Monday, December 2, 2013

DECEMBER!





Are you serious?! How is it ALREADY December?!?!?!? <heart racing wildly> Time. Is. Going. Too. Quickly.

Okay, so I guess I need to face the fact that Christmas is quickly approaching, 2013 is almost over, and it's time to take a look at how we did this year.

These were my resolutions for the year:

1. To be more modest around the kids (i.e. covering up after a shower and not leaving the bathroom door open)
2. To continue healthy living by working out at least 5 days a week and eating as much organic and whole foods as possible.
3. To set aside more time for Nick
4. To use my skin care stuff DAILY so I don't end up all wrinkly before my time
5. To read the Bible in one year, using a program I found online.


And here's how I did:

1. To be more modest around the kids (i.e. covering up after a shower and not leaving the bathroom door open)

SUCCESS! I stopped letting my kids come into the bathroom and bedroom while I am showering, changing my clothes, etc.

2. To continue healthy living by working out at least 5 days a week and eating as much organic and whole foods as possible.

I'd say I did pretty well on this one. I still love my sugar though and even though I don't eat it as much as I used to, I haven't cut it out completely. And as for working out, I've been doing 5 days a week consistently. Yay me.

3. To set aside more time for Nick 

This year, we definitely had more date nights (and even a few weekends away) than in previous years. I decided to stop being afraid to ask my parents to watch our kids and as it turns out, they LOVE it. If I could do the same thing with my in laws, that would be great but I'm not pushing my luck. *wink*

4. To use my skin care stuff DAILY so I don't end up all wrinkly before my time

Whoops! I totally stopped doing this at some point during the year and actually forgot it was on my list of resolutions. Looks like I'll have to add that one to this year's list....

5. To read the Bible in one year, using a program I found online. 

Ummmmmm, nope. Didn't happen. I made it about a month in and got to some REALLY boring and very dry stuff (think lists of names who begat other names) and pretty much just quit. I won't be adding this back in but I will have a different religious goal this year.

So, 3/5. That's not bad, right?   


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turkey Time!

I seriously CANNOT wait to get to my hometown for Thanksgiving. And I feel really lucky that I have such a big family with which to share my holiday. But...if you aren't heading "home" for this particular holiday, how will you spend it?

Maybe you will head to one of these fancy-schmancy hotels and have a elaborate meal?

Maybe you will be working?



Or perhaps you are hosting your own get-together and have been shopping and prepping all week?



No matter how you choose to spend you holiday, please remember...




HAPPY THANKSGIVING (in 2 days...)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My stupidly good (but quite painful) choice

On September 1st, I stopped eating gluten. Within about 10 days, every weirdo symptom I had disappeared and I felt fantastic. My plan was to do it for 90 days but almost immediately, I realized that this was probably going to be a permanent change.

But, I wasn't 100% sure.

And I knew that on November 30th, we were going to a wedding of one of my really good friends and I didn't want to inconvenience her with a "gluten free" request unless absolutely necessary.

So, on Saturday, November 16th, after 77 days of being gluten free and after drinking a glass of wine, I decided a test would be the best way to handle this. And, since friends had invited us to dinner at a delicious but decidedly gluten filled restaurant, I figured there was no time like the present.

The wait for a table was a little long so the waitress brought us some breaded zucchini. I tentatively took a bite. It was, of course, delicious! Then, after we were seated and I had ordered (a grilled chicken salad with fries), I decided to have a slice of the Italian bread from the table. It actually didn't taste that good but I think I am just not used to white bread anymore. The salad was yummy and I even topped it off with a shared slice of pie.



I felt fine. 

Oh, how silly, I thought, I've been eating gluten free all this time and I didn't need to be.

Then, it hit.

It started slowly - a slight ache in my tummy. But, by the time we got home, I was bent over in pain and had no choice but to curl up in the fetal position and cry and moan and cry some more.

For the next 2 days, my stomach was a hot mess. And that concludes my gluten test! I am now diagnosing myself with a gluten intolerance. If you ask my Dad, he will insist it's Celiac Disease and given my family history, that would make sense, but I feel a lot better "knowing" that my insides haven't been attacking themselves.

Although I don't recommend this method of self-diagnosis, I am glad to know for sure now that gluten + my body = bad news.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The First Snow

"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?" ~J. B. Priestley

My 5 and 7 year old kids, heading off to school this morning.



What is it about the first snow of the year that gets everyone all riled up? Browsing through Facebook this morning, posts range from "Yippee! Snow!" to "...there are no words for how much I despise it." Me? I am somewhere in the middle. 

Snow is cold. 

Snow is beautiful.

Snow makes the roads slick.

Snow makes my kids smile.  

I could go on all day with my snow list, but instead what I want to write about is the fact that Spring will be here in 127 days. Yes, that's right. It's *already* time to start counting down to Spring. 

