Small Changes Equal Big Results

Because it’s the new year, a lot of people are jumping on the health train. As a person who has been doing the healthy thing for a while now, I am always nitpicking at images of what to do and what not to do. There are all kinds of them floating around; the lists of things to cut out, the things to stop doing, the things to start doing. The problem I find with these lists is that they are a massive change for most. They are setting people up to fail. One of my favorite things to tell people is that “small changes equal big results.” You don’t have to change your entire diet to see results. You don’t have to give up EVERYTHING to see change. And you definitely don’t HAVE to take on an entire list of changes all at one time. Start small and start slow. In this post I am going to take the time to dissect a very popular post I’ve seen lately.

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No chips: I can get on board with this one as far as just cutting chips out completely. But if you are a chipaholic, I have a suggestion. Just change the type of chips you eat. Start looking at labels. Hold up a bag of Cheese Doritos next to a bag of organic corn chips and look at the difference. I don’t know exactly what’s in Doritos but I am pretty sure there is a ton of fake stuff, chemicals, and things you and I cannot pronounce. In a bag of organic corn chips there are usually 3 ingredients; corn, salt, and oil.

No potatoes: Another one that I don’t think is the hardest, but again, can just be modified. First, if you eat taters as a side for dinner, how about eating a smaller portion. Eat half a potato rather than a whole one. You could also change the toppings of your potato. You could opt for plain or just a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Instead of going for the loaded tater with butter, sour cream, and bacon, try adding some broccoli and a little sprinkle of cheese. Another suggestion, rather than having a potato as a side dish, only eat the potato with the broccoli on top. Changing your portion sizes will work wonders.

No Ice Cream: A lot of people eat dessert every single day. Stop that! You don’t need dessert every day. Save dessert for special occasions. And I don’t necessarily mean birthday parties, but maybe on a Friday or when you go on a date. Next, stop buying ice cream at the store. If you don’t have it in the house you won’t eat it. I cannot tell you how much that helps me. If I get into one of those moods where all I want to do is eat junk (yes, it happens to me too), it helps that I don’t have junk in the house to eat.  There is also the option to opt for healthier ice cream. One of our favorite frozen treats is frozen bananas, almond or peanut butter, and a splash of yogurt or almond milk, all blended. It isn’t the candy and sugar-filled ice cream you’d get a Baskin Robbins, but it will quench that urge for something sweet and cold.

No Fast Food: Again, just change where and what you’re eating. Stop eating fake meat at McDonalds. If McDonalds is the only thing you have time for, maybe eat one of those chicken wraps without the dressing. Don’t they have salads? Try one of those without the dressing too. But if you have other choices for fast food, opt for a healthier fast food. Chipotle is my absolute favorite. The portion sizes are ginormous, but you don’t have to eat the entire portion. At least if you do it’s something healthier than a quarter pounder, fries, and drink. Another fast option is a grocery store. Tons of them have salad bars or you can grab pieces of a meal from all over the store. One time in a pinch I grabbed a plastic container of mixed greens, a small thing of hummus, a fork, and an avocado. Boom! But if you do decide to cut out fast food, meal prep needs to be your new best friend. That way you don’t have to decide which fast food place to go to, you already have your lunch.

No Fried Food: I don’t really have a load of suggestions for this one. Maybe don’t eat fried food while you’re out. Here’s a good reason why…you’re french fries may be fried in the same oil as the fish sticks. And you have no idea how long that oil has been used and then reheated the next day. So if you’re going to eat something fried, eat it at home and use fresh oil. You can also opt to use a healthier oil like coconut oil. Most of the time the coconut smell and taste is not there so you don’t know you’re not eating the vegetable oil you’re used to.

No Chocolate: 2 words… Dark Chocolate. I know, I know, it doesn’t taste the same and you’re used to milk chocolate or the fake stuff they use in candy bars. Seriously, check labels with this too. Sometimes what you’re eating is chocolate “flavored” and doesn’t really have any chocolate in it. Try dark. Start with something that has a lower percentage of cacao, like 50% rather than 80%. I love the kind that has mint in it as well. What I notice about dark is that I can’t and don’t want to eat a ton of it. A little bite here and there is enough to satisfy the want. So you won’t eat the same amount you’d eat if you choose a Snickers bar.

No White Breads: I agree with this one. Most white breads have no nutritional value; they just taste good. Go for whole wheat or whole grain. There are even breads that have no flour in them at all. Those are the best kind. Just wholesome goodness. Also check labels with your bread. Try to find wheat bread that has no added sugar and has only a handful of ingredients rather than a long list.

