Conspiracy Theory

I have a theory.  A conspiracy theory.

I am starting to believe that there are unseen forces at work to keep me from exercising.  Sprites…gnomes…gremlins…I’m not 100% sure what form they’ve taken, but they are definitely out to get me.  First it was shin splints.  Then a weak hip.  Then a broken toe.  Most recently?  A stupid cough.

It’s always something, right?

Six weeks ago, I got an upper respiratory infection of some kind (viral), and the cough lingered forever.  I had to take four weeks off from exercise, since any small movement – getting up, sitting down, breathing in general – sent me into a coughing fit.  I finally got back to my aerobics two weeks ago, and even though I could only give about 90% effort at first, it felt good to be active again.

We’ll see how long it lasts before the next sprite-ly attack occurs.

My family fell prey to the potpourri of winter ailments, too.  Double ear infections, strep throat, fever…the usual January/February stuff.  But I think we are all on the mend.

We’ve had a few warm days recently, and even though I LOVE winter, I have to admit the warmer temps are nice.  With the pending time change next month, I hope I will be able to get back outside for walking/jogging/running.  I love being outdoors!  Exercising to an aerobics video in my bedroom is good, but getting fresh air and walking past my beloved cow-spectator-friends in our neighbor’s fields is way more fun!  Tonight, I compromised.  Aerobics in my bedroom with our balcony door open.  :)

open door

Such a pretty day!

Despite not being able to exercise for most of January, I did lose about five pounds – yay!  Mostly just because I was no longer stuffing my face at holiday parties.  No weight lost in February, sadly.  But it’s good to be back on a “normal” (read – “busy”) routine with Spring just around the corner.  Our Spring Break starts in 18 days.  Can’t…get here…soon enough….

I mentioned in a previous post that my 20-year high school reunion is this summer, and the committee recently announced that it will be in July.  What a motivator to get back in shape!  I’m not under any delusions that I can ever reclaim my high school size, but I would like to look somewhat healthy when I reconnect with my old chums.  I can’t wait to see how everyone has changed!

Well, that’s about all the news I have for now.  I hope you are sticking to any New Year’s goals you set for yourself.  I recently heard on the radio that the first week of February is when most people give up their New Year’s resolutions.  Here is a link to some fun facts about how people did with their resolutions in 2015:

Whatever goal you’re working toward, don’t give up!  :)

Cooking Goals

So, the first week of my revamped weight-loss efforts went fairly well.  :)

I exercised four of the seven days since my last post.  Not a bad start!  I’m starting over very slowly.  As someone who’s dealt with shin splints and other workout-woes in the past, I know from experience that starting out easy then increasing the intensity of activity gradually is key to avoiding injury.  I’ve done too-much-too-soon in the past, and it makes you want to quit when you’ve barely even begun!

Today was my first day back at work after Christmas break.  Let’s just say it was a Monday…ten-fold.  But exhausting day as it was, I managed to use what little stamina I had left to cook a healthy dinner.  It wasn’t a very fancy dinner – pork loin, green beans, and rice – in fact, it’s very dull – but it’s a step toward a new goal I’ve set:  cooking at home more often.

I like cooking.  I’m not very good at it, but I enjoy it.  I’m way better at baking – sweet treats, especially – which I’m sure accounts for a good portion of my waistline problems.  But I am not a very experienced cooker-of-dinners.  Why?  Several reasons.  First, my mom wasn’t a very fancy cook.  Everything she prepared was delicious, but it was usually pretty basic.

Second, I never really bothered to learn to cook beyond my comfort zone when I got married.  There were only two of us, and as many newlyweds have discovered, it wasn’t really worth all that effort to cook for two people.  Eating out was way more fun, and since we didn’t have kids or serious financial commitments early on, we could afford it!

Now, if you know me, you know I love my husband more than anything on God’s green earth.  Anything.  Even chocolate.  But you also know that he is the single most picky eater I have ever encountered.  That is…until our children were born.  Our firstborn is almost as bad as his father.  Our second-born is a hundred times worse.  Oh. My. Word.  It boggles the mind.

So I have a house full of picky eaters.  Or, people with “very selective palates,” as my husband says in attempt to make it sound classy.  Nice try.  You’re picky, honey.  It is next to IMPOSSIBLE to get them to try new foods.  I’ve even bribed the children (and the hubs) with trips to fun places…like Disneyworld.  No dice.  They’d rather go hungry.  So I am resigned to cook very plain, simple meals that they will eat.  While I’m happy to eat anything and everything under the sun!  Except olives and mushrooms.

