Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Meal Planning and The Skinny Rules...

I'm baaaaack!
After a bit of a hiatus online I'm back :) My family and I had a great Thanksgiving away, visiting family and doing some outlet shopping in the USA. Things went a little off the rails in terms of food but I'm back on track today and excited to start planning out some healthy meals and snacks!

Are you a meal planner?? I've always wanted to be but can't seem to do it consistently. It's silly because it truly does save time, money, and a headache each day trying to figure out what to make and what I have. I often have great intentions in the grocery store- I buy lots of great veggies and fruits but than end up wasting them because I either have too many for the week or I can't get it together in the evenings and end up ordering take out. Lame!

I received a little inspiration from another blog to start trying to meal plan again. I tried a demo free meal plan from a website and found I stuck to it pretty well and it made groceries super easy and less expensive. I don't think I need to be making new recipes every night or even every week and I have enough of a good healthy recipe repertoire that I don't need to pay for a meal plan. And if I need some new recipe ideas there's always Pinterest! So I'm on it....I'll be taking stock today of what I have and than making a plan for the rest of the week, who's with me?!

Next up, I recently came across something, on Pinterest (ha!), called the Skinny Rules (see here). Apparently Bob Harper (Biggest Loser) wrote them and they are the focus of his book, also named The Skinny Rules. There is a lot of opinions out there on these rules, and many of them are pretty negative. 

I realize working with "rules" and restricting your diet can be detrimental in many cases, but in all honesty, following rules like "drink a glass of water before every meal" and "eat apples and berries every single day" would benefit pretty much everyone. My guess is the more controversial rules like "go to bed hungry" and "no carbs after lunch" are the ones people like to get all crazy about. But if you think about it- they're not so bad either. Go to bed hungry is basically just his way of saying don't eat for a few hours before bed- as in "Allison, you don't need that popcorn as an evening snack!".....hmmmm yep, that's right, I don't! And the one about carbohydrates- he's not saying we should never eat carbohydrates, he's just saying let's keep them to breakfast and lunch only, why is that so terrible?? 

I think most of the rules are quite doable and would be beneficial to most people looking to lead a healthier lifestyle. I think I will print a copy off, stick it to my fridge, and work on making the rules a part of my routine.

You know what will make following these rules even easier? MEAL PLANNING!


Monday, September 23, 2013

What a Week!

Wow...crazy week! I don't mean crazy in a good way either.

Unfortunately, my daughter, my husband, and I all came down with a nasty cold virus. This was my baby's first true cold (pretty good, we went over 7 months!) and it was heartbreaking to see her feel that way. Not to mention, it really sucks being sick and having to take care of a sick baby....but we're all feeling better thankfully. On top of our colds, it seems as though we're beginning to deal with some teething pain. This combination has made for a week of sleep deprived nights and cranky days. Hopefully we're moving into sunnier territory this week!

So what have I been up to, other than all that exciting fun? Well, I managed to only step on the scale once- weigh-in Wednesday I'm calling it. I lost just over 2 lbs, woohoo! I am vowing to continue this practice of once weekly weigh-ins...much healthier.

I didn't quite make my goal of 3 workouts this week as a result of our household illness. I did manage to make it to bootcamp once (and it was really tough). Admittedly, I could have gone for a run yesterday but chose to laze around and watch football and make baby food all day.

What else? Well, I've been cooking up a storm and trying lots of new recipes! I have to say, I'm actually pretty impressed with myself for cooking as much as I did, while being sick and tired. Was my week perfect? No, definitely not. I slipped up on snacks a couple times and the weekend was a bit of a free-for-all, but I'm improving and that's something to me.

Here are a few things I made this week that I would definitely recommend: 

Beef, Mushroom, and Wild Rice Soup
This was perfect for a chilly week at home with a cold! I ate it for lunch a few days and found it very satisfying and still very tasty as a leftover! Here is the recipe thanks to Czech in the Kitchen.
I made a few minor adjustments- I used left over beef tenderloin (...drool) instead of chuck roast, I added more water than the recipe called for (about 1.5-2 cups). I also found it very thick to reheat so again added some additional water. All in all, it was delicious and just what the doctor would have ordered!

Next up, one of my new favourite vegetable side dishes! I've made this dish a few times and have not been disappointed. It pairs great with just about any meat, I'd say, and has a very fresh and light taste. It manages to do a great job filling you up without being overly starchy. This weekend I paired it up with some broiled Atlantic salmon.

It's really very simple as well! Start with an onion sautéed in a splash of olive oil, or grapeseed oil, or whatever strikes your fancy. Spray or lightly grease a rectangular pan (9x11 or whatever size you like) and add the onions.

Thinly slice and layer a potato, a large summer squash, and a few fresh tomatoes. I used some heirloom tomatoes and fresh vine ripened tomatoes from a local farm- delish!

Sprinkle with fresh thyme, a bit of sea salt and pepper, and a tablespoon or two of fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes covered at 375-400 degrees and than an additional 30 minutes uncovered (use higher oven settings if you sliced your veggies a bit thick).

And voila! A super simple, elegant looking, crowd pleasing vegetable side dish (that's a mouthful!)...and it's pretty darn healthy to boot! 

That's all for now! Looking forward to a happy, healthy week!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bootcamp, Better Eating, and Bad Behavior

It's been a few days since I decided to get my butt in gear and start training for this half marathon and improve my eating habits.

