Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Perfect Snow Day AND Gumbo Soup

Monday, I got snowed/iced out of school and I am normally off work on Mondays for school, so I got to be a bum. For me, the best bum day goes as follows: sit in nightgown until 1:00 pm watching House of Cards and doing homework (I KNOW, bum days = no school or work, but I've got a serious problem!), do some laundry, get dressed and head out for a run with the intention of running 10 miles so you can say "I ran 10 miles in 10 degrees!", then cut the run short at 9 miles when you realize that the burning sensation in your hands is NOT going to go away and ending up with 9.25 miles on the books (hey it's a "bum" day!), shower, go grocery shopping, come home, set up laptop in kitchen with wireless headphones to continue watching House of Cards, cook dinner and..................... bake brownies. Okay, I know, I know... as a proponent of health, talking about baking brownies is a little counter-intuitive, but here's the thing. I really wanted some brownies. And not in one of those "eat some fruit to curb the sweet tooth" kind of ways, no this was a week-long, carnal, burning desire for some chocolaty, chunkity fudge brownies with pecans rolled up in them. After a week folks - you just have to give in. Sometimes you have to indulge and honestly all this running and being healthy isn't worth it if you don't get to indulge a little. So brownies were made and indulged upon, and they may or may not have included a handful of chocolate chips, a handful of white chocolate chips and a couple handfuls of pecans. (Thank goodness I have a 16 year old boy in the house to devour such things).

My hands were burning! 

That's the look of satisfaction.... and coldness!

Disclaimer: I have since been scolded for running in such cold weather due to it being unsafe (for various reasons), please keep that in mind on your own running endeavors.

I might also point out that last night (Tuesday), I made a point to get 7 miles in on the elliptical and do a taxing session of Body Pump so that I could indulge again last night guilt-free. With healthy eating throughout the day, I still managed to keep my calories at 1388 for the entire day!

Monday night Gumbo sounded really good, I was craving the spiciness of it and the protein rich foods that come in it... nothing about Gumbo did not sound yummy. I wasn't quite looking for something as heavy as gumbo, though, so I decided to try my hand at what I like to call Gumbo Soup. It turned out DELICIOUS and was super easy to make! So whilst I continued my House of Cards binge, I whipped up a tasty one pot meal:

Gumbo Soup

3 - chicken breasts, diced
1 lb - small shrimp (I used the cooked and just threw them in at the very end)
1 pckg - Smoked Turkey Sausage, sliced
1 bag - frozen broccoli cuts
1 bag - frozen okra cuts
1 bag - Barilla 3 cheese tortellini (everything is okay in moderation!)
1 bag of spinach (frozen or fresh - I used fresh)
1 pckg of mushrooms (I used sliced)
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper (I used a half a green and half a red), chopped
LOTS of garlic, chopped
2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 small cans of tomato sauce
beef bouillon to taste
Cajun seasoning to taste
Salt to taste
black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
3-4 bay leaves
cornstarch or flour

Fill a VERY large pot (like the kind you steam crab legs in) halfway with water and bring to boil. Add onion, garlic, bouillon, diced chicken breasts and seasonings and cook on a medium boil for about 15-20 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, sausage, spinach, mushrooms, okra and broccoli and bring to boil again. Once boiling, add either a roux of flour and margarine or a cornstarch and water mix to the pot to thicken to taste. (I did not measure this part at all so if you're not familiar with the technique, you may do a little searching on thickening of soups and stews... or some may just like a very light soup with no thickness at all.) I used the cornstarch method because I ran 9.25 miles on ice earlier in the day and had just gotten home from grocery shopping and was STARVING, so I didn't have the patience to make a roux (although it may have been even tastier). After stirring in your thickener (or not), add the tortellini and shrimp and cook at least 15 more minutes on a low boil (this may require a lowering of stove settings). I let mine cook about 20-25 more minutes after I added the cornstarch to achieve the optimal consistency. Add seasonings to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

New Goals, New Missions - Keep on Keeping on!

Ah, how fast time flies. You know how when you were a kid and you complained because Christmas took so long to come around? Or that you couldn't wait until your birthday came again? And so on and so forth. Every time someone would always reassure you to enjoy it while you could, because soon it would pass by all too quickly. I believe it's safe to say that I'm there, and that I'm terrified to see how much worse it gets the older I get. The amount of time I have available keeps shrinking and the things I have to do keep rising! It's a wonderful problem to have however; I'd much rather be able to say I have a full life than an empty one. So here's what's been going on.

