Cheat Days: Good or Bad?

CHEAT DAYS —  where you eat whatever you  want AND burn more calories!? Well.. sort of, but I bet that got your attention ;)

How do cheat days work?

Many people believe incorporating a “cheat day” or “cheat meal” into their diet is a wise decision. Scientifically, when you are restricting calories your leptin levels will start to lower. Leptin is a hormone that is responsible for maintaining our energy balance. When you have a cheat day/meal you are temporarily raising your leptin levels and increase calorie and fat burn. It’s that quick leptin increase that’s responsible for increasing your metabolism!

Psychological affect:

One major reason I promote a cheat day is because of the psychological benefits. Even if science is wrong (which it is a lot of the time) I think cheat days are good for us mentally. When you are constantly thinking of all the foods you can’t have, that’s when you binge and overdo it. It’s important to develop a healthy relationship with food. Allowing yourself a day to eat the foods you have been craving all week helps build this positive relationship with food, and makes it easier to stick to a restrictive diet. It also is important to know how to control yourself when you are exposed to your guilty pleasures.

How to cheat properly (in my opinion):

The only time I view cheat days as bad is when people take in a ridiculous amount of calories.. like 5 or 6 thousand. You still don’t want to completely blow your diet and erase all that hard work from the week! This is why a cheat meal may be better than a whole day. If you are on a 1,200 calorie diet, aim for a 2,000-2,500 calorie cheat day. It’s important to set somewhat of a limit because those extra calories will still turn into extra pounds if you don’t cheat properly.

 

What’s your favorite “cheat meal” !?

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Medallions

Sweet Potato Medallions

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So I may have an unhealthy obsession with sweet potato fries. I never intend to finish them all when I go out to eat, but its inevitable! Lucky for me, sweet potatoes are extremely healthy. I went from eating sweet potato fries, to making sweet potato wedges in olive oil, to now to these cute medallions using NO fat :)

Sweet potatoes:

Only 114 calories for 1 cup cubed or about a 5 inch potato

Less than 1 gram of fat ( About .1 gram of fat actually! )

TONS of vitamin A, Vitamin B-6,  Vitamin C and other nutrients

a good source of mag­nesium, which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral

And are a good source of fiber

For this recipe go to my recipe page :)

To Nap or to Run?

RUNNING>NAPPING

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    So, this morning I had to wake up at 4:00 am.  Say what!? I am NOT a morning person. The only reason mornings are somewhat acceptable is because that means I get to have coffee.. I’m addicted. Anyways, waking up that early for a seven and a half hour work shift isn’t exactly how I wanted my Thursday to go.

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I had planned on taking a nap after work, but when I stepped outside I couldn’t resist taking advantage of this perfect running weather!  I am also very bad at napping.. it just sounded like something I should do. There is  a beautiful trail right by my apartment so I changed and headed over.

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Today my run was about enjoying being outside, rather than getting a “workout.” It’s important to have days like that. Running outside is therapeutic for me. Especially when it’s this perfect of a day.

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HIIT WORKOUT

High Intensity Interval Training

HIIT Cardio Workout

What is it??

  • HIIT is a form of interval training that involves short intervals of maximum intensity exercise separated by longer intervals of low to moderate intensity exercise.
  • HIIT increases the amount of calories you burn during your exercise session and afterward because it increases the length of time it takes your body to recover from each exercise session.
  • HIIT trains and conditions both your anaerobic and aerobic energy systems.

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I did this workout last night and it was no joke. I was dying once I got to the second running session, and my heart rate got wayy up there. Be sure to stretch for at least five minutes before AND after or you will regret it.

WORKOUT:

 25 Jump Squats

1 Minute High Knees

1 Minute Mountain Climbers

1 Minute Butt Kicks

20 Burpees

1 Minute Jumping Jacks

RUN 10 MINUTES

( REPEAT ALL 3 TIMES)

… and good luck :)

400 Calorie Chicken Burrito Bowl

400 Calorie Chicken Burrito Bowl

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INGREDIENTS:

2 Tyson Chicken Tenderloins (150 Calories)
1/3 Cup Brown Rice (109 Calories)
1/4 Cup Black Beans (55 Calories)
1/4 Cup Corn (41 Calories)
1 Wedge of Laughing Cow Cheese (35 Calories)
1 Cup Lettuce (7 Calories)

= 400 Calories

**Add Salsa to taste**

 INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook Tyson Chicken in a skillet, covered and on low heat. I like to cook mine in pam and salsa to give it some flavor. Sometimes I will also use Siracha. It takes about 10 mins to cook.
  2. Follow cooking instructions on box/bag for brown rice, beans, and corn. Begin cooking these ingredients while chicken is on the stove.
  3. Dice the chicken while rice is still cooking.
  4. Place lettuce in a bowl to use as your base.
  5. Top the lettuce with rice, beans, corn, and chicken.
  6. Add cheese last and blend it with other hot ingredients so it will melt and get a queso consistency.
  7. Add salsa/other sauces as preferred.

