Tuesday, August 31, 2010

trusting yourself with a BOGO sale.

hi, my name is teachergirl, and i am a serious sucker for a BOGO sale.

in case you have not been recently privy to the amazingness that is BOGO, it means a buy one get one free sale and for a food bargain hunter like me, it's a song that sings joy to my heart and to my pocketbook. i very much like it when i can look at my grocery store receipt and see that half of what i bought was given to me...FREE.

i like free.  free makes me happy.

unfortunately, it's fairly rare (with the exception of bagged salads or the occasional pint of blueberries) that superfoods are on BOGO sale. no, what's mostly BOGO are the things that we try to avoid.  my particular temptation last week was donuts. 

(don't ask, especially after ashlee's transfat post yesterday.  but suffice it to say that i looked at the nutrition fact and my better nature told me to move along.)

yes, the BOGO sale can sometimes be a temptation to stock your pantry with terrible things that will call to you in the middle of the night, telling you that you just need one more cookie to be well and truly satisfied.

if you're anything like me, when you're trying to keep yourself healthy, you spend money on the good stuff. maybe you try to match your fruit needs to what's on sale (cherries have been routinely on sale lately here, so my husband and i have greatly enjoyed that particular treat), but for the most part you might always buy bananas or grapes or whatever fruit or vegetable your family enjoys. if you can get them to eat it, you buy it.  but you might try to stick strictly to that rule of shopping the outsides of the store, venturing into the aisles only for virtuous things like whole wheat pasta and yummy spices to make something extraordinary from scratch.

some days, that's me.

but lately?  lately, i've been quite lucky to cook at all.  someday i'll tell you all about what's been going on in musicboy/teachergirl world, but for right now suffice it to say that convenience foods have quickly gone from THE GREAT SATAN to...eh, maybe?

so when i saw that necessity was quickly forcing me into new choices that incorporated more things that were easy to fix, i began looking at the bogo sales more closely. here's what i'm beginning to realize: discipline and healthy eating can incorporate a BOGO diversion. 

BOGO doesn't always have to be evil is my point, roundabout as may be.

sometimes, you need to relearn how to incorporate some of these foods into your world successfully. for me, it means that i choose the reduced fat chips ahoy instead of the chunky chips ahoy because i get more bang for my serving size buck.  for me, it's choosing to buy the frozen yogurt ben & jerry's instead of the full fat version.  it's stocking up on the whole wheat bagels with lots of fiber, because i know that half of one of those can make a breakfast that makes my online food diary smile at me. 

convenience foods can't make up the substance of your healthy diet.  but sometimes, when push comes to shove, you can make wise decisions and still incorporate them.  just like with any food, whether it come from a box or a produce bin, you need to understand serving size and be diligent about recording what you're eating.  with any convenience food, you need to be aware of sodium and fat content and, of course, the preservatives that are a part of these foods.

but, overall, i'm learning that a little bit of moderation can go a long way.  sometimes, it's about doing the best that you can do with what you've been given.  when we don't have easy access to fresh, whole foods, sometimes we have to do the best with what we have. i am beginning to believe that with some diligence we can make healthy choices in whatever circumstances we're in. 

i'll admit--i feel a bit like the black sheep of this blog right now because here i am admitting to having four packages of chips ahoy in my pantry and being happy to have stockpiled 98% fat free hot dogs in our freezer.  but healthy living has to exist within real life. one of the things that makes me craziest is when people try to tell me how to be healthy in abstract, unrealistic terms.  of course it's easy to lose weight when you work out 9 hours a day. of course it's easy to lose weight when you have a nutritionist on staff. of course it's easy to lose weight when that's your absolute a primary focus. 

of course it's easy to be healthy when life doesn't get in the way.

but if you're anything like me, life routinely gets in the way. it doesn't, however, have to get in the way of your commitment to making good decisions.  when a choice is placed before you...choose the healthy way.  you can do that anywhere, anytime.  you can do that with any circumstance and in whatever particular condition you find yourself. 

do your best.   that's really all you can do.  and you should feel really good about it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Trans Fat... Why it's bad and how to avoid it.

One thing that I hate about grocery shopping is the plethora of foods containing trans fat. There is no need for trans fat. It makes production more efficient and foods cheaper. That's it.

But let me back up a bit. Let's have a little trans fat 101, shall we?

What is trans fat?

There are small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats in beef and dairy. Those aren't the ones we're concerned with and are thought to be less harmful than the artificially produced fats.

Artificial trans fat results from adding hydrogen to oil, also called hydrogenation. This transforms the liquid fat into a solid one, making foods prepared with it less perishable than their trans fat free counter parts. I won't go into the science of the fat, but it's naughty. Trust me.

Why is trans fat bad?

We all know about saturated fats (most fats that are solid at room temperature are saturated fats). Saturated fats raise your LDL, "bad" cholesterol (the artery clogging stuff), but have no effect on your HDL, "good" cholesterol (helps to clean out arteries). It's bad.

