Tag Archives: challenge

Final Day of the Challenge!

Yes, yes . . . the final 30-Day Challenge post has come. But don’t fret, I will still be blogging about food choices and recipes, reviewing new food items, and, of course, filling you in on my exercise progress. But before I give you a run-down of what I have learned, let’s go over yesterday’s meals.

Breakfast was two slices of whole grain bread with about 1 Tbsp. of almond butter and 1/2 Tbsp. of jam on each. I also had some more green grapes and blueberries. Can you tell what fruit was on sale this week? (;

I had a ton of work to do in the morning and time just flew! So, when 2 p.m. rolled around and I realized I had not yet eaten lunch, I decided to roast a mix of fresh and frozen vegetables in the oven. Everything you see is frozen except for the portobello mushrooms; those were left over from when Dan marinated them the other day. I threw a bit of olive oil on top, put the oven on 425 degrees and roasted them for about 12 minutes. I sliced some Trader Joe’s teriyaki-flavored baked tofu and put it on the side.

After lunch, I did some more work, and then went for a walk with my sister around 4 p.m. We walked (and talked) through some serious hills — yep, the one-miler! — for a little more than an hour. It was good to get out and sweat and, of course, spend some time with my sister. I will miss those impromptu walks when I move. ):

Dinner was a Boca Savory Mushroom Mozzarella veggie patty on two slices of whole grain bread. I added about 1 Tbsp. each of ketchup and Lemonaise Light, along with a few leaves of Boston bibb lettuce. This was the first time I tried this kind of Boca patty, and I really enjoyed it. I was hoping for some bigger chunks of mushrooms in the patty — I love them! — but there was a really great mushroom taste to make up for it.

So, that’s it! My last day of the Challenge. But don’t think that the everyday “challenge” stops here. I will continue to work toward living a healthy life, and I will be sure to share it here with you. But, in the mean time, a few things I have learned along the way:

1.) Portions, portions, portions! I was much more conscious of portion sizes when I knew I was going to be sharing my dietary habits with the World Wide Web. Even when I splurged, I tried to watch what I was eating for the rest of the day and/or limit my intake of whatever it was I was enjoying — except for those dang s’mores! It’s a factor I am still working on, but this experience helped me to pay more attention before digging in.

2.) Fitness is key. At least, for me it is. On the days that I got up and got moving, I ate better, was more focused at work, felt better and slept sounder. I already knew all of these things, but the Challenge helped me to reaffirm the importance of physical activity in my daily life. Even if I take a break from computer work and only go for a 10-minute walk, it helps me. I do wish, however, that I would have shared more of it with you. I feel like I was so focused on food, food, food, that I missed the emphasis on exercise in the process. Perhaps, I will to share more of that with you over the next few weeks . . .

3.) More fruit and vegetables. Seeing all of my meals on display throughout the last 30+ days has really allowed me to see food aspects that I still need to improve. For example, when I see a day with little or no color, I know that I really skimped on fruits and vegetables. I may not have eaten unhealthy per say, but I did lack produce. This is one thing I am still working on which, technically, should not be too hard because I love fruits and veggies. I will keep you posted on that progress!

So, I am curious: What is one of the best changes you have ever made? Let me know, and we can chat about it in the “Comments” section of this post.

Ready to take on a new change? Check out First30Days and make the change of your choice, including “Go Green,” “Dealing with Depression” and “Living Healthier.” Want to read about it? I am loving Ariane De Bonvoisin’s The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Any Change (and Loving Your Life More).

Well, I am saying so long to the Challenge, but hello to a healthier life! I look forward to continue sharing with you all of my efforts toward a better, well, . . . me! So, stay tuned. (:

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Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run

A Day on the Run and Thai Chicken Pizza Delish!

And the 30-Day Challenge is coming to a close! . . .

So, I kicked off yesterday morning with a bowl of All Bran Strawberry Fields cereal and about 1 cup soy milk. The All Bran cereals are another one of my favorite cereals, and I think this one currently takes the cake. It’s yummy!

