Archive of ‘challenge’ category

Walk This Way

I loved all of your responses to my Back On Track post. This challenge isn’t really about the food at all; it’s about my mindset. I’m not eating what most people would call “crap”… I’m just trying to be a little more balanced and mindful. This challenge is more about exercise and motivation and the mental part of health.

To get back on track this morning, I laced up slipped on my sneakers pink crocs and headed out for a walk. It was early and I needed some extra hop in my step, so I got a big cuppa joe from 7-11. Coffee is not evil. It’s a lovely lovely drink that makes me happy in the morning. And it’s a great walking buddy.


Oh thank heaven!

I ended up walking 4+ miles while chatting away with my dad and then my mom. The last mile or so I just walked and thought about stuff.

When I got home I made some notecards about my back-on-track goals, I read some sweet emails, and I gave myself credit. It’s important to figure out ways to make sure you can achieve your goals. It’s one thing to write them down; it’s another to actually follow through. Here’s the plan…

  • Make notecards that say WHY I want these things (done!)
  • Read the notecards at least twice a day (done today)
  • Make new notecards as I need them
  • Carry said notecards with me everywhere
  • Enlist help (thanks, Bobby!)

How do you achieve your goals?

I’m Back On Track

A few of my favorite bloggers have recently committed to getting back on track. Caitlin declared the whole month of November as a time to get back on track; Angela is doing it for the first week of November, starting today (the 2nd). I’m feeling it too: I haven’t been doing that much yoga, I haven’t been walking as much as I like to, and, to be perfectly honest, I’ve been eating a lot of crap. I haven’t been practicing mindfulness either, and I find myself munching through the day instead of eating proper meals.

This challenge might be hard for a few reasons – 1) Bobby and I are driving across the country next week; 2) the holidays and lots of decadent foods are coming up; 3) due to the move, I don’t know what my new routine will be (we’re moving to Manhattan btw). But I’m going to try. I’m synthesizing their goals and mine, and this is what I came up with. I’m going to try to do this for as long as I can. These aren’t arbitrary; these goals are what my ideal lifestyle would be so I want to keep up with them.

  1. Go to bed early (by 11:30pm) and get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
  2. Cut out artificial sweeteners. I’ve been on a diet coke kick recently and it’s time to stop.
  3. More veggies, less fruit.
  4. More cooked foods, fewer raw.
  5. Lots of water and tea.
  6. Cook and plan more (or at least eat out at cheap-yet-healthy places).
  7. Sit down for every meal.
  8. Do something relaxing for 30 minutes every day (yoga, a bath, these exercises).
  9. 30+ minutes of cardio each day (walking, running, yoga).
  10. Give myself credit. Even if I don’t do all of these things perfectly, I’m going to give myself credit for the attempts and partial successes.

Because we’re moving, I’m trying to use up the groceries we have and I don’t plan on buying more. This week I’ll be eating out a lot but I’m not too worried about that; I love eating out and I can always find something healthy on the menu. The only thing that worries me about eating out is the money issue. I wish I was less frugal 😛

The other issue I might have is that this weekend is the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. I plan on eating well, but I doubt that I’m going to get much sleep because two of my favorite bloggers are coming to stay with me and we’re all going together. I am so excited to meet them.

Some of the yummy dishes I plan on making and eating during this November challenge are…

a healthy Thanksgiving meal, like last year’s


fresh delicious salads


lots of squash fries…


this fun Indian mushroom recipe


… and lots more. You should check out my recipes page for more inspiration. This bread recipe was one of the first things I ever posted (December 2007).


Anyway, back to the “back on track” plan. Today has been a good day so far. I did a yoga class this morning at my studio and I went to bed early last night (crashed on the couch at 9:30pm). I wanted to go to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner, but Bobby has band practice… so maybe not.

And now this post is getting epic. Happy November! Are you challenging yourself this month?

