(Trailer) THE BIGGEST LOSER is coming back in 2020 and why I'm giving it the BIGGEST side-eye

The Biggest Loser 2020 Host Bob Harper, and Trainers Erica Lugo and Steve Cook.


After a 4-year hiatus, the once canceled and controversial series, The Biggest Loser is making a return to TV in 2020. According to the show's long-running trainer-turned-host, Bob Harper (we'll dig into why I'm giving that the BIGGEST side-eye), this time will be different.

Just in time for #ResolutionSeason, the show will reboot for its 18th season on January 28th on the USA network. The focus will not be on “getting skinny,” host Bob Harper told People Magazine. The show will focus on “getting healthy.” Contestants will learn how to make nutritious meals and will participate in group therapy for help shifting their lifestyles."


This all sounds great, but... can we first address the elephant (touché) in the room?

After years of filming, many contestants went to the media to pull the curtain back on the shenanigans happening behind the scenes. Alleging that the story of those dramatic weekly weight losses weren't just deriviative of fitness competitions and healthy, well-porportioned meals, but also diet pills, diuretics, uppers, dehydration, and, yes, even starvation.

The Biggest Loser had a BIG problem! It was claimed by Season 2 contestant, Suzanne Mendonca that, “People would take amphetamines, water pills, diuretics, and throw up in the bathroom. They would take their spin bikes into the steam room to work up a sweat. I vomited every single day. Bob Harper tells people to throw up: ‘Good,’ he says. ‘You’ll lose more calories.’

On principle alone, I'm so perplexed as to why the rebranded show is retaining Bob Harper? Admittedly, over the show's tenure, Harper was considered the friendly trainer. His approach was a bit gentler than his counterpart drill-sergeant-esque trainer, Jillian Michaels. While both had unique training styles on-screen, their off-screen methods (or approval of alleged practices) appeared to be aligned.

The show was just that, a show... entertainment. Another riveting, must-watch production. But this time, the draw was fat voyeurism. In many of the "where are they now?" features, those that were willing to come forward often had regained their weight or donned new health problems as a result of the crash dieting and unhealthy weight loss methods while competing.

Again, why is this coming back?

Granted, when this series debuted in 2004, I was a fan! I was also a young college student. Living away from home for the first time, trying to figure out life, emotionally navigating a recent Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, and struggling with my own weight. I had experienced the Freshman 40, forget a 15! Sidenote: I wish I was that kind of fat NOW! This show seemed to come right on time.

My university had a gym, but I didn't know what I was doing. There was healthy food in the cafe, but it was not appetizing at all. Nothing worked! But, watching Loser gave me a glimmer of hope. Surely, if THEY could lose some weight with hard work and gross healthy food and lose 10-15 pounds a week, so could I!? Those ginormous weight loss numbers on the scale were motivating. And deceptive. I remember feeling emotionally tied to the contestants. Feeling their pain and frustration when they had "only" accomplished a loss of 4-6 pounds in a week. Sigh.


Well, times have changed. What was considered cool in the early-2000s (to include baggy pants, oversized Iverson jerseys, and frosted tips) just doesn't cut it anymore. The show was long-tagged for being a catalyst for fat-shaming. Either way, society has evolved! With more consciousness and conversations on mental health, self-care, self-love, and holistic wellness - the approach to weight management has transformed as well.

While the show on paper is adjusting to this new wave of thinking, some experts feel that while it could be less harmful than seasons past, it still paints a nonsensical picture of weight loss. Bring in the cash prize (people will do something strange for a little change, let alone a quarter of a million big ones), and the fact that winners are still determined by weight loss percentages... a scale.


Sarah Adler, a psychologist at the Stanford Eating Disorder and Weight Control Clinic and author, said she was pleased to see the language used by “The Biggest Loser” catch up with the way experts have talked about weight control for years — by focusing on health, rather than body shape or size. She said the show, however, still aims to make contestants as thin as possible, which impedes them from accepting their bodies and making healthy weight-related decisions. “I think the devil’s in the details,” Adler said. “If they are paying lip service to make these taxonomic changes or these language changes but still promoting idealized weight and shape, then we’re not really getting anywhere.”

