How to Be Un-Lazy.

Hello dear friends. As I sit here mustering up the energy to workout today, I decided to write about it. I might be procrastinating, in reality.

Finding Motivation

Although I intended on exercising first thing this morning, I didn’t. I could make the excuse that the tiny people inhabiting my home startled me awake at dawn; but truthfully, that isn’t the reason. I just didn’t want to do anything this morning. Wait – that’s not true. I’ve been super domestic, actually. Sheets are changed, floor is swept, laundry is tumbling away in the dryer. Babies are fed and clean. So, what’s the deal?

Motivation comes in many packages. Some are motivated by positive feedback, such as praise. Some are motivated by fear. Fear of failure, specifically, can be a huge driving force. Whatever it is inside us, we often simply haven’t spent enough time with self-reflection to find it. If we do know what motivates us, we still have to spend the time to cultivate it or it will wilt like a little flower that hasn’t been watered.

Whether you are struggling with motivation to eat better, move more, or really any other goal you have, the real trick is developing your why. Your why is metaphorically the tiny little flame deep inside your belly. Why do you want to be healthier? Why do you want stronger muscles? If weight loss is what you desire, then why? It might seem silly, or even obvious. But sometimes it’s not.

While teaching a weight loss class one time, I asked each participant why he or she wanted to lose weight. Each looked at me like I had four heads; it seemed like such a stupid question. “Um, duh, Casey” is what their faces all said. But “duh” isn’t accurate.

Me: “[Lady], why do you want to lose weight?”

Lady: “Uhh….well, because weight loss would help me have less knee pain.”

Me: “Why would less knee pain be good?” (c’mon, bear with me here…)

Lady: “Well, less knee pain would allow me to walk more.”

Me: “Why would you want to walk more?”

Lady: “If I could walk more without pain, I could travel more. [eyes tear up] I used to travel all over the world; but I can’t now because it’s too painful on my knees to walk around touring places.”

Me: “Bingo.”

Maybe that lady’s example doesn’t exactly hit home for you directly, but I hope you get the point. The point is, preventing diabetes isn’t a dazzling motivator on a lazy Sunday morning. The idea of reducing my cholesterol and blood pressure doesn’t jolt me out of bed for some treadmill time. I know exercise would do those things, but that honestly isn’t enough to motivate me.

I’ll share with you what my motivations have been over the years. Mine are dynamic, and yours can be too.

My motivation to get through Army basic training as a fat, out-of-shape teenager was the fact that I absolutely had to prove everyone wrong. I had so many people tell me I couldn’t do it. Some said “did you know you can’t wear mascara in boot camp, Casey?” When my hands were literally bloody from doing a zillion push-ups on the rocks, and I truly didn’t think I could keep going, I remembered how pissed I was at all those naysayers. I’ll spare you the saga of the injuries my non-athletic body endured during that nine weeks, but I only made it through that pain because of the motivation to prove I could do it. (And I did, like a boss.)

In my current career as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), I am charged with being a spokesperson of health. If I am trying to inspire people to be super fit and healthy, I guess I should be fit and healthy, right? I am far from perfect, but the thing that keeps me from eating poorly and turning completely gelatinous is that someone, somewhere, might be using me as a symbol of hope.

A silly, yet powerful, motivator for me is that I really, really want to be strong. I want arms that resemble those warrior ladies on the newest Wonder Woman movie. I really do. Gone are the days of my teen years wanting to be “skinny.” I never want to be skinny; I want to be strong AF. So, when I am tempted by the warmth and coziness of being lazy all day, I envision the chiseled body I want, and usually it’s enough to get me off the couch…eventually.

arms

Ask yourself “why” over and over until you get a little misty-eyed; that means you found that little flame in your belly. We don’t need no water; let the motherf***er burn.

xoxo,
Casey

The Reasoning to Tweak Your Seasoning

My loves. I hope you have been doing so well! Today I would like to share with you some coveted recipes I have.

Normally, I’m not a big recipe-sharing blogger by any means. I don’t have fancy camera skills or lighting tricks or any of that, nor do my recipes have great visual appeal anyhow! But these are not your average recipes.

What I’m about to share with you could hopefully serve as a teensy little way to up your weekday game and improve your health a little along the way. I’m talking about steering you away from buying seasoning packets.

The reason I recommend avoiding those little packets of seasoning mix is mainly because they are often fraught with hidden ingredients such as (but not limited to) monosodium glutamate (MSG), various forms of soy, and other unfortunate additives.

I am fairly certain that MSG triggers migraines for me. I never had a migraine until the end of my second pregnancy, and now I get them sporadically throughout the years ever since.

Others may not have an overt problem from consuming food additives, but there are no benefits to them; only risks, even if unseen. These risks can sometimes show their faces indirectly.

In some cases, food sensitivities show up wearing the mask of IBS, depression, anxiety, migraines, obesity, acne, and many other conditions. Most ailments are not caused by one thing; rather a combination of factors contribute, including unnecessary food additives, food dyes, etc.

The topic of food sensitivities and their presentation requires a much longer conversation. That discussion would be best suited during an individualized series of visits with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who can help you determine the best style of eating for you and your specific health picture.

I know the suspense is killing you…so here are my two coveted seasoning recipes. Use them and love them. Tweak them to make them your own. Enjoy!

chili-2

tacos

 

 

Does Your Salad Suck? Lettuce Fix That.

