Moving Blog

Alright, so I decided to get crazy and move this blog to another self-hosted site. The good news: I have more control over my site. The bad news: anyone who has subscribed to my blog will have to resubscribe to my new one. Fear not, all content has been safely restored!

I will keep you posted when the site is up and running so you can resubscribe. Thank you for your patience :)

Thursday Tips: How to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

It’s fairly common for us to gain a few extra pounds – in my case, around five – during the holiday season. This year I’m really hoping to stop that from happening. I know, you always say the same thing over and over – that you won’t gain the weight this winter and then you find yourself making a unrealistic “lose 10 pounds” New Year’s resolution which you can’t even stick to. Let’s prevent that from happening this year, shall we? This way we’ll be able to make a better, more realistic New Year’s resolution since we didn’t gain any unwanted holiday weight!

Some tips to remember during this magnificent food-filled season:

  1. Treat each holiday as a separate day, not an entire month.  I find that if I had just indulged on the day itself (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year ’s Day) instead of stuffing myself with leftovers for the following weeks to come, I more than likely wouldn’t have put on the extra weight.
  2. Just because it’s the season of joy, laughter, parties and fun doesn’t mean you forget about your daily responsibilities (exercise.)  If you want to have your cake and eat it too at your holiday party, there is an absolutely positively non-negotiable exercise policy. Get – over – it.
  3. Pick and choose which foods or desserts you definitely cannot go without and have only those.
  4. Embrace the gift of giving. It will heighten your spirits and make this season that much more enjoyable. :)

I understand it’s much easier said than done – especially when you have work parties and friend parties on top of your family parties, but if you change your mindset going into it your chances coming out of it (weight in tact) are far greater! It’s very easy to make time for dinners, parties and outings, but learn to make time for yourself too. Your body will thank you!!

Related Article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heidi-grant-halvorson-phd/avoid-holiday-weight-gain_b_1091302.html?ref=health-and-fitness&ir=Health+and+Fitness

Weigh Day: Not-So-Good-Results

Alright, so the moment of truth has arrived this week and I’m disappointed to say that my weight has stayed the same. However, this came to me at no surprise so I can’t really be that disappointed about it.

How was this not a surprise you ask? Well, my “cheating” got a little out of hand last weekend and I guess you could say early this week too (late night nut consumption.) Although I’m not cheating on horrible things like chips or cookies, overdosing on nuts and raisins isn’t that much better when you’re on a mission. This is a perfect example of how overeating healthy foods can still weaken your weight-loss efforts. Now, it’s obviously better to be eating foods that have nutritional value, but when it boils down to it nuts have a lot of fat (good fat) and raisins have a lot of sugar (natural sugar) so when you combine those in proportions big enough to cause a stomach ache, the results will not be satisfactory.

To point out the positive angle of all this, I have managed to maintain my three pound weight-loss, kept up with my workout routine and have been eating better-for-me foods overall.  Also, this little bump in the road will motivate me further to not grab that extra handful of peanuts while watching Revenge tonight.

On a lighter note, I finally made my decision on what dessert(s) I want to make for Thanksgiving. The first is a small variation to Martha Stewart’s “Chocolate-Glazed Pumpkin Cookies.” Instead of glazing with chocolate, I’m going to glaze with cinnamon cheesecake frosting made from scratch.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour ( I will probably substitute with whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat until smooth. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture in two parts and pumpkin puree in one, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined (do not over mix).
  3. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto two baking sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and edges are golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets once during baking. Immediately transfer cookies to wire racks, and cool completely.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 C (half stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 t vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (add more to taste)
  • 2-3 C powdered sugar (add more or less to make it a stiffness that you like)
  1. Mix cream cheese and butter well.
  2. Add vanilla and cinnamon.
  3. Add powdered sugar.

Read more: http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2008/09/cinnamon-cream-cheese-frosting-recipe.html#ixzz1dt0C3HHk

The second is an Ice-Cream Pumpkin Pie. Who doesn’t love ice-cream?!

