Everything Is a Gift – Even the Pimple on My Chin

I hate it when people ask me, “What are you grateful for?”  Not because I’m not grateful for anything, but because there truly are so many things – yes, including the pimple on my chin.  (More on that crazy statement later.)

It’s hard to pinpoint everything that I’m grateful for.  I feel like if I limit myself to one list that fits on a piece of paper (or on a blog post of a reasonable length) I’m not hitting on everything that’s worthy of being called out.

Peruse some of the other blogs out there that were posted today and over the past few days, and you’ll find many a “What I’m Grateful For” posts, most of which list “my family, my friends, my home, my health, etc.”

I by no means discredit any of these things because they are definitely some of the most important things in life.  But there are two issues I have with these types of list.

Firstly, some people call out only those things that they view as being great because they compare them to things that they view as not-so-great.

For example, one of my friends hates her job.  You probably won’t find “I’m thankful for my job” on her list. 

But if she were to really step back and look at her situation, she’d realize that she should be thankful for her job 1) because she has one, 2) because she has actually met some interesting people there, and 3) because the situation she is in has been the trigger for her to start re-evaluating her career so she can finally figure out what she truly enjoys.

There is always something to be grateful for in any situation.  Every adversity or failure carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

Secondly, some people overlook some of the simple, yet quite significant things in life.

Life is a series of events.  Some events seem more significant than others, but they’re all events that shape you into who you are.  I’m a true believer that we’re all connected and that everything is a gift.  I believe that everything and everyone we encounter touches our lives whether we like it or not, and we in turn touch other lives whether we like it or not.

The beautiful sunrise on the way to work, although at face value might seem insignificant and irrelevant, might put me in a better mood, and so when I get to work I smile at the stranger passing in the hall, which makes his day a little brighter, so he treats his co-worker amicably, so she in turn does her job better that day which allows her company to service their customers better, so their customers are in a better mood and treat their spouses better, and so on and so forth.

You see, it all matters.  Everything is a gift.

This is why I sometimes feel overwhelmed when people ask me what I’m grateful for.  There is so much. 

But, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, and to jump on the “What are you grateful for?” blogging bandwagon, I’ll attempt to list the first five that pop into my head, in no particular order.  I’ll group together the obvious ones in #1.

  1. I’m thankful for a) my husband for supporting me and all my strengths, weaknesses, and quirks, b) my family and friends for being there and being themselves, c) my health because it allows me to be me and pursue my dreams, d) my job for for allowing me to grow as a person and expand my skills and comfort zone, e) my home for sheltering me and my husband and for being a place of sanctuary.
  2. I’m thankful for my car because it reminds me that I am blessed with financial security and abundance.  I’m thankful that I have the choice to ride in a car, take the bus, or walk.  I’m also thankful for the seat warmers because my butt likes to be toasty warm in the morning.
  3. I’m thankful for the huge pimple that is currently on my chin.  It has reminded me to drink more water which will be good for my overall health, to take my fish oils which will help with my hair, skin, heart, and brain health, and to start eating more cleanly again.  This pimple will help me stay healthy!
  4. I’m thankful for my crazy dog, who makes me smile every single day. 
  5. I’m thankful for the argument I had with my husband last weekend when I asked him to turn the car around because I forgot something at home.  It helped us both to learn to be more patient with each other and to think before reacting and lashing out at each other.  And even though it will more than likely happen again, it might help us down the road when the argument isn’t quite as petty.
  6. I’m thankful for each of you, who allow me to do what I love – write about stuff I care about and that I think might be helpful for others – who actually listen to what I have to say, and who allow me to share a piece of myself with you.  You’ve truly been a part of my growth and happiness these past couple of months.  I only hope that I’ve impacted you in even a minute way.

Okay, I lied.  I know that was 6 and not 5.  I just couldn’t stop at 5!  There are so many more, but I would have to make this a book if I listed them all.

As do many of the other blogs, I too challenge you to write down what you’re thankful for.  You might be surprised how many you can come up with if you really let down your guard and open yourself up to the possibility that everything is in some way a blessing.