Hey! Hope you are doing well. I’m fine, thanks for asking.

Does your salad suck?

Lettucetalk about salads. (Cute, huh.) But seriously. I grew up in the heartland of America as they say. The definition of a “salad” when I was a kid was one of three things: a mayo-laden-noodle concoction; a very strange combination of things that shouldn’t be combined (like Jell-O and cottage cheese); or iceberg lettuce with shards of cabbage and specks of carrots. If it were the iceberg lettuce option, it was either topped with either Thousand Island, Dorothy Lynch, or Hidden Valley. Some of you reading this are totally appalled; others of you are totally taking a walk down memory lane to the Hidden Valley…

Nonetheless, I think it is time we redefine the term salad, and start to celebrate that little nest of nutrients. For the purposes of today, a salad consists of a base of dark, leafy greens, and is topped with WHATEVER! That’s the thing – you can be so creative with this project. Once you swim away from Thousand Island toward more healthy shores, you will be amazed at the flavor explosions that happen.

Let me give you some examples. Today’s real-food combo of deliciousness in my belly consisted of:

About 2 big handfuls of baby kale

A small handful of blueberries

About 2 or 3 green onions

Half an avocado

A spoonful of full-fat cottage cheese

Some leftover cooked chicken from Sunday’s dinner.

Notice the lack of true measurements with this. Measuring isn’t health! Counting isn’t health! The essence is that most of the meal should be mostly non-starchy vegetables (kale, green onions), a small bit of fiber-rich carbs (blueberries), and a good portion of protein and fat (chicken, cottage cheese, avocado). Notice I didn’t use any dressing – the cottage cheese and avocado provided the perfect amount of creaminess and fat for my liking. Sometimes I will add a splash of balsamic vinegar to add a little zing. Today I didn’t. That’s the greatest part, versatility! I also like the combination of the tangy/savory flavor of the onions and stuff along with the sweet of the blueberries. Play around. Get crazy.

Some tips:

  • I like to use “baby” greens for two reasons. Their dark, vibrant green color indicates their significant nutrient content, and they are already small enough that no chopping is necessary. I might be a little overly trustful when they claim they are “triple washed,” but I like not having to get out the salad spinner to make a quick meal.
  • If you like green onions as I do, I’d like you to know that the most simple, efficient way to chop them up is to use kitchen scissors to cut them! You. Are. Welcome. Just make sure you have a designated set of scissors that are truly only for food in order to avoid contaminating your food with unwanted visitors or non-food goo.
  • I may be breaking the family circle of trust with this one…but my dear brother researched the PERFECT salad container for packing your lunch for work. It can be found here. It makes a great gift. I can attest to that, as it was a Christmas gift from said brother. Don’t thank me, thank him.
  • You can buy nuts that are already chopped up for you. Did you know that? Right there in the produce section (could be somewhere else in your store), you can find already-chopped-up pecans, walnuts, sliced almonds, etc. Cool huh?! Keep them in the fridge for longer-lasting freshness.
  • Put all your fixings in a giant container with a tight-fitting lid or a gallon ziplock in order to shake the whole thing up and cover every inch with flavor from all the ingredients. Worth the little extra effort of literally shaking things up.

 

Alright, now let’s gather some ideas. Remember, any healthy meal follows the basic outline of PROTEIN + FAT + FIBER; a salad is no exception. Below are some of my favorite options:

Base (largest aspect of your salad, ideally):

  • Baby arugula
  • Baby kale
  • Baby spring mix
  • Baby spinach
  • Baby power blends
  • Baby romaine
  • Any mix of the above ^
  • Any chopped up version of the non-baby greens
  • Chopped cabbage
  • Chopped or shaved Brussels sprouts

Protein & fat (a quantity that is about half the volume of your greens):

  • Leftover cooked chicken (keep some skin, yum!) or rotisserie chicken
  • Leftover roast beef from your crockpot adventures
  • Leftover steak
  • Boiled eggs
  • Nuts and seeds:
    • Chopped pecans
    • Chopped walnuts
    • Shelled sunflower seeds
    • Sliced or slivered almonds
    • Shelled pumpkin seeds
  • Cooked bacon
  • Shredded cheese (shred your own from real cheese)
  • Feta cheese
  • Gorgonzola cheese
  • Avocado
  • Dressing (ideally an olive oil or avocado oil-based vinaigrette with very few ingredients, or your own little mix)

Add-ins (just there for show, like a sprinkling of joy):

  • Berries
  • Tomatoes (any kind!)
  • Craisins
  • Chopped pears (especially good with walnuts and balsamic…OMG)
  • Everything But the Bagel seasoning
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Cucumbers
  • Bell peppers

By no means is this list of ideas all-inclusive. Get wild and crazy with it. If you are using dressing, try to find those with minimal ingredients, or make your own. I’ve been known to mix extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic or apple cider vinegar in a tiny little container just before I dump them on the salad.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! One day you are going to find that you make a salad that utterly changes the way you think of salads. I have found myself actually daydreaming about the salad I was going to make for my next meal. I hope that you can find the right combo of ingredients for your salads one day so that you can be excited about nutrient-rich eating. Let me know how it goes!

Xoxo – Casey