Would you like to see something not Challenge-friendly at all?
Yep, that's a rainbow cake. Yep, it's super cool looking. Yep, it's definitely not healthy. But, oh so good. And I actually made that. Which is impressive because I am a TERRIBLE baker. However, when your nephew asks you to make him a cool cake for his 6th birthday and you suddenly realize he won't be five forever and tomorrow he will probably start shaving and getting married, you simply can't say no. That kid could ask me to build a bridge to Europe and I would somehow manage. (Seriously though, why has nobody done this yet - it would be a lot more convenient).
Yes, she deserves Best Cousin of the Year Award.
And all that work? Definitely worth it.
Besides complaining about baked goods - I wanted to touch briefly on our efforts to stay compliant while around friends or family. In some cases, others can influence us positively and encourage us to do even better than we have been doing already. Sometimes, some people - and I'm not naming names (***cough six year old nephew that demands you also eat delicious butter and sugar filled cake cough***) , can encourage you to cheat a bit more than you'd like to.
Do you think anyone could tell I was new?
Happy Friday, Challengers!
Whew! Did anyone else go a little overboard for their cheat meal? I am definitely guilty. I had my first experience at Daniel's Broiler yesterday, and judging by how much I ate, it should probably be my last experience as well.
I walked into the restaurant looking like this:
And walked out looking like this:
Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating. But I sure felt like that. You know what, though? It was all WORTH it. My Valentine is a pretty cool guy. Plus, he ate a steak that was 16 ounces more than mine. So I immediately felt better about myself. Especially when he finished and then picked up the bone and started gnawing on it.
Even though the cheat was definitely worth it, I was definitely looking for a cleanse of sorts to even out the indulgences. The thing I find that works best for me is having a meal replacement shake for breakfast and lunch, followed by a light snack in the afternoon and a challenge-friendly dinner. I have a few recipes for shakes I'd like to share with you. Feel free to comment with some of your favorites as well!
And to finish off today's post, here's one of our Challenge members, Joff, with someone you may have seen on this blog a time or two!
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Okay so this is an URGENT message! Drop what you’re doing right now! I mean RIGHT. NOW. Are you at the grocery store? Drop that head of lettuce! Are you doing laundry? Drop those tighty-whities! Are you juggling while riding a unicycle? Don’t drop that – because THAT is impressive.
Oh, you say you’re at work and can’t possible leave? Wrong! Element 5 Casey to the rescue: a handy-dandy, very official note for your boss. I even included lines so you can personalize it and make it extra convincing. Just print it out, fill it in, wait until your boss goes to the restroom, throw it on her/his desk and run out of the office like a madman! **Please note: You will be unable to blame me in the event that you are, rightfully so, fired.
ANYWAY, why should you do all that? So you can go home and make THIS:
Yep, a quiche with a MEAT crust. I should warn that this is NOT Vegetarian-friendly meal. Sorry, my lovely plant lovers! I should also warn that portion control is important with this meal – but easily doable. Just slice yourself a reasonable amount and supplement your plate with some veggies to fill you up!
Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for this recipe. It is another genius concoction from my favorite Paleo Blog, PaleOMG.
Here’s my breakdown summary (because there should be a summary for EVERYTHING in life), complete with pictures of the dogs (are you sick of them, yet?) and Greg. If you’re not sick of him he’s available to rent for a few hours or several weeks. For free. (Just kidding, Greg. Kind of.)
By "arrange meat into crust in a pie-dish" I should probably say "force somebody else to arrange meat into crust in a pie-dish. It's not my fault - I just hate touching uncooked meat. Plus, Greg needs to earn his keep somehow.
This is where you add 2 cups of spinach but I forgot to document it. Mostly because I had a piranha trying to attack my spinach as I added it to the pan.
Just a tip - throw in more than 2 cups of spinach if you like it! Two is plenty but I threw in 4 or 5 since spinach reduces quite a bit. When everything is cooked completely, remove from heat.
