Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 Goals Update: Goal #2 - Lose 5 pounds

I am so freaking excited to be able to be writing this post -- and not even TWO months into the new year!

Yes, I did it!!  I lost those pesky last 5 lbs that I couldn't get rid of in 2011!!

It was a major combination of diet and exercise and actually sticking to the plan, i.e. NOT CHEATING.  But, I did it.  And now, I am officially LIGHTER than I was when I got pregnant with my firstborn son back in February, 2007.  And, let me tell you, this feels GREAT!

My body is way different than it was five years ago.  Although I may be lighter pound-wise, I still feel majorly jiggly in places I definitely did not pre-childbirth.  Most of that is in my stomach.  But, if that is the price I have to pay for two beautiful, healthy and wonderful children -- then I guess I will take it!  Besides, days of wearing two pieces are *mostly* behind me, and I sure as heck don't walk around wearing cropped tops or sports bras -- that is just not my style.  I'll just have to do some extra toning to get those spots back into shape (since reconstructive surgery is not on my list of fun things to do).

Have you ever wondered what five pounds of fat looks like -- let me forewarn you, it's REALLY GROSS:

See!  Told you -- pretty nasty, eh?

To be honest, I could probably stand to lose about five more pounds.  But, I am happy and confident with my body as it is right now....and I can't even tell you the last time I felt that way! My pants are all loose on me! There is no more searching in the morning for what 'will fit me'...instead I can just pick from my clothes what I 'feel like wearing' is so liberating and saves me SO MUCH TIME in the morning!!  I don't get that muffin top over the top of my pants when I sit behind the wheel of my car anymore!  I have more energy and am making smarter choices when it comes to food choices again.  I can go to the store and try on a size 4 or 6 and they more 'doing the dance' to get the pants up!  That, in and of itself, feels like a MAJOR victory to me. 

I also got more TONED.  My legs and butt (as a result of the running and interval training) feel rock hard (and Max can probably confirm this for you if there are any doubts, LOL).  I do need to work harder on my abs and upper body since these tend to be the weakest.  I think I will focus more on these during the upcoming months. 

The biggest eye opener to me during this entire process was my portion size and how many calories I was actually ingesting.  I started tracking EVERYTHING that went into my mouth using Livestrong.  I highly recommend this website -- they have a lot of pre-loaded foods in there and you can even create your own recipes so you can track better.  It gives you some good guidelines as far as macro-nutrients go for what you should be shooting for.  I went with the 40% carb, 30% protein, 30% fat guideline that a friend and personal trainer recommended.  I definitely felt fuller longer. The first week of trying to eat only 1400 calories was rough.  I know some people eat even less than that on a daily basis, but I was shooting for loss of ~1 lb/week, so I could have a little higher range.  It really got me into the mindset of eating ~300-400 calorie meals three times a day and ~100 calorie snack three times a day.  When you spread your food out like that, you never really get a chance to be hungry.  AND, when your food choices are healthy and lean proteins and healthy fats (nuts, avocados, etc), it takes a lot longer for your body to digest the food and you really do feel fuller faster.

Some of my favorite go to meals were:  Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, couscous, and the Havana Salad I shared with you earlier.  I didn't deprive myself of sweets or beer/wine either,  I just made sure I had enough calories at the end of the day to indulge in a modest amount.  That way I never truly felt deprived of anything.

As far as exercise, I do 3-4 days of hard cardio (running or interval training for a minimum of 3 miles at a time...I alternate between running and the intervals) - shooting for about 400-500 calories burned.  Then I try to 1-2 days of strength or stretching and have one day of rest.  Strength might be doing my 'Biggest Loser' workout on the Xbox 360 -- it does have SOME cardio benefits, but it just doesn't feel the same as running 3 miles to me -- and I feel that I benefited more from the strength and resistance exercises that it included.  And yoga...I LOVE yoga (just not the Biggest Loser version of yoga...theirs is LAME).  Yoga is so wonderful because it forces you to slow down, relax and BREATHE.  As a plus, the boys love doing yoga with me and I can count it as fun mommy time.  :)

So, there you have it!  I'm so happy to be able to cross this one off my list -- and so EARLY in the year too!  How are YOU doing on your 2012 goals?  Any successes yet?  Any of your goals have to be re-worked?  Let me know in the comments...I'd love to hear from you too!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Family Game Night

As part of my plan to help my "strong-willed" four year old, we are trying to be more present in the moment with the kids.  I'm not going to is hard after working a full day and rushing home to get dinner on the table.  But there are small things that we can do to spend time together and have fun.  When it is warmer out, that will entail family walks and spending time at the park and outside.  We can spend some time outside now as it is warming up, but that time is still limited because of daylight hours and the fact that fingers get chilly quickly.

