How to Keep Those New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year 2013

The New Year is right around the corner (wow, is it really 2013?) and it’s time for New Year’s Resolutions!

Right at the top of many people’s list is Lose Weight or Get In Shape.  Gyms will be packed out the first week of the new year, and the second… most of January… but then the numbers will start to fall.  According to the folks at Franklin Covey, who conduct a survey on New Year’s Resolutions, only 25% of people making resolutions to themselves kept them and over 35% of those resolutions didn’t survive to the end of January.  Two of the biggest reasons people have for not keeping with their commitments were that they had too many other things going on already and they just simply weren’t committed to their resolution in the first place.

But you don’t have to fall into the ranks with those that couldn’t keep it going.  There are a few tips to make keeping your resolutions easier.

  1. Be Specific.  A resolution like Get In Shape is so broad that it’s hard to keep it.  So many things can fall under getting in shape that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  Instead, try setting a goal like, “I will walk for 30 minutes a day 3 days per week”.  30 minutes X 3 days is a measurable goal.  When you can see progress being made towards your goal it’s a lot easier to keep at it.
  2. Make a plan.  Write it down or type it up but this goes hand in hand with being specific about your goal.  Give yourself steps to take to get to your goal and make sure to check each step off as you completed.  Hey, even adults feel better seeing a gold star on their homework.
  3. Be committed to your goal.  If you kinda, sorta want to quit smoking but you really enjoy cigarettes and you’re only doing it because your SO keeps nagging you then you probably shouldn’t make quitting smoking one of your resolutions.  However, if you’ve been smoking for 15 years and you know it’s killing you and you’ve had enough and are ready to kick the habit then rock on, you can do it.  But remember #1 and be specific in how you’re going to do it, it will make keeping at it much easier.
  4. Tell a friend and ask them for support.  Many people underestimate how powerful this can be.  Having a friend or group of friends that can help support you makes a world of difference.  With today’s technology there are even sites where you can have 100’s of friends there to help support you for various things.  Find a forum, an app, a support group or whatever works for you where you don’t go it alone.
  5. Don’t expect yourself to work miracles.  If you’ve got a list with 20 resolutions you’re bound to have some that get broken.  Even worse, the stress of such an overwhelming task could cause you to give up on goals you would have otherwise kept.  Make a short list of goals that are important to you and that are attainable, then kick ass on following through on them.

This list is by no means all-inclusive, and a bit of Google searching is likely to give you several great suggestions as well.  I’ve applied these principles to my weight loss goals and can say they definitely work.  I struggled for many years without a clear plan or goal but once I put some definition to things it helped tremendously.

If losing weight is your resolution there are a lot of great tools available online to help you along the way.  I use MyFitnessPal.com, Fitocracy.com and Runkeeper.com to track my calories and exercise.  Not only do they help keep me on track but there’s a strong community on each site that helps to keep you motivated and give you tips and the discussion forums give some great info as well.

I hope everyone had an awesome 2012 and that your 2013 exceeds all your expectations!

Chicken Fried Cauliflower Rice and the Paleo Diet

This dude is gonna eat Paleo tonight.

This dude is gonna eat Paleo tonight.

In an ongoing effort to improve my diet I’ve been trying some Paleo recipes.  I’m not doing 100% Paleo right now, just testing the waters some to see if I can do it.   The hardest things for me to give up would be cheese and beer.  I might be able to cut the cheese (lol, I’m hilarious!) but I really, really love craft beer.  Not just drinking beer but hunting down rare ones and trying them with friends, the whole craft beer… personality.  If it came down to my health or weekend beers with friends I’d give it up, but I wouldn’t be happy about it and I’d probably bitch about it a lot.

The Paleo Diet’s main tenets are  no grains, no legumes and no dairy and eating unprocessed foods.  Meat is acceptable and the diet doesn’t frown on animal fat.  Nuts (no peanuts!) and seeds are OK as are lots of fruit and vegetables.  The diet is not anti-carb, it’s just selective on where you get your carbs from.  The same goes for the meats, the diet prefers grass-fed beef as opposed to beef raised on a grain-fed diet.  Of course my description is very simplified, for more info take a look at the Wikipedia entry on the Paleolithic Diet or The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet.  As with any diet there those that think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread (probably because they’re not allowed to have sliced bread) and others that think it is a diet created by the devil to destroy us.  As a child of the 70’s I was brought up on the classic food pyramid and told that eating a boatload of bread and beans and rice was good for me, so I’m still a skeptic but the more info I see and read the more I’m willing to give it a shot.

