Refrigerator Oats: What Does Summer Taste Like?

“Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.” 
―Lemony Snicket 

WHAT DOES SUMMER TASTE LIKE?

As a writing teacher, I ask my students to think concretely about the abstract. In the first week of June, as the promise of vacation slides into our backpacks, I ask my students to describe summer. Their foreheads crinkle, review-packet- glazed-eyes squint, and the consensus becomes one simple word: F R E E D O M.

By the end of the school year I feel it too. Yet, “What does freedom taste like?” I press.“What does it sound like?” “What does it smell like?” “What does it look and feel like?” How can we make summer tangible in our minds and in our writing?

Ask my family what the freedom of summer feels like and my step kids will say a sticky river of watermelon juice flooding down their face. Or a cup of strawberry lemonade abandoned on the pool deck, now warm and syrupy, complete with a hovering dragon fly.

Avalon will say that freedom tastes like peanut butter cup S’mores – the marshmallow roasted to a golden brown on the fire pit in our backyard. Lukas will lick his lips and say it tastes like tuna steak, grilled to medium rare perfection by Dad, and a lemon sauce made with the dill he planted.

Summer looks like imagination as eight-year- old Lukas and I crouch down behind a stand of maple trees and slink around our pasture trying to out-sneak the alien queen. “Shhhhhhhhh,” Luke whispers,” she cannot see us with our cloaking devices, but she can hear us and she can smell us…”

Summer looks like an air mattress thrown next to the pond, so Avalon and I can memorize a swath of black velvet sky and wish on shooting stars until the grass grows damp and we fall asleep, John later rousing us to go inside.

It is a thick stack of books from the Peter White Library and a tent pitched by two industrious kids in our apple orchard to serve as a reading nook. It is flipping through each book at the end of the day to make sure a snake does not find its way into the house again as a stowaway. It is our lazy Golden Retrievers Ollie and Gracie lounging in a puddle of yellow sun, a whippoorwill’s mysterious call on the Whitefish River, and early mornings at McCarty’s Cove as we comb the icy, lace edged waves for beach glass.

July sounds like Shakespeare our rooster crowing under our bedroom window at 5:00 am as the decision arrives to either sleep in, or rise early (and indulge in an afternoon nap). It is a brown egg, still warm, in the palm of your hand as it plinks into the galvanized bucket to the soothing warble of a plump red hen. It’s the earthy smell of pine shavings in a freshly shoveled coop, the spicy aroma of star gazer lilies, and a humid thicket of sky that aches chartreuse and then bruised plum after an urgent rain storm.

It is a tear escaping your eye when you see veterans marching in the parade, goose bumps when you hear sirens of those who protect and serve, and it is gathering up camping chairs and beach blankets (sometimes for warmth) to watch fireworks sparkle and pulsate across the backdrop of the Ore Dock at the Lower Harbor, over Teal Lake, or in Trenary.

Can you tell that I am a summer girl? Summer takes my breath away and makes me feel that we are part of something magical. Yet, we all know how fleeting our summers are in Upper Michigan. Even when I find myself watering the garden, or packing for a family road trip to Muskegon to visit my in laws, I find that I am always pondering the upcoming school year and planning ahead. What worked last year and what will I repeat? What new resources do I have to gather? How can I more efficiently balance my schedule of work and family? How can I stay healthy and keep up with my classroom full of challenging teenagers?

Last year one of my secret weapons for keeping my energy levels up and being prepared for work was making sure that I had my breakfast planned the night before. We have been told forever that breakfast is the most important meal, yet many people will confess to grabbing heavily processed convenience foods or skipping the meal all together. That is why overnight oats was a game changer for both my husband and I. Since I can prepare the oatmeal days in advance, our mornings are reserved for coffee, taking care of farm chores, getting the kids up, a quick kiss, and hustling out the door to work.

