Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Review: SASS Yourself Slim!

Hey friends! Guess what! Today is my 7th wedding anniversary. Hard to believe seven years have flown by in a hurry, but here we are and it’s been an adventure. Some might think it necessary that I wax poetic on this day, but actually, I’m going to talk about a book that I was given to review as part of the One2One Network.
S.A.S.S. yourself slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches by Cyntia Sass MPH, RD

For you loyal readers, you are probably familiar with the other review I did of her other book. At the time, it was the only diet book that I had read. Actually, until I received this new book, it remained the only diet book that I read. While I couldn’t adhere to everything in that book (because I was pregnant), I did take to heart her teachings, primarily remaining true to Slimming and Satiating Seasonings. With this new book, S.A.S.S. stands for Simple and Satisfying Solutions.
  • Emphasizes produce whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats, emphasizing portions and balance instead of calories.
  • Lists of quick and easy meals, and a meal-building puzzle to create your own sass.
  • It is vegetarian/vegan friendly, even incorporating coconut oil and dark chocolate as an indulgence.
  • Features fresh, whole natural, unprocessed and organic foods
That’s something I can get behind. I’ve reduced my beef/chicken/pork/goat/seafood intake to less than 5% of my diet. I just kept going, essentially, after I experienced several weeks of vegetarianism. You know what, guys?! I felt healthier, happier, and more balanced after that experiment. This is why I know the teachings of this book would work for me! Even better, there are real-life people in this book giving their testimonies with pictures. And not this instant 3 week weight loss, but over time weight loss of hardworking people keeping their noses to the grindstone putting in that work. It’s awesome!

I don’t normally concentrate on losing pounds, but let me tell you all a little secret. Ok, here goes (aaack, no more secret!)…since the beginning of the year, I’ve lost 15 pounds!!! No lie. Not only have I lost it, but I’ve managed to go maintain that weight loss for the past two months! Why is this a big deal to me, other than the obvious? Well, for starters, I have a faster per/mile completion. This also means I have less weight to carry around, which translates to less weight I have to use when I’m doing exercises where I use my own weight. This means that I’m closer to my goal of doing an unassisted pull-up! This means that I will be able to “pop” up on a surf board when I go surfing this summer. This means that I let my husband pick me up and I’m not self-conscious from feeling “too heavy.” I’ve also been lifting weights and my legs and arms are beginning to sculpt to what I’m more familiar with. My physical strength is catching up with my emotional strength. Being strong is the ultimate end goal. And health is what I’m celebrating with my husband tonight! My body has birthed two amazing daughters and has achieved a great many things. Because of the healthier lifestyle, I look forward to dancing for many, many years to come with him as my partner.

I plan on doing her 5-Day, 5-Food Fast Forward and will update you on my progress. If it works like she says, then boy howdy…I just can’t imagine being that small. I haven’t been that weight since my 2nd year of college, which was my smallest ever (at this height).

This New York Times Bestselling book was released March 20th and is available on Amazon. Go check it out!!

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Cynthia Sass, the creator and co-author of the New York Times Bestselling Flat Belly Diet presents her new break-through, 30-day weight loss program Cinch!targeted to end overeating, leaving dieters feeling full and satisfied while enjoying the best food combinations to burn fat and boost metabolism.
 




