Thursday, January 14, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Slow Cooker Moroccan Lentil Soup

This is one of my favorite recipes. I just cut off the stem top of the serrano and leave the seeds in, because I like my meals wild-not-mild, but if you prefer, you can remove the seeds to make it milder. Whether you remove the seeds or not, use care when handling chiles. Don't touch your face (especially your eyes!) while working with them, and wash your hands carefully with soap and water when you're done. If you have very sensitive skin, you may wish to wear gloves.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Lentil Soup

I prefer this recipe without chicken, but I include it so my family doesn't protest. If you use vegetable broth and omit the chicken, this recipe is a wonderful example of how flavorful vegan eating can be.


4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
4 - 6 stalks celery, sliced
1 cup sliced carrots (about 3 whole carrots, or about 20 baby carrots)
1 small onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 serrano, minced
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
2 teaspoons bottled minced ginger (or 1 teaspoon fresh-ground dried ginger)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon saffron (optional)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (optional)


Combine broth, lentils, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, celery, carrots, onion, serrano, garlic, ginger, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron in slow cooker. Add chicken breasts, if using. Cook on HIGH for 4 - 6 hours, or on LOW for 6 - 8 hours (time may need to be extended if using frozen chicken breasts), or until lentils are soft and chicken shreds easily with two forks (if using).

Before shredding chicken, remove 2 - 3 cups of soup, avoiding chicken breasts. Puree in blender and add back to slow cooker. Shred chicken with two forks and stir well to combine.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Success is a Journey, Not a Destination

Were you wondering where I was yesterday? I enjoyed a really fantastic day Tuesday. We did well with home schooling, I answered posts in my online classes, did the laundry, exercised, drank all my water, worked on my latest choreo and costume, got the kids to their classes on time, and we enjoyed a family dinner together. So, nothing spectacular, but the day went smoothly and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

And then I overate at dinner. I started munching on tortilla chips as soon as we got home from gymnastics, ate two bowls of chili when I really needed only one, and had a few extra tortilla chips when I finished the second bowl. I stopped at one double-fudge cookie, and I woke up starving this morning, but those were small compensations, given that I've been overeating at dinner every night all week long.

So, I went to bed confused, angry, and a little worried. What's wrong with me? kept going through my mind. Why can't I just stop eating when I'm satisfied, like I normally do? Things are going so well for me.

That last thought should've been the trigger, but it took me a good night's sleep to make sense of it. Perfectionism is an aspect of my personality that I struggle with, and I've recently enjoyed some new success in this area. Those successes lead directly to the day I had yesterday.

Ironically, I've found that success can be as challenging as failure. It seems especially true when the success in question is one that's required a great deal of effort. I suspect that for me, this is because it's been a lot of work to get to this point. I'd like to think of it as a destination, not a journey, as in, "Whew, I'm glad that's over, and I'm no longer ever going to be a perfectionist in that way again! Thank goodness!"

Of course, it doesn't actually work that way. The truth runs parallel to our conversations last week about getting versus being thin. Success is a journey, not a destination, just like getting thin is a destination and being thin is a journey. This destination-versus-journey talk may seem like a warmer-fuzzier way of looking at life (and weight management), but in fact, I think it's harder. It's certainly more accurate.

And right now, it doesn't feel easier. I'm realizing that days like yesterday aren't going to just fall out of the sky for me. I'm going to have to work on them. As time goes by, the skills I'm developing now will become second nature, and it'll get easier. But I can't know, right now, whether it'll ever be easy (a destination) or always be kinda-sorta challenging (a journey).

Where are you at with weight management right now? Are you trying your hardest to get to your destination? Are you enjoying the journey? Are you prepared for the possibility that when you arrive at the destination, you may need to continue the journey? Post below and let me know!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Weekly Goals for January 11th -- January 18th

Things are going well enough, but I'm making some shifts in my weight loss efforts this week:

1) Planner, praise and blog daily

2) Cardio minimum 30 minutes 6 days a week (run, Gazelle, DanceDance Revolution, Slimdown, FatBurning)

3) Strength training (dance, Basic Moves, AAHBT, Wii tennis) minimum 5 days a week

4) 3 liters water every day

5) Plan exercise type and time during AM planning

6) Reward myself on Sunday with a new song for my iPod :)!

and so far, so good -- I've started in on my water, and my goals are to finish a liter before noon, a liter after noon, and a liter during work and on my way home. I'm planning to do some dance with the girls today before I leave for work, and get on the Gazelle tonight after work. I'm going to get a song from Amr Diab's or Ragheb Alama's new albums on Sunday if I enjoy success this week. I'll keep you posted!

What are your plans for weight management this week? Post below and let us know!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Getting vs. Being Thin

On Wednesday we talked about how you perceive yourself -- that is, whether you see yourself as someone who needs to lose weight, or someone who maintains a healthy weight. Today I'd like to look at this same topic from a different angle, and offer some suggestions for change.

Many -- maybe most -- people don't give much thought to their weight until they need to lose weight. From a weight management perspective, this means most people live their lives thinking about getting thin, instead of being thin. That's too bad, because the truth is that we're in relationship with our bodies from the time we're born until the day we die.

There are many parallels between weight and money mangement, and I think this is another one. Many (again, maybe most) people who suddenly come into money usually end up back where they started financially -- or even worse off. It's ironic to me that this is usually the case with weight management, too.

Again, perhaps that's because the focus is on getting, rather than being. If your only focus is winning the lottery, and you never think about how you'll manage the challenges of wealth (let alone sudden wealth), if you never consider how you'll maintain your wealth, chances are you'll end up losing that wealth in the long run.

Likewise, if your only focus is to lose weight, you're probably not thinking about how you'll maintain your weight, cope with the positive and negative reactions you'll get from others, and so on. And odds are, you'll end up not just regaining the weight, but gaining an extra five or ten (or more) pounds. In essence, you end up worse off than you were before you won the weight loss lottery, so to speak.

So, what can you do instead? Here are a few thoughts:

1) Accept thyself. Try being happy with your body, even if it's just one aspect of your body. After all, it's still getting you around Earth in some way.

2) Make meaningful changes. Instead of jumping on the latest weight loss bandwagon, ask yourself what you can honestly change that will positively affect your weight.

3) Be patient. Lasting weight management is about entering into a long-term, honest relationship with your body. That goes entirely counter to the typical diet mentality of "No pain, no gain," but it's still the best way to real weight management.

4) Change your perspective. Stop thinking of you and your body as enemies at odds with one another. Consider thinking of your body as an ally, a friend, even a lover. How can you show your body cameraderie and caring?

5) Think things through. Changing your behaviors is best done by changing your thoughts. Start paying attention to your self-talk, and change up the things you say to yourself about your body if you need to. Try changing "I want or need to lose weight," to "I want or need to be thin," and see how your behaviors change.

We'll tackle this topic further next week, and consider how parenting styles (both your own and those of the people who raised you) affect weight management. Until then, I'd love to hear what you're thinking right now about getting vs. being thin. Leave me a comment and let me know!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Slow Cooker Indian Chicken

I hope you haven't put away your slow cooker, as I'll be posting more slow cooker recipes throughout the month of January. This particular recipe requires a few exotic ingredients. If you don't mind slogging through the snow, take a trip to your local ethnic market to find dried ginger root and green cardamom pods. You can use a mortar and pestle, or the back of a tablespoon, to crush the coriander seeds.

Slow Cooker Indian Chicken


1 (10 3/4-ounce) can lowered-sodium, reduced fat cream of chicken soup
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1 tablespoon bottled minced ginger (or 1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger root)
1" cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
3 green cardamom pods
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspooon ground turmeric
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts


Combine soup, tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom pods, coriander, red pepper flakes, and turmeric in slow cooker. Add chicken. Cook on HIGH for 4 - 6 hours, or on LOW for 6 - 8 hours. Remove cinnamon stick, cloves, and cardamom pods. Shred chicken with two forks. Serve with potatoes or rice.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Have You Resolved to Lose Weight? Don't Do It!

Are you working on your New Year's resolutions? One of the most common resolutions is, of course, to lose weight. We all know that most of us make and break this resolution every year. Sometimes clients tell me they make and break this resolution several times every year!

Why is this resolution so hard to keep? True, weight management isn't easy. But I suspect it has something to do with the wording.

If you've taken my online weight loss class, you know that successful long-term exercise is easier if you think of yourself as a person who exercises. How do you think of yourself with regard to your weight? Are you a person who weighs more than they should? Are you a person who loses weight? Or are you a person who maintains a healthy weight?

There's a significant difference between these three perspectives. If you see yourself as someone who loses weight, you're perpetuating the cycle of lose weight-gain weight-lose weight before you even get started! If you see yourself as someone who maintains a healthy weight, your weight may fluctuate, but you'll be planning ahead to follow through on the behaviors that help you lose weight -- and keep it off.

So, let me ask the questions again. How do you think of yourself with regard to your weight? Are you a person who weighs more than they should? Are you a person who loses weight? Or are you a person who maintains a healthy weight? Post your perspective and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What's New? Tuesday

That's right, it's Tuesday -- the day of the week when I had the mic over to you. Got a weight management or cooking question or concern? Ask away! Have you enjoyed a success? Brag a little! Want some support or encouragement? That's what we're here for, so post and let us know!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Weekly Goals for January 4th -- January 10th

I haven't been consistent about logging in here during my blogging break, but I've done well with my goals nonetheless. Yes!! I don't have anything new with my goals *this* week...I've got some new stuff on the radar in upcoming weeks, though. For now:

1) Continue with planner/praise

2) Continue with 2 - 3 liters of water daily

3) Up breathing exercises to 5 times daily

4) Continue with 1/2 hour of dance and 1/2 hour of cardio daily (or 1 hour cardio no more than 5 times a week, and at least 15 minutes of dance daily)

5) Post daily on progress

How's it going for you? Do you have goals for the week? If you'd like a little more structure and accountability, I encourage you to post your goals and follow up daily as well. Jump in -- the water's fine :)!