Ready, Set, SASS!

Happy Monday!  As always, I like to start my week with a fresh slate, so despite the fact that it’s actually a day before New Years, I’m ready to rock and roll!

Snowmen

The first order of business, the starting weigh-in.  My least favorite part.  The time where you get to see the reality on the scale after dodging it for months and hoping the tightness of your jeans was just occasional bloat.   I was disappointed to see that I’m back at 137 pounds, exactly halfway back to my original 2010 starting point before shedding 14 pounds.  I worked my ass off to get that body, completely reforming my eating habits, getting on a regular workout schedule, and swore to myself that I wouldn’t ever go back.  At least I’m catching myself now before slipping all the way back, and I learned so much that year that I’m much more prepared to start over again now.

Starting Weight:   137 pounds (December 30, 2012)

My Goal:   125 pounds

Deadline:  April 1, 2013

The Plan:  S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim (click for more details)

I am following the S.A.S.S Yourself Slim plan, by Cynthia Sass, which was released previously as Cinch!, and frequently referred to in my previous blogs.  The premise is pretty simple – you start with a 5-day detox (the “Fast Forward” phase), losing 5-9 pounds instantly (mostly water & waste weight), then eat a balanced diet with 4 evenly spaced meals throughout the day.  It’s not really a diet – more like a new lifestyle!

The 5 Day “Fast Forward” Phase

First step is grocery shopping.  You’ll need 8 simple ingredients for the Fast Forward phase:  Spinach, Raspberries, Eggs, Yogurt, Almonds, Almond Butter, Oranges / Tangerines, and Balsamic Vinegar.

1)  15 cups of raw spinach, approximately 2 large 10-oz bags.  You’ll be cooking this for your breakfast, and also eating daily salads.  I also like to use a Spinach / Spring Mix blend for the salads, especially if you don’t like the flavor of raw spinach.

Spinach

2)  20 cups of raspberries, about 8 frozen 10-oz bags or about 12 small cartons if buying fresh.  I much prefer fresh, but they don’t always look good, and can sometimes be very costly.  But if you buy frozen, be sure and read your ingredient labels!  Some of them have added sugars, listed as “sucrose”, “fructose”, “cane juice”, or many other names designed to hide the word “sugar”.  I recommend you buy a split of both for the sake of both taste and cost.  Use the more expensive fresh variety for your morning cup of berries, as well as on the salad, but the frozen work well for the yogurt parfait and the smoothie.

Raspberries

3)  2 cups of sliced almonds.  You will be using these as a topping on fruit and yogurt, so I like the sliced almonds that you can usually find in the Baking aisle.

10 Tablespoons of natural RAW almond butter, about 1/3 of a 16-oz jar.  After realizing the the organic product I had at home had added sugars and oils, I tossed it, then had to look at almost every jar in the organic section before picking MaraNatha All Natural RAW Almond Butter.  When in doubt, read the ingredient label and be sure all that it includes is “raw almonds”… no oils or sugars.  You can also make your own in a food processor, or at the nicer grocery stores!

5)  60 ounces of non-fat PLAIN yogurt , 2 of the 32-oz tubs.  Be sure to get the non-fat, plain variety, such as the ones shown below.  Plain greek yogurt is a great option as well, but keep in mind that the plain variety is very tart and you can’t use any sweeteners, real or artificial!  If you simply can’t stand plain yogurt, my recommendation is for Dannon’s Light ‘n Fit Vanilla.  It does have artificial sweeteners, but is relatively low in sugars compared to plain.

6)  10 large eggs.  There are different sizes and types, but I like Eggland’s Best LARGE eggs.  Careful not to get extra large!  You’ll also want to boil 5 of them when you get home so they’re ready for your dinners.  You can store un-peeled hard boiled eggs in the fridge for about a week.

7)  3-4 oranges or tangerines (for flavor & salad dressing)

8)  Seasonings  – herbs (salt-free) cinnamon and nutmeg (plain, without sugar), balsamic vinegar.  NO SALT!

MEAL PLAN

Below is my meal plan, along with suggested times based on my schedule.  You can eat at different times, but be sure and eat within an hour of waking (rev up that metabolism!) and then every 3-5 hours.

1)  Meal 1  (7:00 am) – scrambled egg with spinach; raspberries and almonds.  2 cups water.

The egg & spinach combo can be a little bland and the spinach flavor really stands out, so I experiment with un-salted seasonings, such as basil, cumin, parsley, and pepper.  NO SALT!!  Overall, not bad.  The raspberries and almonds are very yummy.

  Meal 2  (11:00 am) – yogurt parfait with raspberries and almonds.  2 cups water.

This is delicious and tastes like dessert!  I add a little cinnamon and nutmeg on each yogurt layer and that really spiced it up.  It’s also good with a little sprig of fresh mint.

  Meal 3  (3:00 pm) – spinach salad with raspberries, almonds, boiled egg, homemade tangerine balsamic vinaigrette .  2 cups water.

This meal is my least favorite of the day, primarily because I’m not much of a salad fan, and do not care for a strong vinegar flavor.  You can experiment with making your own vinaigrette, but the book calls for a mix of fresh-squeezed orange juice and vinegar.  I also like to mash a few of the raspberries with the fresh orange juice and use that instead of vinegar.

  Meal 4 (7:00 pm) – smoothie with yogurt, raspberries, almond butter, ice.  2 cups water.

The smoothie is great – kind of like a fruity milkshake to finish out the day.  I have to add a little bit of water to help it blend, and also add a sprinkle of cinnamon.  For those that are used to a super-sweet smoothie (my husband played guinea pig), you might find this a bit sour or bitter due to the plain yogurt and raspberries.  I’m not sure what to suggest other than give it time for your taste buds to adjust.  By the end of 5 days, you are supposed to have a new appreciation for natural flavors.

Here’s to a succesful detox!

New Years Resolutions + Jewelry Giveaway!

Hello ladies!  Who’s ready for some New Year’s Resolutions?  Or even better, some free jewelry!?  Let’s do both…

new-years-resolution-apple

The holidays are almost over, which means it’s time to start thinking about how to lose those Christmas cookie pounds, or just refocus on your healthy lifestyle.  I don’t know about you, but I’m in desperate need of a Cinch detox!  Starting Monday (a day early because I like starting things on Mondays), I’ll be once again starting the Cinch Fast Forward phase, and once again tracking my progress via my blog.   Yes, yes, I know that Cynthia Sass rewrote her book with the new name “SASS Yourself Slim”, but somehow that just doesn’t have the same ring as “Cinch”.

So how about a healthy competition with a prize of free Stella & Dot jewelry for whomever can lose the most weight % in 2 months?  I do much better when I’m both held accountable, and working towards a goal.  When I did Cinch successfully back in 2010, my goal was to get in great shape for a Hawaiian vacation.  It helped me get down to my goal of 130 pounds just days before our vacation.  This year, my goal is simply to get back on track.  It’s been the toughest year of my life, mostly due to my crazy stressful job with frequent travel.  2013 should be much more manageable, and that’s good because my skinny jeans are getting a little tight again!

Want to join the competition and work together to reach our healthy goals?  Here’s how it works:

  • Sign up by adding your Name, current Weight, and a few motivational words in my comments section below no later than Monday, January 7.
  • Check in weekly with your progress, including a weekly weigh-in, or link us to your own blog.
  • March 1, I will review everyone’s progress and announce a winner, based on who has lost the largest % of their body weight (for example, if a 150-lb person loses 7.5 pounds, they lost 5% of their body weight).
  • The winner can choose anything up to $50 on StellaDot.com, and I will ship your prize!

I look forward to hearing from you!

(click for link to StellaDot.com)

(click for link to StellaDot.com)

* Please consult your doctor before starting a new wellness program.  This is intended to be a fun, healthy competition; please do not take any drastic unhealthy measures in order to win. *

Cinch Detox Do Over, Day 2

On to Day 2 of my Detox Do Over and feeling great.  Had a good 5-mile run this morning and hope to squeeze in Power Yoga at lunch.  And I love that I don’t even have to think about meal-planning!  Now if only I could somehow capture this diet motivation and save it for a rainy day…

Meal Plan for the next 4 Days:

Meals  Time
1) Egg & spinach scramble, raspberries, almonds  6 am
2) Mixed berry parfait with almonds  10 am
3) Spinach, boiled egg, mixed berries, almonds  2 pm
4) Smoothie with yogurt, berries, spinach & almond butter  6 pm

Today’s Workout:  5-mile morning run, Power Yoga

*****

Here’s a great little motivational clip that I found online.  HAVE A FABULOUS DAY!

Cinch Detox Do Over, Day 1

(If you’re looking for a full description of the Cinch 5-day Fast Forward “detox” phase, click here.)

Technically, today is Day 18 of the Cinch  journey, but since I slipped up on more than one occasion last week, and totally blew it at my sister’s house this past weekend, I decided to start over with detox today.  So here we go…

This time around, I decided to change things up a little bit.  First, I bought half Frozen Mixed Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries) and half Frozen Raspberries.  The book confirms that you can sub different berries, but she chose raspberries because of their superior nutritional qualities, so I decided to do a little of both.  Only after purchasing 12 bags at Kroger did I realize that they are over $1 cheaper per bag at Target!!  I’ll remember that for next time… who knew Target had such a good selection of frozen fruit??  I plan to do 2 servings of mixed berries and 2 servings of plain raspberries per day (there are 4 total servings of berries each day, 1 with each meal).  I had the raspberries for breakfast, and they were pretty good, but the mixed berries with my lunch parfait were awesome!  It definitely gives me something new to look forward to.

I also decided to try both Greek Yogurt and Dannon Light ‘n Fit Vanilla Yogurt instead of Non-Fat Plain.  I’ll use the greek yogurt for the smoothies and the other for the parfait.  One of my fellow bloggers noted that the nutritional content of the Light ‘n Fit is almost the same, but it’s much tastier.    I must say, my parfait today was excellent!  So much better than before.  Below are the nutritional comparisons.  As you can see, they are equal in the categories that really count – calories, fat, and sugar.  Surprisingly, the Light ‘n Fit has more potassium and less sodium, but has a few more total carbs and a little less protein.  I’ll more than make up for the difference in protein with the Greek Yogurt, which is also shown below. 

Since I determined in the first round of detox that I really do not care for the taste of raw spinach, especially combined with egg and fruit in a salad, I decided to eat the ingredients for Meal 3 separately: 2 cups cooked spinach + boiled egg + mixed berries with almonds.  It’s amazing to me that a whole bag (2 cups) of fresh spinach cooked down to fit in a small 4-oz container!  So basically I can enjoy it in about 3 bites rather suffer through 30.

Meal Plan for the next 5 Days:

Meals Time
1) Egg & spinach scramble, raspberries &  almonds 7 am
2) Mixed berry parfait with almonds 11 am
3) Cooked spinach, boiled egg, mixed berries & almonds 3 pm
4) Yogurt & raspberry smoothie with spinach & almond butter 7 pm

Today’s Workout:  Weights & cardio circuit (1 hour)

*****

I set myself up for success this week by prepping all ingredients for my 20 meals in advance.  Since the berries shouldn’t be thawed for more than 2 days, I put 2-days worth in the fridge and then the rest are portioned in the freezer.  I plan to use a similar strategy for my second attempt at Phase 2 – prepping and repeating meals for several days to cut down on prep time and negating the excuse to cheat! 

Cinch Day 12

Today’s Meal Plan:

Meal Plan Time
2 eggs & toast with sugar-free jam 6 am
Cherries, almonds, granola 10am
Pineapple Avocado Tacos 1 pm
Cheese & quinoa stuffed peppers  7 pm

Today’s Workout:  1 hour at the gym, whatever I feel like doing when I get there.

Uh-oh… see a problem with today’s meal plan?  I can’t go 6 hours without food between lunch and dinner!  I guess I should have waited longer to have lunch.  Starting my day so early really makes meal planning in the afternoons more challenging.  I’ve already had too many almonds today, so I’ll pack a few dry-roasted edamame in my purse for a light snack after the gym at 5pm.

Lunch today is a recipe from the book – Pineapple Avocado Tacos.  I would never have thought to combine pineapple, avocado, and feta cheese in a tortilla, but it was pretty good.  However I much prefer the flavor of a flour tortilla instead of corn, so I’ll sub that next time. 

Pineapple Avocado Tacos with Cilantro

 

Dinner will be a repeat – Stuffed Peppers.  I opted for chili and grilled cheese for dinner last night, so I need to finish up the peppers tonight.  I don’t think I’ll be making those again since they were definitely not my favorite. 

I’ve also decided to start over on the 5-day Fast Forward next week.  I was looking over my calendar and that seems like the only week with very little going on to distract me, plus I could really use the extra kick to get back on track.  I will have been on regular food for 2 weeks, so I think it’s safe to start over.  I’ll spend those 5 days researching the recipes in more detail and also putting together some substitution meals for Phase 2 (part 2) so I’m not constantly searching for something to eat without the time (or motivation) to make a recipe from the book.  I actually kind of liked the brainless meal-planning with the 5-day program.  I didn’t have to wonder what I was eating or how it would affect my body, and this time around I’ll know exactly what to expect.  Strange… I’m kind of looking forward to it.

Cinch Day 11 & Reader’s Comment

Hi everyone.  It’s a snowy Day 11 and after a couple days slipping off the wagon, I’m determined to get back on and not waste all of my efforts.  Let’s get this week started off right…

At least someone is enjoying the snow.

Today’s Meal Plan:

Meal Plan Time
Cereal with 1% milk & oatmeal cake 6 am
Cherries, macadamia nuts 10:30am
Sauteed spinach & sweet potato, slice of toast with ricotta, tangerine 3 pm
Cheese & quinoa stuffed peppers  7 pm

Today’s Workout:  P90X Plyometrics DVD (1 hour) 

Stuffed Pepper

The stuffed pepper was not my favorite.  Not bad, but I didn’t like the flavor combo and it seemed like a lot of effort for something I could have made in half the time by chopping the pepper and tossing everything in a bowl.  But it was pretty and appetizing to look at.  Now if I could only make chocolate not look so appetizing.

