Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Resolutions - 2013

Suddenly, or not so suddenly, New Years Resolutions have become a topic of debate. Some are against them and some are for them. I, personally, have been making New Years Resolutions for as long as I can remember. While I know that every day is a new chance to resolve a change, there is just something different in my mind about the "new year". Making New Year Resolutions is something I enjoy to do; it makes me feel good. It's a tradition.

With that being said, I have come up with the following resolutions for 2013:

1. Reach goal weight.
My goal weight is 168 lbs. I began my weight loss journey at 268 lbs. It has been a goal of mine since Spring of 2011 to lose 100 lbs. I have done well at losing a majority of my weight and maintained it through the year of 2012. Now, it's time to lose, again! I desperately want to try to conceive again once I reach my goal weight. This is something I would like to do sooner rather than later. I would love to be able to begin trying to conceive before the end of 2013.

2. Eliminate credit card debt.
Since I would like to begin trying to conceive sometime next year, I would love to take that next step while being credit card debt free! There is a large amount of our money going toward our credit cards each month. Once we eliminate that debt, we will actually have money to put in savings for a change. Something that I would love to do before we begin trying to conceive.


3. Enjoy life, just as it is, right now.
Even though I have yet to go a day since my miscarriage without thinking about our future with a child, I desperately want to take a deep breath, step out of myself for a moment and look around. I want to take time each day to enjoy my life, just as it is, right now. My husband and I are blessed with a wonderful home, pets and careers. We enjoy coming home to one another, making dinner and relaxing at night without a crying baby. I know this is something we should be cherishing each day because it will not always be like this. While I am anxious to start our family, I know that now is the time to enjoy each other, just as we are.

So, with that being said, will you be making any New Years Resolutions for 2013?

Friday, December 28, 2012

First Run with my New Forerunner 410

I had to work from home the day after Christmas. Working from home beats a day in the office any time! In the middle of my "work day", I decided to take a break and took my new Forerunner 410 for a test drive run. The weather channel was calling for blizzard conditions starting at 11:00 a.m. I only had a short amount of time before the conditions were less than favorable for this run. I managed to get out there around 10:15 and although it was a cold run, it was a very pretty one at that. There was snow on the ground but the roads were fairly clear. Perfect for my first winter run with my new Forerunner.
 

During my test run with the Garmin Forerunner, I walked for about 4 minutes then I ran for 1 minute. I haven't done any running since October so this was a nice way to ease back in to it. I manually selected "lap" after each interval. I now have learned there is a way to set up a manual workout similar to the one that I just did the other day. I am excited to get the opportunity to run again, soon. I am so happy with my Forerunner 410. The more I learn about the features, the more I love it!


I decided to take some advice from my blog yesterday and tried to eat a snack before going on my run. It did seem to help. I felt a small stitch in my side half way through my run but it may have been from the glass of water I drank. Hard to tell. Regardless, I definitely felt the difference afterward. I wasn't as tired as I usually am after a workout. I was pumped up!

Biscuit with honey

What is your favorite type of workout?
- For the most part, I think my favorite workout is running. I love the mind game.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Snacks Before Work Outs

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time working out in the morning. It seems like it could be a great thing; working out before the day has even begun. No room for the excuse, "I ran out of time in the day." While I have heard that working out should "wake you up", it is rarely the case for me. I am usually fatigued after working out and want to do nothing more than take a shower and curl back in to bed. Sometimes, thinking about waking up early to work out and THEN do a full day in the office seems so daunting. The voice in my head says that I am tired enough when I first wake up in the morning, why exhaust myself even more?

With this being said, I wish I could be a morning exerciser and really do want to work on it. I hear there are great benefits to working out in the morning. After reading Sparkpeople's "What to Eat Before You Work Out" Article, I am wondering now if a pre-work out snack is all I need to help me get the energy to do my morning work outs.


Photo from www.sparkpeople.com
 As found in the article: "Some people do have a hard time exercising without eating first, especially if it’s been a long time since their last meal or snack. These individuals often are more sensitive to changes in their blood sugar levels, which fall during the first 15-20 minutes of workout. That drop in blood sugar can cause tiredness, mild dizziness, or even faintness—especially if your blood sugar was already low, but eating something beforehand can help prevent this. If you have health issues like diabetes or hypoglycemia that can cause low blood sugar, you’ll probably want to eat before your workout. If you get very hungry during a workout (and it interferes with your energy levels or focus), or become so ravenous after an exercise session that you end up overeating, try eating before you hit the gym to avoid these problems.

