Sunday, May 15, 2011

Measuring Success

It's only natural that when we commit ourselves to any lifestyle change that we insist on results to keep us motivated.  So what deems a successful measurement?

I can tell you that after six weeks of eating clean and working out I have lost 4 lbs and total of  5" off my bust, hips, thigh, and waist areas.

Reading that last sentence, you're probably wondering if I'm ready to throw in the towel.  Aren't we constantly inundated with people miraculously losing 15-20 lbs of weight in the first month of the newest diet fad?  Look at my results.  Is this success?   ABSOLUTELY!!!!

Why?  Well, first off I'm 5'8 and 141 lbs so I know my body is going to lose excess body fat slowly but in return sculpt defined muscle mass.  Any rapid weight loss will only result in rapid weight gain the next time I smell a cookie.  That's what's wrong with diet fads.  This is a lifestyle change.  I'm feeding my body with energy and resistance and in return it will reward me with strength.

Secondly, success can be measured beyond the scales and tape measures.  Let me give you some better numbers to judge by:
6- the number of weeks of been respecting my body by eating clean and making it work
4- the number of consecutive weeks I've been increasing my weights at the gym
9, 7, 5 - nine is the dress size I was before I started.  Seven is the size of pants I bought two weeks ago.  Five is the size of the dress I bought last Friday.
14- pieces of clothing I've given to Goodwill because they were too big and not able to be altered.
152- the number of wonderful, witty, determined, motivational women that belong to a fitness/clean eating online group I am lucky to be a part of.
4- the minimum number of days I work out at the gym (up from 0 two months ago)
6- the number of delicious meals I eat per day
1- the notch I moved to tighten up my belt
2- the number of sizes I had exchange my new birthday jeans for.  You can see them here!

Now add in some non-measureable successes like the confidence I feel and the good mood I always wake up in, the energy I feel throughout the day, the ability to accept compliments instead of brushing them off with self depricating comments, and the amazing knowledge I've gained to be able to listen to my body.  I know when it feels healthy, hungry and when I can push it even further and when I need to back off to prevent injury. 

My point is that there's more to success than numbers on a scale.  I feed my body with good food and my mind with happiness knowing that I'm not just on my way to total transformation, but that I'm doing it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chocolate Spiked Oatmeal Cookies

I used this recipe from The Best of Clean Eating magazine cookbook to make some delicious treats for company on the weekend.  Our family loved them!  Well, to be honest, my youngest son didn't favor them, I think he preferred the treats in his Easter basket.  But they were a big hit with my oldest son, my husband, my parents and myself.  They do have more of a granola bar texture, but the addition of the dark chocolate chips gives it that cookie splurge feeling.  Next time I'll make up a batch with unsweetened cranberries too.  Big thumbs up for these.

You can find this recipe and so many others on the the Clean Eating magazine website
I highly recommend picking up their cookbook


  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 cups quick-cook old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 tsp unsalted almond butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dark bittersweet chocolate chips (about 40 grams)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together agave, egg white, almond butter and vanilla.
  4. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients all at once and combine. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Divide batter equally into 16 mounds (about 1 rounded tbsp in size) and arrange evenly spaced on prepared baking sheets. Using the back of a slightly dampened spoon, flatten each mound into 2 1/2-inch circles. Bake 9 to 10 minutes, until golden. Cool on sheets for an additional 10 minutes before transferring to racks to cool completely. Stored in an airtight container, cookies will keep fresh for 2 to 3 days.
Nutrients per 2 cookies: Calories: 170, Total Fat: 3.5 g, Sat. Fat: 1 g, Carbs: 35 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugars: 18 g, Protein: 3 g, Sodium: 75 mg, Cholesterol: 0 mg

Just a note:  the recipe yields 16.  I got 14 out of a batch.  I didn't flatten mine quite as much as it instructed, and I was pleased to see that they do plump up a bit during baking.

I divided the batter up before dropping them by the spoonful on the cookie sheet.

Fresh from the oven.  Mmmmmm....they smelled so good.
Everyone came into the kitchen asking when they'd be ready to eat.

Three weeks of Eating Clean

If someone told me that in three weeks I would totally change my habits about food and not only look forward to more food prep, going to the gym and be happy about how I feel about myself, I would have thought that wasn't enough time for such big overall changes in a person.  But I'm here to tell you that that's exactly what has happened.

Everyday I'm learning new ways to combine food and to make better grocery shopping decisions.  We have decided as a family to not go completely organic, mostly in our meats, but our sugar, pesticide and chemical consumption has fallen drastically.  For myself and my husband, we have not had any white sugar in 21 days.  Our family has always chosen whole wheat and grain bread over white so we've focused on changing our other starchy choices, like when it comes to pastas and rice.

Meal planning has become second nature.  I've learned to make delicious ordinary meals at home and to eat out and be satisfied.  I know that what I put into my body is more about health and disease prevention and with that I am starting to reap the rewards of a clean body.

I did have some moments of doubt in the first two weeks because that scale barely moved. Now before you tell me to throw away that scale, I know I need to.  Its been hard since I've relied on it for 30 years.  I'll get there one day.  I chatted with some wonderful long time  EC'ers (Eating Clean) and they assured me that my body was going through an adjustment period and since I don't have alot of weight to lose, the kickstart may take longer.  They were right.  Hardly any movement in weight and measurements the first 2 weeks, and this week BAM I'm down 4 lbs and have inches lost.

Even better is the way I feel.  Energetic, strong, tall and proud.  Feeding the body properly is euphoric.

I'm seeing mindful eating in my children and I'm so proud of my husband who is also doing awesome with this lifestyle.  He's feeling great and he's getting plenty to eat  lol.  We are a busy family and we're making this work.

I can't wait to see the transformation the next 3 weeks will bring.  My focus will be more on the strength training.  I want definition in my back and shoulders! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Raspberry Smoothie

This was my first attempt at improvising a smoothie.  It was yummy, and definitely a great healthy snack option.  I think next time I'll throw in some banana to try something different.

1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 cup water
1/4 cup low fat plain vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup frozen raspberries 
blend and serve!  Makes 1 serving

When I doubled the recipe to make this for me and my husband, I didn't quite double the protein powder.  Just our preference.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 14/11 Meal Plan

Blue-protein    Pink-starchy carb    Green-fibrous carb    Purple-simple carbs   Orange-healthy fats

Breakfast: 1/2c uncooked oats, cooked with 1 tbsp flaxseed.  Two egg whites

Midmorning:  raspberry smoothie (I'll post my recipe).  Protein powder, water, plain low-fat yogurt, raspberries, cocoa powder

Lunch: Chicken wrap - whole wheat grain wrap, chicken breast, fresh spinach, cucumber, hummus.  Cooked zucchini on the side.

Midafternoon: scant handful of unsalted, raw almonds (yum), apple

Supper: baked haddock, asparagus, brown rice cooked in low sodium chicken stock

Evening Snack:  energy bar (recipe posted in 'snacks')

also 1 cup of green tea and water, water, water

Clean Eats Journal

This is one of the best health journals I've ever seen.  Track your nutrition, fitness, sleep and even your preplanned treats.  Everything is brilliantly color coded.  Plan your meals around proteins (blue) and incorporate your complex carbs, healthy fats and supplements.  Get in all of your daily eat-clean requirements.

Here's the blank journal

And this link will show you some sample entries

My Gym Personality

I had an amazing workout today. I knew I would love it, but it took 2 hours to convince myself to go. I had every intention of taking my son to school then head straight to the gym since I didn't have to work today. Well we all woke up to an awful spring blizzard (Mother Nature has a warped sense of humor lol). My husband took my son to school, so without HAVING to go outside, I was quite content to stay indoors and warm. Silly part of it was that I really WANTED to go to the gym. So I started to think about my gym personality. I really do prefer to hit the gym when I'm coming from or going to somewhere else, which is my normal routine. Its so hard to convince myself to get it together and go when the only purpose I have for leaving the house is to go just there. When I'm there, I'm loving it! I'm seeing my body transform and I'm stronger every day and that's such a rush.

