Day # 7

So it has officially been 1 week! I am one week into this challenge and man do I feel great! The time seems to have gone by fairly quickly. The exercises have been pretty intense and I’m looking forward to the ones that are still to come. I feel so good boy inside and out! I I’m starting to notice small changes in myself, and they make me so happy. Seeing even the smallest changes in myself makes me feel so good about myself. The changes are all related to my exercising, such getting just a little bit more flexible and seeing things that used to be so difficult getting easier. I’m getting stronger and I love it!

I’m still struggling a bit with the healthy eating side of things. The most important aspect, planning ahead is still something I’m struggling with. I know I will get better at it I just need to be more proactive. I’m a bit of a picky eater so that doesn’t really help all that much. I have been forcing myself to try new things but my pickiness has made it hard to get in all of the important things. The one I’ve been struggling with the most is getting my good source of fat. One of the easiest ways to get this is through eating nuts, which is one food that I, thoroughly not a fan of. When it comes to nuts I’m only really a fan of peanuts, I avoid all the others like the plague.

I’m looking forward to everything to come with his challenge! It’s going to be hard, but I know I can do it and in the end it’s all going to pay off. I already feel so good about myself and it’s just going to get better.

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Day # 5

Yesterday was day 5. I chose to take a bit of a me day yesterday. While I still did my exercising and healthy eating, I decided to take a bit of a break from the rest of my life to just relax. It was great! I definitely needed some good old fashioned R&R. It’s also a great feeling to know that I can still stick to my healthy clean living routine and still take some me time. It was really good to just relax and do something purely for my enjoyment. I did a little baking and some knitting (do I sound like a 50s housewife?) and it was awesome. I really enjoy being able to take some time to myself and do things that I enjoy, yet still follow my plans to be healthy and live cleanly. It’s pretty incredible! Taking a me day yesterday also meant that I was able to plan ahead for me week. The baking I did was preparation for next week. I made some granola bars and protein bars that I will be able to snack on all week. I’m very big in organizing so knowing that I have lots of snacks for the week makes me feel really good. It’s one less thing for me to worry about. I have yet to try my protein bars as they are currently chilling in my freezer, but the granola bars turned out really good and tasty. I almost want to gorge myself on them they are so good, but I know that is not a good idea and its 100% not a good way to continue my healthy and clean eating challenge. My favourite thing about them is that they are a great way for me to get my daily chocolate fix while still eating clean and healthy. I don’t need to feel guilty about what I’m putting into my body. I know what is in the granola bars because I made them myself and it is all good things. If you want to try making them the recipe is in my recipes that I like post. Otherwise here is a pic of how well they turned out.

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Day # 4

Today marks day 4. It’s been a great day. I’ve been so productive! I visited with one of my best friends and still managed to clean my apartment before going to work for the evening. It was great! I love that feeling of being accomplished! It’s been such a long time since I’ve been this productive and man did I miss that feeling. Since starting this challenge I’ve honestly felt like I’ve had so much more energy and motivation to get stuff done. This challenge has been a blessing in so many ways and I’m so glad that started it!

One of the biggest challenges for today is that I am work all night until 1am and will therefore have to fight the urge to snack out of bored. To combat that I’ve only packed a few healthy snacks such as fruit vegetables and some peanuts. I’m hoping that I can curb my appetite, but if I do have to give in at least I am only surrounded by heathy options. There is not sense in denying my body, but there is a difference between snacking because I’m genuinely hungry and snacking because I need something to do.

Since I’m at work tonight and will be mostly eating leftovers I think that my featured meal today will be the dinner I cooked last night. Last night I made pesto chicken spaghetti squash lasagna. It was delicious and incredibly easy. The only downside was the amount of time it took to cook, but that is something I can plan around for next time. It’s a great way to get all the important nutrients such as protein, good fats and vegetables all in one go. As a busy young professional easy recipes make my life so much easier. And makes me believe that even on my busiest of days I can still eat in a healthy way. So for anyone who is interested here is a pic of the final product. I didn’t use cheese and I chose to omit the ricotta (I didn’t have any on hand) and the tomatoes and tomato sauce (because I hate them and no one can ever make me eat that evil weird fruit vegetable thing). I’m not lactose intolerant and I’m not particularly concerned with dairy products they are pretty much my favourite food group, but in the interest of health I have simply been trying to moderate the amount of dairy I have been ingesting.

