Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why I Don't Count Calories

Do you count calories? 

How about fat grams? 

 Do you obsessively weigh yourself? 

 Do you workout simply to hit a number so you lose weight?

 I recently took a little detour from my healthy lifestyle for the sake of calorie-counting. I was getting frustrated that I seemed to be maintaining and even gaining each month when I would step on the scale, so I decided I'd try to count calories for awhile.

 It was a good intention that led me down a very slippery, fast slope to the opposite of what I wanted to achieve.


Slowly over time, I started to notice things changing...

 ...guilt for eating too many calories
..."cheating" on unhealthy foods
...quantity vs quality of the food I was consuming
...hitting a number, instead of listening to my body
...exercising to hit a number, instead of for pleasure & physical/mental health
...feelings of depression because I was "failing"
...obsessing over every morsel that went in my mouth, instead of truly enjoying/tasting my food

These are just a few of the things that I started to notice when I started to track my calories.

 My old eating disorder mentality started to creep in. See, it wasn't about the food (my drug of choice), it was about the control. The self-control, or lack thereof.

It's a vicious cycle for me...I'm hitting numbers, so my focus shifts from the quality of food I'm eating to the quantity, despite my body telling me I'm genuinely hungry. Since I'm eating lesser quality of food than what my body needs, I'm always hungry & never satisfied because I'm not truly enjoying and tasting my food, I'm simply hitting numbers. When I fail to hit the numbers, the guilt sets in. I hit the gym to hit my number. Then the gym becomes less enjoyable. I don't want to be there. I don't want to try to hit these numbers. I don't want to keep failing.



See? It's a slippery slope.

The weight that I've lost was not lost by counting a single calorie. It wasn't lost by tracking a single amount of calories burned. In fact, it wasn't lost by tracking anything at all.

It was lost by listening to what my body needs, how it responds to different foods and how much it needs of each food.

It was lost by focusing on quality of food.

It was lost by taking my time eating, enjoying every moment of it from picking out the freshest, cleanest ingredients to preparing it to finally eating it.

It was lost by spending time in the gym doing things I truly enjoy: yoga, Zumba & running.

All of these things, done consistently, added up to not only my weight loss, but my mental health & my feelings of "winning" at being my best self. I will never trade those things for the sake of counting calories.

For me, counting calories = bondage.

For me, freedom comes from striving to be my best self, without numbers to try to measure up to!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Gluten-Free Spinach Sun-dried Tomato Pizza + Vegan Cheddar Cheese

Well, I am quite the klutz.

My DD inherited my DH's grandmother's mirror. It's round and gorgeous with scalloped edges. It's too heavy to hang on the wall, so we've been leaning it against furniture in her room. This morning while getting the baby from the crib, I walked by the mirror, slicing my toe open.

Guess my workouts are going to have to wait another day. Oh well, it gives me time to catch up on the MN Dept of Education's Academic Standards.


I am quite proud of myself in another area, though.

I repurposed my baby food jars!

I buy some of my spices from Super Target and their little glass jars were just too small. I couldn't get a measuring spoon in the top of them and trying to pour them was frustrating. Ta-Da! Problem fixed and I recycled. Go me! (By the way, I just pulled the sticker from the front of their original jars and stuck it to the baby food jars).


Today's lunch was super duper satisfying!

One of my favorite indulgence foods is pizza. However, pizza has wheat, dairy and a multitude of other things I probably shouldn't be eating. Other pizza crusts I've eaten or made are really flat, like thin crust pizza. This was a deep dish-style recipe and oh so filling! I was stuffed after just 2 pieces (but of course I shoveled in a 3rd piece).

Ashley's Millet Buckwheat Pizza Crust
Yields: 4 servings

I topped my pizza with organic Tomato Sauce mixed with pizza spices, sulfur-free Sun-Dried Tomatoes and raw Spinach leaves.

What's that other thing on my pizza, you ask?

