About catrinaishungry

I'm Catrina Vargas-Cormell and I'm passionate about health and fitness, motivated to help others and hungry for growth! I'm also one of those 'weird, left-handed, creative types'.. uh-huh.. they DO let us out every once in a while. :-)

Dang good healthy treats

Just recently, my husband and I got away and escaped life for a few days in the mountains. It doesn’t happen very often (time off) so we were stoked. :-)
Getting ready for our three nights away I started to gather a few healthy recipes that I wanted to try, this would be my first ‘vacation’ since going strict with- no grain or dairy in February of 2011. Even though I have been low-carb for 5 years, I always ate whatever I wanted ‘in the mountains.’ Not so anymore. Bye-bye splitting pizzas for dinner, eating waffles for breakfast, grilled cheese sandwiches and chips for lunch and ice cream for late night snack. I knew it was going to be tough because I had come to identify ‘time-off’ with these foods. So I made sure I had plenty of nuts & dates (my favs), some coconut milk ice cream and a couple of healthy treat recipes. (Along with proteins, veggies and fruit, of course.)
So what recipes did I try? Two.. Sweet potato brownies and Caramel pecan bars.
Both from a new (to me) website called Paleomg.com that you MUST check out. There are a ton of awesome recipe sites for healthy eaters that I’m discovering and some oldies but goodies that I go to regularly as well. (I’ll post the links in a bit)
So back to my baking. Oh wow. I LOVED these recipes!

First up- Sweet potato brownies
If you’re wondering if you can taste the sweet potato, the answer is no. And baking the sweetpo vs. boiling or microwaving worked best for me with just the right moisture level. I used a medium sized potato but I wouldn’t stress about the size too much. :-)
I also added half a cup of pecans to mine, because, well, I love nuts.. in everything.

These were also great heated up with some coconut milk ice cream on top and of course some more nuts. lol

Next up: Caramel Pecan Bars
Ok, these were sinful. straight up. I ate a lot of them and didn’t apologize for it. It’s probably because I love dates and nuts so much.. nah, forget that, my husband even loved these beauties! Juli recommends cooking them in a loaf pan, the only thing I would change would be to cook them in a 8×8 glass cooking dish, it will make them a little thinner but they will go a little farther, lol.

I didn’t have a food processor for the ‘caramel’ topping, just an Ultimate Chopper, remember those? Yeah, I’m old school. Well, that’s why you see chunks of dates in my caramel vs. Juli’s. And for some reason my bars came out darker, but I wasn’t complaining, they were dang delicious.
So, give these two recipes a go if you’re in the mood for a healthy treat! The Sweet potato brownies freeze very well, for you know, portion control, lol and the Caramel pecan bars, I have no idea, there were non left over to freeze. gulp. :-)

Here’s a few of my favorite recipe sites, check them out!
Paleomg.com
The Urban Poser
Your Lighter Side
Civilized Caveman Cooking
Fast Paleo
I’m sure I forgot someone.. grr.
What are your favorite healthy cooking websites or recipes?

Here’s me.. in the mountains. Catrina+mountains= Happy. :-)

The most effective form of exercise is…

I’ll never forget the question.
The crowd that day was eager to hear from Exercise Physiologist and trainer to the stars, Jimmy Pena (who also happens to be an old friend of mine) when it came out of nowhere:
“What is the most effective exercise you can do for physical fitness?”
hmmm..
Decked out in their track suits and tennis shoes, people were throwing out answers left and right- “Running!” “Spinning!” “Rowing!” “Crossfit?”
I admit, I was thinking up a few of my own, and once everyone quieted down he said, “After writing countless articles on health and fitness since 1998 (he’s being modest, he’s one of the nation’s most published fitness experts) and even after co-authoring or contributing to 6 health and fitness best sellers, I can say with certainty that the most effective form of exercise is (wait for it…) whatever you’ll do.”
huh.
That’s.. yeah.
wow.

(The truth is always simple.)

We all know that we can have the most sophisticated equipment, the best workout plan, etc., etc.. but if we have no desire whatsoever to even do the work, it does us no good, because we won’t do it. Right? (Raise your hand if you have now or have ever had a piece of exercise equipment that sadly became an extra closet or bookshelf in your bedroom. Hmmm? Anyone?)
I never had that problem. I love to work out. It’s ok, you can hate me. Lifting weights is enjoyable for me.
Well, that is, until about 3 months ago.. when my world turned upside down.
I was going through a big life change (which I’ll write about soon) and I started experiencing a drop in my energy level, and then out of no where, I completely lost my desire to lift weights.
(Moment of silence, please)
Utter sadness.
So I did what most fitness fanatics do. I pushed myself to stay after it anyways, going through the motions until one day I just couldn’t do it anymore. And I stopped.
What happened? Where’s the love? I mean, seriously, this wasn’t supposed to happen to ‘people like me’, I encourage others to work out and live healthy, I’m supposed to be the good example, dangit!

