Posts Tagged ‘health’

My darling hubby, Scott, and I decided to do an impromptu trip to Byron, Illinois to a forest preserve there to do walk some trails.  It was our first time out there and we love to explore new places.  It was a nice change of scenery from the White Pines National Park outside of our home town, between us and Dixon, Illinois.  The Bryon trails are all grassy and wide, mostly out in the open prairie fields, so we got a lot of sun today…but no sun burns! It was very cloudy and windy today, even so we did sweat a bit and get tired since we probably walked about 3 miles.  We wandered sort of aimlessly along the trials since none of them are clearly marked as to what trail is which and blend into each other.

It was a beautiful, relaxing, fun time with my true love and best friend.  I will never find a better life mate and partner than Scott.

My hubby, looking so hunky. He looks so fantastic because he works out so much...Insanity, running, hiking.

My hubby, looking so hunky. He looks so fantastic because he works out so much…Insanity, running, hiking.

The Bryon Forest preserve is VERY large park with all the trials out in the open.  They also have a bike path, small museum inside the Garrett Center, and an observatory (for star-gazing!)  The park is alongside the golf course in Byron and has other buildings to rent out like picnic shelters. We came across a big fire pit surrounded by recycled plastic cement benches, were we relaxed a bit before heading home.  According to the brochures they have skiing in the winter and have ski rental…this might be a fun idea for a nice winter day.

A path bridge we didn't go to, but I loved how it looked out by itself. There is a trail out near that tree line, which is also the direction of the Rock River.

A path bridge we didn’t go to, but I loved how it looked out by itself. There is a trail out near that tree line, which is also the direction of the Rock River

A grove of trees we walked by.  Scott thought it had a Sleepy Hallow look to it.

A grove of trees we walked by. Scott thought it had a Sleepy Hallow look to it.
A little side trail we found to short cut back to our truck.  It got us to the fire pit we found.

A little side trail we found to short cut back to our truck. It got us to the fire pit we found.

A little grotto/ditch area we found on our side trial.  It looks neater in person.  I could imagine it being a little pond or even a "fairy" glen.

A little grotto/ditch area we found on our side trial. It looks neater in person. I could imagine it being a little pond or even a “fairy” glen.




My husband has been following the recipes in his Insanity workout booklet.  I have been trying some of them out myself, with an occasional tweak.  I found this stuffed tomato recipe to be pretty delicious just has it is, although I like eating just the tuna salad part.  I’m thinking of tweaking it a bit by chopping up the tomato to put in the salad part or on top as a flavorful garnish.  The following is the recipe and the nutritional breakdown:

  • 4 oz of water packed tuna (I have 5 oz cans of water packed tuna. When I drained out the water and weighed on my scale, it came out to about 3 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup of celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, chopped (I don’t see why you can’t use any onion you prefer, the red just looks pretty.)
  • 1 Tbsp. of reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. of Dijon mustard (Again, you could swap for a mustard of choice, adjust amount for taste.)
  • 1 large tomato, hollowed out (I simply sliced off the top, use the knife to severe the “meat” sections off the “wall” of the tomato, used my hand to wrench the “guts” out, used a spoon/melon baller/scoop to scrape a bit inside, and rinsed it out.)
  • 3 pieces of whole-grain Melba toast or 1/2 of a whole-grain English muffin

Combine the tuna, celery, onion, mayonnaise, and mustard in a bowl.  Scoop the tuna salad in to the hollowed out tomato.  Serve with the Melba toast or English muffin.

Nutritional breakdown:

  • 289 calories
  • 30 grams of protein
  • 21 grams of carbs
  • 9 grams of fat
  • 3.5 grams of fiber

As always, you can adjust a recipe to fit your needs.  If you don’t like tomatoes much, but still wanted the stuffed veggie concept, use a bell pepper! Not a fan of tuna? Swap it out for chopped chicken or turkey.  The celery could be changed out with chopped bell peppers or carrots.  I personally like the idea of adding some bell pepper to the current recipe, serve on the English muffin topped with chopped tomatoes and maybe a little parsley.  The recipe doesn’t call for salt and pepper, but we did at some pepper and pinch of salt.

