Category Archives: Dessert

My First Guest Interview: Kelly’s 25 lb. Weight-loss Journey

When you live for the weekends, a Monday holiday is like finding an extra $20 in your pocket. Even more so when they involve visits from college buddies, new juice bars, 15-mile runs, and frozen yogurt.

But I’m not here for a weekend recap (surprisingly enough!)……

I have my first (hopefully of many more to come!) guest interview for you and I’m pretty excited about it! I would LOVE to have a whole series of interviews with inspirational guys & girls on their own fitness perspectives and stories.

*Okay, okay full disclosure: today’s guest interview is Kelly a.k.a. my mom. With good reason! Kelly has been an active and balanced health-conscious woman for my entire life, but noticed after her 40th birthday that the indulgences went up and the workouts went down. When her company office kicked off it’s own Biggest Loser competition, she competed for 14 weeks against 20 other women to WIN the title and LOSE approximately 25 pounds. Two months later, she’s kept the weight off and increased her running from a 5k to a half marathon!

After feeling like she was stuck in the same rut with her weight and running for 5 years, she shattered her personal goals for both during the 14-week competition. What’s most impressive is her commitment to running, cooking clean and leading a well-balanced healthy lifestyle after the competition. Her determination and success inspired ME and I wanted to share her story so that she can inspire you too :)

So with that introduction, here is my interview with Kelly!

Strong Like My Coffee Guest Interview Kelly's 25lb. Weight Loss Journey Stronglikemycoffee.comStrong Like My Coffee: Hi! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. Your steady weight loss and weight maintenance over the past 5 months is incredible. As your daughter, I can tell that you are more confident in a bikini, workout clothes, and tight dresses, which is so great to see. Can you please provide a brief summary of the details surrounding the Biggest Loser competition you participated in?

Kelly: The women in my office create their own “Biggest Loser” contest once a year. It’s 12-13 weeks, $20 to enter, and a $5 penalty if you gain weight at a weekly weigh in. The weekly weigh-in results are sent out in e-mails and those results definitely helped to keep me motivated. The top 3 winners (biggest percentage of body weight lost) split the ending pot. I had my own goal of getting back to a weight that I hadn’t seen in the last 12 years. For me it was about size and comfort. I wanted to look like I did when I was in my early 30’s and I wanted to dress like I was in my early 30’s!

SLMC: Congratulations on reaching your goal! What was the turning point where you thought “I need to make a healthier change to my lifestyle”?

Kelly: My clothes were getting tighter and tighter so I started wearing loose and baggy tops to hide my growing muffin top and when this became my normal routine I felt very frumpy and knew I had to do something about it. I wasn’t comfortable with my added weight and I’m too young to dress frumpy!

Guest Interview with Kelly -- 25lb. Weight Loss, Training for a Half Marathon, and Indulging in Moderation

SLMC: In total, how much weight did you lose? Where did you notice the biggest improvements to your body?

Kelly: I lost 23 pounds. At first it was my upper body that showed the most change. My arms were getting significantly smaller and then it showed in my waist as my pants were now baggy and too loose.

Kelly's Guest Interview 25lb. Weight Loss Journey and Running Success

SLMC: Aside from weight and numbers, you saw amazing improvements in your fitness level throughout this process. I watched you go from struggling to run 3 miles to now easily logging 8, 9, 10+ miles on Sunday mornings. You pushed past that plateau! What are some of the biggest “milestones” you hit during this period?

Kelly: The milestones came every few weeks; I used to dread the stair master and could only do about 10 minutes without taking a break, but during this contest, I pushed myself to 20 continuous minutes. The stair master still kicks my ass but it pushes me the hardest, and therefore I do it at least once a week.

Another challenge for me was the ability and stamina to continuously run 4 to 5 miles. When I first started running, I plateaued at a 5k. For years I hovered around that 3-mile mark.  I have made dramatic progress in the last several weeks pushing myself from 3 to 4 miles; then 5 miles right to 7; the next week I pushed myself to 9 and this week I’m looking to crush a 10 mile run!  It’s actually fun to see just how far I can push myself and it’s extremely exhilarating to conquer such an intense goal.
Guest Interview with Kelly 25lb. Weight Loss Journey, from 5k to Half-Marathon, and Daily Meal Plan

SLMC: That is incredible, and obviously I love to hear another family member describe running as “fun.” ;) I don’t know anyone who has gone from 3 to 10 miles so quickly. You inspire me!

During the contest, what are some of the things that kept you motivated to continue losing weight for 12+ weeks?

Kelly: I was originally motivated to lose enough weight to fit back into some favorite clothes that no longer fit, as well as to buy some new outfits.  About half way into the contest I was in the top 3, which then motivated me to move from 3rd place to 2nd and then of course from 2nd to 1st.  I found that I have a competitive side that I didn’t know existed and it really took over the last month of the contest.  By the end of these 3 months, I could see that my endurance level had definitely been kicked up a few notches.  It felt great to push myself to new limits, reach my original goal, set higher goals, and crush those goals as well. The last week of the competition was high intensity cardio twice a day and I pushed myself harder than I thought possible.   It literally paid off!

SLMC:  Of course when you are working to lose those “last few pounds,” you have to really tighten up the nutritional quality of your daily snacks and meals. I know that you re-evaluated some of your little habits and decreased your sodium/sugar intake. What was the most difficult habit to break?

Kelly: Munching on ‘leftovers’ as I packed them up, or if there wasn’t really enough to save, I would eat it to avoid throwing it away. Kinda like when I used pack your lunches in elementary school and you only wanted a half or 3/4 of a sandwich and I would eat the rest of it to avoid tossing it.

Night out in Savannah GA (

SLMC: You say that you never fully deprived yourself and enjoyed many splurges during the Biggest Loser contest, but still managed to consistently lose weight/body fat. What are your typical indulgences?

Kelly: I HAVE to have a daily dose of dark chocolate – no exceptions.  My go-to is either Dove Dark or Girahdelli dark chocolate squares. I always have a bag on hand. I love iced coffees and thanks to you, I now order the Americano with sugar free caramel or sugar free vanilla which is only 15 or so calories and tastes like heaven! During the 13 weeks of the contest I must have eaten out at least 15 times. Sit down restaurants, fast food joints, parties, as well as BBQ’s with friends. Just about every restaurant now offers a healthy or light menu and to me those options are as perfect as they are filling. I love trying new foods and dishes so it was fun to choose something different from each menu. Following some of these indulgences I would of course feel a little guilty about the upcoming weigh-in so I upped the interval cardio to burn more calories in a session and off-set those additional treats.

Brunch with Mama at Sarahbeth's (

SLMC:  What is your typical breakfast/lunch/dinner?

Kelly: Breakfast is Coaches Oats – hearty oatmeal and I add in a heaping spoon of cinnamon and either banana slices or strawberries. Lunch varies since I don’t like the same thing day after day; a yogurt parfait (yogurt, almost slices, cinnamon and fruits such as banana, strawberry, peach/nectarines) and some sort of crunchy snack like pretzels, sun chips or Peppridge Farms Goldfish crackers. I always eat an apple in the morning and in the afternoon – keeps me from eating candy and/or other junk food. I love plain rice cakes smothered in PB Fit and dinner is always a veggie, a salad and some sort of protein (Chicken, chickpea burger, salmon, or black bean burger).

Our weekly go-to is spaghetti squash with my homemade turkey/veggie balls and a light marinara sauce. Veggie stir fry makes it’s way into our weekly rotation quite often too. A typical healthy dessert has been an 80 calorie Yoplait yogurt with a few berries and a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips or a 40 calorie fudgsicle. So light in calories and yet satisfies the dessert cravings.


Healthy Teriyaki Turkey Burgers with Grilled Pineapple | Blog

SLMC: How did you celebrate your victory!?

Kelly: I had been craving a loaded pizza from BJ’s with a pitcher of beer for quite some time, but when it came to victory night, I had no desire for the beer and while the pizza was good, it didn’t live up to the hype in my head.

