About Me

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I am a former career girl and am now a stay-at-home-mom to 2 amazing little girls. Exercise and "dieting" have never been easy for me. But now more than ever, I am determined to adhere to a more active, healthy lifestyle. I am not dieting - just making smarter, more natural food choices. I want to set a great example for my girls. I starting running last year with the Couch-to-5K running program. I've lost over 35 pounds since last year and I want to lose 60 more. I completed my first race (a 5K) in October and I running a 10K by this summer. My long-term goal is ultimately to run a half-marathon in 2012. I've created this blog to put it all out there and most of all - to keep me honest. I include a tested recipe & inspiring workout song on each post. I am also hoping to inspire and be inspired by you! I would love for you to join me for this journey and become an official follower of this blog!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Keep on Keepin' On...

Since you don't run a 5K on a treadmill... I thought it was about time for me to switch it outside this week. WOW - what a big difference that was. 

Differences included: varying inclines, my speed (I think I started out faster than normal), the ground is alot harder (no springs, lol!), there are distractions that take you out of your zone - uneven road, cars, etc. I didn't make it as far as I had been going on the treadmill and I was super sore the next day... it hurt to walk down stairs. 

I was super discouraged and knocked myself down about it. I also had some personal setbacks that day with one of my daughters - some health issues that had been improving took a turn for the worse, and she needs to do consistent physical therapy for awhile - which she doesn't enjoy, is very gut wrenching and time consuming. She will eventually be fine, which I am so blessed and thankful for, but I just have a lot of stressers going on at home with not very much support at the moment. In the past, this is when I would have started feeling sorry for myself about the physical running challenges, challenges at home, overall mental challenges and quit a program.

So, what did I do...? I officially signed up for a 5K in the October that day to keep me pushing forward. I have a new attitude and am going to work it. This is a positive area in my life. The blog is almost like therapy for me and I'm glad people are relating to it and enjoying it :). I've decided to rotate my training between treadmill (with an increased incline) and outside until my body becomes more used to running outside - then I am going to solely run outside. 

PS - I've lost 14 pounds to date! And my goal is still to lose 66 pounds. I'm on my way...

RANDOM TIP OF THE WEEK: When your sick of eating the same old steamed or grilled veggies - try different seasonings. My favorite seasoning on veggies is Paula Deen's "House Seasoning". I especially like it on steamed green beans and grilled asparagus. You can buy this pre-mixed see picture. Or you can easily make it yourself for cheaper. Her official recipe calls for 1 cup salt, 1/4 cup black pepper, and 1/4 cup garlic powder. However the pre-mixed version also has onion and is super good. My husband puts it on noodles - loves it. NOTE - probably not good for someone who is on a sodium restricted diet.
THIS WEEK'S RECIPE: Turkey Salad with Apples and Walnuts (modified from a Clean Eating recipe)
Since my previous recipes have mainly been dinners, I thought it would be good to include a lunch idea. I don't know about you, but I get sick of eating the same things over and over for lunch. This was a refreshing idea that was part of the Clean Eating magazine's 14-day meal plan (more on that next week). And it is a very satisfying lunch with the protein from turkey and greek yogurt, the fat from the walnuts and the sweet crunch from the apples.... enjoy! :). Look how big it was!

Chopped Turkey Salad
- 4oz chopped deli fresh low-sodium turkey breast
- 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 1/2 chopped apple
- 1 chopped celery stalk
- 2 tbsp broken raw walnuts
- 1/3 cup non-fat plain GREEK yogurt
- 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

Question for readers - Do you have a favorite "outside the box" healthy lunch?

UPDATE - 8/27 AM - I ran outside this morning ...did the full 28 minutes of running and it felt great! Just like in life you will have good days (runs) and bad ones... you just need to keep on keepin' on!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sometimes you just gotta eat!

In the past when I followed diets, I followed them strictly... maybe too strictly. Then if I slipped and ate a "forbidden" food or a food that was very high in points, I would blow it for that whole day and tell myself "I will start again tomorrow .... or after the weekend." I would then eat whatever I thought I had been depriving myself of... it wasn't pretty.

Guess what? I had pizza on Monday and not just regular pizza - it was greasy square pizza and it was exactly what I needed at that moment. I didn't eat half the pizza or have dessert or feel that I needed to eat foods that I shouldn't - it satisfied my need and I was done. Did I gain all my weight back... no. Will I loose as much weight this week than if I wouldn't have eaten it - probably not. But what I am realizing (finally) is this isn't a race.

Now that this exercise regiment is a big part of my life (running at least 2 miles a run now - and it's not easy...), I can eat what I want in moderation sometimes and go back to eating healthy again right away. And I don't need try to loose 4 to 5 pounds a week - 1 or 2 is just fine!

As discussed in previous posts - one other thing I am doing in my quest to get healthy - is eating more nutritious, wholesome foods. In every issue of Clean Eating magazine - they have a 14-day clean eating meal plan. I was thinking of trying it (from the july/aug issue) making a few subs. along the way (i don't like cod for example). I think it would be great to be a little stricter for a short burst and open my eyes to different foods. I'll let you know next week how it's going! 

