Monday, January 31, 2011

I Have a Code

*sniff* *sniff*  My nose is stopped up and I'm sneezing.  Yep, I have a cold but when I say it, it sounds like "I have a code."  Poor me. LOL

I had grand plans of exercise today but looks like I'll be in bed with a bottle of Dayquil (which puts me to sleep), Kleenex (which is really a roll of toilet tissue), and cheesy movies.

It started yesterday and got worse as the day progressed.  Chuck was so sweet. He got in the kitchen and made homemade refried beans and tacos.  He even made the taco shells!  Everything turned out perfect.  Thanks, Chuck!

Saturday I was still going strong so Chuck and I cooked together.  Gyros!! I didn't even know you could make gyros at home.

First, a trip to Phoenicia Specialty Foods for some ingredients.
 The pita is fresh from the oven.

 Cases of baklava.  Evil, wicked baklava. ;-)

 We made the gyro meat as a meatloaf and then sliced it thinly.  It was incredibly good.  Just a few ingredients.  Ground lamb is the meat of choice.  I was able to find some lean ground lamb to cut down on the calories. 

 Stuffed grape leaves.

 My plate with gyro (in half a pita), grape leaves, homemade tzaziki, a kibbeh ball, and a few roasted potatoes.  Such a good dinner.

I used a recipe from Alton Brown for the gyro meat and tzaziki.  It is really easy to make so if you like gyros you may want to give it a try.

Rachel made a cake that day to practice some of her skills.  We brought it to Chuck's parents' house and left most of it there.  Very cute cake. Tasty too!  Rachel starts a new cake decorating class next week so I'm sure she'll be making more.

The Dayquil is starting to work its magic so I guess I'll go take a nap and try to get over this cold so I can get back to running and exercising in general.  It feels weird to just lie in bed since I've been so active lately.

Goodnight, blogger buddies. *sniff* *sniff* *snork* *snork*

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weigh In & Exercise Roundup

Weigh in: -0 pounds.  188 Same as last week.
Size: 14 pants, Large tops
Mood: very happy and optimistic.  The 0 loss did not set my mood into a tailspin.  Working hard, keeping a calorie deficit, eating cleaner (though not 100%)

Exercise: (starting with last Sunday)

Sunday: 6 mile run; strength train upper body

Monday: REST

Tuesday: 2.17 mile run;  strength train chest shoulders, triceps

Wednesday: 3.11 mile walk; jump rope 6 minutes

Thursday: Bike 8 miles; Turbo Jam Cardio Party2 45 minutes; strength train quads, hamstrings, glutes & calves (OUCH! Legs are weak)

Friday: shooting, canoeing, jump rope, biking, playing catch; not a set workout but I burned over 2600 calories that day

Saturday: walk 3 miles;  strength train back, abs & biceps

Strength training routine is from Oxygen magazine's February issue routine "Your Best Body".

Not much running this week.  My right hip decided that it didn't want to join the party so I took some time off.

I pledge I will not check on my weight every day.  The scale will not be stepped upon until next Sunday. :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

What the Scale Doesn't Know (with pictures)

Before I talk about scales and my general dislike of them, I'd like to share my Friday with you. 

Exercise can be so much fun!

First, I went to the shooting range with Chuck.
That was a lot of fun.

Then we went paddling with the kids.
Ready to go.

On our way!

Chuck and Charlie pulling away from the dock.

The wind was really bad.

Love being on the water.
 We even got to see an osprey up close. Fun trip but the wind made paddling quite a chore.

Got home and jump roped. 

Then rode my bike around.

Then Chuck and I played catch with a Nerf football until the street lights came on and it got too dark to see the ball.

Great day.  A fun way to burn up the calories.
Now on to scale hate.

I've had more ups and downs in my emotions because of the scale than anything else.  One day I'm on top of the world because the scale shows a lower number.  The next day I'm down in the dumps and want to give up because a higher number shows up.

Recently I have been working out like crazy and eating right and having calorie deficits and the scale still won't go down.  It's so friggin' frustrating.

But my clothes have been fitting better and I've dropped from a size 18 to a size 14 since December.  That's awesome!  The scale? Hardly moved at all.  It kills me on weigh in day.

Helen sent me a link to a sparkpeople blog post where a girl hardly lost any weight but lost clothes sizes.  It was so inspiring for me to read this. (thanks, Helen!)

It also made me want to do something similar.  Could I see a difference?

The first two pictures are of me at 190. I wore size 18 pants and large or extra large shirts.
The last photo is me at 189.5 (as of this morning because of sore muscles) wearing size 16 pants (in the picture though I now wear 14s) and size large shirts.  What is hard to see in the picture is how much my belly, waist and muffin top have shrunk. I don't see a huge difference in the pictures but I do when I'm standing in front of the mirror.  Or when I'm trying on clothes.

I'm firmer. My collar bones show.  I can feel my ribs. Muscle definition.  And it's 1/2 pound difference.
Strength training is so important!

People have tried to tell me how important it was to use weights but I was so lost that I didn't know how to start.  Oxygen magazine has been a huge help with their 3 part series (starting in January issue 2011) of "Your Best Body."  Also the book New Rules of Lifting for Women is filled with valuable information and a 6 month training plan.

I still have weight (fat) that I need to lose but I'm not quite as freaked out when I step on the scale because the results are visible no matter what that number says.  From size 18 to size 14 with only a half pound difference?!  That's amazing to me!

Don't let the scale rule you.  Let clothes be your guide. They tell a more accurate story.  Take measurements once a month.

Next pictures will be in the new 14s.  I just had on my 16s because they are so loose and comfy. :)

Friday Quickie

  • Kicked my butt exercising yesterday.  Not sure why I decided to keep going and going but I did.
  • Started with Turbo Jam Cardio Party 2.  I was a sweaty mess afterwards. Dripping sweat! 45 minutes, 450 calories burned.
  • If I haven't done Turbo Jam in a while, my back always hurts the next day.
  • Duathlon coming up so I better start training for it. Bike ride 8 miles, 41 minutes. Slow? Oh yeah.  Need to strengthen those legs muscles a little more.
  • Started thinking on the bike ride: what if I come in last?  What if I fail? Then it hit me like a brick upside the head: if I keep trying then I'm not failing.  I only fail if I quit.  Even if (for some terrible reason) I can't finish the race I don't fail unless I don't come back next year and try again. Failing is when I stop trying, not when I hit a bump in the road. This applies to weight loss and everything else.
  • Strength training: Oxygen magazine's February issue "Your Best Body" routine for quads, hammies, glutes and calves.  Holy mother of lactic acid! I know why they cry on Biggest Loser now.  OK, legs are my weakest area.  I know that.  This reminded me of that. Daaaaannnnng.
  • And, no, I am not walking right today. Still sore from the tricep exercises on Tuesday and now my back, butt, quads and hamstrings hurt.  Calves are ok.
  • I've been trying new recipes lately and it's been a lot of fun. Thursday I made fish just for the halibut. It was shrimply delicious. That's the trout, so help me cod.
    Cooking Light February issue: Poached Halibut with Lemon-Herb Sauce. 217 calories. Also with 1/2 cup brown rice and 2 cups broccoli.
  • New love: unsweetened coconut milk (found right by the soy milks) with protein powder.  The coconut milk is super thick like drinking cream and 50 calories per cup.
SO happy it's Friday.  I'm off for a busy day.  Hope yours is happy.  It's supposed to get to 70 degrees in Houston today!!! Woohoo!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


So checking on the scale and the numbers seem to be very happy at 188.  187 seems to scare my body for some reason.  I told it to just skip 187 and let's head towards 185.  It's a friendly number.  Try it!

Good news: my shape is changing!  The muffin top is going away. I shocked myself when I felt the back of my arm and there was a muscle there.  Where did that come from?  I grabbed a glass and there was a muscle in my forearm.  Wow! Really?  I must say that the new shapes are surprising me.  This is so much nicer than just a number on the scale.  These are visual results.  Thank you, strength training!

Tuesday I went for a 30 minute run at a park while the kids played at the playground.  The very small track loops around the playground so I could see them at all times which is nice for a worry wart like me.  Bad run.  Darn it.  I hate days like that.  Heavy legs. Right hip hurting.  Wind blowing gale force in my face. Calves were sore.  But I got it done.

That evening I switched to Oxygen magazine's February routine for "Your Best Body."  Instead of bands we use weights and a stability ball.  I learned that using a weight that is too heavy while doing a tricep extension might just snap your arm at the elbow.  Needless to say I have some very sore triceps.  That's good right?  Means I'm working those babies.

Flabby skin on the arms has always been something that I dread, worry about, and think about too much.  I finally decided that if I'm going to have bat wings I'll just fill up that empty space with muscle. :)  Trying to think positive here.

Made a fantastic recipe for dinner: Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca.  It's from Cooking Light's February issue and I can not recommend it enough.  Chuck said it tasted like something you'd get at a nice restaurant.  Try it!  It's so easy and looks pretty and tastes divine.
Lemony sauce, prosciutto, sage leaves, chicken. 202 calories
 Trying to come up with a clever team name for the 10K relay race at Blue Bell ice cream.  Thought a little wine might help me with some ideas. All I can think about is all-you-can-eat ice cream.  Awesome.  ;-)  Hope they have the Overload Bars which I can no longer find. We called them Overlord bars. Not sure why.
Trying to get in my fruits.  What should it be?  If I am what I eat do I want to be apple shaped?
 ...or pear shaped?
Honeycrisp apple it is!  It was so huge that I counted it as eating 1.6 large apples on sparkpeople.

Want to know how to kick your butt in 6 minutes or less?  Jumprope!  I thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest.  6 minutes.  Burned 90 calories in 6 minutes.  You think it's going to be easy.  Jump roping is for kids, yes? No.  That's some intense exercise.  Cheap, too!  I got my jump rope at Academy for $5.

