Saturday, April 30, 2016

How Clean Eating Finally Worked for Me

Even though I've been a crappy blogger lately, I'm always posting on Facebook and Instagram.  You should be following me there.  For those of you that are have been reaching out and asking me what am I doing to "eat clean" I'm finally here to answer your questions.

First, I have a major love for food and I tend to eat lot of junk.  I'm looking at you Lay's potato chips. I'm also the queen of the yo-yo.  Why you ask?  Because I couldn't find a way of eating that I could maintain for any length of time. Until now.

Here's the thing, even though I felt like I knew what I was doing, I had no idea.  It used to be, in my 30s and even up to last year, I could cut my portions and calories and lose weight.  Calories in vs calories out right?  WRONG!  So wrong!  I found myself eating far too few calories and feeling starving.  Enter my friend Tracey.

Tracey and I have been friends for about 4 years.  She's an athlete (triathlon, CrossFit) and we're both moms to the most awesome Jacks in 2nd grade.  She and I run (literally and figuratively) in a lot of the same circles.  I've talked to her about nutrition A LOT.

Me and Tracey 
Tracey knows my struggles with food and I think honestly she probably gave up on me.  But this year starting January 1 I decided to take off the 15 pounds I spent 2015 packing on to my body.  By April 1 I had lost maybe 2 pounds.  I was frustrated.  My old tricks weren't working.  So I started talking to Tracey about my frustrations and she rolled her eyes (not really.... I hope) and set out to have another conversation with me about food, nutrition and "clean eats".

Tracey focuses on not only WHAT you eat (I mean duh), but also when you eat it and how much you eat of certain food groups.  I can't get into all the specifics of what to eat when EXACTLY, but I'm going to share what she taught me.

Life is now about "coloring" my food.  No I don't mean putting different color foods on your plate literally.  Let me explain.  Every food has a color and I'll explain it in simplest terms.

Blue:  Protein
Green: Veggies
Red: Natural Carbs
Purple:  Simple Carbs
Yellow: Fat

And there's really only one thing you need to know from here.  Blue + Green = Lean (I'm pretty sure that's trademarked by Tracey).  George joked with me, "well, what does purple + red equal?"  My answer?  Purple + Red = Dead.

Tracey taught me to eat mostly blue and green with a smattering of red NEAR YOUR WORKOUTS and to use purple and yellow sparingly.  I really focus on the blue + green.  And since I know people really want to see EXACTLY what I've been eating.  Here are some samples.

Grilled chicken breast: Blue
Black Beans: Red
Tri Color Peppers: Green
Cauliflower Rice: Green

Homemade Grass Fed Organic Hamburger:  Blue
Spring Mix:  Green
Carrots:  Green
Dressing (less than 5 gm sugar per serving):  Purple

Flank Steak:  Blue
White Potato:  Red (Not Tracey approved.... sub sweet potato)
Spring Mix: Green
Tomato: Green
Carrot:  Green
Half Serving Dressing:  Yellow
Half Serving Feta Cheese:  Yellow

Pork Tenderloin Grilled: Blue
Sweet Peppers:  Green
Red and Sweet Potatoes roasted:  Red

Mahi Mahi: Blue
Mango Salsa (Mango, onion, jalapeno): Green/Purple
Cilantro:  Green
Corn Tortilla:  Red
(I could definitely have used more green in this meal) So yeah, ditch the tortillas and make it a salad

Salmon Burger:  Blue
Organic Salsa:  Green
Spring Mix: Green
Strawberries:  Purple
Half Serving Dressing:  Yellow
Half Serving Feta Cheese:  Yellow

Salmon Burger:  Blue
Organic Salsa:  Green
Broccoli: Green
Shaved Kerrygold Dubliner cheese:  Yellow

Post Workout Breakfast:
Banana:  Purple
Eggs:  Blue
Salsa: Green
Steak:  Blue

Eggs: Blue
Salsa: Green
Mushrooms:  Green

Post workout Breakfast:  
Eggs:  Blue 
Salsa: Green 
Red and Sweet Potatoes:  Red 

Cucumbers: Green
Cashews:  Yellow
(green and yellow make good snacks.  I find I need the fat to keep me full.)

Whole day worth of Snacks for work:  
Apple and Cashews:  Purple and Yellow 

Cucumbers/Carrots/Turkey and Mustard:  green/green/blue/yellow/hmmm I don't know what color mustard is. 

Organic Grass Fed Uncured Beef Stick 

I eat a LOT of the same things over and over again because that is what works for me.  I'm a creature of habit and I kind of like what I like.  In addition, these are only the foods I took pictures of.  Obviously these are not the ONLY meals I have eaten.

When I eat blue + green and add in bits of red, purple and yellow I feel full and satisfied.  Before my meals would be RED + RED + RED and a tiny bit of blue and I'd wonder why I was hungry in a few hours.  I couldn't keep myself full and it was miserable.  

Listen, I will ALWAYS have food demons.  I love food and I don't necessarily love to eat super clean.  I'm a foodie.  I love good food that's not good for you, but I also have goals for how I like to look and feel.  As I've gotten older it's really taken me buckling down.  I'm not sure why "coloring" my food worked for me.  I visualize the colors as I'm putting them on my plate and it helps guide me as to what I should be eating.  

You can eat salads all day long but if it's full of purple, red, and yellow (dressing, bacon, avocado, feta cheese, fruit) it's not a "healthy" salad.  I only allow myself to have on serving of fat at a meal.  So 1/2 a serving of dressing  and 1/2 a serving of feta.  I certainly don't do more than one serving of red in any meal.  HUGE for me.  I didn't realize having clean organic yogurt, granola and fruit could be a detrimental as eating a candy bar.  

Listen, I'm certainly no expert (that's Tracey) but this is finally working for me.  The weight is coming off.  I'm now down 8 pounds since January.  Sure the weight is coming off slowly, but I feel like it's coming off the right way with more likelihood of staying off.  

Also I should disclose that I do have 1 to 2 cheat meals a week.  It's what keeps me going and I really don't care what I eat when I cheat.  It's my time to get it out of my system so to speak.  I do it on the weekends and it allows me to reset for the week.  

In addition, I'm drinking about 80 ounces of water a day and don't drink much else.  Just coffee and an occasional Diet Coke (disgusting I know) or glass of wine with my cheats.  

I really hope taking a look into what I'm doing helps you, but I'm a firm believer that Tracey can help anyone that REALLY wants help and is willing to listen and do what she says.  She will evaluate YOUR body and help you determine your goals.  She'll even intervene on your pantry (*shudder) and help you figure out what to ditch and what to keep.  I really enjoyed the personal shopping trip we did to Costco.  I learned so much there and I was surprised on just how much there is out there to eat on a clean diet.  It's not ALL broccoli and salmon.  

If you're interested in Tracey's help please reach out to her at for her nutritional services and pricing.* 

*While I told Tracey I would provide her contact information for this post, and obviously I benefited from her services, the opinions I offered about what she taught me are my own. Meaning, this isn't some bullshit post to get you to use her services.  It's just me telling you what finally worked for me and believing in someone who has a passion for helping people AND knows what she's talking about.  What Tracey teaches you isn't a fad or a shake, it's learning how to use food to fuel your body.  I encourage you to let her share her passion with you.  You won't regret it!  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hiking Camelback Mountain

I know you guys were hoping that I'd be here blogging about my healthy eats lately, but I'm so far behind on blogging and I'd be sad if I never blogged about my trip to Arizona with Ella.  I'm working on my healthy eats post too.

When I planned my trip to Arizona, Bianca told me she wanted to take me hiking.  I was very excited as hiking is something I feel like I could truly get behind.  I'm not sure what I pictured exactly, but I did NOT picture this.

Luckily it wasn't blazing hot in Arizona the week we were there.  It was about 55 degrees when we started.  Don't worry, I heated up quickly.  When I saw the first big hill I thought I'd die and as it turns out this one isn't even big.

Pictures never ever do hills justice.  This is literally a mountain and I had to climb it.  It was definitely a challenge, but I loved every minute.  The views were so amazing.  I had to stop every few minutes just to snap pictures.

Including a selfie (of course)!

As we went further up the mountain, it was less of a trail as seen before, but more of just rock.  It took some finesse to make it up without killing myself.

Bianca moved with ease and kept me going the whole way.  She's a beast!

It took almost a full hour, but we made it to the top.  I was taken bake by the scene from the top.  Totally work every huff and puff.

My relationship with Bianca is so special to me.  She is one of the most selfless people I know.  She's easy going and genuinely kind and upbeat.  So if you're going to hike to the top a mountain with anyone, you'd want it to be Bianca.  I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Thanks for taking me on this adventure B, it's not one I'll soon forget.

Tune in again soon for more Arizona adventures.  I thought this was great, but every day I spent in Arizona got more amazing than the next.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

In the Backyard with a Baseball Bat

This picture stirred up all kinds of emotion in me today.  This pic was taken in 2011, Ella was 6.   I remember this day very clearly.  The boys were playing baseball in the backyard and Ella wanted to play too.  Never mind that she was decked out in her plaid skirt and pearl necklace shirt.  It didn't matter, she threw on the UA baseball cap and was ready to bat.  This story doesn't end with how wonderful she was even in a skirt.  No as I recall she was quite terrible.  Ha!  

That's not what I wanted to talk about, however.  What I wanted to say was I miss these days terribly. I think I took them slightly for granted.  I've always been so thankful for all the time I got to spend with my kids, but I don't think I realized that my days of playing in the backyard after school were so numbered. 

Every day there is somewhere to go. Someplace to be.  Everyone is involved in activities and I definitely wouldn't have it any other way.  A free evening is a luxury and not something we get often.  I'm not alone.  Everyone I know is in the same rat race.  It's just how life is these days I think.  

So I look at that tiny smile looking up behind the big brim and it brings me back to simpler days and I miss them.  Then I feel badly for not embracing the time I'm in.  I spend a LOT of time missing my babies and I'm not exactly sure why.  Sure they were cute and sweet, but if I'm being honest they still are.  

Ella is so extremely loving.  It's my job to build her up, make her feel good about herself and teach her all the things.  Yet every day she amazes me with her love and compassion.  When she looks at me and tells me she loves me, I believe it and I feel it in my soul.  Out of the blue she'll tell me how beautiful I am and look at me with adoring eyes.  I wonder what I did to get so lucky.  For her to love me so much.  How did she learn to be this amazing little person?   

Then I realize, it's the bond we share and one that started long ago and probably in a pearl necklace in the backyard with a baseball bat.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Don't Sit in Judgment of my Athlete Just Because She Doesn't Kick a Ball

I'm here to talk about being a dance mom.  It's a world I never pictured myself being in, but one I'm in nonetheless.  It's a world I didn't understand nor had I been a part of prior to experiencing it with Ella.  I had some learning to do and maybe some others do too.   

From the moment I posted these pictures on my Facebook page, I felt judged.  People commented about her barely there outfit and I'll admit it stung a little bit.

I get it, she's standing there in bootie shorts and a sports bra, but guess what so do Olympic swimmers, Olympic gymnasts,  and Olympic Volleyball players just to name a few.

When you look at my daughter, if you don't see an athlete then you're not getting it.

If you look at my 10 year old in a sports bra and booty shorts and make it sexual, well then I'm sorry but that's on YOU.

My daughter trains for her dances 16 to 20 hours a week.  Would it make you feel better if when she was there she was kicking around a ball?

Is it the make up that bothers you?  I get it.  She's 10, but that's just it, she's 10.  She doesn't wear make up in her every day life.  She understand it's part of a costume and it's part of being a performer.  It's so the judges can see those sassy faces she's making and she doesn't get drowned out by the lights.  It's not so she can parade around pretending to be 25 years old.

I spend a LOT of time with Ella teaching her about beauty from within and esteem.  I teach her that her self worth isn't based on how she looks, what she wears or the like.  Beauty is about kindness, compassion and being her unique self.

So if you think I'm putting my daughter in dance and sending her all the wrong messages by dressing her up in makeup and curling her hair, then you don't know about our family at the core.

Sure Ella looks at herself in makeup and feels pretty.  I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but she also goes to school some days where I question if she's even brushed her hair.

I'm proud my daughter is a dancer.  I don't care about the costumes, because they're just that costumes.

So while my daughter is beautiful and the costumes and the make up make it seem as though that's what we're emphasizing, well quite frankly that's an assumed adult reaction.  It not how my 10 year old feels-- AT ALL!

This girl walked off the stage of her first dance competition and felt proud about the countless hours she put in and knowing it paid off.  She felt empowered by the feeling she got on stage.  She felt strong in her sparkling costume.

I'm not worried about sending my daughter the wrong message because I know I'm doing what's right for her.  I know the intimate conversations we have.  I know the bond we share.  I know that I tell her beauty comes from within.  I know she knows the difference between performing on stage and every day life.  I know that she can look at a situation and evaluate it for its worth.  I know, above all, you can strip her of all the hair, makeup and costumes and she'd still be beautiful because she radiates from the inside.

 So don't sit in judgment of my athlete just because she doesn't kick a ball.

CrossFit Open Workout 16.2

Ugh whose idea was it to sign up for the Open anyway?  16.2 is in the books and it was... well you be the judge.  

The workout was:

25 Toes to Bar
50 Double Unders
15 squat cleans in 4 minutes (Increasing weight and decreasing rep squat cleans in each round)
Move on to next round if round 1 complete in 4 minutes

It's more complicated than that, but those that know CrossFit probably already know and those that don't, that's all you need to know.

So I thought about doing the workout Rx, because I figure I could do the Toes to Bar and the double unders and then see if I even make it to the squat cleans.

Well I went to the box on Friday night and learned in my six month hiatus, I lost my toes to bar.  You don't use it, you lose it folks.  Ok so Rx is out.

Scaled Workout:

25 knee raises
50 single under
15 55 lb squat cleans

So I started trying to do single unders and knee raises, neither of which I'm accustomed to doing.  Well I found out I couldn't hang from the bar.  My shoulder just wouldn't let me hang there for any length of time.  Practicing Toes2Bar felt better than just hanging there on my shoulder.  I even showed the coaches me hanging from the bar and they unanimously said, "yeah no, you can't do that, it doesn't look right."  Now knee raises are out.

So Tammy (my box owner) told me to modify further and do sit ups.  Scale the scaled.  I felt so defeated.  I didn't want to do it.  I didn't want to have to scale the scaled.  I was mad and feeling all kinds of emotions and then mad at myself for feeling mad and feeling emotions.  I'm so complicated. Nonetheless this is what I had to do.

So time started and I banged out the sit ups and the single unders (I'm slow at those... it just doesn't feel natural anymore) and then hit the 55 lb squat cleans.  It felt good.  I was on to the next round.

Again, I banged out the sit ups and the single unders and then my squat clean weight increased to 75 pounds.  I've never been strong. I don't have a  one rep max squat clean in my history, but my one rep max clean is 110 pounds and my one rep max front squat is 125.  I should be able to squat 75 pounds relatively easily.  Um no.  It might as well have been a Mack Truck.  It wasn't the clean portion it was the squat.  My form was terrible.  I could feel myself leaning forward (chest not up), I wasn't in my heels, elbows collapsed, knees not going out.  It was terrible and every one felt awful.  I squeaked out 6 before I hit the 8 minute mark and my time was up.

171 total reps. 

I'm most mad at myself for being mad at myself.   I've now been to 3 WODs and 2 Open WODs in 6 months.  I hadn't squatted anything until the Thursday prior to this WOD.  If you don't squat for 6 months then guess what?  You're going to lose some of your strength.  Novel concept no?  But my brain just doesn't agree with my body.  My brain tells me I can do it, but my body won't let me.  It makes me feel so defeated and in this case I felt so embarrassed.  I'm just being honest.  

I've been telling myself all weekend that things will come back.  I just need to put in the work.  I might not be where I was, or where I want to be, but I'm in the box and that's more than I imagined for myself a few months ago. 

I have to accept the fact that I have a new normal.  I may never do some things again and that will have to be ok.  I need to remind myself of this every day.  

One thing I can say is how happy I am to be there with my friends and watching each of them accomplish amazing things each week.  A huge congrats to Kim, Meghan and Tracey on amazing WODs for each of them.  I proud of each of you!  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

CrossFit Open Workout 16.1

You might be surprised by the title of this post.  Like what in the heck is she doing?  Truth is I'm surprised too.  I NEVER ever intended to do the Open this year at all.  I'll admit I was sad about it.  My friends were signing up and went to the intramural sign up party.  I felt sad that I wasn't a part of it, but I accepted it being what it was.  After all, I had just come back to CrossFit and had 2 WODs under my belt in 6 months.  Enter my friend Tracey Weaver.  This is how it went down:  

So I thought about it for 2 or 3 days and I wound up signing up.  The Open has always been about doing it for ME and no one else.  This year would/could be no different.  I would do the scaled workouts and if I couldn't do something, I wouldn't worry about it.  I felt a LOT less pressure going in.  

Then the WOD was announced:  

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 20 minutes of:

25-ft. front rack walking lunge
8 burpees
25-ft. front rack walking lunge
8 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups

And so the nerves and the stress began.  Still I didn't feel as much pressure going into the workout, but I also had the feeling of being unprepared.  Essentially no CrossFit for six months coupled with having bronchitis for over a month, I knew this wasn't going to be pretty. 

I went all there though and I gave it my all.  The first few walking lunges felt uncomfortable for sure. Think about not doing something for six months and then just trying to do it.  It takes awhile before things just come back.  So I felt wobbly and the weight felt heavy, but I go through it. 

The burpees are an "easy" movement for me, but my lungs really got burning.  

By the time I lunged again and got up on the box for jumping pull ups I was breathing heavy.  I was able to do ALL my jumping pull ups unbroken.  And by all I mean every round. That made me happy.

But my breathing was labored and I mean bad.  I felt a burning in my chest so bad and literally just felt like I couldn't breathe.  I had to take several breaks, hands on my knees just to recover.  I felt embarrassed for having to break, but it was that or puke and I wasn't going to puke.

The whole workout was basically just round after round of what I just described coupled with me looking at the clock praying the 20 minutes would just end.

Tracey Weaver was there cheering everyone on.  She yelled at me that I had 90 seconds left and to bust out the burpees.  I dropped and did 8 burpees as fast as I could at the time.  When I finished at them Jess was yelling at me to go, go, go to get in as many lunges as I could.  I looked at her and said, "Jess I can't."  I meant it.  I couldn't but she said I could and so I went and immediately dropped the bar.  My legs were so wobbly.  I had nothing left.  I picked up the bar one more time and made one more lunge.  I'm not sure any of those last 2 lunges I did even counted, but I know I had given it my all.

Pain Face
I scored 170 reps.  Yeah it's not a lot. Yeah it would have been a lot more had the last 6 months hadn't happened.  Yeah I'm not happy about it.  Yeah I've over analyzed and even hated myself over it.  I'm a competitor.  I want to be the best I can be.  Maybe my body wasn't quite ready for the open, but I'm doing it.  I'm trying to be proud of that.  

After I was finished Ella came up to me and told me how proud she was of me. She told me all that matters is that I had tried my hardest and she could tell I had.  That meant a lot to me.  My daughter DOES hear what I say.  Maybe I should follow my own advice.

As if the workout didn't kick my ass enough,  I was really down after seeing the pictures from the WOD. I felt huge and out of shape.  (This is really a feel good post isn't it.)  I was complaining to Kim about how I hated what I saw and this is what she said, "Susan. I was there. I watched you workout.  I never saw anything but a beautiful strong woman who was very determined to do her very best."  That resonated with me so much.  Maybe I'm not what I think I am in my mind.  Maybe people don't see what I see.  Maybe I can finally just be ok with today's personal best.