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Tonight's Challenge

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An ongoing challenge I have given myself is to cook one new recipe weekly. And if, with that recipe I can make some healthy changes, all the better.

So every week I search for a new recipe to try. Sometimes its a crockpot recipe, sometimes not. Sometimes its a recipe that was submitted by a fellow Spark member, sometimes its something out of a cookbook I have and so on.

Tonight is my new recipe night. And its the perfect night to try something new. Its been a dreary day in my neighbourhood and work was stressful. I can't think of a better way to unwind and ignore the rainy weather than by trying out something new.

I'll be cooking chicken and asparagus pasta a recipe submitted by LILYANN2. Its the perfect season for me to try something like this as spring is approaching and asparagus has come way down in price at the grocery stores. I have to admit, there wasn't much I could do to make this recipe much healthier. It calls for whole-wheat pasta - so I'm using whole-wheat bowties. The chicken is white meat with no skin. The asparagus has been listed as one of the most healthy vegetables available by SparkPeople. I don't have feta cheese, so I am substituting a bit of 1% cottage cheese and I did manage to substitute the chicken broth with a low-sodium variety, but that's about it.

I can't wait to try this stuff - all its ingredients are things we like here. Here's to hoping its a great meal!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

-COURT- 4/15/2011 9:29AM

    I've never eaten asparagus. I'm one of those 'picky eaters' even on the Picky Eaters team.

That is a great idea to cook something new each week. Reminds me of the Julie/Julia movie.

I'll look forward to the next recipe.

Too bad chocolate isn't healthier.

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KOGOSHUKO 4/14/2011 10:32AM

    Let me know how it goes, and maybe I'll make it sometime too. :)

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SEAWAVE 4/14/2011 7:24AM

    Sounds yummy!

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Healthy Cooking Challenge Team

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I have been an on-again, off-again, Spark member since 2009. Recently, I have picked up interest in continuing working towards my weight goal and leading a healthier life-style. As part of this renewed interest, I’ve become a more active Spark member.

I have read The Spark and have joined a number of community teams. I am a lover of internet games and have, to my delight, discovered an addiction to Spark points and trophies. I try to log on to the site daily and gather as many points as I can. Not long ago, one of my team leader’s mentioned a community team that they had joined. It was called the Healthy Cooking Challenge.

My interest was piqued and I decided to join the team to see what it was all about. To my delight I discovered that this team was all about goal setting and that if you were successful, at the end of four weeks, you were rewarded with a trophy. Now I had been accumulating trophies – some for perfect attendance, some for collecting points during the month, reaching exercise goals etc. But I did not know that some of the official teams were also handing out awards. I decided to give it a try.

The first challenge I tackled was to create a menu for the upcoming week. I could relate to this, as it reminded me of a cooking show I used to watch with Sandi Richards' Fixin' Dinner.

I have to admit that the blank menu template that sat in front of me was quite intimidating and, of all the challenges, was the most difficult one for me to complete. I worked on it for an hour or so and finally came up with a game plan for the week. Breakfasts and lunches were easy for me, as my husband and I always eat breakfast at home and lunches are prepared and brought with us to our place of work. It was the evening meals that had me stumped. We quite often would eat out once or twice a week, usually fast food. As part of my own personal challenge with the Healthy Cooking Challenge, I dared myself to eliminate the eating out and to prepare home-cooked meals with lowered sodium and fat content.

Once the menu plan was created, a trip to the grocery store was in order and then the game was on.

Menu planning became part of my next four weeks and by the third week, I even had my husband interested in what meals were planned and he was giving me suggestions! I did find that I wasn’t always able to stick exactly to the weekly plan. Some nights I interchanged with another night on the menu, but overall I got pretty good at following the plan.

I continued through the next four weeks completing the different challenges as they came up. Some of the suggestions that were given I liked, some not so much. But in the end, the weekly menu planning became my favourite – which was really weird, because of all the challenges it was the one I had initially found so difficult. And at the end of the four week’s I received my coveted trophy.

