January 31, 2012

Real groceries

Eli stayed home from school again today. Last night, I talked to his doctor on the phone (his "regular" pediatrician that I really like; he had to see someone else when he went in yesterday because it was a last-minute appt). The doctor told me that his ck (creatine kinase) levels were slightly elevated, which is what is causing the leg pain. He said the elevated ck level was due to a virus (flu).

It's just scary to see him unable to walk! He tries to, and sometimes he'll forget that it hurts--so I see him try to jump up and then he just falls because his legs hurt too badly to walk. Jessica told me today that this happened to her son when he was three. She said it was a few days before he could walk, but he had to get an IV in the hospital for fluids.

I'm going to keep him home probably for the rest of the week. I'm supposed to run with Jessica in the morning. Jerry is working nights, so I'll just have him stay awake until I get home in the morning from our run. We're just doing three miles of intervals.

This morning, I went grocery shopping for some "real foods". And just to clear things up, I am not doing a cleanse, or a fast, or eating "raw", or anything like that. Just good ol' REAL food for a month. While shopping today, I discovered a few things that I'm going to miss that I wasn't anticipating--salad dressing (I'm *still* on a salad kick! So strange. But I like lots of bottled dressing, and I am going to have to make my own "real" dressing); canned tomatoes (they have preservatives); and chicken broth (I usually use bouillon, because making my own broth is a pain in the ass--not to mention expensive).

I thought it was going to cost a fortune for groceries, but surprisingly, it was cheaper than usual. I spent $86, and that included cat food, plus groceries for Jerry and the kids (stuff I won't be eating).
Today's "real food" load of groceries
FYI, the Kroger brand whole wheat pasta has just ONE ingredient:  100% durum whole wheat flour. I also bought something I've been eye-balling for about a year, but I never buy it because it's $6.99! But today it was on sale for $4.99, so I just had to do it...
Celestial Seasonings has a tea called Sweet Coconut Thai, but I've never been able to find it again (I bought it once at Wal-Mart, and have been looking for it ever since). So when I saw this one, I REALLY wanted to try it, but haven't been able to spend the $7 for 22 sachets. Here is a pic of the Celestial Seasonings tea that I love and miss:
I wish I could find it somewhere!

My house REEKS right now. After reading so much about about "kale chips" that people make, I decided to give it a try. I've never tried kale, and I figured I'd try it out as part of my 30-in-30 list. I bought a bunch of kale today, and I found instructions online for making the chips in a food dehydrator. Well, apparently kale smells like shit. Literally.

I keep thinking that it's the litter box, but when I check, the litter box is clean... and then when I walk by the dehydrator, I get a huge whiff of it. Gross!  Hopefully the smell goes away once they're dehydrated? After they're done, I'm going to toss them with a tiny bit of oil and salt. I don't have high hopes, but I'm going to be open-minded when I try them. :)

January 30, 2012

Real food in February

I've finally decided to challenge myself to something that I've always wanted to try, but have always put off for "another time". Since I mentioned that I wanted to start doing monthly challenges for myself, I'm going to start off with a bang in February--with what could possibly by the most difficult challenge I could pick for myself! ;)

I am going to eat 100% REAL food for an entire month (at least February is the shortest month!)  This isn't a weight loss kind of thing (since I'm trying to maintain my weight now) but more of a "feel good" thing. I want to see what happens to my body when I feed it "real" food. I'm hoping that it will help with my insomnia, my lethargy in the afternoons, and possibly my anxiety and depression.

I'll never know if it will help until I try it, so February is finally the time I'm going to do so!

Now, "real food" means different things to different people, so this is how I will define real food for my purposes:  1) Food as it appears in nature, without added stuff to it; 2) Packaged foods with just one ingredient (e.g. brown rice, natural peanut butter w/o added sugar or oil, pure maple syrup, one-ingredient whole wheat pasta, etc); 3) Homemade foods made from "real" ingredients; 4) meat, fish, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, spices, and other whole foods.

Obviously this is super strict, and I would never commit to living this way forever, but it's something I'd like to try for a month.  It's going to require a lot of planning, and certainly a lot of time for cooking and preparing foods. I plan on writing and sharing my food logs for the whole 29-day challenge adventure.

I think the hardest part of this for me will be that I can't have sugar! I think that's why I've avoided doing this challenge for so long--I love my dessert. I'm going to have to come up with some alternative desserts using honey and maple syrup for sweeteners. I've gotten some food ideas from the 100 Days of Real Food website, and I think that will be a helpful resource.

I'm not going to force my family to do this with me, so I'm sure I'll have temptations. But I'm actually kind of looking forward to doing this! I'll start on Wednesday.

