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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

HOW I LOST 120 POUNDS (PART 3): Food Tips, Recipes, & How My Family's Health Changed

Hi there!
Half of Gabby has moved to a new kickass website! 

Read this article, in it’s updated version, HERE.
 The page that you are on right now (www.halfofgabby.blogspot.com) is no longer posting new articles and information. Half of Gabby has moved to www.halfofgabby.com and will continue to post new material regularly! In addition, all older articles have been updated on the new site!


You can't lose weight without conquering all the different aspects of food. Healthy eating must be learned. There are so many pitfalls and misleading food facts out there. Learn what constitutes as a true healthy food and beware of food labels and false 'healthy' claims.

Today I am talking about healthy food tips! I will cover what food you should be buying, what food to order out at restaurants, and how to avoid misleading food labels. I start off the interview by giving some fitness tips on how to get the ENTIRE family involved in getting fit and healthy!

Don’t forget to check out all the healthy, yummy recipes. Delicious healthy food that you can feel good about eating and serving to your family!

Healthiness and happiness is just a few choices away! START TODAY!!!

Novelist Jillian Neal interviewed me and asked me fantastic questions about my experiences throughout my weight loss journey. The interview was published in four installments. Below you will find the third installment as it appears on Jillian's blog. You can find the original publication of this interview here.


All right today we're discussing healthy eating. It is one of the integral parts of weight loss, and Gabby is not only sharing her shopping tips and knowledge she's also sharing recipes!

1. I noticed in the pictures you shared with me that your husband appears to have slimmed down as well. Would you say that your entire family, your girls included, are healthier due to your weight loss and dramatic life change?

Absolutely. First and foremost, I don’t bring truckloads of junk food into the house anymore. Since I fill the house up with healthy foods and snacks, they have no choice but to eat healthier. Honestly, they didn’t skip a beat. My kids have always loved healthy foods and my husband has never been a foodie like me. He’ll eat whatever you put in front of him. The activity was the biggest change for everyone. We were used to being sedentary. We would always have family movie nights and family game nights but we’d never do anything that entailed moving. I had bought a couple workout DVDs for children. They focused on having fun and being active rather than actually ‘working out’. We started doing those as a family and everybody absolutely loved it! Our favorite is Shaun T's Fit Kids Club. Shaun T teaches you a bunch of fun, and often silly, dance moves. Oh my goodness, it is sooo fun! We laugh the whole way through it and the girls get a kick out of watching mommy and daddy do the silly moves. I recommend it highly. More than anything though, we just made a point to go outside more. We’d run around with the girls in the backyard or take them for a walk. We started playing Frisbee, bean bags, wiffle ball, soft ball, or do relay races. It was good for all of us. Not just in a healthy kind of way, but in our connections with each other. We became this fitness team. A lot of my defining moments happened during our family fit time. It’s amazing to see how much the mommy in the family can change the course for everybody. As the matriarchs, our emotions and actions will often set the tone for the household and have a powerful ripple effect down onto everyone. It was in this power that I realized just how important it was for me to keep forging ahead in my journey. I wanted my girls to grow up living healthy, happy, and confident lives and I wanted my husband to live a long healthy life by my side.

After I lost my weight, my husband and I started taking boxing and kickboxing classes at a combat gym. He didn’t want to but I made him anyway ;) I have always been enthralled with boxing even since I was a child. I told my husband before my weight loss that if I lost all of my weight, I wanted to learn how to box. And not just the boxy-dancy stuff. The real deal… at a real boxing gym. I don’t think he ever thought the day would actually come where I made the boxing pipe dream a reality. At the time he just nodded and said ’sure honey’. Well needless to say, after I lost the weight, I was still hell-bent on learning to box. The classes were grueling, but in the best possible way! Jay came to love it as much as I did. It was an incredible experience to do together. Something like we’ve never done before. We fell in love with it so much that we bought the girls their own boxing gear and started teaching them how to box. They of course don’t punch each other but we have taught them all the proper punches and kicks and they practice on the heavy bag or Jay and I will hold pads for them. I gotta tell ya, fast forward a couple years, and both my girls can pack a punch! I get the biggest kick out of watching them. They are so good at it! They both get this twinkle in their eyes when they are boxing. They feel so strong and invincible. It makes my heart soar to see them so sure of themselves.

I also have special things that I only do with my girls. It’s our Get Fit Girl Time. Our favorite is doing obstacle courses. I’ll set up an obstacle course where we have to zip from one station to the next. I use a timer and when the buzzer blows, off to the next station we go! Hop-scotch, jump rope, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and relays are some of the most popular stations. Our driveway is super long so that’s a favorite spot to do our obstacle courses. I think the neighbors think we’re nuts, lol. But man do we have fun! Another fun thing my girls and I love to do is Dance Party. We blare some music in the living room, get our fake microphones, and we start shaking our booties for all they’re worth. Before you know it, we’re all sweating and out of breath. But more than anything, we laugh. It’s time that none of us even sees as exercise, it’s just magical moments. Moments that I hope they never forget… I know I won’t.

2. I know as I began losing and began navigating my way through my weight loss I was infuriated by restaurant and food industry claims that certain things were “healthy” when they weren’t at all. Did you find this to be true? Any advice on how to handle misinformation?

Ugh. Yes, eating out can be tricky if you’re solely going by labels and descriptions. Restaurants will deem certain dishes ‘healthy’ or a ‘smart choice’ and in truth, they’re not. Similarly when shopping at the grocery stores, every item tries to have some kind of a healthy catchphrase. I live by one rule and one rule only and that is… I trust nothing. When I’m at a restaurant, I order my own custom meal. My husband teases me about it because sometimes the waitress’ eyes will glaze over because of all the questions I’m asking. But honestly, most people in the service industry are used to people changing their orders and asking about nutrition facts. I know one thing. I’m not going to ruin my whole day of hard work because I didn’t ask a few questions! No way, Jose. You can’t go wrong when ordering a plain baked chicken breast, broiled fish, or even a lean steak. You can ask them to hold the bread, steam your veggies, switch out white rice for plain brown rice or wild rice, or add a basic salad with dressing on the side. Always go with the vinaigrette dressing when possible. Even oil-based dressings like your basic Italian is better than the creamy dressings. And always have them on the side. You will always use less if you dip your fork into the top of the dressing rather than pour it all over everything. If you’re a seafood lover, there’s lots of healthy choices. Baked, broiled, steamed, or grilled fish, shrimp, scallops, lobster, and crab legs are all good choices. If you stay away from the butter, you’re golden. There’s always an option. Just make sure you are the one calling the shots.

In relation to the grocery store. When you’re contemplating buying something, it comes down to one thing. Ask yourself … Did a caveman eat this? To eat healthy is to eat REAL food. Food that is from natural ingredients. A whole food diet is truly the best way to eat. Other than your staple brown foods such as brown rice, brown pastas, oatmeal and other grains, you really shouldn’t be buying anything with a crinkly wrapper or in a box. I’m pretty sure cavemen weren’t eating Cheetos and Better Cheddars.

You should be buying the predominant amount of your food along the perimeter of the store. Grocery stores set up almost all of their perishable and whole foods along the outside walls of the store. All the junk lies in the middle (again save for your grains).

Be careful about being fooled into thinking you are making a healthy recipe when if fact you may not be. Many recipes will label themselves as 'healthy' yet they are loaded with unhealthy ingredients. Look for recipes that use lean meats, complex carbohydrates, plenty of fresh ingredients, and unprocessed ingredients. I saw a recipe not too long ago that claimed it had 'NO SUGAR' but when I looked at the ingredients, it called for chocolate chips, brown sugar, maple syrup (not pure maple syrup), and quick oats. No sugar? Last time I checked chocolate chips and maple syrup, and hello? brown sugar have tons of sugar in them. Just because they aren't 'table sugar' doesn't mean you get to say your recipe has 'NO SUGAR'. Also, quick oats are stripped of most of their healthy attributes. You should always stick with steel cut oats or old fashioned oats. When looking for healthier versions of desserts, look for recipes using natural sweeteners such stevia, organic raw honey, and agave nectar. I am a HUGE fan of stevia. I use it in all my baking as well as in my coffee and tea. It is one of the only all-natural sweeteners out there that does not illicit an insulin surge from the pancreas which makes it the perfect choice for a diabetic. So beware, just because it says it is healthy doesn't mean that it is.

If you turn a box over and don’t recognize some of the ingredients or it has more than 10 ingredients, it’s a safe bet it’s not healthy, no matter what load of bull they’re saying about it. Put it back on the shelf. It won’t help you lose weight and you don’t want this fake, harmful food making it’s way into your children’s tummies!

3. Where do you feel is a good place to find healthy recipes? What are a few of your favorites?

I am constantly looking for new yummy, healthy meals. My favorite way to find recipes is to search Pinterest. I have a Healthy Recipes Board that I am continuously pinning new healthy recipes to. I get a lot of fitness inspiration and new workouts from Pinterest as well. I also get a lot of recipes from the site Allrecipes.com. They have a healthy category. Other times, I will simply Google ‘healthy recipes’ and I always stumble onto a bunch of great sites with loads of recipes.

Some of my own recipes that I love and use constantly are:

     No Oil, No Sugar, No Flour!

     Each muffin has only 100 calories and 11 grams of protein!

     Each pizza is only 134 calories and has 18 grams of protein!

        CRACK SALSA (AKA Bean Salsa)
You will not believe how delicious, addictive, and healthy this salsa is until you try it! It is jam-packed with tons of protein and fiber. The original recipe calls for 1/2c table sugar, but I use 1/2c Baking Stevia instead and it tastes EXACTLY the same!!!

     Only 73 calories each!

Here are some recipes I have found on various sites that are really good!:

  Italian Sausage, White Bean, and Kale Soup (Crockpot)
 I use turkey sausage. This soup is out of this world delicious! My husband and little girls loved it too!

    Mexican Black Bean Pizzas
I go meatless for this recipe. The original recipe calls for pulled pork. These black bean pizzas are so yummy! They are so filling too.

    Banana Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
I eat this pudding most mornings for breakfast with my Banana Nut Blueberry Muffins. I do not use the blue agave nectar that is called for in this recipe. To sweeten the pudding, I simply add a packet of stevia after it sets. It does not taste like traditional pudding but it's close enough to trick me into thinking it is :) Chia Seeds are an amazing superfood with many health benefits!

    Vanilla Cinnamon Chia Seed Pudding
Here's another pudding I love to eat at breakfast. These chia puddings are so easy to make. I love cinnamon so I use double what's called for in this recipe. I also do not use honey. Again, I wait until the pudding sets and then sweeten with a packet of stevia.

I hope you try and enjoy some of these yummy recipes! Now go get healthy!!!

And don't forget to check out Jillian's 'The Gifted Realm' Series to add some adventure and spice to your life! All of her books are available in both paperback and Kindle versions.



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*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.



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