Monica’s Birthday Challenge- We Have a Winner!!!

Before I announce the winner I would like to take a minute and say a few things.

To everyone who participated in the challenge; thank you! This has been so much fun for me; creating new challenges weekly and pushing myself. You have been great support during a time when I needed you the most.

I am even more thankful because this challenge reminded me of the importance of having a good support team and camaraderie through this journey. Although I am the only one accountable for my progress I know that I am not in this alone and that is the best feeling. You guys are all so amazing, I hope you recognize that and feel proud of everything you have accomplished and excited for everything you will.

Also, I need to mention that there is another weight loss challenge, similar to this one, that is about to start in just a few weeks on May 12. It is going to be hosted by follow MBC participant Sarah (@SarahLou1976, http://uktocalifornia.blogspot.com) and it sounds awesome. Read about the details here. I am going to do it. I am hoping this helps keep me pushing myself through the summer, working my way toward goal. Are you up for it? I hope so! Because I am totally going to kick your butt. Just kidding. Well, kind of 😉

By now you are probably ready for me to get to the good part- announcing the winner so I will get right to it.

Drumroll please….da da da da da da da da…

Congratulations Alexis! Miss @divaonadiet, you are the official winner of Monica’s Birthday Challenge with an astounding 9.18% loss! Great job! That is beyond amazing! Please email me so we can discuss the details of your winnings! 🙂

Again, thank you to everyone who participated. You all made this such a fun competition. Love you guys!

Thanks for reading!

 

April 22, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Monica's Birthday Challenge, Weight Loss. 4 comments.

Veg Week 2012: A Week of Vegan Recipes

Next week, April 23 through April 29, is Veg Week. I am very excited about this. Obviously it was easy for me to pledge to eat vegetarian for a week, you know being a vegan and all, but I am excited thinking about all of the people out there pledging to take one week out of their lives and try something new. The basis of Veg Week is compassion over killing and although my choice to go vegan did not start out for this reason it has quickly become a big part of this lifestyle for me.

In honor of Veg Week I wanted to put a post together filled with quick and healthy recipes that utilize easy to find ingredients. I want people to feel comfortable taking the seven day pledge. Choosing to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet should not be stressful and I thought what better way to help others out who want to take this challenge by giving some advice, tips and recipes to make it as easy as possible.

Breakfast

There are so many great blogs and cookbooks dedicated to vegan cooking and I could provide you with tons of great breakfast recipes but for the sake of your sanity (and mine) and the fact that most people don’t cook huge, elaborate breakfasts during the week I say keep breakfast simple.

Cereal with non-dairy milk (I prefer almond milk) with some sliced fruit. I love Uncle Sam original with sliced banana and almond milk. Some days I’ll even add some walnuts, too. Check out this list of vegan cereals on the PETA website– you will be amazed at the choices of cereals you have!

Oatmeal with Berries/apples/raisins and a splash of non-dairy milk- YUM!

Toast (I prefer Food for Life or other sprouted grain bread which can be found in the freezer section) or English muffin with nut butter and sliced banana – this is usually a snack for me but would make a great breakfast.

Lunch

I am a creature of habit. Most weekdays you will find me eating soup and salad for lunch. I change up the soup weekly/bi-weekly so it’s not really the same thing day in and day out but it kind of is. I like it this way, though. I love salad. I love soup. It’s what I want to eat. Paul…not so much. His lunches are either leftovers (which you will have for most of these recipes) or I make up some grain and bean salad or quick bowls (from the Whole Foods website) for him. However, don’t forget that something as simple and easy as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich would be a perfect vegan lunch.

I like to keep these salad ingredients on hand for lunches but I also use them in other recipes like the hummus pitas: plastic container of salad mix (I like the organic mesculin mix), cherub tomatoes, bagged shredded carrots, alfalfa/broccoli/radish sprouts, bell peppers, cucumber, and zucchini.

If you are a soup person like me then try making up a batch on Sunday and then portion it out into Ziploc baggies and freeze. I pull a portion out of the freezer for my lunch each day- it’s so super easy. Here are two fast and easy soup recipes I love to make.