All Winter long, here in Pennsylvania, we wear our heavy coats, bulky sweaters, jeans, and snow boots. No one but our significant others see our bodies. It's the perfect time to let your guard down and eat with reckless abandon, right?

'
In fact, this is the perfect time to push harder than even before and plan for a BIG REVEAL in the Spring when you strip off all those layers of clothes and unveil a toned body.

Start RIGHT NOW and know that in 127 days, you will be happier, healthier and hotter *wink*

Get to it!




 
 


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Y'know what I do when I don't wanna work out....

I WORKOUT!





LOL! Have I disturbed you enough with this animated GIF?!?!?!? I know that image is burned into my brain now and I am not sure how to get it out. Figured I'd pass the love on to you...

So, this morning, I woke up and DID NOT want to workout. I had every excuse in the book handy to tell myself.

I am still tired from the 2am stint the other night at the hospital with a friend...

The kids need me to help them get ready for school...

I already look good; I don't really *need* another workout...

There might not be enough time before the toddler I am watching today arrives...

But then, I remembered...





So, I quickly threw on my workout clothes, woke the kids and told them to get dressed, put their lunches together and into their backpacks, and set a few things out for them. By the time I was done with that, I looked on my calendar to see how long I was going to be working out. It was a 50 minute DVD workout and the kids would be leaving for school in about 35 minutes. Luckily, my neighbor was planning to drive them to the bus stop, so I knew I would be in the clear.

The kids managed to put on their uniforms without me barking orders at them. My 7 year old got breakfast made for herself and her 5 year old brother. They got along well, and it seemed like they enjoyed the extra responsibility. 

Meanwhile, I sweated my butt off in the living room. When they were dressed, fed, and ready to leave for school, they sat in the room with me for a bit and then left for school.

Wow! I still can't believe how smoothly that went! 

I was getting close to the end of my DVD when I got a text that the toddler was on his way. With 5 minutes to spare, I finished and managed to have breakfast made for myself by the time he arrived. 

And I, of course, do not regret that workout. At all. 

 

YAY ME!


 


Monday, November 4, 2013

Cheater! Cheater!

I cheated on Friday night.



On Saturday, I woke up, expecting to experience a tremendous amount of guilt.

But, I didn't.

I felt great.

I seriously didn't have an ounce of remorse.

Sure, I had cheated, but it hadn't been a big deal.

There seemed to be no repercussions.

I quickly realized that I could do it again and nothing negative would happen.

So I did. I cheated a couple of times on Saturday and once on Sunday. Mmmmmmm.... It felt so freeing! I was an official cheater.

Gosh, I hope whoever is reading this also read my last post because if not, they are probably judging me like crazy right now.



I. Cheated. On. Whole30.


After my weekend of cheating, I realized that even though I am a rule follower, maybe I don't do so well with sooooo many rules. I'd rather just put things in my body that make me feel good and limit those that don't.

Duh.

That's totally easy to do and doesn't require a set of rules and regulations.

I feel best when I am eating as clean as possible. My body loves eggs, copious amounts of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and peanut butter. Glorious peanut butter. It doesn't love corn at all, unless it's on the cob at a Summer picnic. *wink* My gut feels the effects of large amounts of rice and dairy but seems just fine with both, in smaller portions. And gluten? Well, I still don't have a choice on that one since my 90 days won't be up until December 1st, but I have definitely noticed that I feel better without it than I did with it.

So, yes, I cheated. But, I am a better person for it.



Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ummmmmm....

So, ummmmm....I know I was really gung ho about Whole30 and how it was going to heal my gut, but well...ummmmm... on Friday night, I kinda sorta ummmmm.... cheated.

Let me paint this scene for you. We went my friend's 40th Birthday party at 7pm. I had a very lovely dinner before we left - Plenty of food, I thought, to fill me up for the evening. I brought my contribution of a tomato basil salad and figured that I could munch on that if I got hungry. We got there and on the table were soooooo many tempting foods and drinks, but I stayed strong. I grabbed a bottle of water and just avoided the food. I also didn't have any wine, which I normally would have had a glass or two.

We decided to play a fun game called "The Game of Things". If you haven't played this, do it. Especially in a crowd of drunk people. And also with some of your best friends. Who aren't afraid to speak their mind. And be crass. And make fun of each other. It's HYSTERICAL!

At the end of the game, we put on music and started dancing. When I say that I danced my a$$ off, I am SERIOUS. I was dancing like I was drunk - but I wasn't. I was stone sober and still managing to have a blast. But, as you know, exercise makes you hungry. The more I danced, the better and better the food started to look.

Finally, at about 11pm, I cracked. I couldn't have much of the food due to the gluten in it but I *could* have the pepperoni pizza dip. But, it was very clearly not Whole30 compliant as it was COVERED in cheese. I told my husband that I was going to eat it, halfway hoping he would stop me but he didn't so I dived in. Luckily for me and for my stomach, there wasn't much left so I didn't have a huge portion or anything but man, it was YUMMY!

I waited afterward, thinking that my stomach was going to rebel against me, but it didn't. I felt fine. And my hunger had been satisfied.

Ok, I thought, that was no big deal. It was just some cheese. I'll continue with Whole30 tomorrow....

 


Friday, November 1, 2013

30 Days of Thankfulness!





It's about that time! As I did last year, I will be writing a thankful post every day for the entire month.

Today's post was..

I am SUPER thankful for the fact that I didn't eat a single piece of Halloween candy. Not even 1! Seriously, this has never happened in all of my 36 years of life...well, maybe except my first Halloween when I was 4 months old.

For real, people. I cannot believe that I did it. I didn't know I had it in me. I guess it's true what they say: that self control is a muscle that needs to be exercised and will get stronger with time. As I have moved from going gluten free at the beginning of September to starting Whole30 a few days ago, I have gotten more and more used to having rules. As a reminder...



And, luckily, I am a rule follower. 

The weirdest thing is that I haven't been hungry either. The food I am eating has been enough to sustain my body and give me energy. 

Today, however, is when I will start to work out again post marathon so stay tuned to see how I handle Whole30 WITH exercise. I'm guessing I will just increase my portions to make up for it, but we'll see...


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Whole 30 - Day 4






Day 4:

I am really getting the hang of this now! Breakfast was my already prepped up egg muffins with a bowl of fruit. Lunch was the leftover sweet potato quiche from last night, broccoli, and an apple. Dinner was a chicken burger on a bed of iceburg lettuce, a tomato basil salad, and a side of tahini sauce (which I bought to make cauliflower hummus but hadn't done it yet. It's not as good by itself, as I discovered). I also had an apple while the kids ate their Trick or Treat candy.

And, I didn't have a single piece of candy! What?!?!?! I know! I am super proud of myself!




Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Whole 30 - Day 3




Day 3:

So, in the morning, I decided that I wanted something a little different than my usual egg muffins so I whipped up some Two Ingredient Pancakes for breakfast. Of course, right after I ate, I was on the Whole30 page and saw this...




Know what? I don't care. I stuck to the plan AS BEST I COULD and that's that.

Lunch was 2 "approved" hot dogs and the end of that bland cauliflower soup. I didn't want to waste it because of the "starving kids in Ethiopia". Yes, some things really stick with you, don't they?

Dinner was supposed to be this recipe for Sweet Potato Quiche and it was...kinda. I basically just took 2 large sweet potatoes and threw them into the microwave for 7 minutes then peeled them and cut them into chunks. I sprayed a pie pan and then put the chunks in. Then, I took the last of my carton of egg whites and 5 eggs and after whisking those, threw them in as well as some cut up green onions. Then, I sprinkled a little bit of nutmeg on top. It was delish! I also had some fruit salad with it and that was yummy as well. I made extra so that I will have a "go to snack" when needed.

Note: I also had an apple and some Trader Joe's Vegetable Root Chips as snacks throughout the day but I can't be expected to find my phone to snap a pic every single time. *wink* And yes, I am pretty sure the chips aren't "approved" but again, I am doing the best I can.

Day 3 = done!






Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Whole30 - Day 2





Day 2:

I had 3 more of those delicious egg muffins for breakfast with oranges. They were pretty good but I am definitely missing ketchup or salsa for my eggs.

Lunch was leftover Triple Meat Italian meatballs and some sauteed peppers. My afternoon snack was a banana.

Dinner was a grilled chicken breast, broccoli, applesauce. and cauliflower soup. I had made the soup in the afternoon and knew right away that I wasn't going to love it. And, I was right. It was pretty bland. Some cheese would have helped but alas....

I did have an apple with a glass of water before bed but didn't snap a pic of it.

 So far, I am feeling like this lifestyle is too limiting, but maybe once I do my mid-week shopping trip to stock some more fruits and veggies into the house, I will feel better about it.

Stay tuned....






Monday, October 28, 2013

Whole30 - Day 1





Day 1: 

For breakfast this morning, I had some DELICIOUS egg muffins with veggies and a HUGE Honeycrisp apple. I was feeling really good about my choice.

Then, at lunchtime, I decided on a salad with grilled chicken and a hard boiled egg on it. I gave myself another pat on the back for an excellent choice.

When it was time to prep dinner, I glanced at my meal schedule and saw that I had written "Triple Meat Italian Meatballs and a green salad". Since I had already had a salad for lunch, I grabbed a bag of frozen mixed veggies from the freezer and microwaved/steamed them. As I scooped them on to my plate, I remember "no legumes" and took all the green beans out, placing them on my husband's plate instead. It wasn't later that I thought to myself "Oh crap...no corn!!!!!" And, as it turns out, green beans are one of the legumes that are approved.

I'm not too upset about it because these 30 days are a learning process and I really don't think this small portion of corn is going to make or break this experience. I will not be restarting Day 1 tomorrow. Just moving on...




