Wednesday, February 29, 2012

FitCity: Mindfulness

Find me today on FitCity!


I’ve taken a renewed interest in my health.  I’m currently in my 4th week on Weight Watchers, have joined my local YMCA, and am considering training for some events coming up this May (Dirty Girl 5K Mud Run & Obstacle Course) and June (Fishers Freedom Festival 5K- it was my first ever 5K back in 2010).

I’ve taken an interest in trying new things with this renewal as well.  As I continue on this ever-evolving journey, I want to share my new experiences with you.

In the past, healthy living has primarily meant making good food choices and being more active.  Most recently, it meant being focused on running and achieving goals through running that I never imagined would be on my list of accomplishments. 

This new evolution of healthy focus is proving to be threefold.  I am rediscovering my love of and passion for real food.  I am eager to try new workouts and new events and do things that I’ve simply never done before.  I want to be more mindful of my body and my health.

I was recently introduced to the idea of Mindful Eating and that has led me on a journey to being more mindful of my health in general.  Mindfulness is simply the idea of being attentive, aware, and careful about something.   By being aware and attentive, I am finding that there are nuances to food that I hadn’t appreciated before, that there are moments when my body shifts from warming up to ready to go, and times when deep breathing is all it takes to bring back my sense of calm.

Here are a few exercises you can do to be more mindful of your eating, your activity, and your stress level.
  • Select a food, like an apple, and take a moment to hold it in your hand.  Pay attention to its weight, color, any marks on the skin.  Think about the tree that grew the apple.  Hold the apple to your nose and think about how it smells and what the smell is telling you about the food experience you will soon have.  Hold the apple to your lips.  Be aware of the feel of the smooth skin and tha tyou are still able to smell the fruit before you bite into it.  Bite into more slowly than you are used to and pay attention to the sensation of your teeth and gums as they encounter the apple.  Let the fruit sit on your tongue for a moment.   Slowly begin to chew.  Notice the way the juice comes from the apple to your cheek, your tongue, your throat.  Chew thoroughly, paying attention to how the feel of the fruit changes as you chew.   Even as you swallow, pay attention to the food as it travels down your throat.  Before you bite again, sit and feel and taste the sensations in your mouth and nose from that one bite.
  • Go for a walk.  As you walk, focus on your body.  Start with your head.  Feel the weight of your head as it sits on your neck.  Move your attention down your body, focus for a moment on each joint, each muscle group.  Feel what your body does as it is moving.  Notice when your joints become more fluid, when your heart rate begins to increase, when your body temperature rises.  Take time to pay attention to your surroundings and make a mental note of the air, the sky, the scenery around you.  At the end of your walk, take time to notice how your body cools, how your buscles and joints feel, and how you feel about the activity you’ve done.
  • Stressed out?  Take a few minutes away from the stress- somewhere private where you can be alone to focus.  Simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing.  Being mindful of your breathing can immediately help reduce your stress level.  Instead of simply taking a few deep breaths, take the time to pay attention to all the changes that happen when you inhale and exhale.  Feel your lungs expand and collapse.  Pay attention to other part sof your body that move while you inhale and exhale.  Notice how your heart feels when breathing in and when breathing back out.
Making time to focus on mindfulness means slowing down, being purposeful, and staying focused on the present rather than worrying about the past or planning for the future. 

When I am more mindful of my healthy living choices, I make better choices.  It is so easy to get lost in the constant craziness of life.  A big part of why I gained back weight I had worked so hard to lose, why I had stopped running, why I was losing my fitness level was because my focus was on my busy-ness.  We are all familiar with the hectic pace of life when we have days of endless meetings, the kids have homework and sports and playdates and activities, we have our own commitments to family, friends, church, community.  It is very easy to lose yourself and lose your “now” when the focus of life is on all that chaos.

Try to find a moment of mindfulness in your day.  Just 5 minutes of focusing on the present, on the details, and slowing down your pace can make a huge adjustment to your mental health and the choices you make in taking care of your body.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How Is Buttons?

I'm hopeful that we turned a corner a week ago.

Things had generally been going well.  But every few days, there would be a new pee spot on the floor somewhere.  The favorite room to leave the pee spot was the kids' bedroom- a place that made the marking even more irritating to me.

We had shampooed like mad.  I thought the carpet would be permanently damp.

Then Jeff went away for a weekend and we had some nice quiet time at home.  I was immensely enjoying that Buttons had been doing great when... she went and peed in the kids' bedroom.  She'd been all snuggly with me on the couch, got up and went down the hallway.  I assumed she was going for water.  When she didn't come back, I checked and she was standing outside their room, staring me down.  Sure enough- there was a pee spot.  The second I saw it, she ran and hid under my bed and stayed there for a while.

A few weeks ago, we started keeping her in a cage at night and while we are gone. 

After that pee incident, I had a thought... the only room she peed in anymore was the kids' room.  It's like she needed to figure out her place in the pack and marking that room was her way of trying to assert herself.  She very much follows the "don't pee where you sleep" thing. 

So I moved her cage into the kids' room.

It's not a permanent thing.  But from time to time, when we go out for a few hours or for the day, I'll put that cage in the kids' room to help her remember her place.

So far, it's working.

Other than that, she's a great dog. 

She is more expensive than we had expected.  We'd been told her medicine would cost around $45 a month.  First vet wanted to sell us her meds for $75.  We switched her to our vet and her meds are $55 a month.  Every few months, she's going to need testing done because of the Cushing's.  In March, we need to schedule her test.  She will spend all day at the vet's office and have blood draws throughout the day.  The day of testing costs almost $200.

So the dog budget is way higher than expected.

But she is a sweet old girl.  She snores and snorts and breaths oddly (she has earned the nickname "Slingblade").  She is extremely motivated by food and seeks a treat anytime she knows she deserves praise.  She is patient with the kids.  She hasn't ever grumbled or growled at anyone. 