*****

Lastly, I’ve been getting some really comments from all of you, and this one I felt was worthy of posting for everyone.  Very detailed and it might offer some good alternatives for you:

… ” For those of you just starting out, here are some things I discovered (it really is a learning curve):


1) Raspberries are hard to find in some areas right now- they are really not in season.  I found some at Target(Sam’s Club didn’t have any) though-$3 for 6 ounces, which isn’t too bad.  I ended up mixing raspberries and blueberries and have still have had great results.  I figure blueberries are great antioxidants too.  They have a few more calories per cup, but not many.

2) Spinach. Sam’s carries large 1 pound organic baby spinach for around $3.50-great price and really fresh and tasty!!

3) I know that the author recommends plain non-fat organic yogurt…But, I have been mixing a 1:1 ratio of the plain non-fat with Dannon Light and Fit VANILLA- same calories(110 per cup)/just has flavorings and artificial sweetener- It really tastes much better.  I feel like I am getting a little treat with the sweetness.

4) I really did not like “evening smoothie”, so I eat the yogurt topped with the berries by itself and just eat the almond butter plain.  I never tried Almond Butter before, but I am hooked- absolutely love it.  I will be using it from now on!!

5)  My morning scramble- I also saute a little garlic in the skillet(lightly wipe EVOO on skillet) then add the spinach until it starts to wilt, then add the eggs.  Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper- really yummy. I can actually say I look forward to it.  I think I will start to incorporate that into my diet in the future.

6) I also found the first few days of the diet decreases “regularity”- I think it is the yogurt and the shear decrease of volume of food we are eating.

7) I have to admit I did have one small cheat today- 1 Hershey kiss 🙂  Way better than the 15 I could knock down b4 the diet  🙂  I’m actually looking forward to getting onto the scale in the morning !! Can’t remember the last time I said that!

8) The book was hard to find at local bookstores.  The Barnes and Noble and Borders near me were sold out- Must be popular.  I called a Borders in another town- They had it! They have a 33% off coupon online that you can print

Good Luck to everyone!!!    Lisa

Thanks for your comments, Lisa, and everyone else that has been chiming in as well! 

To close the day, here’s my late lunch concoction.  Although not a recipe from the book, I was trying to use some spare ingredients in my fridge and I think it turned out pretty well.  Can you believe that’s only half a sweet potato?  I roasted the sweet potatoes in the oven with olive oil and a few herbs (last night), then tossed it in a skillet with 1 cup spinach and a little more olive oil.  And that is ricotta on the toast.  Ricotta cheese is my new favorite… it reminds me of thick, whipped butter but with a fraction of the fat and guilt.  Yum!

Cinch Day 10, Winter Woes

Hi everyone.  I wish I could tell you how great I’m doing, and how good the recipes are, and continue to be the fabulous motivator, but the reality is that I’m no different than anyone else or I wouldn’t be here.  It’s been 10 days, about the same amount of time it usually takes before I start going back to my old ways.  I’m fighting it, but my inner demons are at work.  The little devil is on my shoulder telling me constantly that I need more food.  The diet does exactly what it says it does – offers small meals that fill you up, and I have not had hunger issues between meals, however some days I just want more food.  Or on snowy days like today, I want comfort food that definitely does not fit into any diet.  The past few days have been especially tough.  After a week of following everything perfectly, temptation beckons and the winter weather has left me cooped up indoors without my usual outdoor escape, eating chili, grilled cheese, and oatmeal cake… one of my favorite childhood meals when it was nasty outside.  With another winter storm advisory posted for tonight / tomorrow, I have a feeling it’s going to be a tough week. 

All is not lost.  I have tried several of the book’s recipes and am sticking to the plan some of the time.  I’ll post about some of those recipes later.  I’m actually thinking about starting over again to give me another kick-start before I fall off the wagon.  Thank goodness for all of my new blog friends or I might be a total goner by now.  (THANK YOU!!!) Cynthia does not recommend staying on the detox phase for too long due to needing the nutrients that other foods provide, so maybe I’ll try and get through this 30 days before starting over. 

I was watching an interesting show on History channel yesterday called “Taboo”, and this particular episode was dealing with obesity.  In most countries, being fat is considered unacceptable, while in a few remaining 3rd world countries, being fat is admired and a sign of wealth.  The show hit on a big reason that so many of us in the industrialized world deal with obesity… our way of life does not lend itself to physical health.  I still think our personal choices have a lot to do with it, but look at how difficult it is for us to find an hour a day to make healthy meals or exercise?  We spend the majority of our time sitting at work, being inactive, and eating easy, comfort foods.  So how do we correct this?  We can’t magically change our society, nor can we change the way we were raised, or the things that make us tick.  Will we struggle to find happiness with ourselves forever (OMG depressing!) or will we eventually come to appreciate who we are and learn to cope with our issues with food and appearance?  Something to think about…