Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sleeping Baby Beauty - a follow up

So it's been five months since we visited The Sleep Lady of St. Louis. We've even traveled during that time and have had babysitters. So how's it going?

I still can't believe how wonderful it's been these past five months. Liam has a structured bedtime routine and usually goes to bed easily. He has started to sleep with a pillow. And two blankets, and two books, and sometimes a couple animals. And a little car. Or a duck. He's starting to hoard.

When we were in Florida a month ago, we kept his bedtime at 7:15 PM CST. (So 8:15 in Florida.) That made a difference and he slept until 7am most mornings. He took decent naps too - usually from noon to three because we would spend the morning at the beach wearing him out. He got in plenty of pool time too.

We had a few hiccups with sleeping later into the morning. He started waking at 4AM and refused to go back to bed. It took a few weeks of sleep training the mornings and I'm happy to report that he's back to sleeping 7:30PM to 6:00AM+. Sometimes on the weekends we can get him to sleep until 7:30AM!

Lately Liam has been throwing some tantrums. The terrible twos. Being with him 24/7 during vacation for 12 straight days was sometimes difficult on my patience. Even coming back and getting back into our daily routine was rough. I was very happy to be back at work and away from the Little Man. I love him, but he pushed all my buttons. He was not however happy to be back at daycare. There were lots of tears and tantrums at drop off.

My parents took Liam for four days in July. Mom picked him up on Thursday evening, they headed to the Lake for the weekend, and then dropped him off Monday. It was a wonderful quiet weekend without him. I felt a little guilty. I had warned my mom that he'd been a little stinker. When they came to drop him off and visit a little, at one point Liam went to the back door and starting crying about going outside to blow bubbles. Mom shared with me that over the four days he never threw a tantrum like that. Oh, great, it's just me.

I had spent some time over that weekend reading about handling Liam. And how to manage my feelings and his feelings. I know it's a lack of being able to communicate with us. My parents also took Liam a few weekends later. While it sounds like I might be pawning my child off, it's really a timing thing. My mom is a teacher and didn't have classes this summer, and those two weekends were the only ones that worked this summer.

Dealing with Liam - I count to 10. It's more for the comical purpose. He doesn't always like counting to 10 with me. But when I finish counting to 10, he claps and cheers. So even though he's crying (fake tears), he'll turn it off to clap and cheer for me.

We recently had our first "stitches" incident. Liam fell at the zoo and gashed his knee open pretty good. We visited the First Aid station who pointed out the severity of the cut and that it was pretty wide, not so much deep. The First Aid guy recommend we visit the doctor to get some liquid stitches. We spent another hour at the zoo, Liam then took an almost four nap, and we headed to urgent care. They did a great job. Finished cleaning it, put liquid stitch in it, little sticky bandaids and a big bandaid. We kept it covered and dry for a week. He had to take a couple quick showers instead of baths. But it's looking really great. We're on day 12 now. He'll probably have a scar. Probably the first of many.

He has been moved to the 2-year old room at daycare. It's a new room, new toys, new things to learn. And when he actually turns two (one week), we get a discount! Finally! It's $195/week for a 2yo vs $240/week for an Infant/Mobile/Toddler. He officially turns two on September 3rd! I can't believe it's been two years already. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Are you better off now than you were one year ago?

I've been watching Parks and Recreation with Jason. It's a great show. One of the episodes has the main character asking her town if they are better off now than you were one year ago. I realize this is a campaign question used frequently about the past four years. But thinking about that is as bad as being asked in an interview "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

This episode came up at a perfect time - I'm about to hit my one year anniversary at my job. So my past year has changed a lot. 

A year ago I was on vacation. I'm also currently on vacation. :) 
This is my current view (minus the Liam - he's napping right now.) 

Am I better off now than I was one year ago? Yes. And it's mostly because I am working. This vacation has made me very grateful of being able to send Liam to daycare and my ability to work at a job I love. Mostly love, like 90% of the time I love it. The other 10% is due to Monday mornings and lack of naps. I'm still grateful of the time I was able to be home with Liam, and that I didn't have to rush to get back to work and earn income. This vacation I'm on has me even more grateful that I when I go back home I can return to work. And I know in a year I'll be able to take another vacation. 

This past year has had a lot of changes. Jason and I had to learn how to be working parents. How to juggle Liam and daycare drop off/pick ups when one of us had a longer day, was out of town, or was sick (usually me.) We also had to juggle if Liam was sick. Parenting = juggling. 

Going to Time for Dinner has made a huge difference, along with meal planning, and creating a shopping list every. single. time. I had to adjust how to do meals since I don't get home until 5pm. We had to adjust with Liam and his bedtime and bathtime. We've had to adjust our laundry doing, folding clothes, everything. 

Liam has been sleeping and napping like a champ, even on vacation! I'm very grateful we visited the Sleep Lady. I can't imagine how crazy this vacation would have been without the proper bedtime routine.

I wrote the above a few days ago while on vacation. 

And now I'm back to our normal routine. I'm grateful for daycare and my job. And a freezer full of food. Liam is back in routine and eating normally, including decent food (not just white bread and applesauce pouches.)

I don't know if I'm better off, but I feel like I'm in a better place than I was one year ago. I've excelled at work, I enjoy my work, I wasn't even dreading going back to work. That's a huge difference than most people who return to work after vacation.

