Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What I Eat for Lunch

When you work in an office with access to a microwave and fridge, you really have no excuse for eating unhealthy. To help give you some ideas on how to take your healthy habits to the kitchen — your company kitchen, that is, I've recorded what I ate for lunch last week.

By no means, do I eat the same thing everyday. Actually, it's rare that I eat the same thing two weeks in a row! One of the best ways to ensure you bring a healthy lunch to work is that you make it at home. If you're making healthy dinners, then it's super simple to make a little extra and have left-overs.

I tend to go ahead and pack my lunch for the next day while I'm cooking dinner. "Left-overs for Lunch" just make me happy. If for some reason, I don't bring left-overs, I usually keep a few staples that are just as satisfactory.

These are some things I normally keep on hand with which I pack my lunches:
  • Deli turkey or ham
  • Corn tortillas
  • Fresh fruit (what's in season)
  • Sugar-free yogurt (both greek and regular)
  • Fat-free cottage cheese
  • Salad
  • Organic rice cakes
  • Fresh veggies and hummus
  • Hard-boiled eggs
On Monday, I mixed left-over brown rice with a black bean relish I made over the weekend and topped it over a salad. This fiesta salad also had sliced avocados, feta cheese and a some low-fat dressing. Combining the rice and beans makes a complete protein, so there's really no need for a meat, unless you just really want some. If you do, I'd suggest, adding some lean chicken breast or extra-lean ground turkey or beef.

I paired this salad with a greek yogurt with blueberries on the bottom and green tea.

I enjoyed left-over spaghetti squash, adorned with homemade marinara sauce and extra-lean ground turkey on Tuesday. Many of you have probably seen this simple recipe for a spaghetti alternative.

Since my husband doesn't like tomato sauce, I usually have enough left over to last me a few days. The spaghetti includes the squash, tomato sauce, bell peppers and extra-lean ground turkey. It's a good helping of veggies — that's for sure.

A "cutie" and a greek yogurt make this lunch complete.

On Wednesday, I got to eat something rather unique for me. I'd never made enchiladas before, but I always envy the people who order them at Mexican restaurants. So, I thought I'd try to make them the healthy way at home.

The night before, I made spinach enchiladas. Using corn tortillas (at only 110 calories for 2), sauteed spinach, onion and garlic, a can of enchilada sauce (mostly just seasoned tomato sauce), and a mixture of fat-free and low-fat grated cheese, I'd call this experiment a huge success.

I paired a couple of left-over spinach enchiladas with a mixed green salad topped with fat-free feta cheese, walnuts, blackberries*, and fat-free raspberry vinaigrette.

*Blackberries are in season right now. I've seen them on sale multiple places for only $1/carton.

Thursday morning I ate some of my protein pancakes for breakfast, so I wanted to lay low on the carbs at lunch. I also decided to include some of my staple items.

I made a big thing of tuna salad last weekend. I actually bought the humongous can of all-white albacore tuna fish from Walmart ($12). I went ahead and mixed in all the tuna salad ingredients right when I got home, so that it would be ready to eat. Tuna salad will last practically forever in your fridge, and it's a nutritious go-to snack or meal. I used about 2 whopping tablespoons of low-fat mayo (made with olive oil), half a jar of pickle relish, half an onion, an apple, celery salt, salt and pepper. You can play with the different ingredients depending on your taste. This salad will last me 2-3 weeks if I eat it two or three times each week.

Along with my tuna salad, I ate about half a cup of fat-free cottage cheese, another protein-rich food. Chopped fruit like oranges, grapes, strawberries and kiwis make for a good little dessert to this low-carb lunch. (Note: Chopping up your fruit helps fool your eyes into thinking you're eating more than you really are.)

I worked from home on Friday, and I forgot to take a picture of my lunch. Basically, I snacked on several items for my lunch. About two hours before my lunch-hour run, I ate a mashed-up banana with some of my healthy peanut butter. After my run, I ate an apple and about three ounces of lean turkey breast with mustard. Again, these items are staples in my diet.

Later on, I ate a protein bar, which is not a clean food item, but my approach to a clean food diet is not legalistic. I live a very active lifestyle, on-the-go all the time. As awesome as it would be to never put a chemically-altered or artificial ingredient in my body, it's not realistic for my lifestyle. Of course, I try to eat clean the majority of the time, but I have to have grace for myself.

