Monday, April 4, 2011

Talking Belly Buttons

Hey folks. How's that for a title that demands attention???

Each of you has encountered challenges as you've worked through the BTWG process, as well as encountering successes that aren't measured in pounds but are instead measured in insights.

I've had my own fitness challenges lately - err, let's be honest. Since the holidays I've had my own fitness challenges. No doubt, they mirror some that you've run into. This week I experienced a success, an insight that gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get myself back in gear and move ahead. Yes, it involves a talking belly button. Yes, that lint-catching indent in the torso inspired my recent insight. 

For a variety of reasons I can rattle off (work hours/commitments, drive time to PRFitness and gas expense, the need for some solitary workout time which I admit is not as strenuous of a workout as when I am with our PRF community, the desire to be home a bit more versus out and about, post-winter and pre-spring mood swings, and so on) - because of these things I allowed my workouts to fall off slightly, while my eating has not. Ah-ha moment!  When I was working out more I had "X" calories coming in, "X" calories being expended - balance! Lovely. Alas, for the past 3 months I have had "X" calories coming in, and "X minus 500 calories being expended."  Add into that a diet that is not unhealthy but certainly has added in a few "extra" things a tad too often and in portions a tad too large. You don't have to be a math genius to see where this is going, right.

Weight gain of 7 pounds over 3 months. But the weight itself is not the issue - it's merely a signal to me that I'm out of balance in certain areas of my life again.  Beat myself up over it?  Nope - that's time wasted that is better spent changing my path. And, while I rarely beat myself up over anything I say or do, I always make sure I "own it", whatever it is.  What I'm owning right now is the fact that I moved away from a few of the general concepts of BTWG in the last 3 months and doing so has ramifications that don't serve me or others well. As each of you are finishing up BTWG, all I can say to you as advice is keep the BTWG concepts in your daily life. Even when you feel like you had them engrained into your daily life as I felt I had after 2 years, keep them in the forefront of your mind and actions as a guide.

Now, I say the weight I've gained isn't the issue, but let me also be clear that I am NOT happy with it. All 7 pounds have acted as a well-orchestrated team and gathered their force around my soon-to-be 45-year-old midsection.  In the same way that friends say to one another, "Let's go shopping at Kohls!" these 7 pounds all looked at one another and said, "Let's go to Sherri's waistline!"  Which leads us to the talking belly buttons.

Recently when a BTWG graduate/friend and I were comparing the bulges that have "mysteriously" appeared around both of our waistlines, we both lapsed into 5th-grade humor by exposing our midsections and flapping our midsection bulges around so our belly buttons became "talking" mouths.  (Yes, even in your mid 40s stupid body humor prevails. And no, we had not been drinking.)  What did our belly button mouths say?  In a French accent (not sure why) we flapped our bellies while crooning, "What is 'dis? What is 'dis bulge? Where did it come from? Dis was not here last summer!! Dis is what is in da way of the buttons on my pants!"  We were laughing hysterically as she watched my belly bounce about and I watched hers, but we both were very much aware that this laughter was our way of drawing a new line in the sand.  Post-laughter, belly buttons now silent, we have both recommitted to a renewal of focus on our mental, emotional and physical health by bringing BTWG principles - specifically the eating portion - back to the forefront.

What strikes me as really funny about our talking belly buttons is the fact that the next day we both went out and ran 13 miles and we felt great afterwards. I had even run 13 miles the weekend before with no trouble and felt great after it. BUT "great" is relative, isn't it?  How much better would we have felt if our eating had been healthier before our run, how much better would our joints have felt minus those extra pounds and with a little more muscle mass, how much quicker could we have run, how much more would we have mentally and emotionally enjoyed the run if our fitness and training had been a little more deliberate?

I'm owning all this, friends, and I'm asking you to witness it. All 7 pounds, the talking belly buttons, the shorts I bought last summer that now fit me like Hooters waitress...yep, I'm owning all of it.  I'm owning it but I'm not keeping it. Farewell non-serving eating habits I allowed to return and a lackadaisical approach to fitness. Hello again "focus-on-me-because-I-am-worth-it-and-want-to-be-active-and-have-fun-well-into-my-90s-with-friends-and-family"!

