Blogging-101

Sometime back in October or November, I stumbled into the world of health, fitness, and food blogging.  Instantly I was hooked.  I no longer had to wait each month for a new Shape Magazine to come in the mail (although I still do!  you know about the mail lady and me!).  This information was available to me at my finger tips daily. 

I found a few blogs that became favorites, and I kept going back for more.  I found personal trainers and certified nutritionists who were willing to share this information with  me each and every day.  This world, that is still new to me, has enriched my life in so many ways. 

I’ve learned so much about nutrition, eating clean, and about being a vegetarian.  I’ve learned new recipes and have tried new workouts.  I’ve read reviews for workout DVDs, almond butter, books, and more.

Most importantly blogging has enriched my life by providing me the opportunity to share and to be creative.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am still learning about the blogging world and how it works, but I thought I’d put together a few tips for people who are even newer to this world than me.

#1 Blog Roll

As I mentioned earlier, I found a few favorite blogs that I read every day.  In the beginning there were only two that I read regularly: The Fitnessista and Oh She Glows.  However, occasionally these girls would comment about other blogs that they read.  I also noticed that many of the girls seemed to “know” each other.  I had found a community of like-minded girls striving for common goals.   

I then started visiting these other blogs and clicking on their blog rolls.  A blog roll is a list of blogs that the blogger recommends or follows.  Each day I tried to visit a new blog by clicking on one of the links in someone’s blog roll.  Quickly, I learned that there are hundreds of sites dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle!  You can not imagine how much I have learned! 

A new blog that I just found, and can not get enough of, is Peas and Thank You!  This is written by a woman who has changed her lifestyle to lead a better example for her two adorable daughters.  At this time in my life, when the possibility of children is on the horizon (a few years, mom!), it is wonderful to find such an amazing role model for myself!  Oh, and did I mention that every time I read her posts I laugh my tush off! 

So, if you enjoy reading my very mediocre blog, please visit some of the links listed in my blog roll!  You will find many talented women sharing a wealth of information! 

#2 Subscriptions

If you find blogs that you enjoy reading, you can subscribe to receive updates as they are made.  You can do this two ways (that I know of!).  You can subscribe to receive email updates each time a blogger makes a post.  Most blogs have a subscribe button in the sidebar.   

Another way to receive updates is through an RSS feed.  When you subscribe to an RRS feed, it is added to a Common Feed List. Updated information from the feed is automatically downloaded to your computer and can be viewed in Internet Explorer and other programs.  On Happy Heart, Happy Mind I have links for both the posts and comments feeds available in the sidebar. I will say, however, the RSS feeds are not quite as pretty.   😉

Another way to keep up with your favorite blogs, is to create a Health Blog Folder under your favorites.

 

#3 Comments

There is nothing more exciting for me than to open my blog and to see that I have comments!  To me this means that there are people out there reading what I have written and they want to talk about it! 

When I first starting reading blogs I never left comments.  I’m not exactly sure why.  Part of me was afraid that someone might think that what I had to say was stupid.  Another part of me was afraid that my inbox would soon fill with SPAM and other nonsense.  However, after starting a blog, I realized that this is not the case.  By leaving a comment you are in no way committing to receive any kind of email or SPAM.  It is simply a comment.

One of the reasons I began this blog was to start a conversation about both mental and physical health.  Please feel free to leave comments any time!  I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, or suggestions!  Is there anything you would like for me to write about more often?  Less often? 

#4 Contests!

This is something I have just discovered!  Many bloggers sponsor giveaways of their favorite products.  I’ve seen givewaways for Lululemon, nut butter, tea, soups, socks, sports bags, recipe books, the works!  I’ve yet to actually win one, but that doesn’t stop me from trying!  Keep checking your favorite blogs for new giveaways…  Right now there is a tea giveaway at Confessions of a Health Nut.

Who knows?  Maybe there’ll be a giveaway on Happy Heart, Happy Mind one day!

So, there you have!  4 tidbits of info about blogs you may, or may not, have known. 

