Thinking Your Way Into Health | Kamilah Stevenson | TEDxWillowCreek

Friday, October 18, 2019


Dr. and Apostle Kamilah Stevenson's motivational take on how healthy living must start within.

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HOW TO MEAL PREP | 8 Steps to Consider When Getting Started

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Meal prepping is an excellent component to successful fitness, wellness, or weight loss journeys. Have you seen those vibrant looking, uniformed containers of delicious meals on social media and wondered - how can I get started? Well, you've come to the right place. As a proud meal prepper, I'm sharing a few steps to keep in mind when starting or continuing your meal prep journey.

Step 1: Create or Find a Meal Plan

There is no 'one size fits all' meal plan. We're unique and have a variety of dietary needs, restrictions, and preferences. Our needs also change over time. Example: for the past few months, I've been consuming a primarily low-carb / high-fat diet. But soon, I may be switching to a more macro-balanced style of eating. No matter what kind of plan you're considering, you don't have to look too far for assistance in getting your meal prep journey off the ground:

  • Always Talk to Your Doctor: Your Doctor is likely to know or have access to your medical history and current state, which can play a crucial role in understanding your specific and long-term nutritional needs. 
  • Speak to a Registered Dietician or Certified Nutritionist/Health Coach: Seeking out the help of a food and nutrition expert is always a great idea. Note: If you have a commercial health insurance plan (many public programs have this option, too), see if they offer free wellness coaching and/or meal plan recommendations. Think about it, if they can get you well by way of your diet and lower your risk of certain preventable diseases - instead of covering much more expensive bills related to your care - it's an ideal investment for them. 
  • Find a Customizable App: Everything we need these days is just a swipe or tap away. That includes food information, recipes, reviews, grocery lists, and, of course, meal plans. Knowing that more people are interested in making their own food at home, food companies are making it easier for consumers to develop personalized meal plans. There are even free and customizable apps that might do the trick: Meal Lime, Yummly, or Pepper Plate

Step 2: Grab Your Meal Prep Tools

Meal prepping has definitely been a learning experience for me. When I began, I often found that I was missing things, and the process started to feel a little overwhelming. Outside of hiring someone to do my meal preps for me, I had to figure it out. One way was doing my own prep, to the prep. I did so by making sure that I had all the tools of the meal prep trade to cook, store, and take my yummy eats on the go.

  • Meal Prep Containers: You'll want to find containers that are durable and keep up with traveling and hot/cold temperatures. I recently logged onto Amazon and re-purchased both the 2 and 1 Compartment Freshware Meal Prep Boxes ($10.99). Rest assured, it was not because they were unreliable, they were great. I'm just that person that loses and leaves everything behind. Sigh.

  • Knife Set: I usually buy fresh ingredients. That means that I have to do my own cutting and general "mise en place." To do that, I needed more authentic knives to accomplish those quality cuts. The Utopia Kitchen Premium Class 6-Piece Stainless Steel Knife Set ($23.51) caught my eye because it was cute! I can be shallow, I'll admit it. But, these knives are legit and take care of my whole range of cutting, slicing, and dicing techniques. 


  •  Lunch Bag or Tote: I don't need a brightly colored monogrammed $50 lunch bag, it's just not my style. And as I mentioned above, I lose things... so it's best to find lunch bags on the lower-cost end. The Vagreez Insulated Lunch Bag ($12.26) was just right for me, large enough to fit my meal prep containers and snacks. And it's insulated, so my food stays cold or hot, for a more extended period. 


  • Food Scale: If you're serious about keeping track of your calories or macronutrients, accurate measuring of ingredients is essential! Times have surely changed, I remember my mom's analog food scale in the kitchen when I was a kid. While those still exist, they've got a digital upgrade. I measure everything! My Etekcity Digital Kitchen Scale Multifunction Food Scale ($18.95 / on sale $8.95) is easy to operate, has a sleek look, tare setting, and auto shut off. I've also had this for about 2 years, and it's still hanging in there.


  • Dip/Sauce Cups: These handy cups came into play when I started adding salads and fresh veggie snacks to my regimen. All they were missing was a great dressing or dip. But, how do I transport these tasty meal accents without ruining my lunch bag, work bag, or car seat? #FirstWorldProblems! 150 ct. Plastic Portion Cups with Lid ($11.95) was my solution. There are about 4 bottles of salad dressing in the shared refrigerator at work that belong to people. Don't tell them, but I lack faith in my coworkers to leave mine alone. I'll use my handy cups instead.


