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

Tag Archives: IIFYM

Guys, it’s hot outside, which means it’s hot inside. It’s not just hot, it’s humid and muggy. If I had allergies like JP I would also bitch about the pollen count, but I don’t so I won’t.

Last year when we moved into our apartment, aside from the fitness center, one of the outdoor amenities that really excited us, was the grilling. We have access to both charcoal and gas grills. While charcoal is perfect for s’mores, gas is perfect for everything else.

We’ve grilled more this year than last year and that’s because we have more time and our jobs allow us to be home at roughly the same time. While grilling is easy and the dinner prep is minimal, it may require more hands than two.

This recipe is something that I made last week so that we had something quick to eat after work, but didn’t have to put too much energy into it – the heat kills our motivation for cooking and the last thing I want is a hot kitchen.

Aside from Pinterest, I have way too many cookbooks for someone my age and a subscription to Food Network Magazine. I get ideas and then roll with them. This one is a combination of three recipes – from the spices to the ratios.

What You’ll Need

  • Chicken breast of tenders
  • Ground Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Minced garlic
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Skewers (wood or metal)
  • Plastic bag

Directions

1. Trim excess fat and cartilage off of your chicken, then cube into small bite-sized pieces. I used 8 ounces of chicken, so my ratios are for 8 ounces, which is about two servings.

2. In an empty, plastic bag add a teaspoon of each: ground cumin, curry powder and minced garlic. As far as brands, I don’t use a specific brand – I buy what’s affordable/on sale at the time I need it. The store brand is fine and if you’re brand loyal, that’s also fine.

3. Add to the bag, juice from half a lemon. I opened the bag and squeezed it directly in.

4. Add a tablespoon of olive oil (not pictured) to the bag.

5. Add chicken to the spice bag, seal and shake. When sealing the bag, don’t remove all the air out so that the chicken has freedom to move around and get coated.

*After bagging my chicken, I put it in the fridge for the day while I went to the office. To prevent potential contamination, I placed the bag in a glass bowl on the bottom shelf.

6. Divide chicken in half and skewer.

7. Pre-heat grill for a few minutes so the grate can get up to temperature, this may take 3 to 5 minutes. Place skewers on hot grill cooking each side for about 3 to 5 minutes. The duration may change depending on how big the chicken has been cut and how much chicken is on each skewer.

How we plated:

9. Slice a red onion and tomato into small pieces. I cut red onion rings in half. I also did the same to the tomatoes.

10. On a pita, spread a tablespoon of hummus (plain, garlic or roasted red pepper would pair well with the spices) and a tablespoon of tzatziki.

10. Place red onion and tomatoes on the pita and sprinkle some feta.

11. De-skewer chicken and place on top of pita.

If you’re not interested in plating like we did, this would be great with rice and veggies – we had broccoli and salad on the side of ours. You could also use it on top of salad.

Do you enjoy grilling in the summer?

❤ Cristina

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One of the most popular posts on this blog is my protein pancakes using Kodiak Cakes pancake mix. Their protein mix (Powercakes) released in 2013, well before I created my recipe in 2015, but it was before I could find the mix anywhere near me. My recipe is one of the simplest recipes I have on this blog.

Their mixes have gone through some changes over the past few years, allowing them to continue to be balanced and provide more volume.

Kodiak Cakes Powercakes are a staple in our house because of how easy they are and with their recipe changes to their mix, I don’t find myself often needing to use my higher protein recipe.

However, there are times when we run out of mix or we’re not home, like this weekend, but we want pancakes.

As I mentioned the other day, there were a few things we were bringing from our fridge to JP’s parents fridge because we didn’t want to come home to throwing out food. A banana is one of those items I put in our food bag for the weekend.

This morning we woke up at 6:30 am without an alarm. This is sleeping in for us. We went to bed early last night after pizza date night. We had content bellies then, but this morning I could hear JP’s growling.

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He asked what was for breakfast and my first response was “I don’t know, eggs? What are you in the mood for?” His response was usual – “I don’t care.” It doesn’t really answer the question, but it doesn’t ignore it either.

So as always, I looked at my Pinterest boards to see if there was anything I had pinned that I’ve wanted to try and then I searched for something new when I didn’t see anything I wanted to make.

