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Healthy (and Delicious) Meal Plans for Weight Loss

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Healthy & Delicious Meal Plans for Weight Loss

I’m often asked: “What do YOU eat every day? What’s a typical day look like in your life?” I decided to take up the task of taking photos of my typical meals. I hope these visuals help you make better choices with your own meals and snacks. I have many people ask me what they need to do to lose weight and when I tell them they grumble. They hope I mention some quick fix. A pill. A fat melter.

Recently, I spent almost 45 minutes giving a coworker advice and examples of some healthy alternatives, even mentioned specific food items that we have in the cafeteria, and then I see her a week later in the cafeteria eating a bacon cheeseburger, french fries, FOUR David’s Cookies and a 20 oz bottle of Coke. I seriously wanted to sit down in front of her with my salad and say “Are you even trying? Thanks for wasting 45 minutes of my time that day.”

I know it’s hard, but when I spend a great deal of my day helping people that I work with (when I should be seeing patients) I expect some degree if “trying.” At least make an attempt, and if you see me in the cafeteria, ask me what would be a good choice. Not say “Screw this, It’s too hard.”

Yes, I’m a tad angry today. Anyway, I am here to show you a few visuals of what I eat and if you have any questions, or suggestions please let me know! 🙂

Breakfast

My standard breakfast when I’m at work is one egg over well, with turkey, tomato, and onions, 8 oz skim milk.

eggs

If I’m off from work, I make a variety of Protein Shakes (Click to see recipes)

final protein shakes

Mid Morning Snack

I’m a creature of habit, and if something works for me, I use it. I’ve tried to just eat a piece or two of fruit, but recently while writing a lecture for COPD patients, I learned certain fruits like apples produce gas, which it turn bloats my stomach and makes it feel like it’s empty and then I just want to eat more! So I stick with my Kashi Go Lean (NOT Crunch) cereal, with 4 oz Skim milk, and some kind of berries: A high-protein, high-fiber snack.

cereal

Lunch

When I’m at work, I usually choose whatever the protein is of the day, with a side salad. If there’s no good protein, I just grab some cold grilled chicken from the salad bar or a hard boiled egg. I drink a large glass of water with it, too. I used to eat that David’s double chocolate cookie every day, but have since given them up. After the holidays, the remodeling of my bathroom, a trip to Disney (with too many desserts) and we just rescued a puppy from a shelter, I am actually sickened by desserts. Yes, me.  I’m not saying I’ll never have them again, but enough was enough. My husband and I came home from Florida and removed the desserts from the house. He’s been eating cereal for breakfast and salads for lunch. Dinner is protein and veggies. He even gave up his rice!

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Dinner

I’m fortunate to have my hubby cook dinner every night and I usually have whatever the meat is, and then add raw fruits or veggies. I don’t eat potatoes, rice, etc, so veggies it usually is.

Salmon and cherry tomatoes:

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Grilled chicken with fresh pears (I split this piece of chicken with my daughter)

pears

Black Bean Edamame Burger

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Desserts

I havent eaten any desserts since Disney, but before the trip, I tried not to eat anything after dinner, but would occasionally have a small dessert before dinner like a chocolate chip cookie, or something healthier like these desserts (Click link for recipes). Since Disney, I don’t eat desserts at all, and instead I decided to immediately run downstairs to my basement and work out. (Distraction is awesome)! Then I play with the puppy. I take her for a walk around the block when it’s not pouring rain (or a Nor’easter hits us)! When it gets warmer, I plan to go for longer walks and jog with her. I’ve also noticed that since we adopted the puppy, she’s kept us SO busy (just like a toddler) I haven’t had time to even think of eating. Sometimes I just eat a bowl of cereal for dinner!

