P90X Challenge – Preview

P90X Program

I woke up this morning with one thing on my mind….FIND MY P90X DVD’s!! I had made a commitment to myself (and to you) to begin my P90X challenge tomorrow. I had hung up the workout calendar and the program guide on the wall in the exercise room over the weekend. As I was getting everything ready to begin this week I realized my DVD’s were missing. I was frantic. I searched all weekend without any luck.

Yesterday, my husband agreed to help me look for the DVD’s today. We woke up and began searching all the moving boxes that had not been unpacked yet. We searched the garage (every single box), we searched the entire house (old house & new house), and we searched all the DVD cabinets (there are many). Still no P90X DVD’s.

I began to get depressed, thinking that I was not going to be able to begin my challenge tomorrow. After dinner I conducted another sweep of the entire house. Still no P90X DVD’s.

While I was doing my last sweep of the house my youngest son began gathering the family together for our family game night we had promised him last night. He had received the new Kinect (for the XBox 360) for his birthday and wanted us all to play together as a family tonight. I must admit that my heart wasn’t in it. We did have a good time playing but I was still depressed that I had not found my DVD’s.

During a break in the game I turned to my family and pleaded with them to help me find the DVD’s. I asked them if they could search their memories to see where we had put them. Quite a few of us remembered seeing them in the move. I had remembered placing them in a “special” box so they wouldn’t get lost. Where that box was, and what it looked like, I did not know.

Within minutes of asking the question, my 13 year old son said, “Wait. I think I might know where they are.” He took off, ran to the storage room, and came back a couple minutes later with the DVD’s in his hand. When I asked my son where, in the room, he had found them, I was surprised when he told me. I had picked up the same box he described earlier in the day and not seen them. He said they were tucked under another DVD case. I was so relieved I gave him a huge hug and thanked him for finding them.

My husband looked a little saddened at the sight of the DVD’s and said sheepishly, “I was kind of hoping we didn’t find them yet.” He admitted that he was not necessarily looking forward to the 90 Day workout schedule. We all had a good laugh about that.

As I reviewed the schedule I realized that I probably should have begun the program today as each week requires 6 days of working out. Since I have allotted Sunday’s as my rest day that will only allow me 5 days this week. With that in mind, I am going to begin on Day 2 of the first weeks schedule so that the rest of my program will be in sync with the schedule that Tony provides in the book.

For the first 3 weeks of the program I will be doing the following workouts: Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X, Plyometrics, Shoulders & Arms, Yoga X, Legs & Back, & Kenpo X. During week 4 I will be doing: Core Synergistics, Kenpo X, X Stretch & Yoga.

The first 3 weeks are the “Adaptive” phase, where I learn the routines and my body gets used to the workouts. Week 4 is a “Rest” week, however Tony assures us that there is really no “rest” involved. You still get a good workout, just in a different way.

I am probably not in “peak” shape, however I have been walking, running & boxing quite a bit over the past 5 months. I have promised myself to begin slowly and just do the best that I can.

My desire to live a healthier life covers many areas. When it comes to the fitness/exercise area my goal is to become more physically fit. I don’t necessarily have a certain weight or clothing size that I want to be. I just want to be toned and in overall good shape. I believe I will know when I have reached a “good” weight and size as I continue to focus on eating healthy and becoming more active through exercise.

I’m looking forward to beginning the program tomorrow and will provide you with updates along the way. I hope you will join me in this journey and check back often to read about my progress.

Finding Joy In The Companionship Of Friends

As I entered my home, I closed my eyes and breathed in the delicious smell coming from the kitchen. The air was filled with the scent of warm chili and cornbread. One of my friends had dropped by earlier in the day to drop off a crock pot full of warm chili for tonight’s gathering.

My husband and I had decided to invite some friends over for an evening of fun and games, and chili and cornbread were on the menu. As the guests began to arrive, the kitchen soon filled with pots of chili, toppings, cornbread and desserts. The guests all gathered in the kitchen and dining room as we prepared the meal and caught up on the latest happenings in our lives. Many of the guests had not met one another before, so introductions were in order. My husband decided to make the introductions interesting and requested everyone go around the room and state how they knew me. Needless to say, the explanations were rather interesting and filled with lots of laughter.

As the evening progressed we enjoyed a fabulous meal and the conversation was light-hearted and fun. I was grateful to be in our larger home where we had plenty of room for entertaining. I have always been a “people person” and love gathering with my friends. It was difficult for me to choose where to sit as I had so many friends that I wanted to visit with. I managed to spend time at each table conversing with them all.

Soon enough the board games were brought out and the fun began in earnest. Laughter and joking continued throughout the night as we celebrated the joy of friendship. People bounced back and forth between tables as each new game was started. New friendships were developed and old ones strengthened.

