The Struggle with Sugar – Are you Addicted to Sugar?

addicted to sugar

Source: Flicker/Moyan Brenn

Hello, My name is Tammy and I’m Addicted to Sugar

Lately I’ve been battling sugar again. Sometimes I can kick it to the curb. Other times its insidious whisper calls me to it and I don’t resist. On one hand I wish I could have a treat now and then but on the other hand I know what it births in my life. When I choose to eat sugar it wakes up ALL my cravings that have been hibernating. Suddenly I not only want more sugar but I also want chips and bread and any other junk food I can get my hands on. It’s never enough. I can’t just have a small treat and be happy with it. The one exception is dark chocolate. When I have dark chocolate I can be happy with one or two squares and I don’t suffer cravings afterwards. So why don’t I choose dark chocolate more often and avoid the other sweets? If I knew the answer to that I think I would get somewhere with this sugar addiction. 

My biggest challenge comes at work. Candy on coworkers desks, gifts people give me (hello, Starbucks gift card), and treats left on the break room table. Everyone means well. But I see it and it makes something click in my mind. So even though I walk away initially, as the day wears on my willpower wears out like a muscle that gets fatigued with use. At home I keep most of the things that tempt me out of the house. Every once in a while my kids will have something that challenges me, but we try to keep most of it out of the house.

Do you struggle with sugar? I would love your tips in the comments about how you overcome temptation!

Food Prep Tips to Make Healthier Eating Easy

food prep

Source: Flickr/Meal Makeover Moms

One vital behavior that contributes to my healthy eating success is food prep on the weekends. On weeks that I skip the food prep I find that I cheat on my meal plan more often. I eat out more and I tend make more choices that don’t align with my goals. So food prep has become more and more a solid part of my weekend plans. Here are some of the things I’ve incorporated into my process.

Smoothie bags: I make 5 zipper bags of ingredients for my 5 week-day smoothies. On a normal day when I don’t do the food prep it takes me so long to make my smoothie because of all the different ingredients. My smoothie bags contain 1 scoop of Shakeology, 1/2 scoop whey protein powder, 2 teaspoons of chia seeds or flaxseeds, 1 cup of kale, 2 cups of spinach, and a 1/2 cup of berries. Once I add all the ingredients I freeze the bags. Each morning I dump the contents of the bag into my blender with water and I add a 1/2 c of coconut milk and blend. 

Eggs: I boil 8-10 eggs. I usually take 2 eggs to work as a snack or I add them to my salad.

Salad Jars: I usually make 4 or 5 salad jars. I use large mason jars and I put the salad dressing on the bottom. Coconut Ranch dressing is my favorite at the moment. I then add a layer of ingredients that don’t tend to get soggy. These ingredients will vary week to week but some of my favorites are radishes, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini. If I am adding any nuts or dried fruit or anything like that I would add them now. The last ingredient is the lettuce or spinach or other greens. This keeps them away from the dressing and helps keep them from getting soggy. The mason jars help keep the salads amazingly fresh. At lunch time I turn the jar upside down and let the dressing drain down into the salad and then dump in all on to a plate or into a bowl. Add a protein and BAM, lunch is done!

Oatmeal jars: For variety with breakfast I also make oatmeal jars. I use the smaller mason jars for these. To make these I put 1/2 a cup of oatmeal in the jar and then I add various ingredients to make it tastier. My favorite recipe is dried apples (cut in small pieces) and cinnamon with a variety of nuts. Dried bananas and nuts is another favorite of mine. Use your imagination for more variety. In the morning add 1 cup of hot water to the jar, mix together and let it sit for about 10 minutes. I usually add the water before my shower and when I’m done, my breakfast is hot and ready.

Proteins: Throughout the week we make extra proteins with our meals to package up for lunches. For example when we make a chicken dish, we make  2 or 3 extra pieces and bag them up individually. That way when I’m packing my lunch I can grab a salad jar and a serving of chicken and I have the makings of a perfect lunch. 

Any time we have food leftover after dinner I package up a couple of individual servings instead of putting it all in one container. Every minute saved in the morning is one step closer to a better day!

Veggies: When I get back from the grocery store I wash and prep some of my vegetables. Some vegetables I leave as is until I am ready to use them. I find if I peel and slice my zucchini and cucumber, sometimes it gets mushy before the week is up so I leave them alone. Other items I prepare right away to make the week easier. I cut florets off of my cauliflower and broccoli, trim my radishes, etc. That way if I want to pack raw veggies or make some steamed veggies it’s easy to grab a handful and prepare them without any extra steps. 

I would love to hear your food prep tips. I could always use new ideas. Let me know in the comments how you make healthy eating easier.

