meal of the week

I have been trying to think about how I could blog about our meals — I enjoy keeping a running record of our favorite things and always enjoy reading other people’s favorite meals. This week, I am going to showcase my favorite breakfast: Stuffed Acorn Squash.

This recipe is from True Roots (P11) and always feels like such a decadent choice for Sunday brunch — there are only four ingredients and with sugar-free sausage, it can be Whole30 & Paleo. Sausage, Celery, Egg, and Acorn Squash complete this dish — we always sprinkle with hot sauce too.

Bonus: You get to eat out of an acorn squash!

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This is one of those meals that you eat for brunch and you’re full throughout the way but there’s no guilt with any side dishes, be them fruit or mimosas because you’re putting so many nutrients in your system to start the day.

We will probably make these again this coming weekend because we enjoy them so much and we know the kids will have a nice, healthy filling meal before our family date date takes over and everyone is filled to the brim with sugar.

What are some of your favorite breakfasts?

september goals, updated

I have thrown out all of my September goals and have started over.

I have been working up the nerve to try to a box jump for the last two years. On Friday, at the gym, I did it. I did ONE box jump and it was not graceful and it was kind of scary BUT… I DID IT. I think I’m still on a high from this! I’ve been visiting the gym on campus because 1. I pay the fees in my tuition and 2. I still haven’t found a yoga studio of interest. So, in addition to testing the waters of box jumping, I have also started to do tire flips.

I’m not going to lie, tire flips really make feel some kind of way — strong, fierce. Today, I did three. I am not doing a lot of them and am being cautious about form. I want to make sure I’m in a deep squat and use my trunk to move the weight of the tire instead of my back. I really look forward to seeing how much I can progress with this once I start back with yoga.

For the rest of the month, I’m going to set a goal of continuing what I’m doing and find myself a yoga studio (or at least test out a yoga studio a few times). Now that 3 has started preK, I have a few hours a few days a week to find a studio that fits with the schedule. I also ran into our babysitter at the gym on Friday and she offered to come on weekend mornings for yoga or running. I am trying to figure out how we can best utilize her with our crazy schedules and hers and this seems like the most ideal situation for us. It doesn’t give us time together, necessarily (unless we are running a race) but it does allow us some alone time doing a physical activity that keeps us sane.

In addition to the deliberate working out, I’ve been trying to log 3.1 miles a day on foot — this is from a combination of dog walks, playing with my son, errands, walking to get ice cream, and parking further than usual from a building. I’ve done pretty well with this and while it’s a goal, it’s not something that I try to focus on, so I don’t typically carry my phone around the house with me. (Fortunately, 13 keeps tabs on it and always knows where it is, which makes one of us.)

I figured if I put the update into the universe, I’d be more vigilant about continuing to try box jumps and tire flips and will find myself a new yoga studio…

 

guilt free foods

Let’s talk about “guilt free foods” for a moment. I felt inspired to discuss this when I opened an email from FindMeGlutenFree about “Guilt Free Brownie Bites” — huh?

Now, I don’t know about you, but food doesn’t make me feel guilty. I love desserts, I’m the first to admit. There is plenty of guilt to go around, especially as a mom, but we all need to draw a line somewhere and for me, this is where.

I spend a lot of time thinking about food and planning our meals. One of my goals for this year is to be more mindful of finding balance in my life, diet included. I’d like to slim down a little and lose some weight (health reasons, not merely vanity) and I’m working hard to figure out what works best for my body. I spend a good bit of time reading and researching various recipes. I’ve talked with my doctor numerous times and have met with a nutritionist. Finally, I feel I’m making progress.

Over the summer, I tried WW. I think that it’s too restrictive overall for my liking, in that I’m only allotted ~1200 calories a day. Sure, that number increases with the “zero point food” but I don’t think I’m eating 400+ calories of chicken breast and plain Greek yogurt. I will say, though, that I definitely saw a trend by tracking. I am really good about eating something for breakfast and sugary breakfast foods are not my friend because they just make me hungry. My big issue is that I often skip lunch or have “snack lunch” which never bodes well for me. This is something I’ve become mindful of needing to change. I will miss lunch because I’m busy and then 3PM rolls around and I basically eat nonstop until after dinner.

