Unplanned Hiatus

Yeah. I know. I went dark. Again. WHOOPS.

This time wasn’t my 100% fault, though. Maybe only 95%.

I went out of town for a week and failed at two things:
1.) Forgot my laptop (but packed my iPad, which is just as good).
2.) Forgot about the fact that my destination had no internet (and very, very little cell phone reception).

So, even though I had the intention to blog daily, I was handicapped by the lack of internet access and the annoyance of having to use a touch screen keyboard to do all of my writing.

That being said, of course, I ultimately enjoyed the full disconnect from technology for a solid four days – and, once I got over the anxiety of all the urgent work emails/text messages I was positive I was missing, it was pretty damn freeing.

I’ll go into more detail on my upcoming posts (and yes, I swear, there will be more posts this week) about my vacation, but let’s just say it involved a lot of eating (mostly healthy), a lot of outdoors and movement, and a lot of love.

Here’s just the tiniest sneak peak:

Lots of good stuff to come over the next few days, but in the meantime …bon apetit, my friends!

~ Victoria Elizabeth

 

Great Run!

At least one hundred times in the last three years, I’ve bumped into a neighbor in workout clothes and we’ve chatted about our mutual love of running.

Despite this almost daily interaction, we had never run together. I had often thought about suggesting it, but I was intimidated by her fitness level: she regularly competes in triathlons and, despite my Marathon success this past January, my weight gain has really crushed my self confidence.

A few nights ago, after we’d bumped into each other walking our dogs, she told me she planned to do an 8 mile training run Tuesday morning and asked if I’d want to join. I hesitated, embarrassed that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but then told her I’d love to.

For two nights in a row, I panicked, worried she’d be so much faster than me or that she’d feel like she had to tone down for me to keep up, and I even debated canceling on her. I didn’t want to be that person, though, so when my alarm went off at 4:45am this morning to get ready, I got up, stretched, and put on my running clothes.

I met up with her and her friend, another super fit runner, and I could feel myself getting really nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. But they were so nice and friendly and excited to run together, I decided I would give it my all and hope for the best.

Nine miles later, we finished as the sun was rising over Lake Baldwin, and I couldn’t believe we were done. We talked the whole time and, except for a quick water stop, we ran the whole route. Because of the high heat and humidity, we committed to a 10:00 minute mile pace; and it felt perfect the entire way.

No pain. No stress. Just a beautiful run and great conversation.

I’m so glad I didn’t cancel, and this gave me the confidence I needed to know that my few extra pounds haven’t diminished my athletic ability or endurance. I can get this weight back off, and I can continue to get stronger and faster at the same time.

I can do this. We can do this.

Bon appetite, my friends!

– Tori

Run, Baby, Run

I’ve been running.

A lot.

After my successful completion of The Great Chocolate Race in early November, I decided to fill the next few weeks with more races. On Thanksgiving, I completed the local Turkey Trot (5k), and this past weekend, I ran in the OUC Half Marathon.


I’m getting faster.

I’m getting stronger.

I’m getting happier.

I’ve basically stopped weighing myself, and I hardly count calories now. I focus on meals as an opportunity to fuel my runs, and, as a result, I find that I obsess less about food and make healthier choices naturally.

I can’t wait for the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge: just four weeks away!

~ Tori

I Hate You, But I Love You

Dear Hide and Seek Alarm Clock,

I hate you. No, like, I really hate you.

You’ve ripped me from slumber four days in a row, and you’re planning to do it again tomorrow.

You yellow bastard on wheels.

Between your refulgent disco lights, your blaring, cacophonous siren, and the fact that you THROW YOURSELF OFF OF MY NIGHT STAND AND HIDE UNDER MY BED, you are guaranteed to wake me up, thus breaking a lifelong romance with the snooze button.

You abhorrent piece of cheap plastic and sticky rubber wheels.

I hate you, but I love you SO much.

Because of you, I’ve gone to work with my entire workout already finished, freeing up my evenings for personal time.

Because of you, I’m finding my sleep patterns to be slowly changing, and now I’m going to bed at 11pm versus my normal 1 or 2am.

Because of you, I’m feeling accomplished before the sun rises.

Because of you, my husband is happy as a clam: he no longer has to endure the snooze buttons of the 46 alarms I normally have set on my iPhone (no, seriously, it was bad).

Thanks to you, you wanna-be Roomba, I’m building the habits and behaviors I want, and not settling for the ones I have.

Today was a good day. I ate about 100 calories more than I planned, but I worked out hard and the food was good, so I do not feel guilty. This is life.

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Trying Something New

Well, as much as I was ENJOYING the Dine N Ditch meal plan service, they unfortunately closed up shop just a few weeks in. Not a permanent close (I hope), but they needed to relocate their kitchen, hire new staff, and take a step back from the service for a few weeks to restructure the entire business model.

I was doing exceptionally well on the meal plans, dropping almost 10 lbs in my first four weeks, but after the deliveries ended and I was left to my own devices …well, you can imagine what happened.

Today’s weight: back up to 141.2.

Yikes. It’s hard to believe that just two years ago I hit my all-time low of 123.4, and now I can barely get (and stay) in the 130s anymore.

I know it has been a combination of factors: stress, overeating, and, shockingly, overexercising.

For those of you who have followed the blog a long time, you know I’m a cardio-junkie and, as my weight started to slowly climb at the beginning of 2015, I started to seriously step up my cardio, hitting more than 3 or 4 hours on some days.

Well, as I’ve learned, you not only can’t out-exercise a bad diet (or, in my case, a healthy diet, but in MASS quantities), over-exercising can actually sabotage weight loss by making your body freak out and think you’re fighting for your life on a daily basis. Hence my weight creeping up and up, even when my diet was in check. Yeaaaaaah, that fucking sucks, if you don’t mind me being frank. Ugh.

So, with less than 5 weeks until my 32nd birthday, I am trying to switch things up and break out of my rut.

For the next 34 (well, basically 33, since it’s 11:35 pm EST as I write this) days, I am going to drastically reduce my cardio (think 10-30 minutes per day, versus my usual 90+) and look to integrate substantially more strength training, yoga, and stretching. My body has been in a perpetual state of stress for over a year as I pummeled it with intense bouts of cardio, so now I’m going to try to give those slow-twitch muscles a bit of a break and focus on building lean muscle mass.

In addition, I’m attempting to modify my diet slightly, increasing my fat in take and leaning more toward a Ketogenic plan. Not full Keto – which involves like 70% of your calories from fat – but definitely hoping that incorporating more healthy fats, like avocado and coconut oil, will help with satiety and appetite control.

Yesterday was a rough start, only because I have absolutely no will power when it comes to nuts, so my “single handful” of almonds before bed turned into half of a can, but today’s been better:

Calories: 1,611
Carbs (total, not net): 72g (about 17% of my daily calories)
Protein: 136g (about 33% of my daily calories)
Fat: 93g (about 50% of my daily calories)

I prepped all of my food for the next two days (salmon and green beans, chicken and broccoli, shrimp and sauteed cauliflower, etc), so hoping that having quick, easy to grab meals will help me stay on track. I’m aiming for 1,350 calories per day, but happy as long as I stay under 1,700, as I am exercising pretty consistently.

Fingers crossed I can reset my system and get back into the 130s before I hit 32. I feel like it’s only getting harder with age, so I need to really get control of my weight now before it becomes an impossibility, you know?

Any advice, suggestions, or feedback is always welcome.

Bon appetite, my friends!

~ Tori

P.S. The photo is totally my dinner tomorrow night: shrimp sauteed with basil, garlic, coconut oil over a bed of chopped cauliflower and orange pepper. Much noms. Many yums. So delicious.

Super Simple Protein Oats!

OK, I know it’s not exactly Paleo (who am I kidding? It’s totally not Paleo), but I’ve been obsessed with oatmeal lately. I was just buying the single-serve packets to quench my cravings, but I looked over the ingredients and was shocked to find how much JUNK was in them. Even the organic brands had a lot of sugar added, and it seemed the only way to avoid the unnecessary simple carbs and “natural flavorings” (seriously, what is that crap??) was to make it on my own.

On Monday, I decided to prep my breakfasts for the week, and I wanted to make it as simple as possible. I took four mason jars and filled them with oatmeal, vanilla protein powder, stevia, cinnamon, and cashew milk. I had no idea how it would taste, but decided to make five of them and hope for the best.

HOLY DELICIOUSNESS, BATMAN!!!

These things are amazing. Instead of eating them cold (as overnight oats), I’ve nuked them for about three minutes and they turn into this warm, almost oatmeal-cookie esque bread pudding that’s to die for.

For roughly 320 calories, I’m getting a solid 35g of protein and 5g of pure fiber goodness. And, most importantly, only 1g of sugar (33g total carbs, but I’m not doing a restrictive diet here)!

In case you want to recreate this vanilla cinnamon orgastic breakfast, here’s what I’m using:

  • 1/2 cup organic, steel-cut oats
  • 1 scoop of Isopure Vanilla 0g carb protein powder (pricey, but worth it)
  • 1 cup Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/3 cup Stevia powder (more or less to taste)
  • Between 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup water, added a few drops at a time while microwaving

Mix-in Ideas:

  • 1/4 cup organic raisins (roughly 100 calories)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (roughly 200 calories)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (roughly 40 calories)
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips (roughly 80 calories)

You can realistically get away with microwaving this about 90 seconds if you just want it to be warm and thick, but I discovered that cooking it longer makes it puff up noticeably (imagine a cake rising) and give the illusion of substantially more food. If you do microwave past 90 seconds, consider adding a few tbsp of water every 30 seconds or so and stirring. I cook mine roughly three minutes and it turns into a MASSIVE bowl of doughy/cakey oats, which is my FAVORITE. If you prefer porridge-style oats, definitely cut the time to less than two minutes.

Oatmeal

 

FYI: I know this is a terrible picture, but it smelled so good and I was so raring to eat it, I honestly didn’t care about getting a good picture. It smelled like the oatmeal cookies your grandmother used to make.

And the added plus? This keeps me full for HOURS! I ate this around 10am yesterday in the office and didn’t touch my lunch until after 3pm. As someone who normally grazes all day (and eats religiously every 2 hours, hungry or not), that’s saying something about the staying power of this simple dish.

So, these oats prove it: there really is no excuse for not eating a healthy breakfast every day. I literally prepped five of these in under five minutes Monday morning, and they take less than four minutes to heat/cook. It would’ve taken me 2-3x the amount of time to stop somewhere and grab a breakfast sandwich, and they’re substantially more filling than my usual protein-bar-out-the-door routine.

What’s your excuse?

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

 

Product Review: Eastwind Cashew Butter

For anyone that knows me, it’s pretty obvious that I have a sweet tooth. I can eat, and eat, and eat sugars all day long.

I normally try to satiate the craving with a spoonful of almond butter (except I have to avoid Maranatha’s Caramel Almond butter, because it’s so good, I can’t control myself), but it normally doesn’t cut the craving for candy.

And then I discovered Eastwind Cashew Butter.

butter

Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of cashews – they’re normally the last nuts I pick out of the deluxe mix, once the pecans and walnuts are gone – but I’ve always thought they were just so-so. Until today.

This cashew butter is amazing.

Buttery, creamy, slightly sweet …but there’s no sugar or salt added. It’s like a miracle in a jar.

I can’t stop eating it. I reached in for a spoon, and had to have my husband pry the jar out of my hands after I’d polished off my fourth serving. And for 210 calories per serving, I *needed* that jar taken away.

I’m already salivating at the thought of what I can do with this cashew butter. Mixing it into sauces, baking with it, smearing it all over a paleo waffle or toast. YUMMMMM.

I strongly suggest picking up a jar if you want to experience a low carb taste of heaven – but make sure you have someone who will rip it out of your hands when you realize you’re spooning it out from the jar with your fingers like a wild animal!

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Countdown?

Uh oh. It’s that time of year again. I’m just six weeks away from my birthday, and the nudging voice inside my mind has begun its annual bleating.

This is the time of year I normally commit to a rigorous exercise regime, an über strict diet, and a nearly fanatic pursuit of the “ideal body” to flaunt on my birthday.

I’ll be turning 31 this year. Yikes. The years have flown by, haven’t they?

Last year, I was at the lowest weight of my [adult] life on my birthday: 123.8.

This year, I’m sitting around 132-134 (I haven’t weight myself in over a month, so I’m not sure) and I feel good. Yes, I’d like to get rid of the pooch of my waist and the chub on my thighs, but I feel strong, well-rested, and self-secure.

Since quitting my second job in mid-April, I’ve spent the last two months focusing on repairing my health from the ill effects of sleep deprivation, and I’ve finally reached a point where I feel my body has gained balance. I feel like I’m repaired, though not fully 100% just yet. The scars are healing nicely, though.

Even though the alarms in the back of my mind are sounding, I’m choosing to ignore them this year. If I weigh 120 or 140 on my birthday will not matter: what matters is spending the day with the people I love, and celebrating a life being lived to the fullest.

On that note… bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Monkey Bars!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve spent the last few weeks focusing on eating whole, clean foods and getting exercise (and sleep!), but not watching the scale.

It has been weird walking past the scale every morning and not hopping on, but after nearly a month of not weighing myself …it feels pretty satisfying to not feel the desire as heavily as I used to. I don’t feel guilty any more when I walk by, and I quickly forget about my weight once I leave the bathroom.