I was just thinking this stuffed veggie concept would work great for a breakfast!  Take a small bell pepper, hollow out or half in 2 sections, length wise.  Stuff or top with scrambled eggs of choice… plain, cooked with other veggies, seasoned up, or with a meat.  Mmm…sounds so good right now!

…at least for me.  My husband, Scott, is still going strong.  Monday will be Day 15 and the second fit test session.

What happened to me, you ask?  Sigh…I tried doing the second day’s video and just failed, horribly.  I am not ashamed to say I cried in frustration at not being able to do it.  Scott reminded me that I am not physically active person, I don’t workout daily like he does and has been for over three years (he does no less than 4 times a week, usually 6 times).  Even he has a hard time keeping up with the videos!  I just, ugh, wanted to be able to do it, to take on the challenge and conquer it…just not going to happen right now.  I have to go about the physical aspect of my healthy lifestyle differently.

We are both doing the recipes that came in the booklet with the Insanity DVDs. Scott is following them almost to a perfect T, but I’m fudging them a bit here and there.  An example is the Turkey BLT.  It says to have the turkey bacon, lettuce, and tomato on two slices of whole wheat bread, which he does exactly that.  I do it on a whole wheat hamburger bun with a smear of light mayo on each half, less than half a tablespoon total, WAY less…and today I added a very thin slice of provolone cheese.  Another aspect is that he is to eat 5 meals a deal, spaced out about 2-3 hours.  This is actually what many personal trainers tell you to do these days.  It helps keep your metabolism going all day long…it’s a matter of WHAT you eat and the portions.  Since I’m not doing the Insanity workout, I’m sticking to 3 meals, with lighter snacks in between.  Two of his five meals are really more snacks, but larger portions.

I have decided to just practice on my running and training to do some 5k’s and mud runs this year.  I have yet to sign up for them, waiting for that IRS refund still and getting a job.  Either way, I want to do ONE 5k this year and at least jog 80% of it, even if it’s a slow jog.  My hubby got me a new pair of shoes to run in, as my other pair really aren’t fit for the job any more, besides they were more walking shoes, then running shoes.

I will get my tush in gear with a daily workout, I will have it in effect by the end of May!  Onward to self-made destinies!

I call this salsa-pepper salad mix “Pepper Melody” and very versatile. My darling husband LOVES this mixture. I originally came up with it because I wanted to make mini-pizzas using whole wheat English muffins for the crust, but wanted healthier toppings besides the usual sausage and pepperoni.  I rarely eat pepper, olives, mushrooms, and onions on my pizzas. It’s largely because I’m a texture person…I don’t like how most people put on these large chunks of these toppings.  I like my minces or chopped finely.

Well, I got peppers (red and green), a can of minced olives, and small onion.  I chopped vegetables up small how I like it.  I then realized instead of individually putting each topping on my mini-pizzas, I could mix all these ingredients together first!  I instantly loved the way it looked, so bright and cheery.  It tasted extremely well. I think the olives really bring out and add to the flavors of peppers and onion.

A close-up of my Pepper Melody. A little blurry, sorry!

A close-up of my Pepper Melody. A little blurry, sorry!


While enjoying my mini-pizzas, I thought upon my Pepper Melody and came to the thought that it could be very versatile for many meals. My husband loves to put in his salads! It would work great for stir-fry, soups, tacos, salsa…anything your imagination takes you with it!

I know, I know…you want to know the base recipe right? Well, here it is!

  • 1 large green pepper
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 small can of minced olives
  • 1 small (or half medium) onion

Just chop up the veggies and mix! Simple, right? Just a few minutes of your day!

Pepper Melody

Pepper Melody

Now sometimes you may end up with red peppers larger than the green (or vice versa ), this is okay! If your doubling, tripling, and so forth, the recipe just use less of the larger pepper…or all of it!

The best thing about this mixture is you can easily adjust to your tastes.  Add mushrooms, add yellow or orange peppers, swap an item for another! I suppose you could also season it, but I suggest tasting with different meals before you do.  Yes, can freeze this beautiful melody. I just did so today for the first time.

