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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thankful Things Thursday: Marinades, Coaches, and Shakes

I know you'll be shocked that Thursday snuck up on me again but I've been busy and knew (all day) that I still needed to write this post.  However, since it's still Thursday I still have time to be thankful and I hope you will be as we get into the latest episode of Thankful Things Thursday.

1)  Dan found a great marinade recipe and we had this amazing rack of lamb that we bought a few weeks ago and had in the freezer.  He grilled it over the weekend and it was soooo yummy.  I love that man for searching out ways to make delicious food so that I don't always have to do it.  As much as I love reading recipes and finding new things it's nice to have help.

2)  I've been working on my 5K to 10K training program the last couple of weeks and one thing that has not only made post-race recovery a little more fun is the combination of my latest protein shake.  It's 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup frozen cherries and a packet of Weight Watchers Chocolate Smoothie Mix.  Put them all in the blender and whip it up.  So yummy to drink while I'm checking out my splits and rolling out my legs.

3)  Remember a few weeks ago when I was on The Dr. Oz Show?  I might have mentioned it once or twice!  While on the show I found out that I was getting a running coach through Team Challenge - well my coach emailed me this week and we're trying to schedule a meeting so she can tell me all about the program.  I'm super excited/terrified but Coach Barbara seems cool with that and reassured me that I can do it.  I'll provide more details as I find them out so stay tuned.

So, while there are still a few hours left to the day - get thankful.  And tell me what you're thankful for?  Something yummy?  A new goal?  A new milestone?  New clothes?  What is it?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

No Cake? It's ok!

After the weigh-in last week I decided that I needed to really stay on plan and not go over my points because when we were in New York I ended up going way over and then I struggled to keep my eating under control.  I tried to make good choices and was pretty successful right up until the weekend, Sunday in fact, when things kind of fell apart.  We had two parties to go to this weekend (Congratulations to Bri, Happy Birthday to Dave) and both parties had cake.  At the first party I ate the cake, albeit a small piece, and counted the points.  I also noticed that my husband (who is not a big cake eater anyway) didn't eat cake.  He just said no.  I was dumbfounded... say no to cake?  Why?  Then I counted the points and realized that it really wasn't worth it.  A slice of store bought cake with frosting is 5 points.  Considering that I was really trying to stay on plan and not go over my points I was disappointed in myself.  I didn't think the cake was worth 5 points and so on Monday when offered cake I politely declined.  You know what?  I didn't die or anything!

So, how was your weekend?  Did you have any major challenges or successes?

Saturday, May 26, 2012


This weekend is the unofficial kick off to summer but first, let's take a moment to really celebrate Memorial Day weekend.  Thank you to the men and women who have served to keep us safe.  (You can insert your own prayer here - I know I did).

Do you know what one of my favorite parts of summer is?  Honestly?  The food!  I know that seems obvious but all the fruits and vegetables could not be any fresher or more delicious.  One thing I'm particularly excited about is the beginning of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share.  Dan and I have been members for a few years now and we really look forward to the first boxes that we get.  I've found ways to find delicious produce during the "off season" but it doesn't compare with the quality of fruits/vegetables that we get from our beloved Angelic Organics farm.  You may be wondering, Jen, how come you haven't told us about this before?  Well, I did back in 2010 (you should go read this to find out what I thought of my first box!) when we started and I've mentioned it since then.  However, I recently got an email from our CSA that they still had some shares available.  If you're in the Chicago area and not already a CSA member I would really encourage you to try this out - they are even giving potential members a chance to try out the CSA without committing to a whole season.  There are a couple of benefits that I wanted to mention:

1)  You are "forced" to try vegetables as part of the box - because you get them and clearly you don't want to waste them you'll find ways to make these new tasty morsels.  Be warned when you do this you might find out that you and your husband love the same vegetables and now fight over them.  :)
2)  You get vegetables without having to be up at the crack of dawn to hunt them down at the farmer's market only to find that they already sold out!
3)  They even have some delivery areas where they will bring the box to your house but otherwise you go somewhere local (you pick from over 30 different locations) to pick the boxes up (we pick up in Elgin which is really convenient)

Here's what they sent me:

My vegetable Community Agriculture Farm (CSA), Angelic Organics, still has shares available. They deliver all over the Chicago area. Along with their regular full season shares, they are also offering 3 week "try us out"  boxes for $100. Check them out at and sign up at

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thankful Things Thursday: Sappy Sally Edition

Hey everyone!  Today didn't exactly catch me off guard as Thursday usually does but it did find me a little bit behind schedule.  I had toyed with the idea of not posting today since I had a post go live last night after the show aired that talked about the finale.  However as I thought about Thankful Things Thursday I knew I had to write a post because there is one thing that really hit me yesterday and makes me thankful every day but this week deserves extra kudos.

Somewhere in Central Park
This week (and most other weeks too) I am so thankful that I have Dan.  While the voting was going on he was reaching out to friends, co-workers and others to tell them my story and ask them to vote and share my story with people they knew.

When we were in New York on Friday he spent much of the day sitting around waiting.  For those that don't know Dan, waiting is not really his specialty.  Having been through the filming before I kind of knew what to expect but even I couldn't prepare him for how much time he'd be waiting.  But, he handled it like a champ and even seemed to enjoy himself.