Ingredients

  • 18 graham cracker boards
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
  • 1 pint chocolate chip ice cream, softened
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1 cup solid pack pumpkin
  • Chocolate curls for garnish, optional
Directions:1.Heat oven to 350 degrees F.2. In food processor, pulse graham crackers to form fine crumbs. Add butter and 1 tablespoon of the sugar; pulse to moisten crumbs. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Remove to a rack; cool completely.

4. Spread the softened chocolate chip ice cream over the bottom of the cooled crust. Freeze until hardened, about 3 hours.

5. In a medium-size bowl, mix together the vanilla ice cream, pumpkin and remaining tablespoon of cinnamon sugar. Spread over the top of the frozen chocolate chip layer. Freeze 3 hours or overnight.

6. To serve, garnish with chocolate curls if desired. If frozen overnight, let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

I can’t wait till Thanksgiving!!! Happy Hungry Hump Day :)

Gabby Giffords – An Inspiration

Last night, I was watching the 20/20 special on Gabby Giffords and it got me thinking… a lot.  I sat there watching in amazement at the immense positive energy and high spirits this woman exuded – even after all that has happened and what she had to go through. She literally had to start over – learning how to talk, how to walk and even how to smile. One word comes to mind when I think of her – perseverance.

No one plans for things like this to happen; we can only pray that they never do. It’s remarkable how she took this tragedy and turned it into triumph. Her incredibly high spirits and her relentless determination to be strong and overcome such obstacles makes you wonder – are my troubles really any troubles at all? It also got me thinking about how quickly and easily we forget about what matters in life. How we take certain things – even our life – for granted because we expect them to always be there like; family, friendships, our jobs and even our health. The problem with this ignorance is that when something does strike, we’re not prepared or we live in hindsight wishing we could have done things differently.

Stuff like this happens so that we can put things into perspective. Life is too short to “sweat the small stuff” because when it really comes down to it, “it’s all small stuff.” Tell your family you love them, show your friends they are important to you and treat your body right because it’s with you for the long haul and it deserves your respect!

Like Gabby Giffords, if we want to accomplish our goals, it requires perseverance, persistence, determination and high spirits! Oh, and positive energy – it evidently performs miracles!

“Energy and persistence conquer all things” — Benjamin Franklin

My Lucky Day!

On Friday, I decided to order two puffer coats – one in olive and one in cream because I couldn’t decide on which color I wanted- from Macy’s since they were on super sale. I had ordered them in a small, but then read the reviews that it runs super tight so I called up and asked to change my order to two mediums. “Yes, mam everything is good to go.”

Sunday rolls around and I receive three shipment confirmation emails. I open them up, each with individual tracking numbers – to find that they sent me two black ones, two olive ones and one cream. Oh, and they charged me for all five of them. Now, I’m fuming because how can you possibly make that big of a mistake when all you had to do was switch the small to a medium? I call up customer service, explain my situation to, I believe her name is, Trisha who tells me she will look into this and call me back – which thankfully she actually does. She then proceeds to tell me that she has re-routed the black coats and asked if I still wanted the olive coats. After having tried them on, the winning vote was cream so I told her to re-route the olive shipment too. At the end of the conversation, she confirms with me that she will be shipping the cream coat free of charge. Now, I was confused by this assuming she meant shipping charges, so I asked her “What do you mean free of charge?” She says, “You won’t have to pay for this coat because of all the trouble you went through.” Yup. I definitely got a free coat (originally $245 – btw) from Macy’s!!!

As if the day couldn’t get any better, I completed my first 5 mile run outside with my running sidekick, Georgia. The weather was gorgeous, besides the fierce winds which made it a little tougher, but we pushed through and finished in a little over an hour! Later in the day I went shopping with my cousin Stella and Kleo and stumbled across a beautiful 70’s inspired boucle tweed bell coat – which also happened to be 20% off! You can only guess what happens next. :)

I may have overdosed on raisins this weekend, but besides that I ate pretty well! I also skipped my workout Saturday, so I’ll have to make that up today. Let’s hope this week goes by quicker than last!

Happy Monday!

