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Halfway Point No Alcohol Challenge

Avery Barrel Aged Beers

Earlier this month I announced that I was going alcohol free for February. I’ve had two cheats days (hate that term but it applies), one was at a media event where I had some wine because I’m not passing up free wine!  And the second was for Scott’s birthday, we went out to celebrate and I had a couple of beers.  Not a big deal and not something I’m beating myself up over.

Other than that, no alcohol.

I’m extending the challenge to include the first week of March because of a new fitness challenge that I’m doing.

Surprisingly I’ve learned a lot and it’s only been a few weeks.

I miss wine more than I miss beer.  This was a STOP THE PRESSES moment for me.  I love beer and have expanded my palate and educated myself on it more over the past two and a half years.  Yet at the moment I really would like to have a glass of red wine and not beer.  When the challenge is over I’m probably going to opt for wine and pass over beer.

I’ve realized that it isn’t the alcohol content (ABV) of beer that was causing me digestive issues, it was the beer itself. Wheat and all it’s gluteny goodness wasn’t playing nice with my digestive tract. I have to limit my beer intake and when I do have it, I cannot combine that with other wheaty things (no pasta, no breads, etc) or else the results are not good.

So far the challenge hasn’t been terrible though I do have moments where I stomp my feet and just want a glass of wine.  I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t looking forward to the end and counting down the days till I can partake.

Scott is doing this with me and that has been a huge benefit.  I’m not sure I would have lasted if he was sitting there having a drink of his own.  That would be too tempting!

Two more weeks and then this lady gets a drink!

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21DFX Week 1 Thoughts

Chicken, green beans, sweet potato mashWeek 1 of the 21 Day Fix Extreme is in the books and we are kicking off Week 2!  The first week was a little rough as I got used to the containers and meal planned our week.  The containers and the amounts we can have a day are so specific that making things like soups and chili is challenging because those meals are hard to measure.  So I’ve put them aside for now.  We did have Pho last week but that was simple since it had one protein and one veggie.

These last two weeks I’m going to focus more on protein, veggies, and fruit.

The biggest challenge with doing the Extreme version is limiting some items.  For example I am only allowed 1 healthy fat a day and the container for that is tiny.  It equals 1/4 of an avocado, chopped.

No one eats only a 1/4 of an avocado at a time!

That has been my biggest gripe and poor Scott has heard me bitching about it the entire time.  Since healthy fats are so limiting, most times I don’t even bother because it’s just not worth it.  I only have 2 more weeks of the program left, not a big deal.

I’ve seen some a few others on Instagram who are also doing this program (not with my group, on their own) and they are sneaking in little cheats here and there.  Of course there are ways to get around things and naturally people are going to find the loopholes.  But I’m sticking with the program!  No treats and no alcohol for three weeks.  I might be a little crabby about it but I’m doing it!  It’s just not worth it to me to create cheats because I don’t want to sacrifice, say a protein, just to have some fake chocolate.

I enjoy the exercises a great deal.  They are not super intense and there isn’t too much jumping around but they are challenging.  Using light weights and resistance bands are what I like the most.  It’s challenging and you have to push yourself but it’s not so hard that it makes you want to give up or leaves you feeling frustrated.

Now it’s time to kick off Week 2 and dominate it!

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Day 3: 21DFX Easy Like Pho

Day 3 went so much smoother!  I’m starting to get the hang of the containers and the portions that we need for each meal.  I was much more satisfied this time and was actually surprised by how much each container holds.  They look small but actually hold hefty portion sizes!

BREAKFAST

Yogurt and granola

Greek yogurt + homemade granola + 1/2 a banana

1/2R + 1Y + 1/2P

LUNCH

Kale salad, pineapple, and smoked salmon

Kale salad + smoked salmon + pineapple

1G + 1R + 1P + 1 O

I make a big batch of this salad, dress it with a homemade balsamic dressing and it makes a few days worth of salad.  Since the veggies in the mix are things like kale, brussels sprouts, and cabbage, the dressing doesn’t weight it down or make it soggy.  It gets better the longer it sits!

The kale salad mix I get at Costco.

DINNER

Shrimp Pho with Zoodles

Shrimp Pho + zucchini noodles

1.5 R + 2G

This turned out to be a lot of food and I didn’t even finish my bowl!

EXERCISE

Was Pilates Fix and that used a resistance band for the whole 30 minutes.  It was challenging and different as I haven’t used resistance bands in that way before.  It provides a nice change from using weights all the time.  Just like weights, you can always increase the resistance to make the moves more challenging.

