Back from Vacation

I’m back!  Hawaii was amazing, but it’s going to take me a few days to catch up on work and sleep before I get back to blogging.  So I’ll start with a few pictures from our trip, showing of my fitter figure.  =)

 

I can’t express how good it felt to feel confident in my body, especially prancing around in little to no clothes for 2 weeks!  I read a Kate Moss quote last year that stirred up quite a bit of controversy, but I happen to think she’s right and do not think it encourages eating disorders, just making healthy choices …

Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.

I did indulge a little too much, but I also managed plenty of healthy meals and got some sort of exercise every day.  I meant to have my sister take pictures of my beach-side workouts, but I was usually up before anyone else.  Some days I used resistance bands, jump rope, and a picnic table to do weights and cardio, and other days I did a long walk on the beach, hiked a 2-mile trek at 25% grade into Waipi’io Valley (on the big island) and even hiked Diamond Head, as pictured above.  So for the next few days I’m back on Cinch Detox to rid myself of vacation bloat and get back on track.  I’m more motivated than ever and have challenged myself to 125 pounds, my fantasy weight that I now think is very possible.  I even inspired the rest of my family to try and lose some weight.  It’s good to feel like my hard work helps inspire others, not only through my blog, but also the people around me.  Good luck everyone!

Sweet Success!!

Oh my goodness, I decided to weigh in today, a day early, and was so glad I did – 129.6 pounds!  I have not see the 120’s since my early college days!  Funny though, my phone apparently weights 4 ounces, which put me at exactly 130 pounds, my goal weight, and just in time for Hawaii!  I am so excited…

So given that I’ve reached my goal weight, I’m adding back a few whole-grain carbs at breakfast and lunch for the remainder of the Detox to ensure I can get through my work-outs.  I guess this seems counter-intuitive, not to stick to it and lose a few more, but I’m comfortable sticking to a healthy, slow weight-loss and don’t want to give up my workouts for the rest of the week.  (You should not do strenuous exercise on Detox due to lack of calories.)   At this point, I’m setting aside the scale and just focusing on my continued efforts of healthy eating and regular exercise.  I figure my weight will end up wherever is my ideal weight. 

So my meals today are basically the same, except that I added a small bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats with my breakfast, and some Kashi 7-Grain Crackers with my snack.  This should be enough extra calories and carbs to fill me up and help me through my last few pre-vacation workouts.   I actually got too full for my berries and almonds at breakfast, so I saved them for my dinner smoothie.

 

I’ve taken some before and after pictures – from December and today – but am debating whether or not to post them.  I’m partially clothed in both, and it’s really no more than you’d see at the pool or beach, but something about posting them makes me nervous!  Maybe it’s the thought of one of my employees discovering my blog, or becoming the next “WeinerGate” political scandal … ha ha ha.  Would it help everyone stay motivated if I post them??

Cinch Detox – Bikini Body Prep

4 days go go!

With only 4 days to go, I’m once again doing Cinch Detox (started yesterday) to completely de-bloat and hopefully lose those last 2 pounds.  I have not done a full 5- day detox since January, so I’m a little nervous, but I know I can do it!  I also intend to continue my workouts this week, albeit more strength training than cardio, which means I’ll be adding an extra serving of egg or nuts each day to boost my calorie and protein intake.

I completely over-slept yesterday morning.  It was one of those moments where you suddenly realize that it’s way too light outside to be 5am.  I momentarily debated sleeping another 15 minutes and skipping my usual Tuesday morning cardio session, but with vacation only a few days away, I instead hopped up, grabbed my stuff, and flew out the door.  I ended up having a nice 45-minute fast-walk and was glad I did. 

To account for my morning workout, I split up my breakfast – having the nuts and berries at 6:30am, and the egg & spinach scramble at 8:30.  Here’s my meal plan, which will be the same for the next 4 days, although normally I’d have the morning fruit & scramble at the same time. 

