Friday, April 26, 2013

eat with or without the guilt?

a long time ago I wouldn't answered this question very differently 
What about you?  
Do you often feel guilty after you eat?  
Or do you put time, energy and thought into your foods that fuel and nourish your body?   

My former self would have said, with guilt.  I leaned on food because it was always there.   
I believe that I had an addiction to that sense of fulfillment through food...a very false sense.  That feeling of guilt that followed each unhealthy meal, instead of pushing me to make healthier choices, caused me to become compulsive with my foods.  I wanted more, and more...and more.  

Today I would say much differently.  
I am a MUCH different person, but I still use my former self to help me reflect and appreciate the journey...to appreciate this race with no finish line!  
I don't feel guilty because it's GOOD foods that I put into my body.  
I fuel my body and although sometimes those cravings come creeping back in, I strive to fight it most of the time.  
I lacked balance for so long.  I'd take all of my eating to the extreme.  While some can tolerate a slice of bread, I wanted half the loaf :(

I don't mind sharing my struggles because in a way, I hope it helps you see that we're all alike.  
All trying to do our best, be healthy and sometimes that means showing our not-so-perfect side...
The choice is ours to make.  
Each day we have a choice.  
We can chose to be healthy or we can choose instant gratification.  
If you are dealing with some of my past struggles, break the cycle.  
Set yourself free from that feeling.  It can be SO much better.  


As for me, I have found a love for healthy, clean eating and creating recipes that I am able to share with all of you!  I feel so happy when I hear of a family member or friend using my recipes with their family.  :)  
**I will be updating my "recipe" section frequently so that you are able to access all of these meals quickly!  I have tried to make it user-friendly so please tell me what I can do to make it even easier!  


Today's eats all rolled into one...
TOP LEFT: plain Chobani Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, blackberries and a 1/4 c Special K protein cereal for a little crunch!
TOP RIGHT: mixed greens, green beans, peas, chick peas, sprinkle of sunflower seeds and Craisins- I used extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar for dressing.
BOTTOM LEFT: Apple sliced with plain Chobani Greek yogurt mixed with cinnamon-lots of cinnamon and a 1/2 scoop vanilla Designer Whey protein powder!  OH MY YUMMY!!!  
BOTTOM RIGHT: PIZZA!  low carb/high fiber tortilla topped with tomato, flaxseed meal, veggies-green beans, carrots, zucchini, edamame, broccoli and cauliflower, low fat cheese.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes until the tortilla gets nice and crispy.  I even sliced it into small slices and it was SO good!  Seriously, one of the best meals I created and it only took about 5 minutes to prepare!
*Not pictured-I also had a post-workout Evolve by Muscle Milk vanilla protein drink.  They are so yummy and felt like I needed it after my interval workout and then working upper and lower body!


Broccoli Bites!
These were inspired by a Pinterest pin that I "pinned" a while back.  
I decided to change them up just a bit for added nutrition!
 You'll Need:
4 cups broccoli-steamed and chopped.  I used fresh.
3 eggs
1/2 c low fat cheddar cheese
4 tbs flaxseed meal
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs with a little whole wheat breadcrumbs mixed in.  I filled measuring cup about 3/4 full and then topped with the whole wheat breadcrumbs.  

 Combine above ingredients until mixed well and can form into patties.  I formed smaller patties and lightly formed them, keeping them nice and moist.  Spread onto baking sheet and Bake at 400 for 25 minutes, flipping half way.  
I actually allowed them to bake about 5-10 extra minutes for extra crispiness.

This is how they'll look once cooked!  
 I served these with grilled chicken and green beans.  So good!  My boys ate them up and my oldest son dipped them in ketchup!  GROSS!

I prepare these meals ahead of time so I stay focused, but this one was too good not to share.  I took our already prepared grilled chicken, sliced into strips, steamed 1/2 cup brown rice and warmed a little of the green beans left from the night before.  There's a perfectly portioned lunch that's colorful and tastes great.  It was like eating a microwavable dinner without the added sodium and other hard-to-pronounce ingredients :)  It can be this easy folks!
The best part is that all of these meals can be prepared in ADVANCE.  They will save time, energy, money, and the frustrations of healthy eating.  If you are prepared, you will not fail at this. 

The important part is to TRY.  To MOVE.  To put yourself and your health as a priority.
You will never know your own strength until you do.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Have you found it?

Balance?

I talk about if often because I truly believe that we must find balance between all aspects of our lives, especially when it comes to healthy eating and exercise!

You can't go into it expecting the change, that balance to be easy at first. Like all other things, it will take sacrifice and working at it. It may be different for each of us. We juggle work, school, children, your spouse, gym or home workouts or runs...BUT the good news is that BALANCE is possible.

I'd like to think we have found it in our home but it will always take adjusting and it will change as our children grow and our lives take different turns...but ya roll with the punches and if it means enough to you, YOU FIND A WAY TO MAKE IT WORK!

I am disturbed to find out that our area in Texas doesn't meet criteria, at this moment to get a large, health food store such as Trader Joes, Sprouts or Whole Foods but we have thousands of junk food restaurants that are always packed and that yesterday I saw a commercial for a local restaurant that is beginning to offer, for $1.49, a Pop Tart ice cream sandwich!!! And YES people, that means obviously they know it'll sell around here! And it does mean 2 pop tarts stacked on a mound of ice cream! WHAT??? WHY???

The good news?

I made healthy and clean fish tacos last night and they were AMAZING! The kids loved them too!
I used my prepped tilapia(recipe in previous post), broccoli slaw and a low carb/whole wheat tortilla that I toasted in the convection for extra crispness! I also made "tartar sauce" using plain Greek yogurt, squeeze of lemon juice and a tsp of sweet relish! It was perfect! Great flavor from the lemon pepper on the fish too! I served with peas(I was low on veggies!) and fruit medley-strawberries, bananas and clementines!

And need a quick, on the go snack that keeps you full, longer?
Look no more!
Low sodium rice cake topped w serving of natural PB, 2tbs flaxseed and Craisins! Watch out though, this is a good one!!

And I'll leave ya with my post-workout pose! Lol! I like to compare my photos every few weeks to make sure I'm seeing change, and I am! That way I don't focus on the scale-which makes my life miserable! When I compare weekly photos, I see the inches lost and definition in certain parts of my body! Holds me accountable too...whatever works, right?!

Happy hump day! STAY FOCUSED AND INSPIRED! Know that you will only get out of it, what you put into it! So work hard, eat healthy, add lots of fresh fruits and veggies and consume less processed, packaged foods! Your body will thank you for it :-)







Monday, April 22, 2013

"Run Now" coalition and more recipes!

A week after the tragedy in Boston, I hope you will join me as we come together to be inspired...


In the wake of the tragedy on Patriots Day 2013, Run Now assembles running industry partners and competitors alike to call on runners at every level to recommit to the spirit of running and to be inspired to donate, participate and share experiences. The Run Now initial launch partners include Competitor Group, U.S. Road Sports & Entertainment Group, Brooks Running Company, MapMyFitness, Transamerica Life Insurance Company, Running Specialty Group and the Independent Running Retailers Association (IRRA).

The Run Now coalition has launched RunNow.com.  The website will become the hub of information on volunteering, participating and sharing all of the activities that demonstrate the solidarity of the running community.

Other components of the movement include:

·         Pledging free race entries to 4,500 Boston Marathon participants diverted prior to the finish.
·         Raising $1 million for The One Fund Boston by National Running Day on June 5, 2013.
·         Offering more than 100,000 ‘Run Now - Boston 04.15.2013’ tribute wristbands to runners at upcoming marathons and at specialty running retailers across the country. The bracelets will be sold for $2, with 100% of the proceeds donated to The One Fund Boston for those affected by the tragedy.


Comments from Industry Leadership

“As runners ourselves, we share in a community that is resilient, passionate, strong, united and energized, even at a time of such unimaginable tragedy. The overwhelming outcry at the tragedy among runners inspired the industry to form this coalition.,” said Scott Dickey, CEO of CGI. “This week, terrorists attacked runners and in doing so attacked our running community.  Run Now shows that our community and the running spirit is stronger than any terrorists’ evil intentions.  We are determined to maintain the enduring and celebratory achievement of participating in running events.  If there was ever a time to run, Run Now.

“We can’t make sense of this senseless event and are heartbroken by the impact on so many victims and their families,” said Jim Weber, CEO of Brooks Running Company. “At the same time, we are moved by the inspiring stories and acts of kindness by runners and community members in Boston and beyond.  We view this collective effort as the most appropriate way to memorialize those lost and inspire everyone to focus on the good we can accomplish together.”   

“The running community is a family, and families look out for each other.  It is with great pride that US Road Sports & Entertainment Group and our family takes on this challenge.  The financial commitment is really just a fraction of the commitment that the world wide family of runners demonstrates on a daily basis. We are thrilled to have the Salt Lake City Marathon as the kick-off to this wonderful endeavor,” said Peter Handy, Founder and Managing Partner of US Road Sports & Entertainment Group.

“The IRRA is proud to endorse Run Now,” Parker Karnan, Executive Director of the IRRA. “Our independent running retailers across the country run towards challenges not away from them. Run Now embodies our resolve and illustrates that running is an expression of our freedom.”

About Run Now

The Run Now movement and RunNow.com highlight the resiliency of the running community in the wake of the tragic Boston attack.  The movement pauses to reflect on those impacted by the tragic events in Boston on April 15, raise money for The One Fund Boston and promote the sport of running and running events.  Launch partners include Competitor Group, U.S. Road Sports & Entertainment Group, Brooks Sports, MapMyFitness, Transamerica Life Insurance Company, Running Specialty Group and the Independent Running Retailers Association. For more information on donating to a charity or participating in a race, please visit RunNow.com.  



I hope you will consider donating and wearing your Boston bracelet proud!  I have been in awe of the way we, runners have come together at a time like this.  We are more proud and more determined than ever!  

Honestly, I have had some very emotional runs this week, I guess after all that's happened.  I seem to be more focused and have tried to tune out my surroundings and just RUN.  Aren't those the best workouts?  No distance in mind, not sure of the route you'll take, just JUST RUN.  What a powerful feeling it can be!  When you can clear your mind and really RELEASE that frustration, the stress of the day, in your workout!  
Seems to be what we all strive for so here's hoping this week is full of amazing workouts for YOU too!  Go out and get it!

Would you like more recipes?  I know I've been creating some new and exciting meals in the kitchen.  Seems to be what really keeps me focused and dedicated.  It's funny how the foods that we choose to eat or avoid can make such a difference in our moods, our behaviors, our workouts.  

Do you notice that difference when you have a heavy, fatty meal vs. a clean, healthy one?  
I remember one of my college professors talking about a food hangover as a huge indicator that your foods are all wrong.  
Well, a long time ago I think a food hangover was something that happened in my life, seven days a week.  

Sad isn't it?  
How we know the fatty, unhealthy foods will make us feel heavy, tired, achy, and awful 
but we choose to eat them anyway. 
But then when we eat a healthy meal and feel wonderful, it's such a positive difference in the way we feel, the way we act...we become the best version of ourselves!  Wow!  So why do you think we revert back to those unhealthy, artery clogging foods?  Because it's the "norm"?  
Hmm, something to think about this week...

Eggplant Parmesan
You'll Need:
1-2 eggplants, sliced 
extra virgin olive oil
diced, no salt/no sugar added tomatoes-drained
LF mozzarella cheese

Saute the eggplant in a skillet, drizzled in a small amount of olive oil, then seal with lid.  I simmered mine for about 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.  I wanted the eggplant to be somewhat cooked, but not mushy!  Just watch it.  After they were almost finished cooking, add the tomatoes and cheese, replace lid and simmer for another 5-10 minutes until bubbly!  
This is DELICIOUS, super easy and a family favorite!  It makes you feel like you're eating something fattening when really it's not that bad at all and it changes up your normal weekly veggies!  
Mmm, I love eggplant-reminds me of my grandmother :)  She'd be proud!