Soup Recipes

Asian-Inspired Vegetable Soup from Weight Watchers

Makes 6 hearty servings or 12 smaller servings

2 cup(s) uncooked bok choy, chopped

2 cup(s) uncooked Chinese cabbage, chopped

3 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced

1/4 cup(s) ginger root, thinly sliced and julienned

4 small uncooked oyster mushroom(s), chopped

2 cup(s) uncooked scallion(s), chopped

1 cup(s) canned water chestnut(s), sliced (8 oz can)

1/2 cup(s) sweet red pepper(s), thinly sliced

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

6 cup(s) vegetable broth

2 cup(s) snow peas, stringed

2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup(s) cilantro, finely chopped

Directions
Put bok choy, Chinese cabbage, garlic, ginger root, mushrooms, scallions, water chestnuts, red pepper, red pepper flakes and broth into a large soup pot; stir to combine. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partly covered, for about 10 minutes. Toss in snow peas during the last 3 to 4 minutes of simmering.

Stir in soy sauce and cilantro.

*If you can’t find oyster mushrooms try white mushrooms instead. No Chinese cabbage use Savoy or green. I don’t like water chestnuts so I omit them and add half a box of prepared thin rice noodles instead.

Vegan Curried Split Pea Soup from Vegan with a Vengeance

This is the first vegan cookbook I owned, months and months before becoming a vegan, and this was the first recipe I tried. I love it! Not a lot of ingredients. Super easy. Very tasty.

Number of Servings: 6

Ingredients
16 oz dried split peas
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced small
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups water
1 carrot, grated
fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Spice blend:
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons salt
generous pinch cinnamon

Directions
Sauté the onions in the olive oil at medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and spices. Sauté 2 more minutes.

Add the water and stir well. Add the split peas. Cover and bring to a boil.
Bring heat back down to medium; let soup simmer for about an hour, until peas are tender. Grate in the carrot and serve. You can garnish with fresh cilantro if you have it on hand.

Snacks

I am a big fan of snacking and prior to becoming a vegan my routine was 3 meals and 3 snacks a day. That hasn’t changed. I mainly stick to fruits and nuts for snacks but here are some other things I like to keep on hand to snack on as well.

Apples and almonds (my typical morning snack)

Grapefruit (or oranges if you don’t like to eat plain grapefruit)

Hummus and veggies (or pita chips or pretzels)

Toast with nut butter and banana

Popcorn (whole kernels, microwave in a brown paper bag, seasoned with spices)

Dark Chocolate

Non-dairy ice cream with fresh fruit and nuts

Dinners

Paul and I were talking about this post yesterday and what recipes I should include. Here are some of our favorites and anything with an (*) notes the changes/tweaks/tips to the recipe. All of these are from Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet. His recipes are super tasty, easy and healthy and so we use them quite frequently. They also don’t use a ton of ingredients and come together quickly which is important to me as a hungry cook who wants to eat ASAP so she can get to riding. I love my new hobby.

Jane’s Jammin’ Burritos

Serves 6
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 zucchini, chopped
2 yellow squash, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cups shredded Napa cabbage (*I buy one head and use for both this and the asian-inspired vegetable soup)
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans fat-free vegetarian refried beans
1 cup cooked brown rice (*cook up 2 cups and save one cup to use on Rip’s Sweet Potato bowl)
2 teaspoons cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 large Ezekiel sprouted-grain wraps (*if you can’t find Ezekiel brand just use any large/burrito size whole wheat tortillas you can find)
Salsa
Guacamole (*I buy Wholly Guacamole brand guac usually found in the produce section and keep a box or two on hand at all times. I love the 100-calorie packs because they are the perfect size – we split one pack per two burritos)

Preheat oven to 350º.
Sauté the onion and garlic in a large sprayed skillet on high heat for 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, and cabbage to the skillet. Cook 4–5 minutes, until the vegetables are al dente (soft but firm) and the cabbage is wilting. Add the black beans, refried beans, and rice to the skillet. Stir the ingredients together on low heat until the mixture is thick and mortar-like. Season with the cumin and cayenne. Slap a large spoonful of veggie mortar onto the center of the Ezekiel wrap and spread it from top to bottom along the center line. Fold the sides over using a bit of the veggie mortar as adhesive for the top flap. Rest the burritos next to each other and place them seam side down on a sprayed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the wraps are crisp. Serve with salsa and guacamole on top.

Esselstyn, Rip (2009-02-19). The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds (Kindle Location 3821). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.

*This recipe makes 6 gigantic burritos. You can halve the recipe if that is just too much for you or wrap leftover burritos in aluminum foil and place in Ziploc bag. These keep well frozen and make great leftovers for lunch or for dinner next week.

Rip’s Sweet Potato Bowl

Serves 2
1 large cooked sweet potato, skin removed, cut into cubes (*or two medium/small potatoes)
1 mango, peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and chopped
½ bunch chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Balsamic vinegar to taste

Esselstyn, Rip (2009-02-19). The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds (Kindle Locations 3795-3801). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.

*How I make this recipe- I microwave the potatoes for like 5 minutes to cook them (make sure you pierce the skin with a fork first) and then let them cool a bit before peeling them. I warm the black beans in a small pot with some water/veggie broth and some chili powder. I toss in the bell pepper and ½ cup frozen corn and let them warm together. Reheat the leftover brown rice from the burritos. On a plate or bowl layer potatoes, rice and bean mixture then top with mango, avocado and cilantro. I squeeze some fresh lime juice and top with salsa. I omit the vinegar.

Healthy Homemade Hummus

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2–3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Bragg Liquid Aminos or low-sodium tamari (*low-sodium soy sauce works fine too)
3 tablespoons water or vegetable broth

Blend all the ingredients into a thick paste, using a small amount of water as necessary to achieve desired consistency.

Variations: Customize by adding one or more of the following:
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and chopped
1 roasted, seeded, and chopped red bell pepper
1 cup dark or Kalamata olives
1 bunch fresh mint
1 cup fresh spinach
1 cup cooked eggplant

Esselstyn, Rip (2009-02-19). The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds (Kindle Location 3940). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.

*This is one of my favorite recipes. I make a batch of the hummus up and spread a thick layer of it inside a pita. I top it with cucumbers, tomatoes, shredded carrots, sprouts, squash, really any veggies you have on hand would work. I serve it with a side of canned black-eyed peas (drained and rinsed) warmed in water or veggie broth and topped with some hot sauce. Voila- dinner in less than 10 minutes.

Pasta Primavera

1 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeño pepper, minced (remove seeds to reduce heat)
1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 bunch fresh kale, rinsed and chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz (I prefer Muir Glen no salt added, organic which they carry at the commissary)
1 jar pasta sauce (I prefer Organic Ville, Whole Foods brand, or Newman’s Own)
16 ounces whole-grain spaghetti, cooked
½ cup raw cashews, finely ground

Sauté the onion, garlic, and corn in a large skillet on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the jalapeño, bell pepper, and kale to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and pasta sauce to the vegetables. Ladle the sauce over the pasta and top with the cashews.

Esselstyn, Rip (2009-02-19). The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds (Kindle Locations 3205-3214). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.

*This is a great base recipe and I tweak it based on whatever veggies I have on hand. I have used frozen corn instead or canned, red pepper flakes instead of jalapeno, omitted kale (which I recommend using if you have it) and threw in every frozen veggie I had in the freezer, including okra. Oh, and those shredded carrots I use for my salad- yeah, I toss those in too. This recipe is practically fail proof and it makes a ton and the sauce freezes nicely. I omit the cashews and use half the amount of pasta. I prefer penne or fussili over spaghetti- whatever your preference is go for it.

New York Times Veggie Burgers

Makes 8 Patties
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can tomatoes with zesty mild chilies, drained
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup parsley or cilantro
2 cups quick rolled oats
8 whole grain buns
Fresh veggie toppings and healthy condiments

Preheat oven to 450º. Process the first seven ingredients using an immersion or a regular blender or food processor. Remove contents into a large bowl and stir in the oats. Form into patties, place on a sprayed baking sheet, and bake for 8 minutes. Turn oven up to broil and cook for 2 more minutes, until the tops are nicely browned. Toast the buns and pile on your favorite toppings. Variation: Sauté the burgers on medium heat in a sprayed nonstick skillet for 5 minutes on each side, until both sides are browned.

Esselstyn, Rip (2009-02-19). The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds (Kindle Locations 3061-3073). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.

*The only change I make to the recipe is adding in a tablespoon or two of flour to bind it better. Sometimes make mixture seems a little wet (maybe I don’t drain the tomatoes well enough) and so I found if I add some flour it binds it together nicely. Oh, and I cook mine longer. Ten minutes on each side. I usually cook up half the mixture and freeze the other half since there are only two of us. 8 patties are too much for one meal for us. These are great topped with grilled onions and peppers, guac, and salsa or ketchup, mustard and relish work too.

