Under A Rock?

First and foremost….

Please forgive me for my RIDICULOUS absence from this blog.

I have not been hiding under a rock, although there were days when that would have been a desirable place to be.  I didn’t go into hiding.  I didn’t come down with a bone stiffening ailment preventing me from typing my life and thoughts to you.

To put it simply… life just happened, as it does to most of us.  The past few months have been AMAZING months.  While I’m completely worn out and have had little time for the little things, I have been doing AWESOME stuff.

In September I partnered up with The Kansas Health Foundation to be a #SpokesMom.  A group of Kansas moms were asked to join together to promote healthy living and eating through our blogs, and social media sites for other parents in Kansas.  It’s been a really fun experience.

With that new adventure came a few realizations for myself.  I wasn’t holding myself accountable enough for what I was putting in my mouth and my physical activity.  If I was supposed to promote health and wellness I needed to be better about LIVING it!  I told you in the beginning of October that I was detoxing my body of processing sugars.  That was one of the hardest things to do.  I CONQUERED it!  For the entire month I only ate sugar 3 days of the 31.  Each of those were days I planned to allow myself the indulgence for whatever special occasion it was.

I got back on track with my food logging on myfitnesspal.com and started watching my salt intake much better.

…and I started my new addiction…

POWERWALKING!!!!

Powerwalk 2I started following this really inspirational and amazing gal on Instagram… Marta @hausofgirls_fitfamily.  She’s the one who inspired me to do the sugar detox.  She and her 3 sisters do 14 day sugar detoxes with anyone who wants to sign up.  While I didn’t sign up with them I took their advise and knew that I could do it on my own.  Marta also had a walk/run challenge in the month of October called #30milesinoctober.  The only prize for meeting the goal was your own self VICTORY and joy. I started it a little late in the month, but knocked out 43.75 in 21 days!!!!!

I felt AWESOME!!!  So, guess what?  When Marta set the #44milesinnovember challenge I took it head on!!!!  I started posting on Instagram and my personal Facebook page about my workouts to try to inspire others to join me.  It became my Kansas Health Foundation “thing”.

Powerwalk 1I tried extremely hard to not let ANYTHING become an excuse NOT to get out and move.  I went to my parent’s house for a weekend with my siblings and family.  I got up each morning and went for a 4 mile walk.  I kicked that hill’s tail two mornings in a row!!!  I’ll fully admit that it kicked mine in return.  I mean, my hind end and legs were SORE for a few days afterward.

When I’m not able to walk at home after work (which is quite often) I walk during my lunch hour.  Thirty minutes is all it takes to get a good workout/walk in.  I just pack a gym back with the appropriate clothes and shoes, deoderant and body spray.  It’s a REALLY great stress reliever in the middle of the day.  It’s amazing what those endorphins will do for the soul.

Powerwalk 3I REFUSED to let the cold temperatures be a reason NOT to exercise.  It was 22° with a 30 mph north wind on this particular day.  It stung.  I won’t lie, but it DROVE me to get my butt back home.

Powerwalk 5I even took on a bit of rain and the dark after a six hour round trip day in the car with my family.  I had been looking forward to my walk all day and the closer we got to home the colder the temps got and a steady light rain set in.  I was so close to talking myself out of it, but my heart had sunk.  I felt like I was really letting myself down by giving in to the rain.  I got in the house and my stubborn determination took over and I put my layers on and got after it.  The rain felt good on my face and the steady pitter-patter of the rain was soothing and rhythmic.  It was one of the best workouts I’ve had.  I felt AMAZING afterward.

In the midst of all of this I joined a Facebook group of local gals in a fitness/health/weight loss support group.  Each day is dedicated to a specific theme… Motivation Monday, Terrific Recipe Tuesday and so on.  We’re each supposed to post daily.  The group motivates and lifts each other up, giving advice and encouragement.  It’s been wonderful!  We each have awesome ideas and great motivation for each other.

