Search This Blog

Friday, October 1, 2010

2010 Wilmington Turkey Trot!!

The Friends of the Wilmington Parks Turkey Trot planning is under way!  This year's event will take place on November 25th, 2010 - Thanksgiving morning! 

Registration begins at 8:00 with kids events beginning at 8:30.  The 5 and 10K races begin at 9:00 in front of Wilmington College's Hermann Court. 

Registration will be held in the Clinton County YMCA gym.  Children's events will include the usual 50 Yard Dash - Turkey Chase and 1/4 Mile Sprint.  After the races, they can go into the nice warm Y gym to play games, run an inflatable obstacle course and have a great time while older siblings and parents run the race.

Prizes for all first and second place male/female winners of each age group and first place overall winners.  All children will receive prizes for participating in kids events. 

For more information, please contact Heather Harmon here or by sending an e-mail to

Check us out on Twitter and Facebook.

See you then! 

Monday, July 5, 2010

14 (now 16) Ways I Am Going to Save Money Now!

This past holiday weekend has really got me thinking.  First, it's a holiday so there is always reasons to make food for cookouts.  It's my husband's birthday, reasons for cake and presents (sort of).  It's hot as can be so we have had the air on.  We were also in a rush and I found myself spending too much at the grocery and frequenting fast food restaurants too often.  Yikes.  I had to really take a look at my spending and my wasteful habits.

I am not happy or "positively well" when my bank account dips lower and lower and it's mainly due to my erratic spending lately.  I am ashamed that I have allowed myself to get to this recently.  To top it off, things around the house are starting to fall apart or need repair.  Our central air needs a new motor, my cell phone is dying, my coffee pot is falling apart and my washer is starting to sound deathly ill.

My husband is still making less, but he enjoys where he works.  I don't want him to quit, but we have got to get our priorities back in line.  I started looking into how to save money again.  There are a few things that we started doing again that we shouldn't have so we are doing them now.  Here are our ways of reducing over the next couple of months.

1.   Canceled my larger newspaper subscription.  I was receiving this newspaper only for the coupons twice a week, but I didn't use them because I don't normally buy a lot of boxed items. Plus, I prefer to read my local newspaper, the Wilmington News Journal

2.  Canceling cable.  Yes, we had signed up for cable again during the cold months.  We hardly watch it right now so it's stupid to keep it.

3.  Hang clothes out to dry.  I have been reading that it can cost anywhere from .30 to .40 cents per load to dry clothes.  I do a lot of clothes sometimes and our clothes are falling apart from being dried so often.  This will extend the life of our clothes and save on our energy bill.

4.  Buying a blanket for our water heater.  These puppies are less than $20 and will really make a difference over time.

5.  Go to grocery less.  I am going to go back to only hitting the grocery every other week unless I need fruits and veggies, but I can go to the farm market for my produce each week and spend less.

6.  Gardening.  We started a garden this year.  We planted corn, peas, green beans, tomatoes galore, eggplant, peppers, carrots, strawberries and cucumbers.  I am now starting to get cucumbers off the vine and everything else is looking great.  I can't wait to start canning and start reducing our food bills.  Next year, we are planting lettuce, herbs, watermelon and pumpkins and a variety of other vegetables to attempt to produce most of our food needs.

7.  Raising chickens.  This won't be for a little while, but we are hoping to start raising our own chickens for egg production.  Many people are doing this now.  Just please do not do this if you are really close to neighbors or don't have enough room for the chickens to roam.  It's not fair for them.

8.  Cloth napkins and rags.  I bought paper napkins the other day because I didn't have any cloth napkins and it was driving me crazy when we ate dinner.  So, I bought the paper but went to work making cloth napkins.  I found a tutorial online and used fabric I found at a yard sale.  Not sure it was the best fabric, but we are going to try them out.  I will keep at it if I need new ones, but it's easier to throw a bunch of cloth napkins in the wash than to keep purchasing new paper!!  It's also better for the environment.  PS - they make great gifts.  

9.  Ask friends and family for things that need replacing or go to yard sales.  I need mason jars right now.  They aren't terribly expensive, but I know that lots of people have more than they can use and are willing to get rid of some.  It just takes some asking.  I posted a request on and I have sent an ask out to friends and family.  Keep a list of things you need to replace.  For example, I have a list in my car of things I need to replace like casserole dishes.  I stop at yard sales when I come across one and check my list.  I found a casserole dish and a nice cotton tablecloth the other day.  Both items I was looking for and I paid less than $5 total for both.

10.  Cutting out the extras.  We rented a storage facility a few months ago because we thought we might want to move to an older home closer to town and wanted to start downsizing.  We have since decided to stay put because we already have a great interest rate and we aren't going to find a house as efficient as our current one. Anyway,we still have a storage facility.  That's an extra $55 a month.  We are cleaning out storage and taking all unwanted items to my sister to sell in a yard sale and giving some things to people who could really use them.  We are cutting clutter, saving money and helping others.  

11.  Clothing swaps.  The start of school is just around the corner.  My kid is growing like a weed and will need new clothes.  However, I don't necessarily need to buy new.  I would like to organize a clothing swap with other moms.  I figured we could bring our older clothes to a swap meet and exchange them before school this fall.  Either that or we could organize a way for everyone to sell items at a yard sale price to each other.  We would make money and save on new clothes for our kids.  The same can be done for adults too.
12.  Find cheap things for kids to do.  I am extremely lucky to have my parents next door.  They are more than happy to help us with our daughter in the summer, but sometimes my mom needs a break.  I found a day camp for my little girl at the college where I work.  They have a great little program that last for five days from 9 to 4 and it only costs $20 for the week!  They will learn about nature, growing food, trying items from the garden, crafts from items found in nature, etc.  She will be exposed to some new and interesting things this year and I will feel good knowing my mom is getting a break.    

13.  Look for money.  I am going to look for different ways to bring in extra income and to decrease our spending.  My goal would be to pay off our bills, not to accrue more debt!  Try looking for a part-time job, free-lance work, do small jobs for people for money, have a yard sale, sell your fresh vegetables from the garden, make jelly's and jam's and sell them, baby sit for a little extra cash.  There are ways to bring in extra income.  I know several people who are managing two or three part time positions to pay bills. 

14.  Keep goals in mind.  We have the goal of becoming debt free in five years.  We can't forget this goal.  We need to make sure that we keep our goals in mind at all times.  It's easy to forget why we aren't going out to eat with all of our friends or going on vacation, so we need to remind ourselves. If you are really struggling to pay the bills, than do anything you can to get rid of them.  My favorite line is from financial guru Dave Ramsey, "Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else!"  This means that you need to work really hard now to live really well later.   

Hope this list gives you some ideas of your own.  I am using it as a reminder to myself to keep going.  It's actually kind of fun to try to find ways to save money once you get started.  Just stay focused.

***After posting this I remembered a couple of things I wanted to mention.

15.  Color your own hair.  I have been going to a stylist for a long time.  It is about $75 to have my hair cut and highlighted every 6 weeks.  I finally decided to have her cut it off and color it all one color.  I was afraid to color over highlights so I let her do this one.  My next color will probably come out of a box.  They have come a long way with home hair color and they are only about $10-15 (less with a coupon).  This will add up to a savings of over $200-250 if I continue to have her cut my hair for $25 (Plus tip) the year. You can also learn how to cut your husband and children's hair (not letting him tough mine!).  We have an adult education program at Laurel Oaks.  They offer a hair styling class.  These classes are not terribly expensive when you think about how much you save over time.  I will continue to go to her to cut my hair because she does a wonderful job and I don't want her to lose my business.  Continue supporting those people you have gone to for years if you can.  They need your business too! 

16.  Stop eating out frequently.  We have been eating out way more than I would like to admit this summer.  I have been meeting friends and co-workers and my mom and daughter for lunches.  Instead, I am going to ask them to bring a lunch and meet them somewhere.  We have places to eat around campus and there's always the city park.  I used to eat a sandwich at work and meet someone for coffee or tea later (I will go back to that).  Don't ignore your friends or skip meeting up with them.  Just find new ways to do it.   Now, this doesn't mean that you can't ever eat out.  I am still going to eat out on occasion, but I will try to make sure it is within my budget.  Plus, eating in your own community supports local business.       

17.  Be thankful!  Remember what you have that is great in life.  I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful family.  My husband and I area on the same page financially and have the same future goals.  I am thankful to have a good home to live in, plenty of land to grow my own garden, wonderful neighbors and kids for my child to play with. I am thankful to have my parents next door so we are able to help each other out. I am thankful for Wilmington College for my education and providing me an income and wonderful co-workers for the past 10 years. I am thankful to have my health.

Set your goals, cut back where you can and be thankful for what you have.  Staying positive about these things makes them easier to achieve.  If you think negatively about achieving your goals, it won't happen.  You will hit bumps in the road, I certainly have and some recently, but get over it and keep going.  Hope we can all begin living positively well!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kid Friendly Meals - My Favorite Web Sites

Healthy eating can be truly difficult when you have a busy family and little time to prepare dinner on some nights. It's easy to throw a frozen pizza in the oven when you have run out of time (like I did this week). Planning ahead is essential.

This weekend I plan on getting back on track by preparing my menu, checking out this week's grocery ads and setting a budget. I keep a long list of foods that my family likes to eat, but I have been looking for some new ideas and came across some really great Web sites with recipes that everyone will love. If you are hard pressed for time and need some new ideas, check these out:

Super Healthy Kids
This site is really cute and user friendly. I love the way this mom writes and her meals are extremely budget friendly!! She even has a recipe for cereal power bars. I have found numerous meal ideas on here that I am going to use!

Eating Well

This website doesn't just have kid friendly meals, but I did link you directly to kid menus because I know they are the most difficult to please. I love the look of almond crusted chicken fingers! Yummy.

Meal Makeover Moms
This site has a lot of information, not just about recipes or meal ideas. However, there is a lot of information to be found.

There are a million other Web sites out there with loads of information about how to feed your family nutritious food without blowing the bank. Check these out and I will do my best to find others to pass along. Happy eating!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Homemade Bread is Easy Now!

I absolutely love baking it! I have grown to dislike the gummy consistency of most overly processed store bought bread. But homemade bread takes so darn long to make. There's the kneading, the rising, and the get the picture. It takes forever. Until now! I am excited to say that I have become a convert of the "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" movement. Okay, so it's not actually a movement yet, but I think it will become one!

I first found the recipe on Mother Earth News -

It's so incredibly easy to make consisting of only four ingredients - flour, water, salt, yeast. You literally mix them together, let it rise for a little while and put it in the fridge to use over a span of two weeks. By the end of two weeks, the bread starts to take on a sourdough consistency which is just amazing. I love it and I now I can seriously have my bread every day!!

Here's a quick version of the recipe for boule:
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tbsps granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 Tbsps granulated kosher or other coarse salt (if using regular table salt, reduce!)
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour

Mix dry ingredients, add water and mix until doughy consistency forms and let rise. Place in bowl with lid, but you do not want it to be airtight.

It is that simple! Place in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

I know that most people wonder if baking their own bread is really a good idea that it will lead to extra pounds. Well, it might if we eat too much of it. I don't use bread for sandwiches at lunch very often, but this bread comes in handy for toast in the morning. This makes a great ciabatta bread that would be great for sandwiches. The book "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois gives you a ton of different ways to make your bread - naan, pita, roasted potato garlic bread, granola bread, spinach-feta bread...tons of different bread! I am really excited about having bread in which I can give you the exact ingredients. I am sick of the laundry list of ingredients that go into other breads so this makes me feel a little bit safer and it's really no more time consuming than going to the store except one type of dough can yield you several different styles of bread (pita, naan, sourdough, white use the same recipe). Check out the book and see for yourself! I picked my copy up at the local library.

You can also use the boule for pizza dough, but I found another quick recipe that I mixed up one night when I got home and had pizza dough in about five minutes. This was found at labeled Pizza Dough I. I added a few of the seasonings (listed below) to mine. I threw in however much I thought looked good at the time so I apologize for not adding amounts.

Homemade pizza dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
Add oregano, garlic, or Italian seasoning, parmesan or anything other seasoning at this stage.
1 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup warm water

1. Combine flour, salt, sugar, seasonings and yeast in a bowl. Mix in oil and warm water. Stir until combined and dough starts to form. Spread out on a large pizza pan.
*Add yeast to water and let foam for a crispier crust.

2. Bake crust for 5-7 minutes before adding toppings to keep from being doughy in the middle.

2. Bake at 375 degrees C for 20-25 minutes.

Homemade bread can be as easy and quick as store bought and can offer many other variations. Use different kinds of flour (wheat, rye, oat, etc) to lend a heartier taste to the crust and to add more fiber. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

11 Free (or Really Cheap) Activities for Kids This Summer

My little one has her first day off of school this week. Summer is officially here. Unfortunately, we are not able to join our local pool this year due to finances being a little tighter this year. She stays with my mother in the summer and she doesn't have a ton of cash to blow either so we are always on the look out for free or close to free (or cheap) things to do in the summer. Here is what I have come up with so far...

1. Library Fun - Our library has lots of great programs in the summer. In fact, our library has a group from Newport Aquarium coming with some reptiles this summer. They seem to have all kinds of fun things planned and it's all FREE!! But hurry and sign up now because many public library programs fill up quick!

2. Local lakes and parks - We have Caesar's Creek and Cowan Lake parks very close by. They are free to swim and take hikes for the day. Camping is not terribly expensive especially if you pitch a tent. It's generally about $15-20 a night depending on where you camp.

3. YMCA - This one isn't exactly free, but they offer scholarships to those who cannot entirely afford to pay for their programs. The Clinton County YMCA is working on improving all of it's programs for kids and will roll out a fun children's fitness program this summer. It will start on Wednesday nights at 5:45-6:45 so parents can drop their kids off while they go workout themselves.

4. Flea Markets - My kid is a huge bargain hunter. Although she usually only goes to the local flea market with a couple of bucks in her pocket, she manages to have a great time and always comes back with a fun item.

5. Parks and Playgrounds - Parks again! Your local park most likely has playground equipment to play on. Take your kids and let them run out all of their pent up energy and then take them home for homemade popsicles and if your lucky, a nap!

6. Theater Groups - Look for programs offered by your local theater or college. Our college has a program called Kids & Company. It's free for kids and every kid gets to be in the play. They only audition for the part. It keeps them busy for a couple of weeks in the afternoons and then you have a really fun play to go to in the end. The play costs money, but it's not very much. It's also a great way for kids to make friends.

7. Crafts and Home Fun - My little one loves to paint, sew and do just about any craft imaginable. I have tons of fabric that I picked up at yard sales and thrift stores and I have a giant roll of paper I picked up at our local newspaper. She is allowed to use any of this stuff at any time. Find some fun craft ideas on-line and let them have at it. This is especially great on a rainy or extremely hot day when going outside just doesn't sound too appealing unless you are going swimming.

8. Homemade Slip-N-Slide - My husband bought an inexpensive Slip-N-Slide a week or so ago. Our daughter slid down that thing so many times (okay, we may have tried it too) that it busted (that might have been our fault). My husband has been looking all over and has found that inexpensive plastic rolls found at Wal-Mart and other retailers would make a great homemade Slip-N-Slide. All he needs to do now is figure out to put at the bottom so she (we) can end up in a nice little pool of water at the end. We have two acres and a lot of it is one long hill which is perfect for this contraption. I can't wait to try it out ;).

9. Gardening - We started a garden this year and our daughter has been helping us with it. I can't wait to start harvesting and preparing our bounty. This will be a great lesson for our child and we will healthy fresh and healthy meals because of it. Gardening is not expensive and you don't need a lot of room to create one. Our local college even offers small plots for anyone that is interested. They provide all of the equipment. Look for community gardens in your area if you don't have the room or the funds to start your own.

10. Festivals - We joke that Clinton County is the festival capital of Ohio. We have festivals all the time. Most of them are free or really cheap to get into. Most communities have at least one or two in the summer so be on the look out for festivals in your area.

11. Host Friends - Invite your child's friend/s over for a sleep over or for play dates. This is a very inexpensive way for you little one to enjoy summer. That's really all my kid wants all summer long. She just wants to play and have fun with other kids. Mine doesn't have any siblings and her triplet cousins aren't big enough to play just yet, so we invite friends over to play. Find activities for them to do outside or crafts when they come in to keep them busy. You can also do a fun movie night and pop corn and act like your really at a movie theater. Check a movie out at your local library and enjoy!