I was surprised how many of you asked about my 30-in-30 list and why Jerry's family hates me. "Hate" is probably a strong word, but they definitely dislike me enough to let it be known. Jerry said that he's always been the "black sheep" of his family, and some of his aunts and uncles really dislike him--and therefore, they dislike me and our kids as well. Some of them were extremely rude to us a few years ago, and I've avoided going to any "family functions" ever since. It's just really uncomfortable to be around people that I know don't like us.  BUT, I really don't want to bring up family drama into my "happy place" of a blog ;)  so let's just let it go! I'm honestly not worried about it at all.

Poor Eli woke up this morning and his legs hurt so badly that he couldn't walk. I thought he was just being dramatic, but I kept him home from school because he still had a low-grade fever yesterday. After a while today, I realized he really wasn't faking the leg pain, and I made a doctor's appointment for him this afternoon.

Jerry just took him to see the doctor, and they tested him for the flu--it came back positive, which didn't surprise me. And the leg pain was actually due to dehydration. She said that he is very dehydrated, even though he hasn't been throwing up.

I'm really going to have to push liquids on him. We have Gatorade, but he doesn't like it. He will only drink water if he's dying of thirst. The only thing I can get him to drink is milk (which he would drink by the gallon if I'd let him) but he has a mild allergy to milk, so I only let him have one cup a day. I'm going to figure out some sort of reward system for him to drink lots of water.

Today was my scheduled long run--and it was only 5 miles. During marathon training, the long runs go up for two weeks, then fall back for a week. So it was 6 miles for week one, then 7 for week two, and now just 5 miles. Then next week it'll be 9!

Because I kept Eli home from school, I couldn't go meet Jessica to run with her, and I ended up having to run on the dreadmill. It felt like the longest run EVER, but I managed to finish the 5 miles.
I did some hills, so it's showing a higher calorie burn than usual, but I did the 5 miles in 49:10. Eli has to stay home tomorrow too, per the doctor's orders, but I don't have a run scheduled.  Maybe I'll have a "movie/pajama day" with Eli.

January 29, 2012

My friends are VERY sneaky...

Yesterday was my monthly Winers meeting, which Rachael was hosting. Amber volunteered to drive, so she picked me up and we rode together. I had decided not to wear my dress, because it was FREEZING last night, so I just wore a sweater and jeans. I almost decided not to go, because Eli was so sick, but Jerry was home with the boys and said they'd be fine.

When we got to Rachael's, I was wondering if we were at the wrong house by mistake, because the house was dark. We walked into her front porch area, and I was peeking in the windows, trying to figure out why I didn't see anyone. Then I saw some people on the stairs inside, so I opened the door to a very loud "Surprise!!" from all my Winers friends!

I was stunned for a minute, trying to figure out what was going on, when I realized that they had turned it into a surprise party for my 30th. I was completely amazed when they told me that Jerry even knew about it, because he wasn't acting suspicious at ALL. Normally, he can't keep a surprise for anything--he gets way too excited, and he always gives it away (even unknowingly). But I had absolutely NO CLUE at all that they were planning this.

They even had 30th party decorations, and a birthday cake; they chose some of my very favorite wines, and my favorite snacks (hello graham crackers with peanut butter and chocolate chips!!):

How awesome is that cake?!

It's the details... ;)

"Warning: 30th birthday party in progress"

Let's not overlook the Black Box!
They put three candles on my cake--one for each decade. That's how you know you're old! haha

The cake was DELICIOUS. Rachael said her husband Dan made it from a box, but it was seriously the best chocolate cake I'd ever had. I couldn't stop raving about it. As Jessica and I were eating hunks of cake, we were talking about how we need to quit eating so much to drop a few pounds that we've gained in the past week, lol. I found it hilarious that we were having the discussion over cake.
All in all, the night was so much fun, and I felt so special. I have some super amazing friends! The night wouldn't be complete without our group photo, of course:
[Special thanks to Stephanie (in blue next to me) for letting me use all of her photos!]

January 28, 2012

My "30 Goals While I'm 30 Years Old" List (30 x 30 List)

Since I turned the big 3-0 on January 25, I decided to make a list of 30 goals to accomplish in my 30th year. Since I only have a year to do these, I'm making them simple--meaning things I can actually DO in just 12 months. If they are too complicated, I'll never get through all of them!

1. Pay off $4,000+ on my credit card.
2. Bare my new tummy in public--at least once (despite being self-conscious of my stretch marks).
3. Read 12 new-to-me books.
    1) Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide
    2) The Swing!
    3) The Wrong Mