Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

It's no secret, I love Christmas. I love the spirit of the season, I love the decorations, I love the tree, the shopping, the baking, the celebrating, the love shared among family and friends, and I especially love the traditions.

My very favorite Christmas memories are those magical years back on Cohocton Place when everything was just right. When thinking back to what made Christmas, well, Christmas I think about the traditions that we had as a family. Other than receiving the JC Penney Wish Book in the mailbox and dog-earing every single page so that I might start crafting my letter to Santa and my wish list for my mom and dad, I don't remember much before Christmas Eve. As a family, we spent the day cooking, cleaning, and preparing for a house full of family and friends (in between we'd squeeze in a trip to the store with dad to finish up his last minute shopping...). Evening would come and our house would be buzzing with people. My mom hosted an open house every Christmas Eve and it was this that really made the holiday for me. I got to see most of my cousins, neighbors, and lots of family friends. We exchanged gifts, ate far too many cookies, and got to spend time with each other sometimes for the only time that year. Sometime during that night, Santa would swing by and hang for a little bit on his way around the world.

The party would wrap up, we'd clean up, and I'd shuffle off to bed so that Santa could return and leave our presents under the tree. As a child I was pretty frightened of the idea of a strange man entering my home, no matter how generous he might be. Because of that fear, I always slept on the floor of my brother's room on Christmas Eve....even up until 5 or so years ago. We'd wake up at some ridiculous 4am....and we were allowed to go and get our stockings from the fireplace and open them together. Of course, this was my parents' brilliant plan to keep me from jumping on their bed before dawn. It was pretty awesome.

Christmas morning we were up bright and early, presents open, hung around a bit, and then jumped in the car to head to the Tonks Family Christmas dinner. It was like Christmas Eve all over again! More food, more family, more presents, and more fun. I remember getting back in the car after our time at my aunt and uncle's house and just being so depressed that it was all over.

I can't remember exactly when everything changed but sometime in the last 5 or so years our Christmas routine stopped being routine. Cousins moved, aunts and uncles relocated, marriages, babies, and so on all started re-crafting what Christmas meant. I'm not going to lie, it took me a couple of years to be okay with it and I'm still not completely there but this year I'm able to reminisce and be nostalgic for years past while appreciating the present and all of the great things to come.

This Christmas is the first in my life that I did not travel home for the holidays and I've been surprisingly okay with it. Maybe it's because being away from home makes the absence of those old traditions less difficult and maybe it's because I'm so excited to be celebrating Christmas with my husband for the first time. Don't get me wrong, I wish my brother and his family were here and I miss the family and friends I won't get to see this holiday season but I know it'll only be a short time until I will get to hug them and wish them well in the new year. Tonight, Christmas Eve, my husband and I hung out with my parents and watched football, baked cookies, and had a great dinner of make-your-own pizza, salad, and a Rocky marathon. We'll get up tomorrow, have a delicious breakfast (recipe here..), open some presents, go pick up Parker, and get ready for a houseful of Phil's family. It's the first time in several years that I'm excited for some new traditions and that this has truly felt like Christmas. For that I am thankful.

Here's to a very merry Christmas to you and your family and to all of the traditions, both new and old, that make your holidays special!

True Confessions

Over the last couple of weeks I've had an epiphany of sorts. When you really boil it down, blogging is a lot like working out. It requires routine, discipline, practice, goals, and so on. The longer you go between visits to the gym, the harder it is to get back in the door. Other things creep in and take the place of that time that you set aside for your workout and it's almost embarrassing to face all of those people who you "abandoned" over the course of your hiatus. The same is true for the length of time in between posts. Blogging gets put on the back burner during the busy-ness of life and then it's almost embarrassing to return and admit to your followers that you really slacked off.

During the last couple of weeks I've been caught up in all of the fun celebration and excitement of the holiday season. My husband and I are celebrating our first Christmas as Mr. and Mrs. and it's the first time in my life that I've not traveled home for the holidays. We are hosting my parents and many of my husband's family members at our place for Christmas dinner. There have been holiday parties, engagement celebrations, hockey games, Pinterest projects, shopping, and so on and all of that has swooped in and taken the place of my typical gym and writing routine.

So to confess, I've slipped off the wagon and I'm getting back on by first getting back into my writing routine and then getting back into the swing of things at the gym and with my diet (after Christmas, of course!). I hope that you'll continue to follow along!

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A matter of convenience

It's all work and no play, right? Well how the heck does that leave any time for planning and packing healthy meals and snacks? The fast food industry didn't get rich just because. It's just so hard to plan ahead accurately and it feels like there's barely enough time in each day to get all of the "must-do" list done, let alone plan and prepare food for the next day.

One of my favorite Sunday activities is planning meals and grocery shopping for the rest of the week - I know, call me crazy. However, no matter how carefully I plan it's the execution that I always screw up. I'm too tired one night to pack lunch for the next day and I run out of the house, lunch money in hand. I forget that I've got a late event at work that doesn't allow me to get home until after 8pm. I mean, who wants to start cooking and then clean up the kitchen after 8pm? A last-minute invitation to do something out with friends derails our at-home dinner plans. The deck is not stacked in our favor.

