Sparkly & Slimming….a Weight Loss Blog

Samantha's journey to slim down, while remaining sparkly!

Whole 30 Recap!


One of my favorite movies ever is “Training Day” – I am a huge fan of both Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington and I love plot twists – plus stylistically it’s shot in a funky way. Denzel’s famous line is of course “You wanna go to jail or you wanna go home?” and I will jokingly use that often when it relates to make decisions.

denzel

How does this relate at all to my life? Well I survived the whirlwind LA business trip and only cheated once – I had a few Tanqueray & tonics one night. Yup – I avoided hot bread, gelato, amazing looking pasta + paninis and creme brulee! I was super proud of myself and I kept thinking I was navigating the LA streets like Ethan Hawke (wanna get fat or wanna get thinner and stronger?). OK so I’m a little weird – who isn’t? 🙂

I had some amazing food (because let’s be serious – food is the highlight of most trips right?) and of course had awesome client meetings. I really love interfacing with so many awesome people on a daily basis – it makes my world go ’round.

I got home and kept chugging and I’m pleased to say I completed Whole 30 and I have a ton of take-away lessons I will implement in my future:

  • If you feed your body vegetables for 33 days in a row you will actually CRAVE them. For the first time in my life I am at a point where I crave onions, spinach, tomatoes….I want salads! Don’t get me wrong, I still want ice cream and cake too – I just have never craved veggies before!
  • Once you give up gluten you realize how much of a “filler” it really was in your diet (pun intended). I am so quick to reach for a bagel or a sandwich without even weighing in my options.
  • Once you’ve had 30 days of healthy eating, junk food will literally make you sick (I gambled today and ordered coconut shrimp from our favorite little lunch spot – I feel like DEATH).
  • Your body can overcome anything with the right care. I have had psoriasis nearly my whole life – after Whole 30 my skin is still dry but not NEARLY as severe as it was before. I also haven’t had any stomach issues (except for the aforementioned shrimp). Food really does have the ability to heal! 🙂

So, how did I do? I’m down 18 pounds since I started and I’m really excited to keep going! I had my cheat meal (salted caramel cake…mmm) and I had a few of those enchanting candy-coated Cadbury eggs (oh the nostalgia!). I’ve been making my new famous salad (Samantha Kitchen Sink) and I had my family on board with it too (which is just awesome!). I combine red onion, avocado, scallion, pepper, tomato, bacon, shaved Parmesan and mushrooms on a bed of spinach and servings with lemon juice and balsamic vinegar! DELICIOUS and soooo filling!

 

Samantha Kitchen Sink

Health….like happiness is really a choice. You can choose to eat spinach – or you can choose to eat Doritos. Will Doritos taste better? Maybe at first but over time you will appreciate the nuances of vegetables. I’ve also realized that being healthy really does NOT take more time or money. My only “expense” during grocery shopping is when I chose organic – but luckily I have a CSA starting in June! I cannot wait to cook with things like kolrabi and fennel. I’m excited to spend a spring/summer incorporating new things!

I would recommend anyone out there do Whole30 – it’s truly eye-opening.

 