I knew I had a banana and that’s about all I knew. Here’s the recipe that inspired mine.

And here’s the journey of my banana.

What You’ll Need

  • a medium sized banana (mine weighed 126g)
  • 1 egg
  • ~1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of milk (I used 2% because that was what was in the fridge)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 10g of protein powder (I used chocolate cupcake protein from PEScience)

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine a medium-sized banana and whole egg using. I used a whisk because the batter won’t be super thick, but may have banana chunks.

2. Add all-purpose flour leveled in measuring cup. I had started with a 1/4 cup and then went back to add an additional tablespoon. Using a full 1/3 cup would be completely appropriate.

3. Add a splash of vanilla. This is really about taste. You could also add some cinnamon if you wanted to as well.

4.  Add 1/4 tsp of baking powder.

5. While the banana is sweet, the pancake batter is really plain without a sweetener of some kind. I used a teaspoon of brown sugar, but you could use honey, maple syrup or an alternative like Splenda/Truvia. Just be mindful different kinds of sugar have different levels of sweetness so you may not need as much.

6. This step really is optional, but if it’s left out then these aren’t really protein-y pancakes. Protein powder. I used 10g, which is about 1/3 of a scoop of protein for PEScience. This adds about 4g of protein per serving, so 8g for all of the batter.

* For rough estimate, I divided the batter in half and called it good enough.

7. Heat a medium or large skillet to medium or medium/high heat. I used a little cooking spray on the pan, you don’t need a lot and depending on the pan you may not need to spray in between cakes. Pour batter to pre-heated skillet and cook on each side for just over a minute. This is relative to your pan and how it contains heat.

8. (optional) Top with chopped pecans or walnuts.

Nutrition for just the pancakes: 3.7F/35.3C/11.2P

 

❤ Cristina


Did anyone else feel bad for Regina George when she was duped by Cady Herron when she asked if butter was a carb? I found myself laughing at the time the movie came out, but after a year of working with clients and more time talking with others, it’s clear that it can be hard for people to think about food in terms of their macro nutrients, especially carbohydrates.

So what is a carbohydrate and why is it important?

This post will talk about the what because it’s slightly more complicated that you think. There’s a little bit of the why in here, but that will mostly come in the next post.

Ok, so what are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are the first source of energy for us. They are fuel for us when we are sitting, sleeping, exercising or thinking of doing all of those things.

The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) suggests that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65% of your diet…if you’re consuming 2,000 calories a day. We’ll talk about this more in the next post because I think it’s safe to say that most people won’t fit these guidelines.

The Institute of Medicine set the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)  for carbohydrate intake to a minimum of 130g a day. Obviously, this amount wouldn’t fit the AMDR – it would be too little based off a 2,000 calorie diet. The RDA number is set based off the estimated minimum use of glucose for the brain for an average body, which means it’s relative (Institute of Medicine, 2005). It might be slightly lower or slightly higher.

Since we have some of those basics out of the way, let’s start small, molecular small.

This is where biology and chemistry meet.

Carbohydrate means hydrated carbon (Reece, Taylor, Simon, Dickey, & Hogan, 2015). At the molecular level (and trust me this is helpful to know later) carbohydrates are made up of CH2O – 1 carbon, 2 hydrogen and 1 oxygen. In biology we actually learned a little upbeat rhyme of the abbreviates to memorize the molecular make up for carbohydrates, lipids (fats), nucleic acid and protein: CHO CHO CHOPN CHON, but you had to study so you knew how many of each were needed. Moving on…

The simplest carbohydrate is a monosaccharide – you’ll find these in glucose and fructose, which are sugars that carbohydrates break down to (Reece, Taylor, Simon, Dickey, & Hogan, 2015). You’ll find fructose in fruit. Glucose can be found in corn syrup and plants and found in the blood stream after certain carbohydrates are consumed and broken down. No your blood isn’t made of corn syrup.

Below are the chemical layout for glucose and fructose at the molecular level so you can see the difference.

Glucose and Fructose molecules

When you add two monosaccharides together, they form a disaccharide. For this binding to happen, water has to be lost. This is how we get maltose, which is used to make beer, malt whiskey and malted milk candy (Thompson & Manore, 2015).

