JOYFULGRATITUDE's SparkPeople Blog JOYFULGRATITUDE's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community Farewell To SP It is with a bit of sadness that I write this blog as a farewell to my time on SP. I've learned so much from the information on this site. I'm afraid I'm just not getting the community support that I was hoping for, which is what I really wanted more than the information. Thank you to those who took the time to respond to my blog posts and send me Goodies. I wish all of you much luck and success on your journey to better health - mentally, spiritually and physically. <BR> All the best, <BR> B... Sat, 25 May 2013 22:10:01 EST Memorial Day Cookout Favorites - Six Ways As always, these recipes are on the lighter side, so long as you keep your portion sizes in check. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Strawberry Watermelon Slush <BR> <link><BR>ry-Watermelon-Slush </link> <BR> A refreshing way to wrap up National Strawberry Month and welcome the unofficial start of summer with watermelon. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> C... Wed, 22 May 2013 23:59:35 EST Prepping For Memorial Day It sure will be a busy next few days! First, I have to prepare some dishes to take to my bf's parents' cookout. That involves finding lighter recipes of my favorites and, hopefully, dishes and desserts that others will like as well. His mom is thrilled because that means less that she has to prepare, and I'm thrilled because I know there will be healthy things that I can eat too. I'm planning on lighter beverage recipes, some sort of grilled salmon, lighter crab cakes, shrimp kabobs and a rec... Mon, 20 May 2013 23:54:25 EST Book Signing Meet & Greet With Jessica Alba I got to meet Jessica Alba! I saw on the news yesterday morning that she was doing a signing to promote her book, so I just had to go. Wasn't I just mentioning her? Oh, yes, right, "Fashion 101"! I was trying to figure out what to wear when I had a "What would Jessica wear?" moment. Casual and not too over the top, I thought. White tank and khaki skirt with nude-colored strap wedge sandals. The outfit lacked color, so I draped a hot pink bamboo scarf around my neck. Bamboo was key because, af... Sat, 18 May 2013 09:10:17 EST Pasta Salad For Lunch - Six Ways These can be eaten as a side to your main dish, sandwich, pita pocket, wrap or soup. They can also serve as the main entree (depending upon your serving size). <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Chicken Spaghetti Salad <BR> <link><BR>Spaghetti-Salad </link> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Crab Pasta Salad <BR> <link><BR>ta-Salad </... Thu, 16 May 2013 09:07:24 EST Fashion 101 Now that I've lost weight, it's time to get some new clothes! I'm at the point where I can no longer wear my old clothes that are really baggy on me. So I've decided that the best place to start is with the basics. I've been doing some "research" (aka. Fashion 101) through internet searches and the websites of my favorite magazines (InStyle is my absolute favorite go-to) and seeing what those in the know consider to be the basic items that women should have in their wardrobe. I think that's a... Wed, 15 May 2013 21:40:51 EST Trip To The Urgent Care Clinic! Today was kind of a scary day for me. I had a sore throat when I woke up this morning, but I didn't make a big deal out of it. I grabbed a handful of throat drops and stuck them in my pocket on the way out the door. I just figured I was getting some kind of bug that was going around, and hoped that I'd be well enough to finish out the work week. I honestly just shrugged my shoulders and didn't give another thought to it. <BR> People at work commented that my voice sounded scratchy. I told th... Mon, 13 May 2013 19:01:15 EST Support "The Girls" <em>390</em> <em>390</em> <em>390</em> <em>390</em> <em>390</em> <BR> First of all, in seriousness, I want to tell everyone reading this to make sure to do your monthly self breast exams and, especially those over the age of forty (you know who you are!), to get your annual mammogram. <BR> That said, I hope everybody gets my play on words of the blog entry title. I was doing some online shopping just now for workout clothes and other fitness items on I ... Thu, 9 May 2013 19:59:26 EST Get Off Your Rear End! <img src=""> <BR> I saw this and thought it was hilarious. More to the point, it should say, "Ask your doctor if getting off your butt is right for you." Can you imagine asking your doctor about getting off your rear end? They might have gotten a lot of crazy questions in all their days, but that might be a new one! <em>20</em> <em>67</em> Wed, 8 May 2013 14:32:11 EST Breakfast On-The-Go - Six Ways <img src=""> <BR> Berry Best Smoothie <BR> Have this with toast and almond butter when you're on the run. It doesn't get much easier than sticking this in a travel tumbler. <BR> <link><BR>st-Smoothies </link> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Granola-To-Go Bars <BR> Granola bars are an easy go-to for any time of the day. Double or triple the recipe ... Tue, 7 May 2013 08:52:52 EST What should I keep in my gym bag? I've joined a gym with a locker room and shower facilities. So, what should I keep in my gym bag? I have an idea of the basics, like a water bottle, hand towel, extra shoe laces, small first aid kit, deodorant and toiletries in small travel-sized bottles/containers. Should I include a bottle of hand sanitizer or wipes? What else should I include? <BR> <em>315</em> <em>324</em> <em>318</em> <em>34</em> <em>323</em> <em>322</em> <em>317</em> <em>414</em> Mon, 6 May 2013 07:52:06 EST Let's Salsa! May is National Salsa Month. We're talking the food here, not the dance. But, if you wanna dance, who am I to stop you? When it comes to the food salsa, it can be a very heallthy and nutritious snack. I have put it on top of baked potatoes with fabulous, and lower calorie, results. Now there's something to dance about! <BR> It is also National Salad Month and Gifts From The Garden Month, as well as National Asparagus Month, National Barbeque Month, National Egg Month, National Hamburger Month... Sat, 4 May 2013 23:35:43 EST I've Adopted - Sort Of! (Update: May 3, 2013) I sent out my first package to my "adopted" military member! For the sake of safety, I'd rather not say where she is and, for the sake of this blog, I'll call her Jennifer. She's in the Army and has a canine partner. For the sake of this blog I'll call him Ace. <BR> A little bit about Jennifer & Ace: <BR> Jennifer shares barracks room with two other female soldiers. There are separate bathroom and shower facilities; also a laundry room with washers and dryers. They have air conditioning/heat... Thu, 2 May 2013 23:59:20 EST Call Me "May"-be! May is... <BR> Better Speech & Hearing Month, Family Wellness Month, Foot Health Month, Gifts From The Garden Month, Healthy Vision Month, Meditation Month, National Allergy/Asthma Awareness Month, National Arthritis Month, National Asparagus Month, National Better Sleep Month, National Bike Month, National Egg Month, National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, National Mental Health Awareness Month, National Osteoporosis Prevention Month (I'm starting the SP Motivational Calendar "31 Days... Wed, 1 May 2013 07:26:57 EST Leading A Sparked Life I am always so happy to encourage and help my fellow Sparkers! <em>252</em> Whether it's helping a new member in getting started on their path to better health <em>306</em> , answering inquiries on SparkTeams message boards <em>38</em> , giving Goodies to my SparkFriends <em>223</em> , or offering helpful advice and encouragement on SparkPage member blogs <em>386</em> , I find joy in doing so <em>67</em> . I've learned so much from SP and other SP members that I love to share.... Mon, 29 Apr 2013 19:59:04 EST Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover I just had a fabulous camping weekend! Besides the fun of canoeing, fishing, hiking, and just camping itself, I so enjoyed just being out in nature and enjoying some fresh air. A lot of people are surprised to learn about me that I'm an outdoors type of girl. My dad taught me to fish when I was only two-and-a-half years old and I've enjoyed camping, canoeing and hiking since summer sleep-away camp (last two weeks of July) back when I was in elementary school. Because I grew up in a major city... Sun, 28 Apr 2013 23:55:15 EST The Great Outdoors This weekend my boyfriend and I are going camping. I've gone camping before, but haven't been in a while. I can't wait! It reminds me of the commercial where the woman is appalled that her son and daughter-in-law are going camping in an RV. She doesn't think that camping can be romantic. I beg to differ; I get my boyfriend all to myself without any other distractions! <em>129</em> And there's just something very, um, primitive (shall we say!) about sleeping out in nature and sharing a tent... Fri, 26 Apr 2013 09:00:12 EST I've Adopted - Sort Of! I'm so excited to say that I've "adopted" a member of our military. As a sponsor, I am to send a card/letter to my military member once a week and send a care package once a month. I feel so proud to be able to show our military women and men that, yes, patriotism is alive and well back here in the United States and that we have not forgotten about them. Again, I have to say I'm so happy about being a sponsor to a proud member serving in our military! <em>232</em> <BR> I'm also sponsoring... Thu, 25 Apr 2013 19:52:38 EST Kudos To Carrie! I was just reading an interview that Carrie Underwood did on Rachael Ray's magazine website. Carrie basically gave a play-by-play of a typical day in her life. I was happy to see that Carrie works out, keeps a food journal (and has for six years), cooks at home with her husband, includes snacks in her healthy eating plan (she's a fan