Category Archives: Paleo & Primal

A Great List

Clearly, blogging is no longer a regular hobby of mine. Changing back over to public school teaching has sucked up most of my available time. The time I used to spend cooking fun, new meals and creating blog posts are now replaced with 11 hour work days that involve lesson planning, creating materials, researching strategies, and of course teaching.

I’m not mentioning all of this to complain. I love teaching, especially since I’m working in a public school teaching 8th grade English/Language Arts and social studies. I am, however, constantly busy and tired. Sometimes I forget to take care of myself and pay attention to my husband!

I’ve had a 5-day stretch with no students. Thursday and Friday were both professional development days, and today (Monday) we are off for Columbus day. (I think this is the first time in my life I’ve had this day off…it feels weird.) So I’ve finally had time to slow down, take some time for myself, reflect on how I spend all of my time, and write a fabulous blog list :)

A GREAT LIST…a list of great things :)

10. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

SO great. I’ve had my fair share of food fears over the years, and I think Ben & Jerry’s may have helped fix me! Under the premise of the diet culture, people are on an unending search for that “guilt-free” diet food that allows them to eat ice cream (or whatever sweet of your choosing) guilt free. Guess what? It doesn’t exist.

Low-fat ice cream, Skinny Cow products, and diet “You can eat the whole pint!” companies like Arctic Zero are doing us no favors. First of all, those products filled with chemicals and additives generally not allowed in other developed countries that often make us hungrier. Second of all, blegh! That is not ice cream!

I’m growing weary of references to “guilty pleasures,” “falling of the (diet) wagon,” and “cheat foods.” How about we just eat food we like? Have you had Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Fudge Core? It’s AWESOME. And there’s nothing guilty about it.

9. Nature

I miss New Orleans. But New Orleans does not have the lush, green nature that Georgia has. It’s everywhere. The neighborhoods are beautiful. There are trails everywhere. And the state is devoted to keeping its parks and pathways as pretty as ever. It’s also important to mention we’re a quick driving distance from beautiful state parks and the Appalachian Mountains.

Nature is good for the soul. A walk outside under oaks, maples, and pines the size of 10-story buildings can reset your mind and keep you focused on what’s important in life. Work problems, grad school problems, house problems, and other stressors all seem much less significant after taking the time to get outdoors!

chimney tops

8. Teaching

While teaching may be a large reason for the neglect of this blog, I do very much love what I do. It’s not easy. Textbooks are really a thing of the past, so teachers must recreate a curriculum year after year that’s engaging, rigorous, differentiated, and “just right” for their students. If you have more than one subject to plan, then everything is multiplied!

When you teach, you get to show students a whole new world every day. Middle school students are dying to be treated like adults, so it’s great when they are able to collaborate and problem-solve their way through the material.

7. Reading

If I wrote this post two weeks ago, this wouldn’t have been on the list. One of my favorite hobbies that I have ignored over the last few years is reading. Recently, I’ve only read young-adult books as I learn more about the best new authors for my students, but that’s significantly better than not reading at all!

And actually…young-adult literature is great! The stories always deal with difficult issues, and you know the story line will be engaging :) The best can be found on the “National Book Award” list or any banned book list! The one I read most recently for my class is called The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexi. This novel is about a Native American boy who is trying to escape the cycle he sees on the reservation. He leaves his reservation to attend an all white school, and he struggles to find acceptance at school and at home.

If you have a middle schooler (or you just like to read good books), I highly suggest it :)

part time indian

6. Me time

This is something that comes rarely these days. How do people with children find any time for anything????

At the beginning of this year (August…I count time in school years!),  I was able to have some me time during my long runs when training for the Smoky Mountain Half. That’s it. Maybe an hour or more.

Fortunately, every teacher becomes more efficient as the year goes on, and lesson planning takes up less and less time each week. I’ve had some time here and there to just watch a TV show, go for a walk, or read. And today, because I’ve had 5 student-free days, I get to blog!

Be sure to take some time for yourself away from everything. It’s important that we have this time to keep us grounded and remember the things that really matter.

5. Body Love Movement

Isn’t the Body Love movement great! It’s great! As someone who has always felt that I should eat/look/dress/be a certain way, the self-love movement that is currently blasting through the media has given me the opportunity to reflect on these ideas that I’ve had in the past.

