Favorites Vol. 1

For the Foodie

Low Carb Mini Chicken Pot Pies from Zuzka Light (recipe here).  One look at Zuzka and you'll find yourself investing in kettlebell stock (hello, abs).  I've enjoyed using her workouts for a few years when I want to switch things up, but she also has some yummy recipes.  I made her Mini Chicken Pot Pies for Derrik's birthday and they were a hit!  I think they're the best low carb recipe I've tried, which is a high compliment coming from this low carb loving household.  

Your New Reading List

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

I just finished a wonderful book, The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera, and I think your life would be enriched if you read it.  The Huffington Post got it right on the back cover - "An ode to the simple joys of life."  I found myself continually pleased at how easily I related to revelations sprinkled throughout Natalia's writing.  It might leave you longing for a trip to Spain or Italy, but that's just one more point in favor to give it a try.  I'm going to meet with some other women who've read it to discuss the book over tea and cookies.  How refined, right?  The simple things in life, like walking slowly around your neighborhood to enjoy the new spring blossoms because you've nowhere to be, sometimes seem to be the most luxurious.

Praying with Paul by D.A. Carson

I also just finished Praying with Paul by D.A. Carson.  I'm so glad I read it.  I went to a weekly book study with women from my church and found that added accountability was so valuable.  I sometimes find myself wrestling with thoughts like "do my prayers actually make a difference?", "how do my prayers mingle with the mystery of God being sovereign over everything?".  This book helps flesh out those questions in a way that leaves you refreshed and encouraged that your prayers do matter, and we can trust God with the outcome.

The Life Giving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson

This book is a joy to read for a homebody like me!  If you enjoy brainstorming ideas to make every day feel cozy and special for your family, this is for you.  Sally and her daughter Sarah do a great job giving ideas for special celebrations and how to make your home an inviting haven for everyone who lives there and any guest who might stop by.  Home is where we spend a majority of our time, so it makes sense to be thoughtful about traditions and ways to serve there.  Have your highlighter ready - there's so much to underline that you'll want to remember!

Grace, Not Perfection by Emily Ley

"You can't be perfect so just give up."  I feel like that sentiment is floating around out in the social media sphere, but I don't think that's what this book is about.  It's about choosing from a pool of good things and giving your time to the best things, or "what matters most" as Emily phrases it.  Something you'll notice immediately about this book is that it. is. beautiful.  It's like a how-to guide mixed in with magazine spreads and the vulnerable heart to heart type talk you have when you ugly cry with your best friend.  It's a winner.

Tea, Please

Sometimes I joke about trying to convince myself I like tea.  I only started drinking coffee in the last 2 years, so before that I usually opted for tea (or what tasted like dirty water) whenever I'd find myself in a coffee shop to meet up with friends.  But that was before I discovered this sweet, spicy, cinnamon delight

Let me know what you think about these favorites!  Will you try any?  Which books should I add to my list?  Have a great week!

How I Lost 30 Pounds

How I Lost 30 Pounds

The beginning of 2016 seems like a great time to talk about something very positive in my life - getting healthier!  I lost 30 pounds in 2015 and am eager to accomplish new goals this year.

I’ve always gravitated toward stories about overcoming struggle, because persevering when you feel too frustrated to keep going is something I think we all face eventually.  I’m no professional when it comes to giving out diet and exercise advice (yet! we'll see...), but I would love it if sharing my story and ongoing journey encouraged you in some way.  I realize there is a plethora of options out there to help someone lose weight, but today, I’m focusing on what has given me such great results.  

Background:  I grew up living a very active lifestyle.  From the swing-and-miss cuteness of t-ball to winning a National tennis title in college, being active was my way of life.  But after starting a desk job after college, paired with poor eating habits and a lack of knowledge about nutrition, the pounds crept on.  

I sat down to think through what worked, what was different from other times I’ve started a program, and what I hope might be helpful for someone looking for advice to put into practice right away.  

Top Takeaways

  • Identify with the people who embody your goals.  As the habit of consistency began to take root, my thoughts began to shift from how much I didn’t want to workout, i.e. “who has time to do an hour-long workout?  I work full-time, and I’d rather catch up on my blog reading” to “This is what I choose to do.  An hour of my time in exchange for the results I want?  I can do that”.  The lifestyle was normalized in my mind.  Watching YouTube videos and using workout tips from people like Zuzka Light and Heidi Somers helped along the way.  I also found the HER Body podcast on Body.io FM to be very helpful.

 

  • I decided I was going to do “the work” as long as it took to get to my goal.  I knew from the scientific research behind my methods that if I were doing it correctly, the results should start showing.  Of course, the catch to this is that you never really “arrive”.  Fitness is a life-long journey.  But working off 30 pounds?  That’s a measurable goal you can break down into incremental achievements.

 

  • I found a workout buddy.  My husband Derrik is one of the biggest reasons for my success.  If you can find someone to workout with who is eager to adopt the same eating habits, you’ve found a gem!  

 

  • I found a lifestyle that I believe I can (and want to!) maintain for the rest of my life.  Sticking to a diet and exercise program that leaves you feeling deprived and hAngry isn't sustainable.  Finding something that is has made such a big difference! "Low carb" doesn't equate to tilapia and asparagus for every meal.  I've found cooking low-carb meals throughout the week to be fairly easy and enjoyable.  I am someone who believes bacon to be the pixie dust of the culinary world.  I also happen to believe donuts are rings of near heavenly delight.  I might not be able to eat both at the same time (if you're following the Carb Nite guidelines for insulin spikes - see bottom for resources), but if I time it right, they fit into my lifestyle (and even help).  
  • I started lifting heavy weight.  I know many women fear that lifting heavy weights might make them look bulky or masculine, but I’ve found the opposite to be true, from my own results and research.  Exercises like barbell squats used to intimidate me (and sometimes still do), but I think they have played one of the biggest roles in getting more muscle definition.

 

  • I tracked my food (using MyFitnessPal) and workouts (Metric Me) in order to tweak things one at a time and find out what was and wasn't working.

 

  • I became convinced that this would work for me, not as a power of my will, but because I armed myself with the scientific knowledge behind why it would.

 

  • I found help when I didn’t know what else to change.  After about 9 months of consistency in this lifestyle, my results just didn’t seem to match the effort.  I hired a training and nutrition coach through Body.io - Alex Navarro (she’s the best!) and ended up making big changes that I wasn’t able to recognize I needed by myself.

What I’m doing:  the “protocol” I’m using is called the Carb Nite Solution, which is built around when to eat as much as what to eat.  It is a high-fat, low-carb lifestyle with one evening per week used to replenish your body with carbohydrates (this is where the donuts on my Instagram feed come in!).  On a typical day, I eat 20 grams of carbs or less, mainly coming from vegetables (the goal is 30 grams or less).  The fats in my diet come from sources like avocados, heavy whipping cream, coconut oil, bacon, etc.  I found I had better results once I started limiting cheese and used it as a garnish rather than a main fat source.    

The Carb Nite Solution was created by physicist John Kiefer of Body.io.  I understand that at first glance, anything labeled high-fat might seem counter intuitive.  Plenty of labels at the grocery store tout low fat options as the superior choice, but further research into how the body responds to nutrients (particularly related to insulin spikes), and my results, have convinced me otherwise.

Finding this lifestyle has felt like finding the nutritional holy grail.  If you’re interested in reading more, or simply curious about the science behind it all, I’ve linked to some helpful resources.  I hope some of these tips were helpful and encouraging.  Wherever you are on your path to health and fitness, you can do it!  Consider this my fist bump to you.

Resources:

What is Carb Nite?

Carb Nite

In Depth Look at Ketogenic Diets and Ketosis

Ketogenic Dieting: Frequently Asked Questions

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet: The Best Bodybuilding Diet?

Long-term Effects of a Ketogenic Diet in Obese Patients

Beyond Weight Loss: A Review of the Therapeutic Uses of Very-Low-Carbohydrate (Ketogenic) Diets

*I was not compensated for this post.  I just wanted to share what’s been working for me and to be an encouragement!

Recipe Review: Ham + Swiss Skillet

I've found everything that's cooked and presented in a cast iron skillet to be so cozy and rustic.  I love it.  I never really cooked with cast iron until I started using the one Derrik brought into the marriage.  Really, he has every kitchen appliance you could want.  That and a knack for cooking were some pretty impressive qualities back in the dating days (he's cooking dinner right now so I can finally blog!).  

This recipe review is for the Fit Living Foodies Ham + Swiss Skillet.  You can get this recipe in their Transforming Recipes cookbook sample available here!  One of the founders of Fit Living Foodies, Alex Navarro, is my nutrition/performance coach!  She's the real deal.  Alex shows genius in the kitchen with low carb dishes.  This meal would work well for anyone following a low carb lifestyle, or simply wanting something that feels decadent to start the day.

This is one of our favorites for a relaxed Saturday morning.  Actually, Derrik made this, so I was quite relaxed! haha.  I'm reviewing the taste bud experience.  Team effort, right?

The Ham + Swiss Skillet gets total approval in the Nelson household.  We added some extra mushrooms and green onion.  This can be adapted to your preferences very easily.  If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out!

*I was not compensated for this review.  I just really like this recipe and wanted to share it with everyone!