I had an appointment around lunchtime, so I grabbed a Special K Protein bar and a bottle of water for the car.

When I got home, I was still hungry, so I had a small bowl of whole wheat noodles with a bit of onion salt and 1 Tbsp. of Smart Balance Omega Olive Oil “butter” spread.

Dinner was a special treat — Thai Chicken Pizza! It is one of our favorite’s and Dan made a special request, so I whipped it up for him (and me, too!).

This is one of the best pizzas/recipes I have ever tried, so I, of course, have to share it with you. It’s from Rachael Ray Express Lane Meals, and it totally rocks:

Ingredients

* 1 lb pizza dough

* 1/2 cup Chinese duck sauce or plum sauce

* 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

* 10 ounces provolone cheese (2 cups) or Monterey jack cheese

* 1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced

* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

* 2 tablespoons tamari

* 1 tablespoon peanut butter

* 2 teaspoons hot sauce

* 2 teaspoons grill seasoning, such as McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning

* 2 tablespoons honey

* 1/2 lb chicken breast, cutlets (about 4)

* 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

* 1/4 seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks

* 4 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

* 1 cup bean sprouts, a couple of handfuls

* Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

* 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F Form the pizza crust on a pizza pan or cookie sheet. Top it with duck or plum sauce, spreading it around like you would pizza sauce. Sprinkle the pizza with some red pepper flakes, then top it with the cheese and bell peppers. Bake until golden and bubbly, 15 to 17 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, combine the vegetable oil, tamari, and peanut butter with the hot sauce and grill seasoning. Use the microwave to loosen up the peanut butter if it is too cold to blend into sauce; 10 seconds ought to do it. Coat the chicken evenly with the mixture and let it stand for 10 minutes. Preheat a grill pan or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken cutlets for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until firm. Slice the chicken into very thin strips.

3. While the chicken cooks, mix the honey and vinegar in a medium bowl. Add the cucumber and turn to coat in the dressing.

4. When the pizza comes out of the oven, top it with the chicken, scallions, sprouts, and cilantro. Drain the cucumbers and scatter them over the pizza. Garnish the pizza with peanuts, cut it into 8 wedges, and serve.

A few things I do differently: I use plum sauce instead of duck; I have tried the duck sauce before and, it wasn’t bad, but the plum sauce is our favorite. I also nix the cilantro (Dan does not really care for it), and take the pizza out half way through the cook time to add all of the remaining garnishes before baking for the remainder of the time. It tastes better when they have a few minutes to bake in there.

I had two medium slices and was totally stuffed. This pizza is yummy, yummy, but I only have so much room in there!

Dan and I went for a walk after dinner, — it was a perfect summer evening — and then called it a night.

Anyway, I was going to combine yesterday’s and today’s challenge meals in one big post, but this is turning into a rather long one! So, I think I will talk about today’s meals tomorrow (Wednesday), and we will also chat then about my experiences during the last 30 days.

Sound good? I am looking forward to it!

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Filed under Eat, Pray, Run

Oh, Me, Oh, My … This Darn Computer!

I apologize so very much for the hiatus. I have been having some major computer issues that have kept me from doing anything properly. ):

I have some work to attend to, and then I will be back later tonight. Oh, and, by the way, today is Day 30 of my Challenge!! I will be back to update you on my progress and, of course, I think I owe you a few extra entries. So, lets say we make it a 33-day challenge to make up for the last few days?

Talk to you soon!

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Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run

Fancy Cheese, Wine Festival and Potatoes, Potatoes, Potatoes!

Whew!

It’s been a little while since I last posted and, boy, do I have some good vacation times — food, too! — to share with you.

But first: In case you are just tuning in, I want all of my readers to understand the method behind my slightly increased madness. Starting on June 9th, I kicked off a personal 30-day health challenge based on the influence of my writing work with First30Days, a Web site devoted to helping individuals change their life for the better. I have also been reading the book, First 30 Days: Your Guide to Any Change (And Loving Your Life More) and it has bee an amazing resource for helping me along in my journey.

