Checking in on My 2012 Goals and New Goals for 2013!

Here we are at the very last day 2012, about to enter 2013, so I thought I would go back and take a look at my goals from last year at this time and see how things went for me.  This year had some unexpected twists and turns (deployments and trainings) that threw a wrench into some of these goals, but as a military spouse, I expect that.  You just can't plan for it! 

1. Physical Activity at least 4 days a week- I would say that I reached this goal at about 75% for the year.  I was on the road traveling for 10 weeks total of the year and did not make it to a gym during that time.  Instead, I stayed active by walking a lot during my travels.  Most days I was walking a few miles, maybe even 5+ in some locations.  In Australia I even went hiking one day to maintain an active lifestyle.  While Ryan was deployed I was in the gym at least 4 days a week, but since he came home I have only been going 2-3 times.  I also nearly doubled my work schedule at WIC (temporarily) so that make it hard to get everything done for my other jobs and school, with limited time for sleep.  After Ryan came home I decided that a bigger priority was spending time with him (can you blame me, he spent a few months in Afghanistan!).  However, things are getting back to normal around here and I plan to get back into this for 2013.  I will be going back to my normal 20 hours a week at WIC and then will have more time to fit in my workouts (more than just walking the dog).

2. Cook dinner at least 2 nights a week- This went really well for the first part of the year.  Then the travel started.  Without a kitchen for around 10 weeks of the year, this was not possible!  When Ryan was deployed I cooked, but not "real" cooking.  I may have made some pasta and heated up some frozen veggies to add to it, but rarely did I cook anything from a recipe during that time.  Some nights I would cook and share with my neighbor, but for the most part, I just tossed together some things and called it dinner.

3. Make more From Scratch Weekends creations- Nope, not even close!  We talked about it, but apparently that was all talk.  I think in 2013 we need to bring back our From Scratch Weekends.

4. Tweet more nutrition tips- Initially I was into this, but as time became limited and I was working more hours, something had to take a back seat.  Twitter was it.  But, I am still out there on Twitter and hope to connect more with you there.  If you aren't following me, make sure to start now! I'm @RDontheMove.

5. Get started on a writing a book- This was definitely a success.  Not only did I start writing a book, I finished it.  And it is for sale already!!!  If you haven't seen it, it is called Train Your Brain to Get Thin.  It is available in stores and online.  After the new year, I will be giving away another copy on my blog.

6. Read more books for fun- Yes and no on this one.  I actually read more books this year than the previous, but it was still not what I was hoping for.  Maybe because I started a doctoral program and had to devote a lot of time to academic reading.  Good thing I find that material very interesting!

7. Continue with my travels around the world- Major success for this.  I spent about 10 weeks total away from home.  It started in February when we went to Sapporo for the Snow Festival.  Then in May/June I spent 5 weeks traveling in Israel (I actually went twice during these 5 weeks), Spain (I even attended a friends wedding in Spain), France (twice! and even took a cooking class while there), Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary.  When I came back, Ryan and I spent 1 week in Tokyo.  A few weeks later I was off to Australia for 3 weeks!  I would say that I did a fine job traveling the world in 2012.

8. Grow my private practice- There was an unexpected bump here, but this turned out to be a good thing.  Once I started at WIC I was pretty much unable to see private clients because of the potential for conflict of interest.  Instead I sell my book through this company and donate nutrition services when auctions come up.  I am available for consult, but I am not actively advertising this.  Plus, I post tips on FB on my company page.  Don't forget to "like" me on Facebook

9. Learn Japanese- I took all of the free classes offered on base and wanted to start with the classes at a local community center, however my travel schedule prohibited me from started.  Maybe in 2013, but I can't make any promises.  I think instead I will work on self learning using my books at home.
10. Update my blog- I had intentions of updating my blog, but my go-to person had a baby (technically that would be his wife) and that made him a little tied and I just never came back to the idea.  But, looking over things again, I think this is something I am interested in for 2013.  I think it will get me back on track with my own blogging.  That got away from me when I was lacking material without my husband around.  I was working on a book and spending a lot of time doing "boring" things.  I just didn't have anything to post and limited time for writing outside of my "jobs".  Now with my work schedule changing and having my husband back in Japan, I think I will have a lot more to blog about!

