Friday, December 31, 2010

To a New Year!

My apologies for not posting on Wednesday, I was struck with the 24 hour flu bug that has been going around. But rest assured, I am feeling much better.

I know that we have all written about our goals for 2011. And I know that it is a common thought that although we make these goals and resolutions, come mid-January, we have dropped all thoughts of resolutions and continued with life as though we never gave them a thought.

That is going to change for me this year. I honestly don't remember what resolutions I made last year. Probably something about getting a job, losing weight, and perhaps in the back of my mind, getting married (hey, I hit two out of three! And no, I did not get married).

But this year, I am making specific goals that I want to look at every month and keep myself on track. So. Here we go.

1. Limit my eating out to once a week. Honestly, I could eat out every night. This will ensure that I save money and stay on track!

2. Get my finances in order and on a get out-of-debt plan. My students loans are a-calling. Ouch.

3. Workout at least three times a week. I am giving myself a little leeway with this one. Sometimes I have really stressful weeks...but my goal is to do some type of working out every week. This includes going to Zumba, taking a walk outside or going to the gym. I like options.

4. Get my grading life in order. I am tired of bringing my grading home. I am going to get organized so that I can do everything at my desk at work (this is conveniently timed, because I start a new quarter on January 12th!)

5. Tracking my eating. I know how to journal. Its just a matter of actually doing it.

And last but not least:

6. Be more adventurous! I want to travel more, see more, and do more. No plan on that yet, but things are coming together...

But...

Even though we make these goals, I think the most important thing to remember is to have a Happy and Healthy Year!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Good, Better, Best…You Know the Rest

With 2011 right around the corner, it seemed as good a time as any to make some changes and plans.  I had a great year, but there are some changes I'd like to make. I realize many people consider New Year’s Resolutions to be lame or daunting, and most resolutions are generally forgotten by February 1st. Not me. I love them. While I realize a fresh start can happen at any time, there is something so comforting about knowing bad habits are behind you and the future is wide open.  

I think that the reason a lot of people don’t succeed at (and inevitably decide that they hate) New Year’s resolutions is because they are not setting achievable goals. I make a numbered list of resolutions. If the list becomes too long or too vague, it morphs from a plan for the future, into a hope for the future. Keep it as a plan…something you WILL do. Additionally, when making resolutions, I try to evaluate and combat possible excuses (which, as you’ll notice below, includes admitting when you have made excuses in the past, to avoid doing something similar in the future). I can see now that this post is going to give you yet another glimpse into my personal neurosis.

One of my main resolutions for 2010 was to cut our ALL soda. Done and Done. What is great about that resolution is that it was something that seemed so impossible. I was THE soda queen. Cutting out soda cold turkey and completely was a success in 2010. With that success will come the expectation and (hopefully) achievement of further successes in the coming year.

While I’m not hoping for any miracles in 2011, I do plan to continue to work on improving my emotional, mental, and physical health with the New Year.

Simply put – keep getting better.


So how do I plan to get “better”?

1.     Finally incorporate Clean Eating into my overall lifestyle
·      I’ve read the books, magazines, and articles. I have made recipes. I really have no excuse not to make this lifestyle change, other than pure laziness…. and that is not my style.
·      This is #1 for a reason. Remember that. Stay focused.

2.     Complete the “Whittle my Middle” – 30 day Challenge in January
·      Take before and after pictures to see any progress
·      Do with husband for encouragement and habit

3.     Complete a triathlon
·      Shin splints and knee pain sidelined training in 2010. Stretch properly when training to avoid flare-ups. 
·     Work with and stick to an appropriate training schedule

4.     Read a book on and develop a working knowledge of Photoshop CS5
·      Avoid using action sets when possible

5.   Spend more time scrapbooking
·      It clears my head and sparks creativity 

6.     Combat wanderlust – travel somewhere new and incredible with my husband in 2011
·      Make time for it.
           

 
- December 2010-
Happy. Healthy. Constantly Improving Overall. 
-In 2011-
Keep it up. Work Hard. Be My Best. 

  

Do you like New Year’s resolutions? 
Will you be making any for 2011?


