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Urban Gardening Tips Needed!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I would love to grow my own vegetables. Alas, I am a creature of the city with an apartment with very little backyard space that is exposed to the sun.

I've been so inspired (and jealous) of people and their spring gardening plans that I've decided I want to do some window box planting. Even to have some fresh herbs, which are expensive to buy at the stores, would be terrific! Fresh basil, thyme and oregano would be excellent additions to have at my fingertips!

So if any aspiring Bob Villas have any suggestions how to accomplish this without actually drilling into the siding of the house, I would love to hear them! We can drill in the walls, but I wouldn't want to drill an outdoor hole given the risk of exposing the property to weather damage.

Thanks in advance for your ideas!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MANI929 3/31/2010 12:24PM

    If you have room for a kids' swimming pool, you can grow a fair amount of veggies. Get a kiddie pool that is at least 24 inches tall (taller is better as it gives the roots more room). Fill with soil and some good compost to about 6" from the top of the pool. Drill holes in the side of the pool about 1" from the bottom, every 8-12" for drainage. Now you can plant as many veggies as will fit. Check out companion planting to get the most out of your garden. This is a good website: http://www.companionplanting.net>
I like to do a circular garden. In the center I put a trellis for pole beans. Around that, I plant tomatoes. Around the tomatoes go onions, then around the outer edge I do carrots. You can also sow radishes in the same row as carrots as they will be ready for harvest just as the carrots are starting to come up, so you get two crops for the space of one.
You could plant in wedge shaped segments, or really in any configuration you want. Plant some marigolds in there for some happy color and as a natural pest deterent.
If you don't have room for the pool, 5 gallon buckets make great (and cheap) containers for planting, just be sure to drill drainage holes an inch or two from the bottom, about 6-8" apart. The advantage of the smaller containers is that you can move them around to follow the sun. Tomatoes and basil do well together in buckets (1 tomato plant in the center, basil planted around it), carrots do great, as do yellow crook-neck squash and bush-type cucumbers. Before we bought our house, we lived in an apartment with a concrete pad and a tiny 18"x7' flower bed. With the pool & 5 gallon buckets, I grew enough for my family of 3 to eat lots of fresh veg, plus share with friends and put some up for the winter. Have fun!

Comment edited on: 3/31/2010 12:30:31 PM

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LALAFLOWERS 3/29/2010 8:31AM

    Have fun with this!!!

Couple of tips:
'square foot gardening' - book that talks about how to grow in square foot spaces.
'topsy turvy' - a planter that you can grow tomatoes in. As long as you get 4+ hours of sun in your front 'yard' you can grow tomatoes (and peppers, strawberries, cucumbers, etc.. ) things that are longer. You just hang the thing, and water once or twice a day, depending on the temps.

check out www.gardeners.com they have fabric bags that will let you grow most anything in containers.

Herbs are easy!! my rosemary turned into a shrub, and i used it in flower arrangements tooo... smelled divine!

See if you can find a place you can snag a plot.... often you can rent the dirt for the summer.

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ELISADEL 3/28/2010 12:42AM

    I wouldn't recommend making mint a plant that you put in the ground. It has a tendency to go crazy if given a chance. It's a very aggressive plant that will do its best to push everything else out and take up all the space. Most of the time when people plant it, they plant an entire pot in the ground to try to contain its roots, but if you're going to have a lot of plants in pots and just a couple in the ground, I'd keep the mint in a pot and let something else have the ground space.

Also, you might want to consider getting one of those soil test kits from a home improvement store or a gardening department, so you have an idea of what kind of plants are likely to find the outdoor soil agreeable.

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 3/27/2010 6:42PM

    If you can hang baskets from the eaves with screw in hooks you can do strawberries and herbs from hanging baskets. Some tomato varieties come in dwarfs versions that do great in pots. Cherry and grape tomatoes do well in pots ,but there are some bigger varieties too. If you have a larger pot with a wooden trellis you can do beans and peas. Also some beans and peas come in "bush" variety which means they can do well without a trellis. We have a miniscule backyard and a dog, my husband is outside right now moving a section of fence so the dog and the "garden" will be seperate. I met a guy at the farmer's market selling herb plants. Check out a farmer's market and this time of year you might find someone doing the same thing. They can give you the best tips for your region and growing season.

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1BIGDREAM 3/26/2010 9:02PM

    Have you considered an Aerogarden? (www.aerogardenstore.com) I love mine! I tried doing herbs in boxes, but I didn't have much success growing them outside and it's easier to have the herbs right in my kitchen ready to be snipped when I need them! It's fun to watch them grow. A bit pricier than window gardening, but I've enjoyed mine!

Either way you do it, the fresh herbs are so worth it! Enjoy!

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WISLNDR 3/26/2010 2:17PM

    I have grown many herbs in containers and as long as they get good light and water they're fine. It's a fun way to experiment!

Last year, I grew green peppers and cherry tomatoes in containers. No better taste in the world than vegetables you just got off the plant!!


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ONLY_AS_HIGH 3/26/2010 10:57AM

    I also just had a new thought - chocolate mint! Definitely plant a little bit of that stuff. Smells delicious!

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KARVY09 3/26/2010 10:50AM

    Thanks so much for the tips. We have weird windows. They're not flat and with no sills, so I'm thinking it might not work, even with that great hook idea. I think container gardening might be the best option. We've got a little patch of dirt out front which might be good for some mint and basil and I can use some little pots for the rest.

I'm excited for this project though! Thanks everyone for all your suggestions! You rock!

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ABETTERBECKY 3/25/2010 9:39PM

    My advice - FWIW - basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano are all SUPER EASY to grow and have longevity. Cilantro and dill go to seed very quickly and I've all but given up on them. You can buy the plants (probably the best idea if you aren't a big gardener) or sow from seed. SUN SUN SUN and keep them moist - pots like to dry out quickly. Enjoy - so yummy and so nice to have right at your finger tips. OH - also - mint for tea in the summer (and mohitos!!!!) - in it's own pot!

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TNDIXON76 3/25/2010 5:26PM

    I'm in almost the same predicament. We moved last year and my yard is heavily shaded. I use an Aerogarden indoors for herbs but I'd love to do a small veggie garden. Gonna give container gardening a try but due to the heavy shade I'm not expecting much. Please keep us all posted on what you come up with.

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ONLY1TAN 3/25/2010 4:11PM

    There is a book out there, I can't remember the title, but my friend's fiance just bought it for her so I will get you that title as soon as I can! It looked like a great book and she is moving to Chicago so she will need it!

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TKLPICKLE 3/25/2010 4:10PM

    Make sure to post pics when you've got it figured out! Sounds like a great project! We moved in to our house last September, so this spring I have a LOT of landscaping to play around with! Kind of overwhelming actually.

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LOVE_IS_LOUDER 3/25/2010 3:57PM

    You could go with an Aerogarden! They're a little expensive, and take some counterspace but from what I understand, you can grow herbs, etc indoors year-round. Store here: http://www.aerogardenstore.com.

Also, try googling "indoor herb growing" and you'll get a ton of great sites with good ideas, DIY stuff, etc. Have fun and good luck!! :o)

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MANDAO97 3/25/2010 3:29PM

    Have fun coming up wiht a creative solution! I bet some of the herbs you could grow in containers completely inside. I have a small yard now after years of not having one but I have yet to attemt any type of garden. I may go with a container garden myself if I try anything.

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ONLY_AS_HIGH 3/25/2010 3:15PM

    I don't have any advice, because I just started my own this year so have no idea how it will turn out, but GOOD LUCK!!!!

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STEPHANON 3/25/2010 3:14PM

    I've been thinking about this myself! I have an apartment with NO outdoor space, and I was thinking of doing some herbs in containers. You've gotten some good advice here - I'll be referring back to this blog!

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NIKLOW 3/25/2010 2:47PM

    giftsthatbloom.com - sell 'blooms in a can' - organic & gourmet herbs.

"Each self-contained window garden contains the herb seeds, organic enriched growing mix plus nutrients and a leak proof container, all you need to do is add water and sunshine."

4 cans for $15.80

Probably cheaper to have a DIY project, but this is an option for people who don't have a lot of space/time...

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JAZZIBABY 3/25/2010 2:40PM

  I just started a container garden, and one of the things I found out was that if you get those hanging baskets with the coconut stuff in them, fill it with dirt, cut an x at the bottom, and plant tomatoes in the bottom, herbs in the top and hang it outside.

You can safely drill holes in the walls, but once you have the box (or hooks) in place, get a little caulking and put around the edges of the brakets (or hooks) and there is instant waterproofing. This will keep moisture out of walls and ceilings. And when you move, and want to take the stuff with you, just fill the holes in the walls or ceiling with a bit more caulking and paint over them when dry. That will make sure that it stays weather-proofed after you are gone.

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KLONG8 3/25/2010 2:37PM

    I'm so excited for you and the advice being given will work. Herbs are so easy to grow and it's great to just go & take a pinch from your own little garden or pot when you need a bit of oregano or rosemary. I am fighting my urge to get going but know better than to rush the season. It just keeps snowing here. So I'll try to be a little patient, hold off a while, & then buy small plants to work in our relatively short growing period. Have fun!

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SAHMWICH 3/25/2010 2:23PM

    wish I could draw you a pic- but I have a design in my brain that goes something like this: imagine a window box with large hooks that are flat, bend up and over the windowsill and come into the house. (imagine one of those over the door towel hooks for the bathroom- kind of like that). That would only work for a window that slides up and down though.

For herbs- if you have a window with a sill, you can just plant them in little pots and grow them inside. another great idea is putting them in a hanging basket. If you have a large enough space outdoors, you could buy a big pot and plant them in there.

Good luck! The time to plant is NOW!

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SUSIEMILO 3/25/2010 2:22PM

    Containter Gardening is the way to go for you my girl!
They are fun, easy, portable, and can come back indoors (if you like) at the end of the summer growing season.
And the containers can be anything and everything. It's fun to find cool things that you normally wouldn't think of as holding a plant! (a boot, a wagon, a basket, an old food tin, etc.)
Containers also give you the flexibility to separate the various plants by their soil needs, watering needs, and sunlight needs. This pot over here in the sun, that one over there in partial sun, this one with sandy soil, etc.
AND, you'll be able to start seeds in them now (if you're going that route vs. buying established plants)and they will sprout by the time it's time to put them outdoors.
The main thing: Have fun with it, and don't worry about doing something wrong. Plants are sturdier than they seem, and sometimes even when they have been abused and we think they are dead -- they come back to normal with the proper care. (and then there's always the option of just replacing the plant!)
Have fun, enjoy, and put some flowers in there among the herbs/vegetables. It makes you smile when you're caring for them.

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    We have a smaller lanai and of course it gets very little sun so I was worried about that. But I've done a window box-esque container for 5 years and it's worked fine despite the lack of sun. I usually plant chives, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme and then I plant the basil in a separate small round container because it (along with mint) has a habit of taking over. Don't know if that was any help or not. Have fun!

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An "I Don't Want to Go to the Gym" Day

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Yeah, it's one of those dreaded "I don't want to go to the gym" days. It's gloomy out and windy and back to feeling like winter after last week's string of beautiful days bordering on summer.

And out come the excuses...

"I'll work extra hard tomorrow to make up for it!"

"I'll eat a really small dinner."

"You did 45 minutes of slow walking today. That's better than a pure rest day!"

"I can do biceps curls during Survivor. That'll make up for it, right?"

Today is Week 3, Day 2 of 10K training and I really don't want to go and pound it out on the treadmill, even if I can watch some drivel like The Real World or the Millionaire Matchmaker while I'm doing it. Part of me is happy that I can finally own the term "dreadmill." It makes me feel like a real runner. I started running on the treadmill because I was reluctant and afraid and running outside was too scary and hard. Now I'd rather be outside with the sun on my face and my feet actually taking me somewhere... like last week.

Well, it's not last week. Aside from the miserable weather, this week is Restaurant Week, which has meant a couple of heavier lunches for business and pleasure. So I've got to work it big time if I want to see results. I went back and read YOOVIE's blog that everyone should read when they are tempted to skip the gym: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo

Go read it now if you are thinking about skipping your workout tonight. I can't really say anything better than that.

