Simple Soup and Sandwich

First of all I want to say THANK YOU to everyone for your supportive comments regarding my answers to your Ask Me Anything questions. I was really nervous to open the doors for such personal questions and I wanted to provide you guys with honest answers, even if it made me step out of my comfort zone and feel vulnerable. So, thank you for your warm and loving comments. It’s really neat to see that we all struggle with the same issues and have a shared desire to love ourselves and lead healthy, happy lives. 🙂

Lunch

Lunch today was oh-so-simple.

Grilled cheese and soup… easy peasy.

Sandwich + Soup

I enjoyed melted Gouda cheese on a whole wheat sandwich thin with a cup of French onion soup and sugar-free strawberry Jello on the side.

Friday's Lunch

Snack

My snack was cocoa-tastic!

Chocolate Yogurt Pudding

I stirred a spoonful of Jello instant chocolate pudding mix into a cup of Fage Greek yogurt and nibbled on a Attune coffee bean dark chocolate probiotic wellness bar. So delicious!

Weekend Plans

My weekend is going to be a busy one!

Friday:

  • Quickly clean the apartment since it’s being shown to potential tenants tomorrow
  • Pack for the weekend
  • Drive to Sarasota
  • Late dinner with Ryan’s family

Saturday:

  • Hang out with Ryan and his family
  • Dinner party with Ryan’s family and my family in St. Pete
  • See the musical Wicked with Ryan

Sunday:

  • Drive back to Orlando
  • Try on bridesmaid dresses with my friend (and bridesmaid!) Laurel
  • Rollerblading with Laurel

It’ll be a go-go-go kinda weekend, but a fun one!

Coffee Lover?

Click here to receive a free sample of Nescafé Taster’s Choice instant coffee.

Yogurt Lover?

Click here to receive a free sample of Yoplait Yoplus yogurt.

AMA Round Three

Ready for round three of Ask Me Anything questions!? Woop, woop!

(Click here to submit an anonymous question. Click here for Ask Me Anything round one. Click here for Ask Me Anything round two.)

What tips do you have about maintaining a healthy relationship? I admire yours & Ryan’s. What’s things do you two argue about? How do you resolve it?

Ryan is honestly the easiest person to be in a relationship with, and I really do feel so blessed to be with someone as open and loving as him. Ryan has taught me so much about love, but the biggest thing he’s taught me is the importance of communication. I am not a confrontational person by nature and will typically get quiet when I’m upset and I prefer to be alone when I’m angry. Ryan has really encouraged me to communicate with him all the time, and he’s always been very open with me. It can be so hard to bring up what’s bothering you, but the only way issues can be resolved is to talk about them. Ryan made it clear to me from day one that as his girlfriend (and now his fiancé), I was his number one priority and he is mine as well. I’ve always felt like he puts me first and I’ve tried to show him the same respect. Ryan also has three ideals of a good relationship that I think are spot-on: communication, trust and entertainment. You gotta have all three! 🙂

As for arguments, we really don’t fight often and our fights are typically over trivial things like my driving abilities (they’re stellar, by the way), or Ryan not unloading the dishwasher when he was home all day. We’ve actually even taken the time to communicate and talk about both of these little issues and even issues as silly as those have improved because of a simple conversation. Talk it out! It works!

In most of the pictures you post of yourself, your hair looks phenomenal!  How long does it take you and what do you do to it?

Thank you!!! To be totally honest, I have the thinnest hair in the world and have always considered myself hair-styling inept. I’m assuming this question refers to the times I curl my hair (since straightening is a pretty self-explanatory process 🙂 ), so I’ll address that! My friend Merri showed me how to curl my hair with a flat iron and it is awesome! If I curl my hair with a curling iron, the curls fall out in no time at all, but when I use a flat iron (I use the Chi for curling and the Sedu for straightening), the curls stay in all day long. Hallelujah! 🙂 There are a lot of instructional videos on YouTube.com that can show you how to do this. I literally propped my lap top up on the toilet seat  in my bathroom, and watched the videos while attempting to curl my hair in the mirror. I burned just about every finger on my hand, but eventually got the hang of it!

I’I notice you eat a lot of veggies, but how do you get your protein? I see you put protein powder in a lot of your snacks but I’ve heard that protein powders aren’t as good for you because your body can’t break down and optimize all the grams of protein these powders offers offer and it’s best to get it from a natural source.

I get my protein from Greek yogurt (one little cup has 15grams!), cheese (I could live off cheese), lean meats, beans, cottage cheese, eggs and protein powder. I am not a protein powder freak and I can’t stand protein shakes. I like to use my protein powder as a mix-in in my oatmeal or in baked goods… basically I like to eat it, not drink it. 🙂  I used to be crazy about protein and concentrate on getting a lot of protein at each meal… now I try to be crazier about fruits and vegetables and enjoy protein as a smaller side.