Searching for Answers When My Weight is Stuck

weight is stuckIt’s ironic that I coach people on better nutrition and exercise and they lose weight yet my own weight is stuck. So I am looking deeper. I am looking for the missing piece of the puzzle. I have had appointments in the last 2 weeks with a nutritionist and my nurse practitioner to tease apart the layers of what might be going on.

Changes

Over the last 2 years I have made many different changes in my life. I don’t regret a single one of them. 

I cut out gluten. No more bread, no more pasta, no more pastries. I have an occasional cheat but for the most part it is not a routine ingredient in my nutrition plan. I made this change after reading the book Wheat Belly and I won’t go back.

I quit my Diet Coke habit. Never, ever thought that would happen. No soda at all for me. Not even tempted any more.

I don’t eat fast food. I used to enjoy frequent visits to the drive thru lane. Especially Jack in the Box. Breakfast sandwiches, tacos, amazing burgers…no more. Not even tempted any more

I have increased the number of vegetable servings per day. I used to eat 1 or 2 servings of veggies a day. Now it’s more like 6 – 8 servings. I not only eat them more but I enjoy them more. My family has made it kind of an adventure to try new vegetables or to try them in a new way.

Dessert. I hardly ever have dessert any more. I used to have it every night. Now I fill my day with so much good nutrition that I don’t crave sweets at night for the most part. My body has what it needs.

Candy. I am still tempted when candy is in front of my face. But I don’t seek it out like I used to. No more trips to the vending machine or extra stops to the gas station. I remember times when I would get a candy bar and eat it and then realize I ate it so fast I didn’t take the time to enjoy it.

Exercise. From couch potato to a disciplined routine of working out 5 to 6 days a week. The key for me there has been finding something I enjoy and eliminating as many excuses as possible.

Fake food. My husband and I have cut out most processed foods. We get the majority of our calories from foods that are full of dense nutrition and with as few chemical additives as possible. We still have room to improve but we have made great strides in this area.

And yet…

And yet with all these changes my weight hovers in the same range. It’s not just a short plateau, this has been going on for way too long. So I decided if I want different results I need some help. I am not willing to go on a crash diet or do anything that I’m not willing to stick with for life. I am working with a nutritionist through Nutritional Weight and Wellness who is helping me find the right meal plan for me and help me figure out if I’m eating things that are not best for me. She is actually advising me to eat more. More of the right things like protein and healthy fats. It’s been an exercise of trust to follow that advice because it’s counter-intuitive. I have gone back to my nurse practitioner to run some different lab tests and do some further investigating. 

The old me would have said, “All these changes aren’t working so I’ll just go back to eating whatever I want.” But the new me says, “Despite what the scale says, I know I’m doing what’s right for my health.” Part of what helps me to stick with that resolve is that when I eat badly I feel bad. Not emotionally bad but physically bad. Listening to my body has been one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the last couple of years. 

Worshiping Food – Can Food Be an Idol?

Source: Flickr/pallavi_damera

Source: Flickr/pallavi_damera

Do I worship idols? I want to say of course not! But idolatry is more insidious. An idol is actually anything that I put ahead of my worship of God. God has created needs within me that can only be met with Him. If I attempt to satisfy those needs with other things, that is idolatry. When I think of it that way, then yes, I have put other things before God and I am guilty of idolatry. I have been guilty of worshiping food among other things.

Worshiping food

One of the things that comes to mind when I think about idol worship is food. Food has definitely been elevated to an unhealthy place in my life. I have turned to food for so many reasons. 

Food is my comfort.

Food provides peace.

Food gives me pleasure like a drug.

Food answers an unidentifiable need.

Food is something I feel I deserve when I have done well or when I have a rough day.

Food entertains me when I am bored.

God wants to be the answer to all those needs. He wants me to turn to Him first to be my peace, my comfort. He wants me to delight in Him. He wants me to tell him about my day and to cry out to Him when I need help. Instead, I have turned to food. Food is an empty god. It provides momentary pleasure but long-term problems. 

I remember telling my husband as I took my first bite of fresh, warm pumpernickel bread at Outback Steakhouse that it was like a drug. I actually had a physical rush from eating it while we waited for our dinner. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying good food. The Bible talks a lot about food and feasts. It’s just that I need to put it in it’s proper place. I have elevated it to a place in my life that it doesn’t belong. This behavior started at a young age and I’m challenged to peel apart the layers and figure out how to use food as fuel and enjoy it in the way that God intended. Do you struggle with your relationship with food?

 

Our Backyard Farm Adventures: Homemade Yogurt

Homemade Yogurt

Source: Flickr/peddhapati

I was introduced to making homemade yogurt when my aunt came to visit a few months ago. I’ve been making it myself ever since. It’s a great way to control the ingredients and to reduce the sugar in my diet. The only ingredients needed are milk, dry milk and yogurt culture. I use 1 quart of milk, 1 cup dry milk and one package of yogurt culture from cheesemaking.com. I buy the cultures that make more of a Greek yogurt but you can also get a creamier yogurt or Bulgarian style yogurt cultures. The next round I am going to try each of the 3 types to see which one I like best. You can use a bit of a previous batch of yogurt instead of the purchased cultures but you will get more benefit from a higher level of cultures.

Why yogurt?

I add yogurt to my nutrition plan first of all because it’s yummy. When I have the munchies at work and I’m fighting the urge to hit up the vending machine for candy, a serving of yogurt with some nuts sprinkled in can help me get past the cravings. Yogurt also provides healthy bacteria that helps my gut function properly. Probiotics are living bacteria that are essential for good health. Yogurt is full of probiotics. Yogurt provides a good protein boost to your diet as well as  a dose of calcium. Many people who are lactose intolerant can still eat yogurt, especially if the extra whey is drained off.

How do I make it?

To make the yogurt I put 1 quart of milk in a saucepan and add 1 cup of dry milk. Heat the milk to 180 degrees. I use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature while I am warming it up. Once it reaches 180 degrees, I cool the milk rapidly to 110 degrees in very cold water. Once it cools to 110 degrees I put the milk in a container and add the cultures and stir. I place the container in the oven with the oven light on. The light provides enough warmth for the yogurt process to start. I leave it in the oven overnight (6 to 12 hours are recommended) and then refrigerate it in the morning. There are also yogurt makers that you can get that will keep the yogurt at temperature, but the oven light is an inexpensive solution for me.

homemade yogurt

Wrestle with the Voices Inside

Source: Flickr/Porsche Brosseau

Source: Flickr/Porsche Brosseau

I enjoy music and especially songs with great lyrics. Sometimes I feel like I can express myself better with song lyrics than I could using my own words. The song Greater by MercyMe has been rattling around in my head this week. The lyrics really strike home with me on days when I’m not feeling like I’m good enough.

“Every day I wrestle with the voices
That keep telling me I’m not right
But that’s alright
‘Cause I hear a voice and He calls me redeemed
When others say I’ll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world”

Sometimes the voices are from others but most of the time the voices are in my own little head. They whisper loudest when I’m playing the comparison game. When I’m paying attention to the voice that says:

It’s not fair.

I’m not one of the cool kids.

I’ll never be thin/fit/pretty.

I never finish anything.

I’ll never get ahead.

And on, and on…

When those thoughts start I have a choice. I can listen to them. I can let them drag me down into a pit of unworthiness and despair. Or I can choose to listen to a better voice. The voice of the One who loves me. Even though I can’t fully comprehend this love I can let it sink into my soul and pull me up to a better place. A place where I can begin to believe that I have a calling and when I walk in all that He has for me I will never be a loser.

“There’ll be days I lose the battle
Grace says that it doesn’t matter
‘Cause the cross already won the war
He’s Greater
He’s Greater

I am learning to run freely
Understanding just how He sees me
And it makes me love Him more and more
He’s Greater
He’s Greater”

Take a listen and let it sink into your soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Next Clean Eating Challenge Starts Soon

salad recipe

Source: Wikimedia Commons, Krista

Next free clean eating challenge starts next week February 16, 2015. We spend 14 days together in a private Facebook group reinforcing good habits and working on ditching bad habits. I will provide a guide, videos, and lots of recipes to help you get through the two weeks. Invite a friend or two to do it with you – it’s always easier to stick to an eating plan when you have support from those around you. Sign up now so you can shop and prep before day 1.

3 Tips to Finding Your Workout Mojo

My January  Plan

My January Plan

I Lost My Workout Mojo!

Near the end of 2014 I found that I had lost my workout mojo. I was still suiting up, getting in the workout room, pushing play and exercising so I still consider that a win. However, I wasn’t pushing myself anymore. I was phoning it in. I wasn’t going to become the person I want to be with what I was doing. One day a couple weeks ago I listened to a podcast episode on the Chalene Show. She was interviewing Tony Horton and he had some great tips that helped to inspire me and fire me up to do more and be more. I will paraphrase them here. These tips can work with any goal you have – even if they are not workout related.

Plan

Plan what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it and WRITE IT DOWN. Get out the calendar and write it down. When you complete your workout for the day, cross it off with a big, red X. That way when you look at the calendar you have a visual representation of the work you’ve put in.  At the end of the month when you have more days crossed off than missed, you will know you are on track to meeting your goal. A photo of what my calendar looks like is above. I’ve scheduled workouts for all 7 days of the week knowing that I may miss one here and there. I scheduled it to allow the different muscle groups to rest and recover. I also put some flexibility days in there so I can work on stretching and balance and healing.