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Temptation and Truthbombs


I love alliteration – it just ties things together so perfectly for me! I mentioned a few weeks ago I was starting Whole 30 again – I can’t even lie, it’s been hell. I didn’t realize QUITE how far off my clean eating track I had gotten. Nor did I realize just how many temptations I face and fail in a daily basis!
Breakfast? On Whole 30 I’m either having eggs/chicken sausage or that nut porridge (comes out better if you soak the nuts in coconut or almond milk instead of water) or a Lara bar and leftover veggies. Before I would be tempted by bagels, brown sugar oatmeal or Belgian waffles. Sure none of those alone with kill me or lead to weight gain..unless that’s standard fare 6/7 mornings.
Lunch and dinner I definitely fall into the carb cravings. I want soup – with bread. I want potatoes every night (I may or may not be part potato…). It’s crazy. Once I convince myself that I’m craving veggies I can be satisfied with amazing lunches like this homemade power bowl –
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Dinner I’ve been consistently good at sticking to protein and veggies so that’s been easy but I’m finding myself eating larger breakfasts and smaller dinners. I’m also rocking the water (thanks to this lovely BKR water bottle):
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I’m also obsessed with wilted spinach and onions (olive oil + onion + salt). Here’s a snapshot of dinner Friday night:
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Dessert….yeah that was back to an every day kind of thing. A treat loses it’s specialness if you have it every day. It’s funny, I’ve learned and relearned these lessons…but for some reason they don’t stick in my head until I strip my eating to bare bones! Once I do I swear that I’m hardly saying clean. Now they’re are things I miss like cottage cheese and cheese in omelets but I think going without really made me realize how frequently cheese and crackers trumps tomatoes and guacamole as a snack!
I’m ready to transition to an 80/20 clean eating lifestyle. I can totally commit to eating clean during the week and weekends if I have one or two meals where I splurge. This week will be my most challenging – I’m in L.A. for work from Tuesday morning through Thursday night (red eye home). I’ve got 13 meetings crammed into 2.5 days I’m addition to 2 planned dinner dates. I need to be ON and of course I’m lucky Los Angeles is one of the best places to be eating clean! My hotel has an organic menu and I’m in control of picking one of the two dinner locations so I can steer towards a small farm to table style place and away from a martini bar (huge temptation!). I’ve got cashews and Lara bars packed for emergencies – I totally think I can do this. One real truth that rang through during this challenge was how often I excuse away my own bad behavior while harping on someone else for doing THE SAME THING. No one likes a hypocrite.
I’ve been completely in love with a blogger/author banged Danielle LaPorte lately and one of her best ideas is a “truthbomb” – a quick email with wise words you need to hear. This was from a few weeks ago:

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Ha. Was I right? Totally true, thought-provoking words! Can you talk about what you want in life without referencing what you have or had? It’s tough! I want to be able to master clean eating while still enjoying treats without overdoing it. What do I consider overdoing? Well if I look at my past… No past! Don’t mention the past! LOL. It’s tough! If I think about my love life and taking that chance and putting myself into the online dating world (something I’ve still avoided) I get so scared and so worried…what if I only meet assholes? What if NO ONE wants to date me? What if I meet someone who can only see where I am and not where I’m going? Well, it’s on me to put my best foot forward and act the way I want to feel (as Gretchen Rubin says). If I want to be loved I need to act loved (and truly I am loved!). But, dwelling on roads you’ve already traveled just gets you places you’ve already been!
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In three weeks I’m super happy to say I’ve lost 13 pounds! I know so much of this was getting away from the healthy (and not healthy!) quick foods and back to eating healthy meals in their natural form. Now let’s look forward to a healthy, clean eating future! 🙂

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Whole 30….Round 2!


You know how they say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb? Well I’m totally over lions. I hate winter. It’s been so freaking cold and miserable here in the suburbs of Boston – I’m ready for some sunshine and flowers! I’m going to gear myself up for a spring mentality (and a more fabulous summer body) by kicking off a new Whole 30 challenge this coming Monday. I eased myself in this week – cutting ties with bagels and homemade cookies (two things that were making more frequent appearances than they really should). I also embraced some new things like cilantro (formerly a hate – and I mean hate!) and raw red onion.I’m ready to rock the next 30 days!

Just in case you’re not familiar Whole 30 is an elimination/detox diet created by a husband and wife team who believe in organic, whole foods and no junk. The plan is simple to explain but terribly hard to execute:

Eat real food in these forms:

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Tons of vegetables
  • Some fruit
  • Healthy oils, nuts and seeds.

Sounds simple right?! Yeaaa not so fast….

