Archive for March, 2010

a clean home.

I do a little cleaning every day, but it was nice to spend the entire day working around the house. Call me a big weirdo, but I love to clean and organize around the house. Decluttering calms me and using elbow grease is great stress relief. At the end of the day, looking around at a clean home makes me very, very happy.

Let me rewind a little bit. I got out of bed all geared up to run. The weatherman had predicted sun & warm temperatures so it looked like a perfect day…until I looked out the window. It was grey, cloudy and drizzling rain. Weatherman = dirty liar. I don’t mind running in a little rain, but there was no way I could take Peanut out in the elements with me.

I didn’t forgo exercise altogether, though. I did a little strength training (320 calories burned in 50ish minutes) with this DVD:

The post-workout hungries hit me pretty hard and I whipped up a little pasta dish:

~whole wheat penne
~can of diced tomatoes
~splash of white cooking wine
~spinach & asiago chicken sausage (review coming soon)

I watched Food Revolution last Friday and was in tears. Yep. I cried. Huntington, West Virginia is only about 2 hours south of where I live. The mentalities I saw in the show are mirror images of the attitudes I encounter on a daily basis. The show brought out every frustration I have with trying to eat healthy in a small town culture that just doesn’t get it. It’s not that people are stupid. They’ve just never been taught any different. I’m so glad that Jamie Oliver is finally stepping up and saying what needs to be said, regardless of whether or not people like it.

Dinner last night was inspired by the show.

Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Crispy Posh Ham


~2 sprigs fresh thyme
~2 skinless chicken breasts (I used boneless, skinless.)
~Freshly ground black pepper
~1 lemon
~1 1/4 ounces grated Parmesan
~6 slices prosciutto (I only used 4.)
~Olive oil (I used EVOO.)

Preparation: Grate your Parmesan. Pick the thyme leaves off the stalks. Carefully score the underside of the chicken breasts in a criss-cross fashion with a small knife. Season with a little pepper (you don’t need salt as the prosciutto is quite salty). Lay your breasts next to each other and sprinkle over most of the thyme leaves. Grate a little lemon zest over them, then sprinkle with the Parmesan. Lay 3 prosciutto slices on each chicken breast, overlapping them slightly. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves. Put a square of plastic wrap over each breast and give them a few really good bashes with the bottom of a pan until they’re about 1/2 inch thick.

Cooking: Put a frying pan over a medium heat. Remove the plastic wrap and carefully transfer the chicken breasts, prosciutto side down, into the pan. Drizzle over some olive oil. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, turning halfway through, giving the ham side an extra 30 seconds to crisp up.

SOOOO good. A definite keeper. My husband and I were both in absolute heaven. Besides tasting great, this only took about 15 minutes start to finish. It’s the perfect example of how good, healthy food can be prepared at home in the same amount of time it takes to make a frozen pizza. We cut each chicken breast in half which was a perfect portion. Mr. Oliver recommends serving with “mash and green veggies or a crunchy salad.” We served ours with baked potatoes (sweet for the husband, Yukon gold for me) and steamed broccoli.

Do you think the area where you live impacts your efforts at a healthy lifestyle? How? Is it in a positive or negative way?


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Wear Sunscreen

Happy Monday, bloggies! I’m not normally a huge fan of Mondays, but for some reason today I feel reenergized, hopeful and optimistic about the fresh start of a new week. It can be whatever I make it, starting right now.

I was neglectful of photos this weekend. When the weekend started, I thought it would be a relaxing loungefest spent mostly at home. It turned out to be fairly busy in a productive, fun kinda way.

I didn’t run on Friday because it was too cold for Peanut to be outside. Saturday was GORGEOUS weather, but I was having trouble getting myself out the door. I kept telling myself it was 30 minutes. Just 30 minutes. Then I could come home and do whatever I wanted for the rest of the day. I finally talked myself into just getting dressed in my running gear. Once my shoes and heart rate monitor were on I was already feeling a little pep in my step. Peanut and I headed to the bike path. I “slogged” (loving that new word!) along for 2 miles. It wasn’t easy and I really struggled with the last 1/2 mile, but in the end I was so glad I’d done it. The sun was shining, there was a refreshing breeze and Peanut was asleep so I decided to keep walking for a while. When I finally walked back in the driveway I looked down at my heart rate monitor and realized I’d been gone for almost TWO hours! It’s amazing what can happen when you just get yourself out the door.