However, let me tell you one thing — it probably was not the best idea to kick off this change before I went on vacation, one of the most self-indulgent times of my year. It’s been a bit tough to moderate. But we learn, right?

And I have been thinking that it may have not been so bad of a thought after all because vacation is a time for self-renewal anyway, at least, that is how I look at it. So, perhaps, it was a good time — especially, a good time to learn how to better control portion sizes of foods that are not so high on the healthy list. (; I have also been working on pushing the exercise factor despite the fact that I would sometimes rather just sit and read a fabulous book.

Now, when I left you last, I was heading off to dinner. Thursday night’s meal ended up being mahi mahi, chicken, a spicy black bean rice dish and grilled veggies. I had about 2 oz. each of the chicken and fish, and 1/2 cup of rice with the vegetables on the side.

I also had a small glass of wine. Mmm … this dinner was so good.

After we finished cleaning up, we took a night ride on our boat and my mom, dad and Dan jumped in. I had a slight earache, so the water just was not happening for me that night. But I did get some funny pictures of everyone jumping in — it was chilly!

Friday was kicked off with a bowl of the usual — Barbara’s Bakery Shredded Oats with about 1 cup of 1 % milk. But I jazzed it up by adding a side of some homemade potatoes. In case you have not noticed, these potatoes are a vacation breakfast staple. They have become particularly special to the 1000 Islands because these salt potatoes — potatoes boiled in salt — are a breakfast food my mom often ate with her family when they vacationed here. And so, the tradition of yummy potatoes was passed on. Most likely, however, they are not part of a healthy diet. (: But for vacation, I believe in some exceptions, especially, family food traditions!

After breakfast, my sister’s boyfriend, Anthony, surprised her by arriving a day early. Her face was priceless!

Lunch was a bit of a repeat of dinner the night before; I had about 3/4 cup of black beans and rice with a dried blueberry-topped salad. I was trying to keep it a bit on the light side because I knew we were having “fancy” grilled cheese for dinner.

I followed up lunch with a small bit of M&Ms.

Before dinner, my mom, sister and I went for a 4-mile walk. It felt good to get out and get my muscles moving!

Now, before I move on to dinner, I think this meal requires some explanation. I call this “fancy” grilled cheese because when Dan first came to the 1000 Islands we visited this store called River Rat Cheese, — I know, what a name, right? — and he came up with the idea to buy a bunch of gourmet cheeses and great bread to make some extra-special grilled sandwiches. Not much genius thought required behind that culinary creation, but oh-my-gosh these things are fabulous! Now, they are a once a year vacation dinner requirement, and I am so thankful my fiancé established that tradition — thanks, honey! I tried to keep it as healthy as humanely possible by putting it on whole grain bread. My sandwich was a mix of garlic and chive, tomato basil, and a dash of jalepeno cheese. On the side was some split pea soup from the The Wellesley Hotel. I know it kind of looks like baby food in the photo, but the fresh peas tasted so, so good. It was topped off with sliced sugar snap peas and I ate every bit of it! I was a bit full after this one . . . to say the least.

Breakfast on Saturday morning was the last bit of my Barbara’s with about 1 cup 1 % milk. Luke tried to steal it from me, but then her realized how serious I was about this cereal, and he gave it right back! (:

My last bunch of Barbara’s was followed by a trip to a book sale in Alexandria Bay. Yay, BOOK SALE!!!!! I know, books are pretty much the last thing I need, but I figure there are worse addictions out there, right? I bought about 20 used books for $13.00! Now, that’s a bargain you just cannot pass up!

I must not have been feeling lunch much that day because I only munched on a graham cracker and bananas with peanut butter. We had an XMen trilogy fest — yes, we are nerds like that! — and maybe the intensity just got to me . . . who knows! Looking back, I went a little overboard on my peanut butter dosage for the day!

Dinner was a chicken chili that my mom concocted, and it was mighty tasty! It was chock-full of chickpeas, black beans and veggies; I also had a piece of whole grain bread dipped in olive oil. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture — I must have been so hungry from skipping lunch that is slipped my mind. Sorry!

I had to buy a new cereal for Sunday’s breakfast, and it had to be very similar to my Barbara’s. So, I purchased Quaker Shredded Oats “with a touch of brown sugar.” They are tasty, too, and I wouldn’t mind using them every now and then to change it up a bit!

Around noon, we all headed to a food and wine festival in Clayton. It was so much fun to try bits of different wines, cheese and crackers, homemade dips, bread and herbed olive oils . . . yummy!

After the festival, we walked around town for a little while, where I had a piece of shortbread from a small cafe. We then went back to the cottage for some time in the sun! Before I went outside, I had a piece of a Pop Tart. OK — pause for a second. I never eat Pop Tarts, I mean — never. And as I was eating this piece of pastry, I was thinking, “Why am I eating this?” And then, I realized: Because I can! The truth is, if I did not have these kiddie foods around me, like when I am at home, I would not be eating them. Well, lesson learned!

For dinner that night, Dan was at it again with an amazing red pepper and sliced almond turkey burger concoction. I had mine with ketchup and light mayo on two slices of whole grain bread. I also had a salad and 12 oz. beer on the side. I am usually not a big beer fan, but sometimes it sounds good to me when I am eating something like a burger. Plus, I had to try one of these because they came straight from the festival! It was good, but I did not finish the whole bottle; sometimes the fizzy nature of beer gets to my tummy! I gave about 1/4 of it to Dan, and he finished it for me.

That night, I had a bit of work to do on the computer, and while I was working I had about 1/2 cup of mint chocolate chip ice cream. So good!

Well, I don’t want to inundate you with too much food and vacation food — this is an extra long blog post!! — so I am going to leave you with a TO BE CONTINUED . . . sound good?

But before I do, a few points I want to end with —

All in all, I am not unhappy with health decisions that I have been making on this vacation. A few things I would still like to work on:

  • Eating more fruits and veggies.
  • Exercising more, and adding much more strength to my routine — Don’t forget: I want those girly musk-les!
  • Eating less sweets!!
  • I need to stop skipping meals. Even if it is only every once and awhile, it makes me feel crappy!
  • Not eating potatoes for, like, an entire year! Ha, ha, ha, ha! (:

More 30-Day Challenge fun tomorrow, but for now I am hitting the sack!

Zzzz . . .

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Filed under Eat, June 2008, Pray, Run

Eating, Working, Packing, Eating, Work Out, Eating . . . Whew!

OOOOOK……. so, where did I leave you last? I feel like I have done so many things since I blogged about my walk/run session last night.

First off — Last night’s snack. I was too hungry to wait until dinner, so I had some Fage Total 2 % Peach Greek-Style yogurt to hold me over. Mmmm … I love this stuff!

Next — Dinner. I had a severe craving for something semi-naughty, so when Dan called to say he was picking up a few things to make our next couple meals at least a little interesting, — finishing up stuff has become extremely blah — I said, “I think I want pierogies.”

I know, weird, huh?

But a super Polish indulgence it was! These guys were 200 calories and 3.5 g fat (1.5 saturated) for every three; I had six, so do the math and that’s 400 calories! I dipped mine in Kraft Catalina dressing, a total weird pierogie-eating habit of mine that is all my dad’s fault! (; We also added some Trader Joe’s Prig Kring Green Beans — the usual green bean with a spicy twist. One of my favorites, and only 70 calories per cup!

Dinner was followed by a treat, and it’s one of my faves … drumroll please … Chewy Brownie Cookies from Whole Foods!! Oh. My. Gosh. I love these things. If you pick ’em just right, you can find ones that taste just like brownie batter, and for anyone who has ever eaten it straight from the bowl, you know just how luscious these cookies are! And the best part? Every two are only 160 calories, and they’re low fat. Now, that’s a win-win situation! Except for my chipped nail polish that is … ):

I did a little better with sleep last night, but still only about six hours. The best part was, however, that I slept really sound which can be a tough thing for a light sleeper like me to accomplish. So, all was well, especially since I got up early and got a ton of my writing work done!

Breakfast was the same as yesterday — a lot a bit of All Bran Strawberry Medley and a little bit of the icky Cascadian Farms Raisin Bran with about 1 cup of skim milk.

I also had a sliced apple on the side which lasted through my mid morning coffee ….

Lunch was another attempt to finish up some food, but I was OK with that because it was one of my favorite kid-like sandwiches — PB and banana on whole grain bread! I love this combo, and if you have never tried it, then you just gotta! I have Dan totally hooked. I also had a pre-lunch snack — more peanut butter!! It’s probably a bit of overload, but I am a peanut butter freak and once I start it’s hard to stop!

After lunch, I did some running around, and a little bit of packing . . . But I only got as far as my books — about 70 books and magazines! Do you think I have too many? (-: I have a bit of a book problem. If there is the slightest, tiny chance I might need it, then I just have to take it with me. Oh, well. I guess everyone has their “thing,” right?!

Good thing I always end up wearing the same few things on vacation ….

All that book packing had me bored with vacation prep, so when Dan got home from work, I asked him to go for a walk. He wasn’t too keen on the idea — I walk really fast! — but I was totally pumped to go! Aha, ha, ha, ha! … I tried to make a “Grr!” face, but I kept laughing. We ended up having a great time, however, like we always do once we get out there!

We walked for a little more than an hour, and now it’s time for more packing, a little bit of work and dinner!

Voila! Whew …. what a busy day!

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Filed under Eat, June 2008, Pray, Run

Time for a Change … Are You Up for It?

I don’t really even know where to begin this post, so I am just going to start and try to make it sound as coherent as possible.

The whole purpose of this blog was to initiate change; a huge change not only for me, but for the readers who follow it so faithfully.

We all are here because we are looking to make our lives better — whether it be by eating healthier foods (Eat), calling upon spirituality and holistic health (Pray), or getting up off our asses and going for a walk (Run).

WE WANNA MAKE A CHANGE.

But as of late, I have been feeling like I have been promoting so much change for others and ignoring the changes my own body is craving. In other words, I can dish it out, but I can’t take it. At least, that is how I feel today.

Well, I have been reading this fabulous book — The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Any Change (and Loving Your Life More) — as a result of my new job with the First30Days Web site, and I have got to tell you that it has really got me athinkin’. Mix that with my overwhelming feeling of dissatisfaction with the way I have NOT been healthfully living and you gotchyourself a recipe for change!

So, I thought, “Why not share it with my readers at Eat, Pray, Run?”

Now, because the theme of the book and Web site is to commit to thirty days of change I have kicked off my personal challenge this morning. Throughout the next 30 days I am going to blog the steps I am taking to make my day a healthier one, and, hopefully, you can learn from it, too.

I think you will.

To make things easy, a list of things I would like to change:

1.) I want to be stronger. I don’t necessarily need to lose weight, but I would like to see an overall commitment to building physical strength. I want girly musk-les. So, you will begin to see more workouts from me — I mean, I am going to give ’em all a shot! I probably won’t be able to sit down on the toilet without holding onto the sides, but I am going to go all out anyway. Look for pictures, videos and workout reviews. I look really red-faced and silly when I exercise, but your going to get it all, right here.

2.) I want to eat more healthfully. I work and run around like a crazy girl a lot, and when I do sit down to eat, I don’t necessarily feel like cooking — or eating healthfully for that matter. Eating sporadically and not putting the best foods into my body is starting to wear on me. Therefore, I will begin to post what I am eating to keep me in check, and give you some healthy meal ideas. Lemme know if you have any other suggestions for this part of the 30-Day Challenge.

3.) I need more SLEEP. Again, I love what I do and, therefore, I put a lot of time toward making my writing life better each day. This is not a bad thing in the least bit, but when it begins to completely compromise your sleep and make you lean on coffee like it’s a prized gem, you may have a problem. I do. So, I am also going to begin to try to commit to more sleep. I think it will help me eliminate stress, mood swings and, of course, dark circles. I will log it in here, and I am counting on all of you to hold me accountable.

4.) I want to be more spiritual. I have so many fabulous spiritual resources and I feel like I don’t put them to good use. Look for more tips from experts, and reviews of books, CDs and classes. Come on, people, help me say, “Ommm….”

Now, I am going on vacation at the end of the week, so some of the meals might be pretty bo-ring. But I will try to jazz it up as much as I can . . . promise.

I am going to end this post here, but stay tuned for a few more separate posts today that will highlight what I am eating and a really interesting quiz.

In the mean time, check out the 9 Principles of Change located in the right sidebar of this page. You will see them there every day, and they will serve as a reminder of why we are here.

Wanna make a change? Keep checking Eat, Pray, Run for inspiration, and sign up for the free First 30 Days daily email program where you will get the tips you need to make a change today!

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Filed under Eat, June 2008, Pray, Run

Are YOU Up for the Challenge?

exercise-buddies-2.jpgI have always found that a buddy, someone to lean on when the crunches get tough, is the best “tool” for any successful exercise or diet plan.

And for those of you who may be looking to lose weight or just to get back in shape, I have found the perfect tool for you and your closest buds!

The 2008 SELF Challenge was recently released online and in their March issue. I have always been a big supporter of the plans that SELF puts together; I love the fact that they really require little work to follow — the eating and exercise plans are completely laid out for you — and it is a regimen that you can follow with friends.

This year’s challenge really tops the ones that I have seen in the past. First of all, the nutritionist, Katherine Brooking, put together a 1,600-calorie food plan that includes easy-to-use blocks which are required to put together meals. Each block — dairy, protein, healthy fats, whole grains, fruit and veggies, an one treat — is equivalent to a specific food and portion size. For example, one treat block — the best one! — is equal to 3 Dove Dark Chocolate Miniatures or 16 oz. Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino Light. Even if you are someone like me, who is not necessarily trying to lose weight, but just eat more healthfully, this system is awesome because it allows you to learn how to put together healthy, balanced meals.

The second part of SELF’s Challenge is the exercise. For this aspect of the program, SELF has put together a cardio and strength plan which, for the first month of the program, includes 2 strength and 3 cardio sessions per week. The strength exercises come equipped with tear-out cards that include instructions, and no fancy equipment is required — just a pair of 3 to 10 lb. free weights.

As for the cardio, the thrice-weekly sessions are 25 minutes each and vary in intensities. For example one cardio workout is called “Get Slim, Gain Energy” and uses different intensities to build endurance. SELF also includes 1-minute “Bonus Burners,” such as jumping rope, which burns thirteen calories per minute.

The online portion of the program also includes down loadable video and MP3 workouts, food and exercise diaries for you to keep track of meals and workouts, and a progress chart where you can document your starting weight, measurements and ability to do exercises, such as push ups. That way, as you continue on with the program, you will be able to track your weight and health progress.

I signed up for the program today,and signed the Challenge Pledge — because putting it in writing always makes it more official! My goals this month are to get stronger and increase my endurance. What I am saying here is that I would like to be able to do more than 2 3/4 push ups, people!!

I also think that the Challenge will help me to continue to be motivated to get out there and get moving. What’s more, it could not come at a better time, seeing as how my family, friends, this community and I are preparing to participate in the 2008 Pittsburgh Race for the Cure (see sidebar for more information about our team and how to join).

I hope that each one of you, too, will sign on for the challenge. No matter what our individual health or weight loss goals are I think it is fabulous that we can use a forum such as this to support each other in our combined goal for healthier lives.

Now, get goin’!

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Filed under Eat, March 2008, Run