Get Real!

Finding ways to enjoy the hell out of life, while on our journey towards a healthy, authentic and passion-filled life.


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A new direction for ‘Get Real (fit and healthy)!’

So. Lots of life changes lately. It’s as that quote I’ve seen around lately states, ‘If you know me based on who I was even just a year ago, then we need to reacquaint ourselves. Because my growth game is strong!’

In order to make this blog something more sustainable for me, in other words to fit my original mission statement for the long haul as my own development keeps occurring, I want to merge my current two blogs and open this ‘new’ blog up even further to include more topics than my original ‘narrow’ focus.

This blog is still (and I promise will always be) about how to ‘enjoy the hell out of our life, while on our journey towards making it healthy, fit and passion-filled.’ However, now it is about so much more. I am adjusting this mission statement to be, ‘how to enjoy the hell out of our life, while on our everlasting journey towards making it healthy, authentic and passion-filled.’

To me, this is still about what we put into or onto our body and how we move our body (whether through food, hygiene products or even our environment such as household cleaners). And my other blog is still totally relevant as well, which is about dealing with chronic health conditions (or any chronic life ‘problems’) in a way that is really authentic to how we want to be living. But now, this ‘new’ blog will also be about some other life ideas I have been working on. Ideas such as having more conscious relationships (with self, friends, family and lovers), as well as minimalism, in as far as it relates to finding the real value in our belongings, relationships, habits and goals. Minimizing what we allow into our lives can help us cherish, respect and enjoy what we do have and actually make us feel more fulfilled with what seems to be much less (less stuff, less people, less on our proverbial plates). Looking into the future, something else I imagine delving into at some point is how all of what we do has an impact on both others lives (individuals, communities and maybe even societies) and the environment (our home).

I’ll be the first to say that at one time I could not have cared any less about my own body (and what I did to it, what I put into it, even who I gave it to – you know, sex -), nor did I care much about anyone elses well being or the planets. I still have a ton of things to work on, as a small example – I rarely ever recycle! I only mention this because, I want to make it clear here and now and forever that I am in no way perfect. I have way more growing to do. And when I grow more. There will still be more to do. Though aiming to reach your full potential is always great to do, it is also important to remember that you can never reach it. For when you reach it, you can see clearly that there is still way further to go! But when you are consistently (no matter how slowly) reaching further and living authentically, you can feel a stillness (some call this being present) that makes you feel completely at peace. No guilt, shame, anxiety, anger, grief, insecurity, hate, resentment or confusion exists here. No tummy upset, heartache, or difficulty breathing. Just peace.

And do I feel as absolutely at peace as I do in this very moment all the time? HAHAHAHHAA GET REAL!!! Of course I do not. No one, no preacher, self-help guru, yogi or anyone else that promotes the messages of growth, faith and love feels this way all the time. It is not about being perfect or feeling perfect inside. It is about how long it takes you to get back to this feeling of peace when you stray (whether you stray due to others behaviors, extenuating circumstances or your own choices/’mistakes’).

Progress (and honesty), not perfection. As you know better, do better. And most of all, through it all, just get and stay REAL!


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Re-Committing to our Health Journey

Re-Committing to your health journey (something I think we need to do every now and then, as so much changes in our lives, and our goals, etc.).

It’s easy to notice (well eventually anyway) when you are just completely sideways, off track, off the wagon, out of the club, however you want to think about it.

But what about when you have just been flirting a bit too much with the ‘other side?’ Maybe you have maintained a great deal of weight loss for a great deal of time, but can’t seem to push yourself any further. Maybe you eat extremely healthy much of the time, but still eat pizza, chips or other junk foods too often.

We, as a society, have finally come to terms with the fact that healthy eating (and moving your body) is not a diet. It is not a temporary way to live. It is a long term, lifestyle, habitual way to live.

So when there is no ‘diet’ to get back on. How do we re-commit? How do we live by a certain set of standards, without restricting ourselves so much as to make this something we cannot continue to commit to? I think the answer is pretty simple, like much of the answers we often seek, but that doesn’t mean it is easy. Simple and easy are definitely NOT synonyms.

Simple is eating whole clean foods at basically every meal, with a focus on vegetables and fruits. And it sounds easy too, but it’s not. Or is it? Now, I’m confused because it sounds so easy. But apparently it’s not.

