Tuesday, April 26, 2016

R and R and R

Randomness, Rest, Recreation

I have never been a peanut butter lover.  In fact, I was never the kid who got peanut butter and jelly in their lunchbox - I had bologna and mustard instead (and if I was lucky, potato chips, which I then crushed and added to the sandwich!).  I do have one recipe that calls for peanut butter and when I buy it for that, I try to use up the rest of it, but often it goes bad and I throw it away.

I'm also not a fan of almond butter.  Almonds in general are my least favorite nut and I think they are gross when made into butter.  Funny, I do like unsweetened almond milk in my smoothie though - maybe the other things in the smoothie disguise the flavor?

I was shopping the other day and saw a Sunflower Seed Butter on sale and decided to try it.  I mean it's nice to have an alternative to regular butter for my English Muffin.  Good gravy, this stuff is delicious!  I guess you just have to find what your taste buds like.  This brand is organic, non-GMO, vegan, Kosher, and certified gluten free. though lightly sweetened, there is only 3 grams of sugar per 2 Tablespoons.  Seeing as I generally only use 1 T or even less, I can live with that!  If you see this, try it, it's so good.


When I ran 10 miles on Saturday, it was my 14th day of exercise in a row.  Between that fact and the summer-like humidity we had, it took me longer to finish.  My pace was about 30 seconds per mile more than it has been.  Quite truthfully, I expect it to take longer and longer as the weather heats up. Still, I'd rather run slower in shorts and a tee than faster in fleece lined pants, shirt, and jacket!


Sunday, I finally took a day of rest from exercise.  But as you know, I've been working on whipping our house into shape, addressing cleaning and maintenance.  It was 55 degrees and no humidity, therefore the perfect day to finally paint all the trim upstairs.  That was 7 doorways, 2 double windows, 2 single windows, and all the baseboard.  Thank goodness Mr. Helen taped everything off for me on Saturday because this "little" chore took me 8 hours.  I finally have the satisfaction that all the trim in our colonial style house is now the same color: Parchment White.  Talk about an active rest day.


As I noted last week, we celebrated my mother and brother's birthdays over the weekend.  We had a lovely meal at a restaurant then went back to my mom's house for gifts and cake.  When it was time for the cake, we couldn't find any candles - mom always has some so no one bought any.  My sister and I decided to improvise, and she dubbed this "Ghetto Candles."  Hey, we made a memory out of it!

Photo credit to my nephew Jacob


Since I'm collecting fives from Mr. Helen as the scale moves downward, it has motivated me to start saving fives in general.  I've done this in the past when I wanted to purchase something and it works well for me.  For example, Friday I looked in my wallet and had 3 fives in there so I moved them to another compartment and when I got home, put them in my Five Box.  Just like that I'd saved $15 which I normally would not do.  My plan right now is to save them until 2017 when we hope to go back to our beloved St. Martin for our 25th wedding anniversary.  I should be able to pay for us to go on a couple of excursions with what I've saved.


Speaking of anniversaries, Mr. Helen and I are going up to Cape Cod for a couple days.  It's just the very beginning of the season up there so I was able to find us a hotel that is reasonably priced because it's off season.  We're staying in Hyannis which is one of the busier Cape towns but we'll drive right up the main route and sight see for most of Saturday.  Right now the weather is looking clear and seasonable and we are hoping to get to do some of the things we weren't able to do during our disastrous vacation try.  Can you believe that will be six years ago this August?  That's how long it has taken us to get over it and try to go back.  Can you blame us?!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thursday Things

The presidential primary is in Connecticut next week and the phone calls (which we don't answer), along with TV ads have ramped up.  The phone calls are pretty annoying, especially since when they get our answering machine they just hang up.  Connecticut isn't usually a contender because our primary is late, but this year it seems we are, therefore we are bombarded.  I have taken a position though and I'm sticking with it:


Last Sunday, I made this Roasted Vegetable Pasta,.  I actually got the recipe back in 2013 when it was printed in the magazine, and it is one of our favorites. You can serve it as a side dish, or as a main course if you want to eat vegetarian. It works really well for carbo-loading for a long run!  As usual, I had to make modifications because Mr. Helen will not eat asparagus, nor will he eat anything that asparagus has touched.  I will share my version of the recipe next week as I actually think mine is better, and because what I do makes it more servings, it is also less calorie-dense. 