Links to Health (New Year’s Style!):






Wednesday, December 29, 2010

small steps.

good grief almighty, if i could figure out what day it is, this whole blogging on a schedule deal would be a lot easier. what with the no classes and the family in town and the making merry and the registering for Baby Girl, it's been a bit of a whirlwind!

i'm sorry. i'll try to begin 2011 a bit better than i ended it, on this here blog.

HOWEVER.

i hope i keep doing what i have been doing in terms of my attitude toward choices.

we all know that the holidays are a bit of a minefield of poor living choices--not enough fiber, too much sugar, too much fat, not enough exercise, lots of parties and frivolity and not as much water and good, restful sleep.  after going to the doctor and realizing that i really needed to step up my game in terms of mindful, healthy choices, i did just that.

i started to make mindful healthy choices.

it doesn't mean i didn't indulge (as meg said, calories don't count on Christmas!) or eat the cookie or 3. but it meant that when i did have complete control over what i could eat, i chose wisely. when others were having banana pancakes, i ate Christmas leftovers (including broccoli, green beans, raw vegetables and lowfat dip, sugar-free jello salad, etc).  i tried to make my snacks smart and balanced and, when i began to feel like i wasn't doing anything really right, i told myself that all i could do was make the best choice that i could given the circumstances.

it's often hard, when faced with situations out of your control (going out with friends, attending a party, eating with a group), to not get down on yourself for not making the perfect choice.  but there's always a better choice, and if your attitude is one of doing the best you can every time, those choices will add up.

and that might mean that, at the mexican restaurant, you eat chips but ask for black beans and white rice with your plain steak tacos--but you'll also look at your plate, free of lard and assorted delicious and typical mexican fare, and think "huh. i actually did pretty well."

(or at least you would if you were me last night.)

so, over the coming days as the holidays wind up, make smart, wise, mindful decisions about your healthy living.  do your best to get in some exercise, even if that exercise really just includes cleaning your house or taking a walk with family after dinner.  eat a veggie or two and pack a snack for the road instead of eating out.  include a vitamin.  drink your water. 

if you make one wise decision at a time, they'll add up--and you'll have much more to celebrate than the dropping of a crystal ball at midnight on friday.

--

on a personal note, thanks to all of you for reading over the past few months. this little blog was only a dream a while ago, but thanks to the wonderful ladies to inspire and teach me every week (and who i get to share this space with!) and to you readers who comment and share so generously, it has become a safe refuge to get ideas and share strategies and work out frustration.  thank you for including me, and us, in your lives.

may your 2011 be as bright as your dreams--and may the spirit of this peaceful, restful, and celebratory time stay with you, in your hearts, throughout the upcoming months. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year, New Goals (part I)

2010 is coming to a close just as quickly as it came. My family has had several life-changing events this year, including my husband's major career change and the birth of our second daughter. I'm very excited to see what 2011 has in store for us!

I've never been one for New Year's resolutions, mainly because I could never see the point. It's not like after the New Year you are magically a different person ready to do the things you couldn't do before. (I guess one thing I could resolve to work on is my cynicism.) But this year I'm going for it. I'm going to treat 2011 like a fresh slate, pretend I AM a different person, and do my best to change some things.

Here's my top ten....

1) Be a more patient wife and mother.
2) Try harder to give others the benefit of the doubt.
3) Be more charitable.
4) Give more offerings to the church.
5) Institute a permanent Family Home Evening night and stick to it.
6) Be a better friend (all of mine will tell you I am horrible at keeping up with them).
7) Figure out a way to tell my toddler "no" a little less often.
8) Lose this baby weight!
9) Join a gym and go 3 times a week.
10) Try new foods (vegetables).

There you have it. My list. Now I need to setup some mini-goals for each of these and some timeframes and I'll be all set. But this is a good start. After all, a goal not written is only a wish.

What are some of your New Year's resolutions?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas from the ladies at "So Maybe Mom Was Right."





Remember what my mom always said, "Calories Don't Count on Christmas."