Spicy Egg Veggie Scramble

spicy vegetabel egg scramble

During the beginning of the summer I was nannying for a very organic family. One of the major perks of this was that they had a  garden out front I was free to use. I definitely took advantage of the fresh ingredients. One of my favorite creations was a Spicy Egg Veggie Scramble.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 5 Grape Tomatoes
  • 1/3 Cup Yellow Squash
  • 1/3 Cup Zucchini
  • 2 Tbsp Diced Onion
  • 2 Tbsp Salsa

spicy veggie egg scramblespicy vegetable egg scramble

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Chop squash and zucchini, dice onion, and half the tomatoes.
  2. Spray skillet with pam and add salsa.
  3. Sauté vegetables in salsa for about ten minutes. ( Add more salsa as preferred )
  4. Remove vegetable mixture from skillet and scramble egg whites.
  5. Combine all ingredients.

I served my scramble on toast with a wedge of laughing cow cheese.

EGG SCRAMBLE NUTRITION BREAKDOWN:

70 Calories, 8 grams of Protein, and essentially no fat.

**When eaten with toast + cheese:

225 Calories, 14 grams of Protein, and less than 3 grams of Fat.

Monday Motivation

So I know Monday is just about everyones least favorite day of the week, BUT it’s also a fresh start in case you fell off track over the weekend. A nice little trick to a successful [ health ] week is to never miss a Monday. It sets the pace for the rest of your week!

This Monday I started off my day with a  breakfast sandwich, fruit, and a cup of coffee. But the coffee is a given.

                          breakfast sandwich       mixed fruit bowl

The breakfast sandwich had turkey, egg whites, cheese (light laughing cow), salsa and was on a 90 calorie wrap. All of that was only 210 calories, was packed with protein, and was low fat. It definitely kept me full for my work shift. After work I grabbed some lunch and headed to the gym.

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Today was legs day and I already know I’m gonna be sore tomorrow. I also did a good bit of cardio to start my week off strong.

Fajitas, Farmers Market, and Fro-yo

fresh blueberries local

Yesterday my boyfriend and I decided to go to the farmers market here in Birmingham.  I went with a friend last week and could not wait to go back! It’s called Pepper Place Market and has the yummiest food and cutest workers you could imagine. Of course when we first got there I had to get some coffee.. It was from Red Cat Coffee and I definitely wanna try out out the actual cafe soon.


farmers market coffee

After getting some coffee we watched a cooking demonstration by chef Chris Vizzina. He made some dish I had never heard of..  it’s called caponata. It’s a cooked vegetable salad with eggplant and vinegar dressing.

recipe

After watching the demonstration we went to every tent and sampled their food. We also did a bit of filming on his gopro. We love making “video diary” type things when we go out. My favorite sample was by far the white chocolate pineapple pie.  Walking around all morning we worked up an appetite and were feeling some mexican. We went to Tecate. I got the fajita salad with light cheese and shrimp. I like to use salsa and the bean dip for my dressing. It saves on calories (10 calories for 2 TBSP) and it’s also way more flavorful in my opinion.  Michael essentially had the same thing but on rice and with chicken. We finished off our afternoon with some froyo and Netflix. The perfect Saturday :)

       mexican saladfrozen yogurt mountain

I’m Not Running A Marathon

Lately I’ve found myself hating something I genuinely love to do: running. Why? Well, I realized I was pushing myself past the point of it being fun anymore. You know those dads that live vicariously through their sons? They just push, push, push and are never satisfied? Yeah, I don’t wanna do that to myself. I know working out isn’t always “fun” but if it’s something I’m choosing to do, shouldn’t I be able to look forward to it?

I found myself competing with myself, and not listening to my body. Setting goals is awesome, but I had to realize I was running for my own enjoyment, not training for a marathon. I think too many people dislike working out because of this same reason: expecting too much from themselves and getting discouraged. Results take time.

I only recently became a “runner” so of course I wasn’t going to run 5 miles in 30 minutes. Okay, so my goal wasn’t THAT ridiculous, but the point is, working out is supposed to be fun. It’s a stress reliever. You should feel good and reenergized after a workout, not like you’re going to throw up.

Now that I am simply setting a distance to reach, and disregarding the time, my running is back to being fun. It’s an accomplishment no matter how long it takes me to get it done. Sometimes I just have to remind myself of that.

Some Things Aren’t Meant To Be Healthy

I’m typically the queen of finding alternatives to my guilty pleasures.. but there is one I have definitely struggled with: P U P P Y  C H O W. I have tried every Pinterest recipe out there and it just isn’t close to the original. I’ve come to the conclusion that some things just aren’t meant to be healthy.

white chocolate puppy chowpuppy chow recipelow sugar puppy chow

I am a firm believer in not giving up any foods when trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Depriving yourself leads to craving and then binging. Some foods you just can’t match! I will never be able to give up Adam’s Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory, Sweet CeCe’s frozen yogurt, or my momma’s pumpkin cake. And that’s OK :) I know there will always be healthier options, so the “trick” is to not eat cheesecake five times a week. Knowing when to say no is key, but saying yes on occasion is important too.

After trying all the completely unsatisfying “healthy” puppy chow recipes, my craving was at an all time high and I ended up making a white chocolate cake batter puppy chow. I know it’s not healthy.. but it’s not meant to be :)