Liam has grown so much -- and learned a lot -- I'm always amazed at what Daycare teaches him. He amazes us which what he knows. While we were at Animal Kingdom we learned that he knows what a Gorilla says! And he's repeating any word we ask. He tries at least. He's an amazing little human.

So here's to the next 365 days. Oh, 366! I hope in one year I can say that I am better than I was a year ago. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Beachbody 3-Day Refresh -- My Review

A few years ago, when I was trying to get Wedding Ready, I was using Jay Robb protein and was doing his 3-Day Fruit Flush a couple times a year. It helped. Jason did the flush with me - and it would kickstart our butts into eating better, for a week or so. Then we'd be back to our bad habits.

We really have changed our habits this year. We eat a lot of lean meats and fruits and vegetables. But this past month we've been slipping. A few extra meals out here and there. We've still avoided the fast food but recently had KFC. I don't know what it is that makes KFC so damn good. We probably eat KFC once a year so we aren't blocking any arteries, or blowing any major diets with the choice to eat there. 

Since I've been a little lax with portion control lately, and maybe some chocolate has sneaked back into my routine, I decided to the do the Beachbody 3 Day Refresh. It's not cheap, but I know it works. It's not a flush and it's not a starvation or liquid cleanse. It's meant to cleanse your body -- and your diet -- it's meant to jump start your weight loss and metabolism. You don't feel drained after doing it. You really do feel refreshed and you will want to continue with healthy eating habits -- not hit up the nearest drive thru and destroy the hard work you just did! 

Grocery Shopping
So why did I decide to do this? Well to begin with I had crept up 5 pounds before I started. It had taken around a month - 6 weeks to do this -- and I'm pretty sure a lot of it was salt. There was a Sushi dinner I'm not proud of (or maybe I should be?) And I'd been drinking soda again. So my sodium levels were skyrocketing. I was still getting around 80-ounces of water a day, but needed this kick in the ass to get back on track. I also haven't been working out like I should be. In truth, I got lazy. And this isn't the time to be lazy -- we're almost halfway through this year! 

To begin, I prepped. I found a couple helpful documents on Pinterest and have them saved in the link at the top of my blog under the Beachbody forms. First, I chose which weekend I would do this. And it's been a busy few months so I had to pick the most empty weekend. And it was Mother's Day weekend.

I made sure I did my meal plan and figured out what I would eat for snacks and dinner. I wrote it down and put it on the fridge. From there we shopped and got everything we needed for the three days. The Little Man helped us with shopping on Sunday afternoon -- we needed a few extra things. He loves the little shopping carts that Schnucks offers. 

Day 1 - I was hungry. Not going to lie. A lot of people complain about the Fiber Sweep drink. Horror stories. In fact, I had a dream that I was only allowed to take it with 2-tbsps of water. (An orange container.) It wasn't that bad. It was like drinking a thicker Metamucil, a little gritty, had a lemon flavor, it wasn't that bad. Throughout the day I was a little hungry, but you get to eat throughout the day, small snacks to keep your metabolism going. I ate the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. I varied my dinner. 

Enjoying my lunch -- while the husband vacuums!
Day 2 - Mother's Day. Seriously, it was the only weekend I could do it. I'm enjoying my day. Had my ShakeO, the Fiber Sweep (again, not bad! It went down very easy), lunch was the Vanilla Shake, Red Pepper & Hummus, and Strawberries. I actually got full and couldn't finish the strawberries. 

Day 3 - Monday - Work Day. I took my snacks and lunch and shake. I drank a ton of water and my green tea. It wasn't bad, but at times I was hungry. However, some of that was the fact that when you're sitting at work you get bored and think about food. 

My meal plan
AM - ShakeO and 1/2 banana. Luckily I have a little man who always eats the other half
No morning snack, just Green Tea and the Fiber Sweep
Lunch - Vanilla Shake, Red Pepper w/ Hummus, and Strawberries
PM Snack - Tomatoes and Avocado
Dinner - Day 1 - Spinach Salad, Day 2 - Stir Fry, Day 3 - Cucumber and Tomato Salad
The dinner options and recipes are available in the book that comes with the kit. The stir fry was delicious and I'm going to make that again, just add a protein like shrimp or serve it with Turkey Burgers. Liam really liked the stir fry too.

So the results!!!

I lost 4.2 pounds. I'm back where I was a month ago. I feel pretty good, I'm not hungry, I'm not tired, I'm not worn out.

My goals these next few weeks:

  • Meal Plan (no biggie)
  • Measure Measure Measure! This is where some weight creeps up -- the lack o' measure
  • Limit myself to one reasonable cheat meal a week, instead of the 2-3 I had let inch into the routine. 
  • Work Out
  • No Ice Cream until Florida!! 
Only 43 days until the 10-day vacation starts! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Turkey Tacos - 21 Day Fix Approved

This comes a little late for Cinco de Mayo, and we actually had them the week before that. I am pretty apathetic for most "holidays" that revolve around food. We actually had leftover steak & salmon, sweet potatoes, and green veggies on the 5th. We had spent the week before eating tacos, so eh, why again? 

Other holidays I don't care about making it all about the meal - Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, New Year Eve, Memorial/4th of July/Labor Day BBQs, I can take them or leave them. 

Holidays that should be about the meal - Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, my Birthday. 

