Summer Salad Doldrums Solved, Out of the Blue!

Blue Diamond that is! One of the cues that summer is here for me is the wealth of fresh produce finally available. Most people that know me know my weekend routine used to be to hit the Farmers Market on Saturday and load up my car with all kinds of fresh goodies to last all week. Now I am out and about most of Saturday so it makes less sense to load up on a ton of things to get sad and soggy in my car all day.
There are some things that are just fine in my cooler bag all day long, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, heartier veggies, but now I am a twice a week farmers market girl, and I supplement that with lots of salad fixins from a variety of places. I am not a slave to any one market. I shop everywhere from Whole Foods, to Trader Joes, Costco to Target, I even pick things up at the local gas station (Kwik Trip) where I can score bananas for $.38/Pound!

One of the things that happens to be during the summer though is that I fall into a salad rut. I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, or maybe it’s just me. I can only stomach the same food for so long and then I don’t want to even think about it again. The problem is, I live in Minnesota… and if the winter that we just escaped is any indication of what we are in for in the future… I need to take full advantage of every morsel of fresh, beautiful flavorful produce while it is here. The seasons are never long enough, and I always no matter how sick I was of eating something find myself longing for just one more good *whatever* come winter. It’s usually a good summer tomato, with just a pinch of salt and pepper on it.

So I have taken to trying to keep my salads as interesting as possible… Impossible right? Sure it’s super easy to make a salad taste good if you add a a few ounces of of cheese, and maybe some croutons, or wonton strips those are popular now. How about meat… if some is good lets put more on! So instead of 4 oz of chicken let’s do 3oz of chicken, 3 of ham, and we need bacon right, and while we’re at it an egg. You might as well deep fry chicken fingers and go ahead and pour on some full fat salad dressing because you aren’t actually doing yourself any favors.

To make salads that I find interesting I usually play my own version of kitchen roulette.  I start with a bed of some kind of green.  Generally this is NOT iceberg, I personally feel if you are going to eat a salad iceberg is a waste of time.  If it’s what you like FINE eat it… you’re getting water, and that’s great, but try branching out to a romaine if you like a crisper lettuce, or a butter lettuce if you like something softer.  Spinach also makes a great salad base.  I also have been known to use Kale, Mixed greens, micro greens, it all depends on what looks good and what I have. I eat a lot of salads… Sometimes they have fruit… sometimes they have bacon… and sometimes they are NUTS! (Here are a few examples)

UpTown Cafeteria My Salad with Bacon

Sometimes I Custom Order Salads when I am Out to Brunch

 

Salad wiht Blueberries and Strawberries in need of Almonds

And sometimes we put fruit in our salads (this had cheese and Blue Diamond Almonds on the side!)

 

Once the greens are in play I have to decide what mouth feel I want for the salad. Blue Diamond’s Tastemakers program sent me a package with their Whole Natural and their Rosemary & Black Pepper to experiment with.  I knew I needed to choose ingredients that could stand up to a bolder flavor.  Rosemary is an intense flavor, I rarely cook with it because if you aren’t careful it is super easy to overseason with it.  Then you end up with Christmas Tree Chicken instead of Rosemary Chicken.

Salad with Blue Diamond  Rosemary & Black Pepper AlmondsFor this salad I chose to use a butter lettuce, which is a more tender lettuce,  but would balance well with the crunch of the almonds.  I added some avocado, turkey, olives, red peppers, onions, snow peas, banana peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to this monster sized salad! The items I chose to add provided a good balance of textures as well as colors to the salad. I topped it off with a sprinkling of the Blue Diamond Black Pepper Rosemary Almonds, as well as a few of the Whole Naturals instead of using croutons.

The salad filled my stomach up so well.  I stayed satisfied for hours thanks to the healthy balance of fat and protein, not to mention the carbohydrate that mixed together by pairing these almonds with my salad.

