Tag Archives: well-being

Try This Bar!!

Good morning, lovely readers!

So, y’all know that I am a devout Larabar lover. But I just have to introduce to you this bar that I had the opportunity to try this weekend. This Kardea Nutrition Bar was sent to me last week from founder Rob Leighton along with a few others to try …. people must know I just love my bars. I had one of these babies pre-workout on Friday, and I have got to tell you — it is YUMMY, YUMMY, YUMMY! I went in with the intention of eating just half, but ended up gobbling the whole thing down! (; The chewy texture and banana flavor was just right.

Here are the stats for the Banana Nut: 150 calories, 5 grams of fat (0.5 saturated), 7 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar. 7 grams of protein and 0 mg of cholesterol.

The bonus is, of course, that the bars also help with cholesterol managment which is more than important to help maintain cardiovascular health. A perfect fit, seeing as how September is Cholesterol Awareness Month!

Kardea also carries supplements, such as Omega-3 and Whole Psyllium Husk, and olive oil pumped with 500mg of sterols.

Now, I just have to try the lemon ginger, chai spice and cranberry almond ….

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Filed under Eat, Pray, Run, September 2008

A Chilly Workout Indeed!

Happy Friday! As promised, I have some winter workout tips up my sleeve that I would like to share with you this morning. Now, I am not a fitness expert, but I have been working out for quite some time now — my mom and I did Jane Fonda when I was four — I would bring my little towel out for a workout — and Callanetics even later. (;

Working out in the winter can be tough. Not only is it cold, but it’s dark until about 10 a.m., and crawling back into bed seems like a much better option than slipping into your gear for a sweat session. But this is also the time that weight gain can creep on us as a result of holiday goodies and one too many snack sessions in front of “The Christmas Story.”

pgsnow3.jpg

Running in the Snow, January 2008

Here are a few of my tried-and-true tips. I hope they help you get you moving — even in chilly weather!

1.) If you have the dough, consider investing in some fitness gear

that will keep you toasty during winter workouts. Try Under Armour’s Women’s Tornado II Mock or the Men’s ColdGear Fitted Longsleeve Crew. You may also want to consider ear-covering head bands, tights for under pants, gloves, and even a mask that will shield your face from suffering windburn and chapped skin.

2.) At-home workouts can be a Godsend when the weather takes a turn for the worst. A few of my favorites: Jennifer Kries’ Pilates Method: Precision Pilates, The Science of Fitness with Tamilee — I Want that Body! (The leg section is killer!), Classical Pilates Technique: The Complete Mat Workout Series (Workouts for beginner through advanced) and Jillian Michaels-30 Day Shred.

3.) I actually do this one year-round: Right now, I have to climb 8 flights of stairs to get to my apartment. So, after I am done with a workout, I push myself one extra step by walking or running up the stairs. Focus on pushing out of your heels and you will really feel it in your butt! Adding these little bursts can really get your heart moving, and they make you sweat while avoiding chilly weather.

If all else fails — tough it out! Like my mom says, you can always get warm. So, keep that in mind and, if you are up for it, suck it up and get outside for a sweat session. The cold weather will be a wake up call and, when you are done, you can head inside for a warm cup of hot cocoa. Enjoy it and your newly toned body!

P.S. Happy 20th Birthday to my gloriously wonderful future sister-in-law, Michelle! I LOVE YOU, darling!!

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Filed under Eat, Pray, Run, September 2008

Weekend Wiffle Ball and Sushi . . . Oh, Geez!

Wow! What a busy weekend. I did one thing after the other and, before I knew it, it was over. It’s always a bit sad to say goodbye, but it is also nice to start the week off having had a great weekend.

On Thursday evening, I went for a run with my brother, Luke, and sister, Amanda. We hit the trails in Schenley Park and had a fun, albeit sweaty, time. It was hot! I had a bit of trouble breathing the thick air, — even at 6:30 it was still in the high 80s — but made it through the 40-minute workout anyway. Luke is training for soccer and Amanda is gearing up for a marathon, so I was traveling with quite the athletically-inclined pair!

