Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mistletoe the Line

Happy Wednesday! I've broken through the jet-lagged fog of tiredness that I've been living with since getting back home last week. It's tough feeling that way because I got accustomed to (and really, really fell in love with) feeling vibrant and energetic from eating clean and moving around. I was up early with Rob feeling rested, made him fresh coffee and sent him off to work. Got the laundry started and I'm off out to get the pantry and fridge stocked. I've made two weeks of menus and shopping lists (a major stock up for today, and a fresh food touch up for next week.) I'm planning on a neighborhood walk after lunch, it's going to be a gorgeous fall day!

The BPAL.org girls and I are starting a new introPLAY fitness challenge tomorrow. By the way, if you haven't started logging your workouts on introPLAY, get to it. It's a fantastic motivator. My team finished first in the summer challenge although all my vacationing cut into my workout time and I finished in fifth place after being in the top 3 for the majority of the challenge. I will do better this time! It's called the Mistletoe the Line and will run from October 1st until December 31st. We're starting our New Year's resolutions early! We're going to keep moving to avoid the "holiday spread." I don't want to be in a food coma from Halloween to New Year's Day and undo all the great strides I've made.

Remember, the "Holiday Season" is just a marketing tool and not an excuse to eat ourselves silly and lay around until the Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers and Bally Total Fitness guilt trip starts up full force on January 2nd. Of course I'm going to partake in some festive food and drinks on certain days and will be baking cookies to share with my friends and loved ones, but I'm not using this time of year as an excuse to gorge myself and turn into a hermit. Fall is a great time for hiking and Rob and I plan on taking every advantage.

Before I head out I wanted to talk a bit about The Biggest Loser. Do you watch? I've not missed an episode since the first season but still have mixed feelings about it. 1200 calories and six hours of workouts a day has no basis in normal life but it is amazing to see the transformations. It's true, this nation needs to get moving and get the hell out of the fast food restaurants but otherwise I haven't taken away any useful advice from that show until now. One of the contestants made a rash decision based on fear and panic and Jillian was upset with her. Jillian said something to the effect of "next time, stop and think and ask yourself, "How is this choice going to help me reach my goal?" This is some really good advice. We are faced with countless decisions on a daily basis. Next time I'm mad/sad/stressed/tired and may make a less than sound nutrition or fitness decision, I will ask myself that question for sure.

Have a fantastic day and go out and get some of that fresh fall air into your lungs!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall Flavors

I do love autumn! I am originally from New England where fall isn't just a season but a state of mind, an event in and of itself. A region where once Labor Day is over, the fun really begins. Apple picking, hot cider and cider donuts, leaf-peeping in Vermont and New Hampshire and of course, Topsfield Fair.

Autumn in Georgia is a bit different. That fall chill that is so welcome after a sultry southern summer comes much later. September and even sometimes October can still feel like summer. I recall sweating like a farm animal on one warm and humid Halloween "chili" night hosted at a friend's home a few years ago. All that aside, I've learned that fall in the south can be glorious. We have later but still lovely leaf-peeping, pumpkin patches and can have the windows open long after those northerners have to turn the heat on.

With fall comes a whole slew of new ideas for nutritious and delicious eating. Seasonal eating is a wonderful way to refresh a stale eating plan. The produce changes, the flavors become richer, the colors deeper. Greens, squashes of all sorts, cranberries, fresh figs and pomegranates, the most amazing apples can add flair to weekly menus and offer relief from grill and summer salad fatigue.

I love when the giant squash bin gets wheeled out at my local grocery store. Last week I chose a really pretty sweet dumpling squash to build a weeknight meal around. Not only are winter squash fun interesting to look at and totally delectable, they have amazing health benefits. Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, fiber all wrapped in a mouthful of deliciousness.

Squash with greens and sausage is one of my favorite flavor combinations. I stuffed the squash with turkey sausage and broccoli rabe, which is a slightly bitter and richly flavored green. I cut the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and rub the flesh with a bit of evoo. Face down on a baking sheet, into a 400 degree oven and 45 minutes later the rich orange flesh is soft, sweet with a caramelized edge that is heavenly. While the squash roasts, I cook hot and mild turkey sausage (removed from the casing) in a skillet until browned, crumbled and just cooked. Remove to a bowl and add washed, cut broccoli rabe (sometimes known as rapini) to the pan with the sausage drippings and saute for a couple of minutes. Add a clove of crushed garlic and bit of white pepper. Add some chicken stock, cover and simmer for until just tender. Remove the lid, add the turkey meat and simmer until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened. Serve the mixture over the sweet, tender squash and devour.