While I was at the gym today, and thinking about how ridiculous it was to get me motivated to make the 4 minute drive, I started thinking about the reality of the fact that I live in Alberta and ...hello!!!....we have some pretty wicked winters. So if a spring storm was going to hold me back, what was going to happen to me next winter? Well let me tell ya, that really was an eyeopener for me.  I'm so glad I pushed through that barrier today.

I really enjoy my gym.  We have several nearby so I had quite a variety of choices when I signed up.  There are others that are bigger and with newer equiment and cost less, but I know this is the perfect fit for me.  Location was a big deciding factor.  This place is under 2 minutes from work and about 4 minutes from home.  The instructors are friendly and very knowledgable and it's an all female facility.  Everything I need is right at my fingertips so I'm determined to take full advantage of it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Birthday Splurge!

I turned a proud 41 last Friday!!  Its become a hilarious tradition in our house for Ash, my awesome husband of nearly 20 years, to come shopping with me and transform into his alter ego "Cocoa the Bag Boy"  LOL.  Thankfully he got back into town Friday night from work.  It was his idea to take me for a little retail therapy Saturday afternoon (gotta love him).  I pooled my birthday money together and splurged on a pair of Miss Me jeans that I've been eyeing.  Part of me wondered if I should get a size smaller since I was enjoying this cleaner way of eating.  But I resisted that temptation. 

They are so decadent.  The back pockets and front pocket are adorned with crystals.  Blinding bling everywhere!!  hahaha  The construction is amazing too.  They're the perfect birthday gift for this fashion momma!  I can't wait to wear them out.  Now I'm eyeing a few different styles on their website.  Maybe this could be my incentive my wishful body transformation.  Hmmmm......

Energy Bars

April 15th update:  Pictures now added!

This snack was loved by everyone in my family.  Its quick and easy to make and there's no baking.  I do have pictures that I will add to this post...just as soon as Brad gives me back the camera batteries that he borrowed to play his Playstation Tony Hawk skateboarding game  LOL

2 1/2 cups old fashioned quick oats
1/2 cup whole flax seed
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey because I don't have organic cocoa)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 to 1 cup HOT water (I found that boiled water from the kettle works best since it plumps up the oatmeal and makes the bars a little thicker in consistency.  I used pretty close to the full cup.  Add slowly so you don't add more than needed).

Stir all ingredients together.  Form into individual sized patties (like hamburgers).  Wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge or freezer.

TIPS:  these were incredibly sticky to form into patties.  Next time I'll either spray my hands with Pam, use measuring scoops to form the patties in, or press into a pan (sprayed with Pam) and cut into squares.

I made 8 individual servings from one batch.  Each was the size of a small hamburger.  Myself, my boys and my husband all agreed that they could be made a bit smaller.  These delicious protein snacks are very filling. 

(this recipe was found on Tosca Reno's forum.  I'm so sorry I don't know who the original poster was.  I would love to give credit where credit is due!)

Start of week 2

I can't exclaim enough about how amazing I feel.  I've been off sugar and eating clean for a week now.  In there was my birthday, eating out twice (a rarity for me!), gym fly-by's, and an unusually hectic schedule since my hubby was out of town training for a new job and I still had to get the boys to their sports in the evenings.

I can not stress enough how vital pre-planning is to healthy eating.  Not only with food, but with your time.  Small changes led to a very successful week.  I knew I couldn't get to the gym in the evenings like I'm used to because the boys needed me at home.  To compensate, I planned ahead to go to the gym during my lunch hour at work.  That also meant preplanning work meals that were quick, easy and healthy and could be eaten at my desk if necessary.  Taking a few minutes the night before to sort out my upcoming day was the key to a stressless first week.  Yay!

So what were my results you ask?  Well, honestly I was disappointed this morning that I didn't see better results.  But then today when I was on the treadmill at the gym, instead of watching the TV in front of me I spent some time mentally recalling my goals.  Yes I want the well-defined physique, but I also want a life time of the best health possible.  I would ideally love to lose those last 10 lbs, so ANY fat loss and muscle gain is an instant WIN.  I did lose 2 lbs this week and an inch overall (hips, thighs, waist, biceps).  I already see it.  I feel it.  I'm ready for more!

