How to….. Eat Healthy on a Budget

Note: I wanted to talk about Food Inc. today..I really, really did. But I haven't managed to fully wrap my head around what it is I want to say (there is so much, where does one begin??) so I thought I would share this article with you. It's one of my writing samples but its also relevant to one of the key issues I took away from Food Inc. and that is the cost associated with healthy eating. I hope you like it!!

It seems that everywhere you turn there is a growing emphasis on nutrition as a part of a healthy and active lifestyle. Nowadays there is little doubt that a wholesome and balanced diet is good for your well being, longevity and ultimately your waistline but what about your pocketbook? Food prices across the country have been on the rise in recent years and healthy fare is no exception. Everything from apricots to zucchini have seen a noticeable increase in the last decade which can make grocery shopping for the cost-conscious consumer quite challenging. That’s not too say that eating healthy while maintaining a budget is impossible but it does take some planning:

Buy in Bulk

Non-perishable items like rice, grains (quinoa, couscous, and bulgur), dried beans, nuts and seeds are less expensive per serving when purchased in larger quantities. Stocking a pantry with these hearty dietary staples can save you both money and time when putting together a weekly meal plan.

Homemade- The Preferred Choice

Prepackaged meals may save you time but there is usually a price tag attached to the convenience. Making meals from scratch can lower your grocery bill while also allowing you to control the quality of the ingredients that go into your food. Double or triple the recipe for homemade soups, stews, chili and lasagna and freeze the rest for quick and nutritious meals throughout the week.

Buy What’s In-Season

Produce tends to be cheaper when it is in season because there is less cost associated with getting it from the farm nearby to your local grocery store. Planning your shopping list around those items which are available now can save you money and ensure that you get all the nutritional benefits of food that didn’t ripen on a truck while it was shipped from thousands of miles away.

Farmer’s markets and roadside stands in rural communities are other options that can also offer some of your favorite fruits and vegetables at better prices then many supermarkets.

Go Vegetarian (At Least Some of the Time)

For many people going meat-free is an ethical decision but it can also add up to huge savings over the course of the year. Eating two or three meat free meals a week should reduce the amount of money that you spend on food on a monthly basis as well as potentially providing noticeable health benefits over the long term. As an added bonus, less meat can also encourage you to get more creative in the kitchen and experiment with new foods and different recipes.

Dine In

Eating out at restaurants can be an enjoyable experience but it isn’t necessarily the best choice when being frugal or health conscious. One meal in a restaurant often has the same price tag as the groceries for several meals made at home and will more than likely contain more fat and sodium then the food you would typically prepare for yourself. Reserve dining out for special occasions and instead create an experience out of eating in by using decorative plates and table linens, lighting a few candles and playing soft music in the background. Alternatively, having a themed meal (Mexican Fiesta, Indoor Picnic etc) can be a fun way to engage the entire family without even needing to leave the house.

Pack a Lunch

Similar to dining in a restaurant for supper, eating takeout for lunch can have a negative impact on your health and your bank account if done too often. Bringing a lunch from home is not only a less expensive alternative but also tends to be the healthier choice. Nutritious eating on-the-run isn’t impossible but it can be challenging when you are in a rush during your lunch hour. You can save time by making bigger quantities of your healthy dinner the night before and packing leftovers for the next day.

Healthy eating is an integral part of a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle but it doesn’t have to be a financial burden. Learning a few quick and easy cost-saving tips can lower your food bill while allowing you to maintain a diet rich in nutrition.

So tell me, how do you save money on food?


Will run a PDR for smoothies..

If you've ever needed a reason to run I've got one for ya! Enter the Starbucks Vivanno smoothie, otherwise known as my incentive to get through the last few k's of most of my long runs. I decided as I progressed through training that a nice, cold treat at the end of a particularly tough run would serve as both a motivation and a reward for a job well done. And because I always like to kill 2 birds with one stone (I don't actually like to kill birds at all I swear...who made up that saying anyway??) the smoothies have a good dose of whey protein which comes in handy when my muscles are screaming. Score!

