Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Eat Yourself Skinny- Healthy Chicken Spaghetti

A lot of you have asked exactly what I eat so once I week I decided I'm going to share a recent, healthy meal I've made!

I came across a healthy chicken spaghetti recipe on Pinterest & made it for dinner a few nights ago and it was amaaziing!

Yes, I really did just Instagram a pic of my food haha!

Ingredients You Need:
2 skinless chicken breasts (I bought organic)
1/2  tsp each of dried oregano & basil
salt & pepper to taste (I didn't use any salt)
8 oz spagetti- make sure you get either high in fiber or low carb kind.  I bought Ronzoni Smart Taste brand
2 cups of grape tomatoes- I was able to get these from my garden at home!
6 garlic cloves- they need to be smashed & finely chopped
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 TBSP chopped basil- I got some from my neighbors garden!
cooking spray

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, dried oregano and basil.
Heat a large skillet- when it's hot spray with the cooking spray and add the chicken.
I cooked it for about 5 minutes until it was no longer pink.
Remove the chicken & set aside.

Bring a pot of water to boil.
Once boiling, add spaghetti noodles & cook according to the directions on the package. When done, drain the pasta but save 1/2 Cup of the water you boiled the spaghetti in.

(while the pasta is boiling): add olive oil to a skillet on high heat.  Add the garlic & saute- it should be a golden brown but make sure you don't burn it.  Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper for taste and reduce the heat to medium- saute everything for about 5 min.

Once pasta is done, add the saute garlic & tomatoes to the pasta. Toss it and then add the chicken and some fresh basil!  If the pasta is too try you can add some of the water you set aside!  I added a little grated parmesan cheese on top for taste.

The whole meal was easy and super quick to cook and it tasted so good. There was also enough leftovers to eat the next day at work! Take that to everyone who has ever said you couldn't eat pasta & lose weight!

Hope you try & enjoy this recipe!

I've been 'pinning' low fat dinners, desserts, drinks, and appetizers so feel free to 'follow' me on Pinterest for more recipes: My Pinterest.  & feel free leave your email if you don't have an account yet but want an invite to Pinterest.  I can't wait to try and share all the great recipes I've came across!


Friday, July 20, 2012

DIY Personalized Envelope Liners

This might just be the EASIEST, CUTEST DIY project ever!

Photo envelope liners add the perfect, cutest, personalized touch to any envelope- I did them on our save the date envelopes but you could use them on envelopes for a child's birthday party invitation with a pic of your baby, birth announcement with a newborn photo, graduation party invitation with a pic of the grad.. you can do it for almost anything!

& they're super easy.. if I can do it, so you can you!

What you need:
printer & regular white paper
envelopes (obviously)

1:  Decide on the picture you want to use and insert it onto a word document so it can be printed on regular paper.  Make sure you enlarge your photo in the document so it will cover the inside of the envelope.  Also, make sure the photo subject will be centered or shown on the inside of the envelope.  I've found horizontal photos usually work the best.  After you have the photo enlarged on the word document, just print it out onto regular, white computer paper.
Photo enlarged on a word document

2.  Trace the envelope onto the photo. Usually, the photo will not be as long as the envelope, just make sure the photo is long enough to be 'tucked in' a little to the envelope so there is no blank space showing where your liner should be.

3.  Cut along the traced lines from the envelope 
Notice I cut off more than I actually traced- there needs to be room so the liner isn't covering the glue strip on the envelope.  I also just like my liners shorter so I don't have to glue as much of the liner down.  You may need to trim the sides also so it fits inside the envelope.
4. Glue liner to envelope 
I used Scotch (made in USA!) Scrapbooker's glue- I know it's a strong adhesive so the liner won't come unglued. I covered the entire back of the liner with the glue and simply placed inside the envelope and that's all! Make sure you leave the envelope sealer strip (whatever it's called! -that strip you have to lick to seal it!) exposed and not covered with the liner!

5. All Done! See, I told you that was the easiest DIY project ever! 

Here's some tips:
*Instead of printing out however many copies from your own printer if you have a lot of liners to make- print 1 liner on computer paper that works & go make copies at a local store or library.  It saved me time and ink!
*When you have your liner cut out after you traced the envelope on it- use that as a template and trace on the other photo copies.  This was a bit easier for me than tracing the evelope everytime. 

