DAY 4 OF 30: 2 Cakes are Better than 1: Having my Cake and Eating it Too | Chapter 26 | Motivational Monday

Hello Readers,

I am checking in. Today is day 4 of 30 of my “strict” meat & veggies only challenge. Welp, for all of you who follow me on social media you know today is my Birthday. My momentum was high and consistency was even more on point, until today.

My amazing friends surprised me with a beautiful and delicious cake. What kind of friend would I have been if I had turned down a slice? I am a advocate for spreading goodness and positivity. Therefore, no way was I going to spark negativity by turning down a opportunity to socialize over a slice of cake, in celebration of yours truly (ME). Those calories were calling my name. Rest assured I only indulged in one slice, even though that’s no excuse and does not make things any better.

Oops, correction “two slices”.

Side Note: Hubby surprised me with a mini carrot cake when I arrived home. He knows me best and to make things even better he was extremely thoughtful and considerate of my goals by picking out a mini cake rather than a traditional sized cake. The mini is a perfect size to enjoy and satisfy my sweet tooth while not falling victim to “over” indulgence.

But, guess what? Tomorrow is always a new day and I can always hit my “reset” button and start again.

[ Motivational Monday ]

We wake up each day with the power to change what we do, and what we eat. We have choices and the ability to chose our path. The power of choice is the message I am seeking to convey to all of you reading this post.

I am will not allow a slice of cake succumb my goals. No indulgence should. Just know that if you do cheat, make it a cheat “snack” aka “sample”. Not an entire meal, or a day. Never, get in over your head. If you have goals you have some sort of self discipline and know your limits. Cheat “snacks” or “samples” can happen. You should be able to enjoy and treat yourself every so often. As long as you know you limits, a slice of cake won’t hurt or set you off track from your goals.

For those of you following me on this challenge. Share with me your progress. Comment what is working or not working for you. Have you had a cheat snack? If so, what was it?

FLWE ❤

DAY 1 of 30: MEAT & VEGGIES ONLY CHALLENGE

I have been challenged by my husband to commit to consuming meat and vegetables for the next 30 days, effective today 01|02|2020. With meat and vegetables I am able to add any condiments and/or toppings. For example: ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomatoes (I hate tomatoes), and pickles. For beverages: water and tea (tea counts towards your water intake). Now, when I mention tea I am not referencing “sweet tea” or any tea beverages with artificial sweeteners.

Most importantly, this challenge involves me eliminating iced coffee. I am one of those avid iced coffee addicts and this 30 day challenge definitely will be a challenge for me as I eliminate coffee. Aside, from a caffeine headache which will probably occur with my sudden stop of caffeine, I am going to miss the social part of enjoying my iced coffee in the mornings.

During the next 30 days I hope to successfully transition from coffee to tea. There are so many different tea blends that have multiple health benefits (reduce bloating, curve cravings, cure upset stomach, relax).

I will keep each of you updated with my progress over the next 30 days and post pictures of my meals throughout the day.

Take a look at my lunch from today:

Chicken Caesar Salad (no croutons) from Panera Bread

New Year. New Vision. Healthy Me.

New Year.

I am sure you are going to see a lot of new year, new me posts from today throughout the first of the year. Disclaimer, this is not one of those posts. I am not blogging to tell you about my new year resolutions. Each year I often join the crowd and make a firm decision to do something, whether it’s committing to incorporating gym time in my daily schedule or simply crossing soda off my list of guilty pleasures.  

New Vision.

This year I am taking a different approach. I cancelled my gym membership last year when I realized that I noticed results when I stopped going 3 times a week. Yes, you read that right. I completely gave up on the gym and focused on making better decisions with my meals and that is when I noticed a change in the numbers on the scale. My husband told me that I didn’t have to go to the gym to lose weight and despite him being living proof of this I didn’t believe him. I thought I was actually doing something by checking in to Planet Fitness a few times a week. Showing up made me feel good but I still wasn’t getting the results I expected. And on the days my excuses won and I skipped out on the gym, all it did was made me feel defeated. Yet, I still found pleasure in monitoring my fitbit stats. Did burning those calories after working out help me reach my goal weight? ABSOLUTELY NOT! 

I reached my goal weight by changing my diet to a low carb diet. Each meal consisting of meat and veggies. I don’t even count calories anymore. (Bye-bye myfitnesspal) As long as you are sticking to eating meats and vegetables you don’t need to count your calories. A nice portion of meat and vegetables fills me up and gives me all the energy that I need.

Healthy Me.

So, for 2020 I am focusing on health and wellness exclusively. I can control what I put in my body and I will be eating for nourishment. When I eat well, I feel better and sleep better. This is very important to me and my entire household. My husband and I don’t just eat well for ourselves but we make sure our children are eating well also. This often is a challenge with our picky eater of a 5-year-old. But, we know and understand how much your diet affects your mental and physical wellness. We even make sure our 7-month old is eating well. We are anti-junk and do not purchase any foods with bogus ingredients.

 I challenge each of you to start your new year out with reading ingredients labels. If the ingredient list is long or contains items that are not natural—put it back on the shelf. Make your selections of foods wisely; only purchase items with pure/natural ingredients. It’s even better if you are able to purchase fresh and raw foods. Share in the comments if you are going to be joining me and going into the new year making healthier choices. If you have already made changes in your diet to eat raw and natural foods, please share your experience in the comments with others. Did you find anything specifically difficult or was it an easy change to make? What advice could you share with others to encourage them to stick to this lifestyle change?

If you are interested in learning more about how our family has been so successful at sticking to eating “good” food, be sure to follow and subscribe in order to be notified of my next blog post.

FLWE ❤

Update: Exclusively Breastfeeding (EBF) & Postpartum Weight Check

This blog post is long overdue; sorry not sorry. I am enjoying these precious moments home with our little baby boy. I know all to well the truth in the saying, ‘They do not stay little for long’. It’s the bitter sweet reality of motherhood and parenting. You find out the exciting news that you are pregnant and the time seems to take forever as your body changes over the course of 9 months. Nearing the end you grow even more impatient on your little one’s arrival as the growing pains increase and the due date nears. Once they arrive you are mesmerized by their being. Yet, with each day they grow older and milestones continue. Soon they start walking and talking. Then they start running and before you know it they are ready to start school (Kindergarten).

We take for granted these moments. Time stands still for no one. I am soaking in all the cuddles I can get before our little one grows too big that I can’t cradle him in my arms. Today marks his 25th day here in this world and that also means day 25 of exclusively breastfeeding (EBF). I am here to debunk the myth that breastfeeding is easy. Yes, it is natural, but far from easy. Most women give up on breastfeeding within 21 days after delivery. I believe that breast is best and I was determined to make this work for us. Day 25 and we are successfully making it happen. Yes, it is exhausting: nurse, pump, eat, sleep, and repeat (my life story).

EBF has been the main reason why I have been M.I.A from blogging. Blogging definitely becomes pretty difficult now that I have a baby laid across my lap and chest, rather than my macbook. Always, check in with me on social media if you want to stay updated. I have been posting more on IG and Twitter. I definitely promise to work blogging back into my schedule. I have so many topics that I am excited to share with you all.

~

Postpartum Weight Check:Prior to delivery, my last recorded weight on 5/8/19 was 180.6 lbs. I delivered on 5/11/19. Above you can see my progress pictures prior to and after delivery. At 6 days PP I weighed in at 166 lbs. By 12 days PP I weighed in at 161 lbs. If you look back at my initial post, Weekly Weigh-In Pregnancy Edition: http://fitlifewitherica.com/2019/02/28/wednesday-weekly-weigh-in-pregnancy-edition/ my pre-pregnancy weight was recorded at 163 lbs [documented on 8/19/18].

I am so amazed at how quickly I was able to reach my pre-pregnancy weight and even loose an additional few pounds. I definitely give credit to the fact that I am breastfeeding (burns calories). While, I am taking in an additional 500 calories daily in order to keep my supply up I am efficiently burning calories. All of this progress has been made without exercising. I really have not found the time to fit exercise back into my schedule yet. When I say ‘exercising’ I mean actual workouts and running. Right now I am just staying active by walking which is better than nothing. For those of you that know me, you know that keeping moving is a priority to me.

Tonight, I weigh in at 159.4 lbs. I am not too focused on the scale numbers. Since I am EBF I do not plan on making any drastic dieting cuts. It is important that I am consuming enough calories daily in order to maintain and support my milk supply. However, I still have fitness goals to be achieved. My goal is to become leaner and strength train. Over the course of the next few months I will be focusing more on reducing visceral fat and building muscle. I have some love handles that I would like to see gone and in order to make that happen the visceral fat has to go.

