Friday, September 30, 2011

Fantastic Fridays (Life's Tiny Delights)

Favorite Tiny Delight of the Week
Happy Friday! In honor of National Coffee Day (which I forgot until after I made a tea latte for myself this morning), my tiny delight for the week is coffee! How many of you love to start your day off with a hot cup of java! In the winter especially I convince myself that the freezing 25 minutes in the car on the way to work will be worth it when I get to drink my coffee (it usually is!). Not only that, but studies have shown some health benefits to coffee (although life without coffee is probably just as healthy). Enjoy your coffee, but please don't become addicted to caffeine. There are a few people in particular in my life who get incredibly cranky and rude until they get coffee. It's no way to treat people, and if a lack of a substance is making you be that way, then maybe it's time to evaluate your dependence on it.
Enjoy your coffee in a healthy way, and let it brighten up your morning! It sure brightens up mine:)

Favorite Quote of the Week
"Your opinion of me is none of my business" -Randy Pausch (Included in my blog post here)

Favorite Post By Someone Else
I am a Marathoner - Ali On The Run ran her first marathon this past weekend, and I loved following it via tweets the entire time! Read her recap and be inspired:)

Favorite search terms:
Now it's your turn!
Do you like coffee? What's one of your favorite things from this week? 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Your Opinion Isn't My Business

“Your opinion of me is none of my business.” –Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture”

This post really should've been done many months ago, in my series on Boundaries. I suppose that we can each use a refresher in regards to boundaries on a regular basis, so this will serve as that refresher for each of you. If you started reading this blog after I did the series on Boundaries, please go back and read the posts. The concept of boundaries is one that is often overlooked, but is essential for maintaining a healthy life, and more importantly, healthy relationships. There is little chance of having healthy relationships if you cannot maintain boundaries with those people. 

A quick reminder: Boundaries "define what is me and what is not me" (Cloud & Townsend). This means that I need to know "what is me", and therefore what I am responsible for and what I can control in life. This means that I am responsible for my own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I am not responsible for the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of others, and I cannot try to get others to take responsibility for MY thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. 

How does that, then, apply to the quote above? Why do we try to take on the things another thinks and make them our business, when having healthy boundaries clearly states that those things are outside our realm of control?

How much time, stress, energy, and anger do we invest on making another's opinion our business? Furthermore- how often do we change who we are because another doesn't like something about us? We try to fit in, or become a version of someone else instead of ourselves. It's a shame to lose who we are because we take on the opinions of others. 

Now it's your turn:
What do you try to make your business that is actually none of your business? What's happened when you take someone's opinion of you on as your business? 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: {A Review of Wellness}

Health is a large word.  It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well;... and not today's pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man.  ~James H. West

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday, a day each week to focus on wellness in our lives. For the last few months I've been going through the Wheel of Wellness, discussing the different factors of wellness. I'm about half way done, so I'm doing a bit of a review. Click here to see a list of Wellness Wednesday posts so far, and to catch up on any that you might have missed. 

Wellness isn't something that "just happens" in our life. We don't just stumble upon it one day. At least most of us don't. 
If we can't get past wanting to avoid temporary pain, discomfort, or needing immediate pleasure, then we have little hope of being healthy, or ultimately happy as well. 
The thing with health and wellness is that it usually involves sacrifice, in some way, at some point in time. While you might sacrifice some things, you also gain a world of wonderful benefits, and that's what's important to focus on while fighting towards health and wellness. 

It's hard to give up things in the present moment when we don't have a purpose for what we do. The bigger picture allows us to make the small sacrifices along the way.
Here're a few questions for you to get you started?

1. Why do you want to get healthy? What's your ultimate purpose in health and wellness?
2. What are you willing to give up or sacrifice in order to get to a place of health in life?
3. What's the "bigger picture"?
4. If you aren't willing to sacrifice anything right now, what's holding you from wanting the place of health in life?
5. What other choices in life can you make to take the next steps forward to health and wellness?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dear Stress

I had a post written for today, and when I went to schedule it last night, it said it posted, but it didn't post at its scheduled time, isn't in my scheduled folder, and isn't in drafts- seems like it completely vanished. Maybe it will show up again (i can hope)!

