Pain in the butt...literally!

So I haven't posted in a while. Mostly because I need to get. it. together. and stop taking I need to workout, then I do a great one, and then I get tired and my back is unbelievably sore! So much so that I could barely walk a few weeks ago. I had some crazy butt pain (sciatica that was located smack dab in the center of my butt cheek, no joke) and lower back aching.  I have been seeing my chiropractor (shout-out to Dr. Showers!) and that has been nothing but amazing. With all the heavy squats and deadlifts I do I guess I (as many do) neglected the minor muscles in my hips and lower back. So I'm strengthening those all over again with some simple band exercises and icing regularly.
This is the eggplant...I love this color

But to relieve the pain on a daily basis.... I found something that has worked wonders. I'm on my feet all day, almost everyday. I'm up at 6am in the studio with clients, Monday, Wednesday and Friday I'm in the studio for almost 6 or 7 hours, depending on the day. If I'm not in the studio I'm trying to entertain my 3 year old by playing on the floor and walking around the park or our yard. And then I want/need to get my own workouts yeah, long days on my feet.

This belly is growing (I'm into my 3rd trimester now) and wow, my body has changed. Every pregnancy is different and this one has given me more pain than the last. I have such lumbar lordosis it is painful (a curvature in my lower back). My abs and glutes were pretty strong to begin with so this is just a change from my pregnancy. (The stretching of my abs is a whole different has that been uncomfortable. But bearable since my doc says it means I was pretty tight to start :) )

As my Chiropractor put it "it doesn't matter if you were working out before or not, pregnancy will get you". There are Many things that working out before/during and after pregnancy can help, but not this! So what did I find? BaoBei Maternity support bands. After the first day of wearing it in the studio, I also did a normal leg/glute workout in the gym with weights...I was walking the next day! I was not even in as much pain as I was the week before when I wasn't even working out.
This one is turquoise, my fav!

I have worn it every day since I bought it and won't take it off. I have to say, that for me they may not be for running since I'm super low and it seems pretty heavy (I can even lift my belly! couldn't do that last time) but it works for my lifting, cycling and walking around the studio.
...check them out here

note *I bought one, they did not pay me to do this nor did they ask for a blog post..I just feel so much better with it I thought I'd share it with everyone :)

Half way there! Fit pregnancy update:

So this blog is about healthy lifestyle, and I said it wouldn't be all about pregnancy and so far so good...because I've been so tired I haven't really done much! lol.

Here's an update though. Just for the sake that I'm half way done and there are many pregnant moms out there who are curious about how it works, how to stay healthy and fit.

How I feel:  Extremely tired! My morning sickness went away about week 14 or 15, so it stuck around a pretty long time, but the exhaustion hasn't left. I'm just learning to deal with it now. I started out this pregnancy coming off a month of random stomach sickness that we were right in the middle of diagnosing (probably low stomach acid or a gallbladder issue...ruled out some other stuff already). So the sickness was pretty intense in the beginning and I think it was compounded by the other GI issues I was already having. Those are under control since I'm eating smaller meals and much more consciously of what I eat.

Workouts:  They are back. I literally took 3 months of very limited activity because all I could do was lay around trying not to throw up (but wishing I was to see if that would make me feel better).  Because I was already a bit sick prior to the morning sickness (see previous comments about GI issues) my workouts were already not as intense or frequent. I still got in 5 days a week but I limited them a bit.
     I tried running early on in the pregnancy, that was NOT comfortable! For some reason everything felt crammed in there and running caused my bladder to bounce (or that's what it felt like at least). So I limited that to just what felt good...and you all know I'm not a runner, I just do it to challenge myself randomly, so this was not disappointing in any way for me :)
       The weird thing is that lifting weights made me nauseous. How ironic is that? It was just frustrating. So I lifted till I felt sick and then I rode the spin bike for a while. Now that is gone and I'm back to regular lifting, and that is a good thing for my mood!

Weight gain: Who cares :)  No, really, I have gained weight. A lot from my personal perspective. But this happened last time's mostly swelling, yay. About a pound a week is what I'm at (i'm 21 weeks and have gained 15-17 pounds). My dr. is cool with it, I'm not worried. I don't even like to look at the scale, the only reason why I know is because she told me how many pounds I've gained at my last appointment, which I sighed about but have moved on. I just know that personally it is not important for me to focus on the number on the scale because it's about growing a healthy baby and being healthy myself. I workout as I can, I eat healthy but don't count and don't focus on calories too much. I had weight to gain when I started and that has certainly been accomplished. I know that by leading a healthy life and pregnancy everything will be good to go when I'm done and able to get back to working out post-pregnancy.

How it compares: Well last time I worked out just like I do now. I didn't watch what I ate, I ate everything in sight (which was still healthy choices since I don't really eat that poorly to begin with) and I still gained the same amount and grew about the same pace. Here's a pic:

Cravings: I'm not really craving anything weird, mostly just meat for the protein. I think I could eat a burger every day! But I do feel that I want to indulge in things a bit more with the excuse that "I'm pregnant, so it is ok" just like everyone else. But I don't really indulge because I know that I only need 300 extra calories a day and that is just one simple snack. But I do want french toast All. The. Time. and I haven't even had good FT in years since I'm gluten free and it was always too dense.
Well, here is a great breakfast or snack or dinner recipe for flourless pancakes that end up tasting like the inside of french toast...delish!:
1 super ripe banana
2 whole eggs
cinnamon to taste

mash banana, mix in scrambled eggs, sprinkle cinnamon, spray oil on pan and cook like pancakes (keep the pan pretty oiled). Only put about 1/4 cup of batter in or they won't cook all the way through. Enjoy! they should be sweet enough with the banana that your don't need syrup, but you could add honey if you really need anything.

9 month bulk..TransformationTuesday..Baby #2

Yep, that's right, we're expecting #2! I'm 16 weeks and due December 22 or we'll see! We're excited to have another little one running around and G is excited to be a big sister, and if you ask her she ALREADY is a big sister :) So cute. I think I'm more excited for her to be a big sister and for our family to feel more complete than being pregnant and all that jazz that goes along with birth.

Everyone always asks "how you're feeling", well, I wasn't feeling very well, at all, up until about last week. Want to know something evil? Lifting made me nauseous and just thinking about drinking or eating protein powder made me sick to my stomach. Yep, evil trick Universe, evil trick.

So I had not worked out in nearly 3 months and it feels so great having enough energy and desire to get back to the gym and lift, which I've done 3-5 days a week this last 2 weeks.  I'm not working out with as much "enthusiasm" or heart-pumping effort as I did before I found out but I get a good lift session in (I'm doing my own program, BabyStrong, I wrote for other mommy-to-bes to follow but also doing other things based on what I need to develop ie. legs and lower back since I have a weak lower back). I also get in cardio 3 or more days a week, Pedal & Pump 2 days and running 1 or 2 days also...and we all know how much I hate it's pretty light jogging but I still try.

I won't blog about pregnancy all the time but I'll update as needed, or as it gets interesting, I'm pretty open about pregnancy because I feel that women do not get the WHOLE story and there are some serious we'll see what I can educate you all on. Like how I'm 16 weeks with #2 and barely showing yet, everyone is different and wonders when they'll show...well, I'm about there at 16 weeks :)

This pregnancy doesn't change my life much, I eat the same because we ate whole, healthy foods before and I didn't drink much caffeine before so that wasn't hard to drop (though I will have a few every few weeks now)...the best part is I'm craving I still get a lot of that in. I have been craving more "carby, sweet" things, I really wanted a cinnamon roll but being gluten free will help with those cravings so they don't go down the hatch. No additional cravings now that I'm in the 2nd trimester but that can change, daily!

So here's to a new season of eating healthy, eating consciously but not counting, measuring or tracking because it's about gaining what you need and being healthy for you as Mom and for baby to grow!

Feel free to follow along to see how this mommy of 1 toddler becomes a mommy of 2, get info on pregnancy, healthy recipes as usual and more healthy life hints and tips! It's the same ole Nicci...just with another human inside...that's all!

Eating for fat-loss! High protein family dinner(no short - order cooking)

Shrimp pasta and omelet..but first, have you heard of "Flexible dieting"? or "IIFYM"? how about simply eating for fat-loss?

As we've talked about before, it's hard to know what to cook and how to eat when you don't need the same amount of food that your growing kids or man-sized husband need.  I definitely don't need the same amount of calories my husband does just to keep meat on his bones, and my 3 year old is a good eater but still a picker, she'll eat anything but she's still 3 and randomly picky. If you don't want to know about eating or fat-loss skip down to the recipe... (but it's pretty interesting info, if you ask me!)

I need more protein and fats than I do carbs, as many women with hormone issues/imbalances find they do. This is found by knowing your body (blood work from doctors helps) and trial and error. Carbs are awesome, and I eat them, but there are times when I'd rather eat mine for things other than just pasta and plain breads or there are times when my body just doesn't need 200 grams... though I do have those days too.

I guess I will take this minute to talk about carbs, just to clarify how I organize macro nutrients (fat, protein and carbs).  As we are taught in college nutrition classes, there is a balanced way to eat your nutrients and every individual has a different need. This need can be calculated out based on many factors. Once calculated based on body composition and activity level it is truly trial and error over time... Eat what we calculate, see how your body responds then adjust accordingly.

These days, the days of needing to name diets and put Fancy titles to trends, people call this flexible dieting or "iifym" if it fits your macros. But calling it a diet is annoying to me because it's just how you should eat based on what you body needs....for life, as a lifestyle, not a diet. But if you need to tell yourself you're following a cool trend then go right ahead, because it works. But I've been calculating these things since 2002 (and many other have for many more years than I). **And for the general population, It's not about weighing your apple pieces or weighing minuscule crumbs of protein powder, but it's about knowing how much you need, how much that looks like and eating within what your body is requiring, but not being tied to a measuring cup or scale.

So I eat within what my body needs, and so do my clients. We track the food for and little bit so they can get to know their body and the fuel it needs and then they can wean off the numbers so they can learn to make appropriate choices to stay healthy and fit. 

When my thyroid was off kilter (as diagnosed by a sports doc) I had to eat lower carb, higher good fat, high protein.  Many women with PCOS or other hormone related issues (think pre, peri and post menopause) will realize that lower carb, higher fat eating will just make their body respond better to their fat-loss efforts.  And the cool part is that if you can get your body back to where it should be,  like I was able to do through diet (eating more) and minimal cardio, then carbs can come back with minimal negative effects. Though some with PCOS will always be insulin resistant and carbs will need to be low to keep fat off. 

So, yes, women and men are the same as we can eat similar but there are unique things that may change what and how we need to eat to reach fat loss and health goals.

On to the food recipe!!!....
Ok, so that being laid out there. I don't eat low carb anymore because things are going well but as it pertains to the meal in question I had delved into a bag of pretzels and had a bowl of cereal for breakfast (those that know me know that when I say "a bowl of cereal" just double or triple it). So needless to say I had loaded on carbs for the day and by dinner I was out of my allotted amount. I needed some fats and protein! But the rest of the family wanted pasta.  So here's what we did:

I had frozen shrimp, gluten free pasta, tomatoes and eggs. 
-I thawed the shrimp while boiling the pasta. 
-When that was boiling away I had my 3 egg omelet cooking in a pan (I had 3 whole eggs for the fat and protein, if I was limiting fat I would have done 4 egg whites),  tossed in some shrimp, flipped, and let it cook.
-While the omelet was cooking I mixed the stewed tomatoes with the drained pasta and shrimp in the hot pot. Picture ----->
- Plated the pasta/shrimp and sauce up for the hubs and the kid. 

- By then my omelet was done I sprinkled some pesto on top and plated that.  <-----picture p="">
- We all sat down to eat.

Oh and since we require something GREEN at every meal I heated up some frozen green beans...1 minute in the microwave. No biggie. 

This is what I call an overlapping meal...
3 people eating the same foods, different amounts with different nutrient needs.

We also watch our added sugars so instead of pasta sauce I made it with stewed basil and garlic tomatoes. This gave great flavor, less sugar, 1/2 the sodium and it stretched the serving size. My main focus is lowering sugars not total carbs or fat or anything, but it comes along with it sometimes. You can see the nutrition differences here:
Stewed tomatoes, Store brand

Toddler approved protein pancakes...the best!

Do you ever have a hard time getting your kids to eat anything other than cereal for breakfast? Well, we all know that breakfast is important, especially for kids who are headed off to school to use their brains to learn new things every day.  Breaking an all night fast with a sugary cereal, pop tart or waffle and syrup is not ideal for a growing brain, let alone a growing body. Being both gluten and dairy free helps us get in the good foods because we avoid most processed "gluten free" foods by cooking most things from scratch. But breakfast, in the morning is always a challenge, especially when we need to get in some protein for growing bones and muscles...both the kids' and ours :)

I have made tons of different types of protein pancakes. Many of them were ones that I can eat every day, some I was just getting through telling myself they're pancakes (mostly the super high protein/no carb ones) but I still like them, they are good...but a 3 year old has a different idea of what a pancake is. Fluffy, a little more substance, and sweet flavor. 
So here it is friends! The recipe for the pancakes:
1/4 cup mashed overripe bananas about 2
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1cup oat flour (I did my oats finely ground in the food processor)
1 to 1 1/2 scoop About Time vanilla protein powder*
1tsp baking powder
coconut oil as needed

Mix oats and baking powder with the milk and mashed banana. Mix well.  Add in 1/2 scoop or so of protein powder, mix well again. Scoop by 1/4 cup fulls onto greased heated pan. (I added a teaspoon or so to the pan for each pancake as they got a bit stuck and I like crispy.) If it fluffs up or is a weird constancy then add some milk (this could be your protein powder). After cooking a few for the kiddo I added a whole scoop of powder to the rest of the batter for myself and added a splash of milk to thin it out then cooked the rest. *you can leave out the protein all together, but I am always trying to get more protein into my kid's any my own diet

We didn't top with anything, the super ripe banana is just sweet enough to make it good to eat without adding more sugary substances...though if you need then local honey would be tasty!
 It made about 6 pancakes....G's were cut into an Easter egg shape since she thought that would make it taste better...
I hope you all enjoy it! MMMMM

This recipe was adapted from Oven Haven blog here:

Fit mommy, fit baby!

