Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Am a Commitment

A woman named Mirna Valerio was recently profiled by Runner's World, and the article teaser teaser read, "Is is possible to be fat and fit?  At 250 pounds, distance runner Mirna Valerio provides an inspiring example."

She IS quite inspiring:  she just ran the 35 mile Georgia Jewel trail run - read about it here on her blog Fat Girl Running.

But my immediate reaction to the article was wow do I ever need to stop making excuses about my running.  By the end of the article I realized the difference between Mirna and me is that she realizes the limitations brought on by her weight but doesn't let them stop her from doing the thing she loves - distance running.

So now I have to admit it has made this chubby, middle aged lady do a lot of thinking about getting back into some distance running, accepting my current limitations and not worrying about whether or not I'll ever run a 9 minute mile again.

Still it has been quite some time since I've run anything over 5-6 miles that I need to figure out how to ease myself back towards longer distances and just what that would mean at my current weight/pace.

Definitely a lot to think about.


Although I knew it was raining (after months of no rain we are expecting 5-6 days straight of rain), I wanted to make sure I had dressed right to go out to the treadmill for my run this morning, so as I sipped my coffee I grabbed my phone and looked at my Weather Channel app.  What is wrong with this picture?  Seriously, I kept my shorts and tee on, never mind that "feel like" temp.


We are finally done with all the events surrounding Mr. Helen's black belt advancement.  The final thing was the potluck dinner and speeches from those who had earned their belts.  I made Braised Pork Carnitas (the only thing I change in this recipe is that I do not put the salsa in),  Puerto Rican style rice and peas, and homemade coleslaw.  The hungry people ate it up. I actually really enjoyed this particular group, maybe because there were more adults than kids so the speeches were really interesting.

One speech in particular has had me doing some deep thinking.  For months before the actual test, Vince - a forty-something year old man, was posting on Facebook every single day, "I am a commitment to earn my second degree black belt."  Every time I saw that sentence I wanted to correct it to "I am committed" but he's British so I thought maybe that was some colloquial thing and I let it go.

During his speech, he talked about how after he earned his first degree, things sort of fell apart for him and he couldn't seem to get his mojo back but because he's the sort of person who just muddles along and also because his kids attend, he just kept going to karate.  Suddenly one year had passed and it was time for the Kyoshi to select who would test the next year for their belt.  From what he said, she called him into her office and basically told him to snap out of it and that if he didn't he might as well quit because he wasn't going to earn that next belt.  After he left he mulled it over and thought what a bad example that would be for his two girls so he began this mantra, "I am a commitment to earn my second degree black belt." As time went on,his mind believed and he really did begin to act as if he was going to test for that belt. Then, of course, he did - in fact, he and Mr. Helen were partnered up for the weekend and he had some really nice things to say about Mr. Helen.

Anyway, after the speeches I asked him about "I am a commitment" and he explained it this way: if you ARE a commitment to something, that means you are living it - it's something that's in action at the moment. 

Ding! Ding! Ding!  I get that and for me it also goes to the word "committed," which after Vince's explanation, began to sound past tense to me.  Committed meaning that the changes you need to make have already happened whereas being a commitment means you are living it and doing it in real time.

This week I've starting writing in my training journal, "I am a commitment" followed by a couple of different things. In only 4 days, when I've found my thoughts spiraling downward, I have been able to snap out of it faster because I can't be a commitment and go to those dark places.

I get it Vince.  Thanks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Roasted Salsa Verde

I usually grow a few things in pots on the patio every year - tomatoes and basil are a must - but I've done other things over the years with varying success. I had determined that I was only going to have basil and tomatoes this year due to our busy summer with the wedding and then vacation, but then my friend gave me some tomatillo plants.

I didn't know a thing about growing them but I stuck them in a giant pot and hoped for the best, as I usually do as my thumb tends towards dark brown.  I did know they would take a long time to be ready for picking and true enough, I finally had some to harvest this last week.

I knew I was going to make salsa verde aka green tomatillo salsa, but I've never done it before so I looked up a bunch a recipes, then came up with this one on my own.

First you take all the tomatillos and take the outer papery cover off them and rinse the sticky residue off.  Cut them in half and place them face down on a baking sheet.  Take a jalapeno or two (or you could use serrano peppers), cut in half and seed and put that on the baking sheet as well.  Put your broiler on high and put the tomatillos and peppers under the broiler for 5-6 minutes until brown and roasted.

While the tomatillos are roasting, grab some onion, cilantro, garlic, and whirl it in the food processor. Add a little salt and squeeze a lime into that mix.

When the tomatillos/peppers are done, put them in the food processor and whirl it all around for a couple of minutes.

Using a rubber spatula and a funnel, pour this into some sort of jar and voila!  Roasted Salsa Verde.

You can use this salsa for dipping, as a sauce over chicken or pork or enchiladas.

I knew the real test would be Mr. Helen's opinion and he told me last night that between this salsa and my gucamole (which he's been trying to get me to take to farmer's markets for years), that there must be some Mexican in my blood.  Pretty high praise for a simple salsa!

Roasted Salsa Verde

1 1/2 lbs. tomatillos, husked, cleaned, cut in half
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, cut in half (the more you use, the spicier it will be)
1 small white onion
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 tsp. salt
1 lime

Put cut tomatillos and peppers on a baking sheet.  Put broiler on high and broil until skins are browned and blistered.

White tomatillos are roasting, put the onion, garlic and cilantro in a food processor.  Whirl until finely chopped.  Add salt, lime juice and roasted tomatillos and peppers and whirl again until very well chopped up.