We can hold on to things for as long or as short as we want. We can re-commit to living by our own values anytime we want. But because habits absolutely DO take work to unform or reform or get rid of, this isn’t exactly as easy as saying ‘I will not do XXX any longer.’ Well, the problem is our mind and body ARE going to want to do XXX because they are used to it now. When that desire comes up, you can either do the behavior … or deny that desire. One or the other has to happen, and our basic instinct will be to do the behavior (if that is what we are used to).

So what I commit to for the next three weeks, is to actively deny the desires that are against what the life I really want to have looks like. To allow the desires to come up (because they certainly will), realize what they are (which are little pulls to do things that I have, unfortunately, become used to), and to just deny the desire. And this doesn’t have to be an angry, negative, denial. It can be loving instead, ‘I understand I want to do this certain thing, and it’s ok that I want to, but it doesn’t mean that I have to, and in fact I’m not going to.’

Cheers to re-committing after I haven’t even blogged here in 8 months!! Yikes!!

Remember, we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know, and if you do that you can only continue to grow.


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Get Real (about cooking clean, simple meals!)

Those who know me have come to learn that I have found a passion in healthy cooking, understanding ingredients, and making smart eating choices (almost all the time anyway). The question I feel that I get asked the most is about simple meal ideas. The real secret is that living this way needs to be formed as a habit, a way of life, a matter of fact. And you just need to start. Start somewhere!

If I were to take a look back at the meals I was making every night when I first started with healthier eating/cooking, I would think that the portions were way too large, some of the ingredients were full of added sugars, salts and other chemicals, etc. And right now, if I ate that way, I would GAIN weight. However, at the time I was making huge improvements and was losing lots of weight! As I learned more, I adjusted my eating habits more. And as I lost more, and my stomach could get fuller on less, I was able to eat less. It all happens in time. We don’t (generally speaking) go from a fast food or junk food diet to a completely clean one overnight. Well, wait, we do when we are on a ‘diet.’ But who the heck wants to be on one of those!!??

All that said, at this point I eat small simple meals Monday-Friday nights, and splurge a bit on the weekends. Here is my #1 tip for beginning to make healthy eating a habit. As well as what I am making for dinner these days!

My tip? Plan Ahead! Though I go in phases where I am planning out my meals for the week, or where I am not. It makes it a whole lot easier when I do. Financially and time-wise (less trips to the grocery store, planning meals using ingredients more than once that week, etc) it makes sense. It also gives me an opportunity to look forward to my meals, knowing what I have planned (and therefore less likely to deter from that on a whim). It also makes it less stressful at the end of the day to just stick with the plan, instead of spending time mulling over what to eat.

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2-3 times per week, I make a ‘mexican’ egg bowl:

2-3 scrambled eggs, 2 slices turkey or regular bacon, a couple tablespoons of black beans, a couple tablespoons of salsa, and about half of an avocado. Takes me 10-15 minutes to make. Buy a can of black beans, rinse them, drain them and store them in a Tupperware or glass container in your fridge and one can will last a couple weeks this way!

1-2 times per week, I make a ‘taco’ salad:

2-3 large handfuls of chopped romaine lettuce, 1/2 chicken breast (boil for 10-15 minutes until no pink in the center, and then shred and season it with any type of chili powder), 2 tablespoons black beans, about half of an avocado and 2-3 tablespoons salsa instead of dressing.

about 2 times per week, I make some variation of chicken (or fish) and veggies:

With the chicken, I usually cut it into bite size pieces and pan-grill it (season it on both sides with sea salt/pepper, etc.), using just enough olive or coconut oil to keep things cooking (instead of burning). Or I will slice up a link of chicken sausage (like Adells) and saute right with the veggies. For fish, I use salmon or cod (well seasoned) and pan fry for just a few minutes on each side. Some common veggie sides that I will use are:

  • Bell Peppers and Onions (sauteed along with the chicken)
  • Mushrooms and Asparagus (trim asparagus and chop mushrooms in half, then in a large bowl mix with a couple garlic cloves minced finely, some rosemary minced, and some olive oil, and mix it all together very well… spread it all out on a baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes or bake at your ovens highest temp 450-500 for around that time)
  • Roasted Red Potatoes, Carrots and Garlic (Chop the potatoes and carrots into bite size pieces and boil for 10 minutes, drain and throw into a large mixing bowl with whole cloves of garlic, add sea salt/pepper and olive oil and mix all of it together well, pour all of it into a glass baking dish lined with aluminum foil — a large enough piece of foil to be able to wrap it all up like it was in a pouch, bake at 350 for 40 minutes or so)
  • Salsa! Just saute the chicken pieces in salsa. Any type of salsa! Tomatillo, Tomato/Garlic, Peach/Tomato, any kind you can think of.
  • Kale (chopped into small pieces, making sure that the stem is not included as it is too tough and uncomfortable to bite down on, mixed in a bowl with olive oil, sea salt/pepper, minced garlic cloves, and minced rosemary leaves.. saute on the stove for just a few minutes)
  • Spicy Green Beans (trim green beans and boil for up to 5 minutes, mix with a little olive oil, and some crushed red pepper flakes, saute about 10 minutes)

Remember, we all have different constraints! Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that you will continue to grow!


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Real Clean: Spicy Chicken Enchilada Soup

Soups are an amazing way to get a ton of veggies in, without having to add any dairy, grains, or even meat (if you are avoiding that too) to your meal. And they can be delicious and filling as well. All of my soups basically start off with the same key ingredients and then I just play around from there to find different combinations (think pot roast potato and veggie soup, Indian spiced soup, and this chicken enchilada soup). So please! Feel free to adjust the ingredients and add others as you like! The ingredients I have placed a ‘*’ next to are the ones that I would recommend as your base if you do choose to play around!

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Makes 5 good size bowls of soup (feeds 2 more than comfortably, and 4 if you add a side dish), and takes about 1 hour-1 hour and 15 minutes to fully prepare (most of this is letting the finished soup simmer)

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 chicken breasts
  • *1-2 T coconut oil
  • *3 cloves of garlic
  • *1 onion (any kind white, yellow or red will do)
  • *various spices: in this case- cumin, coriander, sea salt/pepper, oregano, chile powder
  • *3 cups chopped tomatoes (I like to mix it up with some roma, and some heirloom, but there are no wrong answers here!)*
  • 1 bell pepper (any color)
  • 1 jalapeno, de-seeded
  • 2 T chipotle paste with adobo (might take you a moment to find in your grocery store, but it’s there)
  • *2.5 cups low sodium chicken or veggie broth
  • *6 oz can tomato paste
  • *2-3 large handfuls of greens (chopped spinach, kale, etc.)

Directions:

Get two pots on the burner (one large enough to hold the 5+ bowls of soup — this one needs to have a lid — and a smaller one that will hold the chicken breasts to boil). Start boiling water on high heat in the smaller pot and add the whole chicken breast/s once boiling (you will want this to boil about 15-17 minutes which should be how long it takes you to chop everything else up).

Place the 1-2 T of oil (coconut) into the big pot, and turn the heat to medium high. Peel and chop the garlic up into small chunks (does not have to be minced super tiny), and do the same with the onion. Dump the garlic and onion into the now melted coconut oil and stir around. Add spices as you like, at least a teaspoon of each! Keep stirring mixture. Let the garlic/onions/spices cook (while stirring occasionally) while you chop up all the tomatoes into bite size chunks of various sizes and dump those in too. Let this all cook while you chop up the bell pepper and jalapeno into bite size chunks and add those in.

Add the chipotle paste with adobo, stir. Add the chicken or veggie broth, stir. Add the tomato paste, stir. At this point, I would add a bit more spice as well, again a teaspoon or so of each.

The chicken should be about boiled by now (after 15 minutes for one, 17 for two), so take this out and chop into bite size pieces (use a fork and knife as chicken will be hot!), and add the chicken to the soup. Add the 2-3 handfuls of chopped greens (I promise you won’t taste them and it is a great way to get these suckers in your diet). Stir everything altogether once more.

Turn the heat to high and once the soup is starting to boil, put the lid on and turn it down to low (1-2 if numbered). Set your timer for about 45 minutes to allow chicken to cook a bit more if needed and the rest of the flavors to all meld together and intensify!

YUMM!

And remember, we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that, you will continue to grow!


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The 80/20 Rule (for clean eating)

So. Once I realized (and I mean really realized) that a diet is not a temporary way of being/living/however you want to look at it, I realized that I was going to have to allow myself some wiggle room. This wiggle room is what I have been struggling with lately. I’m ok at being 100% strict when it comes to what kinds of foods I allow in my daily routine. I’m also, as I know from past experience, ok at being 0-50% strict as well (gorging out on fast foods or ice cream, GASP). What I would like to find and maintain is some balance!

I know what I consider clean eating (and it may be different than what you consider clean eating):

  • As many fruits and vegetables as possible (organic)
  • Nuts and seeds (mostly peanut butter with no other ingredients, and chia seeds)
  • Lean (organic, and grass fed when possible) meats such as chicken and fish and occasionally beef (no more than once per week)
  • 100% organic whole grains in terms of breads, pastas, or rice (not during every meal, not even everyday), preferably sprouted grains
  • Organic, grass fed when possible, dairy (butter, cheese, sour cream, etc… sparingly 2-3 times per week)
  • Organic cooking oil, such as coconut oil or ghee (as needed)

So it is easy to see what 100% coherence to these guidelines would be. But is that feasible for the rest of my life, forever and always? I truly do want to get to the point where it is. Where a treat is organic dairy on top of an organic slice of sprouted toast and the ice cream with several ingredients I generally shutter at (and will definitely give my stomach a problem afterwards anyway) just isn’t even appealing at all.

Many folks go by the 80/20 rule, choosing to stay strict within their dietary guidelines 80% of the time. This allows for some ‘cheat’ foods to be eaten 20% of the time. That being said, to some the piece of toast with butter on it would be considered a ‘cheat.’ While to others it would be the ice cream. I’m still trying to figure this out for myself.

Anyway, it has been a journey so far, and will continue to be. I have the rest of my life to work all these details out, and that is important to remember as well. Enjoy today, but keep working towards what you want for all of your tomorrows.

And remember that we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that you will continue to grow. 

 


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Stocking a clean (healthy) kitchen!

shopping

Making sure I always have the following food items on hand, makes it easy to always reach for a healthy meal or snack. Equally important, of course, is keeping the junk out because otherwise a super bad day or a few too many cocktails one night and that junk will be your stomach ache later. It is true that if it’s not in the house, you won’t eat it (and that if it is in my house, I personally will!)

Anyway on to stocking the kitchen:

  • The first thing you need is access to clean fresh water! Ideally through a kitchen faucet filter or filtrating pitcher or something of the sort. You may not be ready to let go of diet coke, or other high sugared fruit juices or energy drinks altogether…. but it is important to always move towards making water your primary source of liquid intake! Tea and black coffee are great alternatives as well!

In the freezer:

  • Frozen lean meats: chicken breasts or whole chicken, lean ground beef or turkey, salmon, or cod. Buy in bulk and freeze in individual serving sizes. Aim for organic, grass fed, antibiotic free meats if at all possible (again, we all have different constraints). If nothing else you ate was organic, it is most important that your meat at least is (blog on why coming soon!).
  • Pre-packaged frozen veggies. Great to have on hand in case you run out of fresh veggies for stir frys, soups, etc.
  • Pre-packaged frozen fruit or homemade smoothie packs.

In the fridge:

  • Eggs (Dairy is second in importance to go organic with. Meat and Dairy organic if possible!)
  • Almond milk (ingredient check for no sugar or carrageenan)
  • Turkey bacon (ingredient check for no sodium nitrates, and again organic and grass-fed if possible)
  • Natural nut butter (peanuts, almonds, cashews, etc… ingredient check for no added sugar or salt and ideally the only ingredient would be peanuts)
  • Fresh Herbs, some last much longer than others such as rosemary and thyme
  • Your favorite greens and other veggies: For us, we always have white mushrooms, bell peppers, kale, spinach, red potatoes, carrots and jalapenos on hand. We also buy green beans, asparagus, artichoke, or Brussel sprouts on a regular occasion.
  • Your favorite fruits: For us, this usually includes green apples, oranges, strawberries and bananas.
  • Other dairy: I try to keep my dairy intake low but organic, grass fed, butters and cheeses can still be part of a healthy diet.
  • Grains: I also try to keep my grain intake low, but prefer 100% whole grain (usually sprouted) bread, sprouted cinnamon raisin bagels (for a treat) and whole grain corn tortillas.

