My BBM Journey: Day 1

Here we are, friends!! EEK! I am so excited to write my official Day 1 post. I woke up this morning with a runny nose and sore throat. OF COURSE I DID. I have a goal set, so of course the setback snowballs like to fly, but I powered through this morning’s workout and loved it. Sweat feels so good. Seriously, it does, you get addicted to it eventually to where it doesn’t feel like exercise unless you are drenched in sweat.

I’m even a little ahead of schedule, my runny nose made it hard to sleep, so I got up and got my day started early. Yay me! After this post I have at least 2 loads of laundry to do (3 would be even better) and the rest of my garden plants to make at home in the containers I purchased yesterday. I have sweet potatoes to add to my veggie arsenal and some flower seeds to get in the ground too. Then there is the normal mom stuff like meals to make and noses to wipe. (Yup, guess who also has runny noses?) So it will be a busy day here. What about you guys? How are you keeping busy today?

Here is the motivational photo of the day, enjoy!

020

 

 

My little man loves to help me exercise, and a whole gallon of water makes a super weight, but he's game. (I forgot to purchase dumbbells, so gallons of water are my weights right now.)

My little man loves to help me exercise, and a whole gallon of water makes a super weight, but he’s game. (I forgot to purchase dumbbells, so gallons of water are my weights right now.)

 

___________________________________________________________________________________

What is BBM?

Bikini Body Mommy, a movement led by Briana Christine, and you can find out more at http://www.bikinibodymommy.com

Did you miss my first post outlining my goals? Find it here.

https://natasiachampion.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/my-newest-project-an-overview/

Looking to find some inspiration on Pinterest? You can follow me there too.

To get my daily posts through the next 90 days in your inbox, hit the subscribe button at the top left of this page, right under my profile picture.

And finally, has this post delighted, inspired, or amused you? Feel free to share it with your friends.

My BBM Journey: Italian Zuccini Boats Recipe

So, the other day when I made the commitment to blog through my 90 day Bikini Body Mommy challenge ( http://www.bikinibodymommy.com ) starting on May 5th, I didn’t realize I would have the gumption to post so many “pre-posts”. Right now we are on a mini series, 4 weeks long, before the new challenge starts. It is awesome, great way to fill the time gap. Having finished my work out this morning and turned my attention to my hungry munchkins, I put together a really yummy lunch from an idea I got off of – yup, you guessed it, Pinterest. I’m telling you, if you have not gotten on there yet, you really should. It’s a great tool.

In fact, this dish was so yummy and so easy I just had to share. So here you go, enjoy! (Note: I do not claim to be creator of this dish, I simply got the idea from a picture on Pinterest and executed it the way I thought best.)

 

3 medium zuccinis

1/2 lb. ground beef

1 cup Classico fire roasted tomato and garlic pasta sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 Tablespoons fresh grated parmasean cheese

salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Begin browning the beef on low with a little salt and pepper. While it browns you can prepare the zuccinis. Cut off the ends and split each vegetable down the middle. Using a spoon, scoop out the seedy portion creating a hollow in each half. Slice a thin piece off the bottom so that each half will sit in an ungreased baking pan without tipping.

001

Generously salt and pepper each half and bake for 10 minutes at 400.

While the zuccinis are in the oven, drain the excess grease off your browned beef and add the sauce. Let it simmer until the zuccinis are done pre roasting. Divide the sauce between all 6 boats and top with cheese evenly. Continue to bake until the cheese bubbles and browns slightly, about 10 – 15 minutes.

006

Garnish with some fresh herbs if you like, chopped basil or parsley. (I used scallions because I didn’t have herbs.)

Prep time approx. 10 minutes

Cook time approx. 20 minutes

Calories per serving approx. 200

6 servings

015

Notes:

I used 80/20 ground beef, but you can absolutely use lean ground beef or ground turkey.

When salting the boats, make sure you use plenty. I like kosher salt, it is courser and easier to sprinkle, or course sea salt would be even better. Fresh vegetables can trick you, it takes more salt than you think to bring out the flavor, and I’m not someone who goes crazy on the salt.

