When Saying “No” is Good for the Soul

1 06 2010

:shock:

Can you BELIEVE it’s June?  As in – within 30 days – half of 2010 is OVER.  Over, people!

It’s seriously bizarre.  As with any summer, I’m already seeing weekends book up quickly.  I love to stay busy, but I enjoy having my weekends for me.  I hate feeling rushed and I also hate – repeat HATE – when Sunday night rolls around and I feel as though I didn’t relax for a moment. 

I felt that feeling last night.  All of a sudden, it was 6 pm on Memorial Day and I was wondering where my entire long weekend had gone to.  I had a ton of fun, but I generally like to keep things a bit lower key (and with less alcohol!).  So, I’m making a solemn promise to myself to say “No”.  I think it’s important to find a balance between living a fun, young life and not running myself ragged. 

I’m following my advice this coming weekend.  My college reunion is being held at my alma mater and all of my college friends are headed down for the festivities.  While I absolutely adore time with my friends, the weekend is sure to be filled with drinks, drinks and more drinks.  I just can’t fathom the thought. 

I know what you’re thinking.  I don’t have to drink.  This is true.  But, I can’t fathom being the only sober person around from Friday – Sunday (Can you even imagine?).  So, I’m choosing not to go.  I know I’ll feel slightly sad when the pictures show up on Facebook, but I’d rather save my money and my sanity.  Mr. KD is going to a cookout at a friend’s house and I might tag along with him.  I enjoy the cookout scene over the bar scene these days.  Plus, I can be in bed by 10 pm :grin:

Last year’s reunion:

Trust me – I still have enough lined up that I get exhausted just thinking about.  And these are things I really want to do!

Now, let’s talk about things that do excite me in my old age.  How about milk?

Yes, milk.  Hood’s Simply Smart milk to be exact!

 

I was contacted by the lovely folks from Hood about sampling this line.  Obviously, I happily obliged.  It’s always exciting to try new products, but it’s even better when you’re allowed to sample them for free!  In addition, Hood is a local company (their first farm was in NH and they have various plants throughout MA), so I was even more pumped to help them spread the word. 

Simply Smart milk is a line of non-fat and low-fat varieties that provide more calcium and protein than your standard milk.  What truly helps Simply Smart milk stand out, however, is the unique filtration used to remove some of the water that leaves low-fat and non-fat varieties with that watered down taste.  The 1% version of Simply Smart tastes like whole milk, whereas the non-fat variety tastes like 2%.

I picked up a carton of the non-fat last week and had some with my cereal.  I made sure to taste some of the milk on its own before incorporating the cereal.

The result?  Delish!  It definitely tasted richer than your average skim milk.  But to be honest, I haven’t had 2% milk in so long that I’m not sure if it tasted just like 2%.  I would need a milk connoisseur to test this out fully.  It just so happens that my sister IS one.  I was going to ask her to try some out, but after the fridge disaster, I had to toss the rest of the milk :sad:

Here is what I do know, though.  The milk had a delicious, creamy flavor that was not overpowering.  I’m not sure that I would want a strong-tasting milk at this point in my life.  I’ve been drinking skim for so long that I think something too close to whole milk (or even 2%) would be difficult for me to enjoy.

I also know that the milk was loaded with more calcium (20% more to be exact) than the average milk.  Total score!  And, while calcium is much needed, I was more stoked about the protein value.  Simply Smart has 10 g of protein per cup, as opposed to the 6 g my prior milk contained. 

I love milk and used to drink it with my dinner every night.  However, I’ve stopped drinking it regularly over the past few years because I didn’t think its nutritional makeup was worth the extra calories.  I preferred to get my protein and calcium from other dairy sources, such as Greek yogurt.  However, knowing that this stuff packs 10 g of protein per cup has definitely changed my opinion.  I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate protein into my diet and I love the thought of being able to do this at dinner – without any added calories from the milk I was used to drinking previously.  I’ll definitely be buying this again!

