Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hobbies to Keep Healthy

I noticed a theme with Ashlee and Teachergirl’s posts this week…did you? Talk about two ladies with a lot of new challenges on their plates, but as usual, they are both taking it in strides and like champs. With challenges, as Ashlee mentioned on Monday, often comes stress.

Avoiding overindulgences (cheesecake anyone?) isn’t the only way we need to remember to keep healthy. Mental health is an important factor in our overall health - and letting stress overtake us is a big no-no. The only thing I can do on days like today -- when I left at 7am, had class, ran errands, worked from my laptop, and then had three separate meetings for various volunteer projects, only to return to house full of guests (that I forgot were coming over) at 8:30pm -- is remind myself that there is fun on the horizon. Hobbies clear my head and combat the exhaustion when that “I’m drowning” feeling starts to set it.

I know it’s hard to think about hobbies when your plate is full and your mind is tired. Hobbies and good times are the first thing to fall by the wayside when demands take over your life. But hobbies are important to mental health, and mental health is important to overall health. It’s something you have GOT to make time for.

I’ll share a few of my hobbies, but as with exercise, find something you love and will enjoy doing. I guarantee that some “me time” will make all the difference in how you feel and how you handle life’s stressors.

One of my favorite go-to stress relievers - scrapbooking. I learned from the best (my mom!) and have been doing it for something like 15 years now. On the rare occasion that my mom and I are going to have an afternoon off on the same day, I like to make the drive up to her house to spend the afternoon scrapping and gabbing.

As I am sure I’ve mentioned, I LOVE to travel. My husband and I are known for dropping everything for a spontaneous weekend away. It’s something we love to do, so we try to make room in our budget for trips as often as possible. I’ve read that couples that travel together have happier marriages and I certainly believe it.

I also like to spend downtime doing online reading. I always try to give myself a few minutes a day to catch up on articles, newspapers, and blogs. I’ve never been much of a fiction girl (definitely strange for an English major), but I love to give my favorite sites a quick once over in the morning. How else would I find your Links to Health? ☺

I also have hobbies on the horizon this weekend. An art show and new restaurant date with my husband, the Alzheimer’s Memory walk, a religious event, and of course college football (A big game in our house. Hubs' team vs. Mine)!

Hobbies definitely help you to keep healthy. They give you something to look forward to…and help you get through the swamp.

Links to Health:

Obesity Costs Higher for Women Than Men


The 6 Worst Fitness Habits – Are You Doing Any of These?


A Controversial Approach to the: Disparities = Obesity Debate

Spray Away Your Shyness?

How to Get Rid of Prescription Medications

Fun Fall Activities That Burn Calories

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A little peek...

Because I am officially "on track" with my lifestyle changes (I am going to be a bridesmaid in December, which is helping motivate me), I thought I would give you a little peek into my pantry and fridge to see what I eat to stay on track.

1. Peter Pan Whipped Peanut Butter
This stuff is so good! I like to spread it on 1/2 an English Muffin (more on that later) and eat it on the go. And it has less fat and calories than traditional peanut butter.

For 2 Tbsp:
150 calories
12g Fat

2. Cabot Cheese Snack Pack
I buy these at Costco and they come in a bag that can last me up to 2 months! I love to eat them with turkey pepperoni (which is up next) or cut them up and put them on corn tortillas with chicken. Or to eat with apples. Or grapes. Or alone. Go crazy!

For 1 Snack Pack:
70 calories
4.5g Fat

3. Hormel Turkey Pepperoni
I could eat turkey pepperoni every day. I already told you it makes a great snack with Cabot cheese (I use half a serving of the pepperoni), but the best is when I put it on homemade pizza. so good!!

17 Pieces:
73 Calories
3.5g Fat

4. Thomas Light Multigrain English Muffins:
I buy these every time I go to the store. Delish in a peanut butter/honey combo or in a homemade Egg McMuffin...

Each Muffin:
100 Calories
1g Fat

5. Weight Watchers Yogurt
I have a love affair with key lime pie yogurt. The Weight Watchers version is amazing, especially when frozen (have you tried freezing your yogurt? Heaven!).

Each Yogurt:
100 Calories
.5g Fat

6. Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle
Whenever I am in need of a chocolate fix, this is where I turn. The ice cream is smooth, the flavor is delightful, and it is often on sale.

Each Truffle:
100 Calories
2f Fat

7. Madras Lentils
When I moved to DC, I fell in love with a restaurant called Kabob Palace. While the food is really good, the fat content is crazy! At the store, I found these lentils which almost taste like the rice and chickpeas from Kabob Palace and totally satisfies my cravings...

