6 Months

I’m notorious for going for long stretches without posting anything. 6 months isn’t my longest break.. but it is pretty long. So I’m going to jump into my first post in 2016 (Yes I know it’s May) by doing a little recap of my life since November.

Zeus

My puppy (or not so puppy) turned 9 in February. He is officially an “old man” dog, but I’ll always call him my puppy. Unfortunately, he has developed a health issue which has been ongoing for more than a year really, but it’s starting to get worse a lot faster these days. Mike and I have self-diagnosed him as having DM (degenerative myelopathy.) It’s a degenerative spinal cord disease similar in that to ALS in humans. He hasn’t been to the vet for it, so the diagnosis is unofficial. DM is not a disease that can really be tested for, rather it’s diagnosed after other problems are ruled out. It’s also something that can’t be treated, and there is no cure. I really didn’t feel like spending hundreds (thousands?) of dollars at the vet trying to rule out anything else.. and plenty of online sources I’ve read show dogs- including pugs- with DM, and they all look the way Zeus does. He is still himself really… he is not in any pain, still wants to play, still follows us around and greets us eagerly when we come home… but his hind legs have really been hindered. He stumbles when he walks, falls down a lot, and drags his back feet. At least, he did when it started to become apparent he had a problem beyond what I thought was just arthritis and aging.

The fact is.. we have noticed that his degeneration is moving rather quickly, at least in his hind quarters. Around Christmas time, we started to notice him stumbling more, dragging his feet, and walking stiffly. After the New Year, he was falling a lot more and seemed to have a harder time walking out in the grass. Last month we noticed he would fall and get stuck, especially on the tile in our kitchen. He just couldn’t get his legs up under him to push himself up. He was also having a really hard time not falling on uneven and slippery surfaces, like the grass outside and the tile. We decided at this point to look into getting him a wheelchair.

I did some research and found a great cart for Zeus on HandicappedPets.com. They sell doggie wheelchairs that are fully adjustable and customizable- and while they still were a little expensive- it was less expensive than having someone make a custom chair. We settled on a used/refurbished model and saved about $100. It came within a week and was pretty easy to put together. The hardest part was making all the right adjustments to make sure Zeus fit properly and comfortably in the chair.

Once we got him in and outside.. it was amazing the difference! He moved so fast! He no longer stumbled, and what was taking 15+ minutes to walk to the corner and back now took about 7. At first he walked in spurts- it does take a dog a little while to get used to the cart- and his front legs needed to adjust/build strength enough to support the work of walking by themselves. But honestly, he took to it very well. The cart is very light weight, and manuvers very easy. After some practice, he’s walking pretty good in it and sometimes walks ahead of me a little.

I do have to say, he looks a little ridiculous in the cart. BUT, he gets so much attention when we’re out. A lot people feel sorry for him and ask if he’s ok or what happened to his legs. Other people laugh, because it is quite funny looking. Overall though, I know it’s improving his quality of life and letting him stay with us a little bit longer.

Helping Mike change his oil... this is how he sits now.

Helping Mike change his oil… this is how he sits now.

As for me, Zeus is my baby. Seeing him struggle to walk breaks my heart, but being able to give him the wheelchair makes me feel so much better, even as he continues to decline. As of now (actually, we’ve noticed even more degeneration even over the past two weeks) he struggles to walk on the carpet, cannot walk on the tile anymore at all, and gets stuck a lot. He falls flat on his bum with his legs sticking out from under him, and can’t get back up. I’ve been trying to get him in the chair more inside so he can be mobile, but he can’t rest (sit or lay) while in the chair. My strategy right now is to take him for walks in the cart and then let him be in it while we are fixing meals/eating- that way he can come over and walk about the kitchen as he usually does- and then take him out when he goes in his pen, or hangs out with us on the sofa. I know it’s only a matter of time before the disease spreads and starts to affect his front and other body functions, but my goal as his mommy is just to make him as comfortable as possible and let him have a good quality of life as long as he wants it… ok now I’m getting teary-eyed… *snif*

Zeus in his wheels

Zeus in his wheels

 

Still sooo snuggly!

Still sooo snuggly!

Fitness

I think in my last post I mentioned doing the Supreme 90 day workouts. Well, I would like to report that I completed 60 days of the program, but then got distracted. Mike and I planned to stay home in MD for Christmas this past December, but planned a trip to NY to visit with his family for New Years. I had pretty good success completing workouts in my father-in-law’s garage when we visited in October, and I wanted to do something similar in January. I did a little searching for programs and I really got pulled in by Beachbody’s Insanity Max 30 workout program. First- I loved the idea that the workouts were only 30 minutes long. Second- I loved that it was intense, which would make me feel like I got a great work out in the short amount of time. Third- I loved that the program involved no equipment. Which means I didn’t have to worry about bringing anything with me (other than my yoga mat… but even this wasn’t “needed”) when we traveled.

So I bought the program and did my workout s the whole week we were there. I continued the program when I got home and finished all 60 days. IM30 is really tough and at times made me feel like I’ve never worked out a day in my life. I ended up needing to modify a bunch of moves due to my bum knee, but the program had a modifier person in every workout, and I quickly learned which moves I needed to avoid/change to reduce my knee pain. All in all, I got through it pretty good and was proud of myself for seeing the program through.

That said, I did not have very good results from the program, at least from a body composition perspective. I don’t fault the program at all, as I did see a great improvement in my Max-out times and thus improvement in my fitness. I just have a hard time with my nutrition. I love to eat. I’m addicted to sugar… and my body does not do a very good job of metabolizing it. I’m convinced that my nutrition is the #1 thing holding me back from progress.

