18 April 2013


In light of all of the tragedies this week in the US and all the tragedies that go largely unnoticed around the world, I wanted to put out in the universe and the world wide web a little positive energy and message of LOVE. If there is one thing that the world will always need more of, it's LOVE, followed closely by ACCEPTANCE and FORGIVENESS.

Love your kids and tell them every day
Love your parent(s) and tell them regularly
Love your grandparent(s) and great-grandparent(s) if you're lucky to have them around
Love your siblings, best friends, and people you are fortunate to have in your life that genuinely care about you
Love your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend or committed partner
Love yourself and be willing to forgive yourself
Love your neighbors, people you don't know, people you just met and plain old strangers
Love those people who rub you the wrong way (better yet, pray for them)
Love the folks who try to cut you off in traffic. You have no idea what they're going through and why they are in a hurry.
Love people in other countries who have so much bigger issues than you do even though you'll never meet in person
Love those people you are still holding a grudge against from 5, 10, 20 years ago and forgive them
Love those who have different beliefs than you, that speak a different language than you, that look different than you do, that have more kids or less kids than you do or that belong a religion you know nothing about

I have always loved this quote, credited to Mother Teresa, and written on a wall in her children's home in Calcutta. 

"People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway."

If one person can take this to heart today and it inspires them to do something nice for someone else without expecting anything in return or to forgive one person, I would consider this post a success. 

And one more really inspirational quote to send you on your way today by the incredibly wise Martin Luther King Jr.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
I have no connection to the website this came from, I just really liked the image. And I do love you, just the way you are.

16 April 2013

A little more, a little less: Round 2

Much to my surprise and delight, my post talking about doing just a little more or a little less has been viewed often. So often, in fact, that it's looked at almost daily by someone around the world and overall has twice as many views and my next most frequented post!

First of all, I'm amazed that people actually look at the little blog site I've got going here! Thank you for stopping by, seeing what I have to say and making me feel like I know what I'm talking about :) Please feel free to leave a comment at any time or email me using the link on the right side.

Second, I love that this is the most popular post because it really encompasses what this blog is all about. The whole idea of Healthy Living for Real Life is that "being healthy" needs to assimilated into your lifestyle and your habits to be sustainable and that, even though its hard, it's totally worth it (and delicious to boot!). Crash diets don't work long term because you're subjecting yourself to unrealistic and unsustainable conditions. When you educate yourself and learn to start making better, conscious decisions, you really move along on your journey to healthy living. The popularity of one this post further justifies that this thinking has real merit (and that I'm not totally crazy, despite my husband's claims ;) ) and that other people out there are trying to make these small choices every day in their lives, just like I am.

So here are some more ideas for you. Remember, every little thing counts, good or bad. Try to increase your "good"s and decrease your "bad"s a little each day and your new healthy habits will fall into place.