Well, since I'm not eating dairy and couldn't have cheese, I thought I'd try out a different type of cheese. And it was delicious! (though it does take some getting used to)

Gena's Raw, Vegan Walnut "Cheddar Cheese"
Yields: 1-1/3 cups

I used about 1/4 cup of this and topped my pizza with it. Pull your pizza out when the cheese starts to brown a little.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Circuit Training: Week Two

Well, I finally made it. I finished week 2 of my circuit training program. Only 10 weeks left to go!

It took me 4 weeks to complete week 2. However, I was still participating in other activities such as Yogalates and Latin Hip Hop, so I wasn't completely stagnant.




The Results:

  • My weight didn't change
  • I gained 0.5" in my waist
  • I gained 0.75" in my hips

Let's talk about my weight first. Here's a day in the life of a woman battling PCOS. 

On Christmas Day, I encountered the stomach flu. I proceeded to pray to the porcelain gods until there was nothing left. It took me approximately 3 days to fully recuperate and in those 3 days, I didn't eat much. When I felt better, I weighed myself: I weighed the exact same as before my 4 day flu venture.

For the next 2 days, I ate pretty healthy, but also indulged in a bit of sugar, it was the Christmas season after all. The next morning, I weighed myself: gained 5 lbs.

For the past 2 days, I've been eating a really clean, whole-food, endo-diet-friendly diet. A teeny-tiny bit of agave nectar & whole fruit is the only sugar I've been consuming. Weighed myself this morning: lost 2 lbs.

Now, I know there are a lot of factors that could play into such drastic weight changes in a short amount of time, but here's reality...PCOS affects certain women in this way. I found a great article that really explains it well. The paragraph that most stood out to me was, "PCOS causes insulin resistance, which makes your body unable to deal with sugar. The body converts it to fat instead of processing it as it should. Hence, women with PCOS gain weight easily, usually right around the middle. The more you gain, the worse the insulin resistance becomes, which makes it even harder to lose weight."

Which brings me to the results in numbers. Notice that I didn't lose any inches this week either. I gained them. Take note where I gained them. Yup, my waist and my hips. Just as the article says above. 

Now, I could stop here and be really frustrated by my situation, but here's the deal: a picture doesn't lie. Check out the picture from week 1 (which was actually taken 4 weeks ago). The bad: I've lost definition in my waist. The awesome: check out my curves! If you look in the side-view pictures above, take notice of my thighs. In the week 1 photo, my leg goes straight down. In the week 2 photo, there's definite curvature! This means, I'm building muscle - I'll take it!

One last note: I typically don't track calories and such, but since my eating has been so off course, I decided to try tracking my carb, protein and calorie intake as well as the calories I'm burning. I'm also tracking my water intake to make sure I'm getting enough. The site I'm using is free and if you have a smart phone, I believe there's even an app for it. You can find me on My Fitness Pal; username: foodie4healing. 


Now for some delicious & healthy grub...

Yields: 4 servings

To Endo-ize: substitute ground turkey for the ground beef and use gluten-free pasta

For a complete meal: serve with a glass of Milk or a piece of fruit


One thing I have greatly missed is Chocolate Chips. There really aren't any great products on the market for someone like me. About 90% of the chocolate chips available contain soy. If they don't contain soy, then they contain sugar and/or dairy. So, when I stumbled across a recipe for them on another foodie blog I follow, I couldn't wait to try them!

Yields: 1.5 cups (even though she says 3 cups on her recipe)

Note: I used stevia in this recipe. Stevia can be really tricky to work with, so instead of doing the recommended 3 scoops, I decided to only add 1/2 tsp at a time. I added a total of 1 tsp Stevia and that was plenty. In fact, my DH thinks 1/2 tsp would've been enough.

Storing: Because of the coconut oil, these can melt at room temperature. I suggest storing them in the freezer.

Now, how to use my new Homemade Chocolate Chips? What better way than in an Endo Diet-friendly dessert!

