Saturday, July 30, 2011

10 Tips to Help You or a Loved One Loose Weight. (The Stuff You Pay a Trainer For!)

 All this talk about our obese children has been driving me nuts lately. So, here's the deal, for one post and one post only, I'm going to talk about it. As a Blue Collar household lets face it, means we're at the bottom end of the money spectrum and it's so much cheaper to go to the store and buy a couple of Totino's pizza for 99 cents and feed four kids, then it is to buy spinach, pasta, pasta sauce, and some ground turkey. Not to mention that there is always a taste issue with healthier foods. Some people will even say that they are eating pretty good and still their family is big! Well, I'm going to address some of these issues right now. So, bear with me.

Alright, as a self confessed “Fatty” you would assume that I know the least bit of information on food and how it works for your body. As a farm girl from the Midwest, you would think that I would always spout love of a good steak, potatoes and we can't forget good old corn. (I'm a Cornhusker, so corn has to be mentioned!)

All that aside what most of you don't know, well most of my friends don't even know was that I used to big into training. I haven't done it about 2 years now but, at one point the gym trainer wanted me to get into personal training, even though I wasn't near a size 6 yet. I had considered it too. Life took over and I just never got back into it. Now 2+ years and a LOT of stress and excuses later, I'm the biggest I've ever been in my entire life. In the last two months though, I've dropped a CRAZY amount of weight. Not by some fancy new exercise craze or some terribly extreme diet but, by some of the simple information I'm going to pass on to you.

I get to sound all preachy now but, weight should come off from two things, your food choices and good old honest exercise. I know, I hate that as much as you do, in fact I would've rather spent hours at the gym doing 100+ lbs leg extensions than do 20 minutes of cardio but, unfortunately that's not quite how it works. :)

1) Here are some things that are important to remember when you're considering a new lifestyle change, like diet and exercise. One, it doesn't matter if you're 400lbs or more, you have more muscle in your body than a “Skinny” person does! It's true, and you've used every bit of it too. Second thing, the more muscle you have, the more you can burn off during any exertion. That doesn't mean though that you should start weight lifting right out of the gate! It means that you need a balance of sweat and muscle to do any real changes to your body.

2)  I know we all can't afford organic or even healthier foods but, there are ways around this. One, is to splurge a little and take a really good multivitamin, and multimineral. In this day and age, we all get around the vitamin aisle but, we forget about minerals. Those are just as important to your body as anything else.

3) If you can't afford to go to a Whole Foods, then shop the outside edge of your local supermarket. If you think of your supermarket, it's usually fruits and veggies, protein (meat), and dairy. These are some great staples to a healthy diet that will yield results if you can stick with it. If you must shop in the aisles, it is usually healthier to shop the top of the shelves or the bottom! Don't believe me? Go look in your cereal aisle for example, most (not all) cereals on the top shelf are healthier than those eye level! Next time you walk around, take a look, you'll start to see it!

4) Probably the most important to getting healthier is to monitor what you eat. I don't mean making a mental note either. I mean a food diary. You don't have to share it with anyone, just keep it for yourself. It is incredible what you will see when you mark down everything you've eaten or drank. It can be enough to change your entire way of eating alone! My Trainer Bob, has one online as well as some great resources and support online as well as his free workouts every day or so.

5) I think for those of us who are severely overweight or obese, this is the key in and of itself. DON'T EVER use the word “diet”. If you want to change and keep the change, you must look at it as a lifestyle. It doesn't mean you can't ever have those mashed potatoes, it simply means that when you're ready, you can have ¼ – ½ cp of those potatoes. Seems insane now but, trust me, it will be no big whoop later on!

6) Get familiar with your products and their alternatives. What I mean by this is, for example, one of my fav “fast meals” before was Healthy Choice TV Dinners. As a mother of two on the go boys, this was a perfect set up so that I wouldn't be tempted to eat that candy bar left over from Halloween in the back of the cabinet! Healthy Choice has a wide selection but, here's the kicker that I had never really noticed before, there are two sizes. One large and one small. We never really pay attention to this when shopping, we just grab. Start grabbing the small ones and make sure to start paying attention to the sodium, the fat, the protein, fiber and sugar in each meal. Obviously the main thing is calories. That old saying calories in has to be less than calories out to loose weight is true. Yet, if you keep an eye on the things like sodium, protein, etc. you can ensure that the calories you do get are good calories.
Another good example, pop tarts. Did you know that two of the “whole grain” brown sugar and cinnamon pop tarts has 400 calories?!?! Who would have ever thought something so little could have so much in them? My advice, on your day off, prepare all your meals for the week. If it's already there and just needs to be pulled out and reheated. You are more likely to stay on track. 
P.S. Don't drastically cut your calories either! Your body will go into starvation mode and will actually hold onto your weight. Never eat less than about 1500 calories a day if you are not extremely active. If you are extremely active you may actually need to eat more calories! So, just keep that in mind when you are pondering calories.