No Soda or Juice: I’ll back the giving up soda 100%. I haven’t had soda in 4 years. Stop drinking that poison immediately. You do not need that shit in your body. Maybe instead of giving up both soda and juice, just give up soda. And instead of eliminating juice completely, only drink a glass with breakfast. Start drinking more water. That should really be the number one thing you decide to do. Add more water into your diet. Instead of soda and juice, drink water and tea. Even coffee is better than soda.

No Cakes, Donuts, Cookies, and Candy: I lumped all these together because they are all so similar. The biggest thing in this list is sugar. You don’t need the added sugar. But here’s the thing about this list again, sometimes these items are eaten on a daily basis. That’s where eating certain foods becomes a problem for health. Eating a piece of candy isn’t going to kill you. Eating a handful every time you pass by the candy jar is not a good thing. Eating a cookie won’t kill you. Having 3 with lunch and dinner isn’t great. Eating a donut on a Sunday morning is a fun treat. Eating one for breakfast every day is not good.

The common theme I see in this list is giving up sugar. Once you start reading labels, you will see that there is sugar in almost everything you eat. So I would say that instead of giving up everything on this list, and instead of giving up sugar all together, give up things with ADDED sugar. This means that natural sugars like what you find in fruit or juices and other foods is okay, but try not to eat the foods that add more sugar. Like in bread. When I started buying wheat bread I thought all wheat bread was created equally. Not the case. A decent amount of breads with the words “100% whole wheat” have added sugar. Why? Peanut butter is another one. Even the ones that claim to be the healthy kind still add sugar.

Even if you only take one thing away from this blog post, I hope it’s this… you do not have to give up everything to live a healthier life. You don’t have to give up everything to lose weight either. Just modify. Eat smaller portions. And make small changes. You can still eat the same types of food but with better ingredients. Stop eating fake stuff. Read labels. Make better choices one small step at a time. “Small changes equal big results.”

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I ate Vegan and Survived! YTT Part 2

When I started getting more into yoga, I started to follow a lot of yogis on IG. I quickly noticed that a good number of them were vegan but I never understood why. I thought it was kind of like Crossfit and Paleo, they just go together. It sort of is that way but there is a little more to it. I didn’t understand it until I went to the ashram.

When I found out that I was going to be eating vegan for about a month during my yoga teaching training I was super excited. I’ve never gone that long without eating meat or dairy and I was very interested in what it would do for my body. I suffer from acne so I thought this would be an awesome test to see if that would change. I normally eat a LOT of chicken so I wondered what would happen if I stopped eating it. And then just in general, how would I feel?

The first 2 days I was gone I had terrible headaches. That was the detox period. After that, smooth sailing, easy peasy! The easiest part was that someone was cooking for me and I didn’t have a choice in what I was eating. But if I had to say anything negative, and believe me this isn’t even really negative but I figure I have to have a down with my ups, it would be that I didn’t have a choice, LOL! There were a handful of days that we had the same food and that just got a little boring. But I ate it, and I was never hungry, so really not so much negative, just something that wasn’t 100% positive.

The acne didn’t go away. Actually, it got worse. This could be for a couple of reasons. One, I was surrounded by women the entire time and that meant hormone disruption the entire time I was gone. That said, I was getting zits in places on my face I don’t usually get them, so I don’t think it was all hormonal. Two, it could have been detoxing, stuff coming out, but I don’t think it should have lasted the whole time I was gone. So I am going to say that dairy does not have an effect on my skin. I think it’s time to see a dermatologist.

When I would tell people I was going to eat vegan, the number one response was, “You’re going to lose weight.” I sure didn’t want to. But I was interested to see what would happen so I took some measurements before I left. The only thing to really note here is that the two weeks before I was at the ashram were go crazy eating weeks. I was in California, I went to Disneyland where they have the best churros ever, and I wasn’t eating as clean as I normally do. So I started out about 5-7 pounds heavier than normal. So when I got home from the ashram here’s what happened weight/size/feeling wise. I felt bigger. I felt bloated the whole time I was gone. My clothes (yoga pants) still fit for the most part, but you could see it in my face. I actually had a friend tell me she’s never seen my face that round before. I did lose weight though, sort of. I lost the extra weight I had gained prior to going but nothing more. I was eating fabulous food, but I was eating a SHIT LOAD of carbs. My body is not used to that. So I think that is where the “side effects” came from. When I got home and went back to eating less carbs, the weight in my face fell off! The same friend who saw me and said my face was round saw me only a week later and said I was back to usual. Other people who see me regularly said I didn’t look like I had lost weight but I looked more toned. That surprised me because I wasn’t exercising like I usually do.

So to sum up, I learned that my brand of acne is not from food, and I should continue eating minimal carbs so I don’t feel bloated. But other than that, vegan eating was awesome! Oh, and the part about yogis being vegan? It all comes back to Ahimsa, non-harming/non-violence, the first of the Yamas and Niyamas, aka Yoga Rules. To sum that up without going into great detail. don’t kill anything, which would include animals for your food. Pretty basic stuff.

You’re probably waiting for some photos. So here are a couple of my favorite meals!!

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On the left is a frittata made with chickpea flour. Soooooooooo effing delicious!! On the right is a 3-bean salad. Also major yum! But really, that frittata!

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I have absolutely no idea what is in that patty, but it tasted like a burger and was amazing!

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Quinoa stuffed zucchini! This is something I would normally do at home already so it was great!

 

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MEXICAN FOOD!!!! Beans and spanish quinoa! YASSSSSS!!!!!

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Something I NEVER thought I would eat…palm hearts and okra with green beans. Delicious! Just weird because it was very new.

The next photo is the thing we ate, in my opinion, too often. Mung beans in various forms. If I never eat this yellow bean again I will be okay. I get it, it’s quick and it can be mass produced for a large group, but it wasn’t my favorite.

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The day I rebelled and decided to eat whatever I wanted was day 21. It wasn’t because I missed meat, it wasn’t because I was craving meat or dairy, I was just wanting something different. And so breakfast at a diner was the way to go! And I did it right! Eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, toast, and pancakes. And I ate it all!!!!!

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Since being home, a couple things have happened. At first, I went back to eating like I normally did. Clean and healthy, meat, low carb. And I felt just fine. No adverse effects from adding meat back into my diet. But as of a little over a week ago, my family and I are now vegan/vegetarian. It wasn’t just the ashram that made us make the change, I will blog about all that separately, but living it for a month helped sway me for sure. #ChangeIsGood!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Lately, I have had a lot of people ask me for my cauliflower pizza crust recipe. I blogged it a long time ago in my Facebook Notes but I have since made adjustments and perfected it so I thought I would share again. Here goes…

Ingredients:
2 large heads of cauliflower (this will make a square the size of a cookie sheet)
2 large eggs
Italian seasonings
Olive Oil
4 cups mozzarella cheese
Pizza toppings of choice
Cookie sheet
Large mixing bowl

Directions:
-Pre-cook any raw toppings like chicken. Set aside.
-Preheat oven to 450.
-Rice cauliflower and place in a large glass bowl. *To rice the cauliflower either pulse chunks in a food processor, or grate chunks on a cheese grater. I prefer the grater. The end result should look like rice. It’s okay if you have a few bigger pieces.
-Place riced cauliflower in the microwave on high for 6 minutes. DO NOT add any water.
-Once cauliflower is cooked, add eggs, Italian seasonings, and 2 cups (or 2 handfuls) of cheese, and stir until mixed.
-Coat cookie sheet with olive oil
-Pour cauliflower mixture onto the cookie sheet and flatten out.
-Cook crust for approx 15 minutes. Crust will be firm in the middle. Edges may look slightly burned and that’s okay.
-Once crust is done, let sit for 10 minutes while you prep the toppings. Turn oven off.
-Add desired toppings to crust (this includes the other 2 cups of mozzarella cheese)
-BROIL pizza for approx 3 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly.
-Cut and serve with a fork.

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I have used this same recipe to make “breadsticks” to dip into marinara or to have as a side with spaghetti, or spaghetti squash if you want to go super low carb.

I have also used this same basic recipe to make cauliflower “tortillas”. You just change the seasonings to Mexican style, add lime juice, and cilantro, skip the cheese, and flip mid way through the baking. I haven’t quite mastered those yet but I haven’t made them as many times as the pizza crust.

Enjoy!!

My Health Journey: Progress Report

I am writing this post for a few reasons. I am going to explain why I don’t ever weigh myself (except for this morning for the purpose of this post). I am going to tell you what exactly I do on my journey. And I am going to explain why I think being healthy doesn’t work out for everyone. Here we go.

If you follow me you know that this journey started out about weight loss and morphed into all around health. I used to think that weighing less meant I was healthy. Boy, was I wrong. In this first photo, taken on January 5, 2013, I was 128 pounds and wearing a size 6 pants. This was the first time I had ever felt thin.

