Sunday, February 28, 2010

Feeling Happy


Well, this may not sound very uplifting in a churchy sort of way, but it certainly makes me happy.  You all know how much I've been lacking motivation lately.  I was sick of feeling that way and I'm sure you were sick of hearing it.  But I have some great news!  No, I haven't quite reached 150 yet, but it's almost as exciting to me.  "What?!  What?!  What?!" you say?  I fit into my size 8 shorts again!  YAY!  I think it was Marae who suggested getting out some of my old, too-small-right-now clothes as motivation and let me just say that, as always (except when she offers you kombucha), Marae was totally right.  It felt SO good to wear my shorts again, especially since, for some reason, my shorts are some of the more trendy pieces of my wardrobe.  And it's not like I had to squeeze into them, they really fit well.  They fit like they were supposed to fit.  It felt so good to fit into some of my favorite clothes that I wore them around all morning, despite my somewhat hairy legs and my little pooch tummy sticking out.  And I am happy to report that I do feel much much more motivated to keep up the good (hard) work and strive to get rid of my pudgey little tummy so I can wear my shorts with absolutely no misgivings.  (Well, I guess for that I'd have to shave my legs too, but that's not so hard.)  Anyway, I know this is all about me, but it made me so happy I just had to share it with you all!  Yay!

And, if you'll forgive me a bit of a longer post, I want to change gears here for just a minute, but we'll tie it all back together at the end, I promise.  My lovely visiting teachers were over this past week and one of them mentioned to me that she reads this blog and that she's super impressed with my progress and wished that she could do that too.  First off, let me just say that she is WAY busier than me with a kid who can actually walk and requires a lot closer supervision and, as I recall, she's still finishing up school (my utmost sympathy--I was so sick of school by the time I was almost done).  So this is not a guilt trip directed at my really nice visiting teacher.  But I do just want to say to all of you who read this blog and want to do better: you can.  I'm not some ultra fitness person.  I don't eat diet food.  I was losing weight and progressing long before I started this BYU study lifting weights (and I've only done that to supplement what I'm already doing).  It doesn't take a gym membership.  It doesn't take a personal trainer.  All it truly takes is commitment.  And there's not a person who reads this blog who I would think couldn't make the changes they want to make.  (Umm... unless you're pregnant.  Sorry, Anna. :)  Haha.)  I hope none of you would ever think that my mom and I are extra special in some way just because we're sharing our progress with you.  We really are just regular people (who don't really know what we're doing most of the time) doing our best to try and work toward our goals.  And if you don't know where to start, then you're in good company.  But I think if you sit down, give yourself a few minutes just to think about what you might be able to realistically do, you'll come up with a few things that can really make a difference for you.  And if you're too overwhelmed to think of things on your own, then let me suggest a few starting points:
1. keep a food journal
2. go on a walk once a day
3. cut out foods you're addicted to for a while
4. drink a lot more water than you're drinking now

It really isn't as hard as it sounds.  You can do it!  And I hope you all will.  Because then you can be happy like me when you start fitting into your favorite shorts (or whatever it may be that you miss wearing or doing).

So, to tie it all together, I'd like to ask what it is you're all up to that's helping you feel happy.
How have you been making progress?
What new things that you've tried are working for you?
What success have you seen in yourself so far?
What tips and tricks would you share with us?
What's your favorite healthy thing to eat?
Why are you happy you're working toward your goals?

I hope you'll share your answers with us so we can all learn from each other and feel uplifted and happy about each others progress.

Thanks everybody!  Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kathy: Week 9 - a plateau??

Current Weight: 144
Last Week's Weight: 142
Starting Weight: 151
Total Weight Loss: 7 pounds

Today's BMI: 25.51 (still "overweight"...)

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later...the scale broke! As in...I gained back the two pounds I lost last week. What's up with that??!!

Here are the Week 1 Photos.

















And here I am today.

They say muscle weighs more than fat, maybe that's why I weigh more?







I sure do feel stronger and more toned!

The photo on the left shows me in "Mountain Pose" from our yoga class. I know it doesn't look like much from the photo, but my feet, knees, tailbone, and shoulders are in position! (Seriously. Compare the knee position from Week 1 and today. My knees are lazy lazy lazy in Week 1.)

So what's up with (re)gaining two pounds?

Well, it has been a crazy week. I think I've mostly stayed with my 400-calorie-meal plan, but sometimes it was hard to tell...we went to the Blue & Gold dinner for the cub scouts on Thursday night, and a dinner at church last night...ok, I confess I had 4 or 5 bites of Mark's cake at the Blue & Gold dinner, and then I ate most of my dessert (a slice of cheesecake) last night. But at least I chose to only eat about 1/3 of the huge mound of spaghetti they put on our plates...

The other thing going on last week is that I was too tired! As in sleep-deprived. Trying to keep up with the homework load for my university class is starting to really drain my energy levels. As Katie and several other Skinny authors have pointed out, getting enough sleep is critical to maintaining good health, including weight loss.

So my theory for the current number on the scale is:
1. The scale is fickle--we've already established that!
2. I'm gaining muscle mass.
3. I need to get more sleep.
4. I need to eat at home more...no more cheesecake (260 calories!) at church dinners!

Ok, ok, enough with the excuses.

What I really wanted to write about this week is how to determine your happy weight. We all have a "magic number" in mind, the weight we'd like to be, "if only..." But for many of us, that number may not be realistic! I found a website that discusses how to determine a realistic weight goal - a weight that is healthy, but also maintainable, based on factors such as age, activity levels, and body build. Here's the actual happy weight calculator.

According to the calculator, my happy weight is 134, which is just one pound below my original goal weight of 135. So I know it's realistic and doable. The hard part is just sticking with it, especially when the scale does this funky little 2-pound-gain thing. So for this week, I am going to:

1. Exercise 3x at Curves, and also go to Yoga class.
2. Eat four 400-calorie meals a day.
3. Drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water every day.
4. Get more rest.
5. Run when I see cheesecake! Ha ha! I mean, run away!

I hope you're set for a super week!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

And the WINNER is...

Congratulations SARAH!!!
Sarah has won the CD full of great workout tunes! I hope you use it well!


Now, on to my tip for today...another leg workout! So maybe you didn't try to Paso Legs workout...you don't have Paso music or you don't think you can do lunges and squats...but here is one you can definitely do! All you need is a set of stairs.

Begin at the bottom of the stairs and run up them as quickly as you can. Then come down.

Begin at the bottom of the stairs and run up them as quickly as you can, skipping a step each time. So this time you are only stepping on every other step. Then come down.

Begin at the bottom of the stairs and run up them as quickly as you can, skipping two steps each time. So this time you are only stepping on every third step. Then come down.

Begin at the bottom of the stairs and repeat the process (every step, every other step, every third step) but keeping your feet together...so you will be jumping.

Begin at the bottom of the stairs and repeat the process (every step, every other step, every third step) using only one leg at a time...so you will be hopping.

At the end of this series you will have gone up and down the stairs 12 times. If you can, go ahead and do it again!

Now here are a few tips- if you can't run, jump, or hop skipping more than one stair at a time, it is okay. Do two sets of skipping just one step instead of the skipping two stairs set and pretty soon you will build up enough strength to skip two steps...and will feel like the picture above! Also, don't worry about coming down the stairs any specific way...just walk normally. Don't take too long between each trip up the stairs and you will ensure that this is an aerobic workout as well as a strength training one! It is not necessary, but sometimes I find it helps if I am listening to Eye of the Tiger or the theme from Rocky :) And make sure you stretch once you are all done, especially your hamstrings, quads, calves, and ankles, so you will be able to do this workout again!

Walking in Circles: Wherever You Go!

Walking is such a wonderful activity, and we do it everywhere we go. We're visiting in the state of Virginia this week, where the locals experienced a "Snowpocalypse" just two weeks ago. We are here having a great time visiting three of our grandchildren, but managed to slip out for an hour to go exploring the trails in the green spaces in this neighborhood. The going was a bit slippery in places, but we enjoyed the outing even though our walk was more of a stroll than an aerobic event. And yes, we are still walking in circles: looping through the woods to end up right back where we started. We even took a few pictures to share! Hope you're all having a great week, and that you are getting out for some interesting walks, too. :)




Wednesday, February 24, 2010

getting dressed and eating soup

It's another rainy day in London, and I'm in my apartment until it lets up. I'm not much in the mood to think about nutrition and health, but I have been thinking about things that make my life better, and how every little thing works in a balance to make me a healthy and happy person.

I really don't like to get ready in the morning--especially on a day like today. I also don't like to catch myself in the mirror or come into contact with other humans when I don't get ready...or think about going places. This morning I was cooking and listening to the downpour and thinking ugh I will never go on another walk, and then I got dressed and ready and am now thinking that maybe getting my shoes wet wouldn't be so bad. And I'm also thinking about how certain less wonderful times in my life have been marked by the scrubs or hoodies I wore to class with a ratty ponytail. You know? When I'm doing things to help me feel good about myself, I treat myself better and enjoy life more, and vice versa.

