Sunday, January 31, 2010

Give of yourself

Here's my tip for the week:  If you want to lose weight, give of yourself. 

I've been sitting here for the last few minutes trying to expand on this, but it's really so simple that it's hard to say more on.  Still, I guess I'll try.  When you give of yourself to others in some way--making a phone call to check in with a friend, taking treats to a neighbor, preparing a Sunday school lesson, preparing a meal for your family, folding the laundry for your family, cleaning your house for your family and guests to enjoy--you feel better about yourself, you feel happy, you feel motivated, it brings the Spirit, in most cases it gets you up and moving around, and in all cases it gives Heavenly Father just one more reason to bless you in whatever righteous goals you may be working towards.  If you think all this is bogus, then I challenge you to give it a try and let us know how it goes.  The numbers on the scale may not go down, but as we all know, we can improve and work toward our goals in many ways. 


This week I ask all of our readers to try this at least once during the week and report back to us in the comments next Sunday.  

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone!
And a wonderful week of giving!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kathy: Week 5

Wow, it's hard to believe that it's already week 5!
Current Weight: 148
Last Week's Weight: 148
Total Weight Loss: 3 pounds...still...same as last week...

And now...on to the pictures!

Here we are back at Week 1:


















And here are the photos from this morning!


Yes, I am starting to really see a difference! 

And I feel different, too. My pants aren't so tight. My arms don't feel so flabby. 
Yesterday I went into Curves for a weigh-and- measure, because I'm starting the "60-Day Challenge" - and my upper arm was 3/4" smaller than it was on January 9! 

Now, before we go any further this week, I have to tell you about a hilarious headline I saw on a magazine cover at the grocery checkout last Saturday: 
"Drop 12 Pounds Every Week!"  
(Ha ha ha!!)

This was on the cover of a magazine called First For Women. I've picked it up a couple of times, and it's something like a cross between a tabloid and Prevention magazine. Some of the information is correct, at least some of the time, but the writing in this magazine makes it seem like all of it is true all of the time!

Wouldn't it be tempting? To do some magic trick and drop down to goal weight in just 2 or 3 or 4 weeks? Ta da! But no, it doesn't work that way. In spite of how we love to exaggerate, we don't lose (OR gain!) 12 pounds every week. Even if we could, it would be waaaay unhealthy.

The claim in this week is based on the assumption that all women, especially women over 40, have some sensitivity to, or even an intolerance of, gluten. (Marae, I hope you'll add some thoughts, based on your adventures of eating a gluten-free diet, in a comment here or in your next post.)

But 12 pounds every week??
I don't think so.

I did some looking online, and I did find information for women who truly have gluten-intolerance symptoms (chronic diarrhea, abdominal bloating and pain, weight loss or gain, foul-smelling stool, seizures, dental enamel defects, edema, anemia, fatigue, a painful skin rash, headaches, inability to concentrate, and premature osteoporosis).

Whew! That's quite a list! From the websites I looked at, there were several women who said that going on a gluten-free diet DID help them lose weight, but they definitely had some of the symptoms listed above.  

The article had some great ideas--such as substituting a corn tortilla for bread in a sandwich--but the corn tortilla would have fewer calories than bread anyway, right? So if we all started eating corn tortillas, and cut out the gluten-filled bread, we might lose some weight...but would it be due to cutting out gluten, or would it simply mean we were eating fewer calories? (Marae, help us out, please!)

The bottom line:
It seems that no matter what "gimmick" gets touted for a miracle weight-loss solution, it always comes back to the basics:
1. Eat healthy foods, and eat fewer calories than you need to maintain weight
2. Get more exercise

How much food is too much? How much exercise is enough?
Maybe you can just be sensible and reach or maintain your ideal weight, but I need a little help. These are two good websites to check out!


Ok, enough of all that! 
Here is that wonderful shrimp recipe I promised:


Cioppino Seafood en Papillote  (no, I have no idea how to pronounce that...we call it)
Shrimp Foil Dinners


Oven: 400 degrees     Makes: 4 servings


8 ounces fresh or frozen large shrimp in shells
8 ounces fresh or frozen sea scallops or 10 ounces fresh or frozen halibut steaks
(If desired, use 1 pound shrimp and omit the scallops or halibut...that's what we do.)
2 medium roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced (1/2 teaspoon minced)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces


1. Thaw shrimp and scallops or halibut, if frozen. Pell and devein shrimp. Halve any large scallops or skin, bone, and cut halibut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
2. Cut four 12-inch squares of parchment paper or foil. Fold each square in half to form a triangle. Open each triangle to lie flat. (I use aluminum foil instead of parchment - I can't get a tight seal with the parchment.)


3. In a large bowl combine tomatoes, lemon juice, basil, thyme, oil, garlic, salt, and turmeric. Add shrimp, scallops, zucchini, and green onions; toss to coat. Divide mixture among parchment or foil triangles, spooning it onto center of one side of each triangle. Fold paper or foil over mixture. To seal packets, fold each of the open sides over 1/2 inch, then fold over 1/2 inch again.






4. Place packets on a very large backing sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until shrimp and scallops are opaque or halibut flakes easily when tested with a fork. (To test, carefully open the packets and peek.)


Nutrition facts per serving: 141 cal., 3 g total fat (0 g sat. fat) 105 mg. chol., 305 mg. sodium, 6 g carbo., 1 g fiber, 22 g pro.


And to close today, here's a photo from an early-morning walk I went on with my sweet husband. 


We walked down by the Willamette River, in a new walking park that Oregon City has installed. We headed for a McDonald's restaurant for a "breakfast date" - I ate an Egg McMuffin with milk and a banana I smuggled in from home, and then we walked back to our car. About a mile and a half in all in a light rain and beautiful views of the river!


Happy Saturday everyone! Keep eating healthy foods, get some exercise, and find joy in your lives! See you next week!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Frugal Food Friday: Non-fat Creamed Soup Mix Substitute

Well, it's still Friday...for a couple more hours anyway.  I'm a bit late getting my post up.  Substitute teaching, going to bed late, and cooking up a daily felt-food post on my Helping Little Hands blog had me pretty tired last night.  Here we go now, though...
This is one of my favorite cheap meal tricks...and it's healthy too!  It solves a couple problems at our house.  First there are a few recipes we love that call for Cream of (fill in the blank) Soup.  If you've ever checked out the stats on creamed soup, you know it's loaded with fat, and runs you at least $1 for the generic brand.  There are low-fat versions of them, but then you usually have to buy name brand soup, which is more expensive, often as much as $2 or more.  We also have a problem at our house that we need dried milk in our emergency food storage, but its shelf life is relatively short (about 3 years).  This means it needs to be rotated frequently...but we really don't like to drink reconstituted powdered milk.  It wouldn't be bad in an emergency, but I prefer the fresh stuff in general.

