Thursday, March 31, 2011

Black Bean Brownies

Have I already turned some of you off with the title of this post? I get it- it sounds weird, and the comment I've received the most from people in my life is "why would you want to ruin perfectly good brownies." Of course I had a great response planned for this:)

I'm lactose intolerant, so I've cut out a lot of desserts from my life. One of the few desserts that I regularly make is brownies, because apparently a few of the boxes of mix I've found are lactose intolerant. So when I started seeing people talking about black bean brownies on twitter, I was intrigued. Since going to Ecuador, I've been eating beans on a regular basis as well.

So the answer to the big question "Why ruin perfectly good brownies?": Well, because this is a dessert I can eat, I want to try to mix it up a little to add variety. I like black beans, and they are healthy. Black beans are a great source of folate, manganese, thiamin, and iron, and is protein packed! Obviously there are a great more elements included in this great food! Finally, they actually don't change the taste of the brownies much at all! Basically, you're just adding all sorts of great vitamins and minerals to your brownies. Sounds like a great deal to me!

Here's What I Did:

  • Throw ingredients listed on brownie mix in a bowl (mix, egg, oil, etc...)
  • I added a splash of vanilla to it to add a little zing!
  • One can of black beans, drained (whole bean)
I cooked according to directions on the box and viola, this is what you get (sorry for the photo quality-this was taken on my phone):

They were actually pretty good. 
*A disclaimer: If When I make these again, I'm going to try mashing up the black beans before putting them in the mix. Although I couldn't taste any difference, the beans got a little hard, which was a little disconcerting while eating them! I think I'd like them more if I wasn't eating a hard chunk! 

So what do you think? Can you stomach this idea, or do you just think I'm crazy? :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oven Roasted Broccoli

As I've said many times on this blog, I'm in no way a great cook, and I don't find cooking enjoyable! However, in an effort to try to increase my health & wellness in ALL areas of my life, I have tried to add healthier recipes (with a few fun ones thrown in!) to my weekly schedules.
Here are a few of the other things I've tried lately:

See, I'm really trying to stretch myself here! So, in reading some food blogs and magazines over the last few weeks, I've seen a few variations of recipes for Oven Roasted broccoli. I like broccoli quite a bit, but haven't bought a head of it in, I don't know, a year or two? So i ventured to the grocery store to get what I needed to try this new recipe. I LOVED it! besides eating them straight off the pan as it cooled, I ate it as a side with mashed potatoes, and it was delicious (and SO easy to make). I took the recipes I found on a number of sites and sort of thew my own thing together.

1. Cut the broccoli into small, bite sized pieces (with very little stalk on it!)
2. Mix in a bowl with 3ish tablespoons of olive oil, sea salt (i didn't measure how much I used), and garlic powder (again, I sort of just dumped it in there until it seemed about right)

3. Preheat oven to 400 and cook for around 20 minutes. 


Monday, March 28, 2011

Identifying the Positive {Thankfulness Project}

Do you remember this post on the Thankfulness Project that I wrote this past November? Probably was my first post (i think) so I'm sure many of you weren't reading yet. Go back and read the post to see why the idea of Thankfulness is so important for mental health!

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.
-- Epictetus

I think at times we can get so focused in on the negative that our grumbling increases and our mood decreases. Furthermore, we forget to acknowledge the good, positive things in our life. When I have my clients do this (in conjunction with other things of course!) the comment I hear the most is something like: "Oh my gosh-I don't know if I always had these good things going on in my life, but I feel like there are so many more positives then negatives right now." YES! We are blessed. That's not to say that there aren't negative things, unfortunate situations, and painful moments in life. But sometimes we focus on the negative and disqualify the positive.

That being said, on Mondays it can be difficult to stay positive. Today, I am dedicating my post to the blessings of today:

  • YOGA NIGHT: I love waking up on Monday mornings knowing that I get to go to yoga:) It's so great knowing that I can start my week out on a healthy foot, and this sets the tone for the rest of the week!
  • My Co-Workers: They are so fabulous and supportive. In fact, a few of my clients recently have commented on how well we all seem to get along. I'm so thankful for this!
  • Getting Caught Up On Sleep: Yes, weird to mention on a day of getting up early, but I got caught up on sleep, or maybe just slept as much as I actually needed, the last few days. I felt great!
  • The Sunshine: Although it's still cold outside (grrrrr), I chose to focus on how sunny it was. This winter, there were many days and weeks that went by where I didn't see the sun, and my body started to crave it. I've gotten lots of sunshine recently!
  • Some Wonderful Days With My Family:)

So here's what you can do:
Each week, keep a continuous list of positive things/ blessings/ things you are thankful for. This will train your brain to identify the positive alongside the negative. Additionally, you'll have something to reference when you feel like "there's nothing good in my life right now".

