Pushing Past the Wins

The hardest part about making huge life changes is taking the first step; in other words, starting to make a big change in your life is being dissatisfied enough with one aspect to be willing to change it up and get uncomfortable. I am less than five (5!!!!) pounds away from reaching my initial healthy weight goal (I have a few vanity pounds on top of that, but the healthy weight is the important part) right now, and let me tell you, the hardest part is continuing to be diligent enough with tracking what I eat in my food diary. Laziness is part of it, I admit; I have been so happy with the progress I have made so far, that it is easy to get complacent and just be satisfied with my initial accomplishments.

To make matters worse, I am just now back on my running program after my half marathon recovery and respiratory crud. It feels great to hit the pavement again; I did a pretty fast (for me) 2-miler yesterday morning. The hubs and I have decided to run a 15K in January. Partly, it's to keep me on track through the holiday insanity that is going to ensue, and partly it's for the swag. Seriously, check this out:

2013 HC this is your goodie bag_WITH sizing chart

Plus you get hot chocolate and chocolate fondue at the end. If you are in Atlanta in January and want to check it out : http://www.hotchocolate15k.com/atlanta/.

I guess the best way to keep on track is to constantly add new goals and allow yourself to completely celebrate the wins. By the way, to embrace a win, here is an image of me and the hubs showing off our completion medals from the Silver Comet Half last month:

Menu Planning: Great for Everyone

Hey Everyone!
I'm continuing on with posts about my lifestyle changes with an approach to menu planning. One of the big contributors to my success so far has been cooking the majority of  meals at home.Whether you are trying to stick to a budget or are trying to change your eating habits; planning out your meals and cooking them at home is a great way of finding success with your goals. 

The process usually starts with sitting down once every two weeks and planning out meals. I usually repeat the first weeks' meals the second week to cut down on groceries, expenses and some work. There are some meals that are repeats every week, while others are rotated in and out depending on what is seasonal. One hint though, if you are repeating one week's recipes and there is an untried recipe, make sure you plan for a back up. Otherwise, you will end up with extra ingredients for a recipe you don't like.

Also, make sure you sketch out your meals with regard to how accomplished you are cooking (ie, if you can barely toast bread you might be better off learning how to cook, say a warm grain salad, as opposed to an elaborate 12 page dish from a new cookbook). Keep it simple and delicious and you will set yourself up for success, not failure.

To help you out with all this cooking, you might want to enlist the help of a spouse, roommate, partner, or another family member to help you out with the cooking a few days a week. It helps a ton, trust me!

Anyway, without further ado, here is an example of a week's worth of menu planning ( keep in mind I am a vegetarian)...

Vegetarian Chili Night

Stirfry ( Spelt Udon Noodles, Tempeh, Frozen Stir Fry Veggies)

Tempeh and Poblano Tacos with
Sprouted Grain Tortilla

New Recipe Night!
Panang Curry with

Spiced Eggplant and Peppers with

Homemade Pizza

Roasted Carrot Soup
Grilled cheese Sandwich

Fruit & 100 calories of Nuts (Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios)
Hard Boiled Egg & Snackable Veggies (Celery/Carrot sticks, Cherry Tomatoes, etc)
1/8 c dried Fruit & 100 Calories of Nuts ( My usual Pre Workout)

Lowfat/Fat free Cottage Cheese
Coffee with Almond Milk
Cooked Grains with cinnamon, honey, almond milk
Coffee with Almond Milk
Scrambled Eggs with Veggies
Coffee with Almond Milk

With an apple and an orange
Cheese sandwich
With an apple and an orange
Baked potato with cheese and frozen veggies
With an apple and an orange

I then base my grocery list off my menu plan and go from there. I usually, however, also grab a few quick and easy substitutions that don't require much cooking in case a day is super crazy.

Oh, and just in case you were interested...the obligatory before and now shot (I know, I know)....
Photo: A cute couple at GCSS' "A Night To Remember."  How do we look?

Designer Shout Out: Stephanie Gentry

Hey everyone!
This past Friday I got a chance to check out a trunk show at Moxy Boutique (@MoxyAtlanta) featuring a collection of a dear friend of mine, Stephanie Gentry. This current season's collection is completely in silk and microsuede, featuring incredible structural details. I totally want one of her trenches (So soft!)!

You may think me a little biased, but she was one of the emerging designers featured at the most recent Phoenix Fashion Week.
Definitely check out Stephanie's clothing (follow her @SGentryDesigner) and if you are in the Atlanta area, make sure you take a moment to look through the goods at Moxy as well.

My Plan of Attack!

As Promised...My Plan of Attack!

This is just a general overview of what my plan for success was; I promise I'll go into detail more in future entries.

The Food End

I started out tracking what I ate. I went through a series of food diary trackers that had different advantages and disadvantages until I found one that worked best for me. (Teaser: future installment!) I did restrict my calories, but at a reasonable level (between 1300 -1500, starting out at 1500, but eventually going down to between 1300 - 1350) where I wouldn't want to eat everything in sight. I had a looong way to go, no need to go into crash diet mode.

Eric (the husband) and I started planning out our meals and snacks in advance and shopping our menus.

