amo.says

my life in my words


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Skinny Love

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . 

 

Ever heard that quote? It’s from A TALE OF TWO CITIES by Charles Dickens. Well, we’re not talking about Dickens or his two cities today. Instead, I figured I’d add some humor to your Friday by sharing a quick Tale of Two Treats!

 

Treat #1

 

Yesterday after work, I went to my friend (and incredible mentor/mother figure) Kathy’s house and while we were gabbing away in her kitchen, she remembered that she had a gift for me. Now, let me just say, Kathy is an ultimate gift giver! She puts so much thought and care into her gifts. For instance, she made these for me a while back and they’re my FAVORITE accessories!!  . . . says the accessory hoarder 😉

 

Please note that she knitted these, using my favorite color yarn, with her own two hands! And that note made my day 100x brighter!

So I waited anxiously, ready to be blown away by her generosity once again. She came into the kitchen holding a beautiful pink package for me!

But whattttt could it beeeee???

As I ripped open the package, my eyes widened and my smile grew—she got me THE SKINNY RULES!!!!

♥ That card made my heart melt ♥

 

 

What’s The Skinny Rules? Oh you know, just a new book by the hottest trainer—Bob Harper! (That’s right, I said it!) Okay, so I must admit, I have a mega crush on Bob Harper. I mean, c’mon, those BEAUTIFUL blue eyes, his strong physique, sassy attitude, and hipster persona are just soooo overwhelming . . . *ahem* is it getting warm in here or is that just me?!?  What do you mean you don’t see it?

 

How about now???

 

No, Okay, what about this?!?!? 😀

 

Alright, alright, I could post pics of Bob all day and be perfectly happy, but we need to move on. He’s just supa fine, okay? Okay. This gift was perfect—not only do I get to look at Bob any time I want, but I’ve actually been interested in picking up the book to read all of his hot tips and gain some more fitness insight. I hadn’t had much opportunity to pick it up at the store, so getting it as a present is just wonderful. I mean, I’m only into the 1st chapter and I’m already totally diggin’ it. We had the biggest “Holy moly!!!” laughing (because we totally get it) moment when I read this part from his intro on “A New Way To Think About Dieting” section out loud:

 

YOU SAY: “All I have to do is exercise a lot, and the weight will come off.”

I SAY: Well yes—if you’ve got about five hours to spare every day. That four-mile walk you take every morning? It burns about 350 calories—not even a small bag of fries at McDonald’s. That hour of Pilates or yoga? Ditto—not even equal to a large chai latte at Starbucks.

 

What I love is that he’s offering practical insight, and then breaks it down to include a menu plan and recipes! Now that I’m making more meals at home, I’m super excited to try some of the new recipes in Bob’s book! THANK YOU, KATHY FOR THIS AWESOME GIFT!! 

 

Now, onto . . .

 

Treat #2

 

After I got home, I went up to the kitchen to get some things ready for the today’s breakfast, and noticed another little surprise! I live in a house with 5 other girls, so we utilize a community white board in our kitchen to share notes/updates on what’s going on around the house. As i looked at the board, I found a note from my friend who had stopped by earlier, saying that she had dropped off some bags of food for me! That’s right, I almost forgot—it’s Thursday—it’s gleaning day! My friend works with a gleaning co-op every Thursday and on her way home, drops off some extra bags of fruits, veggies, etc. for me to use in my meals in the next week. These are foods that are nearing the end of their shelf life, so the stores can’t sell them, but they are still ripe for use so they give them to the gleaning co-op free for the taking. So anyone who is part of the co-op gets to go on certain days to pick out whatever and however much they want from the bins to take home. I was so EXCITED to see the 2 bags full of mushrooms, oranges, corn on the cob, cucumbers, lettuce, and spelt flour bread!!

 

Um… did I read that right?? CAKE???

 

As my curiosity about the CAKE that was mentioned began to pique, I walked into the main kitchen area and saw exactly what she had done. She had left me a GIGANTIC cake on my counter.

 

What the pho?? Grocery store cake is no place for a mighty warrior!!

 

You guys, I have a GINORMOUS cake sitting on my counter!!! hahahhahahhahaha!!! All I could do was laugh super hard. I took a closer look and was so disgusted. In fact, I actually looked at it and said, “Sick.” out loud. Yeah, no thanks. There’s NO WAY I’m putting that sugarfied over-processed junk in my body! hahaha! So I did the only think I could think of . . . and mind you, I’m not proud of this . . . I offered it up to my housemates. This morning, I noticed a big piece missing from the corner and I felt terrible. For all my healthy eating and focusing on encouraging the same in my housemates, I just set them up for failure. So, when I get home, whatever isn’t eaten is going in the dumpster. So, dear friend that drops off my yummy produce with love, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE FRUITS AND VEGGIES AND SPELT BREAD!!! . . . And thank you for the laugh with the cake! 😉

I went to bed smiling at the SWEET* irony of getting THE SKINNY RULES and then heading home to this behemoth slab ‘o’ nast! hahaha!