When I first joined the team, the trophy was my end goal and I believed that it was the most important thing I would get from joining. How wrong I was! Its been a few weeks since the challenge was completed. Needless to say, I went back to my old habits, which I didn't think were that bad. I usually decided before leaving for work what was for supper. But all of a sudden I was starting to find that figuring out what the evening meal was going to be was becoming a chore. My husband noticed that our menus were not as creative as before and it seemed easier and easier to decide in the morning that maybe tonight would be a good night to eat out. So, I’m going to go back to the menu planning. It definitely works for me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SEAWAVE 4/13/2011 5:28AM

    I'm just finishing the second week of that challenge, and am really enjoying it. I'm gearing up to return to work after having been off for 1.5 years, and one of my challenges will be to continue with home cooked suppers rather than picking something up as we return home from work. This challenge is helping me find some easy things to do for breakfast that my DH will eat (breakfast is a new thing for him!). For lunches and suppers I'll be relying a lot on planned leftovers and batch cooking and freezing.

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KOGOSHUKO 4/12/2011 4:38PM

    I enjoy doing the menu planning, but I understand finding it difficult to follow it perfectly. For the most part, I can do it, but every now and then something springs up - a social outting, or just a want to eat something else.

I think swapping meals from one day to another is perfectly fine - it's the eating out that should be cut back on! I've eaten out three times in the past three weeks, but in my own defense, I was invited out all three times.

I think the meal planning is the best part of this challenge, and it's a great one to keep up with! Not only does it help you from thinking up meals the day before or the morning of, it also helps you save on groceries, because you know exactly which foods you plan on eating during the week!!


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AURORAMILLET 4/12/2011 2:26PM

    I can totally understand the addiction to points and trophies. I have recently joined and I find the accomplishments fun.

I too have previously struggled with meal planning. I would go to the grocery store and wonder aimlessly to decide what I wanted to have for dinner.

Now, I am an avid planner. I love thinking of what to cook and finding new recipes to try. I always go to the store with a list and I usually stick to it.

I find the most beneficial tool in this change was a book I purchased called "What's for Dinner?" It has weeks of meal planning at my fingertips with healthy desserts and Great Recipes. I just Love it.

Meal Planning is worth it!

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I'm old enough to know better!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The title of this rant says it all!

Starting on Friday I listened to my cravings and not my head. Friday for supper went out to A&W and had the new Grandma burger and shared an onion ring with my husband. And instead of asking for a bottle of water I had a real cola product.

Saturday I ate at Tim Hortons for lunch and had a Ham Swiss sandwich. I forgo the sauce and refused to have the donut they were pushing towards me. But once again, I had a Pepsi. Later in the day we stopped at Tim Horton's (again) and had a Pepsi and tried their new donut - banana and strawberry. I need not mention that even though the donut 'says' bananas and strawberries, it really has nothing to do with either of these.

Sunday my son was home and, even though we seldom have dessert with our meals, I decided we would. And instead of choosing something fairly healthy, I once again made a pitstop at Tim Hortons and picked up 6 donuts. I only had one, but boy was it the high calorie one - a blueberry fritter.

All this fast-food eating paid an immediate price with upset stomach, etc. This morning was my weigh-in and instead of being down a pound, which I know I could have been, I am up .2. Guess I should be thankful that's all I went up!

I need to buckle down and stick to menu plans. I know I feel better when I stay away from restaurant and take out food and it sure makes my bank account look healthier. So, back to the plan - stay away from eating out and the cola.

To end my rant, I'll say it again - I'm old enough to know better!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KOGOSHUKO 4/12/2011 4:46PM

    I think it's okay to slip up once in awhile. I have a slip-up day planned for Saturday, and I'm afraid you're at least joining me for part of the ride! Tuckers is an all-you-can eat restaurant, and their food is extremely tasty!

However, I'm accounting for it during this week, and next.

Just don't deprive yourself from ALL junkfood. It's easy to fall off the wagon; I know only too well.

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TINY67 4/11/2011 10:59AM

    We all need to cheat at some point. as long as you get right back on the wagon and continue on.

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5GIRLS1BOY 4/11/2011 10:20AM

  We all slip up from time to time...don't beat yourself up over it. You know your downfalls, which is better than most. Kick it in gear this week! You'll do great!

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How Many Calories Burned

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Over the weekend, I spent some time doing some long-neglected work around the house. We have a 55 gallon aquarium that was set up in our basement that I wanted to bring upstairs. I had rearranged our living room about a month ago to make room for the aquarium and then spent the rest of the month trying to convince my husband to help me dismantle and bring the thing upstairs.

