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).

Whoa…time flies, doesn’t it?

I just realized I last blogged on February 22! Wow, where does the time go? It’s crazy, isn’t it? I mean, really, didn’t we just start 2014 and it’s already March 12! Craziness!

So, what’s been going on? Lots. Lots of running and getting back into the swing of things, that is. I ran my first race of the season this past weekend – the 100% Irish for a Day 5K hosted by Twin Cities in Motion. It was a great race with great weather, great food, great route and great volunteers! Someday, I am going to be a volunteer at a race. I think it would be so much fun! It’s on my bucket list.

I was so excited when my husband opted to run this race with me…as in by my side the entire time! We typically run the Twin Cities in Motion Valentine’s Day TC 5K together, but if you remember from my last post, I was sick and didn’t get to run. So, he said he would run this one with me and it was so awesome. We set a goal of running it 33 minutes. Yes, that is WAY slower than he usually runs for a 5K (he can finish anywhere from 23-25 minutes), but he was so gracious to run my pace and let me actually set the pace. Most of the race, he did run by my side, but there were a few times where he actually ran behind me so I was setting the pace and leading. In addition, the road was still slightly icy and snow-packed, so sometimes, he ran behind me because there was no room to run by my side.

The race was not officially timed, but I was delighted when we crossed the finish line (hand in hand, no less) and saw the time on my Garmin – 31:51 – yes, 31 minutes and 51 seconds – under the goal of 33 minutes. Seriously, I was ecstatic. For my first race of the year and not too much training, I was so happy with my time. I was actually just happy to be able to get out there and run. It felt SO good. I think Al was pretty impressed, too. I’m thinking he thought we would actually finish closer to 35 minutes. Maybe by the end of the year, I will actually get under 30 minutes more than once! Here are a couple of pics from the race:

Yes, that is a Finnegan’s Beer. And yes, it was before 10 a.m. in the morning! Free beer. What more can I say?

This is our time, according to my Garmin and the temp. It really felt warmer than what it was because the sun was mostly shining and it felt so good. There was what we like to call a “sardine start” at the beginning of the race, meaning there were lots of people and we had to maneuver our way through. You can tell by looking at our pace that it got better as we went along. There was quite a bit of zigging and zagging to get out of the glob of runners, but it a way, that’s what makes it fun. Plus, you end up with negative splits – where your time improves with each mile. It felt great to see we started with a 10:40 pace and ended with a 9:50 pace.

Our next race is this Saturday, March 15 – Team Ortho Foundations’s 7K race, the Get Lucky. Looking forward to it, especially because the weather is supposed to be so nice!

EATING OUT

For all my Weight Watchers friends, I just have to share about my experience at Ruby Tuesday’s last Sunday. We stopped there on our way home from the Twin Cities for lunch. Both my husband and I were craving a good ol’ burger and fries. I decided to look up Ruby Tuesday on the Weight Watchers mobile app on my phone and to my surprise, it was there.

Yes, I ordered the Bacon Cheese Pretzel burger, but I had sweet potato fries instead of regular fries and I only had water to drink, not a soda pop. I’m not the biggest pop drinker, so it’s easy for me to skip it.

I did make a few changes – such as I only had one piece of cheese instead of the two it came with. I had them delete the mayo that came on the burger and I took half of my fries and gave them to my husband. In addition, I took the bottom bun off and didn’t eat it, which most of the time I don’t because I HATE soggy, greasy, hamburger buns. I also had the bacon extra crispy so most of the fat was fried out it – right? At least in my mind, crispy bacon is better for you than soggy bacon. (Yes, that is how my mind works!). At any rate, I didn’t track the 47 PointsPlus Values for the meal. I decided that 30 sounded like a good number and that is what I tracked. Did I really save 17 points by making the changes I made? Maybe, maybe not. But it sounded good to me!

This journey is not about being perfect. Period. I tracked and that’s all that matters! To me, anyways.

Check out the picture of my burger and fries – doesn’t it look scrumptious? It was. And I enjoyed every single bite. No guilt. Just pure satisfaction!

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

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.

The ups and downs of five years since I began my Weight Watchers journey

This week, I am celebrating my five-year anniversary! It was five years ago this week that I took that giant leap and walked into my very first Weight Watchers meeting. Yes, I joined WW the week before Thanksgiving. Most people thought I was nuts. Most said, “Why join now? Wait until after the holidays. Enjoy the holidays. Start January 1.”

I thought, “Why wait? Why not start now? Why do I want to pack on even more pounds?”

So. I joined. And I am so glad I did. Weight Watchers has changed my life…LITERALLY!

I will get more into that in an upcoming post. For now, I am going to let you see, in pictures, my weight loss journey in numbers. The day I joined Weight Watchers, I was 190.2 pounds. However, just recently, I made the decision to change my starting weight online because prior to joining, I had lost 10 pounds on my own, but that was all I could muster by myself.

So, when you see my starting weight, it actually shows up as 200.2 because I changed it to what my starting weight actually was…it’s just the starting date had to stay the same. I track my weight every week on my Weight Watchers e-tools (electronic tools) account. My weigh-in day used to be on Wednesdays, but I changed it to Fridays about a year ago.