 

And this concludes Story Time With Amo!

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Seize The Day

It’s  like Santa crapped unicorns all over my life!!!

 

That’s exactly what I said to one of my housemates this morning as she was making her breakfast. I had no idea just how much of a rollercoaster ride my day was going to be when I woke up early this morning to bake my Strawberry Shortcake Muffins. By the way, these are totally NOMTASTIC!

 

I spent most of the morning frustrated because I woke up SUPER early—and I’m SO not a morning person—to make these and realized midway through blending the batter (MEGA apologies to my housemates for the 5am blender alarm) that I was short on a couple of ingredients. So I ran down the street in my pajamas through the pouring rain to get supplies at the grocery store. When I got back to blending, the double batch blend wasn’t mixing quite right and in my mad attempt to help it along, the mixing spatula I was using disconnected from the handle and fell deep into the blended mix. So I had to reach my hand in the batter to grab it, thus coating my hand in that oatmeal texturized batter. The texture just grossed me out for some odd reason and I had to wash my hands immediately, while trying not to get my bandaged finger on the other hand wet in my mad rush to get this goo off of me. Time was running out before I needed to leave to catch the bus to work, and then as I put them in, I realized I forgot to add the strawberry slices on top! So I quickly cut up the extra slices, placed them on top and then put them in to bake. Right about then, I got a VERY IMPORTANT phone call!

 

 

It was my best friend, Sarah, calling to talk about my upcoming trip out to Baltimore for our annual 4th of July Birthday Getaway. Every year, we make it a point to get together around the 4th of July weekend to celebrate her Birthday, which is on July 3rd, and my 1/2 Birthday. Last year, she flew out to Seattle. The year before, I had flown out to Baltimore. This year, I’m heading back out to Baltimore! I love when I get to go to Baltimore because Sarah and I get to take a day trip out to one of my most beloved destinations—NEW YORK CITY! I seriously heart New York. If I wasn’t so sure I’d go broke and be living on the streets in 2 weeks, I’d live there! As a bonafide city girl, NYC is heaven on Earth! Sarah had called me last night in a panic concerning a great big Birthday surprise. Her parents, who have adopted me as their own—and who I absolutely respect and adore with every inch of my heart—decided they would get us a joint Birthday (and well, pretty much *every* celebratory day in between) present:

 

Train tickets to get to and fro for our annual NYC day trip,

Tickets for Sarah & I to see NEWSIES on Broadway,

and

an overnight hotel stay for us at a hotel in Times Square!

 

 

Now, lemme just tell ya—just going to Baltimore to spend time with my best friend is a huge blessing! Getting to spend a day and evening in NYC with my best friend is a super rad cherry on top. But getting to sit next to my best friend on the whole planet as we toe-tap and sing along to our favorite musical (No, seriously, we watch it EVERY time we travel to see each other and can quote it and sing all the numbers and we just fangirl about it like no other!) on Broadway is AMAZEBALLS!

 

 

 

 

The only setback was that they had accidentally booked all the tickets for the day that I was scheduled to fly in, which meant I would need to call the airline and find some way to schedule my flight the day before. I was nervous about how this would affect my work schedule and other events I’d already committed to on that day, but I knew that no matter what, I HAD to get to Baltimore the day before! There is NO WAY I’m gonna pass up this opportunity! It was late when they called, so my plan was to call the airline on my ride-in to work. But thankfully, Sarah called me as I had just put the muffins in the oven and started on the dishes to say that her mom actually called the theater and hotel and train station and were able to change the ticket dates on all of that, so I didn’t have to change ANY of my plans! The rush of relief was huge, but still minuscule compared to the next thing she shared with me. Not only were we able to get the tickets to the show switched over, but our new seats on the next day are FRONT ROW Orchestra seats!!!

 

See the red arrows??? That’s gonna be US!!!!

 

After five minutes of flipping out with excitement and nearly crapping my pants, I finally finished up the dishes and said goodbye to Sarah so that I could pull the muffins out of the oven and put my shoes on before running to my bus stop. As I was on the bus, I was crying tears of joy because not only do I get to make my once-a-year trip to see my best friend, but we get to share a VERY special moment together to celebrate our lives and our friendship!

