Thursday, January 1, 2015

Get. Back. Up.

Happy New Year! I bet you’re ready to get started on that resolution. Great! Here’s something I want you to know: You’re going to fail. Seriously, accept that now. I promise I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer though – I have a point. 

We’re all human (well, I think some spambots read my blog, but most of my readers are human), so we all slip up at times. Americans are especially notorious for making big, bold New Year’s resolutions about health and fitness. We do a great job for the first week or so … then we’re usually right back to our old habits. 

I’m not saying you shouldn’t make resolutions, however. What I’m saying is that you need to accept that failure is going to be a part of your journey. You WILL eat something you shouldn’t, you WILL skip a workout and you WILL tell yourself that packing lunch isn’t worth the effort anymore. If you don’t make a single mistake ever again after Jan. 1, then congratulations! You must be one of the robots. 

There’s an proverb I love: Fall down seven times, stand up eight. So like I said, you will fail/fall at some point … what matters is that you Get. Back. Up!

I used to tell myself, “Oh, I’ve ruined this week, so I might as well start over next week … or next month.” I would use the excuse time and again. I can’t tell you how many AWESOME Mondays and first days of the month I’ve had. But real change happened when I started to fall down on Wednesday, and I got right back up on Thursday (instead of waiting for Monday to roll around again).

Don’t wait until next week or month – every day is a new beginning. Actually, every hour! If you’ve failed, if you’ve fallen down, accept it and move on. Get up and use your next workout or your next meal as a chance to start fresh. It’s not easy, but when you stop wasting all those “already ruined” days/weeks/months, you see more positive days/weeks/months coming together. 

I think I’ve shared this before, but check out my weight chart from Weight Watchers. I started the program THREE times before I finally stuck with it. And in the two years it took me to lose 105 pounds, I had to mentally restart a million times over.

That line is jagged because I’m not perfect - my weight went up a lot, but it went down a lot more. Just this week, I had to reset my routine after falling down the holiday black hole. Of course that was my plan, but I still had to pull myself back up – I didn’t want to stay down for long. 

So I’m not saying you can’t achieve your goals … I’m just saying it’s not going to be easy, and you’re not going to be perfect. Remember, failure is a just a part of the process – you’re only a real failure if you completely give up.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

PiYo Review

A lot of people have messaged me to ask what I think of PiYo, so I figured it was worth a post. Before I give my opinions, I want to note a few things: 
  • I did NOT follow the PiYo program as directed. The kit has a calendar of workouts, but I just sort of tossed it to the side. Instead, I chose to do the workouts at random two or three times a week, depending on my schedule/needs. Running remains my favorite/primary focus when it comes to exercise. I did, however, perform all the PiYo moves according to the instructor/modifier. Basically, I do NOT recommend doing this program in a manner that could leave you injured, OK? Nobody wants that. 
  • I purchased the program through my friend Kendra, who is a Beach Body coach. I like Kendra, but I am not personally affiliated with the company, and all opinions in this unofficial review are my own. Savvy? 
With that out of the way, let’s talk about WHY I bought the DVDs in the first place. 
  1. I need a good strength-training program. It’s proven that strength/cross training can improve running and decrease your chances of injury. I kept trying different things, but I hadn’t found a program/routine that I liked well enough to do regularly.
  2. I needed something I could do at home. I have an hour (one-way) commute to/from work, and my husband has an irregular work schedule, so classes or equipment at a gym just aren't convenient for me.
  3. I wanted a routine that involved bodyweight exercises (because I’m just too cheap to buy extra weights) and kept impact to a minimum (because I work out in the wee hours of the morning while my daughter is still sleeping, so I can’t make a lot of noise on our old, creaking floors). 
So, now that I’ve been doing the workouts for eight weeks, here are some things I like about PiYo: 
  1. It fits all of my above criteria – strength training at home with body weight exercises and minimal impact. BOOM! There are a few workouts that require a bit of jumping and even burpees (UGH!), but for the most part, it’s quiet and easy on my joints. 
  2. It’s challenging … but not too challenging. A lot of yoga or pilates DVDs seem to be either so easy I feel like I’m not working out … or so hard I can’t get through a routine without stopping. For me, PiYo offers a nice middle-of-the-road level. I can do a majority of the moves, but I still have to use the modified versions of many and feel like I definitely get a good burn – I’m always sore the next day (the “good” sore). Plus, it's fun to throw around some of the moves as party tricks when you've had too much wine ... Oops!
  3. It has variety. With eight main workouts, plus one bonus workout (Hardcore on the Floor), I definitely don’t feel bored yet, as I have with other DVDs. I prefer some workouts over others, for sure, but there aren’t any I absolutely hate. (OK, maybe I hate buns ... but that's just because my buns are out of shape!) 
  4. It has really helped my running. When I first started, several people told me “Oh, the stretches will be great for you since you’re a runner.” They were right! I am slowly noticing a difference in my flexibility and core strength, and I have even noticed a difference in my pace! It could be a COMPLETE fluke, but I ran my (accidental) 5K PR three weeks into my training with PiYo, and I recently ran an awesome 10-mile training run that was on pace for a 1:55 half marathon – that would be a 5-minute PR for me! I can really feel a difference in my stride – it’s stronger, easier and more powerful. I never took the recommended “before” pictures of my body because I don’t care about appearance-based results. I doubt you’d SEE much of a difference in my body if I had taken the pictures anyway (lose skin … enough said), but I can definitely FEEL some positive changes, and that’s what matters to me. 

