How Do You Find the Time?

"How do you find the time?"

I get asked that question a lot and I really don't know the answer. I know that I just do the thing that I get enjoyment from and the things that need to be done.

A single parent, a working professional, someone who loves to read, knit, craft and create, someone who is working really hard to create a good life for herself and her kids. I know I'm not the only one out there, and I enjoy reading the blogs of others, so I thought, "well, why not?" So here we go!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Week of the Restart

So it's been ages since I've posted, and while I've not lost any more weight, I've not gained either.    However, I've really been struggling over the past few weeks, and decided to go back and look to see what I was doing when I was losing.   Here's what I found:

1. I was doing meal planning every week. I would identify what I was going to cook and what we would have for dinner each night. That way, even if I got home late and was ravenous, I wouldn't stand at the refrigerator thinking, "what do I eat?" I would eat as planned, which helped me not overindulge.

2. I was tracking EVERYTHING that went into my mouth. Even if if wasn't great. I logged it.

3. At least one of my meals a day consisted of a Big Ass Salad. That might mean that I had whatever the entree was on top of my salad, but it was salad.

4. I was doing a LOT more cardio. I was working out at least 5 days per week, and 2 - 3 of those days was cardio, with a bit of weights.

Then I looked at what I'm doing now. Not 1, 2, 3, or 4. Hmmmm....

I think it's pretty simple what I need to do.

So here's what I've done today:

1. Planned meals for this week. Tonight I'm making something called Hungarian Gulyás, found here:
 I'm also going to make this: 
 And later this week, I'll make this

2. Today I have tracked everything - before I eat it!

3. I'll be having a BAS for dinner tonight

4. Today I did 70 minutes of cardio - I rowed for 30 minutes/5000 meters; and did a 5K on the elliptical - right at 40 minutes.

5. I purchased and have prepped salad stuff for this week, so that I'm not having a hard time prepping and preparing lunches and dinners.

6. My plan for exercise this week:
Monday: MMA Class
tuesday: rest day
Wednesday: Kickboxing Class
Thursday: Cardio and weights (this could shift to a rest day, in which case, Sunday will be cardio and weights.
Friday: Workout with trainer - Cardio and weights
Saturday: Kickboxing class
Sunday: Rest day

So, it's onto the week of the reset. I've put all of the above into a word document that is being taped to my bathroom mirror. I also put the graphic I shared earlier this week on my mirror.

*edited to add:    The Hungarian Gulyas (Goulash?)   is EXCELLENT!    A definite Keeper

Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's a Wrap!

As the year 2012 comes to a close, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on the past year and thinking about how different my life is from a year ago.    

A year ago, I was sedentary.    Very sedentary.    Climbing a flight of stairs was so tough.   I would get winded, and would then take a long time to catch my breath again.    I was tired all the time.   If I went out shopping, I would have to sit down to rest when I got home.    I was focused on food – what to make, what to prepare, when the next meal was going to happen, if we should go out to eat, what we might eat, what we could snack on.  

Clothing was another matter.    Almost nothing in my closet fit.    I remember buying some pants and a sweater a year ago – size 4X!   That amazes me even now, but was very discouraging to me then.    The funny thing was, I didn’t see it when I looked in the mirror.   Denial?  Skewed body image?  
I think that buying that size 4X was one of the things that helped me decide that I had to make some changes.   The other was that I was so tired all the time.    Another was that I was watching my kids gain weight.   Earlier in the fall, I had called the new Lifetime Fitness and inquired about rates, etc.    I never was able to go in there for a tour, but on New Year’s Eve of 2011, I took a phone call from one of the membership consultants at LTF and for some reason, I agreed to join. 
When I walked into the LTF building on January 1, I was very self-conscious.   I weighed over 300 pounds and knew that I needed to be there, but it was so hard.   I felt like everyone was looking at me, judging me, and staring at me.   We went upstairs and met the personal trainers, and I felt much better.    We met Moses, and he immediately made me feel comfortable.    He was friendly, encouraging, and never made me feel like I didn’t belong.   In fact, everyone we met there was warm and welcoming.

The next day the boys and I did our intake assessments.    We talked individually with the trainers about our goals and then we set up some group training sessions with Moses.      I remember our first training session with him, and the workout wasn’t too terrible.   He told us that he wanted to work on core strengthening with us and he made me feel like he was invested in our success.  One of the first workouts was 55 minutes of core strengthening and then I swam 10 laps.    We would also do some exercises at home, planks for 30 seconds, side planks, wall squats, bridges, reverse bridges on a ball and leg lifts.  
During that first week of January, I set some goals (not resolutions) for myself.    They are as follows:
1.       Lose 5 pounds per month – total of 60 pounds for the year
2.       Exercise 5 – 7 days per week
3.       Less time on computer, more time doing other productive things
4.       Organize house
5.       Make 50 things this year – 1 per week and keep track! (this did NOT happen – ha!)
6.       Daily log of food and exercise.

