Category Archives: Weight Loss

Healthier Fettuccine Alfredo with Spinach & Tomato

Hello strangers!

So, last week was probably the first full week that I did not post on this little corner of the internet of mine since I started this blog. Trust me, it wasn’t by choice!

I was pretty much in technology hell all week. My beloved computer had been running really slow, and I was troubleshooting and running back and forth to the Apple Store like my life depended on it – because well, it kind of does. I work on my computer every single day and depend on it as a publicist, blogger, freelance writer and health coach. So, you can imagine that I have a lot of stuff on this computer of mine!

To make a long story short, the good news is that my computer was salvaged and is now working fast. But what’s the bad news? Apple restored my computer without consulting me first, and wiped out many of my photos that I saved only on my computer + an external hard drive that randomly stopped working last week. And since my computer was running so poorly, I wasn’t able to successfully back up my photos. Believe me, I tried.

So yea, I’m majorly bummed about the photos being lost. I keep thinking of my travel photos, wedding shots, and captured family memories that I’ll probably never get to see again.

(Yes, my photos are now set up to automatically go to “the cloud” every day so that this never happens again.)

But on the bright side, I can recover some of them by looking at my past posts and social media, and saving them back one by one. Luckily I’ve posted a ton of photos on this blog of mine! And, I can resume working on my computer and it not take me 4x as long to do things. I know this sounds like such a first world problem, but with how much I rely on my Mac, the whole situation was very stressful. I’m thankful for yoga, baking and my bike trainer for keeping me sane when I wanted to rip my hair out!

So that’s that, but let’s get to the good stuff today… aka pasta.

Today’s recipe is one that I’ve been making for years. I first started making this dish after I had a craving for fettuccine alfredo, but when I ordered it out at a restaurant and ate half of the dish, I left feeling too full and kind of sick. That’s the thing about consistently eating healthy & light: When you eat heavier food once in awhile, your body does not like it! So, I did what any good food blogger would do: I came up with a lightened up recipe that leaves me feeling satisfied but not stuffed.

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5 Health-Conscious (& Inexpensive) Meet-Up Ideas

Hi there!

How was your weekend? Mine was one of those weekends when everything seems to just align so nicely. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so I spent a lot of time outdoors. There was a nice balance of relaxing – including taking my pup to the dog beach, a leisurely Sunday brunch at home, and sunbathing for a bit by my pool – and being productive – including repainting my bedroom + trimming rose bushes & tidying up the backyard.

Chocolate PB pancakes

Sunday brunch: (vegan + gluten free) chocolate PB pancakes with green tea… my favorite lately!

My hubby and I even fit in a date night: a dinner picnic at the beach, followed by what was supposed to be a night at the movies. The movie wound up being sold out (minor hiccup in the night), so instead we rented The Intern via Redbox. It was a cute comedy with Anne Hathaway & Robert De Niro. Anyone else ever watch it?

Our healthy picnic eats

Our healthy picnic eats

And speaking of healthy date nights… let’s move onto today’s topic! A lot of the time when people want to lose weight or just develop healthier habits, they think that they have to become anti-social to resist food and alcohol temptations. I get it, but the truth is: when there’s a will there’s a way, and there’s no need to stay home just because you’re watching your calorie intake or trying to stay away from excess sugar.

I love spending time with my girlfriends, and I think it’s really important as a woman to have friends to laugh with and be able to count on. Here are 5 health-conscious date ideas that I often do with my friends:

A vegan PB&J smoothie bowl with blueberries from Choice Juicery in Carlsbad

A vegan PB&J smoothie bowl with blueberries from Choice Juicery in Carlsbad

1.) Grab smoothies or green juice. This is one of my go-to meet-ups, and I think that I go on a girlfriend smoothie date at least once a month. It’s a healthy, cheap, and fun way to catch up with a friend! Just last Friday I met up with a new friend for smoothie bowls at a cute outdoor spot. This is an especially good idea if you have kiddos, or in my case, if a lot of your friends are moms – since usually smoothie places are super casual and a good atmosphere for little ones. I have a few places nearby that I love to frequent, and it’s also fun to switch it up and try new places out.

Harley beach walk-May 16

2.) Go for a long walk. Lacing up your sneakers and meeting up for a walk is a healthy and free way to be social while also getting your steps in – not to mention that it’s an especially great option throughout the warmer months. It definitely beats just walking on the treadmill to get to 10,000 steps daily!

Trilogy Sanctuary loaded acai bowl

The most delicious chocolate acai bowl from Trilogy Sanctuary

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The 80/20 Diet Rule + Spring into Shape with My New Health Coaching Program

“Nicole! You’re eating French fries?!”

“Ice cream?? Wow, there’s ice cream in your freezer!!”

These are the kind of things I hear from people who are aware of my passion for healthy living and see me eating ______ (insert anything sugary, fried, fattening, etc.).

People seem to find it surprising, but yes, I’ll eat fries once in awhile. I indulge in dessert sometimes. I drink one too many glasses of wine here and there… and not because I’m diving off the deep end from my healthy diet, but because I embrace balanced eating and the 80/20 principle.

80:20 diet principle

{source}

What is the 80/20 approach to diet?  It’s a pretty simple idea: 80% of the time, you fuel your body with healthy, nutrient-dense foods, and then the remaining 20% of the time, you can indulge in treats and less nutritious foods. A lot of the time, that 20% for me includes things that aren’t junk food. For instance, I’d consider some dark chocolate or a glass of red wine as part of that 20%. Both are heart-healthy, but I look at them as extras that I don’t really need, but that I just enjoy and feel like having.

The percentages aren’t an exact science. Some days and weeks I’m more like 90/10, and then other days and weeks I might splurge more and eat more of a 75/25 ratio, but the idea is to achieve a healthy eating balance where treats are part of your diet guilt and stress free.

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Reflecting on Our Complex Relationships with Food & My 600 lb Life

Hello, and Happy Friday!

I didn’t have a chance to publish my normal Friday morning post and I’m feeling analytical, so we’re switching gears a bit this afternoon to dive into a discussion about using food as a coping mechanism…

I’ve always been really interested in psychology and the way that people think, behave and interact. I’ve also always been passionate about food and healthy living, which is why getting my degree is communication studies and later on earning my health coaching certification both just made sense (Perhaps a Masters in psych is in my future as well, ya never know!).

Nicole Crane Health Collage

This is why I’ve always loved watching documentaries – particularly ones that relate to health (and also ones that relate to crime, but that’s a topic for another day…). My less interested husband must undoubtably feel that he’s spent far too much time watching documentaries of this nature, but I torture him with them because they intrigue me every time. One show that I find myself watching is TLC’s My 600 Lb Life.

The basic premise of the show is that each episode follows the life of a morbidly obese American as they attempt to lose weight through gastric bypass surgery and major lifestyle changes. It’s heartbreaking to see the stories of people who have ruined their lives and independence through their food addictions, and as a health coach, there’s one thing that really bothers me about their road to recovery: the lack of counseling to understand why these people got to where they are.

TLC My 600 Lb Life

(Image via POPDUST’s YouTube page)

I know that there’s a lot we don’t see in a documentary, but from what I’ve not only watched in My 600 Lb Life, but what I’ve also personally heard from people who have undergone bariatric surgeries, there’s such a detrimental lack of therapy in understanding the reasoning behind it all.

People don’t eat 10,000 calories a day because they’re hungry, and the human relationship with food is complicated. The obesity epidemic is a result of a combination of things, including addiction to chemicals/additives put in the “food” that people eat, poor habits learned, a society with an increasingly sedentary/fast food lifestyle and emotional eating.

the food you eat

That last reason is highly underrated. Food is a coping mechanism, and has been referred to as the most widely abused drug in America for good reason. So many people deal with the trauma they’ve experienced in their lives by turning to food, and until those issues are recognized and dealt with, the underlying problems are still there. It’s difficult enough to lose weight, let alone lose weight and keep it off with the emotional baggage that’s shaped your food relationship still weighing you down.

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My HIIT Studio 6-Week Challenge Health & Fitness Results

Hello, hello!

Last weekend marked the end of a 6-week challenge that I participated in with my favorite HIIT studio, The Fit Mill. I collaborated with the studio as the health coach for the challenge, and was a participant as well. We’re all a work in progress, and I had goals that I was striving to reach at the same time that I was supporting the participants in reaching their own.

