ridelightinthesaddle

Encouraging friends to be their best by building healthier lifestyle habits <3

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.

Well, the New Year is a few weeks old already and life is finding a routine again. It feels good, doesn’t it? The excitement of celebrating with family and friends is soo fun with the treats of special activities and our favorite foods. But, it can be EXHAUSTING! I don’t know ’bout ya’ll, but I’m glad to find some predictability in my day.
Every day is busy enough so I like when I know what to expect. That’s why I want to encourage you to find comfort in a healthy eating routine. The surprise of an un-expected treat is fun now and then but nothing is better than knowing what works for you. It takes out the guess work of “what should I eat now?” and leaves your mind free to concentrate on more important tasks. Now you’re developing the Habits of Health! If you know that you like cereal or a shake for breakfast, you don’t have to think about it. You know it works for you and your day is under way. As you follow the 5/1 plan not only do you know that you are on your way to a healthier weight, but you feel the benefits today! I guess that’s why I’m ready to move on after feeling “weighed down” from those extra goodies and get back to an energetic, active day!

Sometimes, it’s nice to fall back on an ole’ favorite for dinner. Here’s one that has been around a while! I always get a “Yeah! My favorite!” when this is on the table 🙂

Classic Lemon-Caper Chicken
10 chicken thighs
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (bottled if lemons aren’t handy)
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary
1 1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 lemon, cut into 12 chunks(optional)
3 Tbsp small brined capers
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
course salt
1) Pre-heat oven to 425. Place chicken in non-reactive container, Add lemon juice,rosemary and pepper. Turn to coat. Add lemon chunks. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 20 minutes.
2) Heat cast iron grill pan til very hot. Rub with oil. Remove chicken from marinade and season with salt. Grill skin side up til clearly marked (about 3 minutes) and turn to cook skin side til brown and crisp. Char lemon chunks along side.
3) Transfer to oven and bake until juices run clear and thermometer reads 170.(20-25 minutes) Sprinkle with capers.

Easy and definitely yummy! Don’t forget to stay in touch this week! I’m always excited to hear your news!!

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Is obesity worth it?

People who are overweight or obese could gain ten years worth of health benefits by simply losing 20 pounds. Modest weight loss (average 14 lbs) reduced the risk of individuals developing Type 2 diabetes by 58%. Weight loss of just 10% of a person’s body weight has been shown to have long-term impact on sleep apnea, hypertension, quality of life, and to slow the decline in mobility that occurs as people age.
American Psychological Association, July 2012 .

Wow, doesn’t that sound like even a little effort is well worth it? When you compare debilitating disease or even just feeling less than great, (Dr. A calls it “not sick”) to small changes in your daily habits that translates to weight loss, the question becomes “WHY NOT?”
The key word is simply. Today’s culture with it’s crazy schedules and bombardment of junk food make healthy choices anything but simple. It takes a strong desire to want more for yourself than settling for less. It’s easier to just get through the day with convenience enhancing choices so we can move on to the next task, until one day your body says “NO MORE!” and you’re forced to deal with those daily habits of the past. I say….”NO WAY!” Make your health the priority now and not only enjoy the benefits today but for life!
Besides, the above mentioned conditions really don’t sound like any fun, especially when compared to a zumba class today 😀 chachacha
Stop by for dinner tonight! This is what will be on our table..

Pork Tenderloin with Pan Sauce
1⁄2 cups olive oil
1⁄3 cup soy sauce
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp dry mustard
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1-lb. pork tenderloin (silver skin removed)

1)Combine all marinade ingredients and reserve 2-3 Tbsp. Place the pork tenderloin and marinade in a Ziplock bag and let marinate for at least 3-4 hours.
2)Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a hot skillet over medium-high heat, sear each side of tenderloin for 2-3 minutes. Place in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until the meat has reached 160 degrees. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
3)Pan Sauce:
Pan scrapings from pork tenderloin
1/2 cup of chicken broth
2-3 tbsp of pork marinade (thoroughly mixed)
Meanwhile, place the skillet back on the stove over medium heat. Add the chicken broth and scrape up all the browned pieces from the bottom of the pan.
4)Add the marinade and let it boil down for 2-3 minutes. Pour over the pork tenderloin