 

If you are a moderate exerciser who tends to perform better with a pre-exercise snack, there are two ways to handle your needs:

1. Eat a small (100- to 200-calorie) snack about 30 minutes before you work out. This snack should include fast-digesting (high glycemic
index) carbohydrates and very little fat (which digests slowly), so that you digest the meal quickly and the fuel is available during your exercise session. Here are some ideas:
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit smoothie
  • High-glycemic fruits like pineapple, apricots, banana, mango, and watermelon
  • Sports drinks
  • Pretzels or bagels (but not whole grain varieties, which digest slowly)
  • Energy bars (look for 3-5 grams of protein, at least 15 grams of carbs, and very little fat)
2. Eat a nutritionally balanced meal 1-2 hours before your exercise. This is the best option for many people. The larger the meal, and the more fat and protein it contains, the longer you may need to wait before exercising. Ideally, try to eat enough calories to equal about half the calories you expect to burn during your upcoming workout. So if you burn about 600 calories during your workout, aim for at least 300 calories during this meal — or a little more if your exercise is “high intensity” (over 75% of your maximum heart rate). At least 50-60% of these calories should come from carbohydrates, which should keep your blood sugar and energy levels fairly stable during your exercise session. Include some protein to help prevent the breakdown of muscle for fuel and give your muscles a headstart on recovery after exercise. Some good food choices and combinations for this kind of meal include:
  • Fruit and yogurt
  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereals (with more than 3 grams of fiber) and milk
  • Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
  • Hummus and raw veggies
  • Hard boiled eggs (or egg whites)
  • Cottage cheese and fruit
  • Half a peanut butter or turkey/chicken sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Whole grain crackers with nut butter or cheese
  • Whole grain fig (or fruit) Newton cookies
  • Milk (especially chocolate milk)
  • Tomato or vegetable juice
  • Yogurt smoothie (with added protein powder, if desired)
  • Most protein/energy bars
As a moderate exerciser, you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to timing your meals and choosing your foods. The most important things are getting to know your body and how it responds to exercise, so that you can give it what it needs to perform at its best. Eating the right foods at the right times before you work out is essential to keeping your energy up, your workout performance high, and your body in fat-burning mode."

Do you ever eat a snack before working out? If so, what's your "go-to" snack?

When is your favorite time of the day to work out?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday Weight Gain

I had an amazing time with family this Christmas! Even though it can be hard to pull off, we were able to see each side of our families this Christmas and it was very much worth the travel to do so!

Christmas gift collage 2012

As I was putting away Christmas gifts last night, I took a few photos. I didn't capture every gift, but wanted to share a few awesome memories with you in a collage.

If you're a runner, the Forerunner 410 pictured above may have caught your eye. My amazing husband surprised me with it this Christmas. I mentioned wanting to buy one "some day" and he decided that some day should be now. I had no idea he was planning on getting this for me! I have now found out that my husband sold motorcycle parts to get the money for the gift so I wouldn't see any charges on our cards. He was very sneaky and very sweet; it was a complete surprise! I really enjoy running and my husband completely supports me. He knows how much better it makes me feel when I'm working toward a goal, and running goals make for really fun challenges!

After our miscarriage this year, my husband and I have been talking a lot about when we may try to conceive again. I am determined to lose much more weight before becoming pregnant again. After all of the holiday food, I am back up to 236 lbs. at this time. My ideal goal is my ultimate goal of losing 100 pounds total and being down to 168 lbs. before we try to conceive again. My husband completely supports that goal and agrees with the decision. This is just another reason why the Forerunner means so much to me. He knows this will give me "that much more" motivation to get out there and run and ultimately, help me reach my goals in running and weight loss.

So now, a question for you:
Were you able to maintain your weight over the holidays?
-Not me. I gained a couple pounds, however, they won't be around for long!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Christmas Rush

Can you believe it's Christmas? The snow we have makes it seem a little more real. The fact that I had to work yesterday and tomorrow doesn't help, though. On Sunday, I spent the day wrapping Christmas gifts, buying last minute gift cards, and enjoying my day off from work.

