Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Beginnings!

Hi guys!!

I'm really excited to share this news with you buuuut instead of me rambling on, I'll let you check it out for yourself! 

P.s. true story: I went to hit publish before I even gave you the link. Sometimes I'm amazed that I can manage to get through the day...good thing I remembered last minute so here it is :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New Changes to Come!

So this is something that I've been thinking about lately but I feel as though the direction that I originally intended for this blog has sorta changed. It's just that when I started it, I didn't really have much of a plan and was just going to go with the flow and see what happened. Basically the story of my life! 

Well, now I have a clearer idea of what I want to do with this blog and the core message. With that being said, I'll be working on making some changes which means I'll most likely be off for a bit working on it! 

This is really nothing drastic and not much will really change about this blog in terms of what I write but more along the lines of re-creating my mission statement, I guess? I can't really explain it I just wanted to give you a heads up that you'll probably see some changes within a week or so :)

P.s. hint: I've already changed my Instagram name. It's a pretty big indicator of what's a-comin'! 

I Forgot About the Ice Cream Sandwiches

I had an epiphany this weekend. It might sound silly and really random at first but bear with me. It was a moment where I could actually pinpoint just how much things had changed for me, and in the best way!

For the whole story to make sense, I should back track to last weekend. While at Target, me and Amanda picked up some ice cream sandwiches. I admit, I had an instant twinge of anxiety when Amanda suggested getting them because I didn't know yet if I was ready to have them in the house. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to control myself around them, and that it would send me backwards.

Let me back track even further. Ice cream sandwiches are my weakness. They always have been and always will. I absolutely love them and usually have to eat two because I can't just stop at one. Even before my struggles with food I had this problem! I don't know what it is about them but I lose all self control and devour them. Not even the fancy kind. No, I don't want any of those chocolate chip cookie ones or skinny cows. Nope, nope, nope. I'm talking the plain and simple regular old ice cream sandwiches. You know the kind with the two chocolate rectangles and vanilla in the middle? Yep, only those.

Now, back to last weekend. I was hesitant but I was proud and didn't want to say that I was scared in front of Amanda. So we bought them and I decided that I would have to face my fear of them eventually.

And guess what?

By the next day, I honestly and legitimately forgot we even bought them!

Still sound strange? Let me explain. If I had gotten these during the time I was still depriving myself, those babies would be on my mind 24/7 that's all I would think about and how I couldn't have them. Now, I hardly ever have those urges with food.

It's simply because I've slowly allowed myself access to those foods. I didn't do it all at once because that would've been a nightmare, and there were times where I probably took on foods that I wasn't ready for a.k.a. a carton of cookies n' cream fro yo. I had to do it slowly and one at a time by picking a food that I had deprived myself from because if I did it too fast, I would trigger a binge.

When I think now to the foods that I have in my house, it's pretty miraculous for me. Foods that used to be huge fear foods for me but now I'm able to enjoy them! I have golden Oreos, mini Oreos, mini Rolos, ice cream sandwiches, vanilla frozen yogurt, graham crackers, pumpkin custard, 6 flavors of peanut butter (#jifwhipsforlife lolz), pretzels, sweet potato chips, and vanilla cupcake goldfish grahams. I actually didn't realize all that I had until I sat here and listed them all out but I'm not embarrassed at all. For some people they might cringe at the thought of all that "processed unclean" foods buuuut I don't prefer to label foods anymore, and simply balance it all out!

I think it's perfectly fine to eat those foods because I make sure to take care of my body. Yesterday I had part of an ice cream sandwich, peanut butter and 2 mini Oreos but I also had a banana, egg white omelette, carrots and hummus, rice cakes, greek yogurt, chicken, and a fresh salad. Even with the "unclean" foods I still hit my macros spot on, down to the gram.

The funny thing is my cousin was over the other day and she said "wow, your pantry actually looks back to normal now." For so long, I didn't allow things like Oreos, peanut butter, or cartons of frozen yogurt in the house because I was afraid of them. I was afraid of triggering a binge and I didn't want those feelings of guilt, shame, self-disgust to consume me. They'd come one way or another but I thought for so long that keeping those foods at bay would solve the problem.