Tonight we decided after dinner to have a 'game night'.  Sam picked Hullabaloo, one of his favorites. It really is a fun game...Max gets into it and I am always impressed with his direction following skills (his sore-loser skills, not so much, LOL).

Anyways, I thought I'd share some of our fun for today:


And the BEST part of this week so far?  Picking Max up from school and learning he had AWESOME days -- he got stickers in his reward chart and high praise from everyone.  Let's hope this is a continuing trend!

Monday, February 27, 2012

40 bags in 40 days: Week One

How are YOU doing on our 40 bags in 40 days Lenten Challenge?

So far, this is what we've accumulated:

3 boxes and one bag -- I am sorting the purging as I am going so in this picture we have 1 bag of trash, 1 box for goodwill and 2 boxes for an upcoming rummage sale my friend will be having this spring.  I'm happy with what we've come up with so far. All of this came from the boys' playroom.  I had Little Max pick 5 toys to give to other kids without toys.  At first, this was a really hard concept for him to understand, but then he picked out some of his nicer toys (that I was even reluctant to part with) and we went on our merry way.  :)

I also tackled the basement this weekend and did a bunch of organizing and have another two LARGE boxes to add to this mix.  But, I didn't take a picture of them so I'll probablly add them to next week's haul once I get them up the basement stairs.  There is still A LOT more to go through down there, so I am confident I can get a few more bags/boxes out of the basement.  Next week I am going to focus on CLOSETS.  Actually looking forward to that!  :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Foodie Friday: Coconut Milk Dal (Coconut Lentil Stew)

This week, I was craving something coconuty...and something hearty - so I googled "coconut soup" and found this recipe at Oh Taste N See and thought I'd give it a try...

Now, my picture looks NOTHING as beautiful as the one on their website -- I'm not quite sure how they got that beautiful color to the stew unless it was because of the red lentils they used (I could only find regular lentils at my grocery store); but let me assure you, the taste was DELICIOUS.  I wholeheartedly recommend trying this out!

Coconut Milk Dal (Coconut Lentil Stew)
amended from Oh Taste N See

1 cup lentils
1 can coconut milk (I used Lite)
1/4 cup cream of coconut (I had this left over in the fridge and figured it couldn't hurt)
1 TBSP curry paste
1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrot, diced

15 cherry tomatoes (halved)
2 cups broth (or you could just use water)

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer, uncovered for about 30 minutes. (I simmered mine a bit longer because I got distracted on the phone and it just was a thicker consistency, which I actually preferred).  You could always add more/additional veggies if you so desired. 

I mixed in 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and served mine over jasmine rice. 

Verdict = DELICIOUS.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Strong-Willed Four Year Old

These past few weeks we've been going through a lot of  'behavioral challenges' at our house.  Our normally sweet, funny and silly four year old has been testing boundaries like they are no body's business.  The majority of it has culminated in potty language or talking back or stomping away while muttering something under his breath.  But, there have been a few times where it has resulted in hitting -- and this isn't just happening at home to mom or dad, we've had reports of him hitting at school too (both classmates AND teachers).  I have no tolerance for children hitting in my house -- neither does school, so this HAS to end.

Punishing or reprimanding him when this happens results in large tear-fests or temper tantrums.  Then I find myself asking: Am I getting my point across by implementing a time out or are we just having a power struggle and neither of us learns the lesson at the end?  Is there a better way that I could handle the situation?  Probably...I am open to any and all suggestions...

I have to admit, though this should be the least of my concerns, I am embarrassed by his behavior.  I find myself blaming myself as his mother -- that he somehow must be learning to do this at home.  I know I'm not a perfect mother -- after a long day I might snap back or have a shorter than normal fuse.  I'm only human; I have to admit that.  I do try to recognize when it happens and apologize to him and ask for a 'do over'. 

Is it coming from somewhere deeper.  Is it an inability to find the words to express his frustration? Maybe; he is 4 years old with quite an extensive vocabulary, but maybe he can't find the words quickly enough.  Is it a lack of practice in patience and not being able to hold back his frustrations?  Probably; don't we all have problems with that from time to time?  Is it just a cry for attention?  Once he gets my attention by throwing the fit, saying the naughty words or striking out he seems to calm down.  I just want my boys to grow up to be nice people, kind people, empathetic people -- how can I make this be a reality?

Why am I sharing this with you?  I don't really know...maybe there are some of you out there who are dealing with things like me (I know of some of you already)...and maybe, just maybe what I've been going through can help you or you can help me.

Maybe it is just to get this off my chest in a public way so I can't pretend it's not happening anymore or ignore it... Honestly, I don't know why I'm sharing this please bear with me.  :)

What have we tried so far?  Re-directing, removal from the situation, time outs, loss of privileges -- none of it seems to be working.  I think we need a new strategy and quick. I have a few ideas.

But first, I have to share with you one thing that has been weighing on my mind since my husband brought it home from Parent/Teacher conferences on Monday (no I wasn't there because I totally spaced out on it and FORGOT...BAD MOM). 

Max's teacher interviewed the kids and asked them all sorts of questions:  their names, their address, their parents name, etc. 

One question in particular struck a real chord with me:

What does your mom do?  "type on the computer while we play"

Max read this to me and made fun of me.  It was particularly funny when you read the next question:

What does your dad do?  "wash the dishes"  BAHAHAHA.

But I digress -- is this how my child sees me?  As a computer typing maniac that doesn't spend time with him?  Because that is EXACTLY how I am reading it.  And then it got me to thinking.  Back at the beginning of 2012 I posted my goals for the year.  Remember #7?  Let me refresh your memory:

"7. Be more present in the moment -- it is amazing to me how many times I comment on or realize how fast life goes by -- how my youngest is ALREADY 20 months seems like he was just born. I want to be more in the moment to be experiencing all these moments in their childhood. It seems silly that I should need to remind myself to be more present, but I do. There are so many distractions out there -- Internet, magazines, TV, etc."


So, before I go analyzing anything more about what might be 'wrong' with my four year old, or wrong about my behavior or his, I am going to fix this one thing.  Because I have a strong feeling that it is going to make a huge difference.  And I will let you know how that goes.

So, my strategy for now is to:
1.  Be more present in the moment -- be a MOM to my kids and not just "mom" my kids
2.  No hitting and no yelling at home period.  Even when a swat to the bottom is tempting or I feel I am losing my cool, none. This might be hard, but I HAVE to be vigilant.
3.  Give more choices.  A good friend passed along this article to me, and reading through it I felt like I was reading about my child.  I don't WANT to break his spirit -- it is part of what makes him so incredibly adorable to me.  I need to remember that his 'big passionate feelings' are important (and oh man does that describe ME to a "T" also!!)

And at the end of it, I hope this is what I get to see more of every day:

None of this will happen over night.  I know it takes time to make change happen -- just like going on a diet or learning to eat right.  This will not be easy and it will be a challenge.  But, isn't that life?  And in the end, isn't it worth it?  I DEFINITELY think so...

**photos courtesy of Shannon Wucherer Photography**

Monday, February 20, 2012

Forty Bags in Forty Days: my Lenten Goal for 2012

I have decided that this year for Lent, instead of giving something up (like chocolate, or TV, or Facebook), I am going to give something AWAY.  And by saying "I", I am really saying "WE" whole family is going to be along for this ride whether they like it or not.

Last year, you may remember that one of my goals for the year was to 'purge' -- and we did a pretty good job of that as we packed up all of our belongings and moved to a new house.  The only problem is, the new house is bigger....MUCH BIGGER than the old house, and stuff has begun accumulating.  Also, some of the stuff from the old house just doesn't work here in the new house...and I think I really need to give up trying to find a place for it.  Someone else will have a better use for it than it sitting in a box in my basement.

So, when I saw the challenge by Sarah over at Clover Lane, I decided I need to jump on board for my own sanity.  Sarah is doing it with garbage bags...I'm not quite ready to make that large of a commitment (although it might turn out that way in the end), so for now, my 40 bag challenge will include plastic grocery bags as some of my bags.