I'm busy preparing for a presentation I have to give later this week, so I don't have time to retype the post for today. Given my time crunch, I decided to go back and highlight a few recent posts that you may have missed. 

Moving from "have to" to "choose to" - a post all about owning our choices

When I've Had a Bad Day - We all have bad days- it's all about how we handle them

Don't Use Words Too Big For The Subject - Sometimes we use words that are not quite in line with the intensity of the situation. Do you use words too big for the subject?

How You Think When You Lose - we may have times where we "fail" or lose, but it's how we think about it that really matters. 

I'll leave you with one lasting thought:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

"Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that thankfulness is indeed a virtue." -- William John Bennett

Welcome back to another Thankfulness Monday, a time to help develop the practice of thankfulness and gratitude in life. There are many physical and mental benefits that come with this practice as well. 

That being said, here are a few of the things I'm thankful for this week:

  • Pumpkin Spice Lattes: I finally took the plunge into fall on Saturday and got my first pumpkin latte for the year. It tastes like fall in a cup, and I love it! I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin flavored things, but in the fall, this is acceptable. And delicious.
  • The start of the fall TV schedule: I'm loving a lot of the shows in the fall line-up, and it seems that there are some great new shows as well. I love knowing that, at the end of the day, I can watch something like Dancing With The Stars, Biggest Loser, or the Office. 
  • Delicious new recipes: I've tried a few new recipes this week, including Mediterranean Quinoa Salad. I love challenging myself in the kitchen, trying new foods, and expanding some healthy items for my kitchen. This was the first time I tried quinoa, and I loved it. 
  • Free Museum Day: This past Saturday was free museum day at participating museums across the country. I got the chance to check out some museums in my area that I wouldn't have gone to had I had to spend my own money. However, it was a great time, and I learned more about the history of the area I live. Awesome.
  • Physical Fitness: The physical domain of my wellness, especially exercise, has been notoriously low over the last few years. While I've been increasing my activity for the last year, in the last 3-4 months I've really gotten into the grove, and am finally noticing some big results! I'm thankful that I was able to endure months of slowly building up to what I can do now. 
Now it's your turn:
What are you thankful for right now? What's your favorite fall food? 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Over the last year or so I've grown increasingly interested in quinoa, especially after hearing how healthy it actually is! This year, Emily at the Daily Garnish posted a recipe for Mediterranean Quinoa Salad. I knew I had to try it! If you've read this blog for very long, you know how I love Greece and almost all things Mediterranean, so i thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try quinoa!

I switched the recipe up a bit so head over to her recipe for the original.

Here's what I used:

1 cup quinoa
2/3 of a cucumber
2/3 cup grape tomato
1/2 cup red pepper
1/3 cup sweet onion
Feta Cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.5 tablespoons lime juice
White Wine Vinegar
Sea Salt

I followed the directions on her post, so check out the recipe here.

This meal turned out fabulously, and I'm glad I made extras so I will have another few meals. This was incredibly easy and quick to prepare. I made the quinoa in my rice cooker, and it turned out great.

The pictures on the Daily Garnish look much better. It was dark outside and I was using my phone. Not very good lighting. 

The pictures might not be beautiful, but the taste is absolutely delicious

I could've eaten 3 bowls of this for dinner. I controlled myself though. 

Now it's your turn:
Have you ever tried quinoa before? Does the look or consistency freak you out at all? What's one new food you'd like to try in the next week or two?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Apple Cranberry Oatmeal

I LOVE oatmeal, but took a break from it over the summer, choosing to eat greek yogurt and granola instead. Now that it's fall, I've whipped out my oatmeal and am back to eating it once again. In the spirit of embracing fall, I decided to make a fall inspired bowl of oatmeal. Here's what I came up with:

Apple Cranberry Oatmeal

Oatmeal (1.5 servings)
Apples- cut into small pieces
Dried Cranberries
Brown Sugar

Yummy Apples

Cranberries hidden underneath the apples and oatmeal!

I may have gone a little cinnamon happy, but it was delicious!

This bowl of oatmeal tasted exactly like fall, and hit the spot this morning! This is a healthy and delicious way to start the morning (or would serve as an excellent snack too)!

Now it's your turn:
What fall products are you loving right now?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fantastic Fridays (Life's Tiny Delights)

Happy Friday!! For my "tiny delight" this week, I'm going to cheat just little bit. That's right- this week I'm picking WELLNESS to be the tiny delight of my week. I know I already do one post on wellness every week, but this week I've had numerous occasions to speak with friends, family, and clients about an issue I'm incredibly passionate about. I'm happy for these opportunities, because I hope to bring awareness to something that I think it crucial to each individual's functioning. Furthermore, the more I talk about something, the more aware I am of it in my own life as well, and wellness is no exception. The more I talk about it and surround myself with other healthy individuals, the more healthy I become too. Health is a process and a journey, and I know that I will never be done challenging myself, growing, and changing. I'm grateful and humbled that I get the chance to talk about something I love so frequently.

Of course with it being Friday, here are some search terms:
Now it's your turn:
What's one healthy thing you are planning to do this weekend? Is there a change you've made in life simply because you've had to focus on it? 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Most Extravagant Dinner I've Ever Eaten

This post is pretty uncharacteristic for this blog, but I wanted to share it as it shows pieces of various components of the wheel of wellness, and gives an example of one evening in my life. This past weekend I went to an anniversary dinner for some family members. It was a wonderful time to celebrate the love and commitment these two individuals share for one another. This was BY FAR the most elaborate and expensive party I have ever attended in my life, and I still can't believe I experienced that evening. 

Let me paint a picture for you. I was given 4 forks with my place setting, and was given 3 more throughout the meal. There were two "cocktail hours", and 9 courses throughout the meal. A 9 COURSE MEAL! I was stuffed by the 3rd course, so I'm not quite sure how I managed to sit through 6 more courses. This food was absolutely delicious, and part way through I thought I should start taking pictures to share with you. Here are a few of them:

Twice baked potato, steak, lobster tail, and asparagus.

Dessert plate including cookies, chocolate covered strawberries, and cannoli!

A fruit tray with cactus fruit and fresh figs!

The night ended with drinking and dancing, which was a lot of fun. Because of some of the choices I've made, and because of my career, I've chosen to not share much about my life. I thought this would be a good little slice of my life to show that I do have family that I have fun with, I do like to have fun, and I enjoy good food:) 

Now it's your turn!
What's the most crazy or elaborate dinner you've ever been to? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: {Nutrition Part 2}

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday, a weekly "holiday" on my blog that focuses on an aspect of wellness. Wellness isn't usually the easy or most convenient choice in life, but then again, most things that are good in life are a little more work, aren't they?

Remember that I'm using the Wheel of Wellness to help visualize health in life:

Last week I began a discussion on Nutrition. If you've missed Part 1 of Nutrition, you can read it here

Last week I said I would share some of my own tips on how I try to maintain balance in the nutrition component of my health and wellness. Again, I'd like to emphasize that I am not a nutritionist, but am simply sharing some of the things I do to try to be healthy. 

  1. Remember that nutrition doesn't always have to be all or nothing: I said this in my post last week, but wanted to highlight it again. I think sometimes people get intimated about trying to eat healthy because there's so much to know, do, understand, or change in their life. It's ok to do this in baby steps. Something is ALWAYS better then nothing in this area of wellness, so don't make it all-or-nothing! Give yourself the freedom to grow and experiment. 
  2. Don't label food as "good" or "bad": This tends to only lead to shame, and we start to engage in guilt beatings. When we beat ourselves up for eating "bad food", it is actually counterproductive. Especially if food is a coping skill, the guilt beating will only drive us back into eating the food we wish to enjoy.
  3. Eat dessert: Dessert is a wonderful and beautiful thing in my life, and I would definitely not give it up. Eating dessert doesn't mean you need to consume 500 calories. Eat a little dessert, enjoy the flavor, and use a little self control! You'll feel good about yourself, plus you'll get a little bit of sweet too:)
  4. Menu Planning! To some extent, plan out meals for the week before grocery shopping. Wandering aimlessly around the grocery store can be stressful, and tends to not lead to healthy and delicious meals during the week. Menu planning helps decrease stress in this domain of wellness, and leaves you feeling prepared!
  5. Keep Healthy Snacks On Hand: We often feel the need to eat between meals, and it gives us the extra boost and energy we need to keep going throughout the day. We snack on what's convenient and nearby, so surround yourself with healthy and nutritious snacks. Some of my favorites include: almond, fruit salad, crackers with almond butter, protein bars (especially Luna Bars), chips or pita bread and hummus, and cut up veggies. I try to keep veggies cut up in my refrigerator for convenience. 
  6. Make extra servings of food and freeze it: It's nice to have meals pre-made for those nights that we're too busy or stressed to make a full meal. It's easy to make extras and saves time and energy later.
  7. Drink enough water: Hydration is incredibly important in our health and functioning. Furthermore, sometimes our craving for food is simply just thirst. Drinking water may be all we need in the moment.
  8. Don't use food for coping: Life is messy and because of that, we need to develop healthy coping skills. People can easily go to food for comfort, which isn't healthy. Become aware of why you want food. Are you really hungry or are you trying to use it to cope with something in life?
  9. Cut up fruit & veggies and store them in the refrigerator: Convenience!  It's easy to grab chips when we're hungry because it's easy. If we have veggies cut up already, it's easy to snack on them or add them to a dinner with no extra effort. 
  10. Supplement a healthy diet with vitamins and calcium pills: Sometimes we don't get a perfectly balanced meal in the day. To help balance out what our body needs, vitamins and calcium can be helpful. I leave them on the counter by my sink so that they are within reach and I actually remember to take them!
Of course I do more things then just this to live a healthy life, but these are a few of the things to help bring balance to my nutrition.

Now it's your turn:
What are your healthy nutrition tips? What snack is a must have for you? What is one aspect of nutrition that you would like to change? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Moving From "Have To" to "Choose To" in College & Career

Remember the post I did a few weeks ago on my advice for college students? If not, I'd check it out.
To continue my trend of passing along wisdom about college, I thought I'd share something that I see in many of my clients, as well as the friends I had when I was in college (and even sometimes myself back when I was in school!).
I want to share a perspective that, if taken to heart and added to your life, could change the way you view school and your purpose there. By the way, this perspective isn't JUST for college students, and applies just as much to your work environments as well.

We are each susceptible to different cognitive distortions. One of these is the idea of "must" and "have to". How many times in your own life do you think something along the lines of "UGH, I have to do _____ and I really don't want to." My next thought is always: You don't HAVE to. You are choosing to.

You see, what we do in our lives is something that we control. If we do or don't do a homework or work assignment, if we don't show up for work or class, and if we fail- it's all our choice and responsibility alone. All of college and career is a series of choices.

Here's an example:
"Ugh- I have to write this paper on depression for my psychology class and I'm really annoyed that I even have to do it." I'm probably going to be angry, stressed, and possibly even resentful the entire time I'm working on the paper.
But what if I changed that thought to this:
"I'm choosing to write this paper on depression because I'm choosing to participate in and do well in my psychology class so that I can get grades that are good because I'm choosing to want to be in the field of psychology and counseling." That's a different perspective, isn't it? I still have to write the paper, BUT I am owning the fact that I am choosing to do this paper as part of a class I'm choosing to take because I chose a specific major because I chose a job field that I love and am interested in being a part of.

Here's another example:
"Ugh, I don't want to have to go to work tomorrow and I definitely don't want to have to do that work project." Again, stress, frustration, anger, or possible depression- everything we try to avoid if we're trying to be healthy individuals.
Let's switch it around a little:
"I'm choosing to go to work tomorrow and choosing to complete this project because I'm choosing to be active in a job that provides for me and my family." That changes perspective a bit, doesn't it?

My point in all of this is the following:
Ultimately, the things we do every day are a result of the choices we make. However, it's easy for each of us to view our lives as a series of "have to" activities being thrust upon us by others. This certainly won't lead to health and peace in our lives, will it?

What would happen if you and I (and those around us!) were able to change perspective from "have to" to "choose to"? What would be different?

Now it's your turn?
Do you or someone close to you get caught up in the "have to" in life? What are the results? What might be different if you replaced "have to" with "choose to" in your life? Are you willing to give it a try and see?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  ~Thornton Wilder

As I sit down to write this post I feel as if it coming from an overflowing heart. Did anything particularly amazing happen this week? Nope, not so much. In fact, if you remember a few posts ago, I talked about how I was having a bad day. Despite this no good day, and the grumpy mood that ensued, I did what I suggest for my clients to do, and it definitely helped. 
Without further ado, here are a few of the things I'm thankful for right now:

  • Delicious Food: While the food above isn't particularly healthy, it certainly was delicious. I love that I feel good about the balance of food I eat most of the time, and I don't feel guilty when I choose to eat something that isn't quite as nutritious as other food. It's a true pleasure:)
  • The Kindness of People I Hardly Know: This weekend there was an unexpected outpouring of kindness from someone I hardly know. This kindness was fantastic, and led to a really lovely and relaxing weekend. I wish I could do more spontaneous acts of kindness like this person did for me because I know how deeply meaningful it is.
  • Fall College Sports: Especially when the weather is nice, I really love sitting outside watching college sports games. It's a fun and energizing environment, and I get some fresh air! I'm happy I've gotten a few opportunities to attend them lately. 
  • Focusing on Wellness: I love that every Tuesday or Wednesday as I sit down to write my "Wellness Wednesday" posts, I get to do a check in with myself and my own wellness plan and figure out where I need to refocus myself or change some of my goals. Without a regular assessment of our individual levels of wellness, it's easy to let those behaviors slide, and I'm thankful I have a time set out in my schedule to do this. 
  • Gorgeous Summer/Fall Weather: Even though there were a few cool and gray days this week, most of the days were sunny and in the upper 60s or low 70s, which is absolutely beautiful! I'm savoring every day of beautiful weather, knowing that they don't last forever! 
Now it's your turn:
What was the best part of your weekend? What are you feeling thankful for right now? 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cutting Board Health & Safety

In college my roommate called me a "total nut" for engaging in this behavior (but indulged me and followed the rules), and in grad school my roommate flat out refused to follow my rules for this (yeah...we didn't last too long). Yes, I'm talking about my rules for cutting boards. If you've looked through some of my recipes, you may have noticed different cutting boards. In fact, here are my different cutting boards:

Blue: Fruits & Veggies
White: Cooked Meat
Red: Raw Meat

Why do I do this? You see, when we cut food up, we create cuts on the board that are perfect for a plethora of bacteria to hide. It's hard to clean these groves out well, which can lead to cross contamination. And let's be honest. None of us would rub raw chicken on our veggies before we eat them (at least I hope you wouldn't!). Because I don't want meat bacteria on my veggies that won't be cooked, I choose to keep those foods on separate boards. Make sense, doesn't it?

After cutting my raw meat, I don't just throw the board in the dishwasher either. In a pan I bring water up to a boil, and dump that over the board and let it soak in for a bit. This helps to kill some of the bacteria in the hard to reach places. After that I either hand wash the boards or stick them in the dishwasher. While that sounds a little tedious in the moment, I remind myself that the little bit of extra time now is better then days of feeling sick from food poisoning. 

Now it's your turn:
What are your cutting board habits? Have you ever lived with a roommate who had one set of rules, but you chose not to follow them why they weren't around?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fantastic Fridays (Life's Tiny Delights)

We live in a fast-paced society.  Walking slows us down.  ~Robert Sweetgall

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk.  Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness.  I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.  ~Soren Kierkegaard

If you follow me on twitter, then it's no surprise to you that I love going on walks! Earlier this week, I sent out this tweet:
Spending time outside in nature is good both physically and mentally, which is why I talk frequently about Nature Deficit Disorder. Walking is my preferred way of spending time outside, and this week it was no exception! After a day at work sitting in a chair without moving while talking to clients, my legs are usually itching it get moving. I walk frequently with a few different friends, and it helps to process life, laugh, and get some fresh air. Walking is a wonderful activity to practice living in the present moment, being aware of sensations that are current. The practice of mindfulness hardly seems like a task!
The next time you're at the end of your rope and are ready to snap at your kids, or you're feeling a little sluggish, or having a hard time concentrating- slip on some shoes and find a place to walk! Your body and mind will thank you for it!

And of course I can't end a Friday post without some search terms. I've put links onto each of the terms so you can check the posts out! 

Now it's your turn!
Do you like walking? If so, what's your favorite walking routine (trails, streets, alone, with friends, music, no music, etc...)?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

When I've Had A Bad Day...

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on"

I'll be honest. I had a completely different post planned out for today, but when I got home from work last night, I was in a grumpy mood, and was in no mindset to type the post I had planned. So, this is what you get today. Let's be realistic though. We all have bad days once in awhile. We all have days that, when we come home, lead us to wanting to crawl into bed with some chocolate or ice cream, a movie, and a cozy blanket. That's life in an imperfect world. Sometimes it's easy for me to dwell on how bad a day I had, and because I'm indulging that feeling, it carries on into the next day. That's not fair to myself (or others around me!) and certainly doesn't lead to a healthy mood. 

I thought I'd give you a few of the things I do when I'm in a grumpy mood to help pull myself up:
  • Talk about it with others, but don't ruminate on it: It's healthy to talk to others about your feelings, and it helps to not stuff the feeling. However, ruminating on how bad of a day you are having will only serve to make you feel worse about it.
  • Exercise: If nothing else, it's a way to beat out (or sweat out) the negative feelings you have. Plus it's good for your health:)
  • Eat a balanced dinner: When I have a bad day, all I want is something unhealthy. Because food affects our mental health, I'm careful of what I eat. But I also give myself some freedom to have something I will enjoy (and indulge a little in something sweet)! It's tempting to turn to food to cope, and this isn't healthy. 
  • Engage in self care behaviors:  Do something that you enjoy! Read a book, take a bath, go on a walk with a friend or significant other, paint your nails, or work out in the garage. 
  • Laugh : Do what makes you laugh. If that's a specific website, check it out! If it's a TV show, watch an episode! 
  • Prayer: This refocuses my mind on what's important in life.
  • Engage in The Thankfulness Project: I make a list of things I'm thankful for in life. This helps fill my heart with gratitude instead of ruminating on the bad aspects of the day.
Obviously these are only a few of the many things that you can do to help lift your mood. No matter what, remember that this won't last forever. The day will end and tomorrow you will wake up and have a shot at a new day. Choose to make the next day better.

And with that, I'm off to watch a little TV and label pictures from a recent trip! 

Now it's your turn:
What do you do to lift your mood when you've had a bad day?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: {Nutrition Part 1}

Life is not merely to be alive, but to be well.  ~Marcus Valerius Martial

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! If you've missed the other posts in the wellness wednesday series, you can catch up on all the posts here (and believe me, you don't want to miss out on them)!

Today I will continuing to move through the subtasks of Life Task 2. That means today we're talking about: Nutrition!

Myers & Sweeney define nutrition as:
Eating breakfast regularly, daily variety in diet of healthful foods, maintaining one’s ideal weight.

Pretty simple, right? Or, is it easier said then done? Myers & Sweeney state that the "eating and drinking habits of Americans have been implicated in 6 of the 10 leading causes of death, including the fact that two in three Americans are considered to be overweight" (p. 24). That alone signals that this might be an area of wellness that we need to be taking notice of and prioritizing in our lives. Beyond physical health, our nutrition plays a very strong role in our mental health as well. 

I will not lay out for you here a perfect nutrition plan for your lives. I've included some links at the end of this post that give nutrition information, recipes, and help in setting some nutrition goals for yourself. Please check those out, and include any other links you have found to be helpful in your own journey. I do not have a degree in nutrition, and don't even pretend to be  an expert on this. I'm simply sharing some thoughts and lessons I've learned in my personal journey.

I want to highlight this: NUTRITION DOESN'T HAVE TO BE ALL OR NOTHING. If you have identified something like "well I really messed up with this meal, so I'll just waste the rest of the day" then that's pretty black and white thinking. Just because you "messed something up" doesn't mean that the entire meal or the entire day has to be a complete waste. Nor do you have to go total "food nut". Something is always better then nothing, so just because you don't want to give up your daily piece of cake doesn't mean you can't make healthy and balanced choices throughout your meals. 

I also think that people can get too caught up in labeling food as "good" and "bad". When doing that, guilt and shame can easily be ushered into your life. Shame and guilt don't produce healthy changes, but instead tend to chase you back into the very behavior that you are trying to avoid. 

Here are a few helpful sites: 

 Next week I will do "part 2" to this post, including some of my tips for maintaining a balance in the nutrition aspect of my life. 

Now it's your turn:
Do you have a hard time finding balance in this area of your life? What are your "go to" tips or rules for this component of wellness? 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cheese & Beer Dip

I'm always looking for fun things to bring to events and dinners, as well as providing for parties at my own house. While I like to provide some healthy foods, I think it's more then fine to serve a few things that aren't quite as healthy. Enter: Cheese & Beer Dip. This is absolutely delicious, and even though I'm lactose intolerant, I could hardly keep myself from eating more then the half of a bowl that I ate (yes- it's so good that I was willing to have an evening of stomach pain just to get a bit of that stuff)! I didn't get the recipe from this site, but it's incredibly close to the one I used.

cream cheese
cheddar cheese
a packet of ranch dressing mix
green onions

How I made the bowl
I bought a round loaf of bread, and cut a small layer off the top of the loaf. With washed hands, I scooped the bread out, which created the bowl. Once I tore the bread out of the center, I tore that bread into small, bite sized pieces to be dipped into the cheese sauce. 

It looks good, doesn't it? Every time I've had it, whether it being served to me by someone else, or making it myself, everyone around goes crazy for it. It's incredibly easy and quick to make, and travels to another location easily. And it's perfect for football parties:)

Now it's your turn:
What's your favorite thing to make for parties? 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

This post seemed appropriate, not only because it has to do with thankfulness, but also the idea that September 11th should be a day of service and a day to pay it forward. I think there's an interesting question that we often forget to ask ourselves. Does our thanks stop on our lips or does it flow to every fiber of our being? Do our actions show how thankful we are? Interesting thoughts...

Here are a few of the things I'm thankful for this week:

  • Sunshine! The week started out chilly and rainy. Blech. The last few days have been warm and sunny again, which has been wonderful (and much better for runs and walks!). I'm thankful that the cool weather is gone for a little while.
  • Mountains: I got to spend time in the mountains hiking. This always does great things for my heart and soul, and this time was no exception. The effects of this experience have continued until now, which I love!
  • Pinterest: I feel a little lame putting this in the list of things I'm thankful for this week, but I'm just being honest here. I love following boards, getting ideas for fall outfits, and especially all the fantastic recipes that people post. Yes, it is fun, but it's always quite informative as well. If you're not on it, go check it out asap. 
  • Running: Oh my gosh. I can't believe I actually just said that. If you remember this post from many months ago, you may recall that I couldn't run and didn't enjoy it. Over the last few months I've started to really enjoy it, and actually feel good while I'm in the middle of it (most of the time at least!). I'm so thankful for those of you who continue to blog about running as it helps me stay focused and motivated!
  • Online Recipes & Cooking Instructions: It's so nice to be able to google something as simple as "how to boil an egg" and get instructions instantly. It helps me to feel less overwhelmed by the entire cooking process. For those of you who blog about various aspects of cooking, thank you for that as well. It definitely makes an impact on my life!
So those are a few of the things that I'm thankful for today. 

Now it's your turn!
What does it look like to live a life where thankfulness permeates your actions? What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Today America Is On Bended Knee {In Memory}...

“Now, we have inscribed a new memory alongside those others. It’s a memory of tragedy and shock, of loss and mourning. But not only of loss and mourning. It’s also a memory of bravery and self-sacrifice, and the love that lays down its life for a friend–even a friend whose name it never knew. “

- President George W. Bush, December 11, 2001

Words seem inadequate for a post such as this- a post that looks back a decade to one of the worst tragedies of the last few decades. Horror, grief, anger, confusion, fear, pain- the emotions were almost palpable in the hours and days that followed. On August 3, 2001 I stood looking at the World Trade Center. On September 11th, I couldn't believe that the place I had been was brutally attacked by terrorists. I couldn't believe the innocent life that was taken. I remember sitting in front of the TV for a solid week not doing anything else but trying to sort through everything that was going on- trying to sort through my own emotion. I remember the awkwardness of trying to pick up and continue forward in life. How does life go back to normal when something so abnormal and horrific has occurred? Looking back, I think about how much my life changed that day- the things that I lost, and the I wish I hadn't gained. Every time I fly, I realize how those moments impacted our country forever. 

Every year on September 11th, I try to watch as many documentaries and read as many interviews as possible. My heart breaks, and many tears flow. What impresses me, however, is the strength and resiliency of humans. It is the sacrifice and love of the fellow man that really impresses me that day. From those on United Flight 93 who jumped into action to insure that more didn't lose their life, to those who gave their life to ensure that friends and strangers made it out alive, to the rescue workers who fought tirelessly for days trying to save anyone they could, to those families and friends who lost loved ones and have continued on in brave and courageous ways- that stands out to me. That's why I started out this post with the quote that I did. I believe it captures the two opposing memories of the day- tragedy and love/sacrifice. 

Today I say an extra prayer for those who lost much that day- friends, parents, spouses, children, family, co-workers, and a sense of safety and security. May we never forget the tragedy, but also the love and sacrifice. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Will You Do To Pay It Forward?

As I think ahead to September 11th, I've been trying to figure out how I want to spend my day, and those things on which I want to focus. I've started to see more conversations about this, and have stumbled upon the following links:
youtube clip on paying it forward
9/11 Day Of Service
10,000 Random Acts of Kindness
New York Says Thank You

These links include various ways to pay it forward, information about this idea as a way to remember the events of September 11th, and websites to read about others' acts of kindness. Pretty cool if you ask me! I don't actually know much about these organizations, but thought I'd share as a way to get each of you thinking about something you can do to pay it forward. If you know of other great organizations or websites, please leave the information in the comment section! Remember that this isn't something that just should be done on the actual day itself.

As the New York Says Thank You website ends their comments on their home page: "The secret to our growing “Pay It Forward” movement is very simple: What we do is about 9/12."

In the spirit of this day, I watch this video every year. Beautiful.

If tomorrow all the things were gone
I'd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again
with just my children and my wife,
I'd thank my lucky stars
to be living here today,
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom
and they can't take that away.

And I'm proud to be an American
where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died
who gave that right to me,
And I gladly stand up next to you
and defend her still today,
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.

Firefighters raise an American Flag over the rubble of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fantastic Fridays (Life's Tiny Delights)

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!  ~John Muir

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  ~John Muir

Every week as I get ready to post my "Life's Tiny Delights" post, I think about the ways that I've tried to develop mindfulness for the week. This week I had a lot on my mind, and it was incredibly difficult to stay in the present moment for more then a few minutes at a time. This week was challenging, but was also a good experience in forcing the practice of mindfulness. 

The thing I delighted in throughout the week? Mountains!

This brings happiness and relaxation to me immediately just looking at these pictures. Seriously- how beautiful are they? I so wish that I could spend every day looking at them, camping, and hiking in them. However, my life right now doesn't allow for that, so instead I develop thankfulness at the moments I do spend in them. 

This week was big on search hits on my blog. Here are a few of them:
  • car accident mistaken identity
  • binocular trick cognitive distortion
  • ecuador women (this search term brings in a few people every week. Why are so many people searching this?)
  • give someone else the reigns
  • counselor wise words
  • sense of control
Now it's your turn?
Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? Have you hiked a mountain? If so, which one(s)?