Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Workout Wednesday and A Giveaway

Workout Wednesday is back this week. I've been wanting to feature this weekly for a while, but you the time factor has been a struggle. From now until Christmas I will be featuring a different workout each Wednesday, either one of my favorite DVD programs or just a random workout I use.

To kick off Workout Wednesday I'm hosting my very first giveaway! You can enter to win your very own copy of PiYo!  Coincidentally PiYo also this week's Workout Wednesday featured workout. I can't wait to preview Les Mills Pump, a workout I've been drooling over for a while now. It's on sale this weekend at Beachbody as part of the Black Friday Specials. Have you seen what all is on sale? It's an impressive list of some of the best selling programs from 50% to 85% off regular price. any of them will help work off the turkey and gravy featured on yesterday's blog post. :)


Without further ado, here's my review of PiYo.
- Greatly Increased flexibility
- 60 day program
- 20-40 minute workouts
- Great nutrition plan
- Not dancy, girly, or like the 90's Pilates workouts
- Uses body strength- no special equipment needed
- Quick, Efficient workout
- Great Modifiers
- Men featured in the workouts, not just for women!
- Intense total body workout
- Music
- Can easily be paired with another program for max results

- Shorter workouts leave me wanting more
- Need to use it consistently to maintain flexibility levels
- She talks a lot (doesn't bother me but does some people)
- Lots of push ups and planks (it's worth it though)

General Comments:
I feel that this workout needs to be done fairly consistently to maintain results. I was shocked at how much my muscle definition and flexibility has improved with PiYo. I do Yoga once a week with P90X3, but this has increased my range of motion in my hips, hamstrings, and back. You will find PiYo will help with increased strength as well. There are a ton of pushups and planks. I have like zero upper body strength but after just 30 days I was able to do all of the pushups on my toes with proper form. We're not talking regular pushups here, folks. We're talking military style, elbows hugging sides push-ups with decent depth and nose almost touching the floor pushups. Never before have I ever thought Downward Dog was a rest position until using PiYo. It will do amazing things for your core strength. It's a tough workout but not so tough you'll scream obscenities at the screen.. Not that I do that... It's easily paired with another workout or efficient enough to use as a stand alone program.

My Take:  It's a solid investment.

Would you like to try PiYo? Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here! All entries are due by midnight, EST, Wednesday, December 3. Share the giveaway on FB, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media network you use. Don't forget to stop by and like my FB page. The more people you get to like my page the better your chances of winning! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Turkey Day Edition

My class is in the midst of preparing for our annual Holiday Store. Mass quantities of Christmas cookies have been made in the last 2 days. Snowmen have been painted and shellacked. Tart burners and candles are packed and priced. Multiple loads of towels have been dirtied, washed, folded and put away. What a busy 2 days! We are now on Thanksgiving break until Monday when, upon return, we will scramble to frost the cookies, make buckeyes and put all of the finishing touches on our goodies to sell on Friday. Did I mention our store takes place on December 5? Is it possible for next Friday to be December 5th? I don't even want to think about how close we are to Christmas. Nor do I want to think about how I have no shopping done. I may have to actually venture out on the interconnected web to scout for some deals for the boys. They aren't difficult to buy for there just isn't any surprise anymore. Gone are the days of the most cherished toys and games, though you can bet there will be at least one nerf brand item for each of them. J is getting his letter jacket, T wants some new sweatpants (his new love), and Coach is always happy with a bottle of the finest Bourbon and a dinner date with me. I have a few things in mind he doesn't know about yet. The weather has to cooperate with me this year.

The holiday feeling is in the air. Between the cold and snow, the Christmas cookie baking and the Christmas tree that appeared in the cafeteria today, I can't help but feel like it's getting to be that time. I hate that it's not December and I want to turn on the holiday music. My hard and fast rule has always been no Christmas until December, or at least until after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite of the winter holidays simply because of the meaning. Sure, I love watching my kids at Christmas and all of the traditions surrounding the celebration of Christ's birth. But I love having a day for the family to get together, sit and laugh together without hurt feelings or anxiety over gifts and did I do enough, blah blah blah. Thanksgiving is about being grateful for one another. I love hosting in my home with both Coach's and my family. Yes, we all get along splendidly together. Again, I am truly blessed with a wonderful family. I look forward to spending time with them later this week.

In honor of my favorite holiday, I am sharing one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes. I can't take credit for this one. It comes from Rachel Ray from the Food Network. Herb Roasted Turkey Breast  is so juicy and tender it never lasts for seconds. I don't make the gravy recipe she lists in the recipe, but I do end up making my own gravy (see below).

My favorite aspects of this dish are 1) you only need a turkey breast not a whole turkey, 2) it's easy, 3) it tastes really good, 4) the gravy is sooooo good with all of the herb flavors. I usually make and extra and stick it away so I have some for the rest of the weekend. :)

The boys love gray. I made a beef roast last night with oven roasted veggies and some gravy since I had so much broth from the roast. Gravy has this misconception of being difficult. It really isn't, but it does take some practice. I learned from the best; my Grandma who was an amazing cook. I helped with gravy every Christmas and Easter since I can remember. Her gravy was the most delicious of any I've ever had. Granted, Grandma used heavy cream in her gravy. You could hear everyone's arteries clogging with each bite. It's only a few times a year, right? Mine isn't so harmful. But the secret really is a good roux. When it's complete it's absolutely delicious.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The "R" Word

If there is one word in all of the English language that really grates on my nerves it's the word retard. It bothers me more than hearing people say warsh or ain't. No kidding. And to hear one of my students call someone a retard or retarded is the most offensive thing anyone could ever do.

The Merriam-Webster definition of retard is as follows:


 verb \ri-ˈtärd\
: to slow down the development or progress of (something)

Full Definition of RETARD

transitive verb
:  to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment :  impede
:  to delay academic progress by failure to promote
When did it become socially acceptable to say that about a person? To say someone is being hindered or held back from making progress is ok? I admit I'm hypersensitive about it since I teach students with disabilities. Does it matter if a kid has a documented disability? We all have our strengths and weaknesses. There is no need to call someone something so derogatory as retarded to make yourself feel better about yourself. How does that even make someone feel good about themselves? That screams insecurity and ignorance.

How do we combat this trend? Perhaps this flow chart from the Military Special Needs Network I discovered will help.

How do you feel about this word? Is there another word that really grinds your gears when you hear it?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Aftermath of Saying No

Do you ever have those weeks where you just can't seem to keep it together? Or those days you know there's no way you're not on the Spectrum? It's one of those weeks for me. I pride myself on being pretty laid back and flexible about things. Don't get me wrong, I go to great lengths to plan and prep so my weeks go smoothly but I don't usually get too bent out of shape if things don't get completed. The week itself has gone smoothly save for the fact that I'm exhausted.  The last 10-14 days have been non-stop on-the-go with little down time. Last week I managed to get time for myself. This week hasn't gone so well. Despite the best intentions and planning, I haven't had a good workout since Monday. Tonight's not looking good at the moment. I'm determined to get it in, even if it's 10pm before I start. I need my schedule! My normalcy! My mood depends on it! 

I'm not good at No. I've written about it before. Saying No has always been a struggle. Is it an oldest child thing? I've gotten much better but I've got a long way to go. The problem is saying no to Coach. I'm not the only one with a thousand things going on. I've written and rewritten this post and I can't seem to utter anything positive so I need to just stop. I'm going to watch my oldest son play his first varsity scrimmage. And I'm going to enjoy it without crabbing at anyone. And when he asks me to do something other than stats, I'm saying NO.  Wish me luck. And maybe send me some whiskey. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Baked Chicken

My job is awesome. I may have mentioned that before. Seriously though, I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to teach my kiddos life skills each and every day. We are currently working on making things for our Thanksgiving feast on Thursday. We planned our menu and went grocery shopping yesterday. The class decided on chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn casserole, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie. We will likely all be comatose in the afternoon. And yes, I will be packing my own salad and skipping the casseroles, dinner rolls and pie.

Sometimes I take for granted those skills I consider to be basic cooking skills. We baked our chickens today. I have four assistants in my room, the five of us ranging in age from early 20's to older than 40.  Is that safe enough to say? LOL. I went over my lesson plans for the chicken prep with my ladies and got some unsure looks in response. So I decided I'd write our chicken recipe instructions on the board before leaving for my meetings. The stories I got later about who was grossed out the most by whole chicken were hysterical! And the deboning was even better! I was laughing so hard I was in tears.

The whole thing made me consider my beliefs of "basic" cooking skills vs other's beliefs. Granted I work with kids with cognitive disabilities. We are usually working on skills like following pre packaged food instructions that are pretty simple. Baking a whole chicken involves removing the giblets and extra fat and skin, as well as using the oven safely. I showed them how to make their own chicken stock from the bones, a few vegetables, covering it all with water, and simmering for an 90 minutes. And the smell in our room was so fantastic and comforting. My little guy walked in my room after school and went straight back to the kitchen looking for the chicken soup.

