Monday, April 30, 2012

Not quite garlic bread

I am not much of a chef. I like to think that I am, but I am truly not. I have a few dishes and desserts that I can make, and if you're thinking "she made _____________ that was really yummy", most likely it was one of the five things I can make well.

Luckily pasta type dishes are a no-brainer (once I figured out you don't put the pasta in the water until it is boiling)...and my kids will actually eat it. I haven't been eating a ton of pasta lately, but I've added whole wheat pasta back in to my life. Enter my conundrum: garlic bread. Even more lovely than pasta with marinara is a golden piece of garlic bread, with cheese of course. But unless I've just had a really long run, my body doesn't do well with both pasta and bread at the same meal. I know, sad times. And honestly, garlic bread really just is not very good for you (or me).

So tonight I made something that was nothing like garlic bread so I won't even pretend that it was. But it was yummy, healthy, and a great accompaniment to my pasta dish. The magic ingredient...zucchini!

I love zucchini sauteed or in soups, but today on a whim I tried something different and it was really good. Step 1: I sliced 2 small zucchini and placed them on my large baking stone. Step 2: Sprinkle with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. Step 3: Bake @ 350 for about 20 minutes (I set the timer for 15, but then spaced out and didn't take it out right away). Step 4: Take out of the oven and eat. (Sounds like the recipes from my daughter's preschool class).

Sure, all things being equal, I would prefer garlic bread. Lots of it. With cheese. But all things are not equal and what I put in my mouth does impact my health. So for today I chose veggies over my cravings. And a few hours later I'm happy with that decision.

I told you I wasn't much of a chef, and you can tell I won't be a food blogger anytime soon, but it may have inspired you to try making a veggie side rather than grabbing that overly processed frozen garlic bread next time you need a friend beside the pasta on your plate.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Perfectionism and Procrastination

I've always equated procrastination with laziness. In college when I would be pulling an all nighter to finish a big Sociology paper, I attributed my sleepless state to laziness in the days proceeding. More accurately, I usually placed my social life or activities before time at the computer. But I read something on yesterday that lit a lightbulb in my head...often it is perfectionism that leads to procrastination. We are always waiting for the perfect time to complete a task. We don't want to workout unless we have a solid 60 minutes to sweat. We wait to do laundry until we have a perfect block of time. We wait until we make "enough" money to pay down debt.

And that "waiting" for the perfect time or situation leads many of us to procrastinate and not live our life fully. Zig Ziglar calls it "getting cooked in the squat."

"Most people wait until everything is just right before they do anything. They refuse to go out on a limb where the fruit is. They are the people who end up like the cook's biscuits.

Let me explain. When I was a small boy in Yazoo City, Mississippi, we lived next door to some rich folks. I know they were rich because they not only had a cook, but the cook had something to cook. In the 1930's that was a sure sign of wealth. I was there for lunch one day, as I tried to be most every day. On this occasion, the cook brought out a pan of biscuits. Since they were no thicker than a silver dollar, I asked, 'Maude, what happened to those biscuits?' She reared back, laughed, and said, 'Well, those biscuits squatted to rise, but they just got cooked in the squat.'" -Zig Ziglar in the book See You at the Top

That's been me lately, at least in regards to writing. I obsess about what I should write about, how exactly I should phrase things, ponder how my words will be interpreted...and the days go by and you hear the sound of silence. The list is actually rather quite large when I think about the things I've put off doing just waiting for the perfect time. Here's a few...maybe you can relate:

  • Waiting until I have a full 60 minutes plus time to shower before I'll do a workout rather than just lacing up my shoes and being more active all day 

  • Spending way too many hours researching the "perfect diet" rather than just getting about the business of giving up ice cream and cutting up some veggies

  • Waiting until we had a large lump sum of money to put towards debt rather than attack it with $100 sticks (at times saving the money led to us spending it while it was waiting...)

  • Letting the laundry pile up hoping I'd have one big block of time to do it rather than throw in a load a day and staying on top of it. No matter when you tackle the laundry, there will ALWAYS be more

 So what are you waiting for? What goals or tasks do you just need to dig into rather than waiting for the "right time?"

Sunday, April 15, 2012

By the numbers

Deep breath in. Deep exhale out. Audible sigh.

(I started this post over 2 months ago and haven't had the courage to finish it for several reasons. But tonight...)

Please understand me, the numbers on the scale do not define us. Do not. My character is not directly proportional to the size of my thighs.  One comforting thing about working on this particular post is looking back at myself and my sizes through the years. And I see the same girl. The things that are wonderful about me were wonderful about me at my highest and lowest weight. The faults and vices I carry with me have plagued me at every weight. I have had great friends and great fun at all sizes. I wouldn't change a moment. My scale doesn't change who I am as a person. It doesn't change who you are.

It is one indicator of how healthy (or unhealthy) we are. On Tuesday I'll be lecturing on obesity and other related diseases. I'll spare you the lecture, but when our weight goes above a healthy range, our risk for disease rises with every pound, especially once you hit the "obese" category. When I was stepping on the Wii and it would tell me "that's obese" it was also saying "you have an increased risk for heart disease, breast cancer, and diabetes". (Annika always thought it was saying "that's Sophie" and would ask me why it was calling me Sophie.) There are many other factors that play into disease risk: heredity, physical activity, other lifestyle choices; but weight is in the mix. So I decided to change mine.

And not that the scale matters, but people have been asking "how much have you lost?" So I've decided to share, in pictures, my journey with the scale.

Preschool age. Last time I was at a healthy weight.

That's me in the bee costume. About the time my weight started the rise above healthy levels...I'm sure the two are unrelated. I later inspired a Blind Melon CD cover.    
Fourth grade is when my weight really started to rise relative to my height (I looked at my school records). Not coincidentally, that was the same year our family went through some stressful crisis situations. Enter emotional eating. And I had really bad hair. So no pictures. I have a little dignity left.

Junior High, High School, and college weight was in the 190's. Luckily I was active (this was taken before a triathlon) or I would have easily been 300+ pounds. Seriously. I had food issues. 

After college I lost about 25 pounds to be at 172ish. I met Andrew, got married, and stayed close to that weight until getting pregnant with Annika.

I gained 50 pounds during my pregnancy with Annika. I was 223 right before delivery. I lost about 30 of that before getting pregnant with Aaron. I thought "I can't gain that much again" so I was better about my eating and my weight before delivery was 219. In this picture Aaron is 4 months old and I'm around 205. Over the next year I lost 10 with exercise and trying to eat healthy. The following year the same thing...and that's about where I was stuck. 185. Still lower than my high school/college weight, but above where I wanted to be. Especially considering I have arthritis in my knees that is made worse with excess weight and my HDL's were too low. So if I wanted to live a quality life, I needed to do something.
November 1, 2011. 186 pounds
Weight today: 151. I am 1 pound from being at a "healthy" weight. Do I want to see the 150? Yes. Am I obsessing about it? No. I am very happy where I am. I feel healthy. I've introduced new foods and have been maintaining my weigh with "normal" eating and exercise. My mom (pictured here) & dad have both been on this journey with me and have been so inspiring to me. We enjoyed lots of unhealthy meals over our life we enjoy new veggie recipes together.
So the simple answer would have been:
35 pounds since November

But the story was more of a journey than that:

Over 70 pounds from my highest weight
Over 40 pounds from my high school weight

And I am happy where I am. I feel it's a healthy weight for my knees and for me mentally. I could try and go lower, but I'm not going to be living my life on a "diet" or pursuing magazine images of fitness models. But I am going to continue eating all the healthy vegetables, fruits, and whole foods that helped me lose the weight. But I'm going to be healthy with just enough sugar to be fun.*

* (a phrase stolen from my friend Melody)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Happy 99th Birthday

Today would have been my great-grandma Edna's 99th birthday. I was blessed to spend a lot of time with her while I was growing up. Even though she passed away almost 3 years ago, she has been one of my inspirations to live a healthy, active live.
5 generations (from young to long-lived): me, my mom Danita, my grandma Audrey, great-grandma Edna, great-great grandma Louise

Anyone who knew grandma knew she could not sit still. We even jokingly call my mom "Edna" when she's hustling to clean up the table after a family meal. We would spend a few weeks each summer with her in her small apartment. At that point she would have been in her mid to late 70's. She didn't drive. She would walk everywhere. Each morning we'd follow her "downtown" to run the daily errands. (I think sometimes she just made up errands as an excuse to go downtown because I can't imagine she would have had something to do EVERYDAY. But we walked everyday.) She was constantly cleaning, baking, taking care of her flowers, or taking her daily walk downtown.

And she was healthy.

Great-grandma with Jacque and I in the mid 1980's
She ate well: the yummy concoctions of a German descendant living in northeast South Dakota who had spent many a year at Lutheran potlucks. If you aren't familiar with what kind of spread you could expect from such a wonderful culture imagine ham, casseroles of every kind, lemon breads, chocolate chip cookies, Aunt Sally cookies (my favorite), homemade dill pickles, pasta salads, more casseroles, homemade buns, roast, boiled potatoes, and of course, jello. And she always had to follow dessert with a piece of bread "to get the sweet taste of my mouth." She wasn't a glutton by any stretch of the imagination. But she also wasn't living on spinach and strawberries (unless they were bathed in jello and cool whip).

She was active. She didn't drive, she walked. She kept busy with her hands. And all her activity served her well. She lived independently until she was 93. The last time I was at her apartment we made Aunt Sally of my best memories. I last saw her at her 95th birthday, surrounded by her family and happy as could be. She couldn't hear very well and at that point wasn't walking, but she was still in pretty good healthy. I'm glad I get to remember her that way.

Great-great grandma and Annika in 2006 (age 93)
I'm so blessed I got her habit being active, although I need to spend more time working it into my daily life, like being in the habit of walking instead of driving rather than killing myself with crazy "exercise." Today the kids and I did our errands on foot, and I realized what joy it must have been for great-grandma to run errands with us (and any of her grandkids or great-grandkids). There are conversations and moments that happen when strolling that don't happen when we're all strapped into our seats.

She still inspires me. And I still miss her deeply.
95th Birthday Party

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

Early summer always takes me back to a little peninsula on a little lake in northeast South Dakota. I spent two of my summers working at NeSoDak Bible camp...two of the best summers of my life hands down. Summers filled with lakeside campfires while the sun was setting in the west, early morning polar plunges, breakfast with french toast sticks, serious and silly talks in the cabins, one minute showers, and of course weekends spent in the laundromat and eating Chinese food. But beyond all the fun and silly memories, I cherish moments that deepened my faith.

One weekly event at camp was the Christ hike. A narrator would take the campers around camp to see the life of Christ portrayed in different dramatic scenes...Jesus being baptized by John the Baptizer, the healing of the blind man, the triumphal entry, the garden, the trial, the crucifixion, and (Hallelujah!) the resurrection. I don't think a week went by that I was not touched in some way by the portrayal. I was reminded of one unsettling feeling today as our Pastor preached on the triumphal entry. During the Christ hike, the narrator would line up the campers in two rows as Jesus and his disciples approached (usually four disciples with no donkey...this was a low budget, high impact production). The narrator would start shouting "Hosanna! Praise Jesus!" as others would join in. And I'll admit, there was always an awkward feeling that not many people really wanted to make that public proclamation...and not because they didn't love Jesus. But about 10 minutes later, the onlookers found themselves watching Jesus before Pilate and the narrator would begin the taunts of "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" And this is what has always bothered me, it was much easier to join in the crowd chanting "Crucify Him!" than it was to join the "Hosannas!"

That experience still leaves me unsettled today, but also got me thinking about other areas of my life when I'm all to eager to join in "Crucify Him", but a little short on the "Hosannas!" I admit, I'm all too quick to judge others making what I perceive to be poor choices. I spend way too little effort praising God for how He may be working in their lives. I'm too quick to write someone off as a lost cause when they may be one moment away from finding salvation through Jesus Christ. And sometimes I think many of us Christians shout "Crucify them" about various sins with more vigor than we do spreading the Good News that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again.

So today I chose praise. Praise that God has worked miracles in the lives of my friends. Praise that God is at work in the lives of those who have had painful losses this year. Praise that God is not done working on your marriage. Praise that God is not done healing the hurts from your past. Praise that God has not given up on your loved one that has hit rock bottom. Praise that no matter who rules the land, God rules the nations. Praise that no matter what my sin has been, there is forgiveness through Jesus.

Hosanna! Hosanna!