn’t have been easier to make the sauce (I mean unless the containers opened and poured themselves) and it uses so little but adds so much!

 

Are there any foods from your childhood that you still avoid as an adult?

Clean Eating Challenge; Days 8-10

This is really starting to feel like a lifestyle.  It still takes tons of thought and planning and still feels like work, but clean eating is hard work.

The past three days were good ones.

Day 8-

  • Pretty typical day.  Ate a lot of leftovers from the weekend and started making use of my new containers.  These are definitely going to make a huge difference!  I have so many bags of loose food on my shelf; now slowly I am putting them all in these containers.  It alleviates space on my counter and in my cabinet.  Double win.
  • I also did a lot of research on where to find the best buys at the stores I like to shop.    Specifically, Trader Joe’s, Aldi’s and Costco.   I live within 10 minutes of every grocery store I would ever need (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Wegmans, Aldi and Costco) and I don’t mind store jumping to save myself money.  I always shop with a list but now I am armed with a very specific list of what to get at each store.  I like grocery shopping (is that weird?)  and now I am even more excited.  Ok, it is weird!
  • About meal planning.  I suck at it!  Like, a lot.  I really am trying, but it is just too hard for me to plan what I am going to eat 5 days in advance. Not for breakfast because that is almost always a smoothie but for lunch and dinner, I really struggle top plan.  Right now, I am planning two days at a time.

Day 9-

  • Took the day off to hit the beach with my mom.  (But not before heading to the gym first!)
  • My mom is also trying to get back on track, and it’s great because we can talk about it and bounce ideas off each other.  And because we both wanted to pack healthy snacks instead of planning to buy snacks on the beach when he got there.   We did hit up lunch and both had two really awesome chicken dishes.  I had a roasted red pepper with mozzarella and grilled chicken wrap.  I only ate like a 1/4 of the wrap which was plenty enough.  It had a little too much of the olive oil pesto, so I would definitely get that on the side next time.
  • It was the PERFECT beach day!  PERFECT!

sunkissed

I love love love summer!!!!

Day 10-

  • Normal day at work.  Except that at lunch, they were giving out FREE toasted almond crunch ice cream bars.  Are you kidding me???  I pretty much had to leave the table!  I cannot tell you how much I wanted that ice cream.  I was really proud of myself for turning it down.
  • At night, my dad and I took my mom out to dinner.  We went to the restaurant where I worked for three years; I left on good terms and they have excellent food.  I made the decision to have dessert.  You know why?  Because I can.  And because cheesecake is my favorite!  I didn’t eat the whole thing, although it would not have been hard too!
  • The one slip up I didn’t think of, was that I ordered coffee with dessert.  I have been doing amazing with cutting back on coffee.  It has been so much easier than I ever imagined it would be.  It’s still a bit of a struggle in the afternoon, but otherwise, it has been fine.  I am used to ordering a cup with dessert and this was my first nice dinner out since starting my cut back.  Unconsciously, I ordered it and drank it.  Sometime around 11pm when I was wired and off the walls, I realized.  After only a few weeks, coffee has an entirely different effect on me!  I used to be able to drink a cup at 8pm and go to bed at 9pm.  I had a cup at 6pm and was still wide awake at midnight.  Insane.  And plenty enough reason for me to keep it to one cup a day.

 

 

Energy Level:  Improving every day.  Even today, after a night without much sleep, I feel more energized than usual.

Hunger Level:  I never feel hungry.  I am trying to eat every 2-3 hours; sometimes I’m not hungry but know I do need to eat, however sometimes I really don’t want anything and I am not going to force myself either.  I feel like I am really figuring out which foods to feed my body and at which times.  It’s definitely working.

Overall:  I feel good.  I know I could be doing better.  I could skip the single square of dark chocolate or the whole wrap or the cheesecake.  But that is living.  I feel like as long as I am doing well 90% of the time and really trying to be better, than I am on the right track.  The only time I get upset is when I unconsciously eat.  Right now, I am super aware, but it takes energy to stay focused and when I lose focus, I  unconsciously eat.  I definitely have to keep working on that issue.  Overall though, I feel good.  Clothes are starting to fit better, I am noticing small differences and I feel better!

