Reading is Fundamental…but it doesn’t always cut it.

I’ve noticed lately that something is missing.  It’s something powerful, creating urges I can’t quite quell. My heart and mind are searching, reaching out and testing the waters in areas I shouldn’t be.  I have been delving in the darkness. I couldn’t put my finger on what’s wrong or why, all of a sudden, this surge of uneasiness has bubbled up in my life. All I knew was something was missing.  Something calling my attention away from my day to day routine, begging for excitement. Today, alone in the early hours of the morning, I realized what it was.

If you know me at all, you know I’m a research hound. Even my license plate reads “LIV2LRN”.  I was born to keep my imagination stoked and my mind reeling in excitement.  I need to tackle a topic and delve in hard and fierce, learn everything I can, create a world and all its characters and spew it onto paper.  I cannot keep my wild, vivid imagination locked away, inactive, in my mind for very long.  It leads not only to anxious, worrisome obsessions, it leads to dissatisfaction.  It leads to trouble.

What I need is to write. So, with the new “50 Shades of Grey” phenomena making waves all over the place, I decided to dig out my character notebooks and I plucked Lynette from my vault of lives.  Lynette is just the one I need right now; a strong, vibrant woman going against the rules of Victorian London. Lynette is a whore.

Okay, so it probably doesn’t sound like the best voice to pull out of storage at this point in time, but Lynette is exactly what I need. With the success of Shades, it’s obvious it might just be what a lot of women need.  And not just the unf*^%able ones.  Experts say the success of the racy books – dubbed ‘mummy porn’ – has been driven by  ”frustrated middle-aged mothers.”  Of course, those experts are at the dailymail.co.uk.  More experts took a survey of 400 women – all aged between 25 and 50 -and found  43% of women would rather read about sex than perform it. Really? You’re doing it wrong.

“One respondent, who didn’t want to be named, said: ‘I’d much rather read about it then do it. It’s always exciting in a book and, unlike in real life, the hero never rolls off when he’s finished and starts snoring without so much as a cuddle.'”

What’s even MORE disturbing to me is this is article: “ ‘Mummy porn’ Fifty Shades Of Grey outstrips Harry Potter to become fastest selling paperback of all time.”  The article went on to say, “Last week alone, the first installment sold more than 100,000 paperback copies – a feat most of the Harry Potter books and all of the Twilight novels failed to achieve.”   Okay, I can see the Twilight saga, after all, that’s not much more than vampire porn, but I’ve read ALL the Harry Potter books at least three times.  I couldn’t get past the first five pages of Shades.  The writing doesn’t even compare.  JK Rowling is the queen of writing.  EL James is the slow child in the back of the room.  Okay, I know that sounds harsh, but really?  Are there THAT many “middle-aged mothers” out there that don’t know good writing when they find it? Paleeese!  I could write a better book with my eyes closed. Um, I mean, in my sleep. I mean, with one hand tied…oh, never mind. You get the idea.

Let’s get back on track.  Let’s get back to me.  Actually, let’s get back to Lynette.  Perhaps I should toss aside the historical novel Lynette took a backseat in and put her right out there in the spot light.  Give those frustrated middle-aged mothers something to read that isn’t filled with, to quote Shades, crap.  I suppose that’s what got me thinking about ole’ Lynette, that strong-willed prostitute.  She’s not stupid.  As a matter of fact, she achieved something these “mummy porn” readers haven’t.  She’s come to the understanding that sex isn’t something that can be confined to paper.  She knows she’s sexy and uses it to her advantage.  And why not?  While many Victorian prostitutes were not in the profession on their own accord, many others took control of their own fate. In a world where women worked 12-14 hours a day then came home to filthy, overcrowded, disease ridden basements, prostitutes often chose the profession as an easier alternative.  If they worked for a house, they received better health care, ate well, and wore nice clothes.  Who wouldn’t rather have a bed with sheets, receive gifts and…well, let’s face it, have sex all day long.  Unless, of course, you’d rather be reading about it.

Frustration Level: Orange

Back away slowly…

Well, who said this would be easy?  As I step on the scale (yes, yes, I know) I heave a big sigh.  It doesn’t go down. Ever.  It goes up but then right back, day after stinking day.  Never down. The measuring tape isn’t playing well either. My jeans don’t fit better.    I eat healthy, I exercise 5-6 times a week for at least an hour (and that’s not counting yoga).  It’s a brisk, get your heart pumping exercise too, not a leisurely stroll around the mall.  I sweat. A lot.  So why oh why aren’t I getting smaller?

