We write a lot about healthy eating on this blog. Everyone knows that we should be eating more fruits and veggies, more natural foods, less processed garbage, less red meat, etc.
But many of us still shovel cheeseburgers and French fries and soda into our mouths. Why is that??
I think in my case, it’s an “all or nothing” mindset. I get to a place that I call “the zone” in which I plan my meals, have plenty of healthy options, and avoid the junk. It works for a week, maybe a month, even 6 months. But then I start to fall back into my old habits and the pounds start creeping back up and my mindset becomes “I already blew it, so I may as well enjoy this doughnut!”
Plus, I love the taste of food. I’m guessing a lot of you can relate: some foods taste delicious, so I want to continue to enjoy them and I consciously choose to keep eating. I’m going to be brutally honest here: there have been times when my stomach was full, almost to the point of discomfort, and I still inhaled an extra slice of pizza or another piece of candy. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?
It’s self-destruction, that’s what it is!! And it needs to stop. A lot of experts say that when we overeat it’s filling a void, so we need to figure out what the void is and take care of it with something other than food.
I think my void is boredom. Food is enjoyable and comforting and it’s fun to go to a restaurant with Dave and gab about our day while a server brings us delicious food.
But we know it’s bad for our health and finances, so we’re trying to do more cooking together and we’re trying new recipes to keep it fun. We actually sit down at the table to eat rather than in front of the TV, which “kind of” feels like we’re out at a restaurant. LOL. Plus, we always feel soooo much better on the nights when we stay in and cook, and we seem to appreciate the times we go out to eat if it’s not an everyday occurrence.
I just hope we stick with it!!
Do you find as spring approaches you have to fit more in? The days are getting longer. Everyone is emerging from their winter hibernation and making plans. Sports are starting again. Yards need to be cleaned up. Homes need repairs from the winter beating. Kids want to stay up later. Stress levels rise. It’s very important to manage your stress.
Here are some tips:
· Make lists and prioritize what has to be done today and what can wait for another day.
· Share your calendar with your significant other to avoid conflicting schedules.
· Review family schedules and make your plans and expectations clear each morning to your family.
· Make time for 30 minutes of exercise daily.
· Eat healthy, non-processed foods.
· Limit alcohol and caffeine.
· Ensure good quality sleep each night.
· Take a moment for a quiet walk by yourself to clear your head.
· Shake it off---play some fun music and just dance! You can include the whole family!
· Take a mini spa day, get a massage or give yourself a mani-pedi and mud mask.
· Take a bubble bath.
· Share meal responsibilities with your significant other and older children.
· Prepare lunches and snacks the night before; again have the entire family assist.
· Make larger meals to plan for left overs so that you do not have to cook every night.
· Make a family chore chart.
· Turn off all electronics, find a quiet place and mediate for a half hour.
· Do not be afraid to ask for help.
Enjoy a stress free day! Give us more suggestions on stress relief strategies that work for you!
I’m always looking for quick and healthy meals to prepare after work. I’ll share with you a few of my favorite go-to dishes. Please share with us some of your favorites! Bon Appetite!
Chicken and salsa-Preheat oven to 300 degrees, drizzle glass baking dish with olive oil, place chicken breasts, tenders or low fat thighs in glass dish, cover with chicken with salsa, cover glass dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Pork Chops with pineapple and red peppers-Preheat oven to 350 degrees, drizzle glass baking dish with olive oil, put pork chops in dish, cover with crushed or chunk pineapple and cut up red pepper. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve over rice.
Pasta with sausage and green peppers-Make pasta of your choice, sauté sausage slices in frying pan with green pepper slices. Mix together, sprinkle with olive oil.
Caesar Salad with Chicken, Shrimp or Salmon-Chop romaine lettuce, mix with Caesar dressing and shredded parmesan. Top with grilled chicken, shrimp or salmon.
Cheese sandwich with tomatoes and spinach-Lightly butter one side of two slices of whole grain bread, place cheese slice, thin sliced tomatoes and several pieces of spinach in the sandwich. Heat in frying pan until each side is nicely toasted.
