Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Meal prep, ain't nobody got time for dat!

uh, yeah ya do!

I'm always telling myself that there needs to be more hours in a day.  With all of the things that take up our precious time--work, commuting, exercising, cleaning, TRYING to have a social life, it's easy to brush off food shopping and cooking and fall into "take-out" or "fast food" rutt.  Not only is it costly on your bank account, if you don't choose wisely, it can be costly on your waistline as well! Don't get me wrong, I love getting home, putting on the TV (and sweats) and having whatever glorious meal I'm craving arrive after just a few taps of my Seamless app. 

Soooo... while you can't ALWAYS have food in the fridge or the time to cook, you should take advantage of it when you do.  This weekend I spent a few  hours (3-4) food shopping and meal prepping for myself and Mike.  Again, the shopping list contained mostly lean proteins, veggies and some fruits.  Below are photo's of the food and the meals! 

Here's a list of what I made, feel free to reach out for the recipes or if you have any questions!  It's a lot to take on at once in the kitchen, but knowing that all I have to do is open the fridge and pull out a Tupperware for the next few days makes life a whole lot easier ;)

Main dishes:
- Broiled cod with cherry tomatoes, onions & garlic
- Turkey meatloaf with mushroom & onion gravy
- Sautéed chicken with spices

- Roasted zucchini
- Roasted sweet potatoes
- Roasted brussels sprouts
- Steamed & sautéed string beans w/ garlic & onions
- Steamed & sautéed broccoli



Just for fun, a shot of Mike working hard!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Update - Day 5

Good afternoon!  I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving a few extra days off, I know I did :)
So while we didn't start taking the Advocare 24 Day Challenge supplements until Saturday morning (original state date was Friday), my boyfriend and I weighed in on Friday (THE DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING, I SWEAR I DON'T WEIGHT THAT MUCH!), went food shopping, meal prepped, worked out and started eating right. 
We bought some lean proteins (ground turkey-93/7, shell steak, chicken breast, cod), lots of veggies (broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, baby carrots...), eggs, hummus.. you get the idea.  We literally shopped the perimeter of the supermarket which they say is the healthiest way to go.  No sugary snacks, refined foods, sodas and juices.
For dinner Friday we had baked cod with tomatoes and onions (topped with fresh lemon) with string beans and brussels sprouts on the side (see picture).  The meal was definitely easy to make, light, filling and satisfying.  Most importantly, it got the boyfriend's approval!
Saturday started out with our Fiber Drink in the morning, a meal replacement shake and Spark followed by a solid workout.  I won't lie, I had a lot of trouble with the fiber drink.  While Mike was able to chug it down in probably less than 30 seconds, I let the texture get to me which made it hard to endure.  (Luckily, by day 3, I chugged that drink down like a pro! Mind over matter right?) 
I followed the same routine Sunday morning (fiber drink, meal replacement shake & spark) and went to the gym.  I had scrambled eggs with veggies after the gym for lunch and a salad with chicken for dinner.  When I'm hungry I snack on apples, baby carrots or quest bars.
Just for fun, we weighed ourselves again on Sunday (they recommend only weighing in every 2 weeks) .  In only two days we both lost 4+ lbs.  Even though that 4lbs represents mostly water weight, it's still the motivation we needed to keep going. 
Today is day 5 and I can say that I do feel less bloated and "full".  Eliminating almost all sodium, dairy and sugar from your diet really makes a difference in how you and your stomach feel.  Looking forward to seeing how I feel on day 24!
I also just found out one of my brothers friends just started the challenge yesterday.  I'm sure she's going to be pleased with her results.
Again, for any information on Advocare or personal training at New York Sports Club,
Contact Mike (Select I already know a distributor, select name and state, type Michael Brizzolara, NJ) OR
Have a great week!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Back... on a MISSION!

It's been too long since I've posted and it's time to get real!  The next 24 days are going to be challenging and I will definitely need an outlet to express my thoughts and possibly frustrations.  What better place than here? 

This Friday, after Thanksgiving, myself and two others will be starting Advocare's 24 Day Challenge!  My boyfriend, Mike, recently became an Advocare distributor and swears by their products.  Being a personal trainer, he understands peoples goals of leading an active and healthy lifestyle.  While exercise is a crucial component in the equation, what you put in your body and do outside of the gym is even more important. 