But it won't. The problem is not the food, it never has and it never will be. The problem was with myself and my perception of food. That is a mental change that takes time and patience.

If I'm at the point where I can keep ice cream sandwiches in the house without the need to eat the entire box, I'm in a pretty good place at the moment. I never would have thought I could have gotten to that point because believe me there were times when I tried to overcome those triggers and failed miserably.

I even ate only half of an ice cream sandwich yesterday, which would've been unthinkable to me before now! This is where I'm thankful for IIFYM because I wanted an ice cream sandwich but couldn't have a whole one. So I asked my mom if she wanted to split one because I could fit half of one in my macros. I was able to balance out my cravings and my macros. I ate my half and was happy! It was all I needed and then I went about the rest of my afternoon. Without zero feelings of guilt, I might add :)

This is what I've been striving for the whole past year and a half. To be able to enjoy the things I love guilt-free and balance it out with taking care of my body. I want my nutrition and fitness to compliment one another and to work together as a process to make me the best version I can be.

One is not meant to cancel out the other. Don't try to out-do a bad diet with crazy amounts of exercise or deprive yourself because you didn't work out that day. It should be a balanced cycle of fueling your body for the workouts you love or just simply having a day to enjoy yourself free of tracking because you know that you're active enough all the other days.

That is the life I want to live. My end goal is to switch to intuitive eating. When I get to that point where I can listen to my body and know what it needs. I honestly mean it when I say that I look forward to the day where I can delete the myfitnesspal app off my phone. Realistically, I probably won't be ready for at least another year but I'm perfectly fine with that.

I'm taking my own sweet time because it's not a race for me. I'm looking at the long term and big picture because I'm healing myself now so that I'll be balanced for the rest of my life. I mean it when I say that this is a journey for me. I'm in no rush because I want to do it the right way, and I only want to have to do it once. I don't want to force myself to take on things that I'm not ready for, and risk being unstable through the process so that I'd need a re-do.

So, I just wanted to share this because it was a tangible moment where I could measure how far I am compared to this time last year. Other signs that I've noticed is that I am legitimately looking forward to the food on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm not afraid of facing all those foods, and I'm not depriving myself anymore. It'll be the first time in three years that I'll actually be able to enjoy my favorite foods in moderation all while celebrating and appreciating time spent with those I love best. The only thing I can say is God is good and my prayers for healing are being answered!

I hope everyone has a wonderful day! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Finding Your Running Shoe Solemate

Guess what this past Saturday was?! You guessed it, another long run! I know, I'm pretty predictable :)

But this was an extra special long run because I finally got to break in my new running kicks. I absolutely love getting new running shoes, I'm a weirdo like that. You can also tell I'm a runner because my running shoes are my most expensive shoes and actually cost me more than $30. Tell me to spend $120 on boots and I'll laugh at you but I won't give it a second thought to get my hands on a pair of new Asics! 

You might be laughing at me right now for spending $120 on running shoes but trust me when I say I won't be laughing when the shin and knee pain kick in if I skimp on quality and go for a cheaper shoe. Talk to any running expert and they will tell you that shoes are key! Price does not matter if you want to spare your joints the pain and actually preserve your body.

And since my goal is to be a runner for life, no joke I'm gonna be one of those little old ladies you see kicking butt in marathons, I happily invest the money in my shoes.  

First, a quick disclaimer: just because these shoes work for me, DOES NOT mean they will also work for you! If you're looking for good quality running shoes, I highly recommend going to a specialty running store where the people there know what they're talking about. I personally have gone to general sporting goods stores to look at shoes and have not found it to be the best experience. 

With that in mind, I go to Elite Runners and Walkers which is about a half hour drive from my house. The staff there are extremely knowledgeable and runners themselves. I always get great quality service and they keep my shoe type and size on file so I can just go in and pick up a new pair whenever I need one.

So shiny and new :)

I absolutely love, love Asics and will always recommend them as the first brand for people to try. I'm a bit biased because I've been sticking with this brand since my high school cross country days. For the past three years, I've worn the GT 2000 series and have nothing but love for them! 