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What was I doing to be this size? I shall tell you. I was eating lower carb; Not cutting carbs totally but not stuffing my face with sandwiches everyday either. I was running about 4 times a week. I ate sugar on occasion. I was drinking diet sodas. I did not pay attention to the types of food I was eating as far as ingredients.

I am not going to share a bunch of in between photos but lets just say that I fell off the wagon. I went back to eating whatever I wanted. But I was still running. So why did I gain all the weight back? I didn’t realize the impact of putting “shit” into my body. I thought I could run the carbs away. I had the mentality of, “I’ll just run an extra mile to make up for the Oreos.” I wasn’t thin and I definitely wasn’t healthy.

In 2015 my husband and I read the book “The Wild Diet” by Abel James and really learned a lot about what we were putting in our bodies. We cleared out our kitchen and pretty much started from scratch. We started eating clean. No more artificial ingredients. No added sugar (meaning, only naturally occurring sugar like in fruit). No white flour. No shit. We started shopping in the healthy section of the store. Why is there a healthy section? What the hell are they selling in the rest of the store? We started shopping at Whole Paycheck for specific items. No alcohol. And no soda.

I also started going to an exercise class at least once a week, was working out on my own at home, and doing yoga. I wasn’t running anymore because of the area we live in (no sidewalks).

Today, January 4, 2017, (almost to the day of that first photo which was totally by coincidence) here’s what I do. First, I still eat clean about 90% of the time. That 10% is saved for fun stuff because I still like to live and have fun, and I like dessert (like having a donut on New Years). I still shop in the healthy section and frequent Whole Foods. I still eat very low carb. I do eat bread but it’s healthy bread; no white flour, no sugar, and no artificial ingredients. I eat a lot of organic foods. I pay attention to ingredients!! If I buy mac n cheese it’s the expensive kind with 5 ingredients rather than 20 (seriously, I’ve counted and it’s insane). Speaking of ingredients, I still love to eat peanut butter but buy the 365 brand at WF that is only peanuts with a pinch of salt. Try eating Jif or Skippy after eating real peanut butter for a while. It’s HORRIBLE!!!!! I eat a TON of vegetables; broccoli, brussells, spinach, zucchini…the good green stuff. I don’t buy things with sugar like cookies; I only indulge if we’re out somewhere and decide to have ice cream, or if I’m at a birthday party and there’s cake because… cake. I go to exercise class 2 days a week where we use weights and do full body exercising, I exercise at home, and I do yoga almost every day. I very rarely drink. I enjoy mimosas but save those for special occasions. I gave up beer for about 2 years and just recently started having one if we are out with friends (which is rare). I get good sleep. I am usually in bed by 830pm. It’s amazing how much that helps. And the big one, I do NOT drink soda. I haven’t had a soda in just over 3 years. (You can read my post about that HERE)

So back to the beginning with the photo, 128lbs and size 6 jeans. Now here’s me on December 21st, 2016 wearing size 2 jeans and weighing 135lbs.

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Wait, what? I weigh more but wear 2 sizes smaller? How does that even make sense? It’s really insane. I really can’t even explain the feels from this. Which brings me to why I think people have a hard time getting healthy.

One, they focus on numbers on a scale. You really can’t do that. You have to be able to FEEL. If you feel good, keep going! If you feel like crap, makes some changes. Don’t obsess about what you weigh. Side story, the last time I weighed myself was at a physical a year ago. I weighed 130lbs and since I’m short, my BMI was 25. According to the super outdated BMI scale, I was overweight and had to be given a piece of paper with websites about weight loss. Wonder what my BMI would be today?

Two, you have to have a strong will. You can’t let yourself give up. You can’t let people push you into eating unhealthy which is extremely hard. People who don’t understand your journey will ALWAYS question what you’re doing and try to persuade you to go back to the old ways. “It’s just one cookie. It’s just one beer.” My most/least favorite phrase uttered by friends, “I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t do it. I am just going to try to be happy with where I’m at.”

Which brings me to three, you have to want it. You can’t eat healthy in January and slack off all year until next January. You can’t give up soda and then decide to go right back to drinking it. You can’t say you’re going to eat clean and then scarf burritos every day. Yes, you’re sacrificing, but you won’t always see it that way. What you will see though, is results. You will not only fit into your clothes better, you will FEEL better. And the best thing that comes out of all this? You will be here on this Earth a lot longer.

So what’s next for me? I’m definitely not at the end of this journey. There are all kinds of paths I plan to journey down. My first turn is down the road of muscles. In class I use 10lb weights and I am finding that they are getting lighter with some of the moves. I also watched the Rousey fight the other night and might have gotten a bit excited by how strong that woman is. The next day I bought heavier weights. I will now use 15lbs in class (for just a couple things with the 10’s on standby for others) and 25lbs for a few things at home.

