Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Research your food.

Before going out to eat, I always check the menu online to see what healthy choices are available to me. Sometimes, I strike out and the restaurant had nothing to offer that is up to par (Cheesecake Factory...Chipolte...). In those cases, I either eat half of the portion offered or pick a different restaurant.

Making a choice beforehand puts me in the driver's seat for sure.  It saves me from impulse ordering and allows me to make an informed an educated choice. After all, there are a lot of bad foods available for consumption and maybe it's just me, but I would rather have my workouts go toward losing weight and building muscle than trying to reverse the poor decisions I made while out with friends.

So, before you head out to dinner next time, remember that Google is your friend. Do your research and you'll be on the road to wellness in no time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Be thankful. 

One of the most powerful thing we can do for ourselves is give thanks.  The following exercise is intended to help us find things to be thankful for, even when we do not feel particularly thankful.

Take a piece of paper and a pen. Write down three (or more!) things for which you are thankful.

Feel free to share your list here or just keep it to yourself. No matter what you decide to do, focusing on the good things in your live helps you to keep the positive energy flowing.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."
~Psalm 107:1

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Get your family involved!

I remember when I first trying to lose weight after giving birth to my youngest. I felt like I was committed to my own weight loss goals but despite my best efforts, I just couldn't lose. One of the main reasons that I was failing was because even though *I* was buying healthy food for me, our cupboards were still packed with all the typical junk found in an average American's home: cookies, chips, ice cream, etc. In addition to that, I was spending the evenings laying around watching tv or movies. The combination was a recipe for disaster - When that midday hunger was striking, there was a wide array of foods for me to eat stuff into my face. And, I wasn't moving enough to compensate for my food choices.

After a couple of months of failing to lose more than a pound or two, I realized what was going on and asked my family to become more focused on the health and well being of our household. It became less about losing weight and more about eating right and being active in order to be healthy. When everyone in my family was on board, I started to have more success. And instead of the kids seeing Mommy "dieting" by eating different foods than the rest of the family, we started to find recipes that were healthy, delicious, and kid friendly. We demonstrated to the kids that eating healthy foods is not just a diet for losing weight, but rather it's a diet for being strong, fit and healthy. The entire family was benefiting from our new lifestyle as we spent much more time moving than sitting in front of the tv. Our nightly walks at the park became a great opportunity to talk about our day.

Slowly but surely, the weight started to fall off of me. The more I saw progress, the more I wanted to keep it going. I knew that I couldn't have done it without my family's support so I kept them moving too. They kept me going as well by becoming my cheerleaders at local 5K races and by insisting on our after dinner walk even on the days I just wanted to relax. I learned that an active family is a happy family.
If you are struggling, try getting your entire family committed to making lifelong behavior changes. It highlights the positive while moving toward something good: a happier, healthier family.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Marathon Race Report

Alright, so this *should* be Tuesday's Tip day but instead, I am going to share my race report from the Marine Corps Marathon from this past weekend. Remember, I am the same person who was 50 pounds overweight and in a size 14 about 3.5 years ago....


Traveling there: Never thought it would snow at the end of October but it did. My aunt and I drove over the mountains to get there, thinking we were being smart but avoiding the turnpike. Well, it ended up being super snowy. Accident count on the way there was 8 and the 4.5 hour journey took a little over 6 hours.

The Expo: I was not impressed with the expo but I suppose it would be difficult to arrange for 30,000 runners so I'll cut them some slack. First, you had to go to one building to get your race bib and then to another building for the t-shirt. The shirt is a really thick cotton and is a mock turtleneck. Definitely not my style and I prefer a tech material so I can wear it for running. Apparently, you can buy finisher shirts but I never found the area at the end to do so:smileysad: Since we were in so much bad weather, we never stopped for lunch so we ate at the expo. There was a concession stand set up and no seating. Fail.

The Night Before: I had been having random heel issues ever since I wore those stupid shoes to usher at the Cake Boss event. It wasn't pain exactly, just a weird numb sensation. It was freaking me out though and I ended up canceling on going out to dinner with "F" and her friends so I could rest it. Instead of getting on the metro to meet them, we headed to the mall that was across the street from our hotel and went to a pub style restaurant. I got a French Dip sandwich and mashed potatoes. I crawled in bed at 8pm but didn't fall asleep right away. I got up at 3am to blow my nose (hotel air always has that effect on me...) and slept on and off again until 4am. I woke up to a sweet video from my family and a couple of friends to watch and it made me cry.

Race Time: After taking the Metro in the morning, I met up with friends at an office near the finish line. (Thanks for the hookup, "J"!!!)  I had bought breakfast at Panera the night before and ended up eating about 3/4 of a chocolate chip bagel and 1/2 of a banana.  We used the nice clean bathrooms there and headed out. It was fuh-reezing out there!  The bridge we had to cross in the one mile walk to the start was icy and that made me nervous. The start was super crowded. I had been planning to start with "F" but I lost her in the crowd and ended up lining up at the 4 hour corral with another girl I met that morning. I probably should have been a little further back but it was so insane that I just figured I would be better off stopping than risking stepping on toes to keep moving. The start was awesome. They were playing "Moves Like Jagger" which reminds me of my oldest son (we tease him that this is his favorite song) so he was my first motivation. Drew Carey was the "starter" for the race. I had a throwaway shirt on and tore it off, literally, in all the excitement of tossing clothes. I also dropped my pack of Kleenex at the same time.

The miles ticked by pretty quickly. The first 7-8 miles are pretty hilly. One of the hills was really similar to one in my neighborhood and I felt myself passing people on that one. I was grateful for my hill training at that point as there were quite a few runners taking walk breaks. I tried my best to keep my pace consistent and only sped up once and sprinted when I saw "F" just a bit ahead of me. I think we were around mile  7 or 8? I smacked her butt and asked her how she was doing. She wasn't feeling great and was looking for a bathroom. We ran near each other for about another half mile maybe and then she peeled off to the port-a-potties. I spent the next few miles thinking about her. I had my name on my shirt and was feeling like a celebrity as people called out my name and encouraged me along the way. Instead of listening to music like I do on all my long runs, I high fived, fist pumped and woo hoo'ed the crowd and other runners. I had a blast.
A few times out on the course, I was running near this girl who had a small veil on her ponytail and a shirt with the name of a soldier who had passed. I tried so hard to fight back tears because I am pretty sure she was planning on marrying him. There were lots of other moments where I nearly cried, like when I passed the pentagon and when I saw a Marine running with an artificial leg. This was such an inspirational race!

I passed the 13.1 mark at about 2:01:00 and said to myself that if I doubled that and added 10 minutes from that point, that would be awesome. At mile 14, I started to feel a blister developing on my left big toe and that slowed me down a little. I changed my goal about 100 times out there, finally deciding that it would be really cool to beat my last marathon by 20 minutes which would be a 4:17:00.

Around mile 19, I felt my legs starting to fatigue. In addition to that, I felt like I was going to throw up. I am blaming the chocolate Gu for that one. I think next time I will alternate between Gu and sport beans. I started walking through the water stations and hearing people calling my name was about the only thing keeping me going. My aunt was in the crowd at that point but I was pretty delirious and wasn't sure if it was her voice that I heard. She says I stuck my thumb up in the air when she yelled. LOL! The last few miles were really difficult. It was through an area called Crystal City and there were tons of turns. We'd go down a street and then loop back to the other side of that same street. At that point, I was just ready to be done but figured I could stick it out til the end. The sun was shining a lot at that point and I wanted to tear my running tights off but obviously, I couldn't do that discretely so I settled for unzipping them at the bottom.

At mile 24-ish, I saw a guy from Pittsburgh that is at all my races. He was walking. I stopped for a couple of seconds to check on him. He said he was tightening up and encouraged me to keep going. He said I looked great out there which was a total lie but I was willing to go with it at the moment. I also saw the girl I had started with at mile 26. She had been trying for a sub 4 but had ended up having some issues with her left leg. I was super proud of her - this was her first marathon. We encouraged each other as we headed to the last bit.

