Friday, December 24, 2010

Zapping out the JOY from Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve Day started out with such promise. After a night of rotten sleep during Sunshine's 13th birthday sleepover blow out and subsequent puke fest, I decided to sleep in on Christmas Eve. By 9 am, I was up, refreshed and ready to tackle the craziness involved in preparing for Christmas Eve. 

As soon as I had my first blast of caffeine, I started my cooking for the holiday dinners. Of course, my cooking is NEVER too involved because everyone knows I am no Martha Stewart.

For Christmas Eve, we were heading to my hometown of Rochester, IL to spend time with my 5 fabulous sisters and their families. Our family tradition of pizza and ping pong on Christmas Eve goes back to my childhood to a time before I can even remember doing anything else. I decided to make two dips and take chips & dip. I found a tangy tomato dip in my Fitness Magazine and decided to make Lime 'N Honey Black Bean Dip from the Meal Makeover Moms. The recipe was very easy to make as all I had to do was throw it all in a blender and spin!

I also made my world famous CHEX MIX to take to the Leber's on Christmas Day. After my cooking, I went to the basement to jump on my bike for a spin on the trainer. The workout today was a 10 minute warm-up, then 3 sets of 8 minutes at 85-94% and 2 minutes of rest at 65-70%, followed by 5 minutes of cool down.  Following my cool down, I ran to the shower while shouting instructions to my kids to clean the front room if they wanted to open one present before heading to Rochester. By the time I was ready to head out, Camo-Man was home from goose hunting with bad news....the roads are getting bad. As a mode of self-preservation, I lived in denial for a while telling myself,
The roads aren't that bad. We can still make it. Springfield probably isn't getting anything now. 
Once ready, I let the girls each pick a gift for their sisters to open. It was fun listening to them negotiate which present to pick and they actually cooperated very nicely with each other. Everyone got to open the present they really wanted to open although I'm not sure they loved what they got.

Diva Princess got some new feetie pajamas. Last year, her last pair of feeties broke and the tears wouldn't end. This year mom got smart and bought 3 pairs to get us through the winter. It's not easy to find size 10 feetie pajamas!

A new duffle bag for Sunshine....after watching her stuff her basketball gear into an open top bag, we thought it was time she got a new bag to carry her stuff around in. Organization is the key to keeping little Miss Sunshine up and running. Her 2nd gift was a pair of fuzzy socks. Not exactly exciting, but Sunshine does like funky socks. 

Hollywood opened her 2 gifts. She also got some fuzzy, funky socks, but her other gift was the one that made this mom the happiest. A new hair dryer! Every morning Hollywood sneaks into my bathroom and uses my hair dryer. Now maybe she can keep all of her stuff upstairs. 
Princess' 2nd gift was the one she was looking forward to opening the most. She couldn't guess what it was and when I told her it was a two part gift, she nearly burst! Fortunately, Hollywood was in a good mood and let her open that gift. It was the Furrlicious Beanbag from PB Teen. Being the DIVA that she is, she LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it and couldn't stop saying THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

Now it was decision time. After a few texts and checking a few online websites, reality came crashing family time, no 2 for 1 pizza from Little Caesars, no ping pong for me. The day would be lonely and sad. 

No RUN-AROUND-THE-PING-PONG-TABLE with my crazy sisters and fun loving nieces and nephews.  (snif snif)

No giggling, laughing, and teasing with the people who mean the most to me. (whah!) God and my dearly departed parents blessed me with the most wonderful family. 

No riding scooters in the basement or telling stories from our youth about the wild and crazy things we used to do. 

Tangy Tomato Dip from Fitness Magazine
All that was left for me to look forward to was my fireplace, movies with my kids and my DIPS! After I cried my tears over not getting to spend a Traditional Eddington Christmas Eve surrounded by my family, I dove into my dips....and thoroughly enjoyed them! We had the Lime 'n Honey Black Bean Dip with Lime Tortilla Chips....oh my word! What a fabulous combination. 

The Happiest Time of the Year

Let's be honest. There's nothing better than waking up on a weekday morning with no big agenda for the day except spending a glorious day with your family. When I got up this morning, Diva Princess was strangely quiet as she watched one of the Santa Clause movies with Tim Allen. Finally, I had to say "I can't believe you haven't said anything about what day it is." She replied, "I know. I'm trying to stay calm, but my head is exploding!" Ahh, the sweetness of a nine year old.

 I was very late this year in getting my Christmas cards together. When I looked back at our pictures from 2010, I realized we didn't have a single decent family picture with just us.

 So instead we decided to take pictures at home of the family. I thought it would be easier since they are no longer toddlers and weren't crying, but as you can see, they didn't make it easy either.

But it was fun! The girls enjoyed being silly and laughing with each other. These are the memories that will stay with them as they get older.

So from our family to yours, we wish you the Merriest of Christmases!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Coolmax Giveaway on GFTW

Goals for the Week!: COOLMAX® EcoMade Socks Giveaway Extravaganza!

