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WIAW…What I Ate in Wisconsin

When you’re in Wisconsin, you see some of this…

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and a lot of this…

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I’m linking up today with Peas & Crayons for What I Ate Wednesday in Wisconsin.

While I was in Wisconsin for my Mom’s heart surgery, I had the opportunity to try a few new places.  I’m not sure how long it’s been since I visited, but I’m guessing it’s been 5 years.  While my Mom was in the hospital, my Dad and I generally took shifts.  I worked out in the early morning while my Dad was with my Mom then I spent the afternoon and evening with my Mom so my Dad could go home rest and keep up with the house. 

After this hospital meal, I quickly realized I need to find healthy restaurant options pronto so I could grab take-out and bring to the hospital.  Thankfully, all my years working as a consultant and being on the road I gained skills in finding places quickly.  One way is Google maps.  I knew a lot of things were around the Packer stadium so I scoped out all the restaurants on the map.  Then I asked for suggestions via social media.  I have no idea how we survived before Facebook and smartphones.  #techgeek

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One of the first places I popped in at – CheeseCake Heaven and heaven it was!  They serve an array of fresh salads, homemade sandwiches, wraps and panini’s as well as a few breakfast items, specialty coffees and teas. 

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As well as these homemade goodies!

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Drool worthy pretzel rods!

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Cookies, baklava and of course it wouldn’t be named appropriate if they didn’t offer cheesecakes too!

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I can’t believe I had the willpower to pass on the goodies, but I did and got a grilled chicken wrap to go instead.  I was so busy snapping pictures of the goodies that I forgot to take a pic of the wrap.  I’m sure this is better eye candy though.  The wrap was enormous.  I could only eat half.  CheeseCake Heaven is quiet and quaint.  It reminded me of a coffee shop I would have studied at in college.  I will be back one day for one of those pretzel rods and the sandwich too. :)

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Not by Bread Alone was next.  Another cute coffee shop like atmosphere with homemade sandwiches, salads, soups, speciality breads, coffees and teas. 

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This was just a block from my gym Xperience Fitness so I popped in and enjoyed this lovely turkey sandwich on their homemade bread with an oatmeal raisin cookie.  The bread alone was worth it and the delicious smells coming from the ovens made it feel like home.

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Great Harvest Bread is a few miles from my parents house and actually is part of a larger franchise.  I’ve been to one in Park City, Utah a few years ago too.  They make their own specialty breads too and offer soups, sandwiches and panini’s. 

Additionally, they make granola and biscotti. 

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Also, trail mix bars, flours and cake mixes. 

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I stopped in for a sandwich on the way to the hospital.  When I saw this rack, I immediately knew why I was there.

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While I was in Wisconsin, I could not find nut butter I liked at the 2 or 3 grocery stores I had been too.  My Mom had a few false alarms of being released from the hospital and each time, I would stock up on food just in case she came home.  I looked for nut butter, but never found any…of quality that is.  #nutbuttersnob

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I never tried sunflower seed butter before so I bought this one and let me tell you it was incredible!  Now that I’m back in Arizona, I looked for it at my local market but I have not seen this brand.  I did find it on Amazon though so an Amazon Prime purchase may be in order.  Oh yeah, the Great Harvest sandwich was good too!

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Best for last, the Mustard Seed.  This charming cafe looks unappealing from the outside, but inside it’s like Grandma’s house.  It’s cute, personable and you just want to stay there all day. 

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I ordered the Chef’s special the Harvest Panini.   I ordered the half sandwich and elected for a side of the tomato bisque soup.  This was the first real meal in a restaurant I had while my Mom was in the hospital.  They kicked us out one day and this place was just minutes from the hospital.  My Mom recommended I try it and boy was she right! 

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The sandwich had shaved turkey breast, apples and cranberry chutney on grilled zucchini walnut bread.   OMG yum! 

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The waitress offered me a freshly made apple raisin muffin, which of course I couldn’t pass up.  It actually had a whole chunk of apple inside.  I was bummed I hadn’t discovered this place sooner because I would have gone there EVERY DAY. 

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My last day in Wisconsin my Mom really wanted to go there with me.  She wasn’t strong enough to leave the house yet so my Dad picked up our sandwiches and we enjoyed them at home together.  As we ate together, I thought how grateful I was she was still with us and I had the opportunity to do something special with her before leaving.  I savored that moment with her and I’m sure every future one I will too.  #mom&daughterforever

Do you have a favorite local cafe?  What’s the best local eatery you’ve been too out-of-town?

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Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last month when I bought a bag of Hershey’s springtime limited edition morsels at Target I had no idea what I would be baking with them.  Any plans I had were tossed out the door with my Mom’s emergency heart surgery.  When I got home last weekend from Wisconsin, I knew I had to bake up a few goodies to bring to work with me this week and thank the team.  While I was gone, the team kept up with my work so I would not fall behind and I am so very grateful.  It’s stressful enough dealing with a family emergency much less returning to a mad pile of work.  My director emailed me and told me how much they missed my baking.  I thought this would be a way to show my gratitude.

Did you know chocolate morsels were invented in 1939?  The history of the chocolate chip cookie is quite interesting.  As with many recipes, it came to be through one woman’s idea to try something new. 

When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to bake for the team, I remembered the morsels I bought.  I had chocolate chip cookies on my mind because that’s the only cookie my Dad will eat and my director sent my Dad a box of cookies last week.

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That’s when I came up with the idea for a low-calorie, sugar-free healthy oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. 

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A confession.  I tossed the rolled oats into the batter before grinding it into flour. 

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I love a messy baking sheet!

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Actually, my oops moment turned out fantastic. I love the whole oats in these cookies. It gives them an extra crunch. 

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These are so cute and ridiculously good! 

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I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them. Hope you enjoy!

oatmeal choc chip cookies1  

Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 18
Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups rolled oats
  2. 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  3. 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  4. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  5. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 4 tbsp canola oil
  8. 4 tbsp maple syrup
  9. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  10. 1/2 cup chocolate chip morsels
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees
  2. Prepare baking sheet
  3. In a medium bowl, combine applesauce, maple syrup, canola oil & vanilla extract
  4. Add whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and blend well
  5. Add rolled oats and mix thoroughly by hand
  6. Add chocolate chips and gently fold into batter
  7. Drop 1 tablespoon of the batter onto prepared baking sheet
  8. Bake 9 minutes at 350 degrees
  9. Cool on a baking rack
Notes
  1. 111 calories per cookie
The Skinny-Life http://theskinny-life.com/
What’s your favorite cookie?  Chocolate chip cookies, love them or hate them?  What’s your favorite cookie memory?

Linking up with Erin at Table for Seven, Becky at Olives n Wine &  Anyonita Nibbles 

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The Things I Do For Fitness

The things I do to get a little fitness. 

While I was in Wisconsin these past two weeks for my Mom’s heart surgery, I made it a priority to get in fitness while I was there.  People may think I’m crazy to workout while my Mom is recovering like one smirky old man in a spin class who asked me why I was working out.  I need to workout to manage my stress and the truth is we find time for the things that are a priority in life.  I’m also that person who needs routines and familiarity to stay calm and exercise does that for me. 

I won’t lie, it took some planning ahead and perseverance to make fitness in Wisconsin happen.  Before I left Arizona, I put word out on social media about my travel plans and asked for fitness recommendations.  Within minutes friends responded with options.  

One option was the YMCA.  A friend of a friend offered me her YMCA pass that was good for another month.  I taught cardio kickboxing at the Y years ago so I felt comfortable going there.  I also knew they had a large swimming pool.  I learned there are not a lot of facilities in Green Bay with pools for lap swimmers like me, which narrowed my options significantly.  My friend’s friend was awesome offered this and mailed it to my parent’s house so it was waiting for me when I got there.  

Just one snag…I had to look like her to get in. A person takes the card when you enter and verifies the face on the computer matches the person checking-in.  My friend’s friend doesn’t look anything like me which meant I needed a disguise.  So I took Mom’s hat and a pair of her reading glasses and was able to squeak by.  Thank goodness it was still winter in the Midwest! 

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I attended two spin classes at the Y and they were horrible.  The worst classes ever.  They were under taught and even some false information was given to the class around hand placement and foot strokes.  I love the Y for its mission, family friendliness and community focused activities but I just couldn’t bring myself to go back, despite the good pool. Onto option 2. 

This is how I ended up at Xperience Fitness.  I called them and explained I needed a short-term membership.  Normally, they would charge $20 per day for a drop-in or you could sign-up for a 1 month membership for $9.99 + enrollment fees.  Something that annoys me is that fitness facilities do not offer membership options for people traveling or needing something short-term.  Money is money, right?  There are no Xperience Fitness facilities where I live so it didn’t make sense for me to pay a monthly membership.

The guys at Xperience Fitness enrolled me and waved all the fees.  They also had me complete the cancellation forms while I was there to make sure my membership would not be extended beyond this month.  Woot!

