I’m on day one of week six with yoga. I ventured into an hour session rather than my thirty-minute one on Monday. My body is quite mad at me still and it hurts to laugh. I’m thinking this is a good thing as I’m honing in on all the right areas I want to work on. I also recognize the names of poses now and can follow without straining my neck to see the television. I’ve started following a beginner’s yoga group, as well as reading Yoga Journal. The group and articles help as they remind me that this is an individual type of exercise and progress is measured only by YOU. I also have the advantage of reaching out to my best friend who is a certified yoga instructor for guidance and reassurance. I’m feeling committed—in a good way.
The “livet” is going well, too. All of the meals I’m preparing are healthy, without any sense of restricting what I’m craving. I’m still only down ten pounds, but I know the inches are coming off by the way things fit. I knew I was saving all those clothes in the back of the closet for a good reason! I’ve been using the MyNetDiary app to keep track of my daily calories and exercise, not to mention my water intake. It’s not an exact science, but it helps put things in perspective these past three weeks. Portion sizes are reduced, however I’m enjoying everything I put together. It does give me a grade on my choices, making me the honor student I strive to be. Some of my choices are C-average, but I disagree with the notion that the turkey meatballs I make are anywhere near average. I got a D on my grass-fed ground beef hamburger—an absolute A in my book. So, the app has flaws (not really)—but, don’t we all.
The large spike in the above diagram is the day we ventured out for meals and went a bit “crazy.” I devoured half of a blackened shrimp wrap and half a burger for lunch. For dinner, we had some pineapple fried rice with a side of Shrimp Pad Thai. Although I got and A and B as grades, my body decided to hang on to the 175-ish grams of carbs I ate. The next spike was also due to going out for lunch. It's a bit challenging counting the calories, unless the restaurant posts them on the menu. I do venture to ask about the nutrition numbers, but always feel like one of those people I normally roll my eyes about.
Today marks the end of our three week kidless staycation (we don’t really count the older one as he’s always at work). Our two teenagers arrive at midnight tonight from Texas and will no doubt sleep most of the day away tomorrow. We didn’t do as much as we would have liked while they were gone—a trip to Jamaica, long-road trips, and beach days—but, it was so very pleasant. There was no anxiety, frustration, or influx of whining—from us or them. The house stayed clean and there was always food in the fridge. I’m sure they will be relieved to be home and we did miss them—mostly. We will consider it a good recharge and hope for the best. The youngest starts high school in twelve days, so we just have to all get along until then.
With eight days of Yoga behind me, I think I have officially started a routine. This includes both exercise and eating healthier. I have always despised dieting as it means to do without—in my mind. I don't mean healthy in the sense of brown rice and no bread. I mean healthy in the sense of fewer calories by measuring (okay yes, sometimes eyeballing) the portions. This also means choosing wisely what I decided to eat.
Although I never thought I’d ever do this, I am going to quote Kanye West. I honestly don’t know if he came up with it—I just heard him say it during an interview with David Letterman. Rather than a diet, I am now on a “livet."
I like the idea of the word as eating healthy and exercise helps you do just that—live. I’m learning that I can keep the calories down and still enjoy the foods I want. I don’t know how it is for you, but conditioning my mind to enjoy what I eat has been easier than I thought. Maybe because I was ready for it, I don’t know. My weakness is Mexican food and it’s pretty much a staple in our home. Quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas—essentially anything that I can wrap a tortilla around. Chips and salsa? Yea, I’m all about that. I did something remarkable the other day. I counted out the exact number of tortilla chips for a serving size to go with a homemade avocado dip. Did I eat just those? No. However, the three extra chips I added were enough and didn’t break me. I am a bottomless pit when it comes to tortilla chips with salsa, guacamole, or queso. I don’t get full. I simply run out of chips. That day, I was satisfied with the portion I served and honestly felt good about myself.