Whole30 is part of what has helped — while the foods didn’t necessarily work for me, I learned that fat is not evil and I probably need more of it in my diet. What I do not need, however, is a ton of meat — high protein/fat does not work for my body. I love fruits and vegetables and it’s easy to take in a lot of produce, and focusing on that not only works well for my body but also puts me in a good headspace.

After Whole30 a few years ago, I learned that I’m allergic to yeast and as a result, gluten and refined sugars are never going to work well with my body. I had been gluten free completely for years but then there were things that came up (a few trips coupled with a couple deaths in the family and I went completely off the rails with gluten). I got back to being mostly GF and then our kitchen collapsed and I spent the better part of last fall eating takeout and fast food. Since the kitchen was remodeled, we’ve been back to cooking wholesome meals that are more in agreement with my body. I have a few cookbooks I really like and am really looking forward to The Defined Dish’s cookbook that is set to come out.

Despite my eating preferences, I do not feel guilty if I eat something whether it be purposefully or on accident that doesn’t align with my body’s needs. I usually feel sick, but I tell myself that tomorrow is a new day and I try to pick things up and move forward. I like pizza; I like nachos; I like mac & cheese; I like cake; and as childish and gross as it may be, I like Bagel Bites (not even the organic ones but the chemical ones) — but I don’t need any guilt associated with these foods, and neither does anyone else.

Ultimately, this rambling is really about understanding the importance of disparaging titles attached to foods. There really shouldn’t be — we should all just be concerned with what makes our bodies work and what we can afford and what works for us. It really bothers to me that my kids grow up seeing that they should feel guilty for indulging in a treat or should be shamed for eating something that’s not terribly healthy. At some point, I think it’s vital to change the way we look and talk about food — and also how it’s marketed.

/endrant

(On a side note, I go back and forth and back and forth about getting a fitness watch of some sort — I think they’re neat and I’d love a more accurate read of how many calories I burn doing exercises; however, I know myself and I know that I become obsessed with numerical goals like this. Every time I say I’m considering getting one, I weigh my options and always come back to doing what is best for my mental health — steering clear. I do not need guilt from food, nor do I from fitness…)

(Second side note: I wrote this before my trip to PA and set it to publish at a later date. When I was in PA, my mother talked incessantly about calories – so much so, that three started to ask about how many calories are in an item; then, I returned to MA to my MIL who also obsessively talked about ‘bad’ foods and needing to ‘be good’ with eating. She’s doing WW now and everything is about how many points it has… it was all too much for me. I try to dabble in structure but it just doesn’t seem to work because I don’t want to model the concept of demonizing food for the kids. With 3, I worry because he’s never gaining enough weight for his doctors to be pleased; despite the fact that all he does when he’s not moving is eat, bathe, or sleep…)

 

 

 

weight watchers & more

In June, I had my annual exam and wanted to address my weight frustrations with my doctor. I’ve been asking my PCP for years why I can’t lose weight and she never offers any advice or blood work; she just shrugs and says it’s not a big deal. Maybe to her, it’s not a big deal, but for me, it feels like I am constantly working hard to be healthy and my weight stays the same. I want to be within the normal amounts on the BMI and not just slightly above, so it is important to me to be able to lose a little weight to get there.

When the new year started, I went back to yoga and was eating healthier. I felt like I wanted to put the healthiest of foods into my system and while I saw a change in how my clothes fit and noticed that my strength was increasing and 5k times were decreasing, I did not see any movement on the scale. How frustrating! I know that non-scale victories are important and I am typically all about them but when you’re trying to drop 15 pounds to hit a goal, they don’t seem as important.

At my annual, my doctor told me to try WW. She’d done it the previous summer when she wanted to lose 10 pounds. Apparently, she’d gone to a conference with a nutritionist who recommended it due to the nature of the glycemic index of the foods. Okay, I figured this seemed good enough and I gave it a go. I ordered the app and started using it.