What do you think of the idea of Thankfulness? What are you Thankful for this week?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Do You Hold the Reigns, or Does Someone Else Have The Power?

I love quotes! I'm sure after this week you haven't figured this out yet... This quote has stuck out in my mind for two reasons: The first-It's SO TRUE! The second-it reminds me of boundaries, and you all know how much I love talking about boundaries! (For my series on boundaries, click on this link and it will redirect you to all the other links on boundaries. For an alternative way to access my posts on boundaries, you can click the "boundary" label at the bottom of this post!)

Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you 
permit yourself to be disturbed by him.
-- Epictetus (55-135 AD) Greek Philosopher

Remember that with boundaries, we control our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. If we let another person control our feelings (such as anger), then we hand over the control and reigns of our life. If another person controls our feelings, then they control if we are ever happy, or when we get over our anger. And THAT doesn't sound great, does it? I'm certainly not ready to sign over the power in my life to someone else like that.

What are your thoughts on this quote? Do you permit others to have power over your life?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sometimes Courage Is the Quiet Voice...

Sometimes we need to repeat a quote over and over in a given situation in order to change our thinking. This is one quote that I have loved for many years, and have repeated to myself in some difficult situations.

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow".
-- Anonymous

More often then not, when I think of courageous acts, I think of people running into burning buildings to save a trapped child, the husband who jumps in front of his wife when a gunman shoots, or the people who take down hijackers in a plane. That is certainly courage. But I see courage in the lives of clients who fight week after week to challenge thoughts. I see courage in the ability to run into the darkness, embrace suffering, and let it transform you. There's courage in acts of daily living, in picking ourselves up when we fall.

Where do you see acts of courage in others around you? Does something in your life require courage?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Proper Function of Man...

This is the 3rd post in my series of quotes. Make sure to check out the other ones this week:)
This is a quote that I found back in January of 2007, and remained written on a post it note on my computer until recently.

The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not
waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

-- Jack London

What do you think the difference is between living and existing? 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The True Poetry of Life

This is the 2nd post in my week of quotes! Make sure to check out all the posts this week, and share your own favorite quote(s) as well!

Nothing will sustain you more potently than the power to recognize in your humdrum routine, as perhaps it may be thought, the true poetry of life.
-Sir William Osler

The humdrum routine. I think many times we get caught up in the countdowns to big and exciting events in life (a vacation, reunion with friends, or even the weekend). Now, there's nothing wrong with getting excited about an upcoming event, but if we focus solely on these events, and not the normal, daily routine, I think we miss the beauty. What stuck out to me in this quote is the "poetry of life". I think it's beautiful.

Where do you find the true poetry of life? Is there an upcoming event you are looking forward to?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Do You Let Suffering Transform You?

I love quotes! Quotes tend to stick out in our minds when we encounter situations, are inspirational, and express sometimes what we want to say but can't find the words to verbalize. I tend to love quotes because they teach and provide wisdom. If you click on the "quotes" label at the bottom of this post, you can find some of my other favorite quotes.

"I discovered in that moment that I had the power to choose the direction my life would head, even if the only choice open to me, at least initially, was either to run from the loss or to face it as best I could. Since I knew that darkness was inevitable and unavoidable, I decided from that point on to walk into the darkness rather than try to outrun it, to let my experience of loss take me on a journey wherever it would lead, and to allow myself to be transformed by my suffering rather than to think I could somehow avoid it...The decision to face the darkness, even if it led to overwhelming pain, showed me that the experience of loss itself does not have to be the defining moment of our lives. Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It's not what happens to us that matters as much as what happens in us. Darkness, it is true, had invaded my soul. But then again, so did light..." (A Grace Disguised, pg 43-45).

These words were penned by Jerry Sittser, who, in one moment of time, lost his mom, wife, and daughter in a car accident. This has been a favorite quote of mine for a number of years. I love the idea of being transformed by our sufferings. Things happen to us in life, and sometimes these things are horrible and painful. Allowing these things to change us, grow us, and transform us doesn't negate the pain, but it allows there to be something good that comes out of it as well. Facing the darkness is scary! We tend to want to try to outrun the darkness, but ultimately the darkness catches up to us, and we have to experience the pain. So instead of trying to run away from pain, can you turn around, stare it straight in the fact, and walk through it?