These are not things all of my students can do independently. That's not to say they shouldn't have some experience with these skills. I want them to know how to make things from the most basic ingredients. I want them to experience a chicken they seasoned, cooked, and checked the thermometer every few minutes to see if it's done. I look forward to seeing their reaction to the taste of the dinner on Thursday as much as anything. There is great satisfaction that comes from making a meal from the most basic ingredients. I hope they feel that pride as they serve our guests and enjoy the meal themselves.

1. Rinse your chicken in the sink.
2. Remove any giblets, the neck, and extra skin.
3. Pat dry with paper towel.
4. Rub chicken with salt, pepper, onion powder, Garlic powder.
5. Place fragrent herbs such as rosemary and sage in the inner cavity. You can also add vegetables to the pan around the chicken. I like carrots, celery & onion.
6. Place chicken breast side down in a 9x13 baking pan.
7. Cover with foil and Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 2 hours.
8. Remove foil and continue cooking for 15 minutes to crisp outside skin.
9. Remove from oven and let cool.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Winter Favorites

Old Man Winter has decided to grace us with his presence a tad early here in the Hoosier state. A week ago I was outside running in shorts, a t-shirt and tacky hunting vest, only to turn around today and need my down coat and gloves due to the blowing snow and 20 degree temps. What a shift! 

I'm not a winter person, not that you can tell that at all by my commentary or frequent winter rants on this blog or anything... However, in following in my November Thankfulness Challenge, I am not going to complain about the cold or the snow (yet). I will first note my favorite things about winter. 
  1.  Basketball season. Duh!
  2.  A good warm cup of chia tea with coconut milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I'm enjoying one right now as I type. 
  3. A good book, sunshine streaming in the windows, & a warm blanket on a snowy Sunday afternoon.
  4. Soup. Any and all kinds of soup. Yum! And on occasion a grilled cheese to go with it.  
  5. Sweater dresses, cute tights/leggings, and tall boots. Today's outfit in fact. 
  6. Quilt projects. I'm much more inclined to sew in the winter than any other time. Which reminds me, I need to fabric shop. 
  7. Winter makes me appreciate Spring, Summer, and Autumn months more. Aren't they splendid months?

What are your favorite things about winter? Let me hear them!

Friday, November 14, 2014

10 Day Sugar Detox Results

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. ~Confucius

Ten days can feel like an eternity, yet at the same time flies by like nothing. The first few days of the sugar detox group I hosted were tough. I really didn't think I ate that much sugar until I really started looking at what I eat. Sugar in my hummus. Sugar in the kidney beans. Sugar in the sausage I had for breakfast Sunday morning. It's in everything! That first bit of sugar yesterday was terrible. I couldn't eat it. I spit out the bite of apple dump cake we made in class- not because it was poorly made but because it was too sweet I thought I would throw up.

The crazy thing is I don't want sugar now. Yes, I treated myself to a craft beer last night and Evil Nachos at dinner with my cousin. I've been ever so patiently waiting that dinner (and it was spectacular). I found myself eating more slowly (I'm sure that had nothing to do with the fact we were talking a lot) and savoring the flavors in the beer, the pulled pork on the nachos, and the homemade potato chip slices. And I only ate a third of it instead of the entire plate like I normally would because I felt satisfied. What? I can't believe I actually wrote that, but it's true. It was enough. Even after the double workout and the enormous appetite I had when we got there. Go figure. Guess maybe this is working. 

Progress!! No belly hanging over the waistband!
-able to get through an entire workout without feeling worn out at the end and actually increasing weight/intensity during exercises

AIP- Abs In Progress

{Get to the results, lady.}
Ok, ok. So here ya go: 
Pounds Lost: 6
Inches lost: 2
Most noticeable differences: 
-Increased energy &annoyingly positive attitude
-not constantly hungry all day long
-thinner face (turkey neck shrinking)
-gut not bloated and swollen after I eat
-no gas
-no heartburn
-abs are starting to show

Yes, I should have cleaned my lens and mirror before taking the pictures. This is real life, ya'll. My mirrors and camera lenses aren't clean. I'm over it. Yes, I have a long way to go to have abs but I'm NOT discounting my progress so far. It's a great beginning. I want abs for my birthday in June. It's a process and I'm on my way. I'm not going to totally avoid all sugars until then. That's just not a great plan. I am going to keep eating clean and trying new foods to liven things up a bit. I'm very encouraged by these results and have no intention of stopping now and killing any momentum I've created.

Honestly the most positive results have come from watching my youngest son pay attention to the food he's eating. Bless his little heart! He came home appalled at how much sugar was in the milk at school but then thought to check the juice and decided milk was a better choice because it was more pure. The juice is partially artificial and has twice the sugar content as the milk. Proud mom moment right there!