Step 3: Make a List (check it twice)

So, you've got a meal plan and the accessories needed for your meal prep. Now it's time to make that grocery list! Many meal plans are accompanied by the necessary grocery/shopping list. If not, review your planned meals, and build your list based on what's needed for each meal. Budgets are a thing, whether we like to admit it or not. Stay reasonable and consider how much of each item you'll need so that your money is not wasted. Oh, when creating your list, don't forget those seasonings and condiments.

  • Notes / Memo App:  My preference for creating my grocery list is my iPhone's NOTEs App. It makes it easy to jot down and check off my items.
  • Grocery Store App
  • Gold Ol' Pen/Pencil and Paper 

Step 4: Shop (stick to the list)

When you go to the grocery store, remember that you're only shopping for the items that go with your meal plan. Impulse buying frequently happens because stores are designed that way. Keep a laser focus! Cheat code: To avoid last-minute purchases and people (#anxiety #nocharlamange) ... I opt for the $4.95 pick up service provided by my local grocer. I create a digital shopping cart, pay online, then pick up my haul during my designated timeframe. When I do shop for myself, I tend to go during off-peak hours to get in and out!

Pro-Tip: I didn't make this a step, but my grocery store is surrounded by fast-food restaurants galore. Don't take the bait. Get in your car and go home! Laser focus!

10.14.19 Kroger Grocery Haul: Produce
The Extras

Meat and Seafood

Step 5: The Prep

I prep my healthy meals for 3-4 days at a time. Therefore, my prep days usually occur on Sundays and Wednesdays. This is a personal preference to ensure that my cooked food stays fresh, moist, and flavorful. I also prefer to cook most of my dinners in real-time, not ahead of time. What can I say? After a long day in the office, I want a glass of Merlot and a beautiful, sizzling steak. For those evenings, my "prep" is slicing and bagging up my veggies so that they are ready to go when it's time to cook.

Whether you meal prep 3 or 7 days in advance, be prepared to spend some quality time in the kitchen. I usually put on some music or a podcast and get it done! I start with produce, cutting lettuce for salads, chopping veggies for oven roasting. Then I move to my proteins, using baking, stovetop, or slow cooker methods. And last but certainly not least, I make sure I get my sauces/dips/condiments/seeds/cheeses added to my cups and slide them into my meal prep containers. 

Pro-Tip: When meal prepping, I clean up as I go. Trust me, it saves you from the frustration and headache of looking at the piled-up mixing bowls, pots, and pans at the end.

Step 6: Keep it Simple

Prepped Veggies Ready to be Olive Oiled / Seasoned and Placed in the Oven to Roast
My brand of cooking is simple! If a recipe calls for more than 7 ingredients, you've probably lost me. To take the hassle out of complicated meal prep, I have a few tricks:

  • One Pan / Sheet Pan: I love tossing broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers, and marinated chicken cubes on the stove to saute or to simmer in a homemade sauce. Are you looking for a more "set it and forget it" approach? Sheet pan meals are the way to go! Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil and add desired food (veggies and protein), season, pop it in the oven, and voila!
  • Salads: So versatile and can be loaded with so many healthy, clean ingredients. All you need are leafy greens, veggies, a protein (doesn't have to be meat), and you're set! Quick, simple, and chock full of nutrients, you can throw a salad together in minutes.
  • Green Smoothies: Great for breakfast, smoothies are similar in nature to salads. The variations are endless. Key components of a tasty and nutritious green smoothie are leafy greens, veggies, fruits, water, or milk, and you can even throw in seeds or nuts for a protein boost. I love chia seeds!  

Step 7: Prepare for Success and Changes

Life happens. The average person eats out a few times a week, whether it's planned or spur of the moment. That's okay. To think that each meal for the rest of your life is going to be prepped and consumed is kind of unreasonable. We've got happy hours, celebrations and even date nights. Don't stress, try to plan your meals with consideration to your schedule that week. Only prepare meals for the days and times that you are likely to eat them. That way you aren't wasting your effort, food or money. If you happen to have extra food and you don't want it to go bad, seal it up and freeze it to reheat on another day.

Step 8: Have FUN!

Meal prep shouldn't be mundane or uninspiring. We want to stick to it, right? It's on you to be adventurous, try new things, and make sure the healthy meals you prepare are something you will actually eat. Be creative with your meal prep, and best of all, have some fun!