Then enter this recipe into our lives to solve both our problems.  It can take the place of  Cream of _______ Soup in almost any recipe and is a way to use up that powdered milk.  (Also be sure to check out Dorothy's idea for using powdered milk with veggies.)  It most frequently appears in Tuna Casserole (Tuna Runa Castle) at our house.

Cream Soup Mix
Taken from Quick and Healthy by Brenda Ponichtera, Pg. 70

To make Mix:
Combine:
2 cups nonfat dry milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp dried onion
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon
(Also calls for 1 tsp dried basil and 1 tsp dried thyme, but I prefer it without.)

Mix well and store in dry place.

To Use Mix:

Stovetop:
In saucepan combine 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 1/4 cups cold water. Stir over low heat until thickened.

Microwave:
In glass measuring cup, combine 1/3 cup soup mix with 1 1/4 cups cold water. Heat on high for 4-5 minutes, stirring several times, until mixture thickens.  (Keep an eye on it so it doesn't boil out of your container.

Note: I usually use the microwave option and add little bit more mix to make it thicker.  It also has suggestions like adding a mushrooms if you want it to be cream of mushroom soup and so forth, but I usually just leave it plain and add some extra veggies to the recipe.  For instance, when I make tuna casserole, we often add broccoli to the water when we're cooking the noodles and add a can of corn to increase the amount of veggies.

One last note:  I highly recommend the cookbook this came from.  The recipe ideas in it are super practical and they're all healthy.  It's written by dietician, and I believe she's from the northwest.  I've also heard she has a second cookbook out, but I haven't gotten my hands on it yet.  Of course I'd double check all this and link you to it...but I need to get my felt food post out still too!  I'll add the nutrition facts for your you tomorrow, because I believe they're included in the cookbook.

One last, last note:  I doubled the recipe when I made this batch today and it fit pretty much perfectly in a 6 cup rubbermaid container for storage.  You'll want to keep this in an airtight container so it doesn't pick up moisture and get clumpy.

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tip of the Week...EAT!

 Okay so here is my tip of the week...you need to eat!  Not just anything, but meals.  I can't tell you how many times I have decided to "cut back" and then eaten nothing more than an apple or celery or even a bowl of cereal for all of my meals.  You know how long that lasts?  About two days...three tops.  While intentions may be good to just snack instead of having big, heavy meals, I can promise it just won't last...even if they are healthy snacks!

I am proud that this blog has been about healthy weight-loss...no crazy food phases like I have encountered in the past. (Not always to lose weight...I am just kind of a weird eater in general!)  But I think it is important to stress that in order for your weight-loss goals to be realized AND maintained, you must change your habits for good.  So try some of these on for size...

Set the table for each meal.  Marae mentioned this in her post earlier this week- you need to train your mind to think it is mealtime when you eat.  Not only is it a great time to focus bodies on what it is ingesting, but it is a good time to get acquainted with family and friends.  So sit up to the table and kiss Gilmore Girls reruns goodbye!

We eat all of the time...in front of the tv, while talking to friends, when we are procrastinating something, etc.  It is easy to understand that our mind may get confused and use food as a way to comfort us or give us something to do when we are bored.  Instead take the time to make each time you consume food a message to your brain that says "we are eating to help our body be healthy- nothing else."  Set the table, turn off the tv, eat pre-measured portions and wait to see if you are still hungry before grabbing for more.

One trick I like to do is dish up one serving of whatever I am having and put the other portion away.  Then I enjoy my food and try to eat slowly (this one is super hard for me).  I make sure that I drink a whole big glass of water with my meal.  If I am finished with my food and am still hungry for more, I drink another glass of water and wait 15 minutes.  Then if I am still hungry, I dish up no more than half of my original portion and dig in...this rarely happens.
  
No one can tell you how many meals you need or what time they should be at, however I will tell you that you do need to eat real meals.  Not a baked potato and and an apple.  Not a bowl of cold cereal.  A real meal with a source of protein and a fruit and veggie and a big glass of water.  So don't feel guilty to eat just because you are "on a diet"...just eat the right things in the right ways and you will be better off for a lifetime!

Walking in Circles: Weather or Not


Are we going walking today? Here are our rules:

Sunshine? Rejoice!
Clouds? Great!
Cold? Add a scarf and gloves.
Wind? Zip up and fasten your hat securely.
Rain? Get used to it.
Wind AND rain? Think twice about it.
Snow? I don't think so.
Ice? Forget it.

We live and walk our daily circles in the Pacific Northwest. We rarely have snow or ice, and temperatures below 25-30 degrees is uncommon. Having experienced a scary slip or two through the years, we have ruled out walking in the snow and ice for safety reasons, and we have also been known to skip the rainy, windy days because it's too difficult to hold onto our umbrellas!

What? You thought Oregonians didn't use umbrellas? (That's a joke out here...) Well, some of us do! We've experimented with the different types of wet weather wear, and always go back to our favorite umbrellas when it is raining. The long rain ponchos and jacket/pants ensembles that repel the water are just awkward to wear when you're walking fast. Kind of feels like treading water while walking down the street. And then all that rain runs down the clothing and into our shoes! Not really fun.

It does rain a lot here, so we have learned to simply get used to it. We carry our umbrellas and use them whenever needed. There have been a few times that, even WITH our umbrellas, we have gotten so wet that when we got back to our own homes we had to strip down before walking through the house! (Checking first to see if anyone else is at home...)! We laugh about those days, knowing it doesn't happen that way very often. Here's a little known secret about where I live:

For all the rain that we get in this part of the country, there's something magical about the hour between 7 and 8 AM. Many are the nights when I have listened to the rain pounding on the roof and anticipated a WET walk in the morning, only to have it stop just before I go out the door. Or we'll have a great walk under cloudy skies and then just AS SOON AS we get back inside, it pours! Sometimes we can hardly believe it ourselves, but we are very, very glad it happens that way!