Hang in there and have a healthy weekend! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What We Wore Wednesday

Wednesday. What can you say about Wednesday? We have to be at work early for meetings on Wednesday so it's usually hurried, despite every intention to get out the door on time. Practices get over early on Wednesday as well as it's considered "family night" in our community. Honestly it's kind of nice because I know we will all be home before 7pm and can have dinner together. The change does affect my workouts slightly. After shoe fittings for the middle school boys' basketball teams, delivering the high school boys' shoes to the gym, dropping off a few things to some other friends and some much needed catching up with those friends, I got home feeling pretty spent. I did not want to skip my workout. It's phase 2 of P90X3 and I'm not starting off by being a day behind. Eccentric upper was the workout of the day and WOW! Push-ups, pull-ups, and free weights. I forgot how tough this one was. Upper body strength is not my forte despite my longing to be able to do an unassisted pull-up. One day... Hopefully this year..

Any who... One way I keep from skipping out on my workout on days like today when I get home late is to change into my workout gear immediately upon arrival. A fun little thing on Instagram is What We Wore Wednesday aka #wwww. I tend to be a matchy-matchy kind of person. I like my clothing, socks, shoes, accessories to coordinate. It's just my thing. I'm a dork, I know.  Tonight's outfit is Not my normal style. I was cold and pulled on the first thing I found that matched, or sort of matched. The thing that matters most is I got my workout in. It was hard. I sweat. A lot. That's exactly what I was after.

I love my Climalite!

What purposeful movement did you get in today? Are you an outfit matching OCD person?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Beef Barley Stew

I'm Monday saw the beginning of high school basketball for Coach and Jordan. I managed to get home in time to squeeze a run in while there was still some daylight. One drawback of living in the middle of nowhere in the fall is the crazy dudes who think they can just drive the back roads and shoot deer from the truck and climb whatever fence row they need to recover said deer. My boys love to hunt. I'm not anti-hunting in any way. I personally love to sport shoot, though it's been many many years since I've done so. I don't like crazy dudes in my woods shooting at whatever moves. So to save my own ass on my dusk run I grabbed one of the boy's beats and happily took off down the road.

Dear Santa, I need some new medium weight reflective gear.

As I turned the corner and headed west the sky was just such an amazing sight to behold! Yes, I killed my split on mile 2 but I don't care. It was too spectacular to pass up.

My Monday had gotten a lote pit of hand. This was exactly perfect for me to regain some perspective and kick myself back in line. Funny how that happens. 

This week's Tasty Tuesday feature comes from one of my favorite food blogs Skinny Taste. I've never made anything from her site  I didn't like. Recipes are kid approved too. Last week I made the Beef Barley Soup.! It is fantastic! The boys devoured it! The soup is the right amount of savory and hearty and would be awesome with some crusty bread. We liked it so well they asked for it again this week. And I made it for them :)

Recipe Here

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sugar Free: 8 Days In & A Peak Inside My Fridge

Happy Monday, ya'll! It's day 8 of my Sugar Detox group and I can't even begin to tell you how awestruck I am with my challengers! They are killing this challenge. Hands down, they are kicking added sugar out of their lives with reckless abandon. Talk about motivation! I've had a ton of questions about what it's like to live without added sugar. It's not easy. It's really difficult to be honest. While in the grocery Sunday morning I was looking for kidney beans and comparing labels on the regular and reduced sodium varieties. Turns out there's sugar and high fructose corn syrup in them. Beans for goodness sake! So I bought dried beans to soak and can myself. The beans were $1.39 for the pound. I will easily get 8 pints out of the bag, probably more. They swell like crazy. I'll report back once I've canned them.

Another common question is about what I eat during the week. Here's a picture of my fridge after Sunday post grocery/meal prep. This took me just over an hour.

Fruits and veggies cleaned and easy to grab and go
The week's meal plan looks like this: Pork Loin with roasted veggies (crock pot meal), lasagna, pumpkin-sausage soup, beef & barley stew (Tasty Tuesday feature of the week), and 2 lbs of meatballs to do whatever with. Meal prep time takes about an hour as well, depending on how involved dishes are. Lasagna is more involved so took me more than an hour this week with all of the boiling and layering. This meal plan will cover 4 days of lunches, and 4 suppers, with 1 day of leftovers for lunch and/or supper. I have class on Tuesday nights so the guys usually end up having something I don't normally eat.  Lasagna will likely be Tuesday night's meal. Basketball season officially begins today so I have to be diligent to have 4 dinners made ahead of time because we all have less time after school to throw things together. At least J will have the same schedule as Coach this year. T-man isn't so lucky this year but that's ok. We make it a priority to eat together each night if possible. Sometimes it's more of just being in the same room while someone is eating when they get in from whatever activity they've just finished. That's ok. It's the quality time that matters.

