Food for Fuel and Pleasure

Six months of nutrition coaching ended recently and what I learned was not what I expected at all. I thought sharing it would be a good thing to do because my experience goes a long way to show how every body is different. Although I didn’t get the end result I expected, it was worth all the effort and expense. Here are the big takeaways.

I learned what my body needs to feel satisfied, and it wasn’t what I expected.

I learned to substitute some of my favorite things for healthier versions. I grew to love sweet potato fries instead of french fries. And gluten free pumpkin spice scones are in constant rotation now. After months of not eating gluten or white sugar, my sweet cravings can be satisfied with good quality dark chocolate. Once my taste buds adjusted to a different palate, it was whole new world of taste. Berries never tasted so sweet! I learned to listen to what my body was telling me to eat, too. When I was feeling a little anemic, I’d crave foods high in iron. I learned to listen to what my body was telling me it needed.

I learned that because of how my body is, it’s kind of a choice between ideal blood sugar levels and feeling hungry all the time

This was the biggest surprise. The learning of this was not pleasant. There was one week that I did a very strict paleo diet and in that week I lost seven pounds (I’d already lost nine by that point) and I was hungry the entire week. Of course, my blood sugar numbers were perfect during that time. The desire to not be hangry is preferable to having excellent blood sugars. At least, if I want to remain married and have friends.

I learned how to achieve and happy medium between food for fuel and food for pleasure.

Most days are far from perfect. I’ve rolled back the program because I understand now that a strict paleo diet is not sustainable for me for the long-term. It was the process of food journaling really that helped me understand my cravings and where they come from. My nutritionist taught me some coping strategies which are incredibly helpful. Learning to reward myself with other things instead of food treats, things like self care time and pampering, taught me a much healthier way to deal with my emotional eating.

 

Going on this six month journey was an invaluable thing for me to learn more about my blood sugar levels.The interacction between food and all other aspects of our lives is incredible. I feel more armed than ever to make the best food choices for me!

Recipe Box – Thanksgiving Bone Broth

Did you save the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving promising yourself you’d be all Food Network-y and do something with it? Maybe you thought you’d make stock, or even try jumping on the bone broth bandwagon if you haven’t already. Guess what?! ME TOO!  But why bone broth, specifically? Bone broth is special because the process of making it extracts the collagen in the carcass and collagen helps to heal all kinds of your parts. Parts like your intestines and joints, and it makes a great, easy breakfast, especially on cold winter mornings.

I’ve been on this wagon for a few months and I’ve gotten a bit bored with my standard recipe. I was super excited to have a turkey carcass to use and to mix it up with some fresh herbs. The carcass was so big (we had a 17.75 pound bird) that it made two batches of bone broth. Don’t forget the apple cider vinegar. The vinegar is the magic ingredient that pulls all the good stuff from the bones.

Reuse glass bottles for the perfect fast breakfast or recovery drink. Reheat for 2 minutes and BOOM!

I do use a six quart Instant Pot when I make bone broth because the stove top or Crock Pot method takes twelve hours for poultry based bone broth. The long cooking time is needed to extract all the collagen, and having a gas stove burner on for twelve hours makes me nervous. Instant Pot to the rescue! This method only takes two hours.  If you’re using the stove top or a Crock Pot, follow all assembly instructions and cook for twelve hours minimum.

Thanksgiving Bone Broth

  • Turkey carcass, cut into pieces so it will fit in your pot
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Smashed
  • Sage, Fresh
  • Thyme, Fresh
  • 1/2 Onion including skin
  • 3 Large Carrots cut to fit in pot
  • 2 Stalks of Celery cut to fit in pot
  • Mushrooms, handful
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Water

Add carcass to pot first, then add all other ingredients, adding the apple cider vinegar last. If using an Instant Pot, fill it with water to the max fill line. Lock the lid in place, select “Pressure Cook” and , and set the timer for 2 hours.

If using a pot or Crock Pot, leave two inches of water below top of pot and watch pot throughout cooking, you may need to add water as it evaporates. Cook for twelve hours minimum.

