How I’m Eating (and moving) Lately

So you guys already know that at the weekend before the pandemic hit, my daughter and her little family moved out and got their own apartment. I miss them so much but luckily they are only about 15 miles away and I have gotten to see them a few times over the last 10 weeks. Lydia and Cam both work at Target and have been on the front line every day. Our oldest daughter and her family live in Illinois and she works at Target too. Her husband is a professor and he has been teaching online but Andie just like Lydia and Cam has been out there making sure we all have the groceries and other essentials that we need. A huge thank you goes out to them and all the other essential workers that have kept our country going.

Anyway, with Lydia and Cam moving out, I was able to get rid of EVERY single cheat food in the house. That has proved to be the biggest secret to help me stay on track. For the first 2 weeks of staying at home, I got my hubby to go vegan with me and we did the Chef AJ program. Chef AJ is SOS (salt, oil, sugar) free and promotes eating potatoes similar to the Dr. McDougall program. I did really well but Ron missed his omnivore ways and went back to mostly veggies and healthy meats.


I am still following Chef AJ mostly but I do have a little salt now. Not as much as I did in the past but since I exercise most every day, a nutritionist friend of mine, wanted me to not be to afraid of the salt shaker. She says we need some sodium!

Here’s some shots of what I eat on a typical day.

I’m not having overnight oats or smoothies like I have lived on in the past. Now I’m having these awesome quinoa banana oat muffins.

I made the below video last Sunday when I was making them. But go here for the recipe. Tami at Nutmeg Notebook is amazing and I love her SOS recipes!

Sometimes if I am hungry mid morning I’ll have some steamed broccoli and a twice baked JSP. (Japanese Sweet Potato) I get my JSPs at Whole Foods and then I put them in the Instant Pot for 10 minutes on manual. I use the wire rack and put a little Berkey water in. Then I keep the potatoes in the fridge until I am ready for them and then I air fry at 400 degrees for about 12 or 13 minutes. These JSPs are amazing this way and you just have to try them!

For lunch I almost always have a huge salad topped with a yummy balsamic vinegar. Chef AJ and Tami and Nutmeg Notebook lead me to this awesome balsamic provider. I am in love!

That’s a lot of food so far so for dinner I’m usually not too hungry. I often get a bean burger and have some more steamed veggies and call it a night.

Here’s a shot of a wrap I got yesterday from Trader Joe’s. We had gotten the chips and guac from Costco and they are dangerous to have in the house. We cannot buy those often!

So that’s it! That’s how I eat most days. Oh and I have been getting back in to juicing. I made these this week and they are very yummy and so very healthy! The pears in there make it! Recipe from Kris Carr.

I’m down 8 pounds in these last 10 weeks and now that I’ve been getting out a little more, people are noticing. Yay! I had to go in to work for a few minutes last week and 2 work friends commented and said I looked great! Then yesterday I went to an in person physical therapy appointment. I had been having video therapy sessions but I hadn’t seen my therapist since the pandemic hit. She noticed too!

Our book club met on Thursday and they commented! One friend even said it wasn’t the weight so much but that I looked toned! I’m crediting the Beachbody On Demand videos I’ve been doing with that!

For the first 7 weeks I did LIIFT4 and now I’m doing Barre Blend. I am crazy excited over how much better my shoulder is feeling and how I’m feeling in general.

What are some fun things you’re making? Have you ever tried juicing? Have you ever tried the Beachbody on Demand workouts?

Much love and peace!

Melissa

In the Blink of an Eye

Last Sunday on one of my 2 daily walks with our dog, Lily, my world could have changed in the blink of an eye.

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We were almost home from our 1 mile walk and I spied 2 dogs trotting towards us.  I hadn’t seen them before in the neighborhood and since they were running loose, I immediately was on guard.  One of them was a Pit bull mix and the other one was some sort of Shepherd.  The Shepherd stayed farther away but the Pit bull started coming right up to us.  I yelled very loud with all I could muster for the dog to GO AWAY!  He paused and at first I thought he was going to go.  But then he came forward.  I was praying so hard that he’d just do the stiff thing and then leave but in the blink of an eye, he was attacking Lily.  I didn’t hesitate and started kicking him and hitting him with Lily’s leash.  Her leash and collar had slipped off in the struggle.  Thankfully, just as fast as he attacked, he left and trotted on off through the woods with the Shepherd.