1/2 pack:
120 Calories
5g Fat

So there's your glimpse. What do you keep in your fridge to keep you on track?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

turn off the noise.

i've always been a reader.  if i could find a spare minute, i was usually found with my nose in a book.  that makes sense, i suppose, if you know that i have a phd in english (yes, i know i should be capitalizing, but it's my one grammatical rebellion in blogging).

once i began my graduate school career, and the internet became more of an everpresent feature in most of our lives, that book immersion has given way to a nearly constant stream of media exposure: email, websites, streaming tv and movies, cable at any hour of the day.

i am grateful for all of it, for the most part.  the internet makes it possible for me to work from home a lot, which i will be even more grateful for once our sweet baby comes in april.  the internet makes it possible to connect with a host of people that i never would have met.  i can pay my bills, order a pizza, research the best washer and dryer to buy, and express myself in a creative way through a blog.

but i'm beginning to think that, for all its blessings, the constant inflow of information has taken its toll on me. 

i was talking to my husband late last night about my hormone-induced pregnancy anxiety. as i talked about the what-ifs and the what-will-we-dos, i realized something: i am more anxious about the pregnancy that i'm nearly 1/3 of the way through than i am about the days, weeks, months, and years that follow.

i'm not afraid to raise a child. i'm not even afraid to give birth to a child. i'm afraid to grow a child.

what if x happens? what if y happens? the statistical probabilities and the sensationalized stories and the list of foods to avoid and cautions about supportive shoes and support hose and sleeping on your side and folate and every other piece information my sponge-like brain has picked up over my years of adulthood swim in my brain. 

in the course of all of this swimming information, i began to forget what i knew about myself.  i normally pride myself on being able to handle most anything. i consider the possibilities, make a plan, and move forward.  now, in all of this melee, i seem to feel paralyzed by both information and self-doubt. 

i began to wonder why. 

in the massive push of information that we are surrounded by every day, i think we are quite susceptible to forget our own instincts, to ignore the still small voice that guides us to good decisions and wise behavior every day. our better nature, the one that tells us to take the stairs and choose the salad over the fried chicken, knows what to do. 

knowledge is wonderful, once we implement it successfully. but knowledge for knowledge's sake can, i think, be somewhat detrimental.  who are we listening to? what are we stimulating our brains with? why do they know better than we already do?

we talk a lot here about the importance of healthy bodies and healthy choices.  lately, for me, i have been considering how integral a part of that formula a well-centered mind is.  i am beginning, myself, to realize how much one feeds the other, how reciprocal that relationship is.

my suggestion today is this: pay attention to what and who you are listening to.

turn off the voices that tell you you're not enough. turn off the media that encourages you to doubt what you already know is true--that you are strong enough to accomplish whatever comes your way, that you are wise enough to make the right decisions and, when you are not, you are wise enough when to ask for help, and that you have the capacity to be all that you want to be. unplug the things that keep you from being quiet, from resting from your labors, from finding inner peace.

take a deep breath. remember what blessings you have. take stock of the love that surrounds you and the joy that you have been privileged to feel.

be inspired, once again, by your own strengths.  take an honest stock of who you are and, even if you've been feeling anxious, beleaguered, and weary, i believe you'll see all of the majesty of exactly who you are.

i am working on doing just that--not just for myself, but for my family and for those that i work with, love, and serve.  we are important to those around us--whatever we can do to make ourselves even stronger (in mind, body, and spirit) will help us to create the life we've always wanted.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Stress Management Tips

Well I'm back. And my world as I knew it has been completely turned upside down. Almost three weeks ago, we welcomed Avery Rose into the world. She weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 22 inches long.


Wow! Things are very different with two babies. I definitely have some learning to do and have been asking all the mommies of two or more I know. My biggest struggle has been figuring out how to keep my cool since the stress in our house has increased about ten fold.

Here are a few things that I've learned so far...

1. When you feel in the dumps (physically, mentally, or all of the above), don't forego everything and end up a bump on the log. Try to maintain a couple of your daily tasks--dishes, laundry, making the bed, whatever. It's hard to feel bad about for yourself when you can look at your day and say that you accomplished something.

2. Be sure to drink lots of water. This will help fend off stress related headaches. Plus I've noticed that when I'm thirsty I am a lot more irritable.

3. Take your vitamins, include some extra Vitamin C. Stress has been known to weaken your immune system, so protect yourself and your family with some C.

4. Don't make any plans you can't break. Whether you just had a baby or you're working to finish a project for school or work, when you know you're entering a stressful time, try to avoid making plans you can't break. This will reduce the added stress if you need to reschedule.


5. Sleep.

6. Take a walk.


7. Finally, laugh. Laughter reduces stress and can lower your blood pressure. Fake it if you have to. Chances are that your fake laughing will be so ridiculous that it won't be fake for long.


Friday, September 24, 2010

A new face...

"A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment." - Jane Austen

In real life, things don't happen as rapidly as Ms. Austen implied...but at times it can certainly feel like they do!

My name is Laura, and I am very excited to join with the lovely ladies of So Maybe Mom Was Right to provide a window into my world.

I am...a woman. A wife. A mom. A daughter. A sister. A friend. Evolving.

At 26 going on 27, I am married to a wonderful man, Daniel; we recently celebrated our second wedding anniversary. In January we were blessed with the arrival of a son - Dylan Logan. As if that wasn't enough to fill the walls of our quirky old house, we also share space with a spastic beagle/Jack Russell mix and three cats collectively known as "the boys." I work part-time in the education field, and full-time in the wife/mom field. I was born in the Midwest, but grew up in the South. I have an old fashioned foundation, with some moderate bricks and mortar.

I love...my family, my friends, being a mom, the Florida Gators, all most things organic and green, literature - specifically British and Childrens', ice cream, my faith, the internet, my iPhone (how others or myself made it through the day without one I'll never know!!), Page Six, reality TV, gerber daisies, pedicures, chocolate truffle flavored coffee with two Splenda and a dash of cream, Autumn, Christmas cookies, painting, Bob Dylan, van Gogh, bistros, painting, cities where you can use your own two feet as transportation, a perfectly made fire in winter, fresh herbs, anything pumpkin or coconut flavored, Italy, libraries, learning to cook, satire, heels.

I despise...exercise, apple juice, the cotton in medicine bottles, decaf, insincerity, mayonnaise, harsh chemicals and byproducts, pork, the color purple, injustice, not being perfect at everything.

I'm not a green nut or tree hugger. I'm not Susie Homemaker. I'm not perfect. The battle is that I try to be.

Hello, my name is Laura. I am a blogger and I hope you'll join me on this new adventure...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's Good to Be Green

I have been going back and forth as to how I should start this post…but I figure it’s best to just jump right in.

I just drank spinach. Actually, I’m drinking it right now.

Yeah, you read that right. Spinach. Liquid. Green. Fresh. Organic. ----Green---- Spinach.

So we all know that Ashlee is the queen of hiding vegetables in food in a brilliant attempt to make them nutritious for her family, but I found something even she was slightly apprehensive to try. The “Green Monster.”

Have you heard of it? It’s a smoothie that is all the rage in online health and fitness circles, originally created by the fabulous Angela of Oh She Glows (a blog you should definitely be reading if you’re not). There are now thousands of people with dozens of different versions of the “Green Monster,” but the premise of them all is the same…mixing spinach into your smoothie for all the health benefits it can provide.

Followers of the “Green Monster Movement” swear that by drinking this green drink, they see an increase in energy, they feel better, their skin becomes more clear and vibrant, and even that their hair and nails grow faster. I was definitely a skeptic. Not necessarily that the “Green Monster” could provide all these aforementioned benefits, but instead that it would not taste disgusting. I mean…it’s green. Smoothies are meant to pink, orange, even purple. Not green. But if I am anything, I am a gal willing to try anything once – and now, I am a gal that is part of the Green Monster movement.

I made my first Green Monster as an afternoon snack today. Obviously, I cannot yet attest to all of the benefits, but I do know enough about health and nutrition to realize two cups of spinach in ANY form will be good in the long run. However, I can attest to one thing – Green Monsters IS GOOD.

Once I got over the initially scare and took a sip…I was sold. This is my new go-to smoothie. Why? Because it tastes like every other smoothie I’ve made, but it now includes multitudes of extra vitamins and nutrients. I was surprised by how good it is. You definitely need to try one for yourself!

I decided to take Angela’s original Green Monster recipe and alter it a bit to suit my own tastes. Basically, I added peaches, but you should tweak the fruit content to be something that you enjoy! 

Peachy Good Green Monster

2 Cups Organic Spinach
1 Cup Milk (your choice of cow’s milk, soy, hemp, almond, rice, etc).
2 Small Peaches
1 Banana
Ice



In the original recipe, Angela adds an optional tablespoon of flax. I didn’t have any of that on hand, but I might try it next time.


Place the ingredients into the blender in the following order:

1) Flax and Washed Fresh Spinach
2) Peaches
3) Banana
4) Milk


According to the original recipe, the reason for this order is so the heavier ingredients weigh down the flax and spinach and keep it from flying up around the blender and sticking to the side.

1)   Blend everything on the highest setting for about a minute
2)   Add ice and blend on the ice setting
3)   Place in fancy glass in order to feel less awkward when drinking something Green



Let me know when you try a Green Monster...and let me know when you like it!



Links to Health:




 




 



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another Day...

Continuing on the "A Day in the Life..." series...

5:40am- The first time my alarm goes off. I turn it off and turn on the timer on my iPhone for 20 minutes (I need an initial wake up before I actually get out of bed)

6:00 am- Finally drag myself out of bed to get ready for the day

6:30 am- Breakfast of Quaker Oats High Fiber Oatmeal (Cinnamon Swirl) with 1/2 a banana and 1/2 a cup of milk. AND 1/2 an English muffin with 1 Tbsp of Whipped Peanut Butter (much better choice than regular peanut butter)

6:45 am- Leave for school, making sure to bring my water, lunch and snack (and all the grading I failed to do the night before. It is a daily failure)

8:19 am- School starts. Panic ensues as my students realize they are having a pop quiz. I love creating that feeling

10:59 am- Lunch! Sandwich made of Nature's Own Double Fiber Wheat Bread, ham, Laughing Cow light spreadable cheese, a little bit of Miracle Whip, and mustard. A Yoplait yogurt (Boston Creme Pie), and an apple. Sit and gossip with other English teachers about Jersey Shore, Biggest Loser and Glee.

3:01 pm- School ends, and I quickly eat my snack of grapes before heading to the Cyber Cafe (a computer lab at my school) to monitor students staying after school (of course, my students follow me, asking why they had a pop quiz, and what they can do to recover the grade. I love 10th graders)

5:30 pm- Head home, bringing papers to grade...we all know what happens there... And for a snack I have string cheese (miraculously, papers are graded. Amazing!)