SONG THAT KEPT ME RUNNING THIS WEEK: "B.O.B." by OutKast (this song really helped me push through yesterday's 25 minute run- I played it twice!)
RANDOM TIP OF THE WEEK (new weekly segment): Keep produce visible. I try to keep fruit and vegetables that don't require refrigeration out on the counter (see pic) - and those that do in the front of my fridge. You are more likely to eat them when they are top of mind - and they might even inspire a recipe. I made a good flank steak salad with plums and blue cheese the other night - inspired by a plum!                                                           THIS WEEK'S RECIPE: Healthy Version of Sweet and Sour Chicken (adapted from Clean Eating magazine)
This recipe is super low calorie approx. 170 per serving not including rice. It was easy and filling. I had the leftovers on a whole wheat wrap for lunch the next day and that was good too. 

I love cooking in my cast iron skillet!
1/3 cup Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
 tbsp Raw Honey (find at health food store) 
4 cloves of Garlic
1 tsp fresh Ginger Root, grated
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 1/4 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
1 medium Red Bell Pepper, coarsely chopped
1 medium Green Bell Pepper, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup Yellow Onion, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups FRESH Pineapple, coarsely chopped
12 sprigs Cilantro
1 1/2 cups cooked Brown Rice (optional - it's good with the rice!)

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes. Place chicken in a large shallow dish. Pour soy sauce mixture over chicken, tossing gently. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 min. or up to 8 hours. Heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add chicken and marinade and saute for 5 min. or until chiken is cooked through. Add bell peppers and onion and cook for 5 min or until veggies are slightly tender. Add pineapple and cook for 2 more min. Spinkle with cilantro serve immediately over rice for a complete meal.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One Month... Who's Counting?

Well it's been a little over a month and let me just say this - I FEEL GREAT!

I am not kidding. Even though my numbers haven't been as high in terms of weight loss the past 2 weeks (2 lbs in the last 2 weeks), I've still lost 11 pounds to date and my body feels different. I am losing inches, feel SO much stronger, have a much more consistent daily energy level, and am a happier, more positive person.

However it's not like some days aren't harder than others. Sometimes I look in the mirror, see how far I still have to go and feel like 11 lbs. for me is kind of like throwing a deck chair off the Titanic. BUT when I take a step back..it makes me feel a lot better to know that this time is different - this change is for good, not a part of a fad and I am in complete control.

And.... da ta da ta .... I love running... who knew!?! 2 days ago I completed my biggest challenge in the Couch-to-5K running program to date - the 20 minute consecutive run. People who are in shape who read this blog - may think - 20 minutes of running ... that's no big deal, but imagine doing it with a 20 pound weight strapped to each arm and leg. I was so proud of myself when I finished that run on Monday.

I have the running bug and I am not going to lose it. I do believe it will be a big key to my success. 

It has been a month, but this time I am not counting - because it isn't something that is going to stop!

THIS WEEK'S RECIPE(S): Hearty Vegetable Mexican Appetizer & Bonus Simple Spinach Recipe

I've done a lot of cooking over the past week trying out new recipes and a lot have been winners that I will share with you on future posts.  The recipe featured below is a recipe that I got from a friend and altered a bit just based on personal preference. I took it to a party last weekend and it was a big hit (see pics below)! 

Recipe #1
Hearty Vegetable Mexican Appetizer 
- 3 bunches of scallions chopped
- 20 oz frozen corn, thawed
- 2 cans black beans, rinsed & drained
- 1 red pepper chopped
- 4 tomatoes, chopped (I drain these in a colander for at least an hour before the dip doesn't get too watery). This time I used yellow and red heirloom tomatoes since they were in season and delicious!
- 4 avocados, chopped (if you want to add these in earlier and not to brown, cut them up and toss them in the juice of one lemon)
- 1 italian dressing packet, made without water (just with red wine vinegar and olive oil & to be healthier you could use 1/3 less oil and vinegar)

Add all the ingredients in layers - do not stir initially. Make dressing and pour over everything, stir to combine.  Refrigerate or serve immediately. 

If you have extra veggies in your fridge when you make this I am sure other things would be good in it too - you can make your own version! Also I think cilantro would be really good, but some people just don't like it.

This time I served with Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Organic White Tortilla Chips but for even a healthier option - endive leaves would be good too. 

Recipe #2
Sauteed Wilted Spinach with Nutmeg & Lemon
My previous standard for sauteing spinach was to always heat up a little minced garlic in olive oil and finish with lemon - this often had a pretty bitter taste. I don't know what it is about this nutmeg but it tastes really good with the spinach! Loved it!
Approx. 16-20 ounces fresh spinach
- 3/4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg* (or 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg)
- Lemon wedges from one lemon (squeeze a few over spinach and reserve some for garnish)

*I really do believe that fresh ground nutmeg is SO much better than pre-ground nutmeg. You can buy whole nutmeg in the spice section. I just use my Microplane grater to grate (see pic). 