I found this recipe for Turkey Taco's from Skinny Taste. The website has been around for a couple years and she has some amazing recipes. I really like this taco recipe because it calls for tomato sauce to help thicken the meat a little. I edited the recipe a little. I buy ground Turkey in bulk at Sam's Club and it comes in a 2-pack of 2.5 pounds each. 

Also, we bought the "made from TV" Taco Bowl makers. It seems silly, but it actually works well. It's not the crispy fried ones we get at the Mexican recipe, but it works well and satisfies the craving for Tacos and taco salads and the tortilla. There are other ways to dress these -- using lettuce is a big one to avoid the carb of a shell. You can use corn tortillas too. Or just skip both and make a Taco Salad. 
Turkey Tacos

  • 2.5 lbs 99% lean ground turkey
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 small bell pepper, minced
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • water - 1/2 cup - optional

  1. Brown turkey in a large skillet breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. When no longer pink, drain, and place back on heat. 
  2. Add the minced onion, pepper, and dry seasonings. Cook additional 10 minutes. 
  3. Add the tomato sauce and let simmer. If it's too thick, add some water, up to 1/2 cup. 

Measure out a red container to count as 1 protein. We (measured and) added refried beans, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and either sour cream or greek yogurt to top them. I can't wait to have these on the menu again! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Being overweight = more pee breaks

24 ounces
The general rule of thumb when trying to lose weight (or always?) is to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces. So if you are my Beachbody coach and weigh approximately 115 pounds, your daily water intake should be 58 ounces. If you're like me and weigh a weee bit more than that, it's 100+ ounces. The small facebook challenge group I'm part of (about 10 other moms) today were posting their water intake -- some of them have to drink 70 ounces, some 80. Then one girl posted that she likes to be done before 6pm with her water intake so she's not up peeing in the middle of the night. 
She brought up a good point -- I get up once or twice some nights to pee. I drink 100 ounces a day! I can't wait to lose weight just so I can drink less water!! And pee less. 

I need to figure out how to spread my water intake over the day better. I usually drink 8 ounces in my breakfast protein shake, and then try to get in 2-3 24-ounce glasses during work. I usually get in 2, which puts me behind. So then I'm trying to chug 60 ounces during dinner and my workout. So I'm going to try to get 10-12 the moment I wake up. That'll put me ahead.

I've completed 6 rounds of the 21-Day Fix. I've followed the meal plan about 4/5 days and skipped a few workouts. But I've made a lot of changes in my diet and exercise. In the past 98 days, I've lost 17.3 pounds and 13.5 inches. We have 72 days until our vacation starts. I have started ChaLean Extreme and will stick with the 21 Day Fix meal plan. The thing I liked about the 21 Day Fix workouts were they were 30-minutes and easy to fit in. ChaLean Extreme varies from 35-50 minutes over 5 workouts during the week. It comes with two rest days! Or, two days I'll do cardio workouts. (21 Day Fix is 7 days of workouts, though two of them are slightly easier, Pilates and Yoga.) I'm looking forward to this change, but I've never succeeded at completely a 90-day workout program.

On another note, it's taken quite a few months to figure out what treat Liam likes. He doesn't care for ice cream. Or M&Ms, or Brownies, or Hershey Kisses. Or Pie. I mean really, who's kid is this? My BFF was in town Sunday night and stayed with us. I made her brownies, and she brought us homemade chocolate chip cookies! Liam got one on Monday night and LOVED it! He wanted another. He actually got two halves. And he liked drinking his milk with it. He was upset he couldn't have more - but it was a special treat, it was BEFORE dinner. Then he put away spaghettios, a chese quesadilla, and fruit cup. And then before bed a string cheese. He likes to eat. Bedtime is still going very well! We'll get him changed about 15 minutes before bed and he'll get a snack and brush his teeth. We'll tell him bedtime and ask him to kiss/hug the other parent. Sometimes you barely get that as he runs down the hallway to go to bed. It's an amazing change, and it's only been two full weeks! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How The Sleep Lady of St. Louis saved my life.....

Still fast asleep at 6 AM (April 1)
When Liam stopped sleeping through the night (STTN) near the end of February, my life kinda ended. His lack of sleep, and his middle of the night (MOTN) wakings were affecting my eating habits, work out habits, sleep, my health, my marriage, my sanity, and my job.

We dealt with some horrible nights for about a month. I was very sleep deprived and could barely function. I was a Mombie -- a Zombie Mom. 

Liam's bedtime had shifted to 8pm sometime after his first birthday (it'd been 7 before that.) Probably about the time he weened himself. He'd been STTN for over a month, I'm not sure when he started, but he'd wake by himself around 5:45-6:00am or some mornings we'd have to go wake him. But all of the sudden something shifted. It would only take 5-10 minutes of rocking to go to sleep, but he'd start waking every 2 hours. And he wouldn't want to go back into his crib. He'd want to be held. Or get out of the nursery. Sometimes he needed a drink or a snack. Or we'd watch TV. And he was waking at 5:30 and he'd be up until his first nap. Sleeping in the nursery recliner with a hot potato, or squirmy monkey, was not good for either Mom or Dad. Mostly Dad. Liam didn't want me most of the time and I didn't have the patience to put up with what he wanted to do. I wanted him to go back in his crib and sleep. He wanted to watch TV or look for Monday. Or Dad. 