7:00 pm- Dinner!! 1 cup of brown rice and 4 oz of chicken, mixed together with a curry sauce from Trader Joe's. I always have extra, which works well for lunch the next day. Dessert consisted of a Weight Watchers dessert.

11 pm: Collapse in bed (dreaming of my students and the darn pop quiz)

Things to improve on:
1. EXERCISE!! I am thinking that I need to go to the gym right after work, because once I am home, I am done.
2. Lack of veggies in my diet. I love fruit, but veggies and I don't really mix that well.
3. Sleep. I need more.
4. Organization with grading papers. Its only going to get worse.

Any other suggesting??

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

getting back on track.

cheese pizza. chicken fajitas. cupcakes.

it was a c-food meltdown over here in teachergirl world this week.  the pizza was delicious, but it started the slow descent into no longer listening to my body and instead feeding my body what my mind thought would be delicious. in some cases, it was right. but a lot of the time, i ended up feeling more nauseated than i needed to be because i wasn't eating smart.

luckily for me, i have a long and storied history of jumping off the rails and finding my way back.  i feel like i talk about that a lot, but since i've been working the past few days on getting back onto the healthy, smart eating track, i thought i'd share some of my concrete, time-honored strategies with you.

when i need to quickly get back on track, i focus on:
  • water.  most of the time, when i'm eating badly, i'm also increasing my sodium intake, which brings with it a great deal of water retention.  whether you're just feeling sluggish or ran screaming from the scale, water weight will come off quickly when you pump up your water intake.  meg has already talked about the health benefits of water, but when you're jumping back on the wagon, try to amp up your water intake. it will keep you fuller longer, it will ensure that dehydration doesn't mimic hunger, and it will flush any impurities out of your system faster.
  • getting the most bang for my buck.  most of the time when i'm off the track, i'm eating a lot of empty calories (cupcakes, i'm looking at you.). i try to completely reverse that trend by making every single thing i eat count.  even if i do reach for a leftover, i try to make it matter.  i might choose protein rich meatloaf (not perfect, but in an empty refrigerator, you do what you can) over tasty goldfish crackers because i know i'm getting both protein and fat with the meatloaf rather than empty carbs.  for my next snack, i might choose yogurt and a piece of fruit, which is less calories but packed with nutrients, fiber, and calcium.  i try to make my calories matter and, as i do, i notice that i'm eating a lot more with a lot less impact.
  • paying attention to my body's mixed signals.  am i craving sweets after i just ate? is that habit or my body's miscues because of what i've been feeding it? i try to pay attention to the signals my body gives me and, to a certain extent, ignore them. i think, for me, after a few days of eating badly, my body stops giving me real cues. to get back to where i want to be, i have to ignore what my body seems to be saying and listen to my brain.  i know what the good choices are.  even if i don't make the best ones every single time, getting back on track means deliberately choosing good over refined.
  • making the smart compromises.  i've done this enough times to know that going from zero to sugar overload and back again does nothing but make me insane. i can't go cold turkey on things like sweets or carbs.  that's me, though.  whatever works for you, you should do.  for me, i have to start substituting wisely.  instead of a cupcake, i choose a sugar free popsicle (so much easier on my stomach right now too!) or a few chocolate chips.  they satisfy my sweet tooth but also help me keep myself in control.  for me, this can be a two-step process, depending on how out of control i am that week.  when i substitute, hopefully i am also controlling my portions. but, even if i'm not able to do both of those things, making smart substitutions mitigates the damage. 
  • writing everything down. i've talked before about how recording things is my saving grace. it's also my repentance process, to a certain extent. when i am accountable, i am at least facing the reality of my decisions. when i begin to write things down and measure portions again, i am on the fast track to success.
they're not the steps to curing cancer, but they work for me and have for years.  my healthy living process has come in fits and starts, but it most assuredly revolves around real life and my very real imperfections.  next time you look around and see a train that's not quite on the track you want it to be, know that you can right that wrong (or, in my case, series of wrongs) and start again to live the healthy life you want to live.  you have the power to do it--each of us does.  we just have to have the courage to begin again.  and again.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Day in the Life


Day In the Life

Similar to Carrie, I’m going to give you glimpse into a day in my world. There isn’t anything too interesting going on, just a normal Wednesday in Gator country.

Forgive the fact that I’m about to be totally blunt about my awful eating habits yesterday. I guess the idea is to be truthful…


7:00am

I wake up all of 60 minutes before I have to be at work. I definitely need to work on getting to bed on time so I can wake up early and ready to start the day. I get a bottle of water and head out the door.

I pick up a fruit salad from the grocery store on the way to work (I’m an on-the-go type girl…but we all know that). I like quick and easy. A smarter and more financially minded girl would cut her own fruit and put it in Tupperware the night before…but this morning stop at Publix is an occurrence more often than I would like to admit.

8:30am

I arrive at the office for a 9:00am client only to realize that said client isn’t arriving until 1:00pm. Perhaps I should have double-checked my appointments last night (wasn’t it me that was showing you all my calendar a few weeks ago?). I decide to stay and work on some files rather than head back home (where I would inevitably watch a rerun of Gilmore Girls I had seen 50 times and accomplish nothing all morning).