The end of this race is up a hill, turn right and up again. I *knew* the finish was right there and started to sprint a little bit. Instantly, my stomach got a giant knot in it and I was about to puke. I didn't want that to happen there at the end so I walked for a second to catch my breath and trotted in for my finish. The clock read 4:14 something and my chip time was 4:11:09. I was and still am over the moon. This is a 26 minute PR for me:smileyhappy: The marathon was a thorn in my side as I feel like I am fairly quick on all the shorter races but just wasn't able to overcome the marathon distance. Well, now I did and though yesterday, I swore I was done with marathons, I am guessing that if you give me a week or so, I'll change my tune.

I was really grateful for all my friends who were tracking me as I thought about you all every single time I hit a timing mat.

Post Race: We waited in line for the Metro for 20 minutes and had only moved a few feet up so we decided to walk back to the hotel. According to the navigation on my phone, it was 2.4 miles. We headed off and it was pretty hard to walk. I wasn't tightening up yet but that blister was killing me. About a mile into the walk, I spotted a cab and hailed it. We got back to the hotel with 15 minutes to spare before I would have to pay a half day room rate. I quickly showered and threw on some clothes with my aunt packed the car. We set the keys on the front desk counter at 1:59pm and the staff congratulated me on the marathon as well as my quickness in getting out of the room.  I was really impressed with the service at the Hilton. I will definitely recommend them anytime.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

If at first you don't succeed, try try again.

You've heard it hundreds, maybe even thousands of times but that doesn't make it any less true. Losing weight is not an easy task. If you've tried to lose weight before without success, don't view yourself as a failure. Instead, learn better weight-loss strategies, try again, and make this time different! Doing the same thing over again should give you the same result. So, if what you did before worked, do it again. If it didn't, find something else to try. It's not a game - it's your life. Make it what you want it to be...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

For your information...

My blog post from yesterday has come under some scrutiny as to whom I am referencing in my story of a broken woman and her path to healing. In light of this, I have removed it. Never fear, dear readers, as I am carefully revising it and will be sharing it with you all soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Break the Cycle

Break the cycle.

Not so very long ago, in a land not so very far away, lived a sad girl who was with the wrong guy. Everyone knew it. People whispered about it behind her back. Family members called meetings and even staged mini interventions to warn her. Within the first few weeks of dating, she was crying over things he said to her yet she stayed. Within the first few months, she ended up with a baby in her belly and heavy sadness in her heart. Friends told her that she should leave and raise the baby alone. Sadly though, being pregnant and having low self esteem as well as a strict Catholic upbringing (Catholic guilt, anyone?) pretty much left her no choice but to marry him.

Once she was married, her family was bound and determined that this marriage would last. Divorce was not an option in their world. Throughout the years, she tried to make the best of it. He would tell her she was fat (even using the cruel nickname of "Bigs McLarge Huge") so she would try to work out. Instead of being supportive, he would make fun of her as she tried to run or lift weights. Every time she would try to leave, her family would rally around, saying that she wasn't a good Catholic if she couldn't make this work. And the crazy thing about that was that he didn't believe in God and continually made fun of her for doing so. 

By about the 3 year mark, she was finally broken. She started to believe every negative word that was said about her. And instead of trying to change her situation, she settled into an unhealthy lifestyle of fast food, lethargy, and fighting. She turned to food to heal the brokenness inside of her. The more she ate, the better she felt and sadly, the larger she got. It was a terrible cycle and it needed to end.

And it did. Finally. Sparing you of a lot of long drawn out details, she eventually started working at a job when she was in a power position. This, along with a Bible study she joined, were just the right combination to empower her to do something about her situation. She started believing in herself and knew what she had to do. She asked him to leave and never even considered that they would reconcile. She made her family upset with her decision. She made her son upset with her decision. She rocked everyone's world with her choice. But, it was her life and she needed to live in a world where she wasn't afraid of the next time he would get angry...a world where she didn't have to hear every terrible thing about her repeated in arguments...a world where she was surrounded by people who treated her the way she deserved to be treated.

Hit fast forward and you'll find that our sad girl is no longer sad. She is a happy, healthy Mom of three wonderful kids, has an amazing husband, loves her family, her friends, her faith and is currently writing a blog about exercise and motivation. Who would have thunk it, right?

I have friends who are caught in many forms of unhealthy cycles, and I truly wish that they would find a way to believe in themselves. Situations are not going to get better by sitting around waiting for them to do so. And sometimes, drastic action is necessary to make change. 

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change, 
the courage to change the things I can, 
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Pay attention to what goes into your body.

You are what you eat. Seriously. The "health craze" has been going on for awhile now and has people making healthier choices, but... and yes, there is a "but" here... due to high demand for fruit and vegetables, many farmers have had to resort to using a cocktail of pesticides to control disease and insect attack. This is good news for their bank balances  but not good news for your health. Seems like it might be time to be informed of the advantages of organic food.

Did you know that if you consumed an average apple you would be eating over 30 pesticides, even after you have washed it? Sadly, the quality of food produced has gone down over the last 40-50 years. The fruit your grandparents consumed as children contained more nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Trust me, once you try some organic produce and taste an apple the way it should be, and perhaps how you recall it tasting in your youth, you will never go back to mass produced fruit again.

Here are some of the many differences between organic and conventional foods:

If you think about it, how can it be okay for you to eat chemicals and not expect some form of reaction in your body? Our bodies are wonderful machines but are also delicately balanced. Any form of foreign chemical is bound to cause irritation, at the very least. All I ask is that you do a little research about what is going into your body and make an educated decision. For those who don't have time or patience for research, just look for the USDA Organic seal. Those items are required by law to be at least 95% organic.

So, what is making up YOUR body right now?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Are you over scheduled? If you are one of the millions of people who use date books, organizers, personal assistants, calendars, smart phones, or even sticky notes to help organize their lives, are you letting them rule your life? Is there space in that schedule of yours for some ME time?

Often, people micro-manage their lives and schedule their time so much that it comes at the price of our own freedom. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to schedule a meeting with yourself. Take some time to relax and you'll find that everything else will fall into place. When you are less frazzled, your mind will be clearer and you will be more capable to tackling that to do list.

Check in and let me know if you are able to find some time for you. I just looked over my schedule for this week and Saturday morning will be MY time. I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

When you're at your weakest point emotionally, that is when some of the strongest cravings can strike. You may turn to food for comfort (consciously or unconsciously) when you're stressed, facing something difficult, or even bored and looking to fill some time. For example, I started noticing that on the days of the week when I was watching my friend's baby, I would often overeat. The stress of a crying baby was leading to emotional eating for me.

Emotional eating can sabotage your weight-loss efforts. It very often leads to eating too much, especially too much of the yucky sugary, high fat and high calorie  foods. But the good news is that if you're prone to emotional eating, you can take steps to regain control of your eating habits and get back on track with your weight-loss goals. Here are some ideas:

  1. Keep a food journal. I've said it before and I will again... If you SEE what you are eating, it will help you stay accountable. If emotional eating is an issue, track how much and when you eat, how hungry you felt, and if anything stressful was going on. Over time, you will see patterns emerge that reveal the connection between your emotions and your food consumption.
  2. Take away the temptation. If you eat M&M's when you are stressed, get them out of the house. There is no need to have things like that laying around, waiting for your weaker moments.
  3. Do a hunger reality check. Seriously, are you really hungry? If you just ate a couple of hours ago, chances are you aren't. Many times, you might just be thirsty so try a glass of water first. A true sign of hunger is a rumbling belly. 
  4. Stop depriving yourself. When you've got a weight loss goal, you might consume too few calories in an attempt to lose quicker. This will only serve to increase your cravings and in turn, increase the chance that you will binge.
  5. Calm down. There are many stress relief techniques out there to try such as Yoga, Meditation, and Running, just to name a few. See what works for you.
  6. Seek out professional help. If you have tried to do the self-help options and you are still having problems getting control of your emotional eating, it may be time to try some therapy. Understanding the motivations behind your binges can help you learn some new coping skills.

