Kitchen Appliance Obsession

I love small kitchen appliances. They fascinate me. They inspire me. They make cooking and baking easy and fun. The picture above shows a few of my appliances: KitchenAid stand mixer, KitchenAid food processor, Cuisinart toaster oven, Nespresso Aeroccino Milk Frother, my brand new Instant Pot (!), and SodaStream. Oh, I shouldn’t forget my coffee corner with the Nespresso and Keurig:

 

Or, my Christmas present obsession the Power AirFryer XL:

 

Hidden away I also have an air popcorn popper, a FoodSaver, and a Ninja Blender System.

For the past 2-3 weeks I’ve been feeling a bit blah about my weight loss journey. Not discouraged, but disconnected. I’d been thinking about buying an Instant Pot for a couple of months and this past week I placed the order. It arrived the very next day – even though I didn’t request any special shipping service. Was that a sign?

Did I need the Instant Pot? No. Did I want it? That’s a big old YES.

When it arrived I immediately unpacked it and read the manual from cover-to-cover. I was a bit nervous about how the whole electric pressure cooker worked exactly, but I was ready to explore what I’d been hearing and reading about this “amazing machine.” A friend of mine, Michele G., received one as Christmas gift. She’s quite an amazingly creative and talented person in many areas, one of them happens to be with food. I took her suggestion that I begin with hard-boiled eggs. They. Were. Amazing! I was so excited that I even gave one of them to another friend as a gift. My next Instant Pot adventure was steel cut oatmeal. Once again, amazing! Everything is so easy and tastes delicious.

I searched the internet for healthy Instant Pot recipes and stumbled upon a whole section in Skinnytaste.com (http://www.skinnytaste.com/recipes/pressure-cooker/). Score! I love her recipes.

I’m feeling much more engaged with my weight loss journey. Go figure. I’m going to go plan my next Instant Pot adventure.

What are your favorite small kitchen appliances?

 

Snow Day!

I am a public school teacher. I am a 10-month employee. I have built-in vacations throughout the school year. And, I have snow days from time to time. Today is a snow day! Usually “the call” comes between 4:30 and 5:00 AM, today’s call came early last night. That is a definite treat. No matter how the unexpected (or sometimes anticipated) day off comes I always feel excited – like 9-year-old, clap your hands, and jump up and down excited. When the call comes in the morning it’s sometimes hard for me to fall back asleep. When the extremely rare night before call comes there’s time to prepare for the celebration.

In my past I would have loaded up on comfort foods, grabbed a good book and movie, slept in late, and stayed in my PJs all day. It would basically be a day of eating and not moving very much where I’d end up feeling a bit achy and sluggish.

My new snow day reality is a bit different. I still feel all the excitement, I hit up the grocery store for provisions, and I sleep a bit longer than I would on a normal work day BUT my food choices have surprisingly adapted to my personal health goals and I seem to be no longer capable of sitting still for long periods of time. When on earth did this happen to me?!

My grocery basket last night included bananas, celery & carrots, blue cheese, Frank’s Hot Sauce, BOCA crumbles, Halo Top ice cream, PB2, Quest bars, and a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. Did I need everything I bought? Nope. But, I wanted options for making food on this snowy day. I’m seriously contemplating making Skinny Buffalo Chicken Strips (http://www.skinnytaste.com/skinny-buffalo-chicken-strips/) and Low Fat Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing (http://www.skinnytaste.com/low-fat-creamy-blue-cheese-dressing/) from http://www.skinnytaste.com – hence the celery & carrots, blue cheese, and hot sauce. The BOCA Veggie Ground Crumbles I like to have on hand for one of our favorite Weight Watchers recipes of Pasta with “Meat” Sauce (7 SmartPoints). I had my typical breakfast of a Shakeology protein shake with banana, but I did add a little something special with an Eggo Nutri-Grain Low Fat Whole Grain Waffle spread with PB2. As for the Halo Top ice cream, Quest bars, and Diet Mountain Dew? Total splurges of comfort. Will I eat them any or all of them today? Yes to the diet soda (and, yes, I know it’s really not good for me) but probably no to the other items. Right now I’m splurging on having a second cup of coffee with half-n-half – I’m methodical in measuring out 1 tablespoon for each of my cups of coffee.

I slept an extra 2 hours from my regular work day wake-up time of 5:00 AM. That felt wonderful! I also stayed in my PJs and leisurely prepared and ate my breakfast. Then, instead of heading for the couch and my warm blanket, I tidied up a bit and changed into my yoga clothes for my daily practice with Yoga with Adriene (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFKE7WVJfvaHW5q283SxchA). I feel awesome! When I’ve been sitting too long my Fitbit will buzz to remind me to get up and move, which I will do. I also see some serious shoveling in my near future. Of course I will mix this all in with reading (YOGA: Mastering the Basics – Sandra Anderson/Rolf Sovik, PsyD) and watching some Netflix (The Crown). All-in-all a lovely day.