After your broth is done, you’ll need to strain it. All you want is the liquid. Once my Instant Pot is cool enough to handle, I nest a colander in a metal mixing bowl, and use a slotted spatula to remove the large bits of bones, veg, and meat from the pot. Once I’ve gotten most of that removed, I nest a fine sieve inside another large bowl, then pour the broth through the sieve to strain the broth of smaller bits. The next step is to pour the strained broth into a fat separator. If you don’t have one of those, you can spoon off the fat sitting on top of the broth once it separates. With my separator, I can pour off the fat.  I toss the bones and veg in the trash and add whatever is at the bottom of that bowl to the strained broth. Then, I pour my broth into 12 oz mason jars. (There is a lot of pouring going on).

This turkey version is tasty, and I’ll be sure to put the carcasses from my husband’s meat smoking experiments into future recipes. Bone broth has become a routine part of my mornings. I appreciate its unassuming gentleness and subtle healing properties.

On Wednesdays We Do Wellness

Every Wednesday, I tag up with my nutritionist, Dr. Kyle. I’m at the midway point in her six-month wellness program and now is a great time to check in and share what’s working, and what’s been challenging.

The hardest thing so far is a lack of variety in my diet. I’ve always been on the picky side of eating, and veggies were not my favorite things. That’s all still true. If I eat hummus and carrots again for lunch I. Will. Scream. The solution here is to experiment more with new recipes. I admit I’m not a great cook so this one scares me a bit, but onward I must go.

Cutting out sweets has also been hard, but has gotten easier over time. Instead of craving the triple chocolate layer cake, I’m going for pumpkin spice scones. I’ve swapped out ice cream for vanilla honey Greek yogurt. Things like cheesecake and Starbucks drinks are WAY too sweet and I can’t eat them anymore. Sadly, my sweet tooth is still not satisfied and temptation is hard to fight. My solution here is to try my hand at paleo baking and treat-making. Wish me luck!

Part of the Wellness journey with Dr. Kyle is to learn how to do self-care right. Making time for myself has become a priority instead of a luxury. When I make time for self-care, I find I don’t need or crave the bad foods, like baked goods and candy, as much. I’m being fulfilled in other ways, whether that’s reading a book for fun, painting my nails, or taking a bubble bath, my soul is getting time to rejuvenate as opposed to my seeking refuge in sweets only to still feel depleted of energy. I’m loving this new perspective.

This might be my favorite place in my new house.

The best thing by far about this whole journey is the fact that I’ve lost 7 pounds. Once I cut refined sugar and gluten almost completely from my diet, the pounds fell away. My clothes are fitting better, and I’m able to squeeze into pants I wasn’t able to before. It feels great!

The goal with starting this journey was to learn how to eat properly to avoid diabetes. My blood sugar levels were high and I really don’t want diabetes. Since I’ve changed my diet, my sugars have dropped from consistently between 130 – 150 to 95 – 115. While I’m not at my target of 60-90, I’m getting closer and that is a huge win.

I’ve learned tht it’s not an all or ohiotng game, either. I’m shooitng for 80/20 where 20% of my calorie intake a week is sugar and complex carbs. While it seems like a big number on the healthy side, I’m learning it’s totally doable!

What’s your favorite self-care activity? DO you have any paleo recipes for me? Extra credit if they are Instant Pot friendly!

You Really Should (read) “Eat Dirt”

I’m back today sharing more stuff from my nutritionist, Dr. Kyle, who is amazing. A few weeks back, she recommended I read a book called “Eat Dirt” by Dr. Josh Axe. I don’t have a lot of time for reading actual paper books, but I was able to download an audio version on Hoopla for free. I can’t recommend this book enough, it’s shifting my whole perspective on food!

 

I know, leaky gut is super gross sounding. It wasn’t a term I’d heard before either. I remembered my chiropractor recently told me he suspected I had this condition and prescribed me supplements or it. After learning more about the the symptoms, I quickly realized that he was likely correct. If you don’t know what it is, let me *try* to summarize in a sentence: leaky gut is a condition of the small intestine where nasty food molecules (sugar, fat, gluten, additives, chemicals) escape the intestine because the  lining is weak, or “leaking”. I know. Gross. But Dr. Axe explains how this can contribute all kinds of diseases including diabetes, MS, heart disease and cancer. It was a wake up call for sure!

Things I’m giving up. ;’-(.

Now, I understand WHY sugar and gluten are bad. I mean, we know at some level these things aren’t great for us, but unless you’re a doctor or nutritionist, most of us don’t understand the negative impacts of these foods at a cellular level. Dr. Axe’s explanations made sense, but I didn’t feel judged or preached at as I listened. Plus, his voice is kinda dreamy, so that helps a lot.