EMS Portobello Mushroom Fajitas with Rice and Guacamole

Serves 4
4 Portobello mushrooms, sliced into thick strips
1 large onion, sliced
2 bell peppers, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 jalapeño pepper, diced (remove seeds to reduce heat)
12 corn or whole grain tortillas
Guacamole
Salsa
3 cups cooked brown rice

Cook the mushrooms in a large nonstick skillet on high heat for 3 minutes, or until the mushrooms begin to brown slightly. Add the onion to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and jalapeño and cook for 3 minutes. Warm the tortillas. To serve, spoon the mushrooms, bell pepper, and onion strips into the corn tortillas with the guacamole and salsa. Serve with a side of rice and beans.

Esselstyn, Rip (2009-02-19). The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds (Kindle Locations 3809-3819). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.

*I omit the rice and serve with a can of fat free refried beans instead. To the mushroom fajita mix I also add in some taco seasoning blend I made for some added seasoning. Use whatever seasoning you like; cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, etc. Leftover fajita veggies make a great addition to salad the next day.

Three-Bean Chili

Serves 6 to 8
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 bay leaves
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 cups water
2 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, with juice, chopped
1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
1 pound firm tofu, crumbled
1 can corn or frozen equivalent
1 apple, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons coriander
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
½ cup chopped parsley or cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion on medium-high heat in a large sprayed soup pot for 5 minutes. Add garlic, bay leaves, bell peppers, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and jalapeño, and cook on medium for 5 more minutes. Add beans, water, tomatoes, tomato paste, tofu, corn, apple, remaining seasonings, mustard, molasses, and parsley or cilantro. Cover and simmer on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Esselstyn, Rip (2009-02-19). The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds (Kindle Locations 3682-3701). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.

*This makes a lot. Like a giant pot full of chili. It is not spicy and the apple and molasses add a sweetness not usually found in chili. It is not like any chili I have ever had before. With that being said- I love it. Think of it as a stew and not a chili and then you won’t be disappointed when it isn’t what you expected. Again, this freezes wonderfully and I freeze it in individual portions so I can have for lunches or dinners.

I hope some of these recipes sound good to you and inspire you to try to eat vegan for a week. I picked recipes with ingredients you should be able to find at any regular grocery store but if there is something you can’t find feel free to ask me or a grocery store employee what would be a substitute for it. We eat a lot of foods that have somewhat of a Tex-Mex flavor so we always have guacamole (like I mentioned before Wholly Guacamole is a lifesaver) and salsa (we prefer Muir Glen organic or Newman’s Own both of which we buy from the commissary) on hand. Veggie broth is another staple as well as low-sodium soy sauce, brown rice, and whole grain pastas. All of these items you can buy at any grocery.

Some other great online resources to check out in case you still need some ideas are:
Engine 2 Diet
Post Punk Kitchen
The Blissful Chef
The Happy Herbivore
Oh She Glows
The Sensitive Pantry

And of course don’t forget to check out the Veg Week websiteand take the seven day pledge!

Thanks for reading!

April 18, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Veg Week, Vegan. 6 comments.

Monica’s Birthday Challenge: Week 7 Results and Week 8 Challenge

Another week has come to an end for Monica’s Birthday Challenge. We now have just one week remaining in the challenge. Crazy!

Are you happy with your progress so far? If not, know that you have the power to make this week different. You can change your path starting now so do it. No excuses!

The results are in and our current leader is still Alexis A. (@divaonadiet) with a total loss of 8.29% so far. I am not even kidding, that is really her number. Woo hoo! Congrats Alexis! That’s pretty amazing! Would you care to share your secrets? 😉

I am so proud of Alexis and the progress she has made but if there is one thing I have learned by watching her weight drop every week is that this challenge, this competition, is personal and unique for each of us. I cannot compare myself to Alexis and wonder what I am doing wrong, why I am not getting the same results as her. All I can do is to be honest with myself, make the best choices I can and try my hardest and whatever the results are is how my body reacts to those choices. I cannot change that. We can only do our best and have to be satisfied with the outcome regardless of whether that number is 8%, 4% or .50%- if we gave it our best we have to be happy with the results. Each day we chose to put our health and wellness first is a victory. I am so proud of all of you for making the choice to do so!