Red potatoes, bacon and cheddar cheese-Preheat oven to 300 degrees, drizzle glass baking dish with olive oil, scrub red potatoes with brush and water, cut into small chunks with skin on, cut thick cut bacon into 1 inch pieces and scatter over potatoes. Cover dish with foil and bake for 60 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with cheddar cheese for last 10 minutes.
Brown rice with cilantro-Prepare rice as instructed on package, stir in fresh cilantro when finished.
Bacon wrapped asparagus-Preheat oven to 350 degrees, drizzle baking sheet with olive oil, take 4-5 spears of asparagus and wrap with a slice of bacon. Bake for 25 minutes.
Baked Brussel sprouts-Preheat oven to 350 degrees, drizzle baking sheet with olive oil, cut Brussel sprouts in half and place on baking sheet, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.
Stuffed mushrooms-Preheat oven to 350 degrees, prepare ¼ pound of sausage in skillet, mix with ¼ package of cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of minced green pepper. Spoon into fresh mushrooms with caps removed. Bake in oven for 15 minutes.
I'm a big reader. I started when I was quite young and haven't stopped. One of my earliest memories is curling up next to my mom on the couch while she read to me. I also remember our weekly visits to the library to stock up on books. I looked forward to those trips and as I got older the stack I would bring home got bigger and bigger. My mom instilled the value of reading into all of her kids and that continues to this day.
If you have children, I urge you to read to them. There are many benefits:
If your kids are older you can still encourage them to read. I have some friends who read the same books as their kids. Series such as Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and Twilight all work well for this purpose. Once you have read the book you can discuss it with your children. You can also rent the movies for even more fun.
Yep, reading is wonderful and something (free!) and easy you can do with your kids. Why not hit your library this week and pick out a book?
Do you ever walk in a room and forget why you entered it? Do you forget a person’s name shortly after you have been introduced? Do you have a hard time remembering multiplication numbers? Your brain is like a muscle. It is import to exercise your brain daily. By exercising your brain, it gets stronger and you improve memory, attention span and language. Learning something new should be a daily goal. The brain grows more when you use new and different strategies rather than sticking to what you already know and find easy. So keep an open mind and consider these exercises:
· Get a word of the day calendar and attempt to use your new word in at least three different conversations each day.
· Learn a new language. Recruit a friend and continue speaking to each other in your foreign language. Reward yourself with a trip in which you can use your newly acquired skills.
· Play memory games.
· Listen to audio books on your commute to and from work.
· Subscribe to informative emails regarding your profession.
· Work puzzles (i.e. Sudoku puzzle, jig saw puzzles, word finds).
· Research random topics that come up during the day online.
· Download memory skill games onto your smart phone or laptop.
· Download random fact applications onto your smart phone or laptop.
· Print off a sheet of math problems and do them as fast as possible.
· Make up a story, tell it to a child or write it in a journal.
· Free write in a journal for a scheduled amount of time daily.
· Keep up to date on current events. Watch the national news.
· Limit television time to an hour a day.
· Read a different genre of book than you would normally choose for yourself, consider joining a book club.
· Go on a scavenger hunt.
· Find your way through a maze.
· Meditate to clear your mind and enable better focus.
· Exercise and eat well.
· Avoid toxic substances (alcohol, drugs, preservatives, excessive caffeine).
Enjoy your new mental health!
One of the biggest stresses in life revolves around money! It is also the cause of many marital battles. Somehow I think the more money you make, the more money you spend. It is very easy for spending to get out of control. It is important for you and your significant other to sit down together and review your monthly spending, determine where you can save money, and set monthly budget goals. My husband and I recently did this and we were quite surprised by how much we were spending on a monthly basis and quickly made some adjustments. Here are some tips that helped us.
· Review your phone bill-call the company and negotiate a discount or perhaps even change to another company for a better monthly rate. We saved by avoiding an upgrade (there is nothing wrong with my phone and I don’t need the newest model) and we reduced our data plan to save $50/month!