Of course, I'll admit that they're not the ONLY great brand of running shoes. They're just the best brand for me! Everyone is different though, and it can take some time to figure out which shoes are best for you. 

With that being said, here are some general things to keep in mind while looking around for running shoes: 

1. Does the store specialize in running? (obvious, but still)

2. What kind of brands of shoes does the store offer?
Yes, they are going to be expensive but you want to make sure they have the high quality brands. We're talking Asics, Brooks, Saucony, etc. 

3. Will the store do an evaluation? 
This is key and will let you know the quality of the store. When I first went to Elite, the guy helping me out had me first run on a treadmill to establish my natural gait. He then brought out several, and I mean several, pairs of shoes to figure out which ones worked best for me. I then had to run a few laps in each one so that again he could assess how I was running in them and how they felt on. 

4. If you're a newbie at running, take someone with you who is more experienced.
They'll be able to help you out with their opinion and guide you through the process. 

5. Creep on some conversations! 
I know, I have no shame. This past weekend while I was waiting to pick up my shoes, I listened to what some of the staff were saying. This one girl on staff was explaining to a customer about shin pain and increasing mileage too quickly. I already knew what they were talking about but still you never know what you might pick up!

6. If you don't want to take the creepy route then just ask! 
We all start somewhere so who cares if you have a lot of beginner's questions. I can guarantee that we all had them when we started out, too!

7. Make sure it fits right
This kinda goes along with the evaluation part because whoever is helping you should tell you what to look for in the fit of the shoe. Ideally, you want to make sure that when you have the shoe on that it doesn't feel like anything is on your foot. What I mean by that is you don't want it to feel lumpy or hard in certain places. When I first went, the guy helping me really wanted me to try out Sauconys because of my gait and how I needed extra inside support. I was adamant, though, on not getting them because it felt like I had a rock underneath the arch of my foot. He was surprised because based off the structure of my foot and the way I run, it should've been a great match for me. But it wasn't and I was much, much happier with my Asics. It just goes to show that what may work in theory is entirely different in practice!

8. Don't assume that a single brand will always work for you. 
I made this stupid mistake the last time I got shoes, even though I've been doing this for about four years now. I usually get the Asics GT 2000 series but when I needed new ones, they were out! Amanda had gone to get her shoes so I wasn't there, she was just going to pick up my regular ones. She ended up bringing me back the 3000 series since we figured they had to be close enough, right? They were still Asics and still the GT series. WRONG. Within one week, my feet ached, my toes were killing me, and I had major blisters in new places that my shoe didn't typically rub. Luckily, I was able to exchange them for my usual 2000s once they stocked up. I learned my lesson! I always call to see that they have my shoes before I make the drive out.

9. With number 8 in mind, don't be afraid to branch out if a shoe no longer works for you. 
It happens. Our bodies can change and eventually you might require different shoes. There are also different styles and brands that might adapt or change, and if you don't give them a shot you might never know if they work better for you than the shoes you have now. You never know unless you try! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Overnight Oreo "Pudding"

I discovered this on accident. But I'm obsessed now! 

I always pack my lunch the night before and I wanted to add some mini Oreos to my greek yogurt because I mean why not? Oreos make everything better. 

So I crumbled three mini Oreos into my greek yogurt and left it in the fridge overnight. When I went to eat it at work the next day, I first thought "ugh, I wasn't thinking when I put the Oreos in last night. I bet they're soggy and gross now." 


Guys, it tasted just like Oreo pudding! I mixed up the yogurt better and the Oreos had broken up even more overnight and kinda soaked up the yogurt like what happens with overnight oats. It tasted amazing!!

The best part? It's loaded with protein from the greek yogurt. Plus it's simple and includes Oreos. What more could you want in a food?! 

If you're a fan of Oreos, you seriously need to try this out! 

It's really easy. All I did was mix 8oz of plain greek yogurt that was sweetened with a bit of stevia, and added 3 mini Oreos. I also did 7oz of yogurt with 2 mini Oreos yesterday and that proportion worked well too! It's just enough Oreo to distribute evenly throughout the yogurt. 

I let mine sit overnight so it probably gets a good 8-12 hours before I eat it the next day. 

Enjoy and Happy Friday! :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Move Over Panera! Homemade Pesto Vegetable Soup is Here!

Wow, it has taken me forever to get this post up! It just got pushed back along the queue and I forgot about it...oops. This is the perfect example of the kind of stuff that Amanda has to deal with my memory being terrible and it drives her crazy!

It doesn't bother me in the slightest that 95% of the time I'm forgetting something but I can't believe it literally took me almost two weeks to get this post up. I'm also behind on emails which I'm going to do my best to get to those tonight! Grad school applications are taking up a lot more of my time than I anticipated, yikeeees.

Anyway, fall soups are my specialty and I love, love, love using the crock pot to make them! It's easy, simple, and very hands off. I just throw all the soup ingredients into the crock pot and leave it sit for a few hours. I swear something magical happens in the crock pot because the taste is always so much better than if I were to make it in a giant pot on the stove.

I decided to make my own version of pesto vegetable soup. I wouldn't call it a copy-cat because I didn't model it to taste exactly like the one you would find at Panera. I wanted to make my own homemade version and not to boast or anything, but I prefer this batch to Panera's :)

For the soup you'll need:
3 small-medium yellow squash
3 small-medium zucchini
1 15oz can of red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 bag of baby spinach
2 32oz containers of vegetable stock
4 medium sweet potatoes
8 large carrots
1/4 cup pesto

The spices I used I did to taste but they included: salt, black pepper, roasted garlic herb mix, dried basil, dried parsley, and fresh garlic.

I used all organic ingredients but that's not necessary at all. 

Also, can we talk about how cool these carrots are?! I got this bag from Trader Joe's because yes there were purple carrots and that's all I cared about. They're naturally tri-colored so there were orange, purple, and yellow/white ones. I wanted the soup to be nice and colorful so I picked out the pretty carrots!

Put everything in the crock pot, minus the spinach and pesto, and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-10 depending on when you put it in. I didn't start making it until after lunch so I cooked it on high to make it go faster. 

I added the spinach about an hour before the soup was supposed to be done. I didn't want it to get too cooked down in the soup. I also added the pesto at this time and checked again for the spices and probably added in some extra again as well. 

I'm terrible with keeping track of measuring out spices since I just do it all to taste. I checked on the soup about every hour to see how it was cooking, and probably added in spices as I went when I thought they were necessary. 

Ok, so I have this cheesy joke that I have to share but it cracks me up every time. Whenever I go to open the arugula (which is like every night at dinner) I say to my mom and sister "Watch out, guys, you better stand back because the arugula is a little wild tonight" ahahaha I crack myself up! I told you it was cheesy, and Amanda just rolls her eyes at me as I giggle every single time at my own joke. 

I ate my soup with a grilled chicken hummus wrap, and it was the perfect combination! 

Oh, I almost forgot! The macros--
Per cup (makes 18):
88 calories
14g carbs
2g fat
3g protein

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Typical Rest Day Sunday

I fully believe that rest days are crucial, and there was a time where I used to hate, hate, hate taking them! Basically, all due to anxieties in my head. But now I look forward to them and don't think I could survive the week without one. 

That's not to say that I don't do anything productive on my rest days, though. Let's not forget that I have an 11-month old puppy which means that there's not always a lot of rest going on, especially if she's in hyper mode. 

So I usually like to take her for nice long walks on Sunday afternoons, given that the weather is nice. Last Sunday we went for about an hour and a half walk around our neighborhood. Sometimes I take her to the park or woods to do some trails but often times it'll just be around our neighborhood. 

Also, important side note: Layla's older half-sister Lola spent the weekend with us! 

This is what I got to come home to on Sunday after church, who doesn't want a double dose of doggy greetings?!

I mean, come on look at that face! Yeah she was clearly done with all my picture-taking but you can't deny that cute looks obviously run in the fam with her and Layla :)

It was literally the perfect fall day! All I needed was my puffy vest and some gloves to stay warm. 

The leaves were absolutely beautiful and it was so peaceful to just walk along together and enjoy the scenery. 

We also started family game night! It might sound silly to some people but board games like this really help my mom with therapy. It involves a lot of steps with her spinning the wheel, moving her car along the correct number of spaces, making decisions like what kind of house or job she wants. She also had to count out her own money, and do simple math. While she was in in-patient therapy, they actually played a lot of board games or card games. Things that might seem inconsequential but really are beneficial while recovering. Plus, it's just a great activity to get her involved and away from just watching the tv. 

Someone else wanted to join in on family game night. She couldn't sit exactly on my lap so she settled for simply having her front half up so she could "help". I know what you're thinking but no, she's not spoiled at alllll...

Guys, I couldn't help it. She's just too cute sometimes! Although she knows that she's not allowed up like this if we're eating. Also please excuse my expression, I clearly was not ready for this picture. You gotta be able to laugh at yourself, though! The important part is that Layla is cute and camera always. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Today Is Beautiful

As I was working on another post, the song "Today Is Beautiful" came on my Spotify, and as I listened to the lyrics a completely different post came to mind. So I abandoned my post about the vegetable soup from last weekend (I promise I'll get it up soon!), and wanted to share something important that I've noticed over the past couple weeks.

I can't explain what's happened but something has slowly just clicked into place. Like everything and I can't pinpoint when it exactly happened but this morning after my run I thought "I've been in a really good mood the past couple weeks". I consider myself a pretty happy and upbeat person but I have those days just like anyone else where I'm annoyed, nothing seems to be going right, or I'm cranky (God help my mom and sister on those days!). I've been told that when I'm cranky, I'm an absolute bear. It's something that I try to work on but I admit, it often gets the best of me! 

Anyway, I started to notice the change the past couple weeks and then my coach, the amazing Katie from katiesfitscript :) made a post this week about her change in perspective. As I watched her video, I was like "aha! that's what it is, it's been a change in my perspective!". So how did this happen to me?!

A couple weeks ago, God laid a truth upon my heart. In my Bible study, the lecture leader said something that really hit me hard. In times of struggle, uncertainty, trials, temptations, whatever you might be going through, instead of asking God "how can I get out of this?", I should be asking "what can I get out of this?".  I immediately felt convicted because I always go with the first option, and will often complain about less desirable circumstances as they come up in my life.

It was a wake up call and something that I wanted to start working on. I began to feel a shift as I started looking more at the big picture. Once that happened things just starting sliding more into place. Applying to grad school, being comfortable with my body, finding greater balance with food, my relationships with the people in my life, and my faith in God and His plan for me.

For awhile now, I've been focusing on only what's in front of me and I think it began to have a negative impact on my life because I was being selfish and caught up in my own world.  I would get stressed about silly little things that are just so insignificant when looking at the big picture. Things like last minute changes in my work schedule, when people would take the machine I needed at the gym, or the stats on my posts. I mean things that really don't matter at all.

So I gave it all to God and tried to see what I could get out of the past two weeks. And let me tell you: I've never had such peace in my life.

I've never felt so comfortable with my body and who I am. I've never felt as sure as I do now of the next step I need to take for my future. I've never felt so much love from the people in my life. I've never felt such strong faith in God and trust in His plan.

As I've started investing in the people in my life and pouring out some of the love and healing God has given me, I've been receiving even more back. I'm not even kidding that once I gave up thinking about how many people read my posts or how many followers, then things started sliding into place. I had women reaching out to me, both readers and in my life. It's been such a blessing to make those meaningful connections and I can't thank God enough for this change in perspective.

I feel as though I completely rambled during this post because I was just kinda winging this as I went. But I hope that it makes sense because the point is I started looking at the big picture in whatever I might be facing-- the "what" that I can get out of the circumstances. We all go through different things in life, both struggles and triumphs, but our attitude is what determines whether or not we learn something from them.

I'm in the process of applying to grad school and yeah it's time-consuming and definitely not my favorite thing. But, looking at big picture I want to do it because I've felt a calling, and I want to give back to others. I want to help women who have gone through similar things as me so the more important thing is being able to invest in others and give back love, it doesn't matter that I don't like the application process. It's not about seeing what's in front of me, but what God sees for me.

So, no matter what I might be going through, I'm going to try to look at the big picture: today is beautiful. I am alive, healthy, loved, and God has a plan for us all. I lost sight of that and allowed myself to get derailed and mixed up in the insignificant things. God has used the past couple weeks to teach me a valuable lesson, and I wanted to share because it has greatly impacted my life for the best.

Here's the song that I was telling you guys about and if you listen to it, please listen closely to the lyrics because it's a pretty powerful message:

<3 with love,

Friday, November 7, 2014

More Updates: Halloween Weekend!

I know this post is a little late but I was pretty excited this Halloween because it was the first time in three years that I was actually able to enjoy all the treats and candies that come with this holiday. Halloween in 2012 and 2013 were not happy times because both years I was afraid of eating the candy-- one year of gaining weight and the second a trigger for a binge. 

However, this year was different! I was actually looking forward to being able to enjoy a couple pieces of candy here and there. I even survived a Halloween party at my office where coworkers brought in treats. I did my best with guesstimating and was able to eat a lot of the foods! It felt amazing to not feel deprived, restricted, or have any anxiety over what I was eating. 

I guesstimated for the party because I didn't want to pass up enjoying myself! I didn't go overboard but I was able to have a little bit of everything: coffee cake, some chips and salsa, mini brownie, half a sugar cookie and a thumbprint cookie. I just cut off the portion size that I needed and was able to stay on track! 

It was also helpful that the day before the party, we all sat down and talked about what we would make so that no one was bringing the same stuff. This was great for me because I knew what would be there and was able to plan my macros for the day ahead. If not, I was just planning to leave a lot of wiggle room especially with carbs and fats. 

If you're not able to sit down and plan it out like we did, something else I would do is to ask my closer coworkers what they are bringing so I could at least plan to have a little something of that. The rest I would have to leave up to chance and fit in as I went. My office is pretty small and there were only 5 of us so I was able to fit in a little bit of everything since it wasn't a ton of food. 

So the party was a success and big step for me because often times it can still be hard when I have to guesstimate. When I first heard the words "Halloween party" I felt that instant and familiar pang of anxiety-- what am I going to do?! But then I took a step back and reminded myself that this is life and I wanted to enjoy myself and the food. 

I then took a deep breath and started planning my macros and it ended up being a lot easier than I thought. I hardly had to make any huge changes to my usual meals so I didn't feel like I had to hoard all my macros for the party then not be able to eat for the rest of the day. I could even fit in my regular protein pancakes after dinner. And any day you can fit two cookies and protein pancakes is the optimal situation in my opinion!

We had the party on Thursday (a couple people had Friday off) and then on Friday I took my little cousins trick-or-treating. This was another step because I was yet again going to be around a ton of candies, and had to learn how to deal with that. Of course, I had some things planned in my macros and was able to enjoy a Reese's pumpkin, mini twix, and mini snickers. We also stopped by the house of one of our friends from Bible study and she gave us hot apple cider! That one was probably a stretch with completely fitting but like I said it was a guesstimate. 

The important thing is that I didn't completely freak out with being presented a food that didn't fit my macros. I thought to myself "hey even if it doesn't perfectly fit helloooo extra carbs as fuel for my long run tomorrow!" ;)

Speaking of my long run, it was only 40 degrees and the forecast called for freezing rain. I think my face says it all....

Anyway, trick-or-treating ended up being a lot of fun even though I had to take Layla home early when the rain started. We all enjoyed ourselves and it was great to spend time with family. It was also so much fun to watch Layla because she was literally overjoyed with all the youngsters running around, she loves kids! At our friend's house I was sitting on the front steps with her and all the little kids were asking if they could pet her. I was so proud of her because she was such a good girl by remembering her manners, and sat there nicely as they all patted her head. 

I ended the night curled up on the couch and watching a movie with my momma!

Overall, it was a great weekend and just what I needed! I was also very productive with some new recipes which I'll be sure to get up as soon as possible.

Have a wonderful Friday everyone!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Shoulder and Chest Circuit

There are days where I have limited time to workout but any workout is better than no workout, right? With that being said, I had little precious time to do a shoulder workout after I got back from my run on Tuesday morning.

This is when super sets and circuits come in handy because they definitely save me some time but also allow me to still get a great workout in! I personally like doing super sets during most of my workouts but that's just my preference. Also, for those of you who don't know super sets are where you go from one workout to the next without rest in between. 

For example, if you see 3x12 lateral raises SS 3x12 chest flyes all it means is you'd do a set of lateral raises then immediately chest flyes then immediately back to the lateral raises then the flyes until you finish out the 3 rounds. Pretty much it just means you don't stop working out! 

This circuit took me about 20-30 minutes to complete but don't be fooled because my shoulders and chest were on fireeeee! I was able to do this at home because I have adjustable dumbbells that can go pretty high. For the following exercises I used a 15-20lb range, but do what works for you. Just make sure that you are pushing yourself and it's a struggle (without breaking form) to get those reps out. 

Okay, so for the circuit I just did my favorite shoulder and chest exercises: 

x12 upright rows
x10 lying chest flyes 
x12 front raises
x10 push-ups
x10 rear delt flyes
x12 lateral raises
x10 lying chest press
x12 arnold press

Repeat 3 times! I didn't rest between the moves but kept going through the circuit. Instead of doing a circuit, you can also break it up into 4 sets of supersets a.k.a. 3x12 upright rows SS 3x10 lying chest flyes and then 3x12 front raises SS 10 push-ups etc. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mango Meringues

I am not the best baker, and most times find myself completely clueless and a total novice. With that being said I have a couple things that I am confident on and one of those is meringues. They're my absolute favorite cookie, and I've made them so many times that I could probably do it in my sleep. 

Everything else can pretty much be a hit or miss but not when it comes down to meringues. I've tried out many different recipes and methods but I stand by this one recipe that never fails me! 

I have no idea where I picked it up but I have the recipe and steps memorized at this point so I just go with it. It was the first recipe I ever tried, and it has ruined all other recipes after it. It's simple and only requires 4 ingredients: egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and vanilla. That's it! 

Well, except for this recipe where I decided to add a mango twist. But the mango is totally optional or you could always substitute another fruit for it! Mango just happens to be one of my favorites :)

There are two very important things to consider while making meringues: the weather and oven temperature. I'm not kidding you when I say that it needs to be a non-humid and non-rainy day when you're trying to make them. I thought it was absolutely absurd when I heard that but seriously, I tried it once and could not get the egg whites to whip up properly since my house was too muggy and humid! It sounds crazy but believe me, it can make a difference.

Secondly, I have seen many recipes that vary with cooking time and oven temperature. The key to meringues is lowww and slowwww. I've tried recipes for 30 minutes at 350 and they did not turn out to be proper meringues! When you bite into one, it's supposed to be lightly crispy on the outside and then melt away in the inside. These were like chewy marshmallows and I was not a happy camper.

So, I cook mine at 200 degrees for about an hour and a half, and then turn off the oven and allow them to cool for another half an hour while still inside the oven. I learned that trick by accident once when I forgot about the meringues in the oven after I turned it off. Turns out, it worked! I've seen it in other recipes, too and it just helps the outside shell to get crispy without burning.

For the meringues you'll need:
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup super fine sugar (don't panic there's a substitution)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 package of freeze-dried mangoes (or any fruit you want)

I've never used super fine sugar with meringues because I've never had it in my house or even know where to get it. All I do is throw the sugar in the food processor and turn it on for about a minute until the sugar is much finer. This just makes it easier to dissolve into the egg whites and not make the meringues so grainy. It's not necessary as I've seen recipes with just regular sugar. If you decide to do that then you just might have to whip the egg whites and sugar for a lot longer to really make sure the sugar dissolves into the batter.