Don’t eat:

  • Sugar (any kind)
  • Alcohol
  • Grains
  • Legumes (which includes America’s favorite nut, the peanut)
  • Dairy
  • Carrageenan, MSG or sulfites (found in many processed foods)
  • White potatoes (along with Yukon, red bliss etc.) – the only potato that’s Whole 30 approved is the sweet potato

So, it’s a big change…but I’m excited to take it on. I did great last time although the headaches were pretty awful (not excited for those). My hardest challenge will be breakfast. I like eggs – but they don’t always like me back….so I need to get creative. This recipe for Banana Nut Porridge  sounds awesome and would be delicious with dates!  I have my nuts soaking as we speak and I’m hoping this is a tasty breakfast. I love oatmeal and I think it will be similar.

Sunday is veggie prep day and today I got help from Derek and Mom (thanks guys!) – here’s what we have ready in the fridge for the week ahead:

  • Roasted cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and broccoliflower along with asparagus, green beans and broccolini washed and ready to be roasted for dinners.
  • Spinach, arugula and spring mix for salad base
  • Raspberries (to add to porridge)
  • Vinegar pickled beets
  • 3 kinds of tomatoes (variety is the spice of life right?)
  • Sweet potato mash
  • Almonds, cashews, pecans (no peanuts!)
  • Power Salad fixin’s (I stole this from Panera after having one for lunch Friday!)

Here’s the salad I had Friday:

PowerSaladMy take: Spinach/arugula/cilantro base, fresh tomatoes, peppers (yellow and orange) and pickled red onions (homemade!) with roasted chicken and cilantro/lemon hummus. Super delicious and super excited to eat it! I’ll snap a picture later in the week! Derek loves cukes, I hate them so we’ll include them in his salad only. 🙂

Oh and here’s a shot of the garlic pickled red onions and roasted cabbage/brussel sprouts:

Roasted Veggies and Pickled Onions

They joke that Whole 30 is a commitment – but it really is! I’m not usually a big food planner (I find it constricting and stressful) so this will be a big change to have to think this far ahead. I think I’m most worried about giving up ice cream – I LOVE ice cream and a month is a long time! Oh and if you’re curious I will be having my beloved Starbucks coffee with coconut/almond milk instead of cream/1 sugar. 🙂 See? I’ve thought of everything! Now, let’s see if I see a difference in 30 days!

Some of the annoyances (besides of course the weight) are super, insane dry skin/eczema, random hives (possibly due to coconut so I’m not going nuts with coconut during the challenge) and psoriasis on my head. A lot of these ailments have been fixed with a clean diet – I can’t wait to see how I fare on April 12th!

Are you doing a Whole 30? Have you? Any tips or tricks?

 

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Whole Lotta Veggies….and May Challenges


A bunch of people have asked how Whole 30 is going and how I’m doing….a few have assumed my silence means I failed. LOL. I’m happy to say I did not fail! I did cheat a bit – but I did not fail. I lost 16 pounds in 30 days – which is pretty phenomenal!

Overall it was pretty amazing. I had no idea how few veggies I was eating….or how much processed crap I was eating! I also didn’t realize how often I turned to carbs for cravings, bad days or boredom. Carbs are my consolation blanket. I can’t say I’m completely over my cravings for cupcakes – but I can say I will never go back to a gluten filled diet. Ever!

I focused on the healthiest options possible every day – and I found ways to make veggies work for my life. I don’t have time in the morning to roast vegetables and pack lunch. Hell most nights I end up working later than I should and packing lunch becomes a “shoulda done” before bed  (a post for another day). So instead I go to Whole Foods Saturday or Sunday and I roast veggies for the week then bag them up individually. Yes, I do realize tupperware would be more ecologically friendly – but I end up not washing it, forgetting it at work or in my car and wasting money. Plastic bags, for the win!