And now a lightning round:

  1. Cocktail or Chocolate – Chocolate every time!
  2. Sweet or Salty – Salty and preferably crunchy!
  3. Morning Workout or Evening – Morning, it feels so good afterward and makes for a better day.
  4. Burpees or Plank – Hmmm, both kick my butt but I can do both pretty damn good now, so I’d say Burpees.
  5. Flavored water or plain – Definitely plain.
  6. Coffee or tea – There was time when I would have said iced tea, but thanks to you, I’ve become quite adicted to coffee now.
  7. Weights or cardio – Depends on my mood when it’s time to work out, but I probably lean more towards cardio.
  8. Strong Like My Coffee of Facebook {trick question ;)} HA, Stronglikemycoffee hands down every time!

Thanks, Kelly! You’re a rock star!

***Kelly’s diet and exercise plan were successful for her but everyone is different! My interview isn’t intended to promote her meal plan, but rather her discipline and determination to reach a goal, as well as the confidence her success brought!***

One more thing that Kelly said in our interview that I absolute HAVE to share:

“When I was running, of course it was hard and I was trying not to give up. And I just thought, ‘we know or we hear about so many people who are sick, who have cancer, who are fighting diseases, who have some physical disability, and here I am with a healthy and able body. I better enjoy it and challenge it because I CAN.’ And I’m thankful for that.”

Hope you liked this little change-up, but I’ll be back with normal workout/recipes again this week :)


Healthy College Girl Meal Plan

I did a little “data digging” on the behind-the-scenes end of the blog this past weekend. The site statistics allow me to view some “analytics” around my readers (no, no specific names or locations…your identity is safe! Haha) like which pages get the most views and which search results brought readers to my website. Reading through the search keywords that lead people to was surprisingly entertaining. Here’s a few of the completely random search results that brought readers to …

  • “I feel like a pig” (I’m sorry you had to Google this. :( But I’m assuming it took you to my Farrell’s Ice Cream Post —-> Sunday Sundae and the Pig’s Trough)
  • “Can girls hike” (Ummm it’s 2015, girlfriend.)
  • “Snacks for a Coffee party” (I want to be your friend!)
  • “Fruit in Disguise” (I’m intrigued)
  • “Do I have to workout on Sundays?” Not sure that Google is the best source for that one!
  • More than one “Easy Diets” (Easy + Diet? Hah!)
  • And a surprising number of searches for “Pumpkin Bra

Out of the 26,000 search results in the past  2 years, 10% have been some variation of “healthy college meal plan” or “college diet for girls.” First: hate the word diet. I don’t follow any specific food trends or fad diets (unless someone has coined a fancy term for balancing-a-healthy-dose-of-leans-and-greens-with-equally-healthy-doses-of-graham-crackers-and-chocolate-pretzels). ;)

My daily meals and snacks are pretty consistent, full of fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. Because so many “healthy college meal plan” searches lead to this page, (and I don’t want you falling victim to the Banana Girl Diet) I thought I’d share a breakdown of what’s worked well for me:

Healthy College Meal Plan on College Fitness Blog

  • Everyday begins with a cup of coffee within 32 seconds of waking up.
  • 8:00am breakfast at the office:
    • Steel cut oats with half a banana, cinnamon, occasionally some blueberries, and unsweetened almond milk.
  • 10:00am snack:
    • Apple slices to quiet the growling belly
  • 12:00pm lunch:
    • Almost always a homemade yogurt parfait: non-fat yogurt with ½ banana sliced, almond slivers, strawberries, and whatever other fruits we have at home like nectarines, pears or mangos. Plus a crunchy snack like a serving of honey whole wheat pretzels, cinnamon graham crackers or ½ a protein bar like Quest Bars, Luna Bars, or Larabars.

Healthy College Girl Meal Plan | Clean Eating for College Students |

  • Afternoon snacks:
    • square of dark chocolate with an iced coffee.
    • Pre-gym snack: Rice cake with PBFit (powdered peanut butter, 55 calories for 2 Tbs.)
  • Dinner:
    • Salad (Greens, bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, sometimes avocado, whatever fruit is in season, lite vinaigrette), roasted or grilled sweet potato circles, and a veggie burger (rotating black bean burgers, quinoa burgers, and garden medley burgers.)

