Archive for April, 2011

Looking forward to tomorrow’s challenge! Remember when? 😉 Go here and “like” the page so you don’t miss out


Somewhere around 2am our internet connection stopped working. Both my husband and I were awake and online when it happened. I was watching a movie on Netflix via the PS3 and he was working on lesson plans. I decided to just go to bed and let my husband try to get it working again. This morning I got up, attempted to wake the kids, then headed straight for the computer. Checking my facebook page, online office and email are all an essential part of my morning routine. My to my dismay the connection was still not working. I unplugged everything (not an easy feat since it takes a little contorting, a dash of acrobatics and a whole lotta patience to reach all the plugs) and went back to bed thinking that somehow something magical would happen while I slept.

Fast forward a few hours to a better-rested me, full of hope and positivity. I plugged everything back in (in the proper order, mind you…heaven forbid you do one thing wrong or it won’t work) expecting life to return to normal. Nope. I tried unplugging everything again, thinking maybe I hadn’t used the proper order after all. Nothing. It was time for desperate measures. I called Comcast. After several minutes of unplugging and plugging all the different cables and cords in every possible sequence imaginable while having the patience to wait 10 seconds each time (which began to feel like forever), we arrived at the conclusion that the modem is fine. The problem must be the router.

I immediately began the quest, trying to find the booklet that came with the router because the only contact information on the router itself was a website address. Not exactly helpful when the router isn’t working. Just saying. All I could find was the start-up CD which at first glance didn’t seem to be what I needed. So I looked some more. Finally, with a lack of any other ideas, I put in the CD and found a manual with a troubleshooting guide. Great! As the minutes passed I slowly came out of denial that I would have to actually find a phone number and call tech support. The first time I tried, I got cut off after several minutes on hold (which by this time, felt like an eternity). The second time, I was connected to a very nice man who I could sort of understand. My patience was wearing thin, but I tried my best to not let it show.

He walked me through another series of acrobatics, especially when he asked me to unplug the router and plug it into another outlet. Seriously?? I was amazed that I was able to accomplish this without knocking over the TV in the process. It didn’t help. I described the color of the lights on the front of the router each time. Amber power light, green numbers (which should not have even been lit up), no beautiful blue light indicating that I would be able to check my facebook notifications. Then he asked me to connect the computer with the ethernet cable. Well, I know we have, or had, one because I used it to set up the network. I can see it in my mind’s eye, all pretty and blue. But today it was nowhere to be found. So he had me stick a paperclip in the back of the router to restore the factory settings. I hated the idea of doing that because it meant setting up the network again, but if it solved the problem, fine. It did not.

I think by that time, he was just as frustrated as I was and was trying just as hard to hide it, but neither of us was particularly successful. His final suggestion was to go get an ethernet cable, run some diagnostic of the firmware (I have no idea what firmware is) found on the CD, and if that doesn’t work call back and they’ll see about replacing the router. Yeah. Ok. Well. Ok. I finally called my husband with the bad news…if he wants to be sure he can get online to tutor tonight he’s going to have to buy another router on his way home.

I wish I could say that it’s all better now, but instead I’m tethered. I couldn’t take one more minute of being disconnected from my digital life so I plugged the yellow cable directly into my laptop which now has to be within three feet of the modem. As difficult as it is for me to type while lying on my stomach, propped up on my elbows, that is exactly what I’m doing right now. (You would not believe how many misspelled words the spell check picked up.) I was going to post some pictures from walks last week, but I refuse to be here like this for the length of time it would take to accomplish that. So instead, you get to hear the story of my day trying to make it so I can once again sit on the couch to connect with the world. I guess it’s sad, really, how much I depend on the internet, but it is my reality and I don’t think I’d have it any other way because how else could I be friends with people thousands of miles away? If I have to be uncomfortable for a while to reap the benefits then I’ll do just that and try to stay positive about it. 😀

One of the main purposes I have for writing this blog is to get people to do something different, to make positive changes. Since my facebook page is closely related to my blog I thought it would be fun to have daily challenges, “assignments” that are designed to get people to see life from a new perspective and improve their world. The categories are Family, Fitness, Food, Finances and Fun. The first challenge was posted this past weekend and it involved letting your family know how much you appreciate them. Today’s challenge was to find an organization or charity that means something to you and donate your time or money. I believe one of the most responsible things you can do with your money is to use it to help others. And even if you don’t have as much money as you would like, you have time. It’s just a matter of priorities.

I hope you’ll join us. Just go to my facebook page and click “like” at the top to receive the posts for each new challenge in your facebook news feed. If you have a suggestion for a challenge, please leave a comment below! I’m always open to suggestions.

Today is Easter which means different things to different people, but one thing seems to be the same with everyone…food. I find it interesting that humans include food as such an important part of their celebrations. Why do you think that is? Please leave a comment with your theories. In the spirit of all that food, here are the photos I’ve taken of things I’ve eaten over the past couple of weeks. (It’s about time I finally got around to posting them.) Scroll over the photos if you want to see the descriptions. If you want a recipe or more info, just ask!

Better Late Than Never

Though I grew up as an only child, I actually have three siblings. Two half brothers and one half sister. We all share the same dad. Well, it’s actually a little more complicated than that. The youngest brother was adopted and there was another brother who died shortly after birth. I was the last to arrive and the product of the next to last marriage. There is a pretty big age gap between them and me so they were all adults by the time I was old enough to remember spending time with them, which wasn’t often.

Of the three, I saw the youngest brother the most, about once or twice a year on holidays until I was a teenager. The oldest, my other brother, I may have met once when I was in elementary school, but neither of us actually remembers the encounter. Over 25 years later we finally started to get to know each other on facebook and have visited each other twice since with plans for another visit this summer. Unfortunately, I don’t have the same chance with my other brother because he passed away a few years ago due to health issues brought on by some unfortunate choices over the course of his lifetime. Even though I spent the most time around him I never felt like I knew him at all. Though I’ve heard many stories from those who did know him, I wish I had gotten to know him first hand while he was still alive.

I always dreamed of having a sister when I was growing up. Someone I could play with and tell all my secrets. Someone who had my back no matter what.  My parents divorced when I was very young so I never had that experience. Of course, I did have a sister, but she lived in another state with her husband and kids. We visited them a few times and I even stayed with them for a summer, but it wasn’t exactly the kind of sisterly relationship I was longing for. The funny thing is, though, that as time goes on, the difference in age becomes less and less significant. We’re both adults now and can relate on many levels. It’s been years since we’ve seen each other or even talked, but again facebook has brought me closer to my family.

 This is a photo of us when I was very young, too young to remember the visit.

As I compare that to this recent photo of me I am blown away by how much we look alike.

It turns out our looks aren’t the only thing we have in common. At the top of the list…procrastination. I find myself saying, “better late than never”, a lot. When it comes to my sister, that’s especially true because she is a cancer survivor. I lost my mom to breast cancer weeks before my husband and I got married and missed out on sharing my life as a wife and mom with her. I can count the number of female relatives I’ve actually met on one hand so connecting with my big sis is a big deal. How tragic it would’ve been if I had missed the chance to build a relationship with her.

It’s so easy to take people for granted and sadly that means we let important relationships slip through our fingers as time flies by. I wish I had been there to support my sister as she battled cancer, but at least we still have time to be sisters now and her victory over one of my greatest fears inspires me. Better late than never, indeed.

This is the first workout in this second round of the Push Phase that I’ve done for the first time. Does that even make sense? I took a break while I was doing the Shakeology 3-day Cleanse, but didn’t want to start over again so I’m just picking up where I left off…this time and the last time. Did that just get even more confusing? Ha! It felt so good to get back to lifting weights again and my favorite is still the Long-Arm Pullover.

Sumo Squat – 25lbs each hand/8 reps (same as the first time)

Single-Arm Row – 25lbs/8 reps (same as the first time)

Chest Fly – 17.5lbs each hand/8 reps (same as the first time)

Bowler Lunge – 25lbs each hand/8 reps + 3 extreme (same as the first time)

Double-Arm Bent-Over Row – 25lbs/7 reps + 3 extreme (same weight, more reps)

Bench Press – 25lbs each hand/8 reps + 3 extreme (same as the first time)

Single-Leg Sumo Squat – 25lbs each hand/8 reps + 3 extreme (heavier, same reps)

Reverse-Grip Bent Over Row – 20lbs/8 reps + 3 extreme (same weight, more reps)

Long-Arm Pullover – 20lbs/8 reps + 3 extreme (same as the first time)

I was concerned about doing some of the back exercises because my lower back was feeling a bit tweaky, but I found that keeping my back straight and engaging my core really helped and my back feels fine now.

When it comes to dinner for my family, the faster and easier the better. The trick is finding dishes that everyone will like. I live with some pretty picky people and they all like and dislike different things which makes things challenging (and frustrating at times). I’m not quite sure how we ended up this way because when my boys were little they ate pretty much everything good. Somehow along the way they decided they don’t like certain things anymore that they used to love. Hopefully it’s just a phase. My husband has been picky ever since I met him so that’s no big surprise. Now that I’m attempting to provide healthier food it’s even more challenging. You see, they all like pizza and hot dogs and french fries, but eating that way all the time isn’t exactly ideal.

Tonight, I decided to throw together a soup inspired by the ease of Sam the Cooking Guy’s tortilla soup. With plenty of ingredients in the cupboard I started throwing things together and it turned out better than I expected. Here’s the “recipe”. The ingredients are listed in the order I dumped them into the pot. The only thing I wish I had, but did not, was corn. Oh well. Next time. Oh, and maybe some green chiles. Shredded rotisserie chicken would work, too. Ok, the possibilities may very well be endless.

2 14.5oz cans Swanson chicken broth – 33% less sodium

about 1tsp minced, dehydrated onion

1 14.5oz can organic black beans, drained and rinsed

1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand (because I didn’t feel like washing the blender)

5 cloves of garlic, pressed

taco seasoning, chicken and tomato bouillon to taste (didn’t measure)

about 2tsp Mexican oregano, crushed (different from regular oregano, found in the Latino section)

about 3/4c Barilla Plus penne pasta, dry (added after the rest came to a boil and simmered for 12 minutes)

The entire pot of soup only had 725 calories, 3 grams of fat, 46 grams of protein, and 36 grams of fiber. Serves 4-8 depending on whether the soup is the main dish or a side.

I topped the soup with some shredded cheese and served it with salad and corn bread. I’m thinking it would’ve been really good with some freshly squeezed lime juice like Sam suggests for his Black Bean Soup (also easy and delicious).

Just as I thought, the kids found the frozen strawberries so my first shake of the day was Greenberry with mango puree from Trader Joe’s. I love that stuff. There have been too many times where I’ve shelled out good money for fresh mangoes, waited patiently for them to ripen and then cut them open to find they’ve turned brown even though they’re barely soft. No more! The frozen puree is perfect for shakes and it’s not stringy. Between the ice and mango I ended up with a very large shake. It didn’t all fit in the 16oz shaker cup. I just wish my camera did a better job of capturing the color. It’s actually much more vibrant and not really the color of pea soup.

I got a late start to my day (notice the time on the stove when I made my first shake) so I didn’t end up following the plan exactly. If I had weighed myself before I started I would’ve been more concerned with doing things exactly according to plan so I could share my results, but I got what I needed out of it. I definitely feel less fluffy, my clothes are fitting much better, and I’m hydrated again. And perhaps the most important benefit, I’m just interested in eating things that are good for me because I need them instead of eating whatever just for the taste. It’s amazing how much your mindset toward food can change in just three days. Once you realize how much better you feel after eating healthy you don’t want to go back to eating junk because you realize it’s just not worth it.

I had this idea that when I quit working outside the home somehow I’d be less busy. I suppose in some ways that’s true because technically I could sit around all day and do nothing, but doing nothing means nothing gets done. Ok, maybe that’s kind of obvious, but when my kids were little I managed to spend day after day doing just that. I didn’t neglect the kids, but I only did enough to make sure they were taken care of…and nothing more. Now they’re older and in school and without a job to go to my days all begin the same way, as a blank slate. I could just sit around playing games on facebook or watching TV, but I have actual goals now, things that matter to me and my family. Since I don’t have anyone telling me what to do all day long it’s up to me to make sure I’m getting everything done and you know what? There’s a lot to do.

I could spend all day working on building my fitness coaching business or blogging or walking around outside taking pictures and working out or cooking and cleaning, but that would mean neglecting everything else. For a while I thought I had it figured out. I went to bed at a decent time, got up early to get the kids off to school, started the laundry, took a walk, blogged about the walk and posted photos, worked out, had lunch, spent the afternoon working on my business and finishing up the laundry or cleaning, took the kids to basktball or karate, made dinner, helped the kids with homework, relaxed a bit and then headed to bed to start all over again. It was great and I was getting things done, moving toward my goals, but there was something missing…my husband.

Because he lives and works on a completely different schedule the only opportunity I have to spend quality time with him is late at night. Going to bed by 10:30, I was missing out on that and I felt us growing apart. One of the main reasons I decided to build a business is so he doesn’t have to work at night, allowing us all to spend more time together and for him to be able to sleep more than a couple hours at a time. If our relationship falls apart while I’m building it then it would all be kind of pointless. No amount of money can replace having a close, loving family.  I knew I had to make some changes and start balancing things better.

The first change I made was to stop walking at 8:15 every morning. Other than the occasional friend, no one was showing up to come with me from the apartment complex. I still get to walk, but I’m free to do it whenever it works and I can stay up later to spend time with my husband because I can go back to bed after everyone leaves for the day. I can tell he appreciates the time we spend together and our relationship is getting stronger by the day (or night). Now I have to shift my thinking  just as I’ve shifted my schedule. I have to get used to the idea of being more productive at night while I wait for him to be done working. I have to admit I’ve let some things slide with this transition.

I was thinking about all of this the other day while I was walking around the track at my son’s school, trying to figure out how to find balance again with all the things that need to get done. Then it hit me. The same thing that helps us balance physically helps in all aspects of life…a strong core. The core is the center of who we are, the things that drive us, our priorities. Some things are just more important than others and when we focus our attention on what matters most the rest will fall into place. I knew I had to go back to the goals I had made and look at the top priorities in my life (something I had done when I did Chalene Johnson’s 30-day Challenge…I highly recommend it) to figure out what to spend my time on and what could be pushed to the back burner.

Now that I’m seeing more clearly what I need to do the next step is to design my day by making a to-do list (also a valuable tool learned from the 30-day challenge). I used to hate the idea of a list controlling my day, but I’ve come to realize that you control the list…it doesn’t control you. By figuring out ahead of time what really needs to be done and checking back throughout the day to stay on track you actually create more free time because you get things done much faster. It’s really a beautiful thing, if you do it.

For someone like me it’s definitely a new habit that needs to be formed which isn’t always easy. But after experiencing the life-changing power of the list (that’s right, I said it…and mean it) I know it’s worth the effort. The key is to do it properly and the person to learn that from is the Queen of the To-Do List, Chalene Johnson. So if you need some help with balancing your life and figuring out what it is you really want and how to get it, click on the link for the 30-Challenge and get registered. What you will get from it is priceless (and it’s free). I’m done talking now and am going back to bed so what are you waiting for? 😉