City Girl on the Farm

GoatOn the occasion that Hubbs’ parents are out of town, we pet sit for them. This doesn’t involve dog walking or poop scooping; they take their Jack Russell terrier with them. Twice a day, we head out to the pasture to feed three goats, a donkey, a mule and a dozen chickens.

Six years ago, this was all new and strange to me. Tip toeing out into the pasture and running from the goats was the norm. Now it’s totally normal, Everything is totally doable – except for refilling the large cans that hold the horse feed.

A bag of livestock feed (compacted hay pellets) is about 50 pounds*. To me, 50 pounds of The pellets are kept in a big can and refilled from the bags. Until a few weeks ago, I waited for Hubbs to unload the bags.

One evening I took all but 10 hay pellets to feed the animals. Knowing that I would have to come again in the morning before work and would only be slowed by scooping food directly from the bag, I decided to dump the bag myself.

50 pounds is too much for me to lift right now, but I wasn’t about to let my laziness today get in the way of my punctuality tomorrow. So I tore open the bag and, cup by cup, scooped about 30 pounds of feed into the can. Scoop by scoop, the bag became lighter and lighter until I could finally lift it and dump the remaining pellets in the can.

That’s how we lose fat. Ounce by ounce. Pound by pound. This un-liftable bag of feed weight just a little bit more than the amount I want to lose. While I just want to wake up one day and see it all gone, my weight loss is going to work more like my experience with the bag of horse feed.

So scoop by scoop I’m going to lose it.

* Correction – The bags are 80 pounds! Whoa!

How to Organize a Spice Cabinet

IMG_1133When eating clean, herbs and spices are pretty essential. The taste of plain chicken breast and barely dressed greens can get pretty bland, pretty fast. Fat me would add some kind of sugar or fat. Skinny me adds some savory flavor with calorie-free spices.

Hubbs thinks I had an infusion of caffeine. I think I like knowing where things are. The combination of needing specific spices and needing organization made me realize that my spice cabinet was in extreme need of order.

So here we go:

Step 1: Strip!

Take everything out of your spice cabinet. Put the bottles and cans on a flat surface (or surfaces if needed). Take advantage of the empty shelves to wipe them with a damp rag.

Step 2: Sort by Name

Group same spices together. Peppers and pepper medleys go together. Paprika and paprika mixes go together, etc.

IMG_1134Step 3: Consolidate

If you’re anything like me, you forget if you have the spices you need, so you buy them only to return and find that you really do have it. Take any duplicates and try to fit them into one bottle. This especially helps when cabinet space is limited.

Step 4: Sort by Need

My first inclination is always to sort alphabetically, but spices don’t work that way. When you are making tacos and you suddenly decide you need crushed peppers, you just want peppers, so it’s better to group spices by need. My spice cabinet was sorted into these groups:

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Group 1: the Basics: salt, pepper, oil, vinegar

Group 2: Spicy and BBQ: crushed peppers, mesquite seasoning, cajun seasoning, liquid smoke, other pepper medleys (we like spicy in my house).

Group 3: Baking – baking power, cornstarch, baking soda, various extracts, cinnamon, allspice, etc

IMG_1140Group 4: Common spices: paprika, basil, bay leaves, garlic powder, etc

Group 5: Boullion – chicken, vegetable, beef..duh

Step 5: Stuff!

Hopefully, with consolidation and some stacking, you can stuff everything back into the tiny space from whence it came. (Well, at least my first home was a tiny space.) Even if you have more space to work with, always leave room for growth.

Put Group 1 in the most convenient place. Being a short stock, this is the bottom shelf for me. I also took some of my most commonly used spices (spic pepper medley, paprika, garlic powder) on the bottom shelf. Salt and pepper are usually refilled from larger bottles, so I put the most grab-able bottles in front.

Put group 2 in the next most convenient place, and so on. This way when you see coriander in a recipe, and you know you don’t really use it, you know where to look. This also puts the spices that run out quicker in a more convenient place.

Step 6: Prepare for replacement

Put any spices that are gone or almost out. Make sure they are on your grocery list.

Here’s the final product – a neat and clean spice cabinet. For yay!

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Addicted to Pinterest

Man oh man have I got a problem!

There’s this online bulletin board, and it’s called Pinterest. You can find inspiration on many different topics. It really is useful…until you spend more time getting inspiration than you do being productive.

However, Pinterest is a great place to grab fitness motivation in the form of quotes, healthy recipes, and workout ideas. Of course, be careful of the promise for the workouts labeled “perfect butt in 10 days” because it may take more than 10 days to perfect your hinie, but it’s a good start!

So, I recommend Pinterest for fitness inspiration..but it’s up to you to actually stop pinning and start gymming.

Tortilla Soup

Hubbs is an amazing cook. As I try to write through the oncoming food coma that follows only the best of meals, I know that I am grateful for this.

