Month: June 2011

Foolproof Dijon Crusted Wild Salmon

When I saw that wild salmon was on sale for $5.99 per 6 oz portion (from 8.99 each) at Whole Foods this week, I knew I had to have it. I wanted to come up with a super simple foolproof way to cook the salmon, and this hit the nail right on the head. Wild salmon is very flavorful on its own and doesn’t need much added to it, but the mixture spread over the salmon added a wonderful flavor, and the crunch of the corn flakes on top added a perfect texture against the smooth salmon.

Dijon Crusted Wild Salmon

Entire recipe yields two servings, 7 pts+ each.

This recipe is so simple, it’s hard to even call it a recipe, but here is what you need:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Plain nonfat yogurt (greek or regular)
  • dijon mustard
  • crust of choice – I used corn flakes but you could do panko crumbs, saltine crackers, or anything else that’s a little crunchy
  • Plus of course, the salmon

To start, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and then season the salmon with salt and pepper to taste.

Next, mix together equal parts dijon mustard and plain yogurt – I used 1 tbsp of each.

It turns into a thick, completely delicious sauce that you can use on LOTS of things.

But for now, spread it over the seasoned salmon evenly in a thin layer.

Next, top the salmon with your crust of choice – I used 2/3 cup crushed corn flakes. The topping will stick because of the yogurt/mustard mixture, so all you really have to do is sprinkle it on.

Transfer the prepared salmon to a greased baking sheet.

And cook for 10 minutes. It won’t look too different when it’s done.

Serve as desired, with veggies and/or a grain, or as I did over arugula with more of the mustard/yogurt mix for a dressing.

This salmon was incredible, albeit simple! It holds up very well as leftovers, too – I made it Monday night and then had the same salad for lunch on Wednesday and it was completely delicious. I love how salmon is also very healthy, and when its on sale, I have a hard time resisting!

Do you cook fish at home often, tend to order it only in restaurants, or stay away from it all together?

When Wil and I eat together at home, we almost always make fish because it’s something we can both agree on. I do tend to order it at restaurants often, and only cook it at home 1-2 times a week max.

Lifetime: Now What?

Since hitting Lifetime, I’ve gotten several questions from readers about what my plans are in terms of healthy living and involvement with Weight Watchers, and thought it’d be good to address them all in one post in case others are wondering the same thing.

Bottom line is, not too much will change from what I’ve been doing, and I will continue to blog, which has been another concern expressed. The whole idea of “Beth’s Journey” is that the journey is never over, so I plan to continue to blog through thick and thin and consider maintenance just another step on this journey to a healthier me.

Here’s a breakdown of each area and my plans:

Eating

Eating will stay pretty much the same for me, as I continue to try to eat a mostly whole foods pescatarian diet. I feel like I’ve found a good balance of eating healthy and splurging, though lately will all the travel on the weekends its been leaning towards “splurging” a little more than it should be. I know it’ll balance out a bit once things calm down, but not much will change in this department. I plan to try to keep posting a new recipe each Thursday because I’ve been really enjoying experimenting in the kitchen!

Zucchini Burgers

Exercising

To be honest, I’ve been majorly slacking with exercise over the last few weeks. I got kind of sick last week and had to go to the doctor, but I’ve used that as an excuse NOT to work out at all. Now that Marathon Training has (supposedly) begun, I’m going to try to exercise 4-6 times a week to get myself ready for the big day in October. A few notes about this program – I did try to put in MORE than I plan on doing so that there’s some flexibility if I want to miss a workout. At the minimum, I will run 3x a week – one short, one speed work, and one long run on the weekends. Training for races is always the best way for me to stay on track with exercising – especially big ones like this because the training lasts for several months.

Tracking

I used to absolutely DREAD tracking when I first started WW, but I know that it works. I now somewhat enjoy the comfort that it brings and don’t dread it nearly as much. In a weird way, tracking makes me feel safe. I will continue to track during the week, and occasionally on the weekends, but not religiously. If I have an overly indulgent weekend, I’ll probably go back to the 29 pts+/day for the following week, but I’m trying to NOT track when I’m away for the weekends and just mindfully enjoy myself. I feel like I did a really good job of that this past weekend, despite it being so crazy. As a WW employee, I get free E-Tools, so I really enjoy having the tracker open and just plugging my food into there as the day goes by. It seems silly NOT to track, when I have the tools for free and I know what happens when I completely stop.

Weigh-Ins

I confess… I am an almost-daily weigher. I know some people cannot weigh themselves every day because it makes them crazy, but I’m crazy anyways and like to know where I stand. I try to not be so hard on myself even if the scale shows I’m up a little bit. I try to use some of the same techniques for myself that I use for WW members when I’m working, and think about WHY the scale might be showing a higher number. I will continue to weigh myself almost-daily at home, and stick with the once a month weigh ins required to keep Lifetime status current, as well as required by working for WW.

As a side note, I received the EatSmart Precious Plus Scale for free at FitBloggin’ and I LOVE it.

It’s got step-on technology, which means you step right on it when the screen is off and it gives you your weight, rather than having it tap it and wait for it to balance at 0. Even though it’s only a few seconds – time is precious!

Meetings

I work one or two WW meetings each week as a receptionist, and I just don’t have more time than that to give to WW meetings. I try to listen in on the meetings to see if I can get any new ideas, but I’m not going to be attending meetings outside of the ones I work, at least for now. When I first started WW back in March 2009, I attended the weekly meetings religiously. But since I rejoined in December 2010, I’ve been more or less hoping around from meeting to meeting and haven’t really found the perfect meeting for me, so I don’t feel tied to one meeting. Who knows though, that may change!

Are you a daily, weekly, or non-weigher?

Reunited

I cannot tell you how much I was looking forward to heading to Whole Foods after work yesterday! It was almost sad, but I hadn’t been there since MARCH (thank you blog) so it was definitely time to reunite. I checked out the weekly specials on the Whole Foods site, printed out some coupons, and drove to the store immediately after work. (Side note: if you are looking for tips on saving money at Whole Foods, check out Bargain Shopping at Whole Foods: It Can Be Done!)

After being away for the weekend, a bare fridge makes me cringe, but I literally had NO time to go on Sunday, so last night it was. I ended up spending just under $52, so managed to stay under budget, and here’s what I came home with:

Produce

  • Baby Arugula
  • Organic Kale
  • Organic Bananas
  • Organic Lemon
  • Yellow Mango x2
  • Organic Seedless Red Grapes

Everything Else

  • Whole Wheat English Muffins
  • Corn Tortillas (79 cents!)
  • Siggi’s Drinkable Yogurt
  • Cookies and Cream Organic Fro Yo
  • Nonfat Oikos Plain Yogurt
  • Low-fat Organic Cottage Cheese
  • Extra Firm Tofu
  • Organic Pizza Dough (1.5 lbs = $2.99)
  • Organic Shredded part-skim Mozzarella
  • Peppered Tofurky
  • 2 6oz portions of Wild Salmon (on sale for $5.99 each)

Some of the new-to-me items from this trip:

Stonyfield Cookies ‘n Cream Organic Fro Yo – 4 pts+ per serving, and I got it for $2.50. Full price was $3.99, plus $1 off from the Whole Foods store coupon, and 50 cents off manufacturer’s coupon.

Siggi’s probiotic drinkable non-fat yogurt. These were on sale for $3.50, plus the $1 off Whole Foods Coupon = $2.50 for the pack of four. The bottles are small, but only 1 pt+ each.

I’ll let you know how both of those are!

After coming home and sorting through my purchases, here’s what I came up with for a meal plan this week:

 

Breakfast Lunch Snack Dinner
Monday 2 Whole Grain Waffles w/PB + banana Subway veggie delite Veggie Orzo Soup Dijon Crusted Salmon
Tuesday English muffin w/pb + banana Other half of veggie delite, popchips Grapes + Siggi Yogurt Eggs w/cheese + veggies, toast
Wednesday Greek Yogurt w/frozen fruit + cereal Dijon Crusted Salmon over arugula Grapes, cottage cheese Individual Grilled Pizzas w/salad
Thursday English muffin w/pb+banana Leftover pizza w/salad Siggi Drinkable Yogurt + Grapes Kale Mozzarella Quesadillas
Friday Greek yogurt parfait w/fruit + granola Tofurky Sandwich w/grapes + massaged kale salad Cottage cheese w/banana Tofu + Soba Noodles w/peanut sauce + veggies

Since I didn’t get to go grocery shopping on Sunday, I went out and bought lunch yesterday and ended up getting a $5 Footlong (does that song come in your head too!?) Veggie Delite. I had half yesterday for lunch with chips, and will have the other half today with some Popchips from home.