   
Meal Plan  Time
– 1 cup strawberries & blueberries with 2T almonds  6:30am
– Scramble: 1.5 eggs & 2 cups raw spinach  8:30am
– Parfait: 6oz greek yogurt, 1 cup frozen raspberries, 2T almonds, sprinkled with Truvia & cinnamon.  11:30am
– Salad: 2 cups raw spinach, 1 cup berries, 2T almonds, dressing made from 3T fresh orange juice & 1T balsamic vinegar  3:00pm
– Smoothie:  6oz greek yogurt, 2T almond butter, 1 cup frozen raspberries, 1/4 cup almond milk  7:00pm
   
Workout – 3 mile walk, stregnth training  
Vitamins  

*****

I had my morning berries on my way to work / gym (my husband was driving).  The official Cinch Detox calls for raspberries, but you can sub other berries if you prefer.  I am using strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries for my morning cup of fruit and also for the salad, but will use frozen raspberries for the parfait and the smoothie.  I find raspberries to be a little bitter, and the fresh ones are just too expensive.  For the spinach scramble, I made 2 servings – one for Tuesday and one for Thursday (my morning workout days), using 3 eggs and 4-cups raw spinach.  First I sauteed the spinach using a little cooking spray, then I added 3 eggs, scrambled it in the pan, and let them cook a few more minutes omelet-style.  Then I cut it in half and added a dash of pepper.  Not the tastiest breakfast ever, but certainly not bad. 

Next up, my yogurt parfait.  For this, I used 6oz 0% plain greek yogurt, 1 cup frozen raspberries, 2T sliced almonds, and a dash of cinnamon and Truvia.  The tiny bit of sugar-free sweetener makes a huge difference – delicious!

Then came the salad, the least favorite meal during my last detox, but this time it was much better.  Maybe because I used both spinach and romaine lettuce, and the dressing was more orange than balsamic (3T fresh orange juice & 1T balsamic vinegar), since I don’t care for the taste of vinegar.  I also ate the egg separately (not shown).  

 

Last, but definitely not least, the smoothie.  I actually really enjoy the smoothie, although my husband thinks it’s too bitter.  Nothing a little Truvia won’t fix, but I didn’t actually use any since I don’t mind the flavor.  My favorite meal to end the day.  I definitley think I can handle 3 more days of this.  It sure helps with meal planning since it’s the exact same thing every day!

Weekly Weigh-In + Meal Ideas

6 days to go on Bikini Body Countdown!

Hello world!  It’s that time again – time for my weekly weigh in, with only 1 more week to go before we leave for Hawaii!  I was so excited to see 132 on the scale this morning!  After literally 16 years of yo-yo dieting, I can’t believe I’ve finally solved the weight-loss puzzle without really feeling like I’m dieting.   Thanks to Cinch for my diet guidance, and my husband for his intense work-outs!  Just 2 more pounds to go until I reach my goal weight, and then, who knows?  I’m not sure how much I actually have to lose to reach my ideal weight, so I figure I’ll just keep eating healthy and working out and my weight will end up wherever.

*****

I’m a little behind on my blogs this week, but I’ve taken lots of pictures of quick, Cinch-approved recipes.  First up, breakfast!  I’ve learned to love Pumpernickel bread.  Supposedly it’s the healthiest type of bread you can eat and very low on the glycemic index, meaning it will be released into the bloodstream very slowly, resulting in lasting energy rather than a quick burst.  So several of my recipes this past week have included this dark bread with a distinct rye-flavor.  I even tried it at breakfast, toasted with a little light cream cheese and honey, along with and egg and glass of carrot juice.  It was actually really good, so I ended up having it several times!

Next, I tried it as a sandwich, both times layering the bread, 0% plain greek yogurt (in place of mayo), cucumber slices, spinach, and a little pepper-jack cheese.  Once again, I was pleasantly surprised how good it tasted.  A word of advice, however, don’t make a sandwich with yogurt on the bread too far in advance.  It gets soggy pretty quick, but it did great at holding everything in place and tasted great too.