 

What is your guilty pleasure dessert?  The one thing you just can’t say no to?

 

❤ Jillian

I Love Running (Again)!

I was never the kid who loved running.  For example, I badly wanted to love soccer, but I hated running.  Kind of doesn’t work.  It is exactly why softball was perfect for me.  Little running and still a great game of athleticism!  I never saw running as fun and could not understand why anyone did it as a sport.  Then, during a transitional period in my life, I decided to do a triathlon.  You know, you kind of have to like running (at least a little) for that, so I set off on a mission to learn to like running.  What followed, were years of a love/hate relationship with running.  It didn’t come easy; I am slow and steady…better at the long run, than the short run.  I fought through more injuries than I can keep track of, but at the end of the day, running did something for me that nothing else every did.  It gave me peace.  It was an escape.  Even when I hated running, I loved what running did for me.  I went on to run many races of all distances and even completed a marathon.  Then, I broke my foot and went through some personal drama and I stopped running.  It took me a full year to race again and another year to really get back on track completely with my running.  But starting over, was really starting over.  I had to find my focus and my way back to that peace.  (Some of you went through all of that with me but if you are new, you can read all about that journey over at Finishing is Winning.)

I got back into it pretty hardcore through last fall and this past winter but then committed the fatal mistake.  I ALWAYS do this.  I went too hard, too fast and then got off track and stopped again.  Focused too much on racing and being fast and comparing myself to others and you know what, that isn’t fun!  I had an interesting and eye-opening conversation with my sports chiropractor back in late winter.  He said to me, “Why not just work out?  Why do you have to be racing?  Just have fun with it for a while and when people ask what you do, you just say ‘I work out’.”  And you know what, it made perfect sense.

It has been a few months since that conversation and I really took it to heart.  If I wanted to lift, I lifted.  If I wanted to bike, I took a spin class.  And…if I wanted to run, I ran.  Not always far and definitely not fast, but I ran.

It started mattering again and you know what, I got better.

For so long, I was tied up in times, splits and racing.  I was feeling like I wasn’t good enough or fast enough and it did nothing for my self esteem.  Eventually, running wasn’t fun.

It has taken close to two years, but I finally found that peace.  I have a whole new energy about running again.  The other day, during a simple and quick 2 mile run, I thought to myself, “wow, I have missed this.  I love this.”  I haven’t felt this good in so long.  For too long, running made me sad because it reminded me of all the things that hurt me.  It had went from something I loved to something that represented all the wrong things.  It took too long, but once I was able to regain my focus and let those feelings go, I was also able to see how happy running makes me.  And as it seems, when I run happy, I also run well.

Now, running is fun again!

As I head into a training schedule for my fall half-marathon, I am trying to be smart, keep it fun and stay focused on all the wonderful things running does for me.  I need a schedule when I race; a way to keep myself on track and accountable.  This time though, I am starting way early enough to work myself into a pattern of running.  Currently all my runs are short, but they are quality.  Come time to start the schedule, I will be more than ready to up the mileage and challenge myself with speed.  I have my confidence back and there is nothing better than a confident runner, no matter how slow you go!

Running is fun again.

I really do love running!

 

❤ Jillian

 

Clean Eating Challenge; Days 4-7

One week complete!

Day 4-

This was a really good day.  I woke up energized and ready to go.  It was definitely the best  I had felt.  I capped off the day with a great workout and my delicious post workout smoothie!  This smoothie is probably one of my favorites because it tastes like I am eating a pb&banana sandwich!  It was a good day.  Nothing else to really say.

Day 5- 

I woke up in a bad mood.  No idea why.  Just a funk.

  • I really, really, REALLY, wanted waffles for breakfast.  This was my first real legit craving since having started.  If only there was a waffle flavored breakfast smoothie!
  • The coffee thing is bothering me so much less than I ever imagined it would.  I still want a cup in the afternoon, and on this day I was really sluggish, so I really wanted another cup.  Instead, I made some green tea.  It is definitely not the same, but it was better than nothing.
  • My day turned around when MY VITAMIX arrived!!!!!
  • I had my first real challenge of the challenge.  I had a fundraiser for a friend at the local bike shop, sponsored by Team Fuji.  Team Fuji does a triathlon night every year at my bike shop, but this year we were also raising money for a friend who had been recently diagnosed with cancer.  (Team Fuji= Andy Potts, Cam Dye, Matty Reed and Sara McLarty)  It is a really fun night, but there is always TONS of food and free alcohol!  I knew it would be a challenge so I made a really filling dinner smoothie before leaving my house!  I ended up doing pretty well.  I did have one beer, but I had decided ahead of time, I was likely going to have one.  I say I did “pretty well” because it wasn’t long before I spotted my weakness.  Almond cookies.  Any type of sugar, almond, sandies type cookie and it is game over.  I ate two!  I won’t lie, I was a little upset with myself.  Not because I ate them, but because I didn’t even try not to eat them.  I saw them and I ate them.  But then I saw Andy Potts eat one and thought “Cheers!” this is a fun night!
  • As soon as I got home, I research some healthy versions of almond cookies.  Found one that is only three ingredients that I will definitely be making very soon!

andy potts

Me and Andy

Day 6-

Woke up in a much better mood and with tons of energy.  This was good because I had so much to get done!

  • Met my mom for lunch at Panera.  We use to sometimes split the You Pick Two, and she would get a 1/2 salad and I would get 1/2 sandwich.  I definitely wasn’t going to get a sandwich and neither of us wanted whole salads.  I cannot believe we never thought of this before, but we asked if we could get the You Pick Two and each get 1/2 salads.  THAT was easy, they said yes with no problem!  Awesome!  I had looked into what I was going to get before coming, so I was totally prepared.  (Side note: did you know Panera has a “hidden menu” with very healthier options?  Well, they do.  No idea why it needs to be hidden but it is.  Unfortunately, I would want to change them all around and I didn’t want to ask for a second favor.)  I went with the Thai Salad with no wonton strips and dressing on the side.  I didn’t even end up liking the dressing and the salad was perfect without it.  It had a little bite to it thanks to the spicy edemmame, but I really liked it.  It added good flavor and a nice crunch.
  • For dinner, I tried something new.  I was going to use it as a New Food Friday, but I forgot finished pics!  I made ground turkey taco salad.  Before this, I had (seriously) never had ground turkey.  I had fresh spinach, turkey meat (seasoned with taco seasoning), and grilled onions and peppers and topped with light Italian dressing .  I really liked it, but I will admit, I very much missed having cheese.  A LOT!  If I make this again, I will sprinkle some cheese on top.
  • When I say taco seasoning…I mean, I made my own!  I am very proud of this because I have two of those packets in my cabinet.  One if half open and needs to be used at some point anyway.  However, I had come across a homemade version and since I had all the ingredients handy, I figured I would try.  Pretty simple to make although I had way too much because it was too hard to divide the measurements to make it enough for only one serving.   I think next time, I’ll finish my packet and then eventually, I’ll make a bigger batch of this to save and use when needed.
  • I bought tons of those click top containers (plus, my mom chipped in a bought me some too 🙂 ) so that I could finally have an easy way to store my loose foods.  I already have them for my dry baking ingredients and love them.  My house is very short on storage and I need to be very smart with my space.  These containers definitely help!

Day 7-

Pretty simple day.  Gym, cleaning, pool. 🙂

  • I have been having smoothies for breakfast every day, but I decided to have some quick oats with almond butter and strawberries.  It was a nice change up and I was so full afterwards!
  • The craziest thing happened…a woman at the pool had Johnson’s popcorn.  It’s pretty famous by me; sold in Ocean City and people LOVE it.  I LOVE it.  It is ridiculously good caramel popcorn.  As soon as she offered me some, I thought, I am doomed.  I’ll eat the whole bucket if you let me.  But I simply took a few pieces and went back to my chair….pretending the popcorn wasn’t on the table 5 feet away.  But then…I ate it and it was enough.  Just a few pieces did the trick.  Had I taken more, I would have eaten it, even though the small amount was perfectly fine.  It’s a pretty big step in my issues with portion control.

