My daughter has gotten me hooked on following a darling blog called "martawrites". (Check it out on blogspot!) Oftentimes on the 12th of the month, she will post a list of twelve ideas, and call it "Twelve on the 12th". Being that I'm obsessed with lists, and also Marta's clever ideas, I look forward to those listy posts. And in honor of her, I offer up my own version of that idea ... here are my Top Dozen-and-a-Half notes scribbled this past week in my inspiration journal, in obviously no particular order:
1. I brought a salad to a luncheon today, and had three women ask (beg!) for the recipe, saying that they are going to make it TOMORROW. If you have never tried couscous (koo-skoos: "a type of North African semolina made from crushed durum wheat"), or have never heard of couscous, now is your chance with this foolproof recipe for a Greek variation, with tomatoes, feta cheese, green onions, celery, and toasted almonds. A two-ingredient dressing of lemon juice and olive oil makes it lip-smackin' good. I will post the recipe soon, and hope you try it. Thanks to my foodie friend Julie for her couscous tips.
2. I am working on another list, this one tentatively called "Embarrassing Things That Happen When You're Overweight", and promise to post it when these things stop happening to me. Then we can have a good chuckle together. (Oh, by the way, I lost the optimum TWO POUNDS last week, bringing my grand total to 19, in eight weeks. That is one pound away from 20, which I can't wait to be able to say!)
3. I have tested this theory out: It is better to say a morning prayer at 4pm than not at all. One afternoon, I realized that my day felt "flat" and uninspired, and I was just schlunking (?) through the hours. I realized that I had forgotten to make time for my morning prayer. The first chance I got, I returned to my little sacred space, and took a few minutes to talk with my Heavenly Father. I then put my thirteen year-old in charge of making dinner and headed out for an overdue run. As I was cooling down and walking Eileen's hill, the sun burst through the rain clouds, the Carpenters' "Sing a Song" came on my ipod (another story), and I couldn't hold back my big cheesey grin. That song took me right back to Fourth Grade Chorus, standing on the risers in my long dress and platform sandals! Harry looked at me funny as I belted it out as enthusiastically as I did back then: "Sing, sing a song, make it simple, to last your whole life long. Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song!" That marked the beginning of a really great rest of the day. Prayer got it going in the right direction.
4. This is becoming my new motto: "Why put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today?" I am waging war on procrastination.
5. Never underestimate the romantic nature of a moonlight(or early-morning) run with your sweetie-pie. This has become one of the BEST THINGS my husband and I do together.
6. If you haven't already, get friendly with FARTLEKS. ("Fartlek": "a training technique, used especially among runners, consisting of bursts of intense effort loosely alternating with less strenuous activity") On Wednesdays (FAST RUN DAY), I try to work on my "speed" (don't laugh, it's a relative term) by dedicating the second mile to fartleks: for me, this means running easily to a telephone pole, then speeding up to the next pole, running easily, speeding up, etc. I really do think this is helping, even though it is my least favorite run of the week.
7. Get a really fabulous large, shallow bowl to display your fruits and vegetables in. I found a beautifully beat-up, rustic one at a roadside produce stand, and my mom hints that I may wake up one morning and find it gone. (Covetor!) When I come home from shopping, I put as much as will fit in the bowl in the middle of the kitchen table: apples, oranges, lemons, avocados, onions, bananas, zucchini, etc. I find that my family will more often grab a piece of fruit from the bowl than when they are stuffed in the back of the produce drawer in the fridge. Plus, it looks so lovely and reminds me to use everything up.
8. I am trying to ACTIVELY LOOK for the stepping-stones placed before me each day that will propel me along my "get healthy and fit" path. Last night, as I looked back at my day, these are what I identified as its stepping-stones: Kris and Kelli's wonderful compliments, a specific quote in Brent's talk in Sacrament Meeting (which I found on lds.org and printed off), and the fact that a formerly-too-tight pair of Adidas pants now fit nicely. In their own ways, these things all served as motivation to keep moving forward. I am convinced that each day presents such "stones" if we train ourselves to look for them and embrace them.
9. My mom's words "Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper" have been ringing in my mind lately. I want to try actually using different-sized plates and bowls at these meals to encourage developing this habit. I know that I lose weight more easily when I eat very light dinners. Once again, Mom was right.
10. From Skip Hellewell's "Word of Wisdom Living" blog (paraphrased): "we should never bring entire bags of candy, cookies, or other sweet treats into our homes. Rather, indulge by choosing ONE PIECE of candy at a candy shop, or ONE COOKIE from a bakery." I really love this idea, and this coming someone who could polish off a one-pound bag of M&Ms with not a lot of problem.
11. Lynn G. Robbins (of the Seventy) gave a "sit up and pay attention, Macy" talk two weeks ago at General Conference, entitled "What Manner of Man and Women Ought Ye to Be?". I'm going to study it in-depth this week. Join me!!
12. Eighteen points make for a mighty long list! Are you getting bored??!
13. We have a really hard time finding a bottled salad dressing that we like. We have quite a few in the door of the fridge that have accumulated, that no one is using ... these dressings are going on a one-way trip on trash pick-up day, because I have discovered a really simple, homemade vinaigrette dressing (with variations) that I LOVE. I will post this recipe soon. Try it and tell me what you think!! Plus, there's no funny business going on in the ingredient list ...
14. I can't recommend highly enough the new biography of Pres. Thomas S. Monson, "To the Rescue". I look forward to reading a chapter before bed each night, and can almost hear Pres. Monson's voice as I read his reminiscences from his boyhood years.
15. My husband's good advice for when we all hit weight loss plateaus: lengthen the duration of exercise. We start to burn fat 20-30 minutes (with 70-80% effort) into a cardio workout. My goal by my birthday in May is to be running five miles on my Long Day. I just did my first 5K-length run on Saturday night, which was a big deal! My man also encourages me to drink, drink, drink water and eat larger meals earlier in the day. He is my BIGGEST FAN, I love him, and COULD NOT do this without his support.
16. I know I sing the praises of Starbucks' treats regularly, and here I go again! They have a selection called Starbucks Petites, which are three or four-bite goodies, all ranging in calories from 120 - 190. The Lemon Sweet Squares are 120 calories with 6 grams of fat. The Birthday Cake Pops are 170 calories with 9 grams of fat. There are also mini cupcakes, mini cherry scones, and mini Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. They just make me smile looking at them. I've only tried the cake pop, but the Lemon Square is my next planned-for indulgence with a cup of herbal tea.
17. I made homemade Beef Barley Soup this week! Another simple, wholesome soup recipe which I will share in an upcoming post. I have come to love from-scratch soups ... they are true comfort foods, and when they're made with healthy ingredients and lots of vegetables, they're filling and delicious with unlimited variety.
18. We had our first meeting with our entire 12-person (6 couples)Ragnar Team tonight. It should be illegal to laugh that much! We chose our race legs, talked about team shirts, told funny stories from last year's race, and got nervous already about this year's. It is great to have this BIG GOAL fixed in my summer plans. Team "One More Hill" is ready to roll!
Friends, enjoy your Easter weekend! Much love to each of you, and until next time...