THANK YOU, HOOD! :mrgreen:

P.S.  You should really check out the Simply Smart website.  Tennis pro Chris Evert is the Simply Smart spokeswoman and she has some great videos on life balance, as well as some tasty recipe ideas!

Onto some tasty eats of my own…

Breakfast: Some standard, scrambled egg beaters and a whole wheat English.  It’s semi-boring, but keeps my belly full for hours.  That’s what it’s all about!

Lunch was a three-parter.  First, I enjoyed a spinach salad with goat cheese, pecans and dried cranberries, which was dressed with vinaigrette at work.  Do you notice how large those cranberries are?  They’re “deluxe dried cranberries”.  La-tee-da, huh?  They didn’t have regular ones at the store.  I think “deluxe” simply means big :smile:

This salad also confirmed that pecans are my favorite nut.  Hands down.  Please don’t be mad, Mr. Pistachio and Mr. Macadamia :sad:

I moved on to a leftover chicken sausage with the remainder of veggies we had from Friday afternoon.  There weren’t a lot of veggies, which is why I added the salad.

Cherries for dessert. 

Sadly, these cherries weren’t very good.  They were good enough to finish the bag in my fridge, but they certainly weren’t the sweet, succulent, summer cherries I was hoping for.  I must have to wait a few more weeks!

Snack was a peach and a peach eaten by a peach :grin:

Dinner was handled by Mr. KD, who whipped up his famous stuffed chicken breasts!  Spring?  Summer?  Winter?  Fall?  It doesn’t matter because this is one of my favorite meals ever. 

So delicious and CHEESY! 

I didn’t even have to “cook” the veggies, which consisted of nuked corn and broccoli.  Tough night for me, obviously :wink:

I also slathered a little bit of organic, unsweetened applesauce on my plate.  So yummy!

Mmmm…cheese.

This was a larger dinner than I’m used to and now my belly is a little too full.  I couldn’t resist eating it all :oops:

I’m off to get caught up on the last few episodes of 24.  Oh, how I will miss Jack.  I can’t believe I had to say goodbye to Lost and him in the same season.  Sometimes, life just isn’t fair!

P.S. We’re in the last month of P90X.  Can you believe it went by that quickly?!?

SUNSCREEN CHALLENGE

Ever heard of the slip, slop, slap, wrap method of protecting yourself from UV rays?

Slip on a t-shirt to avoid overexposure to the chest and back area.

Slop on some sunscreen.

Slap on a hat to protect your face from UV rays.

Wrap sunglasses around your face to ensure the eyes – and the sensitive skin around the eyes – are protected from the harsh rays.

Question of the Day: Do you ever say “No” to social obligations to ensure more “you” time?





To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

27 05 2010

Happy Thursday, Loves :smile:

Where did I last leave you?  Ahhh, yes.  A broken fridge.

It’s safe to say the May 2010 gods have not been kind to me.

After posting last night, Mr. KD decided that before we rush out and spend money on a fridge, he should troubleshoot the situation.  He read that ice may have built up over the motor and fan, which then blocks the cold air from flowing.

Sure enough, the lines, fan and motor were almost completely covered.  He tried to chip away at it, but it was just too thick.  It became apparent that the entire thing had to defrost.  I knew we were going to lose our food anyway, but it was still a bummer to throw out so much food.

We packed a cooler with ice and salvaged what we could.  I was able to save:

  • 3 apples
  • 2 kiwis
  • Our breads (we generally keep them in the fridge to last longer)
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup (obvi!)
  • Ham
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Goat cheese
  • Egg beaters
  • Eggplant

I figured we could at least enjoy sandwiches and/or breakfast should the fridge truly be broken.

This morning, Mr. KD plugged it back in and could feel the cool air blowing.  Cool turned to cold while we were at work and we think it’s okay.  Sadly, we still lost a ton of food.

Since we had to buy ice and clean out the fridge last night, we ended up eating dinner super late.  9:07 to be exact.  That’s 7 minutes past my bedtime!  I ate and crashed without even watching the Celtics (who I am so not pleased with).