10:00am

I start to get hungry but don’t want to lose momentum at work. I decide to go for old trusty – a chocolate covered granola bar. I have a stash in my desk drawer. Mmmm… Sugary delight. This ought to keep me satisfied for twenty minutes or so.




12:00pm

Hungry again. But my client will be here at 1:00pm, so I don’t really want to go pick up food. I start digging through the desk drawer again and find a heat up serving of Campbells Chicken Noodle Soup. I usually try and have a healthy vegetable or something with something quite so sodium-laden, but alas…no options.


3:00pm
Having a trying afternoon at work and I’m starting to hit that 3:00pm wall. I decide to have some cashews. I figured out a long time ago that one capful equals about one serving, so I’m able to avoid totally overindulging on this healthy fat.



6:00pm

I head to the gym for some strength training and a short session on the elliptical. I was definitely in a workout funk and wasn’t totally feeling it, but I knew I would have trouble getting workouts in this weekend. I try to finish strong and head home.

7:00pm
The hubs had a meeting for school this evening, so I’m on my own for dinner. I heat up some frozen chicken and veggies.

11:30pm
Bedtime!



So I think it’s clear I need to work on a few things (who doesn’t ?):
·      Getting more sleep and waking up early and prepared to start the day
·      Prepare breakfast and healthy snacks in advance so I don’t have to search for convenience foods
·      Making sure I have good options for meals when I can’t get away from the office
·      Read my calendar to make sure I don’t go to work when I don’t need to!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

day in the life of teachergirl.

here at so maybe mom was right, we've been pondering a "day in the life" series that chronicles how we actually make the choices that we do. i'm not sure that we completely decided to start it this week (hi, girls! hope you don't mind!) but since i've been thinking about the choices i'm making, it makes sense for me to kick it off. look for others to continue the trend--i can't wait to see what they do with it!

(in the interest of full disclosure and background: i am 10 weeks pregnant.  that colors most everything that i choose related to what i eat and how i eat and when i eat.)

6:45 am: 15 minutes to go before we HAVE to leave the house, and i remember that i haven't packed my husband's lunch. thankfully, he's eaten the grape package down to a single serving, so i throw that and a hastily put together PB&J into a lunchbox with some chips and a granola bar and call it good. it's not great, and i think later that i should have added another piece of fruit, but i was pressed for time.

for myself, i chose a whole wheat bagel with PB&J.  i could only eat half before i got to class because i wasn't feeling great. i wrapped the rest up and stuck it in my bag. i am impressed, when i look at the nutritional facts to add them to my food diary, that it has a whopping 10 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber.  i suddenly feel much better about my breakfast choice.

because i park where i do, i get about a half mile walk in, one way, from parking lot to class location.  today, it was difficult to do, but i managed it in ten minutes. slow, but i like having the regular source of exercise.

8:45 am: after class, i head up to my office where i meet with a few students and handle student emails. feeling strangely hungry, i finish my bagel and try to down my 24 ounce bottle of water but only make it halfway. one of my goals throughout the day is to stay hydrated, and my handy travel bottle makes that a lot easier.  i like knowing how much i'm drinking because it keeps me on target.

10:00 am: i get a bit more exercise in walking from bus stop to house, and snack on a pear when i get home to try to stem the tide of either impending nausea or ravenous hunger. i'm actually still not sure which it was.  preparing to go to the gym, i wanted to have something in my stomach.

10:30 am: i arrive at the gym feeling bad.  i begin a workout, but start feeling worse. i end up leaving after only a few minutes on the recumbent bike, but don't feel bad about it at all.

11:30 am: choose roasted chicken, black bean and corn salsa, and sour cream on a whole wheat tortilla as my lunch option.  i could just drink sour cream right now, but manage to stop myself.

1:15 pm: leave for my doctor's appointment.  see the baby on the ultrasound for the first time, see a little baby fist pump, am thrilled and excited that all is well. i ask the doctor how much i should be monitoring my weight because i am already overweight for my height. he suggests doing what i already know to do--eat right, exercise, and recognize that a lot of the weight gain in pregnancy is tied to genetics and not what you do.  i recognize that i may, in fact, need to cede control over this part of my life a bit once the 2nd and 3rd trimesters hit, but i am so proud at this point that i have not only not gained according to my scale, but have lost according to the doctor's scale.  i continue to have a personal goal to not gain much, if any, weight in the first trimester, though i obviously quite enjoy eating. :)

2:30 pm: the irony is not lost on me, but my husband and i go celebrate our awesome day (and our cute, vibrant, active fetus) with a mcflurry.  delicious. then i eat half a cookie. as i eat said cookie, i note to my dear husband how ironic it is that the doctor just told me about green vegetables and i am gravitating as far from it as possible. in my defense, i have wanted a blizzard/mcflurry/ice cream concoction for at least three or four days and i chose the smallest version.

3:30 pm: i begin to feel nauseous, which just makes me laugh. sugar in high doses does nothing but make me sick.  i love this baby and its healthy tendencies.

