Friday, June 20, 2014

Post-Challenge Workin' on my Fitness 5k Update and some Sloppy Joes... Slop... Sloppy Joes

Howdy there partners.

Jesus I need to find better ways of starting blog entries. That's just embarrassing.

So judging by the immense amounts of underboob sweat, I guess it's summer.  Which means I am one more day closer to strutting my 32-year-old ass on a beach. Or by a lake.  Or walking "I just got off a horse", cowboy-style down the street so my thighs don't continuously rub together and chafe while I'm wearing a dress.

Classy, right?

Speaking of dresses, I've managed to lose about 18 pounds so far.  So to celebrate (or just because I don't think I can wander out of my house in jeggings or terry-cloth shorts all summer), I bought a maxi-dress from Old Navy.

This is my first Maxi-Dress I've owned and is also a size smaller than what I typically wear.

Can we just talk about the magic that is a Maxi Dress for one hot minute?

They might be my favorite thing ever.  They're like fashionable tents for your body.

Not only can I hide all of the bits that I need to have hidden, I can look cute and stylish at the same time.  I can be cool because I'm wearing a damn dress and wonder of all wonders... when I sit down, if I want to spread out my legs to let air circulate, I can and not show everyone my vagazzle.

Oh what a time to be alive.

Anyway, post-Adovcare Challenge, I haven't really done anything different than I did during the challenge except on the weekends I allow myself a diet coke and I am taking a GNC Women's Vitapak.  I don't know if I feel different on it.

Honestly, I think I might hate the pills even more than I hated the Advocare ones, but they're a bit less expensive so I can still pay my car payment and rent this month.  Seriously though. I need to find a way to be able to take the pills and not gag.  The other morning I was unable to take them with the iced black coffee I made, so I brought the pills with me to work in a little Ziploc baggie.

That wasn't completely bizarre of me to be huddled over a bag of multicolored pills in the middle of my office. No. I didn't look like an addict at all.

Can we have a little chat about how fucking confusing weight loss and fitness is?  Thankfully I have some pretty knowledgeable people around me, and I understand the basic "calories in, calories out" principle, but when it comes down to BMR vs. TDEE, net calories, and  Macros, I'm almost as confused as a $2 hooker with a $50 bill.

After calculating my BMR and my TDEE, I was astounded at how many calories I could eat if I wanted to maintain my current weight.  It's ridiculous. I won't spell it out for you, but unless I want to be chomping on blocks of cheese or shoving buckets of lard in my face, there is no way in pink taffeta hell I should be eating that much.

I'm still drinking a damn zebra's body-weight in water, and still eating a low fat, high protein/high veggie and fruit diet.   I work out 4-5 times a week and I'm finding that pants that were tight prior to the 24-day Challenge and then just fit mid-way through the challenge are now baggy.

So I'm doing something right.

I keep forgetting to take progress photos though.  I need to do that. Someone remind me.  Text me until I get off my ass and remember to progress pic myself to high hell.

I've also had a few friends ask me about my opinions on the 24-Day Challenge.  That is really exciting for me.  I'm happy that I have friends who are interested in the challenge, interested in making a lifestyle change, and who are interested in trying something new.

And honestly, if I can be of any help at all, I'm happier than a midget at a mini-skirt convention.

I'm heading to my parents' lake house next Friday, so I'm looking forward to being able to see my family and to relax in the Northwoods.  It's a time away to fish, binge-drink, relax, be surrounded by my fellow Cheeseheads, swim, and get a real tan instead of this fake-bake-tanning-bed shit I've been doing for the last month.

But for now it's focusing on my fitness so that when I head up to the lake I don't get confused with a beached sea lion.

So yesterday was my first ever 5k.  This might not sound like much to most people, but coming from a girl who couldn't run two consecutive blocks without having a seizure, it's quite the accomplishment.

I wanted something that would motivate me.  A few years ago when I first moved to Chicago, I got the idea that I was going to participate in the Big Shoulders Lake Michigan Swim.  It's an open water, 5k swim and I ultimately still have it as a big goal of mine to finish.  The only problem is that I don't have a pool to train in, and training in Lake Michigan in January is not going to work.

Unless I want to try swimming on ice, probably I'm going to need to find a pool.

In the meantime, I've decided to try my hand at running.  And since I haven't ever run a straight mile let alone 3.1, getting up the motivation to run a distance that doesn't involve a bar or cake at the end has been um... interesting.

