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Thursday, March 29, 2012

I didn't know I loved it

Welcome to the latest installment of Thankful Things Thursday. I wish I had taken photos of the things in today's list but I didn't and now regret it because they were both really pretty.  Plus they tasted better even than they looked if that is possible.

This week I had the opportunity to be in Schaumburg on Saturday because my phone stopped working during my Saturday morning run/walk so I had to go the Apple store to get it fixed/replaced.  Dan had some friends over and they were making wings for dinner so I was trying to figure out what I would do (wings are WAY too many points even though they are delicious especially since he was going to smoke them).  Across from the mall was Whole Foods so I decided to stop there and see what I could find for dinner.  This brings me to my first thing to be thankful for - the Whole Foods salad bar.  Oh my goodness!  First off there are so many 0 point vegetables to make a deliciously tasty salad but I also added a little pulled chicken and some noodles to mine.  Seriously YUM!  I loved every single bite and then had mixed feelings for not making a bigger salad and being grateful that I don't love closer because I'd want that ALL THE TIME!

The next thing I'm thankful for is also food related and I didn't know I would love it nearly as much as I did.  Jen and I were out shopping on Sunday (in case you are wondering, yes we bought matching running tights for the Egg Shell Shuffle!) and neither of us had had lunch when we spotted a Fro-Yo restaurant under construction in the Commons. Instantly we both wished they were open and then I said "why don't we go to Yumz?"  Jen has been to the one in Crystal Lake but I'd never been before so she gave me the low down on how it worked.  I was glad that I went with her to know how the whole thing worked cause there was a line of people there when we got there and I hate looking like an idiot (though I am used to it).  I took what I thought was about 3/4 cup of vanilla fro-yo and topped it with fresh strawberries, blueberries and pineapple.  Also, 3 miniature Keebler Fudge Stripe-like cookies and they were as adorable as they were delicious.  We sat down on some couches and enjoyed our treats.  Oh YUM!  Again, I'm glad this place isn't closer because I would want it ALL THE TIME (probably right after I had a salad from Whole Foods!)

The last thing in my thankful list today is the keywords that people use to find my little blog.  In the past week people have searched for 'nude weigh ins' and 'naked weigh ins' to join my little adventure.  I'm now wondering  what the heck I wrote about that matched that search criteria.  Other great keywords used 'funny fat things' and 'funny social activities'.  I really hope that I helped you guys out with those searches!!

So, what are you thankful for?  Let me hear it!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

All about the celebrations

First, sorry I'm blogging today instead of last night.  I got pulled into a work problem right when I started blogging and by the time I finished with that call I didn't really feel like trying to be witty (actually now that I think about it I'm not sure I have anything witty to share!).  Anyway, our meeting last night was all about the celebrations.  Some people have been long time members who were celebrating and some were relatively new faces, either way celebrations are awesome and I'm so proud and lucky to be in this meeting group because there is so much encouragement!

Of course the encouragement doesn't just happen during the meetings.  I've made some fabulous friends that I email/text with on a regular basis between meetings (I'm talking about you, Jen!) for not only encouragement but also the occasional (read: more often than we care to admit) blunder.  For me it was my Arizona iced tea miscalculation.  For Jen it was all about milk.  That series of text messages still makes me laugh.  Anyway... my point is that there are lots of ways to be encouraged and motivated to keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

One of the ways we (Jen and I) are doing that is by training to run a 5K.  We're signed up to run the Egg Shell Shuffle in Schaumburg on April 7.  We've already been devising our strategy since we will not be fully trained to run a 5K so we're planning on running intervals.  We've been texting an emailing each other to check on progress and it really helps keep me on track.  I know I have certain fitness goals for myself but having to be accountable to another person makes me less likely to blow off a training run for something else.

So who encourages you?  Who makes you accountable to eat well or be active?  If you want me to start texting you to make you accountable I will!!

PS - Congrats to Jen, Tashuna, Melany and Diane (celebrated being at GOAL for one year!).  You guys continue to inspire me and I can't think of a better group to be in.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mid-term break, portion sizes, gReader and more

Welcome to the latest installment of Thankful Things Thursday.

