Lime Shrimp Salad

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I have been craving salads a lot recently, which is definitely welcome to me. Even when I don’t totally feel like a salad one way I motivate myself to eat healthier is to make my food look really appetizing. I think when you make your salads really colorful and interesting it definitely makes them more appealing. I wanted to use different colored tomatoes but my grocery store only had red ones.

Anyhow, last night I made this lime shrimp salad. It was a very simple recipe but it was really good and very flavorful. I just soaked some peeled shrimp with fresh lime juice and added some salt and ground black pepper.

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It doesn’t need to be cooked very long. I just cooked it in a pan with some Pam spray for about 5 minutes with the lid closed.

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I then set them aside on a plate to cool and put more freshly squeezed lime juice over them. For the salad I just used a mixed spring leaf mix with avocado, green onions, a yellow bell pepper and a red tomato.

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I think you could use just about any salad dressing with this, but probably simple is better. I just used balsamic vinegar on mine and my husband used Italian dressing. I think that’s the great thing about salads because you can change it up by just using different dressings. I think one thing that would have made this even better would have been to add black olives.

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This was a really simple dinner idea but it was surprisingly flavorful and good. I will definitely be having this again. It was a nice change from having a steak salad because red meat can still be pretty heavy, even in a salad.

 

Healthier options for a lunch break.

Yesterday on my lunch break at work I was starving and of course did not bring anything for lunch. I don’t always have a lot of time to find something to eat and even though I work at a pretty large outdoor mall all the close options are either expensive, time-consuming, or just plain unhealthy. I didn’t want to just give in and go to the food court so I ended up driving to the Chick Fil-A nearby. I knew that if I just completely skipped lunch I would just be starving later, and I also didn’t want to eat something like a burger. I ended up choosing an option from the kids menu, which ended up being really good. What I got will look and sound ridiculous but to have something just to eat and hold me over till dinner it was pretty good and pretty healthy.

So this is what I got: Orange juice, grilled chicken strips, and an apple and cinnamon blended thing which was pretty much like baby food to me. Seriously I think it was baby food like you get in those small mason jars with the blended apple or banana things. But I drank it and it was pretty delicious.

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So the funny thing about this is that the serving of chicken I got is probably what a proper serving size is for an adult. This also cost $5.00 and some change which is pretty good. Now I wouldn’t eat this as a usual lunch because I like my greens, but as an option if I don’t have my lunch it is really good. I love finding healthy options when I’m out because it helps me stick to my healthier lifestyle. The other thing I get if I don’t have my lunch or breakfast is Jamba Juice. They now have healthier juices with fruit and vegetables and I always choose the Apples and Greens option which has a mix of fruit and vegetables (obviously), and also has Spiralina which is an amazing vitamin/supplement.

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Roasted Eggplant

As someone who loves eggplant I constantly try to find new ways of making it. Eggplant is not the easiest thing to cook because it has a weird texture, and the seeds inside make it very bitter. My mum would always make this casserole with eggplant and it always tasted perfect. If I try to make the same thing it doesn’t taste anywhere near her cooking. But I’m Persian and Persian cooking is usually an all-day affair. A lot of times they actually advise you to let the eggplant sit while soaking in salt but I just don’t have the patience for that kind of thing!

So anyhow, I wanted to try roasted eggplant because it sounded delicious and searched for a few recipes online. After trial and error I found that the best way to cook eggplant is at 420°F for 1 hour. It is also best to cut the eggplant in half and cutting the eggplant in diamond cross-hatch patterns. It is also a good idea to use a good amount of salt to reduce the bitterness from the seeds. A lot of the recipes also called for a lot of oil but that didn’t sound entirely healthy so I actually found that cooking with Earth Balance (dairy free) butter was best. I simply spread about a tablespoon of the Earth Balance butter on each half, which isn’t terrible especially if you are just eating the eggplant. The Earth Balance butter is usually made up of good fats also. For some reason the butter also made the eggplant come out better than the oil to me.  And for other seasonings you could pretty much put anything you wanted on it like thyme or lemon. Being the spice freak that I am I of course put chili flakes on mine. I honestly think eggplant when roasted tastes best simple, with only salt to season.