Diner Food

We decided to go NJ-diner-style for dinner last night. I looked up “breakfast food” on and stumbled across American Diner in Sunnyvale.  This is what I got:

25 breakfast

That is 1/2 a Belgian waffle, 2 halves of French toast, and a fruit cup.  I also poured some HFCS-free (!) maple syrup on top.  It was a very large portion and I did actually finish the whole plate (well, I didn’t finish that huge pat of butter – but probably half of it).  I also had some of Bobby’s muffin and a bite of his ham (eh – I’m not really feeling meat so much ever since Food, Inc.). American Diner was actually pretty cute, but… not really a place that we’ll be going back to very often.  It was very – well, diner-ey.

24 american diner

Another food I got the other day was protein powder.  I bought this on Wednesday and I have tried it several ways, but so far my favorite is added to oat bran.

protein powder

The company is Jarrows Formulas (link to nutritionals and ingredients).  This product is vegan and vegetarian. They use non-GMO soybeans (a must).  One serving has a whopping 25 grams of protein and only 110 calories.  It is not sweetened at all and it has spirulina.  I made a bowl of oat bran with peanut butter, protein powder, and sesame seeds. It was fabulous.

21 protein oat bran

The protein powder gives the oat bran a strange/odd/different consistency.  It’s a little chalky, but it’s not bad.  I had to add some extra water because I think it sops up more water and makes the oat bran fluffier.  And greener!

Today I plan on going to Borders to look at a new book that Cindy recommended. What are your plans this week?

P.S. It’s my wonderful mom’s birthday today, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! I miss you!

Oat bran in a jar

I finally got around to trying this new idea that I’ve been seeing recently. I think Heather started it, and I also saw it on Kath’s blog and Brandi’s blog (which was also on HealthyYum). It’s oat bran in an almost-empty nut butter jar.

01 pb jar oat bran

When I got near the end of my Trader Joe’s peanut butter (all natural, salted), I used it as my “bowl” for oat bran. I believe this was a batch of PBU oat bran (oat bran cooked with pbu – peanut butter and chocolate milk blend) simply topped with sesame seeds.

Another yum that I had recently (Sunday night) was this bowl of soy frozen yogurt from Fraiche, topped with sunbutter (sunflower seed butter; I brought it with me from home). I also added cinnamon, nutmeg, and cocoa powder. I ate this before I saw Food, Inc. and was very pleased with myself for making a good choice.

08 frozen yogurt

And, because I can’t get enough of sesame seeds, I thought I would share some more sesame seed loving.

09 sesame seed breakfast

Even Bobby is addicted.  That’s my bowl of oat bran and his bagel (with mustard), both doused with sesame seeds.

Last night’s Coldplay concert was really good.  They are great live and I loved the music. I was annoyed that the show started at 7pm and Coldplay didn’t even being playing until after 9pm.  They had 2 openers and both were just okay. I honestly don’t like seeing the openers at shows – I paid to see Coldplay, and I wanted to see them! By the time they got onstage I just wanted to go home. During the show they played a cover of Billie Jean, which was a nice tribute. Overall I had a good time, and we scored $10 tickets to see The Fray, Jack’s Mannequin, and Vedera in a few weeks.

Before I forget, Holly tried her first kabocha! She loved it (duh). I’m doing well with my kabocha challenge (eating less of it) – the last two nights I only had 1/4 of a kabocha each night (with nut butter).

Off to do some yoga, worky stuff, and make Bobby lunch. Hope you have a great Tuesday :)

June Challenges Update

Happy 4th of July!


I’m finally going to update about my June challenges.

