Archives for March 2012

March Check in with My Resolutions

This year, I’ve decided to treat my  New Year’s Resolutions more like personal and professional goals rather than resolutions.  To reexamine them each month, and to set 1-2 specific monthly goals to keep on track.  So far it’s been working out well.  Here is my review of March:

  • Welcome every morning with a smile 🙂 — I have been pretty good about this one.  Rather than start the day growling at the alarm clock, most days I’ve remembered to smile and being thankful for another day!
  • Post at least once a week on this blog –So far so good!
  • Complete the Seacoast Race Series –The race series runs from May to November, so I haven’t actually run any of the races yet, but I have started running again and I did sign up for the first race in the series.
  • Lose 5 pounds– I’m down 3 in March; buying that scale really helped keep me on track for this one.
  • Remember to take my vitamins daily –I have a new trick.  I got tired of standing at the cabinet opening bottles of vitamins, minerals and other supplements, and I am way too young and healthy for one of   those pill boxes with a compartment for every day of the week, so I bought some of the little snack size plastic bags and filled up a bunch.  Now I can just take a baggie out of the cabinet and have all my vitamins, etc. in one place. (I know it’s the same thing as a pill-box, but it makes me feel better)
  • Cut coffee down to 1 cup a day and drink more tea –Amazingly I’ve been able to do this.  I don’t even miss the afternoon cup of coffee anymore.  And, since I’ve been cutting down on dairy, I put soy milk in my morning coffee.  It really isn’t as good as cream or half and half, and so I often don’t even drink my full cup of coffee in the morning.  (Unless I get a soy latte at Starbucks, then I finish it all up!)
  • Make a new friend and deepen 1-2 existing friendships –Last night I stepped out of my comfort zone and made some new acquaintances.  I got together with a group of women I met via a local  Facebook group, Pink Martini Confessions.  I had been reading some of their posts and we’d commented back and forth.  I felt a connection with one of the women as we shared a lot of interests, so when the opportunity to meet came up, I went for it.  We had a lot of fun over drinks and dinner!
  • Get together with girlfriends –Just last week, I had dinner with my friend Diane who I hadn’t seen in 2 years.  After dinner, another friend of ours, Brenda met up with us and we had a great time catching up.  I also rejoined the book club I used to be in.  I forgot how much fun wine club, oops, book club was.  Everyone was very welcoming;  I’m looking forward to next month.
  • Listen to more current music–I have been tuning into “The Loft” more often on my XM radio–trying not to always listen to “Classic Vinyl”!

Some things that need work are:

Keeping up with my professional blog (goal of 2 posts per month.  In March I got in one post)

Watch less TV.  Now that “my shows” are back on — Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, I won’t be working on this goal until after May!

Goals for April:

  • Post at least twice on my Media and Communications blog
  • Refuse to participate in negativity–at work, at home or on the news!

Just what is Quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa, or KEE- noh-wa, or even kee-NOH-ah) is a grain.  It is gluten-free, and  it contains all the  essential amino acids including lysine, making it a complete protein source (like meat, dairy and tofu).  Quinoa is also a good source of calcium, dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.  (As a matter of fact, due to its high nutritional value, NASA is considering it for its Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights.)

Quinoa was first domesticated in the Andes.  The Incas, considered the crop to be sacred, they called it chisaya mama (mother of all grains).  The Inca emperor would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season.  Later, the Spanish colonists scorned quinoa as “food for Indians”, and even actively suppressed its cultivation.  For a time it was forbidden to grow quinoa and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.

Quinoa can be cooked like rice or couscous.  adding one cup of quinoa to two cups of boiling water and simmering for 10-15 minutes.  Quinoa can also be  a high-protein breakfast food and mixed with honey, nuts or berries.

