Thursday, September 27, 2012

Freeze Yogurt Bar: Delicious Organic Frozen Yogurt!

Has anyone else besides me noticed the recent influx of frozen yogurt places? It seems like everywhere I look, there is a new frozen yogurt place! I think the allure of most frozen yogurt places is the idea that it is a healthier version of an ice cream treat.  I will be the first to admit that I used to think the same thing, until I looked at the ingredients contained in some of the frozen yogurt chains.  For instance, the chocolate frozen yogurt at Orange Leaf contains the following:

Non-Fat Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup Solids, Coconut Oil, Cocoa (processed with Alkali), Nonfat Yogurt (Cultured Nonfat Milk), Natural & Artificial Flavor, Sodium Caseinate, Salt, Potassium & Sodium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Mono & Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid Bacteria (Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus). Contains : Milk, Soy.

While frozen yogurt may be lower in fat and calories than ice cream, since I did not want to fill my body with chemicals that I couldn’t even pronounce, I stayed away from the frozen yogurt fad- that is until I discovered Freeze Yogurt Bar! 

Freeze is located in West Chester, Ohio in the Voice of America Plaza next to Chipotle.  At Freeze, their frozen yogurt is still fat-free- however it is all organic and made with live and active cultures, pure milk without rGBH, pure raw cane sugar- no corn syrup, no GMOS, no preservatives, no addititives and no artificial colors or flavors.   And it is delicious!

Just a few of the fantastic topping options!
I have been there twice- the first time I had chocolate with coconut, strawberries, and a little bit of granola.  The second time I tried three different flavors in my cup- chocolate, peanut butter, and cheesecake- and all three of them were delicious!  The toppings at Freeze are also all natural or organic- and they are labeled accordingly so you know exactly what you are eating. While you will not find twix bars, snickers or marshmallow creme to top your yogurt with (and you all know the SmartSassySisters consider those poison not food), but instead you will find organic/natural toppings like peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, fresh fruit, coconut, flax seed, almonds, at least 7 different types of granola, sugar cones, and much much more!

My finished creation!
A few other things I loved about Freeze:
- They text you coupon discount codes- the other day I got a discount code for 6 oz free!
-  The staff have been friendly and knowledgeable and will let you try anything first (when you say high fructose corn syrup, they wrinkle their noses just like the SmartSassySisters do!)
-  They also have non-dairy yogurt options

While you may not have a Freeze in your area, there are other organic frozen yogurt options available.  In Oklahoma, Lexy has found Red Mango (which is a national chain so there may be one near you!).  The key is to do your homework and research the ingredients or type of yogurt first- that way you can enjoy your delicious treat knowing that it is not poisoning you in the process! 

Are there any frozen yogurt or ice cream places that you love? Let us know!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

We are in Print!

Lexy is active in the Junior League of Oklahoma City (I promise Junior League has made great strides since the ladies you saw in The Help) and our blog was reviewed in their latest magazine.  Here's a screenshot, we were so tickled to get some coverage and continue to share our story with more people.
What are some other blogs you like to follow? 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

No Cook Banana Oat Power Packed Breakfast

I love oatmeal in the mornings, not only because it is delicious but also because it keeps me full throughout the entire morning! Recently, a friend sent me this great recipe for oatmeal and it is so easy, nutritious and delicious that I had to share it! Seriously, it takes me about 2 minutes before I go to bed in the evening to throw this together and in the morning I wake up to an already made breakfast to jump start my day.

- 1/2- 1 banana
- 1/4-1/2 c milk of your choice (almond, soy, dairy- I have been using vanilla almond milk)
- 1/4-1/2 c rolled oats
- 1 tbsp almond butter (optional)
- 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

First step: mashed banana
1. Mash the banana in the bottom of the bowl
2. Add in the oats, milk, almond butter, and chia seeds and stir.
3. Put it in the refrigerator to sit overnight

During the night, the oats soak up the milk and the flavors 'marinate'. This recipe could be altered in a variety of ways- instead of almond butter, you could sprinkle almonds or berries in the oatmeal in the morning.
If I am not going to be running or exercising, I usually use the smaller
portion of oats/banana/milk just to keep the calories

All the ingredients added, ready for the fridge!
The ingredients in this recipe contain some awesome health benefits:

Chia seeds: chia seeds have an extremely high concentration of omega-3’s (even more than salmon!) and are also an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, calcium, potassium, and protein.