In an effort to help boost my metabolism, I wanted to incorporate more weight lifting. I backed off a bit after S90D in order to make sure focus on finishing IM30.I decided to go with another Beachbody product, Body Beast. It’s a 90 day gradual weight lifting program. It’s really marketed for men. but plenty of women have done it too. I’d managed to complete the first 3 weeks.. and then life got in the way. The plan at this point is to re-start.. so hoping I can keep up with it.

Weight Loss

Lately, I feel like I’ve lost my mojo and haven’t been going to the gym. I still get my morning workouts done, and have been eating 21DF style, most of the time.. but I’m getting minimal results. I know it’s totally on me and I need to suck it up and pull myself together- but it’s so easy to get into the mind set of “well it’s not going to work, so why try so hard.” Sigh.. I need to get over myself and just do what I need to do. I need to start doing my weight training again, consistently. I also need to be more careful with my nutrition. See, I know the answers… Ok.. whine over.

 

Mental Health

For just about a whole year I’ve been seeking treatment for generalized anxiety and panic disorders. I’d been having pretty bad anxiety attacks since 2012, some of which would last for hours. By the time it would finally fade (usually when I went to sleep and woke up the next morning) I would be so worried about having them again, it would trigger anxiety and the cycle would continue. I also had a lot on intrusive thoughts I could not control… usually involving my untimely death by one means or another. It was exhausting, uncomfortable, scary, and cyclic. Finally, Mike and my doctor got me to seek treatment. I started seeing a psychiatrist who prescribed me medication. It helped a great deal- I was no longer having the intrusive thoughts, and my panic attacks had stopped,  but I was still having breakthrough symptoms of random dizziness and shortness of breath, which didn’t alarm me so much, bu was really annoying to feel that way.

My job requires employees to participate in a special reliability program in order to work with some of the compounds we have. It’s a safety issue, but mostly a security issue- they need to make sure they have the most stable and trustworthy people working with some of their most secure and toxic compounds. As a participant in this program, we are required to self report medical records, changes in health or life status, prescription medications.. etc. I reported my anxiety issues and my medication and was required to seek a formal behavioral health evaluation. Long story short- it was recommended that I be suspended from the program- and thus working with certain classes of compounds- until I underwent 90 days of therapy treatment to address my symptoms. It was a little annoying to have to comply.. but I knew it would be good for me.

So I’ve been seeing a therapist and been working using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to de-sensitize myself from my anxiety triggers. The methods are quite simple actually, but do require a lot of practice. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve actually been able to taper off my medication and am ready to move onto the maintenance phase of CBT.. which will help keep my anxiety in check, as well as be able to bring it down if I do have a spike. I even have an appointment for a re-evaluation to be re-instated in the reliability program at work.. so happy about that.

Anyways, I wanted to share this because anxiety is a very common mental disorder. Sometimes your brain just gets stuck and chemical imbalances can occur to make you more susceptible to it. Medication really helps, but it’s a band-aid. Plus, a lot of people have a hard time going on or coming off the medications. (Coming off has been, and still slightly is a struggle for me.) But CBT has done wonders for me.. and I wanted to let anyone who is reading this and dealing with these issues know that it CAN be treated! I know how it feels to feel absolutely crippled from anxiety and it’s symptoms. People who have never experienced it do not (and really can not) know how it can affect you physically and emotionally. At my worst- I even felt a little detached and depressed- “why can everyone else live perfectly normal lives while I feel like I’m dying.” But there IS relief, you just have to know where to go. I would start with your general practitioner- see if they have a list of recommended counseling centers you can seek out. You want someone experienced in dealing with generalized anxiety disorders and can help you through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It may seem like new-age hooey when you first look into it (how can just breathing and imagery possible stop my very real and tangible physical symptoms!?!?)  but trust me.. you will start to feel normal again with enough practice! Feel free to message me if you have any questions.. I’ll be glad to help!

Vacations

In April my mom, her boyfriend, Mike and I went down to Orlando to visit my sister’s family. My niece’s birthday was on the 10th, my nephew’s the 18th, and my sister’s on the 20th. We rented a house nearby through AirBnB and it actually worked out really well for us. (Despite some drama in the beginning regarding the air conditioning, which was legit,  and my mom’s over-the-top expectations, which were completely unfounded.) The house had a pool, so the kids could come over and swim, and we enjoyed cooking out on the grill and taking advantage of the mild weather. Over the weekend, my sister held a combo birthday party for the kids at her community pool- which turned out great. Later that week Mike and I joined her, my brother-in-law, and a family friend for a wine tasting and tour at a local vineyard. Overall, it was a great relaxing and low key trip.. which is exactly what we wanted!

My sister's table of goodies.. she made everything..so talented

My sister’s table of goodies.. she made everything.. so talented

 

Happy 7 year old!

Happy 7 year old!

 

Happy 4 year old!

Happy 4 year old!

 

A couple weeks ago, Mike and I booked our fall trip to Europe! We finally pulled the trigger after talking about it for almost a year. It’s been on our “things we want to do before we have kids” list and I’m so excited to finally be able to go!

We designed our independent itinerary through Europeandestinations.com. I was a little nervous about using an online booking company like this, but so far everything seems to be going smoothly. We are able to pay in installments, the last being in August, so we’ll be all set for departure in late September. We are visiting 7 cities in 4 countries over the course of our 17 day trip. Italy was the country he really wanted to visit.. being that he’s half Italian.. and a Catholic.. so we will be visiting several cities there- including Rome and the Vatican, Florence, Pisa and the Cinque Terre. We’re also visiting Dublin to get a taste or Ireland (his other genetic heritage), London, and of course Paris. The booking company also lets us book activities and tours, so we are doing a select few tours through them, and the rest will be done/seen via our city passes ( Dublin, London and Paris.)

