No Complaining Challenge

Are YOU ready for the challenge of your life?

Are YOU ready for the challenge of your life?

Do you want to change your life?  And when I say “change your life,” I don’t just mean a little change, but rather a huge quantum leap-type, transformational change?  If you are ready, then you have come to the right place!

In my last post I mused on the fact that I have “gone negative” lately and that I just needed to “suck it up.”  And I’m a mindset coach for goodness sakes!

Deb and I were talking about this over the weekend and discussing where we are and where we’re going and we decided that it was time to SERIOUSLY take the “No Complaining Challenge” for 30 days.

Now, Deb has done this before and it absolutely transformed her entire attitude on life.

I have TRIED it many times over the past 4 years, but I rarely get through the first day before my habit of blaming someone or something for, complaining about, or justifying a situation in my life where my results are not as I would ultimately like them to be.

Did you ever stop to notice that complaining never gets you anywhere – at all?  You might feel better in the moment when you get the chance to commiserate with friends, but see, when you complain you only seem to attract more things to complain about and more complainers to surround yourself with.  It’s a negative, out of control spiral!!!

So, here is the challenge: You commit to remaining “complaint (blame and justification)-free” for 30 days.

When negative thoughts come into your mind (and they will – you can’t stop them), just dismiss them without giving voice to it.  Resist the temptation to mull the complaint over in your mind or speak about it to others – just let it flow right on by.

I guarantee that people will want to know who you are and what you’ve done with the REAL (insert your name here) by the time 30 days passes.

If you catch yourself complaining , you have to start over at Day 1!!  30 straight days – no complaining, blaming or justifying… PERIOD!no whining

How do you know if it’s REALLY a complaint?  It all boils down to how what you say makes you and/or the other people around you feel when you say it.  For instance, I can look outside and say, “Oh, it’s raining.”  That’s just a statement of fact.  However, if I look outside and stomp my foot and say “Damn it, it’s RAINING – my plans to go to the beach today are ruined!”  – then THAT is a complaint – it makes me feel bad and likely brings the people I am with down as well.

Most people have a habit of complaining about, blaming other people for, and justifying their present circumstances, so you must be vigilant.  Enlist an accountability partner to help you through.  Post pictures and notes around your office or home to remind you of your commitment.

Then, just do it.  And please come back and leave me a comment and let me know how this challenge changes your life!

I’m only on Day 4 and I already feel so much better, so much calmer, and so much more in control.  I AM making it to 30 days this time!  There is no stopping me!!!


Suck It Up

suck-it-up-post-itWow, looking back over some of my recent posts is somewhat illuminating – I bitch, moan, and complain … A LOT!!!

Time to suck it up, I think!

No one MAKES me do any of this.  There used to be a time when the alarm would go off and I would pull the cover up over my head only to have Deb poke at me and tell me it was time to go workout…

Now, most days I’m the one jumping out of bed to get to it.

No one makes me get up at 4:30AM so I can post a ride on the trainer before my 11 year old even wakes up for school.

No one makes me hit the pavement as soon as he steps on the school bus to get another run in.

of-course-it-is-hardNo one makes me lift weights until I can’t raise my arms over my head or until sitting on the toilet becomes a new form of personal torment from my screaming hamstrings.

No one makes me count out how many stupid almonds I’m eating.

No one MAKES me do any of it – it’s MY choice.

I want to be a better version of me.

I want to do things that MOST people won’t do.


So, injuries come with the game.  My ankle and knees are going to hurt sometimes.  Big deal.

No one wants to hear about them and, at the end of the day, they are just circumstantial.  This too shall pass.

Time to focus on what’s good and what’s going right and bring more of THAT in to my reality.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Brown Belt Promotion

Brown Belt Promotion

For those of you who don’t know a lot about me, one of my passions in life is the study of martial arts – particularly Chinese Kempo Karate.

I officially started training on January 5, 2010, although I had been watching intently as a mom on the sidelines since my son started training in January, 2009.

I love that Kempo can be in one moment smooth and flowing, and brutally efficient in the next.

Kempo is not a sport with tournaments – you can’t truly show all levels of what you know without hurting someone.  It is a self-defense art pure and simple, with three possibilities if you want to survive – escape the situation, control the situation, or destroy your attacker.

The school that I am affiliated with is located in Virginia.  My family and I moved to Florida in July, 2011 when I was just crossing into the advanced ranks as a Green belt.  My partner, Deb, is currently a 3rd degree black belt within the same system.  She is a fully qualified instructor.

When we announced we were moving, our Senior Head Instructor gave his blessing for Deb to continue my training in Florida.  He also suggested that Deb test me in Florida as well, but that was not okay with me.  Training was one thing, but I needed Mr. Petersen and everyone else who cared to see my progress and KNOW that I was not moving through the system by default.

And so it has gone since 2011.  I am currently a Level III Brown Belt and my next belt test will be in July, 2014 when I test for my black belt – a moment I have looked toward for almost 4 years now.

My training with Deb is rigorous and her expectations are incredibly high.  She sees it as her job to pry me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis,

Last week we had a GREAT class – we sparred (which I really hate) and I discovered that I don’t suck nearly as much as I feared I did.  Then we free grappled and I actually tapped Deb out in 2 out of 3 rounds, which was a HUGE thrill (and not one that I will likely repeat anytime soon).  I left the class flying high and feeling like, “OMG!! I can actually DO this!”

Then there was this morning’s class.  We went back to the very beginning – the material we teach brand new white belt students.  I remembered it all, but was a little bit rusty and in my attempt to recall the material, my intensity was somewhat lacking.  THEN, Deb put me in the front the room and had me lead several series of basics as an instructor, at a pace I am not accustomed to.  My mind went totally blank at several points (Knee sets?  What are those?) and I left the class feeling like a had just been totally schooled.  Black belt?  Who am I kidding!!

where-the-magic-happensBut that’s how it goes right?  If every class was like last week and I won every match and was “comfortable,” what’s the friggin’ point?  If I KNOW it all, why bother to take classes?

Deb is a brilliant instructor and she knows that she has to continually knock me off balance and make me uncomfortable so that I will grow.  It is only when forced outside my comfort zone that I get better.  And getting better is what it’s all about.

For the first time in my karate life, I understand why so many students get to brown belt or black/blue (for the younger students) and quit.  Without someone to explain to them why they keep feeling like a complete and abject failure in the instructors’ attempts to move them forward in their training, most people would just find it not worth the price.

I thank God for my awareness and that I am part of a system that explains that nothing magical ever happens inside your comfort zone!

Remember that the next time you feel uncomfortable and want to quit.

Going Broke in the Produce Department

The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15

The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15

Are you like me and about go into cardiac arrest when you check the prices of organic produce?

I was in my neighborhood Publix last week and was perusing the lovely organic produce and thinking, “I could literally go broke here!”

Then I started asking myself, are there things that I should ABSOLUTELY spend the extra money on for an organic item and are there items where it just doesn’t matter?

After spending a bloody fortune on organic apples, grapes, mushrooms, salad greens and spinach, I came home and decided to consult MY oracle of choice – The Google.

And it turns out that a bunch of smart scientists already did the work for me and have published a list of the Dirty Dozen (those produce items you should buy in an organic version if you have the option because they suck up pesticides and such) and the Clean 15 (those items that it just doesn’t seem to matter much).

Dirty Dozen

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (Imported)
  7. Grapes (Imported)
  8. Sweet Bell Peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (Domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard Greens

I also found a reference where this list has been expanded to include:

  1. Cherry tomatoes
  2. Cucumbers
  3. Hot Peppers
  4. Summer squashes

The Clean 15

  1. Onions
  2. Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

So, I hope this helps you the next time you are at the supermarket.  My son loves apples and eats at least 1 if not 2 per day, so now I know that my choice of the outrageously expensive organic apples is best for him.

That makes me feel like a better mom. 🙂

In A Lunch Rut

Gina's Crockpot Minestrone Soup from

Gina’s Crockpot Minestrone Soup from

I fully admit it – I’m in a lunch rut!  I mean seriously, how many salads can a girl eat before the sight of lettuce causes a bit of a gag reflex?

And poor Deb, she’s a great sport, but she’s not the world’s biggest salad fan at any rate.

Here’s the thing… Lunches are easy when bread, crackers, cheese, etc. are options, but we are experimenting with limiting bread and dairy to free days only, so it does narrow our choices.

I love soup, and minestrone is one of those comfort foods that takes me back to my childhood.  My Nonni and my Mom made minestrone a staple during the fall and winter months and it was always so good. is one of my favorite recipe blogs on the internet.  I have yet to try one of Gina’s recipes that wasn’t really delicious and they are usually a great calorie/fat bargain.

Of course, she had a lovely minestrone recipe on her site, but it was vegetarian.  So, I tweaked it a little bit, added some chicken, cooked the soup in a big stock pot (because I was doubling the recipe so Deb and I could both have it all week and it overflowed my crock) instead of a slow cooker, just used the parmagiano reggiano rind for flavor instead of adding extra cheese, substituted whole grain egg noodles for the white pasta, and I chose not to puree the white beans.

The result is a hearty, flavorful soup that I am in love with!

Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Minestrone Soup

adapted from Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 12 • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (15 oz) can white beans, drained, rinsed (cannellini or navy)
  • 6 cups fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarians)
  • chunk of good Parmesan cheese rind
  • 1 large fresh rosemary sprig
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 4 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 3 cups cooked whole wheat egg noodles (cooked and stored separate from soup)

Rinse and drain beans.

In a large stock pot, combine chicken breasts, broth, tomatoes, pureed beans, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, Parmesan cheese rind, salt and pepper. Cover, bring to a slow simmer and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Forty minutes before the soup is done cooking remove chicken breast from pot and shred or dice into bits sized pieces.  Return chicken to pot, add zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Remove bay leaves, rosemary sprig, parmesan rind and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Place 1/2 cup egg noodles in the bottom of a soup bowl.  Ladle soup over noodles.  Enjoy!!

Key to Success: Staying Organized

Not my fridge, but mine looks similar! :)

Not my fridge, but mine looks similar! 🙂

As a rule, our family follows a very regimented nutrition program.  We do indeed have our “free day” each week, but the other 6 days are very structured.

When the schedule is crazy (like it has been lately) with training, Josh’s activities, travel and work events, the thing that saves me in the nutrition department is to prep in advance.

That’s exactly what I did this morning.  After my workout, I headed to the market and bought food for the week – which consisted mostly of fresh, organic produce.  You know you’re on the right track with your food plan when the checkout clerk and the bagger assess your food on the belt and look at you wide-eyed and say, “How can you eat like THAT?”

When I got home, I set aside all the eggs, chicken, fish, fruits and veggies aside on the counter, put everything else away and then got to work boiling eggs, cutting salmon and chicken filets into 6 oz. portions, peeling, chopping, washing, and re-packaging all the fruit and veggies into grab and go portion sizes and ready to cook packs.

I baked a loaf of honey wheat sandwich bread in the bread machine for Josh’s lunches and put a big pot of chicken/veggie soup on the stove.

It took some time up front, but now we’re pretty much good to go for the week.

Now, each morning it’s just a matter of pulling the stuff for dinner out of the freezer and putting the already prepped lunches and snacks into the right lunch sacks.

I don’t want to leave our meals to chance – especially as we head into holiday season and there may be less than ideal food in the house.

I’ve worked far too hard this year for the gains (and losses) I’ve made and I’ll be darned if I’ll be derailed by a lack of planning.

What’s your go-to strategy for putting your meal planning on auto-pilot?


Cortney Martin, 2010

Cortney Martin, 2010

Omigosh, 2 posts in one day!  Well, actually, I’m cheating – I really didn’t write either of these – I’m just SHARING!

I happened upon the blog of an ex-colleague of mine from the academia days.  Since 2008 Cortney Martin has transformed herself from a driven, type A Mom, faculty member, wife… to a drive, type A Mom, faculty member, wife, marathon runner, international triathlete, powerlifter…

I am absolutely in awe of her accomplishments and how she achieved them.  I am really enjoying reading through her blog as she captures so many of the things I believe so perfectly.

This is one of those posts from February, 14, 2011.

Cortney talks about being TRULY willing to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals and how few people we meet in life that are really willing to pay the price for success.  It’s an awesome read.

So allow me to pass the blog over to Dr. Cortney Martin from her fantastic blog