Yesterday, I left work at 3:00 p.m. That is when the Christmas rush officially began! We had Christmas Eve dinner at my grandma's at 3:30 p.m. and we exchanged gifts, after. The Christmas Eve service at church began at 7:00 p.m. I really enjoy Christmas eve service because in the midst of the rushing around, it's nice to be reminded why we are celebrating! After service was over, we rushed over to my in-laws for another gift exchange.

Today is Christmas Day and it's a busy one, too. We will be at my mom's house around 8:30 a.m. to exchange gifts. My mom always makes an awesome Christmas breakfast with sausage gravy over biscuits and the works. Thankfully, my father-in-law doesn't live too far from there, so visit him to exchange gifts, after. By the time lunch rolls around, we are 30 minutes out to my dad's house for a traditional Christmas brunch and more gift exchanges. We spend a good amount of time there until it's time to visit my husband's grandma's house around dinner time. They have a gift exchange that we most likely won't be participating in since it is early this year, but we will get a chance to visit and play games; another tradition.

It's a long day of travel, but completely worth it for us to be able to see all sides of the family on Christmas day! I hope you have a happy Christmas, everyone!

Do you have many places to visit today?

Snow: Just in Time!

Just in time for Christmas, Northwest, PA has received a good amount of snow! It just wouldn't have been the same without it. Now that the snow is here, and the walkways are extra slippery, I thought it would be a good time to share some walking tips I found from www.weightwatchers.com:


Ease into it
Start slowly to give your muscles a chance to warm up.

Walk at a moderate or slow pace
Winter roads and paths can be icy. The bigger your strides, the higher your risk of falling.

Bring water
Don't assume you only need water in summertime. Dry winter air is dehydrating, and you do sweat away water in winter — you just don't always realize it.

Stay safe
In low-visibility and bad road conditions, you don't want to walk where there's traffic. Instead, head to parks, bike paths, high school tracks, or residential streets that draw very few cars. Always wear reflective gear. If it gets really cold, try walking at the mall.

Aim to wear three layers
You can always peel the layers off if they aren't needed.

Avoid cotton
Cotton absorbs fluid. If you begin to sweat or the snow really starts coming down, you won't want to be caught in cotton clothes. Once cotton is wet, it will only make you colder.

Wear gloves
Grab ski gloves if it's snowing. A hat and a neck gaiter (a muff for your neck) will help keep you warm. If your ears, hands or head get too cold, go inside.

Protect your eyes
Wear sunglasses or, if it's snowing, goggles with a light-colored lens, to protect your eyes from snow glare.

Try studded outdoor walking shoes
These give you extra traction on slippery surfaces.

Don't layer your socks
There's a good chance you'll get blisters that way. Instead, wear thin socks designed to keep feet warm.

After reading these tips, I think I will venture outside for a walk, later. A tip of my own would be to schedule your walk around the "warmest" time of day; usually around noon.

For those of you who have snow or cold temperatures this time of year, has the weather kept you from staying active outside? Do you have any other tips to share?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Things that Make me Happy

With all of the bad news that has been passed around lately, I think it is time to focus on some of the little things that make me happy. This isn't the standard, "faith, family, friends" happiness list, this list is only highlighting a few random little things that I have found to make me happy these past few weeks!

1. Fresh manicured nails


2. Finding this cute and healthy entertaining idea from www.skinnytaste.com:


3. Finding lipgloss to match my scarf/outfit:


4. It's Friday! (pause for happy dance)


--Now it's your turn:
Give me a few random little things that have been making you happy lately!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tempting Holiday Foods

These past couple weeks have been super busy. I have been working late nearly every night. I am way behind with blogging but intend to become more regular again after the Holidays.

I believe that I am done Christmas shopping, so all that is left to do is wrap. I think I will save the wrapping for this weekend. I don't like to be rushed when wrapping, I like to enjoy it as much as I can. For example, a little Christmas music makes everything a little more enjoyable.

After my work Christmas party this week, I am not quite sure if I will reach my goal of being down to 233 lbs by Christmas. It's hard to lose weight this time of year, so it is hard to call it a failure. I have been trying hard to maintain a balance of enjoying myself, the moment, the people I'm with while also trying to avoid eating all of the tempting party foods this season brings!

As we come closer to the new year, I'm also thinking about the year ahead. I am excited to create new goals, new challenges and make new memories this upcoming year!

Now, I have a question for you:
Do you make New Years resolutions?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sixteen Dozen Cookies

There are currently 16 dozen cookies in my house. I have only had about 5 today. I need to get rid of them asap before I cause any more damage! Every year, my in laws have a cookie exchange. There are 16 people in the exchange so we each make 16 dozen cookies. This year, as a last minute decision, we mad red velvet cookies. They turned out great and I think they were a hit with the family.




I haven't blogged lately as I was gearing up for an extremely busy and fun weekend. On top of baking and exchanging 16 dozen cookies with in-laws, I had a great time decorating a different batch of cookies with my friends on Friday evening. We try to get together every year to decorate sugar cookies. It's a great time to drink wine, and catch up on each others lives.


On Saturday, a busy day ended with a great Christmas party hosted by my husband's employers. We ate dinner at a really nice club house; there was dancing, drinks and a photo booth. Need I say more?




After the Christmas party, my husband and I met up with his co-workers at another bar. There was karaoke and a free poker tournament. I don't know how to play poker but I have heard of a thing called "beginners luck" so I decided to give it a shot. I had nothing to lose! It turns out, I went further than my husband and his co-workers. They were waiting for me for an hour before I finally went "all in" just so we could leave. I thought it was funny because I had no idea what I was doing. I would just bet high when I had high cards and fold if I had low cards. I'm sure there is more to the game than that. Right?

After the free poker tournament, we followed Nick's co-workers to the local casino. We have never been to the casino before so we thought "why not!" Since we were new, we got $10 in play money for each of us, and my husband got an extra $10 since it's his birthday month. We aren't big gamblers, so we played a couple dollars and left with about $15 to play another time. It was like a different world in the casino. It was so very large and there were so many people. I can't believe it's open 24/7, even on holidays! There was a breakfast buffet, in which we attended at 1:00 a.m. The casino has pretty much everything you need, aside from beds (at least I didn't see any while I was there). I could see how people stay there for days. My husband and I are pretty good about going to places like that with a set amount of money and just having FUN with it. We never EXPECT to win (which is good because we never do), so we never take more than we can afford.

With all of the fun, cookies, dinners, buffet, and more cookies this weekend, I am happy to say that I am only up in weight a bit. I hope to get back down next weekend, though. I hope to be at least down to 233 lbs. by Christmas day!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Final Date Night

I had a great weekend! My husband began to demo the basement in effort to create a laundry room and I did some other things, such as create and send out Christmas cards.


We are so close to being done with Christmas shopping. I may be so bold to say that we will be finished by this weekend. After Christmas shopping this past weekend, my husband and I went out on our final date night as part of my 25 by 25 list.

8. Go on 12 dates with my husband

I am really excited to be another step closer to completing my 25 by 25 list. I can't believe there is less than two more months before that Challenge is over!


For our date night, we ate at Panera bread and I tried a new sandwich; the turkey on country bread, with my usual broccoli and cheddar soup. After dinner, we shared a cinnamon bun. This is an improvement because we use to get one cinnamon bun each. Keeping in mind a great motto, here: moderation not deprivation!

After taking a couple weeks off of scheduled exercise, I have decided that I am ready to ease back in to a routine. Here is what I am thinking for the week:

Monday: Wii Fit Yoga (a.m.) - DONE!
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Wii Fit Yoga (a.m.)
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Wii Fit Yoga (a.m.)
Saturday: Rest

I may be able to squeeze in the gym at some point this week, but I am not going to schedule that until I feel 100% ready to commit to that.

My dinner plan for the week will look something like this:

Monday: White Chicken Chili
Tuesday: Mushroom and Cheese Calzones
Wednesday: Leftover soup and salad
Thursday: Leftover soup and salad
Friday: Leftover soup and salad
Saturday: *Christmas Party*

Since I am making White Chicken Chili for dinner tonight, I am going to use the leftovers for dinner on Wednesday - Friday to save some money at the grocery store. We haven't gone grocery shopping for the week, yet; but I plan on getting it done tomorrow night. I will just need to buy groceries for lunch and some more salad fixings for this week.

