Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again

Spring break is definitely over. I hit the ground running on Monday and it looks like it's not going to slow down for the next three weeks. I've got projects out the wahzoo to grade, students to meet with and register for fall classes, lectures and classes to plan...(cue the violin music)

OK--I won't be a Debbie Downer about it. I'm going to put my nose to grind stone, work hard when I have to work, and celebrate with a Hideaway's pizza and a big glass of wine at the end of it. Just for clarification, Hideaways' Pizza is a local Oklahoma pizza chain that has the best pizza in the world. Seriously. So it's a nice way to treat myself after all that work. Oh. And puppy time with Penelope....BECAUSE SHE'S COMING HOME IN TEN DAYS!!!

I cannot contain my excitement for this new little fur ball to start roaming our house. Yes, I'm sure the first couple of weeks will be an adjustment for us all--the early morning walks, the traumatized kitties battling the new invader, the new land mines in the backyard, etc. But you know, we'll be just fine and having that little cutie here will be totally worth it.

When I have a challenge set in front of me, I know I have two choices: freak out and panic OR take the bull by the horns and charge on. Most of the time I can do just that...after a little writing a blog for the day...but charging on can be a challenge. So I set myself things to look forward to at the end of it all, like pizza and a puppy. When I start to panic, I take a deep breath, pull myself together, and say, "Julie, you can do this. It's not the hardest thing in the world. This is all doable and completely possible. Just get your butt in gear and keep moving forward."

*Sidenote: I talk to myself A LOT. Keeps me sane, you know?

Well, anyway, it's time to get back to work, grade some papers, and keep moving through the stack. I'm going to make sure I reward myself with some blogging down time now and again this week. Happy Hump Day!

How do you get yourself through busy times? 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

StrawB Banana PB Smoothie

Any time I can find a way to put peanut butter into something, I will do it. And when my mind settles on a certain concoction to make, I have to do it. So Friday I got a little crazy with my afternoon pick me up. Well, not really crazy, I just mixed up the flavors of my favorite Chocolate Banana Smoothie.

I had a hankering for a strawberry smoothie yesterday like no other, but since it was a meatless Friday for me, I needed my smoothie to stick to my ribs until dinner. Of course peanut butter came to mind as a protein source since I kinda sorta absolutely adore it. Adding a banana for potassium and soy milk for that creamy texture, I think I came out with a repeat smoothie!

StrawB Banana PB Smoothie

1 banana
4-6 frozen strawberries
3/4 cup of soy milk (or regular milk or almond milk--whatever floats your boat)
1/4-1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (for a little sweetness)
1 Tbsp of creamy peanut butter (or almond butter--up to you!)

Throw all ingredients into a blender, pulse it a few times until it's mixed up. Pour into your favorite class and enjoy!

My favorite cup is this plastic mason jar my mom sent me last Valentine's.
You can buy a size bigger at Target. SUPER handy to have around!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Meal Prep: 4 in 45

I'm a big fan of Pinterest. I mean a BIG fan. I'm always on there looking for specific pins or just searching for things that grab me. Usually I post about food--snack ideas, veggie and fruit dishes, and of course, new meals. Quite a few people have posted about meal prepping before, but I thought it was too much more and effort. HA. Wrong.

OK--it is a little work and it could take a little time, but what you get out of it? A week of healthy, filling lunches that only take time to reheat. I started with an meal my friend Sheri gave me. She's also the one who taught me about these babies. It's simple, easy, delicious. I call it 4 in 45!

Since I work four days a week, I make four meals. Here's all you need are:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (or four small ones) 
  • 1 bunch of asparagus 
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • Choice of seasoning (I like Mrs. Dash table seasoning or Penzey's Chicken & Fish seasoning)
  • Olive oil (no more than 2 teaspoons) 
  • Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash and poke holes in sweet potatoes. On a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil (or regular foil with non stick spray applied), place the sweet potatoes on the sheet. Pop into the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. 

The final product!
In the mean time, you can prep the asparagus. Wash thoroughly and trim the bottom ends off the asparagus.

