A Little More Each Day

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

Happy Halloween!

According to my two year old, this is Halloween:

imageHe thinks Halloween is the name of this particular yard decoration we have and if someone mentions Halloween, he’ll tell you she’s at home. Very fun to see the confused looks on people’s faces 🙂

For the rest of us, Halloween is more like this:

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Despite my massive sweet tooth, Halloween is the rare holiday where I’m really not tempted to over-indulge (if my next post is post-binge remorse, you know I spoke too soon). Two years ago, I got a stomach bug on Halloween and even though it had nothing to do with candy, spending a night up sick leaves me without much of an appetite on Halloween since then. For a lot of people, this just represents the beginning of a holiday season full of temptations and a significant challenge in its own right.

Some things to keep in mind to get through it:

– It is just one day. Even if things get off track, pick up and move on the next day. With Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the other holidays to come, we have a tendency to celebrate on more than just the holiday itself, turning a day into a week or more than makes it harder to recover.

– Don’t buy the candy that is your particular “crack.” Buy things you don’t like or at least the things you don’t love. (No SweetTarts in our house!)

– Buy healthy snacks to hand out rather than candy. Pre-portioned bags of pretzels or Goldfish crackers help with portion control if you have any leftovers and can be healthier choices. I’ll also say that as a mom, more substance and less candy would be better for my kid too. 🙂

– Pack the treats you are going to distribute up into baggies and seal them shut. In order to snack, you’d have to take the extra step of opening them up and potentially unbalance them (totally unacceptable, right? Or I am the only one that compulsive?).

– Getting non-food items to distribute like temporary tattoos or bubbles or Play-Do would also help with the temptations you have in your house (and again, appreciated as a parent!).

– Plan extra activity during the day to allow yourself a controlled amount of whatever your favorite is. Just be sure to choose something that is worth it!

– DO NOT starve yourself all day to save up calories/points for candy at night. If you go into this hungry, it is much harder to limit what you eat.

– The next day, start getting rid of it. Throw it away, take it to work, mail it to the troops, take it to a local dentist who is doing a Halloween Buy Back, whatever – just get it out of the house. Ours goes to work the very next day and starting next year, we will probably start mailing it to the troops so we can get O involved in the habit of sharing his candy rather than keeping it all. No kid ever really needs that much candy, any more than this mama does!

Is Halloween candy a temptation for you? Any other tips for getting through the night?

My little part-time fireman. We'll see if he wears any of his costume tonight! There's a fireman hat, but so far he prefers his fedora.

My little part-time fireman. We’ll see if he wears any of his costume tonight! There’s a fireman hat, but so far he prefers his fedora.

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Weight Loss Wednesday: Challenging Times of Day

At my Weight Watchers meeting last Saturday, the official topic of discussion was “Beating Late Night Eating.” When our leader asked how many of us had trouble with late night eating, almost everyone (including me) raised their hand. However, when she went through and asked how much trouble it was on a scale of 1-5, it became clear that while late night eating was something we could identify as a problem, just as many people, if not more, considered the 3-5 pm afternoon period as their hardest time. (Part of that may be affected by the fact that it is a 7 am meeting – clearly not a bunch of super late night people)

I found it really interesting to listen to people to discuss when their hard times came and what they thought could be the triggers, because it is clear that almost all of us had a “red flag” time period during our days where it was really hard to stay on track. It was also clear that the reasoning for that trigger time was remarkably similar, even when the time of day was not. Many of us talked about stress, either during the work/home transition time (with errands, school pickups, etc) or at night after the chores were done and  a thousand worries have space to percolate to the top of your mind (definitely my issue!). Many also talked about emotional associations with food and certain times of day, from “cookies and milk” or other after school snacks from childhood to a ritual dessert or snack while watching TV at night. There are clearly lots of ties between certain routines in our lives and mental triggers for eating dysfunctionally during that time.

I’ve had trouble with both night time (as discussed previously here and here) and afternoon transition-time eating (here).  Just yesterday, I had to go down to a reception at work at 2 pm, complete with cake and punch. This was stressful for me because it was somewhere I was expected to socialize and network and that is honestly something I just suck at. I get so paralyzed with social anxiety and just want to stuff my face so I have something to do with my hands and my mouth other than meet people. In this case, I didn’t stuff my face – I just ran back to my office with the excuse of work I needed to finish. I did stop to get myself a drink before heading up to my office and was faced with my old 3 pm friend:

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Countless afternoons have spent shoving coins to this machine, oh so optimistically labelled with its “healthy choices”. The problem is that the healthy choices sit next to the chocolate. Chocolate always wins in the middle of the afternoon.

So if this is a problem so many of us share, how can we fix it? Finding different ways to deal with the stressors that predispose us to overeat during those times can be really helpful. A journal or food diary can help you track what you’re eating and what you’re feeling during whatever your “red flag time” might be and may help identify patterns, especially if you’re not sure exactly when it is that your day goes off the rails. Things that also help me are changing my environment, by getting out of the room with the food or out of my house, especially if I can get out for a walk or a run. Sometimes just closing the door between me and the kitchen is symbolic enough to help. It also helps me to find something healthier to do with my hands, whether it is writing or cleaning or making a cup of tea or coffee. *Side note: Just tried the chocolate glazed donut coffee from Dunkin Donuts and it feels like dessert! Seriously yum!

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Another thing that came up in the meeting is that many people are so rigidly controlled with their calories/points early in the day that they haven’t eaten enough by the time mid-afternoon or evening or whenever their trigger time is hits. This honestly is not something I’ve noticed as a problem for me, but it may have been at the beginning. I do know that if I eat something particularly carby for dinner, that late night period is a lot harder for me. WW and others would say that is because the carbs provide less long term filling than something with protein and to a certain extent, I think that is true for me. If my after dinner snack is Greek yogurt, I’m less likely to go off the rails than if I have a cookie (even if they are the same points/calories). Of course, it may also be that cookies are something my brain associates with countless prior binges in my pre-weight loss days. Greek yogurt has zero associations with my pre-weight loss days as I could never imagine enjoying it in the past!

Lots of people also mentioned the idea of rewarding themselves for surviving a tough day of work/parenthood/existence and we so often associate rewards with food that I could definitely see this as an issue. Coming up with non-food rewards is crucial not just for surviving late night temptation, but also for forging a healthier lifelong relationship with food. So many of our celebrations in life center on food (particularly appropriate comment during Halloween week!) and it can be a difficult shift in mindset to build new traditions and new celebrations. I don’t think it is something we as a society can (or necessarily should – I love to feed people!) completely avoid, so learning how to handle those rewards is also really important. I try to have a couple of planned reward / celebration type foods throughout the week so it is easier to put off that urge for cookies or cakes or whatever when it hits at night. If I get through a bad day, I can tell myself that Free Pie day is only “x” days away or I have my latte waiting for me on Saturday morning and that helps a lot. It is a lot easier to say “not right now” than “never” – trying to say “never” when you feel like rewarding yourself is almost guaranteed to backfire.

Do you have a certain time of day that is harder to get through? How do  you deal with it?

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Recap: Running a color race (March 2013)

I crossed Mississippi off of my states to run list back in March 2013, for my second official 5K. I was visiting Jacksonville for the weekend to participate in the Sweet Potato Queen weekend activities with my sister. I cannot really begin to explain the Sweet Potato Queen weekend thing, except to say that it is very Southern and based on a series of humor books by Jill Connor Brown. My sister has participated for several years and spends all year planning her costumes for the parties and the parade. As it means a lot to her, I’d agreed to come along and join her this year. It was fantastic people watching and I did really enjoy throwing out beads and flashy rings to the kids on the parade route. The kid in me still loves a parade. 🙂

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My Sweet Potato Queen parade outfit – like I said, hard to explain

It just so happened that the Color Me Radd 5K was going to be in Jacksonville that weekend as well and by that point, the running bug had bit enough that I was actually looking forward to the color run more than any of the other weekend events! I signed up with the goal of running the entire thing. After doing some Googling about Color Runs, I’d gone to Target and picked up a white shirt to run in on clearance, so I didn’t ruin one of my other shirts. It was a little cool, so I planned on wearing some of my black Old Navy active wear pants, figuring if all of the color didn’t wash out, it wouldn’t be that noticeable. Tip 1: The color will show up better on white clothes if you want cool post race pictures, but don’t assume you’ll be able to wash it all out when it is over! Don’t put a nice shirt through this!

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When we showed up that morning, it was a madhouse! There were tons of people there and even though we’d been assigned a starting time when we registered, there were just having people get in line in the start corral and sending us off a bunch at a time. There were so many people in line to start (and the start/finish was at the same place) that the finishers were actually running up into the line of people waiting to start when they came around!

When you picked up your run number and t-shirt at registration, you were also given a bag of colored powdered to throw during the race. They also gave you a pair of cheap sunglasses to wear during the run, which I appreciated to keep things out of my eyes! While we were waiting in line, people were already throwing the bags of colored powder around so it was like a multicolored tsunami. I don’t think I’d recommend a race like this if you had allergies / asthma that was easily triggered by airborne irritants.

If you look closely, you can see it is still stained pink months later!

If you look closely, you can see it is still stained pink months later!

I’d learned from my first 5K and lined up over to the left as I was planning on running, but didn’t really worry much about where I was in the pack as there were thousands of people in line waiting at that point. When it was finally our turn to start, I was excited to take off running and actually had my first experience with having someone on the course to cheer me on! My parents were there for the parade festivities for the weekend and had come along to the 5K, so they were there at about a quarter mile in to cheer for us. The course took us through a quaint part of downtown Jacksonville and then through a very cute tree lined residential neighborhood. There were several stops along the way with color bombers – way more than I was expecting! Each station had one or two colors and you would run through while they threw colored powder at you or squirted you with colored liquids. I was really surprised by the liquids! Tip 2: Either don’t bring your phone or put it in some kind of plastic/protective covering. The dust and especially that colored liquid is not great for your electronics!

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This is an untimed fun run, which I run, but I was taken a little off guard by how much some people got into the “fun” part of it. I came across lots of people who were stopping to play in the color stations (and some even rolling around on the ground in the colored powder!). Tip 3: Be careful as you’re navigating the color stations. Even if you aren’t interested in getting through particularly quickly, you could easily trip over someone playing. Also be careful at the end, where some of the finishers get really excited and aggressive with the extra bags of color they have around there to throw – there were kids throwing entire bags when I finished!

They had water for us on the course as well as a snack at the midway point, which was nice. There were a couple of small hills which I walked up but I was able to run the rest which was really exciting! I finished in 33:45 minutes, a new personal best and had a blast! I’d definitely recommend a color run for fun, but maybe not if you were interested in being particularly speedy. The pink color definitely took the longest to wash out and the shoes I wore for that run still have a pink tinge 6+ months later.

March 2013

March 2013

Have you done one of the color runs? There are lots of different series that do this and I’d be interested in experiences with other groups!

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Favorite Recipes: Skinnytaste’s Chicken Taco Chili

I was working this weekend, so before I headed out I quickly put together one of my favorite slow cooker recipes. This recipe is quick, easy and very tasty. Even better, you wouldn’t realize it was healthy! This recipe is from one of my favorite sites for healthy/Weight Watchers-friendly recipes, www.skinnytaste.com. I can’t think of any recipe I’ve tried from Gina’s site that my family hasn’t enjoyed, including my non-WW husband. Unless I make adjustments to the recipe, I usually trust her calculation of the points as they’ve always been correct on the recipes where I did double check the calculations.

Here’s the original recipe and link to her awesome site, with my adaptations noted in italics.

Skinny Taste Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Chili

Servings: 10 • Size: 1 1/4 cups • Old Points: 3 pts • Points+: 5 pts
Calories: 203.7 • Fat: 1.4 g • Carb: 33.3 g • Fiber: 10.0 g  • Protein: 16.9 g

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 16-oz can black beans – I drain & rinse these to decrease the saltiness.
  • 1 16-oz can kidney beans – I drain & rinse these to decrease the saltiness.
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 10 oz package frozen corn kernels – I usually use either the Trader Joe’s roasted corn or our own grilled roasted corn, but have used plain corn or even canned corn (drained).
  • 2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies – You can control the spiciness of this dish a lot here. Most grocery stores offer mild, medium or hot versions of Rotel-type diced tomatoes with chilies, so play around with this to suit your taste.
  • 1 packet taco seasoning I omit the taco seasoning because it can be very salty and the cumin because my husband doesn’t like it
  • 1 tbsp cumin – Omitted, see above
  • 1 tbsp chili powder – Since I omit the taco seasoning and cumin, I bump the chili powder up to 4 tbsp.
  • 24 oz (3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • chili peppers, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

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Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. I always put the chicken on the bottom and everything else on top, but it probably doesn’t matter. I also give the slow cooker a quick spray with Pam/cooking spray first. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. In my slow cooker, I usually do 8 hours on low with no problems so your time may vary depending on your cooker. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. I find that the chicken breasts fall apart very easily when I stir things around in my slow cooker without having to pull it out of the cooker to shred it. Top with fresh cilantro.

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We’ve eaten this chili on its own, on nachos and this week, as a topping for roasted butternut squash:

image(Topped with Greek yogurt and some Trader Joe’s queso)

This would also work well in a taco salad or as a burrito/enchilada filling. My favorite thing about it is that it literally pulls together in 5 minutes with ingredients I usually have in my pantry/freezer anyway. I absolutely love coming home at the end of the day to smell a dinner that is already cooked for me.

What are you favorite sites for healthy recipes? I’d love so new things to check out!

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Weekly Wrap-up: Started with a bang, ending with a whimper

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My week of workouts started off so well, with some gorgeous runs in Rhode Island, but things really fell apart once I got back home between a nasty cold and work. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t get in all of my planned workouts.

Workouts for the week

2 mile run (or cross train): Monday evening in a Rhode Island, including my fastest mile yet! The second minute clocked in at less than 10 minutes! So exciting!

3.5 mile run: Tuesday morning in Rhode Island, with absolutely gorgeous fall New England scenery. I’m so glad I got to go out to see the town of Newport!

Rest day Wednesday: After running around airports and then scrambling to do the shopping, unpacking and cleaning up once I got home, I just couldn’t make myself work out.

3 mile run: Thursday afternoon, the first of my real cases of “runnus interruptus” this week. I was trying squeeze in my run between work and picking up O for his fall festival at school (he borrowed my sunglasses for the ride home because he was such a cool dude) and I’m just not fast enough to get it all in! I did 2 miles on the treadmill between work and the festival and then hit the road in my neighborhood after we got home and got O in bed to get my last mile done. It was hard to get back out there! And chilly!

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3.5 mile run: I intended to get this run in Friday evening, but I only got half of it done before I got a thirty+ minute phone call for work as I was on call. By the time that finished, I had to get to daycare and start the home routine. I just couldn’t make myself get back out a second night in a row, not with coughing and a sore throat. I decided to just call this my second cross training of the week (not that it really was) and try to get the longer run in over the weekend.

Saturday: Foam rolling my tight left hamstring and stretching

Sunday: Ended up with a 46 minute walk rather than running the 3.5 miles I intended to make up for Friday. A) I, the girl always repackaged her gym bag, didn’t have a sports bra and B) a minute into trying to run on the treadmill at the gym in a normal bra (can’t imagine how that would have gone) I got called by a friend whose father in the ICU working through end of life decisions. In no way can I run and console simultaneously, so I just walked while we talked. Some things are more important than a workout and being a good friend took precedence. I was feeling bad about taking the time away from my boys as I’d been working all weekend and O ha a fever, so I think the universe was just conspiring against this workout.

So, I shorted a workout. Maybe the powers that be thought I needed an easy week to recover from this cold. I cannot wait until tomorrow night – off call, so I can take so e NyQuil or Benadryl to dry things up and get some sleep!

For next week, I have two 3.5 mile runs, 40 minutes cross training, 2 miles run or cross training session and a long run of 5 miles on deck. My schedule is clearer (barring O’s cold getting worse and requiring time off work) and my cold should turn the corner soon. I also need to get back on the wagon with my little strength training routine. On the plus side, my weight was down again so I didn’t have to pay at Weight Watchers this week.

I hope your week was a little more on plan than mine! Still, this is real life and bumps in the road happen. We just keep on truckin!

Good luck resisting those Halloween temptations! Enjoy the trick or treaters!

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A hate-love-hate affair with treadmills

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My interest in running on a treadmill has definitely waxed and waned over the last  year. I was actually terrified of treadmills to start with, as evidenced by this little blurb on SparkPeople from July 31, 2012:

“Yesterday, I decided to go visit our local YMCA to see what their work out options were. I like the idea of all of the classes and somewhere to work out inside would be nice when winter hits (Midwest = loads of snow & me crashing & falling!). I was hoping they’d have an indoor track and was disappointed to see they didn’t. I started on an elliptical, because those I find pretty easy to operate and have played with them before. The whole time I kept glancing at the treadmill, really wanting to get my couch to 5K intervals in, but afraid of looking like an idiot in front of other people. You see, I’ve never actually used a treadmill. I tried once in college, but couldn’t get past the controls asking your weight and starting speed, etc, without getting confused and frustrated and feeling like everyone was staring at the fat girl who couldn’t operate the exercise equipment.

Finally, I made the jump (elliptical was harder on my legs than I expected and I wanted to have the energy to get a jog in later!) to the treadmill. It was easier than I expected! I just had to push go. I had a little trouble figuring out exactly what pace I moved at and adjusting that I was went, but I did it! I did my jogging intervals (even up to 90 seconds twice!) and by the end, was walking confidently to finish my work out. It was fun and I felt like I accomplished a lot! Best part is that I was able to do all of my jogging intervals without quitting early and that I didn’t let the exercise equipment intimidate me! Yay me!”

After getting over the terror of the first time, I found myself defaulting to the treadmill more and more. I didn’t have to think as much about how fast I was going or where I would run. It was a little easier without incline and with the belt helping along. Plus, it felt like lower impact on my feet. However, running indoors on the treadmill presented me with a rude awakening when I realized I would actually have to run outside for my first 5K! It is harder to run outside, physically, and it is also harder for me to breath in the cold air (I get a little laryngospasm from breathing the cold air!). After that 5K, I spent most of the next 6 months running indoors and didn’t really get back into the habit of running outside until I started 10K training. At that point, I made myself starting running outside more because a) the 10K and the half marathon to follow would be on pavement and I knew I needed to train on the surface I’d be racing on and b) knowing that the treadmill is a little easier, I knew I needed to work in more road running to really build my endurance and form if I was going to be a “real runner”.

Once I started regularly running outside, I got hooked! I realize now why people dread having to run on the treadmill so much – running outdoors in the fall is breathtaking in the best possible way.

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I’m going to hate giving that up when winter really starts to hit Nebraska, but I know I’ll need to limit some of my running outdoors when it gets snowy/icy just so I don’t risk hurting myself. Ideally, I’d like to at least get my long runs in on the road rather than the treadmill through winter (and am researching what cold weather gear I’ll need to make this work). I am grateful that my gym (Lifetime Fitness) has a ton of treadmills so I’ll always have a place to run and won’t miss out on my training when it gets cold. I’m looking at a treadmill run this weekend because I’m on call (can prop the phone up so I can see it rather than relying on my ability to hear it over my heavy breathing when I run outside), but am glad now that I’ve learned to mix it up more and embrace the different running surfaces.

Anyone else a little afraid of the treadmill to start with? I saw a poor woman fall off the treadmill when I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago and my heart just broke for her because I was always terrified that would be me. I haven’t fallen off of one yet, but I’ve dropped many a towel and my headphones and other things that then go flying off the back!

Wishing you all a happy weekend!

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All hail the “unnatural” runners (myself included)

Kevin Helliker wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal in September 2013 (“The Slowest Generation“) that generated a lot of attention in my Twitter and Facebook running circles a few weeks ago. In this article he questioned “the endurance-athletic chops of the young” (his description of the article in his follow up), bemoaning the fact that there were so many <50 year old runners who didn’t seem concerned with winning races or being fast. He followed this up with “The Slowest Generation Strikes Back“, a not particularly apologetic follow up that describes some of the feedback he’d received from younger runners in response to his original post. The section that stood out for me is the last paragraph, describing a 31 year old woman who had lost 100 pounds, run a marathon and founded a running club. She pointed out that the pace that seemed mediocre to more experienced or naturally inclined runners felt like competing to her.

This made me think of an article I’d read where they interviewed the winner of a marathon (I swear this was the Omaha marathon, but now can’t find the article) where he said that what really impressed him at these events weren’t the people like him, who finished quickly thanks to natural ability and training, but those who struggled and spent hours longer on the course before they could finish. He was impressed with the drive and perseverance of those of us who aren’t naturally gifted runners or athletes, but who tackle these challenges anyway. I loved seeing that someone out there who wasn’t “one of us” got it – got that it was an athletic endeavor for us, maybe different than it is for elite runners, but significant nonetheless.

I’ve struggled a lot with the idea of being an athlete, but the longer I run, the more respect I have for myself and the task I’ve set for myself in running a half marathon. I enjoy reading about the runs of speedy runners (they come across the coolest running related gear & toys) but it is the stories of “unnatural” runners like myself that I find the most inspiring. This month, I’ve read a couple of great ones: Disney with Children’s Tower of Terror 10 miler recap; Running Happily Ever After’s “Why Buzz Lightyear and I are on the WSJ Sports Page” and possibly my favorite 5K picture ever here.

Part of my attraction to Disney for my first half marathon was the idea that they embraced the people like me, who will come in late in the race but will come in because we’ll fight for it (and if we don’t make it in, we learn from it and come back stronger next time!). It makes me sad to come across people like the Wall Street Journal reporter, who can’t seem to imagine that the effort I put in for my miles is just as worthy as his, but mostly it makes me sad for them because they’re missing out on a really inspiring community of runners.

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Related articles you might find interesting:

Disney’s Balloon Ladies Sweep up the Stragglers

Princess Half Marathon: Close Encounters of the Sweeper Kind (I found this so inspiring when I was having those terrified “What have I done!” thoughts right after I signed up for PHM!)

The Incredible Shrinking Krista’s PHM Recap

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Grateful for the things running lets me see . . .

*Late post today because I never hit publish when I wrote this! Sorry! Not that anyone is holding their breath wondering where it was (except maybe my husband)

I’ll spend Wednesday night and Thursday catching up at home and work after being out for a few days, but for now I want to take a few moments to be grateful for all of the things I got to see on this trip that I would have never seen if not for the changes I’ve made in the last year. Not only did I see the gorgeous Cliff Walk and mansions, but I also got out to walk around town during the day and in the evenings in a way I never would have before. In the old days, I would have maybe crossed the street for pastries at Panera, but that’s it. Otherwise, it would have been movies and room service in bed in my hotel room. Now that I a) am more familiar with the towns I visit because I run in them and b) am more active in general so walking half a mile to dinner doesn’t seem daunting, I get out to see a lot more of the places I visit for work. Newport was beautiful and absolutely deserted for the most part this week. I’m glad I had a chance to visit!

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My favorite sight was this one, when I got home:

image*Extremely grateful that he thinks a hat and mittens are fun as the cold weather has arrived in Nebraska!

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Weight Loss Wednesday: Need to remind myself of some NSVs!

After two weeks in a row above my weight cut-off (although it is decreasing), I thought it was a good idea to remind myself of the non-scale victories I’m racking up. These are the things that help me remember that I’m on the right track, even when the scale isn’t where I’d like it to be (well, where Weight Watchers would like it to be, which is an entirely different thing, isn’t it?).

– Not only can I now wear my wide calf boots that my mother bought me last Christmas (before losing weight, I couldn’t even wear wide calf boots), I can wear them over a pair of boot cut jeans:

imageI know it would be more appropriate to wear them over skinny jeans if I’m wearing them outside, but all I own are boot cut jeans. 🙂 I have worn these tons while I’ve been in Rhode Island, with skirts and jeans, because nothing seems more appropriate for fall in New England than boots.

– While I still have a little bit of a fat deposit/double chin, there is also a hollow under my chin now. Any time I find a new hollow in this new body, it’s exciting, but in this particular instance it also means I need to do a better job applying face cream at night as I can no longer count on my facial fat to fill out my wrinkles. Sagging on my belly and thighs is one thing, but my face is something altogether different!

– Before I left town, I realized I could pull my size 6 jeans on without unzipping them (prompting my husband to express confusion that I could possibly be “overweight” per BMI – love that guy).

– While in San Francisco earlier this month, I went to Chinatown and realized that for the first time I could actually in the gorgeous silk clothing they had:

Japanese RobeI didn’t get anything, but it is nice to know that I could have if I wanted. In the past, i was far too heavy for the biggest thing they carried!

– I can’t believe I didn’t mention this in my post about my great long run on Sunday, but I actually passed another somewhere between miles 3 and 4 of my run. I am firm believer in competing with yourself more than any other runners but this was the first time I was conscious of passing someone else. I noticed her running up ahead of me on the street and realized after a while that I was gaining on her. I got close to her and realized I was about to pass her, which freaked me out a bit mentally. I’m not fast! I don’t pass people! She was “looked” like a much more typical runner than I do (which I know shouldn’t matter at all and I know nothing about her running story). Of course, as loud as my breathing is when I run, she heard me come up behind and moved over. I then realized i had to pass her because hanging out behind her breathing heavy would only freak her out (it would freak me out anyway!) so I pulled ahead and kept on going. It was a very surreal mental experience and I apologize to her if I freaked her out by pulling up behind her and stopping! Crisis of confidence! Sorry!

This journey is about so much more than the numbers of the scale and I have to remind myself of that more often. What changes have you noticed in yourself as you’ve worked on healthy habits in your life?

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Running for a good cause

This time of year, it seems like there’s a sign on every street  corner for a 5K or fun run. The weather is just perfect for running and there are ample opportunities to run for a good cause, as most of these (in my area at least) serve as fundraisers for various charities. If you’d like to put your effort towards a good cause, there are some virtual options for making an impact as well. I’ve tried out a couple of these in the last few weeks: Charity Miles and Run4Good.  *As always, not sponsored – just my personal experience with these.

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Charity Miles:

This was the first of these apps that I personally was aware of and tried. This free app uses your smartphone’s GPS to track your miles as you walk, bike or run (available on Android or iPhone). For each mile you walk or run, 25 cents is donated to the charity of your choice (10 cents per mile biked). Charities involved include Stand Up to cancer, Feeding America, Autism Speeks, The Wounded Warrior Project and several others. It runs in the background (*if you make sure you’ve selected that in your phone’s settings) of music and other run tracker apps I use on the phone, which is nice. It doesn’t work for running on a treadmill, but otherwise has worked fairly well for me (on iOS 7 now). Initially, it would stop anytime my phone went to sleep, which was annoying but I finally figured out that I needed to enable to run in the background from the Settings menu on the phone and it works great after that.

image I particularly like that you look at either your time, miles or the impact you’re making (my selected charity is Feed America, thus I see “meals to hungry people”).

Run4Good: This app is associated with Saucony athletic gear brand and works similarly to the Charity Miles app, as far as using the phone’s GPS to track the run. In this case, Saucony gives credit for the miles to support a different running-related charity each month. These charities are each awardees of grants to support running programs in communities where part of the money is awarded up front and the remainder if a certain number of miles are accumulated by the running community in the month. I like that this supports smaller community-based projects. It took me several tries to get this app up and running and similar to Charity Miles, be sure you’ve enabled it to run in the background on your device.

imageIt tracks your pace, distance and personal bests and the GPS agrees fairly closely with my Garmin. Also, even though the name is “Run4Good”, there isn’t a minimum pace – it tracked and registered a walk for me as well.

With both apps, you have the option of sharing via your social media networks but you don’t have to. You can also run both simultaneously, so you can double your charity bang for your buck if you’d like.  They are both limited by your phone’s GPS technology, so they won’t work on a treadmill and may not work if you are indoors, in the woods or around tall buildings. All in all, I like the idea that workouts I’d be doing anyway might benefit someone else.

Have you ever used one of these? Are there other charity apps out there that you’ve tried?

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