So, my teeny tiny bit of encouragement for today is to get out of the rut if you're in it. Take time to care for yourself, then be proud that you're doing the best you can with what you have. For me, wearing clothes that I really like and spending a few minutes on my hair are easy things that make all of the difference (my warm winter clothes are few and boring, though, so I'm hoping to either mix that up or get some warmer weather soon). What do you do to keep yourself confident and feeling good?

Not related at all...I also encourage you to make some soup--so good in cold weather, and it can be really healthy and filling. I made this toscana soup yesterday (left out the sausage and used extra light cream...and oh the cream made it so much better, but maybe milk replacing some of the water would do the trick?). It was amazing. I made lentil soup for dinner tonight (from the incredible 101 Cookbooks blog), and the taste test was also positive. Both recipes use kale, which I discovered is really tasty in soup.

my take on Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup
2 cups black beluga lentils (or green French lentils), picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
3 cups of a big leafy green (chard, kale, etc), rinsed well, deveined, finely chopped

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the lentils, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and salt and saute until tender, a couple minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, and water and continue cooking for a few more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer. Stir in the chopped greens, and wait another minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be.

*I seasoned with cumin and cayenne, and my lentils took more like 30 minutes to cook. Also, my lentils were neither of these varieties.

Enjoy soup-making, and do share any good soup recipes you have.


ps: here's a picture to go with an awful christina aguilara song that this post brought to mind. anybody know what it is?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Katie: Week 9

Don't forget to enter Alex's giveaway!  

Here we are at week numero nineo...

Current weight: 152 pounds
Last week's weight: 153 pounds
Total weight loss: 18 pounds


Pictures: Week 9

Week 7


Week 1:

Umm... I'll try harder this week. 

This past week has been a weird week as far as fitness and healthy eating and everything goes.  Mostly I have just still not been feeling very motivated, but on top of that, I was feeling pretty sick from Saturday night until Monday morning.  It wasn't anything serious, but I was pretty queasy and ended the whole thing with a stuffed up nose.  I am very happy to report that I miraculously started feeling totally fine again yesterday and I seem to officially be over whatever bug I got.  Thank goodness.  However, this short sickness combined with my total lack of motivation resulted in some pretty lame exercising going on this week, ending in not exercising at all yesterday since I was busy most of the day with something and then had a headache last night when I might have done an exercise video or something.  Man, I sound like such a whiner.  Haha.  Sorry.  Anyway, the point is that I was really lame this past week.  My apologies.

Now on to the weekly recap of my rules.

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).

My latest fake dessert is having chocolate graham crackers (they are about the same-- or better in some categories-- as regular graham crackers) with crunchy peanut butter on top.  Yum.  Even Bryan eats these.  And, no, I did not have any ice cream even though I really wanted some to settle my tummy and cool my throat when I wasn't feeling good.

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.

Nope, didn't eat out this week.  At least I did one thing right!  Yay!

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. 

Despite being somewhat busy this week, Bryan and I did manage to make home-cooked dinners every night.  I've even been so ambitious as to make homemade pizza crust a couple of times lately so we can have pizza.  Yum.  Although I really can't take all the credit--Bryan is usually the dinner chef around here.

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

I am happy to report that we have cherry tomatoes on hand.  And carrot juice was on sale for $1 off at the store the last time we went, so I stocked up.  It's always great when things you were going to buy anyway are on sale.

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

So I wrote everything down but... well... I'll get into my major scolding for the week in the usual #8 slot.

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.

Like I said, I was mega lame this week.  The good news is, for the study I'm participating in I got put in the strength training group (lifting weights) and so I have to go twice a week to lift weights now.  And that's a good thing.
 
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 have been much, much better about water this week.  I was super bad about it yesterday, but yesterday was kind of an off day all together, so let's just say that, in general, I seem to be resurrecting my good water-drinking habits. 

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.

Okay.  Listen.  I am terrible at this.  It is not fun.  And sometimes I hate it.  In order to do it correctly and have it be worthwhile, it has to be done right before I go to bed when I'm for sure not going to eat or drink anything else.  And so it's usually late by the time I even think about doing it.  And by then I just want to go to bed.  And while Bryan is a very very very good husband when it comes to supporting me in these goals of mine, he is none too keen on me staying up five more minutes when we're already tired just to enter in my foods.  And so I am quite ashamed to say that I don't think I entered in ANYTHING this week.  Yes, it is sad and shameful indeed.  And so this week I'm going to try to reconcile this by saying that I promise to catch up on last week's and enter it all in today.  And I'm going to try entering things in the following morning instead of at night.  Deal?  Deal.  And unless there is some terrible misfortune or something, I PROMISE to not get behind again this week.  Because I really can't continue being so terrible about this.  Anybody want to reward me somehow if I report (accurately) next week that I entered in my foods every day? 

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

Umm... I am starting to come to the realization that perhaps there has been a problem here all along and I have been in denial of it.  I really think I'm going to have to set a timer.  I will be doing that this week.  Wish me luck in trying to think of things to keep myself busy when I'm stuck inside while my daughter is napping.  I think that is the cause of my downfall here.

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

Yes!  The second thing I did right this week!


Well, I'm really close to my halfway goal.  Please feel free to help me think of some reward I could give myself if I buckle down and report back next week with a weight of 150 pounds or less.  I am in serious need of motivation here.  If I think of anything great or if I love any ideas you may give me in the comments here, I will update later on today and let you know.


Have a great week!
P.S.  (I thought of this when I was putting the label on my post just now.) Fun fact of the week: did you know that my mom and I actually have the same first name?  Can you guess what it is?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Can you tri?

Hello all! It's me...Lisa...Still training for that triathlon!

My training has been going well.

And my personal tip for this month is: BUDDIES!

I've been spreading the news that I'm training for a triathlon and found some training buddies in the process. Talking about my triathlon helps me remember that I need to TRAIN! Finding people to run with helps me feel motivated. And running together rather than going out to eat together is extra beneficial!

It also helps that I signed up for this triathlon with a friend. Having an end goal (whatever it is! I liked Alex's reward system!) is a great beacon to run towards.

Also, I would like to report that I can tell my pants and clothing in general are fitting better. I don't know numbers, but I feel good about my body. And isn't that the most important thing?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Choices

Sorry I'm a little slow in putting up our peaceful thought for the day.  I'm teaching the women in Relief Society today and I've been pretty busy preparing for that.  The lesson I'm teaching today is on Agency.  The lesson is only about three pages long (Thank goodness for the new simplified manuals!), but there is so much that could be said about agency.  More than once as I've been preparing this lesson I've thought how well the principle of agency applies to healthy living.

For instance, one of the questions in the lesson asks, "How does making right choices help us make more right choices?"  The little answer I wrote in for myself (word-for-word) was, "Strengthens our willpower for overcome Satan (desserts!)"  It is so much easier to say no to desserts the second time or the third time or the fourth time than when we have to do it for the very first time.  And by the time we've said no for the one hundred and fourth time the words come out more as a reflex than as the result of a tough choice we just had to make.  Don't you think?

The other question from the lesson that got me thinking about healthy living, along with the answers I wrote in for myself, were, "What are some examples of actions that limit our choices?"  My answer: "If I eat junk food I won't fit into my clothes or have a healthy body."  And then, "What are some examples of actions that give us more freedom?"  You can basically guess my answer here, but what I wrote down was, "If I eat healthy food I am able to do more and wear more of my clothes."  These are such little, trivial things, but they stem from this great principle of agency.

The moral of the story?  We have agency.  We are free to choose for ourselves.  However, we are not free to choose our consequences.  We can have our cake, but we cannot free ourselves from the effects it will have on our bodies.

Speaking of cake, I'd like to close by sharing this thought with you.  My friend Megan sent me this e-mail this morning:

So my sister made me start Weight Watchers with her.  I'm still reluctant, but I think I am slowly gaining more motivation day by day.  Anyways, the other day I was complaining about wanting to eat some of her birthday cake and she said, "No food tastes as good as being thin feels."

Now I don't know what Megan's sister was doing convincing her to get on Weight Watchers and then baking cake to taunt her with, but she makes a great point.  May we all be successful this week in making healthy choices so that we can feel that superior kind of good.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Kathy: Week 8 - afternoon update

We had a beautiful day out in the snow!
It's so good for us to get outdoors and be active and healthy. We didn't go very fast or far, but we sure had fun! We were so lucky to have blue sky and temperatures in the 30s-40s. I've posted more pictures on my blog. I hope you'll come by and check them out!

Kathy: Week 8

Looking for the giveaway? ENTER for a chance to win a CD of some great workout music!

Current Weight: 142
Last Week's Weight: 144
Starting Weight: 151
Total Weight Loss: 9 pounds

Today's BMI: 25.15 (still "overweight"...but only 1 pound away from being "normal"!)



Last Saturday: 144 - Woo hoo! Down 2 pounds! Uh-oh...will I be able to maintain that this week?
Sunday: 145 - I knew it...I was too eager on that 144.
Monday: 144 - Oh, good, I really did earn that 144.
Tuesday: 145 - Uh, oh...have I been eating too much? Too much salt? 
Wednesday: 145 - What's going on? What if I have to post a gain next week on The Skinny?
Thursday: 143 - Woo hoo! Down another pound!
Friday: 145 - I just know it...I'm going to have to post a GAIN tomorrow! Agghh!!
Today: 142 - Really? Do you mean it, Scale? Here, let me check one more time. Yup...142!