Like YOOVIE says, I want to be jealous of the person I will be one month from now. That person will be in ONEDERLAND, completely out of plus sizes and well on her way to that 10K. She'll be lighter and happier! If I brave the dreadmill, I will be in much better shape to pound the pavement when the weather gets better next month.

So I'm outta here. 5K before couch.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHE_SMILES 6/1/2010 3:04PM

    Thanks for the link to Yoovie's page!

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YOOVIE 3/29/2010 1:31AM

    WOOHOO! Good job putting your excuses down on paper, that always helps me put things in perspective too!

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BETT2U 3/27/2010 6:39PM

    Wow! Thanks so much for writing this. Last week, especially Friday was total yuck of a day. Felt like it could snow. I love walking and learning to run outside. It definitely requires more energy to do it outside but rewards you with more sights / smells / oxygen, etc. I know that you will be in onederland soon. I hope to join you in a month or two.

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GONE2THEDOGS 3/26/2010 11:31AM

    emoticon emoticon

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CUPPY42 3/25/2010 2:55PM

    I actually got to the gym yesterday... and discovered I had no socks!! And the nearest pair was 25 minutes away and the gym closed in 45! Grr! But I managed to actually make it this morning before work... thanks to an encouraging text from a friend... and I got laundry done yesterday in lieu of the gym. :)

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TKLPICKLE 3/25/2010 11:41AM

    YES!! Way to go, I skipped my Tuesday run, and haven't made up for it yet :( Maybe after readin YOOVIE's blog I will!

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TIME4AFITME 3/25/2010 10:46AM

    Hope you had a great workout. Good blog!

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TRABOLD8567 3/25/2010 7:35AM

  emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TEAM-SARAH 3/25/2010 12:15AM

    I am with you on the treadmill thing. When I first started it was comfortable and I could see exactly how much I was doing on a display. Running outside felt SO SO hard at first. Now I feel like it's easier... I'm not so damn bored. I just get in the zone with it and it's so amazing. the treadmill gives me no pleasure haha. Gotta suck it up sometimes though, so good for you woman

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ASIAMORA 3/24/2010 11:55PM

    Good job overcoming the desire to not go to the gym.

I too also feel the term dreadmill is appropriate. It has to be really nasty out before I won't don the winter gear and run outside. Luckily my YMCA has an indoor 1/8 mile track that is better then the treadmill too.

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GREEKSPARK 3/24/2010 11:32PM

  that's a great blog! just bookmarked it! you go girl!

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PINKCOCONUT 3/24/2010 11:30PM

    Awesome! I'm sure you feel extra better after the run though, eh?! You're going to rock the 10k!!!

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THUFFWOMAN 3/24/2010 10:52PM

    and I was JUST ABOUT to talk myself of tonite's treadmill date. Thanks for the boost!

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WISLNDR 3/24/2010 9:07PM

    Tonight was my first night of organized 10K training (with other people!!) I was excited about going but I was also tired after working a hectic day. The niggling temptation to stay home was present and I really didn't want to give in to it. I had read Yoovie's blog when she first posted it and I read your blog after I got home from work today and I realized that I was more excited than tired. I didn't run my best (I have to think more about what l eat before I go - - in the house at 5:00 and out again by 6:00!) but I am very pleased I went.

We had that stretch of crappy weather you're having right now. Then we had a stretch of really nice weather. And now we're moving in the wrong direction again for a couple of days. It's still March, after all! It'll get better!

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TRAVELNISTA 3/24/2010 8:38PM

    emoticon and thanks for sharing Yoovie's blog with us.

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PEGGO45 3/24/2010 8:21PM

    Thanks also for the yoovie blog link.... loved it!

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PEGGO45 3/24/2010 8:09PM

    ditto... I broke a 63 day streak ... but it will not break me ...I will start anew NOW as in 5 minutes from now hitting my basement for a little evening bike ride and back up for AM tomorrow to begin working towards a longer streak....

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    Way to not giving in to your inner tantrum. I figure we've all got a whiny 3 year old inside in lieu of the devil on your shoulder. The key is not giving in to her! :)

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    You rock! emoticon

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FOXXYROXXYD 3/24/2010 7:22PM

    Whhaaaaa.... It was beautiful here today and I TRIED to run but my ankle is screwed. I hope you had a great run despite the dreadmill!

You seriously need to do a tshirt on Cafe Press or somewhere "5K Before Couch"!

Thanks for the inspiration - I can at least do some arm work in the chair tonight while I RICE the stoooopid ankle.

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SASSAGAIN 3/24/2010 6:58PM

    Good for you! It's so nice when we beat those "don't wannas" They can be crippling, but you showed that you have the strength to overcome them and kick them in the butt! YOU GO GIRL!!

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JWENZEL723 3/24/2010 6:55PM

    GET IT! we will never regret working out. we will only regret NOT working out!

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VALLOUGH 3/24/2010 6:54PM

    What a funny coincidence! I just made my status something like "motivate me to get off my butt" and your blog was the first thing I read. Fine, fine, let's do this.

(p.s. you're the greatest, thanks!)

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WESTCOASTGIRL1 3/24/2010 6:49PM

    emoticon 5K before couch. Absolutely love it! I plan to do the same, but the weather is beautiful today, so I am counting the minutes till I get off work to hit the trail. Hope you had a great run! emoticon

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MRS_LOOMIS 3/24/2010 6:16PM

    you GO girl!!!Way to sparkle!

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LISTLOADRUN 3/24/2010 6:14PM

    "5K before couch"

I want that on a tshirt!

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MAMADELIGHT 3/24/2010 6:04PM

    Own that dreadmill, make it your beatch.

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SUSIEMILO 3/24/2010 5:56PM

    Love it: 5K BEFORE couch!
I'm sure you're not here to read this comment -- you're at the gym by now.
Good job girl. Reality check pays off.

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SYELLICO 3/24/2010 5:53PM

    You go girl! You are an inspiration and this is a great attitude you have emoticon

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Voted Popular Blog Post: View All Popular Posts

The Myth of "Off the Wagon"

Monday, March 22, 2010

One of the phrases that irks me to no end is "off the wagon." I hate it.

