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Consistency is Key

Well, it’s been nearly three months since the bikini show, and I am still hovering around my stage weight, except I am stronger now than on competition day, and I have a lot more energy.

It’s very hard to get into this sort of shape (this lean), but oddly, if you are just consistent with these two things, you can stay in shape:
1. Keep an honest food journal (I use My Fitness Pal) and a caloric deficit*.
2. Be active, stay active (for me that means lift 5 times a week and get a daily step count of 12,000).

*I try and meet specific macro goals, a higher protein, lower carb approach. One day a week, I splurge and don’t really track my calories, and a few nights a week I will drink (vodka or wine), but I carefully track six days out of seven. I no longer drink alcohol every night. I will have a Zero Sugar A&W instead. 😉

I try and do things socially where I am permitted to bring my own food. If you are on a weight loss/weight maintenance journey, it is much easier to be in a social situation when you don’t have to be pressured to “eat the birthday cake” or “partake in the office donuts”.

The third thing with which I have been supplementing my diet and exercise is Rockstar Skinny Gal Thermogenic Fat Burner. It was designed to assist with weight loss and boost energy. I have been taking Rockstar Skinny Gal for about three weeks, and it’s really helped me go the extra mile in my workouts and given me stamina throughout the day.

My biggest fear was putting on a ton of weight post-bikini competition, but with the help of consistent food journaling, a great workout routine, and Rockstar Skinny Gal in my tool box, I know I can maintain my “runway” look as long as I want! You can order some to try for yourself by clicking on this LINK!

Disclaimer: I was paid to try Rockstar Skinny Gal, results will vary from person to person. My opinions on the product are my own, and I really do LOVE it!

Meals and Weight Loss Tools

This is one of my colorful and tasty dinners from pretty early on (Thursday, April 14th) in my bikini competition training, and right after I started working with my coach Jodie Yuncker @jodiejfit_ifbbpro with FitBody Fusion.

At the time, I had 1,456 calories per day at my disposal, and my macro breakdown looked like this: 145g Protein, 120g Carbs, 44g Fat.

This meal is “Chicken Muffins with Rutabaga Fries” (331 Calories = 29g Protein, 40g Carbs, 8g Fat. The recipe for the Chicken Muffins (no flour or grains actually in the recipe–the name comes from the muffin pan you bake them in) is from The Protein Chef and is available on his website. It’s pretty much just canned chicken, eggs, and cheese with a few herbs and spices for flavor. A very attractive recipe for a low carb or keto diet person.

The “fries” are just chopped up rutabaga (to make them look like French fries) that I prepared in my air fryer–and if you are doing any type of weight loss program or competition prep, I HIGHLY recommend you invest in an air fryer!! It makes veggies crispy with hardly ANY added oil/calories, just a “shhhh shhhh” with your favorite aerosol oil spray so you aren’t spending all of your fat grams on cooking oil.

One more thing… I just LOVE the MyFitnessPal app. It’s so genius, and if you do it right, fail safe for weight loss, but you MUST also invest in a FOOD SCALE and you must BE HONEST with yourself and log every bite you eat. I say that in all caps because I AM YELLING AT YOU if you are on a diet and trying to keep a food journal WITHOUT a food scale. Another tip: Set the scale to “grams” versus “ounces” for ultimate accuracy.

That’s all for today… In summary, if you are looking to lose weight for any reason: Create a food journal (preferably one with an app so you can log on the go), get an air fryer, and get a food scale. You can get ALL of these combined for under $100 total, so I don’t want to hear about the expense. If cost really IS an issue, you can also pick up used items, and the basic My Fitness Pal app is FREE. Make nothing stand in your way. xo

The Day I Met My Coach…

Though I did a lot of things wrong in the early days of training for the bikini competition, I DID do something right.

On April 9th, I attended Spectrum Fitness Productions IFBB Pro League/NPC Northern California Golden State Championships to check out the show and to see if I REALLY wanted to compete. I mean, I thought I did, but I wanted to be sure.

In tandem with the show there was a posing seminar the night before, and I attended that, too. I really wanted to see the “behind the scenes”.

