September 28, 2010

The Difference Of Just One

 This video has been sitting 
in my INBOX for a couple of days now, 
and once I watched it I just knew 
I wanted to share it with you. 
Just right click the link below,
and open it in another tab,
so you can easily come back 
and read the rest of this post!

 {Reading the rest of this short post now won't make sense 'til you watch the vid!}

The thing is, you never know when you are at 211 and about to go 212! Just one more push could push you over the top, it could send you soaring, it could create the momentum that you've been looking for!

NEVER give up, because you just never know and because what will giving up get you anyway?

With you in the fight,

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

September 23, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I ♥ books . . . that a perfect day always includes reading . . . and that whenever I have extra cash I buy books first and if there's some left over, food and clothing (just like the bag from B & N says that sits on my floor stuffed with some of my favorites).

And, I seriously doubt I'll ever own a Kindle or any other kind of electronic reading device . . . there is just something about holding a book in my hands, the feel and smell of it, the primitiveness of ink on the page that I just don't feel with those modern things. I know it'd be better for the environment (I guess) but I'd be in favor of printing on bamboo paper, and would even grow my own to contribute just to keep the printed book alive.

Just think, if we all grew bamboo instead of, 
say, evergreen bushes.

Back to the topic . . .

My oldest son, Scott, shares this love of reading with me, and recently we decided to read a book together and discuss it by phone (we live nearly 2000 miles apart). The book is Letters From A Skeptic by Greg Boyd, a chronicle of correspondence between the author and his dad that addresses the tough questions about Christianity.  I love discussing tough topics with Scott...he has a really, REALLY great mind and often challenges me on why I believe what I do, so I am sooo looking forward to this!

So, I cracked the book late last week and was immediately reminded why this book will never be purged from my library. You know how it goes, every so often us book-lovers must go through that painful process of deciding which books we can keep, or if we should just buy another bookshelf, or maybe make furniture out of the books we just can't part with but just look so darn beautiful. I've done all three . . . but this book is one of those that will sit in a prime location on my shelf. It's that good.

As is the case with all excellent books, Letters From A Skeptic is chock full of life principles. Here's the first one I ran across:

We become the decisions we make. 

I quote Boyd:  "The more we choose something, the more we become that something. We are all in the process of solidifying our identites by the decisions we make. With each decision we make, we pick up momentum in the direction of that decision."

That means that each decision matters. Each meal or snack we decide to eat contributes to where we eventually end up . . . healthier or sicker or stuck right where we are today. It's not about being perfect and always making the "right" choice as much as it is about realizing, being woken up to the fact, that we hand over the reigns of our lives and our futures every day so easily without even thinking. We let others decide for us.

I see a television commercial and am strangely, suddenly, out-of-the-blue craving ice cream...or potato chips...or pizza. After consumption, I sit and wonder what happened. Seriously? Am I that easily swayed away from these goals that I desperately want to define my life?

If we will just stop for a moment and think, "Which direction will this decision to buy this or eat this or drink this take me? Will I be closer to my goal, further away or stuck in a rut?" It only takes a second. And can make all the difference.  Then, at least if we've thought about it, we'll never have to wonder what happened. :)

How can we keep this in our frontal lobes? What do you do to remember the truth that this is your life?


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

September 22, 2010

You Say You're Going Primal?

I think the only time that is busier and more filled with new goals and re-starts than January 1 is September. WOW, what a busy busy beginning to my favorite season of the year....Autumn!

My husband thinks fall is my favorite season because my birthday happens to fall (teehee) in it. Well, maybe. :) Still, what's not to like about the warm, gorgeous colors to be seen everywhere, saucy dishes to cook, and sweater weather? Makes for some awesomely delicious bike rides, bathing the senses in a feast to be sure!

As many of you may know, hubz and I have embarked on the Primal way of eating. This means that we are foregoing grains of any kind (think bread, cereal, crackers, cookies, cakes, corn, oatmeal) and decidedly are getting our carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. I thought I would really miss bread (has always been my weak point), but it turns out we are eating less food, we are more satisfied, and best of all our energy levels are good and consistent all day long.