Do you have these little moments with your scale, or is mine just fickle? I keep reassuring myself that this kind of little up-and-down is normal; it's the direction that matters. 

What's really working for me is sticking to four 400-calorie meals every day (3 meals + 400 calories of snacks), and 4 workouts every week (3 mornings at Curves, plus the yoga class).

Oh, and speaking of workouts, you are SO going to wish you lived in the Northwest today, because I get to go snowshoeing this morning!! I am really excited. Hiking is my favorite activity in the world--and this is hiking with beautiful snow all around! Be sure to check back to The Skinny this evening, and I'll post some photos.

Time to go pull out my long underwear and make my lunch, but before I go, I just wanted to share an article on Yahoo Health, that I found so affirming. It talks about weighing yourself daily, fiber, turning off the TV, getting enough sleep - all great healthy tips that we have been encouraging each other to live by here at The Skinny. Check out the article and feel good about what you are already doing...and maybe add another healthy habit to your life.

We love your comments--we know that lots of you are having healthy success, too!
I would love love love love love it if you would make a comment! (Katie always gets more comments than me. Ha ha! I think she has more friends.) Our friend Kacie has started a weight loss blog - anyone else out there using a blog as a way to stay motivated and accountable?

And don't forget the giveaway!  ENTER for a chance to win a CD of some great workout music!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Family Home Evening Treat Dilema

Okay, so when I first started these, I mentioned everyone's idea of "healthy" can be different.  This is not the healthiest idea out there, but it's been an improvement toward healthy in our family, so it might help someone else out too.  If you're going to bake cookies you might want to give this a try.

Our kids LOVE Family Home Evening.  We set aside one night a week (usually Monday) to spend time together as a family playing games, learning a Gospel concept or story, sing songs...and...it ends with a treat.  Being consistent with have a dessert-y treat was the key to us being consistent with having Family Night EVERY week because our kids look forward to those treats and will remind us that we HAVE to do Family Night.  Sometimes we're successful in making these treat healthy...like fruit smoothies...but a lot of times not.  Especially lately, we're in a bit of a hurry because my husband has night classes almost every night, so we have to get him off to class in time.

One of my biggest downfalls is homemade cookies.  I don't make them all that often...but when I do, I just can't get enough.

So the last month or so I've started doing something new...we bake just one cookie sheet full of cookies...
...and freeze the rest.  I freeze the dough usually in two balls, wrapped in plastic wrap and then put inside a freezer bag.


This is a great idea for us for several reasons.
  1. Mom eats a lot fewer cookies.
  2. We get THREE batches of cookies for three different weeks (not necessarily consecutive) for the price of one...so it's cheaper.  It's also a TON cheaper than buying ready-made cookie dough at the store.
  3. We get THREE batches of cookies for the price of only one mess in the kitchen.  (A big benefit when you have no dishwasher and 3 little kids.)
  4. Mom eats a lot fewer cookies.
P.S. Don't forget to ENTER for a chance to win a CD of some great workout music!

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    My Comfort Activity


    It is hard to turn over a new leaf.  Changing so many things about your routine, diet, and activities can be really hard mentally.  Sure the whirlwind of it all kind of puts an element of excitement in it to begin with, but after that dies off you are just left with all of these foods, exercise, etc. that you aren't sure are really you.  And while you don't wish to go back to being heavier or unhealthier, there are times you wish for things that are in your past life.  It is at this point that people either persevere and make the changes for life or give up and go back to what they know best.  Here is my trick for ensuring you won't revert to your bad ways...because while the first time this slump or rut hits is the hardest, it is definitely not the only slump or rut you will feel- after all, how long did you live like your old self?

    The trick is to pick one activity that you really enjoy- a little something that you can indulge in once and awhile- to ease your transition.  I call it my "comfort activity" instead of my "comfort food".  It can be reading, cooking, writing, watching tv...pretty much anything you want.  Then dedicate an hour to your activity every once and awhile (no, not necessarily every week) and don't feel guilty about it! 

    Try to add a new spin on it to make it fit into your new lifestyle, but don't completely abandon or feel guilty about doing things that make you happy!  If you love to read, do a set of pushups every chapter, 5 pgs, time a character appears, etc.  If cooking makes you feel like you, try a healthy recipe or make those yummy goodies and take ALL of them to a friend.  If writing is your thing, do it sitting on a fitness ball or try to hold your feet off the ground.  The tv is calling your name- drink a glass of water each commercial break or do 10 sit-ups each time a certain word is said.  You get the idea.

