It's time to pay up. For me, the shortest distance between fat and skinny--oops, politically incorrect, what I meant to say is unhealthy and healthy-- is cardio and a lot of it. Did I mention that I hate cardio? I can deal with the bike but I do find it boring. I like the rowing machine but only my kind of workout will do and my kind of workout is rather time consuming. The StairMaster is a beast that I've conquered time and time again but it can get boring too. That leaves running. I hate running and running is the beast that's always the toughest beast for me to conquer. Running is something that needs to be conquered mentally and physically. If I don't get my mental on then the physical is just not happening. I need my mental, my physical and my breath. I need the three part harmony to win the battle and winning is the only option.
I don't run outside. Uneven pavement is not my friend so why take the risk? It's a treadmill battle. I choose interval training for the metabolism boost. At my age my metabolism needs all the help it can get. With ear buds in place and musical choices that can only mean a surefire win I shake it all out during those first few brisk steps. A few minutes at a quick walking pace then I hit the sprint button. The lungs start to expand and I search for the breath... got it. Now for the zone. I have to be in the zone or it just won't work. The zone is where I'll find that three part harmony. I search for and find that spot on the wall that I can focus on. That spot that will open up for me like a tunnel that separates me from the chaos around me. That spot that will help me tune out the rest of the world so that all I see is that spot. All I hear is the power of the music. All I feel is my heart pumping and the rhythm of the breath. Once I feel that harmony the battle is as good as won.
Several minutes in the zone and I hit the button again. Back to reality, back to that brisk walking pace--breathe, breathe-- and then I hit that sprint button again. I've already been in the zone so it's easier to find it again the second time. It's like a comfortable shoe, and off I go. Heart pumping and pounding, rhythm of the breath and that spot on the wall. This time I go a little longer and then I hit that button. Bring it all down to a walk, shake it out--breathe, breathe--and hit that button again. Heart pounding, rhythm of the breath and that spot on the wall. With each visit to the zone I stay longer and longer. With each visit to the zone I remind myself that I'm winning the battle, I'm conquering the beast. I win. Never give up. It's not an option. xo Michelle +My Baked Stuffed Life +Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro
It's been a while my friends and for that I offer up my sincere apologies. Many of my Facebook followers have seen my wailing posts of dismay over my having fallen victim to a horrible case of writer's block. It's been a bad one. I just couldn't shake it so I had to do a little research and a bit of soul searching to figure it all out and I did. That was the first hurdle, the second was actually coming to terms with the problem and conquering it and that's what I'm going to do right here and right now.
I toyed with the idea of keeping the issue to myself but decided against it because the underlying purpose of this blog journey I'm on has always been full disclosure in the hope that I'll help just one other person who might be going thru the same thing. It's never mattered what the issue has been-- what to make for dinner, self care, physical fitness, eating issues or missing home-- at the end of the day we really are all the same. We all struggle with this stuff from time to time and sometimes it takes just one person to say something, share a struggle or offer a suggestion, and it makes the light bulb go on, you have that "aha moment" and it sets you straight again. So here we go.....
I was going nuts with the blog posts, I was on one hell of a roll. There was no shortage of blog material because I was finding EVERYTHING interesting and the words just flowed and flowed and flowed. Better still was the fact that I was getting feedback from my AWESOME readers (you!!) which meant that I was reaching you!! How cool is that? The mission was being accomplished.
Then one day I came across a comment that really struck a chord with me. I had shared my blog on one particular site and an individual made a comment. This person had the opinion that the blog should not have been shared. Mind you, the comment was rather innocent and this person was not attacking me or the blog content, just the location of where I shared it. Seems simple enough-- innocent enough-- right? Well, I guess so except for one thing..... artists are inherently sensitive to anything remotely resembling criticism of their art form. Writing is my art form and that itty bitty comment (and the virtual shit storm of comments from other readers in defense of my blog that came thereafter) sent my confidence into the toilet and blocked my stream of consciousness and creative vein so full of cement that I didn't think I'd ever be able to write so much as a grocery list without wondering if it was good enough.
Great, I figured out why I had the problem, now what? I tried everything to pull myself out of it and nothing worked, until today. A friend of mine posted the following video on Facebook and it changed everything.............
I had to Believe. I had to remind myself that this is my passion. I love words and emoting and sharing and this is the stuff that comes naturally. God gives you gifts and its up to you to figure out what they are and make the best of them. I had to Believe in myself and trust in my abilities. It starts with me. I know what my intentions are, I know that I only want good things to come of this journey and I know that the words I share can and will touch someone out there and that just maybe it will help in some small way.
I sure hope the person I helped today was you...........
Here's some sugar for ya, how can you not love this kid?
+My Baked Stuffed Life +Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro
I woke before the alarm this morning. I use the term "woke" loosely as in order to wake one must have been asleep and sleep is elusive. Why? Who knows, it's just not part of the plan these days. I hurt and I mean everywhere. Its not a complaint but rather, a fact. I just hurt everywhere and I wonder how I'll get out of bed this morning. Yesterday was day one in the weight room. My daily workouts have consisted of classes--TRX, Tabata, Muscle Conditioning, Butts and Guts and on the off days cardio--Intervals, StairMaster, Rowing, Bike. I hate cardio. The only people who don't hate cardio are runners and I'm NOT a runner. I think I've squeezed about as much muscle definition as I can out of the classes so it's time to change it up again. I discussed this with my trainer, Chris Engel, and, of course, she's got a plan for me. Back into the weight room we go.
I worked my back and my abs yesterday-- with a few legs in the mix because the machine was there and I couldn't resist--and I can feel it, really feel it. Its pain but honestly it hurts so good. If you work out you understand that pain and you like it just as much as I do. That pain means you did something and that something gets you one step closer to your goal. That pain means accomplishment. I want more of that if you please. Chris will be designing a variety of weight training workouts for me and then she'll set me loose in the gym. I'll be on my own for a few weeks and then she and I will reconvene, probably take more measurements and then I'll get a new set of workouts and the process begins again.
While my workouts will be intensely weight training driven, I won't abandon the classes completely, I'll weave them in along with the cardio. When I train with weights, stretching becomes so much more important so I'll need to make use of classes that support lengthening and strengthening. Yoga and Pilates are perfect for that. Better yet, Chris's Barre class is perfect for that. It combines dance, Pilates and yoga techniques. I've taken it on occasion and loved it. She's also incorporated some Barre into the other classes she offers and it really makes a difference. You feel longer, you feel stronger.
Barre is a total body workout. Position, posture and core strength are important. Control is important. Focus and mind/body connection are important. Barre incorporates all of these elements while stretching and lengthening your body.
I need it today. I need that stretch and there's a Wednesday class at noon at Streamline Strength. Change up and Meet Me at the Barre............
XO Michelle +My Baked Stuffed Life +Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro
This is the best time of year for sports!!! The Red Sox are in the World Series and game one is just around the corner!!! Football is in full swing and while the Pats aren't looking their best, they do have a decent record and the games have been action packed and awesome to watch! With all these great games to watch you don't want to spend your time fussing about the kitchen slaving over a stove at meal time. You want something healthy that tastes good, is ready when you're hungry and is quick and easy to throw together. I've got just the right thing!!!
I will take NO credit for this recipe other than finding it on the internet. I was watching a cooking show and Paula Deen shared this gem of a dish--White Bean Chili. Quick, easy and yummy! Here's what you'll need:
Ingredients 1 pound dried navy beans 5 cups chicken stock 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter 1 tablespoon minced garlic--(I like garlic, I used 4 large cloves) 3/4 cup diced onion 1 1/2 cups chopped green chiles (fresh or canned)--(I just used 4-5 jalapenos) 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, finely chopped 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon dried oregano 1 to 2 teaspoons white pepper (black pepper is fine) Pinch of red pepper flakes 1/2 bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped You'll see that I did alter the recipe slightly to suit my families tastes. I have kids so the chili can't be too "hot" or they won't eat it. I used jalapenos and only 4 or 5 of them which is far less than the recipe calls for. I also took the seeds out to reduce the overall heat of the dish. I did not use the red pepper flakes--again, to control the heat. I do want to note that if you've never used cilantro before you will want to be careful. While cilantro has a wonderful and distinct flavor, if you use too much it adds a "soapy" flavor to the dish (any dish, not just this one). Odd, I know, but true. Careful on the cilantro. Add a bit and taste a bit, that's the way to go. My final note concerns the healthiness of this dish. Yes there is butter in it. If you consider a portion size and that there are 4 tablespoons spread out over every single portion then the amount of butter you are actually getting is negligible. Having said that, if you are concerned over saturated fats feel free to substitute a monounsaturated fat like olive oil instead of the butter. Here's how you do it:
Rinse the beans well, cover with cool water and soak for 2 hours (this step can be omitted if you use canned beans). Drain. Put the beans in a large pot with the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat.