These boats would also be delicious filled with a spinach and ricotta mixture, or use chopped portobello mushrooms instead of the beef for a vegetarian option.

 

My kids and hubby loved this too. Granted, my kids are freaks of nature and love vegetables, like LOVE them, especially my daughter, but I would say this is sure to be a family friendly dish and one to try on your picky eater.

Let me know how you liked it! And in case you want to see the great ideas I’ve been getting, you can follow me on Pinterest here.

Did you find this post inspiring? Share it with your friends, and feel free to sign up at the top of this page to get new posts in your inbox. My goal for the 90 day challenge is a post a day and I will be doing a lot of clean eating dishes and recipes like this.

Compliment Your Health Makeover With A Basic Container Garden

One of the biggest complaints for moms trying to make healthy lifestyle changes on a limited budget is that fresh produce is so expensive. And that is a legitimate complaint. Let’s face it, it is getting harder and harder to stretch that dollar without at least compromising nutritional content of the food we eat. Forget buying organic, a lot of us have trouble just buying fresh vegetables.

What would you say if I told you you could have fresh, organic produce every single day, in abundance, all summer and even most of the spring and fall for about what one trip to the grocery store’s produce section costs you? Ok, stop laughing! I’m not joking. It’s true. I too am a mom working on a limited budget, trying to get healthy for the long haul and help my family do the same. We are a one income family, which is an amazing blessing but also can be challenging. Let’s just say you learn to be creative.

As I’ve mentioned, we are doing an expanded container garden this year to help cut costs while providing ourselves with delicious organic produce. And if you have never so much as nurtured a houseplant, don’t sweat, it is incredibly easy and very affordable. I’m going to try to break it down to the very basics for you here.

Benefits:

Home grown produce is out of this world on flavor. You will never want to eat a store bought “tomato”again.

Growing your own produce ensures a superior nutritional content. Under ripe, synthetically matured produce lacks a lot of the nutrition of fully mature, properly ripened fruits and vegetables and also contains harmful chemicals and insecticides.

Growing your own produce is convenient. No trips to the grocery store, just pop outside your back door, or your front door, wherever.

Growing your own produce can greatly reduce your impact on the environment. The fuel and chemicals it takes to grow your store bought produce, to package it and ship it, all the plastic involved from seedling containers to shipping containers to marketable packaging. Seriously, just think about it.

And I’m sure there is more, but these things were more than enough for me.

So, let’s get started. I’m going to assume for now that you have never grown a thing in your life. Let’s say you are someone who is greener than grass when it comes to your green thumb. Let’s start really simple. Let’s grow salad items and maybe some herbs. Here’s what you’ll need:

A little bit of space with access to sunshine, so a porch, balcony, front or back yard, just a little bit of room, not much, that gets at least half a day of direct sunlight.

Some planters. these can be anything from terra cotta pots to repurposed items like coffee cans and old tires. (Search “repurposed planters” on Pinterest to find some very creative ideas.)

Some soil. It doesn’t have to be potting mix. In fact, you will do better with a top soil or garden soil mix. I got mine $2 a bag at the local value market. You will probably need no more than 3-4 bags.

Some seeds or plants. Seeds can be a lot of fun to watch the entire process from start to finish, but I would recommend plants for a beginner for the head start they give you. Just keep in mind that if you get plants, you want to gradually increase their exposure to full sun since they have more than likely been raised in a green house and need to be eased into the full impact of the elements. So some of my favorites for a beginner would be 2-4 varieties of leaf lettuce or salad greens, a tomato plant, a bell pepper plant, a cucumber plant (you will want a sturdy trellis for it to climb, especially if you are limited on space) snow peas, and for herbs, basil, parsley, cilantro, thyme and oregano are all pretty simple and they are some of my favorite and most versatile flavors to use in the kitchen.

"Peas please!" Our little snow pea sprouts are up.

“Peas please!” Our little snow pea sprouts are up.

