Workout With Vera de Milo

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Curse Ye, World

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Ugh.  Just…ugh.  Do you ever have those days where you want to quit your job on the spot just so you can curl up in bed all day?  Or you find yourself doing a slow drive-by of the grocery store and contemplating buying every pint of Ben & Jerry’s in their freezers?  Or you just feel like the poster child for Murphy’s law?  Yeah, it’s one of those days.

Okay, so rather than wallow in self-pity and doldrums, I will try to think of 7 things that make me happy.  Let’s see…..:

1.  Daffodils.  (They remind me of my grandparents.)

2.  Roads where trees hang over so you feel like you’re in a tunnel of trees.

3.  A nice cup of coffee on a weekend morning.

4.  A particular outdoor jacuzzi in Bermuda that overlooks the ocean.  When you sit in it, you feel like a movie star.

5.  The color blue.

6.  A hug from a loved one.

7.  Snow days, water main breaks, or anything else that suddenly closes the office so I have to go home.

What are 7 things that make you happy?

Eleven Weeks Way-In

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I’m eleven weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  Last week, I challenged myself to tackle the elliptical machine and recumbent bike at the gym, and to do a couple of days of restorative yoga.  I only met half of my challenges.  I tried the elliptical for three minutes.  I just don’t get it.  I didn’t feel comfortable on it, and I’m not even sure I was doing it right.  The ellipticals are really popular at my gym–there’s usually more people on the ellipticals than the treadmills.  Why?  I enjoy the treadmill a lot more.  As for my other goals, I totally skipped the bike.  My left knee is not 100% and I’m afraid the bike would wreck it.  (That’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it.)  As for yoga, I only had one yoga session that I felt was restorative and focused.  Maybe I should start doing more yoga at night, as opposed to before work, so that I can totally relax in it without watching the clock.

As for my other activities for the week, I averaged about 12:20 per mile on the treadmill.  On Sunday, I decided I needed a break from the treadmill and ran around the hilly neighborhood instead.  (Everything in moderation, right?)  I followed it up with yard work.  (Now that’s definitely something I do in moderation!)

I’ve lost about 17-18 pounds overall, and I think it’s starting to show.  There are certain parts of my body that look a bit more toned, although there are other parts that still look just as soft and flabby as ever.  It’s a process, though, so it takes time.  However, I had to go shopping–had to, I swear!–because my black suit was literally falling off me!  I tried on a bunch of size 12 suits and dresses, and was amazed at how well they fit.  Shopping is definitely a more pleasant experience these days.

It seems, however, that my weekends are not as pleasant in the sense that I’m not as good with exercise and diet on the weekends as I am during the week.  On week days, I have a very structured schedule with meals and snacks at certain times of day, lots and lots of water (at least 64 ounces per day), occasionally yoga in the mornings, and the gym in the evenings on at least 4 week days.  But on the weekends?  Forget it.  My “meals” turn into sloppy foraging in the fridge at random times of day, and I don’t drink nearly as much water as I do during the week.  It leads to unhealthy choices.  For example, on Saturday I sorta forgot to eat lunch, so I was ravenous by the time Hubby and I were at a street fair on Saturday afternoon.  We decided to get lunch right away.  Rather than choose a restaurant offering fresh, healthy food, we dashed into a bar and ate nasty pub food.  I actually apologized to Hubby because the “food” was obviously thawed-out, microwaved crap.  I didn’t eat much of it, but I followed it up with a sugary drink from Starbucks.  On Sunday, I ate beyond feeling satisfied at lunch, then went to dinner with a friend and had a bit too much sangria.  My poor weekend food choices showed on the scale this morning.

So, my goal for this week is, again, to do more restorative yoga.  Also, I want to be more consistent with diet and exercise on the weekends, especially with my water intake.

What are your goals for the week?

What’s Your Inspiration?

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A lot of times it takes hitting rock bottom or experiencing a major shake-up before we make substantial changes in our lives.  A lot of us need inspiration to make those changes stick.

I never thought I’d say it, but my parents are my inspiration for a healthy lifestyle.  I’ve told you about how my childhood was sedentary, and we didn’t eat the healthiest foods.  We only drank Coca-Cola, the pantry was stocked with pre-packaged junk food, and our weekends were full of big, greasy bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches.  My parents‘ lifestyle didn’t change much after they became empty nesters.

Until a couple of years ago.  My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and, just a few months later, my dad was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery because his arteries were almost completely blocked and he was a millimeter away from a massive heart attack.  As you can imagine, we were all shaken up.  We knew my mom’s cancer was probably based on a host of causes–heredity, hormones, and lifestyle–but there was no getting around the fact that my dad’s heart problems were clearly a result of his lifestyle.

My parents immediately made big changes.  They tossed out the junk food and nearly eliminated sodium from their diet.  They joined a gym, and they go there every day.  They swim, jog, and occasionally use weight machines.  They were both enormously proud of themselves when they were each able to run a mile on the treadmill, and rightfully so.  When they’re away from home, they go for long walks.  In fact, my dad bought an iPod so he’s entertained on walks when my mom’s not around.  Within just a few months, they each dropped over 20 pounds.  Although my mom’s weight loss has since stalled, my dad continued to drop pounds until he reached a healthy weight for his height and age.

More importantly, they are each doing very well now.  My mom’s margins are clear and she remains in remission.  My dad still has some blockage, but his cardiologist assures him it’s nothing to be overly concerned about, and my dad gets checked out every few months.

I am proud of them for taking control of their health and for supporting each other in their new healthy lifestyle.  I am inspired to take control of my own health, and not wait until my life is threatened to make big changes.

What inspires you?

Guideline #9: Unplug an Hour Before Bed

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Just a few months ago, I couldn’t sleep.  It took me a couple of hours to fall asleep only to toss and turn all night while having bad dreams.  Then, I woke up early–sometimes as much as 3 hours early!  I was not a happy camper.

I hoped that exercise and a healthy diet would help my sleep patterns, but I also knew I had to try Guideline #9:  Unplug an hour before bed.  About 30 to 60 minutes before I turn in for the night, I turn off the TV and the computer, and I relax in bed with a book.  Sometimes I take a cup of hot tea with me.  I keep the lights as low as possible (without straining my eyes), and occasionally I’ll listen to soothing sounds such as classical guitar music or nature sounds.  (There’s a great app called Relaxing Sounds of Nature where you can actually mix a soundboard of different relaxing sounds.)  Once in a while, I’ll light a scented candle.

Thanks to this new habit, I’ve been sleeping so much better lately.  How do you prepare for bed?  What helps you sleep?

The Work Treadmill

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Yesterday I had to be at a work-related event by 8:45 AM in one county, then dash from there to another work-related event in another county where I also had a business lunch.  After work, I had to go to a professional association dinner in a third county.  I didn’t get home until 9:00 PM and I had to go to bed because I had to get up early for an 8:00 AM business meeting.  I barely had the time or privacy to use the ladies’ room by myself!  I don’t like days like this.  Can I call in tired to work?

How do you deal with weekday stress when you’re rushing from one thing to the next?  How do you keep your energy up on those nonstop days?

Going Blog Wild

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There’s a “pay it forward” movement among the blogging world.  A lot of bloggers who write about similar interests feel a real kinship with one another, and we try to support each other.  In that vein, I’d like to share some of my blogging friends with you:

  • homemadeadventure:  A young woman balances medical school with travel, running, and healthy eating in the Boston area.
  • A Curvy Girl Running:  She had an idea to run a 5K, and now she’s training for half-marathons.
  • Love Eat Run:  This Baltimore girl loves to run, cook healthy, run (yeah, that much), and cheer on the Ravens.
  • A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That:  Boot camp, hot yoga, intense gym sessions–there’s nothing this Toronto woman can’t do.
  • IT’S SCANDELICIOUS:  Her dad’s weight-related health issues inspired her to make major changes in her life and join Overeaters Anonymous.
  • What Would Cathy Eat?:  Major health issues forced Cathy to change her diet habits, but she does it with flavor.

I hope you visit and enjoy their sites.  There are a lot of great bloggers out there, and I hope to share more of them with you in the future.  And I hope you pass the love forward!

What’s That You Say?

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Curried Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup

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Hubby loves spicy food.  I just got an immersion blender.  How do we marry the two?  With curried sweet potato and carrot soup!

I peeled and cut up 3 organic sweet potatoes, along with 4 (skinny) organic carrots.

The pan heated up with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil while I prepared and chopped up a couple of tablespoons of leek.

I browned the leek, then added 2 teaspoons of curry, the sweet potatoes, and the carrots.  I mixed everything together and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

Then, I poured 3.5 cups of vegetable stock into the pan.

The soup simmered, covered, for about 25 minutes.  Finally, I used the immersion blender to puree the soup.

It was thick with a consistency somewhere between a bisque and mashed potatoes.  Hubby loved the curry and thought it really gave a punch to the sweet potatoes and carrots.  It was tasty and very filling.  We each had a bowl, and there was enough left over for at least 2 more bowls.

