The Most Important Meal of the Day

I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. Part of my problem is that I’m not a morning person. So I really don’t want to eat first thing. And, if I’m being totally honest… with my “artistic lifestyle,” sometimes by the time I’m up and around, it’s not what we would technically call “morning.” But the Dr Oz cleanse showed me that I can- and should- become a breakfast convert. I had energy throughout the day, and it anchored my morning routine. Routine is something I really need to work on. But. Baby steps. Breakfast shall be the first of these.

As I explained at the beginning of Project 40, some of my challenges will be habits. And eating a good breakfast is the first of these habits. I want to go 30 consecutive days eating a good breakfast. I was going to say I’m on Day 2. But then I remembered I’ve been eating breakfast every day since Thursday because of the cleanse. So I guess I’m really on Day 6! Hooray for accomplishments!

Of course, it can’t be just any breakfast. It needs to be one that actually fuels me. Here’s where my new love of smoothies comes in. I don’t want to have just that every day. We need variety. But since I had so many of these ingredients in hand and my blender was all warmed up, I’ve gone to this easy solution so far. I’ve come up with one that feels too delicious to be healthy. I am not a nutritionist, but I just don’t see anything bad about this. And I am full and have energy. So. Here’s the list of ingredients. I wouldn’t call it a recipe, because I don’t even measure.

One banana
Cocoa powder (like… A spoonful)
Almond milk
A handful of spinach
Almond butter (again, a spoonful or so)
Coconut water (just a little, to help sweeten the Cocoa powder)

Warning: green and brown do not make a pretty color. That’s why there’s no picture. It’s worth it I swear.

I need a name- any suggestions? Let me know if you try it, and we can come up with a name together!

Since this is a short post, I thought this might be a good time to check in with Project 40 progress.

Physically, I feel pretty awesome. I’ve lost five pounds, and it’s been less than two weeks. (But part of that was during a cleanse.) I’m feeling inspired by my results, but need to stick with it! Already today I haven’t worked out yet. I need to go for a run but couldn’t get Lily to school and am headed out of town tomorrow and my whole day tomorrow is full so I need to pack tonight and I have to do laundry and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarg! If it wasn’t for the accountability of this blog, I probably would skip it. However. I will run tonight when I get home. I will make it a priority, and I will be glad when I’m done.

As far as my challenges, here’s where it stands.

Completed Challenges:
1. Presidential Physical Fitness Test
2. Shrink Session
3. Dr. Oz 3-day Cleanse

Challenges in Progress:
4. 4-week Summer Fitness

Habits in Progress:
5. Healthy Breakfast every morning (6 consecutive days)
6. Making an effort to drink water every day (2 consecutive days)

Upcoming challenges:
7. Riverside Run (3 miles) on May 10

In order to do 40 challenges in a year, I need to do 3-4 a month. By May 27 I will have completed 7. Who has two healthy thumbs and is on pace to be ahead of schedule?

This 39-year-old.

Fit Summer 4 Week Challenge: Introduction

Some thoughts on a Monday morning, before returning to the weight room after a 10+ year hiatus:

I am going to look like an idiot
I am not strong enough for these exercises
What if I can’t find the machines?
What if I can’t find the dumbbell?

There was a time in my life when I knew my way around a gym. I was a cheerleader at Ohio University. So I worked out with other Ohio University Varsity athletes. I was taught correct technique by great coaches and I was with other tiny girls. So there was no reason to be intimidated. Armed with this knowledge, confidence, and physical strength, I walked right into my local gym after graduating from Ohio U. I worked with a trainer- one of the football coaches at the high school where I taught music. He often reminded me of how strong and tough I was.

Then my yet-to-be-diagnosed depression started to get really bad.

Then I lost ten pounds from my already super-thin frame.

Then I moved it New York.

I can’t remember precisely the last time I worked out in a weight room. But I’m gonna place it somewhere in the 2001/ 2002 era. Since then, life has happened. I’ve moved and I’ve started my freelance career and I’ve become a mom. None of that would be conducive to sticking to an exercise regimen. And it certainly doesn’t lend itself towards starting a new routine.

