A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Back to Basics Challenge

Brooke: Not on a Diet

The lovely Brooke, over at Brooke: Not on a Diet, has started a challenge for the month of September to focus on getting back to the basics of a healthy lifestyle. Fall seems like a great time to re-focus, with the holidays coming up sooner than we realize. For me, the idea of focusing on the essentials is appealing because it will help me as I start this lifelong journey of maintaining weight loss. I hope I never assume I can just “wing it” – with my history and my relationship with food, I’ll have regained those 100 pounds in no time!

My goal for the month is to complete my first 10K and more importantly (or almost – pretty excited about the 10K) to get back to running after the 10K is over rather than resting on my  laurels.

Head over to Brooke’s page to join the Facebook group and get support as go through the month.

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Weigh in rituals?

Starting the week on Saturday morning

Starting the week on Saturday morning

 I find that “0” in the activity box really motivates me to get moving on the weekend! (My weigh in this morning was 165.4, within my target range. Yay!)

Even on Lifetime, where I am not weighing in each week, I find myself observing same rituals I’ve followed for the last 13 months before my Saturday morning Weight Watchers meeting. I wake up, get dressed in the lightest weather appropriate clothes I have (no jewelry or watch or anything) and weigh myself without my shoes on, just so I know what to expect when I get to WW. Thankfully, my scale has been very consistent – always 0.2-0.5 pounds above what I see at the WW center. I assemble my breakfast (steel cut oats prepped overnight, instructions below, with blueberries, cinnamon and vanilla stirred in; a couple of cups of fresh fruit; Splenda and sugar free hazelnut creamer in a little plastic container to stir into my coffee after I pick it up at Starbucks). I always stop at the Starbucks near the WW center to get coffee, not that I’ll drink any of before weighing in. Who would want that variable, right? I used to reward myself for being out on Saturday morning with a latte, but my lactose intolerance has progressed to the point that it is no longer an option. I need to try a soy latte out, but it honestly doesn’t sound that appetizing, so for now it is regular coffee but the Starbucks cup still feels like a bit of a reward.

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After I get my breakfast set up in my seat in the WW center, I go weigh in (shoes off of course!) and then settle in to read my email and the weekly flyer while I eat breakfast. I find it funny that even now that I don’t weigh in every week, I still dress light and don’t eat or drink anything until I have checked in at the WW desk. It’s a very ingrained habit after lots and lots of Saturday mornings.

The rare weekends that haven’t started this way always feel a little off. It’s very centering to start the week, having this routine first thing. It makes it much easier to haul myself out of bed so early on Saturday, knowing how much better I feel starting things off this way. Sunrises like this help too: 

Saturday morning sunrise on the way to Weight Watchers

Saturday morning sunrise on the way to Weight Watchers

What are your weigh in rituals?

Oh, the overnight steel cut oats: I really prefer the texture of steel cut oats to instant or quick cooking oats, but who has that kind of time? I did some prowling on the internet and came across a few different options, including the slow cooker (don’t need that much oatmeal!), soaking overnight without ever heating (too chewy for me-didn’t hit that oatmeal “comfort” vibe) and finally settled on this sort of par-cooking approach (makes about 3 cups; 4 points plus per cup):

3/4 c steel cut oats

3 c water

Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Turn off and remove from heat. Cover and leave sitting at room temperature overnight (I just move it to another eye on the stove). The oats soak up the water nicely overnight. In the morning, I put a cup of the oats into my plastic container with blueberries and cinnamon (maybe a little Splenda, depending on the day) and microwave for 2 minutes. After they come out of the microwave, I stir in a little vanilla and take the whole thing with me to my WW meeting. By the time I arrive (about 5-10 minutes), it is still warm and has that great oatmeal texture without having to cook it for 30 minutes first thing in the morning. I’ve used the frozen cherry berry blend from Trader Joe’s instead of blueberries and have also tried bananas with 1/2 tbsp PB2 – all fantastic and all just 4 points. My husband and toddler eat the rest of the oatmeal when they get up, but it does keep well in the fridge if you wanted to pack up the leftovers in the morning to use another day.

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Throw out the fat clothes!

Last week, my Weight Watchers leader asked me if I would speak as part of a “Success Stories” session in September. I’m happy to share about my journey if it would help others, especially since I remember feeling overwhelmed at the thought of losing over 100 pounds myself before I found other people who’d done it.  She gave me a list of things to talk about, many of which I’ve discussed here, like why I lost weight, what things I find helpful, etc. She also asked me to bring before pictures and old clothes to help really demonstrate how much I’ve changed. Old pictures I have and can certainly bring in, but I didn’t keep any of my “fat” clothes and I’m glad I didn’t.

Along the way, I gave myself non-food rewards for reaching weight milestones. These included things like earrings, a facial, a pedicure, etc. For my 50 pound celebration, I spent a couple of hours going through my closet and getting rid of everything that was too big. At 50 pounds down, I was finally ready to make the promise to myself (and the gift to Goodwill!) that I would not go back into those size 20 clothes. I gathered 10 bags of clothes that day and sent them out of my house. It was scary to get rid of that safety net, but I needed to demonstrate to myself in a concrete way that I was not going back.

I actually didn’t buy new clothes until I was 40 pounds down, both because I was wearing my old clothes too tight (I was really at least a size 22 and stretching my size 20 clothes to the max) and because I was self-conscious about wearing clothes that actually fit my new body. Now, I love buying new clothes to fit my new body although I’m still trying to figure out exactly what works.

All this is lovely and yay for me for believing in myself, but what am I supposed to show people at Weight Watchers? The only piece of my old clothes that I’ve kept is my wedding dress. A) That’s a little cumbersome to haul into Weight Watchers on a Saturday morning and B) I don’t emotionally want to show that dress in a negative light, because it is part of such a beautiful day in my life.

I did think of one other thing though. I can remember waking up one morning and wanting to do the sexy-woman-from-the-movies thing, where she casually puts on the man’s button down shirt to go make breakfast. Always so very gorgeous in the movies, right? My husband is 6 feet tall and not a small guy, so I thought I would pull that off one morning and picked his shirt up from the floor to wear out of the room. I was embarrassed and saddened to realize that it didn’t come anywhere close to closing around me. It was a very unfeminine feeling. 😦

I grabbed one of his shirts this week to see what things look like now. It more than wraps around me today!

Wow do things fit diffWow do things fit differently!erently!

Wow do things fit differently!

While I don’t have my own clothes, I do think I have a way now to demonstrate how much things have changed. I also have a picture I’ll bring in of me wearing a pair of my old size clothes over my workout gear from a day a month or so ago when I stopped in Gordman’s on a whim.

Tried on my old pants size on a whim!

I’m a huge advocate of getting rid of the safety net of your old clothes, but maybe keep one thing for your success pictures. 🙂

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Weight Loss Wednesday: Non-scale victories

Since I’m using this blog as a way to stay on track both with my training plan for the 10K and half marathon and with my weight maintenance, I thought it would be good to have one day to really think about the weight loss part of it so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Wednesday seems like a good time for that because of A) the nifty alliteration and B) Wednesday is Free Pie day, which is crucial to my weight loss success! Having a regularly scheduled indulgence like a piece of free pie (free pie has fewer calories, right?) makes it so much easier to stay on track through the week!

Today, I wanted to focus on non-scale victories (NSVs). These have been crucial to my mental well-being throughout the weight loss process and will be even more crucial going forward, now that I no longer get the reward of seeing the scale go down. I hadn’t really thought about non-scale victories until the lovely ladies, and one lovely lady in particular (Judy), on the Weight Watchers 100+ pounds to lose message board (community.weightwatchers.com, a great resource you don’t have to be a WW member to use) brought them up again and again. Judy would have a post each night asking for everyone to list their NSVs for the day, which was a lovely way to make us take notice of all of the kind things we were doing for ourselves and all of the little positive changes that were occurring, beyond a number on the scale. It really helped to keep things in perspective, particularly on weeks when the scale didn’t cooperate even though I’d done everything right. Taking note of non-scale victories really helps me to appreciate that this journey is about my overall health and well-being more than just a number on the scale.

Some of my favorite non-scale victories:

1. The first time on an airplane after I started to lose weight was a revelation! While airplane travel is not a truly comfortable experience, it was so much better when I didn’t completely fill (and over-fill) my seat.

2. The first time I had go around my grocery cart while it was in the checkout lane and realized I could now fit between the cart and the next lane without having to pull the cart back out of the lane in order to go around (if you’ve never had to do this, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about, but I was stunned when I realized what I’d just done).

3. The first time I was able to buy non-plus size clothes was huge. The day I was in the J Crew dressing room and realized I was a size 6, I wanted to cry (Easter weekend, 2013 – my husband was getting concerned at how long it took me to come out). I’m still stunned that I wear a small or medium (although interestingly, I still have an “overweight” BMI which says something screwy about either BMI or US clothing sizes or both).

4. Being able to zip up the boots my mom bought me for Christmas over my calves: Prior to losing weight, even the wide calf boots came nowhere near zipping on my calves, which was so very depressing. Now I can’t wait for fall so I can start wearing them again!

5. Being able to wrap a towel at the gym or hotel around my body without it gaping: Prior to losing weight, we had to use all bath sheets at home because that was the only thing would go around me and towels anywhere else didn’t come anywhere near covering me.

6. Going up stairs is so much easier now that I’m not hauling as much weight and have better cardiovascular fitness, although thanks to years of too much load bearing, you can still hears my knees creak and groan as I go up and down.

7. Jewelry fits differently: I’ve been able to take the extenders out of my necklaces, links out of my watch and I’m currently wearing my wedding ring on my middle finger because it is too loose on my ring finger. I will probably get it re-sized eventually, but this is secure for now and my husband is okay with it unless I start getting hit on a lot. 🙂

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There have been lots of little moments that have happened along this journey that have helped me to remember that the gains I’m making are so much more than just the losses on the scale. As I move through maintenance, I hope I’ll keep appreciating these little nuggets to remind myself that this is a journey I’m continuing, not a destination I’ve already reached.

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Working out as a working mom

**I will preface this with the caveat that of course all moms work and many of us, regardless of whether we work outside the home or not, struggle to make time to exercise.

This week and through Labor Day weekend, I’m on call at work, which means longer and more unpredictable hours than normal. It makes it difficult to find time to get fitness in, much less a specific training plan for running a new distance! When setting up my training plan for the 10K, I planned on this week being a repeat of last week, assuming I would have a hard time getting workouts in (especially the long run!).

A typical weekday in our house looks like this:
6-630: Adults up to take care of dogs, get breakfast ready, finish lunch packing
630: Toddler wakes up
630-7: Everybody eats breakfast, with lots of supervision at this point
7-730: Shower and get ready for work
730-815: Daycare drop-off, drive to work
815-4/6p: Work, with varying finish times for the day and during weeks I’m on call, who knows when I’m done
530-6: Daycare pickup
6-730: Dinner, bath time and precious playtime with the toddler
730: Toddler bedtime
730 onwards: Cleaning kitchen, laundry, prepping breakfast, lunches, clothes for the am

So where in this day do cross-training, strength-training and increasingly longer runs fit (assuming I can put the long run for the week in the weekend, hopefully!)? I think this is a big part of what makes it so hard for moms to make time for fitness. Our time is so short and our chore list so long, you really have to make yourself a priority to fit it in an already cramped schedule. I find it particularly hard as a working mom, already bombarded with messages about letting someone else raise my kid and guilt trips for being away from him, to go to the gym on a weekday when I know that time could be spent with him. I could go after dinner/bedtime/chores, but that means time away from my husband and he’s pretty important too. It’s all important and there is only so much to around. (I know lots of people get up super early to get it in but I am just not there).

So what can we do? Some ways I sneak things in:
– On days I can work through lunch, I can sneak out a little early to get a run in. I can walk over lunch, but I get way too gross and sweaty to try to run.
– I’ve done squats, lunges and other body weight exercises in my office in quick stretch breaks. It’s honestly my most reliable way to get strength training in these days.
– I frequently break my cross-training sessions into 20 minute chunks. It’s easier for me to make space in my day for 2 or 3 chunks than a big block of time.
– Find at home options that will work. I’ve done workout DVDs on the laptop while my husband watches TV, so we’re at least hanging out together. We also have some active Wii games that we do together, like Walk It Out (60 minutes tonight!) or Just Dance (my husband likes to pick the songs for me to dance).

I’d love any ideas anyone else for fitting things in! (Except waking up early, of course – I really don’t want to resort to that!)

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Run-iversary!

March 2013

March 2013 – Color Me Radd in Jackson Mississippi

One year ago today, I went for my first run.

My DH and son had gone out to Lowe’s on a “guy errand” one morning and I decided to get my workout for the day in while they were gone. Instead of my usual walk, for some reason I decided to try one of the Couch to 5K apps and see if how bad it would be. I couldn’t really imagine running at 250 plus pounds, but I was feeling brave that morning. After the first interval beeped, I was amazed that I’d managed to jog 30 seconds without dying! I’m sure it was slow and not attractive to watch, but I’d done it. I managed to finish most of the other intervals for that workout and was a red faced sweaty mess when I got back to my house, but the feeling of accomplishment I’d felt was beyond anything I’d ever experienced a workout. I felt like a rock star! I still feel like a rock star every time I finish a run, which I suspect is what keeps me coming back for more and helps me forget that first five minutes of every run where I hate it!

I was never very religious about following the three workouts a week prescribed by the C25K plan, but I did eventually get through them all, running at least once every week and repeating lots of the workouts where I needed it. I got brave enough to try out a treadmill for the first time (I was terrified of falling off and making a fool of myself) and to join the gym near my son’s daycare so I’d have somewhere to run when Omaha’s winters hit. I was so incredibly slow but I was technically jogging (even if it was only about 4 mph!). I still remember the first time I actually finished 20 minutes of running without a walk break. I decided to sign up for the 5K my gym sponsored for New Year’s Day and have run a few times a week ever since.

I’ve done three 5K’s so far, although I’ve walked for parts of all of them and would really like to get one under my belt where I ran the whole thing, just to prove to myself that I can. I’ve run on sidewalks, in parks, on a mountain, on a tropical island (Castaway Cay 5K!) and on a cruise ship and loved it all. I can’t wait for my 10K in a few weeks (my first race with a time chip!) and the Princess Half Marathon in February! I’m actually running with a training plan now, which just seems crazy when I think about where I was a year ago.

I still love the feeling of accomplishment I get at every run. I really feel like a super hero and am in awe of what my body can do now that I’m treating it with the respect it deserves!

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Online Advance Dining Reservations for Disney

This morning, I am officially 180 days away from arriving in Orlando for the Princess Half Marathon! I’m arriving Friday afternoon and my husband and son arrive Saturday. We’re all staying for the week after for vacation.

This was the first year we’ve used the online Advance Dining Reservation system. We’ve had our travel agent handle it in the past but she’s being flaky this year so I decided to handle it myself. If you think you’re going to eat a any Disney table service restaurants (i.e. those where you are seated at a table and the waiter comes to you to handle things), I would really recommend reservations as it can be really hard to just walk up and get a table.

The first step is figuring out where you want to eat. In years past, we had a daily park visit schedule planned based on the Extra Magic Hours to maximize our time in each park and based our restaurant choices on that daily schedule. This visit, we’ll be with my two year old so we’re expecting lots of Magic Kingdom time, early meals and lots of flexibility. We’ve traveled enough with O to know that you can never what kind of day you’ll have with a little one, so we have no expectations about what we’ll do each day. We made a list of restaurants based on ease of travel from the Contemporary Resort and toddler friendliness. Think about what your own needs to build your list, as everyone will have different things on their list. The Disney site has menus and descriptions, locations, etc plus there are lots of dining reviews available online.

Then I put my list in order based on what needed to be booked first (because as much as we’d like to, we can’t book them all simultaneously!). Things to think about: What reservation is hardest to get (like Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest)? What reservation is the most “can’t miss” for your family? What parts of your schedule are least flexible, where you have to have a certain reservation on a certain day?

Our list this year:
1. Be Our Guest: Really want to try it as we haven’t done it yet and it seems perfect for the PHM trip! I don’t expect O to want a picture with the Beast but I certainly do! I didn’t really which day we did it, as long as it was after PHM.
2. Via Napoli: This is second not because it is hard to get but because I wanted it for a specific date (Saturday night before PHM carbs, plus pizza and not overwhelming for my little guy since they’ll have just arrived).
3. Chef Mickey: Some sites list this as a hard to get reservation and I specifically wanted it the last night of our trip as a good send off for my guy. It is also at our resort which will be convenient since I’m sure we’ll all be tired after a big week!
4. Raglan Road: We wanted this on a weeknight and early so it would a little less adult than Downtown Disney can be on weekends in our experience. It may not the most 2 yr old friendly, but the bread pudding is to die for!
Our other choices were fairly easy to get and flexible, so I didn’t worry about prioritizing them: Tusker House lunch, Garden Grill, and Whispering Canyon.

Online reservations start at 6 am EST. At 450 central time I was sitting at the computer with a cup of coffee and the Disney site open. I’d logged in through My Disney Experience, confirmed that my son and husband were listed with me and that our resort reservation was linked so we could get the 180 days plus up to ten our stay following that. I also had my credit card in front of me for the restaurants I had that needed that to hold the reservation. Tip: Have everything (website, reservation info, credit card, coffee!) ready to go before the opening time if you have reservations that you need to get quickly!

I found the first restaurant on my list through the search box, entered the date I wanted, the time i wanted (either specific hour or a time frame like “dinner”) and the number in my party and waiting for the 6am EST (5am my time) opening, then clicked Find Table. Prior to the 6 am EST opening, if I clicked Find Table, I got a message saying it was “unable to access reservations information at this time”. This briefly had me worried that the online was system was down, but that message went away after we got past 6am EST, so don’t freak out if you see it! After 6am EST, I clicked Find Table and had a few times from which to choose.

Tip: If you aren’t seeing a time you like, try switching the time in your search field, either to “dinner” if you’ve selected a specific hour or to a specific hour if you’ve chosen “dinner.” For both Tusker House and Raglan Road, changing from the big group (lunch/dinner) to a specific hour got me different time options than I’d been offered previously (even though those times were also within the lunch/dinner time frame). I’m not sure why they don’t offer you all of the times available within a given time frame, but remember this as an option if you’re not seeing what you need. I ended up with 6 pm at Raglan Road by choosing the 6 o’clock hour when I’d been offered only 645, 7 and 730 by choosing dinner.

Click the time you want and you’re taken to a screen where you select which guests to include with the reservation. You cannot associate more guests with a reservation than you selected as members of your party on the first page, so be sure you get that right or you’ll have to start over. Then you enter your credit card information if that’s needed (for example, Be Our Guest and Chef Mickey). I’m glad I checked the “Remember this card” option because it saved me from doing this over and over with other reservations. The last step is to give your contact information, agree to the terms and confirm. It processes the reservation and then gives you a confirmation number. It is always a good idea to make note of these in case there are problems in the future. If, like me, you forget to write it down because your coffee hasn’t kicked in, that number should also be in the email you get and in the My Experience section of the Disney site.

In total it took me about thirty minutes to make reservations for over a week of our vacation. It got slowed down a little about two-thirds of the way through because it kept logging me out for some reason. It would still say “Welcome Jessica” at the top of the screen, but wouldn’t offer me dates for anything other than the first day of my stay (i.e. not the “plus ten”). When I would re-log-in, it would correct itself. I had to do this twice at the end of my bookings. Be sure to try repeating your log-in if things are acting odd. As an alternative, you can wait and call Disney Dining at 7 am EST and have them handle the bookings for you (407-939-3463).

I will say that while I woke up early and did this early this trip, it was primarily because we wanted to try Be Our Guest and knew it could be tough to get. For our other trips, we’ve booked much closer to our actual visits and had some really fantastic dining experiences, so you definitely don’t have to do the early booking and shouldn’t panic if you haven’t done it yet.

I kept notes on a notepad as I went along because I’m a very tactile pen and paper person when it comes to planning, but all of this is also tracked it your My Disney Experience page, which allows you to check from day to day in your trip to see what is booked. My husband and I also share a spreadsheet in Google Drive where we keep all of our info so can both make changes and notes and the info is always accessible online.

Hopefully this will help anyone working through this for the first time! That’s our last big chunk of planning finished, so now I just need to do the half-marathon training bit. Just a minor detail, right? 🙂

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Weekly wrap up: Runs, Disney ADRs and first run in a Sparkle Skirt!

Today has gotten off to a great, if very early, start. Today is my 180 day mark for our Disney trip for the Princess Half Marathon (I’m arriving Thursday oops! Friday! Husband pointed out that I was trying to give myself an extra day of vacation at Disney!), so I woke up early to make our Disney dining reservations. This was my first time doing all of the dining booking ourselves. For prior trips, we’ve had the travel agent handle it but since she’s been a little flaky this trip, I decided to do it myself. It wasn’t bad at all and I’ll probably put together a post about it later since I noticed some things I wish I’d known about before I got into the system. I did get everything we wanted (including Be Our Guest!) so I’m a happy girl.

For this week’s workouts, I had runs of 2 miles, 3 miles and 4.5 miles on the list. I feel like they all went really well! After last week, I had a goal of improving my consistency with both stretching and outside runs. Because of schedules this week (both my husband and I had lots of after work things requiring lots of shuffling for child care), I ended up doing two runs on the treadmill in the gym but really pushed my pace for both of them, finishing the two miles in 22 minutes and 4.5 miles in 51 minutes. I’ve been good about stretching though, including doing some plantar fascia stretches while I’m sitting here typing since I know my plantar fasciitis is going to flare up after running on a hard surface this morning.

I did my 3 mile run this morning outside in my neighborhood since I was already up early. It is nice to have finished my workout for the day before everyone else in my house is up! My neighborhood is hilly (nothing too big, but not a lot of flat stretches either) and a good chance to get some road/sidewalk running to get my legs used to that surface. It was my first run in my new SparkleSkirt and I have to say, I’m in love! It did not budge a bit and while the rest of me looked like a hot sweaty mess after the run, the skirt still looked super cute. I may need more of these!

My first Sparkle Skirt run - love it!

My first Sparkle Skirt run – love it!

It was already nice and humid this morning and I felt like I was going so slow! I ended up taking a several 30 second walk breaks, which I did not have to do last time I ran in my neighborhood. To my surprise, according to the GPS I finished my 3 miles in a little over 37 minutes! That’s over 10 minutes faster than last time I did 3 miles in the neighborhood, jogging the whole time. It is really true that sometimes a little walk break helps your pace overall apparently. I may need to consider factoring that in a little in my training and try one of those Galloway apps or other interval timer.

For cross training, I did 60 minutes walking Tuesday and 40 minutes on the stationary bike yesterday. I also did some push ups and planks this morning and squats and lunges while waiting for something earlier this week, which is at least a little strength training right? Definitely need to improve my consistency for that.

I’m on call at work next week and for Labor Day weekend, so my plan for next week was just to repeat this week’s training plan in case I couldn’t get all of the runs in. My next step up in miles will come the following week. I do hope I can get my runs in this week, but I never know what work will be like. I do know I’ll be doing almost all of those runs inside this week given the heat:

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Yikes! I really hope this settles down soon since I have a 5K on 9/6 (the Midnight Run) and my 10K on 9/22, both here in Omaha. I’m hoping this is just a last hurrah of summer weather after a relatively mild summer. Here’s hoping for a cool and lovely Midwest September! Have a great Sunday!

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Trader Joe’s Run!

This week’s topic at Weight Watcher’s was smart grocery shopping, summed up by a great quote: “If you say no in the grocery store, you say no once. If you bring it home, you say no over and over until it is gone.” Wise words that definitely make this journey easier. I know there are some foods I just have to pretend aren’t in my house or avoid bringing home all together.

Coincidentally, I’d spent my pre-WW waiting time making my list for one of my favorite grocery stores, Trader Joe’s. We have a Trader Joe’s in Omaha, but I only get there once a month or so since it isn’t really close to the house. My little guy had a haircut scheduled today near TJ so I was glad to stock up while I was over there and thought I’d share some of my TJ staples.

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They have a fantastic produce selection, but my favorite thing about the produce section is the large number of pre-prepped items they have. It is easier to eat healthy fruits and veggies when someone does the work for you! Today I got:
-peeled and cubed butternut squash (I’m addicted! I roast them in the oven with cumin or Cajun seasoning, sauté with salsa and kale as a quesadilla filling, & use in soup or chili.) *Confession: I bought 6 bags. I just put the other 5 away before the pic!
-chopped mire poix (celery, onions and carrots – very convenient for soups; I pick up a container anytime I’m in TJ and freeze it if I don’t have soup on the menu for the week.)
-peeled and roasted beets (great in salads)
-salad mix
-pre-chopped onions, shallots and garlic (again, freeze if I’m not going to use it quickly)
-gazpacho (Love! Fresh taste, 1 pt for a cup)

They also have a great pre-cut stir fry mix with peppers, onion, mushrooms, etc. We use the shredded kale and brussel sprouts a lot, especially with the diced pancetta they keep over on the cheese wall. All zero points (except the pancetta of course – that you should definitely use sparingly!)

I love the TJ brand of fat free Greek Yogurt (2 pts plus for up to 7 oz, 3 pts plus for up to 10 oz, Zero! Points for 2tbsp – which I do frequently in place of sour cream). I use the Greek Yogurt in place of sour cream, mixed with fruit for breakfast or dessert or to make a fantastic peanut butter pudding with 2 tbsp PB2 (powdered peanut butter – a staple in my house for 1pt per serving!), vanilla and sweetener.

In the freezer section, I like to stock up on their frozen berry blends (especially the Very Berry blend, which has cherries and makes a great cobbler/fruit crisp/oatmeal or ice cream or yogurt mix in) and usually have their sweet potato tots, veggie burgers and salmon burgers in my freezer.

One of my favorite things is to peruse the dips and salsas selection, which is extensive, low point and always fun. I keep the Spicy Black Bean spread around (4 tbsp for 1 pt) and Queso (3 tbsp zero points!), plus an ever changing rotation of other salsas and dips. Today I brought home the Reduced Guilt Guacamole (2 tbsp for 1 pt), roasted tomato salsa(0) and a red pepper-garlic-eggplant spread I’ve never tried (don’t know the points yet). I use this as dips with chips or veggies, sandwich spreads, nacho/quesadilla toppers or mix ins for casseroles and pastas. Very versatile, very low point and very tasty so far. I also really love the whole grain Dijon mustard from that section.

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They have a fantastic cheese wall and will happily let you exchange any cheese you find out you don’t like after you get home, which is awesome. I don’t buy much of their meat just because it’s rarely on my list at the time I happen to go by there, but they some interesting pre-prepped/marinated/etc options. Of course, there is the cheap and tasty wine as well.

Other things I’ve gotten before and enjoyed: can/box soups (esp the roasted red pepper, butternut squash and lentil soups) and sweet potato tortilla chips (great for black bean nachos). I’ve heard good things about their Better Than Peanut Butter light peanut butter product and the Ak Mak crackers, but I haven’t tried those yet myself. My little boy really enjoys the fruit filled cereal bars and yogurt drinks.

I really love that the store is small, quick to get through and has absolutely the best customer service. They will find anything for you, fix any problems quickly and always have smiles and stickers for my toddler. I definitely recommend stopping in if you pass by! (Completely non-sponsored post by the way – just love the store)

Today I have 40 minutes of cross training on the schedule and early to bed so I can get up early to book our Disney dining reservations tomorrow! I already have my new SparkleSkirt laid out for my 3 mile run in the morning. I’m planning on doing it as soon as I finish the dining. If I’m going to be up early, I may as well get my workout done for the day and take advantage of the Disney-vacation high I’ll have (hopefully) after my successful ADR session. I love starting my day with 6000+ steps on the FitBit right off the bat!

For my weekly weigh in, I was at 167.2, above my WW Lifetime cutoff off 166 (normal BMI for my height is 164, which was my goal weight and I need to weigh no more than 2 pounds above that to keep WW free). I didn’t have to weigh in today, but I definitely need to scoot that down before next month. I will look back over my tracker and watch my weight over the next week to see how things go.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

PS The updated blog look is courtesy of my fabulous husband, who tweaked things last night as we were hanging out at Village Inn on our date night, getting caffeinated before we went out to the drag show fundraiser we were attending for the evening. Thanks love!

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Recap: Commitment Day 5K January 1, 2013

I thought I would go back and recap some of the runs I’ve completed since starting running almost a year ago, in case they’re something someone else is considering. Plus, you can learn from my newbie mistakes! My first time chip run is coming up in a few weeks – so far, these have all been self-timed fun runs.

The first 5K I decided to run was the Castaway Cay 5K on our Disney Cruise and once I’d decided that I was going to do that, I set the goal to do four 5K’s in 2013. How hard could that be, right? I signed up for this run through my gym. I thought it would be a great way to start a new healthier year and I liked the idea of running in the inaugural event because it would give me more oomph to keep running it every year.

Thank goodness I had this scheduled or I may have fallen completely off of the running wagon! I’d dropped down to halfhearted jogs once or twice a week when suddenly it was mid-December and this run was in just a few weeks! I got back on the horse and started running more regularly, but definitely hadn’t worked up to the full 5K distance in training runs before the day arrived.

January 1st arrived and I bundled up as best I could to head to the gym. It was in the single digits in Omaha that morning and we had lots of snow and ice on the ground. At this point in my running life, I definitely didn’t have much in the way of running gear. I wore a pair of cotton leggings under sweatpants, cotton socks (that were thin and worn! my feet froze!) and my one long sleeved technical shirt I’d gotten on clearance at Target. I had a fleece zip up jacket from Old Navy and my gloves and ear warmers. With the exception of my freezing feet, this gear actually worked really well even at 8 degrees.

I rode a group bus from the gym out to the run site in downtown Omaha and chatted with a couple of very nice mother runners on the way. They definitely helped settle my first time jitters.

I made my first rookie mistake right off the bat in lining up for the start! Unbeknownst to me, I was in the very front of the pack. I honestly thought I was in the very back. Tip 1: Look at the course before the race and know which way you are going! Thankfully it wasn’t very crowded and I was able to shuffle quickly off to the side to get out of the way.

Waiting to start!

Waiting to start!

It took my feet over a mile to thaw out after standing around so long in the cold. Next year, I will definitely wear warmer socks or at least bring an extra pair of socks to layer over my running socks while I’m waiting around. Once we got going, I really wasn’t cold at any other body part (except for the few seconds I spent on the cold concrete after slipping in any icy patch! Tip 2: Be sure to watch where you are going when running in the winter, especially if you don’t have any added traction on your shoes!).

My only goal was to run as much of it as possible, knowing I wouldn’t be able to run the whole thing. I walked several times, including up a couple of gentle slopes, but ran a lot more of it than I was expecting, including the last little bit to cross the finish! I was so excited to have done it and even though my husband and son weren’t there to cheer me on because of the frigid temps, the member advisor who’d signed me up at the gym gave me a big hug and the women I’d chatted with on the bus were waiting for me and cheering for me! Tip 3: Runners are a really kind tribe for the most part and very willing to give support and advice, no matter where you are in your journey. I’m incredibly introverted, so actually speaking to those women I didn’t know was a hugely terrifying thing for me, but I’m so glad I did. They made it a much better experience for me. I’m hoping I can do the same when I tackle the Princess Half Marathon in February since I’ll be solo there too!

Finished my first 5K!

Finished my first 5K!

When we got back to the gym, I went to the locker room to get my keys and things and felt a bit like a rock star because the other women in there were so impressed that I’d gone out and done the 5K that morning. One woman said she’d signed up for it but ended up coming in to the gym to run it on the treadmill since it was so cold outside. That was a great idea, but I’m glad for me that I go to cross that finish line!

Finish time: 37 minutes (7 minutes walking, 30 minutes running)

Commitment Day 5K 2013

Commitment Day 5K 2013

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