So it looks like I was partially successful in 2012.  The good news is that while some planned goals did not pan out, I had many unexpected good things pop up and this meant I had an amazing 2012.  For me, I think I was very successful overall.  I started a doctoral degree, started guest blogging on 2 RD websites, wrote a book, submitted my first paper to a journal (still waiting to hear, so fingers crossed!), continued with my volunteer activities in dietetics and as a military spouse, and I got a job on base with WIC (on base, good paying jobs in your field are hard to come by on overseas bases).  I would say I had a pretty amazing 2012 and I look forward to seeing what 2013 holds for me.

Here are my goals for 2013:
1. Physical Activity at least 4 days a week
2. Cook Dinner at least 2 days a week
3. Make more From Scratch Weekends Creations
4. Create more of an @RDontheMove presence on Twitter
5. Continue with my world travels
6. Continue learning Japanese
7. Promote myself as a Nutrition Expert (through guest blogging, my own blog and my FB page)
8. Update my blog
9. Get published in a professional journal 
10. Continue working on my doctoral degree

Well, there you have it (and now you can keep me to it!), my recap of 2012 and my goals for 2013.  Some may seem boring or seem like things I should be doing and don't need to really set as my goal (like continuing with school), but some of these are difficult to maintain so I like to keep them as goals written down on paper.  This will help me stay on track and remember what was important to me at the beginning of the year.  I prefer goals to resolutions.  I have never liked that word.  I feel like goals better meet my needs.  They are fluid, they are dynamic, they are lead to smaller milestones I can set and reach easily throughout the year.  They are not these lofty resolutions that loom over my head and I beat myself up over when I don't stick with them after the first few weeks of the new year.  Some aren't meant to be achieved in January.  I have all year to work on these goals.  Rather than resolving to do something, I am determined to better myself by achieving these goals...the goals that are what I want, not what society things should be my resolutions for the year.  So that is where I am with looking back on last year and forward to the next.  How about you?

QUESTIONS:  What are your goals for 2013?  Did you meet your goals for 2012?  How will you spend NYE?

We got a Starbucks! And Potluck Food

First off, Merry Christmas to all my readers that celebrate this holiday.  Although I don't, my husband does, so we have already exchanged gifts, had an extra special breakfast, and will soon head to get some Chinese for dinner (the standard Christmas day out for Jews!)

I am slowly gathering up pictures that have yet to be posted.  I have some time off from work now, which is nice, so I am hoping to get caught up on posts and sharing pictures.  

I know I mentioned this before, but things have gotten very crazy around here and I have found myself without a lot of free time for blogging.  I went from 16 hours at WIC to 31 hours most weeks (going back to 20 in Feb!).  On top of that I was teaching 2 classes, as well as taking 2 classes (in a doctoral program), writing on 2 other websites monthly, and then add in some volunteer activities...yeah, I have been busy!

The good news is that while I may have been too busy to work on this blog, I did have some time to hang out with friends and Ryan.  One of those great evenings with friends included a potluck to celebrate the going away of one of our Key Spouses.  For those of you that are not associated at all with the military you are probably wondering what a Key Spouse it.  Basically this is a squadron appointed volunteer position where I help keep spouses connected to what is going on with the squadron and on base when their spouses are deployed.  We also help organize events for families when our spouses are busy with exercises and extra long days at work.  It is something I really enjoy doing and I love all of my other Key Spouses for our squadron.

Here are some pictures of the foods we made for the going away potluck.

