Monday, February 28, 2011

Easy as Stir Fry


Stir fry is one of the easiest dishes to make. It's a great solution for a busy week-night meal and can be tailored for anyone's tastes. You can pack it full of lean protein, veggies, and whole grains and smile as you watch your children (and husband who despises "diet" food) eat it up. This is also a great dish for using up stray vegetables or meats before they go bad. Be creative!

Here's one my versions of this yummy dinner:

Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 1/2 - 2 cups frozen Italian cut green beans (the wide, flat ones), thawed
1 - 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
3/4 pound chicken breast or lean steak, cut into thin strips
2/3 cup Teriyaki sauce (I use House of Tsang Korean Teriyaki Stir Fry Sauce)
1 tbsp canola oil

Directions:
1. Use 1/3 cup sauce to marinade meat. Place both in a plastic bag and stash in the fridge until ready to cook.
2. Cook rice according to package directions.
3. When rice has about 10 minutes left, heat skillet over medium-high heat. Using tongs, add the meat to the skillet, leaving excess marinade in the bag. If using chicken, cook until no longer pink. If using steak, just give it a sear on both sides. Remove meat to plate and cover.
4. Add vegetables to pan with 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce and stir to coat. Add about 1/8 cup or so of water to pan and cover. Steam until beans are bright green, about 5 minutes. Return meat to pan.
5. Add cooked rice and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cookie MONSTERS

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly discuss my love/hate relationship with the Girl Scouts and their cookies.
Yes, it's a good program and a positive thing for our young women and I have nothing against it. Actually, I'm most frustrated with myself because somehow over the past two weeks I have a) bought cookies which I am usually pretty good about avoiding at the grocery store, b) spent an outrageous amount of money for them, and c) eaten cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (not an exaggeration...).


Are they really that delicious? Well, the answer to that question is yes, of course...but maybe it's the fact they're EVERYWHERE staring me in the face. Boxes and boxes at work, display tables at grocery stores, and everyone is eating them and offering them! Maybe it's the fact that they only come around once a year that I feel I need to "stock up" and stuff my face like they're going out of style. The ridiculous thing is we all know you can get comparable ones at the grocery store!


And may I just say, what a clever marketing scheme these people have going on. How can you say no to a small girl scout and her cookies? Or a parent who is going through all this trouble? I have purposely gone out of my way to take a different entrance at the grocery store to avoid the cookie sales. But alas, they inevitably find me and I have no power to resist those sweet tiny calorie bombs.


I won't go into all the nutrition facts - we've all seen them and they're bad, really bad. It's downright depressing to think about how I've dramatically increased my caloric intake by mindlessly eating cookies. But it's almost something more than mindless - I go crazy for these things and can't stop. I eat one and I eat a whole box (well, not really...but close).

Anyways, I've been laden with guilt all week. I've been taking more stairs than ever to try to "un-do" the effects of the girl scout cookie storm, but I don't think it will help that much. What I'll probably do is keep eating the cookies until there are no more left and I can start living a normal life again...at least until next spring...


Now, this is all coming from a girl whose very first word was "cookie" (not even kidding :)) But please tell me I'm not alone in this!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

CSN Stores Winner





We had some great applicants for our Random Acts of Kindness giveaway for a CSN Stores gift certificate. So many little things that probably made such a difference in someone’s day.

Now for our winner: 



random thing - i let three cars go ahead of me in heavy traffic. may not seem like much, but if you know LA traffic, you would think i was a saint.


Contact us at: somaybemomwasright @ gmail dot com for your gift certificate!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Comparison

Do you ever find yourself wishing you were somebody else? Well, maybe not someone else, but maybe have what someone else has.

I read  a blog the other day about a woman, let's call her Sue, who had just bought a house. Sue really loved her house until she went to a friend's house and started comparing the two houses. All of a sudden, Sue's house was really small and shabby, her furniture didn't match and she realized she did not have a two car garage. When Sue complimented her friend's house, her friend complained and said that the house was too small and they were thinking about moving into a nicer neighborhood and into a bigger house with a backyard and a place to put in a pool. Sue slowly began to realize that she would never be happy if she continually compared herself and her things to others. She could choose to be happy with what she had or she could see the flaws in everything around her.

I am hoping you see my point here. 

This may be one of my biggest problems.

I live in a culture where getting married and having a family is one of the most important things you can do in this life. Since my freshman year of college, I have had friends getting married (I have been a bridesmaid six, seven times...I lost count). Some of my friends are on their second- third, fourth- baby. I am not married. And I don't have children.

Another culture I live in views women who are thin to be the epitome of beauty. I have never been thin. I haven't even really gotten close. 

Yet another culture I live in  views money as the root of happiness. I am a teacher with student loans. No hope for me there.

It seems that the only way to fix my problems is to marry an independently wealthy man who can pay off my loans and hire a personal trainer and chef to get me to my ideal weight. And have babies. Lots of babies (Jane Austen had it right, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife".).

OR.....

I can be happy.