Hopefully you find this as easy, cool and useful as I do!

Photo Update

I'm terrible at remembering to take pictures of my progress but thought I'd share a photo taken March 21 (I had already lost 15 pounds when the first photo was taken) & one taken July 19-

I'm going to really start working on getting toned & will be posting some workouts I find effective! 
stay motivated :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nom. Nom.

2 posts in 1 day! Woo! Weight Loss Wednesday!!

Several people have emailed me asking what I exactly eat every day, my meal plans etc so I thought I would share some of the healthy things I eat!

Some people have asked me what diet I'm on & I'll always respond with I'm not.. I've just changed to eating healthy and actually working out.  This whole experience- going through gaining so much weight and being in denial about it to working so hard to lose it all has honestly been a wake up call and lifestyle change for me.  Before, I had no problem eating Hardee's biscuits and gravy with pop for breakfast, a large Coke and Big Mac with fries for lunch, and pizza with beer for dinner.  Now, I grimace just typing and reading that.  I don't do 'fad' diets or the diets my friends tell me to try.. every day I eat healthy, am aware of what I'm putting into my body and I now work out.  After I've lost every pound I want to, I will continue to eat what I'm eating now and will still work out to maintain the weight I want to be.

The 1 and only thing I have 100% cut out of my diet is coffee and frap like drinks. That's it.  I haven't had a cup of coffee or cappuccino in over 6 months- which was so hard in the beginning because every day on my way to work I used to stop at a local coffee shop and order a large coffee drink.  I cut it out because it's a drink that didn't fill me up (wasted calories is what I call that when you consume something but get no 'full filling' from it), was SO fattening (the owner thought my favorite drink had about 1200 calories for a large) and it's expensive ($6-$8 a drink, every day for me).  Now, I couldn't care less to have any coffee every morning.

Occasionally I'll have a cherry coke with my dinner because let's face it- water just isn't the most exciting and tasty thing to drink all the time.  I'll grab a snack bag of chips from time to time.  I still go out to eat.  I do all of that, I've just changed the way I do it.  
If I want chocolate, I get the fun sized dark chocolate Hershey bars and have one.
If I want pop, I have one can at dinner and that's it.
If I go out to eat (maybe once a week now but before, I kid you not, it was at least probably 5 nights a week before) I ask for smaller portions, cut out mayo, no appetizers, and pick a healthier option like the baked chicken over fried, veggies for the side instead of chips etc.
I also split a dessert if I go out to eat.

Don't cut out everything *unhealthy* from your diet.  You will go insane.  I tried to at first- absolutely no pop, no candy, no chips, no ice cream etc but I was like a rabid dog pretty much foaming at the mouth, ready to attack anyone I saw eating a candy bar.  It's just crazy.  If you have a craving or really want something you cut out, eat what you want just NOT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT. I promise you won't get thunder thighs just because you decided to have one ice cream cone last month.

If you've read anything I've written before you also know I truly think 5 smaller meals a day (3 meals, 2 snacks) has helped me.  I stay full throughout the day, I have energy throughout the day and my metabolism keeps going because I'm refueling it.
So, yesterday I ate:

Breakfast 8:30 am- cup of vanilla yogurt & a peach with a cup of cold green tea.
Snack 10:30 am- 100 calorie pack of vanilla covered pretzels.
Lunch 1 pm- Lean Cuisine Cheese Pizza meal with a bottle of water.
Snack 4 pm- Nature's Valley oat granola bar
Dinner 7 pm - Broccoli with small baked chicken breast and some baby tomatoes.

*So many people ask how I can eat Lean Cuisines- well, they're pretty cheap, easy to make and can be made at work (toss in microwave) relatively healthy/low calorie and since I already had breakfast and a snack, I'm not starving so they do fill me up.

On Monday:
Breakfast 7am- Bowl of oatmeal with some blueberries with a glass of non fat organic milk
Snack 10a- serving of cottage cheese with baby tomatoes
Lunch 12p- 1 cup (half can) low sodium chicken & vegetable Progresso Soup with a bottle of water
Snack 4pm- Cup of strawberry yogurt
Dinner 6pm- Baked chicken salad- a small baked chicken breast on lettuce, garden tomatoes, carrots, asparagus and cucumbers with no dressing since it tasted good already! and a glass of tea.