Since I had my final on Saturday I am on break between classes so the next thing I am thankful for is breaks from school.  I love my classes and my program but sometimes it gets a little overwhelming with work, working out and life to also have school on top of things.  I've got plans for my free time and it involves bonding with my kindle and some books that I've been neglecting for awhile.  I am so excited about this you have no idea!

Before I started on this healthifying journey we'd go through food "inventory" pretty quickly.  A box of pasta here a bag of cheese there.  Since we've been eating pretty healthy for the last 21 months (but who's counting, right?) months our "inventory movement" of some items has slowed drastically.  So the first thing I am thankful for today is smaller portion sizes.  Even though we are using less of some products this doesn't necessarily translate into more money in my wallet (pasta is cheaper than fresh produce every time) it certainly has made a difference in our weight as well as in our overall health.  It sort of amazes me how long a box of pasta or a bag of rice will last us now!

I am also super thankful for my google reader.  It's rare that I read blogs on the day they are published but I don't want to miss anything either.  My reader so dutifully goes out and finds all the things I like to read about (currently it's a lot of scrapbooking or health/fitness/weight loss stuff with some of my favorite authors thrown in for good measure) so I never miss anything.  I do tend to get behind in reading but it's fun to catch up on a bunch of posts at once, kinda like watching a whole season of TV at one time rather than waiting for the next episode to come on next week.  I give these bloggers so much credit because most of them have jobs other than blogging and yet the blog almost every day, sometimes more than once a day.  They are all very much into healthy living and fitness so I get a lot of motivation from reading what they do, how they train and how they recover.  They also give product recommendations from time to time which I love because a lot of the fitness stuff is new to me so I want to know how stuff works before I buy it.  Now, in case you're wondering what some of my favorite blogs are I have compiled this little list on the left side of the blog.  You can pick and choose or just click the subscribe button to subscribe to my "bundle".

Lastly, while I am thankful for my dogs (almost) every week this week is special.  On Friday our dog, Briscoe, will turn 4!  We had a cancer scare with Briscoe when he was 2 years old so truly we are thankful for every day that we spend with him.  While he is a little bit crazy (I like to think he's our kind of crazy) he's a really fun dog.  He "knew" instantly when my mom called to tell me that my grandmother died and he came and put his head on my leg and tried to snuggle his sweet little face into my arm.  Happy Birthday Briscoe!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Goals and Pants... (Clever title, eh?)

About a month or so ago I had to go into the office on a Tuesday for a lunch meeting but I left early to make it back for my meeting.  Please pause and read my original post about spring races (if you haven't already) cause otherwise some of the rest of this post won't make as much sense.  Go on, we'll wait.

The photo I texted people
Ok... for those who are caught up ... on Monday I received a meeting invite that requires me to go to the office on Wednesday so I made a quick dash to some stores to find a new pair of pants to wear.  After hitting a few stores I stopped at Old Navy on my way home.  I grabbed a pair of pants and tried them on and thought that they were a little bit big.  So I went back to the shelf and grabbed another pair and tried them on.  They were a little snug (though the last pair I bought stretched a little and I could feel that these would too) so I wasn't sure.  Having no other choice I took a photo of myself (right) and sent it out to Jen, Mom and Brenda.  Jen replied that they were good, Brenda replied and said 'Perfect', Mom replied and said "well the next size up is going to be too big". Aside from this being a 'yes or no' question rather than short answer I didn't know what to do so I did what any logical person would do - I bought the pants in 2 sizes and brought the smaller size to my meeting today to get approval from my Tuesday regulars about whether they were too small.  All the ladies agreed they looked good.  Even Tim, the one guy who comes to the meeting (and hardly shares anything), said I looked good.  Awesome!!!

This is a big deal people because these pants are TWELVE number sizes smaller than the pants I was wearing when I joined Weight Watchers.

In yet other news... I was named included in the Real Life Biggest Loser stories at this week.

