Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Favorites: Summer edition...

It has been WELL (x's infinity) documented on this blog that I am NOT a fan of summer.  In years past, I've been known to close my eyes, bow my head and pray for it to speed by till my beloved FALL rolls in.  And while I'm STILL not a huge fan of walking out of my house at 7pm and the temperature still reading 96 degrees (This actually happened last night) or standing in ONE PLACE and feeling like you're doused in sweat from the 100% humidity rating (ALSO yesterday), summer & I have been changing our tune about each other.  Well, we HAVE been since Katie's 2nd summer where we realized the beach was her absolute happy place, but now I am waving the white flag for making time STOP.  The kids are just at such fun ages, I don't wish one moment away anymore (ok, ok...SOME days are still a crawl-through-barbed-wire till bedtime, let's be realJ) and have really tried to EMBRACE ALL THE SUMMER THINGS and enjoying all it's perks as much as possible.  (I sure as hell ain't hatin' on the late sunsets...a fan of pitch-dark at 6pm, I am not)  
Not that I'm not compiling with Katie's wish to still listen to the $5 Kohl's Disney Christmas CD on the near-daily....and maybe or maybe not letting it play even if she's not in the car.  But, ya know, TOTALLY embracing the restJ

And with that said, we've also been (OF COURSE) embracing all of the good summer eats.  From cool lettuce wraps to bacon-stuffed smores (WHATTT??), it's all-day-everyday seasonal around here!  So I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite recipes we've been making lately and a few more I just CAN NOT WAIT to tryJ

Favorite Burgers: (yes, plural)  Cheddar & Bacon filled burger & Cream cheese & green chili burger
Friday nights have been "summer classics" in our house since Memorial Day...where we get to have ALLTHEBURGERS&HOTDOGS and side salads in the name of summer.  I tried this tradition a few years ago and it lasted...hmmmm, 3 weeks?  This year, however, we are GETTING IT DONE (#lifegoals) and here have been 2 of our favorites thus far.  (until TONIGHT'S!  Tonight's should be EPIC!  More on that later...)

Favorite way to eat the rainbow:  Couscous Salad
A long time favorite in our house for both taste and because it's SO DARN PRETTY!  This Southwestern version is ACES too.

Katie & I have been making Popsicles almost weekly since summer began and these babies are still the favorites out of the bunch (especially when we used our fresh picked strawberries...swoon!)  We also made these with blueberries, but the strawberry tops the charts for me.  Other favorites include these Cappuccino pops (Scott's favs) and these secretly healthy fudge pops.

Favorite healthy breakfast (or snack):  Tone it Up Berry Bright Chia Pudding
This is such a coooooooool way to start the day on a hot morning.  I've made this in both strawberry (for me) and blueberry (for Scott), and we both LOVE it.  Especially while blueberries are at a SEASONAL $$ LOW right now.

Favorite TOOHOTTOCOOK:  Watermelon Caprese
This isn't rocket science, but you'll forgive me once it takes .4 seconds to make dinner and your oven stays O-F-F.  PERFECT for these dog days.

Favorite FAVORITE FAVORITE:  Lettuce wraps
Lettuce wraps.  Lettuce wraps ALL DAY.  I LOVEEEEEEEE em.  I truly do and could eat them 4-5 days a week.  They're light, usually fairly healthy and pretty quick.  MY FAVORITE right now is this chicken satay variation, which we've eaten 3 times in as many weeks.  We also LOVED this Jamaican Jerk Chicken variation.  And to keep your kitchen even cooler, throw all the ingredients for these Honey garlic chicken wraps in the slow cooker in the AM and have a full cooked meal ready by dinner time (sans stove!).

Favorite sneaky way to get healthy:  "The Life Changing Magic of the Veggie Box"
I'm trying my best to keep this as a permanent fixture in our fridge.  All it takes is under-15 minutes of prep to chop up a week's worth of veggies so you have em at your disposal all week.  I can't even tell you how many times in the last few weeks that I've snacked on veggies & hummus, PURELY because they were THERE.  And they make an awesome pack & go snack for your busy days (yes, I'm the gal in the parking lot eating veggies with hummus while going from gym to gym to teachJ)  Now is as good a time as any to customize it with ALL of your favorite summer fresh produce.  Last week we had cherry tomatoes, radishes & pea pods (which I don't even LOVE, but DID like them with hummus) and this week it's rainbow carrots, celery & pepper slices.  A little prep work always goes a long way in eating healthy.