Thank goodness for Anthony, my sister’s boyfriend, who greeted us at the end of the trail with water bottles and Edy’s Whole Fruit popsicles. Yay, for Anthony!

After our run, we hit the Squirrel Hill sidewalk sales where I got a cute sleeveless shirt for $1.00 (Yes, $1.00!!) at Avalon and a used copy of one of my favorite movies, Now and Then, at the Exchange. Both stores are places where you can trade clothing and accessories (Avalon), or DVDs, CDs and records (the Exchange) for money or items of equal value. You can also go in and check out the many items that people have traded in, purchasing them at a much lesser cost than you would if you were to purchase them new. I love the idea of reusing everyday items, and the sidewalk sale fulfilled my recycling dreams! (;

While we browsed, I had a honey green tea with tapioca pearls (boba) in the bottom. If you have never had these babies before, they are quite tasty. They are also pretty high-calorie, –about 100 calories every seven — so I do not drink boba tea often. I did not finish this one because the tea was a bit too fragrant for me.

Friday morning and afternoon was work, work, work and then, pack, pack, pack. I cannot believe we are already moving this Sunday! After many hours spent with the computer and boxes, Dan and I decided to take a short walk (about a 1/2 mile) and do some quick shopping at Whole Foods. We also sat down at one of the tables indoors, cooled off and ate some sushi. Mmmm … this was so yummy.

Saturday was another exercise session on the trails. This time my sister and I walked, and my brother, Isaac rode his bike along side of us. We made a plan to meet on the trails, but completely forgot there was a grand prix this weekend. The event caused some major blockage of the entrances to the trails, and it took about an hour for me to finally get to my brother and sister. I was on the trail and they were not allowed access it. So, I walked by myself until they found me. It was frustrating, but also quite humorous when my sister told me she feigned tears to woo a security guard into letting her on the trail — it didn’t work. (Giggle.) Oh, Amanda! Once I met up with them, we walked for about 45 minutes. My bum was a little sore after almost 2 hours of walking!

Sunday was more packing. I packed the entire closet! I also got rid of a lot of clothing that I haven’t worn in ages and it felt good to purge. Later that night, Dan and I made our way over to my parents’ house for our traditional Sunday night dinner. After dinner, we geared up for a new Shannon family tradition — wiffle ball! I have been a cheerleader the last few times, but this time I joined in and, boy, did I work up a sweat. I typically completely stink at all sports involving a ball, so I was completely surprised when I actually hit the ball! I even made a few runs into home plate. Go me! (Sorry for the dark picture.)

I wanted to focus this post on fitness because I promised to show you more of what I do for exercise. I used to be a hardcore exerciser and, while I am still pretty adamant about it, I have learned a few lessons along the way. One being that it is OK to slow down every now and then. When I was younger, exercise had to be my way or it didn’t count. Now, I have learned that it is OK to not always take fitness so seriously and have some fun à la a wiffle ball game!

I am curious: What is your favorite way to exercise? Has your philosophy changed over the years?

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Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run

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

Weekend Goodies and a Breakfast to Die For!

Wasn’t the video this morning just fabulous? I loved watching Matt Harding takes his dance moves across the world . . . just totally inspiring.

OK, folks! So, it’s time for the weekend 30-Day Challenge wrap-up. Here goes…

Friday: Lunch was one of the yummiest sandwiches I have ever had — seriously! Dan had marinated a few huge portobello mushroom caps the night before, so I roasted one and put it between two toasted slices of whole grain bread. I also added lettuce and about 1 tbsp. of Lemonaise Light. Notice the cranberry-splashed water in the background. A little bit after lunch I was craving something sweet, so I had a bowl of green grapes and perfectly-ripe blueberries. What a perfect foodie afternoon!

My brothers were visiting on Friday night because we were going to work on our bikes Saturday afternoon, so we splurged on some pizza and ice cream treats. I had two medium-sized pieces of pizza and, later, a Snickers Ice Cream Bar. We watched movies and had a blast!

On Saturday morning, I got up early and went for a 4-mile run. I forgot my watch, so I am not sure what my time was, but I think I was cookin’ it along pretty well! It felt good to be done with exercise early. After that, I was back to my usual self at breakfast— munching on one of my favorite cereals! I had a bowl of Quaker Oatmeal Squares with about 1 cup of soy milk.

Before we trekked it over to FreeRide, I had a small bowl of whole wheat shells with about 1 tbsp. of Smart Balance Omega Olive Oil “butter” spread and a few dashes of onion salt. My stomach was kind of bothering me, so I decided to keep it a little on the bland side. We worked on our bikes for four hours (more on that later!) and then headed home for some dinner.

Whew, we were tired! But we did manage to whip up some food before relaxing for the night.

The boys had chicken and tortellinis and, since my stomach was still bothering me, I kept it simple with some toast with peanut butter and hot green tea. I was feeling much better by the time I hit the sack. Must have just been a little bug.

Sunday morning’s breakfast was a huge treat: My sister, her boyfriend and I took the boys to the infamous Pamela’s! Poor Dan had to head off to work, but we thought of him with every bite! (:

Now, if you are not from Pittsburgh, you will not understand the glory that is Pamela’s, but let me try to explain. They have these amazing thin — and kind of crispy — pancakes that are as big as your plate. And strawberries and cream-stuffed crepes. And California French toast. And home fries with big chunks of potatoes. And …. oh, I could just go on and on.

I am so, so bummed, but I forgot to take a picture! Ahhh! I was so focused on eating my California French Toast (whole wheat raisin bread, dipped in egg and cooked up for your eating pleasure) that I completely forgot to snap a photo! But check out the picture (at left) of the strawberry crepes — that is what my sister ate and, boy, are they delish, too. My sister and I also shared a side of the oh-so-good home fries.

After that feast, I was so completely stuffed that lunch was definitely out of the question; especially, since we ate a later breakfast.

But, don’t worry, my eating adventures were not over just yet! After running a few errands around home — and packing some boxes (yep, it’s already moving time) — my brothers, Dan and I went to my parents’ house for our usual Sunday night dinner.

We had some great food, and I loaded my plate with corn on the cob, salad, grilled green beans and potatoes, and about a 2.5-oz. serving of ahi tuna. Again, a fabulous meal!

And, now, here I am, back to Monday, and starting the week anew. This weekend was fun, albeit a little bit indulgent, but it’s always nice to splurge!

Tomorrow is the last day of the Challenge! Meet back here to talk about some of the things I have learned, and for run-through of today and tomorrow’s meals.

Enjoy the evening! (:

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Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run

Recycle, Reuse and Drink Cranberry Juice!

So, Wednesday night did end up coming to a close with two of the chewy-licious brownie cookies from Whole Foods. (; I also had a glass of water with about 1/4 inch of 100% cranberry juice at the bottom.

Just a note: The cranberry water is just my way of jazzing up my water a bit. The pure juice is sooo thick that it only requires a tiny bit at the bottom to give the water some extra punch! Something about the cranberry juice is so refreshing and I really enjoy it added to my water once or twice a day. In addition, it’s super high in vitamin C, and research shows that it helps to prevent urinary tract infections. Not that I am particularly concerned about that, but, hey, it’s good to know!

Yesterday morning’s breakfast was a bowl of my favorite . . . Quaker Oatmeal Squares! I love this stuff — just in case you didn’t know that already! I had it with about 1 cup unsweetened soy milk. (P.S. You might notice the Coke bottle way back in the left corner there. Don’t worry — that’s from my younger brother who was visiting on Wednesday. Coke is not a part of the 30-Day Challenge! Plus, I hate most soda. Every now an then, I will have a Diet Coke, but that’s about it.)

Lunch was a small bowl of leftover mac & cheese. This was a really yummy, creamy batch if I do say so myself! But I didn’t have too much of an appetite, so I did not go overboard.

Of course, I did save room for one more cookie after lunch! I have a love/hate relationship with these treats. They are so delish, but I hate having them in the house because they are hard to resist!

After lunch, I continued working until Dan got home. We had a date to go to FreeRide, and left around 5:45. Now, let me explain to you a bit about FreeRide: I had heard about the bike co-op program from a conversation I had struck up with a girl at a coffee shop one day. I told her I loved her bike and wanted one, too, and she told me about FreeRide, a Pittsburgh co-op program where people can go and use old bikes and bike parts to build a new bike. Cha-ching! “That sounds awesome!” I told her. And it was totally up my alley — I love the idea of reusing otherwise discarded bikes and bike parts to make something new.

So, Dan and I — two people who desperately want to start using bikes instead of cars to get from A to B — made it a goal to build bikes before we more to Ohio. Well, once my brothers, sister and her boyfriend, Anthony, heard of the idea, they just had to do it, too! So, now we are all putting together and fixing up bikes, and we are so excited. They went and picked out their bikes on Tuesday evening, so Dan and I high-tailed it to FreeRide last night, so we could get the process started, too.

But don’t go thinking it’s all for free! The program works like this: There is a $15 entry fee, or you can volunteer for three hours before you walk through the shop and pick out your bike/bike parts. Then, once you pick a bike, you take it to one of the volunteers and he or she appraises it for what they think it is worth. Now, you can either pay the price, and then take your bike into the shop and fix it up, or you can “earn a bike.” This means that for every $8 your bike is worth you must volunteer for one hour in the shop.

Pretty cool, huh?

Dan and I paid the $15 entry fee because we wanted to pick our bikes out ASAP! After much looking and deciding, I found the bike of my bicycling dreams. Look how cute she is! I love that there is a rack already attached, so that I can add a basket for transporting groceries and things of the sort. She is definitely going to require some work — I need a higher seat, the wheels need a tune up, etc. — but I am psyched!

Goldie Jr. (I used to have a car named Goldie … Ha, ha!) was appraised at $30, so that means I can pay the fee or volunteer for about four hours. Dan and I decided that we are going to volunteer to pay for our bikes, and that means we may be recruited to do a number of things, including help other people fix their bikes (I better brush up on my bike knowledge!), make phone calls or sort bike parts.

Dan’s “bike,” on the other hand, will require a lot more work than mine, seeing as how it is only this as of right now . . .

See the orange and blue parts of the frame? Yeah, that’s his. Of course, he had to pick the most challenging project — Hee, hee! (:

After spending a bit more time checking out the shop, we decided to head home. FreeRide gets rather crowded after about a 1/2 hour of being open (they were open 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. last night), so if you don’t start working right away, then most of the bike stands are filled pretty quickly. So, since we took time to pick out our bikes, we decided to go back tomorrow afternoon and start working. All you have to do it tag your bike with a number given to you and leave it in to shop for next time.

I am so excited to be able to take Goldie Jr. home!

I am not sure if there are bike co-op programs in your area, but it is definitely worth looking into. What a great way to recycle and reuse, cut back on gas emissions, get a good workout, and have fun!

We didn’t get home until about 8 p.m., so that meant a late dinner. I hate eating that late, but I was happy with our night at FreeRide, so I dealt with it. I did some more work while Dan cooked up something delicious. We had mahi mahi with some sort of wonderful marinade, sautéed veggies and sliced baked potato “chips.” This was a superb dinner and a great way to end a fun night.

After dinner, I could not wait to get to bed — whew, I was tired! It was one of those nights where the distance from the couch to the bedroom seemed like a marathon. But I made it there and totally crashed! I slept for about 6 1/2 hours — still working on doing better with sleep.

And now, here I am typing away to you. That’s the update for now — I gotta go get some breakfast! Until later, have a great day . . . wherever you are!

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Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run