Friday, August 31, 2012

Fit Test and Other Stuff...

So I must admit that this last two weeks have been less than stellar for me as far as eating and working out goes.  My in-laws were in town and what to people do when they have people visiting?  They eat out.  A LOT.  They also don't find time or motivation to keep up with their workout routines.  Maybe this is just me.  *sigh*

When I have inactive times like this, it is so hard for me to get motivated to get back into the swing of things.  I still did my running club, but my muscle building activities and yoga poses were tucked away in some dark place.  In order to kick start it, I redid the Fitness Test that I got from to see just how far the last month has taken me and I must say, I was delightfully surprised by the results.  Even though I hadn't worked out all that well the last couple of weeks, the work that I did put in before that really helped.  I can't imagine what my results would have been had I not taken the time off.

My challenge to you today is to do the Fit Test for yourself to see where you are and then do it again in a few weeks for a sweet surprise (if you work out).

Fit Test:

I have an app on my phone called Interval Timer (free).  It allows me to set it for an alarm to go off after 50 seconds and then again after 10 seconds and I can have it repeat this as many times as you wish.  You can just look at a clock or watch with a second hand but it makes it more difficult because you're constantly watching the clock.

First up is squats.  Do these with no weight for the Fit Test.  Make sure you are keeping your back straight.  Even though you are doing it for time, it is important to keep proper form.  That means no bent back, no knees over your toes.  If you need the extra help, you could sit down on the end of a chair and get back up using only your legs.

Next is push ups; man or woman style.  I did it on my knees because my stomach still feels a little funny when I do them man-style because of the cesarean section I had just five months ago.

Then it comes to tricep dips.  I put my hands on the edge of the couch seat and have my legs out in front with feet on the floor and then lower yourself so that your elbows make a 90 degree angle.  The closer your feet are to your butt, the easier it will be.  To make it harder, go straight-legged.

Last is crunches.  These are your normal, knees bent with feet on the floor, hands cradling your hear crunches. Make sure to have proper form on these as well.

Your set will look like this:  squats, push ups, tri dips, crunches, squats, push ups, tri dips, crunches, squats, push ups, tri dips, crunches.  Rest 10 seconds between each exercise.  The whole Fit Test should take 12 minutes.  Have fun!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Recipes from this Week 8-5

My first recipe come from an older cookbook that I bought used on Amazon for a couple of bucks.  It kind of became my lifeline early in my marriage when I didn't have very much cooking experience.  I'm sure there will be many more recipes to come from it.  If you are interested, it is the "Quick & Healthy Recipes and Ideas" by Brenda Ponichtera.

Meat Patties
6 servings

1 lb. extra lean ground beef or ground turkey (*I used turkey)
1 egg
1/2 Tbl. dried parsley
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup fat free milk (*I use a little less depending on the consistency of mixture)
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. dried onion

Mix all ingredients.  Shape into 6 patties.  Bake in oven or over grill.

Oven:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Bake for twenty minutes.
Grill:  Cook, turning once, until done.

***NOTE:  I have found the consistency with turkey to be a little hard to keep in patty form so we make up several ahead of time and freeze them.  Then we just pop them onto the grill.  We have even halved the oatmeal with black beans for more of a nutritional punch and that was good!

Banana/Peanut Butter Smoothie (
Approximately two servings

1 well-ripened banana
2 tablespoons all natural peanut butter
1 1/2 cup fat free milk
1/2 fat free plain yogurt (I use Greek)
1 tablespoon of honey

Put in food processor or blender and mix.

***I used 1/2 cup of blueberries to substitute for the banana and that was also very tasty!

Black Bean Smothered Sweet Potato (Healthy Eating iPhone App)
2+ servings

2 large sweet potatoes or four smaller ones if you are using for a side dish or children
1 can rinsed black beans
1 large tomato, diced
2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt (cottage cheese works too)
1/4 cup green onion
cumin to taste
cinnamon to taste
olive oil

Clean up sweet potatoes and poke several times with fork.  Place in microwave for 12-15 minutes.

In a saucepan, pour some oil into pan and add beans, tomatoes, cumin, and cinnamon.  Cook on low until potatoes are done in microwave.

Open potatoes and add the bean/tomato mixture.  Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and green onions.  Enjoy!

Update: Once a Week...

If you read my earlier posts, you know that last Sunday I spent a couple of hours, chopping, dicing, cooking, boiling, baking, and steaming to get ready for the week of meals.  I have to say that all of that efforts were well worth it!  Throwing our meals together was so easy and took maybe 15-20 minutes each night.  It was also nice to have healthy options on hand for during the day, too, such as hard boiled eggs, quinoa, brown rice, and black beans.  It helped me get creative with my meals as well. 