Yields: 16 servings

No balking at the ingredients. You gotta try these! They are delicious and really hit the spot when you want a sweet treat. Even my picky DD loves these!


PCI's Turkey Chili
Yields: 6 servings

1 large onion, chopped
2 lbs ground turkey
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can tomatoes with juice
2 T chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 T paprika
2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, drained

Brown turkey, garlic and onions until no longer pink. Stir everything together except the beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes-1 hour. Add beans and cook until heated.

For a complete meal: serve with a glass of Milk, side of Pineapple and a few Saltine Crackers.


Yields: 3-4 servings of dressing

No formal introductions needed. It's Angela's recipe and Angela only makes delicious things!


Also, I've added a "FAQ's" page to my blog. Let me know if you have any questions that you'd like featured there. Chances are, if you've got a question, someone else is wondering the same thing. So, ask away!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

French Bistro Salad & Gluten-Free Baked Garlic Chicken

Lately, I've been doing lots of shopping. School shopping. Grocery shopping. Etc.

As my seasoned readers know, we are strongly considering homeschooling for our soon-to-be Kindergartner. We have lots of reasons why we'd want to go that route. I've been slowly researching it over the past year or so, but somehow the finality of making the decision has crept up on me. Last week I received a flyer from the school district that Kindergarten tours are taking place this month and that if you want to be guaranteed your child gets in, you need to register them by the end of January! Whoa! I was not and still am not fully prepared to make that final decision. So, my husband and I registered for the MACHE Homeschool Conference in April, will take our tours of potential schools this month and hopefully have our final decision by the end of January. In the meantime, I've also been researching homeschool curriculums. If any of you are homeschoolers, I'd love to hear your feedback, in the comments section below, on the curriculums you currently use or have tried.


It's funny what happens when you go shopping with God. I've heard people say this before, that they've gone shopping with God and miraculously found great deals or discounts on things. I personally had never experienced that before, until yesterday...

As you all know, DH and I follow the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University principals, which means we do a zero-balance budget the month before for the current month. So for example, we sat down at the end of December to put together January's budget. Every dime we have to spend gets accounted for and assigned to an expense. Anything leftover at the end of the month, goes toward what step you're on, which for us is step 2 - to pay off our debt as quickly as possible. (We're almost there! Yay!) For the first time in 10 months, we were unable to come up with a zero-balance budget. Our expenses exceeded our income by almost $400. We had scaled back absolutely everything we possibly could. There was nothing left. What were we going to do? We had 2 options. 1) We could take money from our emergency fund to cover the expenses. 2) Some of our bills simply wouldn't get paid this month. We didn't like either option, so we went with option 3) Trust in God to provide for us and cross the bridge when we get there of whether to do option 1 or 2.

Guess what? God showed up!

1) Yesterday, I went in for my monthly Kinesiology appointment. Since having a baby, my needs have changed as far as the care and issues that my body needs. My main priorities are managing the PCOS and Endometriosis. Also keeping my Depression and potential Kidney Stones in check. To my amazement, my Kinesiologist overhauled my entire plan. I ended up saving $330 in monthly supplements!

2) We ended up finding an online deal for our local Great Harvest Bread Company which was a buy 1 get 1 free, saving me $5!

3) I went to the counter to pay for my monthly protein powder and when the sales clerk rang it up she said, "Oh, this is actually $5 off!" then she asked if I was a rewards member, which I am and after looking it up, she said, "And you actually have a $5 voucher available!" Score another $10!

All of this is not to say that our God is a magical genie and he'll give you a car if you ask Him. But if you trust Him, I mean really trust Him to provide for you, He will! It may not be in the way you think or by getting money off of things, like I did yesterday, but He will provide, if you let Him.


A gem that I found while grocery shopping is the new-to-me La Croix Coconut-flavor of their Sparkling Water. It wasn't my favorite of the flavors, but it was still good. It reminded me of a pina colada and somewhere warm, which I'll take in anyway I can get it since it's winter here in MN. Although, it's been a really mild winter! I also tried, for the first time, the Perrier Citron Lemon Lime water. It was sooo good!!! However, though these are good occasional treats and a welcomed change from traditional water, after my last post on Healthy Drinking Water, it makes me wonder what's in them?!