In looking for images on the Internet to use with this post, I found some very cute umbrellas that I would love to carry around. Wow! They're Flowers!











Recipe for a Milkshake


Yesterday several comments to Marae's post referred to the Chocolate Milkshakes I used to make for my children. Get ready to laugh or squirm, because here's the sneaky mom recipe:

1. Open a can of peas and carrots and dump it in the blender.
2. Add milk. Or water and powdered milk. Add extra powder for more nutrition.
3. Stir in enough Nestle's Quick to make it look chocolaty. (or a generic brand)
4. Blend. Thoroughly. As in Liquify! The mixture should be thick and frothy.
5. Make sure the kids don't see you do this. :)
6. Pour into tall glasses, add a straw, and smile as they slurp it down happily.

I started making these when my first couple of children were toddlers and continued through the years with the addition of three more kids. They all loved it. When my oldest was in her mid teens she finally demanded to know how I made them.... and then never wanted it again! (The others, however, enjoyed the portion she didn't take.) How did they taste? I have no idea. Honest. I NEVER tasted it. :)

This “recipe” has been laughed about at many of our family gatherings, and my children's spouses shudder when they hear the story. But if they ever get desperate enough....who knows what might happen in their kitchen someday?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hungry Girl



My friend Alyssa sent me an e-mail today with some great info.  She said she had seen on here that I'm going to The Cheesecake Factory later this week (Woot wooooot!  So excited.) and that I'm trying to do my homework so I can order something healthy.  Well, it just so happens that Alyssa received an e-mail today from Hungry Girl with some great menu info for The Cheesecake Factory that includes nutritional facts.  (Or you can download the info HERE.)  If you go to the first link you can sign up to get Hungry Girl e-mails and be cool too.  Thanks Alyssa!

One more word about Hungry Girl.  I get the Hungry Girl yogurts because they're only 4oz.  Which is really as much yogurt as I ever actually want in one sitting.  So it's great for not over eating just for the sake of "finishing what's on your plate."  

Also, as you all know, my walking buddy's daughter was sick most of last week.  She's doing much better now, thank goodness!  Anyway, while Sarah was at home with her little girl last week, the big O and I went on walks just the two of us some days.  One day in particular I took the camera with me and decided to just go on a long meandering kind of walk and take pictures as I went.  You can see the pictures and a bit of my thoughts here on my regular blog.  Let me just say that if you're getting tired of exercising and just want to take a break one day, going on a "picture walk" is a great idea.  I found it to be very relaxing... and I still got my exercise in for the day!  Just try it.  You might like it.*

*"Just try it.  You might like it."  That's what Alex always says.  Not in her posts or anything.  Just to me.

mind games

Katie's post about her oversized bowls and plates got me thinking. She mentioned that Bryan, in all of his not-concerned-about-weight manhood, likes to use small bowls because it makes him feel like he's eating more. Which made me realize that it's something that we all do, in our way.

When I was in high school, I would rush home after track practice, change my clothes, and be out the door and on the way to work in 1.5 minutes. I worked at a drive-in diner, and usually ate dinner there. I would buy the cheapest thing on the menu (a kid's burger), plus an extra hamburger patty. With my discount, it was $.60. I would load each side of the bun with ketchup and pickles, add a patty to each bun, then top with lots of lettuce and tomatoes. And in my mind I was eating two hamburgers. Whether I ended up starving at the end of my shift or not, I never felt like I needed to buy anything because I had had two burgers for dinner. I could wait until I got home, where I could eat something healthy (and free).

I guess my point is that we have all formed these ideas or been conditioned to think a certain way, and we should pay attention to the way we see things and use it to our advantage. While part of eating is simply about hunger, there are definitely other cues and beliefs that we try to satisfy. Sometimes, if we're not totally in tune with our body's hunger signals, we use other cues almost entirely to know when we "should" be done. See if you can figure out the way they work for you, and what you can do to change the way you respond to them. Here are a few to start with.

1. Use smaller plates and bowls. Also, use a tall, thin glass for drinks other than water. Even if it was proven in 2nd grade science that the short, wide one contains more (so we should be able to fill it halfway and know that it's the same amount), we still believe we're getting more in the tall one. It's full!



2. Make your meal look like a feast. Turn your sandwich into two open-faced sandwiches. Chop the chicken that tops your salad in smaller pieces. Smaller cheese shreds. Add a huge salad, fruit, and other low calorie foods to make your meals bigger (and healthier). Have you ever heard of the book Volumetrics? The idea is to exchange your teeny-tiny, calorie-dense foods for healthy foods that are less calorie dense but even more exciting. This book has some great ideas (and I see it at libraries a lot).

3. Check your environment. Music playing during meals? Fast music = eat faster, slow music = eat slower. Restaurants use this to their advantage, and you can use it to yours. Better yet, turn it off and devote all attention to the deliciousness of your food. Lighting affects the way you eat, too. People who are inhibited when eating around other people are shown to eat considerably larger amounts when the lights are dim. Even if you're not inhibited, it's easy to eat a whole box of candy and a bucket of popcorn at the movies when you're blissfully ignorant of how much you've eaten.

4. Make every meal a real meal. Understandably, sometimes we're hungry on the go. That's where small snacks come in. When eating a meal, though, let it live up to its name. Put all of your food on a plate, sit down at the table, say a blessing, and eat. Don't bring the casserole dish to the table--serve then put it away. When you're done, don't open all of the cupboards to see what else there is, grabbing two crackers here and a handful of nuts there (I might be the grazing queen of the world and very bad at this...).

5. If you're eating out of a box or bag, keep track of how much you're eating. This is good if you're keeping a food journal, and also good for knowing when to stop. I'd probably think "okay, that's good for now" after counting 20 almonds, while I might eat 50 if eating mindlessly. Also, don't let just one bite turn into i have no idea and really don't want to know how much i just ate. Dish up or measure out a portion. Even if it's just a bite of one.

6. Ask yourself, "Why do I want this food in my body?" and act accordingly. Hungry? Eat. Food looks good? Wait until you're hungry. Want a good taste in your mouth? Chew gum. Bored? Find something to do. And chew gum. Need a distraction from your emotions? Go for a walk, talk to somebody, read...but eating isn't the thing to do.

