Sundays in Chelsea

Holy moly – has it been awhile or what?! I apologize for my absence, I know the world was quite effected by my lack of posts. I wanted to do a fun, picture based, post to get myself back into this thing! So as I have blogged & ranted about before, Sundays were always a bit of a rut. Well, now that I’m not a bobcat anymore (tear), I decided that my Sundays need to be productive & positive (or filled with mimosas & waffles)! Not to mention, I am currently living in New York City. There’s never not something to do. So sometimes Sundays are filled with brunch, grocery shopping or scoping out street markets. This sunday was filled with beautiful sunshine, some cardio and some cookies!

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Take a look at my adventure through my lovely neighborhood of Chelsea, as I run a long the chelsea piers, lay out a long the Hudson River, and take a bite out of somethings scrumptious!

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IMG_1172So – This was my Sunday! Grabbed some groceries on my way home and found some new almond butter to try! I am going to try to post more. I am cooking, but I am unfortunately not cooking anything recipe worthy – so those will be lacking! I am going to try to post about my adventures in NYC. Where I go, what I eat & what I see! Stay tuned 🙂

Yours Truly,

Stef

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Fashion Meets Fitness: Dark Knike feat. Nike

Colors are great, but sometimes black is just the answer. You have your girls who wear black when they’re bloated, black when they’re sad, or your girls who refuse to wear any black at all. Yes, black is a very dark and ominous color (I only use the word ominous because of the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall..). Black is also a slimming color when it comes to outfit choices. Some of us girls generally love to wear the color black all the time. I am one of them. One reason could be that my beloved yoga pants are always black, and what’s a better way to match them then with a black sports bra, black v-neck, black nikes, and a black beanie? (Say black again. Black.) Another point I’m trying to prove is that girls get lazy. Last minute night out with the girls? Nobody has time for MATCHING?! Please. Putting together an all black outfit not only takes minimal effort, but it’s most definitely always a win-win situation. Black on black is so chic, and I don’t think it will ever go out of style. That leads me to my first few looks that I’ve put together. Keep in mind, I’d almost never wear this outfit in public, but what high fashion looks would you ever wear out in public, anyway? My first step was to name these pieces Dark Knight. Then I looked at my merchandise and my title, and came up with…
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Pictured above is a look that is athletic, yet chic. Your Nike Dunk Sky Hi Women’s sneaker puts emphasis on the fact that no, you’re not about to go work out, you’re about the run the town. Nike’s Vintage Gym Shorts… wait did I just say vintage? Enough said. Adding a touch of old school to your outfit makes you go from Taylor Swift to Rihanna in two seconds. Nobody has time for the new stuff. Vintage is and always will be in. The Printed Nike Pro sports bra adds a little bit of a twist to things with it’s bold, yet subtle, pattern. And now we’re talking accessories. Walking out of the house and walking out of the house with sunglasses on is two completely different things. Another way to go from Taylor Swift, to Rihanna, in seconds. (Goin 0 to 60 in 3.5 …that Rihanna song, anyone?) Anyways, not only do the sunglasses physically add a sense of glam to your ever-so-simple outfit, but they mentally make you feel like the world is your oyster. If you’ve never put on a pair of sunglasses and instantly felt slightly more bad ass than before, you’re lying. Lastly, we have your Nike Jordan Jumpman Air hat. The great thing about wearing all black is that any color pop is dramatic, and we love dramatic. The red creates a dramatic effect. This is one color pop that does not calm the outfit down. Pairing red and black together is one of my favorite things to do, and that’s why I started with two outfits with such similar tastes.
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I’m looking at this outfit and I want it on my body right now. It’s so… Bronx meets Upper East Side. Am I right? You have your Marc by Marc Jacobs Baker Watch. All black watch? A must have. Your Black Spike Bracelet pretty much brings the outfit together and lets everyone know you mean business. From the gym, to the streets, it’s a statement piece. A long with your color pop item, your Nike and Jordan Beanie, which calms the outfit down to keep it casual. Your Nike Air Max’s aren’t just black. They glisten, and shine, like a new car. Your shoes are like your transportation, why not keep them as chic as possible. I paired the Nike Pro Capri Tights with the Nike Thre-D Tank and the Nike Compression Swoosh bra. All. Black. Everything. To emphasize the fancy Nike logo that everyone knows and loves.
To shop these items, simply click on the photographs above. Don’t forget, the color black does not have to promote all the negative. To me, wearing all black is a confidence statement. Here I am, not giving a crap, wearing all black, cause I can. It takes style to put together a chic all black outfit, though it does not take time. And that is why I love my beloved color black. Why do you love the color black?
Yours Truly,
Stef