blueberries

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That’s usually my day. My breakfast and mid morning snack is point on, my lunch varies since I’m never really sure what they’ll have in the cafeteria, and my dinner is usually healthy and small. In the past, when I went off during lunch because something tempted me, I just had a very small dinner to try to counterbalance it. Since Disney though, I’m sticking to the salads with a protein and I’ve been bringing fruit in for my lunch dessert. (Today I had a clementine and yesterday I had a few mango pieces). If I have tea after lunch I’ve been bringing in a Stevia packet to put in, to save calories (and 1 carb) from the 3 packets of sugar I was using. Like I’ve always said: There comes a point in your life when something just “clicks”, and you get sick of the way you feel, the way you’re eating, the lack of exercise. Luckily that happens often for me. Don’t let the setbacks go on for too long, though.

My gym membership ended on November 30th, and I did not renew since I knew it was going to be a stressful month. I have a full gym in the basement though and have been back to my summer routine down there. My husband even started working out, too! Since I NEEDED to put our puppy on a strict time schedule, I decided to do the same for myself.

Meet Princess Leia!

What new techniques have you been trying since the New Year? Remember, it’s always a work in progress. There will always be ups & downs. Theres will always be obstacles.

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Results of the Fed Up to Fabulous Challenge!

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First of all, thank you to all of you that followed my daily rant and supported me, as well as each other, through this journey. For those of you that are just tuning in, back on Memorial Day weekend I started a Fed-Up to Fabulous Daily Rant on my Facebook page. Here is my very first post on this: Click Here The challenge started on Memorial Day weekend and ended on Labor day weekend. 3 months to make significant changes in our health.

I was sick and tired of feeling like a big lump. I had published my 3rd book and the stress of it put me over the edge. I gained weight, lost muscle, stopped working out, lost a ton of hair and started feeling depressed. I clearly remember going to the Outlets with my family a little before Christmas and there was a giant Christmas tree set up in the center of the shopping area. What a great place to take a family picture! But, as had become my norm, I was dressed frumpy. I didn’t feel comfortable in my clothes anymore and reverted to wearing big, baggy clothes. I was wearing a big, old sweater that day and my daughter was so fashionable. She convinced me to buy new clothes so that we could take a picture before the movie, and just the task of trying on clothes made me feel worse. I looked at myself in the mirror, unsure why I let myself go.

aaaa

I did nothing though. Nothing for the next 6 months. When Memorial day weekend came, and I had to put on a bathing suit, I had had enough. I tried jogging around the block and felt even more disgusted. I knew the time had come. I had reached rock bottom. I started this challenge hoping to inspire others as I kept myself accountable by posting on my Facebook page.

Posting to the public all the time kept me focused, excited, and pushed me. I’m here today to post my results and hope that all of you that went on this journey with me, will post your results as well. Here we go.

  • I feel better. I know that sounds lame, but I truly feel that is the basis of everything. If you feel good, you want to do more to keep that feeling going and make yourself the best person you can be. Improve yourself even more. We are not here to just go through the motions. We were given the gift of life and we are here to do something wonderful. For ourselves – for others. No more hiding under baggy clothes for me!
  • I feel stronger. Again, you might be saying “who cares”.  I was leaving the gym the other day, and I could feel my whole body moving in perfect alignment. I felt tough. Strong. Powerful. My posture was better. I stood up tall, straight, and felt like a warrior. I definitely didn’t feel that way 3 months ago.
  • I can fit into my old clothes again. I had 2 skirts that were too tight around the waist and I couldn’t zip them up all the way. I had a shirt that had buttons from my neck to the waist and the one by my belly button was always too tight and I had to undo it half-way through the day and close my lab coat to hide it. I had this gorgeous new, black dress that I wore for a party 2 years ago and when I later saw the pictures, I was blown away at how flabby my arms got. Gone was the muscle definition and toned arms. I hadn’t bought new clothes in so long because I didn’t care anymore. I finally went last year with my daughter and the normal size I usually wore was too tight. I should have bought my normal size and lost the weight but, like others, I said “I won’t lose the weight, ever, so I might as well buy a bigger size.” Well, that shirt can now be buttoned, the new clothes I wasted money on are too big, and I look good again in that black dress! I was so excited, I went out and bought all new clothes Friday night. I got rid of a ton of really old clothes!