First, the usual: My eating and exercise have been pretty well here lately. My weight has not changed, however my clothes are fitting better, so I'm happy. I've been running, doing Body Pump and the occasional elliptical session. I'm logging between 15 and 30 miles a week, depending on the week, and trying to get two Body Pump classes in a week. I've been playing around with my schedule, trying different times and classes to see if mornings or nights are better for what I'm trying to accomplish. I'm really not certain what my conclusion is on that yet. I've been eating much less sugary, refined and processed foods lately and have felt better for the choices I've been making. Over the winter I've enjoyed plenty of icy, snowy runs and have loved every minute of it. I have not done any races lately, but I am planning on doing the Memorial Half Marathon coming up in a couple of months!
Something about cold, treacherous runs gets my blood flowing!
For Christmas, my dad got my sister and I a Fitbit Flex. I love this thing, I've got to say. I know there is a recall on the Force, but I wouldn't have liked that one as much anyway, it's a little bulkier than I prefer. My goal is 10,000 steps a day, which I usually beat by thousands if I've gotten a run in, but is surprisingly more difficult to reach on a rest day. It has helped keep me moving knowing that I've only walked x amount of steps for the day.  

School has been going swimmingly, the first semester gave me the confidence I needed to keep trucking forward and this semester I decided to go ahead and take three courses. Last week was killer in that I had two exams, two quizzes, three new chapters, two papers, and three homework assignments. On top of all that, I am in the middle of a pretty intensive training at work, the first part of which I take online and the second of which I will go to a week long course and do training in person. It's safe to say that my brain has been a little mushy when I stop studying long enough to think about something! ;) 

I've also partnered up with a friend to work on a project he started over a year ago - Rev Hifi. The goal of Rev Hifi is to help unite the Oklahoma City area to develop our local culture and help promote thriving artists. There are numerous bands, filmmakers, photographers, and all around artists that are not recognized in OKC and we hope to help promote them through a Youtube channel that my friend has started. Since I've been on, I have had the pleasure of meeting some really cool people and we've already shot a music video, interviewed an awesome band and interviewed an insanely talented poet! It's crazy the kind of talent we're surrounded by that many are not aware of. Check out our promo video below:

This project, along with school and other forms of bettering myself, has become a large piece of the mission I've tasked myself with. Not only do I want to better myself, I want to help better society and people. I want to help people lose weight and become healthy, yes, but that's such a small step in what people are capable of doing. I want to make a difference, somehow, somewhere.

This brings to me where my mindset has been lately. Throughout every new experience, I strive to take something new away from it, if only a tidbit to become more self-aware. I've been introspective lately, struggling to figure out who I am and who I'd like to be. I find myself striving to be perfect, rather than accept myself for me. Rather than try to be "perfect", I need to work on aspects such as the way I think, being less judgmental, how I interact with people and being more optimistic. The problem with being introspective is that it can also trap you into being too caught up in yourself, it's a fine line. It's a tough task, to own up to one's flaws and to try to change them. Sometimes it's easier to play ignorance and just continue on in your own fashion as if you do not realize that you could be better. I did it for years. Now that I'm realizing how much better things could be, it's hard to take things as they are. But now I'm going into subjects way above and beyond our scope of topic at the moment! ;) It's suffice to say that I'm thinking about things way beyond my life, my house, my office, my school - all these little pieces are meaningless in the scheme of things, until you bring in everyone else and how we all make up a neighborhood, community, city, county, state and country... The broad scope of things make my everyday triumphs and struggles seem so trivial, I just wish I could see these things in advance, instead of retrospectively. Luckily, humans are adaptable and capable of improvement, we will see if that theory is applicable in my case. 

Anyway, that is what has been going on with me lately, nothing too terribly new. To end, I have a humorous conversation to share, I find it's something that both females and males should get a kick out of, although here is your TMI disclaimer!

Me: It's icky, it hurts. I hate being happy one minute and I hate being sad the next. I hate being crazy. I hate being a girl. It's not fair. I hate it!
<Insert my most pathetic of patheticist pouts here.>
Mark: I'm sorry... Why don't you take that Midol stuff or something?

This had me rolling for a good five minutes, because God bless him, gotta feel for dudes when they're around hormonal women! Maybe I can be psychotic, but thank goodness I'm not one of the ladies that throws a fit about being told to take Midol! And on that note, forgive me for I find all sorts of stupid things funny, TTFN!