Thursday, December 27, 2012

SmartSassySisters PepTalk!

Do you want to lose weight?
Do you want to get healthier?

Do you want to finally feel good about your body and confident about how you look?

Because you can.  It is entirely up to you, but if you truly want to accomplish those things, I can tell you with 100% certainty that you can do it.

I can already hear the excuses running through your head right now:  “Yes, Carrie, but you don’t understand, I have done this before and it didn’t work” or “I have tried every diet, but I just do not have the will power to stick with it” or “You do not understand, I am so busy, I have no time to exercise or cook healthy”   or “I am big boned, all of the women in my family are large, I just got cursed with lousy genes.”



2010-my 30th birthday, 1 month into my journey
November 2012- 120 lbs lighter, healthier and happier
Here is the deal: I COMPLETELY understand.  2 years ago at this time I was 29 years old, over 120 lbs overweight, I hated how I looked and felt, and I honestly had no idea where to start.  Once again I was facing the New Year, feeling extremely guilty and like failure that I had not accomplished the goals that I had wanted to achieve in my life and yet  I was TERRIFIED of trying once again to lose weight or get healthy, only to fail and feel even worse about myself.  All of those excuses running through your head right now? I KNOW THEM AND SAID THEM AND BELIEVED THEM ALL!   So dear friends, I do understand and in no way do I want to minimize how hard or scary or overwhelming it can feel- but the truth is instead of feeling guilty or scared, I want you to take a minute and feel excited and hopeful- because all of those things that you want to accomplish- they are all WITHIN YOUR GRASP and 2013 may just the best year of your life!

When Lexy and I started this blog, we decided from the very beginning that we were not going to be false positive or “sugar coat” our lives or our health and wellness journeys- trust me, neither one of us is perfect!  We wanted this blog to be authentic and practical- a place to not only provide inspiration and motivation but to also share tips and tools and techniques that both she and I had learned through trial and error through our journeys.  On that note, I am not going to leave you with just a “you can do it feel good about yourself” pep talk- because  if you are anything like me, while you may feel inspired for a minute (do you know how many inspirational quotes I pin on pinterest?), without practical action steps that motivation or inspiration will fizzle away.   So here are the steps that I would recommend taking if you truly are serious about wanting to enact some changes in your life for the New Year:

1.       Forget about the past and let go of the guilt.  You feel badly because you are not where you thought you would be right now? Doesn’t matter!  So you have tried 25 diet plans before and failed? Completely irrelevant. You are starting on a brand new journey and all of the negative thoughts and guilt from the past are worthless. The past is done and this time is different!

2.       Decide what YOU want for yourself.   While this may seem like the easiest step, it is actually the most crucial.  In order to be successful, you have to look within yourself and figure out what YOU want to achieve.  Not what you think you should say you want to do, or what your significant other or society implies you should do, but what YOU want to accomplish that will make YOU happy and satisfied.  Because honestly, if you are doing this for someone else or because you think you are supposed to, you will fail.  It is perfectly fine to say, I know that I should want to lose 20 lbs, but I am happy with what I look like and I do not want to change.  In 2013, commit to only changing or working on those things that you truly WANT for yourself. (for ideas on how to set obtainable New Year’s resolutions, check out my post here)

3.       Take the First Step:  Take ACTION! Take the first small step or action needed towards that goal.  You have committed to start running? Go buy a pair of running shoes and schedule your first run.  You want to eat healthier? Find one new recipe that you want to try this week or go to the library and check out a cookbook with types of food that you think you would enjoy.  

4.       Ask for and seek the help and resources you need to be successful:  When I started this journey, I had no knowledge of nutrition or how to start a running plan or even where to begin- but trust me there are millions of resources out there! If you need someone to hold you accountable, share your goals with them ask a friend or family member to support you (as a side note, do not be afraid to be specific about the way that you want them to help you.)  Do you have a specific question on how to start running or eating healthy? Post a question on this page, ask an expert or specialist, search amazon for a book on the subject, or simply google it!

5.       Inspire yourself: this is the fun part! Come up with a list of rewards that you will use to celebrate milestones or successes along the way or create a motivation/inspiration board with your favorite quotes or pictures that you will use to keep yourself going when you are having a rough day or a setback.

Next week Lexy and I will post our New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 and will be announcing a contest for those who are willing to share their new year’s resolutions with all of the SmartSassySisters! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

This little piggy went to Market

I am sure you have heard it a million times, shop the perimeter of the grocery store!  No good can come from those bagged, boxed, frozen, processed food-like products.  Not only are they full of chemicals and have all the nutrients stripped away, they just don’t taste as good as real food!  Not to mention that shopping the perimeter makes my trips so much quicker.   

I keep the’ fast shop’ app on my phone and just add to it whenever I use up the last of something or I see a recipe I want to try and I need some unique ingredients.  My weekly grocery list also depends on what is in season and what is on sale that week.  Since we make all of our own almond butter when roasted unsalted almonds are on sale I have been known to buy 20 pounds.  I can’t eat 20 pounds of spinach before it goes bad, but for dried/bulk items I stock up when I can.  And obviously I don’t buy organic blackberries for $10 a pint when they aren’t in season in the winter.  I find something else that is in season and enjoy that.  Or I will buy frozen berries for smoothies if they are out of season.  Sometimes I will just find type of produce I haven’t tried before and bring it home and scour pinterest for a healthy way to prepare it.  Sometimes it works (liked brussel sprouts) and sometimes it doesn’t (like beets).    I never would have thought I would grow to love those little baby cabbage's, but I can't get enough! 

My weekly grocery list includes:

·         Almond Milk

·         Organic Apples

·         Avocado

·         Bananas

·         Broccoli

·         Brussel Sprouts

·         Organic Carrots

·         Organic Celery

·         Organic Eggs

·         Garlic

·         Organic Grapes

·         Green Beans (fresh, not canned)

·         Bell Peppers (all colors)

·         Kale

·         Larabars

·         Lemons

·         Limes

·         Fresh mozzarella cheese

·         Onions

·         Steel Cut Oats

·         Spaghetti Squash

·         Organic Spinach

·         Sweet Potatoes

Monthly or as needed:

·         Almonds

·         Cashews

·         Coconut Milk

·         Dried Black Beans

·         Dried Chickpeas

·         Ezekiel Buns/Bread/Pita/Tortilla

·         Evol Burritos

·         Free Range Organic Chicken

·         Grass-fed Organic Ground Beef

·         Green Tea bags

·         Jalapeno’s

·         Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups or some organic dark chocolate

·         Local Honey

·         Parmesan Cheese

·         Quinoa

·         Unrefined Coconut Oil

I can be much stronger when I don’t have temptation in the house.  So I avoid the cookie/chip isle and I don’t bring it in my house.   When my only ‘snack’ is green grapes or carrots, then that’s all I can really indulge in.  I usually have a dark chocolate bar hidden somewhere and can always pop a batch of healthy kettle korn.   If I don’t have a bag of Cheetos or a frozen pizza, and I won’t be tempted to devour it when I’m hangry (that’s hungry and angry for those of you who haven’t experienced me in all my glory!)  And if I do devour it I know it won't taste nearly as good as I remember since my body is accustomed to real food now! 
What must-have's am I missing on my grocery list? 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Honey Oatmeal Cookies

fresh from the oven!
I wanted to bake some Christmas treats for some special people in my life, but now that I am a smartsassysister I could not justify making the normal Christmas corn-syrup filled cookies to give out- I mean, after all of the blogs I have written this year I could not exactly dip some oreos in chocolate and hand them out without being a hypocrite:)  So I did what any smartsassysister would do- I googled "healthy Christmas cookies!"  Now to be fair, the recipe below is not 100% clean or entirely healthy (it does include brown sugar), however I made it with all organic ingredients and it is definitely a more nutritious treat than a stack of sugar cookies with icing!

Healthy Honey Oatmeal Cookies

Dough mixture
3 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 c organic brown sugar
1/4 c honey
1 egg
1 tbsp water
1/2 c whole wheat flour
 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c rolled oats
optional: chopped nuts, dried fruit or chocolate chips (I chose organic semisweet chocolate chips)

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray or grease a cookie sheet.
- Mix together the butter, brown sugar, honey, egg and water thoroughly.
- Sift together the dry ingredients then stir in the oats.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Add any of the optional ingredients you have chosen.
- Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheet.
- Bake 12-15 minutes and cook on a wire rack.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Surprise Ingredients Part II-Ice Cream & Pudding

If beans in your dessert dip weren’t wacky enough, I'm going to show you how to make pudding & ice cream with spinach and avocado!  Please don't write me off as a nutjob just yet, give it a try.  As you read earlier, Avocados are one of my newly discovered loves and I was thrilled to score some on sale this week for 3/$1!  Although I could have just made bags of homemade pita chips with Ezekiel tortillas & pitas and filled up on guacamole & chips, I wanted to find some new recipes for my new green friends!  I can't take credit for the ingenuity of these recipes, but I can promise you they have the stamp of approval from me & Brian.
Avocado’s sometimes get a bad rap for being squishy, mushy and green, or full of fat.  All of those are true, but the fat they have is heart healthy monounsaturated fat.  They are also rich in lutein, folate, vitamin K, vitamin E, and vitamin B5.  On average one has 22 grams of fat and 240 calories, but it’s a completely different nutritional experience than 2 oz. of Cheetos that have about the same number of fat & calories and none of the vitamins!  I am not suggesting you eat an avocado everyday, but when you do, just know there are a million great ways to enjoy them. 

I have never been a fan of mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream or most other creamy type spreads.  But I do love an avocado slice, or smear on a sandwich.  Try that for a swap out inside of your regular options. 

Today’s post is all about using greens in your dessert and enjoying them with a hint of chocolate!

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

I never made chocolate pudding from scratch, but if you do it’s full of heavy whipping cream, sugar and eggs.  And if you buy it in a box or premade in those little cups it’s full of Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate (for thickening), Mono- and Diglycerides (to prevent foaming), Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1.  I don’t know about you, but that sounds scarier than Avocado’s in my pudding! 

  • 1 + 1/2 ripe avocado, peeled and flesh removed from pit
  • 1/3 cup quality cocoa powder (100% pure cacao)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (you could certainly use almond milk if that is what you have)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until a well combined and a creamy, consistent texture is achieved.  You can serve this pudding straight from the blender or chilled.  It makes approximately two half-cup servings or four quarter-cup servings.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

·         2 tablespoons Agave

·         Handful of spinach

·         1/2 avocado

  • 1 capful of peppermint oil
  • (I want to try this with actual fresh mint leaves, but I haven’t yet)
  • 2 cups of ice
  • Dark chocolate chips

Add ingredients to the blender in the order listed and blend until smooth.  If you have Vitamix, it will be easier, but I just have a blender.  I had to stop it a few times and mix the ingredients around.  Be patient, it takes a while to blend. Throw the chocolate chips in near the end otherwise they will be too blended. I also toss a few more on top after it is served. It is best eaten immediately. 

If you find that it is too thick and not blending well add in a splash of coconut (or almond) milk. I have had to do this a few times and it helps it blend when I accidentally add too much ice.

Let me know if you have found any healthy ingredients turned into wacky food combo's.  I'm always looking for new ways to switch it up!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger...Maybe

So the other day I was listening to my Spotify playlist as I was running and the song “stronger” by Kelly Clarkson came on.  I have always liked this song, but for some reason that night the lyrics really stuck with me, particularly the line “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  I have heard people say this a million times- and in fact I myself have been known to say it quite frequently- but  that night was the first time I really actually thought about the process by which negative events in our lives have the potential to make us stronger- if we choose to pursue that path.  Because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that becoming stronger after a disappointment or a setback or a failure is not an automatic process- there is no guarantee that something “that doesn’t kill you” will make you a stronger or better person.  In fact, think about how many people you know that those types of events in their lives have instead left them embittered or completely broken? 

I often have a tendency to be like Pollyanna and see the world through rose-colored glasses, but the truth is that life is not fair and no matter how hard I try, there are often situations and circumstances that I cannot control and sometimes things just do not turn out the way that I hoped.  How many of us have suffered a job loss, a broken heart, the loss of a loved one,  a serious injury in the middle of training for your next race- I am not trying to be melodramatic here, but sometimes our best laid plans or dreams are shattered or do not come to fruition.  It is true that when those things happen they can make us stronger- BUT ONLY IF WE MAKE THE CONSCIOUS CHOICE TO PURSUE THE PATH OF GROWING AND LEARNING AND BECOMING STRONGER.

So when life has thrown us a curve ball and someone or something has disappointed or hurt us, what steps can we take to make sure that we become stronger instead of weaker or bitter?  I am no psychologist or expert, but from my personal experience here are some things that help me cope and move forward:
  •  Reach out:  One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to assume that we are the only one who has ever gone through this situation or that we have to hide our fear/pain/disappointment from others.  When you are weak and hurting, let those people in your life who you trust and care for you love you and comfort you.  And it is perfectly acceptable to say, “I do not need advice right now- I just need someone to listen and empathize.”  There is really something comforting about knowing that you are not alone and that you are not the first person who has ever gone through what you are experiencing.
  • Don’t get trapped in the blame or excuses game:  It is really tempting to start pointing fingers or laying blame when something bad happens.  Those of you who know me in person know that I over-analyze to a fault (it’s the lawyer in me!) and I really struggle with wanting to put all of the pieces together so that everything makes sense and I can understand why , what and how something happened. Unfortunately for me, life does not always make sense and no matter how hard you try you cannot always sort everything out or figure out why things happened.   Instead, the best thing you can do is try your hardest to accept the situation as it- understand that it happened, that you cannot change what happened, and that at the end of the day blaming yourself or someone else for the situation does not result in any productive changes- it certainly does not make you stronger.  
  •   Objectively examine the situation:  Understanding that you cannot likely change what happened, in order to grow as a person you have to be able to look back at the situation objectively and ask yourself some (oftentimes hard!!!) questions:  was there anything that I did that contributed to the negative outcome that I would want to do differently in the future? What lessons did I learn from this? Are there any boundaries or changes I want to implement in my life as a result of what happened? Trust me, I am not saying you need to analyze the situation ad nauseuam- I just think that some conscious thought must be given in these circumstances if you truly do want to grow and change and not just keep repeating the same negative patterns.
  • Take care of yourself: You may not be able to control all of the outside forces, people or feelings in your life, so focus on the things that you can control.  Make sure that you sleep, eat healthy, and continue your exercise regimen (honestly, there is nothing better than exercise endorphins!!)  Focus on the things that you HAVE to do to keep your mind and body strong and allow yourself some grace to let the unnecessary tasks or obligations slide for a little bit- recognize that this is a temporary phase and the sooner  you allow yourself to heal and process, the sooner you will be able to return to your full energetic self. 
  • Move on: Seriously, at some point you have to say, it's over, its done, I'm moving on to better things.  You may have to tell yourself that every day for awhile, but the truth is the world is full of great opportunities that you are going to miss if you are sitting on your couch feeling sorry for yourself forever. 
As Jillian Michaels says, “a bad day for your ego is a good day for your soul.”  I do honestly believe that our potential to grow and develop as people is the strongest when we are in the valleys of life, not when everything is going smoothly and perfectly.  It is true that “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”- if we are willing to make the choice to learn, grow and move forward.  I don't know about you, but I do not want to be defined by my hurts and bruises and scars- instead I want to conquer my disappointments with grace, strength, and dignity. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Picture Perfect

Here’s another guest post from our friend Samara, our fashion consultant and photo diva.  She has some great tips for you to show your best self at all the upcoming holiday parties, and beyond! 

No one really wants to be that girl, who refuses to take a photo and hides her face while at a party. It's the season, you're going to be in pictures, and let’s face it, you deserve to show off the progress you've been working so hard for!

So, prepare yourself....go out knowing you're going to have your picture taken! Do your hair, make up and something you feel great and beautiful in!

·         Hair-I'm a fan of clean fresh hair! Blow dry that hair away from your scalp & make sure you don’t gunk it up with all kinds of product, it will just make it look greasy.  If you do have 2/3 day old hair and it's becoming a little too shiny - do a slick pony, the bun is very "in" right now, or even the looped high pony can look great!

·         Make-up-don't forget some sort of lipstick! But at the same time don't do dramatic eyes and a dark/bright lipstick – pick one or the other. Makeup is there to enhance your features, not hide them.  Also, pick a foundation that matches your skin even when it's can always use bronzer!

·         Outfit-be proud of that new body. Remember that clothes that are hanging off of you don't do you any favors, just like ones that are too tight don't either.

·         Also, a good rule to follow is, "only show 1" so, if you are wearing something really short, showing your fabulous legs's good to leave some to the imagination and not have a plunging neckline or a bunch of cleavage showing and vice versa!

Okay picture time!
People sometimes say, you're so photogenic!  I just laugh at them and say I don't post the bad ones of me.  That’s true, but I also have practiced! No, really. Get in front of the mirror. Now, hair done or not, make up done or not, just do it....and recognize the beauty staring back at you!

·         Next smile, figure out if you like it more with teeth or without.

·         Practice keeping your head level. This prevents the double chin and the chin out too much problems.

·         Check out your eyes when you smile. I have to think about opening mine when I take photos because when I smile, sometimes my eyes get too squinty. (But no one looks good with deer in headlights eyes either!)

·         Try tilting your head to one side or the other (just a bit) or turning to try your profiles! (Personally for me, I like the half profile half front pic!)

·         Stand up tall, lengthen your spine, (this stretches your tummy vertically, so it feels good to tighten it too!)

·         Shoulders back & chest up! No, I don't want you to have a sway back and stick your booty out too, just have really good posture!

·         Lengthen your neck, stretch it out and this sounds crazy, tricky and ridiculous...but I like to push my collar bones out to show too.

·         Work your body! Angle it, tilt your hip, bevel your foot and knee (never leave your legs apart!), pageant pose, put one foot rested on the toe behind the other....look natural! (Unless of course everyone is doing the same exact pose!)

·         My friends all know....and everyone on Facebook too....I put my hand on my hip.  It’s not just because I can be bossy, but it also is more flattering to my upper arm. favorite...have the pictures (if possible) taken from a little higher than normal! Yes, I've heard that the best photos are taken at eye level...but I SWEAR I look the skinniest when the picture is taken from a really tall person...or the person taking the picture raises the camera where they can still see the screen. Yes, I have asked if they can take the picture from a little higher, and YES...people all laugh...but it's even more hilarious when they see the screen and say – ‘oh it does work’ & then they tell me how they got laughed at later when they were having a picture taken & the cycle continues! 
So go to the mirror & smile...go out to all the Holiday Parties & have a great time - even when the pictures are taken!  I'd love to hear how this little project goes (or just how ridiculous I sound).  So please post comments!