Tag Archives: diet

Sometimes Life Is Like A Country Western Song

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Well, hello there.  Long time, no blog.

As you may have noticed, I disappeared in the last month or so.  There was a major snowstorm in our area which resulted in our home losing power and heat for a week, as well as a small tree falling against our neighbor’s house.  Hubby and I tried to stick it out at home, but it was freakin’ cold, so we shuffled around hotels.  When the power came back on, the furnace didn’t work, and it took a few days to get it to work.  And, oh yeah, I hurt my back shoveling snow.

After the snowstorm debacle, we left town for a pre-booked, much-needed vacation.  It was a whirlwind trip as we flew around visiting friends and family, then finally spent a couple of glorious days at a warm, sunny corner of the world.  When we returned to town, I thought I would also return to my normal routine.

Instead, I lost my job.  At least the boss waited until after my birthday.  Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s been a hell of a year.  It would be easy to give up, to tuck myself into bed and not get out for the rest of the year.  In fact, the day I lost my job, I sat in my car in the driveway thinking, “Do I really want to tempt fate by going to the grocery store?  With the way things are going, I’ll get into a fender bender on the way there!”

I tempted fate, and I continue to tempt it.  I get out of bed early each morning and I stay busy all day.  I view this time in my life as an opportunity to refocus and reorganize, literally and figuratively.  I’ve used the last couple of weeks to clear my head, to clean out and organize my house, and to do things I haven’t had time or energy to do in, oh, years.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the overwhelming support I’ve received from friends and family, as well as colleagues in my field.  Their love and support has reminded me that there is so much more to life, and my life, then a job.  (Hopefully I’ll remember that as the bills come due!)

Finally, I’ve returned to a steady diet and exercise routine.  I’m doing yoga again, and I’m back at the gym several days per week.  In fact, yesterday I did my best time ever on the treadmill–a mile in 10:34!  And I’ve lost a total of 23 pounds since mid-July!  I’m totally gonna turn into one of those “ladies who lunch” who spends all day in a velour tracksuit, going to the gym and flirting with the trainer.  Just kidding.

Have you ever had a period of your life where it seemed like everything went wrong, or you had a big, unexpected shake up?  How did you handle it?  What’s your advice for other people going through a rough period or a major life change?

Fourteen Weeks Way-In

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As you may have noticed, I pretty much disappeared in the last week.  I’d like to say I was on vacation, or kidnapped by aliens or something interesting, but the truth is I was just busy.  I had a bunch of after-work events I had to attend, then I had relatives visiting from out-of-state for a few days (who noticed my physical fitness!), followed by more after-work events.  I didn’t blog, I rarely made it to the gym or the trails, and my eating habits suffered.  The weird thing is that I finally broke my weight-loss plateau, at least for a few days.  Maybe after I get back into the groove this week, I’ll see some more weight loss and muscle toning?  Maybe my body needed a shake-up in the wrong direction?  One can dream.

So, the goal for this week is just to get back to normal.  I gotta exercise at least five days this week.  (Monday was already an off day, and Wednesday will be, too, thanks to after-hours, work-related events I’m compelled to attend.)  I gotta drink a lot of water.  I gotta eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  I’ve scheduled a physical for this week which will be shortly followed-up by blood tests, meaning the dreaded cholesterol test.  I’m crossing my fingers that my doctor finds improvement in my health and that I continue to avoid cholesterol medication which I’ve been dodging for, oh, 16 years.

What are your goals for the week?

No Free Lunch

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Are you willing to spend more money to purchase better quality food?  Do you find a difference in quality of food at organic/health stores (i.e., Whole Foods) versus your local chain grocery store (i.e., Pathmark, ShopRite, Kroger, Ralph’s, Safeway)?

Thirteen Weeks Way-In

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If you’ve ever seen Mame, then you’re familiar with the joke about Upson Downs.  I think I’m going to rename my life Upson Downs.

I’m still at a weight loss plateau.  I think I’m going on, oh, up to three weeks of a plateau.     I suppose I need to be a bit more vigilant about what I eat, and how, to make sure I haven’t become complacent with that aspect of my lifestyle.  Plus, I have several after-work events coming up in the next couple of weeks, so I should make an extra effort to eat healthy when I can to prepare for those events where it’s not so easy.  (Breaded chicken cutlets and pasta seem to be very popular at these kind of events.)

I should also mix up my exercise.  Case in point:  I didn’t do any yoga last week.  Zip.  Zilch.  I miss it.  I need to do it.

Speaking of mixing up workouts, Sundays have become my de facto day to shake it up.  Yesterday, I ran the trails instead of the treadmill.  I purposefully did interval training.  I have no idea how many miles I ran, but I was on the trails for an hour.  At one point, I really ran.  I mean knees-pumping-feet-pounding-the-ground-sprinting-flying ran.  It only lasted a minute (if that), but it felt great.  As for the treadmill, I averaged about 11:52 per mile.  On Wednesday, I ran 2 miles in 22:57 (or about 11:29 per mile).  Now that I know I can run on the treadmill for a mile or two, I feel like I should mix it up and spend some time doing interval training on the treadmill.  Maybe that will break my plateau.