We hope you have a blessed holiday!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

10 in '10 Wrap Up

As I approach the end of my (second) 10 in '10 challenge, I am able to personally reflect on the progress I have made these last couple months. I accomplished much of what I wanted to and my goals helped me stay on track as I maneuvered the holiday season. Some weeks it all seemed too much, but in the end, I know it helped and contributed to an overall healthy lifestyle. Goals and accountability always do. I plan to have some major goals for 2011 (would you expect anything less?) and will share them all with you next week. Do you have any goals in mind for the New Year?

In the meantime, family time and sweet treats are calling my name. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reflecting...

As we begin closing out 2010 and welcoming in 2011, I thought it would be good to reflect on that I have learned the past 7 months while being part of the writing team of this blog...

1. Meg is a lot tougher than I am! Did you see her plank post? Or the Stadium Stompers? Definitely someone to look up to.

2. Ashlee is a lot braver than I am! She had a baby in September and posted about her weight struggles. What an amazing example!

3. teachergirl is teaching herself (and me) to relax. Being pregnant is not an easy task, but she is focusing on staying healthy and making a nice little home for her baby.

I think perhaps the most important thing that I have learned from writing and working with these ladies is this whole "healthy living" idea is exactly that: healthy LIVING. It is in our daily struggles and successes that we are able to achieve greatness. Its about the journey, not how quickly the goal can be achieved.

Within this blog, you will find our successes and failures. But most importantly, you will find our individual journeys. Be sure to look into our archives and see what we have been through and what we have to offer...

A little reference:

For those interested in the exercise: click here
For the culinary-minded: click here
For those dealing with stress, we are here to help: click here
For those who are ready to kick start their healthy living, we offer some advice: click here

Most importantly...

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

May you have a safe and happy holiday season...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

taking an inventory.

i just got back from the doctor's office.  Baby Girl is doing well, measuring exactly where she should be and with a heartbeat that continues to be in the 150s and 160s.  that's good news.

what wasn't such good news was the number i saw on the scale.  and this time, the doctor mentioned it too.

i'm at 24 weeks and i've gained 20 pounds.

(there's honesty for you.)

i don't look like i've ballooned out. my face is, perhaps, a bit more round, but i still fit into my shirts and the belly seems to be the only thing that's popping out.  of course, i could be delusional, but the pants seem to fit still and my dresses do too, so all of the markers of weight gain aren't really there. 

at first, i was all zen about it.  there's only so much you can do, even said the doctor, so if you're eating healthfully and exercising, that's all you can do. this is what he told me before. i quite like him in that way--he is realistic. 

and realistic element of my life, as my wonderful husband pointed out, is that i am (in his loving, kind, and totally understated terms) more prone to put weight on than other people.  i don't mind gaining weight for Baby Girl. i get it.

what i mind, deeply, is the idea that i'm not doing all that i can be doing. that somehow, someway, i will fail in this particular quest to be healthy because i got caught back up into unhealthy habits and forgot all i learned about myself and my body.  i don't want to become a high risk pregnancy because i ate my way into high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. i don't want to sit, depressed, as may and june come and i have a two-month old and am facing a desperately uphill climb to weight loss. 

i don't want to have to go through all of this again. there's something really demoralizing about that--not the weight, but the idea of the failure. 

of course, to a certain extent, my body is going to do what it's going to do.  sometimes, you're not a textbook. sometimes, you just are you and you are an exception and maybe your 40 pound weight gain is exactly what was necessary.  i started out this journey pretty healthy. i've stayed there--all looks good, except for that number on a scale.

if this were any other time, i might tell meg, for example, to stop looking at the scale and to start looking at other things.  that the scale doesn't tell you everything, and that the most important things are the things you CAN control.

so i'll try to take my own advice (and would be very glad to take yours as well, those of you who have gone through this before).  it's time to take an inventory of the things i can control.  instead of living in fear of an unknown that has yet to be, i can take control of the things that i can do now.

what can i do?

i know i can exercise more, but i've gotten out of the habit.  it's time to make it a habit again (and stop throwing money away on my very expensive gym membership).   i know i can incorporate a combination of cardio/weight-bearing exercise with yoga to strengthen both heart and muscle, and to speed up my metabolism. 