Bottom line:  I would highly suggest getting all the prep work done for a week of meals on a day that you have the opportunity to do so.  It saved us a tremendous amount of time.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers


I've stated several times that I write this blog as motivation for myself as much as for anyone else.  I also reiterate that I'm a normal, mistake-makin' human.  I've been doing fairly decent on the nutritional aspect of getting as fit as I can become post-baby.  However, yesterday had a little pit fall.  I went to help a friend with her son that had just had surgery and asked her if she needed me to bring anything.  She asked if I cold bring her a chicken sandwich from Wendy's.  "I've got this," I thought over and over in my head as I reminisced of the juiciness of their Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, a favorite of mine and probably the only food I really craved towards the end of my pregnancy which really was only five months ago.  I thought about the veggies I had packed away in my bag for a snack and I thought about the hard, six mile run I had the night before.  I didn't want to jeopardize that.  I ordered the chicken sandwich and when the man asked me if that was all, "and two Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers" just flew out of my mouth!  I think I actually covered my mouth in shock as I said it and when he asked if that was everything, I contemplated telling him to forget the cheeseburgers but it was like a scene from Liar, Liar when all Jim Carey's character was trying to say what color the pen was.  It was like the foodaholic inside me reared up with a vengeance and had a firm grasp on my vocal chords!  Not only had I got one JBC, but TWO!  As I left the drive-thru, I felt guilty.  Like, really guilty.  Then I got to thinking, "Why do I feel so guilty about this?"

As women, we are flooded with images daily of what beautiful women should look like.  Even on Pinterest when I see a blog about fitness and nutrition, it's about how the person eats the same meals over and over and they seem so plain.  Oatmeal, grilled chicken breast and salad, fish and veggies.  That is so boring to me and I don't think it is realistic for everyone to eat that way.  The problem is, we see that and their body and get discouraged because we think we have to give up everything to look that good.  How sad is that?!  To the people who can scoff at dessert 365 days of the year and be fine eating plain veggies when invited over to your boss' house for dinner, good for you.  The rest of you, you are the majority.  You are not the only person who feels like you fail in this aspect.

Healthy Relationships...with food

I think that women have a love-hate relationship with food because we love how it tastes but we hate how it makes us look or feel after eating.  It's about retraining your body to crave the right kind of foods.  I've learned a lot in the past few months about eating for fuel and not for satisfaction.  My taste buds have adapted to my bag of veggies I eat every day to where I'm not forcing them down anymore.  Things that have a lot of sugar in them taste too sweet to me.  At first, it was miserable getting to this transformation and so far, one splurge hasn't made me go on any binges as they surely would have before.  Life needs to be about balance, so why would eating be any different.  You all know that you need to eat more veggies, whole grains, good protein but what about those days that you feel like you won't be satisfied until you have your junk food of choice?  Go ahead and have it and then get right back to how you should be eating.  Don't feel guilty about it because that will most likely cause another downfall.  I know that in the past I've thought, "since I already screwed up my good-eating today..." and then I eat everything in sight.  I will go to the grocery store and load up a basket of ice cream and processed cookies.  Everyone should get to a point where they can have their one splurge food, accept it, and move on.

While I was thinking about all of this in the drive thru waiting for my food at Wendy's, I became at ease with the fact that I ordered the cheeseburgers.  Now maybe I shouldn't have ordered TWO, but I made a vow to myself right there that I was going to enjoy every bite of those two burgers, lick the grease off the wrapper (I kid, I kid), and get on about my day without another thought towards satisfaction foods.  Food is the body's fuel.  If you really think about that, you will want to put in only the best.  Little splurges are not going to matter in the grand scheme of things.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


 how to cook quinoa
Today I wanted to highlight a whole grain (er, seed) that a lot of people still don't know that much about.  I grew up in a small town in southern Idaho where we were very much a meat and potatoes kind of family.  Our food was never very creative and we very seldom branched out and tried something new.  However, I was never much of a meat eater.  I don't really know why this is.  I love animals and even gave up hunting with my dad because I just felt bad about killing animals.  I once hit a squirrel while driving and pulled over just to mourn the loss and apologize to the squished lil' guy.  I'm not anti-hunting or anti-meat eating.  I understand that people need it for survival, for the most part. 

I was a vegetarian from 4th grade until my sophomore year of high school when my mom got on a kick that I "needed more protein" and had me eat a taco which in turn, made my stomach that was not used to fatty protein, VERY sick.  I eventually did start eating more meat but as I'm sure many family members will tell you, it doesn't happen that often and I'm very picky.  Since I've been on this eating as clean as possible kick, I've been looking into different protein sources.  Enter: quinoa.  What?  A seed/pseudo grain that has protein?  Yes, please!  It's not just any protein either.  It's QUALITY protein.  Quinoa is said to be the best plant-based protein out there and that if someone who could eat only one food for survival, quinoa would be it because it is a nutritional dream with its protein among other nutrients.  It doesn't really have a flavor so it is nice to add in a lot of different dishes.  I wish I had known about quinoa when I was a vegetarian.