The basic recipe that I am going to share is consumed cold (think yogurt and fruit parfait). I know it sounds strange to not cook the oatmeal, but it softens and takes on a pleasing texture in the refrigerator. If you would rather have a hot breakfast, you can find recipes for warm versions online, or you can omit the yogurt and heat in the microwave. I use wide-mouthed one pint mason jars and prepare them up four or five days in advance. The glass jars keep the ingredients fresh, are easy to wash, I always have them on hand, and make the oatmeal visually appealing. I like to make a couple extra because my step daughter Avalon likes to take the oatmeal to school as a filling and healthy breakfast, lunch, or snack option. They are so easy to prepare that if I did not prep on Sunday, I can throw them together each night when I take care of the dinner dishes.

BASIC OVERNIGHT OATS

*1/3 cup of old fashioned oats (quick cooking oats don’t hold up as well)
*1/3 cup of milk (you can substitute almond, coconut, or any non-dairy milk)
*1/3 cup of Greek yogurt (Greek yogurt often has more protein)
*1 teaspoon of chia seeds (or more)

Add the above ingredients into the jar and stir well. Top with sliced fruit and/or berries (fresh or frozen), nuts, or any other toppings that you want to add.

The oatmeal provides you with filling fiber and packs a punch in helping your body fight cholesterol. The chia seeds and nuts give you Omeg-3 and fatty acids, the yogurt gives you a protein boost, and the fruit provides essential vitamins and minerals. How perfect is that?

When I prepare our refrigerator oatmeal, I often choose ingredients from what we have in the house. My family enjoys the Greek Gods flavored yogurts and I often buy fat free versions for myself. While I normally buy flavored yogurt, sometimes I will buy plain and stir in flavorings.

They are so easy to throw together that you customize them to fit each family member. You can make them healthy, or indulgent, and they are easy to grab and go for work, school, gym, or the beach.

Some of our favorite flavor combinations are:

RED WHITE & BLUE
*Strawberries
*Blueberries
*Caramelized pecans

CHOCOLATE COVERED BANANA
*Peanut butter
*Banana
*Almonds
*1/2 vanilla yogurt and ½ chocolate yogurt

ISLAND OATMEAL
*Mango
*Pineapple
*Coconut
*Macadamia nuts

ZESTY BLUEBERRY
*Blueberries
*Cinnamon
*Lemon zest and juice added to the yogurt
*Almonds

APPLE ORCHARD
*Diced Granny Smith Apples
*Maple syrup
*Brown Sugar
*Cinnamon
*Raisins
*Walnuts

CHERRY JUBILEE
*Cherries (Fresh in the summer and frozen dark sweet cherries in the winter)
*Couple dashes of almond extract mixed into the oatmeal
*Pistachios and cashews

Other ingredient options:

*apple sauce (put those Michigan apples to great use and make homemade apple sauce this fall.)
*protein powder
*flaxseed
*cocoa powder (great with orange segments and zest)
*pumpkin puree
*dried fruit
*Granola
*crushed graham crackers
*chocolate chips (great way to get the kids to eat healthier. You only have to top the oatmeal with a few chips)
*Granulated coffee or a bit of espresso for a mocha flavored oatmeal

What is your breakfast routine? If you are currently depriving your body of nutrition in the
morning, or simply need to change things up, these overnight oats are for you. Make sure to stop by my Facebook page  to let me know what you think and please share your favorite refrigerator oatmeal flavor combinations.

What does summer look like, taste like, sound like, and feel like for your family? Savor July because before we know it – we will be enjoying glorious Upper Michigan snow! Until then, you can find me weeding the hoop house, chasing aliens, or lounging in the pool and working on my teacher tan (as my husband John affectionately calls it). Memorize the feeling of July and enjoy the freedom we have to live in such a charming, wild, and beautiful place.


