Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Random Updates

So this is just gonna be a slightly random post and I'm not entirely sure what category it falls under. I couldn't decide so I just ended up adding another section under health&fitness where you'll be able to find these. Basically I just wanted to do posts like this every so often because I feel like sometimes we can forget (maybe it's just me) that people on the internet or social media are actual real-life people. Usually we only get a snapshot of their life but I wanted to go beyond that. A lot of what happens during my day may not fall into one of the categories of recipes, fitness, or beauty which is why this post is random!

This blog is about my journey, the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the pretty and the guys get the picture. So, what I plan on doing with these random posts is to hold me accountable for opening myself up to my readers. Hopefully by now you guys can tell that I strive to be honest with you guys regardless of how my day is going.

Every so often I just want to do a random post with just a typical day whether good or bad. It's probably not going to be on a set schedule but whenever I feel like it's time to share again. I just want to be real and show people that my life is far from perfect, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

So, to go along with the randomness here's what I've been up to lately!

In case you guys didn't know, yesterday was National Dog Day. I had no clue until someone told me and then I saw all the posts about it on social media. Well, of course I had to play my part because I happen to have the best pup in the world! For those of you who believe you have the best dog too, let's not argue but agree to disagree? I'm sure we all think we have the best dog but that's how it's supposed to be :)

Call me sappy or a crazy dog person but this little nugget has brought so much joy and happiness to my life! I mean talk about a blessing because I love this dog to pieces. No matter what kind of day I'm having I know the little bright spot on the horizon is her greeting when I come home for the day! Also, for those of you thinking I'm a crazy dog person I took a quiz on Barkpost and I'll have you know that they said my results were ideal: I might be crazy about my dog but I don't let her run the show, she knows I'm the boss. Although I realize that sharing the fact that I took a quiz about being a crazy dog person probably just reinforces the fact that I seem like a crazy dog person. Oh well, I have no regrets! 

This weekend I finally got around to making my own homemade iced coffee. I have no clue why it took me literally all summer to make it but I wish now that I had been making it all summer! All I did was brew the coffee the night before, let it cool in a mason jar, and then stuck it in the fridge overnight. The next morning I poured it over ice in my mug and added my usual creamer. That's all it took and it was so much more refreshing than having warm coffee on an 80 degree morning! 

We also went for a nice long hike on Sunday afternoon at Frick Park which is a bit of a drive from our house but it's worth it. It was absolutely gorgeous out and there were hardly any people around so it was really serene and peaceful. For some reason I was feeling kind of ansty all weekend so I just wanted to get out and stretch my legs. Layla absolutely loves going to Frick and it's a great place for her to socialize since there are plenty of other dogs around. 

I've been lifting and doing HIIT cardio for the past few weeks, and even though I love the results I'm getting, a part of me really misses running. So this morning I snuck in a 3 mile run into my workout schedule instead of doing a HIIT session. I figured replacing one session with a run wouldn't do any harm this week. It's been a great week training-wise so far and I actually emailed my trainer this morning because I was too excited about my progress to wait until check-in to update her! Even though last week was rough, it just proved the point to myself that I had to keep going and be consistent, and that the results would come. Like I said it's been a game of patience for me! 

I wasn't exactly thrilled with my time because usually I run about a 9 minute mile. I took Layla with me this morning and we were both lagging a bit. We were doing fine until about halfway through when the humidity really got worse, and we started to struggle from there. In the end, though, my time doesn't matter because it was great to be able to get out and run so I'm thankful that I'm still able to do that! There was a time when I couldn't run at all due to injuries so I'm thankful to have my health, and a pretty adorable running buddy :)

After my run, I had a peanut butter smoothie (minus the banana) and overnight oats!

Also, what would a random post be without a little more randomness? After my sister stopped at Trader Joe's, these magical little buggers appeared in our pantry which means I'm going to spend a lot of my carbs on these today! I mean what else is IIFYM for?!

I hope you all are having a wonderful week so far!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

One-pot Brown Rice and Snap Pea Stir Fry

Yesterday when I got home from the gym my sister was wonderful enough to have dinner ready for me! There was just one minor drawback-- she forgot that we decided on brown rice and made me brussel sprouts instead. It wasn't a huge deal at all but for those of you who plan your macros like I do, it can be hard to make little last minute adjustments like that. Sadly, brussel sprouts just weren't going to fit but luckily we had some brown rice on hand that doesn't take too long to make!

I love the quick-cook organic Basmati rice from Trader Joe's so it was a lifesaver when I had to make some rice last minute. The chicken was already made by my lovely sister and I had already planned on adding some snap peas to make myself a little rice bowl. As the rice was cooking, an idea occurred to me. Why don't I just make stir fry?
Then even better yet, why don't I just make it all in this pan as the rice is cooking? I was pretty impatient at this point since I was starving and my muscles were still shaking so bad from my workout. I figured I had nothing to lose because even if this didn't work out I'd eat it anyway, I was pretty desperate for food at this point. Once the rice had been reduced to a simmer, I added my chopped up snap peas so that they could steam a bit. I added in some salt, pepper, and garlic powder too and let all that steam together. I probably put the snap peas in for the last 5 minutes, the rice only takes about 15 minutes total.

Once the rice and snap peas were fully cooked together, I added in the chicken, fresh garlic, soy sauce, and a dash of sesame oil. I kept the lid off and turned up the heat a bit to let the flavors all come together like I usually do for a stir fry. Yes it wasn't the traditional stir fry pan but the flavor was still pretty much the same!

It was really simple and quick, and I'm glad that it turned out well! I'll definitely try making more of my stir fry's similar to this. Usually I make my vegetables in a separate pan from the rice which just causes more dishes for me to clean up in the end. If I can improve a recipe that saves time and clean-up then I'm all for it. 

Also: don't worry those brussel sprouts didn't go to waste! I made myself an egg white veggie scramble to have as lunch the next day and just subbed in the sprouts for my veggie. It turned out to be delicious!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Quinoa Chip Salad

I have a new obsession that has replaced my love of using popcorn as croutons: quinoa chips. They're basically like a tortilla chip only made with quinoa! My sister found them at Sam's Club and I'm completely in love with using them on salads. All I do is crumble up one or two on top and voila! I have fauxtons-- that's my new highly scientific term for fake croutons.

I've tried other brands of quinoa chips but this one is my favorite by far. I've been really impressed with Sam's Club lately and their expansion of their snacks and other foods. They have a lot more organic and non GMO brands now, and are definitely appealing to a wider volume of customers. Sure it's probably for business reasons but at the same time it benefits me!

I was pretty much sold when I found out they'd be carrying my favorite line of popcorn-- Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn but quinoa chips are just the icing on the cake.

So when I saw them in the pantry
I knew I wanted to add them to a salad!
It added just the right amount to crunch to the salad
without any extra unhealthiness. 

I'm not the biggest fan of croutons to start with because
they always just taste really processed and stale to me,
no matter how fresh they might actually be. 

These chips were the perfect substitute! 

This salad had: 
organic mixed greens
red grapes
yellow peppers
mini heirloom tomatoes
egg whites
red quinoa chips, crumbled
feta cheese
raspberry balsamic vinaigrette 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Honesty Hour: Weathering the Storm

I'm going to be 100% honest here and say that this past week has been a struggle. Even though I did all my workouts and hit my macros, I just felt a little off and bloated. It was really discouraging because I felt like I wasn't making any progress. I've been working with my trainer to build more lean muscle and let me tell you, it has been a test of my patience. 

It turns out that's a good thing though. Yes it's only been a few weeks which isn't a lot of time but each day I have had to fight my irrational thoughts. Especially when I did my weekly check-in this Monday and found that I made zero progress in the last week. I was so frustrated with my body because I was bloated and that was causing my measurements to increase!

It didn't make any sense because I did everything I was supposed to that past week. I hit all my macros, pushed myself through every rep, and drank my water. And what did I get for it? No visible progress. 

The week got worse as my body was stubbornly holding onto that bloat. I was hard put not to just suddenly slash my calories and amp up the cardio. As each day went by and my body didn't respond, I grew more desperate and weak. 

This might seem silly and dramatic to some people, but I wanted to give up. I thought to myself that it wasn't going to work and that I wouldn't reach my goals. Slowly but surely those negative thoughts were taking root in my head, and as each day passed I allowed them more freedom. 

By this morning, I was dangerously close to falling back into old habits. That little voice in my ear telling me that all this could be fixed if I cut my calories and went into cardio overload. It was so simple and I would see results with my body. 

But then I thought to myself, would it? Would it actually fix things? 

It was a back-and-forth struggle that went on the entire time I was at the gym this morning. I hate to admit it but at one point I was leaning more towards falling into bad habits. And I'll tell you simply why: I was scared. Scared that all of this was for nothing and that I wouldn't reach my goal. I have been pushing myself out of my comfort zone and it would be so much easier to return to what I have known before. 

Then suddenly a song came on my iPod called "It's Not Over Yet" by For King & Country. I was honestly in the middle of a dead lift when I put the weight down because it spoke straight to my heart. 
"And they are inside your head, you got a voice that sounds you won't get pass this one"
"To everyone who's hit their limit, it's not over yet."
"It's not over yet." 

It hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt like I had been slapped upside the head by God. I was completely shaken out of whatever rut I had been in all week, and suddenly my head was clearer than it had been in days. Going back to restricting myself wouldn't get me to my goal, and in fact it would set me miles back. I've worked hard to get myself to this point and I'd be throwing away all that progress including what I've been working on in the past few weeks. 

I kid you not but every single song after that was exactly what I needed to hear. It gave me strength, determination, but most importantly peace. I can't explain it properly with words but I simply know I'm on the right path. Everything that I've been through the past couple years and the struggles with my body have been for a reason. And that reason has never been clearer to me than today. 

As if the songs weren't enough, my Instagram has been flooded today with people experiencing similar things. I follow a lot of female lifters or IIFYM girls for inspiration and motivation, and today I was grateful for their posts. A lot of them are in the midst of prep weeks for their shows and they were sharing a lot of their struggles today. It was exactly what I needed because it gave me firm belief that I need to continue with my consistency. It's been a test of patience and I know that it will continue to be but I have hope. I have trust in the process but more importantly I have trust in God. Whatever path I may be carving right now, I know that in the end it's what's been mapped out for me already. 

Sometimes you simply have to have faith while weathering the storm, waiting to come out the other side. I was in the midst of one this week but I've finally reached calmer waters for the time being. Now, I'm not saying I won't have another one of these weeks where I'm frustrated or discouraged but what I am saying is that I know that they can't break me. 

Because what can be broken that God has already fixed?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chicken Wrapadillas

Remember the wraps I used when making banana wraps? Well I decided to use them to make chicken quesadillas last night and it was delicious! It was really easy to throw together and took me no time at all to make them. 

The best part was that these wraps were very macro-friendly! They're lower in carbs than bread which made it easier for me to fit them in. It's all about balance and by adding chicken and cheese, I was able to meet my protein and fats as well. 

After my gym session of hitting back and biceps plus a 30-minute HIIT workout, my muscles were begging for food and this quesadilla definitely hit the spot! I was too starving to wait to eat the quesadilla so I made an egg-white veggie scramble really quickly to eat as I was prepping the quesadillas. I try to eat about 30-60 minutes after a workout to give my body proper recovery fuel. Since I had to drive home, shower, and change waiting for the quesadillas was pushing the 60 minutes! Plus I'm just not always very patient especially when I'm hangry :)

So, all I did was take two wraps then spread 1/2 tbsp of pesto on each side. Then I took half the cheese I was using and laid it across the bottom wrap. Then I added the chicken (already grilled and shredded a bit), then the other half of the cheese, then finally the second wrap on top. 

That way as the cheese melts, it'll hold the chicken in and act as a seal between the two wraps! On my quesadilla I used feta cheese, chicken, and pesto. Yeah I know not the typical quesadilla ingredients but it's what I wanted! For my mom's I just used chicken and mozzarella cheese since she didn't want any sauce. You can pretty much customize this recipe to fit whatever you like! 

I was disappointed that we didn't have any salsa because I think that could've been good to put in the quesadilla, too. Obviously without the pesto, though! 

To cook the quesadillas: 

1. Spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray and on the outside of each wrap, for good measure

2. Cook on each side for a few minutes. I flipped it once the bottom was turning a golden brown and the bottom layer of cheese was fully melted. 

Just a warning: it can be kinda tricky to flip the quesadillas! I used the largest spatula we had as well as utilizing my cat-like reflexes ;) just kidding I don't have those at all. I actually considered myself very lucky that I managed to flip both of them without any problems! In fact, I still have no idea how I managed it..

3. Once the outsides are both browned and crisp and the cheese is melted, the quesadilla is ready! 

I garnished mine with lettuce, tomatoes, blue tortilla chips, and some extra cheese. Of course I would have loved to use salsa too but sadly we were out!

I spy a little black nose...she's always trying to mooch! I have her well-trained not to beg from me but my mom is another story...

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Labels Smabels

For those of you who have been following this blog and some of the articles I post about, you had to have known this one was coming.

As soon as I saw the posts on Facebook and other social media, my jaw dropped. I was in total shock because the whole idea was utterly, completely, and absurdly ridiculous.

Apparently, according to Cosmopolitan Magazine, and I have decided that they have lost all competency in passing judgment in this area, that this girl is plus-size:

Image courtesy of Cosmopolitan Magazine
You've got to be kidding me! I don't care how much the article praised her looks and beauty, in the end it all seemed back-handed to me.

"She looks BEYOND sexy"...for a plus-sized model.

"She's looking good"...for a woman who doesn't meet the ideal standards.

Maybe that's just me taking it the wrong way by being sensitive to this whole issue but as someone who has struggled for most of their life with very poor body image, this struck deep for me.

With some effort, I understand that maybe Cosmo was trying to do some good by featuring a plus-sized model in their magazine. They might've been trying to represent more of the average woman, and the fact that they did not digitally alter her pictures is somewhat encouraging. But that all got canceled out as soon as they labeled her as "plus-sized".