7) Get educated. I'm sure you're shaking your head, unsure what I mean but, start buying books on food. For example, The End of Overeating – Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David A Kessler, MD or Mindless Eating – Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink., Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. All very eye opening books. Not willing to go that radical? Then even go out and by those Eat This Not That books! In the backs of those books, he even gives you recipes for a better, healthier food. Read anything that gets you thinking and you might just learn that the reason that you or someone else you care for is so big, it really can be out of their control. They have to know to do something about it.

8) Lead by example. If you're eating an open bag of chips for breakfast, your children will eventually mimic this behavior. So, alright we're not all into brussel sprouts, I confess I'm a hit and miss kind of girl with them myself. That's alright, find the veggies you truly love and make sure that your kids see you eating them at least once or twice a day. Work your way up to 3 – 5 times.

9) Here comes the silly advice. :) Not all of us are blessed to be able to afford gyms or time for the gym and truth is a lot of America is so out of shape we'd almost kill ourselves in a gym. I say out of shape by the way because it is quite possible to be overweight and in better shape than a skinnier cousin, sister or neighbor! Anyway, ready for the silly, get up and move. Now, this is a duh statement but, I meant start small and while doing other tasks around the house. Remember the Buns of Steel lady always talking about doing bum squeezes while sitting down? It's kind of the same thing. Waiting that 30-40 seconds for that thing in the microwave? Do push ups off of the wall. Doing dishes by hand burns more calories than the dishwasher! Lol So, do dishes and push up and down on the balls of your feet to work your calves. If dishes is just not going to happen, then when you load and unload the dishwasher, do squats on the way down and work the calves on the way up. Sitting at your desk do leg extensions if you've got the room. Vary the space between your legs, whether or not you point your toes, how high, how long you lift them, etc. My favorite thing to do, pick up your toddler or wee one (if they let you) and dance around the room! It doesn't have to be something fast either, even a slow dance. Picking up that extra weight and giving it a go will remind you of what you don't want to put on!

10) Lastly, a kind of secret to the movement thing I mention above. If you truly want to challenge your body or have hit a plateau it's most likely because of one thing. Your body has caught on. Your body is an extremely smart piece of machinery, it knows what you expect from it and will eventually plateau out. Your job then is to keep it on it's toes. By this I mean after 3 weeks or 3 months of doing the same workout video or training sequence, your body quits building new muscle, it adjusts to only needing so many calories and will begin to just sit there. So, the best piece of advice that I ever got, was to keep changing your routine. Keep your body confused as to what you're doing. Trust me, MMA training is HARD and the only way you get in shape is to keep pushing your body. Each workout still hurts, there is no getting used to a workout. You are pushed to your limits each time. If you ever look at those athletes, and yes they are athletes, they are the real deal. This is how they do it.

These are the simple tricks that my trainer taught me, that when I was actively training and working on some MMA moves I learned and they worked too! Now, having imparted some of the vast amounts of fitness wisdom out there. Again, I share these not from a fitness guru standpoint but, as someone who has been there fit and good and then really let myself go and working my way back up. I've lost 40+ lbs (and not of muscle) in the last two and a half months. To prove that what I say works, I am BRAVELY going to post two pics. :S One taken a couple months back and one taken just last week.  No laughing, well you may chuckle silently if you need to! :P 


I've still got about 35 more lbs before I am at what my starting training weight was and then there is working my way back down but, keep in mind, I am NOT training right now. This was done in two months without extreme dieting, with doing the 10 tips I just gave you!

Alright, I am done being all preachy now. :P Hope you can forgive me this once. I will now go back to your regularly scheduled Blue Collar Way. :) I hope for those out there that need it, this helps you in some small way.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tomato, Cucumber and Onion Salad

So, things are a little crazy around here. Trying to do too many things at once and it can make your head spin. I needed a meal that was light, fast and delicious for dinner. Though the heat indexes have lowered here, it's still plum hot out! So whatever I made also was not going to be hot, warm or anything close! :) This meal, true to the Blue Collar way is extremely inexpensive as well and believe it or not healthy....I know don't die of shock! :)

I walked around the kitchen looking for ideas and came across what was left from my Farmer's Market run and noted the poor cucumbers and tomatoes that the toddler had gotten a hold of and decided where play toys. I knew I had to use them quickly.