"Oh, I'm off the wagon. I need to climb back on!" someone will inevitably state, referring to a day of Chinese buffet or a weekend of partying. It makes the whole healthy lifestyle thing seem like one of those covered wagons in the Oregon Trail computer games, slow moving on the screen, but apparently yoked to a half dozen oxen, moving out of sight, making it harder and harder to grasp before it finally slips away for good. Then what? Well, apparently you die of dysentery or cholera or some other fun illness.

This is why I have such an issue (as you all know by now) about the notion that the 2000-, 3000-, or whatever-calorie day is going to leave you in that ditch, trampled on by oxen and unable to get your bearings.

In my opinion, if you are actually pursuing a healthy lifestyle and not the D-word (yes, DIET), then there isn't a wagon. There's only life. And sometimes life is going to derail you. Sometimes you might not make the best choices. That might mean a weekend of pizza and beer. Or a whole week where you've just blown it due to stress or a vacation or something else. But chances are a little bit of your healthy lifestyle is creeping in there. Maybe you ate 3 slices of pizza instead of 4 or you passed on the ice cream on top of the birthday cake. A bad day, week, or month isn't going to erase everything you've learned here at SparkPeople.

If you think of getting back on track as that elusive wagon, it's going to be even harder for you. It's going to send you into a guilt spiral where you believe that you cannot succeed. You're going to stay in that ditch with all the oxen crap and snakebites and pioneering mishaps, bemoaning your ability to get moving.

It's all about choices, no matter how small. You chose to eat that pizza or cake or whatever. AND IT'S OKAY. So if you're thinking "I've got to get back on the wagon today!" after a bad weekend, edit that thought. Think positively. Instead, think of three small things you can do this Monday that are positive and health-oriented. For example:

1. I'm going to take a mile-long walk today.
2. I'm going to get at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies.
3. I'm not going to bemoan the past for one full day.

It's a heck of a lot better than the whole wagon analogy and all the hoopla necessary to climb back onboard. Ditch the "off the wagon" bandwagon.

And c'mon, it's the 21st century, can't we think of a better analogy than an inefficient transportation device from the mid-1800s? Your journey is a lot more dynamic than that.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

UP2ME_CC 4/24/2010 6:17AM

    Great insight. Thank you.

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TIFFNLEE1 4/5/2010 8:03PM

  Definately fell off the wagon and got trampled with the horses recently. As If I wasn't beating myself up enough...thanks for the insight.

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SMALLCURD4 4/1/2010 11:55PM

    Wow, I am so glad I found this post! I had a really "off" dinner and have been beating myself up for it all night! Thank you so much for writing the truth that I wouldn't let myself believe. This is a life decision, not a diet!

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VIBRANTVIC 3/30/2010 6:58AM

    You crack me up! Love reading your posts. Great job on passing yet another goal with fitness minutes.....go you!! emoticon

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CABINDOG 3/29/2010 8:44PM

    cute blog

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MYMYHEYHEY 3/29/2010 1:00PM

    I couldn't agree more. Though, I do LOVE Oregon Trail! :D

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SWEET_DREAMS 3/29/2010 10:11AM

    That was just what I needed to read today.. thanks for the insightful post.

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U-CAN-DO-IT 3/29/2010 1:23AM

    Right on. I'm pursuing a H. L. S.! I'm NOT on a diet :-)

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TRICIA413 3/29/2010 12:28AM

    Very true and insightful!

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HOPE4LIFE2 3/28/2010 10:00PM

    Its funny how we fall into using phrases tritely and don't think of the message we are giving ourselves!

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JERICAJJ 3/28/2010 9:04PM

    Thanks! That was just what I needed to hear right now.

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FITJANE 3/28/2010 7:18PM


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AASMITHHISLER 3/28/2010 7:03PM

    Thank you for this blog entry, it was wonderful! I fully agree with it!!!

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DARK-WING 3/28/2010 6:43PM

    Wonderful insight. We have to give ourselves permission to enjoy food we love occasionally.

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DARK-WING 3/28/2010 6:43PM

    Wonderful insight. We have to give ourselves permission to enjoy food we love occasionally.

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DARK-WING 3/28/2010 6:43PM

    Wonderful insight. We have to give ourselves permission to enjoy food we love occasionally.


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HARISHABAD 3/28/2010 4:23PM

    Yes, yes, YES!!!! So true! That's why we are going to lose the weight this time, because we don't "fail" if we eat a bit too much once in a while. That's just what it is, once in a while. There's always tomorrow, where eating sensibly will start all over again. Nothing lost. Never again will I go on a week-or month-long binge because I "messed up" one day.

Thank you!

And I love your beautiful background photo!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BRANDISHIP 3/28/2010 2:42PM

  I thought it funny to see your blog title about the whole "off the wagon" thing. I'm a beginner here, and the first thing I said was that i'm "back on the wagon, and staying on"
You make a good point though. Think i'll go change my title now to something more positive.

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NICOLE.ALICIA 3/28/2010 9:13AM

    Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed reading your blog!

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PAMELALANDIS 3/27/2010 11:54PM

  Bless your heart! You made my day...no week...no program. It really is difficult to NOT beat myself up for slipping up what I planned to do or eat. I am getting better at just moving on. Now that Spring cleaning is here, I am burning plenty of calories-out to outweigh the callories-in. Thanks. Pam emoticon

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BLUESKY104 3/27/2010 11:39PM

    Good Blog emoticon

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FAYE000 3/27/2010 9:44PM

    It is life.
We are human and as humans, we are not perfect..
Concentrate on all the days you best was ideal.

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LIVINHEALTHY9 3/27/2010 8:59PM

    Good blog!

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SHAY72 3/27/2010 7:58PM

    love the blog & it is so true

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MOMS100 3/27/2010 7:50PM

    So true, so true!

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CALIDREAMER76 3/27/2010 7:34PM

    That is absolutely wonderful. I love to learn and teach with analogies and you did an awesome job! I hope you don't mind, but I have a couple non-spark friends that need to read this and although I've been trying to spark them hopefully when I send your blog this will be what gets them to join - and if not - at least change their mindset.
Thanks for posting this!

