Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One thing to improve health

If you were going to give up something, one thing, to immediately improve your health, what would it be?

 I finally gave up soda, or as I like to call it, pop, and I can't believe it took me almost 28 years.  What was I thinking drinking this, deliciously sweet and beautifully marketed, beverage poison?

Here's the facts on soda:

  1. Phosphoric Acid in soda weakens bones and eats through enamel to rot your teeth.
  2. The caramel color added to soda is made of chemicals, does nothing for the flavor, and is purely for cosmetic purposes.  Oh, it's also full of carcinogens.
  3. High fructose Corn Syrup- is a concentrated form of sugar.  Fructose is derived from corn.  It increases body fat, cholesterol, and triglycerides in your blood.  It also increases hunger.
  4. For those of you (me) who drink (drank) diet soda- Aspartame and excessive artificial sweeteners are addictive and make you crave more "sweets".
  5. Believe it or not, formaldehyde is in your soda.  It is a carcinogen and not added directly, but when you digest aspartame, it breaks down into 2 amino acids + methanol = formic acid + formaldehyde... yum = diet soda!
  6. Potassium Benzoate is a preservative.  It breaks down to benzene in your body.  When your soda is in contact with the sun + benzene = carcinogen!
  7. Food dyes can lead to impaired brain function, hyperactive behavior, difficulty focusing, and lack of impulse control.  Maybe our children's behavior has more to do with what they are putting into their bodies, and less to do with ADHD!
If this wasn't enough to get you to change one small thing about your lifestyle to improve your physical and mental health, take a look at this scary infographic from www.mindgreenbody.com

Monday, July 30, 2012

Guiltless Chicken Parmesan

Thanks to SallySpins, I found this wonderful recipe.

Guiltless Chicken Parmesan


  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, divided
  • 1 28-oz jar crushed organic tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste or organic tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp reduced-fat Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 4-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1-inch thickness
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz cooked whole-wheat penne (or your favorite pasta)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic and sauté 3 to 5 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Add 1 tsp oregano and stir to coat. Cook 30 seconds, until oregano is fragrant. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a shallow dish, combine panko, Parmesan, remaining 1 tsp oregano, thyme, salt and black pepper. Mix with a fork to combine. Brush both sides of each chicken breast with Dijon. Transfer each breast to panko mixture and turn to coat both sides. Arrange chicken on prepared baking sheet. Coat surface of chicken with cooking spray. Bake 20 minutes. 
  4. Top each chicken breast with 2 to 3 tbsp tomato sauce and 2 tbsp mozzarella. Return chicken to oven and bake 10 minutes more, until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted and bubbly.
  5. Arrange pasta on a serving plate and top with remaining tomato sauce. Serve chicken with pasta on the side, garnishing both with basil. 
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 439, Total Fat: 12 g, Sat. Fat: 2.5 g, Carbs: 43 g, Fiber: 5.5 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 34.5 g, Sodium: 585 mg, Cholesterol: 70 mg 
Try breading and cooking zucchini or eggplant instead of the chicken for a vegetarian version of this recipe.  Yum!  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Perfect Saturday

After a stressful and crazy day yesterday, I'm appreciative of this perfectly, lazy, and uneventful Saturday.  I took Ace to the vet yesterday for a consultation on his continuously worsening hips and legs.  Poor old guy could barely walk up the few stairs to the vet office.  He also had a surgery to remove a concerning mass on his neck.  The operation went fine, but when I picked him up, the vet told me he needs knee surgery and will have to be put under anesthetic.  Jade and I are still talking about our options.  I want Ace to have a good quality of life with or without the surgery.  I feel pensive about the recovery process and if one operation will be enough to last his life.  Any opinions on this are welcomed. 

For my perfect Saturday, I was able to sleep in with my hubby.  Snuggling in the arms of someone you love is incredibly under appreciated.  After our late start and a few errands, I headed to the gym to sweat and think about my 4-legged concern.  A little pool time, some light reading, and yoga can sure make a girl feel relaxed.  Now, the hubs and I are going to enjoy a little Lentil Soup

some of this...

And the Olympics! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Be Grateful

 Lately I've read so many books, blogs, and articles about women who feel less than adequate.  This post is for those women... myself included.

"It’s surprising how many persons go through life without ever recognizing that their feelings toward other people are largely determined by their feelings toward themselves, and if you’re not comfortable within yourself, you can’t be comfortable with others."

-Sidney J. Harris

I know many women whom desire to change their bodies.  Some friends of mine have been so unhappy with their given body parts, that they've surgically changed those parts. Don't get me wrong,
I have days where I HATE my body.  Not all of my body, but my flabby tummy, the inside of my soft thighs, my saggy butt, my incredibly small breasts... etc, but there are parts that I think are pretty beautiful too.  It also helps that my husband thinks I'm beautiful and isn't afraid to tell me daily.  Lately, I've tried to change my mind set from the things my body isn't, to the amazingly adaptable structure that my body is.  Every time I run 6 miles, I'm grateful I can do that.  Every time I play tennis, basketball, swim, and practice yoga, I'm thankful for my health.  I try not to think of how fast or far I used to be able to run, but that I can run. 

Our bodies are incredible machines, and I have abused mine plenty, but I'm beginning to learn how to take care of my mind and body in healthy, maintainable ways.  I've only very recently come to a point in my life where I'm proud of all that I've accomplished and the woman I've become.  I will continue to strive for improvement every day, (in body, mind, and spirit) so maybe in some ways, I am not completely self-accepting, but I'm grateful I have the ability to improve.  And that's okay too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chichen Itza Recap

Since my brother left, I feel like I am a bit boring.  True, I do have the time to workout when I want, cook what I want, and enjoy the activities I want, but since he's left, I don't do many blog worthy things.  So I thought I would give a review of our travels to Chichen Itza.

We left early in the morning, and arrived before the big tour buses.  It was a beautiful, cloudy day, with a nice breeze, and no mosquitoes.  I let Patrick use my Cannon Rebel, so all the pictures you see are taken with my iPhone.

Chichen Itza is quite large, and during my first visit, I completely missed an entire section of the park.  Patrick informed me on how good of a tour guide he is.  He's also a cut throat negotiator too!

Columns at the Temple of a Thousand Warriors

Temple of a Thousand Warriors

My favorite!  El Castillo... The Castle

Venus Platform

Venus Platform- close up showing the drawings

Grand Ball Court

House of the Jaguar

Again, El Castillo de Kukulcán

A little information.  


El Caracol, The observatory temple

El Caracol, the snail, receives its name from the curved shape of the stairs in the observatory.  The structure has an unusual place, but it thought to be in alignment with astrological events and specifically the path of Venus.

My sight seeing buddy

The Red House

The Red House

The front side of the complex de Las Monjas.

I love this building.  This my be my favorite picture because the beauty of the building is not lost, although the structure is crumbling with time.

 La Iglesia, the church

La Monjas, The Nunnery

  My younger brother posing in front of the observatory at El Caracol.

To get to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen, I drove North on 180 D towards Cancun.  You will take this for about 200 km, so make sure to fill up on gas before you leave.  Before you arrive in Cancun, you will see an exit towards Mérida.  Take the exit and continue on 180 D.  This highway has a cuota, which means you will need to pay to use it, about 200 pesos.  After about 90 km, you will arrive at the border of Quintana Roo and the Yucatán.  After the border continue another 105 km, and after the next toll booth, continue towards Pisté/Chichen Itza.  In Pisté, you can find a good and cheap place to eat.  From here, it is only a few more minutes to the ruin.  Keep right at the Y-crossing, and shortly, you will have arrived.

Remember, try to arrive early to give yourself plenty of time to explore the ruins before the large tour buses take over.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Living well

I have recently gotten back into my yoga and workout routine, and my body is thanking me.  It's amazing what a little physical activity can do.  I now have much more energy, I'm happier, and if I keep up my high-protein diet, I hopefully will gain back a little muscle. 

It may seem like I have this whole diet/workout thing figured out, but (shocking, I know) I'm not perfect.  I struggle with eating the "right" foods all the time.  For example, last night my husband invited his friends over for a BBQ.  While he grilled steaks, hamburgers, and bratwursts, I stuck with my vegetarian burger.  But I did allow myself a few glasses of Chardonnay, which probably did more damage to my diet than a hamburger.  Usually I have a hard time forgiving myself for some diet slip ups, but I'm trying to learn how to move on, look forward, and think about the big picture. 

A website that I've come to love, not only for it's clean eating and exercise articles, but for opening my mind in new ways, is helping me with this journey.  I would like to share and article that hit spot on with how I feel, and I hope any dog-lover feels the same way too.

Why Dogs Are the Ulitmate Yogis

By Nadine Fawell
Everything I've needed to know about life, I've learned from dogs. I often joke that I am like a dog: if I am unwalked, unstretched, unfed or unloved, I get grumpy, and start tugging on my leash. OK, the leash bit is metaphorical, but the rest is 100% fact.

As I tramp the parks and beaches near my house, I watch the dogs and I think about how much simpler our lives would be if we just lived like, well, dogs.

Everything you need to know about living, you can learn from watching dogs:
  1. Drink lots of water.
  2. Rest in the heat of the day.
  3. Walk every day.
  4. Stretch when you wake up, and when you have been still for a while.
  5. Playtime is always good, no matter how old you are.
  6. When you meet someone new, be friendly, but sniff them out and don’t get too close until you are sure they’re not going to bite you.
  7. If your ears are being scratched right now, then life is good. It doesn’t matter what happened five minutes ago...
  8. Greet every new day with enthusiasm!
  9. Sometimes, if you don’t follow the rules, you will get into trouble, but sometimes you won’t. It’s worth pushing the boundaries just to investigate what’s possible.
  10. Seeing your loved ones again at the end of the day really is the most exciting thing ever!
  11. There are so many interesting smells and sights in this world: investigate them.
  12. It helps to be in the right place at the right time: how else do you get the best pickings off the barbecue?
  13. Be gentle and patient with children.
  14. Growl when you need to, and bite if you feel very threatened. It’s not always appropriate to roll over and show your belly.
  15. Be loyal.
  16. How you have been treated is a direct indicator for how you will behave now, but that can change with love and the right circumstances.
Dogs are the ultimate yogis!

You can explore the rest of their website here.  Anyone interested in yoga, healthy living, and clean eating might find it a little addicting.  I would apologize, but I'm not really sorry.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TRX Class

Today was my first day of Get off my lazy ass and work out plan.  Since my brother and sister arrived, other than a few pick up games of basketball and diving, I didn't really get much exercise.  Today, I tried TRX training for the first time.

 After the initial confusion of where do I place my body, I felt the burn immediately.  After about 15 minutes my muscle were trembling.  I can definitely tell I've skimped on weights these last few months.  After my past experience as a personal trainer, finding a class that I enjoy is the perfect way to get back into a routine.  Now all I need to do is convince the hubby to come with me.

And for a little fun, some photos of the few days I got to spend with my sister and her husband!

Ash and I at Fusion

Hubs and I at La Parrilla Argentina

Hubs and BIL drinking a cubeta on 5th avenue

 And my beautiful sis really excited for some Häagen-Dazs Ice cream

Monday, July 16, 2012

I'm back!

I'm baaaack, said in the creepy, stalker voice.  After a fun-filled month with my little younger brother and a short visit by my sister and brother-in-law, Jade and I now have our home to ourselves again.  I'm still trying to adjust from having so much going on in our lives, to having free time again.  For instance, instead of doing anything remotely productive, I wasted a solid 2 days laying on the couch watching episodes of The Good Wife.

And rather than go for a nice run on the beach, I took my new found freedom to a beach club and had a piña colada. 

Although my house is very quiet, I am looking forward to sitting around doing nothing with the husband again.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Taking the advice of a 13 year old

My brother recently suggested to me that I should use a photo of Jade and myself in a wheat field as my blog background.  I have to agree this photo looks more Kansan.  What do you think?

I love these photos my Dad took of us.  Jade and I used them as "engagement photos," although we didn't exactly have an engagement.  What this photos doesn't show are the massive mosquitoes biting and sucking our blood in between our gritted teeth smiles.  Random fact:  Did you know that only the female mosquitoes bite?  Males don't.  Mosquitoes are also attracted to human sweat, so the faster I run, the more I'm attracting these blood suckers!

Just call me the new Bill Nye!

Patrick and I are off to Chichen Itza tomorrow morning.  Although I'm praying for a cooler day and some rain, I'm dreading the mosquitoes that I know will want to have me for lunch!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Diving Dos Ojos

This is the last full week my brother will be staying with us, so we tried to make the most of his time and dive almost every day.  We went on a night dive, cavern dives, and Cozumel dives.  Next up:  Wreck dive to Mama Viña

I love trying new adventures, and a cavern dive was something we all wanted to try.  Diving in Dos Ojos was different than any other sea dive I have done.  In many cenotes, the water is a combination of salt water and fresh water, but Dos Ojos was all fresh water, making us all less buoyant.  There is also very little light, so very few fish live in the caverns.  But there were bats! 

Here is a video of the dive.  We were not quite as advanced as this group, but you can get a good idea of what we were diving.

This cavern system is complex with many different lines you can follow.  We dove the Barbie Line and the Bat Cave.  Both were breath taking.  I have visited many caves in Colorado, but viewing the stalactites and stalagmites, fully immersed, was surreal.  It amazes me to think these caverns used to be completely underwater.  We saw fossils of the "sea" shells that used to thrive in these caves.  In 2008 scientists also found a human skeleton that was 13,600 years old.  You can read the full story from National Geographic here.

We dove with Mexican Blue Dream, and had a very experienced and knowledgeable guide.  I would recommend taking your next trip with them.

Cozumel Diving

Yesterday, we took another trip to Cozumel, this time drugged with Dramamine, and we went on the most amazing dive of my life.  Our trip started off a bit rocky:  we missed the ferry by 30 seconds and the inflator hose on my BCD started free flowing.  Lucky for me, the dive shop was pretty understanding about our tardiness, and my sexy Dive Master husband, switched out our hoses, and saved the day. 

We dove the Santa Rosa Wall.  It was the most beautiful and flourishing coral reefs I've ever seen.  Our dive guide was also one of the most interesting men I've ever met.  His name is Sergio Sandavol, and you can find him HERE on facebook.  He is 74 years old, speaks 7 languages, and in 1993, had over 5,000 dives.  He builds his own underwater camera filters, housing units, and makes his own you tube videos of his dives.  He also let us maximize our bottom time and oxygen consumption. 

To book with Sergio, visit his website or find his business Facebook page here

Watch a video of the Santa Rosa Wall dive in Cozumel. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Eggplant + Tofu Parmesan

Last night, my meat-loving brother tried tofu for the first time.  He also tried eggplant, but his reaction wasn't quite so... animated?

I prepared a vegetarian mixture of dishes because I was really craving the protein from the tofu, but I had an eggplant that was getting a little soft.  I combined an Eggplant Parmesan recipe with a Tofu Parmesan recipe, and I thought the final product was delicious.

Eggplant + Tofu Parmesan

  • 1 eggplant- peeled and sliced
  • 1 pkg of tofu- 1/4 in slices
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 jar of prepared spaghetti sauce
  • oregano, basil, salt and pepper
  • 2 cups Mozzarella, Romano, and Parmesan shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasonings in a bowl.  Beat the egg until incorporated in a separate bow.  Dip each slice of tofu in the bread crumbs until covered completely and place in a pan with olive oil and fry until each side is golden brown.  Meanwhile, dip the eggplant into the egg and then into the bread crumbs until completely coated.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake 5 minutes on each side.  

Cover a 9x13 in pan with half of the prepared spaghetti sauce.  Layer half of the tofu and eggplant slices.  Sprinkle with 1 cup of the shredded cheese.  Repeat layers ending with the shredded cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is completely melted and sauce is bubbly.  


Ultra Mar = Ultra Barf

On Sunday we took a day trip to Cozumel to find an inexpensive dive shop.  We've had some trouble finding a scuba shop that offers reasonable prices online, so we decided to check it out ourselves.  Little did I know that I would spend the entire boat ride in the boat bathroom.  Before we left I didn't take my usual dosage of Dramamine, and started getting sick before we even lifted anchor.  IT.WAS.AWFUL!  I don't know how people don't get sea sick or motion sick.  I get sick in cars, buses, planes, and obviously boats.  So after the 45 minutes of puking my guts out, the last thing I wanted to do was get back on the ferry to come home to PdC.  Ugh!  I think that was the worse part, knowing I HAD to get back on the very thing that made me wish for death.  Jade and Patrick were fine.  Jade says he has sea legs. 

Our trip was a little FUBAR-ed from that point on.  I forgot my driving license so we couldn't rent mopeds, taxis were outrageously expensive, and walking to the beaches wasn't an option.  So we made the best out of our trip.  We found wifi at a Starbucks, got on the good 'ole iPhone, and found some dive shops.  We talked to a few who offered reasonable prices, and even found an amazing place to eat later that night. 

 I definitely recommend this restaurant.  The service was impeccable and the food was traditional Mexican and delicious.

Our trip wasn't exactly what we were expecting, but we made the best of it.  I even found a place that sold Dramamine, and I gave myself a double dose to kinda "knock me out" before getting back on the ferry.  We also sat outside in the open air, and I lived, I didn't loose my lunch dinner, and we made it home safely. 

Bowling in Playa del Carmen

I know summer time is a busy time for everyone, but my brother sent me this little poem to remind us to stop, breathe in your surroundings, and enjoy life. 


 By: W.H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Speaking of having a busy summer, since my brother has been here, we have tried our best to keep him entertained.  On Friday, we decided to try our hand at bowling.  I've never been a very good bowler, but it's always fun to go with a group of friends, family, or complete strangers.  In college, they offered a bowling class, but I was much too serious for such classes.  I instead chose to take classes like: anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and jogging!  Yes, I paid for a class called jogging! 

Most people don't consider going bowling in Playa del Carmen, but after you have lived here for 6 months, sometimes and activity in the air conditioning is just what we need.  Planet Bowl is located in Centro Maya, near the cine and offers a full (bar food) menu and bar, poker tables, and an arcade.  Basically, my brother was in heaven.

Patrick showing his bowling skills.

And Jade showing off his.  

 Obviously we are all terrible... I'm just slightly worse than Patrick and Jade.

The boys played some pool.  As always, I'm behind the camera.

I'm pretty sure Jade dominated the pool game.

And killing the zombies/terrorists!  HA!