Are you ready for week 8 and our last challenges?

Challenge 1: Minutes…Make them count!

Can you dedicate this week to exercise? I hope so. I hope each of you can carve out some time every day for yourself. It’s important. We need it.

This challenge has two levels; you pick which one you would like to attempt.

Level 1: 200 minutes of fitness. That is roughly 30 minutes a day. For those of us that are super busy, work, kids, travel, etc, 30 minutes a day is still doable. Take a walk on your lunch break. Pop in a DVD after the kids are asleep. Anybody can take 200 minutes out 10,080 minutes in a week for themself, right?

Level 2: 300 minutes of fitness. This is roughly 45 minutes a day. This is a little more intense of a challenge geared to those who have a more flexible schedule and like to spend a bit longer at the gym/working out. Still totally doable for a busy person. It’s only 300 minutes out of 10,080- that’s not even 3% of your week. Yeah, you can do this!

Challenge 2: H20 Baby!

It is only right that if I tell you to bust your butt this week on the fitness side that I also challenge you to make sure you are drinking enough water. This because even more important when you are working out because you need to replenish what you sweat out. Also, this is just something I do and I am not 100% sure if I am correct in doing so but I do not count the water I drink at the gym/immediately after as part of my intake since it is replenishing what was already in my body. For me I do a minimum of 2 liters a day in addition to what I drink working out.  A good rule of thumb for water intake is drinking half of your weight in ounces of water or 64 oz, whichever is higher. Can you drink that every day? I think we should try to reach our recommended water intake every day this week.

Challenge 3: No Crap!

There are certain things that I think are just crap for our body. Meaning they either do more harm than good or no good at all. The reality is, if we eat calorie dense food with no nutrients (think fast food) that our body won’t feel satisfied. It is why we can eat an insane amount of calories at a meal and still feel hungry a few hours later. It is why obesity is out of control in this country. We are over fed and nutrient deprived. It’s SAD- the Standard American Diet.

Choosing to eat foods that are full of nutrients satisfy our bodies, leave us feeling full and decrease our chances of overeating while also giving us the nutrients we NEED to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Foods with vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids in addition to fat, carbs, protein and fiber. All of these things are imperative for our health.

Without me going into foods I think are crap that may be more difficult for people to eliminate from their diet I will just pick some of the key players and let you decide which one you would like to eliminate this week.

Soda– I haven’t drank soda in I don’t know how long. Maybe 10 months. I used to be a junky (I only drank diet soda all day long, like easily a 2L a day) but now soda disgusts me. Filled with high fructose corn syrup (or other nasty chemicals if you drink diet) and caffeine and whole slew of bizarre shit we probably shouldn’t be putting in our body. It provides us with zero nutrients, it dehydrates us, and it adds in bad chemicals that we work so hard to flush from our system by drinking water. It does nothing good for our body at all.  And if you care to know, I feel the same way about pretty much any flavored beverages like Crystal Light or any artificial sweetened drinks. I drink herbal tea and water only but I wasn’t always that way. I am just saying it is possible to break the addiction, if you want to.

Chips/French Fries– the result of following the Standard American Diet shows that half of our fruit and vegetable intake (which is only 12% of what we are eating, very sad)comes from one vegetable in particular. POTATOES. My guess is that the 6% potato intake comes from crappy fries and chips not healthy baked potatoes. Potatoes are not the enemy. Well not until you strip away all the nutrients they provide (like fiber from the skin) and then deep fry them adding in fat, usually the bad kind. Or maybe just as bad, take a healthy baked potato and load it up with bacon, cheese, butter, sour cream. Yes you get some protein from bacon but really you just added in fat, fat, fat, and fat. Yes, we do need fat to survive. Fat intake is important but in the land of good fats and bad I lump butter, cheese and milk in the bad fat category but I understand if you don’t feel the same. Everything in moderation, right? I eat baked potatoes and sweet potatoes pretty regularly and when I add in my fat it comes from avocado or beans (both of which provide more than just fat) and am completely satisfied after I eat and never feel deprived. So, this week I challenge you to give up potato chips and french fries and try swapping them out for healthy baked potatoes with yummy and nutritious toppings.

