Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's Time for a Makeover!

No, not for me.  I'm not even going to go there with this blog.  It's not about hair or clothes or makeup.  It's about healthy living, which comes in all different packages.  Whether you choose to wear makeup and buy the latest fashions, or whether you go au naturel and still wear the same shirts that you bought five years ago at Target (OK, I'll admit it...I'm talking about myself here), you do these things because they make you feel good, and I'm not about to diminish what works for you through my random blog posts.  So, if you have come to this blog for fashion advice or the latest makeup tips, you should probably look elsewhere.  But, if you are interested in healthy living, in all its forms, then stay and enjoy the reading.  There's something for everyone in these posts.

So, who's getting a makeover then?  The blog!  I have been writing this little blog for six months, and it's time to take it to the next level.  I'm not ready to play in the big leagues, but I am ready to put more energy and effort into making this blog both aesthetically and intellectually stimulating.  So, over the next few weeks, I will be changing the design, adding more photos and writing more.  I plan to cover a variety of topics related to healthy living, and I'm really excited.  I have about 2 dozen blog posts swirling around in my head, and more are being added each day.  What can I say, it's what I think about when I'm running.  So, that's what's in store for this blog.  Stay tuned!

Friday, December 23, 2011

That's my girl!

Amelia has been taking karate since the end of the summer, and she LOVES it!  I love that she loves it because I think it is a great activity for her to be involved in.  It teaches her self-confidence, self-control, respect, and compassion.  Plus, it gives her the skills to protect herself if she is ever faced with a situation that requires such skills.  Today, she took her test to advance to the next level, and she passed!  She's now a yellow belt.  I'm so proud of her.  She is determined to make it to black belt some day, and I'm confident that she will.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Be Here Now

In the chaos of the holiday season, it's easy to get stressed and rushed and feel like everything is a hassle.  There are facebook and blog posts complaining about how hectic everything is, and how much still needs to be done to get ready for the holidays.  In the stores, people are trying to buy last minute gifts and everyone seems rushed and on edge.  I get it.  I feel the pressure of the holidays as well, and I have been known to fixate on how much needs to be done in the weeks leading up to Christmas (the holiday my family celebrates) to the point that I just feel stressed and anxious.  In the past, I worried so much about everything being perfect that I failed to see the beauty of the season.  I think that's a problem many of us have.

This year, I have been conscious of my stress levels and vowed to relax and let the season unfold as it will.  I remind myself each day that it's the whole season, not just one day that makes it so wonderful.  It's the random Sunday afternoons watching Christmas movies with my kids, camped out on the living room floor with big bowls of popcorn (with Bragg's amino acids and nutritional yeast...try's amazing!).  It's the pleasure of finding gifts for friends and family members that are meaningful.  It's the fun chaos of a house full of kids decorating Christmas cookies.  It's buying gifts for families in need and watching as my children begin to understand the value of giving back to our community.  It's eating too much sugar and chocolate and drinking too much wine, knowing that January will start with a Clean Food Challenge.  It's everything about the season.  Unfortunately, so many people get so caught up in the chaos that they move through the weeks without noticing the small things.  They don't take time to breathe in the moments that make the holidays what they are.  They are so focused on the end result that they are unable to enjoy the individual moments and events.  I'm making sure I stay in the moment this year, and it's making all the difference.  After all, I get to actually enjoy moments like this:

Every year, the Holiday Train travels through different towns.  At each stop, Santa passes out candy canes and a band plays Christmas songs.

This is the bird's nest she found in the branches of the Christmas tree we cut down.  There were actually two for each kid. 


Monday, December 19, 2011

Thinking Ahead...

Last week, one of my favorite bloggers, Emilie, wrote a fabulous post about being brave.  She encouraged us to consciously choose to do things that we are scared to do.  For her, this means tackling a Half Ironman (I know you'll do great, Emilie!).  Her post really resonated with me, as the past two years have really been about this for me.  Two years ago, I was too comfortable in my life. After some careful consideration, I realized that I kept making excuses for not doing things that I really wanted to do (run a half marathon) because deep down inside, I was afraid.  I vowed to work hard at becoming more confident and brave, and it has worked.  I started running and completed my first half marathon last April, even though the thought of doing it terrified me the entire time I was training for it. I will never forget the way I felt as I crossed that finish line.  When I replied to Emilie's post, this is what I wrote:

This is a great post that came at just the right time. After two half marathons and some random 5k's, I'm ready to move to the next level. I have a friend who is training for her first half marathon and I am so envious of her. That excitement and nervousness that accompanies the weeks of preparation. The giddiness of knowing that you are about to do something bigger than you have ever done before. I want that again. So, I'm in the process of firming up my big, scary plans for 2012. It looks like it will be the year of the marathon for me. I'm scared and excited all at once. I haven't decided on the exact marathon right now, but I have it narrowed down to a few in NY, VT, and ME. I'm going to make a final decision this week and commit. The second scary thing I'm going to do is complete a triathlon through our local YMCA. It's a small one (1/2 mile swim, 18 mile bike and 4 mile run), but it still scares me which is exactly why I want to do it. I am so intrigued by triathlons, and I know I need to do one. It's not the individual activities that scare's the transitions in between. So, thank you for this reminder to be brave and confident. I'm working on doing it in other, non-athletic areas of my life as well. Here's hoping that 2012 is a wonderful year of accomplishments and growth for all of us!

So, that's where I am now.  I'm planning for 2012 as 2011 comes to a close.   I was looking at a lot of different marathons in NY, VT and ME, but I have decided that if I am going to do it, it's going to be the Vermont City Marathon.  I have been checking the site for the Vermont Marathon every day and it fills me with that nervous, sick, excited feeling, which means that it is exactly what I am ready for. And then, after the marathon is over, I will begin preparing to face my other fear...the triathlon.  I guess I better start swimming.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Soundtrack

Many runners are adamently opposed to listening to music while running.  I get it.  I understand the need and desire to run with nothing but the soundtrack of the outside world.  It helps you stay focused on your breathing and it keeps your mind uncluttered.  I completely respect runners who are music-free.  However, I really enjoy listening to music while I run.  It helps me power through the tough parts of a run and it keeps me motivated.  I purposely choose songs that have a solid beat and lyrics that speak to me.  I try to change my playlist every few weeks so that I don't get bored with the same songs, and I regularly have three or four running playlists that I alternate between based on the distance of my run and my overall mood.  One thing I struggle with is finding new music to add to my playlist, and I find running blogs to be a great source of inspiration.  I found so many new songs based on recommendations from other runners in cyberspace.  So, to help pay it forward, I'm posting my new running playlist.  Hopefully, it can provide some new ideas for those of you struggling through the same old playlist that you have been running to for weeks.

Time to Move On            
Tom Petty
Have You Ever
Brandi Carlile
Rolling In The Deep
The Lazy Song   
Bruno Mars
Peace, Love and Happiness
G. Love & Special Sauce
Mr. Jones
Counting Crows
Basket Case       
Green Day
The Edge Of Glory
Lady Gaga
What You Want               
Lose Yourself
The Warrior's Code        
Dropkick Murphys
Break Stuff        
Limp Bizkit
Chop Suey!        
System Of A Down
In Too Deep
Sum 41
Fuck You
Cee Lo Green
Hey Ya!
Who's Laughing Now
Jessie J
Billionaire (feat. Bruno Mars)
Travie McCoy
Kid Rock
Within a Mile of Home  
Flogging Molly

Friday, December 9, 2011

No Regrets

During the week, I usually run during my lunch hour.  It's not my ideal time to run (I'm a morning runner), but it's really the only time I can get in a run on workdays.  I would love to run early in the morning, but it is difficult to do with a 2.5 year old and a 7 year old who have to get up and out of the house for school/daycare. I know that an evening run is out of the question because a) that's my family time and b) I have completely lost my desire and motivation to do anything physical after 8 hours of work.  So, I use my lunch hour to get my weekday runs in.  It's often difficult to make myself stop what I'm doing, get up from my desk and walk over to the gym. Yes, I have a "gym" where I work.  Since I work at a community college, we have fitness facilities on site...with an indoor track. 

The track is the part above the basketball court.  When I run, I overlook the court.