After the first 15 minutes, throw the (thawed out) chicken breasts onto the pan. Sprinkle seasoning over the chicken breasts and push the pan back in. Set the timer for another 15 minutes. 

After the second 15 minutes, place the asparagus on the pan, spray with olive oil (toss in olive oil before if you don't have a spritzer) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set the timer for another 15 minutes. 

When the timer dings, check the potatoes to make sure they're cooked. If they are, pull of the tray and let everything cool. If they're not done--it sometimes happens to the gigantic ones--pull out the chicken and asparagus and let the potatoes cook another few minutes until soft. 

Once everything is done, pull out four tupperware containers (I use the disposable containers so I still have storage for dinners) divide up the meal. One piece of chicken for each container, half a sweet potato for each container (or one small one for each container), and several spears of asparagus to each one. Make sure everything has cooled completely, pop the tops on, and pop in the refrigerator for the week. TA-DA!! Meals are made and ready to go! 
Four meals in forty-five minutes. OK, with prep and finishing touches, sixty minutes tops. Aside from how easy it make, I really like that I'm fueled for the day with protein and nutrients. 

Chicken breasts--duh. Lean meat with protein to power you through the afternoon. Sweet potatoes are very high in vitamin A (to keep our peepers working) and have tons of potassium, great for blood pressure. The skin, along with the great guts, is full of fiber so go ahead and eat the whole 'tater! Asparagus is packed with vitamins and minerals. Plus, it acts as a cleaning agent, flushing out our kidneys which prevents kidney stones from forming. Awesome, right? 

I leave all my containers in my fridge at work so I can eat one every day. I also bring a small container of orange marmalade to mix into my sweet potato--it's my favorite way to dress it up. You can add a little butter and cinnamon instead or leave it plain. 

One week I switched out the asparagus for steamed broccoli and carrots. Squash would be a good addition or green beans. If you're not a sweet potato fan, try butternut squash instead. Top it off with a little bit of honey. SO good! 

Do you meal prep? What's your favorite? 

Last night's smaller version for dinner and lunch. I made this while
I  did a Barre3 30 minute work out.
True story. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Full & Happy Heart

There are some days where my heart is so full and happy it could just burst! On those days I like to make a list of all the things that make my heart happy:

1. My purring kitty who kindly wakes me up for breakfast time. 
2. The fact that as an adult I still get a Spring Break. 
3. The fact that it's SPRING! 
4. Friends near by who remind me to slow down and enjoy the journey. 
5. Long phone calls with far away friends who inspire positivity and remind me to "do my due diligence and have faith." 
(I also adore her use of great vocabulary words in everyday conversations!)
6. My sweet husband who ate my salisbury steak fail the other night and even the cauliflower mash (which wasn't a fail!)
7. Nestling in my couch with a homemade cup of chai tea latte. 
8. A new exercise regime I really enjoy doing and hate skipping.
9. Sore muscles that remind me of the strength I'm rebuilding and tone I'm regaining. 
10. Curiosity that sparks new dreams for new hobbies and exciting endeavors. 

What makes your heart happy? 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Five Years? For Real?

A little college senior decided to join the blogging world to share her adventures after graduation, not yet knowing what they might be. So on February 28th, 2009, she sat down and started blogging about her world.

I can't believe it's been five years. I can remember that time in my life so vividly. There was quite a bit going on and everything I thought would happen in these five years hasn't been what I thought it would at all. In many ways, I'm very grateful my life took this turn because it led me to some wonderful moments. Making dear friends in grad school and putting on a production I believe is one of the biggest highlights of my life; meeting my husband and the many adventures we've been on together including our beautiful wedding day; gaining a new family and meeting my beautiful niece and nephews; seeing my closest friends grow in their lives, marrying their husbands and moving into new adventures of their own; taking an opportunity of a lifetime and working at a wonderful university and program I wholeheartedly believe in.

Yes, I've made some wonderful memories in the last five years that I hadn't expected at all. Life has treated me very well. It's just human nature, I can't help but look back and ask myself, "what if?" When you're life takes a turn that you hadn't expected, prepared for, unknowingly needed, it throws you off your course. That perfect road map you drew up is obsolete, no longer useful and it's hard not to stand in the middle of the road a little confused. What happened? Did I miss something? Did I not try hard enough? Can I really let go of these plans I've spent years in the making?

I know now that questioning the choices we make keeps us from enjoying all that's around us now. I suppose that's a good majority of the reason I signed off facebook for this lenten season--I wanted to focus on my life and take a step back from everyone else's. Instead of worrying if I'm in the right spot of my life, I'd like to enjoy it and look to the future knowing I'm following my path and not anyone else's. In five years time, I wonder what I'll be thinking of this moment, my life right now, and where I am. We'll see, I suppose.

Five years of writing and sharing all sorts of things on here. Dancer Diaries, I've enjoyed having you here to share with the world my thoughts, feelings, stories, and such. You've been a bright spot, a way for me to exercise my writing skills and stretch my creativity. You've been frustrating at times when I couldn't think of things to say and left you alone for months at a time. Still, you've been there and been a faithful tool I've always come home to.

Here's to another five years! I hope to see you grow, I hope to see you shine, and I hope to see you again soon...until next time!

Here are some of my top favorite blogs from the last five years: 

(A whopping 1850 views on this post! That's awesome for me!)

Dancing Man (A Story of Harold Cromer) 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Protein Balls, aka, Energy Lifesavers

About a month ago, I got a little group together for an afternoon fitness class. It's our Fitness Friday workout for the week where my friend, Sheri, teaches us a RIPPED class. I wrote about her classes here on Traveling Tights (One of these days I'll explain about that little ol' sight.).

Anyway, I really liked the class. It was high energy, lots of cardio and strengthening, and choreographically fun. I get bored just walking or running, okay? I'm not the first to admit it. The only problem is that I was having a hard time being consistent in going--school, work, life kept getting in the way of her classes. Back in January Sheri offered to teach a class up at school. All I had to do was get a few people together.

Honestly, I didn't know if I would be able to do it. I needed to find the right time and day that people would be able to and then here's the big challenge, find people who actually wanted to do it. Lucky for me, I found about four people interested and so far we've been able to do a couple weeks worth of classes. Awesome, right?! We took some time off for our annual Spring Show. We'll be back up and running after spring break and I cannot wait to get back to it. It's the type of work out where I sweat a lot and feel like I'm going full tilt.

In any case, Sheri has been such a wonderful person to reconnect with. See, Sheri was a dancer just a couple years behind me in school. I always liked Sheri but we never spent a lot of time together. This little Fit Friday group is changing that. In fact, she's one of the catalysts for revamping my life to feel more balanced (Which I'm betting she didn't know!).

Sheri taught me this great trick for lunches during the week--I'll share that later on this week. She also taught me about these glorious little nuggets of goodness called Protein Balls. I think of them as Energy Lifesavers because that's what they've become for me!

All these little babies are is nut butter, honey, flaxseed, oatmeal, coconut, chocolate chips, and a hint of vanilla. I use the recipe from here--of course I found it on Pinterest. There are a ton of other recipes out there, this is just a simple one I knew I had all the ingredients for.

Basically you mix it all together, refrigerate for about an hour, and then smoosh them into balls. You want to make sure you really mix the ingredients well or else you have a lot of leftover crumblies at the end.

It makes about 26 little balls so I keep them in an airtight container and use as needed. And they will be needed.

I just put a mini fridge into my office and stocked it with a few things including a these suckers. When I get a little run down, I'll pop one of these for a little something. It's better than sweets or a soda. Technically people will eat these after a workout so I figure after teaching a few dance classes, it's totally the same thing. Sometimes theres not enough time to eat lunch right on time because I'll have a meeting that lasts an extra hour or two. I'll grab one of these just before so I have something to fuel me.