Lily was okay.  She only had one puncture would on her hip.  And I didn’t have a scratch.  It could have been a different situation though.  Lily could have been killed and in all reality, that Pit bull could have killed me too.  My heart was racing!  I was scared out of my mind.  A neighbor that had heard me screaming came out and I’m sure she would have come to help if the attack hadn’t ended so quickly.  She did holler over to me and let me know that those same 2 dogs had killed her outside cat.   We are going to try and alert the Animal Control if we ever see them again in our neighborhood.

Later in the afternoon, on my daily Amazon order, I included some mace that I really should have had with me in the first place.   I also tightened Lily’s collar.

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It has been 23 days now since my office sent us all home to work remotely.  At first, I was so out of it.  I had home projects all around me that were in some stage of incompleteness.  My daughter, her boyfriend, and our granddaughter had just moved out of our home into their own apartment just the weekend before.  We had given them our old washer and dryer and when Ron hooked up our new ones, something went awry.  I noticed a wet spot in the carpet in our bedroom and I had no clue it was the washer.  The washer is in the kitchen for Pete’s sake!  I totally blamed poor Lily.  I thought she had had an accident.

It took us one full day to figure out that the hose on the washer was the culprit.  After Ron got the leak stopped, he ended up pulling up the carpet and the padding.  We had decided to replace the carpet and since we are laying the new flooring down ourselves, he said he’d just rip this spot up now.

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We were also in the middle of painting the laundry closet and putting up new shelves, so EVERYTHING was in an upheaval.  Luckily now, the new shelves are up and at least the laundry area is neat and tidy.

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My sis and niece and their husbands were going to help us with the new flooring and even though they said they’d still come up and help us, I’ve decided to heed the Shelter at Home advisory and just tackle the flooring later when this virus gets past us.   I know this is the right thing to do even though this flooring situation is so frustrating!

I’ve been trying to stay off social media as much as I can.  I try to limit myself to 2 quick sessions each day just to keep up with friends and family.  The one thing that I’ve really been noticing is all the memes that people are posting about the struggles they are having with food now that they are working from home.

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I’m not sure how I’m doing it but I’m really rockin’ the healthy eating!  The only thing I can think of is that I have absolutely zero cheat foods in my house thanks to Lydia and Cam moving out prior to the pandemic. When they lived with us, it was all I could do to not partake of all the pizza Friday’s they’d have.  The cinnamon rolls they’d bake all the time were also my downfall.  Heck if they were out of stuff, I’ve been known to eat all of Harley’s goldfish crackers or mini pretzels.  I’d always replace them the next day but it was so difficult for me to say no.

Ron has really been trying to lose weight and he just can’t make the scale move much at all!   So when they moved, we really did a huge pantry purge.  We decided to go on the Chef AJ ultimate weight loss program.

Chef AJ

I actually started the weekend before the pandemic so it has been a whole 4 weeks for me.  I’ve lost 6.1 pounds and feel fantastic.

weight

Ron stayed on the program for almost 2 weeks and he did lose a little but he said he didn’t feel good only eating plants and he has gone back to being an omnivore.  In fact, he went to Costco and stocked back up on meats and nuts and all his favorite Paleo foods.  He did promise he wouldn’t go back to the Bulletproof coffee though.  Ron had an AFib (atrial fibrillation) episode last month and even though AFIB is not the normal heart disease with clogged arteries and such, it is still very serious.  He promised me he’d cut down on the fats.  He also came home with 2 canisters of mixed nuts.  That little blip you see in my weight loss is me cheating and eating nuts last weekend.  I know that some fats like nuts and avocados are so very healthy but I can’t seem to partake of any without overdoing it.  They are such trigger foods for me.  Well nuts and a take out meal from my favorite vegan local restaurant.  I’m happy I was helping to keep the small restaurants in business by ordering take out but I swear, you can totally eat vegan food and gain!

Garden of Eden

That carrot cake was divine though and it was my only sweet in a whole month.

