Friday, March 1, 2013

Why Water is the Absolute BEST Tool for Weight Loss

Weight loss can get overwhelming and intimidating, right? Sometimes I feel like there are about 100 things I should be doing to be healthier and I'm failing most of them. Well folks, we can't be perfect. As much as I'd like to be the shining example of perfection in just about every area of my life, it ain't happening. So here's what you gotta do. Add in one thing at a time until it becomes a habit. Do it until you don't have to think about it any more. Do it until it is just part of your day, part of you. This week I've added this simple thing: DRINKING MORE WATER.
Water. You forgot what it looked like, didn't you? ;) [from Google]
Seriously? Seriously, guys. That's it. And you know what? I lost 6 pounds this week. Six. Freakin'. Pounds. I can't even believe it myself. I don't think I've EVER lost that much in one week. 

Do you know what that number tells me? It tells me I was pretty dehydrated! Not so great. Here are some things you might find interesting about this miracle worker, water.

Your entire body relies on water to function properly. This includes your metabolism! Even the slightest amount of dehydration can slow your metabolism, something you definitely do not want to do. To explain this further, think about your muscles. A well-known fact is that muscles are made up of about 70% water. Muscles are energy creators. How do they create energy? They burn calories. If your muscles are dehydrated, they fail at their job, and you fail at losing weight. 

Do you need more convincing? Let's take a look at the liver. Just one of the functions of the liver is to help digest fats. The liver is a fat burning organ! Dehydration affects every system, remember? Yes, dehydration negatively affects the liver's ability to convert fat into energy, which -- you guessed it -- slows your metabolism. 

There is so much science behind that good advice to drink more water. I'm one of those people that has to know that science for myself, even if it's just the simple version. Just hearing that water aids weight loss wasn't enough for me to keep that water bottle in my hands; I had to know WHY. Do a little research about this yourself. You might be surprised what you learn!

And don't forget to keep sipping that water all day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Just a note to my friends...

It's been a year and a half since I last posted. So much has happened in that time. I've had another baby, moved twice, and gone through another deployment. I've gained some weight, lost some weight, and now I'm stagnant. It's about twice as hard to make the time to exercise now that I have two kids. I always feel that the time could be better spent, that I'm taking that time from my kids, or from the house and chores, or from my husband. I rationalize that I'm healthier than I was when I first started this journey, but deep down I know that's not enough. I want to set the proper example for my children so they don't have the same problems I've had. I don't want them to have to work so hard to form healthy habits.

I feel like the same woman who lost 50 pounds, the one who is confident in herself and not ashamed of her body, but when I look in the mirror I'm disappointed. I know I can be better. I know it'll sound strange, but my self-image has actually improved after having children. I can see my body for all it does -- the stretched out tummy that housed two growing babies for 9 months, the chest that has fed my newest for 7 months, the arms that carry babies and hold my pre-schooler when only Mommy will do. 

This isn't about being skinny; this is about living up to the standards I've set for myself. It's the extra headaches, tiredness, moodiness, and back pain that have found a way to creep into my life again, even though I know what to do about them. It's that feeling that I've let myself down. 

I'm heading back out on this journey starting today. I know I have friends who are still on this journey. It's a life-time commitment, isn't it? So many things in life are. If you are fighting along too, or thinking about it, would you drop me a line? Let me know you are there. Pass me some encouraging words, perhaps something that has helped you. 

Thanks for reading, friends! Thanks for always encouraging me and seeing me for more than my weight. Love you all! Let's start this new year right!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Grateful for the Pain

Last night I read a talk about trials, given by Elder Paul V. Johnson (of the LDS Church), entitled "More Than Conquerors through Him That Loved Us."

I just couldn't help but think back to when my husband was deployed. So many of the things Elder Johnson talked about were exactly how I had felt at certain points: how at the beginning I pleaded with God to end this madness because I really didn't think the blessings could outweigh the pain of the experience, how it seemed that this test was focused on an area I felt weak in, and then later when it was almost over and I felt that God was proud of me in some way for trying to do what He expected of me.

Although there are many good points in his article, and I strongly suggest that anyone of any faith read it, I want to focus on a few things that I feel can be applied to improving our physical strength as well.

