Monday, January 13, 2014

Six-packs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym

To get the body that you want, here's an equation to keep in mind: 80% diet, 20% exercise

All of the cardio and strength training in the world is worthless when you're eating garbage during the day. Little slip-ups here and there add up quickly, so if you're like me, and ready to regain control over your life and body, it's time to hit the reset button, and get to this place: eating to live, and far, far away from living to eat.

July 2011-April 2013, I lived/exercised/ate like a SAINT. I lost 22 lbs from my highest weight, and my goal was to lose 23 lbs.

Then May 2013 rolled around, and a few troubling annoyances in my personal life absolutely derailed me. I was within one pound of an idyllic goal weight I thought I'd never, ever reach, but I absolutely fell off track, and fell hard.

I was in such a newfound great place with my body that I assumed I was invincible, and my good eating habits quickly fell by the wayside.

In November 2013, I sat down with a personal trainer for a free consultation and heard some things that really upset me, but I took a cold, hard look in the mirror, and got my shit together (eating- and working out-wise). Then December came, filled with holiday treats at home, which comforted me and my family while we were coming to terms with my grandma's medical situation.
Granny on her 60th birthday with my dad. My mom was 6 months pregnant with me at the time :)

And then I was handed one week in New York, where we had to rely on food we could get within walking distance of grandma's rehab at Amsterdam and 112th, which had me absolutely craving fresh fruits and vegetables.
The church right across from Amsterdam House rehab. Beautiful! St. John the Divine, I believe.

Tom's Restaurant, aka Monk's on Seinfeld. Here's Papa who asked me to take a picture of him.
We're mega fans 4 life of Seinfeld, y'all!

I was especially on my workout game during December, especially Christmas Eve (first BodyPump in a while, followed 2 hours later by a grueling FlyBarre session) and Christmas Day (4.0 mile jog/walk/sprint on the treadmill at Papa's gym), but then there wasn't much time to sneak in a workout while spending 11A-8P every day by grandma's side.

I did sneak in a Flywheel class that was absolutely life-renewing and fulfilling on New Year's Eve, and walked as much as possible (from Amsterdam and 112th to Amsterdam and 77th to try on gear at Soulcycle - and then back, and back from Flywheel at Columbus/82nd-83rd). But still. It was quite the drop in activity, compared to my typical teaching 5 classes a week, and essentially always working out 6-7 x/week. I was ready to get home, and back to my routine.

It's a new year.

And one of my resolutions in the "BODY" category is to get back to DAILY food logging and really be better about groceries (meaning, actually use the stuff I buy, and buy the right things, that will get me through every day), breakfast, and dinner. And most important, to tone up the newfound muffin top, and focus less on the numbers, and more on look and feel.

Often, when we write down a goal weight number, or obsess over it, we fail.
Check in with yourself and your scale about once a week, but try not to obsess over the numbers.

Use it as a gauge. Use it to motivate, not to punish. After just one week of completely changing up and "cleaning" up my diet, I already feel better, and felt some noticeable differences, like being able to button a jacket that has been too tight for months. And that's in one week!

Diets don't work. You have to get to this place I mentioned at the beginning of the post: Eating to live, and not living to eat. You have to wrap your head around a lifestyle change.

On my way home from dinner with my parents one night this weekend, I could have easily stopped off at Tasti d Lite, but I knew that didn't fit into my new eating lifestyle, so instead, I went straight home, and fixed a quick PB2/1 cup unsweetened almond breeze Vanilla Almond Milk/handful of frozen kale/quick shake of frozen blueberries smoothie. It clocked in at under 200 calories, and it felt like I was eating a decadent dessert.

What, what, what am I eating, you ask? Here are some ideas, and you can get even more of an idea by following me on myfitnesspal and LoseIt where I log my daily intake.

Breakfast Ideas
Egg Cups (low cal, low carb, depending on what you put in them, and high protein)
*The only thing I had in the house that sort of made sense to mix with the eggs was some spinach (from a bag). This was incredibly easy to make, and I just packed up all dozen egg cups into a large, rectangular Tupperware, and put them in my fridge for safe keeping.
For the girl (or guy) on the go.

Today's greenish smoothie:
1-2 cups unsweetened almond milk (My favorites are Almond Breeze: Unsweetened Vanilla, which has just 30 calories for 1 cup, or Unsweetened Chocolate or Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Coconut - 45 calories/cup)
1 cup spinach leaves (Bagged spinach: 2 cups is 25 calories)
1 tbsp. Wholly Avocado (It's JUST avocado. Always ripe. 1 tbsp. = 30 calories of healthy fat!)
2 tbsp. PB2 Peanut Butter (just add the powder into your blender)
1/8 cup unsweetened frozen blueberries (it's all that I had left)
Total calories: 192

My favorite smoothie of all time:
1 cup unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze Almond Milk (30 calories)
1 sliced small-medium frozen banana (90 calories. The banana also serves as your ice without watering down your smoothie)
2 tbsp. PB2 powdered peanut butter (45 calories)
GO. This takes FIVE MINUTES at most, and is so easy to grab and go, if you've got a good reusable to-go cup at home.

