Saturday, March 26, 2011

Defining your dream

Today I joined the Daily Challenge by MeYou Health on Facebook. I had received a few requests from friends but had no idea what it was. I checked it out today and it's really interesting. Have you heard of it?

My very limited understanding of it is this: Every day you're given a challenge related to your health and well-being. Once you have completed the challenge, you click a button and it lets everyone who you are "connected" with know that you have completed it. You also have the option of explaining how you completed the challenge and sharing this with your connections. There's also some sort of scoring system and you get points and win smiley faces or something, but I don't understand any of that yet.

This challenge is right up my alley! I love challenging myself and setting new goals! I thought it would be fun to bring the challenge to my blog, too! So once I complete the challenge, I will blog about it so you can complete the challenge, too, and share your experience with me. Sound fun? Let's do it!

Today's challenge, my very first one, was to "Define your dream." I am so glad I joined today because this was a great challenge for me and one that I would have hated to miss!

How to do it

Today's the day to dream big! Think about something that you really want - it might be the lead role in a Broadway show, a raise at work, a house in the mountains - and write it down. Next, think about what it will take to make your dream come true. Be as specific as you can. For example, instead of writing, "I want to go to Italy," include details about what that means: "I want to take a three-week trip to Tuscany this summer with my best friend." Next, list all the steps for making your dream a reality: (1) open a new bank account to save money for the trip; (2) put a certain amount of money aside each week; (3) purchase a travel guidebook; and so on.

Why it matters

Defining your dreams is the first step in making them come true. Once you know what you hope to achieve, you can start taking small steps toward making it really happen. Focusing on small steps keeps you motivated, too. With each one you accomplish, you move closer to getting what you want!

Fun Fact

In 1983, Jim Carrey wrote himself a check for $10 million for "acting services rendered." He post-dated it for 1994, with hopes of cashing it by then. That same year, he earned $7 million for his role in Dumb & Dumber.
How I did it:

I actually wrote it on an envelope since I didn't have a piece of paper in arm's reach. Getting up and looking for paper seemed like way too much work. How's that for challenging myself? :)

So what is my dream, you ask?

I really want to write a book. That is my dream and has been since I was in second grade when I won second place in the Dawn Powell writing contest for a fictional story I wrote about a girl and a magical wishing well. I'm pretty sure my mom still has the story. It would be fun to find it and put it on my blog. After reading it, we might all agree that it wasn't worthy of a second place award but it would be fun nonetheless.

So, I want to write a book. About what? I have no idea.

Maybe it would be about the lessons Mark taught me about living life fully and the obligation I feel to him to make sure I am living every day to the fullest because he can't, using the blog I kept of his journey as a starting point for the book.

Maybe it would be a novel about some story I create in my head.

Maybe it would be about life as a newlywed and the struggles of a young woman to become a young professional, housekeeper, cook and wife.

Who knows!

But to get me closer to that dream, I need to start writing every day. I really need to write more if I ever want this to happen. And I guess I need to start researching what really goes in to writing a book, if I want to make this more of a reality than a dream.

Does my dream surprise you? Would you buy my book? I would even autograph it for you...

What is YOUR dream?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Way to kick me when I'm down

Somewhere over the course of my life (the course that begins when you're done growing), I determined that I was five foot three inches tall. I have no idea where this number came from, but I can say with certainty that I have been saying I was 5' 3" since I was at least 16. How do I know this? That height has been listed on all of my drivers licenses. Heck maybe it was even on my permit at age 15 1/2. Anyway, I believe that someone, somewhere, told me I was 5' 3" and I have been repeating it ever since. I became quite comfortable with this number and feel like it is truly a respectable height.

I did have someone try to challenge my height once. It happened in college. They, too, claimed to be 5' 3" and were convinced that I was shorter than them. They couldn't present any solid proof or documentation that I was in fact shorter than them so I dismissed their claim and continued boasting a height of 5' 3", but the wave of doubt they cast on me and my 5' 3" height was always in the back of my head...

