1. Hug, hug, HUG your friends and family. Bring goodies to your neighbors and call those that are far away just to say "love you, thinking of you!"
2. Smile everywhere. Especially driving, shopping, and talking on the phone (they can hear it!). It instantly lifts your spirit and that of those around you.
3, DO for YOU before all others. What I REALLY want to give all my friends and family is health and happiness, so create this first in yourself. Lead by example putting you at the top of your list; workouts and healthy eating will make all year round more enjoyable.
4. Have a giving plan for charities. Keep small donations on hand for bell ringers to help avoid charitable-guilt. I usually carry packaged food in my car console for those on the roadside, although I never open my windows with my kids in the car...
5. Good-bye, Clutter! I LOVE Oprah's saying "your home should welcome you" and too much stuff causes just the opposite. Clean up your space so you are welcome in your home and feel doubly wonderful by donating items in your pantries for food drives, toy donations, old clothes, blankets, and coats to shelters and old towels to animal rescue centers.
6. "Fill your own well so your cup can run over to help others." This quote from Gary Coxe sums it all up. Once you are over-following with everything you want in life, you will have more than enough to spread around.
7. Write your Christmas Letter for next year NOW: It may be the end of a long year and we can reflect on all the things we've done, good and bad. But if you were to write next year's letter now, what would you include? What would you remove? Your thoughts manifest into your reality; have your wishes "locked and loaded" for the New Year!
Quote Source: Coxe, Gary. Don't Let Others Rent Space in Your Head: Your guide to living well, overcoming obstacles, and winning at everything in life. 2006
Here is one of my favorite posts from last year, a great reminder to myself as I get ready to cook this week. What ideas are you trying out this season? I'd love to hear from you!
"There is NOTHING like home cooking on Thanksgiving. And there is nothing like turkey hangover after the meal is done. Here are some sneaky substitutions to try this year to minimize the gut pains and maximize the family enjoyment.
1. Sweet Potatoes: There is not a can on the store shelf without corn syrup and sugar, so try fresh from your microwave! Rinse a medium potato, pierce with a fork and wrap in a paper towel, then bake for 6-8 minutes until fork tender. Let it cool, then peel off the skins and chop off the ends. It's ready to slice or mash! If you have a big group coming over, cook them ahead the night before.
2. Green Bean Casserole: Look for healthier cans of "Cream of Mushroom" soup and watch the salt content on frozen and canned green beans. Mix fresh onions into the casserole and reserve the salty, dried onions just as a topping.
3. Cranberries: Side or Garnish? Fresh and frozen often need lots of sugar, so consider pureeing some with a bit of sugar for roll spread or turkey/ham dip rather than eating as a side. If your family loves slicing the can of Jell, set out a whole berry dish as well; they may enjoy it.
4. Stuffing: I enjoy dry or fresh stuffing mixes but add more veggies to it. While cooking your onion and celery, consider adding diced carrots, variety of mushrooms, shredded parsnips, and more so you change the balance from "bread stuffing" to "veggie/bread stuffing." If anything, it adds tons of flavor! Update: Read the labels on stuffing mixes. Trader Joes and Sunflower Market also makes stuffing mixes if you opt out of fresh; aim for whole grain rather than enriched.
5. Heavy, Creamy, Fatty. These are my stomach-killers if I over eat them. Substitute one cup buttermilk for one cup 1% milk with 1 T lemon juice (mix and sit on counter for 5 minutes). It's not as thick but has the same flavor. Oil can often be replaced by sugar-free applesauce in baked goods, and try a saute with oil instead of butter. If you love gravy, aim for less salt and low-fat milk this year.
6. The Big Bird. I'm very curious to try a brined or fried turkey, but we have always cooked our turkey in Reynolds Oven Bags, a "roasted/steamed" version. The bags come with perfect cooking times for every variation and adjustment. Incredibly easy to use if you remember this: place the pan low in the oven and be sure to make a few 1” slits in the top of the bag or it may burst."
Here are my Day 15, 25-minute Fitness Test results on Insanity! I'm glad I decided to record my highest heart rates; the differences are remarkable! My pedometer number is the same, around 1400 for the fitness test, but it is 100 steps higher on repeat workouts telling me my movement quantity is increasing already in the 1st two weeks. Yay!
Fitness Test Date 10/11/2011 10/25/2011
- Switch Kicks 90 R, 160 BPM 102, 152 BPM
- Power Jacks 52, 166 BPM 66, 153 BPM
- Power Knees 88, 158 BPM 103, 149 BPM
- Power Jumps 50, 168 BPM 36, 159 BPM (better form!)
