Eating Healthy Really Isn’t Too Hard

America has an obesity rating of 34.4%.

I want to give you recipes and ideas that will make you realize, “Oh, eating healthy isn’t that hard!” and “wow, this tastes good!” I don’t want you to resort to fast food or processed junk (although In ‘n Out is always okay and so are Wendy’s Frosty’s).  And it’s really not expensive! I would be considered poor right now and we have great home cooked meals almost every night. Here’s a few rules to live by:

1. Buy the produce on sale at the supermarket–it’s probably the ones in season. Seeing a multitude of apples and squash on sale? For really nice prices? Buy them. It’s almost like they’re yelling at us to eat what’s in season and get in with the cycle of the earth.

2. Stick to fruits and veggies. These are almost always going to be the most nutrition to value ratio every time and once again, in-season ones will not be pricey.

3. Get grains you cook yourself. Don’t get the pre-packaged stuff like ramen (though we may or may not have that in the house due to Chris’ obsession)–get the most fiber-filled rice you can at Costco for $20. What a deal.

Anyhow, above wasn’t my primary point for this post. I have an easy little-work recipe good for dinner or whenever you’d like. As most of you know we’re a weird breed of vegetarian/pescatarian so the only meat it contains is mushrooms. Which of course isn’t an actual meat. Let me spit the recipe at ya:

Ingredients

  • 5 small white mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper
  • 4 potatoes 
  • Whatever seasoning you’d like

Short list, right? Let’s move on to directions.

Directions

  • First and foremost, get the potatoes washed and cut into quarters. Then plop them in a pot full of water and set on high. We want these bad boys to boil!
  • Next, you’ll have some time. It takes around 15-20 min for the taters to boil
  • So we’ll move onto the veggies. Cut the mushrooms and red pepper into small slices. Grind some pepper and salt over them and whatever other seasoning you’d like.
  • When the potatoes are close to being boiled (say after 10 minutes), let’s cook the veggies. I sauteed them in white wine, soy sauce, and garlic (YUM). I also put some rosemary and garlic pepper in too.
  • Keep an eye on it and stir. Make sure to taste, they won’t take too long to cook, but you want all that moisture to soak in. Especially into the mushrooms
  • Drain those potatoes and put them back in the pot. Put half a teaspoon of butter in, a little soy sauce, and some garlic pepper in and mix around.
  • Serve and enjoy!

 It was super juicy and flavorful–my favorite. Didn’t last long. And was a very cheap meal, didn’t even breach $7. Cheers!

Back to The Movies: Double Review of Taken 2 and Pitch Perfect

So, despite being very busy and having more important chores to do… we decided to start going back to the movies on Sunday mornings. AMC has a great deal where any pre-matinee show is only 6 dollars a ticket, unless its 3D or something else fancy. So we decided on these two:

Taken 2: We loved the first one and Liam Neeson is just awesome. While this movie was more or less the same as the first, and any fan would enjoy it for sure, it did have a lot more love and fluff. For a 90 minute movie, at least half felt like fluff so the action was shortened but it was still very entertaining. Not as clever, but still worth seeing if you enjoyed the first. It was somewhat entertaining. 3/10

English: Liam Neeson at the TIFF premiere of T...

Our boy, Liam

Pitch Perfect: Alana convinced me to see this, which wasn’t hard because I actually love acapella. She wanted to see it because of the Australian roommate of the main character from Bridesmaids. Seeing her hilarious acting was well worth our money and while the movie was predictable, it had some great musical arrangements and some decent acting. It was very entertaining. 7/10

Next weekend we plan on doing another double to get into the Halloween spirit, by seeing Frankenweenie and Hotel Transylvania.

I never wanted to see Looper but I do like Bruce Willis and the reviews are top notch so I’ll consider it. As for other future movies, my three most anticipated of the year are obviously, in no particular order because it’d be too hard:

The Hobbit (!!!)