<shivers>  I shudder just thinking about them.

I have decided to try what lots of people out there do:  fix a large (healthy) dish and take it to work with me during the week.  I’ve added this goal to my weight-loss plan, because eating out for lunch was one of several contributing factors to my putting on ten pounds of the twenty I lost.  I used to treat myself to eating out for lunch once a week.  That was a splurge I allowed myself to have when I went back to work full-time.  I love taking the opportunity every week to sit and have lunch alone.  Occasionally I will go with a friend, and that’s lots of fun too.

But this summer and fall – during and after the dreaded auction preparations – I was so stressed out that I stopped making an effort to pack healthy lunches.  There were weeks when I’d eat out two or three times for lunch.  Couple that with eating out a few nights every week, and I was eating out waaaaay too much.  So I would like to start cooking healthy dishes that I can take to work.

New, bold, exciting dishes that no one else in my house will want.  :)

Does anyone out there have a stack of magazines like this:

Cooking Light

Magazines that you’ve saved for reasons you can’t explain?  Pictures of home décor you keep meaning to cut out?  DIY projects and crafts you think you might try someday?  Vacation spots you’d like to visit?

Back when I started this blog two years ago, I started a subscription to Cooking Light so I could discover fresh, new, healthy recipes.  I think in two years I have cooked one recipe from this magazine.  Because I kept waiting for a dish I thought my family might enjoy.  Clearly, I will never find new favorite recipes if I factor in their “selectiveness.”  So I am going to forge ahead and cook new dishes that I want to try.  I am going to revisit these old issues of Cooking Light, looking only through the lens of what I think sounds appealing.

I’m thinking maybe cooking on Sunday nights will work.  We almost always eat a big family meal on Sunday afternoons, so I rarely eat dinner on Sunday nights.  If I do, it’s just a bowl of cereal or a small bag of popcorn.  Occasionally, my husband has to be gone overnight, so those nights will be good for adventurous cooking, too.

If you have a favorite recipe that 1) is healthy, 2) doesn’t have lots of pricey/hard to find ingredients, and – most importantly – 3) is easy to prepare, please share it in the comments section.  I’m open to anything!  :)

Happy cooking, friends!

My Love/Hate Relationship with Running

Oh boy.  How to begin this post?  I have so much on my mind I don’t know where to start.  First of all, I hate that I have only been making about one blog entry a month…not very bloggy of me.  It’s been more than a month since my last post.  A lot has happened during that time, and yet I feel that there’s not much to report.  Just the usual life-stuff that keeps me hopping.  The most noteworthy news is that I got to squeeze in a quick trip to Albuquerque to visit with friends…yay!  Other than that, it was business as usual.

I need to clarify two things in the title of today’s post: 1) it’s really more of a like/dislike relationship that I have with running (love and hate are probably too strong), and 2) when I say “running,” I really mean jogging/walking.  I do not – and sadly don’t think I ever will – consider myself a runner.  Remember when I first tried running last fall, I ended up with the most terrible shin splints.  I think that the main culprit of those shin splints was that I was running a path in my neighborhood with lots of hills.  After I finally recovered, cold weather had started to set in and the days were getting shorter, so I never really got back in the groove.

I really thought things would turn around for me this spring, but it seems they may not.  I can’t really come up with a cohesive way to tie together all my thoughts about my running experience, so today you are getting a list of random thoughts, some funny, some serious, and a few pictures sprinkled in.