Patience you say. It’s been six months! I say.  How much patience can a human have?

As I put a spoonful of cookie dough into my mouth, I asked my daughter, “why do I bother exercising?” “So you can eat cookie dough.” she said matter-of-factly.  Hmmm.  True. I’d just returned from a rigorous toning/yoga class with weights.  It kicks my butt.  What if I don’t eat the cookie dough AND still exercise you ask? Nothing.  I’ve tried that. At one point or another I’ve tried it all. I’ve given up sugar. I’ve given up white flour. I exercise an hour a day, do yoga an hour, eat fruits, veg, grains and lean protein. Nothing. I’ve done no exercise, eaten pizza and still, nothing. So…what is the missing link? What is that ONE little thing I’m doing wrong that makes my body refuse to shed these extra pounds? And don’t tell me this is just where my body is supposed to be, because I’ll throw something at you. I know it’s not.  I would be happy with 10 pounds less, despite needing to lose closer to 20 to be in the normal range.  I don’t want to be Twiggy. I’d be happy with Marilyn.  I want to lose the muffin top.

So, I sigh heavily, pack my lunch of fresh gazpacho, beans and rice and yogurt.  I’ll snack on a banana with natural peanut butter and probably have at least one cookie at my meeting tonight. Counting my calories, I’ll stay within my goal of 1300-1400 after exercise.  I’ll sweat my ass off on the elliptical for an hour, shower and go to sleep.  And get up and do it all again tomorrow.  Because at this point, what else can I do?

I am the Turtle

I am the Turtle. Hear me Roar

In 5 weeks I’m heading to Miami.  Four days of fun, sun and a trade show meeting hundreds of people.  Traveling is a new perk to my job and I love it.  In April I went to New Orleans…next year the show is in LA! In August I’m headed to Atlanta for hot, humid days of tank tops and skirts.  In September our customers are joining us in Portsmouth.  It’s going to be a busy summer and the only thing I can think of is: If only I could drop 10 pounds.

Last week when I found out I was going, I started thinking about how much weight I could lose in 6 weeks.  At the least I should be able to drop 5 pounds right?  Less than a pound a week…should be easy-peasey.  Despite knowing how my body functions and how hard it is to lose weight, I started going through the best diet for the job.  South Beach? No, it just doesn’t work for me. Especially being semi-vegetarian and only eating chicken and fish.  Rice and beans are a main staple for me.  And there’s no way I’m giving up fruit.  What about Weight Watchers?  All healthy food, good system… then I stopped.  I was right back into the “just go on a diet” mindset I’ve been on since I was 13.  Diets DON’T work.  I know that.  I was setting myself up to fail even as I ran through the benefits of each system.  Sure, it might work for a week or two but then what? I don’t want to spend the rest of my life counting points or avoiding bread.  The thing I really need to change is my thought process.

I need to stop thinking I will somehow have a better time if I just lose weight.  But it’s not about just accepting who I am and shrugging my proverbial shoulders.  I know I’d be  healthier and feel better if I dropped the inches.  But I’m already on the right path; Yoga and the weight classes I am taking twice a week will do wonders for my arms in those tank tops.  My hikes not only bring me strong legs and lungs, it brings me peace and alone time.  Writing my blog keeps me grounded and reminded that I’m doing the right things. There’s no need to get caught in the diet trap.

Things won’t happen overnight.  My arms may not be as tone as I’d like in 5 weeks. But I’ll reach my goals without diets. Without quick fixes.  It will only come with patience and persistence. Slow and steady wins the race. And I am the Turtle.  Hear me roar!

It may not be until next April when I’m searching the LA streets for Mark Sheppard, but ultimately I’ll get where I need to be

Happy Birthday…to me

Yes, today is my birthday.  I’m 45 years young! For me, my birthday is a time to reflect on the past year and speculate on the one to come.  It’s a time to regroup, reinvent and rediscover who I am and what makes me tick.  Most people prefer New Years Day amidst hangovers and swollen bodies suffering from too much holiday goodness.  I prefer to take stock when the world is coming alive again; when the buds on the trees seem to open before my eyes.  It reminds me that life is a constant cycle of change.  What I saw when I looked out the window three months ago is very different than what I see now.  Our lives are very similar; there’s no reason to stay the same.  For me, the changing seasons are more than just taking out one wardrobe and packing another away.  A new piece of my personality emerges as well.   