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Day 2 21DFX: Getting Better

Yesterday was Day 2 of the 21 Day Fit Extreme (21DFX from here on out) and it was good and it was a little shaky there around lunch time but I pulled through!

I realize I haven’t shared what the containers mean so here’s your quick guide:

Green = Veggies

Purple = Fruit

Red = Protein

Yellow = Carbs

Blue = Healthy Fats

Orange = For oils, dressings

Scramble and mandarins

I started the day off with a scramble with mushrooms, peppers, and onions topped with a little cheddar and hot sauce with a side of mandarins.

1 R + 1/2 G + 1P + 1/2B

Chocolate vegan shakeology

Breakfast left me hungry and unsatisfied for some reason.  So all morning long all I kept thinking about was lunch. Finally at 11:30am I caved and made a Shakeology smoothie.

Chocolate vegan Shakeology with water + spinach + banana

1R + 1G + 1P

Kale salad

This didn’t fill me up and it only made me more hungry.  I think it might have spiked my blood sugar too much.  So I moved on to a kale salad.

1G

That didn’t fill me up right away either but eventually my body settled down and I wasn’t so ravenous any longer.  It took about an hour-ish for that to happen.

Porkchop, broccoli, sweet potato mash

Dinner was awesome!  Pork chop with roasted broccoli and mashed sweet potato.

2R + 1G + 2Y

Lesson learned from the day is that I really can’t do shakes as a meal (even though Shakeology can be made as meal replacements or as a snack).  My body wants food and so I’m going to stick with that.

While the first half of the day didn’t leave me satisfied, it was plenty for Scott.  He didn’t even touch his portion of the kale salad because he was completely full.

Both of us are doing this program and we are both on the same portion plan so it’s been pretty easy to plan out meals for the both of us.

Workout focused on upper body so it was all arm, shoulder, and triceps moves.  It was awesome and I felt great afterwards!  Max 30 was so cardio intense that it’s nice to have a slower pace and work with some light weights.

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Starting 21 Day Fix Extreme

Yesterday I kicked off my new fitness challenge, The 21 Day Fix Extreme.  Some of the challengers aren’t starting till next Monday so there’s still time to jump in and join us if you want!

This program comes with 7 workouts that are 30 minutes long. You complete them during the week and they use a combo of light weights and resistance bands.  It also focuses on nutrition, providing a meal plan and a set of containers that are portion sizes for different food groups like veggies, fruit, protein, and carbs.

Currently my focus is on the portions and not so much the “approved” list of foods.  Scott and I eat pretty clean so I feel like we’re good in that area.

There is a guide that helps you figure out the calorie amount you’ll need for the day either for maintenance or weight loss, and then that amount corresponds with home many containers of each food group you can have for the day.

My initial reaction was YIKES.  Because I can only have four portions of veggies in a day and that’s basically my lunch.

Yesterday was Day 1 and I documented my eats to give you an idea of what this whole thing looks like.  So let’s take a look and then we’ll discuss.

BREAKFAST

Yogurt with granola and banana

2% Greek yogurt + homemade granola + 1/2 a medium banana

1/2 red container + yellow container + 1/2 purple container

LUNCH

Salad, smoothie, smoked salmon

Kale salad + smoothie + smoked salmon

1.5 green container + 1 orange + 1 green + 2 purple + 1 red

DINNER

Zoodles with sauce and sausage

Zoodles + homemade sauce + Italian sausage + parm

1.5 green + 1 purple + 1 red + 1/2 blue

It was challenging working with these containers!  I’m a pretty intuitive eater and the containers left me feeling a little restricted which admittedly did make me a little cranky at first.  But it wouldn’t be a challenge if it wasn’t easy, right?

I am using this basic template meal planner as a way to keep track of the containers.  I printed out 3 copies for the 3 weeks of the program.  At the top I put how many containers we can have each day and then for the meals I make note of the containers and tally up the total after dinner.

This program does advocate three meals with some snacks through out the day.  I’m not a snacker and stick with three larger meals.

Scott says we are all in and that we need to try our best to stick to our allotted amounts.  That’s my goal for the rest of the challenge is to stick to the containers.

I’m not a calorie counter and I try and eat as intuitively as possible. I’m trying out the program because I would like to have first hand experience with it and to see what kind of results that I can achieve.

