Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Housebound and Stir-Crazy!

One of the challenges we face now that we've moved is transportation. Bethany has to go to school every day - in Scottsdale. She also works - in Scottsdale. This means I spend the majority of the week without a car, as she uses mine. I may get a wee bit stir-crazy on occasion. lol. Today is a highlight of my week, as Wednesdays mean that I get my car back for the afternoon and evening - Yay!!! Let Me OUT!!!!!

I have my 2nd Pilates session today, then it's a dash back home to clean up and get ready to head up to Scottsdale - Bill has bowling, and I have a workout with Stef (RockStar is doing amazing, by the way!!).

This last week & weekend were chaotic and fun-filled. Shi and Jared were here with Bear (their puppy), plus we had Winnie while Joey was in TX. It got a little nuts, but all fun. Sadie has finally acclimated to Winnie, and she adores Bear, so the stress of trying to keep the dogs separated is all but gone. We still have to keep an eye, but for the most part, it's good. There was a distinct challenge when our daughter Ariel came by with her weenie dog - Sadie may have just wanted to play, but she's so BIG and Axle is so tiny - we ended up having to keep them apart. Here's Shi surrounded by 3 loving dogs, lol...

Another challenge we've had is our refrigerator. The fridge part doesn't work, and we've had 4 service calls, spread out over weeks (not cool), trying to get it fixed. They come out, fiddle around then say (as they're running out the door) "give it 48 hours to cool down, then it's good!" Yeah, right. Buggers.

Finally (read: FINALLY) the tech on Monday diagnosed it as DEAD, which means Sears will replace it. Unfortunately, they won't replace it until the 8th of March. Ugh. But... I'm happy I'll have a working fridge. And you can be sure the next time we see a "killer deal" we'll think twice, lol.

With my awesome new kitchen (sans fridge) I've been playing with a lot of recipes. I recently purchased two more cookbooks (a gal can never have too many), and I'm loving them! While I was seriously unimpressed with the Wheat Belly book and cookbook (just too imbalanced nutritionally), I have found Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great by Danielle Walker to be a joy! So many great recipes to play with, and her approach is more user friendly than the doom-n-gloom of the Wheat Belly author. Really liking this book! The 2nd book I got is Giada's Feel Good Food: My Healthy Recipes and Secrets by Giada de Laurentiis. Her approach is very "live life, eat well", and for a foodie like me - she's talking my language. While I'm more of a carnivore than she is, lol, there are tons of great recipes and tips in this book! I'm only halfway through, but really enjoying it, and recommend them both.

All the fun recipe research I've been doing has a dual purpose... we're hosting a baby shower in a couple weeks. Haley is having TWINS! She's a sweetheart of a gal who's an active duty Marine and very close friend of the kids. Shi and I have been compiling recipes to serve, so I'll be testing out several while we finalize our plans long distance. Shiloh won't arrive until late the night before the shower, so quick and easy are the bywords of this event ;-)

So far we've got a ton of blue-themed sweets, then a yummy caprese & couscous salad, a raspberry & balsamic pork & berry salad, and maybe a sirloin & citrus salad. Have to test out that last one first. It's going to be fun :-)  I want the foods to taste fantastic, but also be healthy and nutritious.

Still working on the house... unpacking never ends, lol. Sometime before the shower I'd like to have pictures hung - that always makes it feel more like 'home'. Since we're not ready to do the barn door yet, I came up with an idea to cover the shelves but still be fun. When I told Bill about it he was... leery. Lol. I think it turned out ok, what do you think?

I still have to steam everything out but I like it :-)

Happy Wednesday folks!!!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Oh, The Pain, The Humiliation....

Lol. Had my ass handed to me today.
Quite literally.

As I shared previously, I've found a new gym home at Life Time Fitness in Tempe. During my consult with the amazing Kayla, I agreed to give Pilates a shot, so I signed up for 4 private sessions, plus 2 personal training sessions with her. My goals are these... first to get myself back up into fighting fit shape (the last months have not been friendly to physique, between injury, inflammation, and moving), to add some muscle, and to prep for competition prep. To do these things, I need a trainer with experience and expertise in dealing with my particular challenges - Kayla fits the bill. She's got a solid understanding of inflammation and auto-immune disorders, and the challenges an athlete faces when living with them. I felt comfortable with her, which was also key in my goals.