7. Let fullness register (those 20 minutes it takes to realize we're full). Eat slowly, chewing and chewing. When we do this, food tastes better and is more easily digested. And, there's much less of the it's over already? disappointment.

What do you think? Have you recognized any mind games that affect the way that you eat or think about food? While these seven ideas are all things that I've heard or read over and over, I still find myself conveniently forgetting, or falling back into the way I seem to be programmed.
And while part of me was thinking that it's sort of naughty to be tricking ourselves into eating less, I realized that it's really a matter of battling how we're already being tricked into eating more...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Katie: Week 5

Welcome to week #5!

Current weight: 158 pounds
Last week's weight: 160 pounds
Total weight loss: 12 pounds


Yay!  Two pounds gone!  And good riddance!

Pictures: Week 5
Please excuse my totally weirdo hair.  We took these pictures literally minutes after I got up this morning before Bryan left for class.

Pictures:  Week 3

Week 1:



Okay, I won't always include every single gross picture of myself, but as soon as I put up the pictures from this week I found myself comparing the changes between all three sets of pictures.  So in case you want to do the same I thought I'd save you the trouble of having to look up an old post.  Anyway, let me know what you think.  If you think this is worth your time, then maybe when I post pictures I'll post the current week, the previous week, and the first week.  Or maybe that's what I'll do despite what you say.  Haha.

Anyway, I really can notice the difference this week.  Mostly I think it's encouraging to see all those wrinkles in my t-shirt where there used to be none.  That means my body isn't taking up so much room!  Yay!


Now on to the recap of my rules.  Sorry if this bores you.  I've thought a lot about skipping it, but it helps me remember my goals each week, assess how I did during the past week, and set my bearings for the week to come.  But please don't think I'm under the illusion that this is an exciting literary work.


My rules:
1. No Sweets!
Absolutely NO sugar sweets/junk/desserts/candy/etc. for three months (i.e. until April 1, 2010).  At that point I'll reassess and see if I can allow myself small things here and there or if I need to keep up the no sweets rule.  I will allow myself the occasional healthy dessert, but it will count as a processed snack (see below).

I've been holding strong.  Although my lovely sister-in-law Lisa (the triathlon woman) is taking us out to eat at The Cheesecake Factory this weekend.  And I really really really want cheesecake.  I still need to do my homework, but I've decided that if they have a fat free or sugar free option then I'm going to have one and count it as a snack instead of a sweet.  Just go with me on this one.


2. No Fast Food!
No fast food or eating out.  Period.  And if on the off chance I'm stranded somewhere or something and I have to get fast food I will order the healthiest thing.

Check.  And I will do my homework on The Cheesecake Factory.  Lisa said they even have a healthy options menu and that their salads are really good.  So I think I'll be okay.

3. Healthy Meals and Snacks!
Eat three healthy meals each day along with 2-4 healthy snacks, with no more than one processed snack (100 calorie packs, etc.) per day. 

This is also going well.  And I'd like to add some good news here: my appetite is getting smaller!  I feel like I'm eating hardly anything compared to the amount of food I was eating before.  In fact, it's pretty disgusting to think about.  


4. Fresh Foods!
Trade out cravings/impulses to eat granola bars and other processed snacks with fresh fruits and veggies.

I am now officially a carrot juice lover.  I would drink more than one cup a day if it weren't so expensive.



5. Keep Track!
Write down everything I eat in my food journal (a little notebook I can carry around and keep with me).

Wrote it all down.

 

6. Exercise 30 Minutes!
Exercise in some way for at least 30 minutes every day and write down what I did to exercise in my food journal.

Okay, well I'll start off by admitting that I only did Tighter Assets two times this week (my goal was 3 times), but I'm over it.  I'll try to shoot for 3 again this week.  I was going to do it last night, but I didn't get home until around 10:00pm and I decided I needed to be realistic and just go to bed.  So I counted my time walking around Target with Sarah as my 30 minutes of exercise and went to bed.  Fair enough, I say.  (By the way, there are some really amazing clearance sales on kids clothes at Target right now.  Pants for $1.00!  The big O will likely not need anymore pants until she's in 6T.)
 

7. Drink 80 Fluid Ounces!
Drink at least 80 fluid ounces of water every day and write down how much I drank in my food journal.

I was over 2 days this week, and under 5 days this week.  And the days I was under I was usually only about half way to my goal.  Eeek!  I will definitely be striving to do better in this area this week.

 

8. Balance Food Intake!
Enter the foods I eat each day into the Menu Planner on MyPyramid in order to make sure I'm getting a good balance of the foods I need.

I did sort of put off doing the whole assessment thing this week for a couple of days, but I caught up and it's all okay.  I'll try not to do that again this week.

 

9. Stay Active!
No sitting at the computer/TV for more than an hour (or one movie) at a time.

Again, no real problems here.  


10. Get out!
Get out of the house at least once a day!

Did it!


Well, I feel like I'm making progress and seeing results.  I feel happy and healthy and pleased.  How are all of you doing with your goals?  I really would like to know.  Oh, and thanks to all of you who shared your inspiring thoughts this past Sunday.  I really loved reading them all.  They made me smile and I was feeling much less 63 by the end of the day.  Thanks for all your support and encouragement!  You guys rock!

Have a great week!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I can tri!



Hello all you bloggins out there. I'm Lisa. And I am currently training for a triathlon. And I use the term "training" pretty loosely. Two years ago, I did my first triathlon. And then I did a couple more. Now granted these were "sprint" triathlons (350 - 800 meter swims, 11-15 miles biking, and 3.2 miles running) not even close to an Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. !!) I find triathlons to be just challenging enough to make you want to cry a little but fun enough to want to do another one someday! They are like little American Gladiators with lots of fun obstacles.



The Problem: I am so tired at nights (I work and am in graduate school) that it's hard to be motivated to go to the gym. And, like Katie, I sweat a lot, so I have to consciously think about what else am I doing that night, do I need to shower again? Time consuming. And I'm usually up late at night researching or reading for school, so waking up early to go to the gym is hard as well.



A few solutions I've come up with: Look for exercise options everywhere. I park far away from my work building and take the stairs to the third floor. I have been trying to walk to a colleagues desk instead of emailing or calling. If I'm going to be working at my desk for awhile, I'll stand up and work. If I have a book or article to read for school, I'll take it to the gym and walk on the track or treadmill (except I have tripped a couple times...watch out for that...)