I'm not a huge fan of crowds so I wanted to go at my own pace for this first race, I decided to sign up for a Virtual Race.   Enter the company, "Will Run for Bling and Charity".  I signed up for the "Father's Day Beer Run 5k" (I was sold at the name) which also benefits the Arthritis Association and figured I'd probably run/walk it on a treadmill and then I'd have a time to beat for my next race.

So yesterday I got all pumped up to run my ass off.  I picked out my running clothes carefully, laced up my sneakers, added a couple of songs to my playlist, and decided to set out and see what kind of magic I could get into on a treadmill.

For the first mile I was gold.  Granted I jogged about as much as I briskly walked, but I was set and at a good pace. The music was motivating me and I didn't feel like I would fall off of the treadmill at any moment.  I was a God damned rockstar.

Then I hit mile 1.25 and everything changed.   I started thinking about how much I had left to go, that if I kept the pace I was going there was no way I would finish my 5k under 45 minutes, and everything started annoying me. My boobs weren't secure in my sports bra, my shoes were a little too tight, the underwear I was wearing was creeping up my ass, the music suddenly sucked, I couldn't get into stride, my knees hurt, everything on the TV at the gym was stupid, and I was pretty sure I didn't lock my purse in my locker.

God dammit.  I hit mile 1.75 and was sure a group of gym-goers were huddled over my purse trying to divide up my $3.48 in change.  That's it. They were taking my damn GNC Gold card and getting ready to get all sorts of discounts on supplements.

I pushed through.  Briskly walking and running, alternating and challenging myself to just run two-tenths of a mile more. Just 40 more seconds. Just until the end of the current song I was on.

Somehow, by the time I reached 2.75 I realized "well Fuckbeans, Betty.  You've got less than a half a mile to go."

And miracle of miracles...I finished.  I began my cool down right at 3.1 and as I slowed to a walk, congratulated myself on that while I didn't have the best time, and I wasn't about to share that time with anyone since I was more embarrassed than a high schooler with a boner giving a presentation, I was pleased with my little accomplishment.

And now I have a time to beat for when I decide to torture myself again.

Anyway. Recipe time.  Because what's a blog entry without a dozen gifs and something I whipped up in my kitchen and then photographed with my Samsung Galaxy?

Something about me I'm sure you already figured out? I love food.  I'm a Midwestern girl and I loves me some meat and taters.  I like comfort food, casseroles, things cooked with a pound or seven of butter, marinated meat, food that's cooked in beer, anything that can be deep fried, and I'll eat really anything that can be thrown on a grill or put on a bun.

But since white bread is the equivalent of Satan crawling out of my ass and destroying the universe, I'm not going for anything fried that I can put on a sandwich right now.


Sweet Potato Sloppy Joes.
Chances are you have most of the ingredients on hand, if not all of them.  And when you actually eat the finished product, you may have a "no way this is healthy" moment.

Actually.  It is.  I probably wouldn't shove this in my face morning, noon, and night, but for those moments you need something hearty, and a bit of a comfort, this is perfect and won't leave you feeling guilty.

Cue Adam Sandler's Lunch lady Land...

Ingredients (makes 4 big servings)
1 lb. Lean ground beef (96/4), Bison or ground turkey
4 sweet potatoes
1 T. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, small dice
1/2 green bell pepper, small dice
1/2 red bell pepper, small dice (you can really use whatever you have on hand.  All I had was a green bell pepper, so I chopped up a whole one of those instead of a half of a red pepper)
1/3 c. celery, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 T. chili powder
2 T. honey
14 oz. can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
6 oz. can tomato paste
Salt and pepper (to taste)

1. Bake your sweet potatoes in a 375° oven for approximately 1 hour.  Check them after 45 minutes. If they're "leaking" or soft to the touch, your 'taters are done.

2. Saute your onions, celery and garlic in the olive oil in a large saute pan.  Season with a little salt and pepper and let cook until the onions are soft.

3. Brown your meat, breaking up the meat into smaller pieces.   Since I used the 96/4 ground beef, I didn't want it to dry out so I cooked it until the meat was mostly brown with a little bit of pink left in.

4. Add your pepper, spices, honey, tomato paste and crushed tomatoes.  Stir until incorporated and season with salt and pepper.

 5. Cover your pan and allow to simmer on low for about 15 minutes.

6. Slice your sweet potatoes open and pour your Sloppy Joe meat on top.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Bonus?  With everything above, this dinner came out to 332 calories and only 6 grams of fat. I snagged 28 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber from the meal.  Just be careful if you're watching your carb intake.  Sweet potatoes are great complex carbs; however, they're still potatoes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Advocare Challenge Recap: Results, Review, and a Recipe! Pecan Crusted Chicken.

Well it's over.

My first 24-Day Challenge is in the books.

