Getting Back on Track After Vacation

My mom and I just got back from a lovely trip to South Carolina. Sadly, I must report that my inner carb goddess defeated me on vacation. This was my first vacation since kicking off a healthier lifestyle so I knew it would be a challenge with having restaurants as our only option. I figured I would make a few splurges here and there (it’s vacation after all) but after just a few unbelievably satisfying dishes in Charleston, it was too hard to stop.

After eating clean for the past few months, I noticed that my body was reacting much differently to “normal” food than it was prior to the challenge. I was consuming lots of carbs and fried foods which just ended up dragging me down. I was exhausted all day, no matter how much spark I drank! This was proof to me that what you put in your body has a direct effect on how you feel. Seems obvious, I know!

My mom loves to walk everywhere she possible can and being her first time in Charleston, she wanted to walk the whole city. I agree that it’s a great way to explore cities and find spots off the beaten road, but it sure takes a beating on your feet. Since we were not eating healthy, we decided to walk our calories off and explore. While in Charleston, we walked over 10 miles each day! Our feet sure hurt after that but kept it up, walking at least 6 miles each day in Myrtle Beach.

Now that I am back to reality, I am having regret over all the terrible (but yummy) food that I consumed over five days. Three pesky pounds in just five days – not cool inner carb goddess! During the 24 Day Challenge, it was a victory to get through a whole day with clean eating and not cave to those tempting treats. I am looking to making those small victories every day.

I am getting back up on that horse and picking right back up on the 80/20 plan. The trip was just a road bump in my journey, not a dead end like I am used to. I learned some very important lessons on how to eat while on vacation. I am looking forward to spending the weekend recipe hunting, grocery shopping and prepping for next week.

It was an amazing trip but I realize that the guilt for eating unhealthy is not worth it. I’ve learned that you can still enjoy some treats on vacation while eating healthy for most meals. You will have more energy to actually enjoy your vacation.

Hopefully this helps keep you motivated even when you fall off the horse for a little. No one is perfect. I will forever remember those cupcakes and biscuits but the rest of my meals seem like wasted calories that I have to fight hard to kick out of my body.

Lessons Learned:

  • Plan where you want to splurge – maybe it’s at that Italian restaurant that has 5 rave reviews about their tortellini.
  • Drink lots of water – most the time I ended up just being thirsty. It’s my inner carb goddess’ way of getting me to eat more. Trickery!
  • Stay active – walking everywhere ensured that we got our steps in and see some cool parts of the city.

Funny story: During my trip, I texted a friend who is currently doing the challenge, and told her that I was craving vegetables. I didn’t think you could crave vegetables but you sure can. She replied with “I think craving veggies is a sign of being a real adult!” Looks like I’m showing signs of being an actual adult! Crap!

Here are some of our favorite spots in Charleston:

Hot Little Biscuit – HOLY WOW! Best biscuits I’ve ever had, worth the splurge
Sugar – had the most amazing caramel cupcake with pecans on top, again worth the splurge
Five Loaves – great hidden gem off King Street for a casual lunch, order lots of half meals
Hominy Grill – amazing outdoor eating and phenomenal brunch – the pecan pie was unbelievable
The Griffin – dollar bills…just everywhere and of course I had to write happy birthday to my mom on one and stapled it to the wall

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It’s Finally Fall: Bring on the Flannel and Boots!

It’s the first day of fall and I am beyond excited for this season! Flannel, cozy sweaters, boots, scarves, and all things layered are ready to come out of everyone’s closet. It’s time to go apple picking, drink cider and eat apple cider donuts (you have to enjoy at least one, apple season is short and only happens once a year)!

In the past, as much as I love fall, it was never a good look on me. Sweaters made me look bulky, slimmer fit tops made me feel plump. But as I got dressed this morning, I realized that this was the first fall in as long as I can remember that I was truly excited for fall outfits. Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that my clothes have started to fit differently. Those boxy shirts I used to wear all the time are no longer my go to shirts! I am somehow pulling off outfits and styles I never thought I could. Who knew?

