Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Grand Rapids: Selfies, swearing, goats, chili ... and promises

Do you know what happens when you forget about nerves, time goals, mile splits and intensity? You remember to have FUN. Races can be awesomely fun, but I think I somehow forgot about that in recent months. After the unnecessary self-loathing and disappointment that followed Fort4Fitness, I made it a point to change my attitude and strategy for the Grand Rapids Half Marathon. My only goal for the day was to have FUN ... So I did.

Oh yeah, I also pushed Jan to an unplanned PR. That was the cherry on top of an already amazing race :)

Anyway, here are my keys to having fun at a race:

1. Run with a buddy. As planned, I ran with my sister, Jan. She agreed we would be "those people." You know, the ones you either want to run with ... or run away from. Ha! Luckily, we passed the serious pack of racers mid-course and found a couple of like-minded women who joined in our self-entertainment from about miles 8-12. There was plenty of laughter (and maybe a little bit of swearing).

2. Pick a great course. This one started in downtown Grand Rapids, which features some amazing architecture and a small-town vibe. Then we made our way along the Grand River toward some gorgeous park areas, which showed off the beauty of fall in Pure Michigan. It was so stunning, I didn't even mind the hills (Jan and I are half goat though, so we eat hills for breakfast).

2. Keep your phone out to take selfies and other pictures as often as possible. Feeling down? You can't frown in a selfie! (OK, Jan proved me wrong by flipping me the bird in an end-of-the-race shot. But otherwise she played along. Lol.)

3. Interact with spectators as much as possible. You can give a simple thumbs up or thank you, but high fives (not pictured because I'm not coordinated enough) are much better! (Just forget about flu season and Ebola for a little bit ...) They love when you take pictures and comment on their signs. I love when they oblige my request for MORE COWBELL!

4. Celebrate! The post-race party is just as important as the race itself. In Grand Rapids, race director Don Kern shakes the hand of every finisher ... and also agrees to take selfies. Haha! They had every sort of traditional recovery food imaginable (apples, bananas, Muscle Milk, yogurt, bagels, etc.) and plenty of non-traditional delights (Culver's ice cream, Wendy's Chili, Oreos and UNLIMITED beer from New Holland Brewing). As my preschooler says, "YUMMY IN MY TUMMY!"

So here's the deal. Obviously, I loved everything about this race. Obviously, I'd recommend it to any of my friends. But I'm going to take it one step further and commit to returning next year ... for the FULL marathon.

You read that right, I'm committing to running 26.2 miles on Oct. 18, 2015. (They just announced the date!) I've known for a while now that next year would be the year of the marathon for me, but I didn't quite know when or where it would happen. After my fun experience this weekend, the deal was sealed: Grand Rapids will be the home of my first marathon.

It's a little (OK, a lot) scary to type that out and put it out there in public, but I figure there's no time like the present! If I'm going to run a marathon, I'm going to do it up right. That means getting serious about my training and committing to strength and cross training more regularly. Over the next few months, I'm going to explore some new workout routines and schedules to get started on the LONG road to race day.

BUT that doesn't mean I'm going to forget the FUN of running. I might be challenged, stressed, pushed to my limits, but I want to do it all with a smile on my face. Next year, I want to be that same woman running down the finish chute, arms in the air, fist pumping and cheering with the crowds. Maybe I'll be too tired to take selfies, but I won't be too tired to shake Don's hand or sip some beer.

I promise you this: I'm going to run a marathon. And I'm going to have fun doing it! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

What We're Eating: Snacks for Weight Watchers

It took me a long time to realize the importance of snacks in my weight loss. For many years, I just starved myself between meals in an effort to lower my calorie intake. "I don't need a snack," I told myself. "I'll save the extra points for dinner."

Well, that didn't last. I was hungry, cranky and not really losing weight.

Eventually, I started to understand how snacks are a vital part of my daily nutrition plan. In addition to packing my lunch every day for work, I pack TWO snacks: one for the morning (usually eaten around 10 a.m.) and one for the afternoon (usually eaten around 3 p.m.). Every snack includes some sort of protein, such as yogurt, string cheese, hummus or something else. Why? Because protein takes longer to digest, so you stay satisfied longer. Don't believe me? Start adding a hardboiled egg to your afternoon apple - you'll notice a difference!

I also leave room in my tracker for an after-dinner snack most evenings: usually a glass of wine with popcorn or a Fiber One brownie. Sometimes, I treat myself to a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich or Greek frozen yogurt.

Several readers have asked me to publish a list of snack ideas, so here's my best attempt. PLEASE let me know if you have good ideas to add! I'm always looking for new foods to try.

Favorite low-point snacks:
  • Veggies with hummus (I usually eat 4 tablespoons) = 3 points
  • Veggies with homemade ranch dip (1/4 cup) = 1 point
  • Fat-free Greek yogurt (I'm on a kick with Dannon right now) = 2 points (Varies by brand/serving size)
  • Fresh fruit with fat-free cottage cheese (1/2 cup) = 1 point
  • Light string cheese = 1 point
  • Hardboiled egg = 2 points
  • Deli-sliced turkey (2 oz.) = 1 point
  • Pretzels = 3 points (serving size varies by brand)
  • Rice Krispie treat = 2 points (I was shocked to learn these were so low cal!)
  • Low-fat popcorn (I LOVE Boom Chicka Pop) = 1 point/cup (Again, varies by brand!)
  • Greek frozen yogurt (Healthy Choice makes small cups that are usually near their frozen meals, not with the ice cream products) = 4 points
  • Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches = 4 points
  • Fiber One Oats & Chocolate bar = 4 points
  • Fiber One Protein Bar = 5 points
  • Fiber One Brownie (Great chocolate treat with a glass of wine!) = 2 points
  • Wine (4 oz. glass) = 4 points 
  • To be fair ... Light beer = 4 points
  • Fruit with fat-free caramel dip (We like T. Marzetti brand, 2 tablespoons) = 3 points
  • Reduced-fat peanut butter (2 tablespoons) = 5 points (I don't have this often because it's kinda high for a snack, in my opinion)
Favorite 0 point fruits and veggies for snacks:
  • Bananas - I eat one EVERY morning with breakfast!
  • Apples - Stick an extra in your lunch pail because they are portable and can satisfy random cravings, especially on your commute
  • Grapes
  • Cherries - Though I'm not very good at gracefully spitting out the pits at my desk
  • Carrots
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Cherry/grape tomatoes
  • Fresh pineapple
  • Fresh watermelon
Another note about snacks: Don't forget to plan them around your exercise! I need SOMETHING in my stomach about hour before I work out (In the morning, it's usually a Fiber One bar and a banana, with a cup of coffee). After, I try to refuel with something that has plenty of protein to help my muscles recover. (After my morning runs, that's usually a bowl of cereal or Greek yogurt with berries and granola.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The many, many emotions of a race

This is half race report, half cathartic rambling about the Fort4Fitness half-marathon. My goal was to come in under 2 hours, and my official time was 2 hours ... and 6 seconds. I apologize in advance for the length ... and the whining. 

Excited: You’ve been training for weeks, and you’re ready to finally see the results of your hard work. You have a plan, even if it’s vague, and you have some goals. Let’s do this thing!

Nervous: A few bad days make you wonder if you plans are dumb and your goals are realistic. Can I really do this? Did I set the bar too high? You consider dropping your expectations so you’re not disappointed.

Cocky: A few good days (and one awesome Warrior Dash) make you feel unstoppable. You hit a key workout and think, “This is in the bag.” 

Who wouldn't feel awesome after leaping over fire?

Anxious: You just want race day to hurry up and get here already! You have nightmares about being late to the starting line, and you might compare your husband’s driving to a grandmother the next morning because you don’t want that dream to come true. You jump and bob around the corrals for 20 minutes and don’t even notice a coworker when he walks RIGHT BY YOU and says hello. Whoops!

Liberated: The gun (or in my case REALLY loud cannon) is fired, and you’re finally off and running! Your feet start to fly with the crowd around you. 

Calm: At mile 5, you take note of your physical state. Breathing: steady. Legs: Happy. Mouth: A little dry. You sip from your Camelbak and power on. You’re right on pace!

Annoyed: Around mile 8, the course starts to twist and turn through some small hills. It’s nothing you haven’t dealt with before, but the pace group is bunching and runners are starting to cut you off around corners. You push ahead of the herd slightly to avoid feeling like a sardine. 

Panicked: Somewhere around mile 10, you start to wheeze a little and you can’t keep your head up. You take in some fuel and the pace group passes you, making you feel worse. You scramble on a downhill to catch back up. You hear a pace say you’re one minute, forty second ahead … 

Desperate: Your legs and brain start to shut down. The pace group charges ahead, and it’s all you can do to keep them in your sights. Your eyes flash between your watch and their signs, which are getting smaller in the distance. 

Imagine this outfit on me and in motion.

Numb: One foot in front of the other, you’re not sure if you’re really running anymore or just shuffling. The watch says you still have a chance, but your brain says you’ve lost all hope. You can’t seem to will your legs to move any faster. 

Determined: As you’re dragging yourself to the finish, someone yells, “Sprint when you hit the corner!” Miraculously, you do. Your feel the dirt fly up behind you, and you give all your might until you cross the mat. 

Disgusted: Safely across finish line, you stop your watch. It says you’ve missed your goal by 20 seconds. You know it would take a serious miracle for the timing chip to read much different. A high school classmate (the one you wanted to beat because APPARENTLY you’re still a competitive teenage jock) is the first to greet you. And he’s already got a medal around his neck. “Shit, you beat me!” is all you manage to say. Later, you remember to not be an asshole and congratulate him instead. 

Disappointed: You find your husband and daughter in the crowd and nearly cry. “I missed it,” you say, and pout a little. You wander around the finish area in a daze, eating pretzels and finally hobbling toward the results table. It’s official: You missed your goal by 6. Freaking. Seconds. 

Dead: Still in shock from running 13.1 long miles, you practically shut down on the ride home. You barely manage to walk into the restaurant for lunch, and you don’t completely comprehend your husband’s talk of races for next year. More races? No way. He gives you the pep talk you need to hear, and you agree to stay positive.  

Count on your BRF for the best racing advice.

Depressed: As the day pass and more people ask how you did, you try to keep your chin up. You contemplate redemption at your next race (when you’re supposed to be running slow and “just for fun”). You Google three-week training plans. You seek advice from running pros online. You want someone to tell you what to do. 

Enlightened: Your BRF says EXACTLY what you needed to hear: Don’t do it. You’ll injure yourself OR be even more disappointed if you don’t hit your goal. Back off – just have fun. Try again next season. 

Relieved: In a split second, everything is back on plan, and you're looking forward to running for fun again. You really are feeling positive – not just saying you are. The hard part is over, and you accept the fact that your big race is DONE, no matter the time. You hear the leaves crunching under your feet and feel the crisp autumn air. Suddenly, you could care less about those 6 seconds – this moment is what matters. Just keep running. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

What happened and what's coming

It's been a while since I've had the time to open up the dashboard and write a decent post. But, LIFE HAPPENS, right? Here's an update: 