So. This week, I will focus more on looking for exercise options everywhere!

Welcome Taylor

On Thursday we welcomed the newest member of the family into our house.  Please meet...


Taylor!

I bought this nice digital scale last Thursday and I love it.  The scale we had before was an old school dial scale.  You know, the kind that has little line markings that are hard to read and then when you bend down to get a closer look the dial changes?  Yeah, not so great.  Digital scales is easy.  Anyway, this one came from Costco and was on sale, so I got it for $15.00.  Not bad!  Sadly, I think the sale ended on the 24th, but they're only $25.00 at regular price which is still comparatively pretty cheap.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Inspire me, please



I found something during the week that I could share, but at the moment I'm just not feeling it.  I haven't had a bad week.  I've seen progress in myself and life in general is fine.  But some days doesn't the lack of chocolate chip cookies and the fact that you spend your time exercising instead of doing the fun things you enjoy get you down?  It gets me down sometimes, despite the fact that I see progress.  Not to mention my sewing machine hasn't even been out for a least a week.  That's never a good sign.  Anyway, I don't want to be a "Debbie Downer" as Lisa would say, so today I ask you to share your peaceful and encouraging thoughts.  What do you think about that keeps you motivated on the ho-hum days?  What impressions have you had that have helped you to feel peace?  What is it you feel passionately about that brings joy to your life?  Or, at the very least, let me know if this blog has inspired you at all.  It would really brighten my day.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kathy: Week 4

Current Weight: 148
Last Week's Weight: 149
Total Weight Loss: 3 pounds!

Woo hoo! Another pound of me gone bye-bye!
What's that, you ask? What does 3 pound of fat look like?

3 pounds of butter

Imagine all that butter smeared all over me!! Yuck!!

Of course, vain little me would like the 3 pounds to come off of my tummy all at once, but that's not how it works. Our bodies metabolize fat from throughout our bodies, including the fat we never see, the fat that sticks to all our organs, like our liver and kidneys, and if we really want to be healthy, not just skinny, that's the bad stuff that we really want to lose.

This belly fat is nasty, nasty stuff. It generates toxins that make our bodies susceptible to chronic diseases, bad ones like heart disease and diabetes. And the way to get rid of it is to eat healthy, exercise (especially aerobic exercise---check out Sarah's videos below this post!), and lose weight gradually.

So I really do feel like I'm on the right track! I'm sticking to my original plan really well. I am getting just a teensy bit bored with the snacks I'm eating every day, so I'll probably change those up a bit this week. But I LOVE eating 1600 calories every day, divided into four 400-calorie meals (one "meal" is my snacks). So simple. So healthy.

The yoga class is an amazing stretch and muscle-lengthening/strengthening workout every week, and I'm faithfully getting up and going to Curves 2 mornings per week. Speaking of that, I have to tell you that getting up to exercise at 5:15 isn't so bad. Sure, I'm sleepy, but I'm all awake and energized by the end of the workout. It's great! And my Curves gym is starting a 60-day challenge next Saturday. I've signed up for it, which means I'll be going to Curves 3x per week (instead of just 2x per week) for the next 60 days. It's nice to have another incentive to improve my exercise habits!

Speaking of Curves, I have to tell you about a great little book that is crammed with great eating and exercise tips. It has a very healthy eating plan with recipes that are simple, flexible and YUMMY!

It's the Curves Fitness and Weight Management Plan. I know, I know, not the jazziest title ever, but the insides make up for the ho-hum title. You can pick it up on amazon.com, or at your local Curves gym. You don't have to be a member to walk in and buy this book ($25.00)

Here's a recipe from the Curves book that my family loves:
Apple-Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes
(6 servings - 150 calories per serving)

1 large (29 oz) can of yams or sweet potatoes
2 apples, diced
2 Tablespoons butter
4 teaspoons cinnamon
Mash the sweet potatoes and combine with diced apples, cinnamon, and butter. Warm in the microwave or oven until heated through.

That's it! You just cut up apples and mash the yams and mix it up, and it is SO GOOD.
It makes a lot, but the leftovers keep just fine in the fridge to have for lunch the next day or for a quick and simple side dish for supper the next night.

So to wrap things up this week, I thought I'd share a little bit more about me, outside of trying to eat healthy and get more exercise and fit into my clothes better. Like Katie pointed out in her recent post, The Skinny has many more readers than we ever anticipated, and you deserve to know who your writers are!

First of all, of course, I'm Katie's mom. But I'm also mom to 8 other amazing people! My husband and I are parents of a large and active blended family of 9 children--5 are mine (Katie's my baby), 3 are his, and 1 is ours--a young adult daughter we adopted last year. We have 16 grandchildren (!!) ranging in age from almost 10 years old to almost 5 months old, and we will welcome 3 more grandchildren into the family in 2010. (Polly, who writes the "Frugal Food Fridays" recipe posts for The Skinny, is also one of my daughters.)



My favorite thing to do, when I'm not enjoying my family, is to go out hiking and backpacking in the woods. Here's a photo from July 2008, when I was setting out on a 50-mile solo backpacking trip! That's right, I spent 5 days alone in the woods, hiking in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, and I loved every minute of it. I'm excited to be healthy and fit and strong for more hiking again next summer.

I do most of my hiking in the summer, not only because the weather is better, but because I'm a high school English teacher, and the school year is pretty busy for me. My husband teaches Spanish in the same school--what a treat to be able to work/carpool/eat lunch with my best friend!

I have another blog, where I write about...oh...lots of things. Things I think about and notice, things that are funny or thought-provoking, things that inspire me. I write about my family, my job, my other life as a writer. Come on over and read a post or two or more, and please, please leave a comment! I love comments. I love the way blogs help us connect with one another in this big and busy world.