To be clear, I'm not hiring a personal trainer indefinitely, but simply to have someone I trust and respect who can be on tap when I need some help working around a flare-up or an injury (currently it's the wrist injury and arthritis flare), and who can also help provide direction periodically in my pre-prep. Once I'm ready for actual prep, I'll hire a coach.  [The World's Greatest Trainer & Prep Coach, you might remember, retired from training]. Along with all this, I'm also doing a bunch of testing - basic lipds, metabolism, body fat, food allergies, etc. All of these are tools in the tool chest to help me build my best body - strong, lean, healthy.

So... yesterday was my first Pilates session. One word: OUCH. Lol! I was humbled by how much strength and flexibility I've lost - which I knew going in, but this was all up in my face, lol. She's a great instructor, and was quick to point out my strengths as well as where I need to strengthen. Her encouragement and humor were appreciated. If you've never seen a Pilates Reformer, I've provided a photo here, but let's be honest... it looks like a torture device. And a danger to a klutz like me. ;-)

By the end of my session, my muscles were shaking, I was sweating, and my hamstrings when I stood up were screaming. They actually charlie-horsed - both at the same time. Klutz squared. Lol. The drive home was interesting: Ok, I'm going to step on the brake now, legs, please don't cramp, please don't cramp, please don't cramp. Hahaha. Today, the hammies feel good, and my abdominals are screaming. Wow. Good strong work, and none of my joints (save my right knee and wrist which are injured) hurt more than usual. I'll take that as a victory.

This morning, bright and early - and fasted and thirsty - I went in for my initial blood-work, and assessment. First up, blood pressure. Ha! She took it three ways... sitting, laying down, and standing up. The sitting is your baseline, then it should go down when you lay down, and up when you stand up. Sounds normal, right? Not me! I was reversed! Pressure went up when I laid down, went down when I stood up. I'm sure there's some subconscious lesson there about my calm & active states, lol.

Next up was the blood and body comp. While I knew my weight, knew I am softer than "normal" for me, knew I had some improvements to make, I have to be honest and say that I was a wee bit mortified by my numbers. And humbled. While I'm fully on the better side of the 'normal' categories, I'm out of the athletic range. Boooooo. I've lost muscle, so while my weight has maintained, my bodyfat has increased. Again, booooo. My nutrition is good/bad - good in that my food is clean and nutritious, lol, but my consistency in fueling is not. My supplementation is excellent (thank you, Champion Performance) so no changes there. The gist of it? I got my ass handed to me. And I have no excuse.

I've been in survival/maintain mode and used, simply, my clothing as my guide. It all still fits, except, my jeans have actually gotten smaller. Turns out, this is not a good thing, lol. This was the wake-up/reality-check I needed. I cannot continue to "maintain" and reach my goals. Period. Won't happen. So... Here's the plan:

Early next week, on a non-workout day, I'm doing a cortisol test. Takes all day, then gets run by a lab. This will show me my current range of cortisol levels. Why does this matter? Cortisol is part of our fight or flight drive - when you're in either mode,  your body will store fat instead of burning it - as survival may depend on having those stores to draw from. If my levels are too high, I need to make changes to my lifestyle (particularly sleep) to get it back down in to acceptable ranges. There are more benefits to the testing, but knowledge is power, so if there are changes needed, I can do so.

After that, in three weeks I'll be tested for food allergies. I've had the basic, and been deemed "normal", but when living with an auto-immune disease, normal doesn't cut it. Anything in my diet that can cause inflammation needs to be removed. Around this same time I'll also undergo a full metabolic testing - which will, among other things, identify my fat & carb burning zones. Very cool tech, that. And fun info to help me build my program for competition prep.

In the meantime and throughout, I'm taking my humbled self back in hand and working on rebuilding my cardio endurance, strength, flexibility, and muscle mass. My food needs to (and will) become more consistent - back to the 5-6 meals/day - ahem, full size meals. None of this teensy rabbit nibbling I'm currently doing (seriously bad - like 1 real meal/day then tiny nibbles when it occurs to me). Pfft. Man, I know better. I mean, I KNOW better. Physician heal thyself, yeah? Geeze. Humbling for sure.

So... here we are. Or, haha, here I am. But, I'm not staying here. Somehow I've managed to let my schedule, injuries and disease control me, instead of the other way around. That ends now. I have not previously allowed these things to determine my goals - or prevent reaching them. Why am I now? Hmmm. Things to think about.

So... I'm off to eat, and think. ;-)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Champion Performance Recipe of the Week - Easiest Taco Meat EVER!

