Apr 062016
 

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with food. This is partly, I think, because I just finished my recent “diet” where I seriously limited my intake of some of my favorite foods like bread and chocolate, which is something I hadn’t done in a long, long time. Then just the other day, I read through a really good cookbook that discussed food relationships and opened my eyes to how I was really feeling. (Also, I know it’s weird to say that a cookbook changed how I was feeling about food, but this one was interspersed with personal stories from the author that I related to so, so much. More on that later.)

So I’m sure this will come as no surprise to anyone who’s read my blog for more than, oh I don’t know, three days: I love food. I love everything about it. I love when flavors mix on my tongue and create something vibrant and exciting. I love when I dig into something comforting that makes me feel just a little bit happier inside. I tend to get way too excited about food and way too happy when I’m eating it. I have never been one of those people who can just skip a meal; even if I’m not hungry I am always looking forward to the next time I get to eat.

I know that some of these feelings aren’t “healthy,” and to some they probably aren’t even normal. Then again, I know that a lot of other people out there struggle with an unhealthy relationship with food (we are wired to be this way after all!), so I figured it was worth talking about today.

I am very lucky to live a wonderful and happy life, and thankfully I don’t suffer from many bouts of sadness or stress. This is especially lucky for me because based on how I am around food, I think if I had a more tumultuous life I would also have a very different food problem. While I usually can control my eating and avoid going overboard, I have noticed that after a particularly stressful or sad day I have much less control. During my “diet” over the last few weeks, I would be doing so amazing and staying right on track and then BOOM – one stressful afternoon at work led to a piece of chocolate on my metro ride home to calm me down, which then led to a spoonful of peanut butter when I got home. Identifying that I am a stress/comfort-seeking eater is the first step, but I know I still need to work to replace the comfort that I feel from food with comfort from other sources. This is something I’m working on.

I also consider myself lucky that I’ve figured all this out already about myself, and have worked very hard to overcome my love affair (addiction?) to food. Over the last five years or so I’ve learned about the importance of filling my body with wholesome foods and – more importantly – learned how to create wholesome foods that nourish my body and still bring me joy. Food is meant to be enjoyed after all, I just think it’s important to understand that it’s first and foremost meant to fuel your body and keep it at its healthiest state.

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There was once a time where I would sit down for a meal and eat everything available without abandon. If we were at a restaurant, I would eat bread, an appetizer, and some unhealthy meal – usually with French fries – and then get dessert. I didn’t think anything of it either; to me going to out to dinner was a time to eat all the most delicious foods that you don’t get to eat on a regular basis. While I still feel like this at times – that going out to eat is a special occasion and the special food should be enjoyed – I no longer feel the “need” to order the appetizer, the French fries, the dessert (ok, I still need the bread). I can order fish or grilled chicken with mixed veggies with no regrets and I have learned to focus more on the atmosphere of the restaurant and the people I’m with.

This is the same when I am eating at home. When I was growing up, there were always so many delicious, albeit unhealthy, foods on the table at mealtimes, and I loved everything so much that I had a really hard time stopping after one serving and putting my fork down when I was full. Now that I cook for myself, I make foods that I know are healthy for my body (but still tasty!), and by portioning out everything ahead of time I am able to better control the amount of food I’m putting into my mouth.

These changes have come slowly for me over the years, and I finally feel that I’ve arrived at a place where these shifts are coming from within – I no longer feel that I’m forcing myself to skip the fries or the dessert; it’s now something that comes naturally for me. Of course there are definitely times when I decide the French fries are just absolutely worth it, and that’s fine, but I’m talking more about the change to every day bad food habits that I used to have.

The cookbook that I read recently is called Eating in the Middle, and while it’s filled with mostly wholesome, healthy, and delicious recipes, it also includes recipes for things like peanut butter mousse pie with a pretzel crust and chorizo nachos. For each recipe, the author Andy spends a bit of time talking about her relationships with and memories of certain foods, and then talks about how those relationships have changed as she has grown to accept and nourish a healthier lifestyle.

This book spoke to me so much, and made me realize just how far I’ve come in my own journey. Then again, I know that turning to my sweets and treats to make me feel better is still a less-than-healthy behavior, and I’m sure it’s something I’ll continue working on for the rest of my life.

All this is to say that if you are struggling with your own journey to love food while balancing a healthy lifestyle, know that you aren’t alone and that it does seem to get easier with time (at least for me). I don’t think I will ever overcome my fierce love/obsession with food, but that’s ok. I don’t think we are meant to. 🙂

Question of the day: Have you ever struggled with your relationship with food?

 Posted by on April 6, 2016
Mar 242016
 

Hi friends! How’s everyone doing today?

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been limiting the amount of carbs in my diet to try lose a couple of pounds before our engagement party next weekend. I’m not doing anything too drastic – hello, did you see my weekend recap? – but I am trying to clean up my eats a little so I can feel the best I can during the party. I’ve been at the same weight for a few years now, and it would be great to just lose a pound or two more, if for no other reason than to prove that I can get over this hump!

Anyway, I read recently about the benefits of a high-fat, low-carb diet, so I thought that would be a good place to start.

Here’s a look at what I’ve been eating lately as part of that meal plan!

Breakfast

The juice game is still going strong in our home, and Fabio and I have a glass of it almost every morning. I just feel so much better starting the day off with all those nutrients!

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As far as “real” breakfasts go, we’ve been having eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. veggie scrambles have become my go-to, and recently I’ve been making one egg + one egg white + sautéed mushrooms and bell peppers. Sometimes I throw a little cheddar cheese on top if I’m feeling fancy. Yum!

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I’ve also been making a lot of hardboiled eggs lately (and did some research on how to make them easier to peel) which I’ll usually pair with some nuts (either almonds or walnuts) and berries (either blueberries or raspberries).

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The plan I’m following also isn’t no carb, it’s low carb, so low carb tortillas and certain types of bread (like sprouted grain bread) are fine in small doses. Last week I made breakfast tacos with Jones Dairy Farm sausage patties (only three ingredients!), scrambled eggs, and salsa on a low carb tortilla. This breakfast was delicious!

IMG_9848When we’re not eating eggs we’ve been eating avocado toast (a slice of bread topped with 1/4 avocado, a slice of turkey bacon, sliced tomato, and cheddar cheese – thrown under the broiler until melty).

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And also smoothies! To make this one I combined light coconut milk with 2 tbsp. chia seeds and let them soak for about 10 minutes. Then I added the mixture to the food processor with some frozen fruit – we had mango and strawberries on hand – and then tasted and added a little honey for sweetness. Ever since trying an acai bowl in California, I’m obsessed with having smoothies in a bowl (it feels more like ice cream that way!) so I served mine in a bowl with some nuts on top for crunch.

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Yum!

If nothing else, following this type of meal plan has forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and move away from having bowls of cereal every morning!

Lunches

Ah – just when I talk about trying something new, I show you a picture of something I eat every single day. Sigh.

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Ok, ok, so I’m still eating a salad almost every single day, but at least I’m trying to add some variety in the ingredients I’m using! Most days, my bowl consists of mixed greens, chicken, feta cheese, carrots, apples, and 1/4 avocado. Having the avocado in my salads has been such a treat – I love the creamy texture it adds.

Some days I’ll get a little crazy and make a Mexican-type salad with mixed greens, chicken, tomatoes, carrots, cheddar cheese, and a salsa-based dressing, but then I usually miss having something sweet in there.

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What can I say? I know what kind of salads I like.

Snacks

Snacks have been different from my typical apple as well! I’ve been enjoying celery with peanut butter…

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…nuts and berries…

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…string cheese (unpictured)…

…and small bowls of plain Greek yogurt with more nuts and berries! This snack is especially tasty after dinner when I’m craving something sweet. The thick yogurt is so satisfying! (It’s not chocolate, but it’s still good.)

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Dinners

Speaking of dinners, we’ve been having some good ones.

One night we had baked chicken with a honey mustard dressing (I just slathered my favorite spicy/sweet honey mustard on top of the chicken and then baked it at 375 for about 13 minutes until it was done), sautéed spinach and kale, and mashed cauliflower.

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This meal was really tasty, but the texture of the mashed cauliflower was a little grainy. Anyone know if that’s how it always turns out?

Another good meal was pork loin with apples!

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To make this, I sautéed the pork on high heat until there was a “crust” on all sides, then removed it to a pan. Then I added a chopped apple and diced carrots, onions, and celery to the pan and let everything cook for a few minutes in the drippings from the pork. Yum. Then I added the veggies to the pan with the pork and finished everything up in the oven. This meal was loosely based off of this recipe but I wound up changing a lot of things. It was a good one!

Then there was the salmon and asparagus I told you guys about last week! We are planning to have this again very soon. 🙂

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My favorite meal of all though has got to be a burger that Fabio grilled for us one night last week when the weather was nice!

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I wound up using two pieces of romaine lettuce for the “bun” then made sure to top my burger with all kinds of goodies: Swiss cheese, turkey bacon, tomato, pickles, ketchup, and mustard. With all those flavors, I really didn’t miss the bun (that much…haha). We had some asparagus on the side and I might have had half of Fabio’s beer too. 😉

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Overall I’d say my meal plan is going well, but I don’t plan on sticking with it long-term. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for cutting down carbs which I’m sure I’ll continue to follow, but I really don’t believe in “diets” and I don’t think they’re sustainable long-term. I prefer to do the best I can the majority of the time, but sometimes you just want the bun on the cheeseburger. 😉

Question of the day: How do you feel about diets?

 Posted by on March 24, 2016
Mar 162016
 

Look at that – we made it to hump day! Is this week flying by for anyone else?

I had a really nice day yesterday and I always enjoy reading day-in-the-life style posts on other people’s blogs, so I thought I would share a recap of my day yesterday in a similar (if less detailed) format. Ready? Here we go!

My morning began with a run on the National Mall with Fabio and Jack! It was super dark (definitely a downside to daylight savings time) and a little rainy out, but I’m glad we made it out there anyway.

We began our run in front of the Capitol building, looped around the mall by the Washington monument, and then ended again at the Capitol! Seeing this view (even with all the scaffolding around the Capitol) definitely made me think of House of Cards. I love this city! 🙂

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Sorry for the crappy photo!

Initially we had plans to run with with our friend Dan, but apparently we had a miscommunication about the time we were meeting and he didn’t have his phone with him, so Fabio, Jack, and I waited around for a little while before running on our own. Next time we will be more coordinated!

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It was a lot of fun running with my two favorite guys; Fabio doesn’t join me for runs nearly as often as I’d like. The spitting rain was a little annoying, but it was worth it for these sights!

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Yay! 🙂

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In the end we wound up covering only two miles, but a two-miler on a cold and rainy day is still a lot better than no run at all. 🙂

When we came back home, we downed some of our fresh juice (this week’s batch has a lot of beets in it!) and then I made some avocado toast using Dave’s Killer Bread, 1/4 an avocado, a slice of turkey bacon, sliced tomato, and cheddar cheese. I popped the whole thing under the broiler for a few minutes to make the cheese melty. Yum!

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I’m actually trying something new in regards to meals this week; I’ve been stuck at the same weight for a couple of years now and I’d really like to lose a couple of pounds before our engagement party in a few weeks. I’ve been trying all my normal tricks and although I’m back down to the bottom range of my usual weight, I would love to go a little past it. I’ve been reading lately about the benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet, and decided to give it a try. I’m loosely following a meal plan I found online for that type of diet for this week, and I wind up liking it I’ll be sure to share it on here. So far I’m feeling great!

After I got into work, I sipped on some tangerine-flavored “positive energy” tea that my coworker brought in for me. It was yummy!

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Soon enough it was time for lunch! The meal plan suggested turkey club wraps with spicy sprouts, with the wrap being a kale leaf. To make this, I spread some Laughing Cow cheese on a large piece of kale, then layered in sliced tomato, turkey, turkey bacon, and sprouts that I had tossed with some sriracha.

