Foodie Penpals reveal!

It’s Foodie Penpals reveal day!

A few weeks ago I came home to a package at my door. I think I literally squealed with delight. As someone who mostly gets credit card offers and bills in the mail, this was a welcomed change!

Melissa, who doesn’t have a blog, was my Foodie Penpal this month and sent me a great box of goodies!

I immediately dropped everything to open to the box and then tore right into the 100 calorie dark chocolate bar. It was that kind of day. I practiced a massive amount of self control to not eat the second one that was also in the box.

Then I dipped a spoon into each of these jams. The cinnamon (!!!) pear jam tasted exactly like apple pie filling and a taste of the mango jam transported me me back to breakfasts in India. Every morning for breakfast we would have slices of toast that were served with this bright purple jam and something about the flavor of the mango spread really took me back there.

I just finished the cranberry health mix and am still working my way through the Asian trail mix. The cranberry mix was packed with nuts and seeds and some dried fruit. I took handfuls during the week when I needed a snack to hold me over between meals. The Asian trail mix was super crunchy and had lots of spicy bits in it like Wasabi peas. Mmmm.

Melissa also included a spice mix that I’ve been shaking on everything! I typically use Adobo as my go-to seasoning, but I find that it sometimes makes foods too salty – this mixture had just the right amount of salt. I also liked that it wasn’t ground into a fine powder and I can tell what the different ingredients are.

This was my first month participating and I can’t wait to do it again.

Want to get involved too? Read this!

And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Penpals.

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 

If you’re interested in participating for August, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by August 4th as pairings will be emailed on August 5th!

*If you’re from somewhere besides the US, Canada or Europe and want to participate, send me an email and I’ll see if we get enough interest this month!

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Walk. Eat. Sleep.

My fur nephew and I happen to have the same favorite activities: eating, walking and sleeping!

I’m watching Tyler – the part-terrier, part-chihuahua bolt of energy – for the next week while my sister and her family are at the beach.

So far we’ve had a pretty good time.

On Sunday we woke up early and walked a mile before breakfast.

Oatmeal for me…

Oatmeal with pumpkin, chia seeds, egg whites and honey

Puppy chow for him.

Then it was back to sleep for both of us! I’m usually a great sleeper, but the past few nights I’ve been tossing and turning so I definitely needed the extra time to snooze.

We stayed snuggled until my stomach started growling for lunch. I made baked eggs for the first time which involved microwaving some chopped veggies for 2 minutes before cracking two eggs into a baking dish. The whole thing went into a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes and then was topped with shredded cheddar cheese. It was a great one-dish meal for a quick lunch.

Zucchini, asparagus, tomato and two eggs

The rest of the day was spent shopping with my friend Tracey who is only home for three weeks before heading back to New Orleans for grad school. We went up to the outlets at Woodbury Commons in New York and spent about four hours in retail heaven.

After dropping her back off at home I went to Whole Foods. I was starving and there was an empty fridge at home so I filled a bowl – and my stomach – with my favorite salad bar items before filling up my cart with groceries.

Kale & avocado salad, sesame tofu, carrot salad, fake “beef” and beet salad

Tyler and I went on a two-mile walk as the sun set and now he’s curled up at my feet while I blog. It was a great weekend full of long walks, good friends and delicious food.

Happy Monday everyone and be sure to stop by the blog tomorrow for the reveal of Foodie Penpals!!

 

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

First of all, I was overwhelmed in a really, really good way with all the comments I received on my last post – both on the blog, in person, in text message. Everything. I am humbled and grateful for the support of everyone in my life and on the internet. For that I have to say – Thank you.

It’s really scary for me to talk about things I’ve been strongly avoiding and holding back talking about my whole life. I never wanted anyone to know I binged, or felt out of control around food. It seemed like a weakness or some kind of failure on my part.

At the end of the day, I write this blog because I need to. Because putting words on a page (or a screen) is therapeutic. Writing is a huge stress reliever for me. That people might relate, might in some small way be connected or uplifted or changed by something I write – it fills me with hope and inspires me to keep going in the direction I’m going.

I’m taking each day moment by moment. Being kind to myself. Taking extra time to rest, reflect and feel present as change happens in my life (good change I can share with the blog soon!). I tend to freak out when I’m off my routine…and now that my lovely routine is about to completely change – albeit in a good way – I’m nervous. Part of being healthy is being able to adapt to change. Be flexible. Make room for new things. I’m getting better at it. Writing helps, and hearing from you, dear readers, that you relate, absolutely made my day.

I’m going to write a lot more about this in the future…but for now…a recipe!

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

serves four.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quick-cook oats
  • 2 bananas, over-ripe
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • 1/4 cup of flaxmeal
  • 1-1/2 cup milk (your preference – I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Here’s the thing – I’m impatient. You probably could  mix all the dry ingredients first. Then mix all the wet ingredients. Then combine in some slow, calculated manner. But I didn’t.

I put all of the ingredients in to one big bowl (then added “get more mixing bowls” to my food shopping list) and mashed everything together until it seemed like everyone had kind of gotten to know everyone else at the party. The delicious food party.

Then I divided the mixture into four ramekins, or, as I lovingly call them: Single Lady Baking Cups.

I forgot to spray the ramekins first – but you probably should.

If you don’t have single lady baking cups, or you’re not a single lady, feel free to use whatever baking dish you want. Muffin tins would also work for smaller portion sizes.

I popped the ramekins in the oven at 350 for about 35 minutes then checked every 5 minutes until they were done to my liking. The tops were brown and crunchy and the inside was soft and gooey. Perfect.

After they cooled for a while, I took them out of the ramekins and let them cool even more on a rack before sticking them in the refrigerator to eat during the week. In the morning I stick them the microwave for 2 minutes and enjoy with coffee 🙂

This was my first time experimenting with baked oatmeal and I can’t wait to do it again. It combines everything I love. Ripe bananas. Oatmeal. Cinnamon. And quick and healthy breakfasts.

Happy Friday and have a delicious weekend!

 

Honesty

I wanted to have a bunch of fun pictures of food to share with you today.

But instead, I need to write a different kind of post.

An honest post.

I don’t usually write any commentary about my weigh-ins each week because they are just numbers. They reflect something, but not everything. They tell a portion of a bigger story.

If my numbers were to speak this week they would say “I’m stressed out.”

I have a lot of big changes coming up in my life and a couple of other curve balls have been thrown my way recently and I’m handling it by snacking more than usual.

And you know what? That’s ok.

When I feel like this, bummed about a few pounds gained, I remind myself that I’m in this for the long haul. All in. For good.

A few pounds gained one week doesn’t mean my week was bad. It doesn’t mean my life is bad. It doesn’t mean I’ve failed somehow.

I still struggle with binge eating, and those urges came on strong this week.

While my binges aren’t nearly as destructive as they used to be (i.e. entire bags of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups) the feeling of being out of control around food, whether it’s trail mix or pizza, still makes me feel just as unsettled.

At some point, I want to stop counting calories but I think within me lies a fear that I’ll lose control completely.

I still struggle with trusting myself around food and finding a balance.

I know how it is to be fat. I know how it is to be working toward being less fat. But I’m not sure I know how it is to just be.

I don’t have a nice way to wrap this post up. It’s a glimpse, the tip of the iceberg, to the mountain of issues that come out when you tackle disordered eating.

My head’s a little cloudy, but I’m doing my best to fight through the fog with positive thinking.

I am enough

I am enough

I am enough

Now…The Numbers

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 162.5

This week: 164.5

Change: 2

Total loss: 78.5

 

 

Rollin’ on the river

Monday already?

I had a fun-filled weekend.

A mani/pedi Friday afternoon.

Modest Mouse at The Wellmont on Friday night.

Tubing down the Delaware River for my best friend’s birthday all day Saturday.

Cleaning out my closet, doing laundry and food shopping, cooking/prepping for the week all day Sunday.

Am I the only one that gets totally distracted by looking through old memorabilia while they clean? Like this ticket to see Fall Out Boy from 2005…I was a senior in high school!

There’s also been a lot of snacking on all the goodies I received from Melissa, my Foodie Penpal! I can’t wait to reveal what was inside on July 31!