Here’s some shots of my normal daily meals.  I’ve really been cooking up a storm and eating oh so healthy!

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Quinoa Banana Oat muffins

Lots of Hugh Jass Salads topped with balsamic vinegars

caramelized onion gravy over rice

beet burgers

lots of potatoes air fried in Ron’s awesome new oven

mashed banana butter on Ezekiel muffins

I pray that that you are finding ways to cook and eat healthy while we weather out this Covid-19 storm.    Jesus and our health is all we really have.  Everything has changed so much and it really does feel that this all happened in the blink of an eye.

Much love and peace!

Melissa

 

Grace Not Perfection

Happy New Year!  I just know 2020 is going to be an awesome year.

Ron and I started the new year off with a 5k.  It was called the Commitment Day 5k and was a super way to kick off the year.  The weather was a little chilly but oh so beautiful.  The course was mostly flat and went through a pretty green-way and also on some sidewalks and roads in Cary, NC.

Ron and Mel Commitment Day 5k

All smiles at the start!

Ron

Coming in Strong!

 

Mel

I swear, I am running here at the finish. I have no idea why it looks like I am walking! LOL

Our times were 38:12 and 39.08 with me scooting in just a little bit ahead of Ron this time.

After the race we came home and I felt so energized all day.  We got the Christmas decorations down and put away and lots of other household chores.

The theme for the race was #onepositiveaction.  It really is amazing how one little thing can set you up for many more positive steps throughout your day.  Making my breakfast and lunches ahead of time is something that I have been doing for years and years and if I I miss this step, my week really can take such a negative turn.  I end up tempted to go to fast food restaurants and even if I do choose a grocery store or a healthier restaurant, I usually eat more and spend way more money.

So, here’s a breakdown of my my breakfast and lunches.

I used to make overnight oats but now, I’m hooked on smoothies.  I was hesitant at first about making smoothies ahead but they really have mostly the same ingredients as overnight oats and I figured they’d work out okay.  I’ve tried it for about a month and the last smoothie is as good as the first so I’m confident I’m going to be okay.  The silly reason I’ve started doing this is that I hate getting the flax seeds stuck in my teeth.  Flax seeds are so beneficial so I don’t want to give them up.  With smoothies, they don’t get stuck!

And here’s my lunches.  It is always a Hugh Jass Salad!

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Peppers, onions, and cucumbers. The apple there is only for one salad. I don’t prep those ahead.

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Celery, beans, carrots, tomatoes

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Spring Mix and Kale mix

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Don’t they look pretty!

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Ready to chop!

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Oops, forgot some herbs!

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Now all chopped up! I’ve timed it and this salad is a commitment in itself.  Takes me about 30 minutes to eat this!

So there you go.  There’s my positive actions that I try to do every week.  I don’t get bored at all and rarely deviate from these basic ingredients.  I do want to add some micro greens to the salads and I need to get my booty in gear and plant some.

My biggest goal of the year is to go SOS.  Salt, Oil, and Sugar free.  I first heard of this method of weight loss from Chef AJ and I do believe it is a very healthy way of life.  I’m a self-confessed salt-a-holic and I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to sugar as well.  Well I did okay on January 1 and 2 but by the 3rd I decided to add just a little Earth Balance to my rice noodles.   Then my hand reached for the salt shaker.  Before the night was over I had 2 handfuls of vegan chocolate chips!  I was sad yes but I didn’t throw in the towel and granted myself grace.  I’ve been hearing about Grace Not Perfection lately and it may be my 2020 mantra!

What positive actions are you taking for 2020?  I pray you grant yourself grace when you need it.

xxoo,

Melissa

50 Day Christmas Challenge

My WordPress buddy who I swear is my long lost sister since we are so much alike, has been posting some monthly challenges and experiments lately.  She’s a wine lover and decided to give up alcohol for 1 month to see if it would help in weight loss.  She also just did an intermittent fasting challenge.  Check out her blog.  It’s really inspiring!  So inspiring, she has motivated me to make a blog post and I haven’t touched this blog since December 26th of LAST year!  And I used to love blogging.  Hmmm, wonder what’s up with that?!

