The countdown is on, running and racing, plus some fantastic food finds

It’s time to get serious…the countdown to the Fargo Half-Marathon is on.

There is a countdown timer on the website and I have to admit, it kind of freaked me out.

32 days. THIRTY-TWO DAYS! How the heck did that happen? I’m not ready. At least I don’t think so. Or maybe I don’t feel as ready as I was for the San Jose Half-Marathon last October. The half that I actually followed a training schedule. This time? Not so much.

Why? Three words. 1. Winter. 2. Snow. 3. Cold.

I know one thing is for sure, I don’t think I will ever sign up for a spring half-marathon again. At least not while I am living in the winters-from-hell state of MinneSNOWta! Seriously, between all the dumb snowstorms and the bitterly cold temperatures, there wasn’t much running/training happening. I did actually run some on the DREADmill at the YMCA, but seriously, I don’t think I ever ran more than three and half miles on it. I. Am. Not. A. Fan. of the dreaded treadmill, hence the DREADmill name!

There was one day where it was snow storming and I was just pissy, so I said, “Screw it!” and went out for a run anyway. I only ran four miles, but it was four miles I didn’t have to do on the treadmill!

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten in a few runs, more than I thought I would and that makes me happy. I did get in a couple of long runs, too. I did an eight-mile and on Sunday, April 6, I did a 10-mile.

I think the temps were actually in the 50′s, which was SO NICE! When I got back, my hubby was sitting on the deck, so I decided to hang with him for a bit. It felt so good just to crash and lay on the deck with my feet up – on the table and straight up in the air! The run felt awesome and I actually shaved off about three minutes from the last time I ran a 10-miler, which was at the Monster Dash in October!

Training will continue as best it can for the next 32 days. I guess, maybe, just maybe, I might be more ready than I think for the upcoming half-marathon. I guess we’ll see how this weekend’s 10-mile race goes.

Speaking of which, if you are a runner who lives in, around or near the Twin Cities area, you really should check out this Saturday’s race – the Fred Kurz 10-mile! According to the race website – click here – “Starting times are handicapped by the “world-renowned” Lanin Guessimetric Method, with the slowest runners starting first and, ideally, all runners finishing at about the same time.” How cool is that? Additionally, the race is easy on the pocketbook – it’s only $15 to enter – or $8 if you are a member of the Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA). Seriously, check it out!

WHAT ELSE HAS BEEN HAPPENING?

We’ve had a couple of races since my last posting. And, I have had some awesome food finds. The rest of my post will be done in pictures. Enjoy!

This is from the Get Lucky 7K race in the Twin Cities on March 15.

I finished the 7K in 43:28. I was pumped because I was shooting for around 45 minutes. I was honestly ecstatic about my time!

Al did awesome, as well! Seriously, he kicked some major butt!

This is from the iRock Run in Cold Spring, MN, which benefits the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. It was a nice day, although a little windy. My hubby, Al, finished in 24:45. I finished in 29:33, which is a PR for this year. And my friend, Tonya, finished in 27:28. It was a great race and hopefully, we can do it again next year.

After the race was done, the three of us grabbed some lunch at Mongo’s Grill in St. Cloud and then Al and I had some errands to run. We had a few things to get at the mall and I forgot my extra clothes to change into, so I got to walk around the mall in my running gear, which included these crazy pants, which are SO comfortable and I love them. Yes, even though they are a bit bright! OMG! I have never, EVER in my life received so many strange looks and stares from people. The hubster, who was always dressed in his running gear, which include running tights with a pair of shorts over them and a very bright, neon green shirt, also received LOTS of looks. There were even a few people who glared/gave dirty looks. It was comical. Seriously, I kind of wanted to keep walking around just to watch peoples’ reaction to how we were dressed. It was entertaining, yet kind of pathetic.

FOOD FINDS!

The other day, my husband made chicken burgers (pictured later) and we really wanted some fries to go with them. My husband found these in the grocery store and thought we would give them a whirl. (Yes, I know we could have just made our own, but we didn’t feel like it!). For my Weight Watchers friends out there, these are definitely worth it. You can have 21 fries for only 4 PointsPlus Values. And they are nice-sized fries. Not little ones. They were fantastic and we will definitely have these again.

OMG! These are by far the BEST “healthy puffs” I have ever had. I have tried the baked Cheetos brand and other brands, but I will never buy anything else but these. Seriously, they had the BEST flavor. They actually tasted like real puffs only better. I am not kidding. Best part? You can have 52 of these things for only 4 PointsPlus Values. These will now be a staple in our house. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them! They are made by Green Giant, check out the link here.

My husband had bought some very lean ground chicken. If I remember right, I think he said it was actually 100 percent fat-free. Anyway, we thought he should try something different with them and make actual burgers. He took the chicken and mixed it with half an egg, a crushed up bag of Weight Watchers Cheddar Twists, a little BBQ sauce, a little liquid smoke, salt, pepper and some Lowry’s seasoning. Each burger was only 3 PointsPlus Values. And the BEST part? They tasted fantastic. They were NOT dry. They were juicy and full of flavor. We will definitely make these again.

I know I have talked about my smoothie pancakes before, but if you haven’t tried them yet, give them a try. I started adding 2 tablespoons of PB2, which is a powdered peanut butter to the mix. It not only adds additional protein, it adds flavor. I use 3/4 cup of the liquid egg whites, mix in one Weight Watchers smoothie packet (you can use any flavor you want) and then the PB2. Beat together and then cook in a pan sprayed with cooking spray until they are done. I don’t time anything, so I can’t tell you long. The pancake is a total of 4 PointsPlus Values – 2 for the smoothie mix, 1 for the 3/4 cup of egg whites and 1 for the PB2. I don’t put anything on mine, but a lot of times, I eat it with a banana. VERY FILLING!

These are necessarily a new food find, but lately, I have been obsessed with blackberries. I am not sure this is even the season for them, but OMG! they have been so good lately. I eat at least one container a day. They are so tasty, juicy, sweet, kind of crunchy. Just YUM!

MISC PICS

I just have to include a pic of my new iPhone 5C case I designed at MyCustomCase.com. I know it is “just a case,” but I am probably the most picky person when it comes to phone cases – just ask my husband! Anyway, I found the website somehow and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my new case. There are literally hundreds of cases to choose from and then you can pick the color and “write” whatever you want on it. Some have just monogrammed letters, others, like mine have words that can run along the bottom or along the side. Seriously, check them out. They have cases for all kinds of phones. It is definitely worth your time!

And lastly, I have to include a picture – or two or three or four – of my son, Brandon, and his absolutely stunningly beautiful girlfriend, Kenzie. They attended her junior prom. Aren’t they both just adorable. I am so happy for them!

As always, remember, you can find me on Facebook here or here and you can also find me on Instagram, here. If you want, you can also send me an email to confessionsofaformerfatgirl at gmail dot com (confessionsofaformerfatgirl@gmail.com).

Lots to talk about! (Meaning, it’s a LONG post!)

Warning: This post is going to be filled with LOTS of pictures!

First things first…I RAN!

It was slow, but I didn’t even care. IT. WAS. AWESOME!

This was my first run since January 28 – nearly one month ago! Because we have been having such stupid weather (bitterly cold temps, snow and lots of wind), I opted to run on the dreadmill (yes, this is what I call it!) at the YMCA and on the track. I ran two miles on the ‘mill and one mile around the track. Even though it was slow, it felt amazingly awesome to be able to run again. I haven’t been running because of my neck issue and because I have been sick. By the way, after two rounds of antibiotics (zithromax and augmentin) and one round of prednisone, along with heavy duty cough meds, I am almost back to feeling 100 percent normal. Well, as normal as I can be, that is! :-)

With our first half-marathon of the year coming up on May 10, I think it is high-time I start training! Yes, I am going to take it easy, but my physical therapist indicated it would be okay if I started running. After the injection I had and the physical therapy I’ve been doing, my arm pain is nearly gone. Yes, there is still some pain, every now and then, but it is not nearly as bad as it was. I can actually sleep on my right side – for awhile anyway!

The physical therapy is going well. I am doing traction on my neck with a machine. I have one more session left and then I get to do it at home with an over-the-door contraption. That should be interesting!