This morning, my alarm went off as usual and the thought of hitting the treadmill literally left a pit in my stomach.  Let’s put it this way: I barely catch 6.5 hours a night, which is borderline not enough.  Last week, I was lucky to catch 4 – 5 a night between everything that occurred and trying to keep up with the C’s.  Throw in a super busy weekend and Sunday’s late night episode of Lost and I honestly couldn’t bear the thought of exercise today.  Sleep was definitely needed.

I used to force myself to exercise even when I was tired.  But, ever since I started to exercise for fun, I’ve stopped.  If it’s not going to be fun and make me feel good, why do it?  Not to mention, it was a rest day for P90X.  I slept for another two hours and it was GLORIOUS.  I didn’t wake up groggy at all.  Now that the long weekend is here (tomorrow is my Friday off), I don’t have to rush out of bed to squeeze my workouts in.  By Tuesday when I return to work, I should definitely feel like my old self again.

Thanks to the cooler, I was able to still pack healthy goodies for the day.

Breakfast: Standard oats.  I left out the cottage cheese and went for straight banana oats.  Topped with the other ½ banana, Polaner all-fruit spread, Naturally Nutty and chia seeds.

Lunch was definitely a sort of kitchen sink salad.  I threw anything and everything I could before I had to throw the food out.  This contains a spring mix blend of lettuce, chickpeas, onions, peppers, goat cheese, dried cranberries and sesame seeds for some added crunch.  Dress with the light raspberry vinaigrette at work.

The rest of my blueberries for dessert :grin:

During snack time, I reunited with an old love.  I felt like I was having an affair on Fage plain 2%.  And no matter the consequences, it was worth EVERY bite.  I can’t believe I find a yogurt THIS glorious!  It’s insane, really.

And, about 20 of these guys.

Since I was able to salvage the eggplant and egg beaters, we had all the ingredients for eggplant parm!  This is definitely one of my favorite recipes on the blog and I encourage you to try it. 

I was really craving spaghetti squash (or a side salad), but we didn’t have any.  Whole-wheat pasta was the next best substitute.

Yum.

Make it.  Now. 

SUNSCREEN CHALLENGE

ABC’s of moles

From The Rhode Island Cancer Council, Inc.

  • A is for Asymmetry: Moles unequal in shape.
  • B is for Border: Moles with irregular, jagged, or poorly defined borders.
  • C is for Color: More than one color.
  • D is for Diameter: Larger than a pencil eraser.
  • E is for Elevation: Mole raised from surrounding skin.

Question of the Day: Complete this sentence – My best physical trait is my _______.

My best physical trait is my hair!





Vitamin A: Good for the Eyes, Bad for the Skin?

25 05 2010

Hi, Beautiful People :smile:

How are you? 

It was a SCORCHER here in MA!  The temperatures were close to 90.  That’s HOT for May weather, but it’s better than being too cold as we’re gearing up for a long weekend :mrgreen:

Speaking of the long weekend, Memorial Day generally marks the unofficial beginning of summer.  The temperatures generally stay high and cookouts become the weekend norm.   Beach trips are also a standard affair.  Due to the increased time in the sun, we must be careful about sun safety!! 

I realize I went into this a little with my post on Glenna, but I think it warrants more detail.  Additionally, Erin from The Healthy Apron contacted me after reading the post and asked if I would participate in her Sunscreen Challenge.   I immediately accepted, but then slightly panicked.  Thirty days of spreading sun awareness to others?  :???:   It sounded like a bigger challenge than I was ready to take on.

I told myself that I would set out for a week.  Anything is better than nothing and it seemed like a reasonable amount of time to post some quick facts every day.  So, here’s my first entry!

SUNSCREEN CHALLENGE!

I came across Shannon’s blog today and completely sucked in by the topic.  Could your sunscreen actually be accelerating cancer, as opposed to protecting you from it?

Huh?!?  Back up a second!  :shock:

Okay, I will.

