Nutrition and Fitness – January Check-In

Earlier this month, I wrote about how Bill and I had embarked on the 21-Day Fix as a way to get into the habit of working out more frequently this year. Being more physically active is important to me, and committing to starting my day with a workout seemed like a great way to improve!

So, how’d it go?

It went great…until last weekend, when I missed the last two workouts. Saturday morning, I woke up at 5am (yes, that is an ungodly hour on a weekend!) to get my workout in before Bill and I headed to Seattle to participate in the Women’s March. When my alarm went off, I got up and put my workout clothes on as usual, but I felt terrible. I definitely know what it feels like to wake up groggy, but this was a whole different feeling entirely. My body was telling me that it needed SLEEP. And so I listened, and went back to bed for an hour, and when I woke up again I felt so much more refreshed and energetic!

I don’t feel too awful about having missed Saturday’s workout, because we ended up spending the entire day on our feet. My Garmin logged a total of 16,400 steps for the day! I definitely got lots of exercise on Saturday.

Sunday should have been yoga day, and I really have no excuse for missing that workout. I just plain didn’t do it. I woke up late and we had shopping to do, and I just didn’t make myself do the workout.

I didn’t finish strong, and that bums me out. But I know that even with missing those two workouts, I still did a lot for my health in January than I did during any of the months in 2016. I did get better. I did get stronger.

Bill and I decided that we are committing to another round of 21-Day Fix. I woke up Monday morning feeling energized and ready to re-commit…only to have my Internet connection crash just as I was doing the first move of the workout. By the time we got the connection restored, there wasn’t enough time to finish the workout. I was definitely aggravated, and I felt cranky and low-energy all day. It’s amazing how quickly my body has come to crave those morning workouts!  Tuesday morning, after two days of no exercise, everything seemed to re-align and we were able to begin our next round. Today was our fourth day, and this time, I am going to finish 21 days straight no matter what!

I didn’t lose any weight during our first 21-Day Fix, although I definitely gained muscle tone. I wish I had taken measurements before I started so that I would have a better idea of inches lost – we’ll do measurements this time around! I guess I thought that the workouts would just make the weight fall off of me, but this week I had one of those aha moments where it hit me that I need to start thinking of fitness and nutrition as very different things with different results. I work out to feel good, to build muscle, and to keep my body strong. To lose weight, I need to eat healthy foods and be mindful of my portion sizes.

Last fall, I signed up for Weight Watchers, and at first I was happy on the program. Over time, though, I’ve felt restricted by the plan. The SMART Points calculation is rather complicated, and it was hard for me to predict how many point values a food will have. When I was at the grocery store, I would have to stand and scan the labels of everything I bought before I would buy it, because I did NOT want surprises. Some things had so many points that I could just never have them (a chocolate chip cookie from Panera Bread is 380 calories, which I could easily fit into my day if I were calorie-counting, but those cookies are 17 SMART Points!…and don’t even get me started on the occasional movie popcorn). I found myself omitting days if I knew I was going way over my points. I was also noticing myself picking things that had lower point values, like brands of Greek yogurt, even though I was comparing labels and knew that the brand with the higher point values was better for me to eat. I could have a turkey sandwich on a flatbread for 3 points, but my beloved Shakeology shakes are 7 points.

I tried attending some of the meetings at work, but I didn’t really get much out of them that I couldn’t learn on my own doing research online. I had thought it would be great to be supported in a community at work, but no one really seemed interested in getting to know each other. It felt like a bust. I haven’t been back since the week before Thanksgiving, because I just honestly wasn’t getting the benefit from it.

Last week, I decided to take a break from Weight Watchers and go back to calorie-counting, which is much simpler. When I lost weight in 2012, it was by using Lose It to track my food. I wasn’t dieting or restricting any kind of food, I just counted calories and tracked everything I ate. It worked incredibly well. This time, I’m using MyFitnessPal instead. The app on my phone works better, and there are a lot of foods already built into the tracker so I don’t have to look things up and do a lot of math to track a meal. Because calorie-counting is second nature to me, it’s very simple to keep up with.

I’m going to give calorie-counting a try for the remainder of my 21-Day Fix workouts and see how it goes. Truthfully I’m quite happy at my current weight, and if my body stays the way it is now I’ll be perfectly happy. I do want to be more aware of what I’m plopping in my mouth though!

Overall I’d say January has been a successful month for fitness for me, and while nutrition-wise I definitely have room for improvement, I’m happy to be trying something new and I’m confident that I’m going to find something that works. My plan for this year is to do a fitness and nutrition check-in once a month, so we’ll see where I’m at in February!

 

Egg White Omelette Muffins

Ever hear the saying “You can’t out-exercise a poor diet”? I have, and after losing ten pounds last year I totally believe it’s true – I barely exercised, but started tracking what I was eating through my Weight Watchers app, and the weight started coming off.

This year, I am re-committing to exercise (more about that soon!), but I also want to stay focused on creating healthy recipes and eating well, at least most of the time! Now that the holidays are over, hopefully those tempting homemade treats will be gone from the office and I’ll be able to snack on Greek yogurt and apple slices without fear of missing out on the tasty treats my coworkers made!

My days are usually pretty busy, so it’s essential that I grocery shop and meal-prep on weekends. Last year I got into making little egg white muffins, but to be honest, they were pretty bland by themselves. I started experimenting with ways to make them a little more tasty, and this morning I think I hit on a recipe that’s a winner. I shared a photo of my breakfast in my accountability group on Facebook and was almost immediately asked how I made them, so I’m sharing the recipe here. Feel free to add in your own veggies and let me know if you find something amazing!

Egg White Omelette Muffins

What You’ll Need:

1 32-oz carton of egg whites (I buy whatever’s on sale at the grocery store)
Fresh spinach leaves
1 can of diced tomatoes
5 mushrooms (diced)

What to Do:

Preheat your oven to 350. Spray a 12-muffin muffin tin with no-stick cooking spray (or else these egg whites will stick forever, trust me!). Fill each muffin cup with a leaf or two of spinach, diced tomatoes, and mushrooms (cup should be about halfway full). Pour egg whites into each cup until it is filled. Bake for 25 minutes.

I find that using a small rubber spatula works best for extracting the muffins from the tin. I refrigerate them and eat two each morning for breakfast. The muffins will reheat nicely in a microwave for about 45 seconds.

Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Muffins

Happy Tuesday! I’m feeling so refreshed after a relaxing three-day weekend, and I’m excited that the weather is starting to cool off and fall is nearly here. While warmer summer temperatures make me hungry for lighter fare like salads, once the days begin to get chilly my urge to bake returns. I could happily spend all of fall and winter in my kitchen, whipping up yummy treats (although I am usually discouraged from doing so, as most of my baking is NOT healthy!).

On Sunday, I really wanted to make a nice breakfast at home, but was pretty limited on ingredients. Rather than change out of my cozy pajama pants just to run to the store, I whipped up muffins using things that I already had in my kitchen. Although I wasn’t sure how my concoction was going to turn out (when Bill asked me what I was making, I replied honestly, “Probably a big mess”), I’m very pleased with the recipe and got a couple of requests to share it.

One of my favorite things about this particular recipe is that since it is so low in sugar, these muffins are relatively guilt-free while still being tasty. I couldn’t help sampling this one before I snapped a photo of it!

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Salted Caramel Muffins

What You’ll Need 

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup Oikos Salted Caramel Greek Yogurt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray if not using muffin liners
  2. In a large bowl, combine flower, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine; set aside.
  3. In a second large bowl, combine egg, sugar, milk, canola oil, Greek yogurt, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and combined.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring gently until smooth and combined.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop or measuring cup, evenly distribute the batter into the cavities of the prepared muffin tin, filling each to about 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 5 minutes at 425F. This initial baking period with higher heat will help the muffins form their domed tops.
  7. Lower oven temperature to 375F and continue baking for an additional 15-20 minutes, until tops are set and lightly golden and a toothpick insterted into the center comes out clean.

 

 

Summer Blackberries

It is now officially summer, my very favorite season (although fall is a close second). Summers in the Northwest are SO very different from summers in the California desert that I grew up in. Whereas in sunny SoCal, the temperatures rise into the hundreds, here in Washington the climate stays mild and I feel that the state is truly at its best on warm sunny summer afternoons.

Something I was not used to at all when I moved to the Seattle area is that things grow wild and free here, delicious things you can eat, like berries. This was quite unheard of to me, that one could simply step off the road and into a blackberry bramble, and have a snack of freshly picked berries.

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All along the North Creek Trail near my office, blackberries grow wild and are ready for picking unseasonably early this year. After weeks of watching them slowly ripen, I could tell that the blackberries were ready to be eaten. A few of my work buddies and I have taken great pleasure in gathering them up on our walking breaks. Today we filled two big bowls with the delicious blackberries, with plans to turn them into blackberry crisp, or slump, or jam, or all of the above.

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Tomorrow’s forecast predicts rain, but Wednesday is supposed to be sunny, which means we’ll have more blackberries to pick!

Mexican Couscous Salad

While I’ve always loved baking, I hadn’t really spent much time cooking. But in the last year, I have begun to really enjoy trying new healthy recipes, and have been happily surprised to discover that I do have a knack for cooking and that I am capable of putting together dishes that I absolutely love!

I am obsessed with this recipe for a Mexican Couscous Salad. I adapted it from a similar recipe that I found here, substituting couscous for the cauliflower and adding in chicken for some additional protein. I love this meal so much, last month I made it twice in one week!

Mexican Couscous Salad

For the salad:
1 package of Near East couscous
1 cup black beans
1 cup corn
1 cup pico de gallo
1 avocado
6 oz. finely chopped chicken breast

For the dressing:
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tbsp cumin

Preparation
1. Follow instructions on package to prepare couscous (I make mine in the microwave!)
2. In a small saucepan, heat the black beans and corn
3. Place the prepared couscous in a large mixing bowl and top with the black beans, corn, tomatoes, pico de gallo, chicken, and avocado
4. In a separate bowl, prepare the dressing by whisking together the honey, olive oil, lime juice, paprika, and cumin
5. Toss the salad with the dressing and add a pinch of salt to taste

This recipe makes a rather large batch of the salad, which keeps nicely in the fridge for 2-3 days for yummy leftovers!