fitness and nutrition

Decluttering

It’s Spring cleaning time.  But maybe not in the way you think.

I definitely need to spend some time cleaning out my house, but that will be a summer project.  Right now I am focused on cleaning out my nutritional clutter.

A little history…

A few years ago I chronicled my weight loss following a macro-counting program called Stronger U.  I did two sessions and lost a good amount of weight.  Since then, over two years ago, I’ve been kind of winging it, adapting the principles I learned from Stronger U without measuring or counting.  For the most part, it means keeping protein the priority at most / all meals.  I fill in with carbs and fat but try to stick with familiar ingredients and products. I meal prep each week, although it’s not as elaborate as it used to be. I still weigh myself every day and follow the active online Stronger U community.

I was doing pretty good for a long time.  In fact, I lost more than 10 pounds after my last session was complete.  I stayed in the weight range I wanted for the most part, and was able to eat and go about my days and activities feeling pretty good.

Over time, the number on the scale started to creep up, especially over the last 3 months. The first thing I noticed was that my clothes don’t fit as well anymore. Tight in the waist. I have extra flab around my middle. Now the scale is up 15 pounds from where I was a year ago and almost 25 from the lowest number I saw post-Stronger U. I’ve hit what I call my “emergency number,” meaning the number on the scale that means I am out of control. I could blame COVID, but I won’t. I’ve been active and have kept my routines up. Instead, I think it’s from the “nutritional clutter” I’ve let pile up.

I haven’t abandoned what I know, but I’ve gotten in the habit of letting things slide. I’m not eating pancakes for breakfast, but I am gobbling three handfuls of almonds instead of one with those hard boiled eggs. I still eat dark chocolate chips on low-carb vanilla yogurt each night, but it’s more like even amounts of chips and yogurt than just a sprinkle. I overdo it on the cheese and crackers at times. I have half a can of low-fat pringles with my bunless hamburger and sugar free pickles instead of just a stack.

Stronger U called it Bites, Licks, and Tastes (BLTs.) Little things add up to a lot of extra calories. I’ve known a change was necessary for about a month now, and I’ve just tried to dial back my portions. That hasn’t worked, so something more structured is necessary. Change isn’t always fun, but I’m ready for a reset. More on how that’s coming in future posts.

Is there anything you’ve let slide recently that needs a reset? Let us know in the comments.

celebrations

The Red Box

Today was a day to get shit done. Lots of projects on the home front. Lots of little things to just take off the to-do list. Now enter the red box.

The red box filled of vanilla creme candies. Dark chocolate covering the sweet vanilla taste. Heaven in my mouth. Now this isn’t just any small box. It’s a 1-pound box of sweetness. Delivered to me by a special lady aka my mom who knows how much I love these candies. Of course I can’t refuse her generous gift. I must eat them all. Just hopefully not in one sitting!

A bigger box than normal so I must have been on the good list but my God that’s a lot of chocolate! Now did I mention this girl really likes her chocolate during a certain monthly cycle? Yup. That’s right folks. Guilty pleasure alert. Or maybe it’s a necessity.

I sit down at my desk to do some work and realize I put the box of chocolates in the drawer to avoid temptation. Yes, I told myself one per day is the indulgence. Well that reasoning went out the door as soon as I ate one.

Because one wasn’t enough. I needed two. Or was it three? Heck, I lost count. So needless to say I had to leave my office because the temptation was too much on me. I couldn’t resist. I lacked the willpower.

I have had these chocolates since I was kid when my Nana took me to the candy house. A fond memory that I passed onto my kids. Now as a grown adult it is such a comfort food. Unfortunately, my macros don’t allow unlimited chocolate intake so I must change my surroundings immediately.

Off to mow a lawn or something to combat the excessive calorie intake. If you haven’t tasted a Phillips Candy House chocolate, they ship to you. Visit www.phillipschocolate.com to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Note: the candy is expensive, but delicious! 

healthy hacks

The Swap

The meal prep swap. How does it work?  What are the benefits?

This is another blog that is just a tidbit for anyone who can benefit.

Each week meal prepping can be boring or tedious. Time constraints could limit what you can make forcing you to eat the same chicken recipe for multiple days. Things could be worse, but what if there was a way to switch up the ordinary?

Grab yourself four friends who eat healthy. Set a side a day and place for the swap. Pick your menu and start your meal prep.

Instead of meal prepping 5 chicken dishes for yourself, you keep one and bring the other four to the swap.

One friend makes spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs with marinara. One friend makes Greek chicken with a cucumber, tomato and onion salad. One friend makes a chicken bowl with black beans, corn, riced cauliflower and veggies. And the final dish is a shrimp and avocado dish. These are just a sample but the picture above actually has egg salad full of veggies, turkey sausage and cabbage with cucumber side, riced cauliflower with beef sausage and hard boiled eggs, and spaghetti squash seasoned with Everything but the Bagel seasoning (a must have) with turkey.

You basically bring you 4 meals and trade with the other four participants. You end up with 5 different meals for the next few days (yours plus the other four). Variety is in front of you.

You may even try something you never would have made and loved it. You could also get a dud meal. That’s the little risk you take for escaping the ordinary. This may be too much planning week after week but here and there it can easily break up the cycle of boring meal prep.

Be sure to set expectations in your group about capturing all ingredients, measurements and of course sharing the recipe. For me it works great when a friend messaged me the details from Myfitnesspal. I just copy and paste and move on to the next meal.

Just a fun way to spend some time with friends, promote heathy eating and maybe even keep a friend accountable for tracking their eating or meal prepping.