I still have the excitement for snow days, but now I physically and mentally feel great after the day has ended.

I Accept

I am a WeightWatcher member and always will be. I love their Beyond the Scale program. I have always wanted to be thin – and in my mind that also meant beautiful. Now I’m beginning to understand that I already am beautiful and I need to place my focus on being healthier not only with my physical body but also with what and how I think about myself.

It’s hard for me to mentally move beyond the scale, but I know that’s what I want to do. My struggle with my weight is more of a struggle inside my thoughts. When I was a teenager I thought I was fat – such an unkind word, but that’s how it was back then – but when I look at pictures from that time period I really was not fat. I wasn’t exactly like most of my peers in body shape and size, but I was NOT fat. Unfortunately that’s when my mental struggle began and I didn’t realize that all of it was so tied up with how I felt about myself. I have about 37 years of beating myself up mentally to release! That sounds overwhelming – almost. You see, I have had every tool and person that I need to help me find my way. I always have.

My WeightWatchers leader and personal coach, Joanie C., is a great source of encouragement, motivation, and acceptance. She introduced Yoga with Adriene (http://yogawithadriene.com/) to me and yesterday I finished the 30 Days of Yoga program (30 Days of Yoga). It was an amazing experience. I feel like yoga is changing me on the inside and it feels great. Today I began YogaCamp (YogaCamp) and this 30 day program is adding a daily affirmation to focus on during the practice. Today’s affirmation is “I Accept.” How perfect that not only did I inadvertently begin a new routine that is placing focus on positive self-talk but also that it’s starting out with I ACCEPT?

I do, I accept. I am exactly who I need to be and I am exactly where I need to be right now. Just saying, “I accept.” releases tension that I’ve been holding inside my body. “I Accept” is helping me to do what I need to do and taking away the burden of “I Should.” I accept that I have everything I need and am exactly in the right place at the right time.

Whatever tomorrow’s affirmation may be, today I accept and I will return to this affirmation again and again.

I accept.

Preparation Without Perfection

“If you follow this plan step-by-step you will be guaranteed success.”

I have bought into that pitch more times than I want to recall. Now I’m much more skeptical of its assertion. Following directions and paying attention to details are definitely two of my strengths, I’ve had success following plans step-by-step. The problem I keep bumping up against is that it’s not possible for me to maintain that rigor of attention forever and I start to gradually slip in my level of success. Then I notice that my perfect efforts, process, success, etc. is not perfect after all. It doesn’t matter if it has to do with weight loss, lesson planning, reading, decorating, organizing, or writing a blog post, as soon as I deviate a bit things start crashing down around me. At least that’s how it feels.

My head tells me that if I do everything I’m supposed to do all will turn out as I want. My head also tells me that if I DON’T do everything I’m supposed to do not only will it not turn out as I want, but also I don’t deserve to have it work out because I failed the plan. I allow my lack of perfection to derail me and send me back to where I started. Why? Why do I do that?!

One area of my life that I have experienced great joy and success while embracing its inherent lack of perfection is performing on stage. There I can accept and allow the imperfection of being human to coexist with the high standards and efforts I practice to be an authentic, accomplished performer – with the proper preparation it’s perfectly acceptable to allow myself to be who and what I am at that very moment.

If I imagine my life as a beautiful tapestry with unusual threads running through it I need to keep my focus on the whole object and not fuss and pull on the threads that don’t seem to fit it the right way. Placing my focus and energy on the unusual thread will only make me pull on it too hard and perhaps destroy what is truly beautiful about the entire piece of art. Breaking those threads will weaken the whole tapestry. The whole is much more important and meaningful than those few threads.

I can see and feel those unusual threads throughout almost every aspect of my life, it’s time I stopped pulling on them. My intention: Preparation without Perfection.

Goodbye Christmas Tree

Today was my last morning workout in the peaceful light of our Christmas tree. I’m sad that we needed to take it down. I loved working out in the dark morning by the light of just the tree. So beautiful. So comforting. It was a lovely start to my day.

My routine has been to do my yoga practice first thing in the morning – another beautiful, comforting, and peaceful way to start my day. My Weight Watchers leader introduced me to a fantastic yoga program that she found on YouTube – Yoga with Adriene (http://yogawithadriene.com/). I love it! I’m currently doing her “30 Days of Yoga” program from 2015. I love how my body is feeling. I feel more centered and I’m finding that there are times during the day that I can focus on my breathing and it makes a difference to me whether I feel in or out of control. Yoga is one of the things that I love and make time to do for myself.

Yoga by twinkling Christmas lights is fantastic. The Christmas tree needed to be put away until next year, but the yoga can and will stay out all year-long. My Weight Watchers leader commented that twinkle lights can be used all year – no Christmas tree required. That sounds like a fabulous idea to me!