111111 8yrs ago

  • I can fit into my running shorts again. When I used to be in my top shape, I wore barely anything to the gym. To be able to wear those clothes out in public was inspiring in itself. When you see how you alone transformed your body, you want to stare at it, show it off. Plus, I know it sounds dumb, but when you work out in clothes like that, you work out harder. The past 2 years I wore baggy T-shirts and leggings to work out. The first month I worked out in my basement over the summer, I went downstairs in my pajamas with no shoes and socks. I was half asleep and couldn’t care less. One day, I put on one of my old gym outfits: shorts & a tank top, and my workout soared. I pushed myself like you wouldn’t believe. No more baggy PJ’s for me. It sounds superficial, but wearing flattering workout clothes really does something to your mind. You WANT to work out harder and push yourself farther. The ultimate test: Labor day weekend I set up a date to work out with my buddy Joe, and I wore my workout shorts and a tank top. I was nervous at first, but after 2 solid hours of lifting weights with him, I felt empowered!
  • I am eating healthier. Despite being a Registered Dietitian, I stopped eating clean. From lack of workouts, my metabolism slowing down, and feeling miserable, I was always cold and wanted comfort food. That all changed. The most important element was planning my meals ahead of time and distracting myself when I wanted to munch on something bad. I still like my sweets, but the amount of bad foods I ate has plummeted and good foods have replaced them. I enjoy food shopping now and love planning out meals. My hair started growing back, too!
  • I lost 7lbs. I had weighed the most I have ever weighed in my life. I know that’s not a lot, but I am only 5’1″. So many people told me that weight gain is normal at my age and to just deal with it. I refused to listen to them after a while. There are so many fit women in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and beyond. Maybe others gained all the weight because they too gave up and assumed this was the normal part of aging. Sure our metabolism slows down. Sure many of us become less active. But, what if I became more active and built my muscle back up, thereby speeding up my metabolism? I tried and I did!
  • I lost 4% body fat. This is key. When you diet and do not exercise, you WILL lose muscle, and you can never get that lost muscle back without lifting weights or doing some type of resistance exercise. If I lost weight but my body fat stayed the same, that wouldn’t be good. I knew weightlifting was important. Cardio alone will not build the muscle you need. I hear so many people tell me that they will work out ONCE they lose the weight. They end up dieting, lose a few pounds, lose precious muscle, go off the diet, and gain fat back. I have people tell me they will do cardio now, and once they lose weight, then they will lift weights. Again, you are wasting time, losing muscle, and setting yourself up for slowing down your metabolic rate, making it so much easier for you to gain the weight back. Lift weights. LIFT WEIGHTS. I can’t stress it enough.
  • I joined a gym again. The changes from my short term goals (above) have pushed me to make new goals, and motivated me enough to know that “I can do this. That I can go even farther.” Just as the 3 month challenge ended, I received a postcard in the mail from my old gym asking me to come back for 3 months for $30. I can spend that much in Target in less than 3 minutes! So I went down the next day and signed up. In the next 3 months I plan to take cardio classes on the weekends, (since it is starting to get colder here again in New York), lift heavier weights than I have at home, and push myself to the next level. 3 month stages of goals is perfect for all of us, with a longer goal at the end of 1 year. Small steps leading to big steps.

20160919_071455 The Black dress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve accomplished a lot in 3 months and I am so glad I pushed myself through it. Yes, it was hard in the beginning, but that’s because I was out of shape and miserable. I feel inspired now to do even more. One last thing that I feel is truly important. Some might find it superficial, but it’s so important to feel good about yourself. For such a long time I hated pictures of myself. I half-heartedly got ready for work every morning, not caring what I looked like. Buying new clothes on Friday has me excited to dress for work tomorrow. I even went out last month and got a real haircut with layers and angles. My Brady Bunch hair had to go. I’m even putting highlights back in my hair next weekend. I started wearing jewelry and mascara again, too.