Honestly, I think the best possible course of action that Cosmo could have done is simply have the feature of Robyn and her swimwear, and not have mentioned a thing about her size. Leaving labels clearly out of it and not even draw attention to her body. The feature was supposed to be about her swimwear, right? So why not just talk about the bathing suits and don't even bring her size into it?

I say this because on one hand we have the usual models but then on the other hand, in an effort to announce they're going in a different direction, magazines or ads will use "plus-size" models as if to prove that they are trying to fix the problem. I'm not saying it's a bad thing that they're trying to make a difference, I'm just saying I don't agree with how it's being done. 

What happens is they play it up and focus on the fact that they're using a plus-size model but why feel the need to call her plus-size at all? Why can't it simply be a picture of a woman who isn't a size 2 and leave it at that? This is where I believe Cosmo went wrong because what they did was took a beautiful woman (which most people adamantly said she should not be plus-size) and then placed a label on her that reduced her to nothing more than her size. If Cosmo had simply just stated that Robyn was debuting her new swimwear line rather than plus-size model Robyn, I think the article would've been a hit with readers. 

I also want to talk about how it bothers me when people refer to plus-size models as 'real' women because I think that can be hurtful to models who aren't classified as plus-size. It's taking a stab at those models just because they're thinner. (*Just to clarify: I'm talking about outside photo-shopped images, obviously the pictures in the magazines aren't real). It ends up being a mean cycle of women tearing each other apart only because of the number on their clothes. We need to stop altogether with labeling women as plus-size, real, curvy, or non-plus-size. We are all just women, simple as that!

I think the best thing for the fashion industry and media to do is start integrating women of any size but simply do it without fanfare, and more importantly without labels. No one needs to draw attention to the fact that it's happening. Don't make a big deal out of it, and drop all the labels. Women shouldn't be put into categories of plus-size or not, real or fake. And for the love of God, let's just get rid of photoshop entirely.

The reason I believe this should be done without attention is because I think it would be the healthiest way for all women involved. What I mean by that is if you think about it this way: a magazine starts incorporating pictures of a model that they claim is a 'real' woman with curves and a size bigger than a 4. They're playing it up and want to draw attention to the fact that this is now what should be considered beautiful. Well, what exactly is that saying about the models who are a 0-2, that they are no longer beautiful? Because that's not right, either. ALL women are beautiful so therefore all sizes of women should be represented in the industry. There are women who are naturally slimmer, and there's nothing wrong with that! No one should be berated for their size, whether it's a 4 or a 14.

I say this since I would want my daughter to be able to see a variety of women represented in the media to show her that size doesn't matter because in the end all women are beautiful. That's what it comes down to so that's what should be portrayed in society. We need to stop with this labeling because at the end of the day it only hurts someone.

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Honey-Nut Cheerios Parfait

I picked up some fresh strawberries grocery shopping and it's been one of the best batches of the summer! I love when that happens and I can't get enough of it when the fruit is so fresh and ripe. These strawberries were spot on and I've been putting them in everything the past couple days. 

My favorite thing to add them to? A greek yogurt parfait. I'm out of granola so I've been making due with various types of cereals but it's still just as good!

My latest obsession has been 6oz of plain greek yogurt (sweetened with some stevia), 1/3 cup honey-nut cheerios, and 1/4 cup fresh strawberries. 

What's your favorite way to enjoy fresh fruit?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Egg-white Veggie Scramble

Saturday morning I whipped up some scrambled eggs and veggies as a lunch/post-workout meal. I have never liked egg yolks--the taste, texture, whatever it is about them I'm not a fan. So I like to leave them out and stick with liquid egg whites. 

I get the all-natural organic liquid egg whites from Trader Joe's and make sure there aren't any funny preservatives or ingredients in them. My sister says it's unnatural and the liquid ones freak her out but I'd rather eat them then waste all the yolks I would throw out. 

This was a great post-workout meal because it was packed with protein as well as nutrients from the vegetables. I chopped up 3/4 of a yellow bell pepper and diced 1/2 cup sugar snap peas to add in with the egg whites. 

All I did was scramble the egg whites with some salt and pepper until they were nearly cooked and then added in the veggies. I cooked it for another couple minutes until the peppers and snap peas were softened and then dug in!

Sorry for the not-so-great picture quality because the steam kept fogging up the lens!

I also had one of my trusty balance bars on the side for that extra protein, cookie dough flavor of course. Gotta keep up with my macros :)

This is also great for making ahead if you know you'll need a post-workout or snack on the go. I made one last night and then brought it with me to the gym this morning to eat on my way to work. That is if you don't mind the egg whites being cold, which I don't because the taste is still great! Food prep is the key for staying on track, and after working chest and triceps this morning I was in need of good fuel! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

IIFYM...if em? If y em? Wait, what?