What surprised me the most is how this book is making me gross out on things I used to love. Just knowing what this stuff does to my body is making me not want to eat it. When I do indulge, the knowledge of what I’m doing to myself seeps in, and makes me want that donut even less next time.

I learned that sugar and gluten actually play mind tricks with you and control your emotions around food as well as cravings. I don’t like being controlled by things outside of my…control. This was the key to when I quit smoking, too. I knew that all the extra chemicals tobacco companies add to their product are intended to make me more  addicted. Frankly, that pissed me off! No one controls me! Understanding this is how sugar and gluten control me has made me want to pass on things like pizza, bread, and ice cream. Although I do miss ice cream.

Things I’m trying to eat more of.

Some of it was a little woo-woo for me, but it still made some sense, and seriously can’t hurt me. With Dr. Kyle’s guidance and a new focus on a paleo diet, I’m already feeling so many benefits, most of which are mental. I found my scale while I was unpacking this weekend, and was happy to see I’d lost four pounds by just altering my diet to reduce sugar, carbs, and gluten. I can’t wait to share more recipes over the next few months. Let me see your favorites, too!

 

Recipe Box – Paleo Chicken & Mushroom Skillet

Since seeing a nutritionist, I’ve been told to start eating a Paleo diet. While giving up carbs and sugar is the hardest thing I’ve ever quit aside from smoking,  it has forced me to expand my palette which is a great thing.  I’m eating things I never did before! Things like English cucumbers, raw red peppers, and mushrooms. .  Also, the only real method of cooking I have available to me at the moment is my electric skillet. Therefore, meals must be two things: paleo, and able to cook in one pan. So when I stumbled across this recipe for Paleo Chicken and Mushroom Skillet, I was stoked to try it.  We paired it with a Seeds of Change Brown Rice & Quinoa packet, and a fresh, sliced cucumber. We yum-yummed the shiz out of this dish! My husband and I loved it.

 

Photo credit goes to I Breathe, I’m Hungry as I completely forgot to snap photos while I was cooking. Totally typical of me.

 

This recipe comes from the food blog I Breathe, I’m Hungry which offers low carb, keto, paleo, and gluten-free recipes.  I just discovered this blog, but if this recipe is any indication of the yumminess of her cuisine, I’ll be back for sure!

3 Things I Learned From Food Journaling

What is food journaling? Of course, it’s logging what you eat each day, but I learned recently that it’s so much more than that. Since starting a food journal under the direction of a nutritionist, I’ve learned so much about myself and my psychology around food. Today, I want to share with you why food journaling is so helpful. You might have wondered if you should do it and what makes it a useful tool on the path to a healthy lifestyle.  Here’s what I’ve learned.

Checking in with my Nutritionist, Dr. Kyle, at Alpine Fit

It’s not about the food as much as it is your feelings about food. Not only do I track what I eat, I track my cravings, too. Tracking when I crave sweet things, salty things, crunchy things–basically any craving–gave me insights into what was really triggering the craving. Was it PMS? Sometimes. Was it more about external factors that influence poor food choices? Absolutely! For example the other day, it was as cold as the South Pole in my office because it’s August and office air conditioning.  You know of what I speak. Around the time I noticed the chill, I wanted a cup of tea. Then I asked myself what is it my body needs right now? It actually wasn’t the tea itself, I just wanted to be warm. Previously, I would have just made a cup of tea with 2 tsp of sugar and not given it a thought. Being aware and asking myself to take a deeper look at the craving helped me identify the ingrained food response that doesn’t serve my health goals. Instead of a cup of tea, I put on a sweater. Craving gone!

One pot meals are my secret lover.

Journaling helped me identify destructive food behaviors so I could change them. My Nutritionist is urging me to be more mindful when I eat, to take time to savor and enjoy, to be grateful for and to take pleasure in eating. While food journaling one day, I had a major epiphany about why it’s so hard for me to be mindful when I eat. It goes back to a traumatic experience with my abusive dad when I was about four years old. He thought I was eating too slow, and forced me to get my next bite of food ready on my fork before I’d swallowed what I was chewing. There was yelling and screaming involved, and it was so strongly ingrained in me to shovel food in my mouth as fast as possible that the idea of “mindful eating” was completely foreign to me. Having this realization has allowed me to be aware of the behavior and understand where it originated. That space for recognition helps me allow myself the time to correct myself and slow down  without feeling guilty.