I decided from now on, I'm going to start posting once a week some favorite and easy meals each week for all of you!

I did come across a DELICIOUS 'healthy' and easy to make brownie I had to share!
I purchased it at a local HyVee store and literally all you do is dump the brownie mix in a bowl, add 2/3 cup of Vanilla yogurt (or applesauce if you're lactose intolerant), mix, and bake for 30 min! Seriously! No eggs, flour, butter, milk or anything- just vanilla yogurt!  They taste freaking delicious too, especially the mint flavor to me!  One brownie is a little over 100 calories I believe but no trans fat!

What are some of your favorite healthy meals to eat or make!?

I'm going to start 'pinning' actual healthy, easy to make meals instead of the *quadruple chocolate chip fudge brownies that are more calories than you should eat all year* recipes I always fall for so feel free to follow me on Pinterest here: Amanda Byerly's Pinterest.  Don't have a Pinterest yet?  Feel free to leave your email & I can send you an invite to Pinterest :)


Smart (phone) Weight Loss

Some of you may read this post and not find it useful at all because you already knew about it or are using what I'm talking about but hopefully it helps some out there!

I just got an iPhone for the first time in April and I.Love.It!  I recently discovered a ton of apps to help aid in weight loss & have a personal favorite one I wanted to share!

It's called Lose It! (the icon is an orange scale) and it's the most useful app I have. And it's free!

In a nutshell, the app calculates the calories you eat per day, the exercise you do per day and helps track your weight loss.

You start Lose It! With your information of what you weigh now and your goal weight- it calculates a Daily Calorie Budget for you based on your information:

You then can enter the food you eat every day for every meal.  I love Lose It! Because it has stores, name brands, recipes, restaurants, etc already programed that you can find your exact meal in to get an exact calorie count or you can add your own recipe for an estimated calorie count: 

You can add every meal, snack, or drink you consume throughout the day to keep track of your calorie count.  Notice on the top bar as well how it keeps track of your calorie budget, calories consumed and calories lost from exercise: 

Lose It! also tracks the exercise/activities you do.  You can select from the exercises they have listed (which there is a ton of activities listed like bowling, carpentry, darts, martial arts, etc) and customize the length and intensity of the work out or activity or you can create your own if you don't see it listed for an estimated account of how many calories burned.

You can also enter your weight each week or month and Lose It! will track your progress! I love seeing how that line has gone down and how it's over halfway to my goal weight!

I've said before I'm a huge fan of diet journals and Lose It! is a convenient diet journal I'll always have with me.  Keeping track of what I eat helps me really pay attention to what I'm putting into my body, how much of it and when.  It's really helped me stop that random, unnecessary snacking on junk food because I'm so much more aware of what and how much I'm eating.

However, I'm not too big on calorie counting- it's just not *that* necessary for me.  I really try to use common sense: obviously eating the cup of yogurt and fruit for breakfast is better than that triple bacon and egg sandwich.  No matter how many calories each has but it's nice Lose It! tracks everything for me so I don't have to calorie count or keep track on my own.

I've found a few other apps I thought I would mention but Lose It! has been my favorite and I use it every single day!

Diet Point is another app that gives users recipes and shopping lists for diet and cleanses.  I checked it out after a friend gave it to me and I'm sure some of the cleanses might work for people beginning to lose weight to get started but I'm changing my whole lifestyle to eating right and losing weight so a diet wasn't what I was wanting or needing.  If you do find a diet on there that works for you (they have tons and information about all of them as well as the weight you can expect to lose on the diet to help you find the right one of you) they also have a shopping list to go along with that diet so you know exactly what you need for it.

My Fitness Pal is another app nearly the same as Lose It! that you can check out- I just found Lose It! to be super user friendly and I love the huge selection of food and workouts to chose from but My Fitness Pal is so similar.

Hopefully some of you can check out the Lose It! app and find it to be as useful for yourself as I've found it to be!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Busy Losing Weight.