What do you like about quotes? Do you tend to try to outrun pain, or do you face it & deal with it?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thoughts Of A Perfectionist

Alright, jumping around just a little bit (it keeps you on your toes!), I'm going to go back to perfectionism for today. Sometimes when we get too much information right up front, we don't have time to really think about what we're reading and figure out how it plays out in life. If you haven't read the rest of my posts on perfectionism, here are the links:

Before we go about changing our perfectionistic thinking, we obviously need to learn how to identify when we are having these thoughts. Without awareness, we can't begin to change. I challenge you to think of your "rules" and expectations for yourself and others in multiple areas of your life. Don't choose just one area, like work or family, but try to choose many (chores, work, family, cooking, yard/house maintenance, appearance, relationships, etc...). Perfectionism tends to touch more then one area of life because it can often distort our identity (check out the link above!).

So here are a few examples:

  • I should contact my roommate from college every week (and when I don't, then I'm a bad friend)
  • I must keep my kitchen spotless and not ever stack dishes in the sink
  • I need to get a ___% (100, 99, etc...) on every test to be a good student. Any less then this and I'm a slacker, bad student, or failure.
  • If I can't do the job perfectly, I'm not even going to try, because I don't want to look incompetent
  • This person needs to be nice to me by doing ____, ____, and ____ every day, or I can't believe that they really care.
  • I must check every paper I write 10 times to make sure that I don't have a single spelling or grammatical error. If I miss something, the professor will think I'm stupid and incompetent, and will judge me every time they see me.
  • I need to be a starter in every single sports game for my parent to really love me or care about me.
  • (upon receiving a B on a test) I should have studied more and not spent time with my roommate a few nights ago. If I would have isolated myself so I could study more, I might have gotten a higher score.
  • (upon not being chosen for something you applied for)- I shouldn't have even tried. I never get what I apply for and only feel embarrassed- I'm a failure.
Ok, so like I said, these are just a few examples to get you started. Each person is going to have there own beliefs, depending on personality, environment, and others.

Have you heard others around you make statements similar to these? More importantly, do you ever say these types of statements? What're the results? 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Version Of Stuffed French Toast

One of the foods I crave the most is IHOP's stuffed french toast. It's DELICIOUS. With the fruit, whipped cream, and powdered sugar topping the french toast filled with cream cheese, this meal is simply amazing. At one point I remember hearing that this meal was almost 1500 calories, and unfortunately I can believe it. So I decided to create a healthier (and cheaper!) version of this delicious meal.
I  just bought the jar of coconut oil for the first time, and was anxious to finally use it. I don't normally put oil in the frying pan while making french toast, but like I said, I was anxious. I don't know if it made any significant difference or not.
So here's what I did:
Mix 2 eggs with a splash of vanilla flavoring and a splash of cinnamon

Warm up the coconut oil in the pan, and after dipping the bread into the bowl, place in frying pan

Once cooked on both sides, I covered on side of the toast with honey nut cream cheeese

Finished product-put 2 pieces together with cream cheese in between, with fruit & syrup on top. 

It was DELICIOUS! I savor every bite. This is certainly not the most healthy breakfast food to eat, but it's a better alternative to IHOPs version. I wonder how many calories this has. I should've counted... 

What's one of your favorite unhealthy/high calorie meal? Do you have any alternatives to favorite restaurant dishes?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My First Taste Of Chobani

Well, I think I''m a little late to jump on this train, but none the less, here I am. After finding out I was lactose intolerant in 2007, I cut all dairy, including yogurt, out of my diet. As a person who consumed boatloads of dairy every day (and had yogurt almost every morning for breakfast), this was kind of heartbreaking to get used to. Then in late 2008 or 2009, a friend suggested that I might be able to handle Activia due to the live bacteria cultures. Much to my relief, I could handle this just fine, and added it once again to my daily diet. So maybe towards in end of 2009, or beginning of 2010 (fuzzy on dates but that's sort of irrelevant), I heard about "greek yogurt". Because I love basically all things greek, the idea of yogurt with the word GREEK in the name excited me quite a bit. But because of the lactose intolerance, it was just easier to stick with what I knew worked for me.

Fast forward to a few months ago, when I saw food bloggers start raving about Chobani Greek Yogurt (like this post here detailing various flavors). I dutifully read the posts, and wanted to try the yogurt, but was once again nervous. I wasn't about to sit through a night of pain/torture just to try it out. not worth it. Then, a few days ago, I read this post over at Designer Wife, and my fears of Chobani and my lactose intolerance were stilled.