Where to buy quinoa?

I believe that most stores carry quinoa these days.  If you've never had it before, I wouldn't suggest going to Costco and getting the gigantic bag of it.  Whole Foods definitely carries it but I've seen it in the bulk bins at several grocery stores.

How do you make it?

I usually boil mine and then let it simmer for about 15 minutes (obviously, follow the direction on the package).  You can also roast quinoa to get a crunchiness.  I throw some black beans and diced tomatoes with quinoa for a quick, protein-packed lunch.  My husband makes a lentil, chili-type dish with quinoa in it.  You can throw it in soups.  It's pretty flexible and like I said before, it doesn't have a distinct flavor so you can get creative with this seed.

I challenge you to try quinoa if you haven't.  I'm going to add a link to an interesting website that is all about quinoa with recipes and other nutritional information.  It looks like there are various types of quinoa so my goal will be to try a kind that I've never had before in the near future.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Obesity Prevention...In Children

Today I’m going to talk about a topic that is very near and dear to my heart:  childhood obesity.  Actually, I like the preventative term of childhood nutrition better.  Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard all sorts of reports on the matter.  I’m going to be addressing some reasons why our children are getting bigger and how to reverse this or prevent this from happening to your child.
Kids have a special place in my heart.  I grew up babysitting.  I spent some of my high school years coaching/mentoring elementary school kids.  When I was just a child, I would line my stuffed animals up against a wall and sit in front of them “reading” a story and took special care panning the book in the appropriate way so each toy would have their chance to see the pictures.  My family had a portable whiteboard that I would use to teach my friends how to borrow in subtraction when I was in second grade.  Because of this, it wasn’t a shocker when I decided at a young age that if my singing career didn’t work out, I would become a teacher.  It was on my path to becoming a teacher that sparked my interest in children with weight problems.
I can see it in my mind like it was yesterday even though it was probably nine years ago.  I was working as a preschool teacher and it was summertime which meant we also had school-age children to watch over as well.  I loved the summers because my boss would give me free reign of learning activities to do with these kids.  Each day had a different fun activity and this particular even occurred on Water Day.  I was sitting in the shade with my friend and co-worker, Andy, while the older kids had their turn playing on the inflatable water slide.  Seeing all those kids lined up and waiting for their turn, I noticed something.  Out of the twenty kids we had waiting in line in their swimsuits, five of them were overweight.  That means that one out of four of those kids were most likely considered obese!  Now Andy was young and a little bit of an ass so his remarks about it were not worth repeating, but these kids broke my heart.  Beginning on that hot, summer day I started to become more aware of children’s nutrition and physical activity habits.
When I went back to college to finish my education degree, one of my final grades in my favorite class (Physical Education in the Elementary School) was to come up with a unit plan involving physical education since so many schools are cutting back on these programs.  I got special permission to come up with an after school program, something I had been toying around with in the back of my mind.  I had so much fun coming up with activities for this program that included a nutritional aspect where kids could make up their own after school snacks, a physical activity which contained a treasure hunt where kids would have been ALLOWED to run through the school (something generally forbidden so it would be fun for them), and a character building activity like anti-bullying or whatever.  I designed this program with not only intervention in mind, but prevention.  I whole-heartedly believe that the more aware the kids and the *ahem*parents are, the better we can combat this sad epidemic.
A big part of this ordeal is pre-packaged food.  I get it, it’s easy.  When a kid wants a snack, it’s convenient to hand them chips or fruit snacks.   It is the parents’ responsibility to know what is going into your child’s mouth.  When you look at labels, how many ingredients are on the list that you can’t even pronounce?  That’s usually a bad sign.  Food coloring has not been tested enough to see if it has any lasting effects.  Almost every packaged food has high fructose corn syrup which is a big no-no.  Don’t be fooled by the commercials saying that it’s okay because it comes from corn.  It’s processed so much that it has turned into a form of sugar that your body does not know how to handle.  There’s an uptick in cancer in the last twenty years and many professionals say that our lack of wholesome foods is a big part of it.   Would you look at the foods you give your children differently if you knew they caused cancer among other things?  Maybe this is taking it too far, but you wouldn’t willingly hand your children cigarettes, would you?  Why do we view processed food so differently?
 It’s understandable that you as a parent get sick of drinking nothing but water and milk so you introduce juices and soda to your kids.  The thing is, if your child has never had whatever sweet drink you’re giving them, they wouldn’t want it.  Now it is not realistic to say “my child will never drink juice or soda” because we all know that there are these people called relatives.  Haha!  100% fruit juices are not as bad as soda (obviously), but they are LOADED with sugar which means they are loaded with calories.  It’s kind of a nutritional rule of thumb for adults to not drink their calories, why would it be any different for kids?
Exercise (or lack thereof)
I grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot of money.  When we were being frugal, cable tv just wasn’t going to happen.  I spent a majority of my childhood with only CBS.  That resulted in a lot of outside play.  I was fortunate enough to have a great dad who took me on bike rides, shot hoops with me, or took me to target practice with a .22 and .38. These days, every Christmas list is more likely to be asking for a Wii or Xbox rather than a new soccer ball.  Because of the wonderful invention of DVR, we can sit for hours on end and watch a whole series of a show.  And yes, I’m calling the kettle black on this one.  Ask my husband about my Grey’s Anatomy, Lost, Dawson’s Creek, and Vampire Diaries addictions.  We are so used to being visually stimulated at all times that most SUVs and mini vans come with DVD players.  Does it worry anyone else that most children can’t sit in a vehicle and entertain themselves for a ride across town?  And we wonder why more and more children are being diagnosed with ADHD…
A Solution?
Just like children need to be taught their ABCs, teach them early on about food.  Introduce a variety of fruits and veggies.  Teach them that cookies, cake, and ice cream are special occasion foods.  Same goes for soda if they happen to get a taste for it.  Remember that you are the parent and you want what’s best for your child in the long run.  If they cry and scream because they want something, you are doing nothing but teaching your child unfavorable habits by giving in.  Get outside with your kids.  Teach them that there is a whole big, interesting world out there.  Make television and video games a reward instead of a necessity.  Most importantly, stick to the rules boundaries that you give.
Who Am I, right?
Please know that I write these blogs for myself as much as anyone else who chooses to read it.  I am not a perfect parent and won’t ever be a perfect parent.  That’s just not possible in any situation.  I do want to say that as a teacher, I’ve learned a lot of parenting do’s and don’ts.  Right now all my teacher friends are nodding their head in agreeance.  I’ve learned a lot from my husband who is a pediatrician.  I have also done a lot of nutritional research.  Do I know quite a bit about this stuff?  For the most part.  Do I follow everything I’ve learned to a T?  No way!  One look at me and you could see that.  I’m human.  BUT I’m a human who wants to do anything I can to better my life, my family’s life, and the lives of others.
Here are some interesting facts on these subjects:
About drinks…
If you give your kids endless amounts of fruit snacks, this is for you…
Obesity Facts…
Are chicken nuggets actually bad?

