Stress Relievers

We all have stressors in our lives. Some are minor like driving in rush hour, and some are major, maybe an unjust boss or financial struggles. Each and every one of us deals with stress and we all have our own ways of dealing with it. Some of us may not even know we are stressed until our bodies start to tell us otherwise.

I want to dabble into that topic in just a bit, but first I have a few food photos to share with ya’ll. This first one was actually from two nights ago, but it’s a favorite of mine:

The Southwest Salad but with a few minor changes. For one, I used the leftover lentils and black beans from the lentil tacos the other night. The rest of the toppings were virtually the same as always: tomatoes, cheddar cheese, corn, avocado, and a light drizzle of ranch dressing. I will sometimes add onion to this salad but wasn’t feeling the whole onion breath part of that idea so left it out last night. The only thing I forgot to add was cilantro. I even had cilantro in the fridge. Oh well.

Thursday

A morning smoothie in my new Home Goods coffee mug. I do drink coffee from it as well but thought it was perfect for my smoothies too. Yesterday’s smoothie: Almond milk, banana, vanilla egg white protein powder, peanut butter, a tiny bit of cocoa powder (I’m out of my chocolate protein!), and a large handful of kale.

Lunch was eaten while running errands during break and isn’t worth mentioning. But dinner….that’s a different story.

A while back I bought a Hawaiian marinade by Lawrys. I brought the summer back by brushing this marinade on shrimp and pineapple skewers. I broiled them for a short while, broiled up some broccoli with parmesan cheese for a veggie side, and ended up with a seriously delicious dinner that was SO easy.

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and watching Glee and Modern Family!

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Now, onto this stress talk. I found the top ten stress relievers according to the Mayo Clinic and wanted to see how I was doing personally with containing my stress in comparison to their list. Here we go…

Top 10 stress relievers according to Mayo Clinic

1. Get active
“Physical activity pumps up your feel-good endorphins and refocuses your mind on your body’s movements, improving your mood and helping the day’s irritations fade away.”

I am physically active 6-7 days a week including different activities from yoga, to running, strength training, cross-training, etc. I would say 98% of the time, I feel fabulous after I finish a work out.

2. Meditate
“During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. Meditation instills a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health. Guided meditation, guided imagery, visualization and other forms of meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time…”

I’m working on this one. I am reading a book about meditation but I having a hard time getting through it. I like the idea of guided imagery and picturing positive outcomes in stressful situations and would like to work on that more often.

3. Laugh
“When you start to laugh, it lightens your mental load and actually causes positive physical changes in your body. Laughter fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure, producing a good, relaxed feeling.” 

Listen to a comedian, hang out with family and friends, or watch Modern Family. I am guaranteed to giggle.

4. Connect
 “Social contact is a good stress reliever because it can distract you, provide support, help you weather life’s up and downs, and make you feel good by doing good.” 

I am lucky to have great friends at work who I get to socialize with daily if time permits. I love being with family and friends as well. We help eachother get through the good and the bad times.

5. Assert yourself
“Learn to say no to some tasks or to delegate them.”

Over the years I have been working on this one. I’m learning that it is OK to say no sometimes and be selfish if it means taking care of my well-being. Most of the time, I do like to say yes to social gatherings, but once and a while I can tell when my body is saying no, and I try to listen.

6. Do yoga
“Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping you relax and manage stress and anxiety.”

Oh yes, the wonderful benefits of yoga. This is also a fairly new hobby of mine but I truly do enjoy it and feel it does a great job of relieving stress.

7. Sleep
“…Sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge. And the quality and amount of sleep you get affects your mood, energy level, concentration and overall functioning.”

I’m definitely one of those people who needs at least 8 hours of sleep to function at my highest capacity. I’m usually in bed at 10 pm every night. I completely agree with this one.

8. Journal
Writing out thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise pent-up emotions. 

Thank you Beautifully Nutty for letting me relieve some stress through my fingertips. 

9. Get musical
“Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it provides a mental distraction, reduces muscle tension and decreases stress hormones.”

I like this one, especially if I can dance too.

10. Seek counsel
If new stressors are challenging your ability to cope or if self-care stress relievers just aren’t relieving your stress, you may need to look for reinforcements in the form of professional therapy or counseling. Therapy may be a good idea if stress leaves you feeling overwhelmed or trapped, if you worry excessively, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home or school. Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.

 I would also like to add “baking” to my stress reliever list. If I am not in a hurry and can leisurely roll out some cookies, it is very therapeutic to me.