How many times have you caught yourself thinking, "Gee, I wish I could just be naturally skinny and fit instead of having to work out and eat right"? I sure know I have, probably more than I'd like to admit. In health, in trials, in education, in pretty much any aspect of life, we must put forth the effort and endure the pain to get the growth. Elder Johnson said, "Sometimes we want to have growth without challenges and to develop strength without any struggle. But growth cannot come by taking the easy way." This can, quite literally, be applied to our physical well-being. We have to continually struggle and challenge ourselves to grow. We all want to become something. Whether the goal is to bulk up, lose 5 pounds, run a marathon, get a college degree, or be more independent, we have to do the things that get us to that goal. There is no worthwhile accomplishment that comes for free.

So what if you are, right now, in the process of "paying?" It is easy to hate every moment of a workout when the results aren't immediate or loathe every minute of solitude when your husband is away and you still have 8 months until you see him again. Elder Johnson said, "We must be careful that we don't resent the very things that help us..." We must be faithful in all things. We must believe that the hard work we put in now will pay off in the future. When you are in pain, no matter what kind of pain it is, you must keep sight of your goals and remain determined to succeed. Never resent the hard things you've been through because with each moment of pain, followed by a resolve to be strong, you are brought closer to that goal of being the person you want to be.

At some point when my husband was deployed I started to understand the reasons why it was all necessary for me. There is always something to learn from pain. Just as we must tear our muscles down through exercise so that they can grow stronger, we must also go through a little tearing down ourselves so that we can grow stronger. Whether physical or emotional, our pain is only a small moment compared to what we can become. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Buy Smart, Eat Smart

With the price of fuel, and subsequently the price of food, on the rise, we must all take a step back and readjust our budgets. Even if we don't necessarily need to save money, I think we can agree that it's never a bad thing.

Oftentimes it is pricier to eat right. There's no denying that. However, when you look at how much you spend on trivial things -- cable TV, movies, the extras on your cell phone plan, and dare I say junk food -- you may notice you are putting your money down on things that are much less important than your health.

While it is important to focus your money where it's most beneficial, there are ways to trim your grocery bill and still be healthy.

1. Frozen vs. Fresh
When it comes to produce, studies have shown there isn't much nutritional difference between the two. I choose to buy most of my veggies frozen because they have a longer shelf life (meaning less waste), are often easier to prepare and cook, and are cheaper. You can buy 5 bags of broccoli if it's on sale and it won't go rotten!

2. Brown rice
Put a little brown rice underneath anything you serve and you can get away with eating a lot less of the other stuff. Brown rice is one of the good carbs, filling you up with complex carbohydrates and keeping you full longer.

3. Slice your meats
If you slice your meats instead of just serving the whole slab you'll find you are satisfied with much less. I don't know about you, but if I eat 3/4 of a chicken breast or a steak and I'm full I have a hard time letting that little bit go to waste, and it seems too small to save. If you start out with slices, chances are you'll load up less on your plate to begin with. And if you happen to have some brown rice under it, even better! (Two days ago I cooked 2 chicken breasts for my family of 3. I cubed it to serve in different dishes, and we still have chicken left for tonight's dinner, and maybe even for tomorrow's.)

4. Plan ahead
My mom would be so proud of me. Make a list and buy accordingly! So much less food is wasted when you know exactly how you'll use it ahead of time.

5. Buy on sale
When it comes to certain products just pick the cheaper option. Sometimes it really doesn't matter. In my opinion, there is no difference between the store's brand of stewed tomatoes and any other stewed tomato. It all tastes the same in my chili. Same with flour or sugar in my cookies. However, sometimes it does matter to you. Try the cheaper option, which isn't always the store's brand. If you hate it, go back to your usual. I've often found that it doesn't matter to me, or that I even like the cheaper one better. You can save a lot of money by knocking off a few cents here and there.

How do you make sure that being healthy stays a priority in your life?

Monday, May 9, 2011


This has been quite the difficult week for me. One thing that is making my life particularly stressful is the impending repair of my husband's car. Before his deployment, we had one car and it was alright. I walked to the grocery store sometimes, but I really couldn't do a lot more than that. When he deployed and I got the car all the time, well, that spoiled me a little, and we decided it was time to be a two-car family, for the sake of my mental health. Within the first week or so of his return, we bought a used car. It's a VW, which means it is AWESOME, and it drives like a dream, but because of the mileage it was only a matter of time before something would need to be repaired. That just comes with the territory of buying something someone else may have abused.

