Starting Over

“You only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low.”

It’s been a while since I posted anything except recipes! I figured today is as good as any to change that. It’s been a long few months. Being off work has not been anything I expected it to be. I have found myself with zero motivation to eat healthy, workout, etc. I have taken giant strides backwards from where I was because running and working out has caused me too much pain. My mental struggles of being unable to get my body to work with me has been a frustrating experience.

On Monday Kevin and I met with Chris, a personal trainer at a new local gym. We spent four hours with him and it was an amazing experience. Having the chance to voice my experiences and frustrations was almost a cleansing experience. I walked away from the session having realized a number of things.

I realized I have spent the last months letting my illness get the best of me both physically and mentally. I have spent all my time focusing on where I’ve been and not where I’m going. I let the past cloud my vision of where I am today and what I need to do to take care of myself.

I realized I have forgotten to pay attention to what my body can do VS what the Lupus says it can’t. I need to be more realistic about my training goals. I need to embrace the good days and accept the bad days with a little more understanding and grace.

Chris reminded me that those bad days are going to be that much worse if I give up all together. Things will be harder if I continue to let my healthy eating slide.

Somedays I won’t be able to do a full workout or run. Somedays I’m going to hurt. Somedays I’m going to make poor food choices but that doesn’t mean I need to give up completely. One slip doesn’t mean I need to fall off the mountain and sit idly by and let it crumble on top of me.

On Monday I decided to spend the next 30 days embracing the life I have. I decided to go back to square one. The past is done with and where I was 6 months ago, a year ago, 2 years ago no longer has any bearing in where I am today! I’ve decided to embrace what I learned and what I was capable of in the past but to leave it alone and start fresh.

My main goal is to listen to my body. Going back to basics will hopefully reenforce the good healthy habits I know I am capable of embracing. Starting fresh gives me a chance to relearn what works for me right now.

Last night I took the trainers advice and took Muffin for a brisk 30 minute walk to warm up my muscles before jumping on the treadmill and attempting my first “back to basics run” of hopefully many. I walked as I needed and felt strong the whole time! Afterwards again at chris’ advice I spent a good amount of time stretching and foam rolling to avoid aches and hip pain. This morning when I woke up I stretched my legs and was thrilled to feel no post run pain! This was a huge victory for me and reminded me that even though my body isn’t perfect and lupus kicks my ass it can still do some amazing things! I am cautiously optimistic regarding my running. I know I can’t push it and I know that if the Lupus pain flares up I need to reevaluate things. But for today I’m calling it a win!

Today was a gorgeous day and we took Muffin to the park for a 3 km walk. It was nice to be out in the sunshine and fresh air. We came home and made a healthy dinner and then I headed off to the gym for an hour workout.

I keep picturing the little tortoise,from the children’s book The Tortoise and The Hare, not because I feel like I’m racing anyone or myself but because he reminds me that dedication and determination are the stepping stones to my own success.

I’ve spent too much time letting my self perceived failures dictate my current endeavors. I was reminded that nothing is a failure, it’s simply an experience. I realize that despite feeling good the last few days my body will undoubtedly challenge me again in the near future and that is why I realize it’s best for me to take baby steps one day at a time. As cliche as it sounds I really believe baby steps are the answer to my getting back on track. Maybe in a few months I will be strong enough to set more substantial goals, or maybe I won’t. Either way I’m fully committed to starting fresh and embracing myself and all the things my body and mind are capable of doing. It’s a much better option than the self sabotage I’ve grown accustom to the last 6 months!

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Chicken Cashew Lettuce Wraps

Last summer I ordered something called “Dragon Boats” one night when we went out for dinner and ever since I’ve been meaning to try to make them at home. Tonight I did, with fantastic results! They are fresh and flavorful. I used leaf lettuce as the wraps but you could use whatever kind of lettuce you like.

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Ingredients
3 chicken breasts
1 cup dry chow mien noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 cup chopped pepper
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 can sliced water chestnuts drained
1/2 cashews
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Thai chili paste
4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon chili sauce (more for spicier)
Handful of cilantro
3 sliced green onions
1 head of lettuce of your choice

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Method
Heat a tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and toss chow mien noodles in heated pan for 2 minutes, set aside.

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Cook chicken in remain olive oil.

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Once the chicken is almost cooked add in peppers, onions, mushrooms, water chestnuts, garlic, thai chili paste, and cook until soft.

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In a small bowl mix together soy sauce , brown sugar and vinegar. Add this mixture to pan and cook for 2 minutes.

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Add in hoisin sauce, cashews, cilantro, and green onions and cool for 3 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently.

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Serve this mixture on lettuce leaf wraps!

Enjoy this fantastic homemade tasty take on a take out classic.

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’ve been playing around with my basic muffin recipe lately and I’ve finally tweaked it to perfection! These muffins are quick, easy, soft on the inside with a little crunch on the outside! They can be dressed up with a streusel topping or left as is for a simple treat!

I’ve done these muffins with blueberries, raspberries and chocolate chips, all have turned out great. I’ve also played with the flour ratio (white and whole wheat) but this batch was for hubby so they are just white flour and jumbo!

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Ingredients
2 cups flour
3/4 cup white sugar
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 cup chocolate chips

Optional
1/8 teaspoon vanilla bean scrapings

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Method
In a large bowl mix dry ingredients (flour, sugar, powder, salt)

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In separate bowl whisk together milk, egg, vanilla, vanilla bean paste.

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Stir melted butter into dry ingredients and then stir in wet ingredients, storing until just combine.

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Gently fold in chocolate chips.

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Divide evenly into 12 standard muffin tins or 6 jumbo which have been well greased

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Bake in 400 degree oven for 18 -20 minutes for standard size and 25 minutes for jumbo. Muffins are done when tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean.

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Fruit Salsa

I seem to have developed this habit of buying strawberries in large quantities every time I go shopping. I have issues but that’s for another blog post!! Tonight I found myself with an abundance of strawberries and a bag of Trader joes cinnamon pita chips, so I decided to try fruit salsa!

I didn’t bother to take step by step photos of this recipe because I’m going out in a limb and assume most of you can chop fruit … Maybe sit this one out Katie! ;)

I added jalapeño and cilantro to my fruit salsa, it was delicious. It is optional, the recipe will be just as yummy without it.

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Ingredients
1 apple
8 large strawberries
1 kiwi
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon agave (I used coconut flavor)
Juice and zest from 1/2 lime

optional
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño

Method
Finely chop all fruit and toss with lime zest and juice.

Stir in agave and sugar

Serve with cinnamon pita chips!!

Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Influenster’s most recent Voxbox , the #Mysterybrand HERE

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Today I received the full size product line unveiling the mystery brand!!

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Turns out the amazing scented mystery brand is none other then Fructis Damage Repair by Garnier

I have been very pleased with the results after using the samples provided. I love the scent and would recommend the products on that alone! I’m a sucker for anything that smells good!!

The Fructis products left my hair smooth and shiny as well as healthy looking! So the results are a definite plus in addition to the fabulous scent!

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary for review and testing purposes. Opinions are my own.

Chocolate Prune Cake

Looks can be deceiving! While this cake still contains some sugar, it’s much healthier then many other chocolate cakes! The secret ingredient to its moist texture is prunes!!

Yep prunes! But I promise you it’s delicious. It is also low in fat!! Give it a try, I promise you will be presently surprised.

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Ingredients

2 cups Pitted Prunes
3/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 egg whites (1/4 cup if using cartoned egg whites)
1 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

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Method

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Chop prunes into small chunks

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Bring prunes and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Mixture will become very thick.

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Remove from heat to cool.

Beat together wet ingredients.. sugar, butter, milk, extract, egg whites and prunes in a stand mixer for 3 minutes on medium/high.

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Sift together dry ingredients and then slowly beat into wet ingredients. Once incorporated together beat mixture for a few minutes on high.

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Spray a cake pan with nonstick cooking spray then coat with 2 tablespoons sugar, shaking out excess.

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Place batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

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I like to serve this cake with a raspberry sauce, a dusting of powdered sugar and a touch of chocolate sauce!! So yummy!

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#Mysterybrand via Influenster

Today was a good mail day! I came home to find my most recent Voxbox from Influenster had been delivered! In case you are unfamiliar with Influenster or Voxboxes check out their website Here to learn more!

Influenster sends out products to bloggers, tweeters, face bookers, etc for free in exchange for review of these products.

The most recent Voxbox I’ve been asked to participate in is the #mysterybrand from L’oreal! It contains three secret hair care samples. A shampoo, a conditioner and a split end serum. The fun part is as of right now I have no clue which line of hair care these samples belong to. What I can tell you is they smell fantastic!

I will be giving them a try over the next few days before receiving full size bottles of each sample and learning which line of hair care they belong to!

Hopefully they work as good as they smell!! I’ll keep you all posted!

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