One of the other things that I did was to look at examples of people who have been successful in weight loss.    I happened upon the blog of a young woman who has lost 130 pounds and has kept it off for over 3 years.   One of the things that she does every day is have a big salad for lunch.    I decided to do the same and started incorporating this habit into my life.

Another thing that I did that was very beneficial to me was to access the metabolic testing that is offered at LTF.     During the course of the testing, I was told that I wasn’t eating enough food and that I needed to up my caloric intake by 500 calories per day.   I did so, and moved beyond a plateau I had been sitting on.    I recently re-tested and was told to eat 200 more calories per day and more on the days I work out as my metabolism has increased!

As we continued working out, I started losing weight.     I made a decision early on that I was not going to focus on the weight loss, but instead focus on building new habits into my life and eating better.    I knew that if I kept working out and eating right, the weight loss would follow.    I got stronger and more able to do things.     One day when we were working out in the gym, I saw a kickboxing class going on.    I asked Moses if he thought I could do that, and he said he did, and then had me talk to Rus, the instructor.  

A couple of weeks later, I went to a Thai Kickboxing class taught by Rus.    It was so hard and I thought I was going to die at a couple of points, but I finished and managed to complete the class, even though I had to make some modifications.    There was no way I could do a burpee, and at the beginning of the class, I could not run with everyone else, but Rus was so encouraging and welcoming and I knew I could come back.  Rus continues to push me and encourage me in every class.     

Over the course of the year, I have gotten so much stronger.    I can now run at the beginning of the Mixed Combat Arts (MCA) classes.     I take the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) class, which is really really hard, and I love all of the MCA classes, boxing, kickboxing, Capoeira and MMA are all high on my list.   In fact, I usually take the MCA classes 4 times per week.   In September, I took part in our school Jog-A-Thon.   In 2011, I was barely able to walk around the field once.   In 2012, I did 10 miles!    We have a parent volunteer at our school who teaches fitness classes for us once a week, and I am able to participate in those classes.   I can hold a plank for 2 minutes, I can do burpees  (not just one), I can jump rope for 2 minutes without feeling like I am dying, and just the other day, I bench pressed 100 pounds!!   On January 1, I am participating in the Commitment Day 5K!

In July, I stared working with a new trainer, Alex Freig.    Alex has pushed me and helped me to become even stronger.    He cheers me on and makes suggestions to help me out.  Once, when I was starting to focus on the scale, he suggested that I stay off the scale for a week.    I did that, and then stayed off it for a month.    He’s been a great cheerleader and champion and challenges me.    He encouraged me to enroll in the Commitment Day 5K.   I value his input and feedback.  
Today I am wearing shirts that are now XL, not 4X.    The sweater I bought a year ago can wrap around me almost twice.   I’ve dropped down 4 sizes in pants!    I’ve had to buy new underwear twice!     I’ve lost 70 pounds!   My kids are healthier too.   They have both lost weight and gotten taller.   They look great and are wearing smaller clothes too!   

We eat so differently too.     We always have fruit in the house.   None of us eat the quantities of food that we used to.   We all eat more vegetables and very little in the way of processed foods.     I find that I can no longer eat pork.    I think it’s too rich for me.    I prefer to eat chicken or turkey or fish as opposed to beef, and I find that I am not as focused on food as something that provides pleasure, but rather as something to fuel my body.       I may think about eating something, but then I know that it’s going make me not feel good, so it’s easier for me to pass it by.

I don’t fully know and understand what happened to help me hear that click, but I know that part of what has allowed me to be successful this year was my determination that I was not going to focus on losing weight, but instead focus on living a healthy lifestyle.   The other thing that has helped me is that there are so many people who support me and cheer me on, from my kiddos, one who said, “Mom, I can put my arms around you now,” to my friends and colleagues who continue to support me and show excitement, to Rus and Alex, who know how to push and challenge me, to my family, to people I exercise with, and many more.    Being very public about my journey has also been an important component.   It may sounds silly, but I “check in” on Facebook when I go to exercise, and I also belong to a group of people on Facebook who make monthly commitments about exercise and food.    All of those structures also help me to be accountable.

I still have more weight to lose, but I know that as long as I keep doing the things that I know help me to be healthy  - work out 5 days per week, make good food choices – will continue to help me lose the weight.  
I’m still pondering my goals for 2013, but I know that they will include the following:
1.       Exercise 5 days per week
2.       Make good food choices

Life is good!