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While this was a good idea in theory, my kale leaf was a little too small for all those toppings and things got really messy. I wound up ditching the kale for the second one and just wrapped everything in the piece of turkey, and it turned out much better. The spicy sprouts were especially tasty!

At around 3:30 I broke for a snack: two celery sticks topped with peanut butter. Does this remind you of childhood or what? All that’s missing is the raisins! Also, the celery sticks look massive here but it was actually a pretty small plate. Then again, they were pretty big…

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Works for me!

One benefit of daylight savings time is how light it is when I get home! I got home yesterday and the weather was just beautiful, so Fabio and I took Jack on an extra long walk. We even spotted some beautiful crocuses on our way, and you know what that means: spring is coming!

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Also don’t be fooled into thinking I found a beautiful meadow in the heart of DC – this is just a vacant lot where we let Jack run around off-leash that happens to have some pretty flowers growing. 🙂

Once we got home, I snacked on one of these Walkers shortbread cookies that the company sent me to review.

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Holy moly, are those things dangerous. So buttery and sugary! After tasting one I made Fabio hide them (haha!) so I wouldn’t go back for more. There’s something about the simplicity of a shortbread cookie that makes me feel like I could eat 10 of them. Yum!

I also snacked on some raw almonds; clearly I was starving and just couldn’t wait for dinner! Eventually I got things going in the kitchen.

I wound up making this recipe for broiled salmon with a honey soy sauce and some simple roasted asparagus.

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It turned out so well, and I will absolutely use this recipe again. The sauce gave the salmon such a good flavor! We actually bought this salmon from Costco and froze a bunch of it, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing this meal pop up again soon. Yum!

I had planned on snacking on some Greek yogurt and fresh berries after dinner, but the salmon was actually really filling (they were big pieces) and since I had splurged on the cookie already I figured I didn’t really need it. 😉

Instead I finished up the evening on the couch with my boys! We watched an episode of House of Cards (of course!) and then called it a night.

The end!

Question of the day: Tell me one thing about your Tuesday!

 Posted by on March 16, 2016
Mar 022016
 

Hey friends! Happy hump day to ‘ya. I was planning to make today’s a post a roundup of what I’ve been doing lately in terms of meals and workouts, but it’s been a few weeks since we’ve chatted about that so I wound up having more to say than I realized. Instead I broke it all up into two posts: one about meals (today’s!) and one about workouts that will come at you later this week.

With that, here’s a peek into what I’ve been eating lately!

Juice

Yep – we are still going strong with having juice almost every day, more than a year after we first bought our juicer and starting juicing! I’m so glad this is a habit we have been able to stick with. I always feel so much better when my day begins with juice!

This week’s batch is heavy on the beets, and seems extra sweet for some reason. Delicious!

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Breakfasts

Of course I’m still on a strong cereal kick (what else is new…) but I’ve been trying to eat eggs more often as well. I know eggs are really good for me and give me a boost of protein that the cereal and milk can’t quite match. Plus, my mom has been giving us fresh chicken and duck eggs nearly every time we see her, so why wouldn’t I take advantage of that? I’ve been having them scrambled lately and they’re just so good.

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On the side I’ve been enjoying a slice of Dave’s Killer Bread toasted and buttered with Earth Balance spread. I first read about the awesomeness of this bread from Tina’s blog, and last time we stopped at Costo I obviously needed to pick some up!

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This organic, non-GMO bread has 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, Omega-3s and 22 grams of whole grains in every slice.

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It’s nice and hearty and I’ve been loving having it around. Fabio and I don’t typically keep bread in the house (we haven’t for quite some time now) so having a few slices here and there for toast and sandwiches has been really nice. I love knowing that what I’m eating is actually good for me too. Definitely give this bread a try!

Lunches

Yep – nothing new here. I’ve still been enjoying lots of gigantic salads for lunch. This particular one had some leftover pasta salad in it, which was a nice addition.

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And this salad was Mexican themed so I used salsa instead of dressing. It was a good one!

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I would say I typically wind up eating a giant salad like this for lunch four times a week, but I always try to switch up the ingredients so I don’t get bored. If you’re not a salad person, try reading my tips for building a salad you’ll love. It took me a while to find salad combinations that I actually get excited about, but once I did it was a total game changer.

Snacks

Though I’m still eating plenty of apples in the afternoons, I’ve been enjoying oranges and clementines as well! These little ones are just the cutest, and they’re so delicious.

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Dinners

This week’s dinners have been a little different for one main reason – Fabio took care of grocery shopping and meal planning this week! I called him on our way back from the Poconos to ask if he could take a look at what groceries we needed, head to the store, and figure out a meal plan for the week. Yikes! He’s never done this by himself before, and he said he felt like a single dad. Haha!

At first he joked that he was going to buy frozen French fries and ingredients for pizza and chicken fingers – ugh – but in the end he wound up doing an amazing job!

On Monday we had steak tostadas, which is always a go-to meal for us. I made some black beans and guacamole while Fabio cooked up the steak.

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Then it was assembly time!

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Yum. We love this meal so much that we even offered to cook it for my family this weekend when we go over there for lunch. It’s so simple and delicious! Let me know if you guys are interested in seeing a step-by-step post explaining how it all comes together.

Then on Tuesday, we had bone-in duck legs! I know, I’m as surprised as you are. I was pretty shocked when Fabio came home from the grocery store with duck, but he told me to “live a little.” Haha! Ok honey.

He wound up cooking the duck himself and did a great job! I made a quick sauce to go with the duck using 1/2 an onion, chicken broth, and blackberry jam (yum!) and roasted some potatoes and asparagus in the oven to go with everything.

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It wound up tasting great and I was so proud of Fabio for his cooking skills! Even though he doesn’t cook often and only knows how to make a few things, he is trying and actually doing a really nice job. Go Fabio!

Our last meal of the week that he planned will be stuffed shells on Friday (we have other dinner plans tonight and tomorrow). I know that will be delicious too, and I’m secretly hoping he’ll offer to cook as well. We shall see!