Here’s to you and yours this Thanksgiving.  May we all be truly grateful!

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Yummy, Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

So I know my last post was all about indulging this Thanksgiving.  And although I still say you should go for it IF you can uphold the three points I mentioned – 1) moderation is key, 2) remember there are consequences to your indulgence and accept them fully, and 3) promise yourself that it’s for Thanksgiving Day ONLY – there are still some of you who want to make your Thanksgiving meal a healthy one.  If you’re one of those people, props to you!

In fact, even though I still plan on eating pumpkin pie with whipped cream, leche flan, and creamy mashed potatoes, I think I’ll help my mom with the cooking this year by trying out a few healthy Thanksgiving recipes. 

For this post I’ve compiled some ideas that I found all over the place.  Some are from other blogs, some are from food and nutrition sites, and some are floating around in my head.  After you’ve let the food digest after Thanksgiving dinner, add a comment and let me know how some of these recipes worked out for you.  Enjoy!

Salads

  • Arugula and Pear Salad* – I love any salad with fruit on it.  Especially pears.  If you don’t like the bitterness of the arugula, even though the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar should even it out nicely, I’m sure you could nix it and just go with the butterhead lettuce. 
  • Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Walnuts, and Pomegranate Vinaigrette^ – I personally would substitute the dried cranberries with fresh pomegranate seeds since it’s kind of hard to find unsweetened dried cranberries and since pomegranates are in season.  This salad is a triple whammy – three power foods in one: spinach, packed with vitamins A, C, and folate; walnuts, packed with omega-3 fatty acids (good for your heart); and pomegranate, packed with antioxidants.

Main Course

  • Roasted Turkey – You gotta have this one.  And turkey is probably one of the healthiest items on the menu as it is.  As an article called Substitutions Make Holiday Fare Healthier suggests, instead of basting it with butter, baste the turkey with its own juices and consider removing the skin after cooking.  Oh, and oven roast the thing; don’t deep fry it.  It’ll be much less fatty, and you significantly decrease the chance of burning your house down.

Side Dishes

  • Roasted and Pureed Cauliflower^ – If you’re starchy carb conscious, try this alternative to mashed potatoes.  It’s quite garlicky and yummy.  Just keep in mind that it’s cauliflower – not potatoes – so don’t expect it to taste like potatoes.  Also, try using non-fat or low-fat milk instead of whole.
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes – And if you just can’t live without the potatoes, try sweet potatoes instead.  They’re packed with all kinds of vitamins and minerals, higher in fiber, and lower in calories.  Slice ‘em up, toss them with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and whatever herbs you like.  Throw them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.  I personally like to drizzle white truffle oil over them.  Mmmmm….
  • Stir-Fried Green Beans with Lemon, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts** – Try this instead of green bean casserole.  Because let’s face it – who actually likes that stuff?  Be sure not to get too carried away with the oil and parmesan though.  You don’t want overly oily and salty green beans.  This dish should be light and refreshing.
  • Whole Wheat Stuffing with Sage, Italian Sausage, and Pears** – I don’t know about you, but stuffing is a must-have on my Thanksgiving table.  Try this alternative with whole wheat bread and turkey sausage.  Oh, and don’t cook it in the turkey.  It’ll just end up absorbing all the fat from the turkey, and in order to cook the stuffing, you’ll probably end up overcooking the turkey.  (Yuck, who wants dry turkey?)

Desserts

  • Pear Crumble* – This one sounds good and nice and easy to make.  Try to go a little easy on the brown sugar and maple syrup though. 
  • Squash Cheesecake Bars* – Surprisingly low in calories, fat, and carbs for a cheesecake recipe.

Beverages

And for some great ideas on what to do with all that leftover turkey, check out my husband’s latest blog, Creative Fat-Blasting Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes.

Happy Healthy Thanksgiving!

 

*   Taken from EatingWell
** Taken from Kalyn’sKitchen
^  Taken from Food Network
^^Taken from Natural Health Magazine

Let’s Indulge this Thanksgiving!

Ah, Thanksgiving.  My favorite holiday of the year.  Every November I look forward to waking up to the smell of turkey roasting in the oven, the sound of my mom clanging around in the kitchen, and the sight of my dad thumbing through the newspaper while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade plays on the TV.

It brings a certain warm and fuzzy feeling.  You know the one – the one that makes you feel like you’re six years old again.  It’s a Thursday, and there’s no school.  The countdown to Christmas is finally starting.  And you’re about to eat the biggest meal of the entire year.

Succulent Thanksgivingturkey, creamy mashed potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce.  Savory stuffing, crisp green beans, decadent pumpkin pie with whipped cream.  And since I’m Filipino, fluffy white puto, peanut buttery kare kare, silky leche flan.  My mouth is already watering just thinking about it.

Food is an amazing thing.  Not only does it nourish your body, it brings family and friends together.  It satisfies your palate and your stomach.  And it has the ability to bring back nostalgia and memories.  It’s truly magical.

So what I’m about to say just may get me blacklisted in the fitness blog community, and my husband just might yell at me.

I propose that we all indulge this Thanksgiving.

[Screech!] Whoa, what?!?!  You want me to eat all that stuff?  What about my goals?  What about eating healthy?  What about steering away from the desserts, carbs, cocktails, and sticking to one plateful of food?

Okay, okay.  I don’t propose that you stuff yourself into a coma.  Until you couldn’t possibly move from the couch after you undo the top button of your pants, and you feel so sick to your stomach as you pass out for the rest of the night.  Because let’s face it – that actually ain’t all that fun.

I’m simply saying, enjoy yourself.  Thanksgiving comes but once a year.  Yes, it’s about giving thanks.  Yes, it’s about family.  But let’s be honest.  It’s about the food too.  Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the banquet.  If you, like me, are fortunate enough to have a table spilling over with food on this blessed day, you should enjoy it.  Enjoy that God gave you the gift of enjoying the savor, the sweet, the salty, the crunchy, and the creamy.  Enjoy the memories of festive parades and family football games that pumpkin pie and candied yams bring.

So while most fitness experts will tell you to skip the sugary desserts, drink fruit juice instead of cocktails, and load your plate up with salad so there is minimal room left for the mashed potatoes and stuffing, I’m telling you the opposite.  Enjoy the pumpkin pie, sip a martini, and make sure to get your fair share of the mashed potatoes and stuffing before your 15-year-old nephew hoards it all.

I will give you a few things to keep in mind however:

  1. Moderation is key.  Like I said, don’t stuff yourself for goodness sakes.  You’ll just end up feeling uncomfortable and sleepy.  Yes, eat a slice of pumpkin pie, but it shouldn’t be a full quarter of the entire thing!  Remember that it takes 20 minutes for your body to feel full.
  2. Remember there are consequences to your indulgence and accept them fully.  You just may feel like crap the next day.  If you do decide to eat all those goodies, understand that and accept it as a consequence.  Take responsibility the next few days to eat clean, drink plenty of water, and push yourself especially hard during your workouts.  (Skipping any workouts is NOT an option!)
  3. Promise yourself that it’s for Thanksgiving Day ONLY.  Most people make the horrible mistake of eating like crap for the entire holiday season.  It especially starts with Thanksgiving.  That’s when all the Christmas cookies start showing up at work, the cafeteria features gingerbread cake almost every day, and your weekend schedule is jammed with friends’ holiday cocktail hour. Don’t fall into that trap!  You’ll only hate yourself when the New Year rolls around.

So, this can be a tricky thing.  Allowing yourself to indulge for that one day can easily lead to moments of weakness throughout the holiday season.  You must have a strong mindset, discipline, and a strong commitment to yourself.  But if you truly feel confident enough to make it work, I say go for it.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!  I know I will.   Pumpkin pie, here I come!

Pumpkin Pie

*Obligatory disclaimer that my husband asked me to post: The opinions expressed in this blog do not reflect the opinion of Element 5 Fitness or the Element 5 Fitness staff. They are solely the responsibility of the author. (That’s me!) I am not a personal trainer nor a nutrition expert. I am merely sharing with you my thoughts, opinions, and what has worked for me. [End Disclaimer]