Thursday, June 21, 2012

Week 1 recipe

This recipe is my submission for Run with Jess's Marathon Weight Loss challenge!  I am doing the Half-Marathon challenge, so I'll be attempting to lose 13.1 pounds, totally do-able.  My plan of attack is to stick with plant-based eating plan, but NO snacking after dinner (my HUGE downfall). 
This pale and rather unappetizing-looking dip is actually REALLY tasty!  It's my take on Dr. Fuhrman's Tuscan White Bean Spread, which is from his book Eat to Live.  I don't add pinenuts or sun-dried tomatoes because I never have them on hand.  I eat a LOT of beans/lentils, like at least once a day, if not twice.  This is a great summer bean dish because it's cold and refreshing instead of hot and comforting like so many bean dishes (stews, chili, dal, etc.).  Serve with cucumber rounds, carrot and celery sticks or pita triangles.

Jenna Z's Rosemary Bean Spread

1½ cups cooked great northern or pinto beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ tablespoons salt-free seasoning (I use Tony Chachere's)
2 tablespoon golden balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped rosemary
2-3 tablespoons of water to thin

1. Place all ingredients in a high powered blender or a food processor.
2. Process until smooth and creamy, adding water as needed.
3. Chill for one hour before serving.

I called it 4 servings but those are BIG servings. Stats are just the spread, no veggies or pita included.

Amount Per Serving
Calories 238 Calories from Fat 8

Total Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber

Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 13% Iron 22%

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


One of my favorite kind of posts to read are posts about people's favorite products.  I like reading reviews and people's tips for everything from laundry detergent to frozen food to cars.  I looked around my house the other day and realized there are several things that I am brand loyal about and there are other things that I will buy whatever is cheapest, including the generic brand.  And at the bottom is a short list of things I need recommendations for so be sure and tell me what products you LOVE!

Here are the products I am loyal to:
Burt's Bees Blemish Stick-I don't use many products on my face except a face wash and this blemish stick.  When I see a bump or red spot starting up, I hit it with this and it dries it right up.

Bach Flower Rescue Remedy-This is a product that I find almost wacky, but I keep buying and using it because it does seem to work.  It may just be placebo, maybe it's the alcohol in it and not the flower essences, but we give these drops to Sully for thunderstorms, long car trips and other stressful events and he does seem to calm down.  And the few times I have taken it myself, I have noticed heightened relaxation and less anxiety.  Am I crazy?

Iso-active toothpaste-I was suspicious at first, it seemed like a gimmick.  But this stuff get super foamy and really does leave my teeth feeling super clean!  Even cleaner than baking soda toothpastes or ones with grit like Crest Prohealth, which is what I used to prefer.

Scrubbing Bubble Automatic shower cleaner-This is another gimmicky item that I'm hooked on now!  As long as I remember to push the button, it really does keep my shower clean.  At least, the parts that the spray reaches.

Alessi Vinegars-Since I stopped buying salad dressing in favor of making my own, I've really been loving all the flavored vinegars!  Sometimes I don't even mix it with anything else, just splash a bit over top of my veggies and chow down.  I love the fig and raspberry flavors.

Aussie haircair-When I had longer hair, I didn't like Aussie products.  They seemed to weigh my hair down or make it look greasy and streaky.  But with short hair, I have been using the heat-protection spray and the hair spray and both are really great!

ALDI-Here's my story about ALDI.  I used to think it was gross, really cheap products, the store was always dirty and had really bad service.  Turns out, we just had a really gross ALDI!  They built a new one and it ROCKS!  I never would have gone but they sent a coupon for the grand opening and now I'm hooked.  I love ALDI for produce, raw nuts, dried fruit and vegan dark chocolate.  Their hummus, a few canned things like olives and refried beans and cocoa powder aren't bad either.  And of course their special buys can be great too, but they are only around for a short time.  LOVED the German muesli they had recently, and I'm glad they don't have their holiday Speculaas cookies year round because I kind of developed an addiction.

Skirt Sports-Yes, they are pricey, but they fit well and they're great quality so they last a long time.  Plus, every spring they have an awesome sale event to make room for their new styles.  I've loved everything I've gotten, with my Gym Girl Ultra skirt being a current favorite.  But when it's cooler, I love the Sweetest Thing skirt with capris and when it's super cold, the Tough Girl skirt with full pant is awesome!  I also have several tees and tanks from them and they are some of the best workout tops I have.

