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!

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Disgusted and appalled!

This week in my Weight Watchers meetings our topic was portions and portion control. One of my members recently returned from Las Vegas and shared a story with our group. I think the entire time she spoke, my jaw – along with everyone else’s jaws – were hanging on the floor.

Heart Attack Grill.

Have you ever heard of it? I wish I never had. In a world where obesity is now an epidemic and continues to spiral out of control, restaurants such as this should not be able to open. Plain and simple, they should not exist. It is utterly disgusting and repulsive. They celebrate obesity like it’s a good thing.

I mean, seriously, HEART ATTACK GRILL??????? What kind of name is that anyway? You want your customers to HAVE a heart attack? Like this is something good? Obviously, you don’t value peoples’ lives. I am angered by this restaurant. Seriously angered. How can the owner celebrate obesity? How can the owner celebrate an unhealthy lifestyle? Why does the owner wish ill health upon customers?

So, what is this restaurant all about? Well, for starters, if you weigh over 350 pounds, you get to eat for free. Really? You’ve got to be kidding me. There is a scale to weigh the customers and it’s not in private. Oh no, it’s in-your-face in front of everyone so people can cheer you on, hoping and wishing you tip the scale over that 350-pound mark so you can eat for free. And by the way, cheering heavy people on? What? What the hell is this world coming to? Utter disgust.

The waitresses, apparently, are dressed in nurses outfits. Really? Like if someone had a heart attack they would know what to do. Don’t think so. And speaking of that, apparently some guy had a heart attack in the restaurant recently and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. Really? It was publicized like it was cool. O.M.G!!!!!!!! Give me a break. Luckily, the guy didn’t die.

Shouldn’t this be a wake-up call? Come on people…QUIT patronizing the restaurant!!!!!!! Quit celebrating obesity!!!!! Quick celebrating an unhealthy lifestyle!!!!!!

I found some pictures, via the restaurants website, that I thought I would share with you all. Really, I can’t even find the right words anymore to explain how disgusted I am. It truly is repulsive. Plain and simple.

Check ‘em out:

The outside of the building

Yep, here are the waitresses (I'll keep my comments to myself on this one!)

Apparently, this is called the quadruple burger. For real? I wonder how many Points Plus Values this has?

The outside of the menu

The inside of the menu

Can you feel my blood pressure rising? This is so utterly ridiculous. But I guess it fits in Vegas, doesn’t it?

Like P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps? Try these!

Last week, one of my Weight Watchers members gave me a recipe for lettuce wraps. The recipe was supposed to be similar to P.F. Chang’s signature lettuce wraps. Well, I am here to tell you…they were DELICIOUS! And yes, very close to the ones at the wonderful Chinese restaurant.

My guess, however, is that these are just a wee-bit healthier!

My awesomely, wonderful chef-of-a-husband made them for us today. Because I enjoyed them so much, I thought I would share the recipe with all of you. So, here you go…ENJOY!

Turkey mixture

1 lb extra lean ground turkey

8 scallions, white & green part chopped

1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained, rinsed & chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped fine

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp ginger (either from a jar or freshly grated)

1 tbsp water

2 tsp sesame oil

1 large head butter lettuce, washed, dried & leaves separated

Sauce

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tbsp ginger (either from a jar or freshly grated)

1 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp garlic

1. In a large pan, brown the turkey, breaking up the pieces. Pour into a colander in the sink and drain the fat. Return chicken to pan. When cool enough to handle, break the turkey into pieces until minced.

2. Add the scallions, water chestnuts, red pepper, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, water and sesame oil. Cook for a few minutes until the scallions and red pepper are soft. Keep warm.

3. In a small bowl, add all the dipping sauce ingredients together and mix well.

4. To assemble each wrap, spoon about 2/3 cup mixture onto one lettuce leaf, top with about one teaspoon of sauce and then roll it up and enjoy!

Makes: 8 lettuce wraps – Use about 2/3 cup mixture, one lettuce leaf & 1 tsp of dipping sauce per wrap

PointsPlus Value per serving: 2

Lettuce wraps

In control?

What a weekend I had. Exhausting. Exhilarating. Fun. Frightening. Stressful. Silly. Nerve-wracking. Nice. Tiresome. And totally awesome.

I left my house at 6 a.m. Friday morning and didn’t arrive back home until 9:30 p.m. Sunday night. I traveled to Milwaukee this past weekend for a Weight Watchers seminar.

But here’s the thing, this is the first time since I started my healthy living journey that I had no control over the majority of meals starting with lunch on Friday and ending with lunch on Sunday. When I realized this before I left, I kind of panicked. But really, why? I was going to a Weight Watchers seminar. Did I really think they were going to feed us unhealthy food? Not really, I guess, but I was a little nervous and worried.

I didn’t have to be.

The meals were awesome. Lots of fruit and veggies. Perfect amount of protein and carbs. Hardly any fat and just the right amount of grains. Every meal had a huge bowl of fruit with honeydew melon, canteloupe, grapes, pineapple and strawberries. We had apples, oranges and bananas for snacks. I have to admit, I was thoroughly impressed with the food. Especially because we were at a Sheraton Hotel and all but one meal was provided by the hotel.

On Saturday night, we – our group of 15 WW women – were on our own for supper. We ended up splitting into two groups – one group went to a restaurant called Stir Crazy (I think it was Chinese or something like that) and the other went to…believe it or not….Fuddruckers! Yes, the hamburger joint.

And yes, I was in that group. I chose Fuddruckers. See, the cool thing is, Fuddruckers has healthy choices. They offer a variety of burgers, including elk, ostrich and buffalo, which are healthier options because the meat is real lean. And the healthier burgers come on a healthier wheat bun. I opted for the turkey burger. I have been wanting to try one and haven’t gotten around to doing so. It came on a wheat bun that wasn’t all slathered in butter and toasted on a greasy grill. I did, however, only eat the top part of the bun and the whole burger. No cheese. No mayo. Nothing. It was plain. Although I did dunk it in ketchup.

And you know what, it was pretty dang good. Awesome actually. See, the thing that people don’t realize is that you can have a burger, even a “real” hamburger, but you don’t need to drown it in mayo or cheese or some other type of fattening dressing or sauce. Just enjoy the taste of the meat and the bun. Dunk in a little ketchup or even a little barbecue sauce if you must. Of course, I did have fries with my turkey burger, but I opted for the sweet potato fries, which are a tad bit healthier for you.

Before I left for this weekend, I had made the decision not to track my food while I was gone. I decided that I would just try it and see what would happen. Now, keep in mind that I hit the hotel fitness center bright and early Saturday morning (yes, it was at 6 a.m.) and I kept my portion sizes in check. Oh, and also, there were no desserts offered at any of our meals. No pie. No cookies. No cake. No brownies. No rolls of any kind. No chocolatey ooey gooey goodness. And you want to know what? I survived. I was just fine.

Now, here is the really, really, really cool part…….when I stepped on the scale this morning, I had no idea – I mean no idea – whether or not I had stayed the same or gained. Well, I was quite please when I saw that the number this morning was less than the number I saw on Friday morning when I left. It was less. I couldn’t believe it. Really, I couldn’t. I am guessing it won’t stay, but I don’t care. I didn’t gain and that makes me happy.

And believe it or not, this morning, I was actually excited to grab my tracker and write down my daily food intake. I actually missed it. Weird, I know.

Taking a hiatus…from eating at restaurants!

After three days in a row of eating out, I have decided I am taking a hiatus from restaurant food and I am really going to try and eat at home for the next two-three weeks. It’s not that hard, actually. I’ve done it before. And survived.

However, with my schedule over the course of the next few weeks, it may be a lofty goal.

I am sure going to try, though, because seriously, going out to eat sure takes a toll on the ol’ pocketbook. Plus, the calories really add up fast, as does the sodium. My gosh, restaurant food must be salty! I seriously feel like the Michelin Man or the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the movie, Ghostbusters. Plus, the number on the scale this morning was not fun to see. Every morning, right before I get in the shower, I step on the scale. For the last couple of months, it has been hanging around the 138 mark. Nice, huh? Yep, much better than the 192 pounds it used to be! Anyway, the numbers this morning…were…are you ready for this….144 pounds. In the course of three days, I had gained about six pounds. Yes, 6….S-I-X!!! Craziness. Pure and simple.

So, it all started on Friday when I went out to lunch with my Weight Watchers co-workers. I ate healthy…a #4 Turkey Tom Unwich with no cheese, no mayo, add avocado spread and cucumbers. Oh, and I also had a bag of plain, baked Lays potato chips. Not bad. Actually, it was pretty darn good…and healthy!