Trim, rinse, and drain/dry spinach. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high, then add as much spinach as will fit. Season spinach with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook, tossing until Spinach is just wilted 3-4 min. (you don't want it to get soggy and still to be fairly bright green.) Squeeze 2 wedges over spinach - garnish with additional. 

The girls enjoying the hearty mexican veggie app!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Losing Weight & Not Hungry (Really) - Part 2

This is a follow up to last week's post about going into detail about the additional ways I'm changing the way I eat:
 1.Eating more natural, healthier foods (see detail in previous post)
 2.Eating reasonable portions  (see detail in previous post)
 3.Eating well balanced meals
 4.Eating a variety of foods        
 5.Only eating when I am hungry

Eating Well Balanced Meals-
I know this is a pretty obvious no-brainer, and I'm not necessarily doing this part to loose weight - mainly just to be healthy. The part that I had to work on the most for this was incorporating the vegetables. Of course sometimes vegetables don't taste as good as maybe the starch or protein on your plate - but they should be the majority of what you eat in a meal. I know this can't always happen, but I try to make approximately 50% of what I eat at a meal - vegetables.
Tips- Prepping veggies in advance really helps for this. For lunch when I am having a sandwich I LOAD it with different veggies. For dinner - now when I make spaghetti sauce I use just as many chopped up veggies as meat (lots of carrots, red pepper, eggplant, onion in addition to the tomatoes...) it makes a lot more sauce and you can freeze some! I also try to choose dinner options which automatically incorporate alot of veggies vs. always having them "on the side."

Eating a Variety of Foods-
Okay - this one is KEY to my long term success for this lifestyle. On previous "diets" I would eat the same things again and again. Turkey sandwiches, grilled chicken salads, just grilled chicken, boca burgers, microwave popcorn and lean cuisines... They were things that I thought I knew were "healthy" and I knew the calorie content of. I would get so sick of eating the same things over and over that I would stray to not so healthy options often I think just for variety.  
Tips- Variety definitely takes more time and planning, but researching and trying new foods/recipes that you might not have tried before (but you know are healthy) are really important. Recipes websites are a great resource because you can browse for something that sounds new/interesting and best of all you can make sure it will taste ok before you make it (by the user ratings).  I probably never would have made this week's featured recipe, but I did so because I thought it would be a nice change - and it was GREAT! Variety truly is the spice of life! 

Only Eating When I am Hungry-
This is a toughy, but I think it's been the most helpful change that I've made so far. It's one that I am still working on and it's evolving. I've used food in so many different ways in the past. Eating when I was bored, sad, happy, lonely and most recently stressed. After the birth of my second child, who had some health issues but will be fine long term, I experienced the most stress I have ever been through before on a consistent basis and it wore me down. I was alone alot during this time, and would often turn to food for comfort and liked the feeling of being full. I knew this was something that I had to drastically change.
Tips- I recently heard about a 10 point hunger scale to help judge your true food hunger and it's really helped me. Anytime you think you want to eat ask yourself how hungry you think you are number wise (1 being literally starving, 5 comfortable, and 10 overstuffed). I try not to eat unless I feel that I am at around a 3. This means you aren't always going to eat on the exact predetermined schedule of breakfast, lunch and dinner - and that's ok!

Well, that's the end of the 2 part detail of how I'm changing what and the way I eat so far. I am sure it will continue to evolve as I continue to strive to get healthy. On a side note - I finish "week 4" of the running program tomorrow. By the middle of next week I should be running 20 minutes straight - YIKES!!!

Question for followers/blog viewers: What do you like for a healthy snack?

PS- Inspired Chunky Mama now has a facebook page. See box on the right to become a fan of the page. You will receive an update in your facebook newsfeed when I add a new blog entry!

THIS WEEK'S RECIPE: Easy Chicken Posole (hearty mexican soup) modified from an original Cooking Light recipe

You might be thinking - say what?!- hot soup in the middle of this hot summer. But I had to share this because... I LOVE this soup (my husband even said 'it's a keeper'). It seemed summery still because it is tangy from the lime juice. It is also hearty and filling and only approx. 300 calories per serving. Enjoy :) 

Easy Chicken Posole
1 tablespoon olive oil                  
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatillos (in mexican section - could also use whole and chop them)
2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can white hominy, rinsed and drained
2 cups chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (I used a whole lime because I like the citrus flavor)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 ripe peeled avocado, diced
4 radishes, thinly sliced
Cilantro leaves (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oregano and next 4 ingredients (through onion and celery mix); sauté 2 minutes. Stir in tomatillos; cook 1 minute. Add broth and hominy; cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and cook 8 minutes. Stir in chicken; cook 1 minute or until heated. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper. Divide evenly among 4 bowls. Top with avocado and radish. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.