Small Changes.

Happy 2014 you guys! I hope this year is terrific for you and myself as well. I think great things are brewing for me and I just have to put in the work to make them happen.

New Years Eve was spent with Brenda, Eddie and John at their apartment. We ate Domino’s and I drank about a teaspoon of champagne. We watched recaps of the funniest moments of 2013 and just laughed and talked. We were home by 1:30 AM and it was glorious.

My first ever New Year’s Day workout. It felt awesome.

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I have been hungover for every New Year’s for the last 8 years I believe. No more. Next year I am planning to do the midnight run in Central Park. On the train ride home from Brenda’s we saw so many runners leaving the park and I was pretty ragey that I didn’t do it.

The run was followed by brunch with my friend Alyse and her awesome roommates. We brunched at Riverpark which is a very fancy (for me) restaurant by the famous chef Tom Colicchio. The brunch prices were totally normal so I would recommend trying it for a fancier feel! We started with cinnamon doughnuts to share.

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So many dishes looked great but most of them had cheese and other things I would have had to sub out so I just went with the safest option, the wild mushroom frittata.

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AMAZING iced coffee, too!

I probably should have woke up early to run this morning but since I have 2 classes tomorrow and my legs are REALLY sore from my 6 miler yesterday, I slept in and am really aiming to eat healthier today. It’s a serious challenge after 2 months of being overly lenient in my food choices. Since I was also running less the last 2 months, I feel pretty fluffy and my pants aren’t fitting how I’d like them to. My mindset in the past would have been to restrict, or be too strict with how I would eat to reset my body (and mind, too). My will-power to be like that just doesn’t work anymore. And I don’t think that it’s a bad thing! In order to make changes that will stick, most people respond well to small changes. I know for me it’s really the only thing that will work. How do I do that? Here a few tips that work for me and hopefully will help you get back to healthier choices.

1. Obviously meal prep is important, useful and really does work in theory. You save money, calories and for me- a trip to the crazy streets of Midtown East in search of food for lunch and therefore a bad mood. But for me, after weeks of eating less-than-healthy foods, I seem to keep craving them. Were you eating a lot of breakfast sandwiches or french toast or pastries? Maybe you can keep eating those foods but make them yourself so you are saving the calories. Right now, oatmeal is just not doing it for me. If I make it at home on the stove and eat it right then it’s still great but for some reason making it in the microwave at work makes me gag now. Probably because I’ve been eating the same breakfast for 2.5 years straight. Except the last few weeks, I’ve been eating bagels and croissants for breakfast so I’ve been spoiled! I had the next best thing that I whipped up last night; healthy muffins and a big ol’ iced coffee.

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I’ll call them banana chocolate chip muffins. The chocolate chips I used are dairy-free mini ones from the brand Enjoy Life and I found them at Whole Foods. They seriously taste exactly like real chocolate chips, without the stomach ache for me. Win. Make these:

  • 2.5 cups oat flour (just grind oatmeal in a blender or food processor, about 4 cups worth)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • Cinnamon (as much as you want)
  • Optional: 3 tbsp chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350, mix all together and make either 6 large muffins or 12 mini’s. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turn on broiler for 2-3 minutes for extra crispness on top. They come out about 260-ish calories for the 6 count with the chocolate chips so omit those and they will be closer to 220. Pair with some protein like some egg whites and a fat like a little peanut butter on the muffin and it’s an amazing breakfast that doesn’t seem SO healthy 😉 Eat things you love, just modify them.

2. Make 2/3 meals healthier to start. Make at least your breakfast and lunch healthier, or your lunch and dinner. For me, if I eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, it’s actually easier for me to have a healthy dinner too. Why break the pattern, right? But if I start out the day with junk, I will be much less likely to eat healthy the rest of the day. After my healthy breakfast, it was easier to choose a good lunch today. I picked up a made-to-order salad at my favorite place and loaded it with vegetables and grilled chicken. It also had some crumbled blue cheese and a side of light ranch to dip my fork in, because that’s balance!

