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Monday, November 30, 2009


Are you feeling like that, too?

Last week was a blur...
  • 3-day work week (YAY!)
  • two Thanksgiving meals on Thursday
  • early PT session on Friday (no shopping for me)
  • picked up our Christmas tree on Saturday
  • a non-Thanksgiving dinner Saturday night
  • and another Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday
I really can't believe the end of November is here already! Am I getting older or is time really speeding up? Anyway, a week of not blogging makes a girl antsy... so many updates and catching up to do! Let's start with a quick 'bank account' update:

November '09 Goals: Daily 'Bank' Account
Nov. wk 1: +17 (balance: +17)
Nov. wk 2: +20 (balance: +37)
Nov. wk 3: +22 (balance: +59)
Nov. wk 4: +16 (balance: +75)
Nov. 30: +5 pt. (balance: +80)

End of November pt. totals and rewards:
  • 130 pts - new blender
  • 125 pts - new green supplement
  • 120 pts - new shoes (heels!)
  • 110 pts - new sports bras
  • 100 pts - haircut
  • less than 100 - diddly squat
So as you can see, I didn't even hit 100 points total! Kinda sad but in the end, this 'bank account' system did exactly what it was suppose to do... keep me accountable! So I'm proud of that. And if you remember my post from the other weekend, I already got a blender and a new green supplement. I'm sure Santa will bring me the other items on my list!

And now a quick update for the ABC's of food:

I did some cooking this weekend but nothing for the next few letters... D... E... or F. I'll be working on those meals this week so I may not be able to update the ABC's until this weekend.

Update on Weigh-in Wednesdays:
Several people have emailed/commented me about my weight. If you've noticed, the last time I posted a 'Weigh-in Wednesday' was over three weeks ago! And there's a good reason... I've been so off track recently, I've no doubt gained a few pounds and this weekend of eating definitely didn't help. BUT, I know fluctuations are part of the journey so weekly weigh-ins will start again this Wednesday... extra Thanksgiving weight included!

I'll be back later tonight to announce something I'm supper excited about!!! All I can say is BRING IT!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone has a great Turkey Day!
Gobble, gobble, but not till you wobble!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Motivational Mondays: Coach Dayne

FYI: I'll be MIA for the next several days due to a busy holiday schedule. See you next week and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

The other day I was contacted via a comment left on my blog. It was from 'Coach' Dayne over at Coach Your Mind... and I'm so glad he got in touch with me. I took a look at his site and highly, HIGHLY recommend it to anyone and everyone. Whether you're trying to lose weight, start a business, or even if you want to join the circus (hey, joining the circus can be someone's dream) - if you have goals, you need to read this blog. Coach Dayne - he's called 'coach' because he's a life coach - talks about how to "overcome barriers that hold us back from performing to our maximum potential".

Don't worry, he's not trying to sell anything, but his posts can relate to any part of our lives - health related or not! Here's part of his most recent post, which made me almost tear up because it hit so close to home:
"I learned to walk towards the good, rather than away from the bad."
-Andre Agassi
(Talking about his escape from Crystal Meth.)

Very often, we attempt to quit something by focusing on "stopping" what we're doing, instead of concentrating on the future replacement. It's instinct to think we must "try to lose weight," or "stop smoking," rather than saying "I want to become healthier..." When we focus our minds on what we don't want, we make ourselves think more about what we don't want... perpetuating the negative cycle. What do we want?

Agassi has recently admitted to being incredibly unhappy throughout most of his life, resulting in drug use and divorce. When asked how he overcame this Meth. habit, he said it was all about focusing on what he wanted, rather than the things that were making him unhappy. He eventually learned to "walk towards something," rather than fighting the negatives that were making him miserable.
How true is that, right?

I've been in a pretty bad slump for the last month and the only things I thought about were why I wasn't hitting the gym or why I wasn't eating right or why I wasn't losing weight. Instead, I should have shifted my focus on my ultimate goal: getting healthier! Nevermind all the things I did or didn't do. By "walking towards" my health goal I could have used all the mistakes I've made and turned them into opportunities. But instead I constantly focused on the negative and it just kept dragging me down.

Since reading this post by Coach Dayne, nutrition and exercise have been ON POINT! Sure it's only been three days back on track, but that's three days more than I've done over the last month!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Got me an early Christmas present!

How's your weekend going?