Les Miserables

Skyfall

Otherwise, I plan on seeing Alex Cross with Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox, Silent Hill Revelations 3D, Cloud Atlas, Chasing Mavericks, Wreck it Ralph (Looks great), Man with the Iron Fists, and Rise of the Guardians.

Let me know if anything else coming out this year looks worth seeing! We love movies of all kinds, just no zombies for Alana.

:)

Kitty Spotlight: Misty

Nymeria was featured in the last kitty spotlight, so I thought I’d do a general one for Misty too. Our kittens couldn’t be more different. Misty is the elder (4 months, making her a month older) and certainly acts it, except when it’s food time. She came to us feral, under-socialized, and she’s come so far. Sure she’s still a princess brat selfish food-craving mess, but she’s found a home here. And that’s most important.

First day we got her

Okay so when we first got her, she was terrified. She wouldn’t go near Nymeria, Chris, or I. She would hide wherever she could at all times. She didn’t trust us, she would constantly hiss, she didn’t know how to play, how to cuddle…she had a lot to learn. One day, we thought she escaped and we freaked out, tearing the apartment apart, looking for her, looking outside, and so forth. And eventually we decided to look under the dishwasher. And guess what we found.

However, with a lot of coaxing, time, patience, and living 24/7 with Nymeria, she improved drastically. It took a lot of work and patience, but now she’s one of the family. Nymeria, the constant huntress, taught her how to play, hunt, and pounce. Which Misty now does on a regular basis. She hunts and pounces on the toys, and Nymeria and Misty usually play all the time. I say usually because they haven’t for the past week.

Nymeria, the fierce cuddler, taught Misty how to cuddle. Whenever we come home from work, from being out, wherever, we find them sleepily waking up side by side on the top of the cat tree. Always cuddling. They never like to sleep too far apart from each other. Sometimes, we’ll find them sleeping together under the desk which is a tiny space.

Before, she used to run away from us, now she can’t get close enough. She loves cuddling with us on the couch. In fact, she slept with us all last night, sleeping on my tummy or next to my hip, keeping each other warm. She’s an excellent cuddler, and doesn’t do the kneading thing Nymeria is so famous for (which can hurt if she has long nails). If she finds Nymeria on us, you can be sure she will be on us too.

She has a serious obsession with food. Like yeah, I get it, I had a dog, they love food. Animals love food. But no, she has like a chemical imbalance or something, because she goes bananas. Nymeria doesn’t. She will give the occasional cry for some food, but Misty, when she hears the closet door open (where the food is) or the food bowls, she goes crazy. She will run up and jump up on the closet, mewing constantly as if she’s going to die in the next 3 minutes if you don’t hurry up and give her food. As if she’s never been fed in her life. She eats within 15 seconds (no exaggeration) while Nymeria is the opposite and takes a few years (slight exaggeration). She sometimes eats so fast she throws up and then eats it again (gross, I know). And then she will go on the prowl, learning tactics from Nymeria, to use on her very own sister–to steal her food! Until we scold her and put her in the bathtub.

Misty has a very strong lower body. During food time, she will go on her hind legs and walk around on them in order to be closer to the food

Misty also has some funny and cute sleeping positions. Like the on-my-back-paw-over-face (you can see these below) or the sink nap. Before, when they were limited to only the bathroom when we were away from the house, Misty would decide on her sleeping spot–the sink. Wet? Sometimes. Comfy? I guess…? Anyhow, when she’s not sleeping with Nymeria, you can be sure to find her in some of those positions.

 

Misty can also be a very naughty girl (like stealing Nymeria’s food). We constantly find her jumping onto the counter where we eat and prepare food. Several times, we’ve come in and found  her sleeping atop the fridge, which is yes, adorable, but still not allowed. Sometimes we find her in the kitchen sink, scrounging for food due to her serious addiction. We either spray her with a water bottle, grab her scruff and say “No!”, or put her in the bathtub, depending on the severity of the crime.