While I was slathering sunscreen on Peanut to get ready for our jog, I was reminded of that infamous Baz Luhrmann song from several years ago, “Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen).” Wow. Has it really been almost 11 years since that was on the radio? I was a sophomore in high school. That makes me feel old. Anyway, I found the music video on YouTube when I got home from my run. It gave me goosebumps. If you have 5 minutes, I recommend you watch it. Listen. Really listen. I never realized how much of the advice is geared toward health and wellness.

My favorite quote from the whole thing:

The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

I realized something when I heard those words. I realized that I don’t run for medals or ribbons or even for first place. I don’t run because everyone else is doing it. I don’t run to impress anyone. I don’t run because I have to.

I run for me. I run because I can and to show myself that I can. I run to be healthier. I run to relax and clear my mind. I run because I want to.

I’ll never win a 5k, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try each and every time to set a personal record because, like the song says, the race is only with myself. And even if I don’t set a personal record that day, I still finished a race and that’s something to be proud of.

Who cares if I “only” run a 12 minute mile. Or if I’m sometimes not even that fast. Time doesn’t make me a runner. The fact that my feet are out there pounding the pavement does.

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I had a ton to accomplish yesterday, but all I wanted to do was stay in my PJs, snuggle with Peanut, watch Bravo and read magazines. It took me a while, but I eventually got moving and ended up being SO productive. I think we all go through unmotivated spells at one time or another and they seem to strike when we have the most to accomplish. Here are a few things I’ve found can help get my rear in gear:

  • Make a To-Do List: Putting everything down on paper is a great place to start. Even if there are a lot of items, it still feels doable whereas having all of my “must do this, must do thats” swimming around in my head feels overwhelming. Once the list is made, I can prioritize the tasks and get to work. For me, there’s something so gratifying about crossing a task off the list with good ol’ pen & paper. For those of you who are a bit more “all tech, all the time” :), I know Kath is a big fan of todoist.com.
  • Move It, Move It: There’s something about exercise that makes me a to-do list tackling machine. I’ve read many studies about how upping your heart rate and releasing those happy hormones can make us more productive. For me, it has as much to do with getting my head in the game as it does with my physical response. Exercise makes me feel strong and empowered. If I’m doing a repetitive exercise (running, walking, elliptical, cycling), my mind will wander to developing a plan to accomplish the things I need to get done. I’ve also been known to compose blog posts in my head during this time. 🙂
  • Put Your Best Face Forward: I left my full-time job in December to stay home with Peanut. For the first couple of days, I stayed in my PJs all day, rarely brushed my hair and makeup? Forget about it! Peanut was taken care of. Beyond that I was largely unproductive. That’s when I decided to treat being a stay-at-home mom just like my desk job schedule. I made a commitment to getting out of my PJs (even if it is just changing into yoga pants, a t-shirt and flip flops most days), doing something with my hair and putting on makeup every day. It was amazing how much more I accomplished. Most people who work outside the home or go to school don’t really have the option of staying in PJs all day. However if you find yourself getting up 5 minutes before you have to leave, trying getting up 10 minutes earlier and spending that time on yourself. It has nothing to do with appearances to other people. It’s all about you and showing yourself know that you’re vested and care about you.
  • Fuel Up: To food bloggers this might be obvious, but you need the right foods as fuel to give you energy. Skipping meals is NOT a good idea, even if you’re busy.

I used all of these strategies to get me going yesterday. I made my to-do list while feeding Peanut and eating my unphotographed oats. The first item on my list was RUN! I really wasn’t feeling it and tried every excuse I could think of to talk myself out of it. “My head’s still really plugged up.” “Is it okay to take Peanut outside with an ear infection?” “I think my hip might be hurting a little today.” “The front tire on the stroller looks a little low.” “I don’t think I have any clean sports bras.” ENOUGH! It was on my list and that made me want to go just for the sake of crossing it off. I bundled Peanut up (She was so cute in her little hat!), laced up and headed out the door. I completed Week 7, Day 1 of Couch to 5k which was a 5 minute brisk walk followed by 25 minutes of uninterrupted jogging. I was pretty slow, but felt accomplished when I finished. Peanut was asleep in the stroller so I backtracked my route and added 30 minutes of brisk walking to round out my hour. 646 calories burned according to my Polar F6.

When I got home, I showered, changed clothes, pulled my hair back and put on my Bare Escentuals. I prepared a quick lunch of baked whiting fish, black eyed peas and cucumber slices. Yum! Not very many calories, but very filling.

After lunch I cranked the tunes and got to cleaning. I vacuumed and moped the living spaces, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, hand-washed pots & pans, changed bed linens and did a lot of declutterring. In the meantime, I did 6 loads of laundry and put them ALL away. I took a break for a cup of hot tea before tackling the bathrooms.

