Food Sharing and a Recipe for Peanut Butter Protein Cheesecake

I love dessert and really I love food. My weightloss journey has been about how to fall in love with other foods and live my life with moderation so I don’t feel deprived. That is why I will forever say that flexible dieting and macro counting have saved. I have counted calories and cut things out completely. My relationship with food was terrible. It was a comfort for me at one point and there are times that it still is, but not necessarily to the extreme that it once was.

Some of this journey has also been about tweaking some of my favorites so I can consume more and not feel guilty. To name a few foods I’ve done this with – pancakes, muffins and cheesecake. I’ve had people ask how I make different foods or how I assemble, so in honor of my prep journey, I’m going to share some of my recipes and tricks to make things a little healthier for  you while still having fun with your food. Remember it’s fuel!

I have made quiet a few pro or protein cheesecakes, but this by far is the best ratio mix that I have come up with. It started with a conversation with my friend Eva on Thursday, and it ended with a conversation about protein with my friend Tresa.

So here’s what you’ll need:

  • a food scale
  • 75g of 0% plain Greek yogurt – I used Chobani
  • 56g of 1/3 less fat cream cheese – I used Philadelphia because it was on sale
  • 1/4 liquid egg whites
  • 1 packet of Quest protein powder in peanut butter flavor – or any flavor you want. If you’re measuring from your tub – it’s 30g
  • 15g of Goldfish grahams – I used vanilla cupcake, macros may change depending on flavor
  • mini baking pan

This recipe is for one serving, so keep that in mind!

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small to medium microwavable bowl, measure out 56g of cream cheese. This was 2 servings of the 1/3 less fat cream cheese that I used.

Soften cream cheese in microwave for about 15-20 seconds.

Placing the same bowl on the scale, measure out 75g of 0% plain Greek yogurt. I used Chobani. Mix well with a hand mixer.

Mix in 1/4 cup egg whites.

Lastly, mix in your protein slowly. You want it to be smooth and blended well. If you add too much at once, it will be hard to break up clumps.

Set mixture aside. Take your mini baking pan and place on the scale, zero out and weigh out 15g of Goldfish grahams. This is half a serving so you could count the individually. Line the bottom with your fish! Some of mine were smiling at me.

Pour mixture over the Goldfish and smooth out so that the batter is even.

Bake for about 25 minutes. Make sure you check on your cake! My oven is very funny sometimes and I will have to check on things to make sure they aren’t cooking to fast or slow. Also be nervous if it puffs up like mine did!

Let your cake cool. This is more important than you know! The pan I have is from Michael’s and is a nonstick, but if you try to remove anything quickly it will stick because that makes sense. So after about 15 minutes of hanging out cooling, I popped mine out of the dish and got this!

All the fishies staring at me!!

Macros for this cake following the same ingredients are: 15f/ 19/ 42p. Remember different brands have different macros and calorie amount. Change up the flavor if you want, I really thought PB sounded like a grand slam! This is now in my fridge waiting for me for dinner on Wednesday. Yep, that’s right it’s going to be dinner. Maybe I’ll have some veggies as an appetizer :]

I hope you have fun playing with this recipe!

❤ Cristina

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Woah where did this week go?

Seriously? Has anyone else had to ask themselves this question today? Living in New England, many of us were able to celebrate Patriot’s Day or Marathon Monday by not having to work. For me that meant getting to the gym early, heading home to get laundry and meal prep underway. I closed out the Monday by working the closing shift too. I had a work breakfast meeting on Tuesday, which made the morning zoom. It was followed by work lunches on Wednesday and Thursday… Friday I had a workshop in Connecticut and then boom, Hello Saturday! You can see the dilemma? No, neither can I, except I sadly feel like this means that the weekend is going to zoom by as well.

