Spicing It Up

 

 

I recently came across an article stressing the idea that foods are not healthy. Some foods are nutritious and therefore improve our health but a food on its own is not healthy. The idea of adding foods into the diet as a way to stay healthy isn’t new to me. But I realized that many times I make the dietary changes solely to lose weight, not to become healthier.  Only in the last 5 years have I began to adjust my diet to improve my health. There are quite a few contradictory ideas out there which also adds to the confusion. I like coffee. Is it nutritious? Some say yes and some say no. I often use medicine to alleviate pain. Is this good? Many studies are now saying maybe it’s not. While I was reading these articles I stumbled upon an article about turmeric and was amazed at all the positive health benefits it provided. Turmeric is the root of the Cucurma longa plant. It is known for its strong peppery fragrance and bright orange/yellow color. It is best known as the spice in curry, a traditional Indian food. Throughout history turmeric has been used as a powerful medicine in China and India as an anti-inflammatory agent used to relieve arthritis, heartburn, stomach pain, jaundice, liver problems, headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, depression, and cancer (just to name a few). To be honest I was quite impressed with the quick research I did into this colorful spice. My thinking was if I could use this spice in my diet and replace a pill that might cause me to have a heart attack, I would be willing to give it a try.

Within a day I once again heard reference to this little gem in the form of the turmeric shot. While my computer was being fixed, I had a little time on my hands and caught the Today show. There was a clip discussing the use of turmeric shots as a health regimen of Rachel Hunter.  Honestly, I wasn’t paying much attention to the clip but the idea of drinking turmeric was interesting. I then began to research this. I found that turmeric shots are sort of the new rage with some juice bars charging $3 to $8 for a shot. A quick search on Google led me to sites that give basic instructions to create your own shot quite easy. I was able to mostly find the ingredients I needed, although I still haven’t found turmeric root and have been forced to use dried. Here’s a link to one that’s very similar to what I make.

Here’s my recipe:

  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 t dried turmeric
  • 1 t dried ginger (or 2 inches of ginger root juiced)
  • a dash of cracked pepper
  • (opt) a dash of cayenne pepper

I stir this all together and then drink up! Since turmeric is fat soluble I eat this with my breakfast which is almost always 2 eggs, 1/4 avocado and 1/2 a roma tomato. One recipe used coconut water and sweetened it with organic honey. I am trying to also cut back on sugar/carbs so I did not add any sweetener.

This will not taste great. I repeat, this WILL NOT taste great. However, I began to have positive effects within a day of trying. I am now on my third day. I have slept through the night every night, my everyday suffering of headaches has disappeared, I have lost 4.6 pounds in 2 days (turmeric is a diuretic so that could be why), my need for pain meds has vanished and I have an incredible amount of energy. As much as I am not a fan of the taste, I think I could continue these elixirs for some time.

Just to note, I am not a doctor. Please speak to your doctor about any dietary changes you are thinking of trying. This information is only for your information and not medical advice. 

 

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The Simple Dish

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I don’t always use recipes to create my healthy meals. Sometimes it’s so much easier to put together the foods I enjoy into a dish. Sometimes I have eaten out and really liked that meal. One of my all time favorites is the Tequila Lime Chicken from Applebees. We would sub out the rice for broccoli and ask for no chips on top. This meal also became a staple to make at home. There is no recipe. In general we would grill up a chicken breast then  melt cheddar cheese on top. We would create a pico de gallo with tomatoes, onions and cilantro and a squeeze of lime and a mixture of salsa & sour cream for the sauce.  On top of the grilled chicken melt the cheese, top with the salsa mix and scoop on the pico. The side was of course steamed broccoli. It’s so simple and easy and usually pretty inexpensive.

Now since I had quite a lot of the cilantro left over from this meal, I was trying to come up with another dish that would use that herb. I decided on shrimp tacos. At Meijer salad shrimp were $4.99. I cooked those up in some butter and garlic. I splurged with 2 corn shells. I cooked the shells on a skillet, melted some cheese on top of that, scooped out the shrimp then I added pico de gallo, sour cream, salsa, and a squeeze of lime. These were so good we made them again tonight for dinner. This time I used romaine lettuce shells instead of the corn shells, saving about 12 carbohydrates. It was still delicious.

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It doesn’t always take an extravagant meal to eat healthy. Pick out the foods you like, sub out the no-no foods with healthier choices and enjoy!

 

Too Soon

Last year when my husband and I decided to delve into eating as healthy as possible, we assumed we would have at least 3 months until we would need to have a get together with family. As it turns out we have family that love to proclaim the healthy life style but when they all get together their love for each other is often expressed with food. Unfortunately my family often is the ones left taking any unwanted food home. We’ve put our foot down before and insisted that we also don’t want all the left over pies, but many times the fight isn’t worth it. One would think we could just toss those calorie ridden, carby crappers right into the trash, but as it turns out my husband and I both hate throwing good things away. We often joke that we were somehow born in the depression era as we find value in things others would toss out. It is both a blessing and a curse.

When once again we began this healthy journey after taking the summer off, which rolled into fall and a little winter, we thought, again, we would have until Easter before a family gathering would be required. We were wrong. Yesterday we were invited once again to Holland to have a gathering with my husband’s immediate family (just like Christmas) but this time grandma’s twin sister’s family came too. It was a cousins gathering. As much as we love seeing the cousins I knew this would be a dieting nightmare.

The first thing I did to prepare for this day was make sure the dishes I brought were something I could eat. I chose spinach artichoke dip with cut up celery and sausage stuffed mushrooms. My husband and I love these dishes and they are on our low carb yes list.

The second thing I did, or at least wanted to do was make sure I didn’t go there hungry. I failed at this. That morning I also had to work and make a trip to see my aunts. Time was tight. I forgot to eat breakfast and lunch. Not good. So right before we left to travel to Holland I threw a handful of known okay foods into a dish to munch on the way. IMG_1190This was exactly what I needed!

And I was right. When we got there my sister in law had created these brilliant masterpiece cake balls. Like these:

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only her’s were twice this size and pink and chocolate and covered in sprinkles. I love eating colorful food. I love cake balls. Sprinkles are for winners, right? I think I found myself staring at these things at least 20 times throughout the day. I even had to help serve them to the kids, meaning I had to touch them! However, I was good. Not one sweet thing was consumed by me the entire time. I stuck with my foods, some vegetables and a few things that didn’t have high carb counts. The only thing outside of my desired food was homemade cabbage rolls and my husband and I split one.

It was really nice being able to avoid tempting foods, literally right in my face. It was even better waking up this morning and finding that I had lost 3.2 pounds since yesterday morning! This takes my seven day total weight loss to 4.2. This makes me very happy. I hope my second week is just as fulfilling.

 

Great Start

On Monday I officially went back to consciously watching what I eat. I had been disappointed that by throwing all caution away I gained 8 pounds from Christmas day to January 4. I didn’t even think that was possible! I kept thinking when I wake up one of these days I’ll have lost 6 pounds in water weight and be much closer to my goal. That didn’t happen though. But after watching what I ate and even adding in some exercise, including a 40 minute kettle bell work out I have already lost 2.8 pounds in 4 days. I feel really good! Thankfully I had no cravings and it was really easy to get back to healthy eating again. I think my body was just really done with junk food.

Firstly, I want to go back to that first dinner I made on Monday, which was all really delicious. You can find the recipe here. One of the parts to it was cauliflower rice. I have been wanting to work with cauliflower for a while but haven’t yet. For this meal I had to put pieces of it into a food processor to finely chop it up. This wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. You can also shred it on a grater. Once it was all pieced out, I then saute it in a pan with some olive oil and salt until it softened and turned brown. Then I added fresh lime juice and cilantro. This was so good I couldn’t stop eating it. I was trying to cook the chicken while eating large spoonfuls of the cauliflower. The kids didn’t like it but I LOVED IT!

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My first suggestion about eating healthy is don’t be afraid to try something new. This entire recipe took longer than I thought it would but we ended up having a chicken that my son would finally eat and a new side dish that is phenomenal.

Next I want to mention a few of my tricks.

