Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites | bloomingT.com

Friday Favorites | bloomingT.com

Favorite On Instagram

Into The Okavango
@intotheokavango
I follow over 600 Instagrammers and this is by far one of my favorites. It’s one of the feeds I am hoping to see new posts from every time I open the app. Their profile invites you to “Join us on a 90 day, 3 country, 1000 mile human-powered expedition through one of the planet’s most inaccessible and important ecosystems.” This account follows the trail of real-life explorers as they are “finding new species, exploring new ground, and taking the pulse of this mighty river that brings life-giving water to the Jewel of the Kalahari.” They share their stories of searching for new species, travelling through a country littered with mine fields. It’s fascinating and educational and an account I love to share with my daughter.

Favorites On Netflix

Showrunner
Am I the only one who thought showrunners were people who ran errands for shows?  Apparently they have slightly more important roles than tha – like they are in charge of the entire show. Anyway, I really enjoyed this documentary, which takes us behind the scenes of network t.v. shows. And if I’m being honest, what I really liked was seeing that no matter how successful they are, all writers struggle with the creative process.
 
Hot Girls Wanted
I saved this for last because it wasn’t something I loved but it was something I needed. This documentary, which was just added to Netflix,  looks at girls who answer Craigslist ads for amateur porn. If you, like me, have preconceived notions about the “types” of girls that end up in porn, or about the “types” of families they come from watch this movie. If you, like me, did NOT grow up in the age of the internet, watch this movie. I’ll warn you: It’s disturbing and hard to watch. And be warned it could be a trigger for anyone with a history of sexual abuse. It was difficult to watch but I am very glad I did. It opened my eyes to how different the world my daughter is growing up in is from the world I grew up in. 
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Would You Choose Beautiful?

If you haven’t seen it yet, Dove posted another powerful video for their #ChooseBeautiful campaign. I’ve watched this video over and over this past week. The first time I watched it I cried. Then I watched it again and I cried some more. The third time I watched it with my 8 year-old daughter… and I cried again. But when I watched with my daughter, I was fascinated by how different our experiences were. While I cried (again), she watched it with a huge smile. I cried because I identified with the women choosing the Average door. I cried because I wanted them to choose the Beautiful door. My daughter smiled because she identified with the women choosing the Beautiful door. I think she loved the idea of walking through the Beautiful door.  

After watching the video I asked her why she thought so many women chose the Average door and she couldn’t think of a reason. I asked her which door she would choose and she quickly answered “The Beautiful Door” and as relieved as I was to hear her answer, I did notice the tiny bit of doubt on her face as she said it. The doubt worried me at first but then I realised, doubt is inevetible, and what I really want for her is to know that when doubt creeps in, she still has the power to make her own choice. Last, I asked her, “Do you think some of the women were right to choose the Average door?” to which she answered, “No, I think they all should have picked the Beautiful door because everyone is beautiful.” And while I would like to gloat on her perfect answer, the truth is, I think most little girls would give that exact same answer. 

I think most little girls would choose to run to the beautiful door excited to declare their beauty. But I can’t say that as a grown women I would choose the Beautiful door. Sitting in the privacy of my home, watching the video for the first time, I thought, “Of course I would choose the beautiful door.” But, in truth, if I were really faced with this choice out in public, I think I’d be self-conscious. I think I’d be worried that someone might see me choose the beautiful door and think that I wasn’t worthy of it. I would feel like a fraud going through the Beautiful door. And as you can see in the video, I’m not the only one thinking that. Watching this video and having this conversation with my young daughter, it makes me wonder – what the hell happens to us that we grow up to become adults afraid of valuing ourselves?

I see this all the time with my clients. Not just that they can’t declare themselves beautiful, but they aren’t comfortable seeing themselves in a postive light. They’re uncomfortable declaring themselves healthy, fit, strong, in control, capable – you name it. It’s so easy for us to trash talk ourselves. So easy to point out all of our own flaws. Why is it so hard to declare that we have positive traits too? In my first draft of this post I wrote that I’m not sure what the answer to that question is. After writing that first draft, I kept thinking to myself, “We need to be kinder to ourselves”. We see so much of that advice these days. But being kinder to myself, that advice just didn’t resonate with me. It didn’t feel like a powerful solution and then it hit me –  maybe what we really need is to be kinder to each other. 