This morning I left with the goal to complete the required 18k that I had settled on for this stage in my training. I have never actually run 18k before so I wasn't sure what to expect but I figured it'd be tough and was prepared to grin and bear it.

My first attempt was short-lived and I was back in the apartment less than 2 minutes after I left. Why you ask? Dead iPod. And there was no freakin' way I was attempting a tech-free run when I had this distance to cover. So after a few minutes of locating my backup iPod shuffle (and making sure it was charged for another 15 minutes) I was out the door and on way way downtown.

If I haven't mentioned it before my favorite route to run is south on Yonge street. If you are familiar with Toronto you will know this is a very busy street for pedestrian traffic and many people can't understand why I want my runs to turn into a game of Frogger but I just love it. There is so much to see and be distracted by, a good part of it is on a steady decline (go ahead, call me a cheater. I like to think of myself as efficient!) and there is water available at the hot dog carts! You really can't go wrong.

It was warm in the city so I stuck to the shady side of the street. As per the norm I went through phases of loving and hating running, although thankfully I leaned more towards really liking it for a good part of the run. As I neared the 12k mark I was seriously starting to feel it in my legs (and my ankles, and my feet and my....) but I just continued to give myself pep talks that I was "doing really well" and that this "is important to get ready for my 1/2 in a few weeks" and that I am "stronger then I ever realized". And all the positive thinking really helped me through. Other then my typical "I hate socks" thoughts I was really determined to keep my mind in a good place as additional practice for race day.

Side note: If you are wondering about "I hate socks" I will explain. Every time I run when its sunny I think that thought at least 3 times during a run. In truth I really don't hate socks although I would prefer not to wear them if I can. So wearing them when I am warm and sweaty and tired just makes me irritated. And I think about it...ALOT.

By the time I had pounded out the obligatory 18k I was sweaty and tired and absolutely starving but also feeling very upbeat about the 1/2 marathon. If I can channel some good energy on that morning I really believe I am going to be all right!

And of course it helped that I was about to get my smoothie too :)

My Twitter pals may have noticed that I watched Food Inc for the first time last night. I planned to write about it today but I think I am going to give myself another day to digest (pun somewhat intended) the many different ideas and concepts that resonated with me after the film ended. So stay tuned for a little review of what I will say was one of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen (and I watch horror flicks!).

So tell me, are there any treats that you reward yourself with after a tough workout?


A Countdown and a Winner

Well my friends, in exactly four weeks today I will be amidst the last minute preparation (hydrate, hydrate hydrate! carbs, carbs, carbs! sleep, sleep, sleep!) for my very first 1/2 marathon. That's right four freakin' weeks!  28 crazy days! 672 wacky hours! O.M.G!

A part of me is starting to get a little nervous but for the most part it's a good nervous, the kind that gives you little butterflies as opposed to, oh I dunno, nausea or dread. Hahaha! I am looking forward to the buzz of that morning, when thousands of other people come together for the same cause: Get through the next 13.1 miles and hopefully do it quickly and with a smile on your face. I hear that there is an energy at this start line that isn't replicated by any of the other races that I have done so far so it should be quite the rush.

I am also really, REALLY looking forward to crossing the finish line. That moment is the moment that I have been training for, the moment that I think about (somewhat emotionally if I am being honest) when I run each of my longer runs. Its really the moment when all the accomplishments that I am already so proud of come to a head in an "Eeek!!! I did it, I did it, I did it!!" way. I don't think I will take that finisher's medal off for at least a week.

On top of running I am really focusing on a few things to get me to race day in what I can only hope will be top form:

  • Hydrate- Lots and lots and lots of water. Less caffeine. Very little alcohol.
  • Carb Up- A steady stream of complex carbohydrates over the course of a few weeks rather then a last minute "carb load".
  • Stretching- Keep my muscles limber and loose after what will be the longest practice runs of my life.
  • Sleep- Lots of rest and relaxation to keep me sane  energetic after all that running.
  • Clean Eats- Tons of nutritious and wholesome meals to keep my energy levels and immune system up.
It should be an exciting month!

CSN Giveaway

I want to thank everyone who took the time to enter my very first giveaway. Its been great to hear from regular and new readers and I really appreciate all of your support!

The winner of the $40 CSN gift card is:

Nora @ Live Life, Eat Right. If you haven't been to her blog I highly recommend that you high tail it over there right now. Nora is a foo blogger with an appetite for all things delicious. She tells me that she plans to purchase either a wire cooling rack, a waffle maker or a roasting pan with the certificate. Whatever she chooses I am sure that it will be put to good use!

Congrats Nora! Let us know what you end up buying and all the yummy food that comes from that purchase!

So tell me, are you counting down to anything right now? Race, wedding, school starting? Tell me all about it


Rediscovering the public library

Public libraries have been around since, I dunno, forever but somehow, lost in the shuffle of adulthood I had completely forgotten all about them. Sure I still knew what they were and would often walk by one and think "Ohh books!" but it never really dawned on me that I could go into one and actually borrow a book for free! Well not until today anyway.

As I wandered around on my lunch break, trying to avoid spending money unnecessarily, I happened past the public library that it literally in the same office space of my place of employment. That's right, all this time these free book were mere steps away and I had been completely ignoring them. Shame on me!

Now because I had been eyeing copies of both In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma (Michael Pollan)I figured I would take a peek inside, sign up for a card and borrow one, if not both, if they were in stock. Thankfully I was lucky enough to find a copy of The Omnivore's Dilemma along with another interesting read called Bite Me: Food in Pop Culture 

I am really excited to delve into both of these books-so excited in fact, that I am putting down Born to Run (I just started it and haven't gotten too far in) and reading these first. I guess I should admit that part of the reason is the 21 day lending period on the library books. I just got the card so I wouldn't want my privileges revoked!

Check back in the coming days for reviews of the book (I promise the good, bad and ugly on these ones).

That's me for now. Its time to get reading!

So tell me, what book are you currently reading? Any recommendations for my next one?

Dont forget the giveaway closed on Friday at midnight EST. Its not too late to enter: Comment, blog or tweet about it and your in! See here for details


What I learned from.....running in the rain

I found myself faced with a dilemma on Sunday morning; I knew I needed to get my long run in (my half marathon is 5 week away O.M.G!) but there was one problem and that problem was rain. The skies had opened up over Toronto Saturday night (when I was out walking the pooch thank you very much) and hadn't really let up since. And to make matters worse the forecast for the remainder of the day didn't look very promising. So what was a girl to do?

Well this girl threw on her gear, including a very under-utilized hat to keep those pesky rain drops off my face, and headed out for a 13 kilometre jaunt into the heart of the city.

I wish I could say it was a refreshing and rejuvenating run but I'd be lying to you. Instead I will tell you that I was cranky and annoyed for the first 8k. My running belt was twisting around my body, my earphone kept popping out, I had to go to the bathroom..it just wasn't good. So not good that I almost gave up and called it a day at about the 3k mark.

That's right, I said almost. Somehow through the power of sheer determination not to be sidetracked by a little lot of pesky rain I just kept on going. And when I was done and walking to Starbucks for my well-deserved orange mango protein smoothie (if you haven't tried one yet stop reading this and go get one right now...I'll be here when you get back and you'll thank me for it I promise) I felt great. And I realized that this was one of those runs that had more then a physical benefit for me. This run had actually taught me a few things:

  • Running in the rain make other people stare. And I love being the crazy running girl that other people look at in awe. I used to be the one doing the ogling and I am glad to be on the other side of the glass.
  • Running in the summer rain is better then running in the summer heat. If every run from here on out was on a cloudy day I don't think I would mind one little bit. (at least not until late fall/early winter when I will beg for sunlight and warmth again I'm sure)
  • Running in the rain when you are training for a long distance run is necessary. I can't guarantee the weather on race day so I better get used to all the possible conditions if I can.
  • Running in the rain makes you appreciate the accomplishments of others. Miranda (Miranda's Jeans) was completing a Try-a-Tri at the same time that I was running and I thought to myself "Girl, if she can do all that in this weather you can sure as hell run down Yonge St."
  • Running in the rain makes you appreciate your own accomplishments and dedication. A year ago I wouldn't run on the best day and now here I am running on the crappy ones. That's progress if I do say so myself.
Who woulda thought I would get so much done before noon on a Sunday huh?? I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes the things that can make us grumble and groan can teach us the most about ourselves. I am sure glad I didn't let a little water get in the way of all that!

