Meeting your Wellness Goals in a Perfectly Imperfect World

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I was recently asked some readers for feedback on my Facebook page about what keeps them from meeting their health, fitness, or wellness goals. Here were some of their answers:

  • Distraction
  • Depression
  • Illness
  • Work
  • Children
  • Busyness
  • Unexpected Curveballs
  • Lack of focus
  • Long-term health issues

 

I felt overwhelmed with what these wonderful women shared with me. I wanted to help but I had no easy answers. And what I do know is going to sound so trite. Because it all boils down to this: Life gets in the way of our best-laid plans.

 

 

So what do we do? Especially those of us Type As who want to do it all and do it perfectly?

I recently talked with a friend who was reading a book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. While the title was off-putting, I looked into the main point of the book. You know what it boils down to? Embracing imperfections in yourself and the world around you. And not seeing every flaw as something to be improved upon.

And that’s just it. What if we give ourselves a break? What if we look at areas we really struggle with (perhaps getting up early for a workout or not eating lots of sugar) and dig deep into the why of it. Why do I struggle with it? Is it really important to me? Maybe I need to embrace seeing exercise, nutrition, and wellness as something I do “good enough,”  rather than perfectly, always striving for some elusive or impossible goal. What if I make my health, fitness and nutritional goals serve me. Now they’re something I do to improve my ability to enjoy my life and live better. Once I do this it becomes much easier to make a fitness plan that fits into this total package that is my imperfectly perfect life.

So let’s agree to embrace wellness and not just fitness. I think we’ll discover that it changes the dialogue in our minds about our health journey. Sometimes giving ourselves a break can lead to our best breakthroughs.

Easy One Pan Meals

With cooler mornings and a hint of fall in the air, I’ve been ready to cook some fall meals. I neglected my oven during the summer in favor of grilling and my slow cooker. And yes, I am totally obsessed with my slow cooker. I use it all the time for quick and easy meals. My recent discovery has me excited to cook indoors again because I can still cook everything in one pan…but in the oven. Easy cooking, easy cleanup, minimal time spent in the kitchen. What could be better?

I will share my recipe for the meal above and then give some general tips so you can experiment and create your own oven roasted meals.

1 head of broccoli

1-1 1/2# chicken breasts (I pounded mine a bit thinner for ease of cooking)

BBQ Sauce(I make my own that I got from Real Food Whole Life,  recipe below)*

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and washed

Olive oil

Salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash, peel and cube sweet potatoes and toss with a bit of olive oil and salt. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I use a Pampered Chef stoneware pan so I skip the parchment paper). Place chicken on the tray and spread barbecue sauce on both sides of the meat. Bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, break broccoli apart and toss with a bit of olive oil and salt. Place on top of the chicken and potatoes after 20 minutes and return to the oven to bake 10 minutes more. Remove and serve!

I have made this using a homemade honey mustard sauce, lemon pepper seasoning, etc. I have also used barbecue sauce chickpeas in place of meat and I know other people who use seasoned tofu, sliced steak, etc. Brussels sprouts are great veggies, as are carrots. You can also use russet potatoes. The choices are endless.

*Barbecue Sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1 6-oz can tomato paste

2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey

2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

½ cup water

Do you like one pan meals? What are your quick and easy weeknight meal ideas?

September Musings

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I am a goal maker and a thinker. It’s just hard-wired into me. So at the end of each month, I evaluate things and then choose a new focus or to-do list for the next month. Each new day, week, month and year are filled with possibility and that is exciting.

So here are a couple of lessons I learned in September.

It’s okay to be a beginner  I started a new job in August in retail. It’s part-time, about 20 hours a week. You would think retail would be easy, but it’s not. I’m back to dealing with people, both co-workers and customers, who also have to deal with me. 😉 Plus, learning new lingo, systems, and ways of doing things. So I have let myself be the new guy. Lowered my expectations and asked questions and tried hard not to beat myself up for being less than perfect. And you know what? It’s a nice way to live. I think I’ll let it spill over into other aspects of life as much as possible.

The unexpected can bring some great memories  We were caught up in Hurricane Irma’s path. We had lots of extra visitors from Florida, very little gas(and it was expensive), and days without school, power for some people, etc.  But that time spent off the normal routine, with my family, was precious. I have the best things in life in my family and in friends, and that’s something that no amount of gas or inconvenience can take away. Plus, I met some amazing Floridians at work and heard incredible stories of their lives. Definitely, it’s something I’ll always remember.

Even though I can make pumpkin spice everything, September in the south still feels like summer!  A little tongue in cheek, but man, it’s been hot here this month. And you know what? It makes anticipating the fall weather, changing leaves, and shorter days all that more magical. And yes, I still had my homemade pumpkin spiced coffee.

So here’s to October. And thank you, September, for memories, lessons, and the gift of life.

P.S. Drop me a line and tell me about your September. I love hearing from you.

My love of Quinoa

When you have allergies, things get interesting. I am allergic to corn and fairly sensitive to wheat. I get tired of rice and oats as my grain choices.

Recently I tried couscous and then quinoa. Oh, quinoa, where have you been? Versatile and higher in protein because it’s a nut that thinks it’s a grain, haha, quinoa is super easy to cook and relatively inexpensive. It’s grown mostly in Peru and Bolivia and is a member of the amaranth family, for those of you interested.

One thing I did was to invest in a simple fine mesh strainer. Quinoa has a natural coating, called saponin, that can make it taste bitter or soapy if you skip this step, After that, you need a simple pan, two cups of liquid to a cup of quinoa, and you’re ready.

I bring two cups of water, milk, or broth to boil along with the quinoa. After it boils, I reduce to simmer, cover, and cook fifteen to twenty minutes. That’s it. I use milk for breakfast quinoa and water or broth to make a more savory batch.

You can use quinoa for warm breakfast bowls like you would oats. Add in fruits, nuts, a bit of milk, and it is amazing. For lunch, I love adding it to my salads to get a boost of extra protein and heartiness. At dinner time, quinoa makes a great side or the basis for a food bowl. I love food bowls! Meat and/or beans, veggies, quinoa and, if I am feeling ambitious, a quickly made tahini based sauce. Or salsa, barbecue sauce, squeeze of lemon or lime, etc. Healthy, quick, filling, delicious.

Have you tried quinoa? Or are you a no-grain type of eater? Yes, I realize some people feel much healthier that way. Drop me a line and share your quinoa recipes. Or, let me know the types of things you would love to see on the blog.

Your Word for the Day is…Selah

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I’m a grammar girl and word nerd. I love learning in general and specifically about words and history. So when I came across the word “Selah” in my Bible study the first time, I had to dig in!

This word is written in Hebrew in the Old Testament. What does it mean? Scholars aren’t really sure! It’s used over 70 times in the Bible…and all but three of them are in the Psalms. (The other three uses are in the book called Habakkuk, for inquiring minds). The most widely agreed upon interpretation is that it’s a call to praise, or stop and ponder what you have just read.

Pause. Think. Ponder. Praise. What if we lived our lives intentionally doing that?

I am angry and about to spout off to my child. Instead…Selah. Pause. Think. And see what the best thing to say is in this situation.

I’m about to spend money on something, or eat something, just because I’m feeling restless, sad, or frustrated. Instead…Selah. Pause. And think, what am I really feeling and what void am I trying to fill?

My day is busy and I don’t have time to breathe or think. How about…Selah. Pause, inwardly, and give thanks that I have the energy to make it through my day. That I am blessed with family, or friends, or good things to eat, the ability to face any challenge that comes my way, and on and on.

I’m exhausted at the end of the day or tempted to start my day by hitting the ground running. But instead…Selah. I pause for a moment or two, breathe deeply, whisper a prayer,  meditate a second, etc.

Let’s make a pact to build some “Selah Seconds” into our day. Pause, breathe, smile, think, and just be. Life is too precious to miss it by being “busy”.

Selah.

The Power of Routine

Full disclosure: I am a person who thrives with a routine and sticking to one comes easily…until it doesn’t. Then I change things up to a new routine for freshness. But even my husband, who likes spontaneity, swears routines are lifesavers. So today I am giving you a glimpse into my morning routine so you can get inspired to create one that works for you. It really will reduce stress for you.

  1. Drink water First thing I hydrate! I instantly feel better and more awake.
  2. Walk my dog This varies by whether I work in the morning or at night. Sometimes it’s five minutes and others fifteen to twenty. Getting out to move also wakes me up and allows me time to reflect.
  3. Pilates I usually exercise thirty minutes. Sometimes ten or fifteen, sometimes forty. That thirty minutes sets my day right and I don’t have to worry about fitting it in if my day gets crazy.