Anyway, I have this little countdown app on my phone and I used it to count down the days until my last marathon.  It was the Marine Corps Marathon and I ran it on October 28th.  It was a wonderful experience and my hubby and I had a nice vacation.  He hadn’t been to DC before and we did all the touristy things.  We had a ball!  I promise.  I’ll write up a race review ASAP!   But for starters, here’s our celebration photo.  Ron ran the 10k that day and had time to shower and nap while I finished up the marathon.  LOL

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Getting back to the app, when I went in to amend it, I found that I could pick any date on my calendar.  I randomly picked Christmas since I don’t have another race until next spring.  I watched the little app count down last week and I realized it would be getting close to 50 days out soon and an idea popped into my head.

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What if I did a 50 day challenge!!!  But what could it be?  I had already told my running coach and running friends I was taking a break from running.  My original plan was to take all of November off.  What would happen if I took December off to?  I remember last year I had a January marathon and I loved it so much because it kept me focused all through the holidays.  Maybe I could use the 50 day challenge to keep me focused this year?

I adore Lindsay at Happy Herbivore and she preaches that “abs are made in the kitchen.”  You know, the whole you can’t outrun a bad diet manta.

abs

So that was it.

I was getting burned out on running and I was ready to take a hiatus from it.  I have some IT band issues that need more time to heal too.

Here’s the plan:

  1. Beginning today and for the next 50 days, I’m going to follow Lindsay Nixon’s slimming options. I’m not going to cheat and eat candies, breads, chips, and vegan junk food.  I’m really going to eat clean!
  2. 64 ouces of H2O daily! It’s happening!
  3. I’m not going to run or do any of the boot camp exercise groups that I adore. No long and vigorous exercise sessions.  I’m going to focus on yoga, push-ups, and planks.  Probably 15 minutes a day or so.
  4. Along with these, I’m going to try and add some good habits. First up is flossing my teeth nightly.  I do it religiously for a while and then I don’t.   I really want to make it a habit that will stick.  After about 2 weeks, I’m going to add getting enough sleep to the agenda.  7+ hours minimum.  I’m so bad at staying up late and then getting up at the crack of dawn.  No more.  Sleep is so crucial to good health!  Then after another 2 weeks or so, I’m going to add on making sure my sink is clean every night.  My hubby and I are so bad about leaving dishes!  We rinse them out but we don’t take that extra step to unload the dish washer so we can put the dirty ones in.

So there you go.  My Christmas present to me.  In 50 days I hope to be a lean, strong, flexible, rested, push-up machine that just happens to have healthy gums and a clean kitchen!    Ha!

What gift would you like to give yourself this year?  Do you like countdown apps?  Are you a list maker?

Thanks so much for spending time out of your day with me.  I pray your holiday season is joyous!

Melissa

 

Weight Loss Roller Coaster

Uggghhhhhhh!

Oh the journey of weight loss!  What a roller coaster it is for me.

Disclaimer:  Keep in mind that I’m not a doctor.  All information on my blog is my own ideas and experiences and is not intended to be a substitute for consultation with a doctor or healthcare provider.  I cannot accept any responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from this post or any post on A Handful of Spinach.

First of all, what I have come to finally realize is that there are many different paths to follow and many ways to achieve your healthy weight.  The Paleo’s can get you there and I really believe they have an awesome program.  For me the “nothing processed” is the way to go.  Dr. Fuhrman can get you there.  Dr. McDougall can get you there.  Whole 30 can get you there.  Weight Watchers can get you there.  Just cutting out sodas and desserts can get the lucky ones there.

You get the idea.  I’m finding that you have to find the plan that works for you and stick with it.  None of them will get you there if you give up and resort back to your old habits.  Most often just choosing “this not that” and doing what you can when you can “wycwyc” are the little healthy steps that can lead up to a whole new life over a long period of time.

I’ve tried nearly every single plan you can name.  I was an Atkins girl in the 90’s, a WW girl early in this century, and for the past 5.5 years I’ve been an on again off again vegetarian and vegan.  I keep coming back to vegetarian and vegan diets for ethical reasons.  I love cheese but I hate the dairy industry.  I cannot look at a pig and for one second think about eating them.  Factory farming gives me nightmares!