This is another super busy week for me because I’m working Weight Watchers meetings tonight AND Thursday night since I’m switching to Thursdays permanently starting next week! If anyone is in the DC area and wants to come to the WW meeting at K street on Thursday nights, you should!!! =)

I’m also going away yet again this coming weekend, but this time it’s a birthday weekend away with Wil and should be VERY relaxing! My bday is one week from tomorrow (!), so we decided to make the most of the three day weekend and rent a cabin down in the Shenandoah Valley – can’t wait!!

What’s your go-to place for lunch out?

I usually go for Subway if we’re talking chains because I love that I can pile on as many and whatever veggies I want to a sandwich and it doesn’t cost extra! For a local place, I love The Juice Joint – their sandwiches are soooooooooo good.

Nonstop

Whew, what a weekend! It was very fun, but VERY busy, and we were literally going nonstop the whole time!

Saturday morning started bright an early with a 6:55am alarm so I could go work two meetings for Weight Watchers. I don’t normally work Saturdays, but I actually love working those meetings because it’s a great group and by noon you’re done for the day.

Immediately after I got out, I headed home, packed very quickly, and then Wil and I got on the road to Philly for my nephew’s baptism. We ended up hitting tons of traffic, and what should have been a two and a half hour trip turned into a four hour trip because of traffic – boo.  But we made it!

We had a delicious meal with lots of family at my sisters house and ended up hanging out there until 10ish.

Me with my sister Heather who lives in NYC:

Wil and I headed straight for the hotel and crashed hard when we got there because we were both so exhausted!

I woke up around 7:45 on Sunday and went out for a four mile run. The weather was PERFECT and it felt really good to be running – it was my first run in a week! Marathon training starts today, so I shouldn’t be able to say that again until November – crazy!

Anyway, after my run, we quickly got ready and headed to the baptism for my nephew Harper.

His gown for the baptism was SO cute and one that’s been in his dad’s family for quite a while.

I also got some QT with my other nephew, Ben.

As soon as the baptism was over, we hit the road to head back to DC. But it didn’t end there – we had a black tie event to attend!

I had to run out and find a dress and get ready in 45 minutes – no joke. I think I did pretty well, no?

That dress was also only $55 at Nordstrom Rack – score!

The event was the RAMMY’s – the restaurant association’s yearly award ceremony. The theme was Carnivale, so the details at the event were awesome, like the centerpieces at the table.

Wil and I had masks too, don’t worry!

It was a really fun event and lots of people from Wil’s work were there – many I’d met before, but some who were new-to-me so it was fun to meet a lot of them.

But now – somehow it’s Monday morning and the weekends over!?!

Have you been to a black tie event? What was the occasion?

Lifetime!!!!!

Yesterday was a BIG day for me in my weight loss journey – no pun intended. As many of you know, last month I hit my goal weight after two years, two months, and nine days of following Weight Watchers, and yesterday marked six weeks of maintaining that goal. That means I achieved Lifetime status  – the ultimate goal of any Weight Watcher and something I never imagined myself being able to say! Outside of completing my first half marathon which was a big moment for me in feeling like I really had changed my life, hitting goal and achieving Lifetime have been two of the most monumental days in my life.

It’s hard to believe that seven years ago, this was me:

And now, I looked like this:

I found a big stack of photos in my apartment the other day when I was cleaning a drawer out, and I hadn’t seen them in years and years. I was glad to have found them because at my meeting yesterday after weighing in, I was asked to give a speech about hitting Lifetime, what it means for me, and what I’ve learned along the way.

I remembered to bring some of these photos with me in anticipation of that speech, because a lot of people who aren’t aware of how much I have struggled with my weight have no idea how far I’ve come.

They don’t know how much I hid behind my obesity and stood on the sidelines of my own life. They don’t know how hard it was for me to be the fat sister, daughter, friend, girlfriend, or coworker and how much I was hurting inside.