I felt bad and even guilty for not working out, don’t ask me why, I just did. Habit.
But the motivation had absolutely left me. And it was no where to be found.
It was about a week later, when I decided I wanted to finally start a garden in my back yard (after years of wishing), aaaaand I thought it would be cool to lay a brick walkway around the two beds (because I like to come up with new ways to torture myself).
Our home is 104 years old and every square inch of her bad self needs renovating, including the large mess behind the house most people refer to as a “back yard.” So, completely uncharacteristic of me, I started spending two hours outside every morning working on my back yard. Hauling around buckets of dirt, shoveling sand, carrying bricks of all shapes and sizes, digging compost trenches,

knocking the mortar off the old bricks with a small axe, etc..

And guess what? I loved it! (Whoa, stop the presses.)
I was out of breath and sweating up a storm (it was hotter than Hades out there), but I really loved it! The two hours flew by and I couldn’t wait to get back out there the next day. I felt like I did when I first started with weights. I felt at home.. and relaxed, it came naturally.
(Here’s my yard in progress..poor thing. If you blink you might miss my cucumbers coming in.)
So, somewhere in the middle of all that I stopped feeling guilty about not doing ‘regular exercise’ and started to see the work in my garden/backyard for what it was- a dang good workout. And wouldn’t you know it, just this week (some 3 months later), my love for lifting weights, returned. Aaaaand they’re back to kicking my butt. :-)
So, am I starting over in some ways? Have I lost a little ground in the weight room? Yes. There’s no other way around it. But what I gained was a refresher that exercise can be anything that’s physically demanding (and progressive), even hauling bricks and shoveling sand.. and it should be enjoyable. Because, bottom line, it doesn’t matter how “effective” a particular exercise is for the masses, what works best for me is… whatever I’ll do.

What is your favorite form of non-traditional exercise? Do you enjoy lifting weights? Do you have a garden? (Please say yes to that last question so you can help this little brown thumb out.) :-)

21 Day Sugar Detox Wrap-Up

I completed the 21 Day Sugar Detox.
And what do you know, I survived. :-)
Not that it was ever a question, but there were a few days in there when day 21 seemed like a looooooong ways away.

So why did I do the detox?
I eat clean, crazy clean, as in no grain, dairy or soy and very, very little processed foods (about 5%). I don’t really see certain foods as being ‘off-limits’, I just don’t like the way junk makes me feel, I kinda like feeling good, so it’s not a diet that I go on and off, this is the way I eat.
But I do have a history of abusing food. I was an emotional eater for many, many years and turned to food to ‘solve’ a multitude of issues. I am very aware of how food makes me feel and I also am aware of when I’m feeling unnaturally drawn to sweets, i.e. cravings.
My weight had started to creep back up, my clothes were fitting tighter and I was feeling like I ‘needed’ to have something sweet all the time. You may be wondering how I can put on weight and become re-addicted to sweets eating only natural, whole foods? Hmmm, I don’t know, I guess I’m just gifted that way. lol But seriously, it’s easy, for me it’s called fruit.. raw honey.. and nuts. And… a lot of it. More than I can handle and maintain a comfortable weight for me. It’s not the fruit itself, a lot of people can eat it without problems, it’s the feeling that I ‘needed it’ that was getting out of control. I know I have this issue (a sweet addiction past) and have to keep myself in check from time to time, and this was one of those times.
So you’re probably wondering- did the 21 Day Sugar Detox (21DSD) work?
Well, if the point of the detox was to recalibrate my tastebuds, then absolutely it worked. Back in March of this year for no reason that I can explain, I gradually started eating more sweet foods. And because I was eating more, I was craving more. Yep, that’s the way it works. Nasty vicious cycle. I know this, I knew this, I STILL know it, but I started down the path and it was hard to reverse once it was in motion without a slightly drastic measure. I needed a recalibration because fruit and raw honey that used to be super sweet for me and would even give me a headache from the sugar rush, suddenly wasn’t enough, and I wanted (needed) more.The detox resets the tastebuds and the cravings, so that I can be satisfied with just a little bit of sweetness and can actually taste the natural sweetness without having to eat a ton of it to feel ‘content.’
Many people use the 21DSD to lose weight. And I confess I was hoping to lose the 8 pounds I had put on since the beginning of March (did I just say that out loud?) But I only ended up losing 4 pounds. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t really eating that bad when I started (just bad fro me) and maybe I’m gaining a bit of muscle with all of the serious physical work I’ve been doing for the last 2 months, whatever it is, it may be time to accept that this might be my new ‘normal.’ And somehow that’s ok. {bliss.}
Was it hard?
Yeah, it was a bit tough in the first few days, I had some pretty strong cravings for ‘my’ sweet potatoes and plantains etc., but I expected it to be a little uncomfortable, after all I had gotten myself into this hole, and I had to work my way out. The key was (and always is) to have cut up veggies and meat prepped so when you do get hungry, there is something available-quick. On Level Three of the program I was only allowed 1 green apple a day (in the fruit department) and no sweet potatoes. But after the first few days I really started to enjoy radishes, cucumbers, cabbage and bell peppers and didn’t miss the sweeter fruits and veggies so much.
It’s been a week since I finished the 21DSD. The day I finished the detox I can’t say that I had no desire whatsoever for sweets anymore, I think I’ll always struggle with that on some level, but I’ve noticed that the desire for them has greatly minimized. I’m not thinking about when and how I can eat some fruit (or honey), I don’t feel like I need it anymore, in fact I went all day yesterday without any fruit until dinner and the only reason I grabbed a piece of watermelon was because we were heading out to do some very physical labor and I knew I would be needing the extra carbs.
I feel free. And that’s a great feeling. :-)