I'm doing a quick drive-by post because I'm so excited... look what I bought today:

I know some of my previous posts, like avocado ice cream, used a food processor but what you couldn't tell from the pictures is that my current food processor only holds one cup! ONE CUP! It was tiny! So I got this at Costco today. I was kinda debating the whole blender-food-processor-in-one machine but when it comes down to it, I don't have much space to have too many kitchen appliances... so I got a combo. Haven't used it yet but will tomorrow morning when I make my morning smoothie. I also got all my regulars at Costco too:

Yup, that's pre-cut butternut squash! Just drizzle with a little olive oil and throw into the oven to roast. Yummy!

I also stopped by Whole Foods today to finally pick up chia seeds and some green supplements I've been dying to try:
Now, I know I'm a hard-core Shakeology fan - still drink one every morning! - but I wanted to see what else is out there and I've heard some really good things about Amazing Grass products. I picked up a few sample packets and will make my first one tomorrow morning. Can't wait!

On a side note:
I am officially back on track!

Yesterday, nutrition was spot on and I actually stayed after my hour-long PT session to get in a little more cardio. Today, nutrition is still spot on and I got my butt moving on my elliptical!!!!! Something I haven't done in over a month... move on my own that is. For the last month or so, the only exercise I've been getting have been my twice-a-week PT sessions. SERIOUSLY, that's it! So I'm damn proud of myself for moving on my own two days in a row! YAY me!

Friday, November 20, 2009

'C' is for Cabbage

... as in stuffed cabbage!

I've had stuffed cabbage once in my life and actually really liked it! So when I found a recipe for it, I tweaked it a little and made it healthier. This recipe is pretty simple, but requires a lot more time in preparation and cooking than most of my other 'easy' recipes. Save this one for the weekend.

So why cabbage? Besides the fact that I've never cooked with it before, the cabbage family such, as head cabbage, kale, and collard greens, contain phytonutrients known as glucosinolates that help increase the production of detoxifying enzymes in your body. More information can be found here, here, and here.

Ingredients for filling:
(makes 6 servings; 1 serving = 2 stuffed cabbages)
  • 1c cooked brown rice
  • 10 cabbage leaves
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 ripe Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • garlic to taste
  • 1tsp. dried oregano
  • 1tsp. cinnamon
  • a dash of cayenne pepper
  • 0.5c bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 toothpicks, presoaked in water
Ingredients for sauce:
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 6oz. unsalted tomato paste
  • 10 white mushrooms, diced
  • 0.5c water
  • 0.25c apple cider vinegar
  • garlic to taste
  • 1tsp. oregano
  • 1tsp. cinnamon
  • a dash of cayenne pepper
  • 0.5tbsp. dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
1.) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Turn off heat and blanch each cabbage leaf for a few seconds, until leaf is pliable and won't tear when folded.

2.) Set a large pan over medium heat and cook turkey until no longer pink. About 5 minutes. Add all except about two tbs. of the chopped onions and cook till onions are clean. Set aside the two tbs. of onions for the sauce.

3.) Add diced tomatoes, cinnamon, oregano, and cayenne and cook till fragrant. About another 3 more minutes.

4.) In a separate bowl, mixed together the bread crumbs and cooled brown rice. When thoroughly mixed, add the rice mixture to the turkey mixture. Take off heat and mix well.

5.) To stuff cabbage, place about 0.25c worth of filling in the middle of a cabbage leaf. Roll like a burrito, starting with the two side edges, then the bottom edge. Continue to fold away from you until cabbage leaf is completely sealed. Secure with wet toothpick. When all cabbage leaves are filled, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

7.) To make sauce: Using same pan as filling, set over medium heat. Mist with olive oil cooking spray and add reserved two tbs. of onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.

8.) Add in tomato paste, water, apple cider vinegar, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne and thyme. Cook until fragrant, about 2 more minutes.

9.) Remove from heat and put about two spoonfuls of sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish (or cake pan if you have no dish, like me). Lay stuffed cabbages in dish and pour remaining sauce over cabbage.
10.) Cover dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. ENJOY!

Okay... this recipe has major potential to be good and the only thing I would change: the sauce. The apple cider vinegar was WAY too strong and both Anthony and I didn't like it. The only time I had stuffed cabbage it was more of a marinara sauce so that's kinda what I was expecting. I think toning down on the vinegar and adding in more tomato flavor will totally make this recipe good.