The app is easy enough and the setup with the zero point foods works well for me. I learned that most of the foods I naturally eat are zero point foods and it seems that where I lose my healthy eating is when I miss lunch and then start to snack at about 2PM and that lasts until dinner where I continue to eat and eat and eat. This is a trend that I noticed pretty quickly (and was aware of it to some extent before this). I used the app from June-August with minimal deliberate exercise (walking the dog and at the beach, mostly) and lost just under 10 pounds. This was good enough for me.

I think that there is value to the program but I can also see how it could feel restrictive or too tightly wound. I am considering canceling this month and using my instincts in September. When we did Whole30, I was able to largely cut out snacking unless I’m actually hungry, which is good and with this, I need to keep in mind that even if I’m not super hungry at lunch, I need to eat. I am thinking that being armed with these pieces of information can help me devise my own plan that mixes pieces of what I want and need.

While I can appreciate the approach, and I see that it definitely works, I think that I need something a bit more fluid. I don’t want to be tracking calories or points or anything else with any regularity. I think that I need to find the balance I once had where I could eat anything but I can’t eat everything; that is the mindset that works best for me.

My goal for September is going to be to eat more salads and raw vegetables with the Greek yogurt ranch for lunches. Dinners are typically loaded with vegetables anyway, but I’d like to get more during the day. I also want to try and keep the frozen foods I like more for weekend treats. We love to do Sunday Funday Football foods — wings; wontons; dips… I want to keep the rest of the week simple: stews, soups, meat & potatoes, etc all with vegetables. I’m looking forward to getting back to the cookbooks in the fall and finding meals that work for us all while lacing an occasional Sunday brunch at home in there (complete with sparking juice and fanc-i-fied meals).

So, while I think WW has been a good summer experiment and I think it’s a good way to start and evaluate what and how I eat, it is likely not something I’ll want to continue long term.

 

 

 

june reflections, july goals

Oh, man. June was not what I thought it would be in terms of health goals and really anything else aside from cupcake consumption. I only went to yoga a couple of times and really only could commit to my weekly 5K (except for the last week of the month). There were a lot of trips (VT & Disney to name two of them) that threw me off of my routine and once I’m off, I always struggle to get back into a routine.

My 5K times for June continued to improve with my personal best time of 28:44. I am planning to pick up my weekly 5K this week. I missed last week because we were in Disney and logged 40 miles on foot for the week (and that was with three resort days)!

I put my yoga classes on hold for August, but am planning to get there for the weekends. There is a lot of roadwork between my house and Boston now and the commute in has been more stressful driving and a solid 90 minutes if I take the MBTA. I think it being tourist season causes stress on getting in and through the city, so I am going to try to get there the weekends this month and then may try a studio closer to home to see if I like it there enough to go regularly.

Our vacations were great! I wrote about my BIL’s birthday already and will recap our Disney trip when I have a few minutes. Finally, the Boston weather is rain free for a few days and I plan on capitalizing it by hitting the beach every single day this week! I took 3 yesterday to a local beach and with the high being 74, I decided we’d just go and play in the sand. I always seem to forget how hot it can feel being in the sun, so I told him to just go into the water in his clothes. We had a blast!

Today, we are going to a different beach (basically, the plan for the week — each day a new beach!) and are going to pack lunch and some snacks and will wear our bathing suits. I can’t wait!

In addition to the beach goals for July and scaling back on my exercise goals to weekly 5Ks and weekend yoga; I want to pay closer attention to my nutrition. I started doing Weight Watchers and it’s been going well. I am eating more carbs that I have been in the last several years and am losing weight and actually feeling pretty great. I lost five pounds in June with excessive cupcake consumption, so I’m interested in seeing what July brings (though, in truth, both my husband’s and my birthdays are mid-month, so I’m sure there will be plenty of cake to go around this month too). I plan to write about my experience with this and my ‘why’ when I have some free time because it’s been a lot more freeing than Whole30 was for me…

Lastly, meal prep. I am pretty much throwing meal planning out the window aside from buying a good bit of shrimp, chicken, burgers/hot dogs and a then a bunch of vegetables, because we’ve been grilling nightly and it’s nice to have less planning in the summer but still have really healthy meals. Last night, we marinated some chicken and grilled that along with asparagus and corn on the cob; the night before, we grilled shrimp and peppers and made fajita pitas (SO GOOD). Summer cooking is so much easier. Tonight, we are doing a different marinade for chicken, grilled zucchini and more corn on the cob. I can’t wait!

Here’s to hoping July is as freeing as I need it to be but that I also am able to hold myself accountable to the few workouts a week that I’m planning.

may reflections, june goals

May has been a great month for personal growth and movement! First, I landed a big consulting gig and am working to develop a charter school proposal for a group on the west coast. Second, my exercise was consistent. I started 5K Fridays and I took a big challenge on and decided to try back-to-back yoga classes. I was really intimidated by taking a 90-min class but I’ve survived and I am seeing strength increase in my body; my second class on Tuesdays is a yin class where I drape myself over various props for an hour and leave feeling like I can float away! It’s a great combo and it seems to be balancing my body well. My nutrition is improving as well; I talked to my doctor about my concerns and she gave me some ideas, so I am going to try that out in June and see how things go.

I am really proud of myself for my consistency around cardio this month. I tried to lock myself into a routine of:
– 1.5 miles + weights (Monday)
– 90 min hot yoga & 60 min yin yoga (Tuesday)
– 1 mile + weights (Wednesday)
– off (Thursday)
– 5K (Friday)
– 90 min hot yoga (Saturday)
– 90 min vinyasa & deep relaxation (Sunday)

The Sunday class is a great way to wind down after the busy week. The poses are slower and held longer and then there are props at the end for a restorative portion. I feel like this is a great combination of exercise for me and if I’m feeling burnt out or over-run, it’s easy to drop the 90-min class on Tuesday or Wednesday’s run.

Now to discuss the 5K Fridays — my goal around this is to eventually (in winter) get to a weekday 5K. I have a plan to slowly ramp up to that, figuring that I’m outside walking around a lot more in the summer and the winter added exercise should be able to help me better maintain my health. At the end of 2018, I would rarely attempt a 5K. My mile time was about 11:45 for one; 12:30 pace for two; and 13:30 for three. On Instagram, there’s a man who started to run a 5k a day — this is really what gave me the confidence to start working towards that. I was really thrilled with the work I’ve put in 2019 to improve my physical health.

My 5K splits for May are as follows:
May 3, 29:51
May 11, 29:26 (Saturday instead of Friday; Mother’s Day plans had me alter schedule)
May 17, 29:24
May 24, 29:15
May 31, N/A (I told myself all day that I’d tough it out despite feeling run-down thanks to my allergies but at the end of the day, I decided to forgo the last one. I’ll pick it back up next Friday.)

I know for people who are fast, this may not seem like much, but to me it’s huge. I’ve never broken 30 minutes for a 5K; not even when I was in high school and ran track (and was far more fit). This tells me that I am doing something right and that my consistency is paying off.

When I went to the doctor last week, I talked about how I’m seeing a change. I’m definitely getting faster and stronger (I can lift more and certain poses in yoga that I couldn’t do before are easier for me to flow through); my pants are getting looser; and I’m seeing more definition in my muscles; however, my weight is steadfast and isn’t changing. This is when she introduced I look into a low-glycemic diet. She shared her experience doing this last summer and said it made a difference. She told me that as we get older, exercise isn’t going to be enough to move the scale. So, I’ve done my research and am focusing on foods that are natural and whole. This is something that we do a decent amount of but we also rely on takeout/delivery far more than we should. I think that this will help to stay focused on healthier.

My goals for June are to continue a yoga schedule similar to above — travel will make it difficult to get there week to week but I’m confident I will figure it out and get in as many classes as I can (or fill in with self-practice at home). I like the contrast of the heated vinyasa class, which is quick and challenging with the yin yoga, which leaves me feeling floaty and relaxed. Saturday’s class is similar to Tuesday’s heated one and Sunday strikes a great balance between them all. I think that these classes all support the cardio I’m doing.

My running goals will adjust for June a bit:
Mondays, 2 miles + weights
Wednesdays, 1 mile + weights
Fridays, 5k
If, for some reason, I have to skip weekday workouts, then I at least want to make sure that I get the 5k in.

Beyond fitness and health, I’d like to get back to reading more. I have a handful of books that have gone untouched since the semester picked up. Ideally, I’d go down to the beach and read but the weather hasn’t supported that. I’m hoping to get back into reading this month and to continue on my writing. I’d like to shift some and focus more about parenting adventures — for whatever reason, I never get the details/tone right when trying to write about something that’s happened. Hopefully, I can start to work on that.

Overall, I think that my goals are attainable and I’m looking forward to seeing what June brings!

april to may

April was a really busy month for us! We hosted my parents twice; my husband ran the Boston Marathon (so proud); we hosted Easter… The kids started state testing in April and that continues through May, as do field trips and end of year activities. We are checking out a Parochial pre-school program for 3 on Sunday and while soccer’s been delayed a week due to rain, we have that on the horizon as well.

I have found that blogging has really helped me stay accountable to myself and continue to prioritize my health and wellness. It’s truly been a gift! This is the first area I’m going to discuss. My diet went a little out of control over the month of April; more meals out than usual and with company, richer foods than what my body’s used to. While I didn’t gain any weight, I definitely gained some bloat/puffiness, so I’m hoping in May to dial it back a little and get back to eating how I prefer to eat — largely gluten and dairy free, reduced grains, and lots of vegetables/fruits (and potatoes) with a moderate amount of meat, which I’d like to start swapping some out for seafood for lunch. My goal for May is to also continue making mostly good choices that don’t leave me feeling puffy on date nights. We try to go out weekly and it’s tough to always choose the healthier options but I think I mostly do a good job… sometimes, though, you have to have the shrimp quesadilla.

Further, I want to stay with my exercise goals. I track my exercise on the MapMyRun app. I’ve been using it for about 10 years now (back when it was just a website). Currently, I have two goals in place: Run 3 miles a week and Exercise for 3 hours a week. While I did not meet the 3-hour weekly work out (feel short two weeks, 2.19 & 2.24 hours), I did meet my 3 mile goal weekly. Today, I talked myself into just running half a mile to meet that goal and should have 3 hours of time completed after tomorrow’s yoga.

For May, I want to increase my mileage goal to 4 miles per week and maintain the 3 hour workout goal. Most of that time comes from yoga, which is tough because I’ve realized that the night classes are really rough on my body — I get home around 9PM and am more than ready for dinner, so I end up eating more than I typically would and I go to sleep too late/ wake up sluggish and exhausted. My semester ends on May 13th, so Monday nights will get back to normal then. Otherwise, I’ve decided to take one fewer yoga class a week. The yin class I take is really great, so I don’t want to drop that one; therefore, I’ll keep my Tuesday night class but will drop my Friday night class. I will keep Saturday and Sunday morning/early afternoon classes. I figure if I feel I can get to a Friday (or any other night) class or double up a T/Sa/Su class, then that’s great but otherwise, I will still get regular practice in.

For our anniversary (today), my husband got me a yoga bolster and two more blocks. I’m really excited because I think I can do restorative yoga at home now and it’s my goal to do that on Friday nights to come down from the busy week.

At the end of May, my husband and I are doing a staycation in the city while my MIL stays with the kids for a few days. I can walk to my yoga studio and my husband is doing a half marathon that weekend, so we are planning to stay active. We also got Red Sox tickets, which should be fun!

All in all, I hope that May can shape into a great month for us. I am really looking forward to seeing the pre-school for 3. 11 has a big field trip on Monday to a ropes course and he’s really excited about it.

Do you have anything fun planned for May?