The creator of the group posted a flier for our local Eggnog and Elf 5k Run happening during our community’s annual Country Christmas celebration, which was last Saturday.   I had never done ANYTHING like that.  I mean…. I ran track competitively in the EIGHTH grade…a million years ago.  But, that was as far as my competitive streak went.  I decided I was going to do this thing.  Why not?  I could powerwalk it.  I didn’t HAVE to run.  Right?  Right.

I will admit that there were several times, as the date drew near, that I had myself talked out of doing it.  It was REALLY outside of my comfort zone.  I’m pretty good at chickening out on things that I’m not exactly comfortable with.  I was REALLY close to calling it off the morning of…  I wasn’t feeling 100% that morning.  I’ve been working pretty hard at getting a cold for about a week now and that morning I could really feel it.

…but I got myself dressed and told myself that there was NO WAY I was going to let myself down or the girls who I had told I would attend.  I HAD to do it.

Powerwalk 7I DID IT, Elf socks and hat to boot!!!!!!!  I powerwalked the whole thing.  …and I wasn’t even the last one in.  I beat several of the walker/joggers!!!!  At the beginning of the race when I was “walking” one of the volunteers teased me that he could keep up with me since I was walking.  I just smiled…  Then he was at the halfway checkpoint.  He laughed and said, “I take that back.  There’s NO WAY I could keep up with you.  You walk way too fast!”  I just smiled, raised my eyebrow at him and waved as I huffed and puffed past him.

I was really proud of my accomplishment.  I hope it’s just the beginning of a lot more races/challenges.

I’m REALLY happy to report that I ended the #44milesinovember challenge with 25 total workouts and 64.59 miles!!!!

The best part of all of this is that the hard work has paid off!!!  I’ve trimmed back down.  The cottage cheese that was creeping back onto my legs is diminishing.  My waist is back in the range I like it to be and I just feel GOOD!!!!

I was hoping Marta would post another walk challenge for December, but I haven’t seen it yet.  Soooo….what do I do about it?  I make up my own.

How about #55milesindecember?  I think that sounds good.  What better way to battle the holiday bulge than BEFORE it attacks you?!  Will you join me?  Please?

Follow me on Instagram @alishagibb to see how I’m doing.

So, there you have it.  I really didn’t disappear.  I’ve just been focused on a few other things.  I’m hoping that I can fit this back into the craziness.  I really do love all of my readers and I know I’ve let you down.  Please forgive me.  It’s been all for good.

 

Peace, love and POWERwalks!!!

 

 

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo

Yesterday, another foodie friend/co-worker, aka Amy, shared with me a recipe she found for a skinny fettuccine alfredo.  She sent me a text message the night before raving over it and promising to share in the goodness.  I’ve always been a skeptic of skinny alfredo sauces because they’re either not really skinny or they don’t taste anything like alfredo sauce.  But… she and I have VERY similar tastes so I trusted her gut (literally, LOL!).

She gave me the recipe and a few pointers on things she would have changed.  I followed her advise and made it for supper last night. fettuccineAre you ready?

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo

8 oz. whole wheat pasta (use any shape you desire)
8-10 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 tsp. olive oil
3 tsp. corn starch
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped

In a large sauce pan cook pasta to al dente.

While pasta is cooking, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Cook chicken and 1 clove garlic until almost done. Before chicken is fully finished add mushrooms and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms are softened. Remove from pan and set aside.

While chicken is cooking stir together cornstarch and broth to make a slurry.

After removing the chicken and mushrooms, return the pan to the heat and add the olive oil. Saute remaining garlic for about 30-40 seconds in the oil until it becomes fragrant. Add the slurry to the pan and bring to a bubbling simmer. Whisk occasionally while it thickens. Add cheese and stir until melted and smooth.

Remove the pan from heat and add the yogurt. Stir to combine completely until smooth. Add spinach and and chicken and mushroom mixture. Stir until the spinach wilts. Add pasta and toss until completely coated.

Serve!!

This stuff was OFF THE HOOK!

I loved it.  Grady tried it and he even thought it was pretty amazing.