Then there's trans fat. Trans fat not only raises your LDL cholesterol, it also lowers your HDL cholesterol. It's a double-whammy artery blocker.

The combination of high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol greatly increases your risk of heart disease, the US's leading killer of men and women.

Trans fat also increases triglycerides (contributes to hardening of arteries), increases Lp(a) lipoprotein (type of LDL cholesterol), and causes increased inflammation because of damage to the cells lining the blood vessels.

How much trans fat is safe?

Because of the small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats, the amount of consumption considered safe is already met in the typical 2000-calorie diet. Therefore, the FDA and the American Heart Association suggest avoiding any additional consumption.

What foods have trans fat?

Margarine, shortening, and butter

Packaged foods.
Cake mixes, canned frosting, Bisquick

Ramen noodles and soup cups

Fast food.
(here's a sampling of some of my personal favorites)
McDonalds Quarter Pounder with Cheese - 1.5 g trans fat, 12 g sat fat
Burger King Whopper with Cheese - 1.5 g trans fat, 16 g sat fat
Arby's medium Beef and Cheddar - 1 g trans fat, 8 g sat fat
Taco Bell Nachos Bell Grande - 0.5 g trans fat, 7 g sat fat
And Hardee's doesn't even list trans fat content, which scares me.

Frozen food.
Pizza, waffles, pies, breaded items (fish sticks)

Commercial baked goods.
Chips and crackers.

Almost everything Pillsbury makes.
Seriously, the stuff tastes great and is a time saver, but it's loaded in trans fat. Especially their ready-to-bake items.

What can we do to avoid trans fat?

Read the back of a package instead of the front.
Many manufacturers advertise that their food is trans fat free, when it's not. How can they get away with this? In the US, if a food contains less than 0.5 grams per serving, they can list it as containing 0 grams. Manufacturers will then play around with their serving size to get the magic zero. But how many of you only eat 6 crackers? Or 1/2 cup of ice cream?

So what are you to do?
Browse the ingredients. Look for "partially hydrogenated" oil. This is trans fat. If you find a food containing this, give it a "tiss, tiss," shake your finger, and put it back.

Lastly, to avoid trans fat, MAKE YOUR OWN FOOD. I promise it's not all that hard to put a pancake mix together. In fact...

Easy Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil

1. In large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in milk, egg, and oil. Mix until smooth.
2. Cook on griddle or frying pan.
3. Smile because you just make trans fat free pancakes.

By this time next week, I better be holding my newborn baby girl in my arms. If you don't hear from me, smile and know that my wish came true.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Contest Winner

The winner of our contest last week for Alzheimer's support is:

DLDLoe said...

The prize is a Biggest Loser Workout DVD - Power Sculpt! Most of the ladies on this blog have a love/hate relationship with Biggest Loser personal trainer Jillian Michaels. We hope you enjoy this dvd!

Thank you for supporting Alzheimer's research. Email us at:

somaybemomwasright at gmail dot com

and we will get your prize mailed out to you!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What Does Health Mean to Me?

My original post for today involved a trip to the store…but that is getting axed - because Gainesville is apparently in the midst of a monsoon (disguising itself as one of our normal daily reoccurring afternoon summer showers).  Anyone else ready for a little rainy day relief by way of autumn (ahh..college football and temps below 90 - those were the days).

So instead, I decided to take a cue from an awesome site called Healthy Living Blogs (Side Note: This site is an awesome resource if you are looking for new and interesting healthy lifestyle blogs) and write about the topic currently being discussed there – What Does Health Mean to Me?

For those who don’t know, in addition to my job (doing Vocational Evaluations for persons with disabilities), I’m also pursuing a Master of Public Health degree. A huge portion of my time is designated to learning about disease prevention, healthy lifestyles, and epidemiology.   

So...What does health mean to me? You’d think it would be easy enough to lay it all out there…but to me, true health and well-being includes a lot. There are so many facets that go beyond proper nutrition and exercise.

I think of health as being divided into two main categories (and about a million subcategories): mental and physical health.  These two categories work together to contribute to my overall health; and when aspects of any of these categories go by the wayside, I feel my overall health is affected negatively. 

To me, Health means:

Embracing Family Time
             Having dates, family nights, and quiet (or noisy) moments together

Holding fast to my spiritual and religious beliefs

The ability to help others
             At work, at home, on the street

Constantly learning and maintaining outlets for creativity     
            Whether cake decorating, scrapbooking, or interior design

Keeping excitement, spontaneity, and happiness in my marriage 

A weekend away, just us two? Yes please!