That’s a run down of Day 1! I’ll be checking in with more eats and progress reports as the challenge goes on.

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Find A Support System

Find Your Tribe

Motivation and support are two things I rely on when sticking with an exercise plan and living a healthy lifestyle. I love seeing others working out and eating well, it motivates me and keeps me going.  I also love having a support system in place because that helps me stay focused.

Being with a group of like minded individuals is uplifting and key to healthy lifestyle success.

It’s no secret that with our move to Colorado, I fell off the healthy lifestyle wagon.  Hard.  And it took me two years to finally get back on track.  The main reason I had trouble with getting back on the wagon is because I had no support system.

Most of the “healthy” blogs are running focused and I’m not running at this time.  Paleo blogs, while closer to the way I eat and view food, are Crossfit focused and I don’t Crossfit (or have any desire to).  I was feeling stuck and like I couldn’t relate to anyone.  I didn’t have anyone I could turn to, even locally since most locals here either run or bike.

Eventually I had enough of not living to my fullest potential and I had enough with not eating the way my body prefers and I sought out help.

My friend Rose was running an accountability group and I joined in and it was exactly what I needed to get back on track and stay focused.

Being part of a support group that I can check in with daily for accountability and motivation has been a game changer.  I’ve stayed on track and have worked hard to get back to living the lifestyle that I love.  I would not have been able to do this had I not found a group of folks who were all doing the same thing I was, getting back on track.

We are all doing different workouts and we all have different perspectives on what eating well means but we are always supportive of each other and help build each other up.

When committing to a lifestyle change, we need to find our tribe.  A group that is supportive and motivating, helping each other reach their goals. Taking the first step to seeking out support is HUGE and difficult.  Most of us don’t want to admit we need help.  The truth is that we are much more successful when we have people to motivate us and challenge us.

This is exactly why I’m bringing my health coaching back into focus because I know first hand how beneficial having a support system in place can be.

I will be running some free challenge groups that will focus on eating well and having an exercise plan in place. There will be nothing to purchase, all you need is a desire to focus on your health. If you are interested in joining in with others who are on the same journey, just let me know!  I’ll send you all the details!

Let’s work together to support and motivate each other!

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Always Have A Plan

Failure To Plan, Is Planning To Fail

Earlier this week I attended a media dinner at a new restaurant downtown. It was a fun night sampling food and drinks. Dinner was completely out of my control and I was OK with that because I planned ahead and prepared myself for it.

I don’t stress about going out to dinner.  I don’t stress about potlucks or parties.  I am all about balance and enjoying life.  So when faced with a situation that is out of my control, I roll with it and do the best I can.

And I plan ahead as much as possible, which is key.

I make sure to get in all my portions of fruits and veggies for the day before the event.  Usually a bigger salad at lunch and smoothie will take care of those needs easily.  It’s really easy to add some veggies or greens to scrambled eggs in the morning.  That way when I’m out to eat or at an event where veggies might not be plentiful, I know that I’m already covered for the day. This allows me to relax and enjoy my time out.

Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean we have to give up everything to eat more broccoli and bananas.  I am all about embracing life and enjoying the hell out of it.  There are more serious things to stress over than a party or going out to dinner.

As long as you plan ahead, you will always be successful.

Autumn Calabrese, fitness instructor and creator of the 21 Day Fix Extreme (which I will be starting in a couple of weeks. If you want to join me, let me know!) shares some tips on dining out stress free and staying on track.

Portion control tips for eating out by Autumn Calabrese:

1. Order an appetizer as your main dish. Even appetizers are usually the perfect size meal. So choose one as your main dish and maybe add a side of veggies with it.

2. Share an entree. Chances are you are at dinner with a friend or family member so pick an entree that sounds good to both of you and share it.

3. If ordering a salad ask for the dressing on the side.

4. Drink water. Sip your water while you eat. Sipping water will help fill you up. It will also ensure that you are hydrated. Our bodies often confuse thirst for hunger.

5. Eat your veggies first. Fill up on vegetables so you eat less of the carbohydrates and protein which are higher in calories.

6. Take half to go. If you do order your own entree ask your server to bring you a Togo box when the entree arrives at the table. Put half in the box to take home & enjoy the other half.

7. The first time you feel full put the fork down. Often we continue to eat because we like the taste not because we are still hungry. Don’t stop eating when you are so full that it hurts, stop eating when you feel satisfied.

8. Don’t skip meals. People tend to “save their appetite” for a nice dinner out. Skipping a meal before hand means you will arrive to dinner hungry and want to order one of everything.

My experience with dining out, I have found that there tends to be a lack of veggies as side dishes.  I try and pick a main dish that has the biggest side dish component and add on a house salad or side salad to my order.  That gives me a little bit more of a veggie portion.

Sometimes this isn’t an option at all.  If you’re at a burger joint, they don’t usually have salads as an option.  This is where planning ahead works to your advantage!  If you got all your veggie portions in for the day already, enjoy the hell out of that burger and fries!

What do you do when dining out to help stay on track?

 

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The One With No Alcohol

Pomegranate Fizz

One of my February goals is no alcohol for the month except for one cheat day. This is kind of a big deal because for those that have been around for a while, they know how much I love my beer and booze.

That may sound worse than I intend, but I’m just a very appreciative fan of good craft libations.

Two main reasons I’m giving up alcohol for a bit:

  •  Still having digestive issues.
  •  Jumpstart my weight-loss journey.

DIGESTION

Here’s the thing, after giving up milk I’m still seeing some digestive issues. Eliminating milk has helped a ton but it isn’t enough.  I still need to take action to help heal my gut.  The only other thing that could be a problem is alcohol. I feel like my increased beer consumption over the last few years has damaged my digestive tract.  It’s time to correct that and get on the path of better health.  By eliminating alcohol for a bit (not forever, I’m only human.) that will give my gut time to heal and repair itself.

WEIGHT GAIN

Hands down, alcohol is the main reason I have gained so much weight over the past two years.  Yes, lack of exercise is the other is the other half of the equation but it didn’t have quite the impact as beer.

When Scott and I first moved to Fort Collins, we were like kids in a candy store because we suddenly had access to all this amazing beer.  So our life revolved around trying new beers, going to releases, and enjoying the hell out of the abundance of craft beer available. And most of that beer that we were enjoying had an ABV of 7% and higher.

Sometimes 10% and up.  And occasionally some serious bombs of 15% and up.

I know that beer has empty calories but I never really paid attention to that.  Whatever, it’s a beer, it’s a treat, right?

I used to feel that way, then last year I found out that the higher the ABV = more calories in that beer.

Well there’s your problem, Andrea.

Maybe this isn’t news to you but it was news to me.  After researching a bit more, I was kind of shocked at how much calories are in beer.

Roughly, a bomber size (24oz) of a 9% beer is around 500 calories (different styles have different totals, this is just a super basic example). Have two bombers in an evening and there is 1000 extra calories tacked on to your day.

Yeah.

Here’s an article I found on beer and calories (For example 6oz of Black Tuesday is 500.  6 freaking oz. Damn)

While I’m not one to actively count calories, it’s time to wise up and realize that these extra calories aren’t helping.  If I want to get serious about getting back in shape and getting back to the real me (I’m tired of everyone here only knowing the chunky me because that isn’t ME.) then it’s time to cut my losses and take charge.

So I’m giving up alcohol for a bit save for one cheat day (maybe 2, I have an event next week that might be hard to resist).  Scott’s birthday is this month AND Avery will be opening their new brewery next week so at some point we’ll be heading over.  I’m saving my cheat day for that.  Sorry, I’m not missing out on beer at my favorite brewery in Colorado.

Then it’s back to no alcohol.  It probably won’t be until mid-March when I have the sweet nectar again because March 2nd is when I start my new fitness challenge which I’ll share more about next week.

It’s back to mocktails for me in the evenings.  Just because I’m not actually having wine doesn’t mean I can’t use the glasses, right?  So I enjoy a little bit of juice plus seltzer in wine glasses.  It makes things more fun and a lot easier when it’s not the real thing.

Have you ever given up alcohol completely or for a challenge?  How did it go? And if you want to join me in this challenge, let me know and we can keep each other accountable!

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Checking In

Coffee with almond milk

Hey all!  It’s been a while!  A couple of weeks ago, Scott and I received some tragic news and I really needed to step away for a few and deal with that.

I have missed blogging very much! It’s definitely a part of who I am.  Life should be back on track at this point.  While things were turned a little upside for a while, I did make sure that we still ate well and stuck to our workout plan.  That gave me something to focus on and also some time to decompress and relieve some stress.

Scott and I started Insanity Max 30 right before Christmas and this was one of the best decisions that we made.  The program has been awesome and we are currently in the last week of Month 2.  Both of us have seen results from this program and I will chat more about it with you and my thoughts on at-home workouts.