The charts are copied from my e-tools account and are a little hard to read because they actually go backward, meaning you read from the bottom up. The most current date is on the bottom of the chart and then you read to the top. Hopefully it will make sense when you look at them. You will notice that I had – and still have – lots of ups AND downs, meaning weight gains and weight losses. The journey, which again, I will write about in an upcoming blog, has not been perfect by any means. And it NEVER will be.

Enjoy browsing at my journey in numbers!

NOVEMBER 14, 2008 – DECEMBER 26, 2008

JANUARY 2, 2009 – APRIL 10, 2009

APRIL 17, 2009 – JULY 24, 2009

JULY 31, 2009 – NOVEMBER 6, 2009

NOVEMBER 13, 2009 – FEBRUARY 19, 2010

FEBRUARY 26, 2010 – JUNE 4, 2010

JUNE 11, 2010 – SEPTEMBER 17, 2010

SEPTEMBER 24, 2010 – DECEMBER 31, 2010

JANUARY 7, 2011 – APRIL 15, 2011

APRIL 22, 2011 – JULY 29, 2011

AUGUST 5 – 2011 – NOVEMBER 11, 2011

NOVEMBER 18, 2011 – FEBRUARY 24, 2012

MARCH 2, 2012 – JUNE 8, 2012

JUNE 15, 2012 – SEPTEMBER 21 – 2012

SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 – JANUARY 4, 2013

JANUARY 11, 2013 – APRIL 19, 2013

APRIL 26, 2013 – AUGUST 2, 2013

AUGUST 9, 2013 – NOVEMBER 15, 2013

And again, here is a look at my before and after photos:

Side note: My husband, although not necessarily doing the plan, lost about 40 pounds!

 

Candy, Chocoholic Frolic and more

Last weekend, my husband and I participated in our first-ever Chocoholic Frolic race. We opted for the 10K, which is 6.2 miles. I found out about this race after seeing a billboard for it along Interstate 94. I also think a few friends told me about it, but apparently I didn’t really pay attention to them. For some reason, that billboard made me take notice and check into the race, which is put on by Final Stretch.

The them of the race, of course, was chocolate, as it was sponsored by World’s Finest Chocolates, among other sponsors. Besides what you would normally find in your race goodie bag, such as your bib number, flyers for other races, pins and possible shirt, our chocolate-colored goodie bag also contained chocolates. Yes, they were yummy. Here’s a few chocolate-themed pics from the event.

Our goodie, the chocolates and my bib number.

The “finish line” at the race expo on Saturday. This was directly above the World’s Finest Chocolate booth, which is of course, where we picked up a few more chocolates!

A sign at the expo. This sounds like my kind of “diet.”

Another sign at the expo. There were plenty of more, but I only took the time to capture these two. I was kind of bummed when we were walking about the expo as there was a cupcake booth, which was supposed to have samples of cupcakes. They were gone by the time we got there…an hour after the expo started! Apparently the company didn’t realize just how much runners like cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes!

The starting line for the 10K race. Notice the two women in brown shirts – these were the shirts we received with our registration. They are awesome!

And here we are at the finish line, which yes, is falling down! Sunday, which was race day, was an especially windy day! As we were getting our photo taken (as usual, by a random stranger!), a big gust came up and started blowing down the inflatable finish line. Luckily, it didn’t blow completely down as there were still runners coming across. Al finished the 6.2 mile run in 50:55 and I finished in 1:02:46. Despite the wind and the VERY hilly start, we were both pleased with our times. And, we both said this was one of the most prettier courses we’ve ran. For those of you in the St. Paul area who are looking for a pretty route, check out this link to the map. It seriously was gorgeous!

Here’s a look at my splits…yes, I started WAY too fast (for me). Surprising, considering the first half-mile was all up hill! Oh, and by the way, the “issue/problem” I talked about in my last blog post, surfaced near the end, but wasn’t nearly as bad as the half-marathon or the 10-mile Monster Dash. And, to let everyone know, YES, I made a doctor appointment. I go in November 19. I’ll keep you all posted. Thank you, by the way, to those who responded via message, FB message, email or in person. I appreciate your thoughts and concern.

So, as if the chocolate we received in our bags and at the expo wasn’t enough, there was chocolate along the route as well. Around mile 2, there were chocolate cupcakes and around mile 4, there were chocolate candy pieces or something. Believe it or not, I DID NOT indulge in any of the chocolate along the route. As much as I LOVE chocolate, it just didn’t sound appealing to me as I was running. And if that chocolate wasn’t enough, there was even more chocolate…we each received a chocolate caramel “finisher’s bar” at the end of the race. That is what they handed out instead of medals.

This is my husband’s candy bar. It’s Wednesday. The race was Sunday. He STILL hasn’t eaten it. Mine? I polished it off Monday morning…for breakfast! (To my Weight Watchers members, don’t ask how many PointsPlus values it was. It may shock you, but I didn’t figure it out! Which means, I didn’t track it. Nope, I did not!)

Now that the weather has gotten slightly colder and we have less and less daylight, my hubby and I have found we are spending more time at the YMCA. AND………I tried something I said I hated doing and that I would never do. THE TREADMILL! Yes, I ran on the treadmill. And, more than once already. And…..it’s not THAT BAD! I guess.