Monday, July 15, 2013

Favorite Things - Summer Edition

Here are a few things that every time I use them I think "Wow, this is totally great!"  I thought I would share them with you - AND - I would love the inside track on what you consider some of your favorite things.

Continuous spray sunscreen!  

I am a simple girl, and I don't usually buy into the latest and greatest thing.  In fact I am about 90 years old at heart.  If I haven't been using it "forever" then it's not worth the extra bucks to try.  Well, I was wrong about this one!

One of my daycare clients brought a can of this to use on her little one and now it's ALL we buy for the kiddos.  My favorite sunscreen isn't available in the continuous spray (yet).  I love how well it covers and how FAST it goes on.  I am running around after the kids and spraying it on at the same time!  Oh, I'm gettin good...

Yes, it's a multi-tool.  After using David's several times off of his bike, I asked for my own.  They are SO handy for everything from tightening up a pedal clip to adjusting your brakes.  I used his to change out the seat on my mountain bike.  The last straw was when I stopped to help this poor kid on the bike trail and he needed an allen wrench.  I had stuff to fix a flat, but no way to help him that day.  Bummed me out.

My beloved bread machine.  My Mom bought me one at a sale and I used it here and there.  This summer, I have used it every day.  A lady gave me about a dozen bags of flour (she discovered she was wheat intolerant) and I have been making bread (and saving $2/day) for our family.  I would never bake bread in the oven in the summer time, but the bread maker gives me the gorgeousness of fresh bread without the heat.

Our zucchini forest.  Only seven plants, but they have really gone bananas!  I've been picking about two each day and we eat them right away.  I had hoped to have enough to share, but it's early.  And let's face it - the fact that *I* got anything at all to grow is a miracle right there.  Zucchini is so versatile, delicious and good for you that it's easy to see why it's one of my favorites.  Oh and right now its free.....!

So far, so good this summer.  

This is week four of training for Last Blast and the workouts have been a little easier.  Only 1400yd at the pool tonight.  I lifted heavy for legs this morning and hit a new high for squats.  I used my fancy 25lb plates and did 95lbs.  Three sets of ten.  Grrr...

I would love to hear about your training and your favorite things.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I Be the (wo)Man with the Plan

Another great way to keep costs down when feeding your family is to meal plan.  I have been collecting recipes for years from places like SavingDinner, Cooking Light Magazine, and friends and family.  Each week I sit down on Friday and plan 6 suppers to have during the following week.  I shop on Friday evenings to ensure that I have all of the ingredients on hand.

I don't bother planning around weekly sale ads.  My sale shopping is usually done in bulk, like when frozen vegetables or pasta or cheese goes on sale, I buy 20-30 units.  We have about 15 recipes that I rotate over and over with 5 new ones from magazines or pintrest or whatever thrown in there each month.

I won't lie to you.  I really hate doing the meal planning.  And the shopping.  But I love the cooking.  And I love being able to write on the board what we are having for dinner each night.

This week we will have chicken, ground buffalo, tofu, and turkey kielbasa.  The ground buffalo came from a friend - now that's a good friend.  I love making fried tofu stirfry...the kids fight over who got the most pieces of tofu in their bowl.  It's that good.

Saturday - Skillet Lasagna.  Sort of like my version of Hamburger Helper...only with spinach and grated zucchini and no hamburger...

Grated zucchini disappears in ground beef/turkey
Sunday - Peppers & Pasta. Really just a toss together of pepper slices, turkey kielbasa and some pasta.  Put a little cheese on it, good to go.

Monday - Tofu & Broccoli Stirfry.  The bokchoy was looking really sad this week, so we'll just have broccoli and onions as the veggies.  Ces't la vie.

Tuesday - Meat & Potato Casserole.  Must figure out how to make this one in the skillet.  Turning the oven on in the summer is so counter productive and a waste of energy.  Will most likely sneak grated zucchini into the meat mixture.

Wednesday - Orange/Molasses Glazed Chicken.  Probably do foil packets on the grill for this one and boil some potatoes and of course, have zucchini.

Thursday - Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas.  We'll see if there's a cool-ish day this week for this one...or maybe I'll make the filling and we'll have them as burritos instead to avoid the oven.

Friday - FFY.  That's Fend For Yourself.  *grin*  Usually we tidy up the leftovers or have PB&J's on Friday.  It's also store night, so there's nothing left to eat in the house!
Home grown zucchini smile!

As long as the world keeps spinning and the plants keep growing, this is what we'll be eating.  I usually have to make a trip to the store on Tuesday for apples, bananas and milk...sometimes eggs.  Myself, my husband and our oldest son eat eggs for breakfast every single day.  I like to eat 3 whites and a whole.  More protein and less fat that way.

As for training, this week looks to be a little lighter.  Week 4 of training for Last Blast Y Tri and we get a little break.  I even saw a run labeled "easy."  One week is as far ahead as I'm willing to look.  I survived the leg heavy week - so I can do anything.  Right?

Have a great week, and share some recipes with me, okay?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ways to Eat Well When You're Broke

One of the saddest statistics about obesity in the United States is that it is very closely tied to poverty.  The availability and relative low cost per calorie of fast and packaged foods translate to folks with limited income doing what they can to keep from being hungry, but winding up being malnourished.

It's a crazy phenomena that a person can be 50lbs overweight and be considered deficient.  But when a person consumes a diet high in salt, sugar and fat, and one low in vitamins and minerals what you get is a body that stores excess calories as adipose tissue, yet remains in a state of hunger in an attempt to get the missing nutrients.  A cycle of over eating continues.

There are a lot of different schools of thought regarding nutrition.  Low-carb, low-fat, Paleo, Vegan, and the like.  But for our purposes, we will assume a balanced diet.  One that includes 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables as the base, with a rotating feature of wheat, rice and quinoa as grains and meat about 3 times per week.  Oh, and a few sweets here and there of course.

Here are my suggestions for eating right on a tight budget.

1.  Make peace with repeats.
When looking for ways to eat healthily on a budget, I look for the most nutrient quality + the highest volume for the lowest price.  There aren't hundreds of foods that fit this category.  There are several that I enjoy and those are the ones I purchase weekly.  Some examples are - frozen blueberries, brown rice, lowfat milk, bananas, kale, and canned beans.  I eat these items almost daily, in different preparations.  I do buy different items from time to time, but the sale has got to be really good.  I like high volume for low price!

2.  Get over Organics.
Okay, those with the fattest wallets go ahead and cast the first stone.  I really tried, in the past, to feed the family organic produce.  When that got to be way out of our budget, I then pared down to just the Dirty Dozen in an effort to at least reduce the amount of pesticides that we ingest.  With our financial situation in the last year, I had to get over it completely.  Here's the deal - is it better to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and risk ingesting some pesticides OR is it better to avoid the produce because you can't afford organics and eat primarily processed foods?  Answer - eat produce.  Wash it, compare prices with organic (sometimes it is actually less expensive), and after all of that, just get over it.  Do what you can with what you have.

3.  Learn to love leftovers.
We all know that batch cooking is a great way to save money.  I've found that most any recipe can be doubled or even tripled and saved for later in the freezer.  Or if you're like us, eaten for lunch the next day!  The Dollar Tree has foil pans that are inexpensive and disposable.  Capitalize on produce that is on sale and make a giant batch of a healthy recipe utilizing it.  Freeze some for a busy night when even McDonald's looks like a viable option.  Cook ahead when you have time and energy and don't sweat it when you don't.

4.  Explore the World (of spices).
A large part of maintaining a healthy diet is eating things that you like.  For me, I love Mexican food.  The more cheese and guacamole, the better.  But I discovered that what I really like about the food is the spices. Cumin, garlic, chili powder, herbs like cilantro and veggies such as onions and jalapenos can pretty much make anything taste good in my opinion.  I cook with these flavors often, and find that I need less cheese, sour cream and guac when the level of spice is right!

Another point about spices - making a simple recipe taste totally different by using a different spice set.  Beans and rice is a very inexpensive, nutritious option for the budget minded.  Though, it doesn't have to be boring!  By using different flavored canned diced tomatoes, you can make Mexican, Italian, or Indian rice and beans.  I even change the type of beans - use black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, or lentils.  Figure out what you ethnic spice set you like and then buy those babies in  bulk.

Eating a nutritious diet can seem very confusing with all of the advice out there.  I think that sometimes we get inundated with suggestions on what is best for us.  Admittedly, I would LOVE to be able to go to the grocery store without a calculator and an unlimited wad of cash. I would buy all organic, free-range, grass-fed, sang to and massaged foods...and man, would I feel good about myself.

But making an effort to eat a clean diet, and to feed your family a healthy diet is really something to feel good about.  It's something BIG.  So don't feel badly if you can't do it perfectly.

Just do your best.  Your best is always good enough.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Buckets of Sweat

Do you know your sweat rate?  Walking, running, and biking outside in the heat of summer takes special care.  Knowing the amount that you sweat (and need to drink to replenish) in certain training conditions throughout the year is good info.

After a very sweaty run.
As for me.  I sweat.  A LOT.  I'll tell you a little known secret...I actually wear Men's antiperspirant because I sweat buckets just day-to-day living.  I've tried all the "clinical strength" ones for women.  Nope.  I need one strong enough for a man and made for one, to.

I know that I'm a sweaty beast, so I try to stay hydrated and just drink as much as I can without sloshing when I run and bike.  I've wondered if maybe I shouldn't be eating some salt tablets on runs and bikes over an hour or so.  I'm not a Gatorade drinker, usually.  Too many calories for shorter rides/runs.