    My comfort activity is taking a bath.  I like super hot baths- where you can tell where the water level was because your body is different colors in the water and out of the water.  I love to just soak and let my thoughts wander...or sometimes I read...or sometimes I listen to music.  But it is my time and I feel most like myself in the bath; it just makes me happy.  And when I am happy I am more motivated!  My spin I put on it is that for every 10 minutes I am in the bath I drink one glass, 8 oz., of water...I can get four or five of my daily glasses in one sitting!  


    After taking a bath I not only feel physically relaxed, but mentally rejuvenated as well.  This means I am ready to face the calorie counting and the hard workouts and all of the other things that sometimes seem like just too much. 

    It is your brain that is controlling your body, not the other way around.  It is a mental battle each day to make choices that are good for the body...it is a mental battle to lose weight, thus we need to give our minds a break as well as our bodies if we intend to keep pushing.  Your mind will be what gives up, what decides this whole business is too difficult.  Make sure you nurture your mind...give your mind a break and your body will be just fine :) 

    So here is my question...what is your comfort activity?  If you would like to be entered in this week's giveaway, leave a comment telling us what your comfort activity is and what spin you are going to put on it to make it fit in your new, healthy life.  (Examples are above in green)  

    I will randomly draw a winner on Thursday, February 25th and post the winner on my regular post that evening.  Please make sure that you have left your comment by Wednesday, February 24th.

    The winner will be given a CD full of great workout tunes...music that will get you up and going whether you are cleaning the house or running a race!  Make sure you leave a comment telling us both what your comfort activity is and what you are doing to revamp it by Wednesday to be entered!

    Walking in Circles: All Alone?

    Today I thought I'd share some verses I wrote last Fall after an early morning walk by myself. I apologize to those who already read this on my home blog many months ago, but maybe I won't apologize too much. I just re-read it and even though I'm no poet, it's not so bad. While I read, it was almost as if I had only gone on that walk this morning...the memory was very clear! The photo at the end was taken in January as I walked through our local cemetary while the sun was just rising. Glorious!

    Morning Walk

    Woke up early, just like always,
    While still very dark.
    It's time for a morning walk
    but my companion is away.
    Should I go alone?

    I will.
    50 degrees, no jacket needed;
    The sun has not even begun to rise.
    Leaves crackle under my feet,
    Lampposts glow in the fog.

    Don't be a slacker, walk briskly!
    While the neighbors move slowly;
    Single lights wink on in the houses.
    I imagine parents stumbling about
    waking their children for school.

    A solitary man wearing a small backpack
    shuffles in the darkness on the street opposite me.
    He seems to have no purpose.
    We look toward one another.
    Should I be afraid?
    My instincts say no.

    Up and down, through the neighborhood;
    To the dead end, touch the fence,
    round the culdesac, down the stairs.
    Shadowy Halloween decorations litter the lawns.
    More lights coming on now, and I can hear
    scattered conversations through the windows.
    A few cars drive by adding life to the scene.

    Ah, the graveyard is ahead
    But it's still dark. Do I dare?
    Of course!
    It's the best part of the walk.
    There is always a feeling of peace here
    that isn't in the streets.

    The sun is coming up now,
    and the heavy, damp air becomes a little less gloomy.
    Deer slumber nearby and rise as I approach;
    I talk to them, but they move away.
    They don't know how good it would feel
    If I scratched them behind the ears.

    Near the cemetery gates
    bright orange zinnias still bloom
    uneaten by the deer all summer.
    I pluck a few dried flower heads as I leave,
    To plant their seeds next Spring.

    Around the corner and I'm home.
    This new day came to life while I walked;
    How rare to witness it alone!
    But was I really? I conversed continually, quietly,
    with myself, with the headstones, the deer,
    And with my Father.
    I'm glad He wasn't away this morning.


    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Maybe not the most low-cal meal ever.

    So.....

    I apologize in advance if this is not the most low-cal meal ever.  If you're on a very calorie restrictive diet, then this probably isn't the recipe for you (516 calories/serving), but it's so yummy and a fairly healthy and quick option that gets a buy-in from my meat loving hubby, so it's something I keep on my menu.

    Gingery Pork and Cucumber Pitas

    {photo and recipe via}

    Serves: 4Hands-On Time: 15 min.Total Time: 15 min.

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • Kosher salt
    • 2 Kirby cucumbers, thinly sliced
    • 1 red or green jalapeno, thinly sliced
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 pound ground pork
    • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
    • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
    • 4 pitas, halved

    DIRECTIONS:

    1. In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the cucumbers and jalapeƱo and let sit, tossing occasionally, for at least 5 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pork, breaking up with a spoon until no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the hoisin, ginger, and 2 tablespoons water.
    3. Fill the pita halves with the pork and cucumber salad



    NUTRITIONAL INFO:


    Calories:  516
    Fat:  23 g
    Cholesterol: 81 mg
    Carbs: 49 g
    Fiber: 3 g



    ADDITIONAL NOTES:

    *I've made this leaving out the jalapenos and it was just fine.

