Self Version 4.0 (2017)

by Angela on January 3, 2017

I saw this the other day and it came at a very fitting time for me:

Version self

I do believe, at the core, we will always be the same person we were raised to be, but over time the version of ourselves changes. Maybe our version changes because of our experiences, interactions, education or just time. But I’m clearly a different version of myself now in my 40s than I was in my 20s (thankfully!). That cliche of being older and wiser is definitely true. As I go through different experiences and learn things about myself and the world around me, I get an upgrade. I’d like to think these upgrades make me a better person, older and wiser. I definitely feel like a better person with each upgrade.

Sometimes our version changes because we are outdated.  And when a part of the whole becomes so outdated, it may even need to be replaced (hips, teeth, breasts :-)) or removed (weight, wrinkles, age spots). But much like a computer, the longer we put off fixing our outdated parts, the harder it is for our body as a whole to operate well and efficiently. And the “software” that depends on our ability to support it will suffer when we put off these updates.  It is hard to be a good healthy vehicle for our precious software if we don’t take care of all our parts.  

So for 2017 I am submitting my help desk ticket for an upgrade. Thankfully I don’t need any parts replaced yet (that I know of!), but I need to work on some upgrades. I got a little lazy at the end of 2016 and found I wasn’t able to be the best I could be for those who depend on me. So while I’m still and always will be the same person at my core, for 2017 I’ll be working on a new and improved version of myself. 

Prepare for upgrade installation….

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Meat Free Monday – Parmesan Squash Crisps

by Deena on August 8, 2016

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Every year my youngest son and his grandmother plant a vegetable garden in our backyard.  She lets him decide what kind of vegetables he wants to grow.  Then they will spend a morning digging holes and planting seeds.  She doesn’t live locally, so he and I will weed the garden and pick the vegetables as they ripen.

This year the two of them planted lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, bell and jalapeno peppers, carrots and cucumbers (or so I thought).  

In heading out one morning to pick a cucumber for a salad – I realized that those weren’t cucumbers growing on the vine… but squash. I don’t know why but when I think of squash I think of fall casseroles or soups – neither of which appealed to me on a hot summer day.  So I made these crisps in the oven instead.  They were easy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 squash
  • olive oil spray
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • oregano
  • garlic powder
  • salt & pepper

Recipe:

  • Preheat the oven to 450′
  • Thinly slice squash – (I used a mandolin)

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  • Spray baking sheet with olive oil spray (or Pam)
  • Spread sliced squash in a single layer on the baking pan

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  • Spray squash with olive oil spray
  • Sprinkle Parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper on squash

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  • Bake for 10 minutes flip squash slices over
  • sprinkle top with Parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper
  • Bake for 8 – 10 minutes (keep checking as timing depends on slice thickness)

Note – My one medium size squash made about a 1 1/2 cups of crisps.

 

 

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half-marathon training Day 3-7

by Deena on August 6, 2016

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Day 3:

The training plan called for 30 minutes of cross-training.  My legs were still sore from the barre class and impromptu hike I did on Day 2 so I decided to work my upper body instead of doing any serious cardio.  I used the Beachbody Upper Fix DVD I had on hand.  (Mostly because left to my own accord I’d waste time thinking about what arm exercise to do next.)

The Upper Fix works the upper body, including arms, chest, shoulders and abs.   I used 6 pound weights for all of the exercises.   There are five different exercises  done for two rounds with a 20 second rest period in between. The exercises include push-ups, rows, twists, planks and presses, etc…

Day 4:

This days workout almost didn’t happen. The training plan called for a 2 mile run or 30 minutes of cross-training.

I keep my brother’s four kids plus my two kids on Thursdays ~ so the day was full of kid activities.  Outside in the heat.  Ages ranging from 1 -14 years old.  I was exhausted by the time they were picked up.  Truth be told I didn’t want to run – so I sat down and had a glass of wine.  But the guilt of telling my friend I didn’t run got the best of me – so out the door I went… (it’s good to have an accountability buddy for this exact reason!).   I got a 5K nature trail in that evening.  It wasn’t pretty but I finished.

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Blurry action shots #proof 🙂

Day 5:

Was a Rest Day according to my training plan… but my back and legs were achy so I decided to take a Pilates mat class.  Best idea I had all week!  I left the place feeling like all my sore muscles had been lengthened and stretched.

