Homemade Bread, Honey, and Yummy Sandwiches

There are a lot of foods I love in this world and three of those just happen to be:

Bread

Sandwiches

Honey

Though, not necessarily in that order.

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I love baking, but I especially love baking breads. All sorts of breads. From french rolls, to sweet breads, to quick breads, to sandwich bread . . . I just love it! Something about the smell of that rich wholesome scent wafting through my house is enough to make me eat the entire loaf right out of the oven, with honey shmeared all over it.

BUT,

I really do try to not consume so much bread, because if I let myself loose I would eat WAY too much of it. I crave breads, I love breads, give me my bread!!! Growing up my mom ALWAYS made homemade wheat bread. It was a tradition I looked forward to (even the last time I went home for a visit she sent me away with a fresh loaf of bread!). Nothing better than coming home from school, opening the door, and smelling freshly made wheat bread. We rarely bought bread from the store – only for special occasions or treats (texas toast, french toast, anyone?). And after moving out of the house, and eventually getting married and becoming queen of the roost in my own home, I would on occasion break out my mom’s bread recipe and whip up a few loaves. I didn’t do it more often because I have always battled the health side of not consuming too much bread (because let’s face it, that loaf didn’t last more than 24 hours).

My mom’s delicious recipe features a blend of whole wheat and all-purpose white flower. A blend that gives the bread a lighter texture and is perfect for making sandwiches, and such. But, because of the use of white flour I once started on a quest for a 100% whole wheat flour bread, but stopped after my few attempts resulted in a dense, dark loaf that wasn’t very palatable or sandwich making material (obviously, sandwiches are my end goal with whole wheat bread).

It wasn’t until a conversation with my husband (pre-costco run) about our  goals of eating healthier, less processed foods, as well as minimizing the amount of treats. He listed food that met this definition (since we do have slightly different definitions, this was important) and part of that was eliminated store-bought breads, crackers, breakfast cereals, white flours, etc. All these foods are highly processed with lots of added ingredients. I then asked him if he wanted me to start grinding our own wheat and making homemade whole wheat bread, and he was down with that! But, that meant finding a recipe that cut out white flour and was truly 100% made from whole wheat flour.

Thus, I resumed my search and VOILA!!! After some extensive research (ok, it wasn’t that extensive) I found an amazing recipe that I tested today as well as tips for getting a light and delicious bread made from whole wheat. I was skeptical at first, but I couldn’t wait until the bread cooled, and sliced into it right away. I was floored! The bread was so soft, but not crumbly, and the taste was very wholesome, nutty, and very delicious – no bricks in my kitchen today! The secret is in letting that whole wheat soak, and giving it the time it needs to rise – serious important steps you shouldn’t skip. You can find the recipe here along with step-by-step picture instructions: King Arthur Flour Classic Whole Wheat Bread

I chose to follow this recipe exactly (though I was short on honey & used real milk instead of dry milk), but next time I am going to sub the oil for melted butter, because I believe butter is good. I am certain this is going to be my staple bread recipe going forward, and am excited to play with it and make some fun variations! I can’t wait for Sam to get home so I can test my bread on him. And guess how I’m going to do that!? By making a sandwich of course:

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I love making sandwiches and I love eating them! And, I do pride myself on making some darn delicious sandwiches. This here beauty features leftover rotisserie chicken, Tillamook cheddar cheese, tomatoes, pickles, spinach, mustard, and hummus. Simple, but highly satisfying :) Seriously, this bread turned out to be PERFECT 100% whole wheat sandwich making bread! And the upside: no preservatives or added stuff. I know exactly what went into my bread and am happy how it turned out!

And now . . . HONEY!!!

Did you know that there is quite a controversy over Honey in the United States and whether or not the honey you are buying from the store is actually 100% real honey??? For more information, check out this article here. Totally blew my mind and so I was happy when I used the last of my store-bought generic honey. I really had no idea what some companies were doing to process the honey to give consumers what they supposedly wanted (for those who don’t want to read the article, basically a lot of U.S. brokers purchase ultra-filtered honey from foreign companies that remove the pollen from the honey, and in addition, the manufacturers from China were adding in other unhealthy and cheap sweeteners to make the product cheaper).