Just in the last week I've handed these out to those who need it. A colleague in my hallway was dragging her wagon and said she needed something so I popped open my container--she loved them! They taste like No Bake Cookies! I had another meeting with a different professor and she was dropping pretty quickly. She needed some lunch but we had one more meeting with a student. I handed her a ball and in just a few minutes I could tell she was feeling a little bit better, a light came back in her face.

This is the best of the stories yet. As an academic advisor, I communicate with students and sometimes parents. Well, I had a lovely meeting with a family on Friday and the poor dad needed something to raise his blood sugar. I felt bad saying we didn't have any vending machines, but I reached for the door of my fridge saying, "But I have these little protein balls..." He ate the last two and asked for the recipe on the spot. He loved them! Even said the next time they were in town, he hoped I had more in the fridge!

Maybe it's the little hostess in me, I just love being able to provide something for people I know will work. Ever since Sheri told me about protein balls, I've been enthralled with them. You don't need a lot, one or two in a sitting. They last a long time and they're really simple to make. You should try whipping up a batch and see if they work for you.

What's your favorite nut butter? 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Quick Taco Salad

Pyro Man works a number of jobs that sometimes take him away from a normal routine of a family dinner. Those are the nights that I usually make myself something I've been dying to try, but unsure if he'll like. Or it's the night I decide to take a load off and do something super simple. Last night was for sure a simple night.

One of the things Pyro Man has gotten me hooked on is mexican food. I've always liked it but it wasn't necessarily something I craved. Since we've been together I'm developed this love of all things tex-mex flavored, specifically tacos. Nowadays if you asked me what my favorite food is, nine times out of ten I'd probably say chicken tacos. There's something about them. Simple yet filling.

He's also been a huge influence in my newfound love for salsa. I swear I've eaten gallons upon gallons of salsa since meeting him. I used to be a Pace Picanta Sauce and Friotes kind of girl. Now, I'm totally a tortilla chips and FRESH salsa lady all the way (I actually use Pace in my crock pot chicken tacos recipe and it's fabulous!).

Dinner. Last night. Needed something quick and not too heavy. Looking around in my kitchen I had a lot of option including two giant jars full of fresh homemade salsa. "Hmmmm," I says, "What can I do with this?"
Yes, I do like to eat at my coffee table while enjoying a movie.
Well, I'll tell you what I did--I decided to make the fastest taco salad this side of the Red River. I chopped up a couple of small chicken breasts, tossed them in a homemade taco seasoning and threw them in a pan with a little olive oil. I quickly sauteed the meat and added a little bit of cilantro for extra flavor at the end. I LOVE me some fresh cilantro. With the warm weather coming, I can't seem to get enough. The flavor is fresh and crisp tasting. I swear it tastes like summer.

While the chicken was cooking, I chopped up some red leaf lettuce, cracked open a can of black beans, and diced up an avocado. I scooped half the chicken onto the salad, topped it off with a couple of spoonfuls of salsa and a little extra cilantro. Bam! Dinner was served.

I know taco salads can be a caloric nightmare with all the extra things added in there (cheese, sour cream, refried beans, taco shell, etc.) so I keep it pretty simple. Chicken breasts keep it light but protein filled. The black beans add a layer of of tastiness and also give you that source of protein and fiber that we need. Beans, beans, the magical fruit! The more you eat, the more...healthy your digestive track is! OK, you get it.

Greens? Well, you can't go wrong with a good among of lettuce and I prefer red leaf for a number of reasons. One, the darker the leaf, the more nutrients in it and two, it has more flavor to me than some others.  It's also calorie free and rich in Vitamin A. I'm sure you could use kale or spinach or romaine if you'd like or mix it all up. It's up to your taste buds--Just stay clear of iceberg lettuce--little flavor and no nutrients.

Avocados have those good ol' MUFA's for you and are tasty to boot! Salsa, well, it adds some pizazz and you don't need a whole heck of a lot on there. Just enough to mix it together and pack a punch of flavor with each bite.

OK--enough with the health push. It's simple, it's quick, it's delicious, and you might want to try it sometime.

What's your favorite quick meal? 