This upcoming weekend will probably be the most busy weekends before Christmas for us. The Christmas Cookie Decorating night with my friends was moved to my house this Friday; on Saturday I have to bake 16 dozen cookies and go to my husband's Christmas Party for work, and; there is a large Christmas Cookie Exchange with my in-laws on Sunday (hence the 16 dozen cookies). I am really excited for all of the Christmas festivities this weekend will bring! If I wasn't already in the holiday spirit (by listening to Christmas music every chance I get) I will be after this weekend!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Holiday Stress

After staying late to work on a project at the office, my husband and I decided to meet for a late dinner at a local restaurant. We ordered a half carafe of lambrusco and were finally able to talk after our long day apart. It was a really nice date night. If you've been keeping track, this is the 11th date night as part of my 25 by 25 list.


I ordered the chicken picatta with lemon caper sauce and my husband got a stromboli. We took an order of deep fried cheesecake home with us to share.

Today, we plan to get the rest of our Christmas shopping done. With a list of 30 people to buy for, being nearly done shopping is an accomplishment. If you do the math, we easily spend over $1,000 on Christmas gifts. We didn't save for Christmas this year so we are charging it all and hope to get it paid off soon. It may seem excessive for a young married couple with no children to spend so much on Christmas, but we have four sides of family to buy for and five places to go between Christmas eve and Christmas day.

While Christmas shopping can be fun, it can be stressful too. I often find myself with that little voice in the back of my head saying, "this gift isn't good enough" or "I wish I could afford more". That's not what this holiday is about. It's about being together and celebrating Christ's birth. It is easy to get stressed this time of year, but it's important to not lose sight of why we are celebrating and giving gifts to begin with.

Does anyone else get stressed this time of year? How do you cope with holiday stress?
- I was once so stressed during the holidays that I didn't enjoy it at all. I actually was in tears. I was filled with feelings of not giving good enough gifts because of the lack of funds we had at the time. Ever since that Christmas, I vowed to never let stress ruin the holidays for me again. I strive to focus on the great things that this holiday brings; family, friends, togetherness and love.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Good, Bad, and Great.

I've got a quick update for you today. I have some good, some bad and some great news to share.

The Good: It is Friday!

The Bad: I am extremely busy at work and will be working late.

The Great: I am down 3 or 4ish pounds in two weeks, weighing in at 234.2 this morning! Only 3 pounds away from my lowest weight in 5 years!

I made chicken enchiladas for dinner last night. Since I am working late, we will most likely be having the leftovers for dinner tonight. If you're interested in the recipe, you can find it listed in the "recipes" tab, above.

I had two leftover tortilla shells and hate to waste food. I decided to use the extra to make ham and cheese quesadillas for lunch today. It was simple, easy and great!

Told you this was going to be short. Have a great Friday!



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Moose Meat

I use my phone as my alarm to wake up in the morning. Usually, as soon as I turn off my alarm, I check my emails while still in bed. It helps me wake up to sort through and clean out any junk mail that may have come in through the night. This morning, I woke to find a nice email from a man named Carlos.

Carlos wrote to me about a YouTube video recipe I had posted some time ago. He had tried it and emailed me to say that it was very good. What a great way to start my morning! I wasn't sure if anyone really watched those video blog recipes so I wasn't very motivated to make another. It is a goal, however, on my 25 by 25 list to make 4 more videos before February. I think I'll start working on another this weekend!

Last night, I went to the gym with my mom. I love that lady so much. She really loves to support me and here I am wanting to do the same for her! I went over to her house right after work and told her I was on my way to the gym. I like to invite her because having a gym buddy makes the time fly and its nice to know that she is getting some time to herself to exercise. So, even though she had plans to go shopping when I had stopped by, she came with me right away. I walked on the treadmill for 20 minutes then used the elliptical for 10 minutes. When I got home, I felt like I needed to stretch. I decided to do 30 minutes of Wii Fit Yoga and felt much better afterwards.

For dinner, I made myself a salad with leftover deer steak. It worked out well because it was a quick meal and we didn't waste any deer meat!

I saw a comment yesterday from a reader who likes deer meat but also loves moose meat. I've never thought to try moose meat before but I'm sure it's great! I'm curious, have you ever tried moose or deer meat? Do you eat any other type of game this time of year?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

An Addicting Combination

My husband and I went grocery shopping last night. We always like to go grocery shopping together. It feels less of a chore that way. I made sure to get a lot of healthy options for snacking last night. I bought blackberries, raspberries, bananas and celery. I actually had celery with cream cheese as one of my snacks today. It may not sound like a good combination but its really not bad! My husband's family turned me on to that combo. They usually dice green olives to go in the cream cheese. It's a pretty addicting combination when spread on celery. I ate more than my fair share of celery during Thanksgiving this year! I used fat free cream cheese on my celery today, so at about 2 tbsp per serving it only added 30 calories to the snack!