If you do overeat, don't beat yourself up. Move on and try harder next time. Focusing on the positive changes you're making in your eating habits will lead to better health.Good luck, friends.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Be mindful when eating out. 

It's easier than you think to make good choices when you are dining out. Most restaurants offer healthy choices that are also tasty, like grilled chicken or salads. It's still important to watch your portion sizes and try to avoid those tempting add-ons, like dressings, sauces or cheese because those will quickly add loads of fat (and calories) to your meal.

Here are some pointers to remember that can help you make wise choices when eating out:
  • Go for balance. Choose meals that contain a balance of lean proteins (baked, broiled, or grilled greatly trumps fried), fruits/vegetables (nope, French fries DO NOT count...) , and whole-grains (brown rice or pasta is a great choice). A turkey sandwich on whole wheat with lettuce and tomato is a much better choice than a cheeseburger on a white bun.
  •  Watch portion sizes. The portion sizes of American foods have increased over the past few decades. For example, the average size of a hamburger in the 1950's was just 1.5 ounces, compared with today's hamburgers, which weigh in at 8 ounces or more. Isn't that crazy?!?! Most of the time, I ask for a to go box when my meal arrives, take half of it and put it out of sight so I don't feel tempted to be in the Clean Plate Club or just mindlessly eat as I am chatting.
  • Drink water or low-fat milk. Regular sodas, juices, and energy drinks usually contain "empty" calories that you don't need — not to mention other stuff, like caffeine.
It is typically easy to eat well, even on the run. If you develop the skills to make healthy choices now, your body will thank you later. And the good news is you don't have to eat perfectly all the time. A splurge won't kill you - just be sure that the next meal is all good choices.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Celebrate your Successes

I find that most people can easily name a few  many things that are wrong with their body, their relationships, their career, their life... But, ask them to list something good about themselves and they clam up. As a society, we don't congratulate ourselves often enough on what we are doing RIGHT. Consider your last workout. When you were done, did you say out loud, "Wow, that was rough but I did it! I am awesome!" If you didn't, perhaps you should.

Determining your progression over a longer period of time is much easier when you take stock of your efforts as well as your accomplishments. For example, let's take my friend. She had been running for about 6 months. She hadn't lost all the weight she had been hoping to lose in that time period and was feeling down about it. So, the two of us sat down and put together a list of accomplishments. In the past few months, she had gone from a 35 minute 5K to a little under 32 minutes - that is one minute per mile - HUGE! She used to get  winded at one mile and is now running 5-6 miles with ease. She has been more easily able to handle stress.  Her confidence level has risen and as a result, she has gotten a job promotion. She, in my opinion, is a different person. And after seeing the list, she believes that too.

So, here's your homework (What?! It's back to school season, isn't it?)... Sit down and make a list of the things YOU have accomplished over the course of the past year, month, week, day, hour, whatever. Then, reflect on those and be proud of the person you are right now. If your list is short or you see room for improvement, make another list but this time of positive changes you'd like to make. And, please take the time to congratulate yourself on the great things you do - You are worth it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Find your inner peace. 

Last week, my family and I traveled to Ohio to our vacation at Catholic Familyland. During that time, I had the opportunity to spent some much needed time with the Lord. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be difficult to find a stretch of unused moments to thank Him, praise Him, glorify Him. This special week gave us plenty of time for some soul searching as well as providing many family and faith based activities for us.

On one of my morning runs, I was praying for and about many things: money issues, health, a sticky situation with some girls on a message board I frequent, my friends and family who are hurting in any way, and for myself, that I could find some inner peace.

As I ran, I came to a realization. I know that running is good for my heart. Aerobic exercise, which keeps my heart rate at an elevated level, is doing a great benefit for my cardiovascular system. I've been running for nearly 4 years now and during that time, all those hours I have spent on the roads, track, and treadmill have helped my physical health in a major way.

In Psalms, there is a verse that says "I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free."  I interpret this to mean that when my lifestyle is consistent with with God's law, I cannot be held back from achieving great success. Deep in my heart, there was a freedom that was longing to get out. And I have decided to let it out. I want to run in the path set out by God in the Bible.

Like I said before, physical exercise benefits the heart but the spiritual exercise of following God's commandments has even bigger benefits. From this point on, Jesus will be my new running partner. I believe this will give me that inner peace that I have been desiring. Through the years, I have included God in most aspects of my life but not really in my running. It's time to give in and do it.

Not everyone who reads my posts is a Christian. I am not setting out to change who you are or what you believe. My point is that there *is* a way to find inner peace and you need to figure out a way to get it. Seriously folks, this feels amazing.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Exercise: It's not all or nothing. 

I have this friend who checks in with me every so often to do one of two things:

a. boast about how well she is doing with her weight loss

b. complain because she is a mess and will never lose any weight ever for her entire life and her world is falling apart and life isn't fair. It isn't, y'know, she looks at a cheeseburger and gets fat and it's just not right that other women can lose so much more easily than her and if she hadn't been sick last week or had that mysterious pain in her back, she would have gotten more done and why did her kids have to be so needy because it really took away from her workout time and life just is not fair and... it goes on and on and on... and on and on and on....

What she doesn't seem to realize, despite my repeated urging is that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Living with a rigid diet and exercise routine is not something most people can maintain forever, and setting a daunting goal is only going to serve to frustrate you.  You have to walk before you can run and crawl before you can walk.

Each day, just stick something on your calendar that will get your blood pumping. It doesn't have to be hours upon hours spent at the gym; it can be as simple as playing basketball with your kids, taking a walk with a neighbor, or doing some weeding in your garden. Unintentional exercise counts just like intentional exercise does. It's all about movement and giving your body enough good for you food to keep you moving but not so much that you are overfull and sluggish. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Food is fuel for your body, not the enemy.

When you are ready, start adding in some intentional exercise. Head to the gym, even if you don't feel like it, and promise yourself  that you will complete 5 minutes of a workout. If after 5 minutes, you don't feel like continuing, go home. Almost without exception, once you have that first five minutes in, your body says "Hey, I can handle this, let's keep going..." 

This technique will work much better than starting off with a 6 days a week routine. And, if you can find something you love to do, you'll be even more apt to keep it up. And if when you get derailed, start over. Stop complaining about why you got off track. Just move forward.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I gotta be honest...

I need accountability. During the last 4 weeks, I have started marathon training. Along with that, I have stopped measuring my food and worrying about what I was putting in my body. I just *try* to be healthy. Sounds all good, right? Not so much.

Two different times in the past week-ish, I have gone waaaaaaaay overboard on my food consumption. I have gone from the table to the pantry, mindlessly eating granola bars, crackers and cheese, cereal, and a lot of other processed foods junk. Clearly, once I get started, I can't stop. Or maybe it's that I don't want to stop. Either way. I can feel myself slipping into the "I'm marathon training; I can eat whatever I want" mentality.

I am asking all of my readers to provide me with some accountability. I will do the same for you, if you'd like. I write a blog titled "Running for Cupcakes" where I am keeping a journal of my food while training as well treating myself to one cupcake a week, after a long run. I plan to review the bakery as well as the cupcake after each visit. If you look back on the pages, you'll notice 2 days where there is no food listed. That's because I was too embarrassed to showcase my pig-out. From this point on though, I promise to post the good, the bad and the ugly of it all. No more hiding. No more excuses.

Does anyone else food journal? Clearly, that is what works for me. Back to it....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Find your Inner Peppy Patty.

I am not feeling 100% today and my Tuesday's Tip brain is in a bit of a fog, so let's revisit one of my older blog posts today. The majority of my readers started following me after this post. Enjoy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

I am a Runner.

On my long run last weekend, a friend and I were chatting about how no matter how hard we work out or how many miles we run, we will never look like a runner. What we meant by that was to look like, well...this:

I mean, isn't that what a runner looks like?! Or is that just what society wants us to believe? I have a lot of running friends and readers so I asked for photos. In the photos, there are women ranging from Couch to 5K'ers to marathoners and even a few triathletes. Check them out:

I think this quote by John "The Penguin" Bingham sums it up best:

If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Eat more often.