Short, Fat-Burning Workout

One complaint I hear from people who want to lose weight or get fit but don't is, "I don't have the time."  You're probably flashing back to the time(s) you've said that same excuse.  I know I am.  I've really gotten into running in the last few years but I don't always have the time to go for the length of runs that will get me in a good, fat-burning zone.  I'm not a fast runner so that makes it even worse. What if I told you that you can work up a sweat, build muscles, and burn fat all in only around 12 minutes a day?  AND I'm not even kidding!!!

There's this new exercise buzz word "HIIT".  It stands for high intensity interval training.  As appealing as only several minutes a day of exercise sounds, it is not for the faint of heart.  If you have not discovered yet, YOU SHOULD!!!  This is a prime example of interval training and the girl that takes you through the workout has the most jaw-dropping body that it motivates you to look that good.  Or at least it does me.  BodyRock is a website that has FREE workout videos.  They usually offer different levels of each workout and show how to do some of them with out the equipment they use.  I'm going to tell you how you can make up your own HIIT workout at home to do when you have a few minutes.

Get a timer or a watch that you can set to go off at 50 seconds and then again at 10 seconds and then starts back over to going for 50 and so on.  I use an app on my iPhone called Interval Timer that was free to download.  When you do an exercise, do as many repetitions of it as you can in the fifty seconds and then rest for the ten seconds before moving on to the next exercise.  If you absolutely can't get anything to track your interval times, choose a repetition amount for each exercise (Ex. 25 squats).

Now, think of four exercises to do.  I try to do one of cardio like jumping jacks, burpees, air jump rope, etc.  Do another of a leg exercise like squats or lunges.  Do an upper body exercise like push ups or shoulder presses. The last exercise you can choose and abdominal workout like regular crunches, bicycle crunch and so on.  Once you have your four exercises picked out, you're going to do this circuit three times.  For example:

Round 1:  jumping jacks, squats, push ups, crunches
Round 2:  jumping jacks, squats, push ups, crunches
Round 3:  jumping jacks, squats, push ups, crunches

That is twelve minutes of work and then you're finished.  As with any exercise, you go at your pace and level.  If you can only do five squats in 50 seconds, that's a fine start but just make sure you're pushing yourself and not cheating because you're really only cheating yourself.