I recommend the 21 Day Sugar Detox because sometimes we just need a little help. Especially if you are where I was and your taste buds could use a tune-up. Check it out, it’s $21 and it comes loaded with lots of great info, including a list of what’s allowed and what’s not allowed for the 21 days. I also recommend getting an accountability partner who will hold your feet to the fire and if you can’t find one, shoot me an email at catrinaishungry@gmail.com and I’ll help you out with that. If you decide to do it, or if you already have, I would love to hear about your experience. :-)

“Expert”

Around every corner and under every rock you will find a “Fitness Expert”, especially in the social media realm, right?
Yup, everyone’s an expert. :-)
There are some fantastic (true) experts out there, that offer amazing and insightful information that will help us on our journey to better health and fitness, follow them! Read their books and blogs and posts, etc. and everyone else? Hmmm, take them with a grain of salt. :-)
Even better, do your own research, experiment with your own diet and training and become an expert.. of you!
I caution you about anyone who will a.) ‘push products’ on you, b.) suggest that their diet and workouts are the only way to go and c.) those who are inconsistent.. at best. You want someone who models a life you want to lead, if they haven’t figured out what works for them yet, give them a few years to gain some experience and knowledge, then check them out again.
And again, take the time to shape your own path to better health, do simple elimination tests to find out what you’re allergic to, pay attention to what foods make you feel energized (not high) and what foods make you feel sluggish and sick. Take out what’s harmful and add in what’s beneficial.
I’ve spent 400+ hours researching my current diet and workout plan and I’m not done yet. I want to always be growing in my knowledge of how my body works and how best to fuel it. And I encourage you to do the same.
Well, you don’t have to put in 400 hours, but you can start somewhere though, right?
Right. You little expert, you. :-)

Consistency. At least once in a while.

Start… stop.
Start again.. stop.
Start and go a little bit longer and stop.. again.
How many times have you stopped and started a healthy eating plan or exercise routine?
Ok, I won’t make you answer that question.
But answer this for me.. tell me about the success you’ve had when you stayed with a ‘program’ for at least two months?
If you’ve stayed with something for that amount of time, you likely have a success story of SOME level, right?
Let me answer that for you- yes. :-)
Success doesn’t come overnight. If we want results we’re going to have to STAY WITH SOMETHING longer than a few days or a week.
Yes, I know, this is crazy obvious. And yet, I hear people complaining ALL THE TIME that X, Y or Z doesn’t work for them and they NEED to try something else.
(What they’re really saying is- X, Y or Z is too hard, and they don’t want to do anything hard so they need to find something easier.)
Yes, I know there are a lot of reasons WHY it’s difficult, but the bottom line is, we cannot say that eating right and working out doesn’t work if we haven’t really given it a fair chance.

Try this: Challenge yourself. Seek accountability. Stay the course. See the results.