Teagan and I have had a few intense conversations lately about Buttons and how old she is and about her having Cushing's and that we just don't know how long she will be our dog.  Maybe 2 years, maybe 6 months, maybe less.  That our purpose in adopting her was to provide her with a secure, calm, comfortable home to live her life until the end.

But we will all be crushed when the time comes that she is gone.


Monday, February 27, 2012

WW: Week 3

The biggest change this week is that our family joined the YMCA.

Our local Y is very close to our house.  Our kids have done some programs through the Y- soccer, basketball, gymnastics.  But we've never become members.  It's expensive.  I already belong to a gym, we don't have the time to take advantage of it enough to justify the expense.  Then we started planning for summer camps and discovered that the cost would be notably less if we were members.  The savings was good enough that it more than covers the cost of the monthly membership.  So we went ahead and signed up. 

An unexpected benefit to joining the Y is that they offer a "Coach Approach" as part of your membership.  Jeff and I have already scheduled our initial appointments.  Notice that?  Jeff and I.  Each of us.  He's going to start being more active, too.  The Coach Approach is a 6 month process where you meet monthly with a Wellness Coach and you can even have a meeting with a nutritionist.  I'm eager to figure out a 6 month plan and goal and even more excited to have my husband involved, too.

Using the Y will primarily happen on evenings and weekends.  The kids loved the childcare facility.  I'm adding group fitness classes to my calendar so that if I have the time and energy, I can slip out for a workout.  My hope is that we stay motivated and become a more active family.

I'm planning to write a blog this week for FitCity about new workouts that I try at the Y- the first new thing I did was water aerobics.  I did a 90 minute session on Saturday and I really enjoyed it.

Food wise this week was a struggle but also a learning opportunity.  I had a hard day and turned to food to soothe my feelings.  The good part was that I ended up making decent choices.  The behavior wasn't the best.  But because I keep a bountiful supply of healthy choices at work, the foods I chose ended up not blowing my points for the day.  What did I choose?  Baked lentil chips and madras lentils (kind of like a chili dip but no meat).  I wanted Penn Station or junk from the vending machine.  But I went with the healthy choices in my office and even though I overate and my eating was an emotional response, tracking my points meant that I quickly saw that I hadn't ruined my entire day.

See, in the past, if I caved and went for the junk and crap, I would have figured the entire day was blown and I would have continued to make bad choices.  But because I tracked, I saw that I hadn't ruined the day.  I saw that the day still had potential.  And I still stayed within my points.

So how did weigh in go?

Week 1- I lost 8 lb.  Week 2- held steady.  Week 3- I'm down 2 more pounds for a total of 10 lb lost!

Goals for this week-

1. My biggest challenge this week will be staying on track while dealing with my period.  It's back, sooner than expected, and it's kicking my hormonal booty.

2. Water.  I need to ditch diet soda and stick to water.  I'm about 85% good on my water consumption but I don't do so well on the weekends.

How was your healthy week?


Saturday, February 25, 2012

6 Words: Trying Something New

New YMCA Membership.


Water Aerobics.


Friday, February 24, 2012

What A Week! Fragments!

Mommy's Idea

It's been one heckuva week.  There have been some highs and lows and I am really ready to move on from it all.  Feel free to join in the fragment fun by clicking the button above to go visit Mrs4444 and the other Fraggers.


My week started with me making a mistake at work.  Well, discovering a mistake at work.  I owned up to it immediately.  I know exactly what I did wrong.  It has a hefty price tag but will be fixed within about 2 weeks.  It isn't the worst thing I could have done but I beat myself up pretty good over it. 

I spent some time thinking about more things that I learned in that cooking demonstration last week.
  • Cold food, cold body. Hot food, hot body. Temp balance for body temp regulation.  This is part of the Yin-Yang of food.
  • Use good soy sauce. I also learned this on Dr. Oz.  Look for "naturally brewed" and avoid bottles with ingredients like "caramel coloring" and "high fructose corn syrup."  This is the brand Sunny buys from East Asia Market- she knows the brand from Taiwan.

  • Best place to buy good bean sprouts is East Asia Market at 96th and Keystone.  They grow their own- you can't get much more local and fresh than that!
  • Bean sprouts come from the mung bean.

After carrying a lot of stress about a lot of things that I really don't have a lot of control over all week... I figured out that I needed to listen to the inner voice that has been yelling at me for a few weeks now.  I caved and went through and removed myself from about 20 groups on Facebook.  Some were private, some were closed, some were inactive.  I felt so much stress just go away when I made my decision.  I know where my focus should be and now I am free to get back to it.


Thanks to my mom handing hers down to me, I am now the proud owner of a Nook Color.  I am very excited to have downloaded a bunch of free books and have also started a wish list of things I want to read.  I was a hardcore resister of the e-reader movement but have to admit that I like it.  I like that I can carry multiple books in one easy device.  And if there is a book I really love, I can go buy the paper version to keep.


I love my church family so, so much.  I have made some really dear friendships there and I am often amazed at how much those friends "get me."  Last night was one of those nights where we were all deeply moved by an old hymn that we are singing in our first service this Sunday morning.  There are life circumstances for several of us that made the words so very poignant and most of us were bawling by the time we got to the end.  Isn't that the best kind of cry?  Crying because you tap into deep sadness or frustration but also feeling the relief of being surrounded by people who love you and having this profound sense of peace because it all came together through God?  It's an awesome feelings that is so hard to put into words.

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.


Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Family Meeting

Tuesday I announced that we would be having a Family Meeting on Wednesday evening.  I couldn't believe how excited the kids were!

The main topic was to talk about the plan for the summer.  We explained as much as we could about what we know about the YMCA and what it might be like.  We talked about making all new friends and the new grown ups who would be in charge.  Then we got down to business.

Zach was up first.  We went week by week.  I would tell him what the theme was for that week at the Y Camp.  If it wasn't something he was interested in, we would choose Little Explorers.  Most interesting to me was at the end when he realized that he didn't have a Cooking theme and wanted to switch to Little Explorers for their cooking week.

