Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summertime..and the #Temt in's Easy

Spinach Salad with Shrimp

For me, summer is the time when I finally get my act together, resume regular workouts, and prepare yummy healthy meals. Well, most of the time, anyway! Even with family visitors, celebration of holidays and birthdays, it's still easier for me to take care of myself when the pressures of the daily commute and busy teaching day are off.

Maybe it's time that I developed some new habits. They say that it takes 30 days to create a habit, and I have just about 30 days before I return to work full-time.  So here are some things I am going to do to make my life easier and prepare for when the hustle and bustle of school returns.

  1. Make a yummy, healthy food shopping list on Evernote: This way, when I am at the store, starved and brain-dead from a long day, I will have a go-to list and I won't feel deprived.
  2. Keep a salad bar ready in the refrigerator : If I get in the habit of having healthy veggies cut up and ready in the frig. I can just keep it going when school starts. I have thought of this often, but the habit just hasn't stuck. Suggestions?
  3. Make a menu of fun workouts: Sometimes when I am tired or just unable to make a decision, I need ideas of fun ways to exercise so that it sounds less like a chore. Why not get creative and draw (or create on the computer) a visual representation of all the ways I like to exercise? I bet I can come up with at least 10..maybe even 20. Stay tuned for a future post on that!
  4. Get a buddy involved: Last year my teacher friend next door and I talked of choosing a day after school when we would run together. Another coworker suggested hiking on a nearby trail. We didn't do it, but I plan to make it happen this year. A google doc is in the making for "collaborative opportunities for exercise."I will share it at our Summer Institute when we get together for professional development in August. 
  5. Start the day in workout clothes: It's hard to distract yourself from the workout when you're already dressed. Today I will be going straight from the pj's to the fun new workout clothes I scored on the clearance rack at Marshalls! 
How will you develop a new habit to make health a priority during all seasons of the year?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Today's Recipe:
2-3 cups of seedless grapes (I used green)
1 handful of parsley (I used curly)
2 cups of spinach
2 cups of water

I thought about adding a banana, because I really like the texture it adds, but decided I would try the smoothie without banana today. This recipe is particularly refreshing. First you taste the sweet tang of the grapes, then the freshness of the parsley hits. I did not really taste the spinach at all. I'm actually thinking this one might make a good slushie by incorporating chopped ice.

Wish I would have taken a picture this morning. It was a lovely bright green!

Photo by cafemama

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Commitment Takes Planning

"Failing to plan is planning to fail."
Alan Lakein
A few days ago I shared how I was not adequately prepared for Day 1 of the Awesome Green Smoothie Challenge, but I came up with a plan B to get me through the day. The next three days were not work days, so no worries. On Monday, I realized if I want to keep up with the smoothies, I must prep the night before.

Since I blend my smoothies in 2 batches, I divide the produce between 2 perfect
ly-sized bowls. I realize some fruit may brown up a bit, but since it's all going into the blender, no worries! I blend the first batch and pour it into a mason jar, then I blend the next batch and pour the first batch back into the blender. (Just like blending 2 cans of paint to equalize the color.) In this way, if one bowl gets more or less of an ingredient, the final product will have everything evenly incorporated.

I'm starting to experiment a little with quantities and ingredients, as well as blending speeds. Today's smoothie was actually my favorite so far: 2 bananas, about 1 cup of pineapple, 2 cups of spinach, and about a cup of water. The texture was really smooth without the strawberry seeds.

Other planning involves the shopping. I'm trying to buy enough for only 2-3 days at a time so nothing goes to waste. Calculating the amount of whole fruits needed is easy; the leafy greens present a little more challenge. So far I've determined that the 5 oz clamshell of Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Spinach has about 4 cups (packed). For the recipes I started with, 1 box of spinach made 2 days' worth of smoothies.

I also need to at least think about my daily schedule to get my smoothies in. Breakfast is easy; but I have to try to project the remainder of my day to see if the other will be lunch or dinner. Lack of planning also affects my workouts; sometimes I work later than the gym is open. I think I'm going to have to sit down each week and look at my planner and actually schedule workouts to make sure they happen.

What are your planning tips to plan for your health?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fine with Fifty (I think!)

I started my 50th birthday with another green smoothie, followed by a wonderful yoga class. Off to a great start! Huge lunch at a great restaurant and green smoothie for dinner. Overall, not so bad.

It has been so much fun reading the tweets and wall posts from my Twitter and Facebook friends today. My favorite comment was probably this one: "Hope I look as good when I reach that point in my life!!!!!!! Rock on!!!!!!!"

Later in the evening another friend called with birthday wishes and I shared that comment with her and added "I certainly work at it!"

To which she replied, "Well, there does come a time when it doesn't come as easy as it used to."

True that.

I never really had a problem with my weight. I could always eat whatever I wanted. And a week or so of cutting back would shed a few pounds. In fact, I only gained 10 pounds over 25 years. But I didn't like how I felt (more so how my clothes [didn't] fit). The cutting back alone wasn't working anymore. That is when I joined Curves and started being much more conscious of my eating habits. I'm not perfect, but overall, I'm happy with the results.

In the months leading up to my 50th birthday, I've been rather reflective, emotions about the "Big 5-0" running the gamut from embracing to vehemently denying. In the end, I think I'm OK with it. Having a wonderful network of supportive, encouraging friends (and a little flattery here and there!) makes it easier and all worth while.

Sure beats the alternative!

Creative Commons photo by Leo Reynolds

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Going Green: Day 3

The Awesome Green Smoothie Challenge with Santosha Yoga started on July 1, but due to a hectic schedule that day (and lack of preparation on my part!) I "cheated" on day 1 by substituting Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness smoothie that I picked up at the store. It was very good; and the sale price made it even better! Since this is a pasteurized product, the benefits are not as complete as a raw smoothie. But, it was an acceptable substitute and, IMO, and met the spirit of the challenge.

I'm finding that I really like the green smoothies. I love that I'm getting at least 4 servings of produce. I love the flavor. I love that I'm putting good food into my body. I love that I'm eating less junk because I'm full.

I used the same recipe as yesterday (Irish Banana Split Smoothie), but today I cut back on the pineapple a bit and substituted a slightly over-ripe peach. I also reduced the amount of water to 1 cup. The pigments in the peach skin did shift the color a little.

Another change today is I did not "process" it quite so much, as I felt I incorporated too much air yesterday. This left some very fine pieces of spinach, but still very drinkable. It actually looks a little bit like confetti. :)

Although it's only been a few days, I really want to commit to this. Hope I can inspire you to try it, too!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Review, Reflect, Revise, Reset

The summer of 2010, I was in a pretty good place with my health and exercise. I had been working out consistently at Curves for over a year, lost 10 pounds and a few inches, and generally eating well. I also added yoga to my workout regimen. I even got on the twitter #temt train and wrote a few posts for this blog (here, here, and here).

Then September hit. A bit of a backslide as school started up. (Scroll the blog archive for many references to that phenomenon). Added to the "regular" (whatever that is!) stress was the urgency to complete my dissertation and defend by the end of the semester. By the beginning of November, it was "do or die:" if I did not finish all 5 chapters by Thanksgiving, I would not be able to defend until the winter semester, which meant paying for a second credit ($500!) that I did not need. So basically everything except work and the dissertation went to you-know-where-in-a-handbasket--including diet and exercise. Writing binges do not play well with good eating habits, in my experience. I tried to squeeze in 1 or 2 workouts or a yoga class each week; some weeks were more successful than others.

I started easing back into the exercise routine, but on December 31, I broke my toe, and couldn't workout for a couple of weeks. Then I was sick, etc., etc., etc.... Second semester I ended up working a lot of hours, which made it hard to get the exercise in, I would often get home after the gym closed. :(

Now that it's summer, I've a new resolve to get/stay in shape and eat better.Still not getting all my Curves workouts in, but I am committed to getting in as much as I can. I also thought about my eating habits, and I've started to minimize meat. I'm also participating in the Awesome Green Smoothie Challenge with Santosha Yoga. Today's recipe:

Irish Banana Split:
1/2 cup strawberries
2 bananas
1 cup pineapple
2 cups packed spinach
1 pint water

It was totally rawsome!

I had one for breakfast (about 1/2 liter), and the other for dinner. Amazingly filling. Just a funny side note, when I see "Irish" with a recipe, especially a beverage, my first connection is Bailey's (yum), and I couldn't figure out what it had to do with a green smoothie. Then, duh! the other ingredients are found in a banana split and the spinach makes it green. Silly me. ;)

I'm committing to trying this for 1 week, and if it goes well, then into the next. How about you?