Things you might have missed while I’ve been away

I know. It’s been quiet around here for the past week or so. I’ve been on holiday with my family and chose to honor that time with a vacation from my computer. No e-mails or texts or phone calls. No Twitter or Facebook or blogging. (It was harder than I’m making it sound!)

I did, however, prepare a few posts in advance, just so you wouldn’t miss me while I was gone! Did you see them, even without my social media prompts?

If not, here’s what you missed;

Progressing your plank and packing for a plane ride

Exercising to look good

Hotel room workouts via Tuesday Trainer

Understanding your real reason for exercising

Making fitness a family affair via Coquitlam Center

I’ll be back to my regular blogging schedule tomorrow; Monday Motivation with a guest post from Talia Tugman of Bite Size Wellness fame!

Did you do anything exciting on your spring break?

Midterm report card; making good on intentions?

At the beginning of September I posted a list of my intentions for the month. Things that I wanted to work on and make time for. Goals that pertained to the four most important spheres of my life (in no particular order); fitness, food, family and home.

Well, September has come and gone. What of my intentions? Did I make good? Let’s see!

Fitness: attend 1 yoga class per week, lift weights twice per week

Fitness goals are always the easiest for me to achieve. It probably helps that I work in a fitness facility and am surrounded by people who are making time in their day for exercise (and making me feel guilty when I don’t :) ). I made it to yoga class 6 times this month. A bit more frequently than I originally planned, partly because I found it so enjoyable (challenging too!), but also because my back injury kept me out of the weight room for about ten days and I needed something physical to do to preserve my sanity and help me sleep at night. I did miss a few weight training sessions, but expect to be back on track again this week.

Food: eliminate (once again) all added sugar in my diet, continue experimenting with home made, low sugar versions of my children’s favourite snack foods

Despite finding some great new (to me) clean eating websites (check out the sidebar to the right) and trying half a dozen new recipes, I am not any closer to finding healthy snacks that my children are willing to let replace their old favourites (which, by the way, they’re not getting any more!). I’m not giving up, though. Eventually, they will forget how good ‘rainbow chip’ granola bars taste and start appreciating my efforts. It’s all about re-training the taste buds. My own sweet tooth has been kept in check fairly well, with a few sugary splurges, including dessert night and my healthier version of a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. Always an on-going thing with me…

Family: spend 1-on-1 time with each of my three children, every single day (oh yes, this is meant to be positive interaction time, we have enough of the other…)

I am still struggling to make time during the day to sit down with each child, one on one, for some quality interaction time. I’ve always read to my children before bedtime, and has recently switched from reading storybooks to my youngest two (ages 7 and 9) to longer, more challenging chapter books. We are enjoying a good 30 minutes of reading each evening and this ‘slow down’ time has been good for all of us. (We recently finished ‘Holes’ by Louis Sachar). My oldest son started attending a gifted program at a new school this fall. The downside is, I have to drive him to and from school (we’re cross-boundary, so he can’t take the bus). The upside is, we have a good 30 minutes of interesting conversation every day. I know that he is enjoying it as much as I am. Now if only we could reduce the negative parent-child interactions… (is it only my children who enjoy fighting amongst themselves?)

Home: devote 30 minutes per day to house cleaning (rather than a whole, stressed out day once per month)

Well, I have managed to spend 30 minutes a day on house cleaning chores, however, it doesn’t seem to be making a dent in the state of household affairs. I mean, look at the state of my laundry room (I can’t believe I’m showing you a picture of this mess!).

Perhaps I could combine family time with house-cleaning time, teaching my children the art of taking care of the house while spending quality time with them? Do you think they’ll go for it? I can dream, can’t I?

October is going to be a juggling act for me; my hubby is having surgery on Friday and will be in hospital for approximately 10 days with another few weeks recovery at home before he’s back up to speed. I’m thinking that sticking with these intentions for another month is about all I can handle right now. That, and blogging regularly, of course…

Did September fly by for you too?

Any October goals you’d like to share?

Confessions of a serial project mom

Psst. Wanna know something? I often bite off more than I can chew and I THRIVE on the challenge of getting things done! I’m never happier than when I’m diving into a new project, be it fitness, knitting, new technology know-how, another certification…

Finishing things up, though, that’s where the real work lies. It’s not that I leave projects languishing (I’m much too Type A for that!), it’s just that my excitement for them fades when the prospect of a new project arises. Sound familiar?

Lately, I’ve been pretty good at getting things done. And to celebrate, I thought I’d bring you up to date on my various projects; knitting, more knitting, career advancement and gulp, bikini body.

First, the pretty pictures (with links to Ravelry pattern pages, for the knitterly among you).

A lovely, merino and cashmere shawl; Wandering the Moors, knit in Saffron Dyeworks ‘Tush’ (I love that name! And it is as soft as a baby’s bottom!).

My daughter’s much-begged-for hoodie (which she has yet to wear; apparently it’s being saved for a ‘special occasion’, which better occur before she outgrows it, or else); Camp Hoodie, knit mainly in Cascade ‘Ultra Pima’.

A pair of silk and wool socks, currently making their way across the country in honor of Mother’s Day; my own basic ribbed sock pattern knit in Adirondack ‘Silky Sock’.

A pretty pink extra large beaded wrap; Rose Lace Stole knit in Jojoland Melody Superwash (I love the long, gradual colour changes in this yarn, and it’s incredibly soft given the nylon content).

And two works-in-progress (I actually started a third since beginning this post, but I haven’t had time to photograph it. Next time.).

Wispy Cardigan, a light weight, shrug-style cardi knit in Indigo Moon Merino. I just know that this will be my go-to sweater this summer. Don’t you think it will look great with jeans and a tank? (I know, not a lot of shaping to see here, yet. Patience, my knitters, patience).

And a super-secret project whose details I must protect until it’s recipient unwraps it (May 26th, but no more clues!). The yarn is Saffron Dyeworks ‘Enya’. The colour is called ‘Frog Blancmange'; don’t you just love it? (I know, lace, on the needles, really doesn’t look like much; just wait until it’s finished and blocked!).

Workwise, I’ve just signed up for an on-line course that’s the first pre-requisite for obtaining my ‘Supervisor of Fitness Leaders’ status with BCRPA. This designation will allow me to become a supervisor of group fitness instructors (and will make it so that I don’t have to teach as many classes a week…). I have a month to complete the course work, fitting it in around all of my other obligations. I’ll let you know how it goes!

As for my fitness and nutrition project (The Last 10 Pounds, remember?), I am happy to report a net loss of 3 pounds (4 lost, 1 found it’s way home). As of today my numbers are;

Weight: 144 lbs
Chest: 36″ (whew, don’t have much to lose up there!)
Waist: 28 1/2″
Abdomen: 30″
Hips/butt: 38″

The only thing that’s changed is the last one; I’m down 1 inch about the hips. Everything else remains the same. (No need for a bikini shot; you’re really not going to see that small of a difference!). On track and reasonable (but not stellar) progress over the last three weeks.

I’d love to see the scale hit (and remain at) 140, but am most interested in seeing change in the mirror (and being comfortable, once again, in a certain pair of jeans…).

I’ve found dialling in my nutrition to be very challenging. I still have a sweet tooth. After school is my ‘danger time’. I have to be very conscious of not finishing off the remainders of my children’s lunches! It’s all too easy to convince myself to have a larger portion on days I’ve done a strenuous workout (the “you’ve earned it” trap).

Initially, I was using My Fitness Pal (a free online food tracking website that also has inexpensive iPhone and iPad applications) to log my meals after I’d eaten them, and sometimes, not until the end of the day. Not so helpful to know you’ve gone over your daily calorie allotment when it’s too late to do anything about it (I’m not purging… if you get my drift).

Screen capture of food diary, MyFitnessPal

Also, since I’m trying to retain, and even increase my lean muscle mass, I need to be certain I’m reaching my protein goals each day. That’s one of the neat things about My Fitness Pal; it calculates daily targets for fats, protein and carbohydrates and compares your daily intake of these dietary components to your targets (you can also override their calculations and insert your own values, but I don’t advise doing so unless you have a good understanding of your body’s nutritional needs). Makes it very easy to see where you’ve made nutritional ‘mistakes’.

Why not use it to see those mistakes before you make them? Why not use the ap as a nutrition planner rather than a nutrition tracker?

For the last week I’ve been doing just that. Each evening, I sit down and ‘create’ my meals and snacks for the following day. Using the daily nutrition option, I can get a preview of what the following day will look like and adjust accordingly.

It takes me about 15 minutes to plan a day’s meals; a little less if it’s time to go shopping (less food in the fridge means fewer options for meals…). But what’s 15 minutes a day if it leads to a leaner, healthier you?

And finally, we have a new addition at our house. Kind of a long term project.

Meet Saffron (name after both her coat colour and my favourite yarn!). She was rescued by one of my clients after being abandoned by either her mother or her owner. I couldn’t resist. Could you?

The day after; let’s talk turkey

Yesterday morning started much the same as any other day. My hubby brought my coffee to me in bed, as he has done nearly every single day of our marriage, thirteen and a half years ago (a habit he gleaned from his father, who brought his mother coffee in bed nearly every single day of their fifty-year marriage; a good omen, I think!). I took a sip and reached for my iPad to check my mail.

“Checking mail….. Checking mail….. Checking mail…..”

This went on for five or six minutes and just when I was about to get out of bed to restart the wireless router (we often have wireless problems in our house..), my Inbox icon flashed, showing over 100 messages. Well above my usual volume and suspiciously high given the Easter Monday holiday.

Closer inspection revealed that almost all of the messages were from WordPress. More specifically, notifications of comments and subscriptions and ‘likes’ on my recent blog post (All I need to know about exercise I learned from knitting).

Waiting for the caffeine to hit my brain, I started scrolling through your comments, trying to understand why so many readers had happened upon my blog, today of all days. Finally, I came to a comment congratulating me on being ‘Freshly Pressed’. Huh?

Now I’ve only been blogging for six months or so and while I read a lot of fitness and nutrition blogs, I had never searched WordPress for new ones to add to my blog roll. I quickly navigated to the WordPress main page and saw, to my surprise, a snapshot from my blog listed under the heading ‘Freshly Pressed’. Oh wow. I get it now! (For those of you who don’t, ‘Freshly Pressed’ is a WordPress feature that regularly highlights recent blog posts of general interest).

The remainder of my day was spent on the couch, alternating between knitting (I started something new!) and moderating and replying to your comments on my post. (I also confess to continuously updating the ‘Site statistics’ to see how many times the post had been viewed now; I couldn’t seem to stop myself).

Let me start by thanking you all for your congratulations, your insights, your enthusiasm and your humor! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your responses to my work and was amazed to find that my commentary resonated with so many. (Several of you wanted to know about the knitting patterns I featured and whether or not I gave up entirely on the blue-grey shawl. Check out my responses at the very bottom of this post!). Along the way, I clicked on your blog links. I read post after post after post and am humbled by the incredible talent out there in the blogging world.

Given the magnitude of the response to Sunday’s post, I found myself worrying about what I should write about next. Certainly not anything too fluffy (or ‘half squeezed’, as it were). Definitely not vacation pics. Or Easter egg hunt photos of the kids. What if my new readers don’t find my next post so interesting? The fear of a ‘sophomore slump’ was stressing me out.

As I was tucking my oldest child into bed, I voiced these concerns to him. He paused for a moment and then said (with the brilliant insight and wisdom only the young and innocent seem to possess),

Write what you always write, Mom. Just be yourself“. So I will and I am.

We had turkey for Easter dinner. A big turkey. And since there are only five of us, that means leftovers. Lots of them. Here’s what I’m doing with them, Clean Eating style, of course (if you don’t celebrate Easter or don’t eat turkey, you may be excused; see you again soon!).

Turkey and cranberry quesadillas (makes 1 serving);

  • 3 oz sliced turkey breast (skinless)
  • 1 Tbsp dried cranberries (preferably unsweetened)
  • diced onion (have as much as you like)
  • 1/2 cup sliced yellow peppers
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 8-inch whole grain tortilla
  • 1 tsp crumbled feta cheese
  1.  Warm olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and saute until translucent (5-7 min)
  3. Add cranberries and peppers, stirring constantly until vegetables start to carmelize
  4. Add spinach leaves, stirring until wilted.
  5. Place tortilla on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Place turkey and carmelized vegetable mixture on one half of tortilla. Cover with feta. Fold the other half of the tortilla over, covering filling.
  6. Bake in a 350 F oven for 5-7 min, or until brown and cheese is melted.
(Calorie count will be in the 350-450 range, depending on whether you used unsweetened cranberries and whether your cheese was low fat).

Turkey, leek and rice soup (makes 4 servings);
Turkey soup is a tradition in our house. It looks a little different each time we make it (I usually improvise with whatever ingredients are in my fridge). This one is my very favorite.
  • turkey carcass, minus the skin and meat
  • as much turkey meat as you like
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large leeks, white stalks only
  • 2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup thinly slice sundried tomatoes
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Place turkey carcass in a large stock pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add fresh herbs (or not; I like thyme and parsley), simmer for an hour.
  3. Strain stock into a clean pot, removing bones and whatever’s left of the bird.
  4. In a clean stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  5. Add diced leeks and sundried tomatoes. Saute until leeks are soft.
  6. Add 6-8 cups of prepared stock and turkey.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Add rice, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat for an additional 5 minutes.
This soup is wonderful with a crusty, whole grain bread. 
Bon apetit!
**************************
1. The sock pattern is Monkey by Cookie A. It was knit in Soho sock yarn by Saffron Dyeworks.
2. I did finish the blue-grey shawl; I just didn’t work on it in the evening. The pattern is Little Leaves by Susanna IC. It was knit in Enya by Saffron Dyeworks.
3. The stranded colorwork sweater pattern is Camp Hoodie by Susan B. Anderson. I finished it yesterday and will post modeled pics tomorrow on Ravelry!

Top 10 reasons to exercise

10. Improve your sex life.

9. Increase your endurance at the mall.

8. Reduce love handles.

7. Avoid housework.

6. Avoid more housework (it’s never-ending).

5. Great “views” at the gym ;)

4. Dessert.

3. Freedom to listen to non-Top-40 music without ridicule from children.

2. Freedom to listen to Top 40 without ridicule from spouse.

1. Preservation of life

Not yours, your children’s. Specifically, those children who insist on behaving like the devil’s spawn when vacationing with your parents.

Their children never behaved like that!