A Little More Each Day

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ll be back after the holiday with full updates of our travels, including Thanksgiving and the glorious beach wedding. For now, I’m going head out for a quick one woman turkey trot to shake off the stiffness of a 7 hour car drive and a night on an air mattress with a wiggly 6 year old (ouch!). I hope you have a wonderful day, full of things to be grateful for and the time and space to pause to appreciate them!

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It’s the most wonderful (Chaotic!) time of the year!

I LOVE the holidays but wow does time fly during that time frame between Halloween and New Years. I can’t believe Halloween was two weeks ago and I’m already making a list of supplies for Thanksgiving. Whew. Good things that have happened since I last checked in with you guys:

  • Running is going well, with no recurrence of my arm pain and lots of happy, running endorphins, even with short runs. If this is the only level of running I get back to, I’m still happy and grateful to be here!
  • I’ve lots of big dinners related to work lately, complete with indulgent foods and lots of alcohol and yet my weight is not climbing through the roof. I’m still at a lower weight than I was two months despite these indulgences, thanks to the fact that I’m not snacking as much and not eating everything on my plate every time I’m out. I haven’t lost in the last week thanks to all of these indulgences, but I’m not gaining either and that’s a win.
  • I met my goal of getting an order in place to recheck my kidney labs. I’ll be doing it this afternoon! Health self-care for the win!
  • I made progress in one of my #40for40 goals and styled my hair reasonably nicely for the Children’s Hospital Gala this week:

Hair success
I know it isn’t fancy, but it is a big stretch upwards in my hair skills!

Thanks to the gala, I’ve also set a post-Thanksgiving goal: to try out Orange Theory Fitness. In the silent auction, I won a one month membership and have been curious about Orange Theory for a while. I’ll be sure to give you guys a full update after I try it out.
VictoryI also won this awesome cookie-making basket that will make holiday baking easier!

Over the next two weeks, I have two massive healthy-lifestyle challenges coming. 1) I am going to the beach wedding of a dear friend (and am SO EXCITED for her and that I can join her!). 2) Thanksgiving (obviously). These are both events where I’m looking forward to the people I’ll be with, so I’ll be focusing on the people first and foremost, with some selected treats along the way. My success in not snacking and not binging despite some significant stresses lately makes me think that I’ll get through the next two weeks relatively unscathed, but I don’t want to take that for granted and lose track. I’ll bring my workout gear with me for both trips – and am planning lots of dancing at the wedding!

What’s your plan for Thanksgiving? How many days do you allow yourself for Thanksgiving indulgences? For me at least, it’s those non-Thanksgiving days around the holiday that actually get me in the most trouble. If I keep my treats limited to the actual holiday, things will go much better!

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Weekly Wrap Up: Happy Holidays!

I don’t mean to brag, but I’m currently enjoying a quiet, CLEAN house with a napping kid and very little post-Christmas chaos. 🙂 I’ve definitely just jinxed myself, but for now I’m definitely enjoying a happy holiday! Thanks as always to Tricia and Holly for hosting our link up!

weekly wrap up

I’m glad for some peace and quiet after the craziness of the build up to the holidays. It’s funny that there’s always so much chaos right before Christmas, with shopping, work parties, scrambling to finish work before the break and everything else (like my last big marathon training run right before the holiday!) but then the holiday itself is fairly peaceful for us since it is just the three of us and we stay home.
Toys for momWe had a lovely Christmas, with lots of gifts and laughter. Oliver got me superhero toys of my own to add my collection so that we can play together. I also got knee high Wonder Woman socks that I wore out to breakfast this morning:
Wonder Woman!I got lots of new cookbooks as well, that I’ll be sure to share with you guys  when I try them out. Now that I’m almost done with marathon training (EEK! Less than two weeks until the race!!), I’m about to have a lot more free time on my hands for cooking. 🙂 Speaking of gifts, Oliver ran across this guy in his stocking and said “Mom, look at this jolly fellow!” We might watch too much BBC.
Jolly fellow

As it is less than two weeks until marathon day, I’m knee deep in planning for the trip. I’ve organized my freezers and pantry so my mom can find things to keep her and Oliver fed for the week. I’m working on gathering things I need to bring with me and printing out all of the papers for the race and the post-race cruise. I’m neurotically over-planning things for my mom because this will be the first time we’ve both left Oliver for this long. I keep reminding myself that she raised three kids so she’ll survive one five year old!