There you have it. With the holidays now in full swing, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, but remember to relax and remember the true meaning of the celebration. Try some of these stress relievers and come up with some of your own if you need to. Enjoy the season!

Full disclosure: The information for this topic was found on Mayo Clinic’s website at this direct address: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stressrelievers/MY01373/NSECTIONGROUP=2

Questions of the Day: What helps YOU relieve stress? Would you add anything to this list?

Some Leftover Goodies

Hi there! Happy Wednesday! So as I was scrolling through some photos from the past week I realized I have some odds and ends, and leftover photos to share still so guess what? That’s what I’m going to do! I can’t leave out these goodies.

Oh goodness it’s a random one today. I hope you’re prepared.

To start, last week I received a package from a company called Jay Robb who specializes in protein powder. I was particularly interested in their egg white protein powder because I am searching for a protein powder that I can add into my smoothies that doesn’t give me tummy issues like whey protein tends to do, and I wanted to try flavored ones.

They graciously sent me a handful of samples including vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry egg white protein powder packs along with a tote and a mixer bottle.

I use half of one package for each smoothie and I really like how it makes my smoothie more—-I can’t think of the right descriptive words, but more frothy and full. So far I have only used the vanilla protein in a strawberry, pineapple and banana smoothie. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it because I could taste a hint of the powder, but then it grew on me. Also, maybe vanilla wasn’t the most perfect flavor to have added to that particular concoction. I should have tried the strawberry flavor! The more I use the protein, the more I enjoy it.

I am excited to try the chocolate, maybe with a banana and almond milk smoothie?

As far as my tummy handling it…I had no troubles whatsoever which is awesome. I will more than likely be buying this product to have in the house. It’s perfect for men and women, it’s a great option for people who can not tolerate whey protein (even if you can it’s a great option!), and it tastes great.

(Disclaimer: Jay Robb sent me these samples free of charge. All opinions expressed in this post are solely mine)

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Next random bits

My birthday celebration began when I was out in Colombia. The last day I was there Jeff and Ana gave me early birthday presents. That was November 6th I believe. Since then my friends and family have been showering me with cards and gifts, I celebrated my actual birthday in Georgia which was fabulous, I got presents from Dana, and I will be celebrating it with my family tomorrow. Talk about a birthday month! I feel so lucky and so loved.

Dana loaded me up on more workout gear (it’s crazy how quickly I wear through this stuff). I really like this top!

And he got me some more of my FAVORITE Victoria’s Secret T-shirts. Honestly I live in these things. I have ten of them in different colors. They are so comfortable and pretty darn cute if you ask me.

It has been an amazing 27th birthday and it’s STILL not over yet. Geez louise. Who’s the princess here?

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Tuesday Dinner

For dinner last night I made myself a southwest salad with mixed greens tomato, black beans, corn, avocado, and shredded cheese. I topped it off with a drizzle of light ranch dressing. It hit the spot!

I baked up the corn bread for my Thanksgiving day stuffing last night. I made it completely gluten-free and will be sharing the recipe with you post-Thanksgiving only if it turns out nummy. I tested a corner of the bread to make sure it tasted okay and was super pleased with the result.

Off to work for a bit then coming home to get my 20 lb turkey in some brine. I bought a huge turkey with the intention of lots of leftovers, not because I thought 8 of us would polish off a 20 pounder. But hey, you never know! 😉

I’ll also be preparing the cranberries today so that they are ready to go tomorrow and will most likely prep more for the stuffing too. Whatever I can do today to make tomorrow a breeze! I delegated family members to additional sides so everyone is bringing something tomorrow. It makes hosting a lot less intimidating and they were all more than willing to help.

Tomorrow morning I will be running a 5K which I am stoked about. The last race I ran in was back at the end of August at the State Fair. It’s been far too long. I haven’t been running much recently due to some back pain, but I think it will feel real good to get out there tomorrow. After the race I will boogy back home to get the bird in the oven! My first ever experience cooking a turkey. Cross your fingers for me.

I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving tomorrow and can celebrate with the ones you love.

I am thankful for all of you!

 

Tie Up Loose Ends

We made it through Tuesday!

After work today Dana ran some errands including a trip to Mall of America to try to find a backing to my iPhone. Apparently I am kind of picky about my phone accessories because I didn’t find one cover I liked in all of the M.O.A.! The trip was not a total flop though because we decided to get some frozen yogurt at Freeziac  which is self-serve frozen yogurt shop. We don’t have many of these in Minnesota, at least around where I live, so this is a big deal for us and a very special treat.