And finally ... Are you getting out and enjoying this beautiful summer-like weather we've been having?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wicking, Scrapping and beets

It is a gorgeous morning here in the suburbs of Chicago.  The sliding door is open (which actually makes my crazy dogs crazier if that is possible!) and I'm listening to the birds chirp as I write the latest installment of Thankful Things Thursday.

The first thing I'm thankful for is wicking clothes!  I sweat more than most people when working out so it is really important to me that I have the right gear.  This includes wicking clothes to keep the moisture away from me.  I went shopping with my friend Jen recently and picked up a few new pieces, including these fabulous capri pants from Tekgear.  At first I wasn't sure I'd like them because they are snug but once I started running in them I kind of forgot all about them.  They were comfortable and stayed where they were supposed to so I am likely going to end up with another new pair of these babies sometime soon.

The second thing I am thankful for is my training plan.  I've actually found a new app for my phone so that when I'm on the treadmill I don't have to think about how long I need to run or walk there is a timer and I can refer to it later when I wonder how much time out of the total workout time I spent running.  This way I can just zone out and forget that I'm working out.  How cool is that?!

I am also thankful for beets.  I know this one sounds random but the produce market sells beets and I love to boil or bake them and snack on them.  Thankfully they are a free vegetable under the Weight Watchers plan!  In case you missed it here's how I prepare beets from my cooking lesson on beets.  You really should try them if you haven't already.  YUM!!

I am always thankful for, but writing about it this week, friends and scrapbook retreats.  Over the weekend my friend Sheri hosted a scrapbook retreat and it was a great weekend with a lot of laughing and scrapbooking.  I finished a baby book I started working on at the last retreat but didn't have a chance to finish so I was really excited.  It's also just nice to spend time not having to rush around or really having a care in the world.  If you wanted to "work" you could but if you wanted to hang out you could do that.  Oh and the massage therapist doesn't hurt either.  :)

The last thing in this edition of TTT is going to be the keywords that brought people here.  Today I was looking at the stats of my blog and noticed that someone was looking for "extra encouragement mother" and was directed here.  Luckily I do have a very supportive mother (and father, sister, brother, husband etc...) to continue on/push me(!) with my journey.  The other keyword that brought people to my site was "gained weight site". I hope that who ever was looking for those kinds of posts were helped out.  :)

So, what are you guys thankful for?  Show me some love in the comments section about what makes you happy.  Is it the weather?  A cute puppy that likes to sit in your lap (despite being 80 pounds)?  Let me hear it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What motivates you?

After I posted about the debacle last week at the grocery store my sweet cousin, Mel, asked me where I got my motivation.  Thinking about the question now I should have responded that I picked it up at the grocery store before being called a big lady (insert laughing here).  Anyway, the question came up again during the meeting because we were celebrating my loss.  This is great question that deserves more than a funny answer.

Either seeing myself through someone else's eyes or seeing an old photo (pre-WW) is enough to kick me into high gear to eat well and work out.  It goes farther than that though.  I want to be healthy more than I want the food that is calling my name.  I never thought that I would be able to walk/run a 5K and now I know it can be done (for walking) and I see that possibility (for running).  I know people like my sister who has battled her own weight and is now running half marathons.  I see the hard work that people in my meeting group put in and see them succeed and that is so inspirational to me.

For more time than I care to admit I thought that I would always be an obese person.  I thought that because my family has a history of weight problems that no matter what I did I would follow in those foot steps.  It wasn't until I started this program and I saw other people being successful and started experiencing some of my own success that I started to get the confidence I needed to continue on.  The confidence and desire to succeed is stronger than my desire to fail.  I know that I don't have to be perfect and some weeks aren't even close to being perfect but I have to at least try and that is way better than when I started.

So what motivates you?  Do you have a mantra?  Do you have an idol?  What keeps you going?

