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The Abs Diet for Women…a book review

In Lifestyle on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at 11:03 pm

I’m currently reading The Abs Diet for Women by David Zinczenko (Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health Magazine, as well as the author of several other books including “Eat This, Not That”). One of the main focuses of the book is the health risks associated with belly fat and how to lose it if you’ve got it. But for me, the book has really solidified this fact in my mind: Getting fit is 80% what you eat (or DON’T eat), and 20% how much you exercise. 80/20, I promise you. The more books I read, the more facts I have to support that claim. From a personal standpoint, I don’t exercise any more than I did the last 10 times I belonged to a gym, but this time the pounds are melting off. The difference? The way I eat. I could work out all day long and not lose weight if I am still choosing to fill my plate (and mouth) with garbage!

The book centers around the idea that our bodies are machines and food=fuel. Your body will function at optimal levels only if it gets good fuel! That means lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lowfat dairy. Zinczenko shares the 12 “Powerfoods” as well as dozens of recipes that include them. While the book title does include the word “diet”, Zinczenko himself expresses his dislike for the word and its connotations. Rather, the Abs Diet Power plan is an eating plan, a way of life that can be sustained because it is realistic. For that other 20%, the book also offers suggested workouts that target your core (translated: abs and back muscles) and other muscles.

This book has changed the way I view both food and exercise. I’ve revamped my workouts and started eating 6 small meals a day, rather than 3 big ones. I can already feel a change in my energy levels and focus. I’m never stuffed or starving. And, in terms of exercise, my workouts are shorter and more intentional, and I’m still seeing amazing results.

Get this book. If you’re like me, reading it will result in many ‘aha’ moments that will lead to better health for you and your family!

Have you read any health and fitness books that have changed your life?



The Code of Conduct

In Lifestyle on Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Have you ever held a door open for a stranger in a public place who has said, “Chivalry is not dead!”  Or have you ever read about the chivalrous knights of the Middle Ages?  Have you ever wondered what makes a knight chivalrous, or what exactly the word even means?


Chivalry is derived from the French word cheval.  In the Middle Ages, chivalry was “the code of conduct for the nobility and the knights.”  This code stresses the good qualities of a person:  strength, courage, loyalty, courtesy, spirited bold or a well-mannered person. 


Not long ago chivalry was a concept largely ignored.  Men thought that a quality like courtesy simply wasn’t “manly” enough.  Though, in the 21st century, some people have realized that the world needs a code of conduct.  And people are realizing that anyone-men and women, teachers and coaches, students and soldiers, doctors and athletes-any one of us can be a knight in shining armor.  And every one of us should be.


So in today’s world, you can see that chivalry is, in fact, not dead.  Some people are still courteous, spirited and bold.  Many people are still very well mannered.  So next time you’re in public, hold a door open for someone, use the words please and thank you.  And more than that, help bring chivalry back into our modern, everyday life. 


Do you think chivalry is dead?




Sow Your Oats

In Lifestyle, Recipes on Wednesday, February 4, 2009 at 11:02 pm



Do you eat breakfast?  Shame on you if you don’t!  Don’t get me started on the benefits of starting your day off right!  If there were a pill that was super cheap, fought cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and cholesterol you’d probably jump right on it right?  Well, you don’t have to take a pill, you just have to eat oatmeal – and you could do this everyday for months and not even have to eat the same flavor!


Dad and Mom Meadows eat oatmeal E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y!  I love to give them a hard time about it (especially because they only eat it two different ways) but I’ve seen the benefits in their health when they started this daily regime.  Plus, I can’t say anything because I eat oatmeal for breakfast at least half the time.  Oatmeal can be pretty bland though and I get really bored if I don’t mix up the flavors.  Well, over the years I have tried many different ways to make this yummy-health-in-a-bowl and I thought I would share some of the ideas.


For your base, mix:

 ½ cup dried old-fashioned oats (not instant – not as healthy!  And no packaged pre-mixed oatmeal!)

1-cup milk (variations: soy milk, chocolate soy milk, water + 1/3 c. dry milk)


Flavor Variations:


mix ½ cup fruit of choice (frozen or fresh chopped apples, peaches, pears, bananas, pineapple, mango, applesauce, berries, canned pumpkin, whatever sounds good!)