I really like that you can EASILY make this a vegetarian meal by switching to vegetable broth and subbing in other fun veggies instead of the chicken.  …and if you’re on a low/no carb diet use a spaghetti squash instead of the pasta.

Want to know something funny?  I messed up a few measurements, adding 2 TBSP of oil and cornstarch each rather than 2 tsp like the original recipe called for.  I had to thin the sauce out with a little extra broth, but in the end the calorie count was still at 439 with the extra fat.  TOTALLY reasonable.

Here’s the skinny on the CORRECT measurements.  The recipe yields 4 (LARGE) servings, each serving is as follows: 389 calories, 9g fat, 43g carbs, (5g fiber), 39g protein and 871mg sodium.

I absolutely LOVE how protein packed this dish is!!!  The combination of the yogurt and chicken give this meal its power punch!  It will keep you satisfied and full.  The best part… no butter, no heavy cream and ALL the flavor!!!

Give it a try.  You won’t regret it.  …and get crazy and creative with your veggies. (I’m adding steamed broccoli next time!!!)

 

Peace, love and alfredo heaven!!!

Confession and Baring It All

I ate the cake.

I ate the delicious, frosting covered, moist, indulgent white wedding cake.  I enjoyed every single morsel of it.  …and I don’t feel guilty.

Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to eat the cake.  The food was an over-the-top version of every comfort food a Southern girl would love, juicy pulled pork, creamy, uber cheesy macaroni and cheese, potato salad, green beans with bacon and onions, baked beans and coleslaw.  I ate a lot of it, an embarrassing amount of it.   …and I don’t feel guilty.

I was accountable all week, knowing I had this event coming up.  Although I didn’t know how MUCH I would indulge that night, I knew that Saturday’s breakfast and lunch would be light and Sunday’s food choices would be CLEAN.

Making the decision to eat the cake was last minute.  I was more worried that I would find myself craving the sugar again the next day.  Surprisingly, I didn’t.  Well…. I didn’t crave it any more than I have been over the last 13 days.  I’m make progress and getting over that insane craving hump.

I AM conquering this addiction!

Now, for something that makes me REALLY uncomfortable…

I am a girl that is RARELY seen without makeup.  It’s just one of those things about me.  I don’t feel “complete” without it.  I don’t feel presentable to the world and I am NOT comfortable going out of my house without it.  In fact, I put it on regardless of what the day may bring…going out and about or staying in.

I’m not sure where this feeling or notion came from.  I certainly wasn’t raised that way.  In fact, my mom made me wait an insane length of time before she’d let me start painting myself with the “war paint”, as my dad would say.

Regardless, it’s a crutch and probably not a good one.  So, yesterday, I MADE myself go makeup free.  I wasn’t leaving the house for anything.  I didn’t need to get made up for anyone, right?  Several times I found myself walking into the bathroom, cringing at the sight of my undone face and WANTING to reach for the makeup bag.  But…like the sugar, I made myself stop.

I try to teach my Monkey that she is BEAUTIFUL exactly as God made her.  I don’t want her to think her beauty, or any woman’s beauty, is determined by how well she can apply blush and eye shadow.  I don’t even believe that.  Honestly, I don’t.  Some of the women I deem the MOST beautiful don’t wear a stitch of the stuff.  So, this is just something within myself about MYSELF that I need to work on.

What better way to crush this fear than share with EVERYONE my naked face.  I was inspired by a dear friend who put her naked face out there on Instagram for everyone to see.  …and she was BEAUTIFUL!

So, I should do the same thing, right?

CRINGE!!!!

Here goes nothing!

Naked FaceThere it is.  Clean face, the way God made me.

As much as this puts a pit in my stomach it’s somewhat liberating.

Comfort zone BLASTED.

 

Peace, love and breaking boundaries!!!

 

Progress Report

I’m eight days into my sugar detox.

This has NOT been easy.  I have had MAD cravings for Sour Patch Kids, brownies, cookies and anything covered in frosting.  The weekend was, by far, the worst.  Boredom makes me want to reach for the candy jar or whatever baked treat we may have laying around.

