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(Paleo!) Chicken Soup

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I decided to come home for the weekend and it is cold.  And also my dad’s fridge was completely empty and he is out of town until later tonight.  So I decided that today would be a great day to make my chicken soup because it’s super ridiculously easy and we had some of the ingredients on hand.  And noooooow, I am going to have to cook again because my (non-Paleo, mind you) family helped me eat the whole pot.

So, on a cold day when you’re craving some chicken noodle soup – make this.  I promise you won’t even miss the noodles. My carb-loving sister says she didn’t even miss the noodles.

Paleo Chicken Soup

  • 8 cups chicken stock/broth (look for a “clean” chicken stock if you don’t make it yourself – no added sugar)
  • 2 medium size carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Boil and shred your chicken thighs.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat.  When it has warmed, add the chopped celery, onion and carrots.  Cook in the pan until the onions become translucent, about 5-10 minutes.

Add the chicken broth or stock, chicken, parsley and thyme and allow to come to a low boil.  Add the shredded/chopped cabbage and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until the cabbage is done to your liking.  Feel free to add salt to taste.



A Good Day to be Me/What Whitney Ate Wednesday

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Look at me coming back to blog after only a week.  Allow me to pat myself on the back.

I am going to give you the option right now to not hear about my super ridiculously awesome Valentine’s Day.  If you would rather not, please scroll down to where the pictures of food begin.  If you wish to hear about my awesome day yesterday, feel free to stick around and read (or skim) the entirety of the post.  Your choice.

First off, let me say that I had my expectations super ridiculously low for Valentine’s Day.  Chris and I didn’t make any plans and he seemed pretty meh about the whole day anyway and I kind of almost forgot that there are other people in the world who might express affection for me on Valentine’s Day.  Yeah. Go me.  So imagine my surprise when I show up at work at eight am and the first thing I am greeted by is this:

And then imagine my even bigger surprise when I actually get around to the other side of my desk and see this:

Yes, those are tickets to two concerts.  He did good.  So very good.

So my day is already going mega-excellently when the bell rings I am greeted by two identical flower arrangements for me and my sister from our dad.  What a good dad!

Amazing.  And then. . . as if that weren’t good enough, I got a PR on my back squat at CrossFit that evening. 105 lbs!  Also, Chris made me a delicious mango/banana/raspberry smoothie with his fancy shmancy blender.

And then this morning I walked into work and one of my lilies had begun to bloom overnight.  It was like extra icing on my great-day cake.

I can’t wait to see what that looks like tomorrow.  So amazing.  Also, can I just mention that I did not retouch that photo at all other than to resize it? I am in love with this camera.

Alrighty, enough of that.  Now onto the food.

This breakfast likely looks a little weird, but I am super obsessed with this chili right now.  So I had to have some for breakfast.  It’s the chocolate chili in the Well Fed cookbook by Melissa Joulwan.  But you can also get the recipe listed as My Favorite Chili on her website here.  Along with the chili, I had a couple of scrambled eggs and half a sliced avocado.  I would probably eat this every day.

Not pictured: a mid-morning cup of loose leaf tea with no sugar or anything else added.  It didn’t look as good as it tasted.

Lunch was fish tacos/best slaw ever/chipotle dipping sauce from the Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook.  I had been eating these with the coconut flour tortillas, but I ran out.  So I just ate them in some romaine leaves instead.  Also, I do have some slaw in the tacos and extra on the side because it is delicious.

And I rounded lunch out with a few sliced strawberries and some coconut manna.  What is the difference between coconut manna and coconut butter?  I have absolutely no idea.  The ingredients listed are: organic coconut.  So that’s good enough for me.  Also, it is really ridiculously delicious stuff.

And for dinner: more chili! And about a quarter of a sliced avocado because I wasn’t feeling hungry enough for the rest of the half.  You guys seriously must make this chili.  And take her advice about the simmer.

I also made some tuna salad for Chris because he kindly agreed to drive up to the Fashion Place Mall with me so I could spend way too much money at Sephora.  I am now going to go cuddle with my make-up.

What Whitney Ate Wednesday (2/8/2012)

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Oh hello there! This is my new camera.  Which is why this post even came to be.  And moreover, why this post will be heavy on the photos.

Also, please note that the above picture was taken AFTER my workout yesterday.  So all things considered, I don’t look half bad.  The cleanliness of my mirror, however. . .

On a more pertinent note, this blog post is exactly what it sounds like.  I’m just going to show you what I ate today.  Yep. That’s it.  Why?  Because it’s the internet, and on the internet you assume that everyone finds your habits and opinions fascinating and sometimes even useful.  Obviously I must be at least a little right about this, because you’re still reading.  So. . . on with the food!

For breakfast (my favorite meal of the day) – 3 eggs, scrambled with one link chicken and apple sausage and some raspberries.

Roommates brother: The raspberries are out of place.  It’s a bunch of salty and then. . . raspberries.

Me: It’s like Paleo dessert.

But, really, it is.

For lunch: the most unphotogenic salad in the whole world.  It’s just butter lettuce, avocado and some barbacoa beef from The Kitchn.  As seen on Nom Nom Paleo, who makes me drool with her daily food photos.  I was going to sautee some baby bell peppers and red onion to accompany this, but I haven’t had time yet.  This has been a heavy homework week, so I’m just glad I have the beef at the ready.

Post-class/Pre-WOD snack.  More of that beef with strawberries and nut butter.  Yes, that is peanut butter.  Yes, I know peanut butter is technically not paleo.  But I alternate between almond, peanut and pecan-cashew butter regularly.  And a few tablespoons of the stuff is not going to kill me or hinder my progress or keep me from achieving my goals.

Why am I justifying my peanut butter to you?  If you’re judging me for my peanut butter, I am judging you for judging me about something as silly as a nut that is technically a legume.

Long story short, if you’re copying me but you’re on Whole30 or you want to be strict paleo, sub in something like Sunbutter or almond butter.  And you leave me and my little jar of peanut butter alone.

Not pictured: post-WOD protein shake with unsweetened almond milk and a few slices of frozen peaches.

And here is my late dinner. I pulled that serving of cabbage out of the oven a little too early, but I couldn’t wait any longer.  I also wish I had something else prepared because sausage (even though it has no preservatives or sweetener or nitrates) is not exactly the cleanest food in the world.  That’s what happens when I go home over the weekend, though.  It’s not as easy to get a variety of foods ready for the week.  Oh well, maybe tomorrow.

Other things not pictured: about 100 oz of water.  Mmmm water.

WOD today was sucky.  Because I hate rowing.

But I was relatively happy with my time, even though I was scaling my pushups.  Which I’m glad I did, because my arms got all tingly in the second round.  I’m sure they’re going to feel extra great tomorrow.

And that was what my day in CrossFit/Paleo looked like.  For as long as my camera addiction lasts or as long as the habit continues, I will try to do a post like this every Wednesday.  Even though people look at me weird when I take pictures before eating.  As previously stated, however, they can take their judgment elsewhere.  My camera is awesome and deserves to be  used.

Hopefully I will also someday make up my own recipes again.  I have one for a delicious noodle-free chicken soup that I should probably get around to writing down.  And making again, because it is super delicious.  Did I mention that it’s delicious?

And now, as an apology for this post being a bit of mess in the prose department, I will leave you with one of my test shots of Chris, who was kind enough to model for me last night as I played with the settings on my camera.

That is definitely the best thing about this whole post.

Planning on Being Awesome This Year?

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First of all: Happy New Year!  I don’t know that I’m really huge on partying to welcome in the New Year or anything like that, but I love any opportunity to reflect on the past and make goals and plans for the future.  I do this regularly.  The start of every semester I like to make a list of goals and an accompanying set of plans to help me work on things that I could be doing better at.

I’m sure a lot of you have goals that include getting more fit or losing weight.  And those are really great goals to have.  My health/fitness/overall wellness journey began with a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.  It’s been five years since then and I’ve learned a lot.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that a goal without a plan is just wishful thinking.  For example, I have a goal of someday hiking to Havasupai Falls.  However, because that isn’t a goal that I plan on accomplishing within the next year or so,  I don’t have a plan yet.  However, I do have a pressing goal of hitting 20% body fat by June.  So here is what my plan looks like:

-Get my body fat measured (in the BodPod on campus) every three months. Making an appointment on Wednesday.

-Eat clean (Paleo) 13 out of every 14 days.

-Be mindful of starch and fruit intake, especially on non-workout days.

-CrossFit at least 4 times a week.

There are other parts to this plan that are more secondary goals (work on mobility of one body part after each WOD, go to Endurance weekly, etc.)  And I did make other goals that have their own plans (audition to be a Disney Princess, improve my grades, etc).  But the important part is that I wrote it all down.  That always makes me feel more accountable to myself.  And I wrote down the things that I have to do on a regular basis to help me succeed.

Anyone can have a goal, but that’s like saying “I’m going to Hawaii”.  Making a plan is like buying the tickets to Hawaii.  And then when you achieve your goal, that’s when you’re in Hawaii. (Consequently, I wish I could afford to go to Hawaii as a reward for hitting 20% body fat.  Anyone rich want to take me?)

And for those of you who want to lose weight, I want to impart to you the wisdom that I have learned over the last 5 years.  If I had to give you only one piece of advice (other than making a plan), it would be this: DO NOT underestimate the importance of weight training. I did for four years, and I wish I had gotten started a lot sooner.

In my first couple of years, I went from a size 18 to a size 12 and from 215 to 150-ish pounds.  And I stayed consistent at that weight and size for a couple of years after that.  At the beginning of 2011, I decided I was ready to really embark on my quest for lady abs.  I did p90x and a few other home-based workout programs.  I started tweaking the last bits of junk out of my diet (everything processed had to go, even if it was whole grain — this eventually made the transition to Paleo a lot easier).  And then in August, Chris got me to join CrossFit.  In the last year, I’ve only lost about 10 pounds.  But I’ve gone from a size 12 to a size 8.  Sometimes a 6.  My body confidence is way higher, my pudge is way smaller, and my posture is improved.  I not only look better, but I feel amazing in my own skin.

And I am now convinced that whoever told girls that weight training would make them look manly was probably lying to someone they wanted to stay fat.  I am also convinced that thin girls who say things like “I’m fat” often feel that way because they lack the muscle to make their bodies look the way they want.  Looking fit is a combination of losing fat AND building muscle.  I neglected the muscle for so long because I felt like I was still too chubby to have to worry about it, but worrying about it is what helped me get to the point I wanted to get to.  Sure, I still have a handful of body fat percentage points to drop, but I can actually see the faint outlines of my lady abs starting to emerge.  My shoulders and arms look toned.  My legs look killer in high heels.    But in no way do I look manly.

Gratuitous picture of my arm. But seriously. Last year, that did not look like that.

So, basically my whole point is this: if you want to lose weight, you can do that any number of ways.  If you want to feel great about your body and you want to look your best: weights.  You don’t have to do any particular program.  Pick up a copy of the Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises if you’re new and don’t have a lot of resources, it’s an excellent place to start.  And they have a lot of 6-12 week programs, so you can switch up your routine a lot.  Of course, if you have the money and a nearby affiliate, you could always do CrossFit. Or you could borrow your friends copy of P90X.  Whatever you plan on doing, make a plan.  Pick up weights.  Don’t be afraid to lift as heavy as you can.  Practice good form.  Eat enough protein.  For that matter, eat enough food.  You can’t starve your way into a nice body.  You have to feed it.  And, oh yeah, did I mention that you should lift weights?  Because you really, really should.

My Thanksgiving Resolution. (Also, things from my lunchbox)

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I am currently typing this on my phone as my hair color marinates on my head. I straight up love technology.
Anyways, more to the point, I took a picture of stuff I ate this week! It wasn’t cute, but it fed me. As you can see, I had a lettuce wrapped burger with sauteed onions and mushrooms. Also, deviled eggs with homemade mayo. And two mandarins. Delicious. And afterwards, I had a nice spot of loose leaf tea. Because I love a nice spot of tea at my desk in the afternoon. I am a nerd.
Not exactly fancy food, but the point is to eat well. Not to eat fancy.
Along those same lines, I decided to lay myself some ground rules for Thanksgiving. I’m sure a lot of people would love to tell me what a pretentious over-achiever I’m being for not letting myself go crazy and eat everything in sight on Thanksgiving of all days. But to those people, I respond with the following: why is your tradition to eat until you rue the day you were born on a day set aside for gratitude?
Seriously, though. I have been thinking about this lately, and the thing I am most thankful for is a healthy body that serves me well. Why do I abuse it by stuffing myself so full that all I want to do is sleep and vomit? That doesn’t show a lot of gratitude. So this year, I’ve decided on some ground rules to get my body through the day without feeling too neglected or abused.
1. No bread products. No one is making rolls or stuffing from scratch, so it really isn’t worth it.
2. One dessert per completed workout. 50 burpees for each additonal treat I want (to be completed before consumption). I hate burpees, so this makes me evaluate how much I really want something.
3. Go on my annual run with Chris in the evening. This year, we will be breaking it up with some bodyweight moves. I think we should start calling it the Gratitude Run.
That’s it. Those are my guidelines. Nothing too complicated or hardcore. Just bringing some health and sense back into a day normally filled with debauchery and digestive distress.
Steal my idea if you want. Go crazy on food if you want. I just felt like I needed to write it down and share it, because now it’s a commitment. Feel free to follow up to see how I did!

Getting Sick, Making Excuses, and Some Thoughts About Genetics

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I’ve had quite the nasty sinus infection for just about the last two weeks.  Which has directly translated into  shocking lack of exercise.  I did go to CrossFit on Saturday, which turned out mostly okay although I am still not in optimal health.  But it was much better than the previous Friday, which triggered a nasty asthma attack.  Allowing myself to sit out for this long has been kind of hard for me, because I just feel like I’ve been lazy.

Yes, I know, I’ve been sick.  I need to listen to my body.  It’s more important to get better. . . blah blah blah.  But it took me a long time to get into the habit of exercising regularly, and I don’t want to fall out of it.  I have been dreaming of CrossFit for the better part of a week.  In these dreams, I can do an unassisted pull-up, which my extended leave from the gym has set me back from accomplishing.  And I have a goal to get it by the end of the year.  Which is coming up really fast. And I feel like I just have to jump back in while I still have the itch, because I am spectacular at finding reasons to not do things I don’t feel like doing.

In a lot of ways, I’m worried that being sick will allow me to sell myself an excuse not to do something that is hard for me (and working out is something that is still hard for me every day.  I enjoy it after it’s over and am like “Yeah! I feel awesome! I want to do this forever!”  But I swear, the hour before I go it’s like: “Seriously?  You’re going to put yourself through this crap?”).  Anyways, this has gotten me thinking a lot about the way we sell ourselves the idea that it’s okay if we never change things for ourselves.  The excuses we make that make it okay not to achieve our goals.  We’re all familiar with these, because they are the regular roadblocks.  The big three, in my estimation, are time, money and genetics.

I feel like I should really discuss the genetic aspect of weight loss/fitness, because it’s one that pretty much everyone falls back on.  I know I handed all the responsibility for my body over to my genetics for as long as I can remember.

In a lot of ways, my belief that I was only a product of my genes sheltered me from a lot of emotional hurt in high school.  Rather than obsessing over my body, I simply looked at myself and said: this is what I am and this is how I look and that’s all there is to it.  A significant portion of my extended family is overweight, and I felt like I just happened to be made that same way.  Did I want to be thin and cutesy like my friends? Yes.  And I wanted to not have to feel like every shopping trip was a battle.  I wanted to not have to worry about finding a plus size prom dress.  I wanted to be the kind of girl a boy would have a crush on.  But I just didn’t accept that as a possibility for myself.  The way I saw it, I just wasn’t made that way.

You see, I used to be a master at making excuses.  It took me a long time to learn how to take full responsibility for myself.  It was easier for me to “give away my power” (as Jillian Michaels would say) than it was for me to take a long, hard look at myself and say: you are a result of you.  Nothing else.

I was so sold  on my inability to fight my genetics that I set very conservative goals when I started losing weight.  I wanted to weigh 160, to be a size 12 rather than an 18.  I wanted to run a 10-minute mile.  At the time, these were really big, good goals.  Achievable.  They would require work, but I could do them.

But in my mind, that was as good as I could ever do.  “With my structure,” I told myself and everyone who would listen, “I just wasn’t made to be thin.  It isn’t possible.”

I also told myself that it was harder for me to lose weight than it was for most people because of my genes.  Other people would have it easy, but it was going to be extra hard for me.  I used this an excuse to not expect too much, to not want too much, to not try too hard.

And then one day someone told me something that changed all that.  One tiny little sentence that changed my whole perspective once I dropped all my excuses and accepted the gospel truth: You are a not a slave to your genetics.  It’s something I’ve had to relearn and accept more than once.  Who I am and how I look is really completely up to me.

Well, we tell ourselves, my bone structure. . . yadda yadda yadda.  Shut it. Right now.  There is some truth to that (obviously I am never going to one of those super cute girls who is 5’3 and weighs 100 pounds. . . or a 5’11 supermodel), but you likely have no idea what your best body looks like. So don’t count it out before you even start.  I always thought I would have massive hips, no matter what.  Turns out, I am pretty well proportioned.  I look absolutely nothing like I expected under 75 pounds of fat.  And although I am still working on getting my body fat percentage down and my lean mass up, I look so much better than I ever thought I could.

