Cleaning Up My Act + WIAW

It is time I clean up my act.

Let’s be real – its beyond time.

It’s generally pretty easy for me to keep my diet in check during the week.  The weekends…. it’s another story.  Since I’m not competing this year I haven’t been following any real nutrition plan.  Of course I took that to the extreme.  

What I know about myself is that I love to indulge.  I also know that when that starts happening too much, I feel like crap.  It affects my physically and mentally.  I’ve been struggling lately, and I know it’s time to reign it in.


For a few years now I’ve been doing a version of the Standard Process Cleanse.  That’s the protocol I’m following for the next 21 days, except using my own supplements rather than buying their program.  Basically, it’s eating super clean and eliminating common allergens like eggs, dairy, nuts, and gluten.  The first 10 days is meatless.  The last 11 days includes chicken and deep sea fish.

I’m only through Day 1, but here’s my first reactions:

  • Not taking pre-workout is hard
  • I’m going to need to buy a lot more veggies
  • Some of the dishes I made when doing this previously are really good – I’m excited to bring them back
  • Fruit can make a fun ice cream dessert
  • Good lord, I miss meat


This WIAW is my first on the 21 clean(se) train.  I’m still working out the best foods to bring and when to time protein and carbs to get the energy I need.


Read on for my eats, and then check out Jenn’s blog for everyone else’s delicious creations! … 

Read More »

125 Reasons Why Clean Eating Isn’t Boring

No Shit.


I’m going to start calling this blog the “No Shit Zone”

Today’s Work It Out is a guest post from Amanda the Amazing.  She is a great runner with an inspiring story about coming to healthy living.  It has led her to a healthy, balanced lifestyle – the kind we all aspire to!



Her post is about keeping clean eating interesting.  I think it play right into my two favorite topics: Strange But Good foods and the No Shit Diet.  When many people first approach a lifestyle change they have this idea that they need to follow some sort of diet trend or that being healthy means boring foods.  Not so!

A diet isn’t a lifestyle change.  That’s why they don’t work.  You have to experiment with food and find the path that is right for YOU.  For me, that has boiled down to a lot of strange (but good) concoctions to keep food interesting, and to sticking to a basic idea: keep it balanced and include variety.  Seems obvious, right?  Did you just read that and think “No shit, Sherlock”?

No Shit Diet

Amanda has started a clean eating project that incorporate this mindset.  It’s a brilliant way to clean up your eating without getting bored or feeling deprived… and she’s even offering support!

Read on for her fabulous perspective, and a great list of foods to get you started!


125 Reasons Why Clean Eating Isn’t Boring

I love reading magazines…actually I might have a bit of an over subscription issue (Editor’s note: Same.  We need 12 steps…).

They provide me with new workout ideas, meals and general motivation to stay focused on enjoying my active life.  But sometimes it’s abundantly clear that even though they focus on health, they have bills to pay and maybe their info is a little skewed.  Have you seen any of the covers that rave about “125 Power Foods” then you flip it open to find the list doesn’t contain a single vegetable and only one fruit called the “grapple(Editor’s note: I hate to admit I sampled one… it’s tastes as creepy as it sounds) which I think we can probably agree is not local or non-modified.

Just because a label says fortified or enriched or whole grain or even natural, doesn’t mean it is actually natural and good for you.  Can you remember ever seeing maldexitrin for sale?  Do you realize how much salt they add to keep products “shelf stable”?  That sodium bloats us and causes all kinds of other health problems that I will leave to doctors to tell you about.  (Editor’s note: So true.  Salt hangovers exist.  More on sodium here.)


The Clean and Lean Project (along with super studs like Laura) have gotten me refocused on choosing foods that are going to serve not only my physical goals, but my performance, my health, my skin…my life!  I think this kind of diligence for the most part is a really great thing, as long as it’s also tempered with not becoming overly worried about every morsel we eat, sometimes chocolate is exactly what the body needs (Editor’s note: AMEN!)!


That being said, one of the biggest questions I get after mentioning clean eating is “WHAT WILL I EAT?!” or clean eating is so BORING.  To anyone who says clean eating is boring or bland, I first say have you seen any of Laura’s posts on strange, but good?

