Thursday, December 24, 2015

Two Quick Family-Friendly Healthier Desserts

Yikes!  Just realized that you forgot you said you'd bring dessert or need one more snack for your holiday party?  Here are two quick family-friendly, healthier dishes that can be a dessert, side or snack made with ingredients you probably have in your kitchen.
Apple Nachos & Christmas Fluff

Christmas Fluff
1 32-oz tub vanilla yogurt (I used Greek non-fat)
1 packet instant vanilla pudding
1 tub cool whip, thawed
1 bag frozen berries (I used raspberries)

Mix the yogurt and vanilla pudding mix until combined.  Fold in cool whip until combined.  Fold in frozen berries.  Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Apple Nachos
Four apples
2 heaping Tablespoons Peanut Butter (creamy or crunchy)
Topping you have on hand (chopped nuts, coconut, chocolate chips, sprinkles, chocolate syrup, etc)

Slice the apples.  Arrange on a plate.  Melt the peanut butter in the microwave.  Pour over the apple slices.  Sprinkle with additional toppings if desired.

Easy!  I made both of these for our Christmas Eve after church snacks tonight.  My family gave them two thumbs up!

Merry Christmas from Mom Went Running!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Award-Winning Healthier Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

Last week I entered my very first cooking contest.  I LOVE contests!  Not the kind where you simply sign-up and hope that your name is drawn.  I like the contests where I have to write something or create something or . . . bake something!  So when our YMCA (The Sampson Family YMCA in Plum, PA) announced their Healthy Cookie Contest I was in from the start!

The rules of the contest stated that entrants should take a current recipe and change at least one item to make it healthier.  I took a classic Oatmeal Cookie recipe and changed three ingredients.  Half of the butter was replaced with unsweetened applesauce.  The egg was replaced by 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with water.  Finally, I increased the flour from 1-1/2 to 2 cups.  Three changes turned out to be the key because I PLACED THIRD!!
Third Place!!
Without further ado . . .
          Here is my award-winning healthy cookie recipe:

OATrageously Yummy Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup  unsweetened applesauce
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon flaxseed. ground
3 Tablespoons water
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash nutmeg
1-1/2 cup oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter, applesauce and sugars together until light and fluffy.  In a small bowl, combine flaxseed and water.  Add flaxseed mixture to butter mixture and beat until smooth.  Add vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Stir into butter mixture.  Add oats.  Drop spoonful (T or tsp depending on desired size) of cookie dough onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until bottoms are golden.  Cookies should not get brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 3 dozen small or 1-1/2 dozen larger cookies
Serves 18
175 Calories per serving

I'm normally a follow-the-recipe-exactly kind of cook, but it turned out to be a lot of fun to play with the ingredients.  The fact that my family loved the cookies was a huge bonus!  For the contest, cookies were judged on taste, appearance and nutritional profile.  Making a few simple changes to a classic Oatmeal cookie recipe lowered the calories from 210 in the original recipe to 175 per serving. The saturated fat decreased from 7 grams to 3 grams per serving.  Fiber content increased.  I'm already thinking about what changes I make to other recipes!

I hope you'll give these OATrageously Yummy Cookies a try this holiday season!
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Healthy Friendship

Last weekend my best friend Amy and I went away to Hidden Valley (a resort in Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands).  We've been friends for over eight years and for the past six years have encouraged and motivated each other to live a life of healthy choices.

Amy and I hiking at Forbes State Forest
Throughout this past weekend I was reminded of how different we are now as compared to when we first met.

We got pizza to eat on Friday night.  Instead of eating the entire pizza, we each had three pieces.

Instead of laying around the condo all day or heading over to the spa for a facial (which would not have been a bad choice and is something we totally plan to do the next time we get to escape life!) on Saturday, we headed to Forbes State Forest for a hike.

Throughout the weekend we drank water (and a little wine!) instead of downing can after can of pop.

For dinner on Saturday we enjoyed a clean recipe of Chicken White Bean Chili ( instead of stuffing ourselves with greasy processed foods and an over-abundance of gooey dips.

Dessert was warm chocolate chip cookies served with vanilla ice cream instead of consuming an entire pan of brownies.

