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Sunday, January 19, 2014

A new approach on eating to gain muscle & a chipotle pumpkin chicken stew

I'm not changing out of yoga pants today, and I don't feel guilty at all about that. Sundays are made for being lazy. Plus, my weekend was entirely overstimulating and chock-full of awkward situations, far too little sleep, and new-to-me people and places. But I'm saving that for tomorrow's Marvelous in my Monday post, so you'll just have to wait for the details.

One thing that I have accomplished this week was doing a little research on putting some structure into my eating routine to gain weight and build muscle. I really struggle with knowing how much food is enough, especially when it comes to carbs. The problem is that I basically cut out most non-vegetable and non-fruit carbs for a while when I revamped my lifestyle in college. My body and tastebuds just stopped craving them. Now, after years of trying to gain back some of that weight, I finally started to become more comfortable with increasing my carb intake and have found some foods I really enjoy. The problem remains that I just don't know how much my body actually needs to repair and build muscle, so I tend to severely overeat at night when I look back on my daily intake and realize I haven't really consumed any whole grains. This usually appears in the form of me eating an entire bag's worth of chips or several bowls of cereal without even necessarily feeling hungry, but eating because I'm panicking that my body didn't get enough fuel and I'll lose the precious little muscle I have been able to build. Kind of a ridiculous notion, I know.

The point of my mini-rant is that I really need to implement some more structure into my eating routine in order to retrain my brain and body to know what it needs. After reading several articles about the benefits of carb-cycling, I've determined that this is probably a good dietary guideline for me to follow. I've found this article on FitnessRX to be very informational.

Basically, there are several ways to structure carb-cycling, including high carb, moderate carb, and low carb days based on my workout schedule, with fat intake in contrast to carbs and high protein intake on all days.

My rough weekly plan is:

Sunday - 9am Total Fitness, 10am yoga; high carb day
Monday - 6pm Vinyasa yoga, 7:15pm hot yoga; moderate carb day
Tuesday - 6:30pm Yoga Fusion; high carb day
Wednesday - 7pm Tone & Crunch (kettlebells and TRX); high carb day
Thursday - off; low-moderate carb day
Friday - off; low carb day
Saturday - 8:30am yoga fusion, 9:45am vinyasa yoga; high carb day

So I'll follow a high carb, lower fat diet on the days I'm lifting weights. I found this meal plan example helpful in giving me an idea of what a day's intake should look like on both low and high carb days, though I'd aim to consume closer to 2000 calories daily rather than 1400. This week I am going to come up with a meal plan for myself to follow and ideally I'll start carb-cycling next week officially. We'll see if I can stick to it.

For dinner tonight, my lazy self was motivated enough to throw some pantry ingredients into a crockpot and call it cooking a meal. I loosely followed this recipe from A Teaspoon of Happiness, tweaking here and there based on what I had for ingredients and quantities.

Crockpot Chipotle Pumpkin & Chicken Stew


1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
1 15-oz can black beans, undrained
2 or 3 medium sized boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp minced garlic
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 large handfuls of kale (I used about 1/2 the bag pictured)
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
2 tsp adobo sauce (from the can of peppers)
salt & pepper

Dump all the ingredients into a crock pot over the chicken breasts, adding spices to suit your tastes (I used a lot of cumin and cilantro, but very little salt). Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove the chicken, shred with a fork, and return to crockpot to cook on low for at least 2 hours. Serve with shredded cheese, if you're into that.

Super easy, super filling, and super delicious. #supersoupsunday haha

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