Monthly Triumphs of August

I’m sitting here wondering what I actually accomplished this month. It’s been a little stressful at work and when I think of August those stressors pop into my mind. However, despite that it’s been a good month and here’s why:

  • Vahid and I are cooking nearly all our meals at home. I’m really loving the routine we’ve developed of getting our produce (and most of our meat) at the Farmer’s Market each week and cooking with really good, really fresh ingredients. It’s really great to learn new uses for things I used to just walk by each week like leeks and fennel.
  • We bought a new mattress and our sleep has dramatically improved. I knew our old mattress wasn’t great and wasn’t giving up good quality sleep anymore but I wasn’t expecting such a difference. I don’t wake up in a bunch of pain from sleeping on a mattress past it’s prime. It’s a much better way to start the morning!
  • Exercising in the morning. This isn’t an every single morning activity yet as I’m still adjusting to waking up a little earlier to accomplish this but the mornings that we have been doing this I’ve felt more alert and just felt more energized throughout the day.
  • Reading. This might seem silly but it’s been quite a long time since I’ve dedicated time (nearly) every day to do some reading. I’m even reading a book just for pleasure (I’ve been reading a lot of books on thinking, habits, and general self improvement) which is a great change of pace. This summer one of my favorite things has been to just sit on the shared patio with a book and a glass of iced tea or lemonade in the evenings and read. It’s pretty nice, even if I don’t have the whole place to myself.
  • Drawing some boundaries professionally. I don’t mind my job mostly. I’m not in love with it. I don’t wake up super excited for work, but I don’t dread going either. But it was good that for the first time I was able to draw a line in the proverbial sand about a couple things and it felt good. No one was upset and I was glad that this will end up being a place where I am not expected to be ready to work ‘round-the-clock.

I suppose once I thought about it this month has been pretty eventful!

How has your month gone? What are some things you’ve accomplished or are accomplishing?

The Power of No

 photo powerno.jpg I’ve always been a bit of a pushover. Often I’d find myself agreeing to things I didn’t want to do, didn’t have time to do, or because I was afraid the person who was asking for the favor would not like me if I said no. I’ve changed in many ways and I am much more confident and okay with telling people no, yet, sometimes I feel I still struggle with this.

I was excited to read The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness by James Altucher and his wife, Claudia Azula Altucher. I am always looking for ways to change and shape myself for the better.

Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed with this book. While I can see how it can be a helpful book, perhaps its audience is those who are at a very different point in their life than me.

The book is told in a conversational format with certain chapters and sections switching between John and Claudia. It’s a mix of personal stories, general advice, and what has worked for them. Along with this are exercises at the end of most of the chapters.

While I’ve always approached books that are “self-help” in general with the attitude of taking what worked for me and leaving the rest, I found myself leaving..quite a bit of the book behind. It was unfortunate that this book did not resonate with me as it has with so other people. Perhaps I am just at a different point in my life where I don’t need a book such as this one to guide me.

I believe their personal stories that comprise much of the book could be good anecdotal advice and I do think that if you were extremely shy, not confident, or just extremely afraid of life this book could be a good starting point if you need outside validation that it is in fact okay to say “no” to things that drain your life.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

A Day At the Races

Portland is a pretty cool town. On any given weekend you can find something to do. There’s obviously a lot of hiking and nature surrounding the city, but there’s also any number of fun things within city limits happening. Summer is a prime time for this. We have jazz festivals, street fairs, beer festivals, races, the list goes on.

Adult Soapbox Derby!

This Saturday Vahid and I hiked up Mt. Tabor to view one such event, The Adult Soapbox Derby Races. We arrived in the heat of the afternoon primed with mead and berries from the Farmer’s Market and chose a grassy spot to watch the cars race by.

The Fonz jumping a shark.

There was a stripper mobile, complete with stripping action in the back. Fonzie made an appearance jumping a shark. The Break Bad motor home stalled to a stop a few feet from the finish line. If you could imagine it, there was a good chance you would see it cruising down the hill that day.

A little Breaking Bad anyone?

We didn’t stay for more than three races as we had other plans that day (little did we know that a stopped train would ruin those plans) and after an hour or so we made our way back down to our car and on to other adventures.

Zardoz!

Next year we made plans to bring a picnic and get there early and spend the day at Mt. Tabor. The races are fun and if we get bored of them Mt. Tabor is a pretty spectacular place to be no matter what’s going on. We also made plans to bike there which might be foolhardy considering just how steep the jaunt up really is.

If you ever are in Portland in August and want to spend a day drinking in a park and watching races I highly recommend you make your way to the Soapbox Derby. Everyone in Portland should go at least once.

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun or relaxing? Does your town do things like this? Have you ever been?

Stupid Simple Pizza Sauce

No matter how much I love pizza, pizza does not love me. Pizza is something I am always tinkering with. I have tried a few dough recipes that don’t require flour and found one that was a success.

Right now I am really enjoying zucchini pizza. Have you heard of this? Tried this? It’s actually pretty good. The zucchini is quite mellow and the pizza toppings add some great zing to it. Really, it’s such a weird thing but I keep making them every chance I get. I like to the chop the zucchini into circles and create little pizza bites.

One of my biggest problems with pizza (besides how deliciously fattening regular pizza is) is that conventional pizza sauce just has a lot of sugar in it. I am trying to stay away from sugar (which is much harder than you think it is) and as a result always getting a little aggravated when I see how many grams of sugar a pizza sauce contains.

I’d like to say that now I tell you how I creatively came up with a great tasting pizza sauce that doesn’t use sugar. But I didn’t. Vahid came up with this amazingly easy pizza sauce that doesn’t have any added sugar. It’s delightful and I often will just dunk some mozzarella slices into the sauce and eat it. It’s that good.

Want to learn how I made it? You’ll laugh at how easy it is. Really.
Pizza sauce!

Stupid Simple Pizza Sauce

Ingredients: 

  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 teaspoons of pizza flavoring
  • 1.5 teaspoons of xylitol (more/less depending on sweetness desired)

Directions:

  1. Pour sauce in a bowl
  2. Combine all ingredients in bowl and enjoy!

Really that’s all there is to it.

Make this and enjoy it. Put it on dough, zucchini, or just spread it on a pepperoni and roll it up with some mozzarella and put it in your face. You’ll like it, I promise.

What Really Counts

Sometimes I feel like a chronic dieter. I am always trying new things, tweaking or completely changing what doesn’t work. But I suppose I don’t fit the “chronic dieter” status because most of the things I try are based around eating real food and avoiding processed sweets (my favorite things!).

I’ve successfully lost a good chunk of weight with certain things but I always plateau. What I have recently found out is those plateaus are the result of maybe not doing what is best for my body and also some other underlying health issues that I wasn’t aware of/chose to ignore.

Now through lots of trial and error and weight loss and gain I’ve settled on something that works. The excess weight loss is slow but happening. Really though so many other parts of my life are functioning better. It’s crazy to think that eliminating certain foods, changing what you eat can have such a huge impact.

I’ve mostly cut out sugar from my diet, except for certain things on Saturday, which is my carb day (hello all the potatoes). I’ve also mostly cut grains from my diet. Not for the gluten intolerance reason but simply because I am a bread addict. I love all things bread, pastry, pasta. You name it and I love it. But all those foods are havoc for healthy weight loss and plus I just don’t feel good eating them.

What I’ve noticed from eliminating sugar, grains, and adding lots of healthy fat, protein, vegetables is that all the things I thought were just the way my body was are changing.

I used to just think I was forever destined to have bad skin. But my skin is clear. Aside from acne scarring I haven’t had one breakout or even blemish in a month. It’s amazing.

I sleep exceptionally well and I need less sleep overall to function. I find myself going to sleep around 10:00/10:30 and waking up before my alarm goes off. I usually wake up between 6:00 and 6:30 and I’m rested. I know that seems like a lot of sleep but before I would feel groggy if I wasn’t asleep for nine hours or so and I almost never woke up naturally, especially not before an early morning alarm.

I am also enjoying nice increase in energy throughout the day. I don’t find myself exhausted when I come home the way I used to be. Lately I’ve been coming home, throwing down my stuff, changing and heading to the pool for an hour of swimming. It’s a great thing to do in the hot afternoon.

Along with this lovely abundance of energy I also feel mentally sharper. That’s a hard things to measure but I feel like I just make decisions quicker and actually can make them instead of hemming and hawing and hoping someone else comes up with a decision because I just can’t think about it. I thought maybe I was just getting more forgetful or spacey because I’m out of school. After all I wasn’t being forced to remember all these facts for school so my brain just got lazy. Well, it must have been something I was eating on a regular basis because that sure doesn’t happen now.

Overall, I am feeling much healthier even though I am not losing the buckets of weight I was hoping. But it’ll happen. I might not be down to my old size as soon as I’d like and I might have to order a wedding dress in a larger size than I had hoped. But either way I’ll be looking much better than I ever would have before this and that’s what really counts.

What’s something you are doing that is having a positive impact on your life?