6:15 pm: because we have a busy evening ahead, i make pizza dough and leave it to rise while we go to our church class.  i will top it with sauce, reduced fat italian cheese, and serve it with a green salad.  if my husband inhales that pizza, i'll make myself a pita pizza.  i had thought to just pick up a cheap pizza from a local establishment, but making my own seems like a much better choice.  more labor intensive, but much healthier.  

the fact that i will work diligently to eat a salad with this pizza will be a triumph of green vegetables in my life. it has been a struggle to eat anything other than fruit that remotely resembles healthy food.

also, because if i don't eat something i will be sick before 9pm when the pizza will be done, i will eat a snack of string cheese and cantaloupe. it seems like if i say that now, it will be true.

so there you have it. my day in a nutshell. while it's not all of it, it's the substance of my eating and moving choices today. they're not great, but i think you can probably see how i try to negotiate the world of food choices with a lens toward throwing in as many healthy choices as possible.  it's all a balancing act--when you need a mcflurry, you choose the smallest size.  when you want pizza, you make it yourself.

and then you add a salad. :)

ETA: the pizza dough didn't rise, we went to get those cheap pizzas, and i ate too much of it. it was delicious and i'm still enjoying the leftovers.  but i did eat a salad. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ashlee and Crew

Ashlee is busy spending every precious moment with her darling newborn Avery Rose and big sister Emma Kate. In the meantime, surely pictures of beautiful little girls will tide you over until she is back from "maternity leave."

 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It Happens to Us All

Sometimes you have to admit when there is too much on your plate. Today is one of those days. With school, work, and studying - I am totally overloaded today. I'll be back next week to torture you with more fitness tools and tricks.

In the meantime, this weeks links to health:


Swine Flu Genes Traced to North Caroline Factory Farm

Things You Should and Shouldn't Buy at Target (Consider this one mental and financial health!)


Healthy Eggs Benedict Recipe


10 Healthy Date Ideas

Reading Food Labels Deemed More Important Than Exercise

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Little Help...

When I checked my email this morning, I had a message from Weight Watchers: Come back and you can get a month free on the Monthly Pass.

For those of you who don't know, the Monthly Pass is a pass that allows you to attend unlimited meetings and have access to the Weight Watchers website (eTools). Weight Watchers has several different payment methods, but I like the Monthly Pass because you pay once a month ($40) and works out cheaper than pay-as-go.

It was like Weight Watchers was reading my mind. With the summer ending and school starting, my eating and exercise habits have been horrible!! I could blame stress...heck, I could blame a lot of things, but the truth is, I can only blame myself. And my laziness.
I know that different people follow different weight loss/maintenance plans. I subscribe to the Weight Watchers mentality because it fits my lifestyle. I like the flexibility of the points system and feeling like I am not on a diet (remember that this is a lifestyle change,...).

What works for you? How do you manage to "stay on plan" through the stress? I'm not asking rhetorically, I really want to know. Fill me in on what keeps you going...

Meanwhile, I will go back to my Weight Watchers meetings (I actually really enjoy them, I have a really funny leader) and work on my goals (one of which is to reach my goal weight by March, just before Spring Break. Wish me luck!)

*Weight Watchers has not asked me to advertise for them. I just like their program.

Ashlee is a Mom! (again!)


Avery Rose


Ashlee delivered Avery last night about 11pm. We are all praying for a safe and speedy recovery for Mom and baby! 
Congrats Ashlee!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

keepin' things moving.

not to tread indelicately upon subjects that, perhaps, we are not all comfortable discussing, but it's something important that we should all consider. 

FIBER.

if you don't have it, things stop...progressing. if you have too much, things might move too quickly.  those things, along with your cardiovascular health and your ability to keep cholesterol levels healthy, are important elements of a healthy life.  when your gastrointestinal system is happy, the rest of you is likely happy as well. it's a sign that your diet and your lifestyle is in balance.

lately, i've been trying to make small choices to include more fibrous foods into my life.  right now, my stomach has been less than serene and calm, so anything i can do to calm the hormonal tide, the better.  according to dieticians, we women should be aiming for 25 grams of fiber a day, at the minimum; if you have particular health-related challenges, you might need to up that number a bit.  these numbers and these statistics can seem daunting.  but making fiber a more conscious part of your eating decisions is actually probably not as difficult as you might think.

the easy choices are things that shout at you from the television commercials or from the bread aisle: you can choose a yogurt, for example, that contains extra fiber (i am a fan of the fiber one yogurts, to be honest--they are snack-size and 50 calories with a whopping 5 grams of fiber per serving) or a whole wheat bread that has double the fiber (my current bread contains 5 grams and 50 calories a slice).  these are easy ways to incorporate some extra doses of fiber into your life.

but the smartest choices are the ones that you can make from whole foods: grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes.  this is where i usually get a bit out of my element, and begin thinking that eating fiber-rich foods means that i have to eat bran.

it's not true!

did you know, for example, that these beautiful babies have 8 grams of fiber in a 1 cup serving?

image courtesy of theraspberrypatch.com

   
they are also high in vitamin c and only contain 60 calories per one cup serving.  now that's a snack you can feel good about. if you're like me, and refuse to buy the fresh raspberries because they're so expensive, watch for sales on frozen fruits! our local publix recently had a BOGO sale on all of their "smoothie" fruit, and thanks to our loyal commenter DLDLoe, i know think of them as more than smoothie ingredients. they are tasty straight out of the freezer as a quick and easy snack!

