Tag Archives: food

Haiti, Wednesday, February 22nd

9 Mar

For the women, we were given the luxury of staying at Bon Sam orphanage all day long.  It was the first morning that we didn’t have to be up and ready by 8 a.m. And even though we didn’t sleep in, we all sat around and chatted over our cups of coffee as we soaked in the morning sunshine and the sounds of the kids in school.  Oh, yes – in case I forgot to mention, there’s a place for school right in the compound and kids from the community are invited to attend as well.  It’s one big area and then they divide into three parts for the three different age categories.  They start the morning by lining up at the flagpole, they sing a song (we heard several different songs while we were there), pray and raise the Haitian flag.  They then go to their school and continue with the lessons for the day.  

A few of us chose to walk to the little store that was close by – we needed to buy a birthday cake because this would be the annual birthday celebration at Bon Sam.  Most children do not know their actual date of birth – nor do they know the exact year they were born.  So many times, the date of birth on their file is just an estimation.  Therefore, Second Chance Haiti chooses to celebrate everyone’s birthday at one time.  Even though it’s only a 15-minute walk to the store, we aren’t allowed to walk without our translator and security.  I found myself craving junk food I would never eat at home…..Pringle’s.  I bought Pringle’s every time we went to the store.  I didn’t eat the entire can and would share with everyone…but, still, Pringle’s??? Couldn’t figure that one out unless I just wanted the salt or the reminder of food from home.  I also would buy pineapple juice and a small bottle of Perrier and then mix the two; it was very refreshing.

We got back and then decorated for the birthday party.  Lots of streamers – party hats – goodie bags with lots of candy – gifts bags with presents – the famous peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – and then we had outdoor activities planned.  It was funny because some of the girls had made lots of pb&j sandwiches; however, as we started passing them out, we quickly found out that each child (from the littlest to the oldest) wanted at least TWO sandwiches. So, once again, we were making pb&j as quickly as we could until we had given everyone at least 2….I’m pretty sure several ate three.  And then, there was cake!  We sang the HB song and then enjoyed cake….even the dogs were given some crumbs.  Smiles were all around!

The sidewalk chalk was handed out and everyone found a spot on the concrete block wall to draw and that kept everyone occupied for at least 30 minute.  It was a beautiful wall filled with lots of hearts by the time the kids were finished.  Then we had soccer happening, whiffle ball being played, and double dutch jump ropes going round and round.  I think Summer and D’Anna were at their post for at least an hour.  Lots of laughter filling the courtyard as everyone enjoyed the beautiful afternoon.  Another group visiting from Georgia stopped by and they joined in playing with the kids and drawing on the wall.  It was very heartwarming to just sit there and watch the interactions between the “blancs” from the US and the kids of the orphanage just being present in the moment….playing, laughing, communicating even though we didn’t speak the same language.

It didn’t matter what was happening all around the world – didn’t matter what was happening back in the United States – didn’t matter what was on social media and what was on the nightly news – didn’t matter what was happening in the lives of actors, actresses, music icons, sports icons, and reality TV.  What did matter was the love that was being shared between everyone there – the smiles that were lighting up the eyes of every person – the squeals of laughter as the kids enjoyed the adults playing soccer with them, trying to jump rope with them, drawing on the wall with them, pushing the swing for them, throwing the whiffle ball to them, or taking fun selfies with them.  That was the most important thing happening in the world at that moment, and I’m sure God was smiling down on Bon Sam that day.  You see He holds a special place in His heart for children – He says He knows us before we are even formed in our mother’s womb.  When we take the time to love on a child, especially a child without a dad or a mom, we make Him happy and the world is a becomes a brighter place because of those interactions.  Those are the moments that will matter when all is said and done….it’s not important to me if I ever meet anyone “famous” because I’ve met the most famous people I ever want to meet and it’s those children at Bon Sam.

Haiti, Monday, February 20th

6 Mar

We started our day in the Croix-des-Bouquets market.  We were educated the night before and were told that we couldn’t take backpacks, purses, cameras, phones, etc.  We needed to stay in a line and with the group at all times – we were not to stop to look at anything.  It’s always a challenge for our security to take such a large group to the market and we needed to do all we could to make their jobs easier.  Well, they could tell us all they wanted to but it truly couldn’t prepare for the actual market.

If you’ve ever watched, The Amazing Race, when they go to a local market in a third world country, then you have some idea.  Even watching it on TV, I was not ready for the actual craziness.  I would never attempt this on my own and am glad for our security and our translator.  There were vendors, people, motorcycles, cars, jeeps, truck, BIG trucks, wheelbarrows, live animals, dead animals, etc.  Anything you can think of was being sold.  There were thousands of vendors.  I was trying to take it all in but it was very difficult because you had to look down at your feet to watch where you were stepping.  There were a few times that we had to grab the hands of the people in front of us and the people behind us.  BUT i loved it!!! And can’t wait to go back!!!

We were purchasing live chickens, live goats, beans and rice.  We went to the chicken lady first and let Ashley and the translator barter.  I think we ended up with 10 chickens.  They were tied together as pairs and we had to carry them by their feet.  You can imagine that this was quite the feat 😉  They didn’t really like being carried upside down and would get a little agitated.  Plus, from the time we bought them until we got back to the van was about one hour.  So, they had lots of time to get unhappy.

We went to the meat section next…..that is the area that I didn’t like.  Tables and tables of raw meat, organs, etc. It was warm so lots of flies and not a pleasant aroma to take in!!!  But, that is where we had to purchase the live goats.  I used some of the money given to me to purchase a goat.  So they got me a little male goat – I named him, Bruno.  And then I was able to parade Bruno all through the market.  He actually was a good goat – he didn’t like to get his feet wet so any time we came to a little bit of water, he would just stop and I would have to pull him to get him to move.  He also was quite hungry so would try to nibble on anything green that he saw.  Of course, the Haitian vendors didn’t like that so I had to make sure he didn’t “steal” anything!  You can imagine the fun we brought to the market.  There were 15 of us “blancs” and we all were parading goats or carrying live chicken all through the market.  One of the goats would just lie down in the middle of the road and refuse to move. So, our translator proceeded to just drag her as she bleated loudly! Yes, there were lots of smiles on the faces of the vendors and lots of laughter, as well.  We crazy white people parading with our menagerie!

We took the animals back to Bon Sam orphanage and then drove over to FOSA orphanage to spend the rest of the day.  Some of the team worked on getting the clothing and shoe sizes written down for all of the children.  The guys started building some storage trunks.  And then some of us went to another market so Mariflor could purchase the items to make us dinner.  Of course, I went with that group.  I loved the market experience and wanted to see a different one.  This second one was nicer and not as chaotic as the first one.  After that we went to a very nice grocery store, and we enjoyed some cheese, some bread, and a bathroom with running water!!! The rest of the day was spent having a Valentine’s Day Party with the kids, giving the kids their sponsor gifts and then enjoying a fabulous dinner made by Mariflor.  We had okra, plantains, potatoes, bread, spaghetti with a meat gravy and onions, peppers and garlic.  It was SOOOOO good!  Our van stopped at a cafe on the way back to Bon Sam to get food for a volunteer who had been ill – it was quite fun because the cafe is called, Vols Cafe, and is decorated in orange and white…but it has nothing to do with the state of Tennessee. Dena and I were happy girls because they had an espresso machine and we were able to get a latte.  It’s the little things, folks!

It was a great day – lots of fun memories made.  Some discovered that the market was not their thing and they don’t ever want to go back 🙂  Others of us loved the adventure and the chaos.  We ended the evening on the roof under the starry skies and shared our highs for the day, lows for the day, prayers, and devotion.  Then went to bed and fell asleep to the sounds of the Haitian city.  Nothing like it!

What do you do when you fall down

30 Jan

What do you do when you hit a bump on your fitness journey or when you have a bad eating day? Do you just throw your hands up and say, “i’ve blown it so I may as just eat everything in my frig and pantry!!” or do you say, “Ok, I had a moment but now it’s time to get back on track and continue making good choices!” Which one are you?

We all have those days – those moments. It’s normal – we’re human and we mess up. However, it’s what we do afterwards that counts.

For example, last Saturday, I had one of those days. I had been getting up every morning between 4:30 and 5 and not getting to bed until after 10. Friday evening, I hosted a painting party to help me raise money for my upcoming missions trip to Haiti; so that meant planning and preparing for the 21 ladies that were attending. I had early morning prayer, fitness classes, and an afternoon of errands and preparing for the event. I didn’t get home until 11:30 that night and then had to be up early on Saturday to teach fitness classes. When I arrived back home Saturday morning after classes, I was tired and I was hungry and lack of sleep had my brain all foggy. None of these were conducive to making a good choice. I grabbed some chocolates that I had leftover from my party and ate them. Yep….on an empty stomach. And they were delicious!

Now….what did I do afterwards? Did I beat myself up for making those choices? Nope. I knew there were a lot of components that had led to my decision and that I’m human and once in a while I’m going to eat chocolate for breakfast! However, I also knew that I would get right back on track with my lifestyle and how I eat 90% of the time.

Again, it’s okay to have those moments. We all do. It’s what we do the next day that matters. If we continue making the choices we know aren’t going to bring us mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health and wellness, then that isn’t okay and we need to have someone help us get back on track. On the other hand, if we go right back to making those daily choices that will bring us life and well being, then all is well.

It’s not how many times we fall down, it’s how many times we get back up! So, get back up and keep walking!!! You can do this!

Friday Fitness Tip for 12/16

16 Dec

Friday Fitness Tip:

1) Have a bite before you go out.

Many times, people will choose not to eat because they know they are going to a party where there will be lots of food. That is the worst choice to make – by the time you get to the party, you’ll be ravenously hungry and won’t be able to make good choices and will end up overeating and feeling horrible the next day. Eat normally throughout the day – breakfast with protein, a great lunch (big salad with lean protein) and even have a snack before heading to the party…An apple and some almonds. This will keep you from eating too fast because you’re hungry and will allow you to enjoy the foods you want to eat.

2) Keep each celebration limited to one day.

Don’t go into Holiday mode and just eat everything and anything when you want and skip all of your workouts. This will cause you many tears on new year’s day when you realize you’ve gained five pounds!!! Go to your Christmas party – and then the next day go back to making your good choices AND make sure you get in a workout!

A review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the longer it takes you to re-focus on fitness, the more your enthusiasm for it will dim, and the harder it will be for you to get back on track. In short, a day off won’t hurt you, but a week or two off can derail your progress toward your goals. It can also inflate your waist size, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. The researchers found that just two weeks of inactivity can increase belly fat by seven percent. So, skip one day but then get right back on track!!! Your 2017 self will appreciate that!

3) Keep calories in perspective.

All of these tips are not meant to make you frantic and not enjoy the season. They’re just meant to help you be aware of your choices and how to keep from gaining the typical 5-7 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. A few high-calorie meals during this season will not sabotage your fitness goals.

A better strategy: Focus on how many calories you burn during the course of a week, not each day. As long you are making good choices and eating healthy 80 percent of the time, you can cut yourself some slack during the other 20 percent.

What are some ways you stay balanced during this time of the year???

Friday Fitness Tips

9 Dec

Friday Fitness Tips:

Here we go….take a deep breath….you can do this!!! The “most wonderful time of the year” is upon us. This month causes mixed reactions in most people. Some people love every moment – some tolerate it – some dread it. Regardless of your feelings for this month, I’m going to try and share tips every Friday that will help you be healthy and well and finish 2016 strong!!! I’ll share three tips today that I think are the most important for starting this month.

1) Don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast sets the nutritional tone for the rest of the day, and you don’t want to send your body into survival mode by prolonging your overnight fast. Bonus points if you swap your bagel for eggs and your venti latte for a short black. Doing the former can help shrink your waist by 34 percent and your body fat by 16 percent, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity.

The reason: You’ll consume fewer calories in subsequent meals. Doing the latter can save you 188 calories a day. And let’s be honest, it’s the caffeine you love anyway. Feel like you never have time to make breakfast? Have some grab and go options – almonds, apples, boiled eggs, bananas, etc – that can help you with the morning rush.

2) Keep a food log – yes, even during the Holidays. This will help you maintain and not gain and keep you aware of what you are consume. It’s a pain in the butt, but it’s shockingly effective at helping people eat healthier, according to a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The researchers found that people who recorded everything they ate for a week lost six more pounds than people who didn’t. Don’t bother buying a notebook—smartphone apps like MyFitnessPal, Lifesum, and Eatly make recording what you eat easy. All three also sync with third party fitness trackers, helping you gain a more holistic view of your health and daily activity. I use MyFitnessPal and love how it helps me be accountable.

3) Don’t skip workouts!!!! Skipping just one workout can initiate a downward spiral, increasing your odds of skipping another one by 61 percent, according to British researchers.

The solution: Think smaller. Instead of trying to carve out time for one long workout, do two or three short ones. “In so doing, you’ll boost motivation, eliminate ‘too busy’ as an excuse, and accelerate both muscle building and fat loss,” says Chad Waterbury M.S., a Los Angeles-based exercise physiologist.

A great go-to is a Tabata based workout. 20 seconds of a move, 10 seconds rest and repeat for 8 times total. You can choose one move for four minutes and then choose another move for the next 4 minutes. In just 16-20 minutes you can have a great, effective workout done.

If you would like for me to post a tabata workout, comment below and I’ll give you one to add to your resources 🙂

So, incorporate these three tips for the rest of the month and I’ll share more next Friday! Let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of help to you. I offer free consultations and would be glad to help in any way that I can.

Remember, breathe and take time for yourself in the busy days ahead.

Finishing 2016 Strong

8 Dec

It’s hard to believe that we are in the last month of 2016.  I think back to the beginning of the year when I had a brand new year ahead of me with blank pages upon which I would write daily with my choices and doings.  Am I where I wanted to be?  Have I done what I wanted to do?  Have I been what I wanted to be in 2016?  So, I take time to ponder these questions and reflect upon the last 12 months.  These reflections will help me determine what I set forth to do on January 1st.  I know that I have taken on new things which has caused me to neglect other things that I felt were important to me.  So, for 2017 I know that I need to think about the impact of taking on new things and what it will do to what is currently on my plate.  Yes, it can be good to take on new things and new opportunities; however, I think that if I add something new than I need to subtract something away.  It’s the process of continually growing and transforming.

One of the things that has helped me was the practicum coaching that I had to do as part of my online education at MUIH for my master’s in health and wellness coaching.  I was coached by a fellow student in my program; and even though it was a practicum, it was so helpful and beneficial to me as an individual.  I had some areas I felt stuck in and that is what I brought to the coaching sessions so I could be coached.  As my coach would ask powerful questions and utilize coaching resources during the sessions, I was able to have clarity and experience some “aha” moments as she coached me through the sessions.  This experience was also valuable to me as a  coach to understand how it feels to be in a coaching situation as the client.  It allowed me to see the value of having a coach to help discover the answers that already lie inside us and how having another person on our journey towards goals can be so helpful.

As I prepare for the new year, I’ve decided that I’m going to take advantage of the last 23 days of this year and finish strong by choosing daily to make choices to meet my goals.  My word for 2016 was, “execute” – I chose that word because I knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go so all I had to decide was to just do it.  So, from now until the end of the year I will just do it – I will be present, I will make time to be with friends, I will celebrate life, I will be confident in what I do and who I am, I will learn and teach Strong by Zumba, I will run my one mile every day, I will limit my sugar consumption, I will journal, I will have my quiet time, I will practice gratitude.  You see…it’s not how you start, but it’s how you finish that matters! So, I will finish strong!

Irony in baking zucchini bread

22 Aug

A few moments ago I had just tucked myself into bed and turned the light off and was so excited to settle in for a good night’s sleep.  But as most of us do, I took a few moments to think about the day and reflect on what happened.  The first thing that popped into my head was my zucchini bread experience that almost ended up in the garbage can.  Then I realized that the reason why I even had the great zucchini bread fiasco was because of a lack of focus….and how ironic that my last blog had the topic of focus and the word was even in my title.  Needless to say, I severely missed the mark of focus during my moments baking in the kitchen today.  On my defense, I was quite sleepy today…..I am taking care of my uncle’s dogs and staying at his house every night, and he lives almost one hour from my house.  By the time I arrived at his house last night, it was around 11 and didn’t get into bed until after midnight; then the alarm went off at 5:45 this morning so I could get back to the studio and teach my morning fitness classes.  Even coffee wasn’t doing its job with helping me to be alert .

After a full morning and afternoon, I decided to bake two loaves of a new zucchini bread recipe from a cookbook, Against All Grains.  But first, I decided to slice up my sweet potato and get the pieces into cold water because I was making oven-baked sweet potato fries for my dinner.  (this little piece of info will make sense in a moment!).  I set the oven to 425 to pre-heat and begin prepping the zucchini.  About 15 minutes into slicing the zucchini, I heard some crackling sounds coming from my oven.  For a moment I was perplexed and then I decided I better see what was making the noise.  Well, I had left two skillets in the oven and they were pretty hot…I’m not sure what would have happened if I had not decided to investigate the noise – hopefully, it would not have involved any kinds of flames, smoke, fire extinguisher, etc!!!

I continued following the recipe – greased the pans, mixed all the liquid ingredients, mixed the dry ingredients and then added them to the liquid ingredients.  I was getting ready to put the batter into the bread pans and noticed a bowl setting off to the side with a plate on it.  (Oh, yeah….I failed to mention that I soon discovered that I did not have enough almond flour to make two loaves of bread so had to make a quick run to the grocery store.  I did turn the oven off; I covered up the dry ingredients that I had been measured and covered up the zucchini.)  I realized that under that plate was the vital ingredient to making zucchini bread….the zucchini!!!! I quickly added it to the batter and then put the pans into the oven to back for the recommended 45 minutes.

About 20ish minutes into the bake time, I really began to smell the incredible aroma of the bread.  I decided to glance into the oven to see how it looked, and I quickly noted that it was looking way toooooo dark to have only been in the oven for 20 minutes.  Here’s where the sweet potato prep comes to light….you see, in order to bake the sweet potatoes, the oven has to be set to 425 degrees – that was in the back of my mind when I turned the oven on.  Zucchini bread, on the other hand, only requires 350 degrees.  That’s quite a difference in degrees.  I hurriedly pulled the bread out and let it settle for a few minutes.  It still needed just a little bit more time in the oven.  I turned back the dial to 350 and gave it some time to cool off and put the pans back in.  I intended to leave them in for 5 minutes.

By this time my dinner was done so I sat down to eat…..yep, you guessed it!  5 minutes turned into 10 minutes before I looked at the clock for another reason and then jumped up and ran to the oven expecting to pull out charcoal crisp bread.  Thankfully, it was good, and I did not have to throw it out.  But there was definitely a lesson to be learned from all of this mishap in the kitchen.  You see I was not truly focused on what I was doing.  Yes, I was reading the cookbook but I was also thinking about other things, had the radio on, was doing laundry. and answering texts.  Also, the lack of sleep was not helping me be at my best mental clarity.

I write all of this to say that when we decided to focus on those three to five things that I wrote about in my last blog, we have to make sure we truly are focused.  We can write down our goals and how we are going to focus but putting it into practice is another thing. Sleep can effect our ability to be laser sharp and at our best mentally.  Multi-tasking can diminish our ability to produce first-class work with excellence.  We have to practice being aware – being mindful – being in the moment.  When we practice those things, it helps us stay focused and ignore all the distractions that are around us.  You can guarantee that the next time I am in the kitchen following a recipe I will be totally focused on the directions for that recipe.  A quest for focus and excellence begins with the small things…..and in the kitchen.

And now I must end the blog so I can be in bed before midnight…I have five minutes 🙂