Okay so I've been making hints and mentioning changes about my diet in some previous posts so now I'm finally done writing this post explaining everything. It's a long story but I'm just going to start from the beginning.

I remember when I first started seeing all the hastags with "iifym" and I had no idea what it meant. So eventually I googled it and figured out that it meant If It Fits Your Macros. This still had zero meaning to me but I was satisfied that I now knew what the acronym stood for. So I let it go for awhile until I saw on instagram a post about it from one of the fitness girls I follow. She was talking about the opposing views of clean eating vs. iifym so I clicked on her post to read more about it. Now, I'm not saying she did a bad job of explaining anything but the idea that I got from her description about iifym was that it wasn't a healthy lifestyle. The example was that you can eat anything as long as it fits within your macros and if you wanted you could eat 2,000 calories worth of cupcakes (if it fits your specified macros) every day versus clean foods and you'll still be healthy. At first I thought that was absurd because I wouldn't want to fill up all day on cupcakes and didn't think it was a healthy option. So I dismissed iifym.

That is until I saw my one friend post about how she had just started her macro eating plan from MacroFit. At first, I was surprised because she is really into fitness and healthy eating so I didn't understand why she would make the transition from clean eating to iifym. Naturally, I asked her about it and she instantly started raving about how great it was and how well her plan was going. The more I talked to her about it the more I realized it was pretty much the idea I've been doing all along-- the 80/20 plan. I went on MacroFit and looked at their free calculator and eating plans, and when I got my own plan they even recommended doing the 80/20 (80% clean, 20% unclean). Never once did they mention about filling up on as much junk food as you wanted as long as it fit your macro plan. I had been under the complete wrong impression. 

Again, this isn't a post about criticizing someone and their explanation of something. My point is just that my original impression of iifym was that it was a food lifestyle that I didn't think would work for me. Except now it does and I love it. It's called flexible dieting for a reason because it allows you to treat yourself without zero guilt. As long as I maintain healthy eating in the long run (the 80%) then I don't have to stress so much over the little unhealthy things I eat occasionally.

I now eat Oreos on a regular basis. You can bet that if those tasty buggers fit into my macros for the day I'm gonna eat them. Without zero guilt and it's amazing because I find that allowing myself those little treats every day keeps me on track. I now eat carbs like nobody's business and I had once sworn off pasta for over a year because I thought it was a scary "bad" carb. Increasing my carbs or calories doesn't give me anxiety anymore because I'm doing it in a much healthier way now. Slow and steady so that my metabolism has a chance to properly utilize the food.

You may agree or disagree but in the end you have to find a healthy balance and I've found mine. What works for me isn't going to work for everyone else and that's perfectly okay!

I got my reverse dieting plan a few months ago and I just finished it now. The reason I decided to reverse diet was because even though I was recovering and had a healthier relationship with food, I still felt unbalanced. I also found out I wasn't eating close enough to my maintenance calories and needed help getting there a better way. When I had tried it on my own last year things turned out pretty disastrous and I wanted to avoid making those same mistakes again.

My body feels so much better and stronger because I fueled it the way it needed to be fueled. I had never really paid any attention to macros before but focused on overall calories and eating clean. Now it's the complete opposite. As long as I hit my grams for the day then I don't worry about calories. I'm eating much more balanced now and my body is thanking me for it!

The other part I'm excited about is that I started training with a personal trainer and I can't 'weight' to see how much better it gets! ;) Carbs and weights have become my best friends, and I've ditched the excessive cardio and restrictive eating habits.

Like I said, everyone needs to find their own balance and not everything works for every individual. A lot of people may think that macros isn't a lifestyle that would work for them but since I've made the switch I've been nothing but happy. I have so much more balance both physically and mentally when it comes to food that it's definitely been a change for the better!

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Chicken Salad

Hey guys!

I just realized I haven't posted anything in almost a week which I have no idea how time got away from me that badly! I had a mini stay-cation from Thursday to Sunday so I was pretty much off the grid just relaxing. I was thinking it was only Thursday or Friday since I last posted but I was clearly wrong! I have a ton of posts to catch up on so I'll be getting those up as quickly as possible.

The first thing I want to share with you is an amazing salad that I made on Friday for dinner because it was seriously one of the best salads I've made in awhile, maybe ever. It was random assortment of whatever I could find in my house and it all worked together deliciously!