Listening to body-love activists— Summer Innanen, Caroline Haagen, Stacy Toth, Sarah Ballantyne, and the many many others I’ve been learning from over the past few years—has taught me to stop focusing on arbitrary numbers that society deems acceptable. There is no perfect number for workouts, calories (sorry, calorie counters…restriction is a slippery slope), dress size, pants size, shoe size, or anything else.

We are all people doing the best we can. Sometimes that means I eat big Paleo salads and other times that means I eat Ben & Jerry’s. Both are great :)

Source: SummerInnanen.com!

Source: SummerInnanen.com!

4. Food

Life’s too short to not eat what you enjoy. For the first time yesterday I had an Ethiopian dish with injera, a spongy, delicious bread that is used to scoop up the entree with your hands! Was I going to let the fact that injera is made with wheat stop me from enjoying it? Absolutely not.

I still do the whole “Paleo thing.” I really do think it’s awesome, and I get a lot of happiness out of eating nutrient dense food. BUT when an incredible meal is set down in front of me, there are no rules. I will eat to my heart’s content. Because I can. No rules.

3. Exercise

It’s taken many years to exercise because it’s good for my body, not because it will make me look a certain way or create a magical number on a scale. Exercise is good for overall health…physical and mental.

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post with my weekly workout schedule. It contained two very challenging strength workouts and three cardio workouts, all of which lasted about an hour. There’s no way that kind of routine happens in the real world. (I checked the date…I wasn’t yet employed in Houston, which explains my excess of time.)

Walking is great (I wish I could go hiking every day of my life) and strength training will keep us young! But we must do it for holistic reasons…not because we’re watching a ticker on a scale.

stone mountain cherokee trail 6.27.15

Hiking the Cherokee trail at Stone Mountain

2. Sleep

Sleep is great. It fixes many problems. Enough said :)

1. My Husband

My husband is great. He takes care of me when everything seems impossibly overwhelming. He is my life buddy, and we tackle these new Georgia adventures together :) All of these things on this great list are greater when we experience them together.

Having someone so supportive and so loving of me at all times makes those challenging moments worth it.

hawaii birds

What things go on your Great List????

Staying Healthy on a Busy Schedule

Hello, again, my wonderful readers! I have clearly been M.I.A. for quite some time. Since August 3rd, my days have been lengthy and jam-packed with English, social studies, grading, data-analyzing, and all those other fun activities that come with a teaching job.

Returning to Title I public school teaching is great, but it requires an incredible amount of work. I’ve been putting in 10-11 hour days at school, and then I do at least an hour of more work once I get home. It’s a little nuts and makes finding work-life balance a challenge, but I love what I do!

Staying Healthy on a Busy Schedule

Once life gets hectic, it’s so easy to let everything else go. When I come home after a day of teaching on my feet, it can be nearly impossible to convince myself to go for a run, stand in the kitchen to cook a decent meal, or avoid the chocolate and beer calling my name.

Because I’ve had a past with unhealthy relationships with food and exercise, it can be easy to fall into extremes….binge eating or restricting, chronic over-exercising or an out-right refusal to ever get off the couch. Extremes are easy to fall into when I’m anxious and stressed, even over a job I love and enjoy.

So I’ve set up a few basic guidelines to moderate myself when I’m too tired to give food and exercise my full attention.

1. A specific exercise goal

smoky mountain half picture

Fortunately, I can’t actually be a couch potato that outright refuses to move once work has ended. Two months ago, Ryan and I signed up for the Smoky Mountain Half Marathon. We’re SO excited about this race because the scenery will be gorgeous and we have an excuse to spend a weekend in Smoky Mountain National Park!

I created a rough training schedule that requires only three runs per week, with the long run scheduled for the weekend. On a good week, I can add in an additional run or workout. (I’ve only had two good weeks out of my eight week training schedule…) Otherwise, three runs per week can safely get me to my goal. Sure, it won’t be my fastest half, but who cares? I’ll be in the mountains!