Salsa Recipe:
I actually use the Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Salsa. I truly think it's the! So easy and excellent on anything! The only thing I do differently is I add a few pickled jalapenos and a little of the juice to give it an extra kick. Pyro Man likes his salsa with some eat and I have to say, I like a little spice to mine, too.

Taco Seasonings:
I usually buy my taco seasoning, favoring Penzy's the most (Thanks, Aunt Diana!). A few weeks ago I forgot to get  our favorite crock pot chicken tacos on and I immediately texted Pyro Man to get everything started. Unfortunately we were out of seasoning. Uh oh. Man in the kitchen without all the ingredients could be scary, but I sent him a quick recipe from the internet and we made a few adaptations to this:

1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Mix it all together and voila! You've got homemade taco seasnoning. It makes a ton so we've got leftovers stored in a jar up in the pantry. Came in handy for the Quick Taco Salad.

Quick Taco Salad Directions:
2 chicken breasts
1-2 tsp of taco seasonings
2-3 tsp of olive oil
2-4 cups of red leaf lettuce (or other)
1/4 cup of black beans (rinse in colander to remove excess juice)
1 avocado
1/4 cup of cilantro (more if desired)
1/4 cup of salsa

1. Heat olive oil in skillet and slice chicken breast into chunks. Toss chicken in taco seasoning before throwing into the pan.

2. Sautee the chicken stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Last minute or two of cooking, throw in 1 tsp of chopped cilantro (about a pinch) for added fresh flavor.

3. Meanwhile, chop lettuce into bite size pieces and toss into a bowl. Cut avocado in half,  slice up, and add to side of salad. Lemon, lime, or salt added to avocado is up to you! Scoop black beans onto salad and toss a couple of tsp of chopped cilantro to mix in.

4. Once the chicken is done, you can let it cool for a minute or lay on top of salad. Scoop a couple of Tbsp of salsa over the chicken and the salad. Garnish with cilantro and tortilla chips if desired.

5. Now all you have to do is enjoy! I like a few chips and salsa on the side with mine--it's hard to resist that lovely red sauce!

*There's enough to make two salads, one for now and one for later or the second to share. Anything can be adjusted to fit your needs for the evening. You could even use leftover taco ground beef if desired! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Chocolate Banana Smoothies

Occasionally when I go home I get to work with one of my aunts in her shop. She's an embroiderer and digitizer so we spend a good majority of the day hooping, trimming, folding, and sorting. She plays fun music, we can-can, it's great! At lunch time, she always makes a homemade meal--I kid you not!

She's got a little kitchen set up in her shop, full fridge, stove, oven, and all, to make a home cooked dinner. No sandwiches and chips, no frozen meals. A real meal like meatloaf and mashed potatoes or roasted chicken and fresh green beans. We sit down at a table, pass the tea, and savor the flavors. I love that she does that for her workplace!

But one of my favorite things about her shop is that she always has Three O'Clock Snack Time. At precisely 3:00 pm, we take a quick break for a little snack (and she always has awesome snacks) and then we get back to work. It never fails that mid-afternoon is when I hit my slump. A little after lunch, but too soon until dinner, my tummy thinks it's time for another meal and my brain refuses to work right with out a little nosh. For me, Three O'Clock Snack Time is perfect for me. Well, it's probably more like Four O'Clock, but it's snack time nonetheless.

When I plan meals for the week, I feel like I'm preparing for battle. I try to arm myself with healthy things to pick and choose from so that when I do hit my slump I don't reach for the sweets or cokes like I sometimes do. It's got to have a little of protein and be filling enough so I don't feel like I need more.

One of my favorite break items is the Chocolate Banana Smoothie.

I'm sure you've seen it on Pinterest, it's not a hard thing to make and it really hits the spot! Here's the basic recipe: 

1 banana
1-2 Tablespoons of your favorite peanut butter
1 cup of chocolate milk--I prefer the dark chocolate almond milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla 

*Feel free to adjust anything to make it fit your taste buds. 