Journaling Helped me recognize when I actually need chocolate versus when I really just need time for selfcare. I’m an introvert, which is becoming a more accepted thing these days. (BIG YAY!!) I’ve always known I needed time alone to refill my cup so I can pour out for others. If I don’t get that time, I get grumpy. Irritable. Easily annoyed. Basically…plain bitchy. But since I’ve been living in a 10 x 12 foot shack with my husband since January, alone time is nearly non-existent. So last week when I was really craving a slice of cheesecake or a brownie, I had another epiphany! I asked myself the golden question; what is it my body actually needs right now? The ah-ha moment was the realization that when I don’t get my alone time for selfcare, I substitute with sweets and carbs. The sugar gives me the endorphin rush to feel good and relax a little, something I would normally get from a nice bath. Instead of eating something I shouldn’t, my nutritionist redirected me to take a five-minute meditation break, do some breathing exercises, or go for a quick walk. I recognize now when I feel that craving coming on that what I really need is 5-10 minutes of selfcare to give my mind what it needs, not what my body *thinks* will help.

I’ve only been food journaling for a month, but I’m excited to keep it going and see what else I learn about myself. I’ts been a big eye-opener!

 

Have you ever journaled your food? What take-aways did you glean from the experience?

Snaaaaaacks

Hey, I’m Ashley and I love food. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me in real life, follows me on any type of social media, or if you have read any of my other posts.

Crunchy things are my weakness. Ice cream is my soulmate. Pizza is my best friend.

You get the picture, right?

How did the internet get this footage of me?

It’s so easy to sit on the couch and grab a bag of chips or popcorn and just munch away, not worried about portion size or calories. I’m guilty of it, even as I’ve been trying to be on this “healthy lifestyle”. I can often be found sneaky chips and crackers and other delicious things late at night knowing the only person I’m actually hiding from is myself. It’s ridiculous!

Lately I’ve been trying SO HARD to do better with my eating habits. It’s definitely working, but not without a little change in my thinking. This definitely includes snacks.

Instead of grabbing chips or something salty, I’ve been binging on fruits and veggies. Of course, sometimes you need a little bit more to go with those fruits and veggies…because that stuff gets boring real fast.

I’m obsessed with this little cuties. The amount of them I eat might be embarrassing if they weren’t so delicious.

I’ve been toying around with Greek yogurt (yuck) and have found that it’s tolerable when I put a lot of different stuff in it. It might sound crazy, and you’re probably thinking why don’t I just eat stuff I like? Well, I’m trying very hard to stick to my plan, so that means I need to get creative.

These three things and a dash of cinnamon…

…make for a delicious fruit dip!

 

Greek yogurt is a great breakfast food time. Of course, I like to mix in bananas, cocoa powder, and sometimes even a little natural sweetener because it isn’t something I can eat by itself. For veggies, I use the yogurt and a packet of ranch season to make a super light dip. So many things to do with it!

You might be able to guess by now that I also love dips of all kinds. Hummus and carrot sticks, crackers, or cucumbers is always filling… BUT, WAIT.

Did y’all know that chocolate hummus is a thing? Because it is and it ain’t half bad.

Get on this.

These are just a few things that I’m obsessed with right now. Also: mushy bananas because those are the best.

And coffee.

Is coffee a snack?

Anyway, if you have any tips or delicious treats you love, let me know! I’m always on the lookout for new things!

Vacation Motivation

Spring Break, 2018! Woohoo!

Just kidding, I’m old and tired.

Okay, but really. Spring Break is something teachers start counting down to the moment we come back from Winter Break. It’s a time to relax and prep for whatever the rest of the year throws our way.

I’m not good at relaxing, however. I volunteered for a three day tutoring camp for the first part of break and then my family and I are taking a trip to Disney! (As I’m writing this it’s Wednesday night and it’s scheduled to post on Friday. I’m being proactive here.)

So, why am I telling you about my non-existent break? I posted a couple of weeks ago about being on the struggle bus for motivation. I was at a point where I was just feeling…blah. I wasn’t happy with the way I looked in clothes or pictures. I wasn’t feeling good about some things.

Since then I’ve been doing well getting my eating on track and working out. Every. Dang. Day. I’m currently on a ten day streak. (Yay, me.) Even being on Spring Break I’ve managed to workout and eat right-ish. I went out to eat twice and to a movie, so it definitely hasn’t been easy. I just really, really love food!

Not being at home is the hardest when you’re trying to stick with a plan. What I learned about staying on track while being at work is to be consistent and intentional. I intentionally made my lunches everyday, planning what my meals and snacks were and it worked. The same with keeping up with workouts. My sister went to school to be a personal trainer so on days I didn’t run she came up with some great things for me.

Thursday we’re leaving for a few days in Disney, so I’m planning an AM workout before we leave. In the meantime, I’ve also planned all of my snacks for park days so I don’t end up eating all the Mickey Bars, Mickey Pretzels, churros, popcorn…wait, where was I?

Right. Snacks.

Crunchy snacks on my true love. I also threw in some fruit. Whatever.

We visit parks enough that I know hydration is ALWAYS a key. No matter if the weather is supposed to be cool. I always carry my own water bottle. LOOK, MER – RAVENCLAW.

Aside from being prepared with snacks and water, I’ve also actually packed WORKOUT CLOTHES. I’m being “intentional” with bringing clothes and I really hope that I don’t fail on this part. I know I’m going to walking all the days I’m there so I won’t not be moving, but running and working out have become important to me. I don’t want to let myself down.

 

All the Skirt Sports! (And Stella the kitten, but she can’t go.)

I know I’m not going to have a perfect week, but I can’t resist delicious things. Vacations are for indulging a little, but I know (hopefully) I’m on the right track right now.

One thing I know I’m going to indulge in is a Butterbeer when I get to see Mer at Universal on Sunday.

Okay, and maybe a Mickey Bar.

Back to the Grind

Okay. If you read my post about my Princess training fail and now you’re reading this one you might be thinking that I’m really bad at fitness. And commitment. And also staying on track with things.

Well, you’d be totally right about all of that! Life gets busy and I struggle to stay on track. Every. Single. Day. (As I write this I’m eating my last two Tagalongs.)

Health and fitness have been a huge focus in my life for a few years now. It started with healthy eating: changing habits, making better choices, more fruits and veggies. There are those things we should be doing but often forget to do.

I started running when I turned 30. I’d never been very athletic. I played sports when I was a kid but wasn’t very good at it. In high school I joined the cross country team for a season because a friend wanted me to. I hated running, so I’m not really sure why I thought I’d pick it up fifteen years later.

Running led to other fitness endeavors and I found myself in the best shape I’d been in for a long time.

Until lately, that is.

I’ve been on the struggle bus health and fitness wise since about September. Hurricane Irma caused a lot of problems down here in Southwest Florida, and not all of them were from the weather. I’m a nervous/anxious eater. I eat when I’m bored. Y’all. I just love food, okay? Being off of work and worried about friends and family was not good for me. After the storm things just went downhill from there. The holidays came, stress at work comes and goes, and I am just…tired.

Lately I’ve been looking for some motivation. I started a Facebook group with a few friends to keep us accountable for working out and being healthy because I thought it would help me if I were helping others. It worked for a while, but I’ve been slacking on it.

It’s hard to find the motivation to “get up and go” sometimes. Sometimes the couch is just much more fun than going to the gym, or out for a run or walk. Often times it’s easier to make and unhealthy meal choice than to take the time to cook something good and good for you. I’ve even started a Pinterest board to keep track of some at home workouts I can do. I’m really good at Pinning. Not so good at the working out just yet.

Talking to friends, it feels like we’re all in the same boat. We don’t like how we look in photos, how are clothes fit, and why are we so tired? Because we aren’t taking care of our bodies the way we’re supposed to be! Since becoming a Skirt Sports Ambassador I’ve met (online) so many amazing women. I see their posts every single day and I’m always amazing at what people can do. They motivate me each and every day with their pictures, videos, and words. That’s what I need and want. That’s what I hope to do for others one day.

Excuses are easy to come by, too. I’ve just written a ton of them! I’m definitely ready to get back to it, though. A lot of the times I am awed at the things my body can do, but I’m also always looking at ways to better myself- inside and out. As I write this it’s only Tuesday, but I’m feeling pretty good about this week. It’s already a busy one but I’m on track with eating healthy and working out. I mean, a little bit. Rome wasn’t built in a day, okay?

I just really like naps. 

If you have any tips on how to get motivated drop them below or hit me up on Twitter @thisgirlash_!