Then on Wednesday as my hubby is driving home, the clutch gives out. As you may know, that's an expensive repair, and without it you just can't drive your car. Simple as that...

So now I'm stranded at home again, waiting for the parts to come in. I miss my car, but there are a few things that I now remember about walking:

1. I miss walking! When you have a car, you get lazy. It's true. Don't bother denying it. I think I'm going to make the effort to walk more. I don't think my new resolve to walk will continue when it starts snowing, but I can sure enjoy it now!
2. Gas is way too expensive to be using it when you don't have to. The grocery store is literally one mile from me. Why the heck do I drive there?! I'm still going to drive when I have a big shop to do, but there are times I drive there to pick up milk. Just milk. It's time to stop being so wasteful!
3. It wears the baby out. Who would have thought that sitting in a stroller could be so tiring? I think this beautiful sun makes my kid nap, and who doesn't want that?!
4. It's relaxing. Driving can be stressful sometimes. I don't exactly know why, but it is. Taking a nice stroll gives you time to think and focus.
5. It's healthy! Walking is an extra little thing we can do each day to keep healthy. The more active you are, the better you feel!

It's good for you; it's good for your wallet. Who else is making the goal to walk more?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chicken Parmesan

You really don't need very much oil to fry your favorites.  Here is a recipe that proves a little oil can go a long way when it comes to taste.  If you are making this for 2, the recipe easily cuts in half and you only need 2 tsp of olive oil in 1 frying pan.  That's only 1 tsp per person, or 1/3 of a typical serving!

¼ c grated Parmesan, plus 2 tbs extra for serving 
¼ c Panko breadcrumbs
1 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, split in half to make 6 to 8 large, thin cutlets
Salt and pepper
4 tsp olive oil
Reduced fat or low fat buttermilk
Marinara sauce

1. Place the chicken in a Ziploc bag and cover with buttermilk.  Let it marinate overnight, or at least 4 hours.
2. On a plate, combine the breadcrumbs and ¼ c Parmesan. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken into the breadcrumb mixture to coat completely; set aside on a large plate or platter.
3. Heat 2 tsp oil in each of two nonstick 10-inch skillets over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken to each skillet and cook until lightly browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip, and cook until chicken is firm, and lightly browned on the other side, 1 to 3 more minutes.
4. Top with a spoonful of marinara sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Recently I changed this recipe a bit to make breaded chicken sandwiches. Here's what you need to know to turn 1 recipe into 2 recipes:
1. Instead of cutting the chicken breasts into thin cutlets, use a meat mallet to pound them to about a 1/2-inch thickness.  Then cut the chicken in half to create a shape more suited for sandwich buns.
2. Season the chicken however you'd like before dipping them in the crumbs.  I used salt, pepper, onion powder, and paprika.  Forget the Parmesan and just use the plain Panko crumbs to coat the chicken.
3. Cook the chicken the same way.  Serve on a whole wheat or whole grain bun with lettuce, tomato, or whatever you like!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Half-Guilt Banana Bread

I have been trying for awhile to bake a healthier banana bread. What else can you do with the bananas your kid refused to eat all week? I found a recipe online that worked well with substitutions. First I tried replacing all the butter with regular vanilla yogurt. The texture was wonderful and very moist, but it didn't taste quite the same. Still good, but not what you expect when you crave banana bread. Next I tried replacing the butter with light vanilla yogurt, which was simply just a bad idea. Finally, I tried replacing half the butter with regular vanilla yogurt, and even my husband, the banana bread connoisseur, couldn't tell the difference!

I plan on applying this idea to other banana bread recipes and cake recipes as well. Here's to half-guilt goodies!

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/6 cup vanilla yogurt 
1/6 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix yogurt and butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Spray a 4x8 inch loaf pan lightly with cooking spray and pour in the mixture. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve. 

I seriously just throw everything into my KitchenAid and it's done in minutes.  Easiest recipe ever.  You can add walnuts or even chocolate chips if you like.  If you like a hard crust, let the banana bread cool all the way on the rack and then eat.  If you like a soft crust like I do, let it cool mostly on the rack and then wrap in plastic wrap.  After a short while it should be moist and ready to eat.