Thursday, January 16, 2014

Choose to Be...a great parent, in shape, a cook, a runner, an artist

Inspiration this morning comes from here: Run Laugh Eat Pie, by someone my age (ach, giving that one away, huh?) on choice. Choice as in no whining, self-pity, grumbling or complaining about it; I can choose to be mindful with my children, make water my favorite beverage, get to bed on time, make homeschooling an extraordinary experience chez nous, make time to exercise. I can choose what goes into my body wisely.

The author is also an American in the Netherlands, living a life that I can relate to in some fun ways. Thanks, Renée, for this morning's great reminder!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Early AM Teacher Prep

I find that the best way to start a homeschooling day is by making sure certain things are done BEFORE the kids are up; a load of wash thrown in, the bread in the bread machine, tidying up the playroom where we do lessons, and one more, the most important; some me, alone time. A cup of tea, a little breakfast and some exercise in whatever form it may take.

Yoga has always been my favorite; you move and stay sane and centered all at the same time. The past two months, I have been limited to seated yoga. I've tried a few videos and lots of youtube choices. Here is my current favorite:
Seated Yoga with David Procyshyn.
He is not as pretty as some of the women instructors, and his voice can put you to sleep, but the workout is very, very well done, with clear, move-by-move instructions, (very important, as my body does not always go in the direction the instructor thinks it should), and no background music, lights or distractions; a nice green field and silent birds. My the time I am through shavasana, I am relaxed to the point of a coma, yet energized to start my day with the munchkins.

Always remember to only go as far as is comfortable for you, right now, in yoga poses. It is a practice, and with time, you will grow more flexible and gain more stamina. It is not a contest. Use the extra time inbetween poses to shake out your knees or wiggle your hips.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Book Review: Defenders of the Universe by Cate Chenus

I had the pleasure of finding this review of my daughter's book in my mailbox last Sunday. It is from Ann Haily, author of several children's books. Thank you, Ann!

A well-developed story line-good characters-sparkling prose! That's what you will find in "Defenders of the Universe: Book One of the Alyssandra Triolgy" by Cate Chenus.
This debut novel by a young member of the UUCqc community introduces a believable group of Defenders who are protecting the (clueless) rest of us from the destructive machinations of determined enemies: powerful mages whose goal is the destruction of all that is human.

From the stunning cover photograph to the final, peaceful scene, CateChenus held my interest with her fresh interpretation of the "save the world" genre. She draws upon first-hand knowledge of sibling relationships, the Scottish highlands, archery, martial arts, Paris, and
storytelling to write in an immediate, active style that moves the plot through this well-constructed story.

"Defenders of the Universe" is available from in a Kindle edition. So, sad to say, no autographed copies are available! However, when I finally sat down and looked on-line, I found it quite easy to purchase a copy for my computer or Android tablet.

For the price of a 90-minute movie, you can have several hours of great reading. Folks, treat yourself and buy this book!

I look forward to Book Two.

Ann Hailey

DIY Cellulite-Fighting Lotion: French-Style

Weight-loss guides always speak of "rewards" you give yourself for goals met. What I really need is to keep my focus throughout the day so that I do not eat mindlessly while doing other things. However, I knew right away what I would treat myself to if I operated that way; the cellulite-erasing lotions I used to take the time to use when I was young, BC (or before children). I would gaze around the skin-care wall of the pharmacy, having been lured in by the posters promising the smoothest thighs in the world, and discuss potions with the pharmacist. The pharmacists and estheticians all agreed; the properties of caffeine were the best ones for battling cellulite.

In the years since, I have barely had time to think about massaging with those bumpy, hand-held devices with a special soap inserted inside, followed by 2 different creams, twice a day. I thought about buying one, then I thought about making my own, and here is what I found:

I wondered if I could add caffeine to the cream I already make. Pinterest provided the solution and here is the easiest one: (Modification: I still use beexwax in my mixes, just beat it a little more as it cools down.) Thank you, Mom Photographer, for a great recipe and a beautiful blog!

Homemade Coffee Body Lotion

Great Weight-Loss Blog, Great Recipe

Right here: Brooke not on a diet. This young lady, a local celebrity now, went from 372 pounds to 155. It took her 4 years. It took a lot of work. Hats off to Brooke! Check out her fresh, sweet, inspiring blog.

The recipe I found immediately irresistible is for French-fry Tacos, hers is a modified version. For our dinner for 7, I ended up throwing half the potatoes that were in the oven into a frying pan after 30 minutes, because that is a lot of potatoes for one baking sheet. For toppings, we added salsa, grated cheese and sour cream. I ate 2 small corn tacos for a serving and enjoyed every bite.

Weight-Loss Tips from Great Friends

On Facebook and by email, I have had responses from kind friends, sharing their wisdom and tips. I've compiled them here, feel free to add any of your own in the "comments" part below the post. Your remarks are welcome, and I read every single one, every time. Thank you!

1) Chocolate: (of course it comes first!) "Hi! My 'diet' hint is to eat Ghiradeli baking chocolate, 100% chocolate, no sugar, in tiny bites that I suck on. No chewing! I think it helps w/ low sugar problems, and I grew to like the taste somehow. (Other brands cannot compare.) It is not really possible to eat much of this."

2) The Power of Self-Image: "Not going to focus on the amount, just on how I feel. The sun and weather here are totally my friends." from a friend who recently moved to San Diego.

3) The Details: "Good luck! I have about the same amount I'm going to lose. What's worked for me in the past was counting calories. Drinking lots of water helps with hunger/cravings."

Note: I did go back to the "My Fitness Pal" app on my phone. I got very excited the first day; stayed within my calorie limits, but friends came by with goodies and I went over a bit. The morning after, I noticed an alert, telling me that my calorie level was neither sufficient to maintain health nor lose weight; not over! I figured setting it at 1000 calories a day would be a good way to start; 1200 is the minimum for a woman. Life is fabulous.

4) There were emails I can no longer locate about the importance of water and the habit of cleansing or fasting for a day or a week. I've had greatly appreciated offers from friends to walk or run with them; thank you!  

I woke up to a feeling of contentment with the universe, life, myself, including all body parts. This well-being, I believe, is at the root of moving forward. Love yourself. Love the divine in yourself, it is each one of us. When you love and honor the goodness that is you, because you are good, you can then love and give to the rest of your family, to the rest of the world.  

Even as I know this to be a profound truth, I can't help but wonder to whom I may give my extra 25 pounds? 

Gift to Me from a Loved One: Mama Fitness

My husband came home two days ago with groceries and a plan. It seems he does read my blog...who knew! As a birthday gift to me, he has offered to prepare meals and snacks for me with power foods that will help with my weight-loss, and not "because he doesn't find me absolutely beautiful, but because he doesn't like to see me unhappy." I love this guy. And he knows how to cook, too!

For those of you who do not wish to hear about what I had for breakfast (hi Mom), you can skip to the next post. If you are looking for meal ideas, by all means, scroll down. Have a healthy day!

Here is the list of foods:
sweet potatoes
whole grain cereals
chicken thighs
egg (1 per day)

Day One, Meals:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with dried blueberries and almond milk (sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon)
Snack: Almond milk with coffee (that's the way I drink it)
Lunch: Salad: artichoke hearts, tomatoes, roasted red pepper, pine nuts, red leaf lettuce, feta, all with an olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing, recipe below, with an ounce of mixed nuts (pistachio, cashew and almonds) and a shot glass of white wine
Snack: an ounce of mixed nuts
Dinner: out for date night, we split a grilled shrimp dish with onions and avocados, a few chips and salsa

Vinegrette: 3 T olive oil, 1 T balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, stir thoroughly, or make more and shake in a jar before use. Keep in fridge. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A New Year, New Fitness Moves

I am not a maker of New Year Resolutions. However, the very air and the internet being full of them, I find myself reflecting too, on what the past year brought and what I hope to include in this one...or discard of, such as a number of pounds. Overall, I am fitter than I have ever been; I have increased my muscle tone, my strength, my endurance...the only problem is that it is still hiding under a nice layer of body fat. 

Weight-lifting, yoga, bike and other machines are the winter weather, broken-foot friends I meet with daily. I can do more sit-ups and leg lifts than I ever attempted in my younger life...and yet my weight has plateaued. Forever ago. I have never weighed so much outside of pregnancy. It stinks. I do not, though, weigh any more than this time last year. One small achievement.

So what is the next move?  I have the firm intention of sculpting my body into a goddess-like shape in the coming year. I mentioned this jokingly to a friend the other day, but I think it might just be the very thing for 2014, a goddess my age that is. I am aiming for health and strength above all, so that I do not have to interrupt exercise every other minute because of an injury.

How to go about it? We already cook all of our meals at home, except for the occasional date night out and the occasional coffee out...hmmm, those mocha lattes are really full of goodness...and sugar...and calories. Ditch those, substitute with green tea. 

We eat lots of fruits and vegetables, protein in lean meat, nuts, eggs and beans, almond instead of dairy milk, yogurt or fruit for most desserts, not many grains, an occasional rice cake, and water is the beverage served at the table, (besides dinner which usually means a glass of wine). 

No between meal snacking...or is there? Cooking and cleaning and hanging out in the kitchen are adding up to bites of this, a sip or two of the kids' hot chocolate while making it, handfuls of that (normally Ghiradelli chocolate chips), a glass of wine before dinner, some chips with the wine. 

This is a lifestyle problem. There is a lifestyle solution, I just have to find it. I've tried staying out of the darling husband is a great cook, but I need to do some of it, being the main person at home. I am weak, chocolate is a drug, and I love the whole before-dinner relaxation with my husband or while cooking alone. 

Would the French have a glass of wine while cooking? NO. They might have a drink before dinner, but it would be seated and planned. Do Americans usually have a drink before dinner? Ah, it would seem that some of us have a permanent drink happening in our giant-sized soda cups. 

I have a giant water mug from the maternity ward...the nurses finally took pity on me after being there for so many births in a row that they gave me my own mother-mug. It is equipped with a straw hole,  but it is made to sit by a hospital bed and it leaks when moved. Maybe I need to buy some straws or a fresh water bottle.

I am open to ideas that have worked for you. Do you have weak spots and how did you solve them? What are your fitness resolutions for the year?