AND NO, I will not be doing an encore performance of the French-speaking belly button act. Don't ask.  heehee

HOWEVER, I am game for getting a group together on Sunday and running/walking the trails at Eagle Creek...all paces welcome. Kelly and I will be at the 71st entrance to the park at 8am sharp for an 8am sharp departure. Any takers? If so, drop me your email at

Thursday, March 3, 2011

RECIPE - Nutty Millet Veggie Bites

I haven't tried this yet but it sounds yummy and they looked pretty in the photo.
Serves 4: 170 calories, 6g fat, 1 sat fat, 0 cholesterol, 55mg sodium, 23g carbs, 3g fiber, 7g protein

1 cup finely grated carrots
1/3 cut finely chopped roasted salt free nuts
1/2 cut chopped red pepper
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 gluten free fat free egg substitute
1 tsp gluten free salt free garlic herb seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper
1-1/2 cups hot cooked millet

Preheat oven to 350. Line 8 cup muffin tin with foil liners. Coat liners with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine everything but the millet.
Add the hot millet and stir gently.
Spoon into muffin cups.
Bake 30-40 minutes until a knife comes out clean from the center.
Serve warm or at room temp.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

RECIPE: Easy Gnocchi Garden Skillet with Beef

This is equally as good with no meat. Simple and fast and tasty!

15 oz. can no-salt diced tomatoes, undrained  (I use fire roasted)
1 large zucchini, cubed
1 cup sliced white mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup water
8 oz. sirloin steak, trimmed and cubed, uncooked
1 cup whole wheat gnocchi (potato dumplings in the pasta aisle or sometimes with refrigerated pasta) or mixture of plain and wheat
1/3 cup FRESH basil leaves (definitely go with fresh basil instead of dried)

In a large skillet, combine tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, onion, garlic and water. Place on high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer COVERED for 10 minutes.

Stir in beef and cooked covered for 5 minutes. Add gnocchi and basil and return to a slight boil. Cook uncovered for 5-10 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Season with pepper.

Serves 4:  225 calories, 50 mg cholesterol, 4g fiber, 19 g protein, 6g fat, 2g sat fat, 165mg sodium

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Back from the Gulf

Hey there Everyone!

I am back - back from illness and also back from spending a week at our condo in the Gulf. Such power sunshine and water have...

So, what was I doing down there?  Being completely selfish and doing whatever the heck I wanted. Yep, and I say that with no guilt. Husband and dog left behind in Indiana in a house I did not clean before leaving. Detect any guilt?  Nope.  Left behind a couple huge work projects I have going on. Detect any worry?  Nada, zilch, zero. Emails and phone messages were left to pile up. Detect any concern? Not one ounce! Found an outlet mall near the Gulf and went a little shoe crazy despite funds being a tad low right now. Am I filled with regret? Heck, no. No regret AND my feet are looking fine!

My point?

Being "selfish" occasionally isn't a bad thing....sometimes it's a self-sustaining thing, a renewal thing, a way to rejuvenate and refresh, a way to come back to your life with a little more verve. Truth is - it feels pretty darn good to have a little "you time".    I believe wholeheartedly in selflessness and service - but I also believe wholeheartedly in a little selfishness.  It's all about balance, right?

That all said, I have returned healthy and ready to dive into working out seriously again and fine-tuning my eating in preparation for the DC half marathon at the end of March (with deadlift queen Vanessa who will fly in from San Diego to run with me).   AND, I look forward to seeing all of you very soon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"easy" is good

Just got this in from that inspirational email service I subscribe to - seemed fitting:

"Like most things in life, getting what you want, or doing something new, or being really honest with yourself, is typically very, very hard for first timers, but then... it becomes patently, ridiculously, absurdly and preposterously EASY for the rest of eternity.

I'd say do it right, nail it, whatever it takes, because "easy" is good, and eternity is long.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Journey By Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Thoughts Become Things"

Every so many days I receive an email from filled with affirmations and inspirations and new ways of perceiving. Here's one I just received and want to share with you all. -Sherri

Did you know, that you can expect extraordinary miracles to manifest in your life about 2% more often, simply by learning that your thoughts become the things and events of your life?


