Mondays

I have a love-hate relationship with Mondays.  On one hand, I love new beginnings, and Monday has always felt like a new beginning for me, like a New Years every week.  On the other, well, getting up at 5am is not as appealing as lounging until 8 and staying in my pajamas half the day.

So todays’ new beginning is off to a good start.  I got in a decent little workout before work (a bonus workout to burn off all the weekend crap!) with 15 minutes on the elliptical followed by 10 minutes of Yoga.  My husband gets up for work between 4:30 and 5, and I don’t leave for work until about 7:30, so there’s always plenty of time in the mornings, although by nature I’m still rushing to get out the door on time!  I also prepped lots of good food on Sunday, which makes eating healthy during the week so much easier.  I experimented with a couple of new recipes, which I’ve linked below.  I’ve never made spaghetti squash before, but it was really easy and so yummy!  I’ve never been a big pasta-eater, but this offers so many new opportunities for meals since you can eat this as a side dish, or as the base to an entrée like pasta.  Plus, you can roast the seeds of any squash, just like pumpkin.  I tossed them with a little olive oil, sea salt, smoked paprika, and pepper, then baked them for 15 minutes on 300 degrees, shaking every 5 minutes.  I broiled them the last 30 seconds to make them nice and toasty.

Next, I decided to go ahead and scope out some 5ks and community rides for the Spring to keep up my motivation and have a goal to work towards.  As if a 300-mile bike ride in July wasn’t goal enough!  I have a local Columbus site that I use, but Active.com is also great for finding these events in your area.

Lastly, I signed up for an organic produce & protein home delivery program called Green BEAN.  I’ve thought about it many times before but finally decided to sign after several co-workers decided to as well.  Basically, it’s like a CSA, they source organic produce and proteins that are grown locally (whenever possible) and deliver it to your door once a week.  For me, the biggest attraction was getting a random selection of local produce to try.  I tend to get stuck in a produce rut, only buying the same 4-5 things, which can get boring!  And if I can’t finish it all, I just throw it in my juicer and drink it.

Want to find a CSA near you?  Click here.

Grean BEAN

 

Today’s Menu & Exercise Plan

  • Workout (5:30 am)- 15 minutes Elliptical, 10 minutes yoga
  • Breakfast (7:30 am) – Light berry muffin with cream cheese, 1/2 cup carrot juice & vitamins
  • Snack (10:45 am) – Toasted squash seeds, rice Chex, GNC Pump Fuel (1/2 packet mixed with water)
  • Workout (11:30 am) – Strength training, 15 minutes running, 15 minutes cycling
  • Lunch (2 pm) – Mixed Greens with Lime Vinaigrette, topped with leftover Ruby Tuesday Caribbean Chicken & fresh tomatoes
  • Dinner (6:30 pm) – Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Meatballs, leftover Ruby Tuesday garlic cheddar biscuit

 

Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs

Just another Wednesday

Last week I blogged about wanting to become an R.D., and then quickly having my idea squashed when I realized the class schedules would not work.  In the meantime, I discovered some great certification programs through ACE that I think will be a good go-between while I figure out what I want to do long-term.  I’m registering this week and estimate that it will take me 5-6 months to complete, so finishing in December is my goal.  In the end, I’d be a certified Personal Trainer (pre-requisite), and more importantly, a Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach.  Exciting, and I’ve already booked my first job!  We have a fitness center at work and they do an annual weight-loss program, usually in January, so if I finish my certification in time, I can teach it! 

Anyway, shifting from being a weight-management coach to eating out (ha!), I was craving Zucchini Cake Minis and Sweet Potato Fries last night, so we went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner.  Sounds like a bad meal, but I had them hold the mayo and butter, so the total calorie count is in the 500-600 calorie range.  Not too terrible, although maybe I should have skipped the biscuit?  Mmm, it was good, and only added 90 calories. 

I actually found another blogger who did a pretty good job of copying the zucchini cake recipe, and making it healthier.  Check it out (click the picture):

I forgot to post my menu and workout yesterday, so here you go…

Daily Menu & Workout Plan:

  • 7 am – Honey Bunches of Oats cereal with 1% milk, carrot juice, vitamin 
  • 11 am – leftover Zucchini Cake Mini, strawberry & raspberry medley, 12 almonds
  • 1pm – Strength training: legs, cardio circuit
  • 3pm – Banana, plain 0% Greek yogurt
  • 6pm – Bike ride
  • 7pm – Scallops with veggies and 1/2 cup brown rice

I need a new vitamin.  Any recommendations?  I’m fine with drugstore brands, but there are so many that it’s a little over-whelming.

Ruby Tuesday Rocks

 

Yes, I gotta give props to RT.  They’ve come a long, long way from a menu built around burgers and nothing but starchy side dishes.  They have another menu coming soon (currently testing in my area) and is sure to please all the vegetarians and healthy-eaters out there. 

First though, I was thrilled to see one of my blog-comments featured on the Shape.com site!  (Click on the picture.)  I check out this blog at least once a week, as it is written Cynthia Sass, author of Cinch!, and she always offers some good, insightful advice.  This particular blog was about being “Duped by Healthy Restaurant Meals”, something I stress about often, and ironically the theme of today’s blog!

 

Now back to Ruby Tuesday…  they were one of the pioneers in putting nutritional information on the menu, something that did not go over well a decade ago, but will soon be required for all restaurant companies with more than 15 restaurants.  With RT’s re-branding initiative that began in 2006, they’ve also been busy upgrading the menu, which includes a lot of new healthy options.  Don’t get me wrong, a large majority of the menu is still full of high-calorie dishes (i.e. delicious), but unlike many restaurants, I never have a problem finding healthy options and don’t have to eat the same thing every time!  The menu actually highlights the “Fit & Trim” selections, which means that they are under 700 calories.  Personally, 700 calories is twice what I need for 1 of my 4 mini-meals, so if I choose one of these options, I just eat half and save the rest for later.  But you can still customize a lot of the other stuff by removing the butter, sauce, and cheese.  

Here are a few suggestions, some of which will be featured in the new April menu:

  • Garden Bar.  Fill up with all the veggies you can eat, but steer clear of the cheese, bacon, prepared salads, and most salad dressings.  Go with the Balsamic Vinaigrette or Light Ranch and NO CROUTONS!  Those things are double-fried!
  • Soup.  White Bean Chicken Chili is my favorite and the healthiest choice, and at 230 calories per bowl, there’s still room for a light salad.
  • Side Dishes.  As someone that eats a mostly vegetarian diet, I LOVE our new side dish selections!  My favorites are the grilled zucchini, sweet potato fries, spaghetti squash, and sliced tomatoes.  Warning – the Mac & Cheese is fabulous… and 570 calories!

  • Petite Plates.  I was very excited when we first started offering these smaller versions of our regular entrees.  Sometimes eating half and taking the rest home is just not an option!  They are intended for lunch, but you can order them all day.  Check out the new Zucchini Cake Petite Plate – my new favorite!
  • Grilled Fish or Chicken.  Most of the grilled fish or chicken options (and there are many to choose from) are a pretty safe bet if paired with healthy side dishes.  Just be sure and ask that it not be cooked or prepared with any butter or creamy sauces, depending on which one you choose.
  • Zucchini Cakes.  These tasty newbies will replace our traditional veggie minis and have been a huge hit in test restaurants.  They are also my new favorite!  You can get them in a Petite Plate (as listed above) with 2 sides, or as mini sandwiches with 1 side.  Just be sure you tell them to cook it “dry” (no butter) and if you get the minis, tell them no mayo and no butter on the buns.

Below is the full Ruby Tuesday nutritional guide (click on the picture), but this does not include any new items.  There is also a “Smart Eating” section, which features items that are available to order, but not given any space on the actual menu (space is limited to more popular / profitable items):

Ruby TUESDAY (Cinch Core, day 4)

Today’s Menu: Same as yesterday

Today’s Workout:  Tri-weekly marathon training run (6 miles) + Power Yoga! 

*****

Happy Tuesday!  I feel amazing and have been on a high for about 4 days now, overflowing with energy, and feeling smaller in my clothes.  Even my skin has cleared up, and that’s even more exciting for me than losing weight!  I am on the same menu today as yesterday, although I worked out early, so how do you handle breakfast when you work out at 6am?  Thankfully, Cynthia addresses this question on her website.  Basically, you split up the breakfast, having the carb & produce beforehand, and the fat & protein afterwards.  So today, I had the toast with almond butter and blackberries at 5:30 am, then the cottage cheese at 8 am.  I wasn’t sure how to save the almond butter for afterwards, so I went ahead and had it early with the toast, and thankfully it did not upset my stomach during my run.  Then I’ll resume my normal eating schedule with my 11 am snack, and etcetera. 

A lot of you have commented that I work out a lot, and yes, that’s true, but don’t feel that you need to do the same for this to be successful.  I truly enjoy my daily workouts, although Cinch’ is primarily designed for light workouts – preferably 30 minutes walking per day.  I am blessed to work for a company (Ruby Tuesday) that encourages us to stay fit and allows for a 1.5-hour lunch break in order to workout, plus we have an on-sight gym and are right next to 20-miles or scenic running trails.  I personally don’t understand people that don’t take advantage of this blessing!!  My husband is also very passionate about exercise and it’s often something we do together, mostly P90X videos or Cycling.  Just do what you feel works best for you!  I usually add a little more calories in the form of whole grains or healthy-fat a couple meals a day to offset my calorie deficit, so if you workout a lot like me, you should do the same to prevent starvation mode.

Maryville Greenbelt, "The Duck Pond"

... Now who wouldn't want to enjoy this every day!?

I read an article once that said they didn’t know anybody that lost weight from exercise alone.  Yep, that’s me.  I’ve been a dedicated gym-rat for about 5 years now, but it’s your diet that truly makes the difference.  Your body is like a machine and you have to feed it right for it to operate at maximum efficiency.  Cinch is working wonders for me in this regard, and I’m eager to see how much better I perform in my upcoming physical challenges – including another haf-marathon in April, a 300-mile charity bike ride in July, and possibly my first triathlon this Fall.  Off to a good start so far!

Ate a Cupcake… for my job!

My husband says I must report to the blogging community that I ate a cupcake.  Yes, it’s true, but it was not a secret splurge – it’s my job!!  I work in the Culinary department for a restaurant company and we are introducing cupcakes this month, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  Carrot Cake & Red Velvet… and they are surprisingly good.  At least once every couple of weeks (sometimes more), I’m requested to sample one of their latest concoctions, especially since I’m known as the department sugar-addict.  Oh, what’s a girl to do… 

I also got to try our new vegetarian cakes recently, which will probably replace our veggie burgers.  I actually like our veggie burgers, but the new ones are a-m-a-z-i-n-g!  They’re basically shredded zucchini that’s mixed with a proprietary blend of breading and spices and then lightly fried.  You can order them with 2 side dishes for a “petite plate” or on two mini-buns with a side and salad.  Despite the light frying, the petite plate will actually make a good diet-friendly option if you’re eating out.  (Here’s a restaurant diet hint – don’t ever get anything on a bun, or if you do, be sure and tell them to hold the butter.)

Cinch Day 4

Wow, I’m a bit stunned  at how many people are suddenly tuning in to my blog.  As a fairly new blogger that was averaging 3-5 hits per day before Cinch, 400 in one day is so cool!  I hope I can help all of you stay motivated on your diets, just like you do for me! 

It is now Day 4 and I woke up feeling fabulous!  My average days starts at 5am, so I was a little worried how that would go after a very sluggish late start on Days 2 and 3, but I seem to have turned a corner and my body is adjusting to my new diet.  Our bodies are really amazing!  I even had the energy for a quick 15-minutes on my indoor trainer bicycle (I’m training for a 300-mile bike ride in July) before heading to work.  I’ll have to take a picture of that later for those that aren’t familiar with riding your bike indoors during the winter.

My cravings have all but disappeared, and that’s great because I’m surrounded by junk food now that I’m back at the office.  Between food shows (I work at Ruby Tuesday’s corporate office), supplier food gifts, and the various goodies everyone has brought in to clean out their kitchens, it’s a bit overwhelming!  I don’t want any of the junk, but I’m really ready for some grains!  I made some toast for my husband last night and was salivating.  I didn’t crave it at all until I was making it and reeeeeeaaally wanted a bite!  Wednesday’s waffle breakfast, the first meal post-detox, is going to taste amazing!  Oh, and I did run into a couple of new challenges at the grocery store.  I was supposed to buy dried cranberries that are naturally sweetened with fruit juice and non-fat ricotta cheese.  Neither of which is apparently carried at my super-Kroger , not even in the huge Organic section.  I’m going to sub fresh cherries for the cranberries and low-fat ricotta.

I’m going to attempt my normal Monday workout today without bonking: a weight-training circuit and 3-mile jog outside.  We’ll see how it goes . . .