On Sunday morning we vegged out in front of the TV for a couple of episodes of Friends, but then laced up our tennis shoes for a brisk 2 mile walk around the resort.  Years ago we would have spent the entire morning glued to the TV.

When it came time to head home we felt refreshed instead of tired and heavy.  We had talked and laughed and cried and watched a couple of chick flicks -- and hiked and walked and enjoyed the crisp fresh fall air.  The weekend was an excellent reminder to me of how thankful I am to have such a positive friendship in my life.  Amy encourages me and motivates me.  Making healthy choices is so much easier when you have someone making those same choices along side you.  It's a lot more fun, too!

Forbes State Forest 
Enjoying a roaring fire

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

God Said NO to the Pumpkin Custard

My kids - thanks to my husband - love to purchase movies and video games on the day they premiere.  Last Tuesday was no exception.  Pitch Perfect 2 was released on DVD and my daughter was begging me to stop at Target on my way home from work to buy it for her.  Seeing as she has started the school year off with a bang, was completing her chores with no complaints and practicing her instruments unprompted - I thought this would be a great reward for her.  So I included a quick stop at Target in my plans for the day.

And then it hit me . . . I'll be driving right past Meadows Custard!  And I heard their Pumpkin Custard was to die for!  That's when the battle started.

Oh my gosh Lisa.  You HAVE to stop for some Pumpkin Custard!

But I've been doing so well in making healthy choices with my eating.

All the more reason to reward yourself with a treat.  You can get a small - that's a wiser choice than a large!

But we've been trying to save money and this would be a frivolous expense.

Like I said, Lisa . . . get a small.  That's not that much money.

I don't have any cash and to put such a small amount of money on the debit card seems ridiculous.

Who cares!  It's Pumpkin Custard.  PUMPKIN!

What about JJ and Ellie?  I'll feel guilty getting custard without them.

You work very hard Lisa.  You deserve a treat.  Plus, they won't even know about it.

Ohhhhhh . . . nope, the calories.  I'm not going to splurge.  Not going to do it.

You deserve it Lisa!  You work SO hard.  Treat yourself.  Indulge.  It will taste SO good!

Maybe I should.  Nope - the money.  Silly expense.

Hey - you could get cash back when you buy the DVD.  Then you will have cash and Meadows Custard won't show up on your statement.

BRILLIANT!!  I'll get cash back and give myself a delicious treat!  I deserve it!  But, the kids.

No one will know . . . ever!  Go for it!

Decision made.  I was going to Target, buying the movie, getting cash back and stopping for PUMPKIN CUSTARD!!!  YAY!!!

I was so excited the rest of the day.  All I could think about was how smooth and rich and amazing that Pumpkin Custard was going to taste.  mmmmmmmmm . . .

After work I drove to Target.  Grabbing the DVD from the display case right by the door I practically skipped to the checkout.  Pumpkin Custard!  Pumpkin Custard!  Pumpkin Custard! The words chanted in my brain as my cheeks tingled with the anticipation of my secret yummy treat.

I swiped my debit card and the machine beeped.  I looked at the cashier with a puzzled expression.

"Oh, you have one of the new cards with a chip.  You need to slide it in here," she showed me a new slot in the front of the machine.

I slid in my card.  Suddenly the words "Thank you for shopping at Target!" flashed on the screen and my receipt printed from the register.

"Wait!"  I said with a slight tone of panic.  "I was going to get cash back."

"Oh, sorry.  With these new cards you can't get cash back."

"But, I was going to treat myself to Pumpkin Custard!" I exclaimed.

"Sorry Ma'am," she said as she started to scan the next customers items.

I stood there staring at her for a few seconds with my mouth open shocked that my plan to sneak off and get myself a special treat had just completely fallen apart (and slightly stinging from her use of the word ma'am).  The woman behind me in line gently pushed her cart forward in an attempt to move me along.  My gaze shifted to her.

"I can't get cash back.  I was going to get custard," I stammered.  She smiled a sympathetic smile.

Turning, I walked out of Target.  That hadn't gone as planned!

