Thursday, September 27, 2012

"I'm Gonna Make a Comeback..."

One of my favorite workout songs right now is Comeback by Redlight King. Ya'll know I'm all about the message of my tunes, not just the beat - I need both the words and the tune to drive me, to keep me moving forward, and this song has become my anthem.


Now that I've been released to return (a-hem, I believe the exact words were "ease back in", but whatever) to my normal workout routines, and I've realized that the shoulder is simply as good as it's going to get, I've been moving forward. The first few weeks were simply cardio - regaining my stamina and, let's be honest, trying to stop sucking wind. Ugh. Once that phase was done, the next few weeks I began adding in light weights - resistance bands, planks (modified). Slowly, very slowly, working towards my goals. Each step (and rep) tentatively feeling out where my body is at. Does it hurt? Well, duh - it always hurts, but is it injury/warning pain or just I'm a wussy pain? Can I do one more? Ummm, with or without hurting myself? Ok, should I do one more?  It's been hard on me, mentally, having to constantly take stock and go light.

This week, however, marked a new era. This is my 'I'm Gonna Make a Comeback' phase, and I'm diving in. I am more sore (oh, lordy, I am sore) than I have been in months! MONTHS! And I love it! Well, I don't love it when I'm doing things like, oh, I don't know... getting up from a chair, sitting, walking, moving my arms... you know - normal stuff, LOL! But it gives me such hope! I can work hard enough to make my body cry! YES! Yeah - I'm twisted. ;-)

Having re-established my cardio, I have moved on to rebuilding my body - and I am excited! I still have to modify drastically - I have to stop and change direction mid-workout - I have to stop and roll out my knee - this is all ok. I've come to terms with it. There's no point in getting upset (though I sometimes still do - hey, I'm human), it's simply what it is. Adjust - move on. Get strong. Today is chest/triceps/abs - and I guarantee there will be some modifying as I continue to get used to the new 'girls'. Lol.

I'm icing like a maniac - knee, shoulder, knee, shoulder; I'm taking ALL my supplements (hyaluronic acid w/collagen, glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM, a gazillion aminos & antioxidants, vitamins, EFA's), I'm drinking my water, keeping my diet clean and generous (I need more calories to build muscle), and I am so freaking excited! Finally! I AM making a comeback.

It's good to be sore. ;-)



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

So Excited!!! Take a Peek...

I'm so excited to share this with you! I've been given the opportunity to participate in an original recipe challenge for Smart Balance™ beginning October 1st on Facebook. I was contacted a couple weeks ago as one of 20 bloggers and I've been doing an Agnes ever since! (hehe, yes, I do love my Despicable Me references, lol!).   I am incredibly honored to have been invited, and can't wait to share the recipe with you guys!

But there's a catch. Just a little one. I promise. Here's the deal... I need you to vote for me.
No, let me rephrase... I NEED you to vote for me! ;-) It's a simple matter of going to the Facebook link I'll provide on the 1st, "liking" the page, then voting. Not only will you be supporting me (thank you!!!), but you've got a good reason to help me win -

The winner of the Contest will receive a trip for two to Cannon Ranch Hotel & Resort in Miami
Beach, Florida  PLUS another trip for 2 for the blogger (that would be me) to give away to a reader.  Approximate Retail Value of Trip: $2,750.

Which means, should I win the contest, I will then host a contest of my own choosing here on my blog, and then award that 2nd trip to one of you! Hey! Maybe we can go together! See? There's totally something in it for you, too! :-)  So..... will you vote? Please, please, pretty please? With a cherry on top? Oh wait, make that a chocolate chip (hint, hint)    ;-)

So what is it exactly I'm asking you to vote for?  Here is a sneak peek...

I have spent a ton of time developing a recipe, and variations thereof. I crunched numbers, compared products, examined ingredients... until I had three finalists that a) included my Smart Balance™  product of choice, b) met a specific nutritional profile, and c) were CLEAN.   Healthy recipes are my passion, and creating food that looks good, tastes good (and smells good), and is good for you - I love it!

So last weekend, it was proofing time. I took my final recipes, gathered a gazillion ingredients, and got to work.


The first step for me is all about chaos, lol. Just like my Sunday Food Prep & Counter of Chaos™, I pull everything out and see what my options are. Different brands, different sweeteners, different cooking vessels. It all hits the counter. Then I begin to sift through my ingredients - discarding this, holding onto that, and then it is time to mix. Mwahahahaha!!