At times I make an effort to show myself compassion and, while it isn’t a bad thing, it doesn’t exactly alter my life. But when I make an effort to show compassion for others I find that I can be more compassionate with myself without even trying. Now that I’ve seen this video, I’m going to make an effort to spend a few moment each day noticing the beauty in other women. I doubt that there is one simple solution to the question, “What the hell happens to us that we grow up to become adults afraid of valuing ourselves?”, but I’m curious to find out… can this one simple effort get me closer to that Beautiful door?

If you were in this exact same situation, what door would you choose?

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Cookbook Review (part 1): Clean Slate

clean slate 

I was very excited when I found out that the editors from Martha Stewart Living were publishing their new cookbook Clean Slate. I was a huge fan of Whole Living magazine and I’ve always loved their approach to clean, healthy recipes. My copy arrived in the mail a couple weeks ago and now that I’ve had a chance to try out some recipes I wanted to share my review with you.

The Good

  • The cookbook is beautiful and well-organized (would we expect anything less from Martha Stewart and company?)
  • I like the easy, visual presentation of the smoothie recipes and I love the amount of variety them. I especially like at both savory and sweet smoothies are included.
  • I like the way the recipes are organized. Unlike traditional cookbooks that are organized by food group or meal, the recipes in this book are organized by how you want to feel. I talk about this a lot with my clients so I love that they’ve chosen to organize recipes this way.
  • The recipes in this book are healthy.  I know that probably sounds redundant, but I see so many recipes that are labeled as healthy when they really offer little in the way of nutrition. These recipes are high on nutrients and offer a lot of variety as well.

The Not As Good

I’m not a huge fan of the “super foods” trend. I see too many of my clients focusing on eating the so-called “super foods” and then they lose sight of getting variety in their diet. That said, I do appreciate that they list the health benefits of some foods and I think it could be a good reference tool when you want to add variety to your diet.

I’m trying a few of the recipes this week and the first one I’m reviewing is:

Farro and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad (pg. 174)

 Farro and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Confession: The picture looked delicious but when I looked at the ingredients list I thought it would taste a little bland.

Confession #2: I was wrong! This salad is full of flavor.

 

The Good

This recipe is delicious. Anyone who follows me knows that my favorite qualities in a recipe are 1) Easy, 2) Healthy, and 3) Delicious. This recipe met all those requirements with flying colors. In fact, this is a new favorite for me. I was so wrong about the flavors. It is incredibly flavorful and I’m excited to have a new healthy lunch option that tastes great. I also love that this would be a great meal to take with me with I’m on-the-go.

What I Changed

  • As much as I love Martha Stewart’s recipes, I often wonder if they ever use normal people (you know, those of us who aren’t perfect at everything we do) to test their recipes. I don’t own a mortar and pestle so I tried their suggestion of mashing the garlic with a fork. It took me about 30 seconds to decide this was not the way to go so I used a garlic press instead. I’m sure this a major faux-pas in the culinary world but it was faster, easier, and the recipe tasted great so that’s how I’ll be doing it in the future too. Or maybe I’ll use this as an excuse to buy myself a mortar and pestle. 
  • I also used a rice cooker instead of cooking the farro stovetop. I’m far too lazy to stand watch over my grains while they cook when I can get perfectly good results from my rice cooker. I’m sure the culinary purists would be revolted by this, but I like to keep things simple when I can.

Notes

  • If I made this for the meat lovers in my family, I would marinate some chicken in olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, grill it up and serve that on top of this salad
  • This recipe is actually pretty quick and easy but if I were really short on time, I would cook the farro and sweet potato the night before and then throw the rest of the salad together the next day.