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So after an hour the eggplant looked like this using oil:

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With the Earth Balance butter it came out like this:

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So I think you can see a difference. With the oil the eggplant was still somewhat dry. With the butter the eggplant came out perfect and even the skin ended up crispy, which was delicious. You may think you shouldn’t eat the skin but it actually contains a lot of vitamins. The skin of the eggplant actually has a phytonutrient called nasunin, which is a powerful antioxidant that is highly beneficial for your brain, cardiovascular health, and even for women who can lose a lot of iron. So overall this was a really easy way of cooking eggplant that came out really well. I’ve tried slow-cooking it in my crockpot and it didn’t turn out great, so this is definitely something I often make now to eat for lunch.

Reenergized and Motivated

After eating really healthy and working out for over two months I felt so frustrated that I had hit a complete plateau. I was saying to myself, “How much less can I possibly eat?”. I already felt like I was barely eating anything, especially since my schedule means that I often don’t eat lunch at all. So once I had finished my last semester and went on a small vacation I started off good, but by the end of it I was so fed up and feeling burnt out that I started eating poorly. I have to admit there are times in my weight loss journey where I wonder what the difference is in eating clean and eating junk, because either way I wasn’t losing any weight! But after eating poorly for about two weeks now, I have the answer to that question. There is a huge difference. Since I have been eating complete rubbish again I have noticed that I feel foggy, unable to concentrate and more than anything, I just feel lazy and disappointed in myself. Even though I wasn’t losing weight as fast as I wanted to, I should have reevaluated my goals and readjusted what wasn’t working. That’s what you do with any plan. You observe your progress along the way, and anything that isn’t working you have to go in and figure out why. Then you implement a better approach to produce real results. When I look back there are a lot of things I could have improved upon. I recently found a really inspiring blogger called The DMMD Lifestyle Revolution http://dmmddiet.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/weekly-photo-update-week-7/ and he conducted an SWOT analysis on himself. I thought it was a really useful tool in analyzing the efficiency and progress of your goals. So I’m going to try it here myself and I actually found that some of my answers were the same as his.

Strengths

  • Past success with losing weight.
  • Determination to succeed.
  • Available resources to aid in exercise and a healthy diet (free gym, beautiful suburb to walk in, my juicer, steamer, e.t.c….)
  • A partner that often helps support me to succeed.

Weaknesses

  • Not having a set schedule.
  • Having a dog that doesn’t walk well.
  • Anxiety.

Opportunities

  • Make time to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day.
  • Make exercise a priority.
  • Lead by example.
  • Eat lighter meals for dinner.

Threats

  • Living with someone who also has their own vices.
  • Anxiety
  • Work overload with school and work.

When I look at this I really realize that I have all the resources to achieve my goal, but I let little things hold me back. I don’t want to say that not living in a completely supportive environment is holding me back. The first time I lost the weight I absolutely did not have a supportive environment. My family and friends weren’t into fitness or healthy food and I actually lost a lot of my friends because they didn’t like that I was losing weight. But I was so dedicated that I focused on my goal and just did it. My mum actually said to me afterwards that she was really inspired by my dedication because I would not let anything get in my way. And now even though my husband isn’t totally into health and fitness like me, I shouldn’t let that hold me back. I think when you’re married or even living with your partner it’s easy to engage in mutually destructive behavior. You justify each other’s actions, and it becomes difficult to separate yourself from them and do your own thing. But I am the only one responsible for my actions and I need to do what I have to do. Even though life would be so much easier with a life coach and a fitness coach 24/7 that is not the reality for most people. We have to be our own life and fitness coach.

My brother shared this video on Facebook today and it really got me motivated to get back into this and turn it up. I must admit that I feel kind of lame for not being able to come on here and say, hey I lost all the weight now, and I’ve arrived. I think the reality with most goals and journey’s is that, it takes time, persistence and dedication. I like other bloggers and people losing weight have made significant progress. Katie Foley from Bringing my Sexy Back did her 5K marathon in Boston which was awesome (http://katiefoley11.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/5k-success/), Rebecca from Healthy Intentions is significantly building up her stamina (http://healthywithintent.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/still-trucking-along/), The DMMD Lifestyle Revolution continues to see weight loss and fitness progress (http://dmmddiet.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/day-52-sub-15-minute-mile/), and even I am able to do more weights and more squats than I ever have and lost 20lbs.  So I may not be where i wan’t to be yet, but I haven’t given up.