1 t. appropriate spice (cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, ginger, all spice, almond or vanilla extract)



1 teaspoon,  more or less of Splenda or favorite sweetener (sometimes the fruit is sweet enough!)


Other Variations:

Add 1 T. peanut butter, small handful of favorite nuts; use sugar-free maple syrup or sugar-free coffee syrup in place of both seasoning and sweetener (the variations here are countless!)  For super healthy additions add 1 T. ground flax seed (like Dad and Mom) or 2 T. wheat germ.


Microwave for 5 minutes on half power (stirring once or twice to keep from spilling over).


You can even make baked oatmeal

Try any type of fruit in place of the pineapple


And if you love those easy packets (that are filled with tons of chemicals) you can make your own here


So make sure and get you some power food and start your day off right!



Do you eat breakfast?   What do you have?







My Kids are Dumbbells

In Lifestyle, Moms on Friday, January 9, 2009 at 7:49 am

I don’t ever want to hear anybody say they don’t have time to exercise.  If you are thinking that about your life, then you just haven’t gotten creative enough about figuring out how to fit that physical training in.  So maybe you’re a busy mom or dad who just can’t justify leaving their kids anymore than you already do to get to the gym.  Well, why not make kid time PT time too!


I’ve threatened to write a book called “Baby Dumbbell”.  I don’t want to go through the hassle of getting some doctor to help me make sure my methods are “safe”, so I’ll just get my message out on the web where I don’t have to worry about somebody suing me. . . wait you won’t right?   So, I’m warning you  – use at your own risk!  Grab those dummies (oops, I mean kids)  and let’s get in shape!


Set a timer on your watch and start jumping!  Trampoline, jumping jacks, in place – whatever!  You keep your heart rate up for 20 minutes, you are burning some fat off!  Don’t like to jump?  Do a routine of marching, running up and down stairs, walking, jogging, kicks, arm circles, you can even lunge around the yard.  The kids will love it!  Play follow the leader and you can take turns leading – you follow a rambunctious 5 year old around and you’ve had a workout that wouldn’t even rival any military PT! blog-032


Yucky weather outside?  Do it inside.  Tables are great for lapping around, crawling is even better inside.  Do bear crawls (on hands and feet), military crawls (on forearms and feet), jump like frogs, hop like bunnies, walk around the room like monsters (stay in a deep squat while walking around and roaring).  Put on some music and dance.  Let them imagine and make up things.


Not enough of a challenge?  Play games.  Tag, duck-duck-goose, freeze games, red-light-green-light, hop scotch, red rover, ball games, races, etc.  Set that timer and just keep moving! 


Ok, so for part of my book (using them as dumbbells).  Hold them and do chest presses, do superman (with them on your feet) and bend and straighten your legs, have them sit on your back while you do push ups.  Hold them in your lap while you do dips.  They can sit on you as you do sit-ups.  Give them a kiss or a five each time you come up! 




Let them sit on you while you hold a wall squat (back against the wall, legs bent at a 90 degree angle).  While standing lift them up and down.  Hold them and twist at the waist back and forth.  Just grab them and start doing something – be creative!  You’ll be surprised at what you come up with and the kind of workout you can have.


Maybe one of your resolutions this year is getting in shape.  Maybe it’s to spend more time with your kids too.  Well, you have no excuses now!  Grab them and get moving!  Follow some of these tips and make up some of your own and you are getting that body in shape and for all your little ones know you have just become a cool parent that likes to play with them! 


What activities do you like to do to keep you and your kids in shape?







Chocolate and Chicken….Yum!

In Lifestyle, Recipes on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 11:29 pm

As promised, two recipes from the Hungry Girl Cookbook.

Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

2 cups moist-style chocolate cake mix (half of an 18.25-oz. box)

Two 25-calorie packets diet hot cocoa mix

1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)

2 tbsp. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

1 tsp. Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)

1/8 tsp. salt

Place chocolate chips and the contents of both cocoa packets in a tall glass. Add 12 ounces of boiling water, and stir until chips and cocoa mix have dissolved. Place glass in the freezer to chill for 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once cocoa has chilled, give it a stir, and mix with all other ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whip batter with a whisk or fork for 2 minutes. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray, or line it with baking cups. Evenly spoon batter (which will be thin, but don’t worry, your cupcakes will puff up!) into the pan. Place pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Cupcakes will look shiny when done. MAKES 12 SERVINGS 

Serving Size: 1 cupcake

Calories: 108

Fat: 2.5g

Carbs: 19g

Fiber: 1g

POINTS® value 2*


Kickin’ Chicken Pot Pie 

8 oz. raw boneless skinless chicken breast; cut into bite-sized pieces

3 cups  Mixed Vegetables

1 can (10.75 oz.) Campbell’s Condensed Soup, 98% Fat Free Cream of Celery

3 servings Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls (unprepared)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute chicken pieces for several minutes in a pan spritzed with nonstick cooking spray, until chicken is light brown/cooked but still tender; set aside. Heat frozen veggies in microwave according to package. Mix chicken, vegetables and soup together and put in a 9″ round baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place dish in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly (stir about halfway through). While dish is cooking, unroll 3 crescent rolls. Combine pieces together with hands to make one large ball of dough. With a rolling pin, roll dough out into a circle to cover top of dish. Add dough to the top of the dish and cook for an additional 15 – 20 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serves 4.

Serving Size: 1/4th pie (approx. 7 oz.)

Calories: 210

Fat: 6g 

Carbs: 24g

Fiber: 2.5g

 *4 Points



Goal Tending

In Lifestyle, Uncategorized on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Here are a couple of ways we try to stay on the healthy eating, weight loss goal.


Hungry Girl Cookbooktn

I recently got the new Hungry Girl cookbook and have tried a few of the recipes.

The thing I like about her cookbook is that it’s “normal food” (those of you who have been on diets before know what I’m talking about.) There is even a chapter called”Guy Food Rocks”. 

Come back tomorrow and I’ll share a couple of recipes from it! 







 You can sign up for Hungry Girl’s daily newsletter for tips and recipes: Hungry Girl newsletter 

One of our favorite recipe sites is at Health   This is their Boot Camp Buddies forum for Weight Watchers.  (Not the easiest forum to use, but loads of recipes).  Scroll down to the recipe section and you’ll find all sorts of recipe categories.  Click on any of the links.  Now scroll all the way to the bottom of the new page.  In the “Display Options” box, click on the drop down menu “from the” and choose “beginning” and then “show thread”.  You should now have many pages of recipes to choose from! Remember to do this each time you open a new page. It’s worth the effort…I promise!

Also, find Abbi and Ali over at Abbi’s new blog The Bod Squad.  Those girls will help you stay focused on your health and losing those unwanted pounds.

And expect plenty of ideas and workout suggestions to come from our resident fitness expert, Erin, or as we lovingly refer to her,  “Sgt. Simms”.





What are your healthy eating or weight loss helps?

One Bag at a Time

In Lifestyle on Friday, October 31, 2008 at 8:04 am

Over the past several years, I have personally become more and more conscious about doing my part to “save the Earth.” One way I do so is to make a conscious effort to cut down on shopping bag waste.


Shortly before I left for college, my mom made me several large canvas bags that I could use to transport groceries. I used them diligently, and it was amazing how much this one little change cut down on waste (and clutter in my pantry)!


Recently, I was told about a company called One Bag at a Time that sells 100% biodegradable mesh bags for incredibly low prices. The statistics on the site are staggering. I’ve been talking with some friends of mine about screenprinting cool designs on these bags to make “going green” hipper than it already is.


As a culture, we need to stop being so selfish about what we want now and think instead about what we are leaving behind for future generations. I encourage you to check out the site and see how you can do your part to cut down on consumer waste.









Note from Robin:  I’m not very good at this yet, but I do have a couple.  I keep them in the back of my car so I can remember to take them into the store 🙂  I rather enjoy having less paper and plastic bags to deal with!


Check out this article on making your own bags. “35 Reusable Grocery Bags You Can Make” (Erin has already made a few).


One suggestion was to take old tank tops, sew across the bottom.  Voila!  Instant re-usable bags!

Weight Watchin’

In Lifestyle on Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 10:31 am

I have done Weight Watchers on and off for around five years. It’s a great program because:


·         You don’t really feel you’re on a “diet”

·         You’re not restricted on what you can and can’t eat

·         It’s really a lifestyle eating change

·         It mostly focuses on portion control

·         It works!

My husband and I have been eating this way together for the last two years. We are amazed at how much we used to eat and how little we actually need to feel full now.

If you’ve been thinking about starting a weight loss program this is one to consider.


Here is a good site that is free to help get you started:  Health Discovery 








4 yrs later
Ali – 33 lbs lighter
Brad 62 lbs lighter 





 Have you ever struggled with being over weight?

 Have you found a weight loss program that works for you?




The Secret of Workout Buddies (Part 2 of 2)

In Lifestyle on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 9:10 am

After busting our humps (and lumps!) for another week, Erin and I are starting to feed off each other’s energy and enthusiasm. I am convinced that having a compatible workout buddy is the secret to fitness success. Use the steps below to find a buddy that’s perfect for you.


Steps to Finding a Good Workout Buddy


1.  Choose Someone with a Comparable Schedule

Obviously, if one of you has a 9-5 job and the other is on the night shift, scheduling workouts will be difficult at best. Find someone with a similar schedule so you can get together on a regular basis. You might even be able to share a babysitter if you both have children!


2.  Choose Someone with Similar Goals

If one of you wants to train for a marathon, and the other wants to lose weight and build muscle, your workouts will be very different. Find someone with goals that match your own. It’s much easier to encourage and motivate your buddy when you are working towards a common goal.


3.  Choose Someone Who’s in Better Shape Than You

Working out with someone who is a step or two ahead of you pushes you to work harder, rather than slack off or make excuses. They’ve chartered the course and know firsthand how hard it can be to reach goals. Their support and encouragement will help you strive further than you would on your own.


4.  Choose Someone You Respect and Trust

Sometimes getting in shape requires tough love. You need to be able to ask questions and feel vulnerable with your buddy if you want to reach big goals. It’s important to choose a workout partner who can honestly (but gently!) point out areas that could use improvement. It’s crucial that you respect your buddy enough to listen to their advice without getting defensive or hurt.

 Do you have a workout buddy? If so, tell us about them! If not, what are you waiting for?    





Eyes Wide Open—A Review

In Homeschooling, Lifestyle on Friday, October 3, 2008 at 9:16 am

 Eyes Wide Open: Avoiding the Heartbreak of Emotional Promiscuity by Brienne Murk

This book talks about giving your heart away, too much, too soon, and ways to avoid that happening.

 I know, the title is a little dramatic. But, this is a book I highly recommend if:

 *you are a parent of kids around age 10 and above

*you work with kids that age

*you lost your heart at an early age and want to know how you may have avoided the emotional pain you experienced

I purchased three books.  I have my boys (14 & 16) reading it right along with me, and we discuss what we have read. (well, I  talk, they listen….kinda) 🙂

My boys roll their eyes, and think it is “stupid and unnecessary”. They don’t see the value in learning how to guard their hearts.   But, I do (and I get to choose the subjects we learn….so….).  I think it is extremely necessary, and I know they are learning some important truths, whether they want to admit it, or not.  I’ve heard them talk about the futility of the boy/girl relationships of some of their young friends. 

Here are a few tid-bits from the book:

  •  When we don’t guard our hearts, it can be difficult to know where to draw the line on an emotional connection.
  • We can become entangled in emotions when we follow our hearts instead of our heads.
  • I have the choice to live according to what is true or according to how I feel.
  • Building a relationship on feelings-no matter how exciting they are- is a recipe for disaster.
  • Whoever controls your emotions controls you.
  • There is no such thing as “casual dating”.

We’ve even been discussing how dating casually is like practicing for divorce and how easy it is for girls, particularly,  to become emotionally connected to guys. 

I don’t totally accept and agree with all the premises and thoughts in this book, but overall, the message is full of the truth that if you’re not aware of how easy it is to lose your heart too soon, it may just happen to you.

 As in everything we teach them, I don’t really know the choices they’ll make.  I don’t know if they’ll choose to guard their heart, or  if they’ll wait to date until they believe the relationship will be for a life-time.  But, Dirk and I do want them to be equipped with the truth and we pray they’ll choose what’s best. 

For now, we’ll press on and continue to read and discuss. (well, I’ll talk…) 🙂

 What do you think about dating? 

Did you ever suffer emotional pain from giving your heart away too soon?