Tag Archives: Food

Avoiding the “Freshman Fifteen”

Ok, I’m not actually a freshman, but last month I went back to school (Texas State) as a transfer student. Interestingly, it has actually allowed me MORE opportunity and motivation to work out. How is that possible, you ask?

First, I have a 1.3 mile walk from my parking lot of choice to my 1st class. I COULD use the shuttle service, but I’ve found it is faster to walk than wait for the shuttle. Oh, and it smells nicer, too. (All those bodies on one tiny shuttle: woah!) So, I choose walking. And it’s not a straight, even path either. There are LOTS of steps, both up and down, as the campus flows with the natural hill country landscape.
Second, I’m taking advantage of the fact that my tuition includes a membership to the campus rec center. It is amazing! There are plenty of cardio and weight machines, a nice free weight area, basketball courts, racquetball courts, even a couple foosball tables. They also offer group fitness classes like yoga, cycle fit, guts & glutes, TRX, 30/20/10, Zumba, bootcamp, etc. So far, my schedule has only allowed me to use the main gym area (free weights and cardio and weight machines) and to participate in the yoga classes, but I’m hoping I can get in the 30/20/10 class at least a couple times this semester. 30/20/10 consists of 30 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of strength, and 10 minutes of abs and stretching. My gym routine has been 3 days a week, 2 of which I am focusing on lower body with this 12 week program that I found on Pinterest. I like it because it combines heavy weight/low rep with light weight/high rep to get the best of both worlds. The middle day, I have been doing upper body weight training, but I have not yet found one “routine” that I like the best, so I’ve just been switching it up.

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Some of the exercises in my lower body program

The final thing I have been implementing is moderation in my eating. Sure, I occasionally get a Starbuck or add waffle fries to my Chic-fil-a Salad or Cool Wrap. But I don’t go crazy about it. My favorite breakfast lately has been a container of Noosa Yoghurt and 2 of Jamie Eason’s Carrot Cake Protein Bars. If you haven’t tried Noosa and you like yoghurt (or yogurt), I highly recommend it!

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That Strawberry Rhubarb! YUM!

So, 5 weeks in, how is this new schedule and routine working? I’d say quite well. The first week, I didn’t lose any weight, but for the next 3 weeks I consistently lost 0.4 pounds per week. I’m not necessarily looking to lose weight as much as I am looking to build more muscle and lose a little of the extra fat that I had gained from being more sedentary than I used to be. I’m not sure on any weight loss for this week as I don’t weigh myself every day. I won’t be upset if I didn’t loose anything as this week I have not made it into the gym or yoga due to studying for 4 tests (2 down, 2 to go). I have continued to eat in moderation, which has helped me avoid stress eating, which I can sometimes be prone to.

 

So, to sum it all up, here is my personal solution for avoiding what many experience as the “freshman 15.”

1. Walk or use steps when you have the option.

2. Exercise. It doesn’t matter if you can do a little or a lot, just use your body and you will get stronger.

3. Make healthy eating choices; eat in moderation. A treat here and there is not going to sabotage you. In fact, it may keep the binging tendencies at bay if you are prone to them.

 

Now I’m off to continue to study for the 2 tests I have next week. Wish me luck! 🙂


My Plan for Success: Meal Planning (Freezer to Slow Cooker Sites)

The day has arrived, the first day of school! This year, it isn’t just my kiddos going back to school; I am as well. As my 3 children excitedly prepare for new schools, new teachers, and new friends; I am doing the same thing. I have no idea how this day will go. Will I get lost? Will I make it from 1 building to the next in time? Will I be the oldest person in my class, including the professor? So many questions! But 1 question I don’t have to ask is: What will I feed my family? Because that question has already been taken care of.

Last week, I went through my freezer and wrote down what we already had. Then I scoured some blogs for recipes of Freezer to Slow Cooker meals so that on the nights when I will be getting home in time to eat dinner, it is already made. I used multiple sites because I wanted a variety of recipes and also, just 1 site would not have had enough recipes for my picky children (each picky in his/her own special way).

