Friday, September 30, 2011

Food Of The Day: Roasted Chicken Patties

I could live Weight Watchers without Trader Joe's, but it would be harder, that's for sure.

Flo says she wouldn't want to live anywhere without one and I agree. In my opinion, there should be a Trader Joe's next to every Weight Watchers center because TJs offers affordable, delicious, low-Point, high-value food.

I have several favorites from the chain (like this, this, this and this) but if I could only buy one product it would be the Roasted Chicken Patties. I can't believe I haven't posted about these before as I eat them three to four times a week.

They're 3 Points+ each and a great value. I love them on the grill and I love to pair them with grilled vegetables. But to be honest, you could pair them with just about anything.

I tend to front-load my Points each day, so I usually leave less than 5 Points for dinner. Eating at night has never been a challenge, so leaving so few for nighttime doesn't bother me like it may others. Getting through the afternoon, say lunch to dinner is more difficult for me, so I leave Points there for a snack or something to get me through.

If I'm having a patty for dinner I usually only leave 3 Points: enough for one patty and a mound of grilled or roasted veg. If I'm still hungry, which I usually am not, I'll have some fruit for dessert.

If you haven't checked these out, pick up a pack - they're in the TJs fresh meat section with the hamburger, turkey, chicken, sausage, etc. They're great to have on hand if you need a quick, easy dinner that's low-Point and satisfying.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Food Of The Day: Joy Bauer's Power Lunch

I was perusing Twitter the other day and this gem came across from nutritionist Joy Bauer:

"Easy lunch idea: 1 cup brown rice + 1/2 cup black beans + 1/4 cup salsa + 1-2 TB water. Mix thru & microwave."

I've never been a huge brown rice fan, but this looked too good to ignore. Plus, every ingredient is a Weight Watchers Power Food, which means you'll stay fuller longer.

I whipped it up today (took all of 3 minutes, 30 seconds) and it was amazing. A ton of food and a good Points value.

I've never been great at cooking rice, which is why I love Trader Joe's microwavable rice. They offer Organic Jasmine and Brown, both wonderful. They're in the frozen food aisle and "cooking" takes 3 minutes.

One cup of the TJ's brown rice is 4 Points+. One-half cup of black beans is 2 Points+ and 1/4 cup salsa is 0. I used my favorite salsa, Newman's Mango, and it was fantastic - spicy and sweet.

Six Points for a very satisfying, large lunch. Give it a try, it's easy and good.

Here's a link to Bauer's Twitter feed, she shares a lot of good info and ideas.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In which the course is set

I am so psyched for this race.

I've been training for 14 weeks, with one week left to go. Truly, that's a ridiculous amount of time to train for a 10K; I could have prepped for a half-marathon in that time. I wanted a summer fitness goal, and the time from when I started training (late June) to the race (Columbus Day) is 15 weeks.

Regardless, I am pumped. One of the things I like about running (or walking) races is you get to wind your way on major roads through places you really love. And when you run at my pace, you have time to really appreciate the scenery.

So I am looking forward to running through the Back Bay and Cambridge with my BFFs on Oct. 10 - and having a beer or two after. Let's all think cool, dry thoughts.

Also, I adore the slogan of this race. How awesome:

In which your obesity hurts the ones you love

This is Mo. She's our oldest's godmother and the closest person I have to a mother on this Earth.

We got together a few weeks ago, and as I was getting ready to leave, she said quietly, "I'm so proud of you for losing the weight. I was so worried about you."

I knew she was proud of my weight loss, but the worried part threw me. I kinda shrugged it off, a la, "Everything's cool now!" because I was surprised by the latter half of her statement.

As someone who has been obese for most of her adult life, it's hard to believe there's any aspect of obesity and weight loss I haven't considered. But, there it was. I never once thought of the impact my problem had on those who love me.

It's very easy to be myopic when it comes to your weight. You're the one carrying around the extra pounds. You're the person whose clothes don't fit and has no energy. You're the one who feels self-conscious about body image and lacks self-esteem. It's all me-me-me, understandably.

However, since Mo's declaration I've come to realize that obesity hurts your loved ones, too. Silently and deeply, I would presume.

They worry about your health and happiness because both may be sort in supply. The love you and want the best for you and being dangerously overweight is not it.

Chances are, if you're like me, they never told you as much in so many words. Everyone knows obesity hurts and the last thing your loved ones would want to do is hurt you further, so perhaps they never voiced their concern.

But know this: They are concerned and they're quietly waiting and hoping for the day when it clicks for you and you decide to make healthier choices.

If you're thinking about (or currently are) losing weight and need some extra motivation, think of your loved ones, your best friends and closest family.

Do it for yourself, of course, but remember them, too.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The absolute key to weight loss

Things I learned today:

1. It's very hard to take a self-portrait, backwards, with a camera phone via a rear-view mirror.

2. My chest is way more freckled than I ever realized.

September '11: Home Weigh-In 3

After last week's gain I was hot to get the scale moving south once more.

I had a good week eating- and exercise-wise and headed for the scale at 5 a.m. today content that I did all I could.

I was happy to see 166.6, which means I lost 3.4 over the past week, and 2.6 since my last official WW weigh-in on Sept. 6. I have one more week to add to my monthly loss total before I hit my official October weigh-in a week from today.

I would love another 2.4 lbs, which would give me -5 for the month. Exercise-wise, I've got it covered. There's bootcamp tomorrow, a 2-mile run on Thursday, bootcamp on Friday, an 8-miler on Sunday and 1 hour on the elliptical on Monday.

Just a quick aside on the exercise:

Do not think you have to work out like I do to lose weight.

You don't. You don't have to run. You don't have to go to bootcamp. All you have to do is move a few times a week in any sweat-inducing-type manner that you enjoy: walking, Zumba, water aerobics, fitness DVDs, whatever floats your boat and makes you breathe heavy.

I happen to like running and bootcamp, that's why I do them. Sometimes I worry people think they have to hit it hard to get results, but you don't. Just hit it consistently. And sweat. And, you know, have fun.

Anyway, the more challenging end of this week will be eating, as I have a wedding. On Sunday. Sunday evening. Ack.

I've joked with friends that since I have to weigh-in the first Tuesday of each month, I'm going to request my friends and family plan no special occasions the last week of every month. Now I think I'm only half-joking.

However, I'm going in with a plan and I will not let one evening tank my monthly weight-loss total. Even if the food is to die for. Which, from what I've seen, it is. Anyway, this is one of those Melissa-has-to-adapt-to-life moments, not Life-has-to-adapt-to-Melissa, so off we go.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Food Of The Day: Less-Devilish Eggs

Yesterday I wrote about my love of hardboiled eggs and my father's penchant for antiquated putdowns.

