19. Starting Again

This past summer, I started on a mission to get healthier and lose the rest of my pregnancy weight (from a year prior) plus some. I threw out all the processed foods and hit the pavement. Through eating cleaner and running three times a week, I lost 27 pounds in about 3 months. I’ve since plateaued (after returning to work from summer break), and I had gained back about 4.5 pounds.

This week, however, I have gotten back on track! I’ve started tracking my calories again, eating much healthier, and even snuck in a little exercise here and there. I’m happy to say that I’ve lost 4 of the regained pounds! My next goal is to lose another 4 pounds so that I can officially be back at my college weight!

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So, today, I am thankful for the chance to start over. For fresh starts. For not giving up. For coming to bed instead of eating something else like I really wanted to do. For an impromptu exercise session with my little girl before she went to bed. For taking control of my health.

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Day 7: Just Do It!

As of today, I have been been a “runner” for about four months. Now, I use that term very lightly! I’m really more of a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race jogger, but, hey! It worked for the tortoise! Anyway, I have struggled with weight issues all my life! Once I started college and fell in love, eating became my favorite past time, and exercise was a curse word. Eight years and about 60 pounds later, I got pregnant with my first child, and, well, we know what goes along with that! Yep! More weight! When Cecilia was about a year and a half, I lost about 30 pounds, and then I got pregnant again. After losing my Angel Baby, food was my best friend, and I gained all of the weight back and more. A year and a half later, my sweet William came along, and so did more weight. This past winter, I was at an all-time high, and I had had enough! I was done! I dabbled in Paleo for a while and then tried Weight Watchers, and I lost about 25 pounds in about six months. It wasn’t until this summer, however, that I made some serious lifestyle changes. I couldn’t afford a gym membership or any fancy home equipment, but I knew I needed to add exercise into my life, plain and simple. Along with giving up almost all processed foods (especially processed carbs), I downloaded a free running app (Ease Into 5K) onto my phone, and I hit the pavement! I’ve battled hip injuries and (am still battling) Planters Facciitis, but I am still at it, and I am down another 25 pounds! I will be running my first race (well, obstacle course) this coming weekend–Warrior Dash–with my wonderful husband, my awesome cousin Emily, and my incredible best friend of 17+ years Kellie! I can’t wait! I am far from perfect and still pretty slow, but, as Kellie often tells me, I am still lapping the couch potatoes! I couldn’t have stuck through it without my husband’s constant support, my friend Shawna’s non-stop checking-in and cheering me on, the incredible encouragement and belief in me from Kellie, and the outpouring of support and “likes” and comments from my awesome Facebook support group! Thanks to everyone for believing in me and helping me out along the way! So, if you have ever thought about running or have the desire to be a runner, my advice to you is simply to Just Do It! If I can do it, anyone can!

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Day 1: Sunday Food Prep for the Week

One of the toughest things for me to do during the work week is to get up, get dressed, and get out the door in the morning without forgetting a purse, a shoe, or even a kid! I have come to realize that the difference between leaving the driveway at 6:57am versus 7:01am makes the difference between getting to work on time and, well, not! So, in order to do this, I must start my weekly preparations on Sunday. The hubby and I have found that if we work together for a couple hours on Sunday to get some meals cooked and get our fresh fruits and veggies washed, chopped, and put away, not only do our mornings run more smoothly, but our evenings do as well. Here are a few things that work well for us on the weekends:

~Grocery shop on Saturday afternoons or Sundays after church.

~Spend a few hours washing, chopping, and putting away (preferably in individual-sized containers) any fresh fruits and veggies that we plan on using for lunches and/or snacks throughout the week.

~Cook a couple meals that will work well as leftovers for dinner throughout the week, and store in the fridge in individual servings. This way, the containers can work as a quick grab-and-go lunch or as dinner a few nights during the week.

In addition to Sunday prep, we have made it a point to get lunches and breakfasts for the next day as ready as possible before we go to bed at night. These extra few minutes at night save us from lots of extra stress in the mornings!

 

Here’s a shot of my fridge after this Sunday’s veggie/fruit prep for the week:

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Note: The clear, plastic containers are from Sam’s Club (http://www.samsclub.com/sams/16oz-deli-container-240ct-w-lid/prod8980183.ip?navAction=)! They are amazing little creations! They come in 3 sizes–cup, pint, and quart, and the same lids fit all three sizes! They can go from freezer, to microwave, to dishwasher like little champs! They make organization (in the freezer, fridge, cabinet, lunchbox) a breeze! Getcha some! Seriously!