Favorite dessert:  Dirt cake
I've had Oreo dirt cake probably less than a handful of times in my life, but that didn't stop me from DYING for it last night and then proceeding to leave my house at 7pm to get all the ingredients (hence, why I noticed it was still 96 degrees) and come home to whip this up for Katie lickity split.  She actually squealed when she tasted it and yelped "I LOVE THIS STUFF!" (#worthit)  I just bought some gummy worms to add to it tonight to really make her crack upJ  PS- This was all an experiment in my 'eat what you want when you want it,' and I definitely felt satisfied and complete with my small portion.


This has been on my list to make for a couple years and what better excuse than the OLYMPICS IN RIO for finally putting that recipe to use!  Weeeeeeeeeeee....  (I'm not excited at allJ)

Once peach season is in full swing, IT. IS. ON!  
I also want to get on board with this homemade ice cream business with this honey ricotta version for decadence & this Tone it Up Mint chip ice cream for health (that may or may not also be breakfast one dayJ)

Let me know what you guys have been LOVING cooking and, of course, ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ode to exercise...

So, since I mentioned last week that exercise has been the thing to pull me out of my funk of the last few months and FINALLY (knock on wood) has gotten me back on the path to being normal/healthy, I figured now would be as good of a time as any to mention why exercise and I have a VERY normal, healthy relationship.

When I first started adding exercise to my life 10+ years ago, my motto has always been "I could complain for a half hour about how I don't want to workout, or I could just be done in that same amount of time."  I never killed myself with HAVING to do hour long workouts, or NEEDING to do 8-mile runs a day.  Instead I try to focus on less is more.  I'd rather do 20-30 minutes a day MOST days of the week, than killing myself 1-2 days a week , DREADING starting that hour-long torture session.  I just knew that would never work for me, so I've stuck with my more manageable workouts all these years.  I also make it very manageable with my life.  When I worked full-time (and no kids), it became my near-daily ritual to get up every morning and get my workout in FIRST thing because that's when I KNEW I would fit in my workouts with no excuses.  Now my schedule is more varied, so I fit it in when I can (and at this point in my life, NO, I'm not really interested in getting up extra early.  I feel like I'm still making up lack of sleep from the kids these daysJ)  I just always try to make it where I have no excuses and it's actually DO-ABLE!
Not to mention, 95% of the time, the workout is doing something I GENUINELY enjoy doing.  I'll try ANYTHING & ANY class once, but I know the types of things that keep me coming back:  dance, yoga, pilates, walking etc.  Especially classes.  I've been on the treadmill & machines probably less than 10 times in my eight years of being a gym member, but I've gotten my membership money's worth of classes 10 times over.  You might be the opposite and hate classes, and that's totally fine too.  Although here's a class I didn't enjoy:  I took a cardio kickboxing class for about 2 months a couple years ago and while I loved the class AFTER it was over, I truly DREADED it before I went it....resulting in me quitting that class shortly thereafter.  

So my advice, in short, on exercise:  FIND WHAT YOU LIKE and DON'T DO what you DON'T like and MAKE IT MANAGEABLE.  It's hard to stick with getting up at 4am to go to the gym and workout for 2 hours a day (or, for some of you, that might work perfect).  I'm just saying, don't try to commit to something that you truly can't see as realistic in the long haul.  Ya gotta keep it simple.  Same goes with healthy eating too...find those things you TRULY enjoy and you're more likely to stick with it MUCH longerJ

The interesting factor here comes in with the fact that I've never really had ANY anxiety about exercise in all these years.  Sure, I've had days/weeks where I JUST DID NOT FEEL like working out, just like everyone else.  And sure, some days/weeks I give into that feeling.  But the key here is:  I never really beat myself up about it.  There are definitely times where I KNOW I'm being 'lazy' vs being GENUINELY tired.  And when you pass on a workout out of laziness, THAT'S when you get that 'blah' feeling.  But if you DON'T do it those times when you genuinely just DON'T want/have the energy for it, than that is OK too.  And even if there are weeks where I wasn't quite on my game, I just get right back to it, without getting frustrated or caught up in thoughts of all the 'missed workouts.'  Instead I just focus on how good I feel when I'm consistent with it and use that to carry me through to getting off the couch more and more each day.