  1. Drink lots of water. I also really like to add a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon to my water. This makes me feel like I’m drinking something fancy and it gives me a boost of vitamins.
  2. Figure out your tricky foods and see if there’s something to sub in instead. Like my family loves chips and salsa but chips are not allowed right now. I use celery sticks to eat these snack foods. They are also really great for guacamole.
  3. I think one thing I do that most don’t is I don’t swap in fake foods. Many times I hear folks eat disguised treat foods and say things like, “it’s low fat”, “it’s low carbs”, when in fact it’s just really loaded up with fake stuff. Read the labels, if most of the ingredients aren’t whole foods, I tend to not eat it.
  4. I eat eggs. I eat a lot of eggs. It’s sort of my staple food. There’s a report from the Department of Health and Human Services that the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans will not include a caution about cholesterol.  This is pretty good news since I eat avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, eggs and butter.
  5. This year, I will be adding in exercise. I didn’t do that last time and still lost 18 pounds. I’m excited to see how this will effect my over all health. As a photographer I really need to be able to stand for long periods, as well as squat often, run, lay down, maybe even climb a tree.
  6. Don’t think you need to eat regular foods. Sometimes I like a spinach salad for breakfast. Yesterday I was thinking, well, what food do I think of as a fun food and guacamole came to mind. So I decided to incorporate that into my breakfast.

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Finally one of my hardest things is just keeping the food I don’t want to eat, out of the house completely. I know how hard that is though! I have twin 10 year olds and they love snacks. But I think it’s good practice to have them try some of these new foods and eat healthier. They may not like them all but it’s worth a try!

Feeling Good In My Skin

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Ten years ago I gave birth to twins. Despite putting on the minimum suggested weight I still gained 50 pounds with this pregnancy. I was also almost 36 years old.  For the next 10 years I would attempt to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. As I aged into my 40s I became convinced I would never go back to my “normal” size and that I should become comfortable with this “new” size. I found hope in the idea that I maintained this weight very well. That’s good, right? Then two winters ago I noticed my weight creeping up. I thought, like I’ve done in the past, I’d reduce my carbs and sugars and any weight gain would go away. This time it didn’t. As I reached weight amounts I had never been to before, even during my twin pregnancy, I began to panic. I became frustrated. I tried all my old tactics and nothing worked! I am mostly a healthy eater. I don’t drink pop, I gave up beer 5 years ago when I found wheat created unwanted health problems, I eat vegetables (a lot), I rarely over eat because I hate that feeling. I like carbohydrates though and I like a sugary treat every once in a while. I’ve tried to maintain a very low carbohydrate diet when I can. It seems that my issue is that my family really likes their carbohydrates too. So when I found I was doing well for a couple of days, they would come in and request cookies, or ice-cream or something of that nature and I wasn’t strong enough to let them indulge and not partake. I also hated the idea of me not participating in a family fun food activity. I never wanted to be the mom who wouldn’t eat ice cream with their kids. I felt trapped.

Last year my husband decided that he had had enough with the extra weight himself. He’d also gained extra weight during the twins’ pregnancy and wanted to really work to lose about 30 pounds. As we rounded the new year he and I together began to make better choices. We cut out all the starchy carbohydrates, all sugar, all white foods (potatoes, rice, pasta, flour, sugar).  We added back in breakfast meats, which we had stopped eating the year before to try to lose a few pounds. And he immediately started losing weight. It took me 3 months and then I also started losing weight. Once I got all the tricky foods out of my system and out of the house, I also lost weight. After being on the strictest diet I had ever been on for 6 months I had lost 18 pounds and was well on my way. My husband had also lost 20 pounds. Then summer hit. I think we both felt pretty good about our weight loss and decided to take a break.

We didn’t add in terrible foods. It was more like fruit, a bun here and there, some lemonade. By Halloween I had gained back 4 pounds and my husband had gained back 6. Not too bad. So we decided we’d just enjoy ourselves for the rest of the year and then January 4, 2016 we’d start all over again. We indulged in cookies, pies, cocoas, candy, buns, desserts and pretty much anything we wanted. It wasn’t in huge quantities but it was consistent. And it did make a huge difference. By January 4, 2016 I had gained back 12 of my 18 pounds and my fat percent was right back where it was a year ago. I had almost undone all the work I had done the year before. I was (am) very disappointed. I’m not sure it was worth it. I know I went through some hardships like my grandma passing away and eating comfort foods just felt right. So maybe it was worth it. Honestly, I’m not sure it matters. It is what it is, as people say.