I am happy to say that I WON!!!!  I resisted the temptation and am still on track.

Have I noticed any differences?

Yes.

I keep hearing about “puffiness” being directly related to not only sodium levels in our body, but also sugar intake.  One thing I was struggling with was a general “puffy” feeling in my midsection.  After eight full days I feel like this has definitely been reduced.  It’s not totally gone and I’m sure will take some time, but I HAVE noticed a difference.  My energy level has also increased.  I don’t have the mid-afternoon crashes that I was experiencing.  I can power through my day and not feel like I need a nap.

I do have a dilemma.  I have a wedding to attend this weekend and am debating on allowing myself the indulgence of wedding cake.  I talked with a good friend who I called on for my support through this. She supported me in either decision telling me that regardless of what I choose I need to decide BEFORE I get there.  (Good point!)  If I decide to stay strong and NOT partake in the cake that’s great, but if I want to have a treat that I should make the decision ahead of time and enjoy the piece guilt-free.  In her words, “you’re eating one piece, not the WHOLE cake”.  Very true.  I’m really leaning toward NOT indulging and powering through it.

My goal in this detox wasn’t just to rid myself of the puffy feeling I’ve been experiencing, but to whip this addiction in the Heineken!!!  I am not a person who likes the feeling of being helpless to an addiction.  I do NOT like feeling like I’m not in control of this.  With all of that in mind, if I can make it through a wedding without giving in to the temptation it would be such a HUGE accomplishment.  The only way to rid yourself of a habit or addiction is to NOT give in to it.

I think my answer is probably pretty clear, but I still have a few days to make it concrete.

I will say this.  As each day passes, it gets a little easier to say no.  Yesterday was a great example.  We had a food day for a co-worker’s birthday.  I didn’t eat a single cookie, bake goodie, piece of candy or Rice Krispie treat.  Not even a tiny taste.  …and the reality of it was that I didn’t have that hard of a time saying no.

It was a good day.

TODAY will be a good day!!!

…and tomorrow will be another.  I’m keeping positive thoughts!

 

 

Peace, love and sugar free!!!

Turning It Around

Oh, I had a Monday.

I started the morning running a little behind.  I discovered I had a low tire and took the time to air it up.  I thought to myself as I was airing it up that I’d have Grady fix it that evening.  No worries.

I was three blocks from the office on the busy main street in town stopped at a red light.  As I pulled out I heard an odd noise, but thought it was coming from the semi beside me.  I proceeded to the next light where I turn for the last two blocks to work.  Again, the noise, and this time I could FEEL that I was riding on a pancake-flat tire.  My heart sank and I knew I had to get pulled over as soon as possible.  I parked illegally on the side street.  Ran around to check and sure enough, flat, flat, flat.  I growled under my breath, grabbed my purse, lunch bag and started hoofing it to the office.  I was thankful that I was close, but worried that my car would get ticketed or towed.

This was NOT how I wanted to start my Monday, let alone my week.  As I made it in, I knew I needed to find someone to help me change the tire.  That’s when I started to get nervous about whether or not I even had a jack and tire iron.  I wasn’t sure that Grady had checked for all the necessities in this vehicle since we got it in May.

UGH!

After forty-five minutes of fretting over the possibilities I called upon one of the guys in the office to help.  Graciously, he dropped everything and came to my aid.  We located an air bubble and aired up the bum tire.  I raced (okay I just drove quickly) four blocks to a new (to me) auto shop who gladly took care of my tire.

Problem solved.

Right?

Why is it that when your day starts out wonky it seems to throw EVERYTHING in a tailspin?  My whole day was off.  I couldn’t get my head wrapped around anything and I felt like my work showed it.  I just needed my day to be over.

Tuck and I had a meeting that evening and on our way home we were blessed with this.

DSC_0155 copy2

Sheer BEAUTY!  I couldn’t resist stopping and shooting.

