Chicken Sweet Potato Hash with an Egg

I could try to name it something fancy, or just call it what it is. This is a good make ahead meal. 
Start with the hash…
– 1 lb ground chicken 
– 1 bell pepper, chopped
– 1 sweet potato, chopped
– olive oil and herbs to cook with
Sauté the sweet potatoes for a few minutes in a hot pan with the olive oil. Add the bell pepper for another couple minutes before adding the chicken. Season everything with herbs and spices of your choice. I went Italian style but you could do spicy too. 
You could leave it just like this. Put it on a bed of sautéed spinach even. As is, if divided into 4 portions, it is 1 red, 1/2 yellow, 1/2 green, 1 tsp. 
I heated mine up for lunch and put a runny egg on top of it. (Another 1/2 red.) Really yummy. Paired it with some snack bags of cauliflower and sugar snap peas to give me more veggies. 

5 Tips to Break a Weightloss Plateau

If you’ve ever traveled down the path of any fitness or weightloss journey, you’ve probably experienced the dreaded PLATEAU. You’re rocking along, dropping pounds, gaining muscles, busting it out, and BAM! Suddenly, you’re going nowhere. And it’s frustrating! What you were doing was working, and now it’s not?!?!?

What Causes a Plateau?


1. Adaptation – Our bodies are these amazing survival machines that adapt to the caloric intake and output over time. If you’ve been doing the same workouts, eating the same meals for a while now, there’s a good chance that your metabolism has adapted to become the most efficient for your daily routine. That’s great if we are cavemen trying to chase mammoths, not so much for moms chasing toddlers, lawyers chasing deadlines, or students chasing good grades (or beer). 
2. Complacency – When we begin a workout or diet program, we are often super vigilant about getting the work in, counting calories, tracking the macros, etc. But as time passes, we get complacent and slack off a bit in the intensity department. This isn’t a bad thing in itself since it means our new healthy lifestyle is becoming our ‘normal’ lifestyle, But it can mean that little slips can make their way in unnoticed. Suddenly, we’re putting cream in our coffee again, using butter to cook our eggs instead of coconut oil, allowing ourself just one cookie…everyday… We get busy and miss a workout here or there…every week… 
3. Body Composition – If you’ve got 60 pounds to lose and don’t workout or eat healthy at all, simple changes are going to make a HUGE impact immediately. The more you have to lose, and the less your body is used to a health lifestyle, the quicker you will have results from your health and fitness program. But if you’ve only got 10-20 left to lose and have been doing the fitness thing for a while, it’s going to take longer. That’s just how it works. Vanity weight takes longer. Let me say that again. Vanity weight takes LONGER. You’re body is already fairly healthy and will have to be convinced to let go of those last few pounds. 

So What Do I Do About It?

DON’T GIVE UP. You can break your plateau. Here’s some tips to get you over that hump…
1. Distract yourself with another goal, and just keep going. Put the scale away for a few weeks. Find a goal that doesn’t involve pounds, inches, etc. Do a squat challenge. Train for a race. Something, anything, to get your mind off of the numbers. And keep going. Give it 3-4 weeks and see if you’re body will jump back into gear. A lot of times it will if you just quick freaking out about it. 
2. Get vigilant again. Track your intake, food, water, everything. You may be surprised that you’ve let a few extra calories slip in, or aren’t eating the protein that you should be. Make sure you haven’t gotten slack on your diet or are cutting workouts short unnecessarily. 
3. UP your calories! You heard me. Make sure to do #2 first. If you haven’t been slipping and adding extra in your intake, then do it purposefully. Make sure it’s some good extras, like lean protein or healthy fat. For example, if you’re intake is normally around 1500, eat 1900 to 2200 for 2 or 3 days. Then drop back down to your normal 1500. This may wake up your metabolism in case it’s gotten into starvation mode and started to shut down. Also, make sure you’re not falling below 1200 calories per day as a woman or 1500 for men. That WILL cause you to enter starvation mode. 
4. Change things up! Try a new workout program. Incorporate in some cross-training. Your muscles have adapted to what you’ve been doing so throw something new at them. If you’re not really sure what you want to do, or don’t want to commit to a totally new program, get a Team Beachbody membership and try the Beachbody On Demand streaming workouts. You get a 30 day free trial (no hassle to cancel on day 29), and it’s only $2.99/week after that if you like it. There are DOZENS of new workout programs on there to play with and wake up your body. 
5. Get your hormones checked. If all else fails, check your hormones. Your thyroid, insulin, etc. may be going a bit haywire. That’s a last resort, of course. 
I’ve had some hormone imbalance issues holding me back from weightloss before. Nothing big enough to flag on a test or require medication, luckily, but big enough that I felt it and dealt with the symptoms regularly. I was able to level out and fix by imbalance issues by making sure I got all my vitamins, minerals, and superfoods. I was taking gobs of vitamin pills until I finally gave into Shakeology. I also added weightlifting into my routine with the 21 Day Fix. My results from the combined complete nutrition and shaking up my fitness routine were mind-blowing. So, if you’ve hit a wall on your fitness goals, run through these tips to see if you can’t break that. 