So what do we do? I'm certainly no expert but I've got a few strategies that I've employed in the last couple of weeks and they seem to be working for now. Take a look and see what you can try and add things that work for your and your family as well!

1. Only plan dinners for 3 nights. I know that sounds ridiculous. That doesn't mean that we only eat at home 3 out of 7 nights each week.We typically eat out twice a week. Planning for 3 nights allows for at least one night of leftovers and another night to raid the pantry and/or fridge and create an "unplanned" dinner of stuff that needs to be used up. This has drastically reduced the amount of food waste we create (i.e. food that has gone bad because planned meals have gone uncooked and uneaten) and has freed up space in our refrigerator.

2. Pull out the crockpot on Sunday. My husband makes fun of my slow-cooker obsession but I just can't get over how easy it is to make a huge meal in the crockpot with barely much thought or work. It means that we always have a tasty hot meal at home on Sunday night and then the leftoevers can be a part of the week's meal plan or can be packed for lunches. Bonus: you can freeze meals for much-later convenience.

3. "Baked" potatoes/sweet potatoes. I distinctly remember a conversation with my husband after a couple of weeks of me creating new and exciting meals from a number of different recipes, cookbooks, food network shows, etc. It was simple. He made the statement, "you know, we could just eat a piece of chicken and a potato every once and awhile." At first, I was offended. Then I realized how right he was. Why was I trying to be inventive every night? It was stressful and time consuming...and oftentimes expensive. Now, at least half of our meals contain a protein, salad, and a potato. It's usually a sweet potato for the added nutritional bonus (which you can...and more about in the Reader's Digest article here.). It's so stinking easy. I take a sweet potato, wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap, and stick it in the microwave for about 7 minutes. BAM, done. In the meantime, I am fixing whatever else our dinner encompasses and dinner's done in 10 minutes.
Side note: Same prep idea can be used with really any vegetable. I have a very picky spouse who is basically allergic to anything green. I prefer not to make multiple options with dinner so I go with a compromise and that's usually a sweet potato and salad.

4. Bake multiple pieces of chicken, pork, beef, etc. Our favorite is taking a pack of chicken, putting all of the meat in a baking dish, covering with a jar of salsa, and baking in the oven on 350 for up to an hour depending on your oven. We eat two meals (one can be lunch) off of one pack of chicken and it's delicious. You can use the same strategy with pork, beef, fish, tofu...whatever floats your boat.

5. Rice. When in doubt, put it over some brown rice. That's what I do with many of our leftovers. Chicken and broccoli with a potato on Monday night? How about chicken and broccoli with soy sauce (or any other ideas for "saucing" it up) over brown rice on Wednesday night?

How do you plan ahead without going crazy? I'd love to hear your solutions and ideas!

Until next time..

Saturday, December 3, 2011

One of those weeks

Have you ever had just one of those weeks? You know the kind. When you're grumpy about everything and you really don't feel great about anything. Yeah, well this week was one of those and because of that, I really neglected you all.

Nothing felt like it was working or going right this week. Work was frustrating for no good reason, I felt like no matter how much I worked out or paid attention to what I was eating my clothes still felt tight and icky, my husband and I were too busy to hang out with each other, the house was (and still is) a wreck, there's no food in the house and we ate every meal out, I haven't done any writing since Monday and on and on.

I guess the most important things on days/weeks like this is to not mope around, eat crappy food, and lounge on the couch. A good morning at the gym (like today!) gets those feel-good endorphins going and taking a few hours to straighten up and get things right will make everything fall into place. Because when you really look at it, I'm a lucky lady and I don't have much to feel grumpy about. It's time to pick it up, look around, and smile about all of my blessings.

So it's getting back on track and staying motivated to live well that's got my focus now. Next time you have one of those days remember, it's okay. Just don't let it linger long enough to derail all of the good work you're doing!

Until next time...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Music Monday #2 - Christmas Edition

FINALLY! It's after Thanksgiving and we can stop dodging Christmas music and embrace it as it deserves to be embraced!

I must venture from workout music today to share my absolute favorite version of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' sung by the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLaughlin.


Thanksgiving in Boston

After a few days offline and out of town, I'm back and ready to take these next few weeks by the horns and go into Christmas a little lighter and a lot fitter! Over the long Thanksgiving weekend my husband and I took to the friendly skies and headed northbound to Boston and its surrounding areas. We enjoyed time with family, sightseeing around a few of the the beautiful and quaint towns and beaches, and a day in Boston to take in the city. The weather was great, the food was awesome, and the company was the best.
A few of our nature shots around Rockport and Manchester, Mass.

Rockport, MCA

Thanksgiving morning

Manchester, MA

On Thanksgiving morning we hung around the house for a bit before taking a little hike out to some rocky coastline in Manchester.