 

I also made a huge chicken and sausage gumbo on Sunday! We used the cup-sized containers and put rice and gumbo in one container so that we just have to pop them in the microwave, and voila! I’m not sure about your kids, but mine are MUCH happier with a bowl of leftover gumbo (or beans or other homemade meal) than they are with chicken nuggets from the freezer!

 

So, if you are like us, and your morning minutes are ever so valuable, get a plan in place for weekly and nightly food prep routines! I promise, you’ll thank me!

The Family that Cooks Together, Stays Together

Well, with this new diet..uh um…lifestyle change, we sure have been doing our fair share of cooking! We went from eating out 5-8 times per week to zero! Yay! We’re doing the “Pick a Month, Any Month” challenge (Pick one month out of the year to not eat out AT ALL!) this month to coincide with the Paleo 30-Day Challenge. So, that means LOTS of cooking. Since Sunday, we have cooked several different things: vegetable beef soup, chicken fajita lettuce wraps (along with homemade guacamole and homemade salsa), kale chips (just ok), smothered kale (1st and last time), roasted asparagus, hamburger steaks, and taco meat (for taco salads), not to mention the sliced raw fruits and veggies for snacks! This challenge has definitely given us some quality time in the kitchen, but it’s actually been lots of fun! So far, so good!

Sheperd’s Pie-Paleo Style

Just wanted to share a new Paelo recipe that I made last night. It was a hit with everyone (even my “little” brother). Well, everyone except for Cecilia. We’re still trying to bring her over to the Paleo side! ;o) Anyway, I used a recipe I found online but tweaked it to our own liking. Here it is:

1 tbs. coconut oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1  pound ground beef
3/4 cup onions chopped
1/2 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 small can tomato paste
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3  cups Mashed Cauliflower (recipe below)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
2. Heat a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Add the 1 tablespoon of the oil and once hot, stir in the garlic, being careful not to burn.
3. Add in the beef and stir, combining with the garlic {and seasonings to taste: garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, ground pepper}. Cook until the meat is browned.
4. Remove from the pan, then add in the onions, carrots, and celery.
5. Cook until onions are translucent and carrots and celery softened.
6. Add the meat mixture back into the pan, and stir in the tomato paste, balsamic, and Worcestershire and bring to a simmer. Simmer until any residual liquid is evaporated.
7. Pour meat/vegetable mixture into a 9″ x 13″ (23 cm x 33 cm) baking pan, and with a rubber spatula spread a layer of the Mashed Cauliflower over the top, forming a solid layer of the mash.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the mashed cauliflower is slightly browned on top.

Mashed Cauliflower:

– 1 head cauliflower, leaves removed, stem and florets chopped into similar sized pieces
– 1 cup chicken stock or broth (more for a particularly large head of cauliflower)
– 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
– 2 cloves garlic, smashed
– 1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves

Instructions:
1. Place all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan or Dutch oven and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to medium and cover, allowing to cook for 15-20 minutes or so, or until the cauliflower is very tender and easily mashed with a fork.**
**You may need to add more stock if everything dries up and your cauliflower is not yet cooked through. Keep an eye on things as it cooks to see if you need to add some more.
3. Once cauliflower is tender and cooked through, pour off any excess stock that remains and reserve.
4. Pour all contents into a food processor and mix. If the cauliflower seems too dry, add in some of the reserved stock.

Add in any spices, herbs, or “mix-ins” that you’d like as discussed above.

Original recipe from: http://paleocomfortfoods.com/in-the-kitchen/farmers-pie/

ENJOY!

Paleo 30-Day Challenge

Well, Marshall and I are on Day 3 of our Paleo 30-Day Challenge. After a thorough cleaning out of our pantry, fridge, and freezer on Wednesday, we headed to the grocery store to stock up on “clean” foods–no grains, starches, sugar, artificial sweeteners, or processed foods. Two buggies and a large grocery bill later, we were home rinsing, chopping, and putting away all of our fresh goodies. (The compost pile was very happy that day!) Anyway, so far so good! We are both rockin’ it! Here’s hoping for a healthier year for all!

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