This weekend while grocery shopping, I automatically went to grab my usual Activia, and noticed the Chobani next to it. I scooped up 4 flavors (pictured above), and tried my first flavor (pomegranate) on Sunday afternoon. It was DELICIOUS (included real seeds!), and did not bother my lactose intolerance in the slightest. I would suggest you go out and try some right now! I will be mixing this up with Activia to help keep grocery costs down...

And, here's a little about Chobani and some recipes you can make using Chobani.

Have you tried Chobani before? If so, what's your favorite flavor?

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Development of Perfectionism {Part 2}

I took a break in my series on perfectionism to talk about why I wasn't complaining. If you haven't checked it out yet, you can read it here . While you're at it, if you haven't read Part 1 of the Development of Perfectionism yet, check it out here before going on...then come back here:) So, in the last post on perfectionism, I introduced the idea of the development of perfectionism, I discussed a little about social learning, and the expectations and standards of others.

In Elliot &Hewitt's 2002 book entitled Perfectionism: Theory, Research, and Treatment, they discussed the family environment of perfectionism. Here are some of the things they discovered in the connection between family characteristics and perfectionism:

  • Maternal rejection or shaming behavior
  • Low levels of maternal tolerance and affection
  • Higher levels of parental overprotection & control
  • Shame by those around the person
  • Poor health in the family of origin
  • Low parental care
  • Parental control & perfectionism was also indicated in the development of eating disorders
These characteristics tend to lead to self-oriented perfectionism, instead of some of the characteristics from yesterday, which lead to more others-oriented perfectionism. There are also personal characteristics of the child that tend to lead to implementing more perfectionistic standards in life. These include:
  • Temperament (aspects of a person's personality that are innate, like introversion or extroversion) 
    • "We believe that perfectionists have a temperament that is characterized by high levels of emotionality, including high fearfulness, along with high levels of persistence" (Elliot & Hewitt, 2002, p. 111). 
  • Attachment Style (the way you interact with others in more intimate relationships)
  • Ability of the child to be influenced by those around him or her
  • Personal definitions of success & failure
  • Distorted thinking
  • People Pleaser
It's important to remember that perfectionism doesn't generally develop solely because of one factor. There's usually some mixture of environmental, parental, & personal factors that lead to holding perfectionistic standards in life. Knowing the "why" of perfectionism doesn't necessarily help to change it (you can spend hours in therapy trying to figure out why you are thinking the way you do, or you can spend a little time discussing it, and then dive into challenging and changing those standards), but sometimes it helps us understand that we aren't "just nuts" like we sometimes can believe. 

Ok, this was a very brief, tip of the iceberg, explanation on how perfectionism can develop. Understanding this can help give us some answers to why we are the way that we are, and it can help to inform our behaviors when we raise children of our own. Knowing all of this, we need to start changing how we think and what our standards are, so that we don't remain stuck in the trap of perfectionism.

*you can find the rest of the posts in my series on perfectionism here.

If you struggle with perfectionistic tendencies, can you see anything that might contribute to the development of it in your life? Are you ready to start challenging your thinking?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why I'm Not Complaining Right Now...

Today I've seen the feed on twitter full of complaints about daylight savings time. I get that it's a little annoying to have to change clocks, and it can mess up one's internal body clocks for a few days as well. For those with children, it can certainly make it difficult to convince children to go to bed when it's still light out (I remember trying to "logically" argue with my parents that if it was still light I wasn't supposed to be sleeping). Did I miss that extra hour of sleep today? Absolutely! But the picture above is why I'm not complaining. That's what it looks like at 8 pm-It's STILL light out:) This means that I'll leave work and it will still be light out, and that I'll be able to get in some long workouts after work. I'm so thankful that we've made it to this point in the calendar year! Remember this post on finding hope in winter? Well, the thing that the cold, barrenness of winter reminds me of is that spring (hope) will come. So just as in life we have to have hope, the time change is a sort of reminder that it's important to hope, because change does come! So I'm not complaining, even though I've been a little sleepy all day, and I'm slightly concerned about my ability to fall asleep at anything other then a very late hour tonight.

Do you do ok with the time change, or do you dislike it? Do you find any hope in winter or spring? 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Development of Perfectionism {Part 1}

When discussing Perfectionism with clients, I usually ask them something like "What do you think started this pattern of beliefs and expectations in your life." Of course I'm not expecting them to always know the reason why, but it's interesting to hear the brainstorming that occurs. Some people talk for a few minutes with a lot of "i don't knows" thrown in, while others immediately can list a series of expectations put on them by parents that they believe have led to the perfectionism in their life.