Some of the veggies I simply cannot live without: raw peppers with olive tapende or just plain  -YUM! Spaghetti squash with pesto – oh em gee – SO good! Seriously, an awesome substitute for pasta. No it doesn’t *taste* like pasta – it tastes like squash – but it LOOKS just like pasta! Perfect. Oh and of course, cauliflower- especially purple (which they had at Whole Foods and was all the rage this week in my lunch). Love cauliflower!

So how did I cheat? I had dairy – both cheese (yum) and half and half in my coffee. Oh and I had coffee. I’m sorry, I can’t live in a world without coffee. I know the book tells you that’s crap – but it’s not. The caffeine withdrawals were awful. I couldn’t function one day because I was in the midst of carb flu and without coffee. If anyone decides to do this experiment – make sure you’re not traveling….or in back to back meetings. 🙂 I will also add that detoxing off a processed food laden diet is horrible, I was nauseous, I was dizzy, my thoughts were jumbled but I also was weak. I got muscle cramps places I never get cramps when exercising – and I was sleeping horribly.

Most importantly –  I don’t WANT to give up coffee. I have one Venti iced coffee with cream daily. That’s it. I’m not drinking it all day long and I’m not willing to live without it. Some things are worth fighting for! 😉

So what will my May challenge be? More of the same, with a twist. May I’m back to traveling – Phoenix, LA, Dallas and maybe a local trip down to CT. I need to be ON m game. No gluten. Lots of veggies, lots of lean protein, fruits. Oh and lots of moving.

Thankfully I have a little challenge to keep me motivated! Stef Sweeney is hosting a Bikini Buddy Challenge (thank god no ACTUAL bikinis are required – I’m a LONG way from there) and I signed up with my girl Layne. We are team Cantaloop Cuties – inspired by our favorite 90’s song ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwBjhBL9G6U

The rules are super simple:

1) Pair up with a buddy.
2) Arrange a time to meet with me (before/after class, etc) to get your beginning measurements taken.
3) Pay $10 each – $5 registration fee; $5 to go into the Winners Pot.
4) For the next 6 weeks, get your booty into gear!! Stay on top of your working out/being active, eating healthy, drinking water, etc.
5) At the end of the 6 weeks, measurements will be taken again. The team with the most inches/body fat lost WINS ALL THE MONEY FROM THE WINNERS POT!!!!

So gluten-free, veggie heavy diet plus lots of Zumba and cardio (more about my new favorite cardio in the next post!) = Awesome track for getting myself slimmed down!!
Wish me luck – I feel like I’ve finally got a secret formula down for success – I’m looking forward to having a healthy summer!
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The Whole Truth ~ Week 1 recap!


Week one of Whole 30 is in the books! It was rough, I can’t lie. I’ll highlight the finer points in bullet points, because I love a bullet point!

*The first three days I was convinced I was going to die. Let’s just say I grossly underestimated how much processed food I was eating. My stomach didn’t take well to fresh foods and veggies. By day 4 I definitely felt like my system “got it” and it was easier. Upping my water intake helped. Taking it easy on the exercise front helped too.

*Long term I can live without gluten. I feel better when I don’t have it and the “missing it” is truly mind over matter. Lettuce wraps taste better and crunchier to me than regular sandwiches. Pretty sure I had lettuce wraps 4 times this week. So good! (note to self: snap pictures next time).

mind over matter

*Long term I cannot live without ice cream. I miss it. My favorite ice cream stand (Kimball’s in Carlise) opened for the season and their ice cream is just to die for – so fresh and tasty. I will definitely incorporate this back in next month – as a treat for occasions!

*When you focus on whole, natural foods you really notice the flavor. I love artichoke hearts marinated in buffalo sauce but I was drowning them in blue cheese before. Now I have them with orange peppers and spinach, no dressing – delicious! One of my best combos was Saturday night. I tried to emulate a salad I had at Craft in LA –  hearts of palm, roasted red peppers, avocado and roasted chicken(I added this, it wasn’t in the original) with a squeeze of lime juice. Incredibly tasty and filling! I wish I could have an avocado tree in Boston – that’s how much I love avo!

