Snacker Hack – Sexy Salads

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My favorite veggies

It might surprise you that I’ve never been a big fan of salad. Unless it’s doused in cheese and toppings and some kind of creamy dressing. Yum!

To me, lettuce is the most useless food – it’s basically all water, no taste. But, salad is one of the easiest ways to hit those daily veggie goals. So I started experimenting with different bases and healthier toppings to create the ultimate sexy salad. Below are some tips to go from drab to fab:

Try something new

One day I needed something quick and easy for lunch, so I grabbed one of those Dole Chopped Salad Kits – it had a mix of carrots and kale and cabbage, so I figured I’d give it a go. It was delicious! Now I make all of my salads with cabbage – and some arugula – because they both have a nice peppery flavor – and are more palatable than just plain lettuce.

Stick with veggies you like

It also might surprise you that I don’t love ALL veggies. I thought I hated peppers until recently – turns out I just don’t like the green ones because they’re on the bitter side. But orange, yellow, and red? Yes, please! If you aren’t a huge veggie lover, stick with the one or two you do like so it doesn’t feel like torture to eat your lunch. Sweeter veggies like cherry tomatoes, snap peas, and baby carrots are safe choices.

Don’t forget to accessorize

There are a ton of options to give you some crunch, a touch of sweetness, or that wild pop of flavor you crave. A few of my favorites are avocado, craisins, sunflower seeds, frizzled onions, bacon bits, and clementine sections. Simple salads are so boring…and overrated.

Add some protein

A salad without some kind of protein is really just bunny food – you’ll be hungry within the hour. Add some substance in the form of hard-boiled eggs, shrimp, chicken, tofu – you name it. This will help keep you full and add variety to your meals. Especially if you’re eating a lot of salads during the week. I recently started using a can of chunk light, low sodium tuna. It takes literally 5 seconds to open the can and adds 24 grams of protein.

Find a good dressing

A lot of store-bought dressings are filled with crap, like added sugars in the form of corn syrup. Yuck. Choose something flavorful that won’t break the sugar and calorie bank. If you MUST have your Thousand Island, try diluting it with a little lime juice (trust me on this one) first. You can also switch up your dressings to change the whole “feel” of your salad.

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Literally my lunch each work day for the past few weeks – I’m sold on cabbage salad!

So, if you’re like me and you’re not sold on “traditional” salad with boring leaves and such, you might want to give some of these ideas a try.

One more thing…

You know how you always have to add more dressing because some parts are just too dry? Usually, it’s because we try to use one serving of dressing on a monster salad made for an entire family! Even healthy foods should be eaten in moderation.

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I portion out everything using my Portion Fix containers from Beachbody. They make life a lot easier.

Here’s my equation for a perfectly dressed salad:

  • 1 cup base veggies (cabbage, arugula, endive, etc.)
  • 1 cup fun veggies (cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc.)
  • 3/4 cup protein (chicken, chopped egg, tuna, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup accessories (avocado, craisins, nuts, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons dressing

Voila – The perfect salad!

This ONE thing could help you lose weight

Did you know that 80-90% of weight loss is based on nutrition? Essentially, you could eat healthily, not work out, and still come in at a healthy weight.

Even though I workout 5-7x a week, I haven’t seen any big changes in my physique or movement on the scale. And, I’m not going to lie, it’s so freaking annoying.

If I have to pinpoint a date, everything went downhill around Thanksgiving. Afterward, I just kept fumbling around trying to find a nutrition program that worked for me. Once the new year started I jumped on the Keto bandwagon to help me get back to a comfortable place (weight-wise). While the meals were super yummy and filling, and I was only eating 3x per day, I still felt stuck, bloated, and miserable. I gave it three weeks and decided to move on.

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Keto-approved.

Then I went back to basics with Beachbody’s Portion Fix Containers – they’ve helped me slim down in the past, so it made complete sense to give ’em another go. Still, nothing. Do you know how maddening, that is?

I was literally ready to give up. Then I stumbled on a Pin that would change everything…

It’s so obvious, you’ll roll your eyes

It was one of those photos that looked like a scam – “The steps I took to lose over 100 pounds” or something like that. But I clicked on it anyway – because why not? To my surprise, it was actually legit and took me over to a woman’s weight loss blog. There, the author mentioned tracking her food – which I reluctantly do digitally anyway – but via MyFitnessPal. The app showed her calorie and macronutrient counts and gave better insight into how much food she was actually putting into her mouth each day.

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Loaded Oatmeal – under 300 calories and keeps you full for hours!

I’ve never had much success logging every little detail like that because it takes more effort and consistency than I can handle, but I figured I’d try again. I first tried using the Samsung Health app on my phone and immediately, the results were eye-opening!

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Dinner was literally a glass of water, half a Reuben, coleslaw, pickle sliver, and few fries. OH. MY. God.

I couldn’t believe how many extra calories I was consuming and how many vitamins and essential nutrients I wasn’t. Everything adds up – even those little 50 or 100 calorie bites or condiments. I cook or bake with EVOO because it’s a healthier alternative to some fats, but it has a whopping 120 calories per tablespoon. YIKES! Once I knew this tracking thing was gold, I decided to download the MyFitnessPal app to access more features and insights.

A few chips here, a cookie there, a little butter in the pan, a bit of cream in a cup of tea – when you write the words down on paper, it doesn’t seem so threatening. When you see the calories, carbs, sugar, etc. broken down, it’s another story.

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Still learning to reach my targets.

In the last few days of logging nutrition on MyFitnessPal, I’ve noticed I feel so much better (and thinner!) when I have a great workout and keep my calories under the recommended target. It’s really been as basic as that: burn more calories than you consume.

Let thy food be yummy

Because I’m not a fan of boring food, I checked out a few Hungry Girl books from the library. They are filled with healthy, low cal meals and that punch of flavor you crave. Some items on the menu for the coming week: Chocolate-Chippy Cheese Danish, Devilish Eggs, Shrimpylicious Egg Rolls, and Buffalo Chicken Taquitos. Is this real life?

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While this method of calorie and macronutrient tracking might not work for everyone, I’m sure it could help some. Sometimes it just takes little adjustments to make BIG changes!

How to find a workout that sparks joy

I am probably one of the very few who didn’t fall head over heels for Transform:20, the new workout by Beachbody Super Trainer Shaun T. I tried a sample workout before launch and just wasn’t feeling it, so I knew I wouldn’t be motivated to complete it.

Many people who say they hate working out just haven’t found the right workout…yet.

Personally, I hate going to the gym. I’ve tried it time and time again, but I just don’t feel comfortable in that scene. Last year, my husband and I started building our own home gym, and I feel like it’s pretty complete now. The great thing is that it doesn’t even have to be expensive! We found a barely used NordicTrack treadmill on Facebook Marketplace for $150, picked up a barbell set from DICK’S Sporting Goods, and scored a nice spin bike from Bath and Beyond (coupon eligible!).

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Said bike! Isn’t it great?

The above, coupled with a dance floor, huge projector, and many other odds and ends, makes our gym my happy place.

What works for me

After years of experimenting with different workouts, I’ve found a few that stand out as favorites. Instead of just sticking with one workout program, I decided to create a schedule incorporating all of my favorites. Two days a week I’ll do pure cardio, in the form of dance or step. (I’ve found that I’m better suited for longer cardio sessions in the evenings, so if I plan it right, I can bust out my workouts after work while my husband goes to the local gym.) Three days will be cardio/resistance in the form of spin and weight lifting. Two days are reserved for light workouts such as yoga, or just an old fashioned rest day.

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Some of my favorite dance workouts!

My current schedule looks like this:

  • Mon/Wed – 60 mins Cardio (Evening)
  • Tues/Fri/Sat – 15-30 min Spin & 30 mins Strength Training (Morning)
  • Thurs/Sun – Rest/Yoga/Meditation

How can you find your perfect workout?

  1. Do more of things you already enjoy. Like hiking? Plan outings with friends or take your fur baby for extra long walks on a local trail. Love dancing at the club? Bring the energy home. YouTube has some fun workouts, but you could also opt for something more regimented, like Beachbody’s Cize or Country Heat (pictured above) – both amazingly fun!
  2. Try something new. A lot of gyms and online classes offer free trials or discounts for first-time members/users. Keep your eyes peeled for deals. I just scored great ones from the Sweat app (3 months for $1) and Peloton Digital (3 months for $19.49 plus tax).
  3. Take note of what your friends are doing. A friend of mine is into spin class. I did some research and found out that local classes are pretty expensive – like $150 a month. It ended up being cheaper to buy a bike and pedal away in the comfort of my own home. One of my friends loves yoga, another does MMA, a few others are runners. Ask to join a workout and see what you think.