i know i can avoid sugar more.  i have gotten into a bad and nasty habit of feeding my sweet tooth into oblivion. it's unnecessary, and it's not nutrition.  graham crackers are tasty, but they don't do anything for me, really.  cookies are lovely, but they're not getting me anywhere. and let's not even talk about ice cream.  lest you suddenly shake your head and think "hey--duh. that's where it's coming from" i have actually been quite moderate in my intake of all of these things.  but sometimes you can moderate your moderation.

i know i can eat more vegetables.  fruit has been the thing that i've been trying to eat consistently, mainly because it's easy and i like it more.  but fruit has lots of natural sugar and not as much fiber. at this point, perhaps i just have to reset my compass.  vegetables are good.  even if i don't always want to eat them, they are good for me and they are filling.

i am sure there is more to do.  i am sure there is more to consider.  i am trying, however, to keep myself mindful of what i can control and what i can't. it's hard right now--i'm not going to lie--to not throw myself a big pity party and not want to just shake my fists at the heavens.

but if failure is what i'm most afraid of, then giving up would be the surest way there. so, instead, i'll eat my cheerios and bananas and drink my water and plan my day around a gym trip and errands and keep myself very busy doing lots of good things and leave the rest in the capable hands of He who has blessed me thus far.

it's all i can do, so i'll do my best to do it all. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Because it's Christmas.

In my house, Christmas and cookies are two words that just go together. I don't care how healthy you are, you're going to eat a cookie around Christmas time. Go on and admit it!


Recently I had a Christmas cookie party at my home and challenged all the attendees to a cookie bake off. Here's the winning recipe, and ps... it's a brownie!


Janette's Award-Winning Mint Brownies
(if you're looking for them in the picture, you'll find them in the round tray on the right, above the rectangular tray on the bottom)
Ingredients:
For the brownies:
One box of dark chocolate brownie mix (Janette uses Duncan Hines)
2 eggs
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon mint extract
2 tablespoons dutch cocoa powder
1/4 bag milk chocolate chips
1/3 bag white chocolate chips
1/3 bag mint chocolate chips
For the icing:
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 bag white chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1/3 bag mint chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Add brownie mix, water, oil, and eggs to a bowl and mix until blended. To this, stir in mint extract, cocoa, and all the chips. Pour batter into greased 9" x 13" pan and bake as directed on box.
2. To make the icing, add the melted butter to a medium sized bowl and stir in all the melted chocolate. Add the milk and powdered sugar and mix until smooth, adding more milk or sugar until you get a good fudge-like consistency. Pour icing over cooled brownies.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

what we want for Christmas: a new contributor!

our dear laura has had to leave our ranks (sad face!), which leaves us without a friday poster.  after thinking about what to do about this particular quandry (and realizing few of us have the time to post twice a week with regularity), we realized that we were overlooking the greatest treasure trove of awesome posts ever.

YOU GUYS!

so, if you're interested in becoming a regular contributor to this little blog, please comment below. we'd like to know a few things about you:

a) why you'd like to become a part of our little community (what motivates you to want to blog about healthy living?)

and

b) what you think your particular perspective on healthy living will be (ie mine usually is personal stories/anecdotes about my struggles/triumphs, meg's is often fitness strategies and research, etc, though these are certainly not hard-and-fast categories).

please don't feel like you have to be an expert at ANYTHING to be a contributor. if you ask the rest of us, we'd scoff if anyone suggested such a thing. we're just people who are doing our best to make our lives as healthy as we can, in mind, body, and spirit. we'd love to have you contribute if you think you have something to say (and don't we all?).

potential contributors will be contacted individually, and will likely be given a guest spot on a friday to exercise their blogging muscles.  :)

we look forward to seeing what you all have to say--and to rounding out the ranks here at so maybe mom was right with one of you!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Plank With Me


Everyone has a lot going on this week, which is also slowing things down here at "So Maybe Mom Was Right." Our ladies are taking finals, grading finals, tending to sick babies, tending to unborn babies, and preparing for the holidays. As we've mentioned before, it's important to prioritize to keep yourself healthy (and sane!). However...my finals are done...which means I'm here to torture you with a workout and remind you that even in the busiest of times, fitness will keep you healthy and sane as well!