I’m off to make a salad that is seriously out of this world.  Here’s a sneak peak of the mushrooms and the meat (for Larry, of course!) that have been marinating since last night!  Check back later for the recipe!

  

Do you have a favorite blog?  If so, what makes you want to continue visiting a blog on a regular basis?  Is it the style of writing?  The information shared?  The Photography?

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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Crazy, Dumb-Dumb Award

Today started out lovely.  The weather was so bad that Larry got to stay home from work.  He works every Saturday, so this was an extra special treat!  We slept in until about 8 AM, and then we got up to make waffles.

I followed a regular ol’ waffle recipe, but I substituted the following:

  • 2 egg whites instead of 1 whole egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour instead of waffleswhite flour
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce instead of 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar instead of 2 tbsp white sugar

I topped mine with one smashed banana, 1 tablespoon almond butter, and a whole bunch of cinnamon (I accidentally dumped it out of the big hole instead of sprinkling it!).  Larry went the old fashioned route with warm maple syrup.

Then we got an incredibly crazy idea! 

I got a hankering for some duck boots, so I could play in the snow, and Larry wanted a snow shovel, so he doesn’t have to use the digging shovel he has been using.  So, we did what turned out to be the first slightly dumb move of the day.  We jumped into his truck and drove to Lowes and Wally-World.  (Don’t worry, Mama Bush and Mama Sanders!  We made it there and back safely!) 

On the way there I realized that I hadn’t charged my camera battery (dumb- dumb move numero dos).  So, all of the pics into today’s post are taken with my phone camera.  They actually turned out way better than I thought!

driving in the snow Here’s the nail biting ride to the stores!

Once at the store, we just couldn’t be stopped! We bought the dogs new bones, which they promptly began stealing from one another as soon as we got home.  Back and forth, back and forth.  We also  bought Dallas a Fling It Ball Thrower Thing-a-ma-jig.  We bought enough logs to keep a fire going for a few days (central heat is for sissies! ;)), a new snow shovel, but no duck boots.  Duck Boots were simply no where to be found. 😦

I did get this incredibly awesome herb garden!  🙂grow your own gardenAfter spending what seems like a ka-zillion dollars on fresh herbs at the grocery store, I finally bought a planter to grow my own.  This kit includes cilantro (my one true love), basil, oregano, chives, and parsley.

It may be snowing outside, but that didn’t stop me from trying on my Gardner Jen pants. 

planting herb garden  

 

I stuck that baby in the sink and got down and dirty

 

 

 in the sun

 

Now, we wait to see if I have a green thumb, or if I just bought a really pretty blue pot full of red soil.      

 

 

 Here is the most incredible Dumb-Dumb move of the day. 

After coming in from running around like crazy in the snow with Dallas (wearing Larry’s work boots), I changed into a gi-normous sweat shirt, pajama pants and slippers.  Though, that’s not the dumb part. 

The dumb part was when I saw the mail lady pulling in front of our house, and I did not go out to meet her.  Instead, I danced around the house singing, “P90X is finally here!  We’re going to get so buff!”  in the most sing-songy voice imaginable!

I thought she was leaving the package on the porch.  Not so, my friends.  Not so.  Instead she left us a pretty pink slip of paper that said “Sorry We Missed You.” 

Now we have to wait ‘till Monday.  Oh, well!  At least we know we can start next week! 

For the rest of the day, I plan on sitting by the fire reading Percy Jackson with my wonderful husband, and listening to the dogs galloping around upstairs stealing each other’s bones.

Happy (Snowy) Saturday! And in the words of my Yogi Tea tag, “Take time to enjoy this moment.”  

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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???Veggie Quiz???

As you could probably tell from my post yesterday, I was pretty exhausted.  After work I tutored for an hour then braved the grocery store, which took another hour and a half!downsized_0204001822

Let me tell, ya!  There is nothing like going to the grocery store in the south on the Thursday before a big snow storm and the Super Bowl!  I think I stood in line at checkout for 35 minutes!  I really needed groceries, not because of a snow storm, but because I was seriously out of food!

