Monthly Archives: November 2011

Breaking News!

I’m taking a pledge tomorrow to not eat meat for the month of December. With a “possible” exception on Christmas Day.  If you’ve been wanting to cut meat out for a while, take this pledge with me! Leave me a comment with your name and we can do this together – and since it’s the season of giving, I’ll try and come up with a fun gift to give out to whoever completes this challenge :)

Details to come tomorrow… get ready!!!

VS Fashion Show = Starvation or Motivation?!

What better way to find motivation than to watch the Victoria Secret Fashion show right before the start of the month! The show was great – especially the music (minus niki minaj)- and the girls looked phenom, however some of them needed to eat a cheeseburger- or three.  In my opinion, bones sticking out of your body is not attractive – it’s nauseating, but I guess that comes with the job! They’re models for a reason, no?

In case any of you wanted to starve your way thin, here is the VS Angel Diet:

“Lima drinks a gallon of water a day. For nine days before the show, she will drink only protein shakes – “no solids”. The concoctions include powdered egg. Two days before the show, she will abstain from the daily gallon of water, and “just drink normally”. Then, 12 hours before the show, she will stop drinking entirely.”

For those of us who like to eat food… that’s solid, the VS diet might prove to be a little difficult! However, there are plenty of healthy ways to lose weight – yes, it will take more than 9 days to lose 9 lbs, but the faster you lose weight the faster it creeps back on – with a few added pounds. I’m sure many of us have experienced that first hand! I’ve come to realize that maintaining or losing weight – unless you have impeccable genes – will be a constant struggle for most people and that’s just something we need to accept.

For example, it took me three weeks to lose a solid three pounds by eating healthy and exercising . Thanksgiving rolls around, and by eating whatever I wanted for about 4 days, I gained 1.5 lbs back. Now, I’m not freaking out because I know that getting back on track will bring me back to normal again, but that’s the key phrase “getting back on track.” This is why extreme diets will always end in a big FAIL because most people cannot sustain a lifestyle where you only eat protein shakes all day, or only eat 500 calories a day, or any other extreme method of weight-loss. Sure, you’ll lose a lot up front, but that’s because you’re doing something you normally don’t do – it’s a change from your daily habits, but once you go back to your original eating habits because you most likely will – you suddenly have found all the weight you lost.

Yesterday, I was extremely sluggish all day and was heavily dreading my evening workout to come. I was so close to skipping out and then I got this text message from my health and fitness nut friend Lea:

You bet your ass I chose to get up and get moving!

My workout:

Strength:

I did this in our family room at home and had my dad set the timers. It was quite difficult trying not to laugh hearing my mom cheer “go, keep going, almost there, yeah!”

Cardio:

3.10 miles interval running that looked something like this.

The first two miles:

  • Jog 2 minutes (5.0)
  • Sprint 15 seconds (7.0)
  • Run Fast 30 sec. (6.0)
  • Sprint 15 sec. (7.0)
  • Jog 2 min. (5.0)
  • Walk 1 minute. (Eliminated walking after mile one)

 The last mile:

  • Jog 1 min. (5.0)
  • Run 2 min. (6.0)

This workout totaled 55 minutes and this is the aftermath: sweaty mess!

Nothing short of a Victoria Secret Model ;)

PS: “I’m sexy and I know it” and “Sweat” by Snoop Dog (David Guetta remix) are some great running songs! I probably repeated those at least 4 times each :)

 

Baby It’s Cold Outside.

It’s that time of  year again – puffer coat and uggs have emerged out of my closet. I’m always cold, to the point where I keep a mini heater by my desk and have it on high all day. When the weather turns like this I crave hearty soups and warm heavier meals.

Yesterday I decided to try Panera’s chili without the cornbread. To my surprise, it was pretty good – a little heavy on the salt of course, but nonetheless it did the job and inspired me to make my own version last night.

Vicky’s Somewhat Chili:

Ingredients: (About 8 servings)

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 bell peppers
  • white mushrooms
  • celery
  • 2 (14.5oz) cans of Basil and Garlic Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 cup of water
  • Paprika, Chili Powder, Cumin, Garlic Salt, Oregano and Pepper (Season to taste)
Instructions:
Chop up your veggies and put them in a pot with EVOO on medium heat. Let them cook for about 4-5 minutes, stir occasionally so that they don’t burn.  Add in the ground beef and let it brown – breaking up the pieces.  Add in all the spices and mix. Once the meat is brown, add in the diced tomatoes and water (or beef stock) and bring to a boil. Then turn back to simmer/medium heat and let it cook for about an hour. (I didn’t really keep track of time, but I want to say it was around an hour total) You can also add in a can or two of beans toward the end – if you wish!
Veggies:
Add in the meat:
Add in the diced tomatoes and water:

Lunch: (garnish with shredded queso if you want – I sure will!)