Bananas: excellent source of potassium, which helps prevent high blood pressure and promote bone health. Bananas also are a good source of 
vitamin B6, vitamin C, fiber and manganese.

Rolled Oats:  Oats have a high soluble fiber content and  contain a special type of fiber known as beta-glucan, which has been shown to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.  The complex carbohydrates and water-soluble fiber in oats encourcages slow digestion and stabilizes blood sugar. Oats are also a good source of the powerful antioxidant selenium. 

Do you have any healthy breakfast go to favorites that give you strength and energy and keep you full throughout the morning? If so, please share them with us!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jillian is my best friend

If Carrie is my 'sister' than I want Jillian to be my best friend.  I'll share her with you- listen to her podcasts, they are just under 1 hour each and are free to download.  One of my favorites is from February 15th entitled “Fad Diets.”  There are currently 82 podcasts available, with a wealth of information.  Since we recently moved my commuting time has gone from 30 + minutes to only 5 minutes, so it takes a lot longer for me to get through an episode. 

Each show starts off with about 20 minutes of Jillian and producer Janice discussing a hot topic like motivating the ones we love, not-so-great workout trends, debunking the plateau, detoxifying our lives and in the 2/15/2012 podcast fad diets.  There’s plenty of banter that you come to know and love from Jillian and they usually take 2 calls or emails from their listeners.  Sometimes I am lucky and all three subjects speak directly to me, but no matter what I always learn something.  The October 7, 2011 episode is also super helpful in addressing the topic “Can I afford to go Organic?” (a topic that is near and dear to us Smart Sassy Sisters)
Ok, back to the Fad Diet show....I’m not a nutritionist but I can promise between the time I finish writing this post and you read it there will be a new latest and greatest diet that you JUST HAVE to try.  I don’t care if you are talking about Atkin’s, HCG, the Popcorn Diet, Zone Diet, Dukan Diet, Air Diet, Low Carb, Paleo, or Cabbage Soup Diet (I promise I didn’t make any of those up, but clearly someone else did!) Here’s the secrets according to the irreverant and hilariously funny Jillian Michaels:
  •  Don’t eat chemicals-if you can’t pronounce it, don’t put it in your body
  • Eat lots of fruits & vegetables (that doesn’t mean french fried potatoes or apple pie).  I mean a real, whole banana and snap peas. 
  • Consume organic meats & dairy, carbohydrates and fats in small quantities. 
  • In order to lose weight you have to consume less than you are burning off by exercise.  You can have 2 pieces of pizza or 10 bowls of fresh fruits & vegetables.  Which do you think will have more fiber and nutritional value?  I don’t want to be ravenous in 2 hours, so I want to fill my body with good quality ingredients. 
April 28th also had a great show called "Fat Fighting Foods" where Jillian highlighted the benefits of some overlooked options.  They included:
  • Green Tea-if you get bored with drinking water all the time, this is a great alternative that has also been proven to help with digestion, fighting disease and burning fat.  (Just don't load it up with sugar making it a sweet green tea.) 
  • Pure Fish Oil-provides you with greater concentration and endurance.  I don't eat fish at all, and I have the attention span of a gnat, so this is something I really need to try out!
  • Pistachio's-make sure to get the kind where you have to actually open the shell.  This will slow down the time it takes you to devour a handful.  Just like all nuts they are full of healthy fats.
  • Pomagranates-another choice where the lengthy preperation time will slow down your eating time.  They are also a great source of antioxidants and potassium. 

Once you get hooked on Jillian's fabulousness, you will see why she has such a big fan base!  Carrie & I are both thrilled to see that Jillian is back on The Biggest Loser which starts Janurary 2013.  She was on for 10 seasons and took a break the past couple of years.  Don't worry, Bob and Dolvett will still be there for eye candy and hard core workouts!  There will be a new spin this year when they take on childhood obesity and change the lives of children between 13-17. 

Do you have any podcasts that you listen to on a regular basis?  I would love to check them out!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yes, I have a Personal Trainer

While I love Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper from the Biggest Loser, when I started looking to add strength training to my fitness regime I never even considered personal training as an option.  I figured I would just take some classes, find a plan on the internet, or possibly invest in some more workout dvds.  However, when the owner of one of the studios I contacted about fitness classes suggested that based on my goals I may want to consider personal training, I decided it was worth a try and I set up a training session with Lisa Anderson  at beneFIT Studio Salon and Spa.

Back view
Front view
The first thing that I was really impressed with was that even before our session, Lisa had emailed me some questions and also took the time to read this blog so that she had an understanding of where I was coming from before I even started. Since I already do plenty of cardio on my own by running 4 times a week, Lisa suggested that we focus our training sessions primarily on weight training, which is exactly what I wanted

At our first session we met and went over my goals:
  1.  I want to tone and strengthen but not get bulky; I knew that I did not need to focus on losing weight,  but I also did not want to gain weight either
  2.  I wanted to make sure I was doing the proper exercises with the correct form
  3.  I only wanted to do things that would enhance my running and not anything that could lead to injury and prevent me from running. 
One of my first questions to Lisa was what kind of results should I expect from personal training.  Since I am a smart sassy sister, I believe I said something to the effect of “not to be blunt, I know that personal training is not going to miraculously get rid of  all of the extra skin that is left after losing 119 lbs, so how will I know if it is working?”  Lisa stated that while some skin will not go away, that I should definitely start to see some definition in my arms, thighs, glutes and abs from lifting weights and training.  In order to measure progress, Lisa took some before pictures of me (posted above), which we can then use to compare after a couple of months. 

Right now I have committed to training two days a week- while $30 a session definitely means I will need to cut some other things out of my budget, here are the reasons why I am willing to make that sacrifice right now:
One of the small workout rooms- usually this is where I do my arm day
  • I love the small studio feel and the personal attention. Rather than a huge gym  chain atmosphere, BeneFit has an intimate feel and I never feel like I am working out and being watched by a ton of other people
  •  Successful weight training requires proper form and it is great having Lisa there to correct my form and teach me what it should feel like to have proper form. For instance, I had a terrible time knowing what it meant to have a “flat back.” Finally Lisa was able to explain it in a way that I understood by telling me to remember to “use my money makers”- meaning stick my chest and butt out.  Ever since I have never had a problem keeping my back in proper form!
  •  Lisa keeps track of what weights I lift and has a set circuit of what I will be doing each session- so just like running, I am just able to do it without thinking and planning what I have to do
  • Lisa is awesome at responding to texts and emails- she is always following up with me and asking me how I feel and responding to questions I have.  She takes the extra effort and so I feel like I get benefits from our training even outside of our sessions. She even brought me a shaker and a scoop of protein powder to try when I asked her what I should eat after my am training session!
  •  I push myself harder when I know that someone is there making sure that I am doing it right 
  • It is way more fun to have someone to talk to as I work out- though I have to be careful because I am still not very good at talking while lifting weights without losing my balance
  • Another of the workout rooms- doing lunges across this is not fun!
  •  Above all, I love that Lisa is committed to teaching and educating me so that I have the tools to strength train on my own should I choose to, versus just trying to suck me in and getting me hooked on “personal training.”
One extra bonus of training at BeneFit is that the studio is located in Columbia Tusculum, a great older part of Cincinnati that is about 5 minutes from my office.  Since the studio is also an Aveda Spa and Salon, they have awesome shower facilities filled with Aveda products, towels, hair dryer, etc.. On Tuesday mornings after my training session, I hop in the shower and get ready for work and it feels exactly like I was getting ready at home (except maybe fancierJ  I used to think that it would be such a hassle to pack up all of my clothes, make up, accessories, etc… to get ready somewhere else, but honestly it has been a breeze.  I keep one gym bag packed with an extra deodorant, curling iron, and brush (since they have all of the products for use for free I do not have to bother packing hair spray, shampoo, body wash, etc..) and bring my work clothes on hangers so they do not get wrinkled! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Do you Eat to Live or Live to Eat?