I posted about this salad on my Instagram account, and posed the question to my friends, and now I want to hear from you as well… what do you put on your salad?  The one I mentioned above required no salad dressing.  The density of flavors from the avocado and the tenderness of the lettuce, and juices from the ripe summer veggies meant I did not need to add anything more.  Have you ever added Blue Diamond almonds to your salad?  I had previously added the Salt and Vinegar variety to salads, instead of adding my usual oil and vinegar dressing but I really enjoyed the change that the Rosemary & Black Pepper almonds brought to the dish.

handfull of blue diamond whole natural almonds

And remember… generally about 23 almonds is a serving… you don’t need to have a whole serving to top your salad… you can put a small handful on a cutting board and sliver or chop them down to feel that same satisfying crunch for far fewer calories or points.

 

 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds They sent me a 6oz can of Whole Natural almonds and a 6oz can of Rosemary & Black Pepper almonds and I ate them! THEY aren’t paying for my opinions, these are my thoughts. 🙂

Feedback Because I’m Still #JustTrollin

So… Fitbloggin is over… back to the real world. Work, life, love, relationships, friendships, be them old or new everything in my life falls under the microscope when I return.  Every morsel that enters my field of vision is being scrutinized extra carefully.  THIS is honestly part of what I look forward to coming back from Fitbloggin.

At the conference so many of us talk about having out batteries “charged” or “recharged” I think of it as being supercharged… and with the creation of #justtrollin and #tribelove I hope that it will allow the charge to last just a bit longer.  I know it wont extend the selfie-shelf life or bring the warmth of the amazing hugs along with it but it might just keep the lazer focus.

Focus… something that I need.  I have heard from several people who read the blog in my offline life, that don’t comment (or rarely do so) that they feel the empowerment that is coming from this blog right now.  The trick is going to be keeping up with it.

I am SO THRILLED it seems that those around me that read my last #JustTrollin blog understood what was going on.  They understood that what I am asking for is to be called on the bull that is going on.  I want to be held accountable.  I don’t want to order something healthy then eat the fries off your plate and have you say, oh its okay… a bite wont hurt you.  I don’t want someone telling me you deserve a treat you worked out, or you need to treat yourself… I need someone reminding me that those things aren’t getting me closer to my goals.

It isn’t that I don’t know that the cupcake is not a great choice, even if it fits within the calorie or weight watchers plan for the day… but there are better choices. It isn’t that I can NEVER have the fries, but I need to be responsible for the decision to have them not take them off someone else’s plan. It seems like people are getting on board with this. Those that aren’t understanding this… well… your relationship with me may have to be put on lockdown… just like those treat days.

The thing about this blog is, since I took the job change that led to my weight gain I did nothing but bitch about what the problem was. I bitched about what I couldn’t get to work. I whined and complained that things were hard and I didn’t have time. Well you know what life is hard and we have changed the situation.

I am no longer in that job, and while I am starting to have progress I am still not giving 100% to what is actually one of my top priorities. I am okay with the fact that one of my priorities is to lose weight. I am okay being selfish in wanting to not be fat anymore… more than not wanting to be fat I just want to feel good. I want to feel “healthy”.

I don’t want my blog to be a reflection of a big whiner that just makes excuses. As Dan pointed out at the welcome mixer, I have a story. I have the confidence to overcome the obstacles that have been placed in my way over and over again. If I can’t go over them I have gone under, or around or even through them.

Why should my weight be any different… well the truth is it isn’t any different. I guess I am again calling myself out in this post for half assing too much of my life. The last two Saturdays I have broken some major walls down in my own active life as far as steps and actual amounts of activity go.

I plan on being active tomorrow, (July 5th) It is going to be hot, and gross, but Sunday (July 6th) is my birthday… I will be 33, and it is time to celebrate another year entering it strong and feeling empowered. The time to feel like a victim for my circumstances has come and gone.

I am leading by example, for myself, for my friends, and for the people who I don’t know. I will not end up a statistic. I will not be someone people have to mourn and miss because I died too young. The time is now.

