I Suck at Eating Healthy

Once again, I have taken two steps backward. Lost 5 pounds in two weeks, gained 5 pounds in the next two. I can work out all I want, but my problem: FOOD.

I am a foodie, but in the gourmet comfort food way. I like family-owned donut shop donuts, and bacon, and sweet tea, and fried chicken, and…and…JUNK. Ugh, and don’t get me started on baked goods. Mug brownies are my current weakness. It is so stinking hard to eat healthy when I love food that much. And honestly, I love a six-pack and smaller jeans more. But my will power blows. Like when my husband bakes me a heart-shaped cake, I eat it. When my aunt mentions Bo Berry Biscuits from Bo Jangles this evening, I will crave them until I eat them tomorrow for breakfast. Whhyyy?!?IMG_2112-0.JPG

I just want to proclaim that my will power sucks when it comes to comfort food. And I know it is the one and only reason I don’t make progress.

Do they have AA for comfort food lovers? Please sign me up.

 

My (Southern) Health Cheats

**DISCLAIMER: The truth is, there aren’t really health and fitness cheats. When you cut corners, you have to expect lesser results, even if just by a tad.**Below are some of my “health cheats” for things I’ve had a hard time giving up.

Sicky-Sweet Sweet Tea = Mio Sweet Tea

By far one of the hardest things for me to give up has been sweet tea. Soda was cake. Sweet tea, I’ve gone down kicking and screaming. I tried green tea with stevia. Not bad, but not even close. You won’t believe my cheat. You read Mio and though “Sweet tea in a little squirt bottle? Ain’t no way.” However, it is the best tasting and most realisticly sweet tea-ish water enhancer I’ve had. It tastes better than instant tea (like the Lipton fountain machine stuff), but of course still lacks the herbal taste that comes with real brewed tea. I’ve considered making green tea and putting some of this in it.

Mayo or Sour Cream = Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Okay, this one doesn’t taste the same, but for the calorie and fat savings, it’s darn close enough! Potato salad, chicken, tacos, creamed spinach, and much more. I replace it all with plain Greek yogurt. If you just can’t do that, try doing 3/4 greek yogurt and 1/4 mayo or sour cream. Any bit counts!

Sugar = Stevia

Stevia is by far the best non-sugar sweetener, at least that’s user-friendly. I even found it in a squeezy bottle (a la Mio) that I take on the go!

Potato Chips and Fries = Sweet Potato Chips and Fries

Even better if you make them yourself. Now don’t get too excited. Sweet potatoes are still starchy veggies loaded with carbs. And anything fried is still a cheat. However, when you look at sweet potatoes and white potatoes side by side, the difference is clear. This awesome infographic from Cleveland Clinic shows you what makes this swap worth it:

Health Hub Knockout White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes final

Spaghetti = Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is obviously nothing like spaghetti noodles. It won’t taste the same, nor does it have the same texture. However, if you really want to avoid starchy, non-nutritional noodles, try spaghetti squash. This blog article explains how to bake it and extract the “noodles”. You can make it like regular spaghetti with sauce, or you can try other variations, like this garlic and butter version.

Butter = Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

I’ll admit. I rarely replace a recipe that calls for butter fully with EVOO or coconut oil. However, I usually mix the two to cut back on calories. For example, if I saute zucchini, I use olive oil and about a tablespoon of Country Crock Light. Olive oil has a more “buttery” taste that is great with veggies or savory dishes. Coconut oil is good for sweeter veggies or meat preparations. For example, I love to cook Jamaican Jerk chicken or pork chops in coconut oil. Some people claim that you can’t taste the coconut, but I can, so that’s why I only use it for certain recipes with which it meshes well. I get my oils from Trader Joe’s. Best bang for your buck!

Ground Beef = Ground Turkey

These taste similar–not the same. I’ve found that I like to use ground turkey with ground beef recipes that require lots of flavoring. I most frequently use it for tacos and spaghetti. The tons of sauces and seasonings mask the fact that it’s turkey and not beef. Turkey burgers on the other hand, while possibly tasty, just don’t do it for me. Turkey meatballs–not bad. Play around with it and see what you like and don’t like! The other plus: ground turkey is cheaper! Here’s an article by Livestrong that compares the two.

Store-bought = Homemade

I’ve found that one of the best ways to save money and calories is to make things you would usually buy. Many of these recipes still require some buttah and sugah, but what they don’t require are chemicals, additives, or preservatives! Below, click each item to find an easy recipe on how to home-make it!

Ranch Dressing/Dip (Not an exact copy cat, but does the job)

Gummy Snacks (This site has different flavor combos!)