Other than that, adding in a couple of egg whites to the filling mixture for more 'binding' power would totally make this recipe work better. Actually, eggs where called for in the recipe - there in my ingredient picture! - but I totally forgot to use them.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ABC's of Food disclaimer

Okay thought I needed to put this out there for the ABC's of Food. Many of the recipes I will feature are brand new recipes to me... first time I'll be trying them out. So they may be hit or miss. I'll try to put in a short review for each food also, but just wanted to let you know in case you try some of the recipes and you're like, "WTH?".

And I'm trying to use ingredients that are readily available at most grocery stores, yet hardly get used... like fish sauce and rhubarb.

So look for my mini-reviews (and odd ingredients!) in each recipe for tips that will hopefully make it taste better if/when you try to make it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

'B' is for Barley

... as in barley chicken stew!

I absolutely L-O-V-E barley so using it as my "B" ingredient was a no-brainer! Whole grain barley (hulled barley, not pearl - and yes I know I used pearl) is packed with fiber, protein, and a whole slew of nutrition. Read about barley here, here, and here. This recipe uses a slow cooker.

  • 32oz low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8oz water
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • 0.5 tbsp thyme
  • 0.5 tbsp basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.5 lbs uncooked chicken breast, cubed
  • 0.5c uncooked black-eyed peas, rinsed
  • 0.5c uncooked barley, rinsed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 large russet potatoes, cubed
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • 8 tbsp plain greek yogurt (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
1.) Combine chicken broth, water, garlic, herbs, and pepper in slow cooker. Add chicken, black-eyed peas, and barley.

2.) Then layer onions, potatoes, and carrots on top. Veggies should be covered with liquid in slow cooker, but if not, add more broth. Do not stir!

3.) Allow to simmer overnight (or any time you're home) for about 4 - 6 hours. Remove bay leaves and stir stew so ingredients are well mixed.
Optional: Add a tbsp of greek yogurt to each bowl before serving. ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I want to give up but...

I have worked too hard to let this go.
I have run too many miles to come to a halt.
I have curled too much weight to give up.
I have hiked too many mountains to throw it away.

I have too much pride to discontinue my journey.
I have too much strength to slow down.
I have too many dreams to quite like this.
I have too much self-belief to stop now.

I can't stop. I won't stop.


November '09 Goals: Daily 'Bank' Account
Nov. wk 1: +17 (balance: +17)
Nov. wk 2: +20 (balance: +37)
Nov. 15: +1 pt. (balance: +38)
Nov. 16: +1 pt. (balance: +39)
Nov. 17: +5 pts (balance: +44)
Nov. 18:
Nov. 19:
Nov. 20:
Nov. 21:

End of November pt. totals and rewards:
  • 130 pts - new blender
  • 125 pts - new green supplement
  • 120 pts - new shoes (heels!)
  • 110 pts - new sports bras
  • 100 pts - haircut
  • less than 100 - diddly squat

Gaggy Award!

Remember back in September I mentioned an awesome group challenge I joined? The challenge was called the GAG Challenge - Give A Gift to yourself. This group has been an absolute inspiration and I've met so many wonderful people... so many wonderful people that are on the same 'get healthy' journey as me. Well, my fellow GAGers have award me with a Gaggy Award and I couldn't be happier:
Our first recipient, Annie, has been described by her fellow challengers as a WARRIOR. Working hard, staying focused, and always Encouraging of Others, she was also nominated over and over for her amazing RECIPES. To quote one of her fellow GAGers: “I always have boring food, but she’s so ORIGINAL and CREATIVE.” I agree. Congratulations Annie!
Thanks you guys! It really means a lot!

Actually there are a lot of Gaggies being handed out so check out the GAG blog if you're interested in seeing the other awesome, inspirational, and motivational members!!
Congratulations to all the Gaggy winners!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Motivational Mondays: My dog, Poki

Yup... you read that right. My doggie, Poki, is one of my motivations. She reminds me that we need to get out of the apartment and get moving! I love taking her for walks and hikes... just wish I could get her to come running with me. When we run together, she thinks we're playing so she goes CRAZY!! Pulling and biting the leash, running around me in circles, and she completely wears herself out on the first block! After that I pretty much have to drag her back home cause she's so tired. It's kinda cute, though.