Phil, Molly, Brody, Ike

Me and Mom

Me and Phil

Girl on rock

As you can see, our post-hike Thanksgiving feast was amazing (thanks to my sister-in-law and mom!) and not at all in the arena of weight-loss food. I paid for it at the gym this morning..

On Friday we took the train from Beverly (where my brother and his family live) into Boston to see the sights and more accurately, enjoy the beer. We started by Fenway and had lunch and a beer at The Tasty Burger. I think it was the Doritos on the burger that sold Phil.


Tasty Burger



We made our way up through Back Bay, had a cocktail at Top of the Hub (amazing view...but of course we didn't get a picture), and walked up to the Common. In the Common we saw the absolute fattest squirrels I've ever seen. They were getting ready for some serious hibernation. Seriously. I think they may have been larger than some dogs. We took a stroll over to the original Cheers (used to be the Bull and Finch) to have another beer there. My claim to fame? I sat in Frasier's seat. Yep, I'm famous now.

Fat Squirrel



The Common

So a quick taste of our fun Thanksgiving trip! Thank you to my brother and his beautiful family for entertaining us, cooking for us, hanging out with us, and having an all-around great time. We had an amazing time and we can't wait to come back.

Did I break the rules? Yes, almost every single one of them. Do I regret it? Not one bit. I had a great time, enjoyed the food, the drinks, and had lots of stress-free fun. I will not dwell on any set-back I may created from this. I've put away the turkey and the pie, corked the bottle of wine, and put my gym shoes back on. It's time to jump back on the journey toward my goals!

Don't forget, it's MUSIC MONDAY!!! Check back later on tonight for my weekly music choices!

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm Thankful

It's the season of Thanksgiving which, believe it or not, is about a whole lot more than deep fried turkey (however delicious it might be), stuffing, and pie. It's a time to reflect on all that we are thankful for and maybe even share that with others. I have a tendency to go through my days in a seemingly robotic way. I come and go the same way every day and I have fleeting thoughts about all of the awesome things that I am so thankful for. I've been reflecting on and excited for this post for the last week or so and I'm finally getting to write down my reflections of thankfulness!

1. My husband. He is my support, my relief from the reality of everyday life, my best friend, and my biggest fan. He loves me unconditionally and for that, I am thankful.

2. The humor in my family. All of my grandparents were/are jokesters, my parents are jokesters, my brother and I are jokesters, we married jokesters, and my niece and nephew are the newest jokesters in the family tree. Every family has its challenges but I’m thankful that through everything, we’ve always been able to laugh together.

3. My sense of independence. Without my self-reliant attitude I never would have taken the leap to move to Raleigh all by my lonesome. That move in and of itself completely changed my life. I have gained incredible experience in an amazing organization, met some of my best friends, and married my husband.

4. My struggles with weight. This sounds ridiculous, I know. Am I thankful that I am overweight? No. But I am thankful for what my journey has taught me. Resilience, persistence, self-reflection, tenacity, and most importantly compassion and empathy for every single person out there struggling with the same thing.

5. My Friends. They are crazy, fun, sassy, hilarious, supportive, loving, and life-long. I love them. So. Much.

6. All of my work experiences. I've had some cool jobs. Period. Radio stations, broadcast centers, recreation centers, Universities, YMCA. I'm a lucky girl.

7. The Hokies. All of those Hokies out there understand. I am thankful that I have something in my life that instills such an intense sense of pride.

8. Where and how I grew up. I was surrounded by cousins, lived at the Shore, lived in a safe small town, and was able to be independent. The longer I’m away from home and the more life experience I gain, the more I realize how lucky I really am to have grown up where I did.

9. My dogs. They make me laugh every day.

10. My parents. They set me up to be successful and I took that opportunity and ran with it. I love them.

Take some time to remember what you're thankful for. Then dig in....there's a lot of eating to do :).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Surviving the office potluck

The sign-up sheet went up last week and everyone rushed to make sure they got signed up to bring their favorite holiday "specialty" to this year's office potluck. We've got the traditional turkey, ham, and mashed potatoes plus macaroni and cheese, stuffing, broccoli salad, probably 5 different kinds of pie and any other dessert you can imagine. There's plenty of food there to feed a small army and it will challenge even the strongest will.

My strategy - plenty of protein, plain veggies, no rolls, and no dessert. Let's see how this goes. I'll have an extra long/intense early workout tomorrow morning....just in case.

How will you survive the office potluck this year?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Music Monday #1

If you're anything like me, you don't go a moment throughout your day without music. Music is playing during the morning routine, in the car on the way to work, in the office, during the workout, on the ride home, prepping dinner, bedtime, and so on. Basically the only time music isn't playing is if I'm in a meeting or watching TV. I don't think I could live without Pandora, Spotify, my ipod, old mixed cds, and the list goes on. It really does make everything better.