This is a short video about the beauty of hard work and dedication.

An off week & a question for you all

I have not written a blog post in a few weeks and I’ve missed it! I have had a very hectic couple of weeks and after my last finals I had two weeks off from school. It was definitely a much needed break because I was just studying non stop. I went to Vegas again for my husband’s birthday, and this time we went to see some more scenery and headed up to Red Rock Mountains. It was beautiful there and we took a very short hike. If I had the right shoes on I would have liked to go further, even in the high heat of the desert! In the second photo you will see we saw some weird spiral rock formation.

IMG_3149IMG_3200So, I wanted to come on and admit my failures and the fact that I am a hypocrite. I know the last couple of posts have been very positive and my last post was about being committed wherever you are. But, being on vacation and then coming back to a lot of stress made me fall off track for a week. I don’t deal well with stress and that paired with my anxiety disorder is why I developed an addiction to food in the first place. I just wanted to come on and be real and admit that the journey to a goal is not always perfect. I’m not perfect and I have my weaknesses that can rear their ugly head now and then. I have never been someone who eats when they’re depressed. In fact that is the time I don’t eat anything! But when I am really stressed I have difficulty coping with it well and it is something I continue to work on.

I have been stressed because I am now in my last semester before I graduate with my AA degree with a 4.0 GPA. I have really worked my butt off in school and it has been my priority. But lately I have really been stressing about what major to pick and I am torn between how viable it is to follow your passion, and whether I should choose stability and security instead. I could very well have both but it is stressful! In our current time when technology is changing rapidly, the work market isn’t the same. Having a degree is now just 50% of what you need, when it used to be ALL you needed. But I’m not going to go into that in this post.

Other than that our lease on our apartment was ending so we were looking for a new place to live, and home hunting is almost as trying as job hunting! Long story short we decided to stay where we are because we like it, it was just expensive. So now there is the stress of having to work harder to pay crazy So-Cal rent prices. The fact is though that for me when things are really stressful and more so undecided and unknown, that is usually when I lose control. It’s hard to stay on track when you don’t know what life will be in a month from now, or two months from now. I didn’t know where I was going to live, whether I should move back to Australia, which school to study my BA in, nothing. That really affects a goal achieving process. In order to be successful, you really need to lay a strong foundation down and have a plan. Being wishy-washy and indecisive gets you nowhere. This was just a very strange week too because my lovely grandmother-in-law passed away and I wished that I had gotten to know her better and driven down to San Diego to see her more. My dad also finally sold his business that he owned for 20 years!

During these times when life gets crazy and you don’t have control over things, you have to let go and let things work out. One of my favourite quotes:

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I think it is during these times, and afterwards that we can really see what we truly want. After this past week of eating poorly I really saw just how much I hate the way I used to eat. It has only been one week and I already feel drained and just plain disgusting. It’s only been a week and I already don’t feel as confident about the way I look as when I was on track. It really shows how important eating well is both physically and mentally. And the danger is that the longer you let it go on, the harder it gets to get back on track. It doesn’t help to beat yourself up over it, just get back on track as soon as possible. Now that I am back in school I am getting right back on track and I am even going to try cutting meat out of my diet. I would like to become Pescetarian for both health and environmentally conscious reasons.

I have also been researching the whole idea of following your passion as a viable career choice. I think after the  “The Secret” came out everyone was almost misguided and disillusioned by the message of that film. I definitely believe in the law of attraction but I really wanted to look into what it really means and what it takes to truly live a life beyond obligations and necessity. I mean how many people do you know that are living or pursuing their passion? Even when I look at people who are doing well, or at least decent they are not living their passion.

So I’d like your input on this:

Is it better to pursue your passion, even if you risk failure and struggling financially? Or, is it better to pursue a career that isn’t necessarily your passion but that you have some interest in and could tolerate doing as work?

