Sunday, February 12, 2012

Inspiration, Motivation, Determination and A Side of Get It Done


Inspiration - that wonderful spark that jump starts an idea or an action - can come from many sources. I follow many blogs by people on the same journey to good health and fitness as myself. We share similar triumphs, failures, joys and frustrations. Somewhere in there, I find laughter and support. I also find inspiration which for me is motivation. The bloggers inspire me to up my workout game, put myself out there by writing about my experiences and often enough, try something new in the kitchen.


I've been seeking some cooking inspiration, especially in the realm of changing up my vegetable routine to avoid monotony. I read a recent post by another blogger who has begun a weight loss and fitness journey. She goes by the handle Fat Chick Fed Up. She wrote about brussel sprouts.


My immediate, almost violent reaction to her post was a "blech" accompanied by a facial expression reminiscent of an unhappy five year old. Only once in my life did a brussel sprout pass my lips. To call the experience unpleasant is an understatement of epic proportion. I remain indebted to a kind friend named Bernie, who in the spirit of generosity, stoically consumed all of my brussel sprouts that evening. (For the sake of full disclosure, everyone at the table passed their sprouts to Bernie. His efforts that evening were nothing less than heroic.)

The brussel sprout incident occurred about 20 years ago. I've taken extreme care to never interact with another of those little green cabbage-like culinary nightmares. But, then I read that blog post about brussel sprouts. She even posted pictures of her kids giving the brussel sprouts two thumbs up. My brain started churning.


Had I suddenly discovered a recipe for the elusive Tasty Brussel Sprout Chupacabra? I needed to find out for myself.


I bought fresh brussel sprouts on the vine. Following instructions, I snapped them off, rinsed them and then cut them in half. I was officially in a state of vegetable dread. If it all went south, I was in a bind. It's not like there's a dog in the house to help make it all disappear.


Suddenly I experienced an almost overwhelming desire to borrow a dog. A very hungry dog. One without taste buds.


Mustering up my courage, I pressed on, drizzling the little green ickies with EVOO and seasoning with salt & pepper. Once a Sicilian, always a Sicilian, so I added some garlic powder and tossed with vigor. Making sure they were thoroughly coated, I spread them on a baking sheet and popped them in the oven at 375 degrees for about forty-five minutes (I altered her recipe a bit there, too). Once they came out and cooled slightly, I stabbed one with a fork and carefully placed it in my mouth, waiting for the ick factor. My eyes widened. Great taste and amazing texture - who knew?!





Apparently, I am now an avid brussel sprout fan. As I posted this adventure on my Facebook page, the legions of closet brussel sprout fans came out to comment. Some of them commented about how much they loved brussel sprouts. Several were amazed at how clean my oven looked (thanks, ladies, truly). Several made suggestions for other vegetable adventures, including one from my friend, Mary for kale chips which she and her daughter, Ava enjoy as a snack. (I have never eaten kale, but duly emboldened by my current success, I added it to my grocery list).


It was even suggested that I saute the brussel sprouts in butter and add bacon. 


Yeah, I'll let that sink in for a moment.


I'm trying to reduce my body fat - so thank you, cousin John from Tolland and my friend, Henry in New Britain for both suggesting this idea, but I'll pass on the butter and bacon. This is me placing my glasses at the end of my nose and looking down over them at you both. Sternly. 

You both know that look, right?


This post really isn't about brussel sprouts despite the paragraphs already devoted to them. It's about inspiration, so let me get back to that. One of the most intimidating things I have ever done is joining Kevin Carlson's version of Extreme Boot Camp at Accelerated Fitness Solutions in Cromwell. The Extreme class is invitation only. I'd been working with Kevin for six months in private training at that point. I wasn't given the option of the All Levels camp and to be honest, I didn't want it. I was placed right into the Extreme next to two of Kevin's long time clients, Heather and Nancy. Those two set the pace for this small class. I don't like coming in second but watching those two workout is like watching two little Terminators. They never stop, never slow. Both Heather and Nancy welcomed me into the group and made me laugh through my first camp. More than that, they inspired me to get stronger and faster.


Heather is nicknamed Mighty Mouse. At 4'11" and significantly smaller than me, she is incredibly conditioned. Her best squats and dead lift weights have been in the 180 pound range. She jumps up on a two foot box like its nothing. Nancy can do pushups and pullups until Kevin falls asleep watching her. She's a machine. When I started this camp, she didn't just do a few more pushups than me, she smoked me. Left me in the dust. Both Heather and Nancy were encouraging and never seemed to pass any judgment. They inspired me to get more conditioned. I didn't want to be the one to slow them down if we were paired for an exercise. It was "game on" time!

I started doing pushups anywhere and everywhere. When I worked at home, I had to do 10 if I got up to get a bottle of water. I needed to do 10 more before I sat back down. Same requirement in place for trips to the laundry room. I did them in my office at work every opportunity I had. Then I upped the requirement to 20 for each time I got up from my chair and 20 for each return. Finally came the day when Kevin called for a minute of pushups and I matched Nancy for 50 in one minute. You should insert a really big grin right here. It was a great feeling. It still is. This is not about competing with my friends. It's about all of us working together to improve. We challenge each other as we all have strengths and weaknesses. If one of us wants to stop, a glance over at another bootcamper pushing through it is incentive enough to keep trying.

Inspiration equals motivation plus determination equals success.

This is me working out opposite Nancy - a pushup with a clap at the top. Sadly, Heather couldn't make boot camp and missed her photo op!







As a post script, I made the Kale Chips on Superbowl Sunday. I ate the whole bowl. It was delicious!






For anyone interested in trying this recipe, wash the kale, pat dry and trim all the stems out. Cut the leaves into chip sized pieces. Toss with EVOO, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Spread on a baking sheet and place in a 400 degree oven, occasionally turning and moving the leaves to avoid sticking. The leaves get crispy. So amazingly good, I plan to have this snack often. I really like flavor so I sprinkled some extra salt once the leaves were spread on the baking sheet. Thanks again to Mary and her daughter, Ava for sharing one of their favorites. It fits beautifully into my nutrition plan.

For those who have been following my progress, I am happily sticking with the FirstLine Therapy nutrition program. My grocery costs are down and I am eating a healthy, clean diet. I haven't stepped back on a scale since the two week mark, but our group will have its third meeting in a few weeks so I will check my muscle/fat composition with another bioimpedance test and a hop on the scale to see where I am. All I know is I needed to add another notch in my dress belt which is now too big.

For anyone who missed the first four installments in this saga, you may catch up by reading my blog Merty Writes. The first post is a December, 2011 blog called "Do These Nachos Make My Hiney Look Fat" followed by "Choose Your Hard", "Ya Gotta Have Friends" and "The Attack of the Forty Foot Martini Olive". Thanks as always for reading along. My readers help inspire me as well.




19 comments:

  1. Your oven does look sparkly clean! I want to try the brussel sprouts and kale chips...did those words really just come off my fingertips?

    I'm getting out of bed to go lift weights now! Thanks for the push. Just be careful next time, I bruise easily!

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  2. Thanks, Miss Trishie. I can't believe I am enjoying either of these veggies. But the flavors all work! (If you're a garlic fan, that is!)

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    1. Garlic fan would be an understatement. I am madly in love with garlic. There is no such thing as too much in my world or on my plate.

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  3. Good luck keeping up with your program. I don't think I could ever eat a brussel sprout. Love the beginning poster. Thanks for the visit.

    Joyce
    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Joyce. They are now a regular staple in my menus - I love them cold the next day. I pop them like candy. I know, it sounds crazy!

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  4. Hey, thanks for the shout out! This is such a great article! And I have to admit, the first thing I thought when I saw your picture of brussel sprouts, was "Wow! Her oven is SO clean." Seriously, how do you get it that clean? I have a self-cleaning oven that apparently cannot clean itself.

    Awesome job on the push-ups! I need a work-out buddy to inspire me...or kick me in the rear. I really struggle in this area. I'm working on it though.

    I am so glad you enjoyed the brussel sprouts. And you will be proud-I picked up a bunch of kale from a local farm this week! Can't wait to make the chips! Thanks for inspiring me!

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    1. Lisa, thank you for permission to link to you & cite my inspiration - you got a number of my friends on a brussel sprout kick. My oven is clean because I usually cook with items covered. I steam roast my proteins in a casserole dish with a glass cover - no splashing or dripping. I am not Cinderella and she doesn't live at my house. :-)
      Let me know how the kale chips work out - the key is to coat them but not overly done. If they are not dried well or have too much oil, they won't dehydrate and crisp (they still taste good, but not a chip). I'll be making more of both recipes tomorrow - I have a cooler packed for tonight as I have a Rotary meeting and will be out.
      If you struggle with pushups, don't do the on the knee modification. If you can't do them in a plank position on the floor, you still want to engage the right muscles. Try elevating your hands. Put your hands on a bench and plank your body to do pushups from there - make sure your butt doesn't go up - you want to be a solid line and aim for 10 each time. Gradually increase - and then when you can do a solid 20 using a bench, try for 10 on the floor. That's how Kevin got me started! Good luck!

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  5. I've always liked brussel sprouts (well, not as a kid...) and just learned to like kale because a friend turned me on to the kale chips recipe. Now there is just one veggie left on my hate-it list, and that's okra. But okra is the devil and there's no way I'll ever make friends with that slimy crap.

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    1. Luckily for you I have never eaten okra so I am not going to try and persuade you to change your opinion. And since you have told me clearly that okra is the devil, I'm willing to take it at face value.
      :-)
      Hey, is that baby here yet?

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  6. Oh all right, the first five situps are in your honor

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    1. Yay! Go get 'em!! (Have I told you about Vee Ups?)

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  7. I confess to loathing the nasty green things. I would rather chew on straw. That aside, the post, is as ever, inspirational. I feel the need to confess I ate two apples and had a bowl of soup today. :-)

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    1. Brenda - can I at least get you to try the kale chips!?

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  8. Brussels sprouts are one of my favorites. I brush them with coconut oil, and then broil with garlic and a bit of sun-dried tomato... mMmmMmmm

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    1. Oh I might need to try that! Sounds yummy!

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  9. I absolutely love Brussels sprouts (I think you already knew this)! I like to just steam them and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper or sometime I toss them with a bit of light Italian dressing. YUM!

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    1. Ahhhh my favorite banana!! Thank you, D for popping in!

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  10. Would you believe I've never eaten brussels sprouts or kale? I should hang my head in shame, I know, but instead I blame my parents for my non love of green vegetables. I read the Columbus quote and chuckled out loud. Thanks for the inspirational post! :)

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    1. Thanks, Bella - I grew up on pasta & ricotta. This is a whole new adventure for me, too! My next post will have a recipe for Lavash Wrap Pizza ala Maria - I made my own creation and it turned out great! Stay tuned!

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You comments are truly appreciated!