The ONE thing to look for if you want to lose weight

The ONE thing to look for if you want to lose weight
I had a moment a few months ago where my health changed. 

Dramatically. 

Some of you have heard me talk about it. I went from having trouble standing up to incredible energy and mobility in my joints. And after months of slow trickling weight loss, the pounds just started falling off. Like A LOT. 

I looked at what I had changed (started my antioxidant juice) and attributed everything to that. And don’t get me wrong. That juice is the stuff. 

But I have come to realize that the moment-to-moment change and drastic improvement would not have been possible without the steps taken before. 

I’ve come to call this “Priming the Pump.” 

In the 1800s, this phrase meant using a small amount of liquid to get a larger pump going. Without doing that, the oil might never be pulled up by the pump. In order to access the oil in the ground the pump had to be “primed” first. Without that step, oil would not flow freely or may not flow at all. 

How did I prime my pump? I had been removing toxins from our fridge and pantry for years. Eating healthier and drinking more water. About three years ago, I started swapping out household and personal care products. When I’d finish one that had dyes, fragrance, SLS, phthalates, carcinogens, chemical sunscreen, et al, I’d replace it with a clean alternative that had none of those unhealthy ingredients. Little by little, I swapped and switched every cleaner, detergent, soap, moisturizer, shampoo, cosmetic, and bath gel for something cleaner. Something better. 

If I hadn’t cleared my system out from all the yuck, my body would not have been able to respond as completely or quickly as it did. 

So before you seek the perfect diet, exercise plan, or trainer, start reading ingredients. On your food AND everything else as well. 

The bathroom cabinets. The makeup drawer. The shelf in the shower. 

Once I started being the gatekeeper of my home, I didn’t know it yet, but I was priming the pump.

I am here to help more women do the same. Prime the pump in order to get their health flowing. If that's you, come join our private Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/smallstepsandselfcare..

Our community of women is locking arms and moving forward happier, healthier, and becoming more every day exactly the women that we were created to be. Looking forward to meeting you! 

XO, La Sheonda

Meal Prep THIS, and the Rest Will Be Easy...

Meal Prep THIS, and the Rest Will Be Easy...
Looking to dive into meal prep? Meal prepping can be a huge time saver. And because it helps me use what I have on hand, as well as using what I have on hand before it has to get thrown out, it also saves money. That's a win-win people!

The key to successful meal prepping starts with knowing what you have. If you have not yet read the post on making an inventory of your pantry, fridge, spice cabinet, and freezer, that is hugely helpful in getting the meal prep process started. You can find it here.


The next step is to knock out the items that take the most time to cook. For most of us, this is the protein. Chicken thighs, roast, turkey legs, meatloaf--it all takes time. And on a weeknight with a significant other and kids, that is something we just don't have. This is where meal prepping, especially the meal prepping of your proteins, will save the day.

At least once a month, I  have a meal prep Sunday where all I do is meat. I start thawing our meat, if frozen, in the refrigerator on Friday night. Then on Sunday morning, it's go time. I use my stovetop, my oven, and my Instant Pot. If you do not have an Instant Pot yet, you need this tool in your life. You can scoop yours up on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2HwxoOB..


Since variety is needed to get through the month, Meat Prep Sunday covers all the bases at our house. I will cook up some seasoned ground beef, some ground Italian sausage, of course a good amount of bacon, bone-in chicken thighs or turkey legs, boneless skinless chicken breast, pork chops, and some chicken drumsticks. I also prep at least one roast or pork tenderloin for the crock pot. Phew! That's a lot of meat! These are what our family likes--use what you love and include as much or as little variety as you like. (NOTE: We love seafood, but do not include it in most meal preps. Seafood will generally cook up very quickly, so if you are a seafood fan, you can cook that up the night of, and it will be perfect and quick!)


I get my Instant Pot going for chicken and pork chops, preheat the oven chicken thighs, and heat my skillet up to sauté ground meat and bacon. Once everything is cooked, I load up some labeled freezer bags so that I can pull out what is needed for a meal at a glance. 

Then when it is meal time, a pot of noodles can be boiled in just a few minutes to go with the protein of choice for that night. It is easy to cook up whole meals in advance--and we do that often!--but this Meat Prep Sunday allows for so much flexibility, that it is a no-brainer for us. Bon appetit!


More ideas and help for meals and health and family are in our free Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/smallstepsandselfcare.. Hope in there and say HEY!

XO,
La Sheonda

Do this ONE Thing Before You Start Meal Prepping. . .

Do this ONE Thing Before You Start Meal Prepping. . .
Weekly meal prep was something I always intended to do. Wanted to do. Planned to do. But I never did it. 