After baking, I take pictures (just in case it actually worked, lol), then force ask my family and whoever else is in the house (with 4 kids and all their friends, we're pretty packed all the time) to act as taste-testers for me. However... as the scent wafted through the house, I found myself with very willing testers ;-)

And... everyone loved it! Just to be sure it wasn't a fluke, I remade the whole thing.... nope... no fluke! This was so good! I had to recheck all my calculations and nutrition to be sure! Seriously - it's that good! If you're looking for a healthy (shhhh, no one has to know) dessert for the Fall season (hello, Holidays!)... I've got ya covered. Take a little peek to see what's coming...



Oh - and don't forget to check back for the voting link!  PLEASE????  ;-)

P.S... When handling a cast iron skillet, always use an oven mit. Just sayin'.




Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Champion Nutrition Recipe of the Week - Broccoli and Cheddar Stuffed Chicken


I love stuffed chicken, but the usual recipes are typically an excess of fat and sodium. This recipe is my answer - providing a rich and flavorful entree that is also healthy and training friendly! It comes together quickly and tastes like you've slaved in the kitchen for hours! ;-)  And as a bonus, there are step by step photos below!

Serve alongside your favorite steamed veggies (check out my steamed green beans and mushrooms seen above!).

Broccoli & Cheese Stuffed Chicken 
by Chelle Stafford
Serves 3

Ingredients:

1 small crown of broccoli
3 chicken breasts
Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb
3 Tbsp shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp fat-free cream cheese
3 Tbsp ground flax seed
Spray oil (I used olive oil)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°
Spray baking dish with oil
Chop broccoli into small pieces
Wrap chicken breasts in plastic wrap and pound to less than 1/2 inch thickness with a meat-mallet
Sprinkle both sides of chicken with Mrs Dash, then turn so the "inside" is up.
Spread each breast with 1 Tbsp fat-free cream cheese
Sprinkle each breast with 1 Tbsp sharp-cheddar
Divide the broccoli among the breasts
Carefully roll up each breast, beginning with wide end, pressing filling in as needed
Use toothpicks to hold breasts in place
Sprinkle each breast with Mrs Dash, and 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170° internal temperature.
Serve

NUTRITION  Per breast: 274 calories, 42 g protein, 4 g carb, 9 g fat, 2 g fiber.

*TIP It's easy to make this dish for 1, 2, 3 or however many you need! Each breast gets 1 Tbsp each cheddar, fat-free cream cheese, and ground flax. EASY! :-)
Chelle's Broccoli and Cheddar stuffed chicken

View this recipe and more at http://recipeforfitness.com/recipes/




Monday, September 24, 2012

Questions About Competing?



There's a great opportunity just around the corner, to get some answers if you have questions about competing. Ya'll know my journey - I shared the ups and downs, the joy and pain, the gnawing hunger of prep and the painful bloating of post-show eating, lol. Well, Tosca Reno is about to hit the stage again (Figure) in honour of her late husband, Robert Kennedy. Her show is coming up, and as part of her willingness to share her own journey, she and her coach, Rita Catolino are hosting a live chat to answer your questions! Pretty cool, right?  

Tune in live on Thursday, October 4th at 12:30 pm EST. http://toscareno.blogspot.ca/2012/09/competitionchatlive.html#.UFiMvhhXtT4 

You can find the event details here: http://toscareno.com/index.php?option=com_eventlist&view=details&id=242:watch-competitionchatlive&Itemid=64#.UFiM1RhXtT5.

I've already signed up and am excited to 'attend'. I hope you will too! 

FYI, Tosca Reno is competing on Saturday, October 13th in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Photo-shoot Fun

We did our family photo shoot this week, the last one with our beloved Nakki. The steroid treatment has age-reversed her - she's running around like a puppy again, chasing us, throwing her own toys in the air and catching them. Her lymph nodes are nearly undetectable, and the other tumors have shrunk, too. Her appetite has increased - you know the saying, "eat anything that's not nailed down"? That's Nakki, and she's gnawing around the nail! While we love seeing this, we know it's just temporary. So we're doing things like the family photo, and in a few weeks hope to take her to San Diego (Dog Beach), because she loves the ocean so much. It'll be a way for our whole family to cherish a few last memories, an easing into our final goodbye.

