Fitness Friday: The Game On! Diet

Several of my co-workers invited me to participate in a weight loss challenge called the Game On! Diet. Since going back to work, I’ve struggled with eating as healthy as I’d like to and finding the time to exercise. This challenge seemed like a great way to get me back into a good diet and exercise groove! And on top of that, since I’m working in a new environment with new co-workers…it also seemed like a great way to foster teamwork and friendship.

I haven’t actually read this book, so it’s possible that I’m not understanding all the aspects of it. My co-worker has this book, and has given instructions to those of us participating. I’ve also flipped through her copy a few times.

It seems pretty simple. I eat five small meals a day, about two-four hours apart. At each  meal, I have a palm-sized portion of lean protein, a fist-sized portion of carbs (think complex and whole grain) a thumb-size portion of a healthy fat. We each have a print out of what would be considered acceptable choices for each category. At least two meals a day should have two fist-fulls of veggies. Cucumber and celery can be eaten at any time throughout the day. Artificial sweeteners and processed sugars should be avoided. I get daily points for the five meal that I eat, following the competition guidelines (you don’t get points for eating more or eating less). I get one cheat day a week and cheat meal a week. I also can eat 100 calories every day of almost whatever I want (I choose flavored coffee creamer).

But it’s not just about what I eat. I also get 20 points a day just for exercising 20 minutes (I’ve been doing yoga). At least seven hours of sleep scores me 15 points, and drinking three liters of water gets me 10 points.

But wait! I also get points for dropping an old habit and beginning a new one (a good habit). At the beginning of the competition, we each listed out bad habits that we wanted to get rid of and new habits that we want to adopt. You get 10 points a day for each bad habit that you don’t do, and 10 points a day for each good habit that you do. One of my bad habits is hitting the snooze button every morning. Although now I stopped doing that, and I just wake up and reset my alarm for 15 minutes later. That’s kind of the same thing, right? Hmmmm….clearly need to keep working on that.

For good habits, I added things like daily push-ups and squats. I also added spending more time with Little J. When I get home from work, I tend to incorporate him in what I’m doing (helping Mommy made dinner, etc.), but I’m making a point of just focusing attention on him -no distractions- every day.

At the end of the week, each person adds their points up. Points can be lost for snacking (other than celery and cucumber) and drinking alcohol, and a couple of other things as well. Each team then averages the individuals’ points, and then the teams compare their overall scores. Last week, my team lost. 🙁 But it’s okay. We have time! We’re doing this for three weeks, then one week off, and then we’ll repeat the process. At the end, the winning team gets a trophy and bragging rights.

I’m almost at the end of week two. This week was definitely harder than the first week, as far as getting things done at night in time for seven hours of sleep. I’m not quite as hangry this week, as I was last week, so that’s good. I’ve been doing great at sticking to this diet, although I’m not very happy about it. I’m currently munching from a bowl of a mixed lettuce blend…no dressing, sauce, nothing. It’s rabbit food. Sometimes I boil my veggies (usually collard greens or kale) in chicken stock with onions and garlic. That definitely gives it more flavor. I probably could put vinegar on my lettuce. I should try that.

My body fat has gone down, woot! I chose to use a tape measure instead of weighing-in on a scale. Some of my pants are still really tight (hellooo, muffin top), so I definitely need to drop more fat. Diet plays a huge role in that; I just need to keep plugging away at the lean meats and veggies.

Below you can see some examples of food that I typically eat for one of my meals:

This is a typical breakfast- low fat plain Greek yogurt with plain raw oats and a half teaspoon of raw honey. Sometimes I use pure maple syrup instead of honey. For my healthy fat, I usually eat a spoonful of peanut butter (the kind that’s just peanuts…no added sugar or junk).

Now that I’m looking at the photo above, that might actually be a whole teaspoon of honey not a half. I should probably wean myself off the sweets!

My lunch today- raw mixed greens (no dressing), quinoa cooked in homemade chicken broth, grilled chicken (just a teeny bit of olive oil on it), and water to drink. For seasonings on the chicken and quinoa I skipped the salt and used garlic powder and cumin. I also had 5 cashews.

I’m not going to lie. It’s hard for me to eat like this. I think once I can use sauces and dressings again it won’t be so bad, but right now I’m trying to avoid the fats and sugar, so it is what it is.