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Brittany Runs a Marathon and Paula Cries in a Movie Theater

Friday, October 11, 2019
I have an unconscious bias against women named Brittany. I'll explain. Picture it, 2001, my sophomore year in HS - I was selected to attend an Accounting Careers Summer Camp at The Ohio State University. Yes, it was a thing. And, yes, I've always been a dork, GANG-GANG! I recall three things from that week-long experience. First, Destiny's Child's Bootylicious being on repeat in the common area of the dorm. Second, I won a scholarship for an essay I'd written about my future in Accounting (Ha!). But most memorable was this annoying girl who insisted that we pronounce her name as "Brit-TUH-ny." Each time someone forgot or said her name incorrectly, she would spazz. I spent that week avoiding her and that unnecessary syllable. But, after all of these years, every time I meet a Brittany, in my head, I pronounce it the way Accounting Camp BritTUHny did. She won.

I have been in my movie-watching "bag" lately. From catching J. Lo's fantastic physique at 50 in Hustlers to reliving my adoration of the PBS hit Downton Abbey on the big screen. I also have a movie date planned this weekend with my #Mawm to see my first boyfriend, Will Smith's, Gemini Man. Oh, hey, Jada!

I started seeing marketing drops about an Amazon-backed indie film hitting select theaters titled, Brittany Runs a Marathon. The plot, as described by Amazon Studios:


Hilarious, outgoing and always up for a good time, New Yorker Brittany Forgler is everybody’s best friend ― except maybe her own. At 27, her hard-partying ways, chronic underemployment and toxic relationships are catching up with her, but when she stops by a new doctor’s office to try to score some Adderall, she gets slapped with a prescription she never wanted: Get healthy. Too broke for a gym and too proud to ask for help, Brit is at a loss, until her seemingly together neighbor Catherine pushes her to lace up her Converse sneakers and run one sweaty block. The next day, she runs two. And soon, after finishing her first mile, she sets an almost unthinkable goal: running in the New York City Marathon. Award-winning playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo makes his directorial debut with Brittany Runs a Marathon, an uproarious, irreverent and surprisingly emotional comedy inspired by real events. The irresistible cast, led by Jillian Bell, lends heart and soul to this inspirational story of a party girl who finally finds real friends — and dignity — by taking control of her future, one city block at a time.

I'll be honest, I wasn't exactly sold on it. I figured if anything, I'd catch it on Prime Video when it was released. The preview had funny moments but also showcased the obligatory actress with a prosthetic fat face and body. Ugh. While slightly annoyed by this, I knew that this story was a transformational one and hiring a real fat actress, then forcing her to lose weight to adapt to the storyline was not the best idea. Outside of a few chuckles, the preview seemed to be another interchangeable depiction of a sad/unattractive/lonely/depressed/fat/shy/ unconventional and so on and so on woman. She'd shame her flaws, be embarrassed on some colossal level, undergo an unrealistic makeover, only then to find purpose and the love of her life. And... scene!

I was wrong.

Well, a lot of that actually did take place, but her victorious moment had nothing to do with her weight loss or physical changes. There was a point in the movie when she even got rid of her scale! How on Earth would she know how well she was doing if not for a scale?! Okay, I'll try not to provide too many spoilers. This movie absolutely deserves more attention. My goal in this post was to share parts that resonated with me. Specifically, the moment that made me cry in a movie theater.

Cast
The role of Brittany was played by Jillian Bell, who boasts a long list of acting and writing credits that include Workaholics and SNL. Accompanied by another comedic influence, her father-like/mentor figure in the movie, Demetrious, was cast by Lil Rel Howery. He debuted on TV One's Who's Got Jokes comedy competition back in the mid-2000s. Most recently, Howery was the witty and heroic TSA agent in the box-office phenom, Get Out. And lest I forget, Brittany's nemesis-turned-lover, Jern, played by Utkarsh Ambudkar. Or, to those of us The Mindy Project fans, "Rishi," the irresponsible DJ brother to Mindy Lahiri. He is pretty much the same hilarious character in this film - he's just in his mid-thirties, now.

The acting in this film was great. The cast was quite diverse, which I appreciated. Representation included various ethnicities (#wearetheworld), the LGBTQIA+ community, wealthy and people 'in-between blessings' and of course, individuals with different levels of physical ability. What I appreciated more was that none of them carried the burden of acting out a stereotype. It was effortless coordination of talent, where each person brilliantly delivered on conveying their role in Brittany's journey, as well as their own.