For the photos, we met with Tina over at STUDIO No.5 in downtown Scottsdale. Thankfully, Nakki didn't think Tina's pom was a dog treat, lol, and the two got along fine while we were there. Tina captured some amazing moments of fun and love, and we're now facing the daunting task of choosing which images to purchase (photography is SOOOOO expensive!). I tried to narrow down my favorites and ended up with 48 images in my folder. Ummmmm. Gonna have to trim that down. A lot.

Here are a few samples (click to view larger) of her fabulous work (and my family's silliness)...


This is Joker/Bat-Dog, LOL








Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pain, Arthritis, Sugar - and other random thoughts

I'm sitting at my desk, working (and blogging, shhhhh!), and my iTunes is crooning out Minnie Driver, Grant Lee Phillips, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan.... yep - it's that kind of day. I'm listening to my "Everything hurts and I need to be peaceful in order to function" playlist. If you've read my blog for long, you know that I have arthritis. I have good days, I have bad days. Today is a bad day. A very, very bad day. Ugh.

I don't like talking about it much, because I'd rather focus on the positive, on the things I can do as opposed to what I can't. And, to be honest, I hate to sound like I'm whining. But I also know that many of you struggle with daily pain, too, and I hope that by occasionally addressing it, I can encourage you to push on. It's not easy, I know. There are days when I can't even raise my arms to 90 degrees, or tolerate weight on my right leg. Days when I feel so brittle, I expect to shatter. Days when I just want an endless supply of pain killers and a dark room. I don't get it, but boy, I sure want it! lol. While I will not be visiting the gym today (that's just asking for injury - can't you see me dropping a weight on my foot - or someone else's - because I stubbornly try to raise it?), I am up, at work, eating clean and pushing on. Sometimes that's as good as it gets.

There are a lot of times, when I am flared, that I can still hit the gym - get in my cardio or a workout. It's imperative that I do - to be prepared for the days when I can't. It's also imperative that I keep my diet clean and low-sugar. The correlations between sugar and inflammation and chronic pain are undeniable, and just more motivation to limit those added sugars permanently. It was ironic to me that when we met with the veterinary oncologist for my dog (Lymphoma), she warned us to make sure Nakki has NO sugar in her diet as cancer feeds on sugar. I wish more human-care doctors would point this out to patients.

Tosca Reno is pushing a fabulous Sugar Strike this month... if you haven't checked it out, please do so. She and the Eat Clean Diet team also offer fabulous helpful tools to beat sugar/sweet cravings. And if you participate in the contest, you stand to win some cool prizes. And prizes are always awesome ;-)

Cutting out, or even reducing, added sugars in your diet can make such a huge difference. Apart from weight loss benefits, you'll experience lowered inflammation, clearer skin, sharper mental focus, and so much more. Click on the picture here of Tosca to learn more about the Strike Sugar contest.

I know beyond any doubt that without my Clean Eating lifestyle, I'd have a whole lot more bad days. There are so many things I have no control over, but what goes in my mouth is one I can absolutely take charge of. If you need examples of what clean eating looks like, check out my Daily Coolers on my website... I post photos of what's in my cooler and various meals, and list all my food for the day. Solid nutrition is crucial to dealing with chronic pain. I shudder to think of how much worse my condition could be.

So, I'll chill today. Get my work done. Ice my joints. Drink my water. Eat my clean food. Listen to my low-key tunes, lol. And hope that tomorrow brings less pain.

And now to completely change the subject ;-)
Many of you have asked me, "When is The Big Reveal??" - my new post-surgery body. Here's a peek at my new tummy - actually, that's not entirely accurate - it's still my tummy, just minus a TON of loose skin. I know this isn't a great photo, and I'll get a better one soon. It's really cool, especially in the mornings, I can SEE my abdominals! Woot! (unfortunately, this pic was taken in the afternoon). And my obliques are starting to pop back out, too! And look - I have a belly button! LOL! Hahaha! Next time I hit the stage, there will be no gluing my loose skin into my suit. Yay!!
And just cuz I'm obnoxious like this... I want to reiterate that I had surgery only AFTER I had done everything in my power to change my body. EVERYTHING. And maintained it. For years. Surgery was not, and should never be, a shortcut. Clean eating, hard work, and consistency will take you far - very, very far. Sometimes though, we're left with (haha) leftovers. In my case it was a significant amount of loose skin in my belly area. Surgery was (again, I say) not a shortcut. I did the work, the doctor simply made it visible. And now I'll step off the soapbox. ;-) For now. LOL!

Happy Wednesday Folks!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Champion Nutrition Recipe of the Week - Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

Spaghetti is a comfort food for me. I love it, but sometimes (training diet) I don't do pasta... enter Spaghetti Squash. Now, I know lots of folks say that spaghetti squash is just like spaghetti. It's not. But it's close enough! Here's an easy to prepare recipe that will keep you on track with your diet, while still enjoying that spaghetti with meat sauce flavor.

Chelle's Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce
serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb ground chicken breast (can sub lean turkey breast or lean pork)
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped (skin on)
  • 1 medium pepper (any color), chopped
  • 2 cups (or 1 container) chopped or sliced mushroom (I prefer the brown crimini, but you can use button)
  • 1 jar Newman's Own Sockarooni Sauce*
  • 1 tsp Mrs Dash Tomato & Basil


DIRECTIONS

  • Cut spaghetti squash lengthwise (so you have two long halves). Place them upside down in a glass baking dish, adding 1/2 cup water, then cover (either with a microwave safe cover or saran wrap).
  • Microwave on high 7-10 minutes (the longer it cooks, the "softer" the noodles will be). Use a fork to test doneness by scraping the inside - if it easily shreds into noodles, it's done.
  • Scoop noodles into a bowl, set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil. 
  • Add ground chicken breast and Mrs Dash, and cook until almost done. 
  • Add veggies, stir, continue cooking until the meat is cooked through (no pink spots), and the veggies reach your desired crispness/softness. Alternatively, you can cook the veggies in a separate pan sprayed with cooking oil. 
  • Pour the sauce into the skillet, stirring well to heat it through. 
  • Serve over the Spaghetti Squash noodles. 


NUTRITION: per serving - 193calories, 27 grams protein, 8 grams carbs, 6 grams fat, 2 grams fiber, 75 mg sodium.  6 net carbs.

*NOTE: Can't find the Newman's Own Sockarooni Sauce? No problem! Sub in 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes, 1 Tbsp Mrs Dash Italian seasoning, stir well and voila!

New Hair

As I've mentioned before, I do not like taking pictures of myself. Ugh. But regardless..Here is the new DARK Chelle-hair, lol! Gone is the white-blonde, and here for at least the next few weeks is...

I've got to dash... I'll be back in a bit to do my Champion Nutrition Recipe of the Week (woot!).
:-)



Monday, September 17, 2012

All Hail Costco...

Guess what??? I didn't have to break out the first aid kit! Woot! No injuries! Lol! Camping was a ton of fun. The fabulous bug-spray that Rachel Corradetti turned me onto worked like a charm - no mosquito bites! The campground was beautiful, and though there were no flush-toilets, there were facilities that didn't involve a tree and a spade. ;-) We tried fishing, but the best I did was to catch a snail. Yeah. Figures, right? That's ok, it could have been worse (right, Dad? hehe).  We relaxed, enjoyed the gorgeous scenery, and played the "famous name" game - I got knocked out on an X. Seriously - using Malcom X is just cheating, lol... though I did use Yogi Bear when I hit a Y. ;-)

One of our friends is a serious Costco fan. He loves that place. His favorite phrase is, "I got it at Costco." By the end of the weekend we were calling him FranCostco (his last name is Francisco). Haha. But... it did remind me that I hadn't been there in a while, might have a lapsed membership. Oops!



We drove home Sunday, and I might have been a wee bit stressed out about my food prep happening. Two weekends in a row is just begging for trouble. After we unloaded the truck (and showered, haha), I quickly made a list and headed out. First stop Costco (Ron would be proud). Where I renewed my membership, and then scored. Big-time! Knowing that my prep time was short, I took the path of least resistance, lol, and loaded up my cart with rotisserie chicken, pre-cooked & shredded chicken (clean), pre-cooked and chopped chicken (clean), apples, grapefruit, spinach, fruit-leather snacks for my youngest (clean), raw chicken breasts, edamame, sprouted dry beans, and hard boiled eggs. Seriously - All Hail Costco! Oh! I also got an enormous bottle of virgin coconut oil - for $15. Are you kidding me!!??  Awesome!!

From there, I dashed to Safeway for the rest of my produce, then back home. Food prep was done in a jiff - I made a batch of chorizo (clean fresh chorizo with ground chicken breast, black beans and black olives), broke down the rotisserie chickens, prepped the veggies,  moved everything into it's appropriate tray and then promptly crashed. Lol. Good news is food prep is done! Yay! Bad news is laundry is not. And now my laundry room smells like a campfire. ;-)  Guess what I'm doing today after the gym? Haha!

Happy Monday!





Friday, September 14, 2012

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall...

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, I am my Mother after all ;-)



Yesterday was my looooong awaited hair appointment. A few months back there was a chemical/dryer/hair/burning mishap. Ya'll know I've got white-blonde hair - well, while it was that color naturally in high school, but darkened with childbirth/age, nowadays it gets some help from my stylist. After all these years, though, it finally happened - he cooked it. I literally could smell my hair burning while I was under the dryer. Yikes! To make matters worse, the area that burned down to a scant 1/2 inch length, is on the back of my head exactly where I have a cowlick! It's like rubbing salt in a wound. Not cool. While I've wanted to simply wear a hat until it grows out (I also toyed with the idea of going buzz cut), I've sucked it up, done the female "comb-over" and pretended it's not there. No fun.

So... after all this, my stylist decides it's time to give my hair a break and nurse it back to health. "Let's go dark," he said. Thinking that would hide my bald spot better than my currently fiber-optic shade, I agreed. What it meant, though, was going extra long between hair appointments to make sure I had a good chunk of root regrowth. Argh. Great. Now I've got a bald spot, female comb-over, and an inch and a half of dark roots. Nice. It has not been a good hair summer. Lol.

This brings me to yesterday. The "let's go dark" day. And OMG. I was stunned, it's been so long since I've done any color but blonde, that it was shocking. My skin tone looked darker, my eyes looked bigger, and as I finally focused on the full reflection, I did a double-take. When did my mother get here? LOL! Seriously, with the dark hair, I look just like my mom (who has amazing skin, btw, so I'll take it!).

I headed off to go pick up my youngest at school, and kept glancing at my hair in the rear view mirror - I may have had a conversation with my mom/reflection as I drove along. ;-)   I got to the school, pulled up and waited. She sees the car and here she comes. Yep. She saw me. There's the jerk and stop. She opens the door and says, "OMG! I totally thought Gramma Liz was here!" Hahahaha!!!  I got to shock our oldest daughter, and my hubby, and can't wait to get my other two kids. LOL ;-) I'll try and get Bill to take a pic of it this weekend. I hate taking my own pic - never can get it right - I mean seriously, I do NOT have 4 chins! Why do my self-pics always make me look like I do??? Oy!

Quick update on Nakki - we started her steroid treatment. Yesterday we got home after doing all our camping-trip-supply-shopping, and she not only greeted us at the door doing her signature butt-wag (no tail), she was jumping, running around us, bringing us toys to toss in the air for her to jump up and snatch... it was incredible! I felt around her, and the tumors on her chest have shrunk so much I can't find them, and the lymph nodes have significantly reduced in size, too! We know it's not a cure. We know it really doesn't change the outcome. But seeing her that energized and happy was overwhelming for us.

Today, we're finishing off the work schedule, then packing up and heading out. The plan is to set up in a sweet little campground outside of Sedona. One couple is already on their way to go stake out a site, while the rest of us can't leave until later. Here's the deal with camping. I love camping. Really. I grew up camping. Which is why I now have rules about camping. Serious rules. When I was a kid, the routine was to drive to the middle of nowhere, take the next back-road - or better yet, make one, drive until we could not go any further, set up the tent, the army blankets (you know those scratchy green wool ones?), douse ourselves in bug spray, and (here's why I have rules) pick a tree. I have awesome memories of those camping trips, but as an adult, I get to say: no toilets, no camping. Period. I will NOT do the tree thing.

Now, the friends we're going camping with don't understand this rule. They have no problem doing the tree thing. They even offered to bring, and share, their portable camping toilet. Yes, I did the heeby-jeeby dance. NO. EWWWWW. NO! I'd frankly rather do the tree thing! Which I am not going to, as I insisted (fine, I'm a camping weenie, whatever, at least I won't go home with poison ivy on my ass!) on going to a campground with quasi-real toilets. And yes, I've packed both toilet paper and wet-wipes. I also have a generous first aid kit. We're going fishing. Maybe hiking. We'll spend our evenings around a campfire. There's a pretty high probability that my klutz will emerge.