Time for a refill on my iced coffee and to tackle the week! See you Wednesday 🙂

Forget me not

Today I express gratitude for:

1. The wonderful, supportive people in my life. You give me light.

2. Uninterrupted time at the end of the day to walk, think, breathe and be.

3. My body. It’s energy.

4. All past experiences. They have brought me to this moment.

5. Having a safe, quiet, and dark place to rest and unwind at night.

6. Listening to my intuition and having faith in my inner voice. Fear not, self.

7. The trust and love I receive from the Universe.

8. Turning feelings of “have not” into “enough.”

9. An abundance of love and smiles.

10. Being open to life.

Source: etsy.com via Jodi on Pinterest

Eats on repeat

Life, my friends, is delicious

Hello. And welcome to What I ate Wednesday! On display today are Monday’s meals and snacks.

This week is pretty much last week’s eats…on repeat. I, of course, never get sick of oatmeal, and I’m especially smitten on these blueberry protein-packed oats. Though this week I subbed chia seeds for the flax meal.

To make this giant bowl of oatmeal, combine 1/2 cup of oats, 2 tbsp of chia seeds and 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries with 2 cups of water. The extra cup of water is important because those chia seeds just soak all the liquid right up.

Then cook like you would regular oatmeal, stirring occasionally. When the oats are almost done, add 1/2 cup of liquid egg whites. WHISK for at least two minutes until the oatmeal gets thick like a custard and then turn off the heat completely and cover for five minutes.

When you come back, you will have the most luscious bow of oatmeal. Smooth, creamy, warm and, best of all, blue.

Lunch was the same salad I had last week: Spinach, strawberries, almonds, avocado and chicken sausage. For a snack, I munched on some of the breakfast cookies I made a few weeks ago.

If you follow me on pinterest, you may have noticed my obsession with all things oatmeal raisin. Typical oatmeal raisin cookies have a lot of sugar, so I searched for a healthier option and found this recipe, which of course I modified.

Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies (Vegan, no flour, egg and dairy free…and delicious!)

  • 1-1/2 cups of oats
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1/4 cup of flax meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla and a few shakes of cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Spoon the “cookie dough” into whatever size cookies you want onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Let the cookies cool on a rack until you want to eat them 🙂

Two of these with a spoonful of almond butter makes for a great and sustaining breakfast or a good mid-day snack.

I’ve been turning up the heat at dinner with lots of fun Indian spices. I took a visit to an Indian grocery store this weekend and picked up some Tikka Masala sauce for Tofu Tikka Masala.

I can’t get enough of tofu recently. Once in a while I’ll have a craving for it and when I do the craving comes on strong! In this bowl is zucchini, asparagus, cauliflower, a plum tomato and 3 oz of extra firm tofu. I sautee the vegetables first with turmeric (which gives it the yellow color) and a teaspoon of grapeseed oil. When the vegetables are almost done I add 2 tbsp of the tikka sauce and the tofu. A few minutes later I have a deliciously spicy dinner.

Since this dinner is pretty low in calories, I’ve been following it up with a green monster smoothie made with a scoop of chocolate protein powder, half a banana and 1 cup of frozen spinach and a few ice cubes. This satisfied my nighttime sweet tooth while getting in an extra serving of fruits and vegetables. And it’s cold, which matters a lot since the temperatures are up around 90 degrees again and I have no air condition.

Now…The Numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 164.5

This week: 162.5

Change: -2

Total loss: 80.5

Break through

I hit the wall, or so I thought.

I’ve been feeling caged. Claustrophobic. Deprived. And not content.

Feeling like I’m caught in a routine gone stale. A routine that moves on spinning gears but no passion.

My instinct is to say that these feelings were bound to surface eventually. For a year and a half I’ve been living a different life than the one I’ve known. All that effort put toward creating a new self was due to one day bring me to this point. The point where I wanted to…give up. Stop everything and return to a place with more cushions.

It’s the wall. The metaphorical wall. Where I find myself at the bottom of, too tired to climb.

Too worn out to even look for a foothold.

Not caring to lift my head and see if there’s a rope to grab.

A wall, that in all reality, was likely one I built at some point with my own brick and mortar of issues.

But, as I write this, I’m actually feeling uplifted.

Because, for the first time, I don’t believe this wall to be about my weight.

For my entire life I thought I was blocked by a number. The word “fat” stood between me and happiness when really the walls were feelings that, for years, contributed to my disordered eating and weight gain.

Doubt.

Fear.

Insecurity.

Those are the battles I’m fighting. The walls I’m working to break down.

Not my weight. Not a scale. Not waning motivation.

Unfortunately, losing weight doesn’t make those parts of me magically disappear.

My weight did a great deal in helping me avoid facing those things, however.

I believed that anything negative in my life was because of my weight. Because of my appearance. I believed good things were off limits. Out of reach.

I live in a different world now.

One where I’m holding an all-access pass to my life.

Good things come my way because I believe life to be good.

I set and accomplish goals. I work toward things.

Life opened itself up to me when I showed the Universe I was open to it.

Breaking through a wall, or breaking down a wall, doesn’t happen like you see in the movies. With a running start, an angled shoulder, crashing bricks and a perfect somersault landing.

Really I think it’s a process in where you chip away slowly, consistently, and find joy in the pinholes of light that shine through the cracks.

I thought I hit the wall. This weekend I was ready to write a post that said something more like, “I need a break.”

Instead, I’m going to do the easy thing. Reframe the wall.

Take the journey inward and stop saying that I’ve hit a wall.

I’ve been feeling antsy, like I’m just ready to be done. To say, “this was great” but I’m out here treading water and need a life raft.

It’s a scary place to be when you put yourself out there each and every day. Each day going a little further into completely unknown territory.

But whatever it is that’s signaling me to stop – whether it’s doubt, fear or insecurity – are actually probably signals of change if I approach each of the feelings from a different perspective.

I’ve done it before.

I lost weight by believing I was in a place where I was already more than a number and more than the word fat.

That’s how you bring down the wall. If I had let my weight stand in my way, believed it to be a challenge instead of just something that was part of my life, I think I would have given up a long time ago. By the time I was ready to lose weight, the word “fat” didn’t hold any power.

This is what I come back to time and time again when I’m up against a challenge. A roadblock.  A wall.

If I could do it once – change a belief about myself that ran so deep, that I clung to – than there is nothing stopping me from believing that I could break through and break down anything I perceive to be in my way.

There are a lot of things that I could tell you weight loss has taught me.

But first among them is that change is possible. From wherever you are and whatever you are up against.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi

Color me full

This week, I couldn’t bear to show only one day of food.

There were too many colorful meals from which to choose.

Many times where berries stole the show.

July 4 breakfast: Greek yogurt, blueberries, watermelon, strawberries and a few almonds

Even blended, they were determined to be noticed.

Smoothie: blueberries, banana, chocolate protein powder, and avocado

In oatmeal, they popped out and demanded attention.

Protein-packed oatmeal: Oats, blueberries, flaxseed meal and egg whites

Protein-packed oatmeal: Oats, blueberries, flaxseed meal and egg whites

But then the greens marched in.

Vibrant, fresh, crunchy, and refreshing.

Green monster: banana, chocolate protein powder, frozen spinach

I lunched with layers and layers of fresh baby spinach, raw broccoli (my favorite) and avocado piled on top.

Lunch this week: Spinach, broccoli, strawberries, almonds, and (unpictured) avocado and a spinach and feta chicken sausage

A zucchini sliced thin made for a fun twist on a personal pizza over the weekend.

Whole wheat pocketless pita with marinara sauce, zucchini and shredded sharp cheddar.

And when heated, the asparagus shone an even brighter green and were perfect for dipping in bright yellow yolks.

Spicy asparagus and zucchini with two eggs sunny-side up

Spicy sautéed asparagus and zucchini with two eggs sunny-side up

Produce was a priority this week.

Summer only lasts so long.

Bring on the heat if it also means berries, peaches, cherries, summer squash, asparagus and watermelon.

And just in time for the fitness part of this month’s WIAW, I got my first taste of the kettlebell.

My trainer, sensing his limited time left, practically killed me yesterday.

Squats with a kettlebell.

Tricep kickbacks with a kettlebell.

Kettlebell deadlifts.

Lucky for you, my fingers are about the only thing not sore right now.

It was one of my favorite workouts ever. Me and the kettlebell – friends for life.

Now…The Numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 164.5

This week: 164.5

Change: 0

Total loss: 78.5

Choosing a personal trainer

In just five weeks, my one-year membership to Retro Fitness will be over.

And with that ends the twice-weekly visits with my trainer.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year. Time has seriously gone fast.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s next for me in terms of fitness, if I should renew my membership to Retro or join a different gym and what I’ve gotten out of my year of training sessions.

I’ve loved having a trainer because working with him has given me confidence in the gym to use different machines or free weights and to know I’m using them correctly.

