Fell off the wagon

Ok, ok. I broke my promise. My accountability person was very confused Monday when I hadn’t blogged since Thursday. And here is Thursday again.

The reason was because I had disappointed myself. And my imaginary audience of this blog.

I had the doughnut at the business dinner. I also do not regret it because unlike most overhyped things it was AMAZING AND DELICIOUS and if you live in Charlotte, get a group of 10 people (because it will legit feed that many people) and order it. Worth. It. (Stoke at the Marriott)

But then we had visitors come in. And it became just a 2.5 day eating & drinking binge.

  • Dinner at Haberdish Friday night, where we shared a pimento cheese ball (amazing), biscuits & bacon jam (delicious), a whole fried chicken (the best), sweet potato dumplings (excellent- highly recommend), charred okra, pickled coleslaw, and maybe a kale salad?
  • Afterwards, we went to Salud where I had a CAN of wine. That’s a thing now.
  • Brunch at Cafe Monte Saturday, where we shared five hot beignets and I got a Croque Madame.
  • Sandwich at Earl’s Grocery after the hike
  • Dinner at Soul Gastrolounge Saturday night- you will all die when I list all the food we ordered (and ate). Asian glazed pork belly tacos (these are a must if you come here, they’re probably the best thing on the menu), the “dirty south nachos” which are fried chicken skin chips with a pimento cheese fondue and jalepeno pickled okra (this is probably the 2nd most fantastic dish), sashimi tuna tacos (everyone else died over these, I did think they were pretty good), BBQ glazed pork belly stuffed shells & cheese (disappointing), a “Red Dragon Roll” (yes, they have sushi here), lemon chicken skewers (one of our party doesn’t eat pork or shellfish so was excluded from many of the options), grilled Caesar, grilled cheese (pretty incredible I thought), a duck banh fit (3 kinds of duck, including foie gras pate & duck confit on a banh mi style sandwich) and french fries with garlic-herb salt, pecorino and truffle oil (great and surprisingly large portion for the price). So don’t hate me but DO get to Soul ASAP. It’s arguably the best restaurant in Charlotte.
  • Had drinks at The Hop Shop and City Lights
  • Breakfast a Common Market Sunday morning. I got some kind of wrap with eggs, chorizo, pepperjack, black beans and corn.
  • Build You Own Bloody Mary bar at Ink & Ivy
  • After our guests left, the BF and I had a late lunch/early dinner at Diamond Restaurant where I got a “Po’Greek Boy” which wasn’t what I expected- basically a feta stuffed lamb burger. It was pretty good.

We did hike one day to the top of Crowder’s Mountain which was pretty challenging and strenuous. And we did a lot of walking both days (over 12,000 steps!) but I still felt gross by Sunday night (obviously- re-read above. Or, on second though, please don’t). Surprisingly, besides the doughnut, I didn’t really have any “junk food” (because we were too stuffed by the dessert course to have any) but I am resetting the Junk Food Challenge back to Monday anyways. So April 23 will be the last day (which will be tough- I’m home that weekend and have a bridal shower!)

After the weekend, I stocked up on healthy food (definitely one of those whoops moments in the grocery line when I saw the receipt) and prepped salads, snacks and sandwiches for my night classes. And I have gotten back on track- no drinking since Sunday, and all healthy meals and snacks. Since the class gets out so late (normally when I’m turning out the lights) and it’s 25 minutes away, I have not gotten into the gym. But my goal is to get in Friday-Monday the weeks I am taking this class. Minimum 25 minutes of cardio each day plus weight training.

I’m trying to get back into my tips and tricks. I know  I don’t really need to lose weight- but  I do want to gain muscle tone and lose some fat around my middle. I’m trying to ignore the scale as it’s not what I’m after- and I’m also trying not to be complacent just because I like my weight where it is (kind of). It isn’t the end-all, be-all measurement. I’m recommitting to carrying water everywhere, knowing my portions, and trying to ignore the voice in my head that says “Just order the pills in the back of the magazine!” (That is partially a joke- mostly because that voice was quieted in college when I actually did use diet pills for a year. They are not worth it- not only will you gain the weight back, they will screw with your metabolism and you will be up all hours of the night. Helpful for a college senior- not for an adult who knows better.)