I got lucky and happened to have a HUGE container of raw honey given to me by my mom the last time I was home. Apparently, the farmer they lease part of their land too keeps bees! How awesome is that? And, he gives my mom lots of yummy raw honey, and she in turn gives it to her kids because then she’d have a lot of honey on her hands. So, now I have a lot of honey on my hands. I mean, this was a huge jug of honey. Unfortunately, it had crystallized and was way to hard to pour out of the jug. So, I soaked the jug in warm water for 15-20 minutes to help restore it back to its regular consistency, and then was able to divide it into two mason jars to make it easier to access :) This raw honey does not taste like the store-bought kind. It seems richer, and sweeter, and you can taste the nature in it – if that makes sense.

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So, I have to say that after a slice of warm homemade whole wheat bread with raw honey, and a delicious sandwich for dinner, my crummy prego day turned out all right.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Banana Pancakes

Talk about YUM!!! I LOVE breakfast. I’m just a breakfast girl. I love eating all the different types of breakfast foods and often do for various meals throughout the day. I also don’t miss breakfast. I love it that much. Even if I wake up late and its really lunch-time . . . I eat my breakfast. I don’t do dinner or lunch for breakfast. I ALWAYS have breakfast for breakfast.

I also love protein pancakes. (Check out this previous post here, with an awesome recipe, btw), and I also love strawberries (can’t wait to go strawberry picking this season!) and I also happen to love cream cheese, and I only like bananas at a certain degree of ripeness, which is not very ripe at all.

However, I had some super ripe bananas and knew I needed to throw them into something before they went bad. I was also really, really hungry when I woke up, and decided I really wanted pancakes. And then I remembered the strawberry cream cheese in the fridge that needed to get used up . . . and voila!

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Yummy Breakfast Ingredients:

1/2 cup Kodiak Cakes, Power Cakes Pancake Mix

1-2 Tablespoons Strawberry Cream Cheese

1/2 cup Almond Milk

1 Egg

Some Sliced Bananas (This depends on how much banana you like in your pancakes)

Scrambled Eggs

Orange Juice

Directions: Whisk almond milk, egg, & cream cheese. Add Power Cakes mix until all combined. Pour into pan and place banana slices on top. Cook until done, and then make another one! Scramble some eggs, pour some juice, and get ready to eat a scrumptious, high-protein breakfast, and just pretend it’s the weekend!

(Jack Johnson stuck in your head yet?)

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You can get Kodiak Cakes at their website, or at amazon, OR I found mine at Target on sale for around $5! Seriously, the macros on this mix are so great & you have several different options for making your pancakes higher in protein (ex: subbing cow milk instead of water or almond milk, and using an egg). Make sure you get the POWER cakes. Those ones have more protein in them!

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ENJOY!

Chicken Salad . . . On A Salad

So today I want to share with you an AWESOME healthy recipe using leftover chicken! I often have leftover shredded chicken hanging out in the fridge that needs to be used up. Today it happened to be a rotisserie chicken that we never got around to eating much of. Whether you used leftover chicken or cook it fresh to use (or use canned) this recipe is a healthy version of your typical deli chicken salad!

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Basically I used this recipe but modified it. And, by modify I mean not measuring anything, using green onions instead of regular onions, and adding a few dashes of curry powder. Other than that, I just chopped everything up and added an amount that looked good!!!

063I started by pulling all the extra meat off the rotisserie chicken and chopping it up into small pieces.

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Put a large dollop of Greek Yogurt on top!

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Add your onions, apple, grapes, almonds, cranberries, salt & pepper, garlic powder, and any other spices you want!

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Mix it all up! Add more Greek yogurt, or lemon juice, or spices/seasonings to get the texture you want.

Now, here comes the best part, especially if you need a healthy alternative to the mediums Chicken Salad is normally served on. I LOVE croissants. In fact, it was difficult to pass them up at the grocery store today knowing I was making Chicken Salad for tonight. But, croissants are not the healthiest option, despite how delicious they may be. I also didn’t want to eat a too many carbs for dinner tonight and use another type of bun/bread/roll, so i decided to put my Chicken Salad on top of salad!!! I have never done that before, but paired with a slice of homemade whole wheat bread topped with a slather of Brummel & Brown spread made it a perfect healthy dinner!