However grueling the trip may have been, I am excited about my veggie purchases.  Any you don’t recognize?

There’s radicchio, daikon sprouts, ginger root, shitake mushrooms,  and regular ol’ veggies, like Brussels sprouts, red peppers, cilantro, green onions, etc. 

(Total ADD moment here, but who is Brussel and why does he get sprouts named after him???  Anyone know???) 

Look for these bad babies to be used this week in some super yum-o-licious recipes!

Before going vegetarian, I ate the usual veggies like carrots, broccoli, potatoes, bell peppers, sliced mushrooms, and lettuce, but when almost your entire diet consists of plant products, you learn about a whole new world of veggie deliciousness!  Don’t you just love all of the colors!? 

Speaking of recipes, here are some that I promised you 2 days ago!

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For dinner Wednesday night, I had leftover orange ginger baked tofu, roasted red potatoes, garlic greens, and a big ol’ square of cornbread. 

I baked the tofu at 350 degrees in a marinade of 1 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar, 1/4 cup tamari, 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp graded fresh ginger, 3 cloves of minced garlic, and 3 tbsp minced red onion.  Yum!  This marinade would also be great on fish or chicken.

Roasted red potatoes are one of my favorite foods!  I simply clean and quarter the potatoes.  Toss them in a bowl, drizzle olive oil and seasoning on them.  Stir to evenly coat.  Then roast in the oven on 425 until cooked through, turning occasionally.  Double yum! 

And get this!  One red potato has a whopping 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 12% of your daily nutrition value of iron, and 63% of DNV of vitamin C. 

The garlic greens are a new fav of mine!  They are so easy to make, and so incredibly good for you.  Greens are full of calcium, iron, and vitamins C and E.  Simply take 2 bunches of dark leafy greens (these were spinach greens) and sauté them with 3 cloves of garlic in about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.    

And the corn bread…  well, t’was not so “clean,” but it sure was yummy!  It was just a plain box of Jiffy mix that I cleaned up juuuust a bit by using only egg whites and soy milk.  Hey, what can I say?  It served as dessert, too!

Today I am going to rest up!  I went to the gym super early this morning, because I could not fall back to sleep after the announcement that school was cancelled once again.  This workout was a doozie, and my muscles are aching.  Man, I love being able to work out again!

I’m off to put on some comfy clothes, and to curl up on the couch with The Lightening Thief.  (Thanks, Meg!)

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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Back to the Grind… Or Is It?

Today it was somewhat back to the grind for me.  After having three complete days off of work for snow, I finally had to get my tushie out of bed, dressed, fed, and out the door to go to work by 8. 

I know what you’re thinking.  Awww…  8 AM!  You poor baby ;) 

What can I say?  Two-hour delays are awesome!   

Apparently, we could be in for another snow day of some type tomorrow.  As much as I love a snow day, I would seriously love to get back into some kind of routine.  When am I going to teach these kids cursive and multiplication?!?!?

After having such an impromptu break, I would like to discuss work and how it affects my mood.  I don’t know about you, but when I am not working, I have way more energy, way more patience, and I feel so much happier in general. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I love what I do for a living.  I can’t imagine any other profession in the world I would rather have.  Teaching is definitely my “calling.” 

But what gives?  How can I love what I do so much, and still have it drain so much from me?

I wish there was some way to magically bottle up the rest, energy, and calm I experience during breaks, and spread it out over the workweek.

In honor of my New  Years Resolution to be more proactive,  I’ve decided to think about what it is that actually helps me to achieve those feelings of rest, energy, and calm when not working, and see how I can “bottle it up” to use throughout the week.

It is one thing to think about what I can do to make improvements in my life.  It is quite another to actually devise a plan to help me attain those goals. 

For the next couple of days, I will seriously contemplate what actions give me these particularly positive feelings.  I will then try to incorporate these actions into my weekly routine to help me achieve feelings of restfulness, increased energy, and calm all week long. 