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Recipes I’ve enjoyed

I figure as I’m learning I should spread the wealth so here are a few recipes that I have enjoyed! 

Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash 

http://www.feastie.com/recipe/peas-crayons/cheesy-pesto-chicken-lasagna-stuffed-spaghetti-squash 

Banana Pancakes 

http://glutenfreefix.com/3-ingredient-banana-pancakes/2403/ 

Spinach and Tomato Stuffed Spaghetti Squash 

http://bsinthekitchen.com/spinach-tomato-goat-cheese-stuffed-spaghetti-squash/ 

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges 

http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,10000000522028,00.html 

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Granola Bars 

http://www.averiecooks.com/2014/05/no-bake-double-chocolate-peanut-butter-granola-bars.html

Sweet Potato and Spinach Quesadillas 

http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,50400000120341,00.html

Spaghetti Carbonara for One

http://www.eatliverun.com/spaghetti-carbonara-for-one/

Microwave Macaroni and Cheese for One

http://www.ellaclaireinspired.com/homemade-single-serve-microwave/

10 Minute Microwave Risotto

http://www.brit.co/microwave-risotto/

Spaghetti Squash Curry with Roasted Cickpeas

http://makingniceinthemidwest.com/2013/10/10/spaghetti-squash-curry-with-roasted-chickpeas/

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce 

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/09/pasta-with-tomato-cream-sauce/

Butternut Squash Fettuccine Alfredo

http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/11/16/butternut-squash-browned-butter-and-rosemary-fettucini-alfredo/

Cacio e Pepe

http://www.tablefortwoblog.com/cacio-e-pepe/#.Uw6muPldXd-

Beef Stroganoff

http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/easy-beef-stroganoff-recipe/

Bacon Asparagus Pasta

http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/5-ingredient-bacon-asparagus-pasta-recipe/

Sautéed Garlic Asparagus

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/sauteed-garlic-asparagus/

Garlic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/garlic-roasted-sweet-potatoes#.

No Bake Protien Bars

http://ohsheglows.com/2013/08/29/quick-n-easy-no-bake-protein-bars/

Potato and Leek Rosti

http://parentables.howstuffworks.com/chow/potato-and-leek-rosti.html

Balsamic Onion-Topped Pork Chops with Crisp Garlic Potatoes

Serves 4

Recipe by Teri Tsang Barrett 

INGREDIENTS
2 pounds small russet potatoes (6 to 7)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Four 4-ounce boneless pork chops
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

PROCEDURE
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Peel and cut the potatoes into 3/4-inch pieces and toss on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet with 5 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Spread in a single, even layer and roast, turning every 15 minutes, until browned and crisp, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with the parsley. 

Meanwhile, in a large cast iron skillet*, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Pat the the pork chops dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, then add to the pan and cook, turning once, until browned and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. 

In the same skillet, add the onion and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until softened and just browned, about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then add the vinegar and bring to a boil; stir in any juices from the pork. Cook until thickened slightly and reduced to about 1/4 cup, 3 to 4 minutes. 

Divide the pork and potatoes among 4 plates, then spoon the balsamic-onion sauce over the pork.

*Note: A cast iron skillet works best because it retains heat, which means your pan won’t cool down as much after the pork is added and you’ll end up with a better sear. But, if you don’t have a cast iron you can use a 12-inch stainless steel skillet instead.

Day # 3

Yesterday was day 3 of my 30 day challenge and man did I learn a lot! My body is slowly getting used to exercising again and it no longer hurts as much. It’s still sore and I’m no where near in shape yet, but I am noticing some progress. It’s great! I finally feel like this is starting to pay off. I’m building a habit and I love it!

I also decided to try my hand at new recipe, and it was only a minor disaster. Cooking has never been my strong suit, if I can avoid cooking I will. Any opportunity to have someone else cook for me is wonderful! Unfortunately living by myself means I need to try to learn to cook for myself. That is one of my biggest motivations for doing this challenge, I need to learn to cook for myself and to do so in a healthy way. So I decided to make my own banana pancakes. The final product was wonderful, but the process was a nightmare. The first mistake I made was to use vegetable oil to grease my pan. Yup not doing that again! My first pancake turned out as a half cooked, super burnt mess (check out this picture)

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The next thing I learned was that due to the different consistency of the batter the pancakes took forever to cook! I had to cook that at a super low temperature to avoid burning them (I learned my lesson the first time) and that meant that they cooked very slowly. The final product was very worth it, but man did it take a while. I have learned that trying new recipes that don’t actually have a specific cooking time on them (that should have been a no brainer, duh!) is probably best left for days when I have no other plans besides staying at home. It took me about 2 hours to actually finish the recipe and have something edible (that includes the time it took me to make all my mistakes and stuff). In the end the pancakes were quite tasty even if the experience in cooking was an ordeal. Here is the final product.