Today, as I step back into the college lifestyle, I’d like to share these sites that had some really helpful (and tasty looking) recipes that I will be using in the coming months and years. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Sidetracked Sarah –  54 Crockpot Freezer Meals – Recipes & Shopping List

 

Crock-Pot Ladies 10 Easy Crock-Pot Freezer Meals

 

Who Needs a Cape?7 Meals in 1 Hour Slow Cooker Crockpot Freezer Meals

 

Hip 2 SaveFive Slow Cooker Freezer Bag Meals (Make 5 Meals in Just One Hour)

 

Mommy’s Fabulous Finds – 10 Easy Crockpot Freezer Meal Recipes

 

I hope you find these links helpful. I know I sure did!

Enjoy! 🙂


My Big “Fat” Secret

I haven’t posted in a LONG time, I know! Life this summer has been super busy.

The kiddos have been randomly participating in the Super Smash Bros Brawl tournament that is put on each summer by the Austin Public Library. ‘A’ has made it 3 rounds in once and the other 2 have both lost in the first round each time so far. They are troupers though, and keep going back for more.

We are also planning a move in the next couple weeks. Currently, my husband is driving from Austin to San Antonio every day. Depending on how light or heavy traffic is he has anywhere from a 90 minute drive to a 3 hour drive, one way. That’s a LOT of driving. In the fall, I will be attending Texas State University to work on a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Development. So, we will be moving to a small town in between his workplace and my school. The house we have chosen is amazing! The details are still being worked out, so I will post more on that when it is a done deal.

Oh, and we just got back from vacation! We spent the first (and largest) part of in in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for my in-laws’ 35th Anniversary. (We also spent a day and a half in our beloved city, New Orleans.) It was the first time in 5 years that the whole family was able to get together. We had a blast! I’m pretty sure my favorite (and the scariest) part was crab hunting on the beach at night. So fun!

Photo Credit: Paula Payne at http://inpayne-paula.blogspot.com/

Photo Credit: Paula Payne at http://inpayne-paula.blogspot.com/

 

The pictures taken that day are part of my reason for posting this blog today. And I’m sorry to say, it’s not exactly a fun one. You see, another picture that was taken that day, and has recently been added to Facebook was one of my husband and I.

E&J 2014

Photo Credit: Paula Payne

I seriously wanted to cry when I saw this picture. At the time when I first looked at it, all I thought was “look at how FAT I have become!” Now, you may be saying “Are you crazy? You’re beautiful! You’re in a beautiful place with a man who loves you.” And you’d be right. Those things are true. But to me, in that moment, that wasn’t MY truth. My truth was that over the past couple years I have gained about 20 pounds and have “let myself go” so to speak.

The problem was, I did a mental flashback and compared this picture to one from 5 years ago. Then, I actually placed a real picture from 5 years ago next to this recent one. This was the result:

July 2009 vs July 2014

July 2009 vs July 2014

The thing is though, I had to remind myself that in that picture from 5 years ago, there is a LOT that is not seen. What you can’t see here is that I was silently suffering from an undiagnosed eating disorder, depression, and anxiety. I had starved and overworked my body to the point that I had to supplement my baby with formula because my body didn’t have enough fuel to make enough breastmilk to feed him. What you can’t see here is that in the picture on the left, I thought I was so FAT and GROSS when I looked at myself naked in front of the mirror before stepping into the shower. The woman on the right sees her image as curvy and feminine and beautiful. That girl on the left gave into those demons that whispered lies about her body and her worth. The woman on the right knows she is worth so much more; she believes that she is full of strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25) no matter what the camera might reflect.

A little over a year ago, I came across a blogger named Amber. She had posted a blog called Cellulite: It’s Time We All Just Get the Hell Over It. Everything she wrote really resonated with me. I read some more on her site, Go Kaleo (Kaleo being a joke about Kale and Paleo diets) and joined a Facebook group that she started called Eating The Food (ETF) that was kind of like a support group for people who were dealing with eating disorders and body image issues or were just trying to quit the diet-cycle and needed encouragement. I have learned so much over the last 16 months of trying, succeeding, failing, and trying again at ETF.