Regarding the former, the always-awesome Flo left a gift in the comments, this crazy-good - and easy - recipe for deviled eggs.

Since I happened to have three leftover Yuppie Eggs, I decided to give it a whirl today. It was delicious, easy and low-Point. Pretty much everything I could ask for in a meal.

I definitely will be making this again, thanks again, Flo!

Giggled Eggs (A Deviled Egg Swap)
By LongIslandJimmy

3 Hard Boiled Eggs
1 Wedge Original Laughing Cow Cheese
Salt/Pepper/Paprika (as desired)

Cut the eggs in half. Discard all but 1 & 1/2 yolks.
In a small bowl, use a fork to mash together the cheese and the 1 & 1/2 yolks until well blended.
Add salt/pepper to taste
Fill the mixture back into the egg white halves and top with additional salt/pepper/paprika to taste.

Nutritional Information (based on avg "large" eggs; for the ENTIRE recipe [all 6 halves] ):
Calories: 180
Fat: 10g
Carbohydrates: 2.2g
Fiber: 0g
Protein: 17.5g
WW PointsPlus: 4

In which I get a new license picture

I was very happy that my license expired with my recent birthday because I could finally get a new picture.

Up until this year, the old picture - now 10 years old - was accurate. Now, it's not. I've even had people question whether that was really my license when I needed to produce it. I did like that part.

Anyway, went and got a new pic. Thirty-one-year-old me is on the left and 41-year-old me is on the right.

I think the thing I like the most is I look very tan. Given I'm normally fish-belly-white, I heartily approve of the Registry's new Jersey Shore photo filter.

I've decided 40s are the new 30s. I intend to just get better with age. As well as, you know, more humble.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Food Of The Day: Yuppie Eggs

I suspect eggs are a rather polarizing food.

Either you love them or you hate them.

I'm in the former category, although it's more of an egg salad, hardboiled-eggs-on-a-salad-type love. I'm not a big fried/scrambled egg fan. I originally wrote, "I'm not an over-easy kinda gal," but that just came out wrong. Yet, still funny.

So I love hardboiled eggs, but I hate peeling them. Frankly, I suck at it. I've tried all the tricks and tips, but they always look like a wolverine half-ate them by the time I'm done. And if I'm spending 2 Points+ on an egg, I want the entire thing.

I was happy to discover Trader Joe's (and other manufacturers) sell already-peeled eggs for peeling-deficient folks like myself. Yes, it seems extraordinarily lazy, but convenient.

It's the type of purchase for which my father, if he ever found out, would call me a "Yuppie." What's nice about Dad is the majority of his insults are pre-1986, making them slightly less effective and more amusing. And for that he would call me a "whippersnapper."

Anyway, I love egg salad. It's one of those foods I can go months without, but if I want it, I want it now.

Today was a want day, so I whipped up 3 eggs (6 P+), 1T of fat-free mayo (1P+) and a Pepperidge Farm Sandwich Thin (2 P+). Yum. Three eggs make a decent amount of egg salad, so what you see in the picture is only about half of the result. The rest I ate out of the bowl.

So, if you're a Yuppie, peeling-challenged egg fan like me, check out TJ's offering, which is in the dairy/yogurt/egg section.

In which I run 8 miles

When I printed out my 10K training plan in June, my eyes scanned the list of training runs and stopped when they hit Sunday, September 25.

Long Run: 8 mi.

Oh, boy. Actually, "boy" wasn't what I thought, but you get the gist.

If I'm training for a 6.2-mile run, why does the training plan include an 8-mile run?

Well, I found out this morning. If you can run 8 miles, all of a sudden 6.2 doesn't seem that daunting.

This run has been in the back of my head since. And the closer it got, the more I heard it, 8 miles. You've got 8 miles coming up.

Hell, even toeing the line for a race last week I thought, This time next week, 8 miles.

However, I refused to psych myself out. I can run 6, 8 isn't that much more. Any time I felt anxious about it, I'd tell myself, It's 4 miles out and 4 miles back. That's all.

I got up this morning and had my usual pre-workout snack: a Luna bar. I read the newspaper and since it was Sunday I had more time to lounge around than normal. Then I realized it was more stalling than lounging, so I put on my magic pants (which deserve and will get their own post soon - Edit: And here is that post!) and headed off to the bike path to begin my run.

Since I'd be going 2 more miles than I ever have before, I decided to keep the course relatively flat and easy. It was 67 and overcast when I started running. Not bad. Humidity was 80%, not good.

The first 4 miles went well and I stopped for a couple of minutes to drink water and eat a package of Jelly Belly Sport Beans. This was the first run in which I felt like I would need water and a snack to keep my energy up (I usually don't run with water).

I'm not a fan of gel-based running fuel, but I am a big fan of Jelly Bellies. The Sport Beans were OK, they had a weird aftertaste that I assume was the "sport" part. But they did the job as I didn't faint or bonk.

During the back half of the run the sun came out, the temperature rose and the humidity stayed the same, so it was a lot grittier than the first 4 miles.

When I hit 6.2 miles I thought, "If this were the race, I'd be done right now..."

It wasn't until the last half-mile that I felt tired, and I suspect that was mostly mental. I did a lot of self-pep-talking at the end: You got this. Almost there. Your legs feel great, it's all in your head.

And I really think it was. My legs did indeed feel good, which surprised me. After my first 5-mile run my knees were a little sore afterward. After my first 6-miler, my quads were pretty stiff. But, surprisingly, after 8 miles everything felt A-OK. When I came home, I did ice my knees as a precaution, but that was more preventative rather than a treatment. Yay, Arctic Ease.

Regardless, soon that half mile was over and I was back at the car, toweling off and blasting the AC. Total running time was 1:39, not bad. In I really didn't care about pace, I just wanted to get through it without injury and, mission accomplished.

In Weight Watchers speak that translates into 19(!) Activity Points. I get 29 Points a day, so that's line another two-thirds of a day in food. But I won't even eat half. When I'm in losing mode, I have a deal where I eat 1 AP for every mile run. Still, that's 8 APs I get to enjoy today, which is like another nice meal.

I have one more long run, next Sunday, also 8 miles. Then, one week later it's race day.

This is all rather amazing to me. If you told me at the beginning of this year, "In September, you'll be able to run 8 miles," I would have had a hard time believing it. I could barely run for 30 seconds.

If you told me the same thing in June, I'd have responded, "I can barely run 3."

But now, after a summer of smart, gradual, healthy training, I really can run 8 miles.

I've always had a delicate relationship with running. I hated the actual act, but I loved the results. And I love running races. But the actual getting up and getting out of it, the everyday 3-, 4-milers, I could do without.

But, what do you know, I think I actually like those now. I'm better, (slightly) faster and stronger than I've ever been, and those early morning runs are kinda-sorta fun. I never identified with people said they liked running because it was their time to be alone with their thoughts and away from their troubles.