Happy Saturday, dear Skinny readers! Here's a thought to carry with you today:
"Happiness is not a destination, but a journey."
Let's remember that. Weight loss and health are not some magic number on the scale, they are the path to happy and healthy lifestyles. Let's keep encouraging one another along the way. We can do this!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Abs That Rock

My name is Sarah. I am a stay at home mom to my 9 month old daughter while my husband is finishing up his last few semesters in college. I'm Katie's walking buddy, and I'm also the one who took Katie to the abs class that nearly killed her. I am in no way an expert in abdominal workouts, nor do I have abs that in any way resemble a rock. But Katie asked me to share a few of the moves that we do in my class on The Skinny. I couldn't think of a good way to describe the exercises without making silly little videos of myself, so that's exactly what I did.
Now, this is just done on my kitchen floor with my husband recording me on our digital camera, so the quality isn't really that great. My form is far from perfect, but it will give you a general idea of what the moves are supposed to look like. I just chose a few of my favorites to demonstrate (and by favorites, I mean the moves that sort of make me feel like I'm going to die, but in a good way). With that said, onward to the embarrassing video clips!
I call this first exercise the "hard pushup thing". In class we use gliders, but paper towels work just fine. I like this exercise because it works my abs while I try to maintain a good pushup - or 'plank' - position, but it also really works on my upper body and arm strength.

Got it? Now repeat the whole cycle 3 or 4 times. My arms are really cooking by the end of it.
This next one I call the "one that makes my sides sore". There are three different levels of intensity for this move. The first is lifting just the knee, the second is touching the toe, and the third is lifting both legs up. I have (sort of) demonstrated all three levels in the clip.

Finally, this is the one I like to call the "lift your bum off the ground" move. It's pretty self explanatory. The one thing my instructor emphasises is it's not swinging the legs up, more lifting the legs up. Again, this one has 3 levels that I've (tried) to demonstrate.

And that's a small sampling of my abs class! I attend this class twice a week, and every time it really gives me a run for my money. When we're in the middle of a hard move, my instructor likes to call out "This is supposed to be hard! If it's not hard, you're not pushing yourself enough."

Frugal Food Friday: Vegetarian Enchiladas

Did you freeze your beans last week?  No?  Well, you should.  So should I, actually.  But Hubby cooked a fresh crockpot full of beans today, so I could make these and take pictures for you.  Then he mashed them up into our refried beans before I could freeze any...so we need to cook another pot of beans.

We are not vegetarian, but we find that we like a lot of vegetarian recipes because they are often cheaper than meat recipes and packed with healthy vegetables.  In fact, there are a lot of weeks when we only eat meat 2 or 3 times total (including all three meals).


Anyway...this is an awesome recipe. I hope you all try it. Boy's (our two-year old)'s aunt served this to us once when we were visiting, and we asked her for the recipe because they were so good.

Ingredients:
2 t. olive oil
1 small zucchini, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium pepper, chopped
1 can white kidney (cannellini) beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
8 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 jar (15 1/2 oz) mild salsa
1/3 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Instructions:
In 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add zucchini, onion, and pepper; cook, stirring frequently until veggies are tender and golden (10-15 minutes).  Meanwhile, puree half of the beans (half of both the white and the black) in the blender with the broth until smooth.  Transfer bean mash to large bowl, stir in whole beans and set aside.  Add garlic to veggies in skillet, cook 1 minute longer.  Stir in the following and cook 2 more minutes. Transfer vegetable mixture to bowl with beans; stir in cilantro until mixed.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spoon 3/4 cup bean mix to each tortilla, roll tortilla.  Spoon 1/2 cup salsa into bottom of 13x9 baking dish (not metal).  Place enchiladas, seam side down on top of salsa.  Spoon remaining salsa over enchiladas; sprinkle with cheese.  Bake until heated through, 20 minutes.

So now that you've got the recipe, let me tell you what I will often change.  I used my own fresh cooked or frozen (and defrosted) beans.  I also usually double the zucchini and pepper, which means I also cook it in a slightly larger pan.  (We love left-overs around here.)  Something you can also do to make it even healthier (or gluten-free if that's an issue for you) is use corn tortillas instead of flour.  We had corn tortillas on hand and not flour tortillas, so that's what's pictured.  When I use corn tortillas, instead of rolling them up like enchiladas, I layer it.  First salsa on the bottom, then a layer of the veggie-bean filling, then a layer of torn up corn tortillas, then another layer of filling, another layer of the veggie-bean filling, and then the cheese on top.  Of course you can also switch out regular cheese for a low-fat cheese option.  Salsa can be a bit expensive to buy by the bottle at the regular grocery store, but you can get a huge bottle at Costco for $5 or $6 (which would make this recipe about 6 or so times) so that makes it a little more affordable.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tip of the Week - EAT SHRIMP!

Perhaps you are like me and get tired of eating chicken all the time. While it usually sounds like a more nutritious choice than red meat, I tire of eating chicken. In fact I get bored with eating red meat as well. That is why I love shrimp.

They are fun and different and have a lot of natural flavor. I love to substitute shrimp in many of my normal recipes- they are a very low fat option (if you don't douse them in butter of course!) and a great source of protein. In fact, they actually have a fair amount of Vitamin D, which is excellent since most of us ladies don't get enough. (Side note: many people are worried about not getting enough Calcium, however if you don't have enough Vitamin D it doesn't matter how much Calcium you get...Vitamin D is what helps the Calcium to actually be absorbed in your body!)

(Above: what they will look like raw) With all of that being said, I would recommend that you buy raw shrimp from the meat department at your local supermarket instead of buying it precooked or frozen. Anything but raw shrimp is packed with tons of sodium and you can avoid it by purchasing raw shrimp that was not raised in salt water. I usually ask the butcher to put about a half a pound in a bag...then I buy multiple pounds at a time when they are on sale. This way it is really easy for me to thaw just the amount I need for one meal.

Once you let them thaw (or aid them in the process by putting the bag in some warm water), you need to cook them. Get a pot of boiling water and put the shrimp in- they are done when they are a tight "c" shape and are bright reddish/pinkish. Let them cool for a few minutes and then peel the skins off of the shrimp...I know this is a little bit more tedious than buying pre-cooked, however it really does cut out a lot of sodium and they taste fresher.


(Above: what they will look like cooked, with the skins removed) Now you have your shrimp...I like to use them on pasta, in salads, and in tacos. Sometimes I cook them in a skillet for a minute or two with a tiny bit of olive oil and seasonings....pepper and oregano if I am using them in an Italian dish, a sprinkle of taco seasoning or cayenne pepper if I am using them in a taco, etc. You definitely do not need to cook them in a skillet, however I like when mine are just a little browned.

Let me know if you find any great ways to use shrimp...while they are not the least expensive protein you can eat, they sure are tasty and nutritious!

Walking in Circles: Where Are We Going?

I don't want to think about it.