Mac and Cheese
Taco Bar
7 Layer Bean Dip (which I made!)
This bean dip ends up being my quick, go-to recipe for potlucks.  In case you are interested, it is super easy, and here are the ingredients.

Starting from the bottom and working your way up:
Refried beans (I use 1 can fat free refried beans)
Guacamole (I mash 1 avocado with garlic powder and some lime juice)
Diced tomato
Sour cream (I use light)
Green chilies (or jalapenos)
Black olives 
Shredded cheese

Next up I have some pictures to share of the local Japanese apples.  Apples are a major product from the region where I live in Japan.  They can get quite pricey, but for the most part they are some of the highest quality apples you will find.  A few weeks back we found the biggest apple we have ever seen. 

Here it is leading the pack of "baby" apples!
It is a little hard to tell, but this apple is huge.
This picture may give you a better idea of just how bog this apple really is.  Yeah, just a little smaller than my head!  Surprisingly, this was very flavorful.
The apple was to compliment the other items we purchased to make up our sophisticated movie watching snacks.  This included some olives.
We served them in our olive dish that we bought when we lived in the Azores.
Here is the apple inside.
French bread of course.
Who could resist a cheese platter like this?  Certainly not us!
Lots of goodies inside.
We also picked up some Japanese baked goods for the next day.  

Oh, and we enjoyed wine with our cheese plate.  There is always wine!  We lived in Europe for 2 years, so wine is still very much a part of our lifestyle!

Now I want to share a major milestone for this area.  You may not think Starbucks is a big deal, maybe overrated and overpriced, and really just a luxury and not something we need.  But, I know many of you probably still go to Starbucks or at least recognize that this is a coffee symbol and a symbol of the US.  Therefore, living abroad for the last 3 years without access to a Starbucks has increased the value this has for us.  We have plenty of other good coffee chains around, so I could go on living without a Starbucks, but that didn't stop us from driving 30 minutes to get to the new Starbucks in Hachinohe.
Tokyo and other areas already have Starbucks, so this is not new to Japan.  However, I think the nearest Starbucks to the base (not counting the cafes on base that brew Starbucks) is about 90 minutes away.  This is the first location in this area and people went nuts when it opened.  Nuts?  Not kidding, I heard that traffic blocked up the roads and wait times for the drive through was insane.  I read one article that said people waited 7 hours in line to sample coffee.  Yeah, we were not those people.  We waited until about a month or so after opening before trying it out.  It was busy, but not a ridiculous wait.  I was definitely glad we went.

Here is the parking lot.  They picked a good location.  Across the street you can see the hospital.
Inside they had many good looking food options, but we just stuck with ordering drinks.
Nearing the end here, I promise.  I know this post is not the most exciting! 

Here is a red wine that Ryan and I bought when we were in Paris.  It traveled back to Portugal with us and then all the way to Japan.  Thankfully we were able to ship our wine collection in our household goods.  
We enjoyed this wine with some perogies, which Ryan cooked up for us.  They were not as good as our homemade ones, but they were good, and certainly took less time than the homemade ones.
That brings me to my last picture.  I had a Scentsy Party!  I had never heard of this company until I moved overseas and I am definitely hooked.  I am allergic to a lot of scents, but I have also found tons that I can tolerate.  I even use it in my office at work.  My office smells like peaches, which I love because I am a dietitian and get to talk about healthy eating with our WIC participants.  Here is Ashley, my lovely (and very pregnant) Scentsy consultant.  She is awesome!  I had some friends show up and we all had a nice afternoon playing some games and smelling the scents.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever heard of Scentsy?  Are you a Starbucks fan?  What did you do to celebrate Christmas?

Happy Hanukkah from Japan

Happy Hanukkah everyone!  Yes, I am a little late, but better late than never.  Right?

Last year I tried to get my friends together for a Hanukkah party but the close proximity to Christmas and lots going on made it difficult.  This year I decided not to even try and just celebrate at home with my husband.

That was until my friend Emily asked if I was having a party.  I said no and she told me she would love it if I did.  Emily is an amazing woman so I was not surprised that within days she secured a room on base with a kitchen right in the midst of holiday season.  In nothing short of a (Hanukkah) miracle, we had a location, so all that was left was getting the word out.  Emily had learned about Hanukkah as a child and wanted the same experience for her children.  I quickly learned that some of my other friends also really wanted to celebrate with me.

So last Saturday, on the last day of Hanukkah, I threw Misawa's first (or what I believe to be the first) Hanukkah party.

Here is Emily helping me get ready.
I found Hanukkah plates and table cloths last year on base which meant that I had them for the party this year.
So cute!
I made matzo ball soup and latkes.  I know matzo ball soup is not your typical hanukkah food, but since my sister and I don't eat meat we always had matzo ball soup at every holiday.  Now a holiday just isn't a holiday without it!  I was really excited to see that I had so much room to cook.  Trust me, this room will be on my list of places to reserve for future parties.  It was awesome!
I make my latkes from the box mix.  Grandma always did when she hosted the party, so making them just feels right.  I think next year I plan to make them from scratch, but the thought of it not smelling like grandma's house from frying up the mix makes me a little hesitant to give up the tradition.  At the same time, I know I really should be making them from scratch.  We'll see how it goes.  I have a whole year to figure it out.
I decided to order a cookie cake.  My friend here has a cookie home business and does amazing work.  She did not disappoint this time!  I love how this turned out.  Amazing!
Emily made some rugelach, which are a kind of Jewish cookie/baked good.  They were awesome!
Since everyone else there was not Jewish, I went over the story of Hanukkah, explained the traditional foods, taught the kids to play dreidel and lit the menorah.  We had an awesome time.  I am really thankful that Emily asked me to do this.  I am also really thankful to find that so many of my friends cared and were interested in learning more.  It was a lot of fun.  I hope we can make this a Misawa tradition.

QUESTIONS:  Did you go to a Hanukkah party this year?  What is your favorite holiday tradition?  Di you host any parties this year?

Sweet Potato Soup Guest Post (and winner)

The holiday season is an incredibly busy time.  Factor in the end of the school semester (taking two classes, teaching 1 that ends before Christmas) and picking up more hours of work (2 co-workers had their last days) and it is easy to see why I am so busy that I can't even find time to relax and get some new posts up.  But I promise they are coming!

In fact, I wrote a guest post over at Stone Soup, the blog for the Food and Nutrition Magazine, which is from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  The theme was Fall so I decided to write about some of my fall favorites in Japan.  One of these is a sweet potato soup that I made from the Unno potato.  Ever heard of the Unno?  Yeah, I hadn't either.  It is s purple variety of sweet potato local to the area where I live in rural northern Japan.  Actually, the outside of the potato is purple but the inside is a creamy color that turns orange when you cook it.  

In Japan there is a restriction on potato imports from the US.  This means all of the potatoes we get at the commissary are Japanese.  Around Thanksgiving time a lot of people will ask about getting in American sweet potatoes so that they can make their favorite dishes.  Sadly, the answer is no.  The closest thing in Japan to an American yam for the holidays is the Unno potato.  People make do, but I have heard that it is just not the same for sweet potato pie.  I guess the answer there is stick with canned.  For me, I am happy to experiment with the Unno potato.  It worked perfectly in the sweet potato soup I came up with. 

So head over to Stone Soup and check out my post:

Oh, I nearly forgot.  I did select a winner for a copy of my book.  I never heard back, so I have selected another winner.  Congratulations to Jessie from the Happiness in Health!

Train Your Brain to Get Thin: Book Giveaway

I have the most exciting news first book is published and ready to be released.

Earlier this year I spent most of my time hard at work writing Train Your Brain to Get Thin.  Well, hard work does pay off and I am happy to say that I finally have a copy of my book in my hands.  Actually, I have more than 1 copy and I am giving one away to a lucky reader.

For those of you that don't know, weight management is one of my speciality practice areas as a dietitian and I worked in weight management before moving overseas.  This is definitely an area of interest of mine.  I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to combine two things I love- writing and weight management (helping people lose weight and develop healthy habits).

Here is more about my book, and to keep it simple, here is what it says about Train Your Brain to Get Thin on Amazon:

Conventional wisdom has always been that in order to lose weight, you need to eat less and move more. But skyrocketing obesity rates tell us that it's not that simple. If you really want to get in shape and stay that way, you need to start at the top--with your brain.
The latest research in neuroscience shows that the brains of overweight people are different than the brains of lean people--and not in a good way. Yet, you can train your brain to think like those skinnier counterparts--and leverage that brainpower to drop those extra pounds for good.

In Train Your Brain to Get Thin, you'll learn how to:
  • Control hunger levels to reach and maintain optimum weight
  • Defeat emotional eating at its core
  • Feed the brain the nutrients it needs for optimal performance
  • Trick the brain into working for, not against, weight loss
  • Get "addicted" to exercise, not food
  • And much, much more!
Train Your Brain to Get Thin combines the latest research in both neuroscience and human behavior to give you the brain-changing program you need to get fit, look good, and feel great--for life!

You may be thinking that this is not really my first book, and you are correct.  However, for The Muffin Tin Cookbook I was a contributing author so I consider this project to really be my first since it is the first full length book I have had published.

I want to thank each and every one of you.  I may not have been blogging as much recently, but I do appreciate all the support you have given me over the past few years.  I am super excited about this and I am so happy to be able to share this accomplishment with you.'s time for a giveaway.  Yes, a giveaway.  What book release would be complete without a giveaway, right?!?!

To enter, please leave a comment here with one healthy change you have made over the past year.  For a second entry, tweet about this giveaway (and include @RDonthemove with the tweet) and then leave a separate comment letting me know. This giveaway will run until Wednesday, November 28 @ noon EST.  Winner will be chosen at random.

Oh, and have a very Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

My Guest Post on The Scoop on Nutrition

Just checking in.  While I have been busy hanging out with my husband after his return home, I have had some time to do some writing.  Of course all of this writing has been for other websites.  I have really enjoyed these opportunities to share my expertise on nutrition and a little about life in Japan.  My most recent piece just went up over at The Scoop on Nutrition, an awesome nutrition website/blog run by Emma Stirling from Australia.  Although I wasn't able to meet up with her at ICD, I do follow her on Twitter, and you should too (@EmmaStirling).  

So head on over and check out my post: 7 Healthy Lessons to Eat Like the Japanese

I'll be back soon with more on life in Japan, good eats, travel and nutrition.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever been a guest blogger before?  Would you like to write a guest post for my blog?  Feel free to share the link(s) for your guest posts on other blogs.

Best News Ever!

My husband is safely home from a deployment!!!  I bet you were wondering why I haven't posted in a while.  Well, it's because I was busy getting ready for his return and in the 2 weeks since he has been back I have been using all of my free time to be with him.  But, I promise I will be back to blogging soon with fun and exiting pictures and details about our life here in Japan.  

It was so hard for the time he was gone to have fun stuff to post about because I was mostly at home working.  At least I had those 3 weeks in Australia to write about otherwise it may have been months without getting anything posted.  I had my friends here on base for support and to hang out with and I got off base whenever possible, so it wasn't the worst.  It is just much more fun when I have him around and I have a lot more "material" to write about.

Just wanted to check in and let everyone know I am still here.  Yep, still here and very happy to have my husband home!

Hakkoda Mountain Fall Hike

Over the weekend I had the chance to spend the day hiking in the Hakkoda Mountains of northern Japan.  I was really excited for this trip because I know the fall colors would be amazing.  What I didn't expect was the phone call the day before to let me know I better dress extra warm.  It had started snowing on the mountain!  Well, I didn't let that deter me.  I just bundled up and went for it.

The day started pretty early for a Saturday.  I went with Outdoor Recreation, which is a service/store offered on base that takes care of all your outdoor and adventure needs.  Needless to say this trip required me to be there at 6:30 am so we could get an early start on the day, which included about 5 hours of hiking.  The bonus for me was the hot spring resort at the end!

In order to start our actual hike we took the ropeway out across to another base or place to start from, instead of starting all the way at the beginning.  The ropeway, which many of you probably know as a cable car, was actually much longer than I expected.  Apparently it runs in the winter too.

Here you can see the cables starting at this end and then ending all the way off in the distance. 
As we took of we got our first glance of Aomori City in the distance with Mutsu Bay just beyond that.  You can also see the colors just changing on the tops of the trees below.
We were a lot closer to the tops of the trees than I had anticipated.

Then another peak came into view.
I love this picture because you can see the shadow of the cable car down there.
At the very top where the ropeway ends you can see much better off to the city in the distance.
Here I am, freezing because of the wind, but ready to get the hike started.  
We were going to do a trail that took us to a different ending spot than where we started, but others hike a loop and then come back here to take the ropeway back down.
I stopped along the way often to take pictures of the beautiful scenery.  Although it is now fall, you can still see a lot of green.

Another fun picture of me with the sun rays coming through.
Gaining in altitude.
With the altitude comes the snow!
I was amazed to see it, even though the guide told us it had been snowing, so I have no idea why I was surprised.
Here is a really great view to Aomori City and Mutsu Bay.
I did it!  I reached the summit of this peak, although there are a few more in this area.  This is actually not the highest, but the second highest.  We did not have time for the highest of these three, so we did the two smaller ones.
This one is known as Akakura-Dake and is 1,548 meters.  It was formed by a volcanic eruption many years ago.
Here I am again, with the sign, totally freezing because it is not only cold but extra windy at the top.  But I was happy that it was a clear day.
More snow!  After we reached the top we followed the trail along and went down a little and then back up to reach another peak.

At the top of the second peak there was a little temple.
Pretty views!
This is Ido-dake and it is just a little shorter at 1,550 meters.
Another beautiful shot.
Then we took at a look at the crater that was formed here with the volcanic eruption.

One last stop to pose with the scenery before heading down to that cabin below and enjoying some lunch.
If you look closely you can see the cabin down below.
If you couldn't see it before, I am sure you can see it now.  I was so excited to finally be at the bathroom!
After lunch there was no more uphill, just flat and down hill sections.

It was super muddy so many areas had these wooden planks to walk on.
Then, before I knew it, the resort was in view, just below.
I took a deep breath and realized I was about to enjoy my first onsen experience.
This was at the very bottom before heading to the resort area.  We were all the way up there and made our way down through some very muddy conditions.  But it was all worth it for the views and the natural hot springs.
This particular onsen is co-ed.  I was NOT up for that, so the guide kindly showed me to the private women's onsen.  Why would co-ed bother me?  Well, if you are not familiar with an onsen, let me fill you in.  This is a tradition in Japan.  They have many natural hot springs all over.  An onsen is like a public bath.  The bathing is done in the nude.  There is a whole process for this.  You need to shower first, sitting on a little stool, and making sure you are clean.  Then you go and soak in the natural hot spring water.  It is very relaxing, but you can only stay in for so long because it is really hot.  I was a little hesitant because in our group I was the only female and I have never done this before.  I did get a lesson once on what to do but it was about a year ago, so I really just had no idea.  I am glad that I decided to just go for it and enjoy the experience.  I don't think I did anything wrong and I don't think I offended anyone, so that is a good start!  It was definitely a much needed treat after the hike.

QUESTIONS:  Have you gone hiking this fall?  Are the leaves changing where you live?  Have you ever been to an onsen?  Any other public bathing experiences?