Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Chocolate milk... sugary treat or recovery drink?

Chocolate milk.  I have been hearing for the better part of a year that chocolate milk is a "perfect" recovery drink.  After hearing people like Jamie Oliver talk about the evils of flavored milk, I know I found this to be confusing.  Are we saying chocolate milk, the sugary twin of regular milk, is good now?  What is this new world I live in where chocolate milk and whole eggs are now nutritious?  Who can sort this out for me?

I was listening to a Jillian Michaels' podcast this morning on my commute, and she was totally trashing chocolate milk.  In her opinion, the "chocolate milk as a recovery drink" movement was concocted by the dairy industry, and is complete bull.  What struck me is that she was ripping it a new one without a second thought.  This made me realize: I've been assuming it's crap without really doing any research into it. 

Here's what Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, has to say about three reasons why chocolate milk is special:
#1. Its ideal 3 to 1 ratio of carbohydrate grams to protein grams, which appears to enhance glycogen replenishment into the muscles post workout. Regular milk has a carb to protein ratio of about 2 to 1.

#2. It contains whey protein, which is digested and absorbed quickly, getting essential amino acids circulating in the blood stream soon after consumption. Whey protein is thought to enhance the building and repair of muscle. Twenty percent of the protein in milk is whey protein.

#3. It also contains the protein casein, which is digested and absorbed more slowly than whey protein and sustains amino acids in the circulation many hours after consumption. Casein is thought to reduce the amount of muscle breakdown. (Magee, 8/17/11, Chocolate Milk vs Recovery Drinks: Which One Comes Out On Top?, http://blogs.webmd.com/healthy-recipe-doctor/2011/08/chocolate-milk-vs-recovery-drinks-which-one-comes-out-on-top.html)
 So, I can see how chocolate milk might have a post-workout benefit.  But is chocolate milk right for everyone?  I personally like to have have a handful of almonds and some coconut water, because I don't eat refined sugar and coconut water is great for replacing electrolytes.  (Another favorite post-workout snack is a cup of greek yogurt with some crushed walnuts, pomegranate seeds, and a drizzle of honey... yum!!).  In my own opinion, chocolate milk might be best suited for those who just completed a really vigorous workout and need to supplement without putting a bunch of food in their stomach.  If you just ran a marathon, you're probably not ready to chow down solid food immediatley after.  But you'll need to replace some energy (calories), and also start repairing muscle.  So perhaps a bottle of chocolate milk will aid in doing that. 

If you just went to the gym, did a half hour on the eliptical, and lifted some weights, I'd probably suggest going with a more substantial snack post-workout.  I'm not saying you didn't go to the gym and do work; but chance are good that you a) didn't burn 3,000 calories, and b) are going to be hungry soon after your workout.  Know that an 8 oz serving of low-fat chocolate milk has roughly 190 calories; you don't want to undo a good workout with just a beverage.  Plan ahead for a post-workout snack that will fuel you, fill you, and try to eat it within an hour of working out (when the muscles absorb the most nutrients and energy is replaced most efficently).  Yes- you should eat something after you work out, even if you're trying to lose weight.  Refeuling is part of training.

All of that said, if you choose chocolate milk, be wary of what you are buying.  This is not permission to drink a bottle of Nesquik after your workout.  Opt for 8 ounces of low-fat, organic, chocolate milk to avoid hormones and antibitotics, as well as any other garbage many chocolate milks have.  And remember, not everyone agrees with the idea that chocolate milk is a recovery drink.  "Chocolate Milk as a Post-Exercise Recovery Aid" (http://oakbrooksc.com/docs/stager_chocmilk_study.pdf) is probably the first study you'll see if you Google this topic, and the nine men (what, no women?) followed in this study were all elite (ie high-performance) cyclists.  Also, some say that this study was funded by the Dairy Council.  So, choose what's best for you and your training, but know that chocolate milk is probably not best for everybody. 

Oh- and more on why whole eggs actually ARE amazing another time.  Until later...

6 post-workout snacks from Fitness magazine.
Trainers reveal some of their favorite post-workout snacks in Shape magazine.
Post-workout snack ideas for vegans!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Getting back my inspiration

There was a time in my life when I ran purely for the feeling of accomplishment.

With Kenny and Kimmy for our first 5k in 2002.  
I'm not sure if I've talked about it before, but at the age of 22 I ran my very first 5k with two good friends of mine.  It was my last semester of college, and my friend Kenny and I spent a lot (a LOT) of hours in the gym.  I'm not sure why. I honestly don't remember what possessed us to wake up one morning and say, "You know what would be awesome?  If we spent, like, two hours a day in the gym.  Let's make sure we follow it up with 15 minutes in the tanner while we're at it.  Check out this tattoo of a Playboy bunny I've been marking into my hip with this sticker!"  (But seriously.  I did that?  Who was I?)  The point is, we were young, bored with our last semester of college, and once we started getting in shape, it was like something took over and we were just obsessed.

This workout obsession culminated into the idea that we'd run a 5k.  It seemed like a huge undertaking, this 5k.  Like, "HOW IN THE WORLD ARE WE GOING TO RUN THREE MILES???"  But we got there, we did what we needed to do, we finished.  We didn't time ourselves; we didn't even wear the timing chips.  We didn't over-think how fast we were or were not going.  We struggled up the hills, but we made it up them, and were proud.  We didn't beat ourselves up that "we could have done better" or "got beat by a six-year-old".  No; we finished, we smiled, we high-fived, and I called my mom excitedly to shout that I DID IT.  I ran a 5k.

Fast-forward ten years and I am still running, with more goals and more obsessing.  Only now, it seems like I have been running less and less for the accomplishment, and more and more because I want to beat someone or PR or get a medal.  Medals are great.  Beating the other girls in my age group is great.  Beating my fastest time is great.  But that feeling I had when I finished that 5k and couldn't believe what I had done?  That was top.  I have been missing that feeling.

Two weekends ago I did a half-marathon called the Park 2 Park, in Holland.  I tried not to psyche myself out about the lack of work I had done to prepare for it.  I went into it with an open-mind and a solid plan following the Galloway method (I should do a post on that running method sometime): I would run for four minutes, followed by a minute of walking, and repeat, repeat, repeat.

A storm brewing; September 2012
It started out a gorgeous morning; cool temps, sunny skies.  I ran the first four or five miles with my old 5k buddy, Kenny; he started me on this new Galloway path, as he has been using it to train for his first marathon.  After those first miles,  I sent him on his way (I knew he had his sights set on a PR) and continued on my own.  Mile six/seven brought us to the shores of Lake Michigan.  Trouble was on its way inland; dark skies that looked to be carrying more than rain were closing in.

By mile eight, there were some thunder rumbles and a few lightening flashes.  I heard a rumor that the race was called, but no one around me seemed to be stopping... so I kept on going.  Mile nine, the lightening seemed to have subsided for the moment; but there was torrential rain.  Hey!  Rain!  It felt good!  I kept going!

A police cruiser edged slowly down the road, announcing that the race was cancelled, there were shuttles available.  Still- me and everyone around me kept trudging towards the finish.

Mile ten.  I got a text from a friend, asking if she needed to come pick me up.  I texted her back and said, "Not stopping til they make me".  I kept going.

Mile eleven.  I felt a sharp sting on my arms.  Hail.  Lots of hail.  I put my jacket back on.  I kept going.

Mile twelve.  My knee began hurting badly, probably because I had abandoned Galloway at mile eight with the lightening, so that I could get back to base camp quicker.  I found another girl struggling through the rain, hail, the sideways wind.  We started talking about her kids.  We kept the conversation going through the last mile, chatting as though we weren't running through ridiculous conditions.  It kept my mind off the ache in my knee.  We just kept going.

When I reached the finish chute, there were no timing mats.  They were winding up the pennant strings lining the finish.  It was just people standing in the rain, shouting to keep going, just finish.  As I crossed where the mats had previously been and got my bottle of water, I felt... awesome. I felt like I had started something and refused to quit until I finished it.  I didn't care about my time or anything besides feeling like I had just done something amazing.