With great fear and trepidation, I am packing my cooler, my first aid supplies, my bug spray and various other items, and driving off into the sunset. 

Please let no one get hurt. 
Please let me hurt no one. 
Please let the bathrooms not be out of order. 

Happy Friday!!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How Do These Things Happen to Me?

I am convinced that people spend time with me simply for the comic relief. Things happen when I am present. It's not my fault, I swear!

So, after the emotional nightmare of our meeting with the veterinary oncologist (more on that later), we headed home to pack up the car for our trip to San Diego. Bill, Bethany (our 16 year old), and I. I made sure the cooler was within reach (who knew the hard boiled eggs would be so popular?!), and we drove out of town. Late. We got to near-about Yuma when we drove into the most ridiculous haboob. RIDICULOUS. Out of nowhere, we were swallowed up by this nasty, windy, dusty mess. And then it started to rain. Correction - TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR of world-ending proportions. That's when it happened.

"Snap! Scrape! Scraaaaaaaaaape!"

The windshield wiper (yes, it was on the passenger side - my side) broke. No bueno. Bill pulled the car over and tried to fix it. And swore. A lot. It was toast. As we sat there wondering what the heck to do now, he got this funny look on his face and said, "you wouldn't happen to have a paperclip, would you?"

Would I???? Am I female, I ask you??? I have all kinds of odds and ends in my purse!

Paperclip in hand, he went to work. And it worked.
See that silver loop? That's the paperclip holding the wiper onto the wiper-arm. Oy. "On the road again..."

We arrived late at the hotel, to quickly move our luggage into the room and crash. We had to be at the base at 9am. Then we got the phone call from my daughter Shiloh (it was her boyfriend graduating). We were at the WRONG HOTEL. I did indeed book the hotel closest to the base entrance (just one exit away!) but that's not where graduation was happening. That would be over on Mission Bay. Are you kidding me???

It gets better.

We woke early, begging the in-room coffee maker to brew just a little bit faster, and determined who got the shower first. That's when we discovered that my darling Shiloh who had stayed in this room the night before us, had used ALL the towels and left them in wet heaps throughout the bathroom area. AAAAHHHHHGGGGG!

Finally ready, Bethany dashed to the lobby for some breakfast (guess she was tired of hard boiled eggs, lol). She returned, we loaded up, checking under the beds and such (found her brush), and we checked out. On the road we remembered why we left San Diego. The traffic. O.M.G. And then it happened.

Bethany - "Mom. Mom. Mom."
Me - "what?"
Bethany - "I can't find my phone."
Me - "seriously?"
Bethany - (now panicking) "I CAN'T FIND MY PHONE"
Me - "hang on, I'll call it." (don't ask what her ringtone for me is. Teenagers.)
Bethany - "It's not here! I left it on the breakfast table!"
Bill - "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????"

We turned around at the next exit, inched our way back to the hotel, where she retrieved her phone (thank you to the employee who found it and took it to the front desk), and we got back into the non-flowing traffic. We were late. Yes, we were. Finally arriving at the base, there was a line. Of course there was. But since we weren't the only people late (it did make me feel better), we relaxed a bit, went through the search of our vehicle, and then tried to find the event. Would larger signs be asking too much?

Unable to find parking, we drove back out of the event area and discovered several unmarked parking spots. If they're unmarked they're fair game, yes? ;-)

The graduation was fabulous. The boys (I guess I can't call them that anymore) looked so handsome in their uniforms, and the pictures were wonderful (the good ones are on my other computer - grr). We turned back to the car (it was still there - Yay!), and made plans to all meet up later.


The three of us headed to the boardwalk and wandered around until Bethany decided we were going on this:
Belmont Park, The Big Dipper Roller Coaster


After an hour of trying to realign my neck, lol, we checked into our next hotel (ironically, it was ON Mission Bay), and proceeded to relax. This was 15 feet from our patio.

And we had fun...

And then we met this...

And this is where it got ugly.
That little bugger was friendly. Too friendly. We were relaxing on our patio, and as we were chatting, he got closer... and closer...
See where this is going?
Yes. I got bit by a duck. Not once. TWICE. And my beloved 16 year old daughter got it on video. Yes, she did. REALLY???   And yes, she really did title it "duck, duck, goose".