I saw several recipes online for Cauliflower Rice and one mentioned making fried rice with it so that’s what I did.  I ended up with a hearty chicken fried rice loaded with vegetables.  It’s low cal, high protein and low carb.  Although I used soy sauce in mine you could substitute coconut aminos for the soy sauce and it would be totally Paleo.

This really is a powerhouse recipe macro-wise.  It only has 322 calories per serving, only 15 grams carbs, 99 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber.  I won’t even go into the details about the vitamins you’ll get from everything, mostly because I don’t know what they are, but you can bet it’s a lot of damn vitamins.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Cauliflower Fried Rice

CHICKEN FRIED CAULIFLOWER RICE
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small (1/4” piece) of ginger, grated
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 large yellow squash
  • ½ medium onion
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • ½ Tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

There are two ways you can ‘rice’ the cauliflower.  I use a food processor and break it into small pieces then pulse until it’s the right size.  If you don’t have a good processor you could also use the large openings on a box grater, note that grating cauliflower is very messy.  If using the food processor you may want to do a few small batches.  Place this in a microwaveable bowl and set it aside for now.

Next, slice the chicken thin, as you would for any stir fry.  Also slice up all your veggies and put them together on a plate or bowl.  Beat two eggs and add the soy sauce to the eggs.  You’ll want to prep all this at the beginning as things will move quickly once you get going.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add ½ Tbsp of coconut oil.  Add the sliced chicken to the pan and cook until no pink is visible, this only takes a few minutes.  You can season the chicken some if you like.  Remove the chicken and set it to the side.  Add the garlic and ginger to the pan and sauté for about 30 seconds then add the vegetables.  Cook the vegetables to your liking, I prefer mine to maintain some crispness.  Remove vegetables from pan and sit aside.

Microwave the riced cauliflower for 2 minutes.  While that is cooking add the remaining ½ Tbsp of coconut oil to the pan and scramble the eggs.  Add the cauliflower to the scramble egg and chop the egg into it.  Season the cauliflower and rice then add the chicken and vegetables  and combine all ingredients and check seasonings again.  Heat for 1-2 minutes to make sure all ingredients are warm. Serve.

Tips, tricks and shortcuts

  • Use any variety of vegetables you’d like:  Water chestnuts and bamboo shoots would be a good addition and you can top this with chopped green onion as well.
  • This is mostly Paleo but if you’re 100% hardcore Paleo this can be made without the soy sauce and sub coconut aminos. (I haven’t tried the coconut aminos so I add that as a recommendation from others.)
  • This can also be made with shrimp, pork or beef.
  • Sriracha makes this even more awesome.

BASIC NUTRITION INFO (per serving / 4 servings per recipe)

Calories:  286
Carbohydrates:  16 grams
Fat:  10 grams
Protein: 34 grams
Fiber:  6 grams

Enjoy!

Related articles

My experience with the NutriBullet and their Customer “Service” department.

RIP NutriBullet. You will be missed.

UPDATE:  The day I posted this (09/26) I received a call from the NutriBullet folks.  I was told they were shipping me a replacement unit and I would receive it in “7-10 days”.  Giving them the benefit of the doubt I counted only business days and even deducted a day for Columbus Day.  Even with that I’m here at 11 business days and still no NutriBullet.  Over 2 weeks since they called me and exactly ONE MONTH since it died and I first contacted them.  Without a doubt some of the worst customer service I’ve experienced.

UPDATE 2:  Well, I’d really hoped this update would be me saying I got my replacement NutriBullet.  Ummm… no.  I did get an email from them saying that it was shipped on 10/11 via USPS and that they suggest I wait 10-15 days for delivery.  I replied asking them why they told me it was shipped on 09/26, no answer to that yet.  I now officially hate everything my NutriBullet stands for.  I’ll be pushing two months of a dead blender before I get my replacement, that is if they actually shipped it on the 11th.

FINAL UPDATE:  Today is 10/17/12.  After 21 emails, 4 phone calls and 5 weeks I received my replacement parts.  I was told Friday they’d just shipped and replied backing asking them why they told me it shipped on the 26th.  They replied today telling me they were sorry for the delay and hoped to ship it to me soon.  Seems like it’s one huge train wreck over there.  If this thing breaks again I’ll simply throw it away and never look at another NutriBullet again.

