June is here! At the beginning of last month, I shared my S.M.A.R.T. goals for the month of May (you can get caught up by clicking here). Since December, I’ve been in an exercise slump. Life got busier and exercise (and sleep) got moved down the priority ladder. This is not a good practice. Especially when you spend most of your 13-hour days sitting and listening to people! I am so glad that I took on this challenge for the month. I can honestly say that I haven’t worked out this much all year long.
So….drumroll….post a comment if you’re actually doing a drumroll right now….badadadadadadada….15 workouts completed (in ummmm 31 days because I was one short and needed to get it in at 9pm before I wrote this blog) and 7 pounds lost!
I’m aiming for the same goals in June but with much harder workouts. The massage is still on the table for June!
It is hard to believe that Memorial Day is just 4 weeks away, especially with the cold weather that we’ve been having! Personally, I just came through a crazy busy season of life and am about to enter into another. However, these next two weeks are a tiny reprieve and I want to use them to get organized.
Reading past posts where Steph wrote about accountability (here) and Rah shared about goals, got me thinking about S.M.A.R.T. goals. The following acronym is used in a variety of settings (you’ve probably heard of them) to help create goals.
Goals should be:
- S – Significant
- M – Measurable
- A – Attainable
- R – Rewarding
- T – Time-focused
My SMART goal for the month of May is to complete 15 workouts, losing 15 pounds, in 30 days. My reward for completing this goal is to get a massage! I’m telling you now for accountability because I’ll update you in 30 days. Here is an inside view of my progress chart:
What do you want to accomplish by Memorial Day???
This recipe was fast (30 min tops) and tasted incredible! I grilled some portabellos over the weekend and had one left. The only other things in the fridge were some lemons, bacon, and eggs. Boom, protein-filled dinner! I doubled the recipe for you below:
For the poached egg
4 fresh eggs, large
1 T vinegar (rice or white)
For the Hollandaise
Pinch of salt
1.5 tsp lemon juice
1.5 tsp vinegar
1.5 tsp hot water*
2 egg yolks
5 T butter
2 large portabello mushrooms
4 long slices bacon
- Prepare your mushrooms by removing the stem and scraping out the black gill thingys (don’t know the real name). Spray the mushrooms with oil (or wipe oil on with a paper towel) & sprinkle with salt. Broil bacon & mushrooms, skin side down for 5 min, flip everything, broil for another 4-5 min.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add 1 T vinegar to the water & reduce heat. (The vinegar stops the water from boiling a little.)
- Crack eggs into a small bowl, then slip the eggs into the water, one at a time. Turn off the heat, cover the pot & let them cook for about 3-5 min. (I did 5 min and the yolks were soft, not runny.) Once they’re cooked, remove them from the water.
- Melt the butter in the microwave until frothy.
- In the blender: the 2 egg yolks, 1.5 tsp hot water (*from the saucepan is faster), pinch of salt, & 1.5 tsp vinegar. Put the blender on the lowest setting & let it blend for about 30 seconds until the mixture gets light in color.
- Slowly drizzle the melted butter into the blender as it blends, then let it blend for a few seconds longer. Add the lemon juice & let it blend for a few seconds. Shut off the blender.
- On your plate, top the mushrooms with bacon, then layer the poached eggs, and drizzle with the hollandaise. Eat!
One thing that happened once I went paleo was that my taste buds changed. I never used to have a sweet tooth but once I eliminated refined sugars from my diet, I started craving them like crazy! One quick solution I found was this chocolate bark recipe.
- 1/3 lb Chocolate (You can buy raw cacao nibs or 85% + cacao chocolate from a store)
- 2 T Coconut oil
- 1/2 cup cranberries
- 2/3 cup almonds
- 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
Variations that I’ve tried: dried apricots, cinnamon dusted on top, small cooked bacon pieces, a sea salt dusting, dried pineapple.
- If you’re like me and don’t have a double boiler, grab a glass bowl and place the chocolate and coconut oil in it.
- Fill a saucepan about 1/2 full with water and place your glass bowl inside, burner on medium-high. The water will boil, causing the contents to melt. Add more coconut oil if the chocolate does not become somewhat runny (you want to be able to pour out the chocolate). Warning: this step can get messy!
- While the chocolate is melting, assemble your cranberries, almonds, and coconut flakes onto a sheet of foil.
- Once the chocolate is melted, simply pour it over the mixture on the foil. Some people like to leave it as-is and some blend it up. I blended it this time.
- Toss it into a plastic bag and then into the freezer for about 30 min or until it becomes hardened. Break it apart & store in the freezer for a quick little sweet snack!
The chocolate is so dark that a little goes a long way! I usually make up a big batch like this and I’ve kept it for 5-6 weeks…depending on the need for chocolate!
What might an overweight person whose weight fluctuates and a fit, exercise queen have in common? Although they may appear to come from opposite mindsets, perfectionism can be at the root of both great struggles and great successes. Often times, perfectionist thinking causes unrealistic expectations that lead to unfulfilled realities, especially in the weight loss world. Here are a few ways to accept progress, not perfection:
Celebrate Small Accomplishments. Perfectionists view themselves as either a success or a failure, nothing in between. Healthy living is a lifelong journey. To keep momentum and hope in the process, we need to be excited about accomplishments and the willingness to keep going, even after setbacks.
Build a Positive Self-Image. While it is important to recognize our accomplishments, our self-image cannot depend solely on achievements. We are valuable! It is my belief that I am valuable to the God who created every living thing and that his love for me isn’t based on my achievements. That helps ground me. Also, if we spend more time doing the activities that we love, learning new skills and being of service to others rather than being self-critical, we will be less likely to beat ourselves up over the little things. Our eyes will be on the big picture!
Learn from Others. Sometimes it is easier to accept other people’s mistakes than our own. If we take a look around to others who have learned from their mistakes and keep moving forward, we can put our own setbacks into perspective and join them in success.
Getting and staying healthy does not require perfection! We make mistakes, we learn, we make more mistakes, we learn some more. To deny this reality hinders our ability to recover from mistakes and can limit great successes from occurring!
So here is my visual example of accepting progress and not perfection. These are my weigh-ins for my DietBet competitions. It represents a span of 27 pounds with ups and downs, mistakes and achievements. I’m choosing to focus on the big picture!
Black hair dye dripping down my forehead, sipping on a smoothie for a hands-free breakfast while designing a flyer for my church ministry with an audio book for my graduate class plays in the background and notifications popping off on my phone. Sometimes life is crazy like this, a compilation of responsibilities and unexpected, critical situations. We all have seasons of busy, so how do we sustain healthy lifestyles and find balance despite non-stop, 20-hour days? Here are 4 tips:
- Sleep. Back in November my doctor asked me “are you getting enough sleep?” I laughed a nervous laugh as my mind was flooded with images of 20-hour days and the ridiculous list of reminders in my phone. Blah blah blah you do all that you can to make provision for a good amount of sleep. I can’t make hours magically appear, but I can make it restful. No counting and obsessing about how many hours I’m not getting. No to-do lists for tomorrow. Phone off. Mind off. Sleep.
- Meal Prep. This keeps me focused throughout the week. Best tip: cut up all veggies at the same time & divide them out. If I don’t prep my meals then subway salads turn into “Yes, cheese. Just today.” That turns into “meh, I’ll grab a schwarma. Just today.” The lack of planning is no good.
- Stretching & Exercise. I’ve moved from comparing my exercise schedule with other people or what I’ve done in the past. I know for certain that I have more energy when I move and stretch. So I fit it in as often as I can. This consists of 15 minutes on my exercise bike while I catch up on emails or sneaking off to do squats and stretches in the kitchen at work. The bottom line is that I know that I need it and that the regimented morning workout schedule will return in a few weeks. For now, I keep doing what I can. The key is to keep doing.
- Mindset. This is the most important so of course I left it for last. What kills energy? Comparisons, complaining, and hopelessness. I have important things to do (and so do you)! Many versions of this arrogant [prideful] meme have been floating around:
I’d like to quote this frequent phrase of my sister (shoutout Nay-Nay) “how is that helpful?” Comparing my life to someone else zaps energy. I’m more busy because of ____. No. Just stop (very counselor of me, I know). And complaining. Yes, I definitely need to talk to others when life gets unbearable but lamenting on social media or whining to every ear that passes my way is not helpful. Also, our hearts and minds scream for hope! “One day it won’t be this busy…My busy season has a purpose…I’m serving others with my busy life.” Whatever the hope, we can remind ourselves of why we are busy.
So, despite this season of loco, I’m working to sustain a healthy lifestyle and find balance. What is working for you? Let us know in the comments!
Let me preface this meal by saying that I am not the pairing queen when it comes to meals! I’m learning, but usually, I just put together things that I like (peas & spinach, corn & scrambled eggs, etc.). Pairing colors and flavors is an art; someday I’ll get there! This meal was one where the pair actually turned out well! (FYI, the chicken recipe is usually for wings but it worked well here.)
Honey Sriracha Chicken Ingredients (heads up – need to marinate):
- 8 chicken legs (skin on)
- 1/2 cup Sriracha
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
- 2 T honey
- 2 tsp ginger root
- one pinch of salt
- 4 T melted butter
- Poke holes in the chicken with a fork & place into a plastic bag (or container) to marinate. If you’re nervous about the spicy factor, don’t poke holes!
- Mix up the ingredients (except the butter) and add to the bag of chicken for 8+ hours in the refrigerator.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
- Preheat oven to 375. Bake chicken for about 30-45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
- Turn the oven up to broil. Melt the butter & drizzle over chicken.
- Let each side of the chicken broil for about 5-7 minutes, until it has a nice crisp skin.
Spinach Sweet Potato Salad Ingredients:
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 2 medium onions
- Olive or coconut oil
- 1 lemon (or lime)
- 1 – 6 oz. bag of spinach
- Preheat oven to 400-425.
- Peel & cut sweet potatoes into cubes. Chunk onions. Place into a dish to roast. Toss with oil.
- Roast for 20-30 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender.
- While roasting, place spinach into a casserole dish with a lid. Cut lemon in half & set aside.
- As soon as the veggies are done roasting, toss them over the spinach. Squeeze your lemon halves over the veggies & spinach & toss quickly. Place the lid on the dish & let sit for 5 minutes so that the spinach softens somewhat.
Put these two recipes together or mix and match with your favorites! I will definitely be making these a lot more in the future! Sweet & spicy, just like Midwest Chicks!
Many, many weeks ago, I began a weight loss competition with a friend of mine. After a chaotic summer of off-again-on-again paleo yoyo, this competition was meant to inspire motivation and squeaky clean eating. However…
…I’ve found it hard to keep on track. It has proved more difficult than when I started my healthy lifestyle change wayyyy back in August of 2o14. Why? If you read Rah’s post last week, you joined the conversation on perceived failure. In my case, the feelings of failure kept heaping on as I would exercise and eat right at the start of each week and then slowly fade off until I hit the weekend. In my mind, this would equate complete failure. In working towards a long-term health goal, handling failure well is critical to success. It took a friend to saying “stop it, get over it, and move on” for me to really snap out of it. An 80% is not failure. It seems simple but it worked just in time to finish out this competition. Did I mention that there is $$$ on the line? And I don’t want to pay up? I wanna go Kanye on the competition!!!
The big weigh-in is December 13th, less than two weeks away. And I’m WAY behind my competition. Like, 10 pounds behind him. But I’m an optimist and there’s a reason people like to root for the underdog, right?!?!?! *Cue the drama* I’m doing this for all the women of the world!!! For all the underdogs!!! For the people who fall and get back up again!!! *I warned you about the drama* 13 days left. Stay tuned!!!
Believe me, hummus is easy to make! I’m not kidding. I always assumed people were lying when they said that. For example, my amazing coworker who makes the rest of the office drool with her homemade, completely amazing Iraqi hummus. I didn’t believe her (sorry Heba). But, after paying $5 for organic hummus, I decided it was time to try.
- 1 large head of garlic (I used one huge elephant clove. I really love garlic)
- 2 1/2 T olive oil, divided
- 1 (15 oz) can chick peas, drained (I used Meijer brand organics bc it didn’t have preservatives)
- 3T lemon juice (or 1 squeezed lemon)
- 3T tahini
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- Pepper to taste
- 2 – 3 Tbsp water
Ok, set the oven to 400 and cut off the top of the garlic so that the cloves are exposed. Drizzle with 1.5 tsp olive oil, or whatever amount you need to roast it. Wrap up in foil & roast for around 30 minutes or until the garlic is golden.
While the garlic is roasting, grab your food processor and throw in the drained chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, salt, and cumin. Grind it up until it is kinda creamy.
Then add in the remaining 2T olive oil, roasted garlic, and water. Pulse until the mixture is good and creamy. Toss in some pepper until it tastes how you like it and BOOM! Homemade garlic hummus! I served it with fresh peppers, cucumbers, carrots, and celery.
Disclaimer: chick peas are not considered Paleo.
I face-planted on rocky, New England dirt, next to a peaceful cemetery that was decorated with golden trees and stone walls. Face-planted. Hang on, let me back up a few moments and miles.
A few weeks back I registered for my very first 5k, which was also a fundraiser. I signed up to support the cause (Amirah fights human trafficking) and my friend, Fit Chick #3, Steph who is the agency’s director. I knew I would be in Boston at the time and it seemed too perfect. I had never really set out to walk a specific distance aside from the occasional one-mile walk near my parent’s farm. I had no idea what 3.1 miles would look or feel like to my body. I imagined it would be something like walking pleasantly through fall leaves, smelling the brisk air and reflecting on life. Then we arrived to THE LAKE. I got out of the car and looked at this mother of a lake. Freaking BODY OF WATER. Ummm I usually look for close parking spaces at stores. The distance around this lake was like as if I was headed to the mall at Christmastime and decided to park at the freaking expressway, nowhere near the freaking stores!!! It looked far!!! Have you entered into the drama that was spinning through my mind yet? I was freaked out. Like, ok I might make it halfway around this mug.
Then we started walking. Quick shout-out to Steph & Dave (Steph’s husband). They each walked with me and kept me encouraged and a lot of the time, distracted with great conversation and hilarious stories. My mind vacillated constantly between “there’s no way I can finish this” and “oh my gosh, I’m freaking doing this!” My mind does that. I think most of our minds have that little evil voice that keeps stomping on what we try to do. We dismiss it or listen to it. Anyways, after a mile, I was breathing so loud. You know how you try to be cool when you walk up the stairs like “What?! I’m fit!” There was no hiding this. Imagine Beyonce’s song “Lose My Breath.” It was something like that dramatic gasp for air (YouTube the song). Then I made it to the beautiful, serene cemetery. It was gorgeous. I was almost done. I had about a half mile to go. I looked to the right, saw the gorgeous cemetery with golden leaves and seriously old headstones. Then I immediately face-planted into the dirt. I got up, dusted off and kept going. I don’t have any deep thoughts on the fall like “don’t take your eyes off the path that you’re on” or “when you fall, get back up and try again!” I just thought it was a funny part of the story.
When we finally reached the end of the path, I was excited. But that evil little voice came in and was like “uh, you know it was just 3 miles, right? It wasn’t a marathon. You didn’t run it. You walked 3 miles and some change.” So what did I learn from my very first 5k? We all start somewhere. That’s what I learned and that’s what I told that little evil voice inside. I pushed my body and walked a freaking 5k. For some, it’s going to be a marathon and for some it’s half a mile. We all start somewhere. And little evil voices can kick rocks.