Before Pictures - July 2011

 After Pictures - December 30, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Is it June already?

Hello!   It's been a while since I've posted here!   We had something great for dinner last night and I wanted to capture it!    First off though - reporting in on Project Fitness 2012:

So far, I have lost 35 pounds!    I've had to go through my closet and purge a lot of things that did not fit anymore.    I'm working out at least 5 days per week and am working towards my goal of climbing the Manitou Incline sometime this summer.    I feel much better!!!!

This is a pile of clothes that no longer fit - all TOO BIG!

So last night for dinner, we had Shrimp Spring Rolls.   They were healthy, delicious, very fresh and tasty and easy to make.    I found a couple of recipes online and adjusted them to suit what I had and what I wanted.    You can check here and here to see the webpage references.

So here's what I did:

Shrimp Spring Rolls

Pickled Carrots:   (you could use other veggies too - broccoli slaw would be good)
1/2 cup rice-wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups shredded carrots

Combine rice vinegar, sugar, and water in a small saucepan.   Heat and stir until sugar dissolves, remove from heat and pour over veggies.   Refrigerate at least an hour but longer is fine too

Peanut Sauce: 
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sweet white miso
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

I did not have miso, so I skipped it and I used siracha instead of red pepper flakes.   Add to your taste!    I put all of the above ingredients in the food processor and mixed them all together

Cooked Shrimp
Pickled veggies

I really think you could use whatever appeals to you though.   Cucumber would probably be good or broccoli slaw, bean sprouts, essentially whatever floats your boat!

Making the Spring Rolls:
 Put a small amount of warm water in a pie plate.   Dip the dried spring roll wrapper* in the water.   Many recipes say to leave it in the water until it's completely soft, but I found a website that advocated just keeping it in the water until it just barely starts to soften.   That seemed to work well and the wrappers did not tear.

Place the softened wrapper on a plate.   Place some lettuce on the wrapper and top with your ingredients.   The lettuce seemed to help the wrapper hold together.    Add filling as you see fit.    You can put the sauce inside the roll or dip it.   Don't overfill the roll!  

Fold one end of wrapper over the ingredients, and then fold the sides in and roll it up.   You want to roll it tightly!    Make as many as you want to eat!   Enjoy!

*Spring roll wrappers are purchased dry.    I found them at my local grocery store.    You may have to go to a specialty store if you can't find them in your local market.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Another Great Recipe, Stats and This Week's Menu

I don't think I posted my plan for last week, but I have it for this week, along with a successful recipe and some great stats!

First off, lets start with the really really good news.    I was at the doctor at the beginning of the week and the results of my bloodwork were amazing!  In October, my total cholesterol number was 148, but my HDL was only 20 and my LDL was 128.    Last week, my total cholesterol number was 145, but my HDL was 46 and my LDL was 99!!!!  The doctor was amazed and said that he's never seen such a change so quickly.   He took me off of one of my medications and looked up information on chromium supplements for me.   I'm now taking 200 mcg of chromium picolonate daily - half in the morning and half in the evening. 

Also, I'm down 21 pounds from January!   Yay me!   The scale had not moved in a while, but this week really started moving.   I'm feeling stronger physically and able to do more, but still not those darn burpees.   I shall conquer burpees soon!    Today we were jumping rope and there was a significant difference in what I was able to do as compared to the last time we jumped rope.    I've also started lifting weights and doing zone cardio workouts.    I am really pumped and excited about the progress I'm making and how I am feeling!

So as I'm planning meals, I'm finding that I'm gravitating to easy but nutritious meals.    I tried this salad last night and it was great. 

Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad from here.

This is a great summer salad - very fresh and light, but has good protein in it.

Yield: 1-2 servings.
  • One 15-oz can chickpeas (2 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped finely
  • Juice from 1.5 limes
  • 3/4 cup fresh Cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt + ground pepper

1. In a food processor, add the spinach and pulse a few times until chopped very small. Add the processed spinach, drained chickpeas, and chopped onion into a large bowl.
2. In the food processor (no need to rinse the bowl!), add the lime juice, cilantro, mustard, sugar, garlic, cumin, and oil. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. Pour the dressing on top of the spinach chickpea mixture and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for about 10 minutes to let the flavors develop. Serve over a bed of grains, like brown rice. Serves 1-2.

I made this pretty much as is - didn't add or subtract any ingredients.   I used the juice of one lime and used straight yellow mustard as I didn't have any dijon and didn't want to run to the store!  My food processor is also broken so I used a little manual chopper thing that I have and it seemed to work fine.    We really enjoyed it!