About 5 minutes before the show would start in my area he texted me and told me not to start the show because he was on his way home but because of an accident he was stuck in traffic and running late.  I was so touched that he'd leave work early to come and watch with me considering he knew how the show ended.

Best.  Husband.  Ever.

And so he gets his own post all about him.

PS - I warned you it would be a sappy sally edition (and I even edited out a bunch!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Transformation Nation: Friday (The Finale)

Once the alarm went off I got up, showered and got dressed only to realize that we were waiting around about 20 minutes - how we got ready that quickly I will never know!  Finally the car was there and we were headed to the studio.  We got our temporary security badges and headed upstairs but our dressing room was being used by someone else so we were put into a different room for a little while.  Soon it was time for me to go off to hair and make-up.  With my hair in curlers but my make-up complete we were taken into the studio for a quick rehearsal.  At this moment I was so glad that I'd decided to go with flats and not be daring and wear heels because we had to walk down the stairs as we were introduced!

After rehearsal we were taken back to our dressing rooms and I finally got to see Dan again.  Poor guy was just sitting around a room with 2 of the other contestants husbands while we were getting all dolled up.  After a little while they called us back to hair/make-up to finish and make any touch-ups.  It must have been during this time that they took all the spouses out to the studio because when we came back they were gone.  It was also at this point that I found out my segment with Dr. Oz was going to be a quick Q&A which made me nervous again.  But... ok... let's do this!  Soon it was show time and we were taken up the back stairs to the studio.  As the show began I searched the crowd for Dan and soon spotted him.  I tried to wave to him but he didn't see me.  Then it was time for our entrances.  I was nervous about falling down the stairs - I don't know how Dr. Oz does that day in and day out!  Luckily, I didn't fall!!

After that segment we were all taken out of the studio and waited in the hall for our segments.  Mine was the second to last segment which was both good and bad.  The good part was that I didn't have to stand the whole time but the bad part was that I didn't get to see any of the show.  I did get to talk to the other contestants and the staff of the show which was fun.  I also saw a lady from Team Challenge (they train people to run a half marathon and raise money to benefit the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation) walking around which I thought was cool.  I wanted to walk up to her and tell her that I planned on joining them next year but I was sure she got that all the time and I didn't want to be "that" guy.  Ya know?  Soon enough it was time for me to go into the studio.  I stood behind the camera/crew until it was time for me to go on stage.  They were playing some good music in the studio so I decided to dance out my nervousness.  I'm pretty certain I looked like a dork but I didn't really care.  Suddenly they were playing my video and I was being escorted on stage.

Dr. Oz asked me my question and I answered it and then the most awesome of awesome things happened.  The Dr. Oz Show had arranged for the lady I saw earlier from Team Challenge to be here for me!  I couldn't believe this and I was completely overcome with emotion.  I tried to stop crying because I didn't want to mess up my make-up but it was no use.  However, then my segment was over and I was on my way over to my truth tube.  There was a break in the filming and we were given some last minute direction on what was going to happen and then the filming began again.  We all joined hands as Dr. Oz read the name of the winner.  At the time he read the name the cannons went off and I honestly couldn't hear what he said.  It took me a minute to realize it was Mike!  We finished up filming and took a couple more photos with the Top 10 and then we were on our way back to our dressing rooms.

Even though I didn't win the contest I know that I've won.  The point of me losing weight was never to win this contest.  The point was for me to try to get to a healthy weight and live a healthy life.  I believe that I am doing that and will continue on this journey and for that I am so happy and proud.  I am also absolutely thrilled to be a part of this group of people who have transformed ourselves to be ambassadors for healthy living.  I have made some fabulous friends and learned some amazing things throughout this process.  One of those things is that whether you have a little bit of weight to lose or a lot it is absolutely possible.  There is a tremendous community of people to draw inspiration from and I hope that if you are thinking of starting this journey that you will reach out to them.  It has definitely made me more successful and I know it will keep me on this path forever.

I want to thank Mercedes, Stephanie, Sheila, Sharona, Stella, Mary Ellen, Dawn, Karl & Mike for sharing this crazy adventure with me.  I hope that wherever life takes you that you are happy and healthy.  I also hope that our paths will cross again some day!

I also want to thank each of you, again, for all the love and support that you have shown me throughout the last several weeks.  I would have never thought that any of this was possible and I never thought people would have had such a tremendous reaction.  You have made me feel incredible the last few weeks and it has meant so much to me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Transformation Nation: Thursday (NYC adventures)

On Thursday, May 17, 2012, Dan and I got up early, got showered/dressed and headed out the door for O'Hare Airport.  We grabbed breakfast at Macaroni Grill which was near the gate we were departing from and offered a nice place to sit down and kill some time.  On our way to the gate we each grabbed a magazine to read and I grabbed a latte and Dan grabbed a soda.  We were lucky enough to have upgraded our seats so we were in the first row behind first class.  The flight to New York seems short and this time I didn't even finish reading my magazine before we were on the ground.  We grabbed our stuff and headed to meet the driver who was taking us to the hotel.

It was a beautiful day in New York City with the sun shining and hardly a cloud in the sky.  We snapped a few photos on the drive from the airport to the hotel.  We tried to check-in but we were really early so the room wasn't ready.  We dropped our bags off and went in search of some lunch.  We walked past quite a few restaurants and checked out their menus but nothing seemed quite right.  We happened upon a place called Rosie O'Grady's on 7th Avenue which had some great outdoor seating.  So we stopped there and had lunch.  We shared an appetizer of smoked salmon (YUM!) and Dan had a swordfish club sandwich and I had a Maryland Crabcake-brioche for my entree.  Both meals came with fries but I ate very few of them having already indulged in a delicious piece of raisin/rye bread from the bread basket.  The food was delicious but the best part of outdoor dining is always the people watching.

After lunch we headed in the direction of Central Park.  Dan had been checking out other things for us to do while we were there but I really wanted to see Central Park and it was such a great day that we couldn't pass it up.  I'd planned on wearing my Garmin so I'd know how far we went but I forgot to put it on when we left but we tracked 3.69 miles and think we walked somewhere closer to 4.5 - 5.0 miles by the end of the day.  The paths are plentiful throughout the park and though we didn't know where we were going we just kept walking.  We stopped at one of the many snack huts and bought a bottle of water and sat down for a few minutes but other than that we kept moving.

We had decided to stop at Whole Foods to check out their beer selection but didn't find much that we couldn't get at home so we passed on that but ended up stopping at a pharmacy because I'd forgotten the "socks" that I normally wear with dress shoes so I needed to find a new pair.  I was surprised at the number of horse drawn carriages around the park - I realized there would be some but it seemed like the line of them waiting to take people on a ride was never ending.  We finally arrived back at the hotel and checked into our room and laid down to take a break before dinner.

After I found out that I made the Top 10 and would be going back to NYC I booked a reservation at Bar Americain.  It was close to our hotel so we laced up our walking shoes again and headed back out.  Once there we enjoyed an appetizer of Wild Salmon with red chiles, cilantro and lime.  I'm generally not a big fan of cilantro but I LOVED it in this dish.  For our entree's Dan enjoyed the ribeye steak with a side of asparagus.  Dan shared a piece of his steak with me and oh my gosh it was so delicious - perfectly cooked and super tender.  I decided to go bold and get the Whole Dorade with Crabmeat Dressing and Roasted Lemon.  I've never ordered a whole fish before so I was a little scared of what might arrive.  I had a little trouble with the bones at first but Dan gave me some quick tips and I was quickly enjoying my fish.  It was absolutely delicious!  For dessert we decided to share the cheese plate and we each had a glass of port.  This is a new found favorite way to cap off the meal.

As we left we were walking by the David Letterman theater so we stopped for a photo and then decided to walk through Rockefeller Plaza.  The city was so beautiful during the day that I didn't think it could get much better at night but with all the lights I was not disappointed.  We definitely took the long way home but after that big dinner I was a little relieved that we spent a little more time walking back to the hotel!

Once back at the hotel it was time to get things ready for Friday.  I'd already gotten my call from The Dr. Oz Show that my car would be waiting to pick us up at 6:15 am to bring us to the studio for hair/make-up.  So, I quickly ironed our clothes and hung them up before bed.  Sleep, however, did not seem to be my friend that night.

Just a reminder to set your DVR or plan to tune in tomorrow to find out the winner of The Dr. Oz Show's Transformation Nation Million Dollar You contest!  Here is the information for the markets that I am aware of:
For friends living in the Oshkosh, WI area - FOX @ 3 pm
For friends living in the Minneapolis, MN area - NBC-Kare11 @ 3 pm
For friends living in the Arcadia, WI area - ABC @ 4 pm
For friends living in the Chicago, IL area - FOX @ 4 pm

You can also consult this link to find out when/where it airs in your area:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

RACE RECAP: The Color Run - Racine

Jen & Brenda ... nice and clean
I'm not sure this technically qualifies as a race because it's not chip timed and the organizers specifically call it the happiest run.  It really is because running is totally optional.  But let's back up... the races apparently fill up very fast so if registration is open where you live - sign up fast!  A few days before the race we received an email with a LOT of information including the fact that there are a lot of participants and lines would be long.  They were right - the line was L-O-N-G.

Thankfully, the check-in was pretty painless and the line moved quickly.  We were given our bib at check-in, a bracelet to get into the beer tent later and then went to another table to get pins.  Then came my least favorite part of the race, you were supposed to pick up your T-shirt and race bag before the race.  We didn't think we'd have enough time to get back to the car before the start and they didn't have gear check so we took a chance and left without any of it.

The Blue Push Team
Our team was made up of a few of Brenda's teammates from BDC and their spouses/significant others and after leaving the registration area we met up with the rest of the team and got some "before" shots.  Photo credit goes to the Leah and Ann - thanks ladies!  After a few great group shots and some dancing in the street (they played some really great music while we were waiting to start) they sent off the first wave.  Each wave was made up of about 1000 people and after the first wave left we moved up the street a little, more dancing and soon we were off and running.

I hadn't run since Wednesday and hadn't gotten a ton of sleep the last several days so I wasn't sure how this was going to work.  I figured I'd use the fact that it wasn't a "race" to my advantage and kinda take it easy.  I ran in 10 minute intervals with 2 minutes walking in between.  Each kilometer was marked with a color zone that was about 40 yards long.  There were people on both sides of the street and in the center of the street throwing a corn starch like substance at you.  They generally aimed for the hip/back/forearm area to avoid getting too much in our faces which was nice.  I ran with my water bottle (because it was really hot) and I was glad I did so that I could at least take small sips of water because even though they didn't aim for your face it's powder and windy so it gets in your face/mouth anyway.

Going through the color zone
I was a little ways out from the 2nd color zone when I started to walk so I pulled our my camera to get a couple of shots going through the color cloud.  I kept my camera in a ziploc bag to protect it from the color so pardon the fuzziness of the photo.  Color throwers stood with 5 gallon buckets and generally used their hands to toss the substance at you.  When it hit your skin it actually felt pretty cool, which was nice.  There was also a nice breeze off the lake from time to time which helped keep me cool.

Blue Push? I don't see much blue!
I thought the one bad part about the race itself was the water stop.  All the water was on one side of the road and it was sitting on the sidewalk, rather than being handed out.  This caused quite a lot of congestion with people stopping.  Thankfully the water was cold and I grabbed it, drank it all and was back running. A few more color zones to pass through and soon I was close to the finish.  The race seemed to go much faster than I expected probably because of the distraction of the color zones.  There were a lot of spectators out on the sidewalks which was nice too.  Even a cow bell - definitely always fun!  As I was about 0.4 miles out from the finish I spotted Brenda coming towards me.  She told me the finish line was close and asked if I wanted to run it in.  That had been my plan so we picked it up and headed to the finish.  There was plenty of water (which was good because at the last color zone I'd gotten some of the powder in my throat so I wanted to wash it out) at the finish line and I think I guzzled 3 cups of it.

No purple hair - that was a bummer
Luckily, after the race was over we circled back to the registration area and they had a couple of packets left so we picked them up (which was cool because then we had our color packets to throw in the air) and our T-shirts.  I wasn't sure how we'd find the other team members because there were so many people.  The newspaper reported that there were about 7500 people - it was crazy.  But we found them and got some great after shots, danced some more and took part in one of the rainbow color clouds - where they count down from 10 and anyone with a color packets throws the color in the air to blanket everyone.  It was cool but I, again, inhaled a little too much.  Oops!

Sassy Sisters!
We danced a little more and then Ann suggested we get some ice cream.  I've never met her before but I like the way she thinks!  They had gotten to Racine a little early and spotted an ice cream shop near the starting line.  So we headed up there and I got a single scoop of Coconut Joy ice cream.  It was delicious and a great way to end the race.  All in all I'd have to say that if they are doing one of these runs in your area - sign up fast because they fill up quickly and they are a lot of fun.  Not surprisingly I want to do another one!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thankful Things Thursday: Post-race edition

I feel like a broken record when I express surprise that Thursday came so quickly but bear with me because the last couple of weeks have been quite the whirlwind!  Hopefully things will be back to "normal" soon and the arrival of Thursday will stop catching me off guard.  Right now though, it's time to put our Thankful pants on because it's time for another edition of Thankful Things Thursday!

1)  When I was little my parents would take us to northern Wisconsin on vacation and the phrase "gas gets cheaper as you go north" was uttered frequently.  This weekend it was true when Brenda and I kept driving and we found "cheap" gas - $3.68/gallon.  Considering I drove several hundred miles over the course of the weekend that was a welcome price.  Seriously in what planet did it seem like I'd be thankful for gas over $3/gallon?!

2)  The race that I ran this weekend was a chip timed event.  For those that don't know the chip gets attached to your shoe but at the end of this race they have to get the chip back.  There are some lovely volunteers who sit there waiting for you to cross the finish line where they will either cut off your chip (if you used the enclosed zip tie) or they'll untie your shoe and remove the chip.  Or in my case they'll do both because I didn't want to lose the chip!  Then they'll retie your shoe and you're on your way.  I loved that I didn't have to try to take it off myself and that I wasn't walking around with my shoe untied until I got to an area where I could tie it.

3)  Last year after the 5K we walked to Sweet Beans and got coffee.  By we I mean, Brenda (ran the 5K), me (walked the 5K), Dan, Mom and Dad.  Now, I'm big on tradition so when Brenda mentioned that we (me and her because no one else was there) would go back to the coffee shop after the race this year I was all over that.  Additionally we also continued the tradition of eating at a brewpub after the race too.  You really can't monkey with tradition!

Now I realize that not everyone ran a race over the weekend but I'm sure that you did something you're thankful for, right?  Ok, well go on and be thankful!  Whatcha got?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Yes, I did get a screen shot
from the interview!
I'll be honest, I was a little nervous about this year's 5K in Eagle River.  I was also tremendously excited!  I'm not sure which emotion was stronger.  This was the race that I'd trained for and I wanted to do well.  Spoiler Alert:  I set a new PR (Personal Record).  Another spoiler alert:  I wasn't happy with it.

I should have paid better attention to my Garmin who would have obviously told me that I'd gone out at the start way too fast -  nearly an 11:00 min/mile (that's about a minute faster than I normally run) but I was oblivious just trying to pass the walkers and not run over the children on the course.  There were a lot of kids running, which I think is great, but they don't have any idea about pacing (though apparently neither do I) nor do they realize that suddenly stopping in the middle of the course might mean that someone coming up behind them has to stop as well (or not if mowing kids down is acceptable to you).

Another shot from the interview
I like the course a lot because it's mostly flat but with just enough hill to make you want to make it your bitch but not enough that it could make you it's bitch.  I knew from last year that the water stop was essentially half way and that if I ran to the water stop then I could take the water and walk a little bit and then run the other half back.  That was my plan and I stuck to it, unfortunately, that's where the wheels came off the bus a little bit for me.  After the turn around I had no plan, other than to run.  This is the moment where I finally looked at my watch and realized that I'd been running for 27:00 and I was still .65 miles from the finish.  While this may not sound like a lot (and as I type this I could kick myself for not just running it) my longest run had only been 30:00 and I really started to doubt myself.

After the race, after the interview, after the coffee!
So, I walked.  I walked for a total of 5:00 during the 37:24 that it took me to finish the race (about 30-45 seconds were at the water stop) but I finished the race by running the last 0.4 miles including crossing the finish line because let's face it, that would have been lame to cross the finish line walking.  Especially since there was a reporter from Newsline9 there to interview me.  The walking part is the reason I was disappointed with the race because I had intended to run the entire way.  I know that with more training and time that I will run a whole race and clearly that'll be all kinds of awesome.

Regardless of a new PR, or walking or the fact that the guy who won the marathon then asked to be interviewed (sorry dude, I realize you just ran 26.2 miles and you SHOULD get all the camera time in the world) but the best part was that I got to spend the day with my amazing sister on a gorgeous sunny day in one of my favorite places in the world.  It was most definitely a good day!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Transformation Nation: THANK YOU

Dear Family, Friends, Friends of Family and Friends of Friends,

I knew when I found out that I was a Top 10 Finalist in The Dr. Oz Show Transformation Nation:  Million Dollar You contest that I'd be blogging every day.  There were a lot of things that I wanted to share about being on the show as well as asking people to vote for me.  I also knew that the last post of the week would be this letter but finding the right words has been a struggle.

I was very fortunate to spend the weekend in my hometown with family and I was reminded that this experience has been as thrilling for you as it has been for me.  Family, friends and complete strangers told me how proud they were of me and encouraged me to keep going to achieve my goal.  I cannot tell you how much each moment of each day, and each story, email, and instant message has meant to me.  Some of you made me cry happy tears and some of you made me laugh but I hope you know that each and every message will, forever and always, hold a special place in my heart.

I have no idea what will happen next but I know that I am proud to have come as far as I have and I look forward to whatever adventure is next.  Until there is more to share . . .

Much love,

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thoughts pre-race

I'm writing this post on Friday so you can read it first thing in the morning on Saturday.  I'm thoughtful that way!  :)  Today is the day that I've spent the last 8 weeks training for.  Today is the day that I'll see if I have what it takes to run 3.1 miles.  Today is race day.

Let's rewind to a couple of years ago when I started Weight Watchers, particularly when I switched to the 4:30 pm meeting and met Kim.  Kim is an avid racer - 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, marathons (right Kim?) even the Tower Climb and Hustle Up the Hancock don't even give Kim a moment of pause.  I honestly thought she was nuts - I thought I would/could never do something like that!  Fast forward a year to 2011 when I started walking in 5Ks and I still thought that I would/could never run a race.  Even the high from completing a race wasn't enough to make me think that I could run.  Then fast forward again to the end of 2011 and I realized that I was pretty much at the limit of how fast I could walk.  But I still wanted to do more races and get faster what would I do?

At that point my husband suggested I look into the Couch 2 5K program.  Still thinking he was crazy I checked it out and the more I thought about it the more I thought, "Hey, I think I can do this - I mean I can run for 30 seconds" and so it began!  I started training and then found an app to have on my phone called Learn 2 Run.  It's very similar but it only takes 8 weeks (instead of the C25K program that takes 9 weeks) to be ready for a race.  Plus, I liked that I had an app that would count down the time I had to run.  I mean I don't need to be running and then remember (or calculate) when I should stop running.  The app did all that for me!  Additionally it has more training programs to use - like 5K - 10K (which yes, I am going to start next week) so I was kind of in love with it.  The app also tracks the amount of time running, walking and total.  For those that know me you know that I love numbers/data so this is totally in my wheelhouse.

As I started running more I realized I wasn't crazy about my headphones - I always seemed to end up ripping them out of my ear and then I'd practically trip over them.  Yes, I'm graceful that way!  So I started programming my Garmin Forerunner to tell me when to run and for how long and I love that even more.  I get to completely unplug for an hour when I go running.  So I guess the lessons learned here is that I never thought I'd be running and I certainly didn't think I'd do it without listening to music but I do enjoy it and I definitely like the results when it's Tuesday at 4:30 (weigh-in time).

So, I'll go out today and run 3.1 miles in the peaceful and serene Eagle River, Wisconsin.  The best part is that I'll likely be smiling from ear to ear the entire time.  This is something that I honestly never thought I'd do or enjoy but I will tomorrow and I love the fact that I'm doing something that I doubted about myself before.

Do you ever have those moments where you've overcome something you never thought possible?  How did you feel?  Where did you find the motivation to do it?

If you haven't voted yet today (you can vote up to 10 times per day through May 13) please do - I will be eternally grateful!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Behind the Scenes: Good Day Chicago

Corey McPherrin, me, Anna Davlantes

I was nervous last night because I kept thinking that I had missed my alarm clock and was going to be late to my train and thus miss my opportunity to be on Good Day Chicago.  I think I woke up every hour to check the time and not surprisingly I was awake before my alarm went off.  I got up and showered, did my make up (seriously) and hair.  After getting dressed I had to go wake up Dan so that he could take a picture.  I'd asked Jen if I could send her a picture so she could tell me if my make-up was hideous.  She gave me a virtual thumbs up which I really appreciated.  Then I was out the door to drive to Rosemont so I could hope on the blue line to the city.  From there it was a quick cab ride over to the building where Good Day Chicago is filmed.

Again, everyone was super nice to me and that made me a little bit less nervous.  While I was in the green room (which wasn't green but that's where they told me to wait until it was time for my segment) I met the Celeb TV entertainment reporter.  She was making a gummy bear martini, I think because one of the RHONY women makes it and she's in town for a book signing.  I sort of wished that was going to be my segment and had I not had to go to work after the interview I might have had that drink - or at least those cute little drunk gummy bears!  The part that really put me at ease was the fact that she looked at my shirt and told me it was a great color for TV.  Seriously?  That made me feel good!

They told me that Corey McPherrin would be interviewing me and that I'd get to sit behind the desk - which lets face it made me feel pretty freakin' cool.  This time I remember more of the interview than I did when I was on with Dr. Oz so that's an improvement I suppose.  The only thing that threw me off was the question about Crohn's disease.  I really do know a lot about it, having lived with it for over 5 years but when I watched the interview I thought I sounded like a moron.  If you have questions about Crohn's post 'em in the comments section and I'll answer them much more informatively than I did on air.  Promise.

Soon the interview was over and then my dorkiness kicked in.  I didn't know if I should stay or go or what.  Turns out that they wanted a photo with me as much as I wanted one with them!  The Social Media Director took a couple of quick shots, Anna said I could come back if I win the contest and then I said good bye to everyone.  I'm not sure why I got all stressed out about the interview because it was totally fine.
As I was on my way home from work I got an email from my CSA.  I'd spoken with Farmer John (the owner/farmer for my CSA) yesterday and he asked if they could send out an email to their mailing list to let people know about my story.  What they sent was amazing!  I was not surprised by the email but I certainly was delighted.  They also posted a link to an old blog post I wrote about being a CSA shareholder.  I felt like a rock star.  :)

If you haven't voted yet today (you can vote up to 10 times per day through May 13) please do - I will be eternally grateful!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thankful Things Thursday: YOU!

Since I don't always post every day I didn't want you to miss my thoughts on the events last Thursday when I began filming for The Dr. Oz Show.  I also didn't want you to miss what I had to say about filming on Friday.  However, that was last week and this is this week and it's already Thursday but this week I totally knew it was coming and it didn't surprise me!  So, I say we should move on with Thankful Things Thursday.  If you're new to the blog then clicking on the last link will help you understand what the Thursday post are all about.  Now, are you ready?  Let's get thankful people!

This week I have one great big, ginormous thing to be OVER THE MOON THANKFUL FOR ....
The number of wonderful and touching emails, facebook posts, twitter messages and comments on the blog has been overwhelming.  I've heard from other people who battle weight, people who battle Crohn's, people who battle both and it helps remind me that we are not in this alone.  The outpouring of support has been amazing and I don't know how else to thank everyone.  There are multiple times a day when I am rendered completely speechless and even charming husband was shocked at that!  He didn't know which was more shocking the fact that I kept a secret from Friday until Monday morning or that I could be speechless.  :)  He says thank you for that, by the way!  

You are all an amazing support structure and I hope to make you proud.  As a daughter (and daughter-in-law), sister, and wife I knew I had support when I started this but this goes way beyond my wildest imaginations.  Regardless of how the show works out I am thrilled to be am ambassador for health and wellness and will continue to share my goofy stories with you.  

If you haven't voted for me (you can vote up to 10 times per day through May 13) please do - I will be eternally grateful! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Behind the Scenes Thoughts: Friday

I don't want you to miss a moment of my Behind the Scenes posts so if you missed my recap of last Thursday, feel free to pause now and go read them..  Today I'm going to share a little bit about my day on Friday (now that the show has aired I can finally talk about it!).  After another night of stressful sleep my alarm went off at 6:00 am.  I had planned to get up and shower and then order breakfast but when I finished showering and blow drying my hair I heard my phone ding with a text message.  The driver had arrived and was waiting downstairs.  Luckily, I had packed up my suitcase the night before so I just closed it up and headed out the door.

We were taken to 30 Rockefeller Center where The Dr. Oz Show is filmed.  I was slightly in awe of the entire building and everything that it holds.  We were taken to individual dressing rooms that had a couch and a couple of chairs and a TV.  My dressing room was across the hall from The Weather Channel Studio so I got to see some of the behind the scenes while they were not filming - and then I actually watched them while they were on-air.  It was so surreal!  A few minutes later I met with a few different producers.  They told us how the show was going to work - Dr. Oz would begin reading our story and that's how we'd find out if we were in the Top 10!  They said we'd then have 30 seconds to explain why we think we've inspired America or why America should vote for us.  They encouraged us to practice in our dressing rooms while we had a few moments.

Not wanting to get on camera and look or sound unprepared I took this advice to heart and began writing some notes and practiced reciting what I wanted to say.  Then I was taken to wardrobe, hair and make-up.  An amazingly talented group of people helped make me look and feel gorgeous for the show!  I started to get nervous while in the make-up chair so I just kept saying my "speech" over and over in my head.  Once that was done we were taken back to our dressing rooms for a few minutes and then we were taken into the studio where the audience was already seated.

All morning, I kept thinking to myself, if I'm in an aisle seat or near the front I've got a real shot at this!  When they escorted me to my seat my head started spinning - I was in an aisle seat in the front row!  Soon the show was starting and Dr. Oz was coming down the stairs and I got to shake his hand!  We watched as they filmed the first two segments and naturally I wanted to eat the pizza that he prepared on the show!  It looked really yummy!!  When the show breaks for commercials they play music and at one point Dr. Oz started dancing!  He's a really good dancer!

Finally, it was time to announce the Top 10!  As he began reading the stories my nerves came back in full force.  As he started reading my story I think I blacked out a little.  I couldn't remember what he read, I couldn't remember crossing the stage and I couldn't even remember what I said but I hoped it was pretty close to what I had practiced (thank goodness I did that!) and then I was standing in the truth tube next to the other finalists.  I was completely in shock!

Frankly, part of me still is!
Normally I post about my meeting and what I learned but this, in my opinion, is so much better.  I did however update the STATS bar on the left side.  I realize that you don't really know this because I don't post my current weight but people - I've broken out of having a weight in the 200's!!!!!!!!! (So much excitement and so many exclamation points!)
Hey Chicago area friends - if you want to see me on television again tune in to FOX Good Day Chicago around 8:15 am on Thursday.  Assuming there are no big news developments or something like that you'll get to see/hear from me, again!
As a reminder, the voting is open through May 13 and you can vote 10 times per day (tell all your friends!!).  Regardless of what happens I have already won my life back!  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all the kind words you have shared with me this week.  I have loved reading every single word because it's good to know that we are not on this journey by ourselves.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Behind the scenes thoughts

On Thursday morning my alarm went off at 4:15 am - much earlier than normal, even on days when I have an early conference call!  The reason?  I had a plane to catch at 7:20 am from Chicago to New York City.  While walking through the airport I passed a lady who was in a wheelchair being pushed by airport personnel.  I was immediately thankful that I was able to get around on my own and even welcomed the chance to walk a little before being cramped in the plane for a few hours.  The true irony was that when I got to the book store I bought the latest issue of Runner's World magazine.  Once I boarded the plane I sat down and comfortably fastened my seat belt (had to tighten it quite a bit!) and even put the tray table down with plenty of extra room to move around (I get a little squirmy after take off so that was good).  The realization that things have really changed was absolutely amazing and it made me cry a little bit.  For the record I blame the nervous sleep I got on Wednesday night for making me a sappy sally on Thursday!

After getting to my hotel I was whisked off to a wardrobe fitting at Lord & Taylor.  All the excitement I had from the airport/airplane kind of drained away and every insecurity returned.  Lord & Taylor?  In my head the store only sold small clothes - like 00 or 0 sizes.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to fit into quite a few pretty cute outfits.  This definitely boosted my confidence!

Soon it was time to head to the salon.  When I sat down with my colorist he asked what I wanted to have done with my hair.  I honestly had no idea because let's face it I'm not exactly the most knowledgeable person when it comes to fashion or style (I know you're shocked, right?).  I told him he could do whatever he thought would look good - I mean he's the expert, right?  He asked if I would mind strawberry blonde highlights?  I told him as long as I wasn't going to look like Strawberry Shortcake I'd be fine with anything!! So, he got busy and I pulled out my kindle.  Honestly there is really no better feeling (to me) than getting my hair done.

After my hair was colored I was moved over to another chair to have it cut and to have my make-up done.  This is where I thought I'd died and was living someone else's life!  With my hair curled and pinned and half my make-up done Katie Couric walked by.  Seriously.  After picking up my jaw from on the floor she asked me why I was getting all done up.  I told her that I'd lost a bunch of weight so I was going to be on The Dr. Oz Show as part of the Transformation Nation Million Dollar You contest.  She congratulated me and then went to get her hair done.  As she was leaving she stopped back by me and wished me luck on the show.  Honest to god this really happened and I couldn't believe it!  I only wish I had gotten a picture taken with her, even if my hair was not done and only half my face was on!  Oh well, I've already scrapbooked that moment in my mind!

Once I was all put together I was off to do some filming that will be used to profile the contestants (you can watch it on my voting page).  I got to use a bunch of the outfits that I was shopping for last weekend and the field producer and camera/sound guys were so nice to work with.  They were also funny and that really put me at ease because I was as nervous as I've ever been.

Since a lot of my weight loss has been because of my activity level, specifically my running they wanted to film me running.  Originally the plan was to film me outside but we were behind schedule and suddenly it was too dark so we did the next best thing and hit up the gym in the hotel.  While in full hair/make-up I ran on the treadmill for 2 mins at 6 mph.  It wasn't until we had started filming that I realized that 6 mph is faster than I normally run at home and I had no warm-up!  Thank god they got the shot quickly!!

If you haven't voted for me (you can vote up to 10 times per day through May 13) please do - I will be eternally grateful!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dr. Oz Transformation Nation Million Dollar You!

If you haven't already read from my twitter feed (@jenmcelroy) or aren't friends with me on Facebook (really, why not?) then this will shock you!  Last week while in New York City filming for The Dr. Oz Show I found out that I was in the Top 10 for the Transformation Nation Million Dollar You contest.  Now it's up to you guys - you have to go vote for me.  You can vote 10 times per day for the next week and I hope you will (and that you won't get mad at me when I repeatedly remind you).

So go here and vote for me and please tell your friends!  

Thank you so much for your love and support!  I've gotten so many sweet emails, facebook, twitter and text messages today that I am completely overwhelmed.  I'm going to put together some  post about my time in NYC... I promise cause I have some interesting stories to tell (at least I think they are interesting).

Please vote, early and often.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Transformation Nation

Remember a few weeks ago I posted about being in the Top 200 of the 1.2 million people who entered the Transformation Nation contest?  Well, in case you missed it, let's recap.  Last fall The Dr. Oz Show began a contest called Transformation Nation Million Dollar You and gave America 7 steps to living a healthier life.

A total of 1.3 MILLION people entered the contest and I advanced to the Top 50!!!!! (Yes, all those exclamation points were absolutely necessary!)  Last week I was in NYC to tape the show where they will announce the Top 10.  That show will air on Monday, May 7.  Please check your local listings - a quick search found these but please double check them and set your DVR or plan to watch LIVE!!

For friends living in the Oshkosh, WI area - FOX @ 3 pm
For friends living in the Arcadia, WI area - ABC @ 4 pm
For friends living in the Chicago, IL area - FOX @ 4 pm
For friends living in the Minneapolis, MN area - NBC-Kare11 @ 3 pm

If you know when it is airing in another area, email me (and I'll update the post) or feel free to add it in the comments.

You can also consult this link to find out when/where it airs in your area:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thankful Things Thursday: Randomness at it's best

Happy Thursday everyone!  The last several days have been crazy busy but that just means that it is time to get thankful in my latest episode of Thankful Things Thursday!  There are a lot of things to be thankful for every week and sometimes I feel neglectful by only including a few things.  I hope that it's at least the funnier things to be thankful for, things to make you think about what you're thankful for, or perhaps I'm just rambling.  How do you know?  Well, you don't... but here we go anyway.

1)  One of the things that has made the last several days really crazy was some shopping that I had to do.  I needed to buy new clothes but let's be honest, I'm kind of a shopping/fashion disaster.  I'm really trying to be better about picking colors (rather than black or gray), and clothes that are more form fitting.  I've been super lucky that my friend, Jen, is usually able to shop with me and tell me when I've gone off base but this time she was unable to go with me.  However, smart phones have allowed me to take a photo in the dressing room (which is always so flattering) and text it to people to get reactions.  Sometimes the feedback isn't what I'm looking for but it's really helpful to at least be able to eliminate the really bad choices.

2)  Completely changing gears but the next thing I am thankful for is grass fed and organic beef.  We have a beef guy (honestly, we do) who has a ranch about 20 minutes from our house and that man knows how to grow a good cow.  Dan made up a marinade recipe with bourbon (and some other stuff) the other day and then grilled it and I can't even tell you how delicious it was.  Cooking this type of meat is a little different than cooking your store bought beef but it has so much flavor and is totally worth the splurge in PointsPlus value.

3)  My day on Monday went like this:  bowl of oatmeal, conference call began at 7:50 am, five minute break for lunch around 1:30 pm, conference call ended at 6:00 pm.  Then I had to run out for some more shopping and I'd barely used any PointsPlus values all day (no snacks and minimal meals) so I had 12 left over when I got home.  I went in search of snack and found a few things to be thankful for!  I made a little sandwich with a bagel thin, smoked salmon and garden vegetable cream cheese.  I enjoyed that with half of a Boulevard Bully Porter.  The whole snack cost me 9 PointsPlus values and it was totally worth it.  In fact I was still full on Tuesday morning so I just had an apple for breakfast!

Ok, now it's your turn... tell me what you're thankful for!  Go on!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's good and it's bad

My weigh-in today was good, let me first say that.  I lost 2.2 pounds which is a lot, in my opinion, and I'm not really sure how it's happening.  The bad part is that I lost another point in my Daily Points Target.  I'm not really sure how to feel about that.  When I saw my doctor a few weeks ago she expressed surprise at the amount of weight I've lost between last November and now.  I can assure you (and her) that it is a safe rate of weight loss.  It's one of the metrics I check often!  

While losing daily points is slightly depressing (but in the "it's hurts so good kinda way") it's exciting to me to continue losing and getting closer to my goal.  But, finding creative ways to use my points so that I still feel satisfied continues to challenge me.  I love this plan and I continue to work this plan because I am able to eat well.  Steak and seafood find their way on our plates more often than not.  Delicious fresh vegetables are now a welcome addition to the table and we continue to look for new ways to prepare them to keep our tastebuds happy.

Dan has told me (several times recently) that I should probably be eating some of my activity points.  I tend to not eat them, not for any particular reason other than I'm not usually hungry.  There are some days where I do feel like I could eat the world, and I try to moderate that but on the normal day I just don't feel it and I don't want to consume food just because I have points left.  

And since I have no funny story to tell you tonight (honestly I wrote one and then read it and then realized it wasn't funny) I will share some funny photos with you.  We needed to take some photos of the two of us and we were getting a little frustrated with the results.  So, we had to shake things up ... We also have a whole new respect for our friends who are photographers.  

Walk like an Egyptian??
Deep Thoughts... or ... you know, my thoughts
There are no words for this one
See you all on Thursday for another Thankful Things Thursday!