If I've said it once, I've said it a gazillion times... no matter how tight your diet, there's no reason to eat bland, flavorless food. No Reason. Period. Here's another super simple, 2-ingredient recipe that will give you the flavor you want, the protein you need, and keep you on track with your goals. This is truly the easiest taco meat EVER. How do you use it? Over a bed of lettuce and/or shredded cabbage. Over spaghetti squash. Over a baked potato. Over taco chips (I like Natural Tostitos Blue Corn Tortilla Chips) ). In a wrap (I like La Tortilla Factory Whole Wheat Low Carb Tortillas ). In a (gasp!) Taco Shell. If you've got some wiggle room in your diet, I've also included a list of add-in's that ROCK!

Easiest Taco Meat EVER
Chelle Stafford
Makes 4 servings

1 lb extra lean ground beef (97% fat free) [can sub ground chicken breast or ultra lean ground turkey]
1 cup salsa of choice
*optional add-in's: 1 can rinsed & drained black beans (no salt added); 1 can sliced black olives, rinsed & drained; Mrs Dash Extra Spicy; Mrs Dash Southwest Chipotle.
*optional toppers: 2 Tbsp per serving fat-free greek yogurt; 1/4 sliced/diced avocado per serving; diced onion

Brown ground meat in skillet over medium-high heat.
When meat is nearly cooked through, add salsa and mix well. Cover and simmer 5 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.

*If you're adding in, toss your extra ingredients in with the salsa for the simmer phase.
TIP: leftovers can be portioned and frozen.

per serving: 199 calories; 24 grams protein; 4 grams carbs; 9 grams fat.
With beans, olives, tomatoes & Mrs Dash: per serving: 334 calories; 30 grams protein; 26 grams carbs; 11 grams fat; 7 grams fiber. Net 19 grams carbs. 

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Still Settling In...

Does anyone else find the task of unpacking a house daunting? Yeah, I'd have been cut from Dauntless. I am officially daunted. ;-) This weekend we transferred all the boxes from the spare bedroom/office into the garage to make room for Shiloh to move back in (remember her hubby is getting deployed?). We also moved all the boxes out of our closet and into the (cringe) living room, as Bill started putting together the built-ins. The good news is we won't have to live out of suitcases for much longer. The bad news is we are still living out of suitcases and now the living room is full of boxes. Ugh. Even Sadie is resigned to continued chaos. Lol.
Oh, the chaos of cardboard!

When will it end?? Lol!

Nope. The built-in's are not crooked, just my picture taking.
In other news... I have officially found my new gym-home. The closest gym is actually Planet Fitness, but I think we all know I wouldn't be welcome there, lol. The next closest is LifeTime Fitness. And it's a freaking city. HUGE! I think I'll be hard-pressed to ever walk in and not be able to find free equipment to use! Holy cow! I've still got my membership at Gold's in Scottsdale, where I workout on Wednesday evenings with Stef, but now that we're settled (mostly) I'm jonesing for my daily gym-time. So, membership achieved, pass in hand, and I have an appointment tomorrow with one of the managers to get a list of trainers who may be suitable for me during specific periods where I need some help. I'm still looking for a coach, and hoping to compete in August. We'll see.

Tomorrow Shiloh and Jared arrive, bringing some of her stuff. They just had some photos done, for their 6 month anniversary and pre deployment. Aren't they a gorgeous couple??

Sadie has finally resigned herself to Winnie, lol. Joey's in Texas on a job, so Winnie stays with us. They've actually both been sleeping on my bed - yes, I do end up holding onto the mattress by my fingernails. The last two days they were even playing! It's been rough, to say the least, with the two of them not getting along. It has been a matter of baby steps, daily, trying to get them to accept each other. Of course, they finally decide they're buddies and want to run and tumble after Winnie tears (ruptured) his knee ligament. Oy! Trying to keep him down is not an easy task. Poor lil' guy. We're trying to avoid surgery for him. We'll see how that goes.

Sadie is doing fantastic! She's reached a healthy weight, and looks great! She's so sweet and loving. I saw another Mastiff owner on FB refer to them as the Velcro Breed, and I had to laugh. It's true! She has to be near me at all times, touching me preferably, lol. A friend showed me this image today, said it made her think of me, and I was cracking up!! Yep! When I do get the rare moment to just sit, this is just about what it looks like! LOL!!

Shiloh got me a sticker for my car and it arrived this week... I can't wait to put it on, but have to (haha) clean off the drool first ;-)
how cool is this????
Mom and Dad are hanging out in Tombstone - they sent us some pics yesterday and it looks like they're having a blast! I'm hoping to get the house (mostly) unpacked and set up before they return :-)

Ok. That's my news, folks. Lol. Good night! ;-)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Settling In To The New House...

