I fell off the wagon and gained back 20 lbs, ugh

I think it is time that I be honest with myself and embrace the fact that I have totally made every excuse for not following my diet and skipping my exercises. I worked so hard for a year to lose 40 lbs and reverse my PCOS.  I got down to 135 lbs which may be high for some but with my muscular 5'6 frame was a perfect weight. I never felt better in my whole life. Here is my original transformation results at about 140 lbs: Then the excuses started..... I sold my house and moved into a rental property until we could find something to buy. Anyone who has every sold a house knows that finding the perfect buyer for your house and the perfect house to buy at the same time and have both escrows close smoothly is very hard. The sun, moon, and stars have to align.....lol. Anyways, life kind of went crazy from that point. We found a great rental but it was not HOME. My husbands health tanked which we later discovered was adrenal fatigue (from abusing pre-workout, don't do it). And of course there is always work and having too much fun trying out all the restaurants in the new town we moved into. So yes blah blah blah, I had tons of excuses to abuse my body and here I am back to 153 lbs. Actually I got as high as 160 a month ago and that is when I really felt like crap about myself. Check it out: These photos I took the night I got home from my Hawaiian vacation in September almost exactly a month ago. I saw 162 on the scale!!!!! I almost cried. How did I let this happen? I mean seriously? The weight just slowly but surely crept on and voila, now my pants don't fit. I can actually pinpoint the exact things that got me back to this point: 1 - Alcohol!!! I got right back to the habit of having too much fun and drinking when quite honestly, there was no need. Check out my article on booze and how is sabotages your weight loss. 2 - Carbs!!! The second I moved down the street to an amazing Mexican Food restaurant, I made a weekly habit of over eating the chips and salsa which are my weakness and this just grew into eating excess carbs daily. 3 - Sugar!!! I started off by rewarding myself for a good job moving and getting through escrow with my favorite Reeses Pieces and before I know it, I was buying all kinds of sweets regularly and after a few weeks, I was right back to having crazy sweet cravings. I am sure my insulin resistance started coming back at this point. 4 - Quit working out!!!!! This hurt me the most because my workouts help with my energy and as I lost muscle, the fat started caking on. I traded those muscular curves for a more dumpling type of curve. Not cool!!! Enough feeling sorry for myself, I have been getting back into my routine and started a program called The 21 Day Fix. I chose this program because the workouts are only 30 minutes long and it comes with a portion control system which is key to dropping the weight. I don't plan to take a year to lose the weight when I know it can be done in a few months. So as of today I am at 153 which is already much better and I plan to be back into my size 4 jeans by Christmas. I will post my full transformation #2 after I complete the program. I just think it is an important step to admit that I am to blame for where I am BUT that I can get back to where I was. For any of you that are really beating yourself up, STOP!!!! Just decide right now to move the slight edge in the opposite direction and every day you will inch your way closer and closer to your goal. I know when I started my first transformation at 174 lbs I didn't know what I was capable of but I wanted it bad and just did what needed to be done every day. Before I knew it, I blew past my original goal of 160 lbs and then 150 lbs and even 140 lbs to end up at 135. NEVER in a million years would I have thought I could get to that weight. Well having started my second transformation, I know this time that I absolutely CAN and have. So never give up. I did it and will do it again. You can do it too. In it together, be the change. Ciao, Jenn If you would like to hear my full story and original transformation, here you go. If you would like to join me in doing The 21 Day Fix, then send me a friend request on facebook and I will get you the details.

Is Alcohol Sabotaging Your Weight loss??

  alcohol As someone that has suffered from Alcoholism for many years, I have experienced first hand the role alcohol plays with weight loss or lack thereof. The biggest mistake dieters make in regards to alcohol is to either have "just one glass" of wine daily or to only drink on weekends but be soooooo good during the week. Well sorry, that does not help you get results, at least not at a good healthy pace. Let me explain why. Alcohol is metabolized differently than other foods and beverages. Under normal conditions, your body gets energy from calories in carbohydrates, fats and proteins which are slowly digested and absorbed within the gastrointestinal system. However, this digestive process changes when alcohol is present. When you drink alcohol, it gets immediate attention (because it is viewed by the body as a toxin) and needs no digestion. When the body is focused on processing alcohol, its not able to properly break down foods containing carbohydrates and fat. Therefore, these calories are converted into body fat and are carried away for permanent storage (FAT). So in short, it is not the calories of the alcohol that make you fat, but all the crap that you eat with it. And we all know how hard it is to resist salty greasy food when you are drinking. So now you understand why you can't lose weight while drinking on the weekends but what about the 5 days during the week when you are "Good"? Let me explain what happens there. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it causes water loss and dehydration. Along with this water loss you lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. These minerals are vital to the maintenance of fluid balance, chemical reactions, and muscle contraction and relaxation. Your bodies natural defense to this severe dehydration is to retain water. I can guarantee that after a night of drinking, you notice a gain up to 4 pounds the next day. However, on days that you really over do it, you will wake up all dehydrated, feeling skinny with a severe hangover from binge drinking. But later in the day after you start drinking water you will see the excess weight which will stick with you for the 2 days that follow. It takes the body up to 3 days to recover from a binger and during this recovery period, you WILL NOT LOSE FAT! Your body is simply not primed to focus on burning calories from fat when it is working to repair the damage from drinking. So as you can see, if you are a "WEEKEND DRINKER", that means that you are not losing weight:
  1. Friday - Saturday while drinking. In fact you store fat during these days.
  2. Sunday - Tuesday while your body is recovering.
This means that you have Wednesday - Thursday to actually get some successful fat calorie burning. Likely most of this calorie burning is simply working off the calories stored during the weekend. It is easy to see how this cycle sabotages any weight loss. This is a perfectly fine lifestyle for someone that is maintaining their weight as long as they are cautious about food calories and continue to workout but for someone trying to actually lose weight, fat chance!!! Sorry but its the truth and I lived it for YEARS. I am an expert of this cycle. In fact I drank many weekdays also in my past. And my weight just continued to rise until I topped off at 174 pounds and finally had enough. For those of you that are serious about dropping fat and getting healthy, kick the booze, at last for a few months. Don't fall into the skinny margarita trap. If you want to see my own story and results Here You Go.  

I have let myself Go – So mad at myself

I have recently accepted that I have been letting myself go again. By no means am I anywhere near the 174 pounds that I started at but I have gained 10-15  pounds since January and it is all due to my terrible diet. I try and be good but am easily distracted by crap in the break-room, and garbage food brought into my house. It all started when my husband got sick around January and was riddled with extreme fatigue and pretty much gave up on his own workouts and was eating whatever he wanted. I just followed right along. It started with just my meals at home and eventually my sugar cravings came back and I started eating cheat meals throughout the day. I have slowly but surely crept up in weight and now all the jeans I have purchased at my glorious new weight are too tight or just simply do not fit. By no means am I huge or "fat", I am not saying that at all. I do however feel like complete crap. My energy is non existent and I am relying on Coffee to keep myself awake and I am at the point where I still do my workouts but they do not feel as effective and I absolutely dread them. I feel like I did before I ever started my fitness journey. What makes me most ashamed is that I am a Beachbody coach and I teach my challengers to do exactly what I am doing. I watch them get amazing transformations and all along, I am just going in the opposite direction. So I am including myself in this months challenge group and sharing weekly progress photos with my challengers. They will hold me accountable just like I hold them accountable. I vow today to STOP the nonsense and get back on track. I was so much happier when I was eating healthy. The odd part is that some people told me I was too skinny at 135 but you know what, I don't care. Not everybody felt that way and I felt absolutely awesome. At my current weight, 150 (ugh), and state of health, I feel like a beached whale. And this is not what I think I look like, it is how my body feels. I ache to move, cannot move fast, and feel physically heavy. Like lifting my legs to kick is a huge task. So I will disregard the "TOO SKINNY" comments and get my body back to when it was feeling good. Because right now I absolutely do not feel good. I am unhappy in my skin and quite simply feel miserable. I am determined to get the good feeling back and the energy I had only 6 months ago. I have done it once and will do it again. Here goes nothing. And here are my starting pics for accountability. I am doing the workout PiYo and that paired with my Shakeology and clean eating will get me healthy again. Wish me luck. As anyone who has done a clean eating workout routine knows, it is not easy to change your lifestyle but tremendously rewarding.  

Dairy Free Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti Squash

This is a great way to change up a family favorite. P1030325 Prep Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 1 hr

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 lb), cut in half
  • 3/4 cups spaghetti sauce (optional homemade)
P1030312

DIRECTIONS

1 – Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray 2 - Filet chicken breasts so breasts are 1/2 inch thick 3 – In shallow dish, combine almond meal, paprika, garlic, cumin, cayenne, pepper, and salt. P1030315   4 - Put 2 cups of apple sauce in a bowl and dredge each piece of chicken in apple sauce then coat with almond spice mixture completely coating all sides of the chicken breast and place flat on cookie sheet. (optional to use eggs instead of applesauce) 5 – Bake chicken for 25 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion registers 160°F and breading is crispy brown. 6 – After sticking chicken in oven, place squash, cut sides up, in microwaveable dish. Cover with plastic wrap; microwave on High 25 minutes or until fork-tender. Using a fork, scrape flesh from squash. Keep warm until ready to serve. 7 – Meanwhile, heat remaining spaghetti sauce in medium saucepan over medium heat and add lots of Italian seasoning. Keep warm until both chicken and squash are ready. 8 - When chicken is crispy, put 1 cup of squash on serving dish and place one chicken breast on top of the squash. Spoon about 2 tablespoons spaghetti sauce onto each chicken breast and voila, dairy free chicken Parmesan. P1030323  

For those looking for something a little less healthy

This particular recipe is made to be paleo and non-dairy but you can make some of the following changes to the recipe to suite your own taste and dietary needs: 1 - Use eggs instead of applesauce to coat the chicken for the breading 2 - Add parmesan cheese to both the breading and on top of the sauce when serving. 3 - Use whole wheat angel hair pasta instead of spaghetti squash. 4 - Add olive oil or butter to spaghetti squash for added flavor.   Cooking is fun so make each recipe your own. Enjoy. Click here for more fun recipes 🙂  

A Stripped Down Meal Plan

A stripped down meal plan is not a lifestyle. It is designed to help you with the last 10 lbs or to get you read for an event. This is not an option if you are just starting your weight loss journey or have a lot of weight left to lose. It follows the basic principles of eating clean but really strips it down. The basic Clean Eating Principles are:
  1. Eat more often. Eat 6 small meals every day spaced about 2-3 hours apart
  2. Make sure your last meal is at least 3 hours before you go to bed
  3. Eat breakfast EVERY day. You need to start with fuel in AM to boost your metabolism.
  4. Eat Fats but Healthy Fats every day.
  5. Eat carbs (grain or fruit) always with a protein
  6. Drink 2-3 liters of water daily (Your weight divided by 2 in ounces is a minimum)
  7. Carry a cooler packed with your meals so you always have healthy food available
  8. Depend of fresh fruits and veggies for fiber, vitamins, nutrients and enzymes.
  9. Be mindful of portion sizes. You likely need much less food than you think.
  10. Do not eat anything processed. Stick to foods with less than 6 ingredients.
The last 10 pounds will be the most difficult and stubborn so to do it in a healthy way, without depriving yourself and sacrificing nutrition, you need to supplement your diet with an abundance of fruits and veggeis. Examples of good veggies: Yams, bell peppers, cucumber, broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, spinach, zucchini, green beans, radishes, onion, and my favorite garlic. Examples of good fruits: Apples, berries, cherries, tomatoes (yes a fruit), limes, lemons, apricots, and oranges. Great Protein Sources include: Eggs, lean fish, lean turkey, chicken, shrimp, bison (very low fat red meat), quinoa, hummus, tofu and tempeh. Healthy Fat options include: Nuts (almonds and walnuts), seeds (sunflower and pumpkin), avocados (my favorite fat), and oils (sesame, coconut, olive, walnut, flaxseed and fish). So here is a ideal Strip Down Day including workout: 4:00 am - Get up early and do my workout (T25, Turbo Fire, or Chalean Extreme for me) 5:00 am - Breakfast - One piece of whole grain bread, 1 egg, and 1/4 avocado egg] 8:00 am - Snack - Vanilla Shakeology shaked with water and two Tbsp of powder peanut butter. Shakeology is a meal replacement shake and to read more about it: (What is Shakeolog) shakeology 11:00 am - Lunch - Raw Spinach, chopped onion, garbanzo beans, tomato, 6 oz baked chicken, and an olive oil based wasabi salad dressing. 2:00 pm - Snack - A cup of berries and a handful of unsalted almonds 5:00 pm - Dinner - 6 oz Grilled Rock Fish, Grilled bell pepper and onion, and 1 cup quinoa dinner 8:00 pm - Off to bed and then start it all over again the next day 🙂 As you can see this is not a starvation diet. You still get to eat a lot of food. But to strip down I focus on cutting down dairy and carbohydrates (not carborexic though). And there is absolutely nothing processed on my meal plan.      

What roles do you play and are you giving 100%?

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I have several roles and each of them is equally important. At first you think “no way”, but each role is somehow related to and attributes to every other role. For instance, my role as a Business Woman contributes to my Engineering career because the personal development and team building I do as a Beachbody coach has rolled over into the way I conduct business as an Engineer. I am a better Engineer for it and it is reflecting in my paycheck, both engineering and Beachbody. My role as a Hard Core health conscious woman has attributed to the Fun Social Jenn because I look and feel better in my skin which allows me to feel more confident and outgoing. My dedication to being a good Furr Mommy and work ethic as an Electrical Engineer contribute to the health of my marriage because they are things that my husband admires about me and are at the core of why we fell in love. My role as a good wife contributes to my Beachbody Business because it keeps me focused. My husband is my partner. I count on the health of my marriage to keep me centered and on track. Otherwise my mind would wonder. It is important to identify all your roles and make sure you are giving 100% effort in all of them. If you slack off in one area because you do not find it as important as another, it will hurt your other roles whether you intend it to or not. There is a domino effect of failing in just one of your roles. Here is an example. Sometimes as people become parents, they begin to neglect their role as husband/wife. They are just trying to be an amazing mommy/daddy but being an amazing wife/husband is also very important especially since you are a role model for your children. Children learn what a healthy relationship looks like from YOU. If your marriage is not healthy, you will feel un appreciated and possibly depressed because at the end of the day children require lots of love and attention but don’t give it back until older. You are pretty much a slave to wiping drool and changing diapers for a few years. So if you are not receiving love and affection from your marriage partner this absolutely pours over into your job and friendships. It’s hard not to take it to work with you and with friends it’s likely all you can talk about or you are just not as social and fun because your mind is somewhere else. So be mindful of this domino effect and don’t take any role for granted and remember to be appreciative of the others in your life for the roles they play. Please share this so other people can be reminded as well.

Summer Slim Down Online Fitness Group Starting Soon

Challenge Post Summer is upon us and its time to start my first official Summer Slim Down Fitness Group starting June 2nd. In this group I help you with meal planning/prep and keep you moving, literally. Participation is completely online in a secret Facebook group and your workouts are done in the privacy of your own home, but they must be done!!!! No ladies left behind! If you are truly READY, send me a friend request on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/jenngraham57) and message me for details.

Good protein sources for vegetarians

Vegetarians run a high risk of low iron due to the fact that they do not consume animal meat which is a primary source of protein. So for those of you doing a vegetarian diet or lifestyle, here are some great sources of protein: 1. Beans and Lentils - They are the cheapest source of protein. So whether you prefer kidney, garbanzo, white, black, or pinto beans, buy lots of cans of beans, rinse and drain them to remove 40% of the sodium, and use them in everything.
  • White beans taste awesome in pasta
  • Garbanzo or edamame in stir-fries
  • Black beans and pinto in burritios, tacos and quesadillas
  • Lentils or kidney are great in salads and whole grain pita lunches.
To avoid toxins found in metal canned foods, buy an organic grand, look for frozen beans, or buy dried ones and cook them yourself. 2. Nuts and Seeds - Nuts contain 3 to 7 grams of protein per 1/3 cup serving depending on the type (peanuts and pine nuts have the most). Seeds have 2-5 grams per 1/3 cup serving depending on the type. As far as nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews, and pine nuts are all good vegetarian protein sources. Sprinkle them on everything from salads to yogurt. As far as seeds, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower are great sources of protein. Perhaps try a seed butter on toast with jelly. I prefer jalapeno jelly. I like a little spice. 3. Chia seeds have some protein, not as much as nuts or legumes, but they have high nutritional value. They are an incredible source of fiber with nearly 11 grams of fiber in a single ounce. That is 1/2 your daily value of fiber. They contain 18% of your daily calcium requirement, which is more that triple the amount you get from a serving of milk. And they have no flavor so you can add a tablespoon to almost anything. Throw them in the blender with a shake or mix them in with some rice. They won't alter the flavor of anything you eat. 4. Tofu and Tempeh - Tofu has 8 grams of protein per serving while Tempeh has 18 grams per serving. Literally, use tofu in place of chicken in any recipe. You can make a burger with it or use it in chili or seasoned or broiled into a high-protein crouton on a salad. But look for organic products to avoid GMOs (genetically modified organism). If you are not a fan of the texture of soy or tempeh, you can try soy in the form of soy milk which has 8 grams of protein per glass. Do not make soy your main source of protein though because too much can cause issues with hormones in your body for both women and men. Aim for one serving of soy per day maximum. 5. Hemp - Hemp seeds contain 6 grams of protein per ounce and hemp milk has  2 grams per cup. So if you are freaked out by the potential affects on your hormones by soy, then hemp products are the next best choice. Hemp is sold as a dairy alternative or as seeds and is one of the very few plants proteins that supply you with all the essential amino acids. These acids are necessary to build muscle and create more protein. The fatty acids in hemp seeds and hemp milk also boost your immune system. 6. Eggs contain 6 grams of protein per egg. The protein in eggs has the highest biological value which is a measure of how well it supports your body's protein needs of any food, including beef. The yolks contain vitamin B12. 7. Greek Yogurt has 15 - 20 grams of protein per 6 ounce serving. All dairy sources are good sources of protein but Greek Yogurt contains the same amount of protein as a three ounce serving of lean meat. So top that off with a handful of nuts and you will get a large amount of your daily protein in a single meal. 8. Avocados contain 4 grams of protein per avocado. All veggies contain between 1 - 2 grams of protein per cup but avocados (which are technically a fruit) but avocados contain twice that. The protein in avocado also contains all nine essential amino acids. The same acids your body needs to build muscle. 9. Pseudograins - These are actually seeds that are cooked and served like grains. Some wonderful pseudograins include quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and wild rice. Pseudograins are a great alternative for people that have an intolerance to the gluten in wheat, barley and rye. However whole grains contain decent amounts of protein, wheat providing the highest plant based protein of any food. If you decide to eat corn, choose blue over the yellow and white because it has 30% more protein.   So as you can see there are lots of options and alternatives to get appropriate amounts of protein in the diet when following a vegetarian lifestyle.  