Like my running shirt?  I love these shirts with funny little slogans.  They’re very motivating because I never want anyone to catch me walking when I wear them!  I picked up several different versions at the Disney Marathon.  You can click on the picture to see the store – One More Mile.  Anyway, today did involve some walking.  I’m not sure if it was the lack of calories / carbs or my new Reebok RunTone shoes, but it kicked my butt!  I ended up doing intervals of running / walking for 2.5 miles… still a decent workout.  I’ll have to give a RunTone shoes review later after I’ve used them a little longer.  Today was only my second workout with them and I did seem to be using muscles that I don’t normally feel. 

I’m off to have my 4th meal now while I watch my husband do P90x.  My turn to torture him by playing P90x referee; payback for eating all of my Cadbury eggs while I suffered through another plate of eggs and spinach!

Cinch Diet Book – 281 Pages of Good Advice

I received my book about 2 hours ago and immediately devoured it.  I’m a very fast reader!  OK, so I didn’t read every page in its entirety, but I read the first several chapters, including the “Fast-Forward” detox phase (first 5 days), and then skimmed through the rest.    So now I feel the overwhelming urge to document my thoughts.

First, I was thrilled to see my employer, Ruby Tuesday, mentioned in the eating out section (pg 153)!  Only 5 restaurant companies were mentioned and we were the only one from our segment, despite the bigger competition.  Go Ruby Tuesday!  Although only one menu item was mentioned (Creole Catch), there are plenty of other healthy options to choose from if you must eat out.

Ruby Tuesday Salad Bar

Now on to the rest of the book…  It’s very well written and easy to follow.  In 2 hours, I fully understand the plan and what I need to do to succeed, plus made note of the rules (just a few), and made out a grocery list for the detox phase.   The book also includes lots of stories from people who have succeeded on this program scattered throughout the 11 chapters.  I really liked that the people used in the stories have a wide range of weight-loss goals and some even look like me – slightly pudgy but far from overweight, and thus I feel more confident that this can work for everyone, not just those with a significant amount of weight to lose. 

Did I mention that a daily “dark chocolate escape” is mandatory?  There are even a few chocolate recipes!  Actually, I’m a little uncertain about this part.  It sounds like a wonderful idea, but once I taste chocolate, the cravings become uncontrollable.  However, as Cynthia explains, small amounts of dark chocolate are actually good for you and the Cinch plan is all about teaching you how to each in real life and not feel that a small indulgence ruins your day or your progress.  I think I’ll skip it for the first week and then if I’m doing well, buy a very small amount to test my will power. 

OK, so how does this program work exactly?  Basically, you start with a strict 5-ingredient, 5-day detox phase to “fast-forward” your weight loss and give you a good jump-start.  Over these 5 days, you’ll eat a total of:

  • 15 cups of spinach, raw or frozen
  • 20 cups of raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • 4 cups of almonds, slivered or sliced
  • 10 Tablespoons of natural almond butter
  • 10 large eggs or 5 cups liquid egg whites
  • 60 ounces (2 large tubs) of non-fat plain yogurt
  • Seasonings such as natural fruit juice, peppers, garlic, vinegar, and herbs (no salt!)

Crazy right?  That’s a LOT of raspberries!!!  I’m not sure I’ve eaten that many raspberries in my entire life.  Thank goodness I like them.  So using these ingredients, you create 4 meals per day, which can be eaten in any order you wish, but must be eaten every 3 to 5 hours, starting within an hour of getting up in the morning.

Below is my meal plan, along with the meal times that work best for my schedule.  I’m tempted to share the actual recipes, but that seems unfair to the author … sorry!!  She actually offers some great suggestions for seasoning and salad dressing.  I also like that the recipes are made for one person, not the usual 3-4 that can make portions tricky. 

  • Meal 1 (6am) – scrambled eggs with spinach; raspberries and almonds.  2 cups water.
  • Meal 2 (10am) – yogurt parfait with raspberries and almonds.  2 cups water.
  • Meal 3 (2pm) – spinach salad with raspberries, almonds, boiled egg.  2 cups water.
  • Meal 4 (6pm) – smoothie with yogurt, raspberries, almond butter, ice.  2 cups water.

If I had to come up with a criticism, just based on my initial preview, I’d say it’s the lack of color and pictures.  I am a visual person, so a picture of the prepared recipes would have been nice.  So I’ll take my own and post them tommorrow when I make the meals for Day 1. 

So there you have it.  I’m ready to go!  And I got a little extra motivation over Christmas – a 2 week family vacation to Hawaii in June!  Gotta get my bikini body ready.  If I work up the courage, maybe I’ll include some monthly before-and-after pictures.  Good night world.

(FYI … I’m not being paid for this, it’s just a fun experiment!