Cookie Dough Quest Bar Cereal

If you haven’t realized, I’ve recently become an unofficial spokesperson for Quest Bars. I talk about them almost daily, I recommend them to those with a sweet tooth, and I just generally praise their existence. Almost as much as peanut butter, but that’s pushing it.

Okay, so Quest Bars are no chocolate lava cake, but they are the closest thing you will get to that while still keeping your diet clean. They don’t taste like any ordinary-100 ingredient list-high calorie-no protein-just carbs-diet bar. Each flavor tastes amazing, you almost feel like you’re cheating on your diet! But don’t worry, you’re not. Each Quest Bar has 160-190 calories, 4 net carbs, a ridiculous amount of fiber (rock on), and a weird amount of protein. Weird, as in freakin’ awesome, that is. Where does the protein come from? I’ll list the ingredients for the Cookie Dough Quest Bar, and then you’ll see.

-Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate)
-Isomalto-Oligosaccharides (100% Natural Prebiotic Fiber)
-Almonds
-Water
– Unsweetened Chocolate
-Cocoa Butter
-Erythritol

It may look like I skimped on the ingredient list, but I’ll give you some proof.

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The first time I heard about Quest Bars I could have sworn they were going to taste like plastic. I got a Cinnamon Roll Quest Bar and ate it. It was delicious, but I was still not THAT impressed. Why was everyone raving about them? I then realized that my quest bar was practically frozen, so it was a little harder than it should have been. I put it in the microwave, and it’s all a blur from there.

Quest Bar Nutrition’s instagram posts 15 second recipe videos, which can also be found on youtube. I want to start trying almost all of them! Which takes me to my first experiment. Quest Bar Cereal. Who doesn’t love cereal? The other day I saw someone eating Reeses Cereal and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. My inner fat girl was crying to come out. Anywho, this happened:

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-1 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Quest Bar
-1 Rice Cake
-1 Small Banana
-1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

The instructions are also very simple. Set your oven to 350 degrees. Cut your Quest Bar into tiny pieces. I’d say bite size but, I take big bites. I cut my quest bar into pieces the size of peanut M&M’s (yum). Lay your quest bar pieces on a cookie sheet, or a piece of tin foil (I didn’t feel like doing dishes). Once your oven is preheated, put your quest bar in your oven and set your timer for 4 MINUTES. No more, no less. Once that 4 minutes is up, take out your quest bar and “stir”. Put your quest bar back in the over for another 4 MINUTES. No more, no less. Once my four minutes were up I put my quest bar pieces directly in the freezer for another four minutes. I chopped up my rice cake into cereal-like pieces, cut up my banana, and took my Quest Bar Cereal out of the freezer and added it to the bowl! Add your milk and enjoy 🙂 

Yours Truly,

Stef

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For a video of how to do this, click here!

