Thursday, October 23, 2014

The One We've All Been Waiting For

When Joe started his stats looked like this...

Chest: 50"
Waist: 49"
Hips: 48.5"
Thigh: 26"
Weight: 301.5 lbs
# Push ups in 24 sec: 12

And he looked like this...

Ignore the drawings on the wall.

And now, 24 (ok it's 25, we wanted to wait till it was TOTALLY over before doing measurements) days later his measurements look like THIS...

Chest: 47.4"
Waist: 46.7"
Hips: 46.7"
Thigh: 23.9"
Weight: 284.2 lbs
# Push ups in 24 sec: 16

Which means JOE HAS LOST 17.3 pounds and 8.8 inches in three weeks and three days which is basically AWESOME!

Seriously people, this is a big friggin deal. I'm super excited for him and for our family as whole. Ya know why? Because this is an awesome first step and I can tell that it's not the end. Today, while not on the challenge, he still took snacks to work, still took a healthy lunch and when we ordered pizza to celebrate he ate a totally normal serving size which is hugely different from before. We're talking about the man who once ate an entire Little Caesar's pizza in about 5 minutes.
We got our most recent shipment from AdvoCare this afternoon and Joe will be starting up his MNS 3 again tomorrow, along with Catalyst, Meal Replacement Shakes, Omega Plex and Spark. Why?
Because today he came home from work talking about how tired and achey and just plain awful he felt after one day of no Spark and no MNS. 

Because he's got a goal to get down to 220 lbs, and when you have momentum and it's working you don't quit.

Because he's happy, he feels great and he can keep up with life and work and kids for the first time in a long time.

Because he's discovered that the hole he kept trying to fill with food didn't need filling that way, and he's sick of letting all that weigh him down.

Because he has a PURPOSE and part of that Purpose is showing his kids that THERE IS A DIFFERENT WAY TO DO THINGS. He's ready to live his life instead of survive it

And when you have a Purpose like that, you don't quit.

Ok, I'm going to stop shouting at you now. Sometimes I get a little carried away.

So as we call this the end of our first step towards a brand new way of life, I have a question for you.
What's your purpose? Do you know? Have you sat down and thought about where you want to be, where you want your family to be next year, in 5 years, in 10? Or, are you doing what we've done for the last 5 years and just getting by until the next paycheck? Do you have dreams anymore, or did you give up on all that years ago?
This thing we're doing, yeah, it's a little bit about getting physically fit, but it's so much more than that. It's about being mentally fit, ready for anything that happens. And it's about being financially fit, so that we're not checking the bank account every time we need diapers. It's about our time ACTUALLY BEING OURS.

If any of that sounds good to you, don't hesitate to ask either of us how we're doing it.
And if you're someone we love, don't be surprised when we tell you how whether you ask us or not, because this thing has changed our lives. And when something changes your life for the better... you don't quit.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Last Days (Of Joe's Challenge, Not the World)

Days 17 through 24 have honestly blurred together. Part of that is this awful cluster headache that I'm finally on the other end of, but mostly it's become much less of a Challenge. It's all part of the routine now.

One highlight of the last days was our trip to Full Moon. For those of you who don't live in the Birmingham area, Full Moon is basically the greatest barbecue place ever. They fancy themselves (and rightly so) "The Best Little Pork House in Alabama". Not exactly on my list of places that I would assume has anything 24 Day Challenge friendly. We were, however, pleasantly surprised to discover that their Smoked Turkey is totally within the guidelines, and totally delicious. We haven't been out to eat anywhere else during the challenge, so the kids were super excited to go get some of their favorite food and that Daddy got to come to! Rather than order just an entree we went ahead and ordered an entire pound of the turkey to take home. The kind folks at Full Moon were also kind enough to prepare steamed broccoli sans salt for Joe as well, no hassle at all.

As we move on after the Challenge, I'm really not sure if all that much will change. It hasn't felt all that much like a challenge lately. We've pretty much just adjusted our routine and the guidelines aren't even that difficult to abide by anymore. Joe's still gonna have a Meal Replacement shake for breakfast because he's like in love with them or something. He'll be continuing with MNS 3, because he feels so fantastic on it. Quite honestly, I'm not sure I've seen him feel this good ever.
And obviously he and I both will continue using Spark. The next tub headed our way is Mango Strawberry, one of our favorites.

I do know that Joe has been thinking about pizza for a few weeks and Lydie just very badly wants to celebrate all of Daddy's hard work. 

Can't disappoint Daddy's little girl, now can we?

PS- Look out for a results post after Joe gets home from work!

Turkey Meatloaf Recipe

So you remember how I told you I made Turkey Meatloaf and it was awesome and Joe actually looked a little sad when he couldn't finish the leftovers in one sitting? Did I happen to tell you how stinking easy it was to make? OR that both of my toddlers, who regularly turn their noses up at new foods until I sing the song from Daniel Tiger, ate it with gusto and even asked for SECONDS?!
Inconceivable, I know. Props to the 24 Day Challenge Facebook group where I got the recipe that I only altered slightly.

Magic Turkey Meatloaf
You'll need:
1 – 1.5 lb 99% Fat Free Turkey Breast
1 egg OR 2 egg whites
¼ cup shredded carrots
½ cup chopped red/white onion
½ cup Old Fashioned Oats (not the quick cooking kind)
½ cup chopped bell pepper (any color green, yellow, orange or red)
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of basil
Dash of Spike (salt free) {I didn't actually remember to add this to my cart- so instead I just added a tiny bit of onion powder, celery seed, dill, ground mustard, turmeric, pepper, coriander, marjoram, oregano, thyme, tarragon, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and paprika that i mixed all together myself after looking up the ingredients in Spike)

½ cup tomato sauce (No Sugar Added - I found mine at Whole Foods)

- Set your oven to preheat to 350 degrees
- Grease a loaf pan with your choice of healthy oil (I used coconut, because I'm OBSESSED with it) or fat free pan spray
- Mix all of the things, except the tomato sauce, just until it all seems mixed evenly. I highly suggest scrambling the egg if you choose to use the yolk and all.
- Place your mixture in your loaf pan, pat it gently in. Feel free to get fancy and pat a small moat-like line in the middle
- Spoon the tomato sauce over the top, it should easily cover the entire loaf
- Stick your pan in the oven, close the door, go do other things for an hour...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Day 8 - 16, Why I've Been AWOL & What's New

So on Day 8 the Guardians of the Ribbon came to visit my Mama, along with all six of her children, two of their spouses, and every last one of her ELEVEN grandchildren
(+one neice and her ADORBZ little baby boy). You can watch her tell her story right here.

Yeah, and there are still two spouses missing...

Then, on Day 10, Mom had a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery.  So on the following days I have been trucking back and forth to the hospital, or my Mom's house to take care of the dogs and have been beyond distracted from this blog. 

Joe, however, has stayed the course. While he hasn't been blogging up a storm about it, Joe's been trucking right along. He's been sticking to the changes in his diet, making sure he has snacks at work, taking his supplements on time and drinking tons of water. Kind soul that he is, he's even been keeping the kids in evenings and over night sometimes for me while I hung out with Mom in the hospital. 
So here's the deal, since it's been EIGHT STINKING DAYS since I've updated I'll just give you the highlight reel instead of the play by play. Deal? Perfect.

Day 10 was the last day of the cleanse, which means that's the last day Joe took his ProBiotic Restore Ultra, drank his Fiber Drink etc... 

Day 11 marked the very first day of THE MAX PHASE. 
Which means that Days 11-16 looked a lot like this:
5 AM
Wake up, take an MNS Color Packet (Joe is using MNS Max 3, which is comparable to the new MNS 3 -- Pick this option if you want a good balance of appetite control and sustained energy)
Take Catalyst

5:30 AM
Drink your Meal Replacement Shake
Make a Spark, drink that on the way to work.

Sometime between then and lunch
Eat a snack. (Joe usually picks Almonds, an Orange, an Apple, or a Banana)

10:30 (AKA 30 minutes before lunch)
Take your second MNS Color Pack, Take your Catalyst

11 AM
Take both MNS White Packs.
Lunch (Steak and Coleslaw, Steak and Kale, Chicken and Kale... basically, delicious protein + veggies)

Sometime between then and dinner
Eat another snack

5-7 PM
Take your OmegaPlex , eat dinner (just wait until I tell you about this Turkey Meatloaf we made)

Have another snack.
Take your Catalyst

If you're wondering what the heck MNS is...
Magic. It's magic in a handy little vitamin strip pack. This is what comes in MNS 3
Before Breakfast Color Packet

Calcium Plus – 2 caplets
ActoTherm SR – 1 caplet
ProBiotic Restore™ Ultra – 1 capsule

Before Lunch Color Packet

Calcium Plus – 2 caplets
BioTherm – 2 capsules

White Packet

CorePlex® – 3 caplets
CardioQ – 1 capsule

White Packet

OmegaPlex® – 2 softgels

While this is not exactly what's in Joe's (the version he's using is from the previous version MNS MAX 3) it is very similar and it's the currently available version.

The first day Joe started using MNS he had caught a little cold. Usually it'll take Joe at least a couple of days, if not a full week, to kick a cold to the curb. Obviously we can't attribute his practically miraculous recovery ( that basically took all of a day and a half) to MNS - I'm gonna go with Joe's just taking better care of his body in general, so it's stronger and more easily fights off these minor hiccups.

I won't put the number down just yet, but Joe's hopped on the scale a few times and the numbers are looking REALLY good. 

More than that though - - He feels awesome, He looks awesome, &
He has more energy and optimism than I've ever seen him have.

Not so long ago it was the norm that Joe would get home in the afternoons after a long day at work and he'd nap while the kids played and I fixed dinner.That hasn't happened ONCE since he started this challenge.He wakes up in the morning ready for the day, without all the aches and pains he had grown accustom to.He's more productive at work, and work doesn't take all the good parts out of him. He comes home and he's ready to play with the kids, go with us to a fall festival or help me help out at my mom's house. He's sleeping better. His clothes fit better. He looks a lot more like the guy in those pictures I posted in that first blog.

One of the biggest changes has been his significantly improved mood. This may sound odd, but he's been happier. He just feels better on the inside, he feels good about where his life is going and the positive changes he's making and it shows in a big way. Little things that used to get him down in big ways.. they get treated like little things again.

Bottom Line

If you're ready to feel better than you ever have in your life, 
If you're sick and tired of feeling sick and tired,
If you want to have more of yourself to offer your family & friends,
If you're tired of waiting for something to give ...

Don't you think it's worth it? Don't you think you're worth it?

The best part, is he isn't even finished with the Challenge yet. 

Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Day 6 & 7, Energizer Bunny Weekend

When we started all this I figured it wouldn't be difficult to stick to the routine during the week, but I knew the weekends might be a different story. We definitely learned a couple lessons Saturday and today. The first is to be sure to plan ahead, otherwise you'll find yourself forgetting the routine or missing a dose of something. The second is that GOOD GOOGLY MOOGLY THIS STUFF MAKES JOE THE ENERGIZER BUNNY. 

Saturday (Day 6)

6:30 AM
Joe "slept in". Upon being accosted by adorable toddlers he woke up, took his Catalyst and ProBiotic Restore Ultra.

7 AM
I woke up, because there was talk of going to get breakfast and I was NOT missing out on that.
Joe mixed his Meal Replacement Shake and a Spark.

We piled babies in long sleeves (Because Sudden Alabama Fall) into the car and picked up breakfast. Joe drank his shake and Spark while the kids and I enjoyed some ChickFilA and we took a Saturday morning drive.

9 AM
On our way back home we noticed a bounce house and a ton of fire trucks - JoJo and Lydie could NOT miss this. Impromptu home improvement store kids workshop/fall festival pit stop. Since we stuck around there for about an hour, this is probably why Joe missed his morning snack.  

11:30 AM
We finally got home, Joe took his Catalyst and went to work on lunch. He recreated the Sauteed Kale I had made earlier in the week and had that alongside his routine steak. Y'all just don't even know how fantastic this stuff smells.

2 PM
We piled in the car again and headed to Joe's parents for The Game That Shall Not Be Mentioned (::ahem:: Roll Tide Roll). Immediately upon arriving Joe volunteered to mow their lawn. We all looked at him funny, but he was basically already headed out the door to do it.

3:15 PM
Joe came in from mowing the lawn and almost immediately asked if there was anything else he could do. So. Much. Energy. So his Mama pointed him towards the leaf blower and the driveway.

At some point he finished that and finally came inside. We all witnessed something horrific happen (Seriously though, Drake is injured AND that outcome? For the love...). Joe however enjoyed some mixed berries as his afternoon snack. Once again, he felt no need for a second Spark.

6 PM
Joe made dinner for the whole. His Mama had some boiled chicken that he sliced and threw in the skillet. Then he cooked some fresh broccoli in lime juice and garlic, noting that next time - -a little less lime juice. He also had a small salad with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

8 PM
As we headed home he realized he got so caught up in cooking that he forgot to take his Omega Plex with dinner (even though he had taken it with him). When he got home he took that with his snack (orange).

Catalyst, Herbal Cleanse Tablets.

I don't think we tabulated the water for the whole day, but by 1 pm he had already had almost 110oz, and with all that yard work he didn't slow down, so I doubt he was under budget on his water consumption.

Sunday (Day 7)

7 AM
I have no idea when Joe woke up because he graciously took care of Jojo who woke up screaming at an hour that was still dark. But when I woke up Joe had already taken Catalyst and his ProBiotic Restore Ultra.
Lydie and I made muffins, Joe drank his Meal Replacement Shake and told Lydie not to worry, he wouldn't eat all her muffins because they weren't part of his challenge.

Lydie is big into cheering Daddy on during this. She tells him all about how healthy he's going to be and reminds him to do a good job. It's completely fitting since the child wants to be an Alabama cheerleader "when she's grown".

9 AM
We hop in the car, Spark in hand, to head to church where Pastor Chris did not preach about whether or not eyebrows are considered facial hair ( He actually spoke of essentials for relationships, but especially familial ones).

10:50 AM
We drove back over to Poppa and Mimi's house for family lunch. This is when Joe probably should have had his mid-morning snack, but alas -- lack of planning.

While the rest of us enjoyed Mimi's lovely Sunday Roast Beef, Joe enjoyed chicken that he sauteed with a special no salt seasoning blend and asparagus seasoned similarly.

1:30 PM
Joe, still overflowing with energy, volunteered himself to load up Poppa's truck with the lawn mower and ride over to his brother's house to mow their lawn (they've just moved here from ATL!) and help him do yard work. The kids and I hung out and took naps.

5 PM
Joe returns, still energetic and sweetly bearing s'more ingredients per Lydie's request.
After enjoying a salad (romaine lettuce, sweet peppers, baby cucumbers) topped with leftover chicken from lunch and the same homemade balsamic vinaigrette (+Omega Plex), he built a fire and we all headed outside for marshmallow roasting.
Seriously people, he is so on task it's not even funny. He got covered in marshmallow melty goodness and HE WASHED HIS HANDS INSTEAD OF LICKING THEM.

7 PM
As a twist on our previous sweet snack, I mashed a frozen banana and added a tablespoon of natural peanut butter. MOCK DELICIOUS ICECREAM.

8:30 PM
We came home, he took his last dose of Herbal Cleanse Caplets and another dose of Catalyst, sat and waited for me to write this post, and now...

We're going to bed.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Day 5, So Much Win (And a Winning Sweet Snack Recipe)

5 AM
Wake up - Take Catalyst and ProBiotic RESTORE Ultra.

5:30 AM
Mix, sit and enjoy a Chocolate Meal Replacement Shake.

5:45 AM
Mix up a Fruit Punch Spark for the ride into work. Grab lunch (more steak and coleslaw), snacks (almonds, banana), and supplements (Catalyst) for later. Don't forget the gigantic water keg that you carry with you everywhere.

6 AM - 5 PM
Joe said that while he was at work a coworker noticed he had lost weight. Also, he wore the same pair of jeans to work the previous Casual Friday and they were noticeably looser this week. Huge win there because he's always talking about how none of his jeans feel like they fit anymore.

He forgot to take a pouch of Spark for the afternoon, but texted me and told me he felt like he didn't need it anyway. He just feels that great and doesn't need the additional boost in the afternoon. Winning.

5:45 PM
When Joe came home he took his Omega Plex and chowed down on Salmon (seasoned lightly with lemon juice and Bragg's Liquid Aminos, steamed in parchment pouch with sliced onions in the oven at 400) and Broccoli (steamed with garlic and lemon juice). We then packed up the kids and headed to Oak Mountain's Big Fall Festival where we ran into our AdvoMentor Hal and his girls. The kids got to pet a tiny kangaroo, we didn't ride anything (Because tickets a buck each and the ferris wheel costs 6 tickets a person? WHAT?) and we got a huge bag or purple cotton candy that Joe held for Lydie and didn't eat any of. Can you say RESOLVE? All he does is WIN

AWESOME snack (recipe at bottom), Catalyst, Herbal Cleanse Caplets.

Day 5: So Much Win


Frozen PB & Banana Bites

You'll need:
1 Banana
Natural Peanut Butter (no added oils, sugars or salts - -just peanuts -- Would also be good with other nut butters)

-Freeze Banana, at about 3 hours it should be frozen solid, freeze for shorter time if you want a softer treat
-Peel banana and slice in 1/3 inch pieces
-Spread about 1/4 tsp on one slice of banana, top with another slice
-Repeat till finished
-Feel free to eat right away, or freeze for no longer than half an hour (long freezing causes the peanut butter to do strange separatey things -trust me)

This stuff is beyond delicious. The kids had some after their lunch and said it was better than icecream. Perfect for those times that your sweet tooth is yelling at you, but you don't want to cheat. Say it with me... #WINNING

Friday, October 3, 2014

Day 4, A Change to the Routine and a Fancy Recipe with a French Name

The first three days of the Challenge are pretty much identical in the Daily Guide but Day 4 brings a few small changes. Along with feeling better than ever (seriously, the man has a spring in his step), rather than drinking a Fiber Drink in the morning you take your first ProBiotic RESTORE Ultra that comes in convenient dose by dose packets in your Herbal Cleanse box. Everything else stays pretty much the same. After The Great Lunch Fiasco Joe made sure to prepare his own lunch and snacks today.

5 AM
Wake up - Take Catalyst and ProBiotic RESTORE Ultra. Go get ready for work feeling FANTASTIC about life.

5:30 AM
DON'T MIX OR DRINK YOUR FIBER DRINK. Set those aside till Day 8.
Mix, sit and enjoy a Chocolate Meal Replacement Shake. Notice you kind of actually feel lighter. Cheat and hop on the scale (Technically you're not supposed to do this till the end of your cleanse...oops.) and notice YOU HAVE LOST ALMOST SIX POUNDS IN LESS THAN FOUR DAYS.

5:45 AM
Mix up a Fruit Punch Spark for the ride into work. Be thankful that you remember to pack your own lunch (Steak and Homemade Coleslaw with a new and improved dressing - I promise at some point once he decides the perfect ratios I'll have a recipe), snacks (banana, almonds), drinks and supplements (Spark, Massive Water Jug, Lunchtime Catalyst).

6 AM - 5 PM
While Joe was probably busy enjoying his proper lunch and snacks throughout the day and the kids were at Mother's Day Out, I did a little Challenge related shopping. Picked up a pair of pill boxes for him to carry his supplements to work in, a bottle of Bragg's Liquid Aminos (to replace soy sauce in.. whatever you want to use soy sauce in), and a bottle of Liquid Agave Nectar. I admit I have no idea what I'm going to use the Agave Nectar in, but people keep raving about it on our group challenge Facebook group, so I had to see what was up.
Which reminds me -- One of the huge benefits of AdvoCare's 24 Day Challenge is the support system that comes along with it. The products are great and they WORK,  and the Daily Guide is a huge help for planning/tracking purposes, but it is so, so, SO HELPFUL to have a mentor you can ask questions about specific foods or anything else you need clarification about. I've had to double check many times with the group or Hal (sometimes both) on whether or not I should use a specific ingredient or for suggestions for substitutions. While the internet has TONS of information, not all of it is trustworthy and you will very quickly find a lot of contradictory material and ideas out there. It's nice to have one spot to go and KNOW you're getting solid information.

Joe sent me a text in the afternoon talking about how great he feels. This is beyond unusual. Most afternoons I'm accustomed to the "Man I'm ready to come home to you guys" text, but not the "I feel great" text.

5:45 PM
Grab Joe's dinner (this one turned out AWESOME and I was kinda jealous of it - recipe below)and dinner time OmegaPlex, head to his brother's house for a pizza making night (and a trip to Doodles that Joe courageously did not partake in Italian Ice or Sorbet during...)
On the drive over Joe talked about how he's not having his usual afternoon slump in energy/motivation and that at times when he would usually push something off till the next day he took on a new project and finished it before heading home. He's always productive, now he's like.. super productive.

Snack, Catalyst, Herbal Cleanse Caplets.



Chicken en Papillote & Sauteed Kale
(Because we so FANCY)

You'll need:
Parchment Paper
1 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, in half inch thick slices
1 Small Onion
Red Pepper Flakes

Coconut Oil
1 Clove Fresh Garlic, sliced thinly
2 cups Kale, chopped, 1-2 in peices
Lemon Juice


-Preheat oven to 400
-Cover bottom of small baking dish with Parchment Paper
-Place Chicken on paper
-Cut onion in half, setting aside one half, cut in wedges and place around/on chicken evenly
-Sprinkle lightly with red pepper flakes
-Cover with second sheet of parchment paper, fold edges of bottom and top pieces together to create a pouch.
-Bake in oven till pouch is puffed, chicken is cooked through, and onions have softened. (10-14 minutes)

-Heat two tablespoons coconut oil in skillet
-Add sliced garlic and cook till garlic is softened, but not brown. If you notice browning, remove from heat before next step
-Add chopped Kale and about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
-Stir, Cover pan and check every two minutes. Feel free to let it wilt or keep it pretty crisp - either way is fine.

Serve Chicken on top of Sauteed Kale. Revel in your level of fancy deliciousness.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day 3, The Inevitable Mess Up

Day three started just as the previous two for Joe. However, I was awake around 2 am with a nightmare ridden toddler and kept becoming awake from 2 until 4:30 courtesy of that same toddler.

So obviously it was time for The Big Mistake.

5 AM
Wake up - Take Catalyst.
Another morning of waking up feeling much better physically than usual.
While Joe got ready for work I ever so kindly gathered his lunch, snacks and supplements that he would need to take to work. More on this later.

5:30 AM
Mix, mix, chug the Citrus Fiber Drink. Follow that with another glass of water.

Mix, sit and enjoy a Chocolate Meal Replacement Shake.

5:45 AM
Mix up a Fruit Punch Spark for the ride into work. Grab what you think is the lunch/supplements that your wife has gathered for you. Go to work like everything is normal and fine.

6 AM - 11 AM
Everything is still normal. Eat a banana for a snack. Take your pre-lunch Catalyst. Feel awesome about all the fantastic decisions you're making.

11 AM

Now, it's entirely possible that he realized the "everything is wrong" part when he opened the bag for his snack earlier. All I know is that when I texted to ask him if he had used a particular ingredient in his coleslaw dressing he said "You can try it if you want, my lunch is in the fridge". I thought about throwing babies in the car and jetting to downtown STAT, but it was already too late. So Joe made do by stretching snacks and cracking a few jokes.
Lesson learned. Joe gathers his own lunch in the morning.

6 PM
Louie Giglio spoke at First Wednesday (Have I told you how much we LOVE our church? Because WE LOVE OUR CHURCH!) so the kids and I brought what WAS Joe's lunch for his dinner (you guessed it, more steak and coleslaw) and chowed down at the picnic tables at church. Then we thoroughly enjoyed the service, and headed home

9:30 PM
Came home, had a snack. went straight to...

Catalyst, Herbal Cleanse Caplets.

Again - Joe solidly drank more than his required 150 oz of water through the day.

Aside from the minor, awful, totally my fault bump -- another (mostly) successful day was in the books.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Day 2, Orange Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry Recipe

Joe's working on Day 3 right now, and while he's at it I'll fill you in on yesterday.

Day 2 of the Challenge went like this:

5 AM
Wake up - Take Catalyst.
Joe mentioned that when he woke up this morning he felt really good physically - no usual muscle aches, pains and stiffness.

5:30 AM
Mix, mix, chug the Citrus Fiber Drink. Follow that with another glass of water.

Mix, sit and enjoy a Chocolate Meal Replacement Shake.

5:45 AM
Mix up a Fruit Punch Spark for the ride into work. Grab his premade lunch (recipe coming tonight once I get Joe to write it out) of homemade coleslaw and steak. Pack in a banana and a small bag of almonds for snacks. Don't forget to take your Catalyst and Spark with you for later. (Told you he was a creature of habit.)

6 AM - 5:30 PM
While Joe's at work he took his Catalyst again half an hour before he ate his lunch. LAter on he mentioned that he noticed he feels full after the meals and snack. More importantly, that he feels just full, not overfull and bloated.

5:30 PM
Joe went to help our friends move apartments and valiantly resisted both pizza and puppy chow. I honestly am incredibly proud of him for that.

9 PM
Got home, ate the dinner I saved for him (Orange Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry, recipe below).

Ate one orange for a snack.
Catalyst, Herbal Cleanse Caplets.

We added up all the water he drank for the day... I'm wondering how he did it but he drank a total of 210 oz of water on Day 2. ::slow clap::

Orange Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry

You'll need:

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, sliced thin or in 1/2 in cubes (or about 3 cups of cubed, raw chicken)
1 Orange
1/2 tsp Ginger (I used powdered, would be great with fresh, just adjust to your own tastebuds)
Red Pepper Flakes to taste (I just shook the container about three times.. very precise that way)
Coconut Oil

1 Onion, sliced thin
1/2 tsp Ginger
More Red Pepper Flakes
1 16oz Bag of Frozen Stir Fry Vegetables (I used the Broccoli Stir Fry Blend from Walmart's Great Value Brand)
1/4 cup Water


- Place chicken in medium bowl
- Zest orange, reserve half and add to bowl
- Juice orange over chicken, small pieces of orange may fall with the juice, it's no big - leave em
- Add ginger and red pepper flakes to bowl
- Stir for even coverage, let sit for 10 minutes

- Lightly coat large skillet (or wok, if you're feelin' fancy) with coconut oil
- Heat skillet (medium high heat)
- Add marinated chicken
- Stir often, cook through (timing depends on thickness of slices or cubes), remove from heat and set aside for later.