So tell me, what have you learned about yourself lately?

Did you enter my giveaway yet? Click here for info!


Black beans for everyone!!

Last night as I was making my way through my local grocery store I had a bit of a Eureka! moment as I stood in front of the freezer in the organic and specialty food section. I was about to pick up a box of black bean veggie burgers ($5.49 for 4) when it dawned on me: I can make these at home! Better yet I can probably make twice a many for that price.

So the challenge as it were, was on. I quickly picked up the few ingredients that I might need, taking mental inventory of the items that were already at home in my fridge. This was going to be fun!

Admittedly my first attempt at the burgers went a little awry ( I thought I could pulse the beans in the blender rather then mash them and ended up with puree...doi!) but in the spirit of waste not, want not I used these to make my own rendition of black bean dip which was on my long list of things to try anyway.

The next attempt at the burgers went much more smoothly and in no time I was ready to cook these babies up!

Burger balls just waiting to get turned into patties

I added some of the black bean dip for extra flavor

Black Beans Burgers

750ml black beans (drained)
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 green pepper, finely diced
1 egg
3-4 tbsp bbq sauce
2 tbsp cajun spice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3/4 cup bread crumbs

  • Mash beans in a bowl, ensuring that you don't overmash. Pieces of beans are good for consistency
  • Add egg, vegetables and spices and stir with a large spoon or spatula
  • Add bread crumbs 1/4 of a cup at a time. The mixture should be thick enough to form patties.
  • Adjust bread crumbs as required (you may need less to avoid drying out the burgers or more to ensure that the mixture is thick)
  • Form patties using the mixture
  • Cook over medium heat in a frying pan for approximately 5 minutes on each side (patties will crisp and brown)
  • Serve on a bun or in a wrap with your favorite toppings
Makes 10-12 medium sized patties.

The verdict: Delicious!! And I validated this by feeding one to the Boyfriend,who isn't exactly the biggest fan of vegetarian fare, and he really enjoyed it. In fact he said "Oh man, I am eating a burger made of beans and I actually like it" Score!

And just to add icing to the cake I did the math and realized that I made 12 burgers for less then the price of four at the supermarket. How sweet is that?!?

So tell me, what premade foods would you rather make at home?

Don't forget to enter my giveaway!


My very first giveaway!

Question for you my friends: In your cooking adventures have you have ever used a Dutch Oven made popular by Le Crueset, the award winning French cookware manufacturer? If not, have you ever wanted to? Or is there another piece of cookware that you are just dying to try? Well this just might be your chance!!

Starting today you will have a chance to win a $40 CSN gift certificate that can be used towards merchandise at one of their over 200 online stores. Two of my favorites are Cookware.com and Dinnerplates.com but feel free to browse everthing that CSN has to offer. After all, you could be the winner of some moola that is just itching to be spent.

So how do you win you ask? Well let's talk options:

1. You will receive 1 entry for leaving a comment on today's post telling me about one new item for the kitchen that you might buy if you won $40 (max 1 entry)

2. You will receive 1 entry for every tweet that promotes the giveaway. You must include @HHandSJ so I know that you mentioned me! (max. 5 entries per day)

3. You will receive 1 entry for every post on your blog that mentions this giveaway. Leave me a comment or shoot me an email to let me know about the shout-out! (max. 1 entry per post)

4. You will receive 1 entry for visiting me during the contest and leaving a comment on my posts. (max. 1 entry per post)

The contest is open to residents of Canada and the US.

The contest officially closes on Friday August 27th at midnight (eastern time) which mean that there are lots of chances for you to win so get your entries in!

The winner will be announced here on Saturday August 28th.

Good luck all!!


Giveaway Alert!!

There's a giveaway coming soon to Health, Happiness and Skinny Jeans!!

