New Meal Ideas

I am a busy mom so easy, healthy, reheatable meals are very important to me.  And after eating salads for two years, I need something new to get excited about in the kitchen.

This first one comes to you from one of my favorite food blogs 100daysofrealfood.com – Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.  I bought her latest book and kind of went to town.  Read the first half about how to shop and what to look for regarding ingredients, etc.  This one is good because the kiddo can help by peeling carrots (doesnt he look thrilled) or measuring chicken stock and then you just throw it all in and let it cook.  Easy.

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This next one comes you from Scotland.  My boyfriend started making this as a one-pot meal.  He’s a great cook so I was shocked when he cooked something so simple.  Here’s the deal:

1.  Heat a little bit (2 TBSP) of EVOO in a large pan.  Throw in one of those bags of veggies from the produce department at your local grocery store that says “stir fry”.

2.  Cook by stirring constantly on med-high heat for about 5 minutes or until the desired tenderness.  I like mine a little crunchy.

3.  Scoot the veggies over to one half of the pan and drop in about 10 uncooked, thawed medium shrimp and saute those until just pink.

4.  Drizzle stir fry sauce over both the veggies and the shrimp and stir to combine.  Turn off the heat.

5. Enjoy!

IMG_2490   What do you cook to get out of the salad rut?

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The Finish Line

I’m baaaacccckkkkkkk!

I have been away taking care of some things for my paying job and getting my certification but I’m back!  I take my exam Thursday so hopefully I will pass and everything will be back to normal.

This weekend I attended my first Ironman competition and I have to share my experience.  No, I do not have the Ironman bug now (those people are crazy!), but I do have a huge place in my heart for those competitors now.

While the majority of an extremely long and cold day was spend waiting, the last two hours or so were spent at the finish line.  We had the best seats in the house – that spot just past where they cross the finish line. Being there was a very moving experience. I witnessed over and over the flood of emotions that overcame some people as they released everything they’ve been holding back for the past 12 or so hours.  I got to watch people rejoice when they crossed the line and heard their name.  I witnessed a woman do a kart wheel.  A few of them literally jumped for joy. I got to watch people tear up as the realization of what they just completed hit them. Finished. Everything they trained for. They. Did. It. They are an iron man. No one can ever take that from them.  I was right there to watch couples cross the line together and embrace; an 84 year old man and a 70 year old woman; my dad greeted by his insanely supportive wife. It was an experience I’ll never forget.  (Yes, I cried a few times.)

I think my dad is an absolute lunatic to put his body through that. I get it though.  All these other people are doing it, why not me?  But why would you pay to be in that much pain (a lot of money at that)? I saw some people come across that line, including him, that should never ever do that again.  And I saw a woman in a lot of pain that possibly never crossed the finish line.  Yet he’s signing up for another (#lunatic).  “It’s not even fun!” was my response to that.

We do the things that aren’t fun because accomplishing the goal is.  “The days you are most uncomfortable are the days you learn the most about yourself.” True statement.  You learn what you can handle and what you can’t – and most times you can handle a lot more than you think you can. You learn what you like and what you don’t.  If you’re smart, you’ll use those painful experiences to help make yourself a better person.

I didn’t do a painful thing this weekend – that was my dad – but I am going through some other painful things.  I’m learning a lot about myself through those things.  No, they aren’t as painful as some things that are going on around the world, but that doesn’t make them less painful.  It just makes me more grateful.

I learned some things this weekend.  I, for one, know I never ever want to swim in open waters when it’s 45 degrees outside with 25 MPH winds.  I know I absolutely will be volunteering at the finish line at his next race.  I love to help and encourage and I want to be there for those people when they have just given everything they have and need someone to carry them home.

P.S. Here’s the video of my dad crossing the finish line.

The winner of #IMFL - Lionel Sanders

The winner of #IMFL – Lionel Sanders

Race swag for Team Clay

Race swag for Team Clay

Filling the Void

Moderation is key.  We all know that.  Knowing and doing are two different things though.  It’s hard to actually put into practice for some of us.  I love love love cookies. If I have too many, I’m going to gain all this weight back.  I love love love spin class.  If I do too many, I’ll start to burn up some of this muscle mass that I’ve been trying to build so I can naturally increase my metabolism.  One cookie is enough (not the whole bag and not one a day).  One spin class a week is enough (mix it in with kick boxing and weight training for example).  Moderation and balance.