Fall flavors played a role in last night's supper as well. Playing off the idea of Oprah's favorite turkey burger, I made an amazing turkey meat loaf. I used 93/7 ground turkey, 1.25 pounds to which I added two small granny smith apples that I diced, one heaping tablespoon of mango chutney, a teaspoon each of Montreal chicken seasoning, smoked ground chipotle, celery seed, garlic powder and half a teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper. I formed it into a loaf, "frosted" it with more chutney and baked it at 375 for 30 minutes. I served this with goat cheese mashed cauliflower (add 1/4 cup crumbled reduced fat goat cheese, a pat of light butter and white pepper to steamed fresh cauliflower and mash,) and tender-crisp steamed green beans.

Here is a nice little list courtesy of Food Network on healthy autumn eating. The Daily Green has some great tips on seasonal eating, have a look. I can't wait to delve deeper into fall flavors while I continue to improve my health and fitness and shrink my bum. How are you planning to usher fall in to your kitchen this year?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Weigh-In

I was feeling so logy this morning but made it to the gym for an hour of cardio with Lisa. Feeling much better and more alert for it, but I'm still bloated from all the carbs and cocktails while away. Unsurprisingly, I'm up 3 pounds. Not too bad considering it's mostly water and I should have that squared away after a week of eating clean and sipping fresh juice.

I'm going to be eating light and clean and being very moderate with wine now until Thanksgiving with a bit of a splurge mid/late October when Lisa and Tracy's birthdays come around. I'm also going to step up my workouts again now that vacation time is over and I'll be settling back into my normal daily routine again. I've enjoyed the fun times we've had away but I'm looking forward to an enjoyable autumn at home with my husband and visiting locally with friends.

I'll be posting some Las Vegas photos soon and will be doing a year in review post soon as it's been almost that long since I started this journey. Until then, have a safe and healthy weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

$5.40

And I'm back and I'm 40! Las Vegas was a blast, but as always, it's so good to be home. I've been food shopping with the first wave of stocking the kitchen with juice produce, snack fruits and veggies, lean protein and all the other fixings to make the nutritious and delicious foods my vacation ravaged system is craving.

Just like Cinderella's coach turning back into a pumpkin, I'm off to change over the laundry and finish unpacking. I'm waiting for a return phone call from Blake so I can set up the last of my sessions with him. I'm meeting Lisa for a workout in the morning and return to work tomorrow evening. I'll be back with the weigh-in in the morning. Until then I'll leave you with a cute story from our trip...

Over a lovely room service breakfast on my birthday Tuesday, I looked at my husband and said, "Wow, I'm 40." Rob said something back which sounded like, "$5.40!" I asked him what the heck he meant by that. He started laughing and said, "Old age has finally set in, you're going deaf, I said, FABULOUS and 40." I'm still giggling about it today.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Weigh-In

Happy Friday! Just got off the scale, was happy to see that 1.5 pounds I was gunning for this week gone. 192 pounds for a total of 85 pounds, how I love those nice round numbers!

I turn 40 on Tuesday and today I start celebrating. The girls and I are going to Douceur De France, which is a little French patisserie just off Marietta square. They do a lovely brunch and a huge cafe au lait that it so good it will bring a tear to any true coffee lover's eye. Then we're off to have mani/pedis at the Diva Spa. Rob and I head out to Las Vegas tomorrow. I'm thinking of this trip as not only to celebrate a milestone for me but also as a second honeymoon for us ("humpymoon" as my dear sister says.) I'm excited, to say the least.

Do most people dread turning 40? I'm not dreading it at all. I feel better than I have in a long time, certainly don't feel "40" whatever that's supposed to feel like. I think healthy living can defy the numbers and make for a satisfying life so bring it on!

Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What you been cookin' good?

It's been a nutritious and delicious week of dinners. I made my Thai Lettuce Cups on Monday and had them for leftovers at work on Tuesday evening. It's the easiest and tastiest weeknight meal, so light yet satisfying. If you haven't tried them yet, it's a must. Last evening was grilled veggies (green onions, portobello mushrooms, red pepper, zucchini) with grilled corn on the cob alongside a tender and tasty curry marinated London broil. I marinated it in ginger beer, mild curry paste and lemon juice and the flavor was wonderful! The leftovers will be made into sandwiches with greens, chutney, goat cheese crumbles on grilled naan bread. That's for Friday evening because I know I'm not going to want to cook the night before we travel. Tonight is a soul-soothing chicken broth with baby spinach and turkey and ricotta meatballs.

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow, as it's my annual birthday pedi/brunch with my girlfriends but not before I stop in here with the weigh-in. Until then, have a smashing Thursday!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Dr. Oz Show

Did you watch the premier yesterday? I'm a fan of Dr. Oz from watching him on Oprah and was looking forward to checking out his new show. I just finished watching the first show (I heart my DVR) and I must say that I am impressed. As you may or may not know, I don't watch much daytime TV. I do record Oprah and catch up with CNN when Rob comes home for lunch but this show is definitely worth a look.