This list isn't as long as it could be. Keep an eye out, check your local paper, Google the information, ask around, call the local college and parks. There is a lot to do for free if you just look for it. Hope you have a safe and healthy summer!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dealing with Stress

It has been ages since my last post. I decided to take some time off to finish my final paper for my master's degree. I am not completely finished, but I am almost there! The reason I chose to end the hiatus was because I needed to. Someone last week asked me how I handled my stress. I answered that I normally exercise, journal or talk it out. Lately, I have only been dealing with stress by talking it out. This works well, but not as well as the combination always has. So, I hit the gym yesterday and decided to go back to blogging today.

I started wondering how other people have been dealing with their stresses since the economic downturn. I have noticed that many people that I see on a regular basis in my community look like they have gained a few pounds. Our community was hit especially hard this past two years with our largest employer (DHL) picking up and leaving thousands jobless. I began wondering if many of us gaining weight is due to the stresses we have felt because of the economy. Then I realized that many of us are not dealing with our stresses in healthy ways including myself.

I need to take a step back and remind myself that snacking to relieve stress doesn't work. What has worked over the years is going for a run or a long walk to clear my head. If that doesn't do it, I can sit down and write down my thoughts. I took a stress management class many years ago and many of the journaling tricks I learned there have continued to help me today, especially the part about writing down what you are thankful for about your life each and every day. I have written about this in a previous post but it's definitely worth repeating.

So how do you best handle stress? Physical exertion can be a great way to feel better. Try getting out for a walk with your family every evening, or go for a run in the morning before work, get a game of one-on-one going or play some tennis with your spouse. There are many great ways to relieve your stress in a physical way, eating is not one of them. I am taking my own advice right now and I am getting off this chair and going for a quick run before work. I am sick and tired of my pants getting tighter! Adios for now....

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Interview with Personal Trainer and Amateur Figure Competitor, Amy Boeckmann

Amy Boeckmann is a Personal Trainer who works out of the Clinton County YMCA and her home. She is mother to two beautiful children and is an amateur figure competitor. She will be competing this March 2010 at the Arnold Sports Festival in the Amateur Figure Competition. Pretty impressive! I wanted to ask her a few of the questions I know most women are curious about when they see someone in such great physical shape.

This post can also be found at my other site

Hope you enjoy!

Photo of Amy Boeckmann and me

Q: Can we ask how old you are?

A: Of course, I am 33.

Q: Have you always been athletic?

A: Somewhat. I played softball growing up and throughout high school. I began teaching aerobics right out of college and still currently have classes. I started weight training about four years ago.

Q: Have you ever struggled with your weight or eating?

A: No, I have never been overweight. However, every year older I get, I have to work harder to remain the same weight.

Q: How long have you been training clients?

A: I have been training clients full time for two years.

Q: Why did you start training for figure competitions and how long have you been training?

A: After my son Kale was born (he is four), I decided I would hire a personal trainer to get myself back into shape. I worked with her for about a year before making the decision to compete. My trainer is an IFBB Professional and a truly motivating and positive influence in my life. When I told her my interest in competing, we picked a show date and I never looked back!

Q: How do you stay motivated?

A: Wow, this is a hard question. Some days I am not sure! With every competition, I consider myself a winner if I train and diet to the best of my ability. I wake up, praising God for even just the physical ability to train. Some days it is most definitely a struggle to fit in my workout, but it is now simply a part of my routine. I usually ask God for focus and energy on those days!

Q: You are also a single mother of two? How do you juggle motherhood, clients and competing? You must be extremely busy all the time. How do you fit in your own training and food prep?

A: I do have two wonderful children, Taylor, 8 and Kale, 4.They are both very inspiring and don’t think twice about it when I am on the treadmill for the third time in one day. Taylor actually said to me today – “momma, you woke up too late to do your cardio this morning!” It is a busy schedule, but I believe that you make time for what you want to do. I do most of my cardios first thing in the morning before they get out of bed and I am fortunate enough to be able to do my weight training between clients at the gym. I also try to prepare most of my food for the week on Sunday afternoons. Fitting in the time to train is challenging so I try to keep myself and my clients as organized as possible.

Q: You have begun training some of your clients for figure competitions. One of them has been doing quite well. Tell us about that…

A: I have a few clients that have been competing. It is very rewarding to see these girls set their goals and push themselves until they reach them. One client in particular, Cynthia Merchant has done extremely well competing. Cynthia is very focused and works really hard. It is so exciting to see her, along with the others, on stage doing something they are passionate about!

Q: What is the best advice for someone new to training?

A: I want to see people make health a priority in their lives! God only gave us one body and I believe that He meant for us to take c

are of it. That doesn’t mean having to spend hours in the gym, but that does mean setting aside time each day to focus on improving our health. I have three pieces of advice to give to someone who is new to exercise. 1) Do not expect results too quickly. It took more than a few weeks to get your body out of shape, it will certainly take longer to get it back into shape! 2) If you are starting a brand new program, limit the time per week that you workout. This will keep you from getting burned out before it has time to work. And lastly, continue to vary your workouts. Your body adapts easily and needs to constantly be challenged if it is going to continue to change and improve.

Q: Can you give us some tips on working out smarter or harder?

A: I am a big fan of short, high intensity cardio workouts and focused weight training sessions. I recommend that all my clients keep changing up their workouts to keep their bodies guessing and on the path to continually improving. Of course all workout programs need to be followed with a clean diet! That is the answer my clients like the least!

