Cheaters Never Win, Unless It’s With Moderation

Top of the morning/afternoon/evening/night/whatever time you’re reading this to my readers! This week I’m going to share with you a secret of my weight loss that not a lot of people understand. Just because I eat healthy most of the time it doesn’t mean that I don’t still get to enjoy some of my favorite foods. So many programs and people will tell you that in order to see results you have to completely change the way that you eat and avoid anything that’s bad for you. But the truth of the matter is, that’s no way to live your life. It’s absolutely not sustainable for long periods of time. If you’re giving up everything that you want to eat, you’re left with eating stuff you don’t want to eat and how can you be expected to keep that up long enough to see results? You can’t. I was recently introduced to the idea of the 80/20 rule which allows you to balance your diet by eating well 80% of the time and giving yourself 20% of leeway. This seems to be the way I work my cheat meals that works well for me.

So here’s one of the secrets to my success, I’ve never completely stopped eating the things that I love. For me, the number one craving I get that is hard to satisfy while keeping a healthy lifestyle is pizza. I can blame my Italian roots, or the fact that growing up we had pizza every Saturday night, but I think that really when it comes down to it I just really love pizza. I used to eat pizza pretty frequently, and when you pay for delivery it’s definitely not cheap. Now I definitely have my days where I go all out on carbs and eat a real legitimate pizza, but most of the time I try to stick to thin crust. It’s a modification, sure, but it’s definitely better than not getting any pizza at all and it honestly satisfies my cravings. Most of the time I just buy frozen thin crust pizza and have it on the days I do my long runs. With how many calories I burn, I can usually eat the whole thing for dinner and still be under my calorie total for the day. Which feels pretty awesome. Lately though I’ve been trying a lower carb meal plan so I haven’t been able to really eat pizza unless I seriously prepare for it. But you can bet that on my cheat days it’s definitely what I want.

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Last week’s cheat day dinner- an incredible build your own pizza from Blaze Pizza!

That’s another thing you should keep in mind, everybody needs cheat days. No one wants to eat salads and clean food every single day. You’ve gotta give yourself some leniency, especially given that sometimes you need to eat a little crazy to kick start your metabolism if you’re in a slump and have stalled in weight loss. Personally, I reserve my cheat days for Fridays for the simple reason that it’s Chris’s day off of work and we usually like to go out and eat or he wants to cook something that doesn’t fit into my meal parameters. This allows me to have a day that I can look forward to for most of the week, and keeps me from cheating on other days. If I know I have a cheat day coming up that’s no more than 6 days away, I can stick to my healthy eating for the most part.

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Recent cheat day included a trip to Wahlburgers Orlando which had the awesome option of putting any burger on a chop salad to make it lower carb! So I made up for it with Sweet Potato Tots instead. 

Another fun part, at least in my opinion, about making changes to your diet and eating is getting to explore new recipes. I’ve got several pinterest boards with oodles and oodles of recipes on them that are healthy. Some are paleo, keto, whole30, and some are just low calorie but I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to broaden my culinary horizons and find some new foods that I love. 2 years ago I would not eat sweet potatoes after a bad incident from my childhood that involved me getting sick and it being orange and scarring. Now I eat them probably every other week in some form. I’ve spent time perfecting my mashed sweet potato recipe and I’m pretty proud of it. In my 25 years I had never even tried Brussel sprouts until this past December, and now I can’t get enough of them. I have a favorite recipe that I got from my godmother, but I also love to use them in other recipes. I made this incredible pork and Brussel sprouts skillet a few weeks back that was seriously one of my favorite dishes I’ve ever made and it had less than 10g carbs per serving. Prior to my weight loss journey beginning, I made pasta probably twice a week and my “recipes” were a handful of family recipes and the occasional chicken dish I had thrown together. Now I make a new recipe almost every week and repeat the ones I really love when I crave them. It makes me feel like a real cook.

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This paleo pork and brussel sprouts skillet was seriously the bomb diggity. 

The point I’m trying to make here is that just because you want to lose weight and feel or look better it doesn’t mean that you have to give up eating the things that you love. If you’re like me, you might even discover new foods that you enjoy and you never would have given a second glance previously. Also I would like to add that when you’re first starting out, don’t go for broke and start eating nothing but salads or you will never stick with it. Initially I just controlled my portions and counted calories and was losing weight at a pretty quick clip. I’m almost 2 years into my journey and I just started trying a low carb diet about a month ago, it’s all about trying things and seeing what works for you. In the past, I didn’t need to do low carb to lose weight but recently I wanted to see if trying it would do anything positive for me. Since I started, I’ve lost half an inch from my waist and about 6 pounds when I spent months at the same weight. Basically try a lot of different things and see what works best for you! Weight loss is an individual activity, just because some crazy diet worked for someone else it doesn’t mean it will have the same results for you. Listen to your body and give it what it wants.

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And for me that means my body wants pizza. Always. So I have to cut it back a bit. 

Greek Turkey Burgers & Cilantro Lime Shrimp

Hey howdy hey readers! So I know it’s not a Monday, but I wanted to get a post in before the end of the week and I figured I would put up a couple recipes I used recently. Last week I meal prepped lunches & dinners as I was trying to focus on my nutrition, so I made turkey burgers for lunch (along with a delicious tzatziki sauce) and cilantro lime shrimp for shrimp tacos for dinner. The turkey burgers were 163 calories each (before adding pitas and the tzatziki which was only 21 calories a serving) with 19g of protein in each serving. The cilantro lime roasted shrimp was 113 calories per serving with 28g of protein. As always, at the end I’ll add the recipe write-ups to make shopping easier.

