Sunday dinner is taking a different twist today. We have been eating a lot of comfort meals lately and many have been meat based. Today, we are enjoying one of our favorite meatless Sunday sauce recipes. My husband brought home a nice large eggplant today with hopes I’d make eggplant parmesan again. Since we just had that last week, I decided to turn this beautiful eggplant into a meatless meatball for our sauce. We’ve had this meal before and it is a nice change of pace from the traditional meatball, and surprisingly quite tasty.
My brother and my niece are both vegetarians. George grew up on the same meals as I did and has commented on my recent blog posts. I knew he wouldn’t be eating them though and began to wonder how to offer meatless versions of these family traditions. I will be experimenting with that concept over the…
I’ve been running since I was a young girl, that’s all I really did. I did track team for some time in junior high school, but didn’t wish to continue in high school. I was never a fast runner, slow and steady was always more my speed. I liked the longer distances, where I could just settle in and enjoy the solitude out on the road. I was devastated and completely stressed, when I thought I’d never be able to run again. I definitely went through a very hard time emotionally and soothed myself with way too much food and wine.
Crawling out from the mess I made has been particularly hard this time. I’m not getting any younger and the older I get, the harder it is to rectify months of poor eating choices. Gone are the days where I could just burn it all off in a month. It seems these days, no matter how hard I work or clean I eat, the pounds stay put. But, if nothing else, I am a very determined woman. I will get myself back to a comfortable running weight no matter how long it takes.
Long time readers, know that I am not a huge fan of change when it comes to exercise and nutrition. I like things to stay the way they are and love to get into a routine. My military/police dad really did drill routine and structure into my brothers and I, especially around our meals. To change my workout routine and my nutrition at the same time is a huge undertaking for me, but at this point what have I got to lose – except a few inches and pounds.
Instead of running and risking yet another injury, I decided to give Crossfit a try. I started going at the end of June and have been going at least 4 times a week. This month, I’ve tried to up it to 5 times and if I can’t make it to the gym, I do the WOD at home. Remember, we have a full gym set up in our basement, so with my husband spotting me I can do the work – no excuses. It’s hard, but oh so motivating to do these workouts each day. They are always different and you never know what you will get, other than drenched in sweat and spent. They really break up the monotony of doing the same workout over and over again – think running. The most interesting thing that happened is the more I go, the less I miss those grueling long runs. I’m truly not at a long run weight right now anyway, so I’ve just been sticking to 3 and 4 mile runs when I can fit them in.
As for my nutrition, I just couldn’t get that darn scale to move no matter what I did. I know from reading The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain that there are many foods that are thought to be healthy, that may not be healthy for my body. These past two weeks, I’ve really dialed it in and cleaned up what I was eating and guess what that scale budged. More importantly, I feel better and actually stopped craving that glass of wine at night. Foods that I never really wanted to eat are becoming more appealing to me. Yes, I have been doing a lot of cooking, but I’ve kept the recipes simpler. Best of all, I think I will be able to maintain these types of meals when I return to my full work schedule.
Today, it is pouring rain outside. After I came home from the gym, I decided to make three meals to have some pickings for the week. I roasted some sweet potatoes with onions and garlic to be used as a nice base for poached eggs during the week. I also have the crock pot going (which I haven’t used in forever) to cook some nice boneless chicken thighs with homemade BBQ sauce. Finally, I’m roasting a tray of vegetables. These vegetables include butternut squash, sweet potatoes and spinach with cauliflower cream sauce (dairy free). It smells incredible in my house right now and I’m looking forward to dinner later.
Sometimes, change is good for the soul. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I feel rejuvenated and ready to keep pushing through this rough patch. Each day I feel that much stronger mentally and physically. If you are stuck in a rut, like I was, try something new. You don’t have to try it all at once like I did, but believe me you will find that spark again. Here is the recipe for the roasted vegetables I made today in case you want to give them a try.
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cups fresh spinach
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large shallots, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
For the sauce:
1/2 head of caulifower, cut into florets
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
To make the cream sauce, place a couple inches of water in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, place steamer insert and then cauliflower florets into the pot and cover. Steam for 12-14 minutes, until completely tender.
Drain and return cauliflower to the pot. Add the almond milk, stock, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to the pot.
Use an immersion blender or food processor to combine the ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Add the butternut squash and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft .
Stir in the spinach to wilt. Season with salt and pepper.
To assemble, grease a large baking dish with coconut oil spray.
Spoon a thin layer of the cream sauce over the bottom of the pan.
Arrange a layer of half of the butternut squash.
Top with half of the spinach mixture, and then all of the sliced sweet potato.
Drizzle with the cream sauce.