    *I've also added in lettuce in lieu of the cucumber mixture.  Still good.

    *Basically this is just yummy.  If you've never used hoisin sauce, I recommend it.  It's so flavorful, and saves me from using a million seasonings and sauces.  


    Next time I'll try to post something a little lower calorie, but I haven't been cooking a whole lot lately, hence a lack of awesome recipes to share.  Hope you enjoy this!

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Katie: Week 8

    Welcome to week #8!


    Current weight: 153 pounds
    Last week's weight: 155 pounds
    Total weight loss: 17 pounds


    *Oops!  I put my total weight loss this morning as 18 pounds, but I definitely did the math wrong.  Sorry!  It's fixed now.  :)

    I'll be honest here: I haven't been very committed lately.  No, I haven't broken my rules (although I really wanted to just have M&M's and chocolate chip cookies and other yummy stuff this week), but I also haven't been trying all that hard.  So, I'm super glad that I lost two pounds anyway, but I'll admit that I'm not really sure why.

    Now on to the weekly recap of my rules.

    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).

    Like I said, I really really wanted some.  A lot.  Especially the dark chocolate peanut M&M's I was offered yesterday afternoon.  But I decided I'd be more sad about failing at my goal than I was about not eating the yummy things I was craving.

    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.

    It was Valentine's, for heaven's sake!  Of course Bryan and I went out to eat.  We went to Guru's and I did fail to look at the menu ahead of time (we decided on our way there that that's where we were going to go), but I wasn't overly worried about what I ordered because the food their is generally healthier than most restaurants and because of a weird schedule I hadn't eaten much that day anyway.  Suffice it to say that, in this case, I feel fine about having gone out to eat.

    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. 

    Bryan was a sweetheart and made healthy banana bread for us on Valentine's day so we could enjoy a healthy treat.  Yum.  I really do love that stuff. 

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

    I may need to make a trip to the store for cherry tomatoes today.  Eating cherry tomatoes with my lunch seems to keep me on track.  I get thrown off when we're out.  And we're out.

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

    Yep.

    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, okay, okay.  So maybe my exercises this past week have been a little lame.  But it really was a workout to walk around three different stores with my sister and the three kids we have between us on Saturday, especially since the big O fell asleep in my arms and I had to carry her that way all through Walmart.  And perhaps cleaning the house for a few hours yesterday wasn't doing quite the same for my body as, say, doing Tighter Assets, but... well... I just didn't feel like doing hard core workouts this week.  However, from here on out I shouldn't have much of a choice in the matter.  Last week when I finished up the initial body testing for the postpartum study I'm participating in I found out that I've been assigned to the strength training group (i.e. lifting weights).  That starts this week and I'm doing it twice a week for something like four months now, so I think I'll be covered in the "real workout" category from now on.  Man, I'm so weak.  Wish me luck!  Oh, and I also tried sucking in my abs a lot more throughout the day this week.  And I can tell it's helping a little because my abs have been kind of sore.
     
    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 did ho-hum with drinking water this past week.  My goal in this coming week is to drink water more consistently throughout the day since I tend to chug late in the evening.  That's not such a good strategy.

    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.  (That's what I said last week, but, sadly, it's true for this week too.  I'll try to actually be better this time.)  <--That's a direct quote from last week.  Sad day.  I have really got to get a grip on this thing again.

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

    As always, no real problems here.  

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

    Did it!


    Well, even though I don't really know why I'm continuing to lose weight at a nice rate, I certainly am happy about it!  How are you all doing with your goals?  What things do you do when you get in a rut?  How do you motivate yourself to be diligent in keeping your goals when you're just not in the mood or you don't really care that that moment?  I'd love to hear your advice.


    Have a great week!

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Running Progress, Posture, and Plans

    In response to a question a few posts ago (sorry I took so long to reply), I want to share a couple sites where I map running routes. My favorite method is to just make my own route on gmap-pedometer by Google. However, sometimes I want to run a route that someone else has created and others have reviewed. You can find routes like this on USATF and Map My Run. A lot of sites also recommend logging your runs so you can track improvements. You can keep a log online or in a notebook. I have not done this yet, but I probably will start when I really work on improving my speed.


    Now I'm happy to announce that I have lost one pound since my last post and I am only 2 pounds away from my goal weight! I love my workouts and I feel great. I think I have dropped another size because my clothes fit best right out of the hot dryer. (Isn't that just the best?)