· Review your cable and internet bill-again call the company, negotiate monthly rates, and see if you can get a better deal by changing companies. Also consider getting rid of cable. With so many low cost programs like Hulu and Netflix, many don’t even miss cable. There are also Apple TV and Sling TV options that drastically reduce monthly costs. Talk to your friends to see what they are using and how much they pay monthly. We chose Sling TV and dropped our cable to save $86/month.
· Review your auto insurance-there are often unclaimed discounts available and again you can change to a different company for a better rate.
· Evaluate your grocery bill-one of our biggest monthly expenses was food. There are only two members of our household and I had a habit of weekly grocery shopping. We were constantly throwing food away. I now plan our meals better to use up our groceries and I only go grocery shopping every other week.
· Eat at home more often, pack your lunch, snacks and morning coffee---going out and picking up convenient food rather than preparing your own meals costs much more money. Those few dollars a day add up quickly over a month.
· Set a monthly allowance for personal spending. This is a number your significant other and yourself negotiate for personal spending. We set a monthly budget and determined that you can carry over any left for the month to allow you to save up for larger expenses.
· Save on fuel-Consider carpooling with friends and neighbors to reduce monthly fuel expenses. Also group your errands to avoid excessive driving and use of fuel.
· Try to use a credit card for all expenses to keep a good record in one place. Get a credit card that has cash rewards to use as bonus money.
· Consider switching your bank-there are great deals for opening a new checking or savings account with different banks.
· Consider refinancing your mortgage-We just went from a 30 year loan to a 15 year loan with a lower interest rate and will save ourselves $80,000 over the life of our mortgage.
· Evaluate the services you use-can you manage it yourself and save the money or at least stretch out the time frame to save?
· See if your employer has a loan-repayment program or if you qualify for any of the more recent loan-repayment programs for student loans.
· Get a financial advisor-most are free or little cost. They have great experience and advice and often aid in making good financial decisions when you and your partner cannot agree on the best way to save money.
Happy saving with financial security!
The other day I was sitting on the couch, watching a movie, and all of a sudden I burst into tears. My poor husband didn't know what to do. I tend to tear up when watching a sad show, but to outright cry was out of the norm for me. It made me realize that I had some unresolved emotions simmering below the surface.
I've said it before and I'll say it again; it's not healthy to stifle stress and emotions! When you are feeling bad about something, you need to find a safe way to vent it. If you don't, you'll end up embarrassing yourself in public as those overwhelming feelings pour out of you (and sometimes on to others).
So how does one safely vent emotions?
I would love to hear how you handle your emotions. Feel free to send comments.
You know that age-old question: "If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?" For me, it's pizza, but a close second is pasta. That doesn't bode well for my waistline, but there it is.
So when I saw a recipe for healthy "zoodles" I knew that I had to try them. I bought this little gadget called a Spirelli at Bed, Bath & Beyond ($25 with coupon). It's about the size of a drinking glass and very easy to use. You just cut off the ends of a zucchini and hold it in your hand and rotate the zucchini into the Spirelli and out comes "zoodles".
Then you heat the zoodles (I threw them in boiling water for about 2 minutes), and add spaghetti sauce and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
My husband was skeptical but after he tried our "spaghetti" he was very pleasantly surprised. You can see that there is green because I didn't peel the zucchini.....extra fiber! But if you are trying to pull a fast one on your kids, peel it first to hide all evidence of a vegetable.
The texture was good, not too crunchy but not as soft as spaghetti. I will play around with it to find the best option. I'm going to steam them next time because I read that boiling leeches out the nutrients.
We always have gobs and gobs of zucchini in our garden each summer, so I will be trying other recipes too. Next up is Chicken Lo Mein Zoodles.
Nutritional Facts: A cup of chopped zucchini contains 22 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 24 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 29 percent for women, and only 21 calories. Zucchini has been shown to help regulate blood sugar due to its high amounts of B-complex vitamins. Zucchini also contains zinc, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids which are also important for blood sugar regulation.
So load up!!
