Dear Johnny and Andy,

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but those names you called me back in high school…kinda left a mark.

High school can be hard enough as it is.  It’s the time when we’re trying to figure out where we fit in, who we are, how we see ourselves.  Body image is such a big part of that, probably a little more so for girls than boys.  No matter what your insecurities are, when a name is given to them, by your peers…it just confirms them, and hits you where it hurts.

I was skinny, gawky, and awkward in high school.  I had short hair (sometimes), and hadn’t quite yet “developed” (if you know what I mean).  As a result, I was given a few nicknames that weren’t so very flattering.  I was called:  “floor-boards”, “chicken legs” and my least favorite…”boy-girl”.  REALLY?!  I had a thick skin and a good sense of humor…but still!  Nobody wants to be the butt of someone’s mean-spirited jokes.  I imagine there are worse names to be called, but those were mine.  And I didn’t like them one bit.

Nowadays we hear so much about bullying- both cyber and actual.  There are always going to be jerks and name-callers.  I’m sure they’re dealing with their own insecurities, and this is the way they deflect attention from themselves, perhaps. Either way…moving beyond the names is a challenge.  I have always been very self conscious.   I hate mirrors.  I don’t really like to have my picture taken, etc.  But I feel like it’s getting better.  I’m really pushing myself out of my comfort zone these days, and I’m breaking down some of those poor self-images.  It’s amazing how much better you begin to feel about yourself, when you’re focusing on helping others.

It also helps that my sweet husband said this in regards to my high school nicknames the other day:  “Man, I really gambled on you back then.  I’d say I had 20 to 1 odds that you’d turn out so good-looking (with nicknames like that).  I guess when you gamble big, you win big.”  He was being funny of course.  I think he liked me just the way I was…even back then, chicken legs and all.  🙂

So there!  Take that Andy and Johnny!

Find a Reason

Image
4 My Dad

In October, two years ago, I ran the Chicago Marathon for the 4th time.  It was my slowest time, but the best run of all.  I approached the whole training season a little differently than I ever had before.  I wasn’t planning to run at all, having recently sprained BOTH of my ankles.  Despite lots of physical therapy, I just didn’t think they’d hold up through all training and the marathon itself.  And then I got a phone call that changed all of that.  I found out that my dad had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  I was shocked, sad and scared.  What can you do when you get news like that?  Well…you could freak out!  You could donate money.  For me, the first thing that popped into my head was to run the marathon (on 2 bad ankles), rally support from friends and family for my dad, and raise some money for Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s research foundation (a.k.a. TeamFox).  It made sense in my head.

So training was interesting with the ankles, and even more interesting given that it was a REALLY hot summer and my asthma decided to kick into high gear.  Yikes!  I approached every run totally differently than I ever had before.  I started leaving my Garmin (gps) at home, and just went out there to focus on WHY I was doing it.  My reason was bigger than my ankles, bigger than my asthma, and bigger than me.  I focused so much on that reason, that the rest didn’t matter.  I had four months of training to really think, and come to terms with my dad’s diagnosis.  I dealt with a lot of emotions and feelings.  Anyone who runs knows that it sort of becomes a form of therapy.  I needed that.  Don’t we all!?

So marathon day came.  I had no garmin, no watch, somewhat healthy ankles and TWO inhalers!  It was another hot marathon day.  Ugh.  Despite using my inhaler every 20-30 minutes, I made it!  It wasn’t a personal record, by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a personal triumph.  Again, I thought of my dad and my reason for the entire race.  This was the culmination of all of my hard work and therapy!  I felt awesome!  People commented on the message I had Sharpied on my legs and cheered me on.  My reason carried me through, and reaching the finish line was sweeter than ever, despite it being my slowest time.  I felt good!

I have a new goal now, a new reason.  It’s bigger than me!  I feel good knowing that friends and family members are joining me on my new mission!  Health & fitness can be contagious.  I highly recommend getting this bug, it’ll make you feel good.  And feel free to infect other people, they’ll thank you for it later. 🙂

Turkey Sausage & Whole Wheat Tortellini Soup

This is probably my favorite soups of all time!

1 pkg. Sweet (or Hot) Italian Turkey Sausage (I use Jennie-O which is 19.5 oz.)

1/2 C. Chopped onion

3 cloves of garlic

5-6 C. Broth (vegetable, beef or chicken would work)

1/2 C. Red Wine

1/2 C. Water

3 large tomatoes (peeled, seeded & chopped) or a 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes

1. C. sliced carrots

1/2 T. basil

1/2 t. oregano

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 1/2 C. sliced zucchini or squash (or both)

1 pkg. fresh whole wheat tortellini (mine is 9 oz.)

