Sunday, October 27, 2013

Get Rid of Boring Chicken!

How are you doing with the ab challenge? Are your abs burning yet? If not, give it a few more days! If you haven't started it's not too late! If you've started and then stopped, just start back up where you left off. You can do this! It's only 30 days! 
Today I want to write a little bit about chicken. For those of you who have lost weight in the past, or are losing weight right now, you know that chicken is a very healthy source of lean protein! Chicken will keep you feeling full and it's low in calories and saturated fat. When I first started my lifestyle change I ate a chicken breast every day for lunch and dinner. At about day 6 I never wanted to see another chicken breast again! Then I started experimenting with healthy chicken recipes. Here are 4 ways you can dress up a chicken breast without compromising nutritional value or taste. 

1. There are tons of recipes for healthy sauces you can put on a chicken breast to give it some flavor. Sometimes I use soy sauce and ginger or cilantro and lime. Here is our favorite chicken sauce recipe:

Avocado cream sauce
  • One avocado
  • One clove of garlic
  • Zest of one lime
  • Cilantro to taste 
  • One teaspoon of salt 
  • Two tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt. 

First I cook some chicken with cumin, cayenne, and red pepper flakes. Then I add all of the above ingredients in a food processor until blended. Top the cooked chicken with the avocado sauce. It's perfect because the cool avocado sauce really balances out the spicy chicken. This is a family favorite! 

2. There are a million different chicken marinades you can try so there is bound to be a few you will like! Just marinate the chicken overnight and cook in a pan or on your grill. Here are two recipes we use all the time! 

Grilled Lime Chicken Marinade 

  • 1/4 C. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1/2 tsp. minced onion

Healthier Buffalo Chicken Marinade

  • 3/4 cup hot sauce 
  • 1/4 cup margarine, melted 
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Light ranch dressing (optional) 

Before you marinate the chicken, reserve 1/4 of the marinade. Marinate the chicken for 20 minutes and then pan fry with cooking spray. Top chicken with remaining marinade and dip in light ranch if desired. 

3. Another way I dress up chicken breasts is herbs and spices. There are so many different combinations you can use and they make such a huge difference! Here are some ideas of spices and herbs that go very well together:

  • Cayenne pepper, cumin and red pepper flakes. 
  • Oregano, basil, garlic powder and seasoning salt. 
  • Garlic, chives, lemon, and black pepper (yummy!). 
  • Rosemary, thyme, sage and garlic. 
  • Paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne. 
  • Garlic, parsley, pepper, and lemon. 

4. Turn your cooked chicken breasts into a healthy new dish. If you cook chicken with garlic, onions, cumin, oregano, cilantro, black pepper, and lime you can add bell peppers and rice for a light chicken fajita. Here is another lighter chicken dish we make: 

Mexican Chicken
  • 1 lb of chicken cooked and shredded (feel free to use some of your new seasoning ideas!) 
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1/2 pack of taco seasoning
  • 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1/2 can of drained black beans
  • 1 cup of reduced fat shredded cheese (optional)
  • 2 green onions, chopped. 
Just mix all of the ingredients in a large skillet on med/low for about 20 minutes and serve over rice. Sometimes it gets thick so I will just add a little bit of water. 

So there you have it! Four new ways you can dress up your chicken. There are tons of combinations out there so experiment until you find what you like! I never use fresh herbs because they just end up going bad. In the spice isle you can get dried herbs which seem to last a lifetime. In the salad isle you can also buy cilantro, garlic, and ginger in a tube. You get the taste of fresh herbs but it can last a month or so in your refrigerator. Do you have a healthy chicken recipe that you wouldn't mind sharing? E-mail me at or you can just leave it in the comments section! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

30-Day AB Challenge

Starting October 21st I am doing an ab challenge with a few girlfriends of mine. I think you should all do it with me! If you are looking for that little push to get started, this is it! Here is what the challenge looks like: 

Your form is very important when you do these exercises so lets review. 

Sit-ups: If you don't have good form when doing sit ups you can damage your spine or hurt your lower back and neck. When you do a sit up do not put your hands behind your neck. When you tug on your neck it compromises your form and it can cause injury.

Sit ups should be done on a hard surface like a floor or a yoga mat and not on a bed or a couch. Bring your knees up with your feet flat on the floor and cross your arms over your chest. Keeping your neck aligned, use your core muscles to partially sit yourself up. Lead with your shoulders, not with your neck! You also don't need to lift yourself all the way up to your knees. You only need to lift yourself up as high as the muscle man in the picture below. Look at his form. His neck is straight and his spine in aligned. 

Crunches: Crunches start the same way as sit ups with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Press your back to the floor so your spine stays straight. Arms should be behind your neck or at your ears but remember to not pull on your neck. Lift the shoulder blades and pull up from the floor about an inch or two, keeping your head straight. This is your starting position for a crunch. Then, lift yourself up about an inch or two and return to the starting position. 

Your shoulders should not rest on the floor in between repetitions, unlike a sit up. Do not let momentum do your work for you! Make sure you are lifting your body up with your core muscles. 

Leg Raises:

To do a leg raise lie flat on your back with your hands to your sides. Make sure you keep your head and shoulders on the floor at all times! Lift your legs straight up so your body is at a 90 degree angle. Then, lower your legs until they are about an inch away from the floor. Do not let your legs rest on the floor. Breathe in as you lower your legs and exhale as you bring your legs up again. Do not arch your back as you lower your legs. Your spine, head, and shoulders should be firmly pressed on the floor at all times. 

Plank: Keeping your elbows in line with your shoulders, place your forearms on the floor and raise your body into plan position. Feet should be shoulder width apart. This is what a plank should look like: 

Your body should be straight like somebody strapped a board to it. A huge problem people have is lifting their hips up to make the exercise easier. Make sure your hips and bum are in line with the rest of your body. You will know you are doing it right if you feel it in your abs. If you don't feel it in your abs your hips are too high. 

If this plank is too hard for you then you can try the modified plank. It is the same plank position except you are on your knees. It should look like this: 

Notice that even though her knees are on the floor, the rest of her body is still straight as if someone has strapped a board to her back. 

Good luck on your challenge! Feel free to comment if you are joining us! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Protein Shake Recipes

When I first started my health plan I had instructions to drink two protein shakes a day. I would add one scoop of vanilla powder to 8 ounces of water and chug it as fast as I could. It tasted awful and I would gag every time. It was seriously the worst part of my plan! After a while I stopped drinking the shakes because they tasted so awful and they made me hate life a little bit. A few weeks ago I fell off the bandwagon and spent three days living the "old me" lifestyle. I was miserable and I felt like crap the entire time. When I was finally able to reset myself I decided I was going to try to add in the protein shakes again. This time I did a little research on protein shake recipes in hopes of keeping the shakes down. The first recipe I tried was a combination of vanilla protein powder and peanut butter. I was hooked! It tasted like a peanut butter cup. It was such a treat and it was so delicious I felt guilty after eating it all! I was able to enjoy a yummy snack, get my protein powder in, and stay within my calorie range. To be honest, 3:00 pm is now my favorite time of day because I get my shake! Here are some recipes that I have tried and absolutely fell in love with! Just add all of the ingredients together and blend in a blender. The ice is optional, I just use it because it makes my shake taste like an ice cream treat. If you are not going to use ice then you can just mix the ingredients in a shaker.

***I found all of these recipes on the internet and I'm not taking credit for any of them!***

Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake - Perfect for fall weather!
  • 1 cup of skim milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup of crushed ice 
  • 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Nutmeg for garnish 

Peanut Brittle Shake
  • 1 cup of skim milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup of crushed ice 
  • 1 tbsp of natural chunky peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp of sugar free instant butterscotch pudding mix 

Thin Mint Shake
  • 1 cup of skim milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup of crushed ice 
  • 2-3 drops of mint extract 

Peanut Butter Cup Shake 
  • 1 cup of skim milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup of crushed ice 
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter

Superman Ice Cream Shake
  • 1 cup of skim milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup of crushed ice 
  • 2-3 tbsp of sugar free instant pistachio pudding mix 

Cookies and Cream Shake
  • 1 cup of skim milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup of crushed ice 
  • 1/2 of a 100 calorie Oreo snack pack 
  • 2 tbsp of sugar free instant vanilla pudding mix 

Pina Colada Shake
  • 1 cup of skim milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup of crushed ice 
  • 1 tbsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple 