Ladies, did you ever stop to think about the things you use on a daily basis, but rarely clean? Think further of the places you take them. When you do, it may make you gag.
Cell Phone-You take it everywhere, set it down, breath on it, touch it frequently. You even allow others to touch it when you show them photos and messages. If you had any idea how much bacteria this item contains, you’d probably save on your data plan! This is by far the dirtiest item you own and use on a daily basis. There are great alcohol based wipes that are safe for electronics to sanitize your phone. Your phone should be cleaned at least once per day.
Keyboard-Most of us use a computer on a daily basis. Many of us sit at one for the majority of our day. You cough and sneeze on it. You wipe your nose and continue with your work. You eat and drink while working at your computer. Those germs transfer from you to your computer keyboard and remain there. Just like your phone, your keyboard should be cleaned with an electronics-safe sanitizer at least daily.
Purse-We take it everywhere. We often set it down on the floor of restaurants, bathroom sinks, and shopping carts. This item often then gets set on your kitchen table or counter. The bottom of our purses are highly contaminated with bacteria. First avoid bringing your purse into your kitchen. Secondly, clean the exterior at least daily, especially after running errands with it.
Sink handles-You are probably washing your hands several times a day. You may think you are being healthy, but unless you are using a disposable towel to turn the faucet off after washing your hands for at least 20 seconds (seems like a long time), you may be re-contaminating your hands. Think about it. I like to keep cleaning wipes handy and try to wipe my sinks down daily or every other day for this reason.
Door handles & Steering wheels-These are items that are often neglected when you clean. But they are also items that are touched numerous times on a daily basis. Again, often with dirty hands and often when eating. These items can harbor bacteria for an extended period of time. Again take a cleaning wipe to handles and steering wheels on a daily basis.
Shoes-It’s very difficult to avoid getting bacteria on your shoes. We walk into public restrooms, outdoors where animals defecate, visit hospitals, etc. Again probably one of your dirtiest items! It’s next to impossible to keep your shoes decontaminated. It is wise to removed them as close to the door as possible. If you like to wear shoes in the house, buy a pair or two dedicated to indoor use only.
Gloves-Winter time is tied to gloves and runny noses. People often wipe their dripping noses with their gloves, sneeze into their hands and touch door handles and steering wheels. But they rarely wash their gloves. Thus contributing to a large bacteria load. Gloves and scarves should be tossed in the washer and dryer on a weekly basis.
Towels-We dry off with a towel at least daily after a shower and then hang it back up. In theory we are clean when we use the towel, therefore the towel should be clean right? Wrong. The moisture on the towel contributes to bacteria growth. Towels should be washed at least twice a week.
Dish cloths/sponges-Similar to the towel theory, they are used to clean and covered with soap, but again the dampness breeds bacteria. Dish clothes should be exchanged for clean ones daily and sponges should be put in the microwave damp and microwaved for 2 minutes to disinfect.
Loofah-This is made of a plastic material and thus a little more resistant to bacteria growth than fabric. However the mesh allows a perfect network of dead skin cells for bacteria to munch on. Again they are hanging in a humid, warm, low air-flow environment that allows bacteria to grow. Loofahs should be allowed to completely dry between uses and cleaned at least weekly in microwave, or dipped in a diluted bleach solution or put in the washing machine with your towels.
Sheets-We spend more time in bed than anywhere else in our homes. That’s a long time for skin cells, sweat, and drool to accumulate. Our body heat also warms up the materials and we often pull those blankets up in the morning to make our beds look so pretty. But we are trapping bacteria! One excuse to not make the bed unless you are expecting company. But also a reason why sheets should be washed on at least a weekly basis.
Okay, now that I have totally grossed you out as you think about your daily living environment, get cleaning! I’m sure there are items that I forgot to mention, so feel free to remind us in the comment section!
As a mental health advocate, I have always believed in the value of meditation and other mind-body techniques. I feel they can do wonders for our minds by shutting down the internal "chatter" and bringing us to a lovely state of peace.
