Peanut Butter Banana “Nice” Cream

The weather is FINALLY getting warmer and the kids have already started asking where the popsicles and ice cream treats are. When I signed up for the 6-week challenge I wasn’t paying much attention to the season in which it would run (honestly I was just happy I wouldn’t have to scrape off my car every morning on the way to the gym). Here I am 3 weeks in and I wasn’t prepared for “ice cream season”. So I did a little digging around on Pinterest (Seriously LOVE this site!) and came across a few recipes that didn’t sound bad but included ingredients that I couldn’t have….. so I improvised!

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This ice cream alternative was not only tasty but super easy to make. My daughter and I made in less than 10 minutes and the best part….. you only need 2 ingredients!!!

2 large frozen bananas (its easier to blend if they are cut up but I did just fine with frozen half bananas)

2 tbsp of natural peanut butter

Place frozen bananas in the blender or food processor and blend until you reach a thick soft serve consistency. You will likely have to pause every so often to scrape the sides of the blender. Once the bananas are blended add the peanut butter and blend to mix in. That’s it! Simple right?

Section the “nice” cream out into dished and enjoy or if you prefer a harder ice cream texture you can pop it in the freezer for few hours to firm it up. If you’re a chocolate fan you can add 1-2 tbsp of pure cocoa powder along with the peanut butter. You can also throw some mini chocolate chips in at the very end (I use Camino chocolate chips in my baking etc. because they are dairy and sugar free)

***disclaimer – In the picture my “nice” cream is topped with a chocolate peanut butter muscle cup which was purchased through Josh and is completely challenged approved!

 

 

2 Week Weigh-in!!!!

***This post was scheduled for 2 days ago but failed :(. It’s a bit late and slightly out of order now but still worth sharing so here it is :)………..

 

I wasn’t planning on posting until tomorrow night because this weekend has been beyond crazy but I have so much to say and couldn’t wait to share it 🙂

I know you’re probably wondering how the weigh-in yesterday went (unless you have me on FB, in which case you probably already know lol) so let me end the suspense………..

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I was so shocked that it took an entire day for that to set in. Here’s a fairly accurate account of what went down during the weigh-in:

Accountability Coach Corey (who is a phenomenal support and super patient with all my questions) – “Okay, step on the scale”

*I step on the scale and he writes the number down in the book he’s holding*

*I look down at the scale and become slightly annoyed that by the time I get to look I’m seeing what appears to be the weather forecast as opposed to my weight (I’m not kidding – this is one seriously hi-tech scale)*

Coach Corey – “Are you ready for this?”

Me – “As ready as I’m ever going to be”

*He flips the notebook around to show me my current weight*

Instantly my breath is gone and my brain is slowly trying to make sense of the numbers I’m seeing in front of me because they couldn’t possibly be right. Keep in mind that while all this is happening there are at least a dozen other challengers in the room awaiting their turn on the fancy-weather-telling scale. I cover my face with hands and say “I want to cry right now”

Coach Corey – “Those would be the best freakin tears” and gives me a high five.

Well, Josh must have thought that the news wasn’t very positive because as he prepared to take my progress picture he was trying to give me encouragement by telling me that everything would be fine and we still have a lot of time to work on things and not to worry. I stared a little blankly and said:

“I think I lost 13lbs”

Josh – “13lbs?!?!?!?, Corey is that right? check the math. Did she lose 13lbs?”

*Corey checks the math and shakes his head “Yep, 13lbs”

That comment was met with congratulations from not only Josh but my fellow challengers. I’m standing there with tears welling in my eyes and the outpouring of encouragement and support and congratulations was amazing. I went into that weigh-in praying that I would at least see a 5lb drop, I never expected to even come close to 13lbs!

I may have messaged both Corey and Josh to ask them to double check the pictures and make sure that the numbers were right lol ( I was honestly in a state of disbelief)

I couldn’t be more proud and excited as I am with my decision to join GoFitness Niagara (GFN). I was on the fence about getting involved with any sort of gym but GFN has exceeded my expectations. Yes, it’s hard and there were many times over the past 2 weeks that I thought I wouldn’t make it. The first week was overwhelming trying to understand the nutrition and get the hang of meal prep. The second week for me was when the doubt started to creep in, however, my massive support system (too many to name here) kicked in when I need them to. They encouraged me and pushed to keep going when I was tired, sore, or grumpy lol.