Last week Shelley wrote a recap about the Statesman 10K that she ran.  In it, she posted a photo and description of a breakfast that she gets call Eggs Francisco.  The minute I saw that photo, I knew I would recreate that dish at home.  Last Saturday, after running 10.2 miles, I decided it was time.  The only error I made was forgetting how hungry and ready to eat I'd be and not really wanting to take the time to make queso.  While I will make this again, and make the queso on Friday night, this time I simply melted some cheddar on top.  I present to you Helen's copycat Eggs Franciso:  english muffin topped with scrambled eggs, bacon, chopped tomatoes, avocado and cheese.  Holy yum, this was delicious!


PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If your body image is excellent, if you're feeling really good about yourself and the improvements you're making to your health and fitness, do not, under any circumstances, try on bathing suits.  Especially not under fluorescent lighting.



Solution to feeling bad about your body:  wear an outfit that makes you feel pretty!  This has been my favorite outfit this spring.  I love the bright colors - and what's not to love about hot pink?  Also, it's extremely comfortable and versatile, including the shoes.  I often wear it when I need to run errands, or grocery shop after work because I can stand to be in it for 12 hours.  I wish my whole closet was filled with things like this. (That's not a Star Wars light saber on the floor, it's the sun coming through a crack in my office shades lol!)


We are going out to eat this weekend to celebrate my brother and mother's birthdays.  As their birthdays are only 4 days apart, my poor brother hasn't had his own birthday party since he became an adult because it's just easier for all of us to get together once.  This will make two weekends in a row where I've eaten a restaurant meal - woot!  Plus, on Monday, Mr. Helen suggested we go to our local clam shack and get fish and chips, so that was another meal out. As much as I love cooking, it really is nice to have a break and I haven't had many lately.

I was thinking about this and remembering how, back in my hardcore dieting days, I would have looked up the restaurant menu and decided what would be "okay" to eat and probably eaten next to nothing or maybe some lettuce beforehand.  It feels good to be on the path I am traveling now, where nothing is forbidden and I just don't worry about it, yet try to be reasonable with my portions. After 30 years of diets, I feel like I'm finally finding my way.  Not to say that it's always easy, or that I'm perfect, but it seems I am just finding peace with food, and that's a good thing.

One of these weeks, I'll have to photo document some daily meals vs. weekend splurges just to have visualization that what I'm doing is not dieting!

Monday, April 18, 2016

I Feel Bad About My Waist

Have you read Norah Ephron's book I Feel Bad About My Neck?  I think it should be required reading for women of a certain age.  She quite accurately describes so much of what happens in mid-life, including the physiological changes.  Because each of us age differently, the things that are failing falling on me, might not be the same for you, i.e., I don't have any particular feelings about my neck, yet.

I do feel bad about my waist though.  I am one of those people who has very definitely thickened throughout my middle - to the point where at times I feel like I have no waist at all and I've just become triangle shaped, as I already was a person who carried weight in my lower abdomen and around my hips.

The main thing this waist business has affected is wearing pants.  Literally where the waist falls can determine the size I need.  I have also gained a new appreciation for the elastic waist that I used to make fun of "old ladies" for wearing.  And I need to give props to whomever designed the hidden elastic waist dress slacks which allow one to look like a normally dressed business person in the office setting.

In any case, because of my waist, I am often not very good at finding pants that fit properly as many times when I buy pants that fit my waist they could be a bit loose elsewhere.  This can be disguised to a degree with jackets and cardigans - or simply by wearing skirts! -  but eventually it catches up.