More healthy hacks coming your way in 2020 from 2 Chicks and a Pen.

healthy hacks

Tough Days Call for Easy Bagels

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Posted in honor of National Bagel Day.  Here’s how I celebrated!

Several of my friends and I are trying to tighten up our nutrition, and our belts, as part of our 2020 goals.

This may mean limiting certain treats, even eliminating some of them. For most of us it means upping protein and being careful to count nearly everything else. It’s a daily set of choices…maybe more of a battle some days.

But it also means finding new ways to enjoy some of our favorite things in ways that don’t derail us from our goals.

Transition in nutrition can be challenging.  Even after just a few days, moving to prepped food and protein can try both patience and palate.

Enter Skinny Taste Easy Bagels.  5 ingredients, quick knead, roll them into a bagel shape, top them, 25 minutes in the oven and voila! Bagels.

Are they just like iconic New York bagels?  Not quite.  But, covered with your favorite topping (Everything But the Bagel for some, sesame for others), toasted or warmed, maybe filled with a lightly scrambled egg, and tightening up your nutrition doesn’t seem quite so bad.  They have almost 10 grams of protein each.  

I learned quickly that these make my friends happy.  So, when meal prep was running short lately, it was pretty simple to put them together on a Thursday night and bring them to see everyone at the gym Friday morning.  Even though they were a little crispy, they brought a smile and some great pics of pretty plates later that morning.

A little pick-me-up doesn’t have to be expensive or hard.  It can be as easy as a note or a homemade treat.  It can even help friends meet their goals while letting them know they matter and are cared about.

Think you’re not a baker?  Give these a try.  Another healthy hack from the 2 Chicks!

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fitness and nutrition

Working Vacation (or, Making Vacation Work)

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a whirlwind whiplash weekend in Pennsylvania with friends watching our daughters play lacrosse.

I could have completely tossed my diet and exercise habits out the window.  But driving over 10 hours both ways in the course of a few days left my body screaming for exercise and good food.  (Craving those things is a good sign.)

We stayed in a hotel with a gym.  I brought my workout clothes and got up at my usual crack-of-dawn hour. The weather was amazing!  When I went outside, the air was a crisp, cool change from the warm humid mornings in Atlanta.  Then, we just happened to be staying in a complex with some health care buildings.  As I was walking to warm up and get moving, I noticed a trail with some fitness stations along the way.  So, that became my plan.  A little jog and some step ups, incline situps and leg lifts, hanging leg raises, all while jogging station to station. Sweat happened.

Then, I went into the gym and did a quick 21-15-9 of burpees, dumbbell clean and jerks, and sit-ups.  It wasn’t the extreme race or marathon workout that many were doing back home, but it was enough to feel like I had worked my heart and muscles. It felt good.

Of the 3 days away, that was the only true workout I did.  We did some walking at the tournament fields and Hershey Park, but otherwise the two days were rest days.  I worked out all the other days around the trip so it was enough.

The other challenge on the road is eating.

I packed snacks…a few bags of turkey and beef jerky, protein water, chunks of grilled chicken, protein chips, and some random protein bars.  I ate some but not all. I also drank lots of water and sparkling water.

For the most part, I just tried to focus on protein and keep other things to a minimum. Examples:

For quick breakfast on the road I had a Chick-fil-a breakfast bowl with chicken and no hashbrowns.  I ate a 2 good yogurt for snack.  The chicken chunks came in handy on a long stretch of road with few options beside gas station food.

Eating out in Harrisburg, PA, at a local tapas spot – Kale and beet salad, Brussel sprouts with bacon, a small slice of pizza, charcuterie board with meat, cheese, pickles, flatbread, mustard.  Probably over on fat and salt but I could have done worse and it was delicious. Not enough protein but options were limited.

For hotel breakfast (twice): Eggs, spinach, cheese, salsa, light and fit yogurt, coffee with milk. For me, when I’m basically eyeballing things, not really planning eating, and going with my gut, I try to start the day with as much protein as possible and just keep going from there.

It’s not necessarily easy…the options I skipped were many: waffles, Froot Loops and other cereals, bagels, bread, crumb cake, juices, granola, muffins, peanut butter, etc.  None of these seemed worth it and the eggs looked decent.  (I would definitely eat crumb cake, for example, if it was from a bakery.  I look forward to bakery crumb cake at the Jersey Shore later this summer!)

It’s not always a simple win.  The amusement parks we went to the last two weekends were especially challenging for both cost and food quality reasons.  At Hershey Park, after long searching, I settled for a few chicken tenders (more bread than chicken) and a few fries.  Thankfully this was late in the day after decent eating before we got to the park.

An afternoon at Kings Dominion was more challenging.  I could almost stomach the idea of eating Panda Express, but the $15.00 price tag was a deal breaker (and for just one entree!)  I held out until we left, late afternoon, and quickly scarfed down my turkey jerky, protein water, some fresh cherry tomatoes, and Quest protein chips when I got to the car.  Sounds crazy to many, but it works for me.  I felt satisfied and not weighed down.  I was grateful I had packed a few things to have on hand.

And when it was worth it, I did treat myself across the two weekends.  I had top-notch street tacos (although I did skip all but one bite of tortilla since they were not special), I had a great meal with meats, cheeses, an amazingly fluffy buttered roll, and cucumber salad at a German restaurant called Fest, and I had a scoop of homemade strawberry swirl ice cream topped with toasted fluff (the specialty of the house) at Charm School Social Club.  Totally worth it.  And four days later, I’m not mad at myself or the scale. So I’m learning it is possible to keep it sane on the road, get some sweat in, feel good, and indulge when I really want to.  Let’s see how I do on my next journey…