Archives For September 2013

Measuring Up…

September 25, 2013 — Leave a comment

Two things you should know about me:  First, I can cook.  Second, I rarely, if ever, measure.  This has proven to be difficult when someone asks me to share one of my recipes.  I usually say, “…okay, I’ll have to write it down and send it to you…” And then I go through the process of telling myself I need to make that dish again and actually measure the amounts I use in my assembly.  Most of the time (99.9% of the time) I never get around to making the dish again and taking note of measurements.  The truth is, I often change up my dishes a little bit each time.  I also really never make the same in dish in the same, well, dish.

I make several versions of my tasty brussels sprouts recipe.  I’ll share my baked brussels sprouts with roasted tomatoes and garlic.  It’s a very delicious side dish that is filled with flavor and nutrition.  I’m going to walk you through it via pictures and descriptions.

BAKED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH ROASTED TOMATOES AND GARLIC

ORGANIC INGREDIENTS

Brussels sprouts, whole
Homemade chicken broth
Chicken stock drippings (the fat retrieved from making stock)
Whole, roasted garlic
Button mushrooms, sliced
Fire roasted, diced tomatoes
Onion powder
Sea salt
Freshly 
ground black pepper

1. Start by place whole brussels sprouts in a baking pan or dish.  Do not cut the brussels sprouts or stack them on top of each other.  They should be placed side-by-side in a single layer.  Add enough homemade chicken stock to cover half of each brussels sprout as pictured below (i.e., to the middle of each sprout):
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2. Next, place a healthy amount of roasted garlic (about 16-25 cloves) around and on top of the sprouts.  You can buy garlic already roasted at Whole Foods or you can roast it for yourself ahead of time:
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3. Add six to ten teaspoons of chicken stock drippings.  Don’t leave this step out.  It adds an important depth of flavor and needed fat.  You could use organic ghee if you prefer.  I think it tastes better with the chicken dippings.  Add your salt, pepper and onion power at this point:
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4. Add a healthy layer of sliced button mushrooms.  For convenience sake, I buy the pre-sliced mushrooms.  One package is usually just perfect for a pan this size:
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5. Lastly, add your drained, roasted tomatoes.  Spread them out evenly over the entire mixture.  For a pan this size I usually use two cans of organic, diced, fire roasted tomatoes:
IMG_35206. Bake the mixture between 35 and 50 minutes at 400 degrees.  After 15 minutes, mix the ingredients up in the pan.  Do this at least two or three times during its baking time.  The brussels sprouts are done when you can slice through them with a knife somewhat easily.  You don’t want them so soft that they smoosh when you try to cut them:
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ENJOY!  This is very delicious and good for you.  Even non-brussels sprouts eaters love this dish.  Great with any protein or just by itself.  It’s delicious eaten cold as well!

I had that special moment today…the moment when time stands still and you realize that your life has changed…and it’s changed for the spectacular.

Let me back up a bit…

I Spin three times a week.  On a rare occasion (and I mean rare) I will Spin on Thursday nights during our 4:30pm class.  Yesterday I decided that I was going to drive in JUST for Spin.  So at 3:30pm, I left my house in Petaluma and drove to Novato.  I got to my office just before 4pm.  I set up my bike and waited for my instructor (Glen), and the other students, to arrive.  I remember looking at the clock…it read 4:20pm…students are here, but no Glen.  No Glen?!  This is odd.  Glen has never missed a since he started teaching this class over two years ago.  I feared that something happened…my fear was heightened given that Glen recently purchased a motorcycle.  My mind went a little crazy and I hoped and prayed that nothing serious had happened.  I asked Sue, one of my Staff Managers at the club, if he had called.  She said, “No.”  Even more odd.  Glen would have called if there was a problem.  The clock now reads 4:27pm…

I think to myself, “I’m going to have to teach this class…”

I duck into our orientation & therapy room and compose myself.  Forget that I’m about to teach my first Spin class TOTALLY unprepared…but I was completely worried that something bad had happened to Glen.  But now, there was no time for conjecture or panic.  I had a room full of students who were ready to Spin.  The clock on the wall reads 4:29pm…

As a health club manager, I just move into operations mode and handle the problem.  I’m not focused any longer on the fact that THIS will be my first class, I just have to make it happen and make it good.  I tell the class, “I’m not sure where Glen is, but let’s get started.  I have not prepared a program, obviously, for this class…but I will give it my all and I promise you a great, fun class…” Oh my God, why did I just say that?!  The clock reads 4:30pm…  Time to start…here I go now…

From the moment I opened my mouth on the bike…from the moment I spoke the first instruction…I was calm and focused.  All that matted was that I delivered a superior class.  My worries and fears did not exist and I refused to give power to something that is created out of thin air.  Before I knew it, the clock read 4:50pm…  Had twenty minutes passed already???

My energy was high on all levels.  As soon as I started I mapped out a program in my head.  I need to follow the program, keep my energy up, and watch my students for correct form and posture…all the while being aware if my form AND balancing my breathes so I could talk over the headset microphone.

I used some traditional moves and used some of my own.  I mixed it up and gave them something new.  I didn’t want to rest on what was easy.  I wanted then to love this class.  I didn’t want any of them to feel disappointed because Glen wasn’t there.  But I caught myself…I have no control over their reaction.  I only have control over my delivery and attitude.  I stayed focused and kept giving it my all.  The clock now read 5:15pm…and that’s when it happened…the moment it all clicked for me…

In the midst of my coaching, I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror…a glimpse of me on the Spin bike, coaching, instructing…thriving in the moment…  Who is that guy?…that thin guy?…that guy with defined, strong legs and that smallish butt?  Oh my God…it’s really me!  This is surreal…  The clock reads 5:23pm…  The class has seven minutes left…

My students…let me say that again…my students…were working their butts off…I could see how tired they were…the loads of sweat pouring off their bodies…  On the other hand, I was on fire.  My energy level was so high I thought I was going to jettison right out of my seat.  I smiled and realized I was going to finish hard and strong…and I was going to lead my class to do the same.  The clock now reads 5:25pm…the last song is coming on…

I tell everyone to take a deep breath…that we are going to ride this one out with fury and fun…we’re gonna give it our all…I tell them to, “…Focus on the beat of the music.  Ignore any tiredness.  Know that you are strong and will finish strong.  Know that you can achieve it if they focus on what they want…”  It’s now 5:28pm on the clock…only two minutes left…everyone is giving it their all…

Right now, I’m just a ball of energy and inspiration.  All I care about is the group finishing strong…praising them for their work, their commitment…I’m trying not to yell into the mic, but I can’t hold down my excitement…only a few seconds left…almost there.  The clock reads 5:30pm…it’s over…it done…my first Spin class as the sole instructor…My students sweaty, tired…and smiling…

I’m on cloud 9….no, more like cloud 27…

I completed the class with a few traditional stretches and some new ones.  My students all liked the new moves.  They came up to me and let me know they really liked the class.  They told me that i worked them hard and they like it.  I was beaming…

It turns out that the stars aligned for me to get the validation I didn’t even know I needed.  Here’s what happened:  Glen missed a class.  I happened to be there.  I taught the class.  I had not prepared.  I gave it my all.  I was good.  The class was happy…

If it had happened any other way, I would not have had the experience of how really prepared I was to teach a Spin class on my own.  I knew deep down I could do it…but I did have nerves…I had nerves because it mattered so deeply to me.  Being thrown into the fire without ANY preparation taught  me how strong I was.  It taught me that I have been ready for some time…more than ready…

I could not have done what I did if i hadn’t committed to transforming my body from the inside out.  My clean living and eating provided me with a body that could “do the work” and do it well.  Although far from perfect, I now have a body that acts like a well oiled machine.  It gives me the energy I need when I need it and can sustain coaching a 50 minute, intense cardio class…while talking no less!

What a great evening!  I’m still on a high.  I was smiling all the way home.  I was smiling in the shower and doing little happy dances.  It was like I was in love…that feeling when your falling in love and everything is new and fresh and you are smiling all day long just at the thought of the other person…that’s how I feel right now…right at this moment…

The clock reads 12:11am…  I am in Spin in less than six hours…Time for sleep…

Yes, I am in love…with my life…and all the possibilities…

Mark-Before-and-After-090913I have to be honest, when I woke up this morning and stepped on the scale I was very disappointed.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I had gained a pound in a week.  This was the first time in four months that I hadn’t lost any weight in a week’s time.  Just before stepping on the scale, I thought to myself; if I only lose one pound, that would be okay…but the way I feel, I’m pretty sure I’ve lost two or three pounds.  I even entertained the possibility that I could even have hit 189.  I knew it was a stretch, but I had been working sooooo hard, I thought it was in the realm of reason.  So again, I was shocked when the scale indicated that I had gained weight.

I got off the scale and started to contemplate; Had I done anything different?  Had my food changed?  Had my exercise changed?  Nothing pointed to any lax behavior which would cause the gain…and then it hit me…I had to have gained muscle.  I had lost fat and gained muscle.  In the last week my clothes were fitting looser.  I could see the definition in my upper legs emerging from cycling at least 15 miles…everyday.  My waist seems smaller and my pants were looser.  In four months I have gone from a 40″ waist to a 32/34.”  But, even with this realization, I still wasn’t embracing the big picture.  I was still focused on the one pound gain…until I took my 120 day pictures…WOW…what a reality check.  Looking at the AFTER pictures, I could really see how my body has transformed, not only in the last four months, but in the last 30 days.  It’s for this very reason why it’s so important to take before, during, and after pictures as you lose weight, gain muscle and move towards a healthy lifestyle.

People are walking up to me and calling me “skinny.”  In relationship to what I was four months ago, I guess I am skinny.  It’s hard to believe that I could be called skinny at 195 pounds…but then again…it’s all relative.  It’s not as though I’ve been sitting on the couch consuming an unhealthy liquid diet without exercise (hello, can we say Optifast?! Gross).  On the contrary, I have been committed to exercising and building a better body through exercise, daily!  It doesn’t matter how much I weigh, it matters how much my percentage of body fat is actually decreasing…and that is going down steadily.  Again, the pictures don’t lie.  My closes fitting looser don’t lie.  Measurements don’t lie.

Yesterday was a busy day (as so many of them are these days) and the sun was beginning to set when I went for my usual daily bike ride.  I try to go early in the morning, but it doesn’t always work out for me.  My commitment is daily exercise, and I’m open to however that shows up in my life.  It could be a bike ride or a walk with a friend.  It could be a run or a friendly tennis match.  It could be a 30-minute swiss ball workout or a hike with a colleague…However exercise show up is just fine with me as long as I stick to my commitment of choosing it daily.

So far daily exercise has not been a problem.  I look forward each day to working out and exercising my muscles.  It’s become a tad bit addicting.  I’m not so much addicted to the endorphin rush as I am excited about how, at 46 (47 in less than 30 days), my body is performing better than it has been in some time.  I feel like I’m in my twenties…seriously, I do…and I was in good shape in my twenties.

So back to last night and my late bike ride…I had a definite moment of clarity that moved me emotionally.  As I rode back towards home, the sun was setting beneath the rolling hills of Sonoma County.  I was riding fast and the wind was whipping past me.  My legs were a bit tired but my exhilaration of the experience kept me focused on having a great ride.  I loved being on my bike and didn’t want to end quite yet.  I felt free and alive and was so incredibly grateful for the life that I’m experiencing…living…right now.  And then it suddenly hit me…this new attitude…this new way of perceiving exercise…it was a joy…a privilege…something that was a gift to myself and not an impediment of my day and time.  It was a new way of living…and it literally took my breath away…

I had never experienced such a feeling.  I’ve been active all my life (sometimes more than others), but I have never embraced exercise as a gift and privilege…I always perceived it as a necessary nuisance to achieve good health.  Exercise, for me, was the price you paid for the chance of living a quality life.  It never occurred to me that being able to exercise is the evidence of living a quality life.  It has become clear to me that exercise–the harmonious moment of your body–is a gift to yourself…a symphonic-like reminder of the incredible machine that you are.

I pray that I never forget that…and in not doing so…I celebrate every movement my body allows me to create until my last dying breath.