I've been noticing a lot lately how this is a direct parallel to my eating, where I've spent MANY years obsessed, consumed and anxious over food.  I think there IS truth to the saying that 'you never regret a workout' and I'm sure that plays into the non-anxiety factor here.  But even more so, I think that because I chose early on to not really OVERdo and to make it manageable, that's why I've been able to keep it so positive.  Where as my eating tends to be up & down...thankfully it's more UP than down, but those 'down' times still make me feel COMPLETELY miserable.  As does overindulging in something and then spending time lamenting about how gross I feel and how I regret overeating, etc.  As does obsessively wanting chocolate, but telling yourself you can't have it cause you're trying to be 'good', until you finally burst and can't stop eating it...beyond even being able to taste it.

I'm wondering now, as I've been reading this book, if I turn my attention to eating what I REALLY want and NOT spending one moment bashing your body & your eating, will this help translate the MENTAL aspect of my eating to a calmer place, much like the non-anxiety I've had about exercise.  By not letting myself get on that scale and spend a week stuck on a number indicating how 'good' I've been during the week or how 'bad' I've done.  (or even MORE frustrating:  when you actually DID eat well, you get a bad number and then OBSESSIVELY try to think of what you had that made you gain.)  Could thinking of food as JUST FOOD and not 'good or bad' be a factor?  Could making a healthier choice because you know it'll make you FEEL good vs. how it will translate in pounds lost?  I'm not only at the point of wanting to ditch the scale obsession and body bashing, but also I'm EXTREMELY aware of how I FEEL when I make healthy choices vs. defaulting to any junk laying around.  As I've said before, I don't really know if I even HAD guilt regarding food until I started loosing weight.  And even then, I don't think the guilt started until after I had my big initial loss and then started to gain some back.  Maybe in all of the 'reloosing' is where all of this anxiety came in and I'm MORE than ready to pack it's bags and see it on its way

All questions I'm curious about, but infinity more than ready to start shifting my thoughts to that healthier side of the coin...where my exercise habit blessedly resideJ  It's interesting how all of the above factors seem to play off one another.  I'll be keeping you updated on the progress as I try to calm all of this crazy noise in my head.  I love being healthy & working out and I love ice cream & donuts and certainly don't want to live without eitherJ  I just want to enjoy all of them CALMLYJ

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Acceptance & allowing...

Morning, all!

So I thought I'd pop on here and give you a quick cliffs notes version of the book I have been reading and a few points that really stuck with mw.  And please note:  I'm writing these here as much as a reminder to myself as I am for you guysJ  In fact, I may consider printing these out and tattooing them to my forearmJ  

Eating what you want:  Isn't the forbidden fruit the most tempting?  It's well documented on this blog that I'm not one to order the 'sad salad' in place of the burger I REALLY want, but lately I've really been noticing to the need to 'eat what you want' in terms of how I normally structure my week.  It's always been fairly easy for me to say "OK, Monday I'm going to do well and I'll do well the rest of the week and the weekend is up for grabs."  Now the Monday-Friday (afternoon) eating healthy plan is a good one and it keeps me on track for the most part.  The problem here lies in feeling like my brain automatically switches to 'junk' mode once the weekend is here, even if I don't REALLY want it.  Suddenly come Saturday night, I'll NEED ice cream.  Not cause I really even want it (OK, 65% of the time I really DOJ), but 'because it's Saturday and it's my days to indulge.'  Or what about on Tuesday night when I'm DYING for ice cream...but NO, I have to hold off till the weekend!  Ya know where that leads??  To wanting that ice cream even MORE and probably eating a bunch of other stuff in between to try to fulfill that craving till I can have my ice cream.  And it's a good chance that, by that point of eating alltheotherthings while trying to fulfill the craving, it's not even as appealing anymore.  Grant it, it CAN be beneficial to wait for something...but for someone like me, it only leads to more cravings and more grasps for food I really don't want in the name of 'waiting till Saturday to indulge.'
And in the same vein, I also struggle on those weeks where I can't FULLY get back on track and have a little bit of an 'off' (not perfect eating) Monday, leading to a not great Tuesday, which leads to 'well, this week is shot.  Might as well just eat what I want until Monday and I'll start over.'  Instead, I want to try to REALLY observe what I want meal-to-meal and notice if I want to indulge or I want to eat healthy.  Wednesday night, Katie & I hit up the 7-11 for some of those great treats from the freezer case (hello, Choco-Taco!).  Last night we went to the same convenience store...and I had no desire for anything.  By 'allowing' myself to have that ice cream on Wednesday, I had NO desires for dessert on Thursday.  Definitely worth noticing.  It's teaching yourself that you can have ANYTHING you want at ANY time, so when you DON'T really want it, don't just have it just because it's there or it's 'your time to indulge.'

Which leads to tip #2:

Ditching the scale:  Again, I could go on and on about this one.  I DO love the accountability and 'goal setting' that is involved in weighing yourself on a weekly basis.  What I DON'T love is the up & down emotions it causes in my brain.  In the same vein of 'eating what you want,' I've also spent YEARS 'eating for the scale.'  And what I mean by that is 'I'm gonna eat a salad tonight because I weigh-in tomorrow, but after the weigh-in I'm going to have pasta.'  Not because I really WANT the pasta at that moment, but because it's 'my night to have it.'  Can you notice how REALLY tired I am with assigning food to different nights and times??
The other problem with the scale is when it's good, it CAN be extremely motivating.  Especially that 1st week you're trying to lose weight and do, you feel on top of the world.  The 2nd week usually goes pretty well too.  But by that 3rd week?  Not only is that typically a week where you either can gain a little or stay the same (can ya tell I have a bit of a history with this??), but it's also the week I tend to start WHITE KNUCKELING, trying to hold onto that weight loss and OVERthinking every bite.  Even knowing this, I try to brush it off and keep moving forward.  But inevitably, it gets to me.  Especially if ya skipped dessert, had the salad and worked out even though you were exhausted all in the name of a good number on the scale.  So what do you think you're going to do if the scale doesn't reciprocate and show all of that work?  If you're anything like me, you're going to try to brush it off all while being PISSED AS HELL and starting the cycle of "I did ALL that work!  Why do I even bother???"
I've had some really GREAT scale moments, but I've definitely had my share that just have GOTTEN to me and really kinda screwed me up for DAYS.  So right at this moment, I'm trying to BAN the scale to a once-a-month 'check-in.'  I've been SOTEMPTED, especially since I've been feeling pretty lean these days with my added cardio (which has led to eating well), but I KNOW if that number isn't quite what I'm hoping for (aka-50 pounds down in 3 days...not overly hopeful, right??J), I'm going to have in burned in the back of my brain.  I really think these first two tips are going to play off each other and I'll keep you updated on how they play out.

Accepting where you are RIGHT NOW:  This one's importance DEFINETLY became evident after seeing what I went through with the dance recital.  That I spent nearly the full 'school year' in a PANIC over what I was going to look like on stage.  Yet, the moment I said 'it is what it is at this point, it's not going to change overnight' was when I finally felt the weight of all of that pressure lifted off my shoulders.  Instead of coming from a place of beating myself up and berating myself for 'how can you eat that when you have to dance next to all those skinny women'??, I started coming from a place of acceptance.  And, according to the book, stopping any and all of those negative comments we continuously run in our minds is the way we start to treat ourselves with LOVE vs. punishment.  My lunch yesterday was veggies and hummus because I knew my body would LOVE that, not because I HAD TO HAVE IT BECAUSE I NEEDED TO BE SKINNY.  Isn't it always better to live in the moment vs. living in the past of either "I used to be skinny' or 'look how much damage I've done to myself.' OR, worse yet, WAITING to live in the future 'when I'll be skinny.'  It all seems so silly when you type it 'out loud' vs. allowing ourselves to live in that space in our head.  I, for one, am VERY ready to start running those positive thoughts through my head vs. the constant negative berrating.  And here's another little secret:  All those things you point out in the mirror that you despise and how you hide because you're so worried about what 'everyone else thinks'- I'm betting 95% of the time 'everyone else' doesn't even notices all of those things you're so embarrased of.  My stomach and thigh area is one part of my body that gets to me a lot of the time.  But ya know what?  That part of my body also gave me 2 healthy children.  And those thighs are strong enough that I'm so fortunate to be able to jump & dance around for exercise.  So what the hell do I care if my neighbor at the beach thinks I have a stomach roll in my swimsuit??  I've worried about it a zillion times over and I'm definetly ready to STOP caringJ

So...there ya go.  My tips for you AND ME todayJ  Hope they help give you a couple new outlooks as we head into the weekend.  Comment below or let me know what you think.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A picture of today...

Hey, hey...look who's back from the void.