This salad had:
3 oz chicken
3-4 cups organic mixed greens
3 strawberries, halved
Couple of red grapes, halved
Handful of mini heirloom tomatoes, halved
Brussel sprouts (sauteed)
Onion (sauteed)
Slivered Almonds
Feta cheese
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup sugar snap peas
1 quinoa tortilla chip, crumbled
1 dried apricot, diced
2 tbsp raspberry vinaigrette

I ended up with a lot more components than I originally planned because I just kept perusing my kitchen and finding more things I wanted to add to the salad. I absolutely love adding warm components to a cold salad which is why I decided to saute the brussel sprouts and onions plus it adds great flavor! So while I was cooking the chicken I cooked the veggies, too.

Also this turned out to be one of the best batches of chicken in a long time-- it was so juicy and flavorful! I cook my chicken in a different way than everyone always says. You're supposed to sear it first to get color and then cook it through but I do the exact opposite. I allow the chicken to cook more than halfway through and then crank up the heat to sear the outside to get some color. I find that when I do it the other way the chicken always dries out much quicker. This goes against what most people will say but to each his own, though, and I find I have more success cooking the chicken this way!

I know you can't see everything since it's just a giant pile of random but I promise it's all in there!

My taste buds were in heaven. Then, as if dinner wasn't enough, it was also "Treat Yoself Friday" as I have begun to call it. Any Parks and Rec fans? Well if you are then you know what I'm talking about with "treat yoself". 

We decided to go to Glen's which is a small ice cream stand nearby us. It's all homemade, low prices, and the flavors never disappoint! It's really a hidden gem and by the grace of God they had a new flavor-- cake batter. I mean homemade cake batter flavored custard? This is the working of a divine mastermind. So since I hit my macros perfectly all week and my trainer readily supports a treat meal, I savored this cake batter hot fudge sundae without zero guilt. Didn't trigger a binge or anxiety or fear of foods or anything! I have never had more balance in my life with my relationship with food than in the past couple months. It's amazing and I promise that post is coming soon, too! 

Someone else came along for the ride! She gets so excited to come with us in the car and was even more excited when she got her own little kiddie scoop of ice cream. I mean after all who said she can't participate in Treat Yoself Friday?!

Once we got home I crashed on the couch in a full-on food coma and we had a cozy night in watching cheesy ABC Family movies on Netflix. Our new streaming device came for our TV so we wasted no time in setting it up to get our chick-flick fix! And of course, I had some company. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Rice Krispie Balls

I don't think I could have made the title longer but I wanted to make sure that I mentioned all the good stuff! a.k.a. the chocolate and peanut butter ;)

Seriously, though, if you're a big fan of peanut butter then this is the treat for you! This isn't one of my healthy recipes but I'm a firm believer in treating yourself. I have my treat meal every Friday and I look forward to them now! It used to give me stress and worry to go off plan but I'm able to actually enjoy a treat without having anxiety over triggering a binge.

But thanks to my macros I can fit in tasty sweets like these without even having to consider it a treat! I have a separate post about that because in the past couple months I've made some changes in my diet that have really been a game changer for me! Not to be dramatic but probably more along the lines of a life saver.

Back to this recipe, what you'll need is: 
1 cup Rice Krispies
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Like I said this recipe is for peanut butter lovers so if you want to cut back on the peanut butter you can always use a little less. I used 1/3 cup but you can take out a tablespoon or two. If you're adding more peanut butter, though, you'll probably have to add a bit more cereal to balance it out. To make these a little sweeter just add more honey or chocolate chips.

To make them mix the peanut butter and honey together
      ***little tip: spray the measuring cup and tablespoon with non-stick spray so the honey and                       peanut butter come out smoothly

Then add the cereal and mix gently so you don't crush up the cereal. Finally fold in the chocolate chips. 

The mixture will be really sticky so I left it in the fridge to firm up while I did some cleaning around the kitchen. I probably left it in there for about 10 minutes before forming the balls. 

This recipe made about 7 but you could always divide that in half for 14 mini ones! 

To store them I kept them in the fridge because it was really hot in my house and they got sticky if I left them out on the counter. 
I was happy with how these turned out and they reminded me of the taste of Buckeye's with just an extra crunch from the rice krispies! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Watermelon Salad & an Afternoon Hike!

This weekend the weather was absolutely gorgeous and I knew I wanted to take full advantage of it! There's a nice wooded area a few blocks up from my house with plenty of trails and a creek so I like to take Layla for walks there. She absolutely loves going there and we're able to take her off leash so she can swim and explore around!

Before going Saturday afternoon, I made a salad for lunch full of fresh fruits and vegetables.

This salad had:
1/4 cup chopped watermelon
3-4 mini heirloom tomatoes
1/4 orange bell pepper
2 tbsp feta cheese
1/4 snap peas, halved
3 cups mixed greens
5 egg whites (not pictured)
1 dried apricot, diced
1 tbsp raspberry balsamic vinaigrette

I also had a balance bar with my salad for extra protein. I'm absolutely in love with the cookie dough flavored ones!

Layla definitely lives up to her retriever blood since she loves anything to do with the water! She was just itching to get in the creek and made a beeline for it as soon as we let her off the leash. 

 After our hike everyone was tired out! I was doing some reading in my room when Cosmo came up to cuddle. Layla didn't want to miss out so she wanted to get in on the cuddles, too! My sister snapped this picture of us all piled on my bed. Slowly but surely Layla is making friends with the cats, especially Cosmo. She always means well but to her surprise none of the cats ever seem to want to play wrestle with her.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!!

Statistics That Should Scare Us

I was doing some online research when I stumbled across this website called Find Your True Beauty and I wanted to share some of the statistics they provided because these numbers are startling.

Source: Find Your True Beauty (

- 80% of women say that the images of women on television, in movies, fashion, and the media makes them feel insecure
- 42% of girls in first grade want to be thinner
- 81% of 10-year olds are afraid of being fat
- More than 50% of teenage girls are, or think they should be, on a diet. They want to lose some or all of the 40lbs that females naturally gain between ages 8-14. About 3% of those teens go too far to either anorexia or bulimia.
- Without treatment, up to 20% of those with serious eating disorders die. With treatment the number of deaths is still around 2-3%

Even more startling is the fact that supermodels in the fashion industry are thinner than 98% of American women. The average American woman is 5'4" and weighs 140lbs while the average model is 5'11" and weighs 117lbs. Just out of my own curiosity, I googled those BMIs to calculate them and the average woman has a BMI of 24.0 while models are at 16.3, making them 16 pounds underweight. A healthy BMI is between 18.5-24.9 which means at 5'11" the models should be at least 133 pounds. Now, I know that BMIs aren't always the most accurate because there's a lot of room for error but for my purposes it was serving as a basic guideline.

Either way, we are allowing designers, companies, and advertisements to brand themselves with the images of women who are underweight and certainly not an accurate representation of women. I don't believe it was meant to be harmful but according to these numbers it's doing a world of harm. I mean SIX YEAR OLDS think they need to be thinner! You know what 6 year-olds should be thinking about? Friends, family, cookies, candy, puppies, playing outside, games...I mean the list goes on but the point is they shouldn't be worrying about their weight at all! Ideally no woman should be worried about her weight because it's none of society's darn business what she weighs. It's no one's business as a matter of fact because who cares what a woman weighs? But more importantly, what gives them the right to think they can tell a woman what she should weigh?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: that number doesn't define you. And more importantly, it can't define you. A numerical value as simple as your relationship with gravity tells you nothing about the kind of person you are. We were all created individually and for a purpose that is solely our own, something much bigger than that number. People often stress too much over that number and I used to do it too. But for what purpose? It's not like there's an 11th Commandment: "Thou Shalt Not Weigh over 117 pounds."

At the end of the day, you're beautiful regardless of what image is portrayed by society. Who cares what the girl in the magazine looks like because she's not you and that's meant to be a wonderful thing. You are your own person, you have your own beauty, and your own gifts and talents. I'm 5'1" and weighing in at who-gives-a-crap, and I've learned to embrace the fact that I will never look like the women in the media. And I don't mean accept because to me that has the negative connotation of settling, like I want to look like those women but can't so I just have to deal with it. No, I mean embrace as in celebrate, appreciate, rejoice that my body is my own and no one else's.

So I think it's clear that based of these numbers, change is desperately necessary. I look at my 7 year-old little cousin who is beautiful, bubbly, and a little sassy (but in an adorable way) and I instantly know that I don't want her growing up this way. In fact, I look at all my family and friends, including the guys, and I don't want any of them to feel this way. We are all more than just a number on a scale, inches on a measuring tape, or the size of our clothes. And that is worthy of a celebration.

Who's with me?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mustard-Glazed Salmon

Guess what? It's Fridaaaay!

Last night for dinner, we took a break from all the chicken and had salmon instead. Target has a great brand of wild-caught salmon that we like to stock up on because it stores perfectly in the freezer. The filets are already pre-packaged individually which is really helpful, too! 

One of my favorite ways to prepare salmon is with a mustard glaze. Awhile back I was thinking of a new chicken recipe and saw something about a mustard glaze so I wanted to try making my own. For some reason we had about 5 different types of mustard in our fridge which I don't know why anyone needs that many mustards but it happened to work out! I was able to play around with the different flavors of mustard to figure out which ones I liked in the glaze. The chicken was delicious with the mustard so I decided to put it on other stuff, too. Which led us to mustard-glazed salmon!