Today’s lunch was Poblano Chicken Quesadillas that teetered on 250 calories. I got the recipe from Cooking Light’s website and made it my own. I eliminated the mushrooms as I am not that trendy. And, I don’t poach chicken—ever! I lightly seasoned the chicken, pan-frying it in a little olive oil. Using one of those handy calorie calculator websites, I got lower than the original recipe’s calorie count. Mostly because I wasn’t cooking for six people and needed far fewer ingredients, including cheese. For those of you who enjoy cooking, you learn what ingredients work together as you hone your culinary skills. You also learn what doesn’t work, like mushrooms in a quesadilla.
My goals are set small now, making success feel more attainable. I’ve become friends with the bathroom scale after many years of bitter fighting. I simply ignored it as the scale never had anything nice to say. Now, I look forward to our morning conversations.
We had a fantastic weekend! I’m almost ashamed to write that. Partly because the kids are away visiting their grandparents. All parents need a break sometimes—and this was ours. We slept late, not caring what time it was when our eyes opened. There were no commitments or deadlines to meet. We just flew by the seat of our pants. That is a fabulous feeling. The weekend was ours for the taking; and we took it.
We decided a road trip was on the agenda for Saturday and headed to St. Petersburg. We wanted to do two things, visit an old bookstore, and go to the beach. Our first stop at Lighthouse Books offered us exactly what we were looking for: Ernest Hemingway for him and Edith Wharton for me. This bookstore is unassuming and has been around forty-years. Without the sign in the front, you would assume it was just another house on the block. Inside, the rooms were lined with shelves and every inch of real estate was occupied with books. We stopped at another book store down the street, but it was more like a discount Barnes & Noble. It lacked the charm of Lighthouse and had more new books than old. We decided to head toward the beach for part-two of our journey and stopped at Sloppy Joe’s in Treasure Island for a bite to eat. The bonus—we were dining beachfront at a restaurant whose namesake was inspired by Ernest Hemingway (we embrace our nerdiness.) We sat on the open deck, sipping cocktails and devouring our lunch as the ocean breeze blew, listening to the seagulls cawed, and feeling the sun tanning our skin. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
With full bellies, we drove down the coast through St. Pete Beach. Just past The Don CeSar hotel and all its salmon-colored grandeur, we found a great spot on Pass-A-Grille beach. As our toes touched the sand, that peaceful feeling one finds when near the ocean, swept over us. We love the beach and try to be relaxing on one whenever we can. There was a wedding that had just taken place just past the entrance. We were amazed how anyone would want to have a beach wedding in the heat of a July afternoon, but understand the sensation of vowing to love one another where the land meets the sea. But I must say though, it must be hard to keep your wedding-do upright if your head is melting.
As we threw off our shoes, we were surprised that despite the 95 degree weather, the sand wasn’t at all hot under our feet. Amazingly, and what a lot of people don’t realize, St. Pete beaches are covered with white sand and a deep teal-colored ocean. It’s assumed the Gulf beaches aren’t as beautiful as they are on the Atlantic. They are… so, go! We decided to walk along the shore, talking about anything and everything, laughing along the way. The water was warm, yet inviting, ironically cooling us down. The waves were minimal at best and the water simply disappeared into the horizon. There were people swimming, fishing, building sandcastles, parasailing, and some were just relaxing as they soaked up the sun. We were compelled to take several photos, but Michael is the real photographer—crouching down to catch shots of the tiny waves, making them look large enough to surf on. It’s a gift.
We decided to head back to Orlando not too long after our jaunt on the beach as the heat of the day had taken a toll on our enthusiasm. We already had a list of places to explore on our next trip out to St. Pete and can’t wait. Our road trips offer great conversations, sing-alongs, and opportunities to stop for snacks. This one was no exception, both coming and going. We usually pick a couple of things we don’t normally have and probably haven’t eaten in years—items like Slim Jims, spicy pork skins, and, of course, Icees. Not the diet of champions, but hey, it’s a tradition now. This one provided Boston Baked Beans Candied Peanuts. If you haven’t had tried them, or had them since you were a kid, you must indulge! The peanuts are coated with a rich crunchy shell that is essentially pure sugar. After about three, I was done as the nostalgia was more satisfying than the sugar rush. How I ate a whole bag as a kid is beyond me.