Take Action! Choose a short term exercise goal that encourages you to get moving! Maybe you can find a race a couple months away. Thanksgiving is about 3 months away, and there are countless Turkey Day races around the country! You could also choose to aim for a certain amount of push ups, complete a month-long squat challenge, prepare for a long hike on your next vacation, or try a new class at the gym.

Make a short term goal that will motivate you, and then celebrate once you’ve accomplished it! Short term goals are more manageable, and you won’t get bored before the challenge is over.

2. Shop Smart

fridge-001

Enough leftovers, salad mixings, apples, and eggs to last us the week!

Set yourself up for success. Get your grocery shopping done on the weekend (or on Monday after work when, like me, you run out of time) and go in with a plan. I try to plan three meals for the week. That will give me three week days’ worth of meals and a few leftovers for other dinners or lunches. We also have our staples: salad mixings, eggs, almond butter, apples, almonds, chips and salsa (for Ryan!), yogurt, and avocados.

With three planned meals and our weekly staples, there’s always something healthy to eat! Ryan and I also go out to eat once a week and don’t really worry about how “healthy” our choices are because the rest of the week is well planned.

3. Squeeze it in

12 minute athlete

Sometimes, life really doesn’t work out as planned and there is no time for a workout and no time to make dinner. Having a list of go-to ideas for these hectic times makes all the difference.

For quick dinners, I think it’s important to choose something you actually want to eat. Sometimes a salad doesn’t sound appealing, so I need to come up with another option. In my personal opinion, food IS more than just fuel. You should enjoy every meal! Here are a few quick and easy meals I enjoy:

  • Scrambled eggs and sliced avocado
  • Soup or chili
  • Giant salad from the salad bar at the grocery store
  • Rotisserie chicken

For quick workouts, the key is choosing efficient moves. Some days a run will do the trick. On other days, I don’t want to leave the house. Throwing together a short, super efficient circuit is a great option! Here are a few ideas:

4. Sometimes, Rest is Key!

Know your limits, and know when skipping a workout or having some wine and chocolate is truly the best option! Self-care is important, too. If you’re too tired, take a bath and call it a day. Watch an old movie or TV show, and give yourself a break. Rest helps you recharge so you can make better choices the next day!

Healthy & Easy Snacks for Teachers

Happy Monday! I had a WONDERFUL first day of work. This morning, McNair Middle school teachers returned to work for a jam-packed week of professional development and intense student data analysis–Woohoo!

So far, everyone I’ve met is incredibly helpful, generous, and devoted to their job. I very much miss my Luling crew and my New School crew, but I know I will love my new co-workers just as much :)

Of course, being the happy eater that I am, I have to turn today’s chit chat towards food. I don’t know about the rest of you teachers out there, but something about the schedule makes me SO hungry for much of the day.

I eat breakfast before work, and then lunch is about 6 hours later. Then dinner is about 6 hours after lunch. I don’t know about you, but it would take a lot of food to hold me over for six hours. Sometimes snacks are necessary, but those teacher lounge vending machines full of candy and chips aren’t doing us any favors. So in the spirit of a new school year, I thought I’d put together a list of healthy snacks that are easy to eat on the go…because we all know you have to sneak these foods between classes because God forbid you take care of your hunger needs like a real adult!  Anyway…

easy and healthy snacks for teachers

HEALTHY & EASY SNACKS FOR TEACHERS

PISTACHIOS

Pistachios are a wonderfully delicious and healthy snack. Shelling them inconspicuously during class might be difficult, so I suggest buying the pre-shelled ones. Compared to other nuts, pistachios are lower in calories, higher in potassium, and higher in vitamin K. A 160 calorie serving packs 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of fat. Those are awesome stats! (If you’ve been here before, you know that fat content generally doesn’t bother me. Blame sugar!) Pistachios also deliver significant percentages of essential vitamins. And last but not least, they are so yummy!

LARABARS

Okay…so I just made a comment about sugar a few lines above, so this suggestion should be adjusted according to your daily needs!