Even though I’m now really comfortable at our YMCA, I haven’t yet ventured into the weight area. I just zoom past it on my way back to the treadmills.

But that all changed today.

My next challenge is the Fit Summer 4 week challenge from the Anytime Fitness blog.

I chose it because like the Dr Oz cleanse, it was popular on Pinterest. I liked the idea of getting geared up for summer. (I live near the beach. So unlike being in NYC, wanting to have a beach body is a genuine concern.) I liked how detailed it was, giving exact instructions for each day. And the plan starts with taking the Presidential Physical Fitness Test, which I already did. Boom.

But there were a lot of things about the plan that intimidate me. First, I have to use the weight room. (See self-talk above.) Second, it’s six workouts a week for four weeks. That is the most intense workout schedule I’ve had since I was in marching band and cheering in the same season. (I would go home each night and eat a whole pizza by myself.) And third, even if I had the courage to walk into the weight room and the commitment to do all those workouts, I was worried about being physically strong enough to do them.

If it wasn’t for this blog and Project 40, I very well may have bailed this morning. But. I was feeing so good after the cleanse- both physically and emotionally- that I knew I had to try.

I took Lily to the Childcare area and headed to my warm-up. I only had a few minutes, so just five minutes of walking and five of jogging for a total of 3/4 of a mile. I had to remind myself that this was just a warm-up. And it was time for the real work to begin.

It started with core stuff. Bicycle crunches and superman pose. While I have unwanted belly fat, my core muscles are freakishly strong. Three sets later I was fatigued for sure but feeling good.

On to the chest press. I had watched a few instructional videos to make sure I did it correctly. More because I didn’t want to look foolish than for want of proper technique.

Three sets. Boom.

Then Dumbbell Flies. Also studied ahead of time. I was the only female in the free weight area. But clearly we belong there because look! This bench has a cut-out for ponytails!


(It’s probably not for ponytails.)

But then. The lat pulls.

It’s not that I’m not strong enough for this. I absolutely am. But there is a problem.


That’s me standing under that bar, wondering how I’m going to reach it.

It occurred to me to stand on the bench, grab the bar, and jump down. Wheeeeeee!!!

I felt like that’s probably frowned upon.

I only had one choice. I would need to (dramatic chords) ask for help. There was someone sitting nearby. I couldn’t quite tell if he was a YMCA employee or just working out. But it was a mundane enough favor I figured it didn’t matter. So I asked if he could pull the bar down for me. He did.

And then he walked away.

Dude. I was totally gonna do more than one set.

So now my choices were to do only one set, go and ask him to stay nearby so I could do the other two sets, or rest-ish and power through a second set even though I really hadn’t rested because I had to hold the bar down between the two sets.

If we’ve ever met, you know I went with that last option.

Three sets of bent over rows, a quick cool down (because I know it’s important, but Childcare was closing) and some stretches, and I was done.


What had I been worried about?

The whole thing took under and hour and was absolutely within my fitness capabilities. Now it’s just the commitment I need to work on.

One workout down. Twenty-three to go.

The Dr Oz Three Day Cleanse: A Review

I’m sitting here enjoying my first cup of coffee in three days. The last time I went that long without coffee I had the stomach flu. This experience was considerably more pleasant.

First, the plan. I want to give credit where credit is due. So. You can find the whole plan here on the Dr Oz site. (That way you are getting the information from the correct source.) Everything you need is right there!

Next, some tips.

First, I just noticed that Dr Oz says you’ll spend $16 a day. I’m not sure where Dr Oz gets his groceries. I didn’t even go to Whole Foods. I went to Stop and Shop and bought organic, which I find to be reasonable. Even then, I spent around $150 for the three days. He may not be including the supplements, Epsom salt, and lavender. Maybe he figures you already have those things. I did not. The only thing I had was Cayenne pepper, because Cincinnati Chili is a regular staple in our home. Also, berries are out of season, and very expensive. But I suppose if you have lots of supplements lying around and your fridge is already stocked with coconut water and almond milk and almond butter (which was $11) and you’re just buying the fresh fruit and vegetables… then sure, Dr. Oz. Sixteen dollars a day.