I was quickly reminded of all the beautiful blessings in my life.  Although my day started out roughly, I was blessed with co-workers who cared enough to go above and beyond to lend a helping hand.  I was blessed to find a nearby mechanic with a warm smile and honest heart.  I was blessed to NOT get a ticket for my illegally parked, “out of commission” vehicle.  I was BLESSED that the flat tire happened so close to the office and not on the busy highway I travel every day.

The bottom line…. I was blessed that day.  My misfortune showed me reminded me of the MANY beautiful blessings in my life EVERY SINGLE DAY.

 

 

Peace, love and fortunate misfortunes!!!!

I Think I Must Be Crazy!!!!!

candyI’ve decided to put myself on a sugar DETOX for the month of October.

“Why?”, you ask.

Well…

I’ve kind of, fallen off the wagon in the sweets department.  Sugar is truly, my drug.  I reach for it when I’m bored, sad, happy, hungry, ummmm…. pretty much any time.  It’s bad.  Really.  Really.  Bad.  While I do extremely well with low-calorie, low-fat, well balanced meals, I have a BIG problem with dessert and candy.  I need to get it reined in.

While I was in the biggest part of my weight loss battle, fighting the sugar seemed easier.  I KNEW it was the enemy.  I KNEW it was totally off limits.  I wouldn’t LOSE the weight if I didn’t abide by that rule.

Things change when you get to the maintenance phase of your healthier lifestyle.  You’re “allowed” to let a few things back in, but in small, moderate amounts.  Here’s the problem.  If those things that you’re allowing back in in small increments were the things that were detrimental to your whole healthy state of being in the first place then you probably shouldn’t really allow them back at all.

…and that’s where I’m at.  I know my sugar habit has a tendency to get out of control.  I need to quit the stuff all together for a while and relearn how to get the cravings under control.  I know I’ll feel better.

Now, I will say that I am NOT cutting out ALL sugar.  I WILL be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.  They are crucial to my own digestive health.  I am NOT cutting out natural sugars.  I am eliminating the processed sugars.

So, why do I think I’m crazy?

Two reasons:

A.) For whatever INSANE reason, I thought it’d be a good idea to start this during the WORST time of the month for any woman.  My cravings are OFF the hook!

and

B.) Who in their right mind would start a sugar detox in the month of OCTOBER, when more candy is bought, given and consumed than we can fathom?!?!  Me, that’s who does that.  ME!

These two factors make me, legitimately, OFF MY ROCKER!  This will surely be a challenge.

This is day two.  This is SUCCESSFULLY day two!  It was a tough one.  I REALLY wanted something sweet this afternoon.  I opted for a cup of coffee instead.  (My second biggest weakness, but a “legal” one.)  It worked.  Craving satisfied.

I have called on several dear friends to hold me accountable and I know they will.  I’m relying on it.  I’m hoping to rely on all of you to hold me to it, too.  I’m going to keep you updated on my thirty-one days.  I’m hoping that all the updates will be good ones, but even if I fall I’m going to be honest.

Accountable.

Wish me luck!!

 

Peace, love and sugar FREE!!!

Completely Made Up and Not-So-Authentic Texas Style Chili

I have another FOOTBALL party recipe to share.  Who doesn’t think chili and football go hand and hand?  Pretty much no one.

About a month ago we had some amazingly cool Fall-like weather on a Saturday and I was CRAVING chili.  We weren’t watching football, but it was the perfect day for it.

I’ve always wanted to try a Texas style chili, using roast or steak rather than ground beef.  On this particular day, I dug through our deep freeze and found a lovely arm roast.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I seized the moment, or rather the whole day.

As it thawed I devised a plan.

My plan was that I really had no plan at all.  I was going to wing it.  This was going to be MY creation, 100%.

…and that’s how Completely Made Up and No-So-Authentic Texas Style Chili came to be.

DSC_0027 copyGrady LOVED this!!!  His exact words were, “Make it EXACTLY like this every single time.  Don’t change a thing.”  While I was completely flattered I had to race to a note pad and write down exactly what I did.  I couldn’t afford to forget this one.