I may have a new favorite tea: darjeeling.

I’m a big fan strong black teas. The description on the box of this darjeeling said it was a black tea, but likened it to the muscatel grape so I was expecting something a little fruitier. What I got was a delicious black tea that was even stronger than the Twinings English Breakfast & Irish Breakfast teas are two of my favorites. It was absolutely delicious!

My husband called just as I finished cleaning his bathroom (gross!) and I switched to dinner mode. I had a second cup of darjeeling tea while I browned the ground beef for our Cheeseburger & Fries casserole.

~2lbs. extra lean ground beef
~1 can cheddar cheese soup
~1 can golden mushroom soup
~1 small onion, chopped
~1 bag crinkle-cut frozen french fries

Brown the ground beef with the onion. Stir in both cans of soup. Spread the mixture evenly in a 9x13x2 inch baking dish. Top with the fries, spread into an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50-55 minutes.

Several members at my last Weight Watchers meeting absolutely raved about this recipe. I wish I could tell ya’ll that it was as good as they said it was. Yes, it was quick and easy and the ingredients were easy to find. Those are all plusses. My husband really, really liked it. I thought it was okay, but pretty bland and nothing really special. It might have been better with some added seasonings or if the french fries had turned out a little crispier.

With a side salad:

After dinner, we all curled up in the living and watched Survivor. Is anyone else watching? I won’t give anything away because I know there are a lot of DVRers out there, but WOW. Just wow.

What’s your most successful strategy for getting motivated?

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Ready to Run

I woke up yesterday feeling pretty ‘blah’ about myself. With baby shower planning, my head cold, icky weather and Peanut getting sick, I haven’t really worked out since last Thursday. The food department hasn’t looked any better. I’m all for indulging every now and then so that I don’t feel deprived, but I’ve really slacked on getting my head back in the game this week after a weekend of not-so-healthy eats. I’ve been a bottomless pit and the snack choices I’ve made for the last couple of days haven’t been the greatest.

I needed something concrete and tangible to help me refocus. First, I grabbed my coffee and sat down at my computer to blog read. That ALWAYS inspires me to be healthy and the pictures of such fabulous food remind me that healthy eating CAN be crave-worthy. My frame of mind was headed in the right direction when my cell phone beeped through a text message. It was my sister-in-law reminding me that the price for the 5k we’d agreed to run in May goes up on April 1st. BINGO! I went directly to active.com and registered. I didn’t stop there. There’s another race mid-April in the small town where we live. I’d said I was just going to register on the day of the race, but I went ahead and registered online. I printed both confirmation e-mails as reminders of my goals and posted them in the kitchen. One on the fridge and one on the snack-tastic lazy Susan. Instant motivation!

I started my day off right with some oats. My mix-ins were raisins, peanut butter & a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut. So filling!

Lunch was in two courses. My appetizers were a plate of crudites and dip along with some tortilla chips & salsa.

The “main course” was some Progresso Light soup.

I fixed the whole can, but only ate about half before I felt full and stopped. That’s a big deal for me because I’m usually a “clean plater.” If there’s food left in front of me, I’ll eat it whether I’m hungry or not.

The weather was still too icky for an outside workout so I headed to my DVD selection instead. Anyone remember when this was THE workout of the moment?

Core Secrets was actually the first workout system I bought when I got semi-serious about losing weight. I was just out of college and bought it on ebay. I’d almost forgotten that I had it, but seeing Brooke Burke on Dancing with the Stars Monday night reminded me about it. Peanut wasn’t in the mood to be independent for very long so I needed something quick, but with bang for my buck. I chose the “Give me 20” session which is a full-body strength and ab workout, all in 20 minutes.

While trying to find a photo, I found this on the Core Secrets website. I checked Amazon and it’s listed as “Currently Unavailable” there, too. Interesting. Did too much new technology and research make it outdated? Gilad is still rockin’ out workouts from the 80’s on FitTV so I think truly effective workouts stand the test of time. Whatever hapened to Gunnar Peterson?

But I digress.

Dinner was grilled chicken. I pounded out 2 large chicken breasts, cut them in half and then threw them in my favorite quick and easy marinade:

~1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
~1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
~2 cloves of garlic, minced
~a handful of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Marinate for at least 20 minutes, throw them on the grill (or grill pan or skillet) for about 7 minutes on each side and, Voila!

Side dishes were a spring mix salad and some cheddar broccoli rice from an Amish store mix.

Everyone have a lovely Wednesday evening! I hope the sun is shining where you are the way it is here in southern Ohio. Hooray for spring!

