Tag Archives: Health

Project ‘Get it Together’: Smoothies

One of the things we’ve done to “up” the nutritional value of our daily diet is making smoothies.

Zack and I have a smoothie almost every weekday. Typically, right after our morning workout.

It’s really not complicated. All you need is a blender, along with some veggies and/or fruits. Pick a blend of things you like.


Our smoothies almost always include kale, spinach, banana, flaxseed, chia, ginger, turmeric and milk.

In addition, we can mix in apple, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, carrots, broccoli, cucumber, yogurt, and coconut – all dependent on what’s in the fridge and what kind of mood we’re in!

Chop it all up, throw it in the blender, and let it whirl!


Do you make smoothies? What is your favorite flavor?

Project ‘Get it Together’: Smart Apps

Ah, technology. Plenty of things that you can say against it. But when it comes to our quest for a healthier life, we’ve made good use of technology.

There are a number of smart phone apps that we use to help us keep track of things.

My Fitness Pal (MFP): This app and website work great for setting goals and keeping track of calories burned and consumed. You enter your basic info (age, height, weight, etc.) and create a goal based on whether you’d like to gain weight, lose weight, or maintain. Each day, I can input what I eat, and any activities I complete (outside of routine things like walking to the store or cleaning the house). The activities actually come from the next app on the list, Runtastic.

MFP has probably been the most helpful app for us. I have a daily calorie goal. Thousands of foods are already in the database, so it’s easy to find the foods you eat and add them to your daily food diary. You can also connect with friends, so that you can encourage each other. It’s a great app for keeping track of your progress.

SIDE NOTE: I recently read an article that listed the ‘skinny rules’ from The Biggest Loser. One of those rules is “Stop Guessing About Portion Size.” So in order to really utilize the app and get a better understanding of what we were putting in our bodies, we also invested in a food scale. It was really inexpensive. I’m not obsessive about it, but it really does help to see what an actual portion of something looks like. Bonus: we can use it for measuring out coffee!

Runtastic: We use this app to track our physical activities. Like walking, running, hiking, biking, cardio. The cool thing is that this app works with MFP, so once linked, whatever is input here goes right into MFP. Just like MFP, you can add friends and cheer each other on. You can also set goals for yourself. You can manually enter activity, or track activity live.

iDrated: an app for monitoring water intake. Zack uses this one and really likes it. Water goal is based on gender, age, height, etc.

FitBit: I just started using this app, connected to my FitBit band. I’ll be doing a separate post about our fitness bands soon. But I really like this app. I can keep track of everything from MFP, plus water intake, steps, and heart rate.

Do you have any apps you use to help with your activities and health? What keeps you motivated?

Project ‘Get it Together’

What motivates you? What gets you up and moving? What pushes you towards change?For me, it’s a number of things.

Sometimes it’s simply a change of seasons. That typically means swapping out clothes – which usually leads to a bit of cleaning as well.

Sometimes it’s the prompting of a friend. Or a book. Or a documentary. Or some other outside source.

Sometimes it’s a number. The bathroom scale. A statistic. A birthday. (40 is just around the corner… and I am not sure how that is even possible.)

When it comes to motivation for change, Zack and I generally have to start big if we want it to really stick.

Right now we find ourselves in a phase of change – or at least an attempt! I’ve decided to call it Project ‘Get It Together’. It is touching on a number of areas of life. The way we eat. Our level of physical activity. My focus on writing. Gearing up for a couple of months in the states late this year. And other things.

So I thought I’d share with you some of the things we are working on, some of the tools we are using, and some of the reasons we feel motivated to ‘get it together’…

… Okay, not that we are falling apart or anything like that. But sometimes when I reflect, I see that things have slipped in certain areas of my life, and I want to get back on track…

And that is where we are now.

So here we go – ‘Project Get It Together’!

On the Table: Curried Sweet Potato & Lentil Soup


It’s a vicious cycle, I’ll admit it. We eat healthy most of the year. But then summer arrives, and our food choices aren’t quite what they should be.

So as we often do after the summer, we are getting back on track with our more typical eating habits and exercise routine.

Zack and I have also decided to take a break from meat, as we do once or twice a year. NOTE: I am not a vegetarian! And I know myself well enough to know this is not a permanent change. But I have found that reducing my meat intake works really well for me and my health.

The thing I’ve experienced in the past when cutting out meat is that I get bored with the same old recipes over and over. And that’s typically what ends it for me.

So this time around, I’m really trying to branch out and try some new things. Ten days in, and I’m feeling pretty positive! So far I’ve made lasagna, spaghetti, sweet potato & chickpea curry, tacos, spinach paneer, greek pizza, and kung pao cauliflower.

Last night, I tried a new soup. I used a few different recipes as inspiration and came up with this curried sweet potato & lentil soup. Everyone liked it, so we’ll definitely be adding it to the vegetarian rotation.

If you have meatless meal ideas you’d like to share, I’m all ears!

Curried Sweet Potato & Lentil Soup
1.5 lbs sweet potatoes, baked & skins removed, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 small carrots, diced
1 apple, peeled, cored & diced
Ginger (dried, or finely sliced, to taste)
1/2 cup dried lentils, cooked well and drained
1 can light coconut milk
3 cups water or broth
Curry powder (1 tbsp or more, to taste)
Salt & pepper, to taste

Place onion, carrots, apple and ginger in a pot with a bit of water. Bring to a boil and continue cooking until vegetables are tender. Drain. Place all ingredients in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender/stick mixer, blend the soup until smooth. Serve hot. If desired, you could top it with coconut milk, sour cream, or quark/kesam.

Here are some other recipes you might want to check out:
The Gracious Pantry’s Curried Sweet Potato Soup
BBC Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup
She Likes Food Curried Sweet Potato, Carrot & Red Lentil Soup
Taste.com’s Curried Sweet Potato Soup

A bonus, a surprise! (And my experience with Norwegian healthcare)

We’re getting an unexpected treat…

Mom and me at the ‘pink fountain’ in Sandefjord
during her last visit

Next week we’ll get a ‘bonus visit’ from my (Jenn’s) mom. We didn’t expect to be seeing her again until we visit the states next year.

But due to a little ‘medical surprise’, she is coming to help out for a few days.

I’m having surgery next week. But while the thought of having a hysterectomy isn’t exciting, there are much worse things I could be facing. And having mom here to help out – and to see our city during the holidays – makes it much more bearable!

In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t so bad. I’ve been very pleased with the Norwegian health care system so far. And on December 3, I will have surgery and will then hopefully be able to put all of this latest ‘adventure’ behind me.

That also explains part of why I haven’t been so active on the blog, or with life in general. I’ve spent lots of time at appointments and having tests run. And my energy level has been pretty low as well. So I look forward to getting back to normal activities and normal life!

So, are we shredded?

We finished our 30 34 Day Shred today. Yeah, it took a few days longer due to travel and some cross-country skiing. But we did it! (Our first post was HERE.)Level 1
When we started, I could not make it through Level 1 without pausing the DVD a couple of times. By Day 10, Level 1 was not a problem.

Level 2
This is where planks are thrown in. And where I decided that satan must have invented them. While we didn’t ever pause it, I did have to take several 5 second breaks at first. But by the 10th day, I was much better and made it through without stopping. Level 2 was tougher, no doubt about it.

Level 3
Another step up, and another slow start. But by the end, I could do most everything, and no breaks. Level 3 introduces Plyometrics: jump training. I modified some of these, as some of the jumping was too much impact on my knees.

Modification vs. Full Version
There are two ‘helpers’ performing two different levels of difficulty. Anita does modified versions that are generally easier (but not always, in my opinion). Natalie performs the full versions of all  exercises. I started out following Anita every time. By the end of each level I was able to keep up with Natalie pretty well. I did not use hand weights like they did (Zack used some weights). I will add those in the future. I did use a small towel for some resistance on some of the exercises.

I’m not about to post before and after pictures on the blog. No one needs to see that! 
We were active for all 34 days. We also made modifications to our eating habits, cutting back on sugar, and focusing more on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. We both lost some weight, but nothing drastic. However, I can see visible results in both of us. Things are tighter, firmer, etc. We both lost a few inches from our mid-section. My clothes fit better (I might need some new jeans!), and I am happier about the way things look in the mirror.

I am glad that we stuck to it and I think it works. We will likely continue to use the 3 levels periodically, in a rotation with other videos and activities. I think it is really good when you need to work out at home due to weather, the expense of a gym membership, or whatever other reason.

30 Day Shred

We have been focusing a lot on eating better, and being more active. I now bake most of our bread, and we are eating a lot more fresh vegetables and fruits. We have cut out a lot of sugar and don’t eat as much meat. While the first few days were difficult, everyone seems to be liking it now.But getting active in the wintertime is tough here. So Zack and I decided to start a DVD program last week: The 30 Day Shred. While it’s primarily designed for women, I read about a lot of couples going through it together. My husband is a good sport and agreed to give it a try.

So here’s how it works: a 20 minute workout, once a day, for 30 days. It’s split into three levels, so you do each level for 10 days.

And I think it just might be working. When we started Level 1 I couldn’t make it through without pausing. By Day 10, it was really no problem. Then Level 2 began yesterday, and I thought I was going to die! But I am happy to report that we have yet to skip a day, and after 12 days we are feeling better already.

I’ll report back later, and let you all know how it turns out!