Archive for January, 2011

The Snow is Testing My Resolve, and I am WINNING

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

YES – with one day left to go for the month, I am at 83 miles of walking. I got into a great groove of doing 3 miles in 48 minutes on the elliptical machine. I managed to walk 20 miles this week without leaving the house. Take that Mr. Winter. February being only 28 days, I am set mentally to walk three miles every day on the elliptical machine if need be.

Pistou Soup – this is for you Jean

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Initiation – Jean, my lovely sous chef for making this soup wanted the recipe. Okay, I need to confess, being the sous chef requires you do pretty much ALL the work for this soup. Jean – find yourself a sous chef and this soup becomes VERY easy to make.

Planning – as stated above, the first requirement for making this soup is having someone capable of using a sharp knife without injuring themselves to help you. You (or they) will be cutting a LOT of vegetables into small bits. You will also need a large stock pot.


1/4 cup good olive oil
3 large Leeks
10 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh oregano
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 large acorn squash
10 large roma or heirloom tomatoes
2 cups softened red beans (you can use canned but drain them well)
2 cups softened large white beans (canelli beans, lima beans or some other white beans – not Fava though as some folks have a unknown severe allergy to fava beans).
1 – 2 cups left over pasta cut into small bits (I use the pasta I make for this)


Wash and slice the leeks.
Place them into the stock pot on very low heat with the olive oil. You are going to “sweat” the vegetables BEFORE you add the water. This releases much more flavor into the final soup. Keep the temperature low – you are not browning anything in this recipe.
While they are sweating, peel and thinly slice the garlic. Add to the leeks to sweat the garlic as well.
Finely chop the basil and oregano. Add this to the sweating vegetables.
Peel the acorn squash. Remove the seeds and put aside (you can roast these later to munch on).
Dice the acorn squash into 1 inch squares. Add to the sweating vegetables. Cook for about 20 minutes BEFORE adding the tomatoes.
Cut the tomatoes into the same small squares – skin, seeds and all. Add to the sweating vegetables. sweat for another 15 minutes.
Add the softened beans. sweat for another 15 minutes.
Put 4 – 8 cups water (depending on the volume and thickness of the soup you want to make).
Heat slowly. Then add the left over pasta.
Salt and pepper to taste.
When serving, sprinkle with fresh herbs and squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice

Monitor and Control

Keep the temperature low
This recipe is a take your time type of thing. It is good if you are multi-tasking with this making other things – like making bread, posting other recipes in your blog, etc.
Make sure anyone you have helping you knows to keep the temperature low on the stove – especially when you add the tomatoes. If the temp gets too high, the tomatoes lose their shape and the soup looks like it has tomato puree in it instead of just little bits of tomatoes.
Also, make sure the acorn squash is mostly cooked (slightly firm and not mushy) before you put in the tomatoes.


This is a great soup to put in little containers and freeze. I use glass bowls with good lids and move it right to the microwave for a nice lunch.

Walking and Working – Need a New Strategy

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
On location with the company photographer - Jody Kasch.  The key to looking great is to have a great photographer.

On location with the company photographer - Jody Kasch. The key to looking great is to have a great photographer.

This was my first full week of work of the new year. And I was at an off site meeting all week. I managed to walk 22.2 miles. 5 miles fewer than the week before. I did all my walking the first thing of the day. These days were packed in strategic planning meetings. I knew if I didn’t make it out the door in the morming, I was most likely not going to make it out at all. Overall I consider it a win. I’m still ahead of where I need to be for the month.

This week is a bit tougher as I am back in the Northeast of the US working with the staff that is in this part of the country. I need to gear up for walking in the winter or just resign myself to getting most of my miles in on the elliptical machine.

The Random Kindness of Strangers With The 1000 Mile Challenge

Monday, January 10th, 2011
We decided to wear quikwik socks with our water shoes for the walk where we have to cross a stream in our water shoes.   It stopped the blisters.  But it just means we walk a few miles in wet socks inside the water shoes.

Quikwik socks in the water shoes stopped the blisters. We walk a few miles in wet socks inside the water shoes but no more tape or blisters.

I walked 6 of the 7 days this week for a total of 27.8 miles.  The nordic poles  increased my speed plus the foot and shin pain are gone.  I’m sold on using the poles.   This means more days where I can walk because I’m not recovering from some minor injury.

My walking buddy and I got lost on one of our walks.   Our three mile walk ended up an aggressive hill climb of five miles.     We ended up in a pretty shady section of town.   I’m considering taking a self-defense course to learn how to use a taser.

We backed off to the routes we knew well.   On one of our standard routes – we keep seeing the same people.   Yesterday,  a couple stopped when they were driving by.  The driver said – “he (pointing to his passenger) is a personal trainer.”   (I was then expecting a pitch for his services as a personal trainer). Instead he says – “Lady, we think you are doing an f&*^%ing great job of walking.”   That was so nice to hear.  I have been working on my walking technique.  Funny as before I took the chi walking class, I never even thought about my walking technique.     Focusing on technique has made the walking far more interesting.