Q: Everyone wants to know how a figure competitor eats. Can you share an example of what you would eat in a day?

A: A competitor’s diet is made up of several small meals per day. A typical day might look like this: egg whites and oatmeal for breakfast, a mid morning protein shake and an apple, grilled chicken salad for lunch, tuna and green vegetables mid afternoon and grilled fish and green vegetables for dinner. The diet is very clean with no sugar and limited in sodium.

Q: Why do you do this – train clients and compete?

A: I love this job! I love helping people reach their fitness goals, I love making a difference in their lives and encouraging them to do things they never thought possible. I get very vested in my clients, because I truly want to see them succeed!

Q: Who are your role models in the fitness industry or otherwise?

A: One of my role models in the fitness industry is my trainer and dear friend, Latisha Wilder. She is a wonderful person and has a deep rooted faith that I think has enhanced her career. She was the one that taught me that if you work and train as hard as possible each and every show then you are already a winner!

Thanks to Amy for being so candid!

If anyone is interested in training with Amy or just learning more, please contact the Clinton County YMCA at (937) 382-9622. Other trainers are available as well!

Friday, February 19, 2010

What's in YOUR cookies?

I was watching Oprah a couple of weeks ago and she had author Michael Pollan on discussing the new food documentary - Food 101.

He talks a lot about our food and what is in it or how it's made. It really makes you think about the junk we eat. He always says that if your grandmothers wouldn't recognize a food, than you shouldn't eat it.

Think about this for a second. Our grandmothers ate meat, potatoes, vegetables and home baked goods. All of the foods we have been conditioned not to eat over the last 40 years.

I adore baking and have gone back to baking from scratch over the past few years. Recently, I decided to whip up some no bake chocolate oat cookies. They have very few ingredients that I always keep on hand.

Seeing how few ingredients my homemade cookies had, I took out the processed pre-packaged cookies I had picked up for my husband. I flipped them over and took a look at the ingredient list. Holy cow! There were so many ingredients and most I didn't recognize. What's really interesting is that they have to add this warning: " May contain milk, wheat or soy." Isn't that odd? The ingredients I do recognize are the ones they warn people about.

What has happened to our food? It's really frightening and I cannot believe we have not been really ticked off by what our government passes off as food.

Michael made such a good point on the show when he talked about making your own junk food. He said that it's okay to your favorite foods as long as you know what's going into them. He's not saying to eat home made fried chicken every day, but once in awhile it's fine. Just eat natural foods that are closest to their natural state.

I adore my baked goods and have a real thing for pancakes. However, I rarely get them at a restaurant or out of a box. I make them from scratch and I have even come up with my own high protein recipe that I love and can eat most days.

Start thinking about what fast food restaurants and food companies are putting into your food. Would you really feed your child something dangerous on purpose? Well, we are ingesting unhealthy and dangerous ingredients all the time by eating this junk.

If you rely on packaged foods right now for most meals, try switching to one home cooked meal a week and then, two and so on. We have come to realize that my home cooking is much tastier than anything we can get out of a box or through a drive through and it doesn't take any more time. It just takes a little planning ahead. I will go into this more in another blog.

In the meantime, go to this link "The Truth About Food with Michael Pollan"
Read up! I think you will be amazed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

School Lunches

I was just reading my Tightwad Gazette II by Amy Dacyczyn for the tenth time this year. Every time I read it I am looking for something a little different. This time I am thinking about my child's lunches. First, I need them to be healthy. Second, I need them to be affordable. Third, I need her to want to eat them.

Sometimes kids can be rough on each other and when you send a kid with a lunch everyday, it's amazing what they say or think about it. Most of the time my little girl could care less and eats her lunch without complaints. Other times, she comes home and says her friends have individually wrapped chips and other snacks. I cringe as she tells me this. First of all, I believe individually wrapped foods to be complete and total junk. Second, I think they are huge money wasters. My first instinct is just to say we don't have the money, but I know this only makes her feel like we are struggling when that really isn't the case entirely. I just don't want to waste what little money we do have right now!

Amy's book has a great way of handling such a conversation about school lunches (pps 234-236).
1. Do the math. She says to sit your little ones down and show them what it costs to buy these items compared to buying a piece of fruit (she compares fruit and fruit snacks in this instance). She explains that buying individual juice boxes compared to regular juice is like throwing money into the trash since the juice costs so much less than the packaging.
2. Talk nutrition. Talk about the fact that the food they are eating is much more nutritious and healthy for them then the foods that have almost had all nutritional value extracted in the processing.
3. Environmental concern. Kids are understanding this even more now than they did when Amy wrote her book. Our entire country is talking about recycling and taking care of the environment. We need to throw less stuff away and be more thoughtful about what we buy.
4. Show them the money. Parents who are buying prepackaged foods are not necessarily richer than families who don't. They just have different ideas about what's important. Not that they are bad in any way!!! Just that they would prefer to buy something they can enjoy now instead of putting that money towards a house or something large they can enjoy later.
5. Get creative. If you want to make your child's lunch seem better, then get creative. Try making fun food items to stick in their lunches. Her idea was to send fruit juice jigglers, popcorn, trail mix, pies in tiny aluminum tins, etc. I am sure you can come up with a million different ideas for your kids lunch.
6. Let them work for it. I know this probably sounds so terrible to most parents, but I sure don't. Our kids need to learn what it takes to earn those packaged chips and Hostess cupcakes. Have them do a chore that will equal the amount of one of those food items and then have them purchase it at the store with their own money. I love this idea since my child often thinks that money just automatically comes with a debit card.

I have summarized a lot here and I haven't given you all the details listed in the book (pick one up at the library). It's not hard to make a school lunch and it sure is healthier and more affordable than sending them off to buy their lunch each day. Who knows what they are eating when they buy lunch, I can tell you it's probably not vegetables! Don't cave when your kids complain about what other kids are eating. Talk to them and explain the health ramifications and try getting creative so they don't feel deprived. Oh and a nice note to your child can also go a loooooong way!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Workout Video Reviews

I recently started doing exercise videos because I don't like to go outside when it's really cold and snowing to the point the snow reaches my knees. I do like to sled but don't feel much like running and I always end up doing indoor circuit training or walking on my treadmill in my basement and going to the YMCA during lunch. I had been getting a little bored and thought I would shake up my routine. So far, these are the videos that I have tried along with a quick summary and my opinion.

P90X with Tony Horton (purchased through Beachbody) - I actually borrowed these videos. I didn't want to spend money trying out new videos just to find that I hate them. I really like these videos so far. They are a little more hardcore than some videos so do not expect a regular aerobic workout like most of us are used to. This series incorporates weight training, plyometrics, pull-ups, push-ups, lunges galore and cardio. I was actually expecting this to be even more difficult than it is, but that's only because I have worked with a personal trainer who is pretty tough. I started pushing myself even harder than she does and therefore, I am in pretty decent shape. I would definitely recommend this series of videos, but for people who do not have any joint or back problems. I also would not recommend this for someone who has a lot of weight to lose. I suggest you start out with something a little tamer for now and work your way up. If you are looking to really lean out, add muscle and get in some serious shape, than I recommend P90X. Borrow them first if you can.

Jillian Michaels Cardio Kickbox - This video is approximately 25 minutes long. It will definitely get your heart rate up and you will be sweating. This is a great workout for someone who is just starting out. I did Tae Bo forever and have attended many a kickboxing class, so this was not that difficult for me. If you have already been doing a lot of kickboxing, skip this video. If you are new to kickboxing, than this video is for you.

Turbo Jam Cardio Party with Charlene Johnson - I am afraid I didn't really give this one a fair shake. I am not very coordinated and within the first couple of minutes of trying this video I was completely lost and a little more than annoyed. This is a video that requires those of us with two left feet to do this over and over before actually getting a decent workout from it. Therefore, I don't feel I can give it a fair review. It generally gets great reviews, but I am assuming most of these people have done it many times or are extremely coordinated. I rented this one from the video store. Glad I did and not sure that I will try it again.

CRUNCH Boot Camp Training - Okay, this is an old one that I had on VHS. Yes, VHS! Anyway, I am reviewing this one because it is an oldie but definitely a goodie. It gets your heart rate up and gives you a great booty blasting workout. I recommend this one for most fitness levels. My seven year old can do the moves and really likes this video. She tried a different one with me and walked off after a couple of minutes. She went straight back to doing this video. So I can say that my seven year old daughter and I both give this video two thumbs up!

If you are looking to change up your routine and are stuck inside, rent or order a few videos from your local library. Do not pay for something until you have tried it a few times. They are not always worth the money. I didn't review Tae Bo here, but Billy's videos are some of my all-time favorites!!! That is one of the best workouts you can get from a video. Try some new videos and let me know what you think. I am always looking for something new.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Step 2 - Get your Z's!

Well, it's Monday morning and I overslept. Figures. I was planning on getting up and logging a few miles on the treadmill before getting ready. I guess I needed the sleep since I NEVER oversleep unless I really need it. I am generally a perfect 6 and a half hour sleeper. I like to go to bed around 9 or 9:30 p.m. and my body wakes me up on it's own between 4 and 5 a.m. depending on when I actually fell asleep. Sometimes if I go to bed at 9, I wake up at 3:45. That's always a bummer. But I know what my body needs. It needs 6 and a half to feel good. There are so many schools of thought on how much sleep you need. However, more and more research concludes different results. I personally feel it's best to do what your body tells it to. My body is tired around 9 so I go to bed at that time. My body wakes up alive and perky around 4ish so I get up then. I am able to exercise and get ready for my day. I am usually in a really great mood by the time I get to work because I have had time to get moving. I didn't get to bed on time last night and therefore, I slept way past my normal wake time. That's okay. I needed it.

I had mentioned Journaling as the first step in our process of taking control of our lives and health once and for all. I want you to take control of your sleep now. This is step 2. I want you to listen to your body and start getting to bed when your body says it's time. Take a book to your room and a glass of chamomile tea if necessary. I do this when I know I am tired but my body is still wired from the day. Lie down and breathe slowly and deeply letting your body relax. Use stress management techniques to calm yourself or stretching to loosen your body. Sleep is extremely important to reaching our goals this year so make sure you are getting enough. Well, off to start my day! Good luck!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Food for Thought and Thoughts for Food - by Jessie Loeffelholz

I asked some friends to think of ways to save money at the grocery. Here is what one of them came up with...

1. Eat before you shop! When you are hungry, you may buy on impulse.

2. Shop the perimeter of the store. Why? Here you will find the healthier, fresher foods. Breads, fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products are usually stored around the perimeter of the store. Aisles are usually where you will find the processed and junk foods

3. Make a list! Check the sale ad and make a food list based on sale items and stick to your list! Only buy what is on the list, how many times do you go into the store to get 3 items and come out with many more!

4. Plan out meals! Use your food list to plan out meals in advance. Make sure you take inventory of what you already have at home that you can use in meals to prevent overbuying of the same item.

