Yesterday marked the last day of my third week reversing my diet since the Cutler Classic. To say this week was easy would be a lie, but to say it was hard would be a stretch too.
At the beginning of the week I was traveling for work. Just like prep, I researched what was around my hotel as far as food options, I looked into a gym facility because getting my workout in even when traveling is important to me. Lastly, I packed snacks and loosely prepared meals i.e. pancakes for Pancake Monday.
I hit the gym like I do every Sunday morning, but it was important that I get in and out and home to pack. My flight took off in the afternoon, just before dinner, so I knew that I needed to have something to eat on the plane. My last meal at home was lunch and knowing that my flight wouldn’t land until 8 with an additional hour of driving in the car, I spread my meals out a little differently.
Lunch was higher in protein and lower in carbs because I wanted to make sure I didn’t run out of food too fast.
For dinner, I essentially packed the same thing I had at lunch, sans jalapenos and I used a different spice blend.I had never been more thankful that dinner didn’t smell as I was when I opened the bag on the plane. No one wants to be that guy.
I also packed some snacks. Sarah sent me S’mores Boom Chica Pop Popcorn and it was a great snack to try on the plane. It says “I can be dessert if you pretend I am.”
And because I know I get hungry at specific times of the day, like 8ish at night when my dessert usually takes place, I packed a protein bar to try on my drive to the hotel. It was a newly released bar and I was so excited to try it. Sadly, this one just didn’t hit the spot an I may have reviewed it on Instagram.
But have no fear, I do eat a lot so I had dessert when i got to the hotel room. I was able to try my 5th Cookie Department Cookie. It’s called Tough Cookie and is their peanut butter cookie. Amazing. Soft and chewy and I mean just amazing. This was really winning and probably the best way to close my macros for the night.
But, my night didn’t end at the hotel. The room had a number of issues, the biggest one being the door wouldn’t shut and close properly. I had no faith in the manager on duty, so I called a different hotel to check on room availability and I left. That was the end of that night.
I started my Monday off the best way I know how – at the gym. Since I was traveling and knew my options were limited, I snagged a day pass at Planet Fitness. It’s not my favorite place at all, but I figured I could get the job done.
I thought they were kidding when I saw this sign. However, when the “lunk alarm” went off around 6 am I knew they weren’t kidding. I have no idea what set it off because I was in the zone, but it scared the hell out of me and kind of made me uncomfortable. So I got in and our as fast as possible.
The rest of my trip was pretty amazing actually.
Like I said, I packed my pancakes, which always starts my week off right and I was happy to find some whip cream in the eating area of the new hotel.
I had some time and I explored for the beach.This was the first time in about 3 years that I had gone to the beach in a swim suit. I felt pretty awesome and to me, it was meaningful. I also brought Bella along for the sun and she enjoyed it too!
We explored the area a little bit and because I am a planner, I knew where to find a cupcake shop! We picked up a gorgeous chocolate cupcake and had it late Monday night for dessert.
Tuesday started of with a beautiful sunrise before we headed back home.We also had a chance to celebrate Taco Tuesday at the airport! #IIFYM
After a flight of binge watching the Food Network, I came home and was prepared to get creative in the kitchen, but only after I hit the gym first.
I do love traveling for work, but there is something about grocery shopping and making your own food. I had a ton of fun making meals this week. I also got the latest issue of Food Network Magazine, which only furthers my addiction of getting busy in the kitchen.
I tried some new to me foods this week.
I went to lunch with my coworkers and was able to make some pretty great decisions.Surprisingly, I do really well with eating out. Even through prep this wasn’t an issue, it was just a matter of looking ahead to make sure I had options. I loved what I tried, but I can’t wait to go back see what else this restaurant has to offer.
I celebrated a coworker who recently finished their masters degree. No one knew what snacks would be at the party we were having and I figure it was better to bring something than wish I had. So I made a protein brownie and stuffed it with break and bake chocolate chip cookie dough. There were a number of good decisions made for that dessert to happen. Also, when I got to the party the only healthy item was a bowl of strawberries, there were cakes, brownies and rice crispy treats otherwise. Planning ahead works for me and I’m glad I didn’t wing it.