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So YUMMY!!!!

There are SO many ways you can use Greek yogurt as an alternative to certain ingredients (like mayonnaise). Greek yogurt is what makes this Chicken Salad unique and delicious! I may have added a lot of apple and grape, but that is because I love apple and grape! You can add whatever else you want to your chicken salad to spice it up (celery, various seeds, veggies, hard-boiled egg, etc.) to fit your taste and or macros.

And . . . the other reason I wanted a healthier dinner was to make room for this:

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Leftover carrot cake from last night! Enjoy!

Phase 2: Eating Healthy & Fresh Food Grocery Haul

3 months.

14 weeks.

Plus or minus 90 days.

And baby girl is going to be here!!! And no, we haven’t decided on a name yet. That probably won’t happen until we see her cute, wrinkly little face.

On that note, at my last Dr. appointment I had another reality check regarding my lack of enthusiasm in the healthy eating department. I’ve gained almost all the weight you’re supposed to when pregnant, but still have a trimester to go. And last week I decided I needed to make a change! Not only for me, but for baby girl.

I know you don’t want to hear my excuses because they are lame. The bottom line is I was so frustrated with my situation (see my last post) that I just didn’t care. And there I was buying things at the grocery store that I NEVER buy. Even my husband was wondering what was up, and he came out and told me to stop using pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. I told him I wasn’t. Perhaps I was in denial.

So, today started phase two of my “deal with this situation, and make the most of it”, and that is cleaning up my eating! For those of you who have followed my blog . . . you know I’ve done meal planning & macro tracking and both of those things require you to count & track your calories, meet your daily macro goals (the amount of protein, fat, carbs, and fiber you need to eat), and to choose healthier alternatives to all the junk that is out there. THIS TIME I am not going to be tracking anything :) But don’t you worry, I’ve got a plan. In the rest of this post I am going to cover three things:

1. My plan

2. Execution of said plan + fresh food grocery shopping tips

3. Display of my $100 fresh food grocery haul!!!

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My plan is simple. Though I’m not tracking anything, I am choosing to eat only fresh fruit & veggies, meats, complex carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread & other baked goods, pasta, etc.), and other staples like greek yogurt, cheese in moderation, eggs, almond milk, etc. On a daily basis I am cutting out simple carbs, and sugary foods and will reserve those for my “treat” day, in which I can eat whatever foods I want, including treats, during one meal only (not the entire day).

But, I get to eat as much as I want of all that good food, but will focus more on the practice of Intuitive Eating. Basically, I can eat whatever I want when I am hungry, but to stop when I am satisfied or full. You can check out more about this book here! I decided that for me, right now, meal tracking or hitting my macro goals isn’t the best option for a ton of reasons I won’t go into.  But, giving myself the option to eat whatever I want choosing from healthier options! Pretty simple, ya?

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I want to start of with some tips, because really, this is how you execute a plan like this.