  • I went on a three-day work trip and ate ALL THE FOOD. Seriously, I was contemplating writing an entire blog post on how NOT to eat well when traveling. I had good intentions to find healthy options, but all those plans went right out the window ... Oh well. The positives were that I learned a lot in our training, and I managed to put in some treadmill miles and a strength workout while staying at the hotel. 
  • I ran my third official half-marathon! Kim, Kim and I took it easy at the Parlor City Trot in Bluffton, using the course as a training run. It was a WONDERFUL way to start my Labor Day weekend. I finished in 2:08 and change - it wasn't a PR, but it was good enough to unexpectedly place second in my age group. Go me!
Yes, Kim pushed baby Kate through the entire race. I'm still in awe. 
  • That same day, Kenlee fell and broke her arm while going "on an adventure" from our couch to our recliner. This was NOT a wonderful way to start my Labor Day weekend. After the initial ER visit, we returned to the hospital the following week to have her arm set under general anesthesia. Thankfully, all went well and she is healing as expected. She's promised us "No more adventures." Meanwhile, I ran ALL THE MILES trying to battle my anxiety. 
Her arm may be broken, but she's still performing her royal duties as a princess.
  • My husband has been a rockstar in his 10k training! Yesterday, he ran 5.63 miles ... while pushing Kenlee in the stroller! I'm so proud of him, and I can't wait to watch him cross the 10k finish line in Grand Rapids next month. 
  • We punked out on our first triathlon because we realized we just didn't have the time or energy to devote to swimming and biking. Turns out the race was cancelled anyway, but it felt good to be honest with ourselves and admit that it was just too much to take on at this point in our training. 
  • I battled the world's most annoying corn on my right foot ... and I think I won. If the story wasn't so ridiculous, I would devote an entire post to my insanely silly antics trying to get rid of this thing. For now, it's definitely shrinking, thanks to some new (wider) shoes, some REAL running socks and LOTS of Dr. Scholl's pads. 

  • Our second Warrior Dash is this weekend! After finishing last year's race, we instantly knew we needed to complete another. This time, however, we'll be racing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which offers a MUCH FLATTER course. Either way, we're prepared because my sister-in-law Holly put us through some training with an obstacle course at my niece and nephew's birthday party. Aside from the fact that I lost my lead at the cornhole station (argh!), it was pretty awesome (and entertaining)!
Kyle and Kenlee digging for keys in the "Mommy's Morning" obstacle race.
  • My fourth half-marathon will be Fort4Fitness Sept. 27 in Fort Wayne. I was going to focus on Grand Rapids as my big race for the fall, but once my employer sent out the reminder that they would reimburse our race registration fees ... I just couldn't say no! It will be another family event as Kyle has registered for the 4-mile option. I've heard soooo many great things about this event, so I'm excited to experience everything for myself. 
  • My FIFTH half-marathon will be in Grand Rapids Oct. 19. Yes, that means I will have run three half marathons in less than two months ... Holy cow, I never thought those words would come out of MY mouth! Because I packed my race schedule for the fall, I don't plan to go fast at this one. I hope I can just log some quality miles with my sister and take in what should be some gorgeous fall scenery in Pure Michigan. Ahhhh ... It will be a nice way to wind down the fall racing season. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

7 truths for new Weight Watchers members

Track, track, track! 
1. You’ll quickly feel overwhelmed. From the outside, the program seems simple. Count points, lose weight, right? Not exactly. I think a lot of first timers have trouble sorting out all the “rules,” and sometimes it’s hard to figure out where to even begin. Don’t freak out! Over time, you’ll know the points values of your favorite foods by heart, and IT WILL GET EASIER. (NOTE: If you choose to go to meetings, the leader will always offer a new member orientation after the regular session. Don’t miss it!)

2. There will be food you don’t know how to track. Weight Watchers has a list of millions of foods in its database, but it doesn’t know the recipe for Aunt Susie’s strawberry cheesecake lush – and neither do you. Rather than freak out over calculating the precise points values, find a substitute or make a best guess. Tracking estimated points values – even if you’re wrong – is better than not tracking at all. Don’t sweat it. 

3. All of the Weight Watchers food will be delicious – and expensive. Yes, the free food samples in the meeting rooms are yummy. And yes, those SmartOnes meals are a bargain at the grocery store sometimes. But NO, you don’t need to buy them to lose weight. There are plenty of alternative snacks and meals out there, and they are just as low in points and A WHOLE LOT cheaper. I’m not saying you should avoid the WW products, I’m just saying they’re not necessary for your success. 

4. You'll have bad weeks. Translation: You will gain weight. In a perfect world, we’d lose weight every single week and be successful all the way to our goals. In the real world, however, there are ups and downs. My weight tracker chart looks like it’s doing the wave over the last two years – up, down, up, down. But overall, the trend was more down than up. So don’t get discouraged by a bad week – or two, or three. Use those weeks as learning opportunities and motivation to get back on track.

This is what three Weight Watchers memberships over five years looks like ...

5. You'll have good weeks. Translation: You will lose weight and feel like a rockstar. Those weeks when you hit a magic number or drop more than you expected will make you feel unstoppable. Reflect back and think about what you did that week to make it happen. Then celebrate! Be sure to share with your meeting group, your friends or anyone who will listen! Every bit of weight loss (even when it's tiny) is awesome. 

6. You’ll think you can do it alone. I know countless people (myself included) who have gotten on a roll with the program and decided to do it “on their own” by counting/logging points with a good old notepad and pencil. Great, that *might* work for a while. But the support from meetings or online groups will be GONE, and the accountability of paying for a program will be lost as well.  Even at my goal weight, I’ve found the extra support of my Friday meeting to play a crucial role in my success. I'm not saying it can't be done – it can. I just think paying for a membership has benefits that are well worth the cost.

7. Eventually, you'll understand what they mean by LIFETIME. Yes, when you reach your goal, you are considered a Lifetime member and don't have to pay a membership fee anymore (THANK GOODNESS!). But the BIGGER benefit is that you have learned the strategies you need to make a permanent lifestyle change. No, there's no guarantee you'll keep the weight off, but I truly believe all of the tools and lessons you gain from being a Weight Watchers member are designed for long-term change, not short-term results. Isn't that what most of us are looking for?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What we're eating: Zucchini lasagna

Every now and then, I surprise myself. As I've stated before, I'm NOT a regular chef in our house. Most of the meals I make come from the Crock-pot (translation: they don't require much effort). Kyle is definitely the master of the kitchen. 

But last week, my neighbor Matt brought over some zucchini and asked if we wanted some. I instantly said yes because I have been dying to try using zucchini as a substitute for pasta, something I've seen all over Pinterest lately. Veggies = zero points, so it was worth a shot!
Since I DON'T have one of those contraptions that makes spaghetti noodles (not yet at least), I decided to try making lasagna. Now, lasagna isn't easy (with or without noodles) so in my normal fashion, I took a combination of several recipes to create one I thought I could handle. 

The result? A HOMERUN! Kyle, Kenlee and I agreed this was a delicious meal! (OK, Kenlee ate more cheese and turkey than zucchini, but she still cleaned her plate pretty well.) I can't believe I nailed this recipe on the FIRST TRY! 

Zucchini Lasagna | 7 points per serving
  • 1 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices
  • 20-oz. package of Jennie-O extra lean ground turkey, browned
  • 24-oz. jar of Prego Heart Smart traditional Italian sauce
  • 1/4 cup Egg Beaters or egg substitute
  • 15-oz. container of part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup part-skim, shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 package of fresh, steak-cut mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1. Cut your zucchini into long, thin slices. (These are your replacement for lasagna noodles. I used two layers, so I had 10 or 12 good-sized slices, plus some smaller ones to fill in.) Lay the slices on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 5 minutes each side, or until soft. 

2. Make your sauce mixture. When I make spaghetti, I like to sauté mushrooms and onions with a little olive oil, so I did the same with this recipe. Drain the veggies when they're cooked, then mix them in a bowl with the jar of sauce and your browned turkey burger. I also like to add a bit of Italian seasoning and garlic salt for extra flavor. 

3. Make your cheese mixture. Mix the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg substitute in a bowl. Resist licking the spoon ... 

4. Start layering! I sprayed the pan with vegetable oil, then put down a little bit of the sauce mixture first. Next I laid out a layer of zucchini, then cheese mixture, then sauce mixture. Second layer: more zucchini, cheese and sauce.

5. Top with mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning. Cover pan with foil and bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the mozzarella is nice and brown. Mine was slightly runny, but it set up after a while. 