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3. Honor your cravings in an alternate way. This is kind of similar to #1 but it’s what helps me the most. I work long hours, no less than 10 hours of my day is spent at my job and therefore just a breakfast and lunch aren’t going to cut it. Around 4 I start to get antsy because I still have 3 hours of work left and I just want to leave. Then comes the late afternoon snack attack. BE PREPARED. Don’t come empty handed and leave yourself vulnerable to office junk food. I did this the entire month of December and that’s why I feel fluffy now. Bring an apple or banana with peanut butter, a Larabar or whatever your favorite type of bar is, portioned out trail mix, a fruity greek yogurt, or some dark chocolate. I prefer a bulkier “snack” that’s basically just another meal calorie-wise. I don’t get a chance to eat dinner until at least 8:00 PM but often later if I work later or teach a Spin class after work, so around 5:30-6 I am starving. Depending on your calorie needs and when you eat dinner, you can judge how big your snack should be. Also, maybe you are a big time post-dinner snacker. Since I eat dinner so late, I don’t usually have a chance to eat more because I need to be asleep. You don’t have to give up your dessert, you just need to fit it into your calorie needs for the day.

4. When encountering junky food that ya know ya just don’t need right now, repeat to yourself: “I know what this tastes like already. I’ve had it before, and I can have it again.” I may be crazy for this one, but I swear it works for me. If you really stop to think about a food you are about to dive into that you don’t exactly need, seriously remind yourself that you know what it tastes like. You know it will be available to you again. Why not just wait? John’s mom made a ton of her amazing cookies and I’ve been picking at them every day since before Christmas. I finally stopped myself last night and remembered that I had been eating them every day and I know what they taste like. They are freaking amazing so it’s hard to say no even when talking out loud to myself in the kitchen, but I managed to not even open the ziplock bag. There just seems to be less of a “I NEED NOW” feeling when you stop to think that it isn’t the last time you will see the particular food.

Let me know if any of these tips work for you! They aren’t anything special or unique but we often just need reminders of the basics to set us straight again.

What small changes do you make when getting back to healthier habits?

Those Things I Love.

Following your dreams is sometimes really, really hard to do. There are a lot of setbacks and it can really get you down, not to mention can take a long time to really get to. So sometimes you have to focus on what else makes you happy. Even if it’s superficial things. For me those superficial things are coffee and shopping. Coffee makes me happy in a HUGE way and I realize that may be kind of weird but I am more than just an addict. It makes me happy so I spend money on it that I figure into my budget, and only go to places that have rewards for what you buy. I justify it that way so I am at least getting a free drink every now and then 😉  I don’t have much money to shop because I prefer to save what I can these days, but sometimes you just have to #treatyoself. A little. Right?!

My favorite mug, great quote and filled with the good stuff
My favorite mug, great quote and filled with the good stuff

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My new favorite drink you MUST try, especially if you like bubble tea. This tastes just like it but about 1/10th of the calories and totally customizable. I saw this all over Instagram this week. Order a 1/2 black iced coffee and 1/2 black iced tea (unsweetened) plus whatever milk you want. Add your own splenda or stevia on the side, gulp down. I’m so happy about this discovery because not only is bubble tea too caloric, they never have soy or almond milk so the dairy murders me. Wooooop!

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THE comfiest and softest shirt ever from the Gap, their Gapfit line. I got it in a large so it would be loose fitting even though it’s meant to be a bottom layer workout shirt. I wasn’t intending to run in it, but today was so cold I needed more than just a tank top under my Lululemon running jacket. Got this baby on sale for $12.99 a few weekends ago. I also got it in navy blue and gray stripes. Available here!

And these were an impulse purchase on my lunch break today. Well, technically I have been shopping around for a good pair of dressy yet casual booties like these.

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They miraculously had one pair left at the store and in my size. For the minute I walked around in them, they were comfortable. Let’s see how they do at my work holiday party Friday night. I’m definitely returning the watch I wrote about yesterday so this is also how I try to be mindful about shopping. I wouldn’t have bought these if I was keeping the watch, but technically now I spent less money. Mind tricks?

And the one place in the world that can always cheer me up and shower me with inspiration and thankfulness is Central Park. 4.25 glorious sunrise miles around this beauty this morning.

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What superficial things make you happy?

Are you a shopper or a saver? What things do you indulge in when shopping? I am much more a shoes/accessories gal than clothes.

Newbies.

If you are just reading my blog for the first time after seeing my weight loss article on the FRONT PAGE OF WOMEN’S HEALTH MAGAZINE WEBSITE, hello newbies! Yes. This happened.

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Just one correction.. I lost 110 pounds, not 90, so just a little editing error! Ha! No biggie.

I am beyond excited that you are reading my blabber and I hope you enjoy my endless pictures of oatmeal, my workouts, iced coffee, my boyfriend and other random NYC happenings. Let’s just dive right into that, shall we?

Last week’s running week was one of my highest in a long time, and I am so grateful with how great it felt. Some high mileage weeks- hell, some LOW mileage weeks- feel not so great, so I like to take a moment and savor the ones that feel this good.

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I desperately needed to sleep in this morning so we’ll see if I have the energy to run after work. I got the pictures from the race Saturday and as usual, they are hilarious and hideous.

Clearly this was early on in the race when I was stoked to be racing.
Clearly this was early on in the race when I was stoked to be racing.
More serious and putting in werrrrrrrrk here.
More serious and putting in werrrrrrrrk here.

People who have great race photos.. how do you do it? I swear the photog’s get me as I’m gasping for air and limping. I won’t post the rest because they are SO hideous. Although if you’re really sad you can email me and I will email you them to make you smile. Because they will absolutely crack you up.

Today was an oatmeal for breakfast AND lunch kinda day, because I had 0 energy to grocery shop yesterday after work therefore no time to meal prep.

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The place I get my delicious hazelnut soy iced coffee every morning has a delicious oatmeal bar so I decided to let them make me a bowl. Plain oatmeal made with water with banana slices, brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins and sprinkled with granola. I added Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter to make this the best bowl of oatmeal eveeeeeeeeeeer!

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Bowl #2 for lunch many hours later. Clearly I’m craving CHOCOLATE big time today. This is my usual base of 1/3 cup oats, cinnamon & chia seeds microwaved up with water and a banana, topped with more hazelnut butter, roasted coconut chips from Trader Joe’s and 1 square of dark mint chocolate. REAL GOOD lunch right there. Lotta carbs. My fav.

The best part of having 2 bowls of oatmeal in a day is feeling completely satisfied til late snack time. I almost always eat a snack around 5:30-6 since I work til almost 7 and don’t get a chance to eat dinner til after 8. Sometimes my stomach is growling by 4 regardless of what I eat for lunch, unless it’s oatmeal. It’s a beautiful thing.

What meal could you eat twice a day?

What is your most filling lunch? Always looking for new ideas!

Do you have any good race photos?

CLICK Protein Espresso Giveaway!

If you’re close with me, one thing you know about me is that I’m a coffee fiend. Iced coffee with soy milk, to be exact. It’s an every day necessity for me and it’s become less about the caffeine effect (let’s be honest, after years of drinking coffee it doesn’t exactly work like the first time 😉 and more about the amazing taste. When I heard about CLICK, the protein powder that actually contains espresso, I died a little. It had to be too good to be true right? I had seen it all over Skinny Runner’s blog and figured she wouldn’t lie about such a thing (girl likes her coffee too, and I trust her cause she ain’t afraid to use some artificially flavored creamer in hers! haha)  Luckily the great people at CLICK sent me some to try myself. I picked out a container of the mocha flavor, and they sent along a shaker bottle and a packet each of vanilla latte and mocha decaf.

I dug into the vanilla latte packet on my way to see the Jillian Michaels tour and mixed it with some unsweetened vanilla almond milk, about 1.25 cups worth.

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Tasted awfully naughty, like it would have a whole ton of sugar and not a lot of protein. Turns out the packet (equivalent to 2 scoops out of the full size container) has 120 calories, 6 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein! Depending on what kind of milk you use you can have a great post-workout drink that could have 20+ grams of protein plus the pick-me-up delivered from caffeine!

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See? Me with coffee = happy! Even in gross Long Island Rail Road bathrooms.

