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Archive for December, 2010

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I can count on one time the number of times by husband and I have done anything, just the two of us, since Peanut was born. That was 14.5 months ago. Pretty sad, isn’t it?

We’ve had a Christmas tradition since we started dating back in 2003. Every year, we take one day to go out to a nice lunch and then spend the rest of the afternoon Christmas shopping for last-minute gifts. I typically have my shopping done way in advance  and neither one of us likes crowded malls, but ’tis the season. We fight the masses, usually pick up one or two don’t-need-anything-else-but-that’s-perfect-for-so-and-so gifts and enjoy spending time together. Last year we skipped this tradition. We had a 2-month old, I hadn’t slept in days, I hadn’t showered in days, I was still a bit of a hormonal mess and it made my brain hurt to think about logistics.

This year we decided to resume the tradition. We dropped Peanut off at my sister-in-law’s house and headed to Columbus for our special day. Our restaurant of choice was Montgomery Inn. It’s one of our favorites. We’ve been to the other two Ohio locations near Cincinnati, but this was our first time at the Dublin store. We arrived at sort of a slow time so the place wasn’t busy at all. The service was absolutely amazing and so was the food. Pardon the cell phone pics. I didn’t have room in my “shopping purse” for the DSLR. 😉

 

I started off with one piece of bread from the bread basket. Definitely fresh out of the oven. It was still hot. Carbaholic here was in heaven.

 

Our food arrived before I could even finish my slice of bread. I ordered the Gulf Shrimp Cantonese with a loaded Idaho baked potato as a side. Am I going to pretend this was healthy? Not in the least. It was delicious. I’ve had this dish one other time and literally dream about the warm plum dipping sauce. It’s a sweet plum jam with a big dollop of hot Chinese mustard on top. The waiter gives you instructions to stir it together before you dip your shrimp. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Totally makes the dish.

I managed to make it through all of the shrimp, but the baked potato did me in. 3 or 4 bites and I was done. It was the fluffiest, most perfectly done potato I think I’ve ever eaten in my life, but I had to stop before I got uncomfortably full.

After lunch, we headed to a mall near the restaurant and did our shopping. After lots of browsing and buying a final gift for father-in-law, I was in desperate need of refreshment. I remembered that this mall had a Teavana from my last visit so we headed that way. Disappointment ensued. Did you know Teavana doesn’t serve tea by the cup during the holiday season? Yep. Found that one out the hard way. They’re just too busy and it backs things up in the store. I totally get their logic and don’t fault them in the least. I was just a little disappointed since I had my mouth set for an iced Blueberry Bliss & Lemon Lime combo.

We were getting ready to head out when I spotted a Godiva store. I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture. My mom started a tradition with me when I was really little. Anytime we were near a Godiva store (which wasn’t often), we’d study the case, buy 2 pieces of chocolate each, find a bench, settle in and draw out the eating process as long as possible. My mom loves Godiva chocolate, but it’s pricey. Her theory was that if you were going to eat fine chocolates, you had to savor each and every bite. I’ve never forgotten this lesson and I always

My chocolates of choice for this visit were a white chocolate ganache bliss:

and a gingerbread truffle:

Source

Both were heavenly. My husband was ready to get the heck out of dodge so I agreed to savor them in the car rather than on a bench in the mall. Those two pieces of chocolate lasted me the entire hour and a half long car ride home. Thanks, mom, for teaching me to truly savor my food!

We picked Peanut up on the way home and spent the rest of the evening chillin’ with her until her bedtime. It’s nice to get away and have some time as a couple, but we all enjoy our time as a family, too.

Do you have any favorite treats that aren’t available close to home? What are they? Where do you have to go to get them?

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The holiday season is in full swing and the final countdown to Christmas has begun! One thing none of us have a lot of is time. Unfortunately, one of the first things that can go by the wayside is our workout calendar. We’re so busy finding the perfect gifts to give to others, accepting invitations and maybe even preparing our own homes to be the center of the festivities. It’s difficult to make ourselves a priority when we’re swamped, but you know what? You’re worth it. Here are 10 reasons to make sure you don’t neglect yourself and your fitness routine during the holidays:

  1. Great Stress Relief: No matter how much you love the holidays (and I do), they can be pretty stressful. It’s inevitable. One of the best benefits of exercise is that it’s a natural stress reliever. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain which act as a sort of “happy drug.” It doesn’t matter what activity you’re doing when you exercise. You’ll still reap this benefit.
  2. Get Some Me Time: The holidays are a great opportunity to spend more time with friends and family. Sometimes it even means visiting with people we don’t see any other time of the year. While all this togetherness is nice, it can also be a bit of people overload. Exercise is a great excuse reason to take a breather and have a bit of time to yourself. Hit the gym solo for a run, lifting or whatever other exercise you enjoy most. You’ll return to the marathon of festivities refreshed and better able to appreciate those around you.
  3. Be Energized: The holidays can be hectic and leave you feeling exhausted. Being too tired is a common reason people say they don’t exercise, but that’s actually a great reason TO exercise. Working out can give your energy level a fantastic kickstart. Unlike relying on caffeine (hello, Starbucks triple-shot latte) or eating sugar to keep yourself going, using exercise to boost your energy won’t result in that miserable mid-afternoon crash.  A good sweat session will give you the energy you need to keep up with your busy schedule. Plus, you’re likely to sleep better when you do hit the hay. NOTE: It’s not recommended that you exercise right before bed. That can actually keep you awake.
  4. Make Good Choices: Food temptations are everywhere during the holidays. It’s impossible to avoid them unless you hole up in a cave for about 2 months. Exercise can help you face these food challenges head on. I always feel so powerful after a workout and have a renewed passion for my healthy lifestyle. This carries over into my eating. When I’m consistent with my workouts, it’s easier to remember the connection between what I put in my mouth and how it affects my body. This puts all of those temptations into perspective. “I’m working so hard at the gym to take care of my body. Do I really want to eat that?” Sometimes the answer is yes, but more often I’m able to walk away from the unhealthy stuff. Being fully aware of what you’re eating can also help you stay in control of your portion sizes for those foods you do decide to eat.
  5. Stick with Your Routine: Letting your workout routine go by the wayside during the holidays can make it easier to slack later. Scheduling may make it impossible to stick with your regular routine note for note. Map out your holiday plans 0n a calendar and form a workout schedule around the events you’re scheduled to attend. Then, stick to it! This will make it much easier to get back to your regular routine once the holiday festivities are over.
  6. Be Guilt-Free: There’s nothing wrong with giving in to some of those food temptations during the holidays. After all, there are many homemade treats offered this time of year that people don’t make at any other time of the year. If you deprive yourself entirely, you’re likely to feel deprived and fall take a flying leap off the wagon. As long as you keep a healthy level of indulgence, you don’t have to feel guilty. Exercise can help ease your mind about eating a few goodies. I am NOT saying that exercise is an excuse to eat with abandon or that you should think of food as a reward for working out. Keep those general rules of healthy eating in your mind and practice moderation.
  7. Test Drive New Get-Fit Gadgets: If your family & friends are aware of your quest for a healthy lifestyle, there’s a good chance you’ll be getting some kind of fitness-related gift this holiday. Don’t pretend you’re not dying to use it the minute the you unwrap that special something! Whether it’s a new workout outfit, new kicks, a heart rate monitor, a pedometer, a workout DVD or any other exercise enhancer, take it for a test drive! The newness may help your motivation to workout and it’s also just plain fun to use our new toys.
  8. Mood Booster: For most people, the holidays are an enjoyable time. As I mentioned above, they can still be stressful. We’re expected to keep a smile on our face through weeks of parties, gatherings, shopping and other festivities. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. We’re tired, we’re stressed (see above) and some of us are dealing with challenging people and awkward situations. It’s easy to become irritable and grouchy. Since we tend to take out our frustration on those closest to us, this can lead to snapping at those we love which we inevitably regret later. Exercise can actually make you a more enjoyable person to be around during the holidays and beyond. Your family and friends will appreciate and enjoy their interactions with you more after you’ve had a good sweat fest.
  9. Be A Good Example: As I mentioned above, we’re typically surrounded by loved ones during the holidays. Some of those loved ones may already be struggling to lose or maintain a healthy weight. While the holidays are probably not a good time for you to lecture your friends & family about diet and exercise, there is one very powerful tool you can use to encourage them: yourself. Watching you stay committed to your healthy lifestyle during the holidays may be all it takes for someone to decide to take that first step toward getting healthier. It can also encourage those who are already on the path to stick with their own workout routine.
  10. It’s Just Plain Good For You: We’ve all heard the physical benefits of exercise over and over again. Besides helping us lose weight  (or maintain a healthy weight), exercise also help prevent chronic disease, lower blood pressure, strengthensour bones, tone muscles, lower our heart rate, lower cholesterol, ruduce the risk for breast & colon cancer, and much more. Those benefits don’t take a holiday, even if you do. Exercise is good for your body. Period.

What’s your workout plan for the holidays?

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Vegging Out

Oh, the weather outside is frightful. Well, it’s not really THAT bad, but it’s dag on cold. That’s kept Peanut and I inside for the last two days. The break was definitely welcome. Last week was pretty hectic and our schedule is only getting busier as the holidays draw nearer. Plus, I greatly appreciated the extra time to prep my very first Weight Watchers meeting. The presentation is tomorrow and I’m REALLY excited. I’m also pretty nervous. My boss’ boss is coming from out of state to observe and give feedback. This is the “final exam” of my leader training & mentoring. If all goes well, I’ll be a tried & true Weight Watchers leader around noon tomorrow.

I’ve also been vegging out in the more literal sense. I’ve been noticing that my veggie consumption tends to taper off in the winter months while the amount of carbs in my diet tend to rise as the temperatures fall. I attribute some of that to the fact that I love big, veggieful salads in the warmer months, but have no desire to eat them when it’s cold outside. I’ve been making a conscious effort lately to incorporate more veggies into my diet while trying to cut back on eating so many carbs, especially the refined stuff. Guess what? I don’t feel as puffy, my energy level is much higher and I’m more, er, …regular. Coincidence? I think not. Here are a few ways I’m finding to get those veggie servings in every day.

  • Substitute veggies for bread. Sometimes I skip the bread altogether and turn my favorite toppings into a bowl. I take the things I’d usually put on a sandwich, throw it all in a bowl and add tons of veggies. In this one I have a Boca Spicy Chik’n patty, torn up slice of mozzarella cheese, broccoli and sliced mushrooms and dijon mustard.
  • Start the day right…with veggies! For me, breakfast is the easiest meal to skip the veggies. I tend to stick with carbs & protein first thing in the morning. However, it’s a great opportunity to get your day of healthy eating off on the right foot. I love egg & cheese sammies. It takes just a few extra seconds to add veggies. It ups the nutritional value and will help keep you full further into the day. I’ve also found that I want more veggies throughout the day when I eat them with breakfast. Tomato, mushrooms and greens of any kind are delish on breakfast sandwiches! In this case, I added spinach.
  • Bulk up. Have you ever meticulously measured out a serving of a certain food and thought, “That’s it?” I have. I’m a quantity eater. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the quality of food first and foremost, but I like to feel satisfied at the end of a meal. If I’m still hungry, that lends itself to snacking later in the evening or middle-of-the night belly growls that lead me to the kitchen at 2AM. Not good. I like to use vegetables to bulk up mostly-meat dishes. Take my favorite Sweet & Sour Chicken recipe. When I make it, I almost always double the amount of green peppers and onions while leaving all of the other ingredients in their original quantities. That I can get away with. I’ve tried to add even more veggies into the mix such as broccoli, water chestnuts and celery, but hubby complains that there’s not enough meat. So, I prepare the dish as usual and add the bonus veggies into just my serving. I get the satiety I need from the meal without eating double portions of the meat. This adds quite a bit of extra food for not a lot of calories. Here’s that exact Sweet & Sour chicken dish bulked up with celery.
  • Skip the chips. Chips and crackers aren’t the only crunchy snacks that pair well with soup or sandwiches. Raw veggies are more nutritious and will increase your satiety. Keep some cut up in the fridge so that they’re a convenient and easy option when you’re in a hury. Oh, and just FYI, buffalo wing sauce is delicious drizzled over broccoli. Just sayin’. 😉
  • Remember the rule of plates. Half of your plate veggies, quarter protein, quarter starch. Katie tweeted about this during FitBlog chat a few weeks ago. It was a great reminder for me! Since then, I’ve been working really hard to follow this rule at every meal, especially focusing on dinner when I’m more likely to slack (or neglect altogether) the non-starchy vegetables. Here’s my plate of 1/2 green beans, 1/4 chicken sausage and 1/4 brown rice:

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