Here is an interesting recipe I found and am going to try out:

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Avocado and Cumin-Lime Dressing
serves 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado, chopped into chunks
  • handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into chunks
  • small handful cilantro, diced
For the dressing
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, to taste
Directions
  1. Warm the olive/coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s hot add the rinsed quinoa and toast for about 2-3 minutes until it starts smelling nutty and lovely. Add water, stir once, cover, and simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare all other ingredients. Prepare the dressing by combining the lime juice, oil, cumin, and salt. Whisk it aggressively. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
  3. When the quinoa has finished cooking, remove it from heat and fluff with a fork. Add black beans and toss to warm them through.
  4. Let the quinoa cool for about five minutes and then add all the remaining ingredients, including the dressing, and mix.

A Little Trip = A Lot of Packing

I am leaving for a weekend trip to visit my kids (hardly kids, young adults is a better description).  Anyway, in an effort to calm down and relax, I thought I’d write a bit.

I have made this trip many, many times before.  I take the bus right from Portsmouth to Logan airport (about an hour away), get dropped off right at the terminal,  take an easy 1 1/2 hour flight to Dulles Airport, and get picked by my daughter at the other end.  Easy.

Well I’ve been up for 4 hours…packing.  The main problem is the weather.  For the past week it has been in the high 70’s to low 80’s here in New Hampshire (so I can only imagine the weather in the DC area).  But this weekend, the Weather Channel is predicting 60’s-70’s and raining in DC.  So what do I bring?  Long sleeves? short sleeves? pants? capris? shoes? sandals? And what about a jacket?

I only want to bring one carry-on bag so I can’t bring everything.  I’ve packed and repacked several times now and I think I have it narrowed down.  My Gortex rain coat (luckily it folds up very small), a pair of “nice” jeans (plus the ones I’m wearing), capris, a light sweater and a very light long sleeve shirt.  Two short sleeve cotton shirts that can be worn alone or under the sweater/long sleeve shirt.  Then in case we get some exercise in, yoga clothes and running clothes –just in case — and that means sneakers, plus shoes with a heel, plus sandals, and the flats I’m wearing!

Did I mention I’m only going for 3 days?

Time to Hit the Pavement!

Now that the gorgeous weather is here (at least for a while), I have gotten back into running.  I took a long hiatus after I ran the Seacoast Half Marathon in November and just started back up again about 2 weeks ago.  I wasn’t a total slacker all winter.   I practiced yoga and did some weight training over the past 3-4 months.  Even so, starting up running again is hard.

I have  a running buddy, so I am motivated, my runs have been enjoyable, and we’ve worked our mileage up from about 2.5  to 4 miles. And yesterday, those 4 miles in the almost 80 degree heat were HARD.  It’s hard running in that kind of heat when I’m accustomed to it  in July.  In March it is almost impossible.  We walked around to cool down for a good half hour after that run!

I have even signed up for my first race of the Seacoast Road Race season, The Children’s Museum of NH 5k so I’m feeling pretty good.  Now the trick is to make sure I still make time for yoga.  I’m thinking that the weight training can slide as yoga, besides the stretching, balance and piece of mind, provides a great body weight workout.

Yoga Can Make You Taller!

I’ve been practicing yoga for about a year and a half.  Last week when I went to the doctor, she measured me and I grew about half an inch taller!  I commented that it must be due to my improved posture due to yoga.  She said, yes, yoga certainly improves our posture, but it also can cause us to grow!

Yoga stretches and extends our spine.  It helps the back decompress from the downward pressure of gravity.  It also causes the cartilage in our back and our joints to lengthen and thicken making us taller.

There are several poses that encourage this growth in height:

Easy Pose (Sukahasana) opens up our hips and groin muscles and promotes our body’s natural ability to grow.

 

Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and Child’s Pose or Half  Tortoise (Ardha Kumasana).  Practicing Mountain Pose and Half Tortoise stretches our vertebral column, making it longer.

 

Shoulder Stand (Sarvanganasana)  not only stretches our spine, but also promotes pituitary gland activity, boosting the secretion of growth hormones.

It’s counter pose, Fish (Matsyasana) should be done soon after Shoulder Stand as it offers balance to the stretching produced by Shoulder Stand.

 Cobra Pose (Bhujangsana) increases the flexibility of our spine and  boosts blood supply to our vertebral column.

 

Thanks to Yoga Journal and Arc4life for the photos!