There's a new community blog currently in its formative stage that'll be all about Primal eating and the lifestyle that goes with it, the ups, the downs, recipes, etc. And, yours truly will be just one of the awesome contributing authors to this new blog! Stay tuned for more info very very soon!

I got my first jar EVER of coconut oil yesterday, and promptly went to work fixing a scrumptious meal: Chicken Marsala and Roasted Cauliflower served over a bed of spinach.

Chicken Marsala
10 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1/2 cup medium-dry Marsala wine
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 cup red grapes, sliced in half
Salt and pepper to taste.

Remove all visible fat from the chicken and pound to about 1/2 inch thick. If you get a really meaty breast, it'd also work to butterfly it open.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet on medium high and brown the chicken, about 2 minutes on each side.

Add the Marsala wine to pan and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a plate and continue to simmer the sauce for a couple of minutes to reduce. You should end up with a nice glaze-like sauce.

Add the cream to the glaze/sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Then, add the sliced red grapes being careful not to cook too long so the skins don't come off.

Spoon sauce over chicken, and cover with foil to keep warm before serving.

Roasted Cauliflower With Lemon Mustard Dressing
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
3 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
1/3 cup coconut milk or half & half
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil and a little sea salt.

Roast cauliflower until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile toast the nuts in a dry skillet for a few minutes over medium-high heat, shaking the pan often to avoid burning. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, mustard, coconut milk and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.

Add the roasted, hot cauliflower, scraping all those luscious oils and browned cauliflower bits into the bowl (best part!).

Add the nuts, pepper and toss to coat.

Serve warm over a bed of spinach leaves.

Bon appetit!


Recipes adapted and modified from Low Carb Meals in Minutes by Linda Gassenheimer and The Primal Blueprint Cookbook by Mark Sisson. Courtesy of Creative Commons are autumn leaves.

September 9, 2010


". . . Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. . . "
-Robert Fulghum
I’ve been reading a lot lately in the blogosphere about how my friends are struggling, losing their motivation, forgetting about their why, not able to shake the bingy feelings, enduring enormous stress. We have ALL been there. Its been said that we are either in a problem, heading out of one or heading into one!

We sure don’t live on the mountain top, do we? Mostly life is made up of expectations that we must manage, relationships that we devote every nourishing cell in our body to, work that may or may not fulfill, and some joy, pleasure and pain along the way. And, sometimes life is just HARD.

How do you cope when things get tough?

In my younger years I was always active. In college I'd run a couple three miles most mornings, bang a tennis ball against the racquetball court just for the fun of it, and play some one-on-one basketball for, ahem, a study break. If I wasn’t daydreaming or writing poetry in the fold of my Western Civ book, err I mean studying, I was out doing something fun, something competitive, something that moved my body.

I remember one time being really stressed out about something (probably a test) and going out for a run. I ran, and ran, and ran, I don’t know, for a long time, lots longer than normal. The next day I could barely climb the stairs to my classes!

Exercise was just the way I coped with stress. And, it worked. I sometimes got sore muscles, but I was always known as the laid back girl, so relaxed, so easy going. I was that girl.

Then life after college, what they call the REAL world, entered and somehow, someway I let this active lifestyle slip away. I still got work outs in, joined fitness clubs wherever I lived, but the problem was that my eating pace stayed pretty much the same as when I was in college while my exercise sessions were far fewer in number.

Then Mr. Right came along. Love, love, love, all you need is love, right? After a whirlwind romance and a brief engagement, we married and three short years later we started a family. House, family, job, husband, kids, you know, the American dream . . . and STRESS. And, instead of turning TO exercise, I turned away. For the life of me, I don’t know why, but it spelled . . .

D I S A S T E R . 

The pounds piled on. Life became harder than it needed to be. I suffered more than I needed to suffer. And, I missed so much. So much.

Mr. Right became Mr. Wrong, a mismatch that somehow managed to last 17 years finally fell apart. I could blame the marriage-turned-rocky, the messy divorce, the INCREDIBLE kids that I tried desperately not to screw up, the demanding jobs, or the obligations that life is made of. But, it wasn’t any of those things. The fact that I added 100 pounds more than I needed to my frame is nobody’s fault but my own. MY reaction to life. MY way of coping.