Here’s me today, day 1 down Muscle Road.

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Because it’s me and I have to critique the photo, I feel like I have to say that the angle is terrible when you look at my legs. My legs are not that skinny. I still have big, meaty calves.

And of course I will continue down Yoga Lane. I’m thinking that flopping between Muscle Road and Yoga Lane is going to do wonders for arm balances.

If you’re ever interested in starting a journey like mine and need some advice, guidance, or encouraging words, email me, message me on IG, comment on here. I also admin a healthy group on Facebook (the same one that started as a weight loss group early in my journey has also morphed just like it’s members) and we’re always open to fresh meat. 😉

Butter Blog

One of the cool, fun, and interesting things about clean eating is learning WHERE your food comes from and HOW it’s made. Just this weekend we “harvested” a duck for dinner. We now know where the food came from (a friend with a farm), what it ate (whatever it could get by foraging in the open yard), how it was slaughtered (I won’t go into details but we did this ourselves), and how it had to be prepared to be cooked and served. We did EVERYTHING!! That’s pretty neat. But this blog isn’t about the duck.

One of the things we eat a lot of is butter. But what exactly is butter? Once you know, it won’t seem bad like some people have made it out to be. We used to eat margarine and then we found out that it’s made with oil and sometimes things that resemble plastic. Did you know that someone invented margarine as a food to help fatten up turkeys? First, key word INVENTED. We really shouldn’t be eating things that are invented. Second, if it was used to FATTEN up anything I don’t want it. So a while ago we switched to real butter. If I buy butter I get salted butter and it’s only ingredients are cream and salt. But how does the cream become butter? And why add salt? That’s why I’m here! I’m going to take you step by step through the super fun (and kind of exhausting) process of making your own butter (it’s only exhausting on your arm muscles but hey, workout and make butter. Win win!!)

I’ll answer the why add salt question first. Have you ever eaten unsalted butter? It’s gross. That’s why you add salt. End of story.

When we started eating clean and learning about where food comes we decided to try to make our own butter. We just googled it and tried it. This blog is basically that except I’ll go into better detail with photos.

First you need heavy cream, not whipping cream. What’s the difference? Heavy cream is, you guessed it, heavier. It has about 35% milk fat while the whipping cream has only about 30%.  Heavy cream, a mason jar, salt, paper towels, a plastic container, and your muscles!  Let’s do it!

Take your cream out of the fridge about an hour before you are going to start. The outside of the container won’t be cold to the touch. Not warm, but not cold. Okay, it’s ready.

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Start by adding your cream to your mason jar. Fill it only about half way because the cream is going to get thicker and it needs room to expand.

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Tighten the lid and start shaking. You’re going to shake about 2 minutes or until your cream is solid and it feels like you can’t shake it anymore.

From the outside it will look like this…

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If you open the lid it will look like this…

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Put the lid back on and continue shaking. This is really the worst part because it will feel like you are shaking a solid and that you are making no progress. I promise, you’re doing it right. About another 2 minutes later the solid will feel like it is moving again. See the difference?

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Keep shaking until there is liquid in the jar again. There will be a little ball of butter and buttermilk.

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Once you hear the liquid, shake for maybe 15 more seconds. Don’t overdo it.

Now, open your jar and rinse the butter. Pour out the buttermilk (or save it for pancakes or something. I can’t tell you about that because I’ve never done it) and rinse the butter with cold water, swishing it around, until the water runs clear. It’s totally normal for little pieces of butter to come out into the sink. (Like the little piece floating on the top in the next photo).

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Once the water is clear, pour it out and put the butter into a couple paper towels and squeeze out all the water. Use more paper towels if you need to.

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When it feels dry, plop it down into the plastic container. Cover it and start back at the top until you’re out of cream. This pint of cream took me 4 repeats. I was beat when I was done, lol. Usually my husband is making butter with me so the work is split. I did this alone and I had jello arms when I was done. The very first time we did it, my daughter helped too but wimped out at the shaking the solid step. But I definitely recommend this as a family project.

Once you are done and have balls of butter, use a spoon and mush it up.

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If there is any excess water, soak it up with another napkin. You don’t want any liquid. The liquid is not BAD, but if it sits in there too long it will make your butter rotten (think milk sitting on something it doesn’t belong on).

Add your salt, a couple turns of the the grinder, mix it up, and put it in the fridge. Or make some toast and try it out. MMMMM!!!!!!

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ENJOY!!!

 

 

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