Marine Corps Marathon

 
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Yesterday, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.  This was my fourth marathon but my first one running for a cause. I chose to run for Team Fisher House, along with a few fellow IHS grads, their friends, and also a good friend of mine. The nine of us, known as Team Jack Shick, have raised $11,361.00 to date but the link is still good until the end 2013, so...if you want to contribute go HERE and do so.   
I had a lot of anxiety going into this race. For one, I had put a lot of pressure on myself in training to get a sub 4 hour marathon, so when it came time to taper, my body didn't know what to do without the crazy runs in which it was familiar. Also, I had this bizarre hamstring pain that started on Thursday, my legs just didn't feel good at all, and I woke up every morning with a sore throat and a runny nose. I was pretty much convinced that I was either going to quit mid-run or run with pain the entire time. Luckily, I think a lot of that was mental because by expo time, I felt just fine. Even my cold symptoms were getting better.

While unpacking, I realized that I had forgotten my contacts at my parents house but I managed to get a new pair at America's Best. I spent the day with a friend that I hadn't seen since 5th grade. It was really great having someone who was familiar with the city in the driver's seat because hello, DC drivers are cray cray! 
 
We went to lunch at this cute place called Busboys and Poets, where I wanted a bowl of chili but got eggs and hash browns instead because I didn't want to make my belly mad this close to race time.
 
Me and Leah outside of the restaurant.
 
The Expo was held at the Armory. Apparently, there had been an electrical outage earlier in the day so the lines were insane. Lucky for me, pretty girls don't wait in lines... *wink*
At 6pm, the team dinner was held right in the host hotel where I stayed so that was awesome. The speakers were ahhhhh-mazing and made me so proud to run for such a great cause. I was really fired up at the end of the dinner but luckily, I was able to fall asleep within about 5 minutes of my head hitting the pillow, at 8:15pm!

The bad news is that due to my early bedtime and some residual nervousness, I woke at 2:15am and couldn't fall back to sleep. I decided to shower, even though I was about to run because it's easier to pull my newly short hair up when it's wet. After that, I applied my Glide, got dressed into my team shirt and a pair of shorts and untied and tied my shoes about a dozen time. I ate a banana with PB2 at 6am and headed to the lobby of the hotel to meet up with the rest of the team. 
 
The leaders and Champ the Cow walked us to the charity tent, where I had a LaraBar, got my last bathroom trip out of the way, and saw a beautiful sunrise. 
 
I got to the start line in time to see Skydiver Marines jumping out of planes while holding American flags - soooo awesome. I had already found one of my teammates earlier in the morning and we lined up with the 4:00 - 4:10 group. Right before the start, the three other teammates joined us and I was excited that we could, at least, start together. (Note: We had a few other team mates but the two other women weren't at the start with us. One had an injury right around taper time so she wasn't running and the other one was completely MIA, leaving me as the only chick among these boys men) Before I even had a chance for some more nervousness, the howitzer started us off. It took us about four and a half minutes to cross the start. For the first couple of miles, I was running with a few members of my team; They were 3 guys I knew from high school: Keith, Scott, and Brian. Unfortunately, they were going faster than I wanted, so I just did my own thing.

There is a lovely hill early in the race then lots of rolling hills and bridges. The crowds were so amazing that I didn't need my music until about 7 miles in, when we hit a quieter section. I took my first Gu at that point too. At mile 8, I knew my sub 4 dreams probably weren't going to happen unless I really picked it up and I didn't feel comfortable enough to do so, so I just kept myself running at a speed that I knew I could maintain for awhile.

I was very glad I had chosen to wear my bright yellow team shirt because the Team Fisher House supporters were super encouraging. I zig zagged a bunch to slap high fives and thank people for their support. I was actually having fun out there which was great!

I took my 2nd Gu at mile 17-ish. At that point, I started counting down to the end instead of counting up. I passed mile 20 (the beat the bridge part) with not much thought because at that point, I was just thinking that I only had a 10K left. At mile 22, my legs really started to feel the fact that I had been on them for so long and I started taking walk breaks here and there. At mile 23-ish, I saw THE BEST SIGN EVER that read: You don't have to marathon train tomorrow.
 I crossed the 40k mark at 3:59:59 which I thought was funny, given the fact that I had wanted to sub 4 initially. At that point, I thought I might be able to squeeze out a PR (lower than the 4:11:09 I ran 2 years ago) but then I saw a guy collapsed and they were doing chest compressions. At that moment, I realized that picking up my pace just wasn't worth it to me.