So how am I doing? Well on the eating front, I'd say I'm doing just 'ok'. I have definitely made some changes but there is still plenty of room for improvement....but it's only been two days! I'm one of those people who just cannot have bad food in the house, especially since I'm at home with my daughter now. When I was working full time it was much easier for me; I always had such good intentions in the morning and would pack a great lunch with really healthy snacks. I find being at home a lot more difficult since I've got full access to my fridge and cupboards. 
I know, I know, I should just throw out all the bad stuff right? I should....but I'm constantly rationalizing having things like chips or candy in the house because 'I already bought it and don't want to just throw that money away' or 'my husband can eat that stuff if he wants, I just won't eat it'. Lame excuses, I'm aware. I'll get rid of it, because the fact of the matter is, I want my whole family to eat well and be healthy, not just me.
I did manage to make some great healthy dinners though- I tried two new meals: Chipotle Quinoa Chili (see below) and Zucchini Noodle Lasagna (my own creation!). They were both delicious and filling! They will definitely make it into my dinner rotation ;)

I managed to get myself to Carrie's bootcamp on Thursday and had an awesome work out! Lots of running, squats, push-ups, crunches, etc. My abs and legs are definitely feeling that burn even today, two days later. My goal for next week is to attend bootcamp 3 times. Tomorrow I plan on going on a 5k run with Carrie, and by run I mean- run and walk since I doubt I can make it the full 5k right now. I know some of you are probably saying- she can't make it 5k?! How the heck is she going to run a half marathon (which is just over 20k by the way)?!!! Well just watch me!

Onto my "bad behaviour"- I have a terrible habit of stepping on my scale way too much. I have already stood on my scale 3 times since my first post, not even a full 48hrs ago. That's just nutty. I weigh myself frequently for a couple reasons. First, to make myself feel bad. That's right, I weigh myself after I know I've eaten something I shouldn't or have had a very large portion size (which is usually at night and you'd weigh more anyways). Why would anyone do this? Well, I pretty much know I'm going to weigh more than I did the day before or that morning and I want to make myself feel bad, sort of punish myself, for eating badly or what have you. Great idea right? Yeah, not so much...this is not a healthy habit and I vow to stop this immediately!
I also have a nasty habit of weighing myself nearly every morning- especially if I ate really well the day before, like I expect to see a 2lb loss or something. This tends to have a negative effect on me as well because if I haven't lost weight I get discouraged (like this morning). I'm thinking I should institute weekly weigh-in's for myself...perhaps Weigh In Wednesdays?? Consider it done.

So goals for the upcoming week:
1. Bootcamp or workout 3 times 
2. Once a week weigh in
3. Improve eating habits!!! 
4. Meal plan my dinners

Alright, let's do it!

Chipotle Quinoa Chili
*Note: I didn't have chipotle chili powder so I just added extra chili powder and some red pepper flakes for spice. I also had mine without cheese to save a bit of calories. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Let's put it in writing...

So, this blogging newbie is going to put it out there, in writing.....not necessarily good writing, but writing nonetheless! 
Before I write 'it', here's a little back story on me:

I'm a 31 year old Registered Veterinary Technician living in a small town just outside of Toronto, Ontario. My husband and I moved out here from the city a few years ago and haven't looked back! We've been married close to 4 years now and just welcomed our little girl, Nora, into our family this past February. It's been a crazy and amazing 7 months! I'm currently off on parental leave but will be returning to my job as a hospital manager at a Veterinary hospital sometime after Christmas. I'm extremely passionate about animals and their welfare and have been working in some area of this industry for the past 11 years (...yikes, doesn't feel that long!).

My other passions are cooking, relaxing with my friends and family, football (go Pats!), the environment, wine (oh the wine...), fashion, and good food (oh god the food!!!). I lead a very busy life but it's definitely a happy one! I try to take each day at a time and make an effort to have a cheerful and positive outlook on life.

For as long as I can remember I've had a sort of an obsession with my weight and wanting to be 'healthy'- AKA skinny. For years I yo-yo'd up and down and, like so many others, tried my fair share of quick-fix diets (cookie diet, shakes, etc).
A couple years ago, I met a woman named Carrie Burrows who changed the way I think about health, fitness, and food altogether. She's an amazing woman who owns and operates her own health and fitness company and bootcamp (check her out here). With her help, I started to think about what I was eating in terms of what it did for my body, not how many calories it had. I began to see the value in being strong and fit as opposed to skinny and the value in REAL food, as opposed to ultra low fat, low calorie, super chemical-ized products which had been a large part of my everyday diet in the past.
Sure, I've had my share of setbacks over the last couple years, but in general I believe I'm on the right path to living a healthy life. Having a child did a number on my core strength and ability to exercise as I had before. Since becoming a mother, I've definitely been a slacker in terms of healthy eating and exercise.

So my friends, it's time to get back on that horse, stay on the wagon, and any other cliche phrase to that effect.

So here IT is, my lofty fitness goal: 

I've entered the 2014 Disney Princess Half-Marathon which takes place this coming February. I've got a lot of work to do to reach this goal. Not only am I committed to finishing this race, I am committed to creating and maintaining healthy eating habits starting NOW. 

I expect to have some hard times along the way and I know it won't be easy. However, I know it will be worth it and I plan on having a blast getting there and chronicling my journey! Thanks for joining me :)