Guilt-Free Orange Chicken + Leg Day Circuit

I’m back from vacation! I spent most of last week (Monday-Thursday) in Playa del Carmen soaking up a little too much sun and taking a much-needed break from my usual routine in celebration of Ryan’s birthday. We had a blast lounging on the beach, playing basketball in the pool, snorkeling, and indulging in the “all-inclusive” life for a short while. There was 6:30AM room service delivery, unlimited everything (margaritas, food — whatever we wanted, basically) a gorgeous golf course for Ryan to play, and an incredible spa for me to take advantage of, all on one of the most beautiful hotel properties I’ve ever seen (in pictures or in person). This was the view from our balcony and the small lobby below our room:


Breathtaking. I could’ve stayed for another 3 or 4 days, but I’m really glad to be back into my routine. Nothing was “off limits” while we were there — we had steak and lobster the first two nights, buffets, lots of wine, lots of tequila, and dessert every single night. Granted, the portions were far smaller than what most people are used to here in the states — I still was eating way more junk food than usual. I could definitely feel the impact on my body after day 1.

I wasn’t falling asleep as easily, I felt super bloated, I was sluggish, and my face broke out pretty terribly. When I start pumping unhealthy food into my body these days, it more than shows — it feels just plain crappy! BUT, I don’t feel guilty about any of it. :o) After all, it was only 4 days. I haven’t stepped on the scale because I know that my body is probably still retaining water/bloated from the trip, so my weight is likely inflated and would probably de-motivate me if I saw it. The fit of my jeans and how I feel matter more to me than the number, anyway. Pants fit just as well as they did a week ago, I have a sun-kissed glow (or wickedly-peeling post-sunburn glow… Whatever), and I feel completely rejuvenated. I’ll weigh next week after I’ve had a few “normal” days behind me. Vacations are GOOD. My goal of the trip was to unwind and enjoy a couple of uninterrupted days spending quality time with the boyfriend, and we did exactly that.

20140701-141832-51512952.jpg20140701-141833-51513678.jpgI did sneak in a couple of trips to the weight room before we left and while we were there, and I was more active walking around and/or swimming than I am during any other normal work week. However, my Friday and Saturday workouts at Synergy post-vacation were BRUTAL. It really made me appreciate what having a healthy eating routine does for my workouts: I can lift more, go faster with more focus, and my endurance is far better when my body is fueled properly. Circuits after eating chips, queso, margaritas, and ice cream for 4 days was treacherous. This morning was the first time that I felt like I was getting back into the swing of things. I woke up at 5:30am for part 1 of leg day and burned a solid 617 calories doing this killer ladder circuit:

10: 10 jump squats
9: 9 sumo squats w/ 50lb DB
8: 8 back squats (175lb)
7: 14 single-leg dead lifts w/ 15lb DBs (7 each side)
6: 6 lateral raises w/ 15lb DBs
5: 20 hip bridges on the leg extension machine (90lb)
4: 25 cable kickbacks (60lb)
3: 5 shoulder presses w/ 30lb DBs
2: 10 hanging leg raises
1: 1 minute plank

I started with 10, then moved onto 10+9, then 10+9+8, then 10+9+8+7… And so on until I got down the whole list. This took me about 50 minutes, and I took a couple of water breaks throughout. :o) Back at it!

Along with getting back into the workout routine, I experimented with a new recipe last night. I definitely missed cooking while I was on vacation, so creating something delicious really felt (and tasted) wonderful last night. This has a couple more ingredients than I’d usually aim to use and takes more than one pan (wah! extra dishes to clean), but the flavor is more than worth it.

Guilt-Free Orange Chicken

Nutritional Overview

Calories: 496
Carbs: 49
Fat: 15
Protein: 35

Serves: 1 full meal
Cook time: 40 minutes (30 marinating, 10 hands-on)




  • 5 oz. chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp pulp-free orange juice
  • 1/2 tbsp honey or agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce), divided
  • 1/2 tbsp Sriracha (eliminate if you don’t like spicy foods)
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup oat flour + 1 tbsp seasoning salt (NOT included in nutritional info, see step 4)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup stir-fry vegetables
  • 1/2 cup brown rice (cooked)
  1. Weigh out your chicken and cut into 1in. cubes
  2. Combine chicken broth, orange juice, honey, garlic, rice vinegar, 2 tbsp tamari, and Sriracha in a bowl to make your marinade
  3. Set aside half of the marinade. Add remaining portion and cubed chicken into a plastic bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes
  4. OPTIONAL: If you prefer a breaded texture for your chicken, combine optional oat flour and salt in a separate plastic bag. Dredge marinated pieces of chicken in flour mixture before proceeding to step 5
  5. Heat coconut oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add chicken to the pan and cook until browned on all sides (5-6 minutes). Discard bag of marinade that your chicken soaked in
  6. Heat the reserved half of your marinade in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a rolling boil
  7. Whisk together corn starch and water in a small bowl
  8. Pour corn starch mixture into your boiling sauce, reduce heat to low-medium, and continuously stir until you have an even, thickened sauce (you’ll see specks of garlic, but try to stir it well enough so that you don’t have chunks of corn starch)
  9. Add sauce to chicken and stir well
  10. Saute the stir-fry vegetables in remaining 1 tbsp of tamari
  11. Add vegetables and cooked brown rice to chicken/sauce
  12. Garnish with chopped green onions

NOTE: I tried this with the oat flour last night because I had a few extra carbs to fit in, but it didn’t make the recipe any better or worse in terms of the flavor. Next time, I’m leaving it out because I don’t really crave breaded things, and it was an additional (rather messy) step, but I think it’d be good either way. :o)

I hope you all have a great holiday week! Enjoy!


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