The thing I look forward to most about my solo workouts is putting in my earbuds and zoning out to some of my favorite songs. A new playlist makes me giddy with excitement for the next opportunity to workout. The good news is, music isn't just another distraction. According to an article written by Barbara Russi Sarnataro, it's proven to make you work harder and keep you committed to your weekly exercise routine. For more information on the benefits of music during exercise, you can find Sarnataro's article here.

To honor the love of music and the benefits that it has for our workouts, Lady in Motion designates every Monday as Music Monday! It's a time to share what's on your playlist for the week and a place to hopefully, discover some new workout tunes!

The following are some of my go-to songs on this week's playlist:
(DISCLAIMER: I have a tendency to listen to some "offensive" surprise to those who know me well)
  • Eminem - Mosh
  • Everclear - Santa Monica
  • Kid Rock - American Bad ass
  • Fort Minor - Remember the Name
  • Eminem - Never Enough
  • Eminem - Rain Man
  • Eminem - Won't Back Down
    (Obviously I enjoy Eminem...)
  • Nickelback - Burn it to the Ground
  • Green Day - Holiday
  • Ludacris - Number One Spot
  • Ok Go - Here it goes again
  • Trick Daddy ft. Luda - Sugar
  • Weezer - Beverly Hills

Leave a comment and share your favorite songs this week!

Until next time...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Two minute mug brownie

I have a killer sweet tooth. When people describe things as "too sweet" or "too rich" I totally can't relate. When the sweet tooth attacks I'll look for anything and that often results in me baking. Inevitably, I eat way way too much of whatever it is that comes out of the oven.

I came across a recipe for a one minute mug brownie and did a little dance in my head. This is PERFECT for those times when you just really need something chocolate but you don't want a bunch of it laying around for future snacking.

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt

In a microwave-safe mug, mix above ingredients together to eliminate lumps. Add the following ingredients to mixture:

2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp water/coffee/milk...whichever you prefer

Mix together until you have a thick paste. Place in microwave for 60-90 seconds until you have a spongy top and gooey center.

VOILA! A mini-brownie in just a few minutes and no leftovers to torture you later!

Until next time...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Inspiration Station

In my most recent Pinterest travels I have come across a number of really inspiring photos, sayings, thoughts, ideas, etc. Tonight is the kind of night where I'm fighting the urge to go in the kitchen and snack on whatever I can find. I will not succumb to that temptation and instead I am charging up for my weekend workouts with some strong and inspiring words.

What's keeping you going?
Until next time...

The yoga battle continues

Over the years I've always stood on the outskirts of the yoga scene and I've talked about getting involved. It just looks so fabulous. Who wouldn't want to wear those cute yoga clothes and buy your very own yoga mat with a sassy tote bag and be able to bend yourself in all of those crazy positions? Not to mention any of the really intense yogis I know are seriously strong and toned. So I've tried. My first real yoga experience was a private group (oxymoron?) class for The Resveratrol Runner's wedding. We filled the room with the bridal party plus a few others and the instructor was fabulous. I learned a lot and left the room vowing to take yoga on a regular basis. One year later I took class number two. Hot yoga. It was 90 minutes in a room over 100 degrees. I left there as one giant prune. No thank you, never again. I took one or two "normal" classes after that but have yet to make it a regular part of my program. I struggle with allowing my mind to quiet down and just be in that "zen" moment. I focus on everyone else's breathing other than my own and I can't stop thinking about how I can't bend that far.

I hung up my yoga mat, so to speak and stopped trying to fit myself into that activity but I keep being overwhelmed by the knowledge of all of the benefits of yoga. If what the experts say is correct, yoga is like a magic bullet. Some of the benefits of regular yoga proactice include:
  • Stress reduction - isn't this something we all want?
  • Increased fitness - improved balance, better flexibility, increased range of motion, more strength, and a decreased chance of injury
  • Management of chronic health conditions - cancer, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, insomnia, lyme disease. All of these things can be positively impacted through regular yoga practice
  • Weight loss - yes please.
So today I tried again. A friend and I met at yoga class at 6:30 this morning and I'll have to say, it wasn't bad. I was able to clear my head, focus on me, and enjoy the time to just be. It wasn't a very hard class and so I have to fight the feeling that I didn't actually workout today. I will keep telling mysefl that this is what my body needs and that the long term benefits are worth giving up an hour of cycle for an hour of yoga. I will try to keep this on the weekly schedule and see how it goes!

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

10 ways you're sabotaging your weight loss efforts

We've all heard it, some of us out of our own mouths. "I'm doing everything right and the weight still won't come off." I'm guilty of that very thing. I work for weeks, or months (or years...) and nothing changes and I'm scratching my head because something must be wrong. I'm at the gym more days than I'm not, I eat healthy meals, I've passed on dessert, what gives?
It's time to take a long hard look at all of the little things that, when added up, aren't so little after all. Please take note that these are all things that I have been, and still am, guilty of. It's a process, friends and we're all working on it!

1. Not drinking enough water. Water is like a magical little diet helper. It keeps you from getting bloated and puffy, it flushes impurities (and fat) from your system, it keeps hunger at bay, and it helps your metabolism work more effectively. Hate water? Add lemon, lime, orange, a splash of juice...whatever you need to do. I struggle with water consumption but I have vowed to drink more water than non-water beverages everyday. It's a start, right?