Tonight I asked him to make tortilla soup. It was tasty. it was healthy. It had just the right about of heat. I can’t wait to eat leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

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I should not write on a full stomach.

Dropping Panties

Elasticity in underwear is pretty much a given these days. We wear underwear, it wears out, we get new underwear. However, I overlooked the importance of undergarment elasticity on one of my morning jaunts to the gym.

One of the things that helps me get into workout mode in the a.m. is that I wear my workout clothes to bed: sports bra, comfy workout pants, loose shirt – except for my Nikes, I’m covered. Thank goodness lots of gym clothes are comfortable enough to double as sleepwear.

So, bright eyed and bushy tailed, i hopped out of bed and made by way to my morning date with the treadmill. Usually, earlier gym sessions yield strengthened resistance and longer running times. I popped in my earbuds and started jamming at 9:50 mph.

Around the quarter mile mark, I felt my underwear dropping slowly. No biggie. I did a “is anyone looking” scan, and then corrected my underwear position as discreetly as possible. This process repeated itself a handful of times during the next few minutes.

I got so tired of doing this that I( eventually just figured that, so long my pants stayed on, my underwear settle wherever it wanted. There was no settling. Apparently, my panties wanted to escape.

Well, my undies may have won the battle, but I won the war. As I stripped down in the bathroom, I found that this pair of panties had been making it through the laundry cycle for 7-ish years. Despite their long life, there was no ceremony in my disposal of this wayward piece of clothing.

Loose lips sink ships, but loose pants hide a whole lot. This workout was finished commando style. Not my usual m.o., but you gotta do what you gottta do. No excuses.

Since then, my gym includes a set of extra, more sturdy briefs.

A Morning Workout

Mind over matter, mind over matter. Part of pushing yourself is prioritizing the goal in your mind and ignoring the pain. Mind over matter. This definitely works on the treadmill, but when it comes to getting my body out bed, matter outweighs mind 9 times out of 10.

On the days that I do complete a morning workout, I feel amazing. A recent article in health magazine said that morning workouts burn 20% more fat than gym sessions done later in the day.

Morning workouts to do few things:

  1. They get a fitness goal done for the day
  2. They get your circulation going
  3. They help you burn calories throughout the day
  4. They set your expectations of yourself higher – so you’re more likely to make good choices throughout the day.
  5. They get your endorphins going – so you feel better about life.
  6. They give your bragging rights (but you feel so good about yourself, bragging isn’t even necessary.)

I really, really love morning workouts. Hopefully my love for them will soon soak into my subconscious so that it’s easier to get up and do them..

I need workout inception…

A New Start

Sometimes it’s too early to rip off the band aid.

The past few months, I’ve tried numerous times to try things too soon. Daily gym times, sustained healthy intake of food, Mary Kay, anything social – all of these have been too much of a commitment.

I’ve decided to not be unhappy about my time off. Why? Because I feel that you need to fight through the hard times in order to be stronger. So many times since I started this blog, I’ve been surprised at my own abilities and my own strength. This challenge has really shown me how much I can withstand.  I hate that my mom is gone, but getting through this without learning a lesson is not something she would want me to do.

So here I am, nose to the grindstone – back at fitness.

Post 135: Oooh it’s Hot Outside

Residents of the Valley of the Sun are all familiar with two points in the year. I like to call them the spring and fall switch. The spring switch happened a few days ago – the first flash of unbearable heat that’s a preview into the summer about to come.

The fall switch is much nicer: that first day when it’s just a little cooler; the preview into the temperate and pleasant winter.

The spring switch reminds many people of fun trips down the river and long afternoons floating around in the pool, surrounded by friends. To me, May to September involves me running from one air conditioned place to another, downing water and reapplying sunscreen.

Phoenix summers are one of the main reasons I have a gym membership.  I’ve had too many cases of heat poisoning and dehydration to not be hydrated all the time. Actually, since I’m less likely to get mugged or raped by running at the gym than on the streets, I’m beginning to think that Phoenix summers are one of the reasons I know so much about fitness.

So…thank you unbearable heat?

Post 134: A Healthy Weight

So my mother-in-law Carol is right. I make it sound like I’m this big obese cow when I’m actually just overweight.

I’m kind of like a Corgi: short and good natured with a long stamina, but if you don’t run me I get fat fast.

But what is fat? What is a healthy weight? One Christmas, I traveled to my brother’s house and stepped on the scale. After losing 30 pounds, I was very proud of myself. I was 138, with a goal weight of 125. Well, my dad and my brother also stepped on the scale and they were also 138 pounds. Two six foot men! Underweight? I think so!

But to talk to my brother, if he gained 5-10 pounds, he would be healthy.

So, at what point can you call yourself healthy? Using a BMI chart doesn’t take muscle or pregnancy into account. Is is better to be muscular or lean? My healthy weight would be anywhere between 125-130.