Welcome to Self Soul Space! This blog is designed to bring you healthy lifestyle tips. A true healthy lifestyle, embodies a healthy mind, body, spirit, and environment. Thanks for stopping by to check out my way of living.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wellness Wednesday

Is winter weather getting you down?  Stopping you from getting your exercises in?  If you're looking out your window at a snowy mess, like I am in Milwaukee.... Get out in it!  This Wellness Wednesday, I encourage you to park the snowblower, and pick up the shovel.  Not only will you get a great workout in, but you'll help the environment too.  Just think, for 20 minutes of shoveling, you can burn over 100 calories... Compare that to walking behind your snowblower for 20 minutes, you'll only burn 70 calories.   So, this Wednesday, get out and play in the snow, shovel your walk way, and maybe build a snowman!  Stay Warm & Well, my friends!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mrs. Thayer's Famous Croquettes

Mrs. Thayer, is me, yes... But in this case, it's my mother in law, and I am going to share my "healthy" spin on her famous Croquettes.  You can use chicken or turkey, or a chicken substitute. I will be honest, this is not a go to meal, if you're looking for a fast dinner. It takes some time to assemble, but overall the recipe is still pretty easy.  The original recipe calls for the croquettes to be fried, I opted to bake them (like this week's Wellness Wednesday tip), and you can make them vegetarian or vegan if you would like.  My entire family enjoyed them, I hope you do too!

Mrs. Thayers' Croquettes
Makes 10-12 balls, serves 4

3 tbsp Butter (non-dairy butter substitute if you would like)
1/4 cup flour (g-free or whole wheat works well too)
1/2 cup milk (skim or unflavored almond/rice/soy milk)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or veggie broth for my vegan friends)
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp celery, finely chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper
Dash of paprika, nutmeg, poultry seasoning
1 1/2 cup finely chopped, cooked chicken or turkey (chicken substitute for my vegan friends)
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs (i mixed panko & whole wheat, you can use g-free crumbs too)
1 egg (egg substitute)
2 tbsp water
Cooking spray (I used olive oil mister)
-if you want to fry, use canola oil

Preheat oven 425.
Melt butter in medium saucepan. Blend in flour. Add milk and broth to mixture. Cook and stir until mixture thickens and bubbles.  Add parsley, lemon juice, onion, celery, salt, pepper, and seasonings.  Let mixture cool. Then stir in meat, chill throughly.
With wet hands, shape mixture into 10-12 balls.  In 2 dishes, place breadcrumbs in one, and beat egg & water in the other (season egg mixture).  Roll each ball in breadcrumbs, then in egg mixture, then back in breadcrumbs.  Place on a non-stick baking sheet, sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crispy. If you want to fry, fry for 2-3 min, and drain on a paper towel.

I served ours with steamed green beans, and the kids had homemade Mac & cheese, blueberries, and strawberries.  Sorry, kids plates are the only pictures I took... Totally forgot to snap the adult plates.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Training for Half Craziness #1

I decided with the new year, I would run another half marathon... Crazy?  I like to think I am only half crazy, lol!  Last year, I finished my first half marathon (13.1 miles), in the Delaware Marathon Running Festival, with a time of 2:42:31 (really 13.46 GPS miles).  This year, I set a goal to try the same race again, and improve my time.  I am using the Runners World Smart Coach app, by Runners World Magazine.  You can set your desired training time frame, distance goal, race time/distance, current weekly distance, and how aggressive you want to train.  I love this app it's great even if you want to maintain or improve your current running ability, and not train for an actual race.

Ok, on to my training.... I have completed the first 4 weeks of a 16 week long training program.  This Training Thursday, I'm going to recap my last 4 weeks of running.  I will recap every 4 weeks or so, until the big race day.
This month was quite interesting as far as my training went.  The auto show season kicked into full gear, as did my training.  All of my training was done in hotel gyms, and on treadmills... for two main reasons, 1: I consider myself a fair weather runner (I hate running in the super cold) 2: I have been traveling to cold, snowy cities... enough said!  The first week's goal was 6 miles total, I actually finished the week with 7.5 mi.  I ran good easy runs on my run days, and did cross-training or yoga on my non-run days.  It was an easy first week.

Week 2 was just as easy, mileage goal of 7 mi, I finished with 8.3 miles.  We had some abnormally warm weather on east coast, so I ran outside at Glasgow park for my first run, then the rest of the runs were in a DC hotel gym.  I implemented a new cross-training routine, I found on Pinterest... 5-4-3-2-1.  It seemed easy and fast, boy was I wrong!  However, with yoga I really felt stronger heading into week 3.

Stronger... Yes... Crazy... Yes!  This week's (3) mileage goal was 9 miles... I finished the week with 12.5 miles. I increased my mileage too much too fast.  I have to learn to stick with the training program, because nothing good comes from increasing your miles too much too soon.  I continued including 5-4-3-2-1 and yoga as my cross-trainers.  In DC, I also walked a 5 mile sight-seeing tour of some of the monuments.  Which was awesome, until I went for my run the next day. All of the miles caught up with me, and my body hurt, especially my shins!

After such a tough week 3, I decided to treat myself to a new pair of running sneakers, as I do every year! Another treat was a much needed rest day.  I picked up my training after I flew to Syracuse, and finished the week with another 7 miles, even though my weekly goal was 10.  I was not feeling stronger... I was feeling sore (still) in my right shin and my right foot.... Great!  I kept my runs slow and easy, and continued to cross-train with 5-4-3-2-1.

Now, here's the thing, I've got 2 choices heading into week 5... Rest my leg/foot or forge through and bang out the weekly goal of 13 miles... What do you think?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wellness Wednesday

Baked not fried! Tonight, I made my mother in law's "famous" turkey croquettes, but instead of frying them, I baked them!  And the turned out yummy!  When looking at traditionally fried foods, swap out the hot oil for a hot oven.  French fries, bake 'em... Fried chicken, bake it... Fried fish, bread & bake them... Fried shrimp, taste awesome without all of the greasy oil... You can even bake bacon, the grease just drains off!  Cut the oil, cut the grease, and lower the calories of your favorite fried foods by baking them!  Stay well this Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stretch and Improve your Flexibility!

Have you ever wondered why you feel tight or stiff in the mornings, after a workout, or after a long day at work (stay-at-home parents you're included in this)... It's your level of flexibility, and it needs to be improved!  Now, I'm not saying we all should be able to slide into a split at a moment's notice, but we all should have good flexibility that fits with our lifestyle.  Gymnasts clearly have more flexibility than football players, but they each have the appropriate amount of flexibility for their jobs, and you can too.  Stretching, fortunately, doesn't require special equipment or a special gym, you can do it in your bedroom every morning or before bedtime.  However, be sure to always stretch after every workout,  no matter how easy or hard.  Yoga (you know, I had to plug my favorite) is also a great workout that focuses on stretching the body! Here are my tips for improving and increasing your flexibility levels, also some great stretches from Real Simple magazine's The Ultimate Daily Stretch.

Tips for Increasing your flexibility 
  • Commit to your flexibility routine, whether its a few stretches every morning or joining a yoga class, commit and stay dedicated.  Ideally, you should stretch for 10-20 minutes everyday.  Continuous, repetitive stretching will lend itself to great flexibility improvement.
  • Breathe Deeply, when stretching breathe deeply and slowly. It is crucial in stretching,it also calms the body during uncomfortable poses.  Deep breathing also oxygenates the muscles and allows blood to flow more freely helping to remove the lactic acid.
  • Breathe into your Muscles, this is something we do in yoga... It sounds more complicated then it really is... As you inhale, imagine the breath moving through your body down to the muscle you are focusing on.  As you exhale, watch the muscle relax and move deeper into your stretch.
  • Contract & Release, while in a stretch, contract (tighten) your muscle for 20 seconds, then release and move deeper into your stretch.  As the muscle is forced to hold a contraction it has the ability to relax greater during the release, which will help increase your flexibility. 
  • Repeat your Stretches, repetition is the key to increasing your flexibility. Repeat your stretch routine 2-3 times for optimal flexibility.

Here's a great stretch routine from Real Simple Magazine...
The Ultimate Daily Stretch 
For Your Upper Body -helpful if you sit at a desk all day, need to work on your posture, or carry tension in your upper body.
1. Place your hands on the back of your head and gently push it forward with your chin tucked. Hold for five seconds.
2. Now place the heels of your hands on your chin, fingers pointing toward your ears. Gently push your head back. Hold for five seconds.
3. Rest your right hand on the top of your head and gently press your right ear toward your right shoulder. Hold for five seconds. Repeat on the other side.
4. Raise your arms and clasp your hands above your head; imagine lifting and lengthening your spine. As you bend to the left, release your hands. Grasp your right elbow with your left hand and pull it to the left. Hold for five seconds. Come back to the center and repeat on the right side.

For Your Back -helpful if you are prone to lower-back pain or like to run for a workout.
1. Lie on your stomach, legs straight and feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders and slowly lift your chest up. Hold for 10 seconds.
3. Come to a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart and pointed to the right. Lift the toes of your right foot off the ground, bend at the hip, and fold your body over. Hold for 10 seconds.
4. Come back to a standing position and repeat on the left side with toes pointing to the left.

For Your Lower Body -helpful if you wear high heels or like to run, walk, bicycle, or use an elliptical machine.
1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
2. Lift your right leg off the floor, holding it with both hands. Flex your foot and hold for five seconds. Lower and switch legs.
3. While still seated, bend your right knee and lift your leg. Pull your knee to your chest. Flex your foot and hold for five seconds. Lower your right leg and repeat with the left.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Green Tea, are you for me?

Green tea, seems to be one of the newest health kicks, even though its been around forever! It seems to be in everything, even weight loss pills and face cream. But what does it really do for your health, and how should you consume it?  There have been more than a decade's worth of research about green tea's health benefits.  The results have been shown to fight cancer and heart disease, lower cholesterol, burn fat, prevent diabetes and strokes, while staving off dementia.  Green tea has important antioxidants and compounds that help in maintaining good health.  

Green Tea can Fight Cancer?Green tea has antioxidants, called catechins.  They attack the free radicals that can damage DNA and contribute to cancer and blood clots. Grapes and berries, red wine, and dark chocolate also have hardcore antioxidants.  Because of green tea's minimal processing (the leaves are withered and steamed), green tea's catechins, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), are more concentrated.  A synthetic form of EGCG was used in shrinking prostate cancer tumors in mice, with much success.  Even though, human studies haven't returned the same magnitude of success as the lab/animal studies. I am amazed by a few human studies that have shown drinking at least two cups of green tea daily slows cancer growth.  One study conducted in Japan, involved women with Stage I and Stage II breast cancer, found that increased green tea consumption before and after surgery was associated with lower recurrence of the cancers.  Studies in China have shown that the more green tea that participants drank, the less the risk of developing stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and colorectal cancer.  A recent analysis of 22 different tea & lung cancer studies, concluded that by increasing your daily intake of green (not black) tea by two cups may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer by 18%.  All in all, green tea's EGCG regulates and slows cancer growth and kills cells that are growing inappropriately with a 1-2 punch!

Green Tea can Heal the Heart?In a Japanese study, researchers found that drinking at least four cups of green tea every day may be related to the reduced severity of  heart disease among the male participants.  And a Dutch study found that the more tea consumed, the less severe the clogging of the heart's blood vessels, especially in women.  But note, lifestyle and overall diet were critical to the outcomes of these studies.  But green tea's antioxidants are dilators, they improve the flexibility of blood vessels and make them less likely to clog.  Antioxidant-rich blueberries and pomegranates can do the same.  Green tea, because of its antioxidant value, may have heart benefits, but it's not something Doctors regularly prescribe to people, because there isn't as much evidence as there is in exercise's ability to improve heart health.

Green Tea can Make you Lose Weight?Green tea and it's extract have been shown to fight obesity and lower LDL "bad" cholesterol (two risk factors for heart disease and diabetes ).  In the Japanese study, men and women were given varying amounts of green tea extract for three months. Those who got the highest amount lost fat and weight, had lower blood pressure, and lower LDL "bad" cholesterol.  Taking weight loss supplements that contain green tea extract probably won't hurt, unless you have liver problems.  But the best way to get the most out of green tea, even if your main goal is losing weight, is to drink it.  

The evidence certainly suggests that incorporating at least a few cups of pure green tea every day will positively affect your health.  However it's not going to cure anything and it should not be consumed as a drug.  It can certainly complement an already healthy diet.  When looking for green tea, stay away from "green tea flavored", or "green tea added", go for straight-no additive-natural green tea, either in bags or loose tea.  So, eat your fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, and go ahead, drink as much green tea as you want! 

 Resource: www.webmd.com

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wellness Wednesday

This Wellness Wednesday is coming to you on Thursday.... Valentine's day!!  A day of love!

Today, let your actions reflect benevolence, extending your kindness one to another.  Remember those special moments when someone touched your day, whether through a smile, kind word, cup of coffee, or a funny joke... It's the little things that make a world of difference.  Blessings come in small packages, so be blessed to be a blessing.  Stay well my friends!

Thank you to Shandell King for being my Valentine's day blessing & contributor!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ditch the Diet!

Every where you look there is a new diet, everyone wants you to try.  On the magazines, celebrity endorsements, on the tv, on billboards, you get the idea.  Do you feel overwhelmed or frustrated? I know I do!  How do you choose which diet is right for you?  Meal plans, raw foods, juicing diets, pre-portioned meals, count calories, count points, take these pills, don't eat carbs?  After the holidays, it seems like a lot of my friends and family look for fast fixes, to get them to their "summer body", and they're always asking me for advice.

Well, here you go... Ditch The Diet!
Live healthy, eat healthy, move your body, sleep, and be peaceful & positive.  Healthy living is not a quick fix, or the next diet craze... It's a lifestyle!  Loosing weight, lowering blood pressure, controlling blood sugar, getting your "summer body" requires healthy choices.  But I know you're wondering, well Ashley, what do you do?  I don't count calories, I eat smart!  I try to fill my body with whole foods, minimizing processed foods.  I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables!  I drink a lot of water, and I mean a lot.  I exercise, almost every day.  I eat breakfast every morning, even if its just fruit & greek yogurt.  I try not to eat after 9pm (for two reasons: 1. I feel like my food never digests all the way; 2. it always leads to crazy dreams for me).  I limit my alcohol consumption to special occasions.  I don't smoke, nor do I take many medications over the counter or prescription.  I am not on a diet.  When I choose to treat myself, I do, burgers, desserts, whatever, ask my friend Tiffany, or my husband!  I love sleep, and I try very hard to make sure I get at least 7-8+ hours a night!  I meditate and try to maintain a positive attitude.  I take care of my body, not because I want to look good in a swimsuit, but because I want to be able to live and enjoy my life with my children, and maybe play with my children's children.  If this body is going to last me another 60-70 years, I must take care of it now.
So, friends for your "summer body"... Ditch the Diet! Start living!  Embrace a healthy lifestyle, you will find that the "summer body" will be a healthier body, and will last all year long... Better yet, it will last a lifetime!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wellness Wednesday

Today the US Postal service announced it will stop mail service on Saturdays.  But let's take that a step forward, and reduce our paper use.  This Wednesday's tip, is to pay your bills online.  It will not only reduce our paper use and trash in our landfills, but it will also reduce the amount of sensitive information being thrown away.  Also, some utilities will even give you a small discount for using e-bills. A lot of times you can actually schedule your payment through your bank or the company directly, easy peazy!  I found by paying bills online, it also reduces the chances of things getting lost, bills falling through the cracks, and it helps minimize clutter in my house (yay!). Keep in mind, sometimes wellness Wednesday isn't just about your physical wellness, but our environmental wellness too, which can ultimately impact our physical wellness.  So this Wednesday, enroll in online bill pay, and help reduce our paper usage, and the load of mail the US postal carriers will have to deliver on Monday.

Friday, February 1, 2013

It's the First of the Month....

It's the first of the month (in my Bone Thugs N Harmony voice)... Lol... And what are you doing for your health?
February is an awesome month to reevaluate those resolutions and make adjustments, but stick to them, don't give up!
February is American Heart Month.  Take the time to make sure your heart is ticking properly.  Wear Red to celebrate Heart Health!  Learn and Know your numbers!  Study up on stoke warning signs, it can happen to anyone.
February is also Black History Month.  Yes, I want you to learn about Black Americans who have made history or are making history today... Wait there's more....  But more importantly, if you are a Black American, African American, or a descendent of, I challenge you to put your health first this month!  African Americans have much higher incidence of heart failure than other races.  Its the leading killer of African Americans, it can be called the silent killer, don't let it sneak up on you.  We must prevent heart disease, not only by getting checked, knowing our numbers and our family's medical history, but also by living a healthier lifestyle.  Eat healthy foods, get in 30 minutes of cardio exercise a day, lowering our stress levels, keeping our weight within normal limits.  We can also teach the African American youth to live a healthier life, which will not only help cut down childhood obesity, but help prevent them from any future health issues.
February is the month of Love... Spread love to all those around you, sometimes a smile can go a long way with a stranger! But if youre thinking of gifts for that special someone, consider usable/reusable gifts... Instead of disposable cards and flowers, give a gift that keeps on giving... A recordable e-message, reusable coffee mug, jewelry (hint hint), potted flower or plant... You get where I'm going here!
February is the month for Super Bowl, GO 49ers!! Don't eat too many wings!  Mardi Gras, have fun but be safe.  The season of Lent, make healthy changes instead of giving up something.
February 1st, is also my father-in-law's birthday... So, Happy Birthday Harry!  Wishing you many more happy, healthy, and positive years!  

Happy February Friends!!