Saturday shout outs; recent blog posts I love!

Finally, the weekend is here! Saturday is my favourite day to get caught up on my weekly blog reading.

Today, I thought I’d share some great posts from the last week with you. Posts that have inspired me and made me think differently about fitness, nutrition and blogging!

Have some favourite blog-finds of your own this week?

Feel free to share in the comments section below!

Kreativ Blogger nomination!

After a busy morning of training clients, grocery shopping, a parent-teacher meeting and a quick workout (18 burpees plus pushups today, along with pull ups, bench press and rows), I came home to make myself a cup of coffee and spend some time online before the afternoon school pickup.

Imagine my surprise, when I found a comment on my ‘About me’ page nominating me for a Kreativ Blogger award!

The nomination came from fellow blogger (and frequent commenter here), carrieruben, who wrote “Hi, Tamara. I nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger Award. I really enjoy your blog and wanted to share it with others.” Thanks so much Carrie! If you haven’t discovered her blog, go there right now (but come right back, please?).

The nomination requires me to:

  • Display the award image on my blog (done!)
  • Acknowledge the nominator (done!)
  • List 10 things about myself that readers probably don’t already know (hmm, since I tend to be an over-sharer, this might be difficult.)
  • Pass the award along by nominating six other blogs you enjoy reading (I read a lot of blogs; now to narrow it down…)

What a great way to show other writers that you appreciate their blogging efforts (and introduce your readers to even more diverse content!).

So here goes, ten things you probably don’t know about me;

  1. I’m very particular about bananas. They have to be perfectly ripe for me to eat them. Too hard or too mushy and they make me gag. There are a lot of frozen bananas in my freezer.
  2. I’m a connoisseur of hugs. I hate it when people don’t hug back. Half hugs (or pats on the back) drive me crazy. My husband is a bad hugger; we’re working on it.
  3. Balloons terrify me. Actually, it’s not the balloons themselves, it’s balloons in the hands of my children, who love to pop them when I’m not expecting it. I startle very easily!
  4. When I was a child, my grandmother nicknamed me ‘Tammy’. She told my mother that ‘Tamara’ was too big a name for a little girl. No one calls me ‘Tammy’ anymore and I’m okay with that. (Please don’t make me regret telling you this.)
  5. My right foot is bigger than my left foot. This causes me no end of difficulty when I’m ordering shoes online. My new Fluevog boots had to go back. Boo hoo!
  6. I have Reynaud’s Syndrome. This means that I can’t go out in the cold for very long without losing all sensation in my fingers from the first big knuckle down. It also makes it very hard to knit.
  7. Every three months I pick up a shipment of 90 boxes of Viagra at the pharmacy. No, not for my husband. My daughter has pulmonary hypertension and takes it 4 times daily to keep her blood pressure in check.
  8. In high school, I dreamed of being a lawyer. Probably because I like to talk. A lot.
  9. I have three children who also like to talk. A lot. My mother calls this ‘pay back’.
  10. Someday, I would love to write a book. I’m sure you’ve already guessed this, as many (most?) bloggers aspire to do the same.

My nominations for the Kreativ Blogger award are;

  1. Happy Mums At Home. I love Happy Mums at Home because she motivates me to be kinder to myself. I need that reminder daily! We bonded over giving up chocolate for a month.
  2. Pam-a-ram-a ding dong. This blog cracks me up. No higher praise than that. I also love that she has a PhD and decided to stay home and raise her 4 children.
  3. Fit Food Junkie. A new twitter find. Fit Food Junkie blogs about food (not junk food, be warned!), fitness and clean eating. Her recipes are yummy looking, she has 3 kids (like me!) and lives nearby. Hoping to meet her soon!
  4. Knitted Bliss. Always an inspiration for new knitting patterns, she is as lovely as the photographs on her blog!
  5. Healthy Ashley. I’ve been reading this blog for about a year now. For the last few months, the author has been documenting her return to running and biking after a horrendous cycling accident. Full of motivation and positive messages.

And I would love to add a 6th; genomicbrain, but there’s only a single post there as of yet (honey, get off the couch and update your blog!).

Tell me about your favourite blogs!

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!

The Last 10 Pounds

So, I have a confession to make. I’ve been cheating. I have strayed from my nutrition plan and have payed the price.

Hanging my head in shame.