After my weigh-in Saturday morning as Mr. Helen was handing over $5 he said, "By the way, I think you should pull out a smaller size and see if anything fits because your pants were looking extra baggy last week."  I insisted to him that he was wrong that things were just fitting me better, and he insisted back that I looked like I needed a diaper change.  Sigh.

As I got dressed and pulled on my fresh out of the dryer jeans, I realized they slid right on with no tugging.  Huh.  Then about an hour later, I felt like these jeans were actually really comfortable and something I could wear all day instead of wanting to jump to pajamas because I was sick of them. Huh.

Didn't really think anything more about it because Monday I wore a skirt to work (again, a pull-on skirt with elastic waist) and when I came down after dressing, Mr. Helen said, "Your weight loss is showing, try on smaller pants."  Whatever.

Last Tuesday, as I was putting on my makeup I was doing some deep thinking about the weather, my clothes, my workouts, toning, my waist, etc., etc.  When I was ready to get dressed I thought, what the hell, and I opened the tote with smaller pants.  Real pants with buttoning, non-elastic waists. Pants that I had tried on in January and couldn't even get the zipper up a bit, much less button, therefore they were relegated to the "not right now" tote.  Picked a pair, then went looking for a blouse.  Picked a blouse that was also too tight in January.  I kept thinking, what the hell, what's the worst that can happen?  Well, they still don't fit, that's what.  No biggie. Grabbed my shoes and went for broke.

Mr. Helen walked in just as I finished dressing and said, "Now, that's what I'm talking about.  I guess you really ARE motivated by five dollar bills... and by the way, I was right."

This past weekend, I took the ultimate test and tried on a smaller pair of jeans and they also fit.  (My pants size and my jeans size are different - are yours?) But now, I can say I'm down a full size! And you know, I'm not feeling quite as bad about my waist.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tuesday Ten: Yes.

1. It has been hard people because we thought we were getting an early and nice spring then BAM!  Snow, sleet and ice, freezing overnight temperatures that made my daffodils lay down in defeat, and lower than average daytime temps.  When it warms up, it pours rain. I'm itching for this:

2.  As I transition to more and more outside running, which means lots more h-i-l-l-s, I feel more general fatigue as the week goes on. Though I try to condition myself on my treadmill by always using the incline, it's just not the same as being outdoors. Lots of times on Thursdays, instead of an outright run, I do intervals 2:1.  This can be walk/run or run/sprint.  One loop I do is flat for the first 1/2 mile then uphill for the next mile. On that loop I tend to walk 2, run 1, then when I get to the part that is flat and downhill for the next 1.5 miles, I switch it up to run 2, jog or walk 1.  I did this last week and when I finished I had done 3.1 miles in 39:07  That's an average pace of 12:37!!  That might not seem exciting to some of you but for one entire part of that run I had a 14 mph headwind, thus that means during my running segments, I was running F-A-S-T.  Whoop!

3. We brought the seventies back with our Saturday night fondue.  I love that it takes a while to cook all the various foods so it sort of forces a leisurely dinner.  We started with a smoked cheddar fondue and then did the main course with chicken stock that had been flavored with herbs and spices. We've already talked about doing this again on the patio this summer.

4.  To go along with the fondue, my cocktail this week was some Prosecco. Honestly, I love champagne and Prosecco but the standard 750 ml bottle is the equivalent of 5-6 flutes, which obviously is way too much unless I want to feel like crap and have a headache the next day.  I was so excited to find a pack of three small bottles.  Each bottle is 6.3 ounces (187 ml) which is about 1 1/2 flutes.  Perfect portion control!

5.  Truth.

6.  Even though it's still a bit wintery, I've been moving right along on my spring cleaning.  This past weekend I got the living room and dining room and all the windows on that level done.  I have to say I feel quite accomplished to see everything from ceiling to floor clean as a whistle.  Bonus: I keep thinking about how great my free time will feel this summer as I won't have any chores nagging in the back of my mind!

