Friday, December 17, 2010

New Recipes! Hump Day ...

So it's hump day (Wednesday 12/15) and I am too lazy to marinate a complete new batch of lean turkey breasts thawing mildy in my already cramped refrigerator. I look in my pantry and find a pouch of Starkist albacore tuna (in water) and quickly started to brainstorm what I can quickly put together to call a "clean" lunch ....
This is what I came up with. Pouch tuna (18g protein and 0.5 g of fat, 0g saturated fat), 3 egg whites cooked, bed of lettuce, 1 tbsp Hellman's light mayo, dash of sea salt and ground pepper to taste. Mix all up on top of 1/4 or 1/2 cup of brown rice, cooked (already in a tupperware which I boiled the Sunday before) .... Surprisingly, it was yummy! You can also skip the brown rice and put all ingredients in a whole wheat tortilla wrap.
After this quick, clean and delicious meal, I suddenly had another burst of energy to cook some good ol' sweet potatoes.
Pre-heat oven at 375. Take 2lbs of peeled, chunk cut sweet potatoes, toss in 1tbsp of olive oil in a baking dish. Mix and coat potatoes. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden and tender. While baking, whisk 2 tbsp of light maple syrup in a bowl with 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice. After potatoes are done baking (first time), pour half of the syrup/juice over potatoes and coat. Return to oven for 10-15 minutes for additional baking. After second baking, mix in rest of syrup/juice. Serve. I usually eat about 7-8 chunks per sitting. Since I had my lunch right before, I ate 3 pieces and saved the rest!
Happy clean eating! :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Fitness Journey