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Since the majority of this post is about my ordeal with my banana pancakes I’ll leave those as the featured recipe for this post.

Day # 2

Day 2 has gone much better than day 1. I finally picked up my Arbonne order so now I can actually take my protein shakes and participate in the Arbonne side of the challenge and I’m super excited. I have also learned my lesson in not putting things off and being prepared. Choosing to commute and wait outside in the blistering -25 windchill in Toronto was not a good idea. LESSON LEARNED!

In other news my body absolutely hates me after the first day of exercising. Everything hurts, specifically my butt. It’s a good pain it means that I am on track and getting into shape, and man does it appear I need to get into shape! Getting out of bed this morning was a huge accomplishment. Every muscle in my body rebelled against me, but I did it and I survived today’s exercise routine. Everything felt like jelly, but it was worth it.

I’m going to start posting a featured meal that I really enjoyed each day. Today’s feature will be my breakfast. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try some Greek yogurt. It turned out really well. I put sunflower seeds and raisins in it and it was really good. Exactly the start to the day I needed.

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My Goals

Right off the bat I want to make it clear that I am not trying to loose weight. I am actually quite happy with my body, but now that I am living on my own I want to learn how to live healthier and eat healthier. I want to take that away from this challenge. I want to learn better ways of eating and some healthier food options as well as some good exercise techniques. I want to make sure that I stay in shape and am healthy to prevent any complications with my health further down the road. My family has a history of diabetes (among other things) and if I can prevent this from occurring later in my life I need to take action now! In the spirit of good fun I am going to post a before photo ( and later and after photo) in order to track any progress I make in gaining muscles and getting into better shape. Continue reading

Day # 1

So day 1 of my 30 days to a happier and healthier me challenge has taught me so much. The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that when starting one of these types of challenges is to always prepare ahead! I felt so silly for being so unprepared, like seriously next level unpreparedness. This is the list of things I probably should have prepared for.

1) I should have picked up my Arbonne order on time!
This challenge is based around the Arbonne nutrition line, so I purchased the ASVP (Arbonne Special Value Pack) and was all set. I had my order sent to the will call office in Mississauga assuming I’d be able to pick it up on time. Then life got in the way and I ended up not being able to pick it up on time. While not having my order on time wasn’t too big of a deal, it kind of felt like I was missing out. Everyone participating in the challenge started posting recipes involving protium shakes and such and I felt this need to get involved and try these shakes. I was so excited to try the nutrition line and having to wait until I have time to pick up my order was a bit of a let down. In putting off picking up my order I’ve also got to suffer in the extreme -25 wind chill in Toronto. They say hindsight is 20/20 and I’ve 100% learned my lesson not to put things off!

2) Buy groceries ahead of time
This also ties into the whole trying the new recipes that people have shared train of thought. The way that the suggested meal plans have been set up is that they focus on getting protein, vegetables and good fat in each meal. Before starting this challenge I hadn’t purchased groceries in about 2 weeks, BAD IDEA! I had almost no food in my kitchen let alone healthy options. I had the smallest and most rag tag breakfast that I could manage. I made oatmeal, with peanuts and an orange. It was good and filling, but not as exciting as the recipes that were being posted. I also was unable to plan meals for my day. I did buy my groceries once I finished my breakfast which in itself was very exciting trying to find new fun recipes, but it was very rushed because I just wanted to be done so I could try my new suggested recipes. Lesson learned plan ahead buy groceries!

Essentially I learned when trying to eat healthier you absolutely need to plan ahead! I am a very detail oriented person and I am usually quite good at planning ahead, but in this case it just slipped my mind. I was very prepared for the exceeding portion of the challenge. I had my exercise clothes all ready for me in the morning and I had my water ready I was all set, but for the healthy clean eating side of things I was so not ready!