The good news is I’m not discouraged. In fact, I am really excited to start all over again. This time I will know exactly what will happen if I push it too far. I will know how to tweak it to make it work for me better. I am also attempting to journal the progress a bit better. So that’s what this is. If you’re interested in my recipes, tips, secrets,  progress or even just being voyeuristic I would love to invite you to follow along.

Today, January 4, 2016 I have  begun keeping the tricky foods out, my carbs down and my head held high. My goal is to lose 20 pounds by May.

In my research for preparing to start I found this wonderful recipe:

Key West Grilled Chicken

which I will be making right now. For lunch I ate at Panera and had the Greek Salad plus chicken. I will be using the apps MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun to keep track of exercise and food consumption. I also have a Fitbit. I found today that when I went to add my Panera salad that the app actually used the GPS on my phone to bring in information about where I was. Once I got past the freakiness about my technology knowing so much, I thought it was pretty cool that these devices all worked together to make this data inputting a lot easier.

I know that weight loss is a hot topic issue lately, but for me, I need to feel healthy. I want to love my skin. I want to be the mom who can run and play and not get winded. I will still be curvy, I will still be soft, but I will be happy for reaching my goal to be a healthier version of myself.

So here we go!

Thanks for your support,

Ariniko

Trying to be Scruffy

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I’m not sure why it caused me so much anxiety. It’s not like I had never invited folks out to my house before. To me though it seems that invitations usually had a “real” reason; birthdays, holidays, family visiting, open houses.  One does not simply invite people out just because! Yet there I was coyly asking a friend and his wife out for dinner at my house.

Two things took place this year that pushed me to this “out of my comfort zone moment”. The first was a somewhat of a News Year Resolution thing. I had come to realize that I know a lot of people. I see them at networking events and out and about. And they are more than happy to talk to me at the moment but once out of that situation we don’t communicate much. I don’t invite them to my personal events and they don’t invite me to theirs. Our relationship doesn’t go much beyond the surface. So I decided I would make an effort, a strong, dedicated effort to get to really know the people that I enjoy spending time with. And my hope is they will want to get to know me better as well.

The second thing that happened was a friend of mine (another networking friend that I’d love to know better) posted this blog on her Facebook page.  The topic was about having “Scruffy Hospitality”, not “I need to have everything absolutely perfect before I let people see who I really am” Hospitality. The author wrote about how he and his wife rarely invited people to their house, despite really wanting to, because of that fear of needing to have a specific perfection reached before an invite can be offered.

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These two ideas seemed to latch together in such a way that I couldn’t ignore it. So there I stood about a month ago, in the doorway to the office of a friend that I had gotten to know pretty well in the last two years or so. We rarely see each other outside of a networking event or at work yet we spent a lot of time having conversations, probably to the detriment of his business, and really getting along. I met his wife at one of the networking events and we seemed to click pretty well too. So they were going to be my guinea pigs, so to speak.

As nonchalantly as I could I asked him what his plans were for Saturday. He responded by saying he’s heading out of town and then asking what I was planning to do on Saturday. This could have been my out, but instead I jumped right in head first. I then told him that I wanted him and his wife to come out for dinner on Saturday.  I didn’t pause and went right into my reasoning and he didn’t object to the idea. So we found a day two weeks later and put it on the calendar.

As that day got closer I began to negotiate with myself about which chores I should do. I found I was making excuses to clean places that I would normally not clean: “Oh, I spilled milk now I must wash all the cupboards; “I need to mop because we have some grease ants coming into the house”. It went on like this for a week. In the back of my head, though, I knew I had to let things go. I had thought I should make my OCD list of things I really wanted to clean but “chose” not to so I could have a true “scruffy” party and then present it to them. That made me realize how ridiculous this whole thing was making me. Not only was I failing at hosting this “scruffy” idea but I was really stressed about this dinner plan. WHY? Why was this so hard? So, I started to think it through. And I realized that trust played a huge part with the idea of being who you are on a day in and day out basis in front of someone else. It’s one thing to show up at an event or party or someone’s house away from all your closets, laundry, kids, kids’ toys, stacks of papers; and be yourself but completely different to be who you are in your environment. It was a huge leap for me to trust people coming into my home and seeing that my kids had drawn on the walls and I hadn’t painted over it yet. Or that I don’t have any photos on the walls, or that I haven’t recycled in two weeks, or that our carpet is remnants because we haven’t had the time or money to replace the carpets our dog ruined while his kidneys shut down for a year straight. It all is having a trust that those people won’t come in and judge, or ridicule or even use what they see to gossip about me later. It was trust and fear. I needed to let go and let myself trust people and let go of the fear about these incredible insecurities I have. I didn’t realize that would be so hard for me. It’s easy when I hide all my insecurities behind a closed door or a dirty dish in the oven, but to purposely leave the stains out so the guests can see the real me was terrifying! The whole situation put me in a very vulnerable state. And yet I knew deep down inside that few people really would come to my home and judge me, especially people I like and who I think like me as well. As my friend at one point said to me; “I think you’re over thinking this”.