I am just not that girl anymore. Sure, that’s ME in those photos somehow, but I am so different now that I can barely remember how I lived my life back then.

One question I get asked a lot is if I’m scared about gaining it back. And the truth is – no, I’m not. Sure, I may struggle with five or ten pounds here or there, in fact I’d be more surprised if I don’t struggle with maintaining my goal weight within a few pounds. That said, I am SUCH a different person now than I was, and there is no way I’m going back there. Though the changes on the outside are easy to see, it’s the changes on the inside that are the most important.

I feel like I’ve finally become an active player in my life instead of just letting life happen to me. I’ve created my own opportunities, I’ve challenged myself in ways I never had before, and I’ve learned to expect nothing but the best from myself. Developing that confidence in myself and my ability to do ANYTHING (Hell, I’m running a marathon this year!) is one of the biggest ways I’ve changed on the inside.

In case you’re curious about logistics, here’s what I got at my meeting yesterday:

A Lifetime Pocket Guide, a Lifetime Membership card, and a key charm symbolizing my status as a Lifetime member.

To treat myself, I went and got a manicure afterwards with shellac, which is supposed to last 2 weeks with no chipping!

I’m planning on doing a few other things for myself to celebrate, but for now I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and let it all soak in.

I’m Lifetime!!!!

Asian Style Tuna Burgers

I’d been toying with the idea of making burgers with canned tuna as the base for ages and finally got around to it Monday night. After talking it through with Wil, he suggested I either go Asian style or Mediterranean for the flavors. I told him I’d been thinking of doing a Tuna Nicoise burger with olives and potato right in the burger, and he liked my idea so much he stole it for use at his restaurant!

Since he took my idea, I didn’t feel so bad using his idea of going Asian style with these ones and BOY did they turn out good. The ingredient list is so short and they are super simple to throw together, but the texture and flavor of these burgers is just out of this world!

Asian Style Tuna Burgers

Serves 4. 3pts+ per burger. Printable recipe here.

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 scallions
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 cans tuna in water
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup egg whites (or one egg)
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

The first thing to do is get your veggies ready. Grate the carrot and mince the scallion, and combine them in a bowl.

Now it’s time to get the tuna ready. Open the cans and press the lids down to drain them.

I can never get enough liquid out doing it this way, so I opted to use cheesecloth to squeeze the liquid out further.

But you don’t HAVE to do that step.

Add the tuna to the bowl with the veggies.

Next, add in the rest of the ingredients – panko, egg, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.

Combine the mixture until its evenly mixed.

Now, divide into four patties.

How pretty are these!?

Last step – heat up a pan to cook them. I used nonstick spray, but you can use oil, butter, or anything you like.

Cook over medium-low for 4 minutes a side, and then flip.

Cook the other side for about 3-4 minutes until lightly browned, and they are done!

These are SO flavorful and well seasoned and don’t need any sauce or anything!

I served mine on a toasted english muffin with a side of steamed green beans.

Don’t worry – I didn’t forget the top!

These are seriously so good, and they hold up REALLY well for leftovers. I ate one for dinner Monday night, and then ate them for lunch for the next three days in a row because they were so good! I normally can’t eat the same thing for several days, but I made an exception for these.

What is your favorite canned product?

Mine is probably salsa, with canned beans as a close second!

Bolt Bus v. DC2NY

Before this past weekend, I would always drive to and from NYC. I have a Corolla so it’s pretty efficient on gas, and its nice being on my own schedule rather than having to be somewhere by a certain time. But then a few months ago I took a $15 bus to Philly and couldn’t believe how great it was. It had free wifi, I could sleep the whole time, and the trip was over before I knew it.

Now, I don’t mind driving, but with the price of gas and tolls these days, it turns out its way cheaper when I’m traveling alone to take a bus. I ended up taking one bus up to a NY and a different one home, so I thought I’d break down the pros and cons of each one in case you’re thinking about doing a DC/NY bus trip.

On the way up, I took Bolt Bus. My bus left at 2pm and I was in NYC around 7pm, so a 5 hour trip total.

Pros

Cons

– CHEAP. Only $15 one way. – Slightly less comfortable seats
– Great schedule. Lots of departure times during the week. – The bus STANK. Every time someone opened the bathroom door it would reek for at least 20 mins.
– Free wifi and outlets in each seat. – No movie
– Cup holders on the back of each seat! – Very cold air coming out of the vents

On the way back from NYC, I took DC2NY. The bus left at 1pm and I arrived in DC at 6pm – so 5 hours again.

Pros

Cons

– Very comfortable seats – Twice as expensive ($30 v. $15)
– Very clean bus. Smelled great. – Less frequent departures during the week
– You get to vote for whether you want to watch a movie or not.
– Free bottle of water!
– Free wifi and oulets
Overall, I enjoyed the DC2NY bus trip more, but I don’t know if its worth twice the money of the Bolt Bus price. I LOVED that they gave me a free bottle of water (you know I like free sh*t), but I could buy a bottle of water and a Bolt Bus ticket and be out less money…
——————————————————————————————————————–
Moving along.
While eating out in NYC was super fun, when all was said and done I ended up eating dinner out four nights in a row! I can’t even tell you the last time I ate out that many nights in a row, and let me tell you – I was actually excited to start cooking again. After a quick bite on Sunday with Wil, I ended up going to the grocery store to pick up some groceries so I could get back into the kitchen and get ready for the week.
I spent 39.66 at The Teet and got enough for several lunches and dinners, but I may need to go to the store again later this week.
First up, the produce.
  • Green peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Scallions
  • Pears
  • Blueberries (x3 – buy one get two free!)
  • Bananas

Everything else:

  • Chik’n Scallopini (see below)
  • Pistachio Gelato
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Fage 0%
  • Olive Oil Spray
  • Sliced Olives (x2)
  • Salsa x2
  • Cannelini Beans
  • Pinto Beans

This is a new-to-me product:

The stats are quite good, too:


2 pts+ each with 14 grams of protein!

I haven’t tried them yet but will keep you posted on how they are. I don’t usually have faux-meat products that often, but its nice to have things like that in the freezer on occasion for quick meals in a pinch.

What’s your preferred way to get places? Bus, train, plane, drive?

BYOB in NYC x2

When I was in NYC this past weekend, I went to not one, but TWO byobs. In case you’re unfamiliar, BYOs (or BYOBs) means Bring-Your-Own-Bottle, so they are restaurants where you can bring your own wine or beer (or liquor if that’s your style). BYOs are actually not that common in NYC, so it was kind of random to end up at them two nights in a row, but they were both awesome! It was kind of ironic too because completely unintentionally, I did a really great job taking pictures of the people at the first dinner but not of the food, and I did a great job taking pictures of the food at the second meal but didn’t get even one of the people.

Fu Sushi

The first BYO was Friday night, when I got to see two of my best friends from college that I hadn’t seen in AGES.

That’s me, Linds (who lives in Boston) and Leah (the NYCer). I hadn’t seen Lindsay since our friend Rachel’s wedding last August (!!) and it had been months since I’d seen Leah, so it was a treat.

We went to Fu Sushi in the Lower East Side, which was walkable from Leah’s apartment so another plus.

I did manage to snap this one picture of the seaweed salad I ordered, which was served so pretty in a martini glass.

Besides the seaweed salad, we ordered a bunch of appetizers to share including veggie tempura, fried shrimp dumplings, a house salad and a california roll. I also got a spicy crunchy tuna roll and an eel cucumber roll for myself (YUM), and all of the food was awesome. I HIGHLY recommend this place if you’re looking for good quality sushi at an affordable price, and like to bring your own wine and sake!

Our dinner table:

From the left – Harrison, Leah, Me Linds, and Jordan.

After dinner, we went back to Leah’s place for a little while and then out on the town until really late, which I hadn’t done in a LONG time.

I woke up really early on Saturday morning (7am) despite being out until 2 or 3 (?), and perhaps more shockingly didn’t feel so bad. That changed drastically when I went to a 90 minute yoga class with my sister a few hours later and was doing a lot of inverted postures that made my head pound, but it was worth it.

Saturday Night

My parents came to meet us late Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn, so we started off the evening with some champagne and cheese.

You know your family is full of foodies when your not quite 4 year old neice and not quite 2 year old nephew like stinky cheeses.

They had both already eaten dinner, but were going crazy for that cheese! We must be related. Winking smile

Heather ended up getting a babysitter for Claire and Ben and we got to go out to dinner with the five of us (Mom, Dad, me, Heather, Dan). We went to this cute little BYO that was walkable from Heather’s apartment called Petit Crevette.

Oh, hi Dad in the window.

As soon as we walked in, we got a full view of the kitchen which was tiny and completely open – always a good sign that nothing shady is going on!

Instead of having regular menus, the restaurant had menus posted up on the walls throughout, which I thought was a cute touch.

The menu was all seafood, with the exception of one beef burger, so if you don’t like fish, don’t go there. But, if you DO like fish, this place was amazing! We started off with four appetizers to share between the five of us.

Tuna Carpaccio

Salmon Carpaccio

Fried Oysters

And cremini mushrooms.

You probably won’t be shocked to know that the fried oysters were my favorite, but all four of them were awesome. The mushrooms didn’t seem that exciting, but they were VERY flavorful and delicious, and the carpaccios were both so fresh they practically melted in my mouth.

For my entrée, I got the seared scallops in a mustard vinaigrette with double veggies.

These were so sweet and tender, and absolutely delicious. They were supposed to come with mashed potatoes and veggies, but I don’t LOVE mashed potatoes so I went with double veggies instead.

Have you ever been to a BYOB?

If you had to choose between only having beer, wine, or liquor for the rest of your life, which would you pick?

No question for me – wine!

Weekend Recap Part One: The Bronx Zoo

Picture heavy post ahead – you’ve been warned!

Before this weekend, it had been almost a YEAR since I’d been to New York City! I know to some people that might not seem like a long time, but since I grew up in Connecticut, I’ve always considered NYC “my city”. I used to go there a lot with my family when I was little to see shows, go to dinner and just explore the city, and my sister Heather has lived there for over 10 years. One of my best friends from college, Leah, also moved there right after we graduated, so I’ve always had lots of reasons to go and usually visit at least a few times a year.

I’ve owed Heather a visit for a while, and after comparing schedules we finally found a weekend that worked for both of us! Rather than taking up your whole day by recapping my entire weekend, I’m going to tell you about our trip to the zoo today and share some tidbits, highlights, and pictures from the rest of the weekend throughout this week.

The Bronx Zoo

Friday morning started bright and early before 6:30am, since my nephew Ben enjoys waking up just after 5am (I’m not sure who in my family he is related to). I decided to make the most of it by getting out for a run around Brooklyn first thing, and ended up doing about 5 miles. Running around a city I’ve never been to (or haven’t been to in a while) is always one of my favorite ways to explore, and I’ve only been to Heather’s neighborhood once before this weekend, so it was perfect.

After I got back from my run, my niece Claire was awake too, so Heather, Claire, Ben and I all headed to the Bronx Zoo for the day. My dad used to take me and my sisters to this zoo a lot when we were kids, and I hadn’t been SINCE I was a kid, so it was fun to go back! A lot of the things were just as I remembered them, and its always so fun to do things with kids because they get so excited and it makes me appreciate the little things in life.

Claire and Ben were very eager to get into the zoo and get started with our day.

We saw some beautiful animals.

We goofed around.

We climbed.

We rode a bug carousel.

We watched a 4D movie and wore funny glasses. (In case you’re curious – a 4D movie has the same visual effects as a 3D movie, but your seat also moves, there were bubbles that came out of the screen, and we got splashed with water and blown with air!)

We fed some animals.

We got some souvenirs.

And some of us passed out on the way home.

I’m not naming names on that one. Winking smile

Overall, it was SUCH a fun day and made me feel like a kid again!

Are you a fan of zoos? What is your favorite animal to see?

My favorite is definitely the zebras – I’m always blown away by how beautiful they are.

Advice for Other Bloggers

Catchy title, no? 😉

I’ve gone back and forth on posting this many times because I don’t want to come across like I know it all, because clearly, I don’t. I hardly feel qualified to be dishing advice about how to make a blog “good” because mine is very much a work in progress (just like me!), but I get lots of emails and comments asking for my best tips for growing and maintaining a blog. Ask and I shall deliver. Please do keep in mind, these are just MY ideas and are in no way  the be all and end all. They are just things I have learned along the way through my own experiences and through attending blogging conferences.

Here goes!

1.) Be Authentic.

The most important part about having a “good” blog is to be yourself, hands down. Develop your own voice and stick with it, and while it’s natural for your voice and style to evolve over time, always be true to who you are and don’t try to be like anyone else. I try to be very “real” here and instead of portraying myself as perfect, I talk about it when I struggle so people can relate and I’m being true to myself rather than portraying an idealistic image that isn’t me! If you’re not being genuine, it will come through very clearly in your writing.

2.) Figure out what makes you unique and capitalize on it.

There are TONS of healthy living blogs out there, so in order to make your blog stand out and not be just another one in the mix, figure out what makes you unique and make the most of it. I think the top things that make my blog unique are:

  1. I’ve truly been a foodie all my life and have learned to transfer this love towards healthier food.
  2. I am not naturally athletic at all and have had to overcome lots of hurdles to complete two half marathons and many other races.
  3. I’ve dropped almost 90 pounds through Weight Watchers and have taken a whole foods approach to the program.
  4. I learned that I have a knack for being creative in the kitchen on a whim, and have gotten pretty good at documenting my recipes step by step.
  5. I live with a chef from the south and have figured out how to keep losing weight despite the obvious issue there.

3.) Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it.

When I first started blogging, I was posting 3x a day and they were very boring and not very substantive. I saw a lot of other big bloggers doing it, so I thought I should too. (See Tip #1). The trouble was, I didn’t have much to say besides showing pictures of my food, and the posts felt very forced. I wasn’t really ENJOYING blogging, and that’s what this is about after all.

After last year’s Healthy Living Summit, I realized I needed to make my blog my own and that 3x a day wasn’t right for me, so I went down to 2, and that was still too much. Over the last several months, I’ve been doing 1 post a day Monday – Friday that I usually pre-write the night before to post at 8:30am the next day. This means my readers know what to expect from me and when, and I’ve seen a big increase in readership since I’ve taken this new approach, even though it’s not what “everyone” is doing. This doesn’t mean you have to even post every day or at the same time every day, but be relatively consistent so your readers know what to expect. That said, I probably wouldn’t post too much less than once a week because you do want to have new and fresh content pretty regularly.

4.) Read and reread your blog posts before publishing.

Is it interesting? Would YOU want to read it if someone else was writing it? Sure, you should be your #1 fan, but let’s be real. If the answer is no, don’t post it. Also, use spell check, grammar check, and see what text you can cut down. Less is more. You don’t want someone coming to your blog and getting turned off from a typo in the first sentence when you’re actually a good writer. Little mistakes like that can make a big difference in your readership!

5.) Plan ahead

If you truly want to have a successful blog, it takes a bit more work than you might think at the beginning. Even my blog, which is quite small in comparison to a lot of the larger ones, requires a LOT of time. Not just with writing the posts, but in responding to emails (which I’m working on getting better at!), responding to comments, taking and editing photos, reading and commenting on other blogs, thinking about topics, etc. It adds up! I’d say I end up spending anywhere between 20 and 40 hours a week on my blog, so planning ahead is necessary so it can fit in with all my other obligations. I have a draft in my email inbox where I keep a list of blog post ideas (this one has been lingering on that list for quite a while!) in case I am having trouble thinking of a topic.

6.) Shift Your Focus.

When I first started blogging, I would load and reload the stats page constantly to see how many hits I could get a day. I would let the number of hits have a much larger impact on my day and mood than it should have. Then one day I realized – I was focusing on the complete wrong thing. Instead of using my time to pick through my stats with a fine tooth comb, I shifted that time towards planning posts, thinking of good topics to cover, refining my writing style, and developing my voice as a blogger. Once I made this shift and stopped caring so much about the numbers, I saw a substantial increase in the numbers. Go figure.

Another big reward that came when I started focusing on the content of my blog rather than the stats I was getting was when I noticed a big jump in participation on my blog in the comments section from readers who are NOT bloggers. Creating a sense of community has always been my ultimate goal here, so having people come here because they can relate to my writing and care enough to leave a note, send an email, or just be here to check out what I’m rambling about today is so fulfilling and reminds me WHY I started Beth’s Journey in the first place.

What am I missing? What keeps you coming back to some of your favorite blogs?

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