I hope this post helps you add some variety to your diet and make your lunchtime a little bit better. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What's Sexy About a Woman

Blonde, tan and big boobs — isn’t that what women normally think a man finds sexy in a woman — an image many of us women will never pull off? Well, girls, it turns out men get turned on in other ways, and some may shock you.

I asked 15 males ages 21-30 to explain to me what they find sexy about a woman. The question was open-ended, because I feel like the way in which men answered would tell me a lot about how they think as well. I received one-sentence answers, but also received two-pages worth of an answer. One of the biggest surprises was how different some of these answers were. None of them focused on the same ideas of sexiness.

Guys, chime in with your thoughts in the comments. Let me know if you agree or disagree with the following observations.



Her Spirit


One thing I’ve learned at a new level this past year is that true beauty is engrained in all of us because God created us. However, that beauty is only unleashed when we have a relationship with God. This experiment confirmed that.

Out of all the answers, one that was repeated over and over (in different words of course) was that men found women the sexiest when their beauty was unique. For Christians, having a relationship with God allows him to use your body as a vessel through which he shines his rare beauty.

A woman’s spirit is sexy when it’s deep and authentic. Men also responded by saying they valued women with an open mind. You see, one of men’s biggest needs is to be honored. A woman with an open mind respects a man’s ideas even if she doesn’t necessarily agree with it.


Her Beauty


Some men ranked a nice booty over boobs. Some said dark hair and others said the color didn’t matter; they just like it long and healthy. I think most of us knew this before, but it was refreshing to hear it from men — that a woman doesn’t have to fit a certain mold to be considered sexy.

“One girl’s certain characteristic may be sexy on her but not on any other girl.” — J

Most men said they prefer an athletic type of body because it shows that she takes care of herself and that she’s goal-oriented. Apparently, men value the firmness of your behind for more reasons than the obvious. Many of the answers regarding a woman’s looks focused less on particular assets and more on evidence that a woman was confident in her own skin — not that her body looked a certain way, but that she cared enough to invest in it.


Her Strength


Another trait that most men find sexy is independence. Most men want a woman who needs their help at times, but they want a woman to be confident in herself. As a Christian woman, I think this is translated that I can be confident in God.

You see, it’s in my womanly nature to pursue a man and have to prove myself to him that I’m worthy, that I’m lovely, that I’m captivating. In my flesh, I am needy. Only with God can I have the attractive sense of independence that’s sexy to a man.

“When a woman can be more productive and efficient in many aspects of life without a man to lead her or walk with her down part of the road, it really defines their character and integrity.” — R

Men want to know that a woman can take care of herself if anything was to happen to the man in her life. One guy said that an independent woman has a “sexy, confident flare,” a “swagger.”


Her Personality


When I asked my husband the same question I asked the other guys, his initial response surprised me. He told me he finds me the sexiest when I’m being goofy.

A sense of humor and an ability to laugh at yourself is attractive to anybody. That’s why funny people always have so many friends. People love them! I think the most important take-away from this is to always be yourself. Let your inner child have fun and learn how to play again.

Several guys commented that they like a woman who’s talented … one who likes to dance or cook or sing. I think this ultimately means that men like a woman who is passionate. When you can commit to learning something and develop a talent, it shows that you’re committed. A woman who is passionate, who loves, cares and thinks deeply is not afraid to be herself and embrace the woman God created her to be. (She’s probably a better lover, too!)

Men said that they liked it when women were friendly to others. A woman who makes others feel good about themselves indicates that they’ll be a good mother. This can probably be proved in more scientific ways than these observations, but it makes sense. If a man sees that a woman is nurturing and loving, then a man may even subconsciously be more attracted to them because at our rawest form, we mate with a future in mind, a family.


My Two Cents


You know what drives me crazy? Some days, I’ll spend hours preparing myself for my husband: blow-drying my hair (a rare event for me), curling it, extra time on my makeup and a special push-up bra to wear. And you know what? I get more compliments from him on the days I meet him at the gym in a sweaty ponytail and a boob-minimizing sports bra.

It’s simple, ladies. Be yourself. Be all of yourself — no more, no less. We get caught up in trying to “do and be the best we can,” instead of learning to trust God to let his beauty shine through us. Stop comparing yourself to other girls because the truth is, they’re probably wishing they looked differently too.

In one answer, a guy pointed out how boring it would be if we all found the same people sexy. It’s so true. God created each of us in our own unique way, with our own unique beauty. Yet, we’re all created in his image, which is mind-blowing because that means we all reflect a part of the Creator’s majestic beauty.