A little more...
  • If you live within a mile from whatever store you're going to and the weather is nice, consider walking or biking there instead of driving. It'll be good for you and good for the environment and you won't have to worry about finding a parking spot. Plus, you'll build up some muscles lugging your purchases home.
  • Try a new vegetable. My sister, who avoided most all vegetables growing up, has declared each of the last few years as the "year of the ____" to force herself to at least be open to trying veggies more often. I think last year was asparagus. This year is the mushroom. A lot of times, childhood associations keep us from eating things that we think we don't like, or that we decided not to like as a child. Try them again and you might be surprised how much you like it now that your palate has changed and matured. This warmer weather is the perfect time to throw some veggies on the grill!
  • Read a book or watch a documentary to educate yourself about healthy living or personal growth. I have Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, and Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way on my to-read book list, as recommended by some of my favorite bloggers and their viewers.
  • Choose to words carefully. Choose to say "I don't [action you want to avoid]" rather than "I can't [action you want to avoid]". This simple change in syntax turns that thing you want to avoid into a choice rather than a limitation and you're more likely to stick with it! This article has the methods behind the study on this and it's fascinating!
  • Find someone with similar goals and join forces! Or, ask a friend/family member/priest/co-worker/anyone to hold you accountable. You could email/text them daily or weekly with what you have done and not done, ask them to check in with you regularly or even make some sort of penalty if you don't follow through what you've set up to do, like pay $50 every time you miss a workout! This article is really long but has some good points on realizing that willpower is a finite resource and how to help yourself use it better.
A little less...
  • Give yourself permission to stop worrying about things you can't change. By releasing your worries and anxieties, you make room in your life to think about things that really matter and put your energy into them instead.
  • Don't be afraid to say "no" if you are feeling overwhelmed by everything you have committed too. You're better off giving your full time and energy to a few things you really care about rather than a small amount of yourself to many different things. 
  • Use the off button. If you're like me and can't seem to find even 10 minutes of the ever elusive "free time", try to turn off those electronics that are your go to time wasters, like facebook, pinterest, video games, angry bird, etc. Try keeping them powered down and see if you find you actually have more time than you thought you did. The added bonus of not using electronic devices near bedtime is that your body will be more likely to drift off to sleep sooner. The light and stimulation from the electronics disrupts this normal process.
And lastly, in keeping with the adorable animal theme of the original post :)


13 April 2013


I was cleaning up around the house tonight and came across the card my sister sent me for my birthday. It's gorgeous and I wanted to share it with you. I hope you find it as uplifting as I did then, and did again tonight when I reread it.

In the power of wishes, hopes, and hugs.
That small things can be mighty,
And big ideas can be reality.
That anything is possible.
And most of all,
Believe in yourself.
I know I do.

This flower has nothing in particular to do with the card I got, but isn't it beautiful! Source

11 April 2013

On moderation

It might sound a little cliche, but one of my life mottos is "everything in moderation, including moderation".

The opposite of moderation. Source

People tend to go to the extreme when it comes to diet and exercise, as if small changes are insignificant. They aren't! And removing certain foods or food groups isn't necessarily healthy or good for you. Yes, we (Americans) eat too much salt. No, we shouldn't remove salt from everything we cook. I made bread one time and forgot to put the little bit of salt in it (1/2 teaspoon I think) and the bread tasted totally bland. Salt is a flavor enhancer and, used appropriately and in moderation, is not bad for you. Unfortunately, when you are not the one preparing your own food, it is very difficult to moderate things like salt and sugar.

Speaking of sugar...I love reading food blogs when I can, but some of the comments just drive me crazy!

     Got a few minutes? The parody comments on this recipe are hilarious!

Health issues aside, some commenters ask questions about substitutions (especially in place of white sugar) as if the recipe creator had not thought twice about what ingredients they were putting into that recipe. If the food blogger is anything like the ones I read, please respect their opinion and expertise that the amount is the best for that recipe (after various trials and experimenting). Second, white sugar, like salt, is not something that has to be avoided completely. Sure, most people eat way too much of it so there is good reason to scale back, but my opinion is, if you're going to eat dessert, eat dessert. If you are going to treat yourself to something sweet or "unhealthy", then do it in moderation and savor it. I generally don't buy low-fat or sugar-free or reduced-whatever food because the full version is going to taste better so I am likely to eat less of it, and it is also likely to have more of it's health benefits fully intact. The general rule is, the more processed something is, the less nutrition it maintains.

When things are made low-fat or reduced-sugar, a lot of times fillers are added in their place that are significantly worse for you that the original fat or sugar. I encourage you to do some research into the sugar and fat alternatives that food producers use these days to make these low- or reduced-fat/sugar/sodium products. You may be surprised at what you find. This page has some good points about why low-fat food can be bad for you and this one sheds light in to some foods that contain salt that you might not think of. Some things, like salad dressings, are actually easy to make yourself with ingredients you probably.