Over the last 8 months, I’ve gained about 10 pounds on the scale. At first, I didn’t pay much attention to it. I was lifting fairly heavy weights 3 or 4 times a week. I was teaching my usual 3-4 cardio classes as well. My clothes still fit. Nobody was telling me I looked fat (not that my husband would ever dream of making a comment like that; although my 8-year old daughter would, she still has the brutal honesty of the young…).

I had almost convinced myself that I was putting on muscle (but really, 10 pounds of muscle on my frame, come on), when I decided to do a little reality check. I got out the tape measure and camera. Gulp.

Weight; 147 lbs
Height; 5’7″
Chest; 36″
High waist; 28.5″
Abdomen; 30″
Hips/butt; 39″

Using my standard method of estimating per cent body fat (not BMI; BMI only considers height and weight, not body composition or the relative proportion of your total body weight that is fat), I was carrying around 31.3 pounds of fat (21.3% body fat)! That’s a lot for me, personally. I feel best at 18-19% body fat, which corresponds to approximately 136-138 lbs (of course that depends on how much muscle mass I’m carrying).

When I put on my favorite bathing suit and took some quick pics in the mirror (pardon the splatter marks that I forgot to clean off first!), it became immediately obvious to me just where that extra 10 pounds had accumulated. A little bit too much junk hanging out of the bottom of the bathing suit. A small spare tire around the middle. (Note that these photos are not meant to be gratuitous bikini shots, but rather, a tool to motivate myself to do better. Skip them if you’d prefer not to look!).

By my calculation, I’ve got about 10 weeks until summer holidays start. I want to look and feel great at the beach. Taking little bits and pieces from all my favorite fit females (Rachel Cosgrove, Tosca Reno, Jillian Michaels and MizFit, to name a few), I’ve put together a plan. I’m going to share it with you as a means to stay accountable and perhaps, to help any of you who are also on a mission to shed those last 10 pounds. Note that this plan is based on my goals, my body, my schedule and most importantly, my ability to stay focused and on course. If you join me, your results may differ from mine.

My three-pronged approach:

1. Exercise; I’ve been following the NROL for Abs and have been pleased with the results I’m getting. My core strength has improved immensely. I’m lifting heavier and doing more of the metabolic intervals each week. I’m currently half-way through Phase 2 and plan to continue with this program as it’s written. In addition to 3 days of weight training, I also do cardio intervals on the spin bike two times a week.

2. Water; While I’m usually fairly well hydrated, increasing water consumption will help elevate my metabolism and burn more fat. It will also make me feel fuller between meals. I’m aiming for 75-80 ounces a day (1/2 ounce per pound of body weight). I always drink an 8 ounce glass immediately after my morning coffee to help counter-act the diuretic effects of the caffeine and to get my insides moving!

3. Nutrition; This is where I really need to re-tool. I’ve been having way too many splurges (cookies, wine, chips, cake) to look and feel my best. My first week’s goal is to eliminate these from my diet, along with all pre-packaged, processed foods (including bread, pasta and cereals other than oats and low-fat granola). The fewer ingredients on the package, the better. Getting rid of processed foods will also help eliminate sugar.

I’ll be eating 3-4 ounces of lean protein at each meal (5 small meals per day), along with a fruit (no more than 3 per day) or vegetable (as many as I want) and a healthy fat (olive oil, coconut oil, flax or chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, cashews). In addition to choosing the right fats, the key to losing fat while eating fat is to limit serving size (1 tablespoon of oil or seeds, 1/4 cup of nuts).

I’ll be timing my starchy carbohydrates; one serving at breakfast (oats, clean cereal, quinoa, ezekial bread) and one at my post-workout meal (sweet potato, brown rice, barley, quinoa, whole grain couscous). Again, I’ll be watching serving sizes here, even clean carbs have calories that add up quickly.

Limiting my splurges to 3-4 per week. A glass of wine is a splurge. A cookie for dessert is a splurge. A half of a bagel or a muffin is a splurge. I will be planning these so they are not wasted on things that are not an absolute party in my mouth.

So, are you in?

Love to hear how it’s going; comments below, please!

Oh na, na, what’s my name, what’s my name, what’s my name

Just read a great, thought-provoking post by fellow fitness blogger MizFit about blog branding. That is, the creation of an online persona that truly and consistently reflects one’s core values and beliefs.

The blog-brand is the message the blogger is broadcasting and should be evident in both their writings and their actions. It should be clearly evident to readers such that they can sum it up in a few words or sentences. Good blog-brands are predictable, in that readers are rarely surprised by the blogger’s opinion on any given topic. Readers ‘get’ the blogger.

So, do you ‘get’ fitknitchick?