Hi everyone! I hope Spring is going well and you're as happy as I am to be out of the cold and into the (already) sweltering heat! It makes me happy :)  Guess what?! I was a featured blogger on For Two Fitness! They sell some pretty cool workout clothes for pregnant moms but also provide great advice on staying healthy and working out. Check out my blog here!  Then stop in and check out the rest of their website.

On another note:
We just finished a "Spring into Summer" 6 week lifestyle challenge at the HeartStrong Fitness studio and the winners were announced!

All the final check ins done and the winner was announced in our private facebook group but I thought I'd let everyone know that Michelle Leaf was our grand prize winner of the Spring into Summer 6 week challenge! She has done amazing! Such a great inspiration!
*EVERYONE lost inches (and that's what we want...smaller and tighter!) 
*not everyone lost pounds but I always say it's not about the scale in the grand scheme of things  next time we'll change it up for the final results. But I am so proud of everyone who did this challenge and I hope you all keep up the workouts and healthy choices! Thank you!

This challenge gave me some grief a little bit. See, I always say that it's about the inches lost not what the scale says....but for this challenge sake, to make it fair, we had to do percent of total weight lost. This is an easier one that will be most fair across the board. I'm thinking I'll rearrange the way I do the next challenge because inches are certainly much more telling of body change than just the scale. I mean, I'm all about gaining muscle, and that's just what everyone did! yay!

Hope you have a happy and healthy weekend!

Take Stock.

Do you ever look back on what you wanted to be when you grew up and then compare to what you are doing now? Do you look at your goals to see if you're still going in the direction you set out in? We're 6 months through the year and I'm well into my adult life, it might be time to take stock.

"CEO with a corner office" "A teacher" "a lawyer" "jet setting business woman" "President" "Expert on tv"....I said it all as a kid, and by kid I mean pretty close to college graduation!

Let's see how it's turned out for me so far:

Truthfully, I really was on the path to the "corner office" in my book.  Heck, I already worked from home when I wanted or out of whatever office I was near and traveled around doing what I loved, teaching others to do the job all while helping people choose education over mediocrity (at least that's how I would have written it on my resume if it was acceptable!) Then I got a graduate degree to boot. So can I check corner office off for now? I know I'll get back to it when kids are grown/in school and I have the opportunity to have career #2. Let's say "1/2 check"

Here's your sign: At Christmas last year, while going through old stuff at my parents' house, I found an old book I wrote in 1st grade. It was about New Years resolution in 1989. Way back then I wrote: "my resolution is to exercise more!"  I did not need to lose weight, I was a tiny, energetic kid, my parents did not exercise in any excessive way, we just hiked, biked, skied, swam and played. But fitness was certainly on my mind back then as much as it is now!  And now, look what I'm I am CEO of HeartStrong Fitness Studio "check"

Back as a kid, there were times when I would watch the old Fitness USA competitions of the 90s or Arnold bodybuilding on TV and wonder if I could ever do it.....then I did, with a 1st and 2nd place win in 2 competitions post baby!.. so I'd say goal accomplished there. "check"

Lastly, I always wanted letters after my name....Niccole Celeste Howard, MBA, CPT, CSN "check"

So, for now, in my 32 1/2 year of life, as it pertains to career (family is a whole different checklist...that is well underway and totally perfect!) I think I can confidently say I'm on track...that doesn't sound very confident does it? :)
Sometimes I feel I've leapt  without looking, like I should be in a different place considering where I was and all the effort I put into a career, like I'm not as in control of my career as I thought I'd be at this point, like I might be making excuses because I have a toddler that I love more than work. But if you break it down, weigh happiness with work-life balance with family desires then I may be RIGHT on track. I have plenty of time to reach goals, as a business owner it takes time and starting one with babies and kids around is a head start compared so some that do it later in life. Successful business owner: "Check in progress"

Slow and steady or Easy off, Easy on?

Which one are you looking for?

Here's the deal, "slow and steady wins the race" isn't something that someone just came up with to sound cute. It's actually true in many aspects of life...(and not true in others, I know.). But for fat loss we can't expect to win the race of life with a 5 day cleanse, a 7 day or even a 25 day period of time.  Life is much longer than that and it takes many months (even years) of making good choices to really turn your health, your habits and your life around. You may lose fat or inches in a short amount of time but the faster it comes of, the faster it can come right back on!
I just don't like when trainers or "coaches" feel the need to push these marketing brands that sell quick weight loss bars, shakes or meal replacements (frankly, I don't want my meals replaced!) Do they not TRUST their instincts and education or their own ability to teach people the right way (not the easy way)?  

Getting a "jump start" is certainly good but learning how to do it so you're happy and not craving things should be the way to do it not craving and waiting for the ## days to be over till you can eat *insert favorite food here*. You want something that you don't need to keep taking just to maintain you weight loss. Or something that will lead you to believe that fat loss is in a bottle or package and it's easy. It's not.  So do your research, start eating right, start moving more and find your patience! Fill your plate with veggies and protein, do it right and you will be happier with the end result! But if these products help you get your mind right, get you on track and going towards a lifestyle...then great. But it's not often it ends up that way.

s are fine (I take things to boost my health, multivitamin, protein powder, fish oil, iron, vitamin d)  and they help for things that you may be lacking but "tricks" like pills and shakes aren't for everyone and shouldn't be relied on. Rely on hard work and healthy lifestyle. 

Why not learn it the right way and make it a lifestyle rather than a period of time. Don't look back, change your ways and you won't need tricks, you'll eat yummy food and stay fit and healthy.

Want to make it a lifestyle? chose things that fit in with your life...for example. I signed up for a virtual 5k because I was never available for the ones around town. But these type of events got us out and going. So this time around I chose one I can do with myself or with friends on my own time. I didn't want to...because you all know I'm not a runner! But It was something I paid for and committed I did it. You need to find something that gets you going, gets you committed and gets you do do it. Garden, walk, fun, hike, swim...whatever, but make it part of your day. Lunch breaks, cancelled appointments (that's when I did mine!), random free hour. Just make it fit. You can do it, I know you can!
Side-note: I fell in love with the top picture that I got from FitNix on Instagram, I was having a conversation about this topic when I scrolled right over this pic...couldn't have been a coincidence... she's also on facebook She is a good source of info too. (I don't know her...just met her at the Arnold one time...but I love see her posts :) )

We don't eat the same?!

I get many questions about nutrition but the one that I get most come from the women that are trying to get their nutrition on track is that they have to deal with feeding a family or husband on that meal plan! The dilemma is how is Mom supposed to eat when she has kids don't eat what you eat and husbands that tend to eat way more than you eat.  Think of it this way, your kids are growing and run everywhere, they don't even comprehend how to walk through the house, they play sports and are jumping up and down in place because its annoying...I Your husband is, well, a man, and typically he's bigger than you, or taller than you and his metabolism is different than yours. Our needs aren't the same as our husbands' needs.

Here's my husband is a "hard gainer" meaning, he can pack away 5,000-7,000 calories a day and maybe gain a few. He walks around with a 6-pack because he is so naturally lean, it's really just not fair...some may say he's thin, some say lean, whatever it is, the guy needs to eat more than he does. When he gets on a workout kick (which is few and very far between) he needs even more calories since he's burning some.  I blame this on years of high school and college wrestling requiring him to diet down from small to smaller (we're talking 3%-5% bodyfat at best), so now, he can just "forget" to eat (what?! how does that even happen?)

We went on vacation for 6 days and he gained 7 pounds...he weighed at the doctor, same scale same time of day 10 days apart....the man doesn't gain weight on my food for months! Clearly I need to cook with more oil and fats because that's what we ate all week and that's what he needs. Wait, did I mention his fitness goals are to gain weight? that might make more those of you whose mindset tends towards the losing weight scenarios.

So back to our nutrition issues.... how does a woman eat when she has a hungry man in the house and maybe even some growing little ones to feed to?  We have always been told that "mom is not a short-order cook" but what if you were, for you? Then you can cook what they need and still eat what you need. That is exactly what I tell my nutrition clients whose biggest complaint is that they can't get the small amount of good food they need because they are always cooking and eating what the rest of the family wants.  I have made it through baby weight-loss, competition prep and normal life now by figuring out how to incorporate what THEY eat and what I eat into one quick and easy cooking process.  It is pretty much an "overlap". We all need veggies, check. We all need a protein, check. We don't all need a filler/ I cook everything together that I can and they get more of the filler (quinoa, sweet potato, brown rice, noodles...) and that would be my measured out portion of what I need or I just don't eat it and I make sure I measure or weight out the portion I need of the chicken/fish/ground turkey....