I am April Chilcoat ... Mom, Wife, Daughter, Sister and Friend. Like many women (and men), I have struggled with weight loss management all my life. I have come to realization that I am not one of the "lucky" gals who can eat whatever she wants, in whatever portion and remain "skinny." "Skinny fat" is I believe the term. In all honesty, after learning all I have gained knowledge of, I don't want to be skinny nor do I classify it as "lucky." Let's do it the right way, ladies ....
Firsthand, I know how it feels to be the unpopular girl at school or the outsider. Growing up, I have been told it all, "You'd be pretty if you just lost weight ..." or "You know, you could stand to skip a meal or two... You are too dark, here use skin lightening soap as dark skin is ugly (serious)." Or that glaring stare from that one relative when I helped myself at the family parties (I mean I still have to eat to survive). Or when I boarded the school bus (and I happened to be the last pickup stop) and no one wanted to share their seat with me. And that one time some football jock shoved me up against the wall because I was too fat and "was in his way" (I never told my Dad either because of embarassment). Countless times I cried in the department store fitting rooms as nothing would fit, which by then I left dishearted and decided not to attend the party/event. Anyway ... What really gets me is damn it, I know I'm fat, but must you remind/ridicule me? .....
As an adult to take any verbal abuse on weight, sure I am an adult .. I can handle it. But as a child, it definitely had its traumatizing effects. I will admit .. I have tried it all: diet pills, binging, not eating, going vegetarian (which lasted all but one day), the cabbage diet soup (thank you Mother for trying to help, but wow cabbage sure had its effects, South Beach Diet, Atkins diet, etc.) - whatever fad was on television, hey, I'm sold (remember Suzanne Somers thighmaster?!?!) Sound familiar?
Summer of 2005, I decided to join Bally's - my first ever gym membership. I was out of college, working a real adult job and living at home with my parents ... so had a little bit of disposable income, why not invest in my health? There, I met my kickboxing instructor, who happened to be training for her first fitness pageant/competition. My first ever group class, I remember having the courage to participate in the first row. What do you know, my passion for group exercise classes had begun. I was a regular participant every Monday evening and also tried other classes such as hi-lo and kickboxing classes at other Bally gyms. Throughout the experience, I also was able to get to know my instructor and her fitness goals. I listened quite a bit (like an apprentice) and absorbed everything I could possibly absorb.
Then next thing led to another. We became good friends and she introduced me to Oxygen Magazine and the spirited world of figure, fitness and bikini pageants/competition. It's like Miss America ...but with muscles. She invited me to Cathy Savage's Camp ( to learn more about clean eating, exercise, confidence, discipline, preparing for a competition and the overall lifestyle of a fitness, figure and bikini gal. It was one of the most amazing camps I have ever participated in. Not only did I meet face to face inspiring (and super friendly) Oxygen models, but "real" women in the same shoes, trying to lose weight and change their lifestyles. I became an avid Oxygen reader and started to incorporate the "clean' eating lifestyle in my routine (Tosca Reno).
So .... what exactly is "clean" eating? Online it is: "all about consuming whole foods in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible." That means no processed foods or "fake" foods. Your McDonalds, Whataburger, KFC, white rice, soda, cake etc. All the foods basically that I ate way too frequently in my old lifestyle. Now, don't read it as if you can't eat a cheeseburger or enjoy a restaurant meal ever again. Life consists of our ability to gather with our family and friends in a nice atmosphere, accompanied with a great meal. I just call these "cheat" meals. My cheat meals usually take place on Saturday evenings when I am out with my husband at one of our favorite restaurants, or a special holiday like Thanksgiving, where I love, love, love the usual turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pies! (Yes, I am still a regular human being with cravings!). It is alright to eat these foods. It is all just how we discipline ourselves with moderation and frequency, while maintaining our fitness goals. After attending camp and incorporating clean eating and regular exercise, I reached my lowest weight at 128lbs in Spring 2006. During this time, I met my husband to be, Jason. What brought us together is our passion for exercise and fitness. To this day, after 4 years of marriage, he continues to remind me that what he fell in love with most is my motivation and efforts ... that whatever it is I want to achieve, he knows I will give it a shot. We happily married October 21, 2006 and I am delighted to say we still share the same intensity in our workouts (if not more) to this day. It truly makes a difference to have a partner who supports you in everything that you do (and remind you that it's okay if you slip up - there's always the next day!). Speaking of slip-ups here goes! ...
Summer of 2008 ...our first pregnancy, very exciting ...
However, day of labor (drumroll please ....), I weighed in at 210lbs - my heaviest. Aside the fact I was ecstatic to become a Mother, I did everything possibly wrong during the process. I stopped exercising, I ate process foods, ate at restaurants way too much and heck during my third trimester I allowed myself one banana split per day (total slip up see?) ... basically I lost track of my fitness goals. I bring this up as a reminder that we all have setbacks/slip ups, that we CAN rebound. Needless to say, I was not a very happy, fit Mom after he was born - I knew I could be better. When my son turned 14 months old, my husband and I decided to move back to Texas to be with family. There, I remember telling him that I need to get back in shape, not only for my own health, but our son's. The fact that I was in the best shape of my life back in 2006 ... to say that I have been there was enough to jumpstart my fitness goals once again. I want to be the best wife and mom for Jason and Alexander. It is never too late! Funny, my Oxygen magazine subscriptions still kept coming during those 14 months postpregnancy. I just didnt have the heart to open the plastic cover it came in ... I knew I would start crying or feel depress. After the move, I took all the magazines and started reading once again. I was so motivated I often read two at a time before bedtime. I was ready ...
I weighed 165 June of 2010 when I joined LA Fitness and now at 136 November 2010 - 5 months after. I am often asked how I do it. First, I truly believe it IS our eating habits that determine the results when it comes to getting fit. I exercise 5-6 times a week, balancing both cardio/weightlifting and pushing my son in his stroller in our hilly neighborhood. I hired a personal trainer to assist with my goal of getting lean, building muscle and receiving guidance around the weightroom. The key component I changed in my mindset (as I am sure you all have thought this at least once after leaving the gym): Okay, I've worked my butt off and burnt the calories ... Free pass now to have that cheeseburger/fries for lunch or to eat whatever I want! Is this you?!?! Well, it was me.. A lesson I have learned through clean eating is your diet and exercise HAVE to work/compliment each other. Yes, you exercised ... okay 5 steps forward .. you go home, eat bad or stop at Taco Bell ... 7 steps back. There is my answer to the often asked question, "how come I am not losing weight?" When I step out of the gym, my routine does not end there. Like for instance, a typical morning for me is my step aerobics class (1hr) and a 30 minute burn session with my trainer for weightlifting. I feel fantastic after a workout that I go home and continue my "duty" to my body. Instead of reaching for a Starbucks latte or worse not eat at all, I replenish my body with a vanilla whey protein shake blended with an ice cube .. 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 1 cup water, 1 tbsp of flaxseed, 1 tsp of honey and fresh fruits (strawberries, blueberries or bananas). Not only did you step forward 5, you continued stepping forward by eating clean. For lunch I may have ... 4oz. marinated chicken breast (or other lean proteins - see my list below), 1/2 cup of brown rice (or other complex carbs) with 1 cup of steamed zuchinni/squash (or other veggies) with a quarter slice of avocado (healthy fat), etc.
Then comes another workout (the next day) while continuing to eat clean = continuing to move forward. There is no secret to weightloss really. I have just adapted to a healthy lifestyle and changed my eating habits for good! Week after week, the scale went down as well as the inches. Every meal and workout counts. As Oxygen model Alicia Marie would put it: "Food is fuel for our body, like gas is to a car. The better grade and quality of gas you put in your car, the better and longer it will run." Well, the same can be said about our bodies. We must think of our bodies as a Lamborghini or Aston Martin - we must give it our best to keep it running.
My goals? Lean, fit and energy! And in turn, my energy is focused on my family and being the best role model I can possibly be for my son, Alexander. I am fortunate enought to be able to work remotely from home as a tax accountant, which requires me to sit for hours of time. But working from home, I definitely don't have the excuse of not eating clean as my kitchen is readily available. This is a good time to probably say, "Well, I dont work remote, April and I dont have time to cook." My response is I have worked in a large accounting firm myself and I can tell you that it IS possible. For example, I cooked my meals on Sunday and tupperwared for the week. During the weekdays, I packed my cooler with my foods and worked out right after work. There are numerous Oxygen Moms and fit moms who can share how they balance it all. Being a Mom (or Dad) is hardwork, probably the hardest job of all. With all that hardwork, you DESERVE time for yourself to re-charge. You DESERVE to have the time to exercise and eat right.
Other benefits of a clean lifestyle of course included re-visiting clothes I have not worn/seen in years and renewed energy to chase my toddler around! ... I have also noticed that I am getting stronger in my workouts as my body has the nutrients it needs to perform at my very best. The benefits are endless!