It starts with one step. Like cutting out soda. But don’t deprive yourself.

What is my one thing I’m going to start working on today? Bettering my posture. I used to be a dancer and school teachers would always comment on how good my posture was in class. But now I’m just like the rest of the slumped over herd. Since I am sitting all day (at work and now also at class), good posture is better for a number of reasons. It helps with digestion by smoothing out the flow of your organs, it helps with back and shoulder pain and it also makes you look thinner instantly! Plus it helps develop core muscles, which is necessary for a lean look. There are all kinds of gizmos and gadgets that will remind you if you’ve slumped over or curved your shoulders too far. Sometimes just a reminder on your phone will do. Check in with yourself throughout the day and see if it’s something you can better!

Monday’s Food Journal

Breakfast- 3 egg omelette with shredded low fat cheddar cheese

Coffee

Snack- strawberries with flax and low fat plain Greek yogurt

Lunch- Salad

Snack- Apple with peanut butter

Dinner- Sandwich on sprouted bread, natural sliced turkey, Havarti cheese, sprouts and mustard

Tuesday’s Food Journal

Breakfast- Banana almond smoothie

Coffee

Snack- strawberries with flax and low fat plain Greek yogurt

Green tea

Lunch- salad

Snack- cucumber slices and baby carrots with sun dried tomato hummus

Dinner- Same sandwich above

Wednesday’s Food Journal

Breakfast- 2 eggs scrambled with low fat cottage cheese (if you haven’t tried this before, give it a shot, it’s pretty cool) and a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter

Lunch- salad

Snack- Popcorn

Snack- Pistachios

Dinner- Sandwich above

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Recommitting to losing stomach fat

Mid-week mantra: If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up!

I have to remind myself of that a lot lately. Getting to the gym has become increasingly difficult- we’re so busy in the evenings that getting to bed so a 5 AM wake-up call doesn’t kill us, is proving impossible. Plus our bed is so comfy and the 12 minute drive to the gym (and the fact that our gym isn’t really all that great) just adds to the daunting nature of the task.

Every morning I try to remind myself- you always feel better when you do, something is better than nothing AND come next week, when the real estate classes start, you’re going to find that you’re not going to be able to get into the gym like you want. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. I need to make it easier to make time to work out in the evenings if I am forced to skip the morning session. I’m trying- I really am. Any tips??

Refocus on your goals. What are you really trying to achieve? Are you trying to lose 20 pounds? Get a 6 pack? Run a marathon?

I’m trying to lose fat and gain muscle, specifically in my midsection. It’s not my weight I’m concerned about- I want muscular toned arms, legs, butt and stomach (I’m not trying for one of those creepy body-builder 6 packs though). Adding up these tips and tricks we’ve discussed can help- but I know I need to be doing more. Which is where getting into the gym consistently comes in. I’m going to look up 5Ks in the area- even a small race can help me stay focused and make sure I commit to some cardio every week, but I know I need to ramp up my strength training more.

Quick reminder about a simple tip that we’ve already discussed & that is very easy to do and really does make a difference but many people still neglect it:

  • WATER! I drink a lot of water during work- at least a gallon. But I am also going to start carrying water everywhere I go. I will fill up my S’well bottle before I get in the car to run errands, road trip out to a friend’s house, whatever! I hate being thirsty and it really can stave off hunger.

Now for a new tip:

  • Color your plate. Every time you eat a meal or a snack there should be COLOR (beige and white or cream are not colors just as an FYI). Hummus and pita chips? BLAND. Add carrots and/or peppers. Chicken and pasta? BLAND. Throw some spinach into the pasta or put the chicken over a bed of sauteed spinach. Cheese and crackers? BLAND. Add some sliced tomatoes. Every meal or snack needs to have a bright color- you’ll automatically be making a healthy choice that way.

Yesterday’s food journal

Breakfast- 3 egg omelette with 2 Laughing Cow cheese wedges and smoked salmon

Coffee

Late morning snack- Apple & peanut butter

Green tea

Lunch- regular salad

Mid-afternoon snack- carrots & cucumber slices with sundried tomato hummus

Pre-dinner snack- cashews and 2 dried dates 

Dinner- Pork cutlets with roasted broccoli and homemade crispy breadcrumbs (made from panko & parmesan cheese). Pineapple for dessert.

Slow down

Guys, I used a tablespoon to measure peanut butter AND hummus for today and I’m already feeling more in control.

This next one is a toughie for me because I WOLF my food down. Like speed-eater style on the regular. My dad is a fast-eater and I think I just picked it up from him. Thankfully the BF is also a fast eater so I don’t feel too weird most of the time but when dining with slow-eating friends, it can be frustrating. But they have it right! You need to take your time when eating. Now, I know this is easier said than done. But that’s why we concentrate on adding ONE thing a day right? When you take your time eating, you take smaller bites (which we have already discussed helps with weight loss) and you will spread it out over the 20 minutes that it usually takes your body to feel full. If you gulp food down in 5 minutes, you may think you’re still hungry, eat more, then 15 minutes later you’ll feel bloated and gross.

Some simple ways for you slow down when eating include:

  • Always sit down at a table to eat. No more TV meals; pay attention to what you’re eating. This also lends itself to no more other screens (something I struggle with). No cellphone, no computer, no multitasking.
  • Put down your utensils between each bite. Pause, relax.
  • Have a conversation. If you’re eating with others, use meal time as an opportunity to talk as well as eat.
  • Take small bites.
  • Chew more. Count how many times you normally chew and add one extra chew on the end.

So while I’m focusing on measuring items today, tomorrow will be all about mindful eating!

Have a great weekend and remember your healthy journey doesn’t stop Friday at 5!

Yesterday’s food journal

Breakfast- 2 scrambled eggs and peanut butter on a whole wheat English muffin

Coffee

Mid-morning snack- half a cup of Kashi GoLean and a 1/4 cup of dried apricots

Lunch- usual salad, sans grape tomatoes or feta

Green tea

Mid-afternoon snack- 4 dried dates with a spoonful of tahini

Dinner- We went to Rooster’s Uptown, this awesome spit-rotisserie chicken restaurant that does most everything a la carte like a steakhouse. This was definitely our cheat meal for the week! We shared the bread & olive oil (it was totally worth it), a 3 cheese sampler, half a rotisserie chicken, sides of mac & cheese, pan-roasted corn, and potatoes au gratin. I also had a glass of Pinot Gris.

MORE

BIG NEWS- I registered for my real estate license course! I begin early April and I’m really excited to finally take the leap into making this huge life change that I really hope will turn around some things that have been bringing me down lately. Restarting this blog has also been helping!

On that note, of making big changes by disrupting the status quo and adding MORE  to your life- let’s get started. This one is less a “trick” and more of a mind-set tweak.

The way so many diets go is to eat “less”. Less bread. Less alcohol. Less carbs. Less dairy. Or even worse, “zero”. Zero cookies. Zero soda. Zero French fries. Zero ice cream. But as we know, eating less or completely eliminating things from your diet just makes you feel deprived. So what we’re going to focus on today is what you CAN eat, what you SHOULD eat, and what you can eat MORE of. Sound good?

Eat MORE-

  • GREENS
  • WHOLE GRAINS
  • SEAFOOD
  • FIBER
  • VEGETARIAN MEALS
  • HEALTHY SNACKS

So when you’re hungry and feeling like there’s nothing you can turn to- guess what? There is! And I’m going to break it down and show you how.

Greens

You probably already eat a salad or maybe throw some greens on your sandwich. Perhaps you have a green veggie on your plate for dinner. Let’s be real- salads are a must if you’re trying to lose weight. But you can throw greens in anything! Next time you’re making soup- throw some greens in. Stir-fry? Throw some greens in! A smoothie? THROW THEM GREENS IN! Pasta? Greens. Rice or another grain side? Greens. Greens, greens, everywhere! Broccoli, spinach, cabbage, Swiss chard, kale, any type of lettuce- there are so many greens that you can use in life. If you have them on hand, you can throw them in anything. Greens are good for you because they are chock-full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that fight disease. They are also rich in fiber (see #4), which helps you feel full and controls your hunger. They also contain lots of water (see yesterdays post)!