Zach's summer:
Get Messy 
Kids In the Kitchen
Cowboys & Space (Buzz and Woody theme)
Under the Big Top
Let's Build It
Down on the Farm

I think it will work out well because he will do a couple of weeks at the Y and then go to Little Explorers and then back to the Y- it's a mix of back and forth.  He will have the experience of a new place and new people but will also stay connected to his school. 

One of my favorite moments was when we were discussing a theme offered by the Y called "Imagination Station."  Basically a week of being the Backyardigans... he had a hard time choosing between that and Superheroes- which we thought would be his hands down choice.  But as he put it, "Using my imagination is really important to getting smarter!"

Teagan's choices were all based at the Y but she had to choose between the regular weekly theme, the cheer or dance or tumbling weeks and the special enrichment offerings for some weeks.

Teagan's summer:
Where the Wild Things Are (animals in the wild)
Sea to Shining Sea (focus on America)
Theatre: Annie

I felt like this was a glimpse into what drives my daughter.  The week she was most excited about is the Theatre week.  Obviously they won't be doing a full production of "Annie."  But they will focus on theatrical skills and learn different songs from the show.  The week concludes with a performance for the parents. 

We finished the discussion on summer camp, doing our best to answer questions that we don't yet have answers for. 

I then brought up the next topic in our meeting.  A revisit to the rules of our household. 

Jeff and I have been frustrated lately.  Our family hasn't felt much like a team.  We go to work, the kids go to school.  The kids have fun, we work hard all day.  We come home and the kids immediately start demanding food and drinks and more.  So our last topic of business was a refresher on basic house rules- respecting each other.  Patience, respect, listening.

The most hilarious part of the night?  When we turned The Middle after the kids were in bed... if you watched it, just know that there are cameras hidden in our house because the first 3 minutes of the show had to have been stolen from our family!

Family meetings.  I have to say that it was a great meeting.  I got some insight into things my kids are interested in and the family had a chance to address the family dynamic in a non-confrontational way.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Discovering Food

As I work on getting back to a regular focus on healthy choices, I am discovering how much I love food.

You might think that the reason I got fat in the first place is because I love food.  But that isn't true.  I got fat because I was consuming food-like products.  I was eating fast food, I was eating convenience meals, I was snacking on junk.  Even in restaurants, the foods I was choosing were full of junk.

Not everything sold in the grocery store is real food.  The majority of things found in bags and boxes are coming out of factories.  These are items that are manufactured, not grown.  Food should be natural products.  If it grows, it's good.

I am currently reading Michael Pollan's "Food Rules."  I previously read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and it gave me a lot to think about.  When I first committed to living a healthier lifestyle in 2010, my natural path took me towards "clean eating."  I didn't intentionally choose it, it's just what made sense.  Eating clean means eating real food, not manufactured and processed food. 

The best part of getting back to eating real food is rediscovering all of the flavors and tastes I love.  It's also exciting to find new and creative ways to enjoy these foods.

This past Friday night, I was very excited to have been invited to a friend's house for a cooking class/demonstration from Sunny's Chinese Kitchen.  Sunny is originally from Taiwan.  She came to the US to finish her education in the early 90's.  She then spent almost 20 years working for a pharmaceutical company as a scientist- including a lot of experience with GMO (genetically modified organisms).  When her son was diagnoses with Muscular Dystrophy and needed her more than ever, she knew she needed to make a major life change.  And she did.  She gave up the corporate job and dedicated herself to finding ways to keep her child healthy.  She also began teaching Chinese but her passion was in cooking healthy food.  Thanks to her science background, she has a deep understanding of how food works and how our bodies work. 

Sunny taught us how to make 2 entrees- kung pao chicken and shiitake rice noodles.  Because these were whole and natural ingredients and because the cooking method was healthy, each portion only came out to 3-4 points on Weight Watchers.

There is so much that I took away from this experience.  The first thing is that Sunny is the one who recommended reading "Food Rules" and I am so very thankful for that.  Some of the other things are things I am still learning about and processing so you will just have to wait.

For me, a healthy diet means eating real food.  It means whole milk over skim because it's less processed.  It means 4% cottage cheese over 2% because it's less processed.  It means avoiding words like "low fat" or "low cal" or "fat free" because that means the food has been messed with in a factory.  It means focusing on fruits and vegetables for meals and snacks.  It means being aware of where my meat comes from and how it has been raised. 

I can't make a huge overhaul all at one time and this isn't something I can do perfectly.  I'm not able to grow all my own plant foods and I'm not about to start raising chickens or beef cattle.  I'm also not ready to commit my meat buying to local farmers due to the expense- but it is a goal of mine by the time the Farmer's Market season rolls around.  I do rely on some conveniences simply because it's the culture I live in. 

But being back on a roll of my weekly produce bin from Green Bean Delivery helps.  Rediscovering some of the great options that Trader Joe's has to offer helps.  Weight Watchers plays a role, of course, because I am learning about portions and give-and-take. 

I also know that I am just on my third week back into this healthy lifestyle after falling very far away from it.  What I'm loving is that with the help of Weight Watchers, I am sticking to the commitment.  Because I'm committed, the depth of my rediscovery of favorite foods is deeper. 

Best of all, I have a community of people surrounding me who are also working on eating better food, moving their bodies more, and enjoying an adventurous array of foods.  Special thanks to my dinner companions from the Friday night demonstration- our host Mary, and our friends Anita, Ashli, Gail, and Victoria.  Special thanks to the women in my "Eat Smart, Move More!" group.  Having a group of people who want to share their struggles, successes, tips, recipes and who want to support others on this journey is a very important part of my success.  Special thanks to my friend Garret who included me in a group he formed on Facebook for people doing Weight Watchers.