Tonight is a school night for my husband so I will be on my own for dinner tonight. I plan on getting a lot done (dishes, gym, laundry, etc.) with some time to myself. I don't know what I will make for dinner tonight, but I am considering making chicken enchiladas. This would give us left overs for lunches and maybe even tomorrows dinner, too!

Last night, my husband had dinner ready for me when I got home, again. He definitely spoils me. My grandpa had given him some deer meat from hunting this weekend, so my husband grilled that for our dinner. He used a really good marinade and it turned out to be an awesome meal!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

World Champion

If being in limbo about medical issues was a sport, I believe I would be the champion! I can see it now, "youngest world champion, at only 24 years of age, wins gold medal for being in the dark about her pregnancy and newly developed miscarriage."

Seriously, though. My doctor still hasn't gotten back to me about what she wants to do next. This mass inside me is still there and I don't know what they will throw at me next. The unknown is a stressful place to be.

I would really love to work off some of this stress at the gym. If my body is feeling up to it, I'm pretty sure I'll be giving that a shot, tonight.

My husband, the sweetest guy on earth, tried and successfully took a little stress off of me last night. He surprised me with the table set for dinner with candles lit and a mystery dinner prepared. I did venture off of my dinner plan for the week, but with good reason. My personal chef surprised me with baked ziti!

We are currently working with minimal groceries in the house, so this was a great surprise! The dinner plan for the weeks has been slightly shifted, but I can definitely work with that!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cancelled Plans

This weekend didn't exactly go as planned for me. I was very much looking forward to a busy weekend. I was suppose to go decorate Christmas cookies with friends, go bowling for a birthday party and go to a recognition brunch for my sister. Those plans were cancelled due to my doctors appointment Friday afternoon.

This appointment was a follow up from my last internal sonogram. It appears there are still remnants from my miscarriage three weeks ago. My doctor prescribed pills for me to cause contractions for 48 hours. That's when I immediately cancelled all of my plans.

I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, I didn't have any pain this weekend. The bad news is, the medicine didn't work. I called my doctor this morning to see what I have to do next. She ordered bloodwork for me and I got that done over lunch. I am nervous to see what is next and anxious for this nightmare to be over.

On the brighter side of things, since I was afraid to leave my comfort zone this weekend, I had my family come to me instead! I made a nice dinner and played games on Saturday night. It was really nice to not have to leave the house as I was afraid of the possibility of some pretty heavy contractions.

As the weekend went on, and no contractions appeared, I got a little more comfortable with leaving the house. I didn't want to do anything physical while on the medicine, so I went for a long drive with my husband. We went out to dinner and enjoyed a relaxing date night together.

This week, I am going to hold off on scheduling any fitness goals. I am not sure what my doctor has planned for me and I don't want to set myself up for failure. I have, however, figured out my dinner plans for the week:

Monday: chicken over rice with peppers and onions
Tuesday: chicken enchiladas
Wednesday: leftover chicken enchiladas
Thursday: ~ vendor show ~
Friday: calzones
Saturday: white chicken chili

I am not sure what I'll be having for dinner on Thursday since I am co-hosting a Thirty One party with my mother in law. I wasn't feeling very creative so I planned leftovers for Wednesday evening. My husband has night class on Wednesdays and Thursdays so I don't tend to make myself anything that takes a lot of work.

If you have any quick and easy weeknight meals you would like to share, please let me know! I'm always looking to cook up something new.

Since I don't have much else for you today, I will leave you with a photo of my meal from our date night. The dish was chicken piccata and it was even better than it looks!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My angel baby, Sophia.

Although miscarriages are more common than some of us may know, it doesn't minimize their impact. Even though this blog was created to document my weight loss journey, I feel like I must share these words from my heart regarding my recent miscarriage. It has been such an important and life changing event in my journey, and so I will share my thoughts with you now.

While I was pregnant, my husband, sister, mom and I began thinking of baby names. We hadn't officially decided on a name before I miscarried. Since I miscarried at 7 weeks, and all babies develop first as girls, I always refer to my baby as "her" in my prayers.

Shortly after my miscarriage, my sister told me that she had been calling my baby Sophie when she prayed. Sophia was one of the names we really liked.

