Long time no see! {Daniel Plan}

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Hi again! …After the incredibly too long hiatus that was not my intent.  Sorry!  Since I’ve been gone I’ve been participating in the Daniel Plan.  Basically the on the Daniel Plan you cut out processed foods and eat things that aren’t crap.  Since I’ve started I’ve had a few slip ups, which were disappointing but I’m still going strong.  I’ve created/tried a bunch of delicious recipes that I think are worth sharing.  I’m enjoying being creative in the kitchen and cooking is WAY better than eating pre-packaged junk.  Image

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Breakfast has become a habit, which is a great thing since I used to never eat breakfast.  It really does fuel you the rest of the day!

1. Just your basic whole grain toast! I added a serving of PB2 (PB2 is a miracle.  It’s powdered peanut butter with half the fat and calories as regular peanut butter and has no sketch ingredients- just peanuts, salt, and a little sugar.) and then topped my toast with one sliced banana and a handful of blueberries.

2.  If you’ve been keeping up with my posts you can see that I love green smoothies.  It’s a great way to sneak vegetables in with breakfast.  In the smoothie shown I added:

-1 celery stalk

- 1 handful of spinach

-1 handful of kale

- half of a small avocado

- 1/3 cup frozen pineapple

- 1/3 cup of frozen mango

- 4-5 medium strawberries

- 1 banana

- 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

To be honest, you can taste a hint of celery but I find it refreshing.  It’s not overpowering at all.  Also I am IN LOVE with my new Ninja blender! I totally recommend it if you make smoothies as much as I do.

Image1. What you see is what you get.  Baked salmon with oven roasted carrot, zuccinni, and half of a sweet potato.

 -put veggies in a ziplock bag and drizzle 1/2 tablespoon of EVOO over them.  Add your preference of seasonings (I used paprika and roasted red pepper flakes).  Place veggies on a baking sheet in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

- Coat salmon with 1 teaspoon of EVOO and add preference of seasonings (I used same as veggies). Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes (my salmon was frozen).

2.  For lunch one day I was freezing, so the though of a cold salad was unappealing and I made a hot one.  I just sauteed kale with garlic and 1/2 tbsp EVOO, roasted half of a cubed sweet potato in the oven with 1/2 tbsp of EVOO and garlic powder, and prepared one serving of quinoa (I used vegetable broth instead of water).  Super easy and filling.

3.  For lunch another day I made a turkey-quinoa-spinach & feta burger.  It was seriously the bomb.  I kind of just made up the ingredients as I went. You’ll need:

-1lb lean ground turkey

-1 serving prepared quinoa

-1 egg

-2 big handfuls of spinach (sauteed with I tsp EVOO)

-2 tbsp feta cheese

-salt and pepper to taste

Just mix all ingredient with your hands and make 4 flattened patties.  Season both sides of the patties.  I broiled mine in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the middle was gray.  I served with baked zucchini and carrot sticks and a dollop of plain greek yogurt for dipping.

4.  For dinner I warmed up a left over turkey burger and steamed broccoli carrots and zucchini.  I also warmed up the other half of a oven roasted sweet potato.  Easy peasy.

5. Another simple meal.  I ate tilapia seasoned with chili powder and red pepper flakes, steamed broccoli, carrots, and zucchini, with guac penne.  I boiled 1/3 cup of whole wheat penne and saved 1/4 cup of the pasta water before draining. In a small bowl I mashed up half of a small avocado and added fresh chopped cilantro, and 2 tbsp of fat free plain Greek yogurt. I added the pasta water to make more of a saucy consistency.  Just mix together and warm through.

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I’ve always been a fan of tea.  Being the good southerner that I am I’m a sweet tea fanatic, or was.  I now drink tea about twice a day (sometimes more).  I usually drink a cup of green tea with lemon in the morning and a cup of sleepytime tea or chamomile before I settle in for the night.  Tea is just as good without all the sugar… maybe even better since you can actually taste the tea part.

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Recently I purchased an elliptical that I can use while sitting at my desk or like a regular elliptical.  I’m a full time online student so I sit a lot.  While I would rather go to a park and walk, sometimes that isn’t an option when I’m cooped up in my room studying.  I really miss traditional college just for the fact that I could at least walk to class and around campus.  I’m sure this thing isn’t for everyone but for those who have sedentary jobs it’s something worth looking into.  Also click >here< for one-song workouts. (not so much a fan of some of the music but the idea is really great)

Thanks for stopping by!

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Motivation Monday

I’m back! With my classes coming to an end soon I have had (and still have) several papers to write and Exams to study for.  Classes have really been tough so far this semester.  That along with traveling has made me super busy.  I apologize again for abandoning the blog for the last couple of weeks.  For starters on March 5th (start of lent) I will be kicking it up a notch and starting the Daniel Plan, which is basically a 40 day jump start into a life long commitment of making better choices.  It cuts out processed foods and encourages whole foods.  The Daniel Plan is something I can really get behind because it’s not a diet.  It’s not fake, processed, pre-packaged garbage and it’s not a ‘quick fix’ diet.  I passionately hate crap like that.  Cutting out processed foods in my diet I know will be difficult but I know it is something that I believe is vital to my personal health.  

Last year both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer.  My dad was diagnosed in the middle of my mom’s second or third chemo session. She couldn’t even be at the hospital with him because her counts were too low and she literally couldn’t get out of bed without throwing up.  While my mom’s cancer (Ewing Sarcoma) is not genetic and was not caused by lifestyle choices there is a possibility I have a gene passed down from my dad that may increase my chances of getting colon cancer- the cancer he had.  Many people in my family have had cancer in my family and some have died from it.  Lung cancer, stomach cancer, and Melanoma have all taken lives in my family.  My Nana is a 10 year breast cancer surviver.  I really don’t want to be the next victim.  I’m no doctor but I understand the negative effects of processed foods.  I’m not saying that it causes all cancers but it is definitely linked to some cancers and has other terrible effects on the body.  

Sure, eating all natural foods may be inconvenient and more expensive but, I mean, so are medical bills.  I’m not trying to force this lifestyle on anyone because I firmly believe it has to be a personal choice and commitment.  I’ve had that epiphany and it took me my whole 21 years. I’m doing this because I want to live instead of just existing.  I desperately want to be healthy not only for myself but for my loved ones.  My future spouse and my future children.  Losing weight is obviously also a big part of this not only for my physical health but for my mental health and even my spiritual health.  Hopefully a year from now I can look back at this post and have most, if not all, of my weight loss goals met. I know it will be worth it.

Don’t Give Up

-Sarah

I have not given up the fight towards a healthier lifestyle! I have just been incredibly busy with school and traveling which makes the whole blogging thing a bit difficult since it is so time consuming. Starting back Monday I will be back to normal with posting and whatnot.  For those that read my blog, I apologize and hope to see you Monday.

-Sarah

Motivation Monday

Today’s motivation Monday is more of a confession than anything.  This weekend I didn’t fall off the wagon, I jumped off the wagon.  Both of my parents’ birthdays are within four days apart and this weekend we celebrated both of them.  This, of course, means people want to give you 10 cakes, and take you out to eat at restaurants that don’t really have a “better” option.  So, I got frustrated and threw in the towel.  I had also ordered an elliptical which arrived Friday.  I was excited about using it but it turned out to be defective and now I have to send it back.  Honestly, I feel like a complete failure with the decisions I’ve made this past weekend and have adapted back to the depressing “what’s the point” attitude. But I’m not giving up. I have been overweight basically my whole life, except for the first couple of years of high school so for me, it’s really hard to ever picture myself as anything else.  The goal I’m working toward is something so foreign to me it almost scares me.  I know, that must sound stupid. It’s also really discouraging to see how far I have to go from where I am now, but giving up won’t make it any better.  The days will pass anyway. Everyone has a struggle in life and this is mine, but everyday I have a choice to work towards a healthier lifestyle so I don’t have to struggle with this the rest of my life.  I messed up this weekend but I’m not giving up.  I’m excited to get back on track and keep on keeping on. 

Thanks for stopping by!

–Sarah

Food and Fitness Friday {smoothies and booties}

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This week I’ve really had an open mind about trying new things and incorporating more green in my diet.  Between green smoothies and huge salads I’ve really noticed a difference in how I feel and my energy level.  It’s seriously amazing.  I haven’t really craved anything bad so far because everything I’ve eaten has been delicious, filling, and satisfying.  I’ve also lost about 3 pounds since I’ve started blogging so it must be working!