After that I think it’s time to bust out my list of 125 power foods…tell me you can’t find delicious, exciting and filling on this list!

125 Whole Foods

HAHA!!  125 foods that are non-processed and I didn’t even need to include bland icky iceberg lettuce.  (Editor’s note: Cheers to THAT!)


Amanda of is a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist with a true passion for running.  If you are looking for more tools to help you make Clean Eating a lifestyle, checkout the Clean and Lean Project, which teaches participants how to create new habits and kick the sugar cravings.


Don’t forget to click here to enter and win one of 6 canisters of Designer Whey Sustained Energy!  Staying satisfied is a great way to keep the  munchies at bay.  And it’s fun to rhyme.

What is your favorite clean food/dish?  Feel free to link up recipes!

Does anyone legit love iceberg lettuce?  Aside from when it’s covered in blue cheese and bacon. 😉


Work It Out: Intuitive Eating

Sometimes I forget to be sensitive.  


Or – more accurately – I don’t think.  

I over-simplify.  Or do I?  Today’s Work It Out will continue last week’s discussion on diet with a guest post from my friend Calee.  (Calee also designed my logo, which I loooove!)



Calee has been on a journey with Intuitive Eating.  My insensitive self I emailed her to ask more about this concept.  To me, it seems like overkill.  I mean… isn’t all eating intuitive?  Eat when you’re hungry.  Don’t eat when you’re not.  Prepare tasty, clean foods.

This conversation sparked my “No Shit Diet” post from last week.  It’s simple.  All you need to know is this:

No Shit Diet

So, without further adieu, my sensitive-self will let Calee explain where she’s coming from in regard to Intuitive Eating…. all joking aside, I have learned a lot and hope it will provoke some thoughts for you, too.


Laura and I have been chatting about Intuitive Eating (IE).  She thinks it’s stupid because it seems silly that people need to follow a program to know how to feel hungry and eat until satiated (Editor’s note: I don’t think I said stupid… I just think it’s over-complicating the glory of eating).  So she ended up writing that (amazing) No Shit Diet post last week in response to our conversation.

Me and Calee

Editor’s pic/note: Manhattans… they count as protein drinks, right?


Laura is a fortunate soul: she’s never had body image or food issues.  (Editor’s note: That would be a bit generous… I DID go to high school, after all… and after bartending in college I was a chunky monkey.)  I pretty much idolize Laura because she can turn on and off her competition training/eating and not get caught up in dieting.

I went out to eat with her on Saturday — after a few drinks, might I add (Editor’s note: Lies!  I never drink.  Hahaha!) — and not once did she fret about anything on the menu, aside from how it might taste.  She’s not competing soon, and it was vacation.  She ate what she wanted, which wasn’t junk, but wasn’t eating asparagus for every meal either (though surprisingly she yelled at me for taking all the asparagus off the plate we shared!).  Laura eats intuitively, intuitively.  We all would, except most of us have been caught in the diet trap.


So what exactly *is* IE?

I can tell you what IE isn’t: “I ordered that Fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie Ice Cream Bar … and then ate two.  And now I’m going to run 12 miles because I need to — er, I mean I love running.”  (Editor’s note: is it wrong that I’m now craving Reese’s?)

Eating this chemical shit-bomb of sugar = not eating intuitively

*Eating this chemical shit-bomb of sugar = not eating intuitively


IE is learning to love and trust your body, get past the guilt learned from dieting, and feed yourself a healthy way when you’re hungry, but eat only until satiated, not stuffed.  IE is NOT an excuse to eat crap.*


I came to IE after years of dieting, specifically, after one huge failed attempt to lose 5 lbs that made me gain 15 instead.  I couldn’t eat any less or workout any more than I was already. And I could (and still can) name calories and macros in just about every food (and non-food).  I lived in the gym.  The scale kept going up.  I saw IE on the shelf, and thought, “why the hell not?”  I never thought it would be life changing, but it was.

I’d heard of IE, but it looked to me (and Laura) like “intuitive eaters” were just eating crap under the guise of “eating intuitively,” and that’s not what I wanted.  (Editor’s note: To clarify – I never thought it was an excuse to eat crap.  Again, it just seemed like slapping a name on common sense to make a millions on a book deal/movement.)

I wanted to be able to eat an avocado or a piece of meat and not have to have celery for dinner or run 10 miles to make up for the calories later.  Oh, and alcohol, sweet, sweet alcohol, had I missed you … But I definitely didn’t want to be one of those “you only live once — pass the chocolate cake” goons who blatantly ignore the point of IE: eat food, get past the guilt, and love yourself.  You are definitely NOT loving your body if you’re shoving it full of crap all the time.  (Editor’s note: Can I get an Amen?!)


There is an IE book, and I think Laura should write a book on the “No Shit Diet” (or I will, and she can put her stamp of approval on it for some royalties). The IE book outlines a plan, which I haven’t really followed, but I’ve been practicing the…

Principles that make the most sense to me:

1. Learn (or re-learn) your hunger signals, trust them, and eat when you’re hungry.

2. Figure out what satiated vs. full feels like. Try to eat to satiation, not fullness. Don’t feel like you always have to clean your plate. My dog likes me eating intuitively for this reason.

Slightly embarrassed at how much I left on my plate at this meal. Sorry Chobani!

Slightly embarrassed at how much I left on my plate at this meal. Sorry Chobani!


3. Let go of all (non-allergy-related) restrictions.  Everything is on the table.

4. Trust yourself around food.  You are in control.  Food isn’t.

That means you, ice cream.  I own you now. And I can have you for lunch if I really want (and I did in this photo because that's how I roll now).

That means you, ice cream. I own you now. And I can have you for lunch if I really want (and I did in this photo because that’s how I roll now).


5. There are no more “bad” or “good” days based on food, your weight, or your workout.

6. Stop.  Weighing.  Yourself.  (And counting calories/macros/etc.) Unless you are seriously over- or under-weight, then get to a healthy weight before you stop.  Truly eating intuitively and exercising intuitively will lead you to your body’s natural weight, and towards health.

7. Health is your main goal. Pick whole, nutrient-dense (or clean —  but I prefer “nutrient-dense” because everybody has a different opinion on what “clean” is), and non-processed foods.

8. Use your dieting knowledge for good instead of evil.  Aim for variety in food groups and nutrients to get what your body needs.  (Editor’s note: I think this is my FAVORITE idea.  You’re smart – make it a positive!)

I jazzed up last night's pizza with a pile of broccoli.  Yeah, there's pizza under there somewhere.

I jazzed up last night’s pizza with a pile of broccoli. Yeah, there’s pizza under there somewhere.


9. Eat slowly to enjoy your food and really decide if you like something.  I don’t like chicken, come to find out.  And I also don’t really like all my “banned” foods from my dieting years.  Donuts are a sugar-coated crusty fried ring of gross.

(Editor’s note: I don’t like Twinkies, candies like Starburst, or… POP-TARTS!  Except for the vanilla-filled ones)

Cereal, on the other hand (one of my previously banned foods) is still really flipping awesome.

Cereal, on the other hand (one of my previously banned foods) is still really flipping awesome.


10. Don’t judge: yourself, others, or what you’re eating/what activities you do based on what you’ve already eaten.  Yes, nutrition should be in the back of your mind, but don’t eat something “good” because you’ve eaten something “bad.”

Don’t ever feel like you don’t “deserve” something because you didn’t work out.


Me enjoying my dessert at Blend last weekend on a – gasp – rest day. That’s right. I had dessert and didn’t work out.


11. Because I like to turn things up to 11.  Don’t. Eat. (only). Crap.  Have some crap from time to time (if you like crap), but if you eat only crap, you’ll feel like crap, perform like crap, and you’ll probably look like crap too.  But if that’s your choice, that’s cool with me as long as you are HAPPY.  (Editor’s note: Suddenly I have the urge to take a crap…)


I’ve been practicing these principles since January.  I jokingly tweeted Laura that our butts met in the middle (mine got smaller and hers got bigger), and she asked for pictures.  So I took some.  And some more here.

January to late April

January to late April


And after she (and others) said that I looked a lot smaller / more toned, curiosity got the best of me and I stepped on the scale.  I’ve lost 7 pounds, but I put the scale back, because I know putting it away really let me succeed in finding a healthy relationship with my body and food, and it’s really freaking empowering to be in control of yourself and in control of your body again.


Spending time with all my fabulous Blends this weekend cemented my decision to continue my IE journey.  If I have to hear one more person talk about eating a bigger snack or breakfast because we kicked ass at boot camp twice this weekend, I will slap a bitch.  My body and I are starting to find a happy place, and seeing others where I used to be just reminds me how much I don’t ever want to be there again.


Where do I go from here? I keep working on it.  And I love Laura’s No Shit Diet (anti-)rules — they’re a super-simplified version of what I’ve been working on with IE.

There’s another piece to the IE puzzle: intuitive exercising, which I’m just beginning to figure out for myself.  But that’s a completely different post for a different day. 

*I wholeheartedly agree with Laura: diet is personal. If you know you have to count calories, watch carbs, or whatever to maintain a HEALTHY weight (not to be supremely hot and skinny!), then IE might not be for you. But I urge everybody to give it a try, if even for a week or two. Or even just read the book because there are principles that everybody can use in the book.


I would love to have more conversation about this – I know several of my friends have been on the IE train… please check out Calee’s conversation questions below.  Your thoughts on this would be really interesting to us!

Do you follow a specific diet?  

Have you ever tried eating intuitively or dieting?  How have you fared?

Who else thinks Laura should write the “No Shit Diet” book?  (Editor’s note: Noooooo!  That over-complicates it!)


Sweet Potato Mexican Pie

Some like it hot.

My food as a child

I like it really hot.

Spicy often means a craving Mexican food.  Most people think of Mexican as being unhealthy, but it’s actually one of the easiest cuisines to lighten up.  Latin cooking is derives flavors from spices and herbs more so than fats.  A little cumin, peppers, and cilantro can go a long way!

Ideas for ordering at Mexican restaurants

  • Tell your server not to bring chips so the temptation isn’t even on the table
  • Chicken or veggie fajitas, soft tacos, grilled shrimp or chicken, and ceviche are usually safe bets
  • Ask them to go light on the oil and salt
  • Choose soft tacos over chips, hard tacos, or rice; also request corn tortillas if available
  • Use salsa rather than cheese or sour cream to add flavor
  • Order black or pinto beans rather than refried
  • If you must have a margarita (and you know I must), order it with fresh lime juice instead of the sugar-y, processed sour mix

In keeping with my Kitchen Workout guidelines, I decided to satisfy my Mexican craving at home rather than go out to eat.

Spicy tomato sauce and sweet potatoes will forever be a favorite combination.  Those flavors were in my head all day as I thought about how I would attack dinner.

Adding spices is a quick and easy way to make a meal something special   One of my “secrets” to a good tomato sauce is adding a bit of cinnamon.  It lifts the flavors and gives the illusion of a hunt of sweetness.

While this ingredient list may look long, it comes together very quickly.  Make substitutions based on your preferences and what you have on hand.  Just be sure to add small amounts at a time and taste as you go!

This dish makes 6 servings.  I ate 4 over the course of the week and froze the remaining two to take to work.  They have been perfect as homemade frozen lunches.

To make this vegetarian/vegan, use tempeh or TVP in place of the ground chicken.


Sweet Potato Mexican Pie

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 T dried cilantro
  • 1 T garlic powder
  •  1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 C chopped red pepper
  • 2/3 C chopped baby bellas
  • 2 C diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 2 C spinach leaves
  • 1 large sweet potato

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown the chicken in a pot with onion and spices.

When chicken is cooked, add peppers, mushrooms, tomato sauce, and water.  Let simmer for 10 mins.

While that mixture is simmering, peel and thinly slice the sweet potato.

Grease a 9×9 baking pan with olive oil.  Layer a quarter of the meat sauce, followed by a layer of sweet potato slices, zucchini slices, and then spinach.  Repeat until you’re out of ingredients, making sure to leave enough sauce to top the dish.

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 mins.  Remove the foil and bake for another 15 mins.

Let cool slightly before serving.

Makes 6 servings.


Writing this made me want a margarita.  Doh.

Do you have any secrets for eating healthy at restaurants?

Do you like food with a little heat?  I find I want it even more in the winter months.

Work It Out: Kitchen Edition

You can’t out crunch a bad diet.


Where’s the chocolate-lovers ab diet?!

Today’s Work It Out post is a little different.  Usually I feature a new workout technique, but this post-Thanksgiving week I’m being a little selfish.  I need to Work It Out in the Kitchen.  Like many others, I indulged throughout the Thanksgiving holiday.  No regrets – it was fantastic – but now I need to reset and not let that sweet tooth take over all the way into the new year.


When I start with the sweet tooth and red wine other indulgences it quickly becomes a habit.  At one point I was eating dessert after every meal… including breakfast.  What works for me is to go cold turkey (pun intended) to reset myself.  I’ve done this in the past through my favorite cleanse, but I haven’t gotten to the “emergency” point yet.  This time around I’m going back to the basics.


Leading up to Christmas I’m going to be doing a Kitchen Workout in addition to my normal routine.  This isn’t about weight loss (my new diet is actually focused on gaining – more on that tomorrow).  The Kitchen Workout is about eating to fuel your body properly.  Eating clean makes me feel energized, keeps my skin clear, and improves my ability to focus.

The following guidelines are what works for me.  For example, I know that I can’t have just a little sugar and stop.  Therefore, I’m cutting it out.  I also know that I can’t be too strict on myself or I’ll go full-speed in the opposite direction.  A Saturday “cheat day” will be employed. :)


The Kitchen Workout

  • Eat clean – minimize processed foods
  • Cut out the sugar (except fruit)
  • Limited dining out
  • Keep sodium to a minimum
  • No drinking on “school nights”
  • Stick to complex carbs
  • Eat small meals throughout the day
  • Take in plenty of protein to feel full and build muscle
  • Incorporate vegetables into each meal


Who else wants to join in the Kitchen Workout?

A good support/accountability network is a big part of staying on track!  Feel free to steal the #KitchenWorkout graphic and show your clean eating pride!  I’ll be sharing some new recipes, as well as more tips for holiday survival.

To get started, check out these posts for more ideas on eating clean:


For some initial food ideas?  Here are a few clean recipes that won’t leave you feeling like you’re missing anything:


Maple TVP “Oatmeal”


 Crab Eggs Benedict, Lightened Up


Grilled PB&J with Tofu Peanut Butter


Tzatziki Chickpea Tuna Salad


Mexican Crustless Chickpea (Vegan) Quiche


Fig and Edamame Kamut Berries with Sriracha-Lime Vinaigrette


150 Calorie Microwave Chocolate Protein Cake


Chewy Granola Cookies


The holidays have begun!  I’ve been invited to a cookie swap… I’m taking my granola cookies so I know I have a healthier option.  Can’t wait to see if anyone knows they are better for you!

Did anyone try the bicep moves Jody shared last week?

Are you making an effort to keep it clean over the holiday season?


Vegan Protein Sources + Recipes

I’m not vegan…

…but I’ve dabbled in the vegan space, and I do acknowledge that my body loves a plant-based diet.

Since I’ve started training for a figure competition, I’ve introduced more diary, eggs, and fish into my diet.  I have to get ~150g of protein per day, so I felt it was the best decision for me to add those items back in.  (I have not added back in meat, which I think is the biggest offender when I felt like I was dragging in the past.)

That’s not to say that the average person can’t get enough protein on a vegan diet though!  Most people only need 0.7-0.8g of protein per pound of body weight.  If you are strength training to gain moderate muscle tone, try to get 1g per pound.


Much of my protein does still come from vegan sources, so I was excited to be asked by Kevin (@instagramfitness) to help put together a “clean eating” guide to vegan protein sources.  With input from myself, @_mr_nice_watch and @petitefi, Kevin designed this awesome chart:

Buckwheat clarification: 1C cooked = 6g protein. The 24g number is uncooked. Sorry!