And that you can expect extraordinary miracles to manifest about 25% more often, when you not only learn this, but you also visualize at least several times a week? 

"Oh, cowabunga." 

But when you understand that "thoughts become things," you visualize,and you begin saying and doing things, every day, that you've never said or done before, the onslaught of serendipities and coincidences are immeasurable. 

"Holy #$%^! I'll have what she's having!" 

Yeah, sounds like it's worth it - 
The Universe

Monday, January 31, 2011

Beware the Snow/Ice Storm

Everyone, repeat after me (because I still have to repeat these things to myself when bad weather is predicted):

1) a snow/ice storm that will last 2-4 days does NOT mean I have to shop Kroger/Marsh/Meijer/Walmart as if doomsday has arrived.  There is no chance of starvation.

2) during a power outage, a snow/ice storm may gang up with my now-full refrigerator and try to convince me that I should eat, eat, eat because there's nothing else to do! Resist listening to their chatter! Find something else to do.

3) a snow/ice storm that knocks out my power and prevents me from watching mindless TV or spending endless time on Facebook ALLOWS me the opportunity to work on my meditation and to appreciate the deafening loudness of silence.

4) a snow/ice storm that prevents me from driving in to work and keeps me homebound (whoo hoo) ALLOWS me the opportunity to do something new and creative with part of my day, and to NOT just fall into the usual routines of cleaning up, snacking, etc. Read a book, draw a picture, peruse recipe books for healthy options, make a snow angel or a snowperson, shovel a neighbor's walkway, watch your kids or dog frolic in the snow, take a nap, paint your toenails, whatever.

5) a snow/ice storm will NOT prevent me from working out my body at home...yes, shoveling counts but watch your back!

6) a snow/ice storm ALLOWS me the opportunity to see and hear the beauty of winter - glistening snow and crystal ice that makes tree branches clatter in the wind.

7) a snow/ice storm gives me reason to look forward to spring!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Headache? Fatigue? Some ideas....

Hey everyone. First of all, congrats to all of you for taking one Week One with purpose and commitment!  Several of you have mentioned fatigue and headaches...yep, but hang in there! The first week of BTWG change can indeed bring on headaches - changes in diet, possible elevation of stress as you try to find your routine, the unease and sometimes guilt that can come with paying attention to your own needs when you usually put yourself at the end of the line, etc.  Chris can possibly give you more specifics, but below are the things I did during BTWG when I felt fatigued or had a headache or was ticked off/fed up. I hope they help. The best news is that as your body acclimates to this new way of eating and drinking and exercising and living and thinking, it will surrender to all the fantastic feelings that accompany a balanced, healthy approach to life. It's just getting past that "addicted" stage - let's face it: detox is what's tough...and your body (and mind) might be balking at the changes in your routine. 

For me, these are the things I did to get through the first couple weeks.

1) Lots of sleep....when we sleep we aren't eating, thinking about eating, noticing our body's aches, stressing over little things, etc. That's the first perk - and then there's just the simple health benefits of resting the body and mind and heart. I tried to slow down my day earlier when I was new to the program...having dinner earlier, doing any final "chores" or prep for the next day earlier, then around 7:30 starting to dim lights, soften music/sound, TV off, face washed/teeth brushed, so when that first sleepy wave arrived I was ready to hit the bed. Also, doing your meditation before bed can be helpful in letting the mind unwind a tad before lying down...and for nights when it's hard to fall asleep, sometimes I'd get out of bed and put my legs up a wall (so your body is in an "L" shape with your back and head on the ground and your legs/heels resting on the wall) and just lie there and listen to my own breath and how much I could slow it down. (Or try staring at darkness - actually trying to see darkness...that one makes me fall asleep within minutes.)

2) Make sure you're getting a variety of foods in your diet as Chris has asked you to...balancing veggies with fruits with lean meats with nuts, etc. I took a multivitamin also and an iron pill on and off since I was reducing my red meat intake. Chris can tell you more about what foods might better combat headaches/fatigue, but I found that if I had a high protein breakfast I seemed to do better. And so, speaking of breakfast, make sure you have a really good one to start your day. Also, maybe adding in a healthy snack (with protein) between meals might help. Even today, I always have a snack of some sort between meals and it really seems to take off "the edge", not to mention I tend to not overeat.