I think it’s all part of the package. A catch 22. If you feel good, you take better care of yourself. If you don’t feel good, you don’t care how you look anymore. But, it shows on the inside and outside. I was miserable last year. I’m sure I was a big Debbie Downer for sure. No amount of primping was going to make me look or feel good because I was faking it. You can’t really fake a smile in a picture. It shows. I can look back at old photographs and can clearly see when I was on top of the world, and when I was completely stressed out.

How about you? How did you do over the past 3 months? Make any changes? See any results. I’d love to know.

I love hearing from you!

Christine Ardigo, author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it.

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Black Bean Edamame Burgers

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Black Bean Edamame Burgers

Tired of hamburgers by now? Can’t bare to eat another one? Looking for something healthier? Something with more fiber? Are you vegetarian and can’t eat the piles of burgers, dogs, and sausages everyone serves? Well then, I have the perfect dish you can make for yourself, or your guests. You can even make extra and store in your freezer.

RECIPE:

Ingredients:
Two 15oz cans of Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp each of Cumin and Garlic powder
1/4 tsp each of Black Pepper and Chili Powder
1/8 tsp Sea Salt
1 cup Frozen Edamame, thawed and drained
2 cups Roma Tomatoes, chopped, drained, divided in half
4 TBSP Chopped Cilantro, divided in half
4 Green Onions, trimmed and chopped fine, divided in half
1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Oat Bran
1/2 TBSP Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup, finely ground Triscuit Crackers
Juice of 1 Lemon
Pinch of Sea Salt & Black Pepper (salsa)
1 Firm Avocado, peeled and coarsely chopped

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Place back beans in a large bowl and mash well
  3. Place all seasonings and salt in a small bowl and grind until fragrant
  4. Add Seasonings, Edamame, 1 cup Tomatoes, 2 TBSP Cilantro, 2 Chopped Green Onions, Olive Oil, Oat Bran, and Soy Sauce to black bean bowl. Mix well. Mixture should be fairly stiff.
  5. Using half cup measuring cup, scoop up bean mixture and shape into patties. Roll each patty into Triscuit crumbs. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve with salsa:
  6. Salsa: In a small bowl, combine remaining 1 cup Tomatoes, 2 TBSP Cilantro, 2 Green Onions, Juice of 1 Lemon, the pinch of Sea Salt & Black Pepper, and Avocado. Mix well. Serve with Black Bean Patties.

Okay, so let’s run through what you have to do. First thing first, I took 2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained them and then mashed them in a bowl.

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Then I ground up the seasonings in a small bowl, put that aside for a second, and then added the tomatoes, edamame, cilantro, green onions, oat bran, soy sauce, and olive oil, along with the ground seasonings to the black bean mixture.

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*I recruited my younger daughter to help me with the Edamame. You can definitely buy it already out of the shells, but everytime I do that, my daughter gets mad and says “I wanted to do that part.” So, this time I bought the frozen Edamame in a bag, cooked it, and then when it cooled, she popped all the soybeans out of their shells.

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After smooshing everything together into normal sized patties (they will NOT shrink like regular burgers – keep that in mind) you cover them in whole wheat crackers. I used Triscuit since they only have 2 ingredients, and I love their taste!

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Then place them on a baking sheet. You should cover the baking sheet with parchment paper, which I could not find at first, so I cooked them without it, and just sprayed the baking sheet with olive oil spray. (Of course I found the parchment paper later on).

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While that cooks for 15-20 minutes I make the salsa to put on top. That’s the best part to me. I love avocado.

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Yum! Do you have any healthier versions of your favorite BBQ foods? Any great vegetarian suggestions?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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