Excuses, Excuses

Everybody’s got them.

I’ve been making a lot of excuses lately. Mostly for me being lazy, not going running or working out. I keep telling myself I will when the weather gets better, but last weekend it was 68 and sunny and I did nothing. Well, I did celebrate Texas Independence Day with some good beer and chili. Yum.

texas beer texas chili

 

I have not been running in a few weeks, and with the beginning of Lent, I’m going to at least try and dedicate myself to keeping up with what I’ve started. Running, working out and eating healthy. No excuses.

What excuses have been holding you back?

Advertisements

Cheating is Good for You

So I have some good news for you today. It turns out, when it comes to healthy eating, cheating is good for you.

Wow, y’all. I can feel your skeptical looks from here.

Do I still have your attention?

Okay. First of all, the entire premise of this argument is that the cheat day is good for you as long as you don’t abuse it. This means cheating by ways of a cheeseburger and fries, not an entire pizza, breadsticks and a case of beer (guilty).cheat day!

A cheat day or meal is a planned splurge, a reward even. But the important part is that you do plan it. Don’t slip up and say to yourself, oh well, I guess that was my cheat meal because then you do not get the full benefit of it. If you slip up, recognize that and move on.

There a couple areas of healthy eating that the cheat day targets, and as long as you are eating clean through the week, having a cheat day or meal once in seven days will not derail you. I’ve been eating clean since April, doing one cheat meal a week, and it hasn’t stopped me. If anything, it’s helped me keep going.

Disclaimer: I do not pretend to be a dietitian or expert on nutrition. These are just my thoughts and what I have found to be true for me. I have, however, had my good friend (and former college roommate) Liz Kowalsky, who is a dietitian, read over this blog post and make sure that my logic is sound.

The way I see it, cheat meals serve one goal, but accomplish this goal in two different ways. The goal is simple: to indulge. Give yourself a break. Relieve some stress. Let loose. Have fun. These things are important.

  1. First, let’s talk about the physical benefits. Studies have shown that temporarily upping your calorie intake can increase your leptin production, boosting your metabolism for a short period of time. Leptin is the hormone responsible for maintaining energy levels, controlling hunger and may contribute to increased levels of dopamine production as well, which we all know puts us in a good mood. It also helps prevent stagnation. It’s the same reason you don’t do the exact same workout every time you go to the gym. By switching things up, you throw your body for a loop, thus making it work harder to do the same job it was doing before.
  2. There are also obvious psychological benefits. Getting one meal a week to indulge allows you to satisfy any cravings you may be having, as well as helping you develop a healthy relationship with food. Instead of assigning food into categories (as we are all so used to doing) like “good” and “bad”, it helps you relearn food’s role in your life. Instead of not allowing yourself to have a certain food because it’s “bad” for you, you can reassign it as a treat, or a once in a while food. Over time, this will help you keep those little slip-ups (we all have them) into a major derailing.

The purpose of cheating is not to have a free for all with your food. That’s not healthy. The idea is to treat yourself for your hard work all week. By satisfying a craving, indulging and not over-doing it, you can actually maintain a diet plan for a longer period of time if you schedule these cheat meals.

The important thing to remember is this: when I say that cheat meals work for me and might work for you, that is not me saying that they definitely will. Everyone is different, and having a cheat meal once a week might not work for you. If not, that’s fine. If it does work, that’s fine too.

What do you think? Do you use a cheat meal? Does it work?

Recipe: Spicy Edamame

I’m a very strange bird. I don’t know if y’all have realized that. If not, it was bound to happen soon.

But here’s the thing: I will walk past the dessert buffet every day in favor of salty and savory snackage. I prefer appetizers to desserts when eating out and I cannot count the number of times I have thrown my weight loss train off course because when I crave snacks, I crave salt, and I do not care how terrible it is for me.

Enter edamame. And my relief that I can now have my salt and eat it too.

Edamame, for the uninitiated (as I was no more than six months ago) are essentially immature soybeans. Kept in the pod, they are very popular in Japanese, Chinese and Hawaiian cuisine. Usually as an appetizer.

I can eat them all day long. Especially when boiled and tossed with this spice blend.

seasoned edamame pods

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound edamame pods, fresh or frozen. Note: this recipe is written for frozen pods, which can usually be found in the freezer case of the natural foods section of your grocery store of choice. If not, check out Sprouts or Whole Foods
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon onion salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • cracked black pepper, to taste.

This is ridiculously easy, I promise.

  1. Fill a medium pasta pot with 6 cups of water and a couple pinches of salt. Put on the stove on medium-high heat, to get it to a steady boil.
  2. Pour in your frozen edamame and bring it back to a boil. Note: If you are using fresh edamame, please pay attention, these pods will cook very quickly and after they boil, will probably be about 30-40 seconds away from being done
  3. Boil for 2-3 minutes, or until cooked about 90% of the way through.
  4. Pro-tip: pour the water and edamame into a colander in the sink and run cold water over it. This will stop the cooking process and greatly reduce your chances of over cooking them.
  5. Strain the edamame, getting the majority of the water off of them.
  6. Pour said beans into a medium bowl, and while they are cooled, but still damp, season with the red pepper, onion and garlic salt, salt and pepper to your tastes.
  7. Toss edamame in your seasoning mixture, lightly coating all the pods.

