My mom and I had an incredible time on Marco Island.
The weather tried to break our spirits for the first half of the trip…
…so we entertained ourselves with the fitness center, a few hours of HGTV, and a film in a nearby movie theater (Philomena — SO good!).
We went on one of the coolest water adventures ever — Capt Ron’s Awesome Everglades Adventure.
We jetskiied around town…
And came thisclose to dolphins:
The guide was knowledgable and friendly and we zipped through mangroves and around corners at about 40 mph. A thrill-seeking adventure for sure!
But best of all, as always, was spending QT with my Mom in a new place. I am so lucky to have such a fun travel buddy who is up for anything (seriously — I don’t know if I would be driving a jet ski through the Gulf in 20 years like my incredibly brave mother) and loves the sunshine, travel, and good food as much as I do.
Cannot WAIT to go back to Marco. Thanks, Mom (and Dad!!).
Hello, folks! I am writing to you now as Laura Sullivan, BSN, RN. I took the boards last week and passed, and I am now officially a nurse. I don’t start work for another three weeks yet, but it feels amazing to make it all official and legal. Phew!
In other unrelated news, I am heading to Florida tomorrow with my Mom for a biennial girls’ trip! Our last one was to Disney World in February of 2012…
…and this year we’re heading to Marco Island, Florida. Marco Island is in the Gulf on the west side of Florida and is home to some pretty astounding beaches. We plan to read, relax, eat seafood, drink, and do some jet-skiing with dolphins. I am so excited for this trip I can barely type!
(I am going to try not to talk too much about MI, because if I were a blog reader in the middle of the Polar Vortex and had to listen to someone go on and on about sunny Florida I would probably delete their blog from my reader forever. But I can’t promise not to share a picture or two.)
Also (a blessing for the fellow beachgoers on Marco Island): In three weeks I’ve lost 7 pounds! MyFitnessPal is an incredible tool and I never would have believed something so silly as an app could get me as motivated and committed to eating better and making healthier decisions as it has. I still won’t look too pretty in a bathing suit (I think I might reflect light from the sun back up into space off my pale legs), but it will be far better than it would have been just a short time ago.
Stay warm, everyone. I hope you all can find some light amidst this brutal winter!
(Even if it’s in the form of a lightbox, like mine!)
It’s snowing here in southeastern Pennsylvania. And this morning, thanks be to God, I was able to get to the testing center at 7:15 a.m. and take my NCLEX exam before the blizzard conditions really picked up. If my appointment had been scheduled any later it surely would have been canceled, and with testing centers as strangely and bizarrely booked up as they are, god knows when I would have been able to reschedule. This is one time that the freakishly early appointment time paid off!
So, here is a good snow day soup. Winter Vegetable Soup, to be precise, from Cooking Light.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 cubs peeled butternut squash, chopped into cubes
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped carrot
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped in the can but undrained
- 2 (14-ounce) cans fat free less sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups chopped kale
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can navy beans or other small white beans such as cannellini
Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook for 3 minutes, stirring. Add onion and garlic, cook about 3 minutes or until onion begins to get tender. Add squash and next 6 ingredients through the cinnamon, stirring to combine, and cook 4 minutes while stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes and cook 2 more minutes.
Stir in the chicken broth and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 8 minutes, then add kale. Cook 5 more minutes and then add beans. Cook about 5 more minutes and then serve.
I’ve officially settled into this life of nothingness. It was dark for a few days back at the beginning of January, I’ll be honest. Things have improved since I’ve started studying in earnest for my boards (Tuesday the 21st, start praying for me now), and I’ve felt as though my days have a bit more purpose.
Without purpose, I get into a deep pit of pajamas, cooking lots of food, and watching and entire season of The League in one day. It’s not necessarily pretty.
Because it’s January, you see, which is one of my least favorite months of the year. (Incidentally, it used to be February, back when I was all single and hating life for the wrong reasons and focusing on all the wrong things.) January is just so….January. It’s gray-white and monochromatic and dreary. I need a light box.
Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to.
1. I made a green smoothie!
At the behest of several “healthy eating” blogs, I made a green (brown) smoothie. It had very little spinach and mostly berries and banana, but whatevs, it counts. I also used only 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt.
Verdict? Not bad! But I find it hard to believe that making a smoothie out of fruits—with the exception of the spinach part, which you wouldn’t eat otherwise for breakfast—simply leaves you feeling hungry faster than if you left your stomach up to the task of digesting all that fruit for you. Anyone have a comment on that?
2. I saw 12 Years a Slave and cried my eyes out!
We had to get soul-soothing lattes at Busboys and Poets after that emotional wrecking ball.
3. Riggins learned a new trick!
4. I read another good book: The Birth House.
5. And lastly, the Sullivans and their significant others are heading to NYC this weekend for a brief 24 hours. We’re off to see Pippin, eat at one of my favorite GF restaurants in the city, and I get to show Someone my old stompin’ grounds.
Here are the things that are helping me stay true to my Fat Camp diet and exercise plan.
(Please don’t think I’m trying to be a know it all — this is essentially a letter to myself when I lose motivation in about 14 days.)
1. Work out every day, even Saturdays.
I don’t know why I always got it into my head that you didn’t have to exercise on the weekends. In fact, the weekends are certainly when I should be exercising more. I get into trouble when I add wine into the mix, plus any time I eat a morsel of food not prepared in this here kitchen. A big boost of negative calories from a workout on Saturday or Sunday (or both!) really helps curb the damage I otherwise do on weekends.
2. Eat more slowly.
I eat like a dog whose food is about to be taken away from him. It’s kind of disgusting. Even Someone (who is still adorably loath to point out my flaws, awesome guy that he is) admitted freely that I eat so quickly, “It’s like you’ve been in prison.” Well. Hear that once from a boyfriend and maybe you’ll slow your roll, too!
I have taken to eating more slowly, chewing each bite 30 times (kidding on that one), and trying to savor each bite. I hear that’s how the French do it, too. Pausing between bites allows my stomach to register when I’m actually full, which is usually about 400 bites before I’ve stopped eating.
3. Smaller portions.
The one thing the app has taught me above all is that a cup is not what I thought it was. I was eating HUGE portions.
4. Lots of snacks.
The 5-small-meal thing works for me. Oatmeal for breakfast, fruit and yogurt for second breakfast, a small lunch, a healthy 150-200 calorie afternoon snack (cucumbers with dip, a handful of almonds, granola, a few clementines, some carrots and hummus), and a reasonably sized dinner. Feeling starved by lunch or dinner only makes it harder to stand by smaller portions and slower eating.
5. Weekly weigh-in, not daily.
It sounds silly, but a weekly weigh-in gets you excited to see your progress. Biggest Loser, Laura Edition! And what doesn’t work is daily weights, which don’t help me find any motivation. It takes 7 days to see that scale move, and the discouragement that comes with a slight increase on a random Wednesday morning doesn’t do anyone any favors.
6. Drink more water!
In addition to the healthy (boring) snacks, one big giant glass of ice water helps curb hunger for at least another 40 (15?) minutes.
7. Drink less wine!
If you’re drinking wine 5 days a week, make it 3. If you were drinking wine 7 days a week, make it 5. If you’re drinking wine 3 times a week, well, that’s probably good. Don’t get CRAZY or anything.
8. Plan a workout schedule the week ahead and STICK TO IT. (Same goes for meals!)
When you wake up tired and forego Zumba in the morning “cuz you’ll totally just go do the elliptical later,” you’re lying. Plan weekly workouts with a mix of cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training, and in the beginning, plan your life around your workouts. As I’ve found in the past, planning workouts around life leaves approximately 0.0 time for workouts.
9. Don’t go to the food store hungry.
This sounds silly but it’s so true. Here’s a fun fact: If you don’t have Cheetos in your pantry, you can’t eat Cheetos!
10. Eat without distractions.
When I snack or eat in front of a movie, TV show, or even the Internet, I eat so much faster and so much more. It’s really weird to eat without doing anything else for multitaskers like me, but it forces a focus on the food, the bites, and even makes it slightly more enjoyable. Especially if it was a difficult meal to prepare!
11. Buy yourself a new pair of shoes, a new pair of workout pants, a new sports bra, a new water bottle, a new gym bag…. a new something.
If you aren’t going to the gym because you don’t fit in all your old workout clothes because you haven’t been going to the gym…. this is a vicious cycle that ends with you really fat and naked. Invest in the workout accessories you need to make yourself feel good. Losing weight and exercising is a psychological mind game for those of us to whom it doesn’t come automatically. BEAT it.
12. Stop eating out.
Nothing can foil a great, balanced day full of nutritious choices and exercise like 1 meal in a restaurant.
And in summary: I will always have to force myself to go to the gym. I often have tons of fun once I am there, and I love being fit and feeling good. But when I have to go to BodyPump, my mind is going to find 100 reasons to skip it. And when I plan to go do a really hard Spin class, my body is going to try to convince me it is tired and deserves a rest.
However, with careful planning to outsmart your devious, lazy self, you can do it! The best part about fitness is that you can pick it back up any day, any time.
Does it suck to get out of shape and have to start at the very unhealthy beginning? Yup. So next time, Laura, DON’T GET OUT OF SHAPE.
Yum! I ate this a few days in a row because I enjoyed it so much. Very wintery, crisp, refreshing. And, KALE.
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Also needed: aged cheddar, honeycrisp apples, lemon juice, and kale.
Remove stems from kale and tear into bite-able pieces. Place in individual bowls (or a big serving bowl). Thinly slice a honeycrisp apple (if making ahead of time, put the slices in a ziplock and add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice). Grate some cheddar onto each salad. Add a little dressing and serve!
So, so good. Modified from Cooking Light.
- 1 pound of your favorite pasta
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 ounces exotic mushroom blend (Easier on the budget: if you’re rich, get 12 ounces exotic ones!)
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1.5 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chardonnay or other dry white wine
- 2/3 cup fat free half and half
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping if you’d like
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Cook pasta. Drain and then return to pot.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat . Add the mushrooms, onion, garlic, and shallot. Season with salt and pepper, and cook about 10 minutes (until mushrooms are tender), or until all the liquid evaporates from the pan, stirring occasionally. Add wine, then cook 2 minutes or until that liquid evaporates, too.
Add the half and half, Parmesan, and parsley to the pan, and stir. Pour over pasta in pot, and mix well to combine. Serve immediately and top with more cheese or parsley if desired.
[Ed note: If you're looking for more protein, I would grill some chicken and add it to the dish -- would taste great!]
One of the crappiest things I’ve gleaned from my new best friend MyFitnessPal is that one glass of Pinot Grigio has 130 calories in it. And not a real glass (like the kind Laura likes to pour): just a 5 ounce pour.
Sigh. Serving sizes, that’s what gets me every time.
So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to measure a “glass” of wine and then I’m going to pour it into one of my favorite glasses. And then I’m going to take a tiny Sharpie and I’m going to mark a line on the glass that I am allowed to pour to. And then I’m going to cry a little bit.
And I’m going to pick just a few days of the week on which I’m allowed to imbibe.
Well, I guess no one ever said dieting was fun.
Well, it’s happened: I finally have all the time in the world to contemplate the size of my butt. And it is so, so much bigger than it used to be.
I’ve had issues with my weight for much of my twenties: It seems that immediately after college graduation my metabolism decided to be lazy, and 2007 marked the year I was no longer able to eat cheesy bread, nachos, 80 beers, and at least 10 pizzas a week without noticing anything amiss. Those days are SO over.
The stress and cortisol from nursing school didn’t help me in the last 18 months, nor did the whole “no time to cook or exercise” thing. I spent entire weekends on my (now very cushy) butt, studying for hours and hours on end. There are 100 excuses, but now it’s time to pay the piper.
How am I going to lose some weight? It all starts with an app.
Yes, Mother, you were right! I didn’t believe it could work or that I needed it at first, but I am four days into my new weight-loss calorie-counting app, and I’m hooked.
MyFitnessPal is an app that helps you count your calories. You input your weight, height, gender, and goal weight. You input your daily activity level (sedentary? lightly active?), and then you put in all the food you eat each day as well as any exercise (which comes off as a big negative sign, and is super fun).
[People the DC area: I did Kazaxe today, which is why I am down nearly 600 cals.]
I am a nurse (ish); I took a course in nutrition and I am also a cook. I eat healthy foods, and I enjoy creating healthy, balanced meals with the perfect combinations of nutrients. But LORD have I been deluding myself in considering the calorie content of the things I eat.
And, what’s more: It doesn’t matter what healthy thing you’re eating, because 2000 calories of kale is still 2000 calories. My portions are way out of control. (There, I SAID IT.)
In the app, you can scan the barcode of what you’re eating, search through a database of 1 jillion foods already inputted by other users (you’d be amazed at what you can find already entered), or you can enter your own actual recipe and have it spit out the nutritional information. Easy peasy!
The app trick is also proven to be effective. With SCIENCE.
A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that using a mobile device was more effective in helping people lose weight than tracking diets on paper. Tracking with the help of apps may help us regulate our behavior and be mindful of our health and fitness choices.
More proof? The editor of Cooking Light and three of his colleagues downloaded MyFitnessPal and used it together — he lost 20 pounds in one year!
So here is my commitment to using this app for at least one month. Has anyone out there tried an app like this before?
You know when a book is so good you don’t even want to start another one?
That’s this. To say even anything about it would diminish it somehow. I’m not even going to tell you the plot or give it a few adjectives, because I think you should be surprised. Enjoy it.
Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes.
Other books I read recently that I enjoyed include What Alice Forgot and Necessary Lies. Both good ones!
Anyone have any book recs lately??