Wednesday, February 10, 2016

More Key Tips and Tricks...

My previous post discussed a few of my favorite tips and tricks I've learned so far on this fit journey....
And I've got a few more right here. If you're interested... read on!

We left off with me sharing about my favorite snacks.
This right here is my current obsessive snack... the snack that I currently love and crave.... the snack I need all my will power to curb myself from snarfing the whole entire bag...

A photo posted by Amy Wagner (@amyrwags) on

Until December, I wasn't a lover of caramel popcorn. I mean, if it was there- sitting out for all to nibble on, I'd eat it but I never ever craved it. This stuff right here... Oh, I crave it. It's from Aldi and I have an open bag and a back up bag on hand pretty much at all times. Sigh. Good news is-- compared to what I use to snack on this is better (130 calories for .8 cup serving). The problem is stopping at just one serving. I've taken to measuring out a single serving into a pretty bowl and just taking my time enjoying it. What can I say? I'm a visual person and the pretty bowl just helps.

Fit Recipes-- I'm going to say this right now- I'm scared of fit recipes. Yep. I'm frightened of putting time and effort and extra money into making something that tastes like paste or has the texture of cardboard. Fit and healthy recipes....these are muddy waters. So I dip in here lightly and check ingredients and prices and such. So far we have about four really great "keeper" recipes. My favorite sources at this point- Dashing Dish and Chocolate Covered Katie. Katie's cookie dough dip was my very first try and I was so excited that it was a hit. We love it! And Dashing Dish's Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingerbread Crust.... oh my word is this over-the-top, amazingly delicious. We made it for my birthday cake. It is heavenly and only 185 calories a slice. Oh yes!
There have also been some duds. The skinny coffee creamers- blech. The smoothie that was suppose to taste like a shamrock shake... not even close. Verdict? I'll keep trying recipes that look appealing and don't require three or more different types of flour. There always has to be a level of experimentation I think. It keeps things interesting.

I've introduced a few new fish recipes into our menu plan and have tried substituting ground turkey for hamburger... my people can tell, y'all. They know the difference. And they don't like it. So I've taken to either going halfsies between the two or only using the turkey in meals that have lots of extra flavor and spices. We've cut down on how much salt and butter we use and our new favorite side dish is steamed broccoli drizzled with fractionated coconut oil and topped with a couple pinches of pink sea salt. 
We love our carbs here at the farm so my go-to is taking a smaller portion of the carb and a double portion of the veggies. And I give myself permission every so often to make my own little healthy meal separate from what everyone else is eating if I really need it.

Water-- We all know the key to good health is lots and lots and lots of water. And sometimes it's hard or sometimes it just gets plain boring to keep drinking water and water and water and more water. First thing I did- buy myself new water bottles. Not just one bottle. Get at least three. For when you set them down and don't remember where, leave one in the car or worse at a friend's house. Get yourself a pretty one, a fun one, a glass one. Glass water bottles are my fave because my next trick for drinking more water is this-- put fruit in it. I love frozen strawberries, oranges and peaches in my water. Flavor it up! Or I use essential oils (lemon, grapefruit, lime- any citrus is my fave)- one to two drops per 20 oz of water is all you need. You must use glass water bottles (my favorite is pictured above) when adding fruit or essential oils to your water because otherwise the acids will eat away at a plastic water bottle.
Back in September a friend gifted me with a six pack of flavored water- zero calorie, black cherry flavored... extremely delicious. This was the first time I'd ever had flavored bottled water. This stuff is GOOD! And when I found that my favoritest grocery store ever- Aldi, carried their own brand of flavored water, I was all about that stuff.
By the way- peach is my favoritest favorite of all. And ZERO calories people.
Now, it's not exactly frugal (ahem) but if it gets me drinking more water, I'm doing it.