Later that night, we hung out with the kids, the duck stalked me down the beach (not kidding), and then the next day was sun, sand, and babies - Bill's stepson came by with his family and we played with the kiddos all day. Sunday, we packed up (reluctantly) and headed back home.  Right back into that darn haboob. I think it was waiting for us. Thankfully, the paperclip held and we could see out our windows.

Arriving back home, we got an update on Nakki while we were gone, and discovered our oldest daughter, Ariel, had not only captured a garden snake in the back yard, but had decided to make it a pet, placed it in a terrarium on my kitchen counter (ARGH!), and then realized she'd lost it when she tried to show us. Again I say, ARE YOU KIDDING ME????  

She eventually found it, though I've yet to see proof.

Nakki is doing ok. Her breathing is labored, she's grinding her teeth more and looks like she's lost a few more pounds. She is however enjoying the soft food and eating well. After meeting with the oncologist, and spending a lot of time over the weekend discussing our options, we've chosen to not do chemo. It's about a 6 month process, and only 50% of dogs survive those months. Untreated, her survival time is about 1-2 months. We've chosen to do steroid treatments, which will shrink the lymph nodes (allowing her to breathe better), and might give her 2-4 months. The treatments are a pill that we give her each morning, hidden in a treat. The dr told us to basically feed her whatever she wanted (no raw meat or sugar).

I hit WalMart yesterday after work to pick up more of the soft food, treats, whatever she might like - the soft food is from the cooler - have you seen those? It's fresh food, with real ingredients. I've always scoffed a bit at people who buy from that cooler - will never do so again. If my Nakki will eat it, I will get it. I also picked up a harness for her, as the leash on her collar causes discomfort with her swollen (ping pong ball size) nodes.

As I was checking out, the checker was snickering a bit at my purchases. When she hit the 6th roll of fresh dog food, then the harness, she looked up at me with disdain and said, "is this all for your dog?"

"Yes," I said, in a very, carefully calm voice. "It's for my dog who is dying of cancer and cannot eat dry dog food. This she will eat, and she likes it. I thought she should at least enjoy her food during her last weeks of life."

Guess who felt like a heel? Not me! ;-)

So, snarkiness and emotional trauma aside, that brings me up to date. Now I'm scrambling to get the laundry done, stretch out the little bit of food prep I did yesterday after my WalMart escapade, and get my work done. All of course while spending as much time as possible with my pup. This weekend, we're committed to a camping trip (do not laugh) with some friends. The kids will keep Nakki company while I hopefully do not cause any injuries or forest fires. Somewhere along the way, we will also get my windshield wiper replaced. Or is that just tempting fate? At least there will be no ducks. Please the gods, let there be no ducks.

Happy Tuesday!


Champion Nutrition Recipe of the Week - Oatmeal Protein Cookies

You've just killed your workout. Your cardio is done, your muscles are screaming and your glycogen is depleted. Time for a cookie ;-) Enjoy noshing on a few of these Oatmeal Protein Cookies post-workout, and still stay on track with your diet! Pour a cup of coffee (or milk) and replenish those muscles.

Oatmeal Protein Cookies
recipe by Chelle Stafford
Makes 15 cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup protein powder (I used Champion Nutrition Pure Whey, Vanilla)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 packets Stevia
  • 6 oz plain fat free greek yogurt
  • 1 cup mashed banana (about 1 large banana, over-ripe)*
  • 2 egg whites (or 6 Tbsp liquid egg whites)
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup almond milk


DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line baking sheets with foil and spray (I sprayed with coconut oil).
  • In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
  • In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients, except the almond milk.
  • Add the liquid mix to the large bowl and stir together. Add almond milk and mix well.
  • Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto cooking sheet (6 per sheet) and using the back of the spoon, spread them out into large schools.
  • Bake at 400 for 10 minutes or until the bottoms turn golden.
  • Remove to wire rack and cool. Store in airtight container.


*TIP - Swap out the banana for mashed sweet potato!