I went up the last .2 mile HILL to finish with a 4:13:57. I'm super proud of my time and even though it wasn't a sub 4 or even a PR, I feel like I did really well out there. 
Brian, Scott, Keith, Rob, and Maria
Our Team Results:


Brett - 3:33:15
Brian - 4:08:50
Maria - 4:13:57
Keith - 4:14:40
Scott - 4:39:29
Rob - 4:45:08
Warren - 5:12:36
Pam - 6:33:04


Congrats to Team Jack Shick and to all the Marine Corps Marathon finishers. You can hold your heads high, knowing that you accomplished something - that you are one of the 0.5% of Americans who can say they have run a marathon.
 
 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Healing my gut

In the next installment of "Healing my gut", I will be doing the Whole30 program. And no, I won't be paying $14.95 as I have found all the necessary materials online for free. Cheapskate? Yup! Smart? I'd like to think so...

Here are the rules in short form:



With my 4th (and final?) marathon coming up this Sunday, I decided to wait until I return from that to begin. I don't think it would be a good idea to mess with my stomach right before a long run plus I have already bothered the folks at Team Fisher House to make sure I got a gluten free meal at their carb load dinner on Saturday night.

And since I have alllllll this extra time (Thanks, taper!), I have already made my meal plan for the next couple of weeks.

Here is my first week:

SundayMCM time! I have no clue what I will be eating. Day 1 of Whole30 is Monday.

Monday - Triple Meat Italian Meatballs with a fresh greens salad (on crusty Italian buns for my husband who isn't quite ready for this lifestyle...yet.)

Tuesday - Grilled Chicken with Cauliflower Soup 

Wednesday - Sweet Potato Quiche with a fresh fruit salad

Thursday - Chicken Burgers (again with buns for Mr. Gluten-lover!) and a Tomato Basil Salad

Friday - Harvest Spiced Chicken Stew with a fresh fruit salad

Saturday - Leftovers Night



I'm excited for all this TASTY food! And if it helps






that is EVEN better!






Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Things I NEED to accomplish....

I have put A LOT of things off while marathon training so here is the list of things I need to do after I run this marathon:

1. Cross training
2. Continue writing blogs for Mt. Lebo Magazine
3. Get back to some healthier eating habits
4.  Work on our budget and stick to it
5. Clean up the basement
6. Sell stuff we aren't using
7. Decide which fitness certifications I am going to complete this year
8. Get new cabinet doors, paint the existing cabinets, get a new counter top and put down a new floor in the kitchen
9. Get back to my earlier bedtime routine
10. Yoga


Someone remind me to check this list next week, please.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Two Word Tuesday.

Taper. Madness.


Obsessively checking the weather...





Watching inspirational videos...



 


 





Unnecessary gear acquisition...






Nesting....






4 days, 19 hours, and 25 minutes to go!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Taking a break...

It's an easier day for me than normal (read: just 1,000 things to do instead of a million), so I am taking a break to catch up on blogs and let myself breathe for a few minutes. As I tend to do when I am on break, I drifted over to Facebook. And the first thing I saw was this article that my friend posted as a link. Thank you, random Onion article for capturing my thoughts so clearly.

HOW IS IT ONLY TUESDAY?!?!?!?!?!?







I'd say that I am ready for a break but since I am already on one, I guess I'll continue goofing around for a few more minutes before I have to switch the laundry and start organizing the bathroom cupboard.

My. Life. Is. Awesome.





Monday, October 7, 2013

A Journey to Emmaus

Luke 24:13-35


13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.






This past weekend, I attended an Emmaus Retreat.

We are not allowed to share specifics about what happened at the retreat but I can tell you that it was powerful and oh so very real. If you have an opportunity to go, do it! 

What I can discuss is the circumstances that gave me the opportunity to attend. About a week ago, I got this message from my friend, Sheila: "Thought of you with this retreat. It is beyond any experience I have ever had. I know I am sending this kinda last minute, but that's how I roll...day by day! If you can perhaps sneak away for a weekend, and don't have a race, it's a perfect place to gather and reflect (and take some awesome runs around the beautiful grounds)." 

Usually, I would stew on something like that for a few days but (a) it was time sensitive (b) I knew that my stress level had reach an all time high and this was *just* what I needed.

I replied that I could go and got all the wheels set in motion for it. The weirdest thing was that I looked at my calendar and saw that we had next to no plans. This is a VERY RARE thing for us and the weirdest thing of all was that I didn't see a long run on my calendar. Huh?!?!?!?



 So, here's what happened...

Way back in the beginning of the Summer when I was calculating out weeks for my marathon plan, I must have made a mistake and skipped a week. I only just realized it when I realized that I had run my longest run of 22 miles with 4 weeks to go until the marathon. For those not well versed in marathon plans, that insane run usually happens when you have 3 weeks left to go. Because I had done that 22 miler the weekend before, it made it much easier to say "yes" to a retreat. Ummmmm, that is soooo a God thing, right?

On that Friday, I packed up my bags and got dropped off. Again, I can't share the details of the weekend but I can tell you that I didn't bring my phone or my purse or my calendar. And it was soooooo awesome. I needed that time away. Though it wasn't exactly a relaxing weekend (they keep you pretty busy), it was well worth the time. 