Special thanks to my mom and my family who gave me a foundation of fresh fruits and veggies.  Even when money was tight and food wasn't always plentiful, my mom still taught me to love spaghetti squash and taught me how to steam and thoroughly enjoy an artichoke.  I see the passion for real food in her siblings and her parents through gardening and feasts prepared that include brussels sprouts and cauliflower and leeks and butternut squash lasagna and extra servings of mushrooms.

Most of all- special thanks to my husband who supports my efforts by bringing me my gym bag if I left it at home and who doesn't walk in the door with treats from DQ or a bag of McD's at night and who tells the kids "no McDonald's- the food isn't healthy and it's only a sometimes treat" and who appreciates the changes in my body and my energy level and who is trying to make some healthy adjustments to his own eating habits.


If you are in the Indianapolis area and are interested in having Sunny come to your home for a session on healthy Chinese cooking, go to her website and contact her about having your own dinner party.  Our host had purchased the event through Groupon but we all decided that we learned so much and enjoyed the food so much that we would eagerly split the cost to have another evening with Sunny.  For 6 people, the cost would be $25 per person and the information is truly invaluable and inspiring!  She also offers cooking classes and can be found at events throughout the year.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

No Time!

I'm someone who, generally speaking, prefers to live in the moment.  Or at least in the current day, week, and month.

In my job, because I am involved in the planning of products getting to customers, I have to look ahead into May and beyond for some of the orders I cut.  Sometimes, it blows my mind that I am always looking 3 months ahead.

We keep a family calendar via Google and try to plan ahead as best we can for times when Jeff is out of town or if the kids have activities or my church and social commitments.

This morning, my boss sent out a memo asking all of us to turn in our vacation requests for the year.  That way we can start to determine coverage for the "big quested times."

This morning, as I was trying to gather possible need-off dates without the benefit of next year's school calendar actually being available- I realized I needed to get moving on determining where the kids will be spending their days this summer.

It's hard having the kids split up during the school year- Jeff drives Zach to other side of our little town, Teagan goes right up the road to her school.  I miss when they were both across town together- even if they didn't spend the day together, they took comfort in being in the same general place.  We took comfort in having 1 drive and 1 pick up.

It's not even the last week of February and I have to book out our entire summer.  I have to sit down with the kids and talk about what week of which camp sounds interesting and fun.  I have to take time off work to go check out the Y and become a member.  I have to figure out the scheduling of 2 kids for the entire 10 weeks of summer and will eventually have to figure out what to do with them for the week at the end of summer before school begins (Grandma Camp, maybe?).

One great thing about "living in the now," is that there is a lot more flexibility and ability to respond to changes in needs or wants.  Planning months into the future leaves too many possible unknowns that could come along and change things.  Planning months into the future, always focusing on the future plan, leaves me less time to just enjoy what is going on right here, right now.

How about you?  Do you focus on the now or get caught up in always looking ahead?


Monday, February 20, 2012

WW: Week 2

No loss, no gain.  Held steady.

Can't decide if I'm disappointed or if I'm seeing where I need to make adjustments.

It wasn't a perfect week.  And I think my biggest mistakes made were Sunday- and being the day before weigh in wasn't a good thing, either.

I'd had a big old allergy attack on Sunday and took a pill that made me drowsy but I was home alone with the kids so I couldn't pass out and sleep it off and I think making myself stay awake through that proved to be a baaaaad thing for my eating choices in the evening.

Food wise, I'm really doing fine (except for last night).

I have to up my activity level.  My workouts at the gym during the week need to involve more sweat and more muscle exertion.  I have to find time for activity at least once over the weekend.

I tried to take the kids and dogs for a walk on Saturday.  It was chilly but the sun was shining and the kids had energy to burn and I needed to move.  Got to the corner and the kids were fighting and complaining and demanding and I couldn't take it so we went back home.  With Jeff out of town, finding time and energy to workout was difficult and I chose to make it impossible.

My focus for the 7 days ahead of me is to make my workouts a priority and to make my activity count more.  I'm going to weigh in again this coming Thursday as a check in.

I also want to share my favorite recipes from last week.

Breakfast cups (2 points per cup)

I know others have done this.  I didn't follow a recipe- just went with what sounded good.  I entered the recipe into the Recipe Builder on the Weight Watchers website and was delighted that each Breakfast Cup is just 2 points!

A dozen eggs
3 wedges of Laughing Cow (I used light creamy swiss but plan to try it with other flavors like the Fresco and Chipotle)
5 fully cooked turkey sausage links (Jimmy Dean's)

Get out a muffin tin and preheat the oven to 350.  Cooking spray in each cup of the muffin tin.  Crack an egg into each cup of the muffin tin.  Take the 3 wedges of Laughing Cow and cut into 12 chunks.  Add a chunk to each cup and push it into the egg.  Take the 5 sausage links, slice in half long ways and then slice into chunks.  I placed 6 chunks into each cup.  I baked for about 25 minutes and the yolks came out thoroughly cooked through (like a hard boiled egg).  Then I let them cool on the stove in the tin for a few minutes, then transferred to a plate to continue cooling, and then stored in ziploc bags in the fridge.

Asparagus Sauté Rollup (7 points for 1 rollup)

1 Flatout flatbread multigrain with flax
2 TB Classico Vodka sauce
Asparagus sauté mix from Trader Joe's (or just chop up some asparagus, mushrooms and red onion)
real cheese- I used Trader Joe's Parmesan-Asiago blend with the cheese in big pieces.
baby spinach leaves (fresh)

Lay the flatbread on a foil covered cookie sheeet.  Spread the 2-3 TB of sauce.  *A note on sauce- I considered using a few TB of Alfredo because the points would have been about the same.  However, I was already using the vodka sauce on the kids' pizzas so I stuck with it.  Cashier at Trader Joe's- who inspired this meal- also suggested using Trader Joe's yogurt-kale dip as a pizza sauce.*

Sauté the asparagus, onion and mushroom in about a teaspoon or so of olive oil.  Place your fave parts of the veggies on the flatbread (save the rest for another day).  Place a layer of baby spinach leaves (still raw) over the veggies.  Top with cheese.  Bake on 350 until cheese is melted.  I then transferred to a plate and discovered the weight of my veggies made it impossible to eat as a pizza so I rolled up the flatbread instead.  The melty cheese held it together.