I worked very hard the last 2 weeks to get to where I am but I’m also very aware that I didn’t get here all on my own, so a huge THANK YOU to everyone in my back corner! I appreciate all your love and support.

So as I close this post I want to leave you with this quote I came across:

“Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take toward reaching that goal.” – Annonymous

Playhouse Event Success!

This past weekend has been full of accomplishments and proud moments for me. Saturday kicked it off with a stellar weigh-in (which you can read all about below) where I celebrated a 13-pound weight drop in just 2 weeks!! The point of this blog entry, however, is to share with you why Sunday was such as success as well.

I have been a long time volunteer with the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre Niagara, which is a local non-profit organization that helps children and families cope with the life altering impacts of child abuse. (You can learn more about the Kristen French CACN by clicking on the link)

This weekend was the 4th Annual Playhouse Build and Auction event in support of the Centre and I was pretty nervous about how I was going to handle event day while staying committed to my 6-week challenge nutrition plan. The event was held outdoors in the parking lot of a major shopping center and was an all-day event. I left the house at 7:15am to drop my oldest off to his Air Cadet exercise, then I headed across town to drop my youngest off with her father for the day and I arrived on site for the event at 8:30am. Unloading and set-up began immediately and the momentum continued well into the event. I was definitely getting my steps in and making up for the fact that I didn’t have a workout that day.

We had food trucks on site offering everything from pizza to Thai cuisine to ice cream and of course, it wouldn’t be complete without the traditional Barbecue. It all looked and smelled so good but I held out and was successful in staying true to my nutrition plan!!!!!!   The key to my success was being prepared. I was crazy busy in the days before the event and it would have been so much easier to just cave and use the excuse that I didn’t have time. I almost did just that, but then I thought about the 13lbs that I had already shed from my body and that gave me the push I needed to make the time to grab a few things so I could stay on track throughout the day. I ran out to the grocery store and grabbed a container of mixed berries, mixed veggies (without the dip, I used hummus from home instead) and some apples. I packed myself a cooler bag and placed all my healthy goodies inside (along with LOTS of extra water) and took it with me for the day. To make the temptations easier I had planned in advance to treat myself to lunch so I wouldn’t feel so deprived. So when I was ready for lunch instead of heading towards the food trucks I walked into the mall (the extra steps were a nice little bonus as well). I treated to myself to a delicious chopped salad from Subway. I loaded it up with veggies, skipped the cheese and opted for the oil and vinaigrette dressing. I then walked back out to the event and topped off my salad with some protein-packed shredded chicken I had brought from home for the win!!!!

I know this is going to sound like a line and I PROMISE you it’s not……… That salad was WAY more satisfying than any burger, fries or ice cream could have been. Que the eye rolling and skepticism (I know because I used to do that lol) but I honestly enjoyed that salad more than I thought I would. Maybe it’s because my tastes are changing, maybe it was the psychological trick of thinking of it as treating myself, or maybe it was just a REALLY good salad. Regardless of why, the simple fact is that I not only stayed on track, I actually enjoyed my food and didn’t feel deprived and that’s worth celebrating!

Pre Weigh-In #2

Tomorrow is weigh-in #2 and symbolizes that I have completed 1/3 of this challenge. Yay me!!. I’m super nervous to see what the scale has to say this time around. I have been seeing a lot of amazing posts from my fellow challengers celebrating that they have already lost 5, 7 some even 10lbs already. I don’t happen to have a working scale at home so I haven’t been able to weigh myself through this last 2 weeks (which might actually be a good thing), which means I am walking into tomorrow’s weigh-in with no clue where I might be in term of reaching my goal. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time.