I think I really needed that renewal of spirit.  It's been a long and trying summer, between getting married (oh hey, I got married!) and scaling way back on the races.  Some of the scaling back was because of money and trying to save it; but some of that was just fear.  Fear that I would be beaten, fear that I couldn't do it.  So this win against the elements felt big to me.  That storm woke me up, it showed me I can still do this.

And maybe our biggest accomplishments are not in being the fastest or the best, but in doing the best we can with what we're given.  Don't ever shortchange yourself into thinking you can't do something, whether it's running a 5k or running a marathon or simply running a mile.  Every step counts.  You just have to make them.
me and my new husband at the Park 2 Park in 2012

“Accomplish but do not boast, accomplish without show, accomplish without arrogance, accomplish without grabbing, accomplish without forcing.” 
― Lao Tzu

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Adventures at the farmer's market...

Man, I just love the farmer's market here in Kalamazoo.

So many people selling so much delicious, locally grown produce, much of it on the cheap.  I love wandering through the aisles, seeing what everyone has to offer, running into friends, and leaving with a bag stuffed full of goods.

Today I took $20 to the farmer's market and left with:

  • A giant bag of lettuce (after I cut up one bunch, I realized I really didn't need to buy two bunches... let's just say, I'll be eating a lot of salad this week.)
  • A giant bag of cherry tomatoes
  • A bag of six delicious and huge pretzel rolls
  • A small bag of dog treats
  • An avocado
  • A huge basket of strawberries
  • A sweet onion
  • Three sweet potatoes
  • A large zucchini
  • A bunch of asparagus
And everything smells so good, and the strawberries are so ripe and juicy.... YUM.  After my trip to the farmer's market, I hit up my favorite butcher shop, V & V Quality Meats.  If you have never bought from them before (they're on Sprinkle, a little north of exit 80), I can tell you their meat is awesome.  Chances are good you will spend less than you would have at Meijer, and they have locally sourced meat.  (Not to mention it's delicious.)  Today I spent about $23 and got:

  • Two big t-bone steaks
  • A pound of thick cut bacon
  • A pound of deli turkey breast
So all in all, I'm pretty pleased with my purchases.  I supported my local economy and got some awesome food to show for it.  If you're interested in going to the farmer's market, I'll give you a couple of tips.

  1. Go early if you want a good selection.  If you wait until late morning or lunchtime, it will be very picked over.  
  2. Look for the young hippies behind tables... they almost always have the organic produce, hahaha!  
  3. Ask how people grow their food if it's not posted.  There's not a lot of sense in buying something locally if it's still grown in a blanket of pesticides.  Not everyone is a completely organic farm, but at least find out if they use chemicals to grow.  
  4. Bring cash and a large bag!  People don't just sell fruits and veggies... you'll find local meat, eggs, breads, doggy treats, desserts, tamales and salsa, flowers, soaps... so much to explore at the farmer's market!
until later...

"Gardens are not made by singing, 'Oh, how beautiful', and sitting in the shade."  ~ Rudyard Kipling

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My week without make-up...

A few months back, I heard about  "The Naked Face Project".  I think I may have spoken of it before, although perhaps only on This Healthy Girl's FB page.  Two women (Molly Barker, the founder of Girls On the Run; Caitlyn Boyle, founder of Operation Beautiful) decided to go 60 days without make-up.  Without shaving.  Without primping.  60 days of denying the conventions of "beauty" that society tells us make us beautiful.  If you ask "why?", I can tell you that these women didn't have a clear hypothesis to prove.  They weren't trying to make a particular "feminist" statement.  According to their web page, their goal was simply to "live in our own space of authentic beauty and be more intentional in our actions."  

"Huh."  That was pretty much my response.  I thought, "But I like make-up!"  "I like straightening my hair!" But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, I kind of didn't.  I have been a slave to my cover-up for many years.  I know I've talked about my problems with my skin growing up, and it definitely caused me to feel very dependent on make-up.  I used to wake up early when I worked at camp, before the kids got up, just to go put on some foundation and feel "comfortable".  I had a fear of getting wet... but it was really a fear of getting my face wet.  If my face got wet, everyone would see what was underneath my mask.  I was embarrassed by myself.  

So as I followed the journey these two women were on, I wondered if I could have that kind of courage.  (Isn't it sad, that I just used the word "courage" to describe living my life in a natural state?)  The idea of waking up and not putting my safety blanket on my face terrified me.  I suppose, in the end, my fiance insisting that he likes me better without make-up gave me that extra push to give it a try.  "A week," I thought.  Just without make-up, baby steps.  

Here is what DIDN'T happen my week without make-up:

  • My face didn't fall off.
  • No one unfriended me on Facebook.
  • No one said, "Wow, you look terrible!  What happened?"
  • In fact... I don't think anyone really noticed.  Or cared.
  • I didn't go to sleep with make-up on because I was too lazy to wash it off.  
  • I didn't constantly check my face in every mirror or window I came across.
  • My fiance didn't break up with me.
Here is what DID happen my week without make-up:

  • My skin felt like it could breathe.
  • I forgot I wasn't wearing it.  
  • It took me less time to get ready to go places.
  • My face got a little sun.
  • I swam without worrying that I got my face wet.  
  • I felt good.  
  • An intentional act turned into an effortless act.  
Yesterday, after 8 days without make-up, I decided to wear just a little powder.  It honestly felt strange.  By the end of the day, my skin looked greasy and I was dying to wash my face.  So, will "make-up free" be a permanent change?  Probably not, as sometimes make-up is a fun way to express myself (and as a theatre person, it's illogical to pretend I've given up make-up for good).  There's also the fact that I'm getting married later this summer, I'll be wanting a little pizzazz!  But I have a feeling- I'll be going without it a lot this summer.  Just being me feels pretty good.  

"The way women are portrayed in so much of what we see in the current popular media (and further reinforced by the comments made anonymously by those beneath many of these articles) goes beyond just appearance and whether a woman is pretty or not.  A woman’s worth is often tangled up in her ”sexual-willingness” and her desire to please others."  ~ Molly Barker

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I'm just checking out "NeverSeconds", which has been in the news today.  A Scottish 9-year-old girl is blogging her way through her cafeteria meals, rating on health, taste, how many hairs she finds... if anything, it's interesting to see how a child rates a lunch.  She's also been posting lunches people have sent in from around the world... check it out.


Friday, April 20, 2012

This unhealthy girl...

I'm going to be brutally honest. I have an anxiety problem.

I can think of really specific times in my life when my anxiety felt out of control. The Challenger Explosion when I was just in kindergarten. 4th grade, when a bulk majority of my classmates suddenly turned against me and made it their mission to make me miserable. Freshman year of college, a good six months after my dad died, and that fact really sunk in. Having to re-watch the Challenger Explosion in a college class. A long and broken relationship full of more misery than happiness.

I have tried many tactics to quell the storm of anxieties that sometimes plague me. Lying on my stomach to think away the stomach aches in 4th grade. (Funny- I still sleep on my stomach.) Holding my breath in the bath tub to force deep breaths when I was older. And then, exercise.

Exercise has been an excellent tool for moderating my anxiety. Running feels almost like it's pounding negative thoughts out of your brain; you can think through problems while you're out there, and enjoy the "high" when you finish and your endorphins are pumping. You feel excited and accomplished when you swim a longer distance for the first time. You feel calm and centered after a good, stretchy Yoga class. There are so many different ways to clear your mind or calm your fears, really healthy ways.

So what happens when that doesn't work anymore? When you find yourself stressing about the exercise? It's not fast enough. It's not long enough. It's not enough times a week. I can't let [insert varying nemisi] beat me.

I'll tell you what happens. You start breaking down.

Somehow, I managed to twist something I started in an effort to calm myself, to point myself in a new direction, into something negative. I let it own me, I let it own my thinking just like those 4th grade kids or that bad relationship. And to make it worse, the fact that I was associating negative feelings with exercise was making exercise feel like a chore. When the exercise feels like a chore, I don't do it. When I don't exercise, well, I've now lost my best tool to combating the anxiety I feel about a bevy of other things, from planning my wedding to my job to even going out with friends.

And I started feeling sick. Really sick. Stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, shakiness... it was tiring to even run once around the block. I was terrified to even go out, because what if I had an "attack" of the above-mentioned while I was out? And then, the inevitable; if you think something will happen, you focus on it, and then it happens. It's like the chicken or the egg; do I feel sick because I was thinking about feeling sick, or am I thinking about feeling sick because I am sick?

Once my fiance pointed out that it could be anxiety-driven, I admitted it to myself. I am anxious. I am anxious about the unknown. I am anxious about what I can't control. I am anxious what I do won't be enough. I am anxious I will let someone down.

Just the simple act of admitting, despite what else may be wrong with me, that anxiety was a likely contributor to the way I was feeling lifted a small weight off my shoulders. I found myself admitting it, out loud, more often, because it was like getting those simple words out of my mouth made me feel understood. And then I was ready for more answers.

I started seeing a chiropractor, and after a few visits, found my headaches had dissipated. A few adjustments to my hips seemed to alleviate the leg problems I've been having running. I got a full physical, and got a letter stating normal results on my blood work and thyroid. It turns out, I'm not dying.

As for the exercise, it's a work in progress. This summer, I'm concentrating mainly on races with friends, races with no real goals, races meant for fun. I'll still do a couple of triathalons, as swimming has become more fun and more relaxing than I imagined. I'll challenge myself with the bike, as challenges keep us motivated. But my advice to you: never let exercise be the sun your life orbits around. If you find that you feel anxious about missing a workout, or having a beer, or skipping an event because you might have to race "so-and-so"... it may be time to re-evaluate, as I needed to.

We all stress out from time to time. It's all in how we manage it.

"Keep calm and carry on." ~British government, 1939

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Taking back power.

I've been a member at a small local fitness club for about a year now. I mainly joined because I needed a reliable treadmill on days when it was too icy to safely run outdoors. (It helps that I was paying a mere $14 a month to be a member.) It was usually quiet when I went in the mornings; not too crowded, a nice assortment of people peppered across the weight room and cardio room. In short, the club was not close to my house, but it was cheap and I liked it fine.

The only problem I had was when I took up swimming. When I joined this club, I was well-aware that their "pool" was the size of a postage stamp. In fact, I once asked the front desk how many yards it was, and she looked at me like I was crazy, told me she had no idea, and informed me that no one had ever asked before. Huh. But when first started the swimming thing, it was nearly June. Plenty of great weather to get into a lake and swim, and since I was doing the Trizelle program through Gazelle (http://www.gazellesports.com/info/74-multi-sport-training-programs.html), I had opportunities to swim both indoors and outdoors with them. Plus, I didn't even like swimming when I started, so the size of the club's pool was really a non-issue.

As the weather started turning colder, I started picking up a couple of weekly swims at a local middle school. That was okay; the pool was rarely filled to capacity, but it was damn early, the pool was freezing, and it was one of the most expensive lap swims in town. Then, one frosty morning a few weeks ago, I showed up to the middle school and found a completely abandoned parking lot (which isn't to say this is the first time this has happened; it wasn't). The sign on the double doors simply read: POOL CLOSED. Hmm. Well, this seems a little different than the usual "No lap swim these dates" signs that usually adorn the doors on a break. With a little asking around, I discovered that the pool was closed indefinitely because of whatever problems they were having with it. Disappointing.

So, what's a girl to do? Here I am:

* frustrated that my knee has been bothering me, making my runs less than successful.
* frustrated that the pool I've been relying on is closed until further notice.
* frustrated that I'm not getting my usual amount of exercise.

Finally, I decided it was time to move on from my little gym on the west side. I still needed a reliable treadmill or indoor track for icy days. I needed a reliable pool. I needed some classes to break up the monotony of "training". And I needed it to not be over-priced.

In the end, I decided that the $14 a month I was paying for the gym, and the $40 I was paying for 10 swims at the middle school, would be better spent in a YMCA membership. So, that's where I put my money. In the last couple of weeks, I have gotten in loads of swimming, some running, some Zumba, some weight/core work, some elliptical and rowing.... lots to do there. To be honest, I've felt better in the last few weeks than I have felt in quite some time. The knee is still rehabilitating (it feels like it's mending), but at least I have options to keep my cardio up while it does so.