Below I will provide a list of workouts that you could use for each section.  That way if you can't think of anything to do, you can just pick one exercise from each group to do.  If you don't know what an exercise is, you can Google it or send me a message.  At some point I'd like to set up pictures or videos doing each move for those of you who are truly starting out.

jumping jacks
jump rope (you don't have to actually have a jump rope for this, just pretend)
mountain climbers
prone jacks
high knees
butt kickers
front kicks
side kicks
back kicks
upper cuts
march in place
jog in place

regular squats
pulse squats
sumo squat (or plies)
squat jumps
front lunges
side lunges
back lunges
step ups (use a wood box, step, or stool)

push ups
shoulder presses
bent over rows
should raises (front or side)
weighted punches
bicep curls
tricep dips
tricep kickbacks
tricep extensions

bicycle crunches
leg lifts
side bends
side plank
crunches on an exercise ball

This is a good starter list.  Again, if you don't know what an exercise is, don't be scared of it.  Look it up and see if it's something you would like to try.  You don't have to do the four exercise for three rounds either.  The nice thing about interval training is that you can modify it to suit your needs.  As I said before, this is not really for someone that's done nothing but sat on a couch for the last few years.  Start out small with a walk around the block and build up.  I don't want you to try these exercises and not be able to move the next day and decide that it's too hard and give up.  That's what you've always done in the past and how has that worked out for you?  Baby steps.  You will be sore.  Being sore is a good thing. Don't be afraid of it.  The best thing to do when you're sore is to get up and move around.  Keep working out.  You'll get past the soreness.

***Disclaimer:  I am not a certified health professional.  If you hurt yourself, please don't sue me. :)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Once a Week Wife, or Mom, or Whatever It Is...

If you're on Pinterest, I'm sure you've seen the pins about becoming a "once a week wife" or "once a week mom".  The theory behind this is to do all of the prep work for the week's meals in advance.  This whole idea fascinated me, very much a non-cooker, so I decided to try it today.

The first thing I did was make up a meal plan for this week with my hubby.  As we made the plan, I wrote down a grocery list.  Since we're trying to eat more clean than not, we had to consider the best way to prepare our own foods while buying as little as possible of processed foods.  This means that there is a LOT more prep work for dinner.

If you're like me, you probably go to the grocery store or farmer's market and buy all these fresh fruits and veggies because you know you need to eat better.  You buy whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta.  But for some reason at the end of the week, you have fruits and veggies that have gone bad or containers of whole grains left unopened.  I'm hoping this "once a week..." thing will help combat all the wasted food that, let's face it, is not cheap (refer to my post on organics).

Here's the prep work I did tonight in probably an hour and a half that will hopefully make this week much easier for dinner time.

Sunday:  Veggie Stir Fry (cook up rice, slice peppers, onions, and mushrooms)
Monday:  Black Bean Smothered Sweet Potatoes (dice tomatoes, soak and cook black beans, chop green onions)
Tuesday:  Chicken and Steamed Veggies (chop and bag broccoli and carrots in Ziploc Steam Bags)
Wednesday:  Lentil Soup (dice onion, carrots, and celery)
Thursday:  Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries (make up turkey patties and cut up sweet potatoes and put in freezer)
Friday:  Pasta (dice tomatoes)

On top of the prep work for dinners, I hard boiled some eggs, cut up veggies for my once a day veggie bags, cooked some quinoa, and started my bread.  It is a two day process so I'll actually bake it tomorrow.  This will help me have some healthy options on hand to grab during the day or throw a quick lunch together.  I also always have pecans, pumpkin seeds, fruit, and string cheese on hand to grab as well.

Now I had a very busy day today.  I woke up early to go to my running club, I babysat for my friend who has a son 4 days younger than E (that makes TWO 4 1/2 month olds!!!), went grocery shopping, and ran errands.  If I could have that busy of a day and still get it done, so can you!  Did I want to take the time to do all of this?  Not really, but I'm fortunate that my husband offered to help with it and now I can spend that extra time during the week working out, reading, napping, or just relaxing (I do this normally when baby is sleeping).  I urge you to try this sometime and let me know what you think!  I'll be sure and update at the end of the week.

***Note:  I'll be introducing the Black Bean Smothered Sweet Potato and the Turkey Burger recipes I used at the end of the week. :)


It's that time again where athletes from all over the world put their country's differences aside to compete in the greatest sporting event.  The Olympics.  Winter Olympics are exciting for me to watch for about 10 seconds, but the Summer Olympics...I can't get enough!  Thank goodness for DVR or I wouldn't be getting any sleep.  I find the games to be extremely motivating in my fitness endeavors. 