I have a check-up with my doctor in early April. I think he’ll be happy with how things are going. Although, I will admit, he may not be real happy with how much I’ve been wearing the neck brace. For some reason, it makes me feel really nauseous. I am going to make an effort to wear it more. In fact, I am wearing right it now as I type this blog! Yeah, me!

BACK ON TRACK – with my weight and eating!

This winter, I have been struggling as far as my weight and my eating habits are concerned. I gained about eight pounds and my eating was out of control. Something finally snapped a couple of weeks ago and I feel like I am finally back on track. I lost most of the weight I gained and am now back to feeling like I am in control. My weight is now hovering around the 142 mark and I am happy with that…for now. I would like it to be closer to between 138 and 140, which is doable, especially now that I am back to working out – running and biking. I am also back to logging my food again, as in tracking using the Weight Watchers PointsPlus system. As many of you know, I lost my weight (about 55 pounds) with Weight Watchers and now work full-time for the company. In fact, I just celebrated my four-year anniversary of working for Weight Watchers on Valentine’s Day.

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, check out the present I got from my husband.

Isn’t he the sweetest. Flowers AND fruit! I LOVED IT! I am so VERY thankful he is supportive of me and my healthy living journey. Actually, I should say OUR healthy living journey. We are both trying to live a healthier style and I am so grateful for that.

I am also extremely grateful – actually, I can’t really put into words how appreciative I am – that my husband does 99.9 percent of the cooking and 99.9 percent of the grocery shopping. I am beyond blessed that he loves to cook AND grocery shop. AND, he likes to cook healthy meals. He loves to research recipes online and then he will tweak them so they are even healthier. Here’s a small teeny-tiny glimpse into some of the food we have had over the course of the past few weeks:

Turkey breast marinated in an orange-spiced brandy sauce and roasted Brussels sprouts with balsamic and a little bit of asiago cheese. (7 PointsPlus Values)

Chicken enchiladas with green chile sauce and queso fresco cheese. (13 PointsPlus Values for two of them.)

Stuffed bell peppers made with ground turkey. That is not marshmallows on top, it is queso fresco cheese! (9 PointsPlus Values for three of them!)

This is a grilled pizza with whole-wheat crust (Al made this from scratch) with fresh tomato pizza sauce (Al makes this), shredded chicken breast with garlic and fresh basil, diced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, toasted pine nuts and kale. (11 PointsPlus Values for two pieces.)

This is a grilled pizza (again with homemade whole-wheat crust) with garlic-infused olive oil as the base and then diced tomatoes, fresh basil, artichokes, kalamata olives, fat-free feta cheese and a little shredded asiago cheese. (9 PointsPlus Values for two pieces.)

I ACTUALLY COOKED THIS! It is chicken breast dipped in egg and then rolled in crushed up Weight Watchers Cheddar Twists. The side was roasted sweet potatoes. (10 PointsPlus values for the whole meal.)

Al and I made this meal together. It was lobster mac and cheese with roasted asparagus drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a little bit of asiago cheese. (13 PointsPlus Values per serving for the lobster mac and cheese.) See recipe below.

Here is a comparison of PointsPlus Values for the recipe we used for the lobster and mac and cheese and a couple of other recipes. It’s amazing how different they can be! And I will tell you that the recipe we used was beyond delicious. The lobster mac and cheese was creamy, cheesy, decadent, rich and seriously GOOD!

RUNNING RACES

So, Al and I spent last weekend signing up for races. Here is a list of what we have on the agenda so far for this year:

March 8 – 100% Irish for a Day 5K

March 15 – Get Lucky 7K

April 18 – Earth Day 5K

April 26 – Get in Gear 10K

May 10 – Fargo Half-Marathon

June 7 – Lake Region Half-Marathon Relay

June 21 – Color Vibe 5K (this is just me as I am walking this with my sister, niece, nephew, niece-in-law and several others)

August 2 – Dirty Girl Mud Run 5K obstacle course – (I am doing this with a bunch of my friends. We did it last year for the first time and had so much fun, we decided to do it again. Our group is called the Dirty Girl Boob Troupe.)