And that, my lovely fellow Challenge pals, is how to make a yummy, MEAT-tastic, Challenge-friendly meal. I hope you'll give it a try. My apologies if you're not a huge meat fan - I will definitely write a post tomorrow about non-meat things so you don't miss out!
Anyone else find some great recipes? I would LOVE to hear about it, try some, see some pictures, try some, get the recipe, or even try some.
Happy Tuesday everyone!
Good afternoon, challengers! I hope everyone's week is off to a great start! Here's a few of my favorite Challenge-friendly eats from the past few days...
Oh, you mean Onion Rings from Applebee's AREN'T Challenge friendly? Whoops. Alright, alright, maybe they were just for a cheat meal. Onion rings are my FAVORITE food....besides sushi, ice cream, macaroni and cheese...okay I like all food. Anyway, I took advantage of my cheat meal and had 4 onion rings (or 12, I don't know, my memory is foggy) and a small glass of wine. Didn't you know the cool thing to do is go to Applebee's at 4pm on a Thursday? (Seriously, though, they have a great Happy Hour and if you ask nicely enough they give you a coloring book).
Besides all of that yummy food, I wanted to talk quickly about something I've noticed a few challenge members have become frustrated with: the number on the scale. Yep, the dreaded number. For me, that number has always controlled my happiness - and I hate that it has that power. Here are two scenarios:
Scenario One: The number on the scale is higher than usual: My mood is immediately shot down. I must be doing everything wrong, I must be not pushing it hard enough during my workouts, I must not be as dedicated as everyone else, and I will just never see the number I want to. My clothes instantly feel tighter (even if they felt loose when I put them on), my hair looks bad, my car needs to be washed, it starts raining when I step outside, and every driver on the road is determined to cut me off. Even my dog looks at me like this:
Scenario Two: The number on the scale is lower than usual: My mood is immediately elevated! Everything is wonderful! My clothes are extremely loose and - is that a six pack I see? I've been kicking ass in my workouts and I am extremely determined! MY hair looks great, my car probably still needs to be washed, it is probably still raining (thanks, Seattle) but everything feels GLORIOUS! What a great start to the day!
I know, I tend to exaggerate. The main point here is that that silly number immediately and so easily affects my mood and my outlook on my progress. My simple solution: I stopped weighing myself. Now, I know we are on a challenge and need to track our progress, but I choose to limit my weigh-ins. I also choose to weigh myself on days where I know I've had a pretty solid few days of eating extremely compliant and keeping up with my workouts.
While I do agree it is necessary to track our progress and weight is definitely a way to do that, I know that seeing a number I don't want to will likely hurt my motivation instead of help it. I try, instead, to pay close attention the way clothes are fitting and to how I look in the mirror. Taking pictures also helps a lot - as long as you're sure to delete them off your phone before your 4-year-old nephew decides he's going to scroll through your entire photo gallery and then ask why you were wearing a bathing suit in your kitchen in February. All jokes aside, pictures can be very helpful in examining success - so get your inner Victoria's Secret Angel on and take a few different angles once a week. Examine them after a few weeks and I guarantee you will notice changes.
Well - I'm off to go ice myself in a bath for 3 hours after today's workout. Rommel, I hate you today, but I know in a few weeks when I'm feeling even better than I already do, I'll love you for it! Really, you have been great during this challenge and are a huge reason for my motivation - so thank you!! I would also like a raise.
Happy Wednesday everyone! Hope you aren't too sore from yesterday or Monday's workout! I know I'm feeling those RDL's!! (Rommel, you are EVIL! But at least you're an evil genius.) How is everyone else feeling? Besides the soreness, I do feel I'm getting stronger with every workout!
In other news, can anyone tell me how it is possibly ONLY Wednesday?
It's okay, though, Friday is coming fast and the challenge is definitely keeping me motivated. I'm feeling great (despite a not-so-fun cold) and looking forward to feeling even better. I will admit though, there was something that happened that made me a little more confident in myself, and I'd like to share it with you all.
