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I’m a mom. And this is what I strive for:

Writing this blog has been a bit of a challenge—and not for the lack of content—but because of the abundance of information that Jason and I want to share.  We feel that though we both went through this together, we do have some different views and tips.  We both have really been trying to hold back on our information—and to space out what we have to share.  But this one just can’t wait.

Again, if you watched our show, you met our two wonderful children, Sam and Sabrina.  But you didn’t get to see as much of them as we liked.  And it bummed us out kind of, because they are just simply awesome kids.  Sabrina is full of questions and curiosity.  She is ALWAYS listening.  Sam has a sweet soul and THE. BEST. LAUGH. that you may ever hear.  They are both full of spirit and happiness.  And I’m not just saying this because they are our kids.

Okay maybe I am.  But I’m their mom and that is what moms do.

And long before Chris Powell ever came into our lives, Jason and I had decided long ago we did not want to pass on our “unhealthy” behaviors.  We decided, pretty much from birth on that we didn’t want Sam and Sabrina to ever really love food in an unhealthy way.  Part of that was to lead by example.  Part of that was to provide them with better choices than we sometimes chose.  Really, I feel, it came down to balance.

You see, for a long time, I strived for perfection.  I wanted my diet and exercise to be perfect.  I never wanted to sway from my plan.  It was all or nothing.

And that kind of thinking, led me to 290 pounds.  Not just that—there is more where that came from, but a lot of it.  I didn’t want my kids to ever think they had to be perfect.  Life isn’t about being perfect.  Perfect is not realistic, it’s just not.  So instead, I strived for BALANCE.

It really started with my children long before I practiced it myself.  Jason and I wanted them to eat healthy and to have a wide variety of food choices.  But we also knew that we couldn’t always control their environment if they weren’t with us.  So, we simply gave them the best choices that we knew how.  And we hoped that because of those healthy choices and options they would learn to make the better choices.  Balance, not perfection.

For example, something that was missed that the TV camera’s filmed was “The Healthy Game”.  The Healthy Game is a quick game played in the car or when making dinner…really, wherever.  I would simply ask, “Apple.  Healthy or unhealthy?”  And Sam and Sabrina would answer accordingly and it opened up a discussion about different kinds of foods.  With some foods it really is more than just a simple yes or no so it was fun to sometimes take apart the food and see what we could come up with.  Eventually they would start the game off and play with each other or with Jason and me.

Today, Sabrina eats a huge variety of food and favors almost any kind of fruit.  She could demolish a cantaloupe in one sitting.  But you know what?  She also loves ice cream and has it, on occasion.  Not every day or night, but on occasion, when we stop and get ice cream as a family.  BALANCE, not perfection.

Sam, my son who I raised in the exact same fashion, cannot stand cantaloupe and prefers no skin on his apples.  His palette has been a little tougher, even with all of our hard work.  But he also enjoys asparagus with sea salt and loves grilled chicken and shrimp.  If you were to offer him soda (okay, I really say pop here in Michigan) of any kind he would turn you down flat.  But he loves birthday cake.  And you know what?  He has it, on occasion.  BALANCE, not perfection.

I have so much more to share about being a mom and raising children in this crazy busy world where convenient foods ARE easier for our busy lifestyle, but not always necessary.  There are quick and healthy recipes for a TON of things out there.  The same goes for snack ideas.  I went through this year trying to find time to take care of our children and our house, exercise, do laundry, take the kids to their activities, attend family parties and functions, and just LIVE life, all the while things were crazy and busy.  Many times I didn’t think I could do it.

But I did and I want to share how.  To inspire others.  To motivate.

And if you are a mom, trust me when I say that I get it.  I know you are tired and busy and life is overwhelming and hard.  But you can do it.  Really.

BALANCE.

Stay tuned.

 

waffle

(homemade whole wheat waffles–recipe to come soon)

On the road again…

This week I am in lovely Seattle. As far as cities go, it’s one of my favorites. Luckily for me this trip I am in the city 90% of the time. The episode only touched on the fact that I travel for work. It is a mandatory part of my job. Also I work for Microsoft.  This week in Seattle is an event called TechReady. Its a great time for employees out in the field to get together and share ideas, concepts, and technologies.

But as any of you out there that travel know, sometimes it’s very challenging to stay healthy while travelling. In my experience there are two major challenges. Eating and Exercise.

Exercise is challenging because generally a hotel gym has a treadmill, elliptical, and if you’re lucky a flat bench and some dumb bells. Plus usually when you head to the hotel gym everything is already in use.

Food is very challenging because for me, I love food. I love experiencing the cuisine of that local area or city I am going to. But its also very easy to justify eating anything considering you might even be on a per diem for expenses as well.

I will post over the next couple days addressing both and how I try to survive while on the road and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

If you have any questions, please ask and we can learn from each other! I would love to hear your tips as well!

-Jason

The Beginning

As you read this blog, you will find Jason and I sharing food tips and recipes, what we do for exercise, and all the “traditional” things that you would expect to find in a blog about “Extreme Weight Loss”.

But, along with these tools and tips that we want to share, there are things that the show didn’t share with you—that are important, that MATTER to our story, and really, are a huge part of WHY we reached out for help.

Sam and Sabrina

If you were able to catch our show (and we hope you did!), you really only caught a GLIMPSE, a SMALL glimpse of our children.  I hope, that within that glimpse you were able to see what wonderful, kind, loving children they are.  Because they truly are.  They are our world and our true inspiration and we love them beyond all possible words.

When I found out I was pregnant with twins in 2006, it was truly one of the happiest days of my life.  I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face all day long.  And the day they were born—even happier.  Jason and I were beyond thrilled to welcome two healthy children into the world.

With all the joy that Sam and Sabrina brought into our lives, I knew I was doing them a disservice by being overweight.  Not only because Jason or I couldn’t be as active as we wanted to be.  Not because we were eating junk food (they rarely saw that).  That was a small part of it.  Not even because I was overweight.  But because I truly felt HATE for my own self because I was fat.  I hated looking in the mirror.  I hated getting dressed.  I wondered if people were judging me and hated THAT feeling as well.

If I was overweight and okay with myself, that was one thing.  But I realized, as time went on, that my children were seeing my hatred of my own self—and that is a not a good thing.  I made sure to never speak those words in front of my children, but children KNOW.  They read people well.  They pick up on signals, on cues.  And I knew, it was only a matter of time before they would catch on.

I didn’t want our children to have a mother that hated herself.  I didn’t want our daughter OR our son to have a crappy body image.  I needed to set a better example.  Jason needed to set a better example.  We just didn’t WANT to change, we NEEDED to change, for our children.

And so, for the love of our children, I reached out to Chris.

 

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Juicing

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When I say juicing I mean juicing in regards to fruits and veggies…not what Jose Conseco used to do. :)

A few times through out the year Rachel and I juiced for a few days to reset our bodies. I still do it because I enjoy it and it make me feel better. Plus I like making up new recipes. Here is one I made this morning. Use less or more to taste, plus I made a pitcher to last me the day if this seems like a large quantity. If you have any questions on juicing we can answer that on another post.

  • 2 Large Slices of seedless watermelon
  • 1 Pineapple
  • 2 Bosc pears
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 4 Gala apples
  • 4 large carrots
  • 12 strawberries
  • 1 small lemon

 

 

This is what it looks like when done:

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My other favorite non-fruit juice recipe is a Gazpacho Juice Recipe:

4 plum tomatoes
1 handful yellow bite sized tomatoes (optional)
1 cucumber
2 stalks of celery
1 red pepper
1/4 small red onion
2 cups parsley (I used a couple handfuls)
1 lime (peeled)

Then I add a little splash of vinegar to give it the same flavor. You can also add some green pepper or an extra cucumber to taste.

 

Enjoy and we cant wait to hear your recipes!

Vegetable Survival Guide

 

Many of you may not be fans of vegetables. I don’t blame you, they have a bad rap. But again being the journey we were on veggies were a way of life. Veggies don’t have to be pretty to eat them. I think that is one of the problems. Some of them are just ugly and look unappetizing. I worked to find ways to eat veggies and not get bored. Here are a couple of example with plenty more to come!

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What you see in the picture above is a container of cooked veggies. No seasoning, no oils, no salt – Just veggies.

For this batch I made yesterday it contains the following ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of Bok Choy
  • 1 Large head of Napa Cabbage
  • 2 Packages of Bean Sprouts
  • 1 bag of carrot chips
  • Snow pea pods
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms

This is where is get complicated. I basically cut them all up, put them in a pot with a cup of water, put a lid on and stir once in a while so they don’t burn. Don’t over cook them until they are mushy. Once the carrots are soft the rest is probably done. Then I put it into as many containers as it would fill and stick it in the fridge.

That’s It!

That will probably yield enough veggies to eat for 4 or 5 days. Plus its in the fridge and ready to go when you need a snack.

I will admit I like to eat clean but I am not perfect. We all have our vices and this is mine:

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I usually spray this on these types of vegetables. It adds flavor and your hand would get tired if you wanted to use the whole bottle. :)

 

Also we always keep these in the house: Steamer Bags

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Veggies don’t have to take forever either. For example for lunch today I had some asparagus we had in a drawer in the fridge. Took about two minutes and 30 seconds. Threw it on a plate, use the above spray butter and a tiny bit of ground up sea salt and was satisfied. Normally I make this on the grill but it was just a snack so steaming is easier. As long as you have those bags you can steam anything!!

 

 

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So get creative with your veggies here are some other things we do as well:

  • Oven baked Kale chips with cumin, garlic and onion powder
  • Baked carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans
  • Baked spaghetti squash (use instead of noodles)

As I try more veggie combinations I will post them and would love to hear yours as well!

 

Jason – Food MacGyver

I have no idea what to call this blog post so Jason’s Food Profile it is! Basically you’re going to get a little foundational knowledge on why I eat what I ate. :) Rachel will post her own soon.
Some of you may be like me some like Rachel, both of us or none when it comes to your eating profile.

Some Background:

A lot of people don’t know this about me but I gave up fast food on November 13th 2007, my 30th birthday. I weight probably close to 360 at that point. I am the king of justification! If I was busy and I always was, I would run out and grab fast food. So I had my last meal at Taco Bell and random things at a few other places and quit cold turkey. I made a simple rule for myself. No fast food. No McDonalds, Taco Bell, White Castle, Burger King, KFC, Hardee’s, A&W, In & Out nothing that would be considered fast food. Don’t get me wrong if one of the kids got apple slices from a fast food place I would probably have one. But no fries, burgers, etc. You get the point. I have to set up these rules for myself or I will do whatever I want.

Also while doing this journey I learned a LOT about my body over the last year. I did a lot of food experiments. Here are a couple things I learned.

1. I am very sodium sensitive.

If I have a lot of sodium (over 3500 mg) in a short period of time you can watch me literally balloon up. My stomach especially. The scale shoots up too because I do have a lot of extra skin as well which holds a ton of water. Since sodium makes you retain water its not a real gain. But more about that in another post.

2. I do not do well with wheat and gluten.

My Dad is diagnosed with Celiac’s even. (http://www.celiac.org/) so I already had that against me. But if I eat gluten or wheat I balloon up and bloat with gas and just feel like crap. I generally eat pretty much gluten free. Which gets easier by the day as more gluten free products come out.

3. I don’t eat dairy.

I wouldn’t say I am lactose intolerant but certain dairy product can be painful. Cheesecake and I am out of commission for a day or so, a slice of cheese and I’m bloated so it depends. However when I cut dairy out of my diet completely I feel great. I never feel bloated at all.  Also cheese usually has a ton of sodium. I have no idea why, but it does and can really affect the numbers.

 

My Profile Type:

For me my craving carb is sugar. I love anything sweet. Candy, pudding, popsicles, fruit, chocolate, etc. If it has sugar, then its for me. (Rachel’s carb is more about bread, but she will talk about that) So I was on a mission this year to find things I like that didn’t have sugar. Its even more challenging to find things to drink. I don’t like pop or soda and I don’t like drinking straight up water. But what I did have on my side was that I love fruits and vegetables! I would take a pear over a slice of bread any day!

 

So when you see the food things I post they generally wont have diary or gluten. You will also see I am a food MacGyver. I will make anything healthy that may not originally have been just because I may be craving it. You may also notice that a lot of what we put up as a “recipe” may not have exact amounts. That is on purpose. Everyone’s taste buds are different. But when there is an exact quantity we will specify it. Now some of what I may post may sound strange or unorthodox. You have to remember I had one year to change my life. We had to get creative. Now that it is over we all have more time but no less sense of urgency to get rid of the weight and be healthier. But you have to get creative to win the battle.

We have received so many questions looking for “exactly” what we ate in Phase I or phase II, etc. I wish there was a magic bullet but it doesn’t work like that. You have to experiment with your body and it really is as simple as calories in less than calories out equals weight loss. That being said we CAN help and WILL help. Its out way of paying it forward from this amazing opportunity we were given.

Any questions or comments we would love to hear!

 

 

 

 

Chips and Salsa

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I know there has been a ton of “food” questions as that was not covered on our show. Well welcome to the first of MANY food posts. I know for me personally 80% of my success was based on food. So you’ll hear some good and some bad, some things that may sound a little crazy and some that just sound delicious.

For me I like chips and salsa. Love chips and salsa. While salsa is a great food to have around you should check out the sodium content. The salsa in a jar are usually much higher in sodium. (More about why sodium sucks in a later post). I get my salsas in the deli or produce section. They are fresher, refrigerated and usually have a bit less sodium.

The challenge is the chips! Those damn tortilla chips climb up there really quick when it comes to calories. Usually close to 170 calories for 10 chips. Lets face it, I could never eat just ten, let alone one. One of the solutions I came up with this year is Carrot Chips and Salsa. With carrot chips you get the crunch and something to scoop up the salsa with without all the calories. (Works great for hummus too!)

Sounds strange but very effective. Lets do the math:

The entire container of salsa pictured is 160 Calories. The entire bag of carrot chips pictured is 175. Grand total if you pig out and finish all the chips and lick the container empty is 335 calories. I promise if you do finish it all you may be in the bathroom in a few hours. I speak from experience. :)

Where as if you went with tortilla chips and finish half the bag and all the salsa you are looking at over 1200 calories on average.

Lastly if you are really trying to “lock it down” use celery sticks instead of carrot chips.

Hope this helps and as usual would love to hear your feedback and questions!

-Jason

Have you seen any good movies lately?

This one didn’t make the show but we talked about it during our finale. When you are trying to lose weight with someone you care about you don’t want to be rude and say, “Hey, you might want to put the fork down”. But you do care and want to help in some way. Well one thing we did if either felt we may be eating something we shouldn’t or just something bad in general we came up with a code phrase. Our is “Have you seen any good movies lately?” Believe it or not it sort of snaps you out of it and make you think about that next bite. While your partner doesn’t have to feel bad for saying something especially when its discreet.

Feel free to use it or make up your own!

Jason & Rachel