Thursday, May 30, 2013

Diet-Keeping Recipe: Mexican Summer Chili

Today is REALLY hot!  I thought about eating a salad for lunch, but am pretty sure I'd have watched it melt before my eyes as I took my first bite.

So... there's a bunch of tomatoes on my shelf, cilantro in my fridge, and a basket full of fresh limes on my counter.  My hungry creative juices started to flow, and I came up with a really yummy low-cal lunch idea.  It was sooooo good, that I just had to share!  Mind you... I did not measure everything out specifically, but you can see for yourself, it's so healthy... you just don't have to.

Mexican Summer Chili


Tomatoes (Roma or On the Vine)
Onion (yellow or white)
Fresh Cilantro
Fresh Lime
Fresh or Granulated Garlic
1 15oz can of Black Beans


1.  Dice tomatoes and onion and put in a glass mixing bowl.
2.  Mince cilantro, add to the tomato mixture.
3.  Squeeze lime into mixture (add to taste)
4.  Add salt, cumin & garlic to taste.
5.  Open can of black beans.  Drain the juice from the beans, and add to the tomato mixture.

Mix it up gently and serve.

Enjoy your cool, yummy Mexican Summer Chili!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Putting on my "Kerri-tude"

Putting on my "Kerri-tude" - Podcast

"Kerri-tude?"  Yes... you got it right.  I'm putting on my Kerri-tude.  So what's that?  Well...  I'll get to that in a minute.

This weekend, I was surprised by a well-planned and well-kept secret between one of my best friends & my hubby.  A surprise visit by my friend, Kerri.

When Kerri and I met six years ago, her salon business was struggling to get started, and I couldn't afford to get my hair done, so we became the perfect business match.  I would do her advertising design, and she would fix my hair.

At the time, Kerri was living week to week and could barely keep her head above water.  But... no matter how bad it got, she refused to give up... kept pushing forward, and in about 5 years, she grew her business from a $14,000 a year business to a $250,000 a year business... and it's still growing!

So... why talk about Kerri on my diet-breaker blog?  Well... besides the fact that I enjoyed some yummy sparkling wine and berries and a good handful of other diet-breaking treats this weekend, there IS a point to this.

There is a reason why Kerri is so successful.  She CHOOSES to motivate herself.  She chooses to make changes, and she is not afraid keep pushing forward.

Kerri is my 'tell it like it is,' friend.  Throughout the years of our friendship, I've done my share of whining, crying and "poor me'ing" it to Kerri.  And you know what?  Her response has always been the same.  Buck up or change it, but stop complaining.  So... when I saw this quote this morning, I had to laugh... because this is pretty much a perfect "Kerri'ism."

Kerri and I had a little 'come to Jesus' meeting this weekend.  I have not been responsible in several areas of my life, and unlike most friends, who will just sit back, not say anything and mind their own business... Kerri just tells it like she sees it.  No... it's not always easy to hear, but I can honestly say I'm a better person because someone cares enough to be straight-forward with me.

So... today, I'm going to pour on some much needed tough love.  I've got my Kerri-tude on, so listen closely while I whisper...


YOU decide your own life.  You decide every day if you want to be fit and healthy.  And YOU decide if you just don't care enough to do something about it.

I have five kids.  I know how hard it is to work out and eat right when you're constantly rounding up and feeding kids.  BUT, what do you want to teach your children?  Do you want them to follow in your same pattern?  Because whether you're following a good or bad pattern, chances are, you're kiddos will follow in your footsteps.

When you teach your children that it's okay for mommy to have time to herself, they eventually learn, and respect that... and get this... IT'S REALLY OKAY to take that time!!!

I don't know what your excuse is... only you can know that.  But I'm telling you right now!

Figure out what it is.  Find a solution.  And make the commitment.

Your life is YOUR choice.  Do you choose to be miserable or unhappy?  Or do you choose to make a change and become a better you?