I’ve also taken my marathon shoes out for their first run. Thanks to yet more ice and a pre-Christmas stomach bug, last week wasn’t great for workouts but I did at least get a long-ish run in on Christmas Eve. The training plan called for 12 miles, but I could only get 10.5 in before a fog rolled in that was dense enough that I started to worry about safety and visibility. It was a weird foggy and rainy Christmas, that’s for sure.

This week, I have three weekday runs (plus an afternoon at the pool today for cross training!) and 8 miles on Saturday. The Commitment Day 5K is on Sunday, so I’ll have that as well. That race holds a special place in my heart as it was my very first 5K several years ago. I’ve run it almost every year since then (missed one because I was on call) and can’t believe I almost missed registering for it this year! The weather this week isn’t too super cold and looks dry for the most part, so I should be able to get these runs in without too many hurdles barring more stomach issues. Finger crossed!

Speaking of weather, I’ve entered the phase of pre-race, pre-travel obsessive weather watching. My biggest concern is us getting out of town and my mom getting here. So long as we stay free of ice and serious snow, that should be okay. Of course, once we appear to be in clear that way, I’ll start worrying about how hot it is in Florida this winter and how miserable that’s going to be race day. I keep reminding myself that I don’t have a time goal – I just need to finish. If it takes the whole time the course is open because it’s 80 degrees in January, so be it. I suspect all of these pre-race worries are going to get really out of hand now that I don’t have Christmas as a distraction!

How do you handle pre-race worries? I hope you all had a great weekend and a great holiday!

 

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Holiday Happenings

This is my last full day of work for a while and I am SO ready for a break. Oliver’s daycare is closed on 12/23 and 12/26, so I’m home those days and decided to add on to that by adding some days off just for me next week. I’ll have to come in at least half days on Tuesday and Wednesday, but am treating myself to a day off Thursday and Friday. I’m going to do exciting things like reorganize my pantry and my freezer. I know, I know – wild and crazy. Definitely needed though and it will help my mental state to get my house a little more in order.

What else will we do over the holidays?

– Oliver and I are camping out in the living room in front of the tree tonight, with hot chocolate and Christmas carols. Last year, we did this and had a great time but I forgot about it completely! We have an advent calendar with pockets where I write in Christmas activities each day and apparently, I didn’t take this one out from last year! Oliver walked up to the breakfast table with it this morning, which thoroughly confused me as that wasn’t what I thought was on deck today (just a Christmas book – easier!). However, today is his last day of school and I’m not working tomorrow, so why not celebrate with a camp-out. (Note to self: Yoga will need to be on the workout schedule tomorrow to stretch out after a night with my almost 40 year old self on the floor or sofa!)

I do love our tree

I do love our tree

– Tomorrow, Oliver and I will prep cookies and treats for Santa and our Christmas Eve celebrations. I froze some of the left over cookies from our party a couple of weeks ago. This will be the first time I’ve ever done anything with cookies after freezing – hope it works! We’ve also got plans to make meringues, no-bake oatmeal fudgies and those rolo pretzel treats we loved so much at the Christmas party. We’ll definitely have plenty of treats even if the frozen cookies don’t work out.

– I get to “break in” new shoes – my marathon shoes! I needed a new pair of shoes, so I grabbed a new pair of Brooks Ghost 9’s with a coupon from Dick’s. I’ve got another 50 miles to run between now and the marathon, so these won’t be “new” on race day but still fresh. They’re also the same style I’ve been running in the whole cycle, so I’ll be fine with that.

– Our Christmas Eve tradition is to watch movies and eat appetizers and treats all day. I’ll be taking a brief (ha!) break from movies to run 12 miles. Fingers crossed that it’ll be during one of the movies I don’t love! Darrell and I also always watch a “grown up” Christmas movie after O goes to bed. We’ve already watched Christmas Vacation (although I can always watch it again!) so it may be time for Scrooged.

This isn't the healthiest family cooking photo, but I love it all the same. He's not nearly as compulsive about the number and colors of M&Ms per cookie as I am. :)

This isn’t the healthiest family cooking photo, but I love it all the same. He’s not nearly as compulsive about the number and colors of M&Ms per cookie as I am. 🙂

All in all, I’m looking forward to spending the next few days hanging out with my two dearest guys in the world. I’ll be able to cook for people I love, one of my absolute favorite things to do, and be able to get my runs in without waking up early. I hope your weekend is lovely as well!

Currently, my house smells like chocolate and peppermint as I’m making Williams Sonoma’s peppermint bark quick bread for Darrell’s office tomorrow. That combo screams Christmas to me. 🙂 What’s your favorite holiday smell?

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Merry Christmas!

We’re celebrating Christmas today with laughs and love and lots of hugs. I wish the same for you, however you’re celebrating this holiday season!

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Christmas Eve Celebrations!

Today, I’m home with Oliver, immersed in Christmas Eve celebrations. Last night, we camped under the tree and today, we’re baking cookies for Santa and making treats for our Christmas Eve movie-thon. Whatever you’re up to today, I hope you’re having fun!

Oliver may or may not be making me wear these all day. :)

Oliver may or may not be making me wear these all day. 🙂

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Friday Favorites: A week until Christmas!

The little kid in me is already having trouble getting to sleep at night as we get closer and closer to Christmas. 🙂 That really burned me (literally!) this morning since I couldn’t wind down until 11 pm last night but woke up at 5 am today so I could be at work early to help with a big project. I have to use the peroxide-based contact lens cleaners and apparently because I was up so late, they hadn’t had time to adequate neutralize and when I put them in my eyes were on FIRE! You’ve definitely got to be careful with those. So, turns out today is a glasses day. That’s okay – makes me look smarter, right?

Love the slippers!

Love the slippers!

Last night, I went to watch a junior high production of A Christmas Carol in which a friend’s son was Scrooge. Don’t you love Oscar the Grouch slippers on Scrooge? Seems perfect, right? The play was full of that adolescent awkwardness that comes with school plays at this age and for that reason, I found it utterly charming. It was a great dose of the holiday spirit.

On to my favorite things I’ve read this week:

This article by Elizabeth Gilbert includes advice we all need at this time of year: stop worrying about all of the things we aren’t doing or should be doing or should do as well as our neighbors or whatever. Stop. Stop with the comparisons, stop with the self doubt; start being kind. We are enough, whether we ever get our gifts wrapped or purchased or Pinterest crafts done or cookies baked – it’s enough. I may need to tell myself that about a thousand times.

Speaking of advice we all (including me) should heed at the holidays, I like this list of the “10 commandments of Christmas morning.” The second one – that mom gets a bra before any photos are taken – is crucial! Number 9, with the same gift? That’s happened in our house. Darrell has gotten me the same robe twice now. In his defense, it is a lovely robe.

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There were two running related articles I’ve seen recently that I really enjoyed. The first, Bad at Running, is a fantastic look at why it is worth it to run even if you don’t want to get better at it. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you’re not very good at something or if you don’t want to improve – it has value even when imperfectly executed and running is definitely like that. I took a pottery class when I lived in Little Rock and there was a neurosurgeon in my class. He told me he loved being able to come do something that he was allowed to do badly because he wasn’t allowed to fail in his job. I can definitely appreciate that sentiment.

I also really identified with this article on what it is like to run with lupus. The unpredictability of lupus and its invisibility make it an interesting complication to have in life. You can’t always tell from the outside that I’m having a bad lupus day. I hide the rash under sleeves (mine tends to show up on my forearms) and the Alleve masks the swelling for anyone but my husband and my rheumatologist to notice. I may look normal but have a day where I’m aching all over. It’s definitely hard because there are days when you don’t feel like moving, much less running, and yet I know the running makes me feel physically better. It was somehow comforting to read about someone with experiences so much like my own. It reinforces for me again how important it is that we tell our stories, because we never know who it might be helping.

Tonight, my parents are in theory coming in to town to visit for part of the weekend. O is very excited. The unpredictability of their visits (when will they get here? how long will they stay?) adds a bit of stress for me because I like to have a food plan for guests, but it is worth the stress to see how excited O is about seeing Nana and GrandDad. We also have my last holiday party of the year tonight, which should be fun (in no small part because it the LAST one!) and my husband plans on doing some blog maintenance for me tonight after the party, if my parents are here to watch O. It may not seem like a romantic date, hanging out at Village Inn for pie and coffee and WiFi to tweak the blog, but it is in fact a lovely gift that he’s giving me with his time and technical know how. 🙂

Enjoy the weekend! Be careful around all of the last minute shoppers if you’re out and about!

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Creating holiday traditions around things other than food

Yesterday, I was signing up for a potluck holiday party. I’m bringing buffalo chicken egg rolls and cranberry white chocolate cookies (recipe for cookies here and I’ll share the egg rolls when I work them out!). A co-worker said “my gallbladder will kill me but it will be worth it!” Part of me smiled at the idea that my food is so eagerly anticipated – I’m still a food is love person at heart. That can get us all into trouble, especially in the holiday season where indulgence can be the name of the game.

Pockets full of holiday adventure :)

Pockets full of holiday adventure 🙂

We’re working on building non-food centered traditions into our holidays. We have a felt tree that we used to fill with candy to count down the holidays. Nowadays, we have activities in each pocket like touring Christmas lights, new holiday books and movies and introducing Oliver to the fine art of homemade snowflakes.

He kept telling me how important it was to be careful with scissors. I'm guessing his teachers say that a thousand times when they have the scissors out at school.

He kept telling me how important it was to be careful with scissors. I’m guessing his teachers say that a thousand times when they have the scissors out at school.

We also work to incorporate giving into our holiday season as much as we can. We adopt families at work and pre-K, as well as kids toys for the Boys and Girls club. O loves putting change in every red bucket we pass (and is disappointed if they aren’t out). Every step we take to pay it forward keeps our spirits on the best of the season. It’s about so much more than food.
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I’m working on appreciating the little moments of holiday magic in the day. My favorite is turning on the tree every morning. I’m almost always the first up and moving in my house, so it feels like a little moment just for me. Christmas lights just make a little bit of my soul glow and even if they’re only on for an hour while we get ready for our day, it starts the day with a smile.

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Oliver and I are starting a new Christmas tradition this year. On 12/23 (Christmas Eve-Eve per my inner child), we’re going to camp out together in our Santa jammies in the living room with the tree. Falling asleep under the glow of the tree after reading Christmas stories sounds like a perfect way to kick off our little holiday break.

What are your favorite non-food traditions?

PS Of course there are still some treats! Here’s the recipe for the lovely Gwenn’s sugar cookies. I’m going to try them with almond extract next time for a twist!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to butter mixture. Mixture will seem a little dry. ** Chill for 2 hours. Roll to desired thickness and cut out. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes at 350 F. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

I decorated these with sugar before going into the oven and icing after they’d cooled. They’re easy to work with, but the dough is a little stiff (which is why it holds up to cutting). Thanks for the recipe Gwenn!

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Starting to feel the spirit!

This won’t be my typical day by day recap. Instead, we’re going to hit the high points and the highest point is definitely the fact that I’ve finally found some Christmas spirit! I took time through the weekend to do lots of holiday things like to go to Oliver’s pre-K to decorate cookies:

I frosted and he sprinkled - and he even shared the cookie with me!

I frosted and he sprinkled – and he even shared the cookie with me!

We drove around to look at Christmas lights and I drooled over some of my neighbors’ elaborate displays. We put up our own cheerful little lights. I wrapped gifts, I took a bath, I read a book – all great things.

I also did lots of baking at home, including yummy cranberry pistachio biscotti for my secret Santa (my first attempt at biscotti – yum!) and FINALLY a sugar cookie recipe that I  can get to work with my abundance of cookie cutters. I’ve never found one before that really held its shape after baking.

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I don’t even particularly like sugar cookies, but these are good and gave me an excuse to play with frosting and sprinkles and my awesome geeky cookie cutters. I have Star Wars too but I ate the Millenium Falcon cookie before this pic was taken. 🙂 I also took the weekend off from tracking, which felt good. I still made good choices, but instead of defaulting to choices where I knew the exact calorie counts, I just ate healthy food (that Millenium Falcon cookie was mentally healthy). And COOKED healthy food. I forgot how much I love to cook.

I also got out for a run which felt fantastic even though it was 30 degrees and raining. It just felt good to gift myself that time and to really move. Other than that run, I did lots of walking this week and got in two rounds of strength training. Yay me!!

I feel so much more centered and you know what? I was able to get all of that “me” time in while still keeping the kitchen clean and the laundry from overtaking us and finishing the last two papers I have for my master’s classes. I say that not to make me seem great but rather to remind myself that I spend a lot of time stressing over things that are totally doable. I just have to change my perspective on it all and taking the time for a couple of nice-to-me things made everything else that was going on seem easier.

It helps when Oliver considers cleaning time family time. He asked if he could vacuum after he got cookie crumbs on the floor - who am I to say no?

It helps when Oliver considers cleaning time family time. He asked if he could vacuum after he got cookie crumbs on the floor – who am I to say no?

I am feeling much more centered going into this week, which is a huge relief. This week, I’m grateful for so much – good friends to support me as I right the ship, secret Santa gifts, cookies, Christmas lights, you name it. 🙂 I’m tackling this Monday with a grateful heart! Our good deed this week was delivering a Christmas gift for the Boys and Girls Club to our local Village Inn. It makes my heart smile to see my boy doing good. I asked him if he had choose between getting more gifts for himself and getting gifts for a kid who didn’t have as many toys as he did and he said he’d get the other kid toys because he has a lot. So sweet! I need to keep building that generous spirit.

Dropping off presents!

Dropping off presents!

My NSV is giving myself the weekend off from tracking because it honestly just felt like too much and yet not going overboard – particularly impressive with all of the baking I did!

Thanks as always to Tricia and Holly for hosting our weekly wrap-up. I’m particularly excited for Holly today that she’s back to running after a long hiatus due to injury so be sure to go cheer her on!

weekly wrap up

What gets you in the holiday spirit?

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Friday Favorites: Looking up a bit . . .

It is Friday (finally!) and I’m breathing a little easier today. Thanks for your kind comments yesterday. Having a plan, having that exam behind me (fingers crossed I passed it!) and having a weekend ahead of me without anything huge looming all have me feeling a little brighter today. I got through last night’s snackfest meeting with only one regrettable choice, which makes me feel a lot better about heading into tonight’s Christmas party. I’m also planning on treating myself to a nice hour of running tomorrow, which I am definitely looking forward to. When did I become that person? With my cough, I may not go far or fast but I’m gifting that time to myself anyway.

Speaking of gifting, today I am re-gifting some of Oliver’s old toys to a neighborhood in home daycare. While O is theoretically on board with this plan, he’s four and there may be drama if someone came to our house to take his toys, so I decided to load them up to deliver them today. One of the toys we’re donating is a plush Superman that says appropriately comic-book-y things when you touch him, like “Time for a superhero team up!” and “I’ll use my heat vision” and boom, pow, etc. That thing has talked the ENTIRE time I’ve been in the car today because it’s very sensitive to vibration apparently. I’m ready to throw it out on the side of the road. Thank goodness I’m not a litterer.

I've definitely got to get this car full of toys delivered before I go meet O for a cookie decorating party at 3!

I’ve definitely got to get this car full of toys delivered before I go meet O for a cookie decorating party at 3!

This week, I saw a great post on Avoiding food guilt during the holidays that included a lot of tips from the Sweat Pink community that I’d highly recommend checking out. I love the quote at the top of the post “Because guilt is stupid and food is delicious.” Absolutely! I also liked the tip about only eating homemade treats – because those are the most unique and “worth it” – and adjusting your focus toward counting your blessings instead of your calories.  I confess, I also ADORE Christine’s approach to the season here. 🙂

I get emails with articles from my gym, Lifetime Fitness, and almost never share them because some of their advice tends toward the not-evidence-supported end of the spectrum and my scientist brain HATES that stuff when it is presented as fact. However, this week I got an article about reasons we regain weight and it included refreshingly little wack-a-doo with some good things to think about. I did a good job addressing a long term plan for healthy eating and setting new non-weight loss goals while I lost weight, but I definitely fall short in the stress management part of the equation. I also like the advice about re-evaluating your why, because that definitely changes over time. My “whys” for losing weight weren’t necessarily the same as my “whys” for maintaining and that’s definitely something I’ll be re-evaluating again as I head into the new year.

Speaking of the new year, I think I’ve found one of my goals for the 2016. I very strongly identify as a reader and most people who know me would say the same. However, I’ve gotta confess that since having a kid (yes, this is totally his fault – for once something that isn’t my job’s fault!) my time to read has gone out the window. I read blogs and articles on my phone scattered through my day but the time to actually sit and absorb a book – that rarely happens now. I saw this post of 21 books from the last 5 years that every woman should read and realized I’ve only finished 2 of those. Can you guess which ones? I’ve started several others, but they are amidst the giant stack of books on my bedside table and cluttering my Kindle that I’ve never gotten around to reading. In my need to be kind to myself, giving myself more time to read would be a great gift. We’ll be realistic and say that I’ll finish at least 10 of these (not counting the two I’ve already read!) in 2016 and that audiobooks while I run totally count!

 

I promise myself I'll get to this stack over the break!

I promise myself I’ll get to this stack over the break!

PS Speaking of reading, check out this free downloadable collection of stories “You can do hard things.”

This afternoon we’re going to attempt a Santa visit. Cross your fingers for me! At 4, O is still wary of Santa. His stranger anxiety has always beaten out any joy of Christmas when it comes to meeting Santa and we’ve never had a particularly pleasant encounter. Maybe this is the year? O has asked to go today so fingers crossed it will go well! The window of Santa magic is small and seems to be getting smaller, so I want to soak it up. Confession time: While I acknowledge that for me, my parents were Santa and that for Oliver, I’m Santa, a part of me still believes or maybe just hopes that Santa is real for those who need him. Does that make me nuts? Maybe don’t answer that . . .

Have a great weekend! Be careful maneuvering parking lots and streets – things always get nuts this close to Christmas!
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