Book Review of Eat to Live
by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

This was a good book and there were some great takeaways, but it was almost 400 pages!  I listened to it on CD during a long drive, so the time went by quickly. Below are some of my favorite topics it covered.

Eating a vegetarian diet is no guarantee of good health-you can cut out dairy and meat but if you fill up on bread, pasta, bagels and crackers you are still lacking in vitamins and fiber.  Following a strict vegetarian diet is not as important as eating lots of fruits and vegetables.  “A vegetarian whose daily diet is mainly refined grains, cold breakfast cereals, processed health-food-store products, vegetarian fast foods, white rice, and pasta will be worse off than a person who eats a little chicken or eggs, but consumes a large amount of fruits, vegetable and beans.”  Brian & I eat organic meat about 3 meals a week, we are so busy trying to get in all of our fruits & vegetables we don't need meat to fill us up anymore.  Just because there is no animal product, or it's gluten free, or sugar free, or an organic candybar, doesn't mean it's healthy for you.  It's still a candy bar, or it's still full of lots of ingredients that you can't pronounce.  Don't just read the front of the label, read the ingredient list!

Don’t fear carbs-we need carbohydrates more than any other substance in our body, but we need the right carbs……that’s not 3 dinner rolls, or a whole sleeve of crackers.  The calories in fresh fruits, beans, legumes, whole grains and root vegetables mainly come from carbohydrates.  It’s the empty calorie (refined carbs) that give carbs the bad reputation.    

Fruits and vegetables are just more filling.  It only takes 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to ingest 360 calories.  You would have to eat 10 CUPS of fresh green beans to consume 360 calories.  So it’s no wonder your stomach feels more full when you eat fruits & vegetables as opposed to empty calories.  Your stomach can hold about 1 liter of food, which is 3,000 calories of French fries or 500 calories of beans.  Those beans are going to give you so many other nutrients and sustain you, not to mention you won't feel the guilt after consuming 3,000 calories of greasy french fries. 

The book suggests you set a goal to eat 1 pound of raw and 1 pound of cooked or steamed vegetables daily.  I will be the first to admit I rarely get that many vegetables in daily, but I am definately trying to increase my intake.  One way I am trying to do that is with juicing-Brian & I recently bought a juicer and are looking forward to experimenting with creative ways to add more fresh produce in our diet.  I am sure there will be a post or two about that. 

Stop believing the myth that you need to eat animal products to get protein.  How do you think the hippo, gorilla and elephant are strong and get protein?  They eat vegetables!  I am not going to eat 40 pounds of vegetables daily, but I’m also not a 350 pound gorilla.  You don't need to eat 10 oz. of steak everyday to get protein, just like you don't need to drink 16 oz. of cow's milk to get calcium.  There are proteins & calcium in fruits & vegetables (and very little calories!)
Toxic eating can be just as addictive as smoking or taking drugs.  You need to overcome the addiction.  Stop telling yourself excuses and start making small changes.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

She wore an itsy bitsy teeny weeny what???

As those of you who follow me on Facebook already know, this year on vacation I did something that I have never done in my adult life- I purchased a bikini!

I had no intention of ever buying a bikini. In fact, this entire journey started when I showed up in Baltimore and showed Lexy the two size 6 bathing suits I had found on sale at TJ Maxx- which I thought were super flattering.  Her response: “those look great, but why the hell didn’t you buy a bikini?”  What followed was a discussion that can only be had between two people who have been close friends for a really long time:

Carrie: Um, because when you are super fat and lose weight the extra skin does not go away.
Lexy: Do not be stupid, you look fine.  You are a size 4-6 you need to be wearing an f’ing two-piece.
Carrie: I am not going to be one of those people who wear a two-piece with their extra flab hanging out. (Proceeds to show Lexy the extra skin left after losing 119 lbs)
Lexy: You need to wear a bikini. You are hot.
Carrie: Fine, I will try one on.  But that does not mean I am going to buy one.

