Author Archives: Michelle

Chicken livers

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Awhile back, I posted a chicken liver recipe that included balsamic vinegar.  While yummy, I’ve decided that I actually prefer my chicken livers served very simply because I really like the flavor of the livers themselves.  (Aaaaand, I just lost 3/4 of my readers, didn’t I?)  Plus, the rest of my family only tolerates them, so I’ve taken to making them just for myself at lunch, and I want the quickest method possible. This is my super simple recipe:

Chicken Livers
(net carbs: 1.5g)

1/2 lb chicken livers (about 1/2 a container, or 4-6 livers)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp peanut oil
garlic powder

Place chicken livers on a plate lined with paper towels to dry.  Melt butter and oil in a small pan over medium heat.  Blot top of livers with more paper towel, then sprinkle liberally with garlic powder.  Place in pan, garlic side down, and sprinkle tops with more garlic.  Cover pan and cook for 5 min.  Flip livers (I find this easiest to do with two forks, one underneath and one on top) and cook for 4 more minutes.

My method cooks the livers quite well done, but this is how I prefer them.  Most recipes seem to suggest you don’t want them overcooked or they’ll be dry, but I like them this way because the texture is more like other meats.  Also, the outside gets brown and slightly crunchy, which reminds me of how my mom used to make them by coating them in flour first.  However, if you prefer yours less done, you can probably do about 3 minutes per side.

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I’m moving to Kansas

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That’s the flattest place in the country, right?  Because I’m tired of all these hills!  I mapped a route today that I was sure would be relatively flat, only to discover that it had the biggest hill of any route I’ve walked yet!  (And yes, exclamation points were necessary to end both those sentences!)

I chose this route because I was certain the roads to the west of the main road that cuts through our neighborhood were flatter.  That’s the direction the kids’ school is in, and most of those roads aren’t too bad.  As you get near that major road, if you’re to the west of it and headed east, there are some hills.  But if you’re headed west, you’re walking downhill.

So I planned to walk along that major road for a bit and then head west, which I figured would either be flat or downhill, and then loop back home.  Apparently, though, being .5 mile further south in our neighborhood made all the difference, because much to my chagrin, the road I looped on is a fairly steep and long hill.  I hit my fastest average pace today, but a big part of that was not having the kids with me for the first part of the walk.  If it weren’t for that hill, I would’ve blown my fastest pace away rather than just squeaking by it (20:00 minute mile vs. 20:02 minute mile).

In all seriousness, I know the hills are good for me.  In the long run, they’ll give me more intense workouts in less time and build my endurance faster.  But man oh man, it’s tough on a beginner!

Ahhhh, that natural high

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The best part of my daily walks?  It’s that moment I first get inside and sit down.  That could sound bad, as if I hate walking and can’t wait to stop.  But that’s not what I mean at all.  What I love is being able to stop moving, close my eyes, and just be in the moment.  I sit there and just focus on the sensation of the blood pumping through my veins and the cool tingle in my skin.  I notice how my breathing is transitioning from a fast pace to a more normal one.  And then I think about how amazing I feel.

On a related note, what I also love is how alert I am after my walk.  I am not a morning person.  On a day when I don’t walk, it takes me a good hour or more to feel fully lucid.  My body and mind are both dragging.  But when I walk, even if I’m still tired when I head out that door, I walk back through it alert and clear headed.  I may still even be tired if I didn’t sleep well the night before (which isn’t uncommon, as I struggle with insomnia frequently), but at least the fog is cleared from my brain.

And now that I have come down from today’s high, it’s time to go make some breakfast.  Carmelized onion omelet, here I come!

The grand exercise plan: getting to 3 miles

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I am a planner – especially when planning allows me to procrastinate.  And since I have tons of grading that I don’t feel like doing right now, what better time to map out routes for slowly building my endurance to 3 mile walks?