(Ignore the color- this was taken in HD)

I could not get up for the life of me today so I’m curious to see where I will find energy to workout tonight – I gotta make it happen!  PS: I got an email confirmation that my stepper has been shipped – yay!!! Oh, and I also bought some really cute Christmas stickers for my calendar. I’m good-to-go! Have you made your list for the month yet? And I’m not referring to your Christmas list! ;)

Quote Of The Day:

“Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle and a victory.” – Ghandi

 

 

Happy Pretend December 1st!

You’re probably thinking “what is this girl talking about,” but there’s a reason behind my madness. It’s a psychological thing – for me at least- where you want to start fresh or get back on track on the first of the month or on a Monday.  It’s common to feel that way, so for the sake of my psyche (or our psyche) let’s pretend today is Monday, December 1st.  I even changed my handbag to make the start of this month more official (might not make sense for you, but it does for me – I’m weird!)

As I stated in my previous posts, I plan to continue this sugar detox all the way until Christmas.  Overall, it really didn’t feel like a major detox because I never felt deprived. You’ll be surprised how quickly your sweet tooth goes away once you cut sugar out.

December Goals Listed Out:

  1. No Sugar until Christmas
  2. 8 cups of water/day minimum
  3. 5 days a week exercise – no exception
  4. 12 miles total of running/week
  5. Limit eating out to 1-2 times/week

I have a very good feeling this month will be much tougher than last month. For one, I don’t have a race that I need to train for so my running will be solely based upon determination to exercise.  Also, dinner plans with friends and holiday parties make it that much harder to resist temptation, but I did it before, therefore I should be able to do it again! Positive thinking.

 

December Training Calendar:

It pretty much goes like this:

 

Monday – Rest

Tuesday- 3 mile HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) plus 30 Day shred or TIU circuit

Wednesday- 3 mile HIIT and Stair Climber (I bought this awesome one off overstock.com and can’t wait to try it)

Thursday- 3 mile HIIT + TIU circuit

Friday- Rest

Saturday- 3-4 mile run

Sunday- Cross Train

Here is the stepper that my friend Lea pushed me to buy:

http://www.overstock.com/Sports-Toys/Twist-Stepper-Workout-Machine/2980129/product.html

Now that I have that printed out on a calendar and up on my wall, my next step is to purchase some really cute Christmas Stickers so that my calendar can look like this one:

 

Now that I have that all out in the open, I believe you can benefit from doing the same.  It’s always easier having a short term goal or something to work for, but that may not always be the case.  So we need to just get over the fact that exercise and eating healthy is not fun and realize that it’s necessary – for everyone! (that totally rhymed)

DONE AND DONE! Throw away those leftovers and get back on track! Happy December 1st ;)



My first 10k Turkey Trot – Food and More Food

I apologize for the delayed post, but my face has been stuck in food for the past two days – not even kidding. My little “only indulge on Thanksgiving and on Friday” rule didn’t really go according to plan. Anyway, let me start with my first 10k Turkey Trot!

I woke up around 6 am – this time fully rested – changed into my running gear and headed to the kitchen to brew some coffee and make toast and peanut butter (my running fuel.) Georgia got to my house right on time at 7:15 and I had her folded piece of toast with peanut butter in a zip lock bag for the road. The race was about 45 minutes away in a north suburb of Chicago. I looked at the directions online, but apparently didn’t study them enough because at 8 am  (the race started at 8:25) I realized that I was oh, about 12 miles too north (you’d think I’d put the address in my gps system, but I guess I was just too excited to be thinking clearly!) So, we turned around and made it to the nearby parking garage with 5 minutes to walk run to the start line. Guess you could say that was our warm up!

The course was beautiful, but entirely  uphill and downhill. We started off faster than we anticipated (I guess that typically happens from your excitement.) We managed to run to mile three at a sustainable pace with no walk breaks.

 We kept an average of 11:50 pace throughout the whole race – no walk breaks!

At the 6 mile mark we decided to just sprint the rest of the way to the finish line – I actually captured the sign too and the photographer was making fun of me thinking that I was texting (wouldn’t be that surprising if I was.)

We obviously had to take a picture with the giant turkey…

We could not have asked for better weather! Such a perfect running day – especially because of the amount of food that I was about to consume later on. I started my food-for-all with a peppermint mocha from Starbucks – sugar.com. Got all dressed up (thinking it would prevent me from eating too much – false) I then went to Georgia’s house for pre-appetizers.

