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Archive for the ‘challenge’ Category

So… I’m not one for resolutions, for the same reasons as everyone else… (you go all-out for a few weeks, and then what? Strong and steady in the long run is what’s gonna win, right?)

I’m also not much of one for this “new year” business. It’s just a day on a calendar. (It’s a great excuse for a celebration, but aside from that… why save all of your do-gooding until the beginning of the year? I got back in town on December 27th at 12:30 am… and recommitted to my fitness plan on December 27th. That was my “new year”.) Every day, you wake up with a new opportunity to do something healthy for yourself!

That said, I’m taking a cue from Chris Brogan, an online business guru, and I’ve come up with my word to set the tone for the year. What’s one word (or, a few, if you can’t come up with just one) that you want to focus your life on this year?

My word, this year, is comeback. It didn’t hit me until this morning how dedicated I’ve been in my return to my former self, as though the past year and a half have been a mere bump in the road. (In the past 20 months, I’ve been through two major hip surgeries–the second to fix the first–and then got seriously ill last summer, and needed months of recovery and rehab to get through the effects of that.) Now, I’ve returned to teaching several group fitness classes per week, and I’m starting half marathon training again… in other words, I’m well on the road to the former me.

Along the way, I’m taking a lot of time to think about whether or not I want to continue along this same journey, or if I’ll modify it slightly–but the key focus is getting my body back in line again. And it’s doing fine, so far! (with a fair amount of effort! This doesn’t come for free!)

I really believe that having a long-term focus–even on the scale of a month, or several months–helps us plan what we’re going to do on a daily basis. And that helps us live healthier, happier lives! All good, eh?

So, what is your word for the year? How will you set your tone for the next several months?

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Hey, gang!

Fall is falling! We’ve been really lucky to not have many rainy days and far more sun than we usually have during this time of year. That means we’ve been able to enjoy the autumn leaves while they’re still on the trees, rather than after the wind has violently blown them off.

Also means that I have had a lot of nice outdoor runs! (Chilly, but lots of sun!) I think I just might try to extend my half-hour of running this weekend. Where will it get me? It’s always great to have this romantic notion of running longer distances, and it sounds great on paper, but then actually going out and doing the run… not always easy. I’m still in the process of building back my base from a long injury hiatus, and I hope to be really comfortable hanging out with my friend Running soon!

Link theme of the day? Holidays… and this will be an ongoing theme for the weeks to come. Some food, some exercise, some crafts… all having to do with holidays.

1. A month from today, I’m hopping on a plane to here, which is where I will spend Christmas this year!

2. A simple felt napkin ring for your Thanksgiving dinner. Spruce up your table decor quickly, and free up more time to spend with friends and family.

3. It’s too late to start this Couch to 5K program for your local Thanksgiving Day turkey trot, but many cities hold 5Ks during the month of December, or especially New Year’s Resolution 5Ks. Set a goal to start running (or walking), and use this program to get there! It’s only 3.1 miles…

4. and after you burn the calories, you can eat this Santa party mix. Looks like a bit of work covering the Bugles with red coating to make Santa hats… but it’s really cute!

5. Give someone edible coal in their stocking!

Well–I hope this starts you off with a few fun holiday ideas! There will be more to come in the next few weeks.

Start putting on your thinking caps: what are your favorite holiday recipes? Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas… whatever you celebrate, we all like eating good food at this time of year! Pass ’em on! 🙂

Howdy!

I’m finally resurfacing from reading the virtual piles of Steve Jobs articles, here to see you all again. As a business owner, I very much admired his keen sense of really knowing his clients, and especially knowing what his market wanted before they themselves knew. He truly changed the consumer electronics game especially in the past 15 years.

I read an anecdote on a site in the past week, where an author described having visited a big box electronics store in 1999, when the iMac came out (you know, the ones that came in different colors). The author overheard a customer expressing her disappointment that the store was out of the tangerine-colored iMacs, since they would best go with her drapes. Now… that’s design innovation.

Enough of the business chatter–but before I move on, I’ve used these events as motivation to expand my corporate fitness clientele. One seems like it’s going to be a sure bet (though lots of paperwork on my end) while the other may take some convincing. But–stay outrageous, my friends, in this one precious life that we have. What one step are you going to take today to change your life?