Will the real Brittany please stand up?
Brittany Runs a Marathon was based on the true story of Brittany O'Neill and created/directed by her friend, Paul Downs Colaizzo. Colaizzo, a playwright, began developing a semi-biographical tale of Brittany when she set out on her first run. He did so without her initial knowledge and continued to document her journey for two whole months before revealing his covert operation. When he announced his activity and intent to turn it into a project, she was game! Throw in a few creative liberties, and lively movie-friendly characters and you have a great story.

Fat girls are funny
Who hasn't heard of the jolly fat girl? That's our thing! We might not always 'wow' with our physical appearance, but we can do better - we can make you laugh. In times of awkwardness, and when she needed to get herself out of trouble, you could rely on Brittany to crack a joke or make a funny gesture to avoid dealing with the tough situation at hand. This is also seen in those of us who feel the need to be the nicest, friendliest, funniest, or most accommodating person around to somehow blind others from noticing what we're most insecure about.

Fat girls are easy
There's another stigma that fat girls are easy. Why? Because we will settle for whom and whatever shows us attention *eye-roll*. And if we're given the privilege of being seen in public with someone, there must be another benefit to the man or woman that "chose" us. Brittany, of all people, calls this out at a full table - after observing a plus-sized woman enjoying the company of her partner. It couldn't possibly be because she's a dope human being! There's also a gross and seedy demo of people who prey on fat women because they know others probably aren't knocking down the door to get to them. Well, Brittany played into that, after rejection and lots of drinks - she decided to hook up with a stranger in the restroom of the club. Full disclosure: I don't judge those who are living their best lives in the sexual liberation lane. Do you, boo! Or, them? It's just, when that behavior is destructive (she made the decision under the influence) or rooted in desperation, it might be a good idea to peel back those layers on the why?

Fat girls hate Dr.'s appointments
A trip to the doctor changed Brittany's life. Unfortunately, many of us in the fat community reluctantly see medical professionals or just outright avoid them. I am the Queen of rescheduling appointments with my primary care physician. I just think about the scale that I have to step on before she even graces me with her presence. All roads to any diagnosis or prognosis tend to lead back to our size. Broke your toe? Lose weight. Wrist hurting? Lose weight! Can't hear out of your right ear? Lo... you get the point. The fear of being told what you already know can be humbling, but a mostly embarrassing experience. Especially if any of your ailments are actually tied to your physical state. I will say, there are plenty of people who range high on the infamous and controversial Body Mass Index chart, that don't have hypertension, diabetes, etc. Umm, not me (lol), but they do exist! Also, from contraception to antidepressants, and in my case - Multiple Sclerosis therapies, fat people do have other medical needs that don't revolve around our weight. Shocker! Brittany's motivation for seeing the Doctor was to get prescription Adderall. A medicine that benefits those who suffer from ADHD, but is often abused for its euphoric and aphrodisiac effects. She sold herself as a busy, wholesome woman who just needed a little help staying alert during the day. After noticing a club stamp on her hand, and listening to her horrible attempt to play on his sympathy, he saw right through her and did not oblige. The writer made it clear that Brittany was not healthy. Tests revealed that her lifestyle had resulted in high cholesterol and blood pressure and that she was on a path to disaster if she didn't start making better decisions.

Gym extortion
One of the funniest parts in the movie was Brittany walking out of a trendy up-scale gym after having a "consultation" with a trainer. She couldn't quite reason with the idea of paying a hefty monthly bill for something she could do outdoors... for free. Gyms are great, and trainers are awesome if you can afford one. But it's not the end all be all. Some of the best and most effective workouts can happen right at home with inexpensive dumbbells, an aerobic step or resistance bands, in a park or down a sidewalk. After coming to the realization that the gym was not the place for her, she set out (with many false starts) to start running outside of her apartment building. She took one free step, then one block, which led to a mile and a marathon.