Fit Mill Tranformation Challenge

The premise? A 6-week “Transformation” challenge to kick off 2016 in high gear. The rules were that participants had to workout at The Fit Mill 4 days each week, and then the studio and I provided goals, recommendations, tips, recipes, and support throughout the challenge. Pre-challenge and post-challenge evaluations were held to take measurements and gage fitness levels on a variety of exercises. The goals were totally up to the participant, and mine were to reduce my body fat, increase my strength, and shed a couple of pounds.

Photo via The Fit Mill // taken during an event last month at the gym

Photo via The Fit Mill // taken during an event last month at the gym

My Strategy 

Since I already usually workout 6 days a week and eat a healthy plant-based diet full of whole foods, the only way for me to change my body is kick up my workouts into high gear and tighten up my diet. I was pretty strict in making sure that my macros and calories were consistently right where I wanted them to be – particularly with balancing out carbs and fat and making sure I ate enough protein.

One of my go-to post-workout small meals

One of my go-to post-workout small meals

I also reduced the amount of treats I had, so there was less wine and dessert in my life. I definitely still had them (no way I would totally give up either!), but they were more calculated and planned into my diet.

A go-to treat of mine: Halo Top protein ice cream. Tastes awesome & has 240 calories + 24 grams of protein in a whole pint!

A go-to treat of mine: Halo Top protein ice cream. Tastes awesome & has 240 calories + 24 grams of protein in a whole pint!

Besides doing 4 HIIT workouts a week, I also did some kickboxing, hiking, yoga, and cycling with my new bike trainer. I was a workout maniac – even more than usual! – and I did a lot of 2-a-days. I usually do short yoga sessions most mornings, so I kicked my morning movement up a notch. I added in high-intensity moves, lengthened my AM sessions a bit, and made sure to get a good burn in first thing in my day, along with my nighttime sweat sessions.

Fit Mill workout collage

I’ll further elaborate on this in another post soon, but last year I decided to drop some weight. At the time, I was within a healthy weight range and lead a very active life, but I decided that aesthetically, I didn’t like where I was at. So, I worked to get to the lower end of my healthy weight range. Over a substantial period of time, maybe 6 months, I dropped about 8 pounds. Going into the challenge, I wanted to shed another 3-5 pounds, build muscle mass and reduce body fat. Having a Beets BLU Smart Scale helped me gage where I was at throughout the challenge and served as a great tool.

Beets BLU Smart Scale-2

The Results

First, I got all of my measurements taken. I knew that I felt leaner and had worked hard, but I was a bit surprised at how much my measurements reflected that.

Measurements. The biggest changes were both my body fat, which I reduced 4%, and my hips, where I lost 4 inches. The body fat analyzer at the gym measures me a bit higher than my Smart Scale. My body fat is currently in the high 19% range on my at-home scale, and at the gym, my body fat measurements went from 25% to 21%, which is a huge change!

I also lost a bit everywhere else, including 2 inches in my thigh, 1 1/2 inches in my waist, 3/4 inch in my chest, and 1/2 inch in my arm. I measured my muscle mass at home with my scale throughout the challenge, and increased it from 35.7% to 36.1%. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but increasing muscle mass takes time and I was satisfied with any increase. I mentioned in my recent Smart Scale review that I had a goal to push into the 36% range, so I’ll take that progress!

handstand practice-Jan 16

I’ve never done a fitness challenge where every area gets measured, and it was pretty awesome to see my hard work pay off with the results of lost inches all around.

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Weight Is Only Part of the Equation {Beets BLU Smart Scale Review}

When it comes to shaping your body through diet and exercise, sometimes people put too much emphasis on their weight alone (I’ve been guilty of doing this in the past too!). Of course weight tells you part of the story, but it’s not the whole picture.

Women's Health-Food for Thought

(Source: Yahoo Health! via Shutterstock)

Case in point: There’s a woman whose 5’6″ and weighs 140 pounds. She sporadically eats healthy but mostly eats a diet high in simple carbs, saturated fat, and sugar, and doesn’t get consistent exercise. Perhaps she’s lucky in that she has good genes allowing her to easily maintain a healthy weight, but she might also be “skinny fat” and have some internal things going on with her body that she’s not yet aware of (like high cholesterol or being at risk for Type 2 diabetes).

On the other hand, there’s another 5’6″ woman that weighs 140 pounds, but she eats a diet plentiful in whole foods and healthy fat & carbs. She also maintains an exercise schedule, and has an athletic build.