Recognizing when I can’t do something alone and asking for help when I need it       
            Physically and Spiritually

Consuming nutritious foods while always saving room for splurges
             What is Life Without Your just deserts

Staying active    
          Physically and Socially

Reading voraciously
            For education, leisure, and spirituality

Noting beautiful surroundings
             At home, in others’ homes, on the radio, outdoors, all around

Knowing and respecting my limits
             …and living within my means

Being happy at work  
          You wouldn’t believe the importance of this

Smiling every time I see a dog
            Without fail

Constantly working on physical strength, endurance, and ability
                Working to always - Run, and not be weary; and walk, and not faint

    How do you define health? Do you include sweets, good times, and puppy dogs in your definition? 

    If any of our readers would like to guest post on what health means to them – let us know!

    Links to Health:

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Reading, Writing, 'Rithmatic

    Don't you love Back to School time? School zones start back up, the line to checkout at Target is out the door, and school buses clog up traffic.

    Being a teacher, this time means that my summer vacation is over and I will have about 120 students staring at me, watching my every move (no, not at the same time. I teach 5 classes). For parents, this means not having to come up with activities to entertain your kid (replaced with homework!).

    Now, for those of you who do not fall under either of those two categories...you may wonder what I have under my sleeve....I would like to discuss health in schools and how it can influence our actions.

    This is what the Mayo Clinic had to say about kids spreading germs:

    "Many childhood illnesses are caused by viruses. All it takes is a single child to bring a virus to school for the spread to begin. Consider this common scenario — a child who has a cold coughs or sneezes in the classroom. The children sitting nearby inhale the infected respiratory droplets and the cold spreads. Or perhaps a child who has diarrhea uses the toilet and returns to the classroom without washing his or her hands. Illness-causing germs might spread from anything the sick child touches to other children who touch the same object and then put their fingers in their mouths."

    You may think this may not affect you, but it does. Because where do kids go when they get out of school? They go to the grocery store, the movie theater, the playground, Target...all sorts of places. And they spread their germs (cue the terrifying music)...

    (I just reread what I have written and I would like to make a side note. I love children and I love my job. It is getting sick that I don't like. Sorry for sounding so doom and gloom!!)

    So, how can we combat sickness?

    1. Wash your hands with soap and water! Or at least use a hand sanitizer, especially after using the bathroom (I just went to a workshop and they told us that washing your hands with soap and water is the best defense against germs. You can use hand sanitizer, but wash your hands as soon as you get the chance).

    2. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. The latest way of teaching how to cover your mouth is to sneeze or cough into your elbow (seriously, there are even posters on how to do in the bathroom at my school).
    This exact poster!

    3. Keep your hands away from your eyes and face. This is something that my mom told me about last year as I was about to start my student teaching. The eyes are an easy way for germs to get into your system.

    4. Be careful with sharing. You never know when someone is on the verge of getting sick, so its best to stick with not sharing drinks or other items.

    5. Avoid sick people! Unless you are a doctor, there is no need for you to stand near someone who is sneezing or coughing (for those of you who are married and/or have children, just be really careful when around that person).

    I know a lot of these are common sense, but a reminder never hurts. Good luck to all the students (in all forms of school)! I hope you all stay healthy as the school year begins!!

    (For teachers: my mom swears by a saline nasal spray called Simply Saline. She says it is what keeps her healthy throughout the year...

    (And another side note)
    Me and some of my seniors from last year...

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread

    I'm 39 weeks pregnant and chocolate is basically running through my veins. When I found this recipe at Under the Highchair, I knew I had to try it. Anything beginning with "double chocolate" is something I will probably like. And because white chocolate only makes things better, I decided I might as well make it TRIPLE chocolate... you would have done the same thing.

    Oh, and it should be noted that like most vegetables, I don't like zucchini. It's slimy and smells funny. But some kind of magic happens when you mix zucchini with chocolate and bake because you can't see, smell, or taste the green stuff, yet you still get the benefits. Sounds good to me!

    Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread

    1/2 cup cake flour
    1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (I use white whole-wheat)
    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 cup canola oil
    1 cup turbinado sugar (worth the extra money... I promise)
    2 large eggs
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 medium zucchini
    3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    3/4 cup white chocolate chips
    (you could also add the zest of one orange to give it a nice zip)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position rack in center. Grease loaf pan and set aside.

    Grate the zucchini, you'll need 1 1/2 cups. Set aside.

    Whisk or sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

    Using an electric mixer or hand mixer, beat the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well blended, about 2 minutes.

    Fold in the zucchini.

    Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

    Fold in chocolate chips.

    Pour batter into prepared pan.

    Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes and then remove from pan and allow to cool completely before cutting. Store tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    Contest Reminder

    For those who don't know, I am a strong advocate of Alzheimer's disease research and support. Two of the most important people in my world battled Alzheimer's disease, and it is a pain and suffering I hope that others may someday be able to avoid.

    Alzheimer's disease affects millions of Americans and their families. This disease robs spouses of their companions, and children of their parents and grandparents. Often, it can also erode the health and financial resources of caregivers.

    I just signed a petition calling on Congress to make Alzheimer's disease a national priority. Will you add your voice and support?

    Here is the link

    Your signature will be delivered to Congress on September 21, 2010 World Alzheimer's Day. (Put it on your calendar!)

    To encourage you to show your support, I have come up with a small prize for one of you who signs this petition. It's a surprise because though I want to encourage you, I also want you signing the petition because you believe in the cause. But it will be good! After signing, leave a comment before Sunday at 6:00pm est, letting me know that you have (we're going on the honor system here). I will post the winner Sunday evening and contact you for your address.

    Together, we can make Alzheimer's a national priority.


    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Mixing it up...

    I don't know about you, but I get bored easily. I am one of those people who likes to flip between two shows when watching TV to avoid the commercials. And when on a road trip I need to be listening to my iPod and reading a book in order not go crazy. And when I have a piece of paper in my hand, I can guarantee it will be destroyed in 15 minutes (but that might be another issue).

    The same can be said when I work out. I don't like to use the treadmill because I start looking for ways to entertain myself (as if. Although, I have discovered watching movies on my iPod helps, but just a little). Its the same thing for the bike, or the stairmaster, or weightlifting...

    Get the picture?

    I am always trying to find new ways to stay entertained while working out (for you hardcore workout-ers:I know I am not there to be entertained, I am there to get healthy. I'm sorry, its my ADD).

    BUT- in good news, I do have one solution. Have you heard of Zumba? Well, allow me to introduce you (if you have heard of Zumba, show your support by commenting on this post)!

    According to zumba.com, "The Zumba® program fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms and easy-to-follow moves to create a one-of-a-kind fitness program that will blow you away...The routines feature interval training sessions where fast and slow rhythms and resistance training are combined to tone and sculpt your body while burning fat'".

    And the best part, I don't get bored!!

    An example of a class (this is the Zumba place that I go to in DC)

    Do you see yourself getting bored? Me either! Tired, yes. Great workout, yes. Bored, NEVER!

    Some benefits of Zumba:

    -It’s a great stress reliever
    -It’s a form of interval training
    -It tones the abdominals

    (for more info on each of the benefits, click HERE)

    Although you might think Zumba is not for you, give it a try (you don't have to be Latin, I promise!). I have seen people from all ages in my classes, from children to the elderly, both male and female. Everyone is very welcoming because we are all there for the same reason, to work out and have fun!

    If you need help finding a class, click here and it will help you find something in your neighborhood...

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    "The More I See, the Less I Know"

    So...how did it go last weekend? Did you do any of the things I suggested to avoid weekend weight gain and keep your eye on the prize (healthy living in case you forgot)? I was able to stick with most my goals, but I did fall short on a couple of them. Which ones? Well, starting the weekend off right with a healthy breakfast was one of the major steps I missed. Live and learn right? But notice the sequence of steps I took. Designate goals. Write them down. Act on them. Refer back. Learn from mistakes (but try not to beat yourself up about those mistakes) and work to repeat the successes.

    Things are getting crazy in this area of Gator Country. My husband graduated college two weeks ago, which my in-laws and my parents came to town for. We have been working on a lot of home decorating projects and I have so many more in mind. We have also been preparing for school to start back up for both of us. My husband got a whole two weeks off and now it's time for him to head back to campus for graduate school, which means we are running around shopping for laptops, textbooks, and various random supplies. That's on top of the necessary back to school purchases I need to make (Hello fall fashion. I've missed you in this heat). On top of all that, throw in working jobs, working jointly on health and fitness, doing things for church, doing things for family, blogging, and planning date and family nights. It's enough to stress a Gator out.
    --In the interest of full disclosure...my husband is and always has been, a 'bama fan. I think their mascot is an elephant or a laundry detergent or something. Just kidding! Luckily, as long as the teams aren't playing each other, he knows a good team when he sees it...and he cheers for the orange and blue (plus all his tuition money supports the Gators..so it's only good business sense).--

    I've shown you all my workout calendar before, but as I mentioned in that post, that is where I note workouts -after- they are completed. That calendar is just a visual for me that demonstrates my accomplishments (like the chore chart with star stickers my mom had me use when I was little). For a short time, I tried writing the workouts on that calendar in advance...but plans change. Workouts schedules change. And I am far nerdy to look a calendar with things constantly marked out and rewritten. So that calendar is a measure of completion rather than future goals and appointments. Instead, I use Google Calendar to keep my daily life organized. I can organize events by type (personal, work, school, fitness, church, etc). I can add and delete as needed. I can check it easily on my phone. Overall...I love it. I would show you a screen shot of my calendar, but all of my client appointments are listed on it. Because I work with clients with various disabilities (who might not appreciate their names being plastered all over the internet), and because I often have 3-5 appointments a day - it just won't work.

    In looking ahead at the coming weeks (and all the appointments on the calendar), I have to remember to avoid stress. I am sure it is the same for many of you. Fall is always the start of so many new things. We all see so many changes in our daily lives and sometimes it can affect us negatively. It may affect our health or it may put fitness goals on the back-burner.

