Tag Archives: healthy living

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?

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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?

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.

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?

Gym Dandy

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Yesterday was my second day at the gym, and my second time on the treadmill in more than a year.  Last year, I ran maybe a 15:00 minute mile.  Maybe.  For the past couple of months, I’ve been jogging on streets, trails, and tracks, and usually I don’t keep track of how far or how fast I run.  It was just a few weeks ago that I got excited because I ran three laps around the track–and they weren’t even consecutive.

Imagine my surprise at the gym yesterday when I ran a mile in 13:40.  I know that’s not impressive to many (most?  all?) of you, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I only did 1.5 miles on the treadmill before I called it a day.

Which brings up a few questions.  How do people run, like, 5 miles without passing out or sweating to death?  Is it more important to focus on how your body is feeling, or whether you reach a certain distance or speed?  How do you ignore the darn numbers on the treadmill?  (‘Cause when I see it approaching a certain “mile”stone, my mind wants to reach it, then give up for the day.)  How do you fight treadmill tedium?

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.

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

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‘Tis the season for pumpkins and a nice hot breakfast.  I had a jar of pumpkin spice butter in my pantry and decided to finally put it to good use.

I mixed about a tablespoon of the pumpkin spice butter into my oatmeal.

As usual, I threw in a handful of blueberries.

It was delicious!  It’s amazing what a difference a tablespoon of pumpkin butter made to the oatmeal.  Sweet and spicy and very, very yummy.

Nine Weeks Way-In

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I don’t know if I’m sensitive to weight issues these days or what, but this past week I got several comments that left me scratching my head.

To start, remember the server who assumed I was going to eat a giant cheeseburger?  Well, I had lunch at that restaurant again, and she made a point of saying hello and introducing herself to me–even though she was neither my waiter nor my server for the day.  Oops, maybe she overheard me try to joke about her fatty assumptions last time, and maybe she felt bad about it.  Maybe it was just coincidence.

By the weekend, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I hit the two month mark of my new lifestyle, hit (and maintained) a total 15-pound weight loss, and discovered I needed to shop for smaller clothes!  Hubby and I hit the mall.  I’m short (5’2”) and need a short inseam on pants, so I try to shop the petite sections when possible.  I was excited that I’m no longer a size 14/16 (14 on a good day!) and am cruising into 12/14 territory, which means the petite section of a lot of stores is now available to me.  While looking at the suit pants in the petite section of Ann Taylor, the saleswoman sternly reminded me I was in the petite section, as if I’d waddled over there by mistake.  I encountered something similar at Brooks Brothers.  (However, the folks at Banana Republic were friendlier.  I tried on a pair of size 12 jeans there and nearly wet them when they fit!  I even dragged Hubby into the dressing room to see my success.  Okay, I could stand to lose a couple more pounds until they fit perfectly but, d*mnit, I bought them, anyway–I deserved it!)

That night, Hubby and I tried a new hibachi restaurant.  We were seated next to another couple about my age.  The thin wife looked at me after our super-skinny waitress left and said, “I want to eat what she eats–she’s so skinny!”  I polished off the shrimp and veggies on my plate, but only had a few bites each of the rice and noodles.  The wife looked at me again and said, “Wow, you have self-restraint.  I ate everything!”  I didn’t know if this woman was just a chatty Cathy, or if she saw me as something other than a fat slob (which was how I was feeling at Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers) and more as a kindred spirit who tries to live a healthy lifestyle.  Which would be awesome.

Despite the mixed comments, I’m feeling jazzed about my healthy lifestyle.  Yes, fitting into a pair of size 12 jeans helped, but I’m excited that I’ve hit the two month mark and I’m still going strong.  In fact, on Sunday I jogged around the neighborhood and just.  Felt.  Great.  The sky was bright blue and cloudless, there was a slight breeze, the neighbors were all out and smiling, and I discovered an alley still packed with fragrant flowers despite the cool weather.  I wasn’t straining to breathe as I jogged, and I probably jogged at least a mile, upwards to 1.5 mile.  (Not consecutively, but I jogged most of the 2 miles of my neighborhood trek).

For the first time, I felt powerful in my body.  Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers?  They can’t take that feeling away from me.

Layered Tomatoes & Eggplant

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I tried a variation of homemadeadventure’s scalloped tomatoes using eggplant instead of polenta.

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and coated the bottom of a casserole dish with a thin layer of olive oil.  I sliced a small-to-medium-sized eggplant and a couple of tomatoes.  A row of eggplant was laid across the dish, followed by a row of tomatoes, and so on.

I sprinkled salt and pepper over the layers.  The fridge revealed some left over Chavrie goat’s milk cheese and Montchevre goat milk cheddar cheese which I dabbed on the veggies.

I’m a sloppy cook.  I wanted to use balsamic vinegar in this dish.  Did I check to see if I had any before I sliced up the tomatoes and eggplant?  Nope.  Did I have any?  Nope.  So I improvised and used red wine vinegar instead.  I splashed olive oil and red wine vinegar over the dish.

I shredded bits of oregano and sprinkled it over the layers.

I cooked the layered tomatoes and eggplant for 25 minutes.  It wasn’t as pretty as the dish from homemadeadventure, but I enjoyed it.  The goat cheese and vinegar were a nice, tart contrast with the meaty eggplant and fresh tomatoes.

What’s That You Say?

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