PS - I want to say a special CONGRATULATIONS to Pat who hit goal.  What a fantastic achievement!!  I'm so proud of you!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I may need a new grocery store

Every week after my meeting there are two stores that I visit.  The first one is for mostly produce and to check out the fresh seafood counter.  The second is for other more mundane groceries.  At the second store I've seen the same woman for the past month or so (she works there, obviously) and we exchange the usual niceties.  Tonight when I walked into the store I say her, nodded hello and rushed on to finish my shopping.  When I was finished I hit the self check out lanes (cause there are never any lines) and she began to bag my items and we had this little exchange.

her:  So how's the diet going?
me:  (puzzled cause I thought we were still in the hi, how are you kind of conversation) uh... good.
her:  well you always buy healthy food and you have these Weight Watchers ice cream bars so I figured you were on a diet.
me:  oh, good pick up, yes I am on a diet.  I've lost 160 pounds (feeling pretty proud of myself even though I gained this week)
her:  wow, well I don't want this to come out wrong but you must have been a big lady.
me: ............. uh... yeah I was.

But it gets worse... after I leave the store I call Mom to tell her my little story.  She answers the phone and I ask if they are having dinner.  She says yes but she wants to hear how the meeting went.  So I tell her and then replay the above story and then this:

me:  so really?  How does something like this even happen?  Oh F*** me.
Mom:  (laughing)
me:  Ok well I'll let you go have dinner.
Mom:  Oh, but you should say hello to everyone
me:  Really?  You can give a girl a little notice that she's on speaker phone.  Hello everyone.  Sorry about the F bomb in there.

The conversation continues for a bit but mostly I just want to end it (not "all of it" just the most recent completely embarrassing conversation EVER!)

So does this happen to everyone?  What's been a recent embarrassing situation.

Oh and on the weight loss front ... I've finished week one of the 5K training plan.  I'm feeling pretty good about it even though I don't really follow the training plan to the letter.  The plan says that you're supposed to do the prescribed workout which is about 30 minutes.  On the days when I'm "training" I also spend 20-30 minutes on the recumbent bike.  On the days when I'm not "training" I've been doing my usual 4 mile loop with the dog.

I put training in quotes cause it seems so strange to think of what I do as training.  Does anyone else feel like that?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Light Seafood Gumbo

Light Seafood Gumbo
PointsPlus Value per Serving:  6
Makes:  4

1/2 pound uncooked, cleaned, deveined shrimp
1/2 pound crabmeat, cleaned (and checked for shells, naturally)
1/2 pound frozen okra
1 c. stewed tomatoes
1 large vidalia onion
2 ribs celery
1 red bell pepper
3 c. vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. whole wheat flour
2 T. Smart Balance margarine
1 t. table salt
1/2 t. white pepper
1 t. fresh thyme
1/2 t. cayenne pepper

Spray a large, non-stick skillet with with non-fat cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Add in garlic okra, bell pepper, onions, and celery. Cook until veggies are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Make the roux by adding the butter to the skillet, and then add in the flour; stir until blended. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until the flour is well browned, but not burned, about 8-10 minutes.

Slowly drizzle in the broth into the skillet, continuously stirring to remove lumps, and bring to a slow simmer. Add in the thyme, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and tomatoes.

Add the cooked vegetables back into the skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the shrimp and crabmeat and simmer until shrimp are cooked, about 3-5 minutes

Serving size:  2 cups

This recipe is adapted from  It was delicious and a huge portion!!  I ate it with either brown rice (for 1/2 c. add 2 Points Plus) or over spaghetti squash (add 0 Points Plus).  I enjoyed it over spaghetti squash more than over rice plus I didn't get the carb bomb with the squash.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Wok-Seared Salmon with Asparagus

Wok-Seared Salmon with Asparagus
WW Points Plus Per Serving:  4
Makes:  4 servings

10 oz. wild salmon fillet
1 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. low-sodium soy sauce
1 T. honey
1 T. cornstarch
1 t. sesame oil
12 oz. asparagus (cut into 1" pieces) - I used frozen so I thawed it and it was already cut.
1 t. ground ginger or 2 T. freshly grated

1.  Whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, honey and cornstarch in small bowl until smooth.

2)  Cut salmon fillets crosswise into 1/2 inch slices.  Cut each slice crosswise into 4 pieces.  

3)  Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water sizzles in pan.  Add oil and swirl to coat wok.  Add salmon and stir-fry until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes, transfer to plate.  Add asparagus and ginger, stir fry until crisp tender, about 2 minutes.

4)  Return salmon to wok.  Re-whisk vinegar mixture, add to wok and stir-fry until sauce bubbles and thickens, about 1 minute.

I served this over 25 grams (measured before they were rehydrated) brown rice noodles (add 2 PP value per serving)
Recipe adapted from the One Pot Cookbook

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thankful Things Thursday - Drugs, training plans and friends

I can't believe it's already Thankful Things Thursday!  I completely forgot to post on Tuesday after my meeting so this post might be a little longer to cover both things.  If you aren't familiar with Thankful Things Thursday please click that link to find out more information.  Now let's get on with the show...

About a week or so ago Dan and I were watching 'Hook, Line and Dinner' and it was in Alaska.  I forgot where the host was but there was an annual race to raise money and awareness for something and I was said, "That's awesome.  I'd love to run a race in Alaska!"  To which Dan replied, "You should look for one that is happening when we're going to be there".  Holy cannelloni, what a great idea!  So I've been looking for races but there seems to be a lot of out of date information (mostly listed as 2011 dates so I'll keep looking).  I don't know why but I'm kind of anxious to get racing season started.  I'm wondering if this has something to do with the fact that I've been kind of lazy in the workout department lately.  I think there is a switch in my head that I have to flip so I don't wait for races to be in the near future before I start getting ready for them.  I took the first step towards that today when I started the 'Couch 2 5K'.  I started mine on the treadmill but I am actually looking forward to taking it outside when the weather is nice.  There is something about being in the fresh air that just seems more awesome.  In addition to the training plan I spent 30 minutes on the recumbent bike covering 3 miles for a total of 5 miles today.  Not bad.

This leads me to the things I am thankful for...

1)  Drugs - thankfully this one isn't for me or Dan!  I am thankful that we can afford good veterinary care for Briscoe because he developed a really nasty case of diarrhea over the weekend.  The doctor thinks he is battling a bout of colitis and told us to switch him to a bland diet.  For the record, it's not like he's eating chimichanga's or anything but now he's eating home cooked rice and boiled chicken.  He seems to really enjoy that as does Tucker who gets a little scoop of that with his regular kibble so that he doesn't feel left out.  Incidentally for those that know me personally you may find it funny (not haha but slightly ironic) that my dog has colitis because I have the "sister" disease Crohn's.  This information will come in handy in #2 so read on...

2)  Training plans -  thankfully this one IS for me!  I'm really glad that I finally decided to look up the couch 2 5K training plan because I really do want to start running more.  Shortly before Briscoe got sick I got a pamphlet in the mail for 'Team Challenge'.  Team Challenge is a 16 week training plan that will prepare you to run/walk a half marathon.  When I got the brochure I really thought about doing it but am really just not sure I'm ready for something like this.  Yet.  After finding out that Briscoe has colitis and with my own battle against Crohn's it seems only fitting that I would decide to try something like this.  I haven't committed to it yet.  I sort of want to make sure that I can run a full 5K first!

3)  Friends - when I went to my meeting on Tuesday I mentioned this whole idea of training for a half marathon and Kim about jumped out of her boot (she's wearing one while her achilles is jacked up) to try to convince me to run THIS year in Vegas with her.  Hmmm....

4)  Fitness/Weight loss  bloggers - I have found some of the best inspiration from people on the interwebs.  Honestly, the talk of great runs (or sometimes terrible runs but what they learned from it) is amazing and makes me want to be more active.  It is also a constant reminder that you can eat well (read:  deliciously) and still be healthy as long as you counteract the eating well with working out.  Sometimes I forget that part but I really do get a lot from those lovely blogging/running/articulate ladies.

5)  Working from home - this one is especially important today because I realized when I got back from the gym that I had no clean yoga pants to wear.  Ugh... oops  So I'm chilling and going to start work wearing my 'Race for the Light' long sleeve T-Shirt (it's golden rod with a reindeer on the front) and some Joe Boxer pink flannel pants with smiley faces all over them.  Oh yeah, I'm totally bringing sexy to the job today!!

So, what are you thankful for?  Let me hear it!!