Below is a picture of maltose, so you can see how glucose joins together. It’s like they’re holding hands if molecules had hands.

 

maltose

We also get sucrose when glucose and fructose join together. Sucrose is found in plants and it’s how we get table sugar (Thompson & Manore, 2015).

Below is a picture of sucrose. See more water is lost. Goodbye H2O!

sucrose

A longer chain, known as a polysaccharide are made up of hundreds of thousands of monosaccharides connected by water loss. Starch is an example, this is found in plants and contains glucose mononers. Glucose is stored in us in the form of glycogen in our muscles as a form of energy.

There’s a lot of ‘oses.

Here’s a few other ‘oses:

  • galactose – doesn’t occur alone in foods. It combines with glucose to create lactose.
  • lactose – “milk sugar”. A common disaccharide found in cow’s milk and breast milk.
  • ribose – five-carbon monosaccharide produced in our bodies from eating other carbohydrates. Can be found in the genetic material in our cells

Knowing the information above can be helpful for this next part. Carbohydrates are considered either simple or complex (Thompson & Manore, 2015). Like stated above the simplest carbohydrate is a monosaccharide and consists of one sugar; disaccharides are also simple and consist of two molecules of sugar. As you imagine, the most complex is the polysaccharide that is made up of hundreds of thousands of monosaccharides.

What is considered simple?

  • fruit (fructose)
  • vegetables (fructose)
  • milk (lactose)
  • fermented beverages (maltose)
  • sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, table sugar, brown sugar (sucrose)

What is considered complex?

  • starches including grains like rice, wheat, corn, oats and barley
  • legumes like peas, beans and lentils
  • tubers like sweet potatoes and yam

The digestion process is different for each macronutrient (fat, carbohydrates and protein), which means they breakdown at different rates (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2017). Carbohydrates breakdown the fastest out of the macronutrients with fat being the slowest.

There are a few enzymes that help breakdown carbohydrates.

  • Salivary Amylase is found in the mouth in your saliva
  • Pancreatic Amylase and Maltase are found in the pancreatic juices (yes, gross I know) that are released into the small intestine to breakdown maltose
  • Sucrase and Lactase are found in the small intestine and help breakdown sucrose and lactose, respectively
*side note: when your body lacks the ability to create enough enzymes you may find intolerances like lactose in tolerant – you lack enough lactase enzyme to breakdown lactose. This can result in bloating or other digestive issues.

This is important to know the rate of digestion for a couple reasons:

1. Simple carbohydrates are digested and absorbed more easily causing a quicker energy utilization, which is why you may feel a “spike” in energy after eating something high in sugar, but then feel a “crash” later. This is also why individuals who are diabetic are encouraged to eat low-glycemic foods – foods that will breakdown at slower rates causing less of an increase in blood glucose since their bodies can’t produce insulin at all or don’t produce enough.

2. Our bodies can’t utilize complex carbohydrates in their consumed state, they need to be broken down to glucose (Thompson & Manore, 2015). These foods also contain fiber, which impacts how satiety controlling hormones are released (Chambers, McCrickerd, & Yeomans, 2015). This is why these foods keep us fuller longer even though protein has the highest satiety effect out of all three macronutrients.

When there’s not enough carbohydrates for this process the body turns to fat. To learn more about that, please check out this post.

Understanding the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates can be helpful for a  couple of reasons.

1. You can create a meal plan that combines complex carbohydrates with other foods to not only provide energy in the immediate time, but help you stay feeling full longer. That’s why oats and peanut butter “stick” with you for a long time. Being satisfied for a longer period of time prevents snacking and can assist you in staying in  caloric deficit if you are seeking fat loss.

2. You can create a meal plan that prevents or lessens “energy crashes”. Like stated above, complex carbohydrates take a longer time to breakdown a, which means glucose enters the blood slower so feeling tired or fatigued are less likely or are less impactful.

Carbohydrates that aren’t easily digested and broken down into this simple state are classified as fiber.

What is fiber?

Fiber is also a carbohydrate and is considered a polysaccharide, but it’s not easily digestible so it doesn’t provide energy to us (Thompson & Manore, 2015). There are two kinds of fiber:

  1. dietary – nondigestible parts of plants that make the form of the plant like leaves
  2. functional –  nondigestible parts of plants that are extracted or manufactured in a lab that is added to foods for health benefits

Even though fiber doesn’t provide energy to us, fiber is important because it helps regulate blood sugar. It also helps prevent constipation when consumed in a moderate (relative to an individual) amount, however, it can also cause constipation when over consumption occurs (also relative to an individual) (Anderson, et al., 2009). Foods with fiber also help regulate satiety hormone leptin, which tells our brains that we’re no longer hungry.

Currently, the recommended amount of fiber daily is 14g per 1,000 calories consumed, however, this number is relative to an individual and may be a little more or less based on your own caloric intake, weight and activity level. You should listen to your body to determine true needs. I personally need a little less fiber or I get bloated and constipated #everyonepoops.

 

 

Ok, so we know carbohydrates are the first source of energy for us. We know they breakdown at different rates. We know they’re relative to each individual. We know that they are found in fruits and veggies just like they are found in cookies and pizza.

Before we get into why they’re important and what the do for us, think about the carbohydrate sources you consume on a regular basis. Do they make you feel energized? Do you crash quickly in the day? Do you feel bloated? Do you combine simple and complex in your diet? Do you get enough fiber?

 

 

 

References

Anderson, J. W., Baird, P., Davis, R. H., Ferreri, S., Knudtson, M., Koraym, A., . . . Williams, C. L. (2009). Health Benefits of dietary Fiber. Nutrition Reviews, 188-205.

Chambers, L., McCrickerd, K., & Yeomans, M. R. (2015). Optimising Foods for Satiety. Trends in Food Science and Technology, 149-160.

Institute of Medicine. (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2017, December). Your Digestie Syste & How it Works. Retrieved from National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works

Reece, J. B., Taylor, M. R., Simon, E. J., Dickey, J. L., & Hogan, K. (2015). Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections. New York: Pearson Education.

Thompson, J., & Manore, M. (2015). Nutrition: An Applied Approach. San Francisco: Pearson Education.


It’s single digits and with the wind, we’re hitting negative temperatures. I know, I know. I live in New England, I did it to myself. I like it here, but living here for about five years doesn’t make it easier dealing with the snow, the bitter cold or plastic wrapping my windows. Yes, for those in warm weather – plastic sealing your windows can help keep the draft out.

One thing that has been helping us this fall and into the winter has been making soup and chili. Our rotation has been ground turkey chili, white chicken breast chili and broccoli cheddar soup with the latter being added to the recipe collection this season.

We’ve buy a lot of vegetables in bulk from BJ’s whole sale, we also go to you-pick places in the summer and I’ve been trying to utilize as much of the veggies and fruit as possible. Broccoli cheddar soup is one of the recipes that allows me to use all the parts of broccoli without waste.

To me, at least, the stalk is usually a little bitter and needs to roast a lot longer than florets do, however, in this soup all parts continue to cook down and there’s no lack of flavor.

Back in the day, I could easily consume a bread with broccoli cheddar soup from Panera, however, that was before my diet changed and before my digestion system changed. If you’re someone like me who experiences lactose intolerance to things like cheesecake, soft serve ice-cream or heavy whipping cream, but can handle hard cheeses or goat products – this recipe will be for you.

Low Dairy Broccoli Cheddar Soup for Two

What You’ll Need

  • 1/4 cup red onion chopped
  • 200g of broccoli
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped carrot
  • 1 and 1/3 cups of almond milk or other milk alternative
  • 1 cup of water + 1 tsp of salt free chicken seasoning (you can also use 1 cup of chicken broth, I’ve made this recipe both ways)
  • 1 tablespoon of flour (you can skip this step if you don’t want your soup thicker)
  • 1/4 cup or more of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Baking sheet
  • Medium sized pot
  • Food processor