Family Pathology / Abandonment
Obesity runs in my family! Okay, nothing really runs in my family - or we'd be fit. I am by no means qualified to psychoanalyze anyone, a character, let alone myself. But, the backstory to Brittany's issues seemed to be rooted in her upbringing. Her father, who had passed away by this time, was a heavier man who had health complications, potentially as a result. Her mother, at some point, had left her father and abandoned their family entirely. I'm sure Iyalna Vanzant or Dr. Phil would have a field day articulating the correlation to their family dynamic and Brittany's current state. But, I share to simply say that the relatability from both of these factors was significant. I grew up in a family where health always seemed to be critical, and some of it was driven by abuses to include but certainly not limited to food. I was also abandoned by a parent, my Father. I was blessed to be raised by an amazing, strong single Mom, that did everything to make our lives the best they could be. Still, as a 6-year-old little girl (and sometimes in adulthood), I wondered, why did my father leave? What did I lack?? Was I not good enough to keep him connected to me, or our family? If the man who had helped bring me into this world couldn't bother to love or care for me... who would? Okay, yuck, no more deep dives on this segment, just sharing that this part hit home! And, yes, I'm in therapy.

Opposites Attract / Everyone Struggles
Have you ever created a villain in your mind? Prejudged someone by what they look like, what they have? And do you ever give these people judgey nicknames? C'mon, we all do it. A prime example of this was portrayed by "Money Bag Martha," as Brittany referred to her. Her neighbor's actual name was Catherine, played by actress Michaela Watkins. She was a thin (thigh gap on fleek), fit, wealthy, famous artist that everyone seemed to love, well, besides Brittany. What Brittany didn't realize was that she was dealing with her own obstacles. While she appeared to have it all, no one knew that she was a recovering drug addict, going through an ugly divorce and on the brink of losing custody of her children. Heavy! As her story unfolded, it proved that all that glitters ain't gold, and you never know what someone is going through. A take away from Catherine, aka Money Bag Martha's role, was that amid her struggle, she kept running. Not that running solved any of her most significant problems, it was the one thing that she could control.

(Fake) Friends.. how many of us have them?
The story is simple but is engaging when you watch how all of the figures in Brittany's life evolve. In comes her roommate and best friend Gretchen, played by Alicia Lee. When Brittany is at her worst, Gretchen is there to make it better (or worse?). I call these the "one more shot" friends. When Brittany made the decision to become a healthier version of herself, she had to make some changes. No more hangover-inducing wild nights out on the town. She had to get up early in the morning to run. That's simple enough for anyone to understand. Not Gretchen. The person she knew was not that same. Her crutch, her pet, the "fat friend," was building a life of her own! Instead of supporting her like a good friend should, she chose to humiliate Brittany and question her ability to accomplish her goals. Brittany moved out of the apartment and ended that toxic friendship. Sometimes fat isn't the only thing you lose on journeys. Luckily, throughout the story, Brittany forged new, healthy friendships and relationships.

Scale betrayal and revolt
One of my favorite parts of the movie occurred when Brittany threw her scale away. She was in a groove, running, changing her lifestyle, and the scale seemed to be co-signing her efforts. She'd lost over 30 pounds at one point and was on top of the world. Until.. she wasn't. Over time, no matter what she did, that pesky scale would not budge. Plateaus are INFURIATING! Especially when you're doing everything right. Throughout the story and the more she matured, she realized that she had to stop living for the number on the scale, and place more focus on her real goal - her health and that 26.2 miles.

The reality of failure and balance
Her path to success was NOT a direct flight. There were layovers, delays and lost luggage. It took years before Brittany ultimately reached her goals. I appreciated this realistic take on a journey. The film showed her physical and emotional setbacks in training, her binges to her finding a healthy balance of enjoying a "slice" and still being considered healthy or a runner. Like most quality things, it was a process and it took time.

Mile 22...The moment I cried

While it's considered a comedy, this movie was also a dramatic emotional rollercoaster, or should I say marathon? In one of the final scenes, Brittany finally makes it to the New York City Marathon. The pinnacle! Her dream! The race starts, she's coasting, she's in there! Then pain struck at mile 22. Noooooo!!!

Personally, the last few years have brought a few challenges to my family, personal, and professional life. Simply put, I always feel like I can't catch a break. Like, no matter how much I work, do good and set myself up for the best possible outcome - it seems like something always happens in the 11th hour to throw me off guard and render any chance of success to dust.

Brittany falling to the ground, in excruciating pain at mile 22, invoked a feeling I've felt before. The threat of another "failure." After all that she did to transform her life? And this is how it ends? The tears welled up in my eyes. Or, the air conditioning triggered my sinuses - very possible. Being fully invested in this story at this point and watching her become this better version of Brittany, I wanted to see her succeed!

