End of Week 4

Ok, so this past week’s challenge was to avoid all fast food and fried food.  I started off pretty good, but in the end I failed.  (Caved?)

The beginning of the week was easy, I simply avoided, as I usually do.  On Thursday I took the kids to Magic Mountain and my plan was to fill my backpack with healthy snacks (avoiding Magic Mountain’s expensive junk food) and then take them to lunch.  I knew a sit down restaurant was an “allowed” option, but still, I knew in the back of my head that I’d rather end up at a place like Jersey Mikes.  I honestly just don’t see why a place like that is bad.  Except that I heard that Subway uses HFCS in their bread, which really disappoints me.  That is probably true of Jersey Mikes as well.  :-/    Anyway, the kids were so happy with the snacks I had packed that they had no interest in leaving for lunch, so Thursday ended up being a successful, following the rules day after all!  I thought I was home free!  Until Friday.  😦  Michael really wanted to cash in his free pizza coupon that he gets from school for filling out his reading chart.  I just didn’t have the heart to tell him no.  I am sure that if I explained how bad those little personal pizzas really are, he’d probably give them up, but for now it’s a rare treat.  I ordered him his pizza and got myself a “sub in a tub” from Jersey Mikes, avoiding the bread dilemma 🙂  Later that night I went to hang out with friends.  Since eating at friends’ houses is allowed I thought that lunch would be my only transgression for the week.  Until I arrived and saw her deep frying wings.  Oh man!  I didn’t think I knew anybody who actually owned a deep fryer!!!  I was tired and drinking margaritas.  I had no will power.  I ate her delicious wings along with the deep fried taquitos that came along later.  I feel like I completely blew the entire week of good behavior in one day!

Oh well.  Can’t win them all, right?  I did my best for 6 of the 7 days.  I’d call that pretty good still.  Heck, I did good for 19 of 21 meals!  Not terrible 😉


The Next Challenge: Week 4

Ok, so I successfully completed my own exercise challenge this week.  Yay me! Now on to the next one.  Should I make up my own, or should I tackle the 100days challenge?  Upon first looking at the new challenge from the 100days site, I thought “too easy!”  The challenge is to basically avoid fast food and deep fried foods for the week.  In a normal week, that would not be a challenge for me at all.  But then I started thinking…  It’s spring break.  We have lots of plans.  Some of those plans might leave us out and about at lunch time.  Even in those circumstance, I try to avoid fast food.  I might pick a place like El Pollo Loco, Subway, Jersey Mikes… I tend to think of those as a moderately healthy choice.  Looking at the rules of this challenge, I think I might have to avoid those though.  :-/  Here are the official rules:

Mini-Pledge Week 4: No Fast Food or Deep-Fried Food

By 100 Days of Real Food, on April 1st, 2011

The next mini-pledge is a two-fold challenge where we are asking people to avoid both fast food and deep-fried food for a week. I think this will be another one of those pledges that is hard for some and easier for others. First off, according to Wikipedia, fast food is defined as “food sold in a restaurant or store with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a packaged form for take-out/take-away.” Hopefully I don’t need to go into too much detail about why it would be beneficial for you to avoid fast food meals, but let’s take a moment to discuss the reasoning behind deep-fried food. The problem with something being deep-fried is that the food absorbs a great deal of oil during the cooking process. So when you eat the end product you are consuming far more oil – an unhealthy fat in most cases – than is recommended.

So here is next week’s pledge that officially starts on Monday:

Mini-Pledge Week 4: April 4 – April 10 – No fast food (as detailed below) or any foods that have been deep-fried in oil.

For this challenge you must avoid:

  • Restaurants with drive-thru windows
  • Convenience stores that also typically sell gas
  • Places where you watch them assemble your food through a glass wall
  • Restaurants that are situated in a “food court” setting
  • School lunches (most schools do not have a fully functioning kitchen and simply heat precooked meals)
  • Airplane food

The places where you can eat during this challenge:

  • Restaurants with waiter service (which aren’t always ideal when it comes to food quality, but we just had to draw the line somewhere)
  • Grocery stores (we recommend hitting the salad bar, vegetable sides and brown rice sushi)
  • Your own kitchen! :)
  • Friends’ houses

Even while you are eating at the “allowed” places you must still of course avoid deep-fried foods, which is trickier than it sounds. If it is crunchy and crispy you need to question it. We were even fooled fairly recently by some hard taco shells not realizing at first they probably got their crunchiness from being deep fried in oil.

Some other examples of deep-fried foods to be on the lookout for:

  • French fries
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Potato/tortilla chips
  • Chicken fingers
  • Chicken wings
  • Donuts
  • Corn dogs
  • Egg rolls

The goal of this challenge is to force you to figure out alternatives to a Big Mac even when you are starving and on the go. And the key to success is planning ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out where and when you will have your next meal. Consider packing some whole food snacks to hold you over including bananas, apples, oranges, nuts, popcorn (with minimal oil/salt), dried fruit, store-bought Lara Bars, whole-grain crackers, cheese sticks, etc. Also take the time to pack lunches for work, school, long car rides, and airplane trips.



I can see there being some challenges this week.  Wednesday, my dad will have Michael at lunch time.  There is a good chance he’ll take him somewhere I never would, like McDonalds.  Thursday I am taking the kids to Magic Mountain!  Yikes!  I already planned on taking them out of the park for lunch since I don’t want to pay top dollar for gross junk food.  But now where to?  I guess I can  pack a lunch in a cooler and picnic in our car?  We’ll see.  I have time to decide. I WILL be doing this challenge though.  I thought I should skip it since it’s an out of the ordinary week for me, but then I thought, in an ordinary week, it wouldn’t be a challenge for me at all.  Let’s take it on during this challenging week!!

Wish me luck!!


Sunday Run

Took Michael and Emily for a run this morning.  I have always tried to include them in some form of exercise.  I want them to have a life long love of exercise.  I want them to think of it as fun.  I want them to enjoy the challenge and be proud of their strong bodies.  They have joined me on runs before – usually one or two miles.  It has been a while though.  I wanted to take them today for the fun of it.  I also wanted to work them hard.  We’ve been having some discipline issues lately, especially with Emily.  I was thinking that perhaps if we keep her busy and physically active, her attitude might improve.  I hope so, I am running out of other ideas.

So, we ran.  We ran from our house 1/2 mile to Fair Oaks Ranch School.  Once there (The last little bit of that run is up a pretty steep hill.) I let them rest/play on the playground while I ran one lap.  Then they joined me for a lap, then played, then joined me for 2, then played, ran one with me, played again and then finished strong with 2 more laps.  Actually, Michael did 3 that last time.  First one didn’t count because he whined and complained and ended up walking most of it.  After all that running we played a little while longer on the playground before heading home, where we ran the downhill parts and walked the big uphill.  All in all, I figure I ran about 3.5 – 4 miles and they ran two.  Not bad!  Especially when you think that they were playing in between laps.  That counts as exercise too!

Asparagus Guacamole

I ran 2 miles again yesterday morning.  Still tough, but I managed to do the same route in 2 min less than the day before, so yay! 🙂

Took today and tomorrow to rest.  Will have to do something Sunday to meet this week’s challenge goal.

As I was going through Michael’s backpack this afternoon I came across the monthly lunch menu sent home by the district.  The back always has a little newsletter with healthy tips and a recipe highlighting a fruit or vegetable that is in season.  I find this kind of funny, or sad maybe.  One side of the paper has healthy eating tips, the other shows the menu of what they are feeding the children.  Super healthy items like: pancake on a stick, butttermilk bar, hot dogs, chicken sticks, shrimp poppers… ugh.

How nice it would be if I could only stop packing lunches and send my kid to school each day to eat a healthy, wholesome meal.  Not going to happen anytime soon.  😦

Anyway, the newsletter had a recipe for Asparagus Guacamole.  I LOVE guacamole.  LOVE LOVE LOVE it!  I can make an enormous bowl and eat it all, no problem.  However, it’s kind of fattening.  Yes, it is a healthy fat and I’m good with that.  But still.  Now, I was hesitant to think  that asparagus would make a good substitute for avocados, but since I happened to have a bunch of organic asparagus in my fridge that I didn’t have plans for I figured it would be a good experiment.  Oh. My. Gosh.  I have to say, this stuff was super simple and super yummy!!!  I ate half of it immediately and it is taking a lot of willpower to let the other half chill in the fridge.  Because I cooked the asparagus first, the guac came out hot.  I’ve never eaten hot guac before.  :-/  but I tasted it just to see if it was going to be even remotely similar and my goodness, it does!  Granted, it tasted like hot guac.  But it was so good I couldn’t stop myself.  I ate a bunch.  So now, I am impatiently waiting for it to chill so I can try it cold.  I thought I’d share the recipe with you while I wait:

  • 10.5 ounces fresh, trimmed or frozen, cut asparagus. (I just used what I had… 15 stalks or so?  Didn’t count or weight them)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp canned green chili peppers, chopped
  • 1 tbsp onion (I used the dried flakes)
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper (I used seasoned pepper)
  1. Cook asparagus.  Drain well, pat dry.  (I put it in a covered casserole dish with 1/4 cup water and microwaved it for about 6 min.)
  2. Place in blender.  Add remaining ingredients.  Blend until smooth.

Dip will become less thick upon standing and will need to be stirred.

Let me know if you try it!!!

Running in the morning

I got up this morning to run before Ed left for work.  I’ve been thinking that’s my best opportunity to exercise, but quite frankly, I do NOT want to get out of bed!  He made it a little easier on me by decided to go run too.  Of course, we couldn’t go together and leave the kids in the house alone!  But just knowing that he was getting up earlier too and getting out there to run inspired me.  I ran 2 miles.  Well, I ran 1 mile, then ran/walked the 2nd.  It was hard, I felt so out of shape!  But when I got home, I felt so good for having gone!

Up and energized, I made the kids breakfast burritos… sauteed some spinach and carrots (finely shredded and diced) in a wee bit of coconut oil until they were nice and soft.  Threw in some eggs, pea shoots and micro greens and scrambled it all up.  Heated up some refried beans, added a little cheese and threw it all in a whole wheat tortilla.  Made pina colada smoothies to go with and they were set.  What a healthy breakfast!!!  The kids were excited to see something new and they devoured them.  Yay!

The best part about my run this morning was the feeling after – One of the main reasons why I haven’t been running lately was total lack of motivation.  I no longer want to run.  Used to be that I craved my runs and I’d be really grumpy if I went too many days without a good, long run!  But now, I can’t seem to find that desire anymore.  Running used to make me feel good, but I seem to have lost that feel good feeling.  Well, a few hours after my morning run, I noticed I had that little endorphin high that I used to get.  I felt great!  I felt energized and I wanted to move!  Yay!  So happy to have had that feeling again!  It’s just the motivation I needed to try and drag myself out of bed again tomorrow!

I exercise today!!!

ha ha ha … not that I would normally call what I did exercise, but for the purpose of the challenge, and more importantly, for the purpose of getting me back in the habit, I exercised!  This morning I did a yoga video.  Not nearly as relaxing as usual when you have 2 little ones trying to do it right next to you, but hey – it was cute to watch and they are learning a healthy lesson 🙂

Then, because that wasn’t quite good enough, when it was time to pick up Michael from school we decided to walk.  I walked the first (uphill) half mile there trying not to step on the whiny toddler who was begging me to pick him up.  I walked the 2nd half mile home with same whiny toddler on my back.  That’s got to count for something, right?  And man!  It was hot!!  When did that happen?  Had to give the kids popsicles when we got home – they were all red faced!  (healthy, fruit popsicles, of course!)

This heat is reminding me that shorts season will be he sooner than I thought.  Better keep up with the exercise if I don’t want to be hiding in jeans all summer.  :-/

Catch up, throw up, and what’s up next…

Catch Up

Wow!  How easy it is to skip a day and then end up skipping several!  Well, to catch up, this past week’s pledge was to let my children decide for themselves exactly HOW MUCH to eat.  They didn’t get to decide what to eat – they ate what they were presented – but they got to serve themselves and eat as much or as little as they’d like. The only rule was they had to eat at least 3 bites of each thing served.  If this is going to be a rule I keep in place long after the challenge is over (and isn’t that the true goal?) I need to at least be assured that they will still take a taste of everything.  I really, REALLY, don’t want to raise picky eaters who won’t even try something new.  They don’t have to eat a lot, but I’d like them to always eat some.

So!  How did it go?  Well, they were thrilled!  LOVED being able to serve themselves as much or, as most often was the case, as little as they wanted.  They ate less than I normally would have expected them to eat for sure.  I’m not sure if this was because they were testing me to see if I was for real with this challenge, or if they really didn’t want that much.  Probably, it was they didn’t want that much of what I was serving. In any case, they ate as little as they chose and they didn’t go hungry. Snacks weren’t even an issue.  I had expected that if they weren’t eating enough at meal time they’d be filling up on snacks, but they really didn’t. They simply ate less.  Hmm.

While I wasn’t completely comfortable seeing how little they were eating for dinner, I kept reminding myself of a few things:

  1. They were being offered only nutritious foods, so even if they snacked later, or even had dessert, it was all a good choice.  They were eating healthy.
  2. Dinner time was so relaxed and happy!  I loved how it eliminated the stress of constantly telling them to eat!
  3. There is a very valuable lesson they are learning here, one that I personally lack: the ability to stop.  They will stop when they feel full, unlike myself, who will continue to eat until my plate is empty.

So- we completed the week without any real issues.  Yay me!

Throw up

Ed’s sister, her husband, and their 10 year old decided last minute to take a cruise over spring break.  This plan landed them in a hotel near LAX for one night.  Since we haven’t seen them in 5 years, we decided it would be fun to get a room in the hotel and hang out with them that night and the next morning.  We were all staying at our favorite hotel, the Embassy Suites.  We like this hotel because it is one of the few that allows our family of 5 to be together in one room.  Their prices are reasonable and include a free, cooked to order and continental breakfast each morning, as well as a manager’s reception each night.  The manager’s reception offers an endless supply of free drinks and snacks.  We usually like to get dinner someplace easy and healthy, like El Pollo Loco or Subway, and then eat it in the reception area while enjoying our free drinks 🙂  That’s what we did Friday night.  We ate our healthy chicken and drank our not so healthy adult beverages while the kids sipped Shirley Temples, a rare treat! The snacks at these receptions vary from hotel to hotel, but this night they included chex mix type thing, goldfish, popcorn and nachos.  Oooh, nachos!  (What is it about free food, just sitting there for the taking?  If they were charging for those nachos I wouldn’t even have been tempted.  But sitting there, with all the gooey, yummy cheese, just waiting for me to come serve myself, I couldn’t resist.  We ate way more than we should have of all the snacks.  The kids had a second Shirley Temple.  Later Michael begged to have just a little bit of root beer and I relented.  (That’s 2 Shirley Temples and a root beer for a kid who has had soda probably less than 10 times in his 6 years.)  Now, with tummies full of dinner, soda, nachos, popcorn and goldfish… the kids started running all around the area, chasing each other and having a grand old time. (I know you know what’s coming…)  After a while Michael comes up to me and complains, saying it feels like he can’t breathe.  I told him it’s probably because he’s running around like crazy on a tummy filled with junk.  I told him to sit a rest a bit.  As soon as he sat down, he threw up all over the place!!!  OH MY GOSH!!!!  Any other mother would probably have felt really bad for their kid and taken sweet care of him.  Me?  Well, I did take care of him… I cleaned him all up, helped him change his clothes and all that.  But first I laughed my head off and was over the moon happy that he threw up! I was so thrilled that he was going to learn such a great lesson!!  We are always talking about healthy eating and how our body uses food for fuel, etc… What a great lesson!  He was doing something healthy, exercising, and when his body went to look for fuel all it found was junk and it was so upset that it threw it all out!  Yay!!  We discussed this as I washed him up and he was actually quite interested in the lesson.  He already knows about how he needs to feed his body healthy food, but experiencing the effects of junk food first hand really drove the lesson home.  Nothing I could have ever said to him would have been so convincing!  (And, the next morning, when we came down for breakfast and he saw everyone eating donuts and pastries, he opted for eggs, fruit and yogurt first. He said he’d have a little donut later, if he still wanted it.  Later, when he went to look for a donut he didn’t see one that he likes, so he just skipped it!)

What’s up next?

Hmmm….  I don’t know.  The official challenge from 100days is:

Mini-Pledge Week 3: March 28 – April 3 – All meat consumed this week will be locally raised (within 100-miles of your hometown). Meat consumption will also be limited to 3 – 4 servings this week, and when it is eaten meat will not be presented as the “focal point” of the meal. Instead meat will be treated as a side item or simply used to help flavor a dish.

I don’t think I can do this though, not this week.  I’ve been so busy, I didn’t sit down to read this week’s challenge until just now.  Though tonight’s dinner would fit the criteria, I have chicken on the menu for Tuesday and Thursday this week.  I JUST went to Trader Joe’s this morning.  Had I read this challenge earlier, I would have looked to see what options they have there for locally grown chicken.  Or maybe I would have made the short trip over to Whole Foods, but I really don’t feel like going all the way over there again tomorrow.  Nor do I feel like spending extra money on meat/chicken, when I already have some in my freezer.  Lastly, I promised Michael that we’d eat dinner at The Habit on Wednesday to support his school fundraiser.  We skipped the last one because it was at McDonald’s and I really, really didn’t want to eat there or feed my kids from there. So, this one, I promised we would attend.  So, where does that leave me when it comes to this week’s challenge?  I don’t know.  Yikes, as I am sitting here thinking about it, I realize that it would have started today.  I am not doing so well this week, am I?

Maybe I should make an exercise challenge for myself.  I’ve been complaining a lot about my lack of movement lately.  I got the year off to a good start, but when our construction project started at the end of January, I stopped running (my main form of exercise) for 2 weeks.  Then I got sick and by the time I felt better, I was completely out of the habit and out of shape.  So, yeah, an exercise challenge seems like I good idea for this week.  Too bad I chose to sit on my butt and catch up on my tv shows this morning when I had 2 hours to myself!  Oh well… I am going to say that this week’s challenge is to exercise a minimum of 4 times.  I really want to say 3, but that doesn’t seem like enough.  I am going to keep it simple and just say “Exercise 4 times this week”  I am so out of shape, I am not going to challenge myself to a certain type of exercise or even a certain amount of minutes for it to count.  I am just going to say I have to do something, anything, on 4 different days.  To goal of this challenge is to get myself back in to the habit!