- Clean your pan, re-coat with coconut oil, heat - medium heat
- Add sliced onion to the skillet, sprinkle with ginger and red pepper flakes. Sweat til softened, but not transparent
- Add stir fry veggies and water. Raise heat to medium high. Cook according to bag directions.
- Once veggies are all finished add your chicken to the veggie mixture, stir well and serve.

We ate this on it's own as Joe is cutting out the complex carbs during his challenge - but if you're on a standard challenge you can absolutely serve over brown rice, quinoa or whole wheat stir fry noodles (definitely saw some whole wheat udon noodles at Fresh Market last week... that would be awesome..). Just be sure to watch your portions.

While we're on the subject of recipes - please keep in mind that while I am doing my best to stick to Daily Guide regulations and the advice of our mentor I am by no means an expert. I may add something and find out later it's on the "foods to avoid" list. These are just my ideas, not at all sanctioned by AdvoCare Corporate - just one mama trying to the the Challenge into our lives.

Let me know if you try the recipe or if you made any changes. I think next time I'll use Bragg's Liquid Aminos as well, which is a 24 Day Challenge friendly replacement for soy sauce (made from vegetable protein and has much lower sodium than soy sauce, but tastes similar). Even the kids ate this stuff up, and they don't usually like when different foods touch.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Joe's Solo Challenge, Day 1

I love the smell of Fruit Punch Spark in the morning. Smells like victory... and birthday parties in the 90s.

Day 1 of the Challenge went like this:

5 AM (I KNOW  {>_<} )
Wake up - Take Catalyst. (this is an add on to the standard challenge, click the link for sciencey info)

5:30 AM
Mix, really really mix, then CHUG the Citrus Fiber Drink (which comes in the Herbal Cleanse box). Joe said it really wasn't that bad. Texture was thick and gritty (because... fiber. duh) but tasted fine and was manageable.

Mix, sit and enjoy a Chocolate Meal Replacement Shake. Joe is up EARLY and I'm not a morning person, even when I'm not pregnant and dealing with morning sickness, so we've opted to use the shakes throughout the entire challenge, not just the Max Phase - which means we're purchasing an additional box of shakes. Joe said the shake was good. Joe describes things very simply for me early in the morning. This is good.

5:45 AM
Mix up a Fruit Punch Spark which Joe enjoyed on his drive into work.

6 AM - 4 PM
Text Joe every now and then to see how he's doing. As I said yesterday he took a banana and almonds with him for his mid morning and afternoon snack, and steak and homemade coleslaw for lunch. He took Catalyst again 30 minutes before lunch and had another Spark (Pink Lemonade this time) in the afternoon.

He did mention he felt like he might gnaw off his arm by the time lunch came. The man is not used to eating at normal times. He usually just drank alot of water, had a quick lunch (if he made time for it and didn't end up putting that off till the drive home) and then came home in the evenings and binged.
No disturbing side effects.

5:30 PM
Joe offers to make dinner, as I'm not feeling super great.
On the menu was Salmon (no skin) seasoned with lemon juice, orange zest and dill with a side of broccoli. Simple. Delicious. Totally doable.

8 PM
Another snack - Almonds

Catalyst, Herbal Cleanse Caplets.

Throughout the day Joe also drank a total of at least 150 oz of water. The Daily Guide suggests taking your body weight, dividing that in half and drinking that many oz of water each day, so he's on target there.

We'll call Day 1 a success. No deviations from the plan. No unforeseen hurdles.Win/Win

Joe's First Challenge Prep

I'm a little late posting this, as Joe is now on day 2 of his 24 Day Challenge, it took some time to find those pictures of him from highschool for the last post (#sorrynotsorry).

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about yet, go watch this short video for a quick intro on AdvoCare's 24 Day Challenge.

Joe's going to be going this one alone, as I am 10 weeks, 3 days pregnant with a lovely case of Hyperemsis Gravidarium (read: fancy words for puking all the time and almost constantly on the verge of dehydration). 

Since he started on Monday morning we spent Sunday afternoon shopping for the first week. In addition to the list of proteins, fruits and veggies we also purchased a blender bottle to use for Meal Replacement Shakes, Fiber Drinks and the like, along with a shiny scale and measurement tape to keep track of his progress.

Joe is very much a creature of habit (he once went an entire year eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. Every. Day.), so our list is not extremely varied. You can find a more extensive list of what to eat and what to avoid while on the Challenge in the Daily Guide that comes with each Challenge Bundle.