Big Fat Misconception!

Why is it that fat gets such a bad rap? The whole notion that “fat makes you fat” so eat less of it has been proven otherwise, thanks to the wrongly advised “fat-free, low-fat” era, where no one actually lost weight or lowered cholesterol – quite the opposite happened actually. Through extensive research and studies there have been many findings indicating that fat is not what increases cholesterol levels, affects weight gain or causes chronic disease. The real culprit here are sugars, trans fats, and processed foods – basically anything white.  “The whiter the bread the faster you’re dead.”

What happens when you are told to eat less fat? Naturally, you need to replace fat with another macro-nutrient such as carbohydrates. When you turn to fat-free, low-fat or even sugar-free products, something has been added/replaced in order to make up for the missing nutrient – otherwise understood as highly processed. Sadly, most Americans (not my readers, of course) weren’t taught to make the connection. They just see fat-free on the box and assume it has to be good for you – or because “my doctor told me to cut my fat intake.” Unfortunately, we were not taught to understand that what matters are the types of fats (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, trans.) and what foods have those types of fats. For example, an avocado doesn’t have a nutrition label on it, so unless you are interested in learning about it you wouldn’t know that it’s a “good fat.” Or, that eating pre-packaged low-fat foods are loaded with carbohydrates and sugars, which can cause heart disease and high cholesterol – because it certainly doesn’t advertise that on the box!

Obviously, everything is best in moderation. Too much of anything can never be good for us, however, replacing fats with sugars aka carbohydrates will not make you any less fatter – on the contrary, it might do the exact opposite. A good rule of thumb when it comes to general nutrition, and I’ve mentioned this before, is – eat real foods. I haven’t heard or seen anyone die from broccoli overdose! I’m not saying carbohydrates should never be consumed because vegetables actually fall into the carbohydrate category. Breads, pasta, potatoes and cereals aren’t the only carbohydrates that exist – they differ, though, because they are processed. No one said to never eat a piece of bread for the rest of your life either (again, extremes don’t last) but just take note on whether it’s white bread vs. whole grain, white rice vs. brown rice, or white pasta vs. whole wheat pasta. White generally means it has been stripped of its outer layer, which carries all the fiber, vitamins, and minerals. After all, we eat to survive – so why eat foods that increase our chances of disease or death?

Related articles:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-full-story/

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/carbohydrates/index.html

Weigh Day: Results From Sugar Detox – Week 1

I’m pleased to announce my results are in! I weighed myself last Wednesday, so in order to accurately track my progress I will be weighing myself every Wednesday until Thanksgiving. Drum roll, please. A total loss of three pounds this week! Yay! I finally broke the plateau I was stuck at for over three months.

How was my week during the detox? Well, the first few days were the hardest of course because your body goes into shock-mode, but having an end goal or vision really helps you prevail from moments of weakness. I also had to keep up with my training program so there were times where I felt a little tired, but I pushed through and made it happen – I have no choice in the matter. If you want to start an exercise program I suggest you sign up for a race. There’s nothing more motivating than having no choice but to follow the training program or you won’t make it to the finish line – it’s brilliant!

I’ll be honest; weekends are definitely the hardest part – for me – because I’m used to pretty much splurging and “cheating.” Not being able to do that or cheating with a fruit has really made quite the difference. Like I said earlier, if you cheat every weekend that’s nearly half of the month and you’ll never make progress – I learned that the hard way.

Is it easy to change your habits? No – it’s not easy, but anything worthwhile doesn’t come easy!!! I had to run 4.5 miles yesterday on the treadmill (sprinted the last quarter mile) – that sure as hell wasn’t easy even though I’m on my fifth week of training. The bottom line is you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. No one likes to diet or detox or run (and if they say they do, they are lying) but what they do like is the outcome and the feeling of accomplishment – knowing they have pushed themselves to the limit and ultimately survived – because you will survive!

My first 4.5 mile run: (the hear rate is off because I wasn’t wearing a hr monitor)

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” 
– Nelson Mandela

Happy Hungry Hump Day :)

Can’t Get Enough of Mexican Food

When I say I can’t get enough of Mexican Food I really mean it. I can probably eat some version of it every day. In fact, I have been eating it since Sunday night when my boo decided to whip up a nice Mexican dinner for us.

He even gave us options! Skirt steak with roasted poblano peppers or chicken with black beans, cilantro & onion? Vegetarian? No problem, we have beans with cilantro and spices.

I’m the queen of guacamole so that was my duty. Chef Billy made the most amazing pico from scratch: (they were both incredibly delicious – perfectly ripe avocados make me happy!)

So, that was how my Sunday night went. I had a little of the steak, chicken, beans (not pictured) guac and pico. Perfect Sunday night dinner, followed by my cousin Stella – who is doing the sugar detox with me – and I indulging in some fresh organic raisins straight from Greece (as our cheat food).

Apparently, Sunday’s dinner triggered my inner Mexican food passion – so I went grocery shopping last night because I decided I wanted to make my own “taco lettuce cups.” What is that you ask? Well, it’s basically ground turkey and veggies seasoned really well, topped with cheese and avocado, and wrapped up in butter leaf lettuce.

Healthy Taco Lettuce Wraps:

The goods:

  • 1lb lean ground turkey
  • 3 bell peppers various colors
  • 1/2 red onion or white onion
  • 4-6 oz of garlic roasted tomato sauce
  • 1 head of butter leaf lettuce
  • Shredded cheese of choice
  • 1/2 Avocado sliced
  • Spices: Cayenne, Chili powder, Paprika, Garlic Powder, Cumin, Salt, Pepper and Cinnamon

The process:

Season the meat really well with all the listed spices – just a dash of cinnamon though. Brown the meat on skillet covered in EVOO on medium heat. Once the meat looks lightly brown add in the chopped veggies (I used about half of them and put the rest in the fridge for later use.) Add in the tomato sauce and turn heat down to simmer. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes or until the veggies are a little tender and the tomato sauce has absorbed. Pour the taco mixture onto the lettuce cup, top with shredded cheese and avocado slices.

Chopped up peppers and onions (pic was taken after I used about half)

Veggies and ground turkey simmering:

My lunch: 

I brought a cup of the ground turkey mix which yielded three wraps. Incredibly satisfying and delicious! I will definitely be eating this for dinner tonight – I told you I can’t get enough of Mexican inspired dishes!

On the 10-K training front: today I’m supposed to run 3 miles, but since I didn’t run 4.5 on Sunday I’ll have to make that up tonight. * I inspired my dad to join me on the turkey trot, so I’m getting his butt to the gym too!

Crossing the Finish Line: My First 5k Race!

I did it! Not only did I finish my first 5K race, but I ran it at an average pace of 10:29 – my fastest pace ever! How’s that for a lovely surprise?

My Results: (because my dad didn’t believe that I finished)

http://ramracing.racebx.com/registrations/results/4e8a1c6a-6e9c-426d-b100-62ccc0a86522/fb:share&tm=1320677478

Okay, so let me just recap the entire race-day process starting from the night before. I slept at my cousin Lainey’s place in the city since she was running the race with me – shout out to her also for her first 5k and for having absolutely no training what-so-ever! I got to her place around 12:30 am because I was on singing duty the night before. My alarm was set for 6:30am, but I was up at the ripe time of 5:30 for a grand total of five desperately needed hours of sleep. Note to self: sleep is not overrated so please allow a full 8 hour slot for your next race.

I didn’t wash my face the night before. Yes, I broke my healthy skin rule #1, but sometimes you just need to pick your battles – sleep clearly won that one.

This is what it looked like outside when I got up:

I then proceeded to make the girls and I breakfast, which consisted of Multigrain toast with natural peanut butter and a cup of coffee: necessary running fuel!

 It is now 6:30 am and time to wake up my cousin Lainey. Our conversation as follows:

  • Me: “Wake up it’s race day!”
  • Lainey: “I’m just gonna sleep”
  • Me: “You need to get up, it’s for the children!”
  • Lainey: “I already donated”
  • Me: “I’m making you breakfast and coffee – you can do this!”
Suffice it to say, she got up like a true champion ready to shine! In fact, so eager she even hailed our cab.

It was in the upper 30’s – so slightly cold when you’re not warmed up, but perfect for running! I was wearing my thermal running pants, a tank, my dry-fit pull over, the hot chocolate race jacket, a vest and ear warmers.

Our lovely morning faces:

There were over 30,000 people ready to run like they meant it:
I wish I was able to take pictures of some of the motivational posters during the race, but it proved to be too difficult. One of my favorites: “Run Stranger Run!”I let out a good smile when I read that and I also noticed that as I would see these signs my pace would get quicker. It was so inspiring running alongside all these people and the crowds cheering for us made it even that much more motivating!

The run itself wasn’t bad, but there were times when it was a little crowded and you had to run around people – making it hard to set a good pace. I used my running app on my phone to track my pace and distance as well, and noticed that we actually ran more than a 5k. I was getting really confused when we would reach the markers and my phone was telling me we were at a further distance – only later to find out that a truck was blocking the race course, so there was a last minute detour which extended the distance to about 3.3 miles. That made me happy because I was slightly disappointed with my time at first.

Here at last:

I nearly cried from tears of joy when I saw that beautiful sign! What an incredible feeling it is to cross the finish line after all your hard work. It really does pay off :)

Things I will do differently for my upcoming race:

1. Get a good night’s sleep

2. Wear gloves – my fingers nearly fell off.

3. Look over the race route – I didn’t do that for this one and decided it’s necessary.

4. Know that it’s okay to take walk breaks if you need them.

Overall, I will say that all my routinely runs fared to serve their purpose. The feeling of accomplishment is well worth the short-term feeling of torture. If you haven’t signed up for a 5k yet, I urge you to make that one of your future goals – you won’t be disappointed :)

*Stickers the whole weekend. I’ll have you know that I did “cheat” with raisins yesterday – if you count that as cheating ;)

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes – Paleo Style

Free at last! In honor of this fabulous day I’d like to share another recipe that I found from the same blog I cited yesterday.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes – Paleo Style

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Earth Balance
Process:

  1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, blend all ingredients with a hand mixer.
  2. Heat 1 tsp of coconut oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat.
  3. Add 1/8-1/4 cup of batter to the frying pan.
  4. Cook pancakes for about 2 minutes, or until batter releases easily from the frying pan, flip, and cook for a remaining minute or two.
  5. Top with apple butter, or your personal favorite pancake topping, and enjoy.
Ready for work:
Nutrition Facts: (Makes 4 pancakes)
Calories: 403
Fat: 21.3
Protein: 28
Carbs: 24
Fiber: 12
Sugar: 0

I was intrigued by this recipe because I have never used coconut flour before, so I decided to do some research and found that it’s a great low-carb, gluten-free, and high fiber alternative to other flours. As you can see in the nutrition facts, half of the carbs come from fiber and there is absolutely no sugar – unless you add maple syrup or apple butter etc.

Summary: I’m all about trying new things. The key to this recipe is to be open minded. You can’t go into this expecting it to taste like your standard buttermilk pancakes because you will be greatly disappointed – I assure you. I topped mine with some earth balance as I am on a sugar detox and can’t use maple syrup or apple butter. It’s super easy to make and it smells amazing! In terms of taste and texture, I’ll have to say it’s more like a bread than like a pancake because it’s a little thicker and grainier and less fluffy or airy. I bet with some maple syrup in the batter or even topped with apple butter it would taste magnificent.

Some ideas to modify this recipe would be to add some raisins/craisins to the mix, top it with a nut-butter, and add some vanilla extract or more milk (dairy or non-dairy) to make it fluffier. Overall, it’s a great recipe to play with and especially great during sugar detox, low-carb or gluten-free diets! Don’t be afraid to try new things – look up some recipes that call for coconut flour and have fun!

*3 out of 3 so far on my sticker calendar! Tomorrow is my first 5k race day – wish me luck! Happy Friday :)