New you new “do”

Appetizers included: Tiropites (Cheese Pies)

Homemade real Southern Corn Bread: (the missing piece is mine of course)

Followed by a traditional menu of turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, veggies, corn bread, mashed potatoes, stuffing and the Greek item Mousaka:

and this…

and this…

and it keeps on coming…

The moment I have been waiting for (can you feel my excitement)… Dessert: Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Coconut thing

Cookie Platter: Peanut Butter, Chocolate Truffle, Pupmkin Cookies, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip

Amazing Pumpkin Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting:

As you can see, I was set up for failure. There was no escaping this paradise! The good news is I did run on Saturday and today. Starting tomorrow there will be no more of this food nonsense! Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving mini-vacation!

Happy Thanksgiving: What Are You Thankful For?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! First and foremost, I want to say that Georgia and I completed the 10k Turkey Trot with zero walk breaks – I’ll elaborate more on this topic tomorrow!

Things I’m thankful for:

  • My health
  • My loving family
  • My fantastic boyfriend & friends
  • Georgia – for waking up early and running with me ;)
  • Living in this wonderful country
  • YOU! My fabulous readers who keep me motivated.  Hopefully, I am  inspiring some of you to pursue your goals too :)

 

What are you thankful for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weigh Day, Cookies and More Cookies

The moment of truth has arrived. Dun Dun Dun… A total loss of four pounds! I know it’s not a drastic number, but for a three week period I think that’s a pretty reasonable and sustainable one – it’s a loss so I’ll take it! This wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but I also did have some “cheat” moments that I could should have spared.  I noticed that overall I felt less bloated, had more energy and felt full throughout the day! With that said, I want to continue this detox all the way until Christmas – excluding Thanksgiving day, obvi! :)

Moving on to the good stuff – cookies! Well, I’ll admit I got a little out of control with the baking last night. I finished two different batches of cookies; Chocolate Truffle Cookies w/Sea Salt,and Pumpkin Spiced Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Chocolate Truffle Cookies w/Sea Salt

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Baking Chips, for melting into the cookie dough
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Baking Chips, for mixing into the prepared cookie dough (I used semi-sweet to switch it up)
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt, or as needed (I didn’t have coarse sea salt on hand)
Dry Ingredients:
Wet Ingredients:
I had to use all my mental strength to not lick this spoon – you have no idea!

Directions

  1. In a heatproof bowl over a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter until smooth. Turn off the stove and let chocolate sit over warm water. (I just microwaved them for 2 minutes at power50)
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. In another bowl, mix together sugar and eggs, combine thoroughly with a whisk and slowly add the warm chocolate mixture. Stir to combine. Add vanilla extract and mix. Stir in flour mixture. Cool for a few minutes (if batter is warm, chocolate chips will melt). Stir in chocolate chips. Chill for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop rounded tablespoons of batter and place on baking tray. Sprinkle each cookie lightly with a pinch of sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 7-8 minutes (mine needed 20 min and came out perfect) until the outside looks slightly cracked. Be very careful not to over bake cookies because they will continue to bake as they cool once removed from the oven. Cookies should be soft and gooey in the center.
Pre-Bake:
Finished Goods: bomb.com
Up Next…

Pumpkin Spiced Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar (I used closer to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree (I used organic pumpkin)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat until smooth. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture in two parts and pumpkin puree in one, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined (do not overmix).
  3. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto two baking sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and edges are golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets once during baking. Immediately transfer cookies to wire racks, and cool completely.
Pre-Bake:

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients:

1 (8)oz Cream Cheese

1/2  stick of unsalted butter

1 T Vanilla Extract

1-1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon

2-3 C. Powdered Sugar (I used 2)

 

Directions:

1. Mix together the softened cream cheese and softened butter.

2. Mix in cinnamon and vanilla

3. Mix in powdered sugar

Final Goods: I dipped half in the frosting and let them chill in the fridge
I of course love both of them, but my dad says the pumpkin cookies are the winner (and slightly healthier too!) My baking duties are over for this holiday, so tonight I’m going to treat myself to a nice relaxing class of hatha yoga to prep for my 10k tomorrow :)  Wish me luck!!

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies: A-May-Zing

According to my training schedule, I’m off duty up until race day. What’s a girl to do with all this time on her hands? Why bake of course! I must say, this recipe from Whole Foods that I’m about to show you is incredibly easy – with only five ingredients – yes, only five and it tastes amazing!! If you love peanut butter that is :)

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies: (flour-less!)