5. Sales! Watch the sale ads, and buy healthy foods that you will eat while they are on sale. Find a great deal on chicken? Buy on sale and freeze for later. Find a sale on bread? Remember, you can freeze it!

6. Speaking of freezing. Buy frozen fruits and veggies. The budget experts online say that can often times be ½ the cost of fresh and are still nutritious. They are also precut and prewashed which saves time!

7. For a quick weeknight meal idea, cook up your on sale chicken in the crock pot, shred, and use throughout the week for meals, or freeze in portion sized bags for later meals. You can make soups, tacos, and more, and quick!

8. Clip clip clip coupons! Organize them based on the store aisles. Match the coupons with the sale ads to save even more. Remember, just because you have a coupon does not mean you are getting the best deal. Sometimes, store brand products will still be cheaper! Find coupons in Sunday papers and online.

9. Unit pricing! Watch and compare unit pricing. Check the price tag, each tag will have a unit price. Buy the product at the least expensive unit price, at the amount that you will use.

10. Try the switch! Try to switch from brand names to store or generic names, on many of the products you may not even know the difference! First time trying this? At first, start with products such as rice, pasta, eggs, and cheese.

11. Eat in! Try to limit how much you go out to eat. In the mornings, eat breakfast and make coffee at home. Pack your lunches at work. Limit how much you go out to eat at dinner. Most of the time, you can save ½ or more of what you would in a restaurant just by eating in. And, you are able to control what ingredients go into your meals, more than likely making this a healthier option too!

12. Be a smart shopper! Watch for mistakes at the checkout lines. Make sure that sale items do ring up on sale. Always double check your receipt and your change. And, know how many coupons you will be using and make sure that each of the coupons scanned correctly. Do not hesitate to ask questions! You could cost yourself money if you do not ask questions! At some grocery stores, if your item is incorrectly scanned, they will give you the purchase price plus half back.

Great tips!!!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Let Your Creative Side Shine!

I have been attempting to find balance in my life. This has been going really well. Over the past few months I have been really trying to be more creative. I love being creative and I have let a lot of fun hobbies go by the wayside because of all of my work, school and volunteer commitments. My hobbies bring my family and I closer together and I have really missed them. When I paint, my daughter is right along with me painting. When I sew, she is right there cutting and handsewing. When I do something with furniture, my husband, father and kid are normally somewhere close by. It's great.

I have been letting the creative juices flow. I have been working on my other blog: and I am having a blast.

Check out this week's posts. Today, I posted my table transformation

I had this sofa table that didn’t quite go with anything else in my house and then there were the letters that my child scratched into it when she was 4. We tried covering it with table runners and other items, but it was just about to be thrown into storage. I didn’t want to totally get rid of the table. I purchased this from a furniture dealer at a flea market when my husband and I first moved in together (memories) and I absolutely hate wasting good furniture! So a makeover was in order.

My house has more of a french country feel and so I tried painting and distressing it.

I just love how it turned out. I started out only lightly distressing it, but then I just couldn’t seem to stop! Some may think I overdid it, but I love it. It really pulls my great room together now (although the great room still needs a lot of help).

You don’t have to get rid of something because it no longer fits your style. Try freshening it up. You could paint and leave it alone or you could paint it and distress it, stencil it, or apply contact paper to the top. Add fun new knobs and maybe a skirt to an old table. Let your imagination run wild and save that old piece of furniture from the landfill. There are times when no matter what you do the piece just isn’t going to work in your home. Don’t keep it, but don’t toss it. If you live in town, set it out by the curb on a nice day. I guarantee someone will grab it in no time. I have gotten some really cool pieces from curb shopping. If you don’t want to do that, stick it in a yard sale, give it to a friend, put it on Craig’s List or, but don’t throw it out. It will work great for someone else.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Weight Loss Revolution: Step 1 - Journal It!

I stated in my last post that I am tired of diets. I am also tired of hearing depressing statistics about how much weight Americans are gaining yearly. I just read a 2007 article posted on the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health website stating, “If the rate of obesity and overweight continues at this pace, by 2015, 75 percent of adults and nearly 24 percent of U.S. children and adolescents will be overweight or obese.” Are you kidding me? Seventy-five percent of adults by 2015? That’s really soon and I hope they were off in their numbers, but this should scare everyone straight.

Let me also say that I do not believe everyone is born to be thin. I am not classically thin. My percentage of body fat is pretty good, but I am thicker. I also have a lot more muscle on my frame than a lot of women because I lift weight a lot, therefore I weigh more. We cannot base everything on a scale. However, it can be your guide. You know if you need to lose a few pounds. I could probably stand to lose about 10-15. Just don’t attempt to lose weight and exercise because someone else wants you to do it. You have to want to be healthier for you and you only.

I am proposing we take baby steps right now to improve our health. I am not calling for a New Year’s resolution. I am simply saying that each and every one of us needs to take a very small step in changing our behavior and our health. I am never going to tell you to quit eating carbs and start eating low-fat everything. What I am saying is take it one step at a time. Example: If you drink 2 or more sodas per day, start paying attention to how many you are drinking and drink one less.

What is the best way to know how many you drink per day or how much you are eating? Start keeping a journal. This is step #1. Keeping a journal is the simplest and easiest way to improve your health. If you start keeping track of what you are eating and when, you will know better how to make changes. Don’t worry about tracking calories, carbs or fat grams.

Here’s what I want you to keep track of in your journal:

1. What did you eat? Just what you ate to begin with and if you had one helping or more. Later you can start keeping better track of serving sizes.

