Thursday, May 29, 2014

Zucchini Pasta with Chicken


Growing up in an Italian/Polish household pasta and carbs of all kinds were around constantly.  Needless to say I thought going Paleo was going to be one of the hardest things I would ever do.  I thought I was going to hate not taking part in pasta night and be tormented by the fact that I'd never eat a noodle again. Well one late night commercial later and a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond, and a MAJOR game changer made itself home in my kitchen drawer. My friends I give you the Veggetti.  Funny to say, but there is no joke about this little baby!  It has made eating healthy so simple and is like a sweet prayer answered for us Paleo folk.

So with this little gadget I have made all kinds of fun meals but my go-to, simple, quick favorite is just simple zucchini "noodles" with grilled chicken.

Serving Size: 1
Ingredients:

4 oz Grilled Chicken
1 Large Zucchini (Yields 1 cup "noodles")
2 tsp EVOO

First, take your washed zucchini and slice off the bottom end.  Place a strainer over a medium bowl and begin twisting your zucchini into the Veggetti.  Once the entire zucchini has been noodle-ized, put a tiny bit of Himalayan salt on the zucchini and toss.  This will help draw out any excess moisture.

Next season chicken as desired and grill in a small pan in 1 tsp EVOO. For the majority of my seasonings I use the 21 Day Fix Southwestern seasoning or in this case, the basic seasoning and the Mediterranean seasoning!

While chicken is cooking head back to your "noodles" and get the rest of that water out.  Lay a couple sheets of paper towel down and place noodles in the paper towel.  Wrap them up and wring them out over your sink.  Literally wring them out.  You'll be surprised at the amount of excess water that comes out.  Doing this makes sure they aren't soggy and have a nice texture.

Remove chicken from pan, let stand. Wipe out any chicken gunk and place "noodles" in the pan. Drizzle 1 tsp EVOO over noodles.  Add a little bit of parsley flakes and fresh cracked pepper. Toss for about 3 minutes or until heated.

Place chicken over noodles and voila- one of the most simple yet satisfying meals I've ever conjured up!

Enjoy :)





Monday, May 19, 2014

Vanilla Chai Shakeology


After a busy afternoon of shopping with one of my good friends, we were tired and ready to call it quits when we strolled past a little shop called Teavana.  I have never heard of this place before and I am so glad we decided to stop in for a little tasting they were doing!  If you've never been there, GO! It's amazing!! Among the few teas I decided to get, I am head over heels for the Oprah Chai tea.  Yes, Oprah did it again. *No Surprise* So while I was sipping on this tea one morning, the light bulb went on and I thought to myself, "How amazing would this be in Shakeology?!"  So I tried it and not to toot my own horn but man is this recipe AMAZING and SIMPLE!

Recipe:

-Oprah Chai Tea (or any chai tea will work), 16 ounces, steeped and chilled
{{When I say chilled I don't mean throw some ice in and call it done- that will just water the flavor down so steep it, let it cool or what I did was put it in the fridge for a little while}}
-1 Scoop Vanilla Shakeology
-1 Tbsp MCT Oil
{{This healthy fat is a tasteless oil, makes shakes creamier, helps increase metabolism and mental clarity}}
-4 to 5 ice cubes
{{For a thicker consistency add more ice}}
-Blend for about 30 seconds or until ice is blended thoroughly
-Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired



Voila. Deliciousness! With adding the tea to your Shakeology you're getting some extra energy and detoxifying agents! ALSO:  Switch up the cup/glass you typically use to drink your ShakeO!  Sometimes using a nicer glass than our shaker cups help us enjoy the delicious and nutritiously dense shake we kindly feed our bodies with!! :)


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My journey from addict to recovery


So today marks a big day for me.  Today is my first major milestone in my recovery- 30 days to be exact.  In order to talk about the last 30 days, I have to go back to the beginning, back to where it all started, and revisit the events {{or at least what I can remember}} that led me to getting clean and sober.  Fair warning..there's a lot of detail here..

I've always had an addictive personality.  It's either one extreme or another with me.  I'm either all in with healthy eating and exercising, or the opposite end of the spectrum--> sitting on the couch, eating ice cream all day. OR It's either not a drop of wine/vodka/beer/you name it or it's the entire bottle...and then some.  Let's stick to the latter for today.

Growing up I had it pretty good. I'm not bragging or anything like that, I'm just stating my childhood was pretty good. I grew up with two loving parents, a big brother and great friends.  I was raised Catholic, got all the sacraments I could, and then totally fell off the map as far as religion goes. My family would agree that I was EXTREMELY shy growing up. Who would have thought I turned out to be as outgoing as I am now (or at least as much as I think that I am)?  As my personality began to open up, so did my mind and it's curiosity.

Alcohol had always been around. {{This is not meant to reflect on my family, it's just a fact}}.  With it being at family get-togethers, camping trips, or simply something at dinner, or while watching the game, it was around.  Always.  So naturally, I eventually became curious.

I remember the first time I got drunk, where I was, who I was with, what we drank...  It was Mike's Hard Lemonade and a couple cans of Bud...(I can't help but to shake my head and laugh as I recall the memory). A silly night with my girlfriends, sneaking booze in one of their parent's basements.  Ridiculous, and a typical first encounter with alcohol. I should also mention that I was 13 years old.

Throughout high school I played sports, was a good student, but every weekend was a party.  I was drinking heavily when I did drink and would add marijuana to the mix every now and then too.  I would do that for a few years until it was almost senior year. Here is where things get interesting.

After years of binge drinking cheap vodka, nights dry heaving over toilets, and random hook-ups, I had changed.. and not for the better.  I was bored, so I switched things up.  I was 16 and recently addicted to ecstasy. I know, horrible but true. A lot of people don't know about this but there would be nights where there were parties or people would be just be hanging out and I would not go unless I was able to get my fix. I had the mentality, and the appearance of an addict. I was skin and bones and losing my grip.  To save you from some horrible details, let's just say nothing was getting through to me. Nothing. I couldn't stop.

I don't know how one of the teachers, {{the one that I most respected}}, found out or who told him--(let's face it, it was a small high school and everyone knew everything about everyone)--but he confronted me about it and that's when I broke down. It was like a one-man intervention. I don't remember what his exact words were, I just remember folding my hands over my eyes as I sobbed.  It's like a switch flipped in me and knew from that day forward if I kept going the way I was, something horrible would happen to me.  To this day I am thankful he stepped in.  I owe him my life and am very thankful that he and his entire family are still a part of my life and have played a big role in helping me become the better version of myself that I am today. Who knows, if it weren't for them I may not be here telling this story.

So now that I had stopped with the harder drugs, I came back to my good buddy booze and the occasional joint.  I began Partying hard through college, which led to my academic dismissal  from WMU. Most people think I came home for other reasons, but really, I got kicked out. No surprise. Since then every weekend had been a party, every occasion involved a drink in my hand. Everything revolved around alcohol.

After turning 24 I cooled off a little.  I got serious about going back to school and had grown so much.  I was nothing like my former self.... so I thought.  I'd still go out on the weekends, hang out with friends, did what any typical 20-something would do for fun.  I didn't think there was anything wrong with going to the bar and drinking all night. I thought it was normal to not remember anything.. I was blacking out every single time I drank.  Every. Time.  Recently I began having a bottle or 2 of wine for dinner instead of food, drinking half a fifth of vodka in one night and being "totally fine".  I was going down a dark path FAST.  Like I said, it's either all or nothing with me.

As I mentioned before I was raised Catholic but sort of threw in the towel as I grew up.  It just wasn't the priority it should have been. A friend took me to Kensington last Easter for the first time, but I didn't begin attending on a regular basis until this past January.  I truly believe it has changed me so much in such a short period of time. I had always heard about people saying God spoke to them and everything changed.  I truly believe that last month, He played a big role in my AHA moment.

I can't leave Beachbody and the Bombshell Dynasty out of the equation either.  I have been a coach for almost a year now, actually in a couple days it will be a year. Wow {{That literally just hit me}}.  I should be a lot further along in my business than I am and I have myself and alcohol to blame for that.  Being a health and fitness coach, I should be the picture of health, but I am not nor was I.  {{It's always going to be a journey there is no 'All Done' point when it comes to health and fitness..Just a little FYI).  Diet and exercise can only go so far, continuously drinking poison does not help.  Coaching has opened my eyes to what life can be, that the possibilities are endless if I just use the tools and keep moving forward.  The way I had been going was about 15 steps backwards.  So now that my business was taking off, it was time to completely clean up my act.  I'm thankful every day, even more so now, that I was given this opportunity.  It has helped me realize my potential and was the catalyst for me realizing that I was WORTH IT.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that it's hard for an addict to just stop.  I'm a routine rationalizer.  "If I work out twice today I can eat that pint of ice cream."  "If I don't eat dinner I can drink that bottle of wine."  "If I eat really clean and exercise daily, my alcohol consumption won't effect me."  "If no one is seeing me drink these drinks they don't really count."  "If I just stop for a little while I'll be totally fine."  WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. But that is how my brain used to function.  I still find myself saying things like that in my head, but I have come to the realization that the only person I'm cheating on, or lying to is MYSELF!


Thirty days ago exactly, I woke up after a night out with old friends and I just knew I didn't want to be that person anymore. My health began deteriorating in more ways than one, I was gaining weight and I was completely out of control and oblivious to it until recently.  I needed help, and I knew I couldn't do it alone this time. I reached out to a good friend and decided to join a recovery program through our church.  Hands down that has been the best decision I've ever made, {{other than becoming a Beachbody Coach}}.  Through this process I am rediscovering myself.  Who I am, who I want to be, how I want to live.  It's been an amazing experience so far.

I'd be lying if I said that Alcoholism wasn't in my blood.  I can blame that it runs in the family until I'm blue in the face but the fact of the matter is what I went through, what I'm going through, is because of me. My decisions, my actions, my attitude, my weakness led me here.

What's changed?

My health! Holy guacamole let me tell you what a difference the last few weeks have made.  Granted being a health and fitness coach helps when it comes to diet and exercise but add sobriety to the mix and it's really changed the game.  Anyone who has ever had a drink or a hangover know's the effect alcohol plays on your diet.  After a few drinks NO ONE says, "Man, I could really go for a salad right now!"  Let's be honest, the greasy food we crave after a not of drinking doesn't exactly have small waistline or heart healthy written all over it.  Plus, not drinking really helps me get more out of my workouts.

SLEEP!  I feel like I've been pretty well rested the last month.  My stress level has also seemed to decrease.  For the first time in...forever..I feel truly focused on me and bettering myself that it's given me some inner peace I hadn't even expected. Plus I don't go out as much, at least not to the bars.  Let's face it, I'll need a little more than 30 day's before I put myself in that situation confidently.

Friendships.  The big one. My close circle has changed dramatically.  I still have some close friends who have stuck around but the majority of them have faded.  When hobbies change, so do your friends.  When your in recovery it has to change and I am perfectly okay with that.  It has also made some relationships even stronger, including ones with family I don't see or speak to on a regular basis- that's improving! Instead of going out to the bar on Friday nights, I hang out with my friends and their kids.  I wake up early and go to Kensington with my family bright eyed, workout done and ready for the day Sunday mornings.  I cook, get a ton of work done, clean my house.  I do the same things I've always done, I just don't pick up a drink.

The most important thing that I have gotten out of this experience so far is that I have learned how to forgive, accept and love myself.  I'm thankful to my family and friends who helped me get to this milestone.  To Beachbody and my fellow coaches who have given me TONS of support.  A MAJOR shout out to Kensington.  Without that wonderful church there is NO WAY I would be where I am now.

In no way am I telling you what to do or how to live your life.  I'm not trying to hurt or offend anyone.  I just want to be real with you all and share who I was, how I got here and where I'm going. Maybe you can relate, maybe you have some old demons you're trying to battle.  Whatever your struggle is, know that you can overcome it and be free from your past hurts, habits and failures.  Learn from it, get help if you need it but most of all give yourself the love you deserve.

At each milestone / chip I receive, I'll be giving an update.  If you're curious where I'm going from here- stick around.  I PROMISE you it will NOT be boring.

If you feel like you can relate, want someone to talk to, need to vent or have any questions, don't hesitate to comment or message me. Xo!


Friday, May 9, 2014

Paleo 7 Day Meal Plan



Paleo.  The crazy way of eating like our primal ancestors may not be so crazy at all.  Remove the processed junk, sugary garbage, leaky gut causing crap and begin to feel lighter, happier and much MUCH more satiated.  What isn't beneficial about eating clean foods and lean protein?! With that being said, I decided to take the plunge and commit 100% to eating as close as possible to a Paleo meal plan.  Initially I was hoping to just lose a little bit of weight, I wasn't expecting what happened!

At first I was a little intimidated by the high fat/low carb component of the Paleo lifestyle.  After all, we have been conditioned that fat is so bad it almost became taboo.  I was apprehensive too to the new macronutrient ratios because of how much I work out.  Our bodies get energy from carbs so how could I possibly function on so little?  That's where, as I have learned, the MAGIC happens.  Our bodies are conditioned to burn off of higher amounts of carbs so why not condition it to burn off of something else-- like FAT!  We want to lose fat, so why not utilize the extra pounds of it that we have as fuel!  It takes a couple days for your body to catch on (which is why I did a full week for you), so don't be surprised if you're dragging the first couple days.  Power through because what happens next is super cool.

The trick is to eat fat and protein with every meal and when you do eat your carbs make sure you eat some healthy fat with them. So in other words, eat fat with every meal- HEALTHY fat of course! Why with every meal? Fats help your body absorb the nutrients in your food so you get the most out of ever bite!

So enough of the small talk-here is what I ate bite, for bite for the last week that helped me lose 8 lbs and have no cravings ((I know Shakeology played a major role in that too)), constantly feel full, feel lighter, I no longer feel bloated and best of all, I feel healthy and strong!

Here comes some tough love:
{{Eating healthy foods is NOT expensive, STOP using it as an excuse}}

Costco:

-Mini Wholly Guacamole cups: The PERFECT serving, they make life easy and you can freeze them too!
-Chicken breast/Chicken tenderloins: They come in 8 prepackaged pouches, usually 2 servings in each pouch
-Ground Turkey: They have this prepackaged right across from the chicken :) 
-Fresh Asparagus: Seriously SO much cheaper here and plenty in one package :)
-Frozen Broccoli: The biggest bag of frozen broccoli florets, I've ever seen: You get a bigger bang for your buck and it doesn't go bad!
Kroger/Meijer:
7- Medium Apples-You can grab a bag too if it's easier! I ate Jangold or Honeycrisp
1- 16 oz Bag of RAW, unsalted Almonds
16- Medium Strawberries or 1 container
1- 5 oz. Container Baby Romaine Lettuce 
1-5 oz Container Baby Spinach
 {{The earthbound organics brand is typically 2 for $5 at meijer so I'll get that}} 
1- Bag of Lemons {{I put lemon wedges in my water too, it helps me drink more!}}
1-6 oz Sirloin {{Cut in half for two different dinners}}
6-Bell Pepper (Yellow, Red, Orange and/or Green)
1-Dozen Large, Cage free Organic eggs {{I usually buy two or get them at Costco and hard boil one dozen in case I'm in need of a snack-they are perfect for curbing hunger Plaeo style}}
1-Large Cucumber
1-Bunch Green Onions {{You can add these to anything without changing values too much}}
1-Container Grape Tomatoes
2-Small-Medium Sweet Potatoes
1-Jar Pace Salsa

Kitchen Staples:
Balsamic Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw Honey
Dijon Mustard
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Himalayan Salt

The majority of these foods and ingredients will last more than one week-that's what the freezer is for!  Eating healthy is NOT expensive! Shop smarter, plan your week out and your George Washington's will go A LOT further than you think!
TO WASH VEGGIES and FRUIT: {{This helps them last longer and you really should be washing veggies properly ESPECIALLY if you aren't buying them organic}}

Fill sink with cold water, add 1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar.
Place produce in the water and mix them around, let soak for 10 minutes.
Rinse veggies and fruit and place on the counter to dry.
Voila, clean, longer lasting tasty WHOLE foods :)


One of the more important parts of this.  Since your eating habits will change you need to ensure you're getting in all of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Here are some of my favorites that I use DAILY!