 I love this recipe! Too many clean eating recipes are lacking in flavor but that is not the case here. The garlic, lemon, and dill make it flavorful. This was a great introduction to the cookbook and I can’t wait to see how the other recipes compare.

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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Diets Don’t Work – Part 1

Diets don't work - Part 1 | bloomingT.com
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been on a diet. Raise your hand if you’ve dieted two or more times in your life. Now think of how many people you know who have dieted. That’s a lot of people doing a lot of dieting. It is estimated that 45 million Americans diet each year. 45 million. Think about that number. 45 milion. Every single year. That is a lot of dieting going on.
 

200 Years Of Dieting
Dieting goes back at least as far as 1820 when the vinegar and water diet was introduced. The diet consisted of drinking only apple cider vinegar and water (apparently the diet gurus are running out of ideas because this one has been getting recycled recently). That’s nearly 200 years of dieting. 200 years. You would think that in 200 years of dieting, we’d have perfected it by now, right? Two hundred years seems like ample time to perfect dieting. But research tell us that we have done anything but perfect dieting.

 

45 Million Diets
Dieting has been around for 200 years and yet, according the the CDC, 69% of Americans are overweight. If 45 million Americans diet every year, and if diets have been around for 200 years, why are 2/3 of us still overweight? The diet inudstry wants to blame you. The diet industry wants you to think it’s your lack of willpower. It’s time to pull back the curtain and realize that the great and powerful diet industry is trying to pull one over on you.

 

Diets Actually Predict Weight Gain
Studies have shown that almost all people go off of their diets within 12 months and virtually no one makes it to the 2 year mark. Diets take a lot of effort (not that I’m opposed to effort) so why would anyone want to put so much effort into something they will only benefit from for one year, two at best? That’s like going to the gym for two years and then saying, “Ok, I worked out for two years. I’ll never have to work out again”. It just doesn’t make sense.

 

The Proof Is In The Study

  • A twin study done in Finland found that people who had dieted once in their life had a significantly higher chance of gaining weight compared to those who hadn’t dieted at all. In fact, it seems that every time a person diets, their potential for gaining weight goes up respectively.
  • Another study published in 2006 ( Neumark-Sztainer et al 2006) found that teenage dieters had twice the risk of becoming overweight, compared to non-dieting teens.
  • A team of UCLA researchers reviewed 31 long term studies on the effectiveness of dieting and concluded that dieting is a consistent predictor of weight gain—up to two-thirds of the people regained more weight than they lost. Still think dieting is the way to lose weight?
The diet industry is very good at convincing you that their way will work for you. And with $66 billion dollars at stake, they’re going to do everything in their power to keep you thinking that you need them. I’m here to show you the truth. This series is going to take you through why diets don’t work so when the next trendy diet that comes along you won’t fall for it.
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Personal Trainers: Sorting The Good From The Bad

how to choose a personal trainer 

Ugh. Bad personal trainers. They’re everywhere. On t.v., in magazines, on YouTube in the gym. I hear them giving bad (sometimes dangerous) advice and I see people, all the time, heeding the advice of these misguided trainers because what most people don’t know is that not all trainers are created equal. A great personal trainer help you reach a level of fitness you didn’t even know was possible, but a bad trainer can cause you harm leaving you with injuries. Before you hire a trainer, you should talk with him or her to make sure that persona is the right trainer for you. I love seeing people succeed and I’ve seen so many people succeed with a knowledgable, motivated trainer. I want you to succeed to so I’ve put together a some guidelines to help you choose a trainer:

No crunches
Ask the trainer if he use crunches. Crunches are outdated, harmful for the back, and create over-dominance of the wrong muscles putting you at higher risk for injury. A knowledgeable trainer will use newer and more effective exercises that strengthen your core. 

Assessments
As the saying goes, if you’re not assessing, you’re guessing. A trainer who is invested in your success will want to track your progress and make sure that the program you’re following is working for you. If your trainer can’t quantify the results, then he’s just just guessing at whether your actually getting stronger or not. Ask the trainer what method they use for assessing progress. Oh, and if the scale, BMI, or inches lost is their only method of assessment… find a different trainer.