Next tip, the lunch shake.

I guess a lot of people don’t like it. I did. All a matter of taste. But it did take me three days to figure out how to get it to blend properly. The cucumbers and celery tend to jam up the blades. I finally realized on the last day that these need to be cut up pretty small. Then I blended just those two things then added and blended the other solid ingredients one by one.

Speaking of chopping…

A lot of people did all of the chopping/ prep ahead of time. I’m just not that girl. But I can see where that would have been a good idea.

As for the snack shake, I only had it one day. (Day three, when my body was a little more accustomed to having alllllllllll that fruit.) I read another review that suggested having the breakfast shake as the snack. I agree in principle. It is the tastiest and lightest. However. If it is any time other than the few weeks a year when raspberries are in season, it is also the most expensive shake. I spent $15 just on raspberries for four shakes. Just something to think about.

Also, I’m a grazer. So rather than having shakes specifically at meal time, I was just sort of always working on one. (I was home a lot for the past three days, making this easier. But I grabbed them and carried them with me a few places, too.)

My final tip, and keep in mind I am not a nutritionist and I am certainly not Dr. Oz, is that I went rogue after a day. Yep. I’m a rebel. I never fully finished the plan each day. I got so full from the shakes I just couldn’t drink any more. So the second and third days I had the dinner ingredients (which I thought were a little gross as a shake) as a salad instead. And on day three I even had things in a different order. Because I am a rebel. And because it was lunch time but my daughter ate all of my green apples and I was hungry and couldn’t wait for my husband- who said she could have the apples- to go to the store and replace them. I figured it was the principle we were talking about here, especially since the snack can be any shake you want. So it must not be an EXACT science. I decided if it was a matter of getting that nutrition into my body, or not getting it into my body, I’d skip the blender and go in the order that worked for me.

And now (drumroll) the results.

I have to say, I’m a fan.

I’m going to stay away from numbers here. If there is one things trying to conceive taught me, it’s that I can become obsessed with numbers. And when the numbers have to do with my body, they often have little effect on the intended results. So I’m being careful during Project 40 not to have everything come down to weight and BMI.

So here’s what.

I feel better.

I am in a good mood. I have what feels like natural energy. (And that’s coming from a coffee addict with no coffee.) I worked on some overwhelming household chores last night (sorting toys….) without complaint. My stomach feels like it has flattened. It looks like it has flattened. I just…. feel better.

I did have a few of the side effects that Dr. Oz warned us about. Nothing major at all. I was a little sleepy and grouchy until about halfway through. I also had a mild headache. And it took my stomach about two days to adjust to all that fruit. I for sure felt nauseous for a while. But after two days that all went away and was replaced by feeling pretty great.

I learned a ton over the last three days. I’ll try to break it down as effectively as I can because I am a teacher.

1. I can do it! I have never done such a specific dietary plan before. I was daunted by the idea of no coffee, no meat, no dairy, no bread…. But I did it. And after about a day I didn’t even crave those things. I had thought of doing a vegan week this year for Project 40 but wasn’t sure I could manage. Now I know I absolutely can. (I didn’t even realize until it was almost over that this was a vegan plan.)

2. Planning is key. I know I do better when I have a menu plan for the week. I know that. I need to remember.

3. Almond milk is awesome. So is almond butter. (And coconut water) We’re lucky that the only food allergy we have in this family is Food Dye. This cleanse introduced me to a few things that will stay in my diet.

4. Whole food smoothies are the bomb. I’ll be having them for breakfast and snacks in the future. They won’t make up my entire diet. But they’ll be sticking around.

5. I care what I put in my body. This was the biggest lesson of them all. I feel better. (“So much better! Thank you doc for taking all the ouchies away!” Yep. A Dr Oz/ Disney Jr mash-up. You’re welcome.) And I want to continue feeling better. So everything in moderation. But there will be some changes coming.

This cleanse was done as the 3rd part of a year-long blog series called Project 40: 40 health and fitness challenges in preparation for my 40th birthday. You can see all of the Project 40 blogs here.

“One Day More” (of the Dr Oz Cleanse)

I’m just. So. Full.

Yesterday at 8 PM I had just finished my lunch shake. I knew I couldn’t consume one more ounce of blended fruits and vegetables. But I knew I should probably have more calories. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt full and hungry at the same time before, but there it was.

So. I broke the shakes down into ingredients and just ate them plain. Not all of them. But I had a banana and a spoonful of almond butter as a snack. Then I made a salad with the ingredients of the dinner shake. Not only was I able to finish it that way, but it tasted a lot better, too. It looked a little something like this.


Ok it looked exactly like that.

The only issue was that I didn’t get all of the coconut water and cayenne, which is what I used as dressing. And a lot of the flax seeds sank to the bottom. But I felt so much better, and my digestive system appreciated having something to break down.

Today is my last day. My husband has asked me to bring him coffee from Starbucks, and suggested we all go to the diner for pancakes. I am ready to get back to life. I am noticing a flatter belly though…

Full report and wrap- up tomorrow. After I have my coffee.

Day 1 of the Dr Oz Cleanse

Yesterday I completed day 1. It really wasn’t as hard as I thought. I wanted coffee. But didn’t feel like I NEEDED it. (Often I think it’s not so much that I need it. It’s that I really really like coffee.) I wasn’t hungry. In fact, I was too full. I had sort of a late breakfast and a pretty lazy day which led to a really late lunch. I had to start the dinner shake before I had even had the snack and couldn’t finish it. The plan is to have four shakes a day. I had 2 1/2. But I’m really small and don’t have a huge appetite. So I’m hoping that doesn’t make a difference. I am shooting for all four today though, because as my friend Andrea pointed out, I am a perfectionist and enjoy sticking to the exact plan.

The shakes themselves are pretty tasty. Breakfast is raspberry and banana-based with almond butter. Lunch is the one most people don’t like- it has a lot of celery and kale, but tastes mostly like apple to me.

Then there’s dinner. That’s the one I couldn’t finish. It’s blueberry which is great. But has cayenne pepper. Weird.

Energy-wise, I feel so full all the time I’m having trouble getting motivated to do anything. And by the end of the night yesterday I couldn’t even think about fruit. I am thinking about salty/ savory foods a bit, because this is all just sweet. Sure there’s cayenne pepper in the dinner shake. But it’s with blueberries, so….

Did you ever wonder about Pinterest? Like, did you ever want to put something on there that’s totally absurd just to see if people do it? I know it happens. I’ve seen it happen. People are really gullible.

Am I one of those really gullible people???

My belly is really full of fruit.

The Dr Oz Three-Day Cleanse: Introduction


I didn’t have coffee this morning.

I can’t really wrap my head around that. But it’s true. I had one cup of green tea. All in the name of art. (And, you know, getting healthy and stuff. But it’s easier for me to commit to things if it’s in the name of an artistic venture. If that sounds crazy to you, you’re probably not an artist.)

I have decided to do a cleanse. I have never done anything like this before. So I’m a little nervous. And I wanted to be careful to choose one that didn’t sound like something through which the human body should not be put. So I chose the Dr. Oz three-day cleanse. It’s totally food-based. I recognize the things I’ll be putting into my body over the next three days. In fact, you’ll recognize them too. Here they are laid out on my table.


Yummy, right?

I’m not terribly concerned about hunger. I am not a huge eater anyway, and the smoothies seem pretty substantial. I am worried about no coffee for three days though. And I also hope that drinking my tea plain, rather than with a slice of lemon and stevia as suggested, is acceptable. Because I absolutely cannot tolerate any sort of fruit in my tea. Seriously. It’s a thing with me. And I figured the stevia couldn’t possibly be doing anything beneficial. And I like plain green tea. But if this whole thing is a bust, we’ll blame the tea.