Yellow cake batter frozen yogurt with cookie dough, brownie, heath bar, chocolate chips, M & Ms (for color of course), a little bit of hot fudge, one pink gummy bear, and a cherry on top to seal the deal. This was heaven in a cup. This will be in my heaven except all the calories will have been removed so I can eat twice as much and not have to buy new pants. Good thing Dana and I were walking around the mall while eating this so we were actually burning calories while eating. Ha ha I know I’m funny. 🙂

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Dinner was one of my favorite salads: The Southwest Salad <——–Check out the recipe!

That is one good-looking salad if you ask me! I covered the fruit and veggie food group, protein food group, dairy food group, and even have some healthy fats in there with the avocado in this meal. I believe I’m just missing my whole grains. I had plenty of those earlier today though. I dare you to check this recipe out and try it at home. It’s a crowd pleaser.

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Remember a little while back when I mentioned I bought a new face moisturizer? Well it’s review time. Product: Aveeno Active Naturals Smart Essentials.

To those who may have missed it, I was looking for a moisturizer to help hydrate my extremely dry face, especially in my t-zone area. I have been using this stuff for a week and a half and I really feel it is making a difference. I am using it every night after I clean my face and in the morning I use just a little bit on my t-zone along with my daily moisturizer (Neutrogena Daily Moisturizer SPF 15). I no longer have dry skin and I feel like my skin looks more radiant. I would recommend it to anyone experiencing dry winter skin.

That was loose end #1 I wanted to tie up. Loose end #2 is my Home-made Tomato Soup Recipe! This was my first time ever making home-made tomato soup, and I was a little skeptical as to how it would turn out. It actually turned out really well. I even added a secret ingredient which helps create a creamy consistency (it’s pumpkin puree) without adding any dairy products. Not a secret anymore is it?

 

Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic
  • 1-32 ounce container low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • cooking spray

Directions

  1. In large soup pot coated with cooking spray, saute onion until translucent; add garlic and continue sauteing for 30 more seconds.
  2. Add broth, pumpkin, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and dried basil; stir.
  3. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat; stir in basil.
  5. Use immersion blender to puree soup to smooth.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with crackers, shredded cheese, grilled cheese, fresh basil, tortilla chips or eat plain. I hope you like it as much as I did.

I am realizing that this post was all over the place. I guess that’s just how my mind works!

I am off to continue learning about my new phone while sipping on a mug o’ tea. Good night my friends!

Southwest Salad Recipe

Today’s lunch was canned soup. A little high in sodium, BUT it was really tasty. I don’t do it often so I don’t feel too bad about it. With the soup I had some Kettle Brand Baked Salt and Pepper Chips, a golden delicious apple, and some carrots.

It warmed me up on this gloomy day and then I headed back to work for a few more hours.

After work I snacked on some roasted almonds and Craisins as I headed to the gym. I climbed through 35 minutes on the elliptical, catching up on Today’s Dietitian Magazine and Runner’s World Magazine. I finished the workout off with pushups and some ab-work. I can honestly say I have a hard time with strength training. I know the importance of it and the great benefits, and every now and then I will be super motivated to incorporate it into my week of workouts, and then the next week I am done with it. I would REALLY like to amp it up! You are all my witnesses. Pump, pump it up!

After the gym I came home and snacked on some more of those darn chips while I pondered what to have for dinner. I had decided to make a salad and as I started putting it together I realized the lettuce had gone bad. Yuck, so I had to get creative. I chopped up some tomato, broccoli, carrots, and added in green peas and pinto beans. I topped it with my favorite honey mustard dressing and reduced fat cheddar cheese.  Kind of random, yes. Delicious? YES! For dessert I had a handful of dates.

I cleaned up the kitchen, and now I’m snugglin on the couch with Dana and watching his favorite show (kidding), The Bachelor.

How about I leave you with a recipe for one of my favorite salads? Give it a shot! Enjoy!

Southwest Salad for Two

This is one of our “go-to’ salads. It’s easy, delicious and satisfying. We usually it meatless, but feel free to top the salad with grilled chicken.

Ingredients

  • Mixed greens
  • 1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • low-fat or fat-free ranch dressing

Directions

Pile mixed greens on two plates and top with remaining ingredients. Drizzle with dressing.