Feedback
A trainer’s first priority should be making sure the exercises are being performed correctly. If you aren’t doing the exercise correctly, you’ll actually be making parts of your body weaker, which puts you at a much higher risk for injury. A knowledgable trainer will stop you in the middle of your reps to make sure you’re moving correctly. And NOBODY moves correctly 100% of the time so you should be hearing corrections throughout your workout. You should also be hearing what you are doing right. If your trainer never corrects your movement or goes an entire set without correcting you, get a new trainer. Fast.

No pain = No gain A great thing
No pain, no gain is a myth. The truth is pain=injury and injuries impede progress. If you have consistent pain, you’re trainer should refer you to a physical therapist or at the very least consult with a PT before working with you. Your trainer should know what exercises will help you and which will cause you further injury. If you have an injury and the trainer is asking you what exercises you are able to do, don’t hire that trainer! It’s ok if he asks you how an exercise feels, but the trainer should not be relying on you to tell him what is safe and what isn’t.

Engagement
Look for a trainer that engages with his or her clients. Your trainer should be invested in your goals and progress. He or she should be focused on you and excited to see your progress. Avoid those trainers who look bored, checked out, or seem more interested in socializing than training you.

Certification & Education
The top three certifications are NSCA, ACSM, and NASM. There are too many other certifications to list, but at the very least, the certifying organization should be NCCA qualified.

Nutrition
If your goal is weight-loss or muscle gain, your trainer should know that nutrition plays a bigger role than exercise and sharing that information with you. Your trainer should either have a nutrition certification or refer you to a nutrition coach. And beware of trainers who try to encourage you to follow rigid diets. 

A good trainer is always prepared
Your trainer should show up to every session with a written plan and he or she should be documenting your workout as you go. If they aren’t documenting your workout, they can’t be tracking your improvement. If your trainer doesn’t have a plan, your workouts will be random preventing you from achieving long-term adaptive response. What does that mean? Well, imagine you wanted to learn how to skateboard, so I took you out for an hour to skateboard. And then the next week we spent an hour playing football. And the week after that we spent an hour riding a unicycle. And then the fourth week we went back to skateboarding. How much progress would you have made with your skateboarding? Probably none at all, right? That’s exactly what happens to your muscles with random workouts. They never get a chance to progress because you’re always focusing on something different.

Hiring a personal trainer requires a financial investment and an investment of your time and I hate seeing people wasting their money on a trainer who is wasting their money. The right trainer will lead you down the road to success. The wrong trainer will waste your time, money, and put you at risk for injury. So take your time, do some research, and invest in the trainer that is right for you.

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Super Quick BBQ-Chicken Salad

BBQ Chicken Salad

Despite all of my planning and prepping, some nights I just don’t have time to cook a dinner. This BBQ Chicken Salad is our don’t-have-time-to-cook solution. In the colder months, you can heat up the chicken to make it a warm salad and in the warm months, it’s perfect dinner on a hot summer day. This salad also works great for lunches too.

Super Quick BBQ-Chicken Salad
A super quick BBQ-chicken salad for those nights you just don't have time to cook
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. Trader Joe's Pulled Chicken Breast
  2. Red onion sliced
  3. Mixed berries (we use frozen berries that have been thawed)
  4. Granny Smith apple thinly sliced
  5. Trader Joe's Sweet and Spicy Pecans
  6. Blue Cheese
  7. Lettuce mix or spinach
  8. Avocado (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients to make a healthy quick salad.
Notes
  1. If you're looking to add carbs to this salad, try adding a scoop of brown rice
Blooming T http://www.bloomingt.com/
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Why I Love Birthdays

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Yesterday was my birthday. Happy birthday to me! I love my birthday. I love it because, as the saying goes, the alternative to getting older just isn’t that appealing. I’ve watched too many people I love face the prospect of not having another birthday and on my birthday, I am so grateful for another year of being alive. When I hear people complain about birthdays, act as though birthdays are a horrible thing, what I hear is ingratitude. I hear someone who doesn’t appreciate being alive. 