Sunday was a bit lazier, but we took care of our grocery shopping. That may not sound at all fun, but with us two clowns it’s sure to be a blast. We headed to Freshfields Farm to load up on fresh fruits and veggies. This is how we go crazy when the kids are away--fill the dinner table with vegetables they’re unlikely to touch. Michael had never been and it’s been years since I shopped there. I offer no excuses. There are two separate stores within: one laden with farm-fresh vegetables and fruits, and the other is stocked with meat, poultry, and seafood. Our inner chef was inspired the moment we walked through the door, overwhelmed with the rich colors each display was filled with. We were like kids in a candy store (go with me on this.) We picked up the greenest of veggies like beans, and peas. We grabbed brightly colored fruits, like red tomatoes, yellow bananas, and purple grapes. Our basket was filled with pretty much every color of a rainbow and included a dragon fruit. Not a clue what it taste like, but anything with dragon in the name has to be good. We bought a couple of logoed burlap grocery bags to haul our loot, feeling satisfied with purchases considering a lot comes fresh from local farms, and the fact we were being so eco-friendly.
Walking into the other store was a different experience as it was bright with white displays filled with a variety of meats. Every cut of steak you can imagine and then some can be found here. They also have a butcher in the back to offer fresh cuts of meat, in addition to deli selections sliced to your preference. We had a craving for filet mignon, but they had already sold out—which was not surprising given the constant flow of customers. We decided on some Alaskan sockeye salmon that looked like it was caught fresh that morning, and a package of chicken breasts that is sure to last us a month. The amazing thing is that everything costs less than the regular grocery store and no doubt fresher.
We ended up at the regular grocery store as well to pick up all the other items we needed that Freshfields Farm didn’t sell. We skipped the processed and frozen foods given our new-found health kick (road trip snacks don’t count). Together, we’ve already planned the meals this week. It felt good to fill up the fridge with all that we purchased, but had to work it like Tetris to get everything in. I immediately went to work on dinner and had a renewed excitement about cooking. I pan-seared the salmon in olive oil, steamed the green beans, and sliced up the yellow and red tomatoes with some red onion to make a salad. I used a limes and some cilantro in the rice, which accompanied the salmon perfectly. There’s something to be said about fresh ingredients as everything was absolutely delicious. Of course, the chef has a lot to do with it.
Needless to say, we are making plans our final childless weekend and very much looking forward to it. With Orlando perfectly centered in Florida, it offers a smooth segue to everything we want to do. We traveled to the West coast in about two hours, passing and very close to all sorts of hot spots we are planning to visit. Next weekend is the East coast, Palm Beach specifically. Yes, there’s a beach and yes, we are going to a particular antiquarian book store. But, that’s what we love! I know we’ll see other sights, dine in some local restaurants, and stop for artery-clogging junk food along the way. That’s what makes it so special! I do love living in the heart of Florida. Even in Orlando we find new things to do around every corner—it’s not all just theme parks. I will say, Michael and I do have annual passes to Disney, but we’ve gone to several museums and parks, shopped at local businesses, dined a variety of restaurants, attended shows at Plaza LIVE, and much more. There’s always something to do, with or without three teenagers in tow. And believe me, it’s definitely like you’re dragging them sometimes.
I am a woman-child at heart; continuously evolving to find my place in life. I am a mother, a daughter, and a sister. I am a lover and a dreamer--an explorer and a traveler. But it's my passion for writing that allows me to explore my ingenuity. This is something that undoubtedly carries over to the many roles that make up the ever evolving woman I am.