3) Drink water, but not to the point where you are flooding yourself with it. No one needs to be in the bathroom all day, right!  Make sure your headache isn't due to dehydration versus lower calories.

4) Reduce stress wherever you can. Remind yourself not to sweat the tiny the house didn't get cleaned over the you got a birthday card out in the mail late to a second cousin a person at works is really annoying you by not cleaning the microwave after using it.  What I finally had to say to myself and others during BTWG was, "I am going to let some things slide that I normally wouldn't and I am going to let those I love know this will be happening and why. And when I get my wellness back and stable, I will find a way to bring those things I've set aside back into my life - or not. REGARDLESS, I will NOT feel bad about re-prioritizing some of these things behind my own wellness and health." I had to give myself permission to NOT do everything perfectly and to stop trying to do everything period !  Talk about setting yourself up for failure if you don't give yourself permission.
Of course, I didn't realize this until about 1/2 way thru the program and by then I had imposed so much self-stress on myself about succeeding with the program and everything else, that I was very wired! In fact, I took the program so seriously that I stressed about every little darn thing during the first 5 weeks.  I basically let myself be overwhelmed by everything the program was asking of me (key words there: I let myself)...but then when I acknowledged the stress and how much of it was self-induced, and when I finally gave myself permission to back off some things in my life without feeling guilty, I was able to relax a little and to start enjoying the success I was experiencing with BTWG. Enjoying the successes and my progression (even my regressions)  was so much better than simply fulfilling the guidelines of the program and what I needed to turn in, the tangibles that got "graded", etc.

5) SUNSHINE...although it's been cold, we've been lucky to have many sunny days this winter. Get outside in the sun...I swear this makes a huge difference especially if the head is achy or weariness sets in. Something about the cool air in the nose, deep breaths, wind on the face, and the body absorbing all those rays can really help the head clear. It's an attitude thing...and if you are in an office all day, God knows you need to take a break and enjoy some of the great outdoors.

6) Combat headaches and fatigue at work by taking periodic breaks during work to stretch (arms, neck, back) and take some really deep breaths. Don't have time to do this?  Nonsense - get rid of that excuse (one I still battle myself to this day, I admit, and which I acknowledge is nonsense). Work is necessary and can be rewarding, but let's remember that saying: "No one, on the edge of dying and moving on, ever said, 'I should have spent more time at the office.' "   

So there you have it...things that may or may not make a difference as you work through fatigue and headaches and some potential crabbiness. Ride out the Week 1 and 2 waves because there's smoother sailing ahead for you (with some occasional rouge waves sweeping in to make things turbulent again here and there...not going to lie to you).   Take care!

RECIPE - Barley, Carrot and Mushroom Soup

Here's a healthy soup/stew if anyone is interested. I broke down the calories and for a one cup serving it's about 150 calories. To bring the sodium level down, use low sodium chicken broth or use 1/2 chicken broth and 1/2 water.

1 tablespoon butter/margarine
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or olive oil)
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
2 carrots chopped
4-5 cups chicken broth 
1/3 cup pearl barley (rinsed) (NOTE: sounds like a small amount of barley but it puffs up; also barley is a higher calorie grain so don't overindulge with the amount; as for the rinsing of it, I usually skip this because it's a pain in the butt)
1 tablespoon red vinegar
5 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
ground pepper to taste

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt butter with oil. Add mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, and carrots. Saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Add stock, barley, and vinegar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until barley is tender, about 25-30 minutes. Add spinach, salt (optional), and pepper and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

RECIPE - Brown rice, cauliflower, raisin, & cashew salad

Makes 8 servings; 151 calories per serving; 5 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 78 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber.

- 1 medium head cauliflower, cored and split into small florets
- Olive oil for coating florets, plus 1-1/2 tablespoons
- Salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1-1/4 cup unprocessed brown rice (Lundberg Wehani from Whole Foods is suggested and you can also use red rice)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped unroasted, unsalted cashews
- 1/3 cup seedless dark raisins
- 1/3 cup dried apricots, diced
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro (or more)
- ¼ to 1/3 cup coarsely chopped mint (or more)
- Juice of ½ lemon (or more)
- Pepper

Put oven rack on upper level and preheat over to 450 degrees.