Woman 1 may look completely different than the second woman even though they share the same height and weight. The second woman is probably much healthier than the first with better health biometrics, including a higher percentage of muscle mass.

Eat Well Move Daily-quote

So you see, weight isn’t everything – and thanks to new technology available to us health conscious consumers, we can get on a scale and see not only weight, but other data like fat percentage, muscle mass and body water.

Enter the Beets BLU Smart Scale. A couple of months ago, the company sent me the scale to try. If I had to share my thoughts on it in one short sentence, I’d say: It’s kind of awesome.

Beets BLU Smart Scale Review

One thing I absolutely love about the scale is its ease of use. I had previously owned another scale that monitored similar data, but it was much harder to use. I had to push buttons to switch users from my husband to me, which sometimes wasn’t all that easy. Although this other scale kept track of past weigh-ins, it wasn’t simple to access that history, so instead I would take pictures on my iPhone of my weigh-ins for future reference (annoying).

With Beets BLU Smart Scale, the data from my weigh-ins automatically sync to my iPhone as soon as the scale gathers the info. It keeps tracks of all previous weigh-ins so that I can easily access them to do things like compare where I was 3 weeks ago from today. The app shows me my weight, fat percentage, muscle mass, BMI and water weight.

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Mediterranean Feta & Lemon Hummus Dip

Hi friends! So, this weekend’s the big game in California… and while I have no strong feelings towards one team or the other, I always love a good Super Bowl!

The actual game, the half-time show, the obscenely expensive commercial spots… I love it all. And we obviously can’t forget about football food! I’ve been drooling at my computer screen all week checking out my fellow blogger friends’ recipes for game day, and today I’m sharing a new yummy one of my own.
Mediterranean Feta Dip

While I’m a sports fan in general, football is definitely my favorite sport. I grew up with my dad coaching football (still does!), so I think I was kind of bred into loving the sport. I was a competitive cheerleader from ages 7-17 who cheered at many football games, both of my brothers played football growing up (one of which coaches football now), and these days I’m just as big of a fan of the NFL as my husband is – though he’s an Eagles fan and I’m a Giants fan.

This fan rivalry was a minor point of contention when we met, and we still tease each other when our respective teams blow a game (It happened pretty often this season! Ugh.). I played in two Fantasy Football leagues this year, and it’s so much fun!

Mediterranean feta hummus dip-1

I don’t typically enjoy going to parties or bars for the Super Bowl because I actually like to watch the game and hear what’s going on. Most years my hubby and I just relax at home and watch it.

But, this in no way means that I scrimp on game day food! Hell no. I like any reason to have fun in the kitchen in general, so naturally I get all excited and make a bunch of fun Super Bowl food for just the two of us.

Mediterranean Feta Hummus Dip-3 copy

This dip idea was born after I made a few batches of the lemon hummus recipe that I shared last week. Actually, the title of this post could have been The Week That I Made 5 Batches of Hummus, because that’s precisely what happened.

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The Diet Trick That’s Guaranteed to Make You Healthier

Nutrition is such an interesting subject. There are so many dietary theories out there with millions of loyal followers, yet often they conflict with each other.

Dietary Theory books

(Image via the Institute for Integrative Nutrition)

In all honesty, some of them make me cringe a bit. I’m talking to you, Paleo followers that claim they’re “eating like a cave man” yet they buy conventionally raised meat that was likely transported from halfway across the country from animals that had been pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, and fed a diet unnatural to them.

But I digress. Nutrition can definitely be confusing for people, even for someone whose studied nutrition and is really into food like myself. While dietary theories can drastically differ in ideology, there’s one thing that I believe all decent diets have in common: lots of veggies & fruits.

veggies

My #1 diet trick is something that I consciously implemented into my daily eats years ago: Eat veggies and/or fruits at every.single.meal. 

It might sound hard to eat at least one veggie or fruit every time you eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but with a bit of planning, I promise you that it’s not. Here are some examples of how I do it:

zoodles

If I’m quickly throwing together some ravioli or pasta for dinner, I make sure that there’s a green alongside it, like zoodles or string beans. Sometimes it’s a fresh veggie, other times it’s something canned or frozen… whatever works in the moment!

Chocolate cashew banana protein smoothie

Chocolate cashew banana protein smoothie

I’m a smoothie monster. I make one almost every day. What does every single smoothie I make have in it? Either banana or some sort of berries.

Ponte pasta primavera

If I’m out to dinner, I tend to order an entree with a lot of veggies. If my entree happens to not have a lot of veggies, I get a salad as an appetizer. That salad not only nourishes my body, but it cuts the edge off of my hunger, so I’ll eat less of my entree (Leftovers are awesome!).  

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DietBet Week 4 Recap (I Made It!)

Hi there!

Hope that everyone who has off from work for Memorial Day today is enjoying it. My weekend has been very low-key just as I wanted it to be, and has included a tennis session with my hubby, some shopping and cleaning, and renting a movie. If the cloudy skies clear out here, I’m going to head to the beach today, but before I hopefully become a beach bum for the afternoon, I wanted to share a recap of my last week participating in Jen Widerstrom’s Summer Shake Down DietBet!

Working on my tennis serve on Saturday

Working on my tennis serve on Saturday

In case you missed my past DietBet recaps:

Since I knew that I’d be in Palm Springs the weekend before the end of the DietBet, my original plan was to lose 4% of my body weight – what I needed to win the game – in the first 3 weeks, then be able to just relax and indulge while I was away. However, as it sometimes goes, those pounds melted off very slowly and I went into the weekend still needing to lose a pound to win.

Food packed for Palm Springs and eaten as snacks, breakfast, and lunch one day

Food packed for Palm Springs and eaten as snacks, breakfast, and lunch one day

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DietBet Week 3 Recap + 5 Ways to Drink More H20

Hello, hello!

I’m back on this lovely Wednesday to give you a week 3 update on the DietBet game I’m participating in. Just in case you missed my other weekly recaps and want to check them out:

Exercise 

Activity-wise, I killed it in week 3. Lots of kickboxing, HIIT, walking my pup, a few hikes, and some yoga practice thrown in there. Saturday was my rest day to relax and give my body a chance to recover, and I did some foam rolling and icing throughout the week – though I’m making a mental note to try to ice every single day.

Crow and Tripod Headstand practice

A yoga transition I’ve been working on: tripod headstand –> Crow pose –> tripod headstand

Diet

Food-wise, week 3 started off kind of shaky. I was eating healthy, I just wasn’t nixing the extra stuff enough. The night that I met up with other health bloggers I had a few drinks, which would have been fine, but the night before I had made these cookies:

choc pb oatmeal cookies

Chocolate chip peanut butter banana oatmeal cookies. Drool. I had eaten a couple of cookies that night, and then a few nights later, ate a few more.

Either indulgence would have been okay and within my balanced eating ideal, but I know that I can’t splurge multiple days in a row and lose anything at all… which would have been fine except for the fact that I’m doing a DietBet that ends soon! So, long story short, I got more serious after that during the second half of the week.

sesame brown rice dinner

Dinner a few nights ago: Gardein mandarin crispy chick’n with brown rice + sesame seeds + sesame oil + sautéed bell pepper, onion & some sort of greens that I nabbed at a farm stand nearby

I got on the scale this morning and was 1/2 pound down from my last weigh-in. There’s a week left in this DietBet, and I’m aiming to lose 2 more pounds. I’m working hard but it might be a bit challenging this weekend because I’m going on a little getaway with my love (more on that to come!), so wish me luck!

one pound graphic

(source)

This Week’s Healthy Living Theme

Today for my healthy living theme of the week, I’m talking about my favorite beverage: wine  water.

When people tell me they don’t really like drinking water, I think I look at them like they have 3 heads. I mean come on, how can you not like something so refreshing that we can’t thrive nor even survive long without?!

The cells in our bodies are full of water. Water helps deliver oxygen all over the body, enables the process of digestion, and allows our cells to thrive and reproduce, among lots of other essential processes.

Harley loves water too!

Harley loves water too!

I drink a ton of water. In fact, drinking a big glass of water is one of the first things I do when I wake up in the morning.  I was recently watching a (very sad) documentary about the scarcity of clean water in India, and have been thinking about how easy it is to take having healthy water for granted. In the spirit of my love for good ole H20, I wanted to share with you 5 ways to drink more water. They’re tips that I use all the time to stay hydrated, and being hydrated can make a world of difference in how I feel. Let’s get to it!

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