Whole grains

Pretty much anything that is made out of grain, just swap it for a whole grain. Whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, whole grain English muffins. This also includes grain sides- quinoa, millet, spelt, bulgur, barley, oats, rice (brown). (Remember to throw some greens in them!) Grains are not the enemy. Pairing them with protein and veggies help you stay fuller longer and stave off late-night snacking. Again- lots of nutrients, including fiber, are within whole grains. They also reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. And they keep you regular! So eat more of them- and stop eating the processed wheat products that are so prevalent in our society now.

Seafood

Seafood is naturally lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol than many other animal protein sources. They also provide lots of great vitamins and minerals that are hard to find elsewhere, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re not a fan of fish, there’s also crab, shrimp, crayfish, scallops, oysters, octopus, squid etc. Now, I don’t recommend going overboard on seafood due to high mercury levels and lack of sustainability (not to mention the cost), but if you’re looking to switch up your basic chicken, swap in seafood! Shrimp stir-fries, scallop pasta, tuna salad (tuna steaks on a bed of greens, not that nasty mayo concoction you put on white bread in middle school)- they’re all great ways to keep it interesting, healthy, and low-calorie! For me right now, this is great because on Fridays during Lent I have to go meat-free and that’s a great excuse to experiment with seafood!

Fiber

So there are two kinds of fiber- SOLUBLE fiber- that’s the kind of fiber that slows digestion, lowers cholesterol, flushes out bad fatty acids, and keeps your blood sugar steady. You can get soluble fiber from oats, beans, barley, flaxseed, berries, soybeans, bananas, apples, carrots, seeds, oat bran, peas, and legumes. There is also insoluble fiber, which you need as well- it helps hydrate you and keeps you regular. You can get insoluble fiber from nuts, whole wheat, whole grains, bran, seeds, brown rice, skins of produce, flax, rye, and some vegetables (yes, some foods have both kinds of fiber). As I said before, fiber is so good for you because it keeps your blood sugar from spiking, relieves constipation, and lowers cholesterol. So when you’re itching for a snack or to add something extra to your meal- think fiber (it’s why I started adding sunflower seeds to my salads!) Also, you can kill multiple birds with one stone because many greens contain fiber as well as many whole grains!

Vegetarian meals

Vegetarian meals provide awesome benefits for a variety of reasons. It gives you more variety, it saves you money, and it also contributes to helping the environment. You’re not totally giving up meat, but you can still reap the benefits of a vegetarian diet by going meat-free for some meals- reducing your risk of heart disease by easing off the red meat, lowering your consumption of calories since grains, legumes, fruits & veggies are lower in calories from a volume standpoint than meat, and upping your consumption of fiber, vitamins, and minerals by subbing healthier options for meat. There are so many easy vegetarian meals you can throw together- just hop on Pinterest for a plethora!

Healthy Snacks

Guys, if you’ve been following my food journal, you know I’m all about the healthy snacks. If you need a place to start, Spark People has this great infographic to give you ideas. For me, snacking helps keep me from getting overly hungry between meals and then overeating at my next meal. I eat small, healthy snacks to tide me over and give me a normal appetite when meal-time rolls around. It’s important to pair carbs and protein together in order to stay full for the longest amount of time. When you get too hungry, that’s when cravings start! It also helps regulate my mood and boosts my brain power- if my mind starts to wander at work or I can’t focus, I know it’s time for a snack. There are also some foods that I can’t always integrate within my 3 meals a day, so this way I have more variety and can get all the vitamins and nutrients my body needs!

So, next time you’re feeling deprived or stuck in a diet-food rut, remember all the foods you CAN eat! Everyone can benefit from adding more of these things to their diet- let me know how it goes!

Yesterday’s food journal

Breakfast- low-fat Greek yogurt parfait with strawberries, Kashi GoLean and 1/4 cup of mixed nuts

Mid-morning snack- an apple and 2 wedges of Laughing Cow cheese

Late-morning snack- Half a cup of mixed nuts and a couple of dried dates

Lunch- standard salad, no grape tomatoes or feta

Dinner- Leftover spaghetti squash bolognese, 2 dark chocolate strawberry Ghirardelli squares my mom sent me for Valentine’s Day and a glass of Pinot Noir after my sorority alumnae board meeting