Here is a meal that I cook often:  (what you don't see is the Amie's GF/organic veggie chili I popped in the microwave for 2 mins. In this case the protein of the meal is different because I didn't want bean/veggie chili so I whipped up some scrambled egg awesome go-to!)
sweet potato puffs and Brussels sprouts
all cooked on the same pan!
caramelized some onion (totally optional)
and scrambled some egg whites while waiting for oven stuff.
Toddler gets this because she loves
sweet potato puffs and we make her eat the rest

Husband gets this massive pile of SP puffs (almost whole bag)
Brussels sprouts, plus chili and onions

I get this, 4 egg whites, enough puffs to satisfy
 and all the Brussels sprouts I want
See, easy-peasy. Just "overlap" your food so you aren't cooking two different meals. Eat the same healthy, lean protein (and if not then whip up some egg whites for your self, they go with everything!). It is perfectly fine to be a short-order cook if you are doing for your own benefit and health. It won't feel as bad either since you are doing something for yourself. You're eating healthier, smaller portions, keeping food cooking to a minimum and keeping cleaning low because you are using all the same pans.

I will do this with everything...I may have some more suggestions in a few days so keep checking here and Facebook for more meal ideas!

Happy, Healthy Day Friends!

MY version of Fit

These are my thoughts lately. As I'm not seeing fast enough changes, or changes that I'd like to see in my self I have to remind myself of these things:

I lift heavy weights. 
I eat well.
I overeat sometimes. 
I stay active. 
I'm lazy at times. 
I workout 5-6 days a week. 
I take extra days off to be with my kid.
I stay
My version of fit.
My fitness inspirations have a lot of muscle. I have more than I have ever had. I would love more and am working towards those goals. Genetics play a large role and hard work plays a large role. Life circumstances are factors.
But no matter where I'm at in my journey...I will ways be#MYversionofFit. I want you to strive to by YOUR version of fit. One of my fitness idols (Brooke Erickson) puts it are #goodenough

It is important to remind yourself why you do things and what you are doing them for....double check yourself too.  And when you figure it out put it out there into the world, post it on my facebook page or comment here. I'd love to see what YOUR version of fit your pictures on my facebook page with the hashtag #MyVersionofFit

Happy and healthy day, friends!

Cookies?! mmmmm

A "cookie" recipe!

Happy "Spring"...but I feel wierd saying that. Here's a tip to brighten up your day maybe!
Now, I've never claimed to be a master chef or an amazing baker but I like to eat, I like simple and I like to make things healthier than they started. Every chance I get I will try something I find on Pinterest or some other blog. This one I tried 5 minutes after seeing, I wanted a cookie that bad.  For this one, I had to put "cookie" in quotes because I just can't call it a cookie...but it was so good they disappeared from the plate faster than I could grab another.  

You'll need a food scale for this...You should probably go ahead and get one anyways....but this was posted by Lean Bodies Consulting on their Facebook page .They always post things that would be "on plan" for nutrition clients and weighing is always the best form of measurement. But I've added what they would roughly translate too. These are 'carbalicious' so would be a great post workout snack! 

Sweet potato Cookie:
200g sweet potatoes (cooked and cooled) (about 3 small)
2 whole eggs
30g almond butter (about 1 tbsp)
1 tbsp of cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350, combine all ingredients until the batter is thick and smooth. Drop small balls of the batter onto a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes and then FLIP the cookies and bake for an additional 5 minutes (very important). Cool on a cooling rack.
**The cooling rack is an important step because of the moisture in the sweet potatoes so let them cool before you eat them.


Nutrition facts (as determined by myfitness pal):
4 cookies= 115 calories
                     11g carbs
                      6g fat
                       5 g protein
                      2 g fiber

New Year, New food mmmm...

So January is over and I am now asking about the resolutions you've made for 2014....why now? Because it's about now that you are probably moving on from them :)  Resolutions, goals, personal fixes, do-overs,...whatever you call them I want you to think about them as Superbowl Sunday approaches us this weekend!
One of my many goals I set for myself was to add more recipes. I used to do it a lot so I'm going to post more recipes and workouts per blog. The recipes will be gluten free and mostly dairy free so I hope I can help those of you who are just finding out you need to be either one, or both, of those. It's rough when trying to change how you eat/cook so if I can help I will certainly try. Eating healthy is pretty much the only way we eat in our house, not because we try so hard but mostly because that's the stuff I like, and I cook so it ends up that way. We do like to splurge but our splurges tend to be Thai or sushi which are not the worst we could choose.
Here's the deal though. I'm not a chef, not even a wonderful cook. But I love to eat and I hate to shop soooo that means that I've become really good at figuring out how to put together meals with whatever is in the cabinet and they usually end up tasty, if I do say so myself.  I also have a few rules when it comes to recipes that I use. Due to my laziness most recipes will have 6 ingredients or less and about 5 steps or less (most will include one step that says "put all ingredients in a bowl and stir" :) ) So if you want easy and fast...I'm your girl...wait, I'll like my food suggestions.
Here's a great one for the Superbowl:

Peanut butter balls...
we did this regularly as a kid, it may even be the first recipe i memorized. It is great for the sweet tooth but will fill you up.
1 cup peanut butter (an all natural PB is recommended — the only ingredient necessary is crushed peanuts)
1 cup honey
3 cups rolled oats (oatmeal)
1 cup dried fruit (we like crasins in our house but mini dark chocolate or rasins would do)
unsweetened coconut
Mix the first four ingredients together thoroughly. Form them into balls (makes about 10-12 depending on size) then roll them in the crushed nuts, granola cereal, or unsweetened coconut. Serve or refrigerate.
Nutrition Info:
Recipe yields four dozen quarter-sized balls.
Nutritional information per serving: 100 calories; 5 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 12.2 g carbohydrates; 2.8 g protein; 4.4 mg sodium; 1.5 g fiber; 7.1 g sugar

Super Workout:
10 "field goal" Crunch- Lay on back with arms and legs stretched out and raise shoulders up while lifting legs and hold for 2 counts.
10 supermans- (reverse of elongated crunch) Lay on belly and raise legs and arms, hold for 2 count and lower
10 out and in ab crunches
20 touchdowns- stand with feet apart take left hand and as you side step to the right you touch left hand to the right foot. Then side jump/step to the left and bend to touch right hand to left foot. Alternating sides.
10 Squat sidekicks each leg - squat and then kick leg to the side kind of like a roundhouse kick.
10 Switch lunge jumps
15 Single leg squat each side
10 run-downs...20 high knee run in place and drop down for a pushup then repeat
15 tricep dips.
Repeat this 1 to 5 times before the game starts then at least once at the you don't snack too much!

Do you even....?

How did you all do on the Transformation challenge? I didn't do too bad. I had a great transformation! It came about in how I thought about food, working out, and life. Everything came together, on point, and ended with the lifestyle that I can maintain and a body that I am not always trying to change.  I'm out of the competition mindset (but that doesn't mean I can't do it again ;) ) just that I can do it without so much damaging prep. I hope you all have found a way to live a healthy lifestyle....

But that's where I start with the question "Do you even...?" We've all seen the memes 'do you even...' fill- in- the-blank-with-whatever-the-creator-was-trying-to-make-a-point-about.  Do you even lift? Do you even run? do you even crochet? Meaning, "...Well you should!"  Here's what I take from that, just try it! whatever "it" is. For me, it has always been running. I just don't like it. I like lifting, I like sprinting, I like rowing, I like sports, I like sitting around (yep, I'm actually a lazy person deep down inside). But running has always been my nemesis.  Most of you all know that I have done my fair share of 1/2 marathons...well 2, or was it 3? I'm pretty sure it would be that easy for me to block one out. Because I "don't even run". But I do challenge myself...a lot.  I like goals and when I get something in my head, I pretty much make sure it happens. This could be a fault, but whatever, it works out in the end.

I have, in the past, gotten up in the morning, walked down to the Mission Bay and whatever 10k was starting, I'd jump on in (yes, we were non committal and cheap in our younger years :) ). That was a challenge for me, because I always had to beat THAT person. The one that TOTALLY shouldn't be in front of me (but they refused to realize it). So to get my competitiveness out I'd compete against said runner-that-isn't-really-faster-than-me and kill my legs until I crossed that finish line ahead of them. Then I would sit on the grass and pretend to take in the ocean view while deep down I was hoping my legs wouldn't fall off and my lungs wouldn't vacate my chest cavity. And I'd do this on multiple weekends...yeah, I don't know why either.

Since moving to the Midwest 10ks are few and far between in my town. We have a ton of 5ks but for some reason 10 is just a bit too far...could be because you can't go more than 5k without running into a hill, and no one really wants to be running hills for any length of  'Ks'.  So I don't do that many and I really miss it. Until APRIL 19th...yep, I'm doing The Color Vibe and it's right here in my own town! We don't get much here, especially big organized ones, I mean there are about 2 organizations that put on runs regularly and it's always the same people, so this will be so cool!  A national company is bringing the color run to Jeff City. People are so stoked about it that it's mid January and there are more teams than I can count registered and the buzz is awesome. I can't wait to get doused in color. And the best part is that for the first time my running buddy (by then she'll be 3) will get to do it out of the stroller. So I can safely tell you it won't be a PR run for me but it will be a Personal Best in that I think G will LOVE getting colored while running around with friends.

So for my local folks, I have a team, HeartStrong 'n' Fit team (oh and I got ya $5 off too), we'll all wear a STRONG white shirt and I'll have to let you all know how it goes...unless you do it with me, then you'll already know how it was.

Pasta, Gluten and Experiments confirmed!

As most people that know my family know, or if you’ve read the blog for a while, 2 of the 3 of us are gluten and dairy free, not by choice, the third person eats that way simply because it’s easier that way than explaining to a toddler why Daddy gets to eat different stuff all the time.  You can find the background, how we found out, how long it took and all of that on the “Gluten Free” tab.  Being gluten free is not really that difficult to do, especially if eating it gives you pain, it’s pretty easy to stick to.  The thing that makes it the most difficult is dealing with outsiders, people that don’t believe in it (which is just plain annoying) or when we go out and really don’t want to be “those” customers asking for so many substitutions.

Let me explain the worst part… I am half ITALIAN!  That means that when we make our traditional homemade ravioli complete with spinach and ricotta filling, I don’t get to participate and G, for the first time that she would be able to actually appreciate it, wouldn’t get to have any!  But we found a way around it….so transpired THE GREAT GLUTEN EXPERIMENT OF 2013…and it was perfect!  Enter Italian flour.  That’s it. Italian flour.  You’re probably wondering why? How? And could it work for you too?  Well, I don’t know because it was a total experiment and every individual is different.  But you gotta be curious how we came upon this awesome discovery:

My sister and Brother-in-law spent 5 weeks over the last summer in Europe.  The whole trip was about living it up, with trips, fun…and food.  She ate everything and anything she wanted.  Pasta, pasta, pasta. Baguettes and formagio (cheese), croissants, crepes…you name it.  All the while she didn’t have any pain while noshing on all of that goodness, she noticed the lack of stomach issues but didn’t think a whole lot about it. 

Then they came back to the US, stayed with us for a couple of weeks, where she was gluten free so she didn’t really notice anything.  Then it was off to Oregon, home of her husband.  Well, there were sandwiches, toast, cereal and beer…and there was pain.  So much so her husband freaked out and tried dragging her to the ER.  That didn’t happen but she gave up gluten at that moment and never looked back (well, until the blood test that made her eat it for a few weeks). 
            They did research upon research and one of the findings was that 90% of Latin Americans are gluten intolerant.  I said I was half Italian…well my other half is Nicaraguan.  That would explain why 2 aunts and my own daughter were diagnosed within 6 months of each other.

That brings us to another connection.  A family friend who is a doctor, had been gluten free for 15 years, went to Europe for a month and said “forget it, I’m going to eat it all and just live with the pain”. (Apparently we all just need to let it all go in Europe?)  But there was no pain either.  My sister was so glad to hear that, it kind of confirmed that she wasn’t making it up!

So on to our experiment.  I was pretty bummed that I couldn’t eat the ravioli that I would spend hours upon hours pressing and filling and cutting.  My dad, wanting his first and only granddaughter to be able to eat the ravioli, had a genius idea: we can try getting the same flour they used in Europe that others had so successfully been able to eat.  So he special ordered a few pounds of flour and on Ravioli Day we got to mixing…and I got to eating, and sampling, and making, and sampling (I love dough) and finally I got to eat some cooked ones for lunch.  My reactions are usually within 45 minutes to 2 hours so we waited.  We kept cranking the pasta press, filling and pressing and cutting and every so often my dad would say “how do you feel?”  I kinda felt like a lab rat to be honest   Anyway, after a few hours and even the next day….NOTHING.  I ate a TON of pasta and didn’t hurt J   (to see pics of us making it keep scolling down)

Just to confirm it all, 2 days later I went out for Mexican food with 10 of my cousins and I decided to just go for it…and I paid for it.  So yes, I am still able to get sick off merely sauce and chips.  That was phase 2 of the Great Gluten Experiment of 2013, and it failed.  CONCLUSION: Italian flour did not hurt me!

There is a lot of research out there on gluten intolerance and why or how it occurs or why some people get it.  Some doctors are saying that even intolerance can be called Celiac because so many have it these days that they just should call it all Celiac..but that’s not the case yet.  I’m not here to go into all of that, find a great allergist or gastroenterologist to help you with that.  The research that I’m intrigued by is the research about GMO wheat and how that is what is really affecting those that are intolerant or Celiac.  Why would some people get diagnosed in their 60s or older when for the first 50 years of their lives they were eating everything and were, seemingly, without symptoms?  Or why so many young people can’t tolerate substances that once were so common? Or why the flour in Europe doesn't affect people like the flour we get here in the US?  From what I’ve read, a lot of the chemicals and GMO processes we use here are illegal in many other countries.  That may tell us something.  I don’t know.  Like I said, I’m not a scientist, doctor or researcher but I can tell you that from my, and others in my life’s, experiences, the flour here hurts and the flour from Italy doesn’t.  That’s all this is experiment was about but it sure got the questions flowing.

I like to say that if your Grandmother didn't eat it, couldn't get it or can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

The moral is, do your own research, do your own experiments if you have to and figure out what’s right for you.  Everybody is different and has different levels of tolerance to various foods or allergens.  Find doctors that support you, help you.

Just live the way that makes you happy and healthy. 

how we made it:
after rolling it in the press: filling it:

pressing ("forking"):Cutting:

The finished product...mmmmm: