Archive for September, 2012

You Still “Feel It” — But “Why” Changes

If you’ve been living a sedentary life and you start exercising, especially with vigor, you’re going to feel it. You’re going to be tired when you’re done, you might be sore that day or the next day. You might wonder how people do this all the time. You might tell yourself that you can’t see yourself doing this all the time.

For whatever reason, you push through. You are exercising four, five, six days a week. (Please keep a rest day in there!) You start to have more energy in your daily life. You might not look forward to gettin’ your sweat on, but you’re not dreading it. Maybe you’ve lost a few pounds or your clothes are fitting differently. You are fueling yourself differently.

Something happens and you miss a couple of days of exercise. You notice that you feel sluggish. Your eating is going downhill.

You’re looking forward to exercise again!

Our bodies aren’t made to sit around. Exercise is good for countless reasons (general health, cardio-vascular function, cognitive function, emotional health and stability, joint health, bone density). When you’re in the habit of moving moving moving, your body is happy. When you stop, you feel it.

Have you reached the tipping point yet?

Home stretch (of P90X)

So I have about 10 days left of P90X.

10 days.

And guess what?

My back is out.

I pulled something on Sunday morning, writhed in pain all day, went to work on Monday and hobbled around the office. I did attempted P90X Monday morning. I did the stretching video once it became evident that I would probably do some serious damage if I continued with the plyo video.

Spent some time at Urgent Care Monday night. The doc poked and prodded down my back. When she hit the sweet spot, I yelped. Totally involuntary. Then she poked and prodded a random line of connected muscles, all the way down to my knee. Yup. It was freaking painful.

My right paraspinal nerve in inflamed, pulled, and painful as any back pain I’ve ever felt. She gave me two steroid shots in each butt cheek, Soma, and Vicodin. And a warning to “take it easy, no strain for at least three days”.

Does she not know me at all?!?!

I’m on the injured list, but I figure, my upper body feels just fine. I’m all arms and light yoga and stretching for the next few days. I can’t stop now, I’m almost done with this wretched Tony Horton and his evil X-treme ways. (haha)

I need your happy thoughts because as hard as I’m trying, I am feeling pretty discouraged.

I’ve been reading some other blogs of people who are traveling this same road. It’s inspiring but it makes me jealous and doubtful of myself all at the same time. It doesn’t help that my weight has gone up. Not for lack of trying. But it makes me question, what the hell am i doing wrong? Im eating more veggies, daily exercise, less calories, less processed. It’s really, really bothering me and it makes it super hard to stay motivated. It also makes all this work super suck.

I’m trying to keep my (stolen) motto in my head, keeping my quote taped to my mirror, and my goal in sight. I’ve come this far and I can’t turn back now, but it would be so damn easy to just throw in the towel, get some McNuggets, and blame my back.

I can not, and I will not.

Change is possible, and happiness is a choice, no matter how hard it may seem sometimes, right?

The Winner In All New Fad Diets Is….

A friend tipped me off to this article last night. It is well-written enough that instead of trying to paraphrase it or do my own write-up, I’m just going to link you to it.

It is about the cycles of food mania in this country (low-fat, low-carb, organic, local, etc.) and how they have good and healthy intentions but we follow them mindlessly into the pockets of the rich-and-getting-richer processed food industry instead of to better health.

Read it here. Come back and let me know what you think.

I Don’t Have Enough…

Disclaimer: yes, there are exceptions to today’s post. Instead of making that disclaimer over and over through the post, I’ll just say it here. But for most decisions that most of us make on most days, it’s all true.

“I don’t have time.”

“I can’t afford it.”

“I just don’t have the energy.”

Ever heard any of these? Ever uttered them yourself? Or perhaps their statement-partners: I wish I had more time/money/energy.

The truth is that we have enough for many things, just not enough for everything. And for the most part, we’re really bad at doling it out according to our priorities.

I was conversing with someone not long ago who complained that they really just didn’t have enough time to exercise. But they could tell me everything I wanted to know and then some about ten different TV shows. Impossible to have “no time” to exercise and be watching that much TV! Heck, go to the gym and walk on a treadmill while you watch it! “I can’t afford the gym.” Cut the cable and go to the gym for all of your shows — exercise taken care of, more money in hand, less butt-to-couch magnetism.

I digress.

We all have only 24 hours:

How is it that some people seem to do everything and some people can’t find time to do anything? Part of it is that people (in general) are not what they seem. There are people who think I do a whole lot more than I actually do.

But really, some people use their time better than others. Some people say they have priorities but don’t live by them. Others live by them (to a greater or lesser extent). What’s the most important thing in your life? How much time (and energy) to you give to it? Why?

Do you really want to spend four hours a day on the computer? Or watching TV? Letting the TV drain your brain for whatever time you’ve decided, because that’s what you do to relax, is all good. If you know you’re not going to get up after you sit down, make it happen at the end of the day (not the end of the work day). Or change your habit of flopping down and not getting up. I know one person who put the TV on a timer, so that at a certain time, it turned itself off. Not a bad idea.

In personal finance:

I read in a personal finance blog somewhere along the way a sentiment along these lines: You can have everything you want, you just can’t have it all at once. There are stories of married couples in their late 20s who have houses that are paid off. They worked two jobs, lived like they were still in college, threw everything extra at the mortgage and got it done. After that, they had more free time and more disposable income. But they couldn’t have disposable income and free time and a house and no mortgage from Day 1.

I have seen many people with all sorts of financial troubles buy all sorts of unnecessary things. I have certainly not always applied my financial wisdom to all situations, but I’m much better about it now than I used to be. And I’m aware of this tidbit that I picked up in a blog somewhere as well: you only get to spend each dollar once. Spend it on whatever you’d like, but it only passes through your wallet once.

I’m so tired…

If you’re really tired all the time, you either have a newborn ;), some sort of health condition or you’re not taking care of yourself (which I guess could be considered a health condition, but that’s not what I meant).

Newborn: sleep when they sleep. It’s true. You can get help with everything else. No one else can sleep for you.

Health condition: go to the doctor and see what can be done.

Everything else: if you eat a generally healthy diet, drink enough water (and little enough of most everything else), exercise regularly, get enough sleep, the energy will follow.

Once you get into the habit of exercising, a good workout will help you feel better on its own. Really. It’s one of those things that people don’t believe until they do it. In the last few weeks, I’ve heard it from three people who have recently learned this lesson themselves, and it excites me every time. Welcome to the side of the believers 😉

Sugar, refined carbs, and caffeine are energy-drains. You’ll feel better for a short while, but then you’ll feel worse than when you started. You’re better off without them.

As with the other pieces, it comes down to what’s important. Would you rather have a muffin for breakfast, bread with your lunch, cookies in the afternoon, a piece of candy as you walk by the dish, ice cream after dinner, or would you rather feel good and have more energy?

Want to do better but don’t know how? Here are two things that go hand-in-hand that might help you find your path.

1- Write everything down. Write down everything you spend money on. Everything. Including interest, penalties, fees, etc. Everything looks a little bit different when you see it on paper. (I’ve seen a suggestion to take your monthly expenses and color in one month of a calendar, indicating how many days’ pay go towards each expense. This is eye-opening. How many days’ work does it take for you to pay interest? Or for your lunches out? Or for your non-essential utilities? Not saying you shouldn’t have these things. Just make the decision that that is how you want to spend your money.)

For time, do a time audit. For a few days, every 15 minutes, write down how you spent the last 15 minutes. Just a few notes — you don’t want the entire notebook to say, “10 minutes, writing how I spent the last 15 minutes.” At the end of a day or two or three, look closely at how you’re spending your time — then change the parts you don’t like. Include in this what you’re ingesting and when you’re sitting, standing, moving, etc. and you’ve got all of your bases covered.

2- List and live by your priorities. I would love a smart phone. But there are many, many other things I’d rather spend money on than a smart phone bill every month. So I don’t have one. (Or a data plan.) It’s not a priority. Maybe it is for you. It doesn’t matter to me what your priorities are — just make them and stick by them … or they’re not really priorities.

That goes together with energy. Spend your energy on things that are important to you. I know I have gotten caught up spending a lot of energy being mad about something or someone at work. People and situations I don’t like are definitely NOT a priority, so why spend all that energy on them? For me, a good workout will calm most of that noise. I’m sure if I worked at it, I could become good at meditating which would be more practical when I’m still at work. A few deep breaths takes the edge off, as does the reminder that I don’t need to be angry.

You can’t do it all.

I have always been a person who has been spread thin. It took me until just a couple of years ago to say, “I’m not going to live my life under constant deadlines and high stress.” I learned to say no. The problem is/was that I am interested in a lot of things. Opportunities come up. I want to take them! (It’s not even often people asking me — it’s just stuff that’s out there that I want to do.) I learned to say no. My life became better.

And then I had a kid.

As it turns out, kids take a lot of time and energy. It is easy to let them become all-consuming. So my already-pared-down life has become more pared down. Some things I’m not cutting completely — just doing when I can make time without feeling stressed, and not feeling bad about not doing it more. Other things are gone. Other things are business as usual. (That last category is incredibly small and shrinking.)

So I don’t “do it all” — I can’t. But I still do a lot, and I do my best to be sure that the things I spend time on are things I really want to do (go to spin class) or really need to do (laundry, keep the kitchen tidy). The more you streamline to make your calendar and your priorities match, the happier your life becomes. I feel much better when I get up in the morning if the daytime part of the house is tidy. So at night before bed, either The Big Man or I (or both) will wash the dishes, wipe down the counter, and pick up The Kid’s toys. This little habit brings a little bit of peace to my mornings, it takes only 10-15 minutes at most, and is important to me. Might not be important to you.

Going back to where we started … Instead of saying “I don’t have money” or “I don’t have time,” say, “That’s not a priority right now.” It feels a little … weird. You’ll know right away if it’s true. You can feel it. If you want it to be a priority, do your best to make it so. If not, let it go — it’s just taking up space.

Beyond A Year

it’s Wednesday and thankfully, Nichol looked at her calendar.

My year is slowly (very slowly) coming to an end. I’ve really been thinking about what life is going to look like when I’m no longer beholden to this crazy idea of mine.

I have decided that I would like to do another round of P90X. I’ll probably do it on my own schedule. I will still be interning so won’t really be into the whole 7 days a week bit.

Daily exercise has become increasingly inconvenient in light of my new schedule. It’s still happening, but it’s definitely more of a burden now. Especially Tuesday and Wednesday. I work at 8 in the morning and have class until 9 at night. And this semester, I am unlucky enough to have two professors that like to take class right up to the bitter end. Saturday’s have also sucked because I intern from 6am to 6pm. I get out early enough, but 12 hours of internship does not make me want to go home and spend time with Tony Horton.

I have finally come up with a workable schedule, which is nice but I can’t lie. I’m really, really ready for this year to be over.

I do need you all to make me a promise though. Don’t let me stop. If you see me get complacent, call me on it. I may punch you in the throat but I’ll thank you later…and maybe apologize.

Recipe: Baked Potatoes for Phoenix Summers

OK, so it’s not much of a recipe, but I learned two fabulous tips from the depths of Pinterest and thought I’d share them with you.

First — you can make baked potatoes in a crockpot! No hot kitchen! You can wrap them in foil if you want, but you don’t even need to do that.

What I did:

  1. scrub the potatoes clean
  2. rub in olive oil
  3. put in crockpot
  4. sprinkle with a touch of salt
  5. cook

On low, 6-8 hours; on high, 2-3 hours.

I don’t know if you even need the olive oil, and I know you don’t need salt. (To apply the oil, I put a bit of oil in a small bowl, dipped the end of the potato in it, then rubbed it all around. There are probably ways that keep your hands cleaner, but I didn’t really care.)

I almost never add salt to my cooking, even when a recipe calls for it, but the tiny bit (really, I’m guessing under 1/8 teaspoon) really adds something to these.

The other tidbit I learned: you can substitute plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream when you eat these fabulous potatoes. Delicious!

Go try it!

Miss Me?

Hey! Look who finally remembered that she is supposed to post on Wednesday mornings! It’s Nichol!

Dear friends,

I suck! I totally missed last Wednesday. The worst part is, I didn’t even notice until Thursday morning, sitting in the Starbucks drive-thru.

A new semester has started and with that, I have started internship. With that, I have a whole new food issue. I need to figure out my food situation. Particularly Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

School days, I leave the house at 6:30am and I don’t get home until well after 9pm. Saturday I will leave the house at 5am and not get home until after 6pm.

How do you handle that? Does anyone have a portable refrigerator/stove/oven combination? Because that would be great.

In other news, I’m about 20 days from finishing P90. And I’m very excited about the 5Ks coming up (Color Run, Neon SplashDash).

I hope to have a better update for you next week, but right now I’m typing on my phone in the middle of SWG510, while my professor lectures.

Conflicting Advice


I have heard many complaints that there’s so much conflicting advice, people don’t know what to believe.

Some of this is because of “common knowledge” that hasn’t caught up to more recent research. (Some of the “more recent” research isn’t all that new — it’s just not managed to eradicate the old knowledge. Change is possible, but it sure is slow sometimes!)

Some of it is conflicting research.

But some of it is just conflicting goals.

Advice that is given for weight loss is not necessarily healthy.


Weight loss advice: Use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar to reduce calories.

Health advice: Artificial sweeteners are not good for you, mess up your taste for sweetness, and should be avoided.

Weight loss advice: Use low-fat products instead of their full-fat counterparts.

Heath advice: When fat is taken out of processed foods, flavor tends to go with it. Manufacturers replace the fat with other things, generally chemicals, that aren’t good for you. Full-fat in moderation is better than low-fat. (For an explanation of why this is also true with dairy, please see here.)

The advice dished out about fat and carbs is enough to make your head spin.

Don’t get me started on meal replacement (protein) bars. Or potatoes.

Here’s my take: if it is healthy, it is a good choice. If you focus on being healthy (eating healthy foods, keeping your body moving, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, etc.), the fat loss will follow.

If you focus on fat loss, there are too many negatives associated with it. Too many opportunities to feel deprived. For many, too many, “I can’t — I’m on a diet”s. These mindsets are not sustainable.

Eat to be healthy. Look for the information that guides you to health. The fat will follow.

Recipe: Amazing (Vegan) Refried Beans

I love refried beans and had always considered them a mystery. Why are they called “refried”? Still don’t know. The beans in this recipe aren’t fried at all, but they sure are good.

While I do eat refried beans in restaurants, the only other way that I know of to get them is in a can, and I’ve long since given up food in cans. I was very excited that this recipe turned out so well!

The beans will take a while (mostly soaking), so this isn’t a “let’s have these for dinner tonight” recipe. We soaked them for a super-long time to reduce cooking time. You could soak them just during the day (8 hours or so) but it will roughly double the cooking time. As we finished doing the dinner dishes, we just set the beans out to soak for the next night’s meal.

The original recipe called for three times as much of everything, and thankfully mentioned that it would make the equivalent of approximately ten 16-ounce cans of beans! I don’t want that much of an untested recipe (I’d make that much now and freeze it!), and my food processor certainly won’t hold that much. Cutting it by 2/3 was easy math/measuring, and it still made plenty!

I forgot to take a picture, but when we make these again (very soon!), I will take a picture and add it and probably re-share 😉

Amazing (Vegan) Refried Beans


  • 2 cups dry pinto beans
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder


Rinse dry beans, put in a large pot and add enough water to cover the beans by a few inches. Soak 20-24 hours.

Drain water. Return the beans to the pot, and add onions and garlic. Add fresh water to cover beans by about three inches. Cover the pot, but allow air to escape. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 45 minutes, until beans are tender.

Reserving the cooking water, remove the cooked beans, onions, and garlic. (Strain over a pot or use a slotted spoon.) Put all three in a food processor until beans are a creamy consistency. If the beans are too thick, add some of the cooking liquid until you’re happy with the consistency.

Stir in remaining ingredients.


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