Taking Back My Power

Hello Wonderful Blog Readers!

I’m one week into focusing on my health again and I feel great! I have no technical success to speak of yet (i.e. pounds down, inches lost, etc.) but I’ve been able to meet my initial goals which are all habit-based:

  • Logging my food daily
  • Hitting 10,000 steps daily (this is big since I’m recovering from a major injury)
  • Getting back to actively thinking about what I eat

Obviously this is just a start but rebuilding my healthy habits is the only way I’m going to truly get healthy again.

I know enough about health and fitness goals to know the food I eat is more important than the exercise I get in, but I have to say it feels AMAZING to get back to a 10,000 step goal. Before my injury happened I had finally reached a point in my life where I considered myself to be athletic. Because of that, the last 5 months of recovery has been brutal. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of things I love that I still can’t do:

  • Running
  • Insanity
  • Kickboxing (although I’m close to getting back to the fundamentals for this)
  • Rollerblading

All that being said, getting back to 10,000 steps feels a lot like taking my power back. If I can do 10,000 steps, I can eventually get back to everything, including my healthy goals, my healthiest weight, and even my final ideal weight and size.

I will get there. It’s just a matter of time!

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After Dinner Workouts

So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed my weight loss plan! I guess it’s fair to say I’ve gotten over that difficult hump you come across at the start of working out and eating healthy again. Not to say that everything has been easy, but nowadays I’m enjoying being healthy more than I’m frustrated by it.

What’s been especially interesting for me is my evening workouts. I used to hate the idea of exercising at night. After a full day of work, all I wanted was to get home and relax. Now, I’ve gotten into the habit of changing into my workout clothes as soon as I get home, so I’m mentally ready to go right away.

As I’ve built the habit of my evening workouts, I’ve discovered one other benefit that I never thought of: portion control. My biggest problem with overeating has always been with dinners. Now that I’m working out at night, forget that! We all know the heavy, uncomfortable feeling that comes from overeating. I knew I could never complete a workout feeling that way so I’ve started paying closer attention to my portions without really thinking about it. As a result, I’ve actually caught myself trimming my portions even on nights where I’m not exercising after dinner!

Overall, I’d say I’ve gotten over a lot of the excuses that used to keep me from healthy habits. Who knows? Tomorrow I could hit another hurdle that changes my viewpoint but that’s not happening today!

Feeling Strong

Today I’m reveling in the joy I’m getting from my workouts. This is one of the best parts of starting a weight loss routine! When I first start out I normally feel weak and inflexible.  I can hardly complete a push-up. Not anymore!

Yesterday, I started a new section of P90X that was very push-up intensive. When I first saw the required moves I had serious doubts that I would be able to do very much of the workout. However, I powered through it and felt great at the end!

These are the feelings I’m latching on to as I move through this challenge. It’s so easy to convince ourselves that we feel good doing NOTHING or indulging in a rich piece of chocolate cake. I’ve succumbed to this thought process more than once (obviously, or I wouldn’t be writing this blog). All I want to do when I get home is relax. All I want is a bowl of ice cream. Sound familiar?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times that relaxing and eating ice cream are very good. But in the long run, I feel better when I’m healthy. I just have to keep paying attention to the daily reminders I’m getting now. 🙂

Veggie Tales #1 – Artichokes 

Earlier in the week I decided to start experimenting with vegetables a little more. I’ve always been really bad about fitting veggies in and it’s mostly because I don’t have a lot of knowledge of different vegetables. To resolve this I added a new challenge: To try one new vegetable a week. Going into this week, I decided to adjust that slightly. I’m still going to experiment once a week but I’m going to shoot to try one way of cooking each vegetable on it’s own and also in a recipe.

For my first week, I decided to try artichokes in a recipe I found and modified. I will say, from the get-go, that I think this recipe could be improved still – at least for my taste – but I think it’s a good base. I also really enjoyed playing with it so I wanted to share that with everyone.

Working the Recipe

The recipe I started with was this Artichoke and Tomato Panzanella recipe from the Food Network. It’s intended to be an Italian salad and it looked delicious right away! Looking at this recipe, I knew immediately that I wanted to make a few modifications. First of all, I wanted to add some protein. I’m also not a huge fan of olives so I decided to remove those and add some chicken. Beyond that, I really enjoy playing with spices so I followed the recipe but added additional spices for more flavor.


To start off, I cut some chicken into 1-inch cubes and grilled it up with some thyme, sage, basil, and garlic. As that cooked, I sliced the ends off the frozen artichokes that I had already thawed. I also cut 4 pieces of bread into 1-inch cubes and tossed them in a large pan with the artichokes. I will note here that really thick French or Italian bread would have made this even better! I, however, had regular old sandwich bread and that was still pretty yummy!

The artichokes and bread were drizzled with olive oil and grilled until they were just slightly brown. I also added garlic as this was grilling. While this was cooking, I finished the chicken, drained it, and moved on to the tomatoes. I cut these into small chunks and tossed them with basil. About this time, the bread and artichokes were done. I mixed everything together in a large bowl and moved on to the “dressing” the recipe calls for. It’s a blend of olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.