While there was way too much information packed into the time allotted, Dr. Oz said the "magic words" during several segments. First, he talked about how unhealthy fast food is and encouraged his viewers to make better choices. BING! Second, he spoke about managing fibroids with certain foods, supplements and a healthy lifestyle rather than jumping right into having a hysterectomy. BING BING! And lastly, when an audience member wanted to know what to do about her possible anemia, he told her many of the iron-rich foods that she should add to her daily meals to improve her iron levels. BING BING BING!

Imagine, a doctor telling the masses to help themselves and their health issues by doing research and adopting a healthy lifestyle and stressing importance of PREVENTION. I love it! This is important information that everyone needs to take seriously. Of course, there are issues that require medical intervention but people, taking care of your body now can prevent having to resort to medical care in the future. This is the sort of health care reform we need in this country.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting Back To It

Happy Monday! Fake it 'til you make, right? I survived a weekend at work and while the cough still lingers, I think this nasty cold has officially taken its leave. After a week away from working out, I'm just home from the gym. I won't lie to you, it was tough dragging myself out of bed this morning to head to the gym but I was meeting Lisa and staying home was not an option. That's why I highly recommend getting a workout partner, it makes it much easier to get up and go and it makes the workout itself much more enjoyable.

Lisa and I hadn't seen each other in 3 weeks so we had lots to catch up on while having a good old sweaty, out of breath time. It's done now and I can get on with the rest of my day. I promised myself two gym workouts (meeting Lisa on Thursday), one long walk (Wednesday) and one very vigorous housecleaning project (today.) So it's going to be a good fitness week leading up to the last of our travel plans for 2009.

I have a lot on my plate today. Have a wonderful day and take good care.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Weigh-In

My first night back at work took more out of me than I had expected since fighting this crud. This morning my mind said "Walk!" But my body said, "Dragging me round Publix is going to be enough for you, Madam!" Not doing the guilt thing, I listened to my body. I must keep my eyes on the short-term prize at the moment and that's being as healthy and energetic as possible for our upcoming trip.

Ever since my very first visit to Las Vegas, for a pirate costume wedding on Halloween 2007, I've fantasized about celebrating my 40th birthday in Sin City. Here's a pic of a few of we scurvy pirate wenches on the way to the ceremony...

It was such outrageous fun. The wedding was amazing and we all had such a fabulous time. We stayed at Caesar's Palace which is just how you imagine it would be. My husband has never been and I've babbled to him on and off about it for the past two years and now I get to show him the spectacle that is "Vegas" in a little over a week. I really need to be feeling great. Have you ever been to Las Vegas? Did you love it or hate it? Where did you stay?

On to the weigh-in. I love how being on vacation tends to reset the metabolism so when I get back to eating my nutritious and delicious daily fare the body really likes it and so does the scale. I'm down 2 pounds plus the 1/2 pound I brought home from Disney. Squee! So that puts me at 193.5, a total of 83.5 pounds. I've got my buffer back and will aim for another 1.5 pounds for next Friday's weigh-in. I try not to focus solely on the numbers on the scale but it's definitely good to set small goals and then you treat your body with love and respect and you'll meet those goals.

I'm off to drag myself through Publix, I've got some lovely recipes planned for next week. I'll be sure the post anything worth trying. I still have tons of Disney pics to upload and will share a link as soon as I do. Have a fabulous Friday!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gentle Reminder and Food Chat

Woke up this morning to find some fraudulent charges to my Visa. Not the most pleasant start to the day. It could have been worse and it's being dealt with but just wanted to give you all a gentle reminder. If you don't have credit monitoring, please be sure to request your credit reports just to double check that everything is the way it should be. I know most states allow 1-2 free credit reports from all three agencies, so be sure to take advantage of that.

Now on to something more pleasant. The week has flown by in a haze of coughing, tissues and hot tea but I'm feeling so much better and will definitely be heading to work later on this afternoon. I'm going to take a nice long walk round the neighborhood tomorrow, I downloaded some new Fat 2 Fit podcasts I'm dying to listen to. I'll hit the gym for a couple of weight-training sessions next week.

So, what do you eat when you are feeling poorly and nursing yourself back to health? For me, the juicer is the absolute best medicine but I have a few favorite food items when I'm not feeling "any well" as my nephew P.J. likes to say. On my worst day this week, piping hot Trader Joe's low sodium creamy tomato soup dashed with some hot sauce sipped from my favorite Disney mug was the most soothing balm. I also had organic bananas this week. Something so comforting about that starchy, creamy sweetness coupled with all the nutritional bennies of potassium, fiber and vitamin C. Lastly, I made a roast chicken with a lightly dressed green salad the other night. It's so simple, comforting and not heavy. I ate a bit of white meat with some salad. Now about the chicken leftovers...