I’ve mentioned before that I have a membership at a local gym. That means if I do have to workout at home for some reason, I don’t like to spend a lot of money on home gym equipment. I’m already paying a good amount for use of someone else’s equipment, so it’s hard to justify the extra expense when I’m on a graduate student/newly married person’s budget. The only pieces of fitness equipment I own are a ball, resistance bands, and small hand weights.

During weeks like this, when there is a lot going on, I like to have things I can do at the drop of a hat. This especially comes in handy on those days where I start trying to convince myself “I just don’t have time for anything today.”  You’ve heard it time and time again, something is better than nothing when it comes to work out…and we both have ten minutes to do something.

I’ve preached the wonder of the pushup multiple times. So I thought it was about time I introduce you to one of my other quick and effective home workouts (which is actually quite similar) – the plank.

The plank is, in my opinion, one of the most effective core workouts that you can get in a short time. It works your stomach, lower back, and rear, among other things. I have even made my husband a plank believer. One of the good things about the plank is that you can adjust the difficulty level by making simple modifications.

Today I’ll show you how to do the Basic Plank because it’s a good jumping off point for beginners.

 The Basic Plank:

·      Begin with your forearms and toes on the floor. Keep your weight evenly distributed between elbows and toes.
·      Keep your back and torso straight (similar to when doing pushups). Don’t drop your rear and don’t push it out. Focus on keeping your abdominal muscles tight.
·      Keep your head relaxed and looking at the floor.
·      Build up to holding the plank for 30, 45, or 60-second sets. 


*If this is too difficult, you can modify the basic plank and do a Kneeling Plank. For the kneeling plank, begin with your knees and forearms on the floor (rather than starting from your toes).

Some Additional Variations of the Plank:

The Side Plank:
·      My least favorite, but excellent at exercising those obliques/love handles

 


The Straight Arm Plank:
·      My go-to plank choice



Elbow on-the-ball Planks:
·      Difficult but the results are worth it!
 

Links to Health:
(I’ve got a lot of interesting ones for you this week!)





Monday, December 13, 2010

A day in the life...


... of me!

I've been saving this post for one of those days when I have no clue what to write about. I loved reading what my fellow contributors' days are like. My day is very different from their days, for instance, I had someone vomit down my back this morning. TMI? Sorry.

6:30-7:00am: Avery's waking up (she typically sleeps 7-7), nurse her and watch the news.

8:00am: Avery's down for her first nap. EK is up by this time, playing in her room waiting for me to go get her.

8:10am: Get EK dressed, teeth brushed, and hair combed.

8:20am: Try to get myself dressed, teeth brushed, and hair combed. If I'm lucky, I'll have time for a shower.

8:40am: Breakfast. EK usually eats a couple whole grain waffles, no syrup or butter, just waffles. Lately I've been mixing up a green monster, EK will usually drink a cup of this with her waffles. We're usually watching cartoons right now, too.

9:00am: Pick up stray toys, vacuum the family room and start a load of laundry.

9:30am: If we're not going anywhere for the morning (like story time or play dates) I'll begin working on "my stuff." I've usually always got some kind of something going on. Right now I'm crocheting and sewing Christmas gifts. I like to get EK working on her own crafts at this time as well. That lasts a few minutes until she's in the play room wreaking havoc.

10:30am: Avery's up. Nurse.

11:00am: Start thinking about what's for lunch. Get EK outside with the dog for some exercise and fresh air.

12:00pm: Lunch. EK eats a lot of PB and J on whole wheat with raisins or apple slices. Lately I've been craving grilled cheese on whole wheat with tomato soup. Mmmmm!

1:00pm: Nurse Avery and put her down for a nap.

1:30pm: EK goes down for her nap.

1:35pm: Sit, breathe, and sit some more.

2:00pm: Start cleaning up the kitchen from lunch and whatever other craziness went on in there.

2:30pm: Pick up the play room, fold clothes.

3:00pm: Avery's up from her nap. Nurse.