Baby Sophie, in the short amount of time she was alive, she was a lot of things to me. I need to share how amazing Sophia was and what a great impact her life has had on me.

First of all, she was strong. She had a good heartbeat when we finally found out I was pregnant. She made a home inside me and survived about 5/6 healthy weeks before trouble began. She was taking everything she needed from me, which caused very strong pregnancy symptoms for mommy.

She was a messenger. During my first sonogram, there was an odd sense of calm that came over me, despite the panic that had been going on for hours. I remember the word, "Messenger" coming to mind. Her message was so many things. It was to stop and remember who was in control; that I can make plans all that I want but its God who is the true planner for our lives. Her message was that I do have a bright path ahead; I was destined to be a mother, even if only to her; and she gave me hope that one day we will be able to hold a healthy baby in our arms.

She brought me perspective. From the instant I found out I was pregnant, my perspective on life has changed. This was God's intent. I was blessed with the perspective of an expecting mother. It's not something that can be explained. It changed me in some very amazing ways.

She brought me closer with God, and my loved ones. She showed me how important it is to have a community of loved ones in your life, and how important faith is to me. After needing to draw upon my community of loved ones and beliefs for strength, it has given me the desire to give back. Something I will never be able to fully do, and something I will never stop trying to do.

She made me a mother. Something I have always wanted to be but didn't dare dream of. I hoped to be a mother one day but doubted that I would be blessed with the honor. Although she is no longer with us, that does not change the fact that she was here. She was growing, she had a heartbeat. She was alive. There hasn't been a single day gone by that I don't think about her. My baby, Sophia.

She was and is a lucky soul. She was blessed with such an important task in her short life. She was a messenger from God. He chose her to come whisper in my heart that there is hope and a great plan ahead. And while I take great comfort in knowing that she is in heaven right now, there isn't a day that goes by without me wishing that I could have held her in my arms and given her just one sweet kiss. My amazing angel, my sweet baby, my little messenger.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What is Chikki?

In case you haven't realized it yet, I am about to confirm that I am, indeed, a huge nerd!

While I was warming up some water in the microwave for my Christmas cookie tea, I noticed a pink bag sitting on the counter. This particular counter is the place that all unwanted food goes and magically disappears! It's the "free for all" counter. Since I had a couple minutes before my tea was done, I took a look at the bag. Even after reading the bag, I still had no idea what was inside.



I read the back of the bag to find out more. "Old fashioned brittle; reminiscent of your childhood", I thought, "well I know what peanut brittle is, and it's good, too!"



I opened the bag, expecting to see the peanut brittle that I once knew. To my surprise, the contents of the bag did not look like brittle, to me. By this time, my tea was ready and I decided to give this brittle a try. To my surprise, the brittle was amazing! It had a nice earthy texture but tasted sweet, like the brittle I had as a child. The nutrition information didn't look half bad, either! Five pieces of this brittle contains 125 calories; 1 gram of fat; 27 grams of carbs, and; 2 grams of protein.




This particular brittle is called Chikki. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more so I began to research. (ding ding ding, nerd alert!)

According to Wikipedia, Chikki is defined as follows:

Chikki is a traditional ready-to-eat Indian and Pakistani sweet generally made from groundnuts and jaggery. There are several different varieties of chikki in addition to the most common groundnut chikki. Each chikki is named depending upon the ingredients used. Usually, ingredients such as puffed or roasted bengal gram, sesame, puffed rice, beaten rice, and Khobara(desiccated coconut) are used.

So, it is made from groundnuts and jaggery. I had no idea what jaggery was, so I decided to dig deeper. According to Wikipedia, jaggery is defined as follows:

Jaggery (also transliterated as jaggeree) is a traditional unrefined non-centrifugal whole cane sugar consumed in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. It is a concentrated product of cane juice/date juice without separation of the molasses and crystals, and can vary from golden brown to dark brown in color. It contains up to 50% sucrose, up to 20% invert sugars, moisture content of up to 20%, and the remainder made up of other insoluble matter such as wood ash, proteins and bagasse fibers. It was originally created as an easier way to transport sugar. In Venezuela, it is an essential ingredient for many typical recipes, and in some parts of the country, it is used in place of refined sugar as a more accessible, cheaper and healthier sweetener. Jaggery is mixed with other ingredients, such as peanuts, condensed milk, coconut, and white sugar, to produce several locally marketed and consumed delicacies.