Challenge yourself-

Set a goal date that is 2-3 months from now and commit to eating healthy whole foods (protein, healthy fats, veggies and some fruit and nuts) and exercise 3-4 times per week until then. Take measurements and photos, weigh yourself and most of all- don’t quit.

Seek accountability-
Ask someone that you KNOW will keep you accountable and give you a seriously hard time if you even consider quitting. Ask them to contact you once or twice a week to see how you’re doing. Give them accountability questions to ask you to cut to the chase, questions that you can’t answer- generally. Even better, find a buddy who will do this with you, 100%.

Stay the course-
Plan out what foods are going to be allowed in your diet and which ones are not. Put this list on a wipe board or somewhere you will see it every day. Don’t buy these foods, these items are non-negotiables, don’t bring them into your home. Plan how many times a week you’re going to exercise and what you’re going to do. Seek out encouragement and motivation and walk away from those things that are discouraging (i.e. a desserts board on pinterest, lol) Stay focused on your goal of- finishing.

See the results-
(Barring any serious medical conditions,) you WILL reap the benefits of all your hard work. Go 2-3 months longer and you’ll reap even more benefits. Make it a lifetime decision and you’ll see ongoing results.

It’s not that hard. We make it REALLY hard though, don’t we? :-)
It boils down to consistency. To which there is no half-way. Either we are consistent with healthy eating and working out or we’re not.
When I am consistent with my healthy lifestyle, I see results. I suspect it’s the same for you. The best part about all of this? We can change at any moment! Isn’t that awesome?!
If we are chronic quitters and/or we have a history of being inconsistent with our healthy eating and workouts, that can end- TODAY.
Yes it can.
You can do this.
Consistency is your friend, embrace her, she’s your ticket to success.

Superwoman

Do you do anything in your life right now, that makes you feel like Superwoman? (Assuming you’re a woman, of course..)
Something that makes you feel invincible, powerful and ready to take on anything?!?

I do. It’s called Demolition. ‘Demo’ for short.
And I LOOOOVE it! :-)
So what do I demolish? Walls. Plaster and lath, sheetrock, ceramic tile, wood, concrete.. whatever.

Why do I do this?
Well.. my husband and I bought a 104 year old home that every single flippin’ inch needed remodeling, so we had to take out walls, lots of different flooring and various wood structures.

We’ve also been doing various demo and reconstruction projects for the last 17 years. We’re crazy like that.

It’s tough work, not for the faint of heart or those worried about breaking a nail. Depending on what we’re working on we can easily be covered from head to toe in dirt, concrete or sheetrock dust, and sweat. Yeah, lots of sweat, we are absolutely filthy when we finish.
So why would I do this?
Well, for one, because it needs to be done, and two.. because I can.
Yeah. I can.
Give me a wonderbar in one hand and a hammer in the other and I will take down ANYTHING.
And the grin on my face under my mask will be huge while I’m doing it.
Why? Because I love the fact that I am not only capable of doing this, but I can do it well.
What I (may?) lack in strength (compared to the opposite sex) I will more than make up for in stamina. I don’t quit till the job is done.
And when I’m done, I’m crazy tired and likely bleeding somewhere, but on the inside I’m on top of the world, ready and willing to take on ANYTHING.
In my own little world, I am Superwoman. (Powerful, capable and strong.)
But my husband (lovingly) calls me- Beast.
So I ask you again, do you have anything in your life that you accomplish that makes you feel SUPER?
Something that stretches you?
Something that’s tough?
Something that takes a great deal of effort and thus gives a great deal of pride once completed?
We need these things.
And this is not the same kind of ‘amazing’ that a haircut or new outfit brings, this is the kind of ‘amazing’ that can only come with accomplishment. With facing something tough and tearing through it. And coming out on the other side- victorious.
In the midst of our crazy lives where we are burdened with issue upon issue, we need pockets of straightforward success here and there to remind us that we can make it and we can succeed in very tough circumstances.
We are capable. We are Super. And we can handle Anything that comes our way.

Without these ‘successes’, these moments of awesome achievement, we start to shrivel, and doubt starts to creep in and ‘everything’ seems so overwhelming and we think we can’t make it if we don’t ‘escape’ (to get a manicure, a drink, or eat junk) so we can deal with life again.
Nonsense.
You are so much stronger than you think you are. You may have forgotten this, but the fact remains. You may need to tackle and conquer something bigger than you to refresh your memory of your strength, but it’s there, I promise you.