3:30pm: Play with Avery, take lots of pictures to fill my hard drive with.

4:00pm: Start thinking about dinner and getting ready for Anthony to come home.

4:30pm: Nurse Avery and put her down for her last nap of the day.

4:45pm: Start cooking dinner.

5:00pm: EK is up from her nap.

5:15pm: Avery's up. Nurse.

5:30pm: Dinner. Last night it was seasoned panko-coated chicken breasts baked in the oven with rice and green beans. Easy, fast, and filling (and good).

6:00pm: Family time... lots of playing going on.

6:30pm: Give Avery a bath and get her ready for bed.

7:00pm: Nurse Avery and put her to sleep.

7:15pm: EK's bedtime business. She gets a bath, her teeth brushed and hair combed, comfy PJs, a story, a song, and family prayer.

8:00pm: EK's in bed.

8:05pm: Relax and watch some TV. Usually Real Housewives on Bravo.

9:00pm: Clean up the kitchen.

9:30pm: Bedtime.

That's pretty much my day. Just sprinkle about 15 dirty diapers in there and it's complete. There's nothing glamorous about it, and it might even seem pretty boring, but I wouldn't give up being a full-time Mom for anything.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Statistics of Stress

About the time this post goes up, I'll be taking a final exam. The exam is in a class that is a constant stressor in my life and soon the class and I can part ways for good. All I will have left to do for school this semester are some final papers in other courses,  which are always (in my opinion) much easier to prepare for and rock. 

However, with too many late nights of studying this week (I got a whopping 5 hours sleep last night and anticipate something similar tonight), I haven't had much spare time to do research for a post this week. I hope you'll understand. In the meantime, check out the Links to Health below and send some good vibes my way! :) 








Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A PSA

Yesterday afternoon, I turned on the news to find out that Elizabeth Edwards had died of breast cancer. My heart goes out to her family and friends during this difficult time...

I am no expert on breast cancer, only having to deal with it in small doses. Members of my family have had scares, and the only person I can really connect to is a former roommate whose mother died of breast cancer. I can only imagine the heartache of losing someone to this disease.


Which is why I am using my post make sure that women (and men) are informed...

For example, are you aware that in 2006:
  • 191,410 women were diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • 40,820 women died from breast cancer.

or that white women have the highest occurrence of breast cancer, followed by black women and Hispanic women
(Source)

Don't forget about men:
For 2010
  • About 1,970 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men
  • About 390 men will die from breast cancer
From breastcancer.org (click on the links for further explanation):

"Breast self-exam should be part of your monthly health care routine, and you should visit your doctor if you experience breast changes. If you're over 40 or at a high risk for the disease, you should also have an annual mammogram and physical exam by a doctor. The earlier breast cancer is found and diagnosed, the better your chances of beating it."


But, here is some good news. To lower your risk of breast cancer you can:

Stop smoking.

Get more exercise.

Maintain a healthy weight.

Reduce your exposure to estrogen.

Learn about good nutrition and start eating for good health.

Eat your fruits and vegetables!

My hope here is that with this little reminder, you will take care of yourself and remember that breast cancer is a real threat to both men and women. Please keep yourself informed about how to look for symptoms and how to check for it.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

the reality of pinching pennies.

when i began this blog post, i was going to complain about something and then refocus on me and what i'm doing.  as i wrote it, something else, something more important, occurred to me.  i hope you'll read with a generous heart and commit to help those who are in much more frightening circumstances make the season a little bit brighter.

i recently read a blog post that rankled me and got me thinking.  in it, the well-intentioned poster (and she absolutely was) discussed watching a particular documentary and committing to buying local and organic.

please don't misunderstand me and get offended at this point.  i have ZERO problem with this. in fact, i think it's a wonderful idea.

what bothered me, personally, was her comment that the extra expense might mean that she buys organic meat and everything else instead of the $4 cookies, but that it was worth it, almost dismissing the extra expense as not a big deal. 

that's what bothered me, because for a lot of Americans, they don't have that luxury and to assume that it's a) easy and b) totally doable is a distinctly first-world attitude.  again, if that's your circumstance (and it has been mine over the past few months at times), that's wonderful. you are blessed.