of almonds, just as I am!), packs a lunch, eats out (she loves Subway!), does her own grocery shopping (she even clips coupons!), allows herself treats (chocolat... Tue, 23 Apr 2013 23:30:45 EST 42 On this date in history, over sixty years ago, Jackie Robinson became the first African American major league baseball player. Today, every MLB player will be wearing the number 42 as their uniform number in honor or Mr. Robinson. His player number is the only one that has been officially retired across every major league baseball team. Let us never forget the accomplishments those before us have achieved and the struggles that they endured to make our nation what it is today. The United Stat... Mon, 15 Apr 2013 10:43:11 EST Lessons From An SP Rookie- One Month SparkVersary I had my One Month SparkVersary yesterday and, after the support I received from some SP members, I really think I am now ready to go full steam ahead with reaching my goals. It won't be easy, but I think I am better prepared now than I've ever been. So, here is the top twenty-five of what I've learned in my first month as a Rookie SP Member: <BR> 1. Probably the hardest lesson I've learned is that not everyone will be happy about my weight loss. This one is really tough for me, since I autom... Thu, 11 Apr 2013 09:22:44 EST A Bright Idea! <img src=""> <BR> <BR> "Energy and persistence conquer all things." <BR> - Benjamin Franklin <BR> <BR> Make today electrifying! You hold the key! Soar high! <BR> <BR> <em>54</em> <em>381</em> <em>189</em> <BR> Tue, 9 Apr 2013 07:45:02 EST My Spin On Restaurant Food I really don't go out to eat at restaurants all that often, as I prefer to cook and eat at home. Over the weekend I had a taste for Italian and remembered how much I used to love Olive Garden so much. Specifically, what drew me in was their Seafood Alfredo (fettuccini, alfredo sauce, scallops and shrimp) and the Tiramisu for dessert. When I looked on their website to see the nutritional values listed for those items I was absolutely floored! I was for sure convinced that I could make a very s... Mon, 8 Apr 2013 08:31:47 EST Spreading A Spark Of Inspiration <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Every single day you have choices. Choose to be happy. <em>30</em> <em>67</em> Sun, 7 Apr 2013 22:35:10 EST Feeling The Burn I worked out yesterday for the first time with a four pound kettlebell. Believe me, I'm feeling it today! My upper arms and especially my back were sore. Not really bad, but sore none-the-less. I've been doing my resistance and weight training twice a week and those are the days I also do my more ramped up cardio, like Turbo Jam and Zumba, and ab/balance/core workouts. I do at least a half hour of yoga everyday and, with that on days after resistance/weight training, I also do light cardio (s... Thu, 4 Apr 2013 23:19:01 EST Remix Today was a high energy day for me, so I decided to take advantage of that. I upped the intensity/speed, as well as duration (adding fifteen minutes), to my treadmill cardio early this morning and I also added fifteen minutes to the exercise bike this evening, so I'm pretty happy about that and I feel really good. <BR> I'm also pretty happy about having added songs to my workout playlist from J.Lo (On The Floor), Kanye (Stronger), Katy Perry (Hot & Cold), Lady Gaga (Just Dance), Pitbull (Don... Tue, 2 Apr 2013 23:29:00 EST Mixing It Up In all, I think that I did really well with my food choices yesterday. I went just a little over on my mashed potatoes, but I also made a good choice by only having one slice of homemade bread. That was amazing for me because I really love homemade bread so much, and normally I would have two or three slices. Also, I didn't put butter or any other spread on that one piece, I just ate it plain. My downfall was the chocolate Easter candy. However, I am picking up right where I left off with my ... Mon, 1 Apr 2013 21:52:40 EST Happy Easter! I just want to take this opportunity to wish all of my SparkFriends and fellow Sparkers a most blessed, happy, healthy and safe Easter Sunday holiday! I hope that the day finds you all in God's graces and I send you all my best for many blessings! John 3:16 <BR> <em>67</em> <em>451</em> <em>448</em> <em>450</em> <em>449</em> Sun, 31 Mar 2013 08:04:36 EST What We Can Learn From March Madness I once read a motivational poster that said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." - Wayne Gretzky. My mind went back to that quote as I was watching the beginning of the Sweet Sixteen NCAA Basketball games. Many people think that to have what they want out of life can only be achieved by wishful thinking. In reality, to have what you want out of life takes action, attitude, commitment, courage, hard work, motivation, passion and persistence. You have to begin by crossing the start lin... Fri, 29 Mar 2013 23:56:11 EST Motivation By Any Other Name It goes by lots of names: motivation or