All that said, I still think PiYo has some flaws … 
  1. I’m not a fan of the way PiYo is marketed. The system is sold as an ultimate solution to change your life and lose weight … I just have a hard time believing that these DVDs are the ONLY workout you need to achieve the results that Beach Body seems to promise. There’s hardly any cardio in the program, and it’s definitely not “intense” cardio as they advertise. I realize I’m NOT a fitness expert, but it just seems like you’d need some more heart-rate-raising sweat in order to lose/maintain weight. That's probably why Beach Body has so many other programs, which leads me to my second problem ...
  2. It’s one HUGE commercial for other products. If I have to hear about Shakeology's "dense, superfood nutrition" one more time ... Ugh! And trust me, you can’t avoid any of the commercials for this stuff and the other Beach Body programs. Some of them play before your PiYo workout will begin, and Chalene even starts talking about them while you’re stretching! Ugh. She wants you to be a Beach Body coach and PiYo instructor … and don’t forget to buy her workout clothes! I love you, Chalene, but I need a workout, NOT a commercial! I know this is how Beach Body makes money - they want you to buy their other products/programs ... but the amount of advertising in this program is overkill, in my opinion. 
So overall, YES, I would recommend PiYo to other people as a piece of their overall fitness/exercise routine. If you're a beginner, make sure you follow the modified movements, and don't get discouraged ... and don't say I didn't warn you about the ads! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

TRUTH: I'd rather be merry than guilty

Here's the deal: I haven't tracked a single point since Thursday, Dec. 19. And I don't have any intention to start tracking again until .... sometime after Christmas, definitely BEFORE New Year's Eve though. I haven't decided exactly when.

I'm not going to go overboard, but I am going to enjoy myself, dammit. Some people have awesome self control - good for them. I've tried restricting myself at the holidays before, and I always ended up feeling left out and unsatisfied. Or, I would fail miserably at my attempts to stay on track ... and then feel guilty for the rest of the day/week/year.

This time, Kyle and I decided to "turn off" our Weight Watchers trackers for the week and just enjoy our time with our families. If I feel like have a salad, I will ... And if I feel like having some more cookies, I will. Our streak will continue not matter what, however - it's not like we're COMPLETELY throwing in the towel.

Weight Watchers tells its members to have a plan for the holidays - I agree, you have to strategize in order to deal with the food, the social pressure and the mental/emotional baggage of trying to be healthy when you're surrounded by anything-BUT-healthy options. Well, this is my plan. I'm going to continue to focus on fitness ... and the food just is what it is.

For us, this week isn't about weight loss anyway - it's about family.

Come next week, however, things will be back in business. I know it doesn't matter that we take a break - what matters is that we jump right back in the game. A few years ago, I don't think I had the mental confidence to do something like this without taking an entire month (or two) off. Now, I know I can turn it all around tomorrow if I want (but I don't).

So I'll deal with the consequences on the scale (and my digestive system), but I'd rather by merry than guilty for once. I'm determined to live a health LIFESTYLE ... but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm healthy all the time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Then and Now: Because the journey isn't over

Yesterday, I saw this picture of me and Kyle at my company Christmas party. Cute, right? Definitely a keeper.

But then, I compared it to a picture of us from Kenlee's first Christmas in 2011 ... and I was shocked.

