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.

On The Road!

Just a few reasons I am super excited today:

1. I am going home to see my family and friends I haven’t seen in forever!

2. I discovered a new ice-cream that is super low calorie, high protein, and guess what!? Has less than 3g of sugars and those come from Stevia!

3. I just got a brand new workout tank in the mail (I love new workout tanks!)

4. I get to use my new Isobag for my trip!

BUT . . .

1. I will be gone for 3 weeks and am nervous about finding gyms to workout in, or figuring out what to do when I don’t have access to one (yay body weight workouts) and I am super nervous about staying on my meal plan and meeting my nutritional goals

2. This new ice cream doesn’t exist where I live yet :( But no worries! I know where to find it in California and Utah . . . just to see if this stuff lives up to its hype.

3. I honestly don’t really need a new workout tank . . . but this one is pink, and cute, and I got it from FitAmy . . . check out my Instagram!

4. Using my new Isobag means I am going to be prepping and bringing a lot of foods with me on my trip to help me stay in line with my goals!

 

And number 4 is mostly what this post is about. Today I documented my process for packing and prepping the foods and other things I will need while I am gone for 3 weeks. There are some things I can buy while there, but there are some things (like protein powder) that I DON’T want to be with out. Traveling is crazy, and I will be at the graces of my family and friends and so I want to make this as easy as possible and manageable. The reality is I will not be able to stick to my meal plan 100% of the time, and so I am not going to hold myself accountable to that. Instead, I have a set amount of calories that I can eat each day, as well as macros that I will need to hit in order to make sure all the hard work I’ve put in the last 8 months isn’t for nothing! (My body has an insane ability to gain weight and revert back to its “happy place” if I go off plan for even a week! And my body’s “happy place” is not my happy place, so I can’t let this happen!)

 

Travel PrepSo here are just a few things that I make sure to not leave without!!!

1. Protein powder! I think I made about 25 little bags of measured out protein powder! Hopefully that is enough.

2. Beef jerky – portioned into 2 ounce bags

3. QUEST BARS – These are a great bar for traveling because they have a lot of protein powder

4. Fish Oil supps & Multivitamins – enough for all 21 days

5. Protein Pancake mixes (I made 4) & Protein Bar Mix

6. My Isobag

7. My huge water bottle

8. Stevia packets

9. Crystal Light liquid

10. My shaker bottle!

11. And tomorrow I will prep some fresh food to take with me (like sugar snap peas and some chicken!)

All this stuff fits in my Isobag and is going to help keep me on track! I have a list of things I will buy while I am there . . . but my goal is to have at least 2-3 meals prepped at all times! I am also going to track all my calories on my favorite app: MyNetDiaryPro.

This girl is tired and ready for a good nights sleep before tomorrow!

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New Tank from @FitAmySuzanne #becauseglutes

57 DAYS STRONG!!!

Good Eats!

So, I feel like I have been making more treats than I normally did before I started this 360 days of no sugar thing! Maybe because my husband continues to request a weekly treat . . . is he doing it to test me??? Well I haven’t broken yet and am doing great! I’m really focusing on finding healthy alternatives (like a few recipes I’m going to share below!)

I also feel like I have to talk about and document all these treats I’ve been making and abstaining from. It is empowering. So, I’m sorry if any of these make you crave sweets! But, do not worry, I will share a yummy recipe for some Cinnamon Swirl protein bars that tastes more like a breakfast cake, or bread.

But, before we get into treats, we have to talk about this amazing dish I had at Jaco’s last night! I am not a huge fish person, but I’m working on bringing it into my diet more often because of the health benefits. This was a Mahi Mahi with pureed celery root and grill asparagus. Oh my lanta it was so yummy! If you are ever in Pensacola, go check out Jaco’s on Palafox Pier! Sam and I got to watch the sunset overlooking the ocean and a whole bunch of expensive yachts. Epic.

 

Mahi from Jaco's

And, here are the scones I made Sam tonight. Don’t they just look delish? I’m not giving you the recipe for these. You don’t need it.

