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...