I made a HUGE batch of Pepper Melody today.  I originally brought:

  • 5 green peppers, normal sized (.69 a lb or $3.45)
  • 5 red peppers, large ($1 each, on sale)
  • 5 small onions (from 3 lb bag for 1.29, over a dozen in the bag)
  • 5 small tins of sliced olives (.88 each)

My husband helped me make it up today, because he was so eager to have some for his salad. (He actually looked at me with puppy eyes, side glancing at the peppers…LOL!). I had him put the olives in my manual food processor (from Pampered Chef) to mince up.  He did the same with the onions (faster and less tears!). I chopped up the peppers, which he jumped in helped with.  AS we chopped, we occasionally mixed up the mixture to decide if we had enough peppers in it. When we were done, we had 1 and half large red peppers left and 2 green peppers left, plus the “tops” of 7 of peppers. (I sliced off the tops and ripped out the guts like you would to make stuffed peppers.)

My husband used some immediately for his salad.  I decided to try my hand at making some mini-breakfast burritos. I had 4 packages of small tortilla shells (paid $2 for 4 after sale and doubled coupon). I used only package, the rest are in the freezer.  I scrambled up 6 eggs with ground black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.  I laid out the tortilla shells and using a large spoon I scooped on egg to 7 shells and a scoop of the Pepper Melody. I folded each like a burrito. I ended up ripping 3 shells, so had to toss those and use another from the open package.  I froze 6 of the burritos using wax paper first, then aluminum foil, then put into baggies with a name, date, and cooking instructions (350 in toaster oven for about 10-15 minutes). I cooked one burrito up right away to taste test. It tasted good, but really needed a meat, maybe sausage or bacon. (At least for my tastes.)

I ended up bagging 3 cups of the Pepper Melody to freeze and still had about 2 times that left over to eat for the week.  The left over peppers I had chopped in to big chunks about 1 inch. I mixed together and then bagged 6 cups of this pepper duo mix to freeze (2 cups per bag). I knew we wouldn’t eat them anytime soon and refused to let it go to waste.  I decided to freeze them in large chunks, because I can use them for stir-fry at later date. (

FYI: I date all my bags with the day I bagged them and the amount in the bag. I also freeze them laying flat at first in my small freezer, then transfer to my chest freezer later.  Always freeze your bagged foods flat to save on storage space…fruits, vegetables, soups, etc.  Once completely frozen you can stand on end in a basket or file away like magazines or books.

Please, enjoy my Pepper Melody! Make it your own!


Vitamin packets…vitamins period…are a staple in the majority of people who are on the healthier life journey.  Typically people will just buy prepackaged vitamin packets that come in a box of so many like 30-40 packets.  You can buy them at places like GNC or other health/vitamin stores, Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, and probably any other large chain of stores.

If you’re not sure what I mean by vitamin packets, I’m talking about these little pockets or envelopes that hold about 10 or vitamin and mineral pills.  They are often well-rounded out including pills for immunity, energy, weight loss, etc.  Plus, they are often expensive. My husband buys a box from GNC…Physioburn, I think.  It can cost around $50 with no sales, specials, or coupons.

I think the vitamin packets are great, I really do.  It’s a great way to have all your vitamin and minerals in one spot to just snatch up and go.  You can toss it your purse or pant pocket on the way out the door to take when ever you plan to.  My only issue is the cost of the store-bought boxes of these packets.  I have been saving conscious for months now, even more so since both my husband and I lost our jobs.

I hit upon the idea of making my own packets using snack size sandwich bags and from a variety of vitamin and mineral bottles of pills. The baggies cost me about $1.  Each bottle of pills cost me from $1 to $3…about average of $1.25 a bottle.  I have a 11 pills in my bags from 9 bottles.  I purchased my vitamins and minerals from either dollar type stores or using coupons with sales.

The 11 pills I have are:

  • 1 Prenatal/multi-vitamin (trying to get pregnant, helps build up my reserves for IF it happens…been trying for years now. Besides always good to take a well-rounded out multivitamin daily).
  • 3 Papaya extract pills (digestive tract health)
  • 1 Omega-3 Fish Oil (heart health)
  • 1 Green Coffee Bean extract (weight management)
  • 1 Magnesium (nerve & muscle health, also helps combat end of period headaches for me )
  • 1 Ginseng (stamina and energy)
  • 1 Zinc (immune health)
  • 1 B12 (energy & metabolism)
  • 1 Cinnamon (sugar metabolism…diabetes runs in my family…typically in older ages, I don’t have now, but did have gestational diabetes which makes me more prone to early onset).


The best thing about making my own vitamin packets is that I can adjust them to my personal needs.  For an instance some prepackaged ones have iron pills in them. I can’t have too much iron or it causes me serious digestive issues; so in my packets I don’t include one.  Another example is the magnesium, this mineral pill may not be in the store-bought packages, but it’s very helpful to me with headaches especially at end of my menstrual cycle.  I need to add a pill or two that promote eye health.  I have a history of macular degeneration of the eyes in my family via my dad’s side….basicaly I could blind in one or both eyes in my old age.

I use snack baggies, but you could use anything that works for you.  A pill reminder tray with Sunday through Saturday marked on them…this would be good for those who can only take certain vitamins on specific days because of medication being taken.  Empty and CLEANED Chapstick tubes or those “to-go” aspirin tubes.  Those tiny bags you can get in craft stores to put beads and such in.  Tic-tac containers.  Use your imagination…any item that will hold all the pills you want for one packet and can be secured tightly will work.

MOTIVATION…the one thing that can make or break your journey to a healthier life.  All other issues are just an annoying itch to compared to this bad boy.  Every person who starts on the path to being more healthy always has good intentions and idea in their mind to do it, but motivation is the key to actually DOING it…your personal willpower to keep going in face of any obstacles that arise.  I have for many years looked at different motivation factors, advice, and tips for various aspects of my life…not just living healthier…but cleaning my home, being a better mom and wife, combating depression in different stages, completely personal projects, and so forth.

It dawned on me one day that in order for me to be motivated in ALL aspects of my life, I need to be motivated and stick with a healthier life.  My thought was if I feel better about myself…mind, body, and soul…then I will be more motivated to keep up with and improve upon other areas of my life.  Yes, it’s true…the quality of your life begins and ends with YOU.

I am going to discuss several motivators that have worked for me over the years and that I still bring out of the closet use from time to time.  I tend to get bored with the same method continuously, so having a few other ideas stockpiled for use helps.

The first one I will start with is one that has worked not only for me, but also for my husband (I like to think so anyways).  I originally called the “Healthy Lifestyle Wall” because my intentions was to just use a wall space we often go by in a high traffic area of my house.  I added a dresser to store health stuff in so it became “Healthy Lifestyle Center”.  This Center has multiple parts to it, so I think I’ll just make a list (by the way…I’m “list” person).

Healthy Lifestyle Center:

  • Dresser: I use this to put health stuff into like vitamin bottles, magazines, first aid, and even workout clothes. I also have writing utensils, small notepads, push-pins, etc in a drawer. On the top I keep a tray to put drop off stuff for the gym like membership passes, mp3 players, etc.  You could use any piece of furniture really…bookshelf, tv stand, etc.  You could also use it to lay out your healthy snacks, protein mixes, etc for the day or week.
  • Cork boards: I have 2 small square ones for tacking up notes for reminders of stuff like appointments, recipes, menus, etc.  Even tack up motivational quotes, pictures, etc.
  • Wipe-off boards: I WANT 2 small ones for my Center. One for daily use…daily goals, food reminders, etc.  Second one to layout the week’s goals.
  • Clipboards or picture frames: These I will have at least 2…one to layout goals to meet during a year’s time and another with goals by the month.
  • Calender: Must to keep track of appointments and events like 5k’s, mud runs, etc that you have signed up for.
  • Visual aid: These can be anything like pictures of clothes you want, a shadow box of something to reward yourself with, doctor reports, photos of yourself, etc. I have to word collage visual aids up…one is called “YES” and has words of healthy foods to eat and the other is the opposite “NO”.


I mentioned visual aids for my Center, but you could use these at any time and any place…even your cell phone or in your car. They can be any thing you want…just something that keeps you going.  One I want to try is taking 2 glass jars of any kind; label one with “Pounds to Lose” and the other “Pounds Lost”. You put in those little glass stones in the first jar.  You could use any color and size.  Possibly designate a color or size per poundage like a large stone could equal 10 pounds and small stones 1 pound each; or blue stones for 10 pounds, red stones for 5 pounds, and clear stones for 1 pound.

I have a couple visual aids that work well for me that I recently started using in last couple weeks.  I have on my desktop computer monitor screen a slide show background of clothes I like.  I selected them from a photo file I have on my computer called “Virtual Closet”.  Clothes, I have discovered, is one the main motivators for me.  I want to be able to purchase clothes without worry about how it will fit across my bulging stomach.  My other visual aide is very similar but I do it in the gym! I take a magazine along or use one from the gym. I open the magazine to a picture or article that is motivational to me at that time and place on the display screen of whatever machine I’m using…treadmill, bike, and so for.  This method has a double punch! It not only gives me a visual aide, but by hiding the display I am not distracted by the time and numbers that tick away on the screen.  I don’t start getting bored because I see how much time I have left or get discouraged because the screen tells me I only burned 80 calories.

Photographs of yourself as a motivator. This is one that works well for many people and one I hope to utilize once I have a better camera (my current one makes pictures slightly blurry due to being an underwater camera).  My method with self photos and one I used with my hubby (he loves this method) is to take 3 separate photos…front, back, and side (or both sides if you want).  It’s best to have somebody take the photos for you and to wear minimal clothing to see as much of your natural body as possible.  The next step is to retake the photos every 30 days.  This is a great method (and the reason why my husband loves it) is that you can compare the different sets of photos in chronological order to see the progress you have made! You will also be able to easier which parts of your body you might want to increase focus on.

Diaries and journals are another motivator for many people. I often put this one off because I could never find a method I liked or just plain for get about it. I recently decided to try again. My current journal is very basic…weight, waist measurement, food, and workout.  That’s it! I don’t include calorie counting or nothing like that. I might include my sleep schedule or put the times I ate or worked out.  If you choose to keep a healthy diary, just experiment with what works for you…information to include, on paper, on the computer, blogging about it, Facebook page/group, etc.

Support groups are another good motivator.  You can form your own with friends or find one on the internet or check your local gym.  These are great, especially if you don’t have a support system at home or with friends.  You can find a group on the internet or social media and post about what health things you did or didn’t do, issues you’re having, etc.  Even if nobody responds, you can still post because it might feel like your being held accountable for your actions.

Let’s not forget the most important motivators that are around you daily…your family, children, friends, pets, and even co-workers.  YOURSELF and your health…period.  If it helps, have these people in your life…you, too…write down positive things about you and keep in a diary or tack up some place to view or put in a jar to randomly choose when feeling unmotivated.

There are SO many motivation tips and advice out there I can never touch upon them…and for motivator the various aspects of your life, too…not just a healthier lifestyle.  I know some other motivation techniques are music, books, and meditation. My only advice when it comes to finding ways to keep your willpower going is to do research with some trial and error until you find a couple that work.

I just started, seriously started, my adventure of living a healthy lifestyle only about 6 weeks ago.  I’m still learning and adjusting to what works for me.

My biggest issue is food.  I don’t eat a whole lot, but when I do eat, it’s BAD foods.  I’ve been looking for and learning alternatives to my favorite foods, like pizza. Mmmmm…pizzzaaaa!  I’ve learned how to make my own crust! Fresh made pizza is SO much tastier than frozen, store bought and WAY healthier…definitely tastier and healthier over take-out pizza.  Even if I choose not to make a crust I use multi-grain or wheat English muffins to make mini-pizzas…better portion control there, too!

I degress…rambling on pizza…no need to wander off in my head there.

Besides learning to wrestle my food into better options, I have been looking at workouts and exercises that I want to do.  I like having a variety so I don’t get bored.  I’m also working on moving my body more often, not just in the gym, but at home.

Motivation…MOTIVATION…one of the hugest obstacles that I and many others deal with daily to keep going on our healthier lifestyles. I have over the years come across several ways to keep one motivated and created a few of my own…photographs, charts, diaries, healthy lifestyle wall/centers, music, visual aids, etc.  In fact, I think in the category on my blog, “Healthy Lifestyle”, I may write a few articles on some different motivators.  Some have worked for me in the past, work for me currently, and some I haven’t tried.  Maybe one of them will work for my readers!

All I can say is trying to live a healthier life in today’s society acceptance and economy can be difficult…BUT…it is doable.  Heck, even with a budget, you can still do it with little or no money.  Any money you do put into it, remind yourself it’s a long-term investment…your combating future health problems that could send you to doctors, emergency room, surgeries, etc.  A little money spent now to eat healthier and move that body is MUCH cheaper than spending thousands of dollars later for health concerns that could have been prevented with living healthier.