A big part of the changes we decided to make (for both health and financial reasons) was to cut out the processed stuff/eating out and shop at the discount farmer's market. This meant a lot more work in the kitchen, but he was willing to do half the prep and cooking (we are a partnership after all...). To circumvent my desire to binge, I planned to follow an 80/20 rule: 80% of calories of the day were to be lean protein, low fat dairy, whole grains and lots and lots of fruits and veggies, while 20% of my daily calories were whatever I wanted ( delicious bite of a yummy dessert, chocolate bar, whatever!). The biggest thing: no “diet” foods! I'll post a few of the menus and recipes at a later date.

The Fitness End

I was planning on running the Peachtree Road Race again in July and I really wanted a time that I was not ashamed to announce. That required a training program, and that required me to stick with it. If it also helped me make my health goal, that was kind of an extra bonus. On my Runkeeper app there was a free training plan to run a 10k in under 60 minutes. It was quite the ambitious goal (considering my last 10k time was 30minutes longer than that!), but it would allow me to really challenge myself and it provided needed structure to train with. I wasn't able to make most of the training pace times, but it allowed me to really key in and listen to my bodies' cues. I also included stretching and strength training to prevent injuries.

The Mental End/ Motivation

The most difficult end of making any significant life change is the will to change. How do you keep motivated to completely change your lifestyle? You have to have a great support system. You have to have a concrete goal and a strong visceral connection to your why. Finally, you have to constantly surround yourself by things that motivate you to stick with it.
I also decided to journal the struggles (emotional and mental) I was working through.
I'll do a few more posts in the future going into greater detail and try to go back and link to them here. 

My Journey Began...

My process really started back in December of last year. I went to a dress shop to try on bridesmaid dresses for my sister's wedding. I had a realization of how large I had gotten when almost all of the sample sizes were too small and I had to get clipped in with scrap fabric. It felt a little humiliating and made me extremely self conscious. Then, I actually weighed myself again to see where I was, it was like a switch clicked in my brain and I decided to take my health back, to become the athlete I had once been and wanted to be again.

First of all, to be honest, I want to say, I'm a girl who doesn't do diets. I love food, good food. I love to cook good food, eat good food, and savor good food. You tell me I can't have carbs, sweets, fat, whatever...that's exactly what I am going to turn around and sneak and binge on and want to eat all the time. I had to figure out how to circumvent myself. I decided to do everything common sense and simply. All my food had to be delicious. No complicated diet plans, no "diet" food, no weird restrictions, just permanent lifestyle changes that I could live with on a day to day basis. Forever kind of changes, not a “diet”. Clean eating, lots of movement, and trying to figure out how and why I let myself get to that point in the first place. It was going to be hard, it was going to be painful, and I was going to change my life.

Next Installment: My Plan of Attack!

I'm Back...And I've Been Changing My Life!

Hey everyone!

I've been on hiatus for a while, mostly to focus on getting myself back on a healthy track. I've posted in the past about training for a 10k. Well, several months ago I decided to take back my health and fitness in full force. I still have a ways to go, but now that I've managed to make it three fourths of the way I thought I'd share what I've learned so far and blog about the process as I go forward. I'll post about what worked for me, but keep in mind, everyone is different and what worked for me may not necessarily work for you.

They say the two hardest parts are starting and finishing any project. I'm getting to the finish pretty soon and I have a feeling that the last bit of getting there may be the hardest part.

So stick around for the next installments and maybe (just maybe!) I just may post a cheesy picture with my old pants.

The Lost Art of Real Cooking and Musings

Even as a child, I had a fascination of bygone eras. I would read old novels and old fashioned books, savoring the words. I would relish a simple snack, taken in the afternoon, of cheese, my mom's homemade bread, butter, a cup of hot tea, and an apple. I would get excited because it was a snack that the characters in my books would have eaten!

This thrill of a bygone era has translated itself into my adulthood with a much less romanticized, some would almost say cynical, view of the past. I have discovered a love of some things that some would call 'old fashioned'. Knitting is recent discovery, sewing has been a love of mine for ages, cooking is both necessary and wonderful, and baking a lovely, if not always successful endeavor.
Recently, I picked up a copy of "The Lost Art of Real Cooking: Rediscovering the Pleasures of Traditional Food One Recipe at a Time " by Ken Albala and Rosana Natziger. There are recipes ranging from baked goods to beer, curing your own olives to making your own miso. It's pretty fascinating and reads just like an ancient cookery tome. (yes, I have read old cookery books, I promise you!)

This past week, I have been cultivating a wild yeast sourdough starter utilizing the instructions found in the book. It's fairly easy: a cup of flour and a cup of water mixed together and left on the counter for a good day. It also suggested you could leave it outside, but that made me a bit squeamish. You then cover it with a towel and give it a cup of flour, a cup of water and a stir each day. You build it up for a week and its ready for small breads! ( It's supposed to be at full strength in two, which means big ole loaves of fantasticalness )

Today, I made my first loaf. My bread usually looks pretty sad and tastes worse. Not this time... It's BEAUTIFUL!!! And, by the way, the recipe for the bread itself? Easy peasy, one cup of the starter, one cup of water, a pinch of salt, and enough bread flour until it's a dough. Knead ten minutes, rise two hours, shape loaf, let rise three, and bake in your oven at about 500 degrees F for 20 - 25 minutes. Use a baking stone and put some ice cubes into the floor of the oven so it gets steamy. I've simplified it here, but the full instructions aren't much more involved.