Ruts are funny. Sometimes you don't even realize you're immersed in one until you start to break out of it. Or you deny you're in one, like you don't want to hurt your gym or your chosen sport's feelings. It's important not to give up. Generally, a rut just means you need a new way to feel good about yourself. It's not being unkind to the sport I've religiously thrown myself into for the last four years to branch out. In fact, taking a couple of weeks off of running in favor of other activities has made the running much more enjoyable when I've been able to do it!

Last week, I managed to swim just shy of a mile in the pool. This is a feat that I didn't think was possible a year ago. It left me feeling proud. Invigorated. Empowered. That power carried, and helped make my Saturday run feel better than it has in weeks, even months.

To that I say: Do what makes you feel powerful. Whatever that may be today.

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." ~ Muhammad Ali

Monday, February 13, 2012

Saving money at the store!

Here are my top three ways to buy organic cheaper.

BUY IN SEASON. If you want the cheapest deal on fruits and veggies, you have to buy the fruits and veggies that are in season. These are always going to be the best bang for your buck. Are grapes in season now? No. That's why you can't find organic ones, and the conventionally grown ones are grown in another country, picked, shipped here, and sold for more money than you'd pay for even organic ones while they are in season. On the other hand, I bought a bag of organic valencia oranges for $2.99 at Meijer today.

FIND COUPONS. It's true that store/paper insert coupons are rarely for organic items. But that doesn't mean you can't find them. Many manufacturers have coupons on their site if you join their newsletters or email clubs (Horizon Organic, Organic Valley, Newman's Own, Stoneyfield.... lots of coupons out there if you do a lot of research online). Or, try some organic coupon blogs and sites that people have out there:

PLAN YOUR MEALS. I'm not kidding when I say I have saved $25-$75 every week in the past month by planning better. Typically, I'll make something Sunday night or Monday morning that my fiance and I can eat Monday and Tuesday nights, and then freeze whatever portions might be left for quick meals later. Casseroles and crock-pot creations are the easiest. Wednesday night I usually have a break from work to make dinner, so I plan ahead for that, too. I try to have something quick like pasta or chicken I can throw in the oven for Thursday. The key is to pick easy things that won't take forever to make; under an hour is best. Before I shop on Monday mornings, I take a good inventory of what we have, what we need, and I don't get distracted by "good deals" and "ooh, that looks good" when I shop. I plan my meals, I stick to my list. Here's a really excellent site for easy, healthy recipes for any meal of the day:

Don't waste your money on fast food and boxed meals.... it really doesn't take too much to make good meals. I'm not even home for dinner most nights and I can manage it. Print coupons, look for seasonal foods, plan ahead. Make tummies happy!

until later...

"Failing to plan is planning to fail." ~ Alan Lakein

Friday, February 3, 2012

My latest love....Date Sugar

In my on-going quest to remove artificial sweeteners from my life, I've recently been experimenting with date sugar. Now, I love dates. I can't buy the little powdered ones, you know, the ones that look like rabbit turds? Not because they look like rabbit turds (which, really, they do), but because I will just eat and eat and eat them. And you can't just go to town on a bag of dates, because a) you'll be pooping for something like two weeks straight, and b) they are full of natural sugars, so they're not a calorie-free food or anything.

But let's bring it back to date sugar. Why date sugar? Well, for one, date sugar is literally dehydrated dates ground up finely. So there's nothing strange in it. It's not overly sweet (which is funny, because dates themselves are quite sweet in my opinion). I've found it works well in oatmeal (I'll post a recipe below), and tried it out in some muffins (they weren't very sweet, but tasted very gingerbread-like, which I enjoyed). Aside from the peace of mind of knowing that I am using a natural, non-chemical sweetener, it's only 20 calories and 4 grams of sugar in two tablespoons. Plus, because it's derived entirely from dates, you get some of the fiber, vitamins and minerals that you would get from eating dates. A sweetener that contributes to the society of your health? I think I kind of like that idea.