Goals for this week:

1. Focus on WHY I choose to eat.  If I'm not hungry, why eat?  I stayed within my points on Saturday and I made healthy choices but I still know I ate myself to the point of being stuffed with each meal.

2. Make my workouts count.  Might be time to break out the Couch to 5K program again.  Even when it felt like a crappy run, I was still getting a great workout for the day.  I know a big part of my weight loss 2 years ago was because I started running.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Fun Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

Random bits of flotsam and jetsom
Ramble about my brain
Thankful for mrs4444
For making it clean again!

I am constantly impressed by how different and the same all of our stories are... while my experiences aren't the same as yours, so much of what I gain from my life experiences is similar to what you gain in your very different from mine life experiences.   Deeeeep.  Do you have any deep thoughts today?


I am so very excited for tonight!  A friend from church is having a small group of women over to her house for a class on healthy Chinese cooking!  The small group class is offered by Sunny Chinese Kitchen.  Check out the website- I think this is really cool!  What's your fave Chinese dish?


It's rare for me to pick up promotions that are offered to me.  I generally just scan past or delete the flood that comes into my inbox.  Part of that is because I'm not going to share something here that I don't truly stand behind.  Part of it is because I didn't get into blogging for promo business.  But I've been contacted on a couple of things in regards to health and fitness that I am excited to see where they lead!  Do you have fitness questions or workouts you might be curious about?


On that same note, really glad Valentine's Day has passed because the offers I was getting on interviewing divorce lawyers and promo'ing adult toy and condom offers was really getting out of hand.


Can't decide if I like this pic because they are cute together or if I find it stunning that my girl is getting so big and is so pretty.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Praying with My Kids

My kids and I do not pray together every night at bedtime.  Our family does not pray before every meal.  For me, prayer is more intimate and more about my relationship with God, my conversation with God.  And that's what I teach my kids.  If they ask to pray at bedtime or before eating or anytime, I certainly facilitate their request.

Last night, we were getting ready for bed.  Teagan was reading a chapter to us from a library book.  Zach remembered that Teagan likes bedtime tea and asked me to make some for her.  Bedtime tea is chamomile vanilla and Teagan tends to forget about it until we have the lights out and are leaving the room.  But last night, Zach remembered for his sister so she was able to enjoy a small mug of chamomile vanilla tea with a touch of honey.

As the kids got into bed and under the covers, Teagan asked if we could pray. 

We folded hands and Teagan went first.  She thanked God for Valentine's Day and for the cards she shared and that were given to her.  Then it was Zach's turn.

Dear God,

Thank you for Valentime's.  Thank you for candy and for our house.  Thank you for me being kind to Teagan and I like when I am kind and I want to be kind to Teagan every month.  I just feel so great when I am kind and I like Valentimes and my fwiends and and my house and it's just so great and so good and all the time.

In Jesus name we play,

Then he informed me it was my turn.  I said "God bless Teagan.  God bless Zachary.  God bless Daddy.  God bless all our friends and family.  Thank you for this special day to remember the people we love.  My special prayer is for those who don't feel loved.  Please, God, help them to feel your love and come to know that people who don't even know them love them through you.  Amen."

Zach wanted another turn.  He liked my "God bless..." prayer.  So he put his own spin on it with "God loves me.  God loves Teagan.  God loves Mommy.  God loves Daddy."

Teagan asked for another turn to pray.  She prayed for her friends and she prayed about the joy she had after such a good day.

The cool thing about my kids praying out loud in this free form way is that I get a little bit of insight into their world and their hearts and minds. 

Teagan shared some stuff in her prayers about friends at school.  Zach shared his pride in having been kind in a special way to his sister.

I'm not going to change my style or try to coerce my kids into praying out loud every night.  But I am going to cherish the times they want to share that conversation with me.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 14

Valentine's Day.  For an interesting read on the history of this holiday, check out this link from  Then get ready for me to slap you with a bloody strip of goat hide...

I don't have a lot of memories of angst or wooing for Valentine's Day.  I remember the collection of cards in school- the bulletin board decorated with a bag for each kid to collect their cards... and I've heard stories of kids being excluded, popular kids getting the most cards, and so on.  I'm thankful I don't have memories in that arena.

I see tons of Pinterest inspired Valentines floating around this year.  I admire my friends who are making fish bowl cards and treat bags with mini-shovels and making heart shaped crayons and more.  I'm not crafty, I don't have time, and I generally don't have the patience for that sort of thing.

My kids are very excited to be giving out Scooby Doo Valentines- including a Scooby pencil.

For Zach, being just 4 years old, signing his name to 18 cards was an exciting responsibility for him.  He liked writing his name and he is looking forward to the celebration at school today.

This year, Teagan took the class list and carefully wrote out the name of each of her classmates and signed her name to each card.  She filled out some special cards for her teacher, the head of the aftercare program, and one for the school principal.

Then she said to me... "Mommy, I need to do one more card!  I forgot about Kelly!"

I've never heard her talk of someone named Kelly from school.  I asked who Kelly was... and the answer filled my heart.

Kelly is one of the kids in the special needs program.  She spends some of her day a few times each week in Teagan's classroom.

To me, that is what Valentine's Day is really all about.


Monday, February 13, 2012

WW: Week 1

I am debating how honest I want to be in a very public way... do I post my starting weight?  Or just the pound movement?  Have to think on that a bit.

Monday through Thursday were great days.  I found that making good choices with food and activity meant being able to be a little loose when needed- like grabbing Taco Bell (where I could still make decent choices thanks to the Fresco menu) on a busy evening or while out running errands.

