Let’s Taco ’bout Fitness…

Featured

Fitness whole taco in my mouth!

But seriously, I’m a Texan. Tex-Mex is not just a cuisine. It’s a way of life.

Let me tell you a story. Picture it: Wisconsin, 2012. I was at my all-time heaviest weight. I had lived my entire life in Texas, but somehow ended up in southern Wisconsin. My kids and I spent several weeks exploring the area, trying to find things that would interest us, and hoping to find little pieces of home in this strange new land. And then I came to the startling conclusion that we were going to have to live without Tex-Mex. We would have to adapt. There was no Tex-Mex to be found. If you searched hard enough, there were some Southwest type Mexican restaurants, but no Taco Cabana, no Ninfa’s, no queso-covered chimichangas, no delicious scratch-made tortillas within a 200-mile radius. Things were looking bleak for my taco cravings.

A funny thing happened when I found myself utterly devoid of all of that deliciousness. I lost 20 pounds over the course of 9 months. I’m not kidding! Just the simple act of cutting out tortillas, chips, queso, tacos, burritos, and the occasional sopapilla led to weight loss. I did nothing else differently. Wonders never cease. It’s almost like all the food I had grown up with and loved was no good for me at all.

Fast forward to 2018. I got this hair-brained idea that I didn’t have to be over 200 lbs forever. I exercised, of course. But I’ve never had much success with restrictive diets. It’s boring. I end up with meals looking like this:

chicken

I can’t eat like that every day, and I refuse to do so.

So I made up my own plan. I decided on a daily calorie deficit goal and started counting. It’s amazing how much you learn about the foods you eat once you start tracking everything and reading labels. I found ways to shave off calories here and there and tweaked as I went along. You know what went first? Sodas and sweets. Then bread. Next, full fat cheese. Before long I was trying hard just to get to my calorie goal, and I never felt starved.

*Note: I am not a nutritional expert or personal trainer. This is based on my own experiences.*

It was during this time that I came up with this taco alternative. Here’s what I did:

  1. Brown 1 lb of super lean ground beef. I like the 96/4 stuff, but the ground sirloin had a great flavor, too.
  2. Season the taco meat. You can use your own mix of salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder, or whatever spices you like. I just used a Taco Bell taco seasoning packet.
  3. Add 1 can of Ro-tel tomatoes and about 1/4 cup of water. I like the original, but my BF loves the hot one. Make it to your taste.
  4. Add 1/2-1 can of rinsed black beans. If you want lower carbs, leave these out.
  5. Simmer on low until the fixings are ready.
  6. Slice an avocado, dice a tomato, and rinse your lettuce scoops, if necessary. Also have handy whatever shredded cheese you like. We used fat-free cheese while cutting calories, as it is only 45 calories per 1/4 cup. You may also want salsa or guacamole. This is entirely up to you.
  7. Assemble. If using guac, spread this on the lettuce scoop leaf. Layer the taco meat, tomatoes, cheese, and sliced avocado (if you didn’t use guac or just love avocados)
  8. You’re done. Eat.

Tacos2

We have found that you don’t really need side dishes with this meal, but of course, do whatever feels right for you. When we started out, we would make Spanish rice and I’d have a little spoonful on the side just for the taste of it. Eventually I didn’t need it.

Give it a try. You might find that taking this one step will help you find other ways to add good, healthy meals into your life. If you have a go-to healthy meal, let me know!

Tina

Advertisements

New gym, who dis?

Featured

You know how you get into certain habits and routines? Maybe every month you go to the same barber for your haircut. Or you get your nails done by the same technician every time. But then something happens. You realize the job isn’t getting done as well as it used to. Or maybe you find out you’ve been getting overcharged. Or maybe it’s just not working out for you anymore. So then you go try someone knew and you get this weird, queasy feeling, like you’re doing something wrong.

That’s kind of how I felt today. I joined a new gym, even while my old gym membership is still active. The equipment is brand new and the membership fee is much more reasonable for what I need. The old gym was great at the time I started there. It was just what I needed. Until it wasn’t. But that’s ok! This needs to be about me. My gym should fit me and my needs, not the other way around. Here is just a sample of what I look for:

1. Energy. I need all the help I can get, staying motivated. I love my playlist, but if my battery dies or I forget my headphones, I need to know I won’t be bored to death without them.

