Monday, December 26, 2011

Favorite Salad

Getting back into the swing of things here. Did 20 minutes of cardio at the gym followed by 20 minutes of weights and another 20 minutes of cardio after that. Got out of there feeling as if I could eat a triple decker veggie burger. (Now, now. No salivating over that image, ha ha.)What I did? I made myself my favorite salad.

Here's what I use:

Romaine Lettuce (a lot of people prefer field greens, but I always think that unless it's coated in dressing, it tastes like pond muck.)
Canned Mandarin Oranges
Feta Cheese (I prefer Mediterranean herbs in mine)
Sliced Almonds, roasted (I LOVE the brand Almond Accents in cracked pepper flavor)
Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette (my personal favorite if I'm too lazy to make my own which means I always use it for this recipe.)

This comes with a story, lucky you.

Years ago, my husband I went on our honeymoon. We are both very practical people and did not want to start out our married lives in debt, so we sent our honeymoon driving around New England, visiting museums. BEST vacation ever. In Rhode Island, we stopped at a restaurant called The Red Parrot. (

I was always very careful about my diet. If I was going to eat a lot of food, it would at least be chock full of vitamins and come from the ground. So I ordered a Caribbean salad. Can I just say that each bite I took was ecstasy? Sure, I loved visiting the Vanderbilt Mansion and entering Mark Twain's abode, but that salad? Still remember it vividly. Since then I've found similar ones at local restaurants, Chili's being one of them, but nothing holds a candle to that first taste of the real deal in Newport, R.I.

I've tried to recreate the salad, and I have to admit, mine can't compare either. Still, it's a pretty darn good try.

And slipping a few Hershey's kisses afterward doesn't hurt, either.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When a Cold Derails Your Fitness Plans

I know you've probably heard it before...exercising in moderation while ill is A-okay. And I've jumped on the treadmill while nursing a runny nose. But when there is coughing, sneezing, and a dripping tissue poking from your waistband, that is not acceptable in a public venue such as the public gym. Can you say YUCK? Because no one lifting 50-pound weights wants to leave there with someone's mucous on their bodies, okay?

Stay home and work-out, or give yourself the day (or week) off.

Now that I have that out of the way...I have been sick for almost a week now, and not exercising, natch. Part of the reason? Although I am on the mend, my children are just getting into the swing of things with their colds. (Read: my cold that I gave them.)

I am not practicing what I preach. I have not lifted cans of soup , or the weights stored somewhere in the closet. I am not running in place. I'm not even crawling around on the floor vacuuming beneath the couches (a fantastic workout, to be truthful). No. I am running up and down stairs feeding the quarantined child. I am trying in vain to keep child with pink eye (who would be quarantines if he were older and would stay in his room) from locating child with hacking cough and exchanging illnesses like they were spectacular presents.

At the end of the day, because I am still sick and coughing myself, I drag myself to bed. No workout. I know I will regret this when I get on the elliptical next week. But what can I do? I can't get to the gym during the day because I can't take the kids out of the house.

So for anyone who is going through this, or has gone through this, I get it. Don't kick yourself in the muscled tush. (And if you're flexible enough to do that, no worries!) Just get back to your workout schedule as soon as possible. I will let you know what that is...

After I put my son with the hacking cough back in his bedroom.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finding Time to Exercise

The biggest excuse for not exercising has merit: "I don't have time."

At the risk of annoying millions of readers (tongue-in-cheek), if you don't have time, than getting exercise is not a priority for you. Plain and simple. If you want to change that, excellent! I have some pointers you might be able to use.

I am giving this advice because I have used these techniques myself. I'm not going to ask you to do something impossible. (Example: work out videos at home. Great if you have a studio to work out in. Not so good for those of us who own heavy furniture.) I want you to remember something...most of my working life I either had 2-3 jobs or went to school full-time with 1-2 jobs. Talk about a time crunch. Still, I found time to get exercise. Now? Despite the inconvenience, I exercise 3 times a week at the gym. Inconvenient because I must drag my son's bookbag, my packed duffel, and a towel bag with me as well because I shower there. I just can't shrug the idea that showering at home with a three-year-old loose in the house would be a Bad Idea. On Fridays I also carry my Yoga brick and mat with me.

Not sure why my son always wants to be picked up when I'm burdened like a pack mule, but yes, occasionally he's in my arms, too. You'd think that would be enough workout, taking him and our gear into the Y where he attends preschool...but then I bike for twenty minutes and spend 50 more in painful yoga.

Okay, so enough about me, on to tips to keep active when you're busy:

On weekends-

1)Go to dance clubs and drink water (not beer) while dancing. (This is what I did in more more youthful, childless days.)

2)If you have kids, take them to the playground and swing with them or do chin-ups on the monkey bars. Climb and slide with them, unless, of course, they have those tunnel slides and you are either claustrophobic like me, or you are afraid someone will have to pour olive oil inside it to release you from being stuck (a truly understandable fear).

3)Cold and snowy? Help the kids make snow forts and start snowball wars. (Rule must be that no one throws snowballs at people's heads. We aren't looking for head injuries here, folks!) No kids? Any neighbor will let you borrow theirs, as long as you aren't creepy guy at the end of the road.

4)Housework can be great exercise! Get some music pumping and clean to the beat.

On weekdays-

1)During lunch break, eat some lean protein and walk around the building (unless you work for a company like Xerox that has a building with seemingly no end. It only took me one time to realize some buildings seem a lot smaller inside than they are on the outside).

2)Watch television at night? Jog in place. Use soup cans as weights and do some arm lifts. Rest during the commercials, or do ab work on the floor. Do not, I repeat, do not consume an entire bag of potato chips directly after. If it makes you hungry, a small piece of cheese and a few nuts should fill you, plus give you protein for those muscles you'll be developing!

3)If you need a second income, try working in a store stockroom if you can handle heavy lifting. You will make money and increase muscle mass.

4)Have a dog that needs walking? Try going on a sprint/walk. Alternate running and walking. You might frustrate your pooch at first, but eventually he or she will get the hint. No dog? If you have ten minutes, take the time to start this good habit. You'll be glad you did!

Like I said, these are all techniques I've used, and I've kept fit most of my life. The times I gained weight? When I didn't exercise at all. But that's a story for another post.

If you want exercising to be a priority, you will find the time to do it. Ten minutes a day is better than none. Sneak in moments where you'd rather be relaxing and get that blood pumping by walking around your office or living room. Get some stretches in if you have a job where you're on your feet a lot, such as being a nurse, a waiter, or a retail salesperson. Start small, but do it often. It only takes a short while for it to become a habit.

No excuses, okay? You can do it. I know, because I have.