New Tips & Tricks on making weight loss easier & more enjoyable!

I apologize for my absence on posting updates & tips!  Big, big life changes have been happening and I've been quite the busy bride!

In April my fiance was offered a great job with BNSF railroad but it required him to move 16 hours away to North Dakota so I've been adjusting to that!  Finishing up our wedding planning with him 16 hours away isn't ideal but we're doing the best we can!

But now that I finally have a little down time I wanted to post allll about the progress I've made as well as a few new tips!

Now, I started my blog hoping I would maybe help a few people get motivated, stay inspired etc but WOW the amount of emails, messages and posts I've received have been so encouraging and inspiration TO ME!  I never thought I could reach out to as many people that I have.  It literally brought tears to my eyes.  The best feeling is knowing there are so many people in the same boat as you and when the waves start rocking that boat and things seems tough it's great to have people push you and rescue you and get you motivated and inspired again.  So THANK YOU to everyone who have shared similar stories and for all the kind words of encouragement!  I started my weight loss journey March 1 & am still going strong!

I wanted to first talk about my current motivators:
1. My wedding.  It is the biggest motivation I've ever had.  If you want to lose weight set a wedding date and get a dress.  Nothing will make you want to work hard and start eating healthy like knowing you have a beautiful dress you want to look your best in.  Seriously! Once it hit me I was getting married soon I went into overdrive trying to shed the pounds.  My one and only regret this whole journey is that I didn't start trying to get healthy sooner.  I should have started this years ago instead of just 6 months before my wedding but I just didn't have the motivation!

2. When I can finally see my fiance... Being 16 hours away we don't see each other much. at all.  Maybe 2 weekends a month if we're lucky.  The last time I saw him was July 1 and I won't see him again until July 26.  That time in between is a great motivator.  When he sees me after 3 weeks I want him to notice a difference! It can be hard to see a difference in a person when you're with them often but working out and eating right for the 3 weeks we're apart should be enough for him to notice some changes!  

3. Boudoir photos.  As  a wedding gift to my fiance I'm getting tasteful photos of myself done.  MOTIVATOR!! A year ago I would never, never, everrrr get photos of myself done. Absolutely not. NO.  But now that I've lost some weight and am feeling better about myself, hell yes I'm going to flaunt what I got!  It's pretty motivating knowing I'm getting photos done so I've been swimming my butt off! I know I want to lose even more weight so I probably will look back at the photos thinking I look heavy in them but you know what, I feel great right now, my fiance loves (always has loved) the way I look and I'm going to celebrate my body and the hard work I've done!  Side note: you should check out  Jennifer Lee Photographee.  She's doing my photos and she's insanely talented so I know they'll be beautiful & classic.

What are your motivators?  How do you stay motivated?!

Well.. I have some tips for that!

I've always said make your goals visible.  They won't slip to the back of your mind, you won't go for that oreo double chocolate cheesecake fudge dessert, and seeing them should make you want to work out, go for a walk, swim, etc.

Along with making your goals visible.. make your weight loss visible.  What do I mean by this?  Make it known and show that you've lost weight! Acknowledge what you've done and how far you've come!  Here's what I did:  I listed my weight from my heaviest to my goal.  I have two goals- a goal on my wedding day and a goal overall that I probably won't reach until a few months after my wedding.  Well, every pound I lose, I mark off that weight!! It's so great seeing all those numbers crossed off knowing what I'm doing is working and paying off!! I only weigh myself once a month- (the beginning of every month) so it's SUPER exciting to go to my chart and cross off 7 or 10 pounds!  This also works if you weight yourself weekly- crossing off 1, 2 or 3 pounds still shows you're working hard but that it's working!! I hang this on my fridge next to my reward chart just as a reminder of how far I've come but also how far I have to go.
Some people have asked why I have the charts visible... isn't it embarrassing you were that fat asked one of my friends.  And you know what I say?  I say I'm not embarrassed.  I'm embarrassed I never did anything but I'm more proud I took action, changed my lifestyle and have worked hard to lose weight.  That is nothing to be embarrassed about.  Please, please don't ever be embarrassed or ashamed of your size or weight.  If you're exercising and eating right to lose weight you should be most proud you've done something to make yourself healthy.    