This will be my second time abroad, my first being when I was 19 with a group of students from my former high school. On that trip, we toured Paris, Provence, the French riviera, and Venice. For this trip, Paris will be the only city I’ve been to (Paris is my most favorite city ever!) and I’m so excited to explore and share the experience with my husband! I’ve already made a list of things we may need for the trip, watched tons of travel videos on YouTube, and even bought our city passes and guidebooks. Can’t wait!

Behold, the countdown!

Behold, the countdown!

Whew.. that covers a lot… I hope I can blog a little more here and there and not wait another 6 months to update. Anywho.. keep on keeping on people!

Oh yeah.. my birthday was on Mother's day.. we had Mexican.. the margaritas were fantastic ;)

Oh yeah.. my birthday was on Mother’s day.. we had Mexican.. the margaritas were fantastic 😉

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

Meet Doug the Pug.. from the Doug the Pug Facebook page. How cute!

Meet Doug the Pug.. from DougthePug.com How cute!

It’s Wednesday and hope everyone is gearing up for a super great Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow! I finally solidified my plans for dinner, and will be going over my Aunt’s to have dinner with her family and my dad.. and of course my husband is coming too!

Pre-dinner activities will include a Turkey Trot 5K with my husband and my friends, followed by a breakfast over at my mom’s afterwards. I’m glad I get to spend a little bit of time with everyone… but I’ll definitely be eating more than my fair share. Meh… that’s kind of the point with this holiday though, so not going to beat myself up over it. It’s one day.

I have been keeping that in the back of my mind however, and have planned this week accordingly. First lets take it back a bit.

A couple weeks ago, Mike and I drove up to his hometown of Farmingdale NY to visit with friends and family. We stayed Wednesday (Veterans day) to the following Monday. We hadn’t been up there since last Christmas, save a quick weekend trip to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday. Plus, we were planning on spending this Christmas at home in MD, since we’ve never done that in the 7 years we’ve been together.  It was a great little vacation, filled with some relaxation, and a little rushing around to see everyone. But it was also filled with food, and while I tried to prepare myself as much as I could (brought hard boiled eggs, salad fixings, greek yogurt, Kashi, some fruit and healthy snacks) I still couldn’t avoid the bad stuff the whole time. Most of the time the food was healthy, but I way overate my portions and couldn’t always follow the 21DF plan. I DID work out just about every day I was there, doing some pretty killer bodyweight HIIT workouts involving lots of plyo. But exercise can only take you so far when you’re not eating your best.

Anyways.. I decided that instead of replacing the S90D workouts I would have done, that I would just “re-do” that whole week when I got home. So I did. As of yesterday, I finished day 30 of the program. Quite happy to officially be 1/3 in! I haven’t measured any progress yet, because for the past 3 days, in anticipation of Thanksgiving and all the eating that goes with it… I’ve been following the 3 Day quick fix part of the 21DF plan.

So what is the 3 day quick fix? Basically, it’s a 3 day meal plan designed to be done at the end of a round of the 21DF to give you a little extra boost in your efforts, and help break through some plateaus. I’m doing it in preparation for Thanksgiving, but it can be done whenever you want a little edge up. The plan is pretty easy and tells you exactly what to eat- 6 small meals over the course of the day.

Breakfast is egg whites, coconut oil, and oatmeal. I cooked 4 egg whites in the coconut oil, and then made some plain oatmeal, adding a little Truvia and cinnamon. I do have to admit, I had my cup of coffee w/ fat free half and half.. not giving up the coffee. Sorry.

21DF 3 day Quick Fix breakfast

21DF 3 day Quick Fix breakfast

The next four meals rotate between chicken and fish with steamed vegetables. Some of which have coconut oil. The way I did it was I got some Perfect Portions chicken breasts and some individually portioned fish fillets (salmon and tilapia) and cooked a bunch of it to put in lunches. The chicken I cooked in the coconut oil, but the fish, I did not. One chicken meal was to be accompanied by yams, so I cut up and steamed some sweet potatoes. I also got some steamed broccoli to eat with the other chicken dish, and some Green Giant frozen vegetable mix to eat with the fish meals. The sixth meal was ground turkey, coconut oil, and steamed vegetables. I simply cooked the ground turkey in the coconut oil, then used the same pan to saute some spinach and tomatoes. This meal I ate after my workouts.

Four out of 5 of my remaining meals

Four out of 5 of my remaining meals

I’ve been pretty good sticking to this 3 day plan… my mantra has been..”It’s only 3 days… It’s only 3 days.” I miss yogurt and avocado and fruit and grains, and the occasional sugar. This plan is not sustainable for me beyond the near term.. thus.. only three days.

I do feel that I’m less bloated (not that I was a ton bloated to begin with) so I guess that’s a positive.. but I don’t like eating this often.. it feels strange to me to eat a regular meal every 2-3 hours.. especially when I come home from the gym. I’m usually craving something sweet and eat my Quest bar.. not ground turkey. I will say that although I’ve been kind of dreading my meals.. they’ve also been pretty good, so I don’t feel unsatisfied at the end… just.. doesn’t fit my cravings in the beginning. Guess that’s not a bad thing… but just kind of boring.

