New Year, Not a New You

Their BAAAAAAAACK…. the ghosts of New Years’ Past. My Facebook feed is flooded with diet and fitness challenges, “transform your body and your mind, become a NEW YOU”. Cue the screeching tires sound effect. The record scratch. Wait, what???? A NEW YOU???? #SorryNotSorry, but I HATE this idea. I don’t believe that any of us have to become a NEW us. In fact, I’d argue that you are all pretty fantastic, amazing people, who probably need to develop some new habits and self-determination around making some changes. Changes that can be pretty effing difficult when you have a life that’s filled with responsibility and adulting. Chances are, if you’re entertaining the idea of a new you, you’ve already entertained the idea that there is something wrong with you. This makes you “self-aware” and is the source of initiative and motivation.

Many of us will start the New You challenge and fall off half way, or we won’t see immediate results, so we’ll dump the diet-thinking, “what’s the point”. I’m here to help move you toward your goals. You don’t need to become a NEW YOU to engage in healthier habits. You don’t need to become a NEW YOU to change your thinking about health and wellness. You don’t need to become a NEW YOU to feel better or be better. You’ve ALWAYS had that in you, you just need to rediscover and uncover all that is stopping you from getting there.

In order to make those changes, we need to start changing the way we think about things. How can we do this? Through mindfulness and knowledge. JUST knowing about nutrition, makes you more aware of your choices when you’re at the grocery store. Understanding how our emotions and thoughts impact our behavior, helps us become more aware when we are affected by anger, anxiety, ecstasy, grief, and a host of other emotions.

Your thoughts, emotions, and behavior can be changed. Research in neuroscience has shown that our brains are plastic, meaning, our intelligence is not fixed, it can improve and grow. Even more incredible, just KNOWING your brain is plastic and malleable, leads to more self-regulation and perseverance. Imagine the speed and strength of these transformations with the support of a coach, to guide you through the mental and physical exercise to maximize cognitive performance and self-regulation.

Stanford Professor, Carol Dweck, has studied the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people with the same talents. Her findings suggest that these people are largely divided by their mindset. That is, successful people believe that growth is possible, and are focused on the process of learning and growing. People in a growth mindset see effort as necessary for growth and learning, embrace challenges, see mistakes as learning opportunities, and appreciate and see feedback as useful. People in a fixed state believe that you are born with specific skills, and are focused on performance and not looking bad (ego strength). People in a fixed mindset don’t value effort and practice-they want things to be naturally easy, they back down or give up in the face of challenge or struggle, hate and are discouraged by mistakes made, and get defensive when offered feedback.

Mindfulness can help us reach our goals and change our fixed mindset to being a growth mindset.  The more we are mindful of our thoughts, the more we can change our behavior associated with those thoughts.

In the spirit of becoming the YOU that has always been there, I challenge you to give mindfulness a try. If your goal is to shed some body fat, practice mindful eating. Notice the texture, taste, and chewing of your food, the sensation of being hungry or full, and the emotions you’re experiencing just before and after eating. When you crave a snack, notice what you’re doing. Are you trying to avoid completing a difficult project, do you need a break, are you feeling stressed, or depressed, or anxious. Notice the feelings, acknowledge their presence, and understand the function of snacking. Practice mindful grocery shopping, when you feel the desire to purchase junk food, what are you feeling-do you really want it, or do you think the way it tastes will make you feel a certain way. Will you punish yourself afterwards for eating too much?

If your goal is to become more organized, practice mindfulness. Have a loose paper floating around, instead of sticking it in a pile for later, notice the feelings you’re having about it. Have a closet filled with clothing you haven’t worn in years, practice mindfulness-what’s holding you back from tossing the trends of yester-year?

I’d love to help you find the YOU that has always been there. Contact me for mind-body coaching and we’ll work together to design a plan that works best for you!

 

Balancing Act

When I originally set out on this journey, towards getting a PhD, I wanted it all-to build my body, my romantic relationship, and my mind. I soon realized, that, to do it all, meant sacrifice. Somethings had to give. My brain, deprived of nutrients, was foggy and ill equipped for the tasks required of learning and participating in academic discussion. I felt heavy and anxious, exhausted, but unable to sleep. I didn’t have a home, I was renting a room and spending most nights at my friend’s house (gratitude), on her couch. My brain forgetful and my mind in a state of unrest, I found myself walking in circles and feeling as though I had to put on this face of success. I. Could. Do. It. All. DAMN IT.

But I couldn’t. Unable to eat, think, or be me. I failed, or so I thought. I compared myself to those around me, on Facebook and Instagram. I wasn’t as smart as those in my classes, as disciplined as those I needed to compete against, or as competent as those I aimed to be. I sank deeper and deeper into who I thought I SHOULD be, and moved further away from who I really AM. The shoulds were always present-creating guilt and dissatisfaction. Misery. I met with my posing coach, who said, “you can do it, but at what cost? Why are you here?” She went on to emphasize the importance of self-care, ordering me to, “go home, eat an avocado, and soak in the tub with bath salts”. She allowed me to be human, to let go. It was that evening that I decided I liked myself a whole lot more than I liked trying to keep up the façade of perfectionism. I decided to give body building a rest. I had nothing to prove. I allowed myself to care only about my own progress and learning and not worry about how much I knew or didn’t know compared to the others. I asked for help.

A funny thing happens when we let go of the comparisons that weigh us down or amp us up; when we bare our souls and allow ourselves to be human and ask for help, or admit to mistakes. It’s simple. We don’t really fail or lose. We learn.

A funny thing happens when we let go of the comparisons that weigh us down or amp us up; when we bare our souls and allow ourselves to be human and ask for help, or admit to mistakes. It’s simple. We don’t really fail or lose. We learn.

We move towards that which serves us and we leave that which does not behind. This process is devastatingly beautiful, a tragedy of living life to the fullest, in pursuit of goals. The choices aren’t easy, but the depth of our knowing cannot be ignored. We leave behind relationships, give up the security and safety net of careers, and  begin to feel the life seep back into our souls. We feel again. The life that was once a dream, is now tangible. Looking back on the doubts and the insecurities, that still bubble up from time to time, we feel accomplishment and reward. We learn that in order to feel alive we have to be vulnerable, be focused, and be relentless in our pursuits.

This act, the act of finding balance in passion, is not an easy feat. Finding center, being clear, and most importantly, being easy on ourselves requires mindfulness. Mindfulness, like any other skill, requires practice. Mindfulness is a way of being. Being mindful means to notice the present moment, and allow yourself to feel without judgment. It is the act of just being. It has been proven to reduce stress, improve relationships, improve focus and attention, and reduce racing thoughts, worry, and anxiety.

What do you have to do?

Here are a few exercises to start with, courtesy of positivepsychology.com:

The Body Scan

Another popular exercise for practitioners of mindfulness is called the Body Scan. It requires very little in the way of props or tools, and it is also easily accessible for most beginners.

Would you like to follow a Body Scan right now? Try this 30 minute guided narrative by expert and founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Jon Kabat Zinn:

A typical Body Scan runs through each part of the body, paying special attention to the way each area feels, the scan usually moves as follows:

1. From toes of both feet to
2. The rest of the feet (top, bottom, ankle) then to the
3. Lower legs,
4. Knees,
5. Thighs and
6. Pelvic region- buttocks, tailbone, pelvic bone, genitals. From there moving to
7. The Abdomen, then the
8. Chest,
9. Lower back,
10. Upper back- back ribs & shoulder blades,
11. Hands (fingers, palms, backs, wrists),
12. Arms (lower, elbows, upper),
13. Neck,
14. Face and head (jaw, mouth, nose, cheeks, ears, eyes, forehead, scalp, back & top of head),

Mindful Seeing

For some, the absence of visual stimuli can feel stifling. After all, a healthy imagination does not come naturally to everyone. The activity of Mindful Seeing may be helpful to anyone who identifies with this feeling.

This is a simple exercise, requiring only a window with some kind of a view.

  • Step 1: find a space at a window where there are sights to be seen outside.
  • Step 2: look at everything there is to see.  Avoid labeling and categorizing what you see outside the window; instead of thinking “bird” or “stop sign”, try to notice the colors, the patterns, or the textures.
  • Step 3: pay attention to the movement of the grass or leaves in the breeze, notice the many different shapes present in this small segment of the world you can see.  Try to
    see the world outside the window from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with these sights.
  • Step 4: be observant, but not critical.  Be aware, but not fixated.
  • Step 5: if you become distracted, gently pull your mind away from those thoughts and notice a color or shape again to put you back in the right frame of mind.

The Mini-Mindfulness Exercise

Another great exercise to try if you are strapped for time is the mini-mindfulness exercise. In this lesson, there are only three steps:

  • Step 1: step out of  “automatic pilot” to bring awareness to what you doing, thinking, and sensing in this moment.

Try to pause and take a comfortable but dignified posture. Notice the thoughts that come up and acknowledge your feelings, but let them pass. Attune yourself to who you are and your current state.

  • Step 2: bring awareness to the breathing for six breaths or a minute.

The goal is to focus attention on one thing: your breath. Be aware of the movement of your body with each breath, of how your chest rises and falls, how your belly pushes in and out, and how your lungs expand and contract. Find the pattern of your breath and anchor yourself to the present with this awareness.

  • Step 3: expand awareness outward, first to the body then to the environment.

Allow the awareness to expand out to your body. Notice the sensations you are experiencing, like tightness, aches, or perhaps a lightness in your face or shoulders. Keep in mind your body as a whole, as a complete vessel for your inner self.

If you wish, you can then expand your awareness even further to the environment around you. Bring your attention to what is in front of you.  Notice the colors, shapes, patterns, and textures of the objects you can see. Be present in this moment, in your awareness of your surroundings.

 


#GOALCHASERS

Studies show that you’re more likely to accomplish goals when you put them in writing!

Guess WHAT????? I created a space for you to put your goals in writing and throw it out to the UNIVERSE!!!!

LET’S HEAR THEM!!!

Dear Destiny….

goal chaser girls

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Hi there from Cloud Nine….

I’ve been flying high here for about three months now and am just so glad you could join me. Life is fine and there are GOALS to MINE, Goals that are ALL MINE! The competitions are over, but the GRIND never ends! I have more than a lot on my plate; these days I’m carrying platters! I continue to be amazed by the generosity and kindness that has been thrown my way. There has been some hate, but without hate we wouldn’t know LOVE….

Memorial Day weekend marked the decoration day of remembrance of those who passed serving in our military. It also serves as a day to celebrate the life those gave so that we can have the freedom in which we are  able to live. LIVE-did you hear that-LIVE. Too often I hear people talking about what they would do if they hadn’t chosen X, Y, or Z as a career-(the safe path) or if they didn’t have kids they would….. or if they hadn’t had an accident they would… or if … if… if… if…

I’ve been thinking a lot about these what if… or if I never did this then I would do that, if I didn’t have a pension then I’d surely leave my job for… if I didn’t have to be poor I’d…..

Well here it is folks-the what if then section of your lives… what if you DID quit your job to pursue your passion? What if you did carve out an extra hour a day for the gym? What if you did leave the comfort of a pension or relationship? What if?????

I recently had an experience that blew my mind… It’s kind of private, but let’s just say that I recognized that if I had not been so afraid of rejection, failure, loss of a friend, or humility; I may have been in a very different position in life. The outcome of that experience is yet to be determined, but it ignited something within me that was powerful enough to say, “FORGET THE FEAR… IF YOU NEVER TRY, YOU WILL NEVER KNOW”. I decided right then to go after my life goals-thanking fear for protecting me, but asking it to respectfully step aside while I CHASE THIS GOAL. You see, I’ve been working as a school psychologist for the past 13 years-in a city school. I LOVE my students and my co-workers, but I don’t LOVE the system. I have wanted to go back to school to get my PhD so that I could have a greater impact on the system. Here’s the kicker-I never thought I was smart enough or that anyone would actually want me in their program-let alone actually fund my existence there. I was afraid that the loss of my salary would be too much-too scary to live off of ramen and rice and chicken again, too scary to not have my full pension, and what if I didn’t like it? I had this house and a mortgage, a car payment, and some other menial debt. Where will I live, how will I survive, what will I do after??? It was all very frightening-PLUS I have this family-my real family and my friend family- FRAMILY…  I love all of you so dearly-you just have no idea what kind of marks you’ve made on my heart and soul.

You know what I did? I said, “to hell with it… just TRY-you’ll figure it out”. I wrote to a bunch of program directors for school psychology and counseling psychology PhD programs and had a phone interview literally two days after my serendipitous encounter. The program director said, “you sound like a great candidate for our program, please apply.”  The next week I was taking the GREs, and three weeks later I was accepted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I threw myself into my body building training and directed my focus on me-being selfish and telling people what I needed instead of tip toeing around and pleasing others. I felt like I was recapturing myself-holding myself in high regard. I declined parties, beer, and wine in order to chase the goal.

 

Two months later I stepped on stage and competed in my very first ever body building competition and the judges determined that my physique was worthy of a Pro-Card-which means that I can now compete as a professional in the DFAC circuit. In October I will have the chance to compete in the WORLD finals in Miami in October. The very next week I won my second competition. I was so shocked by it all… I really just wanted to place-winning was such a bonus!

 

Fast forward and rewind… yesterday I put a “FOR SALE” sign up in my front yard.

  •  in a couple months I will be packing up a U-Haul and driving 641 miles to Chapel Hill, NC
  • in four months I will be traveling to Miami to compete in DFAC World Finals
  • in three years I will be crossing the stage wearing a beautifully adorned hat, with new letters attached to my name PhD.

This has been such a joyous yet sad and scary experience… which makes it all the more exciting and vibrant. I FEEL like I’m living… This is LIFE and I am a GOAL CHASER…. (might even catch a few in the race). I finally understand what it means to “enjoy the journey”.

 

 

Click HERE for the GOAL CHASERS BOARD!

Just a Position- Juxtaposition

Howdy y’all!!!! It’s Friday night and I feel alright… I’m sitting at home watching DFAC Pro-Miss Athletic World Finals Pre-Judging. I’m back in ACTION-Action boys Action.. I was so overwhelmed with work, food prepping, working out, and another thing… that needs to wait to be announced, but it’s pretty darn BIG… that I was unable to write. I had so many ideas flying around in this noggin of mine, but I simply couldn’t find the time to write! I thought about trying to bring my laptop and some sort of voice to text software to the gym so I could dictate a blog whilst pedaling away on the recumbent bike. The recumbent bike has been the bane of my existence these past few weeks, but I’ve actually come to LOVE the damn thing! It shaped my legs and sculpted my glutes into … drum roll please…… a DFAC PRO Miss Athletic Competitor!!!!  YES!!!! (Imagine me jumping up and down and doing some kind of silly dance with a huge sword in my hand)

This journey has been incredibly exciting and exhausting! I can only say that when I chose to get serious-the transformation happened so quickly!!!! I started in May of 2015 and by December there were very few visual signs of change. I was leaner, but no six pack… I hadn’t been totally strict and my diet was all over the place. As soon as I made the decision to stick to it and be consistent the fat began melting away. I had ABS… Quads…. and Hamstrings you could actually SEE! Start at the top and go clockwise:

Jess January TRansform

I owe much of this success to my absolutely phenomenal coach Kyle Glickman and to the people who were so supportive of me throughout the journey. He stuck it out with me and pushed me to the limits, challenged my drive, SAW AND BELIEVED in my potential and was just spot on with my diet and programming. I think I text him once a week to tell him how happy I am that we met! I owe much to Megan Cormack who introduced me to the world of posing and who was the seamstress behind my suit. She sewed and I blinged! She’s my sister in fit for sure!!! So inspirational and opening a FitBody Bootcamp in May. I know it wasn’t easy for all in my life-I sacrificed parties, dates, drinks, dinner, and going to the Adirondacks to stay with my family. I knew what I wanted and I went all in. I was lucky to find women at the gym who were all in too.. Tanya, Victoria, Megan, (both) Sarahs, Shannon, Liz, and Sofia. My co-workers endured the smell of fish, asparagus, and eggs for weeks on end with very few complaints. A special thanks to my mom who was here cleaning and walking the dogs for me-she was absolutely integral in the maintenance of my home. Thanks to Ewa for the amazing support and linking me up with Kyle-#life changer.  Thanks to those of you who gave advice and direction along the way. Thanks to Randi Guon-Nelson for meeting me at 7AM at her house to GLAM it up and Gilda Lucas for the 5 hour wax session!!! I love you all and couldn’t have done it without you-so honored to have you on my team!!!

So here are my tips on how to get there-

  1. Always weigh your food-don’t rely on your measuring cup-this is important
  2. Food prep for the week-the time you put in ahead of the game will save you so much time in the end. I made enough turkey and burger patties to last me the week
  3. Pre-cook your oats and rice-otherwise you’ll spend hours at the microwave waiting for them to cook-staring into that nuclear oven! Make a large batch-i.e. 4 servings of oatmeal- then transfer into a new bowl that you’ve tared-weigh and divide by however many servings you planned-I made 2 servings last night and divided by four because I knew I’d be eating 4  half servings throughout the day.
  4. Trader Joes is your friend- they have amazing things here- 99% fat free ground turkey, Alaskan Cod, 96% fat free ground beef, Pot Roast that’s only 3 g fat/serving, Shrimp stir fry and more!!! They also have AWESOME spices and salts for only $1.99 each- garlic salt, 21 season salute, and everyday seasoning… .my favorites! I just discovered the coffee BBQ rub-put that on your salmon and sweet potatoes-YUMMMM They also have spray coconut oil and olive oil-game changers
  5. Get a mandolin slicer for your sweet potatoes and a grill pan/grill griddle
  6. Shop at BJs or Walmart for your egg beaters-make sure you get egg beaters that have 0 carbs. I’ve found that egg beaters are way easier to cook than the carton egg whites.
  7. Kim’s Deli pops at Wegmans are great 2 Carb rice cakes that can fill the gaps. Same with the coco pops
  8. Vitamins… take your vitamins and aminos! I look forward to my isotonix morning vitamins, OPC-3, and my greens! The Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy-Mocha– another game changer… LOVE
  9. Wake up early and get to it… JUST DO IT.. may be difficult in the beginning, but then your body gets used to it and it becomes habit!
  10. What’s your goal? Be specific so you can focus and create a mantra around it…
  11. Ask for help-you’d be surprised at how many people are on your team! Love my circle!
  12. LASTLY… Be humble… be grateful… be motivated by the hard work of your competition and those around you…

Keep your eyes peeled for the NEXT POST: #GOALCHASER

This is going to be a game changer….

Bust a Move to 38 calorie brownies

brownieOriginally written: 3/1/2016

This body building adventure has sure gotten complicated. I thought I would just eat healthy, move more, and then saunter on stage in a skimpy bikini whilst sporting a fake tan and some even faker costume jewels. Much to my surprise, THIS IS NOT TRUE! My body building coach, Kyle Glickman, has informed me that we can go two ways here… fitness or figure, so I need to be prepared for both. Posing coach, Megan Cormack, has informed me that the Athletic category means I have to perform a routine-BUST IT. The mere thought of having to memorize some moves on stage puts me into a new category of anxious! My eyes bug out of my head and I start mumbling nonsense. After I take a few deep breaths I am calm and a new sense of confidence washes over… YOU CAN DO THIS. I didn’t accept this challenge just to be scared away by some silly steps and moves, so bring it….

 

Megan’s first question to me: “What do you want your music to be?”

“What do I want my music to be??? What do I want my music to be????” I thought. “I don’t even know what I want my moves to be, much less my music!” I spent the better part of the day listening to snippets of popular songs and some chill beats that I like, but really have no clue. This was a job for the protein brownie. Yup-I simply needed to eat a decadent protein brownie and I’d find my music. I’ve already made a few batches of this brownie recipe that I modified from Pinterest. I found that they’re much better when made in cupcake tins! Here’s my version of the 38 Calorie Brownie:

Ingredients
  • 1 container light and fit greek yogurt- I used toasted coconut-this also works with plain fat free greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk-30 cals
  • ½ cup Cocoa powder (I like to use the special dark)
  • 1/3 cup Old fashioned rolled oats (like Quaker)-grind these into an oat flour first
  • 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1/4 cup Truvia Baking Blend (or any natural/stevia based sweetener that pours like sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin (NOT PUMPKIN PIE)
  • 10 g Nestles mini morsels
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine all ingredients (except chocolate morsels) into a food processor or a blender, and blend until smooth (about 1 minute).
  3. Fold in chocolate chip morsels
  4. Pour into lined muffin tin-should fill it half way
  5. Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Check with a toothpick to make sure middle is cooked. Wait until fully cooled about 10-15 minutes before eating! I’m so impulsive with my food I always end up burning the roof of my mouth!

 

My FLAVOR-RIGHT things…

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day I decided to share some of my FAVORITE food hacks! I know that some of you fellow If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) people have some of your own too. I’m all about sharing because, let’s face it, this dieting thing is NOT easy. I hate watching people’s scrunched up faces as they stare at the nutrition facts on the backs of peanut butter and tubes of cookie dough while wasting precious time in the grocery store. I’ve been there and will offer up advice whenever I see the “huh-uh-erggg” face.

“What’s a “macro”, you ask? (what’s the right way to write that I ask) A macro is the shortened form of “macronutrient”.  All food has macronutrients composed of Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrate. These macronutrients (macros for short) each have a caloric value. Pay attention, this is why eating Paleo may not be working for you. One gram of Fat (avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, lard, etc) yield 9 k/cals, while one gram of protein yields 4 k/cals, the same goes for carbohydrates (1 g=4/kcals). You can see why eating a lot of almond flour or avocado might be adding a little too many calories to your diet! That being said, most people who choose to eat Paleo don’t eat enough carbohydrates-so the fuel comes from the fat. Just be mindful and start looking at food as fuel. You’ll also want to make sure you get lots of fiber and water in there too… fiber = happy.

Many people have the misconception that fruits and vegetables are not considered “carbs” because they’re not starchy-correction- Fruits, Vegetables, Breads, Candy, half and half, milk, even some marinated meats and ground meats HAVE CARBS, be mindful of this. You’d be amazed at how many things you think are low in fat or carbs are actually not. Some good examples of this are almonds (1 cup of almonds has 45g fat, 20 g carbs, 20 g protein-not really a great source for protein), peanut butter, granola, and dried fruits.

Alright, now that we have that covered-according the the FDA an average woman should be consuming around 1600-2000 cals/day give or take a few hundred due to size, activity level, and other health factors. Men should be consuming 2,200-2,400 cals/day, same rules apply. Here’s my disclaimer-I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist-if you want solid nutritional counseling please look up Kyle Glickman-he’s phenomenal and has his master’s degree in nutrition and strength and conditioning. He’s also a fitness model, competitive body builder, a strength and conditioning coach, and an all around nice guy! He will meet you where you are without any judgement. He has been my coach for the past 8 months and I’ve lost close to 30 lbs of FAT since working with him. Note-It has only been a month since I have been extremely strict-dropping 10 more lbs. I wasn’t always strict which is why it took so long to get to where I am now.

Moving forward… My daily macronutrient goals are going to look very different than yours and yours may look very different than someone else you know. I’m training for a body building competition, so my macros are high in protein, but my carb and fat intake varies depending on my training etc. We will make up some macros here for instructional purposes.

I keep track of what I eat with My Fitness Pal, it makes it easy to track my eating. It’s a free app that let’s you scan a bar code- try tracking what you put in your gullet for one day.. it’s pretty eye opening. A friend of mine text me the other day when he did this for the first time-he was AMAZED!

It’s way more accurate if you weigh your food, so I invested in a $20 digital food scale-“The Biggest Loser” is the best I’ve found, don’t skimp and get the cheap one at wal-mart, it’s no good.

OK- Pretend I have 150 carbs, 135 protein, and 40 fat for each day-that’s 1500 calories/day (if my math is correct). I have to make sure I eat this much of each macronutrient, but not any more. It can be tough when faced with doughnut or cupcakes, maybe you love a good marbleized steak? Well, here are my favorite food hacks so that you can enjoy some of the indulgences you really love once in a while! Here are some screen shots of my daily intake to give you an idea of what typical meals look like:

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Without further adieu-MY FAVORITE THINGS!

Sweets/Ingredients for Sweets:

Arctic Zero Ice Cream- Cookie Dough ALL THE WAY

Teddy Grahams

True Whip– I love this because it’s a better option than Cool Whip-more natural ingredients

Nutter Butter Wafers – I love these because one serving is 5 wafers-so I can eat one or two and they are delish!

Maple Grove Sugar Free Maple Syrup

Hershey’s sugar free chocolate syrup

Nestles mini morsels

Nestles Fat Free/sugar free hot cocoa

Protein Fluff-Click for various recipes-you’ll need XANTHUM GUM

Stevia in the Raw, Truvia, and Splenda Brown Sugar and White Sugar Granules-I’m not crazy about stevia or splenda, but I spent a ton of money on huge bags and will finish them. Next time I will try monkfruit.

 

Bread/Crackers/Pasta/Cereal:

Tumaro’s Let’s Skip The Sandwich Multigrain Wraps

P28 Protein Flat Bread (high fiber and protein) and Bagels-careful of the fat content here

Kontos Flax-Oat bran and whole wheat Lavash

Explore Asia Soybean, Edamame, Adzuki Bean, or Black Bean Pasta

Shirotaki Noodles (6 Carbs for 2 servings) –

Yam fiber  No oodles that are gluten and soy free I believe

Gold Fish Pretzels and Crackers-check the label-23 carbs for almost 50 pieces

All Bran Buds- HIGH IN FIBER- I like adding 10 g of this to my yogurt some mornings

I caution you against any granola-I LOVE granola, but it’s not worth it-you’ll eat it and then be hungry the next day

 

Dairy/Yogurt/Cheese- Includes Dairy Free Substitutes

Laughing Cow Light Swiss & Regular Swiss (wedges)

Fat Free Cream Cheese

Franklin Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese

Weight Watchers Reduced Fat Mozzarella and Mexican Blend Cheeses

Sargento Reduced Fat Shredded Mexican Blend

Kraft Fat Free Shredded Mozzarella and Shredded Cheddar

Oikos Triple Zero yogurt-high in fiber, low in carbs, high in protein

Plain, fat free Greek Yogurt- I use this as a sour cream substitution all the time!

Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk (30 cals)

Almond Breeze Coconut/Almond Milk  (45 cals)

Olivio Light-olive oil spread 1 TBSP=5 g fat

 

Veggies/Beans/Fruits

Fat Free Refried Beans

Baby Bok Choy -I make a ton of this (steam it) and dress it with low sodium Hoison)-again careful there are 5 carbs per serving here

Spaghetti Squash

Broccoli-though it’s not my favorite

Cauliflower

Cucumber

Celery

Cherry Tomatoes

PICKLES!!!!- these can be high in sodium-careful

Yams (be careful-these are high in carbs)

Romaine Hearts

Raspberries, Blackberries, and Strawberries (high in fiber)

Granny Smith Apple

Stay away from fruits high in sugar like mangoes and bananas-limit your consumption

 

Condiments/Spreads

Just Great Stuff Powdered Peanut Butter

Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter

Sugar Free Peach Apricot and Passion Fruit  Spread

Olivio Light-buttery spread

Bolthouse Farms Cucumber Dill Dressing

Spicy Mustard

Siracha

Jalapeño Tabasco

 

Eggs/Meat/Protein

Egg Beaters Liquid eggs, not egg whites (same as buying an 18 pack egg carton)

Free Range Eggs-Poached in these little cups. Be careful with eggs, yes high in protein, but also high in fat-I mix eggs and egg beaters to get the healthy fats from the eggs and the amino acids from the egg beaters

Gianelli Turkey Sausage

Chicken Breasts

Shrimp

Tilapia

Scallops

Smoked Salmon-lower fat-need to check

GNC AMP Wheybolic 60- cookies n cream, chocolate and vanilla ice cream- Cook with a lower grade whey that’s a little less expensive-use the isolate for after workouts

Dymatize Elite ISO (this is isolate-don’t cook with it)

Jay Robb- Egg White Protein Powder

Optimum Nutrition Casein – I LOVE making my protein fluff with this before bed-Casein releases into your muscles slower than the isolate which curbs morning hunger

 

What are some of your favorite healthy foods???

Cautions:

Macro living is great because you can pick and choose what you eat, as long as it fits. A lot of diet foods are filled with chemicals which can be more harmful than healthy.

Be careful not to consume too many products with aspartame. I think eating sugar substitutes are great for a small treat, but these can have ill effects on your body and mental function. I know that I have adverse reactions to stevia and think it can be quite bitter tasting. Back to aspartame-try not to consume this more than once or twice/week. I can’t tell you how many people have told me about aspartame poisoning-symptoms can be found here.

Bottom line: I need to remind myself of this too… Regardless of the sugar substitute you use, you’re tricking your body into believing something is sweet. Your body can’t process it like it would glucose which can cause issues-possibly even pancreatic cancer and Grave’s disease. Again, I’m not a doctor and I only have a limited understanding of this stuff, if you want to know more I’d suggest a google search.

 

Pancakes, syrup, and a brownie… That’s what I call breakfast!!!

I have been scouring the web for some butternut squash and chicken crockpot recipes. I have had this squash sitting on my counter for more than a month and it is ready to be roasted or baked. I originally sliced it to make cheese sandwiches-I can post that recipe another day. I found a bunch that call for quinoa and I’m not really a big fan of using my macros for quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah), but I did find a recipe for butternut squash pancakes that knocked my socks off- or if you were using correct grammar-it knocked off my socks. NOTE you must roast the squash FIRST. I hastily split open the squash and to my surprise there was life inside! Little sprouts ready to push their way through the flesh of the vegetable. I even took a picture to share with you! See below. Moving on.. These were soooo good that I made a second batch right away (with a few alterations) and packed them up for lunchfast the next day. You see, I’m supposed to complete my cardio in the morning in a fasted state, which means NO eating before (read why here). Then I wait a few to eat, maybe insert a work day at school, then eat some more carbs and heavy lift. Today was Saturday (and a game day-GO USA Rugby!!!) and a very very cold Saturday at that. The temp was -1, but -30 with the wind chill, so I wanted to limit my outdoor time as much as possible. I made the decision that I would power through a few hours at the gym and take a break between cardio and strength (#bodybuilderproblems) to write reports or put some time into this here blog. I packed up my computer, student files and work out clothes and got to it. I could only think about those pancakes while crushing the stair mill, (yup folks we are kicking it up a NOTCH and going leg heavy on the cardio). Walking and climbing stairs makes me want to bang my head against a rock. I really dislike it even with all of the entertainment options. Life is really hard some times…. (this is my attempt to make fun of myself-laugh here). The wait was worth it! I topped these pancakes with strawberries and some sugar free maple syrup, the taste was divine! I promise-these are WORTH it! Try them for yourself, let me know how they turned out or if you modified in any way!

 

Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes- Macros for the whole pancake recipe: Cals 200, F:3.8, P: 29.9, Carb: 12.9, Fiber: 3.8 (I usually divide in half)

45 g (.25 cups) roasted (not oiled) butternut squash or canned pumpkin

1 TBS  pumpkin spice

1 TBS cinnamon

1 tsp stevia

1 oz Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk (30 cals/1 cup)

26 g of GNC pumpkin Spice Anabolic Whey Protein Powder (you can sub this for any protein you’d like)\

7 g Hogeson Farms Flax Chia seed blend

69 g liquid egg whites or egg beaters

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth
  2. heat skillet on med-low with a burst of nonstick spray
  3. pour 2 large pancakes, or 4 smaller sized cakes onto skillet
  4. wait for cakes to start bubbling and the outer edges to be cooked-then flip
  5. Pancakes should get golden brown on each side
  6. Add your favorite toppings-I prefer sliced strawberries, sugar free maple syrup by Maple Grove Farms AND a protein brownie (link for recipe coming soon! (macros for 100 g of strawberries and 4 oz maple syrup= ADD 9.6 Carb, .8 protein, and 2.5 fiber for strawberries and 2 carbs for syrup)

My favorite was made with GNC wheybolic cookies and cream whey powder and 1 tsp of vanilla- Eliminate the cinnamon and pumpkin spice for these. Just writing this makes me want MORE!!!!! I know what I’m making in the morning! I might even bring some to Megan Cormack (no longer an amateur, she’s pro), my amazing posing coach AND competition suit creator!

 

Here’s the pic of the sprouting squash! It’s so pretty!

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Tales from the CRV, Random Acts of Kind-Jess

Yesterday was Friday. This was not just any ordinary Friday, this was the Friday before winter break. This Friday means only one thing… SUGAR-HIGH in elementary school. The kids were all a buzz with sucralose, glucose, and god knows what other chemicals coursing through their veins. I was offered cookies, candy, donut holes, and some birthday cupcakes. I’ve been subbing in a third grade classroom, for a teacher friend who is out on medical leave, during enrichment. The classroom teacher gave me strict instructions to “give the kids the healthy snacks, please don’t leave them in the room to rot all weekend.” I let the students have some free time, most of them chose to play on their chrome books, but a few requested to play mancala with me. I complimented them on their choice to play real life interaction games, one girl shrugged and said, “Miss Hayden, we like playing with you, it’s fun”.  Be still my heart! In that moment I realized how much I miss daily interaction with kids in a classroom setting. My job as a school psychologist allows me to have interaction with students, but usually only in one-on-one interactions. These kids are very special to me, if only I didn’t have to test and write so many reports I could do more with them… but I digress.. moving forward.

Before we knew it the announcements came on to dismiss students and we hurried to pack up. I practically shoved food into their already stuffed bags, but what kid wants an apple when they have a bag full of high fructose corn syrup???? The students were adamant that their teacher wanted all the food GONE. I couldn’t justify throwing it away, so I gathered up the bags of pretzels, raisins, apples, oranges, and containers of carrots and threw them in a large canvas tote-reserved for snack pick up (Zito-I have your bag). I lugged the tote outside with me while I walked the children to their buses. I went back to my suite after the last student boarded the bus and found one last suitemate straggler. I told her about the bag of food and asked if she’d like to bring any home because I really can’t eat all of this! Oranges, raisins, craisins, and pretzels are not on my preferred body building food list! She gasped at the sight and came up with a great idea.

“I know, let’s give some of it to the guys on the corner, you pass them everyday too right??”

YES! She was on to something! I always feel badly passing them by with nothing to give-I plan my meals and eat them all. We divvied up the food into plastic bags, said our good byes, and lugged our computers, files, and the food out to our cars.  I didn’t run into any of the guys on the corner on my way home, but thought I might when I went to the gym. I was feeling so good about this act of kind-Jess, visions of a gracious smiley guy on the corner filled my head with happy thoughts. I hurriedly got ready and headed for treadmill heaven-or hell (you choose) armed with my bag of goodies. I was dismayed to see the temperatures dropping and the snow flurrying.. there was no way the guy would be on the corner tonight. I slowly approached his usual haunt and was surprised to see the faint glow of his cigarette through the haze of the cloudy snow.

The excitement brewing inside, I quickly rolled down the window and chirped, “I brought you some food!!!” He looked at me and said nothing. The cigarette glowed bright as he inhaled slowly. I repeated, “I brought you some food! Carrots, apples, and oranges!”

He slowly walked over to my CRV and said, “I can’t eat that sh*t.”

My stomach dropped and the birds that were chirping in my mind took a nose dive, plummeting to the ground. “Uh, you can’t eat them? I’m sorry.” I replied.

He got closer and said, “Don’t be sorry, you’re being nice. I have no teeth They pulled all my teeth. I’m out here begging for money so I can get some new teeth put in!” I noticed this as he was talking.

“STUPID, STUPD, STUPID”, I thought. “How did you not think of these things when choosing the foods to give away.”

“Oh, oh my, I’m sorry! I didn’t know, ” I said in a remorseful tone. At that moment a horn honked and I realized the light had been green for quite some time. I started rolling the window up and he looked up, tapped on the window, and said, “Don’t be sorry, that was really nice of you..”

#kindnessFAIL

I drove away with mixed emotions. On one hand I was laughing hysterically because of my oversight and on the other hand I was feeling even more badly for this man on the corner with no teeth. I consider myself so lucky and am grateful for all I’ve been afforded in life. I may not be rich, but I have had rich experiences and have had the good fortune to be loved and supported by my family and friends. In the end, that’s really what is MOST important.

If you’re interested in joining the Rochester Kindness Movement please check out ROCking in Rochester. Some of the kindest people in the Rochester, NY area. I’m so lucky to know the founder of this group, she has a heart of gold and I love her for all of who she is and for what she does. Here’s a recent post:

ROCKING in Rochester was born 3 years ago today. It occurred one cold evening when the hopes from my heart officially joined the visions in my mind. The question rattled around for me: Was it possible to encourage individuals to be more compassionate and thoughtful to others on a local level so we could really feel the impact? 3 years later with1600 + rocking fans and numerous kindness stories we are doing it. KINDNESS MATTERS

A few afterthoughts:

A) I realize this post might evoke some different feelings and emotions-maybe some anger and maybe some joy? I too had some mixed feelings about my encounter-please read on:

B) Why is this guy smoking if he needs teeth and is trying to save money? Answer: Addiction, Mental Illness, and a big FAT who are you to judge-you’ve had a pretty nice life-this guy is on the corner in the freezing cold begging for money-I have skills, he may not.. etc. We are not all created equal and we are not all from the same background. There is such a thing as privilege and it hurts us to think about it because we don’t want it to be there… but it’s there and should be considered. I work with students who are starting a few miles behind those of their suburban peers. They have to have the skills and the talent to catch up-an extremely difficult task when resources are few. I try to keep this in mind as much as possible.

C) Next time I will be more cognizant of the items I choose to give.

D) Dental work is expensive, how’s he gonna come up with a few thousand dollars???? That’s a lot! I’m lucky to have insurance for these things-but even my insurance is terrible and a simple filling costs a couple hundred dollars.

Chirkey Broccoflower and Banza Soup

I started this soup before I went to the gym tonight, decided to make an “everything but the… refrigerator” soup. I had cauliflower and broccoli that needed to GO stat. I quickly threw the green and white florets into my food processor and then dumped it all in the crockpot. Set it on high and dashed out the door to destroy my lats and lower traps. I returned from the gym and could smell this soup from the driveway, the odor wafting through the large cracks in the door frame (note to self: get door seal fixed). I was so excited to try it (AND HUNGRY) that I threw in the pasta and then took a spoonful straight to my gullet, BIG MISTAKE-HUGE.  The roof of my mouth is now raw… UGH. Enough babbling… here’s the recipe!

Ingredients:

3 Box Containers Wegmans Organic Chicken Broth

1 lb Turkey Breast cutlets

6 oz chicken breast

400 g broccoli (food processed/blended)

400 g Cauliflower (food processed/blended)

3 stalks celery

5 baby carrots

100 g chopped onion

2 large garlic cloves chopped

Few sprigs of fresh parsley

1/4 cup sherry

1-2 TBSP Trader Joe’s every day seasoning (to taste), cracked red pepper

170 g Banza chickpea pasta

As much salt as you need to taste (I try to keep it low bc it affects my weight too much)

 

1) Shred broccoli and cauliflower in your food processor or blender until it looks like confetti. You will have to do this in small batches so you don’t muck up your food processor or blender.

2) Combine Broccoli, onion, garlic, celery stalk (in-tact), carrots, parsley, seasoning, chicken broth, and sherry in your crockpot and turn on high. Cook for 4-5 hours

3) Take out chicken and turkey and shred, return to pot

4) Remove celery and carrots

5) Add Banza Pasta and wait 10 minutes-or until pasta is soft

6) Serve and season more if you’d like! Makes 8 large servings (1.5 cups each)-careful not to burn your mouth like I did! It was so good I couldn’t help myself!

Macros: 233 cals, Fat: 2.1, Carbs: 18.8, Protein: 35.4

 

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