Check out this link for some awesome COOLMAX socks. I have the Funky Rainbow Socks by Injinji! They are awesome!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Julie Julia: The Next Round

I know, I know. You don't want to hear my endless line of excuses for not posting, and especially for not staying on track with the Julie Julia project. I will not bore you with my full calendar. Instead, I will just get back on track and go from where I am today.

With the recent snowfall in Central Illinois, I enjoyed a quite day at home today. I caught up on my laundry, created my workout plan for December and practiced for the Body Flow launch at my fitness center on January 3rd. As I sat down for a few minutes of relaxation, I decided it was time to do some menu planning for the next week at least. With 7th grade basketball over and Madrigals concluding this weekend, our family will actually have an opportunity for all of us to sit together at the dinner table. From the Meal Makeover Moms "No Whine with Dinner," I've selected the following recipes to try for this week.

     Breakfast: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes
     Dinner: Greek Chicken & Chickpea Stew
      Dinner: Crushed Tortilla Chip Casserole
     Dinner: Salmon with Over the Rainbow Brown Rice
Other Snacks for the week:
     Chocolaty Pumpkin Bars
     Banana Zucchini Squiggle Loaf

Wish me successfully make the recipes and to successfully follow my plan!

My December Workout Schedule

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hidden Treasure Shrimp & Shells

I know I should technically be on the second or third round of recipes, but sometimes life happens. Or life happens and you don’t get to the grocery store to buy all of the required ingredients and that small window of opportunity is lost.

After the disaster that was Nest Eggs, this mom was a little gun shy. Between basketball games, speech & madrigals practice, dance and tumbling, I found it hard to get motivated to try anything new with my family dinner. So, I became a slacker providing minimal meals which just needed to be pulled out from the freezer.
Yesterday, however, an emotional show down between me and Sunshine triggered the fact that I couldn’t hide anymore. I had to face the fact that my kids are picky eaters. I even had the sad thought that I like to go out for dinner because we don’t usually have knockdown, drag out fights at a restaurant dinner table. Only at home. We couldn’t act like imbeciles in public! So instead we allow our children to eat unhealthy foods in order to keep the peace.

Not anymore.

Tonight was the night! Sunshine and I agreed to make the Peppermint Meringue Snowballs for us and my world famous chex mix for a class party on Tuesday. The jury is still out on the snowballs since Sunshine just pulled them from the stove; however, we did make the Hidden Treasure Shrimp & Shells for dinner tonight and I must say all and all I will call it a success.

Hidden Treasure Shrimp & Shells
 Now unfortunately, I did not have the complete recipe. I was missing the edamame from the recipe, but in order to make progress on this project, I decided to forge ahead and make the dinner anyway. The recipe was very easy to follow. I am relatively sure I didn't screw this one up.

Hollywood wasn't home from madrigals practice yet, but we decided to sit down to a family dinner anyway. Heck, let's face it with my two picky eaters I could still be sitting at the dinner table anyway waiting for them to finish. As soon as they saw the shrimp, they started grumbling. "Do I have to eat the shrimp?" "Can you leave some of the pasta out of the sauce?" OH well, grumble as they may I was determined to have a peaceful, successful dinner tonight.

Sunhine & Princess each sat down with a small scoop of Hidden Treasure Shrimp & Shells. They survived the first few bites of pasta, but were terrified by the thought of actually eating a shrimp.

"What's the pink stuff? Is that veins?", asked Sunshine.
"I can't do it, mommy. I just can't do it.", whined Princess.

I calmly explained that I heard someone recently say that it takes seven bites in order to determine if you really like something new. "Oh please, mom, don't be that person." cried Sunshine.

Oh yes! I am that person. I had nothing on the agenda for the evening and was more than willing to sit at the dinner table for the rest of the evening until the pasta was gone and shrimp was at least attempted.

Suddenly, like a streak of lightning illuminating the sky, a fork flew by with a shrimp gorged on the end which somehow, magically wound up in Sunshine's mouth. All I could do was look at her in amazement.

"I had to do it fast, mom, because when I went slow I talked myself out of it. I could see all of the veins in the shrimp." I gave Sunshine a high five and congratulated her on the big strides she had just taken. When I asked her if she was going to eat the other shrimp, she said she didn't like the crunchiness of the shrimp. I calmly explained that if she wanted to try a Peppermint Meringue Snowball she was going to need to eat the other shrimp. We stared at the final shrimp for a few minutes and decided he looked like an army guy with his pasta shell as a hat. I tried to take the picture from various angles, but this is all I could come up with.

Our Army Guy Shrimp
After a few moments of careful thought, she quickly stabbed the shrimp and several pieces of pasta and put it all in her mouth without another thought. The hurdle was jumped. The mission complete. The plate was clean.