S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim is a 30-day plan in two parts. Part one is a 5-Day Fast Forward option that jump starts your results. It calls for four simple meals a day, made from just five foods: spinach, almonds, raspberries, eggs, and yogurt (or vegan-friendly alternatives). Cynthia selected these foods because each is filling, rich in detoxifying and health-protecting nutrients, and has been scientifically shown to specifically support weight loss. Using these five superior foods in various combinations daily for five days gives your body, mind, and taste buds a fresh start and will help you shed up to eight pounds quickly.
Part two is a 25-day plan (30 days if you forego the Fast Forward option) which also calls for four meals a day, but now draws from a broad but specific array of food choices. And with this part of the plan, you can easily drop a size in just one month. The Core is based on cutting edge research and three key rules that work in synergy to provide real and lasting results:
  • Rule #1: Eat Like Clockwork. Meal timing is important — you must eat breakfast within an hour of waking up and space the remaining meals evenly throughout the day, no sooner than three and no more than five hours apart, in order to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels and hunger hormones; reset and rev up metabolism; and keep feeling energized.
  • Rule #2: Think 5 Pieces 4 Times a Day. Each meal in theS.A.S.S. Yourself Slim plan is constructed as a unique “puzzle” made from five pieces: produce, a whole grain, lean protein, plant-based fat, and specific seasonings — or, as Cynthia refers to them, SASS (more about that below). Following the plan is as easy as knowing what the five pieces of the puzzle are and how much of each one to include at every meal. This becomes second nature within thefirst week. This simple approach allows you to consistently S.A.S.S. yourself whether you’re at home, at a restaurant, or on vacation. It’s as easy as choosing from Cynthia’s 100 delicious recipes or using the DIY chapter to build your own ‘5 piece puzzle’ meals.
  • Rule #3: Make Flavor Your Focus. S.A.S.S. — the fifth piece of the puzzle (above) — stands for Slimming and Satiating Seasonings: vinegar, citrus juice or zest, hot peppers, tea, and herbs and spices. These five additions not only add flavor to the meals without excess calories or sodium, they are scientifically proven to maximize your body’s fat-burning furnace and are rich in antioxidants, which have been linked to lower body-fat levels, even without dieting.
The book also includes chapters on emotional eating, falling in love with walking, and an entire chapter devoted to the health and weight loss benefits of the daily dark chocolate escape. On this plan you can shed pounds while enjoying satisfying recipes, such as Berry Almond French Toast, a Smoked Gouda and Grilled Onion Salad, Ginger Pear Smoothie, and Shrimp Creole. Vegetarians, vegans, and those following a gluten free diet can also follow this plan to achieve sustainable weight loss success.
S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim teaches you how to get your body back, and refocus your attention and energy where they should be — on living and enjoying your life.

**As a member of the One2One Network, I was asked to review this book. As such, I am eligible to receive one of five $50 gift cards for my participation, but in no was was that an influence in my review. The opinions in the review are my own.**

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter 2012

All week, my nerves had been on edge, not only because we’d lost our family dog and my youngest turned 1 (time goes too fast!), but because for the first time in a long, long, LOOOOONG time, my Grandmother would be joining our annual family Easter weekend.



Easter is a tremendously special time of year for me. Not only does it signify rebirth, renewal of spirit and, but to me, it signifies family. The heart and core of what it means to be a family. Egg hunts, coloring eggs, making cascarones, bbq, deviled eggs, laughter, Tejano music, confetti spread all over our lawn, aprons, new shoes, hats, baskets, memories…all of that.

On Friday afternoon, we had plans to take a family photo session. Knowing this, I scheduled an appointment with a BFF for a blowout. If you know me, you know the fits I have with my hair. I love it and loathe it. But this…the blowout…it was worth it! If you follow me on Instagram, then you know the before.

I just had to maintain that look for the rest of the day. No big deal, right? But the day flew by quickly! One by one, they arrived from out of town. I received the text from my sister that my Grandmother had landed. Immediately, we went into full court press-cleaning frenzy at home (thank you Primo & Prima!). Then, it was just to a point to where, it was what it was and that was that.

Mom and Dad arrived and my children squealed with delight at the sight of their grandparents. My sister arrived with her family and Grandma/Bisabuela. When we were settled, we gave mom her 60th birthday gift. (more on that later) Then, we gathered ourselves to go take family photos. Thanks so very, very, very much to Mrs.Mandi and her crew for coming out to help capture these photos. I really didn’t want to look like the idiot running to beat the timer. I mean, I’ve done that many times, but this image had to be perfect. And you know what, it was!



You know what else was perfect? This one…



fighter personified. How healthy and happy she looks, despite all that she’s been through this past year.


*~*~*~*


There were more than a few moments that I had to scurry off to cry out of sheer happiness. There were many more where I stood firm and let the tears flow. And there was laughter, plenty, plenty of laughter!

family

My most favorite moment is when I arrived home from running errands and my mother and grandmother proudly proclaimed that they had swept the patio and were willing to help out with whatever else. These fragile women, were far from frail. They are very much able-bodied and strong. Once upon a time, I might have been offended by their offer to help. Not feeling adequately prepared or clean enough. The current version of myself, appreciates the help and knows what it means when it is not only offered, but also the gift of accepting the offer to help. We were going to be having Tesla’s 1st birthday party and there was still stuff to do!