I love to reinvent myself.  You never know what I’ll be next!  British Punk with Converses and Dr. Who tee shirts.  Hippy hiker chick (also my twitter alias) in Northface pants, hiking boots and a “peace” tee.  Trail Runner with my muddy New Balance sneakers and Columbia running shirt.  Guru with yoga pants, flip flops, and a “strength” tee.  Author with thick rimmed glasses and turtleneck sweaters. Classic Country with Levi jeans, cowboy boots and silver belt buckle.   Sometimes I wonder if I’m just confused. But in reality, all these styles represent the whole of who I am.  

While I’ve done a lot this past year, something was missing.  An element that is THE most important piece in being alive.  Joy.  Not that I’m not happy, because I’m truly happy and content in my life.  I have an amazing family and wonderful friends.  That’s not what I mean.  I mean I am going through the motions of being ME without keeping joy in my heart.  I climbed Mt. Washington, something I not only trained for but anticipated with so much JOY.  But the act was a chore.  I allowed those around me to dictate my experience.  I allowed others to influence what was in my heart.  At work, I hit a new sales record!  I did it with no expectations other than making more money and proving I could do it. I was so proud! When no recognition came, I allowed the joy to be stripped from my work; it became a chore again.  What really changed? Nothing.  Only I expected something from my hard work that I hadn’t given consideration to before. Recognition from above.  It didn’t dawn on me that I needed it until it wasn’t there.  Since then I’ve been lackluster at best…all because I have forgotten the joy of what I want to accomplish for me and my family. 

Lately I’ve been going through the motions in my own growth.  When I hike or work out on the elliptical machine, I have one goal in mind. To get in the best shape of my life.  When I eat clean I do it for the purpose of cleaning out processed foods and feeding my body only healthy foods so I can lose weight and get in the best shape of my life.  When I go to yoga I practice only to stretch out my sore legs and strained muscles, forgetting the true purpose of practice.  I’m doing everything without the JOY I used to have.  I used to hike because I love to be in the woods and spend time with my dogs.  I used to eat healthy to feel better whether I lost weight or not.  I used to do yoga to get in touch with who I am and remind myself my body is more than a thing to manipulate.  It is what it was meant to be.  Sure, I’m overweight. Sure, I don’t fit into the jeans I have hanging in my closet (that I have NEVER been able to get into but I still set the bar to achieve the impossible).  Sure, I’m not as beautiful as I want to be…I hate seeing my fat face in pictures. I hate seeing the double chin and the chipmunk cheeks. Somewhere along the way I have forgotten why I do the things I love.  I need to regain the act of enjoying the simplicity of life.   

I started asking myself, why won’t diets work for me? Why can’t I lose weight no matter how hard I try or despite the hours I spend working out?  Because I’m not really doing it for the right reasons.  No matter what I tell myself (and others) I want to be thin.  I want to be in shape, be strong and be wearing those jeans.  I don’t want to have a roll around my middle. I don’t want to be middle-aged. Every once in a while it hits me from out of nowhere.  I’m 45 years old!  I’m middle-aged.  I’ll never be young again.

And this, my friends, is how I must reinvent myself this year.  I must dig deep inside and come to terms with what it means to be middle-aged and love it.  To find joy in who I am at this very moment, at this age.  I have no regrets. I have no expectations.  It’s not that I really mind being middle-aged, not really. it’s just that it happened so damned fast I’m ill-prepared.  When I limp down the stairs in the mornings I’m reminded just how old I am.  My ankles hurt, my feet hurt, my head hurts.  I pulled a muscle over three months ago and I still can’t do a forward bend without pain.  I can’t sit in one place for long periods without hurting somewhere.  Age has crept in while I wasn’t paying attention!

So, what does this mean? Should I crawl up in my big comfy chair, sip on some tea and watch Masterpiece Theater for the rest of my life?  No!  That’s only for Sundays!  However, it does mean I need to accept a few things about myself:

1.  It’s okay to take a day or two off from exercise and not feel guilty.

2.  I am NOT a runner. Never have been, never will be.  I  need to stop trying.  Sure, a slow jog on the trail from time to time is fine, but I need to stop trying to be something I’m not. 