Throw the ingredients in a blender, I use my Nutribullet. Give it a couple of pumps to blend together, throw it in a pretty glass and enjoy! 

Sometimes it's a little heavy for me and I only drink about half and save the rest for later. This is something to make ahead and store in the fridge when you need. It's delicious, filling, and helps me hang on happily until dinner. 

What's your favorite snack time item? 


Spring break, y'all! So excited for a full week for a little rest, a little cleaning and organizing, and a little work catch up. I've got papers to grade, notation to review, and preparation for fall registration, but you know what? It's all good cause I've got a week to get it all done! Just a little bit at a time.

I'm going to make sure I take a little time to relax in there, too. You know, like taking a nap or something. Who knows. Might get crazy and sleep in one of these mornings!

What's your favorite way to spend Spring Break? 

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Yesterday I told you I'd share some of my new healthy life choices and here I am today to deliver!

When I started on my Traveling Tights endeavor ( a long story for later), I went in search of different exercise regimes that would appeal to dancers. I hadn't gotten to far into the process, but one thing kept popping up: Barre3. Over and over again I'd seen advertisements for it and friends promoting these new ballet barre workouts. Another company is Pure Barre, but there's not one here in Oklahoma City.

I was a little skeptical. I mean, what could possibly compare to a good ballet barre? I polled dancer friends, a few were taking classes and some teaching. They highly recommended the classes. Still, I wasn't 100% sure. That is until I noticed a fellow college friend of mine post about her workplace and how much she loved working for her boss. Included in the post was a great promo video for, what else,  Barre3 and featured the OKC owner.

When it comes to good advertising, I can be a sucker. I watched the video and immediately had to watch it again. It takes you through this woman's daily routine, waking up and having a cup of coffee, getting her kids off to school and kissing her husband goodbye. She does her workout for the morning and happily goes in to work, teaches class, takes class, and has lunch with a friend in a cute restaurant. We see her making a healthy dinner and enjoying it with her family before tucking her little ones into bed. What working woman wouldn't want a schedule like that?!

In any case, the classes looked great! Students were working hard, moving gracefully from position to position, it didn't look like just ballet or just yoga or just Pilates. It looked like a mix of them all.

My curiosity was peaked. I had to try a class. Currently they have a $30 for 3 classes promo. I signed up for it and scheduled a morning time before school. Even if it was a 7:15 morning class, everyone was bright, chipper, and ready to work. I really tried to keep an open mind about it, but I couldn't help a small voice inside my head asking, "is this really going to be a good workout? You're a dancer."

Let me answer that for you. Yes. Heck to the yes.

I sweated, I shook, I found myself huffing and puffing to get through. And when I say shook, I mean I turned into a human shake weight. They like to call that "the shakes." I couldn't believe my body was betraying me, shaking like I'd never held a balance or releve in all my life! What the heck? I almost felt a little embarrassed to admit I was a dancer--too late though. I'd already told the instructor I was a professor. When she asked me after class how I liked it, I had to be honest.

It was fantastic, but strange for me. I had to concentrate on not turning out, sending my legs straight back. Do you know how hard it is to arabesque and NOT turn out your leg. I was having to fight myself a little bit on body position. Everything in my dancer brain was screaming, "You're alignment is all WRONG!" And yet, I was shaking the most in those positions. I was using muscles I hadn't targeted in a long, long time. HALLELUJAH! I might be able to finally tone up some of my softer areas.

I've since completed all three of my classes. Every instructor I've had I've really enjoyed and every class I really like. The only downside, and it's more of a personal one, is that the class is barefoot...and... my feet sweat quite a bit. Put all that together and it becomes a slip and slide class for me. I don't really enjoy working out barefoot or even dancing barefoot. I slide this way then that and of course it happens at the most unsuspecting moments. Or I do the slow slide, my feet ever so slightly moving away from my body striking the fearful thought that I might face plant into the floor.

Luckily Barre3 has these little rubberized socks you can use to keep from slipping. I've haven't gotten a pair yet, but I will before next class.  They're cute enough for class and they'll get the job done, keeping me from sliding into impromptu splits.