Anyway, that’s a look into what I’ve been eating lately. You might notice I didn’t mention sweets/desserts on here, and that’s because I’m really trying not to eat them right now! I feel like lately I’ve been eating so much crap on the weekends, so I really need to clean up my diet during the week (uh – and cut back on weekends). The last few weeks have gone pretty well, and I’ve found that as long as I don’t think about the chocolate chips hiding in my cupboard I’m usually fine. 😉 Here’s hoping it lasts!

Question of the day: Who does the cooking in your home?

 Posted by on March 2, 2016
Jan 212016
 

Hello! How’s everyone doing today? I actually managed to remember to take pictures of my food and workouts for not one but two days this week, so today I thought I’d share them with you all! I always like seeing what other people eat during the day, and it seems like you guys do too. Let’s take a peek!

Tuesday

Tuesday morning kicked off with a spin class at one of my favorite studios, Biker Barre! Truthfully when I woke up I debated skipping the class when I saw that the “feels like” temperature was -1 degrees. Ugh. Luckily I powered through and made it to the class, even if I was freezing the whole time in the car. Brr!

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The class itself was fantastic – like usual – and our instructor Allison even gave us some major props for showing up early in the cold to work out at 6:00 am. She told us we had earned the endorphin high, and she was right! I felt so good once class was over, and was so happy that I had decided to stick it out and go.

When I got home, I had a glass of fresh juice!

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This batch was made with beets, celery, kale, an apple, a grapefruit, and ginger. It was a good one!

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After taking a shower and getting ready for the day, I sat down for breakfast: a plain Greek yogurt bowl with a banana, blackberries, honey (unpictured), granola and peanuts (for healthy fats).

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I recently bought a new-to-me Special K granola, and I was really happy with the amount of protein per serving (6g) and sugar (9g, compared to many others I looked at with 13g).

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Delicious!

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The yogurt bowl kept me full for a long time, and I didn’t wind up sitting down to lunch until around 1:30. That’s really late for me! For lunch I had a leftover slice of pizza from the weekend, which was really tasty but didn’t do much to fill me up.

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I wound up snacking on an apple shortly after lunch. That did the trick!

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Later in the evening, I made this spaghetti squash “mac and cheese” which turned out really well!

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Mine wound up being a little wet – I don’t think I cooked the milk for long enough – but it was still really tasty and we have plenty of leftovers to have during the rest of the week.

Later on, I snacked on a delicious apple tart that Fabio’s dad gave us over the weekend from a French bakery.
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It was very simple and light, which was the perfect way to end the evening. Fabio and I each had a small piece while we finished up watching Making a Murderer. What a crazy show!

Wednesday

Wednesday morning began with another glass of juice, and then I headed to a 7:00 am class at Urban Athletic Club with my friends Anne and Kathleen!

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We had another great workout that included hanging knee lifts (recreated above!), sprints, wall balls, chin ups, TRX mountain climbers, goblet squats, walking lunges, high knees, push-ups to side planks, and more. Phew! It was a tough one!

When I got to work, I quickly showered in the locker room in our building, headed upstairs with dripping wet hair, and ate a yogurt bowl that I had packed from home. Taking 7:00 am classes is a bit of a challenge for me schedule-wise, but I always manage to get to work somewhat in time. 😉

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Later in the day, I dug into a huge salad with mixed greens, slivered carrots, brown rice, chicken, Craisins, and feta cheese. Yum!

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Yesterday’s snack was a small handful of mixed nuts and dried fruit, which was just enough to hold me over until dinner time.

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It was another really cold day and even started snowing when I got home, so all I wanted for dinner was soup! Luckily we had some leftover sweet potato and acorn squash soup in the freezer that I was able to thaw, plus some crusty bread from the same French bakery on the side. Yum!

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As I sat on the couch watching old episodes of Bobby Flay Throwdown on Netflix (Fabio was at a work event so I binged on crappy TV) my sweet tooth started calling to me. When we picked up Jack from my mom’s house on Sunday, she sent some flourless chocolate cake home with us (made with just eggs, butter, and cocoa powder!!) so I obviously needed some of that. With melted peanut butter on top, of course.

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So good!

Overall I would say these two days of meals and workouts were pretty typical for me – some good and healthy choices and some not. Some days are better than others, and that’s ok with me. I just try my best!

Question of the day: What’s the best thing you’ve eaten so far this week?

 Posted by on January 21, 2016
Dec 162015
 

Have I mentioned that in 10 days, I’ll be on the beach in Jamaica?

Yep, just like last year, Fabio and I will be joining my mom, stepdad, stepsister, and her boyfriend for a fun family vacation in Jamaica the day after Christmas. Bring on the sunshine! 🙂

Have I also mentioned that my life has been inundated with delicious holiday treats? I’m sure yours has too. The problem here is that a bikini + lots of holiday treats don’t really mix well. Sigh.

Luckily, I have what I think is a pretty good approach to balancing the two, so I wanted to share it with you today in case you are battling a similar situation.

Load up on the good stuff / Eat healthy when you can

Since I know I’ll be bombarded with lots of sugary, buttery treats this holiday season, I’m trying my best to load up on the healthy foods whenever I can. To start with, I made an extra delicious batch of fresh juice this week (I really missed not having it last week!) and have been once again starting my mornings off with plenty of nutrients.

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I just feel so much better when I drink a glass of fresh juice in the morning, especially if it’s after a particularly tough workout like you see here. (Psst…keeping up my workouts is another big part to staying balanced during the holidays, but I’m planning to spend today just talking about food.)

Another good thing about the fresh juice is that it keeps sickness away! Seriously, ever since I started drinking fresh juice back in January, I’ve noticed that the only times I got sick this year were when I wasn’t keeping up with the juicing. I don’t think that’s a coincidence!

Plus, even though I know this isn’t true, I feel like I could convince myself that drinking juice from all those veggies first thing in the morning basically cancels out any sugary treats I might consume later on. No? Ok. Either way, I’m still a huge fan of fresh juice!

I’ve also been loading up on healthy foods with my lunches, which have primarily featured gigantic salads.

