Advertisements

Finding the balance of physical and mental health through adventures and fitness

Recipe: Stove-top Gingerbread Oats

Insert winter/holiday season pun/quote here.

I’ve probably consumed more pumpkin foods than I should’ve this fall, and now I’ve been turning to gingerbread and mint. As my adventure through my Pinterest pins continues, I’ve been trying to see how I can utilize my baking pantry in other ways that cookies and muffins.

I had found a few pins for gingerbread oats, but many had barely any oats and they were loaded with sugar. You can make good, sweet oats, without loading them with sugars or carbohydrates that won’t provide satisfaction.

So if you don’t mind stove top and you have about 5 minutes or so, this recipe may put you in a mood that satisfies the desire for gingerbread cookies  while leaving you’re stomach full.

What You’ll Need

  • Milk or milk alternative – I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Rolled oats
  • Molasses
  • Almond butter – I used crunchy
  • White chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Using a medium sized pot, you’ll want a little room, warm on low heat about 3/4 cup of milk.
  2. When the milk is slight hot to touch (not boiling), add half a cup of rolled oats. This is a serving for the store brand I used.
  3. Keep the burner on low heat, you don’t want these boil and burn on the bottom.
  4. Mix in 3/4 tablespoon of molasses.
  5. Mix in 1/2 tablespoon of almond butter, I used crunchy because I prefer it. You can use smooth or crunchy – you can even use peanut butter if you don’t like almond butter.
  6. Immediately remove pot from burner and either store in a tupperware for later or bowl for serving. Removing from the burner is important because even if you turn it off the heat will continue to cook the oats.
  7. Top off with a few white chocolate chips. This is completely optional.

As always, brands and portions impact nutritional value. These oats were 280 calories, 8.5F/46C/7P

 

 

Advertisements

Recipe: Tuna Burgers

It wasn’t until after college that I ate seafood other than canned tuna as tuna salad. However, it wasn’t until a former student of mine and I met for sushi a few years ago that I started to really get adventurous with my seafood. There are still things I don’t like such as lobster – I know, blasphemous to many who are from New England. I had a bad batch of scallops that made me sick so I stay away from those too.

We will make seafood dishes every now and then, but as many people say financial barriers can make it hard to make healthier choices and that’s a huge reason why we limit the diversity in the seafood we have at home. When shrimp go on sale we will buy them and same with salmon burgers, fresh white fish and squid, but canned tuna is probably always going to be my go-to lean protein because it is more reasonably priced.

To help prevent meal burn out I try to keep diversity in my meal planning, but sometimes you can only have chicken so many ways before you decide it’s not what you want for lunch. Last week, while I was trying to figure out what I wanted for lunch that wasn’t chicken, I decide I could go for tuna, but I didn’t want a tuna sandwich or a tuna melt. I’ve had salmon burgers at a few restaurants in the area, not steaks, but a formed patty with spices and binding ingredients. I figured I could probably make a tuna burger if I looked hard enough.

tuna burger blog post

 

What You’ll Need

  • 1 can of tuna
  • 1 egg
  • 2T of flour
  • 1 tsp of seasoning blend of choice
  • Baking sheet
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prep your baking sheet with a little cooking spray. You could also use olive oil.
  3. Drain a can of tuna and add to a small bowl. Break up tuna into smaller chunks.
  4. Add an egg and flour to tuna. Mix well. You may want to add the flour a little bit at a time so that it doesn’t poof out of the bowl.
  5. Add seasoning blend to tuna mixture. If you want want to use a seasoning blend, you can add salt, pepper and individual spices to your taste.
  6. Once mixed, take a flat spatula and move mixture to the middle of the bowl forming a circle. Slowly dump mixture to baking sheet and shape to a circular patty about half an inch thick. You can make one patty or two 2 ounce patties.
  7. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes. Patty will be crispy on the outside and cooked through on the inside.

I served mine on top of lettuce with onions, tomatoes and sriracha mayo. You can serve it on a bun or in a salad. There’s a place in town that makes an excellent broccoli slaw.

Well, damn, Now I’m hungry.

Macros for a 4 ounce patty: 4.5f | 10c | 28p

❤ Cristina

 

 

I Think I Found My Groove Again

If you’ve ever lost weight – extreme or not – there’s always the fear that you may revert back to your original size. That even if you’ve been practicing habits for years that you will wake up one day and magically lose them. As someone who was obese that fear is in the back of my head many days. Do I think it will always be there? Of course not, but that will also come with years of practicing self trust. It will come with distance and time away from the life that was weight loss and competing.

When I think about the time of my life that I was overweight or obese, it was only roughly 10% of my life. Isn’t that crazy? Something that lasted for a short period felt longer. it felt like a lifetime and I remember when I started that I felt like it may never end. It took almost 16% of my life to get to where I am. So that’s 26% focused on figuring out what healthier meant for me and what fitness or health goals were. Remember I’m only 28.

I say often that I haven’t lost weight for health since last year. When I competed in my first season it wasn’t about health, even though the fat loss was helpful for my health, it was for the stage, it was for pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Twenty-four pounds gone.

When I competed in my second show it wasn’t for health it was for the stage, it was to be better than the last time and to prove to others that I could do it and that I could have a piece of that lifestyle. I had already proved it to myself once, but others needed convincing. Another 20 pounds gone.

This last season, this was for me. I wanted to qualify for Nationals, I didn’t want to go because I’m not stupid – I do know that my body is different and that there are limitations in my shape. I know that there are certain things they look for and I knew that my own comfort level wouldn’t do well at Nationals. At my lowest weight in my adult life, 122 pounds didn’t seem small at the time, but looking at the photos I can say “yep, I was tiny”. It was just about weight, I was also 12% body fat, that’s damn lean. Not lifestyle lean, but competitive lean – there is a difference and I will always remind people who have followed me for a while or those who are finding me now, that there is a huge difference.

I’m currently 20 pounds above that stage weight, but only 8 pounds above my starting point. However, weight is relative – measurements tell a different story. My waist is only 1″ bigger and my hips are only 1.5″ bigger than when I started prep in January. When I think about that perspective, I don’t get as frustrated about the events that happened since April.

On Facebook, I’ve mentioned the fluctuations I experienced this summer while I was figuring out a new routine, navigating stress and anxiety attacks. A couple of weeks ago I did an update about advocacy because my doctor continued to try to misdiagnose me with PCOS – which an endocrinologist determined I DON’T have. In the video, I mentioned that there was a point in July when I felt like I had a better handle on my anxiety, classes were going well and I was finding some kind of balance for the time – I literally woke up one day and just felt better. That’s when I started documenting my measurements in a notebook, I also documented weight fluctuations with notes about water intake, body feels, stressful events, sleeping patterns. For some that’s a lot of information, but a life outside of weight loss and competing when that’s what you’ve been doing for a few years is a weird life and I needed to see some of the correlations before I could make a real plan for myself. I also wanted to bring it to my appointment in August with the endocrinologist because if I was diagnosed with PCOS there wouldn’t be anything we could do except treat the symptoms, which I wasn’t interested in. Again, it was determined that I DON’T have PCOS, but having the data helped me start the new academic year off in a positive direction.

September was about doing what I could since I was back to a full load of classes and that meant a lot of yoga and meditating. I started yoga in August and it’s helped mentally and physically. I’m noticing a huge difference in shoulder mobility and my lifts feel better and I’m not getting as knotted up as before. Mentally, I feel accomplished after the classes, I feel that I’m able to shut off my mind and close out the world when I’m in a practice. This is huge for anyone who is constantly on the go.

At the end of September I decided to run a 5K for Thanksgiving, which meant I should probably practice more than just sprints. I run only during the work week, and I vary my running. My goal is to increase over time, which means each week I increase my distance total a little more. My goal is to be up to about 10 miles a week comfortably including sprinting and steady runs.

I’ve continued to be consistent with yoga this month and plugging in lifts as they felt good – mostly just combination leg and back days. I’ve done more accessory work than ever because it’s easy to do it in the fitness center on site at our complex, but accessory work helps with the bigger lifts. I’ve decided to completely ditch my gym and save the $20 a month to workout on campus. The equipment is good, not many people attend and they have 90s on the speaker – why not take advantage of it until I graduate?

After a month and half of having a more active routine that works with my lifestyle, I’m noticing some body recomposition in my legs. I measured myself for the first time in a month and my measurements and weight haven’t changed since August in the places that I’m tracking, but I’m noticing in photos I’m taking that other areas of my thigh and glutes are changing. I wore a 0 to a 2 pant during prep, which again, is a tiny person, but I’m also 5’4″. This summer I was wearing a 2 to a 4 and now, I’m back to a solid 2.

More importantly than these numbers, I feel comfortable in my clothes and I don’t feel like I’m tugging at them. I don’t feel bloated most days. I’ve been sleeping better (less tossing) and throughout the night with the exception of pee breaks if I drank before bed. My legs feel better in my runs. My breathing is much more steady during running, which I think is partially due to how we breathe in yoga. Mobility is increasing, especially in my shoulders and upper back, which has helped my lifts greatly. I’m able to find balance in yoga poses that I struggled with when I started in August like Warrior 3 variation and I’m able to go deeper in some of my poses.

Nutritionally, I feel like I’m in a good place. Some days I eat more, some days I eat less. Some days I have too much beer and other days I have water with dinner. I track about 60% of my food because I think that there needs to be some accountability. We still meal plan and I still prep some things because it’s helpful for time and to ensure that everything is eaten and we have less waste.

For those who say they’ve mastered intuitive eating, good for them, but is it really intuitive if you’ve tracked for an extended period of time and are capable of eye balling your meals accurately? Will I “ruin” my MFP streak? probably. Will it upset me? probably not.

We’ve been more adventurous with our meals. I’m making pizza from scratch again tonight :] I have a pound and half of glass noodles to play with.

I had a screening last night and I told her I still have days where I’ve eaten a box of Oreos and said, well I probably shouldn’t have done that. But I’m also not getting to upset about it because the action is more related to bored eating in front of the TV rather than a binging episode triggered by anxiety and stress. Still not great, but mentally, it’s better.

We’re constantly learning about ourselves and that’s what keeps it interesting.

Here’s a few photos I took this morning, again, not huge differences since photos in August, but I’m able to see and feel little things.

Recipe: Stove-top Lattes

My schedule this fall is pretty steady because I know which days are busy and which days I have down time. The days I have down time vary in what they’re filled with, but are pretty spread out. Tuesdays are pretty light: I eat, I workout, I do homework and sometimes when my Wednesday client can’t talk on Wednesday, we talk on Tuesday.

Last Tuesday, I had a pretty light day and while it’s nice to not have to be “go-go” all the time, the down fall of being a “go-go” person is that you can’t decide what to do with yourself when you do have down time.

I thought I would go out and read with a cup of coffee, but I didn’t really want to spend the money on coffee knowing we have a solid collection in the pantry. I figured I just wanted to get outside, it didn’t necessarily need to be physically out near other people. So I went for a run outside and looped the area.

Later in the day I still wanted a drink, but I didn’t want to go out for it. After some searching on Pinterest and knowing what I do about lattes, I made one for myself at home on the stove.

latte blog post photo

So if you have about 10 minutes and don’t want to leave the house this fall, or worse, get snowed in this winter – this may be a fun pick-me-up. It’ll also save you some money and calories as we head into pumpkin, maple, gingerbread season!

Here’s some variations we’ve tried and how to make them.

Blueberry Caramel Latte

This was the first one I made to see if I could even make these stove top. I looked at a few recipes and played with the ratios, so here’s what worked.

What you’ll need 

  • Blueberry coffee
  • Caramel topping
  • Milk or milk alternative
  • Small pot

Directions

  1. Brew your coffee a little stronger than normal. I filled my coffee pot to the 4 cup line and used 1/4 cup of grounds.
  2. While your coffee is brewing measure out 2/3 cup of milk or milk alternative and warm up on stove top using low to medium heat. I used unsweetened cashew milk for my milk because that’s what I had on hand.
  3. While the milk is warming up whisk in 2 teaspoons of caramel sauce.
  4. When milk is up to temperature add half of the coffee and whisk together.
  5. Pour in your favorite mug, top with whip cream if you want and drink.