4. Shower or clean up I am low maintenance so this is fifteen minutes or so.

5. Breakfast Almost always a smoothie bowl.

6. Prayer, Bible Study, and Coffee Roughly thirty minutes but again, varies with my work schedule.

I set my wake up time according to when I need to have my routine accomplished. And I spend time menu planning and workout planning each weekend. It goes in my planner so I start the night before by reviewing my upcoming day and setting out food from the freezer, workout clothing, etc.

When I had young children, my routine was different, but I had one. I usually got up and exercised and then ate breakfast with them. I showered later on as I was a stay at home mom. Working moms often tell me their best exercise time is at lunch (walking), or as dinner is cooking. So everyone has a different lifestyle and rhythm.

Do you have a morning routine? Share your best tips with us here or on my Facebook page.

The Scale Does Not Define You

My daughter (a college sophomore) has been to the doctor twice in less than two weeks. She was rarely sick…until college. So she went once to get a refill for face medicine (she may kill me for telling you that, haha) and today because she had a sinus infection. A week and a half ago the doctor’s scale weighed her five pounds less than it did today. She had on heavier clothing and boots today (Hurricane Irma made it colder than usual here), which accounted for some of the difference, and we know she’s still the same size. But she admitted to me that it bugged her anyway. We had a great discussion about how the scale bothers most of us as women and can dictate our mood, etc. Even though we KNOW fluctuations occur due to what we’ve eaten, hormonal cycles, clothing we wear, etc.

So today, I want to remind you of what the scale tells you:  how much gravity is holding you to this earth. Period. Now, it may tell me that I need to lose a bit of “gravity” 😉 (and yes, it has done that before). It may tell me that I’ve been upset and avoiding dealing with things and my eating of cookies and drinking lots of iced coffee has caught up with me. That happened to me last fall when two of my kids moved out and on to work and college within two months of one another.  So, I looked reality in the face and did something about it.

But, in the end, what the scale DOESN’T tell you is so much more. It doesn’t tell you how uniquely made you are. How much of an impact you make in the lives of others. How strong you are. How gifted, talented, beautiful or handsome, and deeply loved by others you are. How you are on this earth to make a difference that only you can make.

So, when the negativity kicks in, step back, take a deep breath, and remember your worth. And if necessary, throw out your scale and find other ways to measure your health and well-being. And remember, what’s really holding you to earth isn’t gravity; it’s the truth that you are here for “such a time as this.” (Holy Bible, Esther 4:14).

Crock Pot Love…and a Weekly Go-to Recipe

It’s no secret that I think a slow cooker/crock pot is a gift from God. 😀 I am slowly learning to use my Instant Pot too, but that’s another post.

I love throwing ingredients in and having a meal just hours later. I love chilis and stews and soups, but Mexican Chicken is something I make almost every week. It’s quick, easy, versatile, and everyone in my house loves it. The recipe is below, and then I will share ways we use it.

1-2# chicken breast or thigh meat

Taco Seasoning (I make my own)

Hidden Valley Ranch Spicy Ranch packet

Salsa

Seriously, that’s it. I need to try making my own salsa but have an organic brand I use that’s low sodium. I spray the slow cooker with olive oil, place the chicken in the bottom, sprinkle with 1/2 ranch packet and taco seasoning, and add salsa to cover. I cook on low 6 hours or high 4. Then I shred the meat with two forks.

We use to top salads, over rice or quinoa, mixed with black beans, in tortillas, to top a baked potato, and lots of other ways. It’s versatile and makes a quick lunch.

Do you use a slow cooker? Share your recipes and let me know your go-to lunches.

My Best Smoothie Bowl Tips…and a Fall Bowl

I have spoken of my love for smoothies and smoothie bowls. You throw it all in a blender, blend and go, right?

Well, no. I have learned through trial and error some tips to get my best bowls in taste and texture. I am sharing them with you today.

  1. Use a mix of fresh and frozen fruits and veggies. I have the best luck with, say, an unfrozen zucchini and frozen bananas and berries. All frozen can make the blender need more time and stops and starts to scrape or tamp the ingredients down.
  2. When using lots of frozen foods, do a pre-chop step. I have never done this with a less expensive blender, but it works great with my Blendtech. I will put frozen zucchini, bananas, berries, etc. in and whirl for 10 seconds. Then I add other ingredients and end up with a very smooth bowl.
  3. Use the least amount of milk possible to keep from adding lots of ice. I stick with about 1/4-1/2 cup per bowl. Too much ice waters down the taste.
  4. Put greens like spinach or kale on top of other ingredients. This keeps protein powders or nut butter from going straight up and needing to be scraped off the side of the blender. I want my almond butter in my smoothie, not on the side of the bowl, right? 😉
  5. Pour the milk over everything last. This also wets things down so they don’t all fly on the sides of your blender.