My husband and I spent the weekend very active, hitting the theme parks on Friday night (walked over 6 miles in three hours), and then the gym on Saturday. Sunday was such a beautiful day, I rode by bike all over Orlando, catching an independent book fair down the street and a lazy ride around the lake. In fact, between taking walks and riding my bike, I logged almost 11 miles outside moving around. Add to that nearly 2 hours at the gym (I got lost in a movie) and I torched over 3,000 calories just being active. Wow!

But here’s the major accomplishment this weekend:

I did a full set of monkey bars without falling.

While that may be a small achievement for 90% of active adults, that’s HUGE for me. I was overweight as a child and I was never able to complete a row of monkey bars. Ever. I’d always try and fall off after just one or two bars.

Last night my husband ran sprints in the field at the local elementary school and, while waiting for him, I decided to play on the playground. A few slides, a few runs on the bouncing bridge, and then I spotted the monkey bars.

I was sweaty, and I knew that my grip wouldn’t be strong. I tried to build up the consolation phrases in my mind for when I failed, since I knew it was going to happen. Right?

I decided to test my luck, drying my hands on my shirt and grabbing on the slightly sticky (Elmer’s glue?) bar and swinging my weight off of base.

The first two bars were purely the result of momentum, and I could immediately feel my shoulders tighten and my grip get loose.

Well, here’s where I fall, I thought. But no. I made it another bar. And then another. And then another.

Harder and harder to fight my moistening grip, but I used my body weight and my shoulders to propel myself forward. Before I realized it, I had made it to the other side.

What?! I made it to the other side!

For the first time in my life – childhood and as an adult – I had made it across an entire row of monkey bars. WOOOHOOOO!

My upper body was strong enough to lurch me across twelve feet of treacherous “lava” below (isn’t that what you called the mulch on the playground) and land safely on the platform on the other side.

I don’t know about you, but that was better than any weigh in I’ve ever had.

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Absenteeism

Absenteeism.

(noun)
frequent or habitual absence from work, school, etc.:

rising absenteeism in the industry.
This also applies to health, nutrition, and overall personal accountability.
This is my first post in nearly a month. In the last few weeks I’ve put my overall health and wellness to the side, and, as a result, my weight is back up to 136 pounds.
Rather than beat myself up (as I’m prone to do), I’m going to recognize this as a wake up call and a reminder that my body needs me to take care of it. It’s tendency to revert to its former self (I used to be 215+ pounds) is never going to go away, so I can never put my nutrition and health on a backburner. Life doesn’t work that way.
I’m not going to go crazy. I’m not going to commit to a ridiculous diet or exercise plan. I’m going to be realistic.
While I’m still working two jobs, I’ve reduced my hours at the studio and, as a result, I’m finally starting to get a bit more sleep. It’s still not as much as I should be getting, but I’ve gone from 2-3 hours per night up to 3.5-4.5 hours, with naps getting squeezed in when possible.
Now that I’m better rested, I think I’ll find it easier to make better food choices and more realistic to hit the gym 4-5 times per week.
I get out of the studio at 7am and, moving forward, instead of racing home to squeeze in a 60 minute nap before work (that leaves me groggy and more tired than I was before), I’m going to hit the gym for a 45-60 minute HIIT workout.
This will help to give me energy for my day, but, more importantly, will free me up in the evening to go to bed earlier. At present, I’ve been trying to workout between 6pm and 8pm at night (which tends to be the most crowded time, slowing down my workout) and I’ve found it hard to wind down for bed, because I’m running on the high and energy boost from my cardio. By working out from 7:15am to 8:15am (with time to shower and get to the office at 9am), I should find it easier to get to bed earlier at night (the goal is by 9pm) and the cyclical effect should be more energy, more sleep, and more hormonal balance.
I’ve stocked my fridge and freezer with healthy snacks — which includes pre-portioned freezer bags of fruit/veggies for morning smoothies — and I’m not committing to anything unrealistic: I’m just going to eat healthy, eat whole foods (avoiding processed as much as possible), and watch my overall portions. I want to live a healthy lifestyle: I don’t want to diet anymore. As you can see, diets don’t work for me. You can’t be absent from a healthy life, but you can definitely fall off of a band wagon for a crash diet.
That being said, I’ll try to post on here every few days with updates, but mainly I’m just going to focus on being healthy, being strong, and taking care of myself.
Hope everyone is doing well!
Bon appetit, my friends!
~ Tori