Monthly Archives: March 2010

Self Talk

I am a self talker.  Sometimes this conversation takes place in my head.  Sometimes it is aloud.  On occasion, Larry, a friend, a neighbor, or a colleague will walk in on one of these one-sided conversations, and we’ll have a good little laugh before going about usual business.

I know this is common and that most people do.  But the thing is, I am a constant self-talker.  My mind is never quiet.  From the moment I hit the alarm clock at 5:35 AM, to the time my thoughts quietly slip away into dreams, there is constant commentary going on in my mind.

These thoughts are often jumbled and unorganized.  I must make these copies, send this or that to the office, e-mail a parent, go to Target and pick up dishwashing fluid after work, etc., etc., etc….  I should have said this.  I shouldn’t have said that.  Oh, I can’t believe I said that all the way back in 6th grade!  Can you believe this zit on my chin?!?!?  What should I make for dinner?  Wow, that’s a nice car.  I wonder what time Larry will get home from work tonight.  I bet the dogs would like a nice, long walk.    I should have done abs at the end of my workout.  It’s so pretty out today.  Remember the storm last night?  That was crazy…. 

Get the picture???

Because new thoughts are constantly forming, the older thoughts get pushed aside and are often forgotten (until, of course, the next time they pop unexpectedly into my head).  It is a never ending cycle

Sometimes the self talk is good.  For instance, last night after tutoring and running a few errands it was 6:30ish when I finally got home.  I really wanted to put my PJs on, and crawl up on the couch to watch a recorded episode of Ellen.  But I “self-talked” myself into remembering how I made a plan to work out no matter what.  Thus, I avoided the couch, and strapped on my sneakers.

I’ve also gotten much better about negative self talk.  I used to be really tough on myself.  I was never thin enough, pretty enough, or kind enough.  My clothes were never fashionable enough, and I was constantly comparing myself to others.  Though these negative thoughts creep up every once in a while, I have gotten much better about pushing these thoughts aside. 

I am still learning to calm the incessant clutter that fills my mind.  Are you a self-talker?  Here are some tips I’ve picked up from various books and websites to help calm your mind.

1) Acknowledge your thoughts for what they are.   

2) Make lists to help organize your thoughts

3) Journal.  Writing your thoughts on paper allows you can thoroughly express your feelings.  It is a perfect way organize and analyze your thinking.

4) Push aside inessential stuff.  The inessential thoughts are negative and do you no good.  I love in yoga when my instructor says, “Acknowledge your thoughts and leave them at the door.  If they are essential, you can pick them up on the way out of class.  Otherwise, leave them there.”  I try to follow this practice even when not pressed into a downward dog. :)    

5) Exercise.  When I exercise I am thinking about the task at hand, and have less time to think about the inessentials.  Scientifically speaking, exercise increases “feel good” endorphins and lowers the stress hormone cortisol.  

6) Take deep breaths.  Deep breathing also increases endorphins and eliminates stress and anxiety.  A good flow of oxygen to the brain helps your mind (and body!) to relax. 

7) Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.  Negative thinking is really inessential.  Leave it at the door.  This one goes without explaining.

8) Meditate.  Has anyone tried this?  Does it work???

What have you found that helps to calm your mind???

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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A Day’s Worth of Clean Eats

The eats were pretty clean today.  I’m rather proud of myself 🙂

I started off with a Purple Monster Shake that I shared with Larry around 6:45 AM.

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  • -3 cups cooked spinach (nuked in water for 5 mins)
  • -1.5 cups frozen blackberries and strawberries
  • -2 scoops chocolate Muscle Milk Light
  • -1.25 cups almond milk
  • -1 chopped banana
  • -1 tbsp flax oil (for me!  not, L-diggity since there is some controversy over whether or not it can cause prostate cancer)
  • -handful of ice cubes

Around 10:30 AM, I ate half of a whole wheat bagel with MaraNatha Raw Almond Butter.

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The raw stuff took some getting used to due to the fact that it has NO ADDED SUGAR or SALT, but it has really grown on me.  Yum!

For lunch at Noon, I munched on a delicious sweet orange

and a Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake. 

When the kids left at 2:30, I ate a TLC Crunchy Granola Bars: Pumpkin Spice Flax to help fuel me for the gym.  (Maybe I should buy some stock in Kashi…)

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And I am currently munching on Jen’s Staple Snack: Hummus and Mary’s Gone Crackers. 

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But it was last night’s dinner eats that are really worth writing about.  You can find a link to the original Nathan Lyon recipe here at Discovery Health.com.   