In attending the seminar and show, I was also going to try and meet others there/find a coach/find out more information. I had spoken with a few coaches in the weeks leading up to that, but was still coaching myself and sort of flailing…trying to figure out what my lifting/workouts/cardio would be. I was actually doing WAY TOO MUCH cardio and still running everyday, which is NOT how you train for a bodybuilding competition of any kind. I’ll get to that in a future post.

This post is about my coach, who I chose and met on April 9th. Jodie Yuncker @jodiejfit_ifbbpro, IFBB Pro Bikini Athlete and Coach for Fit Body Fusion. This is the routine she did during the Golden State show and shortly after she left the stage and was done with her portion of the show, I got to meet her. I just want you to see what I saw that day on the stage. The beauty and the grace. What really attracted me about her though, was her personality during the posing seminar. She was energetic, funny and cute!

After the Pro Bikini portion of the show, I had a chance to meet her. I told her about my crazy idea of participating in the Spectrum show on June 11th (to be held at the same venue) and that I would be turning 45 years old two days prior to it (June 9th) which would make me the youngest in the 45+ age division. I don’t know, but she probably thought I was a little “cray cray” and my idea was a little nutty. However, within 3 days of meeting, I was reporting to her as my coach and had a brand new workout plan as well as a nutrition plan to pair with it. I became an athlete with Team Fit Body Fusion!

In the Beginning…

…I did it all the WRONG way. 🤷🏻‍♀️

By the end of March, I had decided I would begin to train for the Spectrum Fitness Productions IFBB Pro League/NPC Northern California Bikini Competition on June 11th.

I didn’t realize that I needed to FIRST build up muscle and my body mass in general and THEN take off the body fat. To anyone out there that is sort of already lean and not very muscular, do not do what I did. It is VERY HARD to build muscle and LOSE body fat at the same time because the body needs to have a caloric surplus to GAIN muscle and a caloric deficit to LOSE fat. 🤦🏻‍♀️

But, at around 120 pounds, I began coaching myself (both nutrition and workouts) and started my “bikini” diet of 12 weeks with a daily calorie intake of 1,518, with a macro breakdown like this:
175g Protein • 124g Carbs • 40g Fat

Looking back, the calories were about right, but I was already depriving myself of too many carbs, which results in a less than stellar performance in the gym/not enough energy to lift heavy weights. 😩

Despite my mistakes early on, I did do a few things correctly and I did research HEAVILY. The idea of being in a bikini competition became my new pet project. I started listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos, following multiple people on social media that are coaches, athletes, etc.

I’d like to take this post to thank a few people from whom I gleaned a lot of information during my “self coaching” period of time. Thank you to @stephdorworth @paulrevelia @miss_ally.bobally @pnbapro_figure_mama3 @theremingtonjames @willtenny @teamelitephysique @lisettehoward_fitness @rahul__kamat — I learned useful information from every single one of you!

Pictured above is one of the dinner meals I made from time to time and I was still drinking wine every other night at the time: 2 ounces vodka (& diet soda of choice) and 10 ounces wine (roughly 2 glasses). This little number is BBQ chicken breast tenders with Ray’s No Sugar Added Original BBQ Sauce, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Acorn Squash. The meal clocks in at around 400 calories total, 54g Protein, 31g Carbs, 10g Fat.

I Dream of Bikini…


So this is where I started. Sort of. Resting b*tchface notwithstanding. 🤷🏻
I am going to be “vulnerable” (I guess is the right word) over the next few posts if that is OK with all of you. I also hope the people that follow me for food and wine will indulge me a bit and enjoy
another type of content for a while.
👙
These are the “before” pictures I took after I had already decided to do a bikini competition and I had been dieting, exercising, lifting, and coaching myself for three weeks. The pics were taken on March
25th–I had “officially” set off on my journey on March 14th, but had cut back on food and wine when we got back from Las Vegas on March 8th.
👙
Why did I do it? Well, why not? I guess I wanted to do something challenging, something that not everyone does, and something that would put me in the best shape of my life at the oldest I have ever been. And to be honest, I actually love how regimented the whole thing is. I always say you grow the most when you are the MOST uncomfortable.
👙
So I’m going to play this in reverse, from March until yesterday’s competition. I hope you enjoy my posts on this little ride I took out of my comfort zone and I hope it inspires you to get off the couch and live your life like there’s no tomorrow. My husband just said, “that sounds cliché” and it does. But, there’s so much out there to do and so little time. I’m NOT talking about just exercise. I’m talking about travel, or anything you think you “can’t” do for whatever reason. Here’s the thing, you WON’T if you don’t ever TRY.

