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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Sweatin’ it

 With all we 25H/Ms have to take care of, you very well know what often falls to the bottom of the priority list: exercise. At the risk of urging some of you to cram yet one more thing into your schedule, I’m going to preach about working out.

I’m sure you know whether or not you should be exercising and I’m sure if you need to increase your fitness level, you already know it. So, let’s just side-step that whole hairy argument, shall we?

Debates rage on as to whether you need to reduce or eliminate carbs, reduce or eliminate fat, reduce or eliminate sugar and exactly what role calories play in the big picture. So let me just stick with what I know from personal experience. When I have had too many calories coming in and not enough calories going out, I have tended to get a bit fluffier. If I took on an exercise program, the situation was instantly improved.  If I also gave focused attention to the caloric value of every single, solitary thing that crossed my lips (yes, the latte counts and probably more than you ever imagined!), all excess fluff just melted away.

Sidebar: A year or so ago, I also learned that I am Lactose Intolerant. Cutting out dairy also made it amazingly easy to keep a handle on my jeans-fitting-potential. This is surely not an issue for everyone, but it’s worth exploring foods if you’re having a lot of digestive problems.

As far as exercise is concerned, I believe that most women who are past age 23 who find it hard to make their weight stay put are ignoring the most body-altering, relatively easy exercise they could be doing: weight lifting.  I’m not sure whether they’ve seen too many pictures of boob-less she-males tied up in triangle bikinis with a maze of strings, or if they just mentally dismiss weight-lifting as a male activity, but weight lifting is absolute salvation for drastically improving your body shape with a fairly small commitment of time and money.

One reason why weight training is so effective for the time invested is that increasing muscle raises your resting metabolism. This means that even when you are sleeping, your body is burning more calories than it is if you are very soft.

Muscles are what gives a beautiful shape to the body. Just being thin alone does not do this. There are people who look “skinny-fat.” They are thin, but flabby.

Also, can’t all busy mothers use more strength?  Don’t we have to haul the biggest pumpkins (one for each kid) onto the hay wagon? Don’t we have to carry baby seats and gargantuan diaper bags all over God’s green earth? How about Christmas shopping? Stacking firewood? Walking the German Shepherd?

I first started working out with weights when I was 18 years old and, though I have taken breaks over the years to have babies or to eat too many ice cream sundaes (before the dairy free thing, which I promise you I do miss), I have never stopped looking to weight training as the perfect way to get or stay in shape.  Currently, in my time-pressed state, I am doing 2 or 3 sessions per week that last about 45 minutes, at home in my bedroom, while watching “19 Kids and Counting” or “Undercover Boss” or some other brain candy. This is not as much as I think is optimal, but it is way better than doing nothing.

I am not a member of a gym and I don’t have a ton of equipment. I am currently using only dumbbells, ranging from 3-12lbs each. My workout is shaped mainly from the book Strength Training for Women by Joan Pagano, along with a few other exercises I’ve come to like over the years. When I was actively trying to lose weight, I used the free calorie-tracking program at SparkPeople.

If you have never lifted weights before and want to start, keep the weight very, very light at first. Embarrassingly light. (There’s another perk to working out at your own house.) When I first started lifting, I benched nothing but the barbell – and it was hard.  My strength was also quite unbalanced; my left side could lift practically nothing at all.  There just isn’t any reason to try to blast muscles that have not experienced that work before. It will hurt and discourage you, making you further from your goals than if you had not started at all.  Starting dumbbell weights may be as light as 1.5 lbs. You may start with only one set of each exercise. No matter how light and easy you start, doing something is better than doing nothing.

Being in the shape you want to be is incredibly freeing. If you are not currently exercising, but have been considering it, give a long look at female strength training. If you only have modest fitness goals, start soon. If you have a long way to go, start soon. The only way to arrive anywhere is to begin and then keep moving forward.


Why There is Spaghetti Sauce in my Laundry Room

   Ordinarily, I make most meals from scratch. Well, not Cheerios or Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, but – you know what I mean.  Most dinners. This works out beautifully until the occasional day comes my way when I have not planned ahead, have no earthly clue what I’m making for dinner and don’t have time to thaw anything. Enter spaghetti. I try not to abuse the ease of throwing together a spaghetti dinner, but you’ve got to admit, it’s hard to beat  on a mad-scramble night.

So, Saturday, it was just going to be myself and my daughter for dinner; Blue Collar Guy and the boys were off riding motorcycles and being manly men. Thus, it was Spaghetti Night. So, with that thought firmly in mind, I dawdled around the entire afternoon washing sheets, figuring out how to do things on this blog and swinging by Michaels for a photo project I’m planning (which was a dud anyway, since they didn’t have the necessary item).  Sometime as the sun was setting, I decided to put on my water for my no-effort meal. Once the water was rolling in the pot, I looked for the spaghetti sauce I keep on hand for just such an occasion. But! None in here. None in there. None in any cabinet, pantry or fridge.

Prior planning foiled by some child who likes to make pasta or peirogies for him/herself. Said child decimated my store of jarred sauce! Spaghetti did not happen. I cannot believe I’m about to admit this on the web, but we had Ramen noodles instead. Healthy, I know.

Never one to suffer the same error twice, I devised a plan when I went shopping today. It’s the same theory that allows me to enjoy Milano cookies or Lindt Chocolate Truffles for more than twenty seconds after I come home from the store. I’m hiding the spare spaghetti sauce.  That should do the trick. So, I’ve hidden the jars of tomatoey goodness in the laundry room.  God knows, nobody else goes in that room.

There is also the Additional Effort method that I feel compelled to post, if only to justify this blog entry so that it is actually useful to other 25H/M (25-Hour-A-Day-Moms).  You can, of course, make your own sauce and freeze it.  It’s pretty easy and quite delicious.

Additional Effort Spaghetti Sauce

  1. 28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes
  2. 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  3. half an onion
  4. olive oil
  5. butter
  6. T sugar
  7. t salt, pepper
  8. t dried basil, oregano
  9. ground beef or sausage if desired
  10. T  tomato paste, if you’re willing and Blue Collar Guy begs
If you’re adding in meat, start by browning it in the olive oil (about 2 T, but don’t overthink it).  I take it out and save it for the end once it’s browned. Dice the onion and “sweat” it over medium-low heat. You want it carmelized, not burned. Smash or mince the garlic and toss that in, too. Put the butter in and let it melt; it adds flavor.
Turn down the heat. If you’re caving to Blue Collar Guy’s requests, stir tomato paste in. If you don’t care that much, just pour in the crushed tomatoes.  Season it and let it simmer for hours and hours. If you can’t babysit sauce for hours and hours, you can put it in the crockpot at this point and get on with your life.  You can add back the meat when the sauce has thickened and gotten all delicious and full-bodied.
I should also admit that I’ve made this a sauce a hundred times without letting it cook for hours and hours. It’s still reasonably good, but it’s runnier and tastes a bit more like plain ol’ tomatoes.
When I’m really on the ball, I make this sauce with a big Costco can of crushed tomatoes. You cannot beat that for a bargain; they cost something like $2.47. Then you can freeze servings for use later. But if all that just makes your brain hurt, you can buy jarred sauce. Just make sure you hide a couple jars for Spaghetti Night.
– Danielle

In the beginning…

I know it sounds like a cliche, but it’s true. I’m busy. I’m raising three kids. I homeschool two of them. I help my husband run his two businesses. I go to college. My days are as non-stop as any other mom with a lot on the docket.  I noticed that women hungrily beg ideas from other non-stop moms. How do you keep your house clean? How do you feed your family? What do you use to teach your kids writing? What do you do for “me” time? So, that is the idea behind this blog. I’ll share what works for me and probably beg ideas from cyberspace the other percentage of time.

I’m bound to spout lots of opinions about the good, bad and better way to do everything in my experience, but I do have a Cardinal Rule: If you love it the way you do it, disregard me completely. If I preach about getting up early and there ain’t no way in H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks that you’re raising an eyelid before 10:30am, well, then, just do what you want. I’m just spouting about what works for me.  I have no illusions that the way I do things is the way all busy mothers should.  Carry on.

I intend to put up a post once a week. But we’ll see. After all, I’m busy.

See you when I have time.