Archive for November, 2009

Food Recommendation – Pink Lady Apples

Monday, November 30th, 2009

We’ve all heard the old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well there’s some real truth to that. From

The Health Benefits of Apples

  • Help protect bone health
  • Help prevent asthma, heart disease, and cancers such as lung, breast, colon, and liver
  • Research also suggests that the phytonutrient called quercetin may help to prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism
  • Pectin in apples can help to lower LDL cholesterol
  • Good for diabetes and weight management
  • Good source of vitamin C
  • Good source of soluble and insoluble fiber
  • Excellent source of flavanoids and antioxidants

Besides the health benefits, apples are great because they’re portable, highly versatile, inexpensive and delicious.

My favorite apple variety is the Pink Lady. They’re the perfect combination of sweet and tart, incredibly juicy, nice and firm, and not the least bit gritty. I hate gritty apples.

Pink Ladies are in season right now! Do yourself a favor and pick up a bunch – they make a great snack! When selecting your apples, keep in mind that the pinker, the better.

I heard somewhere that when you’re hungry between meals you should eat an apple… And if you can’t bring yourself to have an apple, you’re not that hungry.

Old Habits Die Hard

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

I fell off the wagon so hard this holiday that I have a bruised bum. Figuratively speaking, of course.

I’m not entirely sure what happened. The trip up to Buffalo for Thanksgiving started out well enough: I brought healthy snacks and was armed with multiple sets of workout clothes, but apparently I forgot to pack my resolve.

As you know, the Turkey Trot went well, but that 5-mile run was not enough to combat the immense quantities of food I ate that day. Turkey (with stuffing), squash (with butter and brown sugar), mashed potatoes (with gravy), cranberry sauce (sweetened with sugar), croissants (with butter)… And that was just for dinner. After dinner, there was pie, pie and more pie.

Man do I love pie…

I just had very little control. Not only did I eat more than I knew I should (or needed) while at the table, I also found myself falling into habits I thought I kicked a long time ago. Habits that were a serious cause of my obesity in the first place.

While helping to prepare meals, I found myself tasting the food far more than necessary. While helping to clean up after meals, I found myself sneaking leftovers as I packaged them up for the refrigerator. I used to sneak food like this all the time as a child – there were always far fewer leftovers on days that I was asked to put them away than when my siblings put them away.

Not only was the actual day of Thanksgiving rough for me food-wise, the days following it I was terrible, too. We ate out. A lot. And I did not make healthy choices. Pizza and wings and fries and chinese food etc etc etc. And of course, leftover pie. There was also quite a bit of wine, which certainly doesn’t help matters, in more ways than one.

Yesterday we drove home, and in the car I got physically ill. At first I thought it was my body rejecting all the crap I had shoved into my mouth over the previous few days. I actually think it was just a response to the speed with which I ate my MTO chicken sandwich. So stupid.

I’m really mad at myself for my poor willpower over this holiday. It makes me sick to think that I could so quickly and easily slide back into old habits when I’m not paying full attention.

I guess I still have a lot to work on. I sincerely hope I’m not the only one who struggled so much with food this holiday.

Here’s to a more successful Christmas!

Trotting With Turkeys

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

This morning was the 5-mile Turkey Trot that I’ve been training for over the last few weeks. I had two goals:

2 – Finish in under 57 minutes.

I did both. In spades.

This year we had a pretty big group, 10 in total. I was hoping to stick with Friend #1 and her 3 friends as much as possible, since I knew they also had their sights on running the entire course. My family, which made up the other 5 participants in my group, was mostly planning on a walking/running combination.

One of the three friends we lost in the first quarter-mile. She’s fast, and had different goals than the rest of us. Namely, to kick our butts :)

Shortly after the first mile, I somehow ended up running with just one of the three friends, when Friend #1 and the last of the three were separated from us. Even though she was running at a much faster pace than is my usual, I stuck with her.

When we hit the three-mile mark, we were only 30 minutes in. That’s a 10-mile pace, and I’m generally between 11 and 12 minutes. Shortly into the fourth mile, though, I told her to run ahead without me. I didn’t stop, but I slowed to my normal pace. I knew that if I continued to push at that faster speed, I would run out of gas before the end and have to walk. That would not have been okay.

So she ran ahead and I slowed a bit. I did the last 2 miles or so on my own – as alone as you could be when you’re doing a road race with 12,000 participants – without walking for a second. I didn’t have too much left in me at the end, so I didn’t sprint the last tenth of a mile like I usually try to do, but even still, I crossed the finish line at 55:40. Official times aren’t posted, yet, but I crossed the starting line at almost three minutes, so I expect my time to be just under 53 minutes. My time last year was 59:46.

That’s freaking awesome.

I’m so pleased with myself. I did it! And I did it better than I expected.

Even more than the pride I feel in myself, though, is the pride I feel for my mother. My mom has never been, how do I put this… interested in fitness. In fact, her philosophy about exercise has always been that if she starts to sweat, she had better stop because she’s doing something wrong. She’s so cute.

I was so happy when she committed to doing the Turkey Trot with us. And even though she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to complete the entire 5 miles, she went out there with the best of intentions.

And she did it too.

I’m pleased as punch that she stuck with it. Even though she was tired and her feet hurt and this is likely more exercise than she’s gotten in the past month combined, she didn’t give up. She kept going, and never took advantage of the Plan B we had in place in case she couldn’t make it to the end. (I was confident that she could make it, but better safe than sorry!)

I hope she feels as good about her accomplishment as I do! She certainly should.

In fact, our entire group did a great job. I’m thrilled that I’ve had an impact of sorts on my family. There’s still a few holdouts – Hopefully they’ll join us next year!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Thanksgiving Preparation

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Ah, Thanksgiving. A wonderful time, filled with families and turkey and families filled with turkey.

It’s so nice to get together with my family for the holidays. Of course, being at my parent’s house is very different than being home.

For one, it’s much louder; two cats don’t make that much noise. Certainly not an equivalent amount of noise as a dozen naturally loud people and their offspring. This can be overwhelming at times, especially for my husband who hasn’t been around it his entire life like I have.

Another thing that’s very different – that is more of a concern for me right now – is the food. I’m not speaking strictly of the Thanksgiving meal, because that’s everywhere this time of year. Heck, if we didn’t have dinner with my family, we’d make it ourselves, and then we’d have the leftovers to contend with for a week!

No, what I’m referring to now is the other food. The food that they have in the house all the time. The pancakes and bacon. The bread loaded with HFCS. The 1% milk. The chips with dip. The little chocolates wrapped in foil on the table.

It’s a constant struggle. Sometimes I do well. Other times I give in, and it’s like breaking the seal: It’s hard to stop once you indulge that first little bit. I plan on bringing a few of my staple foods so that I know I have a healthy alternative when I need it.

On the plus side, when I’m with my family, I usually get in a couple of good workouts. It’s weird: I almost feel more motivated to work out when I’m up there. I’m not sure why. It probably has something to do with a subconscious battle with my former fat self, who got fat in that house to begin with.

This trip I know I’ll get at least one good workout in, in the form of the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. I think most cities have a 5k Turkey Trot, this one is five MILES. This is what I’ve been preparing for, though, and I’m feeling pretty confident. I plan to run the entire course, and I want to do it in 57 minutes or less. I’ve run 2 five-mile routes in the last 2 weeks, so I know I can do it again. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m really excited that this year most of my family will be doing the Turkey Trot as well! My husband, sister and one brother are all doing it again this year (they joined me last year). It’ll also be both of my parents, and my sister-in-law. Friend #1 from my Road Trip this summer is doing it, too, as are a few of her other friends. It’s going to be a good group!

A group I hope to leave in my dust!

I’ll wait for them after I cross the finish line, though. It is Thanksgiving.

I *Could* Always Draw…

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

This post is a bit overdue, but the old adage “Better Late Than Never” became an old adage for a reason, did it not?

Last week, a wonderful honor was bestowed upon me by the lovely Kat of Fit Mind, Body, Spirit. The Superior Scribbler Award! This is the first award I’ve received for my blog, and it makes me feel all warm and gooey inside that people like my blog. Well, at least one person likes it, and that’s just plain fabulous :)


As a recipient of this award, I am supposed to pay it forward to five others. I’m not sure if they should be in the same genre, but most of the blogs I read are health/weight loss blogs, so that’s what I’m going with. Without further adieu, five other blog(ger)s I adore:

Rachel at Body By Pizza, for her sassy and realistic (and well-written!) account of her weight-loss journey. She also pushes me to do more than I thought I could do (10k anyone?). And, she’s very much like me, so naturally I think she’s great.