My weight has fluctuated between 115 and 135 since college. I am guilty of extreme dieting and sometimes exercising in excess.  While I haven't gone to any extremes lately, I must say that I have not been treating my body as well as I should be.  I still workout 3-4x a week, but I have been indulging in less healthy foods and probably a little too much beer and wine.  What can I say?  We are all guilty of overindulging at some point in our lives. 

With that being said, what's a better time to start to get back on track than after Thanksgiving--the holiday built on FOOD!  Andddddddd it'll be over right before Christmas :)  The 24 Day Challenge isn't a "drastic", "unhealthy" or "extreme" program.  The program focuses on vitamins, supplements, meal replacements and an herbal cleanse.  While I have never actually followed a specific program, I am excited to start and have a regime.  I really believe this will get me back in a "rhythm" of being more conscious of what I put in my body and give me a better overall feeling of health and wellness. 

On the program, we will need to eliminate alcohol, dairy (THIS IS GOING TO BE HELL-I LIVE OFF OF CHEESE!!!!), fried fatty foods, refined carbs and sugars amongst other items.  It's not going to be easy, but I've already set a meal plan for the first 10 days (the cleanse phase) so that I don't get off track.  I'll update you on our status every few days.  We're going to be taking before and after photos for accountability also (yikes!). 

While I would like to shed close to 10 pounds, I am not going to get hung up with the number on the scale.  If I see improvement in my before/after photos, feel tighter and more energized after the 24 days, I will consider it a success and keep on working towards my health and fitness goals.  

Sooooo... with all this starting in just 2 days, I'm going out tonight (the biggest drinking night of the year) to celebrate life, love and happiness.. and hopefully not a hangover tomorrow.  I'll have my last few drinks and last huge meal before really buckling down!  It's only 24 days but right now it seems like an eternity!

Comment/Email me if you're interested in seeing what my 10 day meal plan looks like!

Also, if you're looking for advice related to any Advocare products including the 24 Day Challenge, feel free to contact Mike Brizzolara, who's an extremely knowledgeable Distributor and personal trainer who can work with you to achieve your goals.

Contact Mike (Select I already know a distributor, select name and state, type Michael Brizzolara, NJ)


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hey there!

I'm just updating to say that today I'm starting to be more strict with my diet and exercise and keep you guys updated with my results/progress.  I eat and cook healthy the vast majority of the time, but if you've read my other blog, Journey to a CPA, you'd know I've been pretty stressed out lately with studying and balancing life.  The past few days I ate very poorly.  When I am stressed out and overwhelmed I crave carbs, sweets, anything I can get my hands on.  After about 4 days of "letting myself go" I knew I had to get back on track.  I took my test yesterday and ended my streak of binge eating. 

I started off today with fruit for breakfast (watermelon, strawberries & blueberries) and for lunch I had a salad with grilled chicken, avocado, red onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and baby lettuce with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Now I'm munching on pomegranate and more strawberries and blueberries.  The main things I plan to almost eliminate from my diet (at least for a few weeks until I'm satisfied with how I feel inside and out) are chips (even the "healthy kinds"), breads, pastas, ice cream, frozen yogurt, and any full fat cheeses.  Basically I'm limiting my intake of not-so-good-for-you carbs, cheese (which I normally don't go a day without), and watching with the sweets, even frozen yogurt which I LOVE!!! After a few weeks, once I feel back on track, I will slowly begin to incorporate some of these foods back into my diet in moderation.  I just feel like I need a good "detox".  I am not one to juice or do a cleanse, and frankly if you eat clean foods and exercise, I think you'll feel better and get greater results!  Can't wait to hit the gym tonight! 

"The race is long and in the end it's only with yourself."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Snack Time!

Hi Everyone!

Sorry it's been a few days, I have been busy studying for my upcoming test---YIKES! 

Hope your holiday weekend was a great one, the weather was sure to please!  I wasn't able to make it to the beach but nonetheless I enjoyed some good times with my boyfriend and his friends, picked up my new car and had a Memorial Day BBQ :) (new recipes soon to come). 

For now, I wanted to share with you all two of my favorite energy/food bars, Raw Revolution's Organic Live Food Bar (Spirulina & Cashew Flavor) and Greens + Chia Energy Chocolate Bar.  

