Salmon Strawberry Almond Salad with a Mango Poppy Seed Dressing.

My husband and I went on our first vacation this past week, which is why it has been quiet around here. We took our children for a magical time to Disney World in Florida. In an attempt to save money on the trip, we stayed at a villa with full amenities. This way I could cook most meals. I was craving some seafood since we were surrounded by a tropical backdrop. Additionally i began to understand that a day at Disney made for one tired Momma. What could I cook that would satisfy, be quick to make, taste great, and hit the spot. This is what I came up with.

Salmon Strawberry Almond Salad with a Mango Poppy Seed Dressing.

Ingredients:
-1 lemon -1 lb Wild-Caught Salmon fillet (If it smells fishy, do not buy) -Salt and Pepper
-1 cup chopped strawberries (or sliced if you prefer) -1/4 cup slivered almonds – 1/4 cup Mango Poppy Seed Dressing (or to taste) -1 Package Baby Spring Lettuce (Rinsed and Dried)

Directions:
One: Preheat oven to 425 Degrees F. While the oven is heating up, Slice up your Strawberries. Cut Lemon in half.

Two: Place the Salmon in a baking dish, and season it with Salt and Pepper. Drizzle the Salmon with lemon juice, by squeezing one half of the Lemon at a time, over the fillet evenly with one hand. Use your opposite hand as a sieve to catch seeds. Slice the juiced Lemon and place the slices of Lemon directly onto the Salmon.

Three: Place the Salmon in the pre-heated oven and enjoy the aroma for about 15-20 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your fillet. You are looking for firm and flaky texture. While that is getting yummy, place your Slivered Almonds evenly on a cookie sheet with salt and pepper if desired. Half way through the Salmon baking time, place the Almonds in the oven.
salmon oven

Four: Toss the Baby Spring lettuce into a bowl. Once everything in the oven has come out, place the toasted Almond Slivers and chopped Strawberries evenly over the bed of lettuce. Use a fork to pull chunks of Salmon out and lay across the bed of green and red goodness. You may or may not want to keep the skin. It is whatever your preference is. I usually allow my family to dress the salad to their liking, so I don’t have to receive complaints and it does not get soggy with pre-dressing. Serve.

salmon salad

This salad as a meal serves 4 and as a side to soup may serve up to 6. Good crusty bread and a bit of dipping olive oil with fresh-cracked black pepper would make a great add to this dish. One soup that may pair well is corn chowder with a hint of lime.

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Back to School Sanity

Back to School Sanity

Whether you are the student or the one responsible for a student this is a crazy time of year. You begin to get used to the summer routine just to be thrown a curve ball. I know because I am a student and in my senior year. These are a few things I have done in the past that may help you as well:

1. Get rest. As plain and simple as this may sound, how often do we do so? No one can be their best without rest.

2. Pack lunches the night before, even for those who pack lunch and are not attending school. This avoids the morning rush. Maybe even get the kids involved in making it themselves. They may be less likely to complain too.

3. Get organized. Have a family calendar prominently placed with everyone’s schedule scribbled in. Maybe even chores, so it helps streamline expectations of the day.

4. A nightly routine that brings everyone together, even if only for 10 minutes. Stress can be reduced with a routine and the comfort of knowing you have each other at the end of the day and can provide security.

5. Set your coffee alarm and use it. Maybe you prefer hot tea or oatmeal, but set the hot something to be made, waiting for you to rise. Nothing is more stressful than running late.

6. Reward yourself or your student with something at the end of the day. It may be a nice warm bath, story time, good book in the quiet, or even a square of good chocolate. Find time for something you enjoy even if it is only 5-10 minutes.

7. Remind yourself (or your student) of the positive moments or accomplishments of the day. It is okay to vent over the horrible mishaps and learn from them, but focus on the positive. It boosts your confidence and makes the learning and social aspects of school easier to cope with.

8. Eat well. When you eat well, you nourish your body. When your body feels nourished it keeps additional stress signals sent by your hormones, away. It also boosts your confidence in your decision-making.

9. Remind yourself that perfection is not the goal. Your best is. The ability to let go of the pressure to know everything opens you to become more of a knowledge vessel. It makes the learning experience more exciting and less stressful. Whether you teach or are a student there is always something to learn.

I hope this helps you feel better about the new road ahead! What do you do that helps you or your students feel less stressed? Tips and tricks are welcome!!

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Drive-thru Rut?

There are times you have to hit a drive-thru. It happens. A new meal that Chick-fil-a is serving is Chick-fil-a Grilled Market Salad. It is Food Snob approved.

