Tag Archives: shape up for summer

Summer Start-Up and Shape-Up Sum-Up

30 Jun

June 29 2011

So yesterday was the start of my summer vacation (okay, okay, I’ll shut up) and I took the time to do stuff that needed doing – like weeding my garden. But then I was out there, and, as happens every time, I can’t believe how big it’s all getting (I sound kinda like a proud parent, no?) and realized it had been a while since I gave you all an update…so here you go!

Just look how big that pepper is! I just need it to turn yellow and it’ll be ready (I could eat it green, but I MUCH prefer the flavour when fully ripened). I also have a poblano almost ready to go. The tomatoes I have are small and green, but they’re comin’. And there are tiny zucchinis that I think will be ready in a matter of weeks (maybe even days)….expect a boatload of zucchini recipes/experiments to appear in the days ahead. Bean and pea plants shooting up nicely, and big bunches of kale. And a prize goes to anyone who can tell me what that funky-coloured bug in the bottom right of the collage is…I saw it laying in the dirt when I was out weeding/picking.

I used something from the garden as part of the first (of many) at-home summer lunches. Any guesses? I’ll tell you in a bit, but first it’s time for (drumroll please):

THE OFFICIAL SHAPE UP FOR SUMMER SUMMARY!

I created this challenge to last for the month of June, in a large part to help motivate me to get back on track after my Vegas vacation and look good for the months ahead. Well, June has come, and as of tomorrow, it will be gone…so, how did I do? I’m posting my original goals, and below each one I’ll comment on my progress.

– eat low-carb, mostly whole foods, one day a week (I felt so fabulous after doing it last week that I want to continue)

I achieved this for each week in June (and even this week, which was just a partial week). I definitely don’t regret this. It pushed me to choose more whole, filling foods and get a bit more creative in the kitchen. I’m also a big believe in switching things up (both diet and exercise-wise) so your body doesn’t get used to things, and this dietary change helped me accomplish this. I don’t plan to make this a weekly feature in July, as it’s summer, and I just want to enjoy and not be so strict…but I will likely have a couple low carb meals (as there are some I just really enjoy) and treats now and again.

– use self-control and make smart choices at food functions in June (showers, graduations, birthdays, Father’s day) and bring a healthier option wherever possible

I’m pretty proud of myself on this one. In June, I had my grandma’s birthday, a day out with BBQ tour and frozen yogurt, Father’s Day, my cousin’s grad party and a church potluck. I wasn’t perfect, but I was pretty smart about what I made/brought, and used self-control around all the “special occasion foods,” and, most importantly, didn’t leave feeling totally stuffed….this is huge for me!

– push myself in my workouts, especially in strength training, to increase intensity and feel the burn

So-so on this one I’d say. I did get a new workout from my trainer, which was good, but not as killer as I’d hoped (I measure based on how sore I am afterward). I got in a couple of good workouts (one AWESOME interval session on the treadmill), and of course, a couple of Military Tone classes (when they weren’t cancelled). But I think my month-long Athletic Club Membership will REALLY help with this goal, even though it will be mostly in July. If the soreness I experienced from TRX class (even 2 days later) is any indication, then good things are ahead!

And, my late addition:

– try to fit in 10 minutes of at-home hula hooping 4 days a week

I’d say this was more like 3 days, but hey, that’s still 30 minutes of exercise I wasn’t getting before, right? I’ll admit, I haven’t done any this week, but I’ve been a little more consumed with exercise due to my new membership and all the classes and stuff I’m trying out, so it’s not like I’m just sitting on my butt. I don’t think all be as faithful in July, and it’s getting a bit old to be honest, but I’ll try not to let that hoop collect dust, and still get out there at least once a week.

I do feel like I’ve taken off the vacation pounds Smileand I think I mentioned before that one of my pairs of “tight pants” weren’t so tight as I remembered…yay! Smile As you know, I’m anti-scale, so I didn’t do any weighing, and didn’t take any measurements either.

I just want to thank all of you for making me accountable. You may not think that you’re doing anything just by reading my blog, but by your simple act of checking in and following along, you push me to succeed. I’ll admit, this little challenge was in the back of my mind when I felt like blowing off a hoop session or caving to unhealthy cravings…so THANK YOU!