What is Intermittent Fasting and How Does It Work?

No, really. I’m asking you…

I listened to a podcast from the Chalene Show a couple weeks ago about intermittent fasting. It was a dieting concept that I had never heard of and was totally skeptical about at first.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

When I first heard them talking about this, I immediately thought, “This is starving yourself and ruining your metabolism.” But then I started hearing the intricacies of it.
Intermittent fasting, explained simply so silly people like me can understand it, it not eating at all for 16-24 hours, then following that period by eating what you would normally consume over the course of one full day in 4-8 hours. 
There are several versions of this: 
– 16 hours fasting + 8 hours eating (focus on high protein)
– 24 hours of very low calories cycled with 24 hours of regular caloric intake
– 20 hours fasting + 4 hours eating (based on cavemen – fo’ real, what is the fascination with cavemen?)
This seemed crazy until I realized the fasting hours included the time that you sleep. Which makes the 16/8 version seem almost normal. If you sleep 6-8 hours, don’t eat til lunch, then make sure not to snack after dinner, you’re golden. 
The big point too is that you aren’t eating LESS; you aren’t really skipping meals. You’re just packing them into a shorter time frame. If you were told to eat 1700 calories per day, you still do. Just within your eating hours. So your body is getting the fuel, calories, nutrients it needs, but just in a specific scheduled block. 
The whole science behind it is to lower your blood glucose during your fasting hours, thereby lowering your insulin production. Less glucose and less insulin means your body may burn stored fat as fuel.

Is that really a good idea? 

This is certainly not without its downsides and dangers. There is a definite chance your body could burn protein (muscle!) as fuel too. Supplements and protein powders are supposed to prevent this though. Also, doing it for too long could cause your metabolism to start adjusting to the starvation mode. No bueno!

If you have blood sugar problems, it’s not a good idea. No diabetic comas, please.

So, basically, you need a professional to help you do this and avoid the potential pitfalls.

Why would anyone WANT to do this?

Full disclosure. I do NOT plan on trying IF. Eating frequent small meals during the day (the frequent feeding model) is working for me. I’m a natural grazer; I’m probably part Guernsey. I get all shaky and ‘hangry’ if I go without food for too long. And I’m a BIG believer in breakfast. It’s my favorite meal. Take breakfast from me, and what is the point of getting up?
Okay, sorry, so why would someone else (not me) want to do this? Because EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. There are some of you who have to choke down breakfast. You don’t want to eat it. It makes you gag a bit. Well, this might be for you. If you’ve been trying the frequent feeding model and aren’t seeing results, or have to force yourself to choke down your food when you’re not hungry, then IF might be something to look into. 

Where can I find out more?

If you’re interested, make sure to listen to Chalene’s podcast on it. It’s very informative. She has a lot of links for more information on the whole thing. 

There’s also some popular methods to look into, like The Warrior Diet, Lean Gains, and many others.

But don’t do this without talking to a nutritionist, doctor, or at least someone who’s done it before. It might be fantastic, but it could also be pretty dangerous if you do it wrong. 