How was your week?  What are your goals for this week?

Guideline #10: Drink Water

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The human body is primarily composed of water.  We lose water constantly through sweating, breathing, and urinating, and we lose lots of water when we exercise.  Water helps flush out toxins in our system, so it’s a good idea to follow Guideline #10:  Drink Lots of Water.

But how much?  The Institute of Medicine and the Mayo Clinic agree that men should drink approximately 13 cups (3 liters) of fluids per day, and women should drink about 9 cups (2.2 liters) per day.  You’ve likely heard the adage to drink 8 8-ounce cups of water per day.  The Mayo Clinic is inclined to agree, as you get some of that remaining water from other beverages and foods.  However, you’ve gotta bump that up if you’re engaging in intense exercise, you’re ill or pregnant, or you’re in a hot or humid environment.

Personally, I like to use a 32-ounce bottle with a built-in straw to get my daily water.  Remember how, in college, everybody said you could get drunk faster with a straw?  Yeah, well, it works with water, too.  I like to throw in a few slices of lime or lemon to lightly flavor the water.  I usually zip through 64 ounces in any given work day although I admit I’m not so good about drinking that much water on the weekends.  I still enjoy coffee and tea on a daily basis, but I haven’t had soda in months.

How do you get your daily water intake?  What keeps you thirsting for more instead of tossing it aside in favor of sodas, coffee, or other drinks?

Random Thought

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I’m in the midst of my weight loss journey.  Some day I will wear a bikini.  It’ll show surgery scars on my stomach, cellulite on my thighs, and boobs that have sagged a bit since my teen years.  But I won’t care, ’cause I literally worked my ass off to get to where I felt okay wearing a bikini, and that’s enough for me.

What’s That You Say?

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Adventures in Pumpkin

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The local grocery stores have been sold out of canned pumpkin for weeks so, when I finally spotted some yesterday, I loaded up with at least eight cans of the stuff.  I was anxious to use some right away and decided to experiment with pumpkin soup.  I browned a tablespoon of diced yellow onion in a tablespoon of olive oil.

I poured in 3.5 cups (a 29-ounce can) of pumpkin.

I mixed in half a cup of unsweetened applesauce.  I thought it might add some natural sweetness but balance out the pumpkin.

I poured in 1.5 cups of vegetable stock, added a dash of nutmeg, and dumped probably a tablespoon of cinnamon in it.  (I love cinnamon.)  I mixed everything up and let it simmer, covered, on low heat.  (Please–cover, cover, cover your pumpkin or you will quickly have a pumpkin-colored kitchen!)  There was no need to use a blender–I just poured a bit into a bowl and garnished it with roasted pumpkin seeds.

It was…okay.  It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t knocked out by it.  I definitely should’ve chopped up the onions a little finer.  Other than that, I’m not sure what I should’ve done to give it more flavor.  Left out the applesauce?  Added a tablespoon of maple syrup?  Added cream?  I don’t know.

What do you use in your pumpkin soup?

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?

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.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie With Almond Milk

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Seems like all the cool kids are using almond milk these days, so I decided to try it out for the first time.  Pure almond milk is made from almonds and water, but the packaged store brands usually contain some other ingredients like vitamins and vanilla extract.  Not only is almond milk vegetarian-friendly, but it has no lactose and no cholesterol (a big bonus for me).

I poured 1 cup of almond milk into the blender, along with 1 banana and 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries.

I pulsed the ingredients until smooth.  Voila–smoothie!  So simple, quick, and delicious.  It made the perfect amount for one tall glass, and it was just (naturally) sweet enough for breakfast.

What’s your favorite smoothie recipe?  What’s your favorite almond milk recipe?

Lemon & Goat Cheese Veggies

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I love the combination of lemon juice and goat cheese.  It seems strange to combine the tartness of lemon with the creaminess of goat cheese but, trust me, it works, kinda like lemon pie with a meringue topping.

My latest creation stemmed from running around the kitchen at lunchtime wondering what the heck I was gonna make with the ingredients on hand.  Asparagus?  Tomatoes?  Goat cheese?  Presto–lunch!

I washed the veggies, threw the grape tomatoes into a plastic container, trimmed the woody ends off the asparagus, broke the remaining stems into pieces, and threw the asparagus into the container with about half an inch of water.

I covered the container and microwaved the veggies for about 1.5 minutes (until the tomatoes started to explode, teehee).  I drained most of the water, splashed some lemon juice into the container, and mixed in about a spoonful of goat cheese.  Yum, yum.

This dish also works with pasta.  If you use pasta, drain most of the water from the pasta, add the goat cheese, mix well, then add the lemon juice and veggies.