Eat? More? Often? Yup, you read that right! I know it sounds silly and counterproductive as eating less typically equals weighing less. But, instead of the typical 3 square meals a day that you may remember from childhood, the new recommendation is 5-6 meals a day. Think of your body as a vehicle with a small tank. I think of my Ford Aspire from years ago but since you are probably much trendier than I am, you can be a Smartcar:

You need fuel to run your engine and since it's small, the tank needs to be replenished often. So, basically, eating smaller portions more often will keep your tank full of fuel all day long.

Eating every 2-3 hours will re-program your body into a more efficient machine.  It will speed up your metabolism and help you burn fat. When you eat often, your (very smart) body says “Hey, I’m going to be getting more in a couple hours so I’ll burn this as energy.” Going long periods of time without eating makes your body store fat, and your energy levels drop resulting in sugar cravings which in many cases result in an all out food fest.

If you feel like you a stuck right now, give eating more often a try and let me know how it works out for you. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A recipe I MUST share....

Italian Vegetable Bake
vegetable baked dish dish is low-sodium and cholesterol-free vegetable and is prepared without any added fat.
  • 1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 lb. fresh green beans, sliced
  • 1/2 lb. fresh okra, cut into 1/2" pieces or 3/4 cup (1/2 10 oz. pkg) frozen okra
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 3 medium (7" long) zucchini, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 medium eggplant, pared and, cut into 1" cubes
  • 2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1. Drain and coarsely chop tomatoes. Save liquid. Mix together tomatoes and reserved liquid, onion, green beans, okra, green pepper, lemon juice, and herbs. Cover and bake at 325 degrees F for 15 minutes.

2. Mix in zucchini and eggplant and continue baking, covered, 60-70 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally.

3. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese just before serving.

Yield: 18 servings--Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Recovering from a "bad" weekend.

Do you ever have trouble getting back on track after a weekend of gluttony not so healthy eating and laziness lack of activity? Yeah, me too. But honestly, the answer to how to restart your healthy food and exercise routine is simple.


Jump right back into your routine as though nothing happened. Don't fret about the past. You can't change it. What you CAN change is what you are doing RIGHT NOW. Sitting at computer? Get out and walk. No, seriously, do it! I know y'all enjoyed the Independence Day weekend... ;)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Get out of your slump.

It happens sometimes: Life is moving along swimmingly when all of the sudden - BAM! - something in your perfect little world goes wrong. And, when you fall out of exercise due to illness, injury or disruption from things going on in your life, it’s hard to get started again. You try to restart but your energy levels have dropped; You've got zero motivation; You feel like offering an extended middle finger to the world. Know that feeling? It's called a slump. I've been there. It's not fun.

So, how do you pull yourself out of a slump?  Sure, you could muddle through it and hope things return to normal soon. Or, you could develop some strategies for Successful Slump Recovery (I may have coined a new phrase there...Let's call it SSR).

Here are some things to try:

1. GET INSPIRED. For me, inspiration comes from others who are achieving the same goals I have placed for myself. (Ahem....I've heard this blog can be a great source of inspiration... *wink wink*) When I am getting into "Slump Land", I set aside some time to peruse blogs, books, and magazines. I type my goal into a search engine Google my goal and read success stories. Reading can help motivate and focus you on the subject of whatever you’re reading. So read about your goal every day, if you can, especially when you’re not feeling motivated.

2. EXERCISE. I know...I know.... You don't feel like exercising, but it really is a wonderful way to get out of a slump. Exercise stimulates various brain chemicals, leaving you feeling happier and more relaxed than before you got your blood pumping. By making you look and feel better, exercise will also help increase your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

 3. CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE. Every morning, you wake up at the same time, shower, eat your usual bowl of cereal, pack your typical lunch and head to work. You spend the day in meetings, having the same dull conversations about the weather and everyone's health and return home. In the evening, you make dinner, clean up from dinner, and set out your clothes for the next day. Rinse. Repeat. B-O-R-I-N-G! No wonder you are in a slump. Just changing something small about your normal routine can reinvigorate you. Try taking a walk after dinner, jamming to your iPod during your morning commute or even just taking some time to make something fabulous for your lunch. Do whatever it takes to get you to look forward to something...

4. MONITOR YOUR THOUGHTS.  Negative self-talk isn't going to help you with your SSR so ditch it NOW. Try spending some time becoming aware of all the negative thoughts floating around in your head. Then, try squashing those negative thoughts like a bug, and replace them with a corresponding positive thought. Squash, “This sucks and is too hard!!!” and replace it with, “I can do this!!!” It sounds corny, but it works. Really.

If you aren't in a slump right now, GREAT! Bookmark this blog though because one of these days, it's going to happen and when it does, I want you to be prepared for recovery. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thought for Thursday

When you decide to transform your life, it's easy to try to take on too much at once. Just remember to focus on progress, not perfection. Take on one thing at a time, master it, and move on.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Try a Playground Workout.

We have been spending a lot of time at the playground recently. The kids love to run around with their friends and it's the perfect opportunity to let them wear themselves out for an afternoon nap (a.k.a. Mommy free time!). I used to sit with the other parents, trading stories about blowout diapers, hashing over the differences in preschool curricula, catching up on the latest neighborhood gossip, and listening to everyone trying their best to outdo the other ones with their child's special talents and gifts. Then, during nap time, I would do my daily workout.

But...I have other things I *want* to do in that special afternoon time. Like read my selection for Book Club. Or catch up on DVR's. Or, maybe, just maybe, take a bath - a hot one with loads of bubbles. So, I tried to figure out a way to do my workout AND let the kids play at the same time.

Enter the Playground Workout....

1. Warm Up: Walk around the perimeter of the play area. Try some butt kicks. Do some arm circles. Just do whatever it takes to prepare your muscles for the workout.

2. Push Ups: Find a bench (preferably one that isn't occupied by the gossipers) and get into plank position, placing your hands on the seat or arm. Lift your own body weight up.  Repeat.

3. Tricep Dips: Turn around and face away from the bench. Place your hands on the seat and extend your legs out. Dip your booty down. Repeat.

4. Chin Ups: Head over to the monkey bars and use them to pull your own weight up, until your chin is above the bar. These are tough so no worries if you can't get them at first. Use the ladder on either side to assist you until you can perform them on your own.

5. Squats and Lunges: Try 3 sets of 10 to start (remember to do it on each leg for the lunges) and slowly build up from there. 

6. Cardio Time: You can get your heart pumping in a variety of ways. One of the best is to play tag, Hide and Seek or some other running game with the kids. You'll be amazed at how much of a workout you can get, just by "being a kid". You can also try running up and down the stairs to the slide, running in circles around the play area, doing jumping jacks, skipping rope, or doing sprints back and forth in the grass. Whatever you decide to do, just be sure to elevate your heart rate.

7. Stretch: Go back to the bench and use it to help you balance as you stretch out your entire body. Your muscles will thank you for this extra step.

Next time, you are at the playground, give it a shot. And if you see me there, don't laugh - just join in!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Stop procrastinating. 

To get something done, the first bump in the road is typically procrastination.. Here is a trick to end the cycle of procrastinating. If there is something you don’t want to work on, promise yourself to start the task and work on it for 15 minutes and then you can quit. You can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes right?!

Typically, once you get started you’ll find that what was really holding you back was just starting. Applying this  approach to beginning an exercise routine is a great start on the road to overall wellness. If you dread going to the gym, go for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes if you still don’t want to exercise, you can leave. If you don’t like it that day, no problem. You made the effort and you’ll stay longer on a day when you like it better. And there WILL be days when you like it better, I promise.