So I did it. I had “Scruffy Hospitality” and it was great. We sat at the table and talked over a plate of vegetables and ranch dressing. We created a lovely meal together and even the burnt burger was consumed. We shared stories, had a nice swim, and watched the kids play with the dog. It was a good night and I really hope it was mutual!

So it may happen that sometime in the future you get asked to come out to my house. And when you get here and you notice the floor’s not swept, there are some unwashed dishes and maybe even the lawn’s not mowed, I hope you realize that you are the beneficiary of some O’Meara Scruffy Hospitality. It’s not that I was too lazy to clean up for you, but instead I chose to leave my home in a state that’s more reflective of the true me and that’s what I want to share with you.

Be My Valentine

aaIMG_3905I am probably the worse person to have to celebrate Valentine’s Day with. Despite being incredibly romantic I come at it in a nontraditional way. Early in my relationship with Pat I mentioned that I don’t like to receive flowers because I feel bad that they sit in a vase and die. That always made me sad. So for years (decades) I never received flowers from Pat. Even though this was per my request Pat always came out looking like a loser. There have been a couple of years where Pat bought me roses for Valentine’s Day and I must admit I did like it. It’s flattering to have the delivery person come to the house, carrying the made up bouquet and the cute little card. But after a week they wilt and the water turns green and it makes me sad. I try to keep the buds by letting them dry but there’s not a whole lot you can do with them. This year I again told Pat I didn’t want any roses. There are a couple of reasons. First of all we haven’t fully plowed our very long driveway and any delivery people park out on the road and walk in. It’s quite dangerous. Secondly there’s the whole dead flower thing again. Finally I can think of a lot better ways to spend $58, like putting it towards a new camera that I’ve been eyeing on line. So yesterday while out getting groceries together Pat asked if he could buy me flowers. I said no. But he insisted. So I said, how about buying me a rose plant. And he did. It’s just a mini, but it’s pretty cute. I am hoping I don’t kill it before we can plant it outside.

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The next “must have” Valentine gift is chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate. However, many years ago, when we were trying to actively lose weight we found that there were certain times of the year that always got us. We came to name them the “Candy Holidays”: Halloween, Christmas and Easter. These would get us so bad that we vowed to stop the crazy and back away from the candy. And we did great, until we got hit by the secondary “candy holidays”: New Years, Valentine’s Day, our Anniversary (March 7), Fat Tuesday (those crazy Paczki) and St. Patrick’s Day (we’re an Irish Family). This set got us even worse than the original Candy Holidays. I think because they come in the dead of winter and you would do anything to feel better, it’s like the perfect food craving storm. Each year it was good for at least a 10 pound weight gain. I realized that I really don’t like when I get told what I should eat based on a holiday! It’s some odd domineering  force telling me I have to eat chocolates right now because it’s Valentine’s Day! What makes it even more frustrating is that for over a week I’ve been trying to eat healthy with food like this:

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Now I’m told if I don’t eat this,

aaIMG_0342I’m not loved. How manipulative! It’s a psychological mess, really.

I don’t think I really have the answer. If I fall under the holiday spell I have dead flowers and a 5 pound weight gain. If I don’t I have no flowers, no chocolate and feel like I am giving up on my marriage. What a scam!! This year we bought the rose plant and shared a box of chocolates (although I am pretty sure I ate more than Pat). We also plan on having a nice lunch out while the twins are at school.

I don’t know what I would consider to be the perfect Valentine’s. I guess knowing that I have so many loves in my life that wish me a happy Valentine’s Day first thing in the morning and are willing to keep trying to get it right with me is all anyone could ask for.

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