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Natural Born Grazers

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Watching our horses spending leisure hours with their heads down working on mowing the grass you could assume that eating is the afternoon’s entertainment as they relax. But, you would be over-looking the importance of how they are designed to consume needed calories a little at a time throughout the day.
We are natural born grazers by design as well!! Have you ever thought and wondered why you feel the compulsion to want to eat something every few hours? We are meant to spend our hours gathering food. The trick of course is what you find to eat! A balance of muscle building proteins and energy producing carbs is a must for perfect metabolism. It’s when your basket is full of refined sugars or overloaded with starchy, fatty foods that things go wrong for your body. The confusion created sends the message that you NEED those blood sugar spikers to make up for the crash from those empty calories.
So, give in to that craving to snack!! Have a plan in place so that you don’t miss those important fuel breaks especially before a ride or performance when you need to be at your best. A nutritionally pumped body will be sharp and focused giving you the advantage instead of dragging from hunger or “sugar gritters”. Your Medifast meal replacements are so portable, they are perfect to stash in your purse,car,desk drawer or boot bag! No excuses that you didn’t have anything handy to eat. They also provide that perfect balance of nutrition making the choice easier. It’s a critical element in why the 5/1 plan is so effective. Eat every few hours AND lose weight!
BE smart! Plan ahead!
Now, for a little something to snack on to keep that fat-burning machine strong and full of energy
Chocolate Chai Fudge
1 packet Medifast Hot Cocoa or Brownie (1 Meal)
1 packet Medifast Chai Latte (1 Meal)
4 TB Water
1) Mix packets & water together in a bowl. Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper.
2) This makes 8 1 TB fudge drops. Freeze for about 30-60 minutes.
2 servings with 1 Meal per serving (4 drops is 1 serving) so, 4 now. 4 later.

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How to Overcome Emotional Eating

Below are some thoughts shared from our behavioral specialist that I thought were excellant and worth sharing. We all succeed when we work together 🙂

 It can certainly be very difficult to make changes in our eating habits when we have long work hours, financial strains, and other distressing things going on in our lives that conflict with our ability to care for ourselves… I mean who has time for self-care?! Food can certainly fill that role. When we experience stressful events or negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, emptiness and sadness food can bring us comfort. I mean, they don’t call it “comfort food” for nothing do they?! Food helps us feel better (temporarily) if we are feeling stressed or upset or tired. Because food can make us feel better it is really easy to develop the habit of seeking food to improve our moods. Over time, as neural pathways link the change in mood with the experience of eating food, the association grows stronger. Past sensory emotional associations with food stored in our brains are called “mental ghosts.” Environmental cues (like being home after work) and emotional triggers (like stress and feeling tired) drive eating by stimulating our “mental ghosts.” When they’re triggered they bring forth our expectation that food will bring us pleasure and/or relief from distress; when we expect something to bring us pleasure and/or relief from distress, that expectation actually amplifies the rewarding value of food. Expectation then drives our action and the pursuit of food. Then the food makes us feel better which only strengthens the association of a change in mood with the experience of eating food. This is what we call a “vicious cycle.” Now, there is absolutely something we can do to change this cycle however there isn’t really much we can do to stop this vicious cycle dead in its tracks. This is because this habit has developed over many years and will therefore take patient and persistent action, over time, in order to change it. In fact, trying to stop this cycle is kind of like trying to stop a runaway freight train. An impossible task that will only leave us frustrated, disappointed and completely flattened. Again, we can’t stop it dead in its track but we can change this habit over time. Here’s how you do it: The most effective method is a three-pronged approach including Critical Perceptual Shift, Healthy Competing Behaviors and Planned Responses. Let’s go through each, one-by one.

First, Critical Perceptual Shift is when we change our emotional appraisal of food. As I said before we have an expectation that “food brings me pleasure and/or relief from distress.” In order to have success in changing we will need to change this expectation. Think of this as “retraining your brain” to think in a different way. We need to flip these expectations on their head by drawing towards what you want and pushing away from what is no longer desirable. Develop a statement that draws you towards healthy eating habits. Something like “I feel great when I choose a healthy way to cope with my emotions!” Next, develop a statement that pushes away from using food as a coping mechanism. Something like “Eating to comfort myself actually makes me feel more miserable.” Again, we are trying to “retrain the brain” to formulate new expectations and thought patterns. Every day, read your new expectations to yourself over and over again as many times as you can until you begin to truly believe these statement. This process is called counterconditioning.

Next, Healthy Competing Behaviors are going to be those healthy coping skills and enjoyable activities that will replace food. You see, if this all comes down to seeking pleasure and/or relief from emotional distress then we will need to find alternative activities that accomplish this! My suggestion is to develop a “Menu” that lists any pleasurable activities that you can think of and any comforting activities that you can think of. This way you will have a list of options that you can use to obtain pleasure and/or relief from emotional distress. Right now you might feel like food is your only option to make yourself feel good. You can help this by brainstorming a list of other possible ways that you can experience pleasure and relief from emotional distress. Then you can look at his “Menu” and decide what would be the best options for you to try in place of food. Some examples of “Comfort Menu” items include: Deep Breathing, Meditation, Positive Imagery, Squeezing a Stress Ball, Giving Yourself a Hand Massage, Make a Stress Free Zone to Relax Within, Spend Time Outdoors in the Sun, Stretch, Take a Quick Walk, Listen to Your Favorite Song, Write Your Emotions Down, Light Scented Candles, Smell Citrus or Coffee, Talk to a Friend or Cuddle with a Pet. Identify as many options as you can and choose what makes the most sense to you.

Finally, Planned Responses means having a set of rules designed to de-condition habitual responses to food. The shift from wanting to behave differently and actually doing so requires setting rules and practicing them until they become programmed behavior. A planned response should include the “cue” that sets off the emotional desire for food, the “reward” that food would provide, and a new “routine” that will change the automatic response. You can use the items on your “Comfort Menu” to fill in as the new routine. This should look like this: “When [identify the cue], I will [identify the new routine] because it provides me with [identify the reward].” Here’s an example: “When I feel stressed, I will take a walk because it provides me with a sense of calm and peace of mind.” Whereas the old automatic response would be to eat when feeling stressed, the new routine would be to take a walk. This planned response is a guideline for you to follow. Write it down. Read it. Practice it. You may not be able to do it every time but that doesn’t matter. We are going for progress, not perfection. Change is a process, not an event. As long as you pay attention to this new planned response, think about it, try to do it and continue to practice it… then this new routine will eventually become your new automatic response!

If you are able to create a Critical Perceptual Shift, a list of Healthy Competing Behaviors, and Planned Responses incorporating those new pleasurable and comforting activities you will experience two pretty incredible things. First, you will change your automatic responses which will increase your ability to resist cues (like emotional distress) to eat. This success will then breed more and more success. Second, the intensity of your desires for comfort food will begin to diminish and you will be able to find other things just as or even more rewarding than food was in the past. As  said before, none of these things will stop that vicious cycle dead in its tracks but if you practice these things, over and over, until they become programmed behavior then you will have changed this habit! Remember to focus on making changes in your habits in order to get the weight loss results that you desire.

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Why wait another day?

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Now, in the second month of the new year is when it really hits the pavement! Everyone is doing great at building those healthier habits for sustainable results! Measurable progress large and small, we can now see what is truly possible. Let’s face it, to be in this for the long haul (your life time) takes determination. It’s more important than ever to be strong in yourself. Believe that you can reach your goals…trust yourself to not give up…work hard to take good care of your body so that it will be there to work hard for you. It’s easy to lay blame at your own feet for past failures, forget it!! Failure only happens when you give up!
I am so proud of my friends who have made up their minds that they can live the healthy life that they deserve and anything else is unacceptable. The effort is worth it, why wait another day?
If you are still living for the day when you will finally get to work towards that healthy body that you’ve always wanted….I encourage you to make that day today. It’s the ONLY way to make the first day yesterday!!

We had this for dinner one night last week. I like how cooking the noodles first gives them a crunchy texture 🙂 ENJOY! You’ve worked too hard to not live it up!

Spaghetti Squash Casserole
4 cups spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded
8oz part skim ricotta
8oz reduced fat mozzarella cheese, divided
2 Tbsp egg beaters
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups Italian diced tomatoes, divided
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tsp olive oil
5 oz ground turkey, browned and seasoned to taste.

1) Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and saute squash “noodles” for a few minutes until they begin to brown. Add garlic powder, salt and pepper.
2) Mix ricotta cheese, Parmesan, egg beaters and 4 oz of mozzarella cheese together.
3) Puree diced tomatoes.
4) Preheat oven to 375. Pour half of the puree in the bottom of a 9×9 casserole dish. Add squash. Top with ricotta mixture, then cooked ground turkey. Spread the rest of tomato puree over the meat.
5) Bake for 35 minutes. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and bake additional 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
4 servings of 1 lean, 3 greens, 1/2 fat and less than 1 condiment.

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