    As a chronic headache and migraine sufferer, I have to diligently avoid overloading myself. Too much stress...can trigger a headache. Working through lunch and missing a meal...can trigger a headache. Not getting out of the house/office for fresh air and fitness...can trigger a headache. The clock hitting about 3pm during the summer in Florida...well, you get the point. So how do I work to avoid this stress with so many things to do? I schedule. I plan. I remain flexible to changes in plans. I note when things get completed...and I ask for help when they just aren't going to.


    I am skipping my "Links to Health" section today to discuss one last health related topic that I think is really important (completely unrelated to stress, fall, or Gator football)....For those who don't know, I am a strong advocate of Alzheimer's disease research and support. Two of the most important people in my world battled Alzheimer's disease, and it is a pain and suffering I hope that others may someday be able to avoid.

    Alzheimer's disease affects millions of Americans and their families. This disease robs spouses of their companions, and children of their parents and grandparents. Often, it can also erode the health and financial resources of caregivers.

    I just signed a petition calling on Congress to make Alzheimer's disease a national priority. Will you add your voice and support?

    Here is the link

    Your signature will be delivered to Congress on September 21, 2010 World Alzheimer's Day. (Put it on your calendar!)

    To encourage you to show your support, I have come up with a small prize for one of you who signs this petition. It's a surprise because though I want to encourage you, I also want you signing the petition because you believe in the cause. But it will be good! After signing, leave a comment before Sunday at 6:00pm est, letting me know that you have (we're going on the honor system here). I will post the winner Sunday evening and contact you for your address.

    Together, we can make Alzheimer's a national priority.


    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    they tell you this all of the time, but it really works.

    i am beginning to think that eating all of the time is the way to go.

    it sounds crazy, but that whole eating 5 or 6 small meals across the day instead of 2 or 3 large ones? it really works.

    for a host of reasons, this the way that i am eating now and it's more challenging than it seems.  so, if you have been considering doing this, please learn from my process--here are a few tips, tricks, and psychological strategies to help you make the transition from the traditional 3 meal mentality to a healthy, metabolism-boosting grazer.
    • don't forget to eat. this may seem silly and, perhaps, impossible, but it's not.  at first, i started eating smaller meals because i just wasn't that hungry.  after doing this for a few days, my stomach seemed to shrink, making the 5 to 6 meal plan the necessity rather than the choice.  but i would forget to eat because it was so unnatural for me to include so many snacks and meals in my day.  (that's bad, in case you didn't know.)  if you let yourself get too hungry, all manner of bad things will happen. let me tell you how it manifested itself in my world: headache, fatigue, dehydration (if you're not eating, you're probably not drinking either), and, what is most likely for all of us, seeing food and inhaling whatever came into my wake without regard to nutritional or caloric content.
    • relish in your multiple opportunities to choose wisely. sometimes it's easier to just grab something that has no nutritional value. but when you're eating 5 or 6 small meals, you have more chances to choose wisely.  you decided to eat 250 calories worth of ice cream?  that's okay.  you have another chance coming up again to choose a meal of greens and protein. 
    • plan ahead.  sometimes, for me, that planning is just a few hours ahead.  if i have just eating something carb-heavy, i think about what i can choose for the next meal that will balance out that carb choice. i try to include, in my snacks, a heavy dose of fruits and vegetables, but it's sometimes challenging to do. but having carrot sticks readily available, for example, would make that choice a lot easier to make.  for a while, we had big bowls of cantaloupe available in our fridge, already cut up. since cantaloupe is a superfood, the ready availability of this sweet and healthy snack made it easy to incorporate into my small meal planning.
    • be aware of portion sizes.  if you have been calorie counting for a while, you will know that, mathematically, you'll need to be aware of portion sizes when you're eating these small meals. you can't eat 5 meals of 500 calories each and expect to do anything but gain weight. however, depending on your caloric goals, you can easily eat 4 meals of 300 calories each (at the absolute lowest end) or 5 meals of 300 calories each (perhaps a more moderate goal) and still see success.  
    • begin to tune in to your body's cues.  if you do this for a while, and if your goal is to listen to your body and feed it well, you'll begin to pick up on what works for you and what doesn't work for you.  i have been literally astounded at how much better i feel, psychologically and physically, when i am paying attention to the cues that i am being given.  
    • drink your water.  you should be drinking, at the bare minimum, 64 ounces of water.  really, though? you should be drinking much more, depending on your individual circumstances.  water not only helps your body run and helps you lose weight, if that's your goal, but it also keeps your body's cues more clear.  thirst can often mask itself as hunger--and thirst is a sign of dehydration. your goal, really, should be to not feel thirsty at all.  it's hot, it's still summer, and we're all busy, active people.  keep water with you and make it your friend. 
    i posted a few weeks ago about wanting to get more in touch with my body. boy howdy, am i.  i am here to testify that, if something's not working for you, try something different.  keep your body guessing, but keep it fueled with healthy things.  if you do, your metabolism will thank you.

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    I know Monday isn't my usual day to post, but...

    Things have been CRAZY in our household lately! Things should be returning to "normal" shortly, I hope. That said, I had a spare moment today and thought I'd give a quick "hi" to our little blog here. Guys, be warned, this post might make you uncomfortable. I hope, for the sake of any woman in your life and possibly yourself, you can manage.

    Today I wanted to discuss a topic dear to my heart: breast cancer. My great-grandmother died from this disease, as well as many other wonderful women that have been part of my life, one way or another. (It should be noted that men CAN get breast cancer as well, but I have not had personal experience with that situation.)Let's get personal: have you done your monthly self-exam? Do you know how to do a self-exam properly?

    Taking a few minutes to do a breast self-exam a minimum of once a month can make a lifetime of difference. Nearly 70% of all breast cancers are found through self-exams and with early detection the 5-year survival rate is 98%. If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don't panic. 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. For additional peace of mind, call your doctor whenever you have concerns.

    In the Shower
    Fingers flat, move gently over every part of each breast. Use your right hand to examine the left breast, left hand for the right breast. Check for any lump, hard knot, or thickening. Carefully observe any changes in your breasts.

    Before a Mirror
    Inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.

    Look for any changes in the contour of each breast, a swelling, a dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Then rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women's breasts do.

    Lying Down
    Place a pillow under your right shoulder and put your right arm behind your head. With the fingers of your left hand flat, press your right breast gently in small circular motions, moving vertically or in a circular pattern covering the entire breast.

    Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.

    (Material on this page courtesy of Tennessee Breast Center, Inc.
    Copyright ©2002 by Arts Uniq®, Cookville, TN.)

    Want to get involved in supporting breast cancer awareness? Hallee at Halleethehomemaker.com has a great post today on a cute (yummy recipe included!) way to help raise funds! http://http//www.halleethehomemaker.com/2010/08/pasta-for-your-girls-and-mine/

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Time for a Facelift

    As you may have noticed, things are changing around here at "So Maybe Mom Was Right." We are revamping the look of our blog and adding lots of fun features. We also have some new and exciting posts and themes on the way. Stay tuned for lots of neat changes and additions in the coming weeks!

    Also, we look forward to your suggestions on how we can continue to improve things.

    -The Ladies

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Two Steps Forward…oops the Tacos are Back


    When it comes to health and fitness (and so many other random things), I am a rule follower. I go about my week checking things off mental lists and hoping for long-term success. I accomplish things and feel disciplined. So why do I work hard all week and hit Friday evening (like clockwork), and all of that hard work goes out the window?

    Monday through Friday (well, Friday at lunchtime), I plug all of my meals into an online food journal. I workout, set goals, go to sleep early and wake up at a decent hour. But when the weekend rolls around, I start undoing all of my hard work. My husband and I eat out way too much (Mexican. Literally. Every. Weekend.), I sleep in, and I avoid the gym like the plague. We also cook lovely, gigantic, comforting, Sunday dinners, which rarely come from Cooking Light.

    An article in Obesity – A Research Journal, researchers indicate that eating in U.S. adults (19-50) increases during weekend days. Because I like to believe I am not alone in this and because I need to keep reminding myself to stay strong Saturdays and Sundays, I thought I would address ways to avoid weekend wackiness and weight gain.

    1.     Try to get in one long workout. Who am I kidding…I won’t be hitting the gym everyday, but one good workout can help undo the Friday night chips and salsa escapade.  –If all else fails, a good long shopping excursion can count as some mild cardio! J
    2.     Start your weekend off right – with a healthy breakfast on Saturday morning. No use complaining that you have “no time” like you do on weekdays. Go for eggs, oatmeal, fruit salad, whole grains, lean protein, etc.
    3.     Don’t skip meals in an attempt to –save- calories for later. This almost always backfires (at least for me). I end up eating much more than I would have if I had eaten healthy throughout the day.
    4.     When eating out:
    a.     Skip the breadbasket (I can’t say the same for chips and salsa. I’m only human).
    b.     Start with soup or a healthy appetizer. When you finish, order your entrĂ©e. You will likely order something smaller than you initially would have. If you don’t want to spend more at the restaurant, have a healthy snack before you head to dinner.
    c.      I always try to look up what I am going to eat before I go to the restaurant. It allows me to know what my plan is and not get distracted by all the delightful fried options. (As I’ve mentioned before, this will continue to get easier as chain restaurants will be soon required to publish nutritional information for their menus).
    d.     Eat slowly and enjoy the atmosphere. Because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal your stomach that you are full, eating slowly allows time for this process.
    5.     Don’t beat yourself up over indulgences and splurges. Indulge and then get back on track…just as you would on any other day. A slice of cheesecake shouldn’t offset the health and fitness goals of the entire weekend.
    6.     The weekend is a good time to work on conquering your soda habit and introducing more water! People tend to drink more soda on weekends when they aren’t working or running errands. Additionally, the fructose in soda stimulates your appetite. 

    I am going to try and stay on track this weekend. Who is with me?

    Links to Health:

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    To "D" or not to "D", that is the question....

    Do you love the sun as much as I do? Because I live in DC, I don’t get to the beach as often as I would like (growing up in Miami has ruined me).

    I am sure that you are aware that the sun provides our bodies with Vitamin D. But are you aware that most people are Vitamin D deficient? While being out in the sun is a great way to get Vitamin D, it is not the only way (you can supplement by taking it in pill form or by the foods you eat). And with reports of skin cancer and sun damage on the rise, we are not getting the adequate sun exposure needed to benefit us (well, those of us who live in the southeastern States usually do a little better).

    Vitamin D is actually one of the more important vitamins that we don’t get enough of in our systems. But what does it do exactly?

    • The major biologic function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus.
    • Vitamin D is absolutely necessary for the growth and development of bones and teeth.
    • It is essential for the proper absorption and utilization of calcium and phosphorus in the body; both are important to the health of the skeleton.
    • Vitamin D promotes bone mineralization with a number of other vitamins, minerals, and hormones.


    Vitamin D also helps control glucose levels, which are directly tied to diabetes. Diabetics found with low Vitamin D levels also had little control of their diabetes. More and more doctors are recommending that their diabetic patients use a Vitamin D supplement to help their diabetes.

    I can’t tell you how much Vitamin D you need (only your doctor can do that), but I can recommend that you go see your doctor and get tested if you need a Vitamin D supplement. Its a simple blood test that should be done at least one a year, during your yearly checkup (ask your doctor to specifically look at your Vitamin D levels).

    Good luck!

    For more information:

    What is Vitamin D?

    The Sun!

    Vitamin D and Diabetes

    Are You Deficient?

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    impressing on no time, no effort, and just a little bit of creativity.

    so i don't know if you're like me, but when my mom comes to visit, i want to impress her with my stellar housekeeping skills. somehow i think that it's my way of proving that she did a good job. as if i am saying "look mom! i can cook! i can do dishes! i can take care of myself and my family! YAY!"

    it's probably some sort of warped psychological need for approval or something, but there you go.

    but with that desire comes pressure. normally, musicboy is pretty easy to please. he likes meat, but he'll roll with whatever i want.  breakfast for dinner? sweet.  black bean burgers out of the freezer depths? neat! he is positive guy.

    mom is easy to please too, but i feel the aforementioned pressure to do more and be IMPRESSIVE.

    normally, in my mind, that means i must slave away. but lately, i've been nothing but not excited to spend time in the kitchen, so i'm going to share with you my secret go-to weapon of looking like you're impressive but really expending very little effort at all.

    here's what you'll need to make what has been universally declared DELICIOUS, or what we call spicy sticky sweet chicken/pork in this house:

    • about 1 pound of white meat (i normally cut use boneless skinless chicken breast or inexpensive pork chops that i cut off the bones) 
    • 1 package of spaghetti-like noodles (i've used angel hair or thin spaghetti)
    • a vegetable of your choice that goes well with soy sauce (i usually use broccoli, but cauliflower, carrots, sugar snap peas, or really almost anything like that would work well--but broccoli IS a superfood)
    • honey
    • soy sauce (remember the sodium content of this--it will already be salty, so don't add any additional salt)
    • ginger (fresh or powdered from your spice rack)
    • hot sauce
    • garlic (again, fresh or powdered from your spice rack)
    • parmesan cheese
    now, i'm a "i throw things together and taste them and then add until it tastes better" kind of cook, but here's the general idea of how to make the marinade.

    • create a base of soy sauce. to feed three of us, i used about 1/2 cup of soy sauce. you'll want to adjust based on how much sauce you want left over.
    • add about a teaspoon of honey to begin with. you may add more if you want it to taste sweeter.
    • add about 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and garlic to begin with.  you really will need to tinker with the spices to your individual taste. i usually end up adding additional garlic if it tastes too much like soy for my particular taste.
    • add three or four splashes of hot sauce, depending on how spicy your family likes it. don't be afraid of the hot sauce--even if you don't like spice, it's a necessary element to balance the other flavors.
    just mix them all together.  add the meat and let it marinate for about 15 minutes.  during this time, get your water started for the noodles and chop up your vegetables (or get them prepared for steaming).

    when you think that the meat has marinated enough to gather some flavor (if you're using chicken, the easiest way to tell is to see if the chicken has changed color to adopt the dark color of the marinade), throw it in a pan.  DO NOT PUT ALL OF THE MARINADE WITH IT.  trust me.  essentially, you're just going to stirfry this meat over about medium/medium-high heat; by this time, your noodles should already be in and you should start your vegetables.

    when you cook it, you want the heat to be high enough to cook the meat, but not so high that the sauce in the meat begins to burn.  if you keep it at medium/medium-high, you should see the sauce bubbling and creating a liquid to braise the meat in. 

    once the meat is cooked, add the marinade.  YOU CANNOT SERVE THIS SAUCE UNTIL YOU'VE BOILED IT, since it's been with raw meat. if you boil it, however, it will be safe to eat.  this should be the last step, and while you're doing this, you can take your noodles off of the stove and drain them. 

    when the meat has boiled a bit in the marinade (keep the heat at the same level), turn it off.  serve the meat over the noodles, with spoonfuls of sauce.  serve the vegetable on the side. 

    i often add parmesan cheese to my noodles, and it adds a nice complementary flavor to the asian zing of the dish.

    it may sound like a strange dish, and i wish that i would think ahead to take pictures of these yummy things i'm making, but it's a really easy dish to make and it impresses.

    from start to finish, it's probably a 30 minute meal.  take that, rachael ray!

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Spinach Ricotta Bites

    In my search for recipes to sneak veggies into my toddler's diet (and mine), I found this one over at Weelicious. Weelicious never disappoints, so I gave it a try.

    I'm not going to write out the entire recipe because there were no changes from the original.

    You can find the recipe HERE.

    Why spinach?

    Everyone who knows me knows I hate spinach. It grosses me out. Something about it... blah. But I know, as did this smarty pants, that spinach is one of nature's super foods. I want to be super. I want my family to be super. So we try spinach... over and over... until we can find a way to keep it in our mouths and out of the trash.

    Did you know that calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like Spinach contain more nutrients than anything else? Researchers have identified at least 13 different flavonoid compounds that function as antioxidants and as anticancer agents. The nutrients in spinach can also help provide protection against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, and arthritis. To read more about spinach, visit the spinach page at The World's Healthiest Foods.

    These little spinach ricotta bites are a tasty and sneaky way to get spinach into your diet.

    So what's the verdict?

    What do you think?

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    A Bottle Closer to Buff

    Since our lovely Elizabeth is currently preparing for baby, I decided to postpone my post until today to give you all something riveting to take you through the weekend (We’ll see if that actually happens).

    I posted a Link to Health last week that I titled "The Best Weight Loss Drink." It was an article about research from Vanderbilt University showing the physiological effects that a certain drink could have, particularly on blood pressure, alertness, and energy expenditure. The article was discussing that one drink that doctors are constantly telling us we need more of and exercises tends to leave us with less of...water.

    I was going to just let the article speak for itself, but I think it is really important to focus in on the necessity of water in your health and fitness journey because it is a major contributing factor toward success (also, I have the slight nagging feeling that not everyone clicks on the Links to Health...so water gets a post all it's own).

    You can stop rolling your eyes now. Aside from the aforementioned physiological benefits, drinking water contributes to successful weight loss. I'm speaking from experience here kids. I did a Health and Fitness challenge at the beginning of this year called 10 in '10. The premise was setting healthy lifestyle goals for the first 10 weeks of 2010. One of my "goals" was to completely eliminate soda from my diet. Basically, it was a way for me to avoid using the term “resolutions”, because I was technically only committing myself to 10 weeks…rather than an entire year. Wouldn't you know it though...doing something for 10 weeks goes long past the "28 days necessary to make a habit" and the soda thing stuck. It's now August and I am still soda free in 2010.

    With the soda goal, I also decided to significantly cut back on drinks with calories. I'd rather have my calories elsewhere...you know…somewhere important like Sweetarts and Lemonheads. So with that, I decided to mainly switch to water. I know. I know. You are probably thinking...water is boring and rarely goes well with (pizza/steak/pancakes/enter your chosen food to gripe about here). You also might be thinking about all the extra..ahem..breaks you will need to take when you up your water consumption. The fact is though...you get used to it. Your body gets used to it. The "breaks" decrease significantly. Water becomes what you like to drink with your meals and you feel good doing it. The health and weight loss benefits become a quick and easy bonus. Plus, you can always add a slice of lemon or lime (or even try flavored water or Crystal Light) if you really need some flavor with your drink.

    Most people realize that drinking water will help your body to flush out stored water (thereby decreasing the water stored in various body parts). Some people might also realize that drinking water helps liver and kidney function. When the kidneys are deprived of water, your liver has to switch into overdrive to compensate. This lowers the livers productivity (i.e. the liver can't work as hard to convert stored fat to energy --metabolism--) because it has to work twice as hard. What you may not realize though, is the effect water can have on your muscle tone. Workouts become much more efficient when muscles are hydrated, because they tend to contract more easily. This is my favorite benefit of drinking water. But remember to increase your intake of water when exercising.

    Links to Health:

    BYU Study Finds Sibling Relationships Positively Effect Mental Health

    Follow Along as the “Get in Shape Girl” Shreds it for 30 Days

    Lance Armstrong Accused of Using Performance Enhancing Drugs

    August is National Immunization Awareness Month (as a Public Health girl, I had to throw this in)

    Avoiding Emotional Overeating