This is not to say that I can't improve myself. I still want to be married, I still want to be thin (and healthy), and I still want enough money to be happy. But when I compare myself to others, I can't improve. I can't  move beyond what I see as perfection and compare it myself, which is the definitely not perfect. And it always seems that I compare myself to others when they are at their best and when I am at my worst.

So let's stop comparing ourselves to each other and work on creating the best "YOU" that you can become. It can only lead to feelings of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. You are now in control!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

easing stress (and temptation!) by planning ahead.

I don't know about you, but there's at least one day a week in a normal life situation when i just don't want to cook.  i've had it, i'm tired, the kitchen is a mess, or i have some event or responsibility that makes dinner time difficult.  any one of those would suffice, but when they all come together in one incredible vortex of awesome, it's a sight to behold.

in normal days, perhaps we would have chosen takeout or the drive through or even gone to a restaurant to ease that burden. sometimes we still do.

but since i'm 8.5 months pregnant now, these occurrences are more frequent.  i would say, on average, there are now three days a week when cooking an entire meal from start to finish is just too exhausting to manage. judge if you must, but some days it's a chore to keep myself hydrated. 

but we can't eat out, for financial or health reasons, three times a week. i just can't do it.  happily, on those four other days, i am usually bit by the cooking/domestic bug and am excited when i can prepare meals from scratch for my family (or, you know, as close to scratch as possible).

thus, i have begun the EXTRA cooking.

try it next time, especially if you have a small-ish family, by making a double batch of whatever you're making. sometimes it does take some planning ahead, but if you're already making, say, chicken enchiladas (which can be labor intensive on a busy night), it doesn't take much extra time to roll up an extra six or seven enchiladas and put them in the freezer for a night when you can't face the kitchen unless it's going to help you out.

one special bonus of this particular way of cooking, that was unexpected but SO HAPPY, is that, in our house, we end up eating less. because i am dividing a large batch into several portions immediately (i.e. crockpot pulled pork), there's less feeling that we have to eat more because there are SO MANY LEFTOVERS.  i bought french bread the other night to make garlic bread for baked pasta (another dish that does well in the freezer), and i cut it into thirds and froze 2/3 of it. we certainly didn't need to eat an entire french bread loaf in one sitting, and i knew there wouldn't be an occasion to use it in the next few days.  instead, i'm saving it for the next batch of baked pasta and/or the pulled pork redux (or both!).

it works for lunch stuff too. last week, i wanted to make chocolate chip cookies for my husband's lunch. i try to include a baked good like that each day, but often recipes end up making SO many cookies that, for us, they end up getting stale and hard before they have been used.  this time, i doubled the recipe and rolled whole batches into wax paper. i put them in a ziploc bag and have already cracked one out.  a wax paper roll that mimics the size of a store-bought roll of cookie dough was as easy to cut and bake as they are and made 24 cookies (the perfect amount for our family at any given time).

if you are finding yourself struggling to know what to make, or wishing that you had a few days off in the kitchen, think about doubling your recipes and halving your efforts--it really does work!

and if you have excellent recipes that freeze beautifully, PLEASE share them. i'm trying to try out new ones and stockpile the good ones for when Baby Girl arrives. i'd love to hear what you all do!

Friday, February 18, 2011

On Staying Mentally and Emotionally Healthy...

So, being a PT I guess I've thought about adding helpful hints to stay healthy physically with exercise and diet.... but recently I've thought about another aspect of health and how some "exercises" have helped me with it-- mental health. Here are a couple of tips that are good to remember, or that have helped me at least.


Pondering:

Last night my husband mentioned the moon was beautiful and we stepped outside to see it shining through the clouds. Whether it be in nature or in your bedroom, taking time to think regularly is something a lot of us forget to do, myself included, but may be just what we need to chill out, gather our thoughts, and tackle that next task.


Unloading:

Another thing that we may need to do to clear our minds is simply unloading our frustrations, fears, and thoughts with someone else. Having someone you feel comfortable talking to and listening without judging you is really a blessing. Especially as women, we just want a good ol' listening ear.


Evaluating:

Evaluating my goals and schedule on a regular basis and putting it down somewhere has been helpful to me. I write them down and check back periodically on any progress that has been made. It helps me feel a sense of accomplishment and renews my energies to keep working at them.


Sleep:

I think we underestimate the importance of this daily necessity. Early to bed and early to rise - now isn't that also something our mother's told us? I am 100% more effective when I feel rested...and far less irritable...


Journaling:

Sometimes I don't really know how I feel until I write it down. And the time it takes to physically write it down incorporates the pondering for sure. For me, documenting my thoughts and feelings is quite cathartic. I like to journal when I'm travelling, then I can chronicle my adventures as well!


Exercise:

And of course, I will continue to preach the gospel of physical activity. Nothing relieves mental stress more than having to focus on self-inflicted physical pain...just kidding...but seriously :) You'll be too busy focusing on your burning muscles than the complicated thoughts in your head! It's a great stress release!


All said, life is about balance, right? I think it goes for our health too--- if we only focus on exercise and diet we may lose weight but if we forget our sanity we might lose our minds!


p.s. I will start using more pictures, I promise!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Giveaway




How is your week going? Have you been participating in Random Acts of Kindness Week?  I have really been enjoying it!

Today we have another awesome giveaway! One lucky winner will get a $40 gift certificate to be used at www.csnstores.com. CSN Stores has just about everything, but we love checking out their cooking and fitness equipment.

To enter:
1.     Leave a comment below telling us about a random act of kindness that you did this week.
2.     Follow this blog (via the “Follow” button in the left hand corner)

We will randomly select a winner from the entries and announce the winner next Thursday. Entries accepted until midnight EST on Wednesday, February 23.

That gives you a few extra days to do something kind for someone and report back!


Links to Health:






Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Back to Traveling

I realized on Thursday that I forgot to announce the winner of the Jillian Michaels' DVD that I wanted to give away....

And the winner is....(drum roll please)

Chance!!

(please email me on facebook and let me know the easiest way to get it to you)

Congrats! I am sure that Jenny will love the pain that it causes her muscles.

In other news....

The Traveling Season is upon us!
My traveling plans for the next few months are coming together nicely. This is what I am preparing for:

New York- February 18-20
Pittsburgh- March 11-13
San Diego- March 23-26
Gainesville/Miami- April 16-21
Deep Creek Lake- May 27-30
Barcelona/London/Paris- End of June through early August

When I started writing for this blog, part of what I wanted to contribute was the idea that traveling and sticking to your goals of "healthy living" was completely doable. Traveling is what I do, give me a destination and I am off. (I get that from my grandparents, who went to Europe twenty-something times). But I cannot be sidetracked by this thing that I love, like I was last week (I know, I know, it was a celebration...blah blah blah). 

So, as we embark upon the traveling season (my first trip starts on Friday!) I will fill you in on how I am able to get my exercise in and keep my eating habits in check (that includes getting all my fruits and veggies in and making sure not to over-eat!) 
I will also include a picture or two...
(Wouldn't it be great if we still put stamps on our luggage?)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

reining it in: staying on track during pregnancy.

so, just like ashlee's post yesterday, my inspiration for today's post comes from a question--one that ashlee herself actually asked me. having been a person who has struggled with weight and has been successful on a large scale before pregnancy, she asked, how have you kept your weight gain under control during pregnancy?

this is a really good question, and one that i have been thinking about for a while.   if any pregnant person in my situation were to ask me how to stay in control, i would tell them this:

educate yourself about nutrition, if you haven't already.  knowing portion sizes goes hand in with not only understanding calorie content but nutrition facts too.  you have to be able to look at a food and evaluate, fairly quickly, whether or not it's a worthwhile use of your caloric budget.  and budgeting and money is the best analogy that i can make.  sometimes, you feel inclined to splurge, to buy a $400 purse.  if you have $400 to spare, that shouldn't or won't be better used on something else, then maybe that's a valid choice. but if you know that maybe, i don't know, the rent should be paid, that's not the best choice you can make.  the same is true for food.  you have to know what your body needs, how much you have, individually, to "spend," and what the wisest choices are. 

this isn't necessarily to make you feel like you can't eat anything. it's also to help you realize how much you CAN eat.  i can, for example, eat much more fruit than i think i can.  salad and spinach are practically calorie-less, as are celery and carrots.  this isn't really surprising, but compared to processed foods, these whole foods are calorie budget bonanzas. they're the sale foods of life, and knowing that helps me to know what i can add to my meals or choose as a snack that will be the wisest choice.

it's genuinely a process, but it's a process that is surprisingly quick. once you begin to educate yourself about portion size, about nutritional content, about vitamins and minerals and whole grains and fiber, you look at food in a whole new way.  in pregnancy, this has been especially true for me.

all of this leads to my second tip: vigilantly and honestly record your food

on days when you just don't want to care, this is hard.  however, it's essential.  during pregnancy, you just eat more. your body demands it. beginning in the first trimester, i was eating two extra snacks then i was accustomed to, and if i hadn't recorded my food, i would have only a vague idea of where i was at or what i was missing.

in short, ignorance is fatal to your goals.

i had learned, before pregnancy, that if i was not willing to be honest about what i was putting in my mouth, i was not on a road that was healthy. even on the days when i'm starving, when my self-discipline is cracking, when i don't feel like i want to choose wisely, if i am recording what i'm eating (from the cheezits i snack on while making dinner to the valentine's peanut butter egg i can't resist), i am much more likely to make wiser choices the next time.

i don't know why it works, but it works.  accountability and education go hand in hand, and you're only accountable to yourself.  (unless you're pregnant, and then you are accountable to a vicious, unyielding, unkind scale that never lies and that forces you to pony up every four weeks, then every two weeks, then every week.)

and, finally, something that i think has been key to my success so far: debunking the lies about cravings.

i'm going to be really straight with you.  the idea that cravings are this unyielding force that you are a slave to is a lie.  but when you're pregnant, it's like the whole world starts solidifying the idea that cravings are real and inescapable. there's an embedded sort of permission in your growing belly, like you are allowed to eat whatever you want because there's a fetus. "you're eating for two," "that's natural," "let yourself have what you want," or "you're supposed to be eating more--you're pregnant!"