  1. Don’t buy it – Can’t eat it: Basically, don’t put those unwanted food items into your grocery cart. Don’t even put  them in there if you’re indecisive about it and think you will make the best decision at check out – you’ll end up buying it. If unwanted food items don’t go into your cart, they don’t go through checkout, and they don’t end up in your cupboard, or on the counter, or in the fridge/freezer to stare you down when a craving kicks in.
  2. Don’t shop hungry: I know, I know, everyone has said this at least 3-4 times to another person or to themselves. But it is SO true. In fact, I was super hungry before my grocery trip today, and I knew in order for it to be a success and in line with my new plan, I needed to eat first. So I did, and guess what, I did not pick up a single item that was not on my list and I did not go over budget (except for that one item I actually forgot to put on my list – greek yogurt). I was not swayed by the cookie aisle, or the cracker aisle, or heaven help the ice-cream aisle.
  3. Don’t go down that aisle: Seriously! Don’t go down those aisles that contain all those unwanted foods. I avoid the ice-cream aisle because that is my weakness. Really, the only time I am ever in the frozen section is for veggies and berries. I would rather not have to look at all the rows of ice-cream and go  through another debate in my head of why I did or didn’t need that treat.
  4. Make a list: Make a list, only put healthy items on there or your planned food items, and stick to that list. Period. (Unless, like me, you forget to put a healthy item on that list in the first place, like Greek Yogurt. Then that is ok.)
  5. Shop the fresh food sales: Find out what your grocery store is having a sale on for produce and only buy those things! That is how I determine what fresh fruits and veggies we will eat for the week and I go Pinterest crazy to find recipes to coincide with said fruit and veggies. But, don’t stop there! Today Albertson’s was having a sale on chicken breast at $1.59 a pound. Call me crazy, but I was only allowed to buy 10 pounds, and I bought 10 pounds. Now, that is more than we’ll eat in a week, probably even two weeks, but dang, you can’t beat chicken at that price! I may go back later this week for more!
  6. Farmer’s Market: So, I live in Southern California where Farmer’s Markets are practically year round. I checked out a local one last week, and was planning shop there this week, but didn’t due to being out-of-town over the weekend, needing to restock with limited time to do it. BUT, how can you resist all that fresh produce at a farmer’s market? Go CRAZY! Buy all that good stuff that looks fun to eat. Buy something you’ve never tried before & Pinterest a recipe for it! Great deals, great produce, healthy you!
  7. Prep: One day I am going to devote a post or two to food preparation, because it is that legit. When you get your bulk chicken home, this is the time to freeze some, cut up some, and marinate some for a future meal. I am the type of person that likes to cook a staple food (like chicken – can you tell I eat a lot of chicken?) in bulk to use throughout the week. I throw it in my crock pot with some seasoning and spice and maybe some marinade or other fun flavors, shred once cooked, and store for 2-3 days to eat during the week in various different meals. You can do this with any type of meat (can you also tell how important, I think, protein is in your diet?) and use in any type of meal. A couple weeks ago I made some crock-pot Italian chicken. Throughout the week I used that chicken to make Hawaiian haystacks, bbq pineapple chicken sandwiches, chicken quesadillas, and some type of chicken pasta dish. There was also some leftover for whatever else we wanted to eat! Fresh fruits and veggies are so easy to prep and to throw into a meal. I also like to cut up my favorite snacking veggies so they are easy to grab out of the fridge when I’m feeling the munchies.
  8. Don’t Throw Away Food: And what I mean by this is don’t throw away those unwanted food items already in your house. Some people recommend a complete purge, but I come from a family that taught me not to waste and not to throw away food. If that doesn’t bother you, then by all means, toss the junk – see #1. But, for those of you who don’t want to throw away those foods, or maybe it is your kid’s or spouse’s favorite and they would be mad at you if you did throw it away, here is what I do. I’ll be honest and tell you I have cereal, chocolate chips, some crackers, and a few other packaged goods hiding in my cupboards.  I don’t keep a ton of food on hand, since there are only two of us right now, and I have habits that have kept my pantries clean for the most part. So, even if I did purge my pantry, I wouldn’t be throwing out much. I am going to save those unwanted foods for my treat meal, and I also like to hide them (do it the morning of a busy day so you forget that you did hide it) because I forget quite easily (pregnancy-brain), and keep them out of plain site. If I do really want one of those treats, I mentally ask myself why I want it, if i’m really hungry, and if there is a healthier alternative that would satiate that desire. Put up reminder notes to question yourself until you can do it off-hand. Ask yourself if you can save it for your treat meal – and chances are you won’t even want it then.
  9. Enjoy: I plan on enjoying all of my food and being happy with the choices I am making. I plan on eating a variety of healthy foods and getting the most nutrition from those foods to fuel my body, and keep baby girl growing strong and healthy.

 

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I, like most people, have a budget for groceries. Otherwise I would spend way too much $$ and a lot would probably go to waste. I often have to put back things I wanted, or decide between two items, which can be a healthy exercise for your self-discipline. Anyways, everything pictured here I got for just over $100. And I want to show you all the healthy fresh food you can get for that much! And, this will probably last Sam and I at least one to one and a half weeks.

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Ok, so maybe it doesn’t look like much, but it is! Not pictured is 5 lbs of chicken & some steak that I already put in the fridge. Here is a list of everything pictured and I have put a * next to items I don’t normally buy in a weekly shopping trip.