August 30 – Women Rock 10K (Again, this is just me as this is an all-women race.)

September 6 – Graniteman 10K

We have several others we are thinking about, but these are just the ones we have already signed up for.

TWO LAST PICTURES

I will leave you with two more pics – one of the gorgeous sun dogs that were out Friday, February 21 and a pic of the hubster and I on Valentine’s Day. ENJOY!

Remember, you can always find me on Facebook here and here, and also, you can follow me on Instagram here.

When life hands you a little lemon…

“Can I still run?” I said somewhat lightheartedly with a somewhat fake smile and laugh, as a big ol’ knot formed in my throat and I had to force back the tears I know were forming in my eyes.

“I’m not necessarily saying you can’t, but there are other options, there’s the elliptical and there’s biking,” the doctor said.

“But running is what I do. It’s my life. I ran in 30 races last year. Running is what I do,” I said sternly, even though I know my voice was quivering.

Pretty much everything before this conversation and pretty much everything after this conversation sounded like, “Blah, blah, blah.” Or if you remember the teacher in the Charlie Brown series, yeah, it sounded a something like that.

So in a previous blog post, I wrote about the shoulder pain I was experiencing. I first talked to my regular doctor about it. Her predication was a torn rotator cuff, but because she wasn’t positive, I had to have an MRI done on my right shoulder. After the results came back, which did indicate a slight tear, along with some bursitis and there was even a small cyst, she referred me to an orthopedic doctor. He then looked at my shoulder, did some X-rays and he also thought it would be a good idea to have another MRI done, but this time, of my neck. He thought maybe there was pinched nerve or something. So, after two MRI’s of my neck (the first one didn’t work because I moved too much!), he referred me to the Tristate Brain and Spine Institute (don’t worry, the name sounds scarier than what it is!).

Yesterday, I had my doctor appointment with Dr. Abbasi, who by the way is a really cool guy. Very friendly and has an extremely good “bedside manner.” He was very personable and had a great sense of humor. I really liked him, despite the news he gave me.

We went through my MRI results, which were REALLY, REALLY cool to see. The detail, holy moly, it was awesome! The results? Not so much. But…IT COULD’VE BEEN WORSE.

Turns out, according to the papers Dr. Abbasi gave me (because truly, I didn’t really remember anything he said to me so I was so happy to have a handout to look at!), I have C3-5 (these are the three discs in my neck that aren’t all that great) degenerative disc disease with herniated disc and foraminal (an opening, hole or passage) stenosis (abnormal narrowing of a passage) with neck pain and cervical radiculopathy.

Say what? Exactly my thought!

In essence, I have herniated discs in my neck that are causing all the pain in my arm, back and sometimes, neck. They are wreaking havoc on the nerves that run through my right arm, collar bone area and right shoulder blade/back area, which causes everything to hurt tremendously, tingle and at times, become numb. The pain is always there. It’s just that sometimes, it’s a helluva lot worse, almost intolerable. Although I have been “tolerating” it since last summer. However, in the last month, it has become WAY WORSE!

So now what?

Well, first things first. I get to have an injection in my neck on Monday, as well as be fitted for a collar (neck brace) that I have to wear for approximately six to eight weeks when riding/driving in a car or doing any excessive activities or activities that provoke pain (yes, he actually suggested that if I wanted to, I could wear the brace while running. So he didn’t actually say I COULDN’T run!). I informed him and stressed to him that running actually feels GOOD and DOES NOT provoke pain. I’m not so sure he believed me! Dr. Abbasi advised that I am not to wear the “collar” at all times because it can lead to muscle atrophy (I have no idea what this is and didn’t feel like looking it up!) He also said I get to start physical therapy, which I have my first appointment Tuesday morning.

So that doesn’t sound all that bad, does it? It’s just a little lemon I’ve been handed. Not a gigantic lemon like cancer or other devastating disease. This is just a little hiccup compared to so many other things in life. It’s just a pain in the neck – literally!

I have a follow-up appointment the first part of April. According to the papers Dr. Abbasi gave me, if symptoms are not improved at that time, I get to have another MRI, this one in a standing position, instead of the typical laying down one. And…we get to discuss surgical options.

Well, that’s that.