I have to say that having a strict program and having everything laid out for me to follow was a huge help.  I'm the kind of person that needs that structure. I need someone telling me what supplements to take and when.  I'm a child. I need structure. I crave it.  Maybe it's the OCD in me, but if I don't have someone telling me what I need to do, and I don't have routine, I dive deeper into a tailspin than Lindsay Lohan in 2011.

However, thanks to my sincere love of cooking as well as culinary background, I'm good when it comes to what types of food to eat and understanding basic nutrition.  I'm all good with portion size and how to properly prepare food to get the most nutrition out of it without sacrificing flavor.

I'm good with willpower as long as I have healthy options.  My problem comes with all of the other stuff.  I crave structure.  I'm the kind of person that would do well with a supportive drill sergeant as a trainer.  Someone to push me and tell me to get my pansy ass back on the tredmill.

As long as I have a program to follow, supplements to take, and I know what in balls name I'm doing, I'm good.

I'm fucking solid.

I'm a God damed rockstar.

Because I like to work out. I like the soreness I feel when I leave the gym.  Melting into my car seats with a content little smile on my face as I chug water and bask in my AC.

I really like getting into the shower after a workout and taking a moment to just feel my muscles.

That I'm all good with.

It's the structure I need help with.

Which is why the challenge really worked for me.  I'm not going to boast that the program will work for everyone. I'm sure it probably won't.   Or at least if you don't really want to make a change and you don't really want to change your eating habits, you might find yourself wasting your money and time.

But if you're willing to commit to 24-days of eating clean and being more active, I'm pretty sure you'll be happier than a pig in mud on an August day.

So my honest thoughts about the challenge...
I like the structure, I don't like the price.

It's $190 (plus shipping) for the 24-days.  Plus if you want to get any of the recommended "extras".  I purchased the Catalyst and needed to purchase extra Spark and Meal Replacement Shakes (MRS) during the 24-days.

I typically had a Spark before breakfast and would have a MRS on the days I went to work (and I covered my thoughts on Vanilla MRS in a previous blog we'll skip that).  I would also have a Spark before I worked out or in the afternoons when I needed something besides water.

Speaking of water, prepare to drink a lot of it.  And honestly, you really should be drinking at least a gallon a day anyway.  The first week I had to adjust to running to the bathroom every hour to pee.  After a while I think my body caught on.

I justified the cost since I wasn't eating out or purchasing any booze.  Seriously - I have been one cheap date this last month.  On the other hand, the additional veggies, fruit, and lean meats were a bit costly compared to boxes of spaghetti and cheap ass 80/20 ground beef.

You will also have a shit ton more energy than you're used to.  At least if you're like me and you were drinking at least 3 cups of coffee a day, eating whatever the hell you really wanted to, and you were drinking wine in the evening while you made dinner, you'll find that you have a ridiculous amount of energy.


Holy titty sprinkles will you sleep better.  I would habitually toss and turn prior to the challenge.  Other than the first few days where I woke up in the middle of the night to run to the bathroom (see my note about water above), I slept through the night without tossing and turning and woke up refreshed.

Speaking of waking up and energy and water and whatnot, I dropped all caffeine intake besides my 8 oz. of Spark in the morning and maybe something in the afternoon.  Other than that, it was all water.

My diet changed a bit.  I cut out fried food, processed foods, most carbs, and extra sugars.  For the 24 days, I ate lean meats, tons of fresh fruit and veggies.  That's it.  And it really wasn't a hardship.   I got creative when I had a craving for something sweet (frozen blueberries are my new favorite thing) and when I wanted a burger, I'd forgo the bun and roast up some sweet potato fries to have with it.

The challenge did take some planning ahead with food for the week and lunches.  I meal planned every Sunday, went to the grocery store for the week (except days we had fish - that was a "day of" purchase), and made sure whatever I was cooking for dinner, I had enough for the next day's lunch.   There were a few times during the challenge the stuff I made for dinner I was really excited to eat the next day, and a few other times I would have rather drove to a fast food joint and scarfed down a Big Mac.

I still love Big Macs... but you do know you can pretty much make them at home, right?

I went pretty hard-core with the eating plan. I didn't even drink until this past weekend when the challenge was over. I do wish I could have done more with the gym, but being sick and being unable to breathe without coughing up my right lung didn't really bode well for hopping on a tredmill or a taking some time with weights.

So results?

In the end, I lost 14 pounds and a total of 9 inches.

TL:DR/Final Thoughts:
If I were to sum the 24-Day challenge up for anyone who is looking for a program, I would say if you can afford it... try it.  Give it 24 Days and give it your all.  If you don't feel more energy and you don't notice physical results after the 24 Days, go back to doing what you did before.

But I have to almost guarantee that if you commit to the 24-Days (seriously...think about what that is in your actual lifespan. It isn't even a full month!), you will notice results and you will notice changes that you'll be proud of.

Post-Challenge Plans
As I said before,  I need a program or I'll fall so hard off the wagon my ass will land in a plate of fried butter.  And since I can't quite afford another phase of Advocare right now (they have additional phases once you're done with your challenge), I'm continuing with a  GNC program while getting my Spark from Advocare and will be going back to Advocare for additional challenges and cleanses.  

I'm still going to go to the gym.  And I'm going to continue to live my life.  I need to have structure, but I also can't feel guilty if I decide to have a couple of cocktails when I'm out with friends, or if I fall face-first into popcorn while out at the movies.   My meal-plan won't work for everyone. Just like others' won't work for me.  It truly is about finding a balance in your life that you can be happy with.

For example, this past weekend while our out-of-town friends were visiting, we ordered delivery deep dish, Chicago-style pizza.  I had a bite (literally one bite.  That alone should qualify me for a medal) but also ordered a grilled chicken salad.

BAM.  Moderation in yo face.

Ok.  So because this is long and rambling enough, I'm just going to end with one of my absolute favorite recipes.

Pecan Crusted Chicken
Oh how do I love thee recipe, let me count the ways.

First off, this recipe is healthy and is a way for me to get the satisfaction of a crunchy piece of chicken without feeling like I won't be able to fit into my jeans later.

Second, it's so easy it's stupid.

Third you have most of the ingredients on hand.

Fourth, holy balls it's delicious.

Ingredients (makes 3 servings)
3 chicken breasts
1/2 c. spicy mustard (or if you realize you're I did...use 1/2 c. regular mustard and throw in 1 T. horseradish)
2 T. raw, organic honey
1 c. pecans (finely chopped)
Zest of 1 medium orange
Spray olive oil

1. Cut your chicken into tender-like strips, preheat your oven to 350°, and spray an oven-safe casserole dish with the olive oil spray.

2. In one bowl, combine the mustard and honey.   Add your pecans and orange zest to another bowl.

3. Dip your tenders first in the mustard/honey combo, being sure to coat all sides.  Transfer to the pecan/orange zest mixture and coat on all sides.

4. Once coated, add your tenders to the sprayed baking dish.  Place in preheated oven and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until the juices from the chicken run clear and the internal temperature is 165°.

Bam!  That's it for this episode.  As I discover new food, I'll post recipes and update.  Plus, there are bound to be pitfalls and days I just give in and dive into a big ole batch of cookie dough.  I'm using all of you to hold me accountable.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Advocare Challenge Update: Put my Patriotic Salsa, Grilled Pork, and Chocolate Balls in your Mouth

Still rocking out on the challenge and I'm still hating taking a bunch of the pills.  I know it's all herbal stuff, but there are these green pills I take with lunch and no matter how fast I try to swallow them or how much water I swallow them with, there is still this really awkward after taste.


I snagged a new flavor of Meal Replacement Shakes since I'm almost out of the chocolate. Trying to mix things up, I decided to grab the vanilla thinking "what could be so bad about vanilla?"

I will tell you what is so bad about vanilla.

While the flavor is great (it's like drinking cake batter), the consistency is a little off-putting.  I'm not going to go into detail about what it reminds me of, but it's not thin and not thick and...yeah.


I will say that I still have a ton of energy, I don't have any weird cravings, I'm not willing to mug a toddler for a cinnamon roll and I'm not as hungry as pre-challenge. It's great - I used to absolutely devour plates of food previously, but I find myself filling up a lot faster.

I've also been back to living at the gym.  I go after work and can easily find myself losing track of time.  I love it.  When I walk out of the gym, every single little bit of stress I carried into the gym is just left there.  There is something about pushing myself  to the point of exhaustion that makes me almost giddy.

In fact, as I was pounding away on the treadmill yesterday before starting my lifting routine, I found myself thinking about how I got to the point where I am.  I've always been an athletic and active person.  Granted in high school I was the chubby cheerleader, but I have always been incredibly driven and I've loved being active.  I push myself and motivate myself to do more, but yet I slipped into this weird sedentary lifestyle.  That's not me.  I don't know who that person is, but that's not me.

When I am going and doing and drenched with sweat, panting to push myself just 30 more seconds, or just 10 more reps, I'm happy.  I'm accomplished, and there is this little voice inside me that is cheering and screaming her lungs out.  It's like she's been locked away, tucked in a corner for so long that she is finding her voice and celebrating her ass off.