Same goes with my alcohol consumption.  Recently I read this book, All Fall Down, and it scared the crap out of me.  We have discussed before that drinking is my vice.  I’m a party girl and sometimes, once I start, it’s hard to stop me.  I like to be in the middle of the fun and I rarely say no.  I go to it to relieve the stresses of the day or shut off my brain when I’m over thinking – a glass or two of wine a night before bed.  The main character in this book really hit home with me even though her vice is pills.  The real kicker was how she describes trying to sleep in rehab.  When she talks about trying to sleep while her body is detoxing, it reminds me of trying to sleep from time to time. I never knew why I would wake up several times in the night, sometimes sweating profusely.  I tried several things to try to pinpoint the cause but couldn’t (I’ve even blogged about it).  Sure enough, after a week of having wine every night, I would have so much trouble sleeping the first night that I didn’t have my one-two glasses.  I know it seems so outlandish that it can happen after only a glass or two and I’m still experimenting but I’m pretty sure that’s the cause of my sleepless nights.  #imisssleep

I’m learning to say no.  I’m learning to just have one.  I’m learning to listen to my body.

I’ll try to tackle coffee next…ugh…wish me luck.

The Ugly Duckling

I love this passage out of the latest O Magazine:

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I made a promise to a friend a while back that I wouldn’t ever settle, but am I?

My son and I went to Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts this weekend and saw a show about the other ugly duckling. I cried a little at the end (no one was shocked) because the message reminded me of something that I keep forgetting. Your beauty is within. My beauty is within. I devalue myself more than I should because I don’t have the perfect body but what really matters is my heart. How much I love. How big I love. How pure I love.

I plan to keep my promise not to settle because no matter what size I wear, I am worth it because my heart will be in the right place.

P.S. I sent this before and after shot to my boyfriend and, while all I see is a fat face, his response is perfect and says it all – “Still the same amazingly sweet girl.” Now that will be my response when I see an old picture of me instead of my usual disgust.

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Perfect Start to the Week

Don’t you just love a good Monday?  Sounds like an oxymoron, right?  It’s so important to get your week off to a good start.  It’s the man-made restart.  Diets and workout routines around the world are starting back today, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  Of course it would be better if we could all maintain throughout the weekend, but that doesn’t always happen.  So here in the real world, we restart on Monday.  We go to church on Sundays to get our minds right (I listened to a very inspiring message on falling forward) and Mondays we get our bodies back on their programs – back in the gym and back to healthy eating.

This morning was a good start to the week for me.  For starters, I attended church Sunday (yesterday) to get my mind right and then I made a plan that put me first.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to workout Monday night due to an event at ROC House I’ll be attending so I planned on running in the morning instead. I dislike running (right up there with pushups) and getting up early to workout (my bed is really comfortable, especially at 5am). This morning, however, it just all fell in place for me to do both. I woke up 10 min before my 5am alarm which use to annoy me, but now I look at it as a good thing because I wasn’t woken up artificially from a deep slumber.  Then my dad called at 4:57 because I texted (yes, it’s a word) him last week that I needed those wake up calls this week (that was me making a plan to catch myself slipping #knowyourself).  He was very pleasant, and I knew I’d have to answer to him about how far I ran so I hoisted myself out of my cloud and got moving. I put away some laundry, started the dishwasher, turned on the Keurig, got dressed, snapped my heart rate monitor in place and hit start on my RunKeeper app.  I was off!  I ran a good bit of the 2.28 miles (I typically do more of a run-walk) and shaved off about a minute from my usual 1-3 mile pace (which I find to be a very helpful and motivating feature on this app). On my run I just happened to look down at the right moment to see nature’s love and thought this would be the perfect forum to share it.

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Then on the way to work I stopped at Kroger to get some fuel with my fuel points and voila – $2.87 per gallon!  I was thrilled!  $0.50 off per gallon!  I try not to be bossy but seriously people – get your prescriptions filled at Kroger at the very least.  Let your insurance companies pay for your fuel points and then use them each month before they expire.

I know I will annoy some people at work today but I mean it sincerely this time when I say, Happy Monday!

My next blog post will be about how diets don’t work but I need to do some research before I hit “POST”.  I hope you have a great week!

Reality Check

reality

Ain’t it fun livin in the real world..

Well actually, no.  It’s all much better in my head where Walt Disney writes most of the scripts and there are rainbows and butterflies.  But what came before the colorful rainbows and fluttering butterflies?