3.  Eating cake and ice cream occasionally is fine.  Eating it days in a row just makes me feel like shit.

4.   I like being vegetarian (although it’s really pescaterian as I eat fish) and I’m sorry if that offends you.  I don’t care if you eat meat so please don’t care if I don’t. 

5.  I like labels. I find comfort in giving a name to what I’m doing.  Whether I’m “eating clean” or following some other program, I love self-help books. I really enjoy “Clean Eating” and “Running and Walking programs for Women over 40”.  BUT it’s up to me whether I listen to them.  I’m not a failure if I decide it’s not for me.  Tosca’s cookbooks are the only ones I use on a regular basis because I love the simple goodness of them.  Not to mention, they are easy!  Running…not for me.

6.  I’m lazy.  Sure, I work full time, hike every day, take care of my family, but ultimately, I am lazy.  My house is a mess.  I prefer not to cook if I can get away with it.  I like to sit on the couch and watch tv (Leverage, Supernatural, Grimm) with my kids when I get home at night.  Does this make me a bad person? Hell no.  It just makes my butt sore from sitting in one place too long because I’m middle-aged!

7.  Hello, my name is Julie and I’m a Twitter-aholic.  Yup. I love Twitter.  I LIKE the snap shots into my favorite celebrity’s lives.  And when the tweet me back, it makes me feel special. I spend the quiet of every morning sipping coffee and reading Twitter.  I like it. And that’s okay.

8.  I’m also a shop-aholic.  I spend way too much money on things I don’t need or ultimately want.  Just because I get them at the thrift shop doesn’t make it better.

9.  I’m not a good friend.  I don’t write. I don’t remember birthdays, I don’t visit.  But I do love with all my heart and think of you often. 

10.  I loved the Avengers Movie.  Robert Downey Jr is just the hottest thing since sliced bread.  I loved ALL the Harry Potter movies and I LIKE daydreaming of parallel universes. I think that’s what makes me a great writer—even if I don’t take the time to write.  An active imagination is the cornerstone of who I am. Like it or leave it, it’s the biggest, most uncontrollable piece of my collective puzzle.

So what is in store for me in 2012?  Who will I become?  As I lay in shivasna yesterday, I asked myself just this.  Who shall I be now?   Will I recycle a persona?  Shall I mix and mingle them together?  Shall I become Buddhist? What will emerge in 2012?  I really don’t know. The only thing I DO know is that I will do it with joy and acceptance.  Only then will it be true.

 

New goals, old inspiration

I’m finishing up my forth full week of eating clean and I’m down 1.5 pounds!  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’ve never been one to drop 5 pounds in one month nevermind one week, so I’m happy!  When I was hiking 20 miles a week and eating clean (a year and a half ago) I was averaging 1/4 pound a week; I’m already ahead of the game!

Getting the portions and ratios right has been this week’s focus and I feel like I’m finally getting there.  I was still eating too many carbs (even if they were all good ones) and once I cut back I’ve seen the weight come off.  Some people may enjoy ice cream or chocolate as comfort foods…I love a good slice of toast with butter!  

I’m surprised that I haven’t had any urges to eat sweets, but I suppose eliminating sugar as helped.  They say once you eat a bite of something with sugar you crave more and more.  I’m just glad I’ve been able to walk away from all the temptations.

I’m also back to hiking each morning weather permitting–ice and rain this morning keeps me inside but I’ll do the elliptical or treadmill tonight instead.   This weekend is going to be nice so I plan on a good, long hike of at least 1 1/2 hours.  Due to the lack of snow (I’m in NH…what is up with no snow???) I can’t go snowshoeing like I love to do.  I was hoping to head out on the local lake and do the perimeter like I did last year…I’ll have to wait for a while.  But, I can head out easier on the trails.  And the dogs can use the exercise too…my pug is getting chunky! I’ll be doing Mt. Washington in July so a goal to shoot towards!  I love goals with substance and DATES.  Having count-downs to events helps me keep focused on the outcome and I work harder.  Who doesn’t I suppose? 

Sheryl Crow
She is my inspiration. Look at those pipes! I already have the curl...

