A Little More Each Day

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

Meals in a box? Worth a try . . .

One side effect of Mom losing the control of her right hand is that Dad has to step up to the plate to make dinner in my house. As Oliver says, “Daddy is good at peanut butter and jelly and pizza.” True enough, but we definitely don’t want to eat only that for the six weeks I’m going to be recovering. Thankfully, we just had a great experience with Hello Fresh so we have a healthier option to get us through the next few weeks. Note: As usual, this isn’t any kind of paid endorsement – just me telling you about something I liked that I spent my own $$ on.

All of the ingredients come in a box with a huge ice pack, so everything is fresh. The ingredients for each meal (minus any raw meat/fish) are enclosed in a box within the box with the recipe title on it, nutritional information and a card with step by step instructions for each recipe, as well as a list of all of the ingredients in case you mixed things up. Note that there are some things in the box that need refrigeration and some that don’t, so be sure to open the box. The meats are at the very bottom of the big box, beneath a cardboard divider to keep everything separate.
HelloFresh

 

Some of the things we loved about Hello Fresh:

    • Darrell really likes the specific, step by step instructions. They help him streamline things by knowing what order to do things in to optimize your time. It generally takes Darrell hours to cook a meal (for anything other than the grill, I’m not exaggerating here) but he’s been able to get these done in about an hour at most – some have been less. The one that I’ve cooked so far (very little chopping, so I could manage it) took about 30 minutes. Very doable!

Darrell cooking

    • Everything is put together for you, down to the cutest little bottle of soy sauce you’ve ever seen. Note: This might be considered a little wasteful, in terms of excess packaging, but Oliver loves the little bottles so they get reused in his toy kitchen! The box includes the main and dishes, so you don’t have think of what you’ve going to serve with any of it and don’t have to hunt for random ingredients other than olive oil, salt and pepper.

Cute fish bottles

    • So far, they’ve tasted great! Even Oliver has liked them. They’ve also been reasonably healthy. We’ve enjoyed the taste but especially the fact that the things that put these dishes over the top for us are little, anybody-could-do-it things like fresh lemon zest or a quick sauce. It’s definitely got us thinking of food differently and I think will improve our normal home cooking.

Family cooking

    • The portions are reasonably (even generously, as you can see below) sized. We get the four person serving sizes for our two and a half people and have had leftovers for lunch every time. We could probably switch down to a 2 person serving and still have plenty for the three of us.

Hello Fresh

There are, of course, a couple of drawbacks.

  • It’s an automatic renewal process, so if you don’t remember to turn it off, you’ll get boxes of food when you’re not expecting them. I’d forgotten to turn this week off and now Darrell and Oliver have a box of food to cook while I’m away in Memphis. I confess, I’m okay with them having something sort of healthy to cook instead of relying on the usual pizza and PB&J. Now I’ve gone through and turned them all off in the app for the foreseeable future and will only go in to turn one on if I specifically want it.
  • We had one box arrive with a hole in one of the two packages of fish so we couldn’t use it. The parsnips in that box were also disappointingly shriveled. That said, out of three boxes so far, this was an anomaly. Everything else has been very fresh. Also, when I contacted HelloFresh about this box, they gave me a $60 credit with apologies and no questions asked.
  • Cost, of course, is always a concern. This is more than I’d spend on groceries normally ($10/person/meal), but we’re not wasting food and are spending less than we’d spend if we were eating out every night while I’m injured. It would also be worth it in busy months where I don’t have time for normal cooking and meal planning, especially as we’re eating healthier food than if we were eating out. I’d definitely look online for a coupon before you try it out if you’re interested, so you can get it a little cheaper at least the first time.

Ultimately, the biggest advantage for us is the fact that Darrell can cook them and enjoys it. That is a huge win and load off of my shoulders. We’ve also tried a Blue Apron box, which was more exotic in terms of ingredients and combinations. One of the two recipes in our Blue Apron box was a win (blackened chicken over rice with kale and citrus fruits) and one was not (a pasta with a cauliflower/caper/currant sauce that was bland).