I came across the Raw Revolution bar at my local Stop and Shop.  I was attracted to it rather than the 30 other bars on the shelf because it's made with all organic and live foods.  The ingredients include dates, cashews, sunflower seeds, spirulina, and sprouted flax seeds among others.  

One of my favorite ingredients is the spirulina due partly to its high protein content.  Spirulina is a complete protein, which means it has an adequate amount of all nine essential amino acids necessary for dietary needs.  Spirulina is packed with essential fatty acids, as well as number of B, C, D & E Vitamins.  Regular spirulina intake has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol and blood pressure and also be effective in reducing allergic rhinitis, which can often lead to chronic sinusitis.  

I'm also a big fan of flax seeds, which are in the Raw food bar as well.  Flax seeds can be found in a number of foods today--bars, chips, crackers, granola and almond butter (amongst others).  Flax seeds have numerous components which them beneficial to your health, but the three items which outshine the rest are their Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids, Lignans and Fiber.  

As many of you may already know, Omega 3 Fatty Acids are the "good" fats we should all be consuming to keep our hearts healthy.  Flax seeds contain more lignans than any other plant food.  These lignans contain many antioxidant qualities.  Lastly, diets rich in fiber help regulate your digestive system and satisfy cravings.  

Now that you know some of the chemistry that makes up the Raw food bar, how does it taste? Surely it cannot taste great if it's THAT great if it's that healthy for you is what you're probably thinking.  Well, in my opinion, it's not molten chocolate lava cake, but it is pretty good.  The texture is rather "soft/mushy" but it's not too gritty and the cashew and other nut flavors dominate any plant taste one might expect from the spirulina.  At only $1 and change at local supermarkets, this fully organic, no sugar added bar is definitely one of your best bets.  I pack one in my purse at all times and whenever I need a pick me up, or just feel hungry, I munch on one. 

Now, the second bar I mentioned, Greens + Chia was actually given to me as a gift.  I received a box during the holidays from a friend and was apprehensive to try them.  Boy was I wrong!  If you're looking for taste AND nutrition, this is your choice.  The one I prefer is the chocolate energy bar.  This bar is packed with super-foods and coated with chocolate... what's there not to like?  The ingredients are too voluminous to name individually, but I will definitely point out some pros of this bar. 
First, contains no processed sugar, salt, corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, synthetic sweeteners, preservatives, or genetically-modified foods of any kind.  High fructose corn syrup, as well as added sugars in general, have been shown to cause adverse side effects--weight gain, cavities and even higher triglyceride levels making you at greater risk for heart attacks.  High fructose corn syrup has also been shown to be addictive which explains why people become so dependent on certain foods to lift their moods and make them feel satisfied.  Making sure the bars/snacks you choose are free of corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners is crucial. A little thing to watch out for when reading nutrition labels is "corn sugar."  Many companies have decided to remove the term "high fructose corn syrup" from their labels because educated consumers began thwarting products which contained HFCS.  People who read "corn sugar" may be tricked into thinking the item contains the vegetable "corn" & natural "sugar".  This isn't the case, and is just a fancy way companies are attempting to market their less than healthy items. 
 Next, because the bar does not contain any hydrogenated oils, your cholesterol levels are not at risk.  Foods containing hydrogenated oils (margarine, fried foods, processed foods & commercially baked goods to name a few) contribute to obesity, cardiovascular disease and even memory loss.  My goal here is to show you that this bar is made from the most organic, raw foods around and has nothing in it that will harm your body.  It's a flavorful, filling snack (or meal replacement if two bars are consumed) that will give your body energy and nutrients to push through a workout or even simply beat the afternoon blues at work until the clock strikes 5pm.

In a later post, I will include a how-to on homemade protein bars.  I've ventured down this path once and the results were pretty good.  Next time I make them, I will document the process and detail the recipe and steps so you can give it try for yourself!

Have a great (short) week everyone :)        



Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Monday!

Hope you all had a delightful and relaxing weekend.  I spend Friday night with my boyfriend having "date night."  I prepared our meal the night before so we didn't have to spend time cooking and cleaning.  I made grilled chicken breast and vegetable skewers accompanied by a light salad (recipe/preparation to follow below).  Saturday the two of us completed a 7 mile run together which was nice since the weather was so pleasant.  My mom actually worked on Mother's Day so I spent the day home studying preparing for my upcoming exam (while tanning in the yard as well).