I like to make my salads with lots and lots of veggies, that way I feel nice and full when I’m done eating (full stomach = less likely to binge on holiday treats). I don’t think there’s such a thing as a salad that’s too big; as long as you’re not loading it up with too much of the less healthy add-ins like cheese, dressing, etc. I say the bigger the better!

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Also, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you’ll know that I almost always include some type of grain – either brown rice or quinoa – in my salads for more texture/sustenance. This is actually something I’ve been cutting out this week in an effort to shave off a few extra calories. When I’m trying to watch my weight, I think of my calories like spending money while managing a budget: I only have so many to spend each day. While normally I don’t mind “spending” calories on a healthy grain, I know that when there are delicious holiday treats laying around I’d rather save them for that. Maybe that’s not the “healthiest” mindset to have, but it’s what’s working for me right now.

And, while I do really enjoy having a grain in my salads, I still find them to be pretty darn delicious even without it. Clearly. 😉

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I’ve also been making an effort to lighten up our dinners when meal planning lately. Of course I always try to keep our meal planning menu pretty healthy, but sometimes leftovers, cravings, lack of time, and other factors get in the way of that. This week is no exception – there are few days where we have fun holiday plans – but for the days when I will be home and cooking dinner I’ve tried to keep it light.

I even tried a new recipe that Catrina recommended: Spaghetti pie made with spaghetti squash and chicken sausage!

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It might not look like much, but it was seriously delicious and it was something I could feel good about eating while trying to watch my weight. Definitely try this one!

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Decide what to indulge on

In my opinion, the most important thing about practicing balanced eating during the holidays is to eat healthy when you can, and indulge when you decide it’s worth it. I am not one for skipping out on treats – hello, this blog is called Chelsea Eats Treats for a reason – but I do believe in picking and choosing the type of treats to indulge on.

For example, yesterday morning my office building held a free breakfast for tenants in the lobby. Knowing that there would be plenty of bagels, muffins, and pastries that – let’s face it – probably wouldn’t taste super amazing, I opted to eat a normal breakfast at home before coming in to work. Then, when my coworkers headed downstairs to get their free food, I joined them and made a simple plate of fruit and skipped the carby options. Perfect!

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On the other hand, one of our vendors sent us a giant box of Cheryl’s cookies, and I remembered from last year that the vanilla cookies with buttercream frosting were quite delicious. Obviously, I decided to indulge in one!

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Another example? My mom’s cinnamon rolls over the weekend.

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She doesn’t make these all that often, and I know they are always going to be incredibly delicious. Worth a splurge!

When I’m trying to decide what to eat and what to skip, I try to imagine how good it’s actually going to taste, and how I’m going to feel after eating it. I also try to think about how I’m going to feel in my bathing suit in 10 days, which is an added reminder to only splurge on what I really want (this could also work for certain jeans you’re trying to fit into, a New Years Eve dress, etc.).

Then again, this is the holiday season and the most important thing is to enjoy yourself! If it means eating a sugary, buttery treat, then by all means, do it!

Chances that I eat another cookie today? 100%. 😉

Question of the day: How do practice balanced eating during the holidays?

 Posted by on December 16, 2015
Oct 142015
 

Every time I write a weekend recap, I usually skip through my Sunday with something vague like “meal prepped” and “got ready for the week ahead,” and it finally dawned on me that you guys might like a little more information about what I actually do on Sundays. I truly believe that spending my Sunday preparing for the week ahead allows me to be more successful in my health goals, and I always feel much less stressed when I’ve taken the time to prepare everything in advance. That said, here’s a look at my Sunday routine!

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Step 1: Meal plan. Last year I explained my meal planning process in detail here, and looking back a year later I can say that the process hasn’t changed much. I start my meal planning by browsing through recipes in a folder I keep in my G-mail, and then I check to see what ingredients we already have on hand/need to use up. (Note: Whenever I see a recipe that I want to make, I email it to myself and then save it to a recipes folder in my Gmail. A Google doc would work great for this too!) I also make sure to incorporate any social events (happy hours, softball/volleyball games for Fabio, etc.) into the plan as well.

As I meal plan, I update our grocery list and fill in our chalkboard menu.

This is an old photo, but you get the idea. 

Step 2: Grocery shop. As soon as my meals for the week are planned out, I immediately head to the grocery store. I always, always go to the grocery store with a list, and it helps make the process a breeze. I grab exactly what we need and don’t like to waste time browsing around. Fabio and I usually go to the store together and divide up the list (for example in the produce section I will send him to get bananas and lemons while I get onions and potatoes, or something like that) which also helps cut down on time. We are usually in and out in less than half an hour!

Step 3: Meal prep. As soon as we put the groceries away, I get to work on prepping food for the week. Usually this includes making add-ins for salads like roasted vegetables (I like seasonal squash, carrots, or sweet potatoes) and quinoa or brown rice.

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Once everything is cooked I package it up into tupperware containers so I can grab them and go during the week. When it’s time to eat my salad, I heat up the tupperware container (usually with some cooked chicken added in) and then add the warm veggies and grains to my cold salad. Yum!

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When I have time/remember, I also make a batch of salad dressing to grab during the week. For this week’s batch I whisked olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, spicy mustard, hummus, salt and pepper together in a bowl and then divided the mixture equally among four containers. So easy!

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Step 4: Make fresh juice. I know this isn’t something that applies to everyone, but it’s definitely part of my routine so I wanted to include it. As you may already know, every Sunday I make a big batch of fresh juice that Fabio and I enjoy each morning throughout the week. I usually make a batch as big as my juice pitcher can handle, and it generally lasts us until about Friday morning.

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I know it’s better to drink juice as soon as it’s made, but I’m just not the kind of person who will get up early to make juice and clean the juicer every single day. More power to ya’ if you are! I figure juice that is a couple of days old is still better than no juice at all.

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If you’re interested in learning more about how I juice, you can read about it here.