Italian Baked Chicken
 Drizzle chicken with extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkle a little whole wheat breadcrumbs-mixed with Panko.  I use enough to barely coat the chicken for added crunch.  I also mix flaxseed meal in the breadcrumbs.  Set oven to 400 and bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through.  I like mine to get a little crispy on the outside, so I usually let it go about 5 minutes longer :)  
This chicken, when prepared correctly can be so tender and juicy!   My boys ask for this once a week, at least!  SO easy!  I served this chicken with the eggplant and a little toasted roll for the boys!  

Easy, no-fuss Tilapia
 I sprinkle my Tilapia fillets( I prepare my salmon fillets the same way!) with lemon pepper seasoning and a few squirts of spray butter.  Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes, until flakes with fork.

I will warm these in my toaster oven tonight and serve as fish tacos.  I bake the carb balance tortillas so they get a little crispy, top with the fish-chopped up, broccoli slaw and plain Greek yogurt mixed with a little tsp of sweet relish!  SO DELISH!!!


And I've shared these apple slices on my site before but they're SO good 
I wanna make sure I persuade you to try them now!!!
Sliced apples, 2 tbs natural pb or pb2 and then lots of cinnamon!  
You can also use Nutella as a variety and make it even more like dessert!!  And another variation-try popping it in the microwave for about 30 seconds until the pb melts a little...
Mmmm, apple heaven!!  
I'm thinking a little sprinkle of granola would make this MELT.IN.YOUR.MOUTH. GOOD!!!!

have a great week, stay focused and write down your goals!  
Share your goals with family and friends to hold yourself accountable!  
Stick to it and make this your time to SHINE!!!  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

recipes, workouts and MORE!

So many things to share...
MOST IMPORTANTLY, thank you!
I cannot tell you how much it means when I hear from my readers about how much they enjoy and are motivated by my words and actions!  It brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart to know that my story and my way of life can somehow impact others.  Amazing!  There are no words...thank you.

If you want CHANGE, go for it!  But you won't find permanent change without the work.  Nothing comes easy.  It's the work that makes the reward so much better. 

*something to think about if you find yourself wanting to change but unsure of where to begin:
 I often hear, "I need to lose weight, but...", "I want to get in shape, but..."  or "I can't..." Basically you've set yourself up for failure before the journey even begins :( how unfortunate, right?  But that can change...

Try removing the excuse- that "but"or "can't" from that statement.  
Ask yourself what is holding you back from achieving that goal?  
Is it work, time, family, friends, being a mother, a wife?  
Or maybe it's fear?  
Or the thought of failing at something that you set out to reach?  
It's important to remember that we all deserve happiness and our best life.  We should put ourselves and our health as a priority.  Your body feels better when you nourish it with healthy foods and when you exercise, and that feeling reflects in your moods, your attitude, your quality of life...and the lives of others.  I promise. I know from experience.  I would set myself up for the defeat before I even TRIED.  MOVING is half the battle, the foods are another.  They must both be just right in order for that success to arrive!  There is no magic way...no pill, no smoothie or soup.  It takes WORK and DEDICATION and the ability to stop saying I CAN'T!
Will you try with me?  Make this week different from the others...

How about some recipes to make that journey a little easier?
  
Greek Chicken Salad
 You'll Need:
2 cups chicken breast, diced or shredded- you can use a rotisserie to save time!
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup chopped purple grapes or you can use Craisins
1/4 cup plain, Greek yogurt-I used Chobani
1 tbsp mayo ( I used the one with evoo)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Mix and enjoy!  This was creamy and delicious!  
My boys loved it on a wrap and my husband and I ate ours on a bed of mixed greens with a clementine :)
*You can probably leave out the mayo entirely, but the little tbs isn't going to hurt anybody! 
Remember moderation is key!!



Today's Workout:  Brad Gouthro Fitness, Live Lean Meltdown series...55 minutes of killer workouts!  He's a fellow FitFluential Ambassador with some great workout plans and YouTube videos!  You should definitely check them out :) and I finally bought some new workout clothes in a SMALLER size!!!  Woohoo!  

Greek yogurt apple dip
 You'll Need:
small container Chobani, plain Greek
cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
(you can use vanilla protein powder here as well, but I chose to leave it out since I was serving it to my kids)
Mix and enjoy!
I served with apple slices and the boys ate it all up!  Said my "dessert dip" was so yummy and that had to make a Momma feel good, right?  RIGHT!  I love cooking healthy meals for the boys and having them tell me how delicious they are!  Major cool points for Mom!  I am also thinking this dip would be delicious with bananas, graham crackers...endless dipping possibilities!


Yesterday's Workout:  I RAN FOR BOSTON.  As I said yesterday, I am no fast runner and will never qualify for such an amazing event with so many athletes across the world BUT my heart breaks for all those affected.  All those runners that spent countless hours pushing themselves further, faster, longer and to cross that finish line...only to have it cut short. I ran hard and did 3 miles, holding the hands of two people that inspire me daily, my boys!  It was so cool to see so many runners wearing their race shirts for support yesterday.   And then seeing the cities that organized "silent miles" for the victims...how amazing.   Brought tears to my eyes.  I am SO proud to call myself a runner, now more than ever.  What an amazing group of people!  I am one, proud RUNNER today and every day!  
As I was driving to pick up my son from preschool yesterday, I noticed a female runner on the side of a main street in town and she had a printed Bib for Boston.  I stopped in the middle of the street...it took my breathe away.  So incredible.  
I'm sure you all have amazing stories you can share as well and I'd love to hear about the support happening around you and where you live...



And now for 2, exciting products to share...

If you a follower of mine on Instagram you would have seen me post about these Sincerely Nuts that I was given the opportunity to taste test!  Wowza!!!  Delicious!  My youngest son, the picky eater said these were his favorite snack!  Too bad they're all gone :(  we'll definitely be purchasing more...many more!!
 We tried Garlic Pistachios, in the shell!  Oh my gosh, AMAZING!  The flavor, the freshness and the cute package!  If you are a lover of pistachios the way my family is, you'll appreciate these and want to add them to your grocery list each week!  And if they aren't your thing, check out their website for MANY other flavors and products...They have nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and chocolate too!  Mmmm...is your mouth watering yet?  MINE IS!


