Sunday, September 20, 2015

Diet Changes - Customized Paleo? Low Carb, Dairy Free

I just updated the blogging world about my happiness and love. As this blog is Health, Happiness, and Love, it's time for an update on my health.

I started my focus into healthy eating when I was a new mom and hubs was newly diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. We began learning to cook with veggies, meats, and dairy, and cutting down on the carbs. We learned a lot, cut the processed foods, and started eating much better.

Where am I now? My diet went downhill when we started focusing on moving. We gave in to the pressures of keeping up the house and getting things together, and ate lots of quick convenience food. Once we moved to Florida, I was determined to get my health in check. I was working out almost daily and eating very well. All summer, I was sick more often than I was well, and I stopped exercising because of it. I'm determined now to figure it out.

By method of elimination I've decided that dairy is one thing that has been bothering me. I slowly started eliminating it from my diet, and am working to continue doing so. I tried Lactaid tablets, and seem to still be getting sick. I picked up lots of non-dairy foods and plan to cut it entirely from my diet. I'm still getting sick some, but waiting to see if cutting out dairy makes it better. My sister cannot have high fructose corn syrup, so I'm guessing I'll try that next.

Between the diabetes and the dairy issues, I'm looking for some new recipes. My new hunt is low carb, dairy free. I guess that makes it almost paleo, but with some grains and carbs. I plan to take paleo recipes, doctor them up some, and make them work for me and for my family. I had my first success tonight, adapting The Preppy Paleo's Spinach and Meatball Casserole. I'll link to it below, but hopefully next time I make it I'll measure what I use and pass it along here.

The "Mother" of all Updates

Why hello there. Long time, no see.

I've decide to brush off the dust that has settled in the chaos of life and start blogging again. Life is completely different than it was back in 2014, but still absolutely wonderful and I'm still struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

We've moved from Maryland to Florida and are now living just outside of Daytona Beach. It's so neat being about 15 minutes from the beach. We're working on getting used to life down here. We've been here since about 3 months ago. I am working as an outpatient therapist and waiting to do school therapy, though I've been stuck in the office for a while now while they sort out a contract with the schools. Hubs is back in school full time. He's going to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and studying Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

AE is now two years old. She's beautiful and full of life and curiosity. She is always learning new things. We are challenging her to use her words, but she is also in a child care center for the first time ever, so she is picking things up there as well.

AE is no longer an only child either. The main reason I fell out of sync with blogging is that I found out I was pregnant and wasn't ready to share it online. I had trouble keeping up with my workouts and my eating, but couldn't explain it on here without giving it away. Life then became crazy and hectic, so I wasn't able to come back and update.

DT was born in November 2014. He is now 10 months old and is a spunky, inquisitive almost toddler. He was named after both his grandfather and a dear friend of ours. He is learning to stand and trying to walk. He loves eating new foods. He is so bright, so happy, so full of life. His sister both adores him and can't stand him. With him, our family is now complete.

To keep this post from getting crazy long, I'll end my massive life update here. Here's my happiness and love. I'll post again in a minute to update on my health. <3

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fit Tip Tuesday #2: Schedule Your Workouts

As anyone who has been following along for a while knows, I'm on the final weeks of Bikini Body Mommy. It's a 90 day challenge of workouts, which typically amount to 3 days of cardio, 3 days of strength training. As I have about two weeks left, I'm starting to wonder what I'll do once Bikini Body Mommy Ends. How will I keep going? I'm also taking a Zumba class, and there's about a month of a break between this class ending and the next one starting.

Something that I've learned is that I do much better when I have a plan for what I'm going to do for a workout. I'm much more likely to get something in when I say "I'm going to take the dogs on the trail on Saturday," rather than "I'm going to fit in cardio sometime this weekend."

With my challenge and class ending, I need to start finding workouts to plan out ahead of time. I'll be writing them into my planner so that I have a reference to go off of. I think this is a perfect time to pull out my workouts from when I was signed up for personal training, and maybe do some of those. If I have a plan written down, then I know how long it's going to take, and I know how to fit it into my day. There's no putting off my workout to the very last minute, then getting bummed when it's midnight and I haven't worked out.

So make it a plan to work out! Figure out your own schedule and stick to it, or join a challenge! Find what works for you.

Have an idea for what I should try next? Comment and let me know!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Skinny Caesar Salad

So if you read my blog at all, you know that I love getting yummy and healthy food ideas off of others' blogs. Well The Healthy Collective (who is also hosting the Squat Challenge that I'm currently rocking) posted a Skinny Caesar Salad Dressing a few months ago, which I happened to stumble upon recently. Hubby and I have a love for caesar salad (anyone remember me gushing about my $16 salmon caesar salad??). 

