Health and Fitness. You just have to keep working.

It gets coooooold here in Utah over the winter months.  Usually starts in October and feels like it lasts for the rest of forever.  It usually starts to warm up in late April or early May. That means a lot of exercising inside instead of outside.

This year I asked Santa for a bike trainer and I have LOVED riding the bike while I catch up on my DVR shows (when I exercise is usually the only time I have to watch shows).  I generally burn as many calories on the bike as I do when I run, but it doesn’t hurt as much.  I’m a huge fan of watching The Biggest Loser when I work out.

health and fitness--keep working.Most recently I’ve been watching Fit to Fat to Fit.  I read the book Fit2Fat2Fit by Drew Manning a while ago.  Drew is a personal trainer and felt like he wasn’t reaching his heaviest clients.  So he went on a mission to gain over 70 pounds so he could understand what it was like to be fat.  And then he went through the journey of losing the weight.  Crazy brave if you ask me.  And super interesting.

Now the book has been turned into a TV series where several different trainers gain weight and then lose it with someone who has been struggling to lose weight.  Again, crazy brave.


Several months ago I got a Dexa Scan (which is a post for another time).  At the time I felt I was in pretty decent shape though a few pounds had creeped on over the months as I became more lax about the things I was eating (aka, eating whatever the heck I wanted). But the Dexa scan showed otherwise and unfortunately the Dexa Scan doesn’t lie.  My body fat percentage was WAY higher than I’d like it to be.  While still in what is considered the “normal” range, it was much higher than I felt it should be for the amount and intensity of exercise I was doing 5-6 times per week.  My V02 max (the test they use to measure your endurance and “fit” level) was above superior.  But my body composition wasn’t what it should be.  The classic example of skinny/fat.  Even though I was in good “shape” and could do intense cardio activities, I have more fat in my body than I should (to be healthy–this has nothing to do with vanity or what I look like)

It was proof to me that the FOOD we put in our bodies is about 80% of the battle.

So the past several months I’ve been more conscious of what goes IN my body.  Trying to eat REAL food.  I will never, ever be able to give up some things (like pizza) but I have been trending in the right direction when it comes to what I was eating.  But the past month, I’ve been feeling worse.  Headaches, Migraines, fatigue, sore muscles, periodic stomach aches, and occasional lack of appetite.

So when I went down Wednesday with extreme stomach cramps, no appetite, and utter exhaustion, I was incredibly frustrated.  I told my husband “screw the healthy lifestyle if I’m going to feel like crap anyway.  Bring me all the food.”  I was discouraged.  Despite my best efforts of being more conscious of what was going in and really focusing on efficient exercise (high intensity interval training, time-limited cardio–no more than 60 minutes, and more weight training) I wasn’t feeling like I thought I should be feeling.

Then I started the never ending battle of wanting to work hard and just not caring.

But I woke up Thursday, climbed on the bike, turned on Fit to Fat to Fit and was immediately reminded that the journey to good health is just that.  A journey.  A long, HARD journey.  And results take time.  Hard work, conscious eating, and TIME.  A hard reality when I want visible results yesterday.

The only way to get to where we want to get in any aspect of our life, we just have to keep putting in the work.  Keep trying.  Keep working.  Keep doing.  And one day, we’ll get where we want to be.  If nothing else, we’ll be better than we were yesterday if we keep plugging along at our goals one day at a time.  Something I’m having to remind myself of every single day.

All I know is I better have the nicest toned arms at the end of all of this….

Keep at it my friends.  “A year from now, you’ll have wished you started today.”

White Bean Chicken (or Turkey) chili

I never thought I’d be one to have a blog where I post recipes.  But since fixing food for my humans consumes a huge portion of my life, I think good, healthy recipes deserve a space on my blog.  Every once in a while at least.

If you haven’t checked out Mel’s Kitchen Cafe blog, you probably should.  Awesome, almost always easy, and usually not time consuming recipes.  It’s my “go to” recipe site.

And with that, I give you this little gem that has become a part of our winter meal rotation.

White Bean Chicken (or Turkey) Chili

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups cooked, diced chicken (or turkey)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup salsa (I use Pace Chunky Medium)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the remainder of the ingredients, except the mozzarella cheese. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the soup comes to a simmer. Add the mozzarella cheese one handful at a time, stirring to let each addition melt before adding the next. Stir to combine and make sure all the cheese has melted and serve.
It’s good.  Trust me.  And healthy.  Bonus.  I’ve made it with turkey and chicken.  Tastes great either way.  And once I was out of mozzarella cheese, so I ripped up a bunch of string cheese and put that in there.  Took a little longer to melt, but it still worked.  I’m brave in the kitchen like that.