A year ago, I was one of those people who probably would have said that I wouldn’t like exercising with a trainer, but now I’m definitely going to miss the guided gym sessions.

I think it’s a great experience that everyone should try, and if you’re thinking about signing up for a trainer here are some of the things I’ve learned and tips on how to choose one that will be right for you:

1. Ask about their certifications and background. I feel like I hit the jackpot with my trainer. He is the epitome of someone who talks the talk and walks the walk. The man lives and breathes fitness and nutrition. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical and resistant to trust him when we first met but he changed my mind in the first five minutes by being able to identify weak areas of my body just by watching me do a few exercises.

If I were to look for another trainer, I would ask what kind of people they have experience working with and what certifications they have. For instance, my trainer is certified to work with a whole range of people from the very elderly to pregnant women, and I know he’s one of the few at Retro who can do that. Along with his training certifications, he holds degrees in fitness and in microbiology.

He also speaks three languages, but that’s just an added bonus :).

2. Ask the trainer what they do to stay healthy. My trainer is a bit at the extreme – he won’t drink alcohol or eat sweets or unhealthy food ever and is very into how his body looks and moves – but I like that about him. While I’m more moderate in my approach to healthy living, it’s very motivating to be around someone who never gives into pressure to take a day off from an active healthy lifestyle.

We talk a lot about food and cooking and he yells at me when I tell him I drink alcohol and he thinks peanut butter is the devil – although I’ve been trying to change his mind on the latter.

Personal training is more than just a job for him, it’s his life and passion, and that absolutely has made a difference.

3. Watch how the trainer acts with other clients. I got a great deal money-wise for my sessions ($20 for a half hour), but affording a personal trainer still created a deep crater in my meager budget. In light of that, I wanted to make sure I made the most of every minute of time I was paying for. I see a lot of trainers at the gym texting on their phone while their client is working out or drinking coffee or engaging in a lot of small talk and I wanted to make sure that the trainer I worked with didn’t do any of that.

(source)

My trainer is at my side every second of the half hour pushing me or making sure my form is correct.

I let him know from the very beginning that it was a sacrifice for me to pay for the time and that I took my goals very seriously and expected the same of him.

I told him about the progress I had already made and told him this was not just a phase of me, or part of a resolution, but a total life change.

On my end, I made sure to never, ever show up late to an appointment and never skip an appointment – I think after he saw how dedicated I was it made him work harder too.

4. Have reasonable expectations. This tip is less about choosing a trainer and more about IF you should choose a trainer.

Here’s the reality: if you’re not already devoted to working out, signing up for a personal trainer and even joining a gym is is probably not going to change that.

(source)

I know too many people who are paying for gym memberships that they never use. I also can’t tell you how many times I would be working out and the other trainers would be standing around waiting for their clients to show up.

When I joined the gym I was already working out 6 days a week. I signed up because winter was approaching and I didn’t want to let the cold weather be an excuse to not work out.

Before I had the trainer I was also doing things like pilates and yoga vidoes on Netflix.

There are a lot of free resources out there, so make sure you’re already committed to being at the gym or dedicating time to exercise before you sign a contract because they’re hard to break and expensive.

Yes, a trainer is helpful in providing things like meal plans and showing you exercise routines, but at the end of the day it’s going to be up to you to follow through on your goals consistently.

5. Know what you’re doing and why. Obviously there has been physical progress from using a trainer, but I think the number one thing I’ve gotten out of my sessions has been knowledge. This is your time with a professional, don’t waste it talking about a stressful day at work or fight with a friend. Use the time to pick their brains about healthy living. You won’t have a personal trainer forever and you want to be able to work out just as effectively without one so it’s good to know why you are doing the exercises and what they will do for your body.

6. Speak up if something hurts but don’t complain if it’s just hard. As good as trainers are at knowing bodies, they aren’t mind readers. Make sure you always say something if a certain move hurts or if you’re already sore from a previous work out. My trainer starts every session with me by asking how I’m feeling, if anything hurts, etc. Talk honestly about how a move makes you feel so your trainer knows if you are doing it right. Mine constantly checks in with me to see where I’m feeling the burn or feeling the stretch to make sure the exercise is doing what it’s supposed to. Alternatively, if you’re doing strength training and the weight is too light – speak up! You get out of training what you put in so definitely become an active participant in your sessions.