A Little More Each Day

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

Trader Joe’s Run!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you all have a great weekend!

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

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A beginning . . .

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Hi! My name is Jessica and I’m a 35 year old working mom and wife who has spent the last year finally taking steps to improve my health. I’m starting this blog as a way to document my adventures and misadventures as I starting training as a beginning runner and to maintain my weight loss. I’ve lost 111 pounds in the last year on Weight Watchers and just attained Lifetime status this week. I know that maintenance is a huge struggle, as much as losing weight was, and the statistics are definitely not in my favor for keeping this weight off. I’m hoping that this blog will help me be accountable to both my weight maintenance and to my running training plan. Along the way if I can help inspire others who are fumbling their way through learning to run and to lose weight, that’s a great bonus!

I was always on the fluffier side as a kid, but was a dancer in high school and didn’t fall over the edge into obesity until college, when stress and living across the street from Papa John’s helped me gain over a hundred pounds in less than two years. There were large chunks of time when I didn’t step on a scale, but I know that I got up to size 24 clothing and judging from my photos (compared to times I knew my weight) I must have been over 300 pounds. I can remember a couple of brief spurts of watching what I was eating and walking more, but never a very concentrated effort to lose or get healthier until after I got married and we started thinking about starting a family. Even then, my diet was pretty atrocious but I managed to lose about 30 pounds or so just by walking lots. We got pregnant and suddenly, with the health risks of my little growing baby to consider, I was able to watch what I was eating and maintain my weight really well throughout my pregnancy. I had gestational diabetes in my last trimester and was able to weigh and measure my food to keep track of my carbohydrates, all to keep him safe. After O was born, I passed my post-pregnancy glucose tolerance test (thankfully! with my weight and family history of diabetes I was seriously worried) and was at my lowest weight in ages thanks to breastfeeding. As breastfeeding slowed down, I found myself slowly regaining weight.

Finally, on my 34th birthday, I lay in bed with my husband stunned by the realization that I was getting too old to continue ignoring my health. I was 34 years old, morbidly obese, with a family history of diabetes, a history of gestational diabetes that required medication to control (which is a risk of developing diabetes in the five years after pregnancy), and high blood pressure that started when I was 29 years old and required two medications to control. At the rate I was going, I was going to be diabetic in the next five years and on dialysis before I knew it. I couldn’t do that to my husband and to my son. I shouldn’t do that to myself, although honestly like a lot of moms I wasn’t really thinking about what I owed myself at that point – it was more about my guys. My husband lost both his parents to heart disease young. I didn’t want him to go through that kind of loss again if my health continued the way it was and I didn’t want O to ever experience that. I wanted him to have a mom healthy enough to be around and to actually keep up with him! I wanted him to learn a healthier relationship with food than I’d ever had and a more active lifestyle than we currently had.

That night, my lovely husband threw out the birthday cake. I made him put it in the big (gross) trashcan outside rather than the kitchen trash can because I was worried I’d try to salvage it (embarrassing but a distinct possibility given my past behavior). The next morning, I walked into a Weight Watchers meeting. I was terrified that I would be the heaviest person there or the youngest person there or the stupidest person there for waiting so long to finally address this problem. Instead, I encountered people who were kind and encouraging and didn’t judge me as cruelly as I judged myself. It was finally time to stop loving food more than I loved myself.

In the last year, I’ve learned to enjoy veggies and healthy foods. I’ve always hated reading articles about people who’ve lost weight and their typical meals seemed so small and boring! I am not someone who could happily eat grilled chicken, broccoli and brown rice for the rest of my life! Happily, I haven’t had to do that and I’ve lost 111 pounds in the last 13 months. We still eat out several times a week and we still have treats (including free pie at Village Inn every single Wednesday night!) and it is all totally liveable. I’ve really learned to be honest with myself about what I eat, how active I am and what I need to do to move forward.

I’ve also learned that I love to run. I started jogging, painfully slowly using the Couch to 5K interval plans, after I’d lost about 20 pounds and kept it up for the last year. I made a goal for 2013 to complete four 5K runs and I’ve done 3 so far. I’ve decided to sub a 10K for the fourth 5K. For most of the last year, I just tried to run a few times a week without a serious training plan after I’d finished couch to 5K.  The week I reached my goal weight at Weight Watchers, I also managed to jog 4 miles on the treadmill. That inspired me to set a big new activity goal as a way to try to keep on this healthy-lifestyle track now that the weight loss (and the cheers and stickers that come with that) is finished. I was originally looking for a RunDisney 10K because we love Disney and it seemed like a fun vacation/health goal. Unfortunately, the 10K on Princess Half Marathon weekend was sold out. I did notice that the half marathon was still available, but that seemed crazy. Half marathon? Me? I am still very much a fat girl running in my mind, even though I know that’s no longer true (and even if it was – who cares! I’m running).

After sleeping on it, I decided to do it. I had plenty of time to train and nothing worth doing is ever easy, so I shouldn’t be afraid to try! Fear of failure keeps me from so many things in my life, including attempting to lose weight for so long and committing to something like this. I took the plunge, registered for the half marathon and also decided to do the 10K as part of the Omaha marathon weekend in September as a mid-point goal and to get a time for corral placement. Now I’m on a training plan and learning so much about running that I hadn’t thought about before.

With this blog, I’m going to discuss my runs, training plan, and weight maintenance primarily. This will include the things I find helpful, the things I screw up and working all of this into work/mom/wife-dom. I’ll also post about the races I do (including going back to recap the races I finished earlier in the year, in case that helps anyone else). I’ll post any recipes that I try that work or don’t and snacks I find helpful/tasty. I’m all about food that tastes good and lots of it! I’ll post about the mental struggles of losing 100 pounds, which are still a huge on-going issue for me and probably always will be. I’ll also mostly post shorter than this one. 🙂

Hopefully this will all be of use to someone, but if nothing else, articulating these things will be helpful for me. In weight loss and in running, the biggest part of the battle for me is mental!

Every morning that I wake up and don’t have to take blood pressure pills, I am so grateful that I took that scary first step into Weight Watchers, a step to making a healthier life. Even on weeks when the scale wasn’t moving as quickly as I wanted it to, I’ve always known that I was finally taking care of myself and that in itself is worth the effort. It was the best birthday gift and one that I am so glad I gave myself.

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