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Green smoothies are a thing now and for a good reason.  A lot of people don’t give them a chance because who would ever put spinach in a smoothie? Personally I’ve fallen in love with them and usually drink one after my workouts. I have had green smoothies before but none like these! The special ingredient is half of an avocado!  It makes it sooooo smooth and creamy! (p.s. you can’t taste it) I used two different recipes this week and they’re down below.

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Snicker Doodle Green

- 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

- 1/2 small avocado

- 1 frozen chopped banana

- 2 handfuls of spinach

- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

- 1/8 tsp. cinnamon

- 1 packet truvia

blend and enjoy!

This slightly altered recipe originally came from >here<

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  Strawberries and Green

- 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

- 1/2 small avocado

- 1 frozen chopped banana

- 7-8 medium strawberries

- 2 handfuls of spinach

- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

- 1 packet truvia

blend and enjoy!

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I obviously don’t post everything I eat but these are meals that I find repeating the most during the week.

1. For dinner one night I was wanting some pasta, so I jazzed it up a bit.  After cooking one serving of pasta to al dente, put 1 cup of spinach in bottom of colander.  Drain pasta over spinach.  Place pasta and spinach back into pot and add halved cherry tomatoes, garlic powder, and, italian seasoning to taste.  Add 1/8 cup feta cheese and serve. (if you’re not a fan of wilt-y spinach [I love it] you can replace with broccoli) I served the pasta with baked tilapia seasoned with garlic powder and italian seasoning.

2. This is personally my favorite snack ever, and so easy! chopped cucumber and tomato with 2 tbsp. fat free italian dressing, black pepper, and crushed red pepper.

3. This bowl is seriously the size of my head! 1 cup of romaine lettuce, 1 cup of spinach, handful of carrots, handful of cherry tomatoes, 2 tbsp. feta cheese, 2 tbsp. fat free italian dressing.

4. This meal I had for lunch today. Half of a pita pocket filled with spinach, 1 boca burger, and mustard. 1 bag of 90 calorie regular Special K cracker chips. 1/4 cup fat free cottage cheese + blueberries & strawberries.

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One word. Squats. These things are so underrated because they give you serious results! Bonus- they help achieve a nice derrière.  These are equipment free (obviously) and will leave you sore for days.  I recently saw a squat challenge on pinterest and will be doing it for the next 30 days. Click >here< for squat challenge.

Thanks for stopping by!

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DIY Wednesday {Valentine’s Projects}

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Valentine’s Day is approaching very quickly and for this week’s broke college student DIY project I am including two relatively cheap but meaningful gifts.  Everything I used for both of these projects was from Hobby Lobby.  I actually made both of these for mine and Andrew’s first and second anniversaries but they would also be appropriate for Valentine’s Day.  Andrew really appreciated both of these and can always take these out as a reminder of how much I love him.

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PicMonkeyC52

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I asked Andrew to send me a few pictures of the cards, hence the creativity.  There really aren’t any set rules on this project which is why it’s so great and personal.  I made this for our first anniversary and it’s cool to look back and see how much has changed and how much our love has grown.  It does take a while to do so plan ahead!

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PicMonkey Collage

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This project is great because you can continue to add to it for years to come.  I made this for our second anniversary.  Since Andrew and I are in a long distance relationship we have started to pass it off after each visit and add small notes and such.  You could even make it a point to look through it each Valentine’s Day.  Like the 52 cards project it’s easy to personalize and a nice way to reflect on past memories with your significant other while making new ones.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Motivation Monday {Exercise Judgment}

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          If you are anything like me public exercise can sometimes seem more like public humiliation.  I’ve never been much of an athlete and I am extremely awkward when I jog.  It is easy to get discouraged when you feel like you’re not fit enough to belong.  However, I have noticed that this is more of a personal issue more than it is an issue with others.  Now don’t get me wrong, people can be extremely rude and cruel.  When I did have a gym membership a couple of years ago I remember being on an elliptical and this lady got on one next to me (there were literally 11 other open ellipticals) and kept looking at my resistance/incline/speed and would then smirk.  She was VERY obvious.  I really don’t know what her intention was but it made me extremely uncomfortable and self conscious. After that I began thinking that most people were judging me and I really psyched myself out.  That was the day I got rid of my gym membership.