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*Whole 30 talks a lot about curing disease through food. I can’t say for sure any of my ailments are cured but my skin seems less dry, my plantar fasciitis seems to be under control (stretching helps too!) and I have more energy. Can’t wait to see how I feel in the next few weeks!

*Prepping is KEY. I think anytime I’ve failed at weight-loss in the past can be attributed to lack of planning. Saturday we grocery shopped (Whole Foods for fruits/veggies, Market Basket + BJ’s for everything else). Sunday I prepped. Roasted, washed, cut, bagged and planned for the week. In the fridge I have ingredients for chicken Thai lettuce wraps (enough for 3 lunches), enough roasted cauliflower and broccoli for the week (lunch or dinner), grilled chicken breasts, sliced peppers for dipping in guacamole, strawberries hulled and popped in the freezer for smoothies and sliced salad ingredients ready for a protein. Fruits (er veggies) of my labor:

veggies

*Whole truth  – I cheated. I love Starbucks iced coffee. LOVE. With cream + 1 sugar. I tried coconut milk, I tried almond milk, I tried black – I can’t do it. I need to conquer this – but if it’s the worst, I’m pretty proud of myself!

*Best part? I noticed my sugar craving are waning. Tonight I wanted sweet. I needed sweet. I did not resort to chocolate or ice cream – instead I opted for some fresh fruit – kiwi, raspberries and blueberries. It hit the spot!

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My best friend Julie is trying it starting tomorrow. I can’t wait to compare notes with her. Anyone else just start it? Email me, I’d love to hear about your experiences! sparklyandslimming@gmail.com 🙂

I’m all prepped for week two and ready to get some exercise back into my life. Lots of cardio this week and hopefully a strength training class or two are on the docket.

Looking forward I’m trying to figure out how I can keep this up when I travel. I think it will require finding a hotel with a fridge and doing some grocery shopping – which I’m certainly not opposed to doing – it’s just not always an option depending where I’m staying. I’m thinking I’ll have to get creative!

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Whole 30 ~ 4/8 – 5/8


I have been chatting away about life and love over at my new nook on the interwebz – but I decided to pop back here for a chat about my new nutrition focus. Tomorrow I am launching into 30 days of “Whole 30” – you can read all the details here. Here are the basics:

What is the Whole30®?

Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat – even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?

Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day-to-day life, and your long-term health. The most important reason to keep reading?

This will change your life.

I just finished “It Starts with Food” and I feel like I need to try it. I need a life change!

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So what can I eat?

* Lots of fruits

*Lots of veggies

* Lean proteins

* NO eat sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy or processed junk  (also known as most of my current diet)

Sounds crazy eh?  I’m excited. It’s the butt-kicking I need.

Now, I know dairy is not bad for you – but the program cuts it out and I think I can live without it for a month. Maybe. 🙂  (No cheese? Bah…maybe not)

What made me try this? Straight from the book and the website:

Here comes the tough love. This is for those of you who are considering taking on this life-changing month, but aren’t sure you can actually pull it off, cheat free, for a full 30 days. This is for the people who have tried this before, but who “slipped” or “fell off the wagon” or “just HAD to eat (fill in food here) because of this (fill in event here).” This is for you.

It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your “struggles”. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.

—-

I need some tough love! I need some butt-kicking. 🙂

This is my fruit bowl right now (usually empty):

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Had I not just bagged up all my veggies I would have snapped a picture of those too!

Breakfast is going to be challenging – I love oatmeal. Love it. No oats. No dairy (cottage cheese, yogurt) so I decided to go with a fruit smoothie made with a bit of coconut almond milk and this:

Hopefully it’s tasty – we’ll see tomorrow!

I’m already going to call it – not having my iced coffee with cream and sugar is going to be the hardest. I love me some Starbucks! Send me some willpower friends, I’m going to need it.

I’m going to snap a before picture before work – we’ll see if you guys notice a difference in 30 days!

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