I actually do not like eating a salad when I am out, but this one is super yummy! Loaded with berries and apples and sprinkled with blue cheese, it has enough flavor to satisfy any appetite. Topped with grilled chicken it comes in as a low-fat, low-calorie option. Only 180 calories and a big portion you can easily say yes.

Warning: It does come with granola and roasted nut blend on the side that are not included in the caloric count. The granola is 60 calories and the nuts are 80 calories. Compared to a chicken sammy this is still a great option and sprinkle away! The recommended dressing is Zesty Apple Cider vinaigrette, but beware if you use the whole packet it is over 200 calories. A light drizzle would go a long way since there is already so much flavor. You could also pick out some blue cheese to help make up the difference if you really want to. Omit the chicken and you have a vegetarian option and fewer calories.

This meal has anti-oxidants, iron, lean protein, good fats, and great flavor. I would obviously like to see organic produce, but this is fast food after all. Rating: 8.5/10

Check it out below:
http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Food/Salad-Detail/

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Get Your Head in the Game

Get Your Head in the Game

One of my favorite classes at Miami is Sport and Exercise Psychology. It is incredible how much information you gain about life, business, mental disorders, team-building, and coaching to victory. One piece of clear truth is your outcome is derived from what is inside your head. Everyone needs different mental preparation to motivate them through the finish line and different approaches work for different people. There are professionals that work with teams to improve their performance. You could be Peyton Manning, but if you have a catastrophe it could make you a JaMarcus Russell. It is all on how you prepare, face obstacles, and what you choose to do after. Confidence is key.

Here are a few tips for building the right confidence from scratch:

1. If you are currently a couch potato, walk at a slow pace. You heard me. Start slow to build the brain’s ability to know where you are in space. This gives you confidence with each step. You program the body to know where you are and it boosts your confidence to take another step and go faster. Think about a baby learning to walk. He or she slowly gains confidence to let go and take more and more steps. Then they run!

2. Eat well. When you eat well you are more likely to make other healthy choices. Who feels like running after scarfing down a Big Mac? When you make small good choices, you are teaching your body to enjoy it and it begins to crave good choices.

3. Visualization. As silly as this may sound, you can motivate yourself by imagining yourself exercising or doing some physical activity. If you cannot honestly picture yourself, think of someone who you know can. Maybe even imagine someone whose physical fitness you admire. Understand that it is a possible feat for even you. The 4 minute mile was thought to be impossible until someone did it. Then several people were able to do it.

4. Tell yourself that you can! List reasons why you need to and ways you can start small and build up. Squeeze in small bouts at first and then soon you will find ways to make more time, if schedule is the problem.

5. When you fall short, do not beat yourself up. (Preaching to the choir here.) Some people use failure to fuel their need to succeed. For others it can keep you from even trying. You cannot succeed if you never try. It gives you a place to improve and a goal to reach. Failure is an option. Not trying should not be.

6. When you do something good, reward yourself. Take a moment when you complete a task to soak in the good feeling. Absolutely enjoy and revel in the moment as big or small as it may be. Some may need a physical reward, like new gear or new music. Take in praise from others and allow their words of affirmation to sink in.

7. Keep it up. Catch yourself when you start to make excuses and dispel them. You can do it as long as you have reasonable but challenging expectations.

With all of this in your mental toolbox, you can be unstoppable! Go from where you are to where you want to be. The only thing keeping you from your goal is your mindset. Success is just around the corner. Go get it!

What motivates you to be healthy? Any tricks you use to stay motivated?

Here are a few related research articles and literature to check out for more information:
1. Impact of Treadmill Exercise on Efficacy Expectations, Physical Activity, and Stroke Recovery by: Marianne Shaughnessy, PhD, CRNP,1,2 Kathleen Michael, PhD,2 and Barbara Resnick, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP2
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249605/#R2 (study)
2.Promoting walking as an adjunct intervention to group cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders—A pilot group randomized trial by: Dafna Meroma, Philayrath Phongsavana, Renate Wagnerb, Tien Cheya, c, Claire Marnaneb, c, Zachary Steelc, Derrick Silovec, Adrian Baumana
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887618507001806 (study)
3. Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. by: Bandura, Albert
New York, NY, US: W H Freeman/Times Books/ Henry Holt & Co. (1997). ix 604 pp.
(book)

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Sleep Much?

Sleep Much?

It is tough to be Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful when you have had trouble getting in your sleep. It is especially difficult in a world where you work long hours and try to balance it with family and friends. Here are some tips and tricks that may help you nod off better tonight. With continued practice it may just improve your whole life and perspective. Sleep is powerful stuff!

– Turn off electronics 1 -2 hours before you need to drift off.

-Build a routine, to let your body know it is time to start drifting off.

-Keep lighting and noise low an hour or two before bed.

