A lot has happened in the past 14 months: a move to Chicago, several new roles at work, some travel, and a few life changes. After moving to Chicago in October 2016, I lost focus on my health through a combination of long hours at work (hello, office pizza deliveries), Chicago winter making the walk to/from the grocery store unpleasant, and being faced with an entire city full of new food to try. I ended up gaining more weight inside of two months than I ever had before, and it sucked.
On a New Year’s trip to Florida, I realized how miserable I felt and how clothing simply didn’t fit properly anymore. When I got back to Chicago, I resolved to put more focus on taking care of myself. That meant drinking less, making better food choices, and making time for exercise.
The easiest step was to simply make better food choices. Instead of having a Red Bull and a candy bar for breakfast every day (yes, really), I switched to water and fruits, granola, yogurt, or a cheese stick. At lunch, I began to limit portions to reasonable sizes and chose to focus more on vegetables than on desserts or cheesy, carb-y foods. One of the largest shifts was dinner — instead of ordering pizza or whatever sounded awesome to my frazzled brain in the moment, I began ordering comparatively lighter options like poke, sashimi, soup, etc.
I experimented with several workout routines for the first few months of the year, including a really embarrassing SoulCycle incident during which I was off-beat, out of breath, and eventually gave up and laid down on my handlebars. The instructor turned the lights down, cranked the volume, and actually came over to my bike to ask if I was dying. Needless to say, cycling to Justin Bieber tunes is not my thing.
Eventually, I discovered pole fitness and fell in love. It was everything I was looking for — dance, acrobatics, strength, and fun. I ended up attending classes regularly until the gym closed in October, then continued taking classes sporadically at other studios. Most days, I would walk the 2 miles home after class to help extend the physical activity a bit.
All said and done, I ended up losing around 25lbs within a year and gaining quite a bit of strength. Plus, I can do some cool tricks involving street signs now!
I’m planning to be more intentional about health and fitness this year, which means more meal planning, more cooking at home, and cutting drinking down considerably. To kick it off, I’ve planned a January Whole30. If you’d like to use the meal plan/recipe list/grocery list I’ve put together, feel free to check it out here.
Now for the first recipe in 14 months!
Chicken Bacon Chili Zoodles
Prep to plate time: 40 min
Servings: 10-12 cups-ish
- 3-6 zucchini squash
- 2-4 tbsp red chili paste (read the ingredients to make sure to grab one without sugar)
- 1/2 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- 1lb bacon (read the ingredients to get bacon cured without sugar, nitrites, or nitrates)
- 4 grilled chicken drumsticks (I broiled these in bulk on Sunday)
- 2-4 tbsp olive oil
- Bunch o’ salt
Spiralize (or julienne) the zucchini and place in a strainer in the sink. Heavily salt the zucchini, mixing it up to ensure even coverage. Let it set in the sink to drain for about 20 minutes.