My personal trainer once told me that the best thing you can do at the end of a long, hard day is to work out…it’s like salve on a wound. I'm re-finding that tube of salve these days, and coping in much healthier ways.

But, I want to know . . . what have you found to be the best way to handle the ups and downs of life? How are you being kind to yourself? Please share your wisdom in the comments!

With you in the journey,

September 2, 2010

The Back Door to Success

Isn't it funny how sometimes disappointments end up leading us down the road that we really wanted to go all along? Not ha-ha funny, but you know, curious, unexpected, close to being delighted but not quite. Sort of a satisfied, I-really-did-end-up-getting-what-I-wanted sort of funny.

So, I heard about the 30 Days of Biking challenge on the 31st of August, the day before this challenge was to begin, and I immediately wanted to do it. I checked out the link to make sure it wasn't some crazy thing like biking 100 miles all up hill, and when I learned that all it involved was committing to biking every day in September, I signed up. How hard could it be?

The rules state that these daily bike rides can be long, short, alone, with others, an all day affair or even just a trip around the block. The point is to just get out there and be active. And, I've been all about that lately, ever since getting this crazy little electronic thing I wear on my arm that reminds me "I'm watching, get moving!".

Last night was the kick off ride, a community event, which started at Gold Medal Park in Minneapolis and ended along St. Anthony Main...about a 10 mile trek. I've never participated in anything like this before, and really, have only been biking as a form of exercise for a couple of months, so I was kind of nervous about it.

What's to be nervous about, you ask? Well, hills. I don't do so well yet on hills. I'm still carting around a lot of extra weight, which makes hills hillier, if you get my drift. Imagine a normal weight person, relatively fit, riding up a hill...they make it just fine. Now imagine the same person strapped with a 100# weight on their back going up the same hill. Would they make it up?

I don't know if they would or not, but last night's ride ended in me feeling like a failure . . . for awhile at least. I went with a girlfriend of mine, and we started out toward the front of the pack. It was good. It was a gorgeous night, about 75 degrees, blue skies, low humidity. But the riders, about 50 I'd say, we were all sort of clumped together and so it was impossible to get up any sort of momentum to handle the early hills. And, when you're carrying a 100# weight on your back, momentum is really important. Really important.

Add to that the fact that my bike felt heavy and slow...turns out my rear brakes were dragging along the wheel, and my seat kept moving around. Now, Beauty (what do you think of the name? it just sort of evolved, hehe) is not the fastest bike on the road and I knew that, but seriously, she isn't that slow and neither am I. We are really a perfect match because we aren't slow and we aren't fast, we just don't think about it much. It's not really the point, after all. We get each other.

Long story short, my friend and I lost the crowd after only a couple of miles. I was so bummed. Humiliated. I'm not a crier in those situations, I just want to disappear. Thankfully, my friend was so upbeat, totally supportive, and she waited for me, we went at my pace which now I understand might still not be SLOW but its slower than I thought.

Instead of wandering around the city trying to find the group along a prescribed route that neither one of us could remember, we decided to take a ride along the river. It was GREAT! I managed to get my seat tightened and a really nice biker stopped to help me with the brakes. We rode for about an hour, up and down the hills along the Mississippi and at one point we were even up to about 25 mph! Totally fun and wonderful exercise.

We ended the night at a cute little sidewalk cafe, nibbling on a healthy appetizer and enjoying the breezy evening. The point of the evening WAS to participate in the kick off ride, partner up with some other cool people, be a part of the gang. But, it ended up being a really nice time with just my friend and me, riding along the river in what was still a challenging course.

Now, I could stay bummed that we lost the crowd or that I had to walk my bike up a hill, you know, call the whole thing one big #fail. But, you know what? Keeping up isn't the point. It'd be nice if I could, but the point is to get healthy, more fit and to have fun doing it.

Some might call my adventure a fail, but I'm calling it the back door to my success. Success in that I rode my bike on the first day of September, success in that I had a challenging ride, success in that I was with a good friend, success in that I learned something about myself and my fitness level. There's so much more to celebrate than there is to feel bad about.

What do you guys do when you don't measure up to your own expectations? Would you let your inexperience keep you from trying something beyond your ability (I've done that MANY times), or would you throw caution to the wind and just give it a whirl?

Riding still,