Really, it’s just about experimenting. Not everyone will love every workout. If a workout doesn’t spark joy, kick it to the curb and say “thank you, next.”

Count Your Blessings

2018 was filled with many great experiences, memories, and fun times spent with friends and family. My husband and I rode our first hard-core roller coaster, we traveled to California for the first time too, bought new cars, went back and forth to Florida (our second home) to be kids in Universal, we set up and broke down so many campsites, put hours on our jet ski, trekked to Canada twice, got our fill of haunted houses in October, celebrated a year of marriage and then a year of homeownership, went to see the tree in NYC, and have more plans for December.

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This was the best tree I’ve seen – so pretty and full – and it was cut locally!!

On my own, I finished a 21-Day Sugar Detox, a 21-Day weight loss program, a round of 80 Day Obsession, and am currently in round, two week 3 of LIIFT4. I all but eliminated my migraines, started up a crochet shop, perfected a recipe for macarons, found out that baking really is my superpower, and learned which foods aren’t my friend.

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A shop in honor of my granny.

I could keep going because, in all, it was a great and productive year. But I’d be remiss not to mention the not so good. I mean, I don’t live in storybook land (although sometimes I wish I did!).

You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain…

For a while, I was feeling depressed and sad and just overall emotional about half of the time. HALF. OF. THE. TIME. There were moments when I didn’t want to do anything but stay in my pajamas. I didn’t want to go to work, wash my hair, work out, or do any of the things I actually love to do. And when I did, I was just going through the motions – there wasn’t any joy to it. After months of misery and monotony, I decided to talk to my doctor.

Thankfully, it was an easy fix. Long story short, my body couldn’t handle the drastic dip in hormones during my menstrual cycle. My doctor suggested I skip the placebo pills, and within days, my mood – and life – did a 180.

Side Note: I don’t need to get into all the details, but I will say one thing on the matter of birth control pills. It’s a personal choice that I fully believe in because of my own experience with hormone regulation. For some, the problem is The Pill itself – the side effects can be brutal – but for me, it was the lack of one – the side effects of which were also brutal. Moving on.

29 and feeling fine!

Yesterday I turned 29, something I’ve been dreading for a while because it’s so close to 30, which is even closer to 40, and it feels like the prime of my life is over, and what have I even accomplished?

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Birthday present from my husband – a “Rooster” tribute bear. Because binge watching The Ranch is one of my favorite activities.

Now that I’m feeling better, I’m able to coast into my 29th year with a positive outlook and some pretty big goals to tackle including reading 12 quality books, saving more money, traveling to three new places, and completing a round (or two) of Shaun T’s new program, Transform:20.

The power of gratitude.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember all of the good when things feel sucky or unfavorable. This year, I’ve decided to journal a little bit each day so I can focus more on the positives. In the morning I’ll write down five things I’m grateful for and at night I’ll record the best thing that happened during the day. Super simple! I’m sure it will take less than ten minutes, and the compounded results will be invaluable.

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I love the play on words. And this mug. And pretty much everything about this snarky photo.

Daily reflections serve two main purposes:

1) Long Term – At the end of the year, it will be fun to look back at accomplishments and happy moments.

2) Short Term – When skies are gray, it helps to reflect on the good and know that a sunny day is just around the corner.

I encourage you to start a gratitude journal or practice. You’d be surprised by the magic that happens when you start counting your blessings.

Peace, Love, Zen
DS

10K a Day

If you work in an office setting (like I do), you probably know just how hard it is to get in the number of recommended steps each day. I park in the farthest possible spot, always take the stairs, get up at least once an hour to stretch my legs, bypass the closest bathroom, workout almost daily, and most days I barely hit 6,000 steps. #Annoying.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a lot of neck pain, restless legs, and a lot of stiffness. I started looking into it and found out I was dying. Kidding. Never -I repeat, NEVER – plug your symptoms into WebMD. But I was shocked to find studies show that sitting for extended periods of time does the body harm EVEN if you workout daily. And now we have something else to worry about.