I tried adjusting my thinking at that moment. I prepared myself for the movie to end without her actually finishing the marathon. The title says 'runs,' it didn't confirm that she finished. Plus, isn't running 22 miles a badass accomplishment?! Why would that be overshadowed by forgoing the 4.2 miles that remained? Success looks different in everyone's eyes. Maybe that was the moral of this story? If not, it's what I gathered from this moment.

But, alas, it's a movie. And the underlying feel good, happy tone of this story resurfaced. Brittany rose up off the concrete with the assistance of a race volunteer and kept going. Along the way, those supportive friends were all she heard in a sea of cheers. She did it. She crossed the finish line.

Needles to say, I absolutely recommend seeing this film in theaters, or when it's released later this year on Amazon. It was funny, genuine, and even had quite a few twists. I know it seems like I told the whole story, but there's so much more - I promise! It was also chock full of some pretty interesting life lessons.

You changing your life was never about your weight. It was about you taking responsibility for yourself. - Lil Rel Howrey's Character, Demetrious

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#FDOE Full Day of Eating on KETO / LOW CARB Diet Day #15

Sunday, October 6, 2019
This week, I'm hunkering down on cooking and meal prepping. I'll be sharing in-depth how I meal prep and what I prep over the next few days - so stay tuned! In the meantime, I wanted to share a few more Low Carb / Keto-friendly meals that I've enjoyed recently, to dole out some inspiration as we start a brand new week!

BREAKFAST

Homemade Scrambled Eggs w/ Spinach, Turkey Bacon Strips, and Fresh Blueberries

DINNER

Homemade Pan-Seared Salmon, Roasted Asparagus and Grape Tomatoes

LUNCH/HAPPY HOUR

Harvest Pizzeria (Bexley, Ohio) Kale Salad with Parmesean and Peanuts (not pictured: Buffalo Cauliflower "Wings")

SNACKS / EXTRAS

Fresh Blackberries
Glass of Reisling 

Make it a great week!
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Review | The STEP and How Adding Throwback Step Aerobics to My Workout Is a Game Changer!

Saturday, October 5, 2019


I'm a weight lifter. 90% of my workouts happen on or near a bench, squat rack, deadlift platform... you get the point. I had all but disowned cardio fitness, outside of 5-7 minute warm-ups, over the past few years. Before I profess my love for metal any further (I'll need more than one post for that), let's chat about how I am changing my tune a bit for home-based step aerobics fitness!

Yes. Aerobics. In 2019. It still exists!
From Martin Season 2: Ep. 10 "Fat Like Dat" (one of my favs!)

When I renewed my wellness journey last month, I vowed to make sure that I kept my activity levels up and that I tried new things. That meant putting the barbells down every now and again and focusing on other cardiovascular activities. My former interpretation of a cardio routine consisted of a lot of steady-state machine workouts; treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike. All effective in their own right, but let's be honest, those activities can often lead to extreme boredom. So it was time to think outside of the cardio box.

In my weight lifting program, there's an exercise called the "Step-Up." It calls for you to step up onto a weight bench, dismount, and repeat. Instead of trying to hike all 2-hunnid plus pounds of me onto an open bench, I always opt to complete this move on an aerobic step - reminiscent of the ones from the '80s and '90s. Why? First, I'm 5' 2", so a standard bench is a tall climb, and I don't want to get kicked out of the gym for ruining the good people at my gym's property. Back to my point, step-ups get my heart pumping every time! No matter how slow I complete outlined reps, my heart rate spikes as I march up and down those little platforms. I started to think, why don't I figure out a step routine for some cardio?

To begin, I wanted to acquire my own step, to add to my home "gym." I needed something sturdy (again, I'm 2-hunnid plus). I also wanted something easy to assemble and didn't cost an arm or leg. So I took my search to my favorite site, Amazon, and found The Step - Adjustable Aerobic Step Platform for Cardio and Strength Training. With great reviews, it met all of my requirements to order and get started on this new fitness venture.

Equipment Details: The Step offers ample workout options – perfect for both cardio and strength training. Adjustable risers bring a challenge to your workout by increasing platform height from 4" to 6". Its shock-absorbing, non-stick, non-slip platform supports over 400 pounds. Platform and risers lock together for a lightweight, easy to carry transportability and are perfect for the gym, home, or office.

My Take and Benefits to Step Aerobics
After just a week of performing various step aerobics workouts using The Step, I've already noticed a few things. First, it's NOT boring! As I shared above, that is key to me! I also see an improvement in my balance. I live with Multiple Sclerosis, and depending on the day, my balance is comprised while doing everyday tasks, like standing and even walking. Note: most step products are best positioned on the carpet, or under a mat if you have hard floors.