I’ve heard about “harmful ingredients” in sunscreens before, but never paid too much attention to it or bothered to find out more information.  Shannon’s post made it impossible to ignore any longer, so I read on.

Shannon found her information from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  EWG consists of a group of researchers that attempts “to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.”   While I support any organization whose goal is to educate the public, I am often hesitant of these studies.  I’ve written about this in the past.

The more I thought about this, however, the more I realized that the information on their site is exactly what I had heard in vague description before but never bothered to look into you.  So, I’m sharing it with you!  Below you will find random tidbits about sunscreen and what YOU need to know!

First and foremost, the SPF ratings on all values cannot be trusted.  I don’t think this is some kind of conspiracy nor am I trying to make it out to be.  It’s simply common sense.  A product can market itself as SPF 70, but the truth is, the average person generally wears much less sunscreen than would be needed to ensure SPF 70 coverage.  In addition, the higher the rating, the “safer” people think they are, so they stay out in the sun longer with reapplying.  Again, this is simply common sense.  Be sure to reapply throughout the day and realize that the only REAL protection against the sun’s harmful rays are the shade and clothing.

Don’t get me wrong – I love lying out at the beach too, but you shouldn’t be doing it for HOURS on end.

Secondly, it is within the consumer’s right to understand that the FDA has never actually finalized regulations for sunscreens.  Not only does this lead to consumer confusion, but  also leads to companies claiming their products have SPF 100.  The American Cancer Society only advises using SPF 30.  Again, this is misleading to consumers.  The FDA has actually been trying to finalize regulations since 1978 and has YET to produce a final judgment.

Be aware of Vitamin A in your sunscreen.

Vitamin A:  An FDA cancer study shows that Vitamin A, which is common in a variety of sunscreens, may quicken the growth of skin tumors.  This deadly side effect has been linked to Vitamin A’s exposure to the sun, which is a quality identified as “photocarcinogenic”. 

This study showed that lab animals coated with a Vitamin A-laced cream and exposed to sunlight each day were 21% more likely to develop tumors than those animals that were not exposed to the cream. 

While this is only an initial study, it’s my recommendation to avoid sunscreens with this ingredient.  Obviously, this will cause a huge problem for not only the sunscreen industry, but also the FDA, who cannot seem to regulate the industry to begin with. 

Vitamin A will be called “retinyl palmitate” on the label.

The other major ingredient to avoid would be oxybenzone, which is a synthetic hormone that is easily absorbed through the skin.  Doesn’t that just SOUND scary?  Synthetic hormones?  No, thank you!

The EWG states, “Experts raise concerns about its use in sunscreens for children because of its ability to penetrate the skin and its association with allergic reactions and potential hormone disruption.”  Ick!

Lastly, find YOUR sunscreen on here to determine whether it is recommended by EWG or not.  Sadly, my Banana Boat did NOT score well!  In fact, it contains both Vitamin A AND oxybenzone.  :sad:   Guess I’ll be in the market for some new sunscreen sometime soon!

Now let’s talk about food because eating a healthy, balanced diet can help the body fight off all of this scariness!

Breakfast:  A standard Green Monster. 

Guess what?  I HATED this.  I have no idea why.  It tasted fine.  I think I just have an aversion to GM’s now.  We’re officially going to go on a little break.  “It’s not you, it’s me…”

Lunch:  Ham and laughing cow with mustard on a flatout, a little purple, a little orange.

Snack: Almonds & Kiwi = Love

Haha..doesn’t that kiwi look so funny?

Dinner:  Veggie Enchiladas!  Sadly, I forgot to buy a tomato for topping the dish with as I did last time.  They were still super cheesy and delicious though!  I love this recipe :grin:   I added more onions and it was BOMB.  Love, love, love.

And, I’m out for the night!  Same place, same time tomorrow, my lovelies!

Question of the Day:  Are you generally hot or cold?

I am always freezing when I’m awake, but as soon as I catch some shut-eye, I turn into a ball of heat.  I’m actually surprised I haven’t set my bed on fire.  It’s the strangest thing!