My friend suggested we go to a Sleep Therapist. The initial thought was what? I've googled it, it's just a sleep regression, probably from a growth spurt. Then I did some more research, and came to the conclusion that "SLEEP REGRESSION" is just a term some parent made up to make themselves feel better about their kid not sleeping. Dad was really skeptical. But if our insurance covered it (sans a $75 Specialist Fee), I was ready to do anything. If it cost us $500 to get the kid sleeping again, I'd pay it. 

So on a Tuesday morning I managed to snag an appointment with Nancy Birkenmeier, BSN, RN for the SAME WEEK! She normally has a one-two month waiting period. And when someone cancels they start calling people to bump them up. No one wanted this Friday 2pm appointment. It was like God really was looking out for me. 

That same week I got ill. A nasty stomach bug infected my body. For four days! I missed three days of work. Including the Friday our appointment fell on. I was very zombie-like Friday for our appointment, and it wasn't sleep deprivation, it was the stomach bug. I have never had the stomach bug that bad. I blame the sleep deprivation for making it worse. 

Friday night, April 3
We met with Nancy on Friday March 27. We were given a Two-Step plan to last approximately 2-weeks. She listens (and probably totally judges you) on your child's bedtime routine, his sleep habits, the amount he's sleeping, how he falls asleep (rocking/car ride), and you decide what you want most. Our main priority was to get Liam STTN. But in order to do that, we had to start with getting him to fall asleep on his own - no more rocking.  

Nancy has different Steps geared to different ages and different sleep problems. She has up to a 12-step program. We were going to do a modified cry it out (CIO) method. She said he'd probably cry for 45-50 minutes the first night, 15 minutes the second night, and be fine after that. 

We started Sleep Training on Sunday night, March 29. I had to leave the house for two hours before bedtime began, and couldn't return until Liam was asleep - or we had reached the maximum CIO time of 90 minutes. Jason started bedtime at 8:19 and by 9:04 Liam was asleep. I stayed at Lola's watching the Walking Dead (my first time) until it was over. Thanks Lola! Hooked on this show now!

Night two - I had to leave the house an hour before bedtime. And Liam only cried for 10 minutes when Jason put him down! The third night I only had to be out of sight for 45 minutes before bedtime. Liam cried for half a second when he was put down. The rest of the week went amazing! And every night Liam STTN! We also were bumping up his bedtime, one of the goals was to move his bedtime up to 7:15.

Tuesday April 7 - Still asleep at 6 AM!
Originally Liam was schedule to spend three nights at Grandma's since my mom had Maundy Thursday and Good Friday off. Nancy said he could only go for one night. She promised it wouldn't mess up the sleep training we had already done. So my mom picked up Liam on Thursday evening and he went to Grandma and Grandpa's. He went willingly to bed at 8:30pm and slept until 8am! He's never done that, usually my mom has to sleep in the same bed with him to get him to sleep and stay asleep. Mom said he woke around 1AM and just needed his blanket. So that was amazing! Mom and dad brought him back over Friday evening and we got Liam to bed a little late, around 8pm. But he went to bed easily and STTN! It was glorious!

We've had so many peaceful nights sleep! He's been STTN except for Sunday night this past week. He woke three times, Dad did a quick 20-second visit to reassure him it was ok, it was still bedtime, and he went back to bed easily. We've mastered naptimes at home too - he cries a few extra seconds, but he goes down easily. He's always been a good napper at daycare. His teachers say he's the leader of the pack with napping. And now that he's well rested, he's napping longer at daycare.

I feel like a new woman! I feel like I have my life back. I'm able to work out and concentrate on the things that matter -- like catching up with the DVR. I hope that it keeps up, the past 10 days have been amazing.

If you're interested in making an appointment with Nancy Birkenmeier, she currently practices out of St. Lukes Sleep Unit. There's a bunch of informative files available on the website. And she offers some free informational classes too! She has one upcoming on April 16.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

RockCrok Sausage & Cheese Tortellini

This is quite the indulgence meal on 21-Day Fix. Though I don't think it's any worse then what you might find eating out though. We planned to have this for Valentine's Day dinner this year, but we both weren't feeling well so we had a few days later. Serve it with a nice french loaf bread.

I made it in the RockCrok but you could also alter it to make it in a sauce pan on the stove or maybe the crock pot. 

Sausage & Cheese Tortellini

  • 1 package of chicken broth (32 oz)
  • 1 package of your favorite tortellini (20 oz, we used three cheese)
  • 1 lb spicy italian sausage
  • 2 Cans Diced Tomatoes (seasoned with basil, garlic & oregano), not drained
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese (try low fat).
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese for toppings


  1. Take your cream cheese out of the fridge, and let it sit while you brown your sausage in your RockCrok.
  2. Add tortellini, tomatoes, and broth to the RockCrok and stir. Cook for 12 minutes in the microwave. 
  3. Dice the cream cheese into small cubes. 
  4. Remove from microwave, add the cream cheese, put lid back on. Let sit 5-minutes. Stir and serve!

If making in a crockpot: 
  1. Take your cream cheese out of the fridge, and let it sit while you brown your sausage. 
  2. Add the sausage, tortellini, tomatoes, and broth to your crock pot and stir. 
  3. Dice the cream cheese into small cubes and place on top. 
  4. Cook on LOW for a total of 4 1/2 hours. Stir at 2 hours, and again at 4 hours, removing the lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking. This will give the sauce some time to thicken up.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Banana-Strawberry "Ice Cream" (21 Day Fix Approved)

Have I mentioned yet this week how much I love my food processor? If I had more counter space it would be a permanent fixture. I use it for so much! Everyone should get one. Getting married? Put it on the registry. Having a baby? Put it on the registry (you'll use it to make baby food, so it's a need.) Birthday coming up? Ask for this. I have the 14-cup Cuisinart. My mom and grandma gave it to me at my Bridal Shower. (I remember things like that.) 

4 Ingredient "Ice Cream"
  • 2 bananas, cut into 1-inch slices(frozen)
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Almond Milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla

1. Place banana slices on a plate, separating each slice. Place slices in freezer for 2 hours (overnight is best!).
2. Remove strawberries and bananas from freezer and place in food processor, blend until they are the consistency of soft serve ice cream.
3. Add almond milk(more or less for desired texture)and vanilla and blend until smooth and well-mixed.
4. Transfer ice cream to a freezer container and freeze until solid. (You don't have to wait if fruit is frozen, it is like soft serve ice cream)
5. Scoop with ice cream scoop and serve.

One CUP of this counts as a purple container on the 21 Day Fix! 

You can really use any frozen fruit to make this. I might add some cocoa powder next time and peanut butter to make Chocolate PB. And brownie pieces. (Just kidding!) My husband doesn't like bananas, but I bet I could get him to eat some of this ice cream. 

CrockPot (RockCrok) Buffalo Chicken Chili

This is one of my new favorite soups. I shared the recipe with a coworker and he raved about it. Additionally, it was requested at our work potluck. I'm trying to dig up a picture, but it's orange. The wing sauce turns it orange.  

The original recipe can be found here. I've added a few extra things and noted my actual measurements. Additionally, while you can do it in the crock pot, I made it in the RockCrok!! 

Buffalo Chicken Chili
  • 1 pound of ground chicken
  • 1 can white navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ¼ - ½ cup buffalo wing sauce (start with ¼ cup and add more at end if needed)
  • 1 package ranch dressing mix
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried cilantro
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • Blue cheese crumbles (optional)
Crockpot Instructions
  • Brown ground chicken until fully cooked, place in crockpot (or brown ahead of time and store in fridge until ready to assemble)
  • Add remaining ingredients except for cream cheese and blue cheese and stir to combine
  • Add block of cream cheese on the top and cover
  • Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8
  • Stir to incorporate cream cheese and add additional wing sauce as desired
  • Top individual bowls with blue cheese crumbles if desired
RockCrok Instructions
  • Brown ground chicken until fully cooked (or brown ahead of time and store in fridge until ready to assemble)
  • Add remaining ingredients except for cream cheese and blue cheese and stir to combine
  • Cook in the microwave (with LID) for 13 minutes. 
  • Add the block of cream cheese on the top and cover
  • Stir to incorporate cream cheese and add additional wing sauce as desired
  • Top individual bowls with blue cheese crumbles if desired

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What can a "cleaner" diet do for you?


Most people are told they need to lower their cholesterol. I won't go into details - we all know why, high cholesterol = elevated heart attack risk. But how do you lower it? That's so much harder!! The answer you're always given is Diet & Exercise. Well that's kinda general, right? And how long will it take? It can take a while. But, if you work hard and make a lot of changes, you can get your numbers down too! 

How did I do it? Note - I did this in TWO months, not necessarily five. My eating habits last September through December didn't change. Probably got worse actually.

For those paying attention -- why the sudden drop from July 2009 to November in 2010? Unemployment plus a new job. I lost my job in February 2009 and then lost 30+ pounds. Started a new job in June 2009 and my eating and exercising went out the window. Look what a YEAR can do!

When I got engaged (August 2011), my total cholesterol (the blue line) was still high and peaking, and the triglycerides weren't going anywhere either. My doctor told me if I wanted to have a baby, I had to get my cholesterol numbers down because you can't be on the medication and pregnant. So I did. They weren't perfect, but April 2012 showed improvement.

So I had my baby (September 2013) and then let my eating habits get the best of me again. And I was home, eating Sloppy Joe Burritos and Oreos. Then I started the new job (July 2014) and the new diet (January 2015).

2015 is still all about change. My scale hasn't moved in a little while, but look at this non-scale victory!! My doctor says to keep it up. While I crave a few junk items, I don't crave fast food. The only thing I really crave and miss is chips. And I eat them every once in a while. We had Mexican this past weekend. And I got the chimichanga . Because that's what I crave. Chips and a fried burrito. :)  So once every 3 months I'll go get one.

My other cravings include the simple things like White Bread Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup (it was just winter...), Chocolate, Soda, and Cookies. I have to feed those cravings every now and then, but it's a lot less frequency and a lot less quantity then before the new year. 

I have been drinking a daily protein shake too. Big splurge and I drink the Beach Body's Shakeology. I'm not sure if everything that's packed into helps, but it can't be hurting. It also satisfies my chocolate & sweet craving 99% of the time. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Greek Turkey Burgers

This is one of my favorite recipes. I haven't made them recently and I plan to make them again soon! I served them up on Pita bread with the homemade Tzatziki sauce. They are delicious!!!

