vitamix

Raising The Bar

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I started week two of C25K this week. So far it’s noticeably easier this time around and I feel that’s a testament to how my level of fitness has increased over the years. It’s also a huge help that I’ve kept up with a daily yoga practice. My legs were sore last week but daily stretching with yoga, plus a longer class on Thursday night, has really helped make the soreness barely noticeable. This week I also upped my speed in half of the segments that I’m running. The program this week has me alternating running for 1.5 mins and walking for 2 mins for a total of about 29 minutes. I was excited to break the two mile mark yesterday and will try to up my speed when I run again tomorrow. I will say I’m missing my HiiT workouts. I had to shift things around to make room for running so I’m taking a break from HiiT and Kettlebell 2-3 days/wk to running 3 days/wk. While running is great to build my cardio, it’s also a bit boring (especially when compared to HiiT), and it’s not dynamic so it’s uber-focused on legs and core so the rest of my body is just happy I’m continuing to climb and do yoga to keep it active.

I reached a new height in climbing today by killing a 5.9+ route. Regular climbers may not find this impressive, but for me it was a big deal. I specifically chose the route because it had very few jugs and was mostly slopers, pinchers and globes. I hate all of those, though slopers and I have become friendly lately. I’ll also admit the two globes thrown into that route proved to be really nice resting points. But pinchers? We’re still not cool, pinchers. For the non-climbers that read my blog I will eventually explain more about those different holds so sorry if you feel left in the dark for now.

I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a new smoothie recipe, so here’s my current favorite:

Pineapple Mango Smoothie
Pineapple Mango Smoothie

Pineapple Mango Smoothie:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk (recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 tbsp flax seed (if your blender won’t pulverize this buy it ground)
  • handful fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen mangos
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple

Blend it up in the mixer of your choice! I still love my Vitamix and make smoothies for myself and my partner every morning. If you’d like to indulge in the rest of the meal pictured above, make yourself some Scrambled Eggs with Spinach!

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach (yes, this may sound simple but I’m posting the recipe because I believe my scrambled eggs are recipe-worthy)

Ingredients:

  • two eggs (preferably free-range organic, even better if they’re local)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk (recipe here, omit vanilla and sweetener)
  • handful baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or fat of your choosing)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in pan over medium-low
  2. Beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper until slightly frothy.
  3. Add eggs to pan and move continuously. This is the biggest trick to making light, fluffy eggs; keep them moving constantly. I like to use a heat-safe silicon spatula to keep folding them in on each other.
  4. When eggs are barely firm (maybe 20-30 seconds in the pan) add the spinach.
  5. Continue moving constantly until they reach desired firmness and spinach has wilted.

Now have your smoothie and scramble and go take over the world! 😉

Upper Arm Beatings and Post-Workout Pancakes!

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One of my friends, Rosie of Rock Bodies, is a personal trainer who often posts delicious healthy recipes to Facebook.  She found a recipe for pancakes that uses just two ingredients: banana and eggs.  Seriously, that’s it.  They are AMAZING.  Before I made them though I had to finish my workout for the day (especially since I was having local sausage with my pancakes).

Today I wanted to focus on arms and abs.  Yesterday I did Zuzka’s ZShred #3 which was a legs-intensive high-intensity workout.  I really prefer full-body workouts and while I felt like a new person after this workout, it ended up being too much for me and I am HURTING today. So I decided to take it easier on my legs.  This workout will definitely get your heart rate up but it’s primarily a strength training workout and while it’s an upper-body focus there’s definitely leg involvement as well.

6/29/13 – Set interval timer to 2 rounds 45 sec activity, 15 sec rest
  1. KB Swing
  2. KB Snatch R
  3. KB Snatch L
  4. Weighted pilates sit-ups
  5. Plank climbers
  6. Pull-ups (as many as you can do
  7. Dive bombers
  8. Renegade Row
  9. Single-Leg deadlifts
  10. Dragon flags

Once you’ve completed that you deserve some pancakes right?