In my first post, I mentioned that I ran from anything volleyball while in college, but then later said I played at the college level.  Both are true.  Initially, I didn't want to play volleyball.  I wanted to be a normal college student and "find myself".  Stupid relationships ending will do that to you.  In 2005, I was in a car accident that changed everything.  I wasn't seriously injured in the sense that I didn't spend any time in the hospital or even go to the hospital.  My injuries made themselves known the next day.  As with a lot of people in minor car accidents, I had hurt neck and back pretty bad.  I found my way to a chiropractor and she was shocked by the extent of the damage done.  I spent months in therapy and when I would ask her about working out, she would tell me that I could walk and that I may have a hard time with anything else at that point.  When I asked her about playing competitive sports, she balked and told me that I wouldn't be able to play competitive sports anymore.  If you know me personally, you know that people telling me what I can and can't do doesn't sit well with me.  Just to prove to myself that no one can put limitations on my body that I don't approve of, I went on to play volleyball at a small private school.  Were we an amazing team with tons of wins?  No, but it was a good time for me personally because not only was I able to play volleyball in a competition-type setting, I excelled in it.  I was MVP and captain of our team.  I was named all-regional and was even nominated for NCCAA Athlete of the Week for my performance at a tournament in Canada.  I wasn't 100% healthy by any means.  I fought injury after injury during those two years.  I was also older than the other team and my team mates from the time off I had taken to "find myself".  My team nicknamed me "Grandma."  The reason I share this is because I learned an important lesson during that time.  Perseverance.  I knew what I wanted my body to do, but I also knew it would take a lot of work to get there.  Isn't that pretty much everyone's battle with their body?  Everyone has in their mind what they would like to look like, but haven't necessarily made the commitment to make that happen.  It's not easy. It doesn't happen overnight.  In my case, it took a LOT of pain and tears. 

I'm sure the Olympians have fought similar battles.  There were times they wanted to quit or didn't want to put the time in.  When they stand on the platform with their medals around their neck with the anthem playing, they know that all the work was worth it.  Okay, so maybe your chance for going to the Olympics is not going to happen but you most likely have other health goals or you probably wouldn't be reading this.  My point is, being healthy takes work and dedication.  You have to commit to working out and eating better.  It's not easy.  The change is not going to happen in a week's time. If you need help, ask for it.  Find it.  Join a group.  If you like to dance, do Zumba or Jazzercise or take a dance class.  If you are scared to run by yourself, join a running club.  You have to find something that is enjoyable to you or all the effort is just miserable and you won't stick with it.

The Olympics have motivated me to try something new.  Maybe I'll take a swim class or join a sand volleyball team.  What has it motivated you to do?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Chocolate Fix!

Last night I was craving chocolate and while I believe having things in moderation is okay, I don't trust myself at the grocery store when I'm having a food impulse.  Plus, it was almost time for bed and I was in my spit-up stained pajamas.  Time to get creative.  I put some plain, Greek yogurt in a bowl and added a hot chocolate packet to it and stir, stir, stir!  It turned out really good, even the hubby liked it!  Now don't go comparing it to a Snickers or Hagen Daaz Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream! ;)

Random Post About Pricey Organics

I'm sure you've all heard that eating organic is the way to go.  I agree that it is important to know that there were no chemicals used on your fruits and veggies.  However, I do not enjoy the price that goes along with organic food.  Maybe I'm just frugal (read: cheap).  I've heard a lot of people (I've been one of them!) complain about how expensive it is to eat healthy.  For example, my husband and I have looked into buying one of those pre-made boxes of in season veggies and fruits at our local farmer's market.  Sounds awesome, right?  It is over $30 a week just for one box of food!  Maybe that is not that much and just sounds like a lot because I'm used to paying a few dollars here and there at the grocery store, but WOW!
 Here is a list of foods that Jillian Michaels says should be bought in organic form:

1.  Meat, dairy, and eggs
2.  Coffee
3.  Peaches and nectarines
4.  Apples
5.  Bell peppers
6.  Celery
7.  Berries
8.  Lettuce
9.  Grapes
10.  Foods that you eat a lot
("Master Your Metabolism" pg. 151)

Foods that you don't have to bother buying organic:

1.  Seafood
2.  Water
3.  Foods you don't eat that often
("Master Your Metabolism" pg. 152)

So according to this, you should buy most things organic.  Does that mean I do it?  Not at all.  Would I like to?  Of course, but until we make the big bucks, it's just not going to happen as often as I would like.  I do see a need for eating organic over non-organic because of the chemicals, but in my mind, if you are just now starting to eat better, any apple is going to be a step in the right direction.  FYI, the book "Master Your Metabolism" by Jillian Michaels is a great book about how your body reacts to certain types of foods.  I highly recommend it to people who want to get serious about what goes into their mouth.  I've read it a few different times and it always motivates me to be more aware of what I'm eating.

Another great book, "Eat & Run" by Scott Jurek talks about eating organic foods to enhance physical ability.  Jurek is an ultra-marathoner who is also a vegan.  It has some good recipes in it and is a pretty good read.  Makes me want to go run 100 miles through a mountain range...well, almost. ;)  In the book, he mentions being on a very tight budget but eating only whole, organic foods.  Here is an excerpt from his book about this.