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Chop broccoli into 1 to 2 inch pieces include both florets and stalk in using a crown, if you using pre-cut florets cut florets into smaller pieces suitable for roasting.
  3. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and spread out broccoli pieces so that they lay flat and aren’t piled on each other. Spray broccoli with cooking spray. If you prefer to cook with oil, use about a table spoon of olive oil to toss the broccoli in before laying it on the greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake broccoli for about 15 to 20 minutes (this is the longest part of this recipe).
  5. While broccoli is baking, peel and chop the red onion and dice the carrots. These pieces should be small
  6. In a medium pot, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add chopped onion. If you want your carrots a little softer, you can add them with the onion at this step. Let vegetables simmer for a few minutes until onions become more translucent.
  7. Add 1 and 1/3 cup of milk alternative. I used almond milk, but I have used cashew milk before.
  8. Add 1 cup of water with 1 teaspoon of salt free chicken seasoning – I did this as a chicken broth alternative because I was out. I’ve made it with 1 cup of chicken broth, you could also use 1 cup of water with a bouillon cube. If you want this to be completely vegetarian, you can also use vegetable stock.
  9. With a whisk, mix ingredients well and top with a lid and let simmer on low heat until broccoli is finished roasting.
  10. Once broccoli is down roasting, you have two options – chop in a food processor and then add to the pot or add directly to the pot. I’ve done both. With the broccoli chopped fine, the soup become thicker on it’s own while with the whole broccoli it’s more soup and may need a thickening agent.
  11. If you prefer a more soupy broccoli cheddar soup you can skip this step: After you’ve added the broccoli to the pot, remove a little bit of the liquid into a small cup or bowl and then add 1 tablespoon of flour to create a paste. Mixing the flour in a small amount of liquid allows for it to be combined thoroughly and prevents clumping. Add the paste to the pot and whisk thoroughly.
  12. Lastly, add your cheese. I used a shredded cheddar jack and used about a 1/4 cup. You can use more, you could also use a different cheese blend.
nutrition label for broccoli cheddar soup on blog

Nutrition calculation in MyFitnessPal Recipe Creator

Macro Nutrients: Fat (cheese, milk alternative, butter) Carbohydrates (broccoli, onion, carrot, milk alternative, flour) Protein (cheese, milk alternative, broccoli)


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

 

 


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!

 


When I started my weight loss I never thought there would be an end to it. I thought it would take a life time to lose weight and be healthy. Last year I talked about this before my surgery. Even days after my surgery I still couldn’t believe I had accomplished the weight loss aspect of getting healthy. I couldn’t believe the turns that my journey had taken and where I ended up. There are still days that I wake up and say, “yep, this is my life.”

I’ve battled, sometimes floated, with what life is like maintaining a healthy, normal (relative to me) weight and size. Maintenance is harder than losing. It’s 100% true. I haven’t been losing weight for health since last year and I know that seems confusing for people who have started following me within the past eight months. That’s also the difference between using your body for sport and just living life and focusing on overall health.

In previous posts you can see a shift in my mindset, in my mental health. Just like in the tone of someone’s voice, there are times you can see in my writing that things were bothering me, or just weren’t going in a direction I had been anticipating – which ultimately threw me off. While I’ve been stressed from classes, it’s normal stress, it’s not stress than gave me the urge to write, so I haven’t blogged, but I’ve journaled.

The past five weeks have been tough to say the least. The idea of balance has really taken a new life form. This past week was the first week in a month and a half that I felt I truly had routine with everything and felt some kind of peace with all aspects of my life.

I have four days left of classes, then 13 days off before starting the second summer session. I decided to take anatomy and physiology this summer because they’re foundation classes for my program. I need them to take other courses and by doing them in the summer it allows me to get ahead in my program. I also decided to take nutrition this summer because I have a big interest in it from my own experiences and I felt that it would be a good class to take at the same time as an intense lab course. In the long run taking these three classes actually saves me a year of school because of timing. I have busted my ass to think differently and learn how to study differently, learn how to memorize information. I have pushed myself to the point where I’ve said to JP “I don’t think my brain can hold anymore information.” His response – “Cristina that’s not how the brain works.” Thanks babe.

