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!

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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. *

The Vegan Experiment?

I picked up one of my husband’s magazines recently (Men’s Journal) after being sucked in by a curious title – “Going Vegan in the NFL”.  Huh?  Then was further shocked to find that the story was based on Arian Foster, a former Tennessee running back.  (Tennessee being my alma mater, and also where my husband played football in the 90’s.)  OK, now I’m intrigued.  How would a serious athlete, especially a man in the NFL that eats about 6,000 calories per day, go Vegan??

Going Vegan in the NFL

As someone who eats a lot of fruits and vegetables, and also experimented with a strict vegetarian diet for a while, I can truly appreciate the commitment it takes, as well as the social stigma.  I mean, can you imagine the stigma fora guy, much less a guy in professional sports?  That basically summarizes the article – guy reads book, goes Vegan to improve his athleticism, gets a lot of  flack from teammates and media, then proves them all wrong with his best year ever.  So naturally, I had to check out the book, The Thrive Diet, by vegan triathlete, Brendan Brazier.  Thank goodness for my Kindle – instant book and only $9.  I’ve skimmed it so far and it looks interesting.  Will continue reading…

I’ve never been a big fan of meat, but only accepted that a couple of years ago after following a friend’s lead, along with the encouragement of several other books (Cinch / Sass Yourself Slim, Skinny Bitch).  I still eat vegetarian about 50% of the team, but to be honest, I found it difficult to stick to since our society is so meat-focused.  Not to mention burdensome for my family.  I felt like every time we had a family gathering we had to focus on what Rebecca isn’t eating these days.  An otherwise very enticing menu is instantly limited to a few vegetarian-friendly items, if any at all.  Heck, in the country even the veggies are cooked with meat.    So I can’t even imagine the added difficulty of vegan – no cheese, butter, yogurt, honey, eggs.

OK, so now I’m feeling a challenge coming on.  Could I go vegan?  I’m not going to proclaim a long-term diet change, but how would I feel and look if I stuck to a vegan diet for say, 30-days?  Perhaps my new diet experiment for 2013?  And January has always been the best time for a diet experiment – no holiday gatherings or parties, a renewed sense or focus for the new year, and the whole country seems to be on a diet too.  Most of my past diet experiments have left me better off, with new menu options and lots of new food lessons.  I still follow the Cinch / Sass Yourself Slim plan of 4-balanced meals every 3-4 hours.   Then there was the movie about Juicing, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, which led to a $400 juicer and a whole lot of veggies, plus our (yep, even my husband loves it) new favorite fruit juice, “Purple Power Juice”.  And there’s been others, but those 2 were the most impactful.

So I guess I should get back to reading if I’m starting The Vegan Experiment come January 1.

Thrive Diet

Lifelong Learning

This week I’m thinking a lot about learning.  Today is my 1-year anniversary at work, and although I’ve come a very long way, I still feel like I have so much to learn!  My husband and sister both started new jobs this week and are probably overwhelmed with how much they’ll have to learn in their new roles.  But whether you’re a “lifer”, or a “newbie” in your job, I’m a firm believer in the necessity of continuous learning because things are constantly changing and we have to keep.  The things I learned in college 12 years ago are now largely obsolete, so I take every opportunity to attend local industry events, read industry publications, and network with as many people as I can.  But I don’t think learning stops at work, it’s necessary for our personal lives as well.  Take health and wellness for example.  I sometimes take for granted how much I know since it’s been a passion of mine for a decade and I love to read about it, so when I’m talking to other people who are just getting started, I have to remember that they’re still learning the basics.  My sister has moved across the country and is trying to embark on a healthier lifestyle, and the grocery store is her first battleground.  Unlike me, who thoroughly enjoys the grocery wonderland, she sees it as a maze of too many food choices with confusing and sometimes conflicting nutritional information.

 

A few of her questions, and maybe yours too… Is bread bad for me?  I thought you’re suppose to avoid dairy?  Does fruit have too much sugar?  Good grief!  No wonder everyone is confused.  Even after 10 years, I’m still tweaking my diet based on what makes me feel the best, and I will never give up my beloved ice cream, but the simple answer is that everyone is different.  One person might need to avoid gluten and dairy, while others follow a high-carb, low-fat diet.  My simplest suggestion is to first focus on learning how to eat a balanced diet.  I think Cynthia Sass did a great job of summarizing this in her books (Cinch & Sass Yourself Slim), by outlining that every meal should include 5 puzzle pieces:

  1. Produce (fruits & veggies)
  2. Whole Grains (bread, rice, pasta)
  3. Lean Protein (chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, dairy)
  4. Plant-based Fat:  (nuts, avocados, edamame / soy, coconut/olive/canola oil)
  5. Natural seasonings (herbs, vinegar, citrus juice)

Forget counting calories if that’s not your thing, just build properly portioned meals using these 5 puzzle pieces.  I’m sure you’ve got some ideas just reading through the list.  Not sure how to portion and don’t want to buy the book?  Use a small plate – most of the plate should be your produce, then the whole grain, then a palm-size serving of protein, plus whatever fat & seasonings you’re adding.  This is very similar to the USDA’s new “My Plate“.  Or here’s an idea – just eat slowly and stop when you’re full!  Here’s an old blog post I did that shows how I used the puzzle pieces for a few different meals, and on a tight budget!  https://rockytoprebecca.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/cinch-on-a-budget/.

Hopefully I did my part to offer you a little education today!  Happy learning…

Click the apple for a “Food Labeling 101” article.