Here's a quick article about agave, honey, and date sugar that I liked for its conciseness. When going for a "natural sweetener", it's easy to think that by pouring agave all over your oatmeal you're doing yourself a favor. (Or even date sugar, for that matter.) Two of the biggest things I took from the article were: cut back on the amounts of sweeteners you use in general, because "there's nothing wrong with getting used to having less of a sweet tooth", and "enjoy fruits to satisfy your sweet cravings"! I admit that I eat a ton of fruit... I often use mashed bananas or even baby food to sweeten things! Just look for fruits that are in season, as they will be cheaper, or buy them frozen. Otherwise, you are compromising on nutrients buying strawberries in February; they had to travel a loooooong way to get to Michigan, and lost vitamins every step of the journey, I promise you that.

Here's the article:

And here's my oatmeal today!


1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 apple, diced
about 1/2 Tbs cinnamon (I just use it to taste?)
2 Tbs date sugar
1 Tbs peanut butter

* Make the oatmeal according to directions. (I like the Meijer Organics rolled quick oats... they aren't mushy like some quick oats, but I do not have time for a 40 minute steel cut oatmeal. I just don't.)

* While water is boiling or oatmeal is cooking, chop up the apple and microwave it with some cinnamon. I find 30 seconds, a stir, and another 30 seconds is good.

*When the oatmeal appears to be about done, add the peanut butter, apples, date sugar, and some more cinnamon. Stir until everything looks smooth!

until later...

"Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice." ~ Wayne Dyer

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Effective "green" cleaning products!

Curious about switching to greener cleaning products (personally, I feel better when I'm not spreading massive amounts of chemicals around my house), but not ready to scour the place with vinegar and lemon? Here's a list of some popular ones to start with. The list breaks down things like scent and effectiveness very quickly, with prices per ounce (or load, in the case of laundry). Of course, one product not on the list are the Meijer "green" products, which are probably cheapest of all. (I divide between that and Seventh Generation most of the time.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Healthy food, healthy skin...

Growing up, I had awful, terrible, horrible skin. Here's me at 17-years-old.

I'm just going to throw it all down right now. I was completely embarrassed by it. Up until probably the last year, I wore make-up everywhere. I wore it to bed, I got up early when I worked at camp so I could sneak it on my face... I hated (and am still getting over) when anyone touched my face or got it wet. And everyone else in my family had wonderful skin; blemish-free, healthy looking. Me? Well, based on my skin and other pieces from my hormonal puzzle... I was just a mess. I could barely look in a mirror.

I tried every skin care line on the market. I seriously think I've tried everything you can buy at a Walgreen's or Target: Clean and Clear, Aveeno, Oxy, Noxema... the list goes on and on and on. I even tried stuff meant for babies, thinking, "Hey, maybe I have sensitive skin!" Then came the Proactiv.

I become particularly incensed when I see commercials with smiling celebrities ("It's soooo hard being so famous when everyone is looking at your skin!" Sorry, Katy/Avril/Julianne... I've never looked at your skin and thought, 'What a worthless troll!') and newly rejuvenated college kids who can't believe how much Proactiv has turned their lives around. Did Proactiv work when I used it? Depends on how you look at it. It was kind of like a band-aid on a corpse situation: it didn't clear up my acne, but it made it seem somewhat better. What I definitely know from my three or four year stint with that junk is that it BLEACHED EVERYTHING I OWNED. Towels, washcloths, t-shirts, sweatshirts, pillows, sheets... everything. I ask you: do you really want to put something that bleaches your pillows on your face? Really?

Now here's the real deal, and maybe it's a coincidence, but I don't think so. I made the decision to get healthier a few years ago. I started drinking more water, getting more exercise. My skin was a tad healthier, but still prone to break-outs. I was still using chemical-laden products on my skin (although not the bleaching kinds), still eating some processed foods.

Then I started weaning off of the processed foods (which of course I still imbibe in sometimes)... started switching out the chemical beauty products for more natural and organic ones.

And one day I suddenly realized, I just wasn't having the same problems I had as a little as three or four years ago. I didn't need to lacquer on foundation and concealer and everything else in my huge arsenal. My skin was just... better. Good even. It felt smooth, it looked clear, it seemed happy instead of angry. Today, a typical face day is tinted moisturizer, lip balm, and blush. Maybe mascara if I'm going out. But even that stuff is generally the more natural cosmetics (I'm a fan of Tarte and sometimes Korres... or even Physicians Formula Organics if you're on a budget). One recent night, I went to a friend's house without any make-up on, which was a huge step for me. Do I still get a pimple here and there? Of course. But nothing like what plagued me for a good 15 years.

Exercise. Water. Clean eating. Living a little simpler. Is it possible that this was the key to freeing those hormones that kept me sad for so many years?

It's also possible that all the swimming and running I do has made me more confident. I've had to take a step back and knock my pride down a peg, because you're going to get wet. You're going to get sweaty. People are going to see you looking filthy and gross. But they're also going to see you at your best; they'll see you striving to for awesomeness, they'll see you working really hard. A job well done, a feat that you're proud of? So much more than skin deep.

me, make-up free in 2012...

Want to check how dangerous your soaps, sunscreens, and make-ups might be?

until later...

"Beauty is a short-lived tyranny." ~ Socrates

Monday, January 23, 2012

Do something.

I went out earlier for a much needed jog around the neighborhood. I confess that lately, running/working out has seemed like a chore more often than a joy. I couldn't quite pinpoint the source of that fact; but I knew I'd come up with a long list of "reasons why".

My knees have been achy.

I'm tired.

It's boring out there alone.

It's probably icy.

I just ate.

I wasted all that time watching recorded TV, and now it's pretty close to work time.

It's raining.

I could use a day off.

I just don't feel like it.

The more I write down reasons and think about reasons, the more I realize that my reasons aren't so much reasons as they are excuses. Excuses are a pain in the ass. We come up with all of these crazy ideas of why we can't do something, and why? Because we're lazy? Because we're scared of the result? For me, it's a combo. I often find myself feeling lazy, but even that is an excuse. It may have more to do with fear. I have a fear of not living up to my potential. A fear of being beaten in races by others who are faster than me. A fear of not meeting my goals.

And greatest of all, the fear of sliding back into old habits. Does fear channel me into laziness, a sort of "self-prophecy"? "It might happen, so I'll just sit here and let it?"

Fear is a powerful inhibitor. It helps us create excuses. It marinates self-doubt.

As I was out on my run, it started to drizzle. I didn't mind too much, rain is better than ice in my book. The drizzle turned to full-fledged rain, and I came across an elderly man out getting his exercise. Hunched over, speed-walking, wearing a neon jacket and running tights, he was braced against the rain as though he didn't give it a thought.

"Here comes the rain," I shouted to him as I passed.

"Have a great day," he returned. "Still another mile to go for me!"

Here is this guy who is in at least his 70's, if not older. He's out circling the neighborhood any way he can, despite the rain and the chill. Why am I coming up with excuses to not get a simple half an hour of exercise in? Our day is made up of 24 hours, generally 16-18 of those hours are "waking" hours. If we got in 30-60 minutes of any exercise, be it running or swimming or yoga or walking, we still have SO many hours left to work, to enjoy with our family, to veg out with "Teen Mom 2" if we want. Instead of coming up with these negative self-prophecies, we should be pumping ourselves up by doing anything we can. It doesn't have to be a marathon every time. It can be walking the dog. Nothing is too small, because something is always greater than nothing.

We don't have to be the best of everyone out there. We just have to do the best we can do. Cut the excuses. They are not the reason.

until later...

“I am doing the best I can given what I have today.” ~ Jillian Michaels

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Transparency in our food choices...

I came across this interesting article today and wanted to share it. One of the most popular questions I seem to get from people is whether it is more important to buy "local" or buy "organic". Here we see that it's both important to buy food with strict regulations, and important to buy food that travels less distance for the sake of our carbon footprint as well as nutrition in the food... but what is probably most important is to be informed. Know where your food comes from, know your farmers' values and practices, know what's in the food.

Read on...


Until later...

"You have to ask yourself this: Do you know your local farmer? Do you know whether or not he or she uses a lot of chemicals? If you’re not sure, then you have to decide what’s more important, knowing that your food does not contain any artificial or chemical substances (certified organic) or being able to eat seasonal, fresh food harvested close to home with a smaller carbon footprint (local)?" ~ Alberto Gonzales