Greek Turkey Burgers

  • 1 package (.7 oz.) Italian dressing mix
  • 1 1/4 pound ground turkey (93% lean)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg , lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • Pita Bread
  • Optional Topping: Dice up 2 Roma Tomatoes and 1/2 a cucumber, more feta cheese


  1. Mix the burger ingredients together. Measure out 1/2 cup portions and form into patties (should form 5 patties.
  2. Grill up the hamburgers 
  3. Shove in a pita (I had to cut them in half!) with Tzatziki sauce and the tom/cuc mixture. ENJOY!
If you're counting this on the 21 Day Fix, I'd count it as 1 Red, 1/2 Yellow, and 1/2 Blue (if you add more cheese.) 

Monday, February 16, 2015

21 Day Fix - 42 Days - Plateau

I have now completed Week 6 of the 21 Day Fix Diet. There's been some up and downs (see the previous post.) But I'm not perfect. I can't have 52 good weeks.

What motivates me to continue? I have started and QUIT a lot of previous Beachbody fitness programs. We own the majority of them. P90X, P90X2, Insanity, TurboFire, T25, 10-Minute Trainer, and 21 Day Fix. Usually I miss a workout in the first or second week and get discouraged and quit after a week or two because it's just too hard. And then it's back to all the old habits.

This time? It's different. I feel different about all my reasons. Sure, I want to be skinnier, even skinny people want to be skinnier. But I want to avoid all the health issues and costs that come with health problems. And time. My time is a lot more valuable then sitting in doctor's offices or recovering from a knee surgery or being sick. I just have to commit 30-minutes a day to avoid a lifetime of problems.

The challenge group I'm a part of keeps me going too. Seeing all these other women working hard inspires me to keep going.

My Polar calendar motivates me. I want to fill in all the squares with workouts!! I want to have more more workouts and more calories burned than the week before.

I honestly think that the 21 Day Fix is one of the best Beachbody programs they've released. The workouts are not hard. The meal plan is not hard. Any person of any weight, any age can do these workouts and follow the meal plan. I've heard that the new P90 is also designed for any type of person. I might consider doing that one next. I have 21 more days to go before I make a switch. And even if I switch workout programs, I'm going to stick with the meal plan. I feel a lot better when I'm not eating crap.

The Meal Plan
We're not perfect. Even this past week I was slightly all over the place with a few things -- and our house was hit with colds and stomach bugs. But our eating has drastically changed. We haven't had fast food in over 6 weeks. I've eaten twice at Panera. And we've had a couple cheat meals at good restaurants. For Valentine's Day this year we went out to breakfast. And I had planned a special dinner, but we postponed it to Sunday night. It's still not the healthiest dinner, but we have made healthier decisions since beginning this program 7 weeks ago. We used to eat out once a week and grab fast food 1-3 other times, especially on the weekends. Taco Bell has forgotten who we are by now. I think we ate there every Sunday afternoon.

Success - It's a mess!
The cheat meals are different. I don't cheat with junk either. If I want a cheeseburger, I will go find an amazing cheeseburger. And eat half of it. I have been craving a good cheeseburger - Ruby Tuesday always had one of my favorites. Or Mexican - Taco Bell won't cut it. I want something from a real Mexican restaurant or or even Chipolte. 

My weight hasn't changed since the first round of completing the 21-Day program. So as I wrap up the 42 days of this new lifestyle, I want to continue on. And I want to do better the next 21 days!! No more cheating. Cheat meal, not a cheat day. And no slacking on the workouts. (We did solve the TV problem.... new TV for upstairs, new Blu-Ray player for downstairs.) NO EXCUSES. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Zucchini Cakes (21 Day Fix)

Did you ever eat potato pancakes growing up? I sure miss those!! I found a kinda similar, not really at all, recipe in the form of Zucchini Cakes! They were very good and very filling. 


  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smushed/pressed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (or any flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • coconut oil
  1. Grate your zucchini. I used the food processor. EASY. 
  2. Place zucchini in a bowl with the 1 tsp salt and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Then, extract all the water from the zucchini. You can place it in a cheese cloth and squeeze. You can also place it in a colander and press the water out. You want to remove as much water as possible so the cakes form and stick together. 
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the zucchini and remaining ingredients (except the coconut oil)
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large pan.
  5. Use a 1/4 cup to scoop out the zucchini mixture. Place in pan and "press" down to form a small cake. 
  6. Cook 3-4 minutes, flip over and cook another 3-4 minutes. Cakes should have a golden brown crust. 

You can eat 4 of these to count as 1 Green and 1/4 Yellow (the flour -- if you are being super serious.) You've also got some Teaspoons in there from the Oil. 

Zucchini Cakes & Spaghetti Squash

Monday, February 9, 2015

Grilled London Broil

(This blog post is from April 2014. It's been saved as a draft for a long time. I think I was waiting to post a picture. I want to post it so it's out of my draft file!)

London Broil is a tough cut of meat that requires marinating for more than an hour. So plan ahead! 

Grilled London Broil Marinade
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 8 ounces Apple Juice
Mix the ingredients in a gallon sized ziplock bag. Add 1 or 2 London Broil "steak cuts". Marinate over 4 hours. 12-24 hours is ideal. 