2. Snacking while you're cooking. You're in the kitchen, your inner chef is leaping with joy as you create an incredible meal, and of course you have to taste your creations to make sure they're just right. That taste leads to a spoon/fork/mouth full. And another. And maybe another. That's not a taste my friend, that most likely could have added up to a portion of your dinner.

3. Portion Sizes. How much is too much? Just like all of those tastes can add up to a portion (or all) of your meal, do you know how many calories your actually eating. I'm not saying you need to count your calories. That works for some and not for others. I am saying that you might be eating more than you realize or even intend. That grilled chicken breast should only be the size of just the palm of your hand. Those veggies should only be the size of a baseball. Our plate sizes could be cut in half and that would be more accurate. Cut your portion sizes and don't go back for seconds. See what happens.

4. Grazing all night. Dinner's over, the dishes are cleaned up, the kitchen is clean, and you're ready to plop down and catch up on the latest episode of Modern Family. First commercial and you hop up to grab something to drink....and maybe a piece of fruit...or a handful of pretzels...or some pudding....or....STOP! Close the kitchen! For one, your metabolism slows down later in the day so you shouldn't be eating late into the evening anyway. For another, all of those little handfuls here and there add up. Grab your water bottle, turn the kitchen light off and forget about it.

5. Drinking (alcohol) too frequently. Remember the rules? No drinking at home. Drinking is only permitted out somewhere with friends. Saying no alcohol is too restricting. The holidays are upon us, it's football season, and I love beer. I do not, however, need to have a beer, a glass of wine, etc. every day. That can be anywhere from 100-300 or more extra every day. It's not like these extra calories will fill you up either. That's why they're called "empty calories."

6. Just a taste/just one/and so on. My husband knows about this one all too well. I'll order the salad instead of the fries and I'll "just have one" of his. Can anyone really just have one french fry? Same thing goes for that spoonful of ice cream, that split dessert, the jar of candy in the office, etc. If you choose not to have it, don't have it.

7. Complete deprivation. A friend of mine has lost over 60 pounds in the last year. She said to me, "I make healthy choices most of the time but I'm not going to completely deprive myself. If I want something bad enough, I will have it. But I won't make that decision every day, or even every week. This is a once or twice a month occurrence." If you deprive yourself of everything all of the time, you will eventually find yourself face down in a half gallon of ice cream. Exercise caution here but let yourself live a little every now and then.

8. Post-workout snack. You hit the gym, went for a long run, had a tough tennis match and now you're ready to re-fuel. You heard chocolate milk is good for that (which it about it here) so you grab that. And then a banana. And then a slice of cheese. And then maybe a handful of almonds. Congratulations, you just consumed 500 calories. You only burned 400. Oops. Post-workout snacks are important for recovery but you only need one and keep it conservative.

9. Gatorade. You're heading to the gym for a run so you grab your Gatorade, right? Wrong. The majority of  exercisers do not need an electrolyte beverage during their regular workout. Those drinks are packed with sugar and calories to fuel long efforts. Most people just need to hydrate with water during their workouts. General rule of thumb: if you're doing more than an hour of cardio, go ahead and grab your Gatorade. If your efforts lie within that 60 minute range, leave it on the shelf. Those drinks are made to replenish so you can keep going. If you're not going to keep going, you don't need it.

10. Taking the weekend off. You've been really good all week long. The weekend hits and you go for that extra drink, that big brunch, and those bad-for-you snacks during the game on Sunday. You've just undone everything that you did right Monday - Friday. Go ahead and celebrate the weekend but don't go too far.

It's all about calories in/calories out and we all do little things all week long that set us up for failure. Understanding what you're putting in your body and how it all adds up is so important. Personally, I don't do really well with keeping up with counting calories and journaling but doing it for a short period of time really opened my eyes and made me more aware.

I recommend everyone taking even a few days to track calories. Even if you don't keep up with it, it can put some bad habits in check. The best app/website I've found is My Fitness Pal. It's free, has a HUGE database of foods, adds calories to your "budget" if you log your exercise, and the app for your phone automatically syncs with your account on the website. Try and see how it goes!

Until next time..

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Lone Ranger

All of the experts agree, having someone in your life who can keep you accountable to your goals will help you to be successful in the long run. A friend, and "accountability buddy," a workout partner, a blog *cough cough*. The thing is, until recently, I've never really taken heed to that advice. I've always gone my own way and done things by myself and for myself. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the company of others and I love my friends but when it came to my health and fitness I was a complete hermit.

I never took much joy in getting together with a group, or even just one friend, to hit the pavement for an early morning long run. I was always just a touch jealous of those who did but that feeling never pushed me over the edget to partake in that camraderie. When I did/do run with others, I'm constantly feeling like I'm holding my running buddy back or that I'm just not quite fit/fast/quiet/talkative enough. It was the same in the pool, on the bike, lifting in the gym, and so on. I could put my earbuds in and workout my own way and not worry about anyone else. I reveled in that alone time. That time to think, push myself, listen to my music, and to be in my own head.