Thanks to my stylish roommates, I now own a pretty cool pair of Warby Parker glasses that arrived a few days ago. This morning I thought, what a perfect day for a fun fall outfit with my new glasses! My last pair of glasses was from high school (over 10 years ago!!) so it was time for a prescription….and style change.

Again, with the help from my roommate, I pulled together a pretty great first day of fall look. It almost felt like the first day of school! By no means do I consider myself stylish, but after several compliments from coworkers (thanks guys!), I figured I might as well do a little photo shoot!

I’ve learned something over the past few weeks. It’s funny because I’ve read blogs and articles before that had this overarching theme but never understood it until I started to change my lifestyle. Becoming healthy is not just about getting thin, it’s about gaining confidence in how you look and feel. I hope I can inspire others to make small changes to their everyday life to feel great about themselves. It’s a marathon not a sprint, and those small changes do make a huge difference in the long run.

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Happy Fall!!!!

Inner Carb Goddess’s Favorite Healthy Dishes

This year for Lent, I gave up pasta thinking it would inspire me to create healthier meals options. Not only did it not do that, it was surprisingly much harder than the 24 Day Challenge! I ended up replacing pasta with way worse meals like pizza, burgers, fries and sweets because I was still craving those heavenly white carbs. Instead of losing weight (like I thought would happen), I gained several pounds! Not having protein and vegetables in my diet was the reason giving up pasta was so much harder than the challenge. It’s funny what eating balanced meals will do for you!

Post challenge, I wanted to find recipes that were satisfying and healthy to keep me on track! Obviously, I wanted healthy replacements for pasta to help satisfy my inner carb goddess. Here are my four favorite recipes that not only helped me get through the challenge, but have become staples.

  1. No Bake Energy Bites (courtesy of Gimme Some Oven): I love these little bites because it’s almost like eating cookie dough but instead of providing guilt, they deliver a nice burst of energy and calm the hunger. During the cleanse, I made them without the chocolate chips and used just enough honey to keep them together. I am allergic to peanuts, so almond butter is a great alternative. Almonds, pecans and walnuts are great add-ins for a crunch! These are great to keep at my desk for a snack to help get through the day without caving and getting pretzel M&Ms. Although they do have added sugar (honey), it is a much better trade to have two of these than candy.
  2. Brown Rice Noodle Pad Thai (courtesy of Brownies for Dinner): There is an awesome Thai place near work that I would frequent (sometimes three times a week) to get my Thai fix! I was looking for recipe so I could skinny it up and make it at home. I mostly followed this recipe with a few tweaks. To ensure there was enough protein, I added another egg in and grilled up some chicken. I added in a few peppers, roasting them before, to get my veggies in. Using half the noodles helped to cut down on the carb intake and I made sure to buy brown rice noodles. Instead of using brown sugar, I added a tablespoon of honey. This recipe lasted me 5 meals and it definitely was a great substitute for take-out Thai!
  3. Chicken and Asparagus Lemon Stir Fry (courtesy of Skinny Taste): Skinny Taste is one of my favorite places to look for healthy recipes and I have yet to be disappointed. This is a super easy and fast recipe that has basic ingredients that I can usually find in my pantry and refrigerator on any given day.
  4. Zucchini Noodles in Chunky Tomato Sauce (courtesy of Gimme Some Oven): Zucchini noodles are one of my all-time favorite healthy dinners these days! You have dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes and it’s not only filling but very satisfying. I always grill up some chicken or chicken sausage to get my protein in! This recipe is great but sometimes a jar of your favorite pasta sauce does the trick when you don’t have all the ingredients.

Finding healthy dishes that remind you of your favorite restaurant or homemade meals make it much easier to get through the week while still eating healthy. I have learned to make sure I have protein and vegetables in my meals so these are some ways that I have beef up the recipes above. Without them, I notice I get hungry shortly after and start looking for a snack. It’s much easier to spend a few extra minutes making a rounded meal then scavenging for snacks late night!

Happy healthy eating! Post what your favorite healthy meals are in the comments below!