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VAMPTRIANA4EVR 3/27/2010 6:11PM

    I never actually said the words but that is basically how I was feeling today. LOL I went out to the Chinese buffet and by the time I was done I was so full I could hardly believe how much food I put away. But after reading your blog (and thinking honestly about my past) I realize that you are right. My healthy lifestyle has been creeping in. I may have ate at the buffet today, and my plate may have been nearly overflowing with food, but I only ate ONE plate, not the 2 or more that I used to eat. My damage was about 1300 calories, which is a whole day's worth... but just a few months ago I probably would have inhaled 2-3 THOUSAND before I stopped. Sorry the long reply but I wanted to thank you for opening my eyes and putting things in prespective for me!

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ANGIEMAY22 3/27/2010 4:52PM

    What a great way to put it. It really is "life", and looking at it makes it easier to deal with instead of looking at in a way that motivates you to do better makes a big difference. The power of the mind is an amazing thing!

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BOBBIJO201 3/27/2010 3:27PM

    Thanks! I needed to hear this as I have not been making very good choices today so far. Weekends are hard for me to eat the right foods. I need to not give up the rest of the day, but go for a walk, drink water and try and eat some fruits & veggies. Thanks, for reminding me to think positively!

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GOING-STRONG 3/27/2010 2:59PM

    Thanks for sharing this. I feel exactly the same way. I think about myself as "living life like a skinny person". Skinny people occassionally have treats... they just don't do it all the time and mindlessly. Skinny people exercise and are active... but they also watch TV and are on the computer... etc etc. Living life in a healthy and balanced manner is the goal for me.. not "staying on the wagon". Hugs to you, Rhonda

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SUSAN8001 3/27/2010 2:56PM

    I think you said it best...my life and I should think of it that way everyday....thank you.

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SRJLM2705 3/27/2010 1:16PM

    Just like the others this was perfect from me today. Thanks for the inspiration. emoticon

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REDHAYES 3/27/2010 12:47PM

    So glad I came across your blog - perfect timing and exactly what I needed to hear :)

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MOOTWO 3/27/2010 12:10PM

    HAHA After a week including Chino Bandido dining and a Little Ceasar's night- this was a timely and effective read :)
Thanks for sharing your unique views and a good outlook I fully intend to adopt!
No wonder this is a popular blog post :) Now pardon me as I look for fun ways to burn around 4000 calories XD

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GOSPELCLOWN 3/27/2010 11:40AM


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DREAMERBLUE 3/27/2010 11:36AM

    Thanks, I needed that.

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JUNIAATROME 3/27/2010 11:30AM

    Makes sense1

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KIMBURLY1337 3/27/2010 11:21AM

    I couldn't have said it better myself! Its amazing the change in my mindset this time around now that i've gotten rid of the notion of cheat days and diet breaking and "off the wagon."

Its a lot easier to stay On and keep my footing stable now.

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DOLLBABE56 3/27/2010 10:55AM

    I have to tell you, I needed to read this post today. I have had a hard time with eating healthy and exercising for the past week or so now. And it has been "emotional stress". I can't help that my husband had chest pains, or the fact that I have shingles this week. My husband's stress test came back good, and my doctor game me some meds. for my shingles (ugh, the itching and pain have been horrible). I'm feeling better emotionally now and ready to get back to eating better and exercising again. Great blog. Helps put things in perspective.

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KATVHALE 3/27/2010 10:52AM

    Very well said! I basically have the same outlook. I do the best I can every day with eating healthy and getting enough water and I exercise when I can. I haven't seen the scale move in months but I don't care. I feel good and I enjoy my life and that is what is important!


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UPSTAIRSMARJ 3/27/2010 10:38AM

    This post is a real wake-up call for me, and I'm so grateful for it. I HAVE been thinking of this as an on/off experience, but you are absolutely 100% correct. This is LIFE. I will now banish that phrase AND that mentality from my world. Thank you!

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EMMAEMMAS 3/27/2010 10:23AM

    Great thoughts! I definitely agree with the idea that even when "life happens" we are still probably making better choices. That's my big motto to make this a lifestyle. I don't make perfect choices but I try to make better choices.

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AMAS92568 3/27/2010 9:48AM

    I like your take on that phrase. I also don't like using it but because of the connotations it carries for other addictions.


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CATHEITE 3/27/2010 8:06AM

    I sure needed to read this today. I've had a bad week with eating. But I'm still in this!

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DEVRIES51 3/27/2010 7:44AM

    Great Blog! Something we all need to think about.

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JAE_HENNINGTON 3/27/2010 7:34AM


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BENDER7 3/27/2010 7:27AM

    Very well said!

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MARPET44 3/27/2010 7:14AM

    Thank you for the heads up--I needed that. I only lose about 5# per month. But the big picture tells me I am on track.

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BELFASTBIKER 3/27/2010 5:37AM

    good way of looking at things.

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ELSKAS 3/27/2010 5:30AM

    thank you

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Day Off + Veggie Food Photo Blog!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hello Sparkers! I hope everyone has enjoyed (or is currently enjoying!) a happy St. Patrick's Day whether you are Irish or not! Boston is such a great town for St. Patty's. We've got the parade in Southie and on the 17th it's just a non-stop party!
emoticon emoticon

However, I decided to take my day off and treat myself and my body RIGHT. No beer, no salty meat, and a lot of exercise! I went to Aqua Workout at noon, which was a whole lot of fun! I really felt the workout in my arms, especially since they made us do pushups on the pool steps and climb the metal bars!

The weather was absolutely gorgeous today. It got up to 65 degrees without a cloud in the sky! Perfect running weather. I was slower than usual today, probably because I was a bit tired from my pool workout, but I had a great time running! It was Week 2 of my 10K training, which called for another 3-mile run. I burned over 800 calories today!

But onto food!

I started out my day with a tasty, fruity vegan breakfast. I threw a half banana and a cup of papaya in the blender with one of my new favorite things, almond milk, and a teaspoon of agave sweetener.

Then I had my favorite cereal with chopped strawberries and more almond milk!