So I pulled out the old card table and set it up in the breakfast area, gathered all of the ingredients and tools, and set them to work. My mother chopping fruit for a fruit salad, my grandmother making guacamole and deviled eggs. I put on some Motown, and I danced in the kitchen with Tesla on my back, listening to them talk and reminisce. I seriously wish I would have recorded them. But that memory is etched in my mind. That memory has made that room special and hopeful instead of full of sorrow (because it was Guapo’s room). Women in the kitchen, talking and cooking…platicando y cocinando, los mujeres de la casa. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. If Mari hadn’t been napping, she would have been cutting veggies, too. Dad and Brother sat in the living room blowing up balloons with helium. They were talking and reminiscing too. Eventually, I turned off the radio just to be still and listen to them.

Once the dining room was set up to my liking, I went to grab the mop to clean the floor and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I had run the vacuum over it to pick up the crumbs, but I was not emotionally prepared to wipe away the lick marks made in the wood left by Guapo when he scavenged. Even though the floor looked filthy, it would be my way of having him there. My niece, with her heart of gold, remembered Guapo simply by saving a single cascarone and cracked it on his grave. Through tears, I grinned and reminded her that he would have licked her ankles in gratitude. She smiled and remembered that gesture, too.



Easter Sunday, we had overcast skies threatening rain. We didn’t wake up early enough for the first Mass. As we walked to our service, I prayed that the rains would hold off long enough for us to not get poured on. We were lucky because they didn’t! They even held off just long enough for Don to grill some steaks. Mom made potato salad. I had half a steak. Even though it was good, I decided to continue my 98% fruit/veggie diet.

That evening, we went to my sister’s for Easter dinner. I rode with my brother over there. At this point in time, the rains had stopped and we had this gorgeous sunset!



She’d made ham, potato salad, steamed asparagus, deviled eggs, and lemon torte. We watched the end of “The Help.” I sat in the corner watching Mari help herself to my mother’s food. I watched my Grandmother as she told her stories. Even though Tesla was at the end of her rope and we had to leave, I didn’t want to. I was holding tightly to stretch out that moment and make it last as long as possible.

I hope each of you had a wonderful Easter.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday Tesla Jane

I have struggled with emotional highs and lows for as long as I aware of emotions. For a long while, I thought there was a part of me that was deficient and broken, only to realize that it’s a part of who I was.
When Mari was born, her laughter was wild and contagious. I dare you to be around her when she’s having a giggle fit and not at least crack a smile! With Tesla, she has this smile and calming nature about her. It’s amazing. When she was born, I felt my heart grow and the love for her has become immeasurable.


This past year, my rainbow child has brought about much happiness and sunbeams. I’ve lost a lot of sleep, but more because I find it difficult to stop staring at her. While life with two small children has been difficult at times, I can’t imagine a time in my my life where I have felt more filled and satisfied.

My dearest Tesla Jane,
My heart swells with pride at all that you are. You have 5 tiny teeth, light brown hair with the beginnings of curls, a fair complexion, and hazel/brown eyes. You are a 22 pounds and 29 inches tall. You enjoy eating avocado, eggs, and bread. You love playing with your sister, especially Barbies. You also enjoy stacking your large blocks, destroying block towers, clapping, standing, singing, and dressing up. You are a toddler now. Literally, walking 5 steps, falling, getting back up, and walking again. You are quite verbal, too. You really enjoy it when we read books to you. You want nothing to do with the television, which is a good thing. Happy Feet 2 will capture your attention for about half a song, but that’s it. You love music. All sorts of it, really, but Classical music and acoustic guitar always captivate you. That’s my girl! You are more than happy to hang out in the Beco carrier instead of the stroller.

We still share a bed and when you slumber, your tiny head is covered with sweat. I could watch you sleep forever. I made my goal of maintaining a nursing relationship with you until you were a year old! Weaning will prove difficult, I’m certain! As will transitioning you to your crib. Large in part because I really enjoy sleeping next to you. I especially love it when you awake on your own and you slap my face, saying “mama” with that magnetic smile. You joyfully welcome the day that way! In the mornings and most weekends, I do elimination communication with you, since you absolutely refuse to sign and you have yet to learn the words for pee/poop.

You are an observer, like me. So much of your personality right now is exactly how I was as a child and I think for that reason I can relate to you. You aren’t nearly as opinionated about your clothing choices as I would have expected. You don’t really like wearing your shoes, but you enjoy playing with mine.

Thank you, Sugar Baby for bringing the light to my soul. You are an amazing little person and I’m so very, very, very blessed to be your mommy. Happy first birthday!

Love,
Mommy!