Anyways, today is my last day doing this.. so tomorrow I’ll take some measurements and see how I’ve done for this month. Looking forward to getting the next month going!

 

Fitness Friday!

Happy Friday everyone!

I wanted to write a post about my fitness efforts as of late.

In September, I decided to try getting back to running a little bit using my Bioskin Q Brace and taping my knee with KT tape. It definitely helped, but there were still some aggravation in the knee. I started using C25K to try and ease back into it. After taking so long off.. my ankles and legs HATED me. My legs felt so heavy and fatigued very easy. But the more I followed the plan, the better it started to feel. I soon found though that downhill really hurts and knocks my knee out of alignment. But uphills feel wonderful. I feel strong again and have zero pain. (Except.. that hills are killer cardiovascular wise.. and I feel like I’m running in sand, but zero pain.. yay!) I made it through week 7 of the 8 week program, getting to about 3 miles without stopping. But, my knee was starting to hurt more and more, so I backed off and didn’t complete the last week. This was about 2 weeks ago. I think I’m going to give it another week and see what I can do from there. My husband wants me to run the YMCA Turkey Trot with him on Thanksgiving.. I think that should be fine, and if I have to walk, I’ll walk.

In the meantime, I had my revelation that I wanted to take the 21DF more seriously, as I started putting on more weight. I realized that my workouts lacked structure. I was doing weight training, but I would skip days here and there, and I was having a hard time being consistent. I was keeping up with my HIIT training, following a Bodyrock 30 day challenge, but felt like it wasn’t enough cardio. (Although, I have to say, my knee was not bothering me so much when I did these workouts.. which was a huge plus for me.) I was skipping out on weekend workouts, giving into my laziness. I realized that it wasn’t really my will not to work up to my potential, but rather, I needed a program, a schedule.

In 2011 I was supposed to be in my cousin’s wedding. I bought a bridesmaid dress based on what I tried on in the store, but when it came in, it didn’t fit. It was the right size and everything.. and I hadn’t really gained weight in the few weeks it took for it to come in.. but it absolutely didn’t fit. I realized I needed to MAKE it fit. Around the same time, I found Sparkpeople. This website REALLY took my interest- it was a huge health resource and weight loss community. I’ve never seen people who were nicer and more supportive to people on the internet. I found a group doing a program called Supreme 90 Day. It was a P90X type workout program, without the P90X price. People were liking the workouts much more (because they were shorter than P90X) and were finding great results from it. I decided that I wanted to do it, and purchased it at Bed Bath and Beyond for about $20.

I followed the program to a T.. except for the eating part, because it seemed too far fetched at the time.. the concept of “clean eating” was new to me, and I felt like I ate pretty healthy and tracked my calories, so I was good. My results… fairly good!

S90D progression, Summer 2011

S90D progression, Summer 2011 (Sorry a little grainy.. but you get the jist)

 

Me fitting in the bridesmaid dress

Me fitting in the bridesmaid dress

I think I lost 7 lbs total over the course of 90 days. But again, I hadn’t really been following any kind of meal plan other than tracking my calories. So, I decided to use this program to keep me in a fitness regimen, and adding the benefit of lifting with heavier weights than I have at home by doing the strength training workouts at the gym. So I watched the first few videos, wrote down the exercises, put them into spreadsheets that I print and take with me to do my workouts at the gym. I do the cardio based workouts at home because they do not require heavy weights.. and my husband has even been joining in!

The schedule looks like this:

S90D schedule

S90D schedule

I’m on Day 20 as of today. I’ll do it later after work. Next week will be a little tough- we are traveling to NY to visit friends and family, and I won’t be taking my weights with me. I’m planning on bringing some body weight workouts I can do while I’m there to keep my strength and metabolism up, and then pick up where I left off when I get back (probably around D24).

In addition to S90D, I’ve been trying to work in my morning HIIT workouts from Bodyrock to give my metabolism a quick boost. Unfortunately, life gets in the way, and sometimes sleep is more important than doubling up my workouts. But, all this effort seems to be working, as I’m down about 8 lbs from when I started round 4 of the 21DF and the S90D program. I won’t go into too much result detail, as I plan to write a post after I complete the first 30 days, but I’m feeling pretty good lately.. and think I’ve finally found my way to my goals.. as long as I stick to it!

Meal Plan Week 3

Happy Thursday 🙂

And so, it is week 3- Day 18 of the 21DF. I made some pretty awesome meals this week. Like last week, they’re a little higher in calories for my calorie range, but I am hitting all my containers. I’ve had a few cheats this week… one very big cheat on Halloween (guess that was technically last week) and I’m sure you can guess what that was. Oh well… only once a year after all.

Week 3

Week 3

Breakfast

Sunday morning we made a huge batch of pumpkin protein pancakes. I didn’t really use a recipe for this, I just threw ingredients together. I combined 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 eggs, 1 cup pumpkin puree, and 1 scoop Quest Vanilla Milkshake protein powder, 1 tsp of baking soda, and some cinnamon, then thinned the batter with a little almond milk and water to get the right consistency. The batch made 24 pancakes. At first, I was thinking this was 4 servings- that would have given me 1/2 cup flour (1 yellow), 1/4 cup pumpkin (1/4 green), and 1/2 protein between the eggs and protein powder (1/2 red). But, I realized that the flour is counted as 2 yellows really, so I halved the servings to make 8. This gives me 1 yellow, 1/8 green (don’t even count it really), and 1/4 red. I supplemented my protein with 4 oz of plain Greek yogurt (mixed with Truvia to sweeten it) and top with 1/2 banana to give me a fruit (1 purple.) So, 3 pancakes, 1/2 cup yogurt, and 1/2 a banana became my breakfast. When I went o the Renaissance Festival last weekend, I had bought some almond honey. Sometimes I would drizzle some over, but I find with the Truvia in the yogurt I really don’t need it.