What helps you to feel adequately rested, full of energy, and calm during a workweek?  What simple changes could you make to increase these feelings?  This is our life ladies and gentlemen.  It is what we make it 🙂

My first goal for feeling rested is simple.  I need to get this tired tushie into bed way earlier! 

So long, farewell, my friends!  Until tomorrow!   

I’ve always wanted to make such a grand departure! 😉

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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Scratch and Sniff Breakfast

Oh, how I wish you could scratch and sniff the screen right now.DSC01071

 

 

 

 

 

This morning I made Angela’s 3-Minute Breakfast Carrot Cake and it was divine!  I topped it with Greek yogurt and raisins.     

I ate every.last.morsel. DSC01070

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Today is a BIG day for me! 

At yesterday’s podiatrist appointment, Doc told me (drum roll, please!)…

I CAN RUN!

Doc took some x-rays, and said that everything has healed beautifully!  I can go back to normal activities, which include running, Body Combat, yoga, walking the dogs, spinning, P90X, if I so wish, etc., etc., etc. 

I can not tell you how happy this makes me! 

He said it may be a little painful at first, because everything is so stiff, but he said to push through it, ice it, and get moving!    

So, this afternoon around 5 PM, I will be hitting up AMFAMFIT, and doing 45 minutes of cardio, and 45 minutes of lifting back and biceps with Larry. 

(Check out my new Fitness Log here!)

For lunch today, I’m planning on having leftover Spinach, Leek and White Bean Soup

Tonight for dinner I think I’ll make baked salmon for Larry, left over baked tofu for me, roasted red potatoes, and garlic greens (recipes to come).

I better get started on those report card comments now.  I highly doubt we will have four snow days in a row!  Wasn’t that one of my New Years Resolutions?  To be proactive and get things done???  Woops!  A few snow days, and I completely lose all senses!  🙂

Have you ever suffered an injury that prevented you from working out?  How did you get back into your normal routine?          

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!! 

 

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P90X-citement!

I can not stand it any longer!  Larry and I have recently purchased a complete P90X kit from the internet, and we are patiently awaiting its arrival.  Every day the mail lady comes and I watch her like a stalker from the window upstairs. 

What is P90X you say?  Well, apparently, it is a 13 disc DVD collection of workouts that are designed to help you get “ripped” in just 90 days!  Now, I’m pretty sure this is not 100% the case, but I’m willing to give it a shot!

I mean, HELLO!  Who wouldn’t want to look like this guy?!?!?!P90X - Jon C.Hehehe!  JK!

But, seriously.  Why am I so excited?  Well, for stalkers, uh, I mean starters I love working out with Larry.  I love working out from home.  And I LOVE workout DVDs.  Having this set in our living room also means no excuses for skipping out on the gym after a long day of work.

As I mentioned earlier I don’t entirely believe the hype surrounding this product, but I do think that anything new that gets you excited about working out again is well worth any money you might spend on it. 

It’s important to switch up your workout routine regularly so you don’t get bored.  A few summers back I was adamant about running as much as I possibly could.  After one very hot, very dedicated  week of running in 100 degree weather at the beach, I got burned out (almost literally!).  I didn’t run again for almost 6 months. 

But that’s OK, because during my running hiatus  I started taking classes at the gym and fell in love with Body Combat, spinning, and step aerobics (which I thought was for old ladies in unitards, but boy, was I  wrong!)

So, if you are in a work out rut, do something to get out of it.  Buy yourself a new workout DVD, or a new pair or running shoes.  How about a new pair of workout pants and a cute new T to go with it???  Sometimes that’s all it takes!  

If you need some motivation right now, Comcast offers Exercise TV On Demand!  Pick a video and get started!  (Jillian’s on there!)  It’s hard to get bored with so many different workouts to choose from!  

On the to-do list for today:

I hope you have a Terrific Tuesday! 

Have you ever tried P90X?  What were your thoughts?  Do you have any tips for keeping your workouts interesting? 

~Jen

Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!

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Spinach and Leek White Bean Soup

Hello!  I hope you have enjoyed your Monday.  This one was not quite as manic as last week’s, but a snow day does tend to help with that! 