Cynthia Thomson, a health promotion sciences professor at the University of Arizona, said that regardless of other adjustments that the show has made for the upcoming season, its unchanged premise of encouraging contestants to lose weight as quickly as possible is still unhealthy. “When you take people who really have quite significant metabolic dysfunction and body size, and you make this rapid weight loss, I don’t care if you help them with sleep, or you give them a class on stress or teach them how to breathe and relax,” Thomson said. “It’s just not going to be enough if you have put them through this 100-pound weight loss in a very short time period.”

To be fair, the last iteration of the show, which aired in 2016, had begun to adjust in a positive way. It had nixed the "mean" trainer Jillian and portrayed a softer tone. The competition aspect was more collaborative and uplifting, no longer highlighting the conniving, yet strategic gameplay amongst the teams. So, maybe there is hope?

If this is genuinely a new leaf being turned over for the series, then good on them. But, if not... we don't want or need it. Long-term health and the delicacy of an individual's well-being will always be more important than soaring network ratings.

Will The Biggest Loser be a winner in 2020? We shall see...

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Ms. G's Kitchen | Light and Sweet Jell-O (and Cool Whip) Pie


Wow, the holiday season is finally here! It's also that challenging time of year when some of us are trying to end the year on (not under) the healthy lifestyle wagon, but we also want to enjoy some of those sweet treats that seem to be everywhere. Well, I've got a light and tasty dessert recipe to accommodate both!

As I've shared before, my #MAWM "Ms. G" has always been one to try new and lighter-versions of foods that we love. In comes one of her most famous desserts; Jell-O (Gelatin) Pie. Growing up, it was always in demand. From her daycare students, our church family, and neighbors, this lighter alternative to key lime or rich cheesecake was a hit. This pie delivers a fluffy, citrus-forward experience with just the right amount of sweetness for you to enjoy without any guilt.

How it's Made

Ingredients:
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 1 Packet (3 Ounces) Sugar-Free Flavored Gelatin (Jell-O)
- Ice cubes
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 Container (8 Ounces) Lite Whipped Cream (Cool Whip)
- Graham Cracker Crumb Pie Crust


Helpful Kitchen Tools:

Instructions: Boil 2/3 cup of water and add a full packet of flavored gelatin mix in a large, heat-safe bowl. Carefully stir the mixture for up 2 minutes or until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, add 1 cup of ice water to cool. Remove any cubes of unmelted ice. Gently and gradually whisk in the whipped topping until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into a pre-made graham cracker pie crust and cover. Refrigerate for approximately 3 hours or until firm.

Recipe Substitutions:
- Low Carb? Go for full-fat whipped cream and swap the graham cracker crust for a nut flour-based crust.
- Not dieting? Go for the original (sugar) gelatin and full-fat whipped cream.

Important: Please review ProjectPaula.com's Disclosures + Disclaimers
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RECIPE | Nailed It! My Pan-Seared Scallops with Chorizo and Corn

Recipe Inspiration: (Video: Molly Makes Scallops with Corn and Chorizo)

I recently swapped my Tuesday Tacos, for a delectable Latin-inspired bowl! This vibrant collective of fresh ingredients hit every note; savory, sweet, sour, and a little spice. This dish was light with moments of decadence at the same time. You could easily serve this dish as a Summer appetizer or make it the main event and enjoy on a snowy Tuesday night, like I did. ;o)

Here's how I made it...
Ingredients:
- Large Sea Scallops
- Canned Sweet Corn
- Chorizo (smoked is preferred)
- Buttermilk
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Chopped Scallions
- Garlic Powder
- Chilies and/or Peppers
- Cilantro
- Salt
- Pepper
- Lime Quarters
- Avocado (optional)


Instructions: Place Corn in a medium bowl. Heat 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Cook Chorizo, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Cautiously pour the oil from the cooked Chorizo into a small bowl (use a slotted spoon to hold back the Chorizo) and set the Chorizo oil aside. Return Chorizo pan to medium heat and add scallions, garlic, chilies/peppers, 1 Tbsp. EVOO, and ¾ tsp. Salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened. Then add Corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until bright yellow and softened, 5–7 minutes (if canned, 1-2 minutes). Remove from heat and let the Corn mixture cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Once cooled, slowly mix in Buttermilk, Cilantro and other spices and aromatics.

Season Scallops generously with salt. Heat reserved Chorizo oil and remaining 1 Tbsp of EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high until just beginning to smoke. Cook scallops on one side, reducing heat if they are taking on too much color and moving around in pan for even browning, until a golden brown crust forms on the bottom, about 3 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and turn scallops over. Add butter to skillet and, using a spoon, baste scallops with butter 30 seconds. Transfer scallops to a plate. Squeeze halved lime over. Divide corn mixture among plates and arrange scallops on top. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.


Recipe Substitutions:
- Don't like Chorizo? Try Andouille sausage.
- Don't feel like shucking Corn? Buy a can of Sweet Corn, drain and rinse.
- Not a fan of Buttermilk? Coconut Milk or Heavy Cream will do the trick.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. I will definitely be trying this again.
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RECIPE | My Chef Ramsay-Inspired Crispy Salmon, Blender Hollandaise and Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes


I am an uncomplicated home cook. I've said it before if it takes more than 7 ingredients... "I'm good, Luv, enjoy." With that, going through this journey of cooking and learning new recipes and techniques has been a very rewarding one. Oh, and a healthy one! I prefer eating real food or food close to its original source. And cooking at home has given me the upper hand in knowing and controlling what actually goes into my meals.

For my next recipe, I solicited the help of a heavyweight in the pop-culture food sphere, Chef Gordon Ramsay. Not personally, of course, but by way of a simple Google query. After searching "Crispy Skin Salmon," his demonstration popped up first, and I didn't have to look any further.

I love salmon. But, what I love most about it is when the skin is crispy! After spending a few minutes watching one of the Masters  prepare salmon, he revealed that the trick to transforming this delicate part of the fish was just a few knife cuts. That's right, creating parallel slits in the skin (aka scoring) of the salmon before dropping it in a hot pan was the trick!

How I made it:

Crispy Salmon - Scoring makes the difference!

Ingredients: 
- Salmon Filet
- Olive Oil
- Salt
- Herbs (optional)

Helpful Cooking Tools:
- AdeptChef Stainless Steel Fish Spatula

Take a salmon filet, turn it skin side up, and roll / pinch it while placing the meaty portion on the cutting board. Now score the skin layer crosswise about halfway deep into the salmon. Keep your cuts close together for extra crispy skin, and score the whole length on the fish. Scoring the filet prevents it from curling up while it is in your pan, and ensures that your fish will be cooked evenly. Open each score and sprinkle salt and herbs into the openings.

Turn your stove to medium heat and add extra virgin olive oil when the pan is hot. Once the oil starts to slightly smoke, add the salmon skin side down. For a few seconds after placing the salmon in the pan, use your fingers or a fish spatula to press down the top of the filet to keep flat. Now season the top of the filet with salt and leave it alone! That's right, let it cook, don't touch or move it again until the fish is cooked about 2/3rds the way up. Then use a fish spatula and carefully flip the salmon over and tilt the pan, allowing all on the remaining EVOO to coat the top of the salmon. After roughly a minute, flip the salmon back over to the skin side and remove the pan from the heat. Let it rest, then plate. 

Roasted Asparagus and Grape Tomatoes

Ingredients: 
- Asparagus Spears
- Grape Tomatoes
- Olive Oil
- Salt
- Pepper
- Garlic Powder (optional)
- Onion Powder (optional)

Helpful Cooking Tools:
- Knife
- Parchment Paper

Cut the grape tomatoes in half and chop off the ends of the asparagus, if needed. Lay out parchment paper or aluminum foil on a flat pan or baking sheet and arrange the asparagus and tomatoes on the sheet. Drizzle EVOO across the vegetables. Sprinkle them with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder and rub them all together, making sure that each piece is coated in oil and seasoning. To make sure everyone cooks evenly, reorganizing the vegetables on the pan, making sure that the asparagus and tomatoes have enough space between them.

Hollandaise - Blender hack
Most and truly authentic Hollandaise sauces call for a lot of patience and wrist whisking skills. Ain't nobody got time for that. So, I used the infamous and much quicker blender method.