Pop-Tarts

Sloppy Joe (Note: Ground turkey is not meant for this stuff! It’s pretty awful. I tried)

Strawberry Jam in Crockpot (Wonder if purple grapes would work…)

Apple Butter in Crockpot

No Bake Granola Bars

Peanut Butter

 

My (Affordable) Healthy-Eating Fridge

With clean eating being all the rage these days (which is awesome considering it is beginning to replace fad diets), more and more people are jumping on the…fitwagon…and giving it a go. As a working mom and nightshift cop’s wife, I had to find a way to jump on but still keep my grocery budget in check, as well as my time management. Anyone who has done 100% clean eating knows that (a) it’s expensive, and (b) it takes more time in the kitchen. People have asked if I clean eat, and the answer is no. What I do is healthy eating. Clean eating involves fruits, veggies, proteins, and naturally-found carbs like brown rice, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. And natural oils and spices only. As lovely and skinny-tastic as that sounds, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” So, today’s grocery trip led me to posting about how to HEALTHY EAT (clean eating plus a little more salt, butter, dairy, and bread) while maintaining your budget and time (a.k.a sanity). Below is my menu for healthy eating. Click on items for exact brands/flavors I use. (I buy store brand for a lot of it.)

Breakfast
Whole wheat English muffin/toast + natural fruit jam
Fried or hard-boiled egg (or egg white)
Plain oats + toppings of choice (maple syrup, brown sugar, fruit, peanut butter, etc.)
Fresh Fruit: berries, kiwi, peaches, melon, oranges, occasional bananas, pineapple, apples, green grapes
Nutri-grain Cereal Bars (80-100 cal.)
Yoplait Nonfat Greek Yogurt (love the Key Lime!)
Occasional bran cereal or cinnamon Puffins
Recipe: A whole grain or protein (egg/yogurt) + A whole piece of any fruit

Lunch
My usual sandwich: Whole wheat bagel thin or whole wheat tortilla + 2 slices of roasted chicken lunch meat + slice of provolone + romaine lettuce + spinach + BBQ sauce
Another sandwich: Bagel thin + reduced fat peanut butter + banana slices
Dinner leftovers = my fave
A big salad
Hard-boiled eggs
Recipe: I usually eat one of the above with a piece of fruit or raw veggie

Snacks
Raw fruit (see breakfast for what kinds)
Carrots with Greek Yogurt ranch dip
Cucumbers in apple cider vinegar with chili powder
100 cal. Granola Bar/Cereal Bar
Hard-boiled egg
Sweet potato chip w/ light sea salt
Yoplait Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Dinner
Basic Dinner Recipe: A protein + a frozen or fresh green/leafy veggie + a natural carb
*Click each item for one of my favorite tried-and-true recipes. I often replace calls for mayo or sour cream with plain nonfat Greek yogurt!*
(I do a husband-pleasing dinner involving less healthy foods once or twice a week…like baked spaghetti and garlic bread)
Protein
Grilled/baked chicken
Grilled tilapia (salmon is a rare treat!)
Grilled shrimp
Grilled pork chops
Ground turkey
Green Veggie
Asparagus (fresh)
Zucchini (fresh)
Spinach (fresh)
Broccoli (frozen)
Blue Lake Green Beans (frozen)
Natural Carb
Sweet potato
Red potato
Brown rice
Carrots

(There a thousand ways to prepare the greens and carbs, but when I don’t feel like doing anything fancy, I just steam or roast them with about 1/2 tbsp light butter and sea salt and black pepper.)

Drinks
Water
Green tea with stevia
Almond milk for cereal/oatmeal
(And that’s IT.)

I just spent $146 on a re-stock grocery trip to give you an idea. That includes a value size chicken breasts, pork chops, bacon, frozen shrimp, breakfast sausage patties, about 8 bags of frozen veggies, and 3-4 fresh pieces of all fruits I listed above except pinapple. That’s for two adults and a toddler. Enough food to last 2 weeks or so (at least meats and produce). And that includes my husband’s Oreos and such that I don’t eat. And thrown in lots of randoms like vitamins, sour cream, butter, milk, etc. It is possible to spend LESS money eating HEALTHY food (in comparison to frozen dinners and eating out).

My grocery budget is $300 per 30 days. My family eats out for dinner for around $35. Multiply that times 30 and you’re spending over $1,000 a month on JUST dinner. It’s a no brainer, people!

Hope you enjoy clicking through the links and finding yummy recipes that strike the perfect balance between health with cost! Comment below with questions or other ideas!

20140630-193126-70286481.jpg

Fitness Journey #5,298

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to lose weight and get fit. At least 6 or 7 just since my son was born 15 months ago. I usually last all of 3 days…literally, THREE DAYS. What usually does me in is one bad meal that makes me feel like a failure, even though I know deep down that one bad meal does not ruin all of the progress made. Prior to getting pregnant, I was fit at 123lb. After I had my son and began nursing, it took me TWO DAYS to reach my pre-pregnancy weight. Then I stopped nursing. I gained ten pounds overnight. Ten ugly loose-skin flabby pounds.

Well, this time, I’m on DAY 5 (DAY 4 with exercise), and I haven’t given up yet! In fact, I’m feeling very motivated to keep going. All it took was for me to get past those first few days. On day three, I lost a pound. On day four, I lose another. This morning, Day Five, I’m down one more. I just had to get past day three and see results to realize that it was working. Here is exactly what works for me.