As the evening came to a close and people began to pack up to leave, my heart was warm with emotion for all of my dear friends. Each one was special to me in their own way. It brought joy to my heart to see them all together, laughing and smiling, while sharing an evening of fun with my husband and I. No sooner had the last guest left when my husband and I turned to one another and said, “We need to do this again.”

How can you measure the impact of friendship on your life? It is immeasurable. Their love and support are woven into the very fabric of your life as you let them in. You become bound together through love and concern for one another. It is through the power of friendship that we come to recognize our value in the equation. We each draw from one another and give back even more in return.

Spending time with those we love and care about helps to heal our souls in unspoken ways. We find joy in the laughter, peace in the company, and re-fill our souls with strength.

Work to create a healthier life by spending time with those you love and care about. Nurture your current friendships and welcome new ones. We can all help to lift one another and find joy in the companionship of friends.

Don’t wait for someone else to take the first step. Reach out today. Pick up the phone, mail them a card, or invite them over. Everyone can benefit from having a friend.

Sweet and Sour Slow Cooker Flank Steak Recipe

As part of my 2 week test of crock pot recipe’s, this came out as one of our favorites. To read the reviews from my family read my blog post Crock Pot Revolution – Slow Cooked Meals on Trial – Part 1. I’m including this recipe for those of you who would like to try it.

This recipe had A LOT of flavor. It was fabulously delicious. I normally don’t like mushrooms but my husband loves them. I have to admit I loved them in this dish. Very good!!

Sweet and Sour Slow Cooker Flank Steak

Sweet and Sour Slow Cooker Flank Steak

PointsPlus Value: 9

Servings: 8

Preparation Time: 12 min

Cooking Time: 320 min

Level of Difficulty: Easy

This recipe is an effortless way to have a traditional meal ready. Leftovers make juicy steak sandwiches.

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, minced (medium)

9 oz frozen chopped onions, about 2 ½ cups (I use a large fresh onion, chopped)

16 oz canned mushrooms, sliced, well-drained

24 oz chili sauce (I used the Heinz chili sauce, it had a lot of flavor but not too hot)

½ cup fat-free beef broth

2 Tbsp canned tomato paste

¼ cup red wine, dry variety

1 tsp table salt

1 tsp paprika

¼ tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp unpacked brown sugar

3 pounds raw lean flank steak, cut into six equal pieces

Instructions

In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients, except steak. Place steak in a 5-quart slow cooker and pour garlic mixture over top; stir briefly so steak pieces aren’t pressed firmly together.

Cover slow cooker and cook on HIGH heat for 4 hours. Remove steak from slow cooker and let sit for 2 minutes; slice steak on the diagonal against the grain. Arrange steak on a platter and spoon vegetables and gravy on top. Yields about 1 ½ cups of meat, vegetables and gravy per serving.

Note

This recipe is excellent served with roasted fingerling potatoes. Precook them and then just reheat before serving.

This is a Weight Watchers Recipe.

Three Bean and Pork Slow Cooker Chili Recipe

We tried this recipe during week two of my Crock Pot Revolution – Slow Cooked Meals on Trial – Part 2 blog. My family, and friends, loved this recipe. It makes a lot (enough for 10). It is VERY flavorful and delicious! It is one of our favorites. I’ve had quite a few people request the recipe so I thought I’d post it here, on my blog. Enjoy!

Three Bean & Pork Chili

Three Bean and Pork Slow Cooker Chili

PointsPlus Value: 6

Servings: 10

Preparation Time: 35 min

Cooking Time: 480 min

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Chunks of pork tenderloin make this chili especially robust. Spicy peppers add even more flavor.

Ingredients

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (medium)

1 cup carrots, chopped

1 Tbsp chili powder, medium-hot

1 tsp dried oregano, crushed

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded, chopped (don’t touch seeds with bare hands) or 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped

½ tsp table salt

½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground

2 pounds lean pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch chunks

15 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed

15 oz canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed

15 oz canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup canned tomato puree

29 oz canned diced tomatoes, with green pepper, celery and onion, undrained

6 oz canned tomato paste

Instructions

Combine onion, garlic, carrots, chili powder, oregano, jalapeno, salt and pepper in a 5-quart (or larger) slow cooker; stir. Add remaining ingredients; stir again.

Cover and cook on HIGH setting for 6 to 8 hours. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

Notes

We start cooking the chili at a HIGH setting so the ingredients quickly reach a safe temperature. You can reduce the heat to low after 3 to 4 hours, if you prefer.

* This is a Weight Watchers Recipe.