And if you took me up on the challenge and shared your goals with me (or even if you didn’t), I wanna know how you did! Please leave comments on this post and/or email me to let me know how it went (Donna, didn’t we say we needed some lululemon to celebrate? Winking smile).

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So, in case you didn’t guess, the garden ingredient I used was kale to make kale chips (shocker, I know). The kale chips went along side one of my absolutely delectable homemade veggie burgers. I served this burger on a toasted thin bun with some grainy mustard, a melted cheese slice, a baked (at the same time/temp as the chips) portabella, salsa, a nice juicy tomato slice and a slice of Vidalia onion.

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This guy was SO MESSY! I can’t even begin to describe how messy it was. I think next time if I didn’t toast the bun it would be a bit easier to eat. But the combo of toasted bun, kinda mushy burger, ooey-gooey cheese, juicy mushroom and tomato and crisp onion made for a burger that dripped and oozed (in the best possible way) everywhere. I needed a paper towel for this bad boy. I think I’ve heard Food Network celebs say that the best burgers are messy. If so, this one would certainly qualify!!!

I’m leaving today to go to Buffalo for an overnight shopping (and grocery) trip with my mom (yep, Canada Day spent in the US…aren’t we patriotic?). Expect to see updates on the food shenanigans over the weekend…I’m planning to splurge a little bit on some 80/20 treats after the success of the Shape Up challenge (hopefully I won’t go TOO crazy).

And, since this is a summer post, I just HAVE to share with you a song that I am absolutely LOVING, and I have decided will be me theme song for the summer. I shared it with my BFF and she is as equally enthralled as I am. I heard it on CBC radio (I know, random), and it is called You, Me & Optimus Prime, sung by someone named James Struthers, who also happens to be Canadian. Basically, it’s about not wanting to grow up, and just enjoy the simple things in life…which is kinda where I’m at right now. I urge you, DOWNLOAD IT NOW! I’ve been listening to it over and over and I’m not sick of it yet…and it’s great to support a Canadian artist, right? Let me know your thoughts if you check it out.

Thanks again for your accountability on my Shape-Up journey. What are your plans for the Canada Day long weekend?

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Sweet and Salty Salads

28 Jun

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It’s no secret that I love all things sweet and salty. Pretzels and peanut butter, salted caramel…I could go on (and on and on)….but sweet and salty salad? Seems a bit more unlikely, but trust me, it’s good! In the last week, I’ve tried 2 sweet ‘n salty salad combos, and both have worked out delightfully.

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My first attempt was for a lunch last week. It seems like in the food world (blogs, magazines), I’ve been seeing the watermelon feta combo EVERYWHERE for the last few summers. It’s always intrigued me, but I’ve never tried it, and since I had watermelon in the fridge leftover from Father’s Day, I decided the time was right to give it a go. My base was spinach leaves, which I topped with watermelon and feta, fresh mint, tomato (I feel like I’ve seen those 2 in many of the recipes I’ve come across), Vidalia onion (because I love ‘em, and WHY NOT?) and steamed asparagus (because it’s in season, and I put it in practically everything I can this time of year).

I made a fruity vinaigrette with one of my schmancy wine vinegars from Niagara to top it all off. The verdict? Yum! Perfectly cool and refreshing…could be a new summer classic! I love the salty feta paired with the sweet watermelon, and the mint added a nice freshness. I will definitely do this one again (although, since asparagus season is drawing to a close, it sadly may not make an appearance).

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SSS (sweet salty salad) # 2 was created for last night’s (low carb day of the week….last one for June) supper. I was home later after signing up for my one month cheapie membership at the Athletic Club and trying my first class which reduced me to a quivering pool, and wanted something quick and cool (and of course, low in carbs) and that used up stuff in the fridge.

This salad’s greens were lettuce, chives and parsley FROM MY GARDEN (sorry, didn’t mean to shout at ya there, just lovin’ the local). I topped them off with “normal” salad veggies for me (cucumber, mushrooms, red pepper, Vidalia onion), then some grapes that had been in the fridge since, as Katie would say, “Jesus walked on water,” sliced fresh strawberries (I would have gone all berry, but my desire to use stuff up won), diced ham (had some in the fridge, also leftover from Father’s Day, that needed to be used) and a tablespoon of sunflower seeds for crunch. I mashed a couple of strawberries into my dressing, created with another one of my fancy wine vinegars (maple this time).

Results? Also delicious. Sweet and salty wins every time. Now, it’s no peanut butter and pretzels, I’ll admit, but still incredibly fresh and delicious.

Two side notes:

1. I am STOKED about my one month membership at the Athletic Club. And although my Shape up for Summer challenge officially ends as of Thursday (full summary/recap to come), I think this is just what I needed to push myself more in my workouts, if my soreness from my first class (TRX, a totally cool weight class which uses this crazy harness thing, your body weight and resistance) is any indication. Just glad they also have a pool so I can use that to recover!

2. I am also STOKED about the huge bump in my site stats the last 2 days. I don’t know if I’m done anything in particular to draw in new readers, but my numbers went WAAAAY up Sunday and yesterday. So a big thank you to everyone who stops by to hear my ramblings and follow my journey. I truly appreciate you all and I hope you enjoy reading this little blog as much as I enjoy writing it.

Question: What’s the most unusual salad combination you’ve ever created?

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Slow Run, Shape up and Sundae

9 Jun

IMG_1697Happy Thursday all! The weekend is only a day away…hang in there (and don’t melt)! So, this post is updating you on a few things: Tuesday’s Ancaster Old Mill Race 10 K, the latest on my progress in the Shape up for Summer challenge, and pretty much the awesomest soft serve sundae of life (not kidding).

So, first off, the run. I will apologize for the lack of photos, but I was all by my lonesome at the start, didn’t feel like lugging the camera with me during the race, and my sister met me a little after the end. So the photo of me at the top is a self portrait (and actually not too bad at that, considering how terrible I typically am at taking them) before IMG_1695the race began and I slowly but surely melted into a sweaty mess. I don’t know where you were on Tuesday night, but if you were anywhere in Southern Ontario, you understand what I’m talking about. SERIOUS humidity folks!

Don’t these feet look ready to run? Going into the race, I was really hoping to improve on my time from last year. That didn’t happen. I didn’t beat my time. I didn’t tie it. I wasn’t even a little slower. I finished this 10 K TEN MINUTES SLOWER than last year!!!! Crying face

I know not all races can be a personal best, and I’m ok with that, but I was REALLY disappointed with my time. I’m not trying to make excuses, but here are some possible reasons why I wasn’t so speedy:

  • It was HOT and HUMID. I don’t remember what exactly the weather was last year, but certainly not this muggy. And although I trained all summer last year for my marathon, this was definitely the hottest race weather I’ve had.
  • I didn’t really train. Yes, I run every week, but often only for a day. And there was my vacation to Vegas. Probably in the month leading up to the race, I only ran 10 K or more maybe 3 times. I guess I figured that since I had run a full and half marathon since my last 10 K race, that it wasn’t such a big deal. Guess maybe I was wrong.
  • I was feeling kind of tired and “off” earlier in the day on Tuesday. I got home from school and just felt like watching tv, not running a race. Again, not trying to make excuses, just trying to figure out what went wrong.

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So at the start of the race itself, I decided I wanted to pace myself and not go out too strong. However, I think maybe I went a little overboard on that strategy. I knew by 2 km in that I wasn’t going to beat my record, and soon after that I wasn’t going to even tie it. I’ll be honest, it was a tough race. It was hard not to be discouraged and feel down on myself. I feel like I want to get beyond the point of “just running the race is my victory” and actually make some time improvements, you know? I’m over that “I used to be the fat girl and I’m so proud of myself for just doing this.” I still am proud of myself, but I’d like to feel like I’m improving my pace, not just showing up and crossing the finish line.

I recently bought the book Run Less, Run Faster  and am partway through right now. It seems like if it delivers on its promises (and there are tons of testimonials) and I stick to the training schedule (only 3 runs a week) I could see some improvements….I’ll keep you posted.

IMG_1699One great thing I have to say about this race: the crowds are amazing! There is so much support: families and little kids line the race route and cheer everyone on…they even stay to watch the slow pokes like me! A huge thank you for everyone who lined the route, especially for those who had sprinklers and hoses!

Onto happier stuff: FOOD! SmileI didn’t snap a picture since I didn’t have my camera on me, but since the race sponsor is a restaurant, there was a delicious catered dinner after: mixed green and blueberry salad, watermelon, some seriously awesome mac and cheese, and grilled chicken on a bun (I went bun-less). I could have gone back for more, especially the amazing mac ‘n cheese, but I stopped myself.

Since my sister lives nearby to where the race was, she met me after and took me out for fro yo (let it be known that I had the choice to go for ice cream, but I picked TCBY). I opted for chocolate with butterscotch and SKOR. The butterscotch was a little odd – sort of weird in flavour/texture, so it wasn’t my favourite…oh well!

Now onto the second “S” in my title, my latest update on the Shape up for Summer Challenge. I have to say, I’m glad I did this, because posting something on here for all to see really does keep me accountable.

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  • Special occasion eating: So far, so good. This was my plate at a bridal shower last weekend: all fruit and veggies (plus a bit more fruit I munched on later). I skipped the cake, but to be honest, it wasn’t all that hard for me. I’m a bit of a cake snob, and a store-bought slab cake with overly sweet icing really doesn’t do it for me. I know that might sound kind of snotty, but being a dessert snob makes it easier to turn stuff down. If it had been a nice homemade cake or dessert, it could have been a different story. More events coming up though…so stay tuned!
  • Hula hooping for 10 minutes 4 days a week: going fairly well. Again, really glad I posted about this so I would go make myself DO IT! I missed my class on Tuesday, but I’ve been pretty good about fitting in my 10 minutes. It works best if I do it right away after I get home. I tried to wait until after supper one night, and it ended up being more like 3….as the day goes on, my motivation decreases.
  • Kicking up the intensity of my workouts: Not gonna lie, I’m not where I want to be on this one. It’s been sort of an off week for a couple of reasons: Military Tone class was cancelled on Saturday. I went to Zumba instead. It was good, just not the butt-kicking I wanted. Sunday I planned to run, but my legs felt heavy, and since it was close to my race, I didn’t want to push myself, so I walked. I didn’t think a lot of cardio was a good idea the day before my race, so I did a one hour Body Sculpt class on Monday. It was just kinda of “meh.” I know the girl who was teaching is newer, so maybe she just need to get into her groove. The one downside to working out a a lot is that the more you do, the more it takes to really “feel the burn.” And I took yesterday off after the run. Hopefully Military Tone will be on this Saturday, and also, on the upside, I’ve booked my last personal training session for next week…so hopefully she will KICK MY BUTT!
  • One-day-a-week Low Carb: I sort of had to manoeuvre this one a bit this week, but I made it work. I was going to do it Monday, but I didn’t think it would be great the day before a race. I don’t want to do in on the weekend and was thinking today would be good, except I’m going out for dinner with my mom and Sister, and no one wans to have a girls night out with “low carb girl”….LAME! Yesterday wouldn’t work because I had breakfast out. But then I was thinking, one day can be three consecutive meals, but it doesn’t all have to be on the same date – so I did yesterday lunch and dinner, and breakfast today. It’s my challenge, and my blog, so I make the rules!

Honestly, as long as I’m cooking for myself, I’m not finding the low carb thing such a hardship. IMG_1702Wednesday’s low carb supper was a delicious variation on this meal (minus the lemon in the noodles and meatballs, switching up the herbs a little bit, adding a delightful little grilled veggie salad on the side).

…and that leads us to the best part of the post (thanks for sticking with me through all of my whining about my lack of athletic ability). I promise, if you’ve made it this far, it’s worth the wait for this (cue dramatic Star Wars music):

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Behold the beauty that is the SOFT SERVE SUNDAE! Seriously this was SO SO SO SO SO amazingly delicious. Words don’t even describe it, but I’ll try. Last weekend, I made strawberry mango banana soft serve, and loved the flavour combo. For some reason, putting the three together was just wonderful, even better than banana-mango or strawberry-banana. So I repeated the combo last night, but added a few raspberries for good measure. I was a little impatient (frustrating night: BBQ running out of propane during dinner, getting a supply phone call while I was in the bathroom and my phone was not), so I had a few chunks in my soft serve and added a bit more milk than usual, but still amazing.