Purpose

Your purpose, or your WHY needs to be above and beyond the aesthetic. When we say we want to work out or lose weight so that we can be thin or to be more attractive, we are feeding our ego but only  scratching the surface of all that we can be. Yes, I’d love to be thinner and I’d love to have a better body for my husband. But I’d also like to have increased energy and improve the quality of my day. I’d like to have the confidence that comes with being fit and knowing that I’ve pushed myself and disciplined myself. I’d love to live a more adventurous life and that doesn’t come by wimping out in the workout room and stuffing myself with Cheetos on the couch.

Look Around

Look at the 5 people you hang around with the most. Are they active, adventurous and taking care of themselves? Or are they couch potatoes? I’m not suggesting you ditch your friends. But what I am suggesting is that you start to build some relationships with folks that have similar goals as you. Maybe even people that surpass what you think you can do. You can do this in “real life” or in online groups, but start associating with people who will nudge you to be more. You won’t regret the adventure!

 

A Look Back at 2014

Source: Flickr/Dafne Cholet

Source: Flickr/Dafne Cholet

As 2015 approaches I’ve been looking back at what I’ve accomplished over the last year. It’s sad to say that it’s taken me so many years to get focused on improving my life. This has been the first year that I have been so purposeful to grow and develop my skills. I have spent half a century being satisfied with being average. Well, no more!

Over the last year I have read more non-fiction books than ever before. I got addicted to reading books that make me a better mom, wife, employee and entrepreneur. First and foremost on my list of books  I got serious with my Bible studying.  Some of my other favorite reading was The Compound Effect, Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World and Go for No! Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There.

This year I have blogged more than previous years. I have written 65 blog posts. In the month of October I challenged myself to write a post for every day for the #write31days challenge. I faced some difficulties that month but I successfully blogged 27 out of 31 days. That challenge showed me that I can do more that I thought I could. I focused my October posts on nutrition to help make this site a better resource for my readers. 

I got more focused with my coaching business this year. I connected with my own coach, Traci Morrow which has been a huge blessing for me. She is a great example of passion and wisdom and how to run a business on love. I started learning to stop worrying about being “sales-y” and started learning that I have something to offer that changed my life and offering to share it with others is the least I can do. The next year with Traci will push me farther than ever before. She has arranged for leadership expert John Maxwell to coach our team. 2015 is going to be an amazing year of growth for me! I also have to thank my success partner, Becky Caldwell who has been there month after month sharing her own experiences and wisdom with me and nudging me farther than I would have gone on my own. Through her encouragement and my efforts I have been able to help more people than ever before.

My own personal fitness has had it’s ups and downs this year. I have been consistent in getting into the workout room and moving, but my effort has waned over the last couple of months. Some days were better than others but I wasn’t pushing myself like I should have. I recently “found my mojo” again and I will save the details of that for another post. But I am thankful that even through the times where I just didn’t feel like it, I still got in there and put in the work. 

My husband and I have made a focused effort this year to eat less processed food and to grow more of our own. Bill grew 3 garden beds full of veggies and has plans to expand even more next year. He also started raising 6 chickens (the maximum number allowed in the city limits). Starting in May we should have fresh eggs from our own back yard. We started dreaming about having a small farm someday and providing even more of our own food.

All in all it’s been a year of growth and stretching. I am now waiting for the clock to strike midnight and a new year to begin. I am looking forward to 2015 and the lessons it will bring for me.

Grandma’s Green Bean Soup Recipe

Green Bean Soup

Source: Flickr/US Dept. of Agriculture

My grandma has been gone for many years. I still miss her even after more than 2 decades. There is one dish that never fails to remind me of her and that is her Green Bean Soup recipe. I made it tonight and couldn’t help mentioning to my family once again that it was Grandma’s recipe. My grandma was known for being frugal and saving everything. If there were 3 kernels of corn left at dinner time, they got put in an empty margarine container and saved in the fridge or frozen along with the other leftovers. She could whip up a meal at any time with all the little bits and pieces she had saved. We teased her, but we always ate well. She could have a whole family show up unexpectedly for dinner and she would make it work with what she had on hand. She and her sister were raised by their mother and they struggled through the Depression era. She learned as a teen that you just don’t waste food – it’s too precious. Here is how I make the soup. There is no real recipe – just delicious ingredients thrown together. The magic happens at the end when you add the heavy whipping cream. It’s not diet food…just delicious, real food.

Grandma’s Green Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 ham hock
  • 2 cups green beans, cut into bite sized lengths
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 small onion
  • Hickory smoked salt (or Bacon Salt)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  1. Add ham hock to a pot of water. Bring to a boil. I let this cook for awhile to infuse the flavors from the ham hock into the water. Add potatoes, onion, green beans, and smoked salt. Simmer until tender. I usually start with a teaspoon of smoked salt and then add more to taste. I like to slightly under-season until the cream is added. Then the flavors will really come together and you can add more salt if needed. Add cream at the very end. Enjoy!
http://cravingfitness.org/nutrition/green-bean-soup-recipe/