Monthly Archives: January 2011

Exercising the Mind Does a Body Good

So last night I hosted our book club meeting.  I feel so lame admitting that I belong to a book club, but it’s a nice way to get together and chat with the girls. I’m surprised they haven’t kicked me out because I’m terrible at finishing the books we pick.  It’s not that they aren’t good, I’m just about the worst procrastinator known to man.  This month we’re reading Pride and Prejudice, which is my ultimate favorite so I’m not too concerned with this one.  Plus, my brother bought me a Kindle for Christmas so I’ll be able to read it on my new technology!

For dinner, I made the Everyday Mac and Cheese recipe that I posted the other day.  I was seriously impressed with how it turned out!  Delicious!  I don’t think I allowed the sauce to thicken enough as it was a little on the soupy side, but still really good!  My husband loved it.  I used the whole wheat noodles and skim milk instead of 2 percent.  The perfect comfort food for a cold, winter day.

Now I just need to figure out what I’m making tonight!  Any suggestions?

 

Fit Chick Diaries now has a social network

Follow Me!

Follow Me

I recently set up a facebook account and twitter for the Fit Chick Diaries!  I’ll post regular health tips and updates via those social networking sources as well.  Check them out!

http://twitter.com/ fitchickdiaries

or search for Fit Chick Diaries on Facebook!

Lighter Everyday Mac and Cheese

I was looking for a healthy version of a favorite comfort food that I could make for dinner and not feel guilty about chowing down on a bowl.  I haven’t tried this yet, but it will be tonight’s dinner of choice.  I’ll be using whole wheat elbow noodles and may end up adding some ground flax for added nutrition.

Lighter Mac and Cheese

Lighter Mac and Cheese

 

Everyday Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 5

According to the recipe, don’t be tempted to use either preshredded or nonfat cheddar cheese in this dish—the texture and flavor of the mac and cheese will suffer substantially. For best results, choose a low-fat cheddar cheese that is sold in block form and has roughly 50 percent of the fat and calories of regular cheese (we like Cabot brand).

Salt
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
1 (12-ounce) can reduced-fat evaporated milk
3/4 cup 2 percent milk
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or celery salt (optional)
Pinch cayenne
2 teaspoons cornstarch
8 ounces 50 percent light cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)

1. Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to boil in a large saucepan. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt and the macaroni; cook until the pasta is completely cooked and tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander; set aside.
2. Add the evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of the 2 percent milk, mustard, garlic powder (if using), cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the now-empty saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup milk together, then whisk it into the simmering mixture. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened and is smooth, about 2 minutes.
3. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cheddar until melted and smooth. Stir in the macaroni, and let the macaroni and cheese sit off the heat until the sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 5 minutes, before serving.

Per serving: Cal 360; Fat 10 g; Sat fat 6 g; Chol 40 mg; Carb 45 g; Protein 24 g; Fiber 1 g; Sodium 720 mg

Variation: Everyday Macaroni and Cheese with Ham and Peas

Follow the recipe for Everyday Macaroni and Cheese, adding 2 ounces deli-style baked ham, cut into 1/3-inch pieces, and 3/4 cup frozen peas with the macaroni in step 3.

Per serving: Cal 390; Fat 10 g; Sat fat 6 g; Chol 45 mg; Carb 49 g; Protein 28 g; Fiber 3 g; Sodium 880 mg.

Thanks to the Early Show website for this recipe!

My Favorite P90x Moves

It took me forever to finally break down and buy the P90x system.  The price was the absolute biggest factor.  I couldn’t get myself to pay $120 dollars for a workout dvd.  Then I realized that most people pay at least that much going to a gym, so I found it to be more of an investment that anything.  Plus, even if I wasn’t the perfect P90x-er, I was still going to get a great workout.  In the end, I went on Amazon.com and found the system for $80 used.  I couldn’t say no to that price!

So I’m going to share with you my favorite moves from the workout dvd’s.  Now you can try these at home or at your gym and see if they work for you.  At the very least, you’ll see what I’ve been doing these past few weeks! I’ll try to explain them as best as possible. I’d much rather demonstrate them, but I supplied pictures to help you see what I am saying in my description of each move.

Here are my Top 5 Exercises

5) Balance Lunges

Balance Lunges

Balance Lunge

This move belongs to the Legs and Back series of exercises.  I love this move and was doing them even before P90x.