Soon, I’ll be posting about what’s sexy in a man, so stay tuned. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Look Hot When Working Out

So you may not look as hot as you feel (if you're working hard enough), but there are some key elements to improving your self-image before hitting the gym, sidewalk or park. I've mentioned before how important it is to make working out fun. If you don't, you're likely to get bored and plateau or worse, quit all together.

One of my favorite ways to make exercise fun is to wear a new outfit. So, I thought I'd chronicle some of the things I wear when I'm working out.

You should know that all of these photos were taken after my workouts because I often go straight to the gym from work, and well, I didn't want to take those awkward "selfies" in the mirror unless I had to. Hence, I'm sweaty.


It's important to always keep a couple of sporty jackets in your closet (and in your gym bag), because if you're like me, then you get absolutely freezing during your post-gym cool down. Stretchy clothing works the best for me because the last thing I want to worry about when I'm working out is if my pants make me look fat or if my "muffin top" is showing.


I bought these kicks from the Nike Outlet store in the mall for $29.99. You can find some good deals if you keep your eyes peeled.


I found these gems on clearance at Ross. My hot pink Puma's give me a little extra boost of energy when I wear them. And who says every piece of your workout gear has to match?


One of my favorite things about this green top is that it's tight enough to support me, but it still fits and doesn't pinch my back fat (come on, you know what I'm talking about). The pattern also does a good job at camouflaging sweat.

Black, cropped yoga pants are a must-have — even if you don't plan on taking yoga. These pants are good for all seasons, as long as you're not running outside in the Texas summer heat. I like this style of pants in other colors, but the black ones are the best at hiding sweat.


Now presenting my Cardio Dance Party outfit. When I teach my dance classes, I think it's fun to look the part. If I'm going to be dropping it like it's hot and shaking what my Momma gave me, I can't be out there in my running gear. 

Both my lime green sports bra and white tank are from Forever XXI. Nobody said all your workout clothes have to come from Sports Authority or Academy. You can actually find a lot of great deals at places like Agaci, Body Central, La Patricia, Rue 21 and other trendy stores in the mall.

Santa (a.k.a. my husband) brought me these teeny-weeny striped spanks this year. At first, I wasn't sure if I like them. I wore them for the first time the other night, and I want to go back and get them in about 15 other colors. I didn't have a problem with them riding up or sliding down. They're called "Nike Pro" shorts, and you can find them anywhere that sells Nike gear.


If you're committed to taking dance classes like Zumba or Latin Cardio, you might consider investing in some dance shoes. I just bought these Nike Musique dance shoes from Zappos.com for $49.99. They were voted the best Zumba shoes for 2012 and had really good ratings. So far, they make pivots and spins flawless, which is awesome for my post-gym feet.


If you have long hair, it's hard to keep it from whipping you (or another poor soul) in the face. I've found a few ways to keep your mane in tact. You can try braiding your pony tail or braiding the front part of your hair, and then pull it back into a ponytail. This hairdo keeps your bangs from falling down, as well as preventing tangles. 


Last but not least are my weight-lifting gloves. While I'd advise you to invest in a decent brand, these $5 pair of cute, girly gloves lasted me about 3 months. I use these for dumbbells, pull-ups, burpees, mountain climbers and pushups. 

What are your favorite pieces of exercise gear? What makes exercise fun for you?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Protein Pancakes for RGIII

To honor Robert Griffin III in light of his injury and the end of his first season playing professional football, I dedicated my green (for Baylor) protein pancake recipe to him. Actually, it's all very coincidental, I just wanted to be able to say Sic 'Em, Bears!



In the instance that I'm craving breakfast food, whether it's first thing in the morning or late at night, I usually scramble some egg whites and pair it with some turkey bacon. But every now and then, I get a big hankering for some fluffy, carbtastic pancakes. Rather than make a run to Ihop (which actually does have some healthy choices), I've been experimenting with protein pancake recipes.

Clean eating sites like LeanSecrets and Sarah Fit inspired me to go to work with my pots and pans and turn the usual pancake into something I could enjoy eating while at the same time not straying away from my healthy diet.

Note: I do not follow measured out recipes in my experiments, so I don't have legit numbers to give you (my bad). Know that the flour I'm suggesting doesn't act like normal wheat flour, so you will need a little more eggs than normal and a little more flour to water.