Fitness Tip:

Reduce the visceral fat prior to building muscle [muscle gains do not look good over fat]

I will continue to keep you all updated on my fitness journey and goals. Please continue to follow for updates, as well as other great content as it relates to: Motherhood, Fitness, Health, and Life.

FLWE ❤

Health Tip Tuesday: 5 Reasons to Avoid Eating Late at Night

If you are struggling with weight loss you may be over looking an impacting factor. Ask yourself: When are you having your last meal of the day? Do you find that you are snacking after dinner?

You should have a eating window set and an established cut off time at night after your last meal. Data collected from animals and night-shift workers correlate that those who eat late suffer from what they call, “night eating syndrome“. “Studies tend to show that when food is consumed late at night — anywhere from after dinner to outside a person’s typical sleep/wake cycle — the body is more likely to store those calories as fat and gain weight rather than burn it as energy, says Kelly Allison of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Center for Weight and Eating Disorders” (Allen, 2015).

Data collected suggests that overall the body processes food differently throughout the day. This can be a result of, but not limited to: digestion, body temperature, hormone levels, and physical activity (Allen, 2015).

While eating late at night often prompts weight gain it can also raise your blood sugar. The spiking of blood sugar levels has been linked to raising the risks of other chronic diseases. Often, night time cravings consists of higher calorie foods/snacks (sugary or salty cravings). It is recommended to avoid late night snacking and this can be successfully done through training your not only your body but yourself. Change your mindset if you are seeking to change your current lifestyle (Allen, 2015).

5 Reasons to Avoid Eating Late at Night:

  1. Altered Hormone Function: Consuming food late at night alters your hormone function, specifically- insulin, glucagon and leptin.
  2. Increased Inflammation: Calories consumed between the hours of 7 pm and midnight have been linked to an increased C-Reactive protein, which is a indication of inflammation.
  3. Impaired Blood Sugar Regulation: Insulin produced as a result of the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels throughout the day is least efficient at night. Consuming food and/or snacks that have a high-glycemic index will increase your blood sugar and impair your body’s ability to regulate your levels, resulting in increasing your risk of other chronic diseases.
  4. Increased Weight Gain: Eating late at night is linked to weight gain because the disruption of our circadian clock in our fat tissues are disrupted when consuming foods late into the night. As a result, the body is prompted to store fat rather than burn it. The body is less active at night as it attempts to slow down for the night, as triggered by our bodily clock.
  5. Elevated Triglycerides and Cholesterol: Eating outside of our circadian cycle has an impact on how our body metabolizes lipids, resulting in elevated levels.

Knowing the effects of eating late prompted a change within our family as we are all on our fitness journey. It required us to change our schedule and be consistent in our commitment. Our household enjoys dinner together each night between the hours of 5:00 – 6:00 pm. It only takes on average about two weeks to build a habit and this is a standard that we have set. We avoid eating outside of our dinner window and my husband Andrew is so strict that he will fast if he finds that eating would put him outside of our set eating window. If your schedule does not permit you to eat dinner early, adjustments will need to made to work around this. You can not use your schedule as an excuse. It is true that people find the time and dedication to do what they chose to do. If you are looking to live a more healthier lifestyle you have to want it and make the appropriate changes as needed.

Recommendations:

In the effort to minimize nighttime eating I recommend that you commit to a time window for eating. Set a time in which you will break your morning fast from the night before (breakfast= break-fast) and a time in which you will begin your fast at night (last meal of the day-dinner). If you do find that you have a hunger urge outside of your eating window replace high glycemic food/snack options with smaller and high-protein snacks (I.e. eggs, nuts, yogurt).

I encourage everyone reading this post to share your experiences in the comment section. Are you currently battling with eating late? Is weight gain a concern of yours? Is obesity effecting your health? How do you feel? Your testimony can help someone. My primary focus is to build a community around my blog but this is only possible with the help of all of my followers and readers.

Be sure to follow my Facebook page, Fit Life With Erica in order to connect with myself and others on their fitness journey.

FLWE ❤

References:

Allen, J. V. (2015, August 24). Why eating late at night may be particularly bad for you and your diet. Retrieved April 8, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-eating-late-at-night-may-be-particularly-bad-for-you-and-your-diet/2015/08/24/ad8b85ac-2583-11e5-b77f-eb13a215f593_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a8f4bd12bf7a

Clark, C. (2018, July 11). Is it Bad to Eat at Night? 6 Reasons to Avoid Nighttime Meals and Snacks. Retrieved April 8, 2019, from https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/nutrition/is-it-bad-to-eat-at-night-6-reasons-to-avoid-nighttime-meals-and-snacks/

Sunday Meal Prep: Shrimp & Chicken Alfredo w/ Broccoli

Broccoli side not pictured

Menu Items:

  • Shrimp
  • Chicken
  • Alfredo Pasta
  • Broccoli

I have been craving pasta and shrimp for a few weeks now so I decided last week that I would plan a meal prep around my cravings as I approach my final weeks of pregnancy. When planning my meals I always try to select food items that I will most likely not get tired of throughout the week and meal prep time is important for me as well. I am not for spending hours in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove. Alfredo is a convenient meal that I can just warm up servings of throughout the week.

Disclaimer: If you are following a low carb or no carb diet this meal idea is not for you.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Frozen Cooked Shrimp
  • Penne Noodles (or Noodles of your choice)
  • Parmesan Romano Cheese
  • Ragu Classic Alfredo sauce (use as needed to supplement sauce if needed)
  • Heavy Cream
  • Salted Butter
  • Broccoli
  • Seasonings: Italian, Basil, Garlic Salt, Pepper, Old Bay

Prep Time: 30 minutes

When making my Alfredo I basically prepare my own sauce using cheese, butter, and heavy cream. I season it to my liking and supplement with Ragu classic Alfredo sauce if needed to stretch my sauce. I had originally intended to steam my broccoli and mix it into my Alfredo but completely forgot and missed this step. This week I will have my broccoli on the side, topped with grated parmesan.

Are you meal prepping this week? If so, what have you prepared? Comment below-

Sunday Meal Prep: Barbecue Meatballs, Brown Rice, & Broccoli

Sunday Dinner & Meal Prep

Menu Items:

  • Barbecue Meatballs
  • Brown Rice
  • Broccoli

When preparing my grocery list last week I wanted to pick some easy menu items for the upcoming week. With only 6 weeks left in my pregnancy the last thing I want to be doing is standing on my feet in the kitchen chopping vegetables. Last weeks items (chicken, cabbage, and carrots) had me on my feet longer than I anticipated. It also becomes very difficult for me to stand for long periods of times as I tend to get lightheaded. So, at that rate last week meal prep did take longer than it should have due to my need to take frequent breaks from standing on my feet.

This weeks items: barbecue meatballs, brown rice, and broccoli took little preparation. When I woke up this morning I prepared breakfast and in the mist of preparing breakfast I pulled out the crockpot and tossed in my meatballs with barbecue sauce (original and honey barbecue) and a little grape jelly. I let that cook for about 3 hours, while I washed my hair and prepared for the day.

Neighborhood Library

After, all the McKinney’s were dressed and ready for the day ahead of us (Library visits and a birthday party) I turned my meatballs down to “keep warm.” We left the house for a few hours as we returned library books and picked out new ones. Abby even made some new friends. The library is now her favorite weekend event and I am proud that she enjoys the library. I honestly enjoy the visit myself each weekend. After, the library we went bowling to celebrate our cousins 7th birthday and we all truly had a great time.

Once we returned home I prepared my brown rice on the stovetop (5 minutes) and tossed a bag of steamable broccoli in the microwave (5 minutes). My sides for this week was effortless. I prepared enough servings of brown rice for the week and purchased enough bags of broccoli from Wegmans to prepare on demand. I even have a few different vegetables options (brussel sprouts and spinach) in case I need a variety change throughout the week.

Meal Prep Sunday

All this to say– meal prepping does not have to be hard. I would say that most time will go into your main course (meat) preparation. The are endless options for you. I have noticed that I am using my crockpot more for my meals. However, my husband uses our air fryer daily for all of his meat. He literally seasons his meat and tosses it right in the air fryer.

Have you implemented meal prepping into your routine? What has been successful for you in your meal prep? Have you come across any setbacks or distractions? Please share your experience, as it can help others.

FLWE ❤

Coffee Exposed: Why do you crave coffee?

We all know coffee to be a stimulant. Consuming coffee speeds up your central nervous system, which makes us feel more alert. Aside, from the jitters and sudden increase in energy caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine receptors typically function to promote sleep under normal conditions.

We often get addicted to the feeling of alertness and become dependent on it as a daily pick me up. Once you develop a habit of drinking coffee it can be difficult to stop. If you find yourself in this situation- this blog post is for you. (continue reading)

Why do you crave coffee?

  • Habit

If coffee has become a part of your morning routine you could simply be craving coffee out of habit. You may be consuming coffee for social purposes as well. Whatever the reason may be it stems from a psychological dependence on caffeine. This means “you” think you need it, when in reality you really don’t or just may just simply enjoy it. When you are psychologically dependent on something it can a hard habit to stop.

  • Coping Mechanism for Stress

Stress has a major effect on our bodies and sends various signals to our brain. Some of the effects of stress include: anxiety and fatigue. Many individuals seek chemical boosters like caffeine in order to cope with managing during stressful times. While it is normal to clutch to coping mechanisms to deal with stress it does create habits- which can be difficult to overcome.

  • Low Iron Levels

Coffee cravings can be associated with iron deficiency anemia. Having low iron will cause you to experience fatigue and weakness. As a result to this feeling, we tend to seek beverages that will supplement us throughout the day when we dip into those periods of tiredness.

If you suspect that you have a iron deficiency I highly recommend you to consult with your Physician. It may be helpful to begin a iron supplement in order to regulate your iron levels. This will definitely assist with resolving the fatigue and weakness that you may be experiencing. Addressing the underlying issue is crucial, since coffee contains natural compounds called tannins that prevent iron absorption. While, coffee assists temporarily with overcoming tiredness it is not a long term fix.

  • Pica Cravings

You may be wondering what these terms mean. Pica is a disorder that I am sure a great majority suffer from. Pica is when you crave things that have no nutritional value. Characteristics of these cravings is when you want food simply to enjoy the experience (taste, smell, chewing, etc.). These cravings are often associated with low iron levels as previously discussed.

As a coffee drinker I have identified that I enjoy coffee for the taste and smell. Something about the smell of a fresh brew makes me happy. I don’t necessarily drink coffee for the temporary energy jolt- since it is short lived.

  • To Avoid Withdrawal Symptoms

The most popular withdrawal symptoms from caffeine are headaches. Naturally, it can be harder to stop consuming something if we are going to experience adverse reactions (headaches). To cope with these symptoms, we sometimes unknowingly are driven to consume more. Consuming caffeine often aids to suppress headaches, increasing our craving. Other withdrawal symptoms include tiredness and lack of focus; which we also aid with coffee consumption.

  • Addiction

To have an addiction means something slightly different than dependence. To have an addiction means you continue to use a substance if though it is not good for you or is causing you problems. Caffeine dependence is more common than having an actual addiction. However, if you suspect that your have an addiction- seek medical advice.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. I will be discussing in the coming weeks how to deal with coffee cravings, and coffee health benefits.

Please like, share, and subscribe.

FLWE ❤

[Table Talk] Does your Doctor really know best? – Video: Health Theory- Keto Conspiracy w/ Ken Berry

Watch for more information

I highly encourage you to be your own advocate when it comes to your health. Do your research. Anyone who speaks against the sustainability of eating meats and veggies for the long term simply lacks knowledge.

Healthcare professionals push the incorporation of fruit, dairy, grains and starches in your “balanced” diet. However, they advise you to reduce sugar in your diet. Be mindful that these foods break down ultimately into sugar. Consuming these foods in excess can result in many health problems as sugar is linked to inflammation and the breaking down of needed blood vessels.

The most proven way to accelerate weight loss and improve your health is to reduce sugar in your diet. In order to reduce sugar in your diet, you must eliminate the consumption of simple carbs (ceral, pasta, soda, bread, etc.) Aside from what you are consuming your body makes and regulates its own sugar. Adding excess sugar will result in excess weight gain. This is a fact that I did not learn from my personal doctor. There are so many enlightened individuals like Dr Ken Berry, who have medical degrees and are actively sharing supported information on these issues.

Doctors are working for the healthcare industry and they are expected to follow certain guidelines which are regulated. If they really told you the truth on how to “get healthy” it would be a fall in our healthcare system. There would be no need for monthly follow up appointments, or repeat labs. Pharmaceutical companies would see a decrease in profit, since medication sales would also decrease.

Medication is not the answer to controlling your levels or getting healthy. There are far too many risks associated with medications that are recommended to “treat” medical conditions. Medications are not the cure or answer to your health problems. I personally would not choose to medicate a problem. I support solving and eliminating the problem.

Please share your thoughts on the shared video and my post below.

FLWE ❤