Significant Milestone = Time for Reflection

Though not exactly a resolution, on January 1, 2015, I set a goal.  It was somewhat far fetched, and would require equal parts persistence, sacrifice, grit and luck.  As I reached this goal on Saturday, with about three weeks to spare, it sent me into a state of reflection.

The goal that I achieved is running 1,000 miles.  Even though I ran every step, it’s difficult to wrap my mind around that distance.  That’s like running from Wisconsin to Florida, from Georgia to Rhode Island, or Southern California to Oregon.

Getting there didn’t happen quickly or easily.  And it’s actually quite similar to the broader journey to health and weight loss.  It was accomplished through many small steps adding up to one larger journey.  Each small step taken alone seems rather insignificant, but when chained together, produces something meaningful.

As coincidence would have it, the seeds that grew into the beginning of those small steps were planted four years ago Saturday.  That was the day that my “before” picture was taken, as we headed out to a Christmas party.

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Before (Dec. 2011)  – During (2012) – Now (Dec. 2015)

As we got ready for that same Christmas party this year, I couldn’t help but think of the changes that I occurred in my life and my family’s life over the past four years.  The external changes, while obviously easy to see, only show a small portion of the story.  The internal and interpersonal changes, however, are much more meaningful.

As noted by a physician after losing weight, my health benchmarks have all improved.  Additionally, I’m now able to enjoy activities with family and friends in ways that I previously wouldn’t have been nearly as quick to embrace.  As a family, we enjoy skiing, swimming, running, playing tennis (and much more!) with friends and extended family.  And thus these relationships have also benefited.

At the end of the day, strong relationships are what make a healthy and active lifestyle truly sweet.  A most sincere thank you my friends and family who have stood by my side and helped me to achieve this 2015 goal.  xoxo

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A Tiny Tin

I have a friend who makes a dangerously delicious Christmas treat.  Its addictive qualities those of Doritos or Oreos.  Last year, she was kind enough to bring my family a large tin.  (I’m pretty sure I ate more than my fair share.)

The topic of her signature treat came up in conversation a few weeks back and I jokingly asked her to keep it far, far away from me this year.  Taking to heart my blog title, she brought me “just a dot, not a lot.”  What a thoughtful friend!

In the end, it was the perfect amount.  Not too much, not too little and most importantly no deprivation.  Hats off to moderation!

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Strawberry Delight

We’ve just returned home from a whirlwind trip to Germany (hence my hiatus from the blog).  The trip amazing and I hope to write about a few facets in the upcoming weeks.  While away, the question lingering in my head: will I make it home in time to pick strawberries?  Thanks to the long cold winter delaying the plants, I did.

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The boys received a pass this year, but our daughter joined me.  (Note to self: convince boys to come next time for faster picking.)  Despite a brutal winter and lots of recent rain, the strawberries were gorgeous.  We managed to pick a small flat before the little one lost interest.  (The flat is obviously quite heavy.  LOL)

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Once home, the berries were washed, dried, and hulled.  One tray was prepared with parchment paper for freezing whole berries to be used for smoothies.  The remaining 10 cups were crushed with a potato masher and made into jam.  To my disappointment, I couldn’t find low sugar pectin in any stores.  Low sugar pectin is all natural, but allows you to simply use less sugar when making your jam.  I did use a recipe that calls for slightly less sugar than most recipes and it set up fine.

After the jam was finished, I took the additional step of canning six half pints.  What a joy it will be to pop open the jars during the winter.  It’ll be like a little taste of summer.

My go-to resource for making and canning strawberry jam is: http://www.pickyourown.org/strawberryjam.htm

Besides the obvious uses for homemade jam, a favorite of mine is swirling a dollop into Greek yogurt.  For Weight Watchers followers, a half of cup (113g) of Fage non-fat Greek yogurt is 2P+ and a tablespoon of jam (20g) is 1P+.  Packed with 11g of protein, it’s deliciously filling summertime (and beyond!) treat.

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Mini-Cucumbers

A friend who works lunch duty at an elementary school recently asked me if I had seen mini-cucumbers in the produce section at the grocery.  She has been noticing them appear in kids’ lunch boxes.  Always up for trying something new, I added them to my shopping list.

They’re tiny, portable, cute, flavorful, crunchy and refreshing!  They range from the typical small-size gherkin up to restaurant-size pickles.

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I prefer mine quartered and lightly salted, though you could easily just chomp into them whole.  They taste like fresh cucumbers (obviously), but have the feeling of eating a pickle.

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The packaging varies.  Here are the bags from a couple of the varieties that I’ve purchased.  (One company is even non-GMO, which I opt for when available.)

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For Weight Watchers followers… good news!  Fresh cucumbers are 0P+.

Chicken Wrap: Lunch for 5P+

Previously, I’ve confessed my fondness for wraps.  They are quick, versatile and (with the type I buy) low in Points Plus.  I’ll throw almost anything into my wraps.

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Today, it was leftover chicken (3 ounces for 3P+) from the whole chicken I baked yesterday, along with some mixed greens, cherry tomatoes and spicy mustard (all 0P+).  With carrots, a mini-cucumber and a side of my favorite veggie dip (30g for 1P+), it was a satisfying lunch… high in protein, low in carbs and enough fruits and veggies to make me feel full.

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This lighter lunch left room later in the day for the obligatory post-Easter Peeps.  In case you’re wondering, 5 Peeps for 4P+….

Thinking Outside the Sandwich

When my boys were younger, I’d often pack their lunches “in fours.”  Four of the following: protein, fruit, veggie, dairy, carbohydrate or treat.

To do this, I found square, air-tight containers and square silicon baking cups.  It was a way to send lunch without the usual sandwich at the center.  The boys’ appetites eventually outgrew the containers and I packed them away… until now.

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Recently, I’ve re-discovered how fun packing “in fours” can be.  Our daughter eats lunch away from home from time to time, so I broke out the containers once again.  Not only are they good for her, but they’re good for me too!  Depending on the day, it could make a large snack to hold me over while on the go.  Or it could be a light lunch in-between appointments, to keep my in control until snack time.

My favorites to pack:

  • Hard-boiled egg (2P+)
  • Toasted almonds (15 pieces for 3P+)
  • Carrot sticks (0P+)
  • Cubed cheese or cheese rounds (P+ vary)
  • Mini-pretzels (11 for 1P+)
  • Mini-marshmallows (20 for 1P+)
  • Toasted oat cereal (1/4 cup for 1P+)
  • Turkey pepperoni slices (17 slices for 2P+)
  • Sliced, salted cucumbers (0P+)
  • Dark chocolate chips (1 TBS for 2P+)
  • Grapes (0P+)
  • Popcorn (stovetop popped, 1/2 cup for 1P+)
  • Sliced apples – if eaten quickly, before they brown (0P+)
  • Crackers (P+ vary)

What items would YOU pack?  I’d love to hear some fresh ideas!