7.  I am delighted to find that I can still stomach Shot Bloks. It has been quite some time since I've even needed to use anything to fuel a run so I wasn't sure how I'd handle them.  I ate 3 bloks (there are 6 in one package) after I'd been running about an hour and felt strong for the rest of my long run on Saturday.

8. After that 10 mile run, I ate this giant bagel.  With chive cream cheese.  Totally worth running 10 miles to eat with no guilt or worry about where those carbohydrates would land!

9. Runner's World has started two podcasts.  "Runner's World" which is a bit technical and where they talk to running elites, and "Human Race" which is quite similar to the column in the magazine where they talk to an ordinary person who has done something extraordinary with their running.  I love to listen to podcasts when I walk and when I'm cleaning my house so I'm happy to add these.

10. I know I've mentioned before that I have an up and down relationship with fruit.  It's something I really want to like but often don't.  My sister was telling me Gracie is the same way: if the fruit isn't just perfect, she can't bring herself to eat it.  I recently bought some strawberries that smelled wonderful and were.... absolutely awful.  I stored them in my keeper so they wouldn't go bad while I figured out what to do with them.  Then I came across this recipe for Strawberry Crumb Bars.  Oh my goodness, just delicious!  I think this basic recipe could be used with any sort of fruit therefore I will call it my "this fruit sucks" savior.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Not Much Wiggle Room

Monday morning, I was zipping up a winter jacket that I haven't had to wear for a few weeks and it felt... looser.  It just felt looser.  So it seems I'm losing some inches even though I haven't been keeping track of that. Because I suddenly wish I'd measured, as I've been doing my spring cleaning I've been looking through old running journals, notebooks, and calendars to see if I had ever taken measurements anywhere near the weight I think I started at.  Based on my up and down history, I'd probably be able to put in a pretty good guess but it would be nice to have facts and numbers to refer to.

I think I'm just getting a little paranoid because I can generally almost tell when my body is releasing weight and lately, I feel a bit stalled.  Based also on my clothing, this is a spot where I seem to often get stalled, so the next few weeks will be telling.  This is where those $5 will really come into play for me.  I mean I realize if I plateau nothing in the world will make me earn those bills until my body is ready, but I'm hoping they'll help me not to just say screw it and give up.

I do take one day a week and eat "anything." For example, while I don't eat dessert most of the time, if I've been craving something desserty throughout the week, I have it that day (usually Saturday).  Of course that is the day I also do my longest run so I'm always hoping that somehow my treats might be somewhat offset by that.

I was reading an article in Parade Magazine about weight loss/maintenance/health in your 40s, 50s, 60s.  Lots of the tips and information were familiar to me, but the one about fruits and vegetables being your best friend, once again illuminated for me that all calories are not equal. How your body processes fruits and vegetables just is not equal to how your body processes cheese and dessert even if you were to eat the same amount of calories of each thing.

When I was rethinking my weight gain this past week, I realized it happened after a holiday meal on Easter.  The previous weight gain happened after birthday week.  And both times I had also taken at least one treat on my indulgence day.

While I certainly do not want to get all diety and limit and/or restrict food after food, I also want to lose weight. I know in my heart of hearts, I will eat pasta forever so I need to figure it all out.  Yet, if I start thinking about that, I get a little crazed so I have to be very, very careful where I go with it.   There was a time in my life where I wanted to weigh 125 pounds and I got myself to the place where I exercised for 60-90 minutes every single day and my eating was so disordered a daily menu looked something like this:

Breakfast: 1 piece of fruit, 1 small container of sugar free, fat free yogurt
Lunch: 1 can of green beans heated and sprayed with fake butter spray
Dinner: 4 oz. of protein, 1 starch (i.e. 1 piece of bread or 1 small potato), 1 dinner salad or 1 cup of steamed vegetable.
Snack (if I had to have one): baby carrots dipped in yogurt dip

I swear, I was eating about 800-1000 calories a day to maintain my weight between 120-125.  It's no wonder my thyroid gave up by my mid-forties!  Anyway, I am saying here that I never, ever want to get into that sort of disordered eating again.  Not ever.  No weight is worth that.