another option is beans.  if you're feeling cuban, go for black beans, which have a whopping 15 grams of fiber in a one cup serving (which is approximately 280 calories, which may seem like quite a lot, but one cup of black beans goes a LONG way toward a series of delicious burritos). 


image courtesy of http://www.whatscookingamerica.net/

but, you may be surprised to know that pinto beans have the same amount of fiber as black beans.  this brings joy to my heart, since fat free refried pinto beans (granted, not exactly the same, but close enough to make me happy) are about the only source of protein that makes me routinely happy right now.

these may seem like the obvious choices--fruit and beans.  but did you know that the usual suspects in american diets actually can be high fiber heroes?  here are some easy ways to incorporate fiber-rich foods into your diet without twisting yourself into a pretzel:
  • throw some fiber into your casserole! frozen green peas contain 14 grams for a one cup portion. 
  • steam in some gastrointestinal health: one cup of cooked broccoli (a superfood for folate and vitamin c as well) contains 5 grams of fiber and one cup of zucchini contains 3 grams.
  • bake up some fiber! one medium russet potato (who doesn't love a good baked potato) contains 4 grams.
  • grab a fruity fiber snack: an apple, pear, banana, or orange will add between 3 and 5 grams of fiber to your daily intake.
when you take care of your fiber intake, you'll be making huge strides towards a happy, healthy colon--and a happy, healthy life. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

For Parents and Lazy Chefs

I found the most fabulous thing at Publix this week - (healthy!) Deli Kid's Meals! These things are great. They seem perfect for parents on the go or those too lazy to pack their own lunch for work/school.



The hubs and I were picking up some stuff for dinner the other night and we spotted these awesome little packs. He and I were chatting about how they would even be good for quick and easy lunches for us. I picked one up Wednesday morning on the way to work and it was great!

The options that I saw included:


Turkey: Publix oven roasted turkey breast on a honey wheat roll, apple and grape packet, mini raisins and organic white milk.
Peanut Butter: Creamy peanut butter on a honey wheat roll, string cheese, organic apple sauce, mini carrots and a fruit drink.
Chicken Tenders: Publix Deli chicken tenders on a honey wheat roll, mini carrots, yogurt and a fruit drink.
Peanut Butter Apple Wrap: Creamy peanut butter with apples in a multigrain wrap, string cheese, mini carrots, yogurt and a fruit drink.
Ham Sandwich: Publix ham on a white sandwich thin, mini carrots, yogurt and apple juice.





I tried the Peanut Butter box and it was really good. I'm not a fan of string cheese or apple sauce, but I traded them lunchroom style at the office :) I think I 'll try the chicken tenders next.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Briam (Mixed Vegetables in Tomato Sauce)

Here's another YUMMY eggplant recipe. Healthy? Eh...There's nothing low fat about olive oil, but it is the "good" fat and this is PACKED with veggie power.

Before your eyes bug out at the volume of oil, I should tell you that this makes 12 servings. Needless to say, I generally only make this when we have dinner guests.

Ingredients
4 tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1/4 cup capers
2 cloves garlic
salt and ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 potatoes, sliced
2 eggplant, sliced
3 zucchini, sliced
3 green bell peppers, sliced
2 cups okra


Directions
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place three of the tomatoes, the 1/2 cup olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, parsley, mint, basil, oregano, capers, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process to create a fresh tomato sauce. Season with salt and black pepper; set aside. Chop the remaining tomato; set aside.
2.Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook and stir the onions until slightly golden, about 10 minutes.
3.Stir together the onions, potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, okra, the reserved chopped tomato, and the fresh tomato sauce, and place the mixture in a large baking pan. If needed, stir in a little water so that the vegetables are just covered with sauce.
4.Bake in the preheated oven until all vegetables are tender, about 1 hour.

Eggplant "fries"

I have two major motivators for making this recipe. 1) Eggplant is super cheap right now at Publix ($.99/ pound). I could do a whole post on the wonder that is eggplant! Hmmm... I'll put that on the "things to get ready for next week" list. 2)More importantly, COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS HERE! OH YEAH!

These "fries" combine the best of the fried mozzarella stick and the french fry. Sorry for the lack of pictures. :(

Ingredients
1 medium eggplant
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ (bread crumbs work just as well, but wheat germ is healthier)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup egg substitute OR 2 whole eggs
1 cup meatless spaghetti sauce, warmed (More if you're feeding a very "dippy" bunch.)

Directions
1.Cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-in.-thick slices, then cut each slice lengthwise into 1/2-in. strips. In a shallow dish, combine the wheat germ, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic salt. Dip eggplant sticks in egg substitute (or egg), then coat with wheat germ mixture. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray.
2.Spritz eggplant with cooking spray. (I use olive oil in my oil pump/sprayer from Pampered Chef.)Broil 4 in. from the heat for 3 minutes. Remove from the oven. Turn sticks and spritz with cooking spray. Broil 2 minutes longer or until golden brown. Serve with spaghetti sauce.

Note: Peeling is optional. Strictly a matter of taste.