And bonus! I did get a chance to run during a Saturday afternoon break. It was over 80° and I only went 4 miles but a run is a run, right?

So, if you are contemplating an Emmaus retreat, I hope that God shows you that it is possible and well worth it.



 

Monday, September 30, 2013

I don't know about you, but I'm feelin' 22...

Miles, that is.

This past Sunday was the longest run of my training plan - 22 super long miles. I still can't believe I actually did it. Yes, I know I have run marathons before but it's been nearly 2 years and after the injury I had, I wasn't sure that I would ever run another distance run like this. Can I just say how happy I am that I am able to do this?!?!?

So...the day before the 22 miler, I ended up walking around my hometown. And down the train tracks. With my kids. In my boots. Over rocks and sticks. And on lots of big hills. Basically, I tore my body up before it was time to tear my body up. I seriously thought about canceling the run. Luckily, this teeny tiny little voice in me kept egging me on, so when my alarm went off at zero dark hundred, I rolled out of bed and got all my stuff together.

I had forgotten my Glide at home and couldn't find Vaseline in my parent's cupboards so I smeared on some baby rash cream. <Ahem, it worked> I also inadvertently left my fuel belt behind so I decided to stash water on the course.

I left 1/2 bottle of water, a Gu pack and a stick of gum along the road.
 I got to our meeting place and saw that my aunt was already running. Overachiever. I joined her, doing laps around the parking lot while we waited to see if anyone else was going to join us. One other lady did end up coming along and we headed toward town.

I had stashed my water at what I thought was going to be the 6.5 mile mark of our run, but due to the early laps and the fact that we changed our course to accommodate the other runner who joined us, I realized I wasn't going to be passing it until quite a bit later.

My aunt and I were alone by the time we headed back out of town to do "the airport loop". This loop is among the favorites for getting mileage in a small town but it is also riddled with hills, some of them quite steep. I was feeling good with the exception of my bladder. For some reason, I kept having that "gotta go" sensation, even when I didn't have to go.

I grabbed my planted water, Gu and gum at the 8.7 mile mark and then we went back to our vehicles at close to the 13 mile mark, where I had some Gatorade and popped in another stick of gum. Then, we headed to the Hoodlebug Trail. We ran on the trail to Sheetz in Homer City where we stopped for a potty break and my second pack of Gu. 

And since my GPS read 17.5 miles and we were about 4.5 miles from our vehicles at that point, we had no choice but to turn around and run back. When I looked down at my wrist and saw 21.65 miles displayed, I decided to sprint out the last quarter mile-ish. I figured that if I still had energy for that, I would have been fine to continue for 4.2 more miles of a marathon.

My overall pace was just above a 10 minute mile but given how many times we had to stop for traffic and how many hills we did, I will take it. I am feeling VERY confident about the Marine Corps Marathon but I know that the weather plays a major role in how quickly I can run, so let's all hope it's 50° at the start and that the sun is behind the clouds for most of the run.

I am writing this on Monday afternoon and my legs feel completely fine. I stroller walked for an hour this morning with friends and had no issues. Tonight will be a sloooooow recovery run. 







Thursday, September 19, 2013

A letter to Gluten

Dear Gluten,

We need to talk. I think it's time we break up.

No, no, no, don't be offended. It's not you - it's me. My belly just can't handle the way you make it feel.

I've been without you for 19 days now, and to be honest, I am doing just fine. Sure, there are moments when I see a brownie or a hunk of garlic bread, when I feel like throwing caution to the wind and taking a bite, but instead, I have decided that my self control could use the exercise and I walk away.

Thank you for understanding.

                                                             Goodbye (for good?),

                                                              Me







Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Discovering the joys of flourless baking....

My sweet tooth reared its ugly head today and I knew....

IT WAS TIME TO START BAKING AGAIN!!!!

At this point, I am 11 days into being gluten free, and to be honest, I am feeling pretty darn good about it. My stomach issues have pretty much disappeared, and I feel stronger and healthier than I did just a couple of weeks ago. It's a MIRACLE!

But, ohhhhh that sweet tooth of mine has been a little less than pleased lately. I don't eat processed foods so buying the gluten free cookies at the store wasn't a possibility. If I was going to satisfy my cravings, it was going to require baking. Now, as you know, I adore baking but I'm still learning about this gluten free nonsense. *wink*

I decided to pick something easy to start me off.

Enter the Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookie.

This recipe seriously only contained peanut butter, brown/white sugar, egg, baking powder, vanilla, and salt (which I just realized I forgot to add...). I didn't have a ton of peanut butter in the house so I made 1/4 of a recipe (9 cookies).






And may I just say that they are truly DELICIOUS?!?!?!?!?

<Pats self on back> My next attempt will be using some of the crazy flours that I felt the need to stock up on last time I was at the store....

Stay tuned.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gluten Free - Day 7/90 - 83 days to go!






IT'S A MIRACLE!!!!!! Not only am I feeling better but I ran a half marathon this morning, pretty successfully, I might add.

Breakfast - Fueled up with a banana and PB2

Lunch - Max and Erma's has a gluten free menu. This is the Tomato Mozzarella Chicken with field greens. Delish!

Snack - Apple

Dinner - Grilled chicken breast over brown rice with a side of applesauce

Snack - I was watching a friend's son and took my own little guy along with me, so I walked them both to the ice cream shop for a treat. After running the half, I felt like I deserved to have a little something as well. Luckily, they had a gluten free list of ice cream flavors and the guy who was working was really nice about making sure to change his gloves and get a new ice cream scooper, just in case.


And, as for the half, I had initially thought I was supposed to run it at my hopeful marathon pace of 9:09 which would have been a breeze, but on Friday night, as I laid in my bed being sick, I glanced at my training plan and saw "Half Marathon - goal of 1:52" Ohhhhhh, crapwaffles! I ended up pushing harder than I thought I would have to, but it was all good. My final time:

Clearly, the course was a little long. No worries.

As much as I am enjoying blogging every single freakin' meal *wink*, I am guessing no one in their right mind wants to read this, so I am going to resume normal programming and will be sure to check in on the gluten free thing when I can.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Gluten Free - Day 6/90 : 84 days to go!





Ok, seriously....I have been feeling SO GOOD and then day 6 comes along, and I start to feel like a piece of crap on the bottom of someone's shoe.

Last night, I had a really bad run. I got on the treadmill at the gym for an easy 5 miler, and within the first quarter mile, I was sweating and felt nauseous. I made it a grand total of 2 miles in 22 minutes and some change. I was a mess. Hubby and I went home and I crashed.

Friday arrived and fortunately, I don't have much on my agenda.  I was able to get the kids on the bus for school, load up the dishwasher, and do the grocery shopping before my body was able to figure out what I was doing. After the groceries were put away, I grabbed a bowl of Vanilla Chex and laid in my bed, watching DVR's for longer than I care to mention. At some point, I remembered that I hadn't truly had lunch so I stumbled out of the bedroom, spread some PB2 on rice cakes, threw a few grapes on the plate, and went back to my bed to relax.

I am decidedly calling it "Leftover Night" and going to bed early. This means no First Friday action for this girl. *sad face* Half marathon tomorrow - outcome not looking good....


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Gluten Free - Day 5/90 - 85 days to go!





Day 5 was NO PROBLEMO! I think I am getting the hang of this gluten free thing now....

Breakfast - 3 egg whites with a turkey sausage patty and melted cheese, apple

Lunch - 4 oz deli turkey (certified GF, of course) and some leftover zucchini with quinoa stuffing

Snack - 3 GF crackers with PB2

Dinner - THE most delicious homemade soup ever and a salad


So....Here is the recipe for the delicious soup:


Ingredients:

Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
3-4 split chicken breasts (free-range organic, if possible), rinsed, patted dry
8 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 heaping cups thinly shredded cabbage (bagged cole slaw mix is fast and easy)
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, cut up
1 yellow summer squash, cut up
2 zucchini squash, cut up
6 to 8 baby Yukon Gold potatoes, cut up
1 4-oz. can chopped green chiles- mild or hot, to taste
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon each of: dried basil, oregano and parsley
Hot red pepper flakes, shake to taste
1 14-oz. can Muir Glen organic fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 or more cups organic chicken broth, as needed
A dash or two of balsamic vinegar to taste
Instructions:

Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil into the bottom of a crockpot. Lay the chicken breasts in the bottom; top with half the chopped garlic. Season with sea salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the shredded cabbage, bell pepper, yellow and zucchini squashes, potatoes, and green chiles; and toss them with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Season with sea salt, ground pepper, herbs and a shake or two of hot red pepper flakes. Toss to coat.
Pour the veggies into the crock in an even layer. Pour on the diced tomatoes. Add the chicken broth and a dash of balsamic vinegar, to taste. The liquid should just about cover the veggies. If you like more of a brothy soup than a stew, add more broth.
Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours, until the chicken is tender and easily breaks apart into pieces with a large spoon (my chicken was very cold when it went into the pot, so adjust your cook time accordingly, if you need to).
Taste test for seasoning adjustments. I added a pinch of brown sugar to mine to balance the tomato-garlic and spice. Stir in any seasoning adjustments and serve.
Makes four hearty servings to soothe you - body and soul. This recipe is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, corn-free.

Thank you Gluten Free Goddess for another wonderful recipe.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gluten Free - Day 4/90 - 86 days to go





Another day and another gluten free recipe. This one was courtesy of Real Simple.

Breakfast - 3 egg whites mixed with spinach, grape tomatoes, and an apple

Lunch - Chipolte burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, steak, salsa and lettuce.

  • Ok, I *know* that I just had Chipolte for the first time YESTERDAY, but I have a reasonable explanation for why I had it again. See, it is a rare occasion for me to have a day off from watching kids and this happened to be one of those days. I decided to run down in Oakland and meet the hubby for lunch. We agreed to meet at a place I had seen online called the Red Oak Cafe. Urbanspoon had them listed as gluten free friendly. Well, we went in and I asked about my options. They said any of their sandwiches could be made gluten free but when I asked about what kind of bread they used, the guy just kind of stared at me and then went to the back and brought out a bag of Udi's bread. As I surveyed the scene, it didn't look like they had separate areas for the gluten free items so I decided that cross contamination was too much of a risk and we walked out. And of course, right across the street there was a Chipolte *wink*
Dinner -  Chicken breast, applesauce, and zucchini with quinoa stuffing.

Snack - Cheesy bacon dip and apple slices
  • I went to a craft night at a friend's house where we were making wine bottle vases. I had brought the cheesy bacon dip so I knew I was safe with that. I would have brought along some gluten free crackers too but the hostess had mentioned that she would have veggies for dipping. Unfortunately, there were no veggies so I just ate it plain. And someone had brought sliced apples so I was able to eat those. 
  • There were brownies on the table that looked DIVINE but I didn't want to have to restart my 90 days so I just looked the other way. 


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Gluten Free - Day 3/90 - 87 days to go!

Day 3 and I have discovered the BEST place for gluten free eating - CHIPOLTE! (Which I refuse to look up for fear of finding out that it is not as healthy as I think it is...)

Breakfast - 2 Deviled egg halves and a banana
  • I am STILL trying to use up those deviled eggs....
Lunch -  Chipolte burrito bowl with brown rice, beans, chicken, salsa and lettuce
  • A bunch of us met up for lunch and this was the perfect place to go:)
Afternoon Snack -  A small Gala apple

Dinner - An all beef hot dog, 3 slices of Natural Nectar Cracklebred with garlic hummus and organic applesauce
  • We had someone here giving us a quote on the basement project so I had to eat quickly before going to my Juniors board meeting (read: gluten fest)

Snack - Fruits and Veggies
  • Thankfully, one of the 2 meeting hostesses brought the naturally gluten free fruits and vegetables :) I didn't have the dip because I wasn't sure.

So far, so good. My belly still hurts though so we'll see....


Monday, September 2, 2013

Gluten Free - Day 2/90 - 88 days to go!





Day 2 and I tried my first gluten free recipe, thanks to the Gluten Free Goddess.

Breakfast - Al Fresco Italian Sausage and some sauteed peppers with a side of 2 deviled egg halves and a few slices of banana.
  • Tasty breakfast and it fueled me perfectly for my 5 mile run on the treadmill - yippee!

Lunch - Weight Watchers chicken burger with 1/2 portion of sharp cheddar cheese melted on top, a small spring mix salad and a handful of grapes
  • This was exactly what I would have normally eaten except that it was missing a bun. I did buy some Udi's gluten free buns but I decided that I didn't need it.

Snack - Hershey's peanut butter cup ice cream
  • We were out all afternoon and my family wanted Dunkin Donuts. I watched them eat their treats and then practically ran to the shop where I had seen a sign for gluten free ice cream flavors. 
Be sure to turn on the sound for the video below by mousing over the top left corner and then clicking it.



Dinner - Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas, 1/2 ear of corn, and 1/2 serving of chips with salsa on top.
  • I am UBER impressed with myself for following this recipe. And it was worth every bit of work that was put into it. Sooooo delish!

Bedtime Snack - 1 portion of Vanilla Chex
  • Tasty but I probably need more for a bedtime snack...


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Gluten Free - Day 1/90: 89 days to go!





Here it is, my very first day of being gluten free, and yes, I've already discovered where I can find gluten free bakery items. Enter Eden's Market in Mt. Lebanon, who carries a wide range of gluten free products AND they get a weekly delivery from a gluten free bakery in Ligonier.

Breakfast - 3 egg whites and a turkey sausage with 1/2 portion of sharp cheddar melted on top, a few grape tomatoes, and some cut up watermelon.

  •  This was simple. It's pretty much what I have every morning but without the bread or wrap.
Lunch - Eat n Park's Grilled Chicken Salad without fries or croutons with some ranch on the side.
  • Nick ordered the Bananas Foster French Toast, which, admittedly, looked pretty yummy, but my salad was filling and tasty as well so I was okay. 
Snack -  A gala apple
  • Hooray for a naturally gluten free food!
Dinner - 1 all beef hot dog, small Caesar salad, 1/2 ear of corn, and 2 deviled egg halves plus my sweet treat from Eden's Market for dessert.
  • We had hosted a picnic the day before where my Dad and youngest sister (both Gluten free) were in attendance, so I had leftovers from that. The sweet treat was DIVINE!