Add the remaining half of the spinach, followed by the rest of the butternut squash.
Drizzle the rest of the cream sauce over the top.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until browned. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Last week, I talked about how I needed to reevaluate my current nutritional intake and begin to make further changes to improve my health. I am off for two weeks, so I have more time to read, learn and come up with a new plan of action. My current goals are to: 1) Improve my health; 2) Improve my sleep; 3) Feel stronger; 4) Lose weight. I have to accept that though I love to cook, my work schedule makes it hard to do much during the week. I also admitted to myself that I do not wish to spend my entire Sunday, especially in nicer weather, cooking for the week and/or meal prepping. I am looking to simplify my life, but make healthier choices by avoiding quick fixes.
I spent my first week off, reading and creating my plan of action for the remainder of the summer. I will try out this routine while my work schedule is not a full one and hope that I can create some solid habits for when the school-year begins. I mentioned last week, that I really liked a few of the recipes on the Paleogrub website. They seemed to meet my criteria of healthy, simple and delicious. Further, they do not require massive amounts of obscure ingredients. In fact, I had many of the staples already on hand. I decided to purchase the Paleogrub Cookbook and their ten week meal plan. The meal plan is simple to follow and tells you exactly what you need to prepare all meals. It gives you a specific plan for each day that includes recipes and directions for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Paleogrub Cookbook is digital and once downloaded includes a search feature that is very helpful. You can follow it exactly as written, or as in my case select the meals that you like.
I know that it is not realistic for me to think I will cook every single meal included in the daily plan. Some days, I just want a smoothie for breakfast and that’s fine. Also, what they say serves two people really serves my husband and I with enough leftover for lunch the next day, which is perfect for my work week. Depending on how much you actually eat, I think you may not need all the lunches listed. What I did this first week was preview the week and make a plan for what I wanted to cook. I selected three dinners and one breakfast. Knowing I will have leftover for lunch, I only selected one lunch this week simply because the photograph looked so appealing. The plan also conveniently creates a shopping list for you, but I found that it included items for the entire plan as written for the week. Since I am customizing, based on our personal likes and needs, I did have to modify the shopping list. This was easy enough to do though, I simply emailed the list to myself and did an edit.
I do not make any money recommending this plan to you, I merely wanted to share that I thought it was good. The meals are laid out separately by week and I downloaded them to my computer and now have them to return to. I have noticed the scale moving down this week, which makes me happy. I don’t feel hungry, or deprived and I feel like I look forward to both cooking and eating my meals. Here are two recipes that I enjoyed eating this week.
Roasted Carrot & Avocado Salad
For roasted carrots
1 pound carrots (assorted colors or just orange ones) peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp red pepper flakes
2 garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
Rest of ingredients
2 small avocados, pitted and sliced or cut into chunks
3 cups arugula or salad greens mix
2 tbsp olive oil
½ lime, juiced
salt, black pepper to taste
I followed this lunch recipe pretty much as written, with only two changes. Instead of arugula, I used spinach and chopped romaine. Additionally, I only used one avocado as I felt that was enough for us. The salad had a bit of a kick as written, so either I added too much red pepper or it needs a bit less. My husband loved the kick, so it was fine, but next time I will use a bit less red pepper. I measured by eye, so it could be that I added too much. Always adjust to your personal taste preferences.
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Peel the carrots and cut them into ½ inch pieces.
In a bowl mix the ground cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic, ½ teaspoon of salt and 1 ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Add the carrots and toss to combine.
Spread the carrots into a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 25 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, place the avocado, arugula or salad greens and warm carrots.
Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and lime juice and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Divide the salad between serving plates and serve.
This recipe made enough for two to eat salad with ample leftover for next day’s lunch.
I followed the recipe pretty much as written, with just one change. I was not able to find fish sauce and googled what a substitute could be. I used coconut aminos in place of the fish sauce, but you can use soy sauce as well if you don’t have that on hand.
Heat the grill to medium heat.
Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and stir well.
Using your hand, form 6-8 small patties.
Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side. Serve hot.
I got four nice size patties out of a one pound package or organic ground pork. This dinner recipe was enough for two with leftovers for lunch the next day. The patties had a very nice taste. We topped ours with a spoon of homemade paleo mayonnaise with a pinch of onion powder, garlic and cayenne pepper.
If you try either of these recipes, please let me know how you enjoyed them. If you have a recipe to share, please leave me a message below.