Makes 8 servings

For an Indian flair, try mixing yogurt, molasses and curry powder as a dipping sauce. Approx. 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1+ Tbsp molasses and maybe 3/4 tsp curry. YUMMY!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Delicious. Healthy. Inexpensive. Perfection.


Soon after the school year gets in full swing, another major fall event approaches...
_College Football_

In our house, fall football equates to a holiday season.

Exhibit A:
The “guest book” at our wedding. No worries, there was a similarly awesome Univ of Alabama logo on the back for the boy.

Exhibit B:
A guest of honor at our wedding reception

Toss in an absurd amount of travel to games and you'll easily see where our interests lie. 

So what does this all mean in relation to health and fitness? It means I have to be more creative in my journey to be healthy and fit. Why? Because tailgate foods are perhaps the least healthy known to man (err…fan) – and often the most delicious. Who doesn’t love chips with 7-layer dip, brightly colored cookies, and (my personal favorite) buffalo wings.
I have a love affair with Buffalo Wings. I’ve even had the hubs take me to a sports bar for multiple Valentines Days and romantic occasions (when I was told to choose any restaurant I wanted) for some spicy NY lovin.
So of course I felt the need to offer you a healthy gameday solution for this tailgate delicacy, in preparation for opening weekend.

Perfect Healthy Boneless Buffalo Wings

Ingredients:

½ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Strips
1 Tsp Garlic powder
1 Tsp onion powder
6 Tsp of your preferred wing sauce (I use Louisiana Wing Sauce)
¼ Tsp Black Pepper


Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Put Panko Breadcrumbs in dish
Add spices/seasonings to breadcrumbs and mix well

Cut chicken strips into nugget sized pieces

Put chicken pieces into separate bowl

Add wing sauce to bowl containing chicken pieces and toss

Cover cookie sheet with aluminum foil or spray with non-stick cooking spray
Shake off chicken piece and coat with dry ingredients
Lay nuggets on cookie sheet

Bake for 10 minutes
Flip nuggets
Bake another 10 minutes
Broil for 4 minutes (I do this to make the nuggets crispy and more “winglike”)
Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

You better lose yourself in the music...

Have you ever been in the middle of a workout and exhaustion has set in? And then, all of a sudden, your song comes on...you get a second (or third) wind and are able to finish the work out...

The other day I was reading an article in The New York Times on how scientists had volunteers ride bicycles and listen to different songs. With each ride, the scientists changed the tempo of the music, sometimes slower and sometimes faster.

When the tempo was slower, the riders biked slower. When the tempo was faster, the riders biked faster. The best part is, the bikers didn't feel that either way was a particularly harder ride. They just reacted to the music. AMAZING!

Click HERE to read the article.

I think I always knew that music could influence my workout. When I would go for a run, I would always make sure that the music in the middle and end of the run had a heavier beat (like a rap song) or had an inspirational message (convincing me to finish). Only now, I have science to back me up! :)

But I always have such a hard time finding new songs. Do you? If I share my playlist, will you share yours? I have written before about needing to be entertained when I work out, so please share your songs so that I can add them to my list.

Playlist (in no particular order):
Eminem- Lose Yourself (clean version)
Moulin Rouge- Can Can
Smashing Pumpkins- The End is the Beginning is the End
Black Eyed Peas- Imma Be
Avril Lavigne/Little Mama- Girlfriend Remix
Fort Minor- Remember the Name (clean version)
Kayne West- Stronger (clean version)
Fatboy Slim- Rockafeller Skank
Madonna/Justin Timberlake- Four Minutes
Leona Lewis- Bleeding Love Remix
Fall Out Boy- Thanks for the Memories
Paramore- Misery Business
Pink- So What
Saul Williams- List of Demand
Chayenne/Jennifer Lopez- Dame
David Guetta- Love is Gone
Hoobastank- Out of Control
Pitbull- I Know You Want Me
Kidi Cudi- Day 'N' Night Remix
Muse- Supermassive Black Hole
DJ Earworm- United States of Pop 2009
Outcast- Bombs Over Baghdad
All American Rejects- Dirty Little Secrets
Fergie- Labels or Love
Petey Pablo- Show Me the Money
N'Sync- Dirty Pop
Jimmy Eat World- Pain
Muse- Stockholm Syndrome
Jennifer Lopez- Do It Well
Black Eyed Peas- Let's Get it Started
Franz Ferdinand- Take Me Out
Boys Like Girls- Love Drunk
Hoobstank- Crawling Out of the Dark
Pussycat Dolls- When I Grow Up
Shakira- Give It Up To Me
Fergie- Fergalicious
Chris Brown- I Can Transform Ya
Audiovent- The Energy
Kanye West- Gold Digger (clean version)
Linkin Park- Faint
Mika- Love Today
Nelly- Party People
Sean Paul- Temperature
The Ting Tings- That's Not My Name
The Veronicas- 4Ever
A. R. Rahman- Jai Ho!
Basement Jaxx- Where's Your Head At?
Black Eyed Peas- Boom Boom Pow (clean version)
Eminem- Till I Collapse (clean version)

Let's try to help each other by sharing our music. My challenge to you is to post a comment and tell me what songs help you finish your workouts!

"This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!"
- Fort Minor Remember the Name