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Xperience Fitness had all the usual suspects – weight lifting machines, free weights, cardio equipment, a lap pool, spin classes, aerobics classes.  #selfie

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They also offered a few bonus features such as a cardio movie room, TRX suspension, speciality group classes like Insanity and Body Pump and tanning.  I passed on the tanning.

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The spin classes were awesome.  They were all in the dark, with a psychedelic light, which at 5am is really nice.  I may workout in the morning, but it doesn’t mean I’m always awake.  Something else I liked, how friendly the instructors were.  I had 3 different instructors and all of them knew their class by name so when I showed up everyone asked who I was.  The Saturday morning instructor was one of the best spin instructors I’ve ever had.  Her yelling was incredibly motivation.  She taught a booty kicking class! 

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Something I didn’t like was the bike.  They were old spin bikes and without a monitor I couldn’t tell what my resistance was set at and couldn’t see my RPM’s or trips. 

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By the end of my first week in Wisconsin, my foot was feeling a lot better so I gave the treadmill a whirl.  While my Mom was in the hospital, my Dad was with her in the morning and I in the afternoon into the night.  I went to the gym at 5am and rotated my training days between spin class and treadmill run-walk with weight-training. 

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My first time wasn’t stellar, but I didn’t care.  I was simply excited I could do 5k without pain.  I told myself I wasn’t going to worry about pace right now.  My focus is to gradually increase distance sans foot pain.  I will work on getting back to my pre-injury pace later as my foot becomes stronger.

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Random lol moment…a woman in front of me eating a protein bar while running.  I know I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t help myself.  I just had to snap a pic. 

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By my second week, I was strong enough to walk the Fox River Trail near my parents house.  We brought my Mom home that week and with the nurses coming in the early morning it wasn’t as convenient for me to get to the gym so I hit the trail in the afternoon. 

The Fox River Trail is along the water and winds behind some gorgeous homes.  The scenery is pretty and for me, there’s just nothing better than being outdoors.  It calms me, allows me to think and take a time-out from life. The weather warmed up to 50-60′s which made it enjoyable better than my first week when it was snowing and 30.

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On my last day on the trail, I completed 7 miles and I was happy.  Happy my Mom was alive and ok and happy my foot was on the mends.  Sometimes life happens, but I believe it all happens for a reason. 

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Tell me what would you do for your fitness?  Do you believe things happen for a reason?

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4/13/14 Sunday Funday

Hi Friends!  How’s your weekend?  I’ve been organizing myself for the week since I returned from Wisconsin where I was helping my Mom recover from heart surgery for over two weeks.  I was a bit overwhelmed after returning and the stress of everything finally was revealing it’s ugly head.  I called a close friend and talked to her about what I was feeling.  She suggested I get back into my normal routine as soon as possible and she’s right.  I am more comfortable when I can predict and plan for what’s ahead.  Life has thrown a lot of curve balls this year so right now I just need a little stability. 

Fitness Plan
Sunday - 9 mile walk
Monday – Swim & Stair Master
Tuesday - 6 mile walk
Wednesday – Spin class & swim
Thursday – Elliptical & weight train
Friday - 9 mile walk
Saturday – Spin class & weight train
 
Meal Plan
Sunday – Mexican Mash
Monday – Grilled Salmon & Roasted Vegetables
Tuesday – Leftover Mexican Mash
Wednesday – Black Bean Burger & Edamame Salad
Thursday – Leftover Chicken Lentil Soup
Friday – Cod & Brussels Sprouts
Saturday – Eat Out
 

My reads and loves for the week. 

Fun

Amazon Prime - I bought this by accident in January.  It was $80 for a one-year membership, but it has seriously bailed me out on many occassions with the free two-day shipping like the time I lost my Fitbit.

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Fox River Trail -  Pretty & scenic.  One of my favorite places to walk when I’m visiting my parents.  I was able to hit the trail a few days when the temps were above 50 and thankfully, my foot was well enough to finish 6-7 miles each time.  

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Cooks Corner in Green Bay – Seriously I could have spent an entire day in this store.  Good thing I didn’t or I would’ve needed another suitcase or two. #cookscornergb

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Food

Chickpea Cookie Dough Bites via Texanerin Baking – These look exactly like chocolate chip cookies, a must try!

Naturally Nutty Sunflower Butter - I stumbled across this at a cafe in Wisconsin.  It was my first experience with sunflower butter and it was incredible!  I especially loved the cinnamon & vanilla flavoring in this.  I need to find this in Arizona.

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Strawberry Banana Muffins - I love my strawberries and cannot resist a good sale to test my baking skills.  Next in my head  is a strawberry banana bread.

strawberry banana muffins

Organic & Pure Green Tea - I didn’t have enough of my favorite green tea packed when I had to extend my stay longer in Wisconsin so I had to find a replacement.  I found this in the organic section of the market.  It was good.  The flavor was not as rich as my other green tea, but it definitely was a good backup.  I would recommend this especially for those just beginning to experiment with drinking tea.

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Health

Our Year of No Sugar: One Family’s Grand Adventure via Everyday Health – A good read on how sugar impacts health.  I try to eat sugar in moderation, but I wish I had the courage to eliminate it completely like this family did.

20 Risks for Heart Disease You didn’t Know You Had via Mind Body Green – Remember the time I said I believe diet soda is bad for health? 

Gluten? Dairy? Paleo? Vegan? So Confusing… via My Food Fitness Diaries – Amen sister!  I do not believe in diet trends or cutting out food groups either. 

How to Never Feel Stressed at Work Again via Greatist – I admit it, I’m always stressed at work.  I need to follow the advice of this article and take a step back more.

 

Fitness

Exercising on an Empty Stomach: The Surprising Benefits via Greatist - I almost always exercise on an empty stomach. I workout in the wee hours of the morning & I’m not getting up an earlier to eat.  The only exception are the weekends in which case I do eat something light 1-2 hours before working out like egg whites or yogurt. 

Does it Matter How Often You Workout? via Women’s Health – Yes, it does matter!

Should You Trust an App to Count Calorie for You? via Shape – I used an app for my weight-loss.  I think the person has to be diligent and honest with themselves about what they are eating in order for the app to work.

 

Blogging

Finding My Blogging Voice via The Healthy Maven – This post was meaningful for me as I am still developing my blog and working to find my own voice.  I’ve learned it’s important to recognize your blog is your own haven and it’s not going to make everyone happy all the time. 

Closing Comments, Opening Conversations via Katy Widrick – A viewpoint on blogging with food for thought. 

What did you read or love week? 

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4 Blogging Tips Every Blogger Should Know

Hi all, I’m Jan from Sprouts n Squats.

I love to blog about everything and anything from training for a half marathon (my first half marathon recap), to emotional eating (what sushi means to me), blogging tips and recipes too.

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I’ve been blogging now for over a year and today I want to share with you some advice I would give myself if I were to start again now.1. Start on WordPress even if you don’t self host:

I started on Blogger and didn’t realize till other bloggers told me months and months later how hard it is for others to comment if they don’t use Blogger too. WordPress as a platform also helps to quickly promote your blog to others in the same blog genre as you.

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Source

2. Twitter – it’s not all about you

When I first signed up to Twitter and started to promote my blog on it, I didn’t use to try and engage that much with others let alone share others blog posts. One of the best things I read about Twitter is that 80% of the time you should be interacting with others and sharing their content and just 20% sharing your own stuff. What you will find is that you connect with and meet some great people as well as start to build good will for others to share your blog posts too.

3. Being different isn’t a bad thing

I used to think that I needed to follow other bloggers in writing style, topics and participating in all the link ups around. I realized later that actually being different from other blogs isn’t always a bad thing.
 
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Source

4. You don’t need to blog every single day

 
When I first started my blog I felt that I needed to blog every single day. I’m talking 7 days a week and it was tough  writing that amount of posts and thinking of what to write. I’ve now cut back to a much more manageable 5 days a week but I don’t sweat it if I need to only blog 3 days because of work or even take the whole week off because sometimes life just happens.
 
I hope some of these tips help you out.
 
Thank you Megan for letting me guest post :)
 
If you have blogged for a while, what tips would you give yourself now if you started over?
 
 
I want to thank Jan for her great guest post today.  Be sure to stop by Sprouts n Squats and catch up with Jan!

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Linking up with Jill at Fitness,Health and HappinessKatie at Running 4 Cupcakes and Clare at Fitting it all in

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Wisconsin Trip Recap

Morning Friends!

As this post goes up today, I will be on a flight to Phoenix.  I’m returning home from Wisconsin after my Mom’s heart surgery.  I have been gone two weeks and need to return to work and finish physical therapy.  I have an Orthopedic appointment next week to check my foot injury

Here’s a few highlights from the trip. 

It started off on the wrong foot with Delta.  I purchased a first class seat, but was informed when I got to the airport that I had a coach seat due to a plane change.  I purchased my ticket last-minute for my Mom’s open heart surgery so of course it was expensive.  First class was just as expensive as coach so I bought it to be comfortable with my foot.  Apparently when you buy a first class ticket there’s no guarantee though.  The airlines have stellar service.

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I looked crazy at the Phoenix airport with my wool coat.  I am going to look even crazier today when I return.  It’s supposed to be 100 in Phoenix.

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It was a big weather change.  Two days later it was 50 degrees and people were wearing shorts and flip-flops in Wisconsin and grilling out.  I guess when it’s been this cold 50 feels like summer.  Lol…

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My healthy travel snacks.

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I traveled in my boot.  I knew with traveling and caring for my Mom I would to be on my feet so I wanted to protect my foot as much as possible.  I’m so glad I did too.  Like my Mom, my foot is finally turning a corner.  It could be my imagination or all the stress from my Mom’s surgery, but my foot has been feeling A LOT better.  Although I continued to workout while I was in Wisconsin, the rest of the time I was sitting in a hospital room with my Mom which probably allowed my foot to rest more than at home. 

Maybe Mom’s surgery was meant to be, a way for me to get off my feet and allow things to heal.  I will be interested to see how it progresses as I return to my normal routine.  Isn’t it strange how things work out sometimes?

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I lost my Fitbit in Minneapolis on my layover.  :(

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Amazon Prime to the rescue!  I had a new Fitbit delivered to my parents house two days later with free shipping.

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Tractors in the Green Bay airport.  That’s how they roll in farm country.

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Apparently it was so cold in Wisconsin that people still had their Christmas decorations up.  I saw many houses like this one and last I checked it’s April.

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Snow remnants.  The locals say it was a long, cold winter.

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At the grocery store, they had a Brat Fry (whatever that is).  Things get a little crazy when it’s 50 degrees outside.

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Cheese curds (i.e. rubber cheese).  A staple in Wisconsin along with brats and beer.

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A drive by my school – St. Norbert College.  My parents live just a few miles away.

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I couldn’t believe how much it’s grown up.  Me too for that matter.  It seems like just yesterday I was walking across this campus.  How time flies.  Now years later I’m back for the first time.  Wish I had had  more time to wander around.  

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Roundabouts.  Ugh they are everywhere.  They weren’t here when I moved away 13 years ago.  I don’t understand their purpose. They confuse people.  I don’t like them.

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Gorgeous flowers for my Mom delivered from my Director. 

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He even sent my Dad chocolate chip cookies. 

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They are his favorite and the only cookie he will eat.  They remind me of my Grandma.

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Fruit platter delivered to our house by my Mom’s best friend.  This was a life saver for me with all the pre-cut fruit.

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The Rola-Rena that I went to as a kid.  I couldn’t believe it was still there.  Do kids still roller skate?

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Mom and Dad sleeping at the hospital.  We were all very tired.

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Mom’s heart pillow.  Heart patients are given a heart pillow to hold to their chest when standing up/down.  After heart surgery, you can’t use your arms to assist yourself for 8 weeks.  Is this not adorable?

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My first trail walk on the Fox River Trail since my foot injury.  It’s near my parents house.  I wish I had one of these near my house.  So gorgeous.

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View of the Green Bay Packer stadium from the trail.  I didn’t realize until I inserted these pics how gloomy it is here compared to Phoenix.  I’m sure spoiled.

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 Mom knows how much I love to cook so she told me I needed to check out Cooks Corner on my way to the hospital.  It’s the Nation’s Largest Kitchen Store in case you didn’t know it’s in Wisconsin.

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This place was amazing!  They had everything kitchen and more even a plethora of popcorn flavors.  They also offer cooking classes.

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I could have spent all day exploring this store.  They had everything from kitchen utensils, pots and pans, kitchen linens, teas & coffees, unique baking extracts and flours and every gadget you could imagine.  No nut butter though! 

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They also have a house of candy.  They make their own fudge where you can taste samples.

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I managed to escape the store with only two things.  My mind was on my Mom which is good because otherwise I would have needed another suitcase.  Of course what I bought was pink.  Would you expect anything else from me?

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The night I took Mom home from the hospital.  She was excited to leave after 14 days.  When we got her home in bed, she cried.  She never thought she would see home again.  She was so happy. 

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I don’t want to go home and leave her today, but I have to.  She didn’t want me to leave either.  It hurts so much I can hardly breathe.  I have to have faith everything will be ok. 

Love you more Mom.

 

Have you been to Wisconsin?  Have you tried cheese curds before?  What would you buy at a large kitchen store?  Have you ever had to care for a sick parent?

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Linking up with Amanada @ Running with Spoons 

Linking up with Jill at Fitness,Health and Happiness too!

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WIAW…I lost my Fitbit in Minnesota

I lost my Fitbit in Minnesota. :( 

On my way to Wisconsin for my Mom’s  heart surgery, I lost my Fitbit on my layover in Minnesota.  I know I had it on the plane from Phoenix.  When I deplaned, I went to Pei Wei and it was then I noticed my Fitbit was missing. 

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I love my Fitbit.  It’s one of my favorite gadgets and I have many of them.  I’ve had it now for over a year.  I love that it syncs automatically with my Lose It app on my iPhone, tells me how many steps I’ve taken for the day and my calories. Without it, I felt naked.  

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There are two things about Fitbit that I do not like.  

One is the jacket that holds the device stretches over time.  My Fitbit had been sliding out of its jacket for a few weeks, but with my foot injuryphysical therapy and Mom’s emergency heart surgery I hadn’t gotten around to getting a new one.  See more on my Fitbit review here.  

Another thing is the Fitbit doesn’t capture steps while cycling, but I actually have a trick that fixes this.  Instead of placing the Fitbit on your waist while biking, place it on the end of your shorts or pants.  The device will track the bike rotations as steps.  See my pic below for an example.

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Thank goodness I accidentally bought Amazon Prime earlier this year because it saved the day!   I bought a new Fitbit on my Amazon app and two days later it was delivered to my parents house.  And yes, I said accident.  I had a happy click moment one day and hit the yes I want to purchase Amazon prime button.  I must admit it’s the best accidental purchase ever.  It has saved me on many occasions and you can’t beat free two-day shipping.

Now for some eats!  I’m linking up with Peas & Crayons today for another What I Ate Wednesday.

Breakfast was an omelette with asparagus and mushrooms.  My Mom had vegetables leftover in the refrigerator and I knew I had to use them soon.  What better than to toss leftover veggies in with your morning eggs for a quick omelette?

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I was also going to make my  oatmeal and berries with a glob of peanut butter, but I could not find decent nut butter anywhere in Wisconsin!  I know I am a snob when it comes to nut butters.  I like quality.  My favorite brands are  Justin’s, Barney’s and NuttZo.  After you try them, you would never do something like Jiffy EVER again, but I could not find any of them.  Correction.  I did find Justin’s at Target but it was hazelnut butter and that wasn’t what I wanted on my oatmeal.  So I had to make do with this one and it was…meh.

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Lunch was take-out Thai Chicken Salad from Panera Bread.  A delightful mix of greens, red pepper, edamame, carrots, cilantro, grilled chicken and Thai wonton strips.  I asked for the dressings on the side.  I have a weird thing about putting my own dressing on salad.  I hate it when I have a salad drenched in dressing and I can’t taste the vegetables and their awesome nutrients.  Yes, I’m weird and proud of it.  I also had a cup of chicken noodle soup that didn’t get pictured. Random fact – my Mom doesn’t like soup and salad together.  So that makes us both weird.  

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Snack was a yogurt parfait from Panera Bread with plain greek yogurt, strawberries and granola.  Yum snack desert!

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Dinner was grocery store salad.  I spent most afternoons and nights at the hospital with my Mom and packed dinner so I wouldn’t be strapped eating hospital food.  On the way home from the gym I stopped at Festival Foods, a local grocery store which actually has tons of healthy and quick food options.  I knew my Mom had a mix of lettuce and spinach at her house that needed to be eaten so salad fixings were on my mind.  I bought a pre-cut mix of veggies – broccoli, bell peppers, carrots and celery.  I also bought baked salmon at the meat counter and warmed it in the hospital cafeteria microwave. It was delicious!  I put everything in containers at my Mom’s house and wallah I had a mobile dinner at the hospital that night.  I topped my salad with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar dressing. 

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Do you like your salad dressing on the salad or on the side?  What is 1 weird thing you do with food? What’s your favorite thing at Panera Bread?

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Strawberry Banana Muffins

Happy Tuesday!  It really is a happy day.  My Mom was discharged from the hospital last night FINALLY.  She was there 14 days.  She was supposed to be there a week for her open heart surgery, but things took a turn for the worse last week.  She developed a horrible rash.  It was everywhere on her body, itchy and red.  I have never seen a rash so terrible in my life.  I felt awful for her.  A skin biopsy determined it to be sweet syndrome.  The doctor said it was extremely rare and told the nurses to remember it because they would never see it again in their lives.  They put her on IV steroids and the rash cleared over the weekend.

My Mom also contracted a bacterial infection in her blood, which was serious.  The doctors still do not know definitively how she contracted it.  Before we left the hospital, she had a picc line inserted in her arm.  She has to have IV antibiotics twice a day at home for the next 4 weeks.  Additionally, she will have cardiac rehab to help her regain her strength.  They will come to her house for the first 2 weeks and then she will go to a facility after that to continue her rehab.  It’s been a long two weeks and we’re all thankful for the excellent care of the doctors and nurses at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Green Bay. 

Specifically, I want to thank the heart surgeon for saving my Mom’s life.  He may never read this, but just in case he does I want him to know how grateful we are.  They said because she never had a heart attack she could have died suddenly with the coronary disease she had.  We’re so lucky she’s still with us. 

Mom is resting at home now.  Home health care is coming this morning to go over everything with us.  I’m staying a few more days before heading to Phoenix to get my parents settled. 

Mom and Dad sleeping at the hospital.  We’re all very tired. 

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A random blurb of blog happiness…my No Bake Raspberry Granola Bars were picked as a favorite recipe last week from Share It Thursday link party over at Made From Pinterest.  I was thrilled!.  There are so many amazing bloggers and recipes.  I always feel honored when one of mine is selected.

raspberry almond bars

I told you about the 5 containers of 98 cent strawberries I bought on sale at the market.  So of course I have another wonderful skinny recipe to give you today with strawberries as the star ingredient again.  I promise this will be the last strawberry one for a while.  My recipe experiments have been on hold a few weeks since I had to rush to Wisconsin for my Mom’s heart surgery.

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A few tips for this recipe.  Use fresh strawberries that have been sitting a few days and are very ripe.  Also, use ripe bananas that are almost black and smash them with a fork very well before mixing them with the batter.

strawberry banana muffins

 

Strawberry Banana Muffins
Serves 16
Strawberry Banana Muffins
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Ingredients
  1. 3 large ripe bananas, mashed well
  2. 2 egg whites
  3. 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  4. 1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced into small pieces
  5. ¾ cup sugar
  6. ¼ cup applesauce
  7. 1 tsp baking soda
  8. 1 tsp baking powder
  9. pinch of salt
  10. ½ tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray
  3. In a large bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, sugar and applesauce
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients until well-blended
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture
  6. Stir in the berries gently
  7. Pour batter into muffin tins
  8. Bake 18-20 minutes
  9. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving
Notes
  1. 102 calories per muffin
The Skinny-Life http://theskinny-life.com/
Have you tried fresh strawberries in a muffin recipe before?  What’s your favorite way to eat strawberries? What’s your favorite berry?

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Linking up with Erin at Table for Seven, Becky at Olives n WineAnyonita Nibbles & Strange But Good
with Laura

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Let’s BodyPump!

Hi! I’m Katie and I blog at Running4Cupcakes.

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My blog follows my life and my quest for balance and healthy living. I blog about everything, but my favorite topics are running, teaching BODYPUMP and aerobics, being a new Mom, daily life, my latte addiction, crafts, new recipes, baking, and lots of pictures of Luke (my almost 2 year old) and Abby (my 9 year old collie mix). And I am super excited to be guest posting on The Skinny Life for Megan today!!

teach bodypump at my local YMCA. I have been teaching since January of 2013 but I have been a bodypump enthusiast for years. If you know me, you know that I don’t get up early for anything. . . well bodypump (and Luke) is the exception. I used to take the 5:30am class regularly when I first started taking bodypump back in college.  

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But, let me back up for a second. 
What exactly is BODYPUMP?

For those of you that don’t know about the glorious-ness (yes a word!) that is body pump, let me explain. It is basically an aerobics class with a weighted barbell. You work one body part per song and after 60 minutes you have completed a full body strength workout. Good and easy moves. And totally adjustable based on how much weight you put on your weight bar. You basically work one body area per song. Bodypump also has the best music. The moves are fairly easy to do and learn.  And your instructor will cue you through all the movements. A typical class includes the following: 
 
1. Warm up
2. Squats
3. Chest
4. Back
5. Triceps
6. Biceps
7. Lunges
8. Shoulders
9. Abs
10. Cool down

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For your first class:

1. Get there early so you can set up your bar, weights, step (not used for a step but for a bench to lay on), mat, and sometimes hand weights. That’s a lot of stuff, right? So, make sure you get there extra early (10-15 min) for your 1st class and then future classes get there a few extra minutes (5 or so) ahead of time so you can be ready to start on time.

2. Tell your instructor that you are new. I know, I know. No one likes to admit this is their first time. But trust me on this one, they can help you set up your space and give you the correct cues for weight selection. I will teach and cue a class very differently depending on if I have any new people in the class. . . yes, I say a lot of the same things, but some cues are really important if this is your first few classes. . . 

3. Don’t worry about your weight selection for at least the first class and don’t be afraid to adjust your weight during the class, if you realize halfway through a track that you have too much or too little weight on your bar, take a quick break and adjust it. Especially important if you have too much weight – form is always better than strength.

4. If something doesn’t feel right, make sure to follow up with your instructor after class. They can often help make sure that you are doing the move correctly and help with form. 

5. Remember that the first class is always the worst. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll have fun and get a good workout. . .but it is hard to put everything together: the weight selection, moves, timing, and that bodypump feeling. The next class will be better, and the next class after that will be better still. 

6. Don’t forget to smile. You are supposed to be having fun. And yes, it is supposed to be hard, and you will have sweat dripping off body parts that you didn’t know possible.

Stand proud when you are done with class because you just completed a killer workout. Get ready to be sore, but don’t skip your next class, working out will help that soreness!

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Already do BODYPUMP? Interested in becoming an instructor? Check out my posts about becoming a certified BODYPUMP instructor.

Are you ready to BodyPump now?  

I want to thank Katie for her guest post today and generosity in offering to help while I’ve been with my Mom.  Be sure to catch up with Katie at Running4Cupcakes.

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4/6/14 Sunday Funday

Happy Sunday!  Hope you had a lovely weekend.  I am still in Wisconsin with my Mom as she is recovering from her heart surgery 12 days ago.  While she bounced back well from the surgery, she suffered a severe rash and bacterial infection post-op.  Thankfully, she was still in the hospital when it happened. She is still in the hospital, but hopeful she will be leaving early this week. We’re crossing our fingers.  I want to take a moment to thank all of you who have extended your wishes and prayers for my Mom. I promise to post more on my Wisconsin adventures later this week. 

It’s cold here and it’s been snowing!  Funniest thing ever.  I went to a spin class at the Y last weekend.  It was a whopping 50 degrees outside and everyone was talking about grilling out.  Coming from Arizona where 50 means cold and winter, this cracked me up!  The 50s were short-lived this week.  Two days later on April 1st it was 30 and snowing and it snowed again Sunday.  Where’s spring?

I want to give a shout out to my fabulous guest bloggers this week Lora @ Crazy Running Girl, Kirsta @ Tiny N Fit and Brittany @ My Own Balance for their amazing posts!  Thank you so very much for your help and awesome post!  If anyone is interested in guest posting, please contact me @ theskinylife@gmail.com

Here are a few things I’ve been reading and loving this week.  Of all of these, I recommend you definitely read the one on If 70s Mom’s have blogs.  It’s hilarious!

Fun

11 Old-School Etiquette Rules You Don’t Need To Follow Anymore (And 3 You Do) via Buzzfeed – Now I can tell my Mom it’s totally ok to wear white after Labor Day even though I always have.

 7 Things Morning People Do Differently via Huffpost – I was not always a morning person until a few years ago and I can attest that I am more productive now that I kick my morning off with fitness.

Lion King Plane Impromptu via IJ Review – This makes me happy.  

 

Food

Strawberry Lemonade - simple, sour & sweet way to jazz up regular water for a refreshing drink!

strawberry lemonade

Luna Protein Bars - My go to protein bar when I need one.  

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Honey Almond Roasted Chickpeas via Running with Spoons – I love chickpeas, I need to try this recipe pronto.  

 

Health

Study: Drinking Diet Soda Means You’re More Likely To Die Of Heart Disease via Mind Body Green – Regular soda is packed with sugar and calories and many people assume diet is better for you simply because it contains fewer calories.  I believe artificial sweeteners contained in diet soda can be just as harmful to health as regular which is why I gave up soda during my my weight-loss.

The Most Fattening Foods at 10 Fast Food Chains  via Health – You may not want to read this one.  Some of your favorite foods may be listed here.

Are You Getting Enough Nutrients in Your Diet? via Shape – I was attracted to this article because I have suffered from nutrient problems for years.  I am deficient in vitamin D which is become the new normal.  I also monitor my B12 levels regularly along with my iron deficiency.  This article brought DEXA to my attention which is something I want to ask my doctor about now that I’m in my late 30s.

 

Fitness

10 Exercise Cheats That Blow Your Calorie Burn via Time – They talked about smart phone distractions a little.  It should be its own topic in my opinion.  Too many people talking on the phone and reading tablets at the gym and not paying attention to how they are working out.  Take the time for yourself to disconnect from your phone and workout properly.

The New Way to Lose Weight via Fitness – HIIT( high intensity interval training) has become the latest fitness trend.  It combines strength training with bursts of cardio during rest periods.  Interesting study.  I personally believe a long period of cardio training can be just as effective as HIIT.  This study seems to indicate they have similar results.  

15 workouts you can easily do at home via Buzzfeed – Reading this article cracked me up.  When you open the link, you will see why.  Besides the comedy, there’s a few good workouts in there.

 

Blogging

10 Free Blogging Printables Every Blogger Needs to be Using via SITS girls – Whether your just starting a blog or have had one for a while, these are all great tips.

If 70s Moms Had Blogs via Wide Lawns - This is funny.  My parents & I had a good laugh reading this article.

 

Enjoy your day.

What are you loving this week?  What if decade do you think would be most interesting to read a blog from?

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Mediterranean-Asian Diet

Hi All!  My name is Brittany and I am a healthy living blogger at My Own Balance and I am guest posting for Megan today!

Vegan, gluten-free, pescetarian, paleo, intermittent fasting, low-carb, vegetarian, raw… with all the different diets and food preferences out there today it can be hard to determine what is actually healthy, what works best for you.  While I would never advocate that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, I do think there are general principles based on scientific research that are simply healthier for you.  Personally, I’m not one to give things up so that’s why no meat, no cheese, no bread, no eating diets don’t work for me.  Enter the Mediterranean-Asian diet.  I started learning about this diet a few years ago and I was hooked on it immediately.  While I can’t say that it is a diet I follow religiously, I can say that the overall principles are very important to me in my daily life.

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Although there is no set formula or recipes for a Mediterranean-Asian diet, there are a few basic principles that are popular in these cultures.

  • Fish is an important source of protein in their diets.
  • Red meat is eaten but in small amounts.
  • Vegetables and legumes make up a large portion of their diets.
  • Grains (whole) are good for you!
  • Healthy fats are consumed on a regular basis.
  • Alcohol is consumed as part of their culture and in moderation.
  • Eating has deep cultural significance and is important for building and maintaining relationships and enjoying life.

For me, Mediterranean and Asian foods are rich in taste and provide me with the nutrients my body craves.  Some of my favorite cuisines fall under the Mediterranean-Asian diet: Thai, Greek, Italian, Vietnamese, Japanese. 

Stir Fry

Here are a few things I love about this diet:

  • Olive oil (and other heart healthy oils) is your friend in moderation.
  • Spices and herbs make every dish.
  • Flavor is the main ingredient and variety is the spice of life.
  • Healthy fats are important.
  • Fresh food is essential.
  • Moderation is key and choosing healthy is encouraged.

Arrabbiata

Don’t get me wrong, a Mediterranean or Asian dish can still be unhealthy (penne a la vodka or tempura fish anyone?), but it is the principles of these diets that derive real benefit.  One principle that I think is deeply important is the relationship with food that is emphasized in Mediterranean and Asian cultures.  In America, I feel that we are always on the go and always looking for a new fad to counteract our processed convenience foods.  What if instead of rushing through a meal, we sat down with our loved ones and savored the taste and texture?  The mixture of flavors on your tongue?  What if we thought of a meal as a time to reconnect rather than just gain sustenance and move on?  I think there is value here beyond nutrition, but for our minds as well.  Of course, not every meal is going to be a long, leisurely experience but if we tried to channel those principles every time we took a minute to eat, we would be more mindful and enjoy our food more.

tomato tart

I love experimenting with different Mediterranean and Asian recipes like:

  • Greek salad
  • Sesame shrimp noodles
  • Tuna and broccoli pasta with tomato red pepper pasta
  • Japanese pan seared salmon with soba noodles
  • Rice paper rolls
  • Fish curry
  • Lime pepper chicken stir fry
  • Salad nicoise 

Everything always comes out so yummy and so different from the previous night’s dish!  If you are interested in learning more about the Mediterranean-Asian diet, my favorite website on the topic is mediterrasian.com.  They have tons of recipes and a list of all the studies explaining why this diet is so beneficial.

Summer wraps

While this diet works well for me, it isn’t going to work well for everyone.  I completely respect people who choose to eat vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, etc because they have done their research and know that it is healthier for them and their bodies.  I am not advocating that one diet is better than another, I am simply sharing my story of what works for me and why.  Also, this is a generalization of a Mediterranean and Asian diet and does not take into account the number of McDonald s in any of these areas!  :)

Readers, I am curious to know what kind of diet do you follow and why? 

I want to thank Brittany for her incredible guest post today and generosity in offering to help while I’ve been with my Mom.  Be sure to catch up with Brittany at My Own Balance.

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Linking up with Jill at Fitness,Health and Happiness, Katie at Running 4 Cupcakes and Clare at Fitting it all in

Diary of a Semi-Health Nut

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On Sleep Deprivation

Hi there!  My name is Krista and I am a healthy living blogger over at Tiny N Fit. I am excited to be guest posting for Megan today!

First, I want to send all my love, thoughts and prayers for Megan’s mom recovering from heart surgery and wish her a speedy recovery!  I also wish strength, courage, and prayers for Megan as she takes care of her mom!

Today I’m writing on a topic that I have struggled with for most of my life. 

Sleep Deprivation.

According to my mom, essentially from birth I have not been a ‘normal’ sleeper. I rarely slept through the night as a baby and to this day I still have trouble falling and staying asleep. I think it’s a combination of being a super light sleeper and having an over-active mind at night. I have tried just about every remedy you can throw at me.  I sleep with a sound conditioner (or white noise machine), my bedroom is super dark and quiet, and I read before bed to help distract and calm my mind. 

For the nights I simply cannot fall asleep, I try any number of things to help me sleep.  I’ve tried warm tea/milk, homeopathic medicine, Unisom, meditation, yoga, heck even Nyquil when I’m at my wits end.  It’s so frustrating trying to obtain adequate sleep as I know how important it is to my overall health!  Just how important?                                             

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According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sleep has many benefits and is so much more important to your health than you may realize. Sleep helps your brain work properly, regulating your emotions and making new pathways for memories. Sleep also maintains a healthy balance of hormones and blood sugar, helps maintain your immune system to help fight infection, and ensures you function properly during the day.

Ongoing sleep deprivation has a host of consequences, including increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and even stroke.  Not to mention sleep deprivation is horrendously dangerous for driving! Many accidents and deaths are caused by sleep deprived individuals falling asleep at the wheel.

Usually I can function normally with limited, albeit interrupted, sleep, and a large cup of coffee in the morning. But the past few weeks my insomnia has gotten so bad it has started to affect my health. I became incredibly moody and irritable, lashing out at coworkers and loved ones. Last week especially, I could hardly find the energy to accomplish anything at work, and by the time I got home I was so exhausted I ended up skipping the gym the entire week to rest. The time at the gym is my me time!

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One morning after yet another crummy night of sleep, I was getting ready for work when my boyfriend asked what a simple question.  I lashed out and almost burst into tears from exhaustion, I even ended up crying on my drive in to work.

Enough was enough.

I made an appointment with my GP and told him just how bad my sleep deprivation had gotten.  I am normally a proponent of ‘natural sleep is best,’ but when I had tried everything else he suggested a low dose of Ambien (a prescribed sleep medication) on an as-needed basis. 

That night I had THE BEST 9 hours of sleep of my life. I woke up incredibly refreshed, energized and ready to take on the day which you should be feeling after a great night of sleep. While I can’t recommend this for everyone, for those like me with chronic and life-threatening insomnia, it may be beneficial to talk to your doctor.  

The best part of getting good quality sleep for the first time in weeks? I was happy and really felt myself again. To me, that is so worth it. 

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I understand the sleep topic is nothing new, but I’m not sure people know just how detrimental true sleep deprivation can be.  My behavior changed, I was moody and irritable, unkind to my friends and family, and at my breaking point I was crying from exhaustion.  Do your health a favor.  Ensure you get adequate, quality sleep every night.  Your health is worth it!   

Do you get enough sleep every night? 

I want to thank Krista for this awesome guest post, her kindness in offering to post for me so quickly while I’m with my Mom and her thoughts and prayers.  Be sure to catch up with Krista at Tiny N Fit.

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Linking up with Amanada @ Running with Spoons

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WIAW…Travel Food

Hi Friends, happy hump day!  Last week I traveled to Wisconsin for my Mom’s emergency heart surgery.  She was in ICU five days and was moved to a post-op room where she continues to recover.  I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for their sincere wishes, thoughts and prayers.  Also, a big thanks to those who have offered to guest post for me on a short notice.  

Only in Green Bay Wisconsin do you see tractors in the airport.  Farm country at it’s best.  

