Sporty Thighs

No need for quick and easy meals to be boring.  Dress up your thighs anytime with this simple recipe — you’ll think you’re at your favorite restaurant.

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Recipe & Ingredients

6 chicken thighs
1 tablespoon poultry fat, lard or coconut oil
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
4 oz fresh spinach
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons grass fed butter

Preparation

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Prep your ingredients

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In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat melt one tablespoon of your favorite healthy fat. Brown the chicken thighs 3-5 minutes per side or until just just short of being cooked through and transfer to a plate.

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Add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic to the pan and cook until tender. Add the spinach and cook until just slightly wilted.  Add in the lemon juice, white wine and sea salt and pepper and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced. Add the thighs back to the skillet, stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and stir until slightly thickened.  Serve immediately with sides of your choice.

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We had fresh local cauliflower steamed and shared a baked potato.  Uh yea, with butter and sour cream

Jelly Bean Flu

For those of you that eat relatively healthy or ‘clean’ most of the time following the 80/20 rule do you find yourself feeling a little crappy on Easter Monday and Tuesday?  Not wanting to be ‘weird’ I splurged a bit over the Easter holiday indulging in such delights as my homemade banana pudding cheesecake and some atypical foods that I know were filled with chemicals, toxins and colors not found in nature such as but not limited to:  jelly beans, chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps, potato chips, corn casserole and ham with nitrates all in quantities teetering on gluttonous.

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After a 2.5 day food fest which began on Good Friday at approximately 6:30 pm and did not end until Sunday afternoon I found myself completely lethargic after returning home from Jacksonville and unpacking.  The couch was calling my name.  When the Jag asked what’s for dinner I looked at him in disbelief.  I am NOT cooking.  You’re on your own tonight dear.  After a 2 hour nap I went to bed at 9:15 and did not awake until he nudged me that the alarm was going off at 5:30 am.

After getting up I felt pretty rested although after stepping on the scale it showed that I had gained 3.4 pounds since Friday morning.  Whoa.  Shall we say retaining just a tad of water?  After a three day sabbatical from physical activity I was glad to be back at it.  The warm up felt great.  When I got to the main lift of the day strength was not where it was last week.  Hmmm.  In general I was quickly winded and moving slowly.  And sweating profusely.  Granted it was fairly humid but still sweating more than usual.  Come on out toxins I thought.

The day seemed to drag by and I was still lethargic Monday afternoon.  When I got home I saw that leftover candy was adorning our table in the living room.  Waste not want not or rather like an addict I fell into the jelly beans again right after dinner.

My stomach hurt and Tuesday morning found me sweating red, purple and green during my deadlifts.  TIME! I yelled and quoth my latest mantra — nevermore and let the spring leaning begin…

Happy Easter

Happy Easter Y’all!! 
Bunny
Enjoy your time with family and friends!

 

 

Banana Pudding Cheesecake

Happy Easter y’all!  Summer’s coming and this is generally the last of my spring flings before I turn the tables to leaning out.  It is a delicious one and the perfect dessert to wow your family.  The banana pudding flavor lightens up the cheesecake (sort of) making it the centerpiece of your Easter table.

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The claim to fame for this recipe goes to  Southern Living March 2012.  I made a few changes to make it gluten free and a tad healthier.

Recipe & Ingredients

1 1/2 cups finely crushed gluten free vanilla wafers*
1/2 cup chopped pecan
1/4 cup butter, melted
17 vanilla wafers
2 large ripe bananas, diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely crushed vanilla wafers

Garnishes: sweetened whipped cream, vanilla wafers, sliced bananas tossed in lemon juice

*These can be hard to find; any similarly shaped gf vanilla cookie will do.  I used Ginny Mini Butter Crisp and found them at my local Whole Foods

Preparation

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Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Press mixture onto bottom of a greased and floured 9-inch springform pan.

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Stand 17 vanilla wafers around edge of pan (rounded sides against pan), pressing gently into crust to secure. Bake 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes).

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Combine bananas and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 1 minute or just until sugar has dissolved.

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Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 minutes or until smooth. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

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Gently stir banana mixture into cream cheese mixture. Pour batter into prepared crust.

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Bake at 350° for 45 to 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove cheesecake from oven; gently run a knife around edge of cheesecake to loosen.

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Sprinkle top of cheesecake with coarsely crushed wafers. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 8 hours.

Garnish:  beat 1/2 cup raw cream with a little powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Place dollops around outer edges of cheesecake.  Top each dollop with a vanilla wafer and banana slice dipped in lemon juice (to prevent browning).

Peppered Chicken

Here’s another 3.2.1…GO recipe to jazz up a weeknight meal with enough pizzazz  for a weekend dinner.  Served simply with parslied potatoes both family and guests will be more than satisfied.

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Recipe & Ingredients

4, 6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons duck fat
2 cups sliced red bell peppers
2 cups sliced yellow bell peppers
1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons non GMO cornstarch
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preparation

Combine the garlic powder, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.  Sprinkle on both sides of the chicken breasts.  Melt the duck fat in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Brown chicken 3-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add bell peppers, shallots and rosemary; saute for 3 minutes or until slightly tender.  Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Add in vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, cook 3 minutes stirring frequently.

Mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and add to pan, bring to a slight boil and cook for 1-2 minutes or until thickened slightly.  Serve bell pepper mixture over chicken.

Serves 4

The Challenge is over: Now What?

And so it began on January 16, 2016…

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Congratulations to those that completed CF Jaguar’s 8 week Look Better Naked 2016 Challenge.  We had a group of 23 this year excluding coaches and 14 of those participants crossed the finish line!

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Body fat was lost, muscle mass was both gained and maintained, strength increased along with endurance.  There were varying goals and overall amazing results.

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The question is. . . where do we go from here? There are generally 3 ‘types’ of participants in any challenge:

  • The “All In”
  • The “Moderate”
  • The “Blow if Off

Many fall in between but let’s talk about the types…

The “All In”:  this is the Type A, hard driven, do or die extremist and usually the most successful in the short run. For 8 weeks you religiously calculated and logged your macros with the accuracy of an accountant, you worked out consistently a minimum of 5 times a week sometimes doing 2 a days and/or adding in extra conditioning. You stopped drinking, ate no sweets and did not cheat at all.  You are seeing amazing results; you are losing body fat, gaining muscle, performing better and sleeping better.  You will never stop.

The “Moderate”:  you believe in the tortoise.  You have scaled back your nutrition and alcohol consumption and are keeping a fairly accurate log of your nutritional intake or are eyeballing portions with some degree of precision. You are making it to the gym 3-5 times a week.  You’ve made a concerted effort to get more sleep and reduce your stress load.  You are seeing results; you are losing some body fat, gaining a little muscle, your workout performance has improved and you are sleeping better.  This isn’t so bad and you’re thinking you might be able to live like this. Generally this type is the best geared for long term success.

The “Blow It Off”:  you changed your nutrition for 3 days, tracked it for two days, got in one extra workout and wondered why you did not lose 10 pounds by the end of the week and why the hell you signed up and paid for this. You had no idea so much effort was required, don’t they have some kind of a pill for this?  Or you just might not be ready for the commitment right now, maybe later. That’s ok, we’re here for you.

Most people fall in one of those categories or somewhere between 2 of them.  No matter where you fall once the challenge is over it’s difficult to know where you go from there.

Common Pitfalls:

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The Binger:  woo hoo! I can have pizza and beer now and all I want.  You fall off the wagon quickly and hard and sometimes don’t get back up.  Within a few weeks to a month you are right back where you were before the challenge started.  This category is primarily composed of the all in and some moderates.  The blow off never sacrificed and continues as they were

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The Attempter:  you may have a meal or two to celebrate and swear you are going to get right back on it next week and maybe you do.  By the next week one or two meals/cocktails turns into 3 the next week and after a couple of months you too are back where you started. This category is mainly comprised of moderates and some all ins.

While neither of these paths is ultimately desirable what is the best way to come off a challenge?  That is the path of The Maintainer.  It is the best path but sometimes the most difficult to find the proper balance.  That balance will be different for everyone.  It is comprised of roughly equal all ins and moderates

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First Step: Re evaluate your goals:  did you reach them?  If yes, you are ready for maintenance.  If no, continue on the path that was working for you on the challenge.

And ask yourself — is this realistic?:  is it realistic for you to continue to live like this?  In other words, what degree of sacrifice is right for you.  None?  Then learn to love yourself as you are.  Some?  This is where most of us all fall, what weight/body composition allows you to still have some degree of pleasure in your eating and socializing. All?  You don’t care what amount of sacrifice it takes you want to maintain a 6 pack year round.  I think that’s obsessed (cause I’ve been there) and I don’t think you’re going to be happy but who am I to judge.  Even competitors that make their living this way have indulgence days.  This type of extreme strictness can lead to eating and/or body image disorders.

Finding the balance.  As I stated before it’s different for everyone.  I’ll use myself as an example and share a brief history.  When I first started fitness and changing my nutrition I was the “All In”.  Yep, no moderation ever for this girl.  After my first competition and achieving sub 10% body fat I turned into the binger alternating with bouts of nutritional extremes.  This pattern continued for quite a few years until I finally found a balance and learned how to maintain.  Here’s what works for me. . .

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I find my maintenance program is seasonal.  We’re going to start in the fall; the weather is turning cooler, the pumpkins are popping out of the patch and it’s time for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I enjoy seasonal delights and baking.  I start eating more, more treats and since it’s colder I wear baggier clothes.  My training is more of a bulking phase.  I generally gain about 7-10 pounds and continue this from early November until the end of February.  I am like a happy bear hibernating.

Come the first of March, the weather is warming and I find underneath those baggy sweats is a bigger booty and a few rolls in the front.  Not ghastly but enough to not want to appear in a bikini.  Time for spring leaning.  I change my diet slightly cutting back on fat intake and calories around 20%.  Voila, magically those 7-10 pounds melt away and by the time I head to the beach in May or June I feel good in my bikini.

Now summer is hot, my tastes have changed to the lighter side and I’m not wearing a lot of clothes.  There are many trips to the beach, vacations and other events that I like looking like I work out.  I eat clean 5-6 out of 7 days.  One-two days a week I allow myself some homemade ice cream or all the butter I want on my baked potato or a rich indulgence like creamy cheesy scalloped potatoes.  Usually on the weekend. Come Monday, right back at it.  My training remains consistent throughout the year. This allows me to maintain a reasonable weight throughout the summer and early fall.  Until the first sign of pumpkins and then the cycle repeats.

This is my balance.  This makes me happy, I sacrifice some at times but not so much or for so long that I have ill effects.  Take this and tailor it to you.  Do some soul searching on what will work in your life.  I do not drink but I like sweets.  If you prefer socializing with cocktails — make that your indulgence once a week or no more than 2. Remember nothing gets results better than the All In, super dedicated, super strict.  But that is not maintainable and for the majority of us only maintainable will yield success and happiness for the long term.

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Yes, I did the challenge this year and while my goals were different I achieved them.  I was in the middle of a bulking phase wanting to regain muscle lost following surgery.  I was more of a moderate this go round.  I didn’t indulge as much as usual but was not restrictive either.  I gained back some muscle, took off 1% body fat and learned that while I still hate running you must leave your comfort zone at times. And practice what you preach.