What does a typical day of eating for you look like (including snacks) on a weekday? What about on a weekend?

I love this question since I rarely post pictures of my snacks and tend to slack off on blogging on the weekend. Here’s a general outline:

Weekday: Breakfast, snack (around 11 a.m.), lunch, snack (around 3:30 p.m.), dinner, snack (around 8 p.m.). If you follow this blog, my breakfast, lunch and dinner are typically posted, but my snacks are not. For snacks I generally eat a whole wheat tortilla with cheese, Greek yogurt with a handful of nuts mixed in, protein cakes/brownies with nuts or peanut butter, apple slices with cheese or peanut butter, cottage cheese with pumpkin, cinnamon and nuts, and oatmeal with protein powder or peanut butter stirred in.

Weekend: My weekends are a lot less structured (for better or worse) mainly because I am not at home or in one place like I am during the weekdays. I generally eat larger meals and smaller snacks on the weekend, but have been known to graze my way through an entire weekend… eating constantly (this isn’t good for me though because even though I eat and eat I never truly feel satisfied). I typically enjoy one meal out on the weekends at a restaurant with Ryan or friends and I’ll order whatever pops out to me at the time. I’m also much more likely to enjoy desserts on the weekends when we’re out and about and Ryan tempts me with ice cream! 🙂

What are some of your recommendations on purchases from Netrition.com?  You’ve said you buy a lot from them.  There is SO much on the site, it’s hard to know what’s good.

I am obsessed with this Web site… they have awesome products and shipping is $5, no matter how much you order. I typically order Joseph’s lavash and tortillas, Kay’s Naturals protein cereal, Kay’s Naturals protein pretzels, Flax-Z-Snax hot cereal, PB2 powdered peanut butter, and Carba Nada pasta from this site. If you’re going to order one thing, order the Carba Nada pasta. It’s seriously unbelievable and I am addicted! I honestly like it better than most normal pasta.

I am currently recovering from hip bursitis and read that you had it too a while ago… Could you share some of your favorite hip stretches?

My all-time favorite hip stretch is this one. Pull the leg that’s not folded over (in the picture it’s the left leg) toward your body until you feel a nice stretch throughout your hip. It’s amaaaaazing! (Click here for another picture.)

I’d like to know what you majored in…I’ve followed the links you leave on your page that lead to your articles, and I noticed they’re always about healthy eating, but did you study nutrition? Or journalism?

I graduated from college with a degree in advertising and public relations and a minor in marketing. I definitely prefer the public relations aspect of my major, but found that in the first two jobs I had right out of college, the tasks I most enjoyed related to writing. I loved writing press releases, brochure and Web site content. I’ve always loved reading and writing and realized within a year or two of graduating that I wanted to make a career out of writing. As for nutrition, I did take one personal fitness/nutrition course in college and loved it. I took it my senior year and truly believe that if I’d taken it sooner my major may have changed. I still love learning (and writing!) about health and fitness and read anything and everything I can get my hands on about food, exercise and healthy living. I am a skeptical learner though and constantly ask questions about what I read and follow it up with a lot of research and supplemental reading.

What resistance and elevation settings do you use on the elliptical for steady state cardio? I am always curious and I’m not sure what other people do with the 20 available settings!

I typically do the elliptical (with arms) at a resistance level of 10 (on the ellipticals with arms at my gym you cannot change the elevation). When I do the elliptical without arms I do it at a resistance level of 10 at an incline of 9.

I have been following your blog for about a month or so and have noticed how active you are.  You seem to find time to get some exercise every day.  Do you ever have days where you just don’t want to workout but still do?  If so, how do you motivate yourself?  Would love to hear your tips for staying motivated.

Of course I have days where I don’t want to work out. For me, scheduling my workout first thing in the morning makes it a lot easier. When my alarm goes off, I can’t go back to sleep because in my head I’ll be thinking “I should be at the gym right now” since it’s such a huge part of my routine. By the time I actually feel awake in the morning, my workout is over!

When I’m really not feelin’ the gym, I have a couple of go-to workouts that motivate me. I keep print outs of a couple of cardio interval workouts in my little gym bag (click here and here for some good examples). It’s always easier to get to the gym when you have a new workout planned. Group exercise classes like BodyPump really motivate me on days I don’t feel like putting myself through a quality workout.

Also, I read somewhere that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit, so if you’re losing motivation, commit to working out regularly (still schedule a rest day or two!) for 21 days. It will likely become part of your routine!

I’m interested in these Body Pump classes you always take but don’t really know what they are. I know people always talk about doing body pump 72, 69 etc. What do these numbers mean?? how long is the class? and what do you do in the class??

BodyPump is a total-body weights class and it’s basically AWESOME. 😀 According to the BodyPump Web site, “BodyPump is the original barbell class that strengthens your entire body. This 60-minute workout challenges all your major muscle groups by using the best weight-room exercises like squats, presses, lifts and curls.” The numbers you’re seeing refer to the different BodyPump releases. BodyPump is the same wherever you take it and different instructors will do different pre-choreographed releases at different times. When a new release debuts, it features new music, exercise, etc. The class is formatted the same way every time, with each exercise lasting for the duration of an entire song: Warm up, squats, chest, back/hamstrings, triceps, biceps, lunges, shoulders, abs and cool down/stretch.

Meatloaf + AMA Round One

Tonight the man demanded meatloaf!

One of Ryan’s favorite dinners is BBQ meatloaf and he was beggin’ for it for dinner tonight. Who am I to say no to such a delicious request?

While I prepped the meatloaf and measured out the spices, Ryan chopped the onion. I cannot chop onions because I look like I’ve just sat through The Notebook by the time I’m done. I tear up like crazy!

Meatloaf Ingredients

Ryan also handled the dirty work and mooshed the meatloaf ingredients together with his hands.

Doin' the Dirty Work

Pre-Cooked Loaf

On the side we enjoyed Campbell’s Harvest Select Harvest French onion soup.

"C'mon Mama, Shaaaare!"

BBQ Meatloaf

Dinner

AMA Q & As

First, I want to say thank you to all of you who submitted Ask Me Anything questions! Every time I got an alert I was so excited to see what you guys had to say and wanted to know. In case you still have something you’d like to ask, click here to submit an anonymous Ask Me Anything question.

So, heeere we go… the first round of Ask Me Anything  questions:

I love your cheerful attitude to life. You are so bubbly and fun. Is this how you are all the time or do you have days when you are a complete b**tch like the rest of us?? 🙂

Of course I have grouchy days where I feel like I’m in a funk! Fortunately though, I really am a fairly optimistic person and try not to get caught up in negativity and really try not to “sweat the small stuff.” To me, getting angry or involved in drama is exhausting… seriously, it overwhelms me. Whenever I’m faced with something that’s really bothering me, I ask myself this: “Will this even matter in a week? In a month? In a year?” More often than not,  the answer is “no,” and it’s not worth getting upset over.

(Ryan is looking over my shoulder and said I should answer the above question like this: “Yes. I am happy all the time.” He’s a little biased. 😉 )

Have you and Ryan ever “taken a break” throughout your relationship?

No. We’ve been together for a little more than six years… six whole years. Ryan is pretty hard-headed about the “taking a break” issue and though I never wanted to “take a break” from our relationship, I really like his views on “breaks” and have adopted them as my own. 😉 To him (and now to me as well), taking a break really puts your relationship in a gray area. The “rules” are undefined and inevitably someone always seems to get hurt. Every relationship has ups and downs and for us, we were fully committed to communicating and working thorough any issues at hand, rather than waving the white flag. Don’t get me wrong… I know there are couples who take breaks and it works for them… For us, though, it never was really something we considered. A “break” (to me), is a break up and I’ve always like Ryan too much to want a break from that boy.

What took you from Illinois to Florida?  And do you miss the Midwest?

My family and I moved to Florida from Palatine, Illinois after I graduated high school in 2003 because my dad accepted a job in St. Petersburg.

I really miss certain aspects of the Midwest. I think there’s something to be said for “Midwestern values” and, generally speaking, I feel a genuine warmth from people who come from the Midwest. I do not miss the weather (except on Christmas).

What’s your favorite activity with Sadie? (Thank you to VeggieGirl for saying it was you who submitted this question! My curiosity is gettin’ the best of me!)

Sadie warms my heart. Just receiving a question about her makes me smile! J I love many activities with Sadie! My favorite active activity is definitely hiking with Sadie and Ryan. However, nothing beats cuddling with Sadie when she’s tired. She literally goes to bed by 9:30 p.m. every night (she hops off the couch and put herself to bed in our bedroom) and I know that’s when I’ll get my quality cuddle time with my girl.

How do you find out about all of the deals, bargains, and free products companies are doing?

One Web site: Slickdeals.net. Ryan and his cousin introduced it to me and it’s phenomenal!

What has been your favorite part of wedding planning? And your least favorite part?

My favorite part of wedding planning has been seeing how excited my family and Ryan get every time we talk about the big day. I know it’s totally cheesy but I feel so lucky to be planning a wedding to such a great guy who my family loves and adores as well.

My least favorite part is handling the guest list! Right now we have approximately 160 people on our guest list, and we want to cut it to 120 for the sake of our budget… I am not looking forward to that! Ideally, we’d like around 100 guests to RSVP so we can serve the best food. 🙂

What sorority were you in?

I was a Kappa Delta at the University of Central Florida.

What are your favorite clothing stores?

Ah! A thought provoker! 🙂 My favorite stores are J.Crew (thank goodness I live near the outlet!), Banana Republic, Marshalls and T.J. Maxx. I also love RueLaLa.com and Off 5th (the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet) for great sales on designer jeans.

Do you take any daily vitamins?

I take one Viactiv chewable calcium supplement and a One a Day Essential multivitamin every day.

Does Ryan have any single male friends? 😉

Yes! Do you live near Orlando? 😀

Hi! I love reading your blog and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!!  My questions are: What is your height and weight and how many calories per day do you eat?

I actually received this question multiple times, so I’m just posting the first one since the answer is the same across the board.

I’ll be totally honest, this is the question I was dreading when I posted the Ask Me Anything link, mainly because I’m pretty private about my weight. I don’t blame anyone for being curious because I am curious about others as well, but I think sharing my weight only brings about comparisons and I would encourage everyone to try not to compare yourself to me or any other woman out there. You are your own person and should weigh a healthy weight for your body… not my body or anyone else’s body. 🙂 Okay, I’ll step off my soap box now and stop avoiding the question. 😉

I am 5’6 ¾’’ (aaaalmost 5’7’’) and this morning I weighed 126.8 lbs. (Ryan and I were just talking about weight last night which prompted me to weigh in this morning. Ryan is 6’2” and weighs 190 lbs. in case you’re curious. 😉 ) Like everyone, my weight does fluctuate!

As for calories, I do not count calories, but I have in the past and found myself consuming around 1,800 calories daily… definitely more on the weekends (always!) and more when I do a lot of cardio. I eat 6 mini meals every day, and I’d estimate them to be around 300 calories each. I usually only blog about what I eat during the typical breakfast, lunch and dinner times, which is only about half of my daily meals.

How often do you weigh yourself (if you do)?

I weigh myself a couple times a week just to keep myself in check… usually on a Monday and a Friday.

Have you ever been injured from a sport or exercise?

Yes! I had bursitis in my hip from running and couldn’t run or do any high impact exercises for several months during the summer of my junior year in college. It was honestly a very difficult thing for me to deal with and I was very frustrated by the set back. I met with a wonderful doctor who showed me how to properly stretch my hip (I literally never stretched my hip before this injury), and I now take the time to give the ol’ hip some TLC before and after my runs.

I couldn’t get to all of your questions tonight, but I’ll definitely answer more tomorrow morning! You may click here to submit an anonymous question. 🙂 Thanks to everyone who sumbitted a question!

‘Dilla & Soup

How good is cheese? I mean, seriously, how good is this ooey, gooey, salty stuff? Pretty darn fantastic.

What’s your favorite kind of cheese?

My favorite kind of cheese varies with my craving of the day, but typically I’d have to go with brie or cheddar (sharp!).

Brie Cheeeeeese

Today I enjoyed a cheesy ‘dilla (aka quesadilla) break-room style (aka microwaved) featuring sharp cheddar cheese melted in a folded-over whole wheat pita.

'Dilla, 'Dilla

This is one of my go-to snacks, but I enjoyed it for lunch today with a hot mug of Progresso French onion soup in the free mug I received from the company on Tuesday.

French Onion Soup

I figured today was a good day to break into one of the bazillion cans of soup I received from Progresso, and thought French onion would be a great place to start since it’s one of my favorites.

I was really impressed by the amount of onions in the soup! It was really tasty and full o’ the yummy veggie. I only wish the sodium content was lower (690 mg per serving… eek).

Thursday's Lunch

Sorry about the dark pictures… the sun was shining and I couldn’t get the lighting to work with me!

Also, as a side note, my lunch pictures (and likely many of my breakfast pictures) will be taken with my old point-and-shoot camera, not the new fancy, schmancy DSL camera since I don’t want to look like some kind of a tourist at work. 🙂

Cold Day, Hot Dinner

Today marks the coldest day of December in Florida. Brrr!

I’m writing this post in my warm pajamas, socks and slippers, with a hot-bodied dog on my lap. Comfy, cozy!

After work I headed to the mall for some last minute Christmas shopping. How is it possible that I am still not done?

Are you done with your holiday shopping?

As I was running out to my car with several shopping bags in hand, I shivered in the cold breeze. I knew a hot dinner was in store.

Warm-the-Belly Dinner

Warm-the-Belly Dinner

Keeping my promise not to go to the grocery store this week, I assembled a dinner using food we had on hand.

I wanted everything to be hot to warm up my belly, so tonight’s dinner featured a grilled cheese sandwich (on a honey wheat Arnold sandwich thin), Campbell’s Select Harvest caramelized French onion soup and steamed broccoli and carrots.

Grilled Cheese and Steamed Veggies

French Onion

My Bowl

I adore simple dinners. 

I see a nice cup of hot chocolate in my future…