Of course, if you have more space and are feeling ambitious there are more things that could easily be grown in containers, but for our purposes I’m just touching on the simplest container garden strategy. See how you do with this and next season you can make adjustments. Like for instance, one tomato plant would NEVER be enough for our family, we’re going to need at least 3 because my hubby and daughter will need a plant to themselves – each. But, generally speaking, the items above should give you quite a few bowls of salad over the season. If you live in a very warm climate or the South in general (USA) your lettuce and peas won’t need direct sunlight and would even enjoy being shaded by the bigger plants as they grow, they like it cooler. Everything else will thrive in a mostly sunny spot, especially your tomatoes and peppers. They like it hot and jungly humid.

I used a sour cream container with holes poked in the bottom to start some cucumber seeds since my garden spot is still a couple weeks from being ready for planting.

I used a sour cream container with holes poked in the bottom to start some cucumber seeds since my garden spot is still a couple weeks from being ready for planting.

Lettuce has a shallow root system, so the pot doesn’t have to be huge. I have mine in long narrow planters on my porch railing. Tomatoes will need the biggest pot, like a 5 gallon bucket size, something big enough to be able to support a cage as they get bigger and start to produce fruit. Same for the cucumber, which is a vine, and it can be trained up a sturdy piece of trellis to save space. Chicken wire stretched over a 2′ X 5′ frame and leaned against a railing or the side of the house would work fine. Again, Pinterest has some fascinating ideas. The pepper plant and your herbs will be fine in medium sized pots, or you can let your herbs grow together in one big pot or a tiered planter. Even hanging planters can be used. You’ll want to keep everything watered, probably daily during the hottest summer days. I like to collect rain water as much as possible and save it in buckets or gallon jugs for use later. Plants just love rain water, it doesn’t have the chlorine that tap water has plus it has all kinds of molecular nutrients that just pump plants up and give them an extra “umph”. But, you can also save water you used to boil pasta or potatoes or steam vegetables (as long as you didn’t salt the water, salt will quickly kill your little salad friends, so don’t reuse salted water.) And of course you can just turn on the hose or tap, that’s fine too.

A red leaf lettuce will add variety to our salads this season.

A red leaf lettuce will add variety to our salads this season.

There’s not much else you need to know. Your plants generally come with harvesting instructions, and if for some reason they don’t or you lose the info, the internet has you covered. You can find anything you need to know, from how long before your first tomato is expected to how much lettuce you can harvest without damaging the plant. You should also find trouble-shooting tips for any issues that arise like bugs or fungus and there are tons of organic pest control options to be found.

Have fun! Get the kids involved, they will love to help with this project and it is a good way to get your stubborn picky eaters to try more vegetables. It is much more fun to eat something you grew yourself, I promise! Let me know how it goes, leave me comments with any questions you have  or any tips you’ve come across. I’m always looking for new innovative ideas in the garden department. Has this post inspired you? I’d love to hear how!

My son loves to help, especially when the task includes dirt and digging.

My son loves to help, especially when the task includes dirt and digging.

My Newest Project: An Overview

So, I’ve been wanting to accomplish a few things lately and have decided to mash them all up into one project to save time. No, really.

My blog has been dormant and I’ve been wanting to get back to writing, I’ve been wanting to do a photo challenge, I’m on this getting in shape journey and I’m trying to stay motivated and accountable while kicking it up a notch. So this morning when I was thinking about all these things I came up with this plan to do daily blog posts (or almost daily, sometimes I’m away from the house all day) to chronicle the next 90 Day challenge I’ll be doing.

Wait, back it up.

I have been participating in the 90 Day Bikini Body Mommy challenge, led by Brianna Christine. (She is awesome. Check out http://www.bikinibodymommy.com to learn more.) This amazing lady has been way more than a fitness guru to me, her style is very real and relatable and mostly doable. She posts a free workout every day, 6 days a week, and has done them in real time with us via youtube for the past 90 day challenge. She is mom of 4, in her 30s, and she proves that with hard work and lifestyle dedication you don’t have to settle for “this is just my body after kids forevermore”. She particularly fits my lifestyle with short and sweet but intense workouts and emphasis on clean eating, not crash dieting.