One of Sarah's tips is:  "to touch everything in the room or area that I am working on. If I have boxes, clothes, books, matter what, I go through each item and make a decision to keep, give away, throw away."  And I totally agree. 

I realize this is going to sound dorky to say, but the one area of our house that I am super excited to get my hands on is our basement.  We've never fully unpacked some of the boxes down there and stuff has been piling up from birthdays and holidays.  My 'stud' of a husband recently volunteered his services to build some new shelves in the basement to hold my plethora of rubbermaid bins.  What a guy!  His handyman skills are inspiring me to put my organizationals skills to the test!  Let's see what the two of us can come up with...we make a great duo!

Want to join me?  Just let me know in the comments.  I'll try to check in every Wednesday (since Lent starts this Wednesday with Ash Wednesday) to let you know how we are doing! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Week 7: Project 366

Week 7 of Project 366!  I'm impressed I've made it this long!

43| 366 Playdate - Feb 12, 2012 - Nina came over for a Sunday morning playdate (or Sunday morning coffee talk for Mommy and Laura).  We're so lucky our kids get along so well.  (And yes I did finally put away all the xmas paraphenlia, so the card holder on the shelf behind them is now thankfully packed up until next year).

44 | 366 - Wrestling -  Feb 13, 2012  Sam is into all types of sports and "boy" activities.  Wrestling is one of his favorites.  He 'got me' here.

45 | 366 New Year's Resolutions - Feb 14, 2012.  I was waiting and waiting for school to send this piece of Little Max's artwork home with me.  His resolution for 2012 is to "clean the dishes and clean up the mess for 100 days".  What a goal setter, my son!

46 | 366 hearts - Feb 15, 2012.  Valentine's heart garland made out of paint chips.  LOVE it.  I will probably have this hanging until Easter.  :)

47 | 366 sucker  - Feb 16, 2012.  My little sucker eating a Valentine's day sucker after dinner.  He looks so grown up in this picture...and he really needs a haircut!

48 | 366 Tikka Masala - Feb 17, 2012.  I made this recipe after pinning it to my 'Crockpotting' board on Pinterest, and I was not impressed.  I did add lentils to it, but I don't think that was the issue.  I'm not ready to give up on Tikka Masala yet and will try another recipe first.  What this dinner WAS successful in doing, however, was giving me cravings for Ethiopian food.  I love going HERE...anyone want to join me?

49 | 366 stud - Feb 18, 2012 - My stud of a husband has decided to build me some shelving units in the basement. I am such a lucky girl! AND, he did it all in ONE DAY (without being asked). SWOON.

Week 6: Project 366

36 | 366 heron
Feb 5, 2012 - close up of a heron

37 | 366 beach fun
Feb 6, 2012 - we spent almost every day of our winter vacation at the beach, but the boys NEVER got tired of it!

38 | 366 sam smiles
Feb 7, 2012 - Sam was soaking up the sun!

39 | 366 boat ride
Feb 8, 2012 - we were treated to another boat ride and got to see lots of dolphins!   

40 | 366 sleeping on the plane
Feb 9, 2012 - my little munchkin fell asleep on me on the flight home -- he actually fell asleep while the plane was still lifting off! 

42 | 366 chia seeds
Feb 11, 2012 - breakfast of champions, greek yogurt, blackberries and chia seeds

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Week 5: Project 366

Day 29 | 366
Jan 29, 2012 - Sam tries eating the green marker and coloring with it at the same time...

30 |366 relaxation
Jan 30, 2012. I deserved this tonight.   

31 | 366 sunrise
Jan 31, 2012 - the sunrise from our kitchen...almost makes it ok to be up this early.

32 | 366 story time
Feb 1, 2012 - Granna reads bedtime stories to Max and Sam while on vacation in FL.

33 | 366 sanibel
Feb 2, 2012 - first stop, Sanibel island. The beaches are so beautiful!   

34 | 366 salty sam
Feb 3, 2012 - we took a boat out on the gulf this day and I had to snap a shot of the boys on the Salty Sam's chair
35 | 366 fishing
Feb 4, 2012 - little Max was great at fishing off my parent's dock and kept catching little snappers!
If you want to see all the photos in one big album, check out my Flickr Photostream.