Even though I had gone out to lunch and had an office party, I had promised myself I would get out of my apartment Thursday night. I’m a part of MeetUp in my area and they had planned a social at a new restaurant in town. I had planned to go to this specific event a few weeks ago and was able to build a beer into my macros, which was an excellent way to finish them off. I also had some great conversations and got a few numbers so I can hang out with other locals outside of MeetUp.Being social locally is something I struggle with because I don’t work in the city I live in and I’m not originally from the city I live in. Going to the gym is easy; it’s my alone time and I don’t have to have a buddy to with, but exploring would be nice with a partner. Also, this gave me an excuse to wear jeans for the first since Sunday.
Friday brought more experimenting in the kitchen.
I had my second pre-op appointment Friday afternoon and I talked about that here. Overall, I’m excited for the surgery. This surgery is necessary for my peace of mind, for me to feel comfortable with myself. I say it all the time, I’ve worked so hard the past few years and I’m so thankful that there’s a permanent way for me to show off the hard work. There are definitely a few things that make me nervous, such as the eating, but that’s why I’ve worked with my coach on a plan. We’ve talked about my macros in relation to recovery and no exercise and will be adjusting them accordingly. JP and I have talked about some things that he can make for me that will be nutrient dense so that I can reach my macro goals or come close to them.
In preparation because I am that planning girl, I have a box of some snacks I want eat through recovery. They include some Cliff bars (carbs), Combat Bars and FitCrunch (protein). There’s a few other bars I’ve added. We have also talked about pancakes and oatmeal as great carbs and protein sources that I can eat without too much effort. One piece of feedback I’ve gotten from a number of women who have had a similar surgery is that eating was a lot of effort and that they felt nauseous. I have been prescribed a medication to help with that, but I also have some small meals planned so I can eat quickly and not worry about the “rocking the boat”feeling.
Saturday brought my last exploration before surgery. I went into Boston with Bella to see the Boston Public Market, Fanueil Hall and to go to lunch. I also had the plan to pick up cupcakes because cupcaking has been something I’ve been enjoying since prep ended.
Lastly, while I sent in my progress photos and weight to Alaina in the morning like I do every Saturday, I did my write up for her last night.I’m just as impressed as she is that I’m handing this reverse to well. It’s 3 weeks post show and I’m only up .2 pounds from stage weight. I’m also eating more. Before my check-in I was up 5F and 33C. I knew that with this check-in that we would be increasing something this coming week. Proud to say that my body is loving these increases and we’ve increased fat again by 2g and carbs by another 10g.
Now, please don’t think this is all sunshine and cupcakes. After having focused on losing weight and being in a deficit for so long, increasing my food is hard mentally. I love food and I think that’s clear by how I get creative in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get intimidated. I still believe in balance and vegetables and lean meats are a huge part of my diet, but now I can have a little more fun with other foods. That’s why I have been cupcaking about once a week since prep ended. I’m making up for lost cupcakes!
For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am enjoying all aspects of food. I’m using it as fuel for my workouts, but I’m enjoying the experience of having a really great cream cheese frosting. I have grown in so many ways, but the past 3 weeks I haven’t really feared food or been concerned with weight gain like I believe I was early in my journey. Every day has new challenges, but I’m trying to live every day and have some fun. There is more to life than working out and while yes that is a big part of my life, I’m excited that I am enjoying all the other labels I am – cook, girlfriend, lifter, competitor, writer, movie lover.
It’s going to be an interesting summer, but let’s get through this week first.
Surgery is in 4 days. The countdown is real.
Sweet potatoes, pumpkins and squash are essentially relatives, so why not treat them similarly? I understand that many squashes have distinct flavors such as acorn squash being a little more nutty, but butternut squash I believe has a lot of diversity.
I’m going out on a limb to say that I think there are two main ways to cook butternut squash, boil it or roast it. I typically roast it. Tonight it was cubed before roasting. Many times, I halve it, de-seed it and lay it face down on a baking sheet to cook with a little salt. Tonight, I did something similar by using a baking sheet, but I guess I have pie on my mind.
What you’ll need
- Butternut squash
- Olive oil
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Sharp kitchen knife (or a knife that will cut through squash)
- Mixing bowl
- Cooking spray
- Baking sheet
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Start cutting your squash by halving it. Once you have it cut in half, de-seed it. I like to use and ice cream scoop because it pulls all the seeds and strings out easily.