Place top of foot (or tiptoes) on chair. Lunge outward with other leg. Be sure to keep knee over ankle.  Dip down without allowing your knee to move past ankle. If necessary, modify by placing top of foot on chair. To intensify: Add light weights and increase range of motion.

4) Dive Bombers

Dive Bomber

Dive Bomber

The dive bomber is awesome.  I can usually only do 8-10 because my arms literally collapse.  This is part of the Chest and Back workout.

Begin in a “downward facing dog”-like position but with wider feet and arms.

Lower your head to the ground as you arch your bad – pretend there is a fence and you are going to go underneath it.  Stay on your toes as you do this move.

Finish by pushing yourself upwards.  Your back will be arched.  Your chest should be up with straight arms – this is like an “upward dog” pose in yoga.  You should still be kind of on your toes, your knees shouldn’t be touching the ground.

To go into the next move, either push back into a downward dog or do the move in reverse by lowering back into the second part of the exercise and again back into the downward facing position.  Either will work, but doing the move in reverse will be harder.

3) Right Angle Pose and Extended Right Angle Pose

 

Extended Right Angle Pose

Extended Right Angle Pose

This one is kind of tricky to explain, but I’ll do my best.  This is my favorite move from the Yoga series.  Begin in a deep lunge, don’t allow your knee to extend over your ankle in the process.  Next, raise your arm over your head.  Your other hand can balance on the ground nearest your front foot for now.

Next, bring your raised arm back behind you.  Use the other arm to reach under your front thigh and grab your wrist.  Hold this pose for 30 seconds or so.  Then do the other side with the opposite leg in front and the opposite arm reaching behind and underneath you.

2) Jump Knee Tuck

 

Jump Knee Tuck

Jump Knee Tuck

This is fairly straight forward.  The jump knee tuck exercise is part of the Plyometrics workout.  Basically, you’ll want comfortable shoes for this one and a cushy mat under you.  You’re going to spring off the ground and tuck your knees into your chest then land on your toes.  Try to make sure you don’t come booming down to the ground – you should land relatively quietly if you’re landing on the balls of your feet.  Do this multiple times for at least 30 seconds.  The last 10 seconds, pick up the pace and do as many as you can very fast.

1) The Push-Up

 

Push Up

Push Up

Surprise!  Anyone who has read through my blog knows I am a stickler for push-ups.  They really are the best exercise that hits all the best places on your body.  You’ll work your chest, butt, arms and abs.  No more saggy anything with this move.  Heck, if it’s good enough for those tough army soldiers, it’s good enough for me!

Now, start in the plank position.  Lower yourself, keeping your back straight (not saggy and don’t allow your butt to stick out in the air).  Keep lowering your body until your arms form a 90 degree angle.

Next push back up onto your hands, keeping proper form and then repeat the exercise.

Your wrists may hurt, so try getting the push up bars as these will keep your wrists from straining and will also extend your range of motion.

So there is just a taste of my daily burn.  I’ll post more exercises as I go.  I hope this helped anyone who was curious as to what the P90x program entails.  Obviously there is a LOT more exercises, these are just my favorites that I look forward to sweating through.

P90x Update Part 2

So it’s been a while since I posted an update, but after the holidays I decided to sort of start the program over. I had missed too many days and I didn’t feel like I was doing myself any favors by pretending my slacking wouldn’t matter.

This time I’m not using the same recipes that is recommended in the P90x nutrition manual; however, I am cooking healthy meals for myself. I am mainly using my Taste of Home cookbook, which has a whole section dedicated to 30 minute healthy meals. I haven’t had a flop yet and even my husband agrees that they taste delicious. The P90x meal plan was fine, but it required a lot of random ingredients that may only be used for one recipe. Overall though, their nutrition plan is probably good, but I find my healthy cookbooks and allrecipes.com to be my personal favorites.

I’ve been strict on getting my workout in every morning. I’ve noticed that the more I do it, the easier it is to wake up and do it again. My body is sore the next day, but I’m sure that’s because of the long holiday hiatus I embarked upon and will get better as I go.

The good news is I have lost 3-4 pounds and it is staying off. I weigh myself consistently first thing in the morning and before breakfast. This makes it more accurate of a measurement of my progress.

I will post a before and after picture for all in the next couple days!

Healthy Apple Crisp

Healthy Apple Crisp

Healthy Apple Crisp

 

I’ve been on an apple kick lately and I had a case of serious overkill when I bought way more apples than I could eat.  I didn’t know what to do with them and I hated for them to go bad. 

I came across a couple of great recipes for healthier apple crisp and I encourage anyone looking for a healthy dessert or treat to give it a whirl! 

I substituted the flour with whole wheat flour and I used regular butter (just because I don’t like the idea of chemicals in margerine). 

With only 131 calories and 3.5 grams of fat – it’s a fantastic substitute for apple pie!

Ingredients

3 medium baking apples, cored, sliced thin
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp flour

Topping:
1 cup quick oats
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp heart-healthy margarine

Directions

Mix first four ingredients and place into 9-inch (square or round) baking dish.

In small bowl, mix Topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle topping over the apples.

Bake at 325 degrees until apples are soft and topping is golden brown (about 30 minutes).

Number of Servings: 9

For more great apple recipes check out http://www.dailyspark.com/blog.asp?post=8_healthy_apple_dessert_recipes_for_fall

Rehabbing with the Troops

Wedding Day Bliss

Wedding Day Bliss

For those of you who don’t know, my husband was a combat medic stationed in Afghanistan.  We actually met while he was overseas.  I was working in another library and had heard that they needed care packages sent to help boost troop morale.  I put together a box full of books and snacks and hygiene products, but I didn’t want to send it anonymously.  My friend had been in Iraq and mentioned that they didn’t take anonymous mail seriously.  So, I randomly came across my now husband’s name online and sent the package to him.  He wrote back thanking me and we kept in constant contact for the next 6 months or so.  When he was finally sent back to the states he immediately flew to Wisconsin to meet me and my family.  We’ve been together ever since.

At Work in Afghanistan

At Work in Afghanistan

When he got back from being deployed, he was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury.  The right side of his body doesn’t work properly and for a while he couldn’t write his name.  From the outside you can’t really tell, but every now and then some symptom shows itself.  He wasn’t allowed to workout for the rest of the time he was in the Army because they felt that it might worsen the symptoms of the TBI.  He ended up putting on some extra weight and hasn’t been able to find the motivation to lose it.  We’ve bought all the workout equipment and every now and then he’ll get a boost of energy, but overall he just needs that team-like feel and extra support that he got while in the Army.

So just recently he was accepted into a program called Rehabbing with the Troops.  He has to do certain workouts and challenges along with other veterans while posting videos and blogging about the experience.  I’m very happy for him because he now has that brotherhood of support that was lacking and he’s truly excited about starting the program and getting in shape!

I’ll keep you posted on his progress as he goes!

Black Bean Soup with Sherry

Black Bean Soup...it's what's for dinner 

Black Bean Soup…it’s what’s for dinner

I came across this recipe in Fine Cooking magazine. I’m always looking to try new recipes and this sounded healthy and delicious! It’s relatively quick and easy to make… only 3 real steps.  Definitely a fool proof recipe worth trying!

Ingredients:
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
3 medium garlic cloves
2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
Two 15 1/2 oz. cans black beans, including liquid
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1/4 cup dry sherry, preferably fino but not necessary
Kosher salt and ground pepper

1) Heat the oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy-duty pot over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. *Note: I added potatoes, celery and carrots at this point to make it more hearty*

2) Meanwhile, purée the chicken broth with one can of black beans and bean liquid in a blender.

3) Add the cumin and oregano to the pot and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in the black bean purée and the remaining whole beans with their liquid; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot, and simmer, stirring frequently, until the flavors are melded, about 10 minutes. Stir in the sherry and season to taste with salt and pepper.

*Note I modified this recipe by sprinkling in some cayenne pepper to give it a little more zing.  This is definitely one that you could spice up or down to your liking.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 310; Fat (g): 11; Fat Calories (kcal): 100; Saturated Fat (g): 1.5; Protein (g): 13
See this recipe in Fine Cooking 107, pp. 25
September 2, 2010

No Room at the Gym: when resolutionaries take over your gym space

Overcrowded Gym

Overcrowded Gym

I’ve heard a lot of people complaining that they are avoiding their gyms like the plague.  Why?  Because they have been usurped by an overwhelming number of people who are working out as a part of their New Years resolutions.  I can’t blame them for not wanting to cram themselves into their gyms.  I hate going when there are a lot of people there and you have to wait for machines.  That’s why I just avoid the gym all together and workout in my home.

But, if you still want to hold on to that gym membership, but need a way to get your workout in without clawing your way to the elliptical – this is for you.

First, try going during the weekday or weekend evenings.  These are the time frames where you’ll find the least amount of people.  If you have a membership to a 24 hour gym, you can go late into the evening on weekdays as well.  This isn’t necessarily convenient, but keep in mind it is only temporary.  The mad rush will die down or smooth itself out.

Second, try taking a fitness class at your gym (or even a different gym).  They’re fun and still allow you to get in your calorie burn.  Plus, this allows you to get out of a workout rut and try something new that you may end up enjoying!  If you’re nervous to show up to a class solo -invite a friend to join you!  Otherwise, don’t sweat it too much because everyone is there just to get in shape and have a good time.

Finally, if all else fails buy a couple of workout dvds, go for a run, par-take in a winter activity like snowshoeing or take a yoga class at a private studio.  There are many options to get you in shape without even stepping into a gym.  YouTube even has workout videos if you don’t feel like paying money for a dvd.

You just have to make it work!

P.S. Also, don’t forget to not look on the new gym goers in a negative light.  Sure you have to wait for the treadmill, but they are probably in need of support and a good gym buddy!  So if you see someone at your gym who looks like they don’t know what they are doing, give them a hand and help them succeed with their fitness goals too!

See below for a sample workout from YouTube and links to more info!

http://www.abc27.com/Global/story.asp?S=13775178

How to Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

New Year's Resolutions

Every year you say to yourself, “This will be the year!” and then…it isn’t.  Why? Probably various reasons.  If you’re like me, you’re really good at talking yourself out of things and making excuses.

That being said!  If you’re dedicated to making a change in your life, be it exercising, eating right or whatever else, you need to have some tools and the right mind set if you’re going to get off the starting block.

Here it goes…

1) Keep your goals reasonable. Don’t start off saying, “I will never eat dessert EVER again” or “I will exercise for one hour EVERY single day without fail”.   While these are great goals, they aren’t necessarily realistic.  There may be days where you can’t fit in your hour long exercise or you fall off the wagon and eat a scoop of ice cream.  You’re ultimately setting yourself up to fail because you’re not being realistic.  Not to mention you might just get burnt out on the rigidness of your plan.

2) Be flexible with your aspirations. Give yourself some wiggle room (not too much though!).  If you want to start exercising, commit to incorporate so many hours of exercise in per week.  This allows for some flexibility and if you can’t fit in an hour one day, you can do a little more the next day or just push yourself harder.  If you’re dieting, don’t swear off dessert entirely, but maybe say you’ll only treat yourself once a week to a scoop of ice cream or make healthier dessert choices.

3) Understand that you are in control of the choices YOU make. With any commitment, you will find yourself being tempted to go off your track.  Be aware that this will happen BEFORE you start.  Don’t just assume that this will be easy.  You are going to crave foods you shouldn’t eat.  You are going to want to sleep in and skip your workout.  Prepare for these in advance.  Have healthy choices in the house.  Throw yourself out of bed regardless of how tired your are.  Recognize you have choices in front of you and you can decide what you’re going to do.  Each one will have a consequence.  If you lay in bed, you will get sleep, but you won’t get in shape.  If you eat that double quarter pounder you will be full, but your body will not like you for it.  You are in control.

4) Surround yourself with positive people. You’re going to need people in your life who support you and will be there for you when you need them.  This doesn’t mean you have to completely ditch those who just aren’t fitting in with your life, but be aware that people can be noxious.  These are the people that make you feel completely drained just by talking to them, they bring you down.  They are not the type of people you’ll want to listen to if you’re sincerely committed to your goals and aspirations.

Instead, find people who will be honest and supportive.  Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers or whoever you know will be there for you when you need them.

5) Learn to brush yourself off. If you fall off or lose sight of your goals, get back up and try again!  This does not mean you failed.  This means you get another go around.  Keep sight of the light at the end of the tunnel and remember all the reasons you made the commitment in the first place.  Do NOT punish yourself.  This is not productive.  Do NOT beat yourself up.  Just admit that you went off track and find the reason for it.  Maybe the snacks in your pantry were too tempting, so get rid of those snacks and replace them with healthy options.  Then try AGAIN!

The bottom line is that we all have goals in our life or things we aspire to achieve. They are not easily obtained, but the things we want in life are never necessarily easy.  Anything worth having is worth striving for.  Go into this with a positive attitude and with positive people.  Acknowledge there will be difficulties and keep going!