Tips to Get Started Eating Clean Now

Are you ready mentally to start eating clean but have no idea where to start? Are you struggling with how to ditch your old habits? I have some tips for you to make the transition a little smoother. 1) You need to first sit down and decide what "Eating Clean" means to you. It can be defined differently for everyone. You may choose not to eat organic vegetables to save money for instance and that is fine. When I first started my Eat Clean Basics were:
  • Nothing White. This means no sugar, white flour (includes pasta, bread, muffins, etc), no white rice. Literally tell yourself, if its white and is not a vegetable or fruit, its off limits. Some products are not white but have multiple ingredients so this requires you to read labels and make sure none of the offending items are in it.
  • No Alcohol. This was a big sacrifice for me at first because I was in my 20's with no children when I started eating clean. But it was a necessary sacrifice I would make 100 times over.
  • Eat Healthy Sources of Fats. Make sure that you are getting your fats from natural healthy sources. Some great options are: avocado, olive oil coconut oil, and nuts.
  • Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meats. Quite honestly, you have a large variety of food available to you when eating clean it just may not be familiar to you.....yet. So try out some new recipe ideas with ingredients you have never tried before. You may find some whole foods you never knew you loved. And a big key to keep in mind is that you should never feel hungry or deprived. If you are doing it correctly, you will be moderately hungry before it is time for you to eat again. Staving off the hunger feeling will dramatically help with the sugar cravings and within a few weeks they should be gone completely.
  • Treat Yourself. If there is something you just really love that is off limits when eating clean then it is acceptable and recommended to treat yourself occasionally. Be mindful though that this is a "cheat meal" and not an entire day or week. It is best to decide when you will have your cheat meal and how often. Make it part of your prep. This is your treat so have it and enjoy it but do not go overboard with it. If you choose to have some cake, don't eat the whole cake. Stick to the normal serving of that particular item. I personally love frozen yogurt covered with rainbow sprinkles and butterfinger so I get it on the way home from work almost every Friday.
  • Stock a clean eating pantry and load the fridge up with fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. If you are looking for convenience stock your freezer with the frozen varieties. Just be sure the frozen fruit does not have added sugar.
2) Clean out the fridge and pantry. First of all discard all the expired stuff and start reading labels. If you find anything with ingredients that are not "clean" or that you cannot pronounce, throw it away. Or if you feel bad throwing stuff away like I did, send a food care package to someone that would really appreciate it. And throw away anything that says "fat free"!! That screams processed food. The only fat free food you should consume is fat free Greek yogurt. 3) Make a grocery list. The first grocery store (or stores) trip will be a big one because several things can and should be purchased in bulk. So budget accordingly or limit your variety the first week so that you are not buying everything in one trip. For instance, maybe decide to get the quinoa in bulk on the first week trip and then a big bag of rice on the next trip. Or olive oil this time and coconut oil next time. This will limit the variety of food but it wont hit the pocket book as hard. And build up your spice variety as you go. Spices can be expensive but they go a long way so maybe just get a few each trip. Here is a great shipping list for beginners. 4) Use shopping day as Prep day too. Don't under estimate how much time it takes to prep food. Try and get your grocery shopping done early in the day and get right to prep when you get home. I like to buy lots of veggies for stir fries and do all the chopping on Sunday. If you have ever made fajitas or stir fry, you know that it takes about 30 minutes just to cut up all the veggies. That is a lot of time to spend during the week after a long day at work. As much as I love coming home to a clean house, I love coming home to an easy to make dinner. Pre-chopping cuts the time to make dinner in half. I also like to make a batch of my dutch oven chicken on Sunday which I use in salads, wraps, etc throughout the week. I also make a large batch of my quinoa/rice recipe which I will use with dinners or fry up with some egg whites to make myself an Asian style fried quinoa/rice (this is the bomb.com). Find all my recipes and videos here. 5) Buy a cooler or lunch bag. I personally have a lunch bag that I use to keep my snacks and lunch cold in for work. You can pick these up cheap on amazon and go crazy and get a fun color. The cooler is key because you have all your meals for the work day in one spot and easily accessible. The best part is that you can take food that needs to be refrigerated when you work in a place that does not have a refrigerator accessible. 6) Give yourself time to adjust. If you are intimidated by all the changes then take it one step at a time. Slowly take things away and start adding new foods into your diet. Start with substitutions like greek yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise and cut out the soda and fast food. This is your lifestyle so you need to change it at your own speed. Some people are able to do this in one fail swoop and others need baby step their way along. Small changes are still changes so you will be on the right track. I really hope these tips help you feel less intimidated and ready to take control of your health. Remember that eating clean is a lifestyle choice and not a diet so don't treat it as something you are dreading. Make it fun. Add your own fun flair and prepare yourself to reap the benefits of eating clean. Eating Clean has changed my life. If you want to hear how I managed to transform my lifestyle, here is my story.