"I'd been vegan for a year, and Seattle was a perfect place to explore and expand the food I was eating.  I made smoothies, searched the farmer's markets and my local co-op for more fruits and vegetables.  Even though I bought grains, beans, and seeds in bulk and attended member appreciation night once a month at Madison Market Co-op so I could save an additional 10 percent, I was spending more than I ever had on food.  And I was fairly deep in credit card debt.  While many people freaked out about the year 2000, I was secretly hoping for a Y2K crash to wipe out my debt.  There are a lot of ways to live frugally.  I know that better than anyone.  But the fuel and medicine--the food--I put in my body was not the place to scrimp.  My never-better vigor and well-being made the extra investment a no-brainer."  ("Eat & Run", Jurek, pages 108-109)

If you think of food as your fuel and medicine, it makes sense to spend a little extra money on the stuff that is better for you, right?  It's easy to eat processed foods because they're convenient and often times cheaper.  You can go to McDonald's and eat for two for under $5 if you stay on the dollar menu.  It's nuts!  My challenge to you would be to look in your budget and see where you can put a little more money into the good stuff.

New Recipes from This Week

I'm trying the "eating clean" approach.  I know that realistically this isn't going to happen 100% of the time.  I want to be able to go out to eat with my husband without worrying about all the ingredients of food.  I'm a stay at home mom so I figured that it should be pretty easy to follow the clean eating principles.  In a nutshell, clean eating is food that comes from the ground or has a mother.  No processed foods.  If you want to learn more about eating clean, check out "Eating Clean for Dummies."

Moving on...

Here are some recipes I tried or kind of made up this week:

Whole Grain Toast with Soft Cheese Spread and Raspberries (from "Master Your Metabolism" by Jillian Michaels)

Serves 1

1/2 ounce of part skim ricotta cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
Pinch of ground black pepper
1 slice whole-grain bread
1/3 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 teaspoon of honey

Mix ricotta, yogurt, and pepper.  Toast the bread and let it cool slightly.  Spread the yogurt mixture on the toast.  Place the raspberries in a single layer over mixture and smash down with a fork.  Serve

(*Note:  I've done this with just the yogurt and without the ricotta before and it is still good)

Oatmeal-Apple Balls

1/4 cup instant oatmeal
1 tablespoon boiled or roasted quinoa
1/6 apple, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon honey

Mix all ingredients and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls.  Makes three.  The nice thing about these balls is that you could use really anything in them such as protein powder, raisins, chia seeds, dark chocolate chips, etc.

Lentil Soup  adapted from

3 full size carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can of canned tomatoes, drained or two small, diced tomatoes
1 pound of lentils, uncooked
2 quarts of chicken broth
cumin to taste
salt to taste
olive oil

Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of a pot.  Put in onions, carrots, and celery and cook on medium heat until onions are see-through. Add in remaining ingredients; stir.  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook on low until lentils are the desired softness (about 35-40 minutes).  Put in blender and food processor until you have your preferred consistency.  Serve.

(*This makes a pretty large amount.  It fed Brian and I three times.  Whatever you don't eat the first time, you can even freeze for another time.  You could even make this up just to freeze to have on hand for a quick dinner.)

Whole Wheat Bread takes 2 days to make.  makes one loaf
(I just copied and pasted the recipe from the internet and it is obviously not American, but if I can figure it out, so can you!)

Day 1: Soaker and biga, 20 minutes set up and mix, overnight autolyze.
Day 2: 2 hours dechill biga, 12-15 mins mixing, 2-3 hoiurs fermentation, shaping, proofing: 40 – 60 mins baking.
1 3/4 cups (226g) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon (4g) salt
3/4 cup+ 2 tablespoons (198 ml) milk, buttermilk, yogurt, or soymilk

1. Mix all of the soaker ingredients together in a bowl for about 1 minute, until all the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a ball of dough.
2. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. (if it will be more than 24 hours, place the soaker in the refrigerator, it will be good for up to 3 days, Remove it 2 hours before mixing the final dough to take off the chill).
1 ¾ Cups (227g) whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon (1g) instant yeast
¾ cup (170ml) filtered spring water, at room temperature (21c)

1. Mix all of the biga ingredients together in a bowl to form a ball of dough. Using wet hands, knead dough in the bowl for 2 minutes to be sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and the flour is fully hydrated. The dough should feel very tacky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead it with wet hands for 1 minute. The dough will become smoother but still be tacky.
2. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days
3. About 2 hours before mixing the final dough, remove the biga from the refrigerator to take off the chill. It will risen slightly but need not have risen significantly in order to use it in the final dough.