Check back on Friday for more information...........


A Glamour Do and a Glamour Don't

Good morning everyone!

Last night was another night of simple indulgances for me.

First I opened a vacation savings account so I can tuck away money from my part time job and splurge on a trip sometime next winter or spring...I can't wait!

Next, I decided to finally indulge my non-stop craving for Mexican food and whipped myself up a really yummy vegetarian taco salad. Start with spinach, shredded carrots, red peppers, mushrooms and mini corn. Then add black beans, salsa, a dallop of refried beans and guacamole, crushed blue corn chips and juice from a lime and ta-da! What you get my friends is the most freakin' delicious salad I have had in a really loooong time!

And of course no Mexican inspired meal would be complete without one of these

After dinner I sat down with the lasted issue of Glamour. I was already a little skeptical of the issue after spying this line on the cover

I hadn't seen it before I bought it but when I did notice it I thought to myself "Uhh, that should read 10,000+ things more important then the last 10 pounds". I think thats Operation Beautiful rubbing off on me because I probably wouldn't have been so sensitive to a comment like that 6 months ago. Cool!

It's funny because I actually muttered "This magazine needs some serious Operation Beautiful love". Then I opened it and low-and-behold there is was! Operation Beautiful featured in Glamour magazine....holy freakin' moly!!

I had no idea that I would find this article. I read Healthy Tipping Point almost everyday but I don't remember reading this announcement. How exciting for Caitlin on the OB team!! I couldn't contain myself and just had to tweet up a storm about it. Operation Beautiful really is revolutionizing North America and I can see why. 

I guess you can't always jusge a magazine by its cover huh??>>

Well I'm off for a 12k and then spending the rest of the day celebrating the Boyfriend's sister's anniversary. Happy Saturday everyone!!

So tell me, what small indulgances do you enjoy?


Friday the 13th...spooooooky!

In honor of Friday the 13th here's a photo tribute to some other common superstitions:

So tell me, are there any superstitions that you take super seriously?


What a difference a year can make

If you follow me on Twitter (and if you don't I would love it if you did!) you may have seen my little teaser last night about an announcement today. In fact I suggested that I would be revealing a "commitment" that I hade made.....
Well, can I get a drum roll please?????

I did it, I did it, I finally did it! I signed up for my very first half marathon EVER!

That is right ladies and gentleman (yes, gentleman singular...I think I might have one male reader if I'm lucky..hi Mike @ Try for Try!!) on Sunday September 26th I, along with 9, 499 other crazy people runners will be hammering out 21 lovely kilometres for the glitz and the glory and the pure satisfaction of being able to say you did it (and having the medal to prove it!)

Ok, ok so I know I have talked about this before and I even went so far as to create a nifty training plan for it (if you want to refresh your memory click here) but now it is official. As in I paid my $90 non-refundable registration fee ($90! Ouch!!!!) As in they are probably printing my one of a kind race bib right now (ok maybe not...but never say never) As in I just told all of you and the Boyfriend and my running buddies and even my mama so I sure as hell can't back out now!

The crazy part is that a year ago I couldn't even run 2km without stopping and here I am, 12 months later,  signing up for 13.1 (because you can't leave out the 0.1) miles! Even crazier then that is that I didn't just sign up to do it but I am totally going to freakin' do it!! If 2009 Sam knew me now she'd be so shocked and what's even better, so proud! And being able to make your former self proud, how awesome is that?

6.5 weeks and counting.....

So tell me, what would your 2009 self be surprised about or proud of today?


Quick and Simple

A quick and simple post for a quick and simple night:

Yesterday's workout:

5 min warm up-walking/light jogging
5K run-avg pace 5:54/km
15 min. high incline walking
5 min. cool down

30 min. strength training (upper and lower body)


Because I had promised the Boyfriend Greek pasta salad (and because we had all the ingredients for one in the apartment) we whipped together a yummy, veggie loaded dinner.

I absolutely love those nights where we hang out in the kitchen together, laughing and talking about our day, as we get dinner ready. I do the majority of the cooking so it's always nice when the Boyfriend lends a hand without even being asked (even if this time it was just to boil water and cook pasta this time).