Lunch (today)
Tupperware with....1 grilled chicken breast, done on my Foreman last night (already sliced up, because I ain't got time for that) with a few spoonfuls of my Ratatouille (see below) and steamed spaghetti squash

Stelebrity Fit Club "Ratatouille"
My stomach absolutely can't handle olive oil, garlic, or onions, so that's why I leave them out. Leaving out the olive oil also cuts down on calories and some (good) fat, so there's that, too. And onions and garlic just stay with you all day long, so if you want to feel fresh and not weighed down by these bastards, follow my recipe.

Here's what I do:
  1. Get a GIANT pot out of the cabinet, and set your stove to medium heat.
  2. Spray the bottom of the pot with Coconut Oil Spray (my healthy alternative for Pam).
  3. Wash and then slice in small quarters the following vegetables: Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Roma Tomatoes, and Eggplant.
  4. Throw them into the pot.
  5. Add about 1/2 cup of a natural tomato sauce (read the ingredients and get the one that just has vegetables, and maybe, tomato paste. None of the fructose corn syrup or any other junk that some companies sneak in there!), and season how you like. You'll probably want a good amount of salt in there, but don't put too much. I also like adding dried parsley.
  6. Stir occasionally, and cover the pot. You want the vegetables to be sort of mushy.
  7. In about 30 minutes, you've got a giant pot of filling, low calorie vegetables that are great by themselves, or on top of a serving of steamed spaghetti squash.
I just put the pot back in the fridge (covered), and I'm able to get about 4-5 meals, at least, out of this! This is best to do on Sunday. Prepping takes at most, one hour out of your Sunday night, but if you do it right, you've got breakfast/lunch/dinner taken care of for the week ahead!

1/4 cup raw almonds (Measure these out. Almonds are good, in moderation. Limit yourself to 1/4 c per day)

Prepare 2 tbsp. of PB2 (regular or chocolate) at home in a mini Tupperware, and throw in your lunch bag. 45 calories, 1.5 g fat. Total decadence bargain right here.

1 small apple or clementine. Whatever you have.

Tonight, I'll likely bake up a piece of Salmon I bought last night, this way:
It'll change your life. TJ's is the cheapest I've seen. Throw out your PAM, and use this.

Salmon, Stel's Way

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Get out a piece of aluminum foil, and lightly spray with Coconut Oil Spray (my healthy replacement for Pam).
  3. If you're feeling fresh, put a handful of spinach leaves on top of the foil, or just put the Salmon on top.
  4. Season the salmon with a conservative shake of salt and pepper, lemon juice, or my new favorite, Ponzu sauce. It's like soy sauce with a hint of lime.
  5. Close up your foil packet.
  6. Put this in the oven, and check at 20-25 minutes.
  7. EAT.

What's OUT, according to my new lifestyle?
  • Frozen yogurt (the problem wasn't the yogurt, as much as the toppings I'd add. BYE FOREVER. Bye, Felicia)
  • Cereal (get thee out of my life), granola, and the like
  • Chocolate chips/baked goods (NEVER, ever allowed in my apartment, ever. When I stop caring, I tend to sprinkle a few chocolate chips here and there, or just eat them by themselves.)
  • Basically, all bread (do you know how hard it was to not eat any of it when I went to Cheesecake Factory Friday for my friend's birthday? Since I'm not depriving myself, and just considering this a lifestyle change, it actually wasn't that bad!), chips (so, so tempting at Tex Mex restaurants, but I've abstained so far), etc. (I'm not telling you to exclude one thing or another, or go gluten free, or any such extreme, but for me, bread is unnecessary)
  • Quest Bars (Get thee out of my face/life. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don't believe the labels. I have a really, really strong feeling that these things contributed to some of my mid-to-end-of-year weight gain)
  • Popcorn (fat free)
  • Trips to Starbucks, which also checks off the box for some of my financial resolutions (All I get at Starbucks is a Venti Americano with a little half and half, and typically, 1 pump of a flavored syrup, but who knows what's in this garbage. Just abstain.)

Figure out what makes you tick, and what you absolutely cannot give up. If you're setting up a lifestyle plan that you know you will not be able to follow, there's no point.

Summed up, I'm sticking to...lean proteins (salmon, grilled chicken, tilapia, because I know how to bake these), eggs (hard boiled or scrambled, every now and then), making filling green/fruit, etc. smoothies, and absolutely, every day, without fail, packing my lunch and prepping hardcore for the week on Sunday.

I bought a Yonanas maker on Amazon to replace the Cuisinart mini chop I had to throw out because it was infested with fruit flies... gross! I plan on making "buffies" (my friend Spike coined this term for "banana fluffies." ALL you do is blend, or Yonana up 1-2 sliced, frozen bananas. THAT IS IT. And you get a filling, healthy, low calorie replacement for frozen yogurt. Can't wait.
THIS IS JUST BANANA. Can you even?

Enough of walking to Whole Foods to spend $10-15 on brown rice sushi or some mess I fashioned at the salad bar, which I did far too often in 2013 for workday lunch.

It's better to eat things you made yourself, because you know exactly what's in there, and forcing yourself to eat the things you bought helps keep additional, incremental, impulse spending to a minimum.

You can do it.
You will do it.
It's a new year, but it's not a new you. It's just you, with new intentions and a willingness to get shit done, once and for all.

Here's to another successful week in the kitchen, and on the bike.

Xoxo, Stel

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