Using the app MyFitnessPal.

This app can be used on an iPhone, Android phone, tablet, or computer. It’s a calorie tracker. However, due to the large audience this app has, I find that it has far more foods and workouts in its database. Just about every restaurant (with the exception of small town family-owned ones) is in the database. It includes workout classes like Les Mills classes in its exercise database. You upload your weight and it charts that progress. It keeps track of water intake. You start off by entering in your current weight, goal weight, amount of daily activity, and how many pounds you want to lose a week (between 0 and 2). My starting weight was 133 and my goal weight is 115. I want to lose 2lb a week and am “lightly active”. Based on all of that information, it gives you a daily calorie goal (mine is 1,200). When you exercise, it adds to that. I burn an average of 300 calories a day, so I usually can eat closer to 1,500 calories a day. The app will also send reminders at meal times so you don’t forget to log. Every time I have used this app, and actually used it, it has never failed me in weight loss!

Exercise Classes

My past few attempts at becoming fit have involved me going to the gym and just doing my own thing. Treadmill, elliptical, stairclimber, ab machines, etc. etc. etc. My problem is that I get bored. Ten minutes on one of those machines and I’m tired of going nowhere and staring at the television. Growing up, I was always an athlete, so staying fit for me meant getting down and dirty at practice and running trails until I was drenched in sweat. Naturally, the treadmill just doesn’t cut it for me. As of a few days ago, I made better use of my American Family Fitness gym membership by attending a class for the first time (they are included in the membership). I started with Zumba, which was the most ridiculous thing ever, at least for me, considering I can only dance when I’ve had about five margaritas. This morning, I did Les Mills CXWorx, and that was more my thing. Calisthenics with resistance bands and weight disks. Classes that have varying moves and routines are just what I needed to make the most of my gym time. I used to leave the gym after 30 minutes from boredom. Now, I’ll do the one-hour class and want to go hit the cardio section! If you have a friend to join you and motivate you, it’s even better!

Cutting the Junk

Seriously, STOP EATING JUNK. And drinking. I literally only drink water or tea now, and I use Mio to flavor the water if I become bored of that. And when I say tea, I mean herbal tea–not McDonald’s sweet tea (my former addiction that I’m still battling). Sometimes I sweeten the tea with Stevia, an all-natural sweetener. I use the liquid squeezy kind (that looks like a Mio bottle). My husband isn’t quite as enthusiastic about the healthy eating (probably due to the fact that he can eat whatever and still have abs), so I often make a meat to share and my own side dishes. For example, he wanted homemade wings last night, so I made those and only ate 4 compared to his 10…12? Then, they had fries and watermelon. I made seasoned roasted carrots for myself, along with the watermelon. His 600+ calorie meal was only 300-400 calories for me. I usually eat a breakfast around 200 calories, lunch around 300, two snacks of 100-200, and dinner around 500-600. And as long as you drink water/tea, drinks are ZERO 🙂 It’s hard to resist at first, and on days 1 and 2 I felt like I was starving, but by the end of day 3, my stomach was starting to shrink back to a normal size and was satisfied with 1300-1500 calories. Sometimes I get sweet tooth cravings, so I make my snack a 100-calorie chocolate granola bar or something.

Portion Control

One of the biggest things that goes hand in hand with calorie control is portion control. I am a meat and potatoes girl, so this is hard for me! For breakfast, I’ll eat some sort of whole grain for energy and a fruit. Lunch, I’ll eat protein, veggie, and a fruit. And then for dinner, I try to keep my meat portions around 3-4 oz., my grains 3-4 oz., and then double up on veggies, which are typically very low in calories. When we go out to eat, I order both sides as veggies and then I share with my son. When he eats his little one-year-old portion, it usually leaves me with the perfect portion sizes! (And then he eats “free”, which is the best part).

Drinking Fluids

The best tip for how much water to drink is .5 oz for every pound you weight. So, if I way 130, I should drink 65 oz. of water today (approximately 8 8-oz. glasses a day…or 4 water bottles a day). I often drink that much, and a little more.

A Support System

Like I mentioned, my husband couldn’t care less about whole grain pasta and scarfing down veggies. Although I don’t hold it against him (it’s ultimately his body), it really makes it harder if the people in your house aren’t on board. Thankfully, my little one prefers raw veggies over mac-n-cheese any day! I’ve found that a virtual support system via social networking works just as well as a real one! Post your workout or meal pictures on Instagram with hashtags about fitness, eating clean, and weight loss, and you’ll get lots of support. As desperate as it sounds, with each like and each “Way to go!” comment, you’ll feel more and more motivation.

 

Most importantly, just do what works for you! Everyone’s body runs differently, so naturally, everyone’s “get fit routine” will differ. Experiment with different healthy diets and exercise routines and find which ones give you the best results!