So this Skinny Caesar Salad Dressing was SUPER easy!

1/2 cup Skim Milk
1/3 cup Light Mayo
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pressed clove of Garlic (optional)
A few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
And of course Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)

I skipped the parm (added it to the top of my salad afterwards), cut down on the lemon juice because hubby is NOT a fan, and rather than a pressed clove of garlic, I just poured in some of the liquid from my jar of minced garlic.

I combined all of the ingredients in a large bowl and used a whisk to mix it to a smooth consistency. At first I thought it was going to be super runny, but it actually thickened up really well as I mixed. I added a ton of lettuce (I had a salad blend in the fridge, but I guess romaine would be the ideal choice), and tossed the salad to evenly coat the leaves with dressing.

Hubby in the meantime had cooked up some shrimp with some cajun powder, so I split the salad into two large bowls, added shrimp on top, and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. 

Hubby thought it wasn't caesar-y enough for him, but I thought it was excellent (obviously, since I'm posting it here). Next time I'd add more of the lemon juice (as the recipe calls for) and use more salad than I did (I was worried about adding too much for the bit of dressing I had, but there was actually plenty to coat, and some left in the bottom of the bowl).

I put it into my fitbit this morning, and no surprise that it was a healthy dinner. Food amounts listed below are for 1/2 recipe, since hubby and I split it.

I think next time I have a craving for a caesar salad, I will DEFINITELY be making my own. I usually have all of this in my kitchen (except lemons, which I need to start buying regularly).

So there's a yummy, healthy, easy recipe for a quick weeknight dinner (could you ask for any more than that?). Try it out and let me know what you think. Caesar-y enough for you, or no?

Have a happy Friday! 

Side note -- Anyone ever head out to pick up lunch with something in particular in mind, only to come back with something completely different? I got lunch at Panera Bread today, planning on some broccoli soup and a salad. Came back with french onion soup and a Mediterranean veggie sandwich. I blame it on the fact that I was craving a healthy loaded salad, and I figured anything that came in a you-pick-two would be disappointing. Of course I am not at all saying Panera's salad choices are sub par, just that I don't think the half-salads compare at all to getting a full one.

Disclaimer: I do not own that caesar salad photo. I just suck at remembering to take photos before devouring awesome meals. This photo belongs to at

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

W.I.A.W #1 and National Nutrition Month

Dare I try another weekly blog post link-up? I think I dare...

Welcome to W.I.A.W. or What I Ate Wednesday. Ideally, I'll be taking pictures of what I eat and sharing a day in the life of making healthy choices and taking baby steps every Wednesday.

As I totally forgot to take pictures of my food yesterday, I'm tying into National Nutrition Month for my first WIAW and doing a general Make Healthy Choices post.

For National Nutrition Month, is encouraging bloggers to write about what "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right" means to us.

I think some of the most important things I've been learning as I've been focusing on being healthy are that not only can healthy food be incredibly delicious, but also how much better I feel when I hydrate and eat right!

It's also really easy to make a healthy and nutritious meal that TASTES GOOD! You don't have to sacrifice health, taste, or time.

In the vibe of eating better and enjoying healthy food that tastes good, here are my examples for WIAW:

First of all, here's an example of a typical lunch that I bring to work. On the bottom there I have a salad. I have a new love for salad with balsamic vinegar thanks to my New York trip a few weeks ago. This particular salad was a lettuce blend, a bit of bacon, some parmesan cheese, and of course Lavender Balsamic. Simple, healthy (minus the bacon but whatevs), and delicious. I also eat a greek yogurt almost every day mixed in with granola (you can't really see it in the plastic baggie behind the banana), and raspberries. Some days, like this one, the yogurt serves as a mid morning snack, and others it's my lunch. I buy chocolate flavored protein granola, again focusing on health AND taste. Behind the yogurt is a protein shake. Honestly, I'm sick of stocking up on these at Sam's Club, but I tend to rely on them to get me through Zumba. I need to find a way to make one at home that will last all day in my lunch bag. Finally on top is an apple and a banana. I try to bring at least one fruit with me each day.
Sometimes I add candied pecans, pistachios, or flavored almonds to round out the meal.

Of course behind the food in the pic is my water for the work day. I carry about 3 liters of water to work each day, and I've even written times on the bottles to make sure I'm drinking it throughout the day. On Zumba days I bring another 24oz bottle to leave in the car and add to my water consumption.