Krissie at Questions For Dessert, because she makes me want to work harder. Another runner in the making!

Jack at Jack Sh*t, Gettin’ Fit, because he’s an inspiration. And hysterical.

Stephanie at BODA Blog, for her excellent advice, tips and news stories. Stephanie’s a nutritionist, and she is always posting something new and interesting!

Fat Bridesmaid, because she’s cute and funny, and does a Biggest Loser wrap-up like you wouldn’t believe. If you miss an episode, she’s got your back.

Recipients – read on. The rest of you – feel free to tune out now. Better yet, visit those blogs above and tell them I sent you. It won’t get you anything because most of them have no idea who I am, but do it anyway!

Here are the rules for the SUPERIOR SCRIBBLER award, as passed on by Kat:

  • Each recipient must pass the award on to five other deserving bloggers.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must link back to the author and the name of the blog from whom they received the award.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on his or her blog, and link to this post, which explains the award.
  • Each blogger who wins the Superior Scribbler award must visit the page noted above and add his or her name to the Mr Linky List. That way, the originator of the award will be able to keep track of everyone who receives it.
  • And finally, each superior scribbler must post these rules on his or her blog.
  • Kat added a disclaimer that I will add as well: I don’t want anyone to feel pressure with this award. If it is fun, feel free to do it. If not, please do not feel obligated to participate. Either way, please know that your blog has had a positive impact on me!

    Forty Days and Forty Nights

    Saturday, November 21st, 2009

    That’s right: Just 40 days left in 2009. Start your Christmas shopping yet?

    At the end of another 10-day period, it’s time for another update in The Hot 100. Here goes:

    Keep running! Running this last ten days has been either really good, or nonexistent. Let me explain. Last Saturday I ran 5 miles straight – first time ever. It was a huge accomplishment for me. And then, as I often do when I hit a big milestone (no pun intended), I didn’t keep going afterward. So yes, I ran 5 miles last Saturday, and then didn’t run again for the next four days. Why? I could give you all sorts of excuses about traveling and that causing fatigue and longer work hours to make up for time off, but what it really came down to is I didn’t feel like it. I forced myself to get out there again on Thursday, and did 4.5 miles, with only a short walking stint up a massive hill. Then I ran again today, another 5.1 miles (which incidentally, was a fabulous run).

    I think I’m back on track, but that 4 days without running really screwed me up. This week I missed 10 miles by .4, but last week I was over 15 miles, so I’m still really happy with how I’m doing with this goal. I plan on running again tomorrow morning, and then once more before the 5-mile Turkey Trot next Thursday, which I am confident I’ll be able to run the entirety of.

    Lose some more weight. Sigh. My last weigh-in was not so good. I’ve been eating out a lot again (see next point for more on that) and with a long stretch without a lot of exercise, that really hurt. If my diet is going to be lax for traveling or whatever else, I really need to keep my exercise up. I didn’t do that this past week, and boy did it show. I’m hesitant to even say what the scale read Friday morning, but I will face the disappointment and tell you anyway: 176.5. That’s up three pounds from the week before :/ I know I didn’t eat well this past week, but I didn’t think I was that bad. I’m hoping that some of that was excess water from a high sodium diet the day before, but I’m not counting on it. All I can say is that I’m going to try to make this next week better. Of course, we’re entering Thanksgiving week, and that’s never easy. Wish me luck… I’ll do the same for you!

    Eat out less – cook more. This has been absolutely terrible. I ate out a lot when I was visiting my family, and then I came home and was exhausted and in no mood to cook, so we ate out (or had food delivered, rather). Then over the next few days I was completely uninterested in making lunch, and had leftovers from our delivered dinner. Huge failure here this past 10 days. No wonder I didn’t lose any weight. The two really go hand-in-hand. I hereby vow that, with the exception of Tuesday night which is a scheduled dinner out each week, every meal I’m home for this next week I will eat a home-cooked meal. Hopefully, if I can do that and keep up with my running, the number on the scale will come back down.

    I’m sick of saying I’ve lost “almost 90 pounds.” I’d really love to be able to say “ninety” already.

    Five Flat

    Friday, November 20th, 2009

    I’m planning another 5-mile run for tomorrow, in another flat neighborhood. At least, I think it’s flat. I’ll know for sure after I run it!

    I know that I can run 5 miles; I did it last week. I just hope I can do it again. The Turkey Trot 8k is less than a week away, and I *really* want to complete that without having to walk. I figure if I can do two 5-milers before the race, I’ll feel confident that I can do it when there’s a time chip laced to my sneaker.

    The week after I’m running 10k… maybe I should be upping my mileage in order to prepare for that? I feel like there’s not enough time! Methinks I’ll be relying on adrenaline for that one.

    I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. And in Pittsburgh, there will surely be a bridge.

    I’ve Been Running Around

    Thursday, November 19th, 2009

    I have intended to write about my journey from slow walker to runner for quite some time. There are a few people out there who I think might be encouraged to finally dive into running after reading this (at least I hope!) and I’m all for encouraging folks to run. In fact, as I’ve said before, a couple of people have told me I’ve inspired them to start running (and have subsequently run circles around me, but that’s neither here nor there…). Earlier this week, I was flat out asked how I got to where I am with my running, so I figured it was definitely time.

    Brace yourselves, folks: It’s a long one.

    Three years ago, my husband and I went for a walk in our neighborhood. At the time, we lived toward the bottom of a rather long and steep hill. By the time we got to the top, I was out of breath and sweaty, and my calves hurt so badly, that I couldn’t keep going. Even though we intended to walk for more than 10 minutes, we turned around and immediately went back home. This was embarrassing, of course, but it didn’t spur me on to get into better shape. Hell, I had moments like this all the time.

    Two and a half years ago was my turning point. Prior to this, I did kung fu, but that was it in the way of exercise, and that’s not always very aerobic. Someone on My Food Diary suggested that I try a video workout series called Walk Away The Pounds (WATP) by Leslie Sansone. Basically, the idea of these videos is that you walk in your house: In place, two steps up, two steps back, side to side… it’s a lot of walking in a 4′ x 4′ space.

    I did WATP for a few months, lost a good amount of weight thanks in part to it, and increased my fitness quite a bit. Then the weather improved and I started walking outside. WALKING. I had no intention of running. In fact, I always had a very strong aversion to running that went back as far as I could remember.

    Then one day, I was walking down a steep hill and something came over me. I actually think I was mostly curious about whether I could run or not. It was also the first time I had music with me, so I’m sure that had something to do with it. I only jogged for a few seconds, but I remember feeling liberated! Fat girl on the loose! I also remember getting winded really quickly. That day I was down to 224.

    That’s also when I started thinking about trying the Couch to 5k (C25k) program. Before diving into that program, though, I tried something on my own. I went out a few times a week, jogging when I felt I could, always pushing myself a bit further than I thought I could go. The hills were a huge issue – even more so than they are now – since I had basically never run in my adult life.

    Shortly after that, I joined a gym so I could use the treadmill. I then followed the first 5 weeks of C25k. If you’re not familiar with the program, it’s a program designed to help beginners go from not running at all to being able to run 5k in just 2 months. I followed the program precisely: It was incredibly challenging, but I was always able to do what was asked of me. It starts out “easy”, with you  jogging for 60 seconds, then walking for 90 seconds, and alternating that for 20 minutes. Let me tell you: When I started, I was so out of shape that jogging for a full minute was a huge undertaking.

    I got 5 weeks in, where you’re supposed to run for 20 minutes straight. I did it, and then very nearly vomited in the parking lot.

    But I did it, and that’s the point! Of course, as is my M.O., I accomplished this huge feat, and then didn’t keep up with my schedule. I don’t know why I do that. It’s so dumb.

    Anyway, my running became more sporadic after that. Or at least, I wasn’t following a program. I would just run when I could get out and would do as much as I could. I signed up for my first ever 5k that took place on Mother’s Day, 2008. I hoped to be able to run the entire thing, but that didn’t happen; my training wasn’t consistent enough.

    I continued on in the same way, going through phases. I would start running and run pretty intensely (and by “intense” I mean 3 times a week, 1-2.5 miles a pop) for a few weeks, and then that would die out. And I didn’t run at all during inclement weather.

    In the last month or two, that’s gotten much better. I’ve been running consistently and I’m so surprised at how much that has helped me improve. I’ve been able to increase the distance/duration of my runs by 2-3 miles in just about 2 months by steadily running 3 times per week. As you know, I ran 5 miles straight last week, something that had previously sounded completely impossible.

    Running is definitely not something that comes naturally to me. As a child, I avoided it like the plague. I played softball, but counted on my heft to hit the ball far enough that I didn’t have to run very fast. Of course, hits that other girls would have gotten triples or home runs on only got me to first base because of it.

    Even today, I’m not very fast. I’ve been working on endurance and not speed. Once I’m up to a distance that I’m happy with for a while, I think I’ll switch to working on upping my speed. I’m not sure when I’ll reach that “happy distance” though. Get this: I have a friend who just ran his first marathon last week – yay for him! – and I told him that if he’s still doing marathons in 5 years I’d join him. Not sure what I was thinking, but I like lofty goals!

    If you’re looking to either start running or better your running abilities, the best advice I can offer is to train consistently, with a starting point that is reasonably suited to you and your current fitness level. If you’re significantly overweight and/or out of shape like I was when I started my journey, I’d say start with walking (or check out WATP). After a few weeks or months of that, check out the C25k program. Those helped me so much in the early stages, both in getting me in better physical shape, and also in preparing me mentally for running longer distances. Since it’s such a gradual increase, you’ll be amazed at what you can do!

    If you’re a bit more advanced than that but are still struggling, I challenge you to look at how much you’ve been running. If you’re only running once a week, you’re only doing enough to maintain your fitness, and not increase it. Make a schedule. Plan out how far and how often you’re going to run, and then stick to it! I really like Hal Higdon’s training schedules. So far I’ve used his 8k and 10k schedules, with a little editing to fit my schedule a little better.

    I’m certainly no expert, but if you’d like to ask me any questions about my personal running journey or want some tips about yours, the comments are open :)

    Mind Over Matter

    Sunday, November 15th, 2009

    I did it: I ran the full five miles from my parent’s house to my sister’s house without walking. AND I did it in under an hour – 58 minutes.

    It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. From the start, I felt tired and unsure of myself, but I wanted so badly to be able to make it that I pressed on. I was pretty sure that my body would be able to do it if my mind let me.

    The flatness of this route (in Western New York where I grew up) was a huge – and welcome – difference to the hills in most of my routes in Western Pennsylvania, where I currently live. What’s funny is that this 5-mile route had just two hills, and even though neither of them were as steep or long as what I’m used to, these were more like valleys, with the downhill first. That threw me off. I really had to try to build up momentum on the downhill for the hill, whereas I usually use downhills for recovery. I wasn’t used to that.

    I knew the route pretty well, though I’ve only ever driven it before. I knew that I would be turning off the main road at a Burger King, and that my sister’s house would be soon after that, with maybe only a mile to go.

    I had never been so happy to see a Burger King in my life.

    When I hit the BK and realized that I wasn’t that much further and still hadn’t stopped to walk, I knew I would make it. When I turned into my sister’s driveway, I felt such a sense of accomplishment that I damn near cried.

    It was an incredible feeling.

    Even though I wasn’t sure I could do it, I was sure I could do it, if you know what I mean. And now that I’ve done it once, I no longer have to wonder if I’m capable of it.

    I CAN DO IT.

    And there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to do it again and again.


    Incidentally, thank you all for your encouragement! It means a lot to me and helped me accomplish this feat. You guys rock :)

    Dear Sister

    Saturday, November 14th, 2009

    As the lucky person who happens to live precisely five miles away from where I am this morning, you get to wait for me to show up at your door following my attempt to run the distance between us, and then drive me back to my starting point.

    I’m leaving soon. If all goes well, I should be there in about an hour… under an hour, ideally. However, if all does not go well, it could take longer.

    If I’m not there in an hour, continue waiting. I’m more of a jogger than a runner.

    If I’m not there in an hour and a half, wait some more. I’m really quite  s l o w .

    If I’m not there in 2 hours, please continue to wait. I had to walk.

    If I’m not there in 2 and a half hours, eat breakfast without me. I’ve stopped to eat myself.

    If I’m not there in 3 hours, come look for me. I’m dead.

    Hopefully, it won’t come to that, but only time will tell. I believe I am ready to meet this challenge, or else I wouldn’t be tackling it at this point in time. Please be patient, though. This is a huge undertaking and I’m a bit nervous. Can’t wait to see you.

    In fact, I wish I was there already.