- After you’ve de-seed your squash, start cutting it into cubes. To remove the skin, I cut it off, trying to keep as much of the meat as possible.
- Once your squash is cubed add it to your mixing bowl and sprinkle with a little olive oil. I use about 1 tablespoon. You may need to adjust this depending on how much squash you have in your bowl.
- Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Even though you tossed the squash in olive oil it an still stick to the baking sheet.
- Dump squash onto baking sheet and spread evenly so that no pieces are on top of each other.
- Sprinkle pumpkin pie spice over squash. Use as generously as you would like. You can also use just cinnamon if you don’t like the other spices in the blend.
- Sprinkle a teaspoon of Splenda over the squash.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly crispy.
I’ve heard of people using honey to sweeten up squash, what ways do you like to prepare and cook yours?
I can’t remember the last time that I actively bought a box of pasta and had an Italian night in. Even when I go out, I stay away from pasta. It’s not that I eat low carb or don’t like pasta, but I don’t feel satisfied when I eat it. I do feel full when I eat it, but within 30 minutes I’m staving again; this could be because a serving size isn’t very big or that there isn’t much nutritional value in pasta. Regardless, I’ve sought out alternatives that are lower carb and higher volume so I can stay fuller longer. Spaghetti squash is a vegetable that I’ve used multiple times with a variety of ingredients to keep it interesting and provide a similar taste to my favorite pasta dishes.
Basic how-do cook spaghetti squash
What You’ll Need:
- large pot
- spaghetti squash
- ice cream scoop
- Fill a large pot about 75% of the way with water and set to get it boiling.
- Wash the outer skin of your spaghetti squash and pat dry with a towel.
- With a large and sharp knife cut the squash down the middle, length wise.
- With an ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop out the seeds.
- Place the squash in the pot and cook until tender. Depending on the size of the squash this could take 20-30 minutes.
- Once it’s full cooked, drain the squash and with a fork scrap out the meat of the squash. it’ll cook out in strains, which is where it gets its name from.
Buffalo Chicken Bake
What You’ll Need:
- cooked spaghetti squash
- Frank’s Red Hot
- cream cheese
- shredded Mexican cheese blend
- cooked chicken
- casserole dish
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray casserole dish with a little bit of cooking spray. I used a mini bread loaf pan because I was making this for one serving, but you can use any size that you believe will fit all of your ingredients.
- Cut chicken into bite size pieces. I used left over chicken that I had already baked. *Make sure your chicken is already cooked.
- In a bowl weigh out your spaghetti squash. Since this was one serving, I used 100 grams of squash.
- Mix in each ingredient one at a time so they are all fully mixed.
- Add in Frank’s Red Hot to taste. I used 3 tablespoons because I like the kick.
- Add cream cheese. I used 1 table spoon of fat free cream cheese just a store brand.
- Add shredded cheese. I used Mexican cheese blend, but you could use cheddar or Monterrey Jack.
- Pour mixed into casserole pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350.
Italian Style Spaghetti Squash
What You’ll Need:
- cooked spaghetti squash
- Newman’s Own pasta sauce
- cooked ground turkey
- shredded Mexican cheese blend
- small pot
This recipe is for one serving so adjust the ingredients as you feel is necessary to make a larger quantity.
- In a medium pot heat up 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of pasta sauce. I used Newman’s Own because it has less sugar than a lot of other brands and therefore less carbohydrates.
- Add 150g of cooked spaghetti squash to the sauce and mix. Make sure that the squash is completely covered.
- Add in 4 ounces of cooked ground turkey. I cook my ground turkey like I do for Sloppy Joes, nice and crumbly. Also, make sure to drain the grease.
- Lastly, add in shredded cheese and mix so the it melts and is stringy.
I add spices to this recipes like basil or oregano. I also will add cooked onions, peppers and mushrooms too if I want more volume. Obviously, it doesn’t fully replace spaghetti, but the flavor is pretty darn close.
I’ve also tried Alfredo sauce and spinach with spaghetti squash, but I wasn’t that big of a fan. These are definitely my top two ways to cook it. It’s also good plain with a little bit of salt as a side too.
I love playing with alternatives and veggies. I hope you get inspired by these two combinations and get creative in the kitchen to think of your own!