Put salsa in a jar - will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Feelings, Woah Woah Woah Feelings

I was going to do a Tuesday Ten but then I decided I'd just chat at the blog.  Don't have a lot to write about but here's some life miscellany that has brought on ALLLLLLL the feelings.

2015 has been an exciting year around the Helen household with a big birthday, wedding, and martial arts promotion.  It has been one adreneline rush, then crash, right after the other since May.  I think my adrenals need a rest.

Mr. Helen tested for and was awarded his Fourth Degree Black Belt last weekend.  As when I tested it was separated into three two-hour segments.  After the second segment, one of the mothers of another testing student came to me and said, "Tell him I am going to tape him for the last segment, I wish I'd thought of it earlier."  (She's a physical therapist.) He had taped himself but after all the sprints, running, etc. he was starting to limp.  She did a great job!  She recommended we change the tape as in her opinion, KT tape is crap.  I have to admit, the tape she used is still on his legs and we're on day 3 now. So we've ordered the new stuff: RockTape.  If you look closely at that photo you can still see a mark on his left knee (right in the photo) where the surgeon inserted the instrument to repair his meniscus.  Not to mention he's had surgery on both knees and two on that left knee.  Plus he strained his calf doing sprints about two weeks ago.  He needs all the tape he can get right now!

A lot of people don't realize that to get an advanced belt requires a lot of year-round training.  In this case, 14 years!!  It really is quite the accomplishment and I'm proud of him. Now I'm hoping he'll take it easy for a bit and let his body heal.  But you know he went right back to karate class last night.


Thursday night before the testing began on Friday, my little city made national news because we flooded.  It was the absolute perfection definition of "flash" flood.  Thankfully we didn't have any damage even though the rain came so hard and fast, it pushed through closed windows! But Mr. Helen got home right after the flash so he was able to wipe up water.  The water also filled our driveway and the small drain we have at the end couldn't keep up so it went straight under the garage door and flooded the floor.  We didn't have anything that could be water damaged sitting on the floor, so we really lucked out.  We needed rain because it has been so dry, our foliage started changing a couple of weeks ago but goodness knows we did not need it that way!  Both of these photos were taken right around the corner from my house!!


Here are a couple of new wedding shots for you - done by the professional photographer.  He took 787 photos in all... so hard to choose which to buy!  I'm buying a few (because $$$) and then I'm relying on other photos shared with me to put together a photo book for myself.

Monday morning I got up to work out and it had turned to fall overnight.  I dressed to run then went outside and walked right back in and changed from shorts to capris.  I also wore long pants to work for the first time in months.  I'm so not ready for this.  SO. NOT. READY.  To add insult to injury, I'm getting a flu vaccine today.  That means the cold train is chugging down the track. This is a photo of North West but I'm pretty sure it's how my face looked when I realized the temperature.  Actually it's probably how my face looks most of the time from October to June. (And any time I'm dealing with idiotic people which is a lot between my mall job and the elections and politics that are upon us again...)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I Forgot to Tell You This and That

OK southern peeps, I am jealous.  I'd heard of this mayo but had not seen it anywhere. When we went grocery shopping in Nags Head I saw it and bought a small jar.  It's now my favorite mayo and I can't get it here - wah! Interesting to me is that this mayo is sugar free.  Maybe that's why I like it so much.


Remember the Saturday in July that I worked the kids event at the mall then went downtown to the street fair, then went back downtown to watch the fireworks?  I walked 26,389 steps that day with no purposeful exercise. That was pretty amazing to me, I guess because in general I have a job that is fairly sedentary but have always felt I was much more active once not tied to my desk.

Now, I don't wear the Fitbit because I sold it.  It started making my arm break out in a rash every single time I wore it.  Since I mainly bought it for sleep reasons and I had the data I needed, I wasn't upset to sell it since I didn't want to keep getting rashes.  Interesting that arm rashes were one of the warnings in the packaging.  I never expected it to happen to me, but my arm did not like that material.


For some reason, I haven't seen as many sun flowers this year.  I wonder if they go through cycles? But on my last morning run prior to vacation, I saw this GIANT one!  Not only the flower itself but look at the size of the stalk on that thing.  I had the camera pointed up over my head to get the flower shot!


Mr. Helen is testing for his Fourth-Degree Black Belt September 10-11.  Right now he's in full-on git-er-done mode which means he's at classes every day and/or working out like crazy.  He's still feeling the meniscus surgery he recently had, so I'm a bit concerned that he might set himself back with all this maniacal training but what's a wife to do?  He won't listen to me anyway.  On the side of yes, that's annoying, he told me he's going to lose 15 pounds by September 10th. I should have known this was coming because I overheard him talking to someone about "cutting weight," which is what wrestlers and fighters do. It makes me feel pissy that he can even think that, then try to do it.  I think that way too but it doesn't happen so easily.  I'll let you know if he manages that.


Here are the mementos I bought myself on vacation.  I didn't put them in any other post because those posts were long enough!

An "OBX" starfish bead for my Pandora charm bracelet

I collect Christmas ornaments of lighthouses.  Bought this one to commemorate Bodie Lighthouse
plus the profits go to the National Parks Service.

Saw this in the shop where I got my bead and couldn't resist another ornament.
Nags Head sand and small shells inside.


It's now so dark in the morning when I go out to run that the sun hasn't risen before I get home. That's depressing and I am so not ready for hours of darkness.  Weatherman this morning said we are losing 2 minutes of daylight per day right now.  Nooooooooooooo!


Having a spa day with my sister on Friday for a very late celebration of her 40th birthday. I'm trying a new treatment this time - a crystal salt body scrub.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I've been thinking of it as sort of a reset and transition day.  Not to mention it will make for a nice extra long weekend... always good to have that.