After posting my walking goals for the next 3 weeks, I was inspired to keeping going on RunKeeper, figuring out a number of routes that gradually increase by approximately .2 to .3 miles.  If I can manage to add that much distance every week (is that overly ambitious??? I honestly don’t know), I can get to 3.16 miles in 10 weeks, using the following plan:

Week 1, starting 9/13: 1.07 mi, no hill
Week 2, starting 9/20: 1.10 mi, moderate hill
Week 3, starting 9/27: 1.32 mi, steep hill
Week 4, starting 10/3: 1.53 mi, moderate hill
Week 5, starting 10/10: 1.78 mi, steep hill (after this, they all build off this same route with the steep hill)
Week 6, starting 10/17: 2.05 mi
Week 7, starting 10/24: 2.31 mi
Week 8, starting 10/31: 2.64 mi
Week 9, starting 11/7: 2.90 mi
Week 10, starting 11/14: 3.16 mi

My intention is to walk at least 5 days each week.  I’m hoping that’s enough to acclimate me to each distance so that I’m ready to add a bit the following week.  If not, I can always do two weeks on each route before bumping up if I find that I need to.  A formalized exercise plan like this is new to me, so I don’t know if I’m biting off more than I can chew.  However, I know that my first walk, taken just 10 days ago, was .75 mi and today I easily did 1 mi.

So I think this is reasonable, but if it’s not, all I need to do is slow the progression a bit.  The key is that I have the routes mapped, and I can move on to each new one as I’m ready.  Now here’s hoping for a mild fall and no big snowfalls that throw a wrench in my plans!

Exercise plan for the next three weeks

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Living in Colorado can be a bit challenging for a novice walker.  (A novice fitness walker, I should clarify – I imagine any terrain is challenging for a novice walker.)  Although we don’t live in the mountains or even the foothills, our neighborhood is still filled with small hills.  Or at least they seem small from the comfort of a car. 😉

I am lucky that the area immediately to the west of our house, which also happens to be the direction we need to head in for school each morning, has only a small grade but no real hills.  However, if I walk the basic route to school and home, I only hit about .85 miles.  I really want to get in a full mile, but most of the routes that get me up to that distance also include a hill.

I have managed these routes twice in the last week, but I can tell I’m not ready for them quite yet.  My thighs were so sore after Friday’s walk that I didn’t walk again the rest of the weekend.  (Although a lot of that just had to do with it being the weekend.)  I did another today that wasn’t quite as bad, but I can still tell I’m going to suffer again tomorrow.

However, at some point, I have to be able to tackle these hills.  I’ll never get a decent walk in if I don’t, unless I just repeat a small loop several times over, and that would get incredibly boring.  Plus, I know the hills are good for my overall fitness level.  So I’ve studied the maps on RunKeeper and found some routes that will help me build my endurance to the point where I can tackle the hills.

Week 1 (the rest of this week): I managed to find a single route that clocks in at 1.07 miles and has no hills, so that’s what I’ll do for now.

Week 2: A 1.1 mile route, but with a moderate hill.

Week 3 (and maybe Week 4?): A 1.32 mile route with a steeper, but shorter hill.

The good news is that the Week 3 route can easily be extended out to a main road that will allow me to add all kinds of variations to keep gradually building my distance.  My ultimate goal is to add a bit of distance every 1 to 2 weeks until I hit 3 miles!

(Edited to add: This post inspired me to keep going on my route-mapping quest to figure out a 10-week plan to achieving that goal.)

New exercise clothes and more

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Last week, I walked every day in a pair of jeans.  For a casual walk, that’s not so terrible.  But I still wanted a pair of exercise pants that wouldn’t slide around so much when I walked, so over the weekend, I picked up an inexpensive pair.

I had every intention of getting a pair with pockets so that I could put my phone in my pocket when I walk.  (I use an app called RunKeeper to track how far I walk, so I need to be able to bring it with me.)  Unfortunately, when you are a plus-sized woman and have exactly two pants styles to choose from, you aren’t able to be very picky.  Which is to say: I ended up with a pair of pants without pockets.

This is also a fact that I forgot until last night, as I was laying in bed, when it was too late to do anything about it.  However, as I mulled the issue over in my head, I realized the solution would be to carry a small purse that I can sling across my body.  Unfortunately, the only crossbody purse I have is fairly big and heavy.  I used it today, but I knew I needed to have something smaller and lighter

So after I came home and showered, I headed out to Goodwill, hoping I could find something super cheap there.  They had a couple of crossbody purses, but the prices were outrageous for used – $10!  Both were too big anyway, but I was really shocked at the price since neither was a couture brand or anything.

However, the trip was not a total bust.  I did find a couple of cute new pairs of shoes, three long-sleeved tees for my walks as the mornings cool down more, and best of all – a motivational shirt!  It’s a size down from what I wear now, and super cute, but definitely too snug through the belly.  It was only $3.49, so I snapped it up.  My goal is to be able to comfortably wear it by sometime early next year.

Finally, I headed up the road to Target, hoping they would have a purse that fit my walking needs, and I got lucky!  There was exactly ONE purse like this left, and it was on clearance for only $7.  It’s a nice, lightweight cotton purse that I can fit my phone and some lip balm into easily.  There’s also enough room for my keys if I go out on a day when no one is home, and I need to lock the door behind me.

Between my haul over the past couple of days and the new shoes I got a week ago, I feel totally prepared for this new exercising adventure in my life!

A week of milestones – emphasis on “mile”

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Just two weeks ago, I was still dreading exercise.  I knew I needed to start, but I’d known that since at least May.  I kept putting it off.  Just 11 days ago, I finally forced myself to put in an exercise video.  I hated it.  Things were not looking good.

And then 9 days ago, I decided to try something else, and I walked the kids into school, which is about a mile round trip, and it turned out not to be too bad.  Except for the heat and the uncomfortable shoes.  By Saturday, Mother Nature had taken care of the weather, and my own mother (and father) had taken care of the shoes.

I still didn’t really want to walk, but I figured I had no more excuses, so I suggested we take a family walk – and something magical happened.  I found I kind of enjoyed it.  So on Sunday, with less (metaphorical) foot dragging on my part, we did it again.  And then on Monday, we went to the zoo, which amounted to another mile.  And then Tuesday, school was back, and I walked the kids in.  And I did it again on Wednesday.  Then Thursday.  And finally again today, even in spite of some challenges.

I have walked approximately one mile every.single.day.for.a.week.  And I – I can hardly believe I’m about to type this – have enjoyed it.  I’m honestly looking forward to each walk, especially in this gorgeous fall weather.  Just two weeks ago, I would have believed the following things were more likely to happen than my looking forward to a walk:

  1. The Pope converting to Hinduism.
  2. Democrats and Republicans in Congress agreeing on something.
  3. Peace in the Middle East.
  4. Dogs and cats walking upright and talking to me.

And yet, here I am, 7 days in, and genuinely looking forward to making it 8.  I’m excited to feel the cool air on my warm skin.  I’m excited to have that moment where I walk in the door and collapse onto the couch and just sit there and feel the blood coursing through my body.  I’m excited to see the joy on my kids faces when they hear we are going to take a family walk.  I can hardly even wrap my mind around all of this.

Then to top everything off?  I had a  great night out with some friends last night, and so I didn’t low carb.  I had chips and salsa, some amazing flautas, beans and rice, and three margaritas.  (What can I say?  They were really good, and I wasn’t driving…)  I got on the scale this morning fully expecting to have gained anywhere from 1-3 lbs since yesterday.  Instead?  Down .2 lbs!  I don’t think I’ve ever had an off plan day where I woke up the next morning to any weight loss at all, even a small one.  Now I do often have a 2nd gain the 2nd day after going off plan, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the scale goes up tomorrow.  But the fact that it still went down today is amazing.  And it also just happens to be my lowest weight since I started this journey in January.

TGIF, indeed!  It’s been an amazing Friday so far.