One big thing I learned was that I was not eating enough. I went here and calculated my BMR (basal metabolic rate) and my TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) based on my age, height, weight, and daily activities. BMR is basically the number of calories that your body would need daily if you were in a coma. TDEE takes into account all of the activities you do each day (exercise, housework, walking from place to place, etc.) and the amount of calories needed to fuel that amount of activity. My BMR is currently 1,367 calories. Honestly, 5 years ago my goal was to be UNDER 1,200 calories a day AND I was working out for at LEAST an hour each day, usually more like 2 hours. No wonder I was in such a mess psychologically!

I probably do a lot more that this daily, but this gives a pretty good idea.

I probably do a lot more that this daily, but this gives a pretty good idea.

Another thing I have gained from ETF is a heck of a lot of body positivity. That group is amazing! I don’t post a lot (cause I’ve got 3 kids who keep me super busy and away from Facebook), but when I do they are always so encouraging. For example, this morning I posted about my body-image dilemma about how my body has changed over the last 2 years, and especially compared with pictures from 5 years ago. Here’s some of what they wrote to me:

 

I’m going to be totally honest, you are smoking. Your figure is HOT. I know it’s hard for you to see, I’m the same way with my old pictures, but you look amazing now. You’ll get to that happy place, it just takes time.

 

Jen, I know I’m looking through different eyes, but you look great in that photo. You are also standing with a man that you love in a beautiful area. 

 

When I get into these moments, getting active somehow is the best way for me to break out of the negative ED headspace. Your body does amazing things! Taking a walk, doing a little yoga, etc., reminds me of that, somehow reconnects mind and body to work together 🙂

 

I don’t particularly like my picture taken, but something another member of this group said on someone else’s similar post has really stuck with me: when you try to take a picture of the moon with a camera, do you notice how different it looks than in real life with your own eyes? The moon never looks as beautiful in the digital representation so I’m taking the same view. I will never look as good in photos as I do in real life where my awesomeness aura can be measured on the Richter scale!

 

Try not to look at it as heavier = worse. Heavier can also be just a different version of yourself. Not better or worse, just different. You know how sometimes we enjoy changing up our hair color or playing with different styles? You are right now enjoying the experience of being this size instead of that size. You are still you underneath and are, as always, beautiful!

 

Jen, a lot of us have been through what you’re experiencing right now. 

What I like to tell people is to take more pictures!!!! For a while, I was taking pictures of myself daily. Then study the pictures – post them here if you want – study them and find all the POSITIVE things in the pictures. Soon, you’ll see pictures of yourself the way we see pictures of you. You’ll see the beauty and health and happiness first.

 

Both bodies are good bodies and I think you are already making progress in recognizing the state of mind you were in for the left photo. 

 

Seriously, how great are these people! They also have a TON of experience in all kinds of fitness from running to yoga to crossfit to you name it.

 

So there it is. I’m posting it out there for everyone on the internet to see. My big “fat” secret. I’m posting it because I don’t want to be ashamed of how I used to treat my body. And I don’t want to feel ashamed for my now healthier, properly fueled body. I’m also posting this as encouragement for anyone out there who is currently dealing with an eating disorder and/or body image issues. It does get better, if you let it. Yep, there are times when those urges attack at full force, but my hunger for life (and delicious food) gives me the strength to just say “no” to ED and say “yes” to ETF.

Today I have learned to look at this picture this way:

'Smiling on the Outside, Dying on the Inside' vs 'Smiling on the Outside, Joyful on the Inside'

‘Smiling on the Outside, Dying on the Inside’ vs ‘Smiling on the Outside, Joyful on the Inside’

The woman on the right looks different, not only on the outside, but also on the inside. And that change on the inside is the most important change of all.

 

Be blessed, my friends.


Mommy and Child classes and Eating Healthy on a Budget

Hello!

