Elf for Health 2013 Recap

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First off – this challenge was AMAZING. Seriously, make sure to sign-up for it next year. (side note: please hold it again next year!!) I was sad to see the challenge end.

I had two amazing elves during the four weeks – one who ended up living very close to where I grew up, and another that lived in a different country. We kept in touch through frequent e-mails and gave each other tips. I learned a lot from both of my elves and they inspired me to try new workouts, recipes, etc. I hope to keep encouraging each other into the new year.

The Facebook group was also a highlight for me, as there were many elves who would post tips, successes, personal struggles, you name it! The group was a fantastic mix of people from all over the country (world?) and was very supportive and uplifting.  I’m so glad that Lindsay @ Lean Green Bean and Elle @ Nutritionella made this challenge possible, during a tough time of year for many to keep health in mind.

We had a different challenge every day for four weeks – my favorites are listed below.

ImageUnsubscribe: The purpose was to help clean up your email inbox from all of those unread, unnecessary messages. I had done this about a year ago, but was surprised to see how many I had somehow signed up for between now and then! Now my inbox is much lighter and I’m only receiving emails I actually want to read.

100 Burpees: I’ve never been a fan of the burpee; in fact, when I’ve taken classes before and they have been a part of the circuit, I’ve been known to groan. Because of this dislike, it had been awhile since I had done any – like over a year! I enlisted my husband for this challenge and we traded off doing 25 at a time (our living room is not big enough for 2!) and we got them done quickly. I think I will start including them more into my workout routine.

Operation BeautfiulOperation Beautiful: This was probably my favorite challenge. I put up post-its in several bathrooms near where I work with encouraging statements about beauty. It felt wonderful to spread a little love to others and I hope that the words helped someone out or made someone smile. On a side note, I was excited to still see one of the notes up 3 weeks later!

CircuitCircuit Workout: I love circuits, so this one was right up my alley. Many elves created their own and posted them on the Facebook page. I saved many of those for future use!

I truly enjoyed the experience and it helped me stay focused and ready to take on 2014. If anyone struggles during the holidays with health and fitness (or just enjoys these types of challenges, like me!), I would definitely recommend Elf 4 Health in the future!

~ Beth

(Note: Elf4Health Graphics from Lean Green Bean).

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Flexibility in the Kitchen on Christmas

Sometimes, I can get so excited about trying a new recipe that I forget to do something important – like read the entire recipe. This is what happened on Christmas.

I was really looking forward to making the Mushroom and Spinach Stuffed Tenderloin recipe I noted here and I really thought I read the instructions. I know that I read the ingredients because I went grocery shopping and brought everything home. But I realized that I missed a few key items when Christmas Day rolled around and I was getting ready to start prepping the meal. Such as – we don’t own a kitchen mallet and also don’t have any twine.

Ooops.

Since no stores are open (or none that carry kitchen supplies) on Christmas Day, I was forced to be flexible.

Flexibility is really key in the kitchen. I have really improved in this area, as I can remember several meals I made many years ago that left me extremely upset because I forgot an ingredient, etc. Now I know that I have the skills and the confidence in the kitchen to just find a way to make it work. (It also helps that my husband thinks that 99.99% of the foods I prepare are delicious and he isn’t critical of meal appearance).

So, what did I do? I utilized a small skillet instead of a mallet for pounding the tenderloin and while it didn’t get as thin as the recipe called for, it was workable. Instead of twine, I used skewers that we had in the house.

The meal may not have looked as pretty as the picture in the magazine, but it did taste good, and that’s what matters.

Also, I used a pork tenderloin instead of beef due to taste preferences, so I did end up having to cook it longer until it reached 145 degrees with a meat thermometer and let is rest for 3 minutes (per current food safety recommendations).

Here’s the finished product, with our side dishes for the meal (adjustment from original plan due to timing and family requests!)

Pork Tenderloin

~ Beth

A Week in Meals 12/23-12/29, 2013

There’s something about planning meals for the week that leaves me feeling ready to take on Monday. I also LOVE grocery shopping and hit up several stores on Sunday mornings, so I suppose that helps encourage the planning. This is a different week with the holidays, so we’ll have a little more flexibility on some days.

Breakfast:

I tend to not have much variation with breakfast meals due to time, but have been trying lately to make new items. (My old stand-by was typically whole wheat toast and natural peanut butter with a piece of fruit on the side). Last week, I made these Vegan Banana Oatmeal Bites that I found via Pinterest on FitSugar. Two of those plus a piece of fruit was a great source of energy in the AM!

In a similar vein, this week I’m planning to make Broccoli and Cheese Mini Egg Omelets from Skinnytaste. I’ll probably have to make a second batch mid-week so I can share them with the husband, too.

Lunches:

I like to batch cook items for lunches during the week, and supplement with side items such as Greek yogurt and fresh produce. I’ve got some quinoa, farro, and chia seeds in the pantry, and plan to pick up a variety of produce to cook with a mixture of those, black beans, lean meat, and seasonings. I’ll have to keep you posted on what I end up getting with a recipe – often it depends on what type of deals I find and what produce looks the best at the store!

Dinners:

  • Monday – Whole Wheat Lasagna Roll-Ups (from Wishful Chef) – I do plan to add some lean ground turkey to the tomato sauce. Spinach and kale salad.
  • Tuesday – Christmas Eve – “off” – meal with family that is being prepared by others.
  • Friday – Christmas dinner leftovers.
  • Saturday – Turkey and Bean Chili.
  • Sunday – Salmon burgers, sauteed veggies, and roasted red potatoes.

YUM! I am so excited to go grocery shopping for all of the items I need for this great week ahead.

~Beth

Six Things

Happy Friday!

I’ve been participating in the Elf for Health challenge over the last four weeks. It’s been a great system of support and motivation during these colder weeks leading up to the holidays. My elves have been encouraging, too, and very inspirational!

Today’s challenge is to share six things you love about yourself – 3 physical and 3 non-physical. I’m not often the type of person to brag on myself, so compiling this list took a little time. Here goes!

1. I’m a great mom to my daughter and wife to my husband.

2. I have lots of empathy for others’ emotions. I find it easy to put myself into others’ shoes, and I think that served me very well during my time as a clinical dietitian.

3. My hair! It’s crazy and curly and I used to hate it. Now, I love the way it looks – even though it’s unpredictable.

4. My eyes. I like their color (green/hazel) and the fact that they aren’t completely symmetrical.

5 & 6. My strength – both physical and emotional.

~ Beth

14 in 2014

Since I had my daughter, I’ve learned that finding time to exercise and be fit is not as easy as it was “pre-parenthood.” You would think that revelation would be nearly automatic, but it wasn’t. I would make plans to work out after I was done at the office and then remember that if I did that I would only see my daughter for about an hour before she went to bed. Obviously she is the priority – so the workout would be postponed to another day…or more.

I am not a morning person by nature, though if I have a goal I can get myself up earlier. That is why I’m so excited to be participating in the 14 in 2014 challenge!

The premise is simple to explain but does sound a little daunting – complete 14 races of any distance/type in 2014. Due to previous injuries and current ability level, 5K and 10K are the best choices for me right now. I’m also lucky to live in an area that has a lot of these – especially in the spring and fall, where it seems like there are 1-2 races every weekend!

I’ll be posting a lot about the challenge throughout the next year as I work on training and racing.

Wish me luck!

~Beth