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and

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The idea of something might sound really great, but the reality is that it takes a lot of hard work and some ugly prickly scenarios and lightning might even strike to get there.  The idea of watching your kids and grandkids play in the backyard while you pour lemonade and your husband of 27 years barbecues on the grill, but the reality is that you had to birth and raise those kids to get grandkids (A LOT of blood, sweat and tears, literally), and you had to squeeze 18 lemons to get that lemonade (because fresh squeezed lemonade tastes so much better than the alternative), and you had to eat overdone meat for many dinners to get that whole barbecue thing down.  The reality is that I like the idea of a six pack and leaner legs but I’m not ready to give up chocolate and run regularly to get them.

The key is knowing yourself.  Once you know yourself…your limits, your abilities, your weaknesses, your strengths…then you can set goals and priorities.  Being self aware is probably one of the hardest things to accomplish and also one of the most important.  I know that I will text and drive unless I give my phone to my son in the backseat.  I know that I will not get up in the morning to workout.  I know that I crave something sweet after every meal.  So I plan my workouts for the afternoons and bring fruit to try not to eat the delicious DoubleTree cookies that are delivered to our office daily (or at least that’s what it seems like…where do all those cookie tins come from?!?!?!).

You can apply this theory to so many things.  The idea of having bouncy curls every morning is great but the reality of getting up early so I can spend 30 minutes on just my hair…not so great.  The idea of having tasty roasted vegetables for dinner sounds great but getting home at 8:30 after a killer workout after a full day at work only to have to wait 30 more minutes for these seasoned and perfectly charred veggies…also not so great.  Living in Europe for a year sounds like a great idea, but the reality of applying for a VISA and budgeting for no income for a year and everything else that goes into that plus being away from the people you love the most bites.

The idea of something and the reality of it are usually two different things so I have to check myself and have people around me to keep me grounded but at the same time not squash my dreams.  It’s not easy.  If you can do all that by yourself, without the help of others, you are way ahead of the game so take a bow.  I’m getting there but it’s taken years of reflection, tears, slaps in the face, ugly wake up calls, and journaling to get there.

PS I had the yummy veggies last night and my hair is in bouncy curls this morning and it was all worth it.  I think I’ll make them again tonight.

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The Dreaded Push Up

I hate push ups.  I hate the fact that I can only to a few on my toes and the rest I have to be on my knees making me feel weak.  I hate that I never feel like I have the correct form.  So many things to hate about the push up.  You know what that means though, right?  I must do more of them.  Let’s figure this out and conquer it and throw a big party when I can do 10 on my toes with the correct form.  Then we’ll throw another one at 20.  #babysteps

So here’s what I’m doing:

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One of the things I love about this one is that it starts on Day 1.  Not July 1.  So there’s no excuse to not start today because it’s July 10.  Go for it. I started on the 7th.  Plus it’s gradual.  I can totally do 5 push ups on my toes.  It wasn’t easy by any means and 7 last night was even harder but it’s still not very many.  I am, however, a little nervous about 225 squats on day 26 but I’m going to take it one day at a time. #babysteps

I’ve also started to carry around this BPA free water bottle:

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You’re supposed to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water so if I have three of these a day, that’s over my quota. The body is so dehydrated when you wake up and the caffeine I put in it with tea/coffee just makes it worse so I am filling it first thing in the morning to hopefully polish off before work.  Plus…

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and

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P.S. I did not eat the small chocolate muffin in the break room this morning as I made my coffee even though I really wanted it (#babysteps), but I really, really hope someone else does before I have to go in there and look at it again.  I still have 15 more lbs to go and they aren’t going to fall off in my sleep unfortunately even though I pray everyday that they do.  I pray for that and world peace of course.

Get to the Root of the Problem

This day started out in one of the most lovely ways <insert sarcasm font>.  I was walking back to my bedroom with my yummy berry detox tea that had been seeping while I was in the shower and stepped on a cold wet spot on the carpet.  Houston we had a leak.  Just the thing to deal with at 6am in your bathrobe. So after four towels I felt like it was getting worse, not better.  My boyfriend says, “Do you want to let your landlord deal with it?” to which I responded, “Not until I get to the root of the problem.”  See landlords don’t always respond in the speediest fashion, especially at 6am.  I needed to find out where the leak was coming from and if I could stop it so go to work and deal with it later or if it was just going to get worse while I waited for my landlord to fix it.  What if it was from my neighbor above and I needed to knock on their door and tell them they had a problem?  What if I needed to pull out the stackable washer and dryer unit and shut it off at the source?  All things that I need to know the answer to before I can go to work.  I needed to know that I could deal with it when the rest of the world is awake – after work.

So here were have another theme in life – get to the root of the problem.  Whether it’s weight gain or bad relationships or dead end jobs, the common denominator in your problems is YOU so get to the root of the problem.  Which is what I have been trying to do.  Why do I overeat?  Why do I continue to eat things that I know are going to make me feel badly? Why do I think I will get up and run in the morning when I know darn well that the prospect of running is not going to get my butt out of bed any earlier that I have to for work?

I’m getting to the root of my problems.  I’m trying to fill my life with healthy things that feed my soul so I don’t chose unhealthy things that don’t.  I’m learning from my mistakes so I don’t repeat them.  I’m keeping my fingers busy with this blog and my hands with helping others so I don’t use them to find unhealthy snacks.  I’m learning that the only person that I have to live with is myself so I better be able to live with the decisions that I made.  I’m going to church more and reading the bible more because being less connected with God is certainly part of the root of the problem.  I’m learning that no one can make me feel a certain way.  I make myself feel that way by either projecting or choosing to stay in a situation that I know makes me feel badly.

I am, however, human and I did have that Doubletree cookie today because they are so dang good, but I will not have one tomorrow and I won’t beat myself up about the one I had today.  I am human so I will slip – I’m not perfect.  I’m perfectly imperfect and love the person I’m growing to be.  You can only give someone else as much love as you give yourself, and my someone else deserves lots of love so I have to get busy loving me – all the curves and all the edges.

What problem will you get to the root of?

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Oh and here’s my new favorite leg workout of the day (and by “favorite” I mean holy-cow-these-hurt-like-a-mother-when-we-did-them-last-night):  Side Leg Lifts

The instructor kept saying they would help with our saddlebags and that made me push harder to do one more even when I wanted to quit.

Here are four different types of leg lifts for you to try tonight to wake up your lower body:  http://www.wikihow.com/Do-Leg-Lifts

 

 

Every Day is a Renewal

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What a wonderful gift.  Every day you get a beautiful sunrise as a reminder that today is a fresh start.  You can be different than you were yesterday.  Your past is just that, the past.  Let it go and make today the first day of the life you truly desire.  Who do you want to be?  Decide today as you watch the sunrise that today you will make decisions that reflect that.

My life lesson as of late is all about that.  The only person that I can change is me – the person inside.  It’s not about what job I have or my relationships.  It’s not about changing relationships or jobs.  It’s about me.  You get to be a little selfish with this one so take the opportunity.

Brace yourself because I’m going to reveal another flaw (EEEKKKKK!!!) – my mood is directly affected by those around me and it’s exhausting for me and probably for them (okay fine, not probably but especially).  I recently read an article about toxic behaviors and realized that people I know (including my son) have some of those behaviors and then I stopped pointing fingers and realized that I do too.

“As a solid rock is not shaken by a strong gale, so wise persons remain unaffected by praise or censure.” -Buddha

I am learning that I have to be okay with me (inside and out but most importantly inside) so that other people’s words and actions affect me less.  One step at a time, one day at a time, I can retrain my brain to know that I am enough.  I am okay.  Even if no one in my immediate presence is telling me so.  It’s all about me.

One of my favorite movie quotes:  “The bad stuff is easier to believe.”

How to Mute Your Negative Inner Dialogue

What will you accept and love about yourself even it no one else will?  What will you do differently today than you did yesterday? I’m not eating dessert after every meal.  🙂

You are enough and you are loved.  Rinse.  Repeat.

It’s Time to Face Reality

It’s time to face reality.  For me that means so many things but for the purpose of this blog I’ll save you and just focus on one.  For me facing reality means not hiding behind black all the time.  It means wearing <gasp> tank tops more often.  See the thing is that I HATE my arms.  Yes, hate is a strong word, and it’s something I strive to work on but when I’m doing an hour long spin class in front of a mirror and I’m forced to look at them in action in a tank top, I hate them.

For the past 2-3 years on this journey, I mostly wear shirts with sleeves to the gym and I feel good about myself but it’s time to get serious.  These last 10-15 stubborn pounds that won’t budge until I give up the things that I love (anything sweet) need to go.  That means facing reality.  That means motivation by wearing tank tops so I can see the areas that need focus and attention.  That means not hiding behind black clothes.

The angel on one shoulder reminds me that these arms are the ones that can still lift my giant 70 pound 8 year old when he falls down or needs a hug or falls asleep in the car on the way home from an exhausting day.  I am grateful for them so I will change it to “I hate the way my arms look in a tank top.”  HA!  How’s that?  (If I have to, here’s my current favorite tank top for working out.)

What will you face today?