Well regardless of everything, she’s really grown into the family, cut out 90% of the hissing and is a great cuddler. Sure, we wish she’d play a little more, but everything comes with time. I can hear her mewing now because apparently it’s food time. There were just too many pictures, I wish I could show you all of them.

Cheers!

Let the Haters Hate but Keep Working Out

So, we were in the BRC last night working out, even though it took over an hour to motivate ourselves to get dressed and go. A, we were tired from a week of hard work. B, it was really cold out. C, it was the first Friday night of the month, so people either were here from gym trade or paid $8 to boulder for the night. (It’s really busy Friday nights) Nevertheless, we found ourselves in the weight room first.

We did a great back and chest workout. It was probably our most extensive workout in five to six months. Many exercises, many sets, many reps, great form, great pumps, no injuries or serious pain, and a wide variety of muscles hit. We often did super-sets alternating from chest to back exercises, a technique that can stretch out your opposing muscle fibers in order to make greater gains while you lift for the opposite. While we were doing decline bench press, some little guy who came in the weight room with a girl he was trying to impress did one exercise but made one stupid comment. First, I’m not being mean saying little guy.

English: an exercise of chest

Regular chest press

He was an older man (30s or 40s) a shorter man (5’5′) and a lighter man (100 lbs) but he was wearing some SERIOUS climbing gear and most likely had some great strength to weight ratio. That happens with a lot of smaller guys, they can handle their body weight very well, which is something everyone should aim for as a goal. At the same time, I don’t think it’s a smart idea to limit your body’s growth by trying to stay small, because you could be sacrificing overall power, whether it be great strength, speed, or explosiveness. Picture this, he can do 100 pull-ups with his body weight but what would happen if he ran into a coyote up on the foothills? He’s dinner. But back to what actually happened (I have nothing against smaller people!)

English: Coyote at Ridgefield National Wildlif...

Dinner!

Second, at some point while showing her how to do an upper-body elevated push up on gymnastic rings, (again, while we were doing decline bench) he said, very loudly and out of the blue, something along the lines of… “by doing this, we’re actually building/using practical pectoral/chest muscles.” Practical pectoral muscles… doing elevated ring push ups… Really? I am a very protective and defensive person, and I generally hate know-it-all people, even if they have a basis for their claims. More so, I hate those people that will smack talk everywhere and anytime except to someone’s face. (This guy’s aura made him seem like one of these people.) Was he trying to make himself look bigger in front of his lady-friend by putting us down? Tisk tisk. Let’s look at what would have happened if we discussed his comments face to face, because he obviously meant for us to hear it, little did he know that we know more about this stuff than he does.

There are two major muscle groups in the pecs, and although there are a countless number of exercises to work various areas in those groups, and hit every muscle fiber in the process, we were nearly working out the same muscles. His exercise, performed properly, targets the upper chest. (Inner, mid, or outer depends on the width of the rings.) Our exercise targets the lower chest, with the same width principle. By using an Olympic bar, we are not trying to build our stabilizer muscles in our shoulder joint, but by using dumbbells (or to a lesser extent rings) you can strengthen MORE stabilizers. That does not mean that we aren’t also strengthening SOME stabilizers, but throughout our workout we did plenty of work with dumbbells for them. We ALSO did some elevated push ups of our own before he got there, but he didn’t know that… no surprise.

Rectus sternalis and the great pectoral chest ...

Chest

Next, I’d love to figure out what he meant by practical chest muscles, since anatomically he failed already. He must have been talking about how we would use these muscle groups that he doesn’t fully understand in real life, right? So, tell me this because it’s never happened to me. Have you ever needed, in the “real world” outside of a gym, to use gymnastic rings in order to push yourself upwards using your pectoral muscles? I highly doubt it since gymnastic rings aren’t just hanging around everywhere in pubic. From our point of view, have you ever needed to push an object that fell on your chest off of you, whether it be a log, sibling, car, or anything else? Our scenarios might not be totally likely but they are certainly more plausible than that one for the rings, so who is actually working out more practical muscles?

So next time you find yourself in the gym ready to say something stupid, loud enough for everyone to hear, think about it for just a second and ask yourself if you could actually defend yourself. Also, if you’re on the receiving side of some snippy comment, like we were, don’t let it get you down. Never let any bully in the gym make you feel bad for something that you’re doing, unless you’re risking getting hurt and they’re trying to help. (Anyone trying to help wouldn’t bully you, or else they aren’t really trying to help.) Instead, let it motivate you to put up 155 on your last set of the decline for 12 reps after 6 months of not hitting any type of bench press.

Raging Bully

Ignore them bullies

Let the haters hate, ignore them, and keep working out because you’re doing a phenomenal job and we love your effort!

Rest and Recovery Days (We Take A Lot)

Looking at this past week, we only went to the gym three out of five days. Sunday was shoulders and climbing, Monday was legs and climbing, and Wednesday was arms and climbing. (Climbing=Bouldering, until we get more gear) That means that Tuesday and Thursday were more or less rest or recovery days, but this isn’t completely the case. Everyone works out for a different reason. Some people want to feel better, some want to look better, and some actually enjoy it. Although the first two are true for myself, I would never work out as much as I do if I didn’t enjoy it.

Rock climbing on the wall of Voiron, Auvergne ...

Rock climbing on the wall of Voiron, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes championship (Isère, France). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Going to the gym is considered a leisurely activity in my daily planner because 95% of the time, a trip to the gym is on the same level as playing video games. The other reason that they weren’t rest days is based on how active one’s lifestyle is outside of designated workouts. On both of those days, I biked over ten miles to and from jobs throughout the day. It was on a cheap mountain bike, and there were lots of uphills and changes of direction and pace. Also, I was in the water for hours treading and teaching children how to swim. I was never moving too quickly, but overall I probably “swam” a thousand yards (I should calculate, or try to, some day.) Finally, everyday I walk a dog in the foothills, and those hikes/walks are usually around 3 miles long. According to my former Taekwondo master, hiking is the greatest form of exercise in the world… even greater than taekwondo. (He is an 8th degree black belt)

Hiking Symbol

HIKE OR DIE

So never feel bad about taking a day off from the gym! Especially if you have an active and healthy lifestyle. Many people don’t realize just how active they are! Do you clean the house? Pick up your children and carry them around? Mow the lawn or garden? Walk the dog? Shovel snow or rake leaves? Walk up and down stairs all day? All these activities can be extremely taxing on the body and while you might not get the same effect of lifting weights in sets and reps, you can still get a heck of a workout from it.

Houseworks

Houseworks

Furthermore, rest is good as long as you don’t take too many days off it you’re trying to reach a certain goal. Some studies show that you won’t lose muscle gains for eight days, and cardio gains for three days. Now, I would not recommend taking more than two days off in a row because that should be enough recovery time for your muscle fibers, but don’t be too hard on yourself for taking some rest!

Collage of varius Gray's muscle pictures by Mi...

LET THOSE MUSCLES REST

Letting your body over-recover is much better than not letting it recover. You want those fibers to undergo fancy scientific processes like protein synthesis so that they come back bigger and stronger. Skip the process, and risk losing the growth that you worked so hard for. Working out, eating right, and sleeping right are the easy parts… your body is doing all the hard work, just get your mind in the right place. Never be too hard on yourself (I can’t take my own advice) and always try to enjoy what you’re doing. Working out every day, or nearly, for four years is really boring, unless you love the pain and struggle.

Keep up the good work!

Kitty Spotlight: Nymeria

Very connected with the name (although she doesn’t quite respond to it yet), Nymeria is wild, mischievous, and…well, adorable. She’s our baby girl, 3 months old! She’s younger than our other kitten, Misty, by a month. I actually have the two of them on my lap right now, and Nymeria is watching me as I type. A little too cute to handle, she gets really excited. You can read about when we first got them here. So let’s go over how she was around a month ago (though I feel we’ve had them forever) to how she is today.