  • Almond milk, eggs, cream cheese*, block of cheddar cheese, chobani yogurts* (I normally buy the plain greek yogurt, but with being pregnant, it is easier for me to have individual cups that I don’t have to add anything to when I need a quick healthy snack. Cream cheese is for a special recipe, recipe unkown as of now, and it was on sale!)
  • 10 lbs chicken breast, 1 lb ground beef, 1-2 pounds steak (love me some meat! We eat a lot of it in this household)
  • Yams, sweet potatoes, mango*, apples, lemons, oranges, cherry tomatoes, mini watermelon*, pineapple*, asparagus, green beans, bell peppers, baby spinach/spring greens mix (The starred items in this list are seasonal sales I took advantage of! Love mixing up my fruits and having something new to try)
  • Rice, unsweetened applesauce, olives, canned pineapple, cornstarch* (I like to have both white and brown rice on hand, and my husband drinks applesauce, but I always get the unsweetened kind!)
  • Rotisserie chicken* (this is for when I don’t have time to cook after my grocery shopping. It is nice to have a precooked chicken and you can use rotisserie in SO many things!)

There you have it! With my water bottle hiding in the back :) I drink lots of water. There are no crackers, cookies, cereal, candies, and anything like that in my haul and I am SO proud of myself. There were Cadbury cream eggs at the checkout stand and I had to tell myself no!

Other healthy staples I normally have on hand include: oatmeal, cream of rice, whole wheat flour, pastas, other canned goods, etc.

 

It really isn’t that hard to make the switch to eating healthy fresh foods! You may have to do a little more prepping, cooking, and cleaning, but your body will thank you. I promise.

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I have some exciting things coming up on my blog! I am finally out of my slump and excited for making this all work for me! Next up is a post about Phase 1 – I know you guys thought pregnancy brain had me all confused, but the truth is I started phase 1 last week, continued it today, but am keeping it a surprise until later!!! Check back for that post or subscribe so you know when I have new posts! :)

Once Upon A Time . . .

Once upon a time I could do 8 pullups . . .

Once upon a time I could run without my knees and back aching . . .

Once upon a time I could lift weights 4-5 days a week

And then this happened:

Which is totally AWESOME and I am so excited to meet this little girl! On Valentine’s day we revealed her gender to our family & friends! I really wanted a boy, and Sam wanted a girl . . . he got his wish! But, really, we are SO happy.

I am currently 6 months along and can’t believe there are only about 3 left to go! Time has flown and I feel like I still have a lot to do before she comes.

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BUT.

There have been some trade-offs. First, I’ll start off by saying that I’ve had a really easy and nice pregnancy so far. I haven’t been very sick at all and don’t have a lot of the side affects that normally come with pregnancy. I guess I got lucky  in that respect! Besides the normal fatigue and ache from all the changes my body is going through (and having trouble getting out of bed – seriously, I have to roll over like a beached whale. It’s a process.) I’m still healthy and happy!

My trade-off comes in the form of a medical issue that has prevented me from doing something that I love – working out. And, this is the reason my writing has come to a halt (besides moving across the country during the holidays and getting settled into a new place). Below is a pic of the last time I was able to go to the gym back in February, I think. Super bummed, because my new gym here in California is AWESOME! Over a month ago, after we found out we are having a girl, my DR told me I had placenta previa, and to basically stop doing anything that is high impact or could cause too much stress on my body. Squats – out of the question, Deadlifts – no way, Any Lower Body Lift or Ab Work – don’t even. Running is not an option, and neither is anything that would cause too much stress on my joints (they’ve been getting soft!). Carrying heavy stuff, being too active, are all no-no’s. So basically I’m left with light upper body workouts (have to be careful about indirectly working my core), the elliptical (which I hate), and walking. Sam and I discussed my situation and decided it would probably be best to lay off going to the gym altogether since I would honestly have a huge struggle of not doing the things I wasn’t supposed to do. Seriously, I love weight-lifting, and it would be too tempting to try and justify something. But, I need to take care of this baby girl growing inside of me and do what is best for her.

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On a good note, there is a very high chance, something like 80-90% that my previa will move as the baby grows and I won’t have any issues with delivery. (Side note: Placenta previa is when the placenta is too close, or partially or fully covers the cervix. It can cause some major issues during the third trimester, and during birth if it doesn’t’ move. I have a marginal, which is the least serious, and most likely to move.) BUT, until we find out if the previa has moved or not, I’m stuck playing it safe for now and trying to keep myself busy with nursery sewing projects!