Sometimes I want to quit, but the competition with my co-workers keeps me motivated. It’s not even so much about my team losing as it is that I don’t want them to lose because of me. I don’t want to let them down.

Tomorrow morning I’m having a breakfast “date” with Little J, and I’m going to thoroughly enjoy my cheat meal! I may even have an iced coffee with sugar and cream. Ohhhhh boy!

How was your week? Have you ever tried a diet and/or weight loss competition with your co-workers or friends? What delicious things have you eaten lately? (I’m trying to live vicariously through you.)

 

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Changing my diet

I think when a lot of people use or hear the word “diet,” they think of a short-term calorie or food restriction plan to lose weight. In this case I’m talking about changing my diet -permanently- for health reasons. I’ve mentioned before that my parents were health “nuts,” before it was trendy. I grew up without sugar or salt in the household. If I remember right, I was 9 years old when I had my first chocolate bar (soooo rich that I had a stomach ache!). When I grew up and moved out of the house, I still had the knowledge that my parents had given me on how to cook and eat healthy, but because of a busy work schedule and the single life, I started to eat poorly.

When I got married and had my son, my husband and I made the decision for me to stay home. So for 2 years I spent a considerable amount of time in the kitchen, cooking healthy meals from scratch for my family. Then I went back to work, and the processed foods entered our lives again. It’s been a struggle the last few months. For the most part, we have still eaten healthy meals, but we’re not doing as well as I’d like. I’d say we’re eating about 60% healthy meals and 40% not (that would be processed foods, fast foods, etc.). Well, maybe it’s better than that…but I want it to be 80% healthy (at least) and 20% not, and I know we’re not at that point.

On top of that, my best friend was diagnosed with lupus and started an autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet, which is similar to Paleo, and that got me thinking. I don’t have an autoimmune illness, but I am genetically predisposed towards them. Environmental factors (like diet) along with genetic predisposition can trigger an autoimmune condition. Talking to my friend and reading articles online (albeit, many of them are anecdotal…so there’s that to consider), I’ve decided to avoid certain foods, specifically, refined sugar, corn, soy, and wheat. Instead, we will eat a mostly plant-based diet with lean meats. If I actually had an autoimmune condition, I would avoid legumes and nightshade plants, but since I don’t…I’m just starting with the foods I listed above. I’m also continuing to eat dairy products and eggs.

Healthy, healthy, healthy

One challenge I face is cooking vegetables in a way that both Hubby and Little J will actually want to eat! Below is a photo of curly kale boiled in half water/half chicken stock, chopped onions, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. I thought it was tasty, but they were not impressed. 🙁 Well, one day at a time.

And now I’m off to work on my shopping list!

Do you have any dietary restrictions, because of choice or necessity? What are your go-to healthy food choices? Or maybe some foods you try to avoid?

Note: The opinions reflected above are mine and may differ from yours. Before making dietary changes, please always consult your physician first!

 

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Real cooking with Nicole Elizabeth at The Fresh Kitchen

I know I’ve talked about The Fresh Kitchen before, but I wanted to share again. My friend Nicole has really helped me grow as a home cook. I strongly believe in not only her cooking talents but her ability to help others, specifically moms like me. She really has taken the intimidation out of cooking for me. At one point in my life, I would never have cooked dishes that sound scary to me, like ratatouille or polenta. Turns out, a lot of things are easier to cook than I thought. And if they aren’t, Nicole talks me through them. If you have a cooking question, you can always ask on The Fresh Kitchen Facebook page!

Recently Nicole asked me and some other friends to come over for a dinner she’d prepared. I thought I’d share with you some photos of what she made. Some of the recipes are hers; others are inspired by Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, and Nicole has added her own take on the dish. If you’d like to know more about Nicole as well as view some of her recipes, check out her website www.thefreshkitchen.com.

Homemade pita and hummus
Salad made with baby spinach, pickled red onions, pickled medjool dates, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and toasted pita croutons made with butter, olive oil, sumac, Aleppo chile flakes, and kosher salt
Israeli couscous cooked in some of the chicken/apricot/tamarind braising liquid
Chicken thighs braised in apricots and tamarind
Roasted peaches over lemon pound cake with ginger ice cream and browned butter shortbread crumbs
What do you think? Which dish would you like to try?

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