Okay, so to make these:

1. preheat the oven to 200 degrees

2. Beat the egg whites on medium-high with a hand-held beater until they're foamy and fluffy

3. Add the 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar and whip the egg whites into soft peaks 

Soft peaks are when the egg whites are still soft enough that they can't hold their form. The peaks will kind of slump over and not remain fully up. 

4. Turn the beater on high and slowly add the sugar about a couple tablespoons at a time. I usually give it a good minute in between additions to really make sure the sugar incorporates. 

5. Once the sugar is fully incorporated (the batter won't feel grainy), add the tsp of vanilla extract and keep beating until stiff peaks form. These will hold their form and will be much thicker than the soft peaks. 

I split the batter up into plain and mango. I only used half the package of fruit but if you're not splitting it up, then use the whole thing. You want freeze-dried because you don't want any extra moisture. The egg whites are very delicate and any water from fresh or frozen fruits could completely ruin the meringues. If you haven't caught on by now, working with egg whites can be a pain! But totally worth it in the end. 

The bag I used was 1.7oz and it was pretty standard for a bag of freeze dried fruit. Anyway, it was probably about 1/2-3/4 cup chopped up. I just guesstimated and eyeballed it to make sure there was enough mango in the batter. 

I first spooned out the plain ones and then folded the chopped up mango pieces into the remaining batter. Make sure you are GENTLE when you do this as you don't want to upset the egg whites at all! 

Important note: DO NOT grease the cookie pan! I use either parchment paper or a silpat mat. Just something that is a non-stick surface. 

I got a total of 22 for this recipe-- 10 plain and 12 mango. Also, don't worry about the placement because meringues don't spread out while cooking. That's why my placement is really random because I didn't now exactly how many meringues I'd get sooo I just kinda put them wherever! 

Bake them at 200 degrees for an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes.

When they are done the outsides will no longer be so shiny and glossy, the outside shell will feel crisp, and the bottoms will be an off-white color (a tiny bit darker than the rest of the top). The test I use is if I'm able to pick up the meringue up and it doesn't cave in. I recommend cooking them for a minimum of an hour an a half.
Then, shut off the heat and allow the meringues to cool inside the oven for about 30 minutes or so.

One of my favorite parts about meringues? The macros!
Plain-- 27 calories, 6g carbs, 0g fat, and 1g protein
Mango-- 33 calories, 8g carbs, 0g fat, and 1g protein

What's your favorite cookie?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mustard & Vinegar Broccoli Slaw

The last time I got a bag of broccoli slaw, it got accidentally pushed to the back of the fridge and I forgot about it. I think we've all done that at some point but I always hate wasting perfectly good food. Anyway, I picked up another bag on Friday and I promised myself that it would NOT happen again!

So Saturday for lunch I decided to make my own little broccoli slaw salad type thingy. I don't really know what to call it so call it whatever you like or what makes sense to you.

It's a low calorie and low-carb recipe, and easily fit into my macros for the day!

All you need is: 
1 1/4 cups broccoli slaw (serving size on the package)
1 sweet red pepper 
1 tsp of stone ground mustard (or whichever flavor you like)
                                       rice vinegar 

First, I cooked down the vegetables a bit. Not until they were cooked through but enough just to soften them. Probably for about 3-5 minutes. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, and some roasted garlic. 

Like I said, I didn't full cook them. Just til they were softer and closer to a noodle-like texture.

My favorite thing to put on salads now is a mixture of mustard and rice vinegar. I do this because they are both "macro-free" which is what I call things without any carbs or fats. They give great flavor without any extra macros to track! I use this combination on my salads, wraps, or even my scrambled egg whites on occasion. 

I don't measure it out exactly but it was about a teaspoon of mustard, and a few dashes of the vinegar. You can also use any kind of mustard you like, stone ground just happens to be my favorite! 

I had my broccoli slaw with an egg-white fluff cake and a balance bar!

The total macros for the broccoli slaw were: 
50 calories, 10g carbs, 0g fat, and 3g protein

Hope you're all having a great weekend!