the thing that has kept me sane, from the very beginning, is my vigilant belief that none of this is true.  i don't deny myself completely (because i know the negative implications of too much denial) and i will absolutely recognize that my particular pregnancy has, perhaps, not really tested this resolve.  i have a baby that likes healthy food.  HOWEVER, i have not been without some serious desires for fattiness and sugar.  but knowing what i know, and having a nutrition budget in mind, makes it very difficult for me to make consistently bad choices.

ice cream? sometimes, but i almost always measure and record it.  donuts? rarely, because i can't justify it in my mind.  waffles? yes, sometimes, but even better when they have some whole grain. pizza? i've just about given up on it, because it's just not worth it.  chocolate? i keep semi-sweet chocolate chips in the house for this precise purpose--adding a few to some yogurt or even just grabbing a handful can satisfy my desire without derailing a whole day's progress. excessive amounts of cheerios? yep, almost every day.  but that's a choice i can live with.

so, i guess, the answer to how i've kept my pregnancy weight gain in check is to remember where i came from and do what i did before, with a few tweaks here and there. 

i think it's also important to remember, though, that self-discipline doesn't negate the fact that your body is a changing being that will do what it will do.  you can do your best, but it doesn't mean that it will all turn out exactly as you think it will.  i gained 5 pounds these past two weeks, and i don't think i did enough to warrant that kind of gain. but i hadn't gained any for the six weeks prior, so it all balances out.

ultimately, in pregnancy and in your every day life, you can only do the best that you can do.  if you can honestly say that you are, in the vast majority of the choices that you are make, you are healthy. 

these are just my tips--those of you who are moms, what advice do you have for pregnant women who are trying to stay healthy?

Monday, February 14, 2011

How to increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables.


After my last post, a friend emailed wondering how the heck I was eating 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. It's a great question and a great topic for discussion. Here's my take:

According to Weight Watchers, serving sizes are 1 cup for leafy greens and 1/2 cup for all other vegetables and fruits. That means if you eat one large apple, you've got 2 fruit servings right there. Add to that a handful of baby carrots and a turkey and cheese sandwich on wheat bread (4 thin slices of lean, smoked turkey with one wedge laughing cow cheese on a 100 calorie whole-wheat sandwich round) and you have a 5-point lunch that includes 3 fruits/vegetables servings and you will be FULL.

But that's just an example. The point is to make sure you're getting 1-2 servings of fruits/vegetables (aim for 2) with each meal and then eating additional fruits and veggies for snacks. Smoothies like the Green Monster are also a great way to get your fruits/veggies count up.

Some of my favorites:

Baby carrots (with 1 tbsp low-fat ranch, 0 points)

Apples (For less waste, cut them off the core.)

Clementines (These are great and on sale in a lot of grocery stores right now. They're small and easy to eat.)

Bananas (Right now I'm really loving smoothies with bananas, ice, and 1 cup chocolate almond milk, 3 points.)

Tomatoes (Okay, I don't actually eat these things straight up, but using tomatoes to make sauce for spaghetti or pizza also counts.)

Red Cabbage (This one is new for me. Sneak a handful on tacos or fajitas to add beautiful color and a nice crunch, but don't worry, you can't really taste it.)

Spinach (I sneak this into everything. I've done so so much, I'm starting to think I don't really need to sneak it anymore, it's growing on me.)

Peas (I buy these frozen and steam them in the microwave. I season them with Smart Balance and salt and pepper. I could eat them every night of the week.)

Green Beans (I also buy these frozen and steam in the microwave. These a great vegetable for toddlers because they're easy to pick up with a fork.)

Potatoes (Yes, I count potatoes as a vegetable (as does Weight Watchers). They come from the ground, don't they?)

Fresh Herbs (Is this one a surprise? Herbs like basil and parsley are high in iron and Vitamin C, as well as lots of other goodies.)

These are my family's favorites (for now), what are your favorite fruits and vegetables?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Simple and Effective Exercises

Well, as promised, I've compiled this small list of my favorite simple and effective exercises. Now, these are SUPER basic but almost anyone can do them at almost anytime and at almost any place.

1. WALKING - Don't underestimate the power of walking. Plain and simple, It's just good for you. Some ways to sneak more in include: parking far away at stores on purpose, going on a walk to catch up with a good friend, walking to the local drug store instead of driving, even not using the moving walkways at the airport. Maybe you've heard some of these tips before and if you have others, please share!

2. Stair climbing - Stairs are awesome for your legs! Make sure you're keeping your back straight (not leaning too far forward), put your whole foot on the step, and actually think about squeezing your butt to push up AND voila!, you'll be burning in no time. I know it's super easy to take the elevator, but why not squeeze in a mini-workout when you get a chance?

3. Level 1 Abs - I actually don't know what else you call these, this is what we called them when I was working with a PT who specialized in treating low back pain. When a patient couldn't do anything else, they could at least do this: make sure your back is straight and think about pulling your belly button into your spine and you'll feel all your stomach muscles tighten up, like you're bracing for someone to punch you in the stomach. Hold it like that for 10 seconds, 10 times. Don't just hold your breath, you should be able to breathe while doing this. You can do this sitting, standing, lying down, driving, in a waiting room...you get the idea...