A Foodies Tour: Wilmington, North Carolina

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Last weekend I spent a WONDERFUL weekend in the beautiful town of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. My best friend Casey is a senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and a visit was long overdue! Casey is lucky enough to go to a beautiful school, surrounded by amazing places for food & drink, and not to mention, the beach! I thought it’d be fun to document as much of the food as possible! As many of you know, I’ve been trying to diet, but this was one trip I was willing to splurge for! Our friend, Jenna, goes to school at High Point University, so she came a long for the trip as well! Not only do the three of us love each other, but we love food. Casey, Jenna and I also have a love for natural foods. Farm to table restaurants are a favorite of ours. We love finding delicious restaurants where we know the food they are serving us are natural, organic, whole foods! Though we all love to splurge on lifes greatest temptations, like tequila shots and pizza, we are great at finding a balance between health and fun. Before I send you on this tour, I’d like to thank Casey for an AMAZING trip in Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. No wonder she never comes home to Maryland during breaks, I’d go back in a heart beat!

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Okay, I know what you guys are thinking. This looks disgusting… I know. I thought I’d include my last Tupperware meal before my flight to Wilmington. This was tuna with mustard and rice cakes. I love this meal, sue me.  After four hours of traveling, between two flights and layovers, I arrived in Wilmington starving! Luckily, Casey was also ready to smash some food, we chose sushi, white girl problems.

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A staple at any sushi restaurant is the Edamame. Extra salty, or no salt at all, edamame is delicious! I do have to say, the salt helps 🙂

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And welcome to sushi heaven. I thought I’ve enjoyed sushi before, but these rolls surpassed all expectations. I had to double up on Gluten & Dairy digestive enzymes, but luckily they provide Gluten Free Soy Sauce for rolls. No surprise here, Casey and I finished all three rolls. This usually isn’t such a challenge but these rolls were huge.

King Kong Roll

Red Snapper and Avocado Cooked Tempura Style, Topped with Spicy Tuna, Scallop, Crab, Crunchy, Scallion, Masago and Special Sauce

Ninja Roll

Tuna, Salmon & Avocado Topped with Scallop, Crab, Crunchy, Orange Sauce & Eel Sauce

Hurricane Roll

CA Tempura Roll Topped with Spicy Tuna, Scallion and Eel Sauce

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Epic Food Co. 

Epic Food Co. serves up a Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner menu. They serve flavorful dishes to fit your dietary needs, as there are many gluten free and vegan options. They have perfect portion sizes, and you leave feeling satisfied, not stuffed! There are many great things on the menu, a long with an option to make it “Your Way”. Casey and I chose to make our own fresh bowl!

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Caseys bowl consisted of Brown Rice, Chicken, Sprouts, Spinach, epic PICO, and veggie sauté. Casey chose the Avocado Chile Lime dressing as her sauce, on the side.

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My bowl consisted of Brown Rice, Chicken, Spinach, epic PICO, basil, and veggie sauté. I followed in Casey’s foot steps and got the Avocado Chile Lime dressing, on the side.

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Casey and I both got ourselves a side of freshly homemade sweet potato chips! I can’t explain how delicious these were, you’ll have to try them out for yourself.

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Epic does a great job in guaranteeing fresh ingredients and great service. They also include the nutritional values on the Epic menu, or the menu that is already created for you if you don’t choose to make it Your Way. The food tasted fresh and healthy, it was a delicious meal without the splurge! And well deserved after Casey and I hit the gym right before this meal 🙂

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After touring Wilmington & Wrightsville Beach for a bit, it was time to make dinner! We spent the day checking out local markets and picking up delicious ingredients for our homemade dinner we were planning that night! We picked up most of our ingredients at Trader Joes. Not to mention, my new favorite sparkling white wine! (I totally forget what it’s called, I’ll have to stalk Trader Joes next time)

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We made 1 pound of Gluten Free Brown Rice pasta!

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Mixed with 1 pound of White Ground Turkey meat! Seasoned with oregano, garlic, minced onion, italian seasoning, and salt and pepper!

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While that was cooking, we made a small antipasta to hold us over. I live for antipasta. Olives, salami, pepperoni, capicola. All that’s missing is cheese and crackers! Man, I miss mozzarella. #DairyFreeProblems

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Our pasta dish was amazing! The sauce we used was a Basil Marinara from Trader Joes. We had enough to hold us over, and then it was time to hit the town!