 As far as this "recipe" goes, it's pretty effortless and customizable to your own tastes/wants.

For the chicken breast, I tried something new.  I marinated them in olive oil, cumin, ground cloves, turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper.  You can let this marinate for hours depending on when you prepare it and want to ultimately cook it.  

Chicken Marinating
As far as the kebabs, if you use wooden skewers like myself, you must soak them in water for about 30-45 minutes.  This will ensure they don't catch fire on the grill.  If you are using metal skewers then you save yourself this step!  I skewered the kebabs with sliced zucchini, yellow onion, orange pepper, cherry tomatoes, and Baby Bella mushrooms.  These are some of my favorite veggies but obviously you can pretty much substitute in any veggie you wish.

Skewered Veggies

I grilled the chicken breasts on high for about 10 minutes, flipping them once or twice making sure there are visible grill marks.  

I cooked the skewers on the top rack of the grill so they aren't in direct contact with the flame.  These take a little longer to cook than the chicken does so you want to throw them on about 10 minutes prior to the chicken or you can cook them with the chicken and just keep them on a little longer after you remove the chicken from the grill.  

A new salad I tried out included cherry tomatoes, scallions, watercress, and cucumber.  I halved the tomatoes, diced the cucumber, and chopped up some scallions and watercress.  I drizzled the salad with olive oil, sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  Simple yet tasty and refreshing.

Cucumber Tomato Salad
This meal was light and low in fat and carbohydrates.  The preparation is on the easy side, as most of the work lies in skewering and grilling the veggies and chicken.  The grilled veggies and chicken work great as leftovers too.  An easy meal to make on a gorgeous day whether it's just you and your significant other or a group of friends.  Everyone's sure to love it!

I came across a great quote today, "Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who are patient."  I find it so true!  Waiting and being patient are two different things.  No matter what life throws at you, where you are and where you want to be are all decided by YOUR hard work and determination.  Nothing good in life comes without struggle or persistence.  You can apply this to life in general, to your health and wellness goals or to a particular situation you may be facing.  For me currently, it's a little bit of each!  I know with hard work and patience my efforts will pay off in the long run in terms of my career, health and personal life.  So keep in mind that you must stick with whatever it is that you desire, and in the end with enough hard work you will obtain what you set out to achieve :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Friday! (& Happy Birthday Mommy!)

Good Afternoon Fellow Bloggers/Followers! Are you as happy as I am that today is Friday!?  I just wanted to share a quick afternoon snack that I am currently having at work which is a sliced banana drizzled with Natural Roasted Creamy Almond Butter and sprinkled with cinnamon. 

This snack is great because not only is it super tasty, the components are packed with vitamins, nutrients and overall health benefits.  Bananas are filled with dietary fiber (which aids digestion and curbs overeating), Vitamin B6 (which acts as an anti-inflammatory decreasing chances of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and obesity) and potassium (which aids in bone health and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels).  As you can see, there are many benefits to eating bananas.  

The Almond Butter has many of the same benefits as bananas plus more! It's good for your heart, can help lower blood pressure, contains antioxidants, and can help you maintain a healthy weight because of its high protein content which makes you feel full longer.  

Last but not least, you can't forget about the cinnamon!  Many people are surprised to find that incorporating a little cinnamon into your diet daily can add some great benefits.  A few of the benefits of cinnamon include it's ability to regulate blood sugar, reduce LDL cholesterol levels,  reduce pain linked to arthritis, lessen menstrual pain, increase fertility, and studies have also shown it may reduce chronic inflammation linked with various neurological disorders.

So why wouldn't you want to eat this delicious snack? I mean, if you're like my good friend Pete who's allergic to both bananas AND tree nuts (eh hem, ALMONDS)...well then you just suck!  Don't worry, I'll feature a great snack idea for any of you who are like my friend in the near future.

Anyways, I hope you all have a good weekend and Mother's Day, the weather looks very promising!  I will be off to happy hour in less than two hours which I am very excited about :)

Remember to make healthy choices this weekend! I'll be back towards the end of the weekend with some more yummy recipes and/or health tips.  Adios for now! 

"Being weak is a choice, so is being strong!" -Apply this to any goals you set, mentally or physically.  Whether it's running an extra mile or turning down that chocolate chip cookie, remember it's your choice, challenge your will power and you will appreciate the results.