-If your mind is racing and you cannot seem to stop the mental hamster, write down all of the things on your mind. This allows you to express those thoughts on paper and maybe even solve a few problems once you see and read it. Then close your eyes and consciously empty your mind. If you are a visual person, imagine you are deleting each thought or putting them in a trash bin.

-Progressive relaxation is an excellent method of telling your body you are ready to snooze. Squeeze your muscles of a particular muscle group as tightly as you can for no longer than 5 seconds and slowly release, as if one muscular fiber at a time. You can star with one group and move on to another group. Do not do this if you have any injuries.

-Yoga practiced an hour before bedtime could also help you get more rest.

-A cup of warm milk has surprisingly helped me in the past. Especially if you find you are a little hungry right before you need to crash.

-Avoid caffeine, chocolate, and any books that send your heart pounding.

-Read a relaxing book that takes you away.

-Take a warm bath before bed with scents of lavender and chamomile.

What works for you? Do you have a secret way to nod off?

P90X2 Phase 3: Performance (Final Phase)

p90x2 phase3

I have come to the end of the series with a new mindset, body, and attitude towards straight forward fitness routines. The amount of time it would take to get these results at a gym would be twice as long. It cuts through the time wasters and acknowledges that people have little time to dedicate. The intensity is high and the energy you gain is great. Once again I did not use supplements or Shakeology pushed by Tony Horton.

Ending Phase 2 Stats: weight: 134lbs Waist:28 Total inches: 162
Ending stats for phase 3: weight: 127 waist: 27.5 Total inches: 157″
Pre-P90X2 Stats: weight: 145 Waist:30.5 Total inches: 168.5″
Ending results: Loss of 18 pounds, 3 inches off my waist, and 11.5 total inches lost.

Phase 3 Training Schedule: Day1: P.A.P. Lower Day2: P.A.P. Upper Day3: X2 Yoga Day4: Rest or Recovery + Mobility Day5: P.A.P. Lower Day6: P.A.P. Upper Day7: Rest or Recovery + Mobility

Equipment Needed to Perform:
-Again P90X2 does offer versions of exercises without much equipment. These usually still require different band resistances.
-Balance/Stability ball -up to 2 Medicine balls -Chin up and pull up bar -Resistance bands -Plyobox/ sturdy chair -Hand weights -Yoga mat – Door Hook Anchor for resistance bands – hand towels

This system really works. My body has changed and molded and I am in the best shape of my life. I can run faster, jump higher, dance longer, do a proper push-up, perform modified pull-ups, and balance on a tight rope! Well, the last one has yet to happen, but I do have pretty incredible balance now. Talk about flexibility skills. If you have tight muscles, everything from Neuro-integrated stretching to good-old-fashioned yoga will increase your range of motion.

This level of fitness in phase 3 is really for those who have performance-based goals. This is beyond being healthy and fit. This is about being able to run the best time of your life. I ran a 5k, Color Me Rad, at my best time ever. My time was 20:30, something I thought was impossible for me. I have always been slow and steady. I got that time with a foot that had been “R.I.C.E.-ing” all night, the night before the race. (R.I.C.E.= Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.) Heck my goal was to be under 30 minutes! It is also about being able to have incredible agility for sports like basketball, tennis, football, dance, racquetball, etc. The training for a combination of cardiovascular endurance, and power gains is very scientific and Tony Horton nails it.

The overall drawbacks to this system are few but important to me to share. Obviously I do not support the idea of supplements without consulting a nutritional professional. Here Tony really pushes his Shakeology. One reason you don’t want to get nutrition from shakes is that you are not really learning how to eat well. You are fooling yourself into thinking it is a meal. Then when you are done, either you have to continue with shakes for the rest of your life or you can teach yourself to eat well. Another issue I had with the system was the nutritional suggestions. The first bit is quite restrictive and not helpful for healthy change. When you make drastic changes and severely restrict yourself, most people cannot sustain it and gain weight back plus some.The best way to counter this is to listen to your body. If you are hungry, eat! Then choose to eat well. Replace some ingredients in your food with healthier options. Slow and steady wins the race of weight-loss. Your body has to have time to catch up with your changes.

This system is recommended for those who have a solid base of fitness. You can definitely improve where you are and build upon it for a while. Once you get a feel for the routine, you can increase repetitions, push yourself to move faster, and hold those difficult poses longer. If you buy this system and put in the time, you cannot help but see results! Money well spent. If cost is something that would keep you from buying it, check out ebay. Sometimes you can catch a good deal. You could also get a buddy involved and go half way on it and have accountability!

Phase 3 Rating: 10/10
P90X2 Overall Rating: 9/10

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