This is bad news for those of us who work 8-9 hour days with our butts in a chair. So when my company, who is very supportive of healthy initiatives for employees, decided to host a 6-week fall walking challenge, I quickly formed a team and vowed that we would get in over 10K steps a day.

I honestly didn’t realize how hard that would be.

Walktober

The program had a really cool app that allowed you to log your steps, view your team stats, and check out your team rank (which I may have checked too many times a day). Did you guys know that my top strength in the Gallup Strengthsfinder is Competition? It’s true – I love a good challenge.

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Catchy, huh?

Each day there was an opportunity to get one of three leaves – red (for walking at least 6K steps), orange (for walking at least 8K), and gold (for walking at least 10K). The goal was to get at least 30 leaves in any color over 42 days. My goal was to get 42 gold leaves.

My Experience

Yesterday was the last day of the challenge and the sixth week of LIIFT4. With that program, I’ve been doing a lot of lifting and some HIIT for almost two months now. It’s a great program (more on that soon!), but because it involves a lot of weighted moves with my feet planted on the ground, I only get around 1,000 steps a workout if I’m lucky.

Fortunately, my husband and I had a trip to Universal planned for the first weekend of the challenge! We both got in over 20K steps a day that weekend. Hey, where are my platinum leaves??

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Halloween Horror Night had us walking past 1 am. This guy wouldn’t carry me back to the car – do you believe it?!

There were many, many days when I had to supplement my LIIFT4 workouts with extra cardio like Core de Force (MMA) or Country Heat (dance) just to boost my step count. But that also meant I didn’t get a rest day and ended up burning over 900 calories. Mah legs – I couldn’t feel mah legs.

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Dance burns a TON of calories, and it’s fun!

Some days I took three laps around my work campus at lunch (6K steps), while listening to an audiobook and silently cheering myself on. Some nights I’d be walking on the treadmill at 10 pm hating my life and the “stupid” challenge.

But, you know what? It got me up and walking – the goal. It also got me to make decisions around step count. Oh, walk around the mall? Yes, I can do that. That will get me at least 2,500 steps. Let’s go!

The Results

My team did okay – we landed in 3rd place out of 21 teams. Okay, not too shabby, but I can’t say I didn’t want to see us take home the trophy: a sponsored lunch for the entire team. Who doesn’t want to be rewarded with food for successfully completing a fitness challenge?

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It’s okay – I’ll just continue to eat my own tasty lunch that I prepared myself. I’m not bitter, thank you very much!

I tied for first place with a handful of others in the individual competition, getting 42 gold leaves. I ended each night over 10K, even if just by a few steps. There’s only one prize to go around, so I’m not sure how’ll they’ll split it.

My legs feel more toned, albeit shaky. I feel empowered to keep stepping, even though I sometimes walk like a 99 year old granny. But, you guys, I haven’t taken a full rest day in SIX freakin weeks, so I plan to take full advantage of my three LIIFT4 rest days this week.

Bottom Line: Yes, it’s a challenge to get in 10K steps a day if your job involves a desk, a chair, and a timeclock. But, it’s very possible. I encourage all of you to be more active and go for the gold! And maybe just spread the steps out more throughout the day. Trying to get 6,000 or more steps after work was not my idea of a good time.

 

A Pop of Flavor

DISCLOSURE: This post was sponsored by Just Spices. Links are not affiliate and I will not receive a commission for any items purchased from justspices.com. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

When I started to switch up my diet, I looked high and low for affordable spice blends to add variety to staples like chicken, veggies, and eggs. I’m seriously fine eating hard boiled eggs with avocado and cherry tomatoes for breakfast every day of my life, but I figured my husband would like a little variety with his meals– especially when it came to dinner.

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I mean, look at all the colors!

Did you know that spices can be ridiculously expensive? Because I sure didn’t. Why in the world would someone pay $16.99 for a bottle of salt, pepper, and garlic? I’m not even kidding – it’s really a thing.

