Signs Signs, Everywhere a Sign

I spent a good portion of this weekend strategizing my next moves in terms of my lifestyle change, and what steps would help me get to my goal size (notice, I am not saying weight).  After chatting with a friend (Yass, blogger at www.yass4fitness.com) about my current issues with progress and workouts, he brought up the idea of online personal training.  He had just signed up for a program, had done programs previously, and thought it might be something that would work well for me.  This idea appealed to me almost immediately because I truly believe that I am at that point in my journey that I need personalized assistance with my workouts and my nutrition.  Since I am no longer a member of a gym, I wasn’t sure how to go about doing that.  Also, having very heavy time constraints, I was hesitant about finding a free-standing personal trainer.  I do know quite a few amazing ones in the area (shout outs to Kelly, Carla, and the rest of the staff at Reality Fitness in Naperville, IL), but am not able to carve out the time to see them.

It is funny how life sends you signs, though.  While I was hemming and hawing over the idea of an online personal trainer, one miraculously started following me on Instagram.  Not sure where he came from or why he started following me, but I did take it as a sign.  Enter, Matt James Fitness.  I took a look at some of his transformations, his story, and what he offered.  I was sold almost immediately.  I decided to sign up for his 12 Week Transformation package.  It offered everything I was looking for – nutritional guidance, workout assistance using the equipment I have, and also incorporated My Fitness Pal.  I signed up, filled out the health and wellness questionnaire associated, and am now anxiously awaiting what he sees as working for me.

I am looking forward to working with him, and can’t wait to see what he has in store for me!

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Make-do Allergy-Free Banana Bread

Woke up this morning to a bright sunny day.  What a great day!  I’ll get some errands done and enjoy some sunshine.  Then I really woke up.  The temperature is dangerously cold here in Chicago, yet again.  High of 10 degrees, although we will be lucky if it hits that.  I decided that we are not going anywhere!  Last week I declared it to be a make-do week, only picking up essentials that we were out of.  That make-do week is going to continue thru this week.  I do need to spend a few dollars and pick up some essentials (sea salt, pan spray, flour, one kind of protein/meat, and of course spinach) to be able to make it thru the week.  We have been clearing out the fridge and freezer, though.  It has allowed me to be more creative!  For instance, this morning I mixed some leftover couscous into a few eggs and made a yummy omelette with chopped chicken and cheese.  Healthy carbs, and lots of protein!  Just wish I had more spinach to add in there, as well…

Because it is make-do week, and I have half a freezer full of bananas (they get brown, I toss them in the freezer for baking or smoothies) I decided to make Mini Me some banana bread.  I adapted this recipe from SimplyRecipes.com.  When I say adapted, I had to sub most of the ingredients because of allergies, nutrition, or I didn’t have what they called for.  I guess you could say, it is highly adapted.

Allergy-Free Banana Bread

Vegan Banana Bread

Ingredients

Ingredients

3 very ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup truvia baking blend
1 gelatin egg (see directions here)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
½ cup wheat flour
½ cup cup oat flour

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°, and either line a medium loaf pan with parchment or spray with baking spray.

In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until smooth. Stir the applesauce into the mashed bananas.

Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the Truvia, gelatin egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the oat and all purpose flours.

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Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes (check at 50 minutes) at 350°, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack. Remove the banana bread from the pan. Slice and serve. (A bread knife helps to make slices that aren’t crumbly.)

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If you want to double the recipe like I did, you can bake in a fluted tube pan for an 1hr 10 min

Not only does this recipe come out very tasty, it is also reasonably healthy!!  Very low sugar, lots of fruits.  One loaf makes 10-11 servings, one fluted shaped cake makes 20-22 servings.

Nutritional information (22 servings):  89 cal/0g fat/19g carbs/3g protein

Hearts Full of Protein

I woke up this morning with a new sense of determination.  Went searching for my P90X DVD set.  Allas, P90X grew legs and walked away.  Gosh darnit!!  Up pops my P90X3 DVD set, almost like it was trying to save the day!  Okie Dokie then, its a sign… I’m going to do P90X3 for the next 90 days!  Add in a few runs here and there when the winter weather allows and hill runs come spring, along with staying on track nutritionally and I expect to see good things by the time I need to board a flight to Vegas in 89 days!

Because I’m focusing on eating super clean, and know that I like my treats, I decided to do a little creating of my own… Enter Cookie Dough Protein Hearts.

This recipe was adapted from this recipe from Fit Foodie Finds.  The recipe looked delicious as it is, but I didn’t have chocolate protein powder, just vanilla.  Looks like my decision was made for me!

Hearts Full of Protein

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  • 1 cup vanilla protein powder (I used EAS Vanilla Whey Protein)
  • 2 1/4 cup oat flour (I just ground up steel cut oats in my food processor)
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup nut or seed butter (I used Sunbutter)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  The batter will be quite thick.  If it is too dry, add a tiny bit more milk.  Once combined, scoop and roll into balls, or add into a silicone mold like this one from Wilton.  Cover and put in freezer until frozen, pop out, and put into freezer safe bag.