——————————————————————————————

Around September 12th my NutriBullet sprung a leak.  I didn’t overload it or misuse it in any way, I followed the same method I had every other morning to make a smoothie, or “NutriBlast” as they call them.  Unfortunately as soon as I started the machine it began to leak, a lot.  I immediately stopped the unit and attempted to clean out all the smoothie in the housing however it had leaked behind a thin plastic shield that I could not get to.  I also noticed when I picked it up that smoothie was leaking out of the bottom of the machine and had formed a nice puddle on my kitchen counter.  I immediately unplugged the unit and tried calling their customer service number.  After working my way through a maze of automated prompts I was told, “Our call queue is currently full, please try your call again later.”  I was busy the rest of the day and the next morning (Sept. 13) decided to send a request for replacement through their website.  I received my first reply from NutriBullet Customer Service the following Monday, Sept. 17.

Here is the text of the email I received:

We are pleased to be of assistance with your request for a replacement Power Base. Now, where did it leak from? Did it leak from where you screw the cup on or from underneath the Blade? If you are getting leaking issues you may need your cup or blade replaced also. Please try different variations of cups and blades to determine if there is another part you need replaced.  The NutriBullet is covered by a 1-year limited warranty from the date of purchase.  If it does not operate to your satisfaction due to defective parts or workmanship, Homeland Housewares will repair or replace it for free (excluding shipping and handling).

Since the purchase was made within 30-days we will waive the shipping and handling fee and promptly ship a replacement(s) at no additional charge. Please confirms if the Base is all you need or another part as well. Also, please reply back with the barcode number underneath your Power Base.

Cool, looks like the issue has been resolved… or so I thought.

I don’t want to ramble on too much so I’ll give a summary of the exchange from there.  At this point I tried the unit (I hadn’t tried it again since the leak) and it would not come on so I replied with details of what happened and told them I tried it with no luck.  A couple days later I get a reply with a list of  more questions, many that I’d already addressed in my first two messages.  I replied again and waited, at this point it had taken a week to get this far.  I received two more emails over the next week and the last one, two days ago, asked more questions and then told me I’d need to call and give them my credit card info to cover shipping – even though their FIRST email to me told me that cost would be waived.  After a couple more emails they asked me to try the unit again, check tabs on the cups, seals on the blades, etc.  I did and after hearing a crunching sound the unit started up, I assume this was breaking the crust of dried smoothie loose before it could be started.  There was a burning smell as well.  Even if the unit worked fine now there is food stuck in it as you can see in the pics below.  There’s no way that can be sanitary.  There’s also condensation in the motor housing after two weeks of not being used.

You can see the food stuck behind a plastic lining in the NutriBullet where it leaked.

I figured to expedite things I’d try calling them again.  This time the phone rang once then I got a busy signal.  I tried a few more times with the same results and emailed them back.  This time I told them that it was ridiculous this should take two weeks to resolve when I was told in the first email it would be replaced without cost, I have not heard back from them again.  Today is two weeks since I first tried to reach them about this.  I attempted to call again today and got the same ring then busy signal.  Amazingly I did manage to eventually get through and waded through the swamp of automated prompts again.  This time once I was in the queue I received a recorded message that said something to the effect of, “Due to extreme demand your hold time will be very substantial, we will hold your place in the queue and call you back.”  I’m still waiting for the call back.

I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that a company that pushes sales so hard totally ignores the importance of customer service.  It shows me what they think of me as a customer, now that they have the sell they could care less.  The volley of emails actually seems like they are trying to delay or avoid replacing my NutriBullet.  I guarantee there’s no shortage of shipments going out to new customers.  I see ads for the NutriBullet everywhere online, I use a site called MyFitnessPal.com for calorie tracking and see their banner ads on there at least a few times a week.

I’ll update this once I see what the end result is or if there are any other developments worthy of mention.  As of right now I would not recommend the NutriBullet based on their lack of service after the sell.

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Smoothies, smoothies everywhere.

The Kitchen Sink Smoothie

Since originally writing this post I’ve had some issues wit the NutriBullet, see my update here.