Commit To Health, Wherever You Are

…persistent psychological and sensory stimuli lead to what Kessler terms “conditioned hypereating,” – David Kessler , The End of Overeating

I have read quite a number of books about health and nutrition, and also seen a few documentaries about veganism, vegetarianism, and the farming industry. All of these things tell you about how we have been pushed towards more artificial foods with various marketing tactics. Bright packaging and uniform products. But yesterday when my husband and I were doing our grocery shopping at Walmart, which we rarely do, I really saw the reality of this. Walmart is definitely a great example of a huge warehouse full of brightly packaged, uniform, artificial crap. But it’s affordable and convenient crap. It was just interesting to me because like I said, I don’t really crave junk food anymore and have really moved into a more healthy way of life. When I was in Walmart though, all that bright, colorful packaging was honestly getting to me. They sell so many different types of candy, ice cream, cookies, chips, and other rubbish food. I was seeing that my mind was going to that place that wanted to justify eating that stuff, “just for today” and I really had to stop it before it got too far. I read a really great book called “The End of Overeating” by David Kessler, and one tip he gives is to not let yourself even entertain the idea of eating rubbish. He says that once the thought is in your head, it is very difficult to stop. It is better to visualize a big STOP sign and think of something else. That entire book is amazing, and explains how restaurants come up with menu items that cause people to become literally addicted, and needing more. Places like Cheesecake Factory and other huge chains have scientists creating menus based off of the knowledge that the more sugar, fat and carbs you put in a meal, the more people become addicted and crave more.

 

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To be honest, just looking around at the usual clientele of Walmart was enough to deter me from filling our cart with artificial food. I know that sounds mean, but you really look around and see a lot of obese people and then look into their carts and see jumbo sized boxes of chips, and economy sized tubs of ice-cream, with numerous bottles of soda. I just thought to myself, this is just absolute crap. Why would you put this artificially made rubbish with created colors and flavors into your body? I will admit I am definitely not perfect and I don’t eat like a perfect healthy person 24/7, but I just have not eaten that stuff for so long now that now it just looks foreign. When you look around though, the produce and meat sections with fresh food are rubbery, old and wilting. But then they have isles and isles of frozen and prepackaged food. It’s almost like they are pushing you to eat rubbish, instead of real food. I wasn’t able to find fresh asparagus, zucchini or the herbs I needed because they were all wilted.

I just want to say though that when you are really committed to being healthy, you can find healthy options no matter where you are. I was surrounded by very visually appealing boxes of sugar and carb laden food. I was even intrigued by the boxes of Hostess products, and I’ve never even eaten their food! They have apparently brought back Twinkies and whatever else it is they sell, and I found myself wanting to eat it. But, I’ve found that it’s key to remain conscious of what it is your eating. You have to look at what you’re buying and think, “Is this food, or is this like me buying drugs to give myself a high?”

This is part of what my groceries ended up being from Walmart. I also bought tuna, shrimp and tuna.IMG_3122

It just shows that even though it can be more difficult and expensive, you can find real, healthy food wherever you are. I would rather eat cherries and peaches, than eat a cocktail of carbs, fat and sugar dyed with color #4. It just leads to a vicious cycle of addiction where you are either craving salt and carbs, or sugar, over and over again. IMG_3105IMG_3109Walmart did have a good selection of tuna though, and I made a pretty yummy tuna salad today. They had different kinds with jalapeño and curry, but then again I am all about spicy food. I have really been liking putting green onions in my salads lately too. IMG_3098

Don’t fall into the trap of stimulating and visually appealing food. Wherever you are you can find healthier options. When you are really committed to being healthy and achieving a goal, you seek out what you need and ignore distractions. Remain conscious of what you are actually eating, and pick food as though you are picking vitamins and nutrients for your body. I think it’s terrible to let the industrial food production methods of our time trap us into a cycle of being addicted to poisonous food that has led to heightened rates of obesity and related health disorders and deaths.