Having said that, I am ashamed to admit that I never really looked into the power of prayer. I was raised Catholic but quit attending church as soon as I could. I never found the connection that others raved about. To me God was out there but too far away for me to truly grab onto.
And yet, many of my friends continued to tell me about their prayers and how much they helped. I did a bit of research and there is some scientific evidence to support their claims. It would appear that folks who pray tend to live longer, have richer social lives, have less worry and stress, and are better able to relax than those who do not pray. In the hospital, those who pray tend to have less pain, less complications, and are sent home sooner. Wow!
Whether or not you believe in a higher power, there is something very soothing about the repetition of prayer. It is similar to the mantras that many folks use when meditating. I also liked the fact that you could take your overwhelming problems and hand them over to someone else (God). What a wonderful feeling that must be, even if it's only for a short time! I decided to give it a try.
They say you gravitate back to your childhood and that was true for me. I decided to attend mass at the Catholic church where I do volunteer work. So far I have been there about 5 times. What I have learned is that it is a peaceful way to spend an hour. The sermons have more meaning to me as an adult and I enjoy the aesthetics of the building. I must admit, I also enjoy the people watching! The kids, in particular, always make me smile.
Have I found that true connection to God? Not really. Am I able to turn all my problems over with ease? Not yet. But I'm still hopeful. Meditation takes years of practice and I can only assume it is the same with prayer. The bottom line is finding peace and meaning in your life. Amen!
Quinoa. Ugh! I have tried for years to embrace this wholesome grain and have always come up short. But recently I came across a recipe that looked promising. After a bit of tweaking the result was spectacular. It's easy to make and the leftovers are great in lunches. Even my husband liked it!
1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsely
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
2 cups diced feta cheese
Cook the quinoa in water as directed on the package.
Throw in a bowl and add the juice, olive oil, and seasonings (I used salt, pepper, and garlic powder).
Throw in the remaining ingredients and gently mix.
You can serve this hot or cold and can use other vegetables and seasonings if you like.
FYI: it is pronounced "Keen Wah".
I live in Ohio which means I see a lot of snow in the winter. It sure is pretty but it can be a real pain to shovel. By pain, I mean back pain!! My doctor recently told me she has seen a ton of people coming through her office who hurt their back shoveling. Don't let this happen to you. There are tips that will make your shoveling a safe and more enjoyable experience:
The good news is spring is just around the corner!!
Are you one of those women who has a closet full of clothes, spare bedroom closets full of clothes, dressers full of clothes and even encroach on your significant other's space to store your fashion accessories, yet have nothing to wear? I am certainly a member of that club. So I have a little bit of advice to help keep it fresh.
First go through your closets, try everything on. If it does not fit properly put it in a pile to sell or donate. Second, look at all of the items you have not worn this past year. Determine the reason for it. If you are uncomfortable in it, or simply don’t like it, add it to the pile. If it is something you forgot you had and you still love it, feel free to enjoy it now that you have rediscovered it!
Another great idea to keep you wardrobe fresh is to form a friend sharing circle. It can be as little as two people or as large as you can manage. Everyone should pick the same amount of items from their own collection to share with their friends. It can be clothing if your friends are similar size, or accessories like scarves, jewelry, nail polish and purses. Gather everyone together for a ladies evening and trade items. You can trade item for item among a group or make piles and draw numbers to see which items each lady gets to go home with. When you do this on a monthly basis, you keep things fresh and fun and get to enjoy having some new items without spending money.
You can always supplement your wardrobe at a resale shop. If you have the time and patience to go through several racks, you can usually find some hidden gems. Often you can even find items with original tags on them.
Lastly, you can shop retail. I like to play a fun game with my niece where we shop for the day and can’t spend more than $10 on any item. It makes it a fun day of scavenger hunting and it keeps it affordable. It’s surprising how many clearance and sale items you can find for $10 or less. There are also several great websites that provide great deals that you can take advantage of online. Most of those items are end of season items, but still allow you a couple months of use before you store them for next year.
Hopefully these ideas help you love you wardrobe again and easily find fashionable outfits every day!
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