You might think I'm kidding, but it's true. For my regularly-scheduled-every-day-walk with Paulene (and with Linda until she moved) we always walked the same route every day. Sounds boring I suppose, but let me explain why it works for us:

1. We don't want to think about where we are going! Okay, now I'm repeating myself, but having to think and make decisions about where we are going is a huge distraction to our walking.

2. Instead of focusing on WHERE we are going, we would rather walk quickly, and enjoy the conversation with one another.

3. Walking the same routes lets us see changes in the neighborhood gardens through the seasons. We are serious gardeners and every new bloom along the pathway is worthy of our bright attention. We pass by some beautiful gardens and would hate to miss any of the action!

4. We know exactly how long our walk will take, and can plan the rest of our day accordingly.

5. People like to set their clocks by us. Well, maybe not, but I bet they almost could! Anyway, we do see a lot of the same people over and over and are recognized warmly.

6. We know where we will see the deer, and the bunnies, and the large litter of kittens that is growing up. We also know exactly where to get the best sunrise pictures!

7. We get to watch the progress of every landscape or construction project along our way.

8. Going the same way every day means we won't get lost. Honestly, I've walked these neighborhoods so many times that we wouldn't REALLY get lost, but there were times in the early days that we “strayed” off the beaten path and had to stop and get our bearings again! I repeat again: We just don't want to think about it!

These are the standard guidelines, but now I will tell you that every once in a great while, we plan to go somewhere else because there is something we both want to see that isn't along our normal way. Doing so will generally mess up our time table, so we schedule those kind of tours for days that we don't have anything pressing the rest of the morning.

Now, a recreational walk is a very different thing! That's the kind of walk I go on with my husband when time isn't an issue and we are in an exploring mood. We will sometimes drive to a “new” location, then get out of the car and wander until we have decided we've seen enough and it's time to go home. That's fun too, and when I am with him we never get lost. (Well, almost never. :)

This week we saw some amazing sunrises. I've been posting some pictures on my home blog Come What May and Love It, but here's one that hasn't been posted anywhere yet. I love those orange clouds with the blue sky. Wish you could have been there with us!




Now, since many of you have wondered, I'll tell you about my sprouted brown rice. The biggest reason I do it is that the nutritional content skyrockets when grain is allowed to sprout. It also becomes easier for the body to digest. Sprouting rice is very, very easy, even though it takes a couple of days. However, the "hands on" time is only minutes.

Here's what to do: Get a large jar and put one cup of dry brown rice in it. Fill it with water and walk away. You don't need to think about it again for the next 8-10 hours or so. You'll need to find some kind of strainer for the top of the jar. I use a piece of nylon net with a rubber band to hold it in place. After the soak period is over, drain the water and walk away.


I like to put my jar (it's actually an old flower vase) on it's side on a dish towell, with the end slightly elevated because I don't want to stand there waiting for the last drips to come out. Now every 4-5 hours or so, run more water into the jar, swish it around, and let it drain again. (I do not get up in the night to do this...I only do the rinsing during the day!)


After a couple of days you can look closely at the rice and see teeny tiny sprouts. It's ready to use! The sprouts in my photo are actually about a day overdue for cooking...I usually don't wait that long. At this point it can be put in the refrigerator and kept until you're ready to cook.

How do you cook it? Same as always, only use just a little less water, since the rice has already absorbed some in the soaking process. For this batch of rice, I add about 1 3/4 cup of water, then cook. (I use a cheap-o rice cooker.) Oh, another nice thing about sprouted brown rice is that it cooks a lot quicker than usual! My batch of rice makes about 3 cups, which I use over the next few days. And since I use so much of it, I start another batch going immediately. That's all there is to it. Really, you'll only spent a few minutes of hands on time to get this super nutritional rice for your meals. And it tastes so much better than plain old white rice!

Bonus! Here's something new I tried recently that I want to share: Kale Butter! I know, it sounds GROSS! But if you like PESTO, you'll like this. Here's the recipe:

1 bunch of kale, rinsed and chopped (throw away the spine)
1/2 cup walnuts (I used pecans)
1/2 cup water
2 T garlic
1 T lemon juice

Steam the kale for 5 minutes, until tender. Blend the cooked kale with the nuts and add 1/2 cup of the green water from the steaming. (I use my food processor.) Add seasonings to taste. Process till smooth.

I enjoy this spread inside a pita pocket, which is then stuffed with lettuce and anything else that sounds good. I especially like tomatoes with it, but when I took this photo yesterday I was out of tomatoes. Try it sometime! Kale is so very nutritious but it's hard to find a good way to use it...here's a new way I bet you never thought of before. :)


See you next Thursday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Help!

I'm not feeling motivated to be healthy at all right now.  Here's the deal: when I first woke up this morning it was snowing.  Then my walking buddy called and said she'd have to bail because her daughter is sick.  (Totally valid.)  I was still planning on going on a walk with the big O this afternoon though.  But first I needed to pick up some things my mother in law asked me to send her so that I could mail them when I went on my walk.  Well, things took a little longer than I planned when I made an extra stop at the bank to make our car payment. (Good thing I remembered when I drove past it!  I almost forgot.  And it was due today.)  When we got home I fed the big O and hurried and changed her diaper and got her dressed in her warm snow suit thing and headed out the door... only to realize that it was totally dark already.  So I came back inside and waited for Bryan to get home from his class.  Then around 7pm I had a Relief Society activity, but I planned to go to the mall afterward to return some pants I got for Bryan that didn't fit him very well and I figured while I was there I'd walk laps around the mall for a half hour.  What was I thinking?  Even if the big O had remained happy during the RS activity (which she didn't), it still would have totally been her bed time by the time we got home, not time to go to the mall.  Well, now the big O is asleep in bed and Bryan is dutifully working on his homework and it's cold and dark outside and warm and cozy inside and all I want to do is change into my jammies and watch a movie and eat some cookies.  Obviously I'm not going to do either since I'm not eating sweets and since Bryan would get totally distracted if I watched a movie, but... I am really not in the mood to work out.  Any great ideas for something good I could do inside my tiny little apartment that would be an acceptable work out, but wouldn't cause me to work up a major sweat?

Pasta...with less guilt.

Hi!  It's me Lauren bringing you my recipe of the week (and a couple of little fitness tips too!)