Proteins / Meats:
~Skinless, boneless chicken
~Lean, thin cut steak
~Shredded Cabbage
~ Miscellaneous:
~Natural Peanut Butter
~Whole, dry roasted Almonds (no salt)

Upon a suggestion from our mentor, Joe's skipping the Complex Carbs during the 10 Day Cleanse, but that's not a hard and fast rule for everyone. The best rule during the cleanse is if God didn't make it, don't eat it. The goal is to eat very lean and clean, seeking first to fuel your body with just what it needs and nothing more.

The second part of prep was to take "Before" measurements and pictures. We're going to hold on to the pictures for now, but here are the stats.

Chest: 50"
Waist: 49"
Hips: 48.5"
Thigh: 26"
Weight: 301.5 lbs

To finish off the day Joe went ahead and made his lunch for the next day. Nothing too crazy, just a 5 oz piece of steak and he made his own coleslaw which I'll have to get the recipe for because it looked pretty stinkin' good. We bagged up some almonds and a banana for him to take along as his between meal snacks and went to bed to rest up before the big day. Be on the lookout for the next post about Day 1!

Duffey 101

Once upon a time I was 18 years old and I ran 7 miles almost every single day because I thought things like that were fun. I ate all the foods I wanted to eat, whenever I wanted to eat them. In fact, I pretty much ate ALL OF THE FOODS, ALL OF THE TIME with NONE OF THE CONSEQUENCES... it was wonderful. I looked like this...

Once upon a time Joe played football at Briarwood Christian School so he basically NEEDED to eat ALL OF THE FOODS, ALL OF THE TIME because he was burning ALL OF THE CALORIES. He looked like this...

And like this...
You can be upset about the overkill with highschool pictures later Joe. It's not my fault you're so cute.

And then Joe graduated and stopped playing football. And he happened to work at the most fantastic dispensary of delicious fried chicken on the entire planet (ChickFilA, duh) for about 11 years. Somewhere in there Joe and I started dating, and we looked like this...

Not long after that we got married, and we looked like this...

And we had a baby girl, and then a year later a baby boy, and our family looks like this...
She's 3 1/2 , He's 2 1/2 , we're .. older than that

It looks really nice in the pictures. But the pictures don't show the years of struggle we had in between those last two pictures. They show a really hard working man and mama who stays at home with two toddlers, but they don't show all those times there was too much month at the end of the money. They don't show just how tired I was and how we did enough to survive, but not enough to thrive. They don't show all the bad eating habits we got into - how I often wouldn't end up eating an actual meal until the end of the day because I was too busy focusing on the kids food actually getting into their mouths or how Joe would work from early in the morning, skip breakfast and often lunch too and basically just binge on dinner and snacks in the evening. There's a lot of missing information between those pictures.

And then there's this picture...

This is a picture from this August when Joe and I packed up a couple suitcases and drove from Birmingham, AL to Dallas, TX and brought my friend Beth with us all because of an energy drink. Ok, so it wasn't just because of the drink, but it is the thing that started everything. Let me explain...

Some friends of ours invited us to a meeting where we sampled Spark (the aforementioned road trip inspiring energy drink) and listened to a group of people tell us how Spark and AdvoCare had radically changed their lives. After four years of thinking the best there was for our family was just surviving, I heard hope for more than that. I heard people talk about how they went from having a house in foreclosure and being too tired to keep up with their son they made one decision and soon found themselves out of the red and feeling better than they had in years.
While I was listening I realized how late it was and how alert I was. Most nights for the last four years I could hardly wait to get to bed or curl up on the couch as soon as the kids were in bed and here we were almost an hour past their bedtime and I was wide awake. On the ride home, I was so pumped up that I sang the entirety of the Frozen soundtrack with my daughter. ALL OF IT. BY CHOICE.

The next morning I was genuinely disappointed that I didn't have another one of those ridiculous Spark drinks. I reluctantly hopped back into my routine of about 5-6 Cokes throughout the day to stay functioning. It was miserable.
Joe and I talked and made the decision to do whatever it took to get those products and that hope into our lives. We ordered our distributor kit and from the moment I had Spark in my house I stopped drinking all that Coke  -- and in 19 days I lost 9 pounds. NINE POUNDS, PEOPLE! With results like that from just one product, how could we not pack up the car and drive to Texas to be around these wonderful people, and learn everything we could about making some more life changing decisions?

We used to see survival and need. Now we have the chance for dreams fulfilled. We saw ourselves becoming people we didn't really recognize. Now we see a path to the us we knew before life happened and even better versions of those people. We used to see a lot of people stuck in their own version of our situation. Now we see people we get to share this hope with.

And this is what we look like...

At least, for now.