Nutrition for Blueberry Caramel Latte: 1.5f | 13c | 1p or 70 calories

*nutrition varies based on milk/alternative and flavor add-ins

img_8325

Variations

Hazelnut and Honey: Substitute blueberry coffee for hazelnut and caramel topping for 1tsp of honey.

img_8319

Pumpkin Spice: Substitute flavored grounds for unflavored, cinnamon or pumpkin and use pumpkin pie spice blend to taste, 2T of canned pureed pumpkin and either 1tsp honey or caramel sauce.

I’m still playing with combinations, but check out Pinterest for other ideas!

❤ Cristina

Take That Jump: the fall, bagels, leaving the summer behind

The fall semester starts in 9 days.

I’m feeling excited. I’m feeling anxious. I’m feeling relieved.

I’m excited about the fall because it means more flexibility. I know there are people who think this is a piece of cake, but remember the grass always seems greener on the other side – there are still things that aren’t all sunshine and daisies. I have a good balance of everything that is important: work, school, boyfriend and myself – not necessarily in that order and not always in the same order.

One thing that is hard for me is to sit still. I know I need to relax and give myself a break, but it’s really hard. I thrive on structure and being busy. This year has been a damn rollercoaster and it’s the most time I’ve ever had to myself.

While summer classes were very busy and left little wiggle room, since finishing them at the beginning of August, I have found myself with time to slow down if I choose too. That has been quite the challenge.

I think about the summer and my mind races – I don’t know where to start. This isn’t what I expected my summer to be, but that doesn’t mean it was bad.

I ate more than I intended, but I don’t really regret it. Yeah, I had days where I will look at JP and poke myself, but really, this was the first time I wasn’t saying ‘no’ or pushing back. I probably should’ve said no more than I did, but I’m moving on and you should too.

I’ve said before that you can a lot about a person through how they write during certain times. When it’s been rough it reflects in my writing, when it’s getting better it also reflects.

I look back at June 17th and a reread that post – found here. I agree with that Cristina. I shake my head with her because I still feel parts of her. The parts that are in disbelief that I ended up here, but sometimes I don’t even know where here is. I know that sounds confusing, but I think some of you can relate.

Sometimes when I think about my future I see one thing, but the reality becomes another. Each day brings something new and we should embrace it. Embrace the risk and see what happens – that’s the hippy side of my thinking. The other side of it is calculated, like, yes, of course you ended up here and if you turn this way you can take this path and if you turn this other way there’s another path. This summer I became better at blending these two thoughts. I don’t always need to be calculated and sometimes it’s just not going to happen.

Thinking about what I wrote in regard to balance in June – that Cristina needed a nap and a cup of tea, but she was trying her best. If only she knew what was in store during the cross city move. However, July was better and August even better as I crashed then got back up and found some kind of routine that I could make sense of. For the past five weeks I’ve had a solid workout schedule that makes me feel like I’m balancing fitness Cristina with all the other Cristina’s. We still have breakfast together, but on Sunday’s I lift while he stays in bed, however, he’s been going running while I go to the gym. On week days, I go to the gym when he leaves for work, so I have about an hour for my meals to settle – I’m not a fan of lifting on a full stomach, I definitely prefer fasted like I do on Sunday’s, but that’s just my preference.

Adding yoga a week and a half ago was a really good idea because I’m already feeling a difference in my back, so I’m alternating it with my lifting and running – still taking a rest day somewhere in the week…wherever it makes sense for that week.

I believe in bagels – you can read about that here. I believe in working hard for what you want. I believe in jumping and taking risks. I believe in making minimal excuses and breaking down barriers. I also believe that my grind is going to look different than the person beside me. It won’t always be understood and that’s ok.