But sometimes I wonder just how indulgent I can be. Debby wrote a really interesting blog about counting, as in logging and counting food groups, calories, etc.  She counted her food on Easter, including her treats and was happy to discover that she'd only gone over by 67 calories.  I know for a fact it would be nothing for me to eat 2.500 calories on a treat "day" which is why right now, I'm trying to keep it to a couple of treats during the day - a martini and dessert.  Because honestly, pretty much, I'm realizing that though I might be eating fairly well most of the time, if I want to lose weight, I really don't have much wiggle room.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Overwhelmed? Just Keep On.

Mr. Helen has a theory that my body is in some sort of hormonal cycle, even though I am well into the menopausal years.  He might be right, because again, on the 4th week, I had a gain.  So very weird. I'm 8 weeks in and have collected $30 now - that should be $40 though.  Irritating.  But, I'm still glad I'm not looking at the actual numbers and this actually makes me even more determined to get my $5 next week and see if in this next "cycle" I can stop that fourth week trend.

At least before that weigh in, I had a great run.  So great that I RAN 10 MILES!! We had a terrible weekend here, rain, sleet, snow but when I got up on Saturday it wasn't quite raining yet and I got out early thinking maybe I'd beat it.  I should have worn a hat because I was far enough into the run when it started that I would have kept going if I didn't have water pouring down my face. So, I turned and came home with the idea that I'd finish up on the treadmill.  As it turned out, I was feeling so good, I kept running right past the 3 miles that would have given me 8 and ran 5 instead, netting 10 miles.  And I felt good the whole time, although I did realize if I'm going to keep doing this I need to buy some Shot Bloks as at about the 8 mile mark I could feel my energy draining.  BUT I RAN 10 MILES!!


In the process of trying to live a healthy life and be my best self, when the process seems unending, I try to remember back to my marathoning days to when my mantra at 22 miles with 4.2 to go was "Just Keep Running, Just Keep Running."  But sometimes, even with mantras and encouragement of all sorts, it's just plain hard and I feel overwhelmed. The ultimate goal (in my case, wearing a size 10) can seem very far away and though progress is being made, the ups and downs added to thoughts of just how long it will take, can get to me. Even though I am trying really hard to be objective this time around - and even am being quite willing to adjust my mini goals, it feels hard some days. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

I follow a page on Facebook, Favorite Run, that is full of inspirational information and posts aimed at runners.  Lately they've been sharing posts from people who have reached their goals, some of them against incredible odds.

Wouldn't you know, one morning as I was perusing Facebook before I ran, I came across a post that was particularly serendipitous in its timing and its message, as that very morning, I woke up feeling tired and overwhelmed.

I'm sharing it here, mostly to bookmark it for myself, but also because maybe it will help someone else too. (Underlined sentences done for emphasis, by me.)

"At 260 lbs, greatly depressed and in constant pain, I finally came to the realization that if I did not make a change, my life would be significantly shortened. I began logging what I ate and I started doing short exercise sessions with a goal of simply getting up and moving 2-3 times a week. At times staying on track was a challenge. It required time. It took sacrifice. And it took commitment. I tried to concentrate on achieving small goals rather than focus on how far I still had to go and feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. I fell, I rose, I made mistakes, I hit slumps, but I never gave up. Close to 3 years later I have lost 120 lbs and I have fallen in love with fitness, particularly running (running has changed my life!). The weight loss is a huge accomplishment on its own, but one of the greatest effects of my journey is that my outlook on life has completely changed. After being a shell of a human barely getting by day to day, I now have energy and zest for life. I see beauty, joy, and possibility everywhere! If I can give any advice to those with goals for weight loss, it would be to not seek the perfect diet, a hardcore workout routine, or instant results. Focus on one thing at a time, creating lasting lifestyle changes, and continue to build on small victories along the way. You CAN become the person you dream of. It's never too late and it is always possible. heart emoticon" ~ Melissa viaInstagram.com/chix_run_utah