Ingredients: 
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 1 Tbsp of Lemon Juice
- 1/4 Cup of Melted Butter
- White Pepper
- 1/4 Tsp of Dijon Mustard (optional)
- Dash Tobasco Sauce (optional)

Helpful Cooking Tools:
- Ninja BL480 Nutri Ninja Personal Blender 24 oz

In the blender container, combine the egg yolks, white pepper, mustard, lemon juice, and hot pepper sauce. Cover and blend for about 5 seconds. Heat butter in the microwave for about 1 minute, or until completely melted and hot. Set the blender on high speed, and pour the butter into the egg yolk mixture in a thin/slow stream. It should thicken almost immediately. Keep the sauce warm until serving by placing the blender container in a pan of hot tap water.


That's it! This healthy and delectable meal was easy and quick to prepare and felt like a restaurant special cooked right at home!
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RECIPE | My Delicious Cast Iron Breakfast Skillet

My Veggie-Packed Breakfast Skillet with Baked Over Medium Egg

Welp, it looks like Fall has finally found us here in Ohio. The temperatures have dropped, and as a result, I want roasts, soups, and all the warming comfort food that the upcoming seasons have to offer. In moderation, of course. This morning I decided to deviate from my usual weekend Breakfast (or Brunch - if I get the privilege of sleeping in) of eggs, bacon, and berries. I was feeling a little adventurous and thought that today would be a good day to expand my home cook repertoire with this sizzling skillet dish. Move over, Bob Evans!


Ingredients:

  • Leftover Beef Roast (Chorizo, Sausage, Bacon, Ham, etc. are great alternatives or go meatless)
  • Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Red Onion
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Chives
  • Seasonings: Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Red Chilli Flakes, Garlic Powder

Instructions:

1. Grab a Cast Iron Skillet: I recently purchased this fantastic 3-piece Cuisinel Cast Iron Skillet Set from Amazon for only $34.99. It came preseasoned and with some Urgent Care visit-saving handle covers. You can make this dish with another type of pan or skillet, just make sure that it is both stovetop and oven-friendly.

My Amazon $34.99 Cuisinel 3-Piece Cast Iron Skillet Set (Click Here for Product Details)
2. Set your stove to medium heat and coat the skillet with Olive Oil

3. Once the Olive Oil gets hot, carefully cover the bottom of your skillet with the Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes and cook for about 2 minutes. Then use a spatula to flip over sections of the potatoes and press down. Repeat this process all around the pan and until you get the desired amount of cook (browning) on the potatoes. Then consolidate the cooked potatoes to one half of the skillet.

4. Add a little more Olive Oil on the now empty side and toss in your vegetables. After a few minutes, stir the potatoes and vegetables together.




5. Let the mixture cook until you get the desired amount of tenderness on the vegetables. Continue to move the ingredients around the skillet periodically. 

6. Add seasonings and spices to taste.

7. (Optional) Top the vegetables with meat. I used leftover beef pot roast.


8. Sprinkle the top of the dish with Shredded Cheddar Cheese

9. Create a dent in the ingredients with a spoon and crack a whole Egg into that spot


10. Place your skillet into the oven at 400 degrees and bake until the whites of the Egg are solid

11. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and let it rest.

12. Plate, add garnish and ENJOY!


What are your favorite Fall recipes?
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Ms. G's Kitchen | My Favorite (Light) Soul Food Dishes Made by My #MAWM

My lovely and gorgeous Mother, Georgeann.
My #Mawm is the best! She's the epitome of grace, strength, and hilariousness! She is my role model and 4'11, animal print-wearing superhero. And while not all superheroes wear capes, she could totally crochet herself one!

In this post, I'm highlighting some of my favorite meals that my mom prepares. Admittedly, we're not always on the same page when it comes to a few of her kitchen concoctions. She can be, let's say, "inventive." Yet remains utterly unphased by any of my (or our loved ones) occasional side-eyes (lol).

The below pictures are from dishes that she recently prepared that get absolutely no side-eyes from me. I appreciate her to no end. Especially when she takes the time and effort to cook and slide one of her brightly-colored plates over to her favorite Daughter.

Crispy Oven "Fried" Chicken

Oven-fried Chicken Leg, Steamed Potatoes and Onions and Salad

This is hands down one of my favorites! My mom often looks for healthier or lighter versions of classic home-style dishes. Prepared with the right amount of seasonings, dipped in flour, and then (plot twist) baked instead of deep-fried - this dish comes through! Oh, and it's surprisingly crunchy!