I assume by now most of us have had our body fat composition tests done by Rommel. If not, I highly recommend doing it. I actually did NOT feel this way before last Friday. I dreaded the test like I dread doing pull-ups and whenever Rommel reminded me, I found any reason not to do it. Here's how the interactions went:
By time Friday rolled around, I knew I had pretty much run out of excuses. It was time to face the music. Luckily, I consider Rommel not just a boss but a good friend as well, so I felt comfortable and was even able to laugh during the test. It took all of 5 minutes and when it was time to look at the results I had to slowly peek at the computer screen.
Rommel: Okay, your results are ready.
Casey: OH MY GOD THEY'RE AWFUL AREN'T THEY?
Rommel: No, actually they're -
Casey: SEE I TOLD YOU! I KNEW IT! AWFUL!
Rommel: ..they're actually very good!
Casey: Impossible. You have the wrong person. Re-do?
Rommel: You are ridiculous. Look at the chart.
Casey: All I see are lines and lots of colors! Yellow!! Yellow must mean bad!
Rommel: I'm going to lock you in the storage closet. RELAX!
(Note: Okay, he didn't really threaten to lock me in a closet, but I think he may have considered it)
Long story short, my actual results were far different than the ones I had envisioned. I thought my percentage would be much higher than it was, and I was truly surprised at the number I got. If you had asked me, I had a bunch of fat I would easily part with. According to the test, I did not have any "excess" or "unhealthy" fat.
This really got me thinking. So often we are caught up in how we look in a bathing suit, what size pants we wear, or how much "bigger" we are compared to others, that we hardly have any time to recognize the positive things about our body. I was so caught up into fitting into an old pair of jeans, and getting frustrated when I couldn't, that I completely neglected the fact that my body had already made positive improvements since I began my new routine. My body had gone from doing little exercise and being treated poorly, to doing strenuous exercise on a daily basis and being treated completely differently. And here I was - still thinking so negatively about my healthy body, just because it didn't weight ten pounds less or have a six pack.
To say the test gave me a new outlook is an understatement. This challenge is not just about eating better, losing weight, and gaining muscle so that we look even more awesome than we do now (although, let's not lie, it's definitely a plus) - it's about treating our bodies the way they deserve to be treated. It's not about changing our habits for two months to reach an ideal weight; it's about making permanent and lasting changes that will benefit our bodies and minds for good.
I think it's time to start giving our bodies a little credit. After all, our mindset is what motivates us during exercise, but our body is what carries us - and that in itself is a blessing. With that being said, here's a Challenge-Friendly Cookie recipe to reward our BEAUTIFUL, hard-working bodies after a workout at Element 5. Enjoy!
Challenge-Friendly Cookies (Post-Workout)
3 Ripe Bananas, mashed
2 cups oats
1/4 cup almond or coconut milk
1 tbsp honey
1/3 cup coconut butter or regular butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, cranberries, coconut, whatever you please!
1 tsp vanilla
1) Pre-heat oven to *325 degrees.
2) Mix all ingredients and let sit for 5 - 10 minutes so oats can soak up milk.
3) Bake for 25 min or more until firm but chewy
4) Enjoy post-workout!
Here is where I got the original recipe & slightly adapted.
I hope you guys enjoyed this post! Please feel free to share about your body mindset or perhaps just a positive thought you've had during the challenge! I'd love to hear it!
Hey Challengers! How was your weekend? More importantly, how was your cheat meal?! Tell me ALL about it. Seriously, please do, we can all fondly reminisce together.
I wanted to start today's post with a quick word about why I'm doing this challenge. So here it goes:
We all have reasons for being on this challenge and wanting to drop some unwanted pounds. What's my reason? ITALY. Yes, Italy. You see, I lived there for two years - one as a student, another as a tour guide for college students. Sounds terrible, huh?