You may have noticed that I didn’t post a workout journal on Friday. I felt like those posts were a little dull, so I won’t be posting anything that is just workouts for a while. I will give you a little update on my progress though. I’ve been plugging along with my P90X schedule, but the running hasn’t happened since my asthma attack. I’m planning on getting out for a run tomorrow. I’m a bit nervous about it. My lungs are feeling back to normal, but I’m still dealing with Texas allergies. Yuck!

I’ve also been busy with a class that I’ve been taking through our school district with my preschooler. It is basically a parenting class that helps equip moms (and dads) to prepare their 3-5 year old children for success at school. We have weekly assignments that we do each class that are either done on our own for our children’s use or with our children. Most can be modified for older siblings as well. Tonight I will be making dream catchers with my older 2 children like the one my little guy and I made in our class together. Another assignment we had was to make a picture of something they like with their name in the upper portion of the picture. I really have very little artistic ability (even though I desperately would love some more), but here is what I came up with:

Nathaniel's Train

 

Yes, those are Texas wildflowers at the bottom. I am not sure how to rotate the picture using our new scanner (I guess my husband better help me with that next time), so I guess you just get a free neck stretch. Sorry!

 

As usual, we are saving money for something upcoming. This time, it is vacation.I’m guessing, like me, you don’t have one of these growing in your back yard:

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If you do happen to have one, might I inquire where to find another like it?

Ahem! Anyway, most of our expenses are not flexible, like rent, utilities, phone bill, etc. BUT, one area where I have some flexibility is our grocery budget.

The best way for us to save money on food is to eat at home as often as possible. For a while, on Wednesday nights, I would go to Whole Foods and make myself a delicious salad from their salad/hot bar and then go to church where the kids would get a Chic-fil-a meal. Just that one meal alone though was costing us almost $30. YIKES! So, much to my children’s displeasure, we are eating at home before church on Wednesday nights. The reward though is going to be great! The money we are saving just on Wednesday nights is going to be used to go play mini-golf in the Outer Banks one night while we are on vacation. When the kids get bummed about no chicken sandwiches, I remind them of the goal: MINI-GOLF! That usually perks them right up!

I also came up with this list of budget-friendly foods that fit nicely into a healthy lifestyle. Please feel free to add your ideas to my list in the comments section.

 

Protein

Beans

Chicken

Tuna

Nuts

Nut Butters

Canned Salmon

Greek Yogurt (the fat-free has more protein and makes a great substitute for sour cream)

Sardines

Eggs

Chicken Broth (free if you make it yourself)

 

Healthy Fat

Avocados

Coconut Oil

Olive Oil

Nuts

Nut Butters

Sardines

 

Carbs

Beans

Rice

Potatoes

Oats

Apples

Bananas

Tortillas

Popcorn

Pumpkin (canned or make your own)

 

Veggies

Carrots

Celery

Frozen Veggies

Broccoli

Beets

Spinach

Cabbage

Cucumbers

Radishes

Green Beans

Eggplant

Asparagus

Salad Greens (Spinach, Kale, Romaine, etc.)

 

I hope you find this list helpful when planning your meals. Again, please feel free to add to this list and let me know your addition in the comments.

 

 

[Linking up with Women Helping Women via Teaching What is Good.]


Cilantro Thai Chicken

Often when my husband is working late and won’t be joining us for dinner, I make dishes that I know he would have zero interest in eating. He isn’t a huge fan of chicken (unless it’s my amazing slow cooker chicken), he isn’t really into Asian cuisine unless its Crab Rangoon or sushi rolls, and he has a genetic defect that makes cilantro taste like soap to him. SO, one night a couple weeks ago, I attempted Cilantro Thai Chicken. I loved it! The kids loved it! It was a success!
Now, I will share the recipe with you in hopes that it is a success for your family as well.

Cilantro Thai Chicken
•2 TBSP Soy Sauce (can use tamari ro make it gluten free)
•2 TBSP Fish Sauce (or replace with more soy sauce/tamari if desired)
•2 TBSP Sesame Oil
2 tsp Dried Cilantro
1 tsp Garlic Powder
•Your choice of chicken pieces

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients except the chicken into a shallow baking dish or gallon bag.
2. Add chicken and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
4. Arrange marinated chicken onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
5. Bake until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (times will vary depending on size and thickness of chicken pieces).
6. Serve amd enjoy!