What it comes down to is this... don't blame anyone else for where you are in life.  You have the power to change.  SO YOU DECIDE!!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kicking some of that caffeine habit!

This week, I've given my people a challenge within a challenge... limiting caffeine intake to two 8oz servings a day.  To be honest, this is one challenge that I've got in the bag.  About three and a half years ago, I gave up my daily intake of regular caffeinated coffee and switched to decaf. 

And I get it... you're laughing right now (no... not the first time this has happened!  LOL) and you're thinking... "Decaf??? What's the point?"  The point is this... ever since I gave up my daily doses of caffeine, I no longer have eye twitches.  I'm not as jittery.  I sleep a little better (And I only say a little, because waking up with three kids in our bed is enough to deprive anyone of sleep!!!).  And who knows what else it's done!  The best part is that if I DO need caffeine, it works double-time.  One cup at 4pm will keep me going all night!

 I LOVE my morning coffee... and even though it's decaf, I still have a hard time starting my day without it.  But... here's your key to switching... If you're a coffee lover, and you're considering switching to the 'unleaded' stuff, you really need to buy a good brand of decaf.   My favorite brand of decaf coffee is an organic brand (which means the filtration is NOT chemical)...  Larry's Beans (and no... unfortunately I get no promotional kickbacks for mentioning the brand.  It's just that good!)  

When I give my friends a cup of decaf, most of them can't even tell they've been hornswoggled!!! (And no... not quite sure on the meaning of that word, but Doris Day uses it in Calamity Jane, and it's so fun to say!  LOL)

Now, here's the key to what I'm saying.  I'm not telling you to completely do away with caffeine, because there is no strong proof that a daily dose or two of caffeine is really harmful.  Just put some brakes onto the amount you ingest daily.

Why limit caffeine intake?  To make it easy to read and limit the length of this article, I summed it all up in this image I created for you last night (as I was snuggled into bed with my glass of ice water and the sound of silence piercing the cool night air :)

So... here it is... I challenge YOU to take this challenge.  If you are an avid coffee drinker, try to limit your coffee to 2 cups a day, and then switch to decaf.  If you only drink a cup or two a day... hey... maybe you can take the plunge and cut it out all together for a week.  The caffeine headache WILL go away... and then it won't be back :)

ONE LAST THING... I used to be a Linux geek... and then again... a social media strategist for an IT office... so I KNOW about the free sodas in the fridge. (Oh yeah... can't slip anything past me!  :)  So... if it's not coffee that is your battle, but the trips to the fridge (either at home or the office)... try to limit it to no more than one or two a day.  And as for cutting out the soda... well that's a whole 'nother story... (Which I will tell another day!)

So... here it is... take the challenge, and see what kind of difference a week will make!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"At the end of my 90 days, I felt like a hero!"

I am so excited about the winner of my last Beachbody challenge!  Ana was not happy with where she was regarding her fitness level.  She made the decision to change, and boy did she bring it!  Ana and my other challengers are the ones who I've mentioned that have helped encourage me along the way in reaching my own fitness goals.  She is not only a fellow doula, but I am so blessed to call her friend.

Ana chose to follow the Beachbody Insanity program, and in one of the hardest times in her life, she managed to work it into her daily routine.  SO PROUD OF THIS GIRL!!!

Ana's Story:

"I am 28 years old.  Mom to 3 beautiful boys.  Wife to an amazing hubby for 10 years now.  Doula, up until a month ago.  Owned and single-handedly ran a kids consignment and boutique.  Aspiring midwife...  Hmm, I think that's all. 

Since I stopped nursing my last son, I put on about 15 pounds and just haven't been able to shake it. I've tried diet pills, crash diets, gym memberships... on and on. I just felt defeated and over all dissapointed in myself. 

When I saw the amazing change Michelle was making using the challenges, workouts and Shakeology, I was more then ready to join!  When I first started, I was unsure if I could stick with it... there was so much going on in my life.  But somehow, I'd look at myself in the mirror and find time to push play that day. 

I didnt get to workout everyday.  I drank a beer when i just needed one... but I stuck with it.  I kept getting back on the wagon.  And at the end of my 90 days, I felt like a hero!  I had lost 9 pounds and several inches off waist , thighs and hips which is what i was really hoping for.

This challenge and mode of exercising is radical. The reason it actually worked for me is because I could do it on MY time... when it worked for me.  Whether that was 6 am or 11:30 pm, there was no one I had to face who was looking me up and down at the gym with that ugly... "I'm in better shape then you!" look on their face.  No one to be embarrassed in front of as I did what I could and then collapsed on my carpet in grunts and groans. 

Exercise and clean eating has become PART of my life instead of a binge.  And having the daily support and honesty of the challenge group makes it so much more fun!  My life has calmed down a bit.  With the sale of my business, I'm able to focus on my boys, my dad, my husband and myself.  But I took the challenge in the craziest time possible and was successful!

No matter how insane your daily life is... it's possible to make that effort to change yourself.  So overall, if you are feeing bad about your body, join up!!!  In 90 days, you'll find yourself writing one of these!  I'm so excited to keep going on this journey!!"

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Diet-KEEPING: Low-cal Chicken, Bleu Cheese & Almond Salad!

I've found that one of the easiest ways to make a quick healthy, and may I add... quite yummy, lunch is to take a frozen chicken breast, thaw it out, cook it up and throw it on a salad with some chopped veggies.

Today, I threw one together for my lunch, as I spent the entire morning spring-cleaning half of the kitchen, was terribly exhausted, and needed some extra Popeye-powered strength to make it through the second half of my cleaning frenzy.

When I make my salads, I often choose what to put on it based on two things... what I'm feeling like, and what I may actually have in my refrigerator :)

So, based on immediate desire and availability, here is the yummy concoction that I came up with today.

Low-cal Chicken, Bleu Cheese & Almond Salad (about 415 calories)

2-3c Organic Lettuce Mix (15-20 calories)
1/2 medium sized cucumber (10 calories)
1/3 orange or red bell pepper (10 calories)
1oz bleu cheese crumbles (100 calories)
1/8c toasted almonds - see preparation below (85 calories)
3T Balsamic dressing - see recipe below (120 calories)
1 3oz chicken breast thawed (75 calories)

Balsamic Dressing:
To make a simple lower-cal balsamic dressing, mix the following ingredients in the proper proportions (I usually salt and pepper to taste):

1/4 Olive Oil
1/4 Water
1/2 Balsamic Vinegar

Salad Preparation:

  • Chop lettuce and put in a mixing bowl.
  • Slice and then chop cucumber and bell pepper, then add to bowl.
  • Add the bleu cheese crumbles.
  • Chop almonds and toast in a frying pan with a little olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and garlic granules.  When toasted, throw into the salad bowl.
  • Toss salad and place on a dinner plate.

Prep Chicken:
  • Slice chicken breast against the grain.  Place slices in searing hot pan (with a little olive oil coating)
  • Sprinkle the top of the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic granules.
  • Once chicken slices are seared on one side, flip them over and re-season.  
It only takes a few minutes to cook the chicken this way, so be careful not to overcook it.  By cooking the chicken on a searing hot pan, it locks in the juices and keeps the chicken from becoming too dry.

Final Prep:

  • Add cooked chicken to the top of your salad.
  • Finish with about 3 tablespoons of balsamic dressing.
  • Salt and pepper to taste!

I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch, especially when it was paired with a nice cool glass of seltzer water and fresh lime :)  Gave me just the energy I needed to make it through the second half of my kitchen cleaning frenzy!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Getting past the FOOD ADDICTION

You know... you hear it from the time you're in junior high... and even now, from the time you're probably in Kindergarten.  "Just say no."  No?  Say no to what?  Well, we all know it.  We've heard it a million times.  DRUGS... of course.  (And now, in my 30-something mind, I have images of  "This is your brain.  This is your brain on drugs." haunting me.  LOL)

But... what if you're addicted to something you really can't give up?  What if giving it up would actually do more harm than good?  Then what do you do?

Hi, my name is Michelle, and I am a foodaholic.

Yes, you heard me right.  I'm addicted to food.  WHAT?  You say...  How can that be?  Addicted to food?  Is that even possible?

Well... let me take a step back before I move forward with this line of thought...  My mom (coming from a family where alcoholism was a problem) once gave me some great advice.  She told me... "Don't ever drink when you're sad or depressed or stressed or to soothe any particular emotion."  You know what?  I listened to my mom.  Throughout my adult life, I have consciously made an effort to not drink just because I'm mad or angry or want to feed an emotional need.

Now here's where my problem lies.  I didn't take this advice with regard to food.  For years, I've been an emotional eater.  On days when the baby (who is normally a cute little grump bucket when she's teething) has had an unusually fussy morning, and afternoon hits, one of the first things I want to do is raid the cabinet for anything chocolate.  Heck, I've been known to take chocolate chips and melt them with raisins on a whim, just to provide myself with an emergency supply of Raisinettes!   On a REALLY bad day, I'll make a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, just so I can sit and eat it and feel sorry for myself while watching a sappy romance movie on Netflix.

So really... does it work?  Heck yeah... it sure DOES!  For about an hour or two... that is.  Then I'm hit with the sudden realization that all those fat cells, are one by one, gluing themselves onto my thighs.  This is quickly followed with feelings of frustration and guilt for yet again 'falling off the wagon' (as I call it).

To be honest, when I'm not battling depression or a lot of stress, it's fairly easy to stay on the wagon and make healthy choices.  The problem.  The addiction.  That comes when the emotions start flooding over me.  That's when the real work begins.  It's where the addiction shows it's nasty little head.  Eating BECAUSE I'm stressed.  Eating BECAUSE I feel hurt or sad.

How do I get past it?  Well, some weeks I don't.  This Spring has been pretty hard.  With a fussy teething baby and other issues I've had to deal with, I'll admit that I battled some depression.  There were a few weeks where getting out of bed was merely a decision.  There were days where I did make that batch of cookie dough and just had at it.

BUT... I pulled myself out of it.  With the help of the friends I've made through my Beachbody challenge groups, I made it through a tough Spring without completely giving up.
I got back up.  I kept pushing play (on my workout DVDs), and I focused on finding other ways to deal with the stress.
I realize that constantly failing might make me look like a pretty stinky leader... to fall off the wagon and be public about it when I'm trying to promote a healthy lifestyle.  But here's the deal... This is a very personal journey for me.  It is not easy for me to always eat right.  It is not easy to say no to my emotional cravings.   This is something I have to actively work at, and I'm sure I'm not the only stay-at-home mom who has these struggles.  Heck, when I worked full-time, the break-room and company lunches were enough to kill any resolve.

In the end, I think that more important than being perfect, is being able to get back up and keep going when I just want to quit... and yeah... I've been there quite a few times.

So what do I do to keep it real?  To deal with those life stressors?  
  1. I workout 4-6 days a week in my home.
  2. I rely on my "Foodaholics Annonymous" group... (a.k.a... my challenge group :) to help keep me on track.
  3. I try to give myself perspective and be reminded that the 'cross' that I bear is not nearly as hard as many I have seen, and I am truly blessed to be living this life.
What it comes down to is this.  When I focus on living a healthy lifestyle by regulating my diet and working out, I'm a happier mom, a happier wife... and overall just a happier person.  And this whole food addiction thing?  Yes... I imagine it will always be there, lurking in the background... but as long as I remember the word "moderation" and make myself get back up, I figure I'm winning a very important and very personal battle.

And if, in the process, I can inspire someone who has a similar struggle?  Than I can be a little proud of myself for making a difference... because it's not just a personal victory, but one I get to share with someone else.  And it doesn't get much better than that :)