So far, the hubby and I are only signed up for four races this year – on February 8 (a 5K), March 15 (a 7K), April 26 (a 10K) and May 10 (a half-marathon). Yes, I will be doing all of them. But, I guess I will have to wait to sign up for anymore. I guess that would be the right thing to do. (Although, as most of you know, especially my mother, I am not the best rule follower!) But I guess this time, I kind of have to be. But again, the doctor didn’t say I couldn’t run. He just slightly indicated that it would probably not necessarily be the best thing for me!

I will keep you all informed and if you don’t mind, you could surely keep me in your thoughts and prayers and if you really wanted to, you could send me some positive vibes. Anything would surely be appreciated!

You can follow me on Facebook here and here or you can follow me on Instagram.

p.s. Since my last post, I have been 100 percent back on track and made it to the YMCA both Tuesday and Wednesday and will be going today, tomorrow and Saturday! GO ME!

A harsh and much needed conversation with…myself!

After polishing off the leftover-from-the-weekend salted dark chocolate brownie bites and candied praline pecans (both from Trader Joe’s), along with a couple of Brach’s cinnamon hearts, a caramel roll, a few bites of caramel sea salt gelato and a banana – yes, quite out of place wouldn’t you say – I decided that enough is FINALLY enough and it’s time to put on my big girl panties and dig myself out of this rut I am in. Oh, I should probably mention that all of that was before noon, today.

I decided it was time to have a little conversation with myself. A reality check of sorts. A come-to-Jesus-meeting, if you will. Here’s what I said:

“Yes, it’s winter. Yes, it’s friggin’ cold. Yes, it’s miserable outside. Yes, it’s almost the anniversary of your sister’s death (it will be three years this Friday, January 31).  But seriously girl, it’s time to quit being so dang lazy, quit eating to try and make yourself feel better, warmer or whatever it is you think the food is going to help. It’s time to get your head in the game and out of your behind. It’s time to get your lazy butt off the couch. It’s time to seriously quit feeling sorry for yourself and time to quit thinking everyone else has it so easy. Quit being jealous of others. They work harder, are more committed, have more dedication and also have struggles just like you. No one is perfect. You tell your members that ALL the time. You motivate people (or at least TRY to motivate people) every day. It is time to motivate yourself. Pick yourself up out of this rut and get moving, get tracking, get back to healthier eating. Just get back to it. NOW! And remember, ACTION speaks louder than WORDS!”

It was a good conversation to say the least. It was exactly what I needed to hear from myself. Because I work for Weight Watchers and try to be an inspiration for so many, I do sometimes forget that I am human, too. Even though I say it all the time to my members, sometimes, I just forget. I don’t ever try to be perfect – there’s is no such thing. But sometimes, I forget that I need motivation. I need guidance. I need inspiration. I need help, just like my members. Just because I lost dang near 60 pounds (okay, I did, but I don’t maintain that 60-pound loss. I maintain a 50-55 pound loss!), doesn’t mean that I got this healthier lifestyle down pat. It is still – after five years – a struggle from time to time.

And even though I do get jealous of others – there are four bloggers/friends in particular – I also look to them for inspiration. It’s time for me to quit being jealous of these four individuals and start listening to them, start feeding off of them for inspiration and using them as motivation.

These four individuals make it look so easy, but I am guessing it is not as easy for them as people think and I am thinking (or at least kind of, sort of hoping) that they have their own personal struggles as well. So, my four bloggers/friends, I need your help, your assistance, your guidance, your awesome selfs to show me the way back to a healthier lifestyle. Please keep up your amazingly awesome blogs so that I can use your wisdom and words to get my mojo back.

Jim, erin, Katie and Lee, thanks for being you and thanks for being my inspiration, motivation and truly, my heroes. You may not know this, but I look up to all of you with so much love and admiration, and yes, at times, with so much jealousy. But I need you all. Thank you for helping me find my way.

I am going to leave you with some of my favorite quotes and words of wisdom that have helped me before and are going to help me again.

“What you eat in private, you wear in public.”

“Change is not an event. It is a process.”

“Every day is a good day for a run.”

“We don’t fail. We learn. It’s called feedback, not failing.”

