Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Speaking of guilt-free pleasures . . . although the look on Lio's face is definitely more guilty than guilt-free. Especially when you consider that he up there all on his own!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Balanced Living Smackdown: Yoga Vs. Eating Disorder

*Warning -- If calorie counting is a trigger for you, please consider skipping this post!*

After yesterday's first-in-a-long-long-while run, my muscles felt tight. I worried that tightness would soon transform into tenderness, reducing me to an awkward hobble for the next day or so. In an effort to stave off the soreness, I unrolled my yoga mat and did an hour long power vinyasa class courtesy of YogaDownload.

As with the run, this was some a first-in-a-long-long-while yoga practice. Unlike the run, however, there was no question in my mind as I lay, finished, in savasana, my sweat pooling around me -- I felt good. Really good. Blissful, in fact. Yoga left me feeling everything I had wanted from my run -- challenged, open, stretched, and peaceful.

Yesterday's practice felt so good that I squeezed in another sixty minute YogaDownload class between this morning's writing session and lunchtime. This time I went with a Baptiste power vinyasa flow led by Dave Farmar, whose sequences and often-amusing chatter never fail to disappoint. For kicks and out of curiosity, I strapped on my heart rate monitor before commencing to sweat and stretch in my studio -- er, living room.

Sixty minutes later, I once again sank into a relaxed final resting pose, letting my mind gently wander out of its deep grounded-ness into a heightened yet still chilled out awareness. Then I remembered -- the heart rate monitor. I tried to stave off my curiosity, but already my semi-trance had broken.

Skipping the last few moments of savasana, I grabbed my Garmin, which I had left lying next to my mat for the entire practice. Surely, I thought, I burned heaps of calories. After all, my legs felt like noodles and my back was encouraging me to lay off locust and floor bow poses until it recovered a little. I looked at the Garmin's screen and read the results: 196 calories.

196 calories?! That was it?

Gone was the bliss of savasana, the satisfaction of a challenge well-met. Instead, all I could think about was the measly total calories my body had spent while sweating and moving over the yoga mat. 196 calories? It seemed impossible -- I had worked so hard -- and yet the eating disordered side of me nodded smugly as if to say, "Told you so."

You see, in all stages of my eating disorder, I never counted yoga as exercise. Even when it was so hard that it made my muscles sore, or when even breathing through certain poses couldn't help a few curses from slipping between my gritted teeth, I categorized yoga as "other" in the fitness realm. I thought it was healthy, but more for the mind part of mind-body fitness, and certainly it had nothing to do with being thin. So I piled yoga practices both at the gym and at home on top of increasingly strenuous workouts, ignoring my nutritionist and later my therapist when they asked me to consider leaving yoga to stand on its own as a workout.

Now, to be hit with the apparent calorie burning inadequacy of something that makes my body feel so darn good -- that makes it feel good even when it's a struggle, unlike running and other high impact exercises -- it hurts. And it makes that still-disordered creature hiding somewhere inside me come out and laugh in my face.

So what's a former disordered eater to do? Honestly, I'm not sure. It's true that there is the possibility that my heart rate monitor slipped during today's yoga practice, skewing the data. But what if there is no technological malfunction? Can I feel satisfied with that kind of calorie burn (or lack of burn)? I wish I could tell you.

Do you struggle with something similar? How do you come to terms with it?

While you're grappling over this heavy stuff, take a minute to giggle at this silly series I discovered at the You Will Not Believe blog:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday/Run Day

When I ended up taking not one but two days off from exercise this weekend (in honor of my dad visiting, and also because our hot water was out and I didn't relish the idea of taking any more ffffreezing cold showers than I had to), I decided not to stress about it. The eating disordered side of me all set to flip over my apparent laziness, but I calmed the inner beast down. I knew what I was doing, after all -- I was gearing up for a run.

I haven't done much running since completing my first triathlon at the end of August 2009. At the tail end of my tri training I began to experience pain in my right hip, so I stopped running and tried to stay low impact with my workouts. Now that summer weather has finally decided to show its face here in western Montana, I've been itching to get sweaty out of doors. The dogs and I have gone on at least one serious hike per week, but the runner in me wanted more. So today, after two days off of exercise to get my joints and muscles extra fresh, I ran.

I'd like to say that the run was the most fun I've ever had in sneakers, or that it was pure bliss. The only thing I can say for sure, though, is that it was hard. I shouldn't be surprised. I ran a couple of weekends ago, and it was slow going. Today's four mile run was a bit faster as I averaged a 9:44/mile split, which is rather depressing compared to my running stats from last summer, but I'm not worrying about that too much. I am easing back into it and can't compare one of my first runs to one of the runs I've done while in top shape. Besides, there's no way I'd be able to run 5+ miles at a nine-minute-or-less pace straight off the bench (who could?), so I'm practicing feeling good about today's run. (Yes, practicing -- I've noticed that, even while I'm in recovery from anorexia, I must still continue to practice healthy behaviors.)

However, there is one not-so-nice aspect of today's run that I am not eager to repeat -- the heat. Silly me went out for an 11:00 AM run around a marshy trail loop that is more exposed to the blistering late morning sun than I remembered. A digital billboard displaying the temperature that I passed on the drive home informed me that it was 77*F. Oops. I think it's time to return to early morning exercise!

That said, I passed other runners who appear to be as crazy as me while driving home. By that time it was noon, and even hotter than when I began my jaunt. Do people like running in the pounding heat? The heat seriously hinders my performance, even when I am in peak physical condition. But maybe there are folks who seek out high temperature exercise. The Best Husband Ever, for example, would go out dressed in long sleeved black shirts and black pants back when he used to run.

I'll put the question to you -- what time of the day do you prefer to exercise, especially if you go for outdoor sweat sessions? Does the summer heat help or hinder you? What do you do to stay safe, hydrated, and sun stroke-free?

Free VitaTop Sample

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Disappointment in Bulk

Costco is amazing. Amazingly, I never knew that before getting married, when the Best Husband Ever and I started shopping there and scoring tons of quality fresh produce and increasingly more organic and healthy products at bargain prices. However, I have heard tell that other Costcos carry Chobani Greek yogurt in bulk. Our Montana Costco is often the last to be stocked with newer products -- multi-grain sandwiches only just arrived on the shelves within the past year, maybe less -- so the local Costco remained Chobani-less.

Until now.

I know, I know, it's exciting . . . right? It is exciting, but only if you're a fan of the flavored Chobani yogurts. The bulk pack at our Costco contained four single serving containers of each of three flavors: peach, strawberry, and blueberry (for $11.75, if I remember correctly, which is really not all that great of a deal). When I go Greek, I prefer plain or vanilla (honey also sometimes makes an appearance in our fridge).

What up, Costco and Chobani? Let's get some more variety, eh? Still, as long as you continue to sell mango-peach salsa and pita chips by the pound, it's all good in my book.

Love Street Living Foods, my favorite of Kitchen Courage's affiliates, is offering 10% off plus three free samples with every order! Click on the banner below to browse their products (be sure to check out their brand new raw and organic sprouted almonds!) and enter the coupon code ALMOND. Indicate your preferred samples in the comments box. This sweet promotion runs only June 27 and 28 -- today and tomorrow! (Also, the 15% off + 3 free samples offer for first-time customers as advertised on the banner still stands.) Thanks for the customer love, Love Street!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Finds #2

I read a lot, and unfortunately a lot of that material is on the internet. I say "unfortunately" not because web-based writing is bad (it's not), but because I often read it while procrastinating my own writing. There is a silver lining, however -- in addition to expanding both my knowledge and my enjoyment of web content, I get to share my favorite discoveries with you.