6 minutes of exercise just didn't seem like enough for the day but I wanted to keep it low key so I went for a nice 5K walk in the neighborhood.  Felt good.

So things are just trucking right along here.  No earth shattering news.  Just trying to eat right and exercise my tail off.  Looking forward to that scale catching up with my efforts but at least I'm seeing a difference in my shape.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bless Your Heart

We don't usually think about our hearts.  They do their job without us having to will them to beat.  The heart lets us know it's working when we're running or exerting ourselves.  Or when our significant other jumps out and scares us half to death (I'm talking to you, Chuck).

But our hearts are definitely on our minds when something goes wrong.  No one wants that to happen.

I had my own scare once when my heart kept skipping beats over and over (or at least that's how it felt) and I had to go to the emergency room.  They ran all kinds of fun tests and concluded that it was stress. 

A few months ago I had to visit a cardiologist when I was having chest pains and tightness in my chest.  It turns out that I couldn't take the medicine metformin for my insulin resistance. Whew!

Lori at Finding Radiance has set up a Blogger's Heart Healthy Weekend for February 11th, 12th and 13th to celebrate our healthy hearts.  You choose your day.  You can bike it, walk it, run it, treadmill it, elliptical it...whatever you want and for whatever distance you choose.  Just get moving and bless your heart.

I have committed to do a duathlon at home: 2 miles run/8 miles bike/2 miles run.   What about you?!  Sign up today and let's have a fun weekend together.

Yesterday I took a rest day from exercise.  But I was active all day running errands, grocery shopping, signing Rachel up for a cake decorating class, cooking dinner, etc.  Still burned 2213 calories!

My mom called me.  She's been working on our family tree and finding some interesting stuff like we're related to some dude that had Whitmore Castle (I forgot his name) and we're relatives of King Edward I of England.  Cool!  So I'm the queen around these parts now. "Let me eat cake!" or something like that.

Dinner was Cheesy Meat Loaf Minis from Cooking Light's February issue.  Every one loved these.  I don't really like meat loaf but even I thought they were great.  Recipe can be found here.
Cheesy Meat Loaf Mini, pear with cinnamon, salad
 Suzi's challenge this week is to eat 5 fruits and veggies.  So far so good. I needed that daily reminder to eat those fruits and veggies.  It makes me more mindful of my meals.  Thanks, Suzi, for the challenges.

I started today with protein pancakes, 2 Tbs maple syrup, and a pink orange. Tasty and filling.  I like having the syrup on the side so I can just tear the pancakes and dip them.  I find that I use less syrup that way.
Have a wonderful day.  I'll see you tomorrow. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Doing Things I Don't Think I Can Do

I love watching Biggest Loser.  The transformations that take place both physically and emotionally are inspiring.

I'm not a fan of the game play.  I want every one to win (though there have been a couple of people on there that I did not want to win. They were so mean and hateful!).  I have also never been a big fan of how hard they seem to push people to their limits physically and emotionally.  It just seemed like overkill to me.

I think I may have a better grasp on why they push the folks so hard.  The people on that show arrive with very little opinions of themselves.  Most of them do not like themselves and don't think they can accomplish anything.  The trainers have to be able to push them so that they can see that they can do anything if they try hard enough.  Even lose weight.  Even run a marathon.  Not one of those people that shows up on day 1 believes in him/herself.  By the end of the season, they know they can do anything if they try hard enough.

It's been a lesson for me as well. It wasn't long ago that walking around the block was difficult for me.  I remember going to a state park with the family and starting a trail.  I made it less than 1/4th of a mile before I had to turn back.  I felt like such a failure every day.  I was holding my family back from having fun (or so I thought).   I didn't believe in myself.

I watched an episode of Biggest Loser online and saw these people who weighed more than me doing things that I never thought I could do.  And it lit that magical spark.

I started slow. I remember thinking that I would just use the Hungry Girl Cookbook for all of my recipes (they were low cal, right?) and start walking and eventually try to run.

The first time I ran I made it all of 10 seconds.  That left me huffing and puffing and I thought I was going to die.  Sport bra?  What's that?  Running shoes?  I don't need those because I'm not a runner.  Yeah, I had a lot to learn.  Still do,actually.

This year I want to continue that theme of doing things that I don't think I can do.  In other words, pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.  Seeking adventure!  Having fun.  Living life to the fullest!  Not letting anything hold me back.  Not even myself.

So far that will include (but is not limited to):
  • joining the Galloway running team
  • training for a half marathon
  • running that half marathon
  • canoeing down a river and sleeping on a sandbar
  • running the Chupacabra 10K trail run at night then camping out with other crazy runners
  • completing a duathlon in Galveston
  • doing a 10K relay at Blue Bell with friends (I won't say who since she hasn't mentioned it publicly yet)
  • zip lines (I'm terrified of heights)
  • an adventure run with obstacles and mud
  • more 5ks
  • San Antonio Rock n Roll half marathon
Yes, I am afraid to tackle most of those things.  I try not to think about it too much.  Like Nike says, "Just Do It!"  So what if I fail?  Is it the end of the world?  No.  At least I've tried and I can always improve and come back to do it again.

Are there things that you don't think you can do but probably can with some hard work?  What would you like to do?  Then make a plan and do it!  Life is way too short to wait to do the things you want to do.

Speaking of doing things I didn't think I could do, yesterday I ran 6 miles.  I didn't run the entire time since I'm using intervals but I still proudly say that I ran it.

Chuck told me something a few weeks ago that kind of stuck in my head: "Stop looking at the floor when you tell people that you run.  You are a runner."  I always feel like I need to explain that I don't really run because I walk intervals.  That's just not true. I am a runner.  It's taken a while to get that in my head.

Yesterday I did 30 seconds running/45 seconds walking.  It felt fantastic.  I still had a little ouchy in my hip but my legs felt so good.  Chuck accompanied me for 3 miles then I continued on the last 3 miles.  At mile 5.5 I was ready to stop.  No mp3 and I was starting to get bored.  Plus it seemed every one was in their driveways doing nothing.  I hate hate hate to be watched when I run.  It's a mental thing.  And why don't they say hi when I say hi? Hmmm?

Trying out different fuels on the longer runs and bike rides.  Sunday I used Nathan electrolyte tabs in my water and a Honey Stinger gel.  The elecrolyte tabs are 0 calories but taste like alka seltzer. Gross.  But they didn't upset my tummy at all.  The Honey Stinger tasted just like honey (imagine that!) and also did fine on the tummy. 

It was one of those great runs. Know what I mean?  I felt so good afterwards.  A little stiff but I really felt like a runner.  The sense of accomplishment can't be beat.  I never thought I could actually run 6 miles.  Next week: 7 miles. Eek!

Last night I ended the day by doing strength training for the upper body using Oxygen mag's January routine of "Your Best Body."

Total calorie burn for Sunday: 2954.  Awesome!

Check out my fuel loot from Academy:
The best flavored Gu, Honey stingers chews, and sport beans.  Sport beans are on sale for .49 each right now!

Ear buds.  Hope these will actually stay on. $10

Jump rope.  I don't think I'm getting enough cardio. joking.  I think it will be fun to try to jump rope again.  And a lot of work!  Burn those calories!

For inspiration from Amazon.

It's a "how to" book with drills and pictures.  Written by the founder of Newton shoes.
The nice folks at Fit to Run in Galveston were trying to show me how to run using the methods in Natural Running. Take short, quick steps leaning slightly forward at the hips. It should be like you're running across hot coals.  You don't want your feet on the ground very long at all.

As far as where to land, they had me do a drill where I stand in place and do high knees.  From there you lean forward a little like you're going to fall and keep going forward.  It's hard to explain.  After landing on the middle of the foot you just lift your knee and repeat.  No pushing off.  Just lifting your knee. The Newtons have a little "spring" that helps give your knee a push upwards.  Very cool.

Don't be afraid to try something new.  Just do it.  As my mom always told me: You can do anything you put your mind to doing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weigh In and Exercise Roundup

Weigh In: -1 pound   188

Mood/Feelings:  Extremely Slightly disappointed.  This means I lost 1 of the 2 pounds I gained last week.  I weigh exactly what I weighed this time last month (at least when comparing it to the old scale's numbers). 
1200 calories per day and exercising my rear off.  Something isn't right. I also haven't had a "time of month" since November 2010 (and it's not possible that I'm preggers).  I did some reading and it seems that I might not be getting enough calories for the amount of exercise I'm doing.  But the challenge I'm doing is 1200 calories only.  Soooo.....gotta do some thinking and more reading.  Perhaps some experimenting. (Your opinions are always welcome so don't be afraid to tell me what you think.  I don't get angry or upset with folks easily.  ok? I'll still respect you in the morning.)

Exercises for 1/17-1/23/11

Monday: 40 minutes Zumba (hurt my back shaking my money maker);  30 minutes strength training lower body using Oxygen mag's January routine

Tuesday: Biked with kids for 13.17 miles;  strength train upper body using Oxyg. mag's January routine + 2 sets of 10 pushups and 2 sets of 10 close grip pushups

Wednesday: Run 2.5 miles using 1:1 intervals (not a very good run);  40 minutes Zumba

Thursday:  REST

Friday:  strength train lower body using Oxygen mag's January issue

Saturday:  Bike ride with the family 10 miles

Sunday: ran 6 miles using 30 sec run:45 sec walk intervals and felt terrific! (longest run for me so far);  strength train upper body using Oxygen mag's January routine

I'll give a little recap of my run tomorrow.  I'll tell you now that I felt great afterwards.  It was one of those great runs that make it all worthwhile. YAY!

Daily calorie burn has been between 2400 calories and 2700 calories per day.  Not too shabby.  :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Friday Quickie

  • I've been so hungry!  You're probably getting tired of hearing me say it but it's true.  Yesterday I started the day with 2 scrambled eggs w/cheese and a bowl of oatmeal and coffee.  It held me off for a while.  I ate sensibly for lunch and even had snacks.  By dinnertime I was famished.  What's the dill, pickle?
  • I'm starting to love strength training as I see more muscle definition.  I wasn't sure that was ever a relationship that was going to develop.  Thanks to Oxygen magazine's routines.  They're easy to follow and I've really seen a difference this month.
  • Scale shows I've lost 1 of the 2 pounds I gained.  If I'm having calorie deficits and working out hard why am I not losing more weight? Guess I shouldn't worry about it because...(see below)
  • I am now wearing size 14s!!!  As of this morning.  Hot dog!  I'm a happy chick today.  Now I own 2 pairs of pants that fit. YAY!
  • Taking Chuck to get running shoes in Galveston today.  A stop at LaKing's Confectionery will be happening.
  • Took yesterday off from exercise because I was feeling a little under the weather.  Trying to learn to listen to the signals my body gives me.  Tough lesson it is.
  • Strength trained lower body today and felt great.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Running and Dancing

Wednesday I woke up sneezing.  The sneezing continued and my nose decided it wanted to run.  Seemed like a good idea so I got my shoes on and took off for a run.

Sneezing and running can be quite comical. :)  It turned out to be a not-so-stellar run.  My legs felt heavy and achy then my Garmin decided that it couldn't hold another piece of information midway in the run.  I stopped and deleted some old stuff then reset the intervals to 1:1 (1 minute running:1 minute walking) 

I only got in 2.5 slow miles.  I know everyone has bad runs.  It's just part of life.  So looking on the bright side: at least I got out there and burned some calories and I got in some miles. Yay!

For the past few days I have been starving. Not just cravings but all out hunger.  I could eat anything: fruit, chips, a salt block, meat, cheese, yogurt....just about anything.  Maybe it's my metabolism kicking in? Maybe I'm about to drop some pounds?  Maybe it's all the extra exercise?  I don't know but I do know that I'm having trouble not eating the paint off the walls.

I know protein is a big help with feeling full so I got a Fiber One vanilla yogurt and added a scoop of Jay Robb chocolate protein powder and stirred it until blended.
Added some fat free whipped cream and a cherry to make it look pretty. :)  The taste?  Super sweet.  A little too sweet, actually.  But it helped with the hunger for a while.

Then Zumba on the Wii.  I know last time I did this I hurt my back a little but I never learn I'm hard headed I wanted to burn up some more calories.  40 minutes of Zumba and no back issues.  Yay!  I burn about 100 calories per 10 minutes doing this.  That's some serious burn, folks.

Sat down with the family and watched Modern Family.  That has to be the most uncomfortable episode ever.  My kids were in there laughing from time to time which just added to the uncomfortable feeling. It was funny though. :)

The hunger issues continued into the night.  So did the sneezing.  So I had a cup of sleepytime tea and a little bit of Nyquil.  Funny thing but I'm never hungry while I'm sleeping.  Amazing. :)  That's one way to deal with it, right?

Nothing amazing planned for today.  I think I'm going to take it easy and just go for a walk and later some strength training for the lower body.  Hoping the Hunger Monster stays away today. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mud Buddies

Started yesterday off with some savory oats that Helen recommended: oats, egg beaters, cheese and hot sauce.  It didn't sound like a good combination.  Oats are supposed to be sweet, right?  I just kept telling myself grits, grits, grits.  And you know what?  They were very good!  I liked them.  But they are also very filling and I couldn't even eat them all.  Thanks for the tip, Helen!
 Tuesday was a no running day for me because my back was still upset with my Monday Zumba performance. These hips just weren't made for shaking like that I guess. Or I shook a little too much the wrong way. Who knows? I do know the end result was not good.

I got the itch for a bike ride so the kids and I loaded up the bikes and headed to Brazos Bend State Park southwest of Houston.
We started off on gravel trails that were nice. Saw a couple of alligators, some ducks, and ibis. Made it back to the main road that was lined with beautiful oak trees.

 Rode over a bridge with a flowing creek below.

 We stopped for a break at some water fountains and there was a large mud puddle.  Usually I'm telling them to avoid water and mud at all costs but I kind of felt like a kid again so I told them to go for it. :)

We all had nice mud splatters up our backs afterwards and our shoes were soaked but it was worth it.

 We rode some back trails that turned super muddy.  It really gives the legs a workout!  I could feel the burn. 
My bike tire caked in mud
 Wish I had this kid's energy.  He was always ahead of us.  Go, Charlie, go!
 Rachel was not a happy camper on the muddy trails.  It was a lot of work but still a lot of fun.
 We saw a sign for a trail that said it was a shortcut to the main road so we took it and ended up going in a big circle. Doh!

 I brought along some Cliff Shot Blocks and some Chocolate Outrage GU.  The kids split the Shot Blocks and I had half a tube of GU.  Oh my!  This is like chocolate frosting in a tube!  LOVE.IT.  I gave Rachel the other half to try and she squeezed every last bit of it out of the tube.  A new favorite for sure. 

In all we biked a little over 13 miles and had a blast.
Dinner was one of the best I've made in a while:Baked Penne and Sausage Supper from America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.  Everything in this book turns out great but this has to be a new favorite.  Chuck said the only thing bad about it was that there was not more of it.
 The flavor reminded me of a very good sausage pizza.  I will be making this again in the near future.
Baked Penne and Sausage Supper
Makes 4 servings

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced thin (I chopped mine into tiny pieces so I wouldn't see them once it was cooked)
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into matchsticks
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
8 oz. hot or sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
salt & pepper
8 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz)

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 425 degrees.  Lightly coat an 8" square pan with cooking spray. Pulse the tomatoes with their juice in a food processor or blender until mostly smooth, about 5 pulses.

2. Heat the oil in a 12" nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Stir in the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the processed tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer and cook, until slightly thickened, 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the pasta and 1 Tbs salt and cook, stirring often, until almost al dente but still firm to the bite.  Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return to the pot.

5. Add the meat sauce and reserved cooking water to the pasta and toss to combine.  Spread half of the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella.  Repeat with the remaining pasta and 1/2 cup mozzarella.

6. Bake until the pasta is bubbling and the cheese is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
4 servings. Per serving: 380 calories; 13g fat; 45g carbs; 8g fiber; 22g protein

After dinner we watched Biggest Loser.  I decided to do my upper body strength training while watching the show.  I'm doing the routine from Oxygen magazine's January 2011 issue but it's starting to become a little easy.  I can make it more difficult by using different bands and adjusting the tension but the exercises don't leave me sore anymore.  It may be time to go ahead and start the February issue's exercises.  It's a 3 month plan.

Regular pushups are becoming slightly easier but the tricep pushups nearly kill me each time. Still working on it though. :)

Good news is that Chuck said he can really tell I'm losing the inches.  Yay!  I'm avoiding the scale this week.  It's hidden under my bed.  Not going to stress about the numbers if I'm losing inches and feeling good.

Have yourself a great day and put that penne sausage dish on your menu.  It really is very good.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What If I Can't Lose the Weight

I think I did very well with my eats yesterday.  I made sure to eat a couple of snacks to keep my blood sugar steady.  I chose good things like low carb yogurt and oranges.  I ate healthy Thai Chili for lunch (so good it's awesome) and Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner.  I stayed hydrated.  A good day in the books.

Exercise included strength training for the lower body using a routine from January issue of Oxygen magazine.  I also did 40 minutes of Zumba.

I had planned on a run that evening with hubby but when I got dressed and laced up my shoes I jogged through the living room and my back got a sharp pain that ran from my lower back across my left hip.  Then I would get the sharp pain just walking.  So no running last night.  I think I pinched a nerve doing Zumba.  Perhaps my hips weren't made to shake like that? :)

Since I couldn't go running I decided to take a shower and call it a day.  When I was drying off I noticed my belly pooch again and thought, "What if it never goes away?  What if I'm never able to get to my goal weight?  Would I still keep working this hard if I knew I'd never be able to lose the weight?"

Tough question if you really stop and consider it. If I knew that I'd always have my belly pooch and this was as good as it's going to get would I a) eat whatever I wanted or b) continue to eat better?  Would I a)continue to work out or b)become a couch potato again?

After some thought I decided that I like the way I feel now.  I like that I have more energy and stamina.  I love that I can run a little easier now (it's still difficult but not as bad as before).  I like feeling my muscles after I use weights.  I love feeling my heart race when I ride my bike.  I most love the attitude that is developing. It's an "I can do anything" attitude and it's been missing for far too long.  I'm tackling things that have held me back in the past like my fear of heights (my legs literally seize up when I get high and I can't move and it's painful).  Now I'm climbing the stairs of observation towers and the nets of playgrounds.

So even if I knew that I'd never lose another pound or my belly pooch, I believe that I'd still keep doing what I'm doing: watching what I eat and exercising and trying new things.  I feel too good not to.

Knowing that about myself helps to take the focus off the scale and the maddening obsession with numbers.  I still believe the numbers are important but it's not why I do what I do.  I do this because I feel so much happier and better about myself.

What about you? Would you eat right and work hard if you knew you'd never lose another pound? For me, realizing that I would do this no matter what shifted my focus and made me feel more at peace.  It helps me to enjoy the journey more and realize that the journey doesn't end at a goal weight. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lori-Finding Radiance

News Flash: Lori of Finding Radiance was featured on Yahoo! News today!!!

Yay, Lori!  I'm always inspired by her workouts.  She is an amazing person and has done fantastic with her weight loss. 

Congratulations, Lori and all of the other featured bloggers who I need to get to know. :)

Chocolate Meat Chunks: FAIL

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Add a scoop of chocolate protein powder to my oatmeal before cooking it.  What happened was a total failure.

The protein congealed into chunks that had the texture of meat but the flavor of chocolate.  It was like eating chocolate meat chunks in my oatmeal.  I tried choking it back with water.  But choking is what I did.  I was coughing and trying to keep it down while trying not to think of chocolate meat.

I just wanted a little protein with my oatmeal, dang it.  Is there a better way to do this?  Maybe add the protein powder after the oatmeal cooks?  Maybe forget adding the powder completely and just drink it as a shake?

I think it could work as a diet plan because I had no desire to eat any food whatsoever.  Watch out, Weight Watchers. I'm going to put your ass out of business with my choco-meat chunk diet.

Yesterday I was a bit ticked off about my weigh in despite the fact that I knew I did everything right and that the slight weight gain was due to my mad weight lifting skillz.  Still, I chose to eat some not-so-good things.  Mistake.  It only made me feel disappointed so I'm back at being the saintly calorie counter today.

Last night I made up a couple of meals so I wouldn't have to cook for a couple of nights this week.  I want to start eating cleaner and cutting out some of the foods that have bar codes or are produced in a chemical plant.  I know it's the right way to eat but it's not always the most convenient.

Clean Eating magazine (January 2011 issue) had a recipe for Thai Chili that looked good so I whipped up a batch of that.  It tastes even better than I expected and it smelled divine. 2 1/2 cups for 341 calories; 17g protein; 68 carbs; 17g fiber; 5g fat
Sorry for the pic quality. It's a cell phone.
 The recipe is meatless and includes red curry paste, sweet potato, bell pepper, coconut milk and bulgur.  Very tasty.

I also made up a batch of Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup from America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook. This is a fantastic cookbook.  Chicken noodle soup is usually kind of bland to me but the flavor in this soup was incredibly good.  Seriously. I wish I could share a bowl with you.  1 1/2 cups for 140 calories; 5g fat; 11g carbs; 2g fiber; 13g protein.
Chicken, carrots, celery, onion powder (cuz I don't like onion chunks), and swiss chard.
I'll go ahead and share that soup recipe with you because it's so tasty, easy and low calorie that I think you should make it. I'm so pushy like that. :)

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

2 tbs. oil (I used a little less)
8 oz. Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated, stems chopped fine and leave cut into 1" pieces
1 onion, halved and sliced thin (I used onion powder)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 celery rib, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 tsp minced thyme or 1/4 tsp dried
1 bay leaf
2 Tbs. flour
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2), trimmed
1 cup wide egg noodles
salt & pepper

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add chard stems, onions, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook until golden, about 1 minute.

2. Slowly whisk in the broth until smooth and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the chicken, and cook until the chicken register 160-165 on an instant read thermometer, 10-15 minutes.  Remove chicken from the broth; when cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. (I just chopped the raw chicken into pieces and cooked it in the broth so I wouldn't have to shred it later. Worked fine)

3. Discard bay leaf.  Add the egg noodles and continue to simmer until the vegetables and noodles are tender, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the shredded chicken and chard leaves and cook until the chard leaves are tender, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
1.5 cups: 140 calories; 5g fat; 11g carbs; 2g fiber; 13g protein; loads of flavor

If you are interested in eating cleaner, Clean Eating magazine has wonderful recipes that include the nutritional value.  One thing that I love about their recipes is that the portion sizes are large.  Sometimes low-cal recipes have such ridiculously small portions that they leave you hungry.  Not these.

The best price I've found for a subscription is at Best Deals Magazines for $12.95.  That's where I got my subscription anyway.

Have a wonderful day.  Mine will be spent exercising. :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Weigh In and Exercise Roundup

Weigh in: 189  I'm up two pounds. 

 It's a little frustrating because I work hard at this.  But I have had some sore muscles so I'm thinking that might be the reason for the gain.

The scale did show that I gained lean mass and lost fat so that is a plus.  Yay for strength training.  PLUS my muscles are looking nice and my size 16s are getting loose.

My calorie deficit shows that I should have lost 2 pounds.  Hopefully those two pounds will pack up and leave by next weigh in.  I've given them an official eviction notice.

Exercises for the week:

Sunday:5.25 mile run

Monday: run 3.4 miles on treadmill; strength train upper body + pushups

Tuesday: REST (saw Hood to Coast movie)

Wednesday: Run 4 miles on treadmill

Thursday: 1 hour Zumba; strength train lower body + pushups

Friday: Run 3.08 miles

Saturday: 6.5 mile bike ride; strength train upper body + pushups

Onward and downward.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Quickie

Just a quick post before I head out the door for the day.

  • 1 hour of Zumba yesterday on the Wii.  I wasn't thrilled the first time I tried this but this time I just relaxed and had fun with it.  Had a great time, worked up a lovely sweat and burned over 500 calories in an hour.  Lots of fun.
  • 45 minutes strength training lower body + 2 sets of 10 pushups and tricep pushups.  Tricep pushups are killer.  Make a triangle with your two hands using thumbs and pointer fingers then do pushup. Works the triceps.
  • Part of "doing something I don't think I can do": Warrior Dash!  3.18 miles of obstacles including high winds, fire, mud, water, hills, cargo net climb, tire hurdles.  But beer, medals, and Viking helmets are at the finish.  Races in large cities across the nation. Chuck and I are doing the one in Conroe, TX.  Wanna join me?
  • Using my roller to rub the soreness out of my legs.  Every time I do I get that song stuck in my head: "They see me rollin; they hatin'; patrollin'; they tryin' to catch me riding dirty" 
  • PeiWei Dan Dan noodles are addictively good.  1/2 order is 390 calories per their web site. 
  • Another "doing something I didn't think I could do": Chuck and I are signing up to be part of the Galloway Running Team in Houston.  We'll be joining the half marathon team because we're only half crazy.  February 26th
  • My fortune cookie: "Your example will inspire others"  Aw, that's sweet.  No pressure. :) Does this mean I've inspired you to do Warrior Dash with me?? :D
Have a great weekend! TGIF!

And just for fun: (I'm going to wear one of these at the Warrior Dash)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shrinking and "Stylish"

Wednesday I got to play taxi to Rachel.  She had a biology class so Charlie and I went out to Subway for a mother/son outing.  We were both starving but I could only eat 75% of my 6" sandwich before I was full.  Maybe my stomach is shrinking?  I wonder if I could still put the hurt on a thin crust pizza though. :D  Let's not find out.

My muscles were sore from my shoulders all the way down to my feet.  My neck and eyelids seemed to be ok but everything else hurt.  I got on the scale to see what it would say (knowing that sore muscles definitely cause weight gains) and when it started showing 3 pounds gain I jumped off.  Sore muscles love to hold on to that water.  Forget the scale, my legs are looking pretty darn good.

I needed my calorie burn to be higher so I went to the Y (eating a banana along the way) and thought I would just walk for a while until I burned some calories.  Well, walking just wasn't burning them fast enough so I did 1:1 intervals of run/walk.  Wow, I was slow.  One time I did crank it to the 6mph mark but that was the only time.  Finally hit 4 miles and was happy with my calorie burn.

Don't know about you but I have issues with the treadmill.  First, I can not walk on that thing without holding on to the sides.  I lose my balance every single time and about fall off.  But I can run on it without holding on.  I weave a little from time to time and always stay very close to the front because I'm afraid I'll go flying off the back and land on my face.  When I'm finished with the treadmill, I have trouble walking on solid ground again.  I hold on for dear life as I step off then slowly walk to the cleaner spray then slowly walk back to wipe off my sweat.  Then I waddle out of the gym trying to get my land legs again.  It's a show for sure.  Am I the only one who has trouble walking after being on the dreadmill?

Dinner: cheeseburgers and french fries!  Don't judge me.  I use 4% fat ground beef, 80 calorie buns, lowfat cheese, and baked fries.  It's all good.

Stayed within my calorie budget and had over 1250 calorie deficit.  Woohoo!  I'm on track for losing 2 pounds this week but with the sore muscles I'm not expecting much.  It's ok though.  I'd rather have smoking hot muscles than a number on the scale.

Found another shirt that I must have.  Don't you love it? You can get it here.
 "Stylish" is not a word that I think is a good adjective for me.  My favorite clothes are witty tee shirts (see above), race shirts, and hiking gear.  REI is my Nordstrom or Dillards.  When I think fashion I think Academy.  Recently I have ventured to Dressbarn (worst name for a store ever) for something to wear out.  Seriously, I do not own one dress.  At least not one that fits. :)

Despite all of that, some lovely bloggers decided to give me a Stylish Blogger award and I accept it with pride.  A BIG thanks goes out to

Thanks, guys!
The fine print:
1. Post and link back to the person who awarded you this award.

2. Share 7 things about yourself

3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers (or as many as you can)

4. Contact these bloggers and tell them they’ve won!

Seven things about me:
  • I was bit by a copperhead when I was 9 and almost had to have my arm amputated. Still have the scar and the finger goes numb in the winter.
  • I am not afraid of snakes despite above.
  • I have a big fear of heights yet plan to do ziplines this spring.
  • I've been married to my best friend and biggest supporter for 20 years.  Got married when I was 19.  (No need to do the math, I'm 21)
  • I LOVE science.  I'm a geek at heart.  I want to be a mad scientist when I grow up.
  • I'm a nature girl.  Love to be in the outdoors hiking, paddling, camping...anything.
  • I'm looking in to doing something that I don't think I can do just to prove to myself that I can do it.  Make sense? :)
  • I have two kids that I homeschool ages 10 and 15.  They're growing up way too fast.

I'd like to pass the blogger award love on to these people:

That's 15, right?  OK, I may not have counted.  You all get a gold star in my book.

Today's exercise: anything I can endure.  Seriously, no plan except some lower body strength.  Need to plan ahead a little more. :)  Oh, and some pushups for Suzi's challenge. 

Have a wonderful day and be kind to someone today.  Make it a goal to make someone smile.  It'll make you both feel good.