Breakfast!

Breakfast! 1 red, 1 purple, 1 yellow (plus coffee and creamer, and sometimes honey)

Lunch

For lunch, I found an interesting recipe by Fit Mom Angela D called Bacon Cheeseburger Skillet. My husband was interested in the name, so I showed him the recipe. He decided he wanted in on the deal… So I bought a bunch of extra ingredients to make a huge yield for the both of us to take for lunch. This recipe involves lean ground beef, turkey bacon, diced tomatoes, onion, mustard and some spices. I ate it with half a pita pocket (he had a whole) and a serving of shredded cheddar. It was DELICIOUS! My husband praises it every day as being very good, and very filling. For me, this meal turns out to be 1.25 red, 1/2 green, 1 yellow and 1 blue.

Bacon Cheeseburger Skillet!

Bacon Cheeseburger Skillet!

Dinner

For dinner, I turned to another Fit Mom Angela D recipe: 21 Day Fix Chicken Marsala. I’m not a huge fan of chicken marsala, but man… this was GOOD. I added grape tomatoes in mine, and it really made the flavor pop.

cooking Chicken Marsala!

Cooking Chicken Marsala!

We used roughly 3 lbs of thin cut chicken breast (tossed in whole wheat flour), a whole lot of mushrooms, some shallots, some garlic, some chicken broth, a little olive oil (it calls for coconut oil, but I didn’t want it to taste like coconut) and grape tomatoes. I made some asparagus on the side to go with it. (Great pairing!) We ran out of mushrooms/tomatoes and asparagus yesterday, but I have some green beans in the freezer to go with the last two pieces of chicken for tonight. (Always useful to have bulk frozen veggies in the freezer.)

 

1 red, 1 green, 1 tsp

1 red, 1 green, 1 tsp

Snacks

I’ve kept with my oldies but goodies- apples/cinnamon/peanut butter (1 purple, 1 tsp), carrots/pumpkin seeds (1 green, 1 orange), and a Quest bar (1 red). I’ve been a little short on the greens this week, while being a little over on the reds. I also had a big candy binge on Halloween, but have been controlling myself since. I tried to have only 1-2 pieces a day since then, because we still have extra.. but I was noticing that it was increasing my lenience towards other sugary foods, which is not a road I want to stumble down, especially with the holidays. So I’m doing all I can to keep away from sugar. I only had 1 piece of honey hard candy yesterday, so I feel pretty good about that. Feeling even stronger today, so keeping up with the good fight!

My awesome pug pumpkin I carved for Halloween!

My awesome pug pumpkin I carved for Halloween!

So, as I’m on day 18 today, I’ve sort of made plans on how I’m going to continue forward. Well, I’ve adopted in my old workout program, Supreme 90 Day (I got it in 2011), and I’ve been following along with it pretty good. I’ll post more about this soon, but in a nutshell, this is a 90 day program on 10 DVDs. There is a schedule you follow and you do the corresponding DVD you need for each day. I’ve been using this plan to keep my workouts in check and use it as a guide for strength training at the gym. I copied down the exercises in the DVDs and have been doing them in the gym so that I can use heavier weights to build strength. There are also a few Tabata/HIIT style workouts included that I do at home (and my husband has even joined me for!) I’m on Day 18 of that program as well, and plan on following for the full 90 days. SO.. as far as 21DF goes, I’m going to keep going on the plan as I follow S90D. Next week (week 4) I’m going to be on vacation, but I’m going to plan some workouts I can do and try to get them in every day. I’ll bring my containers with me, but don’t expect to use them for every meal, as we’ll be visiting friends and family and it may not be practical. So next week is a semi break and my real week 4 will pick up when I get back. I will check my measurements and take progress pics after “week 4” and continue on to the next month of the program. Least that’s the plan!

Meal Plan Week 2

I know I’m well into week 2, but I’m trying to catch up a bit. Week 2 was made up on the fly, as I was super busy last week and didn’t have a lot of time before hand to organize it. But I did manage to come up with some pretty good meals, so I’d say it was a success. Unfortunately, my meals were a little over calorie-wise for my range, and I’m a little over with my vegetable and fruit containers, but I’m not going crazy and deviating from my plan.

Last Friday, I went to an annual bonfire my friend throws. It’s always a good time with lots of food and drink. I did drink one Redd’s apple cider, but I went a little overboard with the food (Can we say nut mix with candy in it…:-/) Oh well. I did pull it together Saturday, but Sunday we went with some friends to the renaissance festival (a big fall thing here in MD) where I drank two beers and had a giant apple dumpling.. and bought/ate some honey & honey candy. Again, whoops. I’ve been really good at bouncing back though. I usually have trouble with sneaking sugar after I break the no sugar seal. While I’ve had cravings and temptation.. I’ve been really good with distracting myself. I DID put some of my fresh honey on my yogurt for breakfast this week… but only a drizzle, maybe a teaspoon total.

Sword fighting at the Renaissance Festival.. yes I DID dress up!

Sword fighting at the Renaissance Festival.. yes I DID dress up!

Anyways, I managed to make up my schedule this morning (even though we’re on Thursday already.) I made some adjustments to it to reflect some changes that happened, but I’ve pretty much fallen in line as I planned everything.