Confession time:  I have had SUCH a hard time pulling myself together the last month.  After my posts about the struggle and my HOPEFUL post that I was pulling it around, it's been quite a struggle again since.  My weeks have mostly been doing really great for 5-6 days and then come Sunday, I'd find myself elbow deep in chocolate and chips and crying on the couch by 9pm.  There's one thing to indulge and another thing to just stuff your face with a bunch of things you don't really want, but you just feel the overwhelming NEED to have them.  And as much as I tried to brush off these 'rough days' and move on, the repetition of them was really getting to me.  It's like I've been trying to dig out of a hole and just when I felt like I would start to get some traction to get myself out of this bad cycle, I'd fall to the bottom again and have to start climbing, all while feeling terribly defeated (and pretty gross from all that junk eating)

And on top of that frustration...I've wanted this blog to be a place where I document my struggles as much as my 'successes.'  But to be quite honest, I couldn't even formulate sentence for a post this entire time.  My food OBSESSION reared it's ugly head again...making it difficult to think about anything BUT food and/or the self loathing that comes with all of the overindulging and bad choices. Even my once-a-week balance recap just seemed like too much 'food focus' (even though we've had some REALLY great healthy recipes the last month!  Some favorites include Asian lettuce wrap salads20 minute chicken satay and mini Mediterranean turkey meatloaves)  I still find myself struggling with the balance of ENJOYING food without letting it become TOO much.  It's even MORE frustrating when I feel like I've gotten a lot of elements of it under control, only to tumble backwards.  It made it feel a zillion % worse BECAUSE I had been doing so well. 

I think the added anxiety of having to perform on a stage again (IN PUBLIC!) with my adult tap class, really brought up all of my 'grade school' nervousness of feeling like the self-conscious one in the group.  So OF COURSE, with that I really wanted to try to lose weight before hitting the stage, but instead ended up self-sabotaging myself at every turn.  The pressure I put myself to lose weight, coupled with the comparison of how I would look next to all the other ladies in my class didn't lead me to determination and willpower.  It lead to anxiety, which looped right back into overeating, feeling lousy and then overeating some more.

And ya know what happened the day of the recital?  

As the weekend approached, I realized I wasn't going to just drop the hoped for 40 pounds, and then completely shifted my focus to saying 'well, it is what it is so I might as well just enjoy it.'  And I did.  And I had a blast.  My preoccupation with my weight was far from my thoughts and I just had fun and danced.  
And I even made a mental note that I felt like I was going to have an easier time trying to eat well again, once the PRESSURE of 'needing' to lose weight was released.  And ya know what?  It has been.  It's crazy how much we can psych ourselves out sometimes.

So here's where I am now:  Last Tuesday, I felt as gross and low as you could get.  COULD NOT even think about how I was going to get out of this place, feeling gross both mentally AND physically.  And once I realized I have been TEACHING a bunch of yoga classes (27 in June!), but not really DOING much yoga, I decided (thanks to Scott for watching the kidsJ) to get up and GET MOVIN!  Now that the recital is over and my foot has been feeling better, I've wanted to get my cardio back into the picture, so I popped my ear buds in and got to dancin.  And by the time I was done, I felt a zillion times better.  Doing it the next day?  Even better.  So now I've been working on adding ACTUAL exercise (NOT JUST TEACHINGJ) back into nearly every day.  (I've never really had much 'mental' issues with exercise, and I definitely have a post regarding that coming up soon)  But the exercise has not only made me feel physically better, but has helped my mental game A TON.

And on the food front, I've been reading this book from the library...
A friend of mine had recommended it to me, as she has VERY SUCCESSFULLY overcome overeating.  It has a lot of interesting advice, and at the forefront is to STOP DIETING.  I've very rarely followed a traditional 'diet' in all of my years of healthy eating.  But I HAVE looked at food as 'good' vs. 'forbidden' and still struggle with this.  I've definitely been shifting my focus to eating not for weight loss, but for HEALTH'S SAKE this year, but still struggle with not feeling guilty with the 'bad' food.  (and again-there IS a difference between enjoying a splurge vs. starting to eat chocolate and not stopping until you hate yourself, even though you barely tasted it)  Also:  THE SCALE.  I could probably write a whole blog solely on the mental havoc the scale causes my brain (and I NEED to write a post soon), but let's just say I'm trying to ban it nearly COMPLETELY because it is doing me ZERO favors.  It just makes weight loss get in my head too much and we severely need an overdue break up. as usual, this is way too long, but I just needed to get on here and type it out.  As always, I just wanted to share that I'm the journey just like all of you!  Hope you have a great day.

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