Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Kung Pao Spaghetti Squash and Broccoli

There are two things I've never done before: cook spaghetti squash, and write a recipe.
That's all changed.....
I know that I wrote allll about not cooking on weeknights, but on Monday and Friday nights I don't work out.  I got home last night, and it was snowy and cold, and I had a spaghetti squash and some broccoli, so cooking seemed like the cozy thing to do. 

The traditional thing to do would be some sort of Italian spaghetti squash, broccoli, and cheese thing, but I wanted to do something more interesting.  I liked my Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts so much, that I decided to Kung Pao my squash and broccoli!

Kung Pao Spaghetti Squash and Broccoli

For squash:
1 whole spaghetti squash

For broccoli:
1 lb broccoli, chopped to bite size pieces
2 tbsp olive oil

for sauce:
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp sriracha
2 cloves black garlic, minced

1/3 c roasted salted peanuts
crushed red pepper
sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400. Slice spaghetti squash in half, and discard seeds. Prepare baking dish by adding 1/2 inch water, salt, pepper, and seasonings to taste.  (I added bean paste). Place squash cut side down in pan, cover with foil and roast for approximately 45 minutes.

Toss broccoli with olive oil, arrange on baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

To prepare sauce, combine ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, whisking to stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. 

Remove vegetables from oven.  Add broccoli to mixing bowl, sprinkle with crushed red pepper, and stir. Scrape flesh of squash into the bowl.  (this part was so fun! it was like magic to see the squash turn into "spaghetti!") Add the sauce, peanuts and sesame seeds to combine. 

Nutritional values will vary depending on the side of the squash.  I ended up with two big servings. 551 calories (higher that my usual meals, but not too shabby!), 13.3 g fiber and 19.3 g protein.

Far from a sad desk lunch!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Eating Right the Rachael Way

There are a lot of obstacles to cooking healthy meals at home. I get it.

I just find a way to work around the obstacles.
but seriously, what working woman wants to make a meal from scratch on a weeknight?  The secret? Cook ahead. Bonus points for a chest freezer.
I'm on  biweekly pay schedule, so I do my major shopping and cooking every fortnight.  Being an urban Gen X hermit, I use Instacart.  It's pretty awesome for an urban non-car owner. This week I got my groceries from Harvest Co-op

Since I've started this journey, I've found cooking so much more enjoyable. Done right, it is such a mindful experience.

Step One: gather your ingredients (and a glass of wine)

 I chose three recipes to make this week.  First, Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts. If there are two things I love, it's Brussels Sprouts and Chinese Delivery. I pretty much followed the recipe verbatim.  I used maple syrup, not honey, and skipped the cilantro, but used fresh scallions from the backyard. 
The finished product was super tasty:

I also made, in conjunction, Crispy Tofu Bites and Vegetable Baked Ziti. I'm pretty proud of myself for organizing three recipes to be made in conjunction.

We were out of garlic powder, so I used Carolina Dirt on the tofu bites.  Fusion cuisine! I subbed olive oil for coconut oil, and maple syrup for honey. While the tofu was marinating, I sauteed the veggies for the ziti:

Pasta turned out great!
Super cheesy! I got 8 servings.  I track my calories, fiber and protein.  Each serving came out to 303 calories; with 4.5 grams of fiber and 17.6 grams of protein. 

When the tofu was done, I packaged it with the brussels sprouts, and some vegetables I had roasted the night before.  I ended up with 6 servings. 475 calories per serving, a whopping 15.8 grams of fiber and 23.3 grams of protein.  Of course, the nutritional value of this one may be a little of since certain people kept sneaking tastes of the finished brussels sprouts while the pasta and tofu were in the oven. Anyway, these bowls turned out to be a tasty alternative to Chinese takeout- and are nutritional powerhouses to boot!

Into the chest freezer with everything.  Now, I have lunch for work, and if I get home and don't feel like prepping anything, I've got my meals ready and waiting.  Cheaper and healthier than ordering out!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pain

When I was halfway through the CrossFit Opens I realized that I had hit the six month mark in this fitness journey I have been on. I consider myself to be very much "in progress", but I wanted to reflect on some of the moments that have shaped me and where I am now.