Step 5: Clean the apartment (and sometimes do laundry). In old our apartment Sunday was always laundry day, but now that we have a washer and dryer in our apartment (woohoo!) I’ve found that I don’t mind doing the odd load of laundry during the week. One thing I absolutely must do on Sunday though is clean the apartment. Here’s what I usually do:

  • Windex the windows, glass surfaces (mirrors, glass tables, etc.), and kitchen appliances
  • Dust the bookshelves and furniture
  • Clean the tub, toilet, and sink in the bathroom and kitchen
  • Mop the kitchen and bathroom floors

Given that I do all this on Sunday, you might be wondering what Fabio does. Well, his only job (other than coming with me to the grocery store) is to vacuum. And let me tell you, getting him to do it is SO hard! All day I have to ask when he’s going to get it done, and he usually waits until the last minute before one of our favorite shows or waits until right before bed (if he does it at all). Ay yi yi. What am I supposed to do with this guy??

Step 6: Plan my workouts. I’ve talked about this before on the blog, but I keep a dry-erase calendar on my refrigerator with my planned workouts for the week, and filling it out on Sunday evening helps me make sure I don’t skip anything and stay on track.

This is another old photo, but you get the idea. 

And there you have it! Now you know what I like to do on Sundays to get ready for the week! It might sound like a lot, but the whole process doesn’t usually take longer than a few hours, and then I am ready to face the rest of my week.

Question of the day: Tell me one thing you do on Sundays.

 Posted by on October 14, 2015
Sep 242015
 

Hi friends! I’ve been working from home for most of this week (Tuesday – Thursday) because the Pope is in town! Traffic and the metro is supposed to be crazy, so most of DC is working remotely. And you know what that means?? I’ve been spending lots of time in PJs with a makeup-free face. 🙂

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Plus a furry working companion!

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How sweet are my new PJ pants that my dad brought me back from Alaska? Of course they’re not as great as actually going to Alaska, but I had enough traveling of my own lately. 🙂 Fabio is working from home too, so we’ve been having a lot of fun! Can I work from home every day?

On Monday I did make my usual trek into the office, where I decided to take advantage of our office gym! I had packed my gym stuff up the night before, and I guess I grabbed the wrong shirt because when I put it on it was way too big.

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Fabio and I have that same shirt from our first half marathon, so I always wondered if I would mix them up one day. Well, I did. Womp womp. Oh well, it still got the job done.

For my workout, I made sure to print something out ahead of time because I knew otherwise I would spend the hour wandering around aimlessly and not actually get a good workout in. I wound up running one mile on the treadmill as my warm-up, and then completed the following:

PopSugarFullBody

[Printable version here]

It was a good one, and didn’t take too long either. After my workout I headed into the locker room to take a quick shower, when I realized I had forgotten a towel! Ah! I wound up bringing about 10 paper towels into the shower room with me and using those. Ugh. Not fun. I won’t make that mistake again! It was pretty comical though. 😉

Then on Tuesday I took full advantage of not having to commute to work by taking a 7:00 am class with Anne. Usually 7:00 am classes are too late for me if I want to get to work on time, so this was such a luxury!

We decided to try out a Metabolic Resistance Training class at a new-to-us studio in Georgetown, Definitions, and we were so impressed! The class was recommended to us on ClassPass based on classes we’ve taken previously. I love that new feature!

When we arrived at the large office building that houses the gym, a Definitions staff member was waiting for us in the lobby with an iPad for us to sign in. Then he escorted us to the gym entrance and introduced us to the owner, who showed us all the features of the gym. I hate when I get to a new gym and I have to wander around looking for everything, so I definitely appreciated the hospitality! No one knew we were bloggers either, so this is how they treat all their customers. 🙂

Then we were led to our workout space for the morning, a rather small but efficient room that totally took advantage of its small size. They had TRX equipment looped on to random ceiling poles and resistance bands clipped on to the shelves. So smart!

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Then our instructor for the day, DeShay, led us through an awesome workout! Here’s what we did:

Circuit 1* 

  • Station 1: row, lunge with dumbbell row
  • Station 2: ab roll ups with a sandbag, pushups with a band/plyo pushups
  • Station 3: sandbag shoulder lifts, side-shuffle

Circuit 2*

  • Station 1: row, squat jacks with medicine ball
  • Station 2: step ups, resistance band pulls
  • Station 3: battle rope, TRX squat jumps

*Complete each exercise for 45 seconds, with 15 seconds rest in between. Repeat each exercise three times before switching stations.

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Phew! What a tough workout! Anne and I were both red-faced and sweaty by the end.

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Those battle ropes are harder than they look!

We had such a great time and will absolutely be back! Definitely check this place out if you’re in the area. 🙂

Yesterday I enjoyed a nice rest day (although Fabio and I did take Jack for an extra long evening walk) and then today I was back at it with another ClassPass class!

This time I checked out the cycling class at Sculpt DC. I had been there once before for an awesome rooftop yoga class for the launch of ClassPass DC, but I had never tried their cycling class.

When I arrived, I was treated to this beautiful sunrise.

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So pretty! Also, the streets downtown were totally deserted, which I found weird. I guess everyone was working from home like me, or else congregating wherever the Pope was scheduled to be? Weird.

I thought the class was pretty good, but I didn’t like it as much as some of my other favorite DC cycling classes (FlyWheel, Biker Barre, Wired, Revolve, etc.). The instructor was really nice, but her music didn’t totally wow me, and some of her moves – while innovative – weren’t really for me. For example, during one song she turned off all the lights and encouraged us to do whatever we wanted. Luckily she picked a song with a great tempo for this, so I just cycled along to the beat. I didn’t really enjoy all that freedom though, and couldn’t help thinking that the reason I go to a spin class is for instruction. I can cycle however I want from the gym in my building.

Still, I liked the studio a lot and am planning to go back soon to try again. I was still a sweaty mess when I left, which is always a good sign!

Food!

Ok, now let’s talk about my meals lately. On Monday it was cold and rainy, so I brought back an old favorite: oatmeal!

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For those who don’t remember (it’s been ages since I’ve made this, after all) here’s how I make my oatmeal: mash up a ripe banana, add 1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup milk, 1 egg white (when I feel like it), vanilla and cinnamon to a bowl. Mix well and heat for one minute in the microwave. Stir, and heat for one minute more. Let it sit for a few minutes to thicken up/cool off, and then add toppings! I like a lot of toppings so I usually go for some kind of nut, nut butter, and dried fruit. De-lish!