If I had to pick one type of meal to eat for the rest of my life, pasta would be it...hands down.  I love me some pasta.  The only problem is that the words "pasta" and "healthy" are most often not synonymous.

Enter THIS pasta recipe:


ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE, PEPPERS, AND FETA





*Note:  I substitute the orecchiette pasta for wheat penne pasta, because it's a little bit healthier.


YIELD:


*4 servings (serving size 1 1/2 cups)


INGREDIENTS:


*8 oz. uncooked orecchiette pasta (about 2 cups)
*1 tsp. olive oil
*3 cups chopped or sliced red bell pepper
*1/2 tsp. salt, divided
*8 oz. turkey Italian sausage (*we like to buy spicy, but you can buy regular if you like)
*1 tsp. dried oregano
*1/2 tsp. bottled minced garlic (or fresh if you prefer)
*3/4 cup (3 oz.) crumbled feta cheese (*they make a reduced-fat version that's quite good)
*1/4 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives (*I don't like olives, so I leave these out...less calories too!)
*1/4 tsp. black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Cook pasta according to directions.  Drain pasta over a bowl and save 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

2.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bell pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt; saute 2 minutes.

3.  Remove casings from sausage.  Add sausage, oregano, and garlic to pan; cook 4 minutes or until sausage is done, stirring to crumble.

4.  Add pasta, reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 tsp. salt, cheese, olives and black pepper; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:


*Calories:  393
*Fat:  12.8 g
*Protein:  21.6 g
*Carbs:  48.6 g
*Fiber:  3.6 g
*Cholesterol:  67 mg

This is one of our favorite recipes.  And although the hubs is a red meat lover through and through the Italian turkey sausage (spicy of course...that's how we cook most things at our house) gets the thumbs up from him.  ALSO...I've forgotten to save the cooking liquid from the pasta before and completely left it out and it turned out just fine.  And, if you want to include more of less of any ingredient, feel free.  You can't really screw this up :).

Fitness Links of the Week:


*Here is my fitness link for the week:  http://www.exercisetv.tv/workout-videos/cardio/fat-burn-8205.  This is a great (and quick!) cardio workout.  I did it last week and definitely worked up a sweat.


*Also...if you have a Lululemon Athletica near you, check out their free yoga class offerings.  They offer them on weekends and all throughout the month of January they're offering free classes every evening!  It's a great way to try out yoga on the cheap.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Some things you may not know about me (Katie)


When I started this blog I didn't figure many people would look at it.  Then my mom joined in (literally hours after I even had the idea--talk about great minds thinking alike).  Then, within the first couple of weeks our spots for regular guest authors filled up.  Add that all up and what you get is a lot of different people looking at embarrassing pictures of me.  Haha.  No, really though, I don't say all this to brag (although it really is fun to brag).  I'm saying all this as a round about way of saying that I had originally thought just a few supportive friends and family members would check out the posts here, but now we have quite a few people who are complete strangers to me coming here for inspiration and ideas.  How cool!  However, that means you may or may not know who it is your listening to.  And I think that knowing your author is important.  It helps you know how seriously to take their advice or when they might be being a little sarcastic or, I don't know, whatever it is that it's important to know about an author.  So, here are some things about me that you might not know:

-I am in absolutely no way a fitness or dietary expert.
-I am a stay at home mom to my four month old daughter, the big O.
-My husband's name is Bryan  He is still in college, finishing up his bachelors degree.  He'll be done in April 2011 (hopefully) and then we'll be off to optometry school.  He has his own blog called The Daily Post.  Admittedly, he puts a lot more thought and research into his posts and they really are a lot more fascinating than mine.
-I am LDS.  (i.e. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as "Mormons.")
-I don't drink coffee or anything in the coffee family.
-I don't drink (and also really don't like) caffeinated drinks of any kind.
-I don't drink alcohol of any kind.
-I am from Oregon.
-I work off of a tight budget (see above about husband being in college).
-I didn't buy Tighter Assets.  I got it at a white elephant gift exchange that we hosted this last Christmas.  We all mocked it mercilessly.  And now I use it. Looks like the joke's on me... as usual.
-I much prefer to work on crafty things (sewing, crocheting, building, whatev) than exercise.
-I hate that I have to take showers to be clean.
-I actually have five blogs.  (1.Notes From A Very Red Kitchen (my main blog), 2.Worn Out Pencil (writing--mostly poetry--blog), 3.The Skinny, 4.Sammy Jaybird (for a business I stopped doing), and then #5 is our private family blog).
-I love to write.
-I am super long-winded (obviously).
-I have a bachelors degree in Home and Family Living.
-I love to get e-mails saying that you left a comment.
-I live in a small apartment.
-I don't love reading, but when I do I prefer children's novels like Little House On The Prairie or The Chronicles of Narnia.
-I am addicted to West Wing, but am in absolutely no way political.
-I never watch the news.
-I really can't remember the last time I watched anything on TV.  We only use our TV for videos.
-I like to use the post office in the bottom of the bookstore that's close to our house.  It's way better than the regular US post office because it uses FedEx, DHL, and regular UPS, so it can give you the rates of all three and tell you which one will be the fastest and cheapest.
-I love things to be organized.  I am perpetually reorganizing our apartment.
-I don't like cooking meat, but I love to eat it.
-I think it's a little ridiculous to have a favorite color.  I like different colors for different things.  However, I know a certain three year old that would disagree with me.  She prefers everything to be pink and purple, including her lettuce.  (But see, even she can't narrow it down to just one.)
-I have, at various times, been a cashier at a u-pick berry farm, a day camp counselor (that's how Lauren and I met), a preschool teacher, a catering captain, and a school crossing guard.
-I am afraid of bees.  I have a standard policy to run away from them.

Well, bees was a strange thing to end on, but this was a pretty random list anyway.  I hope this helped some of you get to know me a little better.  And I hope we can all still be friends, whether you are a bee lover, of a different set of beliefs, or really like to cook meat.  It's okay to be different, right?  I think so.  And if you still have a question for/about me, feel free to ask in the comments.

P.S. The picture at the top of this post is from 2007.  I didn't suddenly get really skinny, I just used to be (eh... kind of).
P.P.S. If you're looking for my weekly post for week 4, scroll down.

We'd love to hear from you!

Want to write a guest post for The Skinny? E-mail Katie at kathleenann08 (at) gmail (dot) com.