I know...I have no excuse for not running, do I?  I try to get in at least three days of running each week.  Some weeks, I only run 1 - 2 days due to meetings and teaching, but other weeks I make it over almost every day.  What I have learned is that I just have to make myself get up and walk there.  Even when I'm tired and in the middle of something, and it's so tempting to just sit at my desk and spend my lunch hour reading blogs (Oh, come on, I know you do it too), I know that what I really need to do is go running.  No matter what, I always feel good after I do, and I never, ever regret it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kickin' it up a notch

For the past year and a half, I have been a runner.  I have run at least 2 - 3 days each week, although I usually run 3 - 4 days.  I typically do 2 - 3 short runs (3 - 4.5 miles) and one long run (7 - 10 miles).  When I began running, I could barely make it through 1.5 miles, so this is quite the accomplishment for me.  I have completed numerous 5K's and two half marathons, and I'm already signed up for my third half marathon.  Through it all, my pace has remained relatively the same.  Sure, I run a bit faster than I did when I started running, but I'm not much faster than I was when I ran my first half marathon last April.  I keep justifying it by saying that I'm just a slow runner.
Recently, I have noticed myself running a little faster.  It's not something that I can maintain for miles, but when I look at my garmin, I often catch myself running 9 minute miles, and sometimes even 8.5 minute miles.  Unfortunately, seeing this pace blinking at me on my watch causes me to instantly panic and think that I'm pushing myself too hard.  After all, I don't want to puke or collapse at the end of a 3 mile run.  But, I now realize that I'm never going to get faster if I don't push myself a little.  When I first started running, I struggled through 1.5 miles.  It wasn's easy, and I thought I was going to die the whole time, but I didn't.  I now realize that I have to let myself feel that way again if I am going to build up my speed.  So, I'm going to incorporate some interval training into my weekly runs.  I'm confident that I can go faster, if I just let myself.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bum Ankle = No Turkey Trot

Last Thanksgiving, I ran in the Peru Turkey Trot 5K.  It was my first ever organized running event, as I had just started running in July.  I remember the nervous excitement the night before as I worried about whether I would complete the run and what it would feel like to take off running amongst the crowd of people. The run itself was short and extremely cold - the temperature that day was 12 F - but it is the run that changed me forever.  Sure, it wasn't a daunting 13.1 or 26. 2 miles, but it was still a huge accomplishment for me.  I walked away from that event knowing that I would run in more races, and it was only a couple of weeks later that I signed up for my first half marathon.  That 5K made me realize how much I love running races.

So, as I'm sure you can imagine, the Peru Turkey Trot has a special place in my heart.  I plan to run it each year.  Unfortunately, those plans were halted this year.  My bad ankle, the one I injured this summer, has been bothering me a bit lately. It hurt a lot throughout the day yesterday and into this morning.  So, with great disappointment, I decided not to run the Turkey Trot this year.  I felt so sad this morning as I looked at the clock and knew that the runners were lining up and preparing to start the race.  I know it's only one race, and I will be able to run it next year, but it just felt so sad to me.  It was my first organized run, and I have been so excited to do it again this year.  Plus, I really wanted to beat my time from last year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just what we needed

The past few weeks have been pretty crazy and overwhelming for all of us.  Paul started a new job, the kids had numerous activities, and I have been in the midst of trying to finish up the semester as a part-time instructor, student, and full-time employee.  So, in an attempt to get some much needed family time before things get even crazier, we planned a quick weekend getaway.  We booked a suite in a hotel in Burlington, VT, which is only an hour away and spent the weekend doing fun family stuff. 

We spent a chunk of time at Pizza Putt.  It's an indoor family fun center that is similar to Chuck E. Cheese but even cooler.  The kids were in heaven!


We went to ECHO Science Center and played with all of the cool hands-on activities and the Grossology exhibit.



We went shopping along Church Street and enjoyed ice cream cones at Ben and Jerry's.  And, we spent quality time in the hotel enjoying each other's company, playing games, swimming, watching TV and just hanging out.  After two days, we returned home refreshed, rejuvenated and reconnected.  It was exactly what we needed to recover from the past few weeks and make it through the next few.  Sometimes, you don't need to go very far to have a great vacation!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I'm in between training plans right now.  I don't have any major events scheduled until April, and my last half marathon was on October 15th.  So, I'm in that funny limbo place right now - maintenance mode.  In the beginning, the maintenance phase is refreshing.  After training for an event, it's nice to have the freedom to relax a little and not have to worry about getting in a specific number of runs on specific days each week.  But, it gets a little boring after a while.  I'm definitely someone who does well with a training calendar on my fridge.  I like having a goal to move towards...something to prepare for.

So, now that I'm in the midst of a maintenance phase, I'm going to use the time to build up my overall endurance.  I have two goals for myself.  First, I want to be able to run my half marathon in April much faster than I did last year.  I have been holding steady as a 10-minute miler.  I want to increase my overall speed so that I'm closer to a 9-minute miler.  That means interval training.  Since the winter is nasty in Upstate NY, I'm going to be running on the indoor track at work quite often.  I'm going to use this to my advantage and do some speed work.  Second, I want to build up my overall weekly distance.  Right now, my weekly mileage only increases when I'm at the end of a training cycle.  I want to build up my weekly mileage so that I'm basically always prepared to run a half marathon.  That means running at least 4 times each week, with three, 3 - 5 mile runs and one long run of 9 - 11 miles.  I know I can do this, I just have to make it part of my routine.

I also have my sights set on a triathlon in the summer, which I have never done before.  So, I'm going to add swimming and spinning to my winter workouts so that I build up a core foundation in those areas before I begin seriously training for the triathlon.  I'm nervous and excited about the whole thing, but that's another post for another day.

I think these goals will help keep me focused through the winter.  Once the end of January hits, I'll be back in full training mode.  I can't wait!

Friday, November 11, 2011

My New Pal

OK, so a few weeks ago I wrote about my plans to start tracking my calorie consumption on sparkpeople and my realization that I was healthy and active and didn't need to worry about calorie counting.  So...that lasted until last week.  I put on a few pounds over the summer, and it isn't muscle.  I have been feeling puffy and bloated, and I'm sick of it.  Even though I have been running and using the elliptical, it has been pretty sporadic, and I'm not feeling as fit as I was before.  Plus, I never followed through on my exercise goals that I set in September.  So, even though I touted myself as healthy and active, I wasn't really being honest with myself.  I had been very healthy and active, but over the past few months, something changed.  I started snacking on junk a lot more, justifying each time as a "special occasion."  Well, let me tell you, special occasions don't happen every afternoon and evening.  I let work and other stress get in the way of going to the gym and going running as regularly.  This was apparent during my last half marathon.  Overall, I just feel frumpy and lethargic.  So, I finally decided that I have to do something to get myself back on track.  After all, I'm a healthy living blogger.  How can I let myself slack off when I try to encourage the rest of the world to adopt healthy lifestyle choices.

Enter my new pal...My Fitness Pal.  I downloaded it as an iPhone app, and I LOVE it.  Seriously, it makes keeping track of my food and exercise so easy (and fun too).  Since I want to lose about 7 pounds, it limits my calories.  I have a daily calorie allotment of 1200 calories, but each time I exercise, it adds calories to my daily allotment.  So, if I run three miles, it gives me 300 more calories to eat that day. 

If that's not motivation to get to the gym or lace up my running shoes, I don't know what is.  But, the app isn't just about counting calories to lose weight.  It lets me see how much my mindless snacking actually adds to my daily caloric intake.  Trust me, the numbers can be pretty shocking sometimes.  A handful here and there really adds up.  Plus, it gives me a breakdown of the nutrients I consume each day, so I can make sure I'm getting everything I need.

I know that calorie counting can be a dangerous habit for some people as it can cause eating disorders and other issues. I am very sensitive to eating issues, having struggled with them for many years myself.  In fact, I am very aware that counting calories can become a slippery slope for me, but I try to find the balance with it.  I don't freak out if my calorie count goes over the daily allotment.  I still let myself have fun and indulge, but I'm not doing it every day anymore.  For me, it keeps me accountable and aware of what I'm putting into my body.  However, if I ever feel like it's getting out of hand, or that I'm becoming too focused on the number of calories, I'll remove the app from my phone.  I know that I can easily succumb to eating issues, so I'm being extra vigilant about it.  But, for now, My Fitness Pal is my new best friend.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Last week, while driving five hours to a conference, I started listening to the audiobook version of Born to Run.  I know, I know...that's so last year.  All the bloggers have already read it.  What can I say, I tend to be behind when it comes to trends.  I'm only about halfway through the book right now, so I can't really give it a full review, but I'm definitely enjoying it so far.  I plan to do a post about it once I'm completely done.

In the book, the author, Christopher McDougall, talks about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico and their ability to run extremely long distances at fast speeds without tiring.  He attributes it to a number of factors, one of which is a special energy drink they consume before a race.  I was intrigued as I listened to the section of the book that describes the drink in detail, and was completely surprised to discover that the drink was made by combining chia seeds, honey, lime juice and water.  Here I was waiting to learn some secret elixir that would transform my running, and the Tarahumara were drinking a beverage made from ingredients I have in my freezer and cupboards.  I couldn't believe it!

I returned from my conference on Tuesday night, and decided to go running on my lunch hour the next day.  In preparation, I made my own version of the chia drink discussed in the book. 

It looks funky, but it tastes fine.

About 30 minutes before my lunchtime run, I consumed the chia mixtrue.  My run was fabulous.  I really felt like I was running faster and stronger than usual, and I felt like I could run forever.  I didn't give the chia seeds full credit, because I had just come off a 1.5 week rest period following my half marathon injury, so I was already itching to run.  But, I did wonder if the chia seeds might have had anything to do with it.  So, I started experimenting.  I have been consuming the chia mixture each time I plan to run, and I have to say that I definitely notice a difference in my running endurance.  I'm running faster and stronger, and I'm able to hold my faster pace for the entire run.  So, either I suddenly moved to the next level of running (which is possible), or the Tarahumara are really on to something. 

Ultimately, even if the chia seeds don't actually make me run faster or longer, they are really good for me.  Chia seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals and are highly recommended as a nutritional supplement.

Chia Seed Nutritional Information

I will definitely keep consuming chia seeds as I think they are a great way to get some extra nutrients into my system.  Some people are grossed out by the chia seed gel that forms when they're soaked in water, but I really like it.  It's an interesting texture.  But, you don't have to soak the seeds in water.  They can be added to smoothies, sprinkled on salads or oats, or ground up and baked into muffins or breads.  Regardless of the preparation/eating method, they still pack a nutritional punch.  So, rather than spread your seeds on some red clay sheep, eat them and give yourself a nutritional boost!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Race Recap: Peru Octoberfest Half Marathon

Yes, I know I ran this race over a week ago.  However, I was waiting for my co-worker to email pictures to me so that I could include them in this post.  She took a while, but since she dragged herself out in nasty weather to take pictures of me at the end of the race, I can't really complain. wasn't my best run, but I finished it. Considering the injury I sustained during the run, the wind tunnel that lasted the final three miles of the run, and the poor training, it's really the best I could hope for.  My official time was 2:22:06, which is less than ten minutes off from my first half marathon time of 2:13:08.  This course was very difficult as it was full of hills, so I expected to be slower.  However, it still doesn't feel great to run slower than the last time.

The weather prediction for the day called for heavy rain and winds of up to 40 - 50 miles per hour, so I was already dreading the conditions.  However, at the last minute (literally), the rain stopped and the clouds parted.  We actually had a sunny run.  Unfortunately, the wind didn't cooperate.  The severe winds held off until after the half, but it was still incredibly windy.   There was a point at the end of mile 9 where we turned the corner and were swallowed up by a crazy wind tunnel.  I felt like I was in some sort of vortex, and these conditions lasted until we crossed the finish line.

The entire half was in a  rural area, so we were running by cow pastures and apple orchards.  It was incredibly beautiful, but the long country roads made it seem longer and harder than the half I did through neighborhood streets. I definitely felt more tired with this half than my last one, which doesn't surprise me because I didn't train as well.  Oh well, I guess I learned my lesson.

This was Paul's first half marathon, and it was really exciting to cross the finish line with him.  He just started running in January after watching me become obsessed with it, and he has come so far.  So, rather than worry about my time or the fact that I wasn't well-prepared for this race, I am going to focus on the fact that Paul and I were able to do it together and that I was by his side as he crossed his first finish line.

So, my plan is to spend the winter building up my speed and endurance.  My next half will be in April, and I am determined to beat my time from last April.  So, it will be a winter of speed work and long runs.  I'm excited and ready to move to the next stage of my training.  Now that I have two half marathons under my belt, I'm ready to move from a goal of "just finishing" to a goal of beating my time and PRing.  And then, I'll conquer the marathon! 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'm Ready!

It's the end of my "taper" week.  My legs are rested and stretched.  My clothes for Saturday are washed and ready.  I have been eating well and drinking a lot of water.  My garmin is fully charged.  I'm definitely ready to do this.  I feel so relaxed and prepared, without being too fixated on the event.  Honestly, I find myself forgetting that I even have the half marathon this Saturday.  I begin making plans for the weekend and then stop myself because I'm already booked for Saturday morning.  It's a funny feeling.

Now, if I could just do something about this weather forecast...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Do What You Love

Whether you were a fan of Steve Jobs or not, his message is pretty compelling. 

This is a reminder to make your own choices and pursue your passion.  At the end of the day, the only person you have to answer to is yourself.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's not the same...

Wow...I just realized that it's October 5th, which means my half marathon is 10 days away!  I'm not sure how to feel about it.  When I ran my first half marathon in April, I was so diligent about sticking to my training plan.  I was able to complete all of my runs each week, and felt fully prepared in the days leading up to the race. 

Since it was my first, I was so focused on the upcoming date that I thought about it all the time.  This time, I have been much more relaxed about the whole process, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing.  I have been training, but I have missed a lot more runs that I would like.  I can still pound out the miles on my long runs, but I have been missing a lot of my mid-week short runs.  When I looked at the calendar today and realized it's already October 5th, I paused for a minute.  How did I get so close to race day without realizing it.  The half isn't consuming all of my waking thoughts and I'm not counting down the days until the event.  It's interesting how much it has become just another long run to me.  The excitement and anticipation that I felt with my first half has been replaced with a calm energy and sense of ability that I didn't have the last time.  I know what it feels like to cross that finish line and I'm not nervous about my ability to do so.  I can only hope my lack of mid-week running won't affect my ability to actually do it.  I guess we'll see what happens on the 15th!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Numbers Game

Growing up, I was always the chubby friend.  I wasn't outrageously overweight, but I was what one would call "pleasantly plump."  When I hit puberty, I gained weight and developed breasts pretty quickly.  This left my short, stocky frame looking quite "fluffy."  In addition, I had just discovered the pleasure of Dr. Pepper, Orville Redenbacher's cheese popcorn, bologna sandwiches and the dessert line in my middle school cafeteria.  My parents raised  me on a very healthy diet, but let me make my own food choices once I left elementary school.  Like many young teenagers, I enjoyed the freedom of eating junk food.  It wasn't unusual for me to get home from school on any given day in middle school and down two Dr. Peppers while eating an entire bag of cheese popcorn.  I ate because I loved the taste of the junk food, but more than that, I ate to avoid the emotions and angst of being an awkward, unpopular middle schooler.  The weight crept on, and I became more and more unhappy about how I looked.

When I entered high school, I became very aware of my chubbiness and became obsessed with how I looked and, more importantly, the number on the scale.  During my four years in high school, that number on the scale became the most important number to me.  I obsessed over it and convinced myself that if it was just a few digits lower, I would be happier, prettier, nicer, etc.  I decided that all of my problems were a result of the number I saw on the scale.  So, I became obsessed with keeping it down.  I was no longer the chubby girl on the outside, but inside I was still that plump pre-teen who felt bigger than everyone around her.  Luckily, my obsession with dieting and food restriction, while horrible unhealthy, never became a severe eating disorder.  Sure, I had disordered eating issues, but I was not so severe that I could be labeled anorexic or bulimic.  Instead, I followed the path that many high school girls (and some boys) follow.  I tried numerous diets, I bought and took diet pills, I restricted my food and drank diet soda to curb the growling in my stomach. 

By the time I hit college, for some reason or another, I became less focused on the number on the scale and more focused on the way my clothes fit and the kinds of food I was putting into my body.  I grew into myself and began to see who I was and what I wanted from the world.  I became comfortable with my differences and began to understand that we all come in different shapes and sizes, and the number on a scale doesn't matter much.  College is a time for opening your mind and figuring out who you are, and this was especially true for me.

As I began to age and my metabolism began to slow down, I began to gain weight once again.  Add two children into the mix and a hectic job, and it's easy to put on a few pounds without even noticing.  Throughout the past decade, I became obsessed with the number on the scale once again.  I  dieted and counted calories and exercised in an attempt to lose the weight that I put on over the years.  Now, I know that the weight needed to come off.  I was unhealthy.  However, more than losing weight, what I needed to do was get myself healthy and in shape.  Which is what I did.  After Bennett was born two years ago, I redefined my idea of what is healthy. I watched what I ate, I exercised, and then I started running.  I fully committed to a healthy, active lifestyle and my body responded by shrinking down to the shape and size it is meant to be.  I lost over 60 pounds (after gaining about 50 during pregnancy).   But, more than that, I developed an understanding that my health and well-being is not determined by a number on a scale.  It's determined by how active I am and the types of food I put into my body.  I stopped weighing myself and focused instead on being healthy and active.

Recently, I started weighing myself once again.  I gained 3 pounds over the summer, which is actually not a significant gain.  But, for some reason, I became obsessed with the number on the scale.  I fretted over the weight gain and decided that I have to lose the 3 pounds (plus a few more).  I began to think that everything would be better if I just weighed a little less.  Then, the other day, as I was reflecting on my journey toward health, I finally realized that I'm acting just like my anxious, hormone-ridden teenage self used to act.  I had to remind myself that I am healthy and active. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains.  I exercise regularly.  I make sure my family is active.  So, I should be happy with my body because it is able to do everything I ask of it.  Three pounds doesn't really matter.  My body is the shape and size it is meant to be.  Three pounds doesn't define me. It doesn't determine my self worth.  The number on the scale is not the most important number.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Redefining Success

I was all set to post tonight about my need to get back on track with calorie-counting so that I can lose the last couple of pounds that are still hanging around.  I was going to start using sparkpeople again and put my plans to count calories and limit my food intake out there in the blogosphere so that I can be held accountable.  I was writing the post in my head, with examples of my weekly menu options and food choices already pre-determined. 

This was my plan all day.  Then, something changed.  On my drive home from work, in a rare moment of quiet self-reflection, I realized that I was looking at it all wrong.  Sure...I might have a little softness still around the edges.  Sure...I might not be at the lowest weight possible for my body type.  Sure...I do indulge a little too often in extra snacks.  But, I'm also a healthy, active, fit person who expects a lot of my body.  I run numerous days throughout the week.  I walk my dogs.  I swim.  I bike.  I play and dance with my children.  I take on a lot of extra projects and activities and expect my body to perform with little complaint.  And you know what?  It does.  My body is strong and capable, and it rarely complains when I expect it to take on a new challenge.  So, rather than focus on what is wrong with my body, I have decided to appreciate everything it can do.

I eat healthy and stay active.  I don't need to restrict my food intake.  Instead, I need to make sure I'm being as healthy and active as possible, and trust that my body will be the shape and size it is intended to be.  After all, isn't that what healthy living is all about?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Life got in the way...

It has been quite the week!  I haven't been able to blog, but I plan to start again in the next few days.  Not that I have much of a following...but, it's still important that I stick with it.

So, I'll be back soon with some great posts about exercise, food and life in general.

I hope the week is treating you well!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I decided to end my Clean Food Challenge after a week instead of ten days.  When I did the original challenge, it was only a week long.  For some reason, I thought doing a ten day challenge this time would make me feel even "cleaner."  However, once I hit the one week mark, I decided that I was ready to be done.  Any longer, and I think I would have ended up feeling burned out and negative about the experience.  Instead, I'm ending the challenge feeling great about my success and more mindful about my body and what I put into it.  Like last time, I'm not going to deny myself any foods, but I am going to pay closer attention to what I'm eating.  I have come to realize that I have a pretty significant sugar addiction, and I need to make sure I don't let myself eat too much of it.  I firmly believe in eating everything in moderation and still plan to enjoy sweet treats occasionally, but I have to remember that "occasionally" is the operative word.  I'm also going to make sure I try to avoid refined sugar as much as possible and use alternatives that are more natural.  Other than sugar, I'm ready to introduce the other "restricted" foods back into my life.  I don't believe in complete deprivation, and have no need to eliminate entire food groups from my diet.  Obviously, if I had food sensitivities or dietary choices (i.e. vegan) that required the elimination of certain food groups, I would do it.  But, I think a healthy diet should contain a lot of variety and moderate amounts of all of the food groups. 