(It can be simple… eating one more vegetable serving than normal, exercising when you didn’t feel like doing so… trying a new exercise class and maybe making it a part of your ongoing routine… calling up an old friend that you haven’t talked to in ages…)

Here are some ideas to get you started, including some healthy and not-so-healthy recipes: (hey, you gotta just have fun sometimes)

1. Healthy crockpot recipes at Skinny Crockpot

2. And now, for something less healthy: cookie dough recipes that are safe to be eaten raw.

3. Awwww! Totally cute.

4. Ohhh, so many fun indoor Halloween decorations! (You didn’t think I was done with Halloween last week, huh?)

5. Recipes for homemade condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayo, chipotle sauce)

OK–now, it’s time to go and do something outrageous with your life! What’s it gonna be?

Hey, it’s the end of the week!

And seeing that October is fast on its way, I’ve been making a few soups (even though–Seattle, weird weather, here. Why were we sunny and 70 for a bit again yesterday? Not that I’m sending it back…). Conveniently, The Daring Cooks’ challenge for September involved making broth or stock from scratch (then, the more super-involved folks cleared the sludge from their broth to make a consomme. While it’s a great learning experience, I happen to like the flavor of the sludge… and I don’t make homemade broth often enough…)

Yes… this is the first challenge I’ve posted in months. It’s not that I haven’t participated: but I try to keep recipes here relatively healthy, for the most part, and the past several months have been super-rich (uh, cheese-based gnocchi with creamy tomato sauce being one example…) The end product of this challenge–onion soup with cheese-herb brioche–also wasn’t the healthiest, but I’ll share with you how I made the veggie stock to start it all.

While the stock took time, once I got the veggies rough-chopped and in the pot with water, I could just let it go, boiling for hours. And it made enough for 4-5 servings of soup plus another dish on top of that!

So, here’s my recipe, give or take:

Homemade Vegetable Broth
adapted from the internet

1/4 c vegetable oil
4 medium yellow onions, diced
6 medium carrots, rough sliced
4 large ribs celery, rough sliced
2 leeks, rough chopped and rinsed well
1 3/4 oz dried mushrooms (I used shiitake)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 large broccoli stalks, rough chopped
bouquet garni (I just tied together a bunch of fresh parsley, three sprigs of fresh thyme, and a bay leaf)

**Note that I haven’t added any salt. I prefer to add salt to the final dish rather than to my broth.

1. In a large (your largest possible!) stock pot, heat the vegetable oil on medium. Add all ingredients except for the bouquet garni, and let the veggies “sweat” until soft.

2. Cover the veggies with cold water… about 3 quarts. Bring to a low boil. Drop in your bouquet garni, and cover the pot.

3. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, and let your broth simmer for about 2 hours. Strain your broth, and discard the solids.

Your broth is now ready for use in such wonderful dishes as this onion soup that I made:

onion soup

Or, use it in a risotto, or another grain dish, or your favorite veggie soup, or… the possibilities are endless!

And… you now see how easy it is! That’s my favorite thing about veggie broth: no bones or meat carcasses to deal with… yet it’s still so much tastier than something from a can!

So tell me: what are you guys going to do with your veggie broth? Come on, be creative! 🙂

Everybody knows what happens on Tuesday! My goofy list! Of goofy things!

Fall has arrived here… and I’m guessing for good, this time. (It’s teased us a few times over the past few months, but didn’t have the guts to stick around. Chicken.) Sunday was the first time that I ran a few minutes since my two hip surgeries, so the cooler weather will be great for upcoming runs. Or, I hope upcoming runs. Jury’s still out on whether it was the right thing to do, but I ran in the middle of refinishing the deck… so, lots of variables. But you know me… I’m gonna try it again!!! (Of course, I picture myself running a half-marathon by the middle of next year… one can always dream, can’t one?)

Anyway, on to silly things:

1. Who knew that cows like Dixieland jazz?

2. Bruce will probably be thrilled that I found a recipe for these cookies. Or the two of us will be very sad, after having downed the whole thing (after a brief moment of bliss).

3. If you love whipped cream (ah, what a silly statement) but have trouble with dairy (I do, sometimes) and want an alternative to soy, here’s a way to make whipped cream from coconut milk. I’m going to have to try this soon!

4. Why I can’t give up coffee.

5. Chatting whales!

All right, so I gave you three sillies and two recipes today. I dunno, I felt like we needed silliness in our lives… happy to provide. Hope you liked it!

I’d love to see any funny links you’ve come across today! Post them in the comments!

See you on Friday with a recipe! It’s getting to be soup and stew time, friends!

Hey, yo. My brain is running a mile a minute: can you help me catch it?