Even though it’s silly because I’m no one big, I want to mention that I am not being endorsed to push David Kessler’s book, The End of Overeating. I bought it about 4 years ago and it is one of the best books you can read about the food industry and the science behind addiction. I am always a big believer of science rather than simple opinion by any random author. So I definitely appreciate the science and studies described in his book. Check it out if you can! You will never look at those big food chains the same way ever again!

 

 

 

Every. Damn. Day.

I haven’t been able to blog in a while because work and school have been hectic. I also had to help my in-law’s move last weekend, which was a 13 hour ordeal. One positive thing from that unfortunate event was that it was definitely the world’s greatest workout. I am considering becoming a mover because I’m pretty sure I’d lose the weight in 2 weeks that way. Thankfully I am somewhat sane, so I’m just going to go with no.

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1. Progress has been slow but rewarding.

This time around my weight loss has been much different than the first time. It has been almost painfully slow. The first time I was not well-informed and I just wanted to lose weight, fast. It was also when I was into that awful show, The Simple Life with Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton, and used them as body inspiration. I was much, much younger if that helps you understand why. Sadly, this involved trying to look like an 8 year old boy with no figure. As a result I lost a huge amount of weight in 6 months, and gained a new eating disorder.

What I have learnt this time around as I learn more and more about health and fitness is that slow and steady is the best way to lose weight. This is the only way to stick to your diet and make it into a lifestyle, not some task you have to complete so you can move on with your life. That is why my previous weight loss didn’t last very long.

2. The scale is the least accurate indicator of progress.

While the scale also shows I have been at the same weight for almost a month, I have lost 2 pant sizes and today saw that I fit into a skirt when I was at my goal weight. I also notice all around changes like my arms and legs have toned up, and so has my stomach. Another unfortunate indicator is that I have lost almost 2 cup sizes. I am definitely not a fan of that consequence of losing weight, but I don’t know how to set my body to “Only-Take-Fat-From-My-Thighs-Please”.

3. People are finally noticing my hard work.

One thing that definitely makes you feel good when you’re on track to losing the weight is when other people start noticing. When I Skyped with my mum she noticed immediately, which was motivating because no one at work has really said anything. I have lost about 20 pounds and when no one at work mentioned anything it made me feel as though I hadn’t lost a pound. But then when my sister-in-law asked me whether I had lost weight, I really knew I was making progress because my in-laws aren’t entirely expressive people and we rarely talk about personal things.

4. You have to exercise willpower.

Get ready to hear some more of my cheesy philosophy. I have learnt that willpower is like a muscle you have to exercise. The more you exercise willpower, the stronger it gets. Every time you choose to eat something healthy instead of crap, or every time you push yourself to workout, that desire to do those things becomes stronger and overpowers the laziness. I have seen after eating clean and working out for over 2 months now, that I love working out . My walks are not only a workout but it’s peaceful to be outside with beautiful scenery. I really try to take that time to be more present and stop thinking about 5 million things.

5. I don’t crave crappy food anymore.

The other weekend I wanted to let myself have a day off, but I just had no desire to eat anything unhealthy and actually chose a salad. The one weird craving I have now and then is Wheat Thins in the Sundried Tomato flavor. It’s funny when holidays come up and you feel like you should be joining others in celebration, by drinking alcohol and eating unhealthy food. 4th of July just passed and everyone was drinking and having BBQ’s. I had to work, but even after work I didn’t want to use that as a reason to eat. I used to use any reason I could for why I got to eat something delicious, and artery clogging. Now I always stop myself whenever I see myself going to eat for any kind of emotional reason.

Getting into the American spirit.

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6. I am addicted to exercise now.

I love exercising, and I like pushing myself further and further. I have seen several people recently wear the Nike shirt that says, “Every. Damn. Day” and I really like that. I actually really like a lot of Nike’s products and have gorgeous trainers by them that motivate me to get out more. I am definitely one of those people who buys fun workout clothes to get motivated to workout. No makeup though. I draw the line at makeup. Especially in 100 degree weather when I’m sweating a lung going up an incline.

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I’m starting to see that even though I’m not seeing results as quickly as I’d like, it has been consistent and I am making progress. Every week I notice changes in my body and my mind, so I’m just going to keep doing this every damn day until I get to the finish line.

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