My second tangible goal is that I’ll be making a trip to Atlanta in August so I want my arms looking good in tanks and sleeveless dresses!!   I have to add weight training but I’m at a loss on how to approach it.  I have plenty of weights and I know what to do…BUT I never seem to stick to it.  I have a pilates DVD that incorporates weights but I know I need more. I can carry weights when I walk too. I know that helps, but I need to just go down and use the damned weight bench like a big girl! 🙂  I need to stick that picture of the incredibly fit Sheryl Crow back on my phone as a screen saver and post it all over everywhere so I can remember what I want to look like!  After all, who doesn’t want to look like Sheryl Crow?  

Another of my battles has been finding good protein sources that I enjoy.  I found egg beaters 100% natural egg whites and I love them in the morning in addition to my oatmeal.  Cottage cheese is becoming a staple too.  I am not vegetarian but I don’t always want meat in my meals so finding other ideas has been great.  Replacing nuts with the others has helped the weight come down too.  As good as they are, they are calorie rich!

I’m also glad to see I’m almost caught up on stocking my pantry with all the right foods. The past month has cost me a small fortune on groceries but I’m finally to the point where I only have a few things I need to pick up this week.  A nice balsamic (I’m using it all the time now for dressing with a bit of flaxseed oil) and some more honey.  Now it’s just the basic fresh produce and stuff for lunches (my family hunts and we have a freezer full of venison) and I’m pretty much good to go!  Now the ease and fun of eating clean begins anew!!

Get out and enjoy life.  It’s what you make of it so make it count.  

 

A bit of a struggle…

I’ll admit, this was a tough week. While I still ate clean and actually got a lot more exercise in, I found myself losing a bit of the excitement. Perhaps it’s the third week of paying so much for groceries.  Maybe it’s the third week of three bean salad.  I’m not sure, but it was a lot harder to stay clean this week.

Sunday prep was a lot shorter and I made fewer meals making the week tougher.  Lunches have been a struggle as I am sick of the same thing and I can’t find anything that appeals to me.  Still, despite being a bit on the bored side, I easily turned down cake and ice cream not once, but THREE times at work this week.  It was an insane week for birthdays!  It’s not the sugar or the desire to eat whatever is at hand that is hard,  it’s making myself eat.  Remembering to eat every few hours has suddenly been harder as I’m not constantly thinking about food and eating clean has just become habit.  I came home with snacks still in my cooler bag, not bothering to eat them.

So, this week I need to find more appealing recipes; new, exciting recipes that I’ll look forward to eating.  No more three bean for a while 🙂  I plan on scouring the web for some fun, new ideas and branch out.  I’ve never been a recipe kinda gal, but I’ve found I’m using spices and ingredients I would never have thought of.  It’s fun!

And the cleaning up has lost it’s full glory too; it seems like there is always a slew of dishes to wash all the time–despite trying to keep up as I go.  I still do it.  But it’s not as exciting.  I have to make myself stay in the kitchen in the mornings and not go back to my routine of getting a cup of coffee and checking my email and twitter.  Like I said, I still do it, but I’m grumbling to myself as I do.  Luckily it’s Friday and I’ll have a few days to get recharged and caught up on my sleep.  I’ll find some fun, new recipes, organize my kitchen and head to the closest (1 hour away) health food bulk store to stock up on grains, cereals, spices and nut butter.  Some honey too!  I’ll make a new batch of jump start granola that my husband RAVES about and experiment with some power protein bars to rival Luna.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  Like everything else in life, the newness has worn off and it’s not as exciting and fun anymore.  But the important thing is that I’m still making the small, important choices everyday.  Plain yogurt with granola and fruit over chocolate cake and ice cream.  Whole wheat pita pizza with fresh mozz and spinach over burrito bake.  Ezekiel bread over biscuits.  Each small choice is one step closer to making eating clean a lifestyle change.  Sure, it’s glossy greatness has diminished a bit, but that’s okay.  Like a long marriage (of which I enjoy!) every day is not wine and roses.  Sometimes it’s routine. Sometimes it’s grand.  But the majority of time it’s just a part of life that runs in the background among chaos.  It makes you strong, makes you happy, but you just don’t think about it all the time–it’s for a lifetime.  So is eating clean.  Whether I think about it or not, it runs in the background of my thoughts helping me make good decisions.  I don’t focus on it and there will be times I find it tedious to eat every few hours, but I will get in the routine and make it happen.

Time and Health. Priceless.