This tip is just like Newton's law : A body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body at rest tends to stay at rest.  Once we start something, it is easier to keep at it, but starting is the hard part. So, promise yourself 15 minutes each day to start and see what happens. There is nothing stopping you...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sharing a bit of my life in the form of a race report

This past Saturday was the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon, which was a point to point race from one vineyard to another. I was running this race with a team of ladies from a running message board that I frequent. There were ladies from Virginia, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina, Kentucky, New Jersey, Nebraska, New York and Ohio and we stayed in two cabins about 30 minutes away from the race location. Everyone is of different ages, abilities, and points in their lives and running careers, and it was just amazing to be there with such an eclectic group of runners. We called our team the "Cupcake Chasers" and because there were so many of us, we had to break into two teams.

I woke up about 10 minutes before the alarm was set to go off, at 3:50am. Yikes! That was EARLY! I had my usual pre-race breakfast of a toasted sandwich thin, peanut butter and half of a banana. In hindsight, I probably should have waited to eat that on the way to the race because my stomach was growling as we were waiting for the start. My sister, "E", came as our official "Cupcake Chaser" cheerleader and volunteered to drive to the start for drop off and then continue to the finish to cheer and take pics. My friend, "T" and I got driven to the start and when we pulled into the vineyard, we were informed that we needed to be dropped off there because there was nowhere else for my sister to turn around. Begrudgingly, we got out of the warm SUV and walked about a half mile to the waiting area. It was fuh-reezing! (And by the way, there was PLENTY of turn around room...) We found another boardie, "J", quickly after we got there, and I did a few port-a-potties runs before finding the rest of the cupcakes, who had taken the shuttle bus from the parking lot at the finish.

There was a snafu with the shuttle buses so the race ended up being delayed about 25 minutes, I believe. In fact, some runners were getting off the bus and running toward the start as we were beginning our race. I felt so bad for them! I started off the race with an even pace, knowing that my plan was to come in under 2 hours but with a stretch goal of 1:55. In fact, I told my sister that I would do a cartwheel if I came in before my stretch goal - LOL! She said she'd be ready with the camera for that one. I took a Gu about 20 minutes before the race started, since I was already hungry!

I felt amazing during the first few miles and I couldn't believe how quickly I was seeing the next mile marker. It was a gorgeous day and beautiful course. There was a bit of congestion initially but by mile 2-ish, I was able to run without bumping elbows with the other runners. I had my MP3 player on random and was loving the music. A few times, I turned it off, to just spend some quiet moments with God. I thanked him for healing me and asked for his protection and strength as I completed this half.

I took a chocolate Gu at the 7 mile mark, which was 1 hour and 1 minute into the race. I remembered how my aunt had told me that one of the tasks set by her running partner when she was trying to BQ was to run 7 miles in less than an hour. I was darn close to that and felt pretty darn good about it. The hills were better than I expected. Being a Pittsburgh girl, they were nothing compared to what I run on in my own neighborhood. I passed a lot of other runners on the hills and that gave me a tremendous boost of confidence.

Some of the miles were a bit sunny and I was thankful I had the foresight to slap on some sunscreen in the morning. There was some shade but it was patchy. The race had plenty of water stops and I took advantage of all but one of them to get some water and pour a little on my head or back, as well as hydrate. I walked most of the water stops and took a couple walk breaks, trying to do a modified Jeff Galloway technique. I contemplated taking another Gu at mile 10 but didn't ended up doing so. Mile 10 was a pivotal moment for me. I looked down at my GPS and realized that if I kept my pace going, I would finish at my stretch goal of 1:55. I wondered if I could do it. Just then, Ricky Martin's "Cup of Life" came on. "Do you really want it? Do you really want it?" came blasting through the headphones and echoed in my brain. Yes, I thought to myself, I do want this! So, I ran.

There was one last hill in the 12th mile that was a bit of a mood killer, but as I came to the crest of it, I could see the vineyard and knew I was going to make it. I turned left and ran down the crowd lined trail leading to the finish. I was elated as I crossed the line with a time of 1:54:15. That's a PR for me by more than 4 minutes!

The festival afterward was nice. We got awesome medals that doubled as wine stoppers and a wine glass.
 I only did one tasting booth though because frankly, the last thing I wanted to be doing was drinking wine after running the race. I couldn't stop grinning until well after the race was over and even now, as I sit here, I am smiling. It was a fantastic weekend and I am so glad I got to be a part of such a wonderful team. The Cupcake Chasers all did great  and I look forward to the next race we do together.

And as a side note, I did not do a cartwheel because there was another woman coming in right behind me and the timing mat area just looked a little too gross. I did do an obnoxious leap at the end though so hopefully, someone captured a picture of that.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Is it really Tuesday already?!?!? 'Cause it really feels like a Monday! It's been a rough day here. Struggles of today included, but are not limited to the following: No workout, Dishes piled in sink when I walked into the kitchen this morning, Water dumped into purse which contained my cell phone and brand new camera, Fussy child, Broken dryer, Messy house... I could go on but really, would you want me to do so?

Due to the madness, Tuesday's Tip is a short one:


That is all. Thank you for your time.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What would you do....

for results like this.....


Huge congratulations to Olivia!!!!! Not surprisingly, I am a big fan of The Biggest Loser. Not only is it inspiring to watch people change their lives but it is also a great way to learn some exercise routines and tips for healthy eating.

What happens on the Biggest Loser ranch is truly amazing. Extreme? Definitely. BUT, it IS attainable for everyone out there. Reality check. It WILL take longer than 3 months. You won't get a quarter of a million dollars at the end. And it won't be easy.

When (not if) you do it, you will be so glad you did. So, what you YOU do for a transformation????

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Eat HEALTHY on a budget.

Three years ago, I took on the task of our family's budget, and I was shocked by how much we were spending on groceries. Adding up the totals for the month, Giant Eagle was getting about a thousand dollars of our hard earned money. Not cool. At all. So, I decided to use coupons when I could and go to Aldi for the majority of our food. Right away, I got that total down to about $700 a month. Yay me.

I was really proud of myself for learning how to save some of our money. We lived that way for awhile and then I started learning more about reading labels and the importance of that. Again, I was shocked but this time it was over how many fat and sugar grams we were consuming. I needed to find a way to strike a balance between saving money and eating healthy.

Enter Meal Planning which I discussed in more detail in a prior blog post. I started to buy my groceries according to what my family would eat each week. And I started to pay more attention to prices and how they fluctuate. I buy when a price is low and can be combined with a coupon. I plan out what we will eat based on the sales and utilize the Farmer's Markets around the area whenever possible. And we are finally down to about $500 a month in groceries. For a family of 5. Not bad, eh?

For this blog post, I decided I would share one of my favorite budget friendly meals that will feed a family of my size, keeping in mind that my younger two don't eat much so this is probably the equivalent of 4 people.

1 pound of Nature's Basket Chicken tenderloins, cut into 1 inch pieces and cooked with Pam Olive Oil spray in a pan. In a separate pan, I sauteed broccoli, baby carrots, 1 oz green pepper, .5 oz red pepper, 1 oz yellow pepper, and 1/2 cup of Glen Muir Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes in 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. I sprinkled in some dried basil and rosemary for a little extra flavor. I'm not usually a fan of boxed potatoes but I got such a great deal on these Betty Crocker garlic mashed potatoes that I couldn't resist. I served this with 1 individual size of Giant Eagle's health diced pears in juice.


The chicken (which is organic and 99% fat free) was on sale for $4.99/ lb. $5.00
The peppers were bought at Aldi. They have a pack of red, green, and yellow peppers for 99 cents and I didn't even use a full one of each. $0.50
The baby carrots were on sale for $2.00 a bag and I used 1/8 of the bag. $0.25
The Glen Muir tomatoes were on sale for $2.00 a can and I had a coupon which then doubled making it $1.00 a can. I used 1/4 of the can. $0.25
For the pears, I bought the individual servings because it's a lot easier to take them to the park or on an outing (would be even less expensive if you bought a large can). $2.00
 The potatoes were on sale for $1.00 a box (which contains 2 packets) and I had a coupon for $1.00 off when you buy 2 boxes, so each packet ended up being so cheap. $0.25

 For $8.25, I fed my entire family a wonderful dinner! 
Calorie count per plate was 429 calories.

Feeding a family on a budget is much easier than I originally thought it would be and my only wish now is that I had started this sooner...


Don't forget to vote for me here. You can vote once every 24 hours. Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do you run?

Most of you know that running is what started me on this path to overall wellness. To go from being a couch potato to running a 5K is a daunting task but I found the Couch to 5K program to be extremely effective. I started off much like most of you, hating running and saying I would never be able to complete a 5K race. After mastering muddling through the Couch to 5K plan, I conquered the 5K and then over the next year, the 10K, 1/2 Marathon, and Marathon. I never thought that *I* could run a mile, and I ran over 26 miles consecutively. Just wanted to throw this plan out there. If you decide to do, check in with me anytime and I'd be happy to answer any questions for you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday's Tip of the Day

Train your body evenly.

Looking around at the gym, I have noticed that most women spend more time at the machines that target the inner thighs, hips or butt. It seems that other body parts are not as important to them. Unfortunately, this approach is not a good idea. Trying to "spot lose", by just training the body parts that bother you, can cause muscle imbalances. This can lead to injury, poor posture, and a worse physique. Just as you train equally on your left and right sides, train equally in the front and the back to see the best results and to keep your body trim, healthy, and strong.

Good luck and as always, let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Practice good portion control.

In order to learn portion control, you need to understand how much a serving size is and how many calories a serving contains. I, for one, use a kitchen scale but if I am out somewhere, I use visual references to help me figure out how much I am consuming. For example, one ounce of cheese is approximately the size of 4 dice. Here is a great guide to help you decipher it too.

Something that has really helped me was to think about my plate in sections. You can buy specific plates for this purpose but honestly, my family already thinks my "Food Nazi" behavior is a bit nutty so I am not sure this would go over really well here. Instead, I use this as a guideline and start by filling up half of my plate with veggies. Then, I add one serving of a protein and one serving of a starch food, such as potatoes or bread. Often, I will also add one serving of fruit to the side of the plate. 

 Here is an example taken from my food journal. April 27th Dinner:

This meal is a 3 ounce pork chop with 1 tsp low fat ranch dressing and 1/8 cup of cheese on top, 1.5 servings of steamed veggies, and one serving of applesauce. After this hearty meal, I was full for hours. (442 calories for the record...)

Portion size and serving size ARE NOT the same thing, especially in a restaurant. As a practice, I ask for half of my restaurant meal to be wrapped up before it even hits the table. When at home, take a look at the label on each item to see what a "serving" is considered to be. More than likely, it's less than what you would want to eat. A year or so ago, I was trying to control my need for sweet by having a handful of chocolate chips after a meal. Then, one day, I took a look at the serving size. It was ONE TABLESPOON! I was easily throwing 2-3 servings into my body at one time. That's 140-210 calories down in a matter of 20 seconds.

Here are my top 5 tips for helping you to learn portion control:

1. Store leftovers in portioned out containers. When you reach into the fridge to get something from last night's dinner to reheat, you will be less inclined to eat more than a portion of it if it's already been done ahead of time.

2. Fill your plate before you sit and keep your seconds out of sight. I can't tell you how many times I used to reach for another portion of food, just because it was sitting in front of me.

3. Learn to eyeball portion sizes. Use that website listed above or get a scale and measure things out. After awhile you won't need the scale anymore.

4. Start with a salad. If you fill up with a salad before you eat, the fiber in it will give you the feeling of being full.

5. And best of all, treat yourself every once in awhile.  Deprivation can easily lead to a binge so keep the cravings at bay by indulging in a small treat.

I hope this blog will help you learn how to control your portions which is one of the many steps you will need to take in order to become a healthier eater. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Create a mantra.

There's a lot to be said about the power of suggestion. We all have those days where we are having trouble focusing and we just can't pull it together. What do you do if that focus is being lost when it comes to your workout? That's where a mantra comes in to save the day!

The word "mantra" is derived from two Sanskrit words. The first is "manas" or "mind," which provides the "man" syllable. The second syllable is drawn from the Sanskrit word "trai" meaning to "protect" or to "free from." Therefore, the word mantra in its most literal sense means "to free from the mind." Mantra is, at its core, a tool used by the mind. But, no worries, I'm not preaching some religious nonsense. A mantra doesn't have to be used only in a Buddhist temple - it can be used anytime you are feeling less than wonderful and can be used anywhere, a grocery store, the bank, in your home, at the gym...

For the purpose of this blog, I am going to focus on a workout mantra. This is something you say, in your head, when things are getting tough. The trick to creating a mantra is to have a conversation with yourself about what motivates you. The real ones. Not the motivators that you tell people. Most women say they work out for "health" when in fact, most work out to fit into a pair of skinny jeans. So think about a few things that motivate you into fitness and build your mantra from there.

For instance, when I was a working Mom, I was trying really hard to fit into the mold of the young sales professional at the company where I was employed. Knowing that sales incentive trips would be coming up, my mantra was "Size 4. Size 4. Size 4. Size 4. Bikini and a tan" I would repeat that over and over in my head and it would keep me going. I know that sounds shallow and I hesitated writing it here, but I need you to know that YOUR motivators can be whatever you want them to be. Don't worry about having them be socially acceptable.

Think about your motivators and what will help you get through or even get to your workout and give a mantra a try. The Little Engine That Could did it and so can you!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Instill healthy food habits in your kids.

Childhood obesity in the United States has TRIPLED in the last 20 years. If I think back on grade school, there was one heavy set girl in my entire class. If you look at a typical grade school class now, you'll see a lot more than just one obese child. It makes me so sad to see children who are already heavy because they are starting down a path that will more than likely be lined with disease, pain, and of course, bullying. You ask how I remember the one bigger girl in my class? Well, it's because I remember her nickname. I remember how mean the kids were to her. I remember thinking that she had a hard life. I was right.

Here are some tips for instilling healthy food habits in your kids because the earlier you start, the easier it will be to establish or change the way your child approaches food.

1. Set a good example for your kids. If they see you chugging soda and eating chips in the afternoon, that is what they are going to want. I am always so proud when my kids ask for an afternoon snack of carrots or fruit. It shows that I am *finally* changing their food thoughts. (For the record, I started this about a year ago and we are just now to the point where they ask for healthy stuff. It was a struggle for a long time.)

2. Keep the fridge and cupboards stocked with healthy snacks.

3. Allow your kids to follow their natural appetite and don't force them to be a member of the Clean Plate Club when they are not hungry.

4. Don't use unhealthy food as a reward. Telling your kids that if they are good, they will get ice cream might get you the desired behavior in the short term but it will set your kids up to think they get sugary snacks when they do something good. Later in life, their reward to themselves for getting a promotion will be a huge slice of pie or something similar.

5. Eat together, not only at the same table but eating the same fare. This is so much easier said than done. My family sits together for dinner pretty much every night and we rehash our day and spend some much needed time together. I will say that I do struggle with having the kids eat the same thing as us, but I am working on it and I hope you will too.

6. Take the salt off the table and don't add it to the food. Your kids will be accustom to that taste and it's a hard one to break. Even harder is sugar so don't allow them to start putting that on their breakfast cereal in the morning.

7. Allow your kids to join you in preparing the meal. This will help them to learn how to cook and to appreciate the work that goes into making the food they are about to eat.

As I said before, I am still a work in progress on this tip but I hope many of you will join me in the fight to save our kids from the disease of obesity.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy 2 Year Anniversary to ME!

It's been 2 years since I reached my goal weight. What a fabulous feeling! To celebrate, I asked my hubby to take a pic of me in my favorite muscle pose to display beside my other ones. Pardon the lack of makeup but I think, perhaps, that is what makes it real. I am an actual person who has been there, figured out what needed to happen, did it and will NEVER go back...

That darn bunny is making us fat!

It's almost Easter. What began as a solemn celebration of the resurrection of Christ has turned into a chocolate gorge-fest. Many of us started off the New Year with a promise: to be healthier, to be thinner, to eat sensibly...Whatever it may be, you've been working hard at attaining your goal.  Truth be told though, you would not be human if the thought did not cross your mind that you could cheat just this once, succumb to temptation, and fill your face with all those Easter treats.


You've worked soooo hard to get to this point. Why ruin it now? Here are some strategies for getting through this holiday without derailing your weight loss efforts:

Rethink your Easter baskets.

There is no reason why your child's basket needs to be filled to the brim with sugar-filled snacks. I am sure you don't want your children to eat that kind of food junk anyway, right? For instance, the average chocolate bunny has 960 calories! We don't "do" the Easter bunny here since we focus more on the reason for the season but I do fill baskets for the kids. Their baskets will have ONE chocolate item and filling the rest of the space will be sidewalk chalk, coloring books, bubbles, sunglasses, and other Spring/Summer items.

Don't lose count.

As you probably know, I love to journal my food. While this isn't something everyone likes to do, this would be one weekend where it would be helpful.  Even if you just stick a piece of paper on your fridge and jot down every time you dip your hand into the M&M's or indulge in a peep or Cadbury Egg, seeing it in written form will keep you accountable to yourself.

Go dark.

While dark chocolate has a similar number of calories to milk chocolate, it's higher in antioxidants. Since it is so rich. a little bit goes a long way. White chocolate has the most calories so avoid that if you can  care.

Less is more. 

Look for high quality chocolate items if you must have your fix. Buying a Sarris Bowtie Bunny Pop instead of a large bag of chocolate eggs from the dollar store will lessen the amount of temptation around the house and taste 10 times better. You can also try dipping strawberries into melted chocolate to combine the need for sweet with something healthy.

Don't forget to move.

Plan your egg hunt for outside (*if the weather cooperates* Side note: I am sooooo over this rain!) and run through the yard as you hide the eggs.  Instead of standing around while the kids find the eggs, get out there and move, darnit! Or hop like a bunny - the kids will LOVE that one. After your meal, when most people are laying around on the couch, watching tv or movies, suggest a walk around your neighborhood. It's a great opportunity to catch up with family while burning some calories. Check out this calculator that turns popular Easter treats into how much walking is needed to burn it off.

Eat healthy alternatives.

When everyone else is snacking on goodies, make sure to have something prepared for yourself. One of my favorite things is to create a plate of fruit, cut up into bite sized pieces. I feel like I am eating so much more than I am and it satisfies my sweet tooth as well.

Now, you are 100% prepared to celebrate this glorious Easter season with your family. Good luck and be sure to check in and let me know how you did. HAPPY EASTER!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday's Tip...or is it?

It's been a busy day. This is the first chance I've had to sit down and write a blog and I have people coming to my house in about 15 minutes. Tuesday has always been my "tip" day but since I have such a short amount of time before my book club, I am going to share a couple of random facts with you instead.

*Easter is third in candy consumption in the United States with 940 million dollars spent on it in 1998. That's a lot of chocolate bunnies. (Source: About.com)

*In 2000, Americans bought $1.9 billion of Easter candy and consumed 7.1 billion pounds to edge ahead of Christmas sales that year. (Source: Topeka Capital Journal, April, 2004). 

Take some time and think about those stats and I'll be working on a blog about how WE can get through the Easter holiday without derailing our weight loss efforts.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Don't be afraid to snack.

3pm hits and I don't know what comes over me. It might be hunger. It might be boredom. It might still be a leftover habit from the "after school snack" that my Mom always served when we walked in the door. I feel completely ravenous and start craving all sorts of unhealthy foods. In the past, I had been known to finish an entire sleeve of cookies during this time or pour myself cereal bowl after cereal bowl, not even thinking about how much food I was consuming.

Instead of continuing that behavior, I decided to curb my cravings by planning a HEALTHY snack for 2pm. Even though I am not truly hungry at that point, it stops the 3pm madness from happening. To keep energy levels going and avoid weight gain, I steer clear of foods with lots of simple carbohydrates like candy bars or soda. Instead, I seek out foods that contain complex carbohydrates like whole-grain breads and cereals and combine them with protein-rich snacks such as peanut butter, cheese, or low fat yogurt.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Ants on a log: Smear a small amount of peanut butter on celery and top with raisins
  • Maria's delicious trail mix: Mix 1/2 a serving (29 grams) of Grape Nuts cereal, 10g of raisins, 10g of peanuts
  • Yummy fruit tray: Slice 1/2 an apple and 1/2 a banana. Put 2 tbsp of peanut butter on the side for dipping.
  • Whole grain pita with hummus: Warm a pita in the oven on low, then cut it into small triangles. Dip it in a tasty, low-fat hummus. Hummus is available in yummy flavors like garlic and spicy red pepper. Hummus also makes a tasty dip for cut-up veggies.
  • Mexi-snack: 1/4 cup Trader Joe's Chili con Queso, 18 baked tortilla chips
  • Turkey rollups: 1 serving of turkey wrapped around sesame breadsticks
  • Quick kebabs: Take a skewer and put 1/2 oz of cubed turkey, 1/2 oz of cubed cheddar cheese, and a few grapes on it.

No matter what I have for a snack, I always pair it with a glass of water. And as with everything, moderation is the key. If you eat regular meals and healthy snacks, you will be less likely to overeat and gain weight than if you skip meals or go for long periods without eating and then scarf down a large order of fries.

I love sharing my life with all of you and I'd love to get some feedback. Please comment and share some of your favorite snacks. I am always looking for ideas and I am sure my readers are, as well. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Meet the Reader: Nikky M.

Nikky M. is one of the participants in the Countdown to Shorts challenge We have children born around the same time and met on a message board. Even then, I was running challenges, to motivate myself as well as others.

Name: Nikky M
Age: 35
Where do you live: Connecticut
Beginning Weight: 165
Ending Weight: 157
How long between beginning and ending weights: 1 year
How many inches did you lose?: approx 5
What is your current diet: small portions, lean protein, veggies and *try* to have no sugar (very hard for a hardcore sugar addict)
What is your guilty pleasure: Candy!!
What is your typical workout: I workout typically 5 days a week and mix it up with weight training and cardio (spin, cardio step, running)
What/who is your #1 Motivator: I want to set a good example for my kids. My mom was a major yo yo dieter. She tried every single diet or piece of exercise equipment 'as seen on TV'. I'd rather instill a healthy exercise routine and healthy diet for my kids right from the get go.
Any other info you would like to be included: I have to say I've been the most frustrated with the fact that the scale barely moves for me. I'm so grateful that I took pictures so that I can see my progress on screen rather than on the scale. I wish I would have gotten a % of body fat because I'm sure that would have changed significantly. I actually have biceps now....something I've never had in my life ;)
Oh and thank you to Maria for starting these challenges in Jan 2010. That helped me get on my way :)

Congratulations Nikky and keep up the good work! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuesday's Tip of the Day

Don't use being a parent as an excuse.

This is for all my readers that are blessed with a child or two or ten. However many munchkins you have, there is one important thing to remember: Exercising should be a high priority! Oh sure, of course it is but how can I manage to work out AND care for my kids?!?! Alright, Negative Nelly, let me finish! Exercising *should be* a high priority  but it can get shoved to the side very easily, especially if you are a parent. With school, all the extracurricular activities, and other obligations, it can feel very much like a juggling act. What's on your calendar? Your son's hockey game? Your daughter's ballet class? A parent/teacher conference at school? Have you thought about putting "Exercise" on the calendar too...? You haven't?! Why not?!

Exercising not only benefits you but also your kids. First of all, you are setting a good example. If your kids never see physical activity or only hear you complain about how sore you are from a workout, their image of exercising will quickly become negative. Let them know WHY you are exercising: to be strong, to be healthy, to have more energy, etc. Secondly, exercise can be a great outlet for stress. Exercise can emotionally remove you temporarily from a stressful environment or situation. Being fit and healthy also increases your ability to deal with stress as it arises. And finally, for the fun third reason, wouldn't it be nice to be a "hot mom"? Maybe get a few compliments whistles during your day? Have that air of confidence that seems to go hand and hand with physical beauty?

Now we have figured out that exercise IS something we want to do, right? So, let's figure out the "how"...

Got an infant or smaller child?

*Utilize nap time to pop in a workout DVD, On Demand workouts on tv, or do your own home workout. I posted about some great "at home" workouts awhile back. You can read more here.
*Get out the stroller and take a brisk walk through the neighborhood. Check out this cool workout for stroller pushers.

*Use your child's weight to strengthen your muscles. Pick them up and do squats for a fun lower body workout. Arm curls with an infant = great upper body workout.

Got a child in grade school?

*Go to the playground but instead of sitting on the bench, chatting with other parents, get out and enjoy the day. Play tag, hide and seek, capture the flag. Try doing a chin up or two on the monkey bars or some tricep dips on the "lazy Mom's bench".
*Plan a weekend day to bike or roller blade with your kids and spouse. Getting the whole family involved in physical activity is a ton of fun and makes for an early bedtime, in my experience.

*Challenge your child to a race. And don't be too sad when you get beaten. Someday, you'll be able to run as fast as them, I promise... ;)

Got a teenager?

*Register for a 5K race with your child. For local races here in Pittsburgh, check out this site.

*Work together in the yard. Mowing, raking leaves, trimming hedges, and planting flowers are all excellent calorie burners. And you know what they say, a family that works together...ummmm...gets a lot done.
*Play basketball or tennis together.

Now that you have a list of things to do with your child and will start scheduling time to exercise, I hope to never hear any excuses about how being a parents is preventing any of you from working out. Good luck, readers!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's just a day in the life....

...of an energetic housewife.

I have gotten quite a few emails asking me how I fit everything in during the day and still manage to eat healthy and exercise. I decided to track just one day for all of you so you can get a glimpse into my life.

4:40am - Alarm goes off and I decide to do an afternoon workout instead of my usual 5am jaunt to the gym since I had just done a Zumba class the night before and then stayed up later than usual, hanging with my hubby, watching "Modern Family".
6:45am - Wake up on own. Hit the bathroom and discover that my scale is broken. It is weighing in kilograms and when I do the math, it is adding up to 200+ pounds. Clearly, not working. Plod out to kitchen and unload the clean dishes and put hubby's morning dishes into the dishwasher. Sit down at computer to write "Tuesday's Tip". Mess around on Facebook. Check email. Go back into bedroom and make the bed.
7:30am - Greeted by 2 little wide awake munchkins who are ready for their breakfast. Fix a bowl of cereal and some grapes for the girl and a waffle and banana for the boy. Both have milk which girl promptly spills. Clean up mess and put lid on her cup. Notice a few things we need from the store and write them on my list.
7:45am - Rush youngest son to the bathroom as he realized he had to go "wheely wheely bad" yet couldn't seem to walk there on his own.
8:00am - Make my own breakfast. Drink 16 ounces of water as I eat my delicious meal of scrambled egg whites with green and red peppers on a bagel thin with melted cheese, 1/2 banana, and 1/2 orange.

Morning : As we are getting into the van for preschool, I realize my van battery is dead and call AAA who promises to come within the hour. (My daughter loves to turn on the overhead lights.) Spend my time alternating between getting things done and playing with the kids. We have a couple of extra kids with us today and the little sweethearts decide that a dress up party is in order.
Despite continued interruptions, I manage to cut out all the coupons from this past Sunday's paper and organize them. I also wiped down the surfaces in the kitchen and bathrooms.Spend about 25 minutes dancing to Veggie Tales music.
10:30am - Fix a snack for the kids. Something simple today - just some graham crackers and milk. Clean up mess from the snack and continue sipping my next water bottle. My goal is to have 32 ounces in before I eat lunch. Throw in a load of laundry.
12:15pm - Prepare lunch for kids and myself at the same time. I am having lean deli turkey, peppers, and 1/2 a portion of mozzarella cheese wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. My side dishes are leftover green beans from last night and 1/2 cup of applesauce. Consume another 16 ounces of water.

1:00pm - Move laundry to dryer. As I am doing that, I realize that the kids are being so good that I can escape for a little while and watch "Dancing with the Stars" from the night before (Thank goodness for DVR!). While I am watching, I do my workout. This includes all of my knee and hip exercises that I learned in Physical Therapy as well as a core workout. I set the timer on my phone and do planks, side props, crunches, bicycles, and a few other "fun" things. After I am finished, log it all on DailyPlate.
2:00pm - Read some books to the kids. Decide that Dr. Suess wrote some insanely long books as I struggle to finish Go Dog Go without skipping any pages. Get them all into the van and set off to get my oldest son from school.
2:45pm - Arrive back home and nearly kill myself tripping over my yoga mat. Freak out slightly that I will either die or won't be able to walk or run for the rest of my life. Am unsure which is worse. Put the kids down for naps. Listen to roughly 1 million excuses from my son, finally convincing him that Iron Man likes to sleep on a penguin pillow pet too. Check email and Facebook. Decide that I am probably not going to die after all. Oldest son insists he doesn't have homework and goes to a friend's house, promising to be back by 4pm.
3:00pm - My tummy starts rumbling and I fix a mid afternoon snack. I am eating 1/2 portion of grape nuts with 1/4 portion of raisins and the other half of my banana from breakfast. Drink 8 more ounces of water.

4:00pm -Fold laundry. Kids are waking up from naps and are ready for their snack. Fix that and then spend some time helping them straighten up the playroom. Glance out the window about 100 times, hoping that hubby will be appearing at any moment. Wonder how my friends who have husbands that travel manage. Start to prepare an earlier than usual dinner. Feel ready for a nap. 
4:25pm - Oldest son arrives home, 25 minutes late. Insists I told him 4:30pm. Decide to pick my battles and let this one go.
4:47pm - Hubby arrives.
5:00pm - Dinner is ready. I have 1 portion of whole wheat rotini with 1/2 cup of organic garden vegetable sauce and sprinkled with low fat parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup of steamed veggies, and 1/2 cup of fruit cocktail. Yearn for warmer weather when we can get more fresh produce and not have to rely on cans for a mixed assortment of fruit. Drink another 8 ounces of water.
Evening: Extra kids are picked up and our crazy night begins. Time flies by too quickly to track. We head to Picture People to get portraits done. I decide to just get the kids in the pictures because I have dry skin under my nose from my cold weather runs over the weekend. Such is the life of a runner, right? We convince the youngest to smile for the pictures by promising him some ice cream. Remember that we said we would never use food as a reward. Go to Dairy Queen anyway because a promise is a promise. Crave a Blizzard but decide to get something a teeny bit better for me. Settle on a low fat Dilly bar.
Pick out the best poses at the studio while hubby takes the kids to the video game store. Wait for them to be printed. It's so quiet that I almost don't know what to do with myself. Silence is broken when all 3 kids come barreling in, climbing over top of each other to tell me which games they want. We head to Kohl's to get hubby some desperately needed clothes. Apparently, the poor guy has been wearing pants with holes in them because he didn't want to spend money on himself. Put kids into convenient strollers provided by Kohl's as we navigate the men's section. Kids start to fuss. Luckily, my pockets are filled with lollipops. Regret giving another treat and swear I will never do it again. Guzzle 16 more ounces of water as we walk through the store.
9:00pm - Get home and collapse into my computer chair. Hubby puts kids to bed. Check email and see that I received before and after pics from one of my readers. Write another blog. Look at Facebook wall and realize there is too much to be able to go through it all. Put rest of day into DailyPlate. Realize I still have some leftover calories and though I am not particularly hungry, decide to eat something. Wolf down low calorie wheat toast with 1/2 portion of organic peanut butter before I realize that I was supposed to be taking pictures of my food. Consider making another but decide against it. Lay out clothes for gym in the morning. Remember that I never got a shower and vow to get one tomorrow. Turn on tv but never even look at the screen before I am off to la-la land.