To check out Paleogrubs recipes and meal plan, please visit their site at – Paleogrubs
I’m off the next two weeks and already realize on day two that if I had more time, I’d likely be in better health. This morning, I got up and went to my usual 5:00 AM class at the gym. I figured it would be better to do this run based workout session during vampire hours than in the hot sun. I was the last to finish the six rounds, which consisted of running, jumprope and hang power cleans, but I did them all. I’ve been working hard at the gym trying to get myself on track again, yet each morning when I step on the scale the numbers are within the same range. Thankfully, I use the scale daily to ensure I’m not creeping up; but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed I’m not trending down rapidly for all the work I’m doing.
I’ve written and reflected on this before, but it’s definitely time to go there again. While I am seeing some gains in my running pace and measurements, I am not seeing huge gains on the scale. If I am honest with myself, I need to look to my nutrition because I know that you can’t out exercise a bad diet. In fact, research shows that about 70% of weight loss actually comes from your dietary choices and only 30% from exercise. I actually believe that for me exercise matters more than 30%, but there is no denying the impact eating clean has on my weight. Here is a video that demonstrates this 70/30 theory, but I definitely don’t agree with his statement that “cardio is a joke”. Cardio to me is an essential component in a balanced workout routine. – Eating vs Exercise
My food choices really haven’t been too bad, so it’s not totally that, but it is summer and we have been on vacation so there definitely are extra calories being taken in through my beverage choices. Sorry, but who doesn’t love a nice cold glass of sangria, beer or vodka on a nice hot day. I’ve also had a hard time maintaining a schedule since we got back from the beach and have hardly been cooking. I’m not saying we are eating out every day, I wish that were the case, but my intake hasn’t been the most balanced and I’ve not said no to fresh ice cream when offered.
I know what to do and funny, now that I’m off already have the motivation to cook – maybe I need to retire to get healthy. I love to cook, I just lack motivation when I’m at work all day and I’m tired of spending my entire Sunday in the house meal prepping. There has to be a better way. I’ve been researching meal planning options for meals that take 30 minutes or less to cook. I found many on the Paleo Grubs site and planned my week with easy, healthy meals – Keep it simple silly is my new mantra.
Today after my workout, I knew I needed a nice healthy breakfast so I came home and cooked a recipe I love. It’s super easy and super delicious and really hit the spot. Here’s the link to this delicious breakfast, which I would never have time to make on a work day. It could be a wonderful weekend treat after a tough workout for you though, so I hope you give it a try.
I generally follow the recipe as written, but I used white, sweet potatoes just because if it’s orange I think it tastes different. I know it doesn’t, but since they were available I used the white ones. Carmelizing the onions is a MUST as it truly enhances the flavor so much and I added a bit of red pepper to the process. I used hot turkey sausage and boy did they add a nice kick to this mix. I definitely did not eat all that food, I shared with my husband, the recipe is for two (2).
Long term readers of my blog know that I’ve worked hard to have a positive mindset about myself and my abilities to reclaim my health. I’ve read and learned a lot and really strive to live mindfully, despite serious injuries and setbacks along the way. I’ve rebuilt my base more than I care to think about, yet here I am rebuilding it once again. It’s just the cycle of my life, which flows in ebbs and tides and I’ve learned to ride the waves.
Along this journey, I’ve shared many of my mindset struggles – negative self talk, wallowing in pity following injury, why me mentality, and the list goes on and on. It’s once again time to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get focused on what I am trying to accomplish. It has been a life goal to complete the NYC Marathon and I am once again working towards this goal. I am way behind where I was this time last year in my training, but my mindset is in a good space. I am most definitely NOT pushing myself to do more than my body is ready for and will NOT suffer another injury doing so. I will admit to thinking about how I should be running longer by now, but won’t allow myself to go there. I know that my body is NOT ready for the work and if I push beyond my ability right now I will get injured again. I also know that my goal is to finish the marathon, no matter how long it takes!
I’ve dialed in my nutrition and really taken the time to learn about the role nutrition plays in reclaiming my health. I’ve taken an online course to learn about different types of eating (tracking macros, KETO, plant based) to see which best meets my body’s current needs and my goals. I highly recommend going through this online course at least one time to experiment and track your body’s responses. I learned a lot about myself in the process and not only related to diet. Here is the link to this community for anyone interested in learning more – One 3 One Now that I’ve cycled through this course twice, I am moving on to my next steps. I signed up for a cooking course to learn how to cook more plant based dishes. As you know, I love to cook but have been a self proclaimed vegetable hater for far too long. I hope to learn more about cooking plant based meals to expand my menu planning. Here is the link to this online platform – Rouxbe Online Platform You will find many options there for cooking courses that may appeal more to you. I signed up for the Rouxbe Membership which will allow me to work through these courses at my own pace.
Working at my own pace is where I’d like to end today. As an educator, I know that children come to us at all different stages of development. I know that there are modifications available to meet the needs of each of them. I also know that sometimes people have implicit bias that shape how they plan and react to certain individuals. Sometimes, as educators, we offer modifications before we allow students to try the unmodified task. Sometimes we predetermine and decide that the student needs the modification. What that does, in my humble opinion, is send the message that we don’t believe in their ability to complete the task as is. What that does is take away the opportunity for the student to engage in the given task with feedback and modification AS NEEDED along the way. Truly, it’s the same thing when we engage in exercise. As a middle aged woman, I know that I am not seen as someone who can do most athletic challenges and I likely can’t at this point in time. But, there is nothing more disheartening than someone else predetermining that you can’t, before you even try. I’d like to publicly thank my CrossFit Freshkills coaches, for believing in me and not making me ever feel like I can’t. Today I’d like to thank Coach Libby Elias, a fellow educator, for her belief that I could indeed complete the four rounds required without a modification. Her belief was inspirational as I worked through the tough workout. So, in the spirit of mindset moves, I’d like to ask that we all adopt the mindset of “maybe they can” and not rush to provide a modification before allowing them to try. Perhaps our students, including middle aged women like me, might just surprise you. What we say and do matter so much and can have lasting implications on other people’s mindsets, so let’s try to be more mindful of that.
Here’s the link to a few posts I’ve written on this topic:
For far too long, exercise for me has been about stress relief and prevention of disease. My why is no secret to long time readers of this blog – holding on to my memories going forward and never suffering from Alzheimers as my mom and grandmother have. I am on a mission to live a healthier lifestyle and my why gives me purpose and motivation to keep going, even when times have been very hard. Sadly, lately I’ve come to feel that my workouts and exercise were more of a job, something I had to get done and check off my daily list. I just wasn’t enjoying myself during the process anymore. Whenever I find myself in this kind of rut, I know it’s time to reassess, reevaluate and rethink my journey.
My why is not the issue, I still want to live a healthier lifestyle and avoid disease. That purpose doesn’t need to change, but I need to revise my thinking around the process. Working out shouldn’t be seen as an obligation I need to meet, it really should be seen as fuel for the energy and joy found in my daily life. Yes, I do need to schedule my workouts on my weekly calendar, but not because I have to “get it done”. Rather, it has to be scheduled because I would never want to “live without it”. This simple reframing of thought is a great example of the shifts I need to start making.
Recently, knowing I was in a rut, I decided to try something different; something way outside my comfort zone. I have long been self motivated to exercise and had downsized my gym memberships as they were stressing me out. Spending my morning rushing from yoga to gym to work was causing me to arrive at work stressed out before starting my day. I removed the stress and added more time to my life by working out at home and had no problem getting the workouts done. What I didn’t realize was that the isolation of working out alone would eventually take an emotional toll on me. By nature, I am a person who likes to be part of a group. I like to have a workout buddy and am very good at pushing that buddy to get their workouts in as I just don’t skip workouts.
As the running season started, it was great to be back with my Little Red Runners. This social connection has pushed me to reframe my thinking about my exercise routines. When I run with this group, the focus is more around the social aspect of it – making it more fun. We laugh and just enjoy the time together making the workout feel less burdensome. When I run alone, the focus is more about getting it done and surely I’m not laughing as I go. This realization led me to reevaluate my thoughts on working out in a gym setting. I knew though that just joining a gym wouldn’t solve this problem as I’d merely be working out alone in a gym, or taking a group class. I was looking for more than that really. I was looking for a social connection to push me further and rekindle my enjoyment of the process of working out.
I had invited a colleague from another school to join our Little Red Runners this year on some of our outings. Pat came to the races and talked a lot about her journey to become more fit and healthy. She talked about working out at a CrossFit gym and how she thought I should try it. Another Principal I know works out at that same gym and I mentioned it to him. He thought it was a great idea and even offered to walk in with me as I said I had serious FOWI (fear of walking in). With their encouragement, I finally did walk in and give it a try. I’ve spent the past month going to this gym and while it is HARD, it is fueling my need for social connection and has rekindled my motivation.
What makes this CrossFit gym so special is truly the social connection attached to a killer workout routine that pushes you further than you thought possible. You are working out in a group and focusing on the work you are doing, but others are doing the same thing and encouraging you along the way. You don’t feel like you are alone in a group of strangers. As you run past each other, there’s always a “great job Laura” headed your way, a high five or a “you’re doing great, keep going”. The coaches encourage you and check in on you and give feedback, which feels much more personal than a group exercise class where you just follow directions. Though I am not as capable yet as others in the class, I don’t feel badly about that. Rather, I feel motivated to keep pushing myself to improve. I leave these classes feeling spent, yet so uplifted about the work I was able to do.
Recently, I have realized that I don’t have to just get a workout in. I’ve really started to reevaluate my thinking and have been looking for more ways to lead an active life. Instead of focusing solely on the actual workout, I’ve been focusing on enjoying the process of working out. For example, I can ride my bicycle around my neighborhood and enjoy the beauty of my hometown. I don’t have to run with earbuds in, I can run without earbuds and let the beauty of my surroundings, or the company I am with fuel my run. This week on vacation, I didn’t even bring earbuds. I have walked and run the same routes I’ve run here for years and without music, I’ve noticed things I’ve not seen before. I don’t feel pressured to be outside every day at 5:00 AM working out. Instead I’ve sipped coffee and watched the sunrise, then gone out and got my workout in. When I went over to the park yesterday to do a CrossFit WOD, I noticed a group of women were getting ready to do the same thing. I asked them if I could join them because I knew there’d be more joy found working out in that group than alone.
Sunrise in Ocean City
Sunrise in Ocean City
Sometimes people are put in your life to help you, some are put in your life to teach you a lesson. I believe Pat was put on my path to remind me that there is joy to be found in exercise. I likely would never have taken the CrossFit plunge had I not discussed it with her during our runs. Her encouragement to try it pushed me to make that call and take that risk. That risk has led to a reframing of my journey and a rekindling of purpose. If you find yourself in a rut, think about where you are at. It may be time for a change and reframing of your journey. Drop me a line in the comments about your changes. I’d love to hear how you are finding the joy in your experiences.
If you’re local on Staten Island and want to check out a CrossFit workout, here is the link to the CrossFit I joined: CrossFit Fresh Kills
For other blogs I’ve written on this topic, visit:
If you want a different result, try something new. What have you got to lose? These are the thoughts that were swimming around in my head as I began this marathon training cycle yet again. This is my third attempt at making it to the starting line of the NYC Marathon. Last year, I made it all the way up to two weeks before the race when I fell at work and broke 3 toes. It didn’t really matter though, as I also was diagnosed with a second femoral stress fracture ending my hopes of running. The toes were literally the final straw that made me defer my race to November 2018.
As I begin training again, I am cautiously optimistic that this time will be the time I make it to the starting line. I have learned from my mistakes and am trying to get my training plan right. I’m working hard to improve my functional strength through more cross training. I’ve returned to yoga class and can already feel a difference in my legs when I run.
My first order of business must be to get this extra weight I’m carrying off. I have been taking nutritional courses and learning about how to best fuel my body for running. I learned so much about the foods that support and don’t support my goals. As I experimented with different types of eating, I opened myself up to trying new foods that I usually avoid and have come to find I actually enjoy them. I decided to apply this open mindedness to my exercise selection as well. Rather than doing the same things over and over again, I decided to try different types of exercise and see what works best for my body and life. It’s interesting to see how my tastes in exercise have started to shift as well. Running has always been my first choice of exercise since I was young. I’ve significantly modified my running this spring and have been using intervals to build my stamina back up slowly. I truly feel the time goes by faster when I run intervals and it is a great workout. When I finish a long interval run, I’m not totally exhausted and still have energy to go about my day. I’m super excited to feel like I WILL complete this marathon using this strategy.
Since I cut down on the amount of time I spend running, I knew I needed to cross train with intentionality. I began looking around for something that would both strengthen and build my stamina. I kept thinking about trying Crossfit but had some serious fear of walking in issues. Friends of mine go to a local Crossfit and kept encouraging me to try a class. They’d send me selfies in the morning from the class and finally I decided to take the plunge.
I’m not going to lie and say it’s an easy workout, because it most definitely is not. But, I am going to say that I believe it may help me finish this marathon. The class is well organized and all moves can be done on some level. There are modifications available to make this practice available to all fitness levels. I feel these workouts could help me develop the strength, stamina and mental toughness I will need to run 26.2 miles. I leave this class dripping with sweat, yet invigorated and looking forward to the next. I’m going to continue to go to the classes three times a week and cut my running down to twice a week for now. Seriously, what have I got to lose except perhaps an injury and some pounds.
When you find yourself in a rut and can’t seem to snap out of it, try something new. Step outside your comfort zone and you may be surprised by how it rekindles your workout motivation. I felt better this week than I have in a long while. I think it’s the combination of trying new things and being around people. I am looking forward to this week’s workouts and will continue my climb back from the long winter of broken bones.
What have you done this week to step outside your comfort zone? How has it helped rekindle your motivation? Be sure to leave your comments below. I look forward to reading them.