Everyone says it’s more expensive and takes more time to eat healthy.  I look at it this way:

1. We save money by making our lunches.  The kid’s lunches were costing us $35 a week! And that consisted of pizza for my son and mozzarella sticks for my daughter.  They also ate the occasional breakfast sandwich in the morning but now I make them eggs each morning–and they love it!  Yes, it takes time to make the wraps and to make the breakfast, but what would we be doing anyway? Sitting in front of the tv or catching up on twitter?  We all have the same amount of time during the day. It’s how we prioritize it that makes the difference.  Everyone has a few minutes to spare. I found getting up 1/2 hour earlier and not even checking my phone until everything is done was the key.  Not only do I get lunches and breakfast done, I feel more energized as well!  

As far as cooking healthy meals for dinner, it’s not faster to throw a frozen pizza or frozen chicken in the oven than it is to cook a fresh, healthy meal.  I can make couscous and Portabella mushroom pizzas in less than 15 minutes.  5 minute prep, 10 minute cook time and the meal is done.  And what is faster than grabbing a banana or apple for snack?  Sure, it takes some time to make three bean salad or chopped greek salad to have ready for the week, but again, what would you be doing with the time if you weren’t doing that?  Staring into the refrigerator trying to figure out what to eat?  Give prep time priority and you won’t be sorry!

 

2. We stay out of the doctor’s office. We’re lucky enough to be healthy and we only have to visit the doctor once a year for physicals. We don’t lose money by having to take time off from work AND it saves the co-pay!

3.  Time off!  All our earned time off is spent enjoying ourselves as we’re rarely sick enough to call in!  While almost everyone in my office took at least one day off with the recent flu, I somehow missed it.  Of course I also kept my distance!  I’ll admit, the one thing that gets me are migraines but even those have become less bothersome in the past few months. Perhaps I’m eating fewer triggers. More time for fun…priceless!  When we have a day off we enjoy it, reducing stress as well.  Double win!

4.  Are expanding our lifetimes.  Who doesn’t want to live longer?  By staying away from the things that can trigger diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and countless other issues, we stand a much better chance of living a long, full life.  Adult onset diabetes is rampant in this country and it’s the most preventable disease! I had diabetes when I was pregnant with my daughter and my grandfather (who was NOT heavy in the slightest) had it as well.  My chances of getting it are close to 75%. Believe me, it’s not fun being told you will have diabetes at some point. I’m staving it off as long as I possibly can!  Why wouldn’t I take all the precautions to not end up with it?  Eat right, keep a healthy lifestyle with exercise and keep the weight off.  It can be that simple!!  Last year I was prediabetic and they told me  all I had to do was lose weight and exercise.  It was a no brainer.  Chocolate cake versus years of ill health. It helps making the choice a lot easier!  This year my sugar was down enough to remove the risk!  For now.  All I can do is take control! 

So, while my grocery budget has basically doubled in the past few weeks as I stock up on the basics for my pantry, I will ultimately spend less later.  I think that’s a good investment if I do say so! 

Yoga: It’s not all about the stretch

The second full week of Eating Clean is down and so am I –by two pounds!  Not bad since last week I somehow managed to gain three pounds. Water? Stress? Who knows.  But I wasn’t worried. I know my body and I know how LONG it takes to lose a simple pound.  Besides, this is for my health not just to lose weight (although that will help with that pesky diabetes risk).  Still, it was nice to see the scale drop for the first time in EONS.

I’ve been very good about sticking with the clean plan but I have a feeling another key piece here is getting back on the mat.

A lot of people wave off yoga as if it’s not worthy of their time.  They would rather spend that time running or at the gym.  More bang for their buck.  But what they don’t understand is that your body needs that down time.  It needs the hour-long focus you give while you stretch out on your yoga mat.  Yoga is much more than being able to touch your toes or stay in down-dog without your arms shaking like jello.  It’s about tuning in to what your body has to say.  It’s about listening to your hips, your shoulders, your neck, your back and understanding why they are tense.  It also makes you appreciate your body and all it does for you each and every day.  And by the way, yoga makes you strong. It tones your muscles by using your body weight so if you must, consider it a toning day.