And what about My Fit Foods, 
“CLIENTS WORKING THEIR TAIL OFF IN THE GYM AND NOT GETTING THE RESULTS THEY SHOULD…EVERY PERSONAL TRAINER’S NIGHTMARE.  AS A PERSONAL TRAINER, I KNEW THAT NUTRITION WAS 80% OF MY CLIENT’S HEALTH AND FITNESS GOAL, BUT IT WAS THE ONE PART I COULD NOT CONTROL…OR COULD I?”    - MARIO
There is one coming VERY close to our area and that makes me SO happy since it's pretty tough to find healthy options-that are on the go, around here!  But say no more, My Fit Foods is coming next week!
I had the opportunity to try a few of their favorites,
The Chicken Berry Salad with 350 calories and 26 grams of protein.  It was TO.DIE.FOR good!
**You can find a sample menu here** but it will vary by location.


and then dinner was chicken, rice and broccoli.  Seasoned perfectly.  
Microwave for 2 minutes and DINNER IS SERVED!  
What a perfect solution to the busy life when there's no time for dinner and nothing is in the fridge waiting for ya!  It's an easy grab n go lunch when you forget to pack one, so find the My Fit Foods nearest YOU!!!  I can't wait to find out what you think!

Now get out there and make today INCREDIBLE!!!  Go for a walk during lunch.  Take time to prepare a healthy meal tonight for your family.  Find a My Fit Foods near you.  Take the stairs wherever you go.  Sign up for a 5K run/walk with friends and family.  Make today fabulous!  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

runners are amazing.

I am a runner.
I'm not a fast runner.  I will never qualify for Boston.  But I am a runner.  
I have met so many amazing people through blogging, twitter and instagram that are runners.

In times like this...there are no words.  No words for such a tragedy during an event that is suppose to be uplifting, encouraging, inspirational and something that shows strength and determination.  
But on a positive note, the way the running community has come together is AMAZING!
All supporting one another, all of us wearing our marathon shirts today to show support.  
Running for Boston.  I ran for Boston this morning at my son's running club, holding both of my boys' hands. We finished 3 miles TOGETHER.
Even if you aren't a runner, get out and TRY today.  Run for those that were unable to finish.  
Run to show that there is still good in this world. LOTS of good.  

Although I am not a marathon runner, when my husband and I ran the Houston half 2 years ago, our families were there to show support.  It was my husband's parents and my mom and dad too.  They were so happy to get seats in the stands, right near the finish line!  They wanted to cheer us on as we crossed! It's a hard spot to grab, so they were happy that they snagged the last, few seats.  As I looked at images yesterday on the TV, although a different situation entirely...I couldn't help but "what if".  Thinking if that would've happened in Houston, that's exactly where our families would have been seated, holding their signs and yelling for us :(  Ugh, so hard to imagine.  

I have a cousin that ran yesterday and thankfully she's alright.  Her husband and twin girls were there cheering her on, they are all okay too-thank goodness.


I ran today because I can.  Our bodies are amazing and are capable of so much.  Think of those that were hurt, those that trained so hard for this event and were stopped short of that finish line.  

Before this happened, I often focused my running on running for those that cannot:  
My sister in law, who is unable to walk without the assistance of crutches, but is mostly in a wheelchair who inspires me every day.  
I think about a girl who lost her long, hard fight against CF a few weeks ago.  
I think about my dear uncle that lost his battle against ALS in 1994, and how that horrific disease took over his body until he could no longer move, at all.  
I have run countless races where I'll pass a "runner" in a wheelchair, or with prosthetics and I get goosebumps-thinking wow, how inspiring.  They are out there doing it.  They are pushing hard and allowing NOTHING to stand in their way.  How amazing.  That's the runners community I am talking about....always supporting one another, always there.  

So I will now also run for those in the elite, running class...those that run Boston each year.  What amazing, inspirational people all out there doing it and striving for that PR, when it was cut short by some senseless hate.  Disgusting hate.  

RUN TODAY.
No matter how fast or how far, just RUN.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What's not to love?

...about CAMPING!

Most of you know that my family & I have recently found something that we all love to do together and it's camping! We've invested in a nicer, larger travel trailer since its something we do often and this past weekend was our first trip with it :-)

The reasons we love camping:
It keeps us active as a family because we spend most of our time outdoors walking, running, playing games, swimming, fishing, hiking and riding bikes! There's never a dull moment until we lay down to sleep! As long as you're outdoors and moving, it's a step in the right direction right? RIGHT!

This particular trip was a challenge because it was hilly! So my morning runs were up and down-which was great but something I'm not used to!! Definitely made me work HARD!
I am looking forward to races coming up, it's been a while but I have a 10k this month and then a few for May! My pace has improved so much and I seriously give a lot of credit to the clean eats!

And for the food pics, those were prepared as soon as we came home today! It's a yummy strawberry salad-I love these, can ya tell? And a hard boiled egg. simple & delicious! But honestly, we prepare really good, healthy & clean foods while camping! It's almost frustrating when you pass other campsites and they're frying bacon, making campfire biscuits and chugging OJ but hey...that's life! Temptation all around!
Stay focused this week and remember that YOU are in control!

And then a Pinterest-inspired dessert/snack!
*My boys LOVED these...
Bananas, sliced in half
Spread each banana half with all natural pb and then crumbled cereal- I used Special K protein but I bet Kashi go lean would be really good too :-) my boys were saying, "Mmmm" with every bite and my husband & I were too!















Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NEVER too late!

I love being part of the FitFluential family as an Ambassador.  It's a huge part of my life and means so much because it has connected me to thousands of like-minded people who LOVE health and fitness.  We all have a story to tell and it sounds silly but we truly are like a family!  Some of us struggled with weight most of our lives, some are former athletes trying to find that balance, others are just wanting to make a difference and influence people to live healthy and BE HEALTHY! We share recipes, inspiration, workouts, frustrations and so much more!