Crackling Eggplant Slices with Cheesy Aubergine “Butter”

Today I competed in the Loomis Eggplant Festival Cooking Contest and won 1st place with my (original recipe) eggplant dish: Crackling Eggplant Slices with Cheesy Aubergine “Butter”. The name is derived from the incredible texture of the breading, and I also used “eggplant” in the name twice without actually doing it. Aubergine is the word for eggplant typically used in old world Europe. I also used eggplant twice in the recipe. First, with the fried slices, second, with the eggplant “butter”/spread on the top.

The thing is though, I was the only participant in this year’s contest. So, while I was happy to take home the 1st place certificate, participant ribbon, and the $100 cash for winning, it did not feel all that special to win by default. I was surprised that absolutely no one else entered!

What felt great was walking in downtown Loomis, and seeing a few hundred people out having a good time. The weather here at the end of September/beginning of October is next to perfect, and there were lots of families taking advantage of that and having good old-fashioned fun at the festival. I wish my mom had been there with me today to see it, but she lives in Ohio and absolutely does not like eggplant!

The cooking contest organizer (Mary Jane Perkins) encouraged me to come back next year, and I certainly hope to do so, even though I am not sure I could top my creativity this year or back in 2008 when I made a CAKE with eggplant and won 2nd place.

Here’s my “winning” recipe from today. I hope you’ll try it for yourself. If you do, please let me know what you think.


Crackling Eggplant Slices with Cheesy Aubergine “Butter”
Appetizer Category (Serves 6-8)

Eggplant Spread:
1/4 Cup Mascarpone Cheese
1/4 Cup Cream Cheese
2 Tbs Butter
1 Roasted Eggplant with Skin Removed
Lemon Juice
Sea Salt
You can prepare eggplant spread a day ahead of time. Slice an eggplant. lengthwise and drizzle it with olive oil. Roast in the oven at 425 for 45 mins and discard the skin. Scoop out the roasted flesh and place in a food processor with the mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, and sea salt. Pulse until completely blended. Set aside.

Fried Eggplant Slices:
1 Eggplant Sliced into Rounds
1 Cup Crushed Pork Rinds
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup Almond Flour
2 Eggs
Cracked Pepper

Combine pork rinds, cheese, and almond flour to create the “breading”. You’ll want to place the “breading” in a shallow container that will allow the slices to be dipped in. Slice the eggplant into rounds and salt, laying on paper towels to allow the excess moisture in the eggplant to seep out for 10 mins.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and when the eggplant has drained, dip the slices into the egg, and then into the breading.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet to bake, or prepare the slices in the air fryer. 350° in the oven until browned, or 370° in the air fryer for about 10 minutes.

Garnish:
Fresh Dill
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
1/4 Cup Capers

Meanwhile, fry the capers in olive oil until they become crispy and drain. Toast the pine nuts in a shallow pan until they become nice and toasty.

Top each fried/baked eggplant slice with some of the spread, and garnish with the crispy capers and toasted pine nuts. Top with fresh dill. Serve.

For the Undecided: My Recall Newsom Letter to 19 Newspaper Editors

I wrote the following a few weeks ago and sent to 19 different newspapers across California in the hopes it would be published as an op-ed piece in at least one of them (since it is a little long to be a letter to the editor). Of course, since the L.A. Times and the McClatchy rags are all pro-Newsom, it’s a little delusional of me to think I would stand a chance getting published. In fact, the Times and the Sacramento Bee sent me a rejection letter. And I was even rejected by two different editors (who I won’t mention by name) at the Sac Bee. I consider it a compliment.

Since I am a little impatient and time is of the essence, I decided I would use my own platform to publish my letter and use my own social media to push out, even though this blog and my audience is mostly interested in food, wine, and travel. Apologies in advance for this slight diversion. It will be over soon and I will go back to my normal content. Possibly from another state if Newsom is not recalled.