I also made a really delicious egg scramble for us this morning which included farm-fresh eggs, swiss chard, tomatoes, onions, jalepeno (from my mom’s garden!), and black beans. I topped it off with avocado, green onions, and cilantro.

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Such a tasty breakfast! I wish I had time to make this every day.

I’ve also been munching on a ton of apples lately; I got some really tasty ones in my Relay Foods order on Monday and now they’re almost gone. 🙁 Apples are just so good right now!

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Of course you know what goes well with apples? Cheese. 🙂

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I think our time in Paris spoiled us a little bit because Fabio and I have been wanting cheese and wine every day. While I definitely don’t think it would be good to get into the habit of doing this, I don’t have a problem with enjoying some cheese and an alcoholic beverage after work every once in a while. It makes us both so happy!

For dinner on Monday I made a big pot of homestyle chicken noodle soup with plenty of fresh herbs on top. Like I said earlier, it was a really gross rainy day on Monday so this was perfect.

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Having leftover soup for lunch hasn’t been bad either!

Then on Tuesday Fabio offered to make dinner which – no surprise – wound up being steak. I cooked up some black beans, brown rice, and quick guacamole to go with it.

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Yum!

Aaaand now we’re all caught up. 🙂

Question of the day: What did you eat for dinner last night?

 Posted by on September 24, 2015
Aug 252015
 

Raise your hand if you remember when my every day lunch used to look like this.

Yep, anyone who has been reading CET for more than a year or so may remember that I used to have this same exact lunch every day at work: a sandwich thin with turkey, American cheese, and mayo and/or mustard, plus carrots and hummus on the side. I ate this meal almost every day for years and I never, ever got tired of it. In fact, I bet if you put one of those lunches down in front of me right now, I would still lovingly cherish every bite. Yum.

However, I can’t tell you the last time I ate a lunch that looked like that. Now my lunches look more like this, and I love them just as much. Plus they are more filling, nutritious, and wholesome than the crap I was eating before.

So, what changed?

Last May, I got pretty bored with my fitness routine and decided to switch things up by purchasing the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body program (I still cringe at that name…ick). At the time, I thought the workout guide had the most bang for its buck and I’ve even recommended that if people can’t afford to purchase both the nutrition plan and the workout guide, they should just buy the workout guide. For someone who “already ate pretty healthy,” I didn’t think I really needed a nutrition plan and the workouts could be done over and over again, making them seem like the better option for anyone who didn’t want to buy both. I stuck with this belief for quite a while, but now, more than a year later, I might be changing my tune.

You see, Kayla’s nutrition plan got me in the habit of tracking my meals again. While I have tried almost every food tracking app there is (MyFitnessPal, Weight Watchers, Fooducate, etc.) I usually found it tiresome to track every ingredient in every meal and eventually after a couple of weeks I would stop using the tracker. With Kayla’s plan I started tracking servings – servings of protein, vegetables, healthy fats, etc. – and this ultimately made it easier to stick to.

To track my food I kept a note in my phone, and each day I would compare how many actual servings of each food group I was eating compared to my goal. (The number of servings you aim for can/should be different for everyone depending on your goals, so you may not want to follow exactly what I have shown below.) Having a simple note to keep myself accountable was really easy and helpful, and though I still eventually stopped tracking everything in the note, I did keep it going for much longer than any of my other tracking attempts.

The biggest surprise for me during this time was realizing that I wasn’t getting nearly enough vegetables in my diet. Yes I would eat a serving of fruit or vegetables with every meal, but carrots on the side of my little sandwich thin just wasn’t cutting it. I realized that if I was going to consume enough veggies to meet the goals of the plan, I would need to start boosting up the veggie volume during lunch.

Enter, the salad!

At first, I was pretty crappy at making salads. I just didn’t know what would taste good together and I usually wound up starving and unsatisfied after eating one. Eventually after playing around with a bunch of combinations, I finally found something that really worked for me. Here’s how I make salads that truly satisfy my tummy and taste buds.

What I put in my salads

  • Mixed greens. I like buying one bag of spinach and one bag of “power greens” or other mixed greens.
  • Pre-cooked chicken. Costco has great grilled chicken breasts that come in a two-pack; I usually keep one pack in the fridge and one in the freezer for later. Sometimes I’ll buy a Rotisserie chicken instead.
  • A grain. I usually have quinoa or brown rice.
  • Some kind of crunchy veggie. I like buying bags of either broccoli slaw or shredded carrots. If I don’t have these, I’ll just chop up some carrots.
  • Something sweet. I suggest either Craisins, sweet corn, or any fresh fruit like strawberries, apples, or blueberries. Roasted sweet potatoes also work great!
  • Tasty cheese. I like feta or, on special occasions, goat cheese.
  • Healthy salad dressing. Usually I make my own dressing with olive oil + balsamic vinegar + spicy mustard + salt + pepper. On rare occasions I’ll buy a pre-made dressing without a lot of funky ingredients.

Costco chicken

[Source]

How I pack up my salads for work

Sundays are usually my prep days for salads, and on this day I’ll cook up some quinoa or brown rice and package everything together. Once the quinoa or rice has cooled, I’ll divide it into four or five (depending on how much I made) small tupperware containers. Then I’ll add some of the precooked chicken to the tupperware containers and pop them into the fridge.

Next I usually make a big batch of salad dressing and pour them into smaller tupperware containers that are the perfect size for salad dressing (I think I got mine at the Container store, but I’ve seen them in random aisles of the grocery store). Again, I’ll usually make enough dressing for four or five salads, depending on how much quinoa or rice I made. Once these are done, they go into the fridge too!

In the morning to finish up my salad before work, I’ll add the greens, crunchy veggie, sweet item, and cheese into a big salad tupperware container. Then I’ll pack it up in my lunch bag (these days a recycled Lululemon bag that has seen better days) and throw in the dressing and the grain/chicken tupperware (that’s three separate tupperware containers for those who are counting…we use a lot of tupperware!). I then toss in an apple for my afternoon snack and I’m ready to go to work!