NUTRITION: per cookie - 83 calories, 7 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fat, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams sugars, 75 mg sodium.  8 net carbs.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Life is Fragile

I've been putting off sharing this... once I 'say it out loud', it's real, right? I know. Silly, but that's how it's felt. You might remember I took our Boxer in to the vet last week for a checkup. And that there were a few complications. Well. We got the rest of the tests back and she has advanced, aggressive lymphoma. We were told that, left untreated, she has about 2-4 months. With full chemo, maybe a year. She's only 6. We are crushed. Friday night we called a family meeting, to which each kid responded, "who's pregnant?". Oy - my family is delightfully sarcastic. Yes - that was sarcasm, lol.

Needless to say, the kids are all devastated, too. Each of them considers Nakki "their" dog. While we don't have all the answers yet (we meet with the oncologist tomorrow), we do know that her comfort and quality of life are paramount concerns.

It is horrifying to us how quickly this is progressing. Last week, she had swollen lymph nodes and was grinding her teeth. This week, she has visibly lost more weight, is struggling to breath and has difficulty swallowing, and keeping food down. Oddly, she still has lots of energy, and greets us at the door with her usual wiggles and affection. This is really hard.
not the clearest picture, but she likes to look away when you point a camera at her. Lol!

Tomorrow we're taking her to the oncologist at 1pm, then taking her back home and Bill, Bethany and I are driving to San Diego. Shiloh's boyfriend, Jared, is graduating Marine bootcamp, and she left this morning at 5am to be out there for Family Day. Ariel will be staying with Nakki and taking care of her while we're gone. We are hoping for, well, hope from this doctor, but know that in reality, we're just praying we'll have some options to get her pain-free.

Do I sound as scattered as I feel? Yeesh.





Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Champion Nutrition Recipe of the Week - Bring On The BACON!!!

Ok. So it's now officially September. The last big bbq weekend is behind us. Are you ready to face a Fall and Winter without burgers? Me either! And as the men in my life always say - 'Everything is better with bacon!'  Burgers, bacon, grill. Check. A few years back I picked up Devin Alexander's I Can't Believe It's Not Fattening cookbook... I love it, because it's so easy to clean up and tweak her recipes to fit my lifestyle. This is by far, my favorite and I encourage you to give it a try!

These are just as good made on the grill as made inside on my Foreman Grill. Oh - and yes - they are training friendly (as long as you're not a week or two out from show, lol).  The bacon bits I typically use in this are Wellshire Farms brand. If you can't find them, just use any uncured, low sodium bacon - cook it up and then smash it into bits. Need low-carb? Easy! Swap out the bun for lettuce leaves or a grilled portabello cap. Need to reduce the fat? Skip the cheese... See? This bacon burger will fit in almost any diet plan!! ;-)

Bacon Cheeseburgers
original recipe by Devin Alexander


  • Makes 1 - multiply recipe for required number of servings
    Ingredients:
    ●  4-ounces 96% lean ground beef (I used bison)
    ●  1/2 ounce slice reduced fat Swiss Cheese
    ●  1 1/2 Tbsp bacon pieces
    ●  1 tsp dried minced onion
    ●  Sea-Salt to taste
    ●  1 small leaf green lettuce
    ●  3 (1/4" thick) slices Roma (plum) tomato
    ●  1 Tbsp ketchup or BBQ Sauce (low sugar, low sodium)
    ●  1 (about 3 1/2" diameter) whole wheat or whole grain hamburger bun or 'thin-bun'
    Directions:
    ●  Preheat grill to high●  In a small bowl, mix the beef, bacon and onion until well combined. ●  Shape the beef into a patty about 1/2 inch larger in diameter than the bun. ●  Lightly sprinkle both sides of the patty with sea-salt. ●  Grill burger 1-2 minutes per side for med-rare, or until desired doneness is reached. (Don't smash the burger with a spatula). ●  Just before the burger is done, place the bun halves, insides face down, on a top grill rack or away from open flame to toast them. ●  Add the cheese atop the patty to melt (15-30 seconds). ●  Place the toasted bun bottom on a plate, add the burger patty, the lettuce, and the tomato slices.  Spread the ketchup or barbecue sauce over the inside of the bun top and flip it atop the burger. ●  Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information: Each sandwich (per recipe) has about 351 calories; 36 g protein; 29 g carbs; 11 g fat; 80 mg cholesterol; 4 g fiber, 745 mg sodium. These numbers will change depending on the bun you use, your choice of ketchup or bbq sauce, etc. My bacon bits were lower in sodium, as was my bbq sauce. (see my nutritional data below)














Here's the nutritional data for just the burger, no bun: