Monday, February 17, 2014


Prologue:  This BLOG post is crazy brain dump run on - buckle up and let her rip!

So there's been quite a bit of snowfall this Winter 2014.  As you know - I take the position that you should try to catch some JOY in this New England winter instead of being just, plain miserable about it.  I - personally - LOVE a good snowfall.

At any rate - one of the activities I like to do makes my husband happy as a clam.  When it snows, I cook.  Last week I made some new and also some old, reliable comfort food recipes.

I made:

Chicken and Tomato Soup
Sweet and Sour Chicken (somewhat Paleo style)
Chicken Pot Pie (completely NOT somewhat Paleo style)
Roast an 18 pound turkey
Unfried Rice (somewhat Paleo style)
Ck Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
Paleo Granola
Shepards Pie (somewhat Paleo style)

Our fridg is quite full!  I will share some recipes later on after the messy brain dump going on here today.

So, a former client/friend - who I correspond with frequently - emailed me about something and I of course gave her my unsolicited advice.  As I wrote my opinion, I realized that my internal self talk had changed.

As a trainer for many, many years and even before that, I spent ALOTTTTT of energy not only working out and watching my diet. I spent ALOTTTTT of time mentally beating the living crap out of myself as I waited for the workouts and the nutrition to do it's thing for my body - that be - change it so I looked like my 27 year old former self.

About 10 years ago - at around 47 - I also beat myself up about why I continued to beat myself up when it wasn't working.  I wasn't looking like my 27 year old former self.  Why couldn't I just be content with what I had going on.  My 47 year old current self!!!

I mean really?  What's the definition of insanity???

Ummmmm - well, I said to myself, I'm changing it up.  That's different...I can't be insane.  

Well sometimes I sure felt like it!!!

So it's 10 years later.  I'm on the last part of my 57th year - turning 57 in June.  I think I finally did it...kinda, sorta.  

Last winter I made some big changes.  I cut my workouts in half more like in quarters, and I stopped restricting food groups.  Most importantly I stopped beating myself up when I missed a workout or I ate something I wasn't "supposed" to.  It was done deliberately with great anticipation of what I would look like in a year.  I wanted to see what would happen.  

Aghast!!!!  What was going to happen????

Wellllll - not a whole lot has changed - for the worse.  I believe I waffle up and down on the scale by about 3 pounds depending on how "badly" I eat.  

I truly know in my heart we should take in a LOT less carbs than the government/society would have you believe.  So I stayed that course 80-85% of the time.  That's easy for me.  

I never really ate processed food to begin with so that never came back into my eating habits.  I do believe grains should only be consumed in very small quantities and as much as I love rice and mashed potatoes and pasta, I rarely miss them but I did indulge in a bit of all of it this past year as opposed to NONE in the year prior.
Now sugar?  That be a problem, Jack.  You may recall I came up too high on a glucose tolerance test and an A1C test back 2 years ago.  I got that all in order in under 3 months by completely eliminating carbs and sugar except for vegies and dark chocolate and a bit of berries.  Also raised my fat intake.

I lasted about 11 months without the sugar and carbs and then the holidays came and I went crazy.  I toned it down after that Christmas (a year ago) and then I did what we are talking about here.  I stopped beating myself up.  I let myself have an apple here and there everyday, I consumed more than the required 10 grams of sugar almost daily but not like 100 grams!

So the end result is, I think I kept my shape pretty much give or take a few inches.  I think I have more fat on my body than I would have liked in a prior life but I am pretty ok with it at 56.  Sometimes I get that old anxiety, beat myself up feeling and I shoot it in the foot and carry on.

The important thing to me is I am calmer.  I am more peaceful.  I stopped looking for the magic combo to make me 27 again.  

My negative self talk is almost gone and not much has really changed all that drastically - body wise.  Would I love to be slimmer and in a size 6 again?  Ha - guess what?  Size 6 was in the good months when I was wearing Ann Taylor clothes.  I started at a size 8 last year and I am still in a size 8 most days.  

(And when I'm not - can you say pajama jeans? Haaaaaaaaaaaa!)

My arms look better than last year as I switched to lower weights and higher reps and they buffed up to an "I like the way they look" level.  I do some lower body with low or no weights sometimes and I SPIN a few times a week - walk, hike and sometimes run when I feel like it.  I practice a tad of Yoga daily.  Sometimes I do some core work.  Definitely THAT is what should get more consistent - the core work.

The point is - how JOY ful am I that I was able to economize my workouts, lighten up my 'tude about food and find my body hasn't changed drastically for the bad.

I must say one thing though.  Next week I get blood test results.  I am interested to see how they look.  I am interested to see if keeping the carbs low but still indulging in some weekly sweets has kept my A1C in a good place.  I will let you know.

As a trainer, I will tell you that if you need to lose more than 15 pounds or more, you need to change the way you eat.  I don't mean going on a restricted diet and feeling deprived but just changing the quality of the food you eat will start the weight loss.

As a trainer, I will tell you that everyone should workout.  I believe everyone needs weight workouts or Yoga or Pilates - SOMETHING that uses the muscles in your body above and beyond your everyday activity.   Do you need to go balls open 3-4 times a week with your cardio?  No, I do not believe that.  Only if you want to.  If you love to run, or love the treadmill or love bootcamps - then do it!  But don't beat yourself up because you DON'T do it.  

Do something.  That's all.  Do SOMETHING.  Something becomes more.  A 10 minute walk daily becomes a half hour daily.  10 pushups and 10 squats becomes 3 sets of 10 down the road.  Do a little.  It will become what it needs to be, for you to be proud of yourself and feel better.

ANYWAY - I promised you some recipes and here they are.  I still try to follow a Paleoish/Ketogenic(ish) type diet.  My indulgences mostly are not Paleoish/Ketogenic.  For example - the Granola recipe below does follow.  The Unfried Rice kinda sorta but maybe not.  The Shepard's Pie?  Yes mostly (corn?).   (The Chicken Pot Pie that is not being posted?  NOOOOOO - but it sure tasted good!)  Anyway - enJOY.  Cuz we did!!!

Paleo Granola


1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup pecans, chopped
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup coconut oil (or other oil)
½ cup raw honey
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Add all ingredients to a large bowl.
Mix well. If the honey is thick, heat up in the microwave for about 30 seconds and mix well.
Place on a baking sheet (use parchment paper for easy clean up).
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to help it not burn.
Let cool.  I eat with milk or yogurt.

Unfried Rice


2-3 cups leftover cooked quinoa
1 Tbsp olive oil (or you may use coconut oil)
2 large organic eggs, whisked in a bowl
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 of a small sweet onion, diced
3/4 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup carrots, diced into small cubes
3 scallions, chopped
2.5 Tbsp low sodium, gluten free soy/tamari sauce
3/4 Tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup cashews (optional)

In a smal
l bowl, combine the soy/tamari sauce and sesame oil and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the oil until rippling and add the onion. Stir constantly on medium-high for a minute or two and then add the garlic and carrots. Continue to stir for another 4-5 minutes you can turn the heat down to medium-low or medium. It's extremely important to keep that hand, or someone's hand, stirring, otherwise you risk burning the garlic.
Next add the peas, scallions (reserving some for garnish on top!) ginger and cashews and… you guessed it…. stir constantly! After a minute, add the leftover quinoa. Continue to stir until the peas and quinoa seem to be heated through. Stir in the tamari/sesame sauce until everything is well combined.
Turn the heat to low and push away the quinoa from the center of the skillet, creating a donut hole. Pour in the eggs and scramble. Once scrambled, work the quinoa back into the donut hole and toss well! Garnish with remaining scallions.

Paleoish/ketogenic(ish) Shepard's Pie


For the "potatoes":
1 head of cauliflower
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk

For the meat filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons arrow root
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Cut up cauliflower.  Roast in a 400 degree oven until crispy and tender.  Throw into a food processor with the heavy cream, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the filling. Place the olive oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the turkey, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the arrow root and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the turkey mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed cauliflower, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the "potatoes" begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

LET It Snow, LET IT snow, LET IT SNOW!

So much MISERY over the snowfall this winter.  I am beginning to think I may be a bit "touched". CUZ I JUST LOVE IT!

I mean - seriously - if you have to spend 4-6 months living in a New England Winter, then at least catch some JOY while you're there.  In the "old" days, i.e., DINK days - that would be the Double Income No Kids days - we were skiers.  We'd either leave after work on a Friday and head to Vermont or get up early on Sat. and be skiing at Okemo or Killington by 9:30am.  That was a Winter celebration!  And most Winters we would take a week off and head to the slopes for at least 3 or 4 days of hardcore skiing.

But alas - sigh - 3 kids suck up your skiing money regularly.  I mean seriously?  It probably would cost $300-$500/day for my whole family to ski.  No one owns skis - hence RENT.  The kids don't know how - can you say lessons?  Shall we discuss lift tickets?  

So no - not skiing soon.  Can you say $ice rink$?   Whatever - truth be told - I just LOVE a snowy winter and I don't need to ski to catch the JOY.  All the weatherman has to do is whisper "snow" and I'm all over it.
My heart starts to race, a smile lights up my's a bit like the month before Christmas when I was a kid.  I just get SO excited!!!  But I have to keep it a secret because so many people get MAD!  LOL!!!!  my husband?

I can't explain it.  I LOVE SNOW.

I'm sure you're grumbling.  "Yea - she owns a gym in her house.  She doesn't have to get in a car and battle the commute."

Actually?  I "battled" the commute for 15 years.  I was a seasoned warrior because I managed a huge staff in a law firm 50 miles from home.  When the calls came in on a snowy weekday morning - "I can't come in due to snow", the only weapon I had was "I drove 50 miles in it.  I think you can drive 4 miles".  I think I may have missed a few days due to snow but they were far and few between.  I remember driving home late one night after work in like 2 feet of snow uphill both ways and the state roads I drove were not even plowed.  So I know about driving in the snow.

Now I should say - I have the best husband who is a master shoveler - so I don't shovel much unless it's a mammoth blizzard so I DO understand that pain.  But I actually enjoy shoveling when I do it.  I guess I can give you some empathy about that subject as the reason you are so miserable in the winter.

But the take home here is this:  The only one you are fighting when you are miserable - be it snow or anything else that distresses you - is YOU.  If you are arguing with reality it's like trying to teach a cat to bark.  
Wanting reality to be different than what it is, is hopeless.  It's SNOWING!!!!  Light a fire, read a book, make stew, give yourself permission to do nothing if you are lucky enough.  If not, is being bitchy going to stop the snow from falling?  Is complaining going to bring out the sunshine?  When have you ever been successful with that thinking??   You're arguing with "what is".  

Stop arguing with YOU and turn your thoughts to catching a wisp of JOY.  Look what my friend George Savic does to catch JOY.  (who - btw - owns the rights to my beautiful header shot up above on this blog) 
Snaps a shot of that fat snowy bird.

Photographs a crisp, red hot sunrise on one of those zero degree mornings.

Check out his walk in the park (in a snowfall even better!).  You never know what you'll see!

Go to a movie!  Notice the beauty of the icicles forming off the eaves of your house.   

Make a Chicken Pot Pie!

Do SOMETHING to feel the JOY and stop the madness of those negative thoughts!   

Turn it around with JOY.  Even if it's just for a minute.  The hangover of JOY lasts - trust me.

Speaking of snowy birds - yesterday when my daughter and I were holed up in the house because she was sick and we were forced ALL DAY to watch live men's skating at the Olympics, she leaped off the couch yelling, "LOOK!!!!"  Well I tried to get some shots off with my cell and they didn't come out great - but look what sat in a pine in front of our house hunting for poor innocent birds at our bird feeder!  It was - for lack of a better word - majestic. This beautiful red tailed hawk.  Not to bore you was JOY ful seeing him this close.

 Please note icicle JOY as well...
Isn't he a BEAUT?!  We were so excited!!!!

So git out there and catch some!   

Well what do you know about that?  Look what's outside my window today...

That would be snow JOY as in -- it's SNOWING JOY!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Disclaimer - Let's just be clear right from the get go - I don't proclaim  to be a great photographer.  And many times that frustrates me because I don't often "capture" something I see - as I see it.  At ANY rate...

So last night, after catching great JOY watching the 2014 Olympic coverage

 particularly skating JOY watching the women skate for their teams - I had the distinct pleasurable PITA experience of walking Miss Daisy at 11 o'clock at night in our icy cold, snowy yard.
Now before I go into that - please know - I have waited 12 years to watch Olympic ice skating with my daughter.  I was a rabid figure skating fan for YEARS back in the 80s and 90s. NOTHING got in my way of watching my skaters compete.  I remember being at a Valentines Day dance fundraiser in 1988 and it was the night of the Women's final skate at the '88 Olympics.  A) I refused to go unless there was a tv there and B) There was a tv there and I was a fixture in front of it;  Let me tell you, I was a magnet.  I had like half the "dancers" behind me watching Debi Thomas and Katernia Witt in the "Battle of the Carmens" vying to medal!  (BTW - Thomas won bronze and Witt gold.  I will never forget!)