  1. Decluttering.  I did okay with this, but only because I already had 2 big bags of books to give away and several bags of clothes.  I haven’t taken them to goodwill yet, but I will soon.  As for my pantry, I actually did do well with that.  I used up a lot of pasta, soba noodles, random nuts and dried fruits, to0-sugary instant oatmeal (made vegan cookies for Bobby to take to work), frozen veggies (I think I might be over them), random frozen snacks (Bobby), frozen shrimp, instant miso soup, and maybe even more that I’m forgetting.  Bobby has also decided to sell his Wii.  He has an Xbox so he doesn’t really need the Wii anymore. (If you live in the bay area and want to buy a Wii + controllers + games, let me know – otherwise he’s going to sell it to a resale place.)
  2. Drinking water before bed.  I’d forgotten about this, but I did it anyway.  Sweet.
  3. Pantry items – see above.
  4. Cleaning/organizing 5 minutes every day.  Not intentionally, but I did end up vacuuming and wiping stuff down more often.  I need to work on the organizing part.

I’ve also been doing yoga daily.  I started out with just 25 minutes timed (kitchen timer) and now I’m up to 40 minutes.  I’ll probably stick with 40 because it seems to be a good balance for me.  I haven’t been walking as much, but I do try to get in some kind of walking every day.  I think I’m finally okay with just a bit of yoga and just a bit of walking… they make me feel really good.

In the last few days of trying to eat more healthy fats, I’ve found a new obsession – sesame seeds.  I’ll post about them later.  Enjoy your 4th!

Spontaneous Fried Rice

I was helping make fried rice last night (for Bobby) and I decided to have some for myself too.

03 fried rice

It was so good! There’s more rice underneath the meat and veggies; I just like stealing extra toppings.  I’m going to have fried rice more often.  This might be the only way that I enjoy rice.  Just as a comparison, here are Bobby’s dinner (left) and my dinner (right):

04 fried rice dinner

He had a huge bowl of rice, a small bowl of salad, and went back for more rice.  I had a huge bowl of salad, a small bowl of rice, and went back for more salad.  The salad (Thai papaya salad) was the same one I posted yesterday but with added shrimp and no carrot (no extra beta-carotene).

This dinner definitely counts as spontaneous (one of my July goals).

Today’s question is: What’s your favorite healthy fat?  Mine is hands down peanut butter (all natural, plain, freshly ground is best).  I like it more than any other nut butter, more than oils, more than avocadoes, more than olives…

The Last Hurrah

I have 3 goals in mind for July:

  1. Less kabocha!
  2. More healthy fats!
  3. Be spontaneous :)

I had a kind of last hurrah with kabocha last night and finished a whole one (and it was big).  I think it’s time for moderation.

As for healthy fats… I do enjoy my nut butters and olive oil, but not enoughMaria posted about this yesterday, too.  I have nut butter with breakfast and usually a little bit of olive oil with dinner and lunch – but it probably totals about 2 tablespoons altogether.  So I’m going to go for it and start incorporating more fat.

Spontaneity is also something I want to improve on.  This is just eating what I want when I want it, rather than waiting for the normal times that I eat and eating the same things.

Yesterday wasn’t a total bust in terms of goals though – I made a kickbutt Thai papaya salad based on my recipe here.

02 papaya salad

Ingredients – 1 shredded green papaya (50 cents on sale @ Vietnamese market), 1 shredded organic carrot, 2 chopped plum tomatoes (also on sale), 5-6 cloves of garlic.

Dressing – soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, sugar (sweet simplicity), PB2, chili powder, chili flakes… (I might be forgetting something).

This is Bobby’s and my favorite salad, and we ate the whole thing while we were watching jeopardy and wheel (million dollar winner last night!).  Yes, we are old and we love jeopardy and wheel.  I probably had about 80% of the salad, but I was impressed at how much of it Bobby ate.  He’s not as much of a veggie disposal as I am.  The whole salad cost me about $1 to make because of this great Vietnamese store that has a cheapo rack. I got a green papaya ($0.50), a big bag of 4 chayotes and 4 tomatoes ($1.50), and 6 eggplants ($0.50).  I think that’s all.

01 shrimp konnyaku chayote

In the afternoon I made a lunch sort of thing with shrimp, konnyaku, chayote (on sale), olive oil, stir-fry sauce, and mustard (added later).  I’m almost done with the shrimp. I’m liking chayote – it’s kind of bland, but it’s nice and crunchy and good with other flavors.  I had a few other random snacks, so this wasn’t really a lunch.  Yummy though.  More like a snack to hold me until dinner.

Want to join me with any of the goals?  What are your goals for July?

Before I forget, Justine is having a really cool giveaway, so I’m going to do a confession of the day to get an extra entry – I hate clutter, but I have a terrible time getting rid of things.  I try to make Bobby give away all those ratty t-shirts that he never wears, but I always want to keep mine.  I hate the clutter but I’m scared that as soon as I give something away I’ll need it!

One more thing – my friend just launched this cool recipe search engine, NomFinder.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  I’ll pass on suggestions to him.

A break from…

I wanted to do something new for breakfast since I wasn’t in the mood for green oats.  I decided to go all macrobiotic and do an oat bran + miso soup brekkie.

17 breakfast

The oat bran was:

  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1.5 cups water
  • dash of salt
  • 4-5 tablespoons of my ABU (1 part almond butter to 3 parts chocolate soy milk)

The miso soup was:

  • matcha soybean green tea for the base (with lemon)
  • wakame
  • spoon of miso

16 lemon green tea

I try to make a big pitcher of tea every morning and drink it throughout the day.  It was really good as a miso soup base.  I especially liked the hint of lemon (I slice a whole lemon and dump it into the tea).

18 green tea

I get the tea from Lupicia – I have a ton of different flavors and I’m trying to use them up so I can get new ones.  This is “Matcha Black Soybean Rice Tea“.  One of my (and Bobby’s!) favorites.

This breakfast was surprisingly filling, since the green oat bowls are actually bigger than what I made today (spinach gives it volume).

Don’t forget about my June challenges.  I’ll be updating about them either tomorrow or on the first of July. I have to admit, I kind of forgot about most of them.  I was supposed to declutter and give away one thing every day, but I think I only have 2 things in my declutter box.  I suppose I can find 30 things to give away tomorrow though.

Do you have any challenges that you want to work on?

P.S. Bobby comes back from Miami tomorrow morning and I couldn’t be more excited.  I missed him :)

Whole Life Challenges and the future

I just finished 2 weeks of my Whole Life Challenge.


Yoga… At the beginning of this challenge I was practicing yoga sporadically, and I felt like I had lost the passion that I used to have.  Even through the first week of the challenge, I didn’t really take the yoga part seriously.  Yes, I was doing 10 minutes of yoga or yoga stretching every day, but it didn’t mean anything.  Finally, on Monday of this week I did the video that got me into yoga in the first place – 20-minute buns & thighs by Tom Morley (exercise tv).  This was the yoga that I loved.  This brought back memories of running with my dad and trying to teach him yoga afterwards (when he visited back in November).  Memories of falling over when attemping warrior 3.  Memories of gaining the strength and flexibility that I needed to be a yogi.  Memories of finally being able to complete the routine with ease and enjoyment.   I got back my yoga, and I flowed on my own yesterday and today.  Today I set the timer for 30-minutes (5 more than yesterday), and I didn’t look it until it beeped just as I was done cooling down.  This challenge gave me back my yoga.

Walking… When we moved into our new apartment we gained access to a gym room with treadmills.  Treadmills can tell you your speed, your incline, how far you’ve gone.  I’d never had access to this information, and I became obsessed with going farther, going faster, and competing with myself.  The first week of the challenge I continued with the treadmill.  But I also took a long walk outside.  Then this week I walked to and from the post office, about a mile away.  Then I walked around the block.  Then I walked around a different block.  And now I don’t want to walk on the treadmill anymore, I want to be outside, soaking up that Vitamin D that I missed so much this winter.  This challenge gave me back my walking for relaxation and enjoyment – not walking for the numbers.

New meals… I’ve tried several new dishes over the past two weeks.  I’m not completely out of my rut, but I’d expanded my diet a little bit.  Yesterday I made this yummy dish for lunch (along with some rotisserie chicken):11-eggplant

It was about 10 organic garlic cloves (no joke), crushed and chopped, sauteed in olive oil, along with two of the cheap eggplants that I got on Tuesday.  I topped it with this cool new organic ketchup (fruit sweetened) and lots of parmesan.  Okay, this is not really a new meal, since it’s just a twist on my ketchup/parmesan obsession, but I wanted to share it. The bigger issue is…

Organic… This was fairly easy, as I just had to buy organic greens.  I ended up getting organic spinach from Costco ($3.49 for a pound box – I went through about 6 in the last 2 weeks) and I got my organic romaine at Han Kook, the Korean grocery ($1.99 for 3 heads).  It wasn’t hard for me to find ways to buy organic cheaply.  If Han Kook is out of romaine, I don’t get it and I just eat more spinach.

Green oat bran… Of course this was a breeze.  I love my green oat bran.

What did the other participants think?  Go look:

I’m going to keep up these challenges through June, but I might not post updates quite as often.  I’m going to add some more to the list:

  • De-cluttering
  • Drinking water before bed
  • Using pantry items every day
  • Breathing and thinking before making decisions
  • Cleaning/organizing (5 minutes) each day

Thanks for following my challenges!

I was talking to someone today about this recent challenge kick that I’ve been on – she was asking about why I did it and if it worked?

If you say your goals out loud and if you write them down you are so much more likely to follow through.  Get a buddy and tell him/her what you want to do.  You’ll have someone to hold you accountable, and you won’t want to let him/her down.  I could have kept my challenges to myself, but I don’t think I would have stuck with them for as long.  Publishing my goals motivated me to succeed.  I think that these 2 challenging weeks were a success, and I owe it to my readers and the other participants.

Have a wonderful weekend.  Only 4 days until my Mom visits… :)  (Yikes, gotta clean and organize.)

Challenges Galore

Only one day left of the Whole Life Challenge. I guess the 2 weeks are over on Thursday night (tomorrow night), but I’m gonna keep going after that. I still need work! Here’s an update:


  1. Yoga – yes! I’m finally doing this every day. Tom Morley’s “buns & thighs yoga” has invigorated me. I’ve done it every morning for the past 3 days. It’s only 20 minutes and it is my favorite 20 minute class ever.
  2. Walking – I love walking. On Monday I walked to and from the post office. Yesterday I did 2 walking videos from exercise tv – a walking warm-up and a walking cool-down (each 10 minutes). They’re under pink ribbon workouts if you want to find them.  Today I walked for exactly 10 minutes on the treadmill before I went on the stepper.
  3. New Meals – definitely keeping up with this, too. Trying to de-clutter my kitchen will help even more. We were planning on going out to Loving Hut (a vegan restaurant) for our 3.5 year um… half-iversary?  But my stomach has been bugging me so we’re saving that for later this week.
  4. Organic – yep, yep, yep. Only my greens have to be organic, but I try to get the other stuff too.
  5. Green Oat Bran – duh. I LOVE this part of the challenge. Oat bran + peanut butter + spinach make Maggie one happy girl.

I think I’m finally getting into the swing of things, which is why I am definitely not going to stop. I’m even thinking of adding some more…

  • de-clutter daily
  • drink a glass of water before I go to bed (I always wake up parched)
  • take 5-10 minutes each day to clean/organize something
  • take a few deep breaths before I make any decisions – I’m impulsive, to say the least.

I enjoy challenging myself. Cindy loves it too – I get great ideas from her sweet blog. Don’t forget to check out the other participants. They’ve added some great ideas to the ones I came up with.

What other challenges would you add?  What has been your biggest challenge?

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