Energy Level: Still kind of low during the week, but much better over the weekend.

Hunger Level:  I am almost never hungry.  I find myself shocked that I got to this age without ever truly realizing what food could do for me.  I eating less, but I am more satisfied.  Additionally, I feel like I am really paying attention to taste.  Almost like my sense of taste is heightened or something I cannot quite explain.

Overall:  At the end of the first full week, I am feeling really good.  I definitely feel better in general and I am starting to notice other things changing as well.   My skin is clearing up, I have so much less bloating, I am sleeping better, I feel more energized and overall, I just feel lighter.  And well, I AM lighter.  I weighed myself for the first time in a week and I have lost some weight.  I am really trying not to focus on the number but it did feel good to see that my lighter feeling was right, and it definitely helps motivate me to get through this week.

 

Cheers to another week!

❤ Jillian

New Food Friday- June 20, 2014

New Food Friday is a weekly post that coincides with one of the items on my bucket list; that is, to try one new food or recipe a week for a whole year.

I was struggling to find new foods (there are plenty I want to try, but it’s a matter of budget and finding recipes) and thought, “how the heck am I going to do this for a year” but then I looked up a ton of recipes and now I am good for a few weeks!  So many creative things on Pinterest; I cannot believe how long it took me to join!

I have been making a TON of smoothies lately but I pretty much stick the to same few recipes.  As a liquid base, I only ever use Almond Milk.  However, I wanted to change things up a bit, so I decided to get some coconut water.  I only ever tasted coconut water one time in my life.  After a 7 mile race downtheshore because that is what they were handing out at the finish.  I did not love it.

However, coconut water is VERY good for you!  And for me 🙂

Here are just a few things coconut water is good for:  boosting hydration, facilitating digestion, reducing blood pressure, regulates circulation, keeps the kidney stones away, treats bloating and has anti-aging properties to help keep skin healthy and glowing!    Oh, and for you beer guzzlers or winos, it is also the KING of hangover remedies!  You can thank me later!

 

I had more than enough reasons to give coconut water a second chance and in the smoothie and since all I could taste was the fruit, it was delicious!

 smoothie

I only just now realized I have a Proctor, not an Oster. Haha.

 

1 container of coconut water

1 cup strawberries

1 banana

3/4 cup Chobani 0% plain Greek yogurt

 

This filled my cup completely with a little extra.  It was very tasty, although a little on the thinner side than I like.  I will be tweaking the water/yogurt ratio in the future.

 

Nutritional stats:
Calories- 298
Fat- .6, Sugar- 37g, Carbs- 56.5mg, Protien- 19.3g, Fiber-5.2g, Sodium- 140mg
Please Note: Nutritional information estimated based on brands I use and/or calculations using nutriondata.com and sparkpeople.com.  Data may not be completely accurate and yours may differ.  You should not refer to this data as being exact but as a figure.  I do not take responsibility for the inadequacies of the nutrition calculator used. This data is provided for general reference only.

 

In other news, my Vitamix came today!!!!  I could not be more excited!  If you have any recipes you would like to share, I am all ears 🙂

 

❤ Jillian

Clean Eating Challenge; Days 1-3

Well, I made it to Day 4 🙂

 Day 1-

The first day of anything new is always awesome.  I had been thinking about it for weeks, making small changes for the days leading up to Monday and was pumped to finally make the changes necessary to start down a road to a healthier me.  Here are some thoughts on the day:

  • It dawned on me while I was drinking my water that my lips don’t typically touch water after I brush my teeth until well into the mid-morning.  (Slaps own hand!!!)  I have been drinking water with lemon for over a month now because my allergist said it would be good for me, but I usually wait until I am at work.  Now I am really doing it first thing!  I have to say, it was a little hard to drink that early, but what I noticed the most was that it forced me to slow down.  I am a three times (ok, five times) alarm snoozer,which leads me to rush around in the morning trying to get everything done.  Knowing I needed the extra time, I have been setting the alarm a bit earlier and it has been so nice to not be rushing around.  I think that has done more for me than the extra 7 minute intervals of sleep I get when I snooze.
  • I decided that my omgoneandonly cup of coffee would be best suited for me to drink once I was settled in at work right about the same time I would be having my mid-morning snack.  What I have been loving is that when it is time for my mid-morning snack, I am not even that hungry and a small snack is perfect.  The smoothie does it’s job to keep me full!
  • I definitely noticed a difference in my work speed.  I felt slow and sluggish and by the time the day was over.  Not sure if it is in my head but I definitely feel like the decrease in coffee is affecting me.
  • It was my first day packing lunch and I HATE packing lunch!  One of the (most amazing) perks we get here, is free lunch.  Whatever we want from the dining hall selections, which also includes items from an awesome salad bar.  However, the Dining Hall is closed until Summer School begins, so I would be packing regardless.  First big lesson learned: packing is so much harder when you are trying to eat clean.  I had already prepped a bunch of food in tupperware; it wasn’t the lack of choices, it was more of how many tupperwares I needed for my lunch!  One for the chicken, one for the salad, one for the dressing and then another for my veggies and another for the hummus.  I kept thinking to myself, “there has to be an easier way” because lugging all those containers is not a good time.  And moreover, I was already dreading having to clean them all.  I know most the human population does this daily (and I used to as well) but I found it tough.
  • Throughout the day, I never felt hungry.  I felt bored by the pool without my usual bag of snacks, but I wasn’t hungry, so I just stuck to my water and waited for dinner.
  • My one “cheat” was that I did make myself a little dessert using one small square of Hershey’s dark chocolate.  I know that is on the no-no list because it is high in sugar and processed with Alkali, but I was craving something chocolate.  The other options still sitting in my fridge were a Reece’s Cup, a Hershey’s Almond Bar and a Regular Hershey Bar.  (Recently took the 8th grade to Hershey!)  I took the small square and topped it with almond butter and some slivered almonds.  It was small but perfect.  And I am totally not holding it against myself.
  • I was really tired.  Not long after dinner, I was ready for bed.  Usually I head up around 9-930pm on a work night in the hopes of being asleep by 10-1030pm, but last night, it was all I could do to stay up past 8pm!

 Day 2-

Felt a lot like Day 1.  Here are some thoughts on the day:

  • I still felt a little sluggish.  930-10am and 2pm-3pm are my worst times.  I feel like I cannot get a single task done.
  • Since there is no lunch here right now, everyone I eat with is ordering out.  It didn’t bother me too much today, but I anticipate it bothering me in a week from now.
  • I went to the gym and felt ok, but it wasn’t the greatest workout I ever had.  Can I blame that on the coffee too??
  • Overall, I was kind of glad when the day was over.

 

Day 3-

I took the day off because I had read over and over that day three can be the toughest.  I didn’t think it was tough but that is more than likely because I took off and after my morning workout and running some errands, I spent the day laying by the pool.  Day two was much tougher.

  • It was nice to have off and get a really good nights sleep and wake up without an alarm.
  • I love morning workouts so much.  I have to be in work by 7am and I work an hour away from where I live, so morning workouts are out of the question and something I really enjoy when I have the opportunity.  Today, I had a really good workout!
  • I had THE BEST post workout smoothie today and felt super energized while getting my errands done.  It was full of almond milk, almond butter and bananas.  I am also using About Time Whey Isolate protein.  I truthfully haven’t done enough research on which whey is best for me (although I am working on it now) but this one looked pretty clean to me, had good macros and is what I felt like was best for a start.   I’ll take suggestions!
  • I was ALREADY kind of bored with my food options.  Money is definitely a struggle, so I have to get better at meal planning so that I don’t feel stuck to the same foods.  I have been eating tons of chicken and shrimp and I just needed something new!  (I know shrimp isn’t something the entire “clean camp” agrees with, but I believe it to be healthy and I eat tons of it!  Plus, Tiffany over at Gracious Pantry includes it on her list and I see her as a good barometer!)
  • I decided to pick up some brown rice pasta and make myself a dish of lemon and garlic shrimp with pasta.  It satisfied the craving and I no longer felt bored.  Amazing how one meal can change things!

 

I will talk about Day 4 in my next update but I want to say this…I woke up with an energy level I have not felt in a long time.  I didn’t even get a good nights sleep thanks to a terrible overnight storm, yet I felt great when I woke up.  I am only on Day 4 but I can tell a difference.  I guess if I had to sum up how I feel in one word…it would be lighter.  Not pound wise (I haven’t even weighed myself since Sunday) but just in general.  Something about me just feels lighter.  And energized.  It feels good and is motivation to keep going!!!

 

Energy Level: I would say an average of 4 for the first three days but it is definitely on its way up!

Hunger Level:  The only time I feel hungry is in the afternoon after lunch and it’s not because I am actually hungry.  It is because I am used to coming back from lunch and snacking all afternoon, which I have stopped doing.  For the most part, I find I am totally satisfied.  I am a little surprised by that because I am definitely eating less in quantity, but I know it is because the quality is so much better.

Overall:  It is hard to get used to the food prepping, the planning and the packing.  I am trying to make sure I always have something on hand, so I am not tempted.  I think I am sleeping better, wake up more refreshed and my skin is a bit clearer.   I will feel a little better when the dining hall opens back for lunch next week and it feels like a little less work.  I also need to continue to find new recipes, so that I don’t get bored.  Overall, I am glad I am challenging myself but it is not easy.

 

Clean Eating Challenge

I know the term “clean eating” is highly debatable.  Some feel like it is just they way we should be eating, without a label.  Others think of it as just another diet.  And a few don’t even care.  I definitely do not see it as a diet, which is exactly what led me to this path.  I definitely DO see it as the way I should be eating.  But it is hard.  IT IS HARD!  While I certainly hope this will be how I naturally live my life, any change takes time.  And sometimes you just need to shock your system a little!  The “challenge” part of the whole thing is to be absolutely as clean as possible for two weeks.    This means starting my day with lemon water and a smoothie, eating lots of vegetables, drinking a ton of water, eating whole-grains, lean meats and fish and healthy fats throughout the day and ending with a cup of green tea.  It also means nothing processed, no refined foods, no artificial ingredients, no alcohol and no coffee. Overall, I am healthier than the average person, but I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to be nutritionally well-rounded.  I think this will serve as the perfect jump-start to an overall healthier diet.  And in this context, diet just means the way I eat.

Like how I live most of my life, I researched my brains out for two months and determined  a total detox or juice cleanse was out.  Please, I want to be healthy, but I don’t want to lie to myself.  I am not going to not eat.  I would be setting myself up for failure on a full detox or juice cleanse.  I need to chew…I need to eat.  I love food!  Plus, that shit is expensive!!!  I want something that will challenge me, but that is realistic for my life and my expectations.  That is exactly why “clean eating” works for me.  Or will work for me.   At least I hope, haha!  I am not going into this to lose a bunch of weight (although, dropping a few pounds would be a nice bonus) but I would definitely like to get lean and toned.  What is that saying?  Oh yeah, “abs are made in the gym but revealed in the kitchen.”   I want to change how I eat the majority of the time and I would like to change what my body craves.   I also want to find new foods and recipes and healthier versions of foods I already eat.  And perhaps most importantly, I want to learn some portion control when it comes to food.

After the initial two weeks, I hope to be able to stick with this plan at least 80-90% of the time.  The other 10-20%?  Well, I have a life and I plan to keep living it!  Ideally, these two weeks will put me on the right track and help me to eliminate some foods for good, but I fully plan to be flexible at times, so that I can enjoy life.

Now…let’s talk about the coffee.   I am allowing myself to have 12 ounces of coffee a day.  Listen up crazy cleansers who say I can’t have my coffee.  I can.  I drink my coffee black and even though most advise against it, I am siding with the ones who say it’s okay.  Because if I don’t, I can’t function.  Trust me, going from my usual 36 ounces a day to 12 ounces is going to be change enough.  Changing the way I eat is going to be hard enough.  Not having a beer with friends, will be hard.  Not digging into the nachos will be hard.  I don’t need intense headaches and lack of coffee rage to go along with it.  I can handle everything else, but the coffee stays.

I started making small changes and weaning myself off certain foods about two weeks ago;  for the last two weeks, I have been starting most days with a smoothie for breakfast, have overall eaten pretty clean, limited my alcohol and started cutting down on my coffee, so I felt really ready to start this today!  Let’s do it!

 

Have you ever done a cleanse, detox or clean eating challenge?  How did you do?

 

Disclosure- (Apparently, I have to have one of these.  It’s my first disclosure, so bear with me.) Nobody is paying me or compensating me to being my own personal clean eating challenege (unfortunately, for me) and all opinions you will read throughout my  journey are my own.  Before starting a detox, cleanse or any nutritional program of your own, you should do your own research.  I am in no way licensed to give medical advice (although, neither are 90% of my Facebook friends, but they do it) and if you have questions specific to your own health, you should contact a doctor.

I Bought A Blender (and I have a free shipping code!)

You know you’re old when…you get way excited over the purchase of a new blender!

Seriously, I feel like I spent as much time on buying a blender as I did on buying a house!

Before I started making breakfast smoothies every day, I think I used my blender all of 10 times.  After using my Oster 5-speed blender for only one week, I realized quickly that I needed to invest in something better…and quick!  The Oster is good enough for some stuff, but every time I rev it up, I worry if it will be it’s last rodeo.  It just wasn’t built for everyday use and it doesn’t have the ability to make much more than a smoothie.  And I think it hates spinach more than I hate avocados because it is a bitch to clean!!!!

So I did it.  I splurged.  I really didn’t have the money, but I figure if I have to keep buying $30 blenders, eventually I would be spending more than I could afford anyway.  So I did it.

I went over and over and over…Nutri-Bullet, Vitamix or Blendtec.  It was not an easy choice and the internets only made it harder!!!  I researched tons of websites, blogs and review pages.

Now, you need to know one thing about me.  If I go out with the intention to have one beer, but I have two…I have buyers remorse.  Every time I go to Target…buyers remorse.  I have an incredibly hard time buying things for myself.  I work SO HARD for my money.  Until last August, I had two jobs.  For most of my life, I have had two or three jobs and at times was a full time student on top of it.  Technically, I currently have one job, but I pick up every single extra event I can at work.  I do every SAT, ACT and SSAT testing day…giving up a ton of my Saturday’s.  I proctor the Student Center once a week during the school year.  I work every camp sign-in on Sundays during the summer.  I will pick up anything at my job if it means extra money.  And I use that money for bills, gas and every now and then for a night out.  I am lucky that there are some great parents at this school whom often gift me on holidays and at the end of the year with gift cards; then I can treat myself (without guilt) to Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and use VISA gift cards for new clothes.  My parents hook me up every Christmas with grocery and clothing store gift cards.  I make use of every coupon or store savings I can.  What I am trying to convey here is this…this was a HUGE purchase for me.  To have bought this for myself was a huge deal.  I am not a cheap person by any means, but I am frugal and careful with my money.  However, after weeks (and weeks!) of researching, thinking, weighing my options and reading reviews, I decided this was a worthwhile purchase and pulled the trigger.

Here is how I finally broke it down to make a decision:

NutriBullet:

  • While it was the cheapest option and there were some pros that were very key in my life (takes up very little space, powerful, good for single use, easy to clean), I also kept reading about their terrible customer service.  That pretty much ruled them out right off the bat, except that I couldn’t get over how low the price was and the fact that I could easily store it.

Blendtec:

  • This was actually my first choice.  I was pretty sold on it because  everything can be done in one jar, it has pre-programmed buttons, it is easy to clean and comes with a great warranty.  However in every single review, good or bad, there was something said about the atrocious noise.  But even that didn’t completely rule it out for me.  I figured I would deal with the noise because the price was right and it got more good reviews than bad ones.

Vitamix:

  • The only bad review I could find on the Vitamix is that it takes up a lot of space.  Pretty small complaint but considering my counter space is already at a premium, this was a tough one for me.  I barely have room as it is with my KitchenAid mixer, coffee maker and microwave.  On top of that, it was by far the most expensive option and I couldn’t find a way to justify it.  Everyone says is the Ferrari of blenders, but at some point I have to draw the line.

 

So…drumroll please…

I BOUGHT A VITAMIX!!!!

5200-black-machine-rglam

Forget the need to draw lines.  At the end of the day, this was the best purchase.  Especially because…da da da da…they are currently having a special on refurbished 5200’s and I got it for $299.00 PLUS free shipping!  They are regularly $329 and shipping is $25, so I saved $55!  Had I gotten a Blendtec, I would have also gotten a refurbished one, and it would have been $279 (comes with free shipping), so I only paid $20 more than I would have if I went with my initial choice.  And I would have had to deal with the insanely loud noise that legit was complained about in every single review.  Lastly, when it came to reviews, I had to LOOK to find a negative one about Vitamix.  The only things I could find other than space, was that you need to purchase a separate pitcher for grinding spices or making bread.  Since I do not intend to use it for either of those reasons, it only made sense to go with the Vitamix.  (If you are thinking of buying one, the $30 discount is good until the end of June and if you want the free shipping, you can use the code:  06-007021)

I honestly do think that it is a matter of personal opinion and depends on what your needs are when it comes to which one you buy.  I am sure I would have been happy (albeit, perhaps deaf) with a Blendtec, but I am really happy I was able to treat myself to the Vitamix.  In the end, I think it will pay for itself by way of healthy eating.  I already have a whole list of things to make, and I cannot wait!

I will be sure to do a personal review when it arrives!

 

Do you own a Vitamix, Blendtec, Nutribullet or any other special blender?  What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

Book Review- Don’t Look Back By Jennifer Armentrout

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Before it even arrived from Amazon, I was excited to read this book based solely on the jacket description:

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend. 

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

When it comes to books, I’ll pretty much read anything, but I do tend to read more young adult literature over summer than anything else.  And I am not embarrassed to admit that I like this genre of books.  Yes, YA literature is defined as being appropriate for ages 16-25, but I like that they are easy reads that I can finish in one to a few days.  I admit, I sometimes roll my eyes at the writing and there a few times where I thought I wasted my time on a book, but overall, I take them for what they are…simple.

Don’t Look Back was my first book of summer and it was so good I finished it in 2 days!  This was one of those pick up and read and don’t stop reading until you are done books.  Unfortunately, around 10pm, I couldn’t keep my eyes open and had to save the rest for the following day.  I thought about it all day and couldn’t wait to get home and finish the book!

Young adult  books can be very cliche, especially when they are center around teenagers and this being the authors first time writing a suspense romance, I was a little concerned.  Overall, this one was well done.  It wasn’t without it’s predictability, but the characters were realistic and the story line was so great that I was able to overlook the small imperfections.  Within the first few pages, I was hooked. The book is labeled as a suspense story, but I think it goes even deeper.  To me, this book read like a psychological thriller.  I have never been one of those people who thumbs to the end of the book to find out what happens before finishing, but I had to stop myself from doing that with this book.  Every few pages as the mystery unraveled, I kept thinking about what happened that night and who did it.  Heck, I spent a decent part of the book trying to figure what “it” was before we actually find out!

I have always felt that a really good suspense book gives the reader clues without the reader  even realizing it; then in the end, you are kicking yourself for missing them.  That is what happened with me and this story.  As the plot progressed and Sam struggled to reconcile who she is with who she was (just one of the many  mysteries), I found myself  guessing and guessing.  I didn’t know who I could trust!   Even Sam herself was unreliable due to her memory problems.  In the end, I had pretty much guessed every possible scenario and I was still only half right about the ending.  Once I knew though, I was able to navigate right back to each clue and see how it all pieced together.

The only real flaw in the book was the Epilogue.  It was a bit too fluffy given the nature of the book as a whole.  There were a few lines not tied completely up and a few lines tied a little too neatly for my liking.   However, I won’t let that discourage me from recommending it to you, if you like a good young adult book.  Again, with YA Literature, you have to take it for what it is, but I would consider this book is good for teenagers and adults alike (but note, there are a few sex scenes, although not graphic).  It is definitely a page turner- do not pick this up if you are on your way to bed or don’t have a lot of time!  You won’t want to put it down!

 

❤ Jillian