Strawberry Cheesecake Shake
  • 1 cup of skim milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup of crushed ice 
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries 
  • 2 tbsp of sugar free cheesecake pudding mix 

There is so much you can do with your protein shake! Don't be afraid to experiment. Just today I tried vanilla protein powder and orange jello mix and I hated it! Do you have a recipe for a protein shake that you just love? Please feel free to share it in the comments section. Can't wait to hear all of your ideas! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lets Talk Fad Diets

I'm sure you have seen the ads on the internet, on television, or on your friend's social media page. Try this new diet! You can lose 10 pounds in one week! Sound too good to be true? That's because it generally is. Fad diets are are known for their 15 minutes of fame and then they fade out of popularity because they do not generate any real or long term results. If we actually could lose 10 real pounds in a week wouldn't everybody be doing it? When you lose that whopping 5 pounds the first few days of your diet it is usually from dropping water weight, and your body is no longer retaining carbohydrates which can make you feel less bloated. This is why we lose so much weight our first week and seemingly none the second! Hang it there though! It will start to melt off when your body adjusts to your new health regimen. Fad diets rid you of all your water weight and carbohydrate retention and you can lose a few pounds, but as soon as you start eating again the weight will come back on because it is not real weight loss. Here is example of a fad diet that claims you can lose 1-2 pounds a day over a 30 day period. I have also included some of the risks associated with this diet. 

HCG Diet:  

On this diet, users will either inject or sublingually take a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG. The dieter will then restrict their calorie intake to 500 calories a day and can only consume a small, and very strict, variety of foods for about 30 to 40 days. The hormone will then, in theory, use your body's fat for fuel. This level of calorie restriction can cause severe health problems such as irregular heartbeat and imbalance of electrolytes. It is also important to note the Food and Drug Administration calls this fad diet "reckless" and advertising that hCG promotes weight loss is illegal! A direct quote from their website states: "FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have issued seven letters to companies warning them that they are selling illegal homeopathic HCG weight-loss drugs that have not been approved by FDA, and that make unsupported claims." If that's not enough to dissuade you than try reading some of the reviews. Some users state they have had extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, confusion, dizziness, and hair loss. Losing weight is hard work. The hCG diet is just a band-aid. 

Fad diets will almost certainly set you up for failure. A dieter will jump from one fad diet to the next looking for quick fix. When that need is not met it can decrease self esteem and self worth and ruin your body's ability to sense real hunger cues. If you want long term, meaningful results you are going to have to work hard for them! What questions do you have about fad diets? Is there a specific fad diet you would like me discuss? Let me know in the comment section! 


Hello friends! Oh boy! Another weight loss blog...because we don't have enough. Yes, I know there a billion weight loss blogs out there already but lets look at why that is. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese! The harmful health effects of obesity are starting to make themselves known throughout families, communities, and populations nationwide. We all know someone who is obese, or we struggle with weight ourselves. I grew up ridiculously thin with a metabolism fast enough to make Usain Bolt jealous! As it turned out I had an autoimmune disorder to thank blame for that called Grave's Disease. When I was 19 I was given a radioactive type of iodine to kill my thyroid and render it completely useless. Now, instead of my body running too fast I get to experience the complete opposite. This meant I had to start watching what I ate...and I did. I watched myself eat pizza, potato chips, and McDonald's as I continued my downward spiral into obesity. 

In January 2013 we adopted our son, Jackson, and my weight issues seemed so unfair for him. I was not going to let my baby boy suffer the consequences of my poor decision making. I didn't want him mimicking my behaviors and I wanted the energy to be able to keep up with him. He was my motivator to starting my weight loss journey. 

I have a Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences and I have always had a passion for health. I knew what I needed to do, I just needed the motivation to do it! So I hired a dear friend of mine who graduated in the same program I did. She is a wonderful role model and accredited personal trainer. I lost 25 pounds but I still have a LONG way to go. Here are my before and after pictures: 

The picture on the right is me at my heaviest weight when my son was born. The two pictures on the left are me 25 pounds lighter and no longer obese! As I continue my journey I thought I would share some tips, recipes, and stories. I can't wait to share with you some of the things I have learned.  Please leave comments and suggestions! I would love to hear what you want to learn about with me!