Princess' eyes welled  up in tears. Now she knew the attention was going to be focused on her. I took this video of her trying to eat the shrimp.

 In the end, Princess didn't like the shrimp. Of course, I don't think she gave it a fair shake either, but we made progress....she ate the shrimp without a HUGE fit. Progress is being made and that is all I can expect. Hollywood, of course, had no problem with the dinner. This was HER pick. For tiny a little pip-squeak, she can certainly eat. She loaded her plate up with the dinner and ate it all.

Hollywood's Dinner Plate -FULL of Hidden Treasure Shrimp & Shells
The Final Ruling:
Sunshine gave it a mixed review. At first, she didn't care for the seasoning, but eventually she got past that. Instead, the mixed review came from the fact that she didn't care for the shrimp, but even a partial thumbs up is a victory indeed!

 Next came Diva Princess. She didn't care for the seasoning at all. AND she didn't like the shrimp. So she gave it a thumbs down, but honestly I don't think she hated it as much as she says she did. There just weren't enough tears for an out and out thumbs down.

And finally we had Hollywood. Remember that full plate? Well, this is a picture of her plate....about halfway through. She finished most of it. Unfortunately, Hollywood needs to learn how to fill her plate by her stomach and not necessarily her eyes!
Hollywood gave the dinner two huge thumbs up! She loved it and I must say that Camo-Man & I agree. I liked the taste. I loved the shrimp and pasta. AND I really loved that it was so easy to make. 
This dinner will definitely be on our menu in the future and maybe, just maybe, we'll start to see those thumbs turn toward the sky as the picky members of our family learn to appreciate a wider variety of foods.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let the Battles Begin

I woke up this morning full of optimism and what I was going to accomplish today. I had my workout planned and altered as needed. I had my work meetings in the front of my mind and then I decided to start my Julie Julia project.

The meal for the day was Nest Eggs. Nothing fancy. A simple recipe of cooked eggs in the center of the bread and lightly drizzled with syrup. I mean who doesn’t like it when their eggs accidently get into the syrup when eating a large breakfast? Now I knew going into this little event that getting Sunshine & Diva Princess to actually open up their mind to these recipes was going to be difficult, but I was very excited about the project and what it could do for our family's dinner time. 

Eggland's Best Eggs
The meal for the day was Nest Eggs. Nothing fancy. A simple recipe of cooked eggs in the center of the bread and lightly drizzled with syrup. I mean who doesn’t like it when their eggs accidently get into the syrup when eating a large breakfast?

I pulled out my ingredients – note the Eggland’s Best Eggs. I’ve bought them off and on over the years because of the Omega 3s, but I tend to be a skeptic and wondered if my family would truly receive the value of the Omega 3s from the eggs. How can you just add a random nutrient to a food product and get the true value from it? However, because the Meal Makeover Moms love them, I have full faith that the product is helpful to my family and especially my picky not-so-little-ones.

My Cut-N-Seal made cutting
the circles easy.
I started my first Nest Eggs by using my Pampered Chef Cut-N-Seal to cut out the center circles of my whole wheat bread and put the bread the eggs on the skillet. Simple as pie, right? 

Sunshine and Diva Princess came down for breakfast. Sunshine was  amazingly quiet when I put the first plate in front of her. Princess asked, "If we try it and don't like it, can we have something else?" Is this a foreboding warning of what was to come? As I started making the second batch of Nest Eggs, Sunshine started poking at her eggs. My lack of foresight could have been the straw that broke the camel's back. One stab into the yolk and the yellow liquid poured over her toast. 
The finished product which I thought
looked pretty good.

The gauntlet had been dropped. 
Sunshine: "Moooom, it's all runny!"
Mom takes a deep breath.  "That's ok. You can have the next one" and I quickly punctured the yolks. I should have predicted that one, but I will claim lack of caffeine for the mistake. 

I presented a second plate to Sunshine and finally a third for Princess. Hollywood was still upstairs as any 15-year old would be trying to get ready for school. I still had plenty of time to prepare her breakfast and put another batch on the griddle. As Sunshine sat at the breakfast counter poking at her eggs, I tried to take a picture of her slightly pouty face, but my life was quickly threatened and I put the camera down. I explained to my little picky eaters that I needed them to eat three bites in order for them to truly give it a try. 

Sunshine said the eggs tasted like rubber, ate two bites and walked away because she needed to get into the shower to tame her wild, curly locks. Princess took one bite of the egg which was hanging outside of the toast and said she had eaten all of the egg. When I tried to explain that the center of the toast was actually egg, she was momentarily fascinated, but said the eggs didn't taste like her eggs. After five minutes of begging, pleading and cajoling her to give it true try, I sent Princess off to get ready for school. 

I decided to take a bite of Princess' Nest Eggs and I have to say that I agree. They don't taste the same, but why? Well, in my early morning haste, I turned the burner up a little higher....therefore, lightly over-toasting the bread and yet still under cooking the eggs. At that time, I remembered Hollywood's Nest Eggs which were still on the stove....burnt to a crisp. 