Grill to desired temperature. We use a meat thermometer while grilling in order to make sure my steak is a wonderful medium-rare and the husband's is a medium. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Beef and Broccoli (21 Day Fix)

How delicious is Chinese food? And how BAD is it? Very. Very very very bad. I found this recipe on Team Beachbody and decided to change it up a little bit. I find the hardest part of making a good beef and broccoli recipe is the chosen beef. I think it's not so much which type of beef you use - but how you marinate it. It's usually recommended to use Flank Steak - and I agree. However, in "Use what you have", I chose a sirloins steak for this dish. I like this recipe because it incorporates peppers, and I added some extra veggies. It is very filling too!

Healthier Beef and Broccoli
Note - You must marinate the steak 4+ hours. Prepare wisely!
  • 1 pound flank steak, cut into strips
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 medium bell peppers, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups snap peas (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp (dry) Ginger
Marinade Ingredients
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce 
  • 2 TBSP Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Seseme Oil
  • 2 TBSP Honey
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp (dry) Ginger or 1 tsp Fresh Grated Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Sauce Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce 
  • 8 TBSP Water
  • 2 TBSP Corn Starch
  • 2 TBSP Honey
  • 1 garlic clove
  1. Combine the Marinade Ingredients in a ziplock bag. Add the sliced steak to the marinade and place in fridge for 4+ hours. 
  2. Combine the Sauce Ingredients and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add beef; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, or until cooked through and no longer pink. Remove from skillet, keep warm.
  5. Add broccoli, bell pepper, snap peas, garlic, and ginger to skillet; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove broccoli mixture from heat. 
  6. Add Sauce mixture to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat for 30 seconds, or until thickened.
  7. Return beef and broccoli mixture to skillet; cook, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until well mixed and heated. 
Measure out the meat - 1 red container worth, and two cups of broccoli & peppers, and 1/2 cup of snap peas for 1 yellow. The soy sauce mixture counts as 1/2 yellow. Serve with 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice. 

Total count: 2 Greens, 1 Red, 2.5 Yellows. This dish was VERY filling. I was able to get 4 servings out of it. 

If you need less yellows, leave out the snap peas and reduce the rice. You can throw in some shredded carrots to bulk the dish up a little more. 

21 Day Fix - A bad week

So this week (Monday February 2 to Sunday February 8) wasn't the best. It was supposed to be our "Back to Basics" week to rejump our weight loss after a really rough weekend eating an AMAZING dinner Saturday night and horrible eating Sunday between leftovers and the Superbowl. Well, life happened.

The challenge group leader posted something that we all have to remember. I'm only one-month into this journey. And even though I had a rough week, I am one month healthier. I have one month of workouts behind me. I have one month of healthy eating behind me. This is a long journey and I will other bad weeks. It's how I handle the weeks after the bad ones that matters.  

Last Saturday, my company had our (very late) holiday party. We had dinner at Trattoria Marcella and it was amazing. AMAZING. I'm not sure there's enough AMAZINGs to describe this place. If you go - and you must go - get the Toasted Raviolis (T-Ravs), Meatballs or Lasagna, and Tiramisu. And split it with like 3 other people. Best food ever! I can't wait to go back. Like in a year, when my arteries have recovered. 

Sunday we tried to keep it simple with Nacho's for the Superbowl. (And Jason got some wings from Hooters.) I have a healthy and delicious homemade wing recipe, but you have to make like 4-dozen, and it takes a couple hours. But they are really good. I might have to make them again.

So back to the nachos. We did ok, except I ate too many chips. I did make the nachos fairly healthy - aside from the chips. We didn't have any fake cheese - used shredded cheese. I browned some ground beef with seasonings, and then we added lettuce and tomatoes and our homemade salsa. I didn't add Sour Cream! (Big change!) The nachos were very filling.

The workouts this week weren't up to par either. I got in my Monday workout. On Tuesday afternoon I picked up a sick kiddo from daycare and after being puked on and all the clean ups, I didn't get in a workout Tuesday night. We also had calzones from the freezer. Normally I would have had Jason pick up McDonalds, so at least we had a change there! Liam stayed home on Wednesday and while he napped I did get in a workout. I had a migraine Thursday and wasn't able to work out.

Friday night we had tickets to Disney Junior Live, with a dinner beforehand. I was supposed to work out when we got home, but didn't. I got in my Saturday workout and 10K steps. Sunday I slacked a little and just got in the 10k steps with a walk around the neighborhood. It's the first week since the start of the year that I didn't qualify for the "5th Workout of the Week" Vitality* points.

This week, I've planned better. We don't even have junk food in the house to ruin the diet with. For those interested - I have my meal plans posted on my google drive account and they are accessible through the Meal Planning Link at the top of my blog.

The only downfall this week is the Office Potluck. I'm making meatballs and Buffalo Chicken Chili. Someone else is bring Turkey Tacos, chili, there will also be Bacon and Salad. There's also Valentine's Day. We are going out to breakfast at The Original Pancake House. For dinner I plan to make a Sausage & Tortellini dish. It's not the healthiest, but we can at least control our dinner calories.