So whenever you want to say, “I’m just not built that way” or “my metabolism is slow” — just stop it.  Unless you’ve seen a doctor and have some hormonal issue, there is probably nothing different about you.  Most people are not just naturally thin.  Some are, but not a lot.  Just like most people are not naturally fat.  Most people don’t have smaller bones or a faster metabolism than you.

And even if they do: so what?  You can still work with whatever your genetic makeup has given you.  Because you likely have some genetic strengths that balance out your weakness.  Mine? I seem to build and maintain lean mass pretty effectively.  Also, I’ve got long legs that make me a faster runner than I thought I could be (although if I were working on it as much as I should, I could be much faster).

I thought I was big boned and could never wear a single digit pants size.  I was wrong.  I also had no idea that I could weigh 140, that I could have a waist that was less than 30 inches (let alone 27 and still shrinking!).  I never thought I could run an 8-minute mile.  If I had let myself continue to believe what I had always believed about my genes, I never would have had the courage to try for more.

I bet you’re just like me, and you have no idea what you’re capable of.  I still have no idea what I’m capable of, because I am not at my health and fitness pinnacle yet.  And even if your genes don’t always work with you, they aren’t ever a roadblock.  They’re more like a hurdle.  You just have to learn how to get over it.  So stop thinking and saying you weren’t made that way.

You were made to be magnificent.  Get after it.

Dairy-Free Tomato Soup (And Some Notes on Non-Competitive Self-Control)

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So here is something I forgot to mention about my competition eating rules in the last post: I ditched dairy.  My boyfriend has been off dairy for quite sometime, mostly because it makes him break out.  And it hasn’t ever done great things for my asthma, so I decided to give dairy-free a shot for at least the length of the competition.  The weirdest part is how much I haven’t missed it as a daily staple.  Sure, I totally love a cheeseburger every now and then, but I don’t really miss my Greek yogurt or cheese sticks like I thought I would.  And my asthma has been a lot better (even through allergy season!), so I’m going to keep dairy in the “treat” category.

Speaking of keeping things in the treat category: I am missing having a specific, measurable reward to work toward.  The great thing about participating in the competition at work was that I had a concrete goal that came with a specific timetable and monetary compensation if I won. Now, the only thing keeping me honest is . . . well. . . me.  The strange part is that I don’t want my lady abs any less, it’s just that there’s nothing on the line if I don’t get them pronto.

Despite constantly thinking “I could eat a giant bar of chocolate if I wanted to” or “I don’t really have to work out today”, I’ve actually managed to carry all of my well-established good habits over into this week.  I have just had to spend a lot more time looking at my fitspiration board on pinterest (link is on the right hand side for anyone needing some motivation) and reminding myself how absolutely crappy I felt after lazing around and binge-eating all last weekend.  My stomach looked puffy for days.

And here’s the biggest thing: I don’t want to screw up my progress by eating poorly.  I’m working really hard at least 4 times a week at CrossFit, and I am not working that hard and dealing with perpetually sore muscles to look the same.  I am working this hard to look better. Fitter. Sexier.  I am also not working this hard to suffer from headaches and nausea after eating a boatload of crap.  I am working this hard to feel as good or better than I look.

So, I persist on my quest for lady abs and optimal health.  This week, luckily, that quest was aided by this delicious soup.  Which, incidentally, was my first successful batch of tomato soup from scratch ever.  And it also helped me use up the rest of the tomatoes my dad gave me from his garden, which were starting to look a bit less than ideal.  Anyways, here’s the recipe.  Make. Eat. Enjoy.

This soup is Whole 30-friendly, Paleo-friendly and Vegan-friendly.

Dairy-Free Tomato Soup

  • 12 large tomatoes (you could use canned tomatoes in a pinch, but I highly recommend roasting fresh ones)
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • basil (fresh would be best, I only had dried so I used that)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 375°.  Cut the tomatoes into halves and toss with olive oil (season with salt and pepper if desired).  Bake for 25-35 minutes until well roasted.

While the tomatoes are roasting, finely chop the onion and garlic and sautee in a large pot.  I let mine begin to caramelize before adding the roasted tomatoes from the oven.  Once all of the tomatoes have been added, let cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes.  Blend until smooth with an immersion blender (you could transfer to a food processor for this if you don’t have one).  Add coconut milk, bay leaves and as much basil and black pepper as desired.  Turn heat to medium-low, cover (to prevent soup from getting all over your stovetop) and simmer for 15-20 minutes.