When I went to the doctor recently for my yearly physical, the nurse took my height, as they always do. They don't normally say the height out loud and just silently write it in the chart. I was always so confident in the answer (let's be honest, I knew I was getting any taller) that I never asked. Out of curiosity, though, this year I decided to ask what the measurements showed as my exact height. The nurse answered, very confidently, that I am exactly 62 inches tall. I didn't have to say out loud that 62 inches doesn't really do much for me as far as height is concerned. I don't do math and I certainly don't do conversions in my head (don't judge me, I was a communication major). My face must have said it all (or maybe it was the blonde hair) because she quickly converted the number for me to say that I am five feet and two inches tall. WHAT? Only two inches?!?! That person in college was RIGHT? I felt defeated.

Again, the nurse must have read me like a book and saw the disappointment in my face because she quickly asked, "Did you think you were taller?"

"Yes, yes I did." I told her. "I have been telling people for as long as I can remember that I am five three." She looked at me like, "who cares? You're short either way!" And it's true. Sad, but true. But for some reason, five three sounds sooo much taller.

You, too, might be thinking, "Why do you care? This is not a big deal." And it may not be to you. But let me tell you what very serious and important implications this new discovery has on my life:

Discovery #1: I have been lying on important documents like my license, passport and other various paperwork. Isn't that committing fraud??? If I'm being honest, I guess I can't really play the moral card here because I have also knowingly lied about my weight on my license, passport and other various paperwork since the day I started weighing more than, oh, 115 pounds (which was a loooooooong time ago).

Discovery #2: Rather than being able to claim that I am only 11 inches shorter than my husband, I now have to say that I am an entire FOOT shorter than him. That sure sounds like a lot, doesn't it? All I can think of is Eva Longoria and Tony Parker. They are divorced now. I bet it had to do with their difference in height (and nothing to do with the fact that he's a cheater face).

Discovery #3: Perhaps the most important and devastating implication of my new 5' 3" height is the fact that the measly amount of 1,385 calories I'm supposed to consume in a day should actually be even less because I'm an inch shorter!!!

Let me remind you that eating only 1,385 calories a day is VERY difficult for me and rarely happens. I'm drinking watered down Gatorade right now because I can't afford the 200 calories in a full 32 oz. bottle of Gatorade so I mixed it with water.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I can continue on with my day. But just for the record, if anyone asks, I am still 5' 3" as far as I'm concerned. Maybe I will end up purchasing one of those bumpits after all...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

I'm much too young to act this old

You can interpret that statement many different ways and they all would probably apply to me. But I'm specifically talking about my inability to get ready for work in the morning without forgetting something. And it has been happening a lot lately. If there is ever a morning where I actually remember everything, it is a rare occassion and a cause for celebration.

This is yet another reason why I know I'm not ready for a child. If I can't get my 27 year-old self ready in the morning, how could I possibly get myself and a child ready in the morning? On less sleep?!?! Nope. Not ready. Sorry, Mom.

It's never anything earth shattering that I forget but it's something just enough to be super annoying. One day it was my mascara. It's very weird to look in the mirror at the bathroom at work and see your face with makeup on and it looks like you have no eyelashes. Another day it will be my earrings. Not a huge deal, but it looks weird when you're used to seeing something in your ears and all you see is holes.

Other days it's slightly more important things like deodorant. Gross. I know. Don't worry though, I hardly ever sweat and I've only had BO like once in my life and I was actually excited when I had it because I felt like it showed how hard I had been working that day. TMI? Sorry. Then there is the occasional forgetting of the wedding ring (cue Single Ladies by Beyonce!) or forgetting to bring my breakfast granola bars that I specifically bought to bring to work and made a "mental note" to remember them. Again, nothing earth shattering.

