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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is it worth it?

I know, I know, I know.... it's been forever since I last blogged (that wasn't a product review or a recipe) but I've felt slightly off kilter lately.  I'm not sure where to go with the blog now that I've reached my goal weight and I don't want to publish something for the sake of publishing something.  However, I've had this thought rolling around in my head since Weight Watchers launched this new routine this month.  I think that the question "is it worth it?" is so universal - not just in weight loss.

This photo is totally relevant - I swear!
Most of my thinking about this subject happens when I'm running and I want to quit.  I know that I've got a race on the horizon (just over 5 weeks away) so I know how important each training session is.  There are times when I am running that there is a voice in my head that tells me it's okay to quit or to walk a little while I catch my breath.  Then I think, is it worth it?  The answer is always yes, the run is definitely worth it.

I know that completing the half marathon will not be easy.  I mean, remember this photo?  Yeah, that part of the half marathon kind of sucked despite Barbara's best efforts to keep my spirits up and my feet moving.  I know that I will get to a point where I want to quit but I also know that I won't quit.  The only thing that will get me through those moments is the training that I am doing right now.  So yes, these training runs are worth it.  No matter how much things hurt or how tired I am I just have to keep moving.

Today I had a tempo run on my plan.  This meant I would warm up by running 1 mile, run 3 miles at a defined pace (8:47/mi), then cool down.  During the warm up I realized that my legs were already tired but I was hoping that the farther I'd get that they would loosen up a bit.  Luckily they did and during the first mile of the tempo pace I felt good.  About half way through the tempo mile I felt alright and when the third tempo mile started I could feel myself fading.  My Garmin kept me on pace but I kept thinking that once the tempo miles were done that I'd pause for a few seconds to drink some water and maybe even walk a little.  Then I thought... Is that really worth it?  All I had left was the cool down and I knew that as long as I kept moving that I'd finish sooner.  I just kept thinking that I'd run the next block and then do a head-to-toe check and figure out if I wanted/could continue running.  Turns out - I could keep running and I did keep running.  The feeling at the end of the run was amazing.

I looked back at my training to find out how long it took me to run 5 miles.  The first time I ran that full distance was when I was training with Team Challenge for the Rock-n-Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon.  The run took me 56:10 and today I covered the same distance in 44:53 ... yep.  Definitely worth it.

When do you question "is it worth it"?  Was it?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

RECIPE: Refrigerator Pickles

Is your garden overflowing with pickles?  Well, my garden wasn't but my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box was and so I've been making refrigerator pickles.  The recipe is ridiculously easy and they are so amazingly tasty that while I was slicing the cucumbers this morning I thought I should share it with you.

Refrigerator Pickles
Points Plus Value Per Serving:  1
Makes:  A LOT (serving size is about 1/2 c. pickles)

2 T salt
1/2 t. celery seed
1/2 c. white vinegar
1 c. Splenda
7 c. cucumbers
1-3 onions, depending on size and your liking
1 bunch fresh dill

Day 1:  Slice cucumbers and onions.  I use the mandolin to whip through slicing them.  This makes it go really fast and they are all the same width.  Put the sliced cucumbers and onions in a bowl (Mom used to use an old 5 quart ice cream bucket which was a good size) with the salt and set in refrigerator over night.

Day 2:  Rinse and drain the cucumbers.  Place the dill in the bottom of the ice cream bucket.  Add the drained cucumbers and onions and sprinkle in the celery seed.  Heat vinegar and Splenda until the Splenda has dissolved.  Pour over the cucumbers/onions.

Store in the refrigerator and stir through them every few days.  They will be ready for eating in one week and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

After a week I usually empty my pickles out of the bucket so I can start a new batch.  I just transfer them to a quart size jar and put them back in the refrigerator.  They are great as a snack or as a side on burger night.  Seriously, go make them now.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Product Review: Designer Whey Sustained Energy

Try a new (to me) protein source?  Yes, please!
Full Disclosure:  I was provided these protein powders from Designer Whey through my partnership with Fitfluential but, as always, all opinions are 100% my own.

If you've read this blog in the past couple of months you may have heard me mention how I've been increasing my protein levels.  One of the ways that I do this is by including a protein shake into my day and I am a HUGE fan of the Designer Whey products.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that when an opportunity to try a new kind of their protein shakes came that I jumped at the chance.

Designer Whey recently released the Sustained Energy protein powder.  The powders are described on the website as:
"... specifically formulated with our proprietary Endurance Blend™. Designed to give you balanced, stimulant-free, sustained energy through fast absorbing whey protein and slower absorbing soy and casein proteins, giving you a steady supply of essential amino acids while helping you control hunger with fiber.  Packed with 16 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 19 Essential Vitamins & Minerals and naturally flavored and sweetened – all for only 100-good-for-you calories!"

I received a can of the Chocolate Velvet and a can of the Vanilla Bean and was eager to try them out.  The first one that got cracked open was, of course, the Chocolate Velvet and I made my favorite shake.  Cold coffee, frozen cherries and chocolate velvet protein powder.  Normally this combo is a winner for me but with this powder the texture felt grainy.  I thought that maybe I just didn't blend it enough so I made it again the next day and blended it much longer but it still tasted grainy.  A few days later I opened the Vanilla Bean canister and made another shake but did not care for the flavor of the vanilla.

Not wanting to give up on the powder just yet I tried one more thing to see if I'd enjoy the Chocolate Velvet
.  I baked with it.  I found a recipe for chocolate zucchini muffins that used protein powder.  Being a HUGE fan of both chocolate and zucchini muffins I thought this would make a perfect combination.  They looked good going into the oven and made the house smell really fantastic so I really wanted to love them.  They turned out a little less sweet than I'd hoped but they were still a little tasty.  Dan liked them very much so this batch is all for him!

Based on the mixed reviews I'll likely stick with using the regular Chocolate protein powder for my shakes but would use the Sustained Energy for baking/cooking.  I'm going to continue playing with the zucchini muffin recipe once we have more zucchini in the house because I think it could be good.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Small Changes

I have a little golden key!!
This was not the original topic of this post but I felt that it was so super important that I had to write it.  This week we talk about the ripple effect.  When I joined Weight Watchers nearly three years ago (it'll be my anniversary in eight days!) one of the things that my leader, Karen, said to me really stuck with me.  Make small changes/set small goals.  Each time I'd ever tried to lose weight before I felt like I overhauled my entire life.  I changed everything I was eating, tried to work out like crazy, etc... and those things would work for a few weeks and then I'd give up because I was exhausted and I just wanted a cookie.  Or twelve.

This time, however, I made the small changes.  I started by just calculating and tracking everything that I ate.  I saw results at the scale and kept going.  I drank more water and focused on the good health guidelines and the scale kept moving, mostly in the right direction.  Until it stopped.  I kept saying I needed to add activity and a few weeks later I finally did by starting to walk on the treadmill.  The scale started moving again and I kept feeling great about the things I was doing.  I was walking farther, faster or sometimes both!  I was also bragging about these accomplishments which also helped motivate me to continue.

All of these small changes ripped into my weight loss.  In the time I've been a Weight Watchers member I have lost 215 pounds and tonight I received the most awesome of all the rewards.  Tonight Karen handed me the little golden key that means I am a lifetime member.  All because I made small changes which became lifestyle changes and just a part of my routine.  How amazing is that?!

What small change can you make that can make a big difference in a month?  A year?  Three years?