I was traveling Friday and meeting friends for dinner.  Fast food on the drive and Indian food over-consumption used up my bonus points.  Saturday was a big family dinner but it was a healthy dinner and I easily filled up on a variety of veggies.  That allowed me to go for pie... of the mom's homemade chocolate cream variety.  And I still stayed under my points on Saturday.

What I learned was that using points for bonuses is sometimes important and necessary but also that big meals, even when under points, isn't a good way to go.  When I was on track Monday through Thursday, I felt good.  I was satisfied with my food, full from my meals, and enjoyed fruit as snacks.  I made it to the gym each of those days.  My Friday regret was fast food.  Whopper Jr no cheese was no big deal but more points than I would have gone for if I had been paying attention.  Giving in to some fries was more of an emotional choice and not worth the points.  The dinner with friends was worth every bite simply because I enjoy Indian food but don't get to have it often.

The big meal on Saturday was under points but I overate.  Yes, I overate healthy food.  But I was stuffed and I over-indulged.  This was a family gathering and my family had gone to a lot of trouble to prepare the feast.  Emotionally, I would do it again.  My tummy might not agree, though.  The good news is that I didn't go on to eat another meal later in the day.

The weekend was more of a challenge and I did expect that.  Weekends have a lot less routine to them and the easy part of the early part of the week was fitting my healthy food choices into my routine. 

I have a favorite dinner.

Depending on how hungry I am and I do have some variations on this but basically:

1/2 c to 1 c of chicken (I use rotiserrie, no skin of course)
1/2 c of salsa (I use Wholly Salsa snack packs)
2 tb sour cream

I might have it with a serving of cilantro lime rice or maybe with baked lentil chips or maybe in a tortilla.  But it's easy and tasty and I love it.  It's a meal that's generally around 7-9 points depending on how it all comes together.

I've been sticking to cardio at the gym for the time being.  30 minutes on the treadmill- sometimes just walking, sometimes walking and jogging.  Or a circuit of 10 mins on treadmill, 10 mins on elliptical, 10 mins on bike.  I plan to stick with my cardio focus this coming week as well.  Once more weight is off, I'll focus more on adding in strength training.

1 week down...

Weight check: 


How about you?  Share a comment with your update.  If we have enough people who start participating in Monday check-ins, this could become a MrLinky thing!

Friday, February 10, 2012


I am offline for a couple days- off to visit family and friends.  Jeff will be home with some Mr. FixIt projects.  Enjoy your weekend!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dear McDonald's,

This has been boiling up inside of me for a few months now- ever since the press release went out about the changes coming to the McDonald's Happy Meal.

It is well known in my family that Mommy Doesn't Choose McDonald's.  

But sometimes... it is the easiest option.  Sometimes... it's a special treat with Daddy.  Sometimes my family eats McDonald's.  Not regularly, but sometimes.

McDonald's, you said you want to make Happy Meals a healthier choice for kids.  I am fully on board with that.  I'm looking forward to grilled chicken bites or a grilled chicken sandwich.  I'm looking forward to a side salad or a bigger serving of apples- maybe even with the skin still on them.  I'm looking forward to small bottles of water being offered- or at least being able to order water as the drink with the Meal.

But no.  That isn't the path you chose, McDonald's.

Still get the same crappy choice of hamburger or cheeseburger (nasty ground up meat containing ingredients that I can't pronounce) or fried and breaded nuggets of meat that is supposed to be chicken but is made up of a consistency that doesn't resemble any chicken I've ever seen.

No improvement.

Did we put the skin back on the apples?  Did we make the apples the standard side in the Happy Meal?  Nope.  Now, you get BOTH apples and fries in your Happy Meal.  The apples- about 4 little slices to the pack, still no skin on the apple.  The fries- a tiny size but still there.  Some stores will let you order double apples- or double fries.  Some stores won't let you do the substitution.

Drink options are still all sugary junk options aside from plain white milk.

McDonald's, you say you made this change because the number of Happy Meals being sold where apples was requested as the side was really low.  But the side isn't the only problem with the food you are offering to children!

I am big on personal responsibility.  I don't think anyone should ever look to you as a source of health food. However, if you are going to present yourself as advocating for healthy choices and express concern over the need for healthier options for kids, I'd really like you to put some money where your mouth is.

Grilled chicken bites made from real chicken- not processed from chicken parts.  Grilled chicken sandwich, grilled chicken wrap.  All great options.  Heck, even a hamburger or cheeseburger is fine when made from real beef and not a bunch of chemical fillers.

Apples with the skin on.  Grapes would be an option.  Natural applesauce (no added sugar).  Baby carrots. Celery.  Raisins. Kid sized salad. All great options.

Water. White milk.  Better chocolate milk (like TrueMoo made without high fructose corn syrup).

No soda.  No fries. No deep fried food.  Make it more of a conscious effort for a parent to feed those things to their kids.

You can do better.  But only if you choose to do better.

Until then, I guess my family and I will continue to keep McDonald's on the "only sometimes" list.  In fact, as I rededicate myself to healthy eating, it's going on the "rarely" list.

P.S.  I am forwarding this to Wendy's, Arby's, Taco Bell, and others- this is a fast food problem in general.  I wish that I could spend my money at Chick Fil A because they have the healthy options and customer service thing down to a science (unfortunately, they also have the "be like all the straight, white, Christian men or we will fire you, refuse to serve you, or pay money to fight against your rights" thing down to a science, too).  There is a REAL OPPORTUNITY for one of the big fast food names to step up and make a REAL CHANGE.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Crap Or Get Off The Pot

Well, crap.

One year ago, I was in really good shape.  I was running, I was starting to train for my first half marathon, I was eating for fuel.  I felt healthy and strong.

In a couple of months, my life would get an overhaul when new responsibilities were added to my plate at work.  It was a major increase in work load and work stress.  And it turned my healthy living upside down.  No more time for lunch- so no more lunch hour trips to the gym or to go for a run.  I would forget to eat a lot of days and would end up ordering food in or grabbing something from the vending machine.  My stress eating came back full force- junk to soothe the stress, night time munching to alleviate my guilt.