Another quirky little thing I do to make my goal visible is:
literally write it on my hand.  I've said before I swim as the biggest form of exercise and sometimes I just want to quit.  I'm tired, just want to go home, eat pizza and watch Real Housewives instead of being in the pool. But I look down at my hand.. see the reminder I want to be a skinny, beautiful, healthy bride and I get my second wind.  Try it!

Another tip: ride your bike or walk anywhere you can.  I've been riding my bike to work.  Which, let me say my work is about 8 miles away from my house.  Not 8 nice, even miles.  8 hilly miles.  I leave an hour before I have to be at work and don't get home until an hour after I'm off.  It's hard. I get sweaty. My legs ache.  But I always feel so damn good.  I'm a nanny so my bosses don't care if I wear tennis shoes and athletic clothes to work so this happens to work out for me.  I ride my bike to Target, the post office, almost anywhere.  It adds exercise to my day and obviously saves me $$ on gas so its a win win!  I know it's not practical for everybody but it's worked great for me!

2 months ago I bought a size 8 dress that didn't fit.  I couldn't get it over my head because I thought I'd hulk through it and rip it.  But I bought it because I obviously couldn't live without it and knew someday I'd be able to wear it.  That day was yesterday! I tried it on again just out of curiosity to see if I could fit in it yet and it fit soooo perfectly!!!! I took a picture of the size 8 tag & sent it to a few friends because I was so excited! Buy something a little too small.  Hang it where you can see it.  In a month or 2 try it on and I bet it'll fit if you're working out.  It's a huge uplifting moment when it fits.  You realize what you've been doing is working and you don't want to stop working until you've reached your ultimate goal!

My other tip:  Don't.Stop.  I've lost over 40 pounds so I'm about 170 pounds which compared to 215 pounds, my biggest, is phenomenal.  But it's not the 135 goal weight I have.  Yes, I feel great but I keep in mind I have more to go.  If you have a goal weight of -30 pounds, losing 10, 15, 20 pounds is going to feel so so good but don't stop.  Keep going until you reach that ultimate goal and you will never feel better!! I think it's easy to forget our end goal when we start feeling so good after just a few pounds lost.  Don't stop because you've lost some, keep going!! Hopefully that makes sense!

One more thing I wanted to touch on:
My overall health.  Obviously when you are overweight, weight loss is going to help you feel better but there's really more to it.  Losing weight and being healthy helps your entire health in general.  I go to the dr. once a month just for blood work and to make sure everything is going well.  Well.. I happened to notice my Blood Pressure when I was at my heaviest and my blood pressure now.. yeah there's a difference!
March 1: my blood pressure was 130/80
June 1: my blood pressure was   122/74

According to my Dr. 130 was getting to the 'higher normal' range and the 120s are the optimal range so even in my physical health I've seen how my weight loss has helped.  PS- I'm not a dr, dietician etc.  I'm simply a girl working hard to lose weight and change to eating habits and lifestyle to a healthier way.

Here are a few before/after (during) photos:

I was my heaviest in the summer/fall 2011:  My face was FULL- puffy cheecks & double chin, I looked like I was 6 months pregnant too:
My face, my arms, my stomach, my legs.. everything just ballooned on me which you can see above.  I was wearing a Large shirt and size 14 shorts 
That T shirt I'm wearing is a size Medium and was wayyy too tight.  Now Med are getting to be a little big :) 
These are more recent photos taken on the 4th of July! ::
Everything is smaller about me & I can really tell a difference! my face isn't as puffy, my gut isn't out as much and those are size 8 shorts :) PS that cute puppy is my new English Bulldog, Artie! (my early wedding gift!) 
At my heaviest I never wanted to take photos. I felt disgusting but I already feel so much better about myself.  I've noticed the biggest difference in my face with my cheeks not being so puppy and my double chin basically gone :)  Also- I AM wearing a shirt, just a tube top :) Which I would have never fully exposed my arms before! 

I sincerely hope my tips and story help at least just one person out there either get motivated or stay motivated.  I'm already working on a blog post about how to use your smart phone to aid in weight loss!

I'll keep you updated :)