I have never been very vocal about politics in California, as I feel it is a losing battle. I am a registered Libertarian, and I am typically not liked (or trusted) by Democrats or by Republicans. I believe a lot of people in California say they are democrats or liberals because they want to be accepted by others. Most folks want to be looked at as “a good person” and someone who “does the right thing”. It’s a giant popularity contest in which I have no interest. You can clique-ity clack yourself on out of here. I do not care if I get canceled. I do not care if I am liked. I am completely used to being the freak, the weirdo, the outcast, the black sheep… But this time I am voting RED, baby!

So now it’s time for me to speak up if only for a moment. California, its residents, and virtually all of its small businesses are completely doomed if Gavin Newsom stays in office. He has FAILED our state on every level. If you care at all about the life you have now or had prior to his governorship, you will stand with me and vote “yes” on this recall.

-Kristy Harris, September 8th


My Letter to the Editor(s):

If you are voting “NO” on the recall, then this letter is not intended for you. You can skip to the next column or try your hand at today’s Sudoku puzzle.

I never thought much about our Governor until around April of 2020. Mind you, I did not help elect him in 2018, but I was supine and unsurprised when the “Gav Man” won the election. We are after all, a very blue state and apparently glutton for punishment.

I consider myself to be a reasonable person. So, when the “two weeks to flatten the curve” approach was announced, I was completely onboard to stay home (other than running outside for exercise instead of visiting my already shuttered gym). It was three weeks into the two weeks that I found myself looking at Gavin Newsom during his daily press conference with a bit of ambiguity. It dawned on me that he seemed to be enjoying the spotlight a little too much.

Many people turned on Gavin Newsom following his infamous dinner at The French Laundry in November of 2020, but my resentment towards him commenced all the way back in April of the same year. It’s around that time I realized the “State of Emergency” he had declared on March 4th, followed by the Stay-At-Home order on March 19th, was just a foothold on the way to declare himself king.

I was not fond of the way he began slinging executive orders like a pancake brunch cook (conveniently, while the Legislature was recessed for seven weeks). His 37 Executive Orders altered 175 state laws, completely sideswiping any of the lawmaking process.

My fury culminated on June 18th when the state-wide mask mandate was put into effect. Of course, make it mandatory to wear a mask right after you close a deal with China to produce them and profit from it. I’m only surprised the mandate did not specifically require N-95s, but maybe that would have been a little too obvious.

If I kept going on about why Gavin Newsom needs to go, it would prohibit me from telling you about the solution to him. That person is Assemblyman Kevin Kiley.

I have been following Kevin Kiley since June of 2020, over a year before he became a candidate to replace Newsom. It was at that time he and James Gallagher took Gavin Newsom to court and won, just one day before my birthday. For the first time, I felt like there was someone fighting for the people. I subscribed to Kevin’s blog “Capitol Quagmire” to get updates on the court cases, but really for entertainment purposes. Any person who could write so cleverly and deliver a weekly burn on the Governor was going to automatically gain me as a fan.

In January of 2021, Kiley wrote and published a book called “Recall Newsom, The Case Against America’s Most Corrupt Governor”. The book was released before Kiley had seriously considered running as Newsom’s replacement, and all the book’s profits went to the recall campaign. As I read over it, I can’t help but believe the man who wrote it must be destined to take the wheel.

Kevin Kiley is a graduate of Harvard (BA), Yale (Law Degree), and Loyola Marymount (Master’s in Secondary Education).

Before being elected to the State Assembly in November of 2016, Kevin was a Deputy Attorney General who represented the People of California in cases involving convicted felons. He has since authored legislation to protect victims of crime and support law enforcement. Assemblyman Kiley is ranked 100% by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association for his work in fighting new taxes and his support of Prop. 13. He does not take any funding from special interest groups, and he is the only 100% citizen-backed California elected official.

California needs a person who has already worked across party lines. Someone who will not forget the people who elected them. Someone who supports medical freedom of choice and upon election will immediately end the State of Emergency in California. Someone who knows good ideas don’t require force.