A great fall smoothie bowl is The Carrot Cake Bowl pictured above. I tweaked a recipe from Simply Quinoa and just love it.

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla cashew milk (or milk of your choice)

1/2 cup chopped frozen zucchini

1 1/2 frozen bananas

2 carrots, chopped and peeled

1/2 scoop Designer Whey Vanilla Almond protein powder (optional) Otherwise add 2 T of hemp seeds, etc. for a protein kick

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t pumpkin spice seasoning

1/4 t ginger

1/4 t nutmeg

1/4 t allspice

ice as needed

I topped with some hemp seeds, a drizzle of almond butter (of course!), and granola. Bananas are good too.

What are your best Smoothie Bowl tips and tricks? Let me know in the comments. Also, tell me what you think about the carrot cake bowl.

Why I love Pilates

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A few people have asked how I came to Pilates. It’s a long story but I thought I would share it here so you can be encouraged to keep moving and find something that works for you. And so you will know that what works will change over the course of your life…and that is okay.

I started exercising in the early 1990s. I was in my late 20s and noticed some weight “creep” and the spandex and lycra leotard group was the rage. I joined a women only gym where we jumped and pranced and ran in place to thumping music. Then we entered the step aerobics craze. This time, we jumped up and down and around our aerobics step. All the while ignoring the important components of weight training and flexibility training.

Somehow in my mid-thirties, my body began to change yet again. I was aging, had three pregnancies and births under my belt, and just had less time and energy for a gym and high-impact aerobics. I began to lift weights and still do my cardio and my body composition totally changed. I looked fitter and firmer. Now mind you, I was still pounding the heck out of my joints with high impact, but I could still take it.

In my forties, I began running to cross-train. And that was fun for a bit(except for the near constant shin splints I had.) I have issues with my flat feet and back curvature that really don’t like all the jumping and pounding. But I thought that was what exercise entailed. And I was a “go hard or go home” person.

So I entered my late forties about twenty pounds heavier and full of aching joints. I hobbled if I sat too long and my hips ached nearly constantly. And I was always nursing some sort of injury. I changed my diet and tried barre for a bit. I lost the weight but now my knees ached, along with my hips. I was discouraged and thinking that exercise should not have to hurt to be effective.

I had tried Pilates in the past but thought it was too easy to be effective. Remember, I was a “go-big” person. A friend told me about Lisa Pentony of Pilates By Lisa and an upcoming challenge she was hosting, complete with a meal plan and online support. I figured a month couldn’t cause me too much weight gain if I decided to lie down and work out, right?

Oh, how wrong I was! In that month my clothing got looser (and I really didn’t’ follow the meal plan at all), my energy soared, and, most remarkable of all, I no longer hurt. Soon I could sit cross-legged on the floor again. I had absolutely zero pains in my hips and low back. I was amazed.

The best part was having a trainer in Australia who was super-responsive to any question I had. Over the two years I’ve done her workouts, she has honestly become a good friend and I even had the privilege of meeting her last November when she was in America. It was seriously like meeting up with an old friend.

Today I walk and do Pilates. That’s pretty much it. I feel good and still fit in my clothing. 😉 And I am just so disheartened when people say they’re exhausted from going to the gym or running all the time.

The thing is, you don’t have to hurt to be healthy and fit. You just need to find the thing that causes you to feel good. Yes, our bodies were made to move. And maybe yours was made to run, unlike mine. That’s fantastic. But above all, I want us to all experience a mind shift. Fitness and exercise should be about taking care of ourselves so we can live our lives fully, abundantly, and with joy. Exercise isn’t the goal:  living life is. So I encourage you to find that type of movement that lets you do just that.

How do you like to move and stay healthy? Drop me a line and share your thoughts, tips, or journey with me. I love hearing from you.

Oh, PS~If you try Pilates with Lisa, be prepared to be humbled. She does have a free 10-day trial and a fantastic beginners series. You can get 10% off your first payment with the coupon code MEMBER.

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