July (31-Day) Salad Challenge

Tomorrow is the 1st day of July and I’m proposing to try a new salad a day for 31 days… this could include purchased or homemade salads. Because its too hot to turn on the oven and I’m a little obsessed with different ways to get my veggies into my diet. I’ll try to blog a few days a week with pictures and recipes.  If you have any good recipes or favorite salad spots please post them as a comment, thanks! Let the eating begin…

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Summertime BBQ Season

It’s that time of year where everyone is heating up their barbeques and getting together with family and friends to enjoy the summertime.  I will sometimes have a hard time finding foods to eat when I attend other people’s BBQ’s because I’m picky and unfortunately I know exactly how many calories and fat is in all of the food choices, so I always make sure I bring something that I like to eat.  And this recipe just so happens to get eaten up by everyone:

Strawberry, Candied Walnut, Goat Cheese (optional) Salad

Ingredients:

Organic spring mix (or spinach)

Fresh Strawberries

Candied Walnuts (Ingredients – raw walnuts – 1 ½ cups, sugar – ½ cup, and salt – few pinches)

Goat Cheese (optional – note that a little of this goes a long way)

Balsamic dressing (I prefer Trader Joe’s Fat Free version)

First off, I make the candied walnuts by putting them on a baking sheet (oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 5 minutes.  Then you allow them to cool.  While those are cooling I slice the strawberries so that they look nice and I typically leave the ends out.  Once the walnuts cool you can put the sugar in a pan on medium to high heat.  Once the sugar starts to caramelize (nice light brown color), you turn off the heat and add the walnuts coating them using a wood spoon.  Before the sugar cools completely I lay down a piece of parchment paper or wax paper with a little cooking spray on top and pull them apart.  Sprinkle a few pinches of salt on top and let them cool completely.  Once you are ready to serve the salad put all the ingredients in a large bowl including the dressing.

I love this salad because it’s delicious and easy!  The combination of fresh strawberries and greens, crunchiness from the walnuts, creaminess from the goat cheese, and all mixed together with the balsamic dressing… my mouth is watering, ENJOY!

Sugar in pan (before melted)

Sugar melting in the pan

Sugar melting in the pan

Homemade candied walnuts

Tossed Salad - Yum!

Namaste

Barefoot Running Part II

I figured I haven’t done an update in awhile about barefoot running so I thought I’d take the time to update you on my ‘training’.  According to the kindle, I’m half-way down with ‘Born to Run,’ the book that started my motivation to run barefoot (http://www.chrismcdougall.com/).  At the rate I’m going. I’ll be done by Labor Day (haha)!  Well hopefully not, its a good read I’m just a little busy with working full-time and being a mommy and actually getting my workouts/yoga practice in… But I’m reading at least one chapter a night so I’ll get there someday! Anyhow… I am still only at about 3-miles but I have to say I haven’t had any problems with my hips so far, which was where I previously injured myself.  I actually ran for the first time in a long time without a jogging stroller and I have to say I was fast!  I couldn’t believe how much energy I had running up and down the hills without that stroller which made me think that stroller training is a great cross-workout to prepare your body for racing. I’m not a big racer but I’d like to start participating so I can keep myself motivated.   In fact, I’m planning on training for the Santa Clarita Half Marathon which takes place in November.  I’ll officially start increasing my mileage around mid-July and hopefully I’ll have more to share about barefoot running and the effects its had on my body.  I’ll continue my cross-training with weight lifting and yoga practice, to help prevent injury during my 1/2 marathon training.

I know some people might think I’m crazy for loving to run but until you commit yourself to getting out there and doing it you will never know the joy it brings you.  In fact, I use my running time to self-reflect, meditate, and relax.  Who needs therapy when you have running?  For someone like me who is always on the go this is a great opportunity to take control of your day and get a workout while relaxing through running.  I like to focus on my breathing (just like in yoga) when I’m struggling up a hill or have the desire to walk… Let’s kick off the first day(s) of Summer (June 21st) and take your workout outdoors!

What is ‘Fit’?

I often have this discussion with my husband because he is in the fitness industry and I am trying to get into the industry.  What do people perceive as ‘fit’?  Is it the physical or the mental attitude?  There are some people out there that are naturally built ‘fit’ and have a look to them that says they look ‘fit’ when perhaps they don’t even workout.  I read shape and fitness magazine once in awhile and I often look at the women in that magazine and wonder if they even workout.  I prefer to see pictures of curvy women like myself because that is what I relate to.  What do you think?

Most people think of yoga instructors as having bodies like a ballerina.  Or at least that’s what I used to think…  But the beauty of yoga is that it’s for people of all shapes and sizes.  When I did my 200-hours for yoga teacher training there were all different ages, shapes, and sizes.  The one thing we all had in common was our passion for yoga.  I loved this because it made it that much easier to feel comfortable around the group.  I myself have a curvy figure and after baby I’m happy with my size 6 body.  Maybe I’ll get back down to a size 4 one day but I know that that might not be realistic for this time in my life.  It’s not that I don’t care about being in better shape it’s that I would rather spend my time playing and watching my son grow and develop than working out 2 hours a day (like I used to do pre-baby).  I live a very healthy lifestyle and I think that that’s what keeps me strong and healthy to be able to take care of my family.  Isn’t that what life is all about?  To feel good about ourselves inside and out!

But don’t think it’s just a woman thing…  My husband asks me, do you think people look at me and think I’m ‘fit’?  And of course I say ‘yes,’ because he is my husband and I love him but I can’t speak for others.  My husband is long and lean and working out is something that he does every day along with eating food and drinking water, it just happens!  I think most men would kill to have his body but when you compare him to a body builder, maybe he looks small.  6 foot, 3 inches tall, 200 lbs, and he looks small?  Yea, well, next to a body builder he might, but he eats a clean diet and exercises in a safe way while pushing himself to his maximum potential.  I might be biased but I think he is one of the ‘fittest’ people I know, especially when it comes to the world of strength and conditioning.  I remember when he was a personal trainer it was hard because while he had a masters degree and all the knowledge, clients would choose the un-educated ‘body builder’ type over him.  Good thing he’s no longer a personal trainer!  I couldn’t imagine growing old in that industry if your body was your #1 selling point.  But we all see those older men and women trying to keep up in an industry made for the young and beautiful.  In those situations it’s definitely about the physical and not the mental.  Maybe next time you hire a trainer or coach you’ll think about asking for their credentials, instead of how much they can bench?  You’ve heard this before but, never judge a book by its cover… Sorry for getting off-track a bit, back to being ‘fit’…

Perhaps we should stop reading magazines and comparing ourselves to the men and women in there that probably don’t even workout and start trying to be the best that we can be.  Establish your own mindset of what being ‘fit’ is for you!  And if you aren’t there yet, than set small steps to get yourself there…  My hopes are that others can relate to my strengths and weaknesses so that they can have someone to relate to.  In my opinion, being ‘fit’ isn’t about a size it’s about an attitude.  Maybe someone that is a size 2 would disagree?  Maybe someone out there believes ‘fit’ is a size 0-2 (period), and they believe there are no other characteristics that being ‘fit’ encompasses.  This is a blog and I am entitled to my opinion so I’d say my definition of ‘fit’ is someone that lives a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eats a clean diet that includes a variety of foods.  They stay away from things that aren’t good for them like drugs and smoking, but on occasion will indulge in things like alcohol (red wine) and chocolate (dark) that have some health benefits.  What’s your definition?

Pedometer Challenge – Day 1

My day job has an amazing wellness program that offers a lot of different opportunities for employees to stay healthy on and off the job.  I have been participating on this committee since 2009 and one of our biggest events each year is the Pedometer Challenge.  Each employee volunteers to sign up for this competition and receives a free pedometer to use for the month.  The goal is to hit at least 10,000 steps a day or more and log each day.  The logs are collected each week and tallied.  We compete against other business units within the company and a trophy is earned by the business unit that logs the most steps.  During the last challenge I was able to win the top prize because I dedicated myself 100% to the competition.  This time will be a little bit different because I have not only myself to take care of but my son.  My goal is to hit at least 20,000 steps/day.  If I am able to hit this goal I will be awarded a $50 Nike gift card.  I think that’s a pretty good incentive.  Some of the ways that I plan to increase my mileage is by waking  up and running before work (and before anyone in my house is awake), walking on my breaks and/or lunchtime, walking the dog after work, and going on a run in the evening with the jogging stroller.  I’m going to log my measurements before and after to see if I lose any inches during this challenge.  Yes, you can lose weight very quickly with diet but exercise will allow you to change the shape of your body and that’s why I’m not using the scale as a part of my measurement.

Hips (butt) – 39.5 inches

Chest – 30 inches

Waist – 29 inches

Arm (left) – 10.5 inches

Thigh (left) – 23.5 inches

Calf (left) – 14.75 inches

I challenge you to try this challenge for at least 3-weeks.  It takes 3-weeks to make a habit.  Push yourself to get moving.  Walking is one of the simplest, safest, and cheapest ways to exercise.  You can obtain a pedometer at any store (i.e. wal-mart, target, sports chalet, etc.).  They range in price from $5-$40.  Log your steps each night and strive to hit 10,000 steps/day.  And at the end of the month reward yourself with a massage or gift card to your favorite store.  Why 10,000 steps?  The Surgeon General recommends that adults get at least 10,000 steps per day.  Increasing your activity level is a great way to help prevent and reduce the effects of obesity and heart disease.  The average person’s stride length is approximately 2.5 feet long. That means it takes just over 2,000 steps to walk one mile, and 10,000 steps is close to 5 miles.  If you are in very poor physical condition or at any point you feel that you are progressing too rapidly, slow down a bit and try smaller increases. If you have any health concerns seek your physician’s advice prior to starting or changing your exercise routine.   Good Luck!

Baby Yogi

I think my favorite part about being a new mom is having the opportunity to watch my baby develop and grow.  He is moving closer and closer to crawling each day and I realized his development runs like a yoga class…

Sukhasana – seated pose

close enough... right?

Childs pose

Cat/Cow

This one needs the motion, so try using your imagination

Cobra

Upward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog/Plank

Reclining Big Toe

At Mommy and Me yoga 🙂

Wide Angled Seated Forward Bend

And maybe a foot in the mouth...

Pigeon

He's got pretty good form if you ask me!

Legs up the wall

Or legs up the hamper, same thing right?

Happy Baby

Corpse pose

Ending this 'practice' with my sweet little newborn yawning on the changing table 🙂

Looks like we were all meant to be yogi’s… Now give it a try, can you do these simple poses?  Try to hold each pose for at least 5 full breaths.

Namaste