Thursday, April 19, 2012

I have a dream...

Ever heard of Barbara Mencer? She is a physique competitor. Her story is inspiring.

She didn't start on her journey to fitness until she was in her 40's. She wasn't horribly overweight but her body fat percentage was unhealthy. She joined a gym and 6 months later she lost 16% body fat and dropped 20 pounds. Getting into shape changed her life. She entered her first competition and was hooked. This is her:

So, why am I sharing this with you? Because I would love to be a figure competitor. It's on my bucket list. It would be awesome if I could compete by the time I'm 40. That gives me 2 and a half years.

Sometimes I get frustrated by people who don't understand why I do what I do, in terms of diet and exercise. They seem to be overly critical of the way I eat or how much I train. This is the first time I've really voiced that fact that I actually have a goal to compete someday, so maybe now that I've come out with that dream, it might stop some of the insanity. Then again, it might just make it worse.

Barbara Mencer (above) said it perfectly:

Her trainer told her she would get a lot of "advice" from friends and family but to simply thank them for their concern and ignore their suggestions. Good call!

[I'm not quoting her exactly here, but pulling out pieces of a statement that I can relate to]

"Prepping for a show can be very lonely - long hours in the gym, eating meals out of sight of family and friends who didn't understand this journey I was on and who made endless comments about what I was eating - or not eating"

WOW, I certainly know what THAT'S like!

People always assume I'm dieting to get thinner. Which of course leads to the fear that since I'm so thin already, I'm on this unhealthy path of self destruction. But it couldn't be farther from the truth. If these "assumers" actually took the time to understand what it is I am trying to achieve, and what it takes to get there, they wouldn't be jumping to conclusions. But, it's taken me a long time to see it from a holistic standpoint, I don't really expect them to get it.

I'm not trying to get thin. I'm actually trying to get bigger in some ways, and yet smaller in others. I am trying to build muscle, and shed the fat covering the muscle. It's not unhealthy. Quite the contrary, in fact. Because to do this sort of thing, you have to have an exceptional diet. There is a science to how and when you must feed your body. And doing it right can also boost your immune system. You don't get into competition shape easily. It requires a certain amount of effort, sacrifice and determination. I used to think that getting the diet right was the hardest part. Now I think the hardest part is swimming through the sea of negativity that surrounds my habits.

Generally, it's the know-it-all's that have the loudest opinions. Of course, you'll never please these people either way. If you're "too fat", they'll criticize your diet and amount of exercise you do. If you're "too thin" they'll criticize your diet and amount of exercise you do. You see where this is going, don't you?

My love for fitness and health started out as merely a quest to lose extra weight gained during pregnancy. Actually, all my life I've held a certain interest for it, but it never really blossomed until after I started watching what I ate and working out. I realized how much better I felt. More energy, improved mood, higher confidence. Eventually it evolved into a passion.

My passion mostly lies within weight lifting. The idea of women lifting weights is not often a receptive one. People have this mental image of manly faced women on stage flexing obscene amounts of muscle.

Competitive athletes have several divisions as options to reach the stage, not just bodybuilding.

This woman is a national heavy weight bodybuilding competitor. This is NOT what I am trying to achieve.

 This is a top figure competitor. See the difference. She still has a feminine shape, yet she has defined muscles and is very lean.

There are also bikini competitors, which look a lot like the figure competitors except they aren't required to get as lean and therefore don't look as muscular.

So you see, there are different levels you can take your body. It's about your own personal preference and capabilities.

I am very interested in all things fitness. That's me. For my husband, it's all things techy. That's him. For a bird lover, it would be all birds. For a cook, it would be all food. And so on. You get the idea. The point being, we are all different. That's why we are called I-N-D-I-V-D-U-A-L-S.

You don't have to like what I do. You don't have to agree with my goals. You can continue to wonder if what I'm doing is healthy or not. I don't care! Because every time you question if what I'm doing is good for ME, you are really questioning what's good for YOU.

Live your dream. Let me live mine.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Boring to eat for health?

I don't think so.