Ok week 2, watch out because I'm on a roll!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

First Challenge

I was worried about last night.  I was invited to go for an evening seminar with work and as pleased as I was to have a night out in a posh restaurant talking about the latest medical/spa skin products, I wasn't sure how I would handle the food temptations.  I mean, I had only been clean eating for 3 days and now I felt like I was walking into a cupcake shop.

We were given a delectible, but limited menu to choose our three courses from.  I took a moment to remind myself how great I had been feeling and what my goals were, and then I started to read that menu.  Appetizers were ceasar salad or french onion soup.  Dinner was sirloin with brocolli and whipped potatoes, grilled chicken with risotto or salmon and potatoes.  Dessert was ....gee, now I can't even remember because I told myself I didn't need dessert so I completely skipped over reading that part.  I did try and talk to the waiter about cooking options, but it became evident quickly that the menu preparation would not be altered, you had to take it as it was served.  I think I made some great choices.  First I paid no attention to the bread and butter being offered around the table.  I had the french onion soup and removed the cheese and bread from it before eating.  Then I had the sirloin dish. I chose that dinner because it was the one without any accompanying sauce.  I only ate about half the steak with the brocolli, I left the whipped potatoes alone because of the butter and also honestly because I just didn't have the carb cravings I usually do.  I was beaming with amazement when I realized that it didn't bother me at all to be the only one not eating dessert.  I didn't crave it and I didn't miss it.  It wasn't even an issue to deal with.  After dinner I had my first ever cup of black coffee.  No sugar, no milk.  That first sip was an adjustment, but enjoyable.  I didn't miss the sweet java I usually have.  Wow, that was a pretty powerful eating experience.  To come away feeling extremely satisfied, energized and proud of myself, I can't tell you how much that skyrocketed my motivation.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Highs and Lows of day 1

The day certainly had its challenges, but remarkable, most of them were not hunger related.  My meals were prepared as planned and I closed my kitchen after my last meal.  I'm finishing a very hectic day with a sugar-free/milk-free cup of green tea and a highly energetic basketball game on TV  (Go Butler!). 

 Today I tried flaxseed for the first time.  I ground about a cup of it in a coffee grinder last night.  For breakfast I put about half a tablespoon in my oatmeal.  I was timid to try it, but I enjoyed the extra texture so tomorrow I won't hesitate to add a full tablespoon.  Why flaxseed?  I'll do a more indepth post on it this week, but its a great source of fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids.  The more I discover about it, the more impressed I am with the health benefits.  I couldn't find my cinnamon so I added a teaspoon of sugar free applesauce.  Since I never was one to put sugar on my oatmeal, I can't say I was wowed by the sweetness the applesauce gave it.  It was mild, but I'll do without it tomorrow.

The biggest challenge I faced today was eating every 2.5-3 hours.  I work part time as a medical receptionist and Mondays are nothing short of warp speed.  I have to eat at my desk since the only break I get is lunchtime, but I managed.  I got my midmorning, lunch and midafternoon meals in before 4:30.  An hour later than I hoped, but it all worked out.  I even got to the gym at lunchtime today since I knew my evening would be preoccupied with football practice for Jesse.

Today's low came at about 5:30.  I had eaten an hour ago at the office and I was now home, but I was feeling a little out of sorts.  Some people are night time snackers, but for me I'm at my worst when I walk in the door after work, before supper.  I wouldn't think twice to eat handfuls and handfuls of crackers before dinner was ready.  So I really felt that today.  That after work simple carb void.  Luckily I had to leave in 30 minutes to get my son where he needed to go.  That kept me busy.  I got him to football, came home and had my supper (in case you were wondering, that burnt brown rice tasted....well...smoky  LOL) and I felt much better after that.

Oh!  I almost forgot to mention sweet potatoes!  Y-U-M!!  Probably the best thing I ate today.  I baked it last night in the microwave, like I do with my regular potatoes.  I scooped it out of the skin and put it in a container with chopped up chicken and spinach.  I heated it up at work for my lunch.  The combination was so tasty.

All in all a completely sugar free day loaded with healthy proteins and complex carbs. Tomorrow I will be following the same meal plan since I precooked enough of those foods for a couple of days. I'll remember to take some measurements in the morning too.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Meal prepping...and a little kitchen smoke

If you're familiar at all with the Eat-Clean books, you'll know about the different cooler options. For those that don't, the concept is simple. "Coolers" are simply different clean eating meal plans. Cooler 1 is a plateau kicking and/or rapid results plan. Cooler 2 is for ongoing weightloss and maintenance. Cooler 3 is an introduction to clean eating. There are also Family, Vegan and Gluten-Free meal plans included in the Recharge book.

My short term goal is to successfully complete 7 days on the Cooler 1 plan. Since two weeks is the maximum to stay on Cooler 1, my plan is to simply incorporate clean eating in our family lifestyle after this kickstart.

I just prepped a bunch of foods for myself for the next few days.

....did I mention I don't cook???? Ya, that's right. I married a wonderful man who enjoys the kitchen. Nearly 20 years of marriage and I've pretty much managed to avoid the oven. So believe me this is going to be a learning experience.

Learning experience number one.....don't forget the pot of brown rice on the stove. At the moment it is soaking in the sink with hopes that the charred black bottom will scrub away and my son says the house smells like cigars. BUT, I did manage to get most of my meals prepped for the next few days. Yay me!

Here's my meal plan for tomorrow, eating every 2.5-3 hours. This is a work day for me so I'll be having three of these meals on the job.

M1. (7:30am) oatmeal, cooked with 1 tbsp ground flaxseed and a pinch of cinnamon, and 2 hardboiled egg whites.

M2. (10:00am) this meal is actually two. I'll eat half of it midmorning and half late afternoon. Can of tuna (in water), chopped apple, bean sprouts, cucumber. Mixed up as a salad.

M3. (12:30pm) chicken breast, 1/2 a sweet potato, fresh spinach and romaine lettuce with a squirt of lemon juice.

M4. (3:30pm) half of M2

M5. (6:30pm) grilled turkey breast, brown rice, steamed broccoli and red pepper

Water with every meal is essential! Cooler 1 does not call for the starchy carb in M5, but did allow it if necessary. I'm going to allow myself to have it. Also, I will allow for green tea midmorning and in the evening. I'm a huge tea drinker. I actually love green tea with no added milk or sugar so I'll be very happy with myself to cut it down to twice a day for this week. Hey, I'm giving up my mochas, so that's something!!

Let's Start Here

The design of the blog is definitely rough around the edges, but that will come in time.  I wanted to get this first post up before the end of the day because my mind is bursting with thoughts, worries, excitement and wonder...all about clean eating.  For the past week I've had my nose buried in Tosca Reno's Clean Eating Recharged book.  The basic elements aren't foreign to me (I know, I know...lay off the simple carbs *sigh*) but I had several A-Ha moments while reading.  First of all, learning HOW to pair complex carbs and proteins for a clean meal and WHICH foods fall into these categories was so informative.  And the big calorie counting!  Really?  Ok, you hooked me. 

And that brings me to today.  Sunday.  A day spent putting together grocery lists and planning a week of meals.  More than anything, I'm ridiculously curious about how this way of eating will affect my body.  I've dieted in one form or another all my life (I'll leave that for another post).  I'm encouraged by the idea of body transformation, not just weightloss.

My Gameplan:
Ok, let me start by saying that I have two wonderful, healthy, HUNGRY boys.   LOL   They are 11 and 14.  I've been talking to them all week about the food changes I'm eager to incorporate into our family.  While they were interested to look at new recipes, my oldest did say to me "so this is not, like, forever. Right?"   Oh that poor boy, I think I traumatized him  LOL.  I have assured them that their favorite foods will not disappear, but we will make better choices more often.  He was good with that.

This week will be easy.  My focus is pretty much on me and the eating clean Cooler 1 plan.  Hubby is away for a week starting a new job and the boys will be well fed without noticing much is different.  I'm going to follow the Cooler 1 plan this week, and if it goes well, for next week too.  Then I'll switch over to Cooler 2 and get hubby on board. 

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