- Globe Jumps 9, 171 BPM 10, 159 BPM
- Suicide Jumps 14, 168 BPM 15, 157 BPM
- Push-Up Jacks 16, 141 BPM 24, 141 BPM
- Low Plank Oblique 58 R, 157 BPM 66 L, 140 BPM
Here's how it has been going:
- I unfortunately neglected to take my pre-measurements, but my weight has stayed the same at 115 and my clothes are fitting loser around the torso and tighter on the shoulders/thighs.
- I have not yet needed my P90X vs Insanity and "Am I Ready to Dig Deep?" blog reminders to keep me going; I'm actually having a great time!
- I'm on my way to getting that FREE t-shirt! My cardiovascular fitness is improving faster than my muscle endurance is keeping up; I'm hungry for more protein and thirsty for more water.
- I highly recommend taking notes on your workouts! At the end of Month One I'll post my pedometer and highest HR #s for every workout. Here are some example notes I've written these two weeks:
- Workout #2, Plyometric Cardio Circuit: "Bad planks, tighten core, need better shoes, LOVE cross jacks, TOWEL required, will need to steam clean carpet..."
- Workout #12, Cardio Power and Resistance: "Engaging abs more, core stronger, arms higher. Floor sprints HARD on shoulders/HR; In/Outs HARD: modifying on knees or holding downward phase push up/triceps; ALWAYS wear shorts, hot!!!"
- I'm glad I continue to laugh and enjoy it all; you've got to retain a sense of humor when tackling a workout like this. :D
Let us know HOW by sharing your tips on our Healthy Halloween Giveaway,
It's Halloween time; let's celebrate with THREE giveaways! I was recently a guest on FTNS Fitness Radio “Boomer’s Rock” and posting about healthy treats and activities for Halloween; now I’d like to hear from you, and you could win a prize for sharing your Healthy Halloween ideas! Read on about our prize and how to share your Halloween idea:
This week I returned as a guest on the World Internet Fitness Radio Show, FTNS "Boomer's Rock" (thanks, Tom and Sandy!) and we started talking about ideas to help ANYONE have a healthy and happy Halloween this year. Here are some of those tips and more.
- Go for toys as door treats rather than candy as giveaways at your home. Play-doh, crayon packages, washable tatoos, and spooky plastic jewelry are fun ideas.
- TOSS your expired treats from last year! There is nothing worse than allowing my kids their one-a-day treat, and find grey, mashed chocolate. Bleh! Not safe, not good...
- Set guidelines for candy in your house and eating on Halloween before you go to your parties or activities. We let our kids have 3 treats from their goodie bag on Halloween night. Then we have a candy sort the next morning and they can have one mini-treat each day after so long as they eat 3 healthy meals (and 2 healthy snacks), do their chores, and go for a walk with us that night. (it sounds like a lot, but they don't really have to think about any of these steps.) We aren't anti-candy in our house; if you eat well, candy is part of discretionary calories in a balanced diet. We do toss the taffy and save our favorites.
- Take water with you to parties and trick-or-treating. All that door-to-door walking makes you and your kids thirsty; have water handy so they aren't tempted to suck down the juice pouch/box they may get from a neighbor. Drink water between snacks and meals at parties to help fill your stomach and avoid over-eating those yummy Halloween snacks. (Food plug: I love Trader Joes Caramel Corn: 3/4 cup has 120 calories; try 1/2 cup with unsalted peanuts and roasted, unsalted almonds. Yum!)
- After you sort your Halloween treats, store treats well. Love the open candy tub at your office or house? Easy to binge, right? We use glass jars with lids to separate gum and mints from chocolate; it keeps everything from tasting the same and is smell-proof! To get to a treat: you have to choose a jar, get the jar, open the lid, pick a candy... extending the "do-I-really-want-this" thought process is binge-prevention, my friend! And the jars look pretty like a candy store, you almost want to leave the candy in them. Almost...
- Decorate your yard! Buy a one dollar bag of spider web and string it all around. If you've ever had to do this, it's a great workout. You'll be moving up/down/all around and working your brain to figure out where you can attach all the web fibers. So fun!
- Pumpkins: Take a trip to a pumpkin farm and pick out a large one to carry back to your car. Have a contest at work or among neighbors, and get together with friends to dig out and carve them up. Even try saving and roasting the seeds this year (we started this last year, if you have a great recipe, send it my way!) If you have a place to do so, have fun AFTER Halloween with a pumpkin smashing bash! Lay out a tarp outdoors to smash the pumpkins on and wear old clothes you can wash after, use a large rubber mallet, and let's the kids and grown-ups go at it. Remember Gallagher with a Sledge-O-Matic; hilarious!
- Have a Costume Parade at your work, church, or neighborhood. Rather than focusing on dress-up for night time trick-or-treating, take a walk in dress-up the weekend before, look at decorations, enjoy being with fun people...
- Have a Halloween carnival in your neighborhood, or active-activity for trick or treats in your yard. Get a cheap skeleton you can take apart and see how fast kids can put it back together. Buy a bag of rubber bats or eye balls and create a hamper "cave" or "mouth" bin to see how many kids can toss in under 30 seconds. I don't recommend games that put kids on the ground since many may have dresses or difficult costumes to maneuver in.
- Halloween Dance Party, anyone? Thanks to YouTube, you can learn Thriller (as Tom mentioned on FTNS, and I hope he posts a video!), the Monster Mash, Ghostbusters, and many more Halloween-themed dances to add to your party or get together. I love Drew's music at Party City for Drew's music Halloween tracks.
Now it's your turn! I'll be having a "Healthy Halloween" Giveaway and you can comment with your ideas to enter and win one of three Susie Tallman "Come On, Let's Go!" DVDs. The giveaway will run October 22 through Oct. 30 so we can pick three winners on Halloween morning.
- Switch Kicks: 90 R, 160 BPM
- Power Jacks: 52, 166 BPM
- Power Knees: 88, 158 BPM
- Power Jumps: 50, 168 BPM
- Globe Jumps: 9, 171 BPM
- Suicide Jumps: 14, 168 BPM
- Push-Up Jacks: 16, 141 BPM
- Low Plank Oblique: 58 R, 157 BPM
This weekend I took my "before" profile photos which I'm saving for the LAST day! If you submit your before and after result pictures, you get a FREE t-shirt! As much as I'd like that to motivate me every day for the next two months, I've also got my two lists (P90X vs Insanity and "Am I Ready to Dig Deep?") as reminders of why I started at all.
I'm adding to my motivating lists:
- You only need to have your 1st day ONCE. Diddo on the Fitness Test, and "before" pictures.
- My sister's best phrase, "You can do ANYTHING for 30 minutes." She means work at high intensity, but think about all your daily stuff like taking a shower, sorting your mail, washing dishes. You CAN fit in a 30-minute workout. This applies to everything; I love it!
- FEEL Better, LIVE Better, and LOVE Better. (Who doesn't want that? Rock on!)
My daughter just had "Crazy Hair day at her school where all the kids make their hair, well, crazy. It happened to be our day to bring in snacks for the class.
I have no idea why some snacks day at my daughter's school are so fun to come up with, but this idea just evolved. At first I wanted to freeze bananas on a stick, dipped in peanut butter and then granola, but the thaw time for the banana and keeping it from turning brown and not falling off the stick became too difficult...
One of my kids' favorite snacks is from a friend that taught us about Disney "Princess Cookies," which are actually round slices of apple called Princess because of the star shape of the core in the center slices. So great! So I swapped the banana mess for apple slices, dipped them in peanut butter on one edge (a bit for "boys" and more length for "girls") and then dipped that into granola. When you use natural peanut butter, it gets hard when cold and won't run, drip, or stick. I hope you enjoy making this recipe with your kids! (Or for yourself, why not have fun, too?)
Makes About 40 "Crazy Hair" Apple Cookies:
6-8 Medium Apples
1 T lemon juice or 3 T Fruit Fresh in 12 cups water
2 cups Natural Peanut Butter, softened about 10-20 seconds in the microwave
1 cup granola (we like Super Nutty in the bins at Smith's and Sunflower Market)
1/4 cup chocolate chips or raisins for eyes
1/2 cup cashew halves for the mouths
- Slice the apples 1/2" thick from bottom to top, discarding any seeds and stems. One apple makes 5-6 slices. Place the slices in the lemon juice or Fruit Fresh water for 5-10 minutes to prevent browning. Make the day of or night before to keep fresh.
- Place the slices on paper towels; blot dry.
- Dip one edge into the softened peanut butter and then into the granola for "Crazy Hair."
- Place on a cookie sheet. (I have a 9x13 with a lid, so I filled the pan, inverted the lid and filled the lid, then stacked a cookie sheet covered with plastic wrap over the entire thing to take them to my daughter's school without smashing any).
- Dip the raisins/chocolate chips "eyes" and cashew "mouths" in a dab of peanut butter and stick them to the apple faces. (Next time I'm going to try putting peanut butter in an icing bag with a piping tip to make quick work of dotting all the apples and sticking on the faces; let me know if you try this and it works well.)
- Refrigerate immediately until ready to eat. Our class drink was Milk; yum!
My friend just lent me her copy of Insanity so I need to decide if this new program will be better than my current routine. Here are some differences between working on P90X and preparing for Insanity:
- P90X is 3 months; Insanity is a shorter 2 months and 1 week.
- P90X videos are 60 to 90 minute videos; Insanity's are 30-45 minutes.
- P90X is 7 days a week; Insanity is 6 days a week.
- P90X has a great deal of equipment (weights, pull up bar, optional bands, yoga mat and block...); Insanity is mostly body weight training. I'm going to get good Cross Trainer shoes, and a Plyo mat or good floor are a must. I'll also get more mirrors to keep an eye on my form.
- My husband has set up a 3-month P90X strength circuit in the sunroom, which frees up the living room for my Insanity workouts. We'll still be helping each other "rise and shine" early in the morning!
- When I did P90X I wasn't working and the kids were home. Now that I'm back to work and have to get one kid ready and home from school and still take care of the other during the day, my schedule will appreciate the shorter routines of Insanity.
- I did P90X in two full 6-month circuits then intermittent with running for the remaining year. I'd like to keep up on my cardio with new workouts, Insanity will cover that (and all while inside my comfy house in the fall!)
- Before P90X my doctor said my health was okay, then after P90X my blood tests were FANTASTIC. I'm going to retake my blood tests before and after Insanity because the program requires it and the feedback will be priceless.
- I was one year post-partum and out of shape when I started P90X. Now I'm three years post-partum, at a healthy weight, and have more strength and better posture than before. I hope I perform well on the Insanity Fitness Test! The Fitness Test is incorporated into the workout schedule so I'll have many attempts at nailing it. If and when I do, it will be time to switch programs again anyhow...
So I sat right down and asked myself, "Is it a good time?" Could I right now finish if I started and be successful? So I wrote it out:
- It's something for me, of which I'm doing very little at the moment.
- I've been dragging and inconsistent since the 5k ended, summer swimming has ceased, and the weather is cooling down, so the time for a new exercise plan is NOW. Daily exercise is a must, but I won't be worried about balancing this program with "outside activities." Total focus = Yay!
- This will only help my triathlon planning next year, as many family members have encouraged me to do an entire event, but my mind is not yet convinced... The Insanity workout motto is "Are you ready to dig deep?" I guess I'll find out!
- Insanity would be the ultimate holiday weight control. It will get me through Halloween, Thanksgiving, and half way into Christmas, not to mention conclude just prior to any travel plans. What timing!
- Mastering Heart Rate training has been on my To-Do list this year; this program has intervals over 85% Max HR so I know I'll get my HR monitor use in the remainder of this year.
- I've established an early AM waking habit that I'd like to continue. My new job is offline 4:30-5:30 every morning; I have work-free and kid-free AM time for the workout.
- I'm not teaching any live group fitness or personal training at the moment, so the risk of injury is not threatening to anyone or anything but myself. Plus, 2 years of P90X with no injuries, I'm a bit more brave and prepared then before, and my nutrition/eating habits are much better as well.
- I'm not one to wait until Jan. 1 to start new goals and projects. Why NOT start? If I do this now, I can go to Disneyland in January, Ya-hoo!
- And last but not least, I want to jump like this lady:
My daughter recently started public school. As a parent of a Kindergartner, we are asked to bring 20 snacks for all the kids about once a month. At the 1st "meet-and-greet," the teacher gave us a list a of healthy snacks parents can bring.
But uh-oh, my girl's birthday was the first week of school, so do I bring cupcakes for 20 or healthy snacks for 20? If you think 20 kids with 20 birthdays; that's a LOT of treats over 9 months!
So I did some web searching and remembered the fruit bouquets from Edible Arrangements. We found some stiff straws (much like Lollipop Sticks) at Party City, pulled out our cookie cutters, and made the following:
These treats were a learning experience; I was not sure what fruits the kids would love. Watermelon was harder to use than cantaloupe and the kids were surprised by the kiwi:
This will be my shopping list for next time if I made 50 (two for each plus teachers):
- 50 grapes in two colors
- 25-50 strawberries
- 1 cantaloupe
To add some fat and protein to our "nutrient-dense" carbohydrate fruit, we made a double batch of my Aunt's Fruit Dip recipe below and had a blast squirting it into mini cups:
- 1 cup light sour cream
- 1/4-1/3 cup pineapple juice (you can drain this from a can of pineapple chunks)
- 1 package instant vanilla pudding, sugar free
- Whisk together sour cream and juice, whisk in pudding; serve cold.