Herb-Seared Crusted Tuna with Blackened Green Beans and Mango Salsa

2 1/4-pound tuna slices
1/4 cup each: Italian flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, mint
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Season tuna slices on both sides. Chop mint, parsley, cilantro, and pat into tuna slices. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon EVOO, sear quickly, 30 seconds on each side, depending upon the thickness of the tuna. Pull off to rest. Serve on a bed of blackened green beans, and top with mango sauce.

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Blackened Green Beans
1/2 pound green beans, tips removed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoons sesame seeds
Pepper to taste

In a medium sized pot 3/4-full with heavily salted water, blanch beans for three to five minutes depending upon thickness. Transfer to a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.

DSC01520(Look, ma!  Real Green Beans!!!  I snapped the ends off like grandma used to do!)

 

 

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Blanching the Beans.

 

 

 

In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat add 1 tablespoon EVOO and heat until shimmering. Add drained beans and sauté until heated through, for 1 minute. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame seeds, and pepper. Sauté until almost dry.

 Mango Salsa
1 cup fresh mango, diced
1 red pepper, roasted on open flame until black, peeled and diced (I broiled mine in the oven until the skin turned black.  It peeled right off!)
1/3 cup red onion, diced small
1/2 small jalapeno pepper, seeded, gills removed, minced
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, picked
1 fresh lime, squeezed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A few good twists of black pepper

Combine all ingredients. Chill. Spoon over top or serve on side of tuna slices.

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I ate my mango salsa over two thin black bean patties served with a side of blackened green beans!  My taste buds were totally and completely rocked!!!

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This has to be one of my favorite dishes that I’ve made in a long time.  The beans were fresh.  The herbs were fresh.  The mango and red pepper and onion were fresh!  You just can’t beat that.  I’d like to make another big batch of the mango salsa and eat it with a spoon!!!!

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So there you have it, ladies and gentleman!  Last night I vowed to eat cleaner than I have in the past month, and to get back on the exercise train.  Just by writing it down typing it out, I was more careful about my food choices beginning with dinner last night.  I also took an hour long Body Step class at the gym with a friend, and plan to do the P90X Arms, Shoulders, and Abs workout tomorrow after work.

Sometimes writing your goals and plans down is all that it takes to make a move in the right direction.

Now off for a small dessert as a treat for all of my hard work.  Ice cream or a small slice of Larry’s leftover yellow cake.  Hmmm…… 😉

Are you a goal setter?  How do you hold yourself accountable for the goals you set??

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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March Madness

And by March Madness, I do not mean the basketball tournament (although at times that did play a part).  I’m talking about how insanely busy the month of March has been.

They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  This year I don’t think the saying is referring to the weather.  I think it is referring to the month’s activity level!  I started the month off with an Arbonne Party, which was a HUGE success.  I then went out of town  2 weekends in a row: once for a visit to the White House, and once for a Bachelorette Party.  Larry and I both got an awful case of a third grade stomach bug.  I missed three days of work: one for being sick, one for the bachelorette party, and one for a Reading Olympics Competition at school.  There were cookouts and giveaways.  All in all, a very hectic month.

In February, I worked out almost every single day.  I ate healthy, clean and wholesome foods, and I felt wonderful.  This was not the case for March.  I worked out less, and ate a lot more junk than I usually do.  I also did not have enough time to write as much as I wanted.  Because on most days I was rushing, I feel that the quality of my writing also suffered.   

Part of me wants to feel guilty about the pitiful workout schedule I followed and the extra junk I ate.  But that would contradict everything I have said on this blog since I started writing in the middle of January.

Life is not one fluid stream that gently flows in one direction at a constant pace.  It is an ebb and flow.  It can sometimes rush, and it can sometimes flood.  In order to be happy and healthy, we must learn to literally go with the flow.  Life eventually mellows out, and will once again become calm and fluid.

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As March draws to a close, I vow to go with the flow to get back on track.  Since the weather is warming, and all I want to do is spend time outside, I vow to reignite my relationship with running, and to take the dogs for more frequent walks.  I vow to make time to do the things that make me happy like writing and reading.  I vow to be more careful about the foods that I put into my body.  I will not beat myself up over a few slip ups.  I vow to be happy and healthy. 

Come on April, bring those showers!  I’m ready for you (and the May flowers)!

 Goals for April:

  • Up my running mileage
  • Begin a small garden
  • Join a CSA (more on this later!)
  • Increase the frequency and quality of writing on Happy Heart, Happy Mind

How do you handle setbacks and a busy schedule?  Do you have any goals for the upcoming month???

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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Food Revolution

When was the last time you visited a school cafeteria?  In my line of profession as a third grade teacher, I walk into a school cafeteria five days a week.  Some days, I am appalled by what I see.

I see children who are handed  treys of overcooked and dried out foods that are laden with fat and calories.  Pizza, cheeseburgers, corn dog nuggets, and cheese sticks are on the menu at least once, if not twice, a week!  Their choices of sides consist of soggy, salty, overly buttered green beans, canned peaches sitting in a pool of thick syrup, and stale tortilla corn chips.  All of this is washed down with a carton of—you guessed it!– chocolate milk. 

I have on occasion forgotten my lunch at home, and have had to purchase a school lunch.  The last time I had to this I vowed I would rather go hungry than eat another school salad ever again.  The salad consisted of maybe a handful of iceberg lettuce, with about a half a cup of shredded mozzarella, a frozen tomato, and a tablespoon of chickpeas.  I ended up eating the cheese on the saltines that were given as a side.  Needless to say, for the rest of the day I was starving and just a little bit on the grumpy side.

This is why I was super excited to see that Jamie Oliver has started a new show called “Food Revolution” where he is working to improve the quality of school lunches across America.

I didn’t know this until doing some research after the show, but Jamie Oliver started this revolution in Britain, and after four years of campaigning, the British government finally overhauled their schools’ lunch program, and are now serving fresh, nutritious lunches in schools across their nation.  Although his approach may be controversial, he has proof to show that this can work, because it has!

I have to say that the show truly saddened me at times.  I was blown away when the first graders (or maybe they were kindergarteners) couldn’t identify basic fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, broccoli, and tomatoes.  However, they very easily, and enthusiastically, were able to identify ketchup, french fries, pizza, and chicken nuggets.

Their teacher, who was obviously disheartened by her students’ inability to identify the produce, started a fruit and veggie study.  When Jamie came back to their class later that week, they were able to identify each vegetable he held up for them.  Mad kudos to this teacher!  In just one day she helped them learn the difference between a potato and a tomato just by drawing their attention to them! 🙂

They were thrilled with their new vocabulary, but imagine how excited they would be if they could actually grow these fruits and veggies in a small garden!  I bet they would eat them after working hard to make them grow!   

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Another part of the show that made my my stomach lurch was when Jamie showed the kids a nasty chicken carcass, and then ground it up with a food processor, and shaped the carcass mush into “chicken nuggets.”  The kids were disgusted by the ground up carcass, but were willing to eat it when they saw he made it into nuggets!!!!  Unbelievable!!!! 

One thing is clear from watching this show, it takes a community to make change.  I truly believe that healthy lifestyles start in the home.  Parents have a responsibility to teach their children healthy habits, and to ensure they are able to identify a tomato.  But schools must also do their part.  We can not keep feeding our kids pizza, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets every day simply because it is cheap, quick, and easy.

Legislation must also change.  Did you know that under USDA guidelines french fries are considered a vegetable???  No wonder it has been said that our children may be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents!   

If you’re interested, here are some links with more information, and ways you can become involved.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution – don’t forget to sign the petition!!!

Farm to School

Let’s Move

Roots & Shoots

Slow Food

Master Gardeners

Anything catch your fancy???  What do you think of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution??

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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Pseudo-Salad Delight

When you think of salad what do you think?  Lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers with a thick helping of dressing to wash it down? 

Well, not this salad, my friends.  Not this salad.

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This salad from Clean Food by Terry Walters had endive, watercress, radicchio, celery, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, avocado, red onion, and orange pepper and was drizzled with a homemade poppy seed vinaigrette.   

I will never think of salad as just lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers again!  This one was chock full of veggies and a variety of flavors from spicy to peppery to sweet and tangy.  It had texture from the creamy avocado to the crunch celery.  Each bite was a delectable delight of veggie fusion flavor.

What is your favorite pseudo-salad combination??? 

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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When Are You Your Calmest?

I am at my calmest while sitting on a Carolina beach listening to the crashing waves break against the sandy shore.  I feel a great sense of calm and peacefulness as the wind gently whips at my sun warmed skin, and as I marvel at the never ending horizon before me.

 

I could sit on the beach all day long and never get bored or tired.  It is during these moment that I am truly at a sense of being.  My thoughts are quiet.  There is no tension in my upper shoulders.  I am calm.