Sing For Your Supper

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If you’re not much of a cook, or you’re new to preparing healthy foods, spending time in the kitchen can be daunting.  I like to turn my cooking sessions into mini-parties to get me in the kitchen and keep me there awhile.  Sometimes I enjoy a glass of red wine while I cook, and I listen to a kitchen-inspired playlist on my iPod.  Here are some of my favorite cooking songs:


 
If I Knew You Were Comin’ – Eileen Barton
Everybody Eats When They Come to My House – Cab Calloway
Cornbread and Butter Beans – Carolina Chocolate Drops
Home Grown Tomatoes – Guy Clark
When I Take My Sugar to Tea – Nat “King” Cole
You’re the Cream in My Coffee – Nat “King” Cole
Sugar Dumpling – Sam Cooke
You’ve Gotta Eat Your Spinach, Baby – Tommy Dorsey
Tea for Two – Benny Goodman
Coffee in the Morning – Terra Hazelton
Hey Sweet Potato – Buddy Johnson
Beans and Cornbread – Louis Jordan
Boogie Woogie Blue Plate – Louis Jordan
Chicken Soup with Rice – Carole King
Peel Me A Grape – Diana Krall
How Do Ya Like Your Eggs in the Morning – Dean Martin
Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee – Glenn Miller
It Ain’t The Meat – The Swallows
Sing for Your Supper – Mel Tormé
Shortnin’ Bread – Fats Waller
Hey, Good Lookin’ – Hank Williams

 

What are your favorite food songs?  What gets you in the kitchen and ready to cook?

Ten Weeks Way-In

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I can’t believe it, but I’m already 10 weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  I’m truly astonished and pleased that I’ve made it this far.  No matter how healthy (or unhealthy) I am right now, it’s quite an accomplishment to stick it out this long considering that my prior attempts lasted maybe 2 months.  Here’s hoping I’ve really developed long-lasting habits.

This past Tuesday, I joined a gym.  I went to the gym 4 times last week and used the treadmill and the weight machines.  (I also did yoga and other things at home.)  I definitely felt it as my muscles have been a bit tight or sore.  Nothing serious, but I wonder if it means I should work out more or less?  In any event, I really killed it on the treadmill and ran a mile in 11:47 on Friday!  Then I ran another mile!  It was a big day for me.  Not only did I run two miles, but I did it in 24:40.  Two months ago, I never, ever, ever thought I’d be able to run two miles, much less at a pace of about 12 minutes per mile.  I followed it up on Saturday by running a mile in 12:21, then I did a cool down for a quarter of a mile and called it a week on the treadmill.  (Yeah, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the type to set big fitness goals for myself everyday.  I’m more the type to keep going slow and steady, and then be really surprised when it actually works one day.)

I’m surprised that I’ve been able to maintain the home cooking aspect of my healthy diet.  Last year when I tried a healthy lifestyle, I got frustrated at meal planning and preparation, and ultimately I gave up and went back to pre-packaged junk food.  I think that’s because, last year, I was focused on counting calories, so it was very easy to quickly throw up my hands at the thought of planning meals every day with a certain amount of calories.  It was overwhelming.  Now, I’m focused on eating real, whole foods, and it’s been more of a pleasure exploring new foods and new ways to cook them.  I’m also surprised by how easy it is to prepare a lot of meals with whole ingredients.  (I’m talkin’ to you, soup.)

For this upcoming week, I’d like to tweak my workout at the gym.  I’m kinda afraid of the elliptical machine, so I’d like to tackle that and see if I can handle it for a few minutes.  I’m also kinda afraid of the bikes, just because I’m worried it’ll really mess up my knees, but I’d like to try a bike for at least a couple of minutes.  Finally, I think I need to spend a couple of days doing some restorative yoga.  I feel like I’ve haven’t really devoted much time to truly practicing yoga lately, and the little bit of yoga I’ve done lately has felt rushed.  I need restorative yoga to balance everything out.

What are your health and fitness goals for this week?

Tomato Soup

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I got a new toy:  an immersion blender.  Of course, I had to try it out and make soup.  I decided to make tomato soup for the first time.  First, I poured a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a hot pan, then added 1 chopped clove of garlic and about a teaspoon of chopped onion.  (I’m not a big fan of onions.)

I washed 6 medium-sized, vine-ripened tomatoes and cut each tomato into 8 pieces.  After the onion and garlic browned, I dumped the tomatoes into the pan, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and added bits of fresh thyme.

The whole concoction was covered with 2.5 cups of vegetable stock.

I cooked the soup for 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Finally, I used the immersion blender in the pan to puree the tomatoes.  I ladled the soup into a bowl and enjoyed it with a hunk of rosemary olive oil bread.

It was tangy yet smooth, and truly delicious.  I couldn’t believe I actually made something that tasted so good!  I used the bread to sop up the last bits of soup from the bowl.  There was enough for about 4 bowls, so I put the leftovers into a sealed plastic container.  I’m really looking forward to leftovers at lunch!

p.s.  Sorry the photos aren’t the greatest quality.  Seems like I find myself cooking when there’s no natural light in the kitchen.