It was what Kevin Kiley said at a recent campaign speech that also got my attention:

“It’ll be back to basics. That will be the order of the day. Pave our roads, store our water, manage our forests, maintain our grid, fund our police, do the things government is supposed to do, do them well, and do nothing else.”

For non-Republican voters Kiley says, “Take a chance on change. If you don’t like the way things turn out, you can always vote for a return to corruption and racketeering next year.” I am a Libertarian, but still feel that Kevin Kiley is the appropriate choice to repair the hot mess that is current state of California.

It seems uncomplimentary to refer to Mr. Kiley as a waste management technician, but I am sure once elected he’ll be ready to take out the trash that is Gavin Newsom.

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley is the brightest, most qualified candidate for the job and will be able to go to work for all Californians on day one. I hope you will join me in voting YES on the recall of Gavin Newsom and voting for Kevin Kiley for Governor of California. 

Kristy Harris
Curtis Park, Sacramento

August 29th, 2021

Zamir Gotta of A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, and Parts Unknown, Visits Sacramento!

Zamir Gotta’s Peacemaking Happy Hour featuring his Zamir Vodka was held on July 16th at Easy Diner and Bar in Sacramento. Guests were treated to samples of his Russian vodka, Russian themed appetizers, and a question and answer session with the audience.


Zamir also took photos with several guests and auctioned off 3 autographed bottles of his peacemaking elixir. The following is a few snippets of video of the event, as well as some photos I cobbled together taken by myself and friends who were there. What a fantastic and memorable evening!

Special thanks to Elizabeth Barthel for the videos and taking the cover photo of this video.

Zamir Gotta’s Website: https://zamirgotta.com/
Zamir on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zamirgotta/
Zamir on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZamirGotta

Enjoy Zamir Vodka at Easy Diner & Bar:
1725 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95818

Easy Diner & Bar Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/easy.diner….
Easy Diner & Bar Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Easy.Diner.Bar

A Wine and Art Lover’s Dream: Vannatta Winery & Gallery

Do you love wine and art? I know I do! What a treat it was to visit Vannatta Winery and Gallery (located in Elk Grove, about 25 mins from Sacramento). In this episode of Table Talk with Kristy Harris, I interviewed Steve Vannatta, the owner and winemaker, and Liliana Rodriguez, the winery’s artist, wholesaler, and marketing manager.

Find Vannetta Winery online here:
https://www.vannattawinery.com

And on social media here:
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/vannattawine/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/vannattawinery

Life with Alopecia: My Makeup Routine

Happy #transformationtuesday
In a quest for authenticity in a world full of filters and special effects, I present to you today my makeup routine (before and after). This is how I do my makeup any time I leave the house other than to go to the gym or run errands (during which I don’t mind being seen au naturel). It’s in essence a makeover on a daily basis, although for my mental health, I try to build in a few days a week during which I go makeup free and accept the person in the mirror without any modifications.

A little background: It’s been nearly 20 years since I lost my hair to Alopecia Universalis. It began in spring 2002… I had a moderate to severe case of acne, mainly affecting my chin and jawline. The acne problem was painful, and I couldn’t mask it with makeup, so under a dermatologist’s care, I began a treatment of antibiotics. The drug regimen worked, but eventually I reacted to the drug I was taking (minocycline). I was admitted to the hospital in July and misdiagnosed with Lyme disease. The physician to which I was assigned prescribed doxycycline, and I was given it intravenously, which ultimately led to a more severe reaction. Once the IV was removed, I recovered almost immediately, and after another week, I was released from the hospital.

Three months later (October), I noticed the hair on my arm was missing, and then a few days later, my eyebrows and eyelashes started to shed. Eventually, the hair on my head began to fall out and by Christmas there was hardly anything left.

Links to the makeup and hair piece I used in the video:

Acne Safe Priia Stick Foundation

Acne Safe Liquid Foundation

Acne Safe Powder Foundation

Setting Powder

Setting Spray

Eyebrow Pencil

Eyebrow Paint

Eyebrow Hairs

Eyeliner

Eye Shadow

Lashes

Lash Glue

Lip Liner

Lip Gloss

Hairpiece

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