 

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Witness to Beauty – It’s All About Perspective

“The conclusion I have reached is that, above all, dogs are witnesses. They are allowed access to our most private moments. They are there when we think we are alone. Think of what they could tell us. They sit on the laps of presidents. They see acts of love and violence, quarrels and feuds, and the secret play of children. If they could tell us everything they have seen, all of the gaps of our lives would stitch themselves together.”
Carolyn Parkhurst, The Dogs of Babel

Meesha is the latest member of our family. <3

Meet Meesha, the latest member of our family. ❤

As a teacher I tend to mark the passing of time in marking periods and school events. This week we are hot-on-the-heels of semester one exams and last weekend finished winter homecoming festivities. The students that I have helped mentor as a class adviser are seniors and I was proud of their efforts decorating their hallway and winning the spirit pep jug for the fourth year in a row. My husband showed his support by offering to help chaperone the homecoming dance Friday night (in spite of a full day of work and an early wake up the next morning). It was entertaining to watch Lukas (seven) try out his slick dance moves and Avalon (ten) was pleased that for the third year in a row that she got to help with hallway decorating. As always, I am thankful that my place of employment is family friendly and I love that our kids get to interact with my high school students and their education stakeholders.

Lukas trying out his slick moves on the dance floor.

Lukas trying out his slick moves on the dance floor.

In my last post, Making Time For Ourselves, I shared my January goals. While I am happy to report that I am knocking my sleep, vitamin, and food journal goals out of the park – the formal exercise and water is still a work in progress. It is always perplexing to me that it is so difficult for me to consume water. I am ashamed to admit that many days the final bell sounds and I have not even touched my water bottle. At home I have been drinking herbal tea (my newest favorite Yogi brand Honey Lavender Stress Relief) so I am thinking that maybe I need to stock my classroom with tea as well.

My food journal has helped me be mindful of what I am eating and I have been keeping a pot of Three Bean Vegetarian Chili in the refrigerator (a filling option for dinner with a veggie burger or salad) and last week I made one of my favorite Mason Jar Salads, Israeli Feast, for my work lunches. Many of the messages that I receive are from people who are tired of eating salads and “rabbit food”. One of the goals of this blog is to help others try a wide-range of ingredients – and that salads do not need to be boring. My best advice is to fill your plate with a rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables. Not only does eating the same thing over and over get boring, but it also prevents our bodies from getting a wide-range of nutrients. In order to keep myself from repetitive meals, I like to try different combinations. The Israeli Feast is a non-traditional salad recipe that uses hummus and quinoa tabouli in place of salad dressing. For last week’s version I added avocado to the hummus to amp up the nutritional content with healthy fats.

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fullsizeoutput_1139fullsizeoutput_113afullsizeoutput_113cWhile I still need to work on moving more, my Fitbit is showing increased activity. On Saturday and Sunday I made a concerted effort to get outside and make the most of the sunshine and blue skies. In fact, the views from our property were so inspiring that I have to share them with you. The recent addition to our family, Meesha a two-year-old German Shepherd, is a bundle of frolicsome energy. She made an incredible subject for an impromptu photo shoot and her and Lukas made the best workout buddies. We did not even both to put on our snowshoes but traipsed around in the snow. Let me tell you, it was a workout and I sure can feel it today in my legs and back end. 😉

I cannot believe how much energy Meesha has!

I cannot believe how much energy Meesha has!

My step son Lukas loves to play outside - he is 100% Yooper and farm boy.

My step son Lukas loves to play outside – he is 100% Yooper farm boy.

On sunny days we open up the chicken coop so our sweet hens can sun themselves.

On sunny days we open up the chicken coop so our sweet hens can sun themselves.

John has put HOURS into setting up our new hoop house. We are eager for spring to start planting vegetables.

John has put HOURS into setting up our new hoop house. We are eager for spring to start planting vegetables.

Run Meesha!

Run Meesha!

I hope you are doing well on meeting your healthy goals. If you are struggling, do not give up – each day (every hour) gives us the opportunity for a fresh start. This week I am going to work on my water intake and will be striving to get in more activity. Join me in making time for yourself. Do something that you enjoy doing and seek out beauty. When I grab my camera and go for hike it is much more enjoyable than the gym. Not only am I doing something good for my body, but I am also nourishing my creativity and filling my senses.  It is all about perspective. While winter is not my favorite season, I cannot afford to miss the beauty around me. Especially when I have a gorgeous, energetic dog and adorable seven-year-old to keep me motivated and inspired. ❤

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Our little guy Lukas is always up for an outside adventure.

Our little guy Lukas is always up for an outside adventure.

It's a winter wonderland in our backyard.

It’s a winter wonderland in our backyard.

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There Is No Better Time Than Now

Finally the sign of spring that I was looking for in our yard. The bulbs that I planted in the fall are starting to awaken.

Finally the sign of spring that I was looking for in our yard. The bulbs that I planted in the fall are starting to awaken.

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them…”
― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek 

In June I will be forty-five years old. I have never been one to feel hemmed in by numbers, but I confess that in the past couple of years — I feel my age. While in my 20s and 30s I had boundless energy, now I notice the difference if I am not getting enough sleep. I can put weight on much easier (and take it off much slower) and I need glasses for the first time. Last week I joked on Facebook that it was a sign of aging when a hot date with your husband meant getting your eyes checked. I was not laughing when I got fit for bifocals. Though the doctor said that I would be fine with just reading glasses, I decided to get bifocals to also correct a slight distance vision issue (for night driving). My husband John and I tried to take the sting out of our bifocals by declaring how fortunate we both were to carry insurance from our employers (something I did not have in my early 20s. That’s a benefit of aging, right?). I made John pick out my glasses because it felt strange to wear them and I could not look at myself without being too critical. Maybe I will share a photo when my glasses come in if I can mange to get used to them.

In addition to ordering glasses, I have been doing well with the April goals that I set for myself in my last post, Setting Healthy Goals. While I have been lacking in water a bit, I have been moving more, watching my starchy carbs, and have been incorporating salads and more vegetables with every meal. I have found that bread is something that I cannot go without out so last week I bought one of my old mainstays, Food for Life Ezekiel bread. I love the bread with a smear of avocado, hummus, or natural peanut butter, and I enjoy it when it is made into toasted garlic bread.

While I am acutely aware that I will be forty-five in June, one number that I do not have the slightest inkling about is my weight. After I stepped down from leading Weight Watchers meetings, so I could spend more time with my family, I decided that I would not allow myself to be a slave to the scale. In fact, it has been close to a year since I have monitored my weight on one. While it has been unbelievably liberating, this winter I have managed to put on (in my best guess from the way my clothes are fitting) around fifteen pounds. Last Saturday I was horrified to find out that the summer capris that I bought last year do not fit. 😦 Sadly, it was exactly what I needed to get my rear-in-gear.

Speaking of last Saturday, it is amazing the difference a week can make. While the week before we were getting hit with record setting amounts of snow in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – last weekend we were greeted with gorgeous 70ish degree weather. It was the perfect time to head out to enjoy a nature hike and get oxygen into our lungs. John took us to Autrain Falls (for local folks it is a lovely spot on M94 between Chatham and Munising) and I was able to capture the beauty with my new camera.

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In addition to some local sightseeing, we also were able to get some work done at home. My step-son Lukas is learning to drive our tractor and he helped John pull rocks from our property to decorate and protect my flower beds. Luke (with help from John) also took an impromptu dip in the creek on our back property. 😉

I love my new camera.

I love my new camera.

John, Lukas, and Avalon. You have to love spring hikes in the U.P. Shorts and Bog Boots! ;)

John, Lukas, and Avalon. You have to love spring hikes in the U.P. Shorts and Bog Boots! 😉

Lukas learning to drive the tractor.

Lukas learning to drive the tractor.

Since the snow is nearly gone I have been taking advantage of the network of trails on our property and have been taking long, spirited walks around our pasture. Incidentally, I tried a pair of my capri pants this morning and I was wildly surprised that they fit much better than they did last weekend.