So I’m a former teacher, long-since been bitten by the “inspire our future leaders” bug. (And I’m still a Pilates instructor, and have mentored a few folks toward fitness career changes over the past year… some things just don’t change.)

But my morning podiatrist’s appointment inspired me further.

If you’re familiar with my story, you know about my childhood struggle with extreme obesity. Recently, I’ve been feeling the long-term effects: it’s been hypothesized that so much weight and so little activity as a child may have contributed to my abnormal hip joints (recently requiring two surgeries), to my abnormally-shaped foot bones and arches, and I learned today that the fat pads in the soles of my feet are leaner than normal… ya think that 80-100 extra pounds during development could’ve stunted the extra cushioning in the bottom of my feet?

No wonder my feet ache when walking around all day, even at a normal weight and in good shoes!

That aside, the media repeatedly tells us of the ills of childhood obesity (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc etc). But even if the child has great intentions and reverses their behavior, there could be long-term musculoskeletal effects.

And this is the message that I’d love to get out to the world.

But I don’t quite know how.

This little ol’ blog isn’t the proper forum. I’d love to talk to schools… and maybe I’ll start there.

So, I guess this is Goal #41 on my “40 by age 40” list… and in my opinion, it’s a pretty darn important one. You think?

Happy Father’s Day! I hope you all are doing something nice. I was raised by my grandfather, so I just posted some fun memories of him on Facebook. He was a small business owner, too, and taught me a lot!

The past two days’ Trust30 prompts have also been about “the one goal you want to accomplish in life”. Perhaps if they want to hold this challenge again, they should take a read through the prompts for redundancy prior to publishing them… unless one of them is totally different, I’ve had it!

So now, remember my goals lists from before? (Those were so long ago! part 1 part 2) I’ve been listing these in parts, so that I can tell you why each one is important to me. So, here goes with the next 10!

Goals 21-30
21. Post (and hopefully sell) and item on etsy.com I’ve done a bit of fairly simple painting and artsy things here and there, and recently, I’ve gotten ideas for how to create products/monetize my talents. Why not at least try? What does it hurt?
22. Finally finish the plan at 100pushups.com This was a fad on a lot of the running and fitness message boards for quite some time. I’ve tried so many times and give up partway through, because about halfway through, their plan ramps up too quickly (unless you’re an 18-year-old boy). This is not only a lesson in strength, but also a lesson in patience. I need to learn that it’s OK to repeat weeks in the plan.
23. Create videos for Pilates project… Not saying too much about the project yet, but I’ve gotten some advice about videocameras that are good to use. I’ve made progress on this goal!
24. Compete in a Sweet Adelines competition Nerd alert! OK, I sing with a young, vibrant female barbershop chorus. They compete each year, and I missed this year’s due to my surgery. I want to go to next year’s, so this goal should be easy! The only thing that I imagine might hold me back would be money… so, work work work!
25. Attend a unique small-town festival Kinda vague, eh? And I haven’t put my finger on it. I went to the Fremont Solstice Festival yesterday, but other than some naked folks in the parade, it didn’t feel that unusual.
26. Finally finish the kitchen remodel This will make me happy, to have a space that looks complete.
27. Make a list of “10 things that made me happy” every week for 3 months Awww, crap. I guess I have to start this, now, eh? (how’s that attitude? hee hee!!)
28. Eat vegan for a week See, my gut would LOVE for me to eat vegan. It’s not quite happy with dairy, and also not thrilled with meat. But I like these other foods… (and I believe that humans need nutrition from omnivorous sources) I’d like to challenge myself to plan my nutrition from vegan sources for a week. This will probably be one of the hardest of the 40 goals.
29. Participate in the Global Reading Challenge—start with easy I realized that most of my–and probably most Americans’–reading is American/European. I’m trying to expose myself to more and different viewpoints.
30. Take a trapeze class Both from a “facing fear” and an “it looks fun” viewpoint–and also, because my body can do it!

Now, since the first 20 have been out there for a month, what have I done?

  • I’m in the middle stages of planning a yoga/Pilates retreat for late August!
  • I’ve been working on losing 10 pounds. The scale fluctuates between 1-3 pounds down, but my clothes are definitely a lot looser!

I guess that’s all I’ve done, so far. I’ve had lots of business-growing tasks that have overwhelmed my life–also not a bad goal!

How are all of you doing with your goals? List them here, on your own blog, or somewhere public–be accountable!

Finally–again, happy Father’s Day!


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