This weekend is going to be jammed packed and I probably will not have an opportunity to post anything until Monday so you’ll have to wait until then to find out my results :). What I thought I would do instead is make a quick post about some of the changes I have noticed in the last 2 weeks alone. Keep in mind that I am eating wheat free, dairy free, sugar-free, and soy free so some of the changes I’ve seen may have less to do with fitness training and more to do with my body adjusting to my new way of eating. Here is what I have noticed:

  1. I have WAY more energy than I did before. Yes, I still get tired (especially on those days where I’m at the gym for 5:45 in the morning) and yes I still have times when I don’t feel like doing anything at all but overall my willingness to get up and do things and move around is much better. I can’t even remember the last time I watched any of the shows that I was binge-watching on Netflix (honestly, I used to get 2 or 3 episodes in during a day). Household chores aren’t as much of a chore anymore lol. I have a pep in my step and I feel an all day buzz on the days I workout.
  2. I sleep MUCH better! This was a huge one for me because I routinely wake up 3-4 times per night because of headaches, back pain, and sometimes just for no reason at all. Since I started the challenge with GoFitnessNiagara I rarely wake up through the night, which of course means I wake up more rested and better prepared to start the day!
  3. My morning back pain is GONE! I have lived with back pain for over a decade due to an old injury and my weight. As my weight began to increase so did my back problems. In the week prior to starting the challenge, I couldn’t fully stand up in the morning when I got out of bed in the morning or when I got up from a seated position. I would have to walk hunchback for a few steps and then I could get a little straighter, walk a few more steps, get a little straighter and so on. I was actually quite concerned that I wouldn’t be able to complete the classes in the first week because my back was so bad. The first week I had some minor discomfort in my lower back but nothing like what I experienced on a regular basis. This week I haven’t woke up with pain at all (ab pain yes! lol but no back pain!).
  4. My gastrointestinal symptoms are BETTER!. I can go out shopping without fear that I would have to abandon the cart if a wave of attacks hit. I don’t have to be afraid to eat outside of my home for fear that I will aggravate my digestive system and it will kick me with a vengeance while I am out in public. I have less bloating and discomfort as well which means my clothes fit better and a bit looser 🙂
  5. My focus and attention are IMPROVING!. The first week I was trying to stay awake in my afternoon class because my body was not used to the early mornings but I find now that I can concentrate better and I’m starting to retain more (which is much needed for me)
  6. My body is STRONGER! I can’t do everything I want to yet but I’m holding positions longer, doing more reps, and lasting longer on continuous activities.

These may not HUGE things on their own but put them all together and consider that it’s ONLY been 2 weeks (that’s only 14 day’s!!!!) I’d say that’s pretty GREAT! Regardless of what the scale says tomorrow I know that I am getting healthier and stronger and at the end of the day that’s what really matters.

Always celebrate your small achievements because they often become your big achievements before you even realize it. Your health and wellbeing are what truly matters – not a number on a scale. The most important relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself, so be kind to you!!!

T.G.I.F everyone! Have a safe and happy weekend!

 

 

Sweet Heat Turkey Meatballs

All I can say about these is WOW!

All that research paid off this weekend. I came across a recipe for turkey meatballs that I wanted to try but some of the ingredients weren’t ‘challenge’ friendly so I tweaked the recipe to my needs and hoped for the best lol.

Turns out they were fantastic, just enough blend of sweet and heat for me (I am a bit of wimp lol) but are easily adjusted by simply adding more hot sauce to the recipe OR to the meatballs after they have been sauced.

The following recipe is dairy free, gluten free, and soy free! (It’s also free of artificial sugars)

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 2 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup of almond flour*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (I use Frank’s)
  • 3 Tbsp. of coconut aminos (also labeled as coconut nectar all-purpose seasoning)**
  • 3 Tbsp of organic honey (regular honey will do as well)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 tsp. of toasted sesame oil

*Instead of buying almond flour, I just threw some whole almonds into the blender and blended until it reached a powdery consistency but make sure you check frequently as the mixture can turn milky if you blend too much.

**You can usually find coconut aminos or all-purpose seasoning in the health food section of your local grocery store. The Bulk Barn carries it as well and it’s located near the nut butter bins.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, almond flour (or crushed almonds), eggs, garlic powder, and salt & pepper. Mix with hands until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1¹⁄ ²-inch balls and place spaced apart about an inch or so on prepared baking sheets lightly greased or sprayed with coconut oil. (If you’re like me and you use a baking stone such as Pampered Chef’s bar pan, then skip the spray as it’s not needed). The recipe should yield about 40 meatballs
  3. Bake meatballs for 25-35 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.
  4. While the meatballs are baking, combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat, whisking continuously. Reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes (the sauce will start to thicken) then toss with the meatballs.
  5. Serve over brown long grain rice and enjoy!

Estimated Nutritional Value:

1 serving=5 meatballs. Calories=293. Fat=8.6g. Saturated Fat=1.3g. Carbs=31.2g. Fiber=3.9g. Sugars=11.1g. Protien=25.7g

Disclaimer** the plain meatballs in the picture are due to my daughter requesting her’s sauce free, NOT because there wasn’t enough sauce

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Workouts 2 & 3!

I survived the first week! If I’m being totally honest I didn’t think I would make it through the 2nd workout. We did a circuit of stations that targeted key areas like core, legs etc. and I was dying by the end but I pushed through the muscle soreness, mental mind block, and fatigue. I felt more accomplished after leaving my second workout than I did the first. Friday morning came along and it was time to head to the gym for my 5:45am 3rd and final workout of the week. It took everything I had in me to make it through. My muscles were still a little fatigued from all the work they had been doing that week, my body was still adjusting to waking up that early and moving and I may have skimped on breakfast by eating only a banana. This is a very bad thing to do when you are doing intense workouts because it leaves you feeling sluggish and nauseous. Regardless of my poor pre-workout fuel decision, I gave it everything I had and then just a little bit more ;). The funny thing is that as glad as I am to have a break over the weekend, I actually can’t wait to get back to the gym first thing Monday morning to start of week 2 with a bang!

Now that I’ve got the good stuff out of the way, let’s talk FOOD. I went into this challenge thinking I would have a leg up on the nutrition piece thanks to some previous dabbling with 21 Day Fix from Beachbody ……… yeah, NO! I had no idea the depth of clean eating, I also had no idea just how much garbage is in the foods we eat every day. There were simple products that I thought would have been considered healthy (some even labeled as so) but when I stopped to read the ingredients they were full of the “ose’s”. This has become my pet name for sugars since most of them end in ‘ose’ such as sucralose, glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltose and the list goes on (at least 61 of them – go ahead, look it up). Now I am the first to admit that I love all the wrong foods (Poutine? yes please!) and don’t care much for the right ones (Sweet potato? I don’t think so) so this is the most challenging part of the challenge for me. I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of information and the preparation that was required when eating healthy – I mean seriously who has 40 minutes to cook steel cut oats in the morning???. It became clear to me this week that if I wanted to be successful AND enjoy eating that I would have to do some serious internet research. So this weekend that’s exactly what I did; I looked for recipes that I thought I might like and then searched for ways to make it fit my dietary needs. I made my shopping list and off I went to collect my items. This has meant that I have to shop at multiple locations to get what I need due to the fact that I am the only one in my household that is doing the challenge. Then comes the prep work and I had no idea how extensive this would be. I’m beginning to get the hang of it now and I understand the importance of being prepared. Last week I was caught in a situation that could have ended up a lot worse food wise. My day was jammed packed from the moment I woke up until 8pm. I had started the day off ok with eggs and peppers for breakfast and lunch was a kale & mixed greens salad with baked chicken on top. However, when dinner came around I was out and starving and no access to the food I had prepped for the week. I did manage to turn down the taunting pasta and meatballs that was offered at my first event of the night and at the second event I stuck to only the fruit and veggie tray and resisted (with great difficulty I might add) the brownies, pastries, and donuts. I was starving as I left the second event with my son and he wanted Wendy’s (So did the people at home) so that’s where we went. Now it could have been a lot worse because I was so close to caving and getting a burger (I really like Wendy’s burgers) but I thought about my end goal and tried to figure out what I could get that would be within my scope of eating these days. I couldn’t do another salad as I was having them so frequently through the week so I opted for a small chili and plain baked potato. I ended up pouring the chili over the potato and that was my meal. Was it the best decision I could have made?…..probably not BUT it was better than caving all together and a good step in the right direction. I’m chalking it up to a win! 🙂

So now it’s time for me to get busy with some meal prepping for this week so I’m not caught unprepared again.

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Workout #1 (Core body)

Wow! so it took me a minute to get organized with all these new things I have to start doing such as meal planning, prep, etc. My first grocery shopping was much longer than my usual grocery shopping but I’ll talk more on that in another post. Now that I have some time to collect my thoughts I can bring you up to speed.

My first scheduled workout was Monday morning at 5:45am (which is much earlier than I usually get up) so my first hurdle was to drag myself out of bed and get ready. Once I did that my next task was to ensure that I had everything I was told to bring with me (indoor shoes, yoga mat, towel etc.). Once I was sure that I resembled someone that might belong in a gym, I hopped in the car and headed off down the highway. That ride was certainly a rollercoaster of nerves! I was excited and terrified at the same time. I was scared that my body would fail me and determined to push myself like I have never had before. I was nauseous due to my nerves (and my empty stomach as I found out later) and my heart felt like it was beating double time as I pulled into the parking lot. It was easier than I thought it would be to get out of the car and head up the stairs but once I entered the gym all that resolve melted away and I was left with shear nerves. Apparently, this was quite evident as Josh (trainer) took one look at me and asked: “Are you nervous?”.  I knew I couldn’t hide it so I simply shook my head yes and he proceeded to tell me that I would be ok and just to work at my own pace.

Warm up’s started and within 3 minutes (I’m not joking here) of jogging on the spot and jumping jacks I was done! I was now even more terrified that I would never make it through this workout that was 60 min long and dedicated to finding my long lost (or possibly nonexistent) abs. I reminded myself that my health and new wardrobe were on the line here and I had to push push push.

The beginning of the core exercises were going fairly well considering, however around the halfway mark I started having a problem catching my breath. Josh came over to me to ask if everything was ok and this is what our conversation looked like:

Josh: “Do you have asthma?”

Me: “No”

Josh: “Do you smoke?”

Me: “No, I quit almost 3 years ago”

Josh: “When was the last time you worked out?”

Me: *laughter* “Like this? Never!”

Josh: “Well that’s the problem, your lungs haven’t been strengthened to support a workout”

Turns out your lungs play a pretty important role in exercising and if they aren’t strong enough to continue to feed oxygen to your muscles then you can run into fatigue and shortness of breath. Once I rested for a minute and caught my breath, I continued on and by now we were on planks (and lots of them). The planks must have been the breaking point because suddenly everything that was in my stomach (which was really only water at that point) threatened to come up. Now I have heard of people who have worked out so hard that they have made themselves sick but I had never even come close to it myself. (Josh told me later that it was likely due to the fact that I didn’t eat breakfast and my stomach was empty) So here I was shaky, weak, out of breath, and about to be sick and we still had 15 minutes to go before cool down and stretching. I honestly thought about throwing in the towel right then and there but I didn’t want to be the only person in the class that couldn’t make it through. I excused myself to the bathroom, quickly splashed some cold water on my face, took a few deep breaths and then headed back to my mat to finish what I started. I was barely able to complete the class but I toughed it out and finished.

At the end of the workout, I got into my car and as I started to drive home tears came streaming down my face. I was so overcome with emotion (both good and bad) that I couldn’t control the sobbing. I was disappointed that I didn’t do as well as I had wanted to. I was embarrassed that I got out of breath. I was happy that it was over and I survived. I was even happier that I didn’t have to go the very next day lol. As I was driving down the highway I yelled out “I thought exercise was supposed to release endorphins and endorphins were supposed to make you happy?!?!?! Why the hell am I crying???”. By the time I got home, I was composed and I had a moment to really stop and think. The conclusion that I came to was this: no I couldn’t do all the exercises and no I didn’t do as well as I wanted BUT I damn sure did more than I did the day before! I pushed myself to the point that my body said “no more” and that was something that I had never done before. So I considered my first workout a win and continued on with the rest of my day knowing that I was so much stronger than I had previously thought and that I could do this!!

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