Despite all of that, over the years I've had a few great workout/training partners come and go and while we might not still exercise together, we're still great friends. At the time, we were just what we needed for each other and we filled just enough of a role in our each other's journey to keep one another moving in the right direction.

Now that I am where I am, I'm starting to realize that those brief stints of exercise camraderie were more powerful than I ever gave them credit for. I took for granted how much I really did rely on those relationships to keep things fresh and fun. While I'm surrounded by people all day long who would jump at the chance to workout together, I haven't found the right fit...until now.

Through reading my blog, a couple of my local friends reached out and invited me to partake in their journey with them. To be honest, I was apprehensive at first. I've been dealing with some Lyme flare-up issues, I'm out of shape and these girls both just ran a marathon, and I like to have control over my workouts. Regardless, I thought to myself, obviously what I've been doing the last couple of years isn't working so now's the time to break down that wall and go for it. Last week the three of us embarked on regular early morning workouts before work and I have to say, it was awesome. The accountability of having to meet each other at the gym got me out of bed when I definitely otherwise would have hit snooze a dozen times. Our commitment to each other got us out the door, had us laughing before 6am, and had us completing some quality workouts before most people open their eyes.

So here I am, excited for another week of meeting my friends at the gym to challenge each other, push ourselves, work towards each of our goals, and have some fun in the process. Thank you girls, for reminding me how much fun this can be!

Put your goals out there, challenge yourself, and have fun. That's what it's all about, right?

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Vegetable Versatility

It's no surprise that vegetables are an important tool in weight loss. They are low in calorie, high in fiber, vitamin rich, filling, and just plain good for you. I mean, Weight Watchers has assigned most vegetables as a zero-point food and experts tell you to load your plate up first with veggies before anything else.
I love going to the farmer's market on a Saturday morning and walking through the rows and rows and rows of fresh produce and letting my mind wander through all of the great ideas of ways to prepare all of those delicious vegetables. Summertime is such an easy time for vegetable consumption. It's hot out, we're all eating a little lighter, and a wide variety of veggies are plentiful. But what happens in the winter when all of the corn, tomatoes, zucchinis and so on have disappeared? I have rarely met a vegetable that I don't like or won't eat but that doesn't mean that I don't get bored of the same old stir-fry or salad. I have found it difficult to be as vegetable-friendly in the winter when it seems like the options are squash and peppers.
I was talking to a co-worker awhile back and she mentioned that there's a veggie out there that can be substituted for spaghetti. Wait, WHAT?!?! You mean I can substitue a VEGETABLE for spaghetti and still have the joy of cuddling up with a bowl of "pasta?" The answer was a resounding "YES!" Enter a new vegetable into my arsenal: spaghetti squash. With this vegetable you can create so many different things:

There are a couple of steps you have to take prior to incorporating your spaghetti squash into your favorite dish.
1. Cut your squash length-wise. Be really careful....they are very tough and difficult to cut open
2. Scoop out the seeds on the inside much like you would a pumpkin
3. The next step is to cook the squash and you can do this one of several ways. You can put it in a baking dish with about 1/4 inch of water, cover with foil, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. You can boil it in a large pot on top of the stove. In my opinion, the easiest and fastest way is to cut it up enough to fit into a microwavable dish, fill the dish with 1/4 inch of water, cover, and microwave for 12-15 minutes until it's really tender
4. Remove from water and let cool slightly
5. Gently pull apart the inside of the squash with a fork.

After those steps, you have the squash ready to prepare or continue cooking anyway you'd like.

You can find some GREAT spaghetti squash recipes here. Try some and let us know your favorites!!  I'd love to hear your healthy winter vegetable ideas!

Until next time...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Rules

One of the things that has happened since I've started this blog is that I've got people reaching out to me and sharing their own stories, struggles, triumphs, ideas, etc. This journey that we are all on is one that not many people talk about openly. We hear about each other's journeys through love, loss, travel, friendships, building families and so on but we rarely talk about our struggles and path through health and well-being.

I am working together with a couple of friends in support of each other and our goals. They have recently shared some rules that they try and stick with and I've adopted some of them and added some of my own. Last night, as I completely fell off the wagon (drinks out with friends followed by raiding the fridge once I got home...) I realized that I absolutely HAVE TO have rules to follow to keep myself on track. So, with the help of some others, here are the rules that I will be living by until further notice:

1. No eating after 8pm. Period. No exceptions.
2. No alcohol at home. I have a habit of having a glass of wine while cooking, which turns into a second glass while eating dinner, and so on. This sounds silly but it's to limit my drinking to only when we go out with friends.
3. Pack all lunches except on days with scheduled lunch meetings.
4. Only two meals out per week. All other meals will be prepared and eaten at home.
5. No beer at hockey games. Again, this sounds silly but we have season tickets so we go to a lot of games. The beer is expensive both calorically and financially.
6. No fried foods. This includes tortilla chips.
7. No dessert except for special occasions (i.e. Thanksgiving, Christmas)
8. Workout a minimum of 5 days per week.
9. Limit carb (bread, pasta, rice, starch, etc.) intake to one meal per day.
10. No eating while cooking. Tasting is okay, snacking is not allowed.

So there you have it. My rules. If you have other ideas or things that have worked for you, leave a comment, I'd love to hear!

Until next time..

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Starting over

Pounding heart, burning legs, screaming lungs. I must be out on a long and difficult run, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. This is like 3/4 mile into today's 3 mile "run." I can't even begin to describe how disheartening today's little jaunt was. It's one of those days where the weather was just perfect. It was in the high 60's, perfect blue sky, a little breeze, and just really refreshing. It's the kind of day that just makes you want to run. I suited up, popped in my earbuds, and hit the road. I quickly wanted to turn it around and head back to the Y to call it a day. How can one go from 5-6 mile runs several times a week to barely being able to run a mile? Pathetic. It took everything in me to keep from quitting and being completely discouraged. I kept telling myself that I'll get back there if I just keep at it. I've been here before. I went from non-runner to runner and I know it's possible. It's just not easy.

So a few rules to remember when you start running (these are my rules.....for more rules from, click here) :

1. It's not easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it. It's supposed to "hurt" just a little bit. That hurt is what makes you stronger.
2. Don't increase mileage too quickly. Just because at one point you were running 25 miles per week, you shouldn't jump in and start running 4 miles a day. Slow and steady. Don't increase your mileage by more than 10% each week.
3. Consistency is key. If you ran a mile today, don't wait until next week for your next run. Get in a few runs each week.
4. It's okay to take walk breaks. In fact, it's encouraged. Jeff Galloway teaches that walk breaks are the best way to train and run a marathon. You can actually reduce your overall run time by taking walk breaks....go figure!

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Caution: construction in progress

I am in the process of finding a "permanent" appearance/theme for the blog so please bear with some of the tests and changes that I'll be trying in the next several days. I am also working on renaming the URL to so I'll update you if/when that happens!

Thanks for your patience and please provide feedback on anything you like/don't like.

Until next time...

One small victory

Last night we went on a Halloween adventure to the movies to see Paranormal Activity 3. Not my first choice but it was Halloween and my husband had been dying to see it. Lately, anytime I go anywhere one of the first things I think about is what food issues am I going to be up against. When I say issues, I mean temptations and I'm a girl who loves to eat so there are many of these. Naturally, at the movies the biggest temptation is the delicious salty and buttery popcorn. My intentions are always good. I have a clear head focused on my goals and there is no way that a bucket of popcorn is going to creep in and ruin my progress. Then we step through the doors of the theater and my clear head is fogged with that sweet smell. It's much like when I say I'm getting up at 6am to go to the gym and the alarm goes off and suddenly I have 3934 excuses about why I need to stay in bed (read here for more on that...) Anyway, I don't know how they do it but there's not popcorn anywhere that's as good both in taste and smell. We both want something to drink so we step up to the concessions counter and I'm not going to order popcorn but in my head I'm silently wishing that I hear those few words come out of my husbands mouth...."small popcorn, please." They don't, thank God, and we grab our drinks and we're on our way.

I'll say, I'm so so glad that I had not one single kernel of popcorn last night. I sipped on my drink and used my other hand to cover my face for 97% of the movie. No matter what you're striving towards, it's the small steps and the small victories that will get you to your final goal. That's a nugget that I always have to keep reminding myself.

Girl in Motion: 1
Temptation: 0

Until next time...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

You snooze you lose

Years ago I had a rule. It was a zero-snooze rule. What was the point in setting an alarm for a certain time only to wake up to hit the snooze button for 7 extra minutes of sleep. Just set the alarm 7 minutes later...DUH!!!

Evidently somewhere along the way I forgot that rule and now I'm the Queen of Snooze. Every night before I go to bed I set my alarm for somewhere in the 6 o'clock hour and inevitably, I don't roll out of bed until after 7:30. My intent is always to get to the gym before work. I'll be good at it for weeks and then I'll hit a tired patch and not want to do it. I'll make every excuse and justification in the book. The "I'll have time to workout this afternoon" line always sneaks its way in there but usually, I end up not having the time.
The solution? Resolve myself to getting out of bed on the first ring of my alarm. Period. OR I can invest in this nifty little clock that makes a mad dash off of your nightstand to prevent you from rolling over and hitting that button. AquaClocky will you allow to tell it how many times you can snooze and then after that set number of times, he sets himself in motion and rolls off the nightstand and around your bedroom all while continue to sound your wakeup alarm. GENIUS!

Until I get an AquaClocky of my own, I guess I will just have to exercise some self control and quit being a snoozer.

Until next time...

Friday, October 21, 2011

All or Nothing

I remember a conversation I had about eight years ago while driving in the car with my mom. She wanted to go through the McDonald's drive-thru to get an order of small fries as a "treat." My mom and I share the same weakness for those delicious crispy and salty delights (don't even try to argue about whose fries are will lose that battle). She was hoping that I would share this order of fries with her and she really wasn't happy when I said, no thanks. You see, we all feel better when we have a partner in crime. Someone to "cheat" or "be bad with" so that we don't feel so bad about our own food indiscretions. She tried to get me to bend by saying something along the lines of, "you know, you can just have one. It's not good to deprive yourself of everything." This thought around everything in moderation is great, but not for me. At the time that this french fry conversation was happening, I was on a very successful journey toward weight loss. One of my rules was that if I was being offered some food item that I could turn around and get anytime I want (i.e. once my weight goal was reached) then I would not indulge. On the flip side, if said food item was something special that was only offered once a year such as roasted corn at the NC State Fair or my favorite Christmas cookie, then I was game for making an exception. It was all or nothing for me.

I deal with the same all or nothing attitude when it comes to my workouts as well. It's like the old "go hard or go home" addage. I want to go to the gym, go for a run, ride my bike, etc. as hard as I possibly can for as long as I possibly can. I want to walk away from my workout worn out, dripping with sweat, and feeling like I actually accomplished something. If I can't do that then I want nothing to do with it. That's a real problem. You see, I've got chronic Lyme Disease and I deal with consistent pain on a semi-regular basis. I'll go from 100% to full-body pain in a matter of one day. I'll go from 2 hour workouts to sleeping on the couch all day in just the blink of an eye. This cycle happens what feels like every few months and when it's like that, I do nothing. Literally. I throw myself a little pitty party on my couch with a House Hunters marathon and some bad-for-me food. Enter an extra 50 pounds....

So I've vowed to try the everything in moderation thing when it comes to my workouts. I'm guessing it'll force me to try new things and gain a new appreciation for different activities. Not sure what my first attempt at something new will be but I'm sure it'll be comical. Zumba anyone???



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just Move

Movement. Naturally, one might think of physical movement and activity. One foot in front of the other, forward motion, and so on. In a lot of ways that is exactly what movement means to me right now but I see it far beyond the physical.

It's so easy to skate through life without ever really making any movement. I mean, things happen. Marriages, mortgages, babies and so on. But are you consciously making movement toward your dreams, desires, and goals? It takes discipline and drive to actually move in the direction you so desire.

"Girl in Motion" is the title of this blog. It's easy to read that, read my first post, and think that this will be about exercise and activity. Some of that is correct but I see "motion" as many things. I see it as creating new adventures in life, exploring new things, constantly improving, and moving in a direction of growth mentally, physically, emotionally and so on. Motion is powerful. It can heal, it can create, it can improve, it can motivate.

For me, in this moment, I am looking at motion from the very literal sense. I vow to move everyday. It gets easy to go from home, to work, to home, cook, eat, clean, sit, sleep, and start over. I will intentionally move each and every single day so that I might feel my heart pump, break a sweat, and feel alive. I'm worth it my health is worth it.

What is your motion? What direction are you headed?

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Filthy Fifty

You know how it goes. Time flies and before you know it you're looking back uttering those dreaded words to yourself, "if I had only done _____." I'm not talking about regrets. I don't believe in those. What I'm talking about is that nagging feeling that you wouldn't be dealing with a certain something if you had just made the "right" choice when you had the chance. For some it's finishing school when life was less complicated instead of balancing work and school and family. For some it's paying off credit card debt when there were less obligations and responsiblities. For some it's that last 5 or 10 pounds that then turned into a MUCH larger pun intended.

I fall in that last category. Way back when, I devoted myself to fitness and wellness and I was a picture of good health. I found a love for the gym, healthy food, running, cycling, and triathlons. In the process I had lost 40 pounds and gained the person I knew I always was. Then "real life" happened. I went to grad school, moved away, got a full-time job, met P, got married, and gained 50 pounds. Wait, WHAT?! Did I say FIFTY? Who does that? (At least that's what my brain says)

Saying that outloud physically hurts. Fif....wait for it....fift.....waiiittttt......fifty (vomit). That's a huge number. That huge number is accompanied by my huge a*! and I have to look at it in the mirror every day. I know that everyone who looks at me thinks about it.

So here I am. I've been wanting to document my journey for quite some time but it's taken me awhile to work up the guts to actually admit to the world, and myself, that I've let things go this far. I ran a 5k yesterday and I crossed the finish line at 38:25. Someone looking at me for the first time might think, "great job...good effort...way to go for finishing!" I see someone who, just last year,
completed a Half Ironman and can barely finish a 5k. I see a time 12 minutes slower than my 5k time just a few years ago and it makes me want to crawl into a hole.

I hope to share my journey with those who care to be a part of it. This isn't about weigh-ins and calorie counting. This is about challenges, successes, and experiences along the way. I hope you will laugh, think, learn, dream, and walk this path with me!