Lunch for me consists of soup and salad most days. Last week was grilled fish and a variety of veggies and a salad. The beauty of living sugar free is the dense nutrients you get from food. I feel like I'm eating all day. I feel full longer. The longer we go in the challenge the fewer cravings I have. Most of the cravings have more to do with habits than actual hunger. Take Saturday night. Coach and I went to dinner at one of our favorite places. They have great wine and craft beer. I wanted a pumpkin ale soooo bad. Not because I really craved it but because it was Saturday, we were watching football, and it's what we do on Saturday night. I didn't have one and you know what? I felt amazing this morning! No beer bloat. No gut ache. No foggy brain. I popped out of bed with energy ready for my day. That's not to say I'm not going to ever treat myself. I'll have one of this pumpkin ales this month and I'll savor it. Sugar will be a part of my diet after this detox but not for a while. You can be very sure I'll be watching how much I'm consuming.

This challenge has provided me with some BIG ah-ha moments; 
1) I've had more progress with my weight loss & strength training by simply removing the sugar and processed foods and adjusting/adding in real sources of protein and carbohydrates. Duh (#facepalm) 
2) I'm tired of watching what I eat and working my butt off with exercise all week long only to throw it all out the window on the weekends. Goals don't get achieved that way.
3) This isn't about weight loss or fitting into clothes, though that's a nice side effect. It's about learning how to fuel my body better so I can be a better mom, teacher, and coach. That's what motivates me to keep going. 

What motivates you to keep going? 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tasty Tuesday- Sugar Free Style

My group is in day 2 of sugar free eating. Let me tell you I thought I was eating pretty clean, sans the Nutella binges here and there. Man was I wrong! Start taking all of the store bought processed things out and holy wow there's not a lot let besides veggies, fruits, and meat. I like all of those things a lot. I eat a lot of them on a daily basis but I still ended up with a sugar-withdrawal headache yesterday afternoon. I could not figure out what had me so out of sorts and then it hit me- Sugar! My food tracking has been steady over the last few weeks so I went through my daily lists on My Fitness Pal- Salad dressing, candy corn, beer, a ham sandwich on a field trip.  My biggest one is store-bought salad dressing. I had no idea how much sugar is in that stuff.  Even the "healthy" ones. I'm on a mission to find homemade versions of my faves for next week's blog post to share with you.

This week I'm sharing breakfast. It's my favorite meal of the day. I try to load up on some good complex carb and lots of protein to keep me satiated until 11 when I can grab a snack to hold me over until I eat lunch at 12:45. My boys love pancakes. They will eat this adapted high-protein version without syrup (insert shocked gasp here). They do smother them in butter, but that's not such a big deal for me since there's relatively no added fat outside the egg in the recipe. Best of all, it's quick and easy. Enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Power of a Positive Attitude

You know when you feel a cold coming on and you do everything you can to keep it from hitting you upside the head and you think you have it knocked out of the park? Then you decide to dust every surface in the house only to tick off the histamine receptors and boom! My head is plugged, nose is raw from running all day, and I'm frustrated with it already. I know it's making me grouchy. Try as I may, I did bite my son's head off while working out tonight. Truth be known, I didn't want to take him. I wanted to drop off T-man for practice and go back home and eat some food. J wanted to workout and my rebounding days are over on Monday with the official start of practice. Then his mouth and attitude took over and I lost it. Or so I thought...

Enter internal struggle. I look forward to letting off a little steam when I get home. I may have been a little fired up still when I started venting. Perhaps I went on a little too long. I don't recall having a bad day. Not even a mediocre day. Turns out my ranting must come off negative because it doesn't take long for it to rub off on everyone else. Pretty soon everyone is crabbing about this or that. I sincerely try to live a positive life. Smiles abound during the day. Kind words flow from my mouth instead of the sarcastic lingo floating around in my brain. So after a little heart to heart with my sons on the way home, I decided to take the November Thankfulness challenge to heart. No griping, grumbling, venting or complaining after school until I have announced at least one thing from my day I'm thankful for. That goes for everyone else in the car. If any of us still feel like we need to vent about something we have full permission to do so. Seems fair to me. They actually agreed it didn't sound bad. Huh. Go figure. Score one for mom today :)

So here we go. I am incredibly thankful that I had extra time with my boys tonight. They are such good boys and I'm so thankful I get to be their mama.

What are you thankful for?