Best spinach protein shake!!

I am not a “juicer”.  And I have never been able to jump on the “green smoothie” bandwagon. Every one of those I have tried have NOT tasted good to me.

But this one.  This one is good.  And I don’t own a Vitamix or a Blendtec (is that what it’s called).  I just use a regular old blender and it works fine.

This is what I drink after a good workout.
It’s an adapted recipe from the book Fit2Fat2Fit (which is a really interesting book by the way).

Protein Spinach Shake

2-3 cups of spinach (I just grab a few handfuls and shove them on the bottom of the blender)
3/4 C almond milk (or you could use regular milk)
1 scoop vanilla whey protein (I get a big bag of this at Costco)
1/2 banana
1 Tbsp peanut butter (I use Skippy natural)
1-2 cups of ice (this makes it cold, obviously, and thicker)

Mix it all up!

Looks nasty.  Tastes gooooood!!!  (Like, good good, not “healthy” good.  Trust me)


Getting Healthy. Part 3. EXERCISE.

To read Part 2 of “Getting Healthy” click here.

The next key for me to getting healthy was exercise.
I’ve been athletic my whole life.  I grew up playing sports with all the neighborhood boys.  Started playing competitive soccer when I was 12.  And played soccer in highschool.  I didn’t start running just for the sake of running until I was 22.  I had never consistently run for exercise until I decided I was going to run a marathon.  Go big or go home.
And then I had four babies.  And only exercised intermittently during and between each pregnancy.
After my fourth baby, I finally felt motivated to lose all the baby weight and get in good shape.
A few factors played into my decision on what type of exercise to do.  The only time I have to exercise right now is when my kids are awake.  A few of my kids don’t sleep well, so getting up early is out of the question.

Running outside with kids in a stroller seems like a sin to me.  Running is my sacred time.  My alone time.  My “I can do this really hard thing called being a mother” pump up time.  Pushing kids in a stroller fetching thrown sippy cups and passing out goldfish just seems wrong.
Running on the treadmill wasn’t an option either for fear something would get thrown at me by a child while running resulting in treadmill burn on my face.
I also wanted something that required no equipment.  Cause if momma’s lifting weights, the kids want to lift weights too.
So I decided to do Insanity.  If you haven’t heard of Insanity, it’s basically interval training.  But it’s 3 minutes of high, intense exercise, and then a 30 second “rest” (you never really get to rest), then another 3 minutes of high, intense exercise. When they say it’s insanity, they aren’t kiddin’.  It’s hard.  Harder than any form of exercise I’ve ever done in my life.  More painful than even the last mile of the marathon I ran.
It hurts.  It’s hard.  It’s intense.  It’s insane.
It got me in the BEST shape of my entire life.  It literally changed the shape of my body.  Gave me muscle in places I’ve never had muscle before.  Toned.  Burned fat.  
The pain was worth it.  Because I have truly never felt better.  Ever.  I’m in better shape and stronger than ever.
That’s how I got healthy and lost weight.  Not running.  The comment I usually get is “you’ve been running a lot haven’t you.”  Nope.  Just did insanity.
It doesn’t have to be insanity.  But I think interval training is amazing for the body. 
Smart exercise.  Not hours and hours of exercise.
Even after I got to the size I felt healthy at, I continued to do insanity.  I did it for about a year.
Then I did Focus T-25 5 days a week for exercise.  Because it’s only 25 minutes.  And I’m just trying to maintain.  Not lose weight. 
And right now I’m doing P90X3 because I want to get toned.  And it’s only 30 minutes.  (And I don’t get paid by Beachbody. I promote their products because THEY WORK).
I run on Saturdays when my husband can watch kids.  Because running is good for my soul.  And I like to listen to music while I run.  (Check out my running playlist here)
Sometimes I just run 4 to 7 miles (depending on how much energy/time I have).  Other times, I do an interval treadmill workout.  You can check that out here.
I never thought I was an exercise to a DVD kind of person.  But I love these.  And the kids have learned mom can’t talk while doing these.  I literally can’t talk.  I’ve nearly puked on several occasions. 
The TYPE of exercise you do will be critical in losing weight.  If you pick the wrong one, you have to exercise for MUCH longer.  It is definitely possible to be efficient when exercising.  You can burn MORE calories in LESS time if you pick the right kind of exercise.
{Updated to add.  You can read my article about using a heart rate monitor so you know exactly how many calories you burn when you exercise}
To read Part 4 of “Getting Healthy.  Additional Tips” click here.
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