The past five weeks I have gone to class Monday to Thursday from 8 am to 12 pm. On Monday and Wednesday I go to work right after class and I’m there until about 6 pm. On Fridays I work from 6 am to 1 pm. I’ve been working with nine amazing clients this past month, a few new and a few re-occurring. Professional Cristina has been in full force with appropriate pockets to study. Days are packed! But I also made sure that I had the chance to have breakfast every morning with JP before we went our separate ways and that we had dinner together most nights too. Balancing professional Cristina with my relationship made it hard for me to figure out how to keep fitness Cristina in check so that personal Cristina felt that she had alone time away from professional development and relationships.

This isn’t being selfish, this is being realistic. You can’t give all of yourself to everyone else and then expect that you have energy left to give to yourself. I told JP this.

I told him that I missed my morning workouts. Yes, I was still going on Sunday morning’s while he’s still in bed, but I did miss the work week morning lifts. I like how they started my day. So we picked a day that he could do breakfast on his own and made sense for my class and work schedule – Wednesdays. In a perfect world, I’m working out five days a week because I like how it makes me feel. Monday’s and Saturday’s are rest days because that makes sense with my schedule. I have three back and leg combo days and my friend Alicia created two upper body days for me with the idea that one could be dropped if I getting to the gym wasn’t a priority one day – and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes focusing on my nutrition becomes the focus because doing homework and study is a priority.

I tell my clients on every check in that success looks different every week. I ask them do they believe the previous week was successful when they think about their goals that were initially set and what the outcomes were. I ask them what will make this upcoming week successful. If the goal is to get to the gym five days in the upcoming week, will four days still make them feel accomplished? If they reevaluated goals in the middle of the week after realizing they may have taken on too much, is that success – allowing yourself to reevaluate and not feel defeated? Is success partly looking at what you have accomplished and understanding why other things weren’t done and maybe continuing to work on them each week instead of setting a hard deadline?

A YouTuber I watch often made a video about this over the past week and it had me saying yes, over and over again. Success is different for everyone and it will even look different for you each week.

Finding a new routine took a lot of effort and is still taking a lot of effort to ensure that I feel like I’m doing everything I want to, everything I need to and that I still have time to breathe. But like I do with my clients, I ask myself what good still happened this week, what was I able to get done.

This week – I got four lifts done (skipping today as a rest day). I got a 98% on my quiz in A&P. I got a 94% on my exam in nutrition. I had date night with my boyfriend and ate the most ridiculous of ice cream sundaes. My lifts felt better than they have in weeks. I wore a crop top and wasn’t self-conscious about it. I gave myself a break from studying for two nights so I could relax and be strategically spontaneous.

Maintenance is hard, but to me it’s not necessarily about the scale or the tape meaure. Finding a new routine is hard. Shifting focus is hard. It’s through what challenges us that makes us better. The qualitative goals challenge us more than those that are quantifiable and they should. It’s like oxygen, we know it’s there because we’re breathing, but mostly we’re trusting that it doesn’t run out and leave us gasping. We have to gauge our progress in our qualitative goals based on feeling and we have to trust ourselves that we’re doing everything we can.

I am doing everything I can. I feel pretty good about the future.

❤ Cristina


We’ve been having a little fun with some food, while being mindful to not be too big of assholes. I still enjoy eating healthy, but we’re being a little more flexible with our breakfasts and making them a little bigger…especially on lab days where I can’t bring food into the room because #dissection.

What You’ll Need

  • Bread – your choice, I used Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin
  • Egg whites
  • Peanut Butter – your choice, I used Jif
  • Half a banana
  • medium sized skillet

Directions

  1. On both sides of the bread spread your peanut butter. I used a full serving for my sandwich so I divided it evenly on both sides. I know someone is thinking, but the fat! Yes, I know, but trust me it’s worth it.
  2. Slice your banana into pieces about a centimeter thick. I used about half a banana for my toast – so a whole banana for both our sandwiches.
  3. Put slices onto one side of the bread and close with the other side. Yep, directions for a 5-year-old. This is where the full serving of peanut butter becomes more than tasty and is useful. It holds the sandwich together because bananas are slippery.
  4. Preheat skillet so it’s hot for when you place your sandwich on it.
  5. Place your sandwich in a shallow bowl and pour egg whites over. We eat half a cup of egg whites regularly, so I measured a half cup and poured that over. By pouring the egg whites over the sandwich you ensure that it gets covered and is less likely to fall apart.
  6. Immediately after covering your sandwich in egg whites, bring it over to your skillet and cook for one to two minutes before flipping. You may need to use your hand to hold the sandwich together during flipping just because it’s heavy.
  7. If you feel that it needs a little more cooking time that’s completely fine, bread thickness and amount of egg white absorbed will change cooking time slightly.