Anyway - in 2010, I really wanted that skating JOY during the Olympics and even though my girl was skating, no matter how many times I yelled out, "Brooke!  Skating's on!!  Come watch!". NOTHIN'. Such skating disJOY disinterest took the wind outta my skating sails.

This year??  "Mom!!!  Hurry!  Skating's ON!   Ashley's on!  Jason's on!". Or my personal fav - "Your Russian is ON!  Evgeny Plushenko is on!!  Hurry!". 

Can you FEEL my PULSATING JOYJOYJOY???  Seriously, you have NO idea.  I feel like I have waited forever to hear those sweet words.  

Which as an aside hope I haven't bored you to death yet - Do you have any idea how much JOY I have because my daughter IS a skater??  I have dreamed my whole adult life about my daughter skating.  I dreamed my whole child life about ME becoming a skater!  And I did pursue that dream in my 30s I was horrible!   Just horrible!  LOL but of course life got in the way.  

So while it is sooooo JOYful to watch her skate everyday and be a part of Team Brooke, it's HER passion for skating that sends me.  I catch JOY every single minute she is on the ice and trust me - THAT'S alot of minutes.  Precisely?  At least 600 minutes a week or more.  (That would be more than 10 hours in real time...) and lest we forget the mostly JOYful rides to and fro.  Another 10 hours!  Dat's a lotta JOY!  I'm so lucky and very GRATEFUL!

Ok so let's get back to the point of this post and Daisy Mae.  

Her last walk of the night, last night.  Now you might suggest - why don't you just get one of those electric fence thingies that people install and then Miss Daisy can just be let out to run?  Not happenin'.  We live on a very busy state road and having experienced one "escape" on that road when Daisy Mae was a puppy, the thought of just one "mishap" running thru that "fence" - paralyzes me.  The other thing I am not interested in adding to my life? 


ANYWAY - jeez I am taking a long time to get to the teeny, tiny JOY point of this blog post.  I KNOW you are dying of curiosity.

So, I harness her up and don't bother to get a jacket over my pjs, walk out the door and take her to the one snowless spot in the damn yard which is under a blue spruce.  

The last thing I need at 11 o'clock at night, is to spend 5 hours being led around the snowy yard while she is poking and sniffing around the snow looking for the perfect damn pee spot.  Did I mention the yard is snowy?  And cold?  And DARK?

So I'm standing there and I look up.

Can you see it?  Can you see it??  Can you SEE it???

Isn't it great??  LOL.  It's like a Christmas ornament hanging off the tree!!  Aren't you excited??  I knowwwww - right?  (hahahahaha)  

I caught JOY peeing the dog on a freezing cold night.  Well what do you know about THAT...  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


What a JOY sucker vacations can be.  


Welllll - not really...LOL - but TRAVELING on vacation in the airline system?  Now THAT is a JOY sucker!!!  Without boring the crap out of you, let's just say, it sucked up some of the vacation JOY like a vacuum cleaner - for sure.  


It will take a bit to block out the - getting home hell - and recall the sunny, lay on my lounge chair for 4 days and read JOY.  I know I can recover it - but for now?  I need to focus on a different JOY.

It's called HOME.  It's called kid hugs, my bed, my quiet early mornings, my silent New England snowfalls, my awesome understanding clients, my supportive and amazing friends, my 

Daisy Mae, my kitties (ok maybe my kitties), my fleece sheets, my fireplace and wood stove, my awesome Nezzie (the three little pigs "roommate" this week - lol), my FANTASTIC travel agent, Nancy...Yea -  I'm thinking that's what vacations are really for.  They give you JOY in their own way and then they send you home renewed and JOYful to re-appreciate (is that even a word?) your real life.  

Perhaps not everyone experiences this.  And perhaps the almost horror of being stuck 1000 miles from home in a Georgia airport for several days contributes to the 
feeling this morning...but who cares?  

It's my reality and I'm catching JOY.  Isn't THAT what matters?

Here's a little vacation JOY reminder.  It's starting to come back...

Ahhh yes - now I remember...

Have I ever seen one of these in real life?  I don't think so.  So deprived!

This is the view from the treadmills I never went near!  My husband on the other hand - worked out every day.  I'm such a role model!  LOL!

Vacation JOY is starting to come back...

Happy 25th!

What's a vacation album without a selfie?  I wasn't really that burned.  I need to photoshop my real tan.  WTH!

Absolutely the JOY that took me through airline HELL!!!  Don't miss this gem.  I LOVED it!

So see?  All it took was a bit of blog posting to re-experience the vacation JOY process.

BUT the moral of the story is...