Luckily there were plenty other distractions in Baltimore and so I was able to avoid my promise for a few days.  However, after our first day at the beach, Lexy and I ended up at Wings (or Waves, or Shells, or Bargain Beachwear- I can’t honestly remember there were 3 of them on every corner and I am pretty sure they are all owned by the same person) at midnight trying on bikinis.  After telling the Russian lady at the front door that no, in fact we were not interested in getting a henna tattoo, I entered the dressing room and started trying out different combinations of tops and bottoms.  Once I had found a style of bottom and top that I felt were the most flattering, it became easy to narrow down which ones to try on. To my surprise, I actually found a couple of bikinis that worked- and I ended up purchasing one!

The next day I bravely put on my newly purchased two piece and started getting ready for the beach. To be honest, I was still a tad self-conscious.  While I was proud that I had achieved so much in the past year that I was able to put on a bikini without looking absolutely ridiculous, I also was fully aware that I did not have the perfect bikini body.  As I walked out of the changing room, I was a little disappointed that I did not get more of a reaction from my family members. I was really hoping that they would compliment me and when their response was a little tepid, I started second guessing my decision.  But here is the thing- just because their reaction did not measure up to what I was hoping for did not mean that I looked terrible in a bikini- one of the most important things I have learned on this journey is that you cannot control other people’s reactions. So instead of running back to the bathroom and changing into one of my one-piece swimsuits, I decided to let Lexy take a picture of me in my two piece bathing suit and post it on Facebook.  I chose to do this not because I have the perfect bikini body that I wanted to show off- but for the exact opposite reason. I could spend hours listing things about my body that I would like to look differently: chiseled abs, perfectly smooth legs without any trace of cellulite, the baggy excess skin somehow magically erased, and heck, while we are at it, I’d like to have long flowing thick hair and wrinkle free eyes.  However, instead of focusing on the imperfections, I wanted to celebrate the fact that my body is so much stronger and leaner than it was over a year ago- which was a direct result of my hard work, sweat and dedication.. I wanted to celebrate the fact that I could actually fit into a size 6 bikini!

There are very few women on this planet who actually do have perfect bikini bodies, but just because we do not have the perfect airbrushed bikini body does not mean that we should not celebrate the bodies that we do have! 

This week I challenge you to comment on this post with one thing you like about your body!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Southwest Black Bean Salad

This is another recipe where I found a few variations and made it my own.  So if there are flavors in here you don’t like please omit them.  I'm not a big fan of tomatoes or mangoes and they were in different versions I saw.   

I don’t want to go all conspiracy theory on you but we don’t use canned vegetables because of the chemicals in the lining of the cans.  You can read one of the studies hereWe use fresh or frozen vegetables or in the case of beans and legumes we buy them dried and then cook them.  It’s healthier and so much cheaper!  It does take some pre-planning on your part.  I usually let the beans soak in a giant bowl of water for at least 8 hours and then cook them on low in my crockpot (again in water) for 8 hours.  I strain and rinse between each step. 


  • 1 pound black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 9 oz frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 small hass avocado, diced
  • 2 bell peppers chopped (red, yellow, green or combination)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Cilantro is one of my favorites!


  • 1 lime, juice of
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. mild chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • zest of one lime
  • sea salt & pepper


Combine dressing ingredients and pour over beans in a large bowl with lid.  Shake & let it marinate while you prepare the other items.

Chop the avocado, peppers and onions into small squares (about the size of the beans & corn).  If your food processor or mandoline has attachments to do this without turns it into a mushy mess than you do that instead of a knife & cutting board.  Chop cilantro.  Pour into bean marinated mixture and stir/shake. 
Bright, delecious and flavorful

It’s great as a salad or side, and also works well on a pita or scooped with tortilla chips.  I love it for summertime and also tailgating!