I’ve always enjoyed smoothies.  I get them out sometimes and make them at home as well.  However up until recently my blender was a pain to make a smoothie in, it would always get “stuck” and I’d have to poke at it with a spatula to get everything blended together.  Grrr!  Now I know I could get a Vitamix or Blendtec and take care of that issue but I just struggle with paying $400.00+ for a blender.  Even if Blendtec does have some really cool uses for their blenders.

About a month ago one of my friends picked up a NutriBullet blender after seeing an infomercial on it.  I’m always skeptical of things sold on infomercials, I’ve got some real duds before.  But then my buddy started talking about how much he loved it.  Then another friend picked one up and gave the same review, he loves his NutriBullet.  I use Amazon a lot to check out items as the review there seem to be pretty accurate, I just look for a seller that has the most reviews on said item and see what others have to say.  Reviews were mostly positive with an overall 4 out of 5 stars on 91 reviews.  So I bit the bullet (LOL, I’m so funny!) and ordered one myself directly from the NutriBullet website.  A warning if you order one, when you checkout you have to go through about half a dozen screens where they try to upsell you stuff.

To make a long story short I got my NutriBullet in and I love it.  Rather than a blender they like to call it a Nutrition Extractor.  Oooh, fancy.  It blends smoothies very quickly and cleanup is much easier than with a full-size blender, plus you don’t have to dirty the blender and a glass since you blend in the glass with the NutriBullet.  It also blends things very smoothly – including nuts, seeds and tough leafy greens like kale.  I was always frustrated with some of the chunks when using kale in my smoothies.  I’ve also found a couple other uses for it.  You get a blending blade and a milling blade with the blender.  I’ve used the small cup and the blending blade to mix spices in with eggs for an omelette, the Bullet adds air to the eggs and they cook up very light and fluffy.  I’ve also used the small cup with the milling blade and poured in whole oats, spices and some fresh grated Parmesan and made my own Shake and Bake coating for some chicken.

NutriBullet Loaded Up and Ready for Action

It probably won’t seem like it but I didn’t intend this post to be a review for the NutriBullet but rather to talk about smoothies and smoothie recipes.  I’ve read up a LOT on ingredients for smoothies and I’d really like a recipe that’s an all-in-one smoothie.  I found a lot of recipes that said this smoothie is for weight loss and this one is for circulatory health and this one is for vision, etc.  Soooo… I solved that problem by making what I call my Kitchen Sink Smoothie, it’s got a bit of everything in it.  It tasted great, lots of the cocoa comes through, and is very thick in consistency as is.  You could leave out the avocado and add more liquid which would cut fat and calories and thin it down quite a bit.

I’d also like to hear any great recipes others have or if you own a NutriBullet what you think of it and any interesting uses you’ve found for it.

Kitchen Sink Smoothie

This lady’s pic was in the NutriBullet recipe book. I don’t know what she put in her smoothie but I need to get me some of that.

  • 1 cup Baby Spinach
  • 10 Blueberries
  • 3 medium Strawberries
  • 1/2 small Cucumber
  • 1 Tbsp PB2 powdered peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Goji Berries
  • 1 Tbsp dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 oz Crystallized Ginger
  • 1/2 medium Banana
  • 1/2 Mango
  • 1/2 medium Hass Avocado
  • 1/4 cup Fat-free Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Directions

Blend everything together and drink. ;-)

Basic Nutrition Info per serving (Recipe makes one LARGE serving, can definitely be eaten as a meal.)

  • Calories = 532
  • Carbs – 86 grams
  • Fat – 20 grams
  • Protein – 18 grams

You could drop the avocado and save 125 calories and 11 grams of fat if those things are a concern.  You could also substitute protein powder for the avocado and keep the calories close to the same but gain another 20’ish grams of protein while cutting about 10 grams of fat.

DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor.  Always consult your physician on dietary changes.  Some nutrients can interact with certain medications.  I’m just sharing this recipe because I like smoothies and thought this one was pretty good.

Scallops Fra Diavolo – Low calorie, low carb, packed with protein.

One of my local stores sells a take-and-bake version of this dish.  They use bread crumbs and butter in there’s and I wanted to see if I could tweak it to low the carbs and calories a bit.  Many other Scallops Fra Diavolo recipes have a spicy tomato sauce.   By making this dish without a sauce it eliminates the need to serve it over pasta, and you still get the spicy tomato flavor.  If you want this a bit more saucy you can use canned diced tomatoes instead of the fresh tomato, just drain off any excess juice first.

Scallops Fra Diavolo

Serves 2

Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz bay scallops, raw
  • ⅛ cup almond meal
  • 2 medium Roma tomatoes, diced & seeded
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil spray


Directions

Start by combining almond meal, parsley, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a bowl.  Once combined add scallops then stir to coat in the seasoned almond meal.  Add tomatoes, onion and garlic and stir gently to combine all ingredients.

Spray a shallow pan with non-stick cooking spray and add scallops to pan, spray top of scallops lightly with olive oil.  Scallops should fit in pan in a single layer  Bake in preheated 400° oven for approximately 20 minutes until scallops are firm.  Plate and serve, topping each serving with ½ of the grated Paremsan.

Basic Nutrition Info (per serving)

  • 183 calories
  • 14 grams carbs
  • 6 grams fat
  • 20 grams protein


Approximate Cost = $4.00/serving ($8.00/recipe)
At about $9.00/lb the only major cost here is the scallops.  Almond meal is about $14.00/lb but you only use a small amount.  Add a side salad to this meal and you can feed 2 people for about $10.00.

Calorie and Activity Tracking

One thing I’m doing differently this time around with my weight loss is tracking what I eat as well as my activity, it’s been a HUGE help to me.  I was always hesitant to track my food before because I thought it would be a pain to log everything that I eat, and not too long ago it would have been a pain.  But with all these internets we’ve got around us as well as iPads, iPhones and Androids it’s a lot easier to do these days.

I found out that by tracking what I eat it not only keeps me on track for the day but also educates me on what the impact is on certain foods.  You may not realize how much fat, sugar and overall calories are packed in certain foods.  With a good tracking app you can not only find out what’s bad for you but see alternatives to the “bad” foods.  By tracking my exercise I can see the benefits of being active and how many calories I burn with my activities.  Many sites now add a social aspect to your fitness goals, it’s great to have friends join you for support and encouragement… plus a little friendly competition is fun, too.

Here are the sites that I use to track my fitness goals:

reddit.com/r/loseit – If you’re not familiar with Reddit you should check it out.  There are “subreddits” for most interests.  r/loseit is a great forum where people share their successes and challenges, post progress pictures and generally just encourage each other, it’s a very friendly community.  If you head over to Reddit also check out r/fitmeal and r/fitness.

MyFitnessPal.com – Referred to simply as MFP by it’s users.  A great site to track your calorie intake and expenditure each day.  Enter your personal info (age, height, weight, sex, goals) and it will help you target a calorie plan to reach those goals over a set amount of time.  Also gives you charts to show your weight progress (gain or loss) over time.  The site has discussion forums as well.  One of the greatest features of the site is the food database, many common foods are already listed and there is a page to enter your own recipes for future use.  If you use the app on your iPhone you can also simply scan a barcode and enter the serving numbers to track calories.  MFP allows you to have a friends list on the site to share information.

Fitocracy.com – “Fito” is my latest discovery, it’s a very fun site.  Their focus is strictly on the activity side of things, not in calorie tracking.   The format is similar to Twitter with you having an activity feed on your home page but they also incorporate groups and friends to look at special interests.  When you track an activity you get points and you can “Level Up” as you reach certain goals.  Fitocracy also has quests, achievements, challenges and duels to compete with others.  The combination of encouragement from others as well as the competition and the rewards system make this site very addictive, I find myself pushing a bit harder at a workout just to get a few more points to level up or to beat a friend in a duel.

Runkeeper.com – Runkeeper allows you to use your smartphone as a GPS tracker to measure your time, speed and distance when you walk, run, hike or bike.  In addition you can manually enter exercise if you’re inside, like a stationary bike ride.  For GPS-tracked activities it will show you a map of where you traveled as well as the time you were traveling, your pace, distance and total time.  You can view charts on the site to track your progress over time.

These are the sites I use however there are many others that do have similar functions, some even more.  Garmin makes devices that link with their own site to track you much like Runkeeper with your iPhone. Nike+ also has hardware you can purchase as does Fitbit.  Endomondo is another popular fitness tracking site.  If none of these work out for you a bit of searching on Google should find one that suits your needs.

One more note, invest in a good heart rate monitor to help with your tracking.  You’ll be able to get a more true sense of your activity and calories burned per workout.  Polar makes some very highly recommended monitors in a variety of styles.

Please consult with your physician before starting any diet or exercise routine.