Thursday, June 30, 2011

Empowering Young Women!

The following is a post sponsored by Yahoo! Every time someone clicks here to make Yahoo! their homepage, they're showing their support for Girls For A Change.

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

I went to an all-girls high school. Believe it or not, I chose to attend this school. At the time, it probably had more to do with the fact that my friends were going there than I'd like to admit, but it became about so much more than that over my four years there. 

Looking back, without boys to worry about, it was easier to focus on academics. We wore uniforms, so we were less likely to be concerned about our looks. It was common for my schoolmates to show up without wearing any makeup. We gained confidence in this element, not having to worry about being overshadowed or outdone by male counterparts. We were all equals, encouraged by our faculty to believe that anything was possible. Not to say this is the only way young women can succeed, but it was a great foundation. My high school did, and still does to this day, foster social service and leadership skills in each and every one of the young women that go there. I am very grateful to have been able to go to this school, and I realize not all young women are given a chance like this. Fortunately there are organizations like Girls For A Change that strive to connect teen girls with adult women mentors to empower them to make changes in themselves and their communities.

“Girls For A Change (GFC) is a national organization that empowers girls to create social change. We invite young women to design, lead, fund and implement social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods. GFC empowers girls for personal and social transformation. The program inspires girls to have the voice, ability and problem solving capacity to speak up, be decision makers, create visionary change and realize their full potential."

How you can help: Do you know you can help raise $10,000 for Girls for a Change by simply changing your browsers home page to Yahoo!? Yahoo! Will donate $10 for each person who clicks on this link and follows the instructions by July 1, 2011 up to $10,000!

Great reasons to choose Yahoo! as your homepage? Great personalized content based on your interests. Local and world news, your email, current events and finance. Compelling human interest stories. Try it, you'll love it! Share this link to spread the word!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Be A Good Girl Now and Drink Your Veggies!

Over the last couple years I have been seeing info on the web about people making "green smoothies". It always looked like something I would try, if I wasn't so lazy. Seriously, I think God invented Jamba Juice so we would never have to clean our blender, right? Well, last week, one of my Running/Recipe Mama  friends on Facebook Adventure Junkie Mom posted something about the Green Monster Movement. I happened to be going to the Farmer's Market the next day, so I picked up a huge bunch of spinach along with my usual goodies like blueberries, bread, strawberries, etc. I came home and poked around on the website, pulled out the Magic Bullet and decided to go for it.

Trusty Dusty MB

Big Bad Bunch of Greens

 I eyeballed what looked to be about 3 cups of spinach, and rinsed well. Set aside

I also rinsed 1/2 cup of blueberries. Set aside.

I poured 1-1/2 cups of almond milk in the Magic Bullet.

I added my spinach and blueberries, as well as half of a very large banana, so you could use  a whole small banana!

I like my smoothies with some cold, icy crunch to them so I added a 1/2 cup of crushed ice and fired the bad boy up. 

I poured some out for me and my husband and my Monkey said he wanted to try some. I also told him the Green Smoothie would make him powerful. He really liked it.

I was a little nervous about trying this, but I must say, I am going to work these into my regular diet plan. They did not taste "veggie" at all. Ignoring the obvious green color, these smoothies taste like regular fruit smoothies. And I got a massive dose of greens without having to eat a huge salad, which I don't mind but its nice to have some variety. Even better, you can drink this on the go if you are pressed for time. If you have thought about trying a green smoothie, you should give it a "whirl".

Have you ever tried a "green smoothie"? What did you think?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Get-The-Funk-Out Friday

I have been MIA lately. While I have spent a little time perusing Facebook, checking Twitter here and there, I have been largely disconnected.  The 10 days that I have not posted on my blog has been the longest stretch for as far back as I can remember. This was not due to lack of ideas for content or anything like that. It was not at all intentional, it sort of just happened.

Last Thursday I met up with a girlfriend that I haven't seen for maybe a year or so. We met up after work and had dinner and did some shopping and had a nice time. I had this total   revelation that started during dinner and totally hit me later that night.

She was the first person I have seen outside my usual 2 or 3 groups of friends that I get together with on a regular basis in quite some time. Things seem to be going pretty well for her in general, and she seemed really happy. While listening to her speak, I realized that I have been in a major RUT. Without going into too much detail, I am been dwelling on the same worries and sharing them with the same people that I am comfortable venting to for the last couple years.