3 T. chopped fresh parsley

2 C. baby spinach

Directions

1.  In a large pot (dutch oven), remove sausage from casings and brown.  Remove from pot, reserving 1 tablespoon of drippings.

2. Saute onion, garlic and carrots.  Stir in broth, water, wine, tomatoes, basil, oregano, tomato sauce and sausage.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat: simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

3. Stir in zucchini/squash and parsley.  Simmer covered for another 20-30 minutes.  *Add the tortellini the last 10 minutes.  Add spinach at the very end.   Sprinkle a little Parmesan on each serving.   Makes about 8 servings.

My Mom was a Health-nut BEFORE it was Cool!

I used to get irritated with my mom when she would pack me a whole wheat bread sandwich, an apple and a bag of carrot sticks for lunch.  Especially when my friends sitting next to me had their Wonder bread, factory bag of chips and Twinkies.  It was hard to be me, or so I thought.  At home it was the same.  Ask my mom today, and she’ll tell you that you have to have something green with every meal.  This is how I was raised, and it has stuck with me!  She was and IS a very health-conscious person.  Both of my parents were pretty active when I was a kid.  My mom did some running and a few 5K’s .  My dad would get on these kicks where he’d ride his bike for several hours and come back to swim some laps.  He would play catch with me in the yard, etc.  I think these things shape us as kids.  I’m trying to do the same with my four kids, as much as possible.  They see me and my husband working out and making health a top priority in our lives.  I hope it will be for them, and their kids, too.  And so on.

I mean…look at these 2!  They are in their 60’s!Image

Breakfast of Champions!

Image

 

This is one of many variations of my favorite breakfasts.  When I’m not having Shakeology for breakfast (I’ll probably have it for lunch today) I like to scramble myself a couple of whole eggs plus 2 extra whites (more protein) and top them with a little organic spinach, some tomatoes (these are heirloom CSA tomatoes) and a spattering of reduced fat cheese.  This particular meal was completed by a heel of whole wheat toast leftover from my kids’ breakfast (couldn’t let it go to waste!).  

It Can Be Done!

You can have your vacation and your workout, too!  Found a Bow Flex, a 30 pound dumbbell, a 12 pound medicine ball and some perfect push-ups in my friend’s basement.  Add that to a power-walk to the post office with a bff…and my workout is checked off for today!  Yay me! 

image

Road Trip!

Road Trip!!  1 laptop, 1 tablet, 1 mp3 player, and 2 smart phones (plus 4 sets of headphones) to keep the kids occupied for 5 hours.  What ever happened to “Slug bug, no slug-backs”?  That was so much cheaper!

Going to do my best to stay on track with diet and workouts.  I even brought my Shakeology along just in case.  I also packed my running shoes and workout clothes. Wish me luck!

image

Put a Fork in Me!

It’s hard to explain how good you feel when you’ve given something (anything) all you’ve got and finished!  It could be a career goal, or a financial goal, or just a simple 30 minute workout.  There is no sense in doing something with 50% effort…you might as well not do it at all.  You’re either all in…or not!  Right?!  Can I get an amen!  I just feel so good when I’m done working out, knowing that I tried my hardest.  I may not always be able to do everything that the bouncy, crazy, Energizer Bunny lady (a.k.a. Chalene Johnson) is doing…but I do what I CAN do until I can’t do it for one more second.  And then I collapse in a puddle on the floor. 🙂  And then…grab a snack.  I earned it.Image

 

Here is my snack:  Honeycrisp apples dipped in chocolate PB2 (made with yogurt & a little water).  Delicious!

Real Fast Food!

I have always been a smoothie person.  Until recently, in order to make sure that I was getting ALL of the nutrients I could possible pack into my smoothie I would get out ALL of the following:  kale, spinach, almond milk, strawberries, banana, blueberries, pineapple, chia seeds, protein powder and ice!  Now I get out a bag of shakeology, ice, almond milk (or regular milk) and maybe a little PB2 (or just regular peanut butter).  The best part is I’m getting more nutrients than I was before, and it actually sustains me for 3 or more hours!  I can blend it up, pour it up and drink it up in less time than it used to take me to locate all of the ingredients I needed for my previous smoothies.  WINNING!

I’m a Hot Mess!

So I’m doing Chalean Extreme workouts and alternating with TurboFire.  I honestly can’t believe what a good workout I am getting.  I’ve been a runner for years, but these programs are so challenging!  I think maybe it’s just new for me, and so my body is kind of freaking out a little.  That is a good thing!  My muscles are confused and so am I (most of the time…lol).  I come upstairs when I’m finished and scare my husband and children.  I am literally a hot mess!  A hot SWEATY mess!  Image