Some of my favorite ways to incorporate the vegan proteins above:

Ginger-Lime Edamame and Black Bean Burgers

Cherry-Balsamic Chickpea Salad

Sweet Potato Asian Lentil Loaf

Seitan Chorizo

Salade Niçoise

Check out Kevin’s Tumbler site for more clean eating ideas – there are a few of great charts and info on the following topics:

  • Nuts & Seeds, Dairy, Oils & Fats and Condiments & Minerals
  • Veggies, Fruits, and Grains
  • Hydration and (Non-Vegan) Protein
  • How to estimate the protein, fats, carbs you should strive for each day


I would be remiss if I didn’t give shout out to my favorite vegan protein powder, Growing Naturals, and my favorite protein-rich “condiment,” peanut flour, from iHerb.

What is your favorite plant-based protein source?  Do you have any recipes to share using these protein sources?

What are you most looking forward to this weekend? 

Vegan Protein-Packed Ancho Bean Burgers

Sad, but true:



We are so lucky to have the knowledge we do about clean eating.  I am continually surprised by how many people legitimately have no clue how to make good food choices.  Not to mention those who just don’t care.

Remember then craziness most of us ate growing up?  Ding Dongs, Pop-Tarts, orange soda… I wouldn’t even think to buy those things now!  (Note: there is a restaurant in Atlanta that makes homemade Ding Dongs… those, I would buy. :) ).


In my adult life, I shop the perimeters of the grocery store.  When I do buy packaged food, I read labels to ensure the ingredient list is recognizable.




No one is perfect.  I’d be lying if I told you there weren’t a couple of questionable items in my freezer.  The point is to eat as clean as you can most of the time.

One of the items I’ve become more aware of are frozen veggie burgers.  I try not to eat many processed foods, but in my constant quest for protein I picked up a box of the burgers for a quick fix.  Then I realized I could quite easily make my own and keep them in the freezer for those times of need.



Beans are one of the top sources of vegan protein; however, I cannot eat enough beans to get my 25g required per meal.  I CAN mix them with other protein sources to amp it up though!

Note: I am not vegan, but I am striving to continue to eat as plant-based as possible while I train for a figure competition.



These ancho chile burgers combine beans, textured vegetable protein (TVP), and vital wheat gluten to deliver a homemade, protein-rich vegan burger.  The chili power and ancho chili pepper in chipotle give it a nice heat (if you’re sensitive to heat simply leave out the ancho chili).

I served one for dinner with sautéed shiitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, and spinach.  The remaining patties were wrapped up for later meals.



Between the liquid smoke and the grill marks (thanks to Mr. George Foreman and his grill), these bean burgers have turned my cubicle into a lunchtime picnic.  Ok, I exaggerate… but they are tasty! 



Ancho Bean Burgers

Inspired by JL’s Chickpea TVP Burgers.

  • 1/2 C fava beans, cooked
  • 1/2 C cannellini beans, cooked
  • 1/4 cup TVP
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 C Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1/2 C fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 C onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ancho chili pepper in chipotle, diced
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • S+P,  to taste


In a food processor, pulse the cooked beans (leave some larger pieces).

Combine the TVP and vegetable broth and let stand for 10 mins.  Stir in the Vital Wheat Gluten.

Add the TVP and all remaining ingredients and pulse until well combined.

Refrigerate 1 hour (or overnight).  Form the patties, making them fairly thin so the middle get “cooked” on the grill. Return to the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or over night.  At this point you may place in the freezer for future use.

Set out at room temperate about 30 minutes before grilling.  Cook on a grill pan (or grill if you have one) for ~6-7 mins on each side, or place in George Foreman grill for 6 mins.

Makes 5 4-oz burgers.

Approximate Nutritionals: 116 calories, 0.5g fat, 144mg sodium, 13.6g carbohydrates, 3.8g fiber, 1.7g sugar, 14.3g protein


In 5 days I will be 29 years old.  The last year of my 20s.  How did this happen?!

Is there anything shameful in your freezer or pantry? Make me feel better… lol!

Have you become more health conscious in your “old age,” or did you grow up eating clean?