I prefer this approach to the EatFitGo option we tried for healthier take out last fall. This is more food and a better price, so I think we’ll keep this in our rotation occasionally both for the sake of convenience and to introduce us to new recipes. After all, one of my goals this year was to cook more.

Have you tried one of the meal-kit-in-a-box options? What did you like about it? Anybody else hear that there is now a Tom Brady version you can try if you want to eat like Tom?

 

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Trying out a 3-day “cleanse” from Cooking Light

You guys know I’m not into the kind of cleanses or detoxes where I drink shakes or completely avoid certain foods or only eat cabbage soup or anything like that, but I did try a “detox” recently: the 3 day detox from the December 2016 edition of Cooking Light (recipes here). It isn’t so much of a detox (thanks liver & kidneys for doing that every day!) as it is a diet reset to get healthy foods back in focus. After the holidays, the marathon and 4 days on a cruise ship, this was just what we needed!

– I loved that the planning was taken out of our hands. I didn’t have to think about what groceries to buy when we were still in that post-vacation, get back to work fugue state or planning a meal calendar. It was already done for us, which made it much easier to get back on track during the chaos of laundry, unpacking and peeling off our 5 year old who’d missed us more than he let on.

– Because the planning was done, we weren’t really making any choices which meant we weren’t making bad choices. Definite win!

– The focus was really just on nutritionally “good” foods, nothing exotic or woo-woo. Nothing was eliminated or avoided. We just ate lots of veggies and lean proteins, with some healthy whole grains and fruits thrown in.

Great use of leftovers! One of my favorite things about this was how thoughtfully it was designed so that you used the leftovers in the subsequent days. Any time my prep work does double duty for future meals, it’s a win! I’m not great at this level of planning in my usual cooking, but this exercise has got me thinking more proactively about that in my meal planning now. In this menu, leftover pork was used in salad on a later day and leftover sweet potatoes in a hash. Simple but smart!

Great salad with leftovers
Three days was the ideal length of time: Long enough to get us on the right track, not so long that we chafed at the restrictions or had trouble fitting in our schedule.

 – The recipes were delicious! I’ve kept the lunch quinoa toss in my rotation (and am planning it for next week!) and gained a new appreciation for how much a little lemon can jazz up dinner. Darrell still talks about how great the roasted sweet potatoes were, which is a simple thing but one we’d stopped doing for some reason.  He also really liked the spaghetti squash-shrimp recipe, even though he’s generally very anti-spaghetti squash. One note is that I usually doubled the amount of the protein, so that Darrell didn’t complain about the amount of food.

Tuna quinoa toss

I think I’m going to adopt this approach as a routine part of our post-vacation planning from now on, to have a path to get us back to normal healthy eating and keep the vacation indulgences from creeping into every day. There are a few other menus like this on Cooking Light, so I’ll have several options to choose from.

Have you tried any similar “cleanse menus”? Love it or hate it? How long could you follow something like this?

 

Check out a couple of similar menus from Cooking Light here:

http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/weight-loss/3-day-cleanse/get-healthy
http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/weight-loss/meal-plan-for-weight-loss#

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Takeout for a week . . . And it was healthy?

Right off the bat, this isn’t a sponsored post of any kind. I bought this food with my own money, but thought it might be worth talking to you guys about because I know I’m not the only crazy busy person out there trying to eat healthy. Last week was nuts. Really long, exhausting days. I was wiped and usually during these weeks, we end up doing lots of restaurant food or PB&J. There’s a new place in Omaha call Eat Fit Go that is designed to provide healthy food to busy people, that you just take home and microwave. It’s all fresh and preservative free, so it seemed like it might be a healthier option than buying lots of frozen dinners. I decided that a week on call was a good time to try it out, both because it might make life a little easier when I was busy and because if we liked it, I could stock up before my next work trip and save Darrell and Oliver from a week of Sonic and Papa John’s.

BreakfastsBreakfasts

Dinners

Lunches and Dinners

We stocked up on a whole week of food, grabbing anything that looked good from the big bank of refrigerated shelves in the store. They have small and large serving sizes (Darrell got large). They also have some options labeled low carb, some vegetarian options and kids options. We got breakfasts, as well as lunch, dinner and snacks for the week. It was a very different look for my refrigerator. Thankfully all of these containers are recyclable and even sturdy enough to reuse!

Pros:

  • It was so nice and stress free to just grab something and zap it for breakfast, lunch and dinner with zero mental energy. There was literally ZERO prep or work beyond reading on the side the microwave time. That was HUGE when I driving home after being on my feet 13 hours.
  • Most of the foods are in My Fitness Pal, so I could just scan the barcode and it would load the nutrition stats.
  • The foods really were fairly healthy, with veggies and lean proteins. The portion sizes were also reasonable. I was never hungry and was easily within my calorie goals every day with breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks from my Eat Fit Go stash.
  • Oliver really liked all of the foods he tasted from the collection except, ironically, the kids meal.
  • The Chili Mac was good, as was the chicken salad and the breakfast taco. I loved the yogurt parfaits and can’t put my finger on what made them so good. The protein bars were AWESOME and I don’t know that I’ve ever in my life said that about a protein bar.

Protein bars

Cons:

  • Everything sort of tasted the same. The same seasoned beef used for the chili mac was in lots of other things, some more successful than others. Most of the breakfasts had the same chicken sausage. There wasn’t a lot of variety in flavor.
  • There was A LOT of meat in breakfast. Turns out, I’m not into meat in the morning (that sounds wrong!).
  • The grains used, in terms of rice and pasta, were gluten free, not whole grain. As I don’t need to be gluten free, I would have liked to have the option for whole grain pasta or brown rice (actually not sure why it wasn’t brown rice?).
  • Microwaved steak is disgusting. Sticking to chicken or ground beef if I do this again!
  • The cost is more than I would spend if I made these myself. Really, there’s no reason I couldn’t do this myself without buying it. It would just take time, but I could prep a whole week of breakfast, lunches and dinners on the weekend.

I also wonder if part of the ill-advised pizza Saturday night wasn’t a combination of being tired and being out of the habit of cooking that week. I hadn’t thought about meal planning all week, so I didn’t have a plan for Saturday when the ready-made food ran out.

Would I do this again? Yes, in a busy week if I couldn’t prep myself or if I got too busy to put together some healthy options for Darrell and Oliver. Any time we go by this place, we see buff single guys coming and going, so I could see where this would be a convenient option for healthy-ish food if you’re not into cooking or too busy to cook.

The protein bars and the chili mac were definitely things we’d get more of. I’d also be interested in trying this model in a different store, just to try a different variety of flavors.

I think the better option for us in the long run is just trying to find a better way to prep on the weekends for a busy week. This weekend, I tried grocery delivery for the first time and it was such a huge time saver! That might be a better way to go and free up some time for prep.

Have you ever tried anything like this? My husband and I have always wished there were healthier take out options, so I was glad to see something like this available even if it isn’t ideal for every day use.

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Cooking Light Recipe Round-Up

**This was supposed to post yesterday but thanks to tornado and storm warnings, I never got the chance to hit publish! We’re safe. I hope all of you in tornado alley are as well. Gotta love spring!

One of my goals for this year was getting back to doing more of the things I enjoy, like cooking. One of my favorite sources for new recipes is Cooking Light, because their recipes are based on whole foods (for the most part), user friendly and “don’t taste like diet food” per my husband. Some of our favorite family recipes come from there, like our go-to tuna melts.

Over the last month, I’ve tried several that were keepers. First up, chicken gyro bowls (with the recipe here). We loved this because it was very family friendly. We all loved the flavors and set it up as a big do-it-yourself bar, which meant we could all choose the components we liked, like lots of chickpeas and tomatoes for Oliver and lots of olives for Darrell and cucumbers for me.
Gyro bowls

Next up, the slow cooker ramen bowls were surprisingly tasty. The original recipe is here, but I tweaked it a bit when I made it because I couldn’t find one of the seaweedy ingredients. I also used chicken instead of pork because I had chicken on hand. The broth has much deeper and more complex flavor than you’d expect for something out of the slow cooker. You get a nice umami hit from the mushrooms and soy sauce, but you don’t actually end up tasting those flavors distinctly as they meld into everything else. Even O loved this!
Ramen

Another Asian winner from a recent Cooking Light was the Shrimp Lo Mein (recipe here) that came together incredibly quickly for a tasty work night dinner. We tweaked the veggies a bit to reflect what we had (zucchini, peppers and edamame) and it came together in less than 20 minutes. It’ll definitely be part of our weeknight rotation!

Lo Mein

Cooking Light often includes freezer friendly recipes, which is handy for a busy family like ours. When I have time to cook, I like being able to put something back in the freezer for busier times. There was a zucchini and black bean burrito recipe recently that looked tempting (here) and we tried it out. I was a complete FAIL on the burrito rolling front. I measured the filling so that it matched their directions but couldn’t get them to roll once filled. Maybe I had smaller tortillas? Regardless of their unwieldiness, the taste is good so I’ll just keep them in the freezer for dinners on busy nights rather than trying to transport them to work since they’re a bit messy. Darrell’s, which had chicken added and a little extra cheese, looked like tacos more than anything else, but even my veggie only versions wouldn’t close. I have reheated one of the frozen burritos, however, and the taste and texture are great so definitely try them but with bigger tortillas or less filling than the recipe suggests (or may just with more burrito-rolling dexterity than I have?).
Fail

What is your favorite source for new recipes? Try anything good lately?

PS Re-reading this, it totally reads like a Cooking Light ad but it isn’t – totally my own opinion. 🙂

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Thinking about my diet & lupus

I’m a little more than 6 months into this lupus adventure and have figured out some things that clearly trigger my symptoms, like a poor night of sleep or work/parenting stress. Sun makes things worse and running makes things better, which makes spring and summer workouts complicated. I’m also starting to notice that there may be other things triggering these symptoms and wondering if I need to pay attention to food more closely. With my flare a week or so ago, things seemed worse after we went out for Valentine’s Day lunch, which is part of what made me wonder if something I eat or drink (perish the thought!) might make things worse. We all know I’m not particularly into restrictive diets or avoiding foods willy nilly, but I thought it was worth looking into what kind of things I need to think about in terms how I eat to help my lupus symptoms. After all, food can and should be part of maintaining overall health, not just the “enemy” in terms of weight loss and weight maintenance.

The most important thing to remember in terms of food and lupus is to maintain a healthy diet, just like everyone is supposed to eat, with lots of fruits and veggies, lean proteins and calcium containing foods while avoiding processed foods and saturated fats. Not only are these things good for us in general, they can also help minimize some of the things that occur as complications of lupus and as side effects of lupus medications, like an increase in heart disease seen in lupus patients and an increase in osteoporosis or brittle bones because of the sun avoidance and decreased vitamin D, as well as a side effect of some medications. I try to do all of those things anyway, so I was reassured by most of what I read in mainstream resources. This kind of diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which is important in minimizing the stress our poor joints are already experiencing, maintaining our cardiovascular health as much as we can, and because some believe that obesity itself can worsen systemic inflammation.

However, I did run across a few interesting things that I wasn’t aware of. I didn’t realize that there’s a compound in alfalfa sprouts, which I commonly include in my salads if I eat at a salad bar, that can trigger lupus flares and was recommended as something to avoid in almost every source I looked at! (L-canavanine, if you’re curious) Distressingly, a lot of resources also recommend avoiding garlic because it can stimulate the immune system. I felt so betrayed by the John Hopkins Lupus center for including garlic in its list of things to avoid because I can’t dismiss Hopkins as whack-a-doo medicine. Sigh.

Caffeine is on some lists, as is alcohol (although most say small amounts are fine) and sugary foods. In both of my most recent flares, I had both sweets and alcohol in the 24 hours before. It’s telling that I’m much more willing to consider the possibility of giving up sweets (or at least avoiding them as much as I can) than I am willing to give up alcohol. Obviously, I’d do whatever I needed to in order to stay healthy, but please don’t take away my wine!

Wine is good for you too right?

Wine is good for you too right?

Another thing I ran across was the idea of nightshade foods, like white potatoes, tomatoes and peppers, triggering symptoms for some people. For the nightshade foods, it appears that some people are sensitive and some aren’t so you have to experiment a bit. Really, with all of the autoimmune diseases, our individual triggers are going to vary. That’s why I’ve been careful to stick to more mainstream, evidence supported sources of information in my “research” because there are so many individual stories out there and those things may not be universally true.

I’m working on keeping track of what my symptoms are and what I may have been exposed to in the day preceding the symptoms, especially things on this list. I’m realizing now how difficult it is to completely avoid these things! I’m trying to avoid nightshade plants for the next few weeks and then reintroduce them to see if they are a trigger for me. The avoidance of peppers is killing me because that includes a huge number of my spice mixes and spice mixes used with food in general! I have a whole new respect for people with food allergies and I’ve only been doing this for a few days.

Aside from highlighting how hard dealing with food restrictions must be, I’m also newly appreciating the importance of food in my overall health. Healthy foods can be medicine and we need to respect them as such. By being aware of how what we eat makes us feel, we could all learn a lot about ourselves.

Elixir of the gods

Elixir of the gods

Have you ever had to avoid certain foods because of allergy or intolerance? What was the thing you found hardest to give up? I confess, I’d rather live a life without cheesecake than a life without wine and I am not even willing to consider a life without coffee at this point, even if caffeine is also on this list.

Note that I’m not a dietitian or rheumatologist so none of this is medical advice! Just my thoughts as I travel this new road!

Resources:

Web MD Lupus Diet

Molly’s Fund The Lupus & Diet Dilemma

The John Hopkins Lupus Center Diet

Lupus.org Will nightshade vegetables increase joint pain or lupus flares?

 

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Helping a kid keep healthy habits

 We’ve talked before about how big a motivation Oliver is for me in adopting a healthy lifestyle. Darrell and I both want Oliver to grow up with a healthier diet than the southern fried food we grew up with, but I also want to avoid introducing the kind of food and body image issues I struggle with.

 

Oliver and I went to a cooking class together on Monday where someone thought it was a wise idea to give a bunch of kids FOUR desserts at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. We had a ton of fun cooking and what struck me most watching Oliver was how well he self-regulated his food intake. Instead of eating all 4 desserts just because they were there, Oliver took tastes of things but didn’t feel the need to finish them. Who doesn’t finish chocolate cake ?! A kid who knows that just a taste is as good as inhaling the whole thing, that’s who. It amazes me that my kid has a healthier relationship with food than I do right now. Now I’ve just got to be careful not to screw it up!

Green smoothie

So how are we going to keep that healthy mindset?

We involve him in picking out the food we eat and in preparing it. He’s always more likely to eat a new food if he’s had a hand in what shows up on the table.

Chopping pears

We have a garden and let him actually participate in knowing where the food actually comes from, in addition to visiting the farmer’s market and talking to real farmers. Our city mouse is fairly sheltered about the real world, but this at least gives him a little glimpse. We’ve been afraid to tread too far into the whole idea of where his beloved turkey comes from, but veggies we can talk about freely.

We talk about food in terms of the good things it does for us, in terms of giving us energy and building our muscles. He was the only kid in pre-kindergarten who talked about calcium in the milk back when he broke his leg.

We don’t talk about foods making us fat. I am distressed at how hard this one is. Why should that be my automatic answer to why we don’t have dessert every night? We don’t have dessert every night so we can save room for foods that build healthy bodies. That should be the answer to myself, just like it is to him, not we don’t have dessert every day because it would make us fat.

We let him self-regulate how much he eats. This is so hard for me as a mom, letting him decide how much is enough. However, developmentally kids are good at regulating amounts of food they eat when they’re young. At some point in childhood, we teach them to ignore those signals. They aren’t as inherently good at regulating the kinds of food they eat, so it’s our job as parents to make sure they get a good variety of nutrients rather than live on chicken nuggets. However, it isn’t our job to make them clean their plates. I have to tell myself that a million a times a week.

We encourage sometimes foods like cake and pie and cookies as sometimes foods, worth enjoying but not worth feeling guilty over. Again, I have to struggle not to project my issues here as well! We try to avoid using food as a reward or emotional balm as much as we can too, although Oliver has called me on it when I screwed this up! Just a week ago, we were talking about things to cheer us up when we had a bad day and when I mentioned cookies, he told me “food is not a friend Mama.” What a wise guy!

We never talk about being fat or gaining weight or anything like that in front of him. I’d love to say I never talk about it when he isn’t around, but I’m just not there yet. I’m getting better. I need to be sure I don’t talk about myself EVER in a way I wouldn’t talk about myself in front of him.

How do you encourage your kids to keep a healthy diet and a healthy relationship with food? I’m dreading the intrusion of the real world once real school starts. Right now, things are fairly controlled in terms of the kind of food school provides (no outside foods at our preschool and limited treats) and what we have at home. With public school and visits with friends, I’m about to lose a lot of control of what he’s exposed to. Fingers crossed that the lessons we’re teaching now will stick a bit!

 

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Cookbook Review: Good and Cheap – Eat Well on $4 a Day

I realized this week that I haven’t yet gotten around to sharing the cookbooks I got for Christmas. You guys know me – I’m a sucker for cookbooks, so there are always several on my holiday wish list. A couple of the John Besh cookbooks I got this year are so gorgeous that I haven’t actually cooked from them yet because I’m too wrapped up in the pictures and the stories!
Good and Cheap

However, I have been cooking quite a bit from another cookbook I got: Good and Cheap – Eat Well on $4 a Day. I tend to spend too much on groceries and have a lot of cookbooks that call for fancier ingredients, but put this on my wish list to get some ideas for getting things back to basics a bit and it has definitely served that purpose well! I actually enjoy the premise of this book. It’s designed with foods and budgets that you could make work with the US Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps), so that families could make healthier meals on limited budgets. It also started as a Kickstarter campaign and has a cool buy one/give model, in which one is donated to a lower income family for every one that is purchased. Such a great way to give back AND the food is actually good and practical! Win, win!

The recipes included range from breakfast and dinner to snacks and desserts and are all very approachable. Even a beginner cook could follow these instructions and I think this would actually be a particularly good cook book for poor college students just starting out as cooks. 🙂 There are a variety of flavor profiles and ethnic cuisines included as well, which demonstrates that you can get a lot bang for  your buck with food if you’re thoughtful in your approach!

We made PB&J bars from the books, which were quick and simple (but crumbly, which she warned in the recipe description!). Oliver loved the taste and I loved how easy they were!

PB&J Bars from Good & Cheap

PB&J Bars from Good & Cheap

One of my favorite recipes, which I’ve made at least four times now, is a deceptively simple combination of flavors that I’m really loving: Brussel sprouts with eggs. Weird, right? It totally works though and takes less than 10 minutes to throw together! The original recipe calls for black olives, which I swapped out for roasted red peppers because I prefer the flavor. Saute shredded brussel sprouts with the roasted red peppers and a little olive oil, with salt and pepper to taste. When the brussel sprouts have started to soften, crack a couple of eggs in the dish on top of them and put a lid on to catch the steam. Let it set for a couple of minutes but not too long – you want the egg yolks to be a little runny. Top it with a little lemon juice (crucial!) and serve. So simple, but delicious! The combination of flavors really works. This has become my go-to healthy dinner when Darrell and Oliver are eating pizza or something similar.
Brussel sprouts and eggs
In addition to the recipes, there are loads of tips about smart shopping in the grocery store, basic equipment you need in the kitchen to do these and other recipes, (and it truly is a basic list! No uni-taskers!), a chart of seasonal produce and tips for using leftovers creatively. Mixed among the recipes are also sections about techniques that can be used for broader purposes than just a single recipe, like making your own croutons or cooking dried beans or putting together “bubble and squeak.”

I’m definitely going to keep this on my gift idea list for anyone interested in getting into cooking, as it was really accessible and had some great ideas inside!

What’s your favorite unexpected flavor combination?

As always, all opinions are my own. This was a Christmas gift, so no perks to me or affiliate links or anything for telling you about it!

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Friday Favorites: (Early!) Thanksgiving edition

I know it isn’t Thanksgiving quite yet, but it will be in less than a week! With vacation and a holiday, this month has flown by. I definitely have a Thanksgiving theme to this week’s round up, with some of my favorite vacation pictures sprinkled in. It’s hard to believe I was in Disney World just a week ago!

We were THOSE parents with the inappropriately young kid on Tower of Terror.

We were THOSE parents with the inappropriately young kid on Tower of Terror.

That pic is one of my favorites from this vacation, weirdly. O LOVED Tower of Terror on Tuesday night and begged to ride it again. When we took him the next morning, he started shrieking and begging to get off pretty much as soon as the doors closed. He cried the WHOLE time and people gave us the evil eye for having him on the ride so young. We tried to defend ourselves a bit at the end or I did at least – as you can see, Darrell found the whole thing to be funny.

There have been a lot of “surviving Thanksgiving” posts on the web this week. Check out this list of 10 ways to beat holiday overeating, 17 no-diet tricks to keep off holiday weight and Runner’s World’s How to avoid packing on pounds. Of these, my favorite tip and the one I’ll definitely use is the three bite rule – Three bites of the indulgent things is probably enough, so I’ll definitely be keeping the portion of those things small and setting a time limit on myself before I can go back for more.

Eskimo kisses with Daisy - she's such a flirt :)

Eskimo kisses with Daisy – she’s such a flirt 🙂

One of my indulgences is definitely the homemade macaroni and cheese I make for Darrell every year. Macaroni and cheese isn’t a regular item on my family’s holiday table, but it was for Darrell’s family so I make sure to have it for him every year. Alton Brown’s recipe is absolutely the best (here) and totally worth the calories!

Cinderella is Oliver's absolute favorite princess. :)

Cinderella is Oliver’s absolute favorite princess. 🙂

Because I’m someone who likes to think of what I CAN have rather than what I shouldn’t, I appreciated this article from Runner’s World on some of the healthy things I SHOULD eat at Thanksgiving. Turkey is really my favorite part of Thanksgiving, so I was happy to see it on the list.

Lastly, for a laugh as we get ready for the kick off of holiday shopping season AFTER Thanksgiving (I for one refuse to go shopping ON Thanksgiving), check out this article about the 2015 Goop Gift Guide. It’s amazing what people will spend money on.

Wish me luck and safe travels tonight! I have to drive from Omaha to Lincoln to give a lecture tonight and we’re supposed to get our first snow of the year during my travel time. You’d think people in the Midwest would be better at snow, but people always freak out a bit driving in the first snow storm of the year.

Anybody have big plans this weekend?

 

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Transitioning from “training” eating to normal life

With my last half marathon of the year wrapping up this weekend with Wine & Dine, it is safe to say that while the next two months will still include lots of activity, it won’t be nearly as long or as intense as it has been in the last couple of months of training. The trick now is turning down the amount of eating I’d been doing during running all of those miles and the post-race celebrations. That’s made doubly hard by the fact that Thanksgiving is coming and then Christmas after that. I could just say screw it and enjoy the holiday season, but there’s no reason I can’t get back on track for the remainder of the year.

My totally worth-it post-race indulgence in Disney: Nutella and fruit in a waffle. Yum!

My totally worth-it post-race indulgence in Disney: Nutella and fruit in a waffle. Yum!

How am I going to do that?

  • Track: It’s simple but effective. I’ll track everything I eat, every day. No more taking weekends off or parties off or even Thanksgiving off. I can own my choices.
  • Weigh & Measure: Tracking works best when I’m completely honest about what I’m eating and drinking. I do that best when I weigh and measure everything rather than estimating.
  • Weigh & Measure Myself Too: Back to regular weigh ins on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, plus body fat every week and measurements every couple of weeks. Weighing in definitely keeps me honest.
  • Find new foods: The good news is that we’re entering a whole new season of food as we come into winter. That means loads of soups and braises and stews. I can try out new recipes as well as some healthified old favorites and will keep you posted on the keepers we find!
  • Write it out: When I find myself wanting to eat something I don’t have the calories for or haven’t planned for, I’m going to stop and write down exactly what I’m feeling. Owning all of the feelings other than “hungry” can keep me on track during this stressful time of year.
  • Move it, move it! Just because I’m not running, that doesn’t mean I can’t keep burning those extra calories. In fact, I am now free to explore more workout options. Like I said in my goals for November, I want to walk more and do more strength training, as well as try out some gym classes. I may even take advantage of that free Black Friday thing I mentioned last week! While I’ll be tracking everything and continuing to work out, because I’m not intensely training I don’t need to be eating back all or even most of those calories I burn during these workouts, so I’ll be sure to set up My Fitness Pal accordingly.

It’s really tempting to just say “I’ll start over in the new year” once November rolls around, but even if the only thing I achieve is a slower or absence of weight gain, not even a loss, then I’m doing well. Most importantly, I’m keeping my healthy lifestyle a priority amidst all of the lovely chaos of the holiday season.

How do you transition from a “training diet” to a normal diet? Do you find it harder to stick to those changes the closer we get to the holidays?

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Friday Favorites: Race weekend!

This weekend, I’m running my last half marathon of the year. It feels a little odd to know that I don’t have any immediate plans for another RunDisney race in the near future. Disney running has been a huge part of my running journey and a big motivation for me to start running (more on that here). I know I’ll be back for a Disney race again soon. In the meantime, I plan to soak up every moment of this weekend’s races. 🙂 This is the last  year for the Osborne lights, so I’m particularly looking forward to running through those. Runner’s Guide to Walt Disney World has a nice little post on the things I have to look forward to here. I’m also looking forward to the Animal Kingdom at night! Should be an adventure!

Somehow, at 4 years old, my son had never used BAR soap until last night. I had to show him how to use it and he kept telling me how COOL it was. I feel weirdly like a failure as a parent. :)

Somehow, at 4 years old, my son had never used BAR soap until last night. I had to show him how to use it and he kept telling me how COOL it was. I feel weirdly like a failure as a parent. 🙂

Speaking of RunDisney, the Star Wars races have been a big addition to the Disney racing year. I did the Disneyland version last year (here) and this year, they’re adding a Dark Side series at DisneyWorld. Given this, it’s no surprise that a lot of people were excited to hear about the UnderArmour Star Wars series of tech gear – that is, until it was released with only men and boys items. Cue sad trombone and lots of angry women (and men). Check out more here and here. Fingers crossed, it looks like they’re going to be addressing this oversight and hopefully, it won’t all be pink.

Rebel Challenge Finisher!

Rebel Challenge Finisher!

One more bit of recent controversy: I’m sure you guys saw, either on the news or on Facebook, the news that “processed meats are as bad as cigarettes in terms of cancer risk.” The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer now classifies processed meats in the same group of cigarettes. From a common sense perspective, I confess it seems a little mind boggling. 50 grams of processed meat a day is essentially the two ounces of ham in a sandwich and the idea that my sandwich equates to smoking in terms of my cancer risk doesn’t seem quite right. Note: Technically, being the classified the same in this scale really just means that the scientific evidence that processed meat is bad is as strong as the evidence for tobacco, not that they have the same AMOUNT of risk. I have a hard time sometimes figuring out what to make of reports like these, but for now, I suppose I’ll look for something else to put in my sandwiches for lunch each day and hope that O’s love of fruit balances out his love of sausage. Otherwise, we don’t eat a lot of red meat and processed meat at home anyway and overall our diet includes a lot more “good” foods than bad. It’s all about balance and doing the best we can, right?

For a final bit of balance, check out Meg’s virtual Thanksgiving fun run. No fees, no registration, just an excuse to get out and get a little active on Thanksgiving, knowing that you’ll have a little virtual army (including me!) out with you in spirit and in miles that day.

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

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