It's a fucking great feeling.

Anyway...yesterday I asked some of my Facebook friends what their favorite songs are to work out or run to.  I got some awesome answers, tweaked my Workout playlist a bit, and added some songs.  Since I was at work I didn't have a chance to listen to a lot of the artists that were suggested (I hope to actually start doing that later this week or this weekend), some of the suggestion did remind me of bands and artists I had forgotten about.

I wanted to share with you my own Workout Playlist.  If you like the songs and use Spotify, please feel free to follow the playlist.  Chances are it'll change since I get bored with music and my tastes are ever changing (seriously - pop to hard rock, offensive rap to EDM, punk to "what the fuck is that?", I'll listen to just about anything), but this is a bit of what I listen to to push me.

I will say that nothing makes me run faster or lift harder than "Enter Sandman".  I blast that through my earphones and I'm in the zone.

I was craving chocolate and needed something a little sweet this past weekend so I decided to make some flourless chocolate cookie balls.  They're fantastic. Seriously. Absolutely fantastic.  I love them so hard.

And since I love you so hard, here's the recipe.

Flourless Oatmeal Chocolate Balls (makes 28 or so...depending on how much dough you eat while making these bad boys)

3 medium bananas, overripe
2 c. plain oats (I used Quaker old fashioned oats, but whatever you have on hand is fine)
1/3 c. all natural, no sugar added applesauce
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/4 c. all natural creamy peanut or almond butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Cinnamon (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 350°.

2. Mash bananas in a large bowl until relatively smooth.

3. Add oats, applesauce, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and vanilla, mixing well.  Allow to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

4. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonful onto a nonstick cookie sheet (I used a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat) and bake for 10-12 minutes.

5. Allow to cool and place in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for about 1 week... if they even last that long.
For dinner Monday night, I made the spice rubbed fish that I had a couple of weeks ago.  The seasoning on the fish was ridiculous.  This time instead of topping it with the orange-avocado salsa, I tried a blueberry and strawberry jicama salsa that was out of this world. If you'd like the recipe for the fish, click above or here.  The new salsa follows!

Strawberry and Blueberry Jicama Salsa
Oohhh so patriotic!  This salsa is all red, white, and blue up in your face and goes great on seafood, chicken, burgers, chips, or just on a spoon while you shovel it in your mouth.

1 c. fresh blueberries
1 c. diced strawberries
1 c. diced jicama
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 c. finely chopped red onion
2 T. minced jalapeno (stemmed and seeded and more or less depending on how much spice you like)
Juice of 1 lime

1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.

2. Refrigerate until you're ready to eat yo food.

And one more (bonus!) recipe I stumbled upon and tweaked a bit.

Cilantro, Garlic, and Lemon Rubbed Grilled Pork Chops
Sometimes I think pork gets a bad rep.  Sure you've got fattier delicious bits o' pork like bacon or boston butt, but for the most part, pork can be good for you!  If you select the right cut, it is loaded with protein and pretty low in fat.

And while the pork chops I selected weren't the leanest cuts (it's what the grocery store had), I really like to grill and I managed to trim the fat off of my cut.  Bonus?  Try this rub on chicken or a tenderloin roast and dazzle your own pants off.

Fun party fact to wow your friends:  There are actually 5 different pork chop cuts. Pick the one that best suits your cooking needs.

3-4 pork chops, 3/4" thick
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. cilantro leaves, finely chopped
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. extra virgin olive oil (you can also use grapeseed oil)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1. Chop the garlic and cilantro and add to a bowl.  Whisk in lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper until you have a thin, wet rub.  Taste and add more of any particular ingredient to get the rub the way you like it.

2. Rub both sides of your chops with the mixture.  Give them a lot of love here. Massage them like you're on a third date.

3. Place your rubbed and relaxed chops in the fridge for about 15 to 30 minutes while you prep your grill.

4. Clean the grate on your grill.  Seriously. There is nothing worse than a dirty grate with last week's leftover barbecue sauce on it.  You just made massage-love to your porkchops. Give them some respect.

5. Get your grill nice and hot.  Oil the grate and grill your chops over direct heat, turning once to medium-rare doneness.  Typically this takes about 5 to 6 minutes per side.   Allow to rest for 3-5 minutes.

Only a few more days left of the challenge.  This weekend Chris has a friend from Germany coming into town. We'll be hosting him and a few other people for a cookout before heading out Saturday night.  I'm already planning recipes and making out shopping lists.  I'm getting excited about the stuff we're going to be cooking.

What a nerd.