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Casey took us out to the beach bars for some drinks and yes, there was dancing! This lucky girl lives right near the beach, just over the bridge and down two blocks!

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We spent Saturday a little tired & drowsy, but we made it to the beach. It was a beautiful day, just not nice enough for bathing suits! After a long day of walking, beaching, and mostly napping, it was time to celebrate National Margarita Day! Casey works at On The Border and they were having $1 Margaritas! We started with happy hour there. Guacamole live was a necessity! We finished the night at Tower 7, Casey’s favorite place for Mexican food & Margaritas! I got the steak fajitas. We all cleared our plates and were home by 9 for a much needed nights sleep!

The Basics

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On Sunday, Jenna headed back to High Point University after a delicious brunch at The Basics. The Basics is in downtown Wilmington, which is an adorable and quant part of Wilmington! Casey got the Quiche special, which looked delicious!

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I got the Carolina Cobb Salad, without blue cheese. I saw someone eating this when I walked in and it looked so fresh so I had to get it!

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Jenna got the Spinach Feta Grill. I was so jealous! This meal was a thick cut toasted baguette with poached eggs, creamy spinach, artichoke and feta. Biscuit on the side, of course!

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We spent the next few hours at Port City Java, where scenes from We Are the Millers was filmed! Jenna left us to do homework. I, unfortunately, had a paper to write, and Casey had some exams to study for. After our homework was finished, we went on a run and got ready to go to the airport for my 5 o’clock flight back to Ohio!

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The struggle is usually so real at places like airports for people with “dietary needs” like me. Luckily, Wilmington had a local eatery right in it’s airport! The women who helped me explained where their meat was from, and that it had no fillers! I got a burger with onions and mushrooms over lettuce. I covered that thing in ketchup, as if we’re surprised.

I hope you enjoyed my food review on Wilmington & Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina! Stay tuned for a Foodies Tour of New York City after my trip this weekend!

Yours Truly,

Stef

Top of the Months Transformation: RJ Murray!

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Introducing: RJ Murray
I couldn’t think of a better person to be a part of my Top Transformation posts! RJ Murray and his family have been close family friends to us since I can remember, as they live right behind us! Our whole community is in awe of RJ’s transformation and are so proud of the athlete that he turned into while playing college football! RJ has always been a great, kind, and caring person, but it is amazing to see him grow into a healthier version of that! He was patient in his journey, as that six pack didn’t take a few months! Check out what RJ has to say about his journey, it is truly inspiring!
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Give me a brief summary of yourself and your journey.
My name is R.J. Murray and I’ve lived in Columbia, MD my whole life. I’ve always been on the bigger side and was honestly accepting of the fact up until college.  In high school, I continuously made excuses for myself saying that I was “big for football” or giving some other sport related justification as to why my weight was out of control.  At some point or another, I actually started believing my own excuses and completely let myself go.  Once college hit, athletics became a huge part of my life.  I played football for Salisbury University and the experience helped me drastically through the process of making a lifestyle change.  My senior year of high school I weighed nearly 260lbs with an outrageous BFP. (body fat percentage) After graduating high school in 2008, I decided it was time to make a change.  In a matter of 6 months in 2009, I lost nearly 60lbs of excess weight while adding a good deal of muscle.  That being said, a true transformation takes years – it takes much longer than 6 months and certainly doesn’t happen overnight.  I continued playing football, working out, conditioning, and most importantly – dieting to this day and have seen great results.
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What changes did you make to your diet in the beginning to get you where you are today?  And what does your current diet look like?
In the beginning, start slowly eliminating destructive habits and foods.  It should be easy to justify not eating out.  You’re not only getting healthier, but also saving money.  It’s important to make a plan.  Pick a diet and only buy what’s necessary for the week when you go to the grocery store.  This should also save you money by eliminating waste and unnecessary snack foods.  Just as in exercising, the results of dieting don’t show overnight.  It takes time – if it was easy we’d all look like Greg Plitt or Lazar Angelov. Put in the work, stay committed, and reap the results! 
My current diet:
Meal 1: 8 oz. griller sirloin steak, ½ cup dry oats ( ½ scoop whey protein, ½ banana, 1 tsp. coconut oil, 1 tbs peanut butter, 1 tsp. instant espresso, 1 tbs. cinnamon), ½ cup blueberries
Meal 2: 8oz baked/grilled chicken breast, ½ cup brown rice or 6oz (½) baked sweet potato, 1 cup steamed green beans, hot sauce
Meal 3: 1 scoop whey protein, ½ cup raw almonds
Meal 4: 8oz baked/grilled chicken breast, ½ cup brown rice or 6oz (½) baked sweet potato, 1 cup steamed green beans, hot sauce
Meal 5: 6oz broiled salmon, 1 cup green beans
Meal 6: (Pre-workout) 1 scoop whey protein, 1 banana
Meal 7: (Post-workout) 1 scoop whey protein, 1 cup dry oats or 1 scoop carbogain, 1 scoop glutamine, 1 scoop hydrolyzed BCAA’s.  45 minutes later: ½ lb. bison burger, 1 Ezekiel English muffin, 2 tbs. reduced sugar ketchup, 1 cup steamed broccoli.
Meal 8: 1 scoop whey protein, 8 egg whites, ¼ cup minced peppers and onions
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Rj’s new lifestyle had made him so much happier as a person. He looks forward to working out and it gives him goals for the day. It also has made him more organized. His ability to stay in control and stick to his diet is really inspiring. -Cara Murray
What were your goals?
Short term:  I wanted to be a better athlete.  I wanted to play football and be the best that I could be.
Long term:  I wanted to be healthy… I’m certainly not genetically gifted in the health and fitness department which makes working harder that much more important.  Working out is more than just enhancing appearance; it’s about living a healthy life.
What do you do for exercise?
I use a mix of weight training (power lifting/bodybuilding/crossfit), cardio/conditioning, and sports.
When did you decide to change your life and what motivated you the most?
As I mentioned in the summary, after graduating high school in 2008, I decided it was time to make a change.  In a matter of 6 months in 2009, I lost nearly 60lbs of excess weight while adding a good deal of muscle.  That being said, a true transformation takes years – it takes much longer than 6 months and certainly doesn’t happen overnight.  I continued playing football, working out, conditioning, and most importantly – dieting to this day and have seen great results.
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What is the best advice you can give to those who have similar goals (or personal goals in general) in mind?  What do you think is the main reason why some people find it so hard to reach goals such as the one you achieved?
Don’t make excuses for yourself.  If you want to see results, you have to put in the work. Nothing is more irritating than hearing someone say that “its genetics” or “it’s impossible.”  To be honest, either is an embarrassing lie.  The real reason is because you play x-box 6 hours a day, you and the guy at the drive-through window of Wendy’s are on a first name basis, and you’re lazy and uncommitted.  Get off your ass and do something… It doesn’t matter what; just get up and do something – anything.  Change your diet slowly.  Adjust your body to natural, wholesome foods and get rid of processed junk.  Stay on the outskirts of the grocery store and force yourself to work with the ingredients you find there.  If you don’t go through the aisles, the temptation won’t be there.  Every 3 or 4 weeks, change everything… workout routines, diet, etc.  Find what works for you and even when you find it, change it and come back to it… Introduce your body to new things.
What (and who) helped you the most through the process of bettering yourself?
When you’re in the process of making a serious lifestyle change, family and friends are always the first to support you.  Following suite, my family and friends were extremely supportive and helpful throughout the process.  That being said, when going through the process of turning a “health kick” into an actual life style it directly boils down to how interested you are in bettering yourself.  The support and help comes from your personal dedication, motivation, and discipline as the one experiencing the changes.  Use your support for yourself as a main source of motivation and feed from help and support that your friends and family give.  If I had to pick something that directly helped me the most, it would be football.  Playing football through high school; and more specifically, college, kept me active and focused.
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How has your life changed since you reached your goals?
Generally, I’m the same guy that I have always been… Obviously, there have been some physical changes such as energy levels and appearance; but the biggest change is the drive to wake up in the morning with a purpose. Always look to better yourself in every way possible.  This lesson extends further than just the weight room or football field but can be applied to every aspect of life whether it is work, hobbies, relationships, etc. Wake up with a purpose and be the best you can be!
What are you going to do (now that you’ve reached success) to maintain your progress?
If you keep the outlook that you never reach success and always strive to be better than you were the day before, you’ll never have the chance to settle.  Settling is one of the worst things you can do in any situation.  Always push yourself to the next level.  I plan on continuing weight training and conditioning as well as dieting appropriately to reach whatever goals I have at the time; waking up with a purpose and aiming to get better every single day.