I tried to get back on track several times.  And then work would throw me another doozy of a situation and I would easily fall back into working through my lunch break and not going to the gym and relying on stress eating for comfort.

I realized recently that I can't do this alone.  For the first time, I was going to need serious help to get this done.

I attended an informational meeting at work about my company's intentions for Healthy Living opportunities in the coming year.  And I knew I needed to make some changes.

It's time to do something.  Or quit altogether.  I feel like I've done enough quitting over the past months.  I'm tired of the day ending and me realizing that I've skipped any activity, that I've consumed junk, and that I've calmed my stress with food.

It's time to crap.  More than that, it's time to give a crap again.

I am taking a step I've never taken before.  I have to say that it really scared me.  It was the biggest recognition of my fat status...

I joined Weight Watchers.

I'm going to do the online program for 3 months.  My intention is that this will get me back into a routine, even with the not-so-new-anymore changes in my life.

I've already got some great support from friends.  I have friends who have done WW before and are doing it again.  I've got friends who have support groups on Facebook that they have invited me to be part of.

I'm enjoying the refresher in the ease of preparing veggies as a quick snack.  Last night, I made cauliflower poppers as a TV watching snack.

It's another step on the journey.  Another step towards setting a healthy example for my family, towards feeling strong and healthy, towards wanting to set a fitness goal.

In the back of my mind, I keep thinking that the first 5K I ever ran is one that I want to run again this year.  And I'd love to run it better than the first time and better than the second time.

It's time to crap or get off the pot.  I'm not done trying.  I'm not giving up.  Turns out, I'm ready to crap.

Edited to add:  I'm going to dedicate Mondays to my healthy living update.  Monday is the day I weigh in for Weight Watchers.  I have friends dedicating themselves to healthy living- some through WW, some on their own.  I'd love it if we can check in together each Monday and share successes, challenges, and so on as we feel comfortable.  We're all going to crap together!  Wait, that sounds wrong...


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Preserving Memories- Lillybug Photography

A special guest post today!


First, I would like to thank Liz for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to share with her readers a little bit about myself and a little special gift just for her readers. I’m Sarah and I live on the North side of Indy with my 4 year old daughter, husband, and 2 golden retrievers….all of that equals never a dull moment! In addition to being an on-location photographer, I am a stay at home mom and homeschool our daughter. I have always lived in Indiana (grew up in Mishawaka), went to Ball State & graduated with 2 degrees in Elementary & Deaf Education, my husband and I got married, and we moved to Indy. At the time, I worked for Pike Township for four and a half years as an itinerant Deaf & Hard of Hearing teacher. I would travel between 13 elementary schools and service 26 kids on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Before becoming an official stay at home mom I also worked for one year at the Indiana School for the Deaf where I was an Early Intervention Specialist. While I was there, I coordinated play groups and provided home visits to families where I educated them on their child’s hearing loss.

Thinking back to my childhood, I am pretty sure I received a new camera every Christmas, each one with a new feature and more advanced from the last. At a young age I had a love of photos; I loved taking them, anxiously awaited for them to be processed (thank goodness we don’t need to have photos processed anymore, I am really not a patient person, I LOVE this digital world we live in!) so I could live through those special moments again, and another fun hobby, putting those photos in a scrapbook where the story was retold. I remember one time with one of my film cameras; my sister and I had a friend over and while my mom was visiting with a friend we were in my bedroom, door shut, having a "Glamour Shot" session. We dressed up, had umbrellas as props and went through 2 rolls of film. I will never forget looking back through those pictures remembering how mad my mom was when those photos were developed in that we ‘wasted’ the film but oh the fun we had. It was so worth it!

Fast forward to staying at home I felt that even though I am loving the stay at home, homeschooling life something was missing. That missing piece to the puzzle was me following my love and dream of being a photographer. Last year I was talking with a friend, one who had actually gone to school to be a professional photographer. The church he was working for was moving in a different direction and he was left without a job. In conversations I mentioned that he should be a photographer and start his own business; I even told him that I would join him in this journey. In that, an amazing journey would start for us, we started planning our partnership together, he mentored me, and in the timeframe of a couple of months Lillybug Photography was created. Then last July he was offered an amazing opportunity, one that he couldn’t pass up and would have him move to Arizona in the matter of a couple of days. Although I was disappointed that one of my best friends & business partners would be leaving, I knew this was something he wanted for himself and of course we supported each other. I supported him in his decision to go forth and follow his dreams and he supported me in continuing Lillybug Photography without him.

Since we have created Lillybug Photography, it has blossomed. I have been able to touch many families and capture their special memories. Each session is a special session, it tells a story, it captures each individuals personality, and it creates memories for each member of that family for the years to come. I have loved every type of session I have been able to capture. Engagement sessions that are full of love, maternity sessions that are full of excitement & wonder, newborn sessions that are full of pure innocence & beauty, and family sessions that capture your family as it grows. I’m especially excited to capture the memories at three weddings this summer, an extreme honor.

With that, I would like to offer 2 special readers of Liz’s blog a session with me for only $75 (50% savings). Your session will include up to 2 hours of photography time, a disc with 50-75 edited photos on it and a print release so you are able to print your photos as you wish. I will also include for free an upgrade on your disc that will include every photo on your disc in color/black & white/sepia (a $40 value). In addition, I would appreciate for those 2 special winners to write a small review on your session experience and your photos.

For any other reader that would like to take advantage of a photo session special with Lillybug Photography, I will offer you a full session for $120 and 50% off a disc upgrade; all you need to do is mention this blog post when scheduling your session. I would like to invite you to visit Lillybug Photography at and

I look forward to capturing your memories of you, your family, and your life that you can look back on and forever remember.