My sundae toppings were the last of my stewed rhubarb, fresh LOCAL strawberries (just SO flavourful compared to the California ones, can’t say it enough), 4 blackberries (not local) and a tablespoon of cacao nibs for crunch. Perfect flavour and texture combo. And look at the size of that baby….it’s HUGE!

I know this is going to sound like I’m one of those crazy health food bloggers (which maybe I am), but the more you eat this stuff, the more you want to, and your body craves it. I wasn’t like “oh this is really good for a healthy dessert” or “because it has so much fruit.” I just thought this was REALLY GOOD! You really need to try a soft serve sundae, either my version (or your own if you share your recipe). I don’t know why I waited so long, but I can assure you, there will be more this summer.

How are you coming with the Shape up for Summer challenge (or any healthy/fitness goals)?

You’ve been (soft) served!

3 Jun

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Happy Friday everyone! It’s the weekend. It’s getting close to summer (18 days, but who’s counting?) and the weather’s getting warmer. You want a cold, creamy, treat, but there’s that bathing suit laughing at you from the back of your closet (or maybe you’ve decided to join me for my Shape up for Summer Challenge). You need to whip up some fruity soft serve – stat!

There are so many delicious variations. If you’re new here, or have missed a few posts, maybe you haven’t seen them all. Have no fear! I am linking you to all the ones I’ve tried (so far). The procedure’s basically the same for all of them: put frozen, chopped fruit in a food processor with a touch of almond/skim/soy milk if needed, then process until smooth – that’s it!

So, you can try:

By no means do I think I am the originator of the banana soft serve idea. I’ve seen it on the Rachael Ray show, and on Tina’s blog. I’ve just taken it, and given it my own spin (like I do with most recipes Winking smile).

Now for a couple of updates on the Shape up for Summer challenge:

  • I checked off my one “low carb day” for this week already on Tuesday – yay (again, it was fairly painless – included all kinds of deliciousness, like a smoothie in a bowl with mango chunks, and even steak for dinner)
  • I want to add one little post-script to my workout goals: hoop at home for 10 minutes at least 4 days a week. I think this will really help whittle my middle back down to where I like it, and the hoop I paid $20 for has been collecting dust in my room! I’ve done this 2 days in a row so far, and since the weather’s been nicer, I’ve been taking it outside…the time goes SO MUCH faster when I’m walking around my yard in the sunshine. Smile
  • I’m trying my best to bump up the intensity in my workouts, but it’s just been so-so this week. Tomorrow I’ll do military tone class, which is always good, and I need to schedule a session with a trainer (I have a half hour left that’s paid for, I just need to get around to it!)

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Another update: this time on the rhubarb front. I used some of my stewed rhubarb to make a strawberry-rhubarb cheesecake shake! Sadly, it wasn’t quite as good as it sounds. I mean, I liked it, and (no surprise) I obviously finished the whole thing off, but it didn’t WOW me…and the cheesecake flavour didn’t come through like I’d hoped. In any case, I’ll tell you what I did and then you can repeat and/or improve on it.

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Nice overhead blender shot, eh? Into a blender, I put 1/3 cup of the rhubarb, 3/4 cup frozen strawberries, 3 tablespoons fat-free cream cheese, a touch of Splenda and 1 cup almond milk and blended away. It seemed a little thin, so I added a couple ice cubes right at the end. Again, still good, but not particularly memorable (I sound like an American Idol judge or something). Since Ontario strawberry season is fast approaching, I’m trying to finish off the end of last year’s stash in the freezer: less than 1.5 bags to go!

Hope you have a great weekend…enjoy the sunshine! Any exciting plans?

Rhubarb Love and a Challenge

31 May

IMG_1585I’m not sure which part of the title to start with, so we’ll go with the rhubarb first. I love rhubarb – always have, probably always will. It is a sign that spring is well underway, and this time of year, I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I used to have my own patch, but it had to be moved, and is now QUITE small. But after some blog-envy at Katie’s strawberry rhubarb muffins last week, I knew I had to get some – stat!