Yet I get it now. It may be dark, humid, hot, cold, windy or smelly (think garbage cans), but it is my time. I have no responsibilities other than listening to my favorite music and getting back to the car (or house) without injury.

And as a person who by default has her own needs set last on the priority list, that is a luxury in itself. Even if it is sweaty.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Race Report: CVS Caremark 5K

I wanted to do a race on my birthday weekend, it seemed fitting and symbolic.

Originally I thought I'd do one on my birthday, but since I had long-standing plans to strap on a feed bag that day and not look up until the next morning, I decided that probably wasn't a good idea.

However, it being September, there are plenty of races, and I found a large one the day after my birthday.

The CVS 5K in Providence, RI, fields upward of 5,000 runners, and the thought of a huge race appealed to me. My upcoming Tufts 10K has a field of 7,000+ runners, and I figured running something comparable in preparation would be a good way to acclimate to running - or at least starting - in a very big crowd.

And that is was.

I woke up early on race day, the day after my birthday bacchanal. I was wary of what I would feel like, having overeaten the day before, and was concerned my stomach would not be happy with my decision to race. When I woke I was still full from the night before. Not uncomfortable or sick, but definitely not hungry. All things considered, not bad.

Scheduling a race the day after my birthday was also a bit of insurance in case I had the urge to extend my birthday eat-a-thon for one more day. I know myself well and it's possible I would be tempted to extend a one-day splurge into a weekend-long one. And that would not be good.

Having a race the next day would force me to exercise. I knew if I had prereigstered (and prepaid) to race, I would race. And if I raced, I would eat wisely before and after, ensuring my spot back on the healthy bandwagon.

When I got down to the race, I picked up my packet, geared up and headed for the starting chutes. Because the field was so large, runners lined up by their expected finish times. I headed to the 35-minute area and this was my view of the starting line.

If you're thinking, "Hey, I don't see the starting line," you're not blind. It's up and around the corner, out of sight. About two-thirds of the field was ahead of me, the other third behind.

I'm not claustrophic and it's a good thing because this was one big mass of people. However, I found it fun. Everyone was getting pumped up and excited to run, and the vibes rolled off the crowd in waves.

It was exciting and energizing and one of the best things about racing: hundreds (or thousands) of people, all converged in the same place with the same goal. Sure, someone may run the course in half the time it takes me, but we all run the same distance.

Also cool was the fact there were several elite runners in the field (at the front, of course). I'm talking Olympians and folks who have won or placed in the Boston Marathon. In what other sport could a 41-year-old, 12-minute-a-miler soccer mom run the same course as an Olympian? Pretty cool.

Anyway, after the anthem, etc. it was "Runners, on your marks..." We were so far away from the starting line, we didn't even hear the gun go off. But I knew it did because soon we were shuffling toward the start. How big was the field? It took my group 3+ minutes to run/walk to the starting line.

Once we cleared the official line, the road opened on both sides and everyone was able to get some much-needed elbow and running room. The weather was great - mid-50s, cloudy and a slight wind.

The course started near the RI Statehouse (at right) and wound its way through the capital's quaint streets and along of the city's famous places sites: along the Providence River, up to Brown University, back toward the well-known Rhode Island School of Design and back to the also well-known Providence Place Mall.

It was interesting running in a big race because there was a lot of traffic. In smaller races (say under 1,000 runners) I may have a half-dozen people running near me. In this race, there were dozens, so it was good practice navigating runners and passing (amazingly, I did pass people) and practicing good race etiquette.

There were clocks displaying the gun time at every mile marker, so I had a good idea of where I was at. My first mile was great, Mile 2 was less so, but the magic of Mile 2 is, "Hey, only 1 more mile to go."

I wasn't trying to PR this one, instead trying to conserve energy because I knew the last quarter-mile of the course was uphill. I don't mind hills, but the last quarter-mile (on left) seems a bit cruel. Thanks, race director!

As I ran I thought, "Hills build character." I kept trying to convince myself of that before I made the final turn into the hill/homestretch. The climb wasn't as bad as I expected and I've got so much experience running hills around my neighborhood, it wasn't that bad.

I crossed the finish with a time of 37:36. Not bad for running on a food-hungover stomach.

Overall, it was a very fun race, one I'll do next year. The course was interesting and I enjoyed the big-race feel.

That's my last warm-up race before the 10K, now just 16 days away.

September '11: Home Weigh-In 2

Been a demanding week, sorry this update is so late.

I have several blog posts I need to get up. They're written in my head, but getting them from my cranium to my keyboard has been a challenge.

Anyway, I wasn't looking forward to this weigh-in on Tuesday because I ate like a death-row inmate on Saturday. However, I decided to be a big girl and suck it up.

Stepped on the scale and it wasn't that bad - +.8.

Wow, that wasn't bad at all.

And then I remembered, in accordance with my body's usual weight-loss pattern, this should have been a big-loss week, like, upwards of 3-4 lbs. It's very possible I left quite a few pounds on the proverbial table.

However, that's all part of life. Either I learn to enjoy it in moderation and accept and tackle the ensuing gains, or I live like a prisoner denying myself any splurges for the rest of my days. I'll take the former, please.

I am happy to report that since I woke on Sunday I've been right back on my regular, everyday, smart-eating-and-exercise lifestyle, and I like it.

I have 2 weeks until my official October WW weigh-in and I'd love to drop 4 lbs by then. It's possible and I will do my best, as always.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In which I see the extra weight

Went to Home Depot today to buy salt for our water softener system.

It's not one of my favorite jobs because the bags weigh 40 lbs each and are awkward to carry, despite the fact they have a handle.

I piled three into the cart and pushed it to the checkout. As I'm making my way there, mentally cursing our stupid hard water, I realize:

The three bags are the equivalent of what I used to carry around on my skeleton every day. Talk about putting it into perspective.

Next time you see a 40-lb bag of anything, pick it up. Then multiply by three. Oof.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In which I share my running form

My 5-year-old walked up and handed me a piece of paper:

"This is you running."

Sadly, it's frighteningly accurate.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In which the party's over

Yesterday was my much-ballyhooded (by me) birthday, during which I ate whatever I wanted all day long.

I hatched this plan, literally, months ago and I was looking forward to it way too much. All the forbidden fruits, all for me, all day long.

Some friends wisely wondered if it was a good idea. And then there's my wonderful friend Kerry, who counseled two words:

"Pace yourself."

Love that woman.

I'm not going to get into specifics on what I ate and how much (a lot and a lot) because I don't want to put any naughty thoughts in your head. Suffice it to say, it was great...and fun.

But, surprisingly, it wasn't as great or as fun as I had expected.