Ahhh, a great start to the day. Aggravation with 2 of my kids for their lack of open mindedness, disappointment that my one good eater would not even have a chance to try the recipe and a house full of a light smoky haze. 

What I learned from our first escapade into our Julie Julia venture:

1) Never try to introduce new foods at breakfast before school. In my disappointment and honestly - anger, I started our morning off on the wrong foot. I do not like taking my children to school when I am seething with pent up hostility. Trying new foods on a school day when we have limited time is definitely not a wise plan. In the future, breakfast recipes will be saved for the weekends or used as a special "Breakfast for Dinner" night. 

2) Don't turn the burner up too high cause no matter what no one will care for the results.

3) Just because mommy has bought into the idea of a new food project, it doesn't necessarily mean that my children have. I need to find a way to communicate to my kids the importance of keeping an open mind about food while not turning the discussion into a verbal war of words. 

On the way to school after a few calming moments, I tried to explain to my daughters that I am concerned for their health. Their typical breakfast would normally include either frozen waffles (with light or sugar free syrup) or a sugar laden cereal such as cinnamon toast crunch which always makes me cringe. At one point my Sunshine loved a certain pancake which included a sweet potato puree from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. To this day, she does not know what is in them and honestly, she doesn't want to know. However, I found it takes a lot of time to cook the sweet potatoes, puree them, cool and/or freeze them and then to bake the pancakes. 

My mind whirled with ways to make this process easier. Part of me wanted to ignore this blog and not even write about my disastrous foray into whineless meals, but then I thought I needed to give an honest report on what happened in my home this morning. The resulting chaos had less to do with the recipe and more to do with my poor choices and lack of cooking skills....even for a simple egg. 

I'm debating cooking the Nest Eggs again tonight for dinner turning down the burner and taking my time. In addition, I've also thought about just making each part of the recipes and keeping the toast separate from the egg due to the fact that my daughters don't care for mixed foods. Maybe if I take this one step at a time, I will have a better result. 

I know I have a long road ahead of me. Part of me knows I've created this mess that I am currently in with my children, but the other part knows that I don't typically offer processed pre-packaged foods to my kids and yet they have grown accustomed  to these processed sugar & sodium laden foods. I am trying to make changes within my home, but I also feel frustrated about society in general which will reinforce my daughters poor eating habits. When they were younger, I didn't want to have the dinner time battles we had during my childhood between my dad and my younger brother. I want peaceful dinners and to NOT create certain eating disorders within my children. Instead I feel I have failed and I'm still fighting to have a peaceful dinner time meal where I can have all 3 of my kids at least give the food on their plate a fair shake.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Julie Julia Week 1 Recipes

My three princesses have picked the first week of recipes for my Julie Julia makeover from the Meal Makeover Moms. Of course, there was a snag to start it all off. 

Sunshine, aka Lead Picky Leader, chose three breads/desserts as her first 3 recipes. Grrr. When I asked her to look at the cook book, I skipped the requirement of picking 1 breakfast/lunch item, 1 dinner item and one other item. Nonetheless, mommy will persevere.

Round 1:
Princess chose the Nest Eggs for a breakfast item. Naturally, Princess loves eggs and toast. Throw in some syrup and we've got a yummy breakfast. This recipe seems to be within my cooking abilities and I'm quite optimistic about it.

Hollywood chose Hidden Treasure Shrimp & Shells. When I asked her to pick her recipe of the week, she simply stated, "Just look for anything with shrimp and that will be fine." She's a seafood junky. How will the other two take it? Well, they tend to like plain pasta and occasionally will eat fish. So there is some small glimmer of hope. 

Sunshine chose Peppermint Meringue Snowballs for a dessert item. Hahah. No surprise. Now this recipe scares me. Meringues? Really? Doesn't she realize her mommy has limited cooking abilities? I have to say they sound delicious. So I guess I'm up for the challenge. 

Let the cooking begin! I will be making the meringues over the weekend because I'm sure they will stress me out and require way more time than necessary. The Hidden Treasure Shrimp & Shells will be our dinner on Thursday night since that is the only night when Hollywood will be home before 7 pm from Madrigals and dance team practice. Nest eggs ? If I wake up and I'm fully aware tomorrow morning, I can make the Nest Eggs for breakfast tomorrow. 

It should be an interesting week trying to get my Julie Julia Project started. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Health Nuts Unite!

According to my 12-year old daughter, Sunshine, her mom is a HEALTH NUT. Since when did regular exercise and trying to eat right make me a nut? Just because I haven't eaten at McDonald's in almost two years doesn't mean I'm the one who has lost her marbles. Hey, I'm no bean pole. I still have a few pounds to lose (10- count them - 10 agonizing pounds!!!!) 

Only 6% of Americans get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.  Maybe it's the 2/3 of Americans who are the nuts and not me. 

Obesity Related Statistics in America**

Did you know?
  • Obesity is the #2 cause of preventable death in the United States
  • 60 million Americans, 20 years and older are obese
  • 9 million children and teens ages 6-19 are overweight
  • Being overweight or obese increases the risk of health conditions and diseases including: Breast cancer, Coronary heart disease, Type II diabetes, Sleep apnea, Gallbladder disease, Osteoarthritis, Colon cancer, Hypertension and Stroke
** According to the Get America Fit Foundation

Obesity is the leading cause of higher healthcare costs. Being overweight only makes our wallets skinny. Costs related to obesity represents 9.1% of all medical spending. If you are obese, you can expect to spend 42% more on healthcare than a person of normal weight.  Obese Americans spend about $1,429 more on health care each year than normal-weight Americans. 

I repeatedly hear that it's expensive to eat healthy. BUT at the cost of $1,429 annually for healthcare costs + missed work due to illness + a shortened life span, I think we can afford to eat a little better and exercise a little more. If those costs don't inspire you to get off of your duff, I don't know what will. If two-thirds of all Americans can afford almost $1,500 for health care costs each year, wouldn't that money be better spent on eating healthy foods & a gym membership? 

I'm not saying that losing weight is easy. In American society, it's very hard to lose weight when you are constantly confronted with marketing ads for calorie laden foods on the television, in your magazines and on the radio. But the long term gains are soooo worth the uphill battle. 

Wouldn't two-thirds of Americans love to play outside with their children? Wouldn't two-thirds of Americans love to ride on a roller coaster or in an airplane without worry of being told they are too big for the seat? Exercise releases endorphins into your body which relieves pain, enhances the immune system, reduces stress and delays the aging process. Who doesn't want to stay young?? 

I don't have the answer. If I did, I wouldn't still have 10 pounds to lose. All I can say is go outside or to your local gym and take a walk and keeping walking for 20-30 minutes and then think about how you feel. Write it down. Savor the moment. Because you will need that motivation again tomorrow when I ask you to get up and get moving again. 

For once in your life, Be in the minority. Be better than 94% of all Americans and make exercise a priority in your life. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Algebra on a Dolce

Sometimes it's the littlest things in life that make me the happiest. Wednesday night I met other members of the T3 group to start a Winter Cycling Program.

Lesson #1: Try your trainer out before you actually plan to start your workouts. I started pedaling on that dumb thing and realized my legs were so out of shape. Heck, I felt like I was pushing through mud and that was just in the warm-up. On top of that, I could adjust the resistance on the trainer, but I honestly couldn't tell which end of the spectrum had the most resistance.

Lesson #2: Don't ride your trainer for the first time in a room full of macho, speed riders. I guess I thought the trainer would feel just like it does when I ride on the road. The first portion was a 10 minute warm-up followed by 1 minute intervals at 80-85%. As soon as my legs started moving in the warm up, I could tell this was going to be a tough workout. I needed to do a warm up and then have a few minutes to stretch and then resume my time on the bike, but in a group situation it's tough to stop and make everyone else wait for you.

Lesson #3: Learn how to set your bike up on the trainer before the first group ride. I arrived a little late for the group ride and as I was getting my shoes out of my van, my fine T3 teammates set my bike up in the trainer for me. Chivalry is not dead! At the end of the work out, I was chatting with some of my fellow bikers and someone else took my bike off the trainer and carried it to my car. Wow! So sweet! Maybe it's not so bad to ride with a bunch of macho, speed racers.
Dolce on a Trainer thanks to Camo-Man

On Friday morning as I was taking the kids to school, I pulled out of my garage and saw this.
It is the little things in life that make me happiest. Camo-man knew I was worried about setting my trainer up for the first time. He took time out of his hunting preparation Thursday night to set my Dolce up in my trainer. Now I know I need to take the time to learn how to set up my trainer and I WILL! I just tend to procrastinate a bit. But until I do, it's nice to know that Camo-Man is out there and does what he can to make sure I am not stressed out about my workouts.

I tried to read the cycling plan by myself this morning.(Remember? I admitted that I procrastinate.) It was like looking in an algebra textbook for the first time. WU: 10' 75% + 5' 85. MS: 3x10 (2' B) 1st 75% 2nd 85% 3rd 95%. How would you solve for B?

Needless to say I need to work on my cadence. But that's what training is for - it's a chance to identify your weaknesses of which I have many and try to make them your strengths.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Workout Plan for November

Two years ago when I started training for triathlons I discovered one important key: planning my workouts. Skipping workouts was always easy before I started working my plan. You see I would skip one workout. And the reduce the amount of work in the next one and then suddenly my goal or deadline day would arrive and I would find myself unprepared. 
When I started competing in races, I discovered the art of the Excel spreadsheet for planning m workouts. I downloaded a yearly calender from Vertex, compared the days and weeks ahead to my personal calender and started plugging workouts into the spreadsheet. I don't necessarily go into the specifics on the Excel spreadsheet due to lack of space. Plus, I tend to follow existing plans for my training workouts. 

For swimming, I'm following the Learn To Swim plans on Beginner Triathlete. For biking, the T3 group is also following a bike plan on Beginner Triathlete. For running, ....hello, running plan? Well, I know what my goals are. I just need to find the right plan to get me there. I want to increase my speed. I have the book "Run Less Run Faster". From that book, I will develop my training plan. I just need to get it locked and loaded!

So far I've stuck to my plan. I usually look at it each Sunday to see if there is anything in my schedule creating a conflict. I don't know, but if I get all of this exercise in I should be one lean, mean machine! I'm sure some where in there a rest day will come up. I usually listen to my body fairly well and take it easy when it talks to me. My tentative November schedule is included below. 

By the way, I started working on the abs track for Body Flow 50. Now I know why I chose to work on that one next. My abs are SOOOO weak! I am going to need the next few weeks and months just to strengthen my abs to a point where I can role model the abs segment. As of now, I can't completely elevate my shoulders and upper back off the floor when I should be. Grrr. I hate abs. I guess it's time to focus on yet another another weak part of my body. 

MMM: Meet the Judges

Good things come in small packages. That's the saying, right? Imagine my surprise when I opened my special delivery from our local postmaster. Drum roll please......

I know of at least one person who is excited (ME ME ME ME!); however, I must say not everyone in our family was excited about mommy's new project. So, I thought it would be appropriate to have you meet the judges and see if mommy can predict how well this whole venture will go. 

I've asked each of my daughters to select a recipe which we will begin making next week (Nov 8th). For each recipe, they will be required to eat at least 3 bites and when the meal is complete, they will give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down on each recipe. As long as we can stick to the plan, we'll complete all 15o recipes in 50 weeks. This is my Julie Julia project.


Our Julie Julia Judges: Hollywood, Diva Princess in front,
Me, Camo-Man, & Sunshine

First, I'll give you a little run down on me. I'm the active mommy who likes to plan healthy meals for my kids, but somehow in our busy lives they don't always get implemented. I'm constantly struggling to find new methods to make this crazy life of mine more sane when it comes to balancing nutrition and exercise.

Camo-Man: As of this Saturday, my dear hubby and I will have been married for 17 years. Camo-Man is not a picky eater. All he wants to know is that there will be a meal of some sort on the table. He doesn't particularly care what it is. Just so long as we have a family meal.  Camo-Man would be happy eating hamburgers with fries or pizza every night of the week. He doesn't particularly care to watch calories or fat grams. He simply wants food on the plate which he can enjoy. Of course, he'd also be happy if the meal contained his weekly hunting kill and that is not my favorite meal. Ack!

Hollywood: Oh if the dear Lord in Heaven had given me three fantastic eaters like Hollywood I would not have a care in the world. If given a choice between cookies and a bowl of fruit, Hollywood would pick the fruit. She's very good at trying various foods and rarely turns her nose up at anything I put in front of long as it's not too freaky looking or overcooked. And, yes, that happens.

Sunshine: Otherwise known as The Lead Picky Eater. My theory with Sunshine is that she came into this world at a time when our family was participating in meat locker delivery service. We would get various steaks and chicken breasts delivered every other month. So what do you think she likes? Grilled meats. She's not like most kids. She doesn't care for dipping sauces. She doesn't even like ketchup. So casseroles are difficult. She's finally tried fish a time or two and I've had some success there, but that is only on a rare, good moment. On the topic of produce, you can forget it. She used to eat strawberries and I couldn't figure out why at the age of five she wouldn't eat them anymore. She very sweetly looked at me one day at the dinner table and explained, "But momma, taste-es change". Hmmm, maybe they will change again. 

Diva Princess: My 2nd picky eater. If she knew what it meant, she would probably claim that she is vegan, except she doesn't really eat vegetables. Apparently, I've done something wrong as a mom and cook. When she was younger, Diva Princess would eat more. At one dinner meal when Sunshine was staying at a friend's house, Diva Princess took a look a Hollywood, saw her eating and just gave it a try. Unfortunately, when Sunshine is around pouting about food, Princess tends to follow suit. Now I call her my all carb girl. She's reverted to eating like a toddler preferring mac-n-cheese over just about anything else. 

I grew up as a picky eater. I didn't eat salads until someone made fun of me and even then it took a bit. After a while, I decided to give salads a try and now I eat one just about every day. My theory is that my kids should be exposed to healthy foods, but I am not going to force them to eat everything on their plate. As they mature, I hope they will choose to eat more healthy meals just as I did. Unfortunately, I am battling a society who loads their food down with sodium and sugar. Naturally, they chose to eat what they "know" - salty or sugary foods. Kids are exposed to snacks at just about every event they attend. Snacks at choir. Treats after tumbling. Snacks at Awanis. I used to go round and round with Sunshine. If she didn't eat, her only option was a fruit or vegetable. She would choose an apple which is great, but then she would leave the house for an activity and they would provide pre-packaged foods to my children! How am I supposed to battle this when every person out there thinks children need to eat at every activity?

So, here I am today with 3 daughters, two of which won't eat most of the food I put on their plates. I've purchased "No Whine with Dinner" from the Meal Makeover Moms in order to expose my family to healthy food without intimidating by the strangeness of the ingredients.   I'm hoping that by getting them involved with the selection of recipes, the preparing of the food and judging of the result they will start to buy into a somewhat healthier attitude towards. 

Here's hoping. It's definitely going to be an uphill battle. 

Monday, November 1, 2010


After a long three day weekend consisting of  nine hours of training each day, I am officially on my way to being a Les Mills Body Flow Instructor. Who would have thought that little ol' me, at the age of 42 nonetheless, would pursue a 3rd, 4th or 5th career as a group fitness instructor?

OK, so maybe it's not such a long shot.

Last May I went for training in RPM. That training didn't go very well. I started day 1 of training with a sinus headache. After taking a decongestant, I sat in the corner of the room staring at the dust balls rather than absorbing anything the trainer said. I don't know why but decongestants really make me loopy. I passed the class, but I can't say that I learned much. To complicate matters, we didn't expand our fitness center as quickly as I was expecting. So I trained on RPM back in May and haven't practiced the tracks once since. I've attended RPM class at another facility, but I have not taken one single step to learn the choreography.

After four months of disappointment, I was really beginning to doubt whether my small fitness center in our quaint little town would ever have Les Mills classes. Until this weekend.

I entered the training with a pessimistic attitude. I left the training in love with a program which I never thought I would truly enjoy. You see I'm a cardio girl. I like to bike and run and even throw in a little swimming here and there. Who has time for all of those fluffy tai chi moves? Yoga? Naw, I'm flexible. I'm strong. I'm quite proud to say that I can still do the splits - on both side even. Strength? I've got that covered. I lift weights 2-3 times per week now that the weather is turning colder. And pilates? Oh H-E-double hockey sticks-NO! I hate ab work more than anything else in the whole world. I love to work my back, but my abs? No, I'd rather stick needles in my eyes.

Until I met FLOW....err, I mean Body Flow. I discovered peace and tranquility while do my Tai Chi. I discovered sweat rolling down my back and chest as I tried to complete the standing strength track. I discovered that I actually do have abdominals and while I still don't love working the dumb things, I felt slimmer and more toned today than I had in a while.

So, while I still have a ton to learn about the "athletic mix of tai chi, yoga and pilates" which is called Body Flow here in the U.S., but Body Balance just about every where else in the world, I am excited to start learning my tracks and get the de-conditioned members of my quaint little town moving toward a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Creative People

I used to be creative. NO, really, I did. I used to make all sorts of crafts. I used to cross stitch. I used to scrapbook. I used to SELL scrapbooking supplies. My scrapping room hasn't seen hide nor hair of me since last April. It makes me sad and yet I'm very happy with my priorities right now: my health and my family.

Laptop Lunch box available on
However, on rare moments, the sadness won't go away....and one of them is right now. I read a Bento box blog called "Another Lunch". She makes me feel sad and quite inadequate. I could only wish to be this creative....or have that much time to be that creative....or to have the desire to spend that much time in the kitchen preparing the creative food.

Once upon a time, I would have come up with these fantastic ideas...or maybe a slightly less extravagant version. Instead, I will have to enjoy reading about someone else's explorations in the kitchen and copy when I can.  

The Art of Bi-Lateral Breathing

For the last six years, I watched my daughters compete on recreation and competitive swim teams. I can remember sitting in the stands wondering why she wasn't going faster. Why is she taking so many breaths? Oh the thoughts that ran through my head. 

As a part of my off season training, I've vowed to work on BLB, or Bi-Lateral Breathing. As a part of my BLB training, I'm going back to the basics and following Sara McLarty's Learning How to Swim workouts. Today I completed Workout 3 of Week 1 while focusing on BLB. 

Workout #3  800 Total
  • 100 warm up swim                  :60 seconds rest
  • 4x75 (25 kick/50 swim)           With :45 seconds rest between each 75
  • 4x75 pull                                  With :30 seconds rest between each 75
  • 100 cool down swim
By the end of the workout, I think I gained five pounds due to the amount of water I inhaled. Breath left, stroke, stroke, breath right, choke, choke. 

According to an article on TriFuel, the most common fault is to under roll on your non-breathing side. 
This under-rolling can lead to less power as you don’t finish your swim stroke as strongly as you could if you were on your breathing side. Bi-lateral breathing helps you smooth out the stroke, keeps you balanced, and in some cases lets you swim in a straighter line. 
Swim a straight line? I always veer to the left. Could it be because I breath on the left and my left side stroke is stronger? Definitely!

Key points to take note of: Roll to the right, finish your stroke and the result will be to swim in a straight(er) line. 

So as frustrating as it may be I will continue to work on BLB. Over time, I know it will get easier and my body won't have to purge five pounds of water weight after each swim.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Be Flexible!

The key to any plan is to BE FLEXIBLE! Life always seems to throw in a curve ball. So you must be ready to make the adjustment and move forward. Yesterday I planned on playing two matches of volleyball and getting a start on my swim workouts from Beginner Triathlete.


For some reason, volleyball was running behind and I didn't get done playing until 6:40 and the pool closes at 7 pm. Grrrr. Could I have gotten a quick swim in? Yah, but picture a sweaty body trying to wrangle itself into a swimming suit. Not a pretty picture. So, I had to be satisfied with the two hours of volleyball and save the swimming for Monday. 

I started my Monday morning off with a nice hearty breakfast of 1/3 cup of scrambled eggs & oatmeal followed by Body Flow- a yoga, Tai Chi, pilates class from Les Mills. Monday night I ran up to the fitness center and did some upper body strength training and then Camo-Man and I went for a swim. We did the first workout from Sara McLarty's Learning how to Swim article on Beginner Triathlete. For some reason, a simple 100 yard warm-up was killing me tonight. (Could it be because my arms were brought to the point of exhaustion thanks to the upper body strength training? Could it be because my erector spinae were fatigued due to the number of back bends I did today?)

Yes to all of the above, but I've really been focusing on bilateral breathing and I think that is why the swim seemed so difficult. The first 50 yards felt natural - until I discovered I was not taking in enough oxygen on my right side! I guess that is why we are in off season for swimming. It's time to work on the technique and hopefully improve my swim time. 

Tonight's swim workout:(You wouldn't believe how quickly 30 seconds goes by)

Workout #1  600 total
  • 100 warm up swim                  :60 seconds rest
  • 6 x 25 (2 kick, 2 pull, 2 swim)  with :30 seconds rest between each 25
  • 100 swim                                 :60 seconds rest
  • 6 x 25 (2 kick, 2 pull, 2 swim)  with :30 seconds rest between each 25
  • 100 cool down swim
I'm home from my workout and enjoying my glass of wine. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully, the day will start right with a normal blood sugar and then we can march forward from there....but as always I'll be ready to shift gears and accept what the day may bring. 

Training Plans

Now that I've finished my Wine & Dine Half Marathon I'm moving into off season mode and need to create some new goals for myself. Off season is a great time to work on technique and build speed for triathletes as well as including some strength training. Here's my plan for all three parts of the triathlon.

As for running, I still have a few races I'm considering doing this fall, but the distances will be shorter and I've decided it's time to work on my speed.

Here are a few of the fall races I'm considering:
Canal Connection 10k on 11/7/10

The boy scouts might doing a 5k in my small little town on 11/20

My niece wants to do the Stuff ‘N Puff 5k on 11/27/10

Camo-Man wants to do the Jingle Bell 5k in Peoria 12/4/10

I will probably end up doing them all if possible. As I've said a million times, it's not about going out to win the race. It's about having a deadline and knowing I have to be prepared for race day. These races will definitely help to make sure I'm working on my running up until the very midst of the hectic holiday season. 

Yesterday I ran 4 miles at an average pace of 9:36/mile. My goal by the end of the year is to get my pace:
1st - below 9:30/mile
2nd - to 9/mile

I'm going to check out some interval workouts to increase my speed over the next few months instead of working on the longer distance runs. 

Last night while trolling through Beginner Triathlete, I found an article series by Sara McLarty on Learning how to Swim. Now since I've been doing triathlons for two years, one would think that I already know how to swim; however, because I am cheap and have never taken a swim lesson or hired a swim coach, I still have lots of doubts on my technique. Since we are heading into the off season for triathlons, I thought following this plan would be a good idea for Camo-Man and I as we focus on our swim. The plan starts off relatively easy and the drills make sense to me. No big words which I don't understand! Tonight will be the first night I put the swimming plan into place. 

As for cycling, Tremont Triathlon Team will be offering a group winter cycling program using indoor trainers which will begin November 1st and run for 17 weeks all the way through the end of March. I'm really excited about this program because I know I have lots of room for improvement on the bike. Since you start riding a bike at about age 5, one would think it would be an easy task to master; however, when it comes to triathlon and the difference that even a few seconds can make, a little know how and experience goes a long way. 

I'm still tweeking my schedule and trying to figure out how I'm going to fit it all in. The good thing is that I have lots of options to do this on my own if I can't make it to the group training. I'll be mapping out my workouts for October and November soon and posting them here for everyone to see. I hope you come along with me and make this winter a very ACTIVE winter so you can be the healthiest version of you yet.