I’m not saying that every birthday needs to be a huge celebration. I know that divorce, illness, financial problems can all make it difficult to feel like celebrating. I’m not saying that you need to be happy on your birthday. There’s a difference between being happy and being grateful. What I’m saying is no matter where I am in my life, I am always grateful to be alive. Life is a beautiful, amazing thing and even when it doesn’t feel like it’s going our way, it is still an amazing gift to be treasured. So whether you celebrate big or celebrate small, always celebrate the gift of being alive.

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What’s Cooking in Our House

I am always on the lookout for recipes that are tasty, relatively easy, and of course, healthy. Here’s what’s been cooking in our house this week.

These steak tacos from Feasting at Home are high on our list of favorites. I’ll admit it takes a little prep time – usually Doug and I prep this one together – but it’s worth the small effort. The good news is most of the prep can be done ahead of time so you don’t have to do it all at the same time. I like to double the chimichurri sauce and the salsa to add to salads later in the week. This week we swapped out the steak for chicken breast and let it marinate for 24 hours so the chicken would be flavorful, which it definitely was.

Pan-Roasted Rosemary Chicken from Bon Appetit 
This was a new recipe for us, but it’s definitely a keeper. I’m not usually a big fan of chicken and even I loved this one. I think we’ll make it again next week. It was really easy to prepare and pretty quick. Next time I’ll make extra to add to lunches. I made a batch of quinoa earlier in the day and steamed some broccoli. While the chicken was in the oven, I  made a quick vinaigrette for the broccoli using the thyme, shallot, and garlic that I had for the chicken.

These chicken gyros from How Sweet It Is
This is another favorite in our house. I skip the whipped feta and make a quick tzatziki sauce instead. I just add garlic, dill, lemon juice, a splash of red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper to whole fat greek yogurt. I love that I can easily add spinach, leeks, and avocado to this dinner to make a balanced meal. If I’m watching my carbs, I’ll skip the tortillas, and mix it with rice or quinoa instead.

Having a list of go-to, tried and true recipes is a key step in healthy meal planning for our family. Do you keep a list of favorite healthy recipes?

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Your No-Fail New Year’s Resolutions

This weekend my daughter decided she was going to build a Lego helicopter. She doesn’t have a Lego helicopter set or instructions for one. She had to use her existing Legos and figure out how to build it herself. Her first attempt was pretty spectacular (I might be a tad biased), but it didn’t quite turn out the way she had hoped. So, I told her “Of course you failed. I knew you would. You should never have even have tried that the first place!” Isn’t that what any good parent would say?

Of course not! And no, I didn’t really say that to her. But here we are, only five days in to the New Year, and I can’t believe how many people are assuming that you will fail your New Years resolutions. I see the headlines in my Facebook feed, in magazines, on blogs. Everywhere I look, I’m seeing articles about why you shouldn’t even attempt New Year’s resolutions because you’re just going to fail anyway. Even the so-called motivational gurus are trying to rain on your New Year’s resolution parade – already declaring you a failure. But I know they’re wrong. I know you won’t fail at your resolutions because the truth is you can’t fail at your New Year’s resolutions.

I acknowledge that you’ll likely hit roadblocks. I acknowledge that, often, people give up when they hit roadblocks, but you won’t. You might feel like you’ve failed when you don’t meet your own expectations, but you won’t give up. You know better than that. You know that roadblocks do not equal failure. Giving up equals failure, but you won’t give up. Roadblocks are just your cue to take a step back, identify why your plan isn’t working, and change it. 

When my daughter’s first attempt at building a helicopter was not what she had hoped for, failure didn’t even enter her mind. Either did giving up. She took a step back, thought about it a bit, and found a new way to achieve her goal. And she did it. So if you get to the point a few weeks from now where you are feeling like you failed at your goals, remember that you didn’t fail. You simply found out that your original plan didn’t work. In my daughter’s case, she hadn’t fully thought through the details. So take a step back, think about why your plan didn’t work, and see if you can’t find a new path to your goal. If you have trouble figuring out why your plan didn’t work, here are some likely reasons:

1. It was too big. Maybe you bit off more than you can chew. This is a great problem to have because all you have to do is scale back your goal. How easy is that? Read this post from last year on how those little changes can add up to big results.