1/2 cup Kashi Go Lean Crunch Honey Almond Flax, 1 1/2 cups Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, 3 large strawberries, 1/2 large banana, 1 cup papaya, 1 tsp Blue Agave Sweetener

FAT: 8


For lunch, I needed to use the rest of the package of fresh ravioli I had from last week before it went bad. I added a tiny dribble of EVOO and a half a cup of sweet peas.

3/4 cup of Pasta Prima Wild Mushroom and Thyme Ravioli, 1/2 cup Bird's Eye Steam Fresh Sweet Peas, 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

FAT: 11


I've seen so many great stuffed pepper recipes here on SparkPeople and I started craving them! So I came up with a new concoction that I really liked!

I cut the peppers in half and sauteed mushrooms, onions and fresh parsley in the pan with a bit of cooking spray.

Added tofu, crushed tomato, and Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy seasoning and let simmer for a bit. Then...

I added a cup of Kashi 7-Grain Pilaf that I'd cooked right before and stuffed those peppers! Voila and here is my final dinner...

And there you go, Vegan Stuffed Peppers! Only 199 calories for each pepper and super super yummy! Recipe can be found here:

I also had a garden salad with lettuce, tomato and cucumber and 1 tbsp Ken's Lite Creamy Caesar Dressing.

FAT: 13


What would life be without some good snacks? And Irish Soda Bread on St. Patty's Day!

My recipe for Irish Soda Bread is here: recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
. I think it's the perfect mix of bready and cakey. I had this for a snack lightly toasted with a bit of Olivio light spread. A good snack for 188 calories.

I had the rest of my banana from the smoothie after my Aqua Workout!

And for the first time in a LONG time, I was low on calories after dinner. I was going to have two of the stuffed peppers but I found that I was pretty satisfied after one and my salad, so I saved the other one for tomorrow's lunch. So I had a tasty dessert!

1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese, 5 large strawberries, a squeeze of lemon juice, 2 tsp blue agave sweetener, and a medium kiwi with a cup of coffee with skim milk

Oh this was soooooooo good. You would never believe. The light ricotta was a nice break from the yogurt I usually have and the lemon gave it a great tang. And I love strawberries and kiwis together! The dessert was only 200 calories and I enjoyed it with my coffee.

FAT: 11



CARBS: 202
FAT: 43
SODIUM: 1,602
CALCIUM: 133 (with multi-vitamin)

Can't get more St. Patrick's Day than a Boston Celtics t-shirt! Kiss me, I'm a Celtics fan!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HARISHABAD 3/28/2010 8:34PM

    Love the photo blog idea!

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FLORIDASUN 3/24/2010 3:34PM

    Hey girlie girl! Totally loved your blog with pictures no less! I'll have to start thinking about that...I usually think of the camera on the second day of leftovers..heeheee...I always cook for an army...I don't know why I'm an 'only child'...must have been in a caravan in a former life??? Thanks for popping by my blog...I'm feeling so much happier today after talking to the lawyer...I could just kiss a lawyer today...really I could! emoticon emoticon

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ELISADEL 3/24/2010 4:38AM

    Your meals all look so pretty and colorful!

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TENDERLOVE1 3/23/2010 11:50PM

    That dessert looks yummy! I will try that!

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DEEGEE2 3/22/2010 6:00PM

    thanks for sharing and love the pics ! emoticon

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WESTCOASTGIRL1 3/22/2010 12:23PM

    It all looks so yummy and obviously healthy! I will have to try the peppers and agave sweetener. Thanks for sharing.

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SWEETSWEETPEA 3/22/2010 11:42AM

    Your stuffed peppers sound amazing! I am thinking that will be a new dinner recipe for next week!

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MICHELEB609 3/20/2010 4:33PM

    Yum! You're stuffed peppers look awesome! I'm going to try this recipe out for sure. emoticon

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RUNNINGOLLIE 3/19/2010 7:26PM

    Your blog pictures are great =- the food all looks healthy and yummy! emoticon

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4EVERADONEGIRL 3/19/2010 1:24PM

    I feel like lots of times I get stuck in a food rut so it is good to see what you make - so many tasty treats! Mmmm...yummy!!


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BREW99 3/19/2010 9:36AM

    Love all the foods! (not a fan of stuffed peppers but you made it look yummy!) Isn't it amazing how much you actually have to eat when you cut out all the processed foods and meats? Love vegan menus because you can seriously eat so much more! haha emoticon

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KATIEGLEN012 3/19/2010 4:18AM

    Love your approach...and the effort you put into creating your meals. Thanks for including us.

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1_AMAZING_WOMAN 3/18/2010 2:44PM

    Wow! All those foods look so good, but if I ate that high carb/low protein I would be laying on the floor within an hour with hypoglycemia. I have been there too many times, so I have to have a good solid protein with any carb. All those foods you show would be wonderful for me to eat with a protein.


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DARA52 3/18/2010 2:40PM

    Yummy! Cute idea!! Thanks for sharing!

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KEEPGOING87 3/18/2010 1:34PM

    i LOOOOOOVE ur blogs

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TIME4AFITME 3/18/2010 1:33PM

    everything looks yummy but the breakfast and ricotta and fruit oh my looks extra yummy! Sounds like a great day

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JWENZEL723 3/18/2010 1:20PM

    your aqua workout sounds SO fun!

and, you're a great example of being able to eat a lot of food, and a lot of flavorful food, and still be well in your calorie range. it's just about eating the right kinds of food!

Comment edited on: 3/18/2010 1:20:30 PM

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VALLOUGH 3/18/2010 12:40PM

    Great blog! I love stuffed peppers and those look fantastic! I should really try the kashi 7 grain mix....

One of these days I'll get to Boston--a cousin of mine owns an Irish pub there!

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CREATINGAMANDA 3/18/2010 12:33PM

    Nice food blog! I'm going to have to post one of these sometime.

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XHOOSIERLOSER 3/18/2010 12:33PM

    Wow, this is awesome. Everything sounds delicious, and not terribly time-consuming to prepare...just a little planning and ta-da! Great healthy food for a day! Thanks.

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ANG76H 3/18/2010 11:55AM

  Your food all looks so yummy & healthy! ;) Way to go on your weight loss too! You are doing FANTASTIC!!!

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TKLPICKLE 3/18/2010 11:53AM

    ooo, loving your food blog! I just might have to try those stuffed peppers! So glad you had a relaxing day off, and that Aqua class sounds awesome!! Keep up the awesomeness!

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SUGIRL06 3/18/2010 11:32AM

    That dessert looks awesome! Making me hungry!

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KLONG8 3/18/2010 11:27AM

    You were so on top of things today. And your blog made it fun to participate with you (and gave me some new ideas too). Thanks for sharing!

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RUNNER4LIFE08 3/18/2010 11:01AM

    Loved your food blog! Thanks for sharing how each one was made and with the added pics. Great idea!

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EMLG11 3/18/2010 9:31AM

    Love the food photo blog. Great way to share ideas. You are so helpful and not just to me. Thanks for sharing and being such a good role model.

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WISLNDR 3/18/2010 9:01AM

    It's grocery store day for me; thanks for some suggestions for the list!!

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BOOTS1221 3/18/2010 8:44AM

    Yayyyy I LOVE reading people's food blogs! Seriously, I'm addicted to them haha Your stuffed peppers look ahhh-maaazing!!! I'm so glad you got to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather yesterday. I bet you're feeling super refreshed today!!!


Comment edited on: 3/18/2010 8:44:27 AM

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GONE2THEDOGS 3/18/2010 7:35AM

    MMMMMM, everything looks delicious! Definately going to try the stuffed peppers....thanks...

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DAISES2 3/18/2010 1:20AM

    wow i don't know how you do it but you have done it again.great ideas

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 3/18/2010 12:02AM

    Your food looks so yummy!! Today was cheerleading practice for older daughter so dinner was frozen burritos baked in the oven-not bad calorie wise, but your peppers definately look much tastier!!

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NOVELIC 3/17/2010 11:54PM

    Every single thing you made looks delicious. Glad it was a happy, healthy day for you.

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MPALMER15 3/17/2010 11:54PM

    Wow, your food looks so yummy! Thanks for posting the soda bread recipe. I was going to look for a recipe tomorrow, but now I don't have to!

Happy St. Pat's to you!


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GLOBALKEEWEE 3/17/2010 11:21PM

    Wow...what a healthy "you" day. I'm so proud of you (and a little embarrassed by own actions by comparison)!
Keep up the momentum!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TRAVELNISTA 3/17/2010 11:17PM

    emoticon You can really see a weightloss in your face from the last time you posted a pic. The strawberry kiwi ricotta dessert looks great!

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TEAM-SARAH 3/17/2010 11:03PM

    Impressive! Everything looks super delicious and I cant believe you came in at 1300 some calories!

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DOPKIGIRL 3/17/2010 10:56PM

    Deliciously yummy food. I am a BIG fan of the stuffed peppers and I am going to try out your recipe. It sounds good and a very healthy version. Thanks for sharing. So happy you had a great day, enjoyed yourself and doing good on your eating AND exercise.

Woot Woot! Keep it going!!

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_DASH_ 3/17/2010 10:44PM

    mmm LOVE almond milk! those strawberries look gorgeous! nice. i will try the pepper recipe :D

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HOSTALADY 3/17/2010 10:31PM

    A wonderful day you have had and to share it with all of us is very special. Great workouts and beautiful meals you prepared. Your journey is wonderful.
Thanks again for sharing!

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BELUGA20 3/17/2010 10:24PM

    I love when you do the photo blogs! so much fun!

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KARVY09 3/17/2010 10:13PM

    I liked the ricotta. I think I'll go for the lowfat instead of the fat-free next time. It needed a little bit of zip!

I also like the almond milk better than the soy. All I can taste when I add soy to my smoothies is the soymilk sometimes. The almond milk really lets the fruit speak for itself! It's also VERY low calorie. 40 calories for a cup of unsweetened almond milk versus 80 calories for nonfat cow's milk.

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SMYGIRL 3/17/2010 10:11PM

    I'm lovin' the food blog - thanks for taking the time to photo and post everything!

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ABETTERBECKY 3/17/2010 9:49PM

    Those peppers sounds amazing - I like the tofu in substitution for meat. I'm curious about the almond milk and will have to look into it compared to soy milk - any big differences? Last - that dessert sounds right up my alley! Yum - I've never thought of using ricotta that way before but I will most definitely give this a try!!! Thanks a billion and kudos on your awesome day!

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JENONTHEROX 3/17/2010 9:43PM

    What a GREAT blog!
I really enjoyed all the photos too. Ricotta cheese (light!) is a new discovery for me too. I put 2 tbsp on a Suzie wholegrain wheatcake cracker thingy with some apricot preserves.... fantastic! I also love that almond milk, I switched from Soy probably just over a year ago now.

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    Way to go on healthy eating today! Everything looks so good, especially the stuffed peppers. We're making some next week with ground turkey and I'm very excited for them.

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Taking Time Out For Yourself

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I found out that I have a forced day off tomorrow so that they can tamper with some of our systems, which I'm looking forward to because the weather in New England is gorgeous again!

One of my coworkers started freaking out as soon as it was announced. I tried to cheer her up and told her to take the time out for herself. She is probably suffering from an obsessive compulsive disorder and she works two jobs and is one of those people that is constantly anxious and jumpy.

"Oh, I have plenty of things to do! Lots of work!" she snapped at me. Obviously I don't know her financial situation, so I don't know how crucial the lost day's pay is to her, but I have a feeling that she rarely takes time out for herself in a way that doesn't involve food. She is one of those people that ODs on "healthy" foods like juice, crackers, raisins, and nuts.

For me, I recognize that it is the nature of contract work, and I need to treasure the time that I have to myself. Life can't just be about work. We never know how long we are going to be on this earth. I've known too many people who spent all of their time working or caring for others and were unable to complete those dreams because they waited too long.

I find that in my journey here on SparkPeople I run into a lot of Type A personalities who are working, taking care of spouses and children, and dealing with a number of other tasks. I think for a lot of us, an easy way of comforting ourselves that doesn't take much time is turning to food. But the high of a good feed is probably one of the most temporary highs that there can be.