Grace days not cheat days-- One final thing about food. We all know the phrase- "moderation is key". I agree- it's very true. But if you find that just one bite or half your normal portion isn't enough and you're going for more... than that's a food you need to stay away from for awhile until you learn to control your impulses. There's another two word phrase kicked around in fitness circles- cheat meals or cheat days. I don't agree. Calling it a cheat meal or a cheat day has negative implications. Like you can't "win" without cheating. I decided right away that there weren't going to be cheat meals or cheat days. And I decided I wasn't going to deny myself for days on end to "store up" calories so that I could binge/cheat for one whole day. In my opinion, that really does a number on your fit journey and it's really one temporary satisfaction.
So what do I believe?
I believe in Grace Meals and Grace Days. I believe in daily striving to eat healthy, balanced meals and every so often giving yourself a bit of grace to eat something you crave that isn't quite so healthy. Just as I believed in walking in order to run, I believe in allowing myself to eat foods I enjoy, with grace and dignity. No hiding behind the fridge door to wolf down a piece of pie when no one's looking. Nope. If I want that piece of pie, I put it on a pretty plate and sit down and eat it. The key is to limit your amount of grace days/grace meals. You don't get a grace meal every day. And maybe you don't get a grace day every week. If my fit journey hinges on one meal or one day of clean eating.... I'm not doing it right and I'd question my motives. This journey is about learning to deny myself, yes.... but not martyr myself. There's a slight difference between the two. You martyr yourself too often and you'll give up, because it's just too hard. You give yourself grace and enjoy that slice of pie or that burger and fries and you smile as you really truly savor every bite. It's okay. 
I can't stress enough how key the concept of grace days has been to my fit journey. Giving myself permission to rest and not exercise, giving myself permission to eat a food I love or a meal I crave... makes it, in my mind, a bit easier to face that tough workout the next day... and own it!

Running Shoes-- Reader, if you're going to run, you can't run in your every day errand running shoes. Believe me, your feet, your knees, your back will thank you when you take the time and spend the money to get professionally fitted for some kickin' new sneaks. And be prepared friend, they'll cost you. $$$ But the cost will be soooooo worth it. My running shoes are the most expensive pair of shoes I own. And I love them. They made quite the difference in how I run and how I feel after a run. I care for them like a baseball player takes care of his glove. I spent my first two months running using my every day shoes that I'd had for almost two years. And I got shin splints and my hip hurt and my knee hurt....
I went and got professionally fitted for my new kicks and I haven't had a shin splint or lower back pain since. Sold.
[Note: replace your running shoes when you've put 300-500 miles on them.]

Workout Clothes-- I'm a girl. I like pretty things. Ergo when I decided that this working out/running thing was really real, I gave myself permission to get some cute gear that fit. I started out with stuff from Meijer and Walmart and I still have some of it. Moisture-wicking, dry feel fabric is glorious. Seriously. Get you some! Dry-wicking over cotton every day!
And when it comes to training/running in colder temps.... I'm an Under Armour Cold Gear Girl. Oh yes. I love this stuff. I also use it for my base layer for going out in the winter- be it snowshoeing or sledding. UA Cold gear is cozy dreamy.
And do I need to mention the necessity of a good sports bra? Yes, it is straight up, completely necessary. Get two. Or four if you find the cute ones. And again- go for the dry-wicking material.

Whew! That's a lot of info to be sharing! Thanks for sticking it out.... And I'm not quite done. Sorry. I want to mention one more thing that's been key for me.... 

Getting rid of my clothes as they've gotten too big for me. As in pack them up and take them to Goodwill. Pronto. If you think you need to keep them, you're already doing some harm to your fit journey by creating for yourself a back door/back up plan (In my opinion). 
I don't want to wear ill-fitting clothes. That's what got me started on this journey to begin with! If you're afraid to part with something because of cost- check into consignment sales. There's tons of little upscale resale boutiques out there and some pay cash money up front for your gently used clothes (which you can then use to purchase some new-to-you duds that fit great).
Personally, having to purchase an entire new wardrobe has been intimidating, fun and rewarding... and a bit expensive. Especially for a mama that hasn't really been spending the clothing budget on herself these last several years.... ahem. The expense part of the equation helps me to really be mindful of what I'm buying and has shown me that I can put myself together with a few key, well made pieces. Another bonus- more room in the family closet as my clothes take up half the room they once did.
There is always a blessing!

Previous Post in the Fit Journey Series: Key Tips & Tricks I've learned on this Fit Journey
The first post... where I started sharing it all: The Biggest Brave in My Year


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