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Yours Truly,

Stef

IIFYM, Eat Clean, Paleo – What’s Next?

I recently got a little made fun of for my “Clean Eating” mantra, which inspired me to briefly go over what it means to #eatclean. So there are a million different ways of eating out there, and I’ve tried a few of them.

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I started dieting with an IIFYM approach. At the time, I had no idea that I was even following this fad. For those of you who are out of the loop, IIFYM stands for If It Fits Your Macros. I don’t like to get all scientific, but this ones science. You need a caloric deficit, Calories in, calories out, yadda yadda… “science”. Anyways, IIFYM promotes flexible dieting. It is a GREAT approach for beginner dieters, and those who are just starting their journey towards awesomeness.  IIFYM was the main reason I was so successful with my weightloss journey. I counted my calories on an app called My Net Diary. In my About Me, I listed a few foods I ate that helped me get in the groove and drop a few pounds. Because I wasn’t completely restricted to chicken and broccoli, dieting became fun. I have undiagnosed OCD, and my diet was something I had complete control over, and I liked that. I fit Special K cereal into my diet, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a healthy serving of pasta and chicken for dinner, all as long as it fit into my available macronutrients! I was not limiting myself, but I was controlling my portions and measuring serving sizes to make sure I was on track. Paleo people cringe at the thought of IIFYM. That’s because it technically allows processed foods, dairy, gluten, anything and everything. If you really wanted, you could have a pop tart for dinner. If it fits your macros. Fitness competitors also use IIFYM to make “gains” in their off season. From my research (brought to you by Instagram, Twitter, etc), IIFYM seems to be commonly used by those with an already fast metabolism and those who are just discovering the calorie counting process and benefits of changing your diet. It seems that many people start with IIFYM, and move on to a cleaner diet eventually when they want to reach some serious goals. Though IIFYM is often abused, I have no negative thing to say about this diet strategy because it is all about what works for you. If Pop Tarts and Reeses get you to where you need to be, so be it.

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And this is where my thoughts collide. I’ve recently been trying to find a balance in my diet and mind about food. As I said before, I started with an IIFYM approach. Now, I often find myself cringing at the thought of processed foods. Not to mention, I am gluten and dairy intolerant, so IIFYM would make me just as limited. So yeah, you’re following science. You might be eating chicken and veggies for lunch, but Reeses and ice cream for dinner. Ah! Filling your body with chemicals you can’t even pronounce? You might be fitting in your calories, but your insides are not thanking you. There is actual research that proves that these foods are poisonous to your body. They are also very addictive, as well as chemically made. Not real food.