How I assemble my salads at work

I start by heating up the grain and chicken mixture because I’ve found that I really enjoy having a warm element to my salads. When it’s hot, I’ll take turns adding the dressing and the grains/chicken to the salad, and then I pop the lid back on my big tupperware container to shake everything up. This is why having a big container is key – it allows everything to move around and get evenly coated with dressing. And then, voila! A perfectly delicious sweet, salty, savory, healthy salad for lunch.

Through all this trial and error, I found that I really need some sort of grain in my salad to keep me feeling full. Otherwise I get hungry again a couple hours later! I also really like having something sweet in my salads since it helps me rein in my sweet tooth after my meal.

If you’ve tried doing the whole salad for lunch thing and you just can’t get into it, I highly recommend playing around with different flavor combinations until you find something that really makes you happy. Now I can’t imagine going back to the sandwich – even though it is still tasty – because of all the crappy ingredients in there. I just feel so good after a giant, wholesome, filling, delicious salad!

Question of the day: What do you usually eat for lunch?

Psst: Read more about my experience with the Kayla Itsines plan here

 Posted by on August 25, 2015
Jul 072015
 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a ravaging sweet tooth. I think my sweet tooth stems from growing up in one household that always had homemade baked goods like cookies, cakes, and brownies (my mom’s) and another household that had an unlimited supply of Oreo’s and Chips Ahoy cookies at my disposal (my dad’s). I was raised to believe that dessert after both lunch and dinner was totally normal, and I can remember going to school with slices of homemade cake and cookies in my lunch box.

Little did I know that one day I would start to care more about what I was putting into my body, and this sugar addiction would come to bite me in the butt. Although I’ve tried over the years to kick the habit of having something sweet after every meal, I’ve never been successful…until now!

Why is it so hard to quit sugar?

As you (probably) know, I work in health and wellness PR and part of my job requires me to read the latest research about diet and fitness (I know, I’m incredibly lucky and it’s really cool). I remember last fall a study came out showing that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Crazy, right? In the study, researchers gave rats the choice between water infused with cocaine or sugar. Not only did the rats choose the sugar water over the cocaine water, but when the researchers monitored what was happening in the rats’ brains they found that sugar activated “significantly more neurons” than cocaine.

Sounds crazy and yet, it makes sense. Have you ever had something sweet, and then instantly wanted 10 times more of it? This happens to me sometimes if I haven’t had chocolate in a while. I will eat one little bite, and suddenly want all-the-chocolate. Sometimes you have the best intentions of just eating a little sugar, and then it backfires and you wind up eating way more than you wanted because that’s how our brains are wired. So annoying.

My sugar habits before

In the past, I’ve always needed a little something sweet after lunch and dinner.

After lunch, I would usually indulge in sweet prunes, Fig Newtons, or Hershey Kisses. In my head all of these were fine, because they were either a) still sort of nutritious or b) portioned out small enough that I felt ok about it.

Snacks I used to keep in my desk drawer

In actuality this was not ok because of how I felt about the sugar. It wasn’t optional – I needed it. If I didn’t pack something from home or have a stash of sweets in my desk, I would almost always walk downstairs to CVS to pick something up.

The same thing would happen after dinner; I would always need some sort of “treat” like a low fat Jello pudding cup with chocolate chips or a small scoop of mostly healthy ice cream.

Again, I would trick myself into thinking this was ok because it was a small portion and was usually low in calories and fat. I still think these treats are perfectly fine, but my relationship with them was not. If I didn’t have something sweet to eat after dinner, I would dig around the cabinets searching for chocolate chips. Not ok.

My sugar habits now

These days, I don’t find myself craving the sugar quite so much. Days will go by without any sort of treat in my diet, and although I certainly haven’t eliminated them altogether  (nor did I ever intend to) I really feel like my relationship with sugar has changed. I can eat lunch without wishing I had a Hershey Kiss, and I can eat dinner without turning to the cabinet for sweets afterword. Yes, every once in a while I will still have a handful of chocolate chips after dinner, but it’s down to about once a week now, which is a big improvement for me.

As for how I did it, it actually wasn’t too hard. I just decided to cut out all the extra sugar.

At first, I considered paying for this go sugar free course. I had read awesome things about the course from Kristen at Iowa Girl Eats, and was seriously considering joining. Then I read a little bit about the course and saw that the creator went cold turkey on sugar in 2012 and never looked back. While I was never planning to eliminate sugar altogether, I knew I had the strength to cut it down myself and didn’t need to pay for a course, so that’s exactly what it did.

Truthfully one thing that really helped was having surgery on my foot earlier this year. I made the decision to cut down on sugar as a casual New Year’s resolution, and having surgery in early January really helped. Because moving around was so difficult after surgery, it made it hard for me to get up and get a quick treat after lunch and dinner. Of course I still could have managed, especially since so many people brought me candy and treats during my recovery, but this really did help me stick to my goals.

Other tricks that really help me when I’m craving something sweet are to drink a big glass of water, brush my teeth, or munch on some sugarfee gum. Sometimes when I’m craving sweets my mouth is actually just bored, and changing up the taste helps a lot.

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It also helps to remember that after eating the sugar I’m only going to feel worse, and it’s really not worth the calories.

Then again, sometimes the treat is worth the calories, and that’s ok. I still enjoy sugary treats when I decide it’s worth it, like when I visit my mom and she has baked some crazy delicious concoction or when I’m celebrating a special occasion with family and friends.

Sometimes I’ve just had a hard day at work or I’ve eaten really healthy all day and just want a little something sweet. That’s ok too! The name of this blog is Chelsea Eats Treats for a reason, and I don’t intend to change that anytime soon. What I did intend to change was my everyday gotta-have-sugar mentality, and I think I’ve finally done it. Hooray!

Question of the day: Do you struggle with eating sweets? If so, how do you overcome it?

 Posted by on July 7, 2015