In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, and chiles and saute for 5 minutes.
Add chile mixture to pot with beans. Add the chicken, cumin, oregano, pepper, white pepper, red pepper flakes, and cilantro.
Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 1 1/2 hours. You can also just throw it all in a crockpot on high at this point and it will be ready in the same amount of time.
Hope you enjoy it! Happy Game Day! xo Michelle
+My Baked Stuffed Life +Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro
It was Sunday morning and I woke early to an alarm that was purposely set for 4:45am. I'd had overnight guests who were hitting the road early and I'd wanted to see them off. Hugs, kisses and well wishes were over rather quickly and I was wide awake. Sunday classes don't start until 8am so I had quite a bit of time on my hands. That's a switch.....Rising early for my morning exercise routines has been getting harder and harder lately. Staying faithful to healthy eating has been a struggle as well. It wasn't until recently that I tied those two facts together.
When I started this journey back in May I was faithful to plan eating and faithful to exercising 4-6 times per week at 4am. I've battled with food all summer long and now that fall is upon us things are no different. I dropped 10 pounds.... then as much as 19 but I'm back at that point where I need to lose that last 10. My exercise routine has not wavered. It's the damn food. I love food. I love to cook and I love to eat.
I don't eat a lot of food but what I do enjoy eating is bulky carb-filled foods. There's nothing leafy or green about it. It's starch and gravy and bagels etc. Having said that it's not that I've even gone overboard with it, it's the fact that when I eat even one portion of the wrong kind of food it really creates havoc in my body such that I'm not hungry for the next meal or even the one after that. I'm busy too so if you add not being hungry to a busy schedule what you get is meal skipping. When you skip meals your metabolism shuts down. That's me in a nutshell. I went from 5 small healthy meals a day and 3 litres of water to maybe one or two meals a day and lots of coffee. Not good.
I told my trainer, Chris Engel, about my battle. She got right on it. We have fairly consistent conversations about it. She draws me in to conversations about what workouts we'll do, what I feel I need to fine tune on my body, etc. We talk about recipes and meal planning. It may sound crazy but I needed to be reprogrammed. It happens to the best of us. Your body is a machine, a mind driven, fuel consuming muscle machine. If your head isn't in the game, the machine can't run efficiently. If you don't put fuel in the engine, it just doesn't run. It's really that simple.
This battle isn't new to me and it certainly isn't over. Thankfully I've never been obese but I have always struggled with 10, 15 or 20 pounds. It could just as easily be 100 pounds. The battle is the battle and you approach it the same either way. One day at a time, one meal at a time and one workout at a time. You just have to keep going and that's exactly what I'm going to do.
The days are still warm but the early morning nip has not escaped me. While I haven't pulled out so much as a sweatshirt yet, the time does draw near so I figured I'd do a little organizing in preparation for the wardrobe change that's just around the corner. I pulled things off shelves and out of drawers. I separated by color and style and size. I was shocked to find that I had three different sizes of jeans--24 pair in all!! As I sorted thru them and stacked them by size my mind naturally drifted to shopping. Like most people who put on weight, I had to buy clothes that fit so I would simply buy (albeit reluctantly) the next size up. In looking at the freshly stacked piles I noticed that the largest pile of jeans were also the biggest size and many of the jeans still had the tags on them. How could this be? My weight gain had happened over a relatively short period of time--roughly a year-- and then I started the process of taking it off so how did I come by so many "large" pairs of jeans? I'll tell you how, I was "fat" in the head. I was so accustomed to being that "large" size that I would automatically migrate to it while shopping. I would only take that particular size in the dressing room, if it was a bit loose I would convince myself that it would shrink in the laundry process and ultimately fit. I was buying clothes that didn't fit, they were too big. In the mirror I still saw myself as overweight and didn't want tight fitting clothes. I was "fat" in the head.
Size matters. I have done all the right things to lose the weight, exercised religiously and really changed my way of life. I owe it to myself to buy clothes that fit! As you move thru your own journey give "size" some thought. When you approach and ultimately reach your goal, shop with care, make sure your clothes fit and don't be "fat" in the head!!
I just published a new post on my sister blog site, If These Walls Could Talk. I hope you enjoy it!! If These Walls Could Talk: Finding Home In Hamilton: The day was humid and overcast despite a forecast of clear and sunny skies. While damp hung in the air, my mood was as sunny as ever. ...