Larabars are made of 100% natural and normal ingredients. The coconut macaroon Larabar above has 8 grams of sugar per bar. That’s not great, but it’s reasonable. These delicious bars make a great on-the-go snack :)

I would, however, watch out for the original flavors. Apple pie, peanut butter, pumpkin pie, blueberry, and most other original flavors pack anywhere from 16g-25g of sugar per bar! Those bars are too tiny to pack that much sugar! Granted, the sugar in Larabars usually comes from dates. But this is why I said you should take a look at your own daily needs…do you exercise a good bit? Then it’s fine. Do you have a pretty low sugar diet? If so, 20g of sugar from dates may not be a big deal. Just do what works for you!

PALEO “GRANOLAS”

I love this stuff! I discovered Nograinola at my local Whole Foods in Decatur, GA. What is it actually made of? Almonds, coconut, prunes, carrots, and Himalayan salt. That’s it. It’s actually quite good :) You can buy one of two versions: unsweetened or sweetened with Stevia. I’ve only tried the unsweetened, and it’s awesome. It’s a great yogurt topper, it goes well with milk (like real cereal!), and it can be added to just about anything and complement the flavors. And with only 3g of sugar per serving, this snack is definitely a winner!

KRAVE JERKY

This one is a little pricey, but it’s quite good! Krave jerky can be found just about anywhere now…Walmart, random gas stations…it’s not a Whole Foods exclusive product.

All of the ingredients are a little different (meaning some do have added sugar), so read up and purchase the one that works the best for you!

And last but not least,

FRUITS & VEGGIES

A tried and true option, portable produce is obviously an awesome snacking choice. Next time you’re at the grocery store, grab carrots, grapes, apples, bananas, grape tomatoes, mini peppers, mini cucumbers (mostly found at Costco), or celery. Just pick something that’s easy to carry around and eat quickly!

Earlier today I bought pistachios and Uber Larabars to hide away in my classroom :) What snacks or back-to-school tips do you have?

Smoky Mountain Half Marathon Training!

Good morning, and happy Friday! I have a bunch of fun things to share today, so let’s get started!

FIG & GOUDA FRITTATA

Yum! The nearby Whole Foods has the most delicious figs in their produce section! I’ve been throwing them in to a bunch of my meals and snacks throughout the week.

The other day, I had sliced figs, Greek yogurt, and this new NoGrainOla snack I found.  NoGrainOla is made from almonds, carrots, dates, and coconut. It’s a perfect snack and is low in sugar :)

figs and nograinola

Then, this morning I had the brilliant idea to make a sweet frittata with figs, gouda, and cinnamon.

Here’s the quick recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 2 figs, sliced
  • 1 gouda babybel (or a higher quality gouda…I’m sure that’s better!), sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

Mix cinnamon in with scrambled eggs. Heat coconut oil in an omelet pan over medium heat. Pour in scrambled eggs and allow to cook for about one minute. Lay slices of figs and cheese into the eggs. Cover with a lid and cook for 5-7 more minutes, or until egg is cooked through.

fig and gouda frittata

Now that delicious food has been covered, let’s talk half marathon training!

SMOKY MOUNTAIN HALF MARATHON TRAINING

smoky mountain half website

Those who know me well know I LOVE the Smoky Mountains. They’re like a fairytale land, and I’m always in awe of the park’s beauty. So when Ryan sent me this race day video (which I included below!), we decided that night we should do the race. Here’s the catch…it’s in less than two months.

The Appalachians are so beautiful that I don’t even care that this won’t be my best race time. I’ll run slow and steady while enjoying the scenery. I am SO EXCITED.

Last week, I made a training plan that gives me eight weeks to train, not including a final easy week before the race. Take a look:

half marathon training plan

Those of you who are more seasoned half marathon runners might point out some mistakes or some abnormal training choices, but that’s okay. I’ll be running near the SMOKY MOUNTAINS. My plan is to run at least three times a week. I included two cross training days, one of which is an optional run day. So, sometimes I’ll run four times a week. I generally run more than that when training for a half-marathon, but because I’m not really in distance-running shape I want to be careful and not injure myself. (Last time, I ran on a stress fracture…not something I recommend.)

September is going to be packed! We have the race, then my brother-in-law and future sister-in-law’s engagement party in New Orleans the following weekend, and my parents come to visit us in Georgia the weekend after that! It’s a busy month, but we’re excited :)

What fun things are you looking forward to this Fall?