Also this week, I made some really yummy strawberry spinach salads with an interesting pear vinaigrette I found at the store.  One day I added pumpkin seeds (shown) for my protein, and another I added 1/4 of an avocado.  It was so good that I decided to keep the salad for next week’s detox instead of cooking the ingredients for Meal 3 (more about this tomorrow).

I got some seafood from work – scallops and lobster – so I incorporated those in my meals.  For the scallops, I cooked them in a skillet, about 5 minutes on each side with nothing but cooking spray.  Then I added them to a little brown rice and cooked cabbage, drizzled with some sweet chile sauce for a yummy lunch.  For the lobster, I baked them and drizzled them with lemon juice.  Yum!

If there’s one meal I’ve adopted into my diet most frequently, it’s yogurt parfaits – yogurt, berries, nuts, and sometimes wheat germ on top.  They are so easy to make and I’ve learned to love them.  I still don’t care for the bitterness of plain yogurt though, so I usually use either Dannon’s Vanilla Light ‘n Fit or 0% non-fat greek yogurt with a little Truvia.  I usually use strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries, and either almonds, walnuts, or pistachios for the nuts.  For the one below, it’s greek yogurt, blueberries, pistachios, wheat germ, and Truvia. 

Keeping with the yogurt and berry theme, I also love the dessert version… vanilla frozen yogurt, or light ice cream, with berries and nuts / coconut.  YUM!

Today we hosted a Memorial Day party and I was determined to keep things pretty healthy.  My husband made burgers and grilled veggies – eggplant, zucchini, squash, and mushrooms.  Then we had Guiltless Gourmet Black Bean Chips, a family favorite, with healthy homemade guacamole and salsa.  I’m well-known for my guacamole and salsa, which is funny since it’s so easy to make and good for you!  For the salsa, I start with tomatoes and onion.  For the guacamole, it’s avocados and 0% plain greek yogurt.  I use a store-bought spice pack for both, which is usually found near the tomatoes and avocados at your local grocery store.  If you don’t find it, I’m sure you can Google a spice blend recipe.  Either way, I only use 1/2 the spice pack since it’s pretty high in sodium and prefer a milder flavor anyway.  Then I add lime and cilantro for a natural burst of flavor.  

Homemade Salsa

  • 5-6 roma tomatoes or 3-4 regular
  • 1/4 to 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 a salsa spice pack, or equivalent
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Fresh cilantro, about 2 T. chopped
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processeser and blend until desired consistency.

Homemade Guacamole

  • 2 avocados
  • 1/4 cup 0% plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 guacamole spice pack, or equivalent
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Fresh Cilantro, about 2 T. chopped
  • Mash avocados and mix with other ingredients until desired consistency

… there are always opportunistic dogs nearby when clumsy Mommy is in the kitchen.

Whew!  OK, finally caught up.  Tomorrow I start detox once again to completely de-bloat before Hawaii.  Wish me luck!

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

TGIF!

I completed 2 days of detox and feel de-bloated from my bad weekend.  Now I’m prepping for a weekend with my family and hoping to resist the feeding frenzy that usually ensues.  I’m hosting them at my house however, and rather than stock up on bad food that I know they’ll like, I’m determined to eat like we normally would and show them that eating healthy can taste good! 

On the menu for tonight – bbq burgers (I’ll skip), roasted red potatoes, broccoli, and strawberry shortcake made with sugar-free angel food cake.  That may not sound like the healthiest food, but it’s well rounded and no fattening butters or sugars will be used in preparation.  Breakfast will be veggie omelets, whole wheat toast, and fruit smoothies.  The rest of the meals will likely be eaten out, so I’ll try and stick to healthy options!

I found this on my car when I left work yesterday.  It’s nice to know that after nearly 13 years together, it’s still possible to show these simple little signs of affection.  What have you done (or gotten) for your partner lately?  Show them they are loved!

