Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Completed: June's Monthly Goals

At the beginning of the month I set out to work on three things I wanted to do or improve on for the month of June.  So how did it go....
I have to say that my first month of setting small goals worked out really well.  I can put a check next to each item on my goal list.  
  
  • Read More Books! I tried to read at least 15 minutes each day, mostly before bed, and I did this all but a few nights.  I got through three books: The Time Traveler’s Wife, House Rules, and Commencement.  I LOVED The Time Traveler’s Wife, House Rules was just OK, and Commencement is really a great book.
  • Use Twitter!  After using Twitter for a month I feel much more comfortable with the platform.  I would still say I am a novice, but I am working on connecting with more people.  My account tells me that I have sent 46 tweets and I think that is a pretty good number for a month’s time.  So follow me on Twitter I would love to hear from you!
  • Do Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred!  Wooo!  This was a hard one for sure, but it was worth all of the work.  This was my second time trying to get through the Shred and I am happy to say it was successful.  You just need the DVD, a mat, light weights and about 30 minutes to do this workout which consists of three circuits of strength, cardio, and ab work.  I did the workout about four days a week and supplemented it with some cardio: biking, running, walking, etc. and had one rest day for each week.  After this month I feel fabulous.  Jillian Michaels knows how to work you out for sure! Now I know the DVD cover says you can lose up to 20lbs, but this consists of following Jillian’s eating plan and doing the Shred every day.  I didn’t do that.  I like my diet (i.e. what I eat), it works for me, and I liked doing the workout four days of the week.  I am down a dress size, lost about 5 pounds and 5 inches from my body.  I didn’t lose any inches off my arms, but they are definitely more toned.  I have more endurance, which helps with my running, I feel stronger, my clothes fit better, and my body is more toned.  These may not seem like huge numbers but I am pretty happy with the results I got and recommend this program to anyone looking to tone and lose a few pounds.  Yes, it is difficult, especially if you are just starting a workout routine, and yes, you will be sore, but really it is great program that gets results.
So although I completed all of June’s goals I am going to continue to read (I have a huge list of books) and use Twitter so I can share info with you and you can share info with me (I told you I am an information junkie).  I am not going to be doing the Shred as much as I did this month, but it is certainly a workout I will come back to and use every once in a while.  Of course I don’t want to just stop my progress, so I will be trying something new for July (post coming soon!).
I am very interested to hear how your monthly goals went.  Did you complete what you wanted to?  Learn something new?  Have any recommendations?  Let me know!  

Monday, June 21, 2010

Creamy Chicken Zucchini Pasta

I love zucchini and was trying to think of a good recipe for dinner and just kind of made this up as I went and guess what...it turned out to be quite fabulous.  My family thought so too.  Yes, it is creamy, but it is not that bad calorie wise.  I like to use whole wheat pasta and low calorie cheese.  Also you can add as many vegetables as you like and adjust the amount of cheese to your preference. 

Creamy Chicken Zucchini Pasta
-whole wheat pasta
-two chicken breasts
-two large zucchini, chopped
-1/3 cup chopped onion
-clove of garlic
-olive oil
-3/4 cup fresh diced tomato
-three ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese
-one ounce shredded colby-jack cheese
-one cup vegetable broth
-salt and pepper to taste
  • Pound the chicken breasts and season with garlic salt and pepper.  Brush with olive oil and sear in already warm, medium high heat pan.  About 5 minutes for each side, until brown, and then turn down to low and cover for 5-10 minutes.  Then transfer to a plate and cover with tinfoil until ready to cut and serve.
  • Cook pasta according to box directions.  Strain leaving about 2 tablespoons of the water that will be used later for the sauce.
  • Using the same pan that chicken was cooked in spray with olive oil and heat garlic and onion.  Then add in the zucchini and saute until just about done.  Turn down to medium low and add the cream cheese, vegetable broth, and cheese stirring to mix and melt the cheeses.  Once blended cover and turn down to low for 3-5 minutes allowing the sauce to thicken.  Then add the 2 tablespoons of water from pasta to sauce and stir.  Gently stir in fresh tomatoes.
  • Then plate pasta with chicken and creamy zucchini sauce on top.

I used organic cheeses, broth, and chicken and two of our home-grown tomatoes for this recipe.  I just made this up with things I like to eat, so the measurements are not exact; just add more broth or cheese accordingly to get the right consistency.  This recipe made enough for four people with a good bit of chicken left over.   Enjoy it is a delicious and filling meal!  
Let me know what you think! :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Seven Easy Ways to Green Your Lifestyle

Take care of the earth and she will be there to take care of  you.
Yes you have probably heard this before but have you really thought about it?  Global warming, giant trash piles in the ocean, littering, chemicals in food, destroyed lands, smoggy skies, etc. these are all real things that are affecting the planet we live on.  It is all overwhelming, I know, but I firmly believe that every small thing you do and choice you make can do good for the planet and your health.  So here are few simple ideas and tips about how to green your lifestyle, save some money, and contribute to living a healthy life.  
  • Recycle!  You know about this already, right?  Well just to remind you, it is a good thing to do in your home if you are not already.  Many cities have curbside recycling programs or drop-off locations for your recycling.  So what can you recycle?  Cans, bottles, glass, newspapers, magazines, cardboard food boxes, etc.  Don’t forget about plastic bags and styrofoam cartons too.  There are usually bins in front of the grocery store for your to recycle these things as well. (Bring your own reusable bags when you go shopping to cut back on the plastic ones.)  To find out what programs your city has and what they recycle check out Earth911.com.  Just enter your zipcode and what you are looking to recycle.  
  • Look at how your food is packaged!  The creation of plastic packaging creates lots of greenhouse gasses which are not good for the environment.  Try to buy products that use the least amount of packaging.  Instead of buying the portioned 100 calorie packs (which are usually full of nonsense chemicals anyway and use extra packaging) buy in bulk and divide the box into individual servings by putting them in reusable containers or bags.  This simple thing can save you money and allow you to have portion controlled snacks. 
  • Pack your Lunch!  This is a great thing to do not just for the environment, but also for your health.  If you pack your lunch you can control what food you are going to eat.  It is said that you can save up to 700 calories when you eat homemade, instead of out! Find a reusable lunch bag or box to bring your food and try to use reusable plastic containers or bags for your  lunch to cut back on waste.  Plus bringing your lunch can help you save money because you are not going out to eat everyday.  
  • Get a Reusable Water Bottle!  If you don't have one already now is the time to invest in one.  You can take them anywhere.  There are tons of great bottles to choose from too, just make sure that the bottle is BPA free. (I like CamelBak and Sigg.) This cuts back on the number of plastic bottles you use and saves you money because you don't need to buy them anymore.  
  • Go Organic!  This doesn’t mean that every meal has to be organic, because sometimes it can be difficult to find and is a bit more expensive, but if you do this as often as you can it can make a big impact.  A Cornell University researcher noted that if everyone’s diet was just 10% organic it would be equivalent to taking two million cars off the road!!  That is pretty impressive.  This is also good for you because organic foods have less chemicals.  (more on this in an upcoming post!)
  • Go Vegetarian! No I am not saying you should become a full-time vegetarian, but try to eat a vegetarian meal at least once a week if not more.  According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations raising livestock produces more greenhouse gasses each year than every car, ship, train, and plane combined!  Plus meat costs more than veggies and grains so you can save some more money.
  • Eat What’s in Season!  I have to say I think this is a very important aspect of making your diet environmentally friendly and is relatively simple to do.  Check to see what fruits and vegetables are in season and eat those.  You want to buy produce that hasn’t had to travel very far.  When you buy in season the prices are usually less as well.  Farmers markets are a great place to find local produce and support local farmers.  Check out the NRDC website to see what is fresh in your area for each month.
    So those are just a few things to consider changing or adding to your lifestyle to not only help you but the earth as well.  It is about making good choices for yourself and the planet.  


    If you want to learn more about this I highly suggest reading some of Michael Pollan’s books and checking out the documentary Food Inc.  These are some really great places to get information of how food is grown and processed in the United States and how you can make healthy choices. 

    images: source source

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    Set Some Goals for the Month!

    So reading around the blogosphere and after seeing this same idea on other sites I thought I would post it on my own.  I am not sure why I did not think of it before, but setting small goals is certainly a great way to work toward something and stay motivated.  
    There are not really any rules as to what these goals should be just things you want to work on at home, at work, at school, for fun, concerning exercise or food, whatever, this is your chance to try something new or improve one thing about your life.  They don’t have to be big changes, just a few things you want to work on for the month.  Make a promise to yourself to try 2-5 things for the entire month.  Who knows you could decide to walk five times a week, do a new workout DVD, add fruit to your breakfast, try a new food, call an old friend, you get the idea.
    So this is my first list of my monthly goals for June:
    • Read more books!  Now that I am no longer in school I have time to read anything I want and not just what is assigned.  I hope to get through a few books this month, because my reading list is quite long!
    • Use Twitter!  I just got a new account thanks to this encouraging post.  I have only been tweeting for two days, but I love it so far.  Follow me here!
    • Add Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred to my workout routine.  I have done these workouts before, but I am going to commit to doing them at least four times a week, hopefully five.  
    Well that is what I am working on for this month, lets see how it goes! 
    Join along with the monthly challenge!  What are your goals for this month?