Collard Greens w/ Smoked Turkey

Stovetop Collard Greens, Onions and Smoked Turkey 

Commonly considered a side dish, I have totally eaten these on their own. And maybe even cold, a time or two. These greens are that good! My mom's slow-cooked, tender, flavorful, and nutritious Collard Greens are paired with smoked turkey, onions and finished with a splash of vinegar to brighten it all up!


Salmon Croquette

Salmon Croquettes with Steamed Potatoes and Onions

Salmon croquettes are a childhood favorite. I may buy fresh, farm-raised salmon from the market now, but before that - canned salmon was the only salmon I knew (lol). The delicate center and crispy cornmeal coating on these handmade patties make for a tasty and nostalgic experience.

Fruit Cup / Dessert


She's always making fruit salads for snacks. So that's usually the "dessert" option available at her house. And that's perfectly fine.

I will bring back all of your containers one day. I love you, "Nessa Girl!" 

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Young Rapper Chika, Calvin Klein and a gentle reminder that Fat people exist

I'm about to disclose something mind-shattering.
Reader discretion is strongly advised!

FAT PEOPLE EXIST
WE ALSO WEAR CLOTHES


In an attempt to reinvent its landmark brand, Calvin Klein added an out of the ordinary element to their new marketing campaign #MYCALVINS. The apparel company historically known for featuring chiseled athletes and thin supermodels ruffled through an underused (if ever used) Rolodex of Plus and Supersized models. Wow, really showing my age with a Rolodex reference. To be fair, my boss has one on the corner of his desk, in 2019. My colleagues will see this as no surprise. I digress.

Situated in the trendy SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan and measuring an overwhelming 4,000 square feet is a billboard installation of a talented 22-year-old rapper named Chika Orianica. Did I forget to mention that she was in her draws? To some, that was a problem. No, not that she was hovering over a city street in her underwear. The problem was that she was fat while doing so.

It should be no surprise, but this billboard advertisement sparked controversy and a lot of attention for the fiscally struggling Calvin Klein brand. And I'm sure that that was the precise intent of the company and its marketers. With a reported 60% of American women falling in the categories of Overweight or Obese, it's seriously a wonder why it would even be a big deal. But it is. Without pause, internet trolls, non-experts, and people looking for the next opportunity to jump in on the obesity epidemic conversation with insults cloaked with concern made center stage.


Let me back up here, I will give the fashion and media industry some credit. Just a decade ago, fat women were reduced to unflattering/matronly pieces and minimal sizing in big box stores. We were often shooed away to order online or through a catalog. I walked into said stores only to leave with accessories, as to not make my trip a total waste. But, my, how times have changed! Companies are singing a different tune and have awakened to the fact that their fluffy consumers' money spends the same exact way. Who would have thunk? Now everyone wants a piece of the pie (no pun), from Target's Ava and Liv line, and even Loft's PLUS.

Like the problematic infrastructure of class in our society, there has to be a lower tier. Well, being fat is the one state of existence where some easily elevate their personal value, simply based on how big someone else appears. As a woman of a certain age, I no longer subscribe to that mindset of feeling less than - just because I may be the biggest in the room. If I never lose another pound, I will still be ENOUGH and more!

Well, amid the series of events and outrage that this billboard provoked, Chika responded to one person in particular, whose negative Tweets went viral. And I'm here for it.

Obesity is the one condition - no - state of existence, that everyone feels the need to present their opinion on, and with little to no compassion. Not alcoholism, drug abuse, or a myriad of other preventable/self-imposed conditions. I do not believe in absolutes, but I can assure you a few things, as a fat woman:

  • No one is asking you to applaud or "celebrate" obese people for doing a darn thing
  • No one is asking you to dole out unsolicited medical advice (especially if you are not a Doctor)

And, yes, I'm on a health journey! I plan to continue transforming my body inside and out. However, until I reach whatever my goals are... I appreciate representation and I still need clothes.

Including underwear. ;)
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Thinking Your Way Into Health | Kamilah Stevenson | TEDxWillowCreek



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


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

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

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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