Ingredients:

  • Brown Rice Flour (or Almond Flour or Coconut Flour) // Better for you!
  • Whey Protein Powder
  • Egg Whites or Egg Beaters
  • Chick Peas
  • Cinnamon
  • Stevia
  • Water
  • Coconut Oil (organic, extra-virgin)
  • Spirulina* (optional but makes them Baylor-ific, AKA green, and nutrient-dense)
  • Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips (optional)
Directions:
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with beaters or get a decent deltoid workout in by using a spoon.
  2. Spoon out about a tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet and heat at low to medium.
  3. When oil is evenly spread on surface of skillet, pour out enough batter to form one pancake.
  4. Wait until the pancake has a few bubbles on the top and then flip it to the other side.
  5. Make a couple more and enjoy your protein-packed pancakes!

I ate two for breakfast this morning, and they fill me up, give me energy and satisfy my sweet tooth. 


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Have You Ever Kept Your Resolution?

Losing weight was the #1 most popular resolution in 2012. Is it yours?

If you've been struggling with your resolution(s) this year, consider these thoughts brought to us by Allison from OnlineEducation.net:

Setting Goals Infographic

What are your thoughts?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Start & Stick to Your New Habits

This year, don't let your New Year's resolution become last year's failure. There are ways you can easily get healthy and even have fun doing it (if it's not fun, it can at least not be the worst thing in the world). 

Here are four ways I think 2013 can be a year of healthy living for you and me both. 
CC Photo by CherryPoint


1. Make Exercise Fun


Three things make working out fun for me: what I'm doing, whom I'm with and what I'm wearing.

One of the best kept secrets to staying motivated with fitness is to love the way you look before you change your body. You have to be confident enough to sweat in public if you want to keep finding yourself at the gym. And let me just say that nobody feels good about themselves in clothes that don't fit or aren't flattering. So go find yourself a couple new workout outfits! 

Ladies, I'm giving you an excuse to go shopping. As long as your man knows you're planning on improving your body, I'm sure he won't mind you spending some money on some new clothes. When I splurge on a new workout outfit for myself, it makes me want to go to the gym. It's motivating. It really is!

Next, start the year out by trying new things. Take a new class at your gym, introduce yourself to others there and get determined to make them your friends. The people you exercise with will keep you accountable.

If you've been a slave to the elliptical, spice it up by working the stair climber, treadmill or bike. Grab a jump rope, hit the weights or step outside. Brenda Leigh Turner, from LeanSecrets.com, has a channel on YouTube that is a great resource for finding new workouts. Other YouTube inspirations for new exercises include Sarah Fit, Diet Health, and Brad Gouthro


2. Set Smaller Goals


Think of your goals this year like a line graph that ramps up over time. 


If you start off by setting smaller, reasonable goals, you are more likely to reach them quicker. After you've reached a couple of your smaller goals, you will feel more confident. You will feel like this stuff is actually working! You'll get the itch and want to come back for more.

Losing 20 pounds by the end of the month? Not likely. Losing five pounds by February? You can do it!


3. Track Your Food


For the most of us, the biggest challenge we have for maintaining a healthy lifestyle is in the kitchen. 


If you've never tried journaling your food, you might consider it. Keeping a food diary, where you right down anything and everything that enters your stomach will definitely open your eyes to how much (or how little) you're eating. 

Some may say this is a bit obsessive, but I think it's a good tool to use in moderation, especially for those who are new to healthy eating. I like to do this for 3-5 days every 2-3 months. Once you're more aware of what you're eating and how you want to eat, journaling at this frequency is more for evaluation and moderation. It's motivating to see if you've slipped up in your diet or not.

4. Go Slow


New habits form a lifestyle, and if you're trying to improve your life (which we all are, aren't we?), then you need to think of your decision to be healthier as a life decision — not just a New Year's resolution that will fizz out in a few weeks. 

When you make mistakes, like skipping a workout or eating something unhealthy, don't let it be a deterrent to your lifestyle. Let it motivate you to make healthier decisions from that point on. Don't expect yourself to fail, but realize that you will make mistakes. At times, you will over-eat, and you will miss a workout. You will lay on the couch. You will sneak another bite of spinach dip. But, in the end, it will be okay.

Just like the rest of the decisions we make in our life, one bad choice doesn't make you a failure. Thank God for grace and new beginnings. Yes, sometimes those new beginnings are needed every day, but that's okay. You're human. Don't give up on yourself.
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