Watching me type

So let’s start when we first got her. You can see the first picture I took of her below. She was wide-eyed, hyper, and ready for action (and still is)! She was very friendly, and while we were trying to decide on what kitten to get, she just jumped on my lap. Kind of a give away there. She loves to play, really loves to play. And if Misty is being too prissy to do so, she will sprint around the house, jumping up on the couch and cat tree then jumping off. We play a bit of tag then too, and hide and seek.

First day we got her, wide-eyed Nymeria

Nymeria playing hide and seek

One day I was looking for something in the very small desk drawer, and she hopped right in and laid comfortably

She is very mischievous and she knows when she’s doing something wrong because if we go near her during her crime, she will scamper away as quickly as possible. Nymeria loves to play with this black and white pen and we’ll find it on the ground when we come back or clamped in her tiny little jaws. She has the adorable little nature to her that will be apparent in her face, this baby-like innocence and curiosity. If we push her away from cuddling, she will come right back every single time. She’s also gotten into the habit of cleaning Misty a lot, licking her head and ears, sometimes with a bite to go with it if she’s feeling playful. You can see that below.

Tried out her Halloween outfit. She wasn’t pleased

Nymeria (true to her name) seemed born a hunter. Right from the start, she knew how to hunt and pounce. She had perfect form in her waiting-for-pounce mode and sprung at the exact moment. In fact, Misty didn’t even know how to pounce or play when she got to us, but by observing Nymeria, she does all the time now. Although she’s significantly smaller than Misty, she can do pretty well when they wrestle together. Nymeria is excellent at grabbing the toys we annoyingly dangle over her head and great at catching the toys we drag on the ground like animals. We just need to watch our toes.

Nymeria was not without her problems, though. Actually, she came to us with quite a few problems all at the tender age of two months old. She came with roundworm, a bacteria that affecting her pooping habits. She couldn’t really control it and it wasn’t very good. There were a lot of baths, a lot of scrubbing the carpet, and wiping butts. We kinda got used to it. We had to give her medicine every day which wasn’t fun (using a syringe to plunge the icky goo into her mouth). Then, she got a pretty bad cold, wheezing, sneezing, lots of big bogeys. And we could really tell she was sick. You know with kids, you can tell–her usual rascal self was not there, she slept most of the time, and never felt like eating. But we slowly got her back to health. She has the occasional sneeze now and then, but it’s cute.

An adorable sick Nymeria passed out with her cute shaved belly (from her spaying surgery)…we may or may not have wanted to shave it again just because it’s adorable

Yet, despite all her rambunctiousness, she’s extremely sweet and friendly, and would never purposely hurt anyone. Misty, time and time again, steals Nymeria’s food out of her bowl (before we catch her and reprimand her), and Nymeria doesn’t fight her, doesn’t growl (like Misty does), but simply waits until she can get her food again. She’s very patient and loving and would never hurt her sister, who I think in return would eat everything so Nymeria would have nothing. She has an amazing tolerance and easy-going nature which makes her never act aggressive. Nymeria is the ultimate cuddler, whether it be Chris or I or Misty, she will always initiate.

I would say her most distinguishing aspect (besides her adorable waddling bowleggedness) is that she kneads. I’m guessing she was taken from her mother very early and was thus unweaned. Never got used to not having mama’s milk since she didn’t have time to properly wean off it. So, if anyone lays on the couch, you can count up to 5 before you’ll have little black Nymeria paws on your chest. She will then curl into your neck, put both paws on your neck or arm, and knead them, like she’s trying to push milk out of mama. She does this all the time. In fact, right now she’s doing it to Misty on my lap, who definitely does not mind the massage.

Well, I wrote way too much, but I love my kitties. Nymeria is growing up great and healthy, can’t wait to see how she is all growed up. Keep an eye out for the next Kitty Spotlight!

She thinks I’m her mother

Cheers!