Next week I will start posting about “Cinch on a Budget” and start tracking what I’m eating to stay on the Cinch plan while also sticking to a tight budget!

Our Staycation!

With two upcoming trips planned (Savannah in May & Hawaii in June) plus a limited budget, my husband and I decided to use our long weekend to take a “staycation”.  Afterall, after 6 years in Knoxville, there is still so much we have not seen!  

My husband was such a good sport… going along with all of my crazy ideas.  We started out with 2 days of playing tourist.  Day 1 travelling to nearby Sweetwater and Athens to tour Tennessee’s dairy country, while also taking 3 hours of scenic back-roads all around East Tennessee.  Day 2, we checked out a couple of historic landmarks in Knoxville and the Italian Street Fair.  Then on Day 3, we went camping… in our backyard, complete with sitting by a chimnea campfire and making S’mores!  Day 4 we mainly relaxed at home.  It was lovely… and fattening.  We basically ate our way through the past 4 days, and thus today I’m back on Cinch Detox.

Day 1.  First up, Sweetwater Valley Farm, a farm that specializes in gourmet cheese and takes pride in the humane treatment of their cows.  Unfortunately we missed the tour, but still had a chance to walk through the little museum and see (and smell) the cows.  Plus, we got to taste (and later buy) lots of cheese!

(You can click on the first pictures in each group to go to the location’s website.)

Next up, Mayfield Dairy.  Anyone who has ever lived in Tennessee, or the surrounding area is familiar with Mayfield.  They are best known for the milk in the yellow jugs and their wide selection of ice cream.  As a milk-lover myself, I can confirm that their milk does taste better than the rest, and that is apparently because the yellow jug protects it from losing nutrients and flavor after processing.  We took a brief tour through the plant, saw an educational video, and then got to sample 5 mini-scoops of ice cream, plus a chocolate milk.  Yum, yum, yum.  The ice cream samples (shown below) included – O’Charley’s Caramel Pie, Mint Chocolate Chip, Candy Bar, Cherry Nut, and Peanut Butter Fudge.  We loved them all, but decided that the Caramel Pie was best.  It even had chunks of graham cracker crust! 

After touring dairy country and driving around for quite a while admiring the East Tennessee scenery, we somehow managed to have room for a bar-b-que dinner at one of Ruby Tuesday’s new franchise concepts  – Jim ‘n Nicks – before heading home.

Day 2.  The plan was to check out some historical sites around Knoxville,  however we got a late start and only made it to two.  First was James White Fort, original home of Knoxville’s founder, James White.  However Knoxville was not named for him (obviously), it was actually named in honor of the then U.S. Secretary of War, Henry Knox.  The pictures show a beautiful landscape within the small fort, but that was not the case when it was inhabited in the 1700’s.  In fact they could have as many as 30-40 people, plus livestock and domesticated animals living within that small space.  (For more history, you can click on the first picture.)  It was neat to walk among the 7 different buildings within the fort and learn about what life must have been like back in those days.  Did you know that people used to soak the ends of their bed-clothes in kerosene and rub lard on their bodies to stave off bed bugs?  It makes me very grateful to have been born in modern times!

Bill having a little fun right outside James White Fort. That is the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame across the street, which I also blogged about recently.

Next up, the Blount Mansion, original home of William Blount, our first Governor, author of our state’s constitution, and signer of the U.S. Constitution.  It’s really interesting to note that both of these historical sites were right next to downtown Knoxville, and you can see the tall buildings in the background in a couple of the pictures.  As we walked through, I tried to imagine what it must have been like back in those days.  Both the homes in the fort and the below “mansion” were considered elite living in the frontier days.