          After a while I realized I became what I accused other people of becoming- judgmental.  I think that’s pretty much how the whole system of human beings work.  We are so worried about what others think about us we become paranoid and judgmental.  This mindset has really held me back.  In reality most people are focusing on their personal exercise routine and probably notice your existence but that’s about it.  They may even be wondering what you are thinking about them.  Those who mock or go out of their way to make people uncomfortable have a bunch of unresolved issues probably dealing with their own personal self esteem.  I have known several people in my life who constantly made fun of people’s appearances because they struggle with their own appearance.  They use mockery as a coping mechanism to make them feel better about themselves.

          My encouragement today for you as well as myself is to continue to exercise in spite of what people may think.  You are doing something good for your body and that is something to be proud of.  Don’t allow the negativity of a few people skew your opinion of all people.  Don’t let those few individuals’ words or actions hold you back from accomplishing your goals.  Don’t ever give up.

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Food and Fitness Friday {Super Bowl Edition}

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Super Bowl Sunday is just in a couple of days and the most fattening, unhealthy, artery clogging foods will be upon us.  Among those foods will be addicting and delicious dips filled to the max with gut-busting ingredients.  While this is a time of celebration (I guess) and splurging with some extra calories you don’t have to wake up the next morning pregnant with a food baby.  Those one night stands with pizza and wings promise you a life long commitment of happiness but then leave you feeling guilty and alone with the runs. (I know, I’m sorry) So, in this week’s Food and Fitness Friday I figured I would include two of my favorite dips that don’t taste anything close to healthy- but are a lot better for you.

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Image      This recipe is seriously my all time favorite recipe I’ve ever made.  I love spinach and artichoke dip and tweaked different recipes to come up with this one.  This recipe has the boyfriend sticker of approval and he didn’t even know it was a healthier version!  Make sure you drain the can of artichokes- I forgot to add it to the recipe (oops).  Serve this dip piping hot with whole wheat pita chips, slices of red or yellow peppers, baby carrots, celery sticks, or cucumber slices (or all of the above).

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This recipe is the easiest thing ever and so delectable.  It’s filled with protein and goes great with apple slices, strawberries, banana slices, or any kind of fruit.

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       This week my meals, for the most part, were super easy and took less than 10 minutes to prepare!  They’re to the point and nothing fancy which is perfect for when I’m on the go or don’t have a lot of time to eat.

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1. For lunch yesterday I ate a microwavable Boca Vegan burger topped with organic salsa and fat free Greek yogurt, all natural/no preservative microwavable steamed broccoli, a handful of organic carrots, a few strawberries and chunks of cantaloupe. It over all took about 5 1/2 minutes to prepare.

2.  Saturday night I ate 1 serving of microwavable instant brown rice with 1 serving of shredded chicken (from a can), spring mix with feta cheese and fat free Italian dressing, organic carrots, and strawberries & cantaloupe. 8 minutes to prepare.

3. Eating out is typically more expensive and less healthy than eating in but sometimes it’s unavoidable.  I got a sweet onion chicken teriyaki chopped salad from Subway with grilled chicken, no cheese, all the vegetables except olives (not my favorite thing) and went light on the sweet onion dressing.  250 calories according to the website.  This thing was huge! I couldn’t even eat it all so $6 wasn’t bad.

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Let me first warn you about this video.  Chances are you can do all of the movements (I could!) but it will make you sweat and seriously wear you out.  It’s easy to do, no equipment necessary, an awesome workout, and only 10 minutes long! I will be doing this a couple of times a week along with my routine walking/ jogging.  Click >here< for the workout.

Thank you so much for joining me for Food and Fitness Friday! I hope you all have a wonderful Super Bowl weekend and join me again for Motivation Monday!

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Don’t let a negative mindset hold you back! {MM, DW, FF}

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. -George Bernard Shaw

I used to think a healthy lifestyle had to be ridiculously expensive, mundane, and miserable but I’ve changed my mind! I hope you will join me every Monday and Friday during my weight loss journey for motivation, workouts, and affordable recipes and also on Wednesday for a broke college student approved DIY project!