 

The macros for my sandwich and toppings – left over egg whites not used on sandwich eaten on the side – were: 11F/48.5C/20P

All the items I used to make my sandwich were found at my local grocery store. They’re not fancy and in many cases people view them as bad foods. I’ll preach moderation because it’s true.

I’m interested to know if you try different nut butters and breads and how your sandwich turns out. If you make this, send me an email and let me know how it was!

❤ Cristina

 

 


I have no issue getting crazy in the kitchen. I also have no issue hunting down products at the store to make my menu interesting. I notice that a lot of my friends are the same – fit and non-fit people, you know regular people exist too.

After someone reached out to me about Trader Joe finds, I decided to reach out to some of my friends and ask what they like to find at TJ’s. I thought I would try some of their finds, but also share them with you.

So first up. My friend Liz or @liz1315. Her TJ finds are super macro friendly and can be helpful for someone seeking lower carbohydrate options.

  1. Broccoli and Cauliflower vegetable patties. Macros per patty: 2F/6C/2P

I tried one plain with my lunch. I baked them and followed the directions on the box. They were awesome plain, but I tried them next with some roasted red pepper spread and a yolky egg. That was magical.


Next… something versatile. Rice cauliflower. I know my first thought was why would I do that. But after seeing some of Liz’s creations I decided to give it a try. It really is versatile and her and I have decided to do a post about the recipes and crazy stuff we come up with to eat on prep and in daily life to hit our macros. It’s going to be centered around this guy!

2. Riced cauliflower: Macros per 3/4 cup serving 0F/4C/2P



Next up, something sweet. My friend Alicia or @_alicia_h said Joe-Joe’s were the thing to buy. I completely trust Alicia here, she is also an excellent judge of doughnuts so I kind of have to. We still have a box of pumpkin Joe-Joe’s and peppermint Joe-Joe’s in the pantry. Both unopened just waiting until after competition season.

3. Joe-Joe’s. Macros per 2 cookie serving: 5F/20C/1P (slightly better than an Oreo)

 

Ali or @ali.widdis listed a few things such as flowers, cold pressed juice, but also said that she has to really want something because it’s a distance from her house and there are something that are pricey – it’s just a novelty thing.

4. Goat Cheese. Macros per 28g serving 6F/5C/6P (depending on flavor)


Spices, nuts and nut butter. Those are really reasonable to TJ’s. Here are some of my favorite.

5. Chile Lime seasoning. It’s good on eggs. It’s good on chicken, ground turkey and beef. It’s just good. Flavor is important, I don’t like sauces as much as I used to.

 

6. Bagel seasoning. It’s like the bagel, but without the carbs. So far I’ve mostly put this on my eggs, which I highly suggest you do. But Liz and Ali have found other carby sources to put it on to turn the average English muffin into a mock bagel of sorts. I imagine savory oats will be happening next week with this as well.

I don’t think the next one needs a reason to be purchase. It’s $1.99 and damn tasty.

7. No stir creamy peanut butter, I also have no stir chunky peanut butter.

 

 

Sometimes you just want to change up your protein sources. Chicken and ground turkey can get old. Sometimes you don’t want or like a salmon burger. The flavor on these is awesome and the macros aren’t bad either. I do think they could be a little more spicy, but if you don’t mind mild, you need to give these are a try.

8. Chile Lime Chicken Burgers. Macros per burger patty 6F/3C/19P

Breakfast is comfort food, well for me at least and I don’t think the next one needs an explanation at all.

9. Hashbrowns. Macros for 3 ounces: 0F/14C/1P

Also, a bunch of you came to the rescue and told me where to find unsweetened shredded coconut.