3 Ways I Stay Active While Donating to My Gym

I am the queen of excuses when it comes to going to the gym. My friends always joke that I don’t pay for the gym, I donate to it. Each month I contribute a pretty penny to help others get fit! Sounds like a great charity right? Wrong. Gyms are not a charity, Liz, gyms are not a charity!

When I moved to the city, I figured that if I invested in a fancy all women’s gym with a spa area and towel service, I would go all the time, right? Wrong! For the first few months I would go and treat myself to the eucalyptus steam room as my reward for going, I even got a personal trainer! He was great, I was getting stronger and was building up my core, but when I looked at my savings account, I knew it was time to part ways with the pretty blonde.

Now that I have started this new healthy journey, I am hoping that I can kick the bad habit of making excuses, walk 5 whole minutes to the gym and work out! In the meantime, I have found 3 hobbies that keep me active and out of the gym.

  1. My Fitbit: Health and wellness is a huge part of the culture at my new company. They are constantly running new wellness challenges, hosting healthy eating meetings, bringing in yoga instructors and more! They also provide a Fitbit to everyone! Before having a tracker, I had no clue how many steps or miles I was getting in a day. Turns out, it was not a whole lot when I finally started wearing mine. I was lucky to make 4,000 a day out of the 10,000 that is recommended. So, I started a goal for myself to make 6,500 and when I realized I was always over that, I decided to make it 10,000! It’s my mission to hit my goal everyday which puts me at just over 4 miles. If at the end of the day, I am a few thousand away from my goal, I go for a walk. My Fitbit has definitely been an awesome tool to keep me active every day!
  2. Kayaking: A few friends and I signed up for a season kayaking pass on the Charles and we try to get out on the water once a week. Most times, we paddle out and just float around and catch up, but it’s a great arm workout when you are paddling back against the current. I love kayaking because it never feels like work and I get to hang out with friends while enjoying the beautiful Boston skyline!
  3. Line Dancing: This is my favorite a new hobby! My friend got me into it a few months ago and now we are both completely hooked! Twice a week, a country bar offers free line dancing lessons and we are determined to become pros. It’s not as easy as it looks and we definitely are glistening at the end of the night. Note: neither of us drink while line dancing so we are saving lots of calories and probably much more focused on the dance floor!

PS: I went on a run last night for the first time in months! It was the perfect temperature outside and I was feeling a little motivated. I only went 1.6 miles (obviously did not run the whole time!) but I was proud that I got out there. Baby steps!

Roommates + Wine = Homemade Ravioli Night

Embracing a new lifestyle does not always come with ease and it’s tempting to go back to old habits. Before completing the 24 day challenge, I of course had a list of things I wanted to devour the second I was done, mostly bread, pasta, mac and cheese and pizza! When day 25 arrived, I was feeling the best I had in a very long time and realized that it was not worth throwing away all the hard work for a binge eating weekend.

With that said, in order for me to make this part of my real lifestyle, I could not give up cooking, baking and enjoying the yummy treats in life. After all, I am a complete foodie! If I completely restrict myself, I know that I will fall off the bandwagon pretty fast and never look back. Living by the 80/20 rule allows me to eat healthy while still indulging in some of my favorite foods. Check out this blog that has some great recipes that follow the 80/20 rule.

Before the wedding (with the horrible dress ripping experience) or even knowing about the challenge, I ordered a pasta roller for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Making meals from scratch is one of my favorite hobbies, when I have the time, but I find it therapeutic and extremely satisfying to sit down to a meal that I fully created!

My roommates and I used to plan Sunday dinners together every few weekends and I decided that it was time for another roommate dinner! I had been dying to use my new pasta roller and decided to make ravioli for everyone! Clearly using my 20% for this meal!

It had been so long since we all made a meal together, so it was great to giggle, catch up, drink wine and make a meal together. Before even starting on the pasta, making homemade tomato sauce came first so it had enough time to simmer. We made up the recipe as we went but was pretty much an onion, garlic, chopped up a bunch of fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, salt, pepper, oregano, white wine and a dash of sugar.