Last week, though, was probably one of the strangest occurrences of forgetfulness for me; I forgot to wear socks one day to work. It may not seem like a big deal and in the summer it most certainly isn't. There are many days throughout the spring and summer that I will wear a pair of flats without socks. I actually enjoy it and it is quite liberating. But when our school building had been closed for three days because of NO HEAT and it was only a high of 30, it was not an ideal day to forget socks. It wasn't until I was in my car driving to work that I realized I had no socks on and the boots I was wearing, were not made to be warn without socks. It was uncomfortable all day long.

Another moment of old person's syndrome also happened to me last week. We were getting ready to go to the Y and I was running late for my Zumba class (as usual). I couldn't find my water bottle anywhere. Yes, I had others I could have used but I really wanted THAT water bottle. After spending five minutes too long looking for it, I settled for another and went on my way to class. When I went to drop (literally) my coat off at the normal place on the floor, wouldn't you know, my water bottle, THE water bottle, was sitting right in "my spot" on the floor. I have no idea how long it had been sitting there but I know it was more than a few days! I'm just thankful it was still there! But had it not been, there is no way I would have ever remembered leaving it there.

These are all examples of me acting way too old for my age. I should NOT be this forgetful, right?

Playing checkers at home on a Friday night with my husband is another example of how old I act, but that is a story for a different day. :)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Get in the kitchen and make me some: Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup

Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup

Prep Time:
5 Min
Cook Time:
15 Min
Ready In:
20 Min

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (10 ounce) can chunk chicken
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, drained

Directions

  1. Open the cans of corn, chicken broth, chunk chicken, black beans, and diced tomatoes with green chilies. Pour everything into a large saucepan or stock pot. Simmer over medium heat until chicken is heated through. 
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I LOVE soup. I could eat soup all year round, but I realize it's much better during the cold winter months. I know the cold weather won't be around much longer (we hope, right?) so I need to get all the soups and stews out of my system before it's too late. This was another featured recipe on allrecipes.com.

It doesn't get much easier than this. Seriously. You open all the cans, drain some of them, pour them in your sauce pan and heat it up. Voila. I didn't follow the recipe exactly. As usual, I read the reviews first and incorporated some of the suggestions. I only used 1 can of chicken broth and 2 cans of cream of chicken soup (low fat, of course). I omitted the black beans because I don't like them, and as you know by now, I only cook with ingredients I like. :)

It was a little unclear to me whether or not I was supposed to drain the chunked chicken or not. Since it didn't specifically say to drain it, I didn't. I don't like when things are open to interpretation with cooking! I didn't realize until copying and pasting the recipe for this blog that I was supposed to drain the diced tomatoes which means, I didn't when I prepared the recipe. I bought the HOT diced tomatoes and chiles. I am more of a mild or medium girl, myself, but it seems the Giant Eagle where I shop didn't want me to have those options so, hot it was.

Because I knew I would be getting more of a kick with the tomates and chiles than I would really want, I didn't go heavy on adding anything else. Just a dash of red pepper, chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. By the way, I love using the word "dash." It implies that I'm getting to the point where I don't even need to measure things anymore when I cook and am comfortable just using my best judgment. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself....

I coupled the recipe with some Jiffy cornbread muffins which I left in the oven too long (note to self - although the box says 15-20 minutes, 17 minutes is too long. Just stick with 15. Damn that "oven time may vary" statement.). I put 1/8 of a cup of shredded cheddar cheese (there are no "dashes" or unmeasured amounts of cheese with my recipes - I am calorie counting and can't afford to get carried away with fattening cheese), a dallop of fat free sour cream and two crumbled tortilla chips (yes, only two - again, I'm calorie counting) on top of the soup.

Pat gave the meal 2 thumbs up! I also really enjoyed it but am only going to give it one thumbs up and here's why: I didn't like the fact that when I ate the chicken I could totally tell that it was from the can. I could almost taste the metal. I guess that is to be expected when it did come out of a metal can but still, I don't want it to taste like it is! The perks of this recipe is that it's super easy and super fast and I want it to stay that way so next time I plan to put only the canned chicken in the sauce pan and cook it over medium-high heat until it's pretty well cooked. Then I will add the rest of the ingredients and cook over medium heat for the twenty minutes. I'm hoping if the chicken is cooked more thoroughly it will magically taste as if it didn't come from a can.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

My cardio conundrom

I wonder if anyone hates doing cardio more than I do? I'm serious. When I am doing cardio on a machine (eliptical, stair master, bike, etc.), every minute feels like ten minutes and twenty minutes feels like for-ev-er. It is pure torture for me and Pat has to practically drag me out the door to get me to the gym. Weight lifting and strength training, however, I could do that all day! I push myself hard and it doesn't get old for me. But unfortunately, as Pat is always reminding me, the weight lifting and eating right aren't enough to lose weight.

But as much as I complain about doing the cardio, I ALWAYS feel better when I'm done. Don't tell Pat this detail because each time he's trying to persuade me to go to the gym, he reminds me of how good I'll feel when I'm done, which I usually disagree and argue with as another way of trying to get out of the workout.

Well, as some as you know, despite my best attempts to get a refund on our deposit and get out of the trip, Pat and I are in fact going to Mexico in the middle of April. I'm trying to embrace the trip and get excited about it (aka, go shopping for things to take with me) and I decided I would try some bathing suits on at Old Navy.

I also found this little gem at ON
I worked out on Saturday so I was feeling pretty skinny and good about myself on Sunday when I entered the store. All that "feeling skinny" crap went out the window when I actually entered the fitting room with the bathing suits. I almost threw up when I saw myself in the mirror. The only suit I ended up buying was a tankini top to try and hide my belly, only one of my unflattering areas. If I can find bermuda shorts as a bathing suit bottom to cover up my massive thighs, I will be good to go. Or better yet, maybe I should never enter a body of water again unless I am pushed in, fully clothed.

Okay, I've digressed. My trip to Old Navy was a huge (literally) wake up call about the fact that regardless of how much I hate doing cardio, I better suck it up (literally) and work my butt off (hopefully, literally) for the next month and a half so that I don't embarrass myself among the young, skinny, newlywed honeymooners who will inevitably occupy this adult only all-inclusive resort in Mexico.

For as long as I can remember, I've been trying to come up with ways to make my cardio workouts go by faster. When I was trying to get skinny for our wedding, I seriously listened to Pachebel's Cannon in D on repeat while I was on the eliptical and you wouldn't believe what motivation that was for me! But now that the wedding is over, I need something else to keep me going during my cardio. I did start doing a Zumba class, which I love on Wednesday nights. Dancing and shaking my booty (or attempting to) is cardio in disguise for me! The hour goes by pretty fast, although I do catch myself looking at the clock, occasionally.

But what about the other two workouts during the week? As much as I love music, it just isn't enough to distract me from the awfulness that is cardio. So I decided to try out some podcasts on my iPod for the very first time. I know, 2004 called and I finally answered. I found some interesting podcasts and won't allow myself to listen to them unless I am working out. I've only tried it once so far, but I definitely noticed an improvement! You don't need a super fancy iPod touch to take advantage of podcasts, you can put them on any iPod you have. And best of all.. they're free! As I keep experimenting with different ways to get through my cardio workouts, I will make sure to share them with you!

The irony of what I'm about to tell you is almost too much for me to bear. As I'm typing about how fat I feel and how I need to motivate myself to workout and get skinny...I hear the blender being used upstairs. Next thing I know, my husband is handing me a chocolate banana milkshake made with only the healthiest ingredients of ice cream, milk and chocolate. At least the bananas are healthy. Perhaps this is part of his trickery to get me to the gym. I can hear him tomorrow when he's trying to get me to go to Zumba, "Well, Emily...you did drink that fattening milkshake yesterday...you better come burn it off."