Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Margaret's Southern California Trip

Do you notice the recurring theme? Meg spent most of our So Cal trip on in the backpack. She didn't seem to mind.

If you want to read tidbits about The Wedding, you can go here, here, and here. I'm afraid I haven't had time to do it justice.


Dear blog, I have missed you. I have missed writing blog posts, reading others' blog posts, and reading comments. I have missed having a forum like this to share my thoughts, struggles, victories, failures, fears, ideals, and ridiculous mothering moments. I have missed feeling connected to people all over the world who are trying to be the best mothers they can be and who are willing to admit that it's not always perfect.

I'm not sure how I'm going to get back into blogging without giving up something vitally important to me like eating, sleeping, or showering, but I really want to make time for this in my life. I'm not ready to make a commitment here, but you should know that I am determined to find a way. I don't know if I have any out there reading anymore, but I need this regardless.

However, I am here today to make a commitment to you, whoever you are. It is not about blogging, but about something else that is important to me. Something that needs to change. It is about my struggle with getting regular workouts into my life. There are several reasons that this has not been happening-- five of them live at my house and expect to be fed and clothed and educated and overseen during all of their waking hours. But there is more to it than that-- I have really been working to focus my energies (and time) on the things that are most important to me, and sadly, I have let exercise slide waaaaaaaay down that list. On a daily basis, it doesn't seem as important as at least half a dozen other things that I am trying to do with regularity, but I know it is going to be impossible for me to be healthy and live at a healthy weight if I don't make it fit.

I've resolved so many times to change. I set goals to exercise 3x a week, or 4 x a week or every single day. I set goals to lose 1 lb a week or 5 lbs a month or 50 lbs in a year. But life catches up with me and I have a bad week or two and then those goals are cast aside and it takes me weeks or months to recommit.

This year I am doing it differently. This year, I set a goal to run 500 miles. And to RUN a 5k. This is a huge deal for me, as I'm not a runner. But I want to be a person who runs. I know that running on a regular basis will help with weight loss, which I really need. I may not ever love running, but I know that if I work on it, I can build up my endurance. At the moment, it looks something like this for 2 miles: jog jog jog walk jog jog walk jog jog walk walk jog walk walk walk jog jog walk walk jo- walk walk walk walk jog.

When I went out today during Jared's lunch break, I saw a little montage in my head as if they were making a movie of my journey. Today I am an overweight jogger, bouncing and jiggling all over the place and gasping for air after a quarter mile, wanting so desperately to walk instead. But in my mind, I could see the weight dropping off, the jiggles firming up, my form improving and the distance I run getting better. This little image helped me keep going, although it was occasionally interrupted by the other movie-in-my-head where someone finds me collapsed on the side of the road unconscious and wonders why I went out to run without any ID or a cell phone. Yes, I am a bit dramatic-- why do you ask?

Here's my plan: I will run an average of 10 miles per week. During January and February, it will count if I run for half the distance and walk briskly the other half. After that, only miles run will count towards my total. I expect that at first, this will mean five 2-mile runs a week, but will eventually be three 3 1/3 mile runs or two 5 mile runs (could I do that?) in a week, which will allow me to do other workouts sometimes as well.

This plan means that although bad weeks will come, weeks where the entire household is ravaged by flu or weeks when I have too much to do, if I let them stop me from exercising, I'll be piling on miles to make up later. And instead of setting a "resolution", which has such connotations for "wish" that might never be met, I am committing to you that I will do it. I'm going to put a ticker on my blog so you can see my progress. Sadly, it's not much to brag about so far, but it's going to get better.

So please check my ticker once in a while. If you see me, ask me how many miles I've run. And if you pass me huffing and puffing on the road, just look the other way and let me keep my dignity:) My running in 2011 should look a whole lot different.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January Menu

Don't you just love January? I do. It offers a clean start, a fresh look at my life. I love the holidays, but I really love clearing away all the decorations, which by January 1st just look like clutter, and brushing away the cobwebs of neglected habits and duties in my life. I love the feeling that this can be the year that I accomplish something I have always wanted to do.

My goals each new year generally include weight loss. As someone who loves making and eating good food, I also struggle to maintain a healthy weight. This year, my outlook is a little different. Although I hope to lose weight, my goal this year is to focus more on being healthy and to develop a healthier relationship with food, especially sweets. I want to help my family eat more vegetables and whole grains and less sugar and meat. I want us all to move our bodies more, to make them stronger, leaner, and more powerful. I want to take better care of this gift that God has given me, rather than resent my imperfect body.

With that in mind, I planned a menu yesterday for the first week or two of the year. Creating menus before I do my grocery shopping is one of those habits that I used to have before the holidays--one that needed to be dusted off before it was completely shelved.:) When I mentioned on facebook that I was headed out for the ingredients for my new, healthy menu, I had several requests that I share.

So, in planning my family's meals, I tried to keep in mind our family's goals of increasing whole grain and vegetables while reducing sugar and meat. I'll also count my cal0ries and avoid overeating (most days) on Your family's goals for eating may be different; if your goal is high protein or gluten-free or as low fat as possible, this may not be the menu for you. But if you just need a menu to help you kick start cooking meals for your family again, check out mine.

Instead of assigning these meals to a specific day, I planned seven complete meals, which I plan to serve over the next 10 days before we head out of town for my brother's wedding. Some days we'll just eat leftovers or throw together a salad. Each morning, I'll choose the meal that meets my needs in terms of time commitment for that day.

  • Meal #1: Potato Leek Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches and fresh fruit (Recipe comes from one of my Weight Watcher's cookbooks, but I found a blogger who had posted it here.)
  • Meal #2: Southwest Brown Rice & Black Bean Burgers (from Prudence Pennywise), served with fresh pineapple, guacamole, sweet potato baked fries, and cibatta rolls
  • Meal #3: Garlic Chive Fettucine w/ Sauteed Chickpeas & Parmesan (also Prudence Pennywise). I'll use whole wheat pasta and serve this with crusty, whole grain bread and a small salad. I've made this recipe before and it is DIVINE.
  • Meal #4: Bean & Barley Soup (Cooking Light) with crusty, whole grain bread.
  • Meal #5: Citrus Glazed Chicken Thighs (Cooking Light), served with brown rice, mandarin oranges, and roasted green beans.
  • Meal #6: Butternut Squash Lasagne (Prudence Pennywise, what would I do without you?), green salad, sauteed zucchini, and crusty bread. (Do you see how much we love crusty bread? I will either make my own or pick up a whole grain loaf at Costco or Trader Joe's that day.)
  • Meal #7: Midwestern Corn Chowder (see my recipe below) with fresh whole wheat bread.

Midwestern Corn Chowder
  • 3 cups diced potatoes
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 T. to 4 T. butter
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, fat free half-and-half, or half and half
  • 2-3 pieces of cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (the sharper the better)
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • fresh cilantro for serving
Place the broth in a large saucepan or stock pot. Simmer the vegetables in the chicken broth, with the pan covered, until tender, about 30 minutes. Mix the roux over medium heat in separate medium saucepan, combining butter and flour, then whisking in milk until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, until bubbly and thickening, then add to the broth and vegetables. Add the creamed corn, then salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish each bowl with 1/4 cup shredded cheese, 1 T bacon, and 1-2 T fresh cilantro.

What are your favorite meals in January? Share!!!