Press On

A year and a half ago, I never imagined my scrawny little back was capable of developing into this!

But with consistency, discipline, good nutrition, hard work in the gym, and help from a friend, I am amazed at the results.

Whatever your dreams, press on and please don’t give up. Remain steady, push beyond your comfort zone and you will sorely surpass your goals beyond your wildest dreams.  :)

Sweet dreams!

Falling In Love

I have fallen in love with baking my vegetables!!  It’s so much easier than cooking stove top.  Since veggies cook slower in the oven, the process of standing over the pot and tossing them around, when I’m multi-tasking, is a pain in the…

This is my first time “baking” or “roasting” broccoli, but I’m confident they will taste great just like the cabbage, brussels sprouts, carrots, zucchini, and green beans.  :)  I minced up several cloves of garlic, added olive oil, and granulated garlic powder. It’s in the oven now baking at 350. Baked covered for about 40 minutes. I am using frozen broccoli, so it may take longer.

broccoli

With 21 days left til I walk on stage again for my second figure competition, I struggle to get everything crossed off my to do list.  Heck.. today, I can’t even find my book that has my lists. Ugh!!

These days, I’m trying to keep meals for me and my family as simple as possible. Later, I’ll share my other baked veggie recipes.

This morning I did legs, but here’s a video of me doing one of my favorite back exercises (Bent Over Two-Arm Long Bar Row) from another day.

For best results, you MUST do each exercise properly. This video is the correct way to do this exercise.  My friend stopped me three times before I did it right. That’s what you want… trust me!

If you’re new to weight training, hook up with an experienced, ethical, and knowledgable personal trainer. They will teach you the right way.  Anything other than that will have you disappointed and frustrated with your results.

I hope you enjoyed your day. :)

He Went In Hard

Late December 2014, I received a random and unexpected text from a friend.  My friend was taking on a self-imposed 30 day challenge. His decision inspired a few others in our circle of friends to do the same.

The challenge was to merely live healthier for 30 days.  The goal was to avoid alcohol for the whole month of January and to eat healthier foods.

I don’t know what sparked his interest, but I was pumped and excited for my friend.  When someone makes a mindful choice to aim at living healthier (for whatever reason), I become overwhelmed with happiness. Why?  Because I know the benefits that await them. :)

Although working out was not part of the equation, I knew that if he remained committed for the entire month, he would certainly feel better, but also lose weight and inches.

My friend does not work out, but is active and rarely stays home.  He is active year around with sports and loves to travel. We also share an appreciation for good food.

He wanted to make better food choices, but he did not know how to do so, and that’s where I came into the picture.

I figure a big part of the obesity and unhealthy lifestyle culture in this country, is that people are unaware of the long-term effects that food has on the body and overall health.

Education should be ongoing and is vital to living in good health.

“When you  know better, you do better.”

At least that’s the premise from Dr. Maya Angelo and Oprah Winfrey.  I agree.

Year after year, I learn new facts about the food I consume, which I previously thought were good for me, and am forced to cut them from my diet.  And really, this is what the process is all about. Continue to educate yourself so that you can take a proactive approach to making smarter choices for you and your family.

While considering what kind of advice I would give him, I knew that I had to be realistic.  I needed to give him suggestions that he could manage and incorporate as part of his daily nutrition plan. The last thing he needed was to be overwhelmed by a long and complicated list of foods to eat and to avoid.

Lifestyle adjustments begin with small and subtle changes.  Studies show that taking on too much too soon can lead to failure, and failure was the last thing I wanted for him.

In addition to eliminating alcohol, my advice to him was to:

  1. replace soda and juice with lots water
  2. Avoid anything white (bread, flour sugar potatoes, sugar, etc…)
  3. reduce his sugar intake, i.e. sugar in coffee
  4. don’t skip meals
  5. eat breakfast (oats)
  6. plan meals
  7. When dining out, substitute cream sauces with tomato based sauces & replace fatty sides with extra vegetables.

He was open to trying new foods, which is half the battle of learning to eat better.  With the help of his girlfriend, he was delightfully overwhelmed with all kinds of new foods.   Here’s a list of some of the new food he incorporated into his diet.  It’s freaking amazing!

  1. Brown rice
  2. turkey burgers
  3. asparagus
  4. turmeric milk tea
  5. smoothies with kale, avocado, and almond milk
  6. zucchini spaghetti
  7. 1-2 gallons of water daily (he’s BIG guy)

He went in HARD and I love it!

Superbowl Sunday, the first of February was the official weigh in but, as soon as he took his coat off, I could see results. He lost inches in his midsection and his pants were unintentionally sagging.  Wow!

Without even incorporating an exercise program, he lost 14 pounds in January and 9 pounds the first week of February!

Most important to me is that my friend noticed his energy levels improved and ongoing joint issues improved.  He was flabbergasted by how changes in his diet improved how he felt.

Honestly, it’s no surprise to me but I am ecstatic that he has made the important connection between diet, nutrition, and overall wellness.  I’m doing cartwheels!  His attitude toward food is evolving…

from eating to feel full…

to eating to nourish the body…

Throughout the month, our group randomly checked in, via texts, to encourage, post meal pictures, and for daily and weekly progress reports.

Several friends in our group added exercise to the mix and experienced weight and/or inches loss.  Their journey to starting better lifestyle habits have begun. Yay!! I am so proud of all of them!  :)

Developing new habits take time and “is not an all or nothing process.”

On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit. [1]

Contrary to popular brief, it takes more than 21 days to form a habit.  The 21 day habit myth evolved from  study done by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. Anyways, my friend is on his way to adopting new habits of improving his lifestyle. How do I know this?

Well, he decided to extended the practice of making better food choices in to February AND…. drum roll……  he is considering….

A gym membership!!!  I’m screaming this!!!!!!  

 It’s never too late…

You’re never too old…

You’re never too fat…

You’re never too far gone…

To take control and responsibility for your health. Start small, don’t quit, and go big!

You have what it takes!  :)

Make it a great day!

 

Turkey With More Kick Than Beef

When I cooked on Monday, I was dogged tired. I left work, picked up B’Dazzle from school and drove straight home.

I wanted so badly to nap, but my weekend was full of fun (car show and bowling), but I did not get my meal prep or other cooking done so I had to cook after work. #notfun!

red convertible

Mercedes SL400… give or  take $200,000.  Lol!!  I’m not a materialistic person, but I want this car; it’s a beautiful work of art.  :)

white convertibleOkay so the BMW 4 Series is financially more realistic.  I can work with this model :)  We had a blast at The Philadelphia car show. If you are a car enthusiast and haven’t attended a car show yet, add it to your list; you’ll go bananas!

Anyways, if you know me or follow my blog, you know that I don’t eat red meat. My last steak was December 1996 and I don’t miss it.  The last time I cooked red meat (a steak for Father’s Day for hubby), I nearly puked.

While B’Dazzle read and worked on similes and metaphors, I tackled cooking…. 4 O’clock in the evening til just past 9:00 p.m.

Why on earth would I cook for 5 hours straight on a weekday when I have to get up early the next day?

Lifestyle baby!!

I’m committed to bodybuilding/weight training & fitness!

I’m committed to eating clean!

I’m committed to looking and feeling my best!

To net success and positive results in all that we do, we have to set aside mediocrity and work toward a greater level of consistency in commitment and sacrifice. Average input will not do.  With regards to fitness, others might view me as compulsive; but as I continue to grow stronger and my physique speaks for itself.

I wanted and needed to hit the gym, but even more important than the gym was having food prepped for the week.  What’s the point of working out and following it up by eating crap?  That makes no sense and is counter-productive. So, I lit the stove, warmed the ovens, and got busy cooking.

First item on the list?  A turkey loaf.  Turkey is naturally bland.  To liven it up, you have to add lots of fresh spices and goodies like this:

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs ( approximately)  lean ground turkey breast
  • 3 peppers (red, yellow, and orange)
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 2 cups of Panko wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach (I prefer baby leaf)
  • 2 cups of mushrooms
  • 4 eggs (3 are in the video)
  • To taste.. I don’t measure. Just make sure you can see the spices in the meat after you stir.  More spices is only going to enhance the flavor.  Be careful tho with the Lawry’s, it has SALT (an evil word to me). :)
    • Granulated garlic
    • Lawry’s seasoned salt (a little)
    • Grill mates Brown sugar bourbon
    • Crushed red pepper
    • Black pepper (prefer freshly ground but was too tired for that..)
  • 1 small can (unsalted preferred) tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbs. of (organic preferred) baking sugar
  • 1 Tbs. of lime juice (fresh preferred)
  • 1 Tbs. golden mustard (only my mom’s French’s spicy mustard was on hand; it’s not that serious)

Now what?

Place turkey in a large mixing bowl. Chop the peppers, mushrooms, onions, and spinach. Toss in the bowl and thoroughly mix.  Add dry spices and mix.  Add bread crumbs and mix. Add eggs and mix. Normally I would double the eggs and use only the yolk, but did I mention I was tired?  Set aside.

Pour tomato sauce in a medium to large measuring cup.  Add lime juice and stir.  Add sugar and stir.  Add mustard and stir.  Pour half of the tomato sauce mixture into turkey and mix well.  Save other half of the mixture.

Pour turkey mixture into baking pan and shape to your liking.  Pour remaining sauce over the loaf or whatever shape you created.  :)   Cover and bake at 375 degrees for…. Umm.. Geez!  I’m trying to remember how long it cooked.  Lol!  I was tired.  Did I tell you that already?  Well, it definitely baked for at least one hour. After an hour, I took the foil off and let it cook a little longer to brown. Every oven is different (my gas oven bakes quicker than my electric oven) so just be careful and check it after an hour.

When it’s done, freakin enjoy it because it’s DELICIOUS!

So that was only one dish!  I also cooked, baked brussels sprouts for mom (and me), baked chicken breast, mashed sweet potatoes, brown rice, and lentils.  Here’s the evidence!

brusselsMom and I are the only two in the house who appreciate brussels sprouts. Here they are soaking in water before I sliced and seasoned them.
cooked brussells

Seasoned with garlic, pepper, crushed red peppers, and olive oil, I tossed the brussels sprouts in a foiled covered pan and baked them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.  They have nice crunch and a spicy kick to them.  Mmm..

boiled potatoBoiled sweet potatoes sweet potato seasoningsAfter peeling and mashing the sweet potatoes, I seasoned them with cinnamon, coconut milk, nutmeg and unsalted cultured butter… No sugar.  I don’t usually use butter in my mashed sweet potatoes, but since my family would be tasting, I added a little.

lentil bag

rinsed lentils

While in Whole Foods two weeks ago, this package of organic black lentils caught my eyes. It’s good to try new foods; it makes meals so much more interesting.

After rinsing the lentils (the entire bag), I tossed them in the crock pot using 4 cups of water and 4 cups of juice from parboiled smoked turkey. The “smoked” turkey isn’t the best choice, but my family wants meat in their soups.

I ran out of onions, so I added extra spice: chopped fresh garlic, bay leaves, oregano, black pepper, and crushed red peppers. Before adding the meat to the pot, I removed all the skin, bones, and fat. Before heading to bed, I set the crock pot on low and to cook for 10 hours. The next morning when I headed down stairs for my coffee, I was also greeted by the wonderful aroma of spicy cooked lentils.

plateNow I’m pretty much set for the week with very little cooking needs.

Make it a great day!  :)

Watch Yourself On Complaining

“There were people who went to sleep last night,
poor and rich and white and black,
but they will never wake again.

And those dead folks would give anything at all
for just five minutes of this weather
or ten minutes of plowing.

So you watch yourself about complaining.

What you’re supposed to do
when you don’t like a thing is change it.
If you can’t change it,
change the way you think about it.”
― Maya Angelou

I was surprised to received a group email. I was even more caught off guard by the sender. The sender pretty much reflected on his past practices and concluded that changes were in order. The reason for and the specifics of the email are not important.

What is important is the theme of the message:

CHANGE: to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.

Without a desire and effort, change is impossible.  We can look outward and point to everything around us that we think needs changing but it is not until we look at our own reflection that a transformation can occur.

Sustaining a healthy lifestyle is an ongoing journey.

My definition of a “Healthy Lifestyle” is

maintaining a balance of all that is good (spirituality, giving to those less fortunate); all that is positive (energy); all that makes me smile (fitness, family, finance & fun); and endless adventures and opportunities to learn, grow, and develop as a person. :)

Lol!  I know… that’s a mouthful, but “healthy living” encompasses many factors (for me).

I stumbled on this particular work of Maya Angelo and had to share it with you! If you find yourself complaining about something, remember Maya Angelo’s words, “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing, is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

Oh do; please reflect on her wisodm and have a marvelous day!  :)

Choose Carefully

Mindset is a choice. What ‘s yours?

IMG_3974

Make it a great day! :)