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Cilantro Thai Chicken Leg Quarters


I’m Back: A Whole New Look for A Whole New Me

 Welcome to my new blog!

 

It has been way too long since I have blogged, I know. So much has happened in the past 10 months. I’ll try to sum it up as briefly as possible, and then I will get into why I have started a new blog with a new name.

 

Last I blogged, I had just moved to Austin from New Orleans. It was a stressful move and my husband’s new job was not exactly as wonderful as his employers had made it seem in the interview process. We had been told that Austin was very similar to New Orleans. Not quite. Sure there’s good food, but it’s BBQ, Tex-Mex, and Breakfast Tacos rather than Po-Boys, Seafood, and Beignets. Austin is the self-proclaimed Live Music Capital of the World (or something like that), but New Orleans has way more (and better) live music. I had thought New Orleans drivers were bad, but Austinites are just ridiculous! Austin’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” (I have no idea if that is official or not). I came to the conclusion one night while out on a date with my husband that Austin is kind of like New Orleans’ nerdy little sister: it’s often just trying way too hard to be cool and it is very obvious.

But Austin is growing on me and there are some very good benefits to living here and there are a lot of things that I do like about living here. For one thing, I LOVE that our neighborhood is very multi-cultural. New Orleans is still very culturally segregated, and that really makes me so very sad. Austin also has a LOT of hills, which have been very beneficial to my running routine. I already mentioned the BBQ, Tex-Mex, and Breakfast Tacos. We have found an amazing church where my husband is now on staff as the Technical Director. It was a huge blessing for him to be able to take the job there. We have started making some amazing friends. The kids have awesome teachers at their new school and even have a few classmates/friends in the neighborhood that they play with on the weekends. And most importantly, this is where God has told us we are to be. Oh, and the Texas sky is just gorgeous at almost any point in time.

See what I mean?! Gorgeous!

See what I mean?! Gorgeous!

 

When we first moved here, I had just started on a low-dose birth control pill that the doctor had insisted was the only thing that would help my would help the hormonal problems I had been having. Against my better judgment, I started taking them because I let her degree cause me to second guess myself. It was a disaster! It fixed a couple of the physical problems (by masking them) but caused even more emotional problems. It kicked me into a major depression and I gained almost 20 pounds. I ended up quitting the BC and reading The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried. It took a while to get myself straightened out after the BC, and I’m still tweaking things a bit, but I have begun to lose some of the weight I put on as well as add back some of the muscle I lost while depressed and not working out. I have completed a Couch to 5K running plan and now I am onto a plan that will (hopefully) have me running  a 10K in under 60 minutes. I am well on my way there as I ran 4.06 (that 0.06 is important, yo!)  miles this morning with a pace of 9:48 minutes/mile. Most importantly, my emotional state is so much better! It is more steady and not so up and down like it was while on the BC and just after quitting.

 

Ok, so now onto WHY I have changed my blog name and focus:

 

Honestly, the reason I changed blogs is because God told me to. My old blog was mine, and only mine. This blog belongs to Him. You see, when I started up my old blog, I was focused primarily on the external aesthetics (mainly mine). But God wants my focus on the internal, because that’s where His focus is. He cares more about my spiritual state than my physical state. He cares more about my attitude than my performance.

This new blog is going to focus on all the areas in our lives that we need to nourish and work out. Yep, keeping our physical bodies healthy is important, but it is not more important than being spiritually healthy or having healthy relationships or being emotionally healthy or having a healthy control of our finances or… well, you get the idea. Food and fitness are just one part of a very big picture. They are just one part of my very full life, a life I would like to share with you.

My goal is to post at least twice a week. Some will be short while others will be more in-depth. I will still mainly be posting about my fitness routine and foods, but I have some other areas I’d like to blog about as well. My old blog felt very restrictive. I made it into a place where I didn’t feel I had the freedom to branch out into other areas. I’d pigeonholed myself.  Now, I will be blogging about faith, family, friends, fitness, food, and fun!