Anyway, Poki isn't fat or overweight, but in the last year she's gained 4 lbs. And 4 lbs. on a dog that weighs 20 lbs. is A LOT! That's like me gaining 27 lbs. in a year!! And secondly, she's a one-bedroom-apartment-indoor dog, so unless Anthony or I take her out for walks, she doesn't get much exercise sleeping on the couch all day.

This is what she does if we're bothering her and she wants to sleep.
SERIOUSLY! What a brat!

Anyway, with the trend of obesity in our country it's only a smart idea to get in more exercise. And did I mention that's dog obesity? Just like us humans, dog obesity is the highest it's ever been! Poki has regular bi-weekly playdates with her best friend, a golden retriever named Bella, but I think I need to commit to a consistent walking schedule for Poki's health... and mine!

Poki and Bella begging for food.

So when I came across this article in my inbox this morning, I thought I should share:

Exercise and Lose Weight With Your Dog
While human obesity is at an all-time high, so too is dog obesity, with 25 to 40 percent of American dogs — an estimated 17 million — overweight. Exercising with your dog can be a great motivator for both of you to get — and stay — fit, happy, and healthy.

"It's as difficult a battle for dogs as it can be for us,'' Chicago veterinarian Dr. Tony Kremer said, adding that being heavy is not only unhealthy, but can also slow a dog and a person down. Following are a few suggestions for winning the battle.

Kibble in Bits

Just as it is for you, so it goes for your dog: The first step to losing weight involves a balanced and healthy diet. "It's amazing how many people think their dog isn't eating enough, and yet so many dogs are overweight,'' Kremer said.

The problem starts, he said, when pet owners — fueled by either a sense of duty or guilt in leaving pets home alone — want to do something nice for them. So they give them a tasty (translation: high-fat and high-salt) treat.

Sound familiar?

Instead, Kremer recommends finding another way to respond to a dog's perceived need for attention. "Usually, it just wants positive reinforcement,'' he said. "And you can do that in moderation — for your pet and yourself.''

For the dog, in particular, he recommends putting its normal kibble in a plastic container and rattling it, then giving it one piece, followed by praise.

A Daily Walk for Good Measure

If diet is the first half of the equation, it follows that exercise is the second. Nobody knows that more than Sandy. At 70 years old, she walks her two-year-old pug, Elvis, every morning for at least 30 minutes. After all, given her age and Elvis' breed, which is prone to obesity, it's good for both of them.

"There's an old saying,'' said Andrea Metcalf, a fitness expert in Chicago, "if your dog is getting fat, you're not getting enough exercise. Unfortunately, a lot of people think they don't have the time to get it in — for themselves or their animals.''

And yet, Metcalf said that a 10-minute walk in the morning and evening, combined with an appropriate diet, can be meaningful. As you and your pet get stronger, she recommends going for longer walks on the weekend, hiking, biking, and even running.

"Getting in shape is a win-win for everyone,'' she said. And not just in terms of losing weight, but making a commitment to do exercise together. "Pets can play a huge role in helping us stay with it.''

Motivate Each Other

Finally, dogs are great motivators, especially when you consider that they need to go outside to use the facilities, and are creatures of routine.

"If you play, walk, or exercise at a certain time each day, chances are your dog will be standing in front of you holding the leash when that time comes,'' said Kremer, "and you'd better be ready.'' In that sense, he and others agree: Your dog is the most reliable workout buddy you could ever ask for.

I realize it's horrible weather in most places right now, but if you have sunny, not so wet weather, get out there and bring your dog with you!

'A' is for Avocado


... as in avocado ice cream!

(NOTE: I used an ice cream maker to make this recipe, however you don't need one. I will include both ice cream maker procedures as well as non-ice cream maker procedures. If using an ice cream maker, be sure to chill the cooler for at least a day before making this recipe.)

So why avocado? Well besides being a great source of healthy fats, there are so many studies out there that prove the health benefits of including avocado in your diet. You can read about avocado and it's health benefits here, here, and here.

Makes about 10, half cup servings. Nutrition facts (at the end) are for a half-cup serving.
  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1c Greek yogurt
  • 0.5c skim milk/soy milk
  • 0.5c agave nectar
  • 0.5c lime juice
  • pinch of sea salt
According to Wikipedia, a study was conducted on the effects of avocado on cholesterol. Specifically, after a seven day diet rich in avocados, "the subjects showed a 22% decrease in both LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and 11% increase in HDL (good cholesterol) levels." SEVEN DAYS!
1.) If using fresh limes for juice, squeeze limes until you get half of cup of juice. It took 4 limes for me to get half a cup. Set aside.