I'm going to aim to do morning workouts. I know it'll be better to get them out of the way. It's tough because the basement is cold. Additionally, the new TV we bought in December has to be returned. It's an RCA, 40-inch, smart, with DVD player. Well, it doesn't connect to digital cable and you need a converter box (even though it says Digital Tuner.) So I was learning to adjust to still needing two remotes. BUT, the DVD player has been intermittently working and then it's just stopped working. I wanted a smart TV and wanted *ONE* remote. But I still needed two, and well, at this point we are going back to our old TV and DVD player. We'll try to purchase a new smart TV sometime this year. Our upstairs TV has three remotes - TV, DVR/DVD, and ROKU. And we have two in the bedroom - TV/DVD and Amazon Prime. Might as well realize downstairs we'll probably need TV/ROKU and DVD player. OR, maybe we'll move the TV from upstairs downstairs and buy a new TV for the living room. <-- This is the test to see if my husband reads my blogs all the way through. ;-)

Vitality = A program through work where we earn points towards Amazon gift cards and gear (like fitbits and polar items.) It also is a way to reduce our health care costs. We earn points for steps, workouts (when I wear the Polar Heart rate monitor), taking online quizzes, meetings goals set for us, and having our bloodwork completed. We've earned $400 in amazon gift cards since we started in August. And I say we because Jason and I are a team. He earns points too. I also get points for vaccinating Liam, and getting flu shots and going to the dentist.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Greek Marinated Chicken

We wanted to get back to basics this week.... reboot our diet after a rough weekend with amazing food and the Super Bowl snacking. 

This recipe isn't the *healthiest* because of the yogurt. But by using greek yogurt, it can be healthier. You can use plain yogurt - but I don't know how that will turn out. You can serve it with some Tzatini sauce. Mine didn't turn out like this picture (that I swapped from Pinterest.) 

Greek Marinated Chicken  
  • 1 cup greek yogurt 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano 
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 medium lemon zest juice from 1/2 lemon 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • freshly cracked pepper 
  • 3 to 4 lbs chicken pieces (I used boneless skinless, the picture used skinned and boned. Maybe that's where I went wrong?)

  1. Combine marinade. 
  2. Place pieces in marinade in gallon ziplock for 3-5 hours. 
  3. Bake 375 45-60 minutes or grill.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Hearty Beef Stew - 21 Day Fix

I went searching through the Team Beachbody website and found a recipe for beef stew. I figured I'd give it a try. The only downside to this is the prep + cook time is almost 90 minutes. It takes an hour to cook after you get all your vegetables and meat chopped. Plan accordingly! I prepped it and then worked out while it cooked. 

It's very delicious and feels like a cheat meal! You wouldn't know you are "dieting" when you eat this.

  • 1½ lb. raw lean beef stew meat, boneless
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
  • 1 (14 oz) can of low-sodium beef broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 14-oz of water (use the beef broth can)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 4 large red potatoes, cubed
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Place beef, onions, tomatoes, soy sauce, hot sauce, 1/2 cup broth, and bay leaf in large stock pot.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, carrots, and potatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, for 60 minutes, adding additional broth as needed.

Yield: 6-8 servings
A two-cup serving counts as 1.5 Green, 1 Yellow, and 1 Red. 
You can serve it with quinoa, but take the serving/container into consideration.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Homemade Hummus

I love hummus. I can eat it with a ton of veggies, lots of pita chips, those little bagel chips.... more pita chips. Since it's ok on the 21 Day Fix, I thought I'd make my own. I found a basic hummus recipe and plan to dress it up with either a roasted pepper or avocado. Or extra garlic. 

Tahini is hard to find. My Walmart doesn't carry it, but Schnucks carried *one* brand in the Ethnic aisle. Luckily it's not too expensive and goes a long way. One $7 jar will make 5-7 hummus recipes. You can make your own and I found a recipe here

  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), reserve liquid
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup tahini (sesame butter)
  • Sea salt & Pepper (to taste; optional)
Optional Extras:
  • Roasted Red Pepper
  • Avocado
  • Extra Garlic

  1. Place chickpeas, lemon juice, oil, and garlic in food processor or blender and pulse until chickpeas are mashed.
  2. Optional: Add in the "extra" item you might want to flavor it with. I added one avocado this time. 
  3. Add tahini; pulse for 1 minute. If hummus is too thick, add some of the reserved chickpea liquid. Add salt if desired.

21 Day Fix - 1 Month - Results

I just completed my first month of following the 21 Day Fix eating plan and 3 weeks of almost daily workouts. 

I have lost 11.1 pounds and 8.25 inches! Most of my inches lost were from my waist. And my thighs didn't change at all. *shrug* not too worried about things. I have a few more months of this and few more pounds to lose.

I finally made a Motivation Jar. Or whatever you want to call them. It's a very simple visual to help keep me motivated. I have quite a bit of weight to lose to be in the proper BMI range. I think I can do it this year. I know I'll have some ups and downs and slow weeks, but if I stick with the program I can lose the weight. And this visual reminder will help me stay focused. Move all the marbles. That's the goal. 

I worked out 13+ hours in January over the course of 22 days! That's impressive since I was doing 1 day a week workouts in 2014. So what, *maybe* 52 workouts? Probably not even that....

My goal this week to workout in the morning. Which doesn't seem like the best change to make the day after the Superbowl. But I promised. I'm part of a challenge group on Facebook and a lot of the people work out in the mornings. So by the time I roll out of bed, there's a bunch of posts about their workouts and selfies. The challenge group helps me be accountable!

Here's an image of the workouts I knocked out in January! Go me. :)