vision board, dream, goal or inspiration poster. Whatever you choose to call it, it could be just the boost you need to reach your goals. Wondering where to start? Here's some ideas: <BR> <BR> - Use what works for you. Your motivation board could be an online dream board (such as O Dream Board @, poster board, a sheet of paper, a cork board or a magnetic board. It you choose to regularly change or move what is on your board, it might be best... Thu, 28 Mar 2013 07:48:31 EST You Learn Something New Everyday! So I've been doing a little internet research on this whole iron and potassium thing. Turns out that the biggest deficiency that the world population has as a whole is iron deficiency (with potassium deficiency not far behind). So it's not just me! LOL I also read that it's the simplest of things that I can do to remedy that (for me, anyways!). Certain dried fruits, nuts and veggies have iron, and some also have a good amount of potassium as well. All I have to do is add those things into my ... Tue, 26 Mar 2013 23:58:48 EST Balancing Act When I started tracking my numbers at the beginning of my journey, I didn't know that I actually had daily eating deficiencies in iron and potassium. So I looked into, and started eating, a cereal that was iron fortified. Now, my Daily Nutritional Feedback Report says that I'm over what I'm supposed to have for daily iron consumption! Ugh! And I'm still too low with the potassium! Sheesh! At least I know that these are two things in my diet that I need to work on. And I know the rest of my nu... Mon, 25 Mar 2013 22:05:49 EST I am only one, yet still I am one... "I am only one, yet still I am one. I can not do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something that I can do." - Helen Keller <BR> <BR> This evening (Saturday, March 23), from 8:30-9:30 p.m. EST, my boyfriend and I participated in Earth Hour. It's a global movement where everyone unplugs for an hour to raise awareness for the environment. During this hour it got my boyfriend and I thinking about what things we can do ease our impact on the environment. It wa... Sat, 23 Mar 2013 23:58:34 EST SOS - Share Our Strength Today marks the start of Share Our Strength's Bake Sale For No Kid Hungry Campaign. Running now (March 21) through October 31 of this year, bakers of all ages across the country will be holding bake sales to raise money for Share Our Strength. Our office is holding a bake sale in the lobby of our building this afternoon. I have contributed Angel Wing Treats and Semi-Sweet Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti. Tomorrow, we are holding an office cookie exchange party for which we each paid ten doll... Thu, 21 Mar 2013 14:13:12 EST I've Earned Over 1,000 Points During My First Week On SP! I've started SparkDiet and can't believe how much I've learned from the articles on this site. The trackers on here are great! Everything I need to see and know are conveniently right in front of me in an easy to understand format. I tell people that the best places to get started on here are SparkDiet and Challenge Central. Then I tell them to set up their Trackers, SparkPage and Blog. Then check out SparkRecipes and SparkTeams. But the important thing is to get started! With this being the ... Wed, 20 Mar 2013 19:08:20 EST Lighten Up! I was always disappointed that I had all these cookbooks and great recipe websites, but none of them listed the nutritional information for the recipes. Now, you would think recipes listed on Cooking Channel and Food Network websites would have that information listed. But, then again, maybe not, because the calories are through the roof! Only select recipes have the nutritional values listed (such as those for Hungry Girl). I've been a longtime fan of FN and CC and have been known to watch m... Tue, 19 Mar 2013 20:52:35 EST Happy St. Patrick's Day! - Tips For Eating Out With St. Patrick's Day upon us, and Easter not far away, I decided to post some tips that I've learned for eating out without going over your calorie count. <BR> <BR> - If you know a couple days in advance that you will be going out to eat for a meal or treat, add an extra ten minutes to your workouts two days before that day and for two days after. <BR> <BR> - If you know the restaurant you will be going to, check their website's nutritional information and plan out your meals for that d... Sun, 17 Mar 2013 12:52:03 EST Life Is Good Today was Boo's birthday. For those of you who don't know who Boo is, he's a Facebook sensation who just happens to be a dog. Okay, we all know the dog isn't actually posting, but he, his pictures and "his" posts are still so gosh darn cute. At the top of his Facebook page, under his picture, it says, "My name is Boo. I am a dog. Life is good." Such a simple, but very true statement. Life IS good, and sometimes I think we "mere humans" lose sight of that. We tune in to the news or read it onl... Sat, 16 Mar 2013 23:48:24 EST