Clean Eating Fruit Cobbler in the Microwave

I suppose I could call it Cobbler in a Mug, because putting any microwaveable pastry in a mug makes it instantly Pinterest popular, right? 
Eh, the bowl’s already out… 
The measurements in this are not precise. Play with it as you wish.
1 cup (or 1 purple for 21DF) of fruit
Drizzle of honey 
– microwave this for 30 seconds
Then add, 
A Heavy sprinkle of Ezekiel 4:9 granola (1/2 yellow for 21DF) 
Another tiny drizzle of honey
– and microwave for another 30 seconds. 
That’s it. It’s so good! 
The Ezekiel 4:9 granola is the same company as the people who make Ezekiel bread. It’s has NO sugar and is completely natural. Truly a no guilt granola. 

Spinach Eggs and Fruit

Eggs are not just for breakfast. Sometimes breakfast for dinner is exactly what you need.

– Coconut oil
– 1 green container spinach 
– 2 eggs 
– Autumn’s All-Purpose Seasoning
Heat the coconut oil and sauté the spinach for a minute or two. Doesn’t take long. Then pour the eggs around evenly and scramble them up. Sprinkle seasoning in there at some point. 
I like to dress mine with a little mustard (free food!), which is a total surprise since I’ve hated mustard for years. Just goes to show you that you need to try foods that you think you hate every few years. Our taste buds change, and now I’m in love with mustard. 

FlatOut Bread Pizza

FlatOut Wraps are a tortilla-like wrap that are usually whole grain and low carb. They are a good alternative to a sandwich with sliced bread. You can also use them for PIZZA. 
– Flatout Wrap
– tomato sauce
– bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach, etc. 
– ground chicken, turkey, or lean beef (already cooked)
– mozzarella 
Heat the oven to 400. Place the wrap on a baking sheet. Spread a couple spoons of sauce on the wrap. Top with your favorite combo of things. This is really flexible and can involve leftovers! Shredded chicken or ground meat of any type can work. Sprinkle a blue container of cheese on top. Then put in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Watch closely so it doesn’t burn. 

How Fighters Cut Weight and How It Hurts Us

If you’ve read my Fitness Story, then you’ll know I have been training in Brazilian jiu jitsu for a little over a year now. Shout out to Gracie Barra Alabama! I’ve competed a couple times myself and have actively supported my husband and teammates while they train and compete. Whether skinny, overweight, or somewhere in between, almost all of us have a weight cut experience of some sort.

Here’s mine:

Spring 2014: I’m running half marathons on a regular basis, training at my BJJ gym 3-4 times per week, and eating fairly healthy. I was 148lbs and about a size 8. I was a fairly fresh white belt, but I had great training and support and was being encouraged to compete. I had done one small competition and had held my own. Competing is scary, but good for me. It puts me outside my comfort zone, lights a fire under me as far as training goes, and can be a lot of fun if I don’t let it freak me out completely (which I have a tendency to do). So, I made the decision to compete in the BIG International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) Atlanta Open in August 2014.

But I had to make another decision: what weight class was I going to compete in?

IBJJF Weight Classes

There are a ‘gagillion’ different rules for the IBJJF competitors, which is why I rely on my coach to make sure I’m where I need to be when I need to be there with everything I’m supposed to have. Thank goodness for people who know what they’re doing. But here are four really important points to remember about the IBJJF and weighing in for competition…

1. The IBJJF rules require all competitors to weigh-in on the official IBJJF scales at the event. You can’t just say you weigh a certain weight and step on the mats. And you never know if their scales will be heavy or light compared to your own at home.

2. If it’s a gi competition (meaning you’re wearing your kimono  while you fight), then you must weigh in WEARING YOUR GI. Depending on your gi, that could add 4-7 pounds!