My friends have always known me to be a very positive person. I am all about positive affirmations and self-fulfilling prophecies. If you think you are, you will be.  I didn't think it could be possible that I would be sucked into a dark, tangled web of negativity spun my ME! How?! Negative begets negative, I know that, right? That night, on my drive home, I thought about how refreshing it was to get out of my rut. Spending time with someone who is happy that had no preconceived notions about my level of life satisfaction actually pulled me up from my funk.

I woke up Friday morning feeling completely light and free, and went for a run with my girlfriend. I told her all about my weird experience and how my mind is completely clear now. The darkness and the heaviness is just gone and I am totally ready to leave it behind. I hope I am not worrying anyone, because I am starting to sound like I was really depressed. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn't. Like I said I am usually a happy, positive person so I don't even think I would allow myself to recognize myself as down.

Suddenly I see everything for what it is and am opening my arms wide and embracing the future. My friend totally understood where I was coming from and even brought up many things I have to be thankful for and happy about. I wasn't sure if my Get-The-Funk-Out Friday was just a fluke, but here we are, days later and I'm still feeling great! I've unintentionally been absent from the blogosphere because I have just been busy soaking in my real life, especially now that summer weather has finally  decided to make an appearance. I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer so far! As my friend said to me as we parted after our run, "Don't worry, be happy!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

They've Got My Number!

The Ideal Bloody Mary minus the salty rim
Have I ever mentioned that I work next door to a pub? The Duke of Edinburgh has been around forever. The Duke is the BEST place to watch all types of sports, especially World Cup Soccer and NHL. For my office, we can't beat the convenience of an impromptu Happy Hour here and there. Yesterday I walked into work craving a Bloody Mary, spicy and delicious. Now, if I had a dollar for every time I said "Bloody Mary" over the course of the day, I'd have at least enough money to buy everyone in our small office 2 drinks a piece. I must be really good at being a bad influence because around 3:30 my boss disappeared for a few moments and came back in telling us that our order was ready. I can't take all the credit, and I hate to generalize but sales people tend to be good drinking people. Over the years I've had to take many people out to lunch, drinks or other events to gain their trust, smooth out unpleasant situations, or show appreciation for their business.

I try to be a healthy person, but it's not all physical. It's mental too. Socializing and having fun is part of what makes me happy. My boss happened to mention he's been on a gin and tonic kick lately, like it's a bad thing. Since I'm so knowledgeable about cocktails (hint of sarcasm) I start quelling his concerns by telling him clear liquor is cleaner, less likely to create hangovers, and how gin and tonic with lime is such a refreshing summer cocktail.

Even the lovely Bloody Mary I was drinking (ok, two) wasn't so bad when you think about it. We've covered the benefit of clear liquor (vodka). Tomato juice is full of vitamin C.  Celery for more vitamin C and low to zero calories. Olives are high in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. A lime wedge for garnish,  a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco can't be too bad for you. I generally pass on the celery salt on the rim of the glass because I try to avoid salt in in general. I like lots of black pepper in my Bloody Mary, but its not like I drink them all the time.

My boss told me I was really good at rationalizing things. Come to think of it, I am, and I am totally ok with that. I think it's a positive thing to look for the good in what's around you. And that goes for cocktails too.

What is your favorite summer cocktail or beverage? I love vodka tonics.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Not My Imagination - Out of Shape!

Wow. I wasn't kidding. I knew I had not been as consistent with my strength training lately (the last couple weeks) and had maybe been a weee lax in the diet department. But after running last weekend and doing Ripped in 30 and Yoga Meltdown so far this week, I was surprised to wake up SORE! Me, SORE from 2 days of Jillian! I noticed it mainly in my abs and my shoulders/arms (presumably from all those bloody push ups she makes us do). Anyway, it was a wake-up call that I just can't let myself slack like that too often. Today I took a day off from working out but will be up and out at 6 am to do a 4+ mile run.

Doing it every day!
 I  made sure that I had a nice sized salad every day for the last week or more at dinner. A few of the salads I had in restaurants but the majority of them I made at home. I prefer to chop my own romaine lettuce which is not as convenient but I just like the quality of the lettuce better than the pre-cut bagged salads at the store. At the Farmer's Market they sell different types of salad mix that I also enjoy and will have to remember to pick some up. I'm trying to keep in line with My Plate and make sure half of my plate is fruits and vegetables. I would rather fill up more on greens than meat or pasta/rice/bread, although trying to keep my grain portion to a quarter of my plate when I am not always eating meat is kind of hard.

I also started having quinoa for breakfast again. For a great breakfast quinoa recipe, see my previous post here.
Nothing like a warm bowl of quinoa in the morning with blueberries, walnuts and almond milk! This really keeps me full longer. Even though I like or should I say need to eat every few hours, I find that when I eat my mid-morning snack I don't particularly feel like eating that much, just a little bit of whatever it is (almonds or fruit) satisfies me pretty quickly.

I am SO glad I tried this!

Speaking of almond milk - I had never tried Trader Joe's Almond Milk before, I have to say I am not going back to my other brand! While I won't be able to buy Trader Joe's at a bulk store, it is way better. It doesn't separate, even when you pour it into coffee, which is what grossed me out about almond milk in coffee. I had switched to soy only for my coffee. Then I was caught up in all the bad soy press again when researching online, and didn't know WHAT I should put in my coffee. I had even temporarily (2 weeks) gone back to organic cow's milk. Trader Joe's is low in sugar, fat and calories and smooth creamy. And, I can put it in my coffee without it separating! LOVE!

Photo is a little blurry but you get the idea!
I even managed to bring carrots to snack on at work! Although it didn't keep me from dabbling in a little bad office food (pastries on Monday morning, and some to-die-for Italian bread with chocolate bits in it this morning), I'm sure it kept me from going overboard. But I am not all about deprivation...just moderation. Peace.

I was not compensated for this post. These views and opinions are my own.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Getting A (LOVE) Handle On It

shirtless so sexy thats my man Pictures, Images and Photos
Tight, right?
I just have to tell you that I had a fabulous picture to use for this post but it was a little too steamy, and I don't want to offend anyone. I'll just have to keep the image to myself I guess!!

If I had a dollar for all the bad food that comes through my office, I'd be rich! I think I am going to actually start a meme to recap the bad food battles I have to deal with at work. I wouldn't play the victim card, except as I'm mentioned before, I have no will power! If it's there, and it's something I like, it will be hard for me not to eat it. And lately, it's been ice cream. Lots of ice cream. That went on for about 2 weeks. Let's see, there was cookies and cream, mint chip, mint oreo cookie (Ben & Jerry's...yum), and a new Ben & Jerry's flavor called Clusterfluff, which was good. Fortunately someone saw the light and started bringing in sugar free popsicles. I'm not a fan of sugar-free stuff or fake sweeteners or fake coloring for that matter, but I had to break down. Eating these popsicles had to be better for my waistline than the ice cream.

I had to say, when I tried the Whole Foods Coconut Frozen Fruit Bars that someone brought in one day, I wasn't terribly disgusted with myself. They satisfied the sweet craving without being too sweet, and the stats weren't horrible. Of course, you have to like coconut or these aren't going to do it for you. They were actually filling, I probably would have been happy with half!

So I think my strategy is going to keep the supply going of the sugar free popsicles. While less than ideal, they are cheap and easy to bring in. And if they are always there, my co-workers will be less likely to run out and come back with something worse.

I have had a few good runs this week, once I even went alone once as my running buddy wasn't available. I was impressed I knocked out 4 miles without any interesting conversation to keep me distracted. I actually found that my own thoughts were enough to keep me company and I got a lot of mental "to-do's" wiped off my list. I definitely need to do more toning/strength work and want to start doing Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30 regularly again.

I also heard Jillian has an ab DVD. I so need to do abs! Especially after Memorial Day weekend, when a lot of eating and drinking took place. I feel like my ab muscles are stretched out. Need to tighten this baby up! It's at Walmart right now for under $9. One of the few reasons to endure that place.

If my abs looked even half this good, I'd be happy
Even though our weather has absolutely sucked, and summer doesn't seem even close to being on it's way, I don't want to be blindsided when suddenly its bathing suit time and my body still looks like its stuck in crock pot and fireplace season.

Today, I have been good so far. Breakfast: Kashi Go Lean cereal sprinkled with blueberries. Out of almond milk so had to go with organic 1%. And my usual coffee and stevia.

Lunch: Burrito with whole wheat wrap, vegetarian refried beans, a handful of shredded lettuce, salsa and a sprinkle of monterey jack. Water to drink.

Dinner: I'm making a basic grilled chicken salad. I am really on a salad kick lately. I have had a salad every day since last Sunday!

Doing alright today since I worked from home and escaped the bad food. I even ran 5 miles this morning. Hope you all have a happy, healthy weekend!

Are you changing your eating habits at all with the anticipation of summer? What works best for you to curb your appetite?