I love the transformation stories because they are all so powerful and inspirational.  It's like if you've never struggled with weight, you may not fully understand the toll it takes on your body, your self-esteem, happiness...everything.  It consumes you.  So when people lose the weight, get healthy and find a new way of life, there is something SO inspirational about it!

Jenny's story really touched me...she was the "funny, fat girl" just like ME :(

"My name is Jenny Hodges and at 369 pounds I was always the biggest person in the room.
Life in the early 1970s was pretty good. I stayed active by riding my bike, playing with my friends and I relaxed by reading and watching TV. A lot of reading. And a lot of TV. When I was 8 years old my mother began working out of the home and our diet suddenly changed to more processed meals, and a lot of fast food. But my real downfall came in the early 1980’s when my parents opened up a pizza restaurant. Suddenly I had ready access to high calorie foods anytime I wanted. I quickly began to put on the weight and I was only 11 years old.
I tried to make jokes about my weight, and I was always thought of as the funny fat girl with the pretty face and I always felt that people were talking about me behind my back. I never had a boyfriend in high school, and though I always dreamed of being a runner like my sister and my cousins, my weight always held me back. As I got bigger and bigger I surrounded myself with other overweight women. They made me feel that I wasn’t alone, they never teased me. Food meant everything to me. I ate because I was bored. I ate because I was lonely. I ate because I could. The bigger I got, the more I ate, and the worse I would eat. I would feel good when I was eating, but as soon as I was done, I would feel horrible. So I just didn’t stop. It didn’t take long until I was close to 400 pounds.When I became a mother for the third time in three years my weight really began to take a toll on me. It was very difficult to take care of my children’s most basic needs; I couldn’t bathe them in the bathtub because I couldn’t get up off the floor from a kneeling position, so they took their nightly bath in the kitchen sink. While their basic needs were a challenge, so was having fun with them! I couldn’t get down on the floor and play with them, and it was a struggle to take them to the park. My obesity was impacting more than just me.
I knew I had to lose weight in the summer of 2008. My kids had just turned 2, 3, and 4 and I fell in the backyard while I was attempting to play kickball with them. I hurt my right knee and ankle very badly. I couldn’t get up off the ground and the kids had to run for daddy. Thankfully my husband was home, but he couldn’t pick me up and carry me inside. He had to get a blanket, roll me on the blanket, and then drag me inside the house. I was humiliated. And scared. What if I had been home alone with the children and suffered a heart attack brought on by my obesity? I had high blood pressure, my triglycerides and cholesterol levels were through the roof and I was pre-diabetic. I knew that if I didn’t do something that I was going to leave my children without a mother and no way was I going to let that happen.
I knew that to be successful I was going to need support. I immediately turned to my husband who agreed that something had to be done. Knowing that actions speak louder than words, he came home from work one night with a gym membership complete with childcare. I began working out right way. I started off slowly with low impact exercises, but after a few months I took the biggest step of my life. I joined in group fitness classes. I was still over 300 pounds, and still the biggest person in the room, but I went in, and I asked for help. The instructors were more than willing to show me modifications for even the most basic of low impact aerobics and weight training exercises. And people were talking about me…in a positive way. I had so many encouraging words from the other women in my classes. The support was, and still is, phenomenal. My fitness has evolved over the past 4 ½ years. I am a runner, a triathlete, an endurance athlete, and now I do CrossFit. I never let myself stagnate. I always push myself out of my comfort zone.But I had to change my diet too. And change it I did. I cut out all refined sugars, white breads, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and the biggest one of all…fast food. And my diet continues to evolve and change. I’m currently focusing on the Whole30 plan and am feeling amazing!!
In order to be successful I had to learn how to put myself first and leave the guilt of the previous 37 years behind. I was a woman on a mission. And I am still on that mission.
I’ve been fortunate to be able to motivate other people by having my story featured on International, National, and Local Press outlets. I’ve been in a major commercial campaign for Weight Watchers, and Mad Dogg Athletics (Spinning), and have been featured in Woman’s Day Magazine (December, 2012). In addition, I was a Project Athena Grant Recipient in November, 2012 I am the 2013 winner of the Athleta Power to the She Award Iron Girl Clearwater.
My weight loss has given me confidence. Confidence that I can do anything. The best part about being healthier and slimmer is being able to keep up with my kids and being a positive role model for my family and my community. I am proud of me.
’m a former marine biologist, librarian, and fat girl, turned amateur athlete, motivational speaker, and writer. I lost 212 pounds by changing my mindset, clean eating and adding in daily exercise. I am a certified Spinning instructor, and CrossFit addict. I also enjoy adventure/endurance challenges and running races with my children. I am married to James, and we have 3 kids (The Trio), and one autism service dog; a giant yellow Labrador named Matthew. I have a pay it forward Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/jennyhodgesismetamorfit and I blog at http://www.metamorfit.org. You can also follow me on Twitter @JennyMetamorfitInstagram, and Pinterest.



Hope she doesn't mind that I shared her story, maybe you'll be inspired by her story the way that I am!  The reason I wanted to share it with all of you is to again point out that it's NEVER TOO LATE!  Never too late to start your new, healthy life.  It can be SO much better.  You can push yourself further.  If we keep reaching, then our journey is never over.  
We can always improve, be healthier, do better!


Today's Workout:  boot camp via Pinterest!  You'd be surprised how much you sweat during an interval workout that's simply you and nothing else!  I did six rounds and each lasted about 10 minutes...I was DRENCHED and it felt good!

some eats from today: Although I love the Trader Joes high protein/high fiber cereal, we haven't been lately so Kelloggs Special K protein plus will have to do!  Still packs 10g protein and 3g fiber but could be better.  I sprinkle flaxseed meal and serve with almond milk!  Mmmm!
  *A great breakfast alternative when we're not in the mood for oatmeal or eggs!  

