Friday, November 30, 2012

Pink, yellow, and orange

I reeeeally didn't feel like a long run this morning, and was so tempted to just put it off and possibly do it tomorrow. But if I put off every run that I didn't feel like doing, I wouldn't be a runner anymore ;)

So I got up and dressed, and since Jerry was home to get the kids off to school, I left the house at 7:15. I drove to the Metropark to run, since running nine miles around here would drag on forever--I needed the change of scenery. I parked at the same spot I ran with Steph last week, and just planned to run out 4.5 miles and then turn around.

It was in the mid-30's, and I felt hot almost immediately after I started running. I was wearing two long-sleeved shirts, and I should have just worn one. I was glad I left my gloves in the car. My goal was to try and maintain sub-10:00 miles for the whole run. For the first couple, I felt fine. Mile three, I started to feel really irritated and I wanted to turn around early.

During the fourth mile, I just felt "off". My legs felt clumsy, and I just really didn't want to run! I kept going, but quit pushing the pace. Once I got to the turn-around spot, I was happy to be headed back to the car, so I started running a little faster each mile. After mile eight, I saw that I was running a 9:32/mi average pace, and I decided to use the last mile to try and get the average under 9:30. So I ran hard for the last mile, and finished the last mile in 8:41, making my average overall pace 9:26. I was happy with that!
I was really surprised to see that I had burned 916 calories! I very rarely burn 100+ calories per mile... usually more like 85. I've noticed that I've been burning more lately, since I've been running faster (obviously because it gets my heart rate up higher).

When I got home, I showered and then made a very indulgent breakfast: steel cut oats topped with 2 Tbsp. of Nutella! It was as yummy as it was messy and gross-looking ;)

After breakfast, Jerry and I went out for some errands. Our garbage disposal broke yesterday, so we needed a new one from Lowe's. I also had to mail some shirts to a couple of the girls on my Ragnar team. We finally decided on team colors!! Our team isn't going to be wearing the exact same shirts, but we're going to wear the same colors--that way we can wear whatever we like and still match.

For the first run, we'll be wearing bright pink. Run #2 will be bright yellow. And the third run will be bright orange. I have a bright pink tank and a bright yellow tank, but was in need of orange. And since all the winter clothes are out now, I was worried I'd have a hard time finding a tank to use in Florida. I ended up finding some on clearance for $4.50! They are performance tanks (moisture-wicking fabric, which is what I like to run in). And they had bright orange.

I took this picture in the fitting room to text to the rest of my team, to see if they wanted me to pick up some for them as well. Jerry was desperate to be in the picture ;)
We talked about maybe putting "our number" on the back--meaning the number of pounds we've lost. These tanks are ribbed, so I'm not sure how I will do that. Maybe with reflective tape?

I'm waiting on one more part of my outfit, and then I'll post pictures. I'm getting SO EXTREMELY EXCITED. The Ragnar is all I have thought about for days now! I cannot wait to meet my team, and run with them in Florida.

Noah went to a pool party with a friend tonight, so Jerry and I asked Eli if he wanted to do something special while Noah was gone. He said he wanted to go out for ice cream. Thankfully, all of the ice cream shops around here are closed for the season, so we went to McDonald's for ice cream, where I could get my beloved vanilla cone. That cone has become a favorite treat of mine lately! Jerry and I always look forward to seeing what our cones look like--sometimes, they look picture-perfect; other times, they look very sloppy.

A few days ago, we got one that was the sloppiest cone I'd ever seen. I wish I'd thought to take a picture! Literally half of the ice cream was falling down the side of the cone. I was a little shocked when I saw it, and then when Jerry was handed his cone, it looked the same as mine! We thought it was hilarious. The person who made it definitely needed more practice.

Today, our cones weren't very pretty, but they sure did taste good!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Weight Watchers goal weight

As you probably know, yesterday's Powerball was big news--$500 million. Jerry and I play the lotto only once every three years or so, when the jackpot is super high like that. We know nothing about the lottery, but when everyone talks about it, we might spend $5 on tickets.

So a few days ago, I happened to have $10 cash in my wallet (I very rarely have cash), so I told Jerry to go ahead and buy $10 worth of tickets, just for the fun of it. He bought the ticket and then last night, we were looking at it for the drawing when he realized that he'd bought the wrong one!

He bought the Mega Millions ticket instead of the Powerball.

We're lucky that our numbers weren't pulled on the Powerball, because that would have been the ultimate disappointment! Not that we expected to win, but it was nice to think we at least had a shot... until we realized Jerry's mistake ;)

This morning, I had four miles at race pace on the schedule. Technically my race pace for Ragnar is 9:00/mi, but when my schedule says "race pace", I just try to run anything sub-9:00. Unlike yesterday, I really didn't feel like running today. It's always hard to get motivated to run after a day off!

I put on the Jillian Michaels' podcast and listened to that while I ran. I love doing out-and-back routes, because they seem to go buy so much faster. Once I get to the turnaround, it's just a straight shot home. I finished with a pretty good time!
Tomorrow is my long run--nine miles.

After my run, I showered, ate breakfast, and got ready to go to my Weight Watchers meeting. Last week, I drank a ton of water and wore heavy clothes before the meeting. This morning, I didn't have a lot of time to worry about that, so I just dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans, drank one quart of water, and two cups of tea.

I knew that the Weight Watchers scale would register a large loss, but I really didn't care, since I'd already done my initial weigh in. Last week, I went to the Wednesday night meeting, since Thanksgiving was on Thursday; so it was a different leader. Today, I met the leader that I'd spoken with on the phone. She weighed me in and I was down 6.4 pounds from last week (yikes). Which means I reached my WW goal weight.

To reach goal on WW, you have to have lost at least 5 pounds from your starting weight, and your goal has to be within the healthy BMI range (for me, that's between 117-144). I chose 143 for my WW goal weight, because I weigh in with clothes on, and after breakfast and all that. I wanted to have a little "cushion" in case I gain a few pounds. So today, I was 141.6, and "officially" reached goal.
My leader asked if I wanted her to present me with the sticker at the meeting, and I said no, thank you. Despite the fact that I am a blogger, and write all about myself, I really don't like getting attention. So she handed me a pamphlet on maintenance, and the sticker, and a little WW charm for reaching goal:
I was being silly when Jerry took this pic--like, "I've been on and off WW for the last almost-20 years, and I FINALLY reached goal, and look what I got!!" It's such a dumb thing to get excited about, but I worked a loooong time and very hard to get that little star!

I put it on the WW 10% key chain my sister gave me. When I was losing weight, I was still counting WW Points, but wasn't a member. I had lost 10% of my weight, and my sister wrapped up her 10% key chain that SHE had gotten from WW and gave it to me. I thought that was really awesome of her! She said I should get something for all the work I was doing...
So the key chain is old and worn, and I love it like that--because both of us worked really hard for it!

Now, the next step is to become a "Lifetime" member. To reach that status, I have to maintain my weight loss for six weeks (losing more is okay). After the six week period, if I'm at or below goal, I will be a Lifetime member, and won't have to pay for meetings (or e-tools, a way to log PointsPlus online) as long as I continue to weigh in once a month at or below goal.

I really should have thought this through before reaching goal today, because you know when my six-week period ends? The day after I get home from Key West. This could either go really well, or really badly. It can definitely help to keep me on track in Florida, but I don't want to be afraid of letting loose and having as much fun as possible down there.

We all know how much weight I can gain in a few days on vacation... it's not unusual for me to gain 10 pounds in a weekend! I think I'll be fine as far as the food goes, but it's the alcohol that I'm worried about. Jerry and I will be on vacation in Key West without kids, in a beautiful hotel on the beach... and I plan on having some drinks. Too many drinks! But I'm certainly not 21 anymore, so maybe I'll only last a day before I never want to see alcohol again ;)

Regardless, I'm not going to worry much about it. If it means that I have to maintain my weight for another six weeks when I get home, so be it! But I was a little worried about going super-overboard while on vacation, so maybe this whole WW thing will keep me in check. I don't mind gaining a couple of pounds over the week, but I certainly don't want to gain 10.

Anyway, the meeting was okay. The ladies in there were VERY friendly, and I didn't feel judged in the slightest. They asked if I was new, and I said yes; they all introduced themselves, which was nice. I didn't tell anyone that I'd lost a lot of weight or anything, so they probably assumed I was just looking to lose a few pounds. It was hard NOT to talk about that, because all the other ladies were talking about how much they'd lost--but I kind of felt like if I said anything, I would be stealing the show, and I didn't want to do that.

The hardest part was when someone brought up The Dr. Oz Show. Of course none of them knew that I had been a guest on the show, and I almost mentioned it, but didn't want to get totally off the topic of what the leader was trying to talk about (which wasn't The Dr. Oz Show!). So again, I just kept quiet the whole time. And it was actually really nice, to not have to talk about my weight loss, and just hear about the success of others.

I liked the leader of the Wednesday night meeting better, but I have to pick a daytime meeting while my kids are in school. So I'm not sure what I'll do next week--if I'll stay in the Thursday morning meeting, or switch to one with a different leader. Maybe I'll go to a few different meetings (once you pay, you can go to as many meetings as you want that week) and try out a few different leaders before finding one to stick with. But since joining, I haven't had any negative experiences this time around, so I am happy about that!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wearable in public

I was actually a little disappointed that today was a rest day--I wanted to go run this morning. I know, what the heck is wrong with me?!

The weather has just been so great for running lately that I want to take full advantage of it. But I ran the last four days in a row, so I took today off. This morning was my weekly weigh-in. I'm going to start just doing my weight on a weekly basis, and save my body fat and waist measurement for once a month (since the change is so minimal on those).

Today's weigh in?
Sorry for the bad pic! I need to stop using my phone for scale pics
Today I was 135, so I lost half a pound this week. Doesn't sound like much, but being this close to my goal weight, half a pound is good! I'm now just two pounds from goal, so I could get there any day now :)

I went through my closet and tried on a bunch of stuff that I haven't worn in a while--namely my dresses. I was surprised (and delighted) to find that they fit really well now, and my Dr. Oz dress (the blue one I wore on the show) is actually pretty big! I had to wear Spanx to squeeze into that dress on the show. The dress I wore in Sarah's wedding is now pretty loose as well, and I could barely zip it (even with Spanx) on the day of her wedding a little over a year ago.

I was able to move all of my jeans into the "wearable in public" pile, and even get rid of some that were too big. This time, I have to KEEP THEM THERE, and have a very solid plan for maintenance. I'm going to try and follow in Stephanie's footsteps, and continue to count PointsPlus in order to stay at goal. I'll get to add some extra PP once I hit goal, but I will still be counting.

I made a really quick and good soup for lunch today. I've been craving cream of mushroom soup, but when I make it homemade, it's only good with a lot of cream in it. And that's about a million PP. So I just chopped up 8 oz. of mushrooms, and 6 oz. of leftover turkey and added it to a pot along with a can of cream of mushroom soup and a can of milk. That made two very filling servings, at 6 PP each. I was full for hours afterward, and the soup was SO good!
On Jerry's way to work today, the minivan broke down. That is sooo not good. It's super old, and we certainly didn't expect it to last forever, but this is a terrible time to have to worry about the car (just before Christmas, and our trip to Florida...). Jerry had to call off work for the very first time in TEN YEARS. He managed to get the van back home, but there is something really wrong with it. My dad is an auto mechanic, so he's going to look at it, but it's probably not worth fixing.

Jerry would have been getting a bonus at work for perfect attendance (they do that once a year in December), but today ruined that :(  Once he got the car home, he ended up going in to work with the Jeep, but he was an hour late--so the bonus is void.

We can technically get by with just the Jeep, but then I would be stuck at home for his entire 12-hour shifts. I would go crazy! A couple of years ago, we had to go an entire summer and part of the fall with just one car. The boys and I had to get very creative with things to do. And we called a bus to pick us up at home once in a while--the boys thought that was so fun! I did not ;)

But anyway, I'm just hoping that the van can be fixed. I don't know how soon my dad can look at it (we're always at the bottom of his priority list, since his "paying" customers come first, haha).

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to run and then go to my second Weight Watchers meeting. I'm still nervous to go, but not nearly as nervous as last time!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Results not typical

Well, Estelle has been having a blast with our Christmas tree. Last night, we didn't even have it up for 10 minutes before she climbed it...
She thinks she's being sneaky. She managed to climb up and sit for a few minutes, then climb all the way back down without knocking any of the ornaments off. That's impressive!

After getting the kids off to school this morning, I checked the weather to see how I should dress for my run. Yep, I knew it would be cold--it's Michigan, and it's November--but just look at how consistent the weather is here in Michigan...
Full sun, snow, partly cloudy, freezing rain, cloudy, and rain... see how predictable? ;)

Today I was scheduled to do an easy run, but I was in the mood to run fast. So I did. I wasn't trying to hit a certain time or pace; just run fast for three miles. I did the same out-and-back route I've been doing all the time lately, and the run was tough. I kept telling myself, "This is supposed to be an easy run, you can totally slow down if you want."

But I knew it would be over soon, and I really wanted to practice that uncomfortable feeling for my 5K race in a couple of weeks, so I stuck it out. I was very relieved to be done!
I just realized that the time is off on my Garmin. You would think that since it's a GPS watch, it would "know" the correct time, since it "knows" my location... I will have to try and figure out how to fix the time.

Anyway, after lunch, Jerry and I went to see Breaking Dawn at the movies. I really loved the Twilight books, but I didn't get into the movies very much. Jerry, however, didn't read the books but he LOVED the movies. We were the only two people in the theater for the entire movie!
The movie was bad. I cringed at some of the sound effects, and the bad acting, and the strange visual effects. I'm sure it was a difficult movie to make, though, with the wolves, and the tearing off of vampires' heads!

For dinner tonight, I cooked a turkey that we got from Jerry's work. Every year, they give all of the employees a turkey a couple of days before Thanksgiving. I usually wait until about a week after Thanksgiving to cook it, so that's what I made today. I also made mashed potatoes and roasted green beans.

Carving a turkey takes lots of time, and I was cooking the side dishes at the same time--so I was a little overwhelmed for a bit. Meanwhile, Jerry took the boys outside to play. When dinner was ready, Jerry and the boys were nowhere to be found. I was so irritated, because I'd gone to so much trouble making dinner. I just fixed myself a plate of food while it was still hot, and ate turkey dinner by myself. Jerry had taken the boys out in the woods, and they got back about a half hour after I was done eating.

I think Jerry felt bad, because he kept saying how good dinner was (even though it was cold!).

My sister (Jeanie) called me last night and said that she's doing Weight Watchers again. She just started a couple of weeks ago, and she's already lost over six pounds! She doesn't have much to lose, but I'm excited for her. It will also be helpful when we go on our trip in a few weeks--we talked about how we don't want the trip to revolve around food. We can help keep each other on track.

My mom has also been doing really well on Weight Watchers--she's down over 10 pounds. And just today, she told me that she was thinking of doing the Couch to 5K plan. I was SHOCKED when she said that! But I think that's awesome. She said that it seems like most of the people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off are runners, so she might as well give it a try ;)

It's kind of funny... when I was obese, I loved to read weight loss success stories. I would read them in magazines, books, on websites, etc. But I always skipped right past the ones where someone had become a runner while/after losing weight. I figured that since there was "no way" I'd ever be a runner, I didn't even want to read the story. I was actually kind of annoyed at the stories where someone lost 100+ pounds and then went on to run a marathon.

And now I AM that "results not typical" story that I hated! I never in a million years would have guessed I'd become a runner one day. I remember talking with Stephanie at Winers less than a year ago, and she was talking about walking for exercise. Jessica asked her, "So Steph, do you think you'll start running?" And Stephanie gave us this look that made it very clear that she wasn't interested in running--ever. She said, "No!" and we didn't ask again.

And then, less than six months later, Stephanie ran her first 5K ;)  (Here is her running story). It's so fun to see how running really does change lives!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Muscles

This morning, I was scheduled to do speed work: 8 x 400m (which means running 400 meters, about 1/4 mile, 8 times at a very fast pace, with rest/walking in-between). I do intervals like this every other week. Two weeks ago, I did it on the treadmill; and four weeks ago, I did it on the track. Today, I decided to just run it on a normal route outside.

I set up my Garmin for intervals--short warm-up run, then 8 repeats of 1/4 mile hard, then 1/10 mile walk. My plan was to run the hard intervals as fast as I could while still reserving enough energy to finish. It was rough!! These interval workouts are hard, but very rewarding when I see my pace at the end ;)

My interval splits (first number is time it took me to run the 1/4 mile, second number is pace):

Split 1: 1:55.3 (7:42/mi pace)
Split 2: 1:54.1 (7:37/mi)
Split 3: 1:54.4 (7:38/mi)
Split 4: 1:49.2 (7:17/mi)
Split 5: 1:51.7 (7:27/mi)
Split 6: 1:43.9 (6:56/mi!!)
Split 7: 1:50.0 (7:20/mi)
Split 8: 1:51.0 (7:24/mi)

My splits improved quite a bit just over the last month--and I'm stunned I managed a 6:56 pace for the sixth split! For reference, these were my splits one month ago:

Split 1- 1:53 (7:34/mi pace)
Split 2- 1:55 (7:40/mi pace)
Split 3- 1:58 (7:53/mi pace)
Split 4- 1:57 (7:52/mi pace)
Split 5- 1:59 (7:56/mi pace)
Split 6- 1:56 (7:44/mi pace)

I know I keep saying this, but it's so exciting to see the numbers to show that I'm actually getting faster :)


While I was eating breakfast, the FedEx guy pulled up in front of the house--always exciting! I was expecting a package that I had been wanting for over a year now.

It's no secret that I am very cheap when it comes to clothing--I almost never buy brand new clothes, because I can get them super cheap at garage sales and thrift stores (I do buy new undies, however!). When I do buy brand new clothes, I don't spend much at all. I think the most I've ever paid for a pair of jeans was maybe $25? The most expensive pants I've ever bought are my Under Armour Cold Gear running tights, which were $50.

When I saw these particular leggings online, I wanted them badly. They aren't specifically running tights, but I thought they would be so much fun to wear at a race! I was not thrilled about the hefty price tag, however. They were $75 AUD (which is about $78 USD). I didn't buy them because I just couldn't justify spending that much on a silly pair of leggings.

But every once in a while, I would go to the website and look at them some more, and even went as far as to put them in my cart; but I just couldn't put the payment info in. Jerry told me, "Why don't you reward yourself with those? Pick a goal and use the pants for a reward..." So I said, "Okay, when I get back in the 130's, I will buy these leggings."

Well, 139 came and went a while ago, but I still felt horribly guilty. But last week, I finally bit the bullet and bought them. And today, they showed up on my doorstep!
Aren't they awesome?! They look so realistic, and I think they will be super fun to wear to a race. I cannot believe I spent $78 on them, but it does make counting PointsPlus for the past couple of months in order to get my weight back down worth it. At least I feel like I've earned them!

They're super comfy (very stretchy and soft), but they require waaaay more care than anything else I've ever bought. Look at this care tag:
I'm going to do my best to make them last as long as possible.


After lunch, Jerry and I went Christmas shopping. We spent about two hours at Toys 'R' Us, and we were done! We got ALL of the shopping done for the kids in one go, which was nice. On the way home, we got a vanilla ice cream cone from McDonald's (5 PointsPlus). I was freezing, but I still wanted ice cream, so I just cranked up the heat in the car.

We got our Christmas tree out of my parents' attic, so we're spending the evening putting that up. Well, Jerry is doing the work, and I'm sitting under my electric blanket with Estelle ;)
Jerry is ridiculously into Christmas, and it cracks me up. HE is the one who starts listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies in November. I guess that's a good thing, though, because I'm kind of a grinch--I'm not into Christmas decorations or music or any of that. We balance each other out!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A naked egg

I actually slept in until 8:00 this morning! It was so nice, considering I've been getting up before 5:00 every day (not by choice). But I was SO warm and cozy underneath my electric blanket that I really didn't want to get up and run in the sub-30 degree temp outside!

I really did consider skipping my run today, but I didn't have a "real" reason to skip--just pure laziness--so I went ahead and did it anyway, of course. I was scheduled for 4.5 miles at an easy pace, so I did my latest favorite out-and-back route.

There was a little bit of snow on the ground in patches--I don't know if I'm ready to be running in snow yet! I feel like it went from summer to winter, completely skipping over fall. I listened to Jillian Michaels' podcast while I ran today--I've actually gotten behind on it, because I've been catching up on Half Size Me.

I have to say, I'm very excited that Jillian is going to be on The Biggest Loser again (at least for one season). I really disliked her when she was on the show before, but then after she quit, I somehow started listening to her podcast. And now I really like her!

The 4.5 miles actually went by pretty quickly, and I was back in the warm house in no time.
When I walked in, I could smell something kind of funky. It was (yet another) failed attempt at steel cut oats. I'm getting really good at this--trying a new method to cook them, and then finding out that it didn't work ;) This time, I tried this method for cooking them--you put them in a casserole dish, and place the whole dish inside of the crock pot, and then put water bath around the casserole dish. Cook on low overnight. So that's what I did, and this time, I skipped adding the sugar so it wouldn't burn.

Well, the sugar in the milk burned. So it turned a caramel-like color, which sounds really nice--but it tasted burnt. And the texture was very gummy, which I didn't like. Oh well, it was worth a try.
Water-bath-in-a-crock-pot fail

So far, the only successful attempts have been on the stove, really low heat for a long time. I don't mind cooking them this way, but I'm just frustrated that I can't cook them all the other ways that people seem to have luck! There is one more method I'm going to give a try, where you add boiling water and then cover it overnight, and finish cooking it in the morning.

This whole steel cut oats thing has become a game to me--see how many ways I can screw up the oats! ;)

Yesterday, Eli and I decided to try out an experiment that I came across on Pinterest to make a "naked egg". We put two raw eggs (still in the shell) in a glass full of vinegar. Then we let it set all night. And today, we took the eggs out. They felt very squishy, and then when we rubbed them gently, the shells rubbed right off--they had turned into a powdery substance. When we'd rubbed all the shell off, this is what we were left with:
It's still a totally raw egg--it's just being held together by the membrane part. Eli held the first one and squished it too hard, and it broke all over his shirt. It was an interesting experiment, but also kind of useless ;)

Jerry is off work tomorrow, and I'm super excited. We've been so busy lately that I feel like I haven't spent any quality time with him. While the boys are in school, we're going to do a little Christmas shopping. And we talked about possibly going to La Pita for lunch! Although I'm not sure if we'll end up doing that or not, since it's so far away.

I cannot believe that it's almost Christmas already. Everything is going so fast right now! We are going on a little three-day trip with my parents, sister and her husband, and my brothers in a few weeks. We decided to do this trip together instead of exchanging gifts this year, which I think is an awesome idea.

After our trip, we have Christmas, and then my best friend Sarah is coming to town from Arizona. Then New Year's, and THEN--The Ragnar Relay!! I won't remind you how excited I am for that ;)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A run with Steph

This morning, I had plans to meet Stephanie at 7:00 at the Metropark for a run. This was a step-back week for me (mileage was cut down a little), so I had six miles on the schedule for my long run. Stephanie said she ran five last week, so six would be a good distance for her, too.

I got dressed as quietly as possible, so I wouldn't wake up the kids, and then I left. It was a cold morning, but not as bad as I was expecting it to be. I got to the Metropark right at 7:00, and it was still pretty dark outside. Steph was already there, so we started running the three-mile path as an out-and-back route.

It was so nice to have the company! The miles flew by, and before I knew it, we were back at the car.


I really ought to burn that jacket. It's SO unflattering, yet I continue to wear it.

I chatted a little with Stephanie about maintenance--because she's a rock star at it! She has been doing awesome at maintaining her goal weight, and she said that she still counts PointsPlus every single day. I have a feeling I'm going to have to continue to count for a long time, if not indefinitely to maintain my goal. I'm really good at yo-yo-ing between 135 and 155; unfortunately, that isn't the ideal maintenance plan ;)

I headed back home for a busy morning. My kids were invited to a birthday party today, and we didn't get the invitation until Wednesday evening. Thursday was Thanksgiving, and I certainly wasn't going out on Black Friday to buy a gift, so as of this morning, I still didn't have a gift for the birthday boy.

When I got home, I showered quickly, ate breakfast (thankfully I still had a bowl of the steel cut oats in the fridge), got the kids ready for the party, and then we left early so that we could go to the store to buy a gift. I had asked the birthday boy's mom what he was into, and she said Legos, so that was easy enough. The kids picked out a Lego set, and I wrapped it in the car.

While the boys were at the party, I went to Meijer to browse around and kill some time, as well as pick up a few groceries. By the time I picked up the kids from the party, I was starving. As soon as I got home, I heated up a can of soup to scarf down for lunch.

I finally figured out something to sew yesterday--a cute cover for my Weight Watchers 3-Month Journal. I used my "before" jeans for the outside of it, and I made it using the same techniques that I used for the tea wallets I made. It was kind of difficult working with so many layers of fabric, including denim, but I managed, and I think it turned out cute!
I should have put a strap to snap it shut, but
didn't think of that until I was done.
Outside
I put a pocket on each inner side (that's my weigh-in booklet in the left pocket). The WW 3-Month Journal is a book to keep track of your PointsPlus for three months, as opposed to using the one-week paper journals. I have so many of these things, all filled out! My first big goal when I started losing weight was to get through an entire book without bingeing. This current one is almost done, too--and binge-free :)


Tonight, I am trying to come up with an idea to do with these:
Those are the back pockets of a bunch of jeans that I used for my quilt when I was losing weight. I saved them, knowing I could find some way to re-purpose them, but I haven't come across any ideas that really stand out to me so far. We'll see :)

The best part about getting crafty in the evenings is that it completely takes my mind off of food. I spent the entire evening working on that journal cover, and didn't want to stop until it was done--so I didn't even pause to think of food between dinner and my bedtime wine and chocolate!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving went well yesterday, and I stuck to my plan. In the morning, I had a four mile run at race pace (9:00/mi) scheduled. It was rough. As soon as I started running my legs felt heavy and just kind of uncoordinated. That goes to show that there are good days and bad days when it comes to running.

I still managed a good pace, however.
Four miles in just shy of 35 minutes. I'm confident that I can hit my sub-55:00 goal for a 10K if I race one. I've registered for a 5K on December 9th--so hopefully I can run that sub-26 and retire from 5K's :)  Not really--I'm starting to like short and fast, so maybe I'll continue to try to improve my 5K time!

In the afternoon, I went to my parents' house for dinner. My little brother Nathan was there too, with Baily (his dog). My mom made turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, corn, rolls, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy; and pumpkin pie for dessert. Like I mentioned, I'm not a huge "Thanksgiving dinner person", so I planned on just having some turkey and sweet potatoes.

Before I left my house, I nuked a sweet potato and added some Stevia, and decided to have that instead of my mom's sweet potato casserole. Her casserole is SO good that I don't know if I could have stopped with a little. So I ended up having some turkey with gravy, the sweet potato, and a couple tablespoons of cranberry sauce for dinner. For dessert, I brought over Pumpkin Fluff, a recipe that I got at the Weight Watchers meeting I went to on Wednesday.
It tastes like pumpkin pie, just in mousse-form. It was good! (I also posted another recipe today for "Chicken 'n' Noodles"--I made it for dinner, and it was really good! Even though I used chicken, it'd be a great use for leftover turkey).

I was cracking up at Estelle when I was making the pumpkin fluff. The cats always come running when they hear me open a can in the kitchen, and Estelle heard me open the pumpkin. She was circling my ankles and meowing, thinking that I had a can of food for her. I said, "Estelle, it's not for you, dummy!" and I held out a spoonful of the pumpkin for her to smell, so she would leave me alone.

Well, she went nuts for it. She ate it all off the spoon, so I gave her a little bowl of the leftover pumpkin, and she ate all of that, too! It was so funny, because even when I give her some canned food, she only gives it a few licks and then she's done with it. I've never seen her go so crazy for food as she did with the pumpkin!
The other cats all swarmed around me, demanding their food, too. When I let them sniff what Estelle was eating, they gave me a look like, "Oh, yeah, like I really want THAT."

Last night, I was so completely bored that I went to bed at 8:30--and without my nightly wine! Usually, after the kids are in bed, I'll watch a show on TV and have a glass of wine and a Dove Promise. Last night, there was nothing on TV, and I just felt so incredibly bored that I went to bed. (I really wanted to eat my boredom away, but figured sleeping would be better).

Today would have been my long run, but I took today off because I made plans to run with Stephanie early tomorrow morning at the Metropark. I haven't run with a partner in a while, so I'm looking forward to it! It's going to be very cold, in the mid-20's, but we're only running six miles.

Today, I cleaned the heck out of the laundry room, and then scoured Pinterest for some sewing ideas. I desperately want to get crafty with my sewing machine, but can't figure out what I want to make. If you haven't checked out yesterday's crafty post, make sure you do!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Handmade items from RfC readers

I've been really excited to share this post! And since tomorrow is the biggest shopping day of the year, what better time to post this? There are some very talented Runs for Cookies readers out there, and I wanted to let them share their handmade items/home-based businesses. Handmade items make fantastic gifts, because they are always one-of-a-kind. They are usually a little more expensive than you would find in a big store, but the love, care, and time that goes into making these things make them totally worth the money. I hope you enjoy browsing these websites and designs as much as I have!




I'm Sarah, and I make handmade quilts from your favorite t-shirts. These quilts are perfect to keep your memories close and keep you warm, whether it be shirts from your favorite races, t-shirts from school or sports. I have also made several memory quilts with pieces of clothing from a passed loved one.

My quilts are not like traditional t-shirt quilts made by piecing the same size blocks together in rows. I custom cut each shirt in multiple sizes and piece my quilts like a puzzle. I take pride in delivering the best quilt possible - something my customers can be proud to show to friends, family and co-workers and eager to use. You can find details on my website, and check me out on Facebook as well.



Hi all!  My name is Lindsey, and I make fused glass art and gifts in my tiny home studio in Boulder, Colorado.

Working with glass was a hobby for years, and when we moved for my fiancĂ©'s work, I found myself jobless and friendless in a strange new place.  I used my free time to start an Etsy store and practice my craft, and was so surprised when I had my first sale!

I strive to keep my glass business zero-waste, melting even the tiniest of scraps into cute stud earrings, and reusing shipping materials.  I am grateful for the opportunity to share my art with others, and hope each piece brings its new owner the joy I felt while creating it! You can find my designs in my Etsy store, Boulder Design.



Hi, I'm Helen from Vancouver, BC Canada. My little home business Juicybath Soapworks started out as a creative hobby. I had so much fun with it that a few years back I decided to start offering my soap for sale. I have an online shop and I also sell my soap at a few local holiday craft fairs each year.

I make soap from vegetable oils, like olive, palm, coconut and castor. My Oh Baby! line of soaps are 95% olive oil with goat milk. It is a super-gentle soap that's perfect for babies or for problem skin. My regular line of soaps are made with a balanced blend of veggie oils. They are super bubbly with thick, luxurious lather. You'll never go back to commercially made bars or body wash once you have tried handmade soap!

Please visit and Like my shop's Facebook page to see more new product photos.

I'm offering a special coupon code to Katie's blog readers for a limited time. Enter the code  AL6N92  with any order of 3 or more soaps from my online shop before November 30th and get one FREE bar of Oh Baby! Unscented Olive Oil & Goat Milk. Just in time to stock up for holiday gifts! (Free samples are included in every order, too!)



Hi, my name is Liz and I have a little Etsy shop called September Lane.  I started my shop as a way to take my mind off food and weight loss, no joke.  I found that by keeping myself busy and interested in other things I’ve had an easier time staying focused on a healthy lifestyle.  It has worked so far because I have lost 35 pounds with 25 more to go!  I am trying to set a good example for my five boys by showing them that being healthy and productive is a better life.
September Lane is a shop that is all about adding just the right touch to your home, embellishing a gift for a special friend, and creating a keepsake that you will enjoy for years to come.  Everything from September Lane is lovingly handmade and created for your delight.  I have items such as personalized clay eggs in a nest, fun and useful magnets, unique name place holders, decorative clay balls, and personal gift tags.  I hope you find something you like!


I'm Ellen, and I've always had a desire to run my own business.  After college I ventured into many creative jobs:  Mural painter.  Illustrator. Furniture Painter.  Eventually I fell into private home care and that is where I remained for over a decade.

As a result of unforeseen circumstances, my self employment had to come to a close in May of 2012 and at the same time I found myself in need of major surgery.

With a recovery time of 6+ weeks, I found myself inactive for the first time in years.  Thankfully, I had my personal blog to keep me connected to the things and people I cared about, but I also realized that my recovery time was precious; I didn't want to squander it.

My convalescence, at first seen as a hindrance, ended up leading me back to my original love: art.  Once again, the six year old within me began working fast and furious, and my shop on Etsy, Ellen Brenneman Studios, was born.



My name is Jessica and I'm a ceramic artist, graphic designer, and love to experiment with everything in between. I have a love of printing and have a new Etsy shop that I'd like to share with everyone.

I've started with single color black ink prints on a warm, earthy brown card stock. Please come have a look at my hand-carved, hand-printed stationary and be aware that I will be uploading new designs weekly, so check back often!

You can find my designs at Paper Planes & Mud Pies on Etsy.




My name is Misty, and I live in the piney woods of northeast Texas.  It's about an hour drive from Shreveport, Louisiana, and about two hours from Dallas.  All my life I have had a love affair with baking.  (Baking - not cooking - I can bake a cake or make a fabulous creme brulee, but I burn Hamburger Helper every time! My poor husband exists on a diet of mostly cakes, pies, and cookies!)  It started about age 6...I can remember baking my first cake.  Then about age ten I remember setting the oven on fire and learning what a timer was for.

Over the years, thankfully I've gotten much better at my craft! Once I reached high school, friends and family always assumed I would bring the cake when inviting me to showers, birthday parties, etc. And after a while word got out, and about two years ago I decided to set up a website, post some photos, and get busy!  Boy did I ever get busy!  I love what I do, and learning new techniques and tricks.  I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world. You can find me on my website, and also on Facebook.



I still remember my first glitter nail polish. It was 1986 and I was 6 years old. That year my mom made me a Rainbow Bright costume and we were at a Halloween costume store looking for some accessories. I came across a bottle of purple glitter nail polish and begged my parents to buy it for me. They gave in and my love of glitter began.

My name is Jennifer and I am a 31 year old with a not-so-exciting job that allows me to work from home full time. Since most days I don't dress up and put on a full face of make-up I've found that nail polish is an easy low maintenance way to still feel fun and dressed up. I started looking for some super chunky glitter nail polish and after being super disappointed at what I found in the stores, I decided to learn to make my own.

After lots of trial and error I finally came up with the perfect blend of base and found just the right kind of glitter. People started taking notice and asking if I would be willing to sell them the polish and make them their own custom mixture. From there Viva La Glitter was born. Each bottle is jam packed with an assortment of glitter in different shapes, sizes and colors. Custom polishes upon request. Remember: You can never have too much glitter!! I'm hoping that I can bring that same joy to everyone else who wears my polishes.




Hello, everyone. My name is Angelina and I am the owner of Race Junkie Tutus. I started running about a  year ago and it changed my life forever. I was at a low point in my life in regards to my weight and decided to do something about it. I started running. I instantly loved how strong I felt and the way running was transforming my body and washing away all my stress. After a few weeks of running and feeling good about the results, I decided that I needed to challenge myself even further. I signed up for my first 5K Run. I remembering looking around and seeing all the runners. Most were dressed in your basic black and white gear. But the ones who stood out the most, and seemed to have the best energy about them, were the ones with festive costumes and colorful running apparel. Well I was dressed in the basic black and white and blended in with everyone else. When I looked at all the photos after the event, I had trouble finding myself anywhere. However, the runners I saw crossing the finish lines in costumes, hats, and colorful knee high socks, not only looked really happy, but they were easy to spot! 

  After that I decided to design my own Custom Made Tutus and run my next few races in them. I began to instantly get noticed and stood out from the hordes of people dressed in black and white. I guess you can say that’s when a light bulb came on and I decided  to make Tutu's for more runners like me... Race Junkies! I went home and made some samples of my best Tutu designs and opened a home based Etsy shop. The response has been great. I really enjoy working with my customers and helping them design their dream Race Tutu. I can honestly say one my greatest joys is being able to read the excitement from my customers once they open the box and post pictures and compliments via my Facebook page. I remember being a kid and my parents saying to me that 'The real gift at Christmas was watching me open my gifts”. It made zero sense to me then, but I get it now. And besides, shouldn’t every runner look and feel as good as they could when they cross the finish line? Yes, they should.

When I design my Tutus I make sure they are fully handcrafted from American made products. Each Tutu is custom made to fit the individual wearing it and tied in such a way as to not only be big and fluffy, but also super durable. Personally, I think a tutu is perfect for any occasion! I have worn them running, cycling, dancing, and just around the house for fun. For me wearing a tutu to an event just makes sense. We all train hard and its our time to shine, so why not shine in style!

Note: Angelina is offering a discount for Runs for Cookies readers! To get 12% off, use the code COOKIES. 





I'm Mandee, and I make hand sculpted, hand painted polymer clay jewelry. I have lovely sugar skull pendants as well as adorable kawaii-style jewelry.

Everything is handmade with lots of love and attention to detail.You can find my items in my Etsy shop, Killer Kawaii Designs.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Steel cut oats failures

You know what time I woke up this morning? 4:45.

FOUR FORTY-FIVE.

My kids spent the night with my parents, Jerry was at work, I didn't have a run on the schedule, so it was the PERFECT morning for sleeping in. And I was wide awake at 4:45. This insomnia I've had lately has got to go.

Anyway, today is Wednesday--my weigh-in day :) I was pleased with the scale this morning:
135.5... so I am just 2.5 pounds away from my goal weight! I used every available PointsPlus this week, too. ALL of my daily points, ALL of my 49 weekly points, and ALL of my 27 earned activity points.


Yesterday, I had a really big craving for steel cut oats for dinner--which is very strange, because I never eat steel cut oats! So I made a big pot of them for dinner, being careful not to ruin them like I usually do, and Jerry and I each ate it. I thought they tasted funny, and especially smelled weird (kind of like cardboard), but I figured that's how they were supposed to taste/smell.

I had used the last of them, and when I went to Kroger for grapes, I also bought some more steel cut oats. Last night, I opened the new oats to smell them, just to see if they were, in fact, supposed to smell like cardboard. And no, they smelled very nutty and fresh. I'm guessing the ones we ate for dinner were at least three years old, if not older. Blech!

Since I had screwed that up, I was still craving a good bowl of the oats. So I put them in the crock pot to cook overnight. (Let me just preface this by saying that the reason I never eat steel cut oats is because I cannot, for the LIFE of me, cook them--they either burn, or boil over, or undercook, or I use oats that are 3+ years old). Here are a couple of past attempts:
Microwave fail

Stove top fail
At 5:00 in the morning, way earlier than I should have been awake or eating, I went to check on the oats--and they were burned to the side of the crock pot! I tasted them, and they tasted very burnt, surely because I put the sugar in to cook with them, rather than wait until after they were cooked. Awesome. Burnt sugar tastes great.
Crock pot fail
I threw those out, and decided to make them in a pot on the stove like I had last night, since it was so God-blessed early and I certainly had the time. I put everything in the pot, and went in the living room to watch some TV while I waited. Totally forgot to reduce the heat, and they looked like this about 10 minutes later:
Yum!
I was SO frustrated. Why can't a girl just have a frickin' bowl of steel cut oatmeal at 5 in the morning?!

I gave it one last chance. I put the stuff in the pot (the bag was nearly empty already, and I had just bought it), and set the heat to LOW so that I couldn't overcook it. I set the timer every 5 minutes to check and stir. Announced on Twitter that this was my final attempt. And finally, FINALLY--at 7:00, I had a nice bowl of oatmeal. Actually, four bowls--three for the fridge and one for my belly.
Finally, I felt satisfied. The oats were delicious, and super creamy. I used 1 cup oats, 2 cups water, 2 cups milk, and a pinch of salt. Then I added 1/4 cup of brown sugar to the whole pot after it was done. At four bowls, that totaled 6 PointsPlus per bowl. I learned that low and slow on the stove, checking constantly, is the way to go when it comes to steel cut oats. I'm glad it only took me 218 tries to figure that out.


Today I went to my "first" Weight Watchers meeting. I put that in quotes because I've been to plenty of meetings in my lifetime, but this was the first in a very long time. I wore really heavy clothing, boots, and drank a ton of water before I left. I want my WW goal weight to be 143 (that's with clothes--at home, for my weigh-ins, I weigh naked). Which means I'd have to start at 148 in order to lose 5 pounds and reach goal. At the meeting, I weighed in at exactly 148 with all of my heavy stuff on. (I could have avoided all this math if I didn't have to wait so long for a new 12-week session through Jerry's work).

Anyway, I was SO nervous when I went in there that I felt like I was going to poop vomit. They had me sign in, and my hand was shaking so badly that I couldn't even read my signature. I sat down and there was another girl in there, who was probably a little younger than me, and she started chatting with me. That made me feel much less awkward. I'm terrible at small talk, and don't usually say anything until people talk to me first--and I guess that comes across as snobby. But she was easy to talk to.

Then the leader came in, and she was really nice. There were only four of us in the meeting, and I liked that it was small. We talked about Thanksgiving plans, and how to get through dinner without getting completely off track. I established myself as a total lush when the leader asked us to guess how many PointsPlus were in certain items--and the first one was a 5 oz. glass of wine. I got a little eager and said, "Four!" right away, because DUH, wine is my beverage of choice I am a total lush I drink a glass of wine every night. I knew the answers to all of them, but stopped answering because I had wine on my mind nobody likes a know-it-all.

I didn't say this at the meeting, because wine! I didn't want to seem like that girl... but Thanksgiving isn't difficult for me. I don't care much for turkey, or mashed potatoes, or any of the usual turkey dinner stuff. The only thing that I absolutely LOVE is my mom's sweet potato casserole--no doubt because it has multiple sticks of butter and tons of brown sugar. So tomorrow, I'll probably have a couple ounces of white meat turkey, 1/2 cup of sweet potato casserole, and a piece of pie.

Have a great Thanksgiving, and a safe Black Friday (I'm staying in--I'm not brave enough to do that)!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On starting to run, and running faster

Yesterday and today were very hard days for me! I felt like I was constantly fighting a binge, and it was making me crazy. I managed not to binge, but I wanted to figure out what was going on so that I could stop the urge. I thought about the past couple of days, and then it was glaringly obvious: I didn't have any grapes in the house, and I was trying not to buy more because they're SO expensive right now.

I ran out of grapes a couple of days ago, and decided to try having other fruit instead--namely, apples. I missed the grapes very much, but figured I would live without them ;)  But apparently, the grapes are the magical food I need to keep me from bingeing!

After dinner, I went to Kroger and bought three bags of the rare diamonds grapes at $2.49/lb. Jerry told me, "I don't care if they're $20 a pound, they help you stay on track--get them!" Came home, ate a bowl of them, and instantly felt a million times better. Urge to binge? Gone.

As of today, I am 73 days binge-free :)


Today I had three miles at an easy pace on the schedule. I brought my new handheld water bottle with me, just to see how it feels in my hand while running. I was tempted to fill it with hot tea to keep me warm out there--it was a cold morning!

I ran at a pace that felt comfortable, and didn't look at my Garmin the entire time. I was impressed with the water bottle--it wasn't annoying to hold at all, and it didn't feel heavy. I think if it held any more water it would feel heavy, but at 10.5 oz., it was perfect. It was easy to open the spout with my teeth (there is a soft cushion on the spout, so you don't break your teeth), and easy to push closed. I'm very happy with the bottle, which is good, because I couldn't find any info about returns on the website (I checked before ordering).
I've been asked quite a bit recently about getting faster, and what kind of plan I'm following to accomplish that. I definitely have some thoughts on it. Everything I'm about to write is completely from my own experience, and we all know that I'm not a professional; so if you're looking for "real" advice on getting faster, I would contact a running coach. But I will share what worked for me, and what I think of it.

When I first started running, I didn't know anything at all about interval training, tempo runs, splits, fartleks, or even the number of meters on a track. Basically, I just wanted to be able to run a 5K race, which I learned was 3.1 miles. So I started by walking, and then throwing in a little running. You can read the whole story on my running page. The Couch to 5K program was too hard for me, so I did my own thing.

By doing my own thing, I was able to reach a 5K distance pretty quickly (within a couple of months). Once I was able to run 5K, I wanted to get faster. And like I said, I knew nothing about speed work, so I (again) did my own thing:

I ran faster.

I learned that to be a faster runner, I had to run faster. Is that clear as mud? Good. Basically, I ran 3.1 miles three times per week; and each time I ran it, I tried to run it a little faster than the time before.

That's it!

I didn't do intervals, I didn't run repeats on the track, I didn't do tempo runs, or any of that. I just tried to run a little faster each time, since I was running the same distance each time.

Fast forward a year, after I'd been studying up on running and reading everything I could get my hands on, I decided to try to PR at 10K by following a real running plan, and doing all the speed work on the plan. I followed it to the tee, and was sure I was going to PR that race. Then I ran the race, and missed a PR by about 11 seconds. I couldn't understand it, because I actually trained for a PR.
The race I busted my ass for, but didn't PR :(
This whole past year was spent marathon training, and speed work went right out the window. I was just trying to make it through the uber-long runs, and didn't have the energy to try and get faster. After the marathon, I put together Hal Higdon's running plan with recommended training paces, and decided to follow it to hopefully get faster.

However, I was so excited to be running shorter distances, that I decided to push the envelope, and just run fast--not paying attention to what the "recommended" paces were. And I went back to the basics of when I was a beginner, just running to try and get faster. I started running every run faster, in order to be faster. I've been running faster than my recommended paces, but it's working really well! I've seen HUGE improvements on my pace in just a month's time.
My sub-26 goal for 5K after 2 1/2 years of trying!
So, while a real running coach would tell me to do intervals at x:xx pace for y distance, and a tempo run at a another carefully calculated pace, etc., I've learned that my body does best when I do things my way. To get faster, I've simply been running faster. Pushing myself a little, and sometimes a lot, and then seeing the results.

But what about injury? I've always read that if you push too much, you'll get injured. Well, the only times I've been injured were during marathon training, when I was running slowly, over long distances. Now that I'm doing shorter distances, I think my body can handle the fact that I'm running faster.

So my (unqualified) advice for a beginner would be to pick a distance (even if it's just once a week) to try and run it a little faster than you did before.


Since I'm on the subject of how I got into running, I typed out a generalized plan of exactly how I started running. I hated running at first, and I especially hated the C25K program because of the intervals. After running for a minute or two, I would start the walking segment and DREAD hearing the beep of my Garmin telling me to start running again. So I did my own thing, and this plan that I typed out is pretty much what I did:

You can click it to enlarge, or here is a link to the PDF for printing, if that helps. The R is for Run, and the W is for Walk. The numbers are minutes:seconds. So on Day 1, you would run for 30 seconds, then walk for 29 minutes and 30 seconds. Sounds ridiculous, but it worked for me!

I think the reason that this was helpful to me was that I could just run for x amount of time, then walk and be done. I didn't have to run, walk, run, walk, etc. Mentally, I just said, "Okay, you just have to run for two minutes--you can do ANYTHING for just two minutes. After that two minutes, you can walk the rest of the way." That is how I stuck with it.
The first few weeks progressed really slowly (on the first day, I ran about 30 seconds at a 14ish minute mile pace). But then as I was able to run farther, I was able to progress much faster. Going from one minute to two minutes is a much bigger deal than going from 24 minutes to 28 minutes, because you're literally doubling your running time when you jump from 1 to 2 minutes. I hope I'm explaining this well ;)

Anyway, this kind of plan worked for me, so maybe it will help someone else as well. Feel free to use it how you wish. One thing that I can't stress enough is that if it feels too hard, just run even slower. You might be able to walk faster than your running pace, but you can work on speed after you've built up the distance.

I posted this stuff now, because I have some plans in my head to host a virtual 5K at the end of January--my 31st birthday is on January 25th, and I thought for 31, how fun would be to host a 3.1 mile run? ;) I will post details on that later (once I figure them out) but this way, if you'd like to participate, you have time to prepare!

Whew, this was a long post!