In large bowl, toss cauliflower florets with just enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt. Dust florets with cumin and turmeric. Spread on rimmed baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, turning florets once or twice to prevent burning. Let cool.

Make rice according to package directions. Let cool.

In a large bowl combine the florets, rice, cashews, raisins, apricots, cilantro and mint. Add the lemon juice and the remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons of olive oil (optional). Pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Something to look forward to

I am so excited for you because you have something very special to look forward to. Something that will take place without you realizing it, and then when it does hit you upside the head, you will marvel at your good fortune.

It's the friendships that you will make during the 12-week-program. And my dear pal Kelly Rota-Autry reminded me of this yesterday when she shared her new blog address with me. Simple enough, right, all she did was share a blog address?  Reading her new blog reminded me of how much I loved reading her old blog when she and I were BTWG recruits....and it reminded me how our friendship developed over the course of BTWG...first, at the fitness test where my view during the 1-one test run was Kelly's backside as she paced us, later as we analyzed what we shared on our blogs and challenged ourselves to view things differently. The friendship grew stronger during the mid-point of the program as we encouraged one another through unforeseen food, work, family and workout challenges, until it arrived at what it is today - a full-fledged friendship that will last a lifetime, based on acceptance, wellness, respectful candidness, and appreciation of each other's quirks, talents, and opportunities for improvement. Good stuff....all because we signed up to participate in this one little program called BTWG. Ain't life funny bringing together two Jersey girls who ended up in the midwest?

Blog on, people!    (PS - Kelly's new blog address is )

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thinking of you on Day One

I'll be thinking of you all tomorrow on Day One of BTWG. Remember that Day One and the subsequent days are not about deprivation; it's about the wonderful
addition of wellness and balance and health and peace and priority to your life.

So, start flinging open closed doors. Begin peeking into dark corners. Walk up to the edge to get a better view.

And, be sure to pat yourself on the back this week each and every time you are good to yourself! We kick ourselves in the butt so often over food and exercise that it's important you start commending yourself when you treat yourself well.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

RECIPE - Fatoosh Salad

For those who like crunch in their food and want a break from lettuce, here's a simple and delicious salad.

- 1 cup cucumber, diced (I use baby cukes)
- 1 cup tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup onion, diced
- mint leaves diced (or you can use dried mint leaves) - to taste but more is better
- juice of lemon, about 4-5 tablespoons
- 2 tsp of olive oil
- 1 Arnold Select Multigrain bread round or other thin multigrain bread - toasted

Combine veggies and mint. Mix lemon juice and oil and add to veggies. Stir well. Separate bread round into 2 pieces and toast. Cut bread into small pieces. Add to veggies and eat immediately.

RECIPE - Roasted Mushrooms

Clean and trim mushrooms of all varieties you like. Cut larger mushrooms in half, leave smaller ones whole. Toss with olive oil, pepper, and salt.

Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 400-450 degrees for 10-15 minutes, mixing them at least once during the roast. Eat warm or cold. Add to soups, salads, or pasta.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Return to Blogging 1-1/2 Years Later

Amazing ! A year and half has passed since my last blog posting. The adage "Time Flies" has never seemed more true.

So, why back to blogging? The newest class of BTWG participants has gotten me fired up again with the things they are sharing in their blogs -- and they reminded me just how powerful blogging was during my BTWG experience. How friendships were made because of blog topics, how frustration could be channeled into the blog instead of into devouring the contents of the refrigerator. How some people wrote so poetically you yearned, and others wrote with so much humor you giggled like a child, and how other people blogged such raw emotions that you bled alongside of them...but what each person shared in their writings resonated in some way with everyone.

BTWG participants also have me revisiting my own nutrition and exercise and rest and meditation practices - things we all need to keep in tune with regardless of where we find ourselves on the path to wellness.

A chat tonight with a workout friend and BTWG participant made me think of the poem below. It's about self love, about holding communion in honor of your own human holiness, about looking into the mirror and embracing your beauty and value and abilities. It's about rediscovering yourself, and then having compassion toward and appreciation of the person you discover.

Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
by Derek Walcott