4. Push ups - This works so many muscles! Start small. You can put yourself a couple feet from a wall and push up on it, then progress to a table - each time making your body more and more horizontal. Then of course, there are "girl" push ups when you are on your knees. Then, heck, try maybe one or two "real" push-ups. Always remember to keep your back straight and tummy tight!

5. Lunges - Similar rules as stairs. Just make sure that when you bend your knee, you don't see it go past your toes. It's more of an up-and-down motion vs. a front-to-back motion. Put your hands behind your head to involve your core more.

So these are my favorites and they really just take a little bit of effort to include into everyday life. What are some of your favorite exercises??


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Add That to the List of Things Mom Was Right About


 http://www.410bc.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/wisdom.jpg


My mom is one of the most genuinely nice people you’ll ever meet. Honestly, she is probably a little too nice! Even when someone is truly in the wrong, my mom is still trying to see things from their point of view. She always gives the benefit of the doubt. "I bet you misunderstood," or “You don’t know what they are feeling,” she’ll say…statements that can quickly drive me up a wall when (per usual) I feel I’m right and they are wrong. 

She works hard but rarely complains. She is driven even when she is worn. She doesn’t raise her voice and it’s hard to get a rise out of her…. and you know as the baby girl, I tried my best during those rock ‘em, sock ‘em, early teen years.  



But with that kind spirit, come those little life lessons she is forever trying to teach my brothers and I. Well, mainly me. My brothers are also a bit too nice for their own good. Single ladies take note! Nice guys available! But back to those life lessons…others might call them cliches, but because she truly lives by them, I just think of them as her “mom-isms”.

One of those mom-isms that she is constantly exemplifying – doing something for others is doing something for yourself. That’s the thing about my mom though, she will do nearly anything you ask. She will do things even when you don’t ask. She is thoughtful and creative, and when those qualities combine, beautiful acts of kindness generally abound. She is forever the “just because” lady. If you doubt me, check out the decorative paper covered envelope I received today (for no reason whatsoever) with a gorgeous new blouse inside. Take a gander at my favorite pup who had a bow around his neck when I pulled up at my parent's house last week, just because a floppy-eared dog with a big red bow would make me smile. Or ask our own Ms. Ashlee about her wedding photos, both taken and scrapbooked. 

The thing is, she doesn’t do it for thanks. It’s just her natural tendency to be kind and she loves doing things for others.

I know mom is right about this one and it’s a dimension of myself I’m constantly working to improve - more random acts of kindness and more selfless service. On that note, I’ve decided to take part in Random Acts of Kindness Week (which just happens to start on Monday!).     

You might be thinking, “Meg, what does this have to do with healthy living?” Don’t worry - In true Type A fashion, I’ve got a diagram for you!

My favorite random acts of kindness are those that are anonymous. There is just something so special about (possibly) lighting up someone's day when they aren't expecting it. I still remember one of the first times I did something for someone else anonymously and did it "just because" a la my mom. I also still remember the magnificent feeling that came along with that gesture. Being that it's been about 5 years since that random act of kindness and probably that long since I spoken to those involved, I'll lay it out there. I used to have an acquaintance from church who worked as a companion for an adult man with special needs. My acquaintance would spend each day with him, out and about. I would run into them all over the place: the student church building on campus, local bookstores, sipping hot chocolate at coffee shops. Though the man had never spoken to me, I knew his name because I would always stop to greet my acquaintance and I would also greet him. It quickly became apparent how much this man loved puzzles and coloring books. However, I noticed one day how he was always using the same coloring book and it was getting quite full from frequent use.  I decided to buy him some new coloring books and  puzzles, and I left them in the church building on campus with a card attached for my acquaintance noting who they were for, but not acknowledging who they were from. The delight I felt when I saw them later that week, new gifts in hand, was immeasurable. It's a feeling I regret not having more often.

So for one week, I'm going to put forth a valiant effort to offer more random acts of kindness each day. I recognize that it may appear kind of sad that I have to make this a goal...but I figure practice makes perfect, right?

"When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people." - Abraham Joshua Heschel


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Learning...

I've been bad.

My mom's birthday was this past weekend and I flew down to Miami to celebrate with her. 
(Me and my mom in Cinque Terre a few years ago)

Bad idea.

When I arrived, we had hot cocoa night (this is when my family and a few select friends get together and we have hot cocoa together. It  includes Cuban bread being dipped into the hot cocoa), which would not be so bad if we had not included two birthday cakes for my mom. Shame. 

The next morning Mom and I went to Starbucks and shared a banana chocolate low fat muffin thing and then went to Five Guys for lunch with my friend Laura and her daughter Abby. The day ended with us going to a Mexican restaurant with Laura's family (three appetizers, two desserts). 

The next day was breakfast at The Original House of Pancakes with my mom and my stepdad, lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, and dinner consisted of leftovers from lunch. Let's not forget that I had baked during the day and made cheesecake brownies and my famous Turducken cupcakes. 

