November Challenge… Final Thoughts

I completed my November challenge and I’m continuing it for as long as I need (maybe the rest of my life)… Have you ever meditated?  If not, than you are missing out on an amazing opportunity to get to know yourself a little more from within.  I just love the way it helps me sleep a little better at night because I have been doing my meditation right before I go to bed.  I feel lighter and it allows me to fall asleep within just a few minutes of putting my head on the pillow.  I can honestly say I am a better person when I meditate because I can breathe a little bit easier, without any distractions.  Taking your thoughts beyond your daily tasks, worries, hopes, dreams, to another place.  Just to be still without anything clogging your mind.  I think the breathing is probably the most important part of my meditation because that’s how I’m able to relax so much.  I take extra long exhalations to calm my body down.  And if you were trying to wake your body it would be best to take longer inhalations.  Even if you don’t think you can do this every day, I think it’s best if you at least attempt to do it once a week to give your mind a break.  Another tip I have, if you enjoy music, I love the Pandora station:  Calm Meditation.  It has some beautiful music from all over the world and it really brings a nice relaxing, calm feeling to your mediation or yoga practice.  Let me know if you have questions!


Meditation Challenge – half way point…

I’m a little over half way through my meditation challenge and so far I feel like this was one of the best decisions I have made in a long time.  Here is a picture of the things I gather when I’m off to go meditate.

Prayer beads

The Book of Awakening

The prayer beads give me something to focus with my fingers because I get fidgety if I sit for too long.  I use each bead as a deep breath until I reach the very end.  There are exactly 108-beads on this prayer necklace that I received from my ‘secret yogi’ Terren when I was going through my yoga teacher training.  I use each chapter of my book to instill a positive thought for the day and its usually something that I try to bring into my personal life.  Not all of the chapters relate to me and my personal life but I still enjoy reading them.

I have been trying to do this practice in the morning before everyone wakes up but if not, I do it when everyone goes to sleep and the house is quiet and still.  I find it difficult to meditate when there are noises or distractions around, but it would be great if I could get past that challenge and be able to meditate even with distractions.   Unfortunately, I got off track a bit and missed a few days here and there, primarily due to a mini vacation I took with my husband but I plan to go a few days into December to make up for the lost days, and hopefully I will continue even longer than that…

Have you attempted to take on this challenge?  If so, I’d love to hear how it has been going for you!


November Challenge Revealed…

I thought long and hard about this month’s challenge because I wanted it to reflect my lifestyle but incorporate something to help me be a better person.  So I analyzed each of the different challenges and I think I came up with the best challenge for me this month. 

  • 30 days as a vegan – One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving, not only because I get to spend the day with my family but because I get to enjoy my mom’s home cooked meal.  So I knew it would be impossible for me to give up this tradition.  However I will consider this challenge in the spring when there are more fresh produce options and less holidays to interfere with my commitment.
  • 30 days of 100 squats/day – This is a great way to get bikini body ready but I’ll also be in the midst of training for another half marathon and I don’t’ want my sore legs to interfere with my training. 
  • 30 days of 8 or more servings of fruits/vegetables daily – I love this idea especially because it would be fun to get creative with my fruits and vegetables.  Ideas:  Smoothies, fruit and Veggie snacks, salads, Veggie soups, etc…  But I was thinking this challenge is too close to the salad challenge that I just completed in July and I didn’t think the idea was that creative in comparison to some of the other options.
  • 30 days of no bread, rice, pasta, or potatoes – WOW, this would be hard during the holidays… Can you imagine no mashed potatoes or bread on thanksgiving?  I love this idea but I’m not ready to give up these staples for the holidays.  I’ll definitely keep them all in moderation but I can’t deprive myself during the best time of  year!
  • 30 days of no eating out – I love this idea!  My husband and I eat out too much and I’ll bet we  would save a lot of money too if we cooked at home.  Whether my husband likes this or not, I will be attempting this challenge sometime in the spring. 

And the winner is – 30 days of 15 minutes of meditation daily!  I’m really looking forward to this because it’s something that I have always wanted to pursue because the times that I do meditate I feel so much more calm and relaxed and what better time to do it than the holidays?  During the week I will get up an additional 20 minutes before I usually get up to read a chapter from my  book (The Book of Awakening), and then follow it with a 10 minute meditation session.  I have completed both an exercise and a food challenge so this time I have decided to improve on my mind.  If you are interested in participating too, take some time out of your day to get away from your cell phone, desk, television, or any other distraction and reflect on your life.  Use breathing techniques to relax your body and set a timer for 15 minutes.  Close your eyes and meditate for 15 minutes every day in the month of November.