10. Unsweetened coconut. Macros for 1/4 cup: 20F/2C/2P

Here are some other things I’ve purchased at TJ’s that I think you should be mindful of as well:

  1. nuts – they are a lot cheaper at TJ’s than they are at most stores
  2. sushi – pretty tasty and macro-friendly enough meal when you’re on your lunch break
  3. mini peanut butter cups – 27 minis are a serving…that’s a ton of chocolate and peanut butter!
  4. chocolate covered espresso beans
  5. chunky reduced guilt guacamole – I don’t feel guilt eating guacamole usually, but this is made with Greek yogurt and you can consume a lot more for the same or similar nutritional value

A few sent me DM’s on Instagram about their favorite finds:

@jaynabean “chocolate croissants – I must have a box in the freezer at all times for when the occasion strikes.”

@woolandiron “rustic cinnamon graham crackers. They are so freaking delicious and have an awesome molasses taste. And the pink $2 Chuck. And the powdered chai. And frozen chicken gyiza/dumplings. I need to go to TJ’s now…”

Happy hunting!

❤ Cristina

 


Let’s talk sweet tooth.

I think most of us can agree that there are some things you hate passing up on, but at the same time you wish there was an alternative. I feel this way about doughnuts and cupcakes, but I won’t lie those are sacred and I will never try to find a replacement.

When I started flexible dieting the idea of protein cheesecake was one of the most glorious concepts ever. I’ve tried different recipes,  one or two maybe posted on this blog, but as I’ve evolved in my knowledge of flexible dieting and exhausted myself in the kitchen, I realized some things can’t be completely left out just to make something healthy taste like the real thing.

Right now I’m talking about fat.

Last week, I played with a new protein powder I bought on sale – mocha cappuccino from Optimum Nutrition. It’s a whey isolate, which is different than a blend. It’s thinner for one, but it also doesn’t add fluffy or thickness like a casein blend does when mixed with other things.

To make cheesecake no- bake I couldn’t use whole eggs, but I knew I needed to keep fat somewhere otherwise the texture would be spongey and while I can tolerate that, I don’t want to if I don’t have to. This is something I’ve dealt with when making other recipes, but I’m over that nonsense. Either it needs to have some fat to be smooth or I don’t want it.

My fat source was light cream cheese, enough fat to have flavor and texture, but less than normal so that my macros wouldn’t be blown out of the water.

What happened in the kitchen was magical and I felt kind of silly for not trying to find a no-bake recipe sooner. So here it is. Play with it and let me know your thoughts!

What You’ll Need

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese – I used the store brand’s light cream cheese
  • Vanilla extract to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda – or any sweetener
  • 46g of egg whites/3 tablespoons of egg whites
  • 2 scoops of protein powder – I used whey isolate
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt – I used 0% to bring the overall fat content down
  • Keebler graham cracker crust pieces

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, add cream cheese. Put in the microwave to soften. Heat for 20-30 seconds at a time. I needed about a minute and 20 seconds.
  2. With a hand blender, mix the cream cheese until smooth. Add yogurt and blend. You don’t need to use 0%, but if you’re trying to keep the total fat content down then it’s highly suggested.
  3. When thoroughly mixed add vanilla extract. I used 2 teaspoons, but this is completely on preference. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add in egg whites and 1 tablespoon of Splenda. At this point it should taste like cheesecake, this is the basic form.
  5. Pick your protein and add it slowly while blending with the hand mixer and scraping the sides as needed. I used a whey isolate, using a casein blend may make it thicker – if that’s the case a little almond milk or water may help with consistency.
  6. Since I track my macros very closely I weighed the total batter and then divided by the amount of servings I wanted. For this I wanted 4. These macros are slightly rough, but it’s really the best way to be as accurate as possible.
  7. I divided the filling into 4 mason jars for easy storage and travel. I let them sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before consuming.
  8. I topped the cheesecake filling with 1 tablespoon of crushed graham cracker from Keebler. You could also use the mini pie shells Keebler makes or Goldfish grahams.

Macros for just the filling: 9.6F/5.8C/15.5P – nutrition may vary depending on protein and cream cheese used.

Try it out and let me know how it goes! What protein do you think you would want to try using for your filling?

❤ Cristina

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