6. ENJOY! I cut my 13x9 pan into eight portions, and I calculated just SEVEN points per serving! With one piece of Lite Texas Toast (three points) and a healthy serving of broccoli (zero points), our entire meal was only 10 points. Woohoo! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

7 truths for new runners

I get so excited when someone tells me they’ve started running. I wanna hug them and shout, "Welcome to the club!" For me, running is more than an activity – it's a lifestyle. And it's definitely a growing community as more and more people across the country have lined up at a starting line in recent years.

I've written before about how I got started, but now that I've been at it a while, I wanted to reflect back and add some more. So, if you're new to running, here's a list of seven things you'll likely find to be true: 

1. It’s going to suck. At least, it will suck at first. I’ve never heard a story of a new runner who took off and swiftly covered three miles. If you’ve never run before or if it’s been a long time, you’ll want to start off with running/walking intervals to ease into it. I used the Couch to 5k app on my smartphone, and it told me when to walk and run during my workouts over the course of eight weeks.  

Running makes us all a little crazy, but we'll never be alone!
2. You’re going to want to quit. It’s tough to start any new routine, especially a new and challenging workout routine. No one likes panting like a dog and limping around on sore muscles. But in time, you’ll feel like Superman. Don’t give up!

3. The endorphins will keep you coming back for more. Even though you’ll have bad days, there will be lots of good ones, too. Ever heard of runner’s high? That’s the rush of endorphins you’ll get after a good sweat session. It rocks.

4. You’ll want to run too much/too far/too fast. That awesome rush may have you riding a wave, but don’t ride it too far. If you’re tempted to run more than your training plan calls for, be smart. Overtraining can lead to injury, and you could be forced to take a break and start all over. In addition to physical and mental strength, improvement takes TIME. Don’t rush it. 

5. Your friends/family will think you are crazy. Most people will be supportive, but haters are still gonna hate. Their probably just jealous – don’t let them get you down! Invite the Negative Nellies to join you for a local 5k, even if they just walk it. Maybe they’ll catch the bug, too!

6. You’ll start to wonder if you really are crazy. Getting up at o-dark-thirty for workouts? Spending your fun money on new running clothes? Planning your family vacations around races? Yeah, it seems a little insane. But trust me, there’s an entire community of crazies out there who are just like you. 

7. You’ll start to feel like a new person. Finding the runner inside of you is like finding a buried 
treasure. Running has changed me, my marriage and my work – all for the better. It’s given me the confidence to try new things and push myself to new limits. It’s also given me a new joy and appreciation for life. Running transformed me into someone I never knew I could be. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Recap: Montpelier Firefighters Association Bean Days 5k

Reasons the Montpelier Firefighters Association Bean Days 5K was awesome:
  • We raced as a family – I pushed Kenlee in the stroller while Kyle ran solo
  • We both set PRs – My first-ever stroller race came in at 25:48 (non-stroller PR is 25:30), and Kyle blew away his goal of "just finishing" with a 30:57! The great weather and flat course were very helpful. 
  • It was super affordable – $12 per person for pre-registration; $15 for day-of registration
  • It was well organized – Packets with nice bibs and chip timers were ready for us that morning
  • The snacks were amazing – Cookies and "Jump Start" bars from Cookies on Demand, plus bananas, water, Gatorade and some other goodies. (But seriously, the COOKIES ARE THE BEST!)
  • The volunteers were encouraging – Kyle and I both noticed how the people on the course were friendly and cheered us on as we went by (OK, maybe it's because we knew a few of them ... perks of being in a small town!)
  • The post-race activities (Bean Days/Balloon Festival) were a great way to continue the fun. We enjoyed the Rotary pancake breakfast before heading to the fairgrounds for the Balloon Festival. Kenlee loved the FREE bounce house, slide, petting zoo and pony rides. Then she got her face painted for only $3. All this stuff was part of the Balloon Festival, but the balloons weren't up for the morning due to weather. We still had a BLAST, and we figure we can catch the balloons next year. 
Bottom line: This little race is quite the gem in northwest Ohio. The coinciding activities for Kenlee put the cherry on top of an already awesome morning, but even without the Balloon Festival this is a must-run for locals.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What we're eating: Tami's lunch salad

OK, I can’t leave that last post up for long. I need some more positivity in my life this week. Hey, here’s a positive: My FAVORITE lunch salad!