What’s my next 30-day Challenge?

Its only the beginning of October and I’m already thinking about November and preparing myself for another month-long challenge. I had so much fun with both the pedometer and salad challenge that I’m ready for something new and exciting to look forward to… Here are some of the ideas I was thinking of:

  • 30 days as a vegan
  • 30 days of 15 minutes of meditation daily
  • 30 days of 100 squats/day
  • 30 days of 8 or more servings of fruits/vegetables daily
  • 30 days of no bread, rice, pasta, or potatoes
  • 30 days of no eating out

what are your thoughts on which challenge I should pursue and blog about in the month of November? I’d love to keep relaxed and calm through the holidays with 15 minutes/day of mediation but I’d also love to get bikini body ready since we are going to Maui in January. I look forward to your responses! My official challenge will be posted the 1st day of November…

Salad Challenge Week #4 07/23/11 – 07/31/11

The challenge is over!  This was the hardest part of the challenge, the final week and finding enough recipes to complete this month (without repeating).  I had such a fun time preparing the meals and looking for new ideas that I’m going to continue this for as long as I can… I feel great that I am able to get so many vegetables into my diet and that I can pass that onto my husband (and baby).  Let me know if you come across and new and exciting recipes!  I will certainly update if I find anything new that I feel I have to share with everyone 🙂

July 23, 2011

Wood Ranch barbeque – Natalie’s Salad

This was a typical busy Saturday where we made a last minute decision on our take-out dinner.  I love this salad but it might not be the healthiest of choices.  However, I don’t think they have a lot of ‘healthy’ options at this barbecue joint… its all about good homestyle cooking!

July 24, 2011

Mango Salsa Chicken Salad

This was a last minute throw together salad and since I’ve had a little bit of an obsession with mangoes lately I figured why not get my favorite Mango, papaya salsa from Trader Joes, marinade some chicken (barbecue), add bell pepper, carrots, avocado, more salsa, Daiya (pepper jack favored) ‘cheese’ and of course organic spring mix and enjoy!

July 25, 2011

Organic Steak salad

Simple but good!

July 26, 2011

California Pizza Kitchen Miso Shrimp Salad (half portion)

Happy Birthday to me!  The last year in my 20’s and I get to enjoy one of my favorite salads.  Although the portion size looks small, don’t be fooled because it has a lot of great flavor and is very filling.

July 27, 2011

Scallop and Prawn Salad at TPC (tournament players club Valencia)

This is one of the nicest restaurants in Valencia and just so happens to be where my husband and I got married.  My parents are members at this club so we have been here a handful of times and this night we were celebrating my 29th birthday.   The shellfish is served on top of a bed of baby greens with sliced red onions, daikon sprouts, shaved carrots, avocado, topped with tortilla strips, and mango vinaigrette.

July 28, 2011

Caprese Salad

No, I don’t typically eat a lot of cheese but I made an exception for this recipe which can be either an appetizer or a meal.  I love the combination though of fresh tomatoes and mozzarella!  I didn’t have any but it tastes amazing with a little fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.

No, this is not my image but a great example of what a caprese salad looks like 😉

July 29, 2011

Cartwheel Salad – Stonefire Grill

You probably remember from the beginning of the month we had the garden salad from Stonefire, well today I had the Cartwheel salad which is probably my favorite salad they offer there.

July 30, 2011

Chinese ‘Chicken’ Salad – with Tofu instead of Chicken

This salad is from Elephant bar and has great flavor even with tofu instead of chicken. My husband eats the chicken version and he enjoys it too.

(No Photo)

July 31, 2011

Salmon Salad

Today was the last day of the salad challenge which included Cajun salmon, greens, mixed vegetables, and jalapeno – garlic homemade croutons. Bon Appetit!

Salmond Salad

Salad Challenge Week #3 07/16/11 – 07/22/11

Week #3 is here and I am loving this challenge!  I hate to admit this but I usually gain weight in the summer months but this summer is very different because I’m moving more and making vegetables my main ingredient in my meals (including a smoothie for breakfast with spinach).

July 16, 2011

Garden Salad with homemade quinoa burger – Burger Lounge in San Diego

WOW!  This was my first time eating at the Burger Lounge and it was delicious… I highly recommend if you are ever in San Diego to try this salad or a sandwich.  Everything was very fresh and the place was very clean.

Thank you Stephanie for the recommendation!

July 17, 2011

Soupplantation – the original salad bar

With all this salad eating I had a craving for the ‘original’ salad bar – soupplantation.  I usually try and fill up on the greens so I’m too full to try too much of the other stuff.  But I did share some pasta primavera and a baked potato with the baby 🙂

July 18, 2011

Taco Salad with Organic Ground Beef

This is kind of a staple in our weekly menu’s.  We usually go back and forth between organic beef tacos and organic beef taco salad.  But I like incorporating these recipes into the challenge because it is a part of our life.  Probably one of the easiset and I served homemade baked Chips and homemade Guacamole for an appetizer.  The ingredients for this salad include – ground beef (cooked with a combo of lime, pepper salsa and taco seasoning), homemade baked tortilla strips, guacamole, black beans, green peppers, tomatoes, and salsa (used as the salad dressing).

July 19, 2011

Barbeque Chicken Chopped Salad (@ Home)

You now know I won’t eat chicken unless its organic so I never get to enjoy all the different types of BBQ chicken salad’s out there.  So I decided to make it for dinner and it included – spring mix, BBQ chicken, light ranch dressing, tomatoes, pea tendrils (my new favorite ingredient), black beans, and corn.  I need to learn how to make my own ranch dressing though…

July 20, 2011

Pear and Goat cheese Salad

This recipe was actually given to me by a friend (thanks JD)!  I made this for lunch because I had plans for a company dinner in the evening.  It included mixed greens, pears (I used canned), goat cheese, sliced almonds, pea tendrils, and my favorite fat free balsamic vinaigrette (Trader Joe’s).  She actually has a recipe for a homemade dressing (vinegar, olive oil, honey, paprika, salt, and pepper), but I didn’t have enough time to put it together before I left for the day.  Either way it was delicious!

July 21, 2011

Chinese chicken Salad Bowl

Marinated the chicken in the crockpot with teryaki sauce, cooked some brown rice in the rice cooker, sauted some vegetables (broccoli and asparagus) with some olive oil and teriyaki sauce in a pan on the stovetop.  After it was completed I plated it starting at the bottom with lettuce, brown rice, vegetables, and shredded chicken.  To be honest, I totally made this recipe up because I was just going to make a chinese chicken salad but I knew my husband would complain there weren’t enough carbohydrates on the plate.  Unfortunately, out of this entire month I have only had one miss and that was today.  The reason it was a miss was because I sauted the vegetables in teriyaki and they lost their flavor.  I would steam the veggies next time and find a yummy teriyaki drizzle to pour over the top for garnish and a little extra flavor.

July 22, 2011

Chipotle Veggie Salad Bowl

Once again it’s Frid-YAY!  And that means… no cooking 🙂  Therefore we decided to have Chipotle.  I love the philosophy around this restaurant because they offer fresh, whole ingredients, with no secrets because everything is right in front of you as they prepare your plate.

Sorry for this poor iphone image 😦

Salad Challenge Week #2 (07/08/11 – 07/15/11)

July 8th, 2011

Cucumber, avocado, and tomato salad

As most people are on a Friday night of a long work week, I was hungry and tired and looking for something both satisfying and easy for dinner!  I chopped up some cucumber, avocado, and tomatoes.  Tossed these ingrediens with equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some seasonings (oregano, parsley, pepper).  I finished it off by adding some pinenuts for a little protein and served it like brushchetta with some toast.

July 9th, 2011

I had some of my favorite ladies over for a tea party and one of my best friends made the recipe I featured on a blog  a few weeks ago – Strawberry, walnut, and goat cheese salad.

July 10th, 2011

Couscous tabouli salad (found on the back of the Trader Joe’s couscous box but I improvised)

This was a delicous salad that I definetly plan to make again.  It starts off with sauteing some finely chopped vegetables (tomatoes, squash, bell pepper, onion) in a pan for 5-10 minutes.  Make a full serving of couscous.  Add 6 tbsp of olive oil and the sauteed vegetables and plate it on top of a bed of spring mix.  We served this with some cajun salmon and it was perfect!

July 11th , 2011

Country Italian Salad – Trader Joe’s

This is a great lunchtime salad but it doesn’t have alot of calories so it doesn’t fill me up till dinner.  I usually need a few snacks afterwards before dinnertime (i.e. fruit, almonds, etc.)

July 12th, 2011

For lunch I had my favorite super spinach salad but since the challenge was to have a different salad every day I decided to make something different for dinner.  We had vegetable and orzo salad (a spin off of the couscous salad I made the other night).  This included orzo, yellow squash, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, goat cheese, olive oil, and seasoning.  I served it along side pan seared Sea Bass.

July 13th, 2011

Today I made my way to my favorite salad bar at Whole foods.  I figured its almost the weekend and I deserved a day off from prepping my own lunch. In my opinion, salad bars are only good when they are clean and of course fully stocked with different choices.  This salad bar offers everything from your basic toppings to other unique options from all different places around the world.  You can see I added lots of veggies but also included tofu, tabouli, and dolmas.

July 14th, 2011

Only one more day left till the weekend…  Tuna Salad on a bed of lettuce (added tomatoes, hearts of palm, pine nuts, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette)

July 15, 2011

It’s Frid-YAY!  Tonight we decided to have a relaxing meal before our busy weekend at Red Brick Pizza.  They offer a few different salad options but I love their chopped garden salad.

Salad Challenge Week #1 07/01/11 – 07/07/11

We had a busy long weekend and ate out a lot but I found a few places that offered some good salad options:

July 1st, 2011

Stonefire Grill – Garden Salad

A traditional garden salad at a traditional barbeque joint…

please excuse this shot it was taken with my iphone...

July 2nd, 2011

Urbane Cafe – Urbane Cafe Salad with Portabello mushroom (instead of chicken)

My favorite obsession right now!  The combination of spring mix, pears, goat cheese, walnuts, grilled portabello, and balsamic vinaigrette – my mouth is watering just posting this. 🙂

July 3rd, 2011

Wokcano – Seaweed Salad

I’m just realizing that this doesn’t have a whole lot of nutrients as I always thought it did but its low in calories and one of my favorite dishes to order at a Japanese or sushi restaurant.

Kona Krisp – Thai peanut salad with fried shrimp (** I know this isn’t the healthiest salad but they don’t offer any other protein alternative to chicken)

I love this Hawaiian fusion BBQ restaurant I just wish they had more ‘healthy options.’

July 4th, 2011

Shredded Chicken Taco Salad (homemade)

Ingredients – lettuce, carrots, cherry tomatoes, salsa, organic chicken, daiya cheddar cheese, black beans, avocado, homemade crispy tortilla strips

This is a super easy dish to make.  It’s full of protein and delicious veggies and of course my salad dressing is salsa.

July 5th, 2011

Broccoli slaw

Ingredients – broccoli slaw (from Trader Joe’s), crushed cashews, fat free balsamic vinaigrette (TJ’s)

This has to be one of the easiest side salads to make or make it as an entree by adding your favorite meat and some extra veggies.  We had ours as a side to garden burgers and fresh strawberries.

July 6th, 2011

Super Spinach Salad (Trader Joe’s)

My mom introduced me to this salad just a few weeks ago and I’m in love with it!  I use barely a teaspoon of the dressing (very high in calories and fat) but the combination of the veggies and quinoa and seeds is perfect, you won’t be disappointed! 🙂

July 7th, 2011

Homemade ‘Urth’ Salad

A few years back I worked in Beverly Hills and a few doors down from my workplace was Urth Cafe.  If you have never been there I’d highly recommend it!  They offer organic chicken and have the most delicious coffee drinks including Boba.  Since I don’t live close by to any Urth Cafe locations I make my own version of the salad at home.  This includes Organic Spring Mix, goat cheese, carrots, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, hearts of palm, and balsamic vinaigrette.  You can also add garbanzo beans, chicken, or tuna for a little added protein.

please excuse this shot it was taken with my iphone...


Pedometer Challenge – Day 30

The Pedometer Challenge is complete! I walked a total of 654,751 steps in 30 days, and averaged 21,825 Steps/day. I earned my $50 Nike gift card (which was awarded to those that averaged 20,000+ steps/day) which I plan to buy some new workout gear.

Hips – 38.5 inches (6/1/11- 39.5 inches) Total lost = 1 inch

Chest – 29.75 inches (6/1/11- 30 inches) Total lost = .25 inch

Waist – 28.75 inches (6/1/11- 29 inches) Total lost = .25 inch

Arm (left) – 10 inches (6/1/11- 10.5 inches) Total lost = .5 inch

Thigh (left) – 22.5 inches (6/1/11- 23.5 inches) Total lost = 1 inch

Calf (left) – 14.5 inches (6/1/11- 14.75 inches) Total lost = .25 inch

I know I didn’t have a huge change but overall I’m happy with my results (total inches loss = 3.25). I have this quote on my desktop and I can’t remember where I found it (please let me know if you can recall it…) ‘There is no single way to get to where you want to be.  Likewise, there is no magic pill.  It takes time, consistency, attention to detail, and an appreciation of what must get done in the short term in order to attain long-term success.’  I love this!  Knowing that everything has to start somewhere…  I look forward to changing up my workout routine so that it doesn’t revolve around ‘walking’. How did you do? Did you make it the full 30-days? If you didn’t start the challenge try it for the month of July. Make the commitment and you will see results mentally and physically. Happy July!

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…