We've changed a lot over the last three years, most obviously in regard to our weight. At this point, I've lost 105 pounds and Kyle has lost more than 90. As I've said before, taking this journey together has made all the difference. We're proud of the changes we've made and the lifestyle we've adapted. Our appearance has transformed, yes. But we've also transformed our attitudes, our marriage and our family.

It's admittedly hard to see that picture from when we were close to our heaviest/unhealthiest. At first glance, I feel ashamed and embarrassed. How did we live like that? Why didn't we change? I don't recognize those people anymore, and I definitely don't want to be those people anymore.

But as I looked at that old photo a little longer, I realized those people starting back at me are a vital part of who we are today. Without them, we wouldn't understand the struggle. We wouldn't know the gravity of our everyday decisions. We wouldn't be able to truly appreciate what we've accomplished.

You know, I used to wish with all my might that we were never obese, that we never had issues with food or impulses or motivation to exercise. I wished Kyle and I were both naturally thin people with amazing metabolisms and athletic abilities. I wished we'd never had to worry about weight at all!

But that wish will never come true, and I think I'm finally starting to accept who we are ... AND who we used to be. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I believe our journey over the last three years is merely a piece of a much bigger one.

You know, a lot of people post photos for #TransformationTuesday and label them "Before" and "After." I prefer, however, to think of ours as "Then" and "Now" ... because our journey isn't over.
If the last three years have taught me anything, it's that we can handle anything as long as we're together.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Accidental PR (No, Really!)

OK, don't punch me. But I accidentally PR'd my 5K on Thanksgiving.

I'm not trying to downplay anything or humble-brag. I seriously never intended to go that fast, and I certainly wasn't trying ... at least not I until I was nearly done with the race. Here's how illness, a malfunctioning GPS watch and some sibling rivalry combined to create my accidental PR.

It started a couple of weeks ago, when my daughter caught a cold, complete with a nasty cough that kept her (and us) up all night for nearly two weeks. Kenlee was kind enough to share her germs with me, and I had my own coughing/hacking spells and wasn't able to breathe or talk normally for a solid week.

I didn't run a single mile during that time, and I barely left my couch. My first "test run" was a 4-miler with Kim, and it was all I could do to keep my head up as I trudged along behind her. That was the Friday before Thanksgiving. On Sunday, I went alone for 5 miles, telling myself I would just take it easy and get back out there. Well, I WAS taking it easy and I STILL wanted to stop and walk. I was wheezing by mile 2 ...

Fast forward to the day before Thanksgiving. I was feeling better that morning when I met Kim, who said I could pick our pace/mileage since I was running a Turkey Trot the next day. I laughed at the thought of actually racing while I was still recuperating, and we decided on 6 miles at what turned out to be a good pace. We needed a few breaks - for my legs and her hips. I was happy to run again, but I was noticeably sore the rest of the day.

That night, as Kyle and I were going over the logistics of the next morning (alarms, when to drop Kenlee with grandma, etc.), I was pondering my strategy. I didn't want to race, but I also didn't want to go out for a leisurely jog. I decided my best effort would be to come relatively close my PR from May: 25:31. I felt like 8:30 miles would be obtainable, yet challenging. I fully expected my pace to actually come closer to 8:45, if I was lucky.

On race morning, I wasn't nervous at all - I didn't have a big goal, so I just wanted to have fun. Kyle and I met up with my brother, who WAS a bit nervous since he hadn't run at all since his MARATHON in October. (I'm so proud of him, by the way. I'd say he deserved a break!) Scott asked if I would warm up with him, and I agreed. We took a short jog through the park and came back to the start, where I tapped the button my GPS watch to search for satellite signal.

Well, my watch searched. And searched. And searched. ... And when start whistle blew nearly 5 minutes later, it was STILL searching. I started the timer and took off, annoyed. Without GPS, I couldn't monitor my pace between miles. I wouldn't know if I was running 8:30 miles or 10:30 miles or 6:30 miles (in my Kenyan dreams, OK?) ... UGH!

Well, I decided to do the next best thing when it comes to race strategies: Run like hell and hope for the best! As I passed the first mile marker, a volunteer was shouting times: 7:21, 7:22, 7:23! Shit. That was way too fast. How am I still breathing? I'm totally going to puke if I don't slow down. 

Just after that, Scott passed me. He's always been faster, which is only natural since he's got legs like a giraffe and was on the track and cross country teams in high school. But I was disappointed knowing he'd taken more than a month off running and could STILL beat me. I decided I would at least keep him in my sights. Don't let him get too far ahead! Some people might call this being a sore loser - I prefer to call it healthy sibling rivalry, OK?

About a mile later, I realized I had not only kept him in my sights, but I was also catching up! Then, miraculously, I actually PASSED him! Neener, neener, neener! I wanted to make a snide remark and stick out my tongue like a 10-year-old, but I decided I'd better focus.  After all, I didn't want him to come back and pass me again. Sibling rivalry for the win!

For the final stretch of the race, I was doing runner's math in my head. My GPS had FINALLY found a signal around mile 2 (better late than never, I suppose!), so I could see I was holding my 8:30 goal pace. With that pace, and what the timer said, I suddenly realized I might finish just a few seconds under my PR. Maybe, right? No, I'm going too slow. Wait, I have more than enough time banked from the first mile! Do I? I suck at at math. Shit, just run, Tami!

So I did just that. I ran. As fast as my lungs and legs would allow. I thought I was going to pass out a few steps after the finish line - from exhaustion and surprise! My watch read 24:57! I took more than 30 seconds off my PR!

When I looked at the official results, I got another surprise: My time was actually 24:54! It's a good thing I floored it at the end - Scott wasn't far behind, finishing in 25:08. The cherry on top of the perfect race sundae was seeing Kyle come in at 28:28, well under his goal of 30:00!

So I'd like to thank Kenlee for forcing me to take that unexpected taper with her cold germs, my cheap GPS watch for letting me start out way too fast, and my brother for giving me the motviation to finish strong. Accident or not, a PR is a PR ... and I'm thrilled to have another great race in the books.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I Mustache You Some Questions

Kim tagged me in a little bloggy game, so I obliged. But I didn't tag anyone else ... because I'm not sure if any of my bloggy friends would want to play. So if you want to, go for it! 

Four names that people call me, other than my real name
  • Momma (Obviously)
  • Tami Sue (People constantly guess that Sue is my middle name ... It's Jo.)
  • Word Lady (Coworkers)
  • Sperman (Only Jodie!)
Four jobs I have had
  • Cashier at Kaiser's Supermarket in high school
  • BGSU Rec Center Reccie
  • Summer worker at an air conditioning factory ... which was NOT air conditioned!
  • Reporter/Editor/Paginator/Christmas Tree Decorator at the BT
Four movies I've watched more than once
  • Cinderella - Still my all-time favorite princess movie, and I CAN'T WAIT for the live action version coming in the spring
  • Mean Girls - Still know almost every word and wrote a paper on it in college
  • A League of Their Own - Of course!
  • Christmas Vacation - Need to bust this out soon ...
Four books I’d recommend
  • The entire "Harry Potter" series
  • "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tart (awesome on audio book)
  • "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall (also good audio book)
  • "The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World"
Four places I have lived
  • Edgerton, Ohio
  • Bowling Green, Ohio
  • Toledo, Ohio
  • Edon, Ohio
Four places I have been
  • New York City
  • Ohio Stadium
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Chimney Rock, North Carolin
Four things I don’t eat
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pork rinds
  • Moonshine - Never again!
  • Protein bars - I'm not a fan of the chalky consistency in most
Four of my favorite foods
  • Any and all Mexican food
  • Wine
  • Hummus - Especially when Sabra is on sale!
  • Broccoli - REALLY! Ask Kyle, we eat it with nearly every meal. 
Four TV shows that I watch (NOTE: I don't have any explanation for my absurdly random TV tastes)
  • "The Walking Dead"
  • "Pretty Little Liars"
  • "Dance Moms"
  • "19 Kids and Counting"
Four things I am looking forward to this year
  • Running a marathon
  • Going to Disney World next fall! Woohoo!
  • Our living room/dining room remodel
  • My sister-in-law's wedding - As long as I stay away from the moonshine!
Four things I’m always saying
  • "Look at me. I said look at me. What did Mommy say?" (Stolen from Kim, but it's SO TRUE.)
  • "Did you tootie?" Sometimes I ask Kenlee, sometimes Kyle ... and sometimes Rowdy. There's a lot of tootie in our house, apparently ... must be the broccoli
  • "I write much words" - Basically my job description
  • "I love you" 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What We're Eating: Loaded Baked Potato, Weight Watchers Style

In my recent search for more healthy recipes, I had a light bulb moment for a meal that’s so easy, it’s stupid (but Kenlee would immediately tell me that stupid isn’t a nice word … so let’s say it’s ridiculously easy). 