I came to terms a long time ago  with the fact that I love food. Me and anorexia just can’t be friends. BUT! That doesn’t mean I have to settle. Clean, healthy eating, healthy portions, and daily activity have gotten me results in the past, great results I might add. So why don’t I look like I did at 19? Oh, well… kids. And not just the changes pregnancies and births have made to my body, I’m talking about no time to sleep, no time to prep fresh food like salad and vegetables from scratch, having to choose between getting out the door for all day errands and grabbing fast food enroute or not getting out the door. The biggest thing young childless people don’t realize is how much a baby and/or small child will keep you from doing normal things. Hopping in the car to run to the store, or jumping in the shower, or writing a blog post because the computer doubles as your preschooler’s PBS shows. Life becomes so much less simple, more stress equals more eating or eating the wrong things, etc. and BAM! Before you know it you look in the mirror 10 years and 3 kids later and wonder what in the world happened to that tan, skinny girl in mini skirts with the perfect soft feet and painted toes in a stylish stiletto. You can barely recognize her underneath the tired, pale skin, the flabby flab hidden by an over sized tee shirt stained by food and baby puke, and the 40ish extra pounds.

But she’s there, people! I dare to believe she’s there!

And you know, this is more than just working on me and forcing myself to take time for me. (Another epiphany story for another time.) As I was thinking about this today, on the 90th day of the challenge I had been powering through, which, by the way, was monumental for me with my crazy life moving across the country all the time and all the set backs from working around my hubby’s weird schedule, I was making lunch for the kids. I had just finished my workout, which they both did with me here and there, and I was making them food from my clean eating meal ideas, (just kicked that into gear this last week, I needed to get the exercise into a habit before working on the food factors) I looked at their happy faces and realized I am not just working for me here. I’m working for them.

When you become a mom, your kids become your whole world. People tell you this will happen but you cannot begin to fathom what they mean until you look into your baby’s eyes for the first time and from that moment, your life changes. They are your entire world. And the mom 10 years and 3 kids later in the mirror bothers you, but you wouldn’t trade those tiny whirlwinds in for anything, not a hot flawless body or time to paint your toes or adequate sleep. You would give it all up ten times over for them.

But you don’t have to. I mean, yeah, life changes and you prioritize differently, but looking and feeling good happens to be an amazing side effect of healthy lifestyle. Will I ever again weigh what I did at 19 and look stunning in a mini skirt? Maybe – maybe not. But that doesn’t matter any more. It is no longer about weight, looking hot to find a guy I’d like to date, wearing the perfect outfit for that night out, it’s about my kids. I want to show them how important healthy lifestyle choices are, how hard work and dedication eventually get you results, how to take time to work on themselves even when they are crazy busy, how to cook and eat clean, real food, how to be great, hands-on parents and set an example so that when I tell them to do something they know I’ve been willing to do it first.

So yes, it’s about me. But it’s also very much about these little buggers.

Image

So join me! A brand new 90 Day Bikini Body Mommy challenge starts May 5th, 2014. I’ll be on that train!! To stay motivated I’m also challenging myself to a blog post a day, short and sweet of course, and a picture to go with. Some of the subject matter I expect to post would be some progress pics, yes, but also workouts with my kids, outside activities, our container garden, clean eating meals and recipes that turned out great, maybe one or 2 that didn’t and why, and the list goes on, but definitely some fun stuff. Subscribe to my blog so you get each post in your inbox (if you haven’t already) and be sure to join the conversation in the comments with your own ideas and motivation. And by all means, check out the Bikini Body Mommy movement, I follow her Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/BikiniBodyMommy )  and will be checking in with thousands of other women each day. Looking for an accountability partner? I’d love to have you send me a friend request, we’ll keep each other motivated! Here is my personal Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/natasia.champion.94?ref=tn_tnmn

I’m looking forward to taking this to the next level and having an awesome summer!