The mocha is delicious and definitely tastes like a sinful drink you’d get at the Bux! Fortunately for you you can save a lot of calories and sugar by using CLICK, not to mention money. One of my favorite ways to use the mocha flavor is actually not in the form of a drink! I introduce to you, mocha banana oatmeal.

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This is my usual oat base (1/3 cup old fashioned oats, 1/2 tbsp chia seeds, 1/4 cup wheat bran, banana) with 1 scoop of the mocha CLICK. SO AMAZING! With melty cherry chocolate peanut butter on top? Dessert for breakfast ya’ll!

Last but not least, I tried the packet of decaf mocha as an afternoon snack. I don’t drink coffee after noon-ish anymore because it tends to give me a killer headache, so I love that decaf is an option when you want the protein and espresso taste without the caffeine boost. Tasted just like the regular mocha!

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In the spirit of keeping it real let me add this: if you are a super “clean” eater, you probably won’t like that CLICK has a lot of ingredients in it. I don’t mind because everything else I eat tends to be pretty clean, and I do what I wanna do yo!

And because I love ya’ll and want you to experience the yummy-ness that is CLICK, I will be picking a winner to receive their own choice of flavor and a shaker bottle!

To enter, leave me a comment telling me what your favorite way to drink coffee is!

For additional entries:  

Go to Facebook and “like” CLICK’s page and leave a comment on their page telling them you are entering my giveaway (Artificially Balanced blog) and leave me a comment telling me you did! http://www.facebook.com/drinkclick

Follow CLICK on twitter: https://twitter.com/drinkclick and tweet about my giveaway! Come back and leave another comment telling me you did!

Also be sure to visit CLICK’s webpage. They have a great sample kit so you can try the flavors before committing to a full canister!

Contest will close Thursday May 23rd at 11:00 AM.

NOTE: You do not have to be a blogger yourself to comment and win! I appreciate and love all feedback so if you’re a reader and not a blogger, I’d love to see your comments on my posts! 🙂 

Overnight Oats Success & February Goals

My second attempt at overnight oats was a success! This mixture looked pretty gross, but tasted amazing and refreshing. I forsee this combo being very popular in the hot summer months! Last night I mixed:

1/4 cup rolled oats (I use Trader Joe’s multi-grain)
1/2 packet Vega vanilla chai powder
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
Unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Sprinkle of splenda + cinnamon

I left this overnight in a covered tupperware container and this morning I added:

Frozen blueberries + banana slices + 1/4 cup Kashi go lean + crunchy PB.

It was a big green and blue mush and was so good! Seeing as how it’s 60 degrees in NYC today, on February 1st, this cold bowl hit the spot.

I have failed this week at two things: waking up for the gym (except monday) and bringing my lunch. I feel well rested, but I never spend money on lunch like I’ve done this week. That stops tomorrow! Today’s buy was delicious, however.

Turkey + avocado + egg + sprouts + cuke + tomato on honey wheat bread with a bag of buffalo wing pretzel crisps. I was craving crunch, and I am proud to say that after 1 serving of them, I threw the rest away! 🙂 The bag is 2 servings and I usually eat things even when I don’t need more. The sandwich totally filled me up and that one serving satisfied my craving. That is a major accomplishment for me!!

Those pretzels were a lifesaver when I was first losing weight because I was addicted to chips. These days one of my many addictions are iced coffees with soy milk 🙂 The creaminess that soy milk gives is sooo much better than dairy milk! Yum-o. Iced coffees help me big time as snacks. Super low calorie and they take me a few hours to drink, not to mention I must pee out at least a few extra ounces! My snack before the gym tonight is a raspberry truffle Nugo bar. My gym plan is upper body strength + abs then spin class.

Being that it’s February 1st, I’d love to set out some goals for the month! Here are mine:

More strength training. I am really bored with 30 Day Shred and need to start Ripped in 30. I also want to add some moves after the dvd as Bess did! I love how she makes up her own strength/body weight moves right in her living room.

More running. I don’t have a structured running plan each week because I go by how I feel. But I want to actually train for my half marathon in May… Which brings me to the next goal.