Thankfully, the farmers’ market that I stopped at last Friday had some, so I proceeded to buy $9.87 worth (6 HUGE stalks), and that night I got to work on one of my favourite ways to use it: stewed rhubarb.

Stewed rhubarb is SUPER-easy to make, and it is delicious and versatile – can be IMG_1586used in breakfast, lunch, snacks or dessert. To make it, all you need is rhubarb, water, and your choice of sweetener. For mine, I chopped 6 cups of rhubarb (this yield 4 cups of stewed rhubarb), added water and Splenda, and heated on high until boiling. I reduced heat to medium, then simmered until all the rhubarb had broken down and it was nice and mushy (in the best way). Next time, I ‘d add a bit less water, since it was a bit more liquidy than I wanted.

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Let cool, then store covered in the fridge (add more sweetener of your choice if necessary. I had to. Rhubarb is delicious, but it’s pretty sour on its own). The above picture is a close-up of what the rhubarb looks like when it’s done, so you can see the texture.

So far, I’ve used my stewed rhubarb in breakfast:

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mixed with pineapple and yogurt

 

 

 

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mixed with thawed, frozen strawberries and yogurt

 

 

IMG_1604And as a dessert/snack:

– a sort of rhubarb "cheesecake" concoction: 3 tbsp each of light ricotta and fat-free cream cheese, a splash of vanilla and Splenda mixed together, topped with some stewed rhubarb and a sprinkling of cacao nibs for crunch.

 

All have been delicious, and the best part is, I still have more left!

Now onto the challenge (don’t worry, it’s nothing TOO hard Winking smile ). I’m really excited to be hosting my first official blog challenge to my readers.

It’s no secret that I’ve been trying to take off a few inches since getting back from my indulgent Vegas vacation. I made it 4 and 1/2 days on my low carb-ish plan, have been eating loads of fresh fruits and veggies, and getting in a good amount of cardio and weight training. It’s amazing how good those things can make you feel in only a few short days.

Since tomorrow is the first day of June and summer is just around the corner, I’m proposing a challenge to you, my dear HHH readers: Shape up for Summer (I know, I know, you’re thinking, “where did you come up with such an original name?Winking smile). Maybe, like me, you’ve packed on a couple of extra pounds from winter or vacation, and bathing suit season doesn’t leave you much room to hide. Or maybe you absolutely love the shape you’re in now (lucky you)! It doesn’t matter – either way, you can join in the challenge.

What I’m asking you is to pick one (or more) healthy changes you can incorporate in the month of June that will help you meet your health goals, whether they are to drop a few pounds/inches by the end of the month, stay in fabulous shape, get more exercise or eat healthier. I have several steps I want to take, but one is just fine! I know the challenge seems a little open-ended/vague, but I designed it that way specifically because if I’ve learned one thing over the course of my weight-loss journey, it’s that weight loss/healthy living are very personal, and what works for one person may not work for the next. We’re all at different points in our journey, and the Shape up challenge can be done no matter where you are or what you want to achieve.

So, here are my goals for June:

– eat low-carb, mostly whole foods, one day a week (I felt so fabulous after doing it last week that I want to continue)

– use self-control and make smart choices at food functions in June (showers, graduations, birthdays, Father’s day) and bring a healthier option wherever possible

– push myself in my workouts, especially in strength training, to increase intensity and feel the burn

I could go on, but I’ll stop at 3…if I stick to these goals (or even sort-of do), I know I’ll like what I see. If you’re like me, you don’t need a scale to tell you if you’re at your happy weight, you know what it looks and feels like. Everyone has their own idea of “skinny” – for me, it’s not being a size 0, 2 or 4; it means reducing the size of my middle, being able to see the definition in my waistline (even just a tiny bit), and that my pants fit with no muffin top and blouses/sweaters fit without buttons or zippers pulling at the chest.

If you’d like to join me and share your own goal(s) (and I really hope you do), you can either leave them in a comment on this post, or email me at: hilarymawiebe@gmail.com and share with me. I hope to post weekly updates on my successes (and failures) and you can let me know how you’re doing too! I look forward to hearing from you!