In Gratitude

Finally caught up on my sleep the last couple of nights. I woke up today feeling good. My first thoughts were of how lucky I am. Sure, work is immensely stressful, and no real money is coming in. Sure our home is in need of a lot of updating and repair. BUT – I have my health and my mobility. I have a job with a lot of earning potential. I own my home, and it is 14 blocks from the Pacific Ocean. AND I have a wonderful, supportive husband who has a heart of gold and who cooks dinner every night, and 2 adorable, loving kitty cats. I have a loving and supportive extended family, and I have THE BEST friends. I could not get through the stresses of the pandemic without all of these people in my life. I am extremely grateful.

Recently, finally, my local pool reopened. We are required to reserve our lanes 3 days in advance, and often the portal gets jammed, and we can’t get in on the days and times we want. Also, the pool is closed Sundays and Mondays, and the hours are much shorter. I know. First world problems. I wasn’t able to swim yesterday, but learned of a Masters Swim Class starting today, so I decided to join. That is the reason for the early meal prep and blog. The bonus is, my swim crew will be there too. Excited for us all to be together for the hour, swimming together like the old (pre-pandemic) days.

This is what the pool looks like when we arrive for our lane reservation. A far cry from what it normally looks like on a summer afternoon. At least there are still a few children there taking lessons.

Because of my busy day today, I planned and shopped for my meal prep yesterday. I chose to make an easy, no cook garbanzo bean Greek salad. I will pair that with a pesto turkey sandwich this week. If I get tired of the turkey (which I’m sure I will… ) I also have tuna, and smoked salmon in the refrigerator, shrimp burgers, and veggie burgers in the freezer, so I’m prepared to change it up. The important message here is to have delicious low calorie, low fat, low point choices on hand so we don’t get bored or in a rut.

Easy no cook garbanzo bean Greek Salad for lunch this week. The dressing is my old stand by, the WW red wine vinaigrette: 1/3 c. olive oil/ 1/3 c. red wine vinegar/ 1/3 c. water. I added a diced shallot, dried oregano, s&p to season. To the salad, I’ll add arugula and fresh San Marzano tomatoes as I dole out my portions during the week.
Using this 70 calorie/ 2 point sliced multi grain bread, and kale, cashew, basil pesto on my turkey sandwich this week.

Time to go! Gotta eat my yogurt/ berry bowl, and get ready to meet the girls at the pool. Wishing you all a wonderful week. Take care of yourselves. Take a moment to reflect on all that is good in your lives.

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2020 – Taking Control to Make it Great

Setting Intentions for the Year to Come

What a whirlwind of a year it’s been. Frankly, overall, it was not a good year for me, but I have come away feeling stronger for it, and very grateful. Most of all, I am grateful for my good health, and the good health of my husband, family, and friends. We are all so blessed. One thing I know for sure is that no matter how much money you have, good health is everything. Without it we have nothing.

My intention for this year with regard to my health, wellness, and fitness is to continue on my path of becoming physically stronger. This past month I met with a trainer at my local 24 Hour Fitness, where I have a free membership thanks to Medicare and Silver Sneakers. If you are not aware of the benefits you are entitled to, check it out here: https://tools.silversneakers.com/. The meeting with the trainer is a free perk for joining the gym, whether you are with Silver Sneakers or not. Ask about it at your gym. The trainer showed me some new stretches and strength building machines that are right for me. I am excited to expand my fitness repertoire with at least 1 day a week in the gym. Of course I will continue to lap swim, which is my passion, and water jog, which has turned out to be the best thing to manage my lower back pain. I also intend to stay on track with my weight maintenance, and that means mindful meal planning and prepping.

Over the past few weeks, I have been off of my routine with holiday work hours, and general holiday shenanigans, so meal prep has been off the table, as it still is this coming week. But meal planning is not. It’s all in the grocery shopping. I’ve made sure that I have the following on hand:

Progresso Light Soups (140 – 180 calories for the whole can)

Ole Whole Wheat Tortillas (50 calories each)

Fresh veggies and fruits

Oatmeal

Unsweetened almond milk

Non fat plain Greek yogurt, as well as low fat cultured cottage cheese

Trader Joe’s Spinach Kale Yogurt Dip

Also, lean proteins for meals and snacks like eggs, turkey breast, smoked salmon, light string cheese, and hummus.

Decadent 1 point breakfast: Ole Whole Wheat Tortilla topped with non fat refried beans, and scrambled eggs with salsa
Roasted Delicata Squash was a great little treat to have around the house. It tastes like candy. Just follow these simple prep directions – Place seeded squash halves cut side down on a cutting board. Slice into 3/8-inch slices. Transfer slices to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil; add salt and pepper, or any seasoning you like. Toss to coat squash with oil. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Arrange squash pieces in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Place in preheated oven until bottom of slices is browned and squash is tender, 12 to 18 minutes. Enjoy with the skin and all!
2 point lunch – Ole Whole Wheat Tortilla topped with Trader Joe’s Spinach & Kale Yogurt Dip, Everything but the Bagel Smoked Salmon, and a sliced hard boiled egg seasoned with Everything but the Bagel Seasoning. Add a little sliced tomato and/ or cucumber for more fresh veggie goodness.
Lastly, I want to show off my contribution to our family Hanukkah celebration. My beloved Sister in Law, Cynthia invites family and friends every year to a fabulous all homemade dinner for 40 + people. Bringing the fruit for dessert is the least I can do to help. The pan on top contains the best of winter fruits: black grapes, fuyu persimmons, opal and envy apples, cara cara and blood oranges, and Asian pears. The bowl contains the tropical side of fruits in season: kiwi, pineapple, papaya, and mango.

My wish for you all is for a HAPPY, HEALTHY, SWEET, AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!

And remember – Focus on results, and you’ll never see change. Focus on change, and you will see results.

Thank you for joining the conversation. Your thoughts, critiques, and meal prep ideas are always welcome. I look forward to hearing from you.

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See you in 2020!

Full Throttle – Meal Prep

It is very exciting for me to be back to work full time, and back to #mealprepsunday. Here is what I have going this week.

Gotta have my hot tea first thing in the morning
Early Breakfast at home: veggie egg white muffins with a side of turkey bacon

My day starts early. I am usually on the computer at home by 6 – 6:30, since many of my customers are on the east coast. Besides my hot mock chai latte, I like starting my day with veggie or fruit with protein. Last week with was nectarine crumble over plain non fat Greek yogurt. This week I went savory with veggie egg white muffins and turkey bacon. I drained and patted dry frozen spinach and roasted red peppers from the jar, and tossed them with pre-diced red onions, salt & pepper. I spooned that mixture into the muffin tin (2 for each day for a total of 10 muffins), and poured in the egg whites from the carton. Could not be easier. They baked in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. I let them cool to the touch, then carefully lifted them out of the pan with a butter knife and small rubber spatula.

Since I’m eating breakfast so early, I find myself getting hungry by 10 am. Last week I brought a hard boiled egg seasoned with “Everything but the Bagel” and fresh ground pepper, and a small banana. This week, I prepared small containers of cultured cottage cheese mixed with flaxseed meal and chia seeds. Because it’s a snack, not a meal, I just used 1/3 C cottage cheese to 1 tablespoon each of flax and chia seeds. Not gonna lie, the finished product is not pretty, so I didn’t photograph it. I did taste it though, and I like the nutty flavor that came out of it. Plus I get that punch of protein and the nutrients of the seeds. I am pairing that with a small organic banana.

Mid morning snack: Good Culture low fat cottage cheese with flax & chia seeds mixed in paired with a small organic banana
https://www.goodculture.com/#our-story-1

It’s still super hot outside, and oh so humid. I am so spoiled having grown up in So Cal where the weather is usually mild and dry. So it’s salad again. This week I’m going with Mexican flavors. I have a 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast in the slow cooker with salsa, and seasoned with fresh ground black pepper, cumin, and dry oregano. That will be shredded, and paired with a salad of mixed baby greens, baby spinach, and broccoli slaw and pinto beans. The dressing is my own concoction of Bolt House Farms Ranch (my favorite) mixed with the same salsa the chicken is cooking in.

Mexican Chicken Salad for Lunch: shredded slow cooked chicken breast , mixed greens including broccoli slaw, and pinto beans dressed with salsa ranch. Notice in the background of the photo is my box of WW corn chips. Those will be the perfect accompaniment to this salad.
https://www.salsas.com/herdez/
https://www.bolthouse.com

I also have an afternoon snack planned, so I’m ready for my late afternoon water jog at the pool.

Simple afternoon snack: Protein and fruit. In this case light string cheese
and an organic Gala apple

I want to tell you about last night’s dinner. We always splurge just a little on Saturday nights, since I weigh in on Saturday mornings. We happen to love carnitas, and it had been a while since we had indulged. I had this interesting recipe on my “What’s for Dinner” Pinterest board: https://www.recipetineats.com/pork-carnitas-mexican-slow-cooker-pulled-pork/. I want to mention that I only started with about 2.5 lbs of pork shoulder, so I eyeballed the seasonings instead of measuring according to the recipe, including the fresh orange juice. I used just 1 orange instead of 2. It turned out perfectly.

Carnitas tacos with traditional toppings of fresh onions, cilantro, avocado, and salsa

I came across an article this week that I want to share with you. As you know, my workouts of choice are lap swimming and water jogging. I know that many of you have hesitations about the pool such as getting into a swimsuit in public, protecting your hair (these were big issues for me when I started), fear of putting your head in the water, making the time for swimming, to name a few. First I want to address the swimsuit issue – no one cares. No one will look at you at the neighborhood municipal pool or the pool at the gym. You are all there for the same reason. Frankly, the swimming community is very supportive and welcoming. As far as protecting your hair goes, there are good conditioners on the market you can apply before putting on your swim cap. By the way, if your hair has color on it, I recommend wetting it down with regular water before applying the conditioner for an extra layer of protection. Here is the conditioner that I use (from Amazon):

https://www.amazon.com/AquaGuard-Pre-Swim-Hair-Defense-Bottle/dp/B01BMYYHAG/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?hvadid=3527178819&hvbmt=bp&hvdev=c&hvqmt=p&keywords=aqua+guard&qid=1567985364&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyVkhXU1ZDMVFXQlBIJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwODM2NzIyMVMyTTRXWUxMT0RVMiZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNTU1MzczNVRRMDdJQ1RPUUVRJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

And here is the article. I hope it inspires you:

https://www.livestrong.com/article/13719762-swimming-for-exercise/

Being the amateur blogger that I am, I read a lot of blogs speaking to healthy lifestyle, weight loss, weight maintenance, and fitness. This one came into my inbox today. I have degeneration in my lower back, and actually do many of these stretches every morning, so wanted to share. I hope this inspires you as well:

https://mailchi.mp/skinnyms/tired-of-living-with-back-pain-try-these-helpful-yoga-moves?e=262b867f92

Thank you for stopping by. Have a great week, my friends.

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A Moment of Clarity

Just want to share this awesome moment in time that happened yesterday. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go for a rare mid week swim. As happy as I was to be at the pool, my head was cluttered with “to dos” and the general weight of my current situation. As I was getting ready to get in, I noticed the gentleman in the water that I had seen from time to time since I’ve been swimming, over the last 12 years or so. This man had had a stroke. When I first saw him all those years ago, he could barely move. He needed help getting in and out of the water, and was in a wheel chair. He was definitely using the pool as physical therapy at that time. Over the years, I have seen him slowly improve to the point where he now walks with a cane. He also now swims just like any of us. So I sat down to swim in the lane beside him yesterday. He looked up at me with the biggest smile you have ever seen and said, “Hello beautiful person”! All of my cares dropped away at that moment and I was filled with pure joy. Oh what a feeling! And how grateful I felt to be healthy and free to live my life, financial and job problems aside. This is the true meaning of life, I thought, as I went on to swim my laps.

Today, starting a new day, I am carrying that joy with me, feeling grateful for everyone and everything. I am healthy, I am happy, I am loved, and I feel love. What else is there?

The beautiful Santa Monica Swim Center
My “Magic Place”

Happy 4th of July, y’all!