This looks like chocolate cake with heavenly frosting. It's actually a home made protein bar with home made "nutella" spread as frosting.

And it tastes like chocolate cake with heavenly frosting.

Except it's only 140 calories. And has over 9 grams of protein, only 14 carbs and 6.7 grams of healthy fats. All natural and healthy ingredients.

If something is important to you, you'll make it happen. If not, you'll make excuses. Of course you'll have to listen to some people try to bring you down because you eat this way or make exercise a part of your life. I just figure it's their "hater" side showing. They don't have the will or ambition themselves, so they make it a point to criticize what you do.

Good for them. Haters need goals too!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Don't have a heart attack

I hate to shock you with an actual post, but look what I did today:

That is home made "Nutella".

Our family LOVES Nutella. Can you blame us? It's flippin' delicious! But WOW the calories. 100 per tablespoon. Have you ever tried to eat just 1 tablespoon of Nutella? Liar.

The first ingredient listed is sugar. I love the ads for Nutella. Feed your kids good nutritious Nutella! All natural ingredients! Full of healthy hazelnuts! Sugar? Yeah.....about that....

Anyway, I got this recipe from the lovely Flavia Del Monte, who got it from the Dessert Angel cookbook. It's very quick and easy. This is all you need:

Coconut milk, RAW organic honey, dark chocolate and hazelnuts. Just four pure, healthy ingredients. They are still highly caloric, you don't want to be eating it by the cupful just because the ingredients are healthy. But don't shy away because of it. I mean, avocados are very high in fat and calories but oh so good for you. Moderation is the key.

Oh, and did I mention HALF the calories of Nutella??? And less than half the fat. MMmmmm!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

An end to the insanity, er, vacation

Easter vacation is over. Yay! It was great and all, but I thrive on "normal" daily life. On the habit and ritualistic fashion of my days at home. Alone. I love love love my kids and husband and having them home during the day with me is a vacation from the daily humdrum monotony I sometimes complain about. But, it's back to normal around here today. This means, I can get back to eating more healthfully (man, does my family like to gravitate towards sugar), back to my normal gym hours, back to getting things done like vacuuming, dusting, washing clothes, etc. Back to reality. And I like it.

Oh we had fun though. Of course the "Easter Bunny" went WAY overboard this year, even though he promised me, after last year, that he would not do that ever....ever again. And we all ate copious amounts of cadbury eggs, snickers eggs, Reece's eggs, coconut cream eggs and every other kind of egg imaginable. 5 GROCERY BAGS FULL, in fact. Sadly, I am responsible for this *spoiler alert* because I AM THE EASTER BUNNY. Sorry, Eden.

And I thought I'd be able to stay out of it. HA! But I've packaged up what was left and put it away so that it's not sitting out, daring me to eat it. I actually, honestly and truly, get dizzy when I eat sugary stuff like candy bars anymore. I'm just not used to it. And it's a really horrible feeling. But the feel good portion of my brains cares nothing about how my body will feel afterward. It's simply thinking of the instant gratification it gets from the sugar.

Anyway, the kids were wondering why I always call the Easter Bunny a "he". And I explained that I just had always imagined him to be male. Otherwise, it would have bows on the ears or wear a skirt, like Peter Rabbit's mom. Right? Plus, Santa, Cupid, and Leprechauns are all male. Why not the Easter Bunny. It's my logic.

And we had another Chopped competition. For lunch on Saturday, the girls went against each other for an entree and dessert round. Eden came out victorious. Then for dinner, Andreas and I went head to head on an appetizer and entree round. I kicked butt!! No pictures this time. Dang! What was I thinking?!?! Andreas is a super great cook, but he doesn't really cater to the kids. He gets too fancy and they don't really know how to appreciate that yet. I made shoe string french fries and pastry wrapped fried hot dogs. I mean, come on, what kid isn't going to like that??? Surprisingly enough, they loved my entree as well. I made potato soup and ham & cheese stuffing cups. Yum.