2. What time did you eat? Just the time of day will be sufficient.

3. How did you feel when you ate? How hungry were you when you started eating? How did you feel afterwards? For example, were you only a little hungry when you started eating and then really full when you stopped? Or were you really bored when you started eating, were you tired, depressed, anxious, happy, stressed, etc?

4. How much sleep did you get last night? You can log what time you went to bed and what time you got up if it makes you feel better.

5. What are you thankful for today? After logging all of the other stuff, I want you to quickly think of one thing you are thankful for today. Write that down. No one else has to see this but you. If you don’t feel you have a whole lot to be thankful for, just use being thankful for being alive or thankful for something small like your eye color, having hair, etc. Start anywhere and continue this daily.

Don’t make any excuses about having to wait to start a journal until you have gone out and purchased one. I don’ t care if you use the back of old envelope. You can also find free journals online. Get started right this second.

This journal is for your eyes only. I want you to be the one to really give it a look. Keep this journal for a week or two. After that, take a look at the journal and see where you think you could make some changes. Maybe you find yourself snacking needlessly on junk in the middle of the afternoon when you are tired or bored. Start preparing for that mid-afternoon slump by bringing healthy snacks. Ger up and take a quick walk in the afternoon to wake yourself up before the snack. You may find you have more energy. Are you eating breakfast every morning? Is it the right kind of breakfast? Do you have enough energy? Are you getting enough sleep?

Sleep can play a key role in your health. I will post more on sleep later. For now, start your journal and find out where you are. Happy journaling!

This post can also be found at

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolution or Revolution?

Happy new year everyone. It is January 4th and this is officially the beginning of my new year as I see it. I start back to work today after a nice week off and has it been a lazy one. I spent most of my time playing Wii with my 7 year old and doing crafts. It was a lot of fun and it is time with my family that I would never give up.

I know this is the time for everyone to start their New Year’s Resolutions. I am sure you have on their to lose weight, right? Who doesn’t? I was at the grocery store on New Year’s Eve. I was walking through the center aisle when I came across a book rack filled with diet and exercise books. I was not in the least bit surprised by this being New Year’s Eve. Many people started their resolutions at the first of the year and diet book sales are probably through the roof. Glaring at me were titles such as, The Full Plate Diet, YOU on a Diet, The G.I. Diet, The Big Breakfast Diet, and The Eat Clean Diet to name but a few. I cannot deny the fact that I have been more than interested in reading diet books over the years. I have always looked for the final diet that would be the answer to all of my own weight issues. I was looking for the inspiration that I needed and not finding it in these books. I was young and didn’t have family to inspire me to take better care of myself. I am not exactly overweight, but I have always struggled to keep my weight under control. I have tried numerous diets for very short periods of time only to lose weight and gain it back.

Well, I for one am sick and tired of diets! I am tired of the celebrities and “doctors” promoting all of these fad weight loss plans encouraging yo-yo dieting and unrealistic practices. These practices have not worked and our country has gotten fatter and fatter despite the billions spent on the diet industry.

I have an idea. It’s not a new idea. I want to make 2010 the year that we all stop the crazy
“dieting” and restrictive eating practices. Make this the year to become healthier and leaner not because we think we aren’t skinny enough. No, I want you to love your body and who you have become. Take a good look at your body’s abilities this year. Are you still able to walk or run? Are you able to utilize your body for the purposes for which it is meant? If so, then be thankful! Thank your body and take better care of it. Be appreciative of your body this year. Become a better role model for your family this year. Don’t cut out all of your favorite foods. Enjoy them in moderation and stop punishing yourself when you do enjoy them. Just get back to eating healthier for the next meal. Stop feeling deprived. If you know that you are overweight and need to take off a few pounds than do it, but do it slowly. You did not gain that weight in a week and you aren’t going to lose it in a week. If you had started losing weight slowly six months ago, you would be thinner by now right? Start now and see where you are six months from now. Do not obsess over it. Treat your body as your vessel. This vessel of yours needs to be maintained. You wouldn’t pour garbage into your gas tank and expect your car to run well so why would your body?

Make this the year that you see your doctor. What is your family’s health history? Does heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, strokes, etc run in your family? If so, what can you do to prevent these diseases? Let 2010 be the year we begin to prevent disease instead of having to treat more and more people for preventable disease and illness. Let’s take back our health and this will eventually help us lower our healthcare costs.

One of my favorite stories is about an 84 year old man that I met a couple of years ago. He came to a trail run that I had planned. I was curious about this man and so I ran alongside him. He was fully capable of chatting the entire way and he told me his incredible story. He had been in his sixties when he discovered he had cancer. He was given 6-12 months to live. He decided he was not ready to die and gave up smoking. He became a vegan and gradually took up running. He was cancer free at the time of our run and said that he had run approximately 24 marathons at that point. He had not been physically active prior to his sixties and was a smoker. This was clear proof that you can change your lifestyle at any age.

I hope that I am never in his situation. Cancer runs through my family like a freight train. Those that do not die of cancer live to ripe old ages. Both of my living grandparents are close to 90. I want that to be me someday. I want to improve my quality of life years and live well like the 84 year old man I met that day. My grandfather turns 90 in March. He is still living in his own home. His mind is very clear. He has been helping my aunt build a home across the road from his by drawing up some of the plans and overseeing some of the work being done. He is quite capable of making his own decisions and still gets around well. I want to be like him. He is my inspiration.

Skip the resolutions this year. You will have forgotten them by February anyway. Resolve to change your life - period. Take baby steps and you can make these changes permanently. I will be with you along the way. Good luck and I hope you live a long happy and healthy life.