I hope some of my local readers will consider taking advantage of this offer!  Sarah is a fantastic woman- I've had the pleasure of meeting her a few times.  To be eligible for the special offer above (bolded), please leave a comment sharing your favorite memory that was captured by a photograph. 


Sarah was so touched by the memories shared that she is offering her 50% off special to everyone who commented yesterday!  Andrea, Michelle, Leticia, jocro3, Gina Dean, Mickey, Julie, and Nancy- Please email me so I can get you in touch with Sarah!  And Garret... if you ever come to Indy...  

There's still a drawing- 2 of those names listed above who are getting the 50% off deal will get the disc upgrade (with the black/white and the sepia images)!  And the 2 winners are...  GINA DEAN and MICHELLE.



Sunday, February 5, 2012


My daughter told me I was amazing. 

We were out making a couple of Girl Scout Cookie deliveries.  We went to my friend Julie's house.  Julie's granddaughter was there- she's 3.  She hadn't had a nap and was a bit clumsy and took a little tumble down the stairs.  Julie scooped her up and comforted her. 

I'm not entirely sure why, but I asked if I could hold her.  I picked her up and spoke quietly to her and then quietly started to sing, "The wheels on the bus go round and round..."  She got very quiet and her big eyes watched me sing.  She put her head on my shoulder and held on.  We all joked about her coming with me and she kept holding on.  Julie reached for her- and she held on tighter.  We finally left without too many tears...

Got into the car, got buckled up, started to pull away from the house and Teagan said, "Mom.  You. Are. Amazing."

And she was sincere. 

My daughter saw me do something that, for me, was a natural thing. 

And she saw something amazing. And that left me feeling pretty amazing.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Random Fragments

Mommy's Idea

I am doubling up my blog post today- giving a shout out to Mrs4444 and to MCM Mama.  Mrs4444 hosts a weekly Friday meme of fragments (click the button above) and MCM Mama picked me for a randomness meme!

Rules for the Randomness match nicely with fragments so here goes!  First, the rules.

1. Post these rules
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people!

11 Random Things (My Fragments)

I am uber-cranky today.  I didn't get nearly enough sleep last night thanks to a certain dog and a certain kid.  It was just an unfortunate series of events that led to me not sleeping much after 2 a.m.

I'm currently getting caught up on Fringe (Season 3).  One reason I love Olivia is she wears her business professional suit with combat boots.

I'm doing a first tomorrow- I'm going to a book club meeting! It's a group through my church.  They've been meeting for years and several of my friends keep inviting me but it hasn't ever worked out exactly right.  This time- it's perfect because the book is The Hunger Games and Jeff is joining us, too! So it's a date morning and time with friends and talking about one of my favorite books all in one!

I drive a minivan.  And I'm proud of it.

My city- Indianapolis- has been taken over by famous people and fans of famous people.  On one hand, it's exciting.  On the other hand, it makes me really glad I don't live near Hollywood.  

I got into an intense debate with someone over the healthiness of avocados.  My POV- healthy fat, good fruit.  His POV- fat is fat and fat is bad.

I am making yet another attempt at getting back on track with healthy living.  There will be more info coming soon.  I am realizing that this time around, I think I need help. 

11 random things about me really shouldn't be such a challenge.

If I could meet one celebrity, I think I would want to meet Ellen Degeneres.  Not in a big and social way.  But in a "let's sit and talk over a hot cup of tea" kind of way.

I'd really like to go get a pedicure and get my hair done.  

Due to a long list of needed repairs, I have credit card debt for the first time in many years.  I will have it paid off within a few months (interest free for 6 months). The bill came with information that let me know that if I pay just the minimum, it would take me 7 years to pay it off and I would end up paying $845 in interest (cost of repairs totaled $1200).  Glad I have budgeted to pay this off before that 6 months is up. 

Answer the questions MCM Mama gave for the people she tagged:

1. Do you sleep with a lovey? If so, what?  Does my husband count?
2. Where’s your favorite place to go on vacation?  The best trips I've been on were our long weekend to Gatlinburg when we got married and our family vacation to Sesame Place and the mountains of Pennsylvania many years ago.
3. Have you ever been on a cruise? If so, where did you go?  I have! My sophomore year of college, I went on a spring break trip to the Bahamas with my then-boyfriend and my roommate.  We went to Freeport and Nassau.  I have oodles of great memories!
4. What’s your favorite day of the week?  Saturday
5. Is there a vegetable that you absolutely refuse to eat?  Hmmmm... not a big fan of eggplant.  
6. How close to where you were born do you live?  Not at all! I was born in California and live in Indiana.
7. How many states have you lived in?  Four (California, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana)
8. Favorite snack?  Currently, guacamole that I make at home (as taught to me by my friend, Leticia).
9. Favorite non-running related blog?  I have a long list of blogs in my reader but rarely have time to visit all of them anymore.  My friend Ashli has a blog that I enjoy reading.
10. Are you addicted to pinterest? (find me there if you are LOL)  I'm on Pinterest but wouldn't say I'm addicted.  I pop in once a week or so.
11. What’s your favorite room in your current house?  Probably my bedroom.  I don't love it, though.  I'd like to have a room or space that is mine...

I have to tag 11 people and give them 11 different questions to answer.

I know it gave rules.  And I'm looking for peeps to tag.  And I'm happy to tag anyone who thinks this sounds fun.  I'm a rule breaker.  Anyone who volunteers- I'll add you to the post!

1. Do you like memes like this?
2. What do you enjoy most about blogging?
3. What do you find most frustrating about blogging?
4. What's your guaranteed-to-life-your-spirits song/music?
5. What are you passionate about?
6. Describe a perfect day.
7. Do you have a favorite photo of yourself?  What is it you like about it?
8. What are 3 things about the deep inside of yourself you that you wish people knew?
9. What's the best birthday you've ever had or been part of?
10. What's for dinner tonight?
11. Are you glad this meme is done?

That was harder than I thought it would be.  Sorry for the rule breaking... it's just what I do!