Mini’s Amazing Weightloss Journey

I asked my instagram pal affectionately known as “Mini” to share her weight loss journey with everyone. It has been amazing to see her transform her body to become more lean and toned, the confidence that so obviously shines through now, and her delicious meals as she stays dedicated to health daily.

Q: I am so inspired by your weight loss journey. You look AMAZING. How did it start?
Thank you so much! My weight loss journey started on August 1st, 2011. There have been plenty of times where I would “diet” for a few months, lose a few pounds and go back to old habits. This time it was different. I was 29 and a few months away from 30. I clearly remember myself on the Sunday before August 1st sitting on my bed in a practical food comma. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I saw my bulging belly, my round puffy face and my huge chest. I started to cry. I have been heavy, depressed and insecure all of my life and at that very moment I decided that that would change. I would start fresh the next day and start working towards a new me. I vowed to be in the best shape of my life in my 30’s and I stuck to that vow.


2. How do you manage cooking for you and your hubby? I know he eats healthy, but he isn’t vegetarian, and you eat a ton of meatless meals. Any tips for couples with different eating habits?

I make two different meals for dinner. One for me and one for him. He is not the brightest person in the kitchen and if I don’t cook, he will live on cereal, and because I love that man, I am not letting that happen! However, on busy nights I usually make the same meals and just sub the meat with extra veggies for myself. However, I do try to get him to try different things and to my surprise, he actually likes it. Just make cooking and eating together fun and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

3. Has anyone close to you become more healthy as a result of your lifestyle change?

Yes! Quite a few people actually. My mother always asks me for tips and my husband clearly eats much better and has actually started going to the gym with me. I have also had people from social networks who have followed my journey start their own. They write to me stating how I was the biggest source of their inspiration. It is such a humbling experience.

4. Please tell me how you tackle plateaus! A lot of people struggle with this and get discouraged and think they will not lose any more weight.

I agree. Plateaus are extremely discouraging, however I think of it this way: I rather be stuck at my current weight and working towards my goal than stuck at my starting weight and working towards nothing. I do a combination of things to tackle plateaus. The reason I am a vegetarian now is because of a 4 month plateau. My nutritionist recommended it after seeing my food diary. She noticed that I barely ate any carbs and that my protein intake was way too high. While that did work in the beginning, it stopped. Making the change to vegetarian helped me break that plateau immediately. Now when I get stuck, I just increase my cardio and add or eliminate different foods.

5. You’re also a very talented baker. How did you get into that? Your desserts aren’t just food– they are art!

Thank you so much. I started baking at a very young age with my mother. It is definitely a passion. Not only do I love making them, but I also love eating them. I still indulge at times but not like before. I have learned how to balance it all out. So basically, I always have my cake and eat it too.

6. Finally, what recommendations do you have for someone who is overwhelmed by the process of losing weight? Where to start?

It starts with self love. You have to love yourself enough to realize that being overweight is not making you or the people around you happy. Being overweight affects your mood, your health, and your overall sense of being. You have to choose to want to be happy and healthy. You have to realize that you are worth the change that only you can make happen. Starting is always overwhelming. I never said I wanted to lose 60lbs. I started by saying I wanted to lose 10lbs. I made small and realistic goals for myself. After achieving my first 10lbs, I made a goal for another 10lbs. For some people, even 10lbs might sound overwhelming, so why not start with 5? Give yourself a month to achieve small goals and be patient. I did not gain weight overnight so I knew it was going to take time to reverse that. It took time to change my eating habits and food addictions. After you reach your ultimate goal weight you do not go back to old habits. You continue with the lifestyle and reap the benefits of health, vitality and skinny jeans!

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1 Year Anniversary| MFP

Today marks 365 days of consistent logging on MFP (myfitnesspal.com). I’ve had good days, bad days, off days, and on days. It’s been a blast, and I’ve made a lot of friends from the experience. What is important to me is that for a whole year straight, I’ve logged into a fitness and wellness site and done at least one thing to dedicate myself to a better me. I don’t always hit my calorie goals, and I don’t always burn 500 calories. I am in a place where I receive support and support others. I like to think of MFP as a sometimes more productive version of Facebook. You can add friends, update your status, add photos, encourage others, and even respond to comments and questions on forums.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on the “what now?” question. I hit my weight goal a while ago, but I still want to get stronger and commit myself to more consistency. I think it’s time to change things up. I am human and naturally, I am motivated by a rewards system. I’ll be putting a little money jar in my workout area and donating $1 to a little savings fund just for me. I don’t know what I’ll buy yet– a new jacket from Lululemon, a massage, or maybe a pair of Tieks (cutest flats ever)! It really doesn’t matter, so long as my reward isn’t something that cancels out all the progress I’ve made. My reward will NOT be a plate of nachos, for instance!

My goals are:

  1. Work out 4 days per week
  2. Deep stretch twice per week
  3. Eat cleaner
  4. To not be scale-obsessed
  5. To get stronger!

What are your goals? Will you be joining me with a fitness money jar??

xo,

Fifi

Safely Vegan

Sauteing garbanzo beans as the vegetarian option for pasta.

Recently I was asked for a few tips to help out with a new vegan diet. I can understand wanting to be safe, because many times people set out to become vegan or vegetarian and without knowledge, they become discouraged or even in poor health and they end up switching back to their old ways. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying a pescatarian, paleo, vegan, or vegetarian lifestyle–it needs to be an informed decision. It is good to know your body and your current state of health before starting, and to have a plan. I’ll share with you my tips, and I’d love to hear some feedback on what has worked for you! Even if you aren’t thinking of going vegan, I know several fitness enthusiasts who eat vegan a few days out of the week. This post is for you, or for someone you know!

1. Get a blood test: This to me is first and foremost. If you have a good baseline, you will know what nutrients you may  be deficient in (or prone to deficiency) so that you can eat and take supplements to make up for the deficit. Great things to test are the thyroid activity, iron count, vitamin D, and B12, to name a few. Vitamin deficiencies are nothing to play with; they can lead to lots of problems including issues with your heart, extreme fatigue, and depression.

2. Vitamins & Minerals: Those who choose a vegan lifestyle will find that they must work harder to obtain vitamin B complex, which is essential for helping the body convert energy. Vegans will also have to work harder to get iron. Quite frankly, if more people got regular check ups and had blood tests, they would likely find that vegan or not, they could do a better job at meeting their daily requirements for vitamins and minerals. It’s good to do research to find out which vitamins are vegan. Personally, I take the Ultimate Woman vitamin from the Vitamin Shoppe. I love that it’s made specifically with the woman’s body in mind. It requires 2 pills a day, but I chose it because it has a good source of iron and also helps me meet my calcium requirement each day. The top iron sources for vegans are:

Spirulina (1 tsp): 5 mg
Cooked soybeans (1/2 cup): 4.4 mg
Pumpkin seeds (1 ounce): 4.2 mg
Quinoa (4 ounces): 4 mg
Blackstrap molasses (1 tbsp): 4 mg
Tomato paste (4 ounces): 3.9 mg
White beans (1/2 cup) 3.9 mg
Cooked spinach (1/2 cup): 3.2 mg
Dried peaches (6 halves): 3.1 mg
Prune juice (8 ounces): 3 mg
Lentils (4 ounces): 3 mg

3. Protein: How do you get your protein? I am asked this question all the time. This is another problem that is seemingly concentrated to vegans and vegetarians, when in reality– it’s a universal problem. There are a ton of people who do not get enough protein. For my 1650 calorie diet, it is recommended that I get at least 62 grams of protein. I focus on getting 20 to 25 grams of protein per meal. My vegan sources of protein are beans, nuts, protein powder, brown rice, pasta, quinoa, legumes and barley. There are other forms like seitan–which have some amount of soy products, but can be great for certain recipes. Since I am a vegetarian, I have the added benefit of protein from dairy and eggs.

4. Soy: Do not fall into the soy trap! It can often be easier to eat a ton of tofu or even worse, all of the processed soy products that exist on the market. Instead, limit your days of these types of foods. Soy sensitivity is real. I have been told by more than one person with endometriosis for instance, that their doctor has told them to steer clear of soy. The consumption of soy products can block certain mineral absorption, affect thyroid activity, and cause the body to produce too much estrogen. It’s good to be informed, so do some research on the effects of soy. Men should most certainly be mindful of their soy consumption, because the estrogen increase can feminize the body. Surely these are not desired side-effects! I will admit that soy research is all over the map right now. One thing is for certain–the way soy is consumed in Asia, is not at all like the processed soy products we consume in North America. In Asia, a lot of the soy products are fermented and consumed in fairly small amounts and thus have less harmful effects on the body. In this way, those who consume it are able to reap the benefits of soy in the diet. Be mindful, and eat soy in moderation.

5. Milk: When it comes to milk, we are afforded many other options outside of soy milk like coconut, hazelnut, and rice milk, to name a few. These are really fun to use when baking for additional unique flavors.

6. Recipes & creativity: The vegan lifestyle does not mean just eat what you ate as an omnivore, and just remove the animal products. Planning meals should be purposeful. You should ask yourself: how much protein do I need? Am I getting a variety of veggies this week? What new recipe can I use to to make this particular item in a new way? Choose a day of the week where you will plan and grocery shop. Try out new recipes so that you do not become bored with the same meals week in and week out. Sometimes, you can simple go to Google and type something like, “What to do with chickpeas”. You never know what delicious recipes you will find. It really is all about exploration. My blog has a ton of vegan and vegetarian recipes that I hope you will make use of.

 

6b.- I have to add this. If you are vegan or vegetarian, and don’t like veggies…. you’re in trouble! Vegan isn’t a solution for picky eaters at all. Every person on earth needs a diet that is heavily focused on plants. We need the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that they provide. If you have a list of more than 5 veggies that you just can’t stand, you probably should research a new way to prepare them. Don’t be offended– it’s all love. 🙂

 

7. The social aspect: Being social and being vegan can sometimes be hard when most of the world eats meat– and enjoys it! You’ll definitely want to share with family and close friends your reasons for going vegan. When it’s for health reasons, who can blame you? Whatever your reason, people who care about you most should be supportive. When you are eating out, it can be hard to get a nutritious meal. If you’re attending a social function, be prepared. Have a protein shake about 2 hours in advance, and then go and join the fun. Then, on the chance that the only vegan options are veggies and dip, you won’t starve. All in all, you just need to be creative. If you are at an Italian restaurant, for instance– you can ask if the chef will be willing to add garbanzo beans to your dish for added protein. If you are at a work meeting or conference, speak to the organizers in advance and let them know you would like vegan/vegetarian options. Most people just don’t have any idea what to provide besides salad. Help them out by providing a few suggestions.

8. Keep a food diary: There are many online sources for this. Currently, I use myfitnesspal.com. Even if you keep your account and diary private, this is a resource for you to keep a close eye on what your diet looks like. A diary log will allow you to look at your protein, vitamin and mineral intake, carbohydrates, etc. It can be very very helpful.

These are my tips, but they are not law. You’ll have to do your own research and find what works best for you. I hope this helps!!!

xoxo,

Fifi

Miami Vacation!

Last week I traveled to Miami for a vacation with more than two dozen pals. Pals of which, I had not met a single one in person. We met on myfitnesspal.com last year (some earlier than that) and one woman came up with the fantastic idea that we should meet in person. So many of us email, text, call, etc on a regular basis– it only made sense. What better city to go to for showing off bodies of newly shed pounds, spending time together under the bright sun and soaking up the rays.

 

We had a few things planned including a 4 hour boating tour which was such a blast even though the waters were choppier than expected. Take a look at my video for a few tips on staying healthy when you travel, and a slide show of my adventures in Miami.