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I’m also happy to report that we will be enjoying another snow day tomorrow!  Woot woot!  🙂

This afternoon I decided to strap on my big girl shoes and do a workout video.  For Christmas this year, Larry got me “One-on-One Training with Jackie.”  Up until this point I have been unable to do heavy duty, high impact workouts, but I decided today just might be the day to get back into the swing of things. 

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This video is split into three 20 minute workouts: upper body, lower body, and abs.  All that was needed was a mat and some hand weights. 

Overall the workout was great!  It increased my heart rate, got me moving, and I could definitely feel the burn!  There is nothing like feeling the burn to know that you are doing a great workout!

  I only have two minor complaints.  One complaint is that Jackie does not tell you what size hand weights to use.  I just assumed that we would be doing high reps (I was right!), and chose two 5-pound hand weights.  I would recommend choosing lighter hand weights until you have mastered the correct form. 

Another complaint would be that there was not enough time between cardio intervals and stretching at the end of each 20 minute segment.  My heart rate was-a-pumping, and I felt pretty faint when we stopped jumping around and went straight into stretching.  This may be because I have lost some of my cardio endurance in the past month, but even still, I recommend walking around while you stretch to safely bring your heart rate down… especially if you are new to working out. 

After working out it was time to start thinking about making some dinner.  Tonight I decided to make a recipe that was recommended to me by my lovely sister-in-law: Spinach and Leek White Bean Soup.  I must say it was rather tasty, so I hope you will give it a try.

Before making the soup, I decided to take my own advice and make some small changes to make it a bit more “clean” and closer to the source.

Clean Change #1

The original recipe called for two 16 oz. cans of cannellini beans.  Instead of using canned beans, I used dry great northern beans.  I soaked half a bag of beans in water all day long.  Before adding them to the recipe, I cooked them by following these simple steps.  I first drained and rinsed the soaked beans.  Next, I re-covered them with water, brought them to a boil, reduced the heat and simmered them with a tilted lid for about an hour.  Right before adding them to the soup recipe, I drained and rinsed them one last time.

(This helps to eliminate the somewhat unfortunate side effects of eating beans.  You know…  beans, beans, they’re good for your heart…  It’s a good idea to follow this step when eating canned beans as well!) 

Clean Change #2

I replaced 1/2 cup of couscous with 1 cup of Quinoa.  Quinoa is a whole grain DSC01064that is considered “one of the best sources of protein in the vegetable kingdom” by the National Academy of Science.  It is a complete protein with all essential amino acids, and does not contain any gluten (for you, Kim!), or wheat.  One quarter cup serving of quinoa contains 6 grams of complete protein.

Here is what I came up with:

Ingredients:

  • 4 leeks, bulbs only, chopped
  • 3 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 16 ounces cooked great northern beans (please read above)
  • 2 16 oz. cans low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 4 cups fresh spinach

Sauté chopped leeks and garlic in olive oil until clear.  Add broth, beans, and cumin.  Bring to a boil.  Add quinoa and reduce to low heat for about 5 minutes.  You want the quinoa to appear soft and translucent, with the germ ring visible along the outside edge of the germ.  Add spinach and wait 5-10 minutes before serving. 

DSC01059Yum!  Larry and I like soup that is  a little on the thicker side, so if you like your soup to be more broth-y, reduce the quinoa to 1/2 cup.  And if you’re like Larry and want meat, add a small can of chicken breast. 

According to the Daily Plate 1/8 of this recipe has about 200 calories, 2 grams of fat, 27 mg of sodium, 42 grams of carbs, 2 grams of sugar, 9 grams of fiber, and 12 grams of protein. 

If I had used the canned cannellini beans my 1/8 serving would have had 135 mg of sodium.  See how small “clean” changes can really add up! 

Well, I’m off to relax with the hubbers before bed!  Let me know what you think of the soup!

Have you tried to make any small changes to your diet that could be considered clean and closer to the source?  If so, what are they?  🙂

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