 

My text convo with her went something like this as I rode in to work:

Me: I’m on the bus, big grinnin’ like a mofo! Ohhhhhhh can it be July already?!?!?  😀 😀 😀 😀 ❤

Sarah: BAAAHAHAHHAHAHA! YESS!!!!!!! omgomgomgomgomg!! =^D

Me: My heart is seriously beating outta my chest! 😀 

Sarah: Sorry, I just fainted!!!!!!!

Me: Fairy tales DO come true! Praise the Lord!! And the best part is I get to chill with you on Cloud 9!! 😀

Sarah: They DO!! I’m so excited to see your face! That’s the best gift anyone could give me! Newsies is just a bonus! We are going to be neck-deep in shenanigans!

I couldn’t have said it better myself! In exactly 4 weeks, I will be on a plane headed out to see one of my favorite families and embrace all sorts of new adventures! I still have NO idea what I ever did to deserve such an incredible best friend and extended family, but I spent this morning completely humbled and honored and emotional at the incredible leaps and bounds that happened to make this upcoming trip possible. I owe SO MANY thanks to Sarah and her parents for this completely amazeballs gift!!  So, Jerry, Shelley, and Sarah, if you’re reading this, give yourself 100 hugs, 50 smooches, 25 good games, and 15 manly man burps—I’m sending LOTS of love your way until I see you in 4 weeks!!!! 😀 

Now, we only have one minor problem! We haven’t decided exactly which local hot spots we wanna check out in the city. SO here’s where YOU come in!

What local hot spots should we check out when we’re in NYC?

Leave a comment and let us know!


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Sweet Surrender

I’ve been clean for 5 months now . . .

I mean, we are talking about my eating lifestyle here, now aren’t we?!?

Ohhhh. Gotcha. Let me clarify. I’ve been eating clean for 5 months now. There, I said it. I know, I know, you’re probably wondering what the heck that even means. Well, you see, about 5 months ago, my trainer talked to me briefly about this diet (food lifestyle) called CLEAN EATING. I must admit, upon first hearing about it, I was a skeptic. Was it a fad diet? If so, I don’t want it. Do I have to give up meat? DEAL BREAKER Big Time! Is it going to make me stop eating the foods I love? Not interested. So, as per usual, he shared the info and I took the thought home to mull it over. I thought about it over and over. I wondered if I could ever actually adopt that as a food lifestyle. Would it make me miserable? Would it make me a loser when I was out to eat with friends? Would I be subjected to surrender to “salads only” for eternity? Once I was done hyper-analyzing the proposition of taking it on, I did some online research, read reviews, checked high and low for faults . . . and found none. It actually seemed pretty practical. Here’s the jist of clean eating:

Eating Clean is not about deprivation. It’s not about giving up one food group or another. Eating Clean is about giving your body what it needs to thrive. You will get to know which foods are the lifeblood that sustains you and makes you whole, and which foods to steer clear of because of the way they destroy your body.

You have only one body. It’s yours for life. If your body spends all its time trying to rid itself of the garbage you put into it, how will it perform optimally? What you put into it dictates every moment of every day. It dictates whether you are lean, overweight, or obese. It dictates whether you have energy to spare or find yourself falling asleep at your desk. When you give your body everything it needs, it will run along so smoothly you won’t even give it a second thought … that is, until you catch a glimpse of yourself in a window and think about how amazing you look!

The Eat-Clean Diet® lifestyle doesn’t require you to pay a monthly fee or to buy special prepackaged foods. Eating Clean is about choosing fresh, whole foods with all of their nutrients intact. Eating Clean will help you eat your way to a fitter and healthier you no matter your age or current fitness level.

You can read more about it HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE

When I embarked on eating clean, I knew I’d need some help (okay, a LOT of help!). So I kept up with my food log and weekly scheduled meetings with my food accountability partner, Maggie. Having her on this journey has helped me grow by leaps and bounds! Each week we look over my food log and talk about where I need to improve, when I need to eat more/less, which foods to try adding in to my meal plans, and the emotions/thoughts behind why I’m eating what and when. She is a total way-maker! I mean, considering the fact that when I lived in Austin, TX, my normal lunch consisted of:

Please note the insane amount of sugar here! :O Holy sweet tooth, Batman!

A foot-long chili-cheese dog from Sonic
A large order of chili-cheese tater tots
A route 44 Lemon Berry Slush
A  Reese’s PB Blast for dessert

and *since* it was just down the road,

A Venti Carmel Macchiato from Starbucks for the 15 minute drive back to work.
I mean, c’mon, a girl’s gotta have her coffee!