We’ll start with the turkey burgers, as they involve more prep time and actual cooking. I started by making the tzatziki sauce so it had more time to soak in the flavors while the burgers were cooking. The tzatziki is just 7 oz. low fat Greek yogurt, 1/4 tsp minced garlic, 1/4 tsp dried dill, juice of half a lemon, and a dash of salt.

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Super tasty and low fat tzatziki! 

To start the burgers, make sure your spinach is thawed out and if not go ahead and defrost it. You want to dry out the spinach as best you can, I did my best to wring it out with paper towels so that it doesn’t weigh down the burgers. Then you chop up the spinach to avoid getting any long stringy pieces, as well as chopping the sun dried tomatoes and 1/4 of a red onion. In a mixing bowl combine the chopped veggies with the ground turkey, feta, minced garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. You want to mix it well so all of the filling is evenly distributed.

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It doesn’t look super appetizing at the moment, but here’s the burger mix. 

This mix will make 6 pretty good sized patties, make sure to form them tightly as you don’t want to lose any of your filler ingredients! I also advise making an indent in the center of each patty the size of 2 thumbs so when you’re cooking them in the skillet they don’t turn into softballs.

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Patties all ready to go into the pan! 

Cook the burgers over medium heat, I did 3 at a time in about a tbsp of olive oil for each side. I cooked them covered in a skillet for about 3 minutes on each side. Since these are turkey burgers and not beef burger, I wanted them to be cooked all the way through instead of keeping them a little rare like I normally would.

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Patties all done cooking and ready to be put away for consumption throughout the week. 

The way I served my turkey burgers was on a Flatout Foldit pita, atop a bed of arugula. I also spread the tzatziki on both halves of the pita/bread and topped with another sprinkle of feta. With all of that, each lunch topped out at around 300 calories- which is not too shabby in my book. Especially for something that tasted so good.

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A tasty, low-cal lunch! 

Next up was the cilantro lime roasted shrimp for my tacos! You want to preheat your oven to 400 degrees before you start working on the shrimp. Now unless you want the extra work I had, buy your shrimp peeled and deveined. I used 1.5 lbs of shrimp because I wanted 6 servings for my tacos. You begin by making the sauce/glaze which consists of 3/4 cup chopped cilantro, red wine vinegar, olive oil, lime juice, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, lime zest, salt, and pepper whisking to combine.

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A very cilantro-heavy sauce for the shrimpies. 

After your sauce is prepared, you want to pour it over the shrimp and mix it well so the shrimp are thoroughly coated. After you’ve mixed it well, you evenly distribute the shrimp onto a foil lined cookie sheet so that they’re in a thin layer.

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Ready for the oven! 

After cooking for 10 minutes, pull the shrimp out and garnish with some fresh cilantro if you so desire. I set aside my shrimp for dinner but then packed away the rest in tupperware for my tacos!

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A lot of delicious shrimp for dinner! 

As for my shrimpies, as I mentioned I put them in tacos for dinner. I used 2 carb balance tortillas each night topped with half an avocado, shredded lettuce, red onion, and some tomatoes. Each dinner was about 500 calories with a lot of fresh and healthy ingredients to satiate my frequent craving for Mexican food and stick to my healthier lifestyle.

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Voila! Shrimp tacos! On the first night I tossed a bit of the extra feta in there for a bonus treat. 


Greek Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce 

Tzatziki ingredients

  • 7 oz. plain greek yogurt
  • 1 medium fresh lemon
  • ¼ tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp dried dill

Instructions

  1. Prepare the sauce by combining the yogurt, ¼ tsp minced garlic, dry dill, juice of half the lemon and a dash of salt. Stir everything to combine and then refrigerate to allow the flavors to blend while you make the burgers.

Greek Turkey Burger ingredients

  • 1.25 lb. ground turkey
  • 6 halves sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 oz. frozen spinach
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp minced garlic

Instructions

  1. Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Roughly chop the spinach to prevent long stringy pieces. Also chop the sun dried tomatoes and ¼ of the red onion.
  2. In a bowl combine the ground turkey with the spinach, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, feta, ½ tsp minced garlic, dried oregano, egg, bread crumbs, ½ tsp of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Stir everything until it is evenly combined. Shape the mixture into six patties.
  3. Cook the burgers on a counter top grill, a non-stick skillet or over open flame. I did mine in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, covered for 3 minutes on each side.

 

Cilantro Lime Roasted Shrimp 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs shrimp, shell off and deveined
  • ¾ cup of fresh cilantro, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime (about 1 tablespoons)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon of pepper
  • zest of one lime

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a small bowl mix, ¾ cup of fresh cilantro, red wine vinegar, olive oil, lime juice, 2 minced garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, lime zest, salt, and pepper. Whisk until combined.
  3. Pour cilantro lime sauce over shrimp that has been patted dry, toss to coat everything.
  4. Spread seasoned shrimp out on a baking sheet, making sure they are in a single layer.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until pink.