Sunday was calm, normal breakfast, normal lunch and then dinner at my aunt's house, Chinese Fried Rice and egg rolls. And the brownies and cupcakes I made the day before. 

In all, very bad. 

You may be asking yourself why I confessing this all to you (I am asking myself the same question)...

I need to remind myself that I am not perfect (duh). There will be times that I slip up and there will be times when I will eat my feelings (both good and bad). And that's okay because I am human. This whole healthy living deal has to allow for this because if it doesn't, I am doomed to failure. All I can do is try.

The weeks and months that I eat really really well will be celebrated with manicures and haircuts and new clothes. But I cannot beat myself up for having a weekend of indulgence (although it will be extra painful when I tell my personal trainer). 

Moral of the story: do as I say, not as I do (but if you do do as I do, don't beat yourself up).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

a letter.

dear Baby Girl,

i hope you never look at the world through a tinted vision that makes you think that you are anything other than beautiful and wonderful, and i sincerely hope your definition of beautiful has nothing whatsoever to do with a kardashian sister or a digitally modified version of a starving runway model.

i hope you never hear me say anything other than something positive about my body. though i'm sure that i will certainly fail at this (moms are human, too, and yours is definitely still learning), i hope you see from the way that i try to balance that sometimes, healthy is hard work. i hope you see that it's worth it.

i hope that i get to somehow tell you, even if it's just through you reading what i wrote while i was pregnant, that the human body is a magical, wondrous, eternally splendid thing. i hope you come to respect yours the way that you being with me has helped me to love mine even more.

i hope you like vegetables. if you don't, i hope you at least have an adventurous spirit.

i hope you love to run. even if it means i'm chasing after you, wanting to light my own hair on fire, i hope you love to run.  i hope you love to dance. i hope you love to sing songs at the top of your voice and talk to imaginary friends and find refuge in the stories you create yourself.

i hope i learn quickly to just let you be you.

i hope i have the courage to always do right by you in all the ways that i want to, from the way i feed you to the way i teach you about the world, even though i might be tired. i'm not always as courageous with myself. i hope you inspire me to be otherwise.

i hope you like football. fall will be long if you don't.

i hope on days that are sunshiney and blue sky-y, we will take walks and look at animals and be outside.  i'd like to see the wonder of it, again, through your eyes.

i hope tv is never the friend to you that it was to me.

i hope the road rises up to meet you, that the rain never falls on your head, that friends are always kind to you and that your heart will always be untouched by injustice. i know this won't happen, but i hope you always believe in a world where it could.

i hope i always remember, come what may, that the sum total of all of the experiences that i had before you, all the ones that i thought could never be overcome, all the failures that i thought shouldn't have happened, all of the successes that i didn't understand, shaped me into who i am today and helped us bring you here.

i hope i always tell you what a miracle you are to me.   it's a great, beautiful, scary, tumultuous, magical, amazing world.  i'm so excited to see you take it by storm.

love,
mommy.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Maximize your function!!

We are so excited to announce that we have a new Friday contributor! She posted in January and we were very impressed with what she had to say...without further ado...here is Alina!
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Oh...this is very exciting to me! Aside from my guest post last month, this is my first time "blogging". And I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to all you girls who are including me in this endeavor!

I'd like to start off by explaining a little more of what I do professionally and how I have tried to translate that into my own life. You can read my profile for more info about myself, but I am a physical therapist, or "PT". Most everyone thinks of massages or painful exercises when they think about PT, but my job in an acute trauma hospital is a little different...

Physical therapy can be a quite challenging when you just got out of surgery that morning...or when you broke both arms and both legs...or when you got shot in the back (yeah, in Houston we see a lot of those actually)...or when you have cancer and the chemo is making you sooo tired...

We PTs at the hospital focus on the basics - getting out of bed, sitting up for 15 minutes, going to the bathroom by yourself, taking a walk in the hallway, going up a flight of stairs...

I share this because my job has taught me quite a bit. I've learned to be more:

1) GRATEFUL - When I really stop to think about it, it is a sheer miracle that my body is working as well as it does. There are a TON of systems that have to work together so perfectly or you can be in big trouble. It makes me want to take care of this great gift we've been given.

2) RESOURCEFUL - At a county hospital, we don't have a lot of fancy or expensive gadgets. You have to use what you've got. I always look longingly at this awesome fitness center down the road, but I can't afford a membership right now. However, I can seriously (if I'm motivated enough) give myself a kick butt work out - without equipment or even a lot of time. There are ideas everywhere - internet, magazines...I like to ask my friends if they have a favorite exercise and then try it out. Next week I plan to post my most favorite and (in my opinion) efficient exercises.

3)CREATIVE - When something doesn't work, try something else. When a patient can't stand up all the way by themselves, I'll have them scoot up and down the bed. If I don't have time to to go for a walk, I can do 3 strength exercises in about 15mins (without getting very sweaty!). Instead of going out for ice cream with one of my girlfriends to catch up, how about a long walk? I think there are always ways to fit your health in and something is always better than nothing.