Healthy dinners can be super easy. I've gotten into a habit lately of doing some kind of seafood on salad with another veggie on the side for dinner (tonight, for example, is flounder with salad and asparagus). This pic is from last week when I was using up the last of the groceries we brought home from the market in NY. I cooked some sausage in red sauce, julienned a few zucchinis to saute, and added in some cooked broccoli rabe. It made a fabulous pasta replacement (though hubby did not agree. He took the meal sans zucchini and added his own protein pasta to the mix). 

And of course it's important to always be mindful of health when eating out. AE and I went on a mommy/daughter lunch date after her flu shot booster. We went to Cafe Rio (my new fave), where I got a pork salad (if you've never been to a Cafe Rio, you HAVE to go and try the barbacoa pork!) without dressing. I only ate enough to get all of the fresh lettuce off of it, and then had it two more times for leftover lunches by heating it up and adding more lettuce. Yum.

Another lesson I've been working on for myself is that not everything has to be full of sugar to be satisfying. If you ever went to Starbucks with me in high school or college, you probably heard me say that I liked the idea of coffee, but really preferred "flavored coffee beverages," aka frappuccinos, macchiatos, etc. Well surprise surprise, I don't drink that anymore. Now it's plain black coffee, decaf if I'm not feeling the caffeine, with two splendas, please and thank you. (I know splenda is now coming under fire as not being healthy, but I follow the mantra of everything in moderation, so I feel fine about continuing to have my two splendas in my coffee).

So readers, the big things I'm teaching myself and trying to pass on are to make healthy choices, take baby steps, and never beat yourself up for not doing your best. This morning I gave in to laziness and ordered a sausage, egg, and cheese asiago bagel with my coffee. After plugging it into my fitbit log, I totally regretted those 650 or so calories, but all I can do is trudge on and continue to make the best choices for the moment. It's not realistic to say I will never eat at McDonalds again, or I will always at well, or I will totally cut out soda. It's more about making the best choice in the moment and moving on.

My take on "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right," is that eating right does not have to be boring. Healthy food does not have to be bland! You can add tons of yummy seasonings and healthify favorite meals by swapping out a few ingredients. I'll be the first to admit that hubby and I occasionally have pasta carbonara for dinner still, but we swap regular pasta for protein pasta, and we strictly make it the Italian way: eggs, bacon, parm, and pasta. We also focus more on portion sizes and don't split a massive pot two ways. Everything is ok in moderation as long as you continue making healthy choices along the way.

Hope you enjoyed my first WIAW as well as my National Nutrition Month blog post. Next week I'll try to have a real WIAW post with a day in the life of food choices. :-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fit Tip Tuesday #1: Do What You LOVE!

Fit Tip Tuesday Button

Like I said in my previous post, I'm starting to link up with Fit Tip Tuesday!

Today's tip: DO WHAT YOU LOVE!

While I am going to swing this obviously toward fitness, it is actually a tip that applies to ANYTHING you do in life. You will never be happy with what steps you take and what activities you choose to participate in if you do not love them.

For instance, I LOVE Zumba. I have adored it ever since my first Zumba class. Right now I'm taking a 2 day a week Zumba class, and plan to up it to 3 days a week this Spring/Summer. Also, the more I work on Strength Training, the more I fall in love with it too. 

A few weeks ago, I posted on here that I was going to do "Run This Year" and start tracking my running to accumulate to a goal over the year. Problem: I hate running. So anyone who knows me probably read that post and went "yea right, no way is she doing this." As you may or may not have predicted, I totally forgot all about that goal until now, and am gracefully giving it up.

On that same thought, it is OKAY to give up something that you don't love. If you try something new and you just aren't into it, even though you really thought you would be, that's OK! The most important thing is to find what works for YOU! We are all different, and that's why there are always a ton of ways to do anything. Fitness is SO important, and it's something you will be striving for the rest of your life. Do you want to rope yourself into something you hate or make it fun?

It doesn't just apply to working out. It applies to everything. Eat what you like, do what you like, have fun with what you do. 

As for me: I'm going to keep up with my Zumba and my weights, pick up FUN races occasionally, and continue to make healthy choices that don't bring me down. You'll never stick to anything you hate.

Now go, be healthy, and make choices that you love! Go check out The Skinny On Health and all of my other fellow bloggers who are joining in on Fit Tip Tuesday!

Update, New Changes, Squat Challenge!

Oh it makes me so sad to see that I haven't posted since February.
I feel bad that I haven't had time to post, but on the other hand it feels good to NEVER open my laptop at home (except the other day when hubby and I had bills to pay). I need to find a balance where I can write regularly. Hopefully that balance will come soon. In the meantime, sporadic updates it is, and maybe my newest projects will help me post regularly.

Remember a few weeks ago when I posted about Run This Year? Yea, well it's mid-March and I think I'm just going to chalk that up for an epic fail. That's the thing when trying something new: you try out a million things and find a handful that work for you. Run This Year: Yea, not it.
So on to my new projects:

Fit Tip Tuesday Button

First up, I'm going to start linking up with The Skinny on Health for Fit Tip Tuesday. Stay tuned: Fit Tip Tuesday post to follow this massive catch up. ;-)

Second project: I'm starting a Squat Challenge with The Healthy Collective. It's a 30 day challenge that starts TODAY! My wonderful little sister is joining me, and anyone else who wants to tag along, please do so. 

Today is day 1, so 50 squats. No biggie. Totally not looking forward to the latter half of these 30 days though. Good thing I <3 Squats.

I'm reworking my schedule some and trying to figure out how to build time for blogging, because I love catching up on here and using my own blog to keep myself motivated (and I'm like 350ish blog posts behind on Bloglovin', so I need to find time to catch up there too). I started double-booking things and forgetting about things I had scheduled, so I finally bought myself a paper planner. I haven't had one of these since before AE! Maybe I can figure out a fun way to at least find time to blog once a week, if not more.

And final thoughts: Thinking about totally pulling back or ridding myself of Facebook. Anyone done that before? Thoughts? I think I need to take some time in the coming week or so and take a good look at my settings. Maybe I can figure out how to cut back and make myself happy without losing good contacts along the way...

Start Small Pic:
Fit Tip Tuesday:
Squat Challenge:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Getting Back on Track

Ok so I had a fabulous weekend visiting family in New York. It was a fabulous weekend full of visiting, chatting, and of course eating lots of New York bagels. We went out to eat a few times, and I tried to make generally healthy choices (well, except for pigging out at the pizzeria on our last afternoon there, but again, who passes up New York pizza? A crazy person, that's who). I had some fabulous orange roughy with a tomato/breadcrumb topping, and discovered a new (unsurprising) love for broccoli rabe. I also have a newly discovered love for balsamic vinegar on my salads (yum).

With all of the visiting and everything, I totally did not work out. I did my Friday morning workout, skipped Saturday cardio and Monday strength training. I did go to Zumba last night (because: Zumba), and then because I am totally EXHAUSTED from the busy weekend (and the INSANE traffic both ways), I totally slept through both my alarm and my fussing baby until 6am. What does that mean? No morning work out. Boo.

So in between mixed workouts, making it through the last of my New York bagels (one left on the counter which will likely be breakfast tomorrow) and yummy expensive candies (finished those up today), and being generally exhausted, it's time to get myself back on track. It's convenient that my last post was about making a habit. I'm in the midst of a "Fight Thru," and have to work hard at it. Hubby and I discussed  my missed workout this morning, and agreed that it's a priority for me to get it done tonight. I'm going to make up Monday's workout on Saturday morning, and hit the weekend cardio at some point. I'm at day 51, dammit, I  will finish this challenge!

Tonight's dinner plan: find a healthy recipe for the 2 lbs of cod that we bought fresh at a market in NY, along with some pre-cooked broccoli rabe from the same market, and probably a salad with chipotle ranch for the hubby and lavender balsamic with evoo for myself. (Points if you know what evoo stands for!)

I'm trying to find some interesting 5Ks to sign up for as well. I have my sights set on one in July, but I'd like a couple along the way too. I also need to start thinking about what to pick up when BBM ends in a little over a month.

And the last note for today: I am officially in love with candied pecans. I've been starting to look at recipes, but if you know of any good ones, please share.

Image credits: and

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

BBM 45 Day Update and Making a Habit

BBM Update

So I am 45 days into Bikini Body Mommy, which puts me officially at the half way point. I did my weigh in this morning and I have lost 7 lbs (I was one pound lower on Sunday, so maybe I've really lost close to 8 considering fluctuations?). I'll do my half way pics tonight and I can't wait to see the differences.

I feel a little bit different in how my clothes fit. My work pants are tight as always, but maybe a little bit less? It's my jeans, however, where I feel a difference. I know I'm not ready for a smaller size yet, but I felt like I was pulling my jeans up all weekend. How is that for motivation to keep going? Also, I noticed my watch is super loose. I think it fit fairly well when I got it in December, but yesterday I actually went so far as to take a link off of it, because it was slipping around my wrist (it's a bracelet/watch, so it's supposed to be a little loose). It still slides back and forth pretty well, so I think even without a link it's still a little bit looser than it was when I bought it.

Other than clothing, we also had the Fit Test again today, which was the workout we did on Day 1 and Day 15. Today I did it with no modifications, which felt amazing. The only counts that weren't higher from the last two times were the ones where I removed mods, which is to be expected. Also, I feel better in Zumba, and I feel like I'm actually making it through really well. She pulled out the original song set from January last night and I felt like I was really able to make it through... until the second to last song, haha, but I pulled through in the end. :-)

I'm still doing fairly well with my eating. I am realizing that I am probably not eating enough, so I need to find healthy ways to up my calorie intake. It's a nice problem to have, though. I'm choosing healthy options when going out, and even able to "splurge" at a restaurant and still maintain my goals! Hubby and I went out last weekend for Valentines Day, and I figured I'd overdo it on the calories. We went out to Brewer's Alley in Frederick, which is one of my favorite restaurants. We shared some oysters on the half shell for an appetizer, which was super yummy (and healthy) as always, and then for the actual meal, I really wanted salmon, but didn't feel like having any of the sides that came with it. Instead, I ordered a caesar salad and had a salmon fillet on top, and it was like the best salad ever. We even split a brownie sundae for dessert, plus I had 2 glasses of wine, and I still was in a good range for calories when I got around to updating FitBit!

Making a Habit

When I got to day 30, a close friend of mine told me that it takes 21 days to make a habit, so I was already in really good shape to maintain the workout routine. Hearing that got my curious, because I still felt like I could fall off the wagon at any time. I did some research, and came across several articles.

There was a study done in the UK in 2009 that says that it takes on average SIXTY-SIX days to make a habit stick. That could be something as simple as eating fruit every day, walking for 15 minutes, etc. The blog post that referenced the article, The Happiness Project, posted on Psychology Today, states that there's variation in that number. Some people form a habit in more time or less time.

I also found a post on Forbes from last April that goes further into the "developing a habit" concept. This post breaks it down into 3 steps, The Honeymoon, The Fight Thru, and Second Nature. The author says that at first, the habit is easy. The Honeymoon phase is where you may take on too much and you feel like there's no problem in creating this new habit. The Fight Thru is the next step, where you start to experience set backs and lack of motivation. This is the important time to remember why you are making the change and keep overcoming the obstacles. The Fight Thru may continue to happen over and over. The author states that you will likely hit 2-3 fight thru phases before going on to the third phase, and you may even go back to phase 2 from phase 3, and have to get through it again before going back to maintenance. The third phase, Second Nature, is where the habit has really taken shape. It's easy to maintain it because it's what you always do. You'll hit setbacks, go back through a few Fight Thru's, and make it back to maintaining it.

The research snob in me loves verifying the claims that turn into fact from being passed from one person to another. This "21 day habit" is probably one that messes lots of people up, because they expect it to be easy after 3 weeks, and when it's not, it's probably disappointing. I know with myself, that I have to constantly push myself, or I will completely fall off the wagon. Last week, for example, we had a big snow storm. Zumba was cancelled on Thursday, and I had injured my calf earlier in the week. I decided to take the day off and not do cardio at home. Friday I did my BBM workout, and then Saturday I lost motivation again for cardio. After taking two days off last week, it was totally tempting to not do Monday's workout. It can happen at any time in the process to hit an obstacle and be ready to call it quits. What makes the difference is when you tell yourself that is NOT okay, and keep going. Don't take minor setbacks as the end of the road, just find a way to push through!

Anyone else working to change a habit? Share! Comment! :-)

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Run This Year

So on one of the blogs I follow, Fitness, Health, and Happiness, there was a reference to "Run This Year 2014." The concept is that you run 2014 miles in 2014. Am I going to do that? Hell no.
However, there is an option to add your own challenge. As I'm trying to get myself into running, I decided I would log 100 miles in 2014. Notice, I said "log" and not "run." I'm going to let myself run/walk like I have been, because I don't want to set a goal that's too lofty starting out. I want to motivate myself to keep going and following along, and I want to keep these healthy habits.

Run This Year 2014 is free to join, and you just go to their page to keep logging miles. They will send out periodic mileage reports as well as have some giveaways and such during the year. I think with the custom challenge, anyone and everyone should join and at least try to do something. I'll be your accountability partner! Keep following along on here, and I'll make a point to post the "Run This Year" banner and link to the blog every time I log miles. As of right now, I'm only logging what I have in my RunKeeper app, which is 3.92 miles. If you decide to sign up, please comment and let me know! Follow along with me and we'll keep each other updated on our miles. Even if you decide to just do a half mile a week, it's great to step out of your comfort zone and set a goal!