But more importantly, yoga gives you focus.  You begin to pay more attention not only to how you feel, but how you treat your body in the first place.  You question what you put in it.  I haven’t met a lot of fellow yoga mat-mates that come to the 9am Saturday class hungover or who smell of cigarette smoke.  Not that there aren’t people out there that drink a lot and smoke, but after two years I haven’t met them yet.  I’m not trying to pass judgement; I’m just stating what I’ve found.  Yoga seems to keep you grounded and aware of your body–and keeping it healthy.

If you really want to take control of your body, take up yoga.  Give it a month or two (or longer) and see how you feel. I’d suggest a class rather than a tape just so you build the connection with other people and your yogi, but if you have to do a tape it’s better than nothing.  Don’t rush through the poses!  This isn’t a competitive sport!  It’s time to slow down and listen to the muscles in your body, to learn to breath again.  Just be in the moment and don’t think about everything you need to do the rest of the day or the next.  Think about how your arms feel in down-dog, how your back feels in the twist, how your feet feel as you root them into the mat.  Be there.  It’s a hard thing to master, I’ll admit, but it’s a wonderful feeling! You’ll find the hardest pose to be shavasna, or Corpse Pose, where you lie still on your mat at the end of the practice. The goal is the clear your mind completely and focus only on your breath.  Try it sometime.

I know my practice makes me more grounded and helps me make healthier food decisions.  I see my body in a less judgmental way and see what it can do rather than focus on what it looks like in the mirror.  It reminds me that I am strong but more importantly, that I am in control of how I feel.  It’s up to me to keep my body healthy by being aware of what I’m doing. No more mindless meals just to fill my stomach.  Why would I put unhealthy, processed foods into my body when it does so much for me?

Another Sunday

Sundays come and go whether you do something with them or not.  Well, everyday does doesn’t it?

I spent another day in the kitchen.  Not a full 4 hours this time and I didn’t make as many dishes.  I stuck with what I already knew were hits and added Clean Marinara sauce as well.

I prepared:

Greek Salad–I made it without the feta so Beth would eat it…Kevin will add it when he takes it

Three Bean Salad

Clean Marinara

Split pea soup without the chicken this time–this soup is SO good I had to make it for lunches again this week!

Jump start granola– and it is AMAZING 🙂  Beth didn’t want dried fruit so I’ll just add my own. But the flavor of this batch is even better than last week!

Clean lasagna using the marinara.  Okay, this was 75% clean.  I had to calm the audience with 1/2 regular noodles.  I did add vegetables, including spinach, and that was a big hit.

I already had plenty of the cranberry sauce that I use in my 10 grain hot cereal and Chobani plain non-fat yogurt.

The two items I’ve decided are the most important in my kitchen are my Pampered Chef chopping knife and my chopping board.  I have several of the flimsy type that I can fold and pour my vegetables into the pan.  I am lost without those two things!!

I kept up the “clean as you go” rule and it just makes me feel good to not leave a sink full of dishes!  I had to let the lasagna pan soak overnight but washed it up this morning and all is well in the kitchen again!

I also decided to try the Zumba class at my yoga studio yesterday. It was fun! I’m not sure I’ll do it on a regular basis, but it was a nice change.  It reminds me a lot of the jazzercise classes I used to take in the nineties after the kids were born.  I like to dance,  so we’ll see if I keep it up.  I might have to find a different class as leaving at 2:20 on a Sunday is a bit inconvenient, but with yoga Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, dinner with Mom on Tuesdays…well, the week flies by!

Looking back on the week I didn’t do as bad as I thought on exercise.  A hike on Tuesday, yoga on Wednesday and Saturday and Zumba on Sunday.  This morning I’m heading upstairs to the elliptical, then yoga tonight.  It’s all coming together; slowly but surely!

Here’s to another clean week!  Cheers!

[Work] Week 1 a success!

Well, the day isn’t over, but I have my cooler bag packed and dinner planned, so…

This week I’ve tried to focus mostly on the food portion of getting clean.  While I enjoyed a BRISK hike one day this week, the only other exercise has been an hour long yoga class.  I have started waking up 1/2 hour earlier than I did before and I try to get as much done the night before so I have less to think about in the morning.  It’s a work in progress.  However, most of my time is spent making sure the KIDS get a good breakfast and packing their lunch (Bethany helps).