Work will always be work, and of course, there are aspects of my job that I could definitely live without. But helping people accomplish their goals and maximize their function (no matter what that level of function is) is pretty rewarding. I'm still working on the above mentioned characteristics, but I know that when I feel I'm "maximizing my function" I am enjoying life to the fullest!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

CSN Stores Giveaway

We are excited to have another great giveaway in the works! We will be giving away a $40 gift certificate to CSN Stores. If you haven't checked out CSN stores yet, it is a fabulous website with just about everything you can think of. They have everything from fitness equipment to office desks. We will have more details for you next week. Be sure to check back to find out how to enter!

Time to "Tri" Training





As I mentioned in my New Year’s Resolution post, this is the year I hope to complete a triathlon. Because I had set an early year goal of doing the Whittle My Middle program and I want to try a race before we hit fall and the water is too cold, I decided February would be a good time to start training. By the way, if you are looking for an awesome abdominal workout, be sure to try Whittle My Middle! I am going to keep doing it another month, because it’s a quick nightly punch in the abs and I definitely feel the results. Hopefully, at some point I’ll also be able to see the results!

Now back to the triathlon training. Luckily, I already have a pretty nice bike (thanks dad!), access to a heated pool at the gym, and while my running shoes are on their last leg, I can make them work for the time being. I definitely need to get some new ones soon though, especially since I’m trying to avoid shin splint flare-ups. I also ordered a heart rate monitor which I'm hoping will arrive tomorrow. Speaking of hearts and tomorrow - Tomorrow is "National Wear Red Day" for heart health awareness! Don't forget!

I really keep getting off track today, don't I? Oh well, ab workouts and heart health are important! Anyhow, I got a book on triathlons and have reviewed the training program therein, as well as another beginners program I found online (along with dozens of other random online resources). There seemed to be good aspects to both programs, so I decided to combine them. The training plan includes multiple days of running, biking, and swimming each week. Eventually, “brick” workouts will also be added. Brick workouts combine at least two of the workout types to get me accustomed to doing multiple things in a short period. Did you realize that some people experience dizziness/vertigo when transitioning from the swim to the bike portion? Yeah, me neither…and it’s something I hope to avoid come race day.

With that, I am starting my training on Monday! My “plan” is to do the triathlon training, with some pushup sessions and strength workouts mixed in each week. I put plan in quotes because that is what I'd consider the ideal situation. The training will come first and that is my overall goal. Any extra strength workouts will be a bonus, because I am trying to avoid burning out or overloading myself.

It's about twelve weeks of training, with a week off halfway through for an anniversary vacation my husband and I have in the works. I have a race in mind, but I haven’t committed to paying the entry fee yet because I have to do an internship this summer and I want to be sure the dates won’t conflict.

Have you ever done a triathlon? Any words of wisdom?


Links to Health: 





Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pain (and a giveaway)!

Let me tell you, I could not wait for Wednesday to get here. I have been planning my post since Saturday!

I have some stories to share that will all lead to my concluding thought (and a giveaway!). Here we go:

Story 1. Do you ever watch weight loss shows? Like The Biggest Loser (I used to be addicted to The Biggest Loser, but I am kinda over it now)? There is a new show on A&E named Heavy...or there is one on MTV, I Used To Be Fat....

The other day my roommate and I watched I Used To Be Fat. In every show it highlights a kid the summer before going to go to college. The show provides a personal trainer who teaches about nutrition and exercise and mentors the kid. Last week's episode was about a kid named Jordan. I won't go into too much details, but Jordan's transformation was AMAZING!! He lost 67 lbs in 110 days. And he was such a sweet kid, you could tell he really looked up to his trainer. 

Here is the link if you want to see the episode: Click Here

Story 2: Do you ever watch movies and wish you could do what the main character could do? Like when Step Up 2 came out, I wanted  to get my dance crew together and take it to the streets (and I did!). Or when Mighty Ducks came out, I want to be a hockey star (a little difficult, considering I lived in Florida, but not impossible). 

When Million Dollar Baby came out, I wanted to become a boxer. I looked up boxing training and everything. And then I realized that I was too lazy...and there went that idea.

But last week I went and saw The Fighter. You know, the Mark Walberg movie, where he plays Micky Ward, a boxer. Its a true story about how he won the Welterweight Championship in 2000. Anyway, I saw the movie and I become inspired again by my boxing idea....

Story 3: A few years ago I joined a gym and with the new membership I was able to get some personal training sessions at a really low cost. I bought 5 and was paired with Manny, a trainer for the Puerto Rican Boxing team. A nice guy who made me work really hard. And I really liked it when he put boxing gloves on  me and went through some of the training for boxing (no sparring, just a little punching). After our sessions ended, I continued to work out at the gym, but accomplished little.

You may be asking yourself...so what? 

I have come to realize that I need someone else to push me at the gym in a way that I cannot. I am finding that I put in 30-45 minutes of cardio and call it good. But when I have people telling me to do something (or screaming at me) I tend to do it and push myself harder.

So I have hired personal trainers. One is a boxing personal trainer (Keith) and the other is a regular personal trainer (Jamal). Don't misunderstand me, I have NO intention on pursuing a boxing career (I am too much of a wimp for that. Plus I like my job.). But I like the way they train and I enjoy punching something, especially when I am stressed.