While I was not going to set a reward for accomplishing my April goals, I decided that I would reward my efforts and help increase my motivation by purchasing a Fitbit activity monitor this week. I will make sure to post my step goals and if there is any interest, maybe I will start a challenge on my Facebook page.

I am pleased that my husband has joined my quest to eat more vegetables and fresh produce. We both have been feeling like we are in a food rut and nothing sounds appetizing. As I said earlier I am trying to cut down on starchy carbs and this does present a bit of a challenge (we love pizza and pasta). John has been very receptive to large dinner salads and I thought that I would share one that he has asked for several times in the last few weeks (trust me, getting this man to ask for a salad is a victory).

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Ingredients: romaine lettuce, spinach, strawberries with caramelized pecans, avocado with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, cucumber and feta cheese, Gorgonzola cheese, Newman’s Own garlic balsamic vinegar dressing (though it would be great with one of my dressing recipes), steak with Penzey’s Arizona spices, Parmesan cheese, and sautéed onions and mushrooms (added right before serving). While I try to stick to vegetarian and plant-based meals,  I did have a piece of wild salmon on my salad (as I have done in the past year on occasion). This salad is more proof that salads do not have to be boring and that they are filling when you load them up with fiber rich produce and protein. What is your favorite salad combination?
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In the coming days I will not beat myself up about putting on winter weight, but I am determined to do something about it. As I learned after joining Weight Watchers in 2007 (and losing 50 pounds) that making small changes in our lifestyle can transform our bodies and lead to lasting results. I am worth the effort – and you are too! Please join me in welcoming spring and putting our health first. Forty-five years old in June? No problem! I am ready to take on the challenge with style, finesse, and energy. Age is just a number and I have always been a late bloomer. ❤

A mini falls at Autrain Falls.

A mini falls at Autrain Falls.

Luke and Avalon loved splashing around.

Luke and Avalon loved splashing around.

I took off my Bog Boots and enjoyed the icy water.

I took off my Bog Boots and enjoyed the icy water.

A little "dip" in the creek on our property.

A little “dip” in the creek on our property.

The dogs loved taking a dip too. I love this photo of Ollie. He looks like a lion but he is as gentle as a lamb.

The dogs loved taking a dip too. I love this photo of Ollie. He looks like a lion but he is as gentle as a lamb.

John started cutting and peeling logs for our home addition and covered deck.

John started cutting and peeling logs for our home addition and covered deck.

Our ducks and new chicks are getting big.

Our ducks and new chicks are getting big.

Shakespeare II greets spring with a spirited Cock-a-doodle-do!

Shakespeare II greets spring with a spirited Cock-a-doodle-do!

The Importance of Laughter in Weight Management ~ Channeling Our Inner Child

Amy in Jerusalem, Israel  in spring of 2011 making a new furry friend. Photo by: Heather Hollands

Amy in Jerusalem, Israel spring of 2011 making a new furry friend.
Photo by: Heather Hollands

“I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.” ― Maya Angelou

A few years ago when I agreed to lead a Saturday morning Weight Watchers meeting, I wondered if I had lost my mind. Being a teacher, my alarm screams every weekday morning at 5:00 am and weekends are my time to catch up on precious sleep. Though, I always contend that Weight Watchers meetings are like exercise. NEVER do I regret working out after the fact and it is the same with going to a WW meeting. Instead of remorse, I leave the parking lot feeling empowered and ready to tackle the food challenges thrown my way. Six years ago when I started attending WW meetings I would often come home Thursdays after work and tell my husband Mike that I was too exhausted to attend my weekly meeting. “But the meeting is your FUEL!” he would adamantly remind me. He was right. Even if I had a rough week and did not enjoy the number that the scale spit back at me, I always left feeling renewed and refreshed for another week. I am sure that the meetings made me much easier to live with since I came home happy and embracing a positive attitude, instead of being grumpy and charged with guilt.

Once I started leading WW meetings I realized that not only did it feel fantastic to help others reach their healthy goals, but the meetings still remained a marvelous gift to myself. When WW introduced the latest program, Weight Watchers 360, we learned that studies suggest that we make approximately 200 food related decisions a day. Yet, we are only conscious of 10-15 of them. When this figure was brought to my attention, I could not believe it. But I thought about it. We are bombarded with food in a myriad of ways: television and radio commercials, roadside billboards, workplace temptations, meetings, event invitations, family gatherings, social media and the internet, and even Justin Bieber sings about, “chillin’ by the fire while we’re eating fondue.” (Okay, guilty confession…I like Justin Bieber) With all of these food related thoughts, I know that I need all the help I can get, and meetings help me stay accountable and on track. Saturday morning meetings are now one of my healthy Routines and I no longer cringe when the alarm sounds bright and early and I look forward to spending time with my friends.

The number one reason that the meetings are so effective is because of my members. Each Saturday morning 30-40 individuals brave often gritty Upper Michigan weather to show up at the WW center in Marquette — armed with great advice, support, and compassion. Without fail, before the meeting starts, I walk to  the front of the room and pause to listen to the laughter, conversation, and bask in the glow of beautiful, smiling faces. The positive energy in the room is tangible and I love being part of something so significant and life changing. On any given Saturday, Rockin’ Rosie shares with new members the “Rosie Method” of exercise. She explains that this exercise method involves a spirited jog around the house to heart pumping oldie songs. When the song changes, Rosie changes the direction of her jog. When people stop by unannounced, if they want to visit, they must accompany Rosie and jog along with her. You probably get the idea that nothing stops Rosie. She is fierce and resourceful. While she does attend training sessions at a local gym, Rosie reminds us all that there are no excuses not to move more! All we need is our own body and some of our favorite tunes. Rosie is currently on the mend from a shoulder replacement surgery. But you guessed it, nothing is stopping her! A couple days after her surgery she registered over 12,000 steps on her WW pedometer and was at our meeting the week after looking as gorgeous as ever (her husband helped with her hair and makeup).

Sister Gloria’s enthusiasm and compassion is contagious as she shares how she has the other Sisters drinking green smoothies and creating an exercise room. She loves how WW allows her to eat simple, wholesome meals and encourages her to carve out important time for herself to exercise. Sister Gloria is joining my Recipe Round-Up

February Recipe Round-Up

February Recipe Round-Up

Challenge in February where we are all going to try one new recipe a week. I will then compile a recipe book that will serve as a resource to help us all avoid food ruts. While Sister Gloria’s life work takes her on the road often, we really miss her when she is not able to attend Saturday meetings. Though we are all able to stay connected via our private facebook group. Our use of social media allows us to extend our meeting time and gives us a valuable tool to stay accountable. Brenda posts an Activity thread each morning which encourages exercise accountability and I have been posting a January Green Smoothie Challenge thread which has given our group great ideas for tasty smoothie combinations. We share recipes, links to pertinent nutrition information, and give each other support.

A few years ago, one of my members Theresa, bought herself a little stuffed animal to keep herself accountable to the WW program while she was traveling. Her little guy traveled to San Diego, London, and Australia with Theresa and the pictures she posted of him were adorable. I really admire Theresa’s sense of humor and she reminds us to always be “faithful to the little things.” Last summer I wondered what would happen if we had a WW Saturday Morning Mascot to serve as an anchor for our journey? My husband thought I really had a screw loose when I went to Target and bought a Cookie Monster, a journal, and a little suitcase from Michael’s to transport him.Though, I knew my members would get a kick out of the idea.

He's packed and ready to go!

He’s packed and ready to go!

In meetings we talk about how it is a shame as we get older we often lose our excitement for exercise. l like to remind myself that as a child I loved to run through the sprinkler, roller skate, spend hours swimming, and ride my bike until long after it was dark. As we age, we have to continue to find ways to channel our inner child and let laughter be our guide.

Our mascot’s inaugural, naming trip was to a water park in Green Bay, Wisconsin with Brenda and LeeLa, who are Maintenance Buddies. At our next meeting LeeLa shared how “Freddie” helped remind her and Brenda that we need to have fun on our weight management journey. Not to mention, that Freddie is an important anchor that stresses cookies are an occasional treat and not a snack.

Since his first trip last July, Freddie has experienced many healthy adventures. He has been to a Maroon 5 concert with Denise, sat in box seats at Lambeau Stadium and a wedding in Minneapolis with Colleen, has traveled to Chicago with Mary Alice, helped Sue make green smoothies for a basket making retreat, went to The Monkees concert with Erinn, helped Brenda stay balanced in preparation for a frightening medical procedure, and attended a parade and went camping with Linda. A few weeks ago, Freddie made us all envious when he departed to sunny Arizona with Karen. He is currently spending the week with Wendy and she checked in with us on our facebook group and said Freddie’s reminding her to take time from her hectic work schedule to log time on the treadmill and enjoy a cup of hot tea to de-stress.

Freddie On the GoRecently Freddie came home with me and I even took him to my classroom at Gwinn High School. Even though I teach English I love being a healthy role model for my students and when we discuss goal setting I often share my health goals with them and even my blog as a real world example of writing and publishing. Freddie was an instant hit and my 4th hour creative writing students even decided to adopt three writing mascots. They will take turns bringing the mascots home and I am going to start a blog for the pieces that they write. I cannot wait to see the stories that they capture.

Here are some pictures of the adventures I shared with Freddie:

Freddie looking a bit shocked at how early we have to go to work.

Freddie looking a bit shocked at how early we have to go to work.

Freddie enjoying a snack of broccoli, lemon, and nutritional yeast during our prep period. Not only does he love healthy food but he's also fond of W.S. Merwin's poetry!

Freddie enjoying a snack of broccoli, lemon, and nutritional yeast during our prep period. Not only does he love healthy food but he’s also fond of W.S. Merwin’s poetry!

Freddie and I walked laps around the hallways during lunch. Is it strange that I carried him around for 20 minutes and no one looked surprised?

Freddie and I walked laps around the hallways during lunch. Is it strange that I carried him around for 20 minutes and no one looked surprised?

Freddie watching a video of the Inaugural Poet, Richard Blanco and writing a Found Poem from MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech

Freddie watching a video of the Inaugural Poem, “One Today,” by Richard Blanco  — and reading MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Freddie excited that Mike surprised us with a salad from our favorite area take-out restaurant, Border Grill. (Border Salad made plant-based by subbing black beans for meat)

Freddie was excited that Mike surprised us with a salad from our favorite area take-out restaurant, Border Grill. (Border Salad made plant-based by subbing black beans for meat)

Freddie with my new WW Active Link that will will help motivate me to earn Activity Points

Freddie with my new WW Active Link that will  help motivate me to earn Activity Points

Freddie selected my workout videos. He is rather fierce when it comes to exercise!

Freddie selected my workout videos. He is rather fierce when it comes to exercise!

Freddie even helped me stay on track when we had two unexpected “Wind Chill” days off from school. We made a rainbow salad with a vibrant medley of fruit and vegetables, 1/4 cup of raw nuts, smoky maple tempeh, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and olives. Freddie reminded me that I am worth all the extra steps I take to make food appealing, tasty, and fun!

Freddie reminds us to fill our plate with a rainbow of fruit and vegetables!

Freddie reminds us to fill our plate with a rainbow of fruit and vegetables!

Freddie says food should be vibrant, playful, and fun!

Freddie says food should be vibrant, playful, and fun!

Closeup of my mouthwatering salad. There was enough to share with Mike when he got home from work.

Closeup of my mouthwatering salad. There was enough to share with Mike when he got home from work.

I find that food that I take time to prepare and savor is much more satisfying. So take out your fancy plates and be creative!

I find that food that I take time to prepare and savor is much more satisfying. So take out your fancy plates and be creative!

Photo-bomber Athena checking Freddie out!

Photo-bomber Athena checking Freddie out!

Freddie has been a popular addition to the Saturday Morning Weight Watchers meeting. So popular, in fact, that a couple members decided to get their own weight loss buddy to keep them accountable.

Theresa, who was the inspiration behind Freddie, adopted Mr. Q. She dubbed him Mr. Q until she could find a proper name for him. However, she said that the name stuck because he was always asking her questions. “How many Points Plus is that food?” “How many ounces of water have you had today?” “Do you have your Active Link on?” Mr. Q has helped Theresa have a WW friendly high tea with her grand-daughter and helps her make countless healthful choices during the day. I am so thankful for Theresa’s friendship and her priceless gift of laughter. I think that 2013 is going to be a phenomenal year for her and Mr. Q. She is one of the kindest women that I know and bought her dear friend Linda a weight loss buddy who happens to be Mr. Q’s twin.

Theresa's buddy Mr. Q really encourages healthy Spaces and Routines!

Theresa’s buddy Mr. Q really encourages healthy Spaces and Routines!

Mr. Q and his twin. Theresa's gift to Linda.

Mr. Q and his twin. Theresa’s gift to Linda.

Erinn also recently purchased a buddy to help her stay accountable. Isn’t Myra a cutie?

Erinn loves that Myra is small enough to fit in her handbag and keep her accountable wherever she goes.

Erinn loves that Myra is small enough to fit in her handbag and keep her accountable wherever she goes.

Erinn has two small children and is a wonderful healthy role model for them. She said they were pulling out of their house for an appointment when her son proclaimed, “Mommy, we forgot Myra!”

She said they also have been stopping to access whether a snack is healthy and that her kids are interested in learning about nutrition and how various foods impact their bodies.

Erinn is a source of inspiration to us all as she asks questions and takes advantages of the tools that WW gives her. I cannot wait to present Erinn with her milestone awards as she reaches for her healthy goals in 2013.

Myra cheering Erinn on as she completes her daily workout on the treadmill.

Myra cheering Erinn on as she completes her daily workout on the treadmill.

As the year progresses I can only imagine the adventures that await Freddy and the exciting places that he will travel. I know that he needed a bit of rest after a week at our house. Especially after I had to rescue him from a harrowing experience with our dog, Phoebe.

No WW Mascot's were hurt in the snapping of this photo. Phoebe did grab him and run but she was just curious.

No WW Mascot’s were hurt in the snapping of this photo. Phoebe did grab Freddie and run but she was just curious. 😉

Freddie has been an important reminder to us all that laughter is an essential part of weight management. I love to watch the faces of new members as they learn about Freddie, Mr. Q., and Myra. They know that not only are they going to learn valuable tips about nutrition and healthy weight loss, but they are also going to have a great time and find oodles of support in the process. I cannot thank my Saturday and Monday members enough for how much they enrich my life and keep me on track. It feels good to know that we are not alone and that we have each other to reach out to for support and understanding. The scale is not the most important part of our journey because there are so many elements that we can focus on to maximize our health. A few of our meeting room mantras are, “It is not perfection, it is progress,” “We are worth it,” and “Together we can achieve more!”

I will say that Freddie really has balanced my life in multiple ways. Not only did I lose two pounds the week that he stayed with my but he did urge me to do something rather wild!

Amy's new shimmery, violet highlights.

Amy’s new shimmery, violet highlights.

For the past couple years I have wanted purple highlights in my hair and last week I decided to go for it. I channeled my inner child and rediscovered my love for all things purple. Thank you Freddie for helping me be proud of who I am and for encouraging me to continue to chase after the woman that I am becoming.

2013 is not only going to be my year to be productive and healthy, but I am also going to remember to have a ball and laugh as much as possible. I hope that I inspire those who read my blog to do the same thing.