Candy/Cake/Cookies-sugar, especially white seems to be the number one enemy of the Standard American Diet. There is sugar in everything. EVERYTHING. That’s how I felt when we did the sugar challenge a few weeks ago and realized it was added into almost every packaged food I bought. Crazy. Another junk food item I feel we could all do better without is sweets. Again, when you look at what it is you are eating and how much sugar is in it maybe a week without sweets is a good thing. Not all sweets are bad, I know dark chocolate has antioxidants which are important but it doesn’t mean to eat a whole cake just because it has dark chocolate frosting. I think a piece of dark chocolate now and again isn’t a bad thing. It’s the bags of candy, cookies and cakes that we eat too many of too frequently is a bad thing. Too much sugar is no bueno so take a week and try to live without it. If you want sweets eat a piece of fruit. I particularly like to keep frozen white grapes on hand in the summer for a cool, sweet treat.

So there are three food items I consider crap. Pick one and eliminate it from your diet this week. There are healthy swaps for all three so you don’t need to feel deprived. Deprivation is never a good thing but finding healthy items to replace the junk is.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

April 15, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Monica's Birthday Challenge, Weight Loss. 2 comments.

This Is Not Goodbye

I need a break.

A break from the blog, a break from social media. Just a break from it all.

After this contest ends I am going on a temporary hiatus from blogging. I have already cut way back on my Twitter and Facebook time and keep going back and forth about deleting my Twitter account entirely.

You have my email- it’s posted on the blog page. You know how to get in touch with me. I will still be here if you need anything at all.

I just need a break.

I need time to reevaluate my situation.

I don’t feel like I am doing my best to help anyone right now, especially not myself.

Right now I am at a point in my journey where reading people’s blogs or going on Twitter is just frustrating to me. It’s hard to explain what’s going on in my head right now and I know if I tried to I would just piss people off so let’s just say I need a break.

I’m drained.

There is no use to keep pushing myself towards these expectations I have set for myself, in regards to this blog, when I know I am never going to get there.

So, I am just going to step away for a bit and decide what my next step will be. What I want from this blog. What message I want to send. I have changed so much and so I think it is time for this blog to change as well.

This is not goodbye. This is just a quick break. I’ll be back and hopefully this blog will still be something that interests you.

Take care and as always, thanks for reading!

April 12, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Blogging, inspiration. 9 comments.

MB Challeneg: Week Six Results and Week Seven Challenge

Another week has come to an end for Monica’s Birthday Challenge. We are now 3/4 of the way through the challenge. Crazy how fast those six weeks flew by!

Are you happy with your progress so far? If not, know that you have the power to make this week different. You can change your path starting now so do it. No excuses!

The results are in and our current leader is still Alexis A. (@divaonadiet) with a total loss of 6.51% so far. Woo hoo! Congrats Alexis! That’s pretty amazing! Would you care to share your secrets? 😉

I am so proud of Alexis and the progress she has made but if there is one thing I have learned by watching her weight drop every week is that this challenge, this competition, is personal and unique for each of us. I cannot compare myself to Alexis and wonder what I am doing wrong, why I am not getting the same results as her. All I can do is to be honest with myself, make the best choices I can and try my hardest and whatever the results are is how my body reacts to those choices. I cannot change that. We can only do our best and have to be satisfied with the outcome regardless of whether that number is 6.51% or 0.51%- if we gave it our best we have to be happy with the results. Each day we chose to put our health and wellness first is a victory. I am so proud of all of you for making the choice to do so!

Are you ready for week 7 and the new challenges?

Challenge 1: Miles or Reps- You Choose

Last week we racked up the miles and although I loved this challenge I know there is a large number of people doing this challenge who focus on weight/strength training. Since I don’t want to exclude them this week I am going to change the challenge to miles or reps.

Walk/Run: 16 miles

Bike: 60 miles

Reps: 500 My logic behind the 500 was this; I know I usually do 30 reps of an exercise or on a machine. I figured 5 machines/exercises would be 150 reps. Three times a week equals 450 reps. Rounded up to make a nice even 500. Seems realistic, right?

Challenge 2: 100% Perfection

This week I want you to pick one thing you are struggling with and do it every day, no skippsies! So if you are struggling with your water intake try for 100 oz a day for all seven days. If you hate tracking but know it works (cough, cough wink, wink) then track for all seven days. Even Easter/Passover. No free passes this week.

Challenge 3: NO CANDY

I really wanted to say this challenge will include today and that you can’t have any candy whatsoever but then you might think of me more like a dictator, not a friend. So for this challenge I say go ahead and have a couple pieces (2-3) today. Don’t go crazy. WW peeps those fun size bars are like 2 PP and if you have just 5 of them that’s ten points. That’s the equivalent of a meals worth of points. And guess what? You’ll still be hungry because they provide no nutrients to your body. So have a piece or two, paired with some fruit for a filling snack and then step away from the candy. You’ll be very happy you did.

Then tomorrow when you are in a house/office filled with leftover candies be strong. Fight the temptation. Arm yourself with good, filling, healthy alternatives and walk away. We are all strong enough to beat the candy monster.

Ok, so that’s about it for this week. Are you ready for the challenges?  I hope so.

Happy Holidays!

Good luck and thanks for reading!

April 8, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Monica's Birthday Challenge, Weight Loss. 4 comments.

Wordless Wednesday: Happiness

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Thanks for reading!

April 4, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . wordless wednesday. Leave a comment.

MB Challenge: My Progress

I have been really struggling with my blog lately. It’s been a combination of not enough free time and not enough new topics that have kept me from getting in regular posts. I apologize about that and am going to try to do better with posting more frequently.

Having a lot on my plate is not really a good excuse though. Who doesn’t have a lot on their plate? Everyone I know is busy so if my fellow bloggers can write multiple posts a week then so can I.

Today I want to share with you my progress in Monica’s Birthday Challenge. Although I am not eligible to win it I am still tracking my progress and participating in the challenges. So far I have lost 4.61% percent of my starting weight going from 178.0 down to 169.8 pounds. I am pretty pleased with my progress so far. Getting my workouts in during the AM definitely helps as well as tri training and having a new bike that I love to ride. I am guessing you figured that out when you saw this week’s miles challenge.

Speaking of the miles challenge so far I have rode for 27.27 miles (20.4 on my bike, 6.87 at the gym) and have walked/ran 2.69 miles. I am over halfway to my 50 mile bike goal but less than 20% to my 15 mile walk/run goal. Definitely need to step it up on the walk/run portion.

I planned on going for a walk last night but I was just so exhausted, my body had a different plan. I hit the gym in the AM and then had my lunch time yoga class so no, I didn’t feel guilty not getting in a walk last night. Yes, I want to reach the 15 mile goal but not if it means overexerting myself. My body was tired; it needed rest so that is what I gave it.

Tuesday is my Weight Watchers meeting at work so I don’t normally workout. I try to take it easy on my weigh in day and so I won’t be hitting the gym at any point today. I will, however, be heading out for Girls Night later this evening. We are having our second girls only outing at the roller skating rink. I am super excited. Not only is skating a great way to have fun while being active it also allows you to be carefree for a few hours. I totally feel like a 12 year old when I am out there. I don’t think about work or other life stressors and just focus on skating and having fun with my girls. It’s great.

My workout plan for the rest of the week includes; swimming (W, F), yoga (W), Couch to 5K week 6 days 2 &3 (Th, Sat), stationary bike (Th, Sat), cycling (W, F, Sun) and walking (Th, F, Sat) and I am pretty excited. Oh and how can I forget Kick-Ass April and Six-Pack March from the Sisterhood? I am doing squats, burpees, wall sits, push-ups, sit-ups and planks daily, too.

I wanted to point out that if you are following the Kick-Ass April routine set up by the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans the burpees are in seconds, not reps. So for day one it was 30 seconds of burpees not 30 burpees. Just wanted to clarify that since I have heard from several people that they thought it was reps. It’s not, don’t kill yourself doing burpees. 😉

Although I have been doing really good with tracking I have not been doing really good with food choices. This weekend I ate a lot of junk and drank more than I probably should have. So for this week I am trying to make better choices. For my lunches this week, I made a batch of Asian Inspired Vegetable Soup (recipe courtesy of Weight Watchers) to which I added some thin rice noodles to make it a little more substantial. I will be having my standard salad with that, too.

For breakfasts I am going to start my day with a pre-workout meal of a banana and an almond date roll. Post workout I will have a Vega recovery drink and then a Vega One nutritional shake. I switched over to the nutritional shake instead of my normal green monster smoothie because it is filled with so much good stuff and so much faster to prepare in the morning it is totally worth the additional cost.

For dinners this week we are having; BBQ mushroom sandwiches, pasta primavera, pitas with veggies and healthy hummus, pad thai and a red quinoa lentil tart. I am still not sure if we will have a special dinner for Easter Sunday but I do plan on making baked quinoa oatmeal for breakfast that day. I did just see that Engine 2 posted on their blog some Easter meal ideas so I am going to definitely check that out.

So, that about wraps up my week; how I plan to complete the two fitness challenges along with what I am eating which will hopefully help me conquer the food challenge as well. I would love to see another loss this week and am hoping this plan helps me get there.

How are you facing your challenges this week?

Thanks for reading!

April 3, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Monica's Birthday Challenge, Weight Loss. 3 comments.

MB Challenge: Week Five Results and Week Six Challenge

Another week has come to an end for Monica’s Birthday Challenge. We only have a few weeks left so it’s about to get crazy. I am about to become your worst enemy. OK, I may be exaggerating but the reality is you might not like me very much after you see this week’s challenges. Yep, challenges. Plural. Three in fact. But we have some business to take care of first.

The results are in and our current leader is still Alexis A. (@divaonadiet) with a total loss of 4.91% so far. Woo hoo! Congrats Alexis! That’s pretty amazing!

I just have to mention that this has been the closest leaderboard to date. Someone is right behind Alexis at 4.90%. Isn’t that crazy? Right now first and second are within 1/100 of each other. This is still anybody’s game so keep pushing!

I’m excited to see if next week we will have a new leader or can Alexis hold on to her spot?

Congrats and good job to and to everyone who reported in this week. You may have done better, worse or as expected but by being accountable to yourself and the scale you acknowledge that this is a journey and that along it you will encounter all sorts of bumps in the road. Just keep at, be honest with yourself, and hold your head up high. You should be proud of where you are and how far you’ve come.

Are you ready for week 6 and the new challenges?

It’s about to get real up in here….lol! Yeah, I am pretty dramatic about all this. I want everyone to take it serious this week and really bring your A game!

Challenge 1: Kick-Ass April from Shrinking Jeans

I am kicking myself for not participating in the March challenge from the awesome ladies over at the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans. Not this month though.  I am not missing out on April’s move-it challenge and I don’t want you to either. It’s a good one. The focus is on legs and it will be challenging getting through the month so let’s start with week one’s plan and go from there. Each day this week (with the exception of Saturday which is a rest day) we will be doing squats, burpees and wall sits. The post about this challenge (click here) has the whole month laid out for us as well as instructions for how to complete each exercise. I have my calendar printed and on the fridge ready to go. You won’t need but a few minutes each day to do this but I promise it will be a great and rewarding challenge. The Sisterhood doesn’t disappoint.

Challenge 2: Racking up the Miles

Ok walkers, runners, bikers,  and ellipticalers (doubt that is a real word) it’s time to start counting our miles. This week I am challenging my walkers/runners/ellipticalers to log a minimum of 15 miles. And anyone who bikes/cycles I challenge you to log 50 miles. Of course you can always go crazy and try for 65 miles doing both- combining the walking/running and biking minimum goals. Did you guess that is what I am going to try for this week? I’m so predictable. If you don’t typically walk, run or bike then this is your week to give it a whirl. Walking for 30-40 minutes daily can probably get you 15 miles this week so give it a try. It’s a challenge, it should be challenging.

Challenge 3: The Hunger Games

Food. Ugh! I really would love to give you some crazy food challenges but that’s just not fair so I am going to stick with last week’s food challenge (because it doesn’t involve buying/trying anything new or spending any additional money)  but with a tweak. Last week I challenged you to only eat when you are hungry and to stop eating when you are full. I talked about mindless snacking and overeating being my weaknesses and wanted us to focus on listening to our bodies and our hunger cues to eat only when we were hungry.  However, I forgot to mention something equally important. If you are hungry then you need to eat. There is no way around this. If your body is telling you it needs food then listen to it. I know I struggled with this early on in WW because I would be hungry at the end of the day but not have any points left so I wouldn’t eat. That’s not good. Especially if you are exercising. Your body needs fuel. It needs to repair itself. Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. Seems pretty easy but it really isn’t.

Ok, so that’s about it for this week. Are you ready for the challenge? Are you ready to really push yourself this week? I hope so. I can’t wait to do some burpees tonight! Well, not really but damn if I’m not ready to challenge myself this month!

Good luck and thanks for reading!

 

April 1, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Monica's Birthday Challenge, Weight Loss. 1 comment.