Sitting in my car, I started to laugh.  I had just spent the entire day contriving this whole plan to sneak off and secretly buy myself a custard cone.  And than it completely falls apart.  That is hysterical!

Two of the many things I've learned about myself over the past five years are
1) I use food for comfort and reward.  That's ok some of the time, but I would often take it to an unhealthy extreme.
2) The Mom Guilt Monster THRIVES on me.  I used to be one of it's favorite prey.

My inner conversation turned to God - All right Lord, I see where you are going with this.  That plan would have thrown me directly into the fire of two struggles I've worked the hardest to overcome.  Thank you for rescuing me from myself!  I concede - no Pumpkin Custard for me!  But please let this be a situation where you're not saying no you're simply saying not now.  Please?!?

That was the case.  Two days later the kids and I were out running errands and drove past Dairy Queen.  Their sign advertised that Pumpkin Pie Blizzards were back.  I LOVE Pumpkin Pie Blizzards!  I turned right into the parking lot and my kids cheered.  Mini pumpkin pie blizzards all around (That's a wise choice.  A few years ago I would have ordered us all larges!).  The Blizzards tasted fantastic and the company was super fun . . . so much better than speed eating a cone in secret before I got home and then feeling guilty all night.

Healthy choice - check!
Having fun with my family - check!
Being an example for my kids - check!

Thanks God for saying no to that Pumpkin Custard!

Mom Went Running

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It was His Idea!

On my way home from work this afternoon I made up my mind to go to either my Praise Moves or Zumba class.  I had left work on time so there was plenty of time to make dinner for my family before hopping back in the car.

When I walked in the front door, I found my son sitting at his desk finishing his homework.  He'd been hard at work since he got home from school, he said, which had been nearly two hours before my arrival.  As I was putting dinner in the oven, he came out of his room and plopped down on the couch.  He grabbed his video game controller and fired up a game of football.

If I leave, I thought, he is going to sit here all night playing game after game until he heads to bed.

"Hey J," I called into the Family Room.  "Want to go out and catch ball after we eat?"

"Sure Mom!"

After dinner we went outside to toss the football.

"Want to try one of the reps we did at my Muscle Monday class?"

Eye rolling.

"Come on.  It will be fun!" I said walking to edge of the backyard.  He reluctantly followed me.

"We'll do three burpees and then lunge walk to the other side of the yard.  Three burpees and lunge walk back.  We'll do that twice.  Go!"

We finished our reps and returned to tossing the football while chatting.

"Want to try one of the warm-ups from my tennis camp?"  my son asked out of the blue.

My inner response: Are you kidding?!?!?  YES!!  I'd LOVE to!!  Let's go!!  Whoop!  Whoop!  {jumping up and down while rapidly clapping}

My outer response: Sure.

"Run down and back across the yard.  Do three push-ups.  Run down and back.  Two push-ups.  Run down and back.  One push-up.  Run down and back."

After completing the warm-up and catching our breath, we returned to tossing the football.

Walking to the far side of our yard, my son spoke up again.  "Let's try this.  If I get the football into the hoop, we head inside.  If I miss, we do another one of your reps."

Sounded good to me!  It was a crazy shot that I didn't think he would make . . . ever!

He missed his first shot.
We did 10 squats and one suicide.

He missed his second shot.
We did 12 split squats per leg and 12 calf raises.

He missed his third shot.
We ran another suicide.

He missed his fourth shot.
We did a 30-second plank.

He made his fifth shot!

We headed inside - sweaty, covered in grass and laughing!  What made the night so great for me was that even though I  got the ball rolling, my son ran with it.  It was his idea to keep going with the reps and to add in the crazy football hoop throw.

This is one of those nights for me to reflect back on when I think that my desire for our family be healthy is falling on deaf ears.  When I'm feeling frustrated that change is not happening fast enough.  A moment in time to acknowledge that my kids are listening and grasping the concept that being active is fun and not a chore.  My plan is working!

Photo Credit - Ellie Jenkins

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sitting Down at the Table

For the past several years I've been keeping a secret hidden within my house.  It's something that I am not proud of.  It's a problem that had a very simple solution, but I just could never get it fixed.  It was one of the tasks that I wrote on my To Do List every weekend but never crossed off.  I would transfer it to the next weekend's list with a promise to myself that I would get it done.  Yet the situation hung over my head weighing me down and reminding me daily of missed opportunities and memories. 
My kitchen table is a disaster!
It's my dumping ground, my junk drawer, my albatross!
After spending the week with my family on vacation where we ate every single meal together, I was reminded yet again that I am missing out on A LOT by holding our kitchen table hostage with my junk.  Not only was I missing out, but more importantly I was depriving my kids of life lessons, memories and forced vegetable eating.  So this weekend I moved "clear off kitchen table" to the top of the To Do List and I CROSSED IT OFF!
We've shared two meals together so far and it has been great.  When we first sat down, my daughter said, "I remember when we used to do this!"  I didn't know whether I should laugh, cry or crawl under the table in complete humiliation. 
Eating together as a family is so important.  It's a chance to share experiences, create memories and pass on important life lessons.  Cell phones are set aside and real conversation happens.  I'm looking forward to the opportunities I will have to help my kids try new foods and encourage them to eat more of the healthy ones.  I've already noticed two things:
1) There was less food being scraped from the plates into the garbage can.
2) No one snacked after dinner.
As I strive to help my family be healthy and happy, I think this may be one of the best things I've done.  Who knows why it took me so long to accomplish it.  That's neither here nor there.  The table is cleared off, my little secret is out in the open and my family will be sitting down at the table for dinner tonight and for many nights to come.  Today is a good day.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Dancing in front of the Mirror

A couple of years ago someone shared this image on facebook.  I laughed because the image itself is absolutely hysterical, but also because it is so true!  When I am at my Zumba class, the inner me is shimmy-ing and thrustin' and shakin' and bustin' quite a fantastic move on that dance floor.  My dream as a young girl was to be a Solid Gold Dancer shaking my tush in those metallic gold costumes.  This was my moment to dig that dream from the depths of my brain and live it out on the dance floor of Firehall #6.  In reality I'm sure Cat (my most incredible instructor) is seeing quite a frightful scene when she scans the room in my direction.  But that's ok because I can't see the true me in that moment and I know that everyone around me is so focused on Cat or their own moves that they don't notice me flailing around.

Until I showed up at Cat's Saturday morning class in a room where half the walls are covered in . . . MIRRORS!  WHAT?!?!?

For the first couple of classes I tried my best to stare at the floor or the ceiling and not let my eyes catch even the quickest glance at the freakish woman jumping wildly to the beat of the music.  But after a few weeks, curiosity got the best of me and I couldn't help but stare at this woman trying her best to match the rhythmic moves of the instructor.  I was truly shocked at the fact that the hips and pelvis I truly believed were shimmy-ing and thrustin' and shakin' and bustin' some kind of move were in reality hardly moving.  No wonder whenever Cat told us that our core should be burning that I was feeling nothing.  I assumed that my core was buried so deep under fat that I just couldn't feel anything.  Boy, was I wrong!

I began to study Cat a little closer and look at my own body (Yes, I practiced in front of the mirror at home!).  If I spread my feet a little wider, bent my knees a little more, tightened up that dreaded core and stopped worrying about what my arms were doing in that moment I managed to get a lot more action going on down there below my belly button!  Then guess what happened?  I felt the burn!  My core burned.  Whoop!  Whoop!

I learned several things from this revelation:
1) It is important to spend some time studying the structure of a move (in Zumba or any form of exercise) in order to gain the maximum effect.  This could take just seconds as Cat is teaching us a new routine or require a little extra practice at home.
2) There is a core buried deep within me.
3) I'm glad that I finally took a look at myself dancing in front of the mirror.

That's me in the grey t-shirt bustin' a Zumba move!!
Photo credit - SkyBird Photography

My BFF Amy (right) and I with our most incredible Zumba Instructor Cat.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Split the Sandwich?!?

PNC Park  May 2015
It had been an emotional day in the midst of a stressful week.  There was a lot going on at work and home.  I was looking forward to a relaxing fun girls' night out with my BFF Amy.

By the time we arrived at Rivertowne inside PNC Park I was famished!  I was soaking in their delicious menu debating between a big juicy burger or mouth watering bbq pulled pork over pierogies when Amy knocked me over with a question . . .

"Want to split a sandwich?"

What?!  SPLIT a sandwich?  Are you CRAZY?!  No, I don't want to split a sandwich.  I want to devour every single morsel of stress-reducing goodness on this menu!!  Why in the world would I want to eat half of a sandwich?  I love you, but you have lost your mind.  I am over-the-top stressed out and when I am this stressed out I eat.  I eat and eat and eat and eat.  So leave me alone and go split a sandwich with someone else.

OK.  So, I didn't really say any of those words out loud.  Instead I smiled and said, "Sure!  Which one should we get?"

Amy and I enjoyed an incredible shared meal of Pub Pretzels, the Fish Sandwich with Pub Fries and each had an amazing glass of Hala Kahiki Pineapple Beer. We also shared two hours of fantastic conversation.  By the end of the meal I felt very content - both in my stomach and my heart!  I didn't need heavy food to ease my heavy heart -- I needed time with my BFF.  Delicious food was simply a bonus.

As Amy and I sat there, I thought back to the "old" Amy and Lisa dinners.  We'd share an appetizer, each get a full meal, each get dessert and talk for hours while drinking glass of pop after glass of pop.  In 2010 we both began to make changes in our lives to live healthier.  While we still enjoy chatting over a meal, our menu selections have changed.  We have come a long way in these five years!!
                   Amy and Lisa circa 2009
Amy and I with our awesome Zumba instructor Cat
April 2015
Three lessons can be gained from Amy and my Girls' Night Out:
1) Sharing your health journey with a friend makes the journey a lot of fun.
2) Dealing with your stress by talking about it is much healthier than dealing with it by eating.
3) Splitting the sandwich is a good idea.

Thanks Amy.  I love you!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


WHAM-O.  Two paddles and a ball.  I have great memories of playing hours of paddle ball the summer my church youth group went to Martha's Vineyard for two weeks to teach VBS on the beach (Yes, we were truly suffering for the Lord!).  When I saw this set at the store, I couldn't pass it up.  I hoped I had found the key to getting my kids off the couch and outside this Spring.

It turns out . . . this could be the best $5 I ever spent!

WHAM-O is an easy game to play.  Success comes quickly - we hit it back and forth four times.  Next time we make it for six.  Victory!

WHAM-O brings a light - though at times quite intense! - sense of competition - which pairing of family members can get a higher score?

WHAM-O creates funny memories.  Remember how JJ smacked himself in the face last time we played?  Mom, remember when you ran into the tree?  Ellie, what was that noise you made diving for the ball?

I often say that the hardest part of exercising is making the move to get off the couch.  The promise of easy, good old-fashioned competitive WHAM-O fun sparks that desire.  I think that it makes it easier for my kids to say yes when I ask them to play because they know it is going to be a good time.

Now here is the BEST part - I've discovered that the request for a couple games of WHAM-O leads to more outdoor activities - Let's shoot some hoops!  Mom, do you know where the Frisbee is?  Do you remember that summer we played four-square almost every night?  Instead of my kids losing interest after awhile and heading back inside, they are wanting to stay outside and play longer!  A totally unexpected twist to my WHAM-O plan.

A twist that I am embracing.  And enjoying every moment of it!!
The record currently stands at 72!

Monday, April 13, 2015

So Happy I Pushed Myself to Run and not Sit Out!

Excitement.  Guilt.  Fear. Anticipation.  Indecision.  Anger.  Hopefulness. 

These are all of the emotions I was feeling as I got out of my car this past Saturday at the Forbes Road CTC 5K, an event my sister organized to raise funds for the school's scholarship program.  I had been one of the first to sign-up when registration opened several months ago.  And then the sinus infection happened.  The longest and most annoying illness of my entire life.  It would not go away and I was sidelined for over a month. 

Now here I was at the first 5K since I had finally recovered.  Should I run?  Walk?  Cheer from the sidelines?

I was excited to be there and feeling good.  Yet I was angry at myself that I hadn't pushed through the fatigue and exercised more over the past few weeks even though my head knew that I had done the right thing.  If I sat out, what kind of example would that be for my kids?  There was the fear of being embarrassed in front of my fellow runners if I couldn't finish and had to call my brother-in-law to pick me up at Mile 2.  I was also hopeful that the excitement of this event would be the motivation I needed to get back on track!

Standing at the Starting Line I still hadn't made of my mind of how I would handle the next 3.1 miles.  As I stood there I was reminded of advice my mom had give me when I was training for my first 5k and had been ready to give up.  She reminded me to not worry about what other people around me were doing or saying.  To not worry about the way I felt I "should" be running and do what works best for me. 

In that moment I decided that I would start off with my normal 2/1 interval.  However instead of running for 2 minutes and walking for 1 minute, I would run for 1 minute and walk for 2 minutes.  If that turned out to be too much, I would drop down to pure walking. 

My sister yelled "START" into the Megaphone and I took off (I know that gives the image of me sprinting from the starting line.  It was more of a slow gallop.)  1 minute run . . . 2 minutes walk . . . 1 minute run . . . 2 minutes walk . . .

The Finish Line showed up much quicker that I anticipated.  I maintained my pace the entire race and I felt FABULOUS!  Not one single time did I want to quit or question my decision to run/walk the event.  My body felt great, my spirits were high and I felt such pride in myself.  I did it!!
My son JJ and I at the Finish Line
If I had opted to walk, I would have been happy with myself for finishing but not felt the exhilarating high of having pushed myself.  If I had opted to sit out, I would have missed the joy all together and been kicking myself for not participating.
I am SO happy that I made the choice to participate!  What a huge reminder for me to push myself and go for it.  Five years ago I made the decision that I don't sit on the sidelines anymore.   I want to experience life and not always be the one cheering on others.  I encourage you to not sit on the sidelines - get up and join the FUN!!  That choice will change your life! 
(NOTE: Medically I am all better and was cleared by my doctor to return to my normal exercise routines.)
JJ and his friend Blake volunteered at the event.
More pics from this fun event:
My awesome sister and Race Director Meg (in green)
Beauties Ellie and Katie

One of the many selfies Ellie took during the morning.

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Bad Food Day . . . on Purpose!

Yesterday I had two important events take place.  In the morning I had a rather stressful meeting for work which actually created a great bonding experience with several of my co-workers.  That evening my husband and I celebrated 23 years since our first date during our freshmen year at Ashland University. 

As is common in today's world, both events involved food.  At first, I was a little stressed out by this.  I don't eat out too often, let alone twice in one day.  For me there is so much temptation when eating out.  The more I thought about it I realized that everything was going to be ok because I was THINKING about it! 

I didn't go into these two meals a mindless madwoman shoving every morsel of food in my mouth.  Did I make the 100% healthiest choices available to me?  No.  But because I purposefully gave my choices some thought, I didn't make the worst choice. 

We had lunch at Primanti Brothers - a Pittsburgh Classic!  You can't say no to a Primanti's sandwich piled high with coleslaw and french fries.  I ate the whole thing which was delicious, but I got water instead of pop.  Two PURPOSEFUL choices.  A big choice for me at Primanti's was that I tried a new sandwich.  I have always gotten the same sandwich at Primanti's.  My WHOLE life I've gotten the same sandwich.  As I attempt to be more open to new adventures, going with fish instead of the Pittsburger was a big move (May sound like no big deal to some, but I think it is important to grab onto even the smallest opportunities for excitement!). 
Following lunch, we hit up another Pittsburgh Classic - prantl's bakery.  YUMMY!  I treated myself to one cookie.  ONE.  My plan was to eat half and then give the other half to my son, but I have to confess that when I handed him the bag later in the day there was only about 1/8 of the cookie left.  Oooops!  Not much thought into that one, but at least I savored small bites throughout the day and didn't scarf it down in three huge bites.  Every bite was SO good!

Finally dinner.  My husband and I had both been craving Chinese food so a trip to Azan Wok in Plum was our choice.  We saw and discussed several "healthy" options on the menu, but we went with our favorites - Sweet-n-Sour Chicken with Pork Fried Rice and an egg roll on the side.  Mmmmm!  I may not have chosen the healthiest menu item, but I did choose to stop eating when I was full rather than stuffing myself because it tasted so good. 

The best parts about this Bad Food Day were that I had a great time with my friends and husband AND I did not feel sick at the end of the day.  I had a great time because I chose to not focus on the food - I focused on those I was with.  I didn't feel sick because even though I didn't make the healthiest food choices, I gave each choice thought and didn't stuff myself.  My Bad Food Day turned out to be a GREAT day!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

show some love to YOU

Today is the day that we celebrate those we love and those who love us.  I encourage you to take a moment and think about a very important person in your life that you need to celebrate and show love to . . . YOU! 
So often we express our dreams for ourselves through that quiet inner voice or through statements that we repeat over and over again so often that everyone around us rolls their eyes because they are sick of hearing it . . .
I wish I was healthier.
     I wish I was thinner.
          I wish I felt better.
               I wish I had a different job.
                    I wish I had a nicer house.
                        I wish . . .
                             I wish . . .
                                  I wish . . .
Wishes can come true!  Dreams can turn into reality!  Stop just thinking or saying it and do something about it.
We have the ability to make them happen.  We simply need to take ACTION!  We need to make the decision to take the first step.  Get off the couch and take that first walk around the block.  Pass up the chips and grab an apple.  Pack your lunch instead of buying and set aside that $10 towards that new couch you've had your eye on.  Sign-up for that class you've been needing to take toward your degree.  Love yourself . . . trust yourself enough to do it!  That first small step will lead to the next small step which will lead to the next small step which will lead to the realization of your dream before you know it.
Stop dreaming and take action TODAY - after you indulge in an amazing piece of chocolate, of course!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ten Years Ago Today. Not Failure. Perfection.

Ten years . . .

Today marks ten years since my husband's first back surgery.  His first FAILED back surgery as the doctors describe it. 

I was thinking about that this morning as I reflected on how that surgery was the springboard for our lives changing in drastic ways.  Ways that we never wanted.  Ways that most days - ten years later - we still don't want.

I was asking God the questions that I often ask Him - WHY?  Why did this happen?  What is your plan in all of this pain and anger and re-direction?  - when the word FAILED popped back into my mind. 

My husband's surgery was labeled as a failure.  God's plan for our lives is PERFECT.

In many areas our lives have not been what we expected or dreamt.  God's plan for our lives is PERFECT.

Many times I struggle to keep a smile on my face and keep "running" forward.  God's plan for my life is PERFECT.

I realized this morning that that surgery ten years ago today was not seen as a failure in God's eyes.  He saw it as part of his PERFECT plan for us.  I still don't know why, but I know all that I truly need to know - God's plan is PERFECT.

"As for God, His way is PERFECT.  The Lord's word is flawless.  He shields all who take refuge in Him."  Psalm 18:30

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Do you have a Lenita?

Yesterday as I walking from my office to the copier, I passed our Activities Coordinator who was handing out plates of crisp nachos with a side yummy cheese sauce to our participants (I work in an Adult Day Center for people with dementia.). 

She held a plate out to me. "Hey Lisa, do you want one?"

I shifted the papers I was carrying and extended my hand, "Sure!"


A stern yet playful voice came from behind me.  I spun around and there stood my co-worker Lenita.  I hadn't noticed that she was in the room. 

"What do you think your doing?"  Her stern yet playful voice asked.

I paused for a moment looking Lenita directly in her eyes.  I turned my head and looked at the plate piled high with delicious crunchy chips and ooey gooey cheese sauce dripping from them.  Slowly, I turned back to Lenita - head tilted, looking at me through her long batting eye lashes and face glowing with one of her encouraging smiles.

Without turning back around I said, "You know what?  I'm going to have to pass, but thanks for the offer!"  Before the words were fully out of my mouth, I threw my arms around Lenita's neck in a hug of gratitude.

You see, Lenita plays an important role in my work day.  She holds me accountable on my healthy living journey, specifically on my work day snacking.  I never specifically asked her to play that role.  We just connected on that topic as both of us strive to make healthy choices and she naturally became my Miss Accountability. 

I'm lucky because she works in our Physical Therapy gym which just happens to be between my Day Center and the Employee Lounge.  So if there is cake in the break room, I have to walk past Lenita to get a piece.  There have been times when I'm headed for the vending machine and Lenita doesn't even see me walking by, but I see her!  Just seeing her is enough to make me turn around and head back to my office and my lunch bag filled with healthy snack options.   

Lenita is playfully stern and honest.  She is never mean or downgrading.  She is encouraging and uplifting.  When I get passed her and she catches me eating a piece cake, she doesn't make me feel bad because there are times that she'll go for the cake, too!  Instead she talks about how we'll do better next time.  And we always do!  I so appreciate the important role that Lenita plays in my life.  She keeps me moving in the right direction. 

Do you have a Lenita?  If not, take a moment to think of the people in your workplace.  Is there someone who shares your interest in making healthy choices?  Is there someone in the lunch room who is munching on fresh veggies and fruit rather than chips and pizza?  Lenita and I never specifically talked about her holding me accountable, but you may need to ask someone to help hold you accountable. 

Another way to find your Lenita is to be a Lenita for someone else.  It is often easy to spot those who are trying to being healthy and struggling a little bit.  For a week they are packing healthy lunches and then the next are back to hitting the drive-thru every day.  They talk about their walks after work and then don't mention exercise at all.  You know who I am talking about!  Comment on their good choices.  Ask them to go for a walk with you over lunch or after work.  You will find yourself being lifted up by your actions of lifting them up.  Pretty soon, they will return the favor.

After I walked away from those chips yesterday, I returned to my office and grabbed an orange from my lunch bag.  I took my time peeling it and popping each juicy sweet piece into my mouth.  It tasted SO good and I felt SO good about the choice I had made to eat it . . . thanks to Lenita!

Monday, January 12, 2015

The TV Commercial Workout: A WIN! WIN! WINNING Idea for my Teenager

This weekend my teenage son and I tried something new . . . and we LOVED it! 

My friend Dana introduced me to the idea of creating a TV Commercial Workout.  A very simple yet fun and effective concept!

Here is what you do:

1) On a piece of paper or index card, make two columns.

2) In the first column, write a list of types of commercials - car, restaurant, cell phone company,  insurance, TV promos, bank, etc.  Be sure to include miscellaneous! 

3) In the second column, write a list of exercises - jumping jacks, squats, plank, bicep curls, twists, jog in place, high knees, etc.  You will need to list as many exercises as you have types of commercials writing them lined up evenly. 

4) Sit down to enjoy your favorite TV show.

5) As soon as there is a commercial break, JUMP up and start MOVING following the guide that you just created for yourself.  For example, we paired restaurant commercials with jumping jacks.  Every time there was a commercial for Subway or McDonald's, we did jumping jacks.  Every time there was a cell phone commercial, we dropped into the Plank Position. 

My son and I did a TV Commercial Workout during the fourth quarter of one of the football games yesterday.  I'm sure he thought I was a little crazy at first, but he agreed to play along.  After only the first few commercials we were sweating and giggling and completely out of breath! 

Half of the challenge was figuring out what some of the commercials were actually advertising.   It was hilarious when we thought we knew and started one exercise only to discover that we were wrong and had to switch in the middle. We cracked up when we would each think the commercial was about something different.  I almost ended up with a black eye when I started to drop to a Plank just as my son started a side leg lift.

The TV Commercial Workout was a
WIN . . .
I realized that between church, homework, a nap and the football games, my son would have nearly zero movement in his day.  By the time I figured this out, I knew I would never hear the end of it if I tried to drag him away from the football game.  With this workout, he didn't miss a single down!

WIN . . .
Both my son and I got an excellent workout!  I can't remember the last time I did so many jumping jacks.     

One thing missing from our day yesterday was us spending time together.  If I would have sat down to watch the game with him, I would have been asleep in five seconds.  Not only did we spend quality time together, we had a lot of fun! 

IDEA for my teenage son!  A very simple yet fun and effective one!

Love my family!