There are a few things I’m really looking forward to with this challenge:

1. Seeing what sort of benefits it has on my body. I’m hoping for some belly loss and improved energy.

2. The evening bath each night. That’s a nightly ritual for me anyway. I’ve always been a bath person. But this one is with Epsom salts and lavender. And it’s mandatory. The things we do for our art, right?

3. I know exactly what I’ll be eating and when and how and all of the ingredients are on hand. That’s pretty exciting. It occurs to me that with some planning, this could always be true. WHY HASN’T ANYONE TOLD ME THERE COULD BE SUCH PEACE OF MIND IN MEAL PLANNING???
(Lots of people have told me. Especially Flylady. For years.)

One final note before I finish my first breakfast shake. (Which is delicious, by the way.) I will share the full 3-day cleanse plan. But since I haven’t actually done the cleanse yet, I’m not comfortable putting the information out there. I’ll share it when I’m done 🙂

Training for my Training

One of the places I am the most comfortable in my life is on stage.

On stage I have no issues doing things like this.

Maggie the Pirate, 2011 (photo credit Erik Carter)

Or this:

Assassins, 2010 (I’m giving Colonel Sanders the evil eye)

Or even this.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, 2006. Nice hair, right?

My stage and teaching experience, combined with being the Mommy of a little girl who is a NUT gives me ample opportunity to be silly.

Lily being a nut.

But in my everyday life, I am very, very serious.

In fact it is difficult for me to be silly off stage, or when it’s not for my kid’s benefit.

Me wearing bunny ears. Because it was Halloween. This is apparently the look I have while wearing bunny ears. I needed to counteract the silly with some very grown-up coffee.


Maybe silly isn’t the right word.

I know how to be silly. And in the right environment I even enjoy it.

But you know what I’m just not good at? Like, not at all? Not even a little bit?

Looking foolish.

As a matter of fact, the fear of looking foolish paralyzes me. I will avoid new opportunities, even fun ones, if I think I may end up looking foolish in the process. The trouble with that is that MOST new opportunities present at least the possibility of looking or feeling foolish. Which is probably why I spend so much time doing what I already know how to do.

Except… Project 40 is the opposite of all that. It’s about stretching myself physically and emotionally. Doing things, trying things, and potentially (gasp) failing at things. Maybe even publicly. Yikes. It will take major courage. And finding comfort in the possibility of foolishness will take practice.

So a few weeks ago, I decided to make the leap.

We are active members of our local YMCA. We go several nights a week to swim. And we attend as many family events as we can. A few months ago there was a new exciting addition to the family nights. This thing:

Forgive the blurry picture. It’s an action shot.

Ryan and Lily were psyched. I was entertained. For them, of course. It didn’t even enter my imagination that I would ever go on that thing. I might fall down. And people might laugh at me. Not with me. AT me. Nope. Not gonna happen.

But a few weeks ago as we started packing up the swim bag for family night, something clicked. If I was gonna do this thing- this huge project in a totally public forum- I was going to have to learn to fail, (not a strength) and then laugh. So I tossed my suit in with the rest of the family’s and put it on at the YMCA without fanfare. Didn’t want to discuss my plans in case I chickened out.

My first attempt at the giant bouncy thingy resulted in me falling in the water in about four seconds. I screamed on the way down. Because I mean! that’s what girls do when they are having fun and fall, right?

I vowed to cut the screaming next time.

Once I figured out how to get past the second obstacle (after many failed attempts) I never fell again and was able to complete the bouncy thingy over and over. Only then was the camera allowed to come into play.

Here I am trying to get around the first obstacle. I am deciding that clearly I’m too small for this. I fall back on that excuse a lot.


Here’s where it occurs to me that I am potentially taking this too seriously. Progress!

….and… Regression. Because the look on my face here tells us quite clearly that I am solving serious world problems.

Feeling a little more confident…

See how my hands are in the air? That’s me letting loose.

The bouncy thing at the YMCA (it probably has a better name, btw) was a test for me. Can I put myself out there? Can I take risks? Not just physical ones. But emotional ones. Can I be vulnerable enough? If this was any indication, then yes. I absolutely can.

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