Maybe it was because I built this freedom up into some mythical level in my head to which it could never live up.

Maybe I'm making some progress on my food issues and the thought of all-you-can-eat isn't the fantasy it used to be.

Now that I'm close to goal (and hopefully will be there by Thanksgiving), it will be easier for me to work much-loved treats into my eating plan on a more-regular (but not too-regular) basis rather than a once-a-year-bacchanal.

With the stress of official weekly WW weigh-ins removed, I should be able to enjoy more special foods in very cautious moderation.

Perhaps that will take some away the "forbidden" or "bad" tint to some high-Point items. And that would be a good thing.

Well, what do you know: 41 for only a day and I'm already a bit wiser.

Friday, September 16, 2011

In which it's a Happy Birthday to me

Tomorrow is my birthday, and as you can see I've already filled out my Journal in advance.

Yes, it's Eat Whatever I Want Day. No tracking, no Points, no rules.

Sept. 17 is the one day all year when I allow myself to eat whatever I want. I didn't do this last year as I was at the very beginning of the weight-loss process and the thought of eat-whatever-you-want was not enticing because I had been doing that for about 6 years straight.

But this year I figured one day of Everything-Is-0-Points is a reasonable indulgence. As long as I keep it to one day.

The temptation to stretch it out into some All-You-Can-Eat Hanukah has been stronger than I expected. My husband was away all week on business, leaving me a tad more stressed and tired than normal. I thought about indulging in a treat here or there in anticipation of the big deal, but I resisted.

Then today I was grocery shopping and not feeling awesome due to my recent "injury."

As I'm navigating the aisles I see all sorts of delicious crap, and then I hear it:

You know, if you're going to eat whatever you want tomorrow, why not just start today?

Ah, tricky evil voice, you're never really far away, are you? Defenses down, it pops up. And I thought about it. I really, really did.

And then I went straight to checkout and got the hell out of the store.

I know where this thinking leads. Two days turns into the whole weekend, which can then extend in the next week, month, etc. And then I'm really not feeling good about myself and the ensuing weight gain. Downward spiral for one, please.

For a person with food issues, is it wise to celebrate my birthday by eating whatever I want - and let's be honest, overeating? Probably not. But I will do it, anyway. And most likely I will feel like complete and utter shit on Sunday. But, you play, you pay.

Anyway, back to the birthday. Tomorrow I turn 41 and I am exceedingly grateful. I enter this year in the best shape of my life, super happy, super healthy, super kick-ass. And, you know, super humble as always.

I was never a milestone birthday person, other than 16.5 (driver's license) and 21. Every other one was just another day to eat cake. Even turning 40 last year was not a reason to freak out.

I am a firm believer that it's absolutely stupid to get freaked out and depressed about birthdays. If you stop having birthdays, then, yeah, freak out because you're dead. Otherwise, what is your problem?

Turning 40 had nothing to do with my decision to lose weight. I could have been turning 41, 46 or even, 50. The impetus was:

Do not waste another day, another month, another birthday. Get this done now.

So I did.

Here's to another great year.

In which I battle the voices in my head

This just plain sucks.

Last week I felt a twinge in my back, just under the left shoulder blade. I've had back spasms before and it wasn't a spasm because it wasn't totally debilitating. It was just one of those, "Hmm, that's interesting"-type things.

I was on the elliptical at the time, but I'm 99% sure it was unrelated as I wasn't using the upper-body portion of the machine.

Fast-forward all week. I'm Motrin-ig it up daily because the pain/muscle pull/whatever the hell it is migrated under my rib cage, now on the front. Without meds, it hurt to breathe, with OTC Motrin it was livable. I wasn't too concerned because I thought it was working its course and was going away. I could still run and walk without pain, so no harm, no foul.

Then, two days ago, it decided to head back around and basically cripple my mid-back, now straight across under both shoulder blades. I wake up stiff as a board. Now that's a back spasm.

This morning was supposed to be my first day back at bootcamp after missing a week due to my husband's work travel. Go figure, 5:30 am sitters are hard to come by.

Excited to get back to business, I set my clothes out last night only to wake up at 5 am stiff as a board.

I gently ease my way downstairs, pop two Motrin and sadly admit to myself I can't make bootcamp. Not only could I pretty much not do anything in the circuit, I could really hurt myself by even trying.

Retreat was the best option, but it has bugged me all day. I don't mind getting injured while doing something, but to just randomly get hurt through no fault of my own seems unfair.

Thanks to the Motrin and an Icy Hot patch, I felt better by 8:30 am, so after dropping my son off at school my youngest and I headed to a local park and we notched 3+ miles of walking. I had to do something.

The fact that I had a scheduled workout today and I could not make it was driving me crazy. My all-or-nothing personality was out in full force. You can't take a day off! You're supposed to work out today! You fail!

In the hour at the park I tried to talk myself down from the insanity. You are legitimately hurt. You would have hurt yourself more if you tried to go to bootcamp. You did not give up. You did not give in. You're pushing 50+ lbs of kid and stroller for an hour. Chill the *@&# out.

I think it's interesting that in a moment of weakness, all those negative voices are still right there, whispering the same crap in my ear as always. However, this time I just talked myself through the issue instead of giving in, beating up on myself and making bad choices.

Small progress, but progress nonetheless.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September '11 Home Weigh-In 1

Got a big 'ol M Tuesday, which means I weighed the exact same this week as I did last.

And, frankly, that's a good thing as I wiped out my WPAs last Sunday at my brother's.

All the food I ate was "good", but it was a lot. Plus there was that cheeseburger and pasta I had post-race Sunday. (For non-WWers, every week we get 49 extra Points - Weekly Points Allowance - that we can eat anytime during the week - or not at all.)

For me, 49 Points translates into basically an extra day-and-a-half of food. Some weeks I eat some. Rarely I eat all. However, they're there if I need them. I rarely use them all so late in my WW week because it could affect how much weight I lose, if any. Did it affect my non-existant loss this week? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows?

This all just goes to show that it doesn't matter how much you work out, you still need to eat smart and controlled. I worked out, literally, 7 days this week, including bootcamp and two 5Ks, and stayed the same. If you want to lose weight you have to manage your eating and exercise for success.

Don't want to sound like I'm complaining here, I'm definitely not. Given the opportunity to choose my foods Sunday again, I would do the same thing. As I've written before, I want it all to be about moderation - not deprivation.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Food Of The Day: Chocolate Raspberry LUNA Bar

Every day I wake up, come downstairs and grab a cold Diet Coke and a Luna bar.

I've been enjoying a Luna bar for breakfast (or pre-breakfast, I eat before and after I work out) pretty much since I rejoined WW a year ago.

If I have to get up early, the fact I basically get to eat a candy bar first thing in the morning is enough carrot-on-a-stick to get me up and out of bed.

I like a lot of the Luna varieties, but my favorite by far is Chocolate Raspberry. Then, tragically, this summer every store stopped carrying it at once. All the other flavors were there, but no Chocolate Raspberry. I pinged Luna to see what was going on, but I never got an answer. Wow, I hope the main ingredient wasn't lead or anything...

I reluctantly fell back to Chocolate Dipped Coconut and Caramel Nut Brownie. Yet every time I went into a department or grocery store, I would take a swing through the appropriate aisle and see if they had any in stock.

I'm not kidding, I did this every time in every store, and I hit a lot of stores in my travels. I came up empty every single time, except for a magical day in August. But I quickly ate through that stash within a couple of weeks and it was never restocked.

Today, I was in one of my regular grocery stops (like most WWers, I can't find everything I need in one place) and out of habit I hit the "nutritional bar" aisle, looking up expecting to see everything but my favorite. And there it was. The box. Full of Chocolate Raspberry. And they were on sale.

I grabbed the box, dumped the contents in my cart and went to put it back on the shelf so they'd know to restock it (Please, God). Then I saw another full box in the back. Grab. Dump. Replace.

Ha ha! Faith rewarded.

I did feel a little bad for the cashier who had to individually ring up each and every bar as they're a pain to scan. But, you know, not too bad.

In which people worry: Are you losing too much weight?

Lately I've had a few friends and loved ones pull me aside and quietly ask: Why are you still trying to lose weight?

I know their concern comes from love and care, that maybe I'm going too far to the opposite end of this weight-loss spectrum: from unhealthily obese to unhealthily thin.

I understand their question and concern. I mean, compared to what I used to look like, yes, currently I am very thin. However, honestly, I'm not too "thin," I'm just pretty fit.

Bootcamp has done wonders for my body. Interval training twice a week for 5 months has radically toned my body into the best it's ever looked. I could have eventually hit 168 lbs without bootcamp, but my body would not look like it currently does, for sure.

I know 160 on a scale is just a number and that lone number is not as important as the sum of how I feel, how my clothes fit, etc.

But I like goals and trying to hit 160 is a good, healthy goal. According to the BMI scale, the healthy weight range for my height is 148-160. I don't believe in BMI, I think it's a number that doesn't take a variety of factors into account, but I still want to try and hit the top end of that healthy weight range. I mean, why not?

If I get to 160 and I cannot maintain that healthily, I will not hesitate to pick a higher number. But I do want to try. For me, it's like setting out to do a 100-piece puzzle and then, once I've put together 92 pieces, just stopping, declaring, "That's good enough."

I can put together the last 8 pieces and I definitely want to try.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Food Of The Day: Concord Grapes

I rarely buy produce at Wal Mart because while the price is right, the quality is usually poor.

However, if I'm there I'll always swing through just in case something good is on sale (eg, fresh raspberries).

Today while on the berry hunt I found these babies: concord grapes, I've also seen them called champagne grapes.

They're super small and super sweet. The pic to your left is to give you a size of their scale, not to suggest you eat them with PB, but if that floats your boat, go ahead.

I love grapes and these are my favorites, by far. And I rarely can find them, I would suspect they're highly seasonal and they come in a 1-lb plastic box to protect them because they're so delicate.

I chanced the purchase due to WM's produce rep, but they were very good. I'm heading back tomorrow to get more as I'm not sure how long they'll be in stock.

If you like grapes, try to find these. I know Trader Joes would carry them from time to time, too.

Race Report: Officer Jaime Cochrane Road Race

Eager for an early-September 5K, I registered for the Canal Diggers on Sept. 10.

About a week later, my two BFFs emailed me:

We're doing the Cochane race on Sept. 11. You in?

Normally, I would never race two days in a row. However:

  • This race was in my hometown.
  • My two BFFs were doing it.
  • I've run it before; it is pancake flat and a very fun, scenic course.
  • It's a run-walk, so I could walk it.
  • It's a big first-responder race and it's on Sept. 11.

    How could I say no?

    I couldn't, which is why I found myself toeing a starting line less than 24 hours after I finished my last 5K, which I PRd, thankyouverymuch.

    Now, I am crazy paranoid about getting injured because I would not be able to run or exercise effectively, thereby affecting my ability to lose/maintain my weight.

    Therefore, I made a deal with myself for this race: If you don't feel good, walk. For God's sake, walk. There is nothing wrong with walking and, in fact, it's much wiser than running when you get right down to it.

    As I stood at the starting line, about 50 yards away from a two-story American flag, I thought, I feel OK. I'll start off running and if I start to feel bad or sore in any way, I will walk.

    In fact, I was taking it so easy I decided to run with my camera in my hand and snap some pictures of the cool scenery, including the Boston skyline, Wollaston Beach and more.

    Air horn, and we're off.

    I take off at a gentle pace, deciding I won't look at my watch - even once - today because that's how little I care about my performance. I will run and have fun.

    As I ran under the giant American flag, I looked up in the sky. It was crystal clear blue, very similar to how it looked on Sept. 11, 2001. As I ran, I saw jet after jet off in the distance, on their normal approach patterns over Quincy to Boston's Logan Airport. Too disconcerting given the day, I stop looking in the sky.

    The first song on my new race playlist, Fatboy Slim's "Ya Mama", is pulsing in my headphones when I hear rhythmic chanting. I glance over my shoulder and see a platoon of police cadets running in formation coming up behind, "Left-left-left-RIGHT-lefting" their way along.

    I found myself running in time with their call-and-responses from their DI, so I let them pass and stay behind them, enjoying their effort. Could I run and sing? I cannot, so I really liked listening to them. I enjoyed it so much I turned off my Nano and just listened to them chant-singing their way through the entire race. I hereby extended an invitation to them to run with me in every race. It was pretty damn fun.

    Three things made me very happy in this race:

    1. It was not as hot as the previous day.

    2. There were 4 water stops over the 3 miles. Oh, how I could have used those yesterday.

    3. Despite the fact I raced the previous day, I felt really, really good. Better than the day before, in fact.

    As I'm running, I'm assessing my legs. I am feeling good, my stride and pace are easy. I'm not dying of thirst nor super hot. Do not look at your watch, I warn myself. You are not PRing today, don't even think about it.

    I'm not sure whether it was proper hydration, weather or the fact I like running behind the cadets, but the race went really fast. Soon we were at the 3-mile mark and heading for the finish. I did not sprint to the last tenth as I would have had to pass the cadet corps to do so and that seemed like a douchey move, especially on 9/11.

    So I kept it slow and let the cadets finish in front as the crowds lining the chute applauded and hollered for them. I finish a respectful distance behind, not desiring to look like a total wannabe.

    I didn't glance at my watch at all during the race and it wasn't until after a post-race cheeseburger and bowl of pasta (yum and yum) that I checked the results print out:

    36:49. Not bad for a run that was truly fun.
  • Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Race Report: Canal Diggers 5K

    I was pretty psyched to get back to racing this weekend.

    A planned 5K in late August was postponed into October thanks to Hurricane Irene, so by the time the Canal Diggers 5K rolled around it had been about 6 weeks since I raced.

    One nice benefit of all this 10K training is I no longer sweat 5Ks. Although, I had one tiny worry on Saturday.

    Because of the past week's biblical rains, my regular Tuesday & Thursday runs had to move to the treadmill, meaning I hadn't run outside in six days. I used to hate to run outside, but now I'm gun shy if I don't. Go figure.

    Anyway, race day dawned and by the 11 am start it was very sunny and pretty darn hot. I took my usual position in the rear near the semi-elite elderly runners and soon we were off. After the first mile I knew I had made one mistake: I didn't drink enough water beforehand and I was very thirsty.

    I never know exactly how much to put away before a race: Too little and you're dehydrated. Too much and your stomach is upset or cramping or your kidneys are begging for mercy. Regardless, I apparently drank too little and was super thirsty from the get-go.

    Regardless, by the time we hit the 1-mile mark I couldn't believe my eyes. The clock gave me a gun time of 11 minutes and change. Since gun time isn't when I crossed the start, I checked my watch: I was running a 10-minute mile and change. That is very fast for me, but I felt OK, so I kept it up.

    At 1.6 miles the (sadly for me) only water stop of the race was upon us. I did something I never do: I grabbed two cups, walked off to the side out of the way of the other runners and stopped to drink. I usually do that grab-and-run-and-drink thing, and while it looks cool, I'm not very effective in getting the water in my mouth while I'm running. This time I needed every drop, so I stopped and drank.

    Feeling better, I took off and soon saw the 2-mile marker and clock. The gun time was 23-something and I realized, I could PR this. After my last race, I knew my next running goal (other than, you know, finishing without injury) was to run a sub-35-minute 5K. I could do that today, I thought. I knew the rest of the course was flat and I only had 1 mile to go.

    For the next mile I tried to run quickly and efficiently, without blowing out too much energy and fading completely. Given it was only getting hotter, there was no shade in the blazing sun and I was once again really thirsty and not feeling peak, this was kinda tricky.

    Soon, there in the distance, was the 3-mile marker and clock. It read 32-something. I knew I had it in the bag, but I decided to sprint the last tenth anyway, knowing sweet relief and lots of water were just up ahead.

    As I crossed the finish the clock read 35 and change, but I knew my chip time would be under 35. I came in at 34:22, my fastest 5K yet. My previous PR was 37:33, but that was run in a monsoon.

    I quickly swooped around the finish and headed into the staging area, grabbing three 20-oz waters and wearing my first finisher's medal. Seriously, how cool is that? It is an Irish-themed race, after all...

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    Food Of The Day: Fresh Raspberries

    I'm really going to miss these guys when they're no longer plentiful and relatively inexpensive.

    Raspberries with a dollop of fat-free Cool Whip has been my afternoon snack all summer. And, in other news, I seriously could eat a whole container of fat-free Cool Whip in about 10 minutes. Not saying I have, but I could.

    Does this mean fat-free Cool Whip is now a trigger food for me? Because, if so, that's one lame trigger food. And Cool Whip isn't even really "food," much like I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is not really butter, but a collection of chemicals that taste like butter. And I can believe it's not butter. But, for 0 Points+, I enjoy it.

    Anyway, I stocked up on sale raspberries today and I fear it will be the last hurrah until next summer.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    In which I almost skip bootcamp

    In my 5 months of bootcamping, I've never skipped a class, but I came pretty close this morning.

    Yesterday I had to run in the evening instead of the morning because of my weigh-in, and by the time my husband got home and settled, I couldn't set out until after 7 pm. It was dark and raining by then, so it was a treadmill run at the gym. I ran from 7:30-8:45, not returning home until after 9 pm.

    This was a problem because I usually go to bed by 10-10:30 pm. But I was ramped up from my run, so I didn't get to bed until after 11 pm, which made today's 5 am alarm quite sucky.

    I apparently hit Alarm Off instead of Snooze and didn't wake up until 5:25 am. I have to leave for bootcamp by 5:45 am at the very latest, so I had a quick decision to make: Skip or go.

    I could hear it pouring outside and see it was pitch black out. You could just sleep in, I thought. You deserve a rest day - you do have to run 6 miles tomorrow, why not take a day off? Or, if you must, you could work out later at home, do a DVD. It won't be a crime.

    I closed my eyes and hoped that sleep would pull me back under, relieving me of the decision. By the time I wake up it will be too late to go and the decision made for me.

    I closed my eyes and the next time I opened them it was...5:30 am. Frig, I'm going...I'm going.

    I dressed quickly, grabbed a water and a Luna bar and headed for the garage.

    I walked into the gym and there was no equipment set up, the space completely bare. This is Bad News (capital B and N) when it comes to bootcamp. It means either it's Testing (insane and not what I wanted in my current state) or it was an all-body-weight circuit.

    Body-weight exercises are my least favorite because, well, they're hard. And today was upper-body/core focused - not my strongest area. We're talking planks, push ups, Mountain Climbers, crunches, etc., basically everything I would fast-forward through if it were a fitness DVD.

    However, despite all my bitching, I am really happy I went. The exercises I least want to do are always the ones I need to do most. Plus, it turns out it was the last Wednesday class for one of my trainers, so I'm glad she got to put me through the wringer one more time.

    Ninety more minutes of sleep would not have delivered the satisfaction I found after finishing class. Glad I made the right choice.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Maintenance Weigh-In 1

    As I've been trumpeting non-stop, today was my one-year anniversary of rejoining Weight Watchers, as well as my first monthly weigh-in since reclaiming my Lifetime status.

    As a Lifetime member, I have to weigh-in once a month to ensure I've stayed within 2 lbs of my Goal weight, 175. As long as I didn't weigh more than 177 lbs, I would be able to continue to attend meetings for free.

    A quick aside, I've had people ask, "Why do you still go to the meetings every week?" Valid question. For me, it's a case of "Check yourself before you wreck yourself." Get a little success and it's easy to think you've got in all covered: "Eh, I don't need meetings anymore. I know everything!"

    Um, no. At least not for me. The key to continued success for me is weekly meeting attendance. If I'm cruising right along, I need to remember how hard it can be by listening to those who are struggling and trying to offer them help. If I'm having a problem, I need help from my leader and fellow members.

    Getting to still attend meetings every week - for free - is truly an honor and a privilege, and it keeps my head on straight. When I made Lifetime in 2003, I stopped going to meetings. And we know how that turned out.

    Anyway, I got to the meeting early for a multitude of reasons:

  • I was dying to know what the official WW scale said. This morning my home scale had me at 169.2. I needed to know the Rosetta Stone differential between the two so I would have a good idea of how I am progressing week to week when I do unofficial Tuesday morning WIs at home.

  • With summer unofficially over, meeting attendance skyrockets, everyone wants to get back on track, which means longer lines at the scale.

  • It was the first week of the month, so many Lifetimers would be returning to get their monthly WI out of the way.

  • I was starving. Since I was weighing in, I didn't eat or drink anything all morning, and by 10 am I am fading and cranky bigtime.

    Getting to the meetings early is rarely a good idea because it means that much more time my children have to keep it together in the Center. However, I was willing to endure that because, dammit, I needed an official weight, a Luna bar and a Diet Coke, in that order.

    When I walked in, only one person was ahead of me. Literally 2 minutes later, 5 people were behind me, and it was 20 minutes before the meeting start.

    My Weight Watchers Center was just refurbished this summer, so new scales and pretty much everything else. I like these new scales because I can read the monitor display and get my number without waiting for the receptionist to tell me, and sometimes it takes them a while to share it.

    I stepped on and, seriously, I thought my heart would beat out of my chest. I wish I was wearing a heart-rate monitor because it must have gone through the roof. Even after 52 weigh-ins, I still get nervous.

    Trying not to move a muscle I craned my eyes toward the display: 168.8.

    Excellent! My August weigh-in was 174.6, which means I lost 5.8 lbs over the month and, even better, met my end-of-summer goal by dropping into the 160s. Now I'm just 8.8 lbs away from my personal goal of 160.

    Last week I went through my closet, purging any remaining clothes that no longer fit. Way back in the closet I found an old pair of 3x pants I used to wear last summer. I held onto them and thought it would be fun to play Show and Tell at the meeting.

    I checked with Jackie, my leader, (above right in the picture, click to biggify) and she was psyched. She called me up and I got to unfurl (and that is the right verb) the giant pants and fit in one pant leg.

    That's the weight-loss equivalent of popping a wheelie. And a pretty fun way to celebrate an anniversary, to boot.
  • Monday, September 5, 2011

    In which I describe my last, last meal

    A year ago today was my last day before joining Weight Watchers.

    Where did I pick for my last meal? Chili's. Seriously, how sad that is? That may be more depressing than weighing 282 lbs.

    Not to bash Chili's but that's not a great place for a last meal. Yet it shows how sick and tired I was of eating whatever I wanted, I couldn't even muster up the enthusiasm to go to a more exciting place for my final splurge meal. (I believe it was nachos and queso dip and fajitas, if you were curious.)

    I knew it was time to get back to WW because no food excited me anymore. I had eaten pretty much everything that had turned me on food-wise and I was burnt out. Rock bottom and just in time.

    For months I knew that when the kids went back to school, I would rejoin WW. I would still have one child with me, so I picked the local Mommy & Me meeting, where you get less of a stink eye for children than you would at a normal meeting. My good friend, Kerry, decided she wanted to lose, too, so we agreed to join the Tuesday morning class.

    While Kerry's kids had already gone back to school, mine had one more week. But so desperate I was to get back in the swing of things, I rejoined the same day as Kerry, with my 4-, 3- and 1-year-old in tow. I could have had one more week to eat whatever I wanted but I didn't want to. All I wanted was to get back to WW and get down to business.

    I remember posting a Facebook status update that night. I'm not going to spelunk through a year's worth of my wall to find it, but it was something like, "Very excited to rejoin Weight Watchers in the morning."

    That was a big step: Admitting, "Hey, I'm fat and I need help" in such a public place.

    But it goes to show how I was excited to head to WW. And, happily, I still am.

    In which it all moves me to tears

    For the past 364 days I've been a Weight Watcher, I've never cried over it, which is odd considering how charged this whole process is with emotion.

    Joy, sadness, frustration, exertion, fear, accomplishment, worry, anger, triumph: It can be an emotional roller coaster. And I'm a very emotional person who crys at the drop of a hat, so it's odd I was never moved to tears over anything at any point.

    Until this morning.

    I went to the gym for my weekly trip on the elliptical. I love Monday mornings at the gym and I truly enjoy the elliptical. I can listen to my music, watch/read SportsCenter, work up a good sweat and really let my mind wander without worrying I may run into a ditch, get hit by a car or take an 8-lb medicine ball to the head.

    After the gym, I made a quick trip to the grocery store and then drove home.

    About halfway home, Coldplay's "Fix You" came on. It's one of my all-time favorite moody/broody songs and the combination of that song and thinking about my past almost-year on WW just about knocked me out from the first chords.

    I joined WW a year ago tomorrow and I've been thinking a lot about that over the past few days: where I was, where I am now. Maybe everything was simmering just under the surface but, very quickly, I was pulled under a giant tidal wave of emotion.

    I'm wasn't sure why the tears fell today. Exhaustion? Joy? I don't know. I wasn't sad, but I also wasn't overjoyed. When I got to this point in the process, I thought I would be incredibly triumphant. What was I feeling? I didn't know, but I knew I had never experienced it before.

    But then, after hours of thinking about it in the back of my head, it hit me: Relief. I cried because I was so very relieved.

    You see, when I made Lifetime in 2003, the final few months were a real grind. Mentally it was very difficult and I could feel myself slipping. I'd drive by a convenience store and daydream about all the food I would love to eat. I really wanted the Point-counting and exercise to end. Sure, the scale said I was at my Lifetime weight, but my head wasn't.

    I had massive urges to sneak away and eat whatever I wanted. And it killed me until I finally gave in, did just that and didn't look back until Sept. 7, 2010.

    But I realized today that mentally I have made it - or at least further than I have before. I no longer have those urges. I truly am OK with this whole process having no end point and WWing for the rest of my life.

    I know it won't be easy, but it will be manageable, and I will be able to peacefully enjoy life and food.

    So to arrive at that point after a lifetime of losing, gaining and now, finally, losing for good, sure, cry away.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    In which I fight fair food

    We took the kids to one of our favorite country fairs yesterday.

    I love fairs. They're fun, loud, honky-tonk and slightly trashy, with rides of questionable safety and food of absolutely no nutritional value.

    If it were any other week, I'd had saved some Activity Points or Weeklies to spend in a delicious onslaught of something fried, sugary or savory. Or, all three.

    But I have my official-it-really-counts-this-week monthly weigh-in at the watchers of weight on Tuesday, and the timing (72-ish hours) was too close for my comfort.

    So, what to do?

    One of my goals for, frankly, the rest of my life, is to have a "normal" relationship with food. I know that's a charged adjective, but here's what I mean: I don't want to eschew all good-but-bad foods for the rest of my days. And I also don't want to weight 282 lbs again.