So what's my advice? Eat healthy, seasonal, local, flavorful food and you'll find you don't need as much of the other stuff anyway (salt, sugar, etc). Eventually, you might find that your tolerance for it has actually lowered. For example, I used to drink Code Red Mountain Dew and Venti Raspberry Mochas all the time back in high school and now, since I hardly ever drink soda, even Sprite is too sweet for me. This isn't to say I don't eat sweets, because I do every day, but I limit my intake and control how much sugar is in them by making most of them myself and being very particular about what I buy when I do purchase them. Eat whatever you want in moderation, choose healthy whole foods when you can, and really allow yourself to savor what you are eating.

And just a few other people's thoughts on the matter :)

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. – Voltaire

 It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato. – Lewis Grizzard

Did you ever stop to taste a carrot? Not just eat it, but taste it? You can’t taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie. – Astrid Alauda
One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. – Luciano Pavarotti

03 April 2013

How to eat more vegetables

We don't eat spinach very often but I recently bought a huge bag of spinach from Costco, so you can imagine how much spinach we're talking about. We've had to get a little creative to come up with ways to use up the spinach before it goes bad: puree for the baby, on pizza, with salmon on top, as a salad with walnuts, craisins and mozzarella. In doing so, I've also remembered just how delicious salads can be. I'm one of those crazy people who actually enjoy eating salads and I always run out of lettuce rather than toppings. Weirdo, I know.

But it reminded me that you eat what's available. If we have fruit and veggies, we (our toddler especially) ask for them and eat them more often. I try to keep them around because it forces us to use them up before they go bad since I (and my wallet)  feel bad throwing away produce. Here are my top three ideas of how to eat more vegetables.

Source: iStock

1) Buy them. If you don't have vegetables in your house, you will choose to eat something else. If you don't like eating them raw or dipped in ranch dressing or something similar, try using carrots, celery or bell pepper to dip into hummus, salsa or guacamole instead of pita or tortilla chips. Or cut up tomatoes, get some mozzarella and pour on some balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Or saute they up in teriyaki and soy and serve a stir fry over your favorite grain.
    2) Make them convenient to eat. Most often, the produce that ends up in our trash is still dirty and in the container we bought it in. When we wash grapes, take them off of the stems and place them in a bowl in the fridge, they get eaten within a few days. When they sit unwashed in the plastic bag they came in, that is usually where they stay. Some fruit and veggies shouldn't be washed ahead of time (berries and mushrooms come to mind) but many can be prepped and kept for days or a week or more. Here's a tip: keep celery in a container filled with water. This keeps it crunchy. Even if your celery has reached the rubbery stage, putting it in water in the fridge overnight or for a day will give it back its crunch.
    3) Now that you have veggies at home, plan to make something with them. Lots of people have their go-to veggie heavy dish, but if you don't, try one of these: spring pasta, soup, curry, salad of course, quiche, fried rice, pizza, more pasta, side dishes, chili, you name it. You don't have to have a vegetarian meal, but do try to feature vegetables more than you do currently (and I don't believe in hiding veggies in food). We have meatless mealsa few times a week, sometimes unintentionally, because we like to eat things other than meat, and meat is too expensive to be in our budget everyday. Honestly, we really don't miss it when we don't eat it.

    I'd love to hear some vegetable featured meals that other people make for themselves and their families. We're always looking for new recipes and flavors to bring into our meal rotation. 

    01 April 2013

    Knowing your limits

    This isn't about not pushing yourself too far. The limits I'm talking about are in your head. What thinking is engrained in your head that is keeping you from reaching your potential? Who's voice is actually talking to you? Is it a parent, coach, spouse, younger you, current you? Is your inner voice constantly bringing you down or is it lifting you up? Have you even really listened to it lately or is it just constant background noise?

    If you have a few minutes, this post about 7 destructive thought habits that can hold you back from living a happier life has some really great points, especially number 7. That website has lots of other great self improvement posts as well.

    Want some encouragement to tell off your negative inner voice? Click over here to read a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Lisa-Jo Baker. She's incredibly raw and honest in her writing that it can't help but move you in some way.