XO Michelle +Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro +My Baked Stuffed Life
School is in session and Mom's Taxi has never been busier. It's rides to school and back home again, rides to practice of this sort or that, a game, a party or a trip to the mall. I'm in the car and out again only to get back into the car. We eat on the fly and tote the dog everywhere but I keep in mind that these days are numbered and one day I'll miss having them all with me. I'll miss the giggles and the pleading cries for an ice cream stop. I'll miss the trips to the mall even if my only purpose was to pay the bill. I'll miss the opportunity to eavesdrop on swirling conversations about this boy or that, this girl or that and who is "going out" with who. I'll miss hearing voices singing pop songs out of key by little people who are not in the least embarrassed by what some would consider their inability to carry a tune. For now my babies are with me. Their friends are with me too. They are safe and they are happy and for that fact I count my blessings every day.
XO Michelle +Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro +My Baked Stuffed Life
I had the opportunity to go to a high school reunion a few weeks back. It wasn't my reunion but the committee that was hosting this particular soiree had made the executive decision to open it up to the bordering class years and so I contacted a few friends and we made a weekend of it. I live just over an hour away from my hometown but I don't get to visit very often. When I do I really enjoy taking a tour of what I still consider home.
Things have changed here but as I drive through the city that used to look more like a town I can still see the skeleton of what it used to be. It's grown new skin, the adornments are different but underneath it's still the place where childhood memories were made. It's where I had my first crush, held my first job, and did all the things that teenagers do. I fell in love here, I giggled and laughed here and I had my heart broken here. It's the place I left to go to college and the place I returned to only to leave again and make some other town in some other state my home. Now, it's the place I enjoy visiting every once in a great while when I need to touch my roots just one more time.
I always drive slowly through my old neighborhood all the while hearing the voices of childhood friends laughing in the streets. In my mind's eye we are playing kickball or football in the yard, building forts in nearby woods or just wasting the days away. I look at the homes and how they've changed or, in some cases, remained the same. Most are occupied by different families now, families filled with children who are making their own memories.
My tour continues and moves into town where I stop to take photos of the "tree and nut streets." I attended what was Elm Street Junior High School back in the day. While the sign that is perched up high on this grand building has changed, it's Elm Street Middle School now, the regal presence it has in this old neighborhood has not. I've always loved the look of it and I still do. It looms prestigiously. It was here that I attended my first school dance, got my first job at a local restaurant and where I first noticed a boy who shall remain nameless....
Still my tour continues and I am pleasantly surprised to find that some of the eateries I still crave today remain open with menus unchanged. Places like Poor Pierre's, Chicken N Chips, Roland's and Hayward's Ice Cream are all still here. A smile spreads across my face as I seem to recall a friend from very long ago owing me an ice cream cone. I stop in and repay the debt myself. While chocolate, vanilla and strawberry still grace the menu, they have new and different flavors now, more modern you might say. The ice cream is just as creamy and delicious as it once was but it's scooped by different people now.... I don't recognize one single face. I choose chocolate peanut butter cup and again I am pleasantly surprised that the portion sizes are still way too big. I eat my fill and continue on my journey.....
I travel along Main Street and find that it has been beautifully revitalized. There are new businesses and old but all have an updated in-town appeal. I make a mental note of the restaurants that I might try some day when I return.
Greeley Park is my intended destination and as I pull off the road I find comfort in the cool, green grass. I get out and wander aimlessly. A soft breeze blows and I hear it caress each and every leaf. Tranquility still lives here. I continue across the wide expanse of grass toward the park road that leads up through the woods. I look and I think and my mind drifts back to memories that were made here. I'd share them but what happens in the park stays in the park, I'm sure you understand.......
My tour is coming to an end but not before one last stop. I have to go back to my high school, it's the very reason I came to visit this time. I pass the police station and find that nothing has changed, nor has the access road, Riverside is it? I park along the roadside to snap a few distant pictures and I notice that very little of the school looks familiar. They seem to have built around the original structure in such a way that it's facade is almost unrecognizable. Panther prints are still in the crosswalk. I walk toward the school and circle it's perimeter. It takes a while, the school seems so much bigger now. Some things change and some things remain the same. The doors were all locked or I would have gone in. I peer through the windows and down the halls and more memories come flooding back. I loved high school. I had the time of my life within these walls. I'm sure there were good times as well as uncomfortable growing pains but at this moment I can only smile and remember happiness here.
Thank you for coming home with me, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. See you next time!!