So . . .  my pregnancy has been difficult for me in the sense that I’ve had this mental battle going on and a real struggle with having to put my fitness goals on hold. I don’t fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes anymore (apparently that is a side-affect of pregnancy :) ), and I’m watching my body slowly get soft, and bigger, and less like I want it to be. Eating healthy has also been a real struggle. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl, and since working out was kicked-to-the-curb, so was my motivation for eating right. Though it has been a struggle, the only thing keeping me from going off the deep end and eating pizza and ice-cream every night is that I need to make healthy food choices for baby girl. (Ok, so maybe I do have ice-cream almost every night, but not pizza!)

It is so hard for me to look back at pictures of me when I was working out so much, and so lean, and was starting to get some nice muscle definition.

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Pre-Prego & Fit

Because now I look like this:

5 Months & Getting Soft

I know it is normal, and it is part of pregnancy, but I was going to be that super fit prego lady at the gym and still do dead-lifts and squats and anything else I felt like doing (besides the obvious no-no’s when you are pregnant.) I’m a little jealous when I see pregnant ladies still able to stay a lot more active than myself. I know I shouldn’t be, and that every situation is different, but that is how I feel. I try to get a walk in a few times a week, and move around a lot during the day. I got a part-time job coaching elementary kids basketball and tennis after school a few times a week. I have enjoyed working with those kids so much, but even that is proving to be too difficult at this stage in my pregnancy and today is my last day coaching for FitkidsAmerica until further notice.

I still try to read up on fitness stuff, avidly peruse my fitness Instagram account to try and stay motivated (though sometimes it makes me sad), and was able to attend a 360 You Workshop hosted by JazzyThings, Jenny Groethe, and Lindsey Matthews (my trainer from Moxie). I couldn’t do the workout portion of the weekend workshop in Salt Lake, but I was able to participate in everything else, go for a walk in one of my favorite cities, and came away with a new determination to focus on what I CAN do, instead of what I can’t. (I was SO excited to meet Jazzy! Even thought she lives less than an hour north of me, I decided to go to her workshop in SLC, so I could also see my family and friends!).

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On a positive note: one interesting thing I’ve noticed since being pregnant is how much MORE appreciative I am now of the shape my body was in pre-preg. Not going to lie, even though I was working out 4-5 days a week and eating really healthy, I still would look in the mirror and see so many flaws, and so many areas that needed improvement. Back then I wasn’t fit enough for where I wanted to be and didn’t appreciate all the hard work and how far I had gone to get there. Looking back at those pictures now, when I can see and feel how much my body has changed, I am so happy with where I was at. I’m like, dang girl, you were looking good! So, I have this new-found appreciation to not take that progress for granted. And after baby is born, when I get back to my pre-preg shape, then I KNOW I will appreciate myself so much more. So, what it comes down to is this. Fmfitgirl is back in the game! My goal is to try and capture my current fitness journey, as altered as it may be, and document what I am able to do until this baby girl comes! And then when she does come, you can watch my transformation and follow me as I drop those post-prego pounds and get back into shape and back to where I want to be!

In the meantime, I’ve been given an awesome opportunity to be an online Coach with Moxie Full Body Fitness! Though I haven’t advertised it much, some of you know I am a certified personal trainer! I have been working as a client with Moxie for almost 2 years now and have LOVED the progress I have been able to make and want to help others make healthy and attainable lifestyle changes. Moxie was able to customize my plan to fit my needs, goals, and preferences. I wasn’t forced to do anything I didn’t want to do, though I had so many opportunities to try new things! Go check out my bio and if you are interested in coaching, feel free to reach out to me with questions, or sign up and request me as your coach!

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Looking Back

I believe that anytime you are on a journey to a better you, to reach goals, to pass milestones . . . it is important to look back and see how far you’ve come. Two summers ago my family backpacked 60 miles to the top of Mt. Whitney and back. Every day we would climb to the top of a peak and I would always stop and take the opportunity to look back and I was amazed that my two feet got me from there to here. The journey was rough and trying at times. But, as long as I continued to put one foot in front of the other I would make it.