Day 3 – Camping!  9 years ago, in the Spring before our June 2002 wedding, my husband had a “Man Shower” that basically consisted of lots of camping gear and other manly stuff.  We tried several times to go on a real camping trip, but somehow plans never worked out.  So then we got worried about whether or not we’d even know how to put up our tent when the time came, and thus the idea to camp in the backyard was born.  We had a little trouble at first since the directions were quite vague, but finally figured it out.  Thankfully there was no chance of rain, so we skipped the outer-shell that is supposed to go under and over the tent.  We were actually surprised at how spacious and nice it was; it even had a mesh roof so we could gaze at the stars from inside.  Although it dawned on me in the middle of the night that I wasn’t sure the mesh would protect us from bird poop… for whatever reason, our yard is like a bird sanctuary. 

We made a campfire in our chimnea and later made S’mores, which were delicious and definitely not diet-friendly.  I had no idea that there were 5g of sugar in every big marshmallow.  Yikes!  Our fire did not last very long, so we spent the next hour gazing at the stars and talking… and yes, occasionally looking around at our neighbors and wondering what everyone was watching on TV.  The Nielson Company reported in 2009 that the average American watches 151 hours of TV per month / 5 hours per day.  Judging from the TV glow coming from every single house in sight, I’d say they’re right.  Sad.

Sorry to say we did not make our breakfast over the campfire.  That was a definite plus to backyard camping – a nice bathroom and kitchen in easy walking distance.  We were wide awake from all the bird-chirping by 7am and came in for one last diet-busting breakfast in our seemingly-luxurious kitchen.

So we basically ate our way through the 4 days; clearly I have not yet overcome my diet demons.  However, I have learned a lot this year and am much more in-tune with my eating emotions these days.  As I was eating my way through the weekend, I was surprised that what I felt was not guilt, but rather simple recognition of my gluttony.  I recognized that I was not eating healthy food for my body, but rationalized that I was on vacation and eating was half the fun.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Sure,  a splurge is OK sometimes, but I found myself seeking out food constantly over the past 4 days, as if being on vacation was a license to eat anything and everything in sight as often as possible.  And thus today I am back on Cinch Detox for 3 days to de-bloat and get back on track.  I’m on Day 2 now and so far, so good (more about this tomorrow).

Adios!

Cinch Detox, part 3

Whew!  After a couple weeks of business + personal travel, I’m finally home for a while and able to get back on track with my diet and exercise routine.  I can’t imagine travelling frequently for business.  I used to think I’d like it, but it would totally screw up my healthy routine!  I’m usually pretty good about squeezing in workouts and trying to eat healthily during out-of-town trips, but let’s face it, it’s not always possible.

So as promised, I’m starting over on Cinch.  I’m on Day 2 of the Detox phase and feeling good.  I have not yet had any hunger pangs and already feel somewhat de-bloated.  The only thing I changed in this round was using various kinds of berries plus Kroger-brand Greek Yogurt.  I’m also not going to do any formal workouts – just walking or light weights until after Detox.  I have not weighed this week, but feel fairly sure I have not gained any since my last weigh-in, so my goal for next week remains at 135. 

First for the berries… I discovered, like so many others, that fresh berries are definitely tastier.  They are quite a bit more expensive however, so I’m splitting them up – 1/2 fresh berries (raspberries & strawberries) and 1/2 frozen (mixed berry bags).  I’m using the fresh in my breakfast and snack since those are served plain.  Then I’m using frozen in the parfait and the smoothie, which hides some of the bitterness when mixed with yogurt.  I’m also using a little bit of Truvia natural no-calorie sweetener with each serving, which adds just the right amount of sweetness.

Next, I was thrilled to discover that Kroger now has their own brand of Greek yogurt.  There are quite a few Greek-imposters on the shelves these days, which is apparent when you compare the nutritional labels, but the Kroger brand is almost spot-on and actually has less natural sugar somehow.  And the best part – it’s $0.89 per 6-oz cup!

Oh good, it’s finally stopped raining after 3 days!  Off to go for a long walk on my lunch break…