2.) Cut avocados in half, remove pits, and scoop flesh out of skin. Cut into 1" cubes.
3.) Combine all ingredients into food processor or blender and blend till smooth.

4.) Pour mixture into a well chilled ice cream maker machine and follow your ice cream machine's directions from this point on. ENJOY!
If you're not using an ice cream machine, follow the next set of instructions (sorry no pictures for these procedures).

5.) After blending all ingredients well, poor mixture into a freezer-safe container and freeze for about 30 minutes or until mixture starts to freeze around the edges.

6.) Scrape down edges and mix avocado mixture well until all ice crystals are well combined. About 2 - 3 minutes. Place back in the freezer for another 30 minutes and repeat procedure two or three more times, until avocado mixture becomes hard to mix.

7.) At this point, leave mixture in the freezer for a couple of hours to really set and turn into ice cream. ENJOY!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Changing it up and adding more FOOD!

How can I expect to lose weight when I haven't been doing anything new? I mean in the last month or so, I've lost motivation to get up and exercise except for my twice-weekly personal trainer sessions... which I actually look forward to every Tuesday and Friday. But I've had the hardest time getting myself moving on my own. My days off from the gym have been complete OFF days where I don't do any form of exercise on my own, not even walking!

It's so funny how I started out on this journey completely psyched. Everyday I would literally count down the minutes till I got home, turn on my dvd player, and get ready to BRING IT (speaking in Tony Horton terms) with my workouts:

I can't wait! I can't wait!!!

So, as of right now, it's 3 hours 44 minutes and 18 seconds, until I get to push play and bring it! I can't believe how excited I am to start P90X.

That was a quote from my blog from early this year. Crazy right?!

Where did my spark go? Although exercise is a huge part of losing weight, diet accounts for almost 80% of it!

Nutrition-wise it hasn't been good either. I've been choosing Cinnabons over veggies, ice cream over lean proteins, and chocolate covered wafers over raw almonds.

I KNOW what I'm suppose to do.
I KNOW what I'm suppose to eat.

I preach about it to anyone who'll listen yet I can't seem to listen to myself. I keep telling myself I'll start tomorrow... but we all know that doesn't happen. It's one thing to miss my workouts, but a whole 'nother thing to miss my nutrition as well. Over the last year or so, I've learned so much about proper nutrition, I feel like I could be a dietitian.

So to get me back on track, I'll be including a ton of recipes on my blog (aiming for 3 - 4 recipes/week) and to make it fun, I'm doing recipes that use ingredients from every letter of the alphabet. Not all in one recipe, but one ingredient per recipe. Yup, you got that right... 26 recipes coming your way! We shall call it "Annie's ABC's of Food"! Of course the recipes will be figure-friendly and nutritious, but most of all EASY!

So check back during the weekend for the first installment... the letter 'A' - it's so after-school special-y!
(I'll be taking any suggestions for ingredients, too, so comment away!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Goal update: 1 week down, 3 to go

First week of November is gone already... it's so fast!

So here's an update to my November goals and I've also added my rewards for staying accountable through this challenge. The first week was tough - not because it was hard to do - but because I was so unmotivated! I only averaged about 2.5 pts. a day! In order to hit anything on my reward list, I need to at least average 3.5 pts a day... I know I can do this! I HAVE to do this!

Yesterday I started this week out AWESOME: got in over 2 hours of exercise, burned over 2500 cals according to my Bodybugg, ate less than 1600 cals, drank well over 64 oz of water, and had about 135g protein. Hope to keep it up but gonna take it one day at a time.

November '09 Goals:
Daily 'Bank' Account
Nov. wk 1: +17 (balance: +17)
Nov. 08: +5 pts (balance: +22)
Nov. 09:
Nov. 10:
Nov. 11:
Nov. 12:
Nov. 13:
Nov. 14:

End of November pt. totals and rewards:
  • 130 pts - new blender
  • 125 pts - new green supplement
  • 120 pts - new shoes (heels!)
  • 110 pts - new sports bras
  • 100 pts - haircut
  • less than 100 - diddly squat