Lunch was delicious!  a salad which consists of lettuce, flaxseed meal, sunflower seeds, and sliced strawberries.  I served it with a low carb/high fiber tortilla that I toasted on 400 for 15 minutes in the oven...topped with my avocado hummus!  The tortilla gets crispy, so I spread the hummus and ate it like a pizza!  Mmmm!  
*Tip: if you're on the go and need to pack a lunch, pack your salad and hummus the evening before, toast your tortilla and wrap it in foil and it'll stay hard and crispy for lunch!  

Dinner was definitely comfort food!  I made my cauliflower mashed "potatoes" which are super delicious! and my NOT-fried chicken!  I served this with string beans but I ate them before the rest of the meal was prepared...can ya tell I was hungry?!
 4-5 chicken breasts cutlets-sliced into strips
Preheat over to 400.
In a bowl, combine panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.
In a separate bowl, combine 2 egg whites, 1/2 c whole wheat flour, 2 tbs flaxseed meal and splash of water, until it is like thick liquid.
Dip chicken strips in flour mixture, allow excess to drip off and then dip into panko mix to coat.
Place chicken in pyrex and bake at 400 for 30 minutes.  Then once it's cooked, squeeze lemon juice on each strip.  I baked a little longer to allow the edges to get really crispy, my favorite part :)  This meal was a huge hit with the entire family!!!  I love when that happens! See, healthy can be delicious and fun and crowd-pleasing!  High fat and high calorie meals are not necessary when you are pressed for time.  This meal literally took me 15 minutes!  That's it!  Once the chicken is prepared, pop it in the oven and get some things done around the house!  

FIND THAT BALANCE that works for you and your family!


TA-DA!!!!!  My new Reebok SUBLITE's that I won via Jess @ Blonde Ponytail!  
I love these shoes!!!
     Honestly, I've never been a Reebok girl!  When I taught PE I only wore Nike, now I wear my Mizuno running shoes all of the time!  
     When Jess was giving away a pair of these babies, I had to enter!  She had been showing off the styles/colors on IG for weeks and I kept telling my husband, I WANT THOSE SHOES!  So when she emailed and tweeted me saying I won, I couldn't believe it!  I was SO happy!!  As soon as they had me choose the color, I knew I wanted the yellow and teal...how cute are they?!?  

And the best part?
They don't make my feet look as HUGE as they really are, right?!
Ok, don't be honest on that question because I do have HUGE, size 11 feet!

I wore them during my workout today and FELL.IN.LOVE!!!!!  
They are light, comfortable, have cushion in all the right places (which is usually so hard to find) and will be perfect for strength training/cross training workouts!  I am beyond excited to keep wearing these babies, so thanks Jess!!!  And if you've never checked out her site, you better go there right now!  She's such an inspiration to me and I find motivation from her each and every day!  She shares great workouts, recipes and so much more.  Plus, she's expecting her first child and sharing how she stays fit through pregnancy :)  She's a fellow Fit Fluential Ambassador too!  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Push ON!

When you doubt yourself, you are giving up before you even start.
Give yourself more than that. You are worth SO much more than that.
Don't repeat that cycle.

Don't make excuses because the only person you are hurting is yourself.
And chances are, your heart and mind have heard all of the "I'm too tired, I have too much to do, my back hurts, my legs hurt, I have a headache..." Excuses!

TODAY is the day to START a new way of life, a far better life!
and tell yourself this time will be different...dig deep and tell your mind, body and soul that YOU deserve better and more out of life.

For me, I'm DAYS away from signing up for my very, first Triathlon! OMG, it freaks me out just saying it! WOWZA! It's been something I've wanted to do since starting my journey almost 12 years ago and why not now? I'm a wife, mother, fitness lover and have really focused on a clean diet that's paying off in my workouts too! WHY NOT? We are all strong! Most of us don't even believe or realize how strong we are! GO FOR IT! Do something you never thought possible. It WILL change your life! It will change your life, the lives of your family and SO much more!


And now, how about some roasted eggplant? Yum!
Super quick and easy too!
Bake at 400 for 35 minutes. Slice eggplant and sprinkle with finely chopped garlic and olive oil and then when it's done and crispy, sprinkle with a little LF mozzerella cheese! Mmmm!

A quick snack that we all love?
Low salt Rice cake topped with natural PB, sunflower seeds and flaxseed! My boys and I eat this as an afternoon snack!

And a yummy dinner that was so good and a huge, family hit?
Panko baked chicken spaghetti squash and zucchini!
Chicken- dip in evoo, then whole wheat and Panko mix then place in Pyrex and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes or until cooked through.
Spaghetti squash-cut in half, longways. Put 2 in water in Pyrex dish, pull seeds from 1/2 squash, lay in water, open side down and cover with Saran. Microwave for 8 minutes or until strings easily with fork! This way is honestly fool-proof. And then repeat with other half.
I topped with no sugar/no salt sauce from Trader Joes and served with zucchini and half a whole wheat roll ;-)

HAVE AN AWESOME WEEK!!!! PUSH HARD, STAY STRONG AND FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU WANT!!!!!







Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Be consistent, it pays off!

Don't force ANY person to make a healthy change.  
Whether it's weight loss, wanting them to exercise more and eat less, or wanting them to make more heart-healthy decisions with their food and quality of life.  
It's almost certain that the change will never happen when it's forced.  That person has to want it COMPLETELY on their own.  On their terms and they must get to that place in their life...most of time it's the bottom where there's nowhere to go but UP!  Unfortunately.  
Yes, it's always nice to show that we care but that's by being there, being consistent and never forcing a healthy change.  EVER.  
However to help that person, be consistent and showing/modeling that health behavior, allowing them to SEE the changes that you're making.  Be that person that shows them, THEY CAN TOO.  INSPIRE THEM.
Sometimes that person can't relate to your story, they were never heavy or they haven't watched a loved one suffer from heart disease or diabetes as a result of inactivity or poor diet.  Maybe they didn't work with today's children and haven't seen first-hand the obesity/overweight crisis and epidemic our youth are facing.  But whatever you've faced in your journey to your healthiest life, use those experiences to guide them and show them there's a better way.  That you wouldn't trade your healthy life for anything in this world!
It's far better to stand up and FIGHT than to become yet another health-related statistic, right?  RIGHT!  
So get out there and INSPIRE!  Inspire your friends, family, co-workers, children...anybody!!