I’m sure you can just imagine what it would be like to be a deep-fried-food loving Southern chick presented with the idea of eating clean.
I mean, c’mon, french fries are TOTALLY a vegetable, right?!? I guess it’s a good thing that I am equal parts ambitious, curious, and a lover of a good challenge!

Now that I have cleaned up my diet and have embraced this new eating lifestyle,
THIS is my lunch:

Slow Cooker Southwestern 2 Bean Chicken
Grilled Asparagus w/ Feta
Fresh Fruits 
Glass of water

Yeah, I know . . . COMPLETE 180°

The crazy awesome thing is that my new “clean” lunches keep me more energized and full longer than any of my old lunches. And I don’t have that heavy weighed-down feeling afterward. I feel like my body is happy and ready to take on what the rest of the day has in store for me. And they’re SUPER tasty! In fact, as I was eating my grilled asparagus with feta yesterday, I seriously licked my lips and said (out loud) “Oh feta asparagus, I wanna marry you!” What? Have you never proposed to your food for tasting incredible??? Ooooohkay. Just me then. :-/

But wait . . . there’s MORE!

Another huge thing that my personal trainer at 24 Hr. Fitness has helped me with in developing a healthy fit life is setting challenging, practical, attainable monthly goals. Each month, I set A FITNESS GOAL, A LIFESTYLE GOAL, and a NUMBERS GOAL. For instance, these were my goals for February:

FITNESS: Work out at the gym at least 4x a week

LIFESTYLE: Eat ONE fish meal this month. (I know that fish is a healthier option, but I have a strong passionate DISLIKE for it. However, I’ve made it a mission and have successfully worked it in every month since!)

NUMBERS: Weigh in under 200 lbs. by the end of February

And my goals for May:

FITNESS: Dedicate 1 day a week to running & participate in The Color Run

LIFESTYLE: Complete the Clean Eater’s No-Sugar Challenge

NUMBERS: Drop 8lbs. by the end of May

Yes, my friends, you read that right! Complete the Clean Eater’s No-Sugar Challenge!!! (hosted by one of my favorite blogs: THE GRACIOUS PANTRY). I debated big time about taking on this challenge for two weeks before finally deciding I was ready to embrace my inner Ambitious Annie and step up to the plate to go for it. Now, you may be wondering what all this challenge entails. Well, here it is:

GUIDELINES

  1. No foods that have added sugar of any kind.
    No added natural sugars (honey, molasses, agave, etc.) Basically, if it has added sugar of any kind (natural or otherwise), don’t eat it. This includes any and all artificial sweeteners which are not considered part of a clean eating diet anyway. Note: When I say no sugar, I mean no added sugar. There will be naturally occurring sugars in milk and yogurt as well as in fruit. That’s okay. The idea is to give up ADDED sugars. So when you read a nutrition label, look at the actual list of ingredients. NOT the % of sugar per serving.
  2. Drink 1 nutrient dense smoothie per day. (Sample Smoothie recipes here)

FRUIT

You are allowed up to 3 pieces of fruit per day. Why? Because while fruit does contain plenty of natural sugars, it is also an important part of any healthy eating plan. So this means, you can have 1 small to medium apple/orange/ banana/handful of berries/grapes/etc., three times each day. The possibilities are only as limited as your local grocery store. But you must limit yourself to no more than 3 pieces per day. Keep in mind that the fruit from your daily smoothie DOES count towards that 3 pieces of daily fruit.

What happens after one month?

The idea here is to help break the sugar addiction that even clean eaters can fall into from time to time. Even I am guilty, and I only eat honey and maple syrup. The problem is, I’ve caught myself eating more and more of it recently, and that needs to stop if my weight loss goals are to remain achievable.

So after the one month, I personally will most likely allow myself only 1 clean, sweet treat per week, just to keep things in control.

What you do after the 1 month is really up to you. You have to decide if this 1 month will get you ahead, or just be a hiccup in your regular routine. It all comes down to your current health goals.

PLEASE NOTE: While stevia is not sugar, it is also not allowed on this challenge as is the case with any sugar substitutes, including things like Xylitol. The idea here is to get you past the NEED for something sweet.

In taking on this challenge, I really wanted to work hard to beat my sweet tooth. The first week was BRUTAL! I had to replace my coffee a couple of times right out of the gate because I instinctively poured honey in my morning drip. Cutting out honey really made me realize just HOW MUCH I used it as a sweetener, which isn’t bad, but dang—I used it like most use ketchup! :O

I really don’t think I would’ve conquered this challenge without the help of my life and food accountability partners. There was actually a night that I was in Target and I was purchasing something from the lower level. However, my mind automatically lured me up to the chocolate section on the 2nd level, even though nothing on the 2nd floor was on my shopping list. I just ended up there. I stared at the wall of chocolate. I got close and sniffed the chocolate. Then I walked away . . . and back again . . . FIVE TIMES in a row. I seriously felt like a crack addict. 😐 I texted my accountability partner and she helped me fight the cravings for a bit. Then, my mom called and I wandered downstairs, eventually leaving the store empty-handed.