There's another great deal, one time only, $99 for a month of unlimited classes. I'm dying to sign up for it. Before I do though, I'm decided to give myself a trial run to see if I could keep myself committed. So I signed up for the online Barre3 classes.

For $15 a month, I get classes of either 10, 30, 40, or 60 minutes of Barre3 work outs and recipes. I've been able to do two work outs this week, a 10 minute and a 30 minute class. I'm really loving it. If I can solidly stick to this, a work out at least 3-4 times a week, for one month, I'll join the classes. I want to prove to myself that I can do what I say I will and if I do, I'll reward myself with more Barre3 classes. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal if you ask me!

Have you tried Barre3 yet? If you enjoy Pilates, yoga, or ballet, you might enjoy this. Look up a class and try it out for yourself!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Balancing a Healthy Life

It's no secret that health and fitness are key elements for dancers. Nourishing your body with healthy choices that fuel you throughout the day is what sustains the intense energy that dance demands. Although dancing is a wonderful exercise, when it's your job, your career, your focus, just dancing is not enough. A dancer must tone and strengthen their body while also working on endurance. If you get winded after one combination, how will you make through an entire show? 

Gone are the days of black leotards and pink tights for me. It's been some time since a weigh-in has been required and it's certainly been a few years since I've been the dancer auditioning. I'm the person behind the table now. The choreographer, the judge, the instructor, the professor. Unfortunately for me, I've allowed myself to relax in some of my health habits because I'm no longer the dancer auditioning and training. 

It may not seem like my life has changed since my training days, but a lot of things are different than before. Surprisingly enough, even though I teach dance, it doesn't mean I get the same work out I did when I was a student. First of all, I'm not really dancing. I'm talking. A lot. I'm changing music, adjusting people, surveying their technique, fixing and helping at every point of the class. Yes, I participate in the movement action, but aside from demonstrating the action, the focus is on my students, not me--as it should be. Then there's lecture classes. Again, I'm talking. A lot. 

I'm also sitting at my desk a lot more. I thought I spent a lot of time on the computer as a student, but as a professor and academic advisor, the screen time has increased. I answer emails constantly, grade papers online, research tips, trends and styles, too. It's part of the job! 

There's this other little change in my life, too. No big deal or anything, but a man now resides in my house. A man who is 90% Dr. Pepper and 10% Froot Loops. His sense of diet and health is a little off base, but it's fine. After all, he's a tall, lanky man who go, go goes like the Energizer bunny. The man has so much energy to burn so eating a couple of donuts for breakfast and having a night out for dinner is no big deal. We're both busy and night time is our only time to catch up and see one another. At the end of the day, we're both so tired that we hop on the couch, flip on the tube, and catch up on our favorite shows. 

When it comes to dinner time at our house, we have a bit of a difference in our taste buds. I like a good green salad with a light dressing. He likes ranch with a side of lettuce. I like a lot of veggies in my dishes. He likes a lot of meat in his dishes. See where I'm going? Between that, my TV time spent with my hubby, and the change in my work life, I've been having a little trouble getting back on track. 

It's so easy to slip off the straight and narrow. Even when I was working hard to stay fit and healthy, I would be able to focus for so long before I loosened the reigns and indulged...maybe so much so that I undid all the good. Very frustrating. Finding the balance, finding what works for you so that you can stick to it consistently takes a lot of focus, determination, and a self discipline. 

Recently I've made a few changes to help myself get back on track. Over the last couple of years, I've been using a lame excuse that I can skip a work out or indulge because I'm not in performance mode right now. It's totally fine. Except, Self, it's not. I may not be auditioning every day of my life, but I am dancing and creating. If I'm not fueling my body with good food and strengthening myself in new ways, then I'm letting not only myself down, but my students as well. I've got to be on my A game and that means taking care of myself so that my brain and my body function at 100%. Not only that, I want to feel healthy and happy in my body. 

When I do the simple things I know to do, I feel so much better, happier, and healthier. There really isn't a special secret to getting your health and wellness back on track. You just have to do it. Check back tomorrow and I'll fill you in on the scoops and all that's helping me right now! 

What helps you keep a healthy and balanced life? 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Things that Make The Day Brighter

Today's happy thoughts brought to you by:

1. The bottle of rose perfume I've been missing since July unearthed itself finally. HOORAY!

2. Finally having a full day of eating right and consuming the proper amount of protein. Feeling 1000% better and less grumpy and sleepy today!

3. An extra cup of hot coffee I got to enjoy before class.

4. Spring weather! It's just fabulous and I can't wait to enjoy spending some time outdoors.

5. This time next week I'll be enjoying a little me time at home on a glorious and much needed Spring Break!

What wonderful things are making you happy today?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Weekend Obsessions

This last weekend I've been enjoying some of my favorite items!

This week's obsessions

1. Black Lab--We've got a count down on the fridge to when we pick up our little puppy, Penny! I guess you could say we're a little excited and have puppy on the brain a lot these days.

2. Le Creuset Dutch Oven--I've broken this sucker out twice this weekend. I made Broccoli Cheddar soup at 9:00 pm on Saturday night. What can I say? I had a hankering! Then Sunday was gumbo day so that sucker got some serious use!

3. Essie Teeny Bikini--I love this happy color! I'm hoping this happy little blue will help inspire the world to warm up a little more.

4. Parenthood--Pyro Man hooked us up with Netflix so we could watch House of Cards (Awesome by the way). In any case, I discovered seasons 3 & 4 of Parenthood. I have been enjoying catching up with a show I really like.

5. Fiesta Gusto Bowl--Perfect sized bowl for soup and gumbo. Happiness is a bowl full of warm goodness. Wouldn't you agree?

What are some of your favorite items? 

Monday, March 3, 2014


I just joined this great site called Bloglovin to keep up with some of my favorite bloggers. It's a neat site that keeps me up to date with all my favorite bloggers. If you're  a part of it, follow me! If not, join!

Where I Create

It's a snow day today. A beautiful white layer of crystals is blocking the path from my house to work. Dang. That's okay though, it gives me a chance to enjoy an extra day at home.

One of my favorite things to do on free mornings like this is to curl up on the couch with a blanket, a hot cup of coffee, and let my creativity go to work. I can have a pen and paper in hand or a computer in my lap and my mind will start pumping out ideas or thoughts like no other. I generally think it's caffeine that helps keep the juices flowing, but whatever. It's when and where I feel most creative.

PS--Moments after I took this I dropped my phone in my coffee cup...

Where are you most creative? 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Productivity At It's Best

If ever there were a productive day, today would be it. I woke up and decided over a stack of blueberry and strawberry pancakes that I was going to tackle a wicked huge to-do list. And somehow I did it. I love days that work out like that.

Lots of work that will save me lots of time this week!
 I baked a batch of salt and vinegar kale chips immediately whipped up a week’s worth of prepped lunches for this week. Then I decided I wanted to try a batch of those popular protein balls. Verdict? Pretty good. Reminds me of No-Bake cookies sans cocoa. My kitchen adventures weren’t over yet. I decided that I needed to go ahead and cook up a pot of gumbo since I’m working most of Mari Gras. Gotta keep up with my Cajun family roots!

In between timer dings, Pyro Man and I tackled cleaning the house. Floors were swept, bathrooms cleaned out, and kitchen counters wiped down. New sheets were laid on the bed and towels were washed, folded, and put away. Is there anything better than an empty laundry basket? Yes, yes there is. It’s called a Snow Day!

Booyah! Snow tomorrow means more productivity only this time I’ll be in my pajamas. Probably all day.

Hope ya’ll had a wonderful weekend and are staying nice and warm tonight! As for me? I’m going to enjoy the end of the Oscar’s, grab a hot shower, and fall into a freshly made bed. Goodnight to all! 

My gumbo directions said to drink a beer...
I opted for a root beer this afternoon.
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