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Baby Shower Detox

What a whirlwind weekend! Peanut and I drove to my hometown early Saturday morning to attend a card-making class with my mom and get final preparation done for my BFF’s baby shower. Can I just tell you how fabulous my parents are? They took care of Peanut while I worked on baby shower projects and even let me put them to work chopping veggies, cutting fruit, getting meatballs in the crockpot and making 150 mini pigs in a blanket. On top of that, staying the night there was like staying in a bed & breakfast. My dad got takeout from my favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner and my mom made me a cup of hot tea before bedtime. The shower on Sunday went well. I was hoping to take lots of pictures (especially of the food), but guests starting arriving 30 minutes early and I kicked into hostess mode, completely neglecting blogger mode. 😦

I woke up yesterday feeling absolutely miserable. On top of the cold I’ve been nursing, my stomach just felt blah. It was a sugar hangover and I’m pretty sure it came from eating too many of these bad boys at the baby shower. What is it about a cupcake that makes me so weak?

I wasn’t the only one in our house feeling icky. Peanut has had a runny nose and a cough since Friday. She’d been just as happy and playful as usual, but not sleeping. I didn’t want to be ‘that’ mom and take her to the doctor for something trivial. After a nearly sleepless night Sunday night I decided to trust my gut and call their office. I’m SO glad I did. We saw the nurse practitioner who did diagnose a common cold…and an ear infection. 😦 Poor booger.

I was starving when we got back from the doctor’s office so I fixed a baby shower leftover salad.

~spring mix lettuce
~sliced cucumbers
~stoplight pepper strips
~a little veggie dip for dressing (made with reduced-fat sour cream and a Hidden Valley Ranch Dip packet)
~blob of buffalo chicken dip

Nom. I think the veggies were what my body needed because they tasted soooo good.

Yesterday was supposed to be Day 1 of my spring cleaning, but I spent the rest of the day snuggling with my little one and chugging water to flush out the sugar. We’re going to stay in and take it easy for a few days until she’s feeling better. I haven’t worked out since last Thursday and my body is craving some physical activity besides running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I’m hoping to get in a quick yogadownload.com session or a DVD sometime today.

What is the toughest food temptation for you to resist?

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Tweet, Tweet

Well, I’ve finally decided to join Twitter. @UpFitCreek

I’m still hunting for friends to follow so tweet me or leave me a comment here with your name over there and I’ll check you out, too!

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I wasn’t expecting to have my husband home on our actual anniversary because it fell on Monday and he would typically be at work. Well, he ended up having jury duty, being released early and calling to see if we wanted to meet him in town for lunch. Peanut and I were headed that way to run errands anyway so we met up for a bite to eat and then he went with us to pick up some things I needed for baby shower projects. Heck of a guy, my husband. He willingly went to Hobby Lobby and entertained Peanut while I hunted, compared and decided. By “entertained” I mean raced the cart around the store while she giggled uncontrollably. 🙂

No pictures of lunch. Just for the record though, the veggie burger at Max & Erma’s is NOT as healthy of an option as you would think. I asked ahead of time whether it was grilled or fried (It’s grilled.) and ordered it with no guac. I consider myself a fairly nutrition savvy person and I know what to look for when I dine out. It’s still so hard to know what you’re getting when you eat out. I knew it wasn’t going to be super low-cal or anything, but I was still shocked with the stats when I got home and looked it up online. I wish more restaurants would make their nutrition information readily available in the restaurant instead of just on their website.

We just hung out at the house for most of the afternoon, enjoying each others company. It was too cold to take Peanut with me on my run, but my husband volunteered to keep her and I took him up on the offer. No land speed records were set. Still, it felt good to move and the breeze, even though it was cool, was refreshing. My new shoes did wonderful on their maiden voyage. It felt like I had clouds strapped to my feet.

The fabulousness of my husband continued when he offered to prepare a special anniversary dinner. I knew it was going to be good when he fired up the grill. He put on quite the spread:

Grilled tomatoes & mushrooms:

Grilled shrimp, half with Old Bay & half with Tastefully Simple Grill Seasoning:

Whole wheat pasta:

All together:

I threw a little bit of everything together and topped it with some Colavita olive oil and fresh chopped parsley.

My posting and commenting may be sporadic (or non-existent) this week. The baby shower I’m hosting is on Sunday and I’m in full-on prep mode for the rest of the week. I’ll do what I can, but don’t be surprised if I disappear until Monday.

Giveaway Alert! – Holy amazing, Batman! Lindsey over at SoundEats is giving away 4 fantastic prizes from Beachbody. Check it out!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

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