I’ve also decided to become a Beach Body Coach in addition to being a Holistic Health Coach.  I really believe in the Beach Body Programs and the support system that it builds.  Finding a support network and a Fit Family is so important in fostering and nurturing a healthy lifestyle.

While I did take a little mini break from blogging, big things happened in that time as well.  I can’t wait to talk with you about it!

 

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Typical Day of Eats

I’m going to start posting more of my eats on the blog this year and I wanted to start off with what a typical day looks like.  This way if I say, “Standard breakfast and lunch”, you know what that means and won’t get bored seeing those same things over and over again.

Dinners are more varied, more fun (for me anyway), and our biggest meal of the day.

Breakfast:

greek yogurt, granola, banana

2% Greek yogurt with homemade granola and sliced banana with a little sprinkle of unsweetened coconut chips. Coffee with almond milk on the side.  Not a huge breakfast but the fat in the yogurt helps keep me full and satisfied.  I also add eggs to the granola mix when I make for added protein.  Right now the granola is just toasted and spiced oatmeal.  If you like, you can always add nuts, dried fruit, and heck even chocolate chips if you want.

Lunch:

Salad and smoothie

Salad with small amount of protein (2-3oz) and a smoothie.  The protein in the salads vary from hard boiled eggs, to salmon, to leftover chicken.  Sometimes even beans. Depends on what I feel like that day and what I have on hand that is the easiest to grab.

The protein helps me feel way more satisfied and it also means that I don’t need a salad the size of my head to be full.

Smoothie is pretty typical:

  • 2.5 C water
  • Big bunch of greens (Either spinach, kale, or chard)
  • 1.5 Frozen bananas
  • 1/2-1C Frozen fruit (blueberries, mango, peaches)
  • 1tsp Coconut Oil

Sometimes I sub in 1C almond milk but not very often.  I don’t count calories really but I try to be mindful of them. Since I have almond milk in my morning coffee, I don’t really need it in the smoothie.

The coconut oil helps provide much needed fat.  Most vitamins and minerals in fruits and veggies are fat soluble, which means our bodies can’t break them down and absorb them properly unless they are paired with a fat.  Coconut oil does the trick!

This amount makes two smoothies, one me and one for Scott.

Dinner:

Mahi mahi tacos

(Horrible picture I know, but until I figure out a solution to take night pictures, this is the best it gets.)

Mahi Mahi tacos, rice, and some green beans.  I would have had some avocado for the mahi mahi but I was out! Darn it!  I made extra portions of fish so there would be enough for leftovers the following day.

Some dinners are a little bigger but most times it’s a protein with some veggies and occasionally starch.  Dinner is my favorite meal of the day because I like spending the time in the evenings to prepare it.  It’s my relaxing down time.

There’s a saying that goes, you should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.

That doesn’t really work for me.   A smaller breakfast and lunch followed by a larger dinner is what makes me feel the best.  Occasionally I’ll have an egg and some fruit for breakfast if I’m feeling a little more hungry in the morning or if I really don’t feel like yogurt.  I still keep the portions small, one egg with fruit and maybe an English muffin, this way I will still be hungry for lunch.

A larger breakfast, say eggs with bacon, toast, and potatoes keeps me full for a very long time so I typically keep that style of breakfast to the weekend.  Since it keeps me full for a while it usually results in me skipping lunch altogether and going right into dinner.  This is OK sometimes but not all the time. I really enjoy eating lunch and having that afternoon salad.

I’m also not much of a snacker.  Three full meals a day suits me just fine.  I don’t need snacks to help me get from one meal to the next.  As much as I enjoy food and eating, I don’t like eating all time and snacks make me feel that way. Like I’m just constantly eating.

Routine works for me and I don’t get bored with my breakfasts or lunch.  Plus it makes meal prep during the week a heck of a lot easier!  If I’m always having the same thing for 2 out of 3 meals, then I can focus more on dinner and planning that for the week.

Again, I’m in no way suggesting that everyone try this because what works for one person probably isn’t going to work for someone else.  We all have different tastes and different needs.

The goal is to pay attention to the meals we eat and how they make us feel.  Do we feel energized and satisfied or do we feel sleepy and blah?  Do we have energy the next day for work and working out or are we dragging our butts?  Once we figure out what makes us feel amazing it’s a lot easier to keep doing that!