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So you opt for a bowl of cereal instead of a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Yeah, they might have the same macronutrients, but there are more cons than pros. One including, those processed foods increase your serotonin levels (I’m talkin’ science, people). Serotonin causes you to be drowsy, tired, and lazy. When I follow my #eatclean way of eating, which is as close to Paleo as possible, everything gets better. And yeah, I mean everything. I feel energized. My skin shines, my hair looks healthier, my thoughts are positive and clear, and my body just feels right. But also, who the hell can eat one serving of Reeses cereal without going for round two? Not me. Reeses are the bomb dot com. Anyways, what I was trying to mention in the top of this paragraph was that I’m trying not to be so gosh darn anal about what I put in  my body. Yes, it’ll help me in the long run, but sometimes you have to throw your chicken and broccoli out the window and stop at Taco Bell. Also, nobody wants to go out to eat with someone who isn’t going to eat. For example, Friday night we went to a Burlesque show at one of my favorite local restaurants, Jackie O’s. They have an unbelievable gluten free menu. I was wondering all week about what I was going to eat there, because I am really trying to follow my plan! There’s a difference between a healthy lifestyle and trying to lose weight. When you’re trying to lose weight, you can’t throw out your chicken and broccoli for Taco Bell. It is important to follow your diet to the best of your ability, your body will thank you later.

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I thought maybe I would just eat dinner before we went, but then I thought about how not fun it would be watching everybody chow down on pizza. They have burgers, so I ordered the morning burger, which is a burger with an egg on top! No bun, no cheese. And yeah, I ate the chips, thanks Chardonnay.

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Okay, back to clean eating. Clean eating doesn’t mean you spray your food with windex. Clean eating means you opt for food with as little ingredients as possible.

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I started getting into the #eatclean fad when Instagram became more popular. Sophomore year I would follow all these profiles with great clean eating recipes that looked delicious. I was in the dorms, so I started #eatingclean with the best of my ability. Our market at school sucked. There were no fresh fruits, veggies, or meats. So I bought what I could at the market and the rest at the grocery store. When I went to the dining hall, which wasn’t that often, I would get a salad or a deli sandwich on wheat bread. I was lucky if they had chicken and brown rice. In my dorm room I would have oatmeal for breakfast, or Smart Start cereal with added FiberOne cereal and fruit. I also got egg beaters and microwaved them with broccoli and would make sandwiches with those Whole Wheat Flat Out wraps and thins.  I was obsessed with Wasa Crackers and the Laughing Cow Cheese wedges. I would spread those on the Wasa crackers with some Deli Turkey meat and have a baggie of carrots and broccoli for lunch. My snacks were apples, veggies, bananas, or granola bars. I was trying to follow a low-fat diet at the time, so I didn’t have peanut butter as much. But when I did I would make peanut butter and banana sandwiches. For dinner I would have the One Minute Ready Rice cups, with microwavable chicken and veggies. I steamed my veggies by putting them in a microwavable bowl with water for about five minutes.

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My body slowly started craving more fresh foods, and by junior year I was in full force with my clean eating lifestyle. Not to mention, I actually had a kitchen to cook in. Perks. So I started really cooking for myself my junior year. Breakfast was omelets, with Feta cheese! (Oh how I miss cheese sometimes) Sometimes I just had oatmeal or yogurt with granola. That was before I got into putting protein in almost every meal. For instance, sometimes for dinner I’d have soup and salad. Sometimes the salad would have a protein in it, sometimes it wouldn’t. I still would enjoy a nice sandwich every now and then (I may or  may not have just started drooling because I really want a sandwich now, it’s the little things).  My junior year is also when I started getting a lot more into Crossfit and lifting. I was gaining a little muscle and getting stronger without even realizing it. I started researching how to eat for performance, and started eating like an athlete. For instance, I started making protein and vegetables my main focus, and keeping carbs involved for performance and recovery.

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Once I started noticing the gains I was making from Crossfit, I couldn’t stop! And that’s how I got into Paleo. Somehow, Crossfit and Paleo are paired up. After my research (also brought to you by Instagram, Twitter, etc) I now realize that most crossfit athletes don’t even eat a Paleo diet. Anyways, I grew a girl-crush on Juli Baurer’s PaleOMG website, and really thought Paleo would help me lose weight!