but i don't buy $4 cookies. ever.  even if i could justify the expense, which i don't feel i can, i am usually trying to spend the money that we have on the things that will get us the farthest.  for me, right now, that's often staples--the full-price options are usually fruits and vegetables, beans and rice, and dairy products.  everything else, unless it's a rare occurrence (which bothers me to do), gets bought on sale or generic or cheapest, because making our dollar stretch farther is crucial to me.

i am not alone.  not everyone even has the luxury that i have, to buy bananas and grapefruit and bagged salad when i choose. not everyone has the luxury of fresh ingredients, regardless of where they were grown, or healthy options in their shopping choices. meg and i have discussed this before, and it's a personal pet peeve of mine when people don't seem to recognize how difficult circumstances often dictate what choices we make.  even the most well-intentioned moms and dads can have truly huge issues providing their children and themselves with the nutritious food that they want. in chicago, for example, advocates have recognized this perilous issue and have begun taking steps to assist families to meet those needs.

beyond this being a personal soapbox for me, what does it mean for us?

it means that, all around us, people are living in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. in this economy, it can sometimes be desensitizing to be hit with statistic after statistic, like that 276,000 more people were unemployed in November or that the personal savings rate is lower than it has been in more than 50 years. but that's 200,000 more families who are wondering where their next meal is coming from or how their bills will be paid.  it's a sobering reality for those of us who find ourselves cared for and kept safe through circumstances for which we should be every day grateful.  it's no wonder, in a world like this, that 1 in 6 Americans suffer from "food insecurity," according to Feeding America. 

what can we do?

let's combine our efforts to not only help the hungry but to help provide them with healthy, nutritious foods.  here in the teachergirl/musicboy household, we will be making a donation to our local food pantry of healthy staples, including canned vegetables, beans, pasta, and fortified cereal. it will be one small step, but it's a step that recognizes not only how blessed we are to have what we have, but a step that will hopefully allow one more family to have healthy, nutritious foods available to them regardless of their circumstances.  

i encourage you to do the same. you can find your local food bank here, or you can find them in your local yellow pages. many organizations, including the salvation army, routinely run food drives at this time of year in preparation for the holidays.

on a smaller scale, but nonetheless important, as you prepare your holiday treats for friends and family, perhaps think about adding a loaf of whole grain homemade bread instead of one of those batches of cookies or fudge.  you'll be not only providing a delicious treat, but also a staple to a family that you love.  we don't always know what people need.  you just never know--1 in 6 is a staggering statistic. 

over the coming weeks in my posts, i will be revisiting the idea of balancing the budgetary needs of a growing family with the desire to eat healthy, nutritious foods.  perhaps i'll share my struggles, and you'll share yours; perhaps i'll share my recipes, and you'll share yours. 

whatever i do, i will do it with a grateful heart. i hope you will as well. i hope you will also share your stories of giving, as a way of encouraging each of us to reach out a little bit more.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chicken Curry

The temperatures here have really dropped and that means it's time for soups and stews. Curry is something good and hearty, and even loved by toddlers. I adapted this recipe from one out of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine (do you ever read this? It's GREAT!).


Chicken Curry

Ingredients:
2-3 tbsp canola oil
4 chicken breasts (skinless, bone-in or boneless)
Salt and pepper
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 carrots, thinly sliced
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
1 10oz package frozen peas, defrosted
Cooked rice, white or brown, for serving

Directions:
1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add cumin, curry, and thyme and cook for about a minute.

2. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and add to pot with a 3/4 cup of water. Cover and allow to cook over low heat for about 3o minutes to 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through. Keep an eye on it so that you don't run out of cooking liquid. Once cooked, shred chicken in pot (I use a wooden spoon and just have at it until it's broken up enough for my taste).

3. Add milk and carrots. Allow to cook partially covered until carrots are tender (the thinner you slice them, the quicker this will go), about 15 minutes.

4. Take off heat and add peas. Season with salt to taste. Serve over rice.

This makes super yummy leftovers, just mix the remaining rice with the remaining curry before storing.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

10 for '10 Midpoint Checkin


 If you recall, in late October I started a 10 for ’10 challenge, and set healthy goals for the final 10 weeks of the year. Well, we are at the midpoint right now, so I thought an accountability check-in was in order.