Healthy College Meal Plan | Clean Eating for College Students |

  • Dessert:
    • (Unless we’ve gone to the gym pretty late, I almost always have dessert. I have a perpetual sweet tooth.) Could be a homemade peanut butter chocolate chip energy bite, square of Ghiradelli dark chocolate, or some dry cereal.
  • P.S.:
    • SO SO much water all day. Dehydration can have nasty effects.  I would say I drink about 75 ounces a day. (But sweat out about 40, hah!)
    • Limit alcohol. I love a fruity cosmo as much as the next college girl but the effects that alcohol has on the body keep me from regularly sipping the sangria. I save my alcohol splurges for special social occasions, and I always try to lighten the drink and sip lots of water to prevent its dehydrating effects!
    • I can’t drink my coffee black so I add in about a tablespoon of non-fat non-dairy creamer, but if you like your coffee sweeter, try stevia instead of sugar!
    • Restaurant calorie and nutrition information can be off by about 10% and typically include more oils and salt than you would add yourself. Packing lunches and snacks for the majority of the weekdays is the healthiest way to go, if you ask me!

Clean eating in college requires a little more effort, grocery shopping and washing/cutting all the extra produce. You can’t argue that packaged goods are more convenient but I think it’s absurdly obvious that our country is in a huge health crisis when you see the average size growing and growing every year. I wish we put more of a focus on the quality of nutrition and the impact it has on every part of our life! Eating healthy in college is like an investment in your future, and after you begin making a cleaner meal plan, it just becomes a habit. You start to no longer crave the icky fried foods and sugary drinks because you know they won’t make your body feel good.

Shrimp Salad from TK Bar ( that’s a typical work day meal plan for me. Maybe that will be more useful for those of you googling “healthy college girl meal plan” I hope? I’m about to play tourist in Wilmington, NC and do some potential future-hometown huntin’….. can’t wait to share more later! :) I-40 California to Carolina |


XOXO Kenz.

#TBT 11: Happy 4th of July!

This #ThrowbackThursday is feelin’ like a Friday because it’s a holiday weekend, heeeey! :)

And because I’ve been so busy with all sorts of other projects, I’ll be making this year’s red, white & blue recipe on 4th of July. So I have a little throwback post with last year’s light and refreshing summertime dessert that is perfectly patriotic.

I’m really looking forward to a three day weekend because those Monday mornings come around way too fast! I have plans to work on a couple blog-related projects (hint: protein popsicles), hit up a new restaurant, try out a local young adult church group for the first time, and start packing for NORTH CAROLINA (!!!!). Plus take advantage of getting my workouts done in one session per day instead of splitting them up half before work, half after. But before we get too carried away with weekend plans, I bring you today’s throwback blog post:

Fresh 4th of July Dessert!

Originally Posted: June 23rd, 2014

4th of July means a Friday off of work to celebrate. If you’re making a festive and patriotic menu (nothing like a theme party, right!?) then you’ve probably taken to Pinterest to plan. Red, White, & Blue Overload!

I contemplated dipped & decorated pretzel rods, a berry cobbler, and a parfait before deciding on cute fruit skewers. Who doesn’t love shish kabobs! (I actually just like the word “shish kabob.” SHISH KABOB. Okay I’m done.)

Fresh and Fun 4th of July Healthy Dessert  Dessert Kabobs from

This dessert is easy breezy because it takes 4 ingredients, minimal time & effort, and the skewers keep the portion control in check. Light, fresh, and beauuuuutiful if I say so myself.

Strawberry slices and whole blueberries are interupted with fat chunks of Angel Food cake. Angel Food cake mixes require only water. Can’t get much simpler than that. I set out a dish of light whip cream for dipping.

Healthy 'n Fresh Dessert for the 4th // Skewers! Stronglikemycoffee.comI like the simplicity and summery quality to this dessert.

Last year I brought you Light Cherry Berry “Pies” which I can’t wait to recreate now that cherries are back in the produce section. Loooooove me some summer fruits! I used to say without a doubt that peaches were my favorite summer fruit. Then it became a close tie with strawberries. Now I’m hooked on cherries…grapes…apricots…pineapple. I CAN’T CHOOSE. Luckily, I don’t have too. :)