I was busy. I didn't have time. I wasn't sure what to make. I had all the excuses. In truth, I just needed to put a couple things in place, and meal planning became, dare I say it, EASY. If this is something that you have struggled with, you are here for a reason! 

Before you even think about WHAT you will eat this week, or HOW to make it, you need to know what you have. This sounds like a no-brainer, but most of us never give this piece enough thought. The game-changer here is a running inventory. I have one for my pantry, my fridge, my freezer, and my spice cabinet. You can go as fancy or as simple as you like with this. I found the old school method of a legal pad and a pencil work best for me. I have seen inventories on Excel spreadsheets, notes on a phone, in an inventory app, but for me, good ol' pencil and paper work best. 

Once you inventory what you already have, make a list of meals that work for you. What do you like? What will cook in the timeframe you have? Do you have a family, spouse, roommate, or others for whom you cook? What are their preferences? This is not time to plan for the upcoming week. This is what you already know and love in general. Have a family recipe for pasta sauce? Jot that down. Love that pasta salad you've tweaked since college? Add it to your list. 
Once you have your inventory completed and meals that work for you written down, now it's time to focus on THIS week. You are ready to move forward with the confidence of knowing what you have, what you know, and what you have time for. 

Here's where it gets fun! What sounds delicious? What can be crafted with what you have on your inventory? Would you like to branch out from your meal list to something fun and unknown? Lately, I have been adding more Asian-inspired dishes to my repertoire. That used to be WAY outside of my comfort zone. Pick five meals you would like to make for dinner. 
But there are seven days in the week? I choose to do five meals most weeks because there usually is an event that comes up for us to eat out, and we always have at least one day's worth of leftovers as a family. Pick the number that works for you, but five is a great starting point. 

We have tons of other hacks and tips for healthy eating, weight loss, and living fully in our free Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/smallstepsandselfcare.. We look forward to meeting you in there.

XO, 
La Sheonda

Have Your Pasta and Eat It, Too!

Have Your Pasta and Eat It, Too!
What if our family does not eat pasta?

I hear this question a lot. And it could be for a number of reasons. Dad is trying out the Keto diet. Again. Or junior has a gluten intolerance. Or mom and her book club are eating paleo this month alongside the heroine in their latest read. Whatever the reason, you’ve got options.
As a part of my health and wellness journey, I tried all the pasta substitutes. We tried chickpea pasta, rice noodles, Zoodles, quinoa, and my personal favorite, the spaghetti squash. While I love them, my kids will not eat the chickpea pasta, no matter how much cheese is involved. Rice noodles are great, but a high-carb option. Zoodles are delicious but labor intensive for prep, and I find that they can get mushy if not done correctly. Quinoa is great for protein and flavor, but it is just not pasta.

And then there’s our friend, spaghetti squash.

This gourd was literally made for this. The first time my oldest daughter watched me prep a spaghetti squash after roasting it, she asked me what cutter I used to cause to squash to come out in noodle form. She just could not believe that it actually just grew that way. Nature is a lovely thing, my friend.

Spaghetti squash not only has long strands to curb even your strongest pasta desires; it is also delicious when roasted. Plus, this veggie has way more fiber than traditional pasta and is significantly lower in carbs. Win-win for my keto friends!
The flavor of the spaghetti squash is just a touch sweet (but don’t worry—much less sweet than a butternut squash!), so it blends well with the flavor of any sauce you choose to add after roasting and scraping out the squash from the skin.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

  1.     Preheat your oven to 400° F. While the oven heats up, time to prep your squash.
  2.     Slice your squash in half. Use a chef’s knife to cut around the squash lengthwise. Spaghetti squash skin is tough, so    work slowly and carefully.
  3.     Scoop out the seeds and stringy membranes with a spoon. Just be careful not to dig into the flesh of the squash in the process.
  4.     Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  5.     Place the squash in a baking dish, cut side down.
  6.     Roast spaghetti squash for 30-45, depending on the size of your squash. Smaller squash will cook more quickly than larger squash. You can check the squash after 30 minutes of roasting to see how tender it is. The squash is done when it is tender enough for a fork to easily penetrate from the top of the flesh to the skin.
  7.     Scrape the strands out with a fork.
  8.     Serve immediately, tossed with butter or olive oil. We love ours with our homemade marinara or Bolognese! For busy moms on a packed weeknight, I like this jarred sauce in a pinch: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FQGP20Q/ref=as_sl_pc_tf_til?tag=lasheonda-20&linkCode=w00&linkId=c33699fa1d6925237864350d2cfc543b&creativeASIN=B00FQGP20Q
Lots more healthy ideas in our free Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/smallstepsandselfcare.. Jump in there and say HI to the awesome community. 

XO, 
La Sheonda