Top of Mt. Whitney

Top of Mt. Whitney

These past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about where I was 2 years, 3 years, even 5 years ago. A lot has changed about me: physically, mentally, and spiritually. About 6-7 years ago I was unhappy with myself, my image, and lack of drive to get in shape and live a healthier lifestyle. I even had a boyfriend who “lovingly” and in other words told me I was too fat and not marriage material until I slimmed down. Anger aside, I turned to my mom who had been a years-long example to me of what it meant to live a healthy life through every triathlon or half-marathon finish line she crossed, miles logged on the bike, hours spent in the gym, laps completed in the pool . . . my whole life she has been involved in keeping herself healthy and fit. I thank my mom for her example as she is the one who gave me the fuel I needed to light the fire to start my own journey (and the boyfriend just dumped on the gasoline).

Mom & I at the finish line of my first triathlon

Mom & I at the finish line of my first triathlon

My journey has been a slow one and I have learned SO much over the past few years. While some people transform their bodies from fat to fit in 6 to 9 months, mine has taken years and years. I was never interested in that and so I never pushed myself to those extremes. I remember one afternoon I was sitting in the mall with my sister-in-law across from Victoria’s Secret. We both looked at those models and one of us commented how great they looked but that it would take so much time and dedication and hard work for either of us to look like that and right now where we were in our lives, that was not a desire we had. And there is NOTHING wrong with that.

Finish of my second triathlon

Finish of my second triathlon

There is so much craze in the fitness industry right now to look a certain way, to live a specific lifestyle, or to restrict yourself to certain foods. At different phases in my life I have fallen for each one of these. A few years ago I decided to run a marathon without ever running more than 5, maybe 6 miles at a time in my life. Part of me thought what the heck, why not? And the biggest part of me decided this would be a great way to drop a few pounds. Little did I know that steady state endurance cardio is NOT the best way to lose fat. Little did I know that without proper nutrition and hydration I could seriously harm my body. Little did I know that running is NOT a beginner’s sport.

During my marathon training I hired a trainer because I wasn’t losing any weight for the first two months of training despite how much I was running. He put me on a meal plan of eggs & oatmeal, meat sandwiches, chicken & veggies, and protein shakes. I ate the same stuff day after day, week after week with little variation. I couldn’t have things like white rice, white breads, white pastas, sugary treats and cereal, etc. I thought in order to get results you had to eat like that all the time. I didn’t realize then, all it came down to was matching your macro-nutrient intake to your goals and hitting those targets without going over. I currently eat foods like pizza, popcorn, cereal, ice cream, and pretty much whatever else I feel like – but I do it in moderation (I also eat a lot of healthy foods most of the time). And as long as I am getting my target protein, fat, and carbs, I’m good to go. I used to think that I had to look shredded and have abs to finally feel happy about myself. Over time, and with a lot of hard work, I’ve found my happy place and I don’t look like the aforementioned.

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Last year, about this time, I was registered for a marathon in Mississippi. I trained for months for that race, yet I didn’t run. I got injured while we were vacationing in St. George and got sick the right before the race. This would have been my second marathon. I signed up to race it because I was disappointed in my performance of the first marathon I completed. I signed up because I thought it would be a good way to stay in shape (and it was, coupled with weight lifting). I signed up because I wanted to prove to myself that I could perform better and because one day I wanted to complete an Iron-man triathlon and I had to start racking up marathons under my belt to get ready for one of those. Looking back now I am SO glad I decided not to race in that second marathon. First, I wouldn’t have been able to finish due to being sick and injured. Second, I realized I didn’t even like endurance racing. Yes, crossing the finish line is amazing. But running for miles and miles was miserable to me and I just didn’t like doing it. I kept pushing myself to do something I didn’t enjoy. And so I stopped.

Tire Flipping

Tire Flipping

I have found something I enjoy doing. I really do enjoy weight lifting and building my functional strength. I enjoy see the results that come from this mode of exercise. I enjoy having the freedom to eat the foods I like and am STILL reaching  the goals I have for myself. I have learned so much about lift, fitness, myself, who I am, and who I can become, and so much more. Despite all the bumps, ups & downs, and unexpected turns in my life I wouldn’t trade any part of my journey. Each phase, moment, experience all adds up to this very point in time and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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And She’s Back!