Paleo Pancakes

Paleo High Protein Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Banana
  • Optional: pinch of cinnamon
  • Optional: ~1tbsp protein powder or tapioca flour

Directions:

  1. Beat the banana and egg together.  You’re done making the batter!  No, seriously, this recipe couldn’t be easier.  I used my Vitamix to mix them but you can easily do it by hand.  I added cinnamon, which turned out great.  I also made the mistake of using jumbo eggs so my batter was a bit too thin so I added some tapioca flour to thicken it.  You can use protein powder as a thickener if you prefer (I recommend using a plant-based powder without GMOs, soy or whey).
  2. Cook on skillet like normal pancakes.  I recommend making them small and thin (the large one in the picture was to finish off my batter).

I found with the sweetness of the banana no syrup was necessary, though I’m sure if you like you can add some maple syrup or agave.  Enjoy!!

Day 40, 3600 Burpees, 19 Miles, Food Allergy RESULTS!

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I completed my third Hot Yoga/Bikram class at Geezum Crow Yoga last night and it was AWESOME!!  I really feel much more supported there than at Bikram Stowe and I’m going to try to make a point to go there more often.  In the meantime, to make things a bit more affordable I’m looking for a good iOS app for Hot Yoga.  After scouring reviews it looks like Hot Yoga Doctor is the most robust app with actual full spoken classes, despite their website being abhorrent.  I wish I could find an actual video.  I was surprised that My Yoga Online doesn’t have one (I highly recommend that site, btw).

Yesterday I received back the results of my food allergy testing.  I had IgA, IgE and IgG testing done against 96 foods.  It was done by Green Mountain Natural Health (processed at US BioTek) and I’m extremely grateful that my insurance covered the test in full.

I had the testing done because I’ve always had digestive issues and for the most part I’ve just accepted that and try to ignore it.  I’ve had acid reflux since I was a kid and that’s the only condition I really had diagnosed and treated.  I used to be on daily prescription meds but got off them with the help of a change in diet, and adding in yoga and abdominal massage (speaking of which if you are ever in the NH area I highly recommend seeing Kym Feltovic for Maya Abdominal Massage).  That was probably one of my first forays into the power that a change of lifestyle has.

On top of the acid reflux, I also struggle with bloating, stomach pains after eating and lower GI inflammation.  Those things have become so common that I thought they were part of life.  I’ve been on many types of diets.  Some due to dating partners with diet restrictions, some for fun, and more recently some elimination diets.  I’ve done two elimination diets (cleanses) and both times I found I had sensitivities to dairy and gluten.  Dairy was no surprise, I eat sundaes with the full knowledge that I’m entering a world of pain.  Gluten was annoying to find out but it makes sense.  I also noticed from those diets that I do much better with very little sugar.  This was also no surprise as both my Mom and I struggled with an overpopulation of yeast and my Dad and his Dad struggled with issues with diabetes.  Since those diets I’ve significantly cut back on dairy, gluten and sugar.

Yesterday I was handed a large booklet and finally got the results in full technicolor:

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I only photographed what I was allergic to.  I’m thankfully not allergic to any meat/fowl/eggs or any vegetables.  I am allergic to all dairy, coffee, sugar cane, brewer’s yeast, cranberry, clam, crab, kidney bean, corn, all wheat, oat, rye, sesame seed, spelt, and sunflower seed.

I posted the results to Facebook yesterday and had the most comments I think I’ve gotten to a post ever.  Food issues really rowel people up.  I’ve learned nutrition is a very personal thing with lots of different opinions and if you’re not already used to a restricted diet it can seem like the end of the world.  Let me be clear, this is not the end of the world at all.  I’m actually super-excited that I can now start working on these allergies and see how they will change my body!

The big surprises were cranberries and sesame seeds.  That means no more cranberry juice in my smoothies and I have to find another gluten free cracker that isn’t sesame-based.  I already knew dairy and gluten would be on there.  Brewer’s yeast is unfortunate, especially since that rules out making nut cheeses with nutritional yeast.  Crab and clam is annoying, but I eat them so infrequently that I’m not going to let it bother me (and I’m still going to rock soft-shell crab season).  And thankfully I had already quit coffee, despite my undying love for both roasting and drinking it.