You've probably heard me talk about this many MANY times, that's because it's the best stuff EVER made and has improved my health tremendously. Shakeology is a dense nutritional shake that is filled with tons of vitamins and nutrients all from REAL food. No added garbage or synthetic ingredients.  Shakeology helps manage weight, decrease cravings, increase energy, and improves digestion. It has a bazillion health benefits and you can read about those and more information on Shakeology HERE. For a sampler pack of our favorite flavors CLICK HERE.

MCT Oil:
Short for Medium Chain Triglycerides, this oil is actually tasteless. It helps increase metabolism, decrease body fat, increase lean muscle mass, and has also been proven to increase mental clarity.  It's good to add into anything and you can cook with it too.  I add mine to my chocolate Shakeology, some water and shake it up and it tastes like brownie batter!  I ordered mine on amazon because finding the 100% pure version can be a wild goose chase in stores. Click HERE for the exact MCT oil I use!

Probably the best post workout drink ever. Tastes like an orange creamsicle and will refuel, re-energize, and reduce muscle soreness.  It is 4 parts carbs to 1 part protein and definitely helps muscle repair after intense workouts! The best part is it's all-natural, with no artificial flavors or sweeteners which makes it Paleo friendly and very VERY helpful to the recovery process! Click HERE for more info on the R&R formula!

This stuff is magical and by far the best preworkout formula I have ever used. Drink it 15-30 minutes before a workout and watch as it helps increase your energy, endurance, strength, and focus.  It also is nice to put a pep in your step if you have a full day of errands and cleaning.  The best part is, it doesn't leave you jittery, jumpy or make your heart feel like it's going to jump out of your chest.  It's made from a proprietary blend of advanced nitric oxide boosters, amino acids, natural energizers, electrolytes, and essential B vitamins which all help you power through and maximize your workouts and energy. Find it HERE.

Prepare as much as possible to keep you on track for the week.  For example, grill all of your chicken, portion out your raw almonds, wash, slice & portion all of your veggies as needed so you can grab and cook or grab and snack later, prepare salad dressing, etc.

Stick to the plan, eat when you're hungry, drink a ton of water, get 6-8 hours of sleep and don't forget to get some daily exercise in! ALL components are CRITICAL in losing weight and staying healthy. I averaged about 80 oz of water a DAY! {{Add fresh Lemon Juice- it helps}}


 




Strawberry, Balsamic Chicken salad
Fiesta Egg Scramble
Veggies + Guacamole
Chicken Fajita Salad
Turkey Burger
Baked Sweet Potato
Venison Burger
Paleo Veggie Egg Salad
Baked Asparagus
Balsamic Vinaigrette







Daily exercise is critical to a healthy mind and body.  Working out isn't just about shedding lbs and sculpting your body, it helps reduce stress and increases a positive mood!  I prefer to work out at home because it's convenient and effective!  During this plan I continued P90X3.  For more information on P90X3 head HERE.  Click HERE to check out prices, package details and to get yours NOW!

Want to see more at home programs and the complete Team Beachbody Shop click HERE

CLICK HERE TO GET SPECIAL SAVINGS ON SHAKEOLOGY AND AN AT HOME PROGRAM TOGETHER AND THE CHANCE TO WIN SOME SERIOUS PRIZE $$!  

I'm so excited for you and your journey with Paleo.  Some ways of eating aren't for everyone but I am happy to say after YEARS of crash diets, eating disorders, hormone issues and weight loss struggles I have finally found something that works!

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