Well, on Saturday morning, I had success! At 10:15 a.m., EST, we began the process. Between 10:15 and 11:15 I must have gone up and down the stairs at least 25 times. I had buckets of new gravel outdoors that I was rinsing in preparation for the tank, but I had to keep my eye on the garden hose that was draining the tank – didn’t want a flood of aquarium water downstairs.

By 2:30 p.m. the tank was up and running and the fish were back in their home. From there we proceeded outdoors to wash two cars. By 5:00 p.m. we were done the work and sitting down for our evening meal.

With all the activity during the day I began to think about calorie burning and this morning I did a bit of research and came up with the following numbers:

Activity: Calories Burned (per 30 minutes):
Doing laundry - 73
Dusting - 85
Gardening - 184
Ironing - 77
Mopping the floor - 153
Mowing the lawn (push mower) - 148
Raking the lawn - 135
Rearranging furniture -225
Washing dishes -77
Washing the car -153
Washing windows - 105
Weeding the yard - 153

And I mustn’t forget stair-climbing. The Public Health Agency of Canada’s website has a great resource for tracking calories while climbing stairs. I figured I must have spent 15 minutes going up the stairs that day and another 15 going back down. The calculator told me I had burned 181 extra calories and burned 0.05 lbs of fat! So not only did I end up with the aquarium where I wanted it and two clean cars, but I was burning extra calories. Wonder what project I can tackle next weekend….

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LJBOWSER 4/27/2011 8:14AM

    thanks for the information I was wondering how much extra burn i get just doing normal things Spark should add these numbers in the cardio tracker

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MSPRIS3 10/19/2010 4:54PM

    Woo Hoo For you!

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STLOUISWOMAN 10/19/2010 1:21PM

    Wow!! You got a lot done & a lot of exercise at the same time. Talk about multi-tasking. Congratulations & keep up the good work. As for next week, I'm sure you'll get a lot of offers to help you solve that problem.

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SEAWAVE 10/19/2010 12:14PM

    Cleaning as exercise - I like it. As for next week... ummm... you could start with my basement? emoticon

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CLWELSH 10/19/2010 10:51AM

    emoticon emoticon

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These Boots Are Made For Walking.....

Monday, October 18, 2010

And they’re NOT kidding! I purchased a pair of ShapeUps by Skechers at the beginning of September. I’d previously been wearing an ‘athletic’ shoe made by Naturalizer for about a month. Unfortunately, when I purchased the Naturalizers I made the error of assuming that I needed the same shoe size I usually wore. They were a little tight, wearable in small doses, but not comfortable for any serious walking.

To make a long story short, I was lured into a shoe shop at our local mall in September and ended up buying the ShapeUps by Skechers that day in a half size larger than usual. Obviously I had had some experience in walking in this type of shoe already, so I didn’t bother to read the manual or watch the video that came with them – just started walking.

After my first walk around the neighbourhood, I realized that they were definitely giving me a workout. It wasn’t as easy to pick up my pace and the first few walks were slower than I was used to, but I definitely was feeling muscles that hadn’t been used in quite some time. After reading the manual and watching the video I realized that everything they proclaimed was true! Muscle groups were being put into play just by the simple fact that these shoes were forcing me to walking differently.

Since that first walk around the block in September I’ve lost a little over 10 pounds and dropped two sizes in jeans. As a matter of fact, the pair I was wearing on the weekend are getting quite baggy as well.

On Saturday I needed a pair of shoes quick to do some outdoor work and put on an old pair of ‘regular’ runners. My feet noticed the difference immediately and I have to say my mind did as well. The month of walking in the ShapeUps has redefined how I walk!

Don’t know what I’ll do when the snow starts to fly around here, but for now I am devoted to my ShapeUps!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSPRIS3 10/18/2010 8:26PM

    I have a cheaper brand, and I noticed a difference too!

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AMOHAME2 10/18/2010 2:27PM

    I've always been curious about these. I'm glad to hear you love 'em!

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148WANNABE 10/18/2010 1:45PM

    Great!! If the shoe fits - wear it.

Your Sketcher Shape-Ups can walk a 5K on Saturday Nov 6th, 2010. :)

Hope to see you at the UPGO Fun Walk for Cornerstone 5K - 10K - 15K.


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DAISYBELL6 10/18/2010 12:02PM

    I love my Shape Ups too!

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