Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happy Christmas!

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

See below for a photo of Mike, my ridiculous siblings, and me. We are sitting in front of an atrocious yet awesome number of gifts. I can’t tell you how overwhelmed with love and appreciation I feel on this day. I hope all your days are/were equally wonderful.

321149_10152351078890258_302537771_n^ I’m the one in the back in the red sweatshirt. I was doing the true ugly face that I was taught by my best friend šŸ™‚

Monday Advice: Enjoy Your Holiday Meals!

Alright ya’ll, listen up! For the next 24 hours, do everything you try not to do on a regular basis.

For example:
– Don’t exercise just sleep in instead!
– Keep on your pajamas for as long as possible.
– Eat that cheese and chips and stuffing and dessert!
– Just enjoy the holidays.

The catches (you knew there’d be a few):
– Note how your body feel before the crappy food and after. Remember that feeling.
– Try to throw in some veggies (raw if possible) even if it means sneaking a salad in the middle of the day. Remember how good you feel after you eat those.
– Go on walks! Walks any time of day any weather during the holidays are wonderful. Do it with a loved one. Just take a quiet break from all the shenanigans and get your blood pumping.

That’s pretty much it. I’m getting my routine check up at the doctor right now. After this, let the relaxation begin!

One more thing, make sure to thank all those people that have to work today and tomorrow. There’s a lot of people that have given up their holiday to make sure the world keeps turning. Thank you guys!! Hopefully you get some time to rest too.

Much love and Merry Christmas Eve!

Friday Design: Christmas Cards and Snow!

I haven’t mentioned Christmas much in this here blog. That’s because everyone celebrates different holidays in different ways and I want to continue to deliver information for health no matter what the season. However, today I am just TOO excited! In fact, it’s 6 am. I’ve been awake for an hour. After 5 hours of sleep, I woke up and can’t force myself back to bed. Thank goodness for blogs! A few reasons I can’t sleep:

  1. The world didn’t end, so that’s cool.
  2. Mike and I leave for San Diego today.
  3. I get to see my family for the first time in 6 months!
  4. This will be Mike’s first time meeting my very rambunctious siblings and my wonderful Gran and Grandpa. Should be interesting.
  5. I haven’t packed yet and still have a full work day ahead of me.
  6. We had a blizzard in Peoria yesterday and the city is so beautifully coated with snow (see below). I am SO thankful, though, for the dedicated people that wake 5 hours before me to plow and shovel it all out of our way.

FirstSnow^ check out our back porch.

Ok so! This year I decided that I wanted to do some Christmas cards. Somehow I have managed to live my life in a such a way that a lot of my very closest friends and family are scattered all over the world. China, Britain, and every corner of the US. How do I tell them I love them without spending a fortune? Handmade Christmas cards!

ChristmasCard

These babies took me about an hour each. I made 13 of them. [I’m not sure these have reached everyone yet so if I love you and you haven’t gotten one yet, hold tight] Aside from the card, I also wanted to give them a gift. Something that everyone could use, something healthy, and something easy. Mulling spices! I made my own mulling spices, packaged them up, and put a satchel in every card.

I love these cards. I put a lot of heart and effort into making them. But JEEZ they took a long time. Also, they ended up being rather expensive to mail because they count as a “package” rather than a “letter.” Obviously my loved ones are worth it but they may be getting something a little less bulky next year.

Anyway, that’s my story for today. I’m completely exhausted but totally giddy. I get to see my family today!! I hope you all have wonderful weekends planned. Keep on smiling, they’re even more contagious this time of year šŸ™‚

Throw-It-In-Your-Bag Thursday: Homemade Trail Mix

I’ve been getting a little fired up in my posts the last couple days. Warning, that trend is about to continue … I’ve been getting it from patients and friends: I just don’t have time to eat healthy! I have so many presents to buy and still have to work my job! OH-EM-GEE guys. This is not an excuse, it just means that you have to be better planners for the few weeks that your schedule is tight. If you can learn to do it now, imagine how many busy times it will help you through.

Here’s what most people do when they don’t have time to pack a lunch: eat fast food or don’t eat at all (less likely but the healthier people think this is a better option). NEITHER of these is ok. You MUST eat multiple times a day to give your body the nutrients it needs to function properly, you’re not going to get those nutrients from fast food. End of story.

Now that we have that established, how the heck do you bring enough food to last you an entire busy day??

Well, you can make a smoothie (recipe for an awesome one is on its way), make a healthy sandwich, bring a couple pieces of fruit and….drumroll please…make your own trail mix! YAY!

photo 5

The trail mix has to be homemade because packaged and pre-made mix usually has quite a bit of sugar in it. Sugar coated dried fruit, nuts roasted and nutrients killed, or just plain chocolate chunks that pretty much cancel the goodness of the other stuff. I’m lucky enough that my grocery has an awesome bulk section (see above) but you can buy packaged raw nuts and seed too. No excuses.