Running Randomness

  1. Consistency is my biggest problem.  When my oldest son’s basketball season ended in February, he moved right into spring soccer.  At our local soccer complex, there is a decently smooth paved path between and around most of the fields.  Since the weather was starting to get nicer, I decided to start taking my running clothes to work so I could walk/jog at the soccer fields after work.  I was amazed at how easy it was!  A nice, flat area to run meant no shin splints for me, thank goodness.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t always the one to take him to practice, and soccer season was short-lived with several rainouts.  There is also a nice running/bike trail near my work, but I almost always have to hurry to pick up my boys from their grandma’s house.  The only time I can run on that trail is if my husband can pick up the boys.  Which leaves me with running in the mornings or evenings in my neighborhood.  So this past week, I started jogging in my neighborhood again, this time going a different direction that is not as hill-y as my previous path.  Here is a picture of said new path:running path
  2. Swallowing bugs is so gross.  I’m sure this happens to city-dwellers too, but running on a country highway has caused me to swallow lots of extra rough-age.
  3. But the fragrance of honeysuckles is amazing!  Oh my, the air is heavy with the smell of honeysuckles right now!  This was something I haven’t encountered yet since I started running in the late summer/early fall.  Running in the spring is great!honeysuckles
  4. Running is giving me bronchitis.  Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but this week I have encountered a whole new problem with running…runner’s cough!  It’s a real phenomenon!  This week I ran on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Wednesday night I started having a little bit of a cough, and by Thursday afternoon it was getting worse.  Friday morning I was coughing so deep that my chest was burning and I had to get out my cough drops.  I have heard of “runner’s knee” and things like that, so I decided to search online for information about “runner’s cough”…and I found all sorts of information about it.  The biggest thing I learned from my research is that I’ve been breathing wrong.  Figures.  I guess I’m supposed to be breathing from my belly.  And also inhaling through my nose, which I’ve tried before and found to be very difficult.  Anywho, I read several interesting articles.  Here is the link to an article from Runner’s World, which I found to be the most helpful:  I debated about whether or not I should run yesterday (Friday) since my chest was already hurting a little, but I decided I would go ahead and run a shortened path with my newfound breathing information.  Today I am coughing up green stuff.  Yuck.  This has not been an issue before.  Why is it happening to me now?  I read that it could be the pollen, humidity, or other environmental factors, but who knows.  I’ve wondered if running on a treadmill would be better, but now that I’ve run outdoors, I’m not sure I could enjoy a treadmill.  <sigh again>  Maybe I’ll give it a try.
  5. Cows make a great audience.  I pretend that they are cheering for me as I pass them.  Or maybe telling me to “Eat Mor Chikin.”  No, I cannot run on a treadmill without cows.running audience
  6. I enjoy running.  I really do.  I love being outside, and I feel like I’m going somewhere.  As I mentioned in The Plan, I’d love to run a 5K someday.  It’s still a goal I’d like to reach, but boy running is complicated.  For me anyway.  Does it come very naturally to some people?  It seems like a science, this running business.  And I never really did care for science.  I’m not giving up yet, but I can’t seem to get the hang of it.  Between trying to arrange childcare and getting my body to cooperate, it seems like running may not be in the cards for me.  I guess we’ll see how things go after I get over this cough.

Well, it’s about time for me to sign off.  Despite my yucky cough, I did a ton of yard work this morning, and I’m worn out!  I wish you all a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.  Please thank a service man or woman for their dedication to our country!  My silly running problems seem trivial when thinking about those who gave their all for our nation and our freedoms.  May God bless and comfort those who lost someone in the line of duty.  Goodnight, friends!


Shin Splints & Brown Rice

Wow!  What a week it’s been…and it’s only Tuesday!  Yesterday was the first day of school, both for my children and at the university where I work.  My youngest son started Kindergarten.  <sniff, sniff>  Needless to say it’s been an emotional couple of days.  <sniff, sniff>  The workplace has been a zoo, especially last week.  In college administration, the week-before-fall-classes-start madness is always a crazy time.

In other news, I have been slowly increasing my walking/jogging efforts, and now have shin splints to boot.  They are strange shin splints, though.  Not so much on the front of my legs (where I’ve had shin splints before), but on the inside of my legs.  I feel pretty certain that a lack of good running shoes is one culprit, but decided to call my sister-in-law – who’s in the medical field – for further possible causes and treatment.  She had some great tips for me, and I’m anxious to explore each one…stay tuned for more on this!

In still other news, my husband and oldest son have recently taken a liking to rice.  They are two of the pickiest eaters I know, outdone only by my youngest son.  I have been fixing white rice at least one night a week since this amazing discovery was made.  One nutrition book I’m reading suggests that brown rice is better for you than white rice.  Dedicated to buying better foods, I picked up some brown rice at the grocery store on Sunday.  Guess what?  Brown rice takes twice as long to cook as white rice.  I let it cook for 30 minutes (per package directions), and it still wasn’t tender.  It is still in the pot on the stove.  Yuck.  Back to white rice we go.  At least until I figure out the secret of cooking brown rice.

Well, I guess that’s all for tonight.  Gotta go elevate my legs (ouchie!) and get some shut-eye.  And brainstorm about what I’m going to do with a partially used bag of brown rice….