I want to try it again with basil.   I think that would be really good too, and I know that there are some people who don't really like cilantro.

And finally, here's the menu plan for the week, including last night:

Panini Sandwiches – turkey breast, provolone and avocado
Cilantro lime chickpea salad
Grilled Chicken
Fumi Salad

Monday - Healthy Chicken Gyros from here.

Tuesday – district Choir concert - Leftovers

Wednesday – kickboxing – Panini sandwiches

Thursday – Workout at gym - Grilled Sausages – Chicken Basil sausage with pesto sauce on whole wheat noodles

Friday – leftovers – workout with personal trainer

Saturday – Mediterranean Chopped salad from here. Note that it's not the first salad listed, but the one at the bottom of the list. 

Here a great week!

Friday, April 6, 2012

It's a Winner!

Sometimes I find a recipe that is a real hit and will be repeated.     Today I found one of those very successes!    In my meal planning, I found this recipe.    It looked good, but I knew that with my kids I would have to add some sort of meat to it.    I have a bunch of chicken sausage in the freezer and knew it would go well in this recipe.

Now, here's the issue - one of my kids DOES NOT like zucchini.   Before eating, he asked me if he had to eat all of his squash.   I told him that I would like it if he did.  He ate it all up and said it was "really good."  

So, here's the recipe and here's what I did differently

Stuffed Zucchini
1 tbsp sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/2 tomato
1 tsp thyme
2 zucchinis
1 onion

*I did not use curry powder or thyme - instead I used fresh basil and oregano.   You could put whatever spices you want in it.   I used about 1 pound of chicken Italian Sausage
Preheat your oven to 400 (200C).
Give the zucchini a good scrub.
Slice them in half length-ways. You can trim the ends if you like.
Spoon out the guts (leave about 1/2 an inch in) until you end up with boat like shells.
Now give the zucchini pulp a good chop, also chop a small onion and 1/2 a tomato while you’re at it.

Take the sausage out of the casings and brown it in a frying pan.   When cooked all the way through, add the tomatoes, onion and chopped up zucchini guts.    Cook until all ingredients are cooked down a bit.    Add oregano, freshly chopped basil and sour cream (I used Greek yogurt.)

Put hollowed out squash in a casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray.   Fill the zucchini boats with the meat and veggie filling and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.   Cook for 20 - 30 minutes until cooked through and browned on top.      Call the children and eat. (I apologize for the quality of the photo, but it's all I have as the food is all gone!)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring Break

Ahhh - Spring break was last week.    Usually in Colorado, spring break means snow and cold weather.   This year however, it was a different story.    Monday was a terrible windy dusty and awful day - warm, but too nasty to be outside.   The rest of the week however, was heavenly.     We've been running around in summer clothes, I got a pedicure and was sporting my new Sketcher's sandals.   

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and so goes spring break and so goes this weather.    We are going from 75 degree weather today to snow tomorrow!   Yikes!    I'm not looking forward to that but we really do need the moisture.

I didn't do too much meal planning last week.    My parents were here for the kids play, "Our Town" which ran March 22, 23 and 24.    It was a great show and it was really fun to see both of my kids on stage!   

One thing I learned from not meal planning during the break is that I do need to plan meals when I'm not working.    It wasn't a difficult week, but I went to the store more often and spent more money than I have been spending on food.    So, once school is over, I'll still be focusing on planning meals.  

Tonight I tried a new recipe.    It sounded wonderful, smelled good, and looked delicious, but it definitely needed some work.    The recipe is called "No Butter Chicken"    It called for Garam Masala, which I couldn't find in the store, so I made some.   I think that perhaps it was stronger than it would have been if I had purchased it and that I used too much spice.     I doctored it up with some coconut milk, and we are having it for dinner tomorrow.    Problem solved!   I did take some great pictures though, and the chicken was quite good, the sauce was just too spicy. 

 Onions, ginger, garam masala, tumeric
 Added chicken breast
Greek Yogurt
 No Butter Chicken - cooking down
 Homemade Garam Masala

Here is the plan for the rest of the week:

Sunday: No  Butter Chicken from here
Monday:    Salvaged No Butter Chicken, Rice, Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower
Tuesday:  Crock Pot Chiptole Burritos from here.
Make Stuffed Zucchini and use leftover Rice – 6 p.m. swim class
Wednesday:    Leftovers   (kickboxing class)  6:30 p.m.
Thursday:  Stuffed Zucchini and peppers from here.(add Italian Sausage)   Boxing class 6:30pm
Friday: Leftovers

Have a great week!