Nutro Natural Choice-Both the dog and cat eat Nutro Natural Choice.  It's got quality ingredients without costing an arm and a leg.  No, it's not organic, free range, grain-free, human-grade, raw, probiotic, superfood like some of the newer brands.  It's middle of the road, affordable and keeps everyone at a healthy weight with good coat and energy level.

My Lip Stuff Lip balm- I first ordered from this small company when they were on Etsy because I just HAD to try out their stevia-sweetened lip balms.  And I loved them!  I love to mix and match 6 and 10 packs and pick out new flavors.  My current favorites are: Chai Tea, Coconut Mallow Meringues, Shamrock Shake and Jellybeans.

Fresh Step cat litter-What can I say about cat litter?  Our catbox is kind of out in the open in our laundry room.  No one wants to walk into a room and see poop but it's better if you don't also smell it.  This is THE BEST, I never smell any cat box smells.  I use regular clumping, unscented.

Schick Intuition razor-I have used this razor since they first came out and still can't find a razor that shaves closer.  It takes a little adjustment to get used to the shaving cream bar, you sort of have to angle it just right, but once you get the hang of it it's a super close shave.  And this razor stays sharp for the longest of any razor I've used.

Need recommendations for:
 facial moisturizer and wash-I used to have one that worked well but now it's drying out my skin!

sunscreen-I'm looking for a more non-toxic sunscreen.  I'm testing out True Naturals right now but would love other suggestions.

vegan protein powder/bars-I like ones with no sugar or artificial sweeteners added.  I've found some powders but LOVE hearing reviews for them.  And I haven't really found a bar I am 100% on yet.  I guess what I'm really after is something like a larabar but with brown rice or soy or hemp protein powder added to it.  Is there such a thing?  I mean, I like larabars but would like a bit more protein so it's a more balanced snack/meal.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Talk about variety!

This morning was a great example of my Summer Fitness Variety plan in action!  Weight lifting gloves+ballet shoes.  I practiced my ballet during the 1 minute breaks in my Jamie Eason LiveFit workout.  (I know, I know, everyone's doing that thing!  It's what you do when you've done Body for life and New Rules of Lifting, you move on to Jamie's 12-week plan.  Cause you gotta be on a 12-week plan, right?)  Note my favorite Music Choice channel on in the background-Party Favorites!  And note my ghetto solution to not having large enough weight plates- kettlebells dangling like giant testicles from the padded crossbar.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Fitness Variety

I have decided to make the Summer Olympics my fitness theme for the season!  I am going to try and at least attempt every single olympic sport that I've never tried.  That statement is sort of a cop-out so that I don't have to try and arrange a horseback ride, basketball game or shot put opportunity.  As much as I would LOVE to try pole vaulting, I think that ship has sailed.  So here are the 2012 Olympics games, broken down by my expectations.

Games I've already attempted in the past (mostly in middle and high school):
  • archery
  • badminton
  • basketball
  • beach volleyball
  • equestrian
  • soccer / football
  • track and field
  • volleyball
 Games I plan on trying:
  • boxing
  • canoe / kayak (Already have a trip planned!)
  • cycling
  • diving
  • fencing
  • gymnastics
  • handball
  • rowing (will have to be using a machine at gym)
  • sailing
  • shooting
  • swimming
  • table tennis
  • tennis
  • triathlon (Already signed up for the mini-tri here in town!)
  • weightlifting
 Games I'm having a hard time coming up with options for:
  • field hockey
  • judo
  • modern pentathlon
  •  wrestling
  • synchronized swimming
  • tennis
  • water polo
  • wrestling
Not Olympic sports but I will also be trying out:
  •  Rock climbing (Thanks to Mike who always catches online deals before the run out, I got a rock climbing 101 class for half off!)
  •  Hula Hooping (With any luck, I'll get to take a class on our vacation out East!)
  •  Hot Yoga  (Ditto, Massachusetts is FULL of hot yoga!)
  • Ballet (I started a more intense summer class yesterday and yikes!  I don't want to be one of those people who are sore from a little ballet because I'm relatively fit and active but MAN, my inner thighs and hips are so sore!  Love it!) 
  • Hiking/trail running
Anything else I should add to my list?  I want to try Paddleboarding, but the closest place right now is Chicago.  What's on your list this summer?

Friday, June 8, 2012

K-9 Kamp Challenge 3: Minute to Win It

The challenge this week was to squeeze in fitness with your dog in short bursts throughout the day.  I'm not going to lie, we did NOT do this very often and there are no pictures.  This was a busy week for us and most of my free time with Sully was spent prepping for the trial this weekend.  But when I heard Minute to Win It, my mind went instantly to the games from the tv show!  So I came up with a list of games we could play.

Super-sprints: sprint back and forth across the backyard as many times as you can in 60 seconds.
Weaving wonder: Sully weaves through my legs as many times as we can in 60 seconds.
Run the bases: Try and run to 10 cones/hula hoops in the yard and Sully has to sit/down at each one before racing to the next
Round and Round: Same as run the bases but Sully has to go around each of 10 cones/trees in the yard.  (Sully knows an "around" command which just means circle around it and come back.

Friday, June 1, 2012

K9 Kamp Challenge 2

The challenge for the second week of K9 Kamp was to play ball.  I can't say Sully really enjoys ball very much, but he'll chase it for a few minutes if you encourage him enough. 

When we first got Sully, he didn't know how to play at all.  We had to teach him how to play with toys.  And we taught him how to retrieve.  So it's not a very natural activity for him, it's more like a more relaxed obedience session than a real game.  But at least he's still running around getting exercise from it!  And he does enjoy it, just not as much as some dogs who seem to never want to stop playing ball.  He wants to stop after about a dozen throws.  :)

My Weight Loss Story: 2010-present

(Did you miss part 1 or part 2?) 

2010 saw me doing lots of running and logging my miles as one of my yearly goals.  I ran several 5Ks and my first 10K.   But I was still eating junk, just smaller portions.  Late in the year, I started a round of the Game On! diet, which was great.  It really got me thinking about the composition of each meal, snacking between meals, water intake and how much of the food we eat every day is filled with junk like sugar and salt.

In 2011 I ran another10k and then relaxed my running schedule a bit.  It seemed like unless I was going to move on to half marathons, I had reached the goals I wanted to and it was time to move on.  So I moved on to weight lifting!  Another easy to track exercise, you can lift x lbs for x reps and keep records of your progress.  I started off with The Female Body Breakthrough and then moved on to Body for Life.  I followed to diet program that goes along with Body for Life.   Despite the claim that small meals throughout the day keep your metabolic fire going and your blood sugar doesn't spike and all that, I found that I didn't gain any weight but it didn't make a huge impact on weight loss either.  But all that dairy and eggs and protein powder did a number on my digestive system so I dumped that after a couple of rounds.  From 2010 onward I did not really loose much weight at all, which was a clue to me that I was at a happy weight.

Let's look at the whole journey in graph form!  You can see my initial loss in 2003 followed by  a period of maintenance.  Then a gain and a couple of years of complacency before REALLY being inspired and taking things seriously.  Then another period of complacency which came with a small gain followed by another serious push to get  down to the healthy weight that I've been slowly decreasing/maintaining for around 2 years now.  Is this just another period of complacency?  That was my first thought when I started to plateau at this weight but after seriously thinking over what my goal weight would be if it weren't this weight, I think I've found a good stopping point.  I like the amount of exercise it takes to maintain this weight.  I like the food I'm eating and the amount I'm eating.  After loosing over 80 pounds I do have excess skin, especially on my stomach and arms but I'm not even thinking about surgery right now to remove it.  It doesn't impede daily activities or chafe or anything like that, it's just mildly annoying.

2012, I'm in purple
What have I learned and how am I applying it?  I LOVE the feeling I get from being physically active.  I love variety so whether it's classes like Zumba, running outside or on the treadmill, walking the dog, gardening, a bike ride, or trying a new sport, I'm up for it!  I also love weight training and yoga so I try to fit them both in every week as well.  I strive for 5 days of cardio, 2-3 sessions of weights and at least one yoga session every week.

I feel MUCH more alive when I am well hydrated.  Game on! made me realize that sometimes when I think I'm hungry (especially if I'm craving fruit) I'm really just thirsty.  So I aim for at least 100 ounces of water every day.

I am much happier eating larger meals (I never quite caught on to the snack-sized lunch and dinner.)  three times a day and not snacking in between.   I measure out my grains and nuts/seeds, which helps me keep an eye on portions but I don't feel bad doling out large helpings of beans, fruits and veggies.   Game On! got me to read labels on my food and now my newest experiment, Dr. Fuhrman's Eating to Live, has helped me transition to an even more whole-foods diet.  It makes so much sense that food is fuel for your body and you need to give your body not just the calories it needs to survive, but the nutrients that all of your systems need.  Yes, if you eat fewer calories you will lose weight.  But if you are still eating processed foods like frozen meals, lots of added sugar (like in pasta sauce, yogurt, crackers, everything!) and empty calories (like a lot of no-fat and low-calorie products that Hungry Girl pushes), your body will still be craving food and signaling you to eat more because it still NEEDS the nutrients you're not giving it.  Once you feed yourself all of the multitude of vitamins and nutrients you need to be healthy, you won't crave those empty foods any more!

Once I conquered junk food and portion size (which took a set of measuring cups and some guidelines), my biggest issue with food is after-dinner snacking.  I snack when my hands are idle, either because it is a time when I should be relaxing or because I am putting off some task on my to-do list.  I know a lot of people say they eat for comfort, and I guess this is comfort of a sort for me.  Comfort from the anxiety that stillness brings and I'm working on becoming more comfortable with quieting my body and resting.

In the evenings I often feel either I SHOULD be doing something or I don’t know what I should be doing.   I’m an antsy person, I can’t sit still and relax, I need a job and to keep moving. When I don’t have a job (like in the evenings when a normal person would just take a moment to breath and unwind) I reach for food as my “job”. That way, I’m not sitting on the couch doing nothing, I’m sitting on the couch eating!  It is also my standby excuse for when my body NEEDS a break but I don’t want to take one. I can say to myself “I would be folding the laundry, finishing up that quilt, cleaning the bathroom but I’m eating.”  Because of this discovery, I have learned that everyone needs a breather and instead of eating, it’s ok for me to just slow down. It’s ok to just sit on the couch for an hour (without the crutch of food to make it ok). It’s ok, to remain at the table or on the couch after a meal to just chat and enjoy some leisure, it doesn’t need to be “meal time=your break time and all other time you must remain busy!”  This has made night time snacking (my main issue) easier to stave off.  I'm not going to say I've conquered it.  I still have to remind myself that instead of a banana with peanut butter, maybe I should meditate for 10 minutes.  Instead of a bowl of oatmeal, maybe I should just take a deep breath and enjoy a chapter in the book I'm reading.  Or maybe it's ok to just space out.  Just being still is very healthy and restful and good for you.  Food has always been a break from activity so I am still learning how to relax without food.

Another big hurdle for me was being able to see what was actually in the mirror.  Just like in all those childhood pictures that I had seen a fat child that wasn't really there, I still saw the same old me in the mirror even though that's not what was physically there anymore.  I struggled with this and had to honestly look at myself, acknowledge that there was a different reflection looking back at me and that my idea of me was changing.  What I had always thought and done did not apply anymore.  I can't tell you how many times I bought clothes that were too big because I had always reached for the XL shirt and still saw myself as that size.  Once I was seeing a factual picture of myself, I was able to start dressing for my size, which improved how I looked. This in turn fed my self-esteem and turned into a positive feedback loop, enough that I even bought a bikini!

So there you have it.  I am now at a healthy weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol level. I have a healthy BMI, am physically active and eat a healthy diet.  And I am so thankful that I took the MANY baby steps that it took to get to this point.  Yes, I got discouraged along the way, but each time I felt my determination rise and started over again, I was that much closer to my goals.  It has been a long journey, a bumpy and difficult and frustrating journey.  And it's not over because each day is a new challenge, to stick with my exercise and eating plans in the face of an overwhelming societal norm of horrible eating habits and sedentary lifestyles.  Coming up: a post with plenty of tips for doing just that!