Unfortunately, trips to the OBX come only about once or twice a year (if I’m lucky).   I relish every second of these week long vacations, and as soon as I’m over the bridge back on the mainland, the countdown begins to our next trip. 

There are times in my life, like those weeks at the beach, when I am at a happier state of being than others.  But why can’t we have a sense of calm every day?  Why do we have to wait for a vacation week to feel peaceful?

Lately, I have been thinking about the triggers that cause me stress and/or tension , and I have been working on finding ways to eliminate any unnecessary stressors in an effort to bring about more moments of calm. 

This is not easy to do.  You can not simply be happy and calm and peaceful.  You have to work at it.  You have to be aware of your thoughts.  You have to push away negativity and embrace any glimpse of positive thinking you can muster, even in the darkest, or most hectic of times. 

Tonight I’ve decided to make a list of activities that help me to feel calm.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1) Sitting or walking on a beach.

2) Getting lost in a good book.

3) Running, walking, hiking, or biking outdoors.

4) Laying in bed awake on Sundays before everyone else wakes up.  I love the quiet.

5) Writing.

6) Pampering myself with a manicure, pedicure, facial, or hair appointment.

After much thought, I’ve decided to keep the list short and sweet, so as to only include those activities that truly bring about a sense of calm.  I do not have to work at feeling calm while participating in any of the above mentioned activities.  It just kind of naturally happens. 

The work is now finding ways to more frequently incorporate these activities into my daily routines. 

As I look at the list, I’m surprised at how easy several of the activities actually are to do.  It should not be difficult to go to the library and check out a good book to get lost in each week.  Or to take the dogs for a long walk at a park a few times a week.  I’ve already begun writing more regularly.  And I know I can lay in bed every Sunday if I want. The pampering appointments and beach vacations may be less frequent, but that just makes them all the more special 🙂

Life is short, my friends, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste away the days feeling stressed and tense.  So, here’s to finding time to do the things that bring you peace of mind.

What activities bring you a true sense of calm?  How often do you feel this way?

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A Long Run and a Burger on a Bun

I thought about dinner all day today.  Actually, I’ve been thinking about this particular dinner for a couple of weeks now!

From the moment I saw pictures of these Mediterranean Black Bean Burgers on The Voracious Vegan, I knew I had to make them mine!

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When I was a voracious meat eater I used to LOVE BBQ sandwiches.  After giving up meat in 2009 I didn’t really miss eating any meat… except BBQ. 

There was more than one occasion when I would wake up the middle of the night after having a dream that I had accidentally eaten a BBQ sandwich smothered in Sauer’s Barbeque Sauce.

Larry still likes BBQ, so on occasion I throw a pork loin (not the shoulder or butt) in the crock pot, cover it with a little apple cider vinegar, and let it roast all day long.  On these days, the aroma of slow roasted pork tenderloin greets you at the front door and your taste buds can’t help but to salivate. 

Although the thought of eating meat makes me somewhat sick to my stomach, there is something about the smell of roasting BBQ that makes me consider just having one.tiny.bite.

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But tonight I had a plan.

I would make these delicious looking black bean burgers with aioli and it would erase any desire to munch on pork;)

It worked! 

After work, I made 4 black bean burger patties following The Voracious Vegan’s recipe with only a few minor substitutions.  I used an egg white instead of ground flax and water, and I used whole wheat flour instead of chickpea flour (I’ve never even heard of chickpea flour.  Have you?)

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I also made aioli with a chopped red onion, chopped garlic, chopped basil, and vegan mayonnaise.

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We then packed Larry’s truck with all of our yummy eats, and he drove the goods to our friend Brian’s house.  He needed some help with a broken door, and we needed some help eating all that BBQ!

Rather than riding, I decided to run the 4.1 mile route to his house.  It is the longest run I have done since my surgery in December, and it felt wonderful.  There is simply nothing like running on a spring afternoon to make you float for the rest of the day.  As I was running, I couldn’t help but smile as I inhaled the scents of fresh mown grass and sweet nectar from newly blossomed trees!

I reached the house in perfect time, which also happened to be a lot quicker than I had anticipated: 37 minutes!  I was sure it would have take me almost 3 minute longer after such a long hiatus from running.  As I ran up the court, the boys were just finishing up, and ready to eat! 

Although I don’t have pictures of the finished sandwiches and burgers on buns, take my word for it, both recipes are worth trying!!!! 

Enjoy the rest of your evening!

Have you ever surprised yourself by finishing something a lot easier than you had originally anticipated???  What was it, and how did effect your future endeavors??? 

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