Old Fashioned Slow Cooker Veal Stew Recipe

We tried this recipe during week two of our trial of crock pot recipes. See my Crock Pot Revolution – Slow Cooked Meals on Trial – Part 2 blog post for more reviews. The recipe is AMAZING! My family loved it. It was very hearty, flavorful and filling. The meat literally melted in your mouth. I will be making this one a lot! My FAVORITE recipe so far. My husbands comment was, “EXCELLENT!” I’m including this recipe for those of you who would like to try it yourself.

I did make a few small changes to the recipe when I made it, see my comments at the end of the recipe to find out how.

Old Fashioned Slow Cooker Veal Stew

Old Fashioned Slow-Cooker Veal Stew

PointsPlus Value: 5

Servings: 4

Preparation Time: 25 min

Cooking Time: 420 min

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

This Italian-inspired specialty might be slightly heavy on the prep work but the “light,” delicious dish that results is worth it.

Ingredients

1 spray cooking spray

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

½ tsp table salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1 pound veal shoulder, roast, cubed

20 medium baby carrots

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (medium)

1/8 tsp ground sage, or more to taste, or 1 tsp fresh chopped sage

¼ tsp dried oregano, crushed

½ cup canned beef broth

14 ½ oz canned diced tomatoes

Instructions

Coat a 12-inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray

Combine flour, salt and pepper on a plate; dust veal with flour mixture. Brown veal in skillet, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.

Place carrots in a 4-5 quart slow cooker. Place veal over carrots.

Coat skillet with additional cooking spray. Add onion and garlic and saute’ over medium heat for 5 minutes; add to slow cooker. Add sage and oregano to slow cooker.

Pour beef broth into skillet and scrape up any browned bits; add broth to slow cooker. Add undrained tomatoes to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours. Yields about 1 ½ cups per serving.

* When I made this recipe I did not have any sage so I used rosemary instead. I could not find veal so I used a high quality stew meat. I also added a few more carrots (my family loves them). It was PERFECT and VERY DELICIOUS. My entire family loved it!! My only regret was that I didn’t double the recipe. We really wanted leftovers for the next day. Next time I will definitely double it so we can have some for lunch the next day.

* This is a Weight Watchers Recipe.

Birthday Cake For Breakfast? Really?

As I opened my eyes this morning, and rolled over to look at the clock, I thought to myself, “10 more minutes”. That’s how much longer I had until the music would begin playing to wake me up. I closed my eyes and faded off to sleep. When the music finally began to play, I reached over and hit the “snooze” button. “Just a few more minutes,” I thought to myself.

I stayed up late the night before and I was tired. When the alarm went off again, and the music began to play, I reluctantly threw back the covers and sat up. I could not afford to hit the snooze button again. I had to get up.

As I entered the kitchen, and turned on the lights, I saw the leftover birthday cake on the counter. My son had turned eight yesterday and we had celebrated the evening the way he requested. Hot dogs, chips, fruit & pop for dinner, with cake and ice cream for dessert. Not necessarily on my “healthy eating” menu, but it was his day and that was what he wanted. We had spent the evening celebrating his birthday. He was thrilled with his presents and happy to have hot dogs for dinner (it had been a very long time since they had made an appearance at our table).

I walked past the birthday cake three or four times before stopping to look at it. It did look good. I had indulged myself the night before with a small slice and remembered the sweetness this morning. “Should I have a bite?” I walked away and decided to check my email while I was waiting for my older son to get ready. He soon came down and asked if he could check his Facebook account before heading off to school.

I walked back to the kitchen and stood by the cake again. My stomach was growling and I knew I only had a couple minutes before I had to jump in the car and drive my son to school. I opened the drawer and took out a fork. The first bite was heavenly and I savored the taste. By the time I was putting the 4th bite in my mouth, I began to feel the “gag” reflex in my throat activate. It appeared my stomach was not ready for that much sugar first thing in the morning. I put down the fork and walked to the table. I reached for the platter of fruit in the middle and grabbed a banana. It would have to do for now.

I know my first choice, the birthday cake, was not a healthy decision. So why did I do it? Why did I succumb instead of walking away? I did so because it was there, and I was hungry. I did not have a lot of time, it looked delicious, and it was quick and easy. After I had eaten those four bites, I was tempted to throw the rest of the cake in the garbage can, just to get rid of the temptation. If I did so, I knew my son would be sad when he returned from school. It was his cake and I knew he would want another piece.

It can be difficult to eat healthy all the time, especially when there are children in the home. Birthdays and holidays can also be difficult. Yesterday, my Weight Watchers leader talked about indulging ourselves. She actually encouraged it. She said, “Sometimes you need to allow yourself a small indulgence”. The critical part was to make sure we accounted for it and put it on our tracker. By allowing ourselves to participate in the celebrations, or just treating ourselves now and then, life will be much more enjoyable.