5 weeks Bath Time 2011 - -27 5 weeks Bath Time 2011 - -1


love you always, Sugarbaby <3

Monday, April 2, 2012

Life Lessons

Guapo: January 30, 2001 - March 31, 2012
When I was about the Sugarbean’s age, we had a miniature dachshund named CJ. Oh how I adored that dog! CJ was a digger, as par for the course for that breed and one day, not long after we had him, he dug out and was free. I never forgot him. Naturally, when I was on my own, I wanted to find another miniature dachshund to have as my very own. Saturday evening, I came home from a busy day and discovered my buddy had passed on. He looked like he was asleep in his cage. I don’t know what happened, exactly. In hindsight, I knew something was going on. Recently, he’d had a whole lot of stomach issues, but that tended to ebb and flow, especially now that he’d gotten older. He shared 11 beautiful years with me.



In 2001, Guapo came into my life and fit nicely in my hands. He was tiny, but spunky and knew immediately that I was his mommy. Those first nights, he cried so very much in his tiny crate, that I relented and allowed him to sleep with me. Each morning, those first few months, I’d awake with him pawing at my hair so I would let him out. In those early years, he was my running partner, logging 2-3 miles, which is pretty amazing when I think about it. It’s been 9 years since I first met Don. I was nervous on that first trip out to Kansas to meet his family, but he was right there with me. We were both welcomed with open arms.

We had the usual issues with marking in the house, and even though it irritated me to no end, I knew he wasn’t proud of it. He would always slink away, with his tail between his legs and retreat to his crate. But none of that mattered because he was always there. Always by my side. Each heartache, each sickness, each pregnancy, he would crawl up next to me and comfort me. He taught me so very many lessons, but the biggest of them...the true meaning of unconditional love.

He loved babies. He was born two weeks before my niece and was 5 months old when we went to live with my sister for a couple of months. During that time, he bonded with Z and became quite protective and attached to her. When I was pregnant with Mari, he would lay near my belly, sometimes his head propped on top and she would kick away. He never looked at me weird or walked away. If anything, he snuggled tighter. The day we brought her home from the hospital, we found him under her swing, with his bone in his mouth. We caught him trying to give her his bone.


One of his many talents was being a sleep aid. When I needed to nap, he would crawl up and next thing I knew, I was passed out. I could nap for 15 minutes and feel like I slept for 5 hours. Everyone who came to visit us knew him as the sleep kryptonite. If he crawled in your lap, odds were, you would pass out. Few were able to resist this. Our friends and family who visited, did not find it uncommon to wake with Guapo nestled in them. He was a friend to all.
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Wow, did he love a celebration! Birthdays were filled with people and treats and singing! The only dog I know to sing happy birthday along with the rest of us. He would really get into it, too!


Fall afternoons were filled with watching football. He would go nuts when I would celebrate a touchdown. He would sing right along with me when I sang the Tech fight song. I’d like to think he was an avid Red Raider fan. Christmas morning was filled with excitement because he looked forward receiving his own gifts. The 4th of July were filled with sparklers and fireworks. He’d sit right there with us in the parking lot. And Easter…cascarones and treats from the grill. I think it was his most favorite holiday.
Easter Family 2011-47

It’s those everyday sounds that he made that creep up and bring out the heartache when I least expect it. His long nails tapping on the floor, stomping on the plastic liner in his crate out of excitement or nervousness. His tail twhacking the cage, the floor, the wall. His collar jingling. Licking…oh the constant licking. The familiar bark when anyone came to the door. The bark when the wind blew and he thought someone was at the door. The ringing of the bells to be let out to bask in the sun.



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We laid him to rest in our backyard. Our friends came over for a service. We shared a meal together, the first one where I wouldn’t later catch him licking the floor for scraps. Don spent part of the afternoon making a coffin for him. It was a sunny afternoon and he would have enjoyed laying in the sun. He and Mari dug the hole for his final resting place. He enjoyed lounging in that shaded area because it allowed the right amount of sunlight through. Plus, he liked to eat the tall grass and smell the jasmine. Don wrapped him up in one of his favorite fleece blankets, and propped his head on a pillow. We all said our goodbyes and signed the lid with our sentiments. He was laid in the ground, and we blanketed him with a bed of fragrant flower petals. We lit sparklers and I said a prayer for him and gave thanks for his friendship.

As I looked around, I saw the many faces of my friends. I was ever, ever so grateful they were there. We had so much outpouring of love and support, I’m truly and completely humbled and honored. He was a wonderful friend, who lived a great life, and was touched by so many. Thank you all! Rest in peace, buddy.

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