I have found that jaggery is wholesome, pure and filled with minerals and vitamins. It has even been referred to as "medicinal sugar" and was used as an energy supplement in ancient times. Jaggery is a natural alternative to white sugar. Pretty neat, stuff!

So, now I'm curious. How many of you have heard of jaggery or Chikki, before?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

On the Bright Side

Please don't tell me that I'm the only one listening to Christmas music on my way to work, at work, on my way home from work and right now. This has been going on for a few days. I am officially feeling the Christmas spirit! We have our house decorated and 85% of our Christmas shopping is complete and wrapped. Of course when I say wrapped, I mean bagged with some super cute Christmas bags!





This Saturday, a few friends and I are getting together to decorate Christmas cookies. It's become our very own tradition and I can't wait to see everyone! We have one other cookie exchange and it includes me making 16 dozen cookies. Does anyone have a suggestion for an easy cookie to make for that large of a cookie exchange?

For those who are not quite ready for the Christmas talk, this portion of the post is for you. So far, I have been doing a great job at keeping up with my streak of meeting my mini goals for each day this week. I drank my 64 oz of water, took my prenatal vitamins and packed my lunch again, yesterday. My mom even went to the gym with me last night, too! I only walked for 30 minutes, but that 30 minutes time was better spent on the treadmill rather than on the couch. I also enjoyed the time to chat with my mom while walking. Sometimes our time together at the gym provides some much needed therapy. Other times, we enjoy the quiet. Either way, I definitely love going to the gym with my mom. Even though I know she mostly goes to support me, I like knowing that she is taking care of herself by walking there beside me, too!

Speaking of being supportive, I really am one lucky girl. I have such a huge, loving, amazing support system. I was reminded of this the other day when I told a few of my friends about my blog. They were all so happy for me and supportive. I am truly blessed with loving family and friends.

I am a little nervous for tomororw. I am leaving work early for my follow up appointment with my OBGYN. I am hoping that everything goes well. They are going to do another internal sonogram to make sure that there is no remaining tissue from my recent miscarriage. I am feeling a lot better physically and hope that my sonogram turns out well. On the bright side, at least tomorrow is Friday!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bahamas Vacation Recap - 2012

Warning: this post is going to be very photo-heavy. My husband and I returned from our Bahamas cruise nearly two weeks ago. We cruised with friends and visited Freeport, Nassau and Half Moon Cay. I didn't get to see Nassau this trip because of some medical issues but we thoroughly enjoyed the other two ports and day at sea! I'll let the photos do most of the talking, now...

Fresh made guac with chips at Senor Frogs in Freeport, Bahamas.
 
My husband, looking out at the ocean on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.



That would be my husband, at Senor Frogs.


This is paradise. My husband and I in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

Lobster night is my favorite night on the cruise!


The beautiful Lido Deck at night.

My husband and I with the other couple we cruised with. We had so much fun!


<3


My goof ball.

Another photo of Lido Deck at night.


It's 5 o'clock somewhere!


My view for most of the afternoon...


Water slides on the ship!


This photo says it all...


Coconuts in Freeport


Dressed up for formal night in front of our port holes in the cabin


Having fun in Half Moon Cay


Formal Night

Excited for my new sun hat... which didn't survive the trip home.


:)



Lido Deck at night


Sunset leaving Freeport, Bahamas


Splash!


Formal night


Drinks at Senor Frogs in Freeport


Trying new things... alligator is pictured in there somewhere.

We always have a blast on cruises, but going with friends makes the trip even better! We always seem to do more and are more apt try new things with friends around. My husband turned out to be a karaoke king on the cruise with our other friend. They were rock stars and had people going up to them throughout the trip, asking them to sing again. We have a lot of great memories from this trip and I really enjoy looking back at the photos. We took over 300 pictures. The photos above were just a few that I picked out quickly to share.

Now, back to the present. I am happy to say that I met all of my mini goals for the second day in a row, yesterday!

Mini Goals for the Week:

1. Drink 64 oz of water daily - 2/2 days
2. Take prenatal vitamins daily - 2/2 days
3. Pack lunch every day this week - 2/2 days

It feels good to accomplish something, even if its little, each day. Every little bit of good helps; it all adds up after time. One of my favorite quotes is "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant." - Robert Louis Stevenson

What seeds will you plant today?