All of my goals are slightly off after a week with family for Thanksgiving, but rather than beat myself up about it, I always allow myself an opportunity to make up a missed workout (or two). Honestly, that is something that was initially hard for me. In the past, I would tell myself, “Well, you missed it. You stink. You fail.” But I made a conscious decision in the last year that thinking like that didn’t benefit anyone, especially me. I had to find a middle ground though…I can’t go into goals thinking “I have a pass if I mess up, it’s no big deal,” but I also can’t beat myself up for a misstep.  

With my goal of swimming laps once a week, I have been doing pretty well. Not perfect…but pretty well. But let me tell you, as the temperature drops here in Florida, it becomes harder and harder to get myself to the gym for laps…because I immediately start dreading the walk back to the car with wet hair. But I know that the payoff (a totally physically draining workout) will be worth it.

My goal of 3 cardio and 3 strength workouts has been going good, but my goal of attending 5 yoga/pilates classes is quickly heading in a bad direction. I am bummed to say that 5 weeks in, I haven’t been to one of either! I need to get on the ball with that. I still haven’t been to another swim stroke clinic, so that is on my December to-do list as well. I have been reading a book on Clean Eating, but I imagine that I will be put to the side for the next two weeks, as I’ll be in the midst of final exams. There will be plenty of time at toward the end of the month to wrap that up though.

Some lessons I’ve learned in the past few weeks:

-Constantly trying to beat my personal record (PR) while running is what drives me to despise running. I need to focus on running for the workout, not running for the PR.
-I need new sneakers
-Food journaling 4 days a week is much more time consuming than I remember

Links to Health




Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Program

For all of you who follow Weight Watchers....

The changes are here.

For those of you who do not follow Weight Watchers, let me tell you about the changes that have been made to the program.

1. The points still exist, but food is valued differently. There is a push to have more fruits and veggies in everyday eating, so they are now zero points. This is in effort to have people snack on more healthy and sustaining foods than 100 calorie packs

2. Points values are found using more than just fat, calories, fiber. Instead, calculations are now based on protein, fiber, fat and carbohydrates.

3. The "Flex Points" still exist, but have now been bumped up to 49 points (because food now has higher point value, you need more points).

There are still a lot of new things, but these are the biggies. Weight Watchers says that due to ongoing research, they found they needed to revamp their program.

For those of you on Weight Watchers, what do you think of the changes??


brainfail.

i totally forgot about my post yesterday.

whoops.

it might have been the lingering cold that i'm still fighting (it feels like it's been a year, but it really hasn't). perhaps it was the perplexing decision about what to make for dinner.  perhaps it was Baby Girl kicking me and doing somersaults so vigorously that i just sat and watched--because i could SEE it.

maybe it was the grapefruit juice craving.

i don't know.  but i'm sorry.

i will say this--yesterday was a good day for self-discipline for me. i had decided that i was eating too much sugar and not enough substance, so i tried very hard to discipline myself.  i was successful, and found myself taking each decision at a time, trying to choose wisely, and recommitting to cooking dinners with healthy ingredients that come from the earth (instead of pizza, which is what i wish we could eat every day).  it felt like a bit of a triumph for me.

sometimes it's the small ones that count the most.

i was going to also take my post opportunity to be accountable and set some goals. beginning on december 9th, and continuing until i can't manage to waddle down the street, i'll be walking 4 times a week. if i can do it outside, i'm going to, because i don't think there's much more that's invigorating than a walk outside. but i also pay a sizable chunk of money to a local gym, so there's no weather-induced excuses for me to lean on.  during times when i'm away from home, i'll bring my sneakers or hit the yoga.

that's my commitment--i'm getting back on the exercise horse.  i'm not saying how long i'll walk (though i do have a distance in mind) nor am i saying i'll be perfect at it (6 days a week seems insane to me right now, especially since i want to integrate prenatal yoga as well), but i'm saying i'll do it.

you heard me, so you should keep me accountable.