I have been very good about eating every 2-3 hours, which is a huge help for me.  The weekend will be the true test, as that is where I have most of my “non eating” issues.  Yoga first thing Saturday morning gets me up and out the door for a 9:15 class, but I don’t generally eat before going.  Then, by the time I’m home, it’s almost time for lunch so I just wait.  I’m going to try eating something first, then a snack when I get home.  It will be a good test.  Last weekend I failed miserably 😉

Having cooked and prepped a lot on Sunday has made lunches and snacks a breeze.  Pea soup a couple of days with three bean salad or wheatberry salad, an apple and cashews or banana and peanut butter for snacks and away I went!  It is definitely worth every second on Sundays.  While I love all the meals, my favorite dish has been, by far, the Cranberry – Apple relish.  So much in fact, that I had to make a second batch last night!  I put it on my hot cereal in the morning and on my plain Greek yogurt for snack.  Add in a little of the granola that I made and the yogurt becomes the most amazing thing you’ve tasted! It took a bit to get used to the taste of honey instead of sugar, but now I really like it.  Not that I ever added a lot of sugar to my cranberry sauce; I like it tart.  I added the orange juice this time (squeezing a tangerine actually) and it’s nice.  Kevin is loving the lunch options as well!  Beth makes him a wrap when she makes hers and he grabs some chopped salad from the fridge and away he goes. He loved the Greek salad, which comes as no surprise!  Give that boy feta and black olives and he’s in his glory!

Temptations this week:

Tuesday was Jessie’s (a friend at work) birthday (yay! 25 years young!) and we celebrated with a large cookie-cake.  I skipped and didn’t mind in the least.  We have a lot of birthday celebrations at work that include cake and ice cream; I try to avoid them if possible, but as I’m not a big fan of cake, it’s usually not too hard.  Sometimes I partake but it’s rare. I was struck by another co-worker who took a piece and said “it’s really hard to diet around here!” I told him not to eat it–you don’t have to.  He shrugged and said it was just too hard not to. He had become used to eating healthy then the holidays came around. At first he felt horrible eating the “junk” food but then it was normal and now it’s hard NOT to.  It’s because of the sugar and the addiction it creates.  I think we fool ourselves into thinking we “deserve” a treat now and then, after all, we eat healthy all the time.  Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t we deserve to eat healthy? Shouldn’t we be important enough NOT to put junk into our bodies?

Yesterday morning a co-worker brought in bagels and left them in our area like he always does.  It’s sweet!  But I packed them up and sent them to the other end of the building to remove all temptation.  Out of sight, out of mind!  A few moments later I was rewarded! Another co-worker brought in a bag of clementines! Score!!  Those I kept in plain site! I had three throughout the morning (they went quick) and felt good about my choice.  And that’s what it’s really all about.  Each choice of a fruit over a bagel.  Taking the moment to eat instead of skipping it.  Each time I make a positive change I feel better!

Late yesterday afternoon we had a sales meeting off site at a local pub.  My favorite local pub mind you.  I had a lite beer but even that didn’t taste good.  For “lunch” (at 3pm) I had a rare tuna steak sandwich and it was wonderful!  While everyone else ordered a second beer I stuck with water and later a coffee.  The lunch kept me full and I didn’t eat supper, but did have a quick snack.  I don’t know if my stomach is shrinking, or if I’m just getting used to the smaller meals spread throughout the day.  While I’ve almost always had snacks at work, I never used to eat breakfast until 9 or 10.  Sometimes a snack, then a large lunch, then a granola bar if I had one, then a large dinner.  Now I am sticking with the breakfast within 1 hour of waking and eating at 2-3 hour intervals from there.  I feel so much better and I find I’m not over eating.  I don’t mind walking away from my unfinished plate when I know I can eat in a little while anyway.   I do find that I don’t eat everything I pack in my cute new cooler bag.  The snack bag of carrots I bring each day have a tendency to stay in there.  I have to remind myself to eat and to eat more than the quickest thing I find.

My successes this week:

Eating every few hours leading to smaller meals

Making the kids breakfast each morning!

Making the kids lunches each day

Hiking and doing yoga

Taking the time to prepare food for the week

Choosing water over a second beer 😉

No chocolate, candy or “treats” at all.  And not wanting any!

Drinking 2-3 cups of green tea every day. Hardly any coffee at work (1 cup here at home)

Eating Breakfast! Yay me!

Taking the first steps to meet my goals

Things to work on:

More hiking or elliptical or treadmill.  Get more active

Log my foods more consistently

Better bedtime routine so I get a full night sleep