Round 4 Week 2 mealplan

Round 4 Week 2 meal plan

Breakfast

For breakfast, I had some plain Greek yogurt (red), half a banana (purple), and a Kashi Go Lean cereal (yellow) I had to play around with this a little over the past few days to get the taste I was looking for. Greek yogurt is really good for you… unfortunately the flavored kind has way more sugar, which I’m trying to avoid. So I got some plain, but the plain doesn’t taste as good. I tried to sweeten it by drizzling a little honey on top, but that only sweetened the top. Then I tried to mix in the honey, but I would have had to add a ton of it to get the sweetness, which defeats the purpose. Then I tried mixing in some Truvia. One packet wasn’t really enough.. but two packets.. and a small drizzle of honey.. perfect! The Truvia is a natural sweeter too.. not artificial, and doesn’t have the calories. Even though it’s not really part of clean eating, or the 21 day fix plan… it works for me.

Breakfast Week 2 (1 red, 1 purple, 1 yellow)

Breakfast Week 2 (1 red, 1 purple, 1 yellow)

Lunch

For lunch, I made a version of Southwestern Spaghetti Squash posted by Skinny MS. Hers called for some cheese on top, but I omitted that because I had a fat serving planned in my dinner. So basically, all this was was spaghetti squash, salsa, ground turkey, black beans, and green onions. Somehow… with minimal seasoning… it’s really pretty good! Unfortunately, I learned that salsa is considered a fruit on 21 Day Fix, so this put me over my fruit count by an extra half container. But I’m not super worried about it.

SOuthwestern Spaghetti Squash (1 red, 1 green, 1/2 purple, 1 yellow)

Southwestern Spaghetti Squash (1 red, 1 green, 1/2 purple, 1 yellow)

Yesterday, my coworkers and I went to Wegman’s for lunch to celebrate our October Birthdays. I ended up eating my lunch for dinner, and making myself a nice salad for lunch. I decided to bring my containers, and while I felt a little nervous about using them in a grocery store, it turned out not to be a big deal. My salad ended up having spinach, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, mushrooms, roasted peppers, roast chicken, an egg, and some shredded organic cheddar and Romano cheese. I brought some pumpkin seeds from home, as well as some salad dressing.. but I forgot the dressing in the fridge at work, so I just bought a packet of balsamic and used it sparingly. It was yummy, and smaller than one I would have made sans containers… so I think I’ll bring them next time I go as well (much to my husband’s disbelief and taunting. >:/)

Wegman's salad lunch! (3 green, 1 blue, 1 orange, 1 red)

Wegman’s salad lunch! (3 green, 1 blue, 1 orange, 1 red)

Dinner

For dinner over the weekend and earlier this week, I made some Thai Coconut Curry Butternut Squash soup from Host the Toast. Unfortunately, I  forgot to take pictures, but it looks like butternut squash soup (lol) The taste…. amazing. It was probably the best butternut squash soup I’ve ever made. And it was pretty easy to make, so I definitely recommend. As far as containers go, the soup was 1 green, and 1 blue (coconut milk). Because there was no protein in the soup, I bought a rotisserie chicken from BJs, carved off the chicken, and tossed it on top of salad (salad mix, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, olives, salad dressing). The salad container count was 1 red, two green, 1 orange. Getting a lot of greens this week.

The soup/salad ran out on Tuesday (because we ate it Saturday and Sunday night too) so I had to improvise for the rest of the week. Yesterday, I had the Wegman’s salad for lunch, so I simply ate my planned lunch for dinner. Tonight I think I’ll make a nice big omelet with some left over veggies and some pepper jack cheese.

Snacks

My snacks this week were pretty much the same as last week. I did my apple, cinnamon, peanut butter thing, and had some carrots and celery for snack #2. Since the orange container was taken up in my meals, I couldn’t accompany my carrots/celery with pumpkin seeds.. so I tried to whip up some buffalo sauce using Franks Red Hot and a little Greek yogurt. iIt proved too hot though, so I didn’t end up eating much of it. I’ll have to work on that. My 3rd snack, of course, were my Quest bars. Love them!

I’ve already started planning for next week. The weekends aren’t always clear to me as far as meals, since we haven’t discussed weekend plans yet, so that’s why I leave them blank. I do make sure to track my containers on the app though, so I know where I’m at and what I can have 🙂 I have lost a few pounds over the past couple weeks, which is encouraging, but I’m still above my starting point I was originally at a few months ago. Heading in the right direction though, and I hope it keeps going!

Changes…

As you can see, I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from my blog. It’s not that I haven’t had things to write about… I guess I was just a little disappointed in myself and far as my progress following my modified 21 Day Fix plan. Not only did I not have results.. I think I’ve had the opposite result. I stepped on the scale last week, and it read over 154 lbs. Yeah, that’s a gain. Um… what!? Yeah. I looked at my progress pictures and they didn’t look different really. Which, still isn’t good, as it was not the desired out come. I had been through 3 rounds of the 21 Day Fix based eating plan… and nothing. Why bother?

Well… then I started to acknowledge to myself that which I had been neglecting to acknowledge on Myfitnesspal.. I’ve been sneaking. Nutella binges. Nutella and peanut butter binges. Ice cream (reduced fat, but still). I also had been indulging at parties more- some cake at game night? Sure! Dessert on our anniversary, of course! Drinks on a Friday.. why not? I have come to realize that I wasn’t being very careful after all. And it’s starting to catch up with me.

I’ve resolved that this weight gain is unacceptable. The sugar binges need to stop. I’ve decided this go round (Which started officially yesterday,) I’m going to give it an earnest effort. Now before you think to yourself… it’s easy to say that on day two… yes, it is. BUT, last week was my maintenance week- Since the Fix is designed to run 3 weeks, it is suggested that the fourth be a maintenance week, eating in the maintenance calorie bracket, to help prevent a plateau. So technically, I started getting serious last week. I have had no refined sugar. I have been sticking to my food portions and allotments. I did indulge last Saturday, as we went Downtown with family to join a local beer tasting festival. Yeah, I had more than I wanted to, but I left it at that one indulgence and recovered the next day. I haven’t been skipping workouts, and in fact, I’m trying a new approach to focus my workouts better- which I will explain soon. I also broke down and bought the 21 Day Fix containers. I know.. I have the container sizes worked out on my own and really have no need for actual containers.. but honestly, I went with that for 3 months.. and I’m still stuck in my rut. I’m hoping that having the containers will keep me inspired and motivated to keep going… a visual reminder of what I’m doing, as you will. It’s a complete gimmick, and I know that, but I have to try something different to keep myself on track, no matter how over-simplified or unwise it may seem. (My husband really gave me flack for buying those containers!)

Anyways, I’m hoping to be more present, and share more of what’s going on as I go along. I still plan on sharing my meal plans, and I’m hoping to throw in my workout plans as well.

On a whole other note- I’ve changed my page format! I felt like it needed a fresh look. I know it’s not really purple.. but I thought it was cute and breezy. I’ve also added a new Nutritional Resources page. I would like to list articles and videos relating health and nutrition that I find interesting and noteworthy. Right now I only have one I came across- a lecture on sugar and metabolism given by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology. It’s a lot of science (sorry, I’m a scientist) but I think even the layperson can get the overall gist of some of the mechanisms he presents. It’s a little long, but the presenter has some comedic relief here and there, which keeps things interesting. Check it out if you have time!

So anyways, I’ll leave it at that. Hoping to have more updates for you soon!

Even Zeus needs his exercise!

Even Zeus needs his exercise!

What I’m Eating Wednesday: Weeks 1 and 2 of My Modified Eating Plan

In my previous post, I announced that I was going to try out a modified version of the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan. I didn’t post last week, but I wanted to share a little bit of what my meals have been like, how the meal planning is going, and How I feel about it so far.

So.. as posted previously.. this was my meal plan for week 1.

Week 1

Week 1 Meal Plan

I filled in my projected plan for the weekend, but I knew it might not pan out because my mother-in-law was coming for a visit and I wasn’t sure how that would go food wise. In the end, it didn’t pan out too well, but more on that a little later.

For breakfast I had both a spinach/egg omelet (using one whole egg and two egg whites- not the two eggs the plan says to use for a serving of protein.) as well as some oatmeal that I spiced up with some cinnamon and a teaspoon of nut butter. I did put half and half in my coffee.. which isn’t allowed in the original 21 day fix plan… but I’m not drinking black coffee.. so screw that. One of my sources I used to look up the 21 day Fix food guidelines cited that a portion of carbohydrates was 2/3 cup. Later I read another site saying it was 1/2 cup. For my oatmeal, I kept the 2/3 cup portion- using 1/3 cup for the oats, and 1/3 cup for the almond milk. Overall breakfast was pretty tasty.

Spinach/egg omelet and cinnamon/PB oatmeal

Spinach/egg omelet and cinnamon/PB oatmeal

For my lunch for the week, I made a chicken salad using shredded chicken, plain Greek yogurt, cucumbers from our garden, diced apples, and pumpkin seeds. I threw this on top of some salad greens and cut up some fresh tomatoes from our garden. It was pretty good.. but a little bland. I used half my protein portion for the chicken and half for the yogurt. This also included my seed portion and a fruit portion. I got the meal idea from Sublime Reflection.

Week 1 lunch- chicken salad

Week 1 lunch- chicken salad

 

My snacks at work were a serving of fruit (cantaloupe or strawberries) and some cut up cucumber slices from our garden.

For dinner, I made a Quinoa taco bake recipe I got from Pinterest, and unfortunately, the link is no longer working (:() But OMG it was sooooo good. I have the recipe on MyFitnessPal HERE, and basically, you cook the ground turkey with the spices, add the zucchini (I shredded it before hand) and tomatoes/tomato sauce, followed by 1 serving of cheese and the quinoa servings. Place it in a glass casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. Then  bake at 350 for about 15 minutes (til the cheese is melted.) Soooo good. And 1 serving was 1/4 of the whole tray! This gave me a serving of protein, a serving of carbohydrates, 1 vegetable serving, and 1 fat serving.

Quinoa Taco bake... I made two so we could eat it during the week

Quinoa Taco bake… I made two so we could eat it during the week

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YUM!

We ran out of the casserole by Wednesday. On Thursday I used some left-over shredded chicken and mixed it in with a serving of guacamole and served it on a black bean burger with salsa. Usually I use eggs as my protein for this quick meal, but since I had eggs that morning for breakfast, I didn’t want to repeat.

On Friday, we spent the day shopping for the week and cleaning our house for our visitor. She was getting in late, so I made a crock-pot meal of apple chicken and sweet potatoes (got the recipe from Megan Blinka) Didn’t get a picture of it, but it looked pretty much like the picture she has in her recipe post. The chicken was a little bland… but the apples in it were divine. I might just have to cook more apples by slow-cooker!

My mother-in-law had a little chicken and sweet potatoes, but wasn’t totally hungry for a meal (which was fine.. we were not sure what she was planning to do for food). My husband started getting hungry again, so we broke out some cheese and crackers and bagel chips we had bought for her to munch on. I had some… ok I had a lot. along with two glasses of wine. So.. not such a good start to the weekend taking in alcohol, extra fat servings, and processed carbs :-/

On Saturday, we spent a lazy morning having breakfast (I had the same thing I’m having this week, so more on that later), drinking coffee, and later breaking out the cheese/crackers again, along with some pita chips and hummus. I partook on the munchies for a while, before switching to one of my left over chicken salads to get some real food in me. After lunch, we decided to go up to the waterfront town of Havre De Grace to walk the Promenade (a deck walkway on/along the Susquehanna river edge) and then to a driving range to hit some balls. When we got to HdG, we noticed there were a LOT of people around! Much more than usual. At the end of the Promenade, there was some sort of festival going on, and we soon found out it was the HdG Annual Seafood Festival. Figures that we don’t go up there that often, and there would be a huge event going on the day we did. We did not sample any of the food, but we did wander around the art vendors also set up there. Then we decided to walk a few blocks down the road to the local homemade candy and ice cream shops. Bomboy’s is a pretty popular stop in HdG, so.. when in Rome. We picked up a few treats at the candy shop, then headed across the street to the homemade ice cream parlor. I figured.. what the heck, I’ll get a little. I ordered their smallest “single” size in a cup.. and man.. it was not small at all! It was big.. and very yummy, and I ate it all. Mind you this was premium ice cream with peanut butter candy chunks in it. Ooops. On top of this, I also shared some truffles we bought at the candy store with my husband. Yeah, Saturday was full of bad decisions.

I felt pretty bad about the ice cream and candy. We Also went out to dinner later and I ordered a salad with quinoa, crab and blueberries- the lightest thing I could find. I also hadn’t had enough vegetables that day. But, I was decided not to dwell on the “cheats” and was determined to eat better on Sunday. (And I did!) I was scheduled to eat my egg/spinach/oatmeal Sunday morning, but I had made a yogurt parfait instead. It consisted on 6 oz vanilla Greek yogurt, 1 cup sliced strawberries, 12 chopped almonds, and 1/2 cup Kashi Go Lean cereal. This equates to 1 protein, 1 fruit, 1 fat and 1 carb serving.. and it’s good!

My breakfast yogurt parfait

My breakfast yogurt parfait

Since I had the strawberries in the yogurt, and I was scheduled to have leftover apple chicken sweet potatoes for dinner, I didn’t eat my scheduled chicken salad which had a serving of fruit in it. I made a new chicken and egg salad (using 1 serving left-over shredded chicken, 1 hard boiled egg and plain Greek yogurt, and a little mustard), served it over salad greens with pumpkin seeds, tomatoes and cucumber. It was pretty good, and I got a double dose of protein (which I needed to reach my goal for the day)

I added a little balsamic vinegar to spruce it up a bit

I added a little balsamic vinegar to spruce it up a bit

Sunday, I managed to stick to my goals. Note that during the week, I also eat Quest bars for after-workout fuel. I also might sneak a little ice cream or chocolate here and there. The extra sugar is not in the plan, but it’s there. I’m getting better at not indulging, but my sweet tooth and habits are hard to overcome. Always striving for progress!

This week is Week 2, and I made a new meal plan.

Week 2 Meal Plan

Week 2 Meal Plan

For breakfast, I’ve been eating my parfait, and it’s been wonderful.

For lunch I cooked up some ground turkey and added some Francesco Rinaldi No-Salt-Added Pasta sauce to make a meat sauce. I then served 4 oz of that (3 oz for the turkey, 1 to account for the pasta sauce) over some spaghetti squash, green beans and spinach. I sprinkled a little parm cheese on top, but didn’t really count that as it wasn’t a lot.

Week 2 lunch!

Week 2 lunch!

For snacks, I’ve been pairing some fruit with some pumpkin seeds in the morning, and some cucumber and balsamic dressing in the afternoon. Today, I added a small home-grown tomato.. can’t wait to eat it later!

my snack waiting for me this afternoon!

my snack waiting for me this afternoon!

For dinner, I made a simple stir fry. Monday I ate the last of the Apple chicken and sweet potatoes, but for the rest of the week I have stir fry. It’s basically chicken breast, zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach, and green beans, and brown rice, stir fried in coconut oil, with a dash of garlic and onion powders, red pepper flakes, soy sauce and agave nectar. SOOOO much yummier than I thought it would be. I was inspired by the recipe found on Kendra Fletcher Fitness.

chicken stir fry!

chicken stir fry!

So that’s pretty much this week up to Saturday. This weekend we are going out of town, but I’m going to at least have my yogurt parfait for breakfast, and plan on taking some healthy veggies to munch on.. so we’ll see.

As far as this food plan goes.. I’m rather enjoying it. Despite some indiscretions and cheats here and there, I like that I’m able to plan my meals efficiently and am eating fairly clean. As for results, well I can’t really say yet. At times I feel like I’m losing, and other times I feel like nothing’s happening. I haven’t weighed myself because the program discourages that until the last day.. so I’m going with that. I also haven’t measured myself for that reason. But I feel good (for the most part!) about my food choices, and the portions are really bigger than you would think. That stir fry is a huge plate! And I had to use big containers for my chicken salads to fit it all in there. Calorie wise I’m right around where I need to eat. I’ll probably bump up to the next calorie bracket in the program for week 4 before starting my next round.. as they tell you to use that last week to eat your maintenance calories. I have been going a little over my target, but I get back under after workouts, and generally I break even. Looking forward to planning my next week!