Day 6:

2 mile run.  Decided to try and beat the heat by just running on the treadmill.   I was still a hot mess once I finished.  Kept the pace at a 10 minute mile – nothing crazy.  My goal is to not injure my knee.  So far so good.

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Day 7:

Is tomorrow and it’s a Rest Day.  I will probably do a Yoga DVD just to stretch out any tight muscles.

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half-marathon training – Day 2

by Deena on August 3, 2016

30 minutes of Strength Training and Stretch was the workout plan for today.

I decided to change things up a little by taking a Barre class at one of our local exercise studios.   Barre is a low impact workout combining ballet, weights and Pilates.  The goal is lengthen muscles and increase flexibility.  The class started with 100 walking lunges and ended with me using a foam roller to help to massage sore leg muscles.  The core of the class was held at the barre – holding isometric movements to the point of fatiguing various muscle groups.

I actually think this class is a perfect addition to running.  There is no bouncing or jumping (to jar my knee) and I was drenched in sweat by the end.  There were various ages and body types in the class.  Everyone  completed the exercise movements to the best of their ability.  There was no judgement just encouragement… everyone was too busy watching their own legs shake from effort.

I forgot to take a post-workout photo.  But here is a photo of the toe socks I wore – gotta love a workout where you don’t have to wear shoes.  Some women in class were barefoot – I just like having a little bit of grip (I’m clumsy).

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I also got in an impromptu 2.5 mile hike in the afternoon.  I was researching new locations for a charity 5K event for this fall.  So, I convinced my dad to hike a wooded trail with me to see if the location would work.  Loved the location… though I could have done without the sweltering heat.  Here’s a image from our hike.  Beautiful right?

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Here I go again…

by Deena on August 2, 2016

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I truly have a love/hate relationship with running.

I love the idea of running.  A cool breeze blowing my hair back as I place one foot in front of the other.  The freedom of taking a narrow path to well anywhere… The sense of accomplishment after finishing a hard run.

The reality is much different.

The reality is I become a hot sweaty red-faced mess two steps into my run no matter what the temperature outside reads.  That I’m never completely at peace on my run because well the “boogey-man“.   And that sense of accomplishment when finishing a run is usually followed by a collapse into the nearest chair while I probe at my “wonky knee” to determine if I’ve pushed it to hard to run again in the near future.

But…. here I go again.

I’m training for my next half-marathon.   The race isn’t until January so I have plenty of time to focus on mileage.  I recruited a friend to train with me.. granted she’s not local so we won’t be running together during training we’ll just keeping each other motivated and accountable.  And lastly I found a training plan that I think will accommodate my knee flare ups (only running two or three days a week).  The plan is a 16 week training program – yes that means I’ll be way ahead in training for my January half-marathon by the time the 16 weeks are up.  I’m sure there will be hiccups along the way.

Sooo….

Why don’t you join me in training?  It doesn’t have to be a half-marathon.   A 5K  has a nice ring to it also.  Don’t want to run?  Walk.  Hike.  Kayak.   Anything that gets you out of your comfort zone.  Set a goal and stick with it.  Just think… by the time the new year rolls around you won’t have to make that same ‘ole resolution to start exercising.  It’ll already be imprinted.  You’ll get to pick something new for a resolution like … traveling more.

This website was founded on Angela and my beliefs of taking conscientious steps towards making small healthy lifestyle changes.  I’m taking the steps to document the ups and downs in  my journey in the hopes that those of you that need a little inspiration to get started… start.

Day #1 workout: Run 2 miles & 20-30 mins of Strength Training/Stretching:

Ran on the treadmill since it was 90+ degrees outside and a million plus humidity.  Running inside didn’t help.  I was beat-red, sweaty and  glaring at the timer by the time one minute had passed.  Only upside was the 80’s music blaring in the room.

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Completed Pilates (DVD) workout for strength and stretching.  Let’s not pretend that I haven’t been doing this DVD on and off for a year.  When I started using this DVD last year – I could only hold a plank if I was on my knees.

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Tomorrow’s (Day #2) workout will be 30 minutes Strength Training and Stretching

 

 

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What’s in your pill box?

by Angela on July 6, 2016

Who takes vitamins every day?  I go through phases.  For about 10 years, I took a daily birth control pill.  That was easy.  It was small and I could take it without water. It kept my periods predictable and, well, kept me from getting pregnant!  For 6 years I took a daily breast cancer preventative pill.  That was easy because it was small but the impact was BIG. It was saving my life. But vitamins and supplements…not so easy for me to take.  The pills are big, which I hate, and I just don’t feel committed to them. There’s no instant gratification.  That’s a big culprit in my lack of motivation. I don’t have the patience to wait for results so I give up. But I dusted off an old pill box and I’m making an effort to fill it every week with the following:

Women’s One-A-Day:  I figure this is a general, all-in-one daily vitamin.

Caltrate with vitamin D: I’ve historically been low in vitamin D, as is a lot of the US population. But for some reason my oncologist was really concerned with this and at one point put me on high dose vitamin D. Caltrate was something she suggested as a maintenance vitamin. So I figure I’ll try to keep up with it so my vitamin D levels don’t drop again. Plus I need the calcium so I don’t get osteoporosis, right?

Vitamin C: I did go through one winter taking vitamin C pretty regularly, and I felt like it really kept up my immunity and I didn’t get sick much that winter.  So I’ll continue to take that daily so I don’t get sick. I ain’t got time for that.

Fish Oil: I’ve been reading many, many benefits of adding a fish oil supplement and my husband just so happened to have some, so I’ve added that to my daily pill organizer. It seems to help with everything from cancer prevention to joint pain to skin care and stress.

Hair, Skin and Nails: This is something new I purchased recently, definitely for my peeling nails, but more for my skin. Some background…when I came off Tamoxifen, an estrogen blocker because I had estrogen positive breast cancer, my hormones went haywire. I put on about 20 pounds (I used that excuse for about a year then decided it was probably time I faced the truth), my periods became extremely heavy and long, and I developed melasma (dark skin pigmentation) which I didn’t realize at the time was hormonal. I was treating the melasma as a giant freckle on both sides of my face and purchased prescription skin bleachers. I used this stuff religiously and used sunscreen like I’ve never used sunscreen before.  But through the long, cold winter, I noticed minimal difference in the discoloration. Not to mention I’m trying to reduce chemicals in my life, not add to them. The more I researched melasma, the more I learned that it was more hormonal and many had success treating from the inside out. So, introduce the Hair, Skin and Nails supplement.  No clue if this will do the trick, but I figure it can’t hurt, plus it’s a gummy vitamin!  Talk about EASY to take. 🙂

So that’s what’s in my pill box.  What’s in yours?

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Getting Healthy…Again

by Angela on July 4, 2016

I’m making a commitment to document again. I don’t say “write” because I’m not a writer. But I haven’t documented in a while because I keep discouraging myself. So this documentation is for me. It’s my motivator to get healthy.

I stopped posting things on this blog because it made me feel insufficient and incompetent. I’d post about something I was starting to do, or planned on doing, and I’d never follow through. I became a person of words but no actions, and it was making me feel a bit like a failure and a poser. So I stopped posting…a LONG time ago. But I’m going to try and use this blog to motivate me to follow through with things. Hopefully it works!

I need motivation, not just for my physical health, but my mental health as well. Overall health isn’t just about exercise and eating right. It’s taking care of the body and the mind. I lost focus on both of those things:

Physical health – I stopped exercising. I kept making up excuses and not finding the time. Last summer I didn’t want to take time for myself while the kids were home from school but then school started and I had to catch up on work that was neglected over the summer. Then the holidays came and it got cold and snowy and I never wanted to go out. Then spring came and I was busy with the kids or keeping up with work. Then end of school activities took up my time followed by vacation, and here I am a year later in a downward spiral. Excuses. I have no energy to get moving, but I won’t increase my energy unless I start pushing myself to exercise. It’s a vicious cycle.

I also stopped eating right.  Spring 2015 I started this protein diet that my husband was following. It seemed counter-productive because I was eating ALL the time. But I was eating RIGHT and it worked!  I was getting in shape again, building muscle and increasing my energy. But then I stopped. I gave myself permission to fall off the diet during vacation, and I never started back up again. I don’t eat horribly, but I definitely have cheat meals, cheat snacks and cheat days, a lot more than I should. We recently got back from a Disney vacation where I ate Mickey ice cream bars every day, and had a soda with almost every meal. Even my son asked, “why are drinking soda all the time lately?”  Busted.