Irrational Behavior and How to Use it to Your Advantage

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

It’s the start of a new year, and like every new year, I set goals for the year. These are different than “resolutions” as I fully intend on meeting them. Some of these goals are the same from year to year: get in better shape, spend more time with my family, work smarter (not necessarily harder), decrease expenses, increase revenue, be the change I want to see in the world, end world hunger, get a super power… This year I set a new goal. I will walk 1,000 miles before the end of the year. Instead of approaching this goal rationally, like I’m prone to do for any project, I wanted to apply the ideas in the book “Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior”, by Ori and Rom Brafum. If I behave irrationally naturally as the authors point out, I may as well behave irrationally in a way that helps achieve my objectives.

Several years ago, when I first read the Brafum’s book, I created a summary mind map to better harness my own irrational behavior.

Leveraging Irrational Forces For Your Advantage

Leveraging Irrational Forces For Your Advantage

Here is how I will use Sway to help me walk 1,000 miles this year:

1. Commitment – The Brafum’s state that people will stick with a course of action even if it is clearly not the way to go. Doing the math, walking 1,000 miles in a year will require me to walk at least 85 miles every month. If I am only able to walk 80% of the time (setback by the thousands of excuses I can generate) that means I have to walk 3.2 miles every day I manage to get off my computer. If I publicize these figures, I am likely to be more committed to it (what I’m doing here). I am less committed to updating progress, but will be doing so from time to time on my blog – It will be filed under the category “Thousand Mile Walk”.

2. Value Attribution – High tech shoes, pedometer apps on my iPhone, Nordic walking sticks, that posh walking clinic to learn how to do Chi walking (see blog post) – these all make me want to walk MORE. Admittedly, I am a gadget, gizmo, techno head. I am inspired by this personality characteristic.

3. Diagnostic Bias – People live up to how others label them. Proactively, I label myself as a Chi Walker. Chi Walking is a fascinating technique. You focus on your posture with all types of ways to align your body to get a great workout while reducing the chance of overuse injuries. I am a chi walker who is on a 1,000 mile journey.

4. Perception of Fairness –When I was a new, young bride, my husband, who was almost a foot taller than me, would walk at a leisurely pace and I had to jog just to keep up with him. It felt so unfair and demoralizing. What I learned in Chi walking is you walk based on the pace and gait that is right for you. It doesn’t matter if the pace is right for anyone else. I am short, and therefore my gait is shorter than other people. Chi walking uses a core rotational technique that helps me move faster while maintaining my shorter gait. I can keep pace comfortably when walking with my taller (actually, average height) friends. It now feels “fair”.

5. Motivation – Different pleasure centers are activated in your brain based on your source of motivation. Materialistic rewards of achieving a goal don’t cut it for me as much as the intrinsic feeling of accomplishment I get for reaching that goal. According to Barfum’s book, this is pretty much the same for all people. Pushing myself past my 3.2 mile per walk goal gets me excited. Having somewhere fun to walk to with my family or friends gets me motivated to go out and walk.

6. Value of Dissenting Opinions – My parents raised me to challenge current authority, a trait I have passed down to my children. They all feel free to openly challenge the way I walk, where I’m walking, when I’m walking, how fast I’m walking, who else is walking with us, why we’re walking, the current weather conditions, our shoes, the brand of moleskin for blisters, pedometers, how much water to bring, and who will be our support vehicle if something goes awry. This creates a tremendous amount of focus and energy around the very act of going for these daily walks.

7. Aversion to Losses – A couple years ago, my mom and I were taking a water aerobics class from this character we nicknamed “Boot Camp Bob”. In his flag baseball cap over his shaved head, he barked exercise instructions at us while John Phillip Sousa music blared from pool’s sound system. He used to shout – “Get moving you pansies so you don’t end up in the nursing home.” This inspired my walking mantra – get moving, stay young. According to Newton’s first law of motion, a body in motion stays in motion

I’m now inspired to act irrationally and achieve my 1,000 mile walking goal. How can you harness the power of irrational forces to achieve your goals?

A. What commitments drive your current behavior? How can you change your commitments?
B. What value do you place on achieving your goals? How can you increase the value for you?
C. What labels can you use on yourself that will help you achieve your goal?
D. How can you make it a “fair” game to achieve your goal?
E. What intrinsic motivators get you fired up to go for your goal?
F. Who challenges you? How can you get them to do it more so you get a fire in your belly to go for it?
G. What will you lose if you fail to reach your goal? How can you avoid experiencing that loss?

Be irrational. It might just help you go for it!

Safe Sunscreen?

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

It now appears that using some suncreens, instead of helping to reduce your chances of getting skin cancer actually increase it. ARRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH. Visit the Cosmetic Safety Database site to see what toxins are in your skin care products.

I created a summary mind map for sunscreens.

The Skinny On Safe Sunscreen

The Skinny On Safe Sunscreen