Then it was time for the dough and my inner carb goddess was jumping for joy! It was so much fun making those long sheets of pasta. We set up an assembly line and my roommates made beautiful little pillows of heaven!

We sat down to a beautiful and yummy meal (almost in silence because it was too good to focus on conversation) and were so proud of our creation. In the past, I would have eaten three servings of these, but one serving of 8 raviolis was all it took to satisfy my inner carb goddess. I savored each bite since I knew it was my treat instead of gobbling down half the pot! At the end of the night, it was strange, but incredible, not feeling bloated and so stuffed that I had to roll down the hallway to get into bed. This new way of thinking and eating is working for me!

Here is the spinach ricotta ravioli recipe we used, with a few tweaks of course.

Enjoy the little splurges!

4 Tools That Make Eating Healthier Easier!

During the 24 Day Challenge, I learned more about my eating habits than I had in the past few years! The challenge forced me to look at portion sizes, learn how to balance my meals and understand how my body reacts to the food I put in it. It was a pretty cool adventure and did not realize what a learning experience it would be. So I want to put my knowledge to work and share it with you!

Here are the 4 tools that not only helped me through the challenge but continue to make it easy to eat healthy!

1. Meal Prep Containers
I live with 3 other girls and it’s never easy to claim enough tupperware for a week let alone a day or two! These containers make it easy to control how much I am eating at meals and stack very nicely in the fridge since they are all the same size. Who has matching tupperware anymore? In our household, we can barely match lids with the containers  – we have a high tupperware divorce rate!  So on Sundays, I cook up a storm and then line up 5 containers for lunches and fit 4 breakfasts into 2 containers (easier since I bring fruit and put usually a veggie frittata and sweet potatoes in my containers). I usually have a protein shake for at least one breakfast so only need a few breakfast portions.

2. Single Serving Blender
Ensuring I eat fruit everyday seems to be such a challenge for me. I have no idea why, because I love fruit – they are sweet and juicy! But I easily skip over them. Having a single serving blender saved my life. It makes it so easy to throw some fruit and spinach in and have a healthy smoothie in the morning.

3. Vegetable Spiralizer
How did I live almost 29 years without this? This tool seems to satisfy my inner carb goddess and fools her into thinking I am eating pasta! See carb goddess – we can make this work!! I make zucchini pasta several times a week with grilled chicken and it leaves me full, satisfied and happy. I have dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes. This is now a household favorite and sometimes we fight over who gets to use it first.

4. Blender Bottle
Granted I was not drinking protein or fiber drinks before this challenge, these bottles have become part of my daily routine. No one wants to be drinking floating clumps of powder. Tip: add water first, then add your powder and then add the rest of your water. This trick ensures you don’t have a circle of powder at the bottom of your cup.

These are my four staples but we all know I love making things easier so let me know what your staple tools are!

The Results Are In!!!!

I completed the challenge last week and wish I had started this post while I was doing my challenge to share the ups and downs over the 24 days! Now that I working on Day 25+, I want to try and share my success and keep track of my progress post challenge. I cannot believe I am sharing this picture with the world, but guess what! I am so proud of myself that I couldn’t help it!

Because I removed white carbs from my diet, I was significantly less bloated. In the past, no matter how much weight I lost, I always had that lovely round bagel around my waist. I noticed that it was slowly disappearing for the first time ever and that was the best feeling!

Also, I wanted to note that I only changed my eating habits. Remember my best friend’s wedding – well I magically injured my foot that night so had to stay mostly off it of it during the challenge. You can bet that I will be starting back at the gym so I can keep up this new figure and reach my goal weight (have around 10 lbs more to go!)

Here are my AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge results:
Weight: down 9 lbs
Chest: down 2 inches
Waist: down 2 inches
Belly: down 5 inches!!! (I added this one in because it was my largest area)
Hips: down 3 inches
Thighs: down 2 inches

Pretty cool right?

So let’s see how my Day 25+ goes! I would love to hear your journey and get advice from those who completed it that are still living the AdvoCare life! 🙂

Want in on this amazing challenge? Check it out here: 24 Day Challenge