The tricky thing is that part of a balanced clean diet includes the occasional indulgence. So if I wasn’t doing the challenge, I’d totally allow myself a small sweet treat. But now, all my sweet treats were off-limits! Have you ever read a list of ingredients—even in “healthy” foods to see how much added sugar is in there??? It astounded me! Grocery shopping became tougher because I would just walk up and down the ice cream aisle lusting over my boyfriends, Ben & Jerry. I would open the freezer case door, put my face close to the pint and then snap out of it, shut the door and back away slowly.

Mochi is love

The same thing happened with treats (even added fruit) that my co-workers would bring to the office. One of my co-workers is from Japan and had gone home to visit. She brought back a case of Mochi. Mochi . . . is a major love and weakness in my life—I LOVE MOCHI!!! I walked up to the case, opened it, pulled out a piece of wrapped mochi and held it in my hand. I pet it and I put it back in the case and SLOWLY backed away. I didn’t just turn and walk away, I SLOWLY backed away, looking at it longingly. Yes, my friends, it was apparent—I have a major sweet tooth problem!

The mind games were endless and I had so many moments of whining during accountability meetings. One day I sent an e-mail to my food accountability partner that said:

I want a cupcake. I want a cupcake. Why are cupcakes so good? Why can’t I have a cupcake?? Damn you, no-sugar challenge!!! I want a cupcake!! Great. Now I’m drawing pictures of cupcakes. :”'(  Cup. Cake. This no-sugar thing is BRUTAL. Why aren’t we threatening terrorists with this challenge? They’d leave us alone. I know they would.

To which she replied:

Cupcakes are pretty, but they are full of oil and useless carbs. Cupcakes are for special occasions, like celebrating going a month without sugar. Cupcakes are an illusion of joy and satisfaction. Celery is good. Yum yum yum celery. Me like. Re: terrorist threats— brilliant idea. Move over Hilary Clinton.

There was nothing easy about this challenge, but having Maggie on my side through it all made it doable! I brought my doubts, my fears, my excuses, and she walked with me through it all, helping me to realize that I really DO have what it takes to beat both the minor and major obstacles in my life and that I don’t have to let those obstacles rule my life the way I’d let them for so long.

For the past couple of days, I’ve had lofty visions of gorging on chocolates, cookies, lemon bars (my fave), cheesecake, and the like once this challenge is over. But I know that if I do just gorge on those, I’ll throw up and have the WORST stomach ache ever! The good thing is that I have some great healthy treats that I can choose from on the way to Leavenworth today and all through the weekend. Even knowing that I’ll be going on a hike on Sunday (and that we didn’t get to make the homemade Lara Bars thanks to my recent injury), I opted today to buy my favorite Oatmeal Squares to take with me as a back-up on the hike:

instead of my sweet indulgence of an energy bar:

I also packed a bunch of broccoli and carrots, an apple, almonds, bananas, cherries, brown rice cakes, and some watermelon as my go-to’s so that I don’t overindulge in the wrong things over the weekend. Overall, I’m REALLY glad I did this challenge. It was tough. It brought out the worst in me. However, it also brought out the best in me. Because I learned more about what my body really NEEDS and I developed even more self-control, which will help me maintain my healthy weight-loss goal once I get there. Speaking of . . .

The BIG Payoff is that before taking on this challenge, I was 10 lbs. away from my goal weight. Now, if you’ve heard anything through the fitness grapevine, it’s that the last 10 pounds is the HARDEST to lose. Some tout is as near impossible, and maybe it is, and maybe it still will be for me. However, thanks to my clean eating and fitness lifestyle, I think this challenge really helped because I am now only 2.5 pounds away from my doctor’s prescribed goal weight!!! I could not be MORE excited!!

So now the month is over and I’ve officially been able to go a month without sugar, I’ve gotta admit that the thought of re-introducing sugars back into my system is a bit scary and overwhelming.  I mean, don’t get me wrong—I’m gonna do it—I love the way my coffee tastes with honey! But now I’m going to be more aware, and I’m pretty sure my body will be more sensitive to sweets and I’ll have to adjust. My taste buds have already been changing over the past couple of weeks and it’s probably going to shock them when I start eating more fruits than my month-long limit of 3 servings. But I’m ready to take it one day at a time and I’ve set new goals for next month that I now feel even more confident about conquering!