Sign up for the Binghamton half marathon. I keep talking about it, but haven’t officially signed up! I also need to sign up for other races to keep myself motivated. I loved the group long run Sunday and want to go to those at least twice a month.

Have more fun. I pretty much do nothing but work and work out and I sometimes miss being more social. I don’t exactly love drinking because I get a horrible hangover no matter what, but sometimes it’s worth it for a fun night out.

Stop committing to so many things. At the same time, I also get burnt out fast because I want to do it all, but really can’t. It’s okay to say no and not make plans, and I need to work on that so that I’m not always having to cancel. Trying to wake up 4-5 times per week at 430 AM to not miss a workout is obviously not working for me, so I need to stop spreading myself so thin!

Stay within weight loss calories at least 4 times per week. For me, I lose when I eat 1400-1700 calories. I am consistently eating more than that which I can maintain on, but I want to lose these last pounds.

I feel more confident when I put my goals out there. I will do a weekly check in, and then a month check in and see what I accomplished!

Pics of my eats at the bottom courtesy of this app not adding pics where I want them. Boooo!

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Long run hunger

The day of a long run, I (and other runners) am surprisingly not hungry. I mean I eat because I love to eat, but it’s not the hunger you’d expect after running so long. For me it’s the day after. Yesterday during my horrible 35 minutes on the elliptical, I got hungry. Like, stomach was sick I was so hungry. That never happens to me during a workout! Luckily my meals all day were packed with protein and fat to keep me full.

My salad from Whole Foods kept me full for about half an hour last night, when my stomach started growling again! That salad was packed with whole grains and protein, but I guess not enough. I portioned out a coffee mug of Kashi go lean high protein twigs with cinnamon + almond milk, banana and a spoon of PB. Then I was fine!

I went to bed at 10:30 and never heard a peep until 7:30 this morning. Um woops, totally forgot to set my alarm last night! 😦 Sorry Caitlin, I know you look forward to my sweat and bitching to Jillian Michaels at 6 AM.

I also had planned to run 5 miles after, so I thought maybe I’d do it after work. That never happens. If I work out at night, it’s a spin class. Runs just don’t happen for me after working for 10 hours. I’m not sure it’s a bad thing I missed it because my legs still hurt so bad from the 9 miler Sunday, plus the elliptical/ squats yesterday. Today my legs needed rest, but I did walk about 1.5 miles after work to go tanning 🙂

Okay, the good stuff. I grabbed a packet of Vega protein powder at Whole Foods last night before committing to a tub since it’s pricey. I got vanilla chai flavor and whipped up a little smoothie bowl this morning. In the mix:

1/2 pouch Vega Vanilla Chai
Frozen peaches
Banana
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Topped with 1/4 cup Kashi (and PB after the pic). SO good! I was full and felt energized for over 5 hours. It looks like a green monster, but I didn’t add spinach- the powder is a green color. I’m really loving the taste of this.

I sipped on an iced coffee with soy + water all day 🙂

Lunch time I had to run errands and grabbed a salad on my way. I fell asleep forgetting to make lunch for today which bums me out, I hate spending money on lunches out! My salad had romaine + cucumber + beets + chickpeas + jalapenos + grilled chicken + avocado + balsamic + sea salt. They also give you a small little multi-grain roll with the salads, yay for carbs!

Snacks: greek yog + strawberries + kashi twigs + PB. So repetitive, but I am on a greek yogurt kick this week. It’s so effective at keeping you full!

Also, a Clif mountain trail mojo bar. I haven’t had one in so long and they are majorly yummy.

I was starving when I got home, so I munched on orange pepper slices and grape tomatoes with hummus while I made an egg white omelet with broccoli and soy cheese, topped with organic ketchup. I LOVE having veggie filled omelets for dinner! No picture because I practically ate it out of the frying pan 🙂

Goal tonight is to be in bed by 10:30 again. I am going to make my second attempt at overnight oats since tomorrow is going to be in the 50’s and it’s FEBRUARY 1st! So, that’s a little warm for warm oatmeal. We’ll see how this batch turns out!