However, I can totally take the approach shown in the movie Avatar, and if you give honor to the animal and kill humanely, I’m ok with that.  Salmon Fish Farms, NO but my brother in law’s fresh catch of the day from a beautiful Missouri lake, YES.  Eggs from the normal factories where the hens never touch their feet to grass, NO, but eggs from my neighbor’s backyard chicken coop, YES.

That’s my view on the subject of weight loss.  However, I want the weight loss to come off fast and be easy to maintain.

28 days ago I embarked on yet another weight loss experiment.  I’m going to go ahead and put the numbers out there for your reference but please note this scale disclaimer.

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I started off at 153.  I brought it down 5 pounds to 148 by just being mindful and cutting out the desserts and too many breads.  At 148 I started Chef AJ’s weight loss program.  I do need to say that I did not purchase her complete program and only took bits and pieces of her advice from what I could get for free on the internet.  So, this may not be a true experiment.

Anyway, what she preaches for weight loss is no sugar, no salt, no oil, and no nuts.  She explains about caloric density and how to try and get the healthiest volume of food to fill your stomach for the lowest calories.  A pound of most veggies is only 100 calories vs. a pound of oil at 4000 calories.   On her program, I could have all the fruits, veggies, and whole grains that I wanted but I needed to consume 2 pounds of cooked greens before the other choices.

In one week I had lost 8 pounds and made it down to 140 pounds.  I was on cloud 9!

Things that I learned that I could do that I never thought I could change:

  • I had steamed broccoli and cauliflower for breakfast and didn’t have my normal smoothies or oatmeal. Yes, steamed greens for breakfast.  Believe it or not it is possible and they are so filling!
  • I learned that I really didn’t have to sauté onions and garlic in oil. You can put just a little bit of veggie broth or plain water and sauté’ just fine.
  • I learned that I COULD live without the salt shaker. I am now a recovered salt-a-holic .  I found some delicious salt free spicy seasoning, some salt free mustard, and a very low salt salsa that flavor things deliciously.

After that 1st week, I gained back 2 pounds and I think it had to be the fact that I stopped concentrating on the 2 pounds of greens daily. For weeks 2-3, I let myself by with only 12 ounces and sometimes as little as 8 ounces.  At the end of week 3, I splurged and went out to brunch at a restaurant.  I had a Thai peanut bowl and even though I didn’t eat the peanuts, the creamy sauce did me in.  I also had a good amount of noodles later that night.  At the beginning of week 4 I was at 146!  I was heartbroken.  After all that work I was close to where I started.

My husband had similar results.  He lost a lot in the beginning and then he stopped eating so many greens and the weight loss stalled.  He stopped the program after 21 days and is now back to Paleo.

I’ve stuck it out and this week has been better.  I’m back down to 142.  My good friend sent me this article and I’ve discovered that I’m actually large boned.  According to this, my idea racing weight may be somewhere around 130-135 pounds.  (65 inches tall x 2 = 130 + 5 more for being big boned)  I don’t think I’ve seen a number on the scale below 140 in probably over 24 years and I have no idea how I’m ever going to get there.

I do know that on vacation next week that I will have some sugar.  I can’t go to Millennium and not try a dessert.  I’ll probably have some salt.  I’ll probably have a glass of wine and a craft beer and maybe even a mixed drink or two.   I might even have some meat.  (We’ll be with Ron’s family for some of the trip and I never want to be “that vegan person.”)  I am all about modeling a healthy lifestyle and not being so preachy preachy.

After vacation I plan on focusing on getting more protein after all my morning runs but still staying away from the sugar and oil.  I plan to stay away from drinking my calories (i.e. smoothies) and to try and stay away from too many grains.

My biggest commitment for after vacation is to go back to the track.  Ron at 50+ Runner does a track workout very often and he has inspired me to work my way back to 8×400’s.  I’ll still be in the middle of my 50 mile training after vacation and that plan calls for merely getting as many miles as possible under my feet.  But I can’t wait until after September 26th and my 50 miler.  I’m itching now to focus on speed.

Happy Running everyone.  I’ll post my San Francisco race recap as soon as possible after my return to NC in August.  I’m California bound in T-15 hours.