Recipe makes approximately 24 servings of 2 tablespoon portions.

Approximate nutritional information: 122 cal/9 carb/4 fat/11 protein

Hope you all enjoy!

The Big Game

Do you remember when you were young, and the person you sat next to in school became your best friend…?  Or the other kid in class with the same dorky backpack (I mean, awesome backpack) started chatting you up and you became inseparable?  Remember how easy it was to make friends, and keep friends?  You saw each other every day at school, usually lived within a few blocks of each other, talked to each other on the phone 15 minutes after leaving each other, and knew every little thing about each other.

Then we get older… We grow up, move out, live on our own, set up our own home bases, work jobs, have kids… The world changes.  We try to keep in touch with each on social media, comment here and there, watch our kids grow up, watch each other lose hair, get grey, have celebrations.  We feel like we are still involved in each others lives.  I mean, we know things about each other, we know what is going on in each others lives… We are still close, right? Has the world of social media given us a false sense of friendship with people?  I could tell you 10,000 things about my best friends and what they have been doing over the last few weeks… But how many of these things came from their mouths?

Its a hard slap in the face when you realize that you have not been a good friend.  We all get caught up in our own lives as we get older.  We spend time with spouses, with children, with co workers, with hobbies, and sometimes just enjoying that rare moment alone and in silence.  When are we supposed to “fit” friends in?  Sometimes, being an adult is difficult, and the decisions you make aren’t always the right ones; they don’t always point you down the right path; they hurt others; they hurt us.  Opening up to others can be hard if you are used to just posting quick blips on Facebook.  You build your walls, don’t want to let people in.  But, you need those people in order to make it through life.  Need to keep your friends close, tell them your secrets, make regular plans with them, hug them, be able to reach out and know that they will be there if you need them.  Going through life is like a big game, and friends are cheerleaders.  Don’t let them down and they won’t let you down.

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Come on let’s go and play…  Don’t judge… I’m a mom of a three year old.  I know that movie word by word, gesture for gesture, note for note.  Sigh.  weather reportIt is pretty fitting for the weekend we are having here in Chicago.  It started snowing last night (rain into snow), and we woke up to about 6 inches of snow on the ground at 6:30 this morning.  As of this moment (1pm) we have about a foot of snow, and its still coming down.  Winds are expected to pick up later today and blizzard conditions will be beginning.  Guess we aren’t going anywhere for the Super Bowl.

I had planned on getting up and getting some lifting done down in my ladycave (roar – home gym), but decided to make my workout more fun.  My workout today consisted of shoveling the long sidewalk in the front of the house, along with about half the driveway, and the piles the plows left on the end of the driveway (of course they came around RIGHT as I was finishing the driveway so I had to do it twice…).  Doesn’t sound like a lot, but 10″ heavy snow… Woo – workout!!!  Wore my HRM to track my burn (more so because I was curious than concerned)… 521 calories burned in 74 minutes.  I’ll take it for round 1.  I got some playtime in there, too.  Meanwhile, D and Mini Me built the biggest snowman on the block, and with the donation from a sweet little girl down the block, we were able to give him a face and a tophat.  So sweet.

Who wouldn't sunbathe in this weather?  Note:  Chair is resting on top of the snow...

Biggest snowman on the block!!       Yeah!!!  Snow!!!

As disappointed as I am that we won’t be going anywhere tonight for the Super Bowl (gotta keep the family safe), it won’t stop me from preparing a snack or two for the big game!  During my brief stint with the Whole30, I was able to refocus some of my unhealthy eating habits, and make conscious decisions to snack smarter when I feel I “need” or just want a nibble of a snack.  I have been eying baked coconut chips for a few years now, and decided to order  a giant bag of coconut flakes from Amazon (found here), and planned on making good use of them.  I am a total sucker for the sweet and salty flavor combinations, so wanted to really nail that down.  And I did!  Total winner, and a super filling snack!

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Sweet and Salty Cinnamon Coconut Chips

Ingredients

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  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1.5T coconut oil, melted
  • 2.5T honey
  • 2.5t cinnamon
  • 2.5t sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put coconut flakes in medium sized bowl. IMG_8064
  3. Whisk together melted coconut oil and honey; pour over coconut flakes.IMG_8063
  4. Pour cinnamon and sea salt over flakes and stir to combine all ingredients.          IMG_8061
  5. Pour flakes on a (preferably parchment lined) cookie sheet.  I love my gigantic cookie sheet – it’s sized for the shelf of my oven (found here).  IMG_8060
  6. Put flakes in the oven and STAY CLOSE!  Flakes will be done in about 6 minutes, and will continue to crisp when they are out of the oven.  I made the mistake of putting them in a little too long (don’t worry, I altered the timing here for you)… Whoops.

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Once cooled, enjoy!!!