Now that the challenge is over, I'm ready to move to the next phase of Operation: Summer Damage Control.  I'm ready to add new forms of exercise to my routine so that I can improve my fitness and keep myself from getting bored.  As a runner, I consider myself pretty fit.  However, what I have come to realize is that running (and the occasional elliptical session) isn't enough to keep my body fit.  I need to incorporate other forms of exercise so that I use all of my muscles and improve my fitness.  So, I spent the past week reading through other blogs and thinking about the kinds of exercise I want to add, and I have come up with this:

Running:  3 - 4 times a week with at least one of the runs being a long run of 7 - 10 miles

Cross Training: 1 - 2 times a week - alternate between swimming, spinning, and the elliptical

Strength Training: 2 - 3 times a week

Yoga/Pilates: 1 - 2 times per week

I'm going to start out with this plan and see how it works for me.  Having it written down will keep me accountable and, hopefully, more likely to be successful.  It will require some changes in my schedule to make sure I fit everything in, but I'm positive it will be worth it in the end.  I know that the addition of these different exercises will help me improve my fitness, make me a stronger runner, and most importantly, keep me healthy and grounded.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Working for the Weekend

This weekend was one of those weekends that is so filled with fun and activities that you are left on Sunday night trying to catch your breath and wondering where the time went.  We went non-stop from the time we woke up on Saturday morning until we went to bed Sunday night. 

This weekend was the annual Battle of Plattsburgh event that our town hosts to remember the famous battle that happened here in 1814.  Each year, they have games, activities, reenactments, and music that lasts through the weekend.  We look forward to it each year.

So, we filled our weekend with Battle of Plattsburgh activities. 

We ate ice cream downtown while enjoying the festivities.

We marched in a parade.

Right before he fell asleep
 It was Amelia's first time in a parade.  It was Ben's  first time too, but I'm not counting it since he slept through the entire his stroller...while we walked behind a high school marching band.  Seriously, who is this kid?

We played old time children's games at the Children's Village Fair.

Amelia loves Little House on the Prairie. 
This is her "Mary" dress.

We ate our last Italian ice of the season (well, I didn't eat any...).


The Battle of Plattsburgh took up a lot of our weekend, but we also had other things to do.

The kids had karate and swimming lessons.

(There are no pictures of Ben's swimming lesson because I was in the water with him)

We visited a co-workers farm where we held baby chicks and fed goats and sheep.

Amelia attended a friend's birthday party at an indoor waterpark and finally conquered her fear of the waterslide.

It was crazy and chaotic, and sometimes even frustrating, but it was also a really good weekend.  We may be tired and behind on the laundry and cleaning, but we are all starting the week with smiles on our faces and the memories of the past two days.  That's really what life is about.

In the midst of the crazy weekend, I was able to stick with the CFC.  I ate a lot of fruits and vegetables and whole grains.  I avoided all of the junky snacks at the Battle of Plattsburgh celebration, including two of my favorites...fried bread dough and poutine.  For those of you who don't live directly below Canada like I do, poutine is an incredible dish comprised of hand cut french fries, cheese curds and gravy.  It's basically a heart attack in a dish.  It doesn't sound very appealing, but trust me when I say it is amazing.  I think I'm going to create my own "healthified" poutine to eat once the challenge is over.  If I'm successful, I'll post the recipe here.

The one area that I didn't do well with was my water consumption.  I didn't drink my 120 ounces each day, so I'm trying to be more diligent about it this week.  I'm not going to list my meals for you because they were basically repeats of what I have been eating all week, but I do have one meal that I'm going to highlight.  On Sunday night, I made myself this for dinner. 

It was fabulous.  The burger is a Sunshine Burger, which I decided was OK to eat as part of the clean food challenge because it contains only whole, real ingredients.  I made green bean "fries" by roasting them in the oven at 425 for about 20 mins.  I'm telling you, these are good!  I drizzled some sriracha on to for a little heat, topped the burger with avocado and tomato, and dug in.  YUM!  Who says clean food challenges actually have to be challenging? 

In the chaos of the weekend, I was also able to get in a long run.  I did 9 miles with some women from work on Sunday morning and it felt great.  The sluggishness I experienced on my previous run was gone, and I felt like I could run forever.  My legs felt great, my lungs felt great, and my mind felt great.  I don't know if it is the fact that I have less chemicals in my system or if I was just having a good running day, but I had a really good time.

I planned to talk about my exercise goals and future fitness plans, but this post is too long already.  I think I'll save that topic for tomorrow or the next day.  I hope your weekends were filled with fun and excitement like mine.  If not, there's always next weekend.