In a very short amount of time, I was done and ready to eat!


The Result

This recipe was interesting because I knew going into it that it was going to be a challenge to sway my husband into eating it. He’s not a fan of artichokes or tomatoes so I was already starting off in the negative. Unfortunately, I did not accomplish this mission – there was just too much in it that he wasn’t a fan of. However, I enjoyed the recipe myself. My only thought, if I were to make it again, is that I would definitely add more garlic. I think that would have pushed it just enough to make it great!

Interested in trying it yourself? Here’s the official breakdown of how I did it. Just note that I am not much of a measurer when it comes to seasoning so those amounts are estimated.

  • 8-oz chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cup 1-inch cubed whole wheat bread
  • 8-oz frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and with the ends cut off
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, with extra for drizzling
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into small chunks
  • 1/8 cup white wine vinegar

Directions:

Toss the cubed chicken with the basil, thyme, sage, and garlic, reserving a 1/2 tsp of the garlic and basil for later. Grill the chicken until cooked through. Drain and set aside.

Placed the artichokes and bread into a large pan. Drizzle with olive oil and grill until slightly browned. Sprinkle with the leftover garlic while grilling.

Toss the tomato wedges with remaining basil. Combine olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to create the “dressing.”

Combine all ingredients, besides the dressing, in a large bowl. Dish out the desired amount and drizzle with the dressing previously combined. Enjoy!

Overcoming Excuses

Ok, so I’m jumping back on here after a two-day hiatus. It is time to get back on track! I will say that I fell off of my eating a little yesterday. Instead of that making me crave more bad foods, like it normally does, I feel ready to charge through this next week, which will end with my first official check-in on pounds and inches lost.

As I’ve gone through the last couple weeks of my weight loss challenge, I’ve been thinking a lot about the excuses I was making before I began. Part of the way I spurred myself into action was to list out all of the excuses I knew I was making for myself. Seeing them all listed out really showed me how much I was holding myself back. To combat the barrage of barricades I had set up for myself, I forced myself to think through a resolution to each excuse:

  • Excuse: The main time I can work out is in the morning before work. It’s too difficult to get up that early.
    • Resolution: Go to bed no later than 10pm. Once I actually started my challenge, I also decided to make myself get up early even on days I wasn’t doing a morning workout. I figured that would help my body get into a routine of waking up early. I have to say, my early, non-workout mornings are my favorites! I settle in with a cup of hot tea and do Rosetta Stone to learn German for an upcoming trip my husband and I are planning. It’s so nice to have that “me” time!
  • Excuse: I can’t eat healthy at work because I don’t have time to make lunch each morning.
    • Resolution: I can make lunch each evening, instead, while dinner is being made. Once I started my challenge I also helped myself out by buying a lot of pre-portioned items or pre-portioning them at the beginning of the week. Now, even if I forget to make lunch in advance, it’s normally just a matter of grabbing everything out of the fridge to put in my lunch bag.
  • Excuse: It takes too much time to use the stairs frequently at work. Several people at work had suggested this as a way to get some extra activity in. I loved the idea but felt too busy at work to make it happen.
    • Resolution: Instead of trying to fit this in in the middle of my workday, I stopped using the elevator entirely whenever reasonable. This meant that I would automatically use the stairs coming in to work and coming back from lunch. I also made myself park on the highest level of my parking garage to allow myself a third opportunity to take the stairs.
  • Excuse: I don’t have time to take a full lunch to go walking.
    • Resolution: I schedule myself meetings and appointments all day long. If I schedule this time on my work calendar I’ll have a constant reminder to walk daily at lunch.
  • Excuse: When I forget my lunch, I don’t have time at work to make healthy choices.
    • Resolution: I made a list of the healthy options I have available to me at work and in the surrounding areas. That way, when I really need food I don’t have to decide between the healthy and unhealthy options. Instead, I go to my healthy list first and decide from there.
  • Excuse: When I get home I want to relax, not workout.
    • Resolution: Relaxing is always nice but working out and getting healthy makes me feel good, too. If I need to do a workout when I get home, I get into my workout clothes right away. That way I’m mentally prepared to work out after dinner instead of relax.
  • Excuse: I need specific weights to work out at home. I lost some weights during our move and kept telling myself I couldn’t work out because I didn’t have the right equipment.
    • Resolution: This one was easy – I just had to stop and grab them right away. And I did, the next time I was in the store.
  • Excuse: When I get home I don’t want to spend time cooking.
    • Resolution: Come up with a list of healthy quick-cook options. I’m still working on this to become a regular thing. In the meantime, I’ve made a point of watching my portions if I have something that is less than healthy.

I’m sure some of these excuses sound familiar to others out there. Did one or a couple, in particular, resonate with you? What resolutions can you come up with to overcome the excuses that are holding you back from your weight loss goals? It’s all just a matter of figuring out what works best for you. You can do it!