    I want to be able to enjoy junky stuff in moderation, here and there. Mostly there, I suspect. And I don't want to hold my family hostage so that they can never enjoy places or foods that I may decline.

    It's never going to be: "Kids, we can't go to the fair because Mom can't eat anything."

    Anyway, you get the point. Mom is going to adapt to the situation, whatever that is.

    So while I would be abstaining from fair food porn on this trip, it doesn't mean I will be forever. It just happened to be a timing thing. I had a piece of fried dough at Six Flags last month, for instance and - holy God - it was good.

    OK, so back to Saturday. Since I knew going in I wouldn't be eating at the fair, I planned ahead. I made sure I had all the ingredients for a yummy, low-Point lunch: Board's Head turkey and bacon (yay!) on a Pepperidge Farm sandwich thin. Plus, grapes. And, you know, water.

    I packed my lunch that morning, jammed the lunch bag in the bottom of the stroller and had it on hand when it was time to eat.

    I didn't feel left out. I didn't feel like I was missing out. I didn't feel like I was being punished. I felt like I made the smart move and I was damn proud of myself for doing so.

    Yes, everything smelled and looked delicious. Everywhere I looked someone was jamming something fantastic in their pie hole. But I wasn't tempted or in a foul mood because I will live to eat fried dough another day - just not 3 days before weigh-in.

    In which I run 6 miles for the first time

    Adios August, it was quite a big month for me running-wise.

    Coming into the month, the furthest I'd ever run was a 5K - 3.1 miles. Leaving August, I'm now up to 6 miles and in good shape to - finally - hit that 10K Columbus Day weekend. Seriously, it feels like it will never get here. That's one mistake I made, leaving myself too much time to train.

    Anyway, because of a possible conflict with today, I made Tuesday my long run and struck out for 6 miles. I hadn't run since the previous Thursday thanks to Hurricane Irene, so my legs were in great shape. It was mid-50s, sunny and cool. Perfect running weather.

    The run passed relatively quickly and when I stopped, there it was on my watch - 6 miles. My quads were a little stiff, but other than that, no sore knees. Pretty great.

    Weekly running roundup:

  • Had a 4-mile Tempo run at the track Thursday that quickly disintegrated into a 4-mile-Just-Get-Through-It run. About 1.5 miles in I got hit with some serious abdominal cramps. Not sure why, as I didn't go or eat anything different before my run or even the day before, but regardless, they meant business.

    I stopped worrying about pace and just gutted it out. To make matters worse, not only was I suffering below the equator, I was also super sore upstairs. The previous day's bootcamp circuit was upper-body heavy and left me sore in the shoulders, triceps and lats. How sore? Like, I got a hug from my husband and let out an "Ah!" It was not the "Ah!" he was looking for.

  • Today was another 4-miler. Summer may be slipping away but the mugginess definitely was holding on and holding out this morning. It was strange, it was hot and muggy, but the moment the breeze kicked in I felt cold.

    One thing about losing a lot of weight: My body temperature is all sorts of screwed up. I am cold, often, even when it's August and 80+ degrees. I've taken to keeping a hoodie in the car for the times I go into the grocery store, where it tends to be Ice Station Zebra. I used to love Ice Station Zebra as I was always hot. Now, it's the opposite.

    Last week I was walking into the grocery store and a woman stopped me: "Thank God you have a sweatshirt on! I thought I was the only person crazy enough to be cold today." For the record, she looked to be in great shape. Score.

  • This morning I was sitting in my favorite spot in the living room, drinking a Diet Coke and reading the Sunday paper. I looked at the time: Time to get dressed and run. Most run mornings, this is the hardest part: Getting up and getting out. Trying to psych myself up I thought, "It's only 4 miles..."

    Later, on said run, I was doing my usual Thinking About Anything But Running routine and it hit me. I actually, honestly thought, "It's only 4 miles." A month ago, 4 miles was relatively formidable. And now, it's just another run.

    See, these are the moments I live for in this process. Sure, progress on the scale is great. But it's the little, everyday things like wearing smaller clothes or discovering your collarbone that get you. They sneak up on you and surprise you. They make you stop and think: It really is happening. You really have changed. You really did it. It's not in your mind. It is concrete and real and true.

  • Oh, and I ascended Little Bitch Hill in stride this morning, without even trying. When I run around my neighborhood there is a small, but steep, hill that is always within the first 2 minutes of my run. That particular stretch of road is not officially known as Little Bitch Hill - that's my own invention - although wouldn't that be cool if it was? ("Hey, how do I get to the elementary school?" "Oh, go straight up Little Bitch Hill, bear left and it's a half-mile on your left.")

    Regardless, I usually shift into a hill-running tactics when I hit it, but this morning, not thinking, I just ran it. I got to the top, in stride, surprisingly not winded and realized what I had done. If I had a flag I would have planted it.

    So now that the calendar has moved to September it's my last full month of 10K training. My training plan calls for lots of miles this month, an uptick in running days from 3 to 4 and, gulp, two 8-milers. If I'm training for a 10K, why am I running 8 milers? I have no idea. But this piece of paper has not steered me wrong yet, so I soldier on.
  • Thursday, September 1, 2011

    In which I surprise myself at the gym

    Hurricane Irene screwed up quite a few things here in the Northeast last weekend, including my workout plans.

    My highly-anticipated free-beer-and-BBQ 5K was postponed, understandably, leaving me with two days off from exercise and stuck huddled in the house with the family, praying the power didn't go out.

    On Sunday night, after the all-day storm subsided, I had two thoughts:

  • I need to get away from these kids.

  • I need to get to the gym.

    The surprising thing about the latter is, for the first time, I really wanted to go to the gym because I wanted to go.

    I wanted to work out. I wanted to sweat. After nearly 9 months of heavy workouts and gym trips, for the first time I really wanted to go because I wanted to. Not because of guilt. Or because it was the day before weigh-in. Or because I should. Or even because I planned to.

    But, finally, because I loved the feel of my muscles working hard, a soaking sweat and the satisfaction of a good effort.

    Happily I drove over to the gym at 5:45 am and found it had power and was open. I hopped on the elliptical, dialed it up to Level 15 and 60 minutes of Random Hill fun.

    And I friggin' killed it.

    Seriously, those two days off yielded very fresh legs that were ready to roll. Normally I'll do 45 minutes on the elliptical, but I really wanted more, so I added another 15 minutes. I started out at my regular Level 10, but it felt way too easy. I had to jack it up to 15 before I felt like I was really working as hard as I wanted.

    I hit that elliptical harder than ever before. Full of energy at 6 am and an awesome new playlist, I rode that machine into the ground and loved every minute of it.