429g soaker (all of the above)
398g biga (all ov the above)
7 tablespoons (56.5g) whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon (5g) salt
2 ¼ teaspoons (7g) instant yeast
2 ¼ tablespoons (42.5g) honey or sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon (14g) unsalted butter, melted or vegetable oil

1. Using a metal pastry scraper (or blunt knife), chop the soaker and the biga into 12 smaller pieces each (sprinkle some of the extra flour over the pre-dough to keep the pieces from sticking back to each other).
2. If mixing by hand, combine the soaker and biga pieces in a bowl with all the other ingredients except the extra flour and stir vigorously with a mixing spoon or knead with wet hands until all of the ingredients are evenly integrated and distributed into the dough. It should be soft and slightly sticky; if not, add more flour or water as needed. If using a stand mixer, put the pre-dough pieces and all of the other ingredients except the extra flour into the mixer with the paddle attachment (preferable) or dough hook. Mix on slow speed for 1 minute to bring the ingredients together into a ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, occasionally scraping down the bowl, for 2-3 minutes, until the pre-doughs become cohesive and assimilated into each other. Add more flour or water as needed until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.
3. Dust a work surface with flour, then toss the dough in the flour to coat. Knead by hand for 3-4 minutes, incorporating only as much extra flour as needed, until the dough feels soft and tacky, but not sticky. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes while you prepare a clean, lightly oiled bowl.
4. Resume kneading the dough for 1 minute to strengthen the gluten and make any final flour or water adjustments. The dough should have strength and pass the windowpane test, yet still feel soft, supple and very tacky. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the prepared bowl, rolling to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for approximately 45 to 60 minutes, until it is about 1 ½ times its original size.
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form it into either a loaf pan shape. Place the dough in a greased 4 x 8 ½ inch bread pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap (I put the pan into big plastic bag), and let rise at room temperature for approximately 45 to 60 minutes, until it about 1 ½ times its original size.
6. Preheat the oven to 218c (425). Reduce temperature to 177c (350) and bake the loaf for 20 minutes. Rotate the loaf 180 degrees and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the loaf is rich brown on all sides, sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom.
7. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow it to cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

***NOTE:  This bread is dense.

Confessions of a Foodaholic!

My first blog is going to be about food.  It is no secret that food is my downfall when it comes to my journey to being in the best possible shape my body will allow.  My nickname in high school wasn't "pork chop" for no reason.  In fact, let's start there...

I was an athlete in high school and sometimes spent three hours a day in the gym.  I was strong from weightlifting and I was fast from track, but to look at pictures from back then, you would never know it.  At the times when the weight on the scale would inch up at each year's physical, I truly believed that it was all the time I spent in the weight room since muscle weighs more than fat.  It couldn't possibly be that I could demolish a box of cereal or a whole pizza in one sitting.  I just figured because I was playing sports, I needed the extra calories.  Where this was true in theory, I was choosing the wrong kind of calories and in excess.  I prided myself in the fact that I could out-eat my guy friends at pizza eating contests and scarf down Dairy Queen cheeseburgers, french fries, and a Pepsi before hitting the court for a volleyball game.  My mom would show up to track meets with two grocery bags full of junk food which included things such as powder sugar doughnuts, Scooby Doo fruit snacks, and Nutty Bars.  My pole vaulting coach used to question how I could eat that and then launch myself up in the air.  Truth is, I wasn't great at it.  I made it to state two years in high school track and it was a fluke both times.  Someone was sick or someone who was better than me had an off day at districts.  Had I actually eaten like an athlete in training, I'd like to think I would have been unstoppable.  haha!

After high school, I felt like I needed to uphold my role as the girl who ate a lot.  My athlete days were on hold as a rebellion against my dad.  I had turned down a few opportunities to play volleyball because my dad really wanted me to play.  Looking back I don't understand what my reasoning was.  Yeah, my dad was pretty aggressive about me and sports and "encouraged" me to practice all the time, especially pitching for softball but I still don't know why I adamantly refused to play a sport that I loved more than anything else. Anyway, back on track here...I was still eating like I spent a good portion of everyday in the gym.  My first year of college, I had gained not just the notorious "freshman 15" but the freshman 20-25.  I saw a picture of myself in a swimsuit and couldn't believe my eyes.  I knew I needed to do something.  I hated all things cardio so I did what I knew best:  I joined intramural teams and lifted weights.  Did I change my eating?  Kind of.  I would restrict myself too much and then go on a two day binger.  Yeah, that's super healthy.  I'm almost positive that every woman has done this at some point in order to lose weight and was not sustainably successful.  My cardio of a couple hours a week up playing slap-stick sports was not enough to burn any fat over the muscle I was building so I was actually GAINING weight!  Ugh!

Why do I share this long, probably utterly boring life story with you?  Because I think it's important to be honest about this stuff.  It doesn't come easy for a majority of people.  And if you are not honest, at least with yourself, about this you are going to struggle with identifying where your short comings are.  So the question I want to leave you with today is, what are your nutritional downfalls?  If you say that you have none, but you are still thinking you need to lose a few pounds, then you might need to dig deeper into your diet. Take a couple of days and write down everything that goes into your mouth.  I know you've heard this before, but it really does help pin point where your diet is lagging.