For me, I am consistent with my boys!  I want to be that positive role model showing them that Mommy and Daddy take care of their heart through the foods that they eat and by exercising their heart!  
And let me tell you, IT WORKS!
     For our oldest, who is 6, he has adapted our behaviors from the beginning.  He loves his veggies, fruit and anything healthy-he's all for it!  He's always up for trying new, healthy things and LOVES to exercise, especially run!  We NEVER push anything on these boys, they watch.  They were pushed from birth, in a jogging stroller while Mommy did her workout or run.  They ran 5K's with us, riding in the luxury of a BOB stroller, but still...they were present.  They saw many healthy people gathering to have fun while exercising!  
Be consistent.  
Show your loved ones that it's a way of life.  It's like showering and brushing your teeth...something we all do each day to function!  Same with healthy eating and exercise.  It's part of our day.  
Show them don't just tell them.   
      With our youngest, the battle has been a little tough.  This boy has a texture issue, so veggie are a work in progress, but especially fruit.  He's VERY picky.  But I am consistent with the foods I serve.  Even if he has spit it out a thousand times, if it's part of dinner, it's put on his place.  If he chooses not to eat it, that's dinner. No special orders in my kitchen :)  Now, at the same time there's plenty of crazy, junk foods that pass through our home (especially by the grandparents!) but my children were taught from the beginning, it's a TREAT.  special occasions in most cases.  
     I honestly get so frustrated with hearing, "oh Marissa's kids are never allowed junk food.  She's going to make them run off and eat in a dark room when they are older"...oh the times I've heard this but for all of the "haters", let's take a look back on my struggles with food-

     For me, as a child I would eat until I couldn't stuff anything else in my belly.  I had no stopping point.  I'd grab one Little Debbie, demolish it and then crave more.  I'd go back for a second, feel guilty, eat it anyway and then starve the next day telling myself I should be ashamed of the amount I ate the day before.  There's that cycle.  Mostly carbs/junk food for me and because it was just my mom and I, I think she often felt that the food was comforting since my Dad wasn't around and it was just the two of us.  She was busy with work and was a fabulous mother, but I was never told no when it came to helpings, portions, or the food choices...and if I wanted it from the store, she bought it.  I shouldn't have been consuming 3-4 super pretzels, french fries and chips in the 7th grade as after school SNACKS.  And let's keep in mind I was eating these foods while sitting on the couch watching hours of TV.  Wow!
     In college, it was WORSE, only now I was at my heaviest or close to it.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I'd eat a bowl of cereal for a snack, go to the grab and go lunch area on campus, grab the unhealthiest, most fried thing I could find and take it back to my dorm.  I'd eat so fast, I'd be choking because I didn't want my roommate to see me eating that much food in one sitting.  And if that fried chicken sandwich and pile of fries didn't do it for me, it was back to the snack area in my dorm for chips, crackers, another bowl of cereal.  It's almost like I'd coat my guilt from that first fattening meals with other junk.  Ugh!  It was never ending but would usually end with me crying myself to sleep, feeling like a failure, knowing I could barely button my jeans and it felt AWFUL.  

So back to my littlest man, boy has he come a LONG way lately.  He wants to run like Daddy and big brother.  He things my older son's before school running club is THE coolest thing ever.  He loves running the laps and having them mark his hand too and yesterday, he earned his first bead on his necklace for miles run!  This little man used to complain if he had to walk to the end of the driveway!!!  HA!  


his first bead and necklace for miles!  I run with them each morning at running club on the track.  They think it's so funny to keep a pace with me and then take off and sprint, leaving me in their dust!  Of course they end up right back with Momma, laughing that they beat me in the "race"...we make exercise FUN!  

and if you still don't believe that consistency pays off, check out what this boy wanted for breakfast this morning??

"Mom, I want that raisin bread (Ezekiel bread) like you and Daddy eat with some cream cheese 
(neufchael cheese) on top!"

HE ATE IT UP!!!!


Dinner last night was burritos topped with 1/4 sliced avocado and fruit salad!  YUM!
The burritos:
I used my prepped turkey/bean mixture from Meal Prep Monday-it's great to be prepared :)

High fiber/low carb tortillas and roll up meat mixture and added black beans and lentils, some FF cheese on top and a drizzle of hot sauce on top for some kick.  I roll them up, bake in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes until slightly crispy and served with some avocado slices and spoon of plain, Greek yogurt!  So good!
The boys had the same, but I use regular whole wheat tortillas, same mixture and leave off the hot sauce!

and more prepping success, a few nights ago I made the boys favorite homemade pizza crust and topped with TJ low salt/sugar pizza sauce and crumbled some of the turkey meatballs I had already prepared.  Topped with a little cheese, popped in the oven for 12 minutes and they ate it up with a side of broccoli and cauliflower...the two veggies that my youngest son enjoys most so we eat them often :)
And why are my boys satisfied with MY pizza and not only the take-out/delivery pizza?  Because I am consistent.  It's what they know, they were introduced to these things so early on, that they know Mom's pizza, burritos, etc and not only the high-fat versions we eat on special occasions!  It's that simple.
     The key is to feed your kids healthy from the start.  It doesn't matter if they play 8 sports and you feel like they need the added calories/foods, they don't have to be overweight or struggling with exercise in gym class to NEED healthy foods.  Healthy foods are what fuel our bodies...they are ALWAYS needed no matter the age, activity level, family history, etc!

Do you meal prep?  

Are you consistent with your family and friends when it comes to wanting them to be healthy?  

Monday, April 1, 2013

"STRENGTH"

I had a great run this morning, I just LOVE when that happens don't you?  

It may have had something to do with my new EndorphinWarrior bracelet that I won from Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness?!  I chose "strength" and as I'd look down throughout my run, it reminded me that I am strong, I can push myself further than I ever thought before!  
If you need that reminder, 
I suggest you check them out here to find the one that is best for you and your journey!  
Hope you had a great workout today too!  Whether it's parking further from the office door at work, taking the stairs, heading to the gym before sunrise or planning on running or hitting the gym this evening!  
Whatever it is, GET AFTER IT!  GET MOVING!
Give it your all and you just might surprise yourself at your own STRENGTH!
I ran 4 miles and then came home and tried out Ali Sweeney's ab workout!  
If you missed it in Prevention magazine's April issue, here ya go! 