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Leaving Phoenix last week, I realized I should share with you what I ate on my travel day.  I get a lot of questions about eating healthy while traveling.  This is an area I have a lot of experience with as I’ve traveled as an IT consultant for 10 years.  

Today there are many healthy options available, actually more than even a few years ago. Today you find fresh fruit, vegetables, yogurt, hummus, whole grains, salads, etc. in almost every airport.  Along with the good stuff also comes some bad.  Eating on the road can be a challenge because there are so many options available it can be overwhelming.  While I’m a proponent of eating all things in moderation and not limiting foods in the diet, I believe travel is a means to justify overindulging.  

My rules of thumb for travel eating.

1. Eat Familiar Foods – Stick to foods you generally eat when you’re home.  If you usually eat oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, eat that on the road or eat a granola bar instead.  Sticking to familiar foods will remove the question “what should I eat for breakfast?” and reduce the chances of making an unhealthy choice.  Your tummy will also thank you for not eating something that might upset it.  

2. Eat Regularly – Eat at the same time of day you normally would eat.  This reduces the chance of blood sugar dips which can lead to making a poor food choice.

3. Hydrate - Drink plenty of water.  This is important all the time to keep you feeling full and promote digestion.  Hydration is even more important during travel because air travel dehydrates the body.  So drink up butter cup.  

I’m linking up with Peas & Crayons today for another What I Ate Wednesday.

                                              

Breakfast was a Starbucks blonde coffee, whole grain oatmeal topped with walnuts and fresh blueberries and strawberries from home.  Starbucks gives you 3 toppings as options to add to oatmeal – dried fruit, brown sugar or walnuts.  Since I already had my berries which were sweet, I really wanted the crunch of the nuts. 

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Also, two hard-boiled eggs from home.  I ate the eggs at the terminal.   I was starving after my morning spin class!  I tend to eat most in the morning and lunch hours then less at dinner.  My morning workouts probably contribute to my eating pattern.  I’ve read that people who eat large breakfast tend to be healthier overall and their metabolisms are higher too which is key for weight-loss. Not sure what time of day to workout?  See my reasons to workout in the morning.

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On the plane, I asked the stewardess for a cup of hot water which I added to my oatmeal then topped it with my berry and walnut mixings.  I must admit, I look forward to that oatmeal everyday.  Sometimes I even think about it as I’m working out.  It’s like desert to me.  Hmm…morning delight! 

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Snack was a Luna chocolate peanut butter protein bar.  I don’t eat protein bars regularly.  I’m not a big fan of them.  Read my reasons why I don’t love protein bars.  Sometimes I do eat them while I’m traveling because travel schedules can be goofy and you never are quite sure when you will get your next meal.  The extra protein also keeps me full longer.  I particularly needed the extra protein this day.  I hadn’t eaten much that week with the stress of my Mom’s surgery.  I went to early spin class this morning before heading to the airport.  I needed the extra protein post workout to prevent a blood sugar crash.  I love the Luna bars.  They have less sugar and processed gunk than other protein bars I’ve examined.

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Lunch & Dinner was Pei Wei Japanese teriyaki chicken rice bowl.  A lovely combination of cabbage, carrots, onions, chicken, sesame seeds and brown rice.  I grabbed this to-go at the Minneapolis airport during my connection.  I ate half for lunch and the other half for dinner.

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Banana was to be had for a late day snack.  On the plane, the stewardess passed a snack basket around.  I snagged this banana and stashed it my bag for later. I knew I would be heading straight to the hospital from the airport and wanted to be sure I had a few things with me in case hunger struck.  I only wished I hadn’t forgotten my Justin’s individually wrapped almond butter at home to pair with it.  

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Decaf coffee with nestle reduced sugar cocoa mix.  The hospital has free coffee, tea, cocoa and water for families. Cocoa is a great low-calorie pairing for coffee.  This packet has 50 calories.  I simply added hot water and it was the right amount of sweetness I was craving late at the hospital.  I got my calcium for the day!

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I had a peppermint tea as well to help with my digestion.  Airplanes have a tendency to mess with digestion so I fell it’s important to take a probiotic and drink mint tea to keep things…moving along.  I was grateful the hospital had these machines especially after a long day of travel.  I needed to hydrate!

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What do you eat when you travel?  Do you bring food from home or grab on the go?  Have you ever eaten hospital food?  Good or bad?

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Disney Giveaway

Are you ready for the happiest giveaway ever? My blogger friends and I have teamed up to bring you a fabulous Disney Giveaway this month. Two lucky winners will receive Disney gift cards that can be used on an upcoming Disney vacation, Disney Store purchase and more!

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GIVEAWAY

Prizes: $500 Disney Gift Card & $100 Disney Gift Card (can be used at Disney Theme Parks and Resort Hotels, on Disney Cruise Line, at Disney Store, DisneyStore.com, at DisneyMusicStore.com and beyond)

Organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

Co-hosts: This Mama Loves ♥ Food Folks and Fun ♥ Momma T and Family  ♥ alex à la mode ♥ Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys ♥ Parenting In Northern Kentucky ♥ Barbara’s Beat ♥ Peanut Butter and Whine ♥ Jenns Blah Blah Blog ♥ StushiGal Style ♥ The Missing Niche ♥ Faithful Acres Books ♥ SmartySaver ♥ OC Deal Mama ♥ Stacy’s Savings ♥ A Purpose Driven Wife ♥ Mom In Love Forever

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Besides the mandatory blog comment entry, all other entries are optional. Giveaway ends 4/30 and is open worldwide.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join an awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaways begins today and is open until the end of April.  Good luck!

 

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Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

Happy April Fools Day!  

Today I want to thank Jan over at Sprouts n Squats.  She selected me as one of her favorite recipe bloggers this month.  OMG I’m honored!  I discovered Jan through Healthy Living Blogs which we are both members of.  I love squats and brussels sprouts so naturally the name of her site intrigued me.  Please take a minute to head over to Jan’s space and check out her post my favorite recipe bloggers this month.  

I love it when this happens. 

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I make it a habit to stock up on foods at the market when they go on sale.  Last week when I was at the market in Arizona strawberries were on sale for 98 cents.  Naturally, I bought 5 packages because I’m one person and that makes total sense, right? Well, it may have been a little more than I needed, but I love berries and I knew I would find a proper use for them.  I froze 2 packages, cut 1 package for my meal prepping for the week and other 2 packages  I used to test new recipes like the one I’m about to give you.

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I’ve mentioned before how I’m not a supporter of store-bought smoothies and juices because I feel they contain too many extras - sugar, sodium, protein powders and a bunch of unpronounceable processed gunk.  The concept behind these foods is a good one, but a healthy one?  Not so much.  I watched this video recently about protein bars.  It supports my theory.   The intention of smoothies, juices and protein bars are good.  Unfortunately, they are not always healthy.  These products can be very high in calories and if you’re looking to lose weight the high calorie content is something to avoid.  The problem is we’re all looking for shortcuts.  The next big diet trend that’s going to get us to our goal quicker.  The truth is there is no autobahn to make these things happen fast.  It takes time, eating real food, limiting processed sugars and gunk in the diet and incorporating fitness regularly.   That said, I’m always searching for ways to create foods that are healthy in concept and make them a reality.  One morning I was craving something with crushed ice.  So I grabbed a bottle of sparkling water.  

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I love sparkling water.  I gave up soda four years ago when I was losing weight.   In a blender, I added 3-4 fresh strawberries with my sparkling water, a handful of ice and sprinkles of mint.  Within just a few minutes, I had homemade strawberry lemonade. This is a nice twist on drinking plain water especially for those who struggle to get enough H20.  Tons of vitamin C too.   This isn’t fancy, but it is pretty awesome.  Sometimes the small things in life can bring a big bang.  Hope you enjoy! 

strawberry lemonade

 

Strawberry Lemonade
Serves 1
Strawberry Lemonade
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup (~4 large) strawberries
  2. 1 bottle of sparkling water
  3. juice of 1 lemon
  4. 4 mint leaves (optional)
  5. Handful of ice
Instructions
  1. In a blender, combine strawberries, sparkling water, lemon juice, mint and ice
  2. Cover and blend on low for 15 seconds
Notes
  1. 30 calories
The Skinny-Life http://theskinny-life.com/
What juices or lemonades do you buy?  Have you ever made your own?  What do you think about sparkling water as a soda replacement?  Any April Fool’s pranks to share?

Linking up with Erin at Table for Seven, Becky at Olives n Wine,  Anyonita Nibbles & Strange But Good
with Laura

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Should You Hire a Running Coach?

Hi all! I’m Lora and I blog over at Crazy Running Girl about my running adventures, as well as my fairly recent Texan life. A big thanks to Megan for the opportunity to guest post today!

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I have been running since I was in middle school and started running marathons in 2006. When I trained for my first marathon, I really had no idea what I was doing. I found a book on Amazon (4 Months to a 4 Hour Marathon) and followed the training plan… I finished in exactly four hours!
 
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{Twin Cities Marathon, 2006}

Since then, I’ve been hooked and over the years, I have learned a LOT about running. I even had the opportunity to get my running coach certification last summer from the Road Runners Club of America.

One of the questions that I get a lot from people is – should I hire a running coach?

I think hiring a running coach is an extremely personal decision and depends largely on your reasons behind it. That being said, here are some things to think about before taking the leap:

Why do you want a coach?  
 Everyone runs for different reasons. The reason why I get out of bed in the morning to go for a run may be completely different from why you grab your running shoes right after work.

Because of this, wanting a coach varies and its something you need to think through. If you want to hire a running coach so you can tell all of your friends that you have a coach, no, you should not hire a coach. If you want to hire a running coach because you really want to qualify for the Boston Marathon and you don’t know how to shave 20 minutes off your marathon time, then yes, you should hire a coach.

Will your coach be able to help you?

This is a very tough reality to think through. You need to think about your goals and if they are realistic. For me, setting a goal to break three hours in the marathon is super unrealistic. It is probably unrealistic for me to ever get below 20 minutes in a 5k.

It’s a great thing to DREAM BIG, but knowing your body’s limits will help you determine if you a) should hire a coach and b) how much they can realistically help you. At the same time, if you don’t know these limitations, a coach can help you find your way.

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{coming in at the finish at the Madison Marathon in 2009,
where I qualified for Boston by 12 seconds!}

 

How do you want to work with your coach?

There are certified running coaches located across the country (check the directory here). Some offer virtual services, others will give you one-on-one sessions where you live. As you search for a running coach, figure out how you want to work with them.

What style works for you? Do you want someone you can meet in person? Or do you prefer to communicate all via email? Taking this into consideration will help you set up for success with your coach.

When you work with a running coach, you will have a relationship with them like all other important people in your life. Because of this, it’s important to find a coach that fits with YOU. Some coaches are more progressive (think Hanson’s Marathon Method) while others are more old school (Daniels’ Running Formula). Knowing what helps you perform to your best ability will ensure that you can get the most out of your relationship with your coach.

 Have you worked with a coach in the past? What was your experience like?

Thanks to Lora for this awesome guest post!  Be sure to catch up with Lora over at Crazy Running Girl

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3/30/14 Sunday Funday

Good Morning from the Frozen Tundra and Packer Country!  I arrived Friday night to be with my Mom who had emergency heart surgery this week.  I’ve been surviving (barely) the brutal cold here.  The trick is to stay inside all day.  How is it seriously a few days from April and this cold?  It is supposed to be a high of 50 today and eveyone is grilling out and wearing shorts.  This is so funny to me!  The weather is one of the reasons why I moved out of the Midwest 12 years ago and now live in Arizona.  Flip flops, sunny days, gorgeous sunsets.  #lifeisgood #azismyhome   But Mom is worth suffering the arctic weather and helping her recover is all that matters right now.

Here are a few of my favorites this week.

Sentimental

Mom & Daughter Matching Coffee Mugs – My Mom keeps a coffee mug at my house in AZ (amongst a plethora of other things).  I even have a matching daughter one too.  We bought these at Gloria Jeans Coffee a few years ago.  We were having some problems sharing coffee mugs so we bought each other ones that clearly state who is who’s. 

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Technology

Apple’s Healthbook via 9TO5MAC - It’s no secret how much I love apple products.  I was stoked when I read they are FINALLY  debuting a fitness tracker to pair with their devices later this year.  Better late than never…

 

Food

No Bake Raspberry Granola Bars - OMG yum!  First time, making homemade granola bars.  I need to more of these in my life.

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Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter - This is my #2 nut butter (#1 is NuttZo).  I  also love their 80 calorie on-the-go packs.

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Arrowhead Sparkling Water - I picked up a case of the lemon essence flavor at Target last weekend and loved this.  The flavor wasn’t overbearing and the bubbles trick my brain & tummy into thinking I’m drinking soda.

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 Health

Why You Should Stop Drinking Diet Soda via Health.com - All soda is really BAD for you which is why I stopped drinking anything by soda water and fresca during my weight-loss

 

Fitness

14 Important Reasons to Exercise Regularly You Probably Don’t Know via Lifehack – Getting your sweat on really has a ton of benefits.  This article highlights 14, but there are a lot more!

 

Motivation 

10 Reasons Why Today Should be Your Someday via Lifehack - They read my mind or my blog with this article.  Never wait to start make your passion happen.  #getafterit

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Blast from the Past

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days - This movie has been replaying on Bravo all week.  It is one of my all time favorites.  I still laugh at all the funny stuff.

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What are you loving this week?  Any blasts from the past or sentimental things? 

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Life Happens

Sometimes life happens and your world is turned upside down. 

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It is with a heavy heart that I am telling you I’m on a plane heading to Wisconsin today.  My Mom had emergency heart surgery this week and as much as I hate cold weather, I need to be with her.

Earlier this week she had a few tests done.  After a series of strange results that doctors couldn’t diagnose, they decided to do an angiogram of her heart to investigate further.  An angiogram is an x-ray procedure in which dye is injected into a catheter through a vein in the leg.  The arteries of the heart can be viewed closer to diagnose problems.  It was at that time it was determined she needed bypass surgery.  

My family and I were shocked by this news.  My mother never had a heart attack.  In December, she had an odd chest pain which brought her to the ER.  Doctors were unable to determine the cause, but ruled out a heart attack as well as other  conditions.  The pain came on suddenly and left after a few hours.  They released her from the hospital and recommended she follow-up with her primary care physician.  My father and her then traveled to Arizona to celebrate the holidays with me. 

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Her PC authorized the travel and said they would do a series of tests upon her return to determine the cause of her sudden chest pain.  My Mom also suffers from RA (rheumatoid arthritis) an inflammatory disease where the body attacks its own cells affecting the joints in the body.  She is in constant pain with RA so it can be difficult to know at times if her pain is a result of RA or a symptom of something else. 

My Mom stayed with me in Arizona for 3 few months.  She was here longer than expected due to my foot injury, which I now feel tremendously guilty about.  Looking back, I wish I had insisted she return home sooner to have tests done despite my injury.  Should have, could have, would have…I can always look back and question my decisions but I have to believe things worked out as they were meant to be.

She returned to Wisconsin just 3 weeks ago and you would never have known something was wrong or that she was sick.  There was no indication of a problem.  The doctor said some people never have a heart attack and die suddenly.  It’s a silent killer.  Scary.  I’m convinced something bigger was watching over her.

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Her surgery went well and she is recovering in ICU now.  Her outlook is positive.   It will be several months of recovery and cardiac boot camp until she is herself again.  My Mom asked me not to travel to Wisconsin due to my foot injury, but I told her I was coming, it wasn’t a question.  I wanted to be there sooner, however, decided to wait until today so I could finish physical therapy this week.  And as much as I didn’t want to admit it to myself, I decided to travel in my boot today.  My foot is not strong enough yet to handle the walking required for travel.  My therapist encouraged me to continue biking, swimming and stretching while I’m out-of-town.  I’ve already contacted a fitness facility in Wisconsin and meeting with them this weekend.

The last two days have been the longest of my life.  My Mom is the most important person in my life and I’m not sure what I would do without her.  I haven’t slept or eaten much this week.  It’s hard when you’re family lives far away.  You feel isolated and helpless when things happen.  

Three weeks ago I was laying next to my Mom the night before she left telling her how much I was going to miss her.  It’s crazy how life can change so quickly.  Hold your loved ones close because you never know what tomorrow may bring.  

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I’m thankful I had my fitness to lean on.  Spinning has given me stress relief and swimming has relaxed me.  To be honest, I’m not sure what I would have done without my fitness.  So you see, being active and fit isn’t about losing weight or bulking up.  Fitness brings meaning to your life.  Gives you a connection to something and even brings you comfort when you least expect it.  Fitness is a way of life. 

 

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Friends, I sincerely hope you understand if my posts are short, sporadic or random these coming weeks.  I do have several guests who will be posting on my blog and I’m excited to see their amazing posts.  I’m also extremely grateful for their generosity.  If you are interested in guest posting, please contact me at theskinylife@gmail (dot) com.  I will gladly pay it forward.

Does your family live near or far from you?  What meaning does fitness have in your life?

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What Motivates Me to Stay Fit – I Am My Own Miracle

Lately  I’ve been talking a lot about my foot injury and recovery.  I realized I haven’t written anything yet about my previous injury. I told you here what motivated me to lose 80 pounds four years ago. I’m asked frequently what motivates me to continue being healthy and staying fit.  I can’t answer that without first telling you about my previous injury.  I will preface this by saying I don’t have any pictures of myself to share with you from this injury.  This was a dark time in my life, one that I wish never happened and everyday want to forget. 
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Fifteen years ago I suffered a femur fracture as a result of a stress fracture that led to the deterioration of my hip bone. The head of my hip bone suffered blood loss and as a result, partially died. I was referred to Mayo Clinic and professionals there told me I would not walk in 6 months and would need a hip replacement. They also told me to be prepared to live a sedentary life, potentially in a wheelchair, as hip replacements do not last a lifetime. They encouraged me to stay off my feet as much as possible as means to prolong hip replacement surgery. My prognosis was grim.  I was devastated.