In the pantry:

  • Oils: Coconut oil for cooking, extra virgin olive oil for salads and marinades.
  • Plain tomato Sauce and tomato paste to use for the base to pasta sauces or soups.
  • Low sodium chicken or vegetable broth to use for soups, watering down sauces, adding flavor to rice and pasta while cooking, etc.
  • Whole grain pasta or spaghetti
  • Brown rice
  • Baking supplies if you like occasional treats: whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, organic cane sugar or coconut sugar, organic brown sugar, molasses, pure maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla beans
  • Spices: sea salt, peppercorns in a grinder and cinnamon are must haves and then just start slowly adding to your collection (one new spice per shopping trip perhaps?). For savory spices, try oregano, mustard powder, coriander, etc. For spicy try chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, etc. Check ingredients on spices as well! You never know when sugar or natural flavors are hiding out in these.
  • Garlic and Onions also for extra flavoring!

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Real Clean: Pumpkin Pie Power Smoothie

ImagePumpkin Pie Power Smoothie

This is a smoothie I drink almost daily, as a power/energy boost and generally as a meal replacement. I don’t normally calculate calories, etc. (instead I focus on eating only fresh whole ingredients and minding my portions when it comes to high calorie/fat items), however I have the calculations below the recipe. The nutrients and healthy ingredients are more than worth their weight in this smoothie, because they help with digestion and elimination of toxins as well as to increase energy and stave off hunger. This is primarily due to the chia seeds and the filling and fibrous half banana. This smoothie would be considered vegan, paleo, and clean.

The Recipe:

  Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree (canned with pumpkin as the only ingredient, or fresh roasted at home and frozen into ice cubes, this would be around 4 regular sized cubes…can also substitute 2 tbsp nut butter if you prefer)
  • 2-3 Ice Cubes (unnecessary if using pumpkin cubes as stated above)
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk
  • Seasonings to Taste (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice are all great additions .. I use 2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of ginger, and a pinch of nutmeg myself)
  • 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds (if new to these, I would start with 1/2 tbsp and increase with each smoothie)
  • (optional but recommended) Add-Ins as Desired (I personally use maca powder most of the time and always top my smoothie with some bee pollen, there are a lot of other possible add ins out there. With maca and bee pollen, as with other add-ins, start with a small amount [1/2 tsp or even less] and increase slowly up to 2 tbsp or so)

Preparation:

First, combine frozen and liquid elements (here it is the banana, pumpkin or nut butter, ice cubes if needed, and almond milk) and blend fully. Then add chia seeds and any other spices or add ins, and blend once more. Top with bee pollen if desired.

Nutritional Info:

This is around 220 calories (depending on the type of almond milk used), 11 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbs. So, yes, I suppose high carb. But again, this is a meal replacement and aids in digestion, energy, and staving off hunger for a good period of time.

Some extra smoothie tips

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  • For the frozen banana, there is no right or wrong way persay. I used to buy bananas and if I wasn’t able to use them before they were starting to brown on my counter, I would just toss them in the freezer and then cut off the skin and cut into chunks when needed. But I have found that buying 7+ bananas at once and peeling and chopping them all up and placing each 1/2 banana into its own ziplock bag works wonders.
  • I do roast the pumpkin myself and then freeze the homemade puree into ice cubes and then toss 4 cubes into each of the ziplock bags with the banana. These two steps make these daily smoothies a breeze. Just dump out the baggie into the blender, add almond milk and blend. Then add seasoning, and additional add-ins, blend again and I’m done.
  • Yogurt can also be frozen into cubes and added to the pre-made smoothie packs.
  • Greens are great to add to smoothies and if you add in just a handful, the taste should not even be noticeable (a handful of spinach for example).
  • Berries are also a wonderful fruit to add in if in season, instead of the Pumpkin or Nut butter (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries… all lower in sugar than many fruits and so high in nutrients).
  • I recommend the use of all organic ingredients.

With all the tips I have mentioned, though, I realize we all have different constraints (be them time related, physical, financial, etc). On this journey to health each of us needs to do the best we can with what we have and what we know. As long as we are doing that, we will continue to grow!