I went ahead and (before I could eat them all in one sitting) put them in plastic bags because these make most excellent office snacks. Much better than Doritos.

20131117_211154

Now store them in the fridge and bask in the glory of knowing that you can satisfy your salt cravings without derailing your new healthy lifestyle.

Taking My Own Advice

So it figures that, not three days after my rant on healthy food as fuel goes up on this very blog, I break my own rules.

Hey now, I’m only human.

I took Friday off to rest my ankle, because I was feeling some pinching and tightness near an old injury, and I didn’t want to push it. I’m going to test my shoes this week and make sure I don’t need a new pair yet.

Saturday we went to Austin for a family picnic and I took the opportunity to have lunch with my girls. I allowed myself an indulgence of a delicious burger and fries with a beer (No Label Brewing’s Pale Horse, if you were curious) and figured I would be find for my run the next day as long as I behaved at the party we were going to.20131109_142146

Well it turns out my stomach has shrunk quite a bit, because when we got to the party I was so full I couldn’t eat a bite. I did however partake in a few beers (it was  a party after all) and though I tried to drink a lot of water, It was harder than I thought it would be without my trusty 20 ounce water bottle.

Moral of the story: I got back home for my run on Sunday and even though I had dedicatedly drank at least 40 ounces of water that morning, the first couple miles of my run were tough. It could have been a lot of things, including the dehydration, or the fact that I was running on an empty stomach. Oops. Lesson learned.

That being said. I did make my 4 miles, even though the first couple miles were tough. I’m still trying to focus on controlling my speed, and even though I felt like I did terrible during this run, I was able to maintain a slower, but more consistent pace through the run, which I am happy with.Screenshot_2013-11-10-17-10-29

So all in all, I like to think I succeeded in turning a bad situation around, learning from the mistakes that got me there, and swearing off alcohol and burgers on the day before a long run.

Considering how much my family (and I) enjoy eating, training during this holiday season might be harder that I originally planned.

Running Song of the Week (RSOTW?)

If you know me at all, you know that I love everything ever written by Panic! At The Disco. This song has been playing on my work playlists for a while, and they even performed it when I saw them in concert back in October, but it didn’t strike me as a running song until it came on my Songza station while I was out this week. It’s called Ready to Go [Get Me Out of My Mind] and it is a great representation of how I feel in my training right now. I hope you enjoy it, and it inspires you to get out and start pounding pavement!

Favorite Lyrics: 

All of them. Really.

Hello There!

Wow, hi strangers. Sorry about the radio silence. I would say that life has been crazy busy, but I’m trying to stop using that as an excuse so I’ll be honest – I just haven’t had the motivation to write.

Quick Recap:

This summer was fun. I went to the lake with my family, got a nice sunburn (and subsequent tan), ate and had way too much fun in the process and then took up running.

Like how I stuck that in there? Yep, you heard me right. I have started running.

Well. I’ve started pretending to run. I signed up for a 5K in November. I’m hoping the fact that it’s the Shiner Beer Run will help motivate me to get ready for it. I have been really trying to get out to a nearby park to run in the evenings when it’s not too hot, but I never realized how many factors during your day could affect a run. It’s definitely a lot harder than I thought, but I feel really good afterwards.

Right now my PR for distance is 2.39 and my best average pace has been a 13:38/miles. Oddly enough, those occurred on the same run early in July.

julia prior will run for beer

Pretty much, yeah.

Let’s see, what else has been going on. 

I joined back up with my boot camp this week. My second class is tonight and I am -still- sore from Tuesday. Guess I needed to get back to it more than I thought. Woops.

And for posterity, here are a couple “before” pictures and my starting measurements.

Arms: 13.5 inches
Chest: 42.5 inches
Waist: 39 inches
Hips/Butt: 45 inches
Thighs: 23.25 inches

Raise your hand if you were surprised my chest wasn’t the largest. –raises hand–

before texas fit chicks

My session will last through February, so for once I’m actually not really concerned about gaining weight during the holidays.

In the meantime, I am hoping to start posting on a more regular basis. More of the same things as before. Personal stories, recipes, random motivational pictures. You know, the usual, with my own spin on it.

I hope you enjoy!

Ending a Year-Long Relationship

So, in the interest of full disclosure, I feel the need to be honest with y’all.

On Friday afternoon, I canceled my WeightWatchers account.

Between boot camp, the new exercises I’m doing, and the meal plans, I just wasn’t using the tools anymore and I finally decided it was time to stop paying for them.

I did not stop using WeightWatchers because it didn’t work. WeightWatchers taught me about portion control, and gave me a huge step in the right direction when I was ready for a change in my life but didn’t know where to start. Now that I have the ball rolling, I don’t feel the need for the monthly service anymore.

So there’s that. WeightWatchers got me to start cooking my own food, and to start caring what was in the food I put in my body, and how it effected my body.