It's been tough learning not to reward myself with food when I take time out for myself. But there are other things I can do to help better my life instead of turning to the edible. Tomorrow I plan to get going on my taxes, go for a run, go to an Aqua Workout class that only meets at noon on weekdays, and take a nice bath. I can't wait!

I also restocked my kitchen with some yummy produce tonight too. I had a wonderful Greek salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, feta and olives for dinner! We ate the last of our fruit last weekend and it's been weird not having apples and oranges around. Tonight I bought the first strawberries of the year! They look so freaking good. I can't wait for my smoothie tomorrow morning!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TIME4AFITME 3/18/2010 1:30PM

    Totally agree! Hope you enjoyed your day off

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ABETTERBECKY 3/17/2010 7:38PM

    I agree with your blog 100% - today was one such day for myself. I was off, I relaxed, it was my day to not go to the gym. And I had a great day - took the dog for a long walk in the neighborhood while basking in the warm sunshine - dare I say I got a little pink today! No food rewards today, decided to skip the traditional corned beef dinner after looking up the nutritional content (never mind the salt!). A great couple of weeks - being healthy, losing weight, feels great!

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    Taking time for ourselves is an important lesson to learn. I get very caught up in grad school, work, and family so often that many times, I forget to take care of myself. It's definitely important to remember that.

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LJRW170 3/17/2010 2:56PM

    I discovered years ago that work is just that, and should just stay there. So once I'm done for the day, that's it. And I don't even think about it until the next day, and my stress level is wonderfully low because of it.

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WESTCOASTGIRL1 3/17/2010 2:20PM

    So very true. To slow down and relax is not always easy. Good for you to enjoy the moments that life give you for you!
Have a wonderful day, it sounds like a great way to spend an unexpected day off!

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4EVERADONEGIRL 3/17/2010 11:45AM

    I love days that I can take time out for myself. Sure, they have been rare lately...but that just makes me treasure them all the more when they do roll around! Hope you had an awesome day off...sounds like you had great stuff planned that will help you recharge. You are truly a model of healthy living and I'm so glad I have your cheerful reminders of what that means!!!!

You ROCK Sistah!!

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MANDAO97 3/17/2010 11:18AM

    I hope you thoroughly enjoy your day to yourself :) We all need to take the time to unwind and remember what is most important in life (without it always revolving around food!).

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RUNNER4LIFE08 3/17/2010 9:43AM

    Loved the blog!

You are very right... We do need to take the time for ourselves once in a while. I tend not to do that for myself because I have 3 kids. But it is something I need to be more cautious of.

Thanks for the reminder!

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DOPKIGIRL 3/17/2010 9:17AM

    You are SO right...we NEED to take time for ourselves. It can be a small amount of time, but we need time to reflect upon ourselves and cherish who and what we are. I am SO happy to hear that you get to enjoy a day with yourself, doing the things you like. Have fun. Enjoy!!

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BOOTS1221 3/17/2010 9:03AM

    Great blog Kristina!!! The weather around here is ahhhh-maaaazing!!! Enjoy your day :)

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BREW99 3/17/2010 8:34AM

    Hopefully she can relax a little for herself today - along with you also! I'm one of those workaholics also. I love work and I love to beat deadlines - but I'm not OCD... I learned the hard way that I have to take some time for myself too when I turned into a freelance contractor after I graduated university. Sometimes we do get stuck in our ways and forget to stop and breathe. Hope you have a good day off! emoticon

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TEAM-SARAH 3/16/2010 11:14PM

    Good message Kristina! I know I tend to reward and comfort myself with food. I use it to relax and unwind. Guilty! I'm glad you have good things planned for your day off. I'm sure you'll feel wonderful when the evening rolls around and you had such a personally productive day. I always get so excited to be able to take a late morning exercise class when I catch a weekday off! Enjoy it and enjoy your run!

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ROOT4HOME 3/16/2010 11:06PM

    Way to go on turning away from food as a reward! Your salad sounded yummy! emoticon

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 3/16/2010 10:57PM

    Great Blog!! It is definately one of those things that we forget to consider! I was so happy Saturday to have the house to myself for a couple of hours!! I didn't do anything special, but it was MY time to do what I wanted. I needed that!! Thanks for a great blog-hope your strawberries are delish!! We had our first of the season a couple days ago-have to agree yum, yum!!

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MOCOHOLO 3/16/2010 10:47PM

    Great blog! Have a wonderful day!

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GLOBALKEEWEE 3/16/2010 10:31PM

    Enjoy the furlough...and kudos to you for recognizing that it's good for you (and being financially prepared for it) so that you don't suffer your colleague's stress.
Think of us, slaving away, tomorrow!

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SOPHIKKO 3/16/2010 10:26PM

    This is very true, and this blog comes at a very appropriate time for myself. Thank you for posting!

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HOSTALADY 3/16/2010 10:20PM

    You are so right none of know how long we have here. Best to make the best of the time we do have. Your salad sounds great! Really enjoy feta on my salad and greek olives too!
Enjoy your day off sounds like a great plan!

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RUN2MYDREAMS 3/16/2010 10:11PM

    Enjoy your time for yourself my friend! You deserve it! emoticon

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EMLG11 3/16/2010 10:02PM

    Have a great day. You have such a good outlook. I rewarded myself with some fancy new sunglasses tonight. I had to walk past two candy stores to get them too!!

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APRILB333 3/16/2010 9:55PM

    Enjoy your day off,sounds like you have some awesome things planned out!! emoticon

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JWENZEL723 3/16/2010 9:43PM

    what a great reminder! my very first weight loss reward was a starbucks latte. i haven't given myself food rewards since, but it's hard!

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PINKCOCONUT 3/16/2010 9:40PM

    I totally agree! It has been HARD learning to not reward myself with food! But I must say that I'm 98% better than I used to be so score for us! *high fives*

Enjoy your unexpected day off in the fabulous weather! You've earned it!

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TKLPICKLE 3/16/2010 9:36PM

    What a great sentiment! I hope you have a fantastically relaxing and productive day off tomorrow. Your Greek Salad sounds delicious! I just might have to try one of those myself! mmm, feta.... my mouth is watering just thinking of it! : )

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