Monday was my first session with Jamal. I am still in pain. I have another session today. I expect to be in more pain.Thankfully, I only purchased a six week program. After the six weeks, I will reevaluate and see if I need/want more training and if I can afford it.

The next question is: why am I doing this? Well, I have three events over the next six months that I am preparing for. The first is a Jane Austen workshop in March (in about 6 weeks). The second is Memorial Weekend (my friends and I rent a cabin near a lake). The third is going to Barcelona again for the summer (I think I am leaving June 25th). I have goals that I want to reach as I attend each of these events, and I am hoping with the help of my trainers I will get there!
Now here is the fun part. I want  you to be in pain too. I want to give you a copy of Jillian Michaels' DVD, Banish Fat Boost Metabolism. I have worked out with this DVD in the past and let me tell you, she  makes you sweat! For the giveaway, be sure to leave a comment under this post. A winner will be picked on Wednesday, February 9th.

Good luck!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

vitamin a: what does it do?

i record my food every day, and i've been paying a lot more attention lately to my vitamin and mineral intake. in fact, i consider it a challenge to get all deep green boxes in a particular meal or snack, which basically is a high five from the nutrition police.

i like high fives.

what i've noticed lately is that, for some reason, it's exceptionally easy for me to get high fives for vitamin a.  while that's awesome in theory, i wanted to understand why vitamin a is important and why it's apparently so easy for me, in the course of a regular day, to get so much of it.

so i turned to dr. google, and here's what i learned:
  • your eyes love it! vitamin a helps the retina to decipher low light. when you don't have enough, you can't see in the dark. so when your mom used to joke around with you that if you eat your carrots (which, once converted by your body, will provide something like 90% of your daily value of vitamin a) you could see in the dark, she was totally right!
image courtesy of world community cookbook

  • it's important in reproduction--gene reproduction, that is! your cells need vitamin a in order to transcribe your genes. while i don't pretend to understand the intricacies of that process, i'm happy to know that the regeneration of the genes within my cells are being helped out by my tendency to eat romaine lettuce (58% of your daily need in a medium-sized salad).
image courtesy of e. coli information--be sure to wash your lettuce! :)
  • the flu and the common cold are putty in its hands! according to some sources, vitamin a helps build your immune system by making white blood cells work more efficiently and to fight viruses more effectively. i don't know about you, but i'm grateful for that knowledge when my poor husband comes home feeling a little under the weather.  beefing up your vitamin a stores by throwing some spinach into your diet can only help in cold and flu season (green monster anyone? 1 cup of boiled spinach gives you 377% of your daily value!).
image courtesy of iowagirleats.blogspot.com--with a great recipe!

what i realized, however, is that some of the substitution choices that i have made to eliminate, for example, white and high glycemic foods from my diet have inadvertently made me a vitamin a junkie.  one of my favorite foods right now is the sweet potato. i began roasting sweet potatoes because i had sweet potato fries once upon a time and thought they were the most incredible thing i'd ever had. 

(i still think that. if you give me the option, the white potato goes down in a blaze of ignominious infamy every time.
courtesy of melinda hinson neely

 come on. look at them. can you blame me?)

roasting sweet potatoes, by cubing them and drizzling them with olive oil and spices to taste, adds 262% of my daily value. my tendency to add a salad to a meal, as you saw earlier, has definite benefits. even my tendency to cook with basil and oregano (each of which adds 5% of the daily value) works to help my vitamin stores increase.

how can you know if you're getting enough vitamin a in your diet? beyond recording your food (which i highly recommend, for many reasons), you can look to your body for the telltale signs. if you are someone with hyperkeratosis, or a goosebump-like appearance to your skin, you may need to amp up your intake of vitamin a.  if you find yourself prone to many viral infections or illnesses, you almost might benefit from the addition of more vitamin a in your diet. 

just remember that dietary sources of vitamins are infinitely better than supplements.  your body knows what to do with the food you give it--it will take what it needs and provide you, in turn, with a hard-working, well-tuned body that will take you where you need to go and give you the energy you need.

--

some teachergirl updates:

Baby Girl: verdict of today's appointment--we're super healthy. iron levels are "very good" for this stage of pregnancy, my sugar was "perfect" when i took my glucose screening, my blood pressure continues to be insanely good, and i've only gained 0.5 pounds since my increased efforts at watching the composition of my food intake. (that's a total of 20.5 in 30 weeks--i'm over the moon about this, actually.) these are all testaments to how effective small choices can be. i swear i eat more than you can imagine--but it's all about what you eat and how you eat it and how you record it.  knowledge is power!

Green Monster: i did it. i tried it. it was GOOD.  i must say, though, in fair warning: if you add blackberries to your green monster, it becomes an unfortunate brown color.  however, it tastes delicious and it filled me (and my fairly impressive pregnant appetite) up for several hours. and i got lots and lots of dark green boxes! i think the total calorie count of mine, which was at least 20 ounces, was 230. not bad. not bad at all, especially since it contained both milk and yogurt, good sources of protein and calcium.  if you haven't tried it, you really need to.  i promise, you won't regret it!