2. Lots of cardio equipment. My schedule doesn’t allow for me to hit the gym at off-peak times. I need to be able to roll in at 5:15 or so and grab a treadmill with no trouble. You can keep your elliptical though.

3. Free weight stations. I don’t know everything, but I have a solid understanding of basic weight lifting and I want to be able to use this knowledge. I need bench press, squat racks, and, sure, some dumbbells, among other things.

4. Group fitness classes. I don’t take many classes but I like knowing I can if I want to. Dance classes are fun! And I’ve always wanted to try yoga.

5. Bright lights and clean facilities. These speak for themselves.

6. I love knowing that all body types and fitness levels feel comfortable working out at the gym.

Bonus points for fun extras like hot tubs or massage chairs.

This is just a sample of what I’m looking for. Maybe you prefer working out with serious body builders only, or maybe you only need a treadmill and a few machine weight stations and hate crowds. Finding what works best for you will go a long way in keeping you coming back for more. At least it does for me.

Tune in next time for my “sore from head to toe post” coming soon!

Tina

Dream big, start small

Featured

Someday, I want to be a world-famous writer. Today, I blog. I don’t have a following (yet…), but I am sure my thoughts and experiences are exactly what someone out there needs to read. So I write. Anything. Every day. Baby steps. I used to be much better about it and would write thousands of words at a time, but then I’d get burned out and let it go.

It’s like this with many things.

Someday, I want to be a slender, toned size 6. I want to be able to walk onto a beach in a bikini and not feel the urge to cover my belly. I want to run a 10k or more. Today, I walk. Today, I think carefully about every bite that goes into my body and fight like hell against the cravings for sweets. Today, remember my goals and remember why I decided to make a change in the first place. Baby steps.

Last year around this time, I joined a mega-gym, because the Y just didn’t have what I needed. Not enough free weight stations, the hours of operation were all wrong for me, and it just didn’t feel like a good fit for me. I had been learning to strength train for a few months and was ready to take it seriously. I hit it hard. I went to the gym almost every day, even on weekends. I lost another 30 pounds. I looked and felt better than I had in a long time, if ever. Then my days got busier and the best I could manage was every other day on the treadmill, and it seemed like such a waste to drive all that way just to walk/jog for 30 minutes. I talked myself out of it many days.

Two days ago, I began the process of ending my gym membership. No, I have not given up. I am regrouping and strategizing. Part of me is worried that I’m kidding myself, that I’ll end up right back where I started 50 pounds ago. But I know I am stronger than that. My health and well-being are worth more than a few cookies.

February is American Heart Month. The American Heart Association provides a page called “Healthy for Good” to promote healthy living through small, simple choices: “Eat smart. Move more. Be well.” That’s it? That’s really all it takes to have a healthy life?

Maybe not. Or maybe. Maybe building a solid foundation of healthy baby steps is the part I forgot the last time I tried this. Maybe I need to form the habitual behaviors before I can see real, lasting success. I’m willing to try.

Tina

Fit by 40: The long road ahead

Featured

Just 4 short days ago, I celebrated my 39th birthday. I have just entered the last year of my 30s and all I can think about is what 40 will be like. I remember when I was young and 40 seemed just about as old as anyone could get. And here I am, staring it in the face, wondering how I can make my 40s the very best decade of my life.

I’ve come up with lots of ideas. I’ll travel more. I’ll redecorate. I’m even going to start landscaping! But one thought keeps nagging me. I need to get fit.

I’ve had some unbelievable progress over the past year. I lost upwards of 50 pounds through consistent exercise and a healthy, low calorie diet. I can’t tell you how exciting that journey has been, but if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I got complacent and stalled out.

Ready for my excuses? I started working a second job, so 2 nights a week I work a full shift in between my full-time job and trying to sleep. So for roughly 3 days, all I do is work, eat, and sleep. Because of that, I feel like I don’t spend enough time with my family when I do have time off. So I compensate by spending all of my free time at home. And on top of that, while I’m working said second job, I can’t seem to work out dietary plans that keep me moving and alert for such long stretches, so I fall back on carbs and junk.

Ok, enough of that. I know I can do better. So that’s why I’m here. It’s time to do better by 40. Why 40? I don’t know. It’s a nice round number and it’s cliché but there must be a reason, right? Well, think about it. For women, hormones begin to fluctuate, making weight gain more common. Plus, as we age, we become more susceptible to injury from exercise…or sitting too long…or standing too long…or sleeping too long, or at the wrong angle…or bending over. Don’t you just love getting older?

In light of all this, I am choosing to chronicle my next 12 months of dieting and exercising. In the coming articles, you’ll read about the struggles, yes, but the wins, too. And maybe you’ll find your way there with me! Until next time, beautiful people.

Tina

Gratitude Adjustment

If you search the internet long enough to get help with goal setting, you are bound to come across the phrase “Attitude for Gratitude,” and for good reason. It is so easy, especially today in the age of instant gratification, to forget about what we have and focus too heavily on what we are missing. I don’t have the body I want. I don’t have the career I want. I don’t have enough money to do the things I want–or in many cases, just to get by. I don’t have the man/woman/relationship I want. Then, if you’re anything like me, you start to question why you don’t have these things: I’m too fat/lazy/flaky/unmotivated/stupid/poor/irresponsible/etc. to get these things. Or, you might even take the other route and blame everyone but yourself. My boss is a jerk and keeps me from really making it. Jobs don’t pay enough. I do too much for others, so I don’t have time for me. My husband/wife/gf/bf/partner doesn’t do X and that’s why we’re unhappy. Gyms are expensive. Healthy food is expensive. Healthy food tastes like crushed dreams. I’ve done my fair share of blaming as well. I’m willing to bet we all have. And, you know, every time I get done with one of these rant sessions I feel SO much better, like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can conquer the world!

Just kidding. These thoughts always–repeat: ALWAYS–make me feel worse about myself, my situation, my likelihood of achieving my goals. It’s exhausting and depressing. Then it’s super easy to give up on my goals, and the cycle repeats. So why do we do this to ourselves? Where is this negativity coming from? Maybe it’s some sort of self-preservation technique that keeps us on the path of least resistance. Or maybe it’s just a self-fulfilling prophecy. I wish I had the answer because then I would write it down, sell it for $10 a pop and retire in Hawaii.

I don’t have the answers. There, I said it. I don’t know much of anything beyond my own set of experiences. All I know is that what we are currently doing obviously isn’t working. I also know that when I come from a place of gratitude, my entire outlook begins to shift. And I’m not the only one. There are countless books, articles, speeches, and quotes from people throughout history who agree. Oprah swears by it.

Yesterday I found a planner I had purchased to help me keep track of important things. I decided to turn it into some sort of gratitude journal. Each day, in the 2 in x 2 in space available, I write down something I am grateful for. Yesterday after writing an expression of my gratitude for the love of my life, I felt an overwhelming need to convey that thought to him. I always tell him I love him, but I rarely tell him how much and I don’t think I have ever thanked him for being so wonderful. Today I wrote about friends who believe in me and parents who, despite their faults, loved me and passed on some of the best parts of themselves to me. I knew last night what I would write today. I called my dad just to let him know I was thinking about him. Today I will call him and tell him how much I appreciate him. I don’t know if I am making drastic changes to my life, but I can tell you I feel different. I feel calm. I feel acceptance for the things I cannot change. I feel grateful for past mistakes and tragedies because out of those things, I have become the me that I am today and will continue to grow into the best me. I feel happy. I want to hug everyone I see, but I won’t because I don’t want a criminal record. I have seen glimpses of hell in my life, and I’ve felt despair, but I am alive, I am loved, and I am ready for whatever comes next.

xoxoXoxO,

Tina

New Beginnings

Today is just a few days past the six-month mark of my journey to a better me. Last December, as the dawn of the new year glowed in the horizon, I decided I needed to make a change. I was going on about 12 years of being overweight, and while I was not at my heaviest (230 lbs, a few years prior), I was unhealthy and out of any discernible shape.

I voiced my concerns to the love of my life and he expressed his own unhappiness with his current health and fitness. See, I have always been on the larger side. I’m a tall woman with a large frame that hides some of the excess weight. He had always been slim and in shape. He had been through periods of weightlifting and he tended to build muscle easily, but his metabolism slowed drastically when he hit 30, and he noticed the effects on his waistline. We talked and I told him that I always get discouraged at the gym because I have no idea what I’m doing, and there’s nothing I hate more than feeling like an idiot. He made a deal with me. If I joined a gym, he would join and teach me the ropes, but I had to stick with it.

Fast forward another week or so. I told him I’d gotten us a gym membership. I don’t think he expected it to A) happen at all, and B) happen so quickly. What can I say? When I set my mind to something, I usually do it. What I lack is follow through. My biggest fear in this endeavor was that I would go for about a month and then just stop going. But I knew with this New Deal, he wouldn’t let that happen. We made a pact that if either of us even thought about skipping a workout, the other would give the proverbial kick in the pants.

It worked. We went to the gym 6 days a week and he taught me proper techniques, I tracked our workouts, and we got a nice rhythm going. One problem: my weight wasn’t changing. I could see tiny improvements as far as strength, but no weight change, no difference in how my clothes fit. *Sigh*

This went on until late February. Our gym was small and we always had to wait in line for benches or machines. What a pain! I’m trying to get fit here, people! So we talked again and decided maybe we needed to find a new home. We shopped around and finally settled on Gold’s Gym for a few reasons.

1. They have a hot tub, pool, and sauna. Who doesn’t relish the thought of soaking in a hot tub after a tough workout?

2. We were only locked into a three month commitment. If we didn’t like it, we could go back to our old gym or try a new one.

3. Our membership included a 3-D body scan every 30 days. What?! Yes, this little machine goes around your body and makes a 3-D model, all while analyzing your measurements to determine the amount of body fat, etc and help you meet your own goals. Wow. Sign me up!

We signed up. Like immediately. We had our initial body scan, and let me tell you, it was a hard pill to swallow. For me, I had lost around 15 lbs since we started working out, so that was something. But my body fat percentage was so disheartening. And seeing a full body scan right before my eyes was a real wake up call. Like I said, my frame hides fat. Well, my clothes do too, but the body scan sees all. He had a similar epiphany. If we are ever going to see real results, we had to cut calorie intake.

Visions of rice cakes and bowls of broth filled my head. I’d tried fad diets in the past and obviously had no success. Why would this be any different? But we both knew something had to give. To his credit, my SO took action. We met at the gym the next day and he had a surprise for me! I love surprises! What is it??

A Fitbit. He went out and bought us matching Fitbits. So we started playing with the app, testing out it’s features. He was highly amused by the fact that his heart rate was consistently lower than mine. But I found the food tracker. What a godsend! You could search for and enter whatever food you had for each snack and meal every day. I started tracking. After two weeks of tracking, I noticed I was averaging 1600-1700 calories in per day, but was not losing any weight. I took a hard look at my activity level each day. I was working out 5-6 times per week, but didn’t move much from my seat at work. I decided that 1200 calories per day was a reasonable, though strict, calorie intake limit for me.

Please note that I made that decision based on my own life and my own body. Everyone is different. My SO kept his a little bit higher.

Two more weeks go by. It’s time for another body scan. You’ve got to be kidding me. Not an ounce of weight lost. I wanted to cry. I almost did. The silver lining was that while I hadn’t lost weight, I had lost fat and gained muscle. Inches had come off. I’ve struggled with my weight for a very long time and I knew this wouldn’t be easy, but come on! Four months for this? So frustrating!

I didn’t panic. I just did what I knew I had to do. Slowly but sure, the fat started melting away. Now, six months after beginning this journey, I’ve lost 40 lbs. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I am not giving up! And if any of the struggles I’ve been through will help you guys in your journey, so much the better. So read up, take heart, and know that you are not alone!

Thanks!