I hate wasting food. It's not only like throwing money away but it's also seems very disrespectful to people who don't have enough to eat. Poultry leftovers are always challenge for me but I had an inspired moment last evening and whipped the most wonderful of sick-day suppers. I gently heated the leftover roast chicken in Trader Joe's black bean soup. It's a smooth and spicy soup that I just love. I boiled up a bit of basmati rice and made a quick, fresh tomato and chive salsa with the last of the garden tomatoes. Put the rice in the bowl, ladle on the soup and chicken and top with a bit of salsa. So quick and easy and amazingly delicious. My soup loving husband was in heaven. What's your favorite way to serve up chicken leftovers?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Quickie Weigh-In

Good morning! I slept for 11 hours and though it was a bit fractured from the cough, there is nothing like sleeping in one's own bed. I wasn't going to weigh-in until Friday but I figured I should hop on the scale this morning and get an idea of how I handled being away from home for two weeks. You'll probably be a shocked as I am to find that I'm up just 1/2 a pound to 196. I'm gobsmacked. All that walking and swimming really paid off. I have to report that I never did get to have a Mickey bar.

Back to the couch with me, I feel rotten though the weigh-in did lift my spirits quite a bit. Must rest now and build up my resistance (and my buffer) as we leave for Las Vegas in 11 days. Ack!

Monday, September 7, 2009

You Are What You Eat

After depositing my sister and her family at Orlando International Airport, my husband and I safely made it back to Shady Dame early yesterday evening. Unfortunately I'm down with the crud (brought on by too many days of restaurant fare and wine, not enough good quality sleep and being away from my beloved juicer.) On our second to last day at Disney, I started getting that twinge at the back of my throat. You know the one, the one that is going to be followed by painful swallowing, burning ears and then lots of lovely gooey sinus and cough action. I'm in the cough and sinus phase this afternoon. Ugh!

Rob lovingly did the food shopping early this morning so I was able to start my day with a huge glass of freshly pressed vegetable juice with extra lemon and extra ginger. Another couple of days of that and I should be well enough to get back to the gym and work on Thursday. Until then, I'll be getting lots of rest, taking lots of juice, water and tea and enough food to keep me nourished but not weighed down. This sort of cold tends to kill my appetite anyway.

I'll be back on Friday for an official post-Disney weigh-in. I hope you are having a much better holiday Monday then I am, but I do have one hot nurse looking after me. Until then, think healthy thoughts for me and take good care of yourselves.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Greetings from the First People Trap Created by a Mouse

This is the first free minute I've had since Rob arrived, heck, it's the first free minute I've had since I arrived. I'm having a ball with my sister, the kids and the Mouse but it's very humid and ugly hot and WDW is the most un-relaxing vacation that I can think of. Despite lots of swimming, countless miles of walking and a couple of really good gym workouts I feel bloated and sluggish. We've been all over Disney's Hollywood Studio today but we're totally "parked out" and have two rest days lined up before our final day at Magic Kingdom on Saturday.

I've been doing pretty well with portion control and smart ordering as well as making sure I've had my fruit and veggies, my supplements and lots of water every single day. Disney has made a great effort at making healthy options readily available. There are veggie burgers, healthy wraps, side orders of fresh fruit and nice, fresh salads available where there used to be just burgers, hot dogs and french fries. I've indulged quite a bit with desserts and cocktails so I'm thinking the 4 pound buffer has been blown to outer space. I was up 2.5 pounds the other morning which isn't so bad for just over a week, so I'm thinking that after a few days at home with my juicer I'll be able to regroup, lose the holiday bloat before embarking on our next adventure (Las Vegas to celebrate my 40th birthday later this month.)

There are so many new things since our last visit. The new Finding Nemo musical at Animal Kingdom is so full of Disney Magic that I wept both times I watched it. Expedition Everest is so wild it made me think that I'm getting too old for thrill rides. The refurb of my beloved Spaceship Earth is fantastic and the addition of Jack Sparrow to Pirates of the Caribbean is quite well done. The new Toy Story Midway Mania 3D attraction is amazing, we rode it twice in a row and I wanted to go again but the group voted for naps BOO! The new area of Animal Kingdom Lodge called Kidani Village is absolutely beautiful. We've got a room overlooking the savanna and being able to watch the giraffes from the balcony is my favorite thing about this trip so far. They are so graceful and soothing to gaze at so I'm really happy to have the next two days to do just that. It's so cool and quiet in the room now, my sister, brother-in-law and the kids are passed out in the next room, Rob is napping and I'm going to just sit here and watch the Ankole Cattle graze through the big glass doors.

I'll be back to my routine along with regular blogging and a very scary weigh-in next week. I hope you are all doing very well, are happy and taking good care of your health. See you real soon!