Below are a few things that stand out to me as it relates to the benefits of step aerobics fitness:

  • It's Low-Impact: For those of us with joint issues (my ankles and knees have long forsaken me), it is a self-directed move, meaning, no machine is forcing you to move, and you execute at your pace. "Low-Impact," by definition, means that you will always keep one foot on the ground while performing an exercise. Ensuring that you retain foundation and a sense of stability between each point of the activity. The more advanced you become, you can even use step aerobics in a High-Impact / full-out form. I'm not there just yet.  
  • It's a Full Body Workout: Think about it, when walking upstairs, you are engaging your entire body, to propel yourself upward and forward. This boasts a significant impact on the lower body. And I've got some saddlebags that I need to drop off somewhere, and I'm sure this will help.
  • It's Versatile: Depending on the routine you follow (I'm currently following Shaun T's Transform: 20 step program), variations and possibilities of step aerobics are endless. There also are many free video programs on YouTube, where you can identify your personal fitness levels and decide what program might be best to reach your fitness goals. Fun fact, step aerobics is not limited to just stepping. Yup, some routines call for planks, lunges, and even upper body workouts like arm dips. 

Check out a few more surprising benefits to step aerobics fitness via Google.

In the words of Martin, "Now, get to steppin'!" ;) 

*Important: Consult a medical professional before making any changes to your diet or fitness routine. This post is for opinion and informational purposes - ONLY. Review ProjectPaula.com's Liability Disclaimer Here 
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Review | Chipotle's NEW Carne Asada and My #Keto / #LowCarb Take

Tuesday, October 1, 2019
My $14 Chipotle Carne Asada Salad (pico, cheese, veggies, tomato salsa and a side of guac)

Temperatures in my city (Columbus, OH) reached 94 degrees today. Yes, on the first day of October. OCTOBER! Because of this, I had minimal interest in doing much of anything, let alone sweltering over a hot stove. While I pride myself on preparing my own meals at home - it's unreasonable to think that I would never eat out again. Well today, I stepped outside of my kitchen to try a Low Carb/Keto take on Chipotle's new Carne Asada. And I'm better for it.

My skepticism peaked when I saw countless Chipotle ads announcing the 'limited time' roll out of another protein/steak option. My biggest question was, "Why?" Are they simply re-purposing a concept they already have? Oh, hey, Taco Bell! I quickly remembered that Chipotle is a pretty stand up company; touting clean food/ingredients and responsible sourcing, which has always stood out to me. So, why not give it a try?

I can usually bet on pushing a few cubes of the original steak option to the side of my signature bowl, due to them being a bit on the tough or mostly fat side. The fact that it's an affordable and easily accessible moment to enjoy steak usually makes the sacrifice of a few cubes worth the overall indulgence. But, I think that the new Carne Asada is going to give those original steak cubes a run for its moo-ney!

How it's made: Chipotle's Carne Asada is cooked sous-vide (a cooking method that involves vacuum-sealing and submerging a protein in warm water). It is then quickly seared - reaching a pink center or medium cook. It's hand-sliced into strips and paired with a mouth-watering blend of seasonings of chipotle peppers, cinnamon, clove, and Kosher salt. Then sprinkled with the refreshing and on brand juice of a lime. The new offering is described by Chipotle's VP, Neville Panthaky, as:

... very simple, very straightforward. 

I totally agree! It's simple, straightforward, and delicious and how I prefer my own food. I will definitely be trying these again soon before the 'limited time' runs out.

Have you tried Chipotle's Carne Asada?

What is your go-to meal at Chipotle?
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More of My Tasty Low Carb / Keto Friendly Meal Ideas

Monday, September 30, 2019
Contrary to popular belief, eating Keto / Low Carb does NOT have to be boring or flavorless. On this journey, comprised of mostly food that I prepare at home, it's my mission to showcase that you can hit those macros and still enjoy a clean and tasty meal!   Check out a few more of my Keto / Low Carb-friendly dishes that I've prepared this year:


DINNER

Homemade Herb, Butter Basted with Lemon Drizzle Chicken Tenders, Asparagus

BREAKFAST

Uncured Bacon, Spinach Cheddar Eggs and Blackberries

LUNCH

Homemade Chicken Salad with Broccoli, Red Peppers, Mushrooms and Shredded Cheddar

SNACKS / EXTRAS

Plum
Are you a proud home cook or meal-prepper? Tell us about it!