I will start by stating that this isn’t exactly on the low-calorie list of foods.  Don’t let that frighten you though.  It IS full of healthy things.  The roast I used WAS trimmed of all fat and on the rather lean side.  So, while the calories may be higher than the typical 300 calories per serving that I like to stay in, the 488 calories for a one cup serving is still completely acceptable.

My second statement of disclosure I feel I need to share with you prior to diving into the recipe is that this is an all day/all afternoon process.  It’s certainly not something that be whipped together after work.  I will say that it consists of two distinct steps.  The first can certainly be done the evening before and step two CAN be completed the next evening for supper.  …and just a little secret about this recipe.  It’s “kind of” a dual recipe.  Step one can be completed, frozen and used as the base for STEW rather than chili if you like!!!  I’ll go into that in a little bit.

Without further wait.

Completely Made Up and Not-So-Authentic Texas Style Chili

Step One Ingredients:
2 lbs. arm roast, fat trimmed and cubed
3 TBSP flour
1 1/2 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP cumin
1/2 TBSP garlic powder
1/2 TBSP onion powder
1/2 TBSP dried oregano
1/2 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon beef base
3 cups hot water

Step Two Ingredients:
2 cups tomato puree
2 cans stewed tomatoes, chopped
2 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP cumin
1/2 TBSP garlic powder
1/2 TBSP onion powder
2 tsp onion salt
1 TBSP dried oregano
Fresh ground pepper
2 cups black beans
1 can chili beans

Step One:
Preheat oven to 275°. Add beef base to the hot water and set aside. Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in large dutch oven style pot. In a bowl mix flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano. In another medium bowl add cubed roast. Liberally coat the meat with half the flour mixture. Add the meat to the hot oil. Let the meat brown, untouched, for 3 minutes, or until it achieves golden color. Turn and brown additionally until all the pieces have reached a golden brown. The meat may not be completely cooked through, this is okay. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Repeat the above step with the remaining half of the meat. DO NOT remove or scrape the cooked on bits from the bottom of the pot. You want this there. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the onions, peppers and garlic. Saute until onions are slightly translucent. After the veggies are softened add the beef base/water mixture to the pot. Gently scrape up the lovely bits of flavor from the bottom of the pot. Add the meat back to the pot and bring to a simmer. Once it simmers cover and put in the oven. Let it slow cook for 3 hours. Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes. Step one complete.

Step Two:
Remove the pot from the oven and return to the stove top over medium heat. Add tomato puree, stewed tomatoes, beans and all seasonings. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Half way through the process taste and adjust seasoning according to your liking. Don’t judge the flavor at the beginning as it WILL change as it simmers. Cover if you like soup-like chili. Simmer uncovered if you like your spoon to stand up in your chili. We prefer the latter.  Serve with grated cheese, sliced jalapenos, sour cream and crackers.  …or however YOU like to eat chili.  Just make sure you have a HUGE appetite.

The second time I made this I used t-bone steaks that we had.  I truly thought the steak version would be over the top and better than the roast version.  Surprisingly, I was wrong!  While I trimmed 95% of the fat off the steaks there was so much marbling throughout the meat that I had to skim a ridiculous amount of fat off the meat mixture after step one was completed.  The meat from the roast seemed much more tender and decadent than the steak.  I know.  I know, it seems it should be the other way around, but Grady said he even preferred the roast version.  So….roast it is.

Now, about that stew thing I mentioned earlier.  The flavors of the meat after step one are SO incredibly rich and deep, yet NOT distinctly chili-like yet, that you could easily add tomato puree, diced tomatoes, diced potatoes, peas, and carrots and cook down like step two of the chili recipe.

Ready for the skinny?  Don’t be too scared.  It’s weekend indulgence.  RIGHT!!

The skinny: 10, 1 cup servings. Calories: 488, Fat: 21g, Carbs: 40g, Sodium: 336mg, Fiber: 9g

Well… there you have it friends.  I hope you love this chili as much as we do!!!

 

Peace, love and chili feeds!