In fact, I liked spreading the web writing love via my last Friday Finds post that I decided to make it a regular (or at least semi-regular -- you know how it is) event on Kitchen Courage. Check out some of my favorite web reads from the past fortnight. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, but with less procrastination.
  • "I AM is Sufficient :: This powerful reminder from the blog God is Doing a New Thing has also been the theme of my last few weeks as I realize that perhaps God isn't offering me answers to my many questions, but is instead offering so much more -- Himself.
  • Word by Word :: What's writing like? Find out in this fab post from How Now to Write.
  • Making the Touch Choices :: One of my favorite yoga teachers, Sadie Nardini, has stopped teaching her public classes in NYC! While this discovery surprised me, Sadie has some good things to share about her decision.
  • Feminism, Body Image, and Yoga :: While this Elephant Journal post is chock-full of good stuff, it's the Rockwell painting at the top of the page that caught my eye. My parents have a print of it hanging in their house and I grew up looking at it, fascinated by the sadness I perceived in the little girl's expression. What do you see?
  • SketchCrawl :: This drawing marathon is inspirational, fun-sounding, and evocative of my preferred form of artistic masochism, NaNoWriMo.
  • BP Spills Coffee :: Yep, I laughed at this video spoof of the horrible oil spill, but it was a guilty kind of laughter. This little movie is as uncomfortably true as it is funny.
  • Woman's Day blogging opportunity :: If you're using a food blog in an effort to lose weight, or are thinking about starting one, this is an opportunity for you to be famous! Well, maybe not . . . but Woman's Day magazine is looking for women to use a certain diet plan and then regularly blog about it. Check the link for details, but hurry because they want the blogging to commence in August.
  • 50 Best Blogs for Cleaner Eating :: In case you missed it on Wednesday, Kitchen Courage has been chosen as one of's top blogs for clean eating!
  • April's Protein Cakes :: Because there should sometimes be food on a food blog, here's a healthy chocolate "cake" recipe from Foods of April. I need to get my hands on some cocoa powder and pumpkin so I can make this!
Also, Teavana is offering free shipping on all orders through July 5! If you click on the banner below, you'll be supporting Kitchen Courage (I get a smidgen of a commission for clicks/sales) as well as treating yourself to some wonderful teas. Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Pop-ing Good Time

Look who's coming to town! Yep, that's right, folks -- my dad is getting in for the weekend, taking advantage of the work obligations that brought him westward from our native New Jersey. I feel a little nervous about this, because we are both champions at being stubborn sometimes, and some of my past food issues were also tied into family relationships. At the same time, though, I am excited because our weekend will probably look something like this:

All that to mean -- eating, hiking, farmer's market-ing, taking in a local attraction (which means solo fishing for my dad), hanging out, and playing games (WiiFit, anyone?), as well as visiting the Best In-laws Ever and going to church. How will we squeeze it all in? I'm sure we'll make a way . . . especially for the eating. Custom stir-fry, here we come!

*In case you were a bit stymied by the creative spelling of this post's title, I call my dad "Pop" (which I liked as a kid but caused me utter mortification as an angsty teen!). I'm not sure if that lends more sense to the title, but it's the best I could do. What do you call your father?

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Glee (The Canine Version, Not the Show)

Because yesterday's post was a bit of a downer, I thought we needed a little exuberance on the blog for this [mostly] Wordless Wednesday -- not to mention some sweet dog-on-toy action!

Also, Kitchen Courage was selected as one of the 50 best blogs for cleaner eating by! Thank you -- I am super honored! Check out the list here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Poem Power!

Yesterday, I felt so sad. Just sad, heavy in spirit, out-and-out depressed. Part of the cause of that depression was my writing, as well as the fact that I gave up an amazing job (and a wonderful work community) in March. I am now working from home as a freelance writer, and I have a larger project that's also in the works.

However, "in the works" turned into "gathering virtual dust on my hard drive." I'm not sure why, exactly, but I know it has something to do with insecurity, fear of not being good enough, fear of failing, fear of not making an impact on the world before I die. Maybe I'm getting hit with an early mid-life crisis. I'll be turning 30 uncomfortably soon (within the next year or two), and I've been wondering lately -- what have I got to show for the past three decades?

Depression would lead me to say nothing. But I know that's not true. I have God, I have hope, I have my health, I have sanity (or a far better hold on it than I did just a few years ago), and an able body that can do many things, from hug to hoop to run races. I have an amazing husband, super in-laws, parents/blood relatives who love me, and friends who think about me (even when I've locked myself away in insecurity or busy-ness).

I've had life experiences I never would have imagined I'd get to participate in (like working on a ranch for disabled animals, traveling to Malaysia on a missions trip, working with troubled and often violent kids who taught me a great deal, and so on). I have this blog which, as I mentioned yesterday, is a huge blessing in my life, I have the freedom and ability to read and write and think and be creative without censure.

I have food and shelter, clothing and coffee and clean water, and a washer and dryer in our basement so I don't have to visit the laundromat. I have mountains to hike with the zaniest, cuddliest, silliest, wonderful-est dogs in the world, and I have time to snuggle with them and the Best Husband Ever. I've been allowed to make an impact in others' lives through my jobs, and I hope that will continue to be more and more true as I grow older.

So the notion that I have nothing is a lie. Maybe it's the fearful side of my self that perpetuates the lie, or an exterior influence like the devil (depending on your beliefs -- I do believe that there is a force that's anti-God and anti-joy, love, connection, and blessing) or culture or others' perceived criticisms. Regardless of its origin, however, it remains untrue.

Yesterday, when I could not grasp any of the many blessings in my life, I shook off some of the sadness with a trip to the gym and some good words on writing, life, and God. I realized that writing can hurt, but in a good kind of way, just like life hurts, too, at times -- and it's okay. This morning, with the help of lingering endorphins and encouragement and the return of the sunshine, I felt much more at ease and peaceful. When I read the following poem by Jack Kerouac, it resonated deeply. That's what I love about art, and about the Beat poets in particular -- the poem puts into words what my soul could not phrase and helps me to heal. I hope it will encourage, entertain, or speak to you, too.
Sept. 16, 1961, Poem

How awfully sad i felt thinking of my sleeping mother in her bed
that she’ll die someday
tho she herself always says “death is nothing to worry about,
from this life we start to another”
How awfully sad I felt anyway –
That have no wine to make me forget my rotting teeth is bad enough
but that my whole body is rotting and my mother’s body is rotting
towards death, it’s all so insanely sad.
I went outside in the pure dawn: but why should I be glad about
a dawn
that dawns on another rumor of war,
and why should I be sad: isnt the air at least pure and fresh?
I looked at the flowers on the bush: one of them had fallen:
another was just bloomed open: neither of them were sad or glad.
I suddenly realized all things just come and go
including any feeling of sadness: that too will go:
sad today glad tomorrow: somber today drunk tomorrow:
why fret
so much?

Everybody in the world has flaws just like me.
Why should I put myself down? Which is a feeling just coming to go.
Everything comes and goes. How good it is!
Evil wars wont stay forever!
Pleasant forms also go.
Since everything just comes and goes O why be sad? or glad?
Sick today healthy tomorrow. But O I’m so sad just the same!
Just coming and going all over the place,
the place itself coming and going.
We’ll all end up in heaven anyway, together
in that golden eternal bliss I saw.
O how damned sad I cant write about it well.
This is an attempt at the easy lightness of Ciardian poetry.
I should really use my own way.
But that too will go, worries about style. About sadness.
My little happy purring cat hates doors!
And sometimes he’s sad and silent, hot nose, sighs,
and a little heartbroken mew.
There go the birds, flying west a moment.
Who’s going to ever know the world before it goes?

[1962, Jack Kerouac]

The formatting was lost in the translation to this blog-able state, so I encourage you to seek it out in a copy of Kerouac's book, Scattered Poems.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Blogging Habit

I love blogging. I really do -- it's helped me heal from anorexia, connect with wonderful folks I never would have met otherwise, and is both a creative outlet and my own little soapbox. It's a fun gig (if you can call it a gig!).

For all of that enjoyment of blogging, though, you will notice that I haven't blogged since . . . Thursday? Wow, it's been four days! For someone who blogs five to six days a week on average, that's a big drop. Oops. But I guess my dropping of the blogging ball is a lesson about habits -- that they're easier to maintain once you're in a rhythm, and that's it's vastly more difficult to start something than to continue.

Obviously this is a generalization, but this seems to be the case with most habits in my life -- having God time, blogging, writing, drinking enough water, exercising, cleaning . . . if I get out of the rhythm, the couch potato in me takes over, and I fall into both a physical and emotional stupor. But once I'm going, I'm going. The momentum helps me stay strong in what I hope to accomplish, and I meet with more success and personal fulfillment.

So all that to say . . . I'm back on the blog wagon. Here's to some regular writing of all kinds this week! What habits are easy for you to maintain, and which are more challenging?
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Life & Times of Two Mismatched Rings

The other day, as I was hiking with our three dogs, I got to thinking about my engagement and wedding rings. The ring that the Best Husband Ever presented me with when he proposed was gorgeous, but just a tad big. If I remember correctly, we had it re-sized. When it came time to pick out a wedding band, though, I had lost more weight (slowly spiraling into eating disorder land, though it went unrecognized until much later), so the ring engagement ring was loose again. I decided to go with a wedding band one size smaller than the engagement ring, and then have the latter re-sized again. Except I never did.

Why? Because I expected to gain weight after getting married (only I didn't, but pushed the sane limits on exercise and food intake instead). I thought I'd gain weight because I would be cooking for not only myself, but also for a carnivorous new hubby and, pre-marriage, I ate predominantly non-fat and very low calorie foods. Being realistic, I knew that the Best Husband Ever would not be happy to eat a salad for his daily dinner, so I learned to cook chicken, soups, chili, burritos, and more.

But the eating disorder side of me did not like that one bit. So, in an effort to compensate for the fat and extra calories I thought I was consuming (which I now recognize as healthy, much-needed fat and calories), I upped the exercise. I lost even more weight, became skeletal-looking, and could not maintain any sort of body heat in the face of Montana winters. Needless to say, I didn't gain the weight I expected to put on after our wedding, but I also didn't get the rings resized, as they were both more loose than ever. Even when I reached my lowest weight of 112 pounds (the lowest healthy weight recommended for my height is 120, I believe), I waited in fear for what I thought was an inevitable weight gain

And I did gain weight. I needed to, or I probably would have died still clutching onto my exercise and weight loss with the manic strength born of mental illness. Now, due to poor food choices and disordered, emotional eating, I've put on more weight than my body needs (which I am dealing with sanely and rationally, I'm pleased to say!). Interestingly, however, my rings still fit. My weight has fluctuated close to 60 pounds since my engagement, and the rings still fit.

When I return to a healthier BMI, the engagement ring will continue to be a little loose, and both rings will be slightly different in size from one another. So the question arises -- what am I waiting for? Why not get the rings re-sized so that at the very least they are a matching set at last? Why not, indeed.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pizza Wednesday

It's pizza Wednesday! Well, that's not quite accurate (although it is officially Pizza Wednesday at the local natural food store's hot bar). As it's only eleven o' clock in the morning as I write this, I haven't yet consumed any pizza. However, I have been making quite a few tortilla pizzas for dinner this week. Besides, isn't it about time that we had some food on this food(ish) blog?

You'll notice that this recipe does not adhere to any sort of diet designed for Crohn's folks, like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. The reason is that my attempt at eating according to the SCD caused my eating disorders to blow up big time. As a result I've put on unnecessary weight and experienced some extra-serious depression. Basically, eating according to the SCD messed with my eating disorder-prone mind.

So I'm off the SCD. I'm off any "diet," unless you include eating whole and nutritious foods in the definition of the word. Interestingly, returning some light whole-grained wheat products to my meals has not caused any Crohn's backlash, as I had expected that it might. In fact, I've been feeling pretty good for a couple of weeks, with only fairly mild Crohn's-related discomfort. Even more importantly, I feel better emotionally. I don't feel out of control or crazy, and the consuming tide of depression has receded. Even if my Crohn's blows up in a major way because of my food changes, for me the pain and discomfort are worth stay out of eating disorder territory. That's an ugly no-woman's-wasteland.

That said, bring on the pizza! I've been experimenting with using various cheeses that contain light, healthy fats, such as goat cheese and part-skim mozzarella. My favorite version so far has includes slide pimento-stuffed green olives. Growing up I was strictly a black olive kind of girl, but now it's green all the way!

Mozzroom and Pimento-Stuffed Green Olive Pizza

1 tortilla (I used La Tortilla Factory's low carb/high fiber whole wheat tortilla)
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1-2 mushrooms, sliced
4 pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
1/4 cup spinach leaves
2 T part-skim mozzarella cheese
garlic, basil, and oregano to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp dried of each)

Preheat the oven to 375*F. While it is warming, grease a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place the tortilla on the pan and spread the tomato sauce and garlic, basil, and oregano over it until the tortilla is completely covered. Place the vegetables on the tortilla, then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and slightly bubbled. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Makes 1 personal-sized pizza.

What's your olive of choice?

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Guilt-Free Pleasures, Take Two

I have a confession to make: I am a nerd. More to the point, I'm a gaming nerd. Not hard core like the folks who compete in professional Halo tournaments, but nerdy enough to have gained employment at a GameStop video game store and to enjoy my WiiFit far more than is appropriate. Also, since I first discovered them, I have had a sweet tooth for online games in which you can interact with other players around the planet.

After quite a long break, I've returned to the joystick. (Well, not really, as joysticks are old school, thoroughly outdated. But you know what I mean.) This weekend I took advantage of World of Warcraft's free trial, and found myself immersed in the computer game. Now, perhaps spending hours of a gorgeously sunny Sunday does not sound like something to brag about. I agree, but I'm not bragging about the gaming. Instead, I'm proud of the fact that I allowed myself the "guilty" pleasure of playing a game. Not since before my eating disorder took hold have I allowed myself to be still and fully enjoy such a luxury. If I obeyed my compulsions, I would have been at the gym scoring an extra workout, or out hiking a mountain. That is a victory for me, and so I wanted to share the latest addition to my list of not-so-guilty pleasures.

When I last wrote about some things that I enjoy whose indulgence would induce some guilt if I let it, I asked what your not-so-guilty pleasures are. I liked them so much (not to mention that I share more than a few, such as watching America's Next Top Model) that I decided to share a few of the responses. Interestingly, these little indulgences fell into two categories: food and entertainment. Does that say something about the nature of humans and comfort? I'm not sure . . . but here are your responses nonetheless!
  • chocolate! (no surprises there . . . it's hard to find a person who can write off all forms of the stuff
  • young adult books
  • "exorbitant amounts of coffee" (I agree completely!)
  • Sex and the City + popcorn
  • reality TV marathons
  • "spending way too much time on YouTube"
  • blog reading (!)
As Lisa wrote, "Life's too short to always be serious!!" You all know how to have a guilt-free good time. I had so much fun reading your comments! Thank you for posting them. I always read every comment posted to Kitchen Courage, and each gives me such a lift. Thank you!

Do you have anything new to add to the list of fluffy (but important) pleasures? And if you play WoW or Guilt -- er, Guild Wars and want to team up, let me know! We can get our nerd on together.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Husband Yoga

The Best Husband Ever is a cyclist. A mountain biker, to be more specific. Before his knees began to give him trouble, he was a runner. He still tries to run, searching for a pain-free method. One of his most recent experiments is barefoot running, which has helped him find some success.

However, with both his biking and running, the Best Husband Ever often finds himself laid up with random pain after a workout, however brief or gentle. I chipped in my two cents, suggesting that he work on strengthening the muscles specifically used in biking and running. Over the course of our nearly three year marriage, I've presented him with the option of yoga. offers downloadable audio classes focused on the needs of both cyclists and runners, as does Polly of Yoga is Yummy. The Best Husband Ever, however, always dodged the proffered yoga mat.

Until today. This morning, after I finished my own workout, the Best Husband Ever approached me.

"So," he said, "how about that yoga on bikes?"

"Huh?" I replied, sweaty and confused.

He explained -- he wanted to do yoga. I think my mouth only dangled open in amazement for a moment before I guided him to Polly's site while I searched for my downloaded copy of Yoga for Cyclists from Together, we stretched through the latter class, which was ten minutes long, and then he went downstairs to tackle some of Polly's videos, specifically Yoga For Newbies, on his own. Here we are, yoga-ing it up:

Okay, maybe that's not quite an accurate representation of our brief session of couples yoga. But I felt so happy that the Best Husband Ever was willing to give yoga a shot! Although I never nagged him about it, I did want him to give it a try. Even if he never does yoga again after this, I'm gratified that he was willing to take me up on my suggestion.

And that's not all, folks. After he yoga-ed for a bit, he came back upstairs.

"So, do you have anything a little more . . . active?" he asked. I smiled. He'd come to the right person, as I hoard fitness DVDs like they're going out of style. Back downstairs, I recommended Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred or some Tae-Bo. He went with the Shred. Later the Best Husband Ever admitted that he wasn't too taken with Jillian's interval workout, but again -- I'm glad that he tried. What's more than that, he took me up on my advice. How's that for a cool Saturday marriage/fitness achievement?

What fitness-related (or trying-new-things-related) achievements are you proud of in your close friends/family/significant others?

Note: I accidentally published this post before I finished writing it. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused! This post is now officially finished.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Finds

Before I get into the fabulous and interesting health- and food-related reads I have been enjoying thanks to Google, I wanted to add a note on yesterday's Inspiration post. Yesterday, in addition to hooping up a storm, writing, and then enjoying the of hoopers and writers who have arrived, I also watched Coco Before Chanel. This is partly what prompted me to write about art and inspiration because this French film was absolutely beautiful to experience. It was visually gorgeous, and I thought the story of fashion designer Coco Chanel's life when she was simply Gabrielle was well-told. Also, watching a movie spoken in a different language is always refreshing and fun, especially if that language is French. What's more, the movie stars Audrey Tautou. All that to say . . . this movie is a work of art (at least, I think so).

Okay, enough gushing. I keep coming across some interesting internet reads (and, in some cases, watches, if that's a word in this context), so I wanted to share my favorites with you.
This last link is not at all related to anything food blogger-ish . . . but I couldn't resist sharing this link from author Meg Cabot. It's just too much fun.
Don't forget that Father's Day is next Sunday, June 20 (really, I haven't mucked up the dates this time). In honor of dads, Love Street Living Foods is offering a discount on special father-friendly items like blenders that rival the almighty Vita-Mix. Their regular promotion is still on as well, so click on the banner below to take advantage of these opportunities.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


One of the things I love about art is that it breeds more art. More specific to me, when I read, I write more, and I also tend to write better. Reading good writing inspires me. I just finished Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride, and now I'm enjoying making my way through Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife. Neither book is something I would have picked for a purely "fun" read, but as a writer with publication dreams I chose to read these novels to broaden my literary palate. And I don't regret it. Atwood is a master of words, and Sittenfeld is keeping me interested in her Laura Bush-esque protagonist even though I have no great interest in politics or American Mrs. Presidents. Every good book that I read -- as well as every bad one -- teaches me something as a writer, and I always walk away the better for it.

The same with hooping. I find both writing and hooping very vulnerable activities. Perhaps that's because both are so very worth doing, if that makes sense. There is value in writing as well as in hooping. When I feel intimidated by my hoop, I seek out hooping inspiration, such as the Hoop Technique video featuring professional hoop dancers and mind-blowing artists Spiral and Rich Porter (pictured above). Beth Lavinder, whose video is below, is another hoop dancing inspiration, and not just because we share the same first name.

Hoopers like Spiral, Rich, and Beth inspire me to return to the hoop and dance, just as authors like Atwood and Sittenfeld inspire me to return to the page and scrawl out my own writings. Writing is one of those rare things outside of God that is never void, that makes life worth living, even if I never get published. Art helps me reconnect to that purpose, and to enjoy it, and it inspires me to keep at my own version of artistic creation.

What inspires you to do whatever it is that you do?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Smoothie Season

It's getting to be that time of the year again -- smoothie season! (Not that the snowy winter keeps me from blending up some chilly goodness, of course). For [nearly] Wordless Wednesday, here are two newly-devoured smoothies from the week, complete with a serving of greens.

This Chocolate Strawberry Green Smoothie was so thick that it was like eating ice cream, except without all the unhealthy fats and loaded with protein and spinach. Click here for the recipe.

I woke up with a desire to do something with the bag of frozen cherries lurking in my freezer, and so this Cherry Vanilla Smoothie was born. There's spinach in this one, too! Find the recipe here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Eat Your . . . Peanut Butter?

The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition has returned! I don't have any affiliation with Nick's great event this year, but I still think it's fabulous enough to get it's own blog post. Participants enter a recipe combining peanut butter with the selected theme. This round's theme is "Fruits and Veggies." All readers can then vote on their favorite dishes, and the winner will walk away with some sweet peanut butter booty courtesy of Peanut Butter & Co.

To learn more and to enter, visit the The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition #9. While you're browsing the internet, check out PBE #6, which I helped host in the search for the perfect combination of peanut butter and BBQ, as well as the peanut butter + sandwich theme of PBE #5.

How do you like to get your peanut butter on, especially with fruit and/or vegetables? I know that my favorite PBE #9-themed equation is apple + peanut butter + cinnamon = microwave-baked deliciousness.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Where's the Sun Gone?

Can you guess what this June Monday brought us here in western Montana? (Hint: check out the photo.) Did you figure it out? I bet you did, since my readers are the smartest cookies in Cookie Jar Land. Yep, it hailed this afternoon! While I enjoy a spot of tempestuous weather (and today's weather certainly was, as the hail was quickly followed by a spat of thunder), I can't help but wonder -- where's summer? And what happened to spring? We were blessed with some sweet spring-ish temperatures back in March, but now while other bloggers are Tweeting about how warm and sunny it is in their areas, here in Montana we remain wet and chilly. The view from the front door was a bit dismal, as was the back porch view:

But although the weather is decidedly Monday-ish (not to mention chilly), the unseasonal weather isn't all bad. Provided that summer actually arrives, it's sure to be much less smokey with all this dampness to prevent forest and brush fires. Plus, a gray day outside means a good day to have indoor fun, like write, hoop (yes, I finally hooped for the first time in ages!), do laundry (dubious but productive fun), nap, read, and hang out with the World's Silliest Pups.

What's more, the stars aligned and I somehow managed to snap three quality nose shots, which are the elusive holy grail of dog photography (at least, they are for me). These pictures are also among the most dopey that I have ever taken of our pack. Check 'em out:

On that note, happy Monday! I hope that your day is less damp but no less silly and as full of life-alicious fun as mine.

Also, be sure to stop by Love Street Living Foods for 3 sweet free samples and 15% off your first order. Click on the banner below to take advantage of the promotion, and to snag your own samples of raw tahini, coconut butter, and insanely amazing organic chocolate spreads, to name only a few goodies. Thanks, Love Street!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Warning: Life in Progress

I recently re-joined the SparkPeople health-support community. SparkPeople, in the site's own words, is "a free online diet and healthy living community with over 3 million members who provide support and motivation to each other." I joined the site to take advantage of tools that help track my food and water intake, physical activity, and progress on other goals. While I would like to lose some of the weight that I've accumulated over the past few months, what I most like about the site is how the nutrition tracker breaks down my fat, carbohydrate, and protein intake. As a long-time fat-phobic eater, this facet is really helping me meet the daily minimum for healthy fats.

Although SparkPeople really is quite an amazing tool -- and it's free to boot! -- I am treading carefully in my use of the site. My last long-term use of the site directly preceded and aided in my downward spiral into life-threatening disordered eating. So I recommend SparkPeople, but also encourage to avoid using it obsessively. (For an intriguing discussion on this issue, check out this SP forum discussion. I contributed my thoughts and received some really positive feedback from other users who are seeking to use the site in a balanced way.)

However, as much as I like SparkPeople for its help in helping me achieve balanced nutrition and fitness, it also sparked (no pun intended) some deep thinking. Yesterday I noticed one of the t-shirts in the site's store. This shirt boldly reads, "Fitness in progress."

I initially felt repulsed by the t-shirt. I don't know what I would think if I saw somebody else wearing it, but I knew that I certainly never would. For me that would be like admitting that I'm not okay, that I'm not in control -- which the disordered eating part of me translates to fat. Admit to the public that I'm fat? No way, and no thanks.

But the shirt's message stuck with me. What if I did see a person walking down the street proudly wearing it? I'd probably find myself mentally cheering her on -- for whatever health she's gained, and for the balance she is pursuing. The wearer's body shape and size would probably not even factor in to my encouraging reaction. But if I can think about a random stranger, why can't I encourage myself in a similar way?

Perhaps it's because we are all our own worse critics -- and doubly so for a person who suffers from any sort of body or food issues. But if I'm honest with myself, I should wear this t-shirt. What's more, I should wear it proudly. Because the fact is that I'm not perfect -- and I never will be. Nobody ever will be. We are all a work in progress. Can't you see the t-shirt options? "Faith in progress." "Confidence in progress." "Forgiveness in progress." "Love in progress." "Parent in progress." "Blogger in progress" . . . and so on, forever.

I will never arrive. There is no end. There's only now, so I might as well enjoy it, regardless of my pant size.

Yes, I'm working on my health -- but I'm working on a lot of other things, too. My relationship with God is an unending project, but it's also unsurpassingly worthwhile and rewarding. The same is true for my relationships with other people, starting with the Best Husband Ever. Other life construction projects include writing, photography, hooping, and maybe even gardening. Because I'm a perfectionist, maybe I'll never feel finished . . . but that's okay. As cheesy or trite as it might sound, life is a journey and, if we let it, an adventure.

What are you journeying toward?

"Little by little, one travels far."

~ J. R. R. Tolkien