Andreas's appetizer was a perfect little pastry parcel with ham, carrots, brussel sprout pieces and onion inside. It was beautiful, just not quite cooked through. And the entree was a creative wrap with pan fried banana, rice, orange and some other stuff I can't remember. The kids really didn't like the cooked banana which was what ultimately sunk him. I thought the flavors were marvelous though. But kids are picky about food textures.

Yesterday, we ate pizza and ice cream down town and got Emma's passport renewed. Or applied for a new one, I should say, because her old one is expired or about to expire. She was just a little baby when she got her first one. Seems like eons ago. The girls spent most of their vacation playing (and fighting over) LaLaLoopsy dolls. There are 6 new ones in their collection now which brings the total up to a ridiculous 40, or something near that. It's almost like the squinkie craze. Although they never played with them much. At least these dolls get played with. Constantly.

I just read an article about how scaling down on "stuff" can improve your family's quality of life. And it talks about teaching children that happiness comes from within and not from material possessions, like having the latest tech gadgets or every action figure in the collection, etc. It made me feel incredibly guilty. Because, although I am not a hoarder, I am a bit of a collector and do find it hard to throw out the old when I get the new. I hold a lot of sentimental value in "stuff". And I also am way too guilty of buying my kids "stuff" that I think will make them happy, even if they don't need it (eh hem.....more lalaloopsy dolls). But they get an allowance and usually spend it on the dolls so it isn't all me. Either way, learning to live a simpler life without wanting more and more and more is something I would love for them to learn. It's what the Bible says we should do anyway. I need to work on that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

easter treats

mini carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

This is supposed to be a carrot in the dirt

This is a few of the 80 we made.

The girls helped decorate them and I think they did an awesome job.
I was in the kitchen from 2pm until after 11pm on Saturday baking and decorating
goodies for Sunday. It was a blast.
I'm glad it's over.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Beware: disgusting story ahead

My mom has been sick with a nasty cold for the past week and a half and unfortunately she wasn't feeling up to church or dinner with the family. So like the good daughter I am, I brought her some food from the Easter feast, an Easter basket with some treats and a little potted flower to brighten her day.


Yeah, I'm so sweet aren't I?

Anyway, I rode the elevator up to her 3rd floor apartment since I had my hands full. I noticed when I stepped out of the elevator that it smelled as though someone really needed to throw away their garbage. I was praying the smell wasn't coming from my mom's place. But thankfully, when I opened her door, all I could smell was fresh air. Phew!

When I left, I took the stairs. And on my way down I noticed something on one of the steps. As I got closer, it sort of looked like a turtle. Or a big sock stuffed with something. Until I got next to it and discovered it was the BIGGEST TURD I have EVER seen in my LIFE!!!!! Right there, on the carpeted stairs of my mother's apartment building.

I was so disgusted and appalled yet amazed at what I was standing there looking at. I ran down to second floor and knocked on my niece's apartment. I was going to drag her up to see this huge turd, to make sure I wasn't imagining things, but she didn't answer the door. So I texted her.

"Are you at home?"

"No. Why?"

And I told her the story.

"Like from a dog or what?"

"No way. It's way too big."

"I hope you picked it up."

hahaha........yeah RIGHT!

So I'm sitting here pondering how a turd ended up on the stairs and I can only think of two things:
1) it fell out of some one's garbage as they were taking it down to the dumpster, although that seems unlikely since there was no other sign of garbage anywhere
2) some sick human being actually took a dump on the stairs

And it couldn't possibly have been from an animal. I have a giant dog at home. I know what giant dog poop looks like. This was not doggy doo.


Oh, Happy Easter ;)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

don't be alarmed, I'm not going to kill you.....

On Friday, Hanna left her cell phone on the bus. She was devastated. I called Valley Bus to see if anyone could locate it for us. Indeed, the bus driver had found it and after describing it (which was easy enough since it has big cracks in the glass) we were told we could come pick it up Friday, they would be open until noon.

So yesterday, the girls and I headed out to do some shopping. They needed something pretty to wear for Easter, I needed shoes, blah blah blah, etc.. And our first stop was to be the office at the bus barn. I was told to take 5th Ave a few blocks north of Big Top Bingo, which I did. Then I was supposed to find Leahy Lane. I knew we weren't on Leahy Lane but in the middle of all the buses I saw an office with the sign Valley Bus. Ah, that must be it.