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Sunday.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Unless you're grooving at Kanye's Sunday service somewhere, like me, you may have a few moments today to reflect on the week ahead. From fresh grocery shopping, to meal planning/prep, to packing the gym bag and making sure that I go to sleep at a respectable time... I've got a plan. And it's on me to make this work, to follow through and accomplish what I set out to do. Life happens, stress happens... but it's how you persevere despite. Let's go!

What are you doing to prepare for a SUCCESSFUL new week?
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#FDOE FULL DAY OF EATING ON LOW CARB / KETO DIET | DAY #7

Saturday, September 28, 2019
Cheers to the weekend! I know, before we blink it will be over... but I'm certainly enjoying it while I can. Today, I'm sharing a few more pics of a Full Day of Eating (#FDOE). It was all so delicious, fulfilling and close to my desired macro and micro nutrients on this Low Carb / Keto - inspired way of living. 

BREAKFAST

Homemade Fried Eggs with Pepper, Avocado and Grape Tomatoes

LUNCH

Takeout Garden Salad; Mixed Greens, Red Onions, Shredded Parmesan and Blue Cheese Dressing 

DINNER

Homemade Pan-Seared Sirloin (Medium), Sauteed Asparagus and Mushrooms

 SNACKS/EXTRAS

Strawberries and Whipped Cream

What's on your meal plan this weekend?
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#FDOE Full Day of Eating on Low Carb / Keto Diet | Day #6

Thursday, September 26, 2019

It's DAY 6 of my Low Carb / Keto way of eating and I'm still hanging in there. Full transparency, I almost broke last night. Out of nowhere, I had the strongest urge for - get this - Chic Fil-A fries and a Krispy Kreme donut. Really?! I'm no stranger to patronizing more than one fast food joint to fulfill my cravings, but I just couldn't do it. So, instead of folding to those pesky late night cravings, I drank water and went to bed immediately after a very interesting Big Brother season finale.

Now that I've got nearly a week under my loosened belt of this, and I'm owning cravings like a BOSS... I thought it might be a good idea to share more of the meals I'm preparing or picking up that fall in line with my plan. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I do intermittent fasting (IF), 16 hours fasting /8 hours eating. As I get back into my blogger-groove, I'll definitely elaborate on my decision to join the masses on that as well.

BREAKFAST 

Homemade Spinach, Red Pepper, Feta Frittata and Organic Uncured Pork Bacon

LUNCH

Jimmy John's Bootlegger's Club (Turkey, Roast Beef, Salami) with Avocado Spread and Mustard

DINNER

Homemade Pan-cooked Organic Chicken Breast Strips on a Bed of Spinach with LC Italian Dressing

SNACKS / EXTRAS

Greek Yogurt, Fresh Blueberries and Mixed Nuts
Starbuck's Tall Pike (Plain/Black)



Thanks for stopping by!
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Hi, I'm Keto.

Homemade Spinach Feta Meatballs with Marinara Sauce and Sauteed Asparagus

I began cooking and eating Low Carb / Keto on Saturday, 9/21. As of today, 9/25 - I'm down 6.6lbs, from my starting weight of 250.8lbs.

Like many across this great land and specifically those with barbell club memberships, I'm giving the Low Carb / Keto lifestyle a try. I am addicted to all things processed carbohydrate (with a pre-diabetic diagnosis to show for it). Looking back at my historic MyFitnessPal tracked meals, there's no question that I've enjoyed a very carb and sugar-forward diet. And, I think it's time to switch it up a bit.

As I continue to experiment, learn and grow in my continued quest for better health and wellness, I hope to see and share how I might survive on a primarily high fat, veggie, protein, and moderate healthy carb intake regimen.The picture up top is one of the meals I recently prepared. I'll be sure to share much more on this new journey!

Dinner | Spinach and Feta Meatballs with Asparagus (Yum!)
Meal Macros: Fat: 52% | Protein: 34% | Carbs: 11% | Net Carbs: 11 g
This recipe was easy, quick, economical and had so much flavor! While the recipe called for breadcrumbs, I used minimal. Omitting them all together would have resulted in a hamburger-like texture, which I didn't want. I also subbed Ground Turkey with Ground Beef. 

Are you currently following a Low Carb or Keto lifestyle? If so, what have been your experiences so far? I'd love to know!
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