It is important to note that I have not fully gone Vegan myself so, one of my ingredients was not Vegan friendly but, I do know you can buy the Vegan alternative. :) Or you could always eat this plain as is. Well, if you don't plan on smoochy your sweetie anytime soon! :D

Tomato, Cucumber and Onion Summer Salad

At least 2 sm. cumbers
At least 2 med tomatoes
1/4 - 1/2 red onion
1 - 2 cloves of garlic
1/4 - 1/2 cp of mayo, miracle whip or Vegan mayo
salt and pepper to taste

Yes, I know I forgot the onions and garlic in the pic, my son ran off with his plate and got ketchup everywhere! :S Needless to say, it's been one of those days and my head just wasn't with me!

Anyway, it's pretty simple. You can add or lessen how many cucumbers, tomato and how much onion you use based on how many people you plan to feed. I used about 1 1/2 cucumbers, 2 med tomatoes and about 1/4 of a red onion.

Dice your onion and garlic cloves. Slice your cucumbers. You can do it in the pretty spa like circles or do like I did and cut them in half. Cut your tomatoes into chunks. Throw them all into a bowl together. Now, I salt and pepper at this point because I was taught to season your layers as you go. You don't have to, it's personal choice. Again, at this point, you can give it a go raw if you want.

Throw in your mayo, miracle whip or Vegan mayo and mix it up. Be careful to NOT mangle your tomatoes. The first time I did this years ago....I may or may not have had a little bit of a Tomato, Cucumber, and Onion soup! :D Once it's well coated, you can season with salt and pepper again.

Put it into the fridge until you're ready to eat. The whole thing takes about 15 minutes! How wonderful is that?!

*Another note here, my momma raised me to put dill in it! I didn't have any dill on hand though but, it's a nice addition to the meal.

Hope you enjoy this quick, easy meal!

Update: A couple of quick new notes. One cherry tomatoes are great in here as opposed to full sized one. They retain their shape a bit better and less risk of soup being made! :P Also you could add olives and red and/or green peppers in here too. I made it these ways as well the last few weeks and it still went over extremely well!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yellow Squash Spaghetti, a fast, easy, light meal for these unbearable days!

Sorry for such a late post peeps but, I've had a really bad morning and am on auto-pilot right now but, realized that I'd forgotten to post this week.

Since it's a billion degrees outside no one wants to cook or bake in this! I took my fresh veggies that I got from the local farmers market

and some leftovers and made the boys' a quick lunch. It was less than 10 total minutes, it was healthy and lite on a hot day. Proof that even on a horrible day, a stressful day or one that is just plain scorching, you can do it in no time flat! :)

Yellow Squash Spaghetti
1 yellow squash
small jar of leftover spaghetti or pizza sauce
*this usually serves just one

First thing I did was take my yellow squash and give it a good wash to get all the dirt and stuff off of it.

Then I diced a clove or two of garlic. Sauteed  them in a pan with a small amount of olive oil. Then added the pizza or spaghetti sauce and while that was coming to a simmer.

I used my potato peeler and thinly peel pieces of the squash all the way around. You do this over and over and over again until you get close to the core of seeds. You'll be left with a row of what looks like long, flat noodles.

Then in another pan with a little bit of olive oil spray and some salt. I sauteed them in a skillet for just a few minutes. Literally on a few minutes. How long you cook them depends on how crunchy you want your noodle to be. I do it for no more than 3 - 4 minutes.

Once they are warmed through the way that you would like them. Simply plate and add your sauce! Normally I would've made my own sauce but, they were hungry and was exhausted. You can even top with some Parmesan, or any other cheese you want. My boys of course used Daiya cheese. 

Again, not the prettiest pic but, they were chomping at the bit! :D

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Potter Party!

So, if you're a closet Potter fan or openly celebrating, everyone is counting down for the upcoming festivities. Either our kiddos or ourselves have a vested interest so, since I am a HUGE closet Potter fan and my nephew and I have a standing movie date, sadly the last one, I wanted to share my Potter party ideas I found all over the net!

First off my favorite find, is chock full of printables to decorate for your Potter Party. Just Sweet and Simple has these great free and gorgeous printables for your food and to decorate with!
She is also kind enough to send you to another great site for food, that many other Potter Party partakers have also consulted, myself included. has these really cute ideas for recipes that go with the printable signs you will have previously picked up. They also add to the melting pot of ideas by giving you ideas  for decorating too!

Hostess with the Mostess has two pages full of ideas  and gladly shares them with you! Page 1 and Page 2.

I had to throw this in because A) It's just too cute of a name, B) It's healthy and C) I LOVE garlic!! :) Nomnomnom! has these really cute Dementor's Kiss Bread Twist that you have to try! If nothing else, it's something yummy for the adults!

Hopping on the Potter Party train, Kris also has Mrs. Weasley's Easy as Magic Fudge. Excuse the drool as I write this! :)

Looking for a fun craft for the young Potter fans to do? Jane's Reading Room, has not only a tutorial on how to make a golden snitch but, at the very bottom of the page, she has an original and adorable idea on how to make a personal owl  invite!

Two bloggers that quite literally went all out are A Blog of Two Witches and  My Harry Potter Party. I am not joking either! Here are some pics so you can see!
These two were from the Harry Potter Party Blog and the next is from a photobucket album of the other Potter Party at A Blog of Two Witches.

Another great resource a friend sent me was from of all places! Here is the link that will take you to everything Potter!

Lastly but, most certainly not least, is cupcakes from Once Upon a Cupcake. How adorable are these?!

I had another link to THE most amazing Harry Potter invites but, sadly I've lost it. Y'all know I love free things but, they were worth the $5 at Etsy to get. If I find the owl invites, I will add them on here.

I hope these have inspired and maybe got your Potter excitement going! It's the last movie we should celebrate the memories and fun that the series has given us!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pizza Muffins

"Manly Monday" is here and while I haven't had a whole lot of time to post regularly, I have vowed to get one in today! :)

A friend of mine who always writes to me for advice, was telling me how no one knows how to cook anymore. Other than shoving something in the microwave or making some rather lavish meal with ingredients that you'll only use a few times or ingredients that us poor folk can't afford, people don't know how to cook ordinary, regular, use what you got on hand, food! She admitted to barely knowing how to boil water! :D Which made me laugh but, in honor of her realization. I'm using somethings I always have on hand at my house: cheese, pizza or spaghetti sauce and pizza dough mix.

I wanted to use the boys too! They were on outside mode, inside the house. Which when cooped up because the heat index is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the toddler doesn't sweat very well, who can blame them. Though my house will never be the same! :P So, I wanted to have them do something constructive rather than destructive. Together we came up with: Pizza Muffins. I know, I know, it's not original and neither is the idea but, the point is that they were involved and having fun and not only did I use what I had on hand but, it is the simplest of things to make! So, even peeps who burn water, should be able to do this with ease!

Now, pizza dough is different for everyone. We make ours from scratch sometimes, others we have a boxed dough on hand to make in a pinch. The Vegan Zombie has a great from scratch recipe here. Don't freak out if you're not Vegan, it's a normal, very yummy recipe. We didn't use that this time though, I cheated and used a boxed dough that already had oregano & basil in the mix. I made it and let it rise per directions and then got some frustration out by pounding it down. :P

Pizza Muffins
Dough mix, or homemade dough
Pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce
pepperoni (Vegan or regular) or whatever choice of meat you want
Veggies (are optional)

I rolled it out to about 1/4 inch or a bit thinner, because I know it would rise in the oven. Then used my fancy biscuit cutter to make small circular pieces of dough.
Yes, that is simply a small can turned upside down. :) It is really the perfect size for a biscuits! Anyway, I did this 12 times.

I laid them atop my muffin pan, like so.
It's making me hungry again! Anyway, then I spooned a bit of sauce on it gently pressed it down into the actual non stick or slightly greased/sprayed, muffin hole. Making sure to kind of stretch it so that the sides came up a bit. Now, keep in mind that the dough will rise in the oven so this is going to get HUGE! So, if you want little appetizer, cute sized ones, make sure your dough rolled out a bit thinner and smaller. If you want the big daddy Pizza Muffin, then by all means roll it out to that 1/4 in thickness and stretch the small pizza dough circles to reach the top of the muffin hole. You can be generous with the sauce too, don't be afraid to put a heaping spoonful in here. It may look like a lot but, it will sink into the muffin.

Once they all have your sauce on them and you've kind of mushed them down. Place your pepperonis, your veggies, your olives, or whatever you and your kiddos love into the middle of the muffin. I used Vegan pepperonis for half and Vegan pepperonis and mixed veggies, like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots for the other half. My youngest is a veggie-holic! :)

Not the nicest pic you'll ever see but, when working with kiddos, you go with the flow! :) Then you add your cheese, which for us was of course Daiya cheese (coming from the farm girl, you need to trust me when I say you'll never know it was Vegan cheese!)