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You figure if you’re eating meats and veggies, nuts and seeds, fruit and fish, and healthy fats, you would lose weight, fast! Well I didn’t exactly lose weight. I’ve heard of many successful weightloss stories from the Paleo diet, but my results were not consistent and I learned that it was not for me. My body changed though. I realized what it actually felt like to be happy, mentally and physically. My physique changed. My booty lifted, my shoulders broadened. I started to actually look like I at least worked out from time to time. (Which is all why my diet is still mostly Paleo, anyway) Any fitness nerd has that goal in mind. You want everyone to see how hard you work, and your body is a reflection of that. I think that’s my biggest frustration with my body. I kill my workouts, but my stubborn body is not giving me the results I KNOW I can get. Hence my recent diet change. I’m putting everything I know that has worked together. Lifting, HIIT, Cardio, a clean diet, a meal plan, counting calories, and a few moderate treat meals here and there! I know that I have accomplished a lot, and I am more than proud of myself for doing so! I’m hopefully on the road to the body that I have worked so hard for.

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I know I’ve mentioned this a million times throughout my blog, but I can’t stress this enough. It’s not what you’re friends are doing, not what your instagram idol is doing, and sometimes… it’s not even 100% what your nutritionist is telling you to do. It’s what works for you. You have to be well rounded. You aren’t going to get anywhere by depriving yourself, but you also aren’t going to get anywhere by constantly rewarding yourself with food. I’ve shot and missed a million times, and eventually you start knowing your body better than any advice column can tell you.

Yours Truly,

Stef

Mushroom & Basil Turkey Muffins – Simple & Healthy!

Plain ground turkey meat is not all that appetizing. What makes it so delicious is the seasonings, flavors, and salt that you can add to it! But what do you do if you’re like me and you’re trying to keep your salt to a minimum and your diet as clean as possible (without going stir crazy)? So I’ve been following a very strict “plan” and am ready to experiment just how strict I can stay while still adding loads of flavor. Below is the ingredients & cooking instructions for my delicious mushroom and basil turkey muffins! Before you scroll down, keep in mind this was during one of my cooking binges. Anyone else go on cooking binges? I was bored, in general and with my diet, so all of the sudden I cooked up everything I just bought at the grocery store into three GREAT dishes, this one included, that I will be sharing with you all! When I go on these cooking “binges”, I typically just eye everything. I have become very good at eye-ing ingredients, so don’t be worried – you can trust me.

Mushroom & Basil Turkey Muffins!

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Approx. 1 pound Ground Turkey Meat
2 cups cut up Mushrooms

Mrs. Dash Italian Medley Seasoning
Lemon Juice
Basil

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Combine all ingredients into a bowl (or your meat container, I honestly just didn’t want to do dishes). This is where eye-ing your ingredients comes in handy. Do you want the flavor overloaded with Basil? Go ahead, girl, sprinkle as much as you want! The same goes for the lemon juice and italian medley seasoning. (I know I said “girl” but, dudes can make this recipe too, in case you were wondering)

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Mush (professional cooking terms) your ingredients together until everything looks portioned. This is a good time to decide if you need to add more basil, lemon juice, or Mrs. Dash.

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Portion your “mush” into muffin tins. Mine fit perfectly into six muffin cups! (Don’t forget to use Pam!)
Cook on 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes! Cooking time may vary, as my oven is pretty strong.

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To make sure they are done, place your fork in them, if they slide right out and are nice and firm – they are finished! If not, put them in for another 5 minutes.

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Makes 3 Servings
Serving Size: 4 oz (two muffins)
Approx. 170 Calories, 9 g Fat, 1 Carb, 23 g Protein

You really can’t go wrong with this recipe! If you prefer ground beef, go for it! These muffins are great on-the-go and portioned perfectly! For all of you heavy lifters, all six of these muffins may be your whole dinner. For some, two muffins is just enough! I ate my portion with 1/2 cup Brown Rice and 2 cups of broccoli. Hash tag eat clean, hash tag meat for dayz.

Yours Truly,

Stef