I parked the van and walked inside. The door was open, lights were one, but no one was there. The office sat empty, computer was off. So we stood there like idiots for 5 minutes thinking someone would show up eventually. But no one did, except for a worker with a fluorescent vest on who eyed us strangely but just walked away. Eventually, I called the number I called yesterday, thinking I might here the phone ring in the room we were standing. Nope. It directed me to live answering service.

This answering service man, whom I will hence forth refer to as Bob, said that he thought the office was probably closed.

"Uh, nope. I'm standing in it." I said

Bob: "Well, I think they are probably closed today."

Me: "But the woman I spoke with yesterday said that they would be open until noon and I could pick it up."

Bob: "Hmmm, let me take down your information and have someone call you back"

I was certainly frustrated at this point. I mean, I was standing in the stupid office yet Bob was telling me the office was closed. I was about 3 seconds from riffling through the desk for the phone. Not really, but I was thinking about it.

Then suddenly, another worker with a fluorescent vest walks in, stops dead in his tracks and glares at us.

"Yeah, Bob, someone just showed up. K thanks bye." and I hung up on the oh so helpful Bob.

Now I had this guy to deal with. He was burly. Kind of reminded me of a young version of Wilford Brimley - in his 50's maybe. Anyway, I explained the whole ordeal with him and he says, "Oh, it's probably in the other office. Follow me."

Of course, the other office.

So he got in his truck, we got in the van and followed him a block over to the "other" office. Cool. We were one step closer.

He got out of his truck and went into the building. Not waiting for me. I followed him in. Just as I got inside, I saw him disappear through this door. This was sort of like following the white rabbit. Should I go down the hole? I didn't see an employees only sign so I opened the door. Inside was like a big break room/kitchen type of thing. Again, no people but the lights were on. There was the rabbit, er, Wilford, or whatever the heck his name was. He was digging through a drawer and finally pulls out this giant effing knife and walks towards me!

Paralyzed. Can't move. Can't breathe.

Then he says, "Don't be alarmed, I'm not going to kill you." and starts laughing.

To which I said, "eh....heheh.....hehe.....he......." or something

Wilford walks past me, out the break room door and jimmies the lock to the front office (which is dark) open with the knife. After he is inside the office (the one that was supposed to be open) he easily finds the phone and I high tail it out of there. Thanking him profusely of course.

We laughed for miles in the van after I told the girls the knife story. But not as much as Eden and I did at church the other night. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to get the uncontrollable giggles during Maundy Thursday service???? A story for a different day.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sometimes I just call her snout

Lizzy usually drives me crazy in the morning. For about the first two or three hours she is constantly wanting out. Then back in. And out again. And back in. Out. In. Out. In.
You get the idea.
Or do you?

Sometimes (actually, most times) she goes out for only a few seconds before she scratches at the door wanting in again. Then, after I let her in, she stares at her treat jar. Then looks up at me. Back at the treat jar. Up at me. And so on.

I can do one of two things:
A) give her a treat and be done with it, even though she didn't DO anything deserving of a treat
B) walk away and ignore her

There are negatives to each of these choices at this point. Because if I give in and just give her a treat for stepping out onto the deck, she will continuously bark to go out...ALL...MORNING....LONG.

"Oh BOY! I go outside. I get treat! I go outside. I get treat!"
And I'm rewarding annoying behavior.

However, if I ignore her, she'll follow me around and bark at me until I give in.
Or, if I'm sitting at the desk (which is what I do in the morning before the gym), she'll get up in my face and poke me in the cheek with her snout.

I'll look at her and she'll back up, prancing around, ears perked up. And this will go on and on.
If she still isn't successful at getting a treat out of me, guess what she does?
Stands at the door and barks to go out again.

And it starts ALL over.

Finally, she'll get tired of the game and go lay down.
Then she is pretty mellow for most of the day.

Until the girls get home from school.
Then something clicks in her brain:
And she usually steals whatever she can that will warrant a chase
to save whatever it is from her destructive jaws.

