Anticipation

I’ve always been afraid of it. I don’t really know why. Frequently maligned and mocked things can come across as scary. It was with great trepidation I even gathered the courage to…

put it in my grocery cart.

But I did it.


Steeling myself as I reached for what I assumed was gelatinous goo, I set it on the counter to open the packaging. The label said “extra firm” but I could hear the sloshing of liquid inside. Frustratingly, the label offered no window with which to peek.

“Deep breath,” I told myself.

Gently peeling back the label, I was greeted with nothing more than a simple white rectangular prism sitting in its own nice little pool of water. No mold, no worms, no other disgusting materials of which nightmares are made. Just a rectangle of white.

I poked at it with my finger, curiosity overcoming my trepidation. “Hmm, it IS firm,” I thought, and proceeded to follow the directions for my breakfast scramble.

The white rectangle stared silently as the other vegetation warmed itself by the fire.


I crumbled it in, added garlic and tuneric, cooked and stirred. “It really resembles scrambled eggs,” I told the kids who really couldn’t care less.


Bottom line: It really DOES take on the flavors it is cooked in. With a bit of salsa and in a tortilla, it could easily be a delicious breakfast taco. Ahhh, the possibilities are endless. Like most scary things, the anticipation was far worse than the thing itself.

One thing I did learn through this recipe is that I’m not a huge fan of turmeric. I don’t mind it in tea, but in my scramble it wasn’t my fave…..but I’m excited to experiment more!

What is your favorite way to make tofu? Were you ever scared to try it? Tell me and share your favorite recipes!

via Daily Prompt: Impression

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Inspiration

Feeling a little blah after the holidays I’ve been not so inspired to write lately, about food, fitness or anything else. I have officially stopped working at the gym (my choice, all good) and have been getting into the new routine working out and doing the mom thing.

A friend of mine started a blog Fiftytwoin2017 in which she posts recipes she makes for her family – but adds her take with humor and practicality! I thought it was a great idea, but still not enough to get me off of Netflix to put some ideas down.

Last week our son had a multi-cultural lunch where each student brought a native dish from their country of origin, wrapping up a 6 week unit studying their heritage. I made Irish soda bread and brought it to the party, and of course Jacob tried one bite and said nope, and refused to try any of the the other dishes, not so shockingly. I picked the bread for it’s plain flavor and relative ease, but also knowing that there was no way my son would ever get near corned beef and cabbage. (For the record, anyone who has no taste/texture issues – the bread was delicious!)

At lunch with my husband today, we tried out a new restaurant. He is not a huge fan of Mexican food, but can usually find something he likes, mainly enchiladas. While he likes many foods I do not care for, he is often hesitant to try new things. (It’s really a miracle that our family ever eats at the same time as we are all food incompatible with each other!) Chuy’s, based out of Austin, was our lunch spot and it was delicious! His enchiladas came and had a tomatillo sauce on top. The look on his face was one of apprehension and worry. (Gah! Green! The horror!) Reluctantly he tried it – and liked it, even saying he would order it again! Win win!

Looking at the Facebook “On this day” feed, I saw that a friend had posted a recipe that I simply HAD to try – 2 years ago. It was a recipe for borscht, the Russian beet stew stuff. Hmm. I suppose after razzing Eric about trying new things, I should probably buck up and do the same. I scanned the ingredients and had most of them…all this cooking and different cultures swirling in my mind I decided to give it a go! Better late than never, right!?

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

454 g ground pork (optional)

I used the pork. Delish. Bonus – Protein!

3 medium beets, peeled and shredded

Shredding was a pain. But worth it. You could also dice them, but cooking time would need to be extended.

3 carrots, peeled and shredded

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1-6 ounce can tomato paste

¾ c water

½ head of cabbage, shredded

1-8 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste I recommend more than you might think, approximately 1 1/2 tsp each. I ended up wanting a tad more on my serving. 

Raw sugar to taste, approximately 1 tsp

I skipped this ingredient. Don’t need more sugar, but for as much as this recipe yields, it seemed insignificant. 

Sour cream and fresh parsley for garnish

This would have been nice, but I’m not a huge sour cream fan. I would make these optional.

Directions:

Brown ground pork over medium heat until no longer pink, drain and set aside. In a large soup pot, bring 2 litres of water to a boil. Add sausage and beets – cook until the beets have lost their colour. Add carrots and potatoes, cook until tender. Add cabbage and canned tomatoes.

2 liters = about 8 cups.

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Pretty beets. Pain in the butt to peel, but worth it!
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Looks like I slaughtered something – oh! It’s beets. (Notice that the last one is diced instead of shredded? Yeah, I’m not into shredding and neither are my knuckles!)
In a skillet, heat oil and cook onion until tender. Stir in tomato paste and ¾ c water until smooth. Add to soup. Add garlic, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes then season with salt, pepper and sugar. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and parsley if desired.

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Regular white potatoes about to turn red!
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Getting there!
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And kid approved!
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Delicious!
We ate it with mini saltine crackers (classy, I know). This would be amazing with some toasted french bread. (Of course, french bread is always good, I’ve never met a loaf I didn’t like.)

Tex-Mex for lunch and Ukraine for dinner! How’s that for around the world cuisine?!

Greatness is Contagious

I was watching her – not only as a bootcamp participant, but as an instructor. Early on in my heart of hearts, I knew that I was watching and learning to become an instructor myself. Yes, I was getting my own fitness on track, but deep down I felt like this was something I would love to do. Concentrating on my form, sweat beads dropping from my hairline down my back and trying to eek out each rep, she hollered at us:

“Greatness is contagious! Don’t be that person that quits half way through! The person next to you is watching! You drop out, then she does. It is contagious! Don’t be the downfall of the people next to you! Be great! Catch the greatness!”

Needless to say, that when given that little gem – somehow you manage to find what little strength you have in the tank and give it your all. She was, and is, full of these fitness gems. (You can check out Christina and her other awesome Christina-isms at her website dumbellfitness.com.)

What she said was, and is, so very true. I see it as an instructor myself all the time. You may think that while you’re in your group class, stopping mid workout to check your phone that you are only affecting you, but you’re not. Everyone in the group feels that focus and that energy detract from the room. During indoor cycling class, I’ve threatened to bring in a basket “depository” for all electronics for the hour. I crack jokes in class to get the point across without singling anyone out – because a lot of the time I think it’s just become so customary. We have these screens attached to our fingertips all of the time that to set it down and (GASP!) actually turn them off seems to make us feel naked! For one hour – just one – take a break. Work on you. Leave all of your life at the door. Trust me – it will be there when you are finished. Fill your cup – then you can get back to filling others’. 

If you are coming to a group class, understand that you are a part of that group – even if it’s just for that workout. Your presence, your energy, and your focus is wanted and needed. It’s not about the instructor or ego or anything like that – it’s about your fellow participants. When you half-ass it, they see that and it is contagious. But so is greatness. If you are giving it everything you have, so will those around you. This isn’t to say you have to be perfect, or do every rep – it’s that you are doing YOUR best. Giving it your all.

In fitness, we don’t half-ass it. We use our whole ass. Why? Because greatness is contagious!

Deployments ARE Marathons!

Having a few races under my belt including a marathon, as well as a few deployments – I couldn’t help to note some striking similarities.

During shore duty, the duty stations where deployments are not a factor, my mind goes to what I call the “shore duty mental bubble”. These are the tours where deployments do not exist. This is where we emulate as close as possible to civilian life. Spouse goes to work, comes home. Rinse, Recycle, Repeat, much like a 9-5 job most of the time.

Then the PCS season rolls around and, like little pin pricks in a balloon, reality starts to pop my shore duty bubble. We have the “where to next?” conversations and things are up in the air for a while. It’s the moment when you realize that like life, none of this is really in your control. You have to just go with it.

What the heck does this have to do with running marathons?

When running distances, it is imperative to have your mental game on point. You cannot run a marathon and at some point not ever have deal with your brain. Thoughts you haven’t ever dreamed you’d be thinking – you’ll have them while running. Like gearing up for a PCS move and/or deployments, you take it day by day, or mile by mile, as they come. To be at peace with being uncomfortable, being in transition, or being smack dab in the trenches of a long run, it comes with going with the flow instead of resisting what is.

Marathons and deployments both require preparation. You wouldn’t go out and run 26.2 miles without training for it in some fashion. (If you do, you’ll likely pay for it.) Likewise, deployments require preparation and planning. As the cliche goes, fail to plan – plan to fail. 

On the heels of planning and preparation, there is only so much you can prepare for. Then you have to just let go. Running a marathon forces you to let go of what if. What if you get injured at mile 18? What if I’m dehydrated and there isn’t an aid station? What if my knees give me trouble? What if I need a bathroom? (If you are runner, you know strategy is everything in this department!) Anyone having gone through a deployment knows that the deployment gremlins always appear within the first month! It’s military murphy’s law. The washer will break down or the car will have trouble. The garage door will not open. The gremlins never seem to jack with your life with as much enthusiasm as the beginning of the deployment. Like running, we have to accept that this crap may happen. You may get injured at mile 18. That washer may break down. But what good is it going to do worrying about either before it has even happened? Worrying is like the front porch rocking chair: gives you something to do, but gets you no where.

There will be good deployment days and bad. Some of them are so awesome that the only thing that is not perfect is that your spouse isn’t there to share it with you. The kids had a great day, you had a great day. You got done what you wanted to do, or you just played all day. Some miles are like that. Free and easy, those miles remind us runners why we love to run. The distance ticks by and you barely notice it. It’s those miles that we chase, running all the other ho-hum miles, just to experience a few of the really incredible ones. Savoring the good days and good miles carries you through the not-so good ones. 

Deployments force you to be independent whether you think you are ready or not. Standing on the start line feels the same way. Ready or not, it’s go time! 3 months into a deployment or 8 miles into a marathon – it’s you. You put one foot in front of the other and go. There is support along the way, but ultimately it’s you, being independent. Day after day, mile after mile. 

Deployments and marathons will grow you in places you didn’t know existed. You’ll do things you never thought capable. It goes without saying that pride is a big factor in both. There is no experience like laying out a plan, setting goals, and achieving. Pride in your ability to endure and cope will astound you. 

Deployments and marathons have many things in common. It’s too bad they can’t both be over in one day!

Wonder

Nope. It’s not Halloween, but I am dressing up.

It’s superhero day at the gym where I work and I went as Wonder Woman!

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I do love a good costume/halloween/dress up day as evidenced by the lengths I will go to for a laugh! Exhibits A, B, and C:

As I slipped on my bright blue lycra and golden glitter headband, I marveled at just how much fitness has brought to my life. I have met some extraordinary people that I otherwise would never have crossed paths with. That in and of itself is pretty dang awesome. The costume fun is a great side benefit!

I’ve contemplated the paths not taken many times and always wind up feeling humbled, overwhelmed, and in awe by the fact that I GET to do what I love and help others find the fun in fitness. What a tremendous gift it is to be able to do what you love.

With that said, I went, taught a fun Tacky Tuesday Spin class (showtunes and soundtracks), but was the ONLY ONE who came in a superhero costume.

Go figure.

I have impulsive tendencies, I admit. When I commit – I’m all in. Why adopt 1 small dog when you can have a traveling circus of 3? Why stick a toe in the water when you can jump in cannonball style? If you’re going to have a crazy costume – own that. Rock it and ride that bike like you stole it – blue tutu and all! Ha!

Why not, indeed.

I See You

The gym is such a weird, wonderful place. It is a prime location for spectacular people watching opportunities. Working in the gym affords me more time than most to observe, and of course work with, all types of people.

I want you to know I see you.

I see you putting in the time. I see you watching, picking up new things, learning how to do this exercise thing. You’ve been really working. Stick with it. Your consistency will pay off.

Even when it’s hard and it would be easier to just skip it. When you can easily just get lost in the day-to-day busy, or the phone, the family, the computer, or your work. Don’t quit.

Do. Not. Quit.

While you may not see it now, you are making progress. You are starting to realize that those negative voices are not speaking the truth. Keep fighting back. That voice that whispers, “It’s too hard…” and “What’s the use?” will be proven wrong. It’s not too hard. You can do hard things. You’ve done hard before. You’ve survived.

And you will again.

Ask yourself, do you ever regret moving your body? Have you ever gone home and thought, “Well, that was a waste of time. I don’t think I’ll do that again.” No, you haven’t. While not every workout has been Earth shattering, you always feel better when you get moving. You know this. Keep going forward. Progress. Not perfection.

I see you.

I see you contemplating. You have a fork in the road. Don’t opt for the easy way. In the long run, it’s not easy at all. It’s not easy to not have mobility. It’s not easy feeling uncomfortable in your own body. It isn’t easy to have zero energy to get through the day. Easy isn’t easy.

Do the work. You have the tools. Seek out information. Trust your intuition. Learn. Keep moving forward. Don’t quit. Do. Not. Quit.

I see you.

And you are worth it.

Importance

The topic of nutrition has been brewing in my mind for the past couple of weeks, and then today’s one word prompt of Healthy popped up. Last night I was watching the documentary Sugar Coated on Netflix.  And in church this morning, part of the sermon addressed time; that which we deem important we will make time for.

In the documentary, a clip of teens attending an obesity conference in Canada are depicted. They are from the “fattest city in America.” Guess what city?

Corpus Christi, TX.

My jaw dropped. We are currently stationed here in Corpus. And while my jaw dropped, I didn’t find it altogether surprising. As a fitness professional – I see it every single day. The title of “fattest city,” which surely no one is aiming for, was announced in 2010 in Men’s Health magazine. Reading a Houston Chronicle article about the unwanted title, city officials were quick to point out that since that time, there have been numerous efforts put into place to shake the moniker. Things like bike trails and lanes, pedestrian paths and fun runs. What struck me was that food wasn’t addressed in the pursuit of health. Diabetes rates are TWICE the national average here. Corpus is the birthplace of Whataburger. I also discovered that we have more fast food restaurants per capita than anywhere else. I did an experiment last year when I drove from my house to the local grocery store – a distance of 2 miles. I counted the fast food restaurants. There were 17. SEVENTEEN in 2 miles! That’s insane!

While Corpus may be the extreme –  it’s not just a problem here. It’s everywhere. It’s the fitness industry as a whole. Social media abounds with the basic message: “Overweight? Move more.” Memes that give caloric equivalents to sugary, junk and processed foods. Eat a cake? No problem! Just do 127 burpees and you’ll be fine. (No, you won’t.) Doesn’t anybody find it curious that during the first years in office, First Lady Michelle Obama’s nutrition campaign was quickly shifted over to “Let’s Move!” It is a focus on the movement instead of the food we are putting into our bodies. And it’s a problem.

Food is a big deal. It’s a bigger deal than people realize. It’s a bigger deal than I realized, getting my own wake up call discovering that I was pre diabetic. If you are pursuing a healthy life or trying to lose weight, nutrition is the flip side of the fitness coin. You cannot pursue one successfully without the other.  But the deck is often stacked. The food industry is for profit. The more product people buy, the more money they make. It makes perfect business sense to create products as palatable, even addictive, as possible. It gets us to buy more. Making money is not a problem. Doing so at the expense of an unknowing population is wrong.

What I find when I work with clients, when I watch television and notice advertisements, we are inundated with the message, “There’s never enough time.”

This commercial from KFC is a classic example. Our culture worships busy. We are important because we are busy. It means we have a life. It means we are successful. It means we just simply can’t be bothered to cook. We have to run our precious darlings to football practice, and soccer practice, and dance recitals and swim lessons and on and on and on. A junior high football practice can run for 3 hours! 4-7pm. Right through dinner! When the heck are these kids supposed to eat? Do homework? Have down time? “Oh we make it work,” say parents who regularly run ragged around family members’ insane schedules. Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy? Do you honestly think your kid is going to play in the NBA? (Or MLB, or NFL, etc.)

For this past year I’ve been working one on one with clients, not only do I get looked at like I have two heads when I say “Our family doesn’t eat out very often. We cut out fast food entirely,” but a recurring theme surfaces over and over.
“I’m too busy.”

“Cooking is boring.”

“It’s hard.”

“I don’t know how.”

We don’t know what we don’t know. I’m grateful when clients ask questions. I love it when people realize that the food industry really doesn’t have your health in mind when designing food-like products. It’s a learning curve that isn’t going to right itself overnight.

Here’s the thing, if we are too busy to prepare food to feed ourselves, perhaps we are just too damn busy. 

If we are too busy to teach our children basic life skills such as feeding themselves, then perhaps we are too damn busy.

It’s time to slow down. It’s time to take stock of what is REALLY important. The day has enough hours. We get 24. Make time to cook. Learn what is REALLY in your food. Ignore the front of any package. Go straight to the back and look at (and read) the ingredients. Are they whole food ingredients that you would have in your kitchen? If not, put it back on the shelf!

The more real food we consume (and eliminate the crap), the less health issues we will face in the long term. The more real food we demand of the food industry, the more real food will be provided. Like it or not, they will go after the money.

Vote with your grocery dollar, because the food industry is listening. Vote with your time – what is really important?