3. You can’t switch your class on the day of the event. You don’t make weight; you’re disqualified.

4. For all IBJJF competitions, you weigh in RIGHT BEFORE YOU FIGHT. 

The Water Weight Cut

The typical fighter weight cut is almost always about dehydration 24 to 48 hours before weigh-ins. Sweatsuits, steam rooms, saunas, dieuretics, laxatives, and decreased water intake. Combine that with some low intensity exercise to get the sweat flowing, and some people can drop 20 to 30 pounds of water weight. (For an uber-scientific explanation of how this is done, see this article.) So great, you can make a weight class that you think you’ll have a size advantage in and then can dominate everyone, right? Maybe not…

The Dangers

Remember that list of important IBJJF stuff above? Take another peek at it. IBJFF weigh-ins are mere minutes before your first match. While the crazy water weight cuts are feasible for organizations with weigh-ins the night before, you do NOT have time to refuel and rehydrate before an IBJJF tournament. And even if you did have time, let’s think about what rapid weight cuts do to your body…
– Imbalances in electrolytes: This can cause diarrhea and vomiting as well as seizures.
 – Kidney damage: While it’s true that you have an extra, you probably prefer both of them to continue working at full capacity. Dialysis is kind of a buzzkill for your training schedule. 
– Metabolic damage: The more yo-yo-ing you do with your weight, the more you damage your metabolism. It will get harder and harder to lose the weight, eventually becoming impossible and causing you to gain even more weight in your ‘off-season’. 
– Decreased performance: Imagine you were building a race car. You spent months, YEARS, putting it together with the quality parts and attention to detail. And then, on the day of the race, you only put a quarter tank of gas in it. 
– Low blood pressure and increased heart rate: If you follow UFC, you may remember Renan Barao having to pull himself from his fight with TJ Dillashaw 

If you don’t believe a white belt (otherwise known as the smear on the mat after training), then listen to my professor Kaliffa Oliviera, black belt in BJJ and Judo, who competes in world-class competitions regularly…

Cutting Weight Safely

While the professionals and long-time competitors may cut water weight, it’s like playing with fire for most of us. Since I still had a few months, I did what I hoped would work: I worked out harder, longer, more often, and created a caloric deficit by going paleo/whole 30. Still not fun, but at least I could eat enough so I had energy to continue to train. It worked. Slowly, over the summer, I began to drop the weight. It was touch and go for a bit. I actually wasn’t eating enough to lose weight and luckily had someone point that out to me in time to fix the problem. I made weight with some to spare, and got totally owned at the Atlanta Open. I freaked out. It happens. But that’s not the important part. For me, the REAL victory was making weight. I also watched some fellow competitors do the traditional fighters’ weight-cut method. And I saw the serious drawbacks to it.

It just doesn’t make sense. You’ve trained for years, focused on training for this particular competition for months, and then you completely deplete your body of nutrients and water right before asking it to perform at top level. Doesn’t work so well. Think of the last time you tried to do any exercise when you hadn’t eaten in a while or were dehydrated. You probably got it done, but it likely wasn’t a pretty workout, or your best athletic performance.

Quick caveat: there are some fighters who have professional help in cutting weight, are professionals themselves, or just know how to manipulate their own body so well that this isn’t as dangerous for them. Everyone is different. That said, MOST of us are playing with fire when we do stuff like this.

So what other options do you have? Well, you can do what I did and move mountains to drop 8 pounds. It took me a LONG time though. If you’re far enough out from your competition that is certainly an option. But I’ve learned a LOT about my own body and fitness in general since that time. I’ve found some better and more efficient ways to increase my fitness, decrease my body fat, and eat healthy on a sustainable level.

I want to present some options for fighters, whether IBJJF, MMA, wrestling, or otherwise, that can provide quick ways to cut weight in a healthy way that actually makes you stronger for your competition.

Healthy Weight Cut Options

21 Day Fix / 21 Day Fix Extreme

This is the perfect program if you’ve got a couple months before a major competition. Not only is it giving people some amazing results of double digit weight loss, but it’s going to leave you stronger with more muscle. Just from personal experience, my rolling partners have commented on the new strength in my arms after just 2 rounds. I mean, I had noodle-arms before, but they noticed a difference. For an explanation of the workout programs, see my whole page on it
The regular eating plan is going to lend itself well to training. You are eating a balanced diet and staying very hydrated. You’ll probably notice an increase in your energy, especially if you’re using the Shakeology. If you’ve got time, I’d go with this one!
To really shred out your results, the 21 Day Fix Extreme program features an optional eating plan called Countdown to Competition. While it’s referencing the diet that the celebrity trainer Autumn uses for her bikini competitions, it’s a good competition weight cutting diet for fighters as well. It’s extreme without sacrificing performance. If you’re wondering what sort of low carb, high protein diet you should do to shed weight before your competition, THIS IS IT. It has different levels depending on your caloric requirements (which the plan will help you calculate). It’s explained simply, in idiot-proof color-coded containers so you can’t even screw up the portion sizes.