Motivation Monday comparison

 

Let’s back up a minute. I had three food work-related meetings this week. This is part of my day job, but sometimes it can leave me stressed out. With hopes to prevent a melt down at the table, I always look at the menu before hand and try make a game plan. I then figure out my macros for the rest of the day based on what I’m consuming at this meal. I’m really excited about the decisions I made this week and I was able to maintain about a 400 calorie deficient while hitting my macros accordingly.

My weigh-in on Wednesday shocked me with a 1.75 pound loss bringing me to 151.25 pounds – I’m only 1.25 pounds heavier than I was at my November show. Holy crap! I had to step on the scale 4 times to make sure it wasn’t lying! I have lost almost 4 pounds by “doing Kayla” as all the cool kids say. I attribute a lot of this to my food consumption and water intake as well the workouts, which were strong all week.

I had to take a picture because I barely believed it!

Comparison since starting BBG. The middle of my stomach is starting to shrink and lift.

 

This also includes a lifting session I had on Thursday to replace low intensive steady cardio… Sorry Kayla, I needed some deadlifts in my life. Happily enough, I can report that my deadlifts were solid and I hit a new PR of 110 pounds for 3 sets of 10. The first set was a little rough, but the second and third sets were solid were form and execution.

The one downfall this week happened on Thursday night I had a good time getting sick. It really hit me out of no where. I was bloated and I like to say it appeared as though I had a bowling ball in my stomach. Regardless of how it happened or how sick I was, I managed to get in bed by 915 and fast asleep. I was up at 530 – all the bloat was gone and it was like it never happened! Ugh.

Not a transformation: Left- my lift at 6 am on Thursday, Middle- post sick, Right- Friday morning

 

I was in Connecticut by 8 and I maintained my normal eating and even made it to the gym, but stomach was off for most of the day. I definitely thought I was going to get sick during my circuits, but thanks to a ton of water and some slowed breathing I was able to control the nausea and not lose it on the gym floor. I had a cup of peppermint tea with dinner and this morning everything was back to normal. No bloating, no nausea and I even felt super lean.

Saturday morning (this morning) lean city!

 

I don’t know why, but I’m still surprised by what your body can do to you when it’s not happy, but again what it does when it loves they way you’re treating it!

Moving on…

To finish out Week 3 of Bikini Body Guide, I went hiking today for the first time this season with my friend Jules – we met on Instagram and learned that we only live 20 minutes from each other! How freakin’ cool is that?! We went up to Mt. Wachusett and rocked an hour and 20 minute hike for a total 395 calories burned!

Getting ready!

 

Me and Jules at the summit on Mt. Wachusett!

Pine Hill Trail

 

Our view at the summit

 

This brought my workout caloric burn to 2,015 for the week. This combined with my eating deficit allowed for a little over 4,000 calories output. While I’ve written about how it’s a little more than calorie input/output to lose weight, this is definitely a start. I’m excited to be 1.75 pounds away from my first goal weight of 149.5. I’m also excited to be able to quantify my progress and see how hard I’m pushing myself by having timed circuits and using a new HRM.

I’ve written my circuits for Week 4 in my notebook already and I’m looking forward to my rest day tomorrow. Shocking i know, but I’m going to the VegFest, which is a free festival that celebrates vegetarians and vegans. While I’m neither of those, I do appreciate veggies and fruits and supporting local. I also hear there’s samples too!? Who could give up local grown samples? Not me!

Well, I’m heading to bed. I hope everyone else had a great Saturday and has an even better Sunday Funday. I know I will!

 

❤ Cristina

I’m so ready for Week 3

Yesterday I finished Week 2 of Bikini Body Guide and as of Wednesday I was down another half pound, for a total of 1 pound lost since starting the program two Monday’s ago. That’s pretty steady progress if you ask me and I honestly don’t mind it being slow like that. I’m back to 153 and I’m pretty happy. My goal at the moment is 149.5 pounds, this will be the first time since my sophomore year (2008/2009) that I will have been under 150 pounds.

That’s crazy to me. I never thought I would have come this far, but now that I have I know I don’t want to stop. I’ve been pretty motivated my whole journey. I’ve acknowledged when I needed to change it up or refocus, but these past two week feel different. I don’t know what it is, but I feel good right now, mentally and physically.

This week’s workouts were pretty solid, except I learned that my body just can’t handle pushups. I can do them in moderation, but Wednesday’s arms and abs day not only had a few different styles of pushups, but had a high quantity once you had completed the circuits. I ended up with a slipped rib and some terrible shoulder pain. Luckily, I went to the chiropractor Wednesday afternoon and was put together. I’m now finding alternatives when necessary so I don’t cause injuries that could prevent me from continuing my progress.

I’m still getting in my own lifting twice a week and when these 12 weeks are complete, I’m going to be getting back into full prep-mode for the fall. It’ll be another interesting summer, that’s for sure.

I also decided to start using my heart rate monitor again to track my output more accurately. While I follow flexible dieting, knowing your output against your input will truly help you with weight and fat loss. So I dug out my HRM that I purchased two years ago and the battery was dead. I wasn’t surprised at all, but I was surprised that it took five different stores to find the size batteries I needed to use it. Once I got it taken apart and reassembled, I was disappointed again when I realized the chest strap was broken and since Polar doesn’t sell just the transmitter strap, it meant a trip to Best Buy. I now am the proud owner of a pink HRM.

I’m not sure what my caloric burn goal will be, burning enough calories to lose a pound isn’t as easy as just burning 3,500 calories. A post from December explains how caloric burn can affect different kinds of bodies. When I first started losing weight, it fell off. As my weight was more manageable for someone my size I noticed I was hitting plateaus often and cutting fat was harder. It was discouraging, but after more research my frustrations started to dissolve and I learned that changing it up wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. I would always be on my toes.

This is one of the reasons why I thought giving BBG a try wouldn’t be so bad after all.

I was looking at photos from the fall right before my show and I can tell that even thought I’m 2 pounds heavier now, I’m leaner – definitely in the love handle region. My stomach is flattening too and the lose skin isn’t even that bad.

I can’t wait to pass my November show weight and really start leaning out for the fall. I’m glad I recognized last year when I first decided to compete that I would need longer than the average competitor to get where I want to be. I’m using the same philosophy this time around – 12 weeks of Bikini Body Guide, which will put me at the end of June when the program is complete. I’ll then start prep for competition in November.

Now don’t get me wrong. The progress right now is awesome. I’m glad I’m back on track after a crazy March. In fact, this morning when I was getting ready for the day, I was going through my closet to find a tank top. I found instead what used to be a tank top…

I love that I get to play the game “is it a shirt or is it a dress”. This tank top is from before I started my journey, so exactly 87 pounds ago. It’s a size large and it’s from PacSun – sometimes their sizing is funny, but HOLY CRAP. I wasn’t expecting this at all!

This really got me pumped and I’m so ready for Week 3. My workouts are written in my little notebook. My meals are planned out for the week and today was a solid day too. Cheers to another good fit week! I hope everyone has a great Monday.

❤ Cristina

 

 

Getting myself back on track

The past two weeks have been a little trying for me personally and it’s been affecting my workouts and my eating habits. I don’t like making excuses for sticking to the plan, but I’m only human and we all have those times when we need a break and reach for the burger.

My workouts were pretty solid around my birthday, a few days after the last post, but then my boyfriend lost one of his friends. He was devasted and I felt lost trying to be his support system. We had always talked about what we would need when having a hard time with life, but there was nothing he could’ve told me that would’ve prepared me to help him through his roaster coaster of emotions. The went through all of the stages faster than light.

I was exhausted and wasn’t sleeping like I usually do. It was easy to over do it on the coffee in the morning and sleep in past my alarm because I had been up late the night before. There was actually one morning where I slept through two alarms, woke up and fell back asleep while sitting up – who does that?! This girl!

I didn’t meal prep and it’s true what they say “fail to plan, plan to fail”. This made grabbing a breakfast sandwich on the way to work easy, it made going out to dinner even easier. I would grab a protein bar, but we all know that those aren’t meals. They aren’t all the nutrition we need to fuel our bodies. After calming down and getting some sleep, I’m back on track with my water and food. I’ve been slightly bloated since my body is readjusting to clean eating, but this week has been solid.

I weighed myself this morning because  it’s Wednesday and that’s my day to benchmark. I had only gained 1.5 pounds. So hello 154! I’m actually not upset about this like I know I would have been if this had been a year ago. That’s progress. I mean, I was thinking I gained a small child since the bloat was so bad. Hands in the air, praise something holy that’s not the case!

To keep myself in track, I’m changing up my routine again. I’m still going to be lifting heavy, but after talking with my friend Sarah about the Bikini Body Guide I bit the bullet and bought it. After a quick skim, I was sold on the exercise circuits and the schedule. I do a lot of the exercises currently and that made me relieved… One less thing to learn. I can still lift extra if I want to. I can also adjust the weight or resistance for the workouts to my personal needs. It’s a 12 week program and I’m only using the workout guides. I’m still following IIFYM. I’m hoping to adjust my macros when I hit 149. So a 5 pound loss. I know it’ll be tough, I’ve been struggling to get under 150, but this is something I’m hungry for – pun intended #carbsoncarbs. If I work hard and stay focused while having fun I know I won’t feel the same pressure I did during prep. I also believe I’ll learn to handle my stresses in a more effective manner.

This is my journey and it’s challenging at times, but I’m excited to change it up. I’m excited to work over the summer and bring a better package to competiting this fall. Stay tuned to see how my progress looks with the new routine!

❤ Cristina

Recipe: Flourless Chocolate chip and Peanut butter Muffins

I eat breakfast every morning and when my boyfriend visits, I try to make breakfast a little interesting. While I’m prepping breakfasts can be boring, but we manage to spice them up from time to time. Over Christmas, I was surfing Pinterest looking for ideas when I decided to see if there were any recipes that were lower carb and higher protein. I came across a pin for Flourless Peanut Butter Mini Blender Muffins.

The recipe was pretty easy and was made in a blender! You can’t go wrong when a recipe is that easy. I did change up the recipe a little bit, but not too much.

First, since I’m in prep I weigh everything, that includes the banana in this recipe. I also used Nuts ‘N More Toffee Crunch protein peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter. Lastly, I counted out the chocolate chips used in each muffin.  Everything else was exactly the same as the recipe I found. I got 6 perfect muffins out of this batch.

Each muffin was 1/4 cup of  batter and the macros were:

Calories: 217

Fat: 10.8g

Carbs: 20.2g

Fiber: 4.3g

Protein: 10.9g

What I learned from this recipe is that it’s ok to use a hand mixer. A lot of my peanut butter fell to the bottom of the blender and I had to hand mix it in. That was a pain. These were super tasty and great to have with my egg whites. They make a good snack during the day too.

These made the boy pretty darn happy and anything that he also likes makes it easier for me to get through prep without extra cooking :]

Do you have a muffin recipe that you “go to” or like to change up sometimes?

 

❤ Cristina

Here we go again: Day 1 of competition prep

I was going to wait until the first of the year to start competition prep, but I’m impatient and didn’t want to wait. Today was my first day back to stricter macro counting and a regular gym schedule. After I got back home from my Christmas fun, I went grocery shopping and picked up the essentials: chicken, ground turkey, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, you get the gist. I came home and prepped a bit and I figure I’ll more over the weekend. I also stopped by Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought a new pair of cross trainers. These were amazing during my gym session this afternoon.

 

My first official gym day in the prep book was a solid 40 minutes of plyometrics. I felt pretty good and I can’t wait to see what happens during this prep.

 

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Let’s get into the facts of prep this time around:

My first competition was November 1 and I lost 25 pounds and weighed 150 in time for the stage. Since November 1st I have gained between 8-10 pounds, but I’m still a size 6. The first competition this spring is April 18th, which is 113 days away. My goal is to lose another 25 pounds and get to 135 in time for the stage. The second competition is May 23rd and I believe I can get to 130 for that stage.

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113 days away!

 

15NPC CUTLER 400

148 days away!

 

Last time prep was a breeze in the beginning and it got much harder on me mentally towards the end, but knowing what I know now, I believe I will be able to handle it. As far as the post show weight gain, it could be so much worse, but I do want to see what I can do so I can have more of a maintenance of the weight loss this time around.

Now for some photos!

Last Throwback Thursday photo of 2014. 4 years and 85 pounds difference. I can’t wait for 2015.

 

54 and sunny on Christmas!

 

Post family Christmas dinner snuggling

We have 5 days until the New Year and I’ve almost finished my list of goals for 2015. I’ll post them within the next few days. I can’t wait to dive right in! I hope all of you enjoyed your holiday and are getting ready for the New Year too!

❤ Cristina

 

 

Why I’m glad I started lifting and did it without a coach

When I decided I wanted to start lifting and prepping for a bikini competition I had no idea where to start. There’s so much information out there about what to eat and how to train; everyone had a different opinion. I think we all can agree that different opinions are good because it shows us many perspectives, but it also reminds us that what works for one, won’t necessarily work for another.

I had been told to get a coach, so I looked into it. It was not something I could afford and it wasn’t something I was willing to stretch myself for. So I started researching.

My biggest research tools for exercises was bodybuilding.com. This helped me discover new exercises that I never would’ve thought of; it also helped me learn correct form so I wouldn’t hurt myself. I researched HIIT and Tabata and found some pre-made workouts- these were great and over time I was able to change them up with exercises I thought would be effective for my goals.

When I started looking into a diet to follow it was clear that I had to go all in, I couldn’t just do something for the summer, this was going to be a lifestyle change. Throughout my journey I had been adjusting my workouts and my food to meet new goals so another adjustment was just part of the plan. I had been clean eating before I started prepping so when I learned about IIFYM, I figured I macro counting would be a breeze and I could be more flexible with my food.

I have fallen in love with IIFYM and while my relationship with food isn’t perfect, I have a much better relationship now. I know that you need fat to burn fat. Protein will help rebuild your muscles that your smashed in the gym and carbohydrates are an important sources of fuel. The body is like a machine, without fuel the machine shuts down. With IIFYM, I learned to focus on nutrition versus calories. While weightoss is all about calories out verses calories in, all macronutrients have calories; as long as I hit my nutritional needs, I will have enough energy for the day. Eating in a deficit still provides me enough food to meet my nutritional goals and have energy.

I learned what water could actually do for me and what hydration means for the body’s development.

Even though I didn’t have a coach, I had a few people who helped me along the way that I believe played a huge role in my success. My friend Monolina, @monolina12 on IG, worked out with me a few times a week. Together we figured out workouts, corrected each others form and pushed each other to lift heavier than we ever thought we could. This gave us both something to look forward to at the end of the work day, and hitting new PRs together helped us bond. We get the funniest looks in the gym!

Laurie, @tinygymrat on IG, helped me figure out how to adjust my macros for cutting throughout the process, she also introduced me to drop sets and super-setting. Both of those things helped me discover how much physical strength I had and push myself harder than I had been.

Brittany, @brittbaine on IG, and I met when I decided to give Beachbody a try… yeah, that didn’t go so well for me, but we’ve maintained our friendship. She has definitely helped me stay on track and stay realistic in my goals and what I can accomplish. When I have doubted myself, she has been blunt and told me to stop thinking that way. She has never once told me that I can’t do something or that my dreams can’t become reality. This is what a friend is.

When I got closer to the competition, I started meeting other women I would be competing with in the New England Championships. Sam, @baconbarbellsbikinis on IG, helped me figure out how to find my flair for posing. I had mostly gotten over the idea of not being the smallest girl in a bikini, but I was fearful of eating the stage. This girl helped with that a ton, probably more than she realizes.

By not having a coach, I had to do the research, I had to ask others questions. I discovered what worked for me, what didn’t work and how hard I was willing to push myself. I found out how strong I was, both mentally and physically. I was doing this for myself, which is how it should be, but I was doing it because I wanted to meet my goals; not because someone was telling me how to meet them.

I’m not saying that coaches aren’t good, there are a lot of things I would’ve loved having a coach for like posing or peak week; but having to do the research myself made me even more invested in this part of my journey. I don’t think I would have changed anything, maybe what I brought for footwear post-show 😉

I got my official stage shots and I’m pretty excited them. I also have some shots of my journey for this first competition because there will be more. Check them out below. And know that if you work hard anything can happen.

 

❤ Cristina

Day 5 out of show

 

NEC 1

NEC 2

NEC 3

 

New England Championships Photo Recap

I’m 6 days post show and I’m still in shock that I did it! I have almost made the decision to participate in 2 shows this coming spring! Bring on the heavy lifting, macro counting and sparkling bikinis!

Here are some photos from my competition, commentary to come later 🙂

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4 days out, we should catch up

It’s been almost a month since I last blogged. I have been busy working my butt off! Here’s a recap of what I’ve done since we’ve talked :]

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I bought fun workout clothes :]

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My transformation has surprised the hell out of me!

 

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October 26, 2014: same shirt, 1 year difference

 

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October 26, 2014 (night lifting): got called manly in the gym, pssh manly my butt!

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October 27, 2014: 5 day out from show. 150 pounds.

 

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From June to October: 24 pounds down!

 

I had a few rough weeks (Week 4th and 3rd out from show) where I was having a hard time mentally handlingmy contest prep. It took a lot of conversations with my friend Monolina and sleeping to get over it and push myself to the next level. I’m the lightest weight I have been in 5 years, and I’m a size 6 again, almost a 4. The last time I was a size 6 I weight 25 pounds lighter than I do now. My body composition is so different than it was before and I have a lot more muscle. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and what I have proven to myself that I can do. There’s a few shows this spring and since I’m 15 pounds away from my weight goal, I think I’m going to work over the winter to shed more fat, and then start training for a second competition.

I’m officially 4 days away, and while I knew in the beginning I wouldn’t be the smallest woman on stage, I’ve learned that my size doesn’t completely matter. This has been a journey about myself and trying new things. While the competition part is about my body, this is an experience not many can have. I’m 91 pounds down in 34 months and I couldn’t be happier.

 

❤ Cristina

 

Friday’s goals

I’ve lost about 12 pounds in the first 35 days of this crazy adventure, and with 28 pounds to go and a little less than 16 weeks, I’m deciding to be a little daring. I’ve always relied heavily on cardio to shed pounds, but aside from my new Beachbody DVD set, I’m going to be strict with my weights. I’ve also been experiencing some knee tightness lately, which my chiropractor said is  from over working the muscle. Her example was the muscle around the knee is in something like a Charlie Horse, which causing it to tighten depending on the movement.

Most of the problem movements are squats and hard cardio. So my goal for tomorrow is to mix up the 10 different circuits I do over the course of my typical 3 days of lifting, but remove the cardio elements in between each set. While I will do some leg work, I’m going to avoid deadlifts and leg curls because those aggravate my knee the most. I’m going to add more core strengthening, and hopefully increase some of my weights. Here’s to new PR’s!

Hopefully I’ll be able to get some interesting shots and do my weigh in! Until then here’s a gem from the other night’s lifting session. I am awful at pull ups and I’m still developing my upper body strength, so this is a big deal for me!

 

❤ Cristina