“There is no finish line. So love the journey.”

“Diets start and end. A healthier lifestyle is a journey, so enjoy the ride.”

A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.”

“The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.”

“There are three C’s in life: Choice. Chance. Change. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.”

“If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.”

There are so many more inspiring quotes and words of wisdom out there. If you have some to share, please share them here or go to my Confessions of a [former] Fat Girl Facebook page and leave them there. I would surely appreciate it.

I am asking for help. In any way you can. Thank you. All of you are greatly appreciated.

You can find my Confessions of a [former] Fat Girl Facebook page here, my own Facebook page here and you can also find me on Instagram. And if you really want, feel free to send me an email at celbeam@gmail.com, encouraging words mean so much!

I am not going back to this:

This is where I want to be – at my happiest and healthiest ever in my life:

Fun and games are over…time to get back to business

Today is my day.

Most people start over on January 1 or January 2 (that’s when I typically do because seriously, January 1? We all know that many people are on their couches recovering on January 1 and I am no exception!)

After seeing a large gain on the scale for the second week in a row, it is time to get down to business and get back on track.

I had been doing so well…maintaining a pretty steady weight. Here’s a look my weight chart since November 1 and also my entire weight graph from when I started. You can definitely tell I have had my ups and downs!

So, this morning, my mind is made up. I have a new attitude and a new mindset and it is GAME ON!

Plus, I have my first half-marathon of the year to prepare for. Training needs to start TODAY. No exceptions. No more excuses. No more nothing. The half-marathon is set for May 10 and that is exactly four months away. So, yes, it is time to get back to business.

IN OTHER NEWS

In the saga of my dad and the nursing home, I will tell you that although I was not particularly happy with his stay at Knute Nelson, after my last blog post, I was contacted by an upper management person and we spoke frankly about my dad’s care. AND…I will say that although there were still some minor issues, the rest of his stay was better. Okay, it was MUCH better. He was happy, my mom was happy and for the most part, I was happy. He’s my dad, I only want the VERY BEST care for him. And yes, my expectations are high. Too high? Maybe to some, but not to me.

As of Thursday, January 9, he is no longer at Knute Nelson. HE IS HOME! For now.

My mom and dad’s neighbors made the sign that my dad is holding and had it hanging on my mom and dad’s door when they got back home of Thursday. I took the photo late Thursday evening and both my mom and dad had had a VERY long day, so they were just a wee bit tired. But you can’t tell, can you?!?!

My dad saw the foot surgeon on Thursday and as it stands right now, the doctor wants my dad to continue wearing his compression sock and his brace and to just see how it goes. With all the infection out of his foot, he may not have anymore pain or flair ups. And if he doesn’t, he may not have surgery after all. HOWEVER, if his foot, which has a ruptured tendon, starts to aggravate him or is painful at all, my mom is to call the surgeon right away and the surgery will be scheduled immediately. So, I guess, we now play the waiting game. If he does end up with surgery, he will eventually go back to the nursing home. If that happens, my dad said he chooses to go back to Knute Nelson. I may not be 100 percent okay with that decision, but it is what he is choosing. He said he was comfortable there and that he knows that staff and they know him. He said, “Why change?” I guess I can’t argue with that. I know one things for sure, he LOVES the French toast there!

MY SHOULDER SAGA

So……my shoulder issue is still NOT resolved. I have had a total of three MRI’s and at least six X-rays. I have seen my regular doctor and an orthopedic doctor. I do have a small tear and a small cyst and some bursitis. However, the ortho doc believes that I have something going on in my neck and has now referred me to a neck and spine specialist. The ortho doc, after looking at the results of the neck MRI, said there are some issues there and that this is probably what is causing the pain down my shoulder and arm, along with the tingling and numbing. So, I now sit and wait for a phone call from the neck and spine specialist to set up an appointment. I. Can’t. Wait.

That is all for now. Remember, you can find me on Facebook and on <iframe src=”http://statigr.am/w/follow/celbeam?widget_type=follow” style=”width:160px;height: 25px;border: none; overflow: hidden;” frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”></iframe>

In case that didn’t work, I meant to say, you can find me on Instagram.