Those two years were undoubtedly some of the best in my life. I explored new places, made a ton of new friends, met the love of my life (insert eye roll here), and truly found myself. Unfortunately, I also found about 15 pounds of unwanted weight, thanks to pizza, pasta, gelato, and alcohol. After my time in Italy, I was definitely satisfied with my life, but NOT with my body. It was time for a change.
As soon as I returned to the states, I began circuit training and cut out the majority of gluten and dairy in my diet. I ate mostly natural, unprocessed foods and limited the amount of sugar I took in. Of course, the weight did not fall off immediately, but I saw small achievements every week. This alone kept me going.
In September 2012, I moved to Washington state with my boyfriend, Greg. The very day I arrived, I jumped out of the car, got changed, and headed to my interview at Element 5 Fitness. I suppose we all can guess how that interview went.
Working at Element 5 has not only given me a second family, but it has also undoubtedly kept me on track (I mean, who else gets to work out with THE Willie Woods III as a part of their normal work day?!). Unfortunately, sometimes doing the paperwork takes precedence over doing an actual workout. The dreariness of winter and the hectic workload of the holidays gave me an immediate excuse to head home right after finishing work, instead of squeezing in a quick sweat session.
That's why, when Make 2013 Your Year came along, it was just the motivation I needed. I'm sure a few of you can relate! I dove head-first into the challenge and I'm so thankful for the fresh breath of air it has given me. I'm happy to be doing this challenge with so many wonderful and motivated people!
Now, on to some delicious Challenge-friendly recipes.
Sundays have become "Food Prep" day for me. I find meal planning is an excellent way to stay on the challenge plan, as well as stick to my budget. I write down all the ingredients needed and head to the store, determined to walk past the bakery section. I stock up on zucchini, spinach, carrots, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli - you name it. I chop 'em all up when I get home and I'm set for the week. When Sunday evening rolled around, I used some of the veggies for one of my favorite Precision Nutrition side dishes. Here's the recipe:
Sesame Veggies with Feta (Anytime Meal)
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli or mixed veggies
1/2 cup low-fat Feta cheese
1/4 cup raisins or cranberries
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp honey
* salt and pepper to taste
Steam vegetables for 4-5 minutes or until desired tenderness. Remove from pot and transfer to a mixing bowl. Combine all ingredients with the hot vegetables and toss together until combined. Serves 1 large portion (442 cal) or 2 small portions (221 cal).
We were in the mood for something Italian, and we knew pasta was not going to be an option, so we settled for some Sirloin Meatballs instead. I served them with a sauce we simmered for a few hours (pretty simple, garlic, a can of tomato sauce, and a small can of tomato paste).
Sirloin Meatballs (Anytime Meal)
1lb 7 oz Ground Sirloin or Lean Turkey
1/2 tsp Pepper
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
1tbsp Coconut oil or butter
* I would also recommend adding onion, garlic, or chopped pepper if you like them!
Directions: Season beef with salt and pepper and form into 1 1/2 inch balls. Preheat a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Saute the meatballs in batches until browned then set aside. Spray pan with oil if needed between batches.
During all this cooking my dog was NOT happy that he wasn't getting to eat any of the food he was smelling. Although, it might be time to start him on his own diet soon!
It may not have been a typical Italian meal - but it was good! I hope you guys will give one or both recipes a try!
That's all for today - my workout is calling! So here's the question I'll leave you with - what made YOU start this challenge? Sounds off in the comments section!
Have a great day!
Anyone else feel like this yet?
I laughed out loud when I saw this because, well, I definitely have that mentality sometimes. For example, when I avoid carbs for dinner, skip my usual glass (or two) of wine, and have one piece of chocolate (instead of six), I wake up the next morning and discover, GASP, my pants aren't falling off from being too big yet? Here's how I look...
All kidding aside, sometimes our expectations are slightly unrealistic. The truth is, most people do not typically shed weight in a matter of hours, days, or even weeks. For some of us, losing weight is a very difficult process - both physically and mentally. I think if we gave all of ourselves a little more credit and a little more time, we'd be so much more successful in our journey. Easier said than done, I know. The great thing about this challenge? We have a built-in community of people who can remind us that the lower number on the scale or the loose jeans WILL come, just not overnight. If we stay committed to this challenge, we will all see those results we so greatly desire.