Spice Up Your Life

Fortunately, I happened to stumble upon a company called Just Spices (thank you, Instagram!) and magically, all of my bland food problems were solved. Just Spices makes over forty spice blends sourced from many different places around the world. The company is based in Germany and their mission is “to spice up your life.” I think we can all jump on board with that one.

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Isn’t the packaging awesome!?

The spices are so reasonably priced, you can easily re-stock your entire spice rack (like I did!) with unique blends such as Sweet Love (with orange peel and cinnamon) and Exotic Rice Seasoning (with lemon peel, ginger, and orange blossoms). They’re even more affordable than making your own blends. Trust me, I’ve tried that too. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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Two of my favorite blends are Chocolate Salt Popcorn Seasoning and Oatmeal Spice Blend – both perfect for adding that extra something to your breakfast. I love the sweet-salty combination the former provides.

It’s National Oatmeal Day

On a brisk fall morning, such as today, nothing satisfies the soul more than a hearty bowl of oatmeal. My go-to recipe used to be a double serving of steel-cut oats with frozen raspberries, dark chocolate morsels, a splash of heavy cream, and sprinkle of sea salt. Say that 5 times fast! While tasty, it was definitely one of the largest carb bombs I’ve eaten, well…ever.

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These days I’m living on the lighter side, and oatmeal doesn’t quite fit into paleo/keto-like diets. A whopping 27g of carbs in a serving of plain steel-cut oats? No thanks! Fortunately, there are a lot of good alternatives for the stick-to-your-ribs breakfast.

N’oatmeal uses nuts, (sometimes) flax, chia, and a few other ingredients to create an oatmeal-like hot cereal that’s so delicious you’ll think you’re indulging. There are plenty of recipes on Pinterest and in just about every Paleo cookbook you can find, but I’ve settled on one that I love.

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This is sooooo good on a cold day!

My Paleo Chocolate N’oatmeal is hearty and filling and features Just Spices Chocolate Salt Popcorn Seasoning (not just for popcorn, I swear). It’s great for breakfast (or a snack) and takes just minutes to make. If you love that sweet-salty-savory combination, this recipe is for you.

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Visit justspices.com to learn more and make a purchase. You can even get a free sample box with a minimum order of $14 so you can try a variety of spices.

Cheers to flavorful food!

Get ready to prove yourself!

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you purchase from Beachbody via my links. Please do not feel obligated to do so!

SHIFT SHOP is my jam. Every time I complete the program I feel great – stronger, lighter, and more energized. In fact, I just completed another round yesterday and I can’t stop checking out my muscles! For the first time, my before pics for LIIFT4 are gonna be the after photos I’ve only imagined.

Chris Downing

Of course I was super excited to learn that Chris Downing (the program creator) is launching FOUR new workouts to help take your results to another level. It’s not a completely new program, but rather an addition to the original.

There’s a Prep Week with 15-minute Quick Shift workouts that give you an idea of what to expect in the coming weeks. Then, two Proving Grounds workouts that will score your starting and ending performance. Each week, you’ll challenge yourself to be better than last. It always feels impossible at first, but you’ll be amazed how strong you’ll feel after just three weeks.

What, exactly, is SHIFT SHOP?

A 21-day program with six working days and either a stretch or rest day on Sunday. Since it’s such a short program, you work hard from beginning to end. If you get the Deluxe package, you get a few additional workouts to help you burn more calories and get fit faster. Most challengers will save these for round two. I just did four straight weeks of SHIFT SHOP, ending with the 50 minute Super Shift workouts.

The Trainer

In Action

Chris Downing – a Beachbody Super Trainer who has trained both amateur and pro athletes, including individuals at all different fitness levels. He pushes you to do your best and give it your all. An amazing motivational coach – he will have you laughing your behind off (literally).

To learn more about the original program, check out my previous post.

Bottom Line: I can’t wait to test my strength. Workouts officially launch on October 22 – and I’m sure they will be just as good, if not better, than the original SHIFT SHOP workouts. Challenge packs and accessories go on sale today! Visit teambeachbody.com for more info.

Prove Yourself

I know you know, but I have to say it anyway…always consult your doctor before beginning an intense exercise, fitness, and/or diet program.

Visit teambeachbody.com for more information on programs or sign up for Beachbody On Demand to try SHIFT SHOP!