Motivation Monday- Monday will be dedicated entirely to encouragement for myself as well as others who are also on a journey to a healthier lifestyle. DIY Wednesday- Each Wednesday I will post an inexpensive and easy DIY project that is useful, decorative, or a combination of both.  Food & Fitness Friday- On Friday I will share frugal recipes I used during the week and workouts that are free- free meaning no gym membership needed.  Any equipment I do use I will also post an alternative workout. 

Thanks for stopping by! :)

-Sarah 

My Journey to becoming Healthier Me

My name is Sarah and I’m a 21 year old college senior striving to make healthy changes in my life, and this is my story.  I was a chubby kid growing up which gave me my fair share of unwanted attention.  I learned by age 9 that most people immediately judged me based on my appearance, not my abilities or character.  By the time I hit high school I had slimmed down quite a bit and while I have never been thin, I was at a normal weight for my height and I was completely healthy.  However, I was still considered “fat” in my mind and in the minds of people who were just as screwed up as I was.  I was mocked and made fun of by attention-seeking cowards who were probably just as broken and had the same self-esteem issues I had.  Words and baggage I’ve carried have since been forgiven but have never ever been forgotten.

I picked up a horrible weight loss strategy my sophomore year of high school and limited myself to a 500-calorie diet.  I lost maybe 15-20 pounds, which was gained back after I started eating normally again.  The responses people gave me were positive ones, despite my unhealthy calorie intake.  Fortunately, I got sick of feeling dizzy, grouchy, and tired all the time so I ditched that lifestyle-temporarily.  Along with the skewed ideas I had about my self worth I thought I could fill that void with a relationship.  If only some hormonal heightened teenaged boy would find me attractive enough to hold a relationship down with me so I could prove I had self worth then all of life’s problems would be solved.  Long story short, on and off toxic relationship didn’t work out so well. I wasted years of my life trying to hold on to someone that didn’t respect me because I didn’t even have respect for myself.  Thankfully that ended just before my freshman year of college started.

The first couple of months of college I lost about 25 pounds due to being a part of marching band, living on a mountainous campus, and unfortunately falling back on a 500-calorie diet.  The ending of my former relationship left me feeling a bit depressed after realizing how much time I had wasted.  This outlook soon changed because for the first time in my life I was in a school setting where I felt like I belonged.  People saw me as more than being overweight, they saw me as a person.  They accepted me for my personality and for the first time I started to get it.  My worth was not based on how much I weighed.  This is when I started to understand my own faith better.  I started to see that God didn’t look at me the way that I looked at myself.  He saw my character and the depths of my broken heart all along.  After this realization I was able to respect and even like myself.  At the end of my freshman year I entered a healthy and positive relationship that forever changed my mind about relationships.  This guy seriously knew/knows how treat a lady.  He was/is respectful, honest, and genuine and I could/can be my true self around him.  A true gentleman.  He has never said anything negative about my appearance and is always encouraging me to pursue my dreams.  Due to my new-found comfort my weight slowly creped up my sophomore year and the first semester of my Junior year due to poor food choices and holding a more sedentary lifestyle.  Then good old 2013 hit…

In December of 2012 I found out my mom was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer and needed a year’s worth of chemo at a place about an hour away from our home. My heart was broken and I was so scared. I moved out of my apartment and moved home so I could drive her to each treatment and help out with whatever I could.  Moving away also meant moving 3 hours further away from my boyfriend, making it a 6 hour commute.  I was still taking a full load of online classes at the time.  My weight stayed about the same until about April.  Mid- March my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer and went through a serious but successful surgery that would leave him out of work for a while.  This is when I started rapidly gaining weight.  Between classes, both of my parents being out of commission, eating fast food back and forth to chemo, and just the stress of not knowing what was going to happen to my family I struggled to live a decently healthy life at best.

Now that 2013 is over and my parents are both in remission I feel that it’s time for me to start my weight loss journey.  I started this blog to show my creativity in the kitchen as well as share work outs that are fun and free.  While I know this will not be easy I am striving to love and take care of myself while possibly connecting with others who would like to do the same.  For more detailed information about this blog check under my About page. Thanks for reading!