With that being said - here's last night's dinner. It's super easy, super delicious, and completely challenge-approved (if you are following the basic nutrition plan, if you are on Chef Kirsten's plan, I believe you can have this once your initial phase is over).
Healthy Shepherd's Pie
I'm not exactly sure how the Irish would feel about this one, but I thought it was pretty awesome! If you read yesterday's post you'll see I made Precision Nutrition's Coconut Cauliflower Mash. There was a TON left over, so instead of wasting it or eating the same thing over and over, I mixed it up by making a mock-version of Shepherd's Pie.
I wish I had an elaborate recipe to give you, but I simply sauteed some onions, added frozen peas and carrots, and browned some lean ground beef. I seasoned everything with garlic powder, some chili powder, salt, and pepper. I spread the cauliflower leftovers in a baking dish and topped it with the meat and veggies. I let it bake at 350* for about 30 minutes and it was all done. It's a very simple recipe and it would only take a bit longer if you have to prepare the cauliflower mash ahead of time (this might take 10 - 15 minutes). If you're looking for a more detailed recipe, check this one out.
The best part of this recipe? LEFTOVERS. LOTS AND LOTS OF LEFTOVERS.
I hope you guys are doing well and staying motivated! I hear so many of you speaking so positively in the gym and on our Facebook group and it is truly wonderful to hear! Our community will definitely improve our outlook on this challenge and every milestone we make as individuals is a milestone for the entire group!
So, what did you guys have for dinner last night?
Good afternoon Challengers! How is everyone doing? If you're anything like my dogs, you wish it was Saturday already:
Anyway, besides showing you how lazy my dogs are, I thought I would show you what I ate for dinner yesterday to maybe give you a better idea of what a typical challenge meal might look like.
Let's be honest, starting a new diet is NOT easy. Especially when you've likely indulged in some delicious goodies over the holidays. And by "some", I really mean eating your weight in your favorite Christmas cookies. Or maybe that was just me ;)
Regardless, the holidays are over and it's time for us to get back on track and renew our commitment to fitness and health. The crazy part? It might not be so bad. With the wonderful support from the Element 5 community, the awesome recipes available to you via Chef Kirsten or Precision Nutrition, and of course, Rommel's fountain of knowledge, I think we might just have a great time during this challenge!
Yesterday I had a pretty good day in terms of eating! Here's a breakdown of my day:
BREAKFAST: 2-egg Omelet with chopped zucchini, spinach, and red peppers.
LUNCH: Spinach salad with mixed veggies and grilled chicken
SNACK: Greek yogurt with 1/2 small apple, chopped (this was post workout).
Then came dinner - my favorite! I browsed through the Precision Nutrition recipes and the following menu caught my eye: Sirloin Burgers paired with Cauliflower Coconut Mash. The best part about this meal is that you can eat it at anytime - no matter if you were able to workout that day or not. Plus, it's delicious! Even if you're not a huge fan of cauliflower, I highly recommend giving it a try. Many clients have told us even their kids love this (or a similar) recipe! Here are the recipes:
Sirloin Burger (Anytime Meal)
Coconut Cauliflower Mash (Anytime Meal)
I think the best part was my workout at Element 5 Fitness this afternoon. With each dumbbell press and torturous RDL, I got more confident in knowing I was doing something great for myself. Even if Drew and Rommel were nearby lifting a million times more than me, I was content in pushing myself to my own limit, and enjoying the (slight smelly) company. Just kidding, Drew, you don't smell THAT bad.
Overall, a pretty successful day! Although, I'm not going to lie, I would KILL for a glass of wine or some ice cream. Luckily, the support I see from the group and the inspiration from Rommel's words of wisdom has me seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
I'll be checking in again soon! Please sound off in the comments section - let's get some discussion going! What was your hardest part about today? What was your favorite part?