Yesterday I made the most delicious French Bistro Salad and Dressing that I got off the Atkins website (you might have to sign up for the community to view the original recipe). Though I do love most of the recipes from this website, I personally don't follow the amounts of things that they recommend, so I use their recipes for inspiration and adjust my own quantities. Here's my version of the recipe:

French Bistro Salad
Yields: 1 serving 

1 serving French Bistro Dressing (recipe below)
1-2 cups organic mixed greens
1 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 poached egg
1 slice bacon, cooked

Quick-and-Easy Egg Poaching: Take a microwave-safe bowl and fill it with water. Carefully break an egg into the water, making sure it's completely submerged. Place bowl in microwave, placing a microwave-safe saucer plate on top of the bowl. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals until egg is desired consistency. Remove egg carefully from the water using a slotted spoon and place on top of greens.

Slice bacon into 1"x0.5" pieces. Saute over medium-high heat until nicely browned & crisp. Approximately 3 minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel.

To assemble salad: place mixed greens on a plate, top w/freshly shredded Gruyere cheese, then egg & finally arrange bacon around egg. Top w/dressing or serve it on the side.

For a complete meal: serve with a glass of Milk and some Lefse (which is not French, lol).

My child doesn't like her food touching, so here was her "disassembled" salad.

French Bistro Dressing
Yields: 3/4-1 c dressing

3/4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp dijon mustard
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4-1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil and whisk until well blended. Slowly whisk in olive oil until desired consistency and flavor.

Tip: We like to serve our dressing on the side, as shown in the picture above and dip our fork-full of food into the dressing. We tend to use less dressing that way & still get the flavor of it with every bite!

Storing: We stored this in the fridge in an air-tight glass container. It starts to harden after a day or so, but all you need to do is give it a good whisking and it will be just like when you first made it!


DD got her very own digital camera for Christmas. I think I've created a monster! LOL (notice what she's taking pictures of - her food!)


Today for lunch I attempted to make a vegan and gluten-free version of this Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken recipe. It actually turned out pretty good, except I think next time I'll try gluten-free breadcrumbs, because the almond meal didn't quite crisp up like the breadcrumbs would. Still, it was delicious!

Gluten-Free Baked Garlic Chicken
Yields: 3 servings (or more)

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c Trader Joe's almond meal (or gluten-free breadcrumbs)
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
grated parmesan cheese, to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a small baking dish. In a bowl, blend the olive oil & garlic. In a separate bowl, mix the almond meal/breadcrumbs, basil & pepper. Dip each chicken breast in the oil mixture, then in the almond meal/breadcrumbs mixture. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in the prepared baking dish & top with any remaining almond meal/breadcrumb mixture. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Note: If you're vegan or don't eat dairy, leave the cheese out. Otherwise, sprinkle the cheese on just before baking or just before eating. Also, I thought that 30 minutes was too long in my oven. I think next time I'll check it at 25 minutes.

For a complete meal: serve it with a glass of Milk, Greens Beans drizzled with Olive Oil & Sea Salt, and Sweet Potatoes with a pat of Butter and Sea Salt.


Tonight I finally completed my "Week 2" of the Jillian Michael's Circuit Training program I've been on (it only took me 4 weeks to complete week 2, lol). Her circuits go in 2 week series, so this also means that I get to start a new series for the next 2 weeks! I love variety when it comes to working out. Watch tomorrow for my latest weekly before & after photos. I also have some yummy recipes coming tomorrow, including Homemade Chocolate Chips and Vegan Coconut Chocolate Chip Blondies!

Someone else in our house has really been getting her exercise, too. Baby A loves this Jump & Go! It's her favorite activity, besides belly laughing at her big sister.