 Alison Sweeney’s top three ab-tightening fitness moves that appear in Prevention’s April issue. The Biggest Loser host recently revealed her favorite no-crunch, do-anywhere, core-toning ab moves. Plus, she opens up about she’s made peace with her stomach, flaws and all, and learned to give her belly some much needed love.

3 AB MOVES ALI LOVES:

“Your core is the center of your being and where every motion starts, so it’s important to strengthen all your stomach muscles,” says Sweeney. Get started with her three favorite no crunch, do anywhere ab moves.


1. LEG RAISE 

Lie faceup on mat, arms at sides. Use abs to lift legs straight up (A). (Knees can be bent slightly.) Slowly lower legs until they’re a few inches above mat (B), then raise them back up slowly to complete 1 rep. Do 2 or 3 sets of 10 reps.


2. TRIANGLE POSE 

Stand with feet about 4 feet apart. Turn right foot out about 90 degrees and align right heel with arch of left foot. Lift arms to shoulder height, parallel to floor, palms facing down. Reach through fingertips and extend torso over right leg. Slowly lower right arm and rest right hand on shin or ankle (or on mat or a block outside right foot) while extending left arm upward, keeping it in line with right arm. Keep head in neutral position or turn head to gaze at left thumb. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Repeat on opposite side.


3. NAVY SEAL

Start in plank position, wrists under shoulders and palms flat (A). Lower right forearm to mat, then lower left forearm to mat, coming into forearm plank (B), palms flat on mat and elbows bent 90 degrees and under shoulders. Press right palm into mat, then left palm into mat, coming back into plank position. That’s 1 rep. Continue alternating between plank and forearm plank for 10 reps. Do 2 or 3 sets.


The article can also be found online:

disclosure: I received the ab moves from Prevention magazine in hopes that I'd share with my readers, no compensation was received and all opinions are 100% mine.  
And now for MEAL PREP MONDAY!
I cannot stress the importance of planning!  Planning meals and workouts!  Whether it's the day before or for the entire week, you must have meals on hand to stay focused and resist temptations.  And with workouts-pack your gym clothes in your car, write a note on a post-it and stick it on your dashboard!  That way when you get busy and that ugly voice inside your head tells you that you're tired and will "start tomorrow", you will be instantly reminded that you MUST workout and stay focused with your diet! 
Planning has helped us out tremendously because each time we open the fridge, all of those pre-packaged meals are staring at us, asking us to grab them and fuel our bodies!  
If they weren't there, I'd grab the bag of chips or crackers almost always :(  and those are empty, unwanted and unnecessary calories!  

*When our family arrived at our house for Easter, I saw a cousin I hadn't seen in a while and her first words were, "you're so tiny, look at your legs...you're so LUCKY" 

I'm sure my jaw dropped and at first I said thank you, but then proceeded to say it's NOT luck at all- it's hard work and busting my butt with workouts and eating the right foods 95% of the time!  It felt great to hear such a fabulous compliment from all of my hard work, but honestly I had never heard that before in my life.  
I wouldn't normally say it was luck but it had me thinking...
I am very lucky.  Because of my constant weight struggles, I am lucky to know what pushing myself beyond my limits feels like.  I am lucky to have the support of my husband, family and friends throughout this ongoing & never ending journey, I am lucky to know that it's SO important to take care of our bodies, our heart and to know my own STRENGTH.  I am lucky to have been at the bottom and I fight hard to push toward the top in this weight loss journey and journey to my healthiest life and the lives of my family.  I am lucky to have felt what crossing a half marathon finish line feels like and I'm lucky to know that I am pushing hard to fight my heredity filled with diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
SO, when I look at it like that I guess I am pretty, darn lucky!  
What about you?  Ever received a compliment after your hard work that really makes you feel good?  

Some of the prepping!
Cauliflower mash!  Hope you wrote down my recipe for this...it comes so creamy and delicious!  I promise you, my boys DO NOT KNOW it's cauliflower at ALL!  Not that they mind, it is one of their favorite veggies, but still...

extra lean ground turkey mixed with a little cumin and chili powder and a can of drained black beans!  A great addition to salads, low carb/high fiber tortillas, lettuce wraps, egg white omelettes and great sweet potato toppings too!  My husband brings this to work as a different variety almost daily!  SO many things you can make out of this one, simple, healthy dish!  Try it!!

TURKEY MEATBALLS!  I decided to take my turkey meatloaf recipe and turn it into tiny meatballs!  Change things up and make it fun for the family!  They turned out perfectly and we'll see what the kiddos say tonight!  I did 1 slice whole wheat bread, soaked in splash of skim milk.  Let the bread get really soft, and then combine lean ground turkey with one egg white, sprinkle of LF parmesan cheese, and then add the bread!  Stir to combine but DO NOT over mash!  Just fluff and mix with fork lightly!  Form balls but not tightly, very loose and place on pan.  I topped each meatball with a spoon of no sugar/no salt tomato sauce. I baked at 400 for 30 minutes!  Perfectly cooked and smells delicious!
Still to prepare, I will be making my kids some single-serve homemade pizzas with broccoli and cheese on homemade whole wheat crust....the boys LOVE these!  Then on nights when we're busy, I can pop these in the convection oven and voila! dinner is served!  And I will be roasting eggplant slices and chick peas for snacking!  I add a little lemon pepper or garlic powder to my chick peas for different flavors but a little dry ranch seasoning is yummy too!  If you like variety, split them up when you are draining/rinsing and do a little in each flavor!  YUM!!! *make sure you roast the chick peas long enough to get them crunchy...a mushy, somewhat roasted chick pea can leave a pretty bad taste/texture in your mouth!  I'd know first hand, I used to mess these up each time I tried!  I now crank my oven to 450 for extra CRUNCH!!!  

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