Since I had already intuited a good chunk of these allergies and started being very strict about my diet since March 1st, I’ve actually lost 7lbs and my belly isn’t sticking out like a pregnant woman anymore (still a bit poofier than I’d like but, meh).  So I already know there’s truth to this test and I will feel better if I eat the foods that fuel and nourish my body.  I really didn’t mean to lose weight that quickly, just strictly cutting out dairy, gluten and sugar made an enormous difference.

The next step now is to do an elimination diet with the foods I tested as allergic to.  I let the doctor know that I’m going to cheat on St. Patrick’s Day and on a long weekend I might have coming up in Boston.  But, I don’t intend to cheat excessively.  After that I’ll be doing two solid weeks of elimination.  Then I need to add in one allergen at a time and note my reaction.  What surprised me is that my doctor said once I know how each effects me there are treatment options so it’s possible that I won’t have to cut these foods out of my diet for good. I don’t yet know what the treatment options are (one of my packets mentioned acupressure), but I’m curious to find out.

I was asked by a couple people if I’m actually allergic to these foods or if I just have a sensitivity to them.  I technically have an allergy to them, but not a fatal allergy.  The consequences are bloating, acid reflux, lower GI inflammation, fatigue and insomnia…with possibly more symptoms to discover as I do the elimination diet.  Dairy also gives me some respiratory issues, coughing from phlegm.  As far as food allergies go, I do consider myself very lucky.  My throat doesn’t swell up, I don’t have trouble breathing, etc.  So if you want to call it a sensitivity I suppose that would be accurate, but this test sitting next to me is calling it an allergy.  It’s basically all semantics. 

I’d love to hear from others out there who have been through this or who are curious about it!  I’m also on the hunt for more recipes that fit my diet, have anything good?  The first on the docket is a recipe for hummus without tahini.  Must go Google now!

36 Days, 3240 Burpees, 16 Miles, and Bargaining with Yourself

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Are you the type of person who has an inner monologue that you make bargains with?  “If I run a mile I can eat a slice of pizza.”  “If I get home before 5 I’ll do my workout, otherwise I’m just cooking dinner.”  Chances are the answer is “yes”, because you’re human (or you’re a dog who learned how to read, good job).  We all make little bargains with ourselves and while I’m using exercise and diet as examples, bargaining can creep into any part of your life.

The other day while driving through a snowstorm in Vermont, I listened to an episode of Radiolab (one of my favorite shows) called “Help!“.  They discussed bargaining and told a story of a long-term smoker who made a deal with herself to finally help her quit cold-turkey.  She had always tried to use the bargains of “it could kill me”, “it causes cancer”, “it makes my kids fear for me”, but all of those were easy to ignore because they’re in the future.  She needed something in the NOW.  The deal she made with herself was that if she ever smoked another cigarette she had to give $5k to the Ku Klux Klan, and her best friend had to keep her good to that promise.  Now, that might sound ridiculous but after a life of fighting for civil rights it was high enough stakes to make her quit.  I highly recommend listening to the whole episode to hear more.

I mentioned my weight woes the other day and I decided to make a high-stakes bargain with myself.  If I don’t lose 20lbs in three months I’m buying $500 in Monsanto seeds and gifting them to a local farm.  I can’t tell you how sick that idea makes me.  Not just the fact that I’d be giving $500 to Monsanto, but that I’d then have to do the walk of shame to present these to a local farmer and if the farmer doesn’t care that they’re from Monsanto I could potentially be polluting my local soil with GMO seeds.  Aaaaggghhhh!!

I’ve got to say, so far it’s working.  It’s gotten me to hot yoga, it’s got me running faster, and it has me picking up healthy snacks and tracking my calories with a fine-tooth comb.  After months of exercise and not seeing my weight drop, I’m FINALLY seeing the pounds start to go.  I’m on a fairly strict diet now of two-green smoothies a day, a healthy snack and then a healthy dinner, plus lots of water.  No food within a few hours of bed, no gluten, no dairy, no caffeine, no processed foods, no sugar.  These are rules I try to live by anyway but I’m not nearly as strict as I have been in the past week.  Wish me luck, because believe me the alternative is NOT HAPPENING!!

I also made my tastiest smoothie yet and I have to share the recipe with you!

ImageAlmond Green Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond Milk
  • 1 scoop protein powder (I used Fat Flush Body Protein)
  • 1/4 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen peaches
  • 1/4 cup frozen mango
  • 1 cup raw spinach
  • 1 tsp flax seeds
  • 1 tsp flax seed oil
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut flake

So. Friggin’. Good!!  It’s fruity and nutty and vitamin-packed!  Plus it’s only 394 calories and has a whopping 25g of protein!  This made me a very happy woman, I hope you love it!

35 Days, 3150 Burpees, 15 Miles and Hot Hot Yoga!

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I’d love to tell you that the 90 burpees a day are getting easier, but they still seem like a chore I do three times a day.  The one thing that’s really getting better is my form.  I used to really struggle with pushups and I feel like I can do them gracefully now and even slow it down so I can really focus on working my muscles.  I suppose my endurance is also getting better but I definitely still sweat every time!

Running is getting better.  My times are getting shorter as my speeds are getting faster.  I’ve been taking things very slowly with running and I tend to alternate between speed walking and sprinting.  I’m making my sprints longer and am starting to set firmer goals so I get to a point where I can run the entire time.

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My latest love is Hot Yoga, closely related to (and sometimes synonymous with) Bikram.  I had tried Bikram two years ago and had a really poor experience.  I’ve been practicing yoga for *counts* 16 years (!!) so I have a solid foundation, though I’m definitely still learning and am not a “pro”.  That said, I feel comfy in most intermediate/advanced classes.  I went in on New Year’s morning, which was a poor choice after drinking champagne the night before.  The temperature and humidity of the studio immediately triggered my acid reflux, giving me pain in my esophagus and I quickly got nauseous.  I managed to stay in the class for 75 minutes, having to drop to child’s pose on occasion.  I then felt like I really was going to puke and I left the class quietly and ended up crying in the hallway.  I am not a woman who often cries, especially in public settings, this was a really low moment for me.  I swore off doing Bikram again.

Flash forward to a couple weeks ago when I had a really bad day and was meeting friends late in the evening so I had some time to kill in town.  I wanted to do something to help me get over my bad mood and the only yoga class I could find that fit into my schedule was a 6pm class at Geezum Crow Yoga.  This was called “Hot Yoga”, which the teacher said is similar to Bikram but the certification is different.  The room was HOT (~108ºF with 30% humidity) and believe me I dripped with sweat the entire time but…I did it!  It was hard but the teacher was really encouraging, the class was small and I felt comfortable.  I felt like I could really work through my shit and focus on my body and my space.  I pushed myself to places I had never been with yoga before and I left feeling both energized and exhausted all at once. 

I think the main difference was that I was well-hydrated for this class and also I’m physically in better shape now.  Since the experience feels like running a marathon, I didn’t expect to go back any time soon but I found myself craving that feeling of catharsis and accomplishment (hello endorphins!).  I went back this past Friday and had another amazing experience with a different teacher.

Once again I began lusting after that amazing feeling.  Plus, when I saw that my calorie counter told me I was burning almost 700 calories in the class I really wanted to go back!  I decided to once again brave the Bikram studio near me, Bikram Yoga Stowe.  I attended a class there yesterday and unfortunately it’s not the studio for me.  We all have different needs in yoga.  For me, I love to push myself and explore but I appreciate a teacher who’s soft (but pushes me) and flexible in their teaching. I also appreciate smaller classes when I can get them.  Bikram Yoga Stowe was like walking into Yoga bootcamp.  It wasn’t a full class but there were still about 25 people there.  It felt much hotter than Geezum Crow, despite them saying the temperatures are the same.  I expect it was just more humid in there.  It also didn’t help that I managed to be right next to the heater.  

The real turnoff for me was the teacher, she was just not right for me.  The room was filled with what looked like athletes.  While there were many body types and age ranges, the predominant crowd was younger, thin and with chiseled bodies.  They were loud and social before class and had obviously been going there for a while; so it’s clear that the teacher is right for some people and the practice is effective.  The teacher came in like a drill sergeant.  While she had a nice demeanor, I felt like she was barking orders at the speed of an auctioneer.  She never stopped talking.  Constant, monotone instructions interspersed with hand claps to prompt us into the next pose.  Her instructions were also colored with back-handed insulting remarks that surprised me.  Things like, “If your head isn’t touching your knee you’re not even beginning to do the posture”.  Instead of the encouraging comments that I’m used to like, “Try to touch your head to your knee to get into the posture”.  There was a definite sense that things were her way or the highway and with her constant chatter it was difficult for me to mentally get in the zone.  Again, I know this works for some people but it’s not why I come to the mat.  Friday I will be back at Geezum Crow.

Finally, I made such a delicious smoothie this morning that I have to share it with you!

Chocolate Almond Delight

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp spirulina
  • 1 tsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp flax seed oil
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1 scoop Fat Flush Body Protein (or protein powder of your choosing)
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 tsp raw cacao powder

Chocolaty, fruity, nutty, AMAZING!!! Give it a go!

33 Days, 2970 Burpees, 13 Miles and a delicious new smoothie!

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On top of my normal workouts I headed out to hike Elmore mountain today with my man and my trusty pup.  While the grey days of winter really seem to stretch on far too long, today was one of those special Vermont days when the weather was fair and the mountain tops were covered in a fresh dusting of snow.  It really was a beautiful hike and it’s a shame I didn’t think to snap a picture.

Afterwards we were starving!  Neither of us had really eaten enough to support the level of exercise we did today, which is always dangerous.  We headed to the grocery store and it was a real fight for both of us to not leave with a cart full of frozen pizzas and pastries.  We made it out with the veggies and eggs we went in for and quickly ran home to make what has become the most amazing smoothie I’ve ever had!  Chocolate lovers, this baby is for you!

In searching for new green smoothie recipes I came across this great post featuring 4 recipes under 400 calories.  I added protein powder to it and it was seriously incredible!

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Chocolate Covered Raspberry Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (original recipe uses almond milk)
  • 2 cups organic spinach
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries (original recipe uses fresh and adds 1-3 ice cubes)
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds (original recipe calls for ground, I like using whole seeds)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 scoop of Fat Flush Body Protein

If you love chocolate and raspberries this is for you!  I also just got a jar of the Fat Flush Body Protein, which I’ve reviewed previously.  Now that I’ve been using several different protein powders I can make a better comparison.  It’s texture is closer to Plant Fusion powder I reviewed, in that it’s a very fine light powder.  It dissolves pretty well with minimal grit.  It does contain stevia which is a con for me, the stevia aftertaste annoys me.  While the powder itself has that sweet smell, the flavor in the smoothies hasn’t bothered me like it has with other powders.  I’d be happier if it didn’t have stevia but it meets all of my other protein powder requirements so I’m actually going to raise the rating on this from a B+ to an A-.  I’ll definitely finish the jug.

32 Days, 2880 Burpees, 12 Miles and Wearing Too Much Weight!

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I’m excited that I’ve made it over a month in my 90 day burpeee challenge!  I’ve also kept up with running a mile every morning and I’m already seeing my speeds improving and my legs are becoming shapelier.  I’m also excited to say that after five days of calf pain, I’m no longer feeling terribly sore from running, just dealing with some minor aches and pains.  I’m just about finished with the current Zuzka ZWOWs that are up on her site so as a present to myself for completing them I purchased her ZCut Power Cardio series and I’ll let you all know what I think of it.  On top of all of this I’m finally finding joy in doing hot yoga and the two sessions I’ve done have kicked my ass, made me sweat more than anything in my life, and made me feel AWESOME!!  This is a huge change from the first time I tried Bikram, when it triggered my acid reflux and I left the class with 15 minutes to spare and cried in the hallway, seriously.