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And here are my awesome Cinnamon Swirl Protein Treats! I originally got the recipe from this girl’s blog called Mouthwatering Motivation. So, head on over to her blog to check out the recipe (since she made it, not me). Mine don’t look quite as good as hers because I didn’t put peanut butter on top of mine. But they sure were scrumptious!

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And now for a recipe from me! Because this one I created on my own from a conglomerate of recipes I’ve been trying over the past few months. These are called Delicious Berry Protein Pancakes. And these are hands down the best protein pancakes I have EVER Made! They almost taste like the real deal. They have yet to pass the husband test, but if they do I’ll let you all know!

196Here are the ingredients!

27g oat flour

12g oats

18g Trutein Cinnabun protein powder (this stuff makes all the difference)

2 egg whites

1 egg

110g Chobani Plain Greek yogurt

1t vanilla extract

1t baking pow

dash of salt

stevia to taste

Mix it all up. Fry em up. Eat em up.

I topped mine with 120g of frozen berries that I microwaved and sprinkled with stevia.

Makes 3 large pancakes! Macros: (1/3 of recipe or 1 pancake) Cal: 152, Fat: 3.3g, Carb: 17g, Protein: 14.6g

I ate 3 the other day because I was combining 2 meals. In the future I’ll have to halve it!

But Seriously, oh my gosh I could eat these every day! These may be the best pancakes I’ve ever made!

 

On to a happy note. I PR’d on my pullups last week! So happy with myself. I used to not be able to do even 1 chin-up, then I could do 8 chin-ups, and then I couldn’t do 1 pull-up . . . and now I can do about 4 on a good day! Check out this post about my pullup goals!

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48 days STRONG

360 Days Seems to Be Getting Easier

Maybe I am in a good phase right now . . . but being surrounded by treats hasn’t bothered me much lately. I made brownies for some guests we had over for dinner last Saturday night and it didn’t bother me that I couldn’t touch them. I had a piece of my chocolate, but I was doing great! There are treats everywhere it seems, and I do notice them, but I always tell myself I can’t have them even if I don’t actually feel like eating them. If i’m hungry, I can go find a healthy alternative.

Perhaps it is also because I eat on a meal plan. I count my calories, and I make sure I meet my macros (proteins, carbs, fats) every day. Once I’ve eaten all that yummy food, then I don’t eat any more, and this is all to help me reach my awesome goals!

Something else to help me reach my goals . . .

Isobag

I got my very first Isobag!!! I have been wanting one of these for months and finally got one as an early birthday present from my parents!!! Thing is, I will be traveling for 3 weeks this summer and being away from home makes it so hard to stay on plan!! This baby will help me stick to my plan and keep me from undoing all the hard work I’ve put in over the past few months . . . actually the past 8 months! So happy, so happy!

Going on 44 days strong!

360 Days . . . Bring On the Chocolate

So, for those of you just hopping onto my blog you should read this post so you know what all this 360 stuff is about . . . mostly me turning my life around, but in a specific way. Those of you following along can refer back to that post and this post if you really want to remember what the guidelines were that I set for myself. Because something BIG just happened and it is this:

 

Lily's Chocolate

Do you see that little green NO SUGAR ADDED banner? I CANNOT wait to try this bar (and all the other’s Lily’s offers).

So how did this happen? How did I find this little bar of heaven in all the expanse of the interwebs? It all started with Instagram. I was scrolling down and noticed a recipe one of my fitness gurus posted . . . Her name is @Jazzythings, and you should check her out if you’re even remotely interested in fitness stuff. She had several recipes that she used dark chocolate chips and she mentioned they were sweetened with stevia. I was super excited and ventured my way over to Vitacost.com to see if her claim was legit . . . and it was. But, then I found this scrumptious bar above! And I about died in my seat. How could this exist? I quickly checked the ingredients list to make sure I wasn’t being tricked. And guess what, the stevia is one of the LAST ingredients on the list.

Ok, so for those of you that did go back and read my post about what my guidelines are you would have seen “Chocolate of any kind” on that list. And this is the reason I put chocolate on my no list:

ritteralpine0708    ritteralpinewithsugar

That is 20 grams of sugar in one serving of my favorite chocolate bar! Oh my gosh that is a ton. Even the dark chocolate bars have 14-18 grams of sugar in them. And I knew this when I wrote my post and so I included chocolate on there because I didn’t think chocolate existed without refined sugar. But, I was wrong and am oh so happy! And I do also want to point out that I am not justifying this chocolate, but part of the point of this whole challenge is to find alternatives that are healthier for me. (Though it is very hard to find alternatives for very sugary things, so that usually means going without!) Now, I’m NOT going to binge on my new chocolate bar. I promise. I will savor it as a small treat here and there. Besides, chocolate is actually really good for you! Especially kinds that are dark and have a higher cocoa content. So, I am super stoked to get a little brown box on my doorstep this week containing this deliciousness! (Side note: head over to vitacost and check out all the amazing products they have to offer! Use this code  to get and awesome deal of $10 off your first order!)

This past week was tough, especially with 4th of July apple pie and ice cream I couldn’t partake of. And everyone seemed to be posting pictures of their holiday treats . . . so I have been feeling a lot of cravings lately. But no worries! I stayed strong by working out and eating healthy! Stay tuned for a post on my favorite go to healthy recipes!

35 Days Strong!

360 Days & 3 Temptations Down!

So up until this week things have been pretty easy. There were a few cravings here and there but nothing overwhelmingly driving my desire for sugar . . . that is until last week my husband asked me to stop by Chic-Fil-A. Any of you that know me know how much I LOVE the cookies and cream milkshake from Chic. It is fantasmical. Really. And we pull up to the order microphone and I ask what he wants and he says a large Cookies and Cream shake. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I thought to myself, what the heck!? I don’t get one, I can’t have one, why are you getting one . . . no fair. Lucky for me they were currently out of that Dreamy ice cream.

But then my husband directs me to McDonald’s, and me being the good wife that I am, take him. :( And I get him an Oreo McFlurry and some chicken nuggets. And guess what I got for dinner? A lousy concoction of shredded chicken, cheddar cheese, and peas . . . I wanted to eat his food so bad! BUT, I DIDN’T. I ate mine, sigh.

 

Chick-fil-a-shakes

If you haven’t tried one of these, don’t. You’ll be addicted for life.

Fast forward to the next day, Sunday, and Sam comes out begging me to make a treat. And guess what, i did. He asked for chocolate chip cookies and luckily I had all the ingredients to make them! Fancy that. I have never had to struggle against the natural urge to lick my fingers after making all that cookie dough . . . let alone keep myself from shoveling the stuff in my mouth. It was so creamy and delicious looking, see?

Look at all that sugar!

Look at all that sugar!

Fluffy goodness.

Fluffy goodness.

All the yum I didn't get to eat.

All the yum I didn’t get to eat.

So that was temptation number two. And this is how I combated those cravings (though I secretly really, really wanted cookies. Even now that I’m writing about them I’d like to take a nibble . . . come to think of it, there is some cookie dough in my freezer . . . NO!)

This is one of my go to meals when I need something sweet that has a higher protein content. It is plain greek yogurt (Chobani), with a dash of Sugar Free Fat Free pudding powder, a dash of Stevia, and a splash of Crystal Light zero calorie drink liquid stuff (in whatever flavor i’m craving. I think i have 4 different flavors). And then! I sprinkle exactly however many grams of Grape Nuts and slivered almonds on top to give it a nice pleasant crunch. I think I’ll go have some right now! It truly is yummy and a great alternative to sugary treats. It almost seems a dessert in itself, lucky me.

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Oh, and I also had some apple and peanut butter leftover from one of my meals so I got exactly 16g of peanut butter!

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So, I passed my 3 temptations (the 3rd was from the other night when Sam wanted more ice cream and i went and got it for him and ended up bring my friend and her husband some as well) and it really wasn’t AS hard as I thought it would be. I think I am so determined and my goals are so important to me right now that I am staying strong!

 I month down!!!