I make this salad at least twice a week, if not more. It’s delicious, low in points and high in nutritional value – compared to other options, at least. I usually chase it with some yummy nonfat Greek yogurt (Dannon brand is my current fav).
Tami’s lunch salad: Just 8 points total!

Lots of zero-point foods: 
  • Spinach/baby green mix – pile this stuff on! Don’t be stingy with your greens!
  • Fresh mushrooms
  • Thin-sliced onions
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Mild yellow peppers 

Lots of low-point foods: 
  • 1 oz. Fat-free feta cheese: 1 point
  • 1 hardboiled egg: 2 points
  • 2 oz. sliced deli turkey (I buy the low-sodium option from the Meijer deli): 1 point
  • ¼ fat-free croutons: 1 point
  • ¼ cup light balsamic vinaigrette dressing: 3 points
Random pointers: When I'm packing my lunch, I put everything in the container EXCEPT the croutons and dressing. The croutons go in a sandwich baggie, and the dressing goes in a separate, smaller container. Toss them on right before you eat! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fighting a good fight

A blog from a classmate stopped me in my tracks today. Jamie is a wonderful, wise woman, and her words leapt off the screen and into my heart. She's 100 percent right. She is beautiful. You are beautiful. We are all beautiful. 

For many of us, saying that out loud is not easy. I know it's not easy for me. I likely risk getting hit with tomatoes for saying this, but I want to be honest: I don't love my body. 

I definitely don't love my sagging rear, my flat chest or my flapping upper arms. I hate how my face looks older because the skin has loosened and falls into wrinkles around my eyes and mouth. And obviously, I've expressed my disgust with my legs.

There are definitely days I wish I could have my old body back. I miss the big boobs, full cheeks and sexy hips. Back then, I really did have the confidence to say I was beautiful. I knew it was true, and I had the plus-size swagger to prove it. 

Today, I only WISH I could confidently say what Jamie said. I WISH I loved my body for what it is today and not what I want it to be. I want all my readers to know one thing: I may have won the battle with my scale, but I have not won the battle with my heart. 

So yeah, I lost 105 pounds and a ton of pants sizes, but I didn't lose all of my personal baggage. No amount of "You look great" or "You're so skinny" can fix the issues inside my head. That's not an attempt at fishing for more compliments. That's the raw and unfortunate truth.

I could post a thousand training logs and recipes on this blog, and I still wouldn't have the answers to being a healthy person – inside and out. And I worry about what I say and don't say here because I don't want anyone to think I have all the answers. I want to encourage people who are seeking a healthy lifestyle, but I don't want to discourage anyone from being confident about who they already are. 

I never intended to make anyone else feel bad about themselves. If I have, I'm sorry. Truly. 

When I started blogging more often last year, the goal was to inspire others. But lately, I haven't even been able to inspire myself. Social media's tricky like that – we only show the sides of ourselves that we want others to see. So in the past few months, you've seen me running big races, hitting my goals and feeding my family delicious, nutritious meals. 

What you haven't seen are the struggles. The conflicts in my mind. The emotional bullshit that I can no longer ignore and drown out with desserts. On TV, they like you to think an overweight person identifies their problems, addresses them and then magically loses the weight. They are cured! 

For me, the problems didn't come to the surface until the weight was no longer hiding them. So now what do I do? I'm not sure. But until I feel at peace with my heart, I know I can't feel at peace with my body. I can't feel beautiful outside until I find the beauty inside. 

Jamie's right. We can all be beautiful at any size. It's nothing to do with weight or fitness level or dress sizes. It's a state of mind. An appreciation for what your body is, rather than what society thinks it should be. You can be beautiful at every step and stage of life. Appreciate every curve, every angle, for what it is right now. Don't worry about what could be or might have been. 

Today, you are beautiful. We are beautiful. And we have to keep fighting the good fight to remember it.