I have had so much going on in my head over the last few months. I can foresee a super long blog post . . . but I want to save you from that (because by nature I love to write and I can write a lot!). So, I’m going to break it down here:

*** My vacation home was AWESOME! Not only did I come home .2 pounds lighter, but I was able to manage not eating everything in sight. I did my best to plan and prepare my meals, but really wasn’t too strict about it. I was super surprised to have come home without gaining a pound! Thank you Isobag! I was able to hit the gym a few times I was close to one and did some boot camp style workouts at my family reunion to counteract the carb fest we were having there. Between 4 different states, staying at 6 different places in 3.5 weeks, I’d say I did pretty darn good. I had such a blast visiting all my family, but am so glad to be home now.

My niece and I at the family reunion.

My niece and I at the family reunion.

My siblings and me team-climbing this wall!

My siblings and me team-climbing this wall!

*** My birthday was fantastic! And I am proud to say that I DID NOT eat as many sweets and treats as I had planned. My birthday was about 2.5 months from when I started my 360 Days of No Sugar and you can bet I was creating a list of all the things I wanted to eat on that day, and it was LONG. The treats I had were most definitely fewer but high quality. Yes, I got my ice cream. Yes, I got my Bruges Belgian waffle covered in fresh strawberries, blueberries, and creme fraiche. I also had homemade white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, which was DIVINE. I think there were a few other treats thrown in there, but they were small and inconsequential. All in all . . . I have to say I won. The only thing I didn’t get was my Chic Fil A cookies and cream shake. But, that’s ok . . . November is coming soon!

My birthday waffles at Bruges

My birthday waffles at Bruges

*** This summer I am happy to say I reached one of my goals! For the longest time I have never been 100% satisfied with my body and my physical appearance. I’ve worked really hard over the last year and just a few short months ago I came home from working out and looked in the mirror and felt happy about what I saw FOR THE FIRST TIME. I honestly believe that every woman struggles with her image. And even though we have people close to us constantly tell us how beautiful we are . . . those words don’t truly sink in until we see it and believe it for ourselves. And for me, losing a little fat, gaining strength and muscle helped me get there physically and mentally. It may seem sad, but I am finally comfortable in my own skin because I feel that I am at a place that my body was meant to be. I’ve finally reached my vision of how I always wanted to look. I do not have a competition physique, you can’t see my abs, and I am ok with that right now. I like my body and it feels good, it is empowering, and it has propelled me to work harder in the gym and in the kitchen to continue reaching my next goals.

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*** I have been going 114 days strong. Almost 4 months. Almost 1/3 of a year done with my no sugar challenge! And what a challenge it has been. But, honestly it has gotten easier. I am so glad that I decided to do this since it has opened my eyes to a sustainable way to approach my nutrition habits. Perhaps a little less strict in the future. BUT, my main goal was to see if I could stay away from eating excessive sugar and I have. I am SO glad that I set the perimeter to not eat anything that contained more than 5-6 grams of sugar per serving. Originally I outed foods like Chocolate and ice cream . . . but then I found super healthy alternatives within my guidelines. And that, to me and according to my goals, is not cheating. I found Stevia sweetened chocolate (Stevia is a natural low calorie sweetener – not chemically made), date sugar (which comes from just dates, of which I have yet to use), French jams sweetened with fruit concentrate and are super yummy, super awesome protein ice cream sweetened with stevia by HaloTop, and I have fun with making new recipes courtesy of Jazzy Things (follow her on Instagram & Facebook!).

Protein Pancakes with Halo Top Icecream

Protein Pancakes with Halo Top Icecream

I have found so many ways to make healthy alternatives to my favorite treats, and I really don’t crave them that often. But, when I do I know I am making a better choice than some sugar laced food item. I am always working on improving the recipes to make them taste better (and to increase their protein content). Actually, my secret goal is for these goodies to pass the husband test. If he doesn’t like them its back to the drawing board!

Jazzy Things Pumpkin Choc Chip Protein Bread

Jazzy Things Pumpkin Choc Chip Protein Bread

Blueberry Chia Seed Muffins

Blueberry Chia Seed Muffins

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA . . . But, I am back! I have been working these last 3 weeks on a new training program and nutrition plan and things are going awesome! Life is good.