For that, I’ll always recommend WeightWatchers to people who are looking for a place to start their weight loss journey.

Boot Camp: Not-So-Final Results

So my boot camp ended a few weeks ago, but I’m still sticking to their meal plan and work out schedule as best I can. It’s a lot harder when I don’t have that amazing group of women (and of course my trainer) expecting me at class three times a week.

But here are my results.

I lost 1 inch in my bust, 2 inches from my hips and 3 inches from my waist.

I still feel fantastic (even after the junk-food-fest that was my Memorial Day and then Free Press Summer Fest weekends).

I did gain 2 pounds, but I’m convinced that that’s because I gained a ton of muscle over the past 2 months. I feel stronger, more capable and more confident. I no longer look at those fitness challenges on Pinterest and laugh, in fact, this month (June) I am doing a 30 day squat challenge. By the end of the month I will be able to do 250 squats.

But you’ll notice I’ve very conspicuously avoided calling these my “Final Results”. I’ve rediscovered my love of working out. I’m going to keep going. And I’m going to be putting my pennies in a jar in the hopes of signing up for boot camp on a recurring basis. Because as much as I hated doing burpees, hill runs and tabatas, I miss the way it made me feel – strong.

And if you live in Houston, San Antonio or Dallas, and are looking for a great boot camp experience. I cannot recommend Texas Fit Chicks enough. They are encouraging, supportive and still know how to push you to be your best, all while holding you accountable to your personal goals.

Happy Monday! Oh and here’s a few more pictures from last weekend because I am still recovering. 🙂

FPSF is held in the shadow of downtown Houston. I can never get enough of this skyline.

FPSF is held in the shadow of downtown Houston. I can never get enough of this skyline.

With Adam's sister Allison. Because sweaty music festival pictures are always in style.

With Adam’s sister Allison. Because sweaty music festival pictures are always in style.

4/5ths of the group on day 2.

4/5ths of the group on day 2.

Recipe Spotlight: Marinated Shrimp

This is a really easy weeknight meal that tastes delicious. Seriously, it took me less than an hour from the moment I took the shrimp out of the freezer to the moment I put it on the plate.

20130605_184241

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder (you could also substitute this with 1/2 tablespoon of regular chili powder if you can’t find ancho, but you should be able to find it in the spice aisle at Kroger.)
  • Brown Rice (optional)
  • Jerk BBQ Sauce (optional)

Okay. So here we go.

  1. To thaw the shrimp, put the amount you want in a Ziploc bag and place in a sink of lukewarm water.
  2. Mix together the olive oil, pressed garlic, ancho chili powder and onion powder in a large bowl.
  3. Peel the thawed shrimp and put them in the bowl with the marinade. Incorporate the shrimp thoroughly with the marinade, and let sit for 10-20 minutes.
  4. (At this point, I threw a bag of partly cooked brown rice in the microwave in a casserole dish of water).
  5. Once the shrimp is fully marinated, take a little of the oil from the marinade and throw it in a medium skillet. Put the head on medium high.
  6. Once the oil is bubbling slightly, place the shrimp in it. (I drained off the excess oil and marinade, but you can definitely use it to make a yummy sauce for when you are done).
  7. Cook the shrimp thoroughly, mixing with a wooden spoon constantly.
  8. Serve over the brown rice, or with veggies or even a salad. I topped it with a spicy and sweet jerk bbq sauce I found at my local farmer’s market a few months ago.

Enjoy!

Recipe Spotlight: Jalapeno Lime & Cilantro Shrimp

One of the great side effects of me eating a lot healthier and focusing on what is in my food is that I’m cooking at home a lot more. Which means I am trying new recipes and experimenting with new ways of cooking my favorite ingredients.

The bad news is that sometimes I serve my recipe tester slightly under cooked rice. Sorry, Adam!

I found this recipe on a website called Alaska from Scratch, which features a lot of really great recipes using fresh ingredients. We had it for a midweek dinner this week and I really enjoyed it. It was filling, but didn’t leave you feeling greasy or bloated.

IMG_20130508_192357

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes – optional, I didn’t have any on hand, so I just left them out.
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced – Pro tip: The more membrane you leave behind, the spicier your jalapeño will be! Also, don’t touch your face after seeding it. Trust me on this one.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped – I used roma tomatoes because I like the flavor better.
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled (I removed the tails, but that is up to your preference)
  • 1 lime, zested
  • juice of half the lime
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • lime wedges, for serving

This recipe is pretty simple, despite the number of ingredients involved. It’s worth it I promise!

To a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil and butter. Stir in the red chile flakes.

Saute the onions and jalapeño until tender, 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, but not browned, about 1 minute.

Toss in the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes begin to break down and release their juices, another 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

Then, add the shrimp to the skillet and season with salt, cooking and tossing until shrimp just turn pink and are cooked through but still tender, being careful not to overcook.

Add the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as needed. Serve promptly.

I served this over brown rice, but it would be delicious with almost anything, and even on its own! I really think this would be wonderful inside corn tortillas.

I couldn’t help but thinking while I was cooking that this would have been delicious with an ice-cold Tecate.