Happiness Starts in the Home

With our latest ‘painting’ bought (I use quotes because we got it from Ross, but it really is quite nice), our home is truly starting to feel like…well, home. I love each and every room. It may be small, but I like small, because I grew up in a beach bungalow. It fits the four of us very nicely, and we’ve even been able to squeeze in four guests (at once)!

Our new entertainment center which you read about last post. Movies are so much more epic now. We watched Part 2 of the Deathly Hallows today after work instead of being productive!

Here is our lovely fireplace, complete with ready-to-go pumpkins and a fireplace set Chris picked up from a garage sale. Cannot wait until the weather gets cold and we constantly have a fire to cozy up the apartment!

I always like to show our bookshelf of the gods (of sorts) and there happens to be a bowl of Halloween candy atop it. Which is the death of me.

Now Chris calls this my “Office.” You can see my computer set up, with both of our work schedules, payrolls, calendars, and so forth pinned up in front of it. You can also see our new painting–of New York!

Here’s our simple line of appliances. All of our cooking spices and goodies are in the lazy susan underneath. And Chris’ “office” is on the breakfast bar. In fact, you can see his computer there!

And I just had to put up a picture of our awesome changing-color bathroom nightlight with a ocean-scene on it. It’s great!

In the bedroom, we got a huge tapestry (my personal favorite color), a beautiful Japanese wall scroll straight from Japan, and a family mirror. If you look closely enough, you can see a new Olympic Barbell we bought from Salvation Army ($12.50–what a deal!) over the weekend.

Great new mugs!!

Beyond me posting random pictures of our beloved apartment, there is a little more to what I’m conveying. Before trying to settle being happy with your life as a whole, start with your home. Make it so when you walk in the door, you feel relaxed and comfortable–away from the dangers of the outside world and a place where you can feel at peace. Like the title says, happiness starts in the home. Make your space how you want it to be. Make it a place of love and harmony. Otherwise, you’re never going to want to be there. And nobody wants to feel unwelcome in their own home.

Cheers!

Family Addition: Television!

So, I start all my posts with so. What a bad habit, but not as bad a habit as buying ridiculous things, which ended up with us having a 39″ television in our little apartment. When I was in college, I can’t remember what year, I decided to buy a nice television for my bedroom at home. (I think it was when I graduated actually.)  Why? Because I love playing video games and watching movies/anime. Plain and simple.

Now, my room at home wasn’t the biggest, and my vision wasn’t the best, but bigger doesn’t always mean better. As a result, I bought the most environmentally friendly television at the time (or one of them). It was a cute little 22″ Philips LED 720p TV and it got the job done. When we decided to move, I couldn’t let this little guy, which I spent a whole $159.99 on just stay behind. So we took him/her, despite the sea of other things we got rid of over the months. Somehow, it made it all the way across the country despite the ridiculous heat and bumpy roads. But here in Boulder, in our apartment, the Philips just wasn’t working out and I decided to make a move.

An exciting bundle of packages that may or may not have our TV inside

After debating for weeks, with a little financial aid and TV input from my brother, I finally ordered a 39″ TCL 1080p 60HZ LED TV. It was nearly $350 on Amazon, but had free shipping. It made it in two days with Prime, and seemed to be in perfect shape, as we watched “The Avengers” the first night we got it. We haven’t used it since but I can’t wait for tomorrow. Why? Because I ordered this television for one reason. Resident Evil 6. And I might as well use it for Dishonored. And every other good game coming out soon but really I can’t wait to put it to good use. It doesn’t have an off-axis glare like the Philips had because of its size. It fits almost perfectly and I think that movie nights and video games will be so much better with it. Now Alana can use the Philips as a PC screen so she can play Skyrim in super mode. And now I can play Skyrim in super-mode too. Can’t wait for Resident Evil 6. PSN username KINGTUCCI for anyone that wants to play online multiplayer.

There it is, in all its glory

Thanks for reading the short post, I’ll let you know how the TV performs in my soon to come review of Resident Evil 6.

Bonus Pic: Misty being pissy