I didn’t beat myself up over the cake this morning. Four bites wasn’t going to kill me, or my desire to eat healthy. I got back on track and finished my breakfast with a bowl of oatmeal & Craisins. It provided some sweetness without being overwhelming.

I think the difference I see in my life now is that I am “aware” of everything I put in my mouth. I pay attention to the signals my body gives me. As you begin to make better choices with food, your body adjusts and lets you know when you begin to stray from that path. I believe our bodies want proper nutrition. In fact, they NEED it. When we make better choices and eat healthier, we feel better and have more energy to achieve more.

Take baby steps in the beginning. Start by just adding more fruit and vegetables in your diet. Start tracking what you eat. It helps to make you more aware of what you are putting in your mouth. That alone may help you to make better choices. Start small. Eventually it will become easier. Doing something is better than doing nothing, so remember that every time you make a healthier choice, it is a step in the right direction.

Love Deeply, Laugh Often & Nourish Friendships

It was early in the morning and everyone was asleep. As I lay in bed, I could hear the steady breathing of my husband as he slept peacefully next to me, unaware that I had been awake all night. The sound of the ceiling fan was almost mesmerizing, with its gentle purring, as it kept us cool. My pillow was wet from the tears that had been falling from my eyes for the past few hours. As I cried, silently, I wondered to myself, “What’s wrong with me?”

I had a flourishing business, a wonderful family, and a beautiful home. “Why was I so unhappy?” The question had plagued my thoughts for months. I had struggled to understand why, when everything seemed so perfect, I was so unhappy.

Our minds are powerful tools and mine had been working on “overdrive” for a long time. I could feel a “crash” coming on and was unsure of what that meant, and I was not sure I wanted to wait to find out. I knew I had to do something. What that was, I did not know. Or…maybe I did.

Fear vs. Faith. Which option do we choose? Life is a constant series of choices. Sometimes, we make choices based upon our fears, and other times we make them based upon our faith. The result of our choices can impact our lives for years to come, depending on which path we choose.

I asked my mom once, if she were to give me one word that described me, what would it be. She thought for a moment, and then said, “Survivor”. I was surprised by her word choice, but as I let it sink in I thought, “She’s right”. I have endured many trials in my life, some more difficult than others. I am not unique. We all have our own set of trials to go through in this journey we call Life. We are all survivors in a way.

As I lay in bed, my pillow wet with tears, I realized something that had not occurred to me before. I had built a wall around my heart. Some of the trials I had endured in my life, prior to meeting my husband, had caused a great deal of pain for me. I had learned to be tough, not in the physical sense, but in the emotional sense. I had learned a long time ago to protect my heart.

I was a fighter and a survivor, and I had worked hard to help provide a happy home for my family. Inside, however, I was falling apart. I knew I had to make changes, preferably sooner, rather than later. I finally gained the courage to REALLY open up and discuss what was in my heart, and on my mind, with my husband. It was not an easy thing for me. What followed was a miraculous journey of healing.

My husband had always been there, willing to listen when I needed it. That was not the problem. The problem was that I had been unwilling to open my heart 100% and REALLY tell him what was going on in my heart and my mind. It was as if someone had finally opened the floodgates. I’m not sure he was fully prepared for all that ensued, but he was extremely patient and kind as we figured things out together.

The years that have followed since have been truly amazing. I have learned to love deeper than ever before. I have learned to truly open my heart and ALLOW myself to be loved 100%. I have learned to laugh harder and more often. I have taken the time to nourish all of my relationships, not just with family, but with friends as well.

What I have discovered is this: You must learn to open your heart and not only LOVE, but also allow yourself to BE LOVED. You must look for the joy in life and seek for opportunities to LAUGH. Laugh hard, and laugh often. Finally, you must seek to develop friendships with others. Take the time to nourish those friendships and really invest your time and energy into them. You will be rewarded greatly for your efforts, and you will find more happiness and joy than you ever thought possible.

Remember, YOU are in charge of your life. Start with yourself. Figure it out. Stop blaming others for how you feel. We can all improve. Begin today. Begin with YOU.

Living a healthy life includes all aspects of your life, not just exercise and proper eating. It involves digging deeper, sometimes much deeper. You must first understand and accept yourself. That includes being honest, REALLY honest with yourself. When faced with a choice, ask this question, “Am I acting out of fear, or faith?” Then choose wisely the course you will take.

Sometimes, we are faced with trials that have nothing to do with our choices. They may have to do with another’s choice, or for some unexplained purpose. What we CAN do, is choose HOW to deal with that trial. THAT CHOICE is always ours. How will you choose? What will you do?