I was showing Bob the calluses on my hands, and he said, "I have the same problem."  I said, "These aren't a problem; these are badges.  Badges of power!"

It had kind of just popped out of my mouth when I said it, but then I thought, it's really true.  Lifting has helped me feel more empowered.  There are some days when my hands hurt all day from where I've been gripping the bars, but I love the feeling.

That makes me think, I bet every person has things in their lives that are (or were) painful but that are also
For the most part, my workouts this week have been really fun and challenging.  I have decided to actively increase my weights.  I want to start lifting harder and stronger.  Of course, I don't want to injure myself, so I'll have to be careful.  One thing I'm doing is trying to stay in tune with my body and cut down on my reps if I need to.  If I know I'm increasing my weight, I'm being careful not to push myself too hard with the reps.  This week, I've cut some off at 10 or even 8.  12 reps is my goal, but I know I can gradually increase up to 12 before moving up to a higher weight.

It has been very exciting to see myself progressing with the weights.  I think for awhile there I was starting to feel a little stagnant, and then I hurt my shoulder a bit and was decreasing.  My side was also sore at one point, so I found myself holding steady.  

This week I've been able to increase, and I'm not feeling any weird injury-type feelings.  Yes, I'm a little sore.  Yesterday and the day before it was a little achey to walk, especially after I had been sitting for awhile, but I went in and worked out today, and I think it actually helped my sore muscles.  I warmed them up and really got the blood flowing through them, and I'm feeling much better now.  Yay!

So I'm super stoked.  I did have a fairly sluggish run yesterday.  I got held up at a stop light and it slowed down my pace, and I don't ever think I got back on track after that.  I tried to give myself permission to just slow down and enjoy the run, but it was pretty brisk outside.  My eyes kept watering.  I don't know; it just wasn't my best run ever.  But, it was a run, and I think it helped get my day started.  And I practically fell into bed last night and slept pretty hard.  I know that run really helped me get a better night of sleep.

So, something I was thinking about today at the gym (I always picture Homer Simpson in my head saying "gime" when I think of the word "gym").  Anyhoo!

So I was at the gym.  Doing the stiff-legged deadlifts, which were really hard.  And then I see one of my favorite people in all of the world.  And he's walking over to use one of the tools next to me.  And I start to get that weird socially uncomfortable feeling: oh my gosh, I need to say hi, I need to say something, if I don't say something, will I look rude?

That's when it hits me.  I'm at the freakin' gym!  People don't have to talk to each other here.  We get in our zones, we do our own thing.  You don't have to have meaningful conversation with every person you know, just because you happen to be working out next to each other.

And then I think, this is why I love the gym.  I can just come here, and just be.  I don't have to do what other people are doing, I don't have to be better than anybody else, I don't have to be witty.  All I have to do is just be me.  Perhaps it would serve me well to try to apply this little lesson in other areas of my life.

So that was my deep thought for the day.  I love the gym.  The end.
Keep running forward, but always take a moment to reflect on each benchmark goal you hit along the way.

Source: Active.com: Do This Not That: How to Learn from Common Running Mistakes
We've still got a lot to do to get ready for the holidays, but we are making slow and steady progress.

Christmas cards done and sent?  Check.
Griswold-esque trip to cut down family Christmas tree?  Check.
Halls decked?  Check.
First feeble attempt to make healthy holiday goodies?  Check.
Family visits coordinated?  Check.
Gifts purchased?

Gifts, purchased?

chirp, chirp...

Oh well, so we still have at least one (MAJOR) thing to get done :)

We do have a list.  We have a list, and with lists all things are accomplished, right?  The purchasing of gift will happen very soon, and then all will be right in our own little teeny tiny corner of the universe.

Until then, at least I can enjoy the decorations.

(served 2 adults, 2 kids, + 1 leftover to take for lunch the following day)
One night this week I experimented with a new recipe, and it turned out to be a real keeper!  In the spirit of the cheeseburger zucchini boats, this dish is called Chicken Parm Zucchini Gondolas.  We wanted it to feel Italian!  Seriously, seriously, good.  

I would rank this dish as tasting better than the cheeseburger boats, and the kids loved their kiddie versions of the dish.  In fact, when Taylor sat down to his plate, he said, "This looks good."  It was a special moment. 

 I'm going to do this post with the kiddified version, meaning that I will post it exactly as I made it, which includes cooking the meat and onions separately, so there would be a higher chance of the kids eating the chicken.
  • 2 big zucchinis
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 onion, diced pretty small
  • a few handfuls of reduced-fat, shredded mozzarella cheese1 tbsp. or so of Italian seasoning
  • healthy squeeze of the garlic that comes in a tube in the produce section (or sprinkle of garlic seasoning)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 3/4 jar of pasta sauce (we like Bertolli tomato basil)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Take your zucchinis and cut them in half, length-wise.  Use a pairing knife and a spoon to hollow out the middle of the zucchinis (and create your gondolas).
  • Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up!
  • Pop them in the oven to let them cook while you're making the rest of your meal.
  • Get your ground chicken cooking in a frying pan on medium heat.  I added a sprinkle of salt to the meat to help give it a little flavor.  Use a spatula or something to break up the meat into nice sized crumbles.
  • In a separate frying pan, saute your onions with seasoning, garlic, salt & pepper.
  • Once your chicken is browned all the way through, you can pull some aside for the kiddos.
  • Once you've pulled out the kiddie plain chicken, add your onions and seasoning mixutre into the chicken.  
  • Add the 1/2 to 3/4 jar pasta sauce.  I think it helped that I reserved about half the jar.  It kept the "gondolas" from being too saucy.
  • Once you've got everything mixed nicely, pull your zucchinis from the oven and the pan from the stove.  *Now is a good time to cut off some plain zucchini for the kids.
  • Take your saucy meat and fill up your gondolas!
  • Top the gondolas with your handfuls of reduced-fat mozzarella.  Enjoy a few shreddies for yourself while you're at it!
  • Pop it all back in the oven and turn the gauge on to Broil on Hi.
  • Keep a close eye on your gondolas and take them out just when they've started to get bubbly and brown.
This really was a fabulous dish.  The marinara sauce goes really well with the sort of meatiness of the zucchini, as well as the ground chicken.  And the seasoned onions really add a nice bit of texture, complexity, and taste to the dish.  You could do it without, but they are a nice touch.  It was really very filling, too.  I only had one of the "gondolas," so I could save the other one and have it the next day for lunch.  It reheated well and kept me full all afternoon :)