I enjoyed mine on a bed of spinach with corn and carrots added to the mix.

Oh and I might have had an icy cold Corona while I was preparing everything...I might have.

I might even have had another one while we ate :)

Gotta love simple Tuesdays that turn into a really great night almost unexpectedly.

So tell me, did anything unexpected happen to you yesterday?


Living in the Present-Discussing Eat, Pray Love

If I am being honest with myself (and believe me I try to be at all times) I must admit that I have gone off track in the last few weeks. My eating isn't as clean and wholesome as I prefer it to be, I haven't been able to stick to my training schedule or stay as active as I planned, I haven't been sleeping enough and I have been a bit of a stress tornado, ready to touch down on the next unspecting person or thing in my life. Not good.

On the flip side I am continuing to work my way through two very thought provoking books: Operation Beautiful and Eat, Pray Love. As a believer in the idea that many things happen for a reason I am convinced that this book has made its way into my reading rotation (I often read more then one book at a time- usually a novel and a non-fiction) because I was meant to do some serious thinking about who I am and who I want to be so that I can get back on track and continue moving forward because when I go off track its usually about more then a few too many cookies or a skipped workout. Something under the surface needs some serious attention.

Now we aren't talking major life overhaul here at all, at least not in the sense of a physical relocation or a career change of any kind. What I am looking to do is take inspirations from both these books and apply them to my life, or more importantly the way that I think about my life. I believe happiness isn't always born out of the best circumstances but rather the perspective that people have about them. I need to take that little idea from my own play book and truly live it.

As I am traveling with Elizabeth through India in Eat, Pray, Love I have found myself marking pages that I know I want to re-read because for one reason or another they have spoken to me in some way. One part that stood out was page 132 where she discusses the Buddhist idea of the "monkey mind".

Like most humanoids, I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the "monkey mind"-the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. From the distant past to the unknowable future, my mind swings wildly through time , touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined.....Happy thoughts make me happy, but-whoop!- how quickly I swing into an obsessive worry, blowing the mood.....The other problem with swinging through the vines of thought is that you are never where you are. You are always digging in the past or poking at the future, but rarely do you rest in the moment.

This part of the book jumped out at me when I most literally said out loud "I have a monkey mind!". I jump from thought to thought, idea to idea, always planning for the future or dissecting the past. I rarely just look at the moment I am in and allow myself to sigh and think "Gee, this is lovely isn't it?". Uh oh...

 Elizabeth goes on to describe a friend who was surrounded by a beautiful landscape and could only think "I should come back here someday". She was there, in that beautiful, wonderful place in that moment but only thought of how important it was that she return someday. She couldn't just enjoy the moment while she was in it.

And I cringed as I read this because I do it all the time! How often do I spoil a perfect moment by thinking about when the moment will be over and how I will feel then. I so often dwell on the act of leaving a place or a person that I am failing to enjoy the time that I have there.

I know now that living in the present moment is the next step in my journey towards true and lifelong happiness. I must learn to truly appreciate the time that I have and avoid worrying about what has or may happened. I must learn, no matter how cliched it may seem, to stop and smell the roses.

I plan to start by making the conscious effort to stay present as often as possible. I will remind myself why the present is important and what it can teach me about myself. Good, bad or somewhere in between I think that perhaps there is a lesson in everything as long as we choose to recognize it.

For today I am happy that I have taken a day off work and can use it to relax my body and mind. I can catch up on blogs (reading and writing), read EPL, cuddle with the pooch and just thoroughly enjoy a personal day for what it is: A day for me!

So tell me, what makes you happy in the present moment?


My Operation Beautiful post..

As you may know Caitlin Boyle (Healthy Tipping Point, Operation Beautiful) made her debut appearance on the Today Show this morning to discuss her newly released book Operation Beautiful and the key message behind the movement: Ending the constant barrage of negative "Fat" talk that is so prevelant in our society and replacing it with a positive self-image for women and girls.

The idea that something as simple as a post-it note can inspire women to shed their insecurities and finally learn to love themselves for the wonderful, beautiful people that they are is truly remarkable but also tremendously sad. Its unfortunate that we live in a world where Operation Beautiful is even necessary (sorry Caitlin and your many fans but hear me out....) In my ideal society women wouldn't need a note found in the locker room of a gym or the airport bathroom to remind them of what they are worth. They would just implicitly know that you can't measure who you are by the size of your pants. The Post-Its would be a moot point.

Then again in an ideal world there would be no war or disease, Walmart would sell deeply discounted Christian Louboutin heels and brownies would be a major food group of their own. But in this one, the world we live in today, women are bombarded with the notion that there is one kind of beautiful and they aren't quite it. Enter Caitlin and her countless Operation Beautiful comrades who have helped spread the message to love yourself because you are fabulous just the way that you are! Its a message women should and need to hear and thanks to these poetically worded and strategically placed Post-Its they are, loud and clear.

In honor of the book release and Change the Way You See Not the Way You Look week I would like to share with you one part of me that I love (and its not the only part by the way!)

My arms! I gotta say, I really like them! They have just enough definition to look strong while still remaining feminine which is exactly what I would have asked for. I think muscles are sexy and a great badge of honor to show of all the hard work you do to earn them. No one ever sees a person with muscles and thinks "Hmm, I wonder if she/he eats chips while laying on the sofa all day?". Oh no, no, no. And you ain't gotta be a plumber to have pipes like this! <---wait, did I really just write that in my blog..oh goodness, there's is confident and then there is whatever the heck you wanna call that comment. Heehee!

So there you have it, my first but definitely not last, contribution to Operation Beautiful. Next up I will be getting the book tomorrow (its at the Post Office waiting for me...yippeeeee!!!) and then my very first Post It note, location TBD. Stay tuned.....

So tell me, what is one body part that you are proud of and love to show off and why? And if you were to write an Operation Beautiful note what would you say?


Eat, Sleep, Read...

Ugh, it's been a yucky week for me friends. If you've been following me on Twitter you might have noticed a lot of chatter (twittering?) about my lack of energy and my need for sleep. For the last week I have been just exhausted. Sleeping for 11 hours, 3 hour naps, nothing was helping and something was definitely wrong. Top that with nausea and muscle aches and I was just stumped

Was it my iron levels? A flu creeping up? A *gasp* unplanned pregnancy? I wasn't sure but all I did know was that running (or exercise of any kind) really wasn't really in the cards for me. Not good! After 15 months of consistent and dedicated fitness and with a training plan in place for a 1/2 marathon in September I wasn't exactly stoked at being sidelined for no apparent reason

So what is a girl to do when running isn't an option? This girl slept, and slept and slept some more. She also ate (the good bad and the ugly...we won't go there) and she shopped!

Lucky for me my one day a week part-time job happens to be at a clothing store so I get a discount ...cha-ching!

I also spent the weekend Puggle sitting for friends while they were away on their honeymoon. With Barkley gone to the cottage with the Boyfriend I was grateful to still have a cuddly canine to keep me company.

And I also used some of the unexpected downtime to start Eat, Pray. Love. If you read Oh She Glows (and honestly who doesn't?) you'll know that Angela is also reading it and has been posting some thoughts on some her favorite parts of the book .

To be honest those posts were what turned me onto the book. I had seen countless people reading it on the subway and I had heard rave reviews about it on television but I was never really interested until I read what it was really about and how it can get you thinking about your own life (and boy does it ever!) Currently I am following Liz through her journey in India, where she finds devotion, prayer and meditation to be another path to self-discovery. Very inspiring! I plan to post about one or two of my favorite ideas and quotes but I'll save that for another time.

So I'm not really sure if running will be back on the agenda today, or even tomorrow for that matter. I miss it but I need to listen to my body. I'm not pregnant (phew!) so there might be something else throwing me off and until I can figure it out I should be careful. If I do run (and I really, really want to) I will take it easy and not push myself too much. Here's hoping.....

So tell me, what do you like to do when you find yourself with some unexpected downtime? Have you had to take a break from exercise and if so, what did you do to fill the void?