I wrote less this summer because I didn’t feel I needed it like I have in the past. That is a risk for me. That is new. I’ve connected in other ways that were just, if not more, meaningful. However, it made me uncomfortable to feel like I couldn’t share my day. If you meet me in person, I won’t talk much until I am comfortable with you and then it’s going to be late nights with liter and a half bottles of wine. I think that’s what happened. I was so comfortable talking to a screen, forgetting that people are on the other side. This summer I relearned how to communicate in a way that I felt was safe. That meant more journaling and letting experience happen with maybe a photo or two to capture it. Below are some photos from this summer.

I’m taking my bagel philosophy and charging full on into September. We might not talk like we used to, but I can’t wait to take you with me.

❤ Cristina

 

Haymarket

Union Square at Boston Public Market

Boston PRIDE

Cupcakes

I lifted a little

Wedding fun

Brunching in Connecticut

Double Rainbow

Greek food downtown

We found the statues

We also found some burgers

Day trips to Vermont

Day drinking with the animals

Lemurs!

 

Take That Jump: The Proverbial Bagel

I write when I feel that I need to, so as you can tell it’s been a solid month since I’ve written, but I don’t think this is a bad thing. I’ve been finding outlets in running more, unpacking my apartment, hanging out by the pool and busting my ass with class. Side note – 8 more classes and the summer sessions are done. That by a lot faster than I imagined it would!

Anyway. I write when I feel inspired. I write when I feel like I need to brain dump. So let’s just jump in. I’m going to preface this post with I’ve made excuses for myself in the past, I’ve heard JP make excuses for himself as well. I have clients who make excuses too. EVERYONE builds walls and barriers that prevent them from being as great as possible in whatever it is they are seeking to accomplish. But, progress and the journey is about backing away from those excuses, tearing them down and pushing yourself to see what you can accomplish because it doesn’t matter what others tell you – if you don’t stop making excuses you’re never going to be successful.


At the beginning of the month, I got an email from Panera saying that as a reward member I was eligible for free bagels for the whole month. One bagel per day, no purchase necessary. Well, as you can imagine, goals have shifted since the spring and bagels fit into my plan pretty well, so, challenge accepted.

How many bagels can I eat in a month from Panera? Let’s find out.

I set some rules – I had to try them all once before I could go back for the same one again.

First up – Chocolate Chip. Not bad, but not my favorite.

IMG_6920

Favorite bagel? Cinnamon Crunch. It’s covered in in cinnamon-y and sugar goodness, do I need to say more? Also, it’s perfect toasted and plain no need to add anything, which is perfect because it’s 82g of carbohydrates.

IMG_7059

Anyway, here’s what I learned by eating as many free bagels as I could this month.

  1. I will willing eat 7 bagels in a month.
  2. Bagel sandwiches are most definitely in my top three for breakfast carbs, pancakes and waffles in first and second place, respectively.
  3. Free tastes better.
  4. Plain bagels are a waste of carbohydrates – so I didn’t even have one of those.
  5. If you want something bad enough, you make it work.

 

Let’s talk about #5.

I wanted a bagel, so I made it work into my day. I planned my other meals around my bagel and focused on lean protein, high volume fruits and vegetables. This allowed me the joy of consuming anywhere between 50 to 90g of carbohydrates in the bagel of my choice, while still eating enough volume to stay full and enough calories to be energized for the day.

I’ve had clients tell me that they don’t want to track their nutritional intake. Whether it’s specific grams of macro nutrients or calories (specific or broad tracking), they didn’t want to have to monitor it. Well, how do people think they got to where they are to begin with? How do you think I became over 240 pounds in college? It doesn’t just happen overnight. The only way to have fat loss is to be in a caloric deficit and the best way to do that is through daily diet. Abs are truly made in the kitchen and you can’t out work a poor diet.

I also believe if someone has never tracked, but wants to lose weight, it’ll do them some good to track for at least a short period of time and understand the difference between a portion they serve themselves and a serving size. How can they complain about no progress if they don’t know how their own behavior impacts them? It’s also heartbreaking when you realize how much peanut butter is in a serving versus what you believe should be the serving. Aside from being specific with consumption, I’ve had talks with people who don’t want plan the week’s meals in advanced because don’t want to eat the same thing every day. Trust me, I don’t blame them. But planning or prepping doesn’t mean you have to eat the same thing – that may be the easiest thing to do, but it’s not the only way. The real world isn’t a bubble. There are parties and holidays and you can’t always say no to a glass of wine or a burger at the BBQ, so why should a bubble be created to be successful?

The “right” path encompasses finding balance and having more good days than bad. It’s about a specific balance that is unique to an individual’s lifestyle. Planning ahead allows for the ability to make a change when something comes up last minute. It allows you to learn how to create a balance of food that fuels you and a cold beer with dinner. If they can’t learn that balance when seeking to live a healthier life, the struggle will continue even after the goals are met.

Creating a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about nutrition though, it’s also about being active and creating a plan that allows you to accomplish your goals while not shutting out other areas of your life. Everyone has a busy schedule – busy is relative. Maybe there’s some financial constraints. As a millennial, my time and money are precious and as someone who recently went back to school I understand the importance of both of these things, but if you want something bad enough – you figure it out. Planning ahead allows me to be more careful with my time and prevent burn out. Looking at my calendar for this upcoming week tells me that Monday is too busy and I will be exhausted by the time I can make it to the gym, so that day I should focus on better meal creation, but Tuesday is more flexible and I have time to be active.

Everyone has walls that prevent them from success, whether they are self-created or not. But if you want something bad enough out start to break those walls down or go around them. You stop making excuses and you make small changes. All goals are about finding something that fits the individual’s lifestyle, something that they can believe in, but at the same time, be a little uncomfortable and break out of their bubble to see change. If you want the bagel bad enough you will find a way to make it fit.

 

❤ Cristina

Recipe: Pumpkin and Oat Bites 

What happens when I find things in the pantry I forget I had? I start skimming through Pinterest so I can make it a fun consumable and get it out of the pantry. Today’s adventure was with a can of pumpkin puree. In the fall I always have a can on hand and I won’t lie I was surprised when I found a can today. After going through some pins, I got an idea of the basis for a protein bite or protein ball, let’s be real though, 5g of protein doesn’t make something a protein snack. It does, however, support the well rounded nutrition in a snack, but I just can’t call it a protein ball.

So with a can of pumpkin, some protein and a canister of oats I made some magic in the kitchen.

What You’ll Need

  • 120g or 1.5 cups of oats
  • 264g of canned pumpkin
  • 1 scoop of protein – I used a sample of Sun Warrior vanilla vegan protein
  • 30g of 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3T of Splenda
  • 2tsp of vanilla extract
  • a few dashes of cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, weigh out your oats.
  2. In the same bowl, weigh out your canned pumpkin. I added pumpkin a little at a time until the oats were sticking together.
  3. Mix in Splenda, cinnamon and vanilla extract. I added cinnamon a little at a time until I got the taste I wanted. At this point it tastes like an unsweetened pumpkin pie mix.
  4. Add in protein powder. As I’m using up the pantry, I used a sample of vegan protein powder. You can use any protein powder. A basic flavor may be best like cinnamon roll, vanilla or snickerdoodle. I don’t think there would be an issue using whey, casein or a blend. *If you find that the casein or blend protein makes the mix hard to combine, add a tablespoon or water or two.
  5. Using your hands, mix in coconut flakes.
  6. When thoroughly combined roll into a ball and divide into your preferred servings. I wanted to keep the macros under 30g of carbohydrates per serving, so I made 5 equal larger portions.
  7. After weighing out the total serving fell free to make into small pieces. Each larger portion made 4 pumpkin and oat bites.
  8. Chill to keep fresh. Because these are a no bake, minimally additive food, please keep in mine that they may mold if kept too long.

Of course before I could chill the container, JP felt the need to take one to try – a row of 4 was a serving. I put pumpkin spice peanut butter on mine, but you could have them plain or with a different nut butter. JP and I agreed they tastes like an unsweetened version of pumpkin pie. Cinnamon and vanilla was subtle, but tasty.

Macros per serving without peanut butter: 5.9F/22.4C/7.6P

I hope you enjoy!

❤ Cristina