A Few Rules:

  • no roasted nuts
  • no sweetened dried fruit
  • no chocolate unless it’s unsweetened
  • NO SUGAR

Trail Mix Possible Nuts:

  • almonds, raw
  • cashews, raw
  • walnuts, raw
  • pecans, raw
  • pistachio nuts, raw
  • brazil nuts, raw
  • macadamia nuts, raw
  • Any other nuts you like but NO PEANUTS! The processing of those hasn’t been so great lately.
  • sunflower seeds

Trail Mix Possible Sweetness:

  • raisins, unsweetened
  • dried cranberries, unsweetened
  • dried apricots, unsweetened
  • dried mango, tough to find unsweetened but so tasty when you do
  • chocolate morsels, unsweetened (aka. bittersweet chocolate chips)

Instructions:

  1. Buy a few bags of whatever ingredients you like and keep them handy.
  2. Throw a couple handfuls of each into a resealable plastic bag whenever you need and throw them in your backpack, briefcase, or car. Make enough to last you a few days.
  3. That’s it!!

TrailMix1-Published

I made this mix while writing this post. It took me a total of 2 minutes and 39 seconds. Just kidding, I didn’t time myself. But it was really quick!

Anyone else have mix-in ideas?

Workout Wednesday: Don’t Stop Now!

Yes yes, I know, “It’s the holidays, I spend all my time Christmas shopping, I don’t have the energy to think about myself, there’s too much bad food around, blah blah blah.” THERE ARE NO EXCUSES. If you read this blog, you probably interact at least a little bit with other health conscious people and, right now, they’re all giving you some wonderful information. It is possible to still enjoy the food, just load up your plate with vegetables before you add anything else. Plan your gifting so you can knock it all out in one day. Focus on yourself for a half hour a day, that’s all it takes!

I don’t care what life situation you’re in, it is ALWAYS better to care for your own health before that of others. You know in the airplane, how you’re supposed to “secure your own oxygen mask BEFORE assisting others?” I know it’s hard but it makes sense. If you’re unhealthy/can’t breathe, you’re unfit, unenergized, or dead before you can even help one other person.

Good thing I’m here for you huh? Because there are these awesome 12 or 16 minute workouts I talk about a lot. Maybe you’ve heard me once or twice? They’re all you need during the holidays. Just do this a few times a week, load up on those veggies, and TA DA! You emerge in January looking and feeling just as svelte as you did in August.

Today’s workout:

Beginner through intermediateĀ (12 minutes)

– 20 seconds on/ 20 seconds off

– each exercise 3 times in a row

AdvancedĀ (16 minutes)

– 30 seconds on/ 10 seconds off

– each exercise 4 times in a row

Exercises:

LowJacks1Ā LowJacks2

1)Ā Beginner/Intermediate- side to side step/ jumping jacks, Advanced- low jacks

PlieSquat

2) Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced- plie squat

ToeTaps(High)

3) Beginner/Intermediate- floor toe taps,Ā Advanced- high toe taps

GoodMornings(hands behind head, no weight)

4) Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced- good mornings

WindshieldWipers

5) Beginner/Intermediate- bent-leg windshield wipers,Ā Advanced- straight-leg windshield wipers

MountainClimber

6)Ā Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced- mountain climbers

plank

Bonus)Ā Beginner/Intermediate- elbow and knee plankĀ Advanced-Ā hand and toe plank

Let me know how it went!

Ps. We’re getting SO close to the weekend/holiday/sleep in time. Hope you’re all having happy Wednesdays šŸ™‚

 

Tasty Tuesday: Meal Planning and Taco Night

A common excuse for why people don’t cook for themselves is that it takes too much time. To these people I say, “NO!” If you want to be healthy, you have to figure out how it works into your schedule. Of course, I can help you with this.

My Solution: Cook three times a week, the nights you have a bit more time. Easy meals that take no more than 30 minutes. Cook double and eat leftovers on nights you really don’t have time to cook. However, make sure that you are reheating the leftovers in the oven and on the stove top, microwaves are BAD. Let the 7th day be your meal vacation day and get a pre-cooked pizza or order in.

This strategy means I only grocery shop once a week and it’s only for the three meals I need to cook plus a little breakfast and lunchtime stuff. And now nothing goes bad either!

So this week one of the three meals was make-your-own tacos. YUM. It’s cheap and so incredibly delicious.

photo 1

photo 2

Make-Your-Own-Tacos

Side Ingredients (mix or match with whatever you have, and organic is best)

corn tortillas

refried beans

no sugar salsa

cucumbers, chopped

guacamole

pecorino cheese, grated (< hard sheep’s cheese, like parmesan but without the lactose)

Taco Meat Ingredients

ground turkey or chicken (< very important that it’s organic)

1 onion, diced

1 Tbsp coconut oil

garlic, 2 cloves minced or 2 tsp powder

1 Tbsp cumin

salt and pepper

optional: portobello mushrooms, other soft veggies

Instructions

1. Cook the taco meat. SautƩ the onion and garlic in the coconut oil on medium heat for 5 minutes.

2. Add the ground turkey/chicken, spices, and veggies. Set to medium-low heat and cover. Stir occasionally while heating side ingredients. Cook for a total of about 15 minutes.

3. Heat refried beans in a pot on stove. Stir frequently.

4. Heat tortillas in oven on lowest setting for 5 minutes. While you’re plating the sides.

5. Put it out all nice and pretty and let people serve themselves! Enjoy.

Hope you’re all having wonderful Tuesdays šŸ™‚

 

Very Last Monday(?): Bucket List

Well as everyone knows (unless you’ve been living in a hole for the last 10 years) the Mayan calendar ends on Friday. Obviously this means that the entire universe will coming to a grinding halt and … what is supposed to happen? Are we all gonna blow to smithereens? Will we just freeze over and die slowly? Hmmm. Not something I like to really think about but I do find it really fun to think about just how ridiculous this end of the world thing is.

Anyway! In light of the projection of the world ending, and also because of New Year’s coming up, let’s share some of our bucket lists. Only the fun stuff though. I don’t think we need any more negative than we’re already getting this week.

My Bucket List (only the fun stuff):

1. smash a guitar – Something about the big clang and splintering of wood sounds so satisfying to me.

2. mud wrestle – I love an excuse to get muddy. The wrestling part is just my competitive side coming out because I WOULD win.

3. hang out of Cirque du Soleil performers for a day – I’ve seen 7 Cirque shows to date (yes I’m really flippin lucky) and I’ve always wondered what type of person it takes to create such a performance. I’d love to see their pre-show warm ups, how they wind down at the end of the night, and how they interact with each other.

4. attend a Rugby World Cup Final – Preferrably in Millenium stadium in Wales. I’ve been to a few rugby games and get drunk with the energy of the place (maybe the beer helps a bit too). My dad and friends tell me that the World Cup final is completely overwhelming and wonderful. I just want to do it.

5. visit every continent – this started as every country but that’s just FAR too many that I don’t care to visit. The continents that I have not been to are Antarctica and Africa but there are still lots of places in the other 5 that I’d love to explore.

6. make out under a waterfall – Not a fake, man-made waterfall. A real one. In a tropical place somewhere (Hawaii?). And not technically under it but BEHIND it. I don’t want to drown in water.

7. get in a fist fight – It takes a lot to get me angry but once I’m there, I’m a pretty little ball of rage. One day I would like someone to make me mad enough that I can pound on them a few times. Again, I WOULD win.

There are a few more but 7 is a good number so I’ll stop there. Also, upon inspection, it’s really interesting how many of these are violent and competitive. Just don’t get me mad people!

What’s something on your bucket list?

Fun Times Friday: Date Night Creativity

If you’ve been following this blog for a bit, you know that Mike and I go on a date every Saturday night. Each week we switch off planning and paying for them and, if possible, we make it a surprise. So last week was mine and, considering I’m on a VERY tight budget I’ve had to get pretty creative with what we do. My budget most weeks is about $25 for both of us. How the heck do I figure that out??

Well if you keep an eye out for free events going on in your town, you never know what you’ll find! There’s a nice, upper class area called Peoria Heights that I drive through every once in a while and I saw a sign for “Chocolate in the Heights.” You know those signs that you tend to ignore because you’re just too busy going about your day? This was one of those. But since I’ve come to realize my not awesome financial state, I’ve started actually looking at those signs! There was no description of what it was, just that it was the next Saturday (yes!) from 10am-5pm. I did a little searching and found a slightly more detailed poster for the event.

chocmap2012brochure

Using my deductive reasoning, I assumed that each boutique and shop on the main street would have some kind of deal on chocolate and/or something free to offer. Done and done!

As usual, I planned to take him to this event and then bring him home and cook a nice, sit-down meal for us both.

I kept it a surprise until we parked in the Heights and let’s just say Mike looked less than excited. However! I kept the energy going. I gave us $15 to spend on chocolate and whatever else we wanted and, because I had to work late, we had an hour to do it.

It ended up being REALLY fun. Of course we only took one picture because I was too excited to remember to take more. But we discovered a whole street of awesome shops we didn’t know were there: an oil and vinegar shop with about 30 different types of gourmet vinegar (cool!) and a few more specialty shops with random but also really unusual knick-knacks. We got some great gift ideas for Christmas.

photo-3

^ Yep, I look like I’ve just discovered gold.

We used this as our food vacation day and got lots of delectable treats. Free stuff we indulged in: chocolate fountain (see above), chocolate pretzel clusters, oil and vinegar samples, cheese, wine, beer, and chocolate cupcakes. With our $15 we bought an amazing triangle of cheese, a bar of specialty chocolate, and some Pear Balsamic Vinegar. And we had such a good time scoping out the options and then going back to the shops to purchase what we wanted.

So it’s possible! To have a few hours of fun and still stick to your budget. You just have to keep an eye out for free things around your town.

Happy Friday everyone! šŸ™‚

Thirsty Thursday: Spiked Peppermint Hot Cocoa

I don’t drink very much. In fact, I really dislike being drunk. So when I do drink, it’s because I love the taste and the calmness it can sometimes give me. Anyway! I get lots of questions from patients (whispered of course) along the lines of: please please please tell me I can still have a glass of [insert alcohol here]? Good news! While the company I work for may not condone it, I whole heartedly support a solid glass of something alcoholic every once in a while.

Wine is great, beer is great, and liquor is great BUT (you knew it was coming) there are a few rules to remember when drinking:

1. Alcohol is very high in calories and while I don’t think ANYONE should be counting their calories, they should be monitoring the amount of bad calories they take in. And yes, alcohol counts as bad calories. So if you’re trying to lose weight, limit the amount you consume.

2. Most mixed drinks are loaded with sugar. And I mean loaded. If you’re going to have hard alcohol, mix it with soda water, tonic, or just drink it straight. This keeps the calories and the sugar content down. My drink of choice is tequila on the rocks with lime. Delicious, effective, and relatively healthy.

3. Normal beer contains lots of gluten. Some people are unknowingly gluten-intolerant.Ā If you’re getting outrageous hangovers, a bloated belly, stomach pains, or headaches while drinking it may be time to consider the gluten-free option of drinks. Redbridge is my favorite.

4. Non-organic wines have added sulfites and lot’s of people react to it without knowing they’re having a reaction. If you experience any of the symptoms from #3 while drinking wine. Try organic wine and see if they go away. Organic wine has no added sulfites. Any sulfites in organic wine are naturally produced through the fermentation process. If you find that you have less of a reaction with organic wine, try sulfite-free wine next and see if that feels even better.

Side Note: If you feel at risk for addiction, there are special rules that apply. You should limit or completely stop your intake of alcohol until you speak to a psychology professional.

With that said, I recently made one of my favorites. A delicious, holiday drink:

Spiked Peppermint Hot CocoaĀ (1 serving)

Ingredients

2 cups coconut/almond/raw milk

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 oz (half a nip) of peppermint liquor

InstructionsĀ (not sure why the photos are so crappy, sorry!)

photo 1

photo 2

1. Heat the milk in a pot on medium heat. Stir in cocoa while heating.

photo 3

2. Remove from heat, stir in liquor.

Enjoy! šŸ™‚

What’s your favorite holiday drink? Let me know and I’ll try to make a healthy version.

Workout Wednesday: Do You Brace?

The brace: anyone heard of it? Not like for your teeth or a broken limb, for your abs silly! It’s this position that you should be aware of no matter what type of exercise you do. It strengthens your core, supports your back, AND helps give you that awesome 8-pack you’ve been dreaming of.

Brace: tighten your lower abs. Tighten so you feel like your attaching your abs to your lower back. Now keep your abs there and breathe. This is how you should be exercising. There are exercises where the brace is more important but if you can learn to do this throughout your exercise routine you’ll start to see huge differences. This applies to weight lifting, riding bikes, running, swimming, EVERYTHING!

Finally for today’s workout:

Beginner through intermediateĀ (12 minutes)

– 20 seconds on/ 20 seconds off

– each exercise 3 times in a row

Advanced (16 minutes)

– 30 seconds on/ 10 seconds off

– each exercise 4 times in a row

Exercises:

TriDip

1. Tricep Dip

pendulum-lunge-ex

2. Speed Lunges (hold your feet in place. quickly straight then bend legs into lunge. switch sides half-way through each set)

RussianTwist

3. Russian Twist

ProneTrunkRaises1

4. Swimmers

fire-hydrants-moves-to-tone-your-butt-05-full

5. Fire Hydrant (switch sides half-way through each set)

4-bob-harper-exercise-moves-high-knees-lgn

6. High Knees

Now I have a question for all of you: How many times a week do you workout? Once, Twice, 6 times? And for how long each time?

Hope you’re all having wonderful Wednesdays! šŸ™‚