"oh BOY! I'm getting attention! I'm getting attention!"

Below is Lizzy's "spot" by the front window. Her spot changed slightly when I rearranged the furniture a few weeks ago.

The couch used to be angled, and she had full access to the window, where she could bark endlessly at passers by and wind and what have you.

I thought it was much more aesthetically pleasing to move the couch under the window. The room looks way more comfortable now. And there was the added bonus that the couch would block the window, hence stopping Lizzy from going crazy over any outside movement and slobbering all over the glass.

She still goes crazy, it's just that now, she jumps all over the couch. Still the barking. Still the slobbering. But more of it ends up on the couch than the window.
I'm not sure that's an improvement.

Our window is a bay window so the couch isn't perfectly flush with the wall, which means there is a gap behind it. One time, Andreas came up behind Lizzy during one of her barking frenzies and it spooked her. She fell over the back of the couch. I didn't see it but I imagined it to be quite hilarious.
Then I imagined it probably hurt her.
Then I imagined it to be quite hilarious again.

I was recording Eden trying to get Lizzy to roll over last night. It was entertaining.
She was so covered in fur and slobber when it was all over I couldn't tell which one was Lizzy.

Dogs and kids......never a dull moment.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I need a vacation.

How was your weekend? Mine was....well....what did I do again?

I used to get excited for weekends. Time with family, doing things together, having more fun than a typical week day. But these days, we don't seem to do much. My week days and weekends just sort of seem to blend together. Because I do the same old, same old. Nothing is different for me. I crave a little action. Something exciting and different from the usual.

A vacation would be awesome! Keep dreaming, honey.

I keep thinking "one of these days....." God will find me deserving enough of a REAL vacation. Something along the lines of a week in paradise. But I suppose that won't happen until I find a job to pay for it. And then find a companion who would actually want to go with me. I'd take my husband, but I'm not sure he could handle being without his phone for a week.

My sister is trying to convince the family that we should all take a vacation together. I think this is a wonderful idea, however, getting 5 different families to get their schedules and budget in sync for something like this would be difficult. Then there is always the problem deciding where to go and having everyone agree. Still, it's a nice thought. Probably a once in a lifetime opportunity.

If I could go anywhere in the world, my top 5 picks would be Hawaii, the Bahamas, Greece, Italy, & France. I've been to France actually. Spent some time along the coast in a place called Erquy. I was in high school. This was where I was introduced to the wonder of Nutella! I did a significant amount of travelling when I was a kid. I was pretty lucky. I've actually done quite a bit of traveling as an adult since I've been married. I guess that is to be expected when you marry someone who is from a different country.

And I was just in New York last summer! Not exactly a relaxing getaway. Exciting nonetheless. And Duluth the summer before that. Oh boy! I did love it there though. Lake country is beautiful. It reminded me of childhood except there were waterfalls and you couldn't see the other side of the lake.

Still, I long for paradise. I long for a honeymoon. No computers, no phones, no xbox. No mundane chores, no work, no stress. Just quality relaxation. Not lifting a finger. Sitting on a beach. Nothing to do, no where to be, no errands to run. Me and and the hubs. Ah.....what's that like?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ok, ok, you can see the picture ;)

My dad unexpectedly walked up to the front of the room and gave me a rose after my very last piano recital. I have my face buried in his shoulder because I was bawling. He also embarrassed me slightly with a little speech where I remember him saying he always wanted to hear one of his kids play this song (Claire De Lune - his favorite), and "tail end Charlie" - as he called me - finally did. The second I saw him rise from his chair with that rose in his hand, I burst into tears. It's hard to explain why, kind of a mixture of things. I knew it meant a lot to him. And he didn't always do stuff like this. It was one of my very favorite memories.

Many years later, this same song would be played at his funeral. It will always have
such special meaning to me.

And this next one is one I found of me in 1978. Was I cute or what?
I took it home because, in light of the recent butt obsession at our house,
I thought the girls would get a kick out of it.
I cropped it so you can't see (of course) but it looks as if
I was picking my butt.

So, there you go.