While leading a group of college girls through a workout not too long ago, I told them of another benefit of exercise that’s often overlooked:
When we face a tough workout that we really don’t want to do or don’t think we can do, but we roll up our sleeves and do it anyways, afterwards, after we’ve pressed on, pushed hard, done our best and finished.. we get to enjoy the gift of accomplishment and we also realize that every ‘impossible’ task we overcome gives us strength and determination to handle the next one, be it in the gym or not. Working-out is a strength builder that carries much further than the walls of a gym.

Some will run to get a pedicure or go shopping when the going gets tough. Fortunately, life never afforded me those options. And I say “fortunately” because without those options, I was forced to develop my ‘perseverance muscle’, and it’s strong now.
Earlier I said my husband and I had been doing demo and rebuilding for the last 17 years, but I had forgotten about this photo here…
This is me and my brother and sisters (minus one) when I was 16 years old (I’m in the center not holding anything). Apparently my Mom looked at two short brick walls and a large L-shaped patch of concrete and it never occurred to her that we couldn’t break this down. She told us it needed to be done and using a sledgehammer we did it. We took turns destroying this sore sight in the yard, till it was no more. No gloves, no protective eye wear, no steel-toed boots. Just grit.
Was it ‘fun’ to do this? Maybe for the first few minutes, but those were (really) rough times, and I’m sure I welcomed the opportunity to work some frustration off. Would I have rather gone swimming or read a book or hung out with friends? Uh, yeah. But it was during these years that I was learning just how strong I was (we all were). Not by choice, we never choose adversity, right? But it’s in the fire, in those moments when we want to quit, but don’t because that option isn’t even on the table, that we find there’s really something in us, in all of us… that’s Super.
Thanks, Mom.

comparison

Stop comparing yourself to everyone else, it makes you look pitiful. I am sooo not kidding.
Just step off that merry-go-round, Friend, because it’s taking you nowhere.

How much of our unhappiness is a direct result of comparing ourselves to others?
Why do we do this?
She’s more successful, he’s more educated, she has a better body, he has a better car, she got more ‘likes’ on her photo (really?), he’s so lucky… I would be happy too if I had ___________.
So, hmmm.. if we removed all of these images and people from our lives that we compare ourselves to, would we feel better about ourselves?
There is value (much!) in unplugging, getting away, and cutting off the insane stream of information and images and ads etc., but this would not make us happier, things might slow down and we might relax, but it will not bring happiness.
This illusive ‘happiness’ will only come when we take a look around and start appreciating what WE have.
That’s crazy simplistic isn’t it…
That’s like, off-the-charts simplistic.
But it works.
We cannot live to our full potential, we cannot become everything we were created to be if all we do is complain about our life, our bodies, our job situation, our marriages, our bad luck, etc… etc…etc..
We just can’t. Because our focus is wrong.

I struggled with this.

I come from very humble circumstances and did not have the opportunities, blessings or bank account that many of my contemporaries did (do?). Add in a poor self image (it’s so much better now) because of my difficult childhood and you have a recipe for disaster.
I could always find something wrong with me and my life.

But about 6 months ago, I drew the line in the sand.. enough was enough.
I was going to start being thankful for everything I had. Yep, just like that.
But, but, but!!! Yep, everything.
Even the stuff I didn’t like.
Especially the stuff I didn’t like.
How does this change anything.. you might be asking? (yeah, I wanted to know, too!)

We are reminded of how fortunate we are.

Yep, yet another overly simplistic thought.
When we realize how fortunate and blessed we are, we have no room in our lives for comparison (that is based on ingratitude).

I’m still a work in progress but when I walk around appreciating things like the laundry (It means I have clothes to wear), the dishes (it means I was fortunate enough to eat), the computer messing up (I’m blessed to actually HAVE a computer), sore knee (I have legs! I can workout!), A husband who is late…again (ok, I’m still working on that one, uh.. let’s see- I have a husband who works hard! So, sometimes-he-forgets-he’s-married-because-he-gets-so-involved-in-his-work but at least he’s a very hard worker!!) LOL
then we really start to see how blessed we are, and I mean reeeeally start to see.. something happens in us. And it’s a good thing.

Our focus shifts from what we don’t have.. to what we do have.
And we’re so blessed.
I don’t even have to know your circumstances to know that you are indeed blessed.

Gratitude changes everything.

This isn’t some ‘Pollyanna’ band aid approach to life’s problems, it’s not going to make everything bad into something good. This is a change in your attitude and outlook on life. It’s a new approach that requires deliberate practice day in and day out. It’s a choice.
Your choice.

So stop comparing yourself to others and start appreciating what you have.
Gratitude.. makes you beautiful. Pull it out, dust it off and apply liberally. :-)