I want to also add that surrounding yourself with positive individuals also helps. I have a wonderful and supportive family and friends who have been with me throughout my journey. Friends who have loved me at 210 and at 128, but along the way ... I have also dropped negative friends and family who I know had no interests in helping me, but just continue to ridicule me. Instead of hating the negative people that has hurt me in one way or another, all I have to say is many, many THANKS for empowering me! I use this energy to fuel my mind, my strength and to continue striving to be the best that I can be.

2011 will be a fabulous year! Not only will I be turning 30 :) - but I have made the promise to my body to take care of it and to continue sharing my journey with others who CAN do it. And I know you all CAN do it. I am here to help. I look forward to getting to know more of my friends and making new friendships along the road. I am so excited that my husband, parents, brothers and son have all adapted to a clean and healthy lifestyle! My parents are now eating oatmeal every morning and have switched to brown rice! Mom works out at her gym and attends regularly the same classes I do at LA Fitness - GO MOM!!

.... Well, my journey doesnt stop here, I feel my life has only begun. Everyday I wake up blessed and grateful to have what I have in life, including the knowledge of eating clean and possessing the energy to remain active .. Who knows ... maybe one day, I will achieve my dream of getting on stage and competing in a figure/fitness competition :) .....

Thanks everyone for listening! Cheers, April A Few Sample Staples

Pre-workout shake: 1 cup of skim milk 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein (MaxMuscle MaxPro in Vanilla Flavor) 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed (365 Organic Ground Flaxseed - Whole Foods) 1/2 banana 1 ice cube Lean Protein (serving size 4oz): Chicken breasts Turkey breasts (Honeysuckle All Natural White) Ground turkey Flank steak Tilapia Salmon Marinades: For my turkey breasts, one marinade: 1/4 cup lemon juice 3 tbsp. olive oil 1/4 tsp. garlic powder 1/2 tbsp. dried rosemary Another marinade: Juice of 1/2 to1 lime 1 tbsp. olive oil 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated 1 clove garlic, crushed Good carbs: brown rice oatmeal whole wheat wraps whole wheat pasta whole wheat breads fruits and vegetables I suggest reading Clean Eating or Oxygen Magazines for more recipes. I am still learning and my recipe list increases after more reading (and lots of experimenting). Favorite cheat "meals": Shrimp Portofino (Macaroni Grill) Ribeye (Outback Steakhouse) Filipino food! Mexican food (Gloria's and Uncle Julio's) Belgian waffle Pizza (Domino's) Burger/fries/shake Starbucks I stress "meals" not to confuse with cheat "days." I eat clean all day and only cheat ONE meal. Check out other posts for more recipes ;)