2. You didn’t have a plan. You might have declared you would go to the gym five days a week, but if you didn’t get specific about when you would go, you missed a key step. Get specific about how you will achieve your goal.

3. You picked the wrong goal. Maybe the reason you aren’t going to the gym five days a week is because you’ve realized you hate being in the gym and you’d rather be outdoors. So change your goal. If you’re motivation is to get fit, then focus on doing activities you actually enjoy.

I love New Year’s resolutions. I think it’s fantastic that people all across the country are starting the year with a commitment to improving themselves in some way. How could anyone be down on that? I hope you have phenomenal success with your resolutions. I love seeing people succeed. But just in case you don’t have phenomenal success, remember that you have not failed at your New Year’s resolutions. Let me repeat that. You have not failed! What you’ve done is learned that your original plan did not work. Your plan needs some tweaking. 

As for all those Debby Downers trying to rain on your resolution parade? I’m guessing they’re a bunch of quitters who give up at the first sign of an obstacle. Lucky for us, we know better.

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2014 Kicked My Ass… Just Like I Needed It To

years that ask2014 kicked my ass. In 2014 I failed. Multiple times. In many ways. In 2014 I was on the receiving end of rejection and animosity – the likes of which I haven’t seen since middle school. Many times I found myself surrounded by negative people and feeling responsible for their negativity. I was often surrounded by people trying to blame me for their mistakes. I spent much of 2014 licking my wounds barely finding time to heal before the next bout. But I asked for it and now, at the end of 2014, I’m glad it happened. 

I start every year by asking myself if this will be a year that asks questions or a year that answers them. As 2013 was coming to an end, I was feeling like I had lost my way a bit (more like a lot) and I needed to find the path back to my authentic self. I had fallen into the trap of people pleasing, trying to fit in, trying to be the one everyone could count on, trying to be everything to every one, and I had lost myself along the way. I wasn’t happy. I was resentful and I knew something needed to change but I had no idea where to start. I was lost. I knew that in 2014, I needed answers. So at the start of the year I asked the Universe to help me find my way back and because I never seem to learn lessons the easy way, the Universe taught me lessons I can never forget.

It seemed like every time I turned around I was dealing with people who were mad at me, disappointed in me, flat out hating me, expecting more from me, and really mad when I didn’t meet their expectations. I’d like to be able to say that I rose to the challenges and met them head on with strength, grace, and dignity but that isn’t how it happened. I met the challenges with fear, self-loathing, hurt, anger, resentment, guilt and, at times, a strong desire to change my identity, move across the country, and start all over. But I knew why these negative experiences kept coming up over and over again. I had asked for answers and I knew that every challenge was also an opportunity for growth. I knew I could choose to be defensive and play the victim or I could choose to acknowledge my role in the situation. I started the year crumbling when faced with adversity and with each new challenge, I learned a little more, cared a little less (about what others thought), and listened to my instincts a lot more.

I learned so much about myself this year. I learned that when I am honest about my expectations and my reasons for doing things, I really don’t care what others think. I learned that when I am true to myself, some people won’t respond well, but most will appreciate the authenticity. I learned that not being honest and vocal about my expectations guarantees disappointment, which then leads to resentment. I learned that focusing on gratitude is far more rewarding than focusing on expectations. I also learned that life is so much more enjoyable when I focus my energy on people I actually like. Most importantly, I learned that I, and only I, am solely responsible for my happiness. Which means that I, and only I, am solely responsible for my unhappiness.

This in not a look-how-much-my-year-sucked post. My intention is not to evoke empathy. My intention is to say 2014 kicked my ass and I am so glad it did because I ended up exactly where I wanted to be. I found my way back to me and, as it corny as it sounds, I’m kinda loving me. So 2015 watch out. Because this year it’s my turn to kick some ass.

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