I always give any open dough a quick wash. Whether you use eggs and water, or what. Always kind of coat that open dough, so it bakes up nice and golden brown. I just used a little olive oil (spray). You can even use the pizza sauce if you want. We popped ours into the oven per the directions for the pizza dough which was 400 degree F for about 10 minutes or so. I would recommend going by your crust directions as well, if it's denser, it's going to take a bit more time. If all your Pizza Muffins are huge again, give it more time. Just read your directions and bake them accordingly. Remove when they're nice and gold brown on the outer edges and the cheese is gooey and yummy looking. For the record, "gooey" and "yummy" are professional baking terms! :)

Notice the gross larger cookie pan underneath on the bottom there.....this is how a Blue Color mom cheats! I need to clean the oven or a new one is really what I need but, it not only stops the muffins from cooking faster on the bottom but, it also stops any spillover from soiling the oven. I know, you all are wondering how on earth I came up with that huh? I'm not sure, alien abduction maybe?! :P

Once golden brown and the cheese is melted. Remove and plate them up. I added extra cheese on top while they were still warm to bring it on home as my boys LOVE their cheese!
Again, a pretty simple trick all our mothers knew and you probably do too. If the crust is a bit harder than you like or you have a sensory kiddo who will only eat "soft things", then by all means break out some butter, margarine or whatever and kind of spread it along the outer edges while it's still warm. This will soften the "crunchy bits", as my son calls them.

Now, again, this whole meal was made Vegan style but, it is easily made to a "normal" Pizza Muffin for anyone. Let me tell you, this will fill you up too! The boys' half brother, couldn't even polish off 3 of these! He's a teenager, otherwise known as the endless, black hole of all food!!

As a side note, my toddler loves to have ketchup or some kind of sauce to dip things in so, I cut his muffins up and let him dip the pieces into some leftover pizza sauce. For some reason that's just how my boys roll. :)

They were delicious. Again, nothing you've probably never thought of but, the whole idea was to use what I had in my kitchen, get my boys involved and to make a meal that was filling, cheap and easy for anyone to do.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Still looking for last minute 4th of July ideas or food? Check out some of my favorites.

The last minute prep going on for today's holiday can be stressful, exciting and completely crazy! This year, luckily for me all my preparation is over already. I took the boys to the neighbors' party last night for a little bit, it was a mixed bag for the two of them but, I think they enjoyed it. So, today is just about parades and firework shows tonight. Which allows me to share with you some of my favorite things shared by great bloggers like Cheryl from Tidy Mom, Laurie from Tip Junkie, etc.

First up, was the neighborhood boys' favorite! The Patriotic Popsicle was a HUGE hit! 
In our household, any milk protein and strawberries are a big no no. So, instead, I used some soy ice cream. Slightly melted it, put it into molds and used raspberries and blueberries instead. Not a single boy out there and let me tell you this neighborhood only boasts 2 girls for the dozen plus boys in a 1 block radius, loved these and never noticed it was soy ice cream!

Next up, again an allergy, food intolerance friendly recipe, is Almost Vegan's Summer Berries and Vanilla Sweet Cream.

Again, food allergies prohibited us from using strawberries but, I just again substituted raspberries for strawberries. I even cheated though, and added this atop one of my son's special brand of pancakes I blogged about in a previous post. Which again was a hit amongst the boys of the neighborhood and even the adults were loving this.

Nomnomnom! blogged about a Gluten Free Shortcake with Berries and Coconut Cream. A rather yummy treat for everyone!
Again, I used raspberries in place of strawberries. Another thing, it called for margarine, I used Earth Balance, If you've not tried it, go get it! The best "butter" for Vegans and allergy/food intolerant people I've ever had!

Our Best Bites had some amazing food and printables ready for us too. I always do the pancakes for the boys like this but, their picture was MUCH prettier! :P Here is the link to check out all their great links and ideas!

Speaking of printables, holy fireworks Batman! Jen from Tatertots and Jello has us all covered!
She has EVERY single one I found on my own or through another person! Here is the link, to head over there and check out the dozen plus cute printable ideas she passed on. Still looking for red, white and blue food? Jen still has you covered! Here, is the link to her post for yummy looking festive food. I think I speak for thousand of her loyal followers when I say, Thank you Jen!! :)

Another great resource, was Cheryl's, I'm Lovin' It Wrap Up - 4th of July Ideas. There were some really cute ideas there, like the Patriotic Crunch!

I saw these passed on from Tip Junkie but, fell in love with them and had to pass them on myself!
How cute are these?! Click here to go get the printables and see the tutorial.

I could go on and on and on really. I don't want to make this so long that it takes more time to read it then you've got to squeak out a few extra projects, or yummy food! I hope that you find something worth while in what I've shared and that you and your families have a safe, happy holiday!