Now I have to get into a topic that I know is seriously overdone on the internet.  I fully expect most of you to zone out right about now.  Oh wait, let me tell you the topic: Body Image.  Ok, now you can zone out. 😉

I’ve been blessed that for most of my life I haven’t struggled with real body image issues.  I’ve had minor issues but for the most part I’ve been confident with my size and shape.  I was stick thin for most of my childhood, to the point of being teased.  Then in high school my Swedish genes kicked in and I suddenly had some junk in the trunk and a small belly.  College rolled around and I was living a very unhealthy lifestyle, practically living off of taco bell and alcohol.  My weight skyrocketed to 180 and I was wearing a size 14.  But somehow I never felt large.  I’m a tall woman, just shy of 6′, which allows me to conceal my weight well. My arms and calves generally remain thin even when my hips, butt, gut and thighs expand.

It wasn’t until I moved to Boston, fresh out of school, and started working a retail job where I was on my feet all day, that I realized how unhealthy I had been.  Just by living a different lifestyle (normal schedule, steady income which led to good food, and walking all the time) I dropped down to a size 8.  I was also doing yoga regularly then but really wasn’t exercising aside from that.  When I then attended school for massage I began lifting weights and building muscle.  That’s when I started paying more attention to my body and I kept my weight around 165.  Not fantastic, but with the muscle and staying at that size 8 I felt good and I think I looked good.  The one thing I really never lost was that gut; my belly always protruded and I have an over-emphasized lordotic curve (curve in the low back) which often means lack of abdominal strength.

Flash forward a few years.  I eat well, I exercise regularly and I even went through training in Kickboxing and Insanity.  I have to say the Insanity program is AWESOME!  It’s HARD, but that was the first thing that really kicked my core strength into gear.  I know I have a great core now, and I’m constantly improving it, but I still have that gut and curve.  I’ve tried not eating within a few hours of bed, eating several small meals instead of a few large ones, cutting out gluten and dairy, even doing full food elimination diets.  Nothing really seems to help.  Then this past November my boyfriend and I really fell off the wagon, as one tends to do around the holidays.  I wouldn’t say it was a worse year than usual but suddenly that 165lbs became 175lbs.  In mid-January I got back on the horse and have been eating healthy and exercising. As you all know in the past 32 days I’ve upped my exercise routine quite a bit.

So guess what?  Want to know how much weight I’ve lost?  I mentioned my legs are looking more cut.  I didn’t mention that my arms are more muscular, my face looks thinner, my shoulders and back look like I could punch through a wall.  So how much weight did I lose?  None.  I gained weight.  As of this morning the scale say I’m 183lbs.  I shit you not.  I’m pissed.  I now have body issues.  Apparently I’m a late bloomer but I’m working my ass off and that gut is going out instead of in.  I use MyPlate so I know what my nutrition is and I’m well within the appropriate range.  I also can’t be gaining muscle this fast, and when I took “before” pictures yesterday it’s apparent that there’s quite a bit of weight around my mid-section.  Even in yoga I found myself self-conscious of the fact that the other women in the room were so much thinner than me.  Wtf?!  I know full well we all come in different shapes and sizes and the point is that I’m healthy so why am I freaking out about this?!

Well, I am.  For the past two days I’ve switched to two smoothies a day.  I was having one for breakfast and now I do one for breakfast, one for lunch, an afternoon snack and a reasonably-portioned dinner.  I don’t feel I personally have much more time to exercise, since I’m already doing about 90 minutes a day, so I have to look at diet.  I also had food allergy testing done and I get the results back in a week so I can see if it’s possible that something I’m eating is bloating me up (the testing was also done for other digestive issues I have).

So….blargh!  But enough venting about my odd weight issues.  Lettuce talk about snacks (yes, punny, but most of you stopped reading ages ago so…):

ImageThis was today’s afternoon snack.  It’s a whopping 108 calories with 8g of protein!

Ingredients (which you can all see pretty clearly):

  • Romaine lettuce leaf
  • Small handful of snap peas
  • Small handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 hardboiled egg, sliced

I rolled it up like a burrito and it was surprisingly delicious and filling enough to get me to dinner, which will be steamed salmon and brussels sprouts.

For now, it’s time to find new exciting smoothie recipes.  I will share that my local health food store offers frozen wheatgrass shots.  I’ve been adding those to my smoothies and it’s pretty good. 🙂