Loaded Baked Potato, Weight Watchers Style
  • Large, plain baked potato – 7 points
  • 1 tablespoon County Crock Light – 1 point
  • ¼ cup fat-free sour cream – 1 point
  • ¼ cup 2% shredded cheddar cheese – 2 points
  • 1 ½ slices turkey bacon, crumbled – 1 point
  • Steamed broccoli – 0 points!
  • TOTAL: 12 points! 
So I guess I could give directions, but this one is pretty self-explanatory. Kyle baked our potatoes in the oven, with olive oil and sea salt (which would technically add 3 points), but I realize you can bake a potato many, many ways that don’t involve any other ingredients. 

You could also add/remove ingredients to your preference – I loaded mine with broccoli, but the possibilities are endless! Next time, I’m thinking of using salsa. Oh, and Kenlee requested MORE BACON. Kyle pointed out she wasn't eating her meal, she was on a bacon scavenger hunt. Ha!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Let's go streaking!

If you go to Weight Watchers meetings, you know that from now through New Year’s, they’re focused on helping members get through the holidays. No doubt, this time of year is difficult for people trying to stay healthy and make good choices – food temptation lurks around every corner, and Mother Nature makes it hard to stay active and motivated. 

Starting my 2013 streak at the YMCA Turkey Trot - same plan this year!
At my meeting Friday, our leader asked if we had any goals for the holidays – lose weight, maintain, make a healthy meal for your family gathering, etc. I hadn’t thought about it much, but I decided I’m doing the Runner’s World Run Streak again. Last year, I didn’t take time to write a follow-up post, but I know the streak really helped me stay on track

So I’m bringing the streak back – and I’ll hope you’ll join me! Here’s why:

“It took the focus off food,” I told the other members at my meeting. I hadn’t said the words out loud before, but that’s EXACTLY why I loved the streak so much. No, I didn’t just eat anything and everything and let myself off the hook for the whole month. But I did feel a lot less guilty when I threw back some cookies, cocoa and crab dip. I didn’t really lose any weight – but I didn’t gain either! Every day, it’s like I was hitting a reset button. A quick mile (or more) in the morning would set the tone for my entire day, and it gave me incentive to make better choices – not perfect, but better. 

The Christmas before, I went in feeling like I had to stick to a serious plan in order to stay on track through the holidays. I wasn’t working out much, (OK, I wasn’t working out at all!), so nutrition was the only thing I could use to keep myself in check. And I felt deprived. I felt like I couldn’t enjoy things like everyone else. As much as I hate to admit it, the holidays just aren’t as much fun without some (not all!) of my favorite foods. 

Managed a few long runs while streaking.
With the streak, I put my focus on fitness, not food. Instead of feeling like I was being restricted or limited, I was giving myself something extra to enjoy. It was a challenge that was fun and exciting rather than controlling and miserable. And yes, I’ll admit that I felt a little badass for running in the snow and cold. Hey, at least in December all of the Christmas lights were out to enjoy! Come January and February, the outdoors isn’t nearly as enjoyable for running. But I digress. 

This year, I’m hoping to get more streakers going with me! The challenge is free, and you don’t even have to sign up or log into anything. You can, however, follow Runner’s World and the official social media hashtag #RWRunStreak for inspiration, motivation and accountability. That last part is a BIG help – my friend Chelsea and I kept each other accountable last year by messaging each other our mileage every single day! (Thanks again, Chelsea!)

Mother Nature's natural mascara!
Since I created my blog’s Facebook page, it will be easy to post some accountability for anyone who’d like to join me. If you’re up to it, I’ll post a thread every day – from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day – for people to comment with their mileage or workout. I say workout because I think it’s totally acceptable to walk, run, bike, swim, elliptical, Zumba, WHATEVER YOU’D LIKE. My mother-in-law biked a mile a day last year and kept her streak alive well after the holidays! In my opinion, ANY activity is a step in the right direction, especially at this time of year. Personally, I may trade in a few of my miles for a Piyo workout so I can continue to work on my strength goals. 

So, do you want to get a head start on that New Year’s resolution? Do you want feel proud of yourself after the holidays – instead of disappointed? Are you up for a fun challenge? 

All right, let’s go streaking! Make a plan now for logging your daily activity, and make sure you like and follow the Tales of Tami Facebook page. I’ll start posting on Thanksgiving Day. Here’s to a healthy, happy holidays!

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.)