Month: December 2014

Finding Motivation

I have said before that I’m not sure why Insanity was the workout that got me hooked on exercise and it’s true.  But I do have some ideas about things that have been helpful in keeping me on the right track…

  • Finding the right fit.  Maybe sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the exercise that’s right for you.  Of course there are factors to consider like your current level of fitness, cost, scheduling, etc.  But sometimes it just might be a matter of finding what you like.
  • Giving things a chance.  I hated running in the beginning, and I hear people say they hate running all the time.  But, you know what?  I kept at it for a while and eventually I liked it, then loved it.  If you’re not an exercise person (yet!) you might hate all exercise in the beginning.  Give it some time.
  • Be patient.  Kinda related to the last point- getting fit takes time.  Don’t get frustrated.  I have been exercising consistently for just over two years now, and I still have a way to go with my fitness goals.  But I’ve come a long way too.  Take pride in your progress and be kind to yourself.  Also, be patient with yourself and the exercise itself.  I could not do the Insanity workouts perfectly, start to finish, and I still can’t.  But I can do a whole lot more now than I could then!  Even within the program I noticed changes week to week in what I could do.
  • Schedule it.  I believe there’s a lot to be said for a workout calendar.  Insanity came with a calendar, and I followed it, never missing a workout.  You don’t have to do it at the same time each day (though that might be a good idea, too) but you should have a plan to stick to…don’t leave your workouts to chance.  Know what you’re going to do each day and commit to doing it.
  • Make it a priority.  My husband used to say this so much it became a joke between us.  “You gotta make it a priority.”  And it’s so true.  I fought this one for a long time, thinking “but my children are the priority!”  And of course they are.  But exercise is, too.  It’s for your health, physical as well as mental and emotional.  Get it done.  Put it first.
  • Find the time.  In the beginning, my time was at night.  The morning was out of the question then, at least I though so, as there was usually a child (or two or three or four) in my bed by the time morning came.  I also felt like once I was up, the whole house would wake up.  Now I’ve gotten to a point where I get up before the kids and exercise; now I can’t imagine doing Insanity at night!  I love getting it done and getting showered and ready for the day before the day is under way.  There are days things don’t go as planned, and I have to find a way to get it done later.  But for the most part, mornings are my time.  Find what works for you, and know that if it’s not ideal now things change and you can adjust as you move along.
  • Be accountable.  Find a buddy or an online group and share what you’re doing.  I joined a Facebook group after I had been exercising for a while.  We were all doing different Beachbody programs at the time, but we would post our workout each day.  Sometimes some of us will choose a program to do together and pick a start date.  That’s fun because we can share what we like and don’t like, vent on a bad day or ask questions.  It’s also motivating because you don’t want to be the one that doesn’t post that day.  There have been many days I know I might have missed a workout if I didn’t feel like I was letting my partners down or being a wimp!
  • Immerse yourself.  Let fitness go beyond your workout.  Let it seep into other areas of your life.  If you’re a reader, get a book about clean eating or exercise.  Read a fitness magazine.  Go on Pinterest and search the health and fitness category.  Look at health websites.  Listen to podcasts about nutrition and working out.  If you like to cook, look for ways to make your favorite recipes healthier.  If you like to shop, buy yourself a nice outfit for working out or pick out a goal outfit to buy when you finish your first month.
  • Set goals.  One of the things I love about Beachbody programs is that finishing a whole program is a big deal; it’s a great goal.  I am so proud of myself for finishing Insanity!  A lot of people don’t finish these programs, but I did.  And it was so hard.  The accomplishment of finishing a program start-to-finish is very motivating for me.  Races are great, too.  If you’ll be running, or walking and running to start, sign up for a 5K.  It’s a wonderful feeling to finish a race.
  • Write down those goals.  This is something I need to work on.  I have heard it before and now, doing Chalean Extreme, Chalene Johnson emphasizes it…write down your goals!  She says if you don’t write down your goals, they’re just dreams, or something to that effect.  I have been setting goals for myself, but I have not been writing them down.  I’ll start tonight:)

These are just some of my thoughts on getting motivated.  It can be so hard, I know.  Find what works for you- it’s out there!  And if you’re having trouble getting started, pick one thing to do- write down a goal or get a book out of the library or meal plan for the week or cut out soda or take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Do a new healthy thing each day.  And be patient with yourself, and kind to yourself.  Be open to it, too; don’t have a bad attitude about exercise or eating clean because it’s something you haven’t done before.  There’s a whole world out there to discover.

Turkey & Quinoa Adobo

In my quest for quick and easy clean-eating dinners, this has been a good find.  I also love dinners where it’s easy to have all the ingredients in the house, and even better when it’s ok if you forget to take something out to defrost in the morning!  Of course, when I get all my meal planning down to a science this won’t be an issue:)

Anyway, my friend told me what she was making for dinner one day, described it briefly, and this was it.  I just kind of “winged it” and what happened was pretty good.  The only part of the recipe I looked up online was the adobo seasoning, and I don’t remember where I found it!  I wrote it down on an index card, which I then taped on the inside of my kitchen cabinet so I would have it on hand for next time.  Just search for homemade adobo and I’m sure you’ll find a great recipe to use.

So, it’s really pretty simple…

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Turkey & Quinoa Adobo

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 package frozen cut leaf spinach
  • 1 cup quinoa (cooked)
  • homemade adobo seasoning (about 3 TBSP)
  • olive oil (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional)

Preparation:

In a large skillet brown the ground turkey over medium-high heat; you can heat about 1 TBSP of olive oil and then add the meat or you can do it without the oil.  While the meat is cooking, start the quinoa per package instructions.  When the turkey looks pretty well cooked sprinkle the meat with about 1 TBSP of seasoning, lower the heat and add the frozen spinach; sprinkle another 1 TBSP over the top.  Cover and let cook about 10 minutes. When the quinoa is cooked add it to the turkey and spinach, sprinkle the last of the seasoning over the top and mix in the cheese if using.  Cook another 5-10 minutes over low heat.

This feeds all of us (keeping in mind only one of my children really eats it) and there’s enough leftover for my husband to take to lunch the next day.  Tonight, my sister ate dinner with us and there was plenty for dinner and still a lunch for tomorrow.

Tonight I made this using ground turkey I just took out of the freezer.  My daughter was home sick today so I didn’t get food shopping and had to make a last minute decision.  I just cooked it on low heat until it defrosted, then upped the heat to brown it like usual.  I did not use oil today, though last time I made it I think I did.  I don’t think I noticed a difference, although the turkey did stick to the pan a bit.  And I was using a non-stick skillet, so I think you should definitely use the oil if you’re not.  Sometimes I use cheese, and sometimes I don’t.  I did today, and it does add a savory something to the recipe.

I am obviously not a chef, and thank goodness this isn’t a food blog!  But this is a healthy and really easy weeknight dinner.  It’s great leftover too.  It might not be the prettiest dish, but it tastes so good.  Also, you can change up the vegetables- add peppers, too, or tomatoes, or change out the spinach for broccoli.  It’s very forgiving.

Mom Guilt

I feel guilty, or could easily find a way to feel guilty, about everything as a mom.  It’s crazy, it’s unnecessary, but really I think it’s unavoidable.  So, of course, I used to feel guilty about exercising…used to being key here!

I felt like it was unfair for me to take time from my children to exercise.  Now, two years since Insanity magically transformed me into an exercise person, I realize how unfair it would be for me to not exercise.  When I exercise, I am a better mother.  I didn’t notice it for a while, but one day it dawned on me- I snap a lot less than I used to.  I have had fewer “crazy/mommy dearest/why does nobody listen or care until I scream?” moments.  Maybe some of this has to do with experience or age or wisdom.  But a lot of it definitely comes from exercise.  It’s just made me a happier person.  I feel better physically, emotionally, mentally.  I have more energy.  I also have something that’s mine- and I think this part is very important when you’re a mother of young children.

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My whole life is theirs, but this exercise thing is mine.  Me strengthening my body is mine.  Me pushing myself and making progress and seeing new muscles is mine.  I share it with them often, and I enjoy that.  But this exercise thing is my thing.  For so long my body wasn’t mine- it was growing babies and feeding babies.  All day long there was little time that some little being wasn’t asking something of it- to sit on it or be held by it, to be washed by it or changed by it, or for it to do something- get juice, make lunch, read, draw, play.  Some days it was a relief after bedtime to just be- to move freely, to use two hands to do something!  I still have days like this sometimes, though they are fewer and farther between.  And believe me I know enough now to savor them- I’ll miss these days soon enough!

But when your’e giving and giving and giving, when all your time and energy is spent taking care of your children, thinking about your children, worrying about your children, analyzing yourself in relation to your children…it’s nice to have something separate, something your own.

I very much get a kick out of my two-year-old doing push-ups with me, or my then four-year-old daughter high-fiving me during Insanity.  And I love showing my nine-year-old the new muscle I noticed on the back of my arm, or watching my seven-year-old show me the push-ups he did in gym class that are like the ones mommy does with Shaun T.  That is all so cool!  So it’s not that exercise is mine in the sense that I don’t want to share it, but it’s mine in that I own this.  I own what I’ve done, I own the person I’ve become.  I have pride in something I started doing just for me.  I have no need to feel guilty about that.

Now, in a less abstract, metaphorical, lalala way- there are days I feel bad if I stick my little guy in front of a Barney because I didn’t get out of bed to work out before the kids were up.  But those days don’t happen too often.  And I can cut myself a little slack when they do happen.  One week early in the school year, there were several of those days strung together and I did feel badly about it.  A couple days in, it was a beautiful fall morning and I couldn’t turn on the TV again.  It wouldn’t just be the 30 or 40 minutes I had to exercise, it would also be the showering and getting ready that followed it.  So I dragged out the jogging stroller and changed my plan and we had a great little run.  (But wow, I forgot how hard running with a stroller can be!)  I got my exercise in, and he got some fresh air and had a ton of fun on our outing.

All in all, though, I’ve put away the mom guilt on this one.  I have plenty of other things to feel guilty about!  This exercise stuff is a good thing.  For me, for all of us, in so many ways…

Monkey Muffins

 

I have been making what we affectionately call “monkey muffins” since my oldest daughter was 3 or so; she’s 9 now.  I’m not sure where the name came from and if I remember correctly the first muffins I heard of that were called monkey muffins had banana, chocolate, and walnuts.  Well, my three oldest children are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts (we don’t know about the 2-year old yet) so none of my recipes contain nuts!

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My husband and children love these muffins.  I feel good about sending them to school as snack because they are homemade; I know exactly what is in them and they do have lots of good stuff in there.  I actually have a monkey muffin ration of one per child per day, and two for my husband.  The recipe makes about 18 muffins, so they usually get us through the first few days of the week.  If it’s a good week, I’ll make a second batch on Wednesday to get us through to the weekend.

While I do find them tasty, too, I can resist them.  This is another plus for me.  I love baking, but it can be dangerous for me.  When I’m feeling great and having a fantastic day, I can make chocolate chip cookies and not eat a bite of raw dough…maybe not even a cookie.  But, on a cranky day, forget it!  And that’s not good.  These muffins, though?  I like them, but they don’t call to me like other baked goods.  I only have one or a taste of one every now and again.  And it makes me so happy to see my guys eat them:)

Monkey Muffins

(adapted from a Stonyfield Yogurt recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour (I use a mix of all-purpose flour and white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 TBSP wheat germ
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3-4 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 375 and line muffin tin with foil baking cups (or spray with cooking spray, or use reusable silicone muffin liners)
  • Combine first four ingredients in large bowl
  • Mash bananas in a separate bowl; when mashed pour into the flour mixture and toss gently
  • Combine eggs, yogurt, butter & vanilla in a separate bowl (I use the bowl from the banana mashing- one less thing to clean!)
  • Pour wet mixture into the flour/banana bowl and stir to combine
  • When mixed well, add chocolate chips
  • Pour into muffin tin until about 2/3 of the way filled
  • Bake for about 17 minutes

This recipe usually makes 18 muffins for me, but sometimes I’ll get 1 or 2 extra!  I guess it depends on the size of the bananas I’m using.

My recipe is adapted from one I found on the lid of a Stonyfield Yogurt container years ago.  I’m sure it could be adapted in many more ways!  I have been wanting to try using coconut oil instead of butter, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I’ll try that soon!  I also imagine you could use less sugar, or try a healthier way to sweeten these muffins.  I’d like to play around with that as well.  I’m sure you could sneak in some other good stuff, too, like I did with the wheat germ.  And you can play around a lot with the flour.  I have made them using all whole wheat flour and they went over pretty well.  They began to lose their appeal, though, to my 7-year old son, and I’d hate to see him stop eating them…so I went back to using about 1 cup of each.

Like I said earlier, these are a staple in our house.  They are not exactly “clean” but they are close enough for me right now.