It's slow-going, getting unpacked and settled. We had a timeline for when we wanted to be done, projects to come, and all that. Oh well. Lol! I'm anxious to get certain things finished so we can do a full photo shoot, but it'll happen when it happens. The biggest task we have to tackle right now is our closet. Remember that we closed in a bedroom that was connected to the master via the bathroom - we turned that into a walk-in closet, then turned the previous walk-in into our bath tub area (tearing down walls seems to be our specialty, haha), and we tore out the existing shower and created a gorgeous double shower, using glass blocks to cover the window. Short of decorating, the bath is complete, but we have nowhere to unpack our clothing. We're both a bit tired of living out of suitcases. Hopefully this week we'll make the final choices on the closet. Who knew there were so many freaking details? Lol! The room looks so big until you start calculating the fixtures.

The kitchen still needs backsplash and window coverings. I have to find (or hire someone to make) a window seat cushion, then find an appropriate table (that'll be my kichen 'office'). We also still need to make the barn door and get the hardware to hang it. And I have an awesome twist I'm doing with the barn door! Can't wait!!! The only major glitch with the kitchen is the refrigerator. For some reason the fridge part doesn't work. Ugh. We've got service coming out (again) tomorrow. Hopefully they'll either fix it or just replace the thing. Thank goodness we have a secondary fridge in the garage!

One of the projects we had slated to do next was our spare bedroom / office. We'll put in built-ins around the room and a wall-bed. That project has been postponed, and we'll be clearing out the boxes in there. We got word this weekend that my son-in-law is being deployed, so my daughter will be moving back home. I don't know where we're going to store stuff, lol, but we're going to do everything we can to help the kids make this transition as smooth as possible.

Here are some updated pics... as you can see, the unpacking is a work in progress. Even with all the work we've yet to do, we feel so at home here - and so incredibly blessed.
dining room, aka temporary (?) Recipe For Fitness office
From dining room to kitchen - it's so light and bright that the kitchen disappears in photos! LOL!
Library - need bookshelves, lol!
Living room - will eventually have a wall entertainment center, then the fireplace will move to the library.
Master bath

All the way to the right - see those shelves? That's where the barn door will go. 

The dogs are chilling. Winnie (Joey's dog) is staying with us while Joey's in TX... he doesn't shed. Sadie, on the other hand, lol! She's got her pet blanket and takes up that whole couch!

It's a GOOD day... a VERY GOOD day!!!

I love my job. I really, really do. I love helping people reach their goals, transform their lives (and themselves), and smash through barriers. I love it! And I love great tasting food, and showing that you can reach your weight loss goals and still eat amazing meals. ;-) Best job ever. Today - that job is even more spectacular! And I have TWO, count them TWO incredible women with goals reached to tell you about.

First... Melanie. You've been following Melanie's journey, as she has been willing to share it publicly. She's ROCKING it! Though the post-holiday season had some challenges, Mel has kicked challenge-butt! Big time! Here's her latest update...


161.8 a total of .......15# GONEACCOUNTABILITY:  the obligation of an individual to be accountable for their actions

Are you wondering WHY I pointed out this word???  ACCOUNTABILITY....
Because I am accountable for my actions....for what I choose to eat daily...and you called me out on this......Thank you.....It's cold, dark and at 7:00pm all I want to do is sit on the couch put on a good show, drink a cup of coffee and eat a cookie...MY OLD WAYS...NO WAY AM I GONNA GO BACKWARDS.....
So now it's a cup of Decaf Hot Tea and Yogurt....
That's what Recipe for Fitness is all about...SIMPLE ....I am accountable for my healthier lifestyle!!!
Thank you Chelle Stafford and Recipe for Fitness for letting me show others how supportive you are....that a healthy lifestyle can be done with positive results!!!!

Next... Stefanie. Stefanie is a local client, and a serious threat on the competition dance floor. She's beautiful, graceful, and full of energy - and she's got a 'big hairy goal'. Stef is working to lose a large amount of weight, and today she gave the BHG a serious kick in the ass! She has officially lost 100 lbs from her highest weight! Can I get a "WOOOOHOOOO!!!!"?? Stef is now focused on her next goal - To be under 200 lbs.  I have a feeling it won't be long until we're marking that one off the list, too!  If you'd like to follow her blog and her path to healthy weight, check her out here: 

The weight loss journey is not a sprint. It takes time to learn respect for food, exercise, and yourself. It takes time to un-learn self-destructive habits and behaviors. One of the biggest disservices to people wanting to make significant weight changes is shows like The Biggest Loser. It presents a "normal" that isn't true. Now, I said my piece over on Facebook about the latest winner, but in light of my ladies triumphs, I want to say just a bit more. The BL Ranch is not where you go to lose significant weight permanently. It's where you go to compete for money. It is not where you go to make lasting lifestyle changes. It is where you go to compete for money. Period. If you do any research into the show, you'll learn (the information has been available for years) that the BL 'week' is not 7 days. It can be as little as two weeks or as much as 6. The scales are a lie, and a tool for product promotion.  An episode shows Subway providing meals, and the next weigh in shows a 22 lb loss for someone - a connection is made between the product and the results - and both are lies. Watch the show for entertainment value, but please do not watch it for tips to change your life.