Then, after my husband got home from work (I took the day off), we headed to Fargo, ND for Saturday’s 10K race. After checking into the hotel and then a brief stop at Scheel’s to pick up a headband for Al, we headed to HuHot, a Mongolian grill. This can be healthy, as long as you stick to lots of veggies and stay away from the noodles and rice and only have one helping. Whoops, I, believe it or not, had two helpings and had my fair share of both noodles and rice. Aren’t you supposed to load up on carbs before a race? Think so, but probably not as much as I ate. Stupid. I seriously felt sick after, but it did taste great when I was eating it.

On Saturday, after the race, we headed to IHop, which by the way, is becoming one of my favorite go-to breakfast places. They have healthy options on the menu, which I love. They are called Simple and Fit and are all under 600 calories. I had the Simple and Fit Two x Two x Two, which is two pieces of turkey bacon, two pancakes (I had it with sugar free syrup) and two scrambled eggs using egg substitute. The calories, without the syrup, was listed at 400. Not bad. Didn’t feel totally full when I was done. It was a nice feeling.

Saturday evening, Al and I headed out to Bella’s on Broadway, an Italian restaurant in downtown Alexandria. We had planned to go out to eat because we were celebrating our second wedding anniversary. Because it was a celebration and because I had planned for it…I mean, come on, I ran a 10K that morning, I didn’t even think about what I was ordering and just ordered whatever I wanted! Of course, I had to indulge in the pre-meal bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and oil. Yum, it is sooo good. I think I ate four pieces! Or maybe it was five. We also ordered a bottle of wine to go with our meal. Yes, I said bottle. Not glass. For my entree, I ordered the Farfalle Diavolo, which was bowtie pasta with artichokes, black olives, tomatoes, onion and garlic in a red pepper cream sauce. Yes, it was as delicious as it sounded. Believe it or not, we opted not to have dessert…at Bella’s anyway. Oh, and I actually didn’t finish my meal. I brought home leftovers. (Yes, I devoured them the next day!)

We ended up going for a walk and found ourselves at another restaurant/bar…6th Avenue Wine and Ale in downtown Alexandria. We ordered the chocolate blossom for dessert, which was a chocolate pastry thing with chocolate ganache inside a puffed pastry with whipped cream and caramel on top. It was…just okay. Yes, just okay. Too much pastry and not enough chocolate for me. Al actually ate most of it.

So, when Sunday arrived and I woke up, I could feel the puffiness. My fingers were swollen. My toes were swollen. And I was thirsty as all get out. The sodium was definitely having an affect on me. I usually tend to stay away from sodium and I rarely, and I mean rarely, eat prepackaged-type foods that are oozing with too much sodium. My body just can’t handle that much sodium.

Well, we got a call from our friends from Fargo…they were on their way home from Sartell and wanted to stop in Alexandria to visit and…to go out to eat. We couldn’t resist because we don’t see them that often and we LOVE visiting with them. They are one of our favorites couples.

So, off to yet another restaurant. This time, it was Tennessee Roadhouse, a local restaurant out by the Interstate. We haven’t eaten at this restaurant in a really long time, so I was actually looking forward to it. Because I felt like I was starving for some reason or another (it was probably the wine from the night before), I ordered the barbecued pulled pork on a bun (yes, the bun was slathered in either oil or butter and then grilled to perfection) with sweet potato fries. I just wasn’t feeling very healthy. Well, I am glad (kind of) that I ordered what I ordered because…OMG! It was delicious. I scarfed the entire meal. It was delicious, fattening, sodium-filled and I didn’t even care. We ended up having dessert because part of our order was messed up. The turtle cheesecake definitely hit the spot. Was I really hungry for it? Nope. Was I filled to the max already? Yep. But did I eat my half and then some? You betcha. And was I feeling like absolute crap afterward? Yes, indeedy, I was. I made my hubby walk around Walmart for nearly an hour because I was feeling so yucky.

So, now it’s Monday and I am trying to detoxify and rid my body of all the sodium, fat and junk from this weekend and the three-day eating binge. I am proud of today. I ate awesomely. Lots of fruits, veggies and hardly any sodium. I even managed to get in a 2.5 mile run. Thank goodness.

So, my goal stands. I am hoping to stay out of restaurants for the next couple of weeks. But, I am a realistic person and if it so happens I end up going out to eat, I WILL EAT HEALTHY. I will. I promise…to you, my readers, and to myself. I also plan to exercise at least four days each week. And I will do it. I have to. I can. I will.