For giggles, I measured my sweat rate tonight.  It's fairly un-scientific.  Weight before, run for an hour, weight after, take the difference and convert to ounces.  Oh, and add any liquid you drank on the run.

Tonight it was 85F and 40% humidity.  Here's my numbers:

Difference in weight was: 2.8lbs (!!)
Converted to ounces: 44.8
Add 12oz that I drank on the run: 56.8

So my sweat rate is 56.8 ounces per hour.  Dang.  Feels good to be good at something.  Aw, yeah.  Feels real good.

Susan is pretty good at making mud pies.  I supplied the water. We had already played at the park for a couple of hours this the sand box.  So what do I care if she gets a little dirty-er.  :)

Besides, she's so darn cute when she's happy. Don't worry, I gave her a bath.  I'm sure we'll do it all over again tomorrow anyhow.  At least I hope!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Training today consisted of a lovely weight training session for the biceps, latissimus dorsi and trapezius muscles this morning and a fantastic, but short, 1500 yard swim this evening.  

My swim was a little slow, but I trained a little heavier this morning for my back.  I'm on a muscle building mission.  Muscle burns calories, friends.  My husband laughs at my reasoning...I want to eat more. :)  More muscle means more calorie burn means I get to eat more.


The rest of my day was largely uneventful.  I cleaned house and burned up the vacuum.  I made bread and forgot to cut it.  I cleaned up the toy room like 3 stinking times.  Picked a couple more zucchini, ate some beautiful cinnamon and brown sugar Pop-Tarts for a snack (shh...), grilled and picnic'd for supper and had a pretty okay day.

Praying for a couple of ladies that aren't feeling too good.  Even with all the crap that my back gives me, I'm sill in pretty good health.  And even when it's REALLY bad with my back, I'm out like 3-4 days.  I can't imagine being out for months.  Or out for good.

All things in perspective, eh?

Tomorrow is a "sleep in" day.  Get to snooze until 6:45!  Lots of kids to chase, meals to cook and outdoors to be in.  Yeah...that's why they pay me the big bucks. :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Weights, Gardening, Kids and a Swim

Hello, Monday.  I liked you about as much as I normally do, today.  Our 4 year old son woke us up hollering his little head off at about 4:15 this morning.  He had a question.  Uh-huh.  So after my adrenaline was all charged up (and I answered the stinking question), I was unable to fall back asleep.
My husband gets up at 4:30 to ride his bicycle to work.  I laid around and tried to worry my brains out about money, but decided a better use of my time would be here:
The pain cave.
Today was leg day - and I experimented with listening to music instead of watching Star Trek.  I felt like my time was more "my own" when I had the headphones on.  I don't know...for what its worth, I had a good hour of leg and ab goodness.
I finally figured the banking for the month - and if I keep squeezing these here stones, everything will be fine.  :o)  Ha, ha...yeah, things are tough all over, right?  Me and my whining.  Won't get me anywhere.  As a reward, I went out to water my plants. 
I just wanted to shrink down to itty bitty and live in this beautiful zucchini forest.  I was never very good at growing things until this year.  I really enjoy going out each morning and watering and weeding the living beings.  I used to be a bit of a Flower Child in my early 20' jaded it out of me, might be time to reprise. :)  Where's that tye-dye skirt...
I hadn't seen my daycare sweeties in a few days due to the holiday weekend.  This little guy was so sweet after his nap!  It isn't very often that I can get one of my "big boys" to slow down and snuggle a bit.  It was torture... 
You know, dirty job but somebody has to do it. 

Aw, Kyler - and hubby in the background!

As for training, today, it was Swim Practice Day!  Felt really good after working legs this morning.  I just love to swim.  I feel fluid and free.  I can quietly glide along and try to not make a sound or I can grab and pull water and kick to propel myself as quickly as I can.  I have overcome so much fear and self doubt to call myself a swimmer! 

On a day, like today, where my self esteem is in the toilet, God was listening.  He sent me a cutie-pie to snuggle, a garden blooming, and a skill to work on.  Thank you, Creator of the Universe, for caring for me.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Lincoln Mile

Susan participated in her very first race today!

The Lincoln Mile is a timed, one mile race through Campus in downtown Lincoln.  David ran with Susan and they had a blast!

Susan and Mom before the race.

Fun with the parking meter.
Time to RUN!

My little buddy waited patiently for sis.
A great race and a strong finish!

She races for cookies. :)  Smart kid!
 I was so incredibly proud of her! I almost cried when they came in to finish and the announcer read her name over the speaker.  Silly, right?  Well, she's my baby girlie and I can be silly if I wanna.

The race was super well organized, as always, and the Lincoln Track Club did a stupendous job of honoring every runner of every age and ability.  This was another run in the Kids Grand Prix.  As an additional event with the adult runs, they organize a kids fun run on about 7 events through the season.  The kids even get a prize at the end.  Yay!

As for my training - I was pretty pooped today.  I underestimated the impact of a three hour workout.  I slept like a rock (partly due to the pain pill I took for my back!).  My body was extremely unhappy about 2:20 on the bike.  Sheesh.  I was happy to wake up feeling better this morning and even better as the day progressed.

My friends were praying.  I could feel it!

This afternoon, I did some speed intervals on my treadmill.  It was 94F outside, so there was no way I was doing them outside.  I experimented with walking the recoveries and had a much better experience.  My speed intervals were able to be pushed even faster. back didn't hurt at all during the run!

Tomorrow is leg day...EEEPS!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Looking Ahead

I finished up the second brick workout of training and my body is rebelling a bit, as well it should.

The bike portion was 34 miles (roughly 2 hours and change) through the bike paths of our city.  I got home, changed shoes and hat and forced myself to run 3 miles.  Seriously forced.  By the time I got off the bike it was already 11am - I know, I know, stupid.  It was at least 100 degrees outside and a thousand percent humidity.  Okay more like 80 degrees...but it felt hotter.

I just cant train my legs anymore!!

I am proud of myself for completing the workout.  My run was slow - but that's okay.  I was really hurting during the last mile and got some good "embrace the suck" training done.  Shutting off the little voice of doubt is way hard when the body isn't willing to comply.

I can't tell you how happy I am to see that next weekend there is NO BRICK WORKOUT planned!  Thank you, coach Garmin, thank you!!

 Me and my legs did cry when I looked at the next few days, though.

Or after a long run...
Tomorrow - Tech Run.  That's a nice way of saying speed work.  Six 2 minute repeats of mod/high intensity with 1 minute of recovery between each.  I'm walking the recoveries...

Monday - LEG DAY.  Oh, the pain that just two words can inspire.  Wish my gym wasn't in the basement...

Tuesday - Cycling day with a 16k (about 10 miles) time trial.  That means, after a 15 minute warm up, I get to go at "best effort" for 10 miles to use as an indicator of my fitness level.

Wednesday - Hey, lets torture the arms now, mm-kay?  How's about we train biceps, lats and traps in the morning and go for a swim (with a 400m time trial) in the afternoon.

Thursday - Hope the legs are okay because it's time for a Tempo Run!  Our 4 year old always thinks I'm saying Temple Run when I say that.  I tell him that Temple Run is almost as fun as a Tempo Run.

Friday - only training shoulders, chest and tris and CARDIO REST.


So, that's my week of self abuse training.  I try not to plan to far ahead.  My body has a history of non-compliance, lately.

I'm sitting with heat on my back and will probably get to posing a bit.  I took some Vitamin I and supercharged it with a stray pain pill when it didn't help at all.

Now on to the mission of "re-fueling."  Feed me!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Season Two in Triathlon

Since the Marathon Fail, I haven't done much structured training.

Or writing.

Or anything but working out and feeling sorry for myself.

I did start a weight training program and have stuck with that - so I haven't been doing nothing.

No races, though, and not much running.  This year we had to pare back on the race entries.  It gets expensive!  When two people are involved, it gets really pricey.  So, we picked 3 events we were both really interested in and just paid for those.

Last weekend, David rode in 5/500 with his brother.  And without me.  My body is a big wuss and I had a bad back flare the weeks leading up to our Century Ride.  I didn't get my training in and I didn't feel anywhere near ready to ride.

And I didn't feel like it.  Frankly, I have felt pretty depressed since May.  I try to ignore it, but just last weekend I realized that I was in a pit.  I'd been digging it slowly and it was time to climb out.

I made a decision to suck it up and get over it as much as possible when we started training for Last Blast this week.  It will be our first Oly Tri done together in September.  We've both completed the distance previously, but never competed it.

Here's to my second season in Tri!  Woo-hoo!!

The training plan that we are following is in the "intermediate" category on Garmin's website (totally free by the way) and had us doing  17 miles on the bike followed by a 3 mile run brick workout the very first Saturday.  I was a little skeptical about my fitness level as I haven't done any bricks since last fall.  I was pleasantly surprised with myself.  

I guess all that running during January through May was worth something.

I'm excited to have a goal to shoot for, though I still feel somewhat "meh" about things in general.  It takes time.  To be so excited and prepared for something and then to just not be allowed to continue...just can't tell you how that feels.  Makes my chest hurt still when I think about it.

Shifting the focus to my sore as all get out legs.  I think tomorrow's long run is going to be cussing today's leg focused weight training.  I did get a little swim in tonight to keep moving - about half pull sets.  

Time for a little snooze - I need like 9 hours of sleep these days!