## Tuesday, March 29, 2011

### Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

After weeks of feeling sick, exhausted, and run down, I’m BACK – and true to Jess fashion, I woke up at 5 AM, sans alarm, and got about my day. I woke up with grandiose plans – now that I’m feeling good – of hitting the gym and fully re-immersing myself in my healthy ways without skipping a beat.

“I SHOULD get some exercise,” I kept thinking. “I SHOULD get up right now and go to the gym.”

I was so busy “should’ing” all over myself that I forgot to notice how badly I did not, actually, want to work out this morning.

So I didn’t.

I scale hopped; I saw the lowest number I’ve seen in months (the only positive side-effect of being sick and not having much of an appetite for weeks), poured a cup of coffee, took two sips, and went back to bed for an hour.

At 6 AM, I got up again, made breakfast, took a shower, watched the news, and hit the road.

It is 3 PM, and I could seriously put my head down on my desk and fall asleep. I feel great – just SUPER tired, probably the result of not enough sleep last night + two very full work days + social plans on top of it all. I’m already excited for tomorrow night, when I’ve promised myself the luxurious treat of a restorative yoga class at a tiny studio near my house.

I spend a lot of my life thinking about the things that I “should” do, be, say, think, feel, etc. I’m willing to bet that all of you do too. What would happen if we all just did what we felt like doing (to a reasonable extent)? If we followed the non-verbal and non-emotional cues our bodies gave us, and fulfilled all our cravings?

Tired? Go back to sleep.

Hungry? Throw away your calorie journal and eat something – eat something WONDERFUL.

Craving sweets? Salt? Forget the sugar free, reduced calorie ice cream. Laugh at the fat free olestra-filled potato chips. Get yourself some pie and a plate of French fries. Eat a few bites – savor them – I bet you’ll push it away, satisfied.

Want to lay on the sofa all day, doing nothing but watching TV? Go for it.

I guarantee you the world will not end.

Take a walk; take a nap… take control. I can’t speak for anybody else, but I know that my unhealthy actions usually come from a place of losing control and acting mindlessly – rather than making conscious choices and owning them. There’s a big difference between ordering a pizza out of stress and low blood sugar (and then binging on the whole thing), vs. planning to order a pizza for dinner, enjoying a couple of slices, and calling it a night. For me, those mindless moments occur when I’m tired, hungry, thirsty, or anxious.

So I shoulda gone to the gym this morning. I coulda gotten up at 5 AM and hit the road. But then I woulda been even more tired (hungry, thirsty, anxious), when the clock struck 3 PM.

Instead, I chose to listen to my body and give it another hour of sleep – probably the best decision for me at the time.

• What are your cues that you need more food/sleep/water?
• How do you identify and manage the difference between a legitimate craving and sensible CHOICE vs. a mindless indulgence?
• How do you make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard in any direction, simply because you think that you should?
Off and running,
~Jessica

## Saturday, March 26, 2011

### It's Oh So Quiet

I'm sitting here, Saturday morning, with the sun streaming into my living room. Humidifier is going. Coffee has been consumed. I made a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit and egg Benedict... and I'm realizing that finally, for the first time since 3/9, I feel healthy.

That doesn't sound like a big deal, but I guess it just sort of hit me how long I've been feeling like crap! I woke up the morning of 3/9 with a scratchy throat, and by mid-day on 3/10, I was a full-on head case, with cement-filled sinuses and a throaty voice. Friday I'd taken the day off, and I got a massage... by the end of which I was feeling back to normal, so Saturday we went to a party... and Sunday I woke up voiceless and sick, with a relapse worse than my initial symptoms. This continued on for another week or so, and then Thursday night I got smacked by a major migraine... my first one in months. So Friday was another day spent on the sofa. This is, without question, the most work I've EVER missed for being sick. Thank God I have such an amazingly understanding team at work.

All of whom also happen to be fighting off the plague.

So Friday night I stayed at home and Manfriend stayed in his -- I figured that way I could get back to 100% health, and he could sleep in today.  And so far, my morning has been quiet and peaceful.  I'm about to start some laundry and finish my tidying, but frankly, I'm scared to move around too much, lest I should scare away the health.

It is a reminder to appreciate health when you have it - in the most basic or most severe of the sense.  Feeling GOOD is something that I often take for granted, and the past 2.5 weeks have reminded me to treasure every health-filled moment.

After a quiet night today and a quiet day tomorrow, I plan on returning to my usual gym routine next week.  I have missed the gym!

Next week: Monday night family dinner.  Tuesday night girlfriend dinner.  Thursday night PRSA Awards Banquet (My big promotion from last year is nominated for an award!).  Friday night happy hour / catch-up with a good friend.

HOW DO I KEEP GETTING THIS BUSY?

I never intend to be.

Off and running,
~Jessica

## Thursday, March 24, 2011

### Walkin’ On Sunshine

(And 5 inches of thick, heavy snow)

For those not in Mpls, you might not be aware that we got a pretty big blizzard on Wednesday – I knew there was some snow coming, but I expected to wake up on Wednesday morning to 2 inches of fluffy white stuff, rather than the pounding of heavy, wet snow that didn’t let up until nearly 5 PM on Wednesday.  It was unexpected, frustrating, and depressing -- just last week I'd enjoyed open windows on a few beautiful evenings, and most of the snow was melted from my back yard.

Tuesday night I’d volunteered at a college fair for my university – which basically means that I talked nonstop for about 3 hours, “breaking” my voice again – and by the time I got home, I felt pretty lousy. My cold had relapsed – I don’t think that I ever completely got my voice back when I initially lost it, and I KNOW I’ve still been a mucus factory, but suddenly I was achey, exhausted, couldn’t talk, and my throat was raw from the combo of coughing and talking. When I woke up the next morning – still feeling like hell – and saw the Winter “Won’t-Stop-Snowing” Land, I put a fork in myself, called it "done", and stayed home from work. The news reports were pretty insane – a semi even jack-knifed on a city highway, causing a major traffic jam. I drove to a nearby Target Clinic to have the doc look at my ears, nose, and throat, and the visibility was just terrible. I was safely back in my home by about 10 AM, and didn’t leave again until I left for work this morning.

I spent the whole day on the sofa – watching TV, responding to emails, writing creative briefs – and around 7 PM I actually started nodding off. After a delightful dinner of saltines and Mrs. Grass’ Noodle soup, I put myself to bed around 9:45… and barely blinked ‘til morning.

This time of year in the Midwest is, as a friend of mine said, a lot like Lucy ripping out the football just as Charlie Brown is trying to kick – every time, without fail, the poor dude foolishly ends up flat on his back… yet every single time, he thinks “This time will be different.” Last March, we did not get a single snowfall – and I think I was sort of expecting that this year, after getting taunted and teased and outright emotionally abused by Mother Nature, we’d get off with cold and rain and wind… No such luck. Mother Nature is up to her usual Lionness antics, and next year I won’t be so naïve.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice? Shame on me!

I could kvetch about this weather until the cows come home, but now that I’ve vented out my frustrations, I think I’ll focus on something a bit more positive – I’m READY for spring. I’m excited for warm weather, sunshine, and tulips poking up through the ground. I’m ready for evening and morning walks, and the downtown farmer’s market. I’m anxiously awaiting beers, brats, and baseball games… and boat rides at the cabin.

So in the spirit of positivity and optimism, here’s my list --

The Top Ten Things I’m Excited For This Spring and Summer:

10) Bonfires

9) Dresses and Sandals!

8) Mowing my lawn (yes, I enjoy this!)
7) Being at the cabin with a now 2.5 year old Abby

6) OUTDOOR RUNNING SEASON!

5) An iced tea and a good book on my patio
4) Rooftop happy hours

3) Downtown Farmer’s Market – sets up on Thursdays on the pedestrian-only street outside my office!

2) Now that I work a measely 4+ miles from work, I am going to attempt to walk or bike here once in a while. I have to figure out the shower situation, but allegedly there are showers in the building somewhere. If that doesn’t work out, I think on a perfect day I can take the bus to work, and walk home, or vice versa. I will be trying this at least once.

1) We scored extremely hard-to-get tickets for the MN Twins home opener. It is on Friday, April 8th, and since I work downtown, I’ll be taking the afternoon off and walking over to the stadium to meet Mike. CAN'T WAIT.

When I left the house today it was only 12 degrees out -- warmer than the -20 of February, but cold compared to last week's 50 degree days.  There is 4 inches of snow and ice in my back yard, and my car door was frozen shut this morning.

But at least the sun is shining.

Off and running,
~Jessica

## Tuesday, March 22, 2011

...it's merely a flesh-wound.

Or rather, it's merely a bad cough.  Which started as bad sinuses and has moved down to my chest.  Sunday I gleefully woke up and was able to breathe through both nostrils sans meds or neti pot -- Monday was a mirror of that.  Despite insane amounts of sleep and hours watching TV and healthy food and tons of water and vitamins, I seem to be having a bit of a relapse this morning.  And all I can say is: "ugh."

Today is March 22nd -- and my stupid ticker is still showing only 2 gym sessions.  And it is accurate.  I don't even REMEMBER the last time that I went this long with so few workouts.  My body feels like mush.

There's nothing quite like being sick for 2 weeks to make a girl crave the gym and an intense, sweat-pouring, blood-pounding workout.

Similarly, the weather seems to be experiencing a b\it of a "relapse."  It's been delightful here for the past few days -- in the 40s, most of the snow is melted, and although the sun has been hiding behind a lot of clouds, it's so refreshing to be able to walk out the door with just a light jacket, rather than bundling up for an Antarctic exploration.  But I just watched the news, and they are predicting a drop in temps over the next 48 hours, accompanied by some snow overnight -- maybe about 2 inches by tomorrow morning.

Sigh.

I guess Mother Nature and my immune system are in cahoots - hopefully both will reach optimum conditions at right around the same time, so I can hit that pavement and hit it hard.

In the meantime -- food planning is going quite well.  We had a very quiet weekend and I cooked dinner all three nights, got lots of rest, and lots of fluids.  I've been naturally waking up early for the past few days, and yesterday that resulted in my having time in the morning to prep a healthy dinner for that night -- the leftovers of which went to create lunch for the next three days. I'm volunteering at an event for my alma mater tonight (a college fair that, coincidentally, takes place at my high school), and I have dinner plans with girlfriends tomorrow night, although I suppose I might be canceling if I don't stop coughing.  There's another quiet weekend on the calendar and I couldn't be happier about it.

The biggest bummer about this cold is that I haven't been able to snuggle my sweet nephew since the day he was born.

Maybe all I need is a healthy dose of Campbell -- soup and baby. :-)

Off and running coughing,
~Jessica

## Thursday, March 17, 2011

### Any”spring” Is Possible

After being buried under multiple feet of snow, and a ridiculously unusually cold winter, these first days of spring feel like the start of a whole new world – smiles are bigger, energy is higher, and everything just feels very possible after a long 6 months of impossibilities.

I’ve nearly kicked this cold – though since I relapsed once, I’m being very careful not to overdo it and risk another relapse. My voice is back – now I just sound like I have a cold, which I do. The first two hours or so of each day are filled with nose blowing and throat clearing, but by 8 AM, sans drugs, I’m feeling good. Yesterday I started crashing around 4 PM, and I’m sure today will be the same, but I definitely got my second wind last night.

I left work a bit early – it was 45 and sunny, and I drove home with my sunroof open. I stopped to get gas, and when I did, spontaneously got a car wash for my dirt-crusted car… oh yeah… my car is silver, not grey!

I got home and tackled the huge puddle in my garage (the result of very fast snow melt), with my patio squeegee, made a delightful dinner, and then, while watching Hoarders, decided it was time for some spring cleaning, and tackled my OWN hoard.

The result? Every piece of clothing I own is not only clean, but put away (except for what I am wearing right now).

My trunk is packed with 3 big garbage bags of clothes for the Goodwill.

My closet and drawers are clear and organized.

Now all I need, to continue the theme of TV inspiring positive change, is for Clinton and Stacy to swoop down and whisk me away on a makeover, shopping spree, and personal styling session!

(Are you guys listening!?)

Sadly, I discarded a lot of too-small clothing that was hiding in the back of my wardrobe – the size 10 jeans from Express that fit for one nanosecond after the marathon? Yeah, those aren’t fitting again anytime soon, and when I’m ready, I can go buy more. I saved the beautiful pieces with value that are “goal clothes,” but the rest – which was just a constant reminder of regained weight, weighing me down emotionally – will be donated. They aren’t doing any good there anyway, and the last thing I need is a pair of $25 jeans cluttering up my life, both literally and figuratively. So away they go! This inspired some decluttering in the office and kitchen as well – and the creation of a spring cleaning task list on my white board – next up? Linen closet, filing cabinet, and office closet… then? Garage and basement. So by the time the snow flies again, I should be living in a clutter free environment. ;-) This morning, I woke up at 5:30 AM, sans alarm – I had a moment of questioning whether to stay in bed for another hour and doze, or get up and cracking. I opted for the latter and it was a great decision – I got that last load of laundry done, folded, and put away. I had time to make a healthy breakfast (poached eggs and polenta again – yum!), pack my lunch, squeegee the garage again, and blow out my hair before hitting the road. I have a busy work day, followed by dinner with my grandparents, and I’m already itching to get home and simultaneously enjoy my uncluttered space… and tackle the linen closet. Spring has sprung in Minneapolis – it is supposed to hit 50 today, with some light rain, which will wash away the dirt of the past 6 months to make way for beautiful things to flourish and grow. Similarly, I feel motivated to “start anew,” with a clear mind and peaceful space, and make way for the positive changes and growth of 2011. It isn't quite April yet, but I'm glad the season is getting a head start on showers and flowers. Off and running, Jessica Anything’s Possible by Jonny Lang I remember in the days of old Doesn't seem that long ago It was, "Johnny you won't be nothing Unless you do what you're told" Study medicine or study law And please put away the guitar The best you'll ever be Is a local star at the local bar But I went and did it anyway Family helping all the way Now I'm here today, 5 records later So see you can hear me say Don't let 'em tell you can't be Anything you wanna be Don't be deceived Anything's possible If you will just believe Then you can succeed It might not be easy But anything's possible What if old Ben Franklin Would've been frightened by lightening? If he would of stayed inside then We'd still be in the dark Martin Luther King Did some beautiful things All because they had a dream Just like you and me Don't let 'em tell you can't be Anything you wanna be Don't be deceived Anything's possible Don't you know it's gonna be sweat And some tears, some hard years Best believe they'll be hurt And some pain, expect some rain You're gonna make it if you try Keep your eye on the prize, you can take it Might have to work it but it's gonna be worth it Don't let em tell you that you don't deserve it But anything's possible ## Wednesday, March 16, 2011 ### They're Baaaaaaaaaaaaack! Whew! Where have I been since my Friday Favorites post? Well, it's a shame, really -- I caught the plague. Yup. I woke up on Wednesday with a small tickle in my throat, and by Thursday it was full-on head-full-of-snot... I was really sad about this, mostly because I'd taken Friday off as a much-needed "recover from work insanity" day, and getting a massage with sinus pressure didn't sound like a great time. Sad horns. BUT -- on Friday I was feeling much better, and after a spicy sinus-clearing lunch with girlfriends + a dose of Dayquil, I headed to my massage. Afterward, I felt like a million bucks, and donned my little black dress and heels to head out for a gala celebration for one of Manfriend's clients. I laid low - only sipped one small glass of wine and stuck to a small plate of hors d'oeuvres, and as soon as the silent auction closed, we were outta there -- we were both pretty tired, plus the beautiful weather from Friday had a bi-polar episode, and suddenly it was snowing and blowing like crazy. Weird. Saturday I continued to feel much better, and after a day of laundry and erranding, we headed to a dinner party... we didn't stay out that late, but at a very specific point in the evening, I remember saying something, and my voice squeaked a little bit, and I thought... "here we go... I'm losing my voice." Sure enough, when I woke up Sunday morning, I was mute. Manfriend loves this -- says it is so nice when I'm quiet. (Jerk). I felt so awful the first half of Sunday that I couldn't eat -- Manfriend took me to the grocery store, insisting that I had to eat something, and after circling the entire store, all I could come up with was beverages and vanilla ice cream. The rest of my day consisted of saltines and gatorade and sprite, and then by dinner I was feeling quite good and we ordered burritos. Weird, I know. I stayed home on Monday, mostly to avoid talking, but also because I still was feeling less than fabulous. Tuesday I went in -- it was our National Sales Meeting, so I stayed pretty quiet all day. It is now Wednesday, and after spending Sunday and Monday on the sofa, and Tuesday speaking as little as possible, my very-froggy-voice is starting to sound a bit more normal. At the same time, my sinuses have been a disaster, and my body seems to be having an argument about whether this affliction should remain in my head, or morph into a chest cold. So for the time being... it seems to be settled firmly in my throat. Not a sore throat, mind you, just lots of froggy, cloggy throat-clearing and a weird feeling in the back of my head that I can't seem to kick. Dayquil and Nyquil relieve the symptoms, but kinda make me feel like a junky, with weird jerky movements and crazy dreams, so today I'm attempting to go au naturel -- we'll see how that goes. Happily, it is "casual week" at work, so at least I get to throw on my comfy jeans and a sweater and hit the road. Needless to say, I haven't worked out since last week. My ticker remains pathetic, and those three pounds that I slashed last week seem to have come home to roost. For the remainder of the week, the goals will be simply to get a lot of rest, a lot of liquids, and keep mindful of my calories. Today: B: smoothie S: pear, string cheese L: vegetables w/ dip, Lean Cuisine pizza S: granola bar D: lettuce wraps, spring rolls On the upside -- 45 degrees and sunny felt like a heat wave yesterday. There's so much snow this year that it feels like it wont be gone until May, but I tested fate yesterday and opened a window for a few hours... it felt amazing to get some fresh breeze into the house, and now I really can't wait for spring. Many friends yesterday posted about going out for their first outdoor runs of the season, and I only have one word: JEALOUS! If I could breathe, I would have been out there too! Off and running (soon!), ~Jessica ## Friday, March 11, 2011 ### Friday Favorites! Over the past week or so, I've been compiling thoughts and snapping photos of some of my new favorite things in the healthy living world. I am pleased to present you with Friday Favorites! 1) First up -- Justin's Nut Butters, pictured here, the 90 cal squeeze pack of Maple Almond Butter. DELICIOUS! 2 WW points if you are counting. Nice combo of sweet with a touch of salty -- and oh-so-much-easier than trying to measure out 2 TBSP of nut butter, put it in a small container, etc. 2) So, you know those Girl Scout Cookies that used be called Samoas but then somebody decided that was totally politically incorrect and they were renamed something stupid like "Carmel De-Lites"? Yeah. THOSE ones. There's nothing "lite" about them, so I'm not sure why they chose to make that abbreviation. Anyway -- there are 4 WW points in two of those measely cookies, which I know for absolute certain, because as I was driving from my house to Manfriends a couple of months ago, I saw a girl and her dad at the corner of an intersection, waving a sign for Girl Scout Cookies, an before I knew it, I'd swerved into that parking lot and bought three boxes. (This wasn't a good idea, FYI) WELL -- these bars taste EXACTLY like those cookies. And they are only 3 pts per bar, and pack 9 grams of fiber. So I'm a big fan of Kellogg's Fiber Plus bars in Coconut Carmel Fudge. 3) Next up -- Brownberry Healthfull Bread. I'm a big fan of the 10-grain variety. It only has 80 calories per slice, which is higher than the low fat breads, lower than the high fat breads, and it doesn't taste like cardboard. Score! Four grams of fiber per slice so, uh, if you eat a sandwich with one of those Fiber bars... do your co-workers a favor, and pop a GasX. 2 WW points per slice. Salads are great, but sometimes a girl needs a sandwich. 4) And what goes best with a sandwich? CHIPS! We're lucky in the weight loss word that tasty low fat potato chips exist -- I actually LIKE baked Lays and Ruffles, I might even PREFER them over oily greasy "real" potato chips. But there isn't a ton of flavor variety, which is why I was super stoked to stumble upon the Archer Farms (Target) version... which come in fun flavors like sea salt and vinegar, and balsamic vinegar and herbs. 3 WW pts per oz. Delicious. Look into it. And I'm not too proud to admit that yes, at 33 years old, I often put potato chips IN my sandwich. Deal. 5) You know how I go through that egg aversion from time to time? Right now I seem to be in the midst of a hummus aversion. Which is weird, because hummus has been practically a daily part of my food plan for as long as I can remember (well, okay, since about age 25). Anyway, during Monday night's shop, I decided to try something different -- I stumbled upon Otria Greek Yogurt veggie dip... cucumber dill feta. SWOON. 2 TBSP is 2 WW points, and it is so delicious that I am gobbling up all sorts of raw vegetables. This is one of those things, however, that I can only portion out and eat, for fear that I will lick the container clean. Good stuff. It is made by T. Marzetti's, and I found it in the produce section near the fancy dressings and bagged salads. 6) This one is TOTALLY fun. I don't know about you guys, but sometimes vitamins upset my tummy if I don't take them with a meal. Somebody suggested that I buy the adult-style gummy vitamins, so I picked up these Vitafusion gummies. Fun. They taste just like gummy candy. I actually enjoy taking them, and no bad side effects. And I've saved the best for last... this is the item I was waiting to get in the mail so that I could end my "favorite things" post on a super fun note. 7) A week or so ago, I posted with pride about avoiding the wine at my parents house... on Twitter I made a comment about how measuring wine was a pain in the butt, which led to somebody asking if wine glasses wtih measurements existed... I was SAD to discover that they did, because -- hey, awesome business idea -- but thrilled because it is such an awesome idea. So I'm excited to tell you all about Wine Trax, a company that sells not only wine glasses with very subtle measurement lines, but snack bowls as well: I had trouble getting a good shot of these, so definitely click on the website so you can see how cute they are. The lines on the glasses represent 4, 6, or 8 oz pours, and the bowls frosted lines represent 1/3, 2/3, and 1 whole cup. SO CUTE. So subtle. Of course, the trick is to make sure you keep track of how many servings you've had. :-) Hopefully you've enjoyed my curated collection of healthy, fun foods and gadgets -- and FYI, I purchased all these products myself, for no other reason than I wanted to, and wasn't paid or compensated in any other way for this post. Hope you all have a great weekend -- Manfriend and I have a fun one planned, and I took today off of work. Unfortunately I'm battling a wee bit of a head cold, so it won't be quite as fun as I had hoped... but fun nonetheless! Enjoy! Off and running, ~Jessica ## Thursday, March 10, 2011 ### The Grocery Game SO, let's talk about coupons. I've never been a coupon clipper. I can't be bothered. I like what I like, and when I find something I like, I tend to stick with it. But I have a few friends who have recently gotten REALLY into couponing -- layering coupons, store rewards, manufacturers coupons, etc -- and I keep hearing them talk about they "barely pay for anything anymore." And then one day, the Manfriend and I found ourselves watching a RIDICULOUS show on TLC about families who virtually pay for NOTHING because of all the coupons they clip and rewards they receive. Their garages look like Walgreens -- they literally have years worth of products and non-perishable items in there. (Its basically Hoarders, but without the dead cats, lifetime of receipts, and missing teeth). But a few of these families talked about how they donate a great deal of their loot. And I found that inspiring. While I have no inclination or interest in being a career couponer, I was intrigued. So I invested about 20 minutes of my time last week in clipping coupons from various mailers and inserts that were sitting in my stack of unread mail. I did a little online coupon browsing, but found that to be too time consuming and inefficient -- I really just wanted to do a one-stop shop (Cub Foods) and see what I could save. I set out thinking that I only wanted to do this for things like paper towels, cleaning supplies, toiletries... stuff that doesn't go bad and I can store in the basement (speaking of Hoarders...). But when I walked into Cub Foods to find even more coupons (Sunday newspaper insert), I changed my tune. I walked out with$45 in free groceries.

(I'm not exaggerating).

Their current promotion was a stock up sale -- tons of BOGO coupons -- so I basically left with a free frozen pizza, 2 free boxes of pasta, 2 free packets of chicken breasts, a free pork tenderloin, a free bag of spinach, and a few other items.  It's about all my small kitchen can maintain, and now I'm REALLY wishing I had a small freezer in the basement.  Given the amount of chicken breasts I go through on a monthly basis, this might be a good investment for offers like these.

The point obviously is to save money -- not to spend money you wouldn't ordinarily be spending -- so I was cautious to not get swept away by the word "free."  After all, I'm in marketing, so I know the power of that word all too well!  The only thing I bought that I wouldn't ordinarily have bought was the frozen pizza and the pasta -- and half the pasta will go to Manfriend's house.

This was probably the first time I've ever used a coupon in my life, and needless to say, uh, it went well - so now I want to know about all of you:

1) Do you clip coupons?
2) How much money do you think you save?
3) Do you tend to only use coupons for things you'd normally buy?
4) Do you have tips / tricks / secrets to share?

Intrigued.

Off and running,
~Jessica

## Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I feel as though I've blogged about this before, but in case I haven't -- there are always a few meals that stand out in every chef (or wanna-be chef's) mind, and I am no exception.  I was a teenager -- too young to drink alcohol, but I don't remember the date or occasion -- and I was at a restaurant in Edina with my dad.  The restaurant, Tejas, recently closed.  I was too young to be much of an adventurous eater, so I chose the "safest" seeming thing -- some assortment of soft tacos.  One was a pork taco, and it came with a relish of little perfectly chopped bits of tart granny smith apple.

I was smitten.

It wasn't until years later that I thought to put my own spin on it, but this is the second time I've made Apple Pork Quesadillas... and this time they turned out way better than the last.

Ingredients:
Flour tortillas
Thin sliced boneless pork chops
Shallot
Granny Smith Apple
Goat cheese
Tarragon
Not pictured:
Brown sugar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

First up I chunked the apple and put it in my mini-food processor... diced the shallot, and threw the pork on the George Foreman (an easy foolproof way to get these done quickly, easily, and with minimal cleanup).

Heated up a little EVOO in the saute pan and added the shallots, cooking over medium heat until they were nearing translucent...

...at which point I added about a TBSP of brown sugar.  Hellloooooooooo caramelized shallots!  YUM!

I diced up the pork chops -- half for tonight, half for lettuce wraps later in the week!

...and chopped the Tarragon.

Next I laid out the tortillas and spread with a thin coating of goat cheese before adding the toppings -- note that I made two of these quesadillas, but only had one for dinner -- the other is going to be lunch on Friday!

I wanted some vegetables to fill out the meal, so I tossed some broccoli slaw with EVOO and sauteed for a few minutes, then topped with balsamic vinaigrette and put in the fridge to chill while I finished the quesadillas.

Again - heated up a little oil in the pan, and put the assembled quesadilla over medium high heat for a few minutes -- flipped it half way through with the aid of a dinner plate -- and cooked the other side for a few more minutes.

When it was done, it looked like this (Can you say "Drool?"):

It was completely delicious -- the tortilla was lightly crisp; the goat cheese was perfectly sour against the tartness of the apple and the sweetness of the shallot... and the pork stood up to it all very well. The salad was a great filler -- extra nutrients and food with minimal calories.  I threw some grape tomatoes in there for color!

It was the perfect post-workout meal and I can't wait to make it again!

Off and running,
~Jessica

## Tuesday, March 8, 2011

### Fat Tuesday

I celebrated Fat Tuesday -- not with margaritas or beads or crawfish -- but by getting my fat butt to the gym*.

AFTER work.

This is a huge accomplishment for me -- at 5 PM, the last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym.  I wanted to go home!  But not only had a made a promise to myself, I made it publicly in a few different ways -- made deals with friends that we'd each hit the gym in our respective cities, and check back in to compare notes.

I've got too much pride to fail, and too much integrity to lie... so off to the gym I went.

Traffic?  Not a problem -- I breezed down 35W.

Parking?  Not a problem -- found good parking right away, even though the lot and gym were packed.

And then things fell apart a bit -- ridiculously crowded in the locker room.  Moms in there with little boys who were WAY too old to be in there (parents, PLEASE -- there are parent/child locker rooms for this reason.  If I'm not okay taking my shirt off in front of your son, he's probably too old.  Just sayin').  I locked myself out of my locker and had to get an employee to help me.  And then my shoelace broke.  And can you say "meat market?"  I mean, I guess it is a nice affirmation that the opposite sex finds me attractive, but... oy.  Go away.

But finally -- FINALLY -- I was firmly planted on a treadmill.
And then an elliptical machine.
And then the freeweights floor.
And then the BOSU ball.
And then the mat, stretching it out.

And then my car, and now -- happily -- my sofa.

Today's deal:
B: smoothie
S: apple, string cheese
L: turkey & havarti on wheat; vegetables w/ hummus; baked chips; dove square
S: chobani pineapple
D: pork, apple, and goat cheese quesadillas (recipe tomorrow!); broccoli slaw salad; dove square

Exercise: burned about 500 calories in 80 minutes
Water: 120 oz

I did not put a single unplanned thing in my mouth today.  I even emailed a co-worker that I had a lunch date with to see if it was okay if we stayed in the cafe -- because I'd already packed and journaled my lunch.

That's a pretty major victory,  if I do say so myself.
And I do.

The scale was not my pal this morning, so here's to hoping for a better tomorrow...

Off and running,
~Jessica

*I know, I know -- no negative self-talk, but the word-nerd in me couldn't resist the correlation between Fat Tuesday and Fat Butt. :-)

## Monday, March 7, 2011

### Mmm Mmm Good

It's cold.
Blustery.
We're expecting another snow storm.
Perfect night to snuggle up with a hot bowl of soup... preferably Campbell 's.

It's cold.
Blustery.
We're expecting another snow storm.
Perfect weather to snuggle up with a warm armful of BABY!

Campbell's?

Meet Campbell.

Campbell John** Seaberg was born around 5 AM on Saturday.  7 lbs 1 oz and 19 inches long.  Mom and baby are both beautifully healthy and recovering well.  Two months of bedrest for my sweet sister in law ended last week -- and Cam made his appearance shortly thereafter.  The Seaberg clan is never late -- usually early -- and since my dad was leaving last night for 2 weeks in Europe, we're thrilled Cam made a prompt and timely entrance to see my dad upon his way.

Meredith, Campbell, and Marc.

JOHN, Campbell John, and Barb

Thanks for all the love and prayers.  We're all very thrilled that he's here.

"Hey, Cam and Abby!"
(I think it has a nice ring to it)

Off and running,
~Jessica

**Campbell is Meredith's mothers maiden name, and John is my dad and maternal grandfather's name.

### Just Poachy

I've commented before that I go through these strange egg aversions from time to time -- I've been "off eggs" for the past month, but then the other day woke up feeling like eggs (poached, nonetheless) sounded like a fantastic idea. Never having poached an egg before (or really even ever eaten a poached egg, when it wasn't totally drowning in hollandaise sauce), this was an odd occurance, but I went with it.
Because I had JUST THE THING to go with.
POLENTA!
I cut four disks off of a tube of polenta and pan-fried in a little bit of EVOO, flipping part way through

While I pan-fried away, the water started to boil...
﻿

(You can see how the polenta gets a little crisp and toasty on the outside)

I dug into some leftovers -- last week I'd made crock pot taco chicken (chicken w/ rotel), and mixed up all the leftovers: corn, black beans, chicken, tomato, onions, and cilantro-lime ric)

When the polenta was done, I plated it and sprinkled with a little bit of cheese...

And while the water boiled, I heated up a ladle-ful of the leftover taco fixings.

Using a simple soup ladle, I dropped the egg in to poach (why do people think this is so hard?!)

Then strained the poached perfection with a slotted spoon...

...before topping the polenta with the taco mixture, and then plating Mr. Poachy alongside my creation.

Mmmmmmm. Breakfast is served!

Ingredients:2 oz of polenta
1/4 cup of shredded cheese
1 egg
1 TSP EVOO
Salt and pepper to taste
"Leftovers"

﻿Directions:Heat up 1 tsp of EVOO in a small fry pan
Cut off four discs of polenta and "fry" over medium-high heat
Bring small pot of water to a boil
Remove polenta from pan and place on plate, topping with a sprinkle of cheese
Drop egg into boiling water
Heat up "leftovers"
Top polenta mixture with leftovers; remove egg from boiling water with a slotted spoon; top with egg.
Enjoy!

Nutrition:When I entered all this into the WW online points tracker, it spit back about 10 points - which seems high for a breakfast, but since I've preplanned my day, it actually works.  Note that it is a bit of an estimate, because I don't know the exact points values of the rice/chicken/corn mixture that I put on top.

When I put it into Sparkpeople, using the same caveats, I get the following, which -- awesomely - calculates to 10 points when I put it into the points tracker... my little OCD-riddled brain just loves it when numbers work out the way they are supposed to!Calories: 407
Carbs: 33
Fiber: 2
Fat: 19
Protein: 23
Just post-calculated my points since Friday and it seems I did pretty well -- I still have over half of my weekly points left, and since I'm staring down the nose of a Thursday-Friday-Saturday string of plans involving food and drink (happy hour, gala, girlfriend dinner), I'll need 'em!

Tomorrow -- to the gym!

Off and running,
~Jessica

## Friday, March 4, 2011

### A Hazy Shade of Winter

Since my grocery shopping extravaganza on Saturday, I have consumed the following:

3 bell peppers, 1 large cucumber, half a bag of baby carrots, 1 package of celery hearts, half a package of mushrooms, a box of mixed greens, half a bag of green beans, a container of grape tomatoes, a large serving of mixed beans / peas, a bag of cauliflower, a bag of red grapes, 4 cups of frozen mixed berries, 4 bananas, and 4 apples.

I feel a little bit like this:

I got my hair colored last night, so in reality, I look like this:

My hair is blonder than I've been in a long time, and it feels great -- around this time of year, I always get the craving to be blond again - I figure that if I change my hair color I can WILL the weather to change.

Totally realistic, right?

Anyway, winter has been a big fat drag this year - particularly this past week, where our brief glimpse of spring vanished and left us with freezing temps again, and more predicted snow... yesterday on my way out the door (feeling totally put together, polished, rested, healthy), I slipped on a patch of ice on my back walkway and went down like a ton of bricks, scraping up my right palm, and bruising my left knee.  I totally started crying, not out of pain, but out of the sheer frustration of this endless winter.  I really wish I could just go sit in a tanning booth for a few minutes, alas I've given up tanning due to the whole skin cancer debacle, so toxic hair dye it is.

Spring, where ARE you!?

Well, now that I'm blond again, I'm confident that spring is right around the corner.  That stupid groundhog's got nothin' on me.

(You can thank me later).

Anyway, it was really fun -- a friend of a friend of mine is a colorist, so they both came over to my house and she colored my hair while we had wine and cheese and Sex and the City reruns.  I broke my "dry" streak, but kept it to just a few glasses, and today I feel great!

Okay, but back to the vegetables.

I've been packing 'em in this week and I feel great - I've also changed my vitamin regiment, opting for some gummy multi-vitamins (vitamins often upset my stomach), in addition to my copious amounts of Vitamin D and B... and a new addition: Fish Oil!

I don't eat a lot of fish.  Try as I might, I just don't really care for it most of the time (unless it is in the raw sushi variety -- weird, I know).  So this was recommended to me to make sure that I'm getting enough Omegas.  The package is marked "No fish odor," and the idea of fish burps grosses me out so much that I can't really even think about it, so I'm glad they invented this option.

Anyway - this past week has been pretty stellar in terms of food, water, and sleep, and I'm feeling awesome.  I think, however, that the massive influx of vitamins and minerals probably have helped -- I'm not craving anything.  I'm sleeping like a champ.  I haven't had heartburn in a week.  And I feel like "eating clean" has had something to do with it -- pretty much the only processed food I've eaten is a few slices of whole wheat bread (HFCS free, of course), two 1-oz bags of baked lays, a little bit of jasmine rice with my dinner last night, and a few crackers.  Everything else has been au naturel.

I've prepared every single meal since Saturday - breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  I haven't even entered the company cafe, other than to pick up some coffee!

Today that will change -- I'll eat breakfast at home, but we have a department off-site that includes lunch (Pizza, I believe).  Plans for tonight are up in the air -- we were going to leave right after work and head out of town, but now we're not leaving until tomorrow.  This is good because we don't have to rush rush to get out of town, but also means I don't have a plan for tonight.  Tomorrow we'll eat a buffet dinner at the casino after a winery tour / tasting, and Sunday we'll head home after brunch. Should be a fun little weekend getaway, just what the doctor ordered to break up this bleary winter -- granted, I'd rather we were whisking off to sunnier climate, at least it is a change of scenery.

1) How do you deal with endless winter?
3) How often do you change your hair color, if ever?

On that note, it's time to pour the coffee and hit the road -- but I leave you with these two fantastic exhibits of musical genius, in homage to the weather, and my goldy locks!

Off and running,
~Jessica

## Thursday, March 3, 2011

### Anchoring

Back when I joined WW (oh so many years ago), they had a program component called "Tools for Living."  I'm not even sure if they use those same tools or not, but it was basically a week-by-week arsenal of mental tips to get you through the struggles of weight loss and food choices.  Of all of those tools, the one that always resonated with me was the idea of "anchoring."
The theory behind anchoring is that you establish a mental link between your goals an an object -- basically the same notion as tying a ribbon around your finger so you don't forget something important.  When I hit my 60 lbs lost mark, I bought a cute ring -- it basically looks like a pretzel, and I used it to always stay mindful of my goals.  Later, post-marathon, I adopted the "I AM A RUNNER" rubber bracelet -- since I was working at home and usually wearing lounge-wear, it was easy to throw it on with anything I was wearing and not have it look out of place.

Yesterday, I tore my bedroom apart looking for my "lucky charm."  I was all set to wear it, even though the bright blue rubber would have looked VERY out of place with my dress and heels... but I couldn't find it anywhere.  So part way through the day, I wandered over to Target and picked up a silly little bracelet -- just a piece of costume jewelry from one of the more inexpensive racks.  I decided that this new bracelet bauble would be my anchor for the day, and that each time I glanced at it, I'd remember my goal of "no wine Monday-Thursday" unless it was a really meaningful occasion.  Pictured below is my new bauble, and the 60 lb "pretzel" ring, and Oh! Don't my nails look pretty??

I've had an all-star week in terms of food, drink, and exercise -- I was headed to my parents house for dinner last night, where normally I'd indulge in a few glasses of wine.  Even the tiniest servings of red wine has been hitting me very hard lately (sinus problems + headaches + a general "slowness" the next day + heartburn + digestive issues), so I decided that the best thing to do would be to just not even START -- I was going to have a dry dinner.

Gasp!

I was nervous about my ability to execute this plan.  I mean, I knew of course I COULD, but I thought that after a busy work day + rush hour traffic, I might cave to the impulse to use wine to self-medicate and unwind.  I quietly sipped water throughout "cocktail hour," and then --impulsively thought "aw, to hell with it" and poured a rather large glass of wine to have with dinner.

I took two sips (it helped that I didn't particularly care for the wine), looked down at my wrist, and thought "Jess, don't do this."

I didn't touch another sip for the rest of the night.

Today I'm pretty thrilled with that - slept like a champ, tired from my early morning and yesterday's workout, but still got up at 5:15 to putz around the house and have some time to myself.  I don't have heartburn, a headache, or an upset tummy.  I don't have to count all the points -- in fact, instead I had a small scoop of ice cream with hot fudge sauce.

To give you an idea about why wine makes weight loss hard -- not only do the calories add up fast (under the new PointsPlus plan, there are 21 points in a bottle of wine, as opposed to the old plan, where there were 10 points per bottle*), but you suffer all the aforementioned side effects.  I don't know about you, but for me, heart burn and an upset tummy don't scream "Let's eat a salad and hop in the elliptical!" I feel sluggish, and I'm prone to junk food and carbs.  Above and beyond all that, to borrow a phrase from a friend of mine who I consider a weight loss expert, alcohol makes it "prohibitively hard" to lose weight.  There's something very science'y about it, that I'm not going to attempt to explain here, but basically booze + weight loss do not have a happy marriage.  Something to do with the metabolization of alcohol in the stomach, order of calorie burn, etc.

I'm off to work in a few minutes -- breakfast eaten, coffee consumed, lunch packed, and dinner in the crockpot.  I'm getting my hair done tonight -- a friend of a friend is a stylist and is coming over to do it at my house, which is awesome -- so it's a mini-girls night over here tonight, which means I probably WILL have a glass or two of (white) wine... but I've planned for it, journaled it, counted the points, and will pre-emptively pound water all day to compensate.

B: egg, polenta, goat cheese
S: apple, string cheese
L: turkey sandwich, baked lays, vegetables w/ hummus, dove square
S: chobani, grapes
D: crock pot salsa chicken tacos

Off and running,
~Jessica

*and NO, I'm not going out drinking entire bottles of wine, but I think it is easier to understand the values per serving in terms of bottle because usually you can get 4 glasses of wine out of a bottle, and frankly, I'm not going to whip out a measuring cup at a dinner party in order to calculate!

## Wednesday, March 2, 2011

This is my usual M.O -- and how I feel today --

But this was me for the past couple of weeks leading up to the launch of TargetStyle:

I found this graphic so hilarious (and so totally NOT me), that I bought a journal on Etsy with that on the cover.  It is very pocket-sized, so perfect for days when I'm running quickly to meetings and need a little place to keep notes.  The best part?  When people look at it long enough to see what it says, and crack up.

Anyway - I'm happy to return to my usual "calm and carried on" persona.  I just had a meeting in the lobby / sitting area of my office, and colleague with whom I've had daily meetings with for the past 10 days walked by and said "Look at you!  You look fabulous today!"  I guess my insides and outsides must BOTH be mirroring the sense of calm and happiness that follows the storm of ponytails and late hours and not enough water or vegetables.  I woke up at 5:15 today and hit the gym.  Due to an 8 AM meeting (I HATE 8 AM meetings), my usual routine was a bit off and I didn't get as good of a workout as usual, but still managed to torch about 300 calories between the Dreadmill and soem quick strength training.

I'm not going to lie -- today was hard.  It was REALLY cold out.  I had trouble falling asleep last night, and all I wanted to do was burrow in and zombie-out.  Alas, I'd set my blackberry alarm in the other room, so I had to get up to turn it off, and while I was up, the coffee pot clicked on, and then -- BOTHER -- I was awake.

B: smoothie
S: apple, string cheese
L: turkey sandwich, baked lays, vegetables w/ hummus, dove square
S: chobani pineapple
D: steak, twiced baked potato, beans and ceasar salad -- dinner at my parents!

Down another .5 on my morning scale-hop (note the new ticker).

1 workout down; 11 to go.

Off and running,
~Jessica