Mental health – I don’t feel peaceful. I don’t know how else to describe it.  I feel overwhelmed with things to do. I have my bookkeeping business and help run a charity organization, on top of my priority job of stay-at-home mom. My house feels cluttered and disorganized and just not the peaceful abode I’d like. A friend’s dad said you should spend a certain percentage of your home value on home improvements every year. I’m pretty sure that percentage is not 0.001%, which is about what we have spent per year in the 13 years we’ve lived in the house. I feel like I need to get my life in order, and a simple start would be tackling some home improvement projects. Of course just thinking about where to begin is stressful in and of itself. Every single room in our house needs something fixed or updated.

But here I go. I’ll try to document this roller coaster of real life health ups and downs. Hopefully I don’t give up again.  Off to the gym….wish me luck!

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Wait, where did 2015 go?

by Angela on January 1, 2016

I blinked my eyes and 2015 was gone.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m a mom trying to hold on to my kids’ childhoods or because I’m just so busy that the days slip by so fast, but either way another year has gone by.

I was actually surprised my blog editor still worked. It’s been almost a year since Deena and I have written anything, yet we won’t let go of the domain. We must be keeping it around for something.  Since we’re not using it for anything in particular right now, I’m going to use it as a journal of some sorts. Not sure what I will be journaling or how often, as I am NOT making any New Year’s resolutions, but I could just write about whatever comes to mind, who knows.  So why no new year’s resolutions, you ask?  Because they don’t work for me.  I set myself up for failure EVERY YEAR.

So instead, let me reflect on 2015.

Early 2015 my dad was in the hospital (hey, I didn’t say I was reflecting on all things positive!). It was a rude awakening for me. One, that my parents are getting older and my time with them could come to an end sooner than I’d like to imagine. And two, that life is just SHORT. I’ve had this realization a few times in my life, obviously, as most of us have.  But it was just another reminder. My dad is well, by the way, and I’m expecting many, MANY more years with them, but I will count every day as a blessing.

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In February my brother and sister-in-law had their second baby. If there’s one thing that makes you reflect on life, it’s the creation of NEW life. Gosh how I miss that time in our lives when we had newborns and there was so much emotion, change, love, happiness and fear all at once. The love, hopes and dreams you have for this new, little human being that you created is so great that you feel like you could burst. So to experience it once again with my brother and sister-in-law was such a blessing. I never thought I could love other kids as much as I love my own, but nieces and nephews pretty much squash that whole thought for me. Which is why there’s definitely an emptiness felt with my brother’s family living so far away.  You reading this, little brother?!  😉

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In May, my youngest (2nd grader) made his First Communion. I’ve had many powerful religious experiences in my life, but for some reason my kids’ First Communions really just left me in awe of everything….God, my children and even myself. I was his religious education teacher this past year and it was probably one of the best volunteer positions I have held in my life. Now I know why teachers do what they do. I had 1.5 hours a week with these kids, hardly the time a full-time teacher gets with a group of kids, but this 1.5 hours a week was so rewarding.  To think that I was given the opportunity to impart some sort of knowledge on this young group of sponges truly gave me so much pride in myself and my class. Don’t get me wrong, it was NOT easy. I respected teachers before, but now?  Whoa, they deserve so much more recognition and thanks than they get. When I had a desk job, if I was having an off day, I could hole up in my office and keep my interaction with people to a minimum. But when you are on the job as a teacher, there is no holing up.  You are ON all the time.  It’s exhausting. Rewarding, but exhausting. Kudos to all teachers out there!

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There are many highlights of 2015…my charity organization, The Step Sisters, continues to do great things for local breast cancer patients and we had 3 successful events, once again. Our kids excelled at school and sports. I celebrated 7 years of breast cancer survivorship. But the events that stand out every year, consistently, are just times spent with friends and family. From my annual girls’ weekend in the spring with my long time high school friends, to beach vacations and holidays and just every day life with family, the consistent theme of happiness in my life revolves around the love I have for others and the love they have for me. My friends and especially my family, are who drive me to be a better person, to live a better life. When things aren’t great, we lift each other up, when things are great, we celebrate together. In the end, they are who matters most to me.

May 2016 fill you with the love and support of family and friends and may you help each other be better people and live better lives. In the end, that’s what most New Year’s resolutions are pretty much about, doing better and being better.

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More Mason Jar Salads

by admin on February 9, 2015

Wow, I really fell off the bandwagon. I was all gung-ho about training for this 10-miler, then snow days (or non-snow days in our case) happened, work got busy, just excuse after excuse. And here we are less than 3 months away from this possible 10-miler and I just have to admit, I am not going to be ready. So when my race training motivator suggested something shorter and maybe even later in the year, I didn’t hesitate to agree. If training for a race becomes too stressful for me, then it’s not worth it in my opinion. 

So I’m restarting….again. Not just with exercise, but with my eating habits as well.

You know when you’re watching your weight, and you start to creep up, pound by pound? You may start at 1X5 lbs, then you creep up to 1X6. You may even get up to 1X9 and STILL be okay with it. But then the day comes when you step on the scale and 1X9 becomes 1(X+1)0, you know what I mean? 119 becomes 120, or 129 becomes 130, or 139 becomes 140…you get the picture? Well that happened to me the other day and it was like a punch in the gut. How could I have let the pounds pile on like that?! I guess working out only a couple times a week and not watching what I eat really did effect me. There was a time when it wouldn’t, but ever since I turned 40, it hasn’t been as easy.

My friend of Kelly Nelson Photography recently mentioned starting to track her diet and exercise with the MyFItnessPal app. When I read her blog post, that app rang a very faint bell with me. When I looked through my previously downloaded apps, there it was! It was a little dusty and cobwebbed, but I put it back on my phone. I don’t know if I’ll keep up with it, but I’m going to give it a try. At least forcing myself to record what I eat will give me some sort of accountability, as long as I remain honest with myself!

And one of the diet changes I am re-implementing is the mason jar salad. Why does this work for me? Because it’s pre-made and sitting in my fridge staring at me, for one. 

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When I open the fridge to figure out what I’m eating for lunch, it’s so easy to pull out this jar, dump its contents in a bowl, pour on a little dressing, and eat while I work. But the key for me is finding a mix I like. And anything that starts with something like this:

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is sure to be good!

 

Mixed Berries Antioxidant Salad

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If you want to add dressing to the jar, just add that as the bottom layer. I used a little balsamic vinegar on this salad and it was the perfect addition. You could also change it up with a different type of seed, chia seed or pumpkin seed, for example.

 

And another I tried and liked:

 

Waldorf Salad in a Jar

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This one I didn’t like as much as the mixed berries salad but I think it was because of the dressing I used. Typical waldorf salad dressing calls for sugar, but I was trying to find one without it and didn’t like the recipe I used. Next time I may use the typical recipe but substitute the sugar with honey or something. But the base of this salad was a good, crunchy combo and I will definitely be adding this to my fridge.

The weekdays are always packed with work and errands, so having something quick on hand just makes life easier. And success at eating healthy I believe has a lot to do with prepping and planning. The mason jars help keep the salad fresh for up to a week so you can make enough at the beginning of the week to have a daily salad waiting for you every time you open the fridge if you like! 

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Flourless Pancakes

by Angela on February 6, 2015

I have to admit, I was skeptical. This recipe came up on my Pinterest feed as “3-ingredient pancakes” and it showed a picture of a banana, 2 eggs and baking powder. Hardly the necessary ingredients to make the delicious, fluffy pancakes I make my kids almost every weekend. But I decided to give it a shot. I looked up a few more similar recipes and noticed some that substituted the baking powder with almond flour or coconut flour, or omitted it all together, but I wanted it to be allergy-friendly for my boys in case I decided to spring these on them one day. So here’s what I used:

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The cinnamon and vanilla gave it more of the breakfast pastry flavor that I like, but they can be omitted.

The first batch wasn’t pretty. These things don’t flip very well because they are very delicate. But I tried again the next day and I got the hang of it.

 

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The banana and 2 eggs made a pretty decent stack and could easily be split between 2 people, but I poured on some maple syrup and ate the whole thing myself (all for the benefit of the blog, of course). I would compare the flavor to a thick crepe or french toast bake. And the best part, it was super easy! I plan to try some variations on this recipe as I always have bananas and eggs on hand. Yum!!

 

Flourless Pancakes

Serves 1-2

Ingredients:

1 ripe banana

2 eggs

1 tsp baking powder (or almond flour or coconut flour, or omit all together)

sprinkle of cinnamon

dash of vanilla

 

Mash banana in a bowl and mix in remaining ingredients. Cook on griddle or stovetop. Serve with maple syrup.

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