Friday, August 31, 2012

Take a Walk With Me

One huge benefit of my exercise routine, is that it gets me out of the house and onto the lakefront.  I love Chicago's lakefront.  If you stick around my blog for awhile, you will see a lot of images of boats, geese, puffy clouds, and the horizon.  Lately, there have been new sculptures popping up frequently along my route. 

I love a city that invests in public art. 

After a little research, I've learned that these objects are only temporary, but we all get to enjoy them for at least a year.  They are a function of the 23rd International Sculpture Conference that is being held here in the beginning of October.  I won't be participating in the conference, but I am happy to be a beneficiary of all that beautiful (and some more interesting, than beautiful) work.

By the time it is complete, there should be 54 new installations to grace our shoreline.  I am lucky to see the new additions as they arrive, so I get a chance to consider each one individually instead of as one big tour.

One of these days I'll move on over to Word Press so I can show you a nice and tidy slideshow.  Until then, here are several other pieces in the exhibit.  I haven't found titles and artists' names for all of these, yet.  If you know, put it in the comments section and I'll update the captions.

The new one I saw today I must have circled several times, walked around it, walked within it, touched it in a few places, laid down beside it, and snapped several images. 

I like it.

It looks like a different piece of work from each angle.    

Some pieces that seem kind of bleh at first, become more interesting when taking it in with its surroundings.

Metal Response by Bill Vielehr
Some of them have better placement than others, like it is hard to photograph the best angle of a piece of work when there is a lot of busy stuff in the background, cars, lampposts, garbage cans, etc.  The surrounding detract from the work.

Folding Forms by Christopher Newman
Or in the case below, the surroundings are just as busy as the work.  Maybe too busy. 

by Ray Katz

I pacified the kids with ice cream so I could explore this one a bit.  I'd like to return at a time with long shadows.

These enormous horses are so at home at the Field Museum along with Sue, the T-Rex. 

Kelpies by Andy Scott
It took a few days before I noticed the little man looking up at the gigantic horse head.  Now it's one of my favorites.

Kelpies by Andy Scott
Looking at this always makes me want to scratch my ear.

Nautilus by Suzanne Horwitz
Whenever I look at Red Dancer, I have the urge to climb up and sit for awhile.  Impossible for me, but maybe a feat my 4yo.

Red Dancer by Gary Kulak
I love how this piece, Three Liner, moves.  Not just seeing a different piece from different angles, it is also different at different moments and days.

Three Liner by Evan Lewis
 The houses I find interesting, but challenging to photograph in the way that I see it.

I've passed Bouquet for weeks before finally photographing it.  Funny how when I don't like something, it is such a chore to just simply take a quick pic (not even a good photograph, sorry).

Bouquet by Terry Karpowicz
Flamenco Revisited is one I like from many different angles, but the iPhone just wasn't working with me that day (or really, I wasn't working well with it, perhaps).

Flamenco Revisited by Ruth Migdal
I think I need to start carrying around my big girl camera to reconsider a few pieces. 

If you get a chance, come to Chicago and take a walk along the lakefront.  I'd love to hear what your impressions are.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Beautiful Being Big

Have you met Andie Mitchell?

She lost 135 pounds and continues to keep it off after five years.  That makes her a weight loss rock star.  Read this, this and this (but please come back).  I did last night and it made me cry.  Then I read it again and it made me feel hopeful.  Instead of putting the kids to bed,  I read it again and it made me feel powerful.

Oh, did I say she's gorgeous, kind, inspirational, and cooks up a storm?  Not my style of eating, but I can relate to her passion in the kitchen.  That she discovered food only when she started focusing on losing the weight is something I strongly identify with.

Sounds counterintuitive, right?  Like, you're fat, of course you've discovered food, right?  But not really.  Zombie chomping doesn't really count.  To be honest with you all, when I eat mindlessly like a Zombie, I don't really like food.  I hate it.  I resent it.  And it is often tasteless to me.

It's that discovery of beautiful, whole foods and, oh, the wonderful things you can do with them, that counts.  I didn't discover that until I started trying to lose weight in a different way, through the exploration of food instead of the substitution of food (sugar free, fat free, low carb, no carb, slim fast, medifast, nutrisystem, etc.) or avoidance of food (coke, speed, dexatrim, stackers).  I've put a lot of miles between all that and today.  Even though I stumble a lot, it is a beautiful journey. 

My friend posted a link to these articles on FB last night.  My first comment was, "I wish I could write from her perspective."  As in, I wish I was writing this blog after losing 60 pounds and giving you all the love and wisdom that I've learned.  And then I reread this part,

"When you’re big for twenty years, the only twenty you’ve ever known, you’ll kindly not frown upon two decades. You’ll know that who you are was formed in there, and that’s beautiful."

I haven't been big the only 45 years I've been around.  I've been up and down, like a roller coaster.  However, if I look back at the last 12 plus years that I've been struggling with this extra 50 plus, I cannot set those years aside and hate them.  I birthed two babies, nursed them and worked on raising them up.  I've conceived a few others that didn't make it.  I went back to school (as a nursing mama) and earned my degree practically from scratch, in spite of moving states in the middle of it all.  I have nurtured a relationship with my spouse that seems to always be a challenge, yet the rewards are so great.  I have an amazing, amazing extended family that I try to keep close in spite of the hundreds and thousands of miles that separate us.  I've built a home that I cherish.  I've cultivated friendships with incredibly intelligent and beautiful women.  I've supported the dreams of my husband.  I've homeschooled my brilliant daughter (who is probably so much more book smart than I).  And somehow, I've kept pace with my active son.  Through it all, I've managed to create a few things, images, cloth, words, whatever that makes my soul sing. 

Not to toot my own horn.

I write this for me, as well.  A reminder that when I look in the mirror and cringe at what my body has become, there's a whole lot of lovin' in there.  Nothing to disregard with shame.  Only to embrace with pride.  I know that I continue to be formed in that big body.

That is beautiful.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Daily Exercise

Week 5, day 2 of my Couch to 5K program.  I simply stuck to the program today as I tried to fit in my run before everyone woke up.  Now, at 2 in the afternoon, I barely remember it.  I could have used a little extra sleep.  No matter.  It's a beautiful day and I'm taking the kids to the park, or pool, or lake.  That'll wake me up.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Just Around the Bend

Yesterday began with another power struggle over screen time.  This post isn't about that, or raising a tween, or whether excessive video gaming is harmful to kids, or helpful.  This is about the rage I felt when leaving the house, which dissipated into sadness, and then into resignation, or hopelessness.  My feet pounded the pavement as I would like to pound the walls and scream.  Parenting is hard.  Better to take it out on my soles rather than the souls for whom I am accountable.

Instead of turning back at the halfway mark, I kept going.  Around the aquarium, the sounds of Lakeshore Drive get a little softer.  To the end of the peninsula and around the planetarium (the rocket ship museum, my little one calls it) it is suddenly quiet with only the call of the occasional seagull and the lapping of the waves.  This is the place I get to when I let everything go.  I sat and watched the horizon as the great emotions slipped away, leaving a sense of clarity in its place. 

Remembering the slogan, "feelings aren't facts", I laughed to myself.  That used to annoy the hell out of me when someone would tell me that.  "But they're valid aren't they?"  I would whine.  Today, it's so good to know that I can get to the place where the feelings pass and then I can think clearly.  From here, I turn towards home with confidence as a parent, and great love for my children.

I can't always get away to pound the pavement.  To go far enough around the bend for all the crazy to melt away.  So I try to remember these moments.


What do you do to find clarity?

Daily Smoothie

Coconut Water

Oh, heaven.  This tastes like dessert.

Daily Exercise

Today was a walking day which is what I've been doing on my off days of my C25K program.  I walked like a speed walker (only not as fast, I'm sure) with my arms up and pumping along with my legs.  I could feel it in my breath.  3.6 miles in an hour.  Not bad.

I'd like to start working in swimming and biking.  That triathlon look really beautiful this last weekend.  Funny, in my workout clothes, when I'm most exposed compared to what I wear daily, I feel the most confident.  Possibly because of my purpose.  I feel very purposeful when dressed to workout.  I would, however, appreciate if someone made a more attractive line of workout wear for plus sizes.  If it's been done, I haven't seen it, yet.  Somebody, please?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Daily Smoothie

Gone before I could get a photo. 


I added a little ice to the blender because I like it cold.  Simple and delicious.  Yep, I'll do this one again.


Daily Exercise

If I waited until the sun was low, then I'd be all long and skinny.

Today was day 1 of week 5 of my Couch to 5K program.  It's a lot more running.  In spite of still feeling very crampy, I felt strong.  The first five minutes I barely shuffled, then a short walk and suddenly the spring came back into my step.  I was actually picking up my feet instead of shuffling and I felt great.  Breathing still feels like a challenge - like people turn around to look to see what's coming up on them huffing and puffing so hard.  I know it will get better, so I keep doing it.

Instead of turning home at the halfway mark, I continued on, rounding out the sea wall near the planetarium.  Once passed there, it all becomes so peaceful.  That was the gift I needed today.  I had left the house feeling blue after fighting with my 12yo.  I ended my run sitting by the water watching the horizon and listening to the waves lapping the shore.  It was the meditation that I needed to put our mother/daughter troubles into perspective.

There have been several sculptures popping up along the lakefront recently, so I stop to photograph a few of them on my walk home.  I'll put up a complete series when I get them all.

What did you do for exercise, today?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Smoothie of the Day

Green Apple

This one I liked.  With enough strawberries to balance the bananas so it didn't taste like just a banana smoothie.  Had it for lunch and snack time.

Jicama Rice

I've been looking for a new raw food plan to try and just ordered Ani Phyo's new book, Ani's 15-Day Fat Blast.  While I'm waiting for it to arrive, I was poking around her blog for some inspiration and found this simple and delicious ditty, Mexican Style Jicama Rice.  It took about five minutes to put together and was so light and yummy.  I'm a rice junkie, and it can make me feel so heavy.  Jicama as a substitute pleased my taste buds just as much, but didn't have that compelling addictive trigger that a starchy rice would have had.

Try it.

Daily Excercise

Ooooh, bad cramps this morning.  Because I knew my sister would be sending a text soon including her daily exercise photo, I had to pull myself out of bed and into my sneakers.  I walked right into a triathlon this morning.  It slowed me down a bit as I had to find a clear path to walk, but the crowds, the athletes and the dogs (lots of dogs) were all so festive and motivating.  I think I'd like to try one of these some day.  First, I have to get through a 5k.  Soon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Daily Exercise

I woke up early and got my walk in while the house was still asleep.  Reminded me of the days of walking the dog.   This is what greeted me upon entering the harbor.  Good morning sun.

I was going to finish off week 4 of my Couch to 5k program, but felt a knot forming in my hip.  I ran yesterday, so I walked today instead.  I've figured it is just about exactly 3 miles from home to the museum and back again.  Nice.

Too early to give you all a big smile, but feeling the accomplishment nonetheless.

Smoothie of the Day

Dandelion Greens
Green Apple

Too tart, and not enough calories.  So I added...

Chia Seeds

Still "special" but drank it anyway. 

Oh, The Drama

You may notice that I seldom write about my kids, especially my older daughter.  She is twelve and proficient on the Internet, and so are her friends, so I am careful to preserve her dignity at all costs.

With that...


I'd love to pour it all out.

Any of you have a tween in the house?

This photo makes my face look squooshed.

This girl is amazing in so many ways.  As she matures, we can talk about books that I like to read (she's a voracious reader, so it's hard for her old mamma to keep up).  She likes clothing styles that I could only dream of wearing when I was young.  She can babysit her little brother.  Make intelligent observations at an art exhibit.  Criticize the harsh comments made by Heidi Klum and the other judges of Project Runway instead of criticizing the designs.  Clean the kitty litter.  Run to the store for a red bell pepper.  Tuck her brother into bed.

Oh the things a twelve-year-old can do.

I'm going to stop here, and keep it positive.

PS:  I am especially grateful for the Zoloft that kept me from screaming bloody murder and dragging her off to her room by her pony tail.  Whew.  Glad I got that off my chest.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What's for Supper: Raw Falafel

Falafels are among my favorite foods, but packed full of chick peas, they are also among my most troublesome foods.  You'd be able to smell me for days and know I ate something wrong - ewe.  I might have said this before, this is one of the big reasons that I became interested in raw foods.  It's all about bloating, farting and pooping.  Oh and the splitting headaches.

A raw menu automatically eliminates my most troublesome foods, dairy, legumes, including beans, lentils (so sad) and soy, meat and a diet heavy in grains.  This recipe doesn't look like your traditional falafel, but it tastes like it, and they are amazing.  I've served it several times this summer to different guests and they've all loved it.  All but the kids, because they're picky and I've let them get away with it.  I need to say this more often:

My kids are seriously spoiled.
Here goes...

RAW Falafels (adapted from The Garden Diet - in other words, a lot less salt and lemon)

- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin (or more, if you're like me)
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp raw tahini
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp salt

In food processor, grind sunflower seeds into a powder.

Ground Sunflower Seeds

 Add remaining ingredients until mixed.  The texture seems similar to ground beef.  (I have such a big food processor that I often double the recipe for it to blend well.  You can freeze the extras, but I will typically eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.)

Looks like hamburger - I tricked my daughter into actually tasting it.

Tahini Dressing

-  2 tbsp Tahini
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Watch the lemon, it can overpower easily.

Whisk in a bowl.  Add warm water to desired consistency.  I like it thinner for it to soak into all the veggies.


- Cucumber
- Tomatoes
- Red Onion
- Olives
- Cilantro or Parsley

Chop, chop, chop. 


With a romaine lettuce leaf, kale or a collard leaf, fill with a scoop or two of falafel, toppings and drown in tahini dressing.  If using the kale or collard, massage with a bit of olive oil first.  Eat with gusto.

For leftovers, I often serve the remaining ingredients atop a bed of lettuce or chopped kale and toss with dressing.

When I serve this to my family and guests, I might pick up a roasted chicken for an easy addition for my favorite carnivores and serve with whole grain pita bread.  I will also make up some grilled veggies to add to the toppings.  I'm not so raw that I won't enjoy some tasty grilled veggies.

Serve with love.

Bon Appetit

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Daily Jog

I've written before about working the Couch to 5K program.  It's been 2 1/2 months already, yet I'm only on my 4th week of the program.  No matter, I'm all about not beating myself up these days.  It's a conscious decision, and it works.  Although, I'm not too proud to make self-deprecating comments to add a bit of humor.  Not like the woman in one of my seminars at BlogHer who said to another, "It really hurts me when you call yourself stupid."  She must feel hurt a lot.  Sorry, I deviate.

I love these shoes so much that I ordered two pairs.

My sister was such an amazing support to me while she was visiting here from New York, that we've continued the momentum by texting photos to each other of our daily walks and/or jogs.  It's been really fun.  Then I noticed that she started her own blog to track her progress.  So excited.  You may see me link to her often.  Her text is that final thing that prompts me out the door - especially today when I wasn't feeling the love.  I'm lucky she's an hour ahead of me.

Today was week 4, day 1 of the program.  It continues to be walking and jogging in short intervals, but with this week, the jogging intervals have increased in time somewhat.  I felt like I was running on two brittle sticks this morning.  My calves and shin splints were tight and hurt with every step.  It wasn't until near the end of the program that I stopped for a drink of water and stretched just a bit (really not much), that it all loosened up.  Next time, after the beginning five minute warmup walk, I'll pause and do a few stretches.  That will save me the humility of shuffling along the lakefront instead of jogging.

Every fitness programs needs solid goals.  When texting with a girlfriend last weekend, I found my goal.  I'm going to participate in the Hot Chocolate 5K in Grant Park on November, 4.  Hopefully, I'll do more running than shuffling by then.  Check out what's in the goodie bag:

I love the orange hoodie.  If you're planning to run this, let me know.  I'd love to meet up.

I've been posting photos and ingredients of my daily smoothie to Instagram and Twitter.  Follow me if you need inspiration to shake up your routine.  With smoothies and juices, I've never followed specific recipes.  I just check to see what I have and what needs to be used up first and then try to make a good mix.  Yesterday's was a disaster, so avoid the grapefruit juice, OJ, spinach, raspberry, and banana combination.  Too acidic and a waste of perfectly good raspberries.  So sad.

So my mornings have come together to be fitness and nutrition perfection.  It's the rest of the day that continues to be a great challenge.  Still plugging along.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Benefits of a Walking Partner

My NYC sister is in town this week with her three boisterous, fabulous boys.  After a summer of travel and eating disaster, I've been determined to not let this visit derail my plans to get back to raw.  And it hasn't.  She is a willing participant in all things healthy, eating better and exercise being among them.  Each day we begin with a long and rigorous walk along the lakefront, riverfront or park.  My corner of Chicago is a great place to walk, for sure (f'shur! to all you '80s gals out there).

Day 1, Grant Park
During the week, I've suspended my Couch to 5K program because my sister is struggling with her knees.  No problem, I've been there many times before.  So I thought this week of walking would be a synch.  Nope, not at all.  My calves are sore.  My butt is sore.  My hips ache.  Not in a bad, injurious sort of way, but in that healthy, I know my muscles are really working sort of way.

Day 2, Columbia Yacht Club
In the five days that she has been here, we've walked every day.  Today, awaking to the sounds of thunderstorms, I thought would be the one day we would miss it, but we managed to squeak it in between showers.  It was a lovely walk, too.  I love the lakefront on a rainy day, with the grey sky reflected in the water.  So tranquil.  Except for the trucks and golf carts setting up for the "Elvis is Alive 5k".  I'm going to run this next year.  I said it here, so hold me to it.

Day 3, somewhere along the lakefront.
From our daily walking routine, I've enjoyed many benefits.  I see my sister only once a year, so our walks have been a peaceful respite from our temporarily shared household of manic kid activity.  We get to catch up with each other.  Gripe about the world.  Confess our weaknesses.  Support one another.  Share our passions.  Love one another.

Day 4, Chicago River, Lakeshore Drive Bridge
We also get the benefit of the extra endorphins from all that good exercise.  Believe me, we need it to keep up with all these kids.  After we're finished, I've got health on the brain, so I've been whipping up some delicious smoothies for breakfast and I'm geared up for a healthy lunch to keep up the momentum.  And with all this good movement and natural whole food fiber goodness, my bowels have cleansed themselves thoroughly.  Okay, I'm talking poop here, and if you're my age and had a few babies, you know what a great thing it is to start the day with a good poop.  I am definitely lighter on my feet.  Speaking of being lighter, I've released six pounds this week.  Much of that is the product of having started the week being bloated and backed up.  But six pounds lighter sure feels great.

Day 5, Buckingham Fountain
In a nutshell, the benefits of having a walking partner, especially someone you like...
  1. Motivation to get up and out.
  2. Great bonding time.
  3. Emotionally therapeutic.
  4. Increased energy.
  5. Focus on better eating.
  6. Better Poop. 
Day 6, Shedd Aquarium
I do enjoy the meditative solitude of walking on my own, but I will miss having my sister as a walking partner much more.

I love you, sis.