Perfectionism can't always be pinpointed to one person or one moment in time. It can be complex, with a number of factors, experiences, and people involved. One of the prominent ways people seem to develop perfectionism is through other-imposed standards and expectations.

A child learns that by following the expectations and standards of those around her, she is able to avoid an argument, beating, or "make the parent happy" when she is perfect (or perfectly meets the expectations). "Implicit in the social expectations model is the notion that children who are not capable of meeting parental expectations will experience a chronic sense of helplessness and hopelessness as a result of their inability to meet the standards imposed on them...a sense of contingent self-worth is a central aspect of socially prescribed perfectionism" (Elliot & Hewitt, 2002, p. 90). Parents, or others close to us in life, can create a way of life where our self-worth is contingent on our achievement or looks. In this sort of system, we quickly learn that when we fail to achieve, we don't have worth and aren't "ok". Not only are we "not ok", but depression, anxiety, and stress, along with feeling unloved, can result.

Social learning basically suggests that we learn in a social context, through the words and actions (the modeling) of those around us. Even if parents don't put perfectionistic expectations on their children, they can model the "importance" of perfectionistic standards to their children in how they speak about themselves. Children tend to think and speak like their parents do, and when it comes to things that are unhealthy, this modeling is obviously a little dangerous.

Also, interestingly enough, "perfectionism was associated with guilt, psychological distress, and a maladjusted family of origin...correlations that reflected a lack of intimacy and autonomy" (Elliot & Hewitt, 2002, p. 97). I found that interesting. The more controlling and stifling the family is, the more likely perfectionism will develop.

*you can find the rest of my series on perfectionism here.

I will leave it at that for the day.
So what do you think? Did your own family of origin lead to perfectionistic standards in your own life? 

Elliot, G.L., & Hewitt, P.L. (2002). Perfectionism: Theory, Research, and Treatment. american psychological association. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Best Laid Plans... {And randomness from the week}

Do you ever have those nights (or weeks) that are full of good intentions and plans, and yet when the time comes, everything changes and nothing planned actually happens? Well, that's how most of this week has been for me. Last night, for example, I actually got out of work at around 5:15, and had nothing on the schedule for the evening. And, you may call me a nerd, I was excited to use my free evening to read up on some of the latest research on perfectionism. However, with a long series of phone calls that came in one after the next, and a friend in need, it was soon 10 o'clock and I had done nothing. Well, at least nothing that I had planned. But sometimes things pop up that we don't plan, and we have to be flexible and adjust. 

Tonight I will be writing the next few posts of my perfectionism series. If you have any questions about it, I'll do my best to answer. In the meantime, why not read up on the posts in the series so far?
I'd be remiss to skip over the devastation that occurred in Japan today. Words don't really seem so appropriate for the magnitude of what occurred...I'm sending my thoughts and prayers to those there, and for family & friends of those living in Japan. 

Despite the fact that there's been a lot of stress and unrest in many parts of the world the last few weeks, my day was rather calm and peaceful. I'll leave you for the night with a few pictures from my day:

My day started with a free Earl Gray Tea latte on my way to work 

Then a friend stopped by work to give me some flowers. So pretty & spring-ish! 

Then, driving home, I saw this beautiful scene. LOVE it.

Despite the pain & devastation going on, did you have good moments in the day? 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I am only one, but I am still one.

First of all, I'd like to say sorry for the lack of posts in my series on perfectionism. This week has been long, and by the time I get home from work, I need to engage in some self care activities (remember my post on not being able to give what I don't have?). So, I've been busy taking care of myself. However, I promise to be back to posting on perfectionism soon. In the meantime, start challenging your own black and white thinking!

I thought I'd share this quote with you all today:

I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still
I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do.

-- Helen Keller 

I love this quote! Sometimes I see a situation that we as counselors deal with every day, and feel that no matter how hard I work with people struggling with it, the problem will still be there generation after generation. I guess if I allowed myself to really focus on this idea and dwell on it, I'd start feeling pretty down. But, I can do something, and that something can allow someone else to change. That something I can do can still change one person's life. I think that's why I love this quote. Most of us won't go on to do something really big in life (I'm not saying we won't do something important, but most of us aren't going to invent something or become "famous"), but that doesn't mean that we can't do something, and that something can't be important.
So, if you get discouraged in what you're doing, remember that it might not be everything (or be what the world might define as great) but you can do something, and that something is important.

Do you ever feel like you aren't making a difference in your life? What do you do to combat that thinking so you stay motivated to keep "doing"?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Comfort in the Crock Pot

So, I get to check another new experience off my list ('s not that exciting): I USED MY CROCK POT FOR THE FIRST TIME last weekend (see...I said it wasn't too exciting!)! But, nonetheless, I'm excited. As I've said many times throughout this blog, I'm not a cook. I don't really enjoy it, and would much rather throw a frozen meal in the microwave or heat up some soup. However, in my commitment to increase health and wellness in ALL areas of my life, I'm trying to cook and add new things to my diet. This recipe was one of my favorite's growing up, so recently I emailed my mom and asked for the recipe. I'm going to show the recipe step by step in pictures, and put the recipe at the bottom, so make sure to scroll to the bottom! Once again, I apologize for poor photo quality. The lighting in my kitchen is poor and I was using my phone. Also, you'll notice that I have different colored cutting boards. This is my organization & health/food safety coming into play (red=raw meet, white= cooked meet, blue=fruits/veggies). This also helps cross contamination...

So first I took the meat, while leaving it in chunks, & cut away the fat. 

Cut an onion

Brown the meat

Cut up Potatoes (both sweet potato and white potato)

Cut the red pepper

The can of tomatoes I used

Browned onions, and all other veggies simmering  on the stove

Meat & veggies in the Crock Pot

Finished product! YUM!

Ok, so here's the recipe & cooking instructions:

beef roast (2-3 pounds)- remove extra fat
1 large onion
2 sweet potatoes, peel and dice in large chunks
1-2 sm white potatoes cubed, peel only if necessary
1 red pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, italian style if possible
approx 8 brussel sprouts if you can buy them loose in the produce area. (i didn't include this)
carrots, maybe 1/3 bag 
other vegetables you might like to add...especially if you have frozen veg... add a handful of corn, peas, or green beans. celery or beans (such as black eyed peas or northern white beans) add an extra oomph as well!

**depending on whether you want this as a meat dish or more like a soup, you will need more liquid. Sometimes i buy a package of dry onion soup mix and add 1/2 of an envelope of the powder and maybe a 1/2 a cup to cup of water. Go slow and you can add more water as it cooks but you can't remove it if add too much!!

*brown meat in heavy pan. use a bit of oil and let it get brown by frying vs just steaming it. brown on all sides and if you are in a rush lengthen the amount of time you cook the meat and that will shorten overall cooking time.
*place meat in crock pot. 
*in heavy pan, brown onions then add other ingredients so that everything is heated through. 
*pour over meat in crock pot and then cook til meat is very tender, maybe 2-3 hours

**If you don't use seasoned tomatoes, you'll want to add something else. Also, you may add pepper or garlic, but remember that you are trying to make a balanced 1 pot meal so match quantity of potatoes to number of servings of meat you anticipate. Likewise with the veggies. Be creative with other veggies you like too. 
** If you don't have a crock pot, don't worry, you're still in luck!  You can cook on top of the stove for 1.5 hours or in the oven. Just poke with fork to see how tender things are. 

So, there you go. I ended up freezing some of it as well, so we'll see how it tastes later...

Do you have a favorite crock pot recipe?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Perfectionism & The Distortion of Identity

-Anna Quindlen

I've always been surprised at how tightly perfectionism and identity/self-esteem are tied together. When a Client says they struggle in one area, I automatically ask about the other area as well. Most of the time, I'm spot on (and they seem to be surprised at the quick connections I make) and they do, indeed, struggle with both. I get it because at one point I was there myself. In high school I had extremely rigid, perfectionistic standards for myself, yet I felt terrible about myself. It was as I began to challenge and loosen these standards and rules for my life that the distorted mirror I saw myself in began to become more and more clear. It was through this that I began to figure myself out, and feel good about the person I was (and am). 

Perfectionism isn't realistic, and it distorts the way we see the world (remember yesterday's post on black/white thinking about how we need shades of gray to see the entire picture). It distorts our needs & wants, our identity, our self-statements and beliefs, and our relationships. All of this combined leads to a distortion of how we live within the world, and how we feel about ourselves as we go about daily life. Perfectionism tends to say that I am a failure (unless I'm 100% perfect in everything then I'm a failure), and when we are constantly "failing" we will obviously feel really bad about ourselves. This type of thinking is detrimental to us, and quite honestly, not fair to ourselves either. 

I found a website that listed some reasons that perfectionism lowers self-esteem:
  1. Fear of failure is among of the reasons for perfectionism. Often times, perfectionists blame their failures to lack of personal worth.
  2. Another reason is being afraid to make mistakes. For perfectionists, mistakes and failure are the same. They miss opportunities to learn and grow by living their lives avoiding mistakes.
  3. Fear of rejection is a one of the most common reasons. Perfectionists are often afraid that if other people see their flaws, they will be rejected.
  4. Rigid Rules. Perfectionists live with rigid rules structured by a never-ending list of “should”.

If you do just one thing for yourself this week, give yourself a break and try to start identifying how perfection & your identity are tied together. Be fair to yourself and loosen the grip you have on perfectionism.

*you can find the rest of my series on perfectionism here.

What I'd like to know:
Did you do anything fun this weekend? Any steps to furthering your health and wellness? Have you seen perfectionism distort your self-esteem or identity?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Black & White Thoughts of a Perfectionist

Is this purely black and white, or are there shades of gray?

In yesterday's post, I introduced the concept of Perfectionism. One of the "foundational pillars" behind the ideas and beliefs of perfectionism is black and white (also called all or nothing) thinking. For example, either I'm ALWAYS perfect, or I'm NEVER perfect (and therefore ALWAYS a failure). 
Although we hear the phrase "black and white thinking" often, I think it can be helpful to have something visual to help understand why black and white thinking is inaccurate and unhelpful. So, look above at the picture. What do you notice about it? What do you see in the picture? Ok, after you've done that, take away everything from that picture that isn't 100% black or 100% white (so, basically remove everything that is a shade of gray). Now what's left?
There is very little left to this picture if you take away the shades of gray. There may be a few lines here and there, but we won't get an accurate idea of what the picture actually is. The beauty and story is distorted.  
When we use black/white thinking, we are engaging in a cognitive distortion, or an irrational belief. Sometimes we feel like our story will be more dramatic and colorful if we use these types of words too. But taking away shades of gray distorts the picture, and shows us a view of the world that isn't real. And although we sometimes feel that using a shade of gray word is boring (for example, instead of sweltering or freezing, we may just say warm or a little chilly), but in reality, we need the shades of gray to see the details and the reality in the world. That picture is beautiful too.

So the next time you are tempted to think in black and white terms, go back to this picture. Or better yet, hang a black and white picture on the mirror in your bathroom, or on your desk at work, and when you're tempted to think in black and white terms (or engage in one your standards of perfectionism), look at the picture and challenge yourself! 

* you can see the rest of my series on perfectionism here.

How does black and white thinking play a part in your life? Do you use any visuals to help you remember things or challenge your thinking? 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hello, I'm ____ and I'm A Perfectionist...

Perfection, fortunately, is not the only alternative to mediocrity. A more sensible alternative is excellence. Striving for excellence is stimulating and rewarding; striving for perfection--in practically anything--is both neurotic and futile.
-Edwin Bliss

The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement.
-George Will

"Hi, I'm ____, and I'm a perfectionist." How many of us could put our name on the line? I'll admit it-I'm a recovering perfectionist. I've spent many years challenging the thinking, expectations, and standards that kept me trapped in the perfectionist struggle for years. Another thing I'll admit-I'm NOT perfect (*gasp*) at staying away from perfectionist standards 100% of the time. That's right. I'm not perfect at not trying to be a perfectionist.

Before we can start to challenge and change some of the beliefs and expectations behind perfectionism, I think it's important to understand what is involved in this process.  So, how about a little education & discussion on perfectionism, and then moving on to the challenge (you all know how much I love challenging our automatic thoughts!)?

1. Perfectionists CAN be Procrastinators. This seems like the opposite would be true. For example, the idea that perfectionists finish everything way before they need to have it done. This may certainly be the case, but perfectionists can also be procrastinators (and people who define themselves as a procrastinator may, without realizing it, be a perfectionist!). With perfectionism there is such a fear of failure (of not meeting the unrealistic expectations that have been set), and this fear becomes paralyzing.
2. Perfectionism is a Losing Game! No matter how hard you try, you won't be perfect. Realistically, we can say that. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. However, we trap ourselves in a series of lies that tell us that if we only do x,y,and z, we will be perfect. And within the "rules" of perfectionism game, unless we are perfect, we are a failure. Therefore, perfectionism is a losing game (even if we can occasionally delude ourselves into believing that we can win at the game).
3. More then likely, you will actually be more successful if you strive for doing well instead of strive to be perfect. We tend to believe the myth that if we release our tight grip on our standards and strict rules for living, that we will quickly slide back into being unsuccessful, getting bad grades, or failing at our relationships. However, when we can let go of some of that fear and control, we tend to stay motivated in a healthy way, and can engage more fully in what we're doing (both work AND in relationships!).

So, my perfectionism says that I want to be incredibly thorough in giving information. However, I know that I tend to start skimming long posts instead of actually reading and thinking about them, and I want to watch a little TV on this Friday night. So, I will keep this post as is, and continue the discussion of perfectionism tomorrow:)

*you can find the rest of my series on perfectionism here.

Here's what I'd like to know from you:
Do you struggle with perfectionism? What are some of the unrealistic beliefs about perfectionism that you have seen or experienced?And finally: Any fun plans for the weekend?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

10 Ideas to Refill Yourself {I can't give what I don't have pt 2}

In yesterday's post I introduced the idea that "I can't give what I don't have." Unless I'm healthy and taking care of myself, I will very quickly not have much to give to my clients. So this begs the question, "how do I take care of and refill myself"?
Of course I'd love to say that I can afford to get my nails done every week, and go to the spa each weekend (I think I'd definitely feel relaxed if I could do that!). However, I can't afford that, but that doesn't mean that I can't still take care of myself.

Here are a few of my tips and ideas for refilling myself:

1. Limit my number of one way/helping relationships: I give all day at work to my clients, and obviously it isn't appropriate for them to refill me. Because I'm giving all day, I need to have two way relationships with others after work, where there is a mutual give and take. It's fine to give of yourself, but you need to be able to receive as well.
2. Unplug! It's tempting to be constantly checking emails, texts, twitter/facebook updates, etc...but it's not a mental break. One of my rules is that I don't check my work email when I'm at home at night. And I'll check it at most one time over the weekend. Nothing is an absolute emergency that can't wait until the next morning.
3. MOVE. Whether you turn on music and dance in your living room, go on a walk with a friend, go on a run, or some other form of physical activity, it is important for your mental & physical health! This will help to decrease some of the stress and tension that easily builds up!
4. Enjoy Nature. Find the beauty in nature, capture it in a photography, or mix nature and moving together.
5. Keep a Thankfulness Journal. Remember my post on the Thankfulness Project? This can help to increase mood and to refocus on the positive.
6. Incorporate Deep Breathing. Establish a regular practice of deep breathing in your life. This helps slow down heart rate, decrease stress hormones, and increase focus and concentration. Whether you are sitting in a meeting, cooking dinner, or having a conversation with a friend, you can engage in this process!
7. Take a Bath
8. Read a Book For Fun
9. LAUGH. Remember that Sense of Humor is one of the 17 components of wellness. Spend a few minutes laughing every day.
10. Learn to say no! There will always be more good things to be involved in then there is time. Learn to say no so you don't overcommit yourself or stretch yourself too thin. Engage in a few things wholeheartedly instead of giving half-heartedly to many things.

Those are a few of the things that I have found to be helpful in giving to myself so that I can keep giving to others. Let me say this: It can be incredibly hard to do this, so in no way am I suggesting this is always simple to do. However, to be healthy you MUST take care of yourself!

What activities do you do to refill yourself? 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I Can't Give What I Don't Have...

Remember a few months back when I did a series on Boundaries? (If not here are a few of the links:  basics, active process,burnout-1, burnout-2, laws of boundaries-1, and laws of boundaries-2)

So, a quick reminder of boundaries: Boundaries are like invisible property lines that define what is me, and what is not me. What "is me" (what I am responsible for) would include my thoughts, my feelings, and my actions (behaviors). I can't make others be responsible for mine, and I can't take on the responsibility for others. Doing this is to have poor boundaries, and will lead to unhealthiness in our self and in our relationships with others. We can't have a truly healthy relationship without having healthy boundaries. 

    “You may need to set boundaries on people in real need. If you are a loving person, it will break your heart to say no to someone you love who is in need. But there are limits to what you can and can’t give; you need to say no appropriately” (Boundaries, p. 250).

Over the course of the last month, I saw a lot of conversations in blogs and on twitter about "self-love" and taking care of ourselves. The problem with boundaries is that they can seem selfish. However, we only have so much that we can give before we run ourselves into the ground. I always tell my clients "You can't give what you don't have." If you are going to pour into others, then you need to poured into to be refilled, so that you have something else to give. Without being refilled, we will run dry fairly quickly. So, while it seems selfish to say no to people sometimes, I believe that it's one of the most loving things we can do. Yes, we may be giving a little less in the moment, but long term we'll be giving a lot more. And, if we hit a point of burnout (links to information on burnout at the top of this post), then we can't give anything to anyone else around us. 

How do you set limits in life? Do these limits feel selfish? Any examples of limits you have to put in your life to keep you healthy?