The expectations I have for my clients are simple: do the work, eat the food, see the results. There are no shortcuts, and real change takes time. While I do expect them to lose weight (if that's their goal), I expect them to lose it in steady and realistic manner. And I expect them to keep it off. A key aspect to my work is giving my clients the tools to keep the weight off. Forever. It's a whole new lifestyle. A whole new life. 

I am so incredibly proud of Mel & Stef! They're doing the work, eating the food, and seeing the results. The journey is theirs, and they are lighting it up! I hope their success inspires you - shines a bit of light onto your own path. Real change, folks... it's happening! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Champion Performance Recipe of the Week - Chicken, Garlic & Parmesan Artichoke Chips

I've become obsessed with artichoke 'nachos'. I shared last week with you, a wonderful nacho recipe that has been a hit in our home. This week I've been playing with a more savory twist on the recipe, and let me tell you... this version ROCKS. Make it for yourself, or share with others - it's unbelievably flavorful, filling, and training-diet friendly! Really! And though the ingredient list looks like, and the directions a bit more involved than my usual Recipes of the Week, don't be fooled! This comes together fast, and in 20 minutes you will be nomming on your new favorite food! See step-by-step photos below the recipe.

Chicken, Garlic & Parmesan Artichoke Chips
by Chelle Stafford
serves 4 as a snack or 2 as a meal.

1 large artichoke
1/2 lb ground chicken breast
3 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup diced peppers (variety of color or all one; about 3 mini peppers)
1/4 cup diced brown mushrooms (about 4 mushrooms)
1/2 cup white beans (canned, no added salt). I used Great Northern.
1 bunch chives
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan or parmesan/reggiano cheese (do not use powdered)
1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash Italian Medley All Natural Salt Free Seasoning Blend
1/4 tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika

Wash and trim artichoke. Place in steamer bag with 1 Tbsp water and microwave for 3 minutes. Allow to rest 1 minute then check for doneness. Leaves will easily separate when cooked. Cook additional 1 minute if needed. (Alternatively, boil or steam as you wish). Set aside to cool.

Finely chop peppers and mushrooms.
Finely chop garlic.
Finely chop chives, set aside.
Rinse beans, then mash. Add 1/4 tsp smoked paprika*, and mix together. Set aside.

Preheat pan to medium high heat. Spray with cooking oil.
Add chicken and garlic to pan and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp Mrs Dash Italian Blend. Using a spatula, break up pieces as the meat cooks. You want it crumbly, not chunky.
When chicken is nearly done, add peppers and mushrooms and continue cooking until veggies are soft and chicken is white all the way through. (you can add more Mrs Dash Italian Blend at this point if you like a stronger flavor). Remove from heat.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 350.
Remove leaves, discarding any tough ones.
With a spoon, spread about 1/4 tsp of mashed beans on the meaty part of the leaves, then place them on the baking sheet.
Divide the chicken/veggie mixture between the leaves, over the bean mash.
Sprinkle with cheese and chives.
Bake at 350 for 5 minutes.

*NOTE: Spanish Smoked Paprika has a unique flavor unlike traditional paprika.

For 2 serving meal, each serving is: 339 calories, 40 grams protein, 22 grams carbs, 7 grams fat, 8 grams fiber. 14 g net carbs. 
For 4 serving snack, each serving is: 169 calories, 20 grams protein, 11 grams carbs, 3 grams fat, 4 grams fiber. 7 g net carbs.

gather ingredients
cut off stem, trim top, trim leaves (remove thorns)
fully trimmed

chop garlic, trim peppers & mushrooms

trimmed mushrooms & peppers, chopped garlic & chives

finely chop peppers and mushrooms

cook meat & garlic. Add veggies.

cooked mixture

mash beans & add smoked paprika

remove leaves

spread about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp bean mash on each leaf. Lay leaves on parchment covered baking sheet.

divide meat/veggie mixture among the leaves

sprinkle with cheese & chives

bake 5 minutes.


eat ;-)

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