 

 

Saying Thanks

So I spoke up in my Weight Watchers meeting today. I do that a lot. My meeting is full of amazing people. You wouldn’t think at 0700 on a Saturday morning people would be so lively but truly the meeting is awesome! The thing about the first meeting of the day on a Saturday is the people who are at the meeting… really want to be there and are truly motivated to, well… get shit done. I am a front row sitter. Studies show people who sit in the front row lose more weight… that isn’t why I sit in the front row… I just like it better there, and I didn’t know about the statistic when I started sitting in the front row. I am always so thankful for all the information all the members have, and I like giving back to my meetings when I feel like I have something valuable to share.
Today we were talking about “BLT’s” bites licks and tastes, but more specifically being accountable for them. I felt the need to bring the group off on a momentary tangent on accountability. Specifically not taking your team for granted. I had gotten myself into a routine with my new job of going to the gym 3 times a week. I had been eating well, and then… they closed our pool for cleaning. This shouldn’t be a big deal they do it every year, and the nice part a about being a YMCA member is I have other locations I can go to.
Instead of going to another location I started just walking as my workout. While it was an okay thing, when the pool opened back up I didn’t head back immediately. It took a nudge, a strong nudge from my support team to get me to get back into my routine.
Once I got back to the gym, after one strong push, Robb said he had hoped that I wasn’t upset that he said I needed to get back to the gym and that he was only doing what I had asked him to do. It was in that moment that I realized how very crucial it is that we thank our support teams when they step up for us. When we ask for help we do so for our benefit. It’s easy to forget that it can be very difficult for those close to us to step into the “danger zone” and mention things that may be deemed sensitive subjects.
For me things like portion control or going to workout when mentioned by people I haven’t explicitly asked to help keep me accountable might be enough to turn me into a raging bitch! It would make me feel vulnerable and violated. When approached by someone I have deemed safe and supportive it puts things in a different light.
I wanted to remind others to thank their support people and not take them for granted. It can be difficult for people to speak up even when we ask them to do so. Just keep this in mind as you move along. If your support person/persons are mentioning things to you, make sure you are thanking them, because speaking up is hard!

Weekend Struggle

What is it about the weekend that just seems to make it so damn easy to stop doing what you know works so well for yourself?  For me I find that it is so easy for me to skip drinking the proper amount of water that needs to be consumed.  I will drink my coffee, and grab a coke zero or a diet root beer when I feel “the thirst” finally hit me.  I am not being proactive about my healthy habits.

My Plant nanny nags me, give me a drink and get one for yourself.  I look at my water bottle and think, It’ll be okay I drink enough.  I have my activity level set as sedentary because realistically I can’t keep up with over 200 ounces of water a day which is what it recommends for my body weight.

I want to be healthy, I want to live balanced.  I don’t however want to spend my entire day in the bathroom.  Saturdays and Sundays are in my mind supposed to be spent relaxing.  The darkness of a movie theater is the best place to be on a hot day.  Sipping on a cold soda shoveling handfuls of salty buttery hot fresh popcorn into your houth in the dark is how I wish I could spend every spare moment of my life.  It can be animated, horror, action the genre matters not, I love the feeling of it… despite people on their cell phones… and I will get up and tell you to get off your phone.  I have been the person to have people ejected from a theater, I have also been the person to tell my own friends to put their phones away.  (I know buzzkill)  This isn’t about movies though.  This is about choices.

Monday morning I didn’t attend my normal Aquatic Bootcamp at work because it was a holiday for me.  Opening Day is a bit of a big deal where I work now and we had the day off to watch the game.  I woke up, got myself a good breakfast at home, and made my way to one of the gyms closer to my home.  There was a shallow water aerobics class I was going to take.  It was, unchallenging.  I pushed myself as much as I could but I felt that the workout was just not sufficient.  While this was a victory of sorts, showing me that I am not as bad off physically as I have built myself to be in my mind, this was supposed to be my activity for the day.

Wednesday morning I arrived to my normal Aquatic Bootcamp class to find that the instructor wasn’t going to be there.  She was sick.  I was faced with a choice, stay and workout or go to work early/get coffee etc.  I stayed.  Others played waterball/volleyball in the pool, I grabbed the water barbells and worked it out.  I did my best to get a workout that felt comparable to what I was missing. However when I honestly look at it I felt a little defeated having not been “worked out” by an instructor.

Friday we had another “weather event” straight out of hell. If hell were made of ice and snow.  I set my alarm early, 5:30, and I still didn’t make it to class at 07:00.  It was 07:30 by the time I made it to the area where I work.  It was a very tough commute.  I felt defeated that I didn’t make it to the gym three times.  I did however keep my water and food on track.

Friday night I went out to dinner with Robb to celebrate his birthday a little early.  We had steaks, and I chose a sweet potato and veggies over some of the naughtier things on the menu.  I ate all of my allotted food yesterday.  I drank all the waters.

As I was in bed last night I found myself looking at all the possible pool workouts for the weekend.  Pickings are slim for sure.  Lots of kids in swim lessons on weekend mornings. I suppose it makes sense, but it is disheartening.  Then there was a glimmer of hope.  A location not too far away, 08:15 Aqua Zumba.

Visions of the fun from Fitbloggin danced in my head as I drifted off to sleep thinking about Zumba, and the ease on the joints the water provided.  At 08:00 this morning my keycard was scanned in at the gym.  I owed it to myself.  I missed a workout.  This wasn’t a makeup workout, this is the beginning of a new relationship with my body.  I am working so hard on ending the cycle of self hate that exists in myself.  Working to end the train that you’re not good enough parade that goes through my head.

I am choosing to focus on one thing at a time that I can change within a day.  I won’t be the same thing each day, and may not be the whole thing each day.  Right now I know that I struggle to drink enough water when I am doing “other” things.  That has to stop.  Water before coffee on weekends will be mandatory.  Slowly I am learning how to take care of myself, by listening.  Are you listening to your body? Is there something you are doing during the week that you aren’t doing on the weekend that might be leading to self sabotage?

 

 

Treat Day

I think I am blessed in a way. My job isn’t one that has “Treat day”. We don’t usually have a ton of snacks in the office. Around the holidays there are treats, I have been known to supply the office with baked good and snacks on an occasion but overall it isn’t a minefield like I hear some places are.
It is a pizza junkies dream as I have mentioned before. I would say 3 days a week or so there is delivery pizza coming into the office. With me being off gluten and dairy it isn’t even asked of me if I want to go in on a pie. … Even before I started my “No Dairy, No Wheat, No Fun” Mantra as the boys here call it I wasn’t much for ordering in except an occasional Sushi delivery, or Jimmy Johns Unwich. I usually bring my food… I don’t get a lunchbreak during my 10 hour day… so I need food that I can eat cold, I strive for things that can sit around. Hot coffee Cold water? What are those things!
One of my new employees called in today to tell me she would be stopping by the office to drop off some paperwork. I said it wasn’t necessary, to which she said she had a treat and “You should never turn down a treat”. My mind immediately went into self-hate-negative space… which it does, but I am learning to recognize, and I though, never turning down things is how I ended up the size of a house. I didn’t let myself stay in that headspace long and told Patty I would see her soon.
When Patty arrived she placed a gallon size bag of cookies on my desk… My eyes went wide like cookie monster ready to go on a binge! I immediately grabbed the bag said thanks so much! Everyone will really enjoy these, and turned to give them to my supervisor without another thought. I plopped them on his desk, without taking one. She looked upset, and I explained in a playful fun way that the guys here all say I am on the no dairy no gluten no fun diet. I said that I appreciated it but that I just couldn’t eat it.
She understood, no drama, the world didn’t end. I have spent a good bit of time thinking about this whole, treat yourself thing. I do treat myself… I treat myself by eating the foods that nourish my body. I treat myself by buying the foods that I like to eat. I treat myself by enjoying a better cup of coffee… I am sorry buy Folgers just isn’t my cup of choice. I will drink it, but I prefer something better. I am not one to blankly turn down a treat but I am one to be selective of what treats I have these days. A treat doesn’t have to be defined as food, it can be getting a new bottle of nail polish, or a new dress. It can be a trip to a new gym to try out a guest pass, or even making an extra deposit in a savings account for something bigger.
It is all about framing what you want and finding and fighting for what you want out of life. For me those cookies… they aren’t the treats I am looking for right now. Yes the looked so good, and I LOVE the thought that was behind them… but I will let everyone else in the office enjoy them, and rest more soundly knowing that I treated myself by making the choice that respected my body.
I may or may not have treated myself to a can of the new Apple-berry LaCroix fizzy water when I came home from work, and I may have even changed my dinner plans with the crockpot cooked chicken to spicy pb2 chicken and cantaloupe. I feel good about my day. The sun was out, the puddles of slop were abundant for splashing in… and now I will retire to bed… on schedule!
xoxo ❤

Focus

So, 2014 is underway… I look at my blog and I have FOUR blogs that I started, and never got back to… Do I lack focus on my blog? Possibly… more specifically I have been reaching out microblogging with my instagram account (Do you follow me over there? my name is KrisGetsHealthy) 2014 the year of Honor, honoring myself, my choices… making sure I am focusing on what I need to do to set my lifestyle up for those sustainable changes we need to make to have a lifestyle stick.

Since I took my new job back at the end of 2011/beginning of 2012 I have had an increase in my bottom line… meaning my rear end… not cool! My focus has been to try and make my life, that WAS working to get my weight down, work with my new 10 hour days of high stress near non-stop desk work.

I found that looking at the big picture was SO overwhelming, in as much as it wasn’t working. You can’t manage everything at once. There is too much to control! I have taken to breaking it down into more manageable parts and I have been trying to establish each part into it’s own manageable little bubble.

The first thing I worked on was to establish a bedtime routine… in my job I need to be sharp, I need to look at the bigger picture, visualize traffic patterns for the time of day, cross reference with the general layout of the state/city in my mind, estimate recovery times from airports, think critically etc etc etc… Dealing with brain fog from fibromyalgia is bad enough some days, add a lack of sleep and my goodness a lack of sleep spirals my brain into a VERY messy place!

I have a fairly strict bedtime that I keep. I am slightly more flexible on the weekend, but not every weekend… and if I do it one day I try to keep the regular bedtime the next. (for example if I am up Friday night, then Saturday night I don’t usually stay up). I sleep with headphones on, (sleepphones actually) that I can pull down over my eyes and use as a blackout mask. This is not to say that I don’t have insomnia come visit me on occasion… I have melatonin and a few herbal sleep support things I can take. There is this awesome thing called Sleep Water that I drink on occasion that helps too. My sleep routine is, I would say, pretty well established, it is a habit. A healthy living lifestyle habit. People that tell me they get 4 hours or 5 hours a night on a regular basis and can’t figure out why they aren’t feeling well, or can’t do X (whether that is focus, or be on time, or lose weight, or whatever) I just want to grab and shake… sleep is a foundational element.

So now that I have that habit well established I am looking at what are the bigger holes in my life… what are the things that are SO IMPORTANT to health, and wellness and well being, that I just don’t have a handle on. One of the things that happens with my job being so busy is that I forget to drink..not just water, but anything… So many night I would come home from work and find that I had only had a cup of coffee in the morning, and then whatever I was drinking with dinner! How horrible for my body!! I took to taking a 3 liter bottle of water with me to work, and I’d work to drink that during the day. I did pretty good with that, since it was in my line of sight most of the day. Having something visually there means I can’t avoid it, I can’t ignore it. However ambient water gets old… it started cold in the morning but by the end of my 10 hour shift it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. What is a girl to do… if I don’t see it I wont drink it.

The last few weeks I have been having great success at monitoring my water intake with an app from the iPhone marketplace called Plant Nanny… it lets you set reminders to “water your plant and water yourself.” You set your weight, your activity level and it tells you how much water your body needs. I am set to sedentary since I have a desk job, and since even when I hit the gym it isn’t much activity… it would put me at normal at most. The default reminders you can set are every 2 hours between 8am and 10pm, I have mine set to start at 0400 and run till 0500 reminding me every hour to drink. Even if I don’t go get a drink right away when the little alert pops up it at least puts the idea in my head that I need to be hydrating my body. I need to make drinking a routine that comes as naturally to me as going to bed. I need to focus on hydrating my cells, pushing toxins out of my body, and helping my body learn that perhaps what I felt as hunger is thirst, or a combination of both.

So here I am bringing my #Focus to one thing at a time. I can’t do everything, I am spread so thin at work trying to control everything that I am glad to be finding a balance and being able to pick and choose one healthy goal to focus on here in my everyday healthy life. Finding the focus and determination not to give up. Honoring my body by making sure that I am establishing some kind of healthy routine, and making sure that I am putting it into place. The more you do something the more ingrained it becomes.

Do you track your water or do you find it’s just one more thing to try and keep track of? How much sleep do you get a night? Do you try to get 8 hours? What kinds of healthy living routines do you focus on in your life?

Behold the Power of Seeds!

Watermelon season is coming to a close, autumn is rolling into Minnesota. The leaves are changing colors, starting to fall some trees are even bare already! The colors that used to be so bright and vibrant at the farmers market have become shades of tan, brown and orange. Fall is arriving. I am sad to see my Farmers market close date nearing, my Saturday ritual of going and seeing my regular vendors, and meeting new ones will soon end. Sharing my knowledge with them and learning from them as well will be put into storage with my shorts until next year.

Out come the pumpkin spiced everythings, the autumn smells linger in the air. This draws me back to the roots of indoor shopping. I don’t spend as much time in grocery stores during summer months as I do in the winter. The produce, while of quality, just isn’t as flavorful as the stuff I get from the farmers themelves. I made a trip recently to Costco for some things and was SUPER THRILLED to spot one of my favorite treats there.

Do you remember me doing a giveaway a while back for Somersault Snacks? The delightful sunflower seed snack that I discovered at a local, expensive, grocery store? Anyway Costco is now carrying these in “Costco size bags”… this smells like disaster right? The awful bag of doom syndrome? Actually because these have as much protein as a serving of almonds, with about half the fat (and fewer calories) I find myself satisfied with a serving and able to just shut the bag even without having to portion them out!

To my delight this awesome product, that I adore and share at many bring a dish or item to share parties, has gone mainstream it seems. The team over at Somersault contacted me last week to let me know that their products are now not only available at Costco but also available at Target!!! Hello Target, my love, my obsession. I live in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 (lakes) Targets. This is awesome news for me! Why do I like bringing this as an item to share? How about the fact that they are NUT FREE and the cinnamon crunch ones (my favorite ones) are VEGAN, contain NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS and are DAIRY FREE (ok I like to serve them with a goat cheese at parties but still)! For those that are concerned about GMO’s the product is also certified NON-GMO.

There is so much stuff in the news about antioxidants being so important for your body, and fat being a key building block for your body, well this has the good fats! Seeds of all kinds might just be the key to unlocking what our bodies need! As many readers know I have some inflammatory conditions, among other things and it is being shown that sunflower seeds are carrying anti-inflammatory properties, as well as something that calms the muscles!! How cool is that! Have you ever craved something? As a kid I would chow down on bags of sunflower seeds, you know the bags of the salted kind in the shell. Spitting the shells into the woods or wherever in our big grassy lawn. In my office now the guys chew seeds and spit into old bottles. I wonder what their bodies are craving, because no one can have an open bag of seeds without sharing, and the same goes for when I bring out the Somersaults! Everyone loves them!

There truly is a flavor for every taste Pacific Sea Salt is probably the most neutral of them all… Salty Pepper reminds me of the Salt and Pepper Potato chips I fell in love with on the east coast. I have never found a suitable replacement here in the midwest (and thats perfectly ok!!). There is the zesty Santa Fe Salsa which is a great topping (or at least I think so ) for a salad. Then there are what I like to call the dessert gems… the Dutch Cocoa, which is great if you love chocolate, and the gem of the bunch, the first one I ever tried, the one I love… their newest flavor the Cinnamon Crunch. It is the perfect amount of sweet and savory to dance and flip on your tounge!

Have you ever heard of Somersaults? I had seen them at Caribou Coffee many times before I actually tried them… I didn’t know what they were, and I was scared to try them. They come in a variety of sizes, and if you’re afraid of that big costco sized pack, or even the multi-serving bags in general Target is selling multi packs so you won’t even have to portion them out yourself! Just grab and go!

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I keep some in my desk, I keep some in my car, I keep some in my purse… I have eaten them at the movies, on the phone, waiting for the doctor when they were a few hours behind. They keep for months! So I encourage you to go out and try them… I also encourage you to leave a comment on this post if you have or haven’t tried this awesome product… because you just might receive an email from me, I do like to share afterall!!

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