Beachbody Ultimate Reset

This is a 21 day detox/cleanse program that focus mostly on detoxifying your body. It’s definitely a calorie-restrictive diet. The program actually asks you NOT to workout while doing it. However, adding a little extra food, like a Shakeology protein shake or a fruit, would likely give you the energy needed to continue training. This would be a great tool for competitors who might need to take a little time off to rest before a big competition to allow injuries to heal.

This video is from a big-time Beachbody coach and fitness professional. She and her husband are obviously athletic and got crazy good results from the Reset. 

3 Day Refresh

This is a great program if you are a few pounds away from your weight class or right on it and worried about being over on competition day. This involves 3 Shakeology shakes a day as well as clean, fresh food to give you a short cleanse. People regularly lose 4-6 pounds on it. The best part is that you aren’t going to be losing any nutrients or protein that your body needs to maintain strength and muscle tone. Shakeology is going to keep you fueled while you ‘cleanse’ in a healthy way. 

Whatever program you end up doing, whether it’s one of these, or something of your own, just make sure you’re not hurting your performance, short-term or long-term. If you’re looking for a comprehensive program or wondering how to mix in your BJJ workouts with a Beachbody program, hit me up and I’ll help you hash one out specifically designed for YOU.

OSS!

Clean Eating Pork Milanese

My husband loves my breaded pan-fried pork cutlet. And even the breaded version is pretty healthy. BUT if you’re on the 21 Day Fix or another clean eating diet, those bread crumbs may not be on the menu. No worries! 

From time to time, I find pork cube steaks on sale at my grocery store. They are always a good buy, so I’ll pick up a couple packs and throw them in the freezer. However, other than a breaded pork Milanese, I’m not really sure what to do with these suckers. So I tried the same basic recipe without the bread crumbs and amped up on the herbs. It worked! 
– pork cutlets or cube steaks
– Italian seasoning
– garlic powder
– onion powder
– salt and pepper
– olive oil 
– marinara or tomato sauce (check the ingredients and choose one without sugar) 
– shredded mozzarella 
Heat a tablespoon on olive oil in a large pan. Season the pork cutlets well with herbs, garlic, onion powder, and S&P. Cook a 4-6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. Spoon a little tomato sauce on each and sprinkle with mozzarella. Put the top on the pan and let it cook for another minute or so. Turn off the heat but leave the top on. Let that sit while you get the plates, etc. out. By the time you get ready to plate it up, the tomato sauce will be hot and the cheese will have melted. 
Serve with green beans and/or salad. 
21 Day Fix Count: 1-1/2 red (depending on size), 1/2 blue, 1 teaspoon 
The tomato sauce isn’t enough to count for a green on its own, so add some veggies! 

Buffalo Chicken Salad

They are building a Zaxby’s down the street. Fried chicken. Less than a mile from my house. I better have a healthy alternative ready, so I created one. 

Buffalo Chicken Salad
I make buffalo chicken all the time. I use shredded chicken that I’ve cooked in the crockpot, then shredded, and add a little buffalo wing sauce, like Texas Pete. If the plain wing sauce is too hot for you, don’t worry. I know the traditional method is to cut the heat with butter. Put down the butter, and pick up the Greek yogurt. Mix in enough to cut the heat to your taste. Just add a little at a time. Once you’ve got the mix right, heat it a bit in the microwave and pour over your chicken. 
You can do a bunch of things with the chicken, but the salad…
1 green lettuce as a base
1 green of chopped celery, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes. 

1 red of your buffalo chicken

1 blue of blue cheese crumbles 
1 orange Bolten Farms yogurt ranch dressing (all natural, 45 cal)