Ingredients

1 large egg
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1 cup)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup creamy unsweetened peanut butter (Costco’s organic natural peanut butter)
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat together egg, sugar, baking soda and vanilla in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment or with a hand-held mixer. Beat in the peanut butter. Stir in chocolate chips if using.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet, pressing lightly with the back of a fork. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly set. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Nutrition

Per serving (3 cookies): 200 calories (110 from fat), 12g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 6g protein, 19g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 16g sugar), 20mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium

Final Goods:

As you can see, I had a few pieces of dark chocolate chips left so I put them on top and I also broke off a small piece of the cookie because I just had to try them! Final verdict: A-MAY-ZING! Another way to make these is to put a thumb print instead of the fork print before you bake and place a Hershey’s kiss on top!

If you love peanut butter you have to try these! Happy Baking :)

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Thanksgiving – so close, yet so far! I really love Thanksgiving (I’m sure you haven’t noticed by now) and I think it’s because – for me- it marks the start of this wonderful holiday season. It’s the first of the family gatherings and it just sets the tone for the following to come.  This weekend I decided to get a head start on my desserts so I wouldn’t be rushing like a madwoman this week.  I chose to make the “Pumpkin Ice-Cream Pie”  first since it was a very simple recipe.

To make this recipe even simpler, I bought a 10″ pre-made graham cracker crust instead of crushing my own.  I also made the mistake of buying Chocolate Chocolate Chip ice cream as opposed to just Chocolate Chip, but it’s chocolate – can you really go wrong with a little more of it?!  I think not!

Step one: 

I couldn’t take a picture of step two because the ice-cream melts really quickly so I had to move fast, but here is the final product:

The recipe also didn’t call for extra dark chocolate chips on the top, but like I said – how can you go wrong with more chocolate :)  After I finished that I decided to try another recipe I found at eatingbirdfood’s blog, called “Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bars”. I know, I don’t know what got into me on a Friday night, but I was in the baking mood!

Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bars

Makes about 15-20 squares

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour **
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin, canned or fresh that’s been roasted and pureed
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, cut into small chunks (or chocolate chips) – I used Ghiardelli Dark chocolate chips
My messy work station:
The batter:

Ready for baking!

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Spray 13 x 9 pan with non-stick spray.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl mix sugar, apple sauce, yogurt, oil, egg whites, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in pumpkin.
  5. Slowly pour flour mix into the wet ingredients and mix well until everything is combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.
  6. Pour dough evenly into the greased pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean when stuck into the middle of the bars (about 30 minutes).
  7. Cool completely, cut and lift from pan. Enjoy!
Final Product:
mmmmm…

I guess you could say I cheated because I took a very small bite to see how they turned out. I promise, it ended at one small bite! I donated the rest to friends and family and left a few pieces for myself.  They turned out really well and the nutrition facts are pretty great too – 130 calories per bar! I think these would pair really well with a delicious cup of hot coffee. Next time, I’m going to add more chocolate.  Does anyone notice the theme with this post today?!

Last week’s workout recap:

Monday: 55 minute cardio (stairs and elliptical)

Tuesday: 3 miles

Wednesday: 55 minute cardio (stair glider thingy)

Thursday: too lazy

Friday: rest day

Saturday: 45 minute stair climber

Sunday: 5.5 mile run – all by myself! :)

 

The Turkey Trot is only 3 days away – I so got this!! Also, it’s Thanksgiving week so start making a list of what you’re thankful for :)

Thursday Tips: How to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

It’s fairly common for us to gain a few extra pounds – in my case, around five – during the holiday season. This year I’m really hoping to stop that from happening. I know, you always say the same thing over and over – that you won’t gain the weight this winter and then you find yourself making an unrealistic “lose 10 pounds” New Year’s resolution which you can’t even stick to. Let’s prevent that from happening this year, shall we? This way we’ll be able to make a better, more realistic New Year’s resolution since we didn’t gain any unwanted holiday weight!

Some tips to remember during this magnificent food-filled season:

  1. Treat each holiday as a separate day, not an entire month.  I find that if I had just indulged on the day itself (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year ’s Day) instead of stuffing myself with leftovers for the following weeks to come, I more than likely wouldn’t have put on the extra weight.
  2. Just because it’s the season of joy, laughter, parties and fun doesn’t mean you forget about your daily responsibilities (exercise.)  If you want to have your cake and eat it too at your holiday party, there is an absolutely positively non-negotiable exercise policy. Get – over – it.
  3. Pick and choose which foods or desserts you definitely cannot go without and have only those.
  4. Embrace the gift of giving. It will heighten your spirits and make this season that much more enjoyable. :)

I understand it’s much easier said than done – especially when you have work parties and friend parties on top of your family parties, but if you change your mindset going into it, your chances coming out of it (weight in tact) are far greater! It’s very easy to make time for dinners, parties and outings, but learn to make time for yourself too. Your body will thank you!!

Related Article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heidi-grant-halvorson-phd/avoid-holiday-weight-gain_b_1091302.html?ref=health-and-fitness&ir=Health+and+Fitness