Six months ago, in mid-September 2015 I realized I could not keep going as I had been. I was two and a half years into my first-ever sedentary job, and while I wasn't eating poorly, I could have been doing better by myself. Of course, the other piece of this, and one that many of my close friends and family are already aware of, is that I struggle with Clinical Depression, and six months ago I could feel myself dipping. I have successfully managed my depression without medication for many years, and I know that makes me lucky compared to many I know. I do not and did not want to go back on the drug regimen that had previously left me feeling alternately zombie-like and jittery, and so I went in search of another solution.

I woke up one day needing to make a change, and so almost immediately I started to search for Boot Camps. Why Boot Camp? I was looking for overall conditioning. Even in those early days, I knew I would place more value on gaining strength rather than being skinny. Finding no Boot Camps convenient to home or work, I settled on CrossFit. I was nervous (see: previously mentioned sedentary life). I found CrossFit Coolidge Corner, about halfway between work and home, and sent them an email asking basically "How hard is this going to be for me?". I was invited to try a class to check it out. One Sunday morning I unsuspectingly walked into my first class, not really knowing what I was in for. I honestly don't recall what we did that day, but I couldn't walk right for an entire week - this is not an exaggeration (ask Rachael)- naturally, I went back gleefully two weeks later.

In that first month I was self-conscious in almost every class. I felt old, slow, out of shape, but there was a shift. I started to recognize that I was comparing my performance to that of others in class, and there is not a lot of space for that in CrossFit. Every person in the box is on their own fitness journey. I think most of us just want to be stronger, faster, fitter than the person we were yesterday, so instead of comparing myself to them, I had to compare myself to me.

Fast forward six months...

Here is what I know after six months of CrossFit and Yoga. I am stronger, fitter and faster. Period. Each class I walk into is a moment in time when I am at my strongest and fittest, tomorrow I will be stronger, I will work harder, I will move faster.

I am at my mental healthiest I have probably ever been in my life. My supervisor at work has noted that I manage stress at work better, and I seem less anxious when things that are out of my control at work try to take over my day. I have been able to continue to manage my depression without medication.

Each week of the CrossFit Opens presented me with challenges I would have walked away from six months ago. Opens workout 16.5 was hard, harder than I expected. I was confident going into it, I had hoped to finish in 18 minutes, it took me over 25 minutes, but I did not fail myself because I kept going.

The number one lesson I have taken away from this experience is that in the middle of 16.5 my internal voice took a turn for the decidedly negative. I felt weak, I thought I was going to vomit, I wanted to cry. At one point I couldn't get the weight overhead, I threw the bar down, turned my back on the bar, cursed. I could hear so many people urging me on, the support of an entire team telling me that I could finish, just keep moving, one rep at a time. I turned back to the bar, I finished. It was painful, but I did it. 

What I realized yesterday is that there was a time in my life when I would have walked away, and there is only one person I would be letting down if I had done so- me. This is not just about CrossFit, and it is not just about physical power. This about pushing yourself to be the best version of you in every aspect of your life.

I want to give a huge shout out to the Coaches and my fellow athletes at CrossFit Coolidge Corner. Without your support and thoughtful encouragement I would not be where I am now.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Goals and Aspirations

I did not make any New Year's Resolutions.  Resolutions seems to be all or nothing rules that are not sustainable.  I spent the last four months of 2015 making changes, so instead of waking up on January 1 with new rules for myself, I have, when the time felt right and I have evolved, set new goals for myself.

The first goal of 2016 that I set for myself is to commit to clean eating.  I was eating okay, better than a lot, but there was progress to be made.  To me, clean eating is about choosing foods that work for me, not against me.  I've been using Fooducate to help me make good choices.  I've cut out a lot of packaged/processed foods my putting my food choices through the "Fooducate Test."  If a food doesn't rate, it's off my plate.  I've stopped drinking diet soda all together.  I was never a heavy soda drinker, but I did drink it occasionally.  Also, no more Morningstar Vegetarian Bacon.

I recently forgot to put a product through the Fooducate Test.  It made me feel awful!  Not sure if it was the hydrogenated oil or the corn syrup, but in the trash it goes!  This proved to me that clean eating does make a difference.

I do still count calories, but I also work to make sure I get enough protein and fiber.  I really think these macronutrients are key in transforming my body.

I also still have fitness goals.  As I said, my bonus weight loss goals is to drop 4 more pounds.  But, more important is to lose my remaining belly fat.  I might get one of those fancy scales that measure body fat percentage to see my progress. I really want to get killer abs, and develop greater upper body and core strength.  I don't want to get skinnier, I want to get stronger.  I have the confidence that I can do it, after all, I've already come so far and accomplished so much!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Still Going Strong

So, blogging  is pretty much like my healthy lifestyle. You have to stick to it to make it a habit. At least I've stuck to the other habits! Eating healthy and working out are really my regular routine now. I seem to be pretty steady at 122 pounds. I still have goals and measurements but the scale is less important now.  My bonus weight goal is 118 pounds, but I'm really relaxed about it.  That goal weight was based on the Self Magazine Happy Weight quiz, and I'm happy now!

I have found other ways to measure my progress.  Some of these are less cut and dry than weight, but in the grand scheme of things more meaningful.

I have gone from size 14 to size 6!  This is kind of amazing.  Casey thinks that I will end up in a size 4. I am happy either way, but I have been avoiding buying too many new clothes in case she is right....she's already gotten enough pieces of clothing from me! I've also dropped a bra size.  I recently purchased a few 34Cs, and they are soooo comfy! Maidenform One Fabulous Fit is the bomb! (wish I could say I was getting swag for saying that).

I am more energetic.

I am happier than I ever have been in my life, though that may be due to this guy:

but, the benefits of pet ownership deserves a separate post (or blog).

I see so many more muscles in my body.  I got distracted at work a few weeks ago admiring my cut forearms!

I feel stronger, and am capable of so much more.  My favorite yoga pose is Crow.   I feel SO strong and confident when I do it.  I kind of want to do it all the time!

My relationship with food has become so healthy.  I really don't categorize foods as "Good" or "Bad," but I do think about what my food will do for me.  I choose foods based on macronutrients as well as my taste. But, if something is maybe nutritionally not so great, but something I love the taste of, I will eat it guilt free.  On the other hand, I won't eat an "indulgence" food if it's not something I love.  In fact, I won't eat a healthy food I don't love either (unless I am expanding my horizons and trying something new.)

I am feeling more adventurous.  I've always been reluctant to exercise in public, but a few weeks ago I went to a Yoga Around Town event.  I was nervous, since I don't do "real" yoga, but Jillian Michael's Yoga.  The fact that it was at my favorite venue, and there was a glass of wine included in the price helped to get me there. It turned out to be a blast!  I kept up with the workout, and it was there that I first nailed Crow.  I also can do something called "Full Bind," which Casey assured me was impressive. 

I also feel more adventurous in non-fitness ways.  I'm going to Puerto Rico in the fall.  This will be my first plane ride (unless I win another trip before then).  I am not nervous about the flight at all.  In fact, my only airplane anxiety revolves around how to get bumped to first class.  I am so excited about my trip, and hope to take some surfing lessons with a pro while there!  I feel so confident now about my ability to catch waves....I am so much stronger and fitter since the last time I surfed! I'm also so excited to ride in the rainforest, and maybe on the beach.  Riding was my first athletic passion. 

It has been such an adventure.  I still have goals, but perhaps that is for a subsequent post.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Breaking the Barrier

The holidays were hectic,  so instead of letting workouts and nutrition slide, I stopped blogging.

Today's weigh-in was 129.5. Getting under 130 seems like a really big deal to me! There's something symbolic about that middle number being a 2. Makes me feel like I have accomplished so much! I am almost 30 pounds lighter now!

Of course,  I must again say that the number on the scale is just one metric. Other signs of progress are smaller clothing sizes, how I look, more muscles, and how I feel.... stronger, fitter, and more confident. Bring the New Year on!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I feel great!

Did my Sunday morning workout. 40 minutes on the bike, then Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown level 2. My first time doing it and got through the whole thing! It was definitely a challenge, but I feel awesome for having done it.

I still have energy for the afternoon. No nap today!