So for the glaze: 
2 tbsp Trader Joe's Hot&Sweet mustard
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1 tbsp honey mustard
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2-1 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

If you're a huge mustard fan then this glaze is the glaze for you! You can always add more or less mustard depending on how strong you want it. I like adding the honey for a little bit of sweetness especially with having the dijon mustard. I waited to add the salt and pepper until the end because that gave me a better idea of what needed balanced before adding the final seasonings. You don't have to measure it out exactly because I just eyeballed all of it. In fact I don't think I've ever actually measured out the mustards but just mix until I get it to a taste I like. For the sake of this post, though, I decided it would be helpful to actually keep track of what I put in so I could give an accurate estimation. 

Pour the glaze over the salmon (this batch covered about 3 small-medium filets) and bake the salmon at 425 for about 12-15 minutes until it's nice and flaky. 

The glaze will seem runny at first but it'll firm up as the salmon bakes. I had mine with steamed broccoli and brown rice!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Banana Bread Cookies

This is by far my favorite healthy cookie recipe because it's so simple but comes out delicious every time! If you're a huge fan of banana bread then you'll love these because it literally tastes like banana bread in little cookie form. I had seen a posting of this recipe a couple years ago on Pinterest but the picture and pin didn't link back to an actual site. I've googled it before and it looks like tons of people have claimed credit for this recipe so I'm not sure who to give credit to but if you're out there, thank you very much!

I wish I could say I was the genius who developed this recipe but sadly I can't although that won't stop me from sharing it with you! I have played around with it before, though, with certain add-ins so I guess that means I've sorta contributed to the recipe, right? Well I did say sort of.

Anyway, it's really easy and you only need 2 ingredients:
2 ripe bananas
1 cup oats

Voila! I'm not kidding, it's that simple! I've made this recipe plenty of times before so I've made some adjustments to make it my own. Here's the recipe I follow:
2 ripe bananas
1 cup oats
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp of cinnamon (mostly just a sprinkle)

That's just to make them plain but you can add in whatever you like to make them more like cookies. I've done semi-sweet chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, walnuts, dried cranberries, and fresh blueberries! You could also do cocoa powder to make them chocolate, almond butter, or peanut butter/PB2 to get peanut butter cookies maybe even more cinnamon to get a snicker doodle-type taste. Actually I'm giving myself some ideas as I type this...

1. Preheat the oven to 350

2. Mash the bananas and add the rest of the ingredients + any add-ins you would like

3. Place on a greased baking sheet or a sheet lined with silpat.
You should get around 14 tablespoon-sized

4. Bake for about 11-14 minutes depending on your oven.

The cookies won't spread out or brown all that much on top so you have to check the bottoms. When they're firm and lightly golden then you know they're done!

5. Eat immediately!

My favorite is when they're fresh from the oven and still warm. I drizzle an extra bit of honey and sometimes will sneak extra cinnamon or chocolate chips on top. Trust me, they're delicious! You won't even know how healthy they are for you and the nutrition facts will leave you feeling guilt-free:

***calories per cookie: 38, 8g carbs, 0.5g fat, and 1g of protein (this is without any add-ins)

Nom nom nom nommmm


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Squash & Spinach Medley

I love trying out new recipes and learning about what works and doesn't work when cooking but most of the time I don't have anything fancy for dinner. I'm perfectly happy with a simple protein dish and veggies on the side! Typically what my dinner looks like is some kind of chicken, fish, or lean turkey with a vegetable and carb. It might be boring or too standard for someone else but the key is to switch up the flavors! Sometimes we'll do spicy chicken or add asian flavors or cook the vegetables a different way.

Last night was a typical dinner night with a chicken dish and veggies. I made one of my favorite chicken recipes Chicken Pesto Bake and didn't know what to make as a side. I checked the fridge and we had zucchini, squash, and spinach so I thought it would be tasty to have a medley of all three!

It was really easy to throw together and the timing worked perfectly with the chicken. Once I put the chicken in the oven it took about 20 minutes to cook which was just the amount I needed to prep the zucchini and squash then get it cooked.

What you'll need:
1 medium zucchini
1 medium squash
6 cups spinach
2 tbsp fresh minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop up the zucchini and squash and cook over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Once the zucchini-squash is about 3/4 of the way cooked, add the spinach and cover the pan until the spinach wilts.

3. Add in the garlic and cook for another couple minutes until all the veggies are cooked

 I ended up getting a lot more zucchini and squash than I thought once I cooked it up but it's great to have leftovers!

Example A: I got to put some extra on my salad for lunch the next day! This salad had egg whites, tomatoes, mixed greens, grapes, peppers, and dried apricots. 

It was also an exciting day because I was finally able to go to the backyard to get the fresh herbs my sister has been growing in her garden! I love being able to just go out the back door and have fresh herbs and vegetables at my fingertips. I also love that I get to reap the benefits without having to do any of the work :)