    On to the running tips! I finally cracked open my copy of ChiRunning and have started to work on the focus goals. Good news to our walking friends; there is also a book called ChiWalking! The first lesson is about posture. This is fortunate for those who do yoga or pilates and are already developing better posture. Running posture starts with the feet. Toes should be pointed straight forward. If yours tend to turn outward, focus on correcting this first. Moving upward, be sure that your pelvis is level, rather than tipped. Then lift the sternum and elongate the spine by lifting the back of your head from the base. Feel like the crown of your head is floating upward. When you engage your core, this position feels much more natural. This can feel like a lot of adjustments, so the book recommends going on shorter runs (20-30 minutes) in order to focus and work on this the whole time. I've done a fair amount of running, but I'm learning these concepts because I want to be a better runner. I want what the title of the book talks about: effortless and injury-free running. People who have learned this method said that they feel like they can run forever. Now that sounds nice, right?

    So who's with me? Let me know if you have registered for a race or are planning to run one without registering (like I did on my first half-marathon). I'm looking at doing a 12K (about 7.5 miles) in May and a half-marathon in the summer. As I train I will continue to include these lessons from ChiRunning and how they work out for me. I can't wait to go running this afternoon!

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    Today's peaceful thought is:


    I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with love!

    Saturday, February 13, 2010

    Kathy: Week 7




    Current Weight: 144
    Last Week's Weight: 146


    Starting Weight: 151
    Total Weight Loss: 7 pounds

    Today's BMI: 25.51 (still "overweight")

    Yippee!! Two more pounds gone!
    I know you've been waiting for it...the photos...so here we go!

    Here I am back at Week 1.


    Yes...it was time for new year's resolution or two!










    And here I am at
    Week 7!

    Four workouts a week is revving up my weight loss!

    One pound at a time, I'm getting healthier and (just a little bit) skinnier!
    I'll have a new recipe for you in just a minute, but before I do that, I want to point out a new feature of The Skinny.  


    Ta da!! We now have a Skinny Recipe Index in the left-hand column. I love the recipes we're sharing here, and sometimes it's hard to scroll down and find the one I want...or I don't even remember that it's in there. I'll keep the index updated as our authors share new recipes. 

    I'm excited to share my family's favorite bran muffin recipe with you today! Now before you turn up your nose at bran muffins, you have to know that...
    1) these little guys are packed with beautiful fiber and...
    2) they are delicious! My family has loved them for years. They are light, fluffy, and moist, not dry and heavy and nasty like store-bought bran muffins. (And they have more fiber than store-bought bran muffins, too!)

    There are a couple of tricks to making them turn out so yummy, so I've made a little tutorial.

    First of all, go add these three ingredients to your shopping list, if you don't already have them in the cupboard. If your grocery store has a bulk section, the whole wheat flour and wheat bran are much cheaper to buy in bulk.

    whole wheat flour
    wheat bran
    molasses

    Kathy's Bran Muffins
    Oven 350
    120 calories/muffin
    3.5 grams fiber/muffin
    Yield: 18 muffins

    Ingredients
    2 tablespoons white vinegar
    2 cups milk (nonfat or 1%)

    2 cups whole wheat flour
    1 1/2 cups wheat bran
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 1/4 teaspoons soda

    1/2 cup molasses
    3 tablespoons applesauce

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then you will make the muffins in 3 easy steps.

    Step 1: Sour the milk
    You have to make the milk sour so the muffins will rise. The sour milk will react with the baking soda.

    Measure 2 tablespoons vinegar into the bottom of a 4-cup measuring cup. Then add milk to make 2 cups. 
    Give it a little stir and then set the milk mixture aside for 8-10 minutes.

    Step 2: Mix the dry ingredients
    Measure and combine the whole wheat flour, wheat bran, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Stir them up so everything is evenly mixed.

    Step 3: Finish the wet ingredients
    Add the molasses and applesauce to the sour milk (after about 8 minutes of souring time) and stir them all together.

    Make sure the molasses isn't stuck on the bottom of the milk, and then add all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir gently until all dry ingredients are evenly moistened. (The batter will be quite wet.)
    Spoon into 18 muffin cups. No papers are needed, but I do like to spray the bottom of the muffin cups very lightly with Pam. 
    Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. They are so delicious right out of the oven! They are good as leftovers, too - just pop one in the microwave for 20 seconds.

    Hey! It's almost Valentines Day! What will you be doing for the people you love, and how will you handle the chocolatey aspects of the event? 
    (Have just a bite? Indulge? Make your own healthy yummy treats? Ignore the whole thing?)
    I think I'll make some flan--my hubby's favorite dessert--it's low-calorie if I make it with skim milk.
    I hope you have a lovely day, wherever you are!

    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.