At this time in my life I was senior in college, in my fall semester, involved in many school activities, had a great internship, was an avid runner and taught cardio kick boxing at the YMCA. For a few months, I had been experiencing a deep burning pain in my leg after I worked out. I had x-rays done, but nothing appeared. Days before my orthopedic appointment I was walking with friends late one Friday night when my leg suddenly snapped and I fell to the ground. I knew immediately it was broke. It was bad, I couldn’t walk.

We were crossing a busy intersection and my friend pulled me onto the sidewalk. I’m thankful he was there and reacted quickly. Within minutes, the ambulance arrived and rushed me to the ER. They took x-rays and confirmed the break. I needed surgery the next day to pin my leg. They gave me pain meds to sleep. I will forever remember my father sleeping next to me that night. I never saw him so worried.

When I woke from surgery, I couldn’t feel anything until they made me walk using a walker.  It was the most horrific pain of my life.  I had to walk to avoid blood clots every few hours.  When the nurses changed my dressing, I nearly passed out when I saw the staples up and down my leg. 

Picture of my scar today.  #mybattlescar

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The worst part was when the social worker came to talk to me about a wheelchair. I couldn’t talk to her. I wanted to die. I couldn’t imagine how I would ever overcome this or how I would ever feel like a normal person again.  I was in the hospital a week when they released me. Those first nights at home were horrible. I couldn’t sleep in my bed.  The pain was unbearable.  I could only sleep in a chair sitting up. 

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My Mom took leave from work to care for me. For weeks, I couldn’t do anything for myself – walk, shower, cook, drive, etc. Thankfully, my college was 10 minutes from my parents’ house. My Mom drove me to my classes. It was the middle of winter in Wisconsin and crutches on snow and ice was another challenge I faced. I had to be careful not to fall and re-injure myself.

I soon became depressed. I recognized I needed to make my life as normal as possible. Although there’s nothing like having your Mom care for you, I needed to feel like a college student and not an invalid. I moved back into my college house with my friends and they cared for me. It was the best decision I ever made.  I felt like a human again.

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Four months later, winter passed and I was released from crutches to do weight-bearing activities again. Walking was difficult for months. I hadn’t done it in so long. I estimate I lost half my quad muscle and strength in my leg. Looking back, I don’t understand why my doctor didn’t have me in physical therapy.  I should have been in PT. I wish I would have known then that I had the right to insist on it.

A year later, I requested the pins be surgically removed from my leg. They irritated me. Every time I walked it felt as if it was hitting a nerve. After surgery, I felt better and started increasing my fitness activity and running again. Soon thereafter, I noticed I could not do hip abductions. My hip was frozen. My doctor took x-rays which showed the damage to head of the hip bone and that’s how I ended up at Mayo Clinic where I received the terrible news.

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After Mayo, I stopped being active for 10 years. After all, the doctors told me to stay inactive to prolong what little bone tissue I had left. I lived my life in fear of being wheel chair ridden. I gained weight and lost self-confidence. Then 4 years ago while working in California I went to the beach one night and decided I wasn’t going to live in fear anymore and I started to walk every night. That’s when my weight-loss journey began.

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Today my x-rays show bone re-growth. I also have increased flexation in my hip and can do hip abductors. Doctors are unable to explain how I overcame the odds nor do they know if I will need a hip replacement in the future. It could be that the weight-loss removed pressure from the bone, that the increase in my fitness activity promoted my body to self-heal or it could be a miracle. I say it’s all of those things.  When people ask me what motivates me to stay fit and healthy, my response to them is “me.” I am my own motivation. I am my own miracle. My only regret is I didn’t have the courage to do this for myself sooner. But we can’t look back, only forward.

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Every day I look forward and when I don’t feel like crawling out of bed for a 5am run or spin class, I remind myself how far I’ve come and that I’m my own miracle.   No one can be your hero better than yourself.  You can be your own miracle too. 

 

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No question just your thoughts.

I was contacted by Community Causes to participate in their “who keeps you healthy” campaign to raise hip replacement awareness this month.  You can also find them on facebook and twitter.

The facts in this article are all my own and meant to share with others my personal experience with injury and weight-loss. 

Linking up with Amanada @ Running with Spoons for her Thinking Out Loud series.

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WIAW…My 1st Nut Butter & Oatmeal

Happy Wednesday!  I’m linking up with Peas & Crayons today for What I Ate Wednesday.

                                                  

Before I talk food, I have a few things to share this morning. 

Something amazing happened yesterday.  I had a rest day!  The first since my  foot injury.  My achillis was bothering me Monday night and I decided I needed a day off to rest things.  I workout daily (disclaimer – this is not recommended for you) so this was a big thing for me.  I love to workout and it’s the only time I have for myself everyday.  Working out relaxes me.  I switch between light and intense workouts each day which is my justification to doing it.  I’m not the type of person who can just do nothing and lounge around for a day.  I will take a walk or swim on a lower intensity day to remain active.  I’m hoping the day off will relax my achillis and promote my foot recovery.

I also have a new friend.  Last week I came home from work one night to find a tiny dog lounging on my front doormat.  He acted like he owned the place or something. When I approached him, he even had the audacity to bark at me.  He took off after I got after him with a broom.  I say he’s a stray because he has no collar and I’ve seen him wandering the last couple weeks in a field not far from my house. 

If you know me, you know I don’t love dogs.  My whole life I’ve been bitten or attacked by dogs.  Last year while walking in my neighborhood, I turned a street corner and my neighbor’s dog (who was 3x the size as her) jumped at me and shoved me to the ground.  Instead of apologizing for her dog attacking me or asking me if I was ok she said “you need to share the road.” Um…excuse me?  So yeah, me and dogs…we don’t get along.  This stray dog, however, keeps coming back to my house.  I’m not sure what to do about my new friend, but I’m not up for adopting a dog.  Any takers?

Now for food.  This is what I ate last weekend since it was much more exciting than anything I’ve been eating the last few days.  This week has been crazy with meetings and deadlines.  Thank goodness for leftovers and meal prepping.

Breakfast - Instant oatmeal with blueberries, strawberries and a healthy dollop of NuttZo crunchy 7 nut and seed butter.  This is the best thing I’ve ever done EVER.  Why have I never mixed nut butter in my oatmeal before?  This was ridiculously good! There was a lot of coffee with breakfast too like 3 cups which for me, is a lot. 

NuttZo is THE BEST nut butter I have ever had and I have tried them all.  No joke.  This one has cashews, almonds, brazilian nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds.  I love that it has no peanuts or added sugars or oils.  It’s all nuts and nothing more.  Kind of like me!   #gonuttzo


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Detox Water for a pre-workout hydration.  

Lemon Cucumber Mint Water

 

Lunch – Asian chicken salad at Wildflower Bread Company.  Salad was calling me after a sweaty workout.  This had grilled chicken, jicama, cucumber, carrots, rice noodles, sesame seeds, sliced almonds, red and green cabbage served on a bed of mixed lettuce.  I asked for the Thai peanut dressing on the side.  It came with two heaping sides of their homemade sourdough bread, which was delicious dipped in the peanut sauce.  The salad was a beast!  I ate half and took the rest home.  It was delicious and hit the spot!  

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Along with #mybeastofasalad, I had my usual green tea and this sparkling water flavored with lemon.  Soda water is one of my favorite drinks.  I’m convinced the bubbles helped me stop drinking diet soda a few years ago.  I’m obsessed with eating lemons.  This combo was meant for me.  

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I managed to breeze by this case of goodies without falling victim to its sweetness.  Willpower at it’s finest.  :)

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Snack – one of my homemade raspberry almond bars.  Yum!    

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Dinner – Cauliflower Pizza Bowl.   I know this sounds strange & weird.  I’m loving cauliflower like crazy lately.  It’s so versatile. I’ve been testing it in several recipes like this pizza bowl and this one at Thanksgiving.   I made pizza dough from cauliflower.  It was ridiculously easy and delicious.  I topped mine with garlic, fresh mushrooms, artichoke hearts and red peppers.  Too bad my photography doesn’t demonstrate how yum this was.

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Desert – Healthy Choice Greek frozen yogurt sprinkled with granola.  This is a good substitute for fro-yo.

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What do you eat your nut butter with?  What strange things have you made with cauliflower?  Do you have a dog?  What do you about a dog that thinks he lives at your house?

If anyone is interested in guest posting for me, please contact me at theskinylife@gmail.com.  I have a family matter that requires my immediate attention. 

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