Monday, March 23, 2015

AdvoCare Progress Report

I feel like I'm back in my teaching days using words like "progress report". But I haven't checked in on my healthy eating/weight loss progress in a while so I thought today would be as good of a time as any.

First things first:
Since January 9th (a few days before actually starting my 24 day challenge) I've lost almost 15 pounds. I've also lost 2.5 inches from my waist, as well as several inches (total) from my hips, thighs, chest, and arms.
So, that took about 2.5 months. It came off pretty easily at first, but the last few pounds have definitely taken their sweet time to lose. That's bound to happen at some point or another, especially when you get near your goal weight.

A few stats: (because our curiosity always has us wanting to know the actual stats)
Left photo: 147.4 lbs, size 6, sometimes small 8
right photo: 132.6 lbs size 4
(I'm 5'8")

same stats as above, different angle and a different top in the before pic...

You may recall, I did my first 24 day challenge around this time last year in an effort to jump-start losing the rest of the weight I gained with the twins. When I started that challenge, I weighed in at 165.4 lbs. So, in about a year I've lost 33 lbs. I slacked off on my diet toward the middle and end of 2014, so another challenge was in order. Since completing it, I've stuck with healthy eating and done very well in that area. Exercise is another story, which is why I will start running regularly again and doing some workouts on our Total Gym upstairs.
New (bright and fun) kicks will help motivate me to start running again.
They always make it more somewhat fun.
Shoes are Nike Flex 2015

As far as a goal weight, I honestly don't really have one. I know how I want my body to look and that's more what I'm focused on. I do want to lose a few more pounds(mostly on my belly...if only it were that simple, right?) and tone up and get into great shape. Being "skinny" doesn't necessarily mean you're healthy and in good shape, and that's what's important to me.

So, do I still use AdvoCare? Absolutely! I'm actually a distributor so you know I believe in the products. In addition to drinking Spark once every day or every other day, I also take Catalyst and OmegaPlex and I'll have a meal replacement shake for breakfast if I'm in a rush, or just want a tasty chocolatey drink.

Being successful with weight loss is hard work. It's easy to get frustrated if you're not seeing the results you want. It's easy to get off track and hurt the progress you've made. The key is to keep your eye on the prize and push forward. If you fall off the wagon, get yourself back up and press on. 
Avoid having temptations at your house. Have healthy alternatives on-hand. Plan and prep ahead of time. Allow yourself the occasional indulgence, but get right back on track with the next meal. 
Realize you are human! 
Be proud of yourself, because you're awesome and you can do anything you want to do!


Friday, March 06, 2015

7 Tips To Help You Eat Healthy (And Stick With It)

Sticking with a healthy eating plan isn't always easy. Believe me, I know.
Temptation is everywhere, and who doesn't want that gooey fudge brownie over some almonds or carrots? I know I do! But part of living a healthier lifestyle means sacrificing some of the things we want and making better choices for our bodies.
I thought I'd share a few tips that have helped make healthy eating easier for me.


1. Plan & prep.
This is probably THE most important thing you can do when you're trying to eat healthier.
Having things prepped and ready to eat as much as possible is vital.
I do my grocery shopping every week. I've tried to do it every other week, but with 3 kids it's just not possible. We always need to stock up on more milk, diapers, wipes, snacks, fresh produce & meats, etc.
The first thing I do is make my menu for the next week. That one thing alone makes the shopping and the prep work so much easier.
This also goes for eating out at restaurants, or at a party or event. Plan ahead and decide what you are going to eat, if possible. If you know what restaurant you're going to, browse the menu and decide what your choice will be. Don't be afraid to ask for substitutions when it comes to sides, dressings, etc. They're happy to swap things out, omit items, or decrease the amounts.
If you know you're going to a party where "bad" food will be served, or there won't be many healthy options, eat something ahead of time so you're full and satisfied, and not tempted to eat what's there.


2. Cook extra!
Making enough for lunch the next day takes all the headache out of coming up with good healthy lunch options.
When I grill up some chicken for dinner to serve with veggies, I grill it all so that I can use some in salads and other lunch dishes throughout the week.


3. Stock up on easy to grab, but healthy, snacks.
My staple snack is a Larabar. They're delicious and filling and could not be better for you.

Another favorite is Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt. I love the vanilla with some berries and a little granola. So satisfying.
You also can't go wrong with an apple and some peanut butter, a serving of almonds, hummus and veggies, or a little trail mix....watch the sodium, sugar and other nutrition info on that, though.


4. If you can't resist the temptation, don't have it in your house.
I've learned there are certain things I just cannot have in the house, so I don't buy them. Potato chips, cookies and cakes, or candies. If they're in my pantry, it's really hard for me to resist them sometimes. If you know there are certain things you just can't resist, you're setting yourself up for failure by allowing them in your house. This is especially true if you're early into your new healthy eating lifestyle. If you haven't built up the willpower and discipline to avoid them, just don't even bring them into your home.


5. Get a George Foreman Grill
Or wipe off the old one collecting dust in your cabinet.
Yes, I'm talking about the Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine
For years, I hardly ever used mine. During the cold months or rainy weather when you don't want to grill outside, it's just way too convenient and quick to not use it. Get yourself one!
We have this model and it is awesome. It has 5 removable plates, although I mostly use the grill plates. It heats up fast, cooks evenly and quickly, and whips things up in no time. 
I couldn't live without this thing.


6. Try new things.
Don't be afraid to try new foods you've never had before. You may be surprised at what you'll like. And if you don't like it, you know never to buy it again. Haha!
For me, cauliflower is one of those vegetables that I've always hated...mostly because I'd only ever eaten it raw. Bleh!! But when you try cooking something a different way (or in this case, cook it at all), it can completely change its flavor and texture. I love making cauliflower mash when I'm wanting mashed potatoes as a healthier alternative.
Roasting it also makes it super tasty. If you're iffy about any veggie, give roasting a try. Just a little olive oil, salt & pepper and roast it in the oven. It gives things a wonderful flavor.


7. Cheat.
Kinda. You know I allow myself one "treat" meal a week. This is usually on a weekend, preferably for breakfast or lunch. I just don't like eating a big or rich meal for dinner.


I think it's so imperative that we allow ourselves a little cheat from our healthy eating for a few reasons: 
1. We're more likely to stick with healthy eating if we know that little treat is coming. 
2. It's important to reward ourselves on a regular basis so we don't feel deprived and go on an eating binge. 
3. We're human, and life is too short to not enjoy the ice cream or the pizza from time to time. Go for the splurge. There's too much delicious food in this world for us not to eat it. 
Just, maybe, don't eat it every day. :)


Happy Weekend!!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

My List of Must-Haves with 3 Kids Under 4

As you can imagine, having 3 kids 3 and under (Hudson will be 4 in April) isn't the easiest job in the world. It requires energy, patience, planning and preparing when possible, and of course...a sense of humor.

I can only imagine what family dinners will look like when my kids are a little older.


But I made a list of a few things that help make life just a smidgen easier...if that's possible.

We have two of these and use them so much! We keep one in the kitchen by the highchairs for clean-up after meals, and we keep the other in the diaper bag so we always have one when we're on the go.
We use Pampers diapers in our house, but prefer Huggies wipes (especially the One & Done that are thick) so these are just perfect for us. They are super durable and you can refill it over and over and have it any time and place you need it.


With twins, this thing is vital. Not to mention, Hudson likes to get in there with them from time to time. We went with the big 8 panel one and I'm so glad we did. It fits perfectly in our living room and they still have tons of room to play and run around in it. Our house has a pretty open floor plan so for us, it's not really an option to just let them roam around freely just yet. Door openings are far too wide for a normal baby gate to fit, so this keeps them contained, but allows them a good bit of freedom as well.


Because, obviously.


We used these with Hudson when he was younger and they are a life-saver when you're at a restaurant. They stick to the table, then just toss 'em when you're done. 


Simple to use and totally worth the price, especially when you have 3 sick kids like I have had the last week. They're almost 100% now, thank goodness. But, this made it so quick and easy to check temps one after another.


A good monitor is not cheap, but it's so worth it! We use this one for the twins and we have another small one for Hudson. (Yes, I still have a monitor in his room.) This one can hold up to 4 cameras, so that's pretty awesome. The only (minor) con I've found: if it's not plugged into the wall adapter, the screen goes black after a minute or so(I guess to save the battery), making you press the top button to turn the video back on. I usually always leave it plugged in, so this hasn't really been an issue for us. Also, occasionally the Wifi will mess with the video/sound for a minute but it's not all that common.


Our Suburban has a DVD player in it, but before we got it we had a portable set like this. There was a time when I said I wouldn't have a DVD player in my vehicle. 
Well, I'm smarter now than I was then. Haha!
Especially for road trips, a DVD player is definitely a must for our kids...and our sanity.
Anybody need me to quote Frozen or Despicable Me for them? No?


I have proclaimed my love for this sound machine many, many times. The twins have one and Hudson has one. If it weren't for this thing, they would not be the great sleepers they are. The twins would hear Hudson's loud mouth in the mornings when he's up before them, and vice-versa. For that reason, it's a must have for us.


9. Go-go juice for momma



10. And the occasional...

Hahaha!! Kidding. Maybe.


Seriously, though, when you have multiple children who are close in age, the most important things you can have are not material things....
Patience - not always easy to come by
Energy (insert go-go juice here)
Preparation - planning ahead is huge!
A sense of humor - you have to be able to laugh so you don't cry
Flexibility - not the kind where you can touch your toes or put your body into a pretzel, although that'd probably come in handy, too.
A routine - kids thrive on a consistent routine. Things don't have to be done the same exact time every day, but it helps if they're done the same way and in the same order as much as possible.
They like knowing what to expect.


So, if you're a parent of multiple children, especially younger ones, take a deep breath and know you're not alone. We're all figuring this thing out together. Practice a little patience(I say this mostly to myself), keep that sense of humor, go eat some chocolate in the closet, and get that bottle of wine ready for bedtime. ;-)

Oh and keep the Clorox wipes handy, 'cause kids are gross.

Monday, March 02, 2015

5 Things I'd Eat Endlessly If Calories Didn't Count

Calories really are the devil, ya know? I mean, one should be able to enjoy a warm, gooey, fudgy brownie a la mode (because is there any other way than a la mode??) without worrying about it going straight to our thighs or our butt...or in my case, my gut. Ugh. 
We all have our favorite splurge treats or meals...the cakes, cookies, a cheeseburger maybe? Or some good ol' Southern comfort food? Yes, yes, yeeeessss, and, um....duh!!

Unfortunately, we have to go and ruin those delicious dishes by putting all these little hidden minions called calories in them! Pssshhh.
I mean, on one hand, calories are great. They fuel our bodies and give us nourishment. Yada yada yada. But they also nourish that dang cellulite and those stubborn fat rolls. Thus, we must consume those treats, and their little minions we call calories, in moderation.

I allow myself a little "treat" meal or a tasty dessert once a week. I stay pretty disciplined with my "clean eating", consuming mostly lean proteins, veggies, fruits, and complex carbs, throughout the week so that one little treat won't completely undo all the progress I've made. I think it's important to allow yourself this weekly splurge, so that you are more likely to stick with your healthy eating through the week. Come Thursday, I start getting really excited and begin planning what my treat will be. Yesterday, I had Mexican (for the first time in MONTHS) for dinner...the hubby and I split some chicken fajitas. I opted out of the tortillas, but did have a few chips and a little cheese dip. I also had 2 Dunkin' Donuts Munchkins. Mmmm. And it did not wreck my diet at all. I also didn't feel gross afterward. Sometimes if you've gone an insanely long time without any "bad" food, your body will freak out and you will immediately regret your decision.
You know what I'm talkin' about.

But if you allow your body something heavier, or maybe a little greasier, than it's used to having, once a week, it'll handle it better than it would if you went a month or two or MORE without having anything like that.

I remember having a point when I started this post.
Ah, yes....

5 Things I'd Eat Endlessly If Calories Weren't The Devil
(because 5 seemed like a nice round number)

1. Chicken 'n dressing with mashed potatoes
OK, I lump these two together and that may be cheating but I don't even care. For me, this is my ultimate "Southern" comfort food meal. I could literally eat it every single day and not tire of it. I celebrate Thanksgiving from about mid-September until the New Year. Gimme all the chicken 'n dressing. All of it. 
Aaaanndddd, I think I just decided what my "treat" meal will be next weekend.


2. Birthday cake
Straight up, plain white cake with legit vanilla buttercream frosting.
Holy Toledo, my love for birthday cake runs deep. I get it from my momma. But, seriously. 
And if you could throw in a few Lay's potato chips with it, that'd be grreeaatt. 


3. Pasta
With marinara sauce, with a creamy alfredo sauce, with a cheesy sauce, with a lemon garlic sauce.....
I do not discriminate. I love all pasta, and all sauces. This, of course, includes mac & cheese.


4. Cheeseburgers
More specifically, bacon cheeseburgers. Because, I mean...

bacon cheeseburgers


5. Loaded cheese fries with ranch dressing
Can you ever have too much bacon? Or ranch dressing?
OK, arteries and cholesterol and all that other stuff aside.....no, you cannot! 
If you've never enjoyed a delicious plate of fries smothered in cheesy, bacon-y, salty goodness then you must get yourself in the car and, in the words of Will Smith, jump on it.

Fine establishments such as Outback Steakhouse serve them up right nicely. 
Baumhower's is my fave, though.


As you can see, I do enjoy the occasional sweet treat, but I'm a total salty girl. 
Gimme my salty and savory foods, with a small side of birthday cake. HA!

Of course, it's not advisable to eat like this on the regular, but man...think about how awesome it'd be if all these "bad" foods didn't come with all those naughty things....the fat, the grease, and the nasty calories. (not to mention they would raise our cholesterol numbers through the roof!!!)

Now that you've witnessed my inner fat girl....I ask you, if calories didn't count, what FIVE things could you eat over, and over, and over??


Happy Monday!! 
As much as I want that bacon cheeseburger for lunch....I'll go get started on my grilled chicken and broccoli. ;-)
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Customizable Taco Bowls

If you're like me, you love when a good meal comes together with minimal time and work. Now, I do love spending time making a super nice "gourmet" meal from time to time. But, let's be honest, it's just not realistic to do that every day, or even every week for most of us. These days, especially, I appreciate quick and easy meals that are also delicious, healthy, and satisfying. 
This is one of those meals. And it's easy....stupid easy...like, my Boxer could make it. (he can be pretty stupid sometimes. Sorry, Bryant, it's true.)

These taco bowls(or glorified taco salads if you will) kind of remind me Chipotle, and, depending on what you use in them, could totally be a Chipotle fake-out. You can use just about anything you want. Ground beef, ground or shredded chicken, ground turkey, even steak or shrimp. 
I make these at LEAST once a week and my husband and I practically inhale them. 
I love the flavors of a taco, but I really don't like dealing with the crunchy shells that fall apart and spill out all of the ingredients all over my plate. 

With the bowls, you get all the flavor with none of that mess. The leftovers make for the perfect lunch the next day.


For this post, I'll share the recipe as I usually make them. Like I said, though, these are completely customizable to your liking.

Meat mixture:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 taco seasoning packet (I use the reduced sodium)
1 can Ro-tel (I don't drain this)
1 can corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)

- Brown ground beef and drain grease. Sprinkle in taco seasoning and stir well. 
- Add in your Ro-tel, corn, and beans and let it all simmer together for 10 minutes or so. Bam. Done.
- I layer my bowls with lettuce, then a little brown rice, the meat mixture, and then add my preferred toppings. I love avocado, tomatoes, a little salsa, cheese, and jalapeƱos. The possibilities are endless. If you don't want to do the rice, toss in some Fritos or tortilla strips for some crunch.

Optional toppings/additions:
sliced jalapeƱos 
cubed avocado
squeeze of lime
diced tomatoes
shredded cheese
*salsa
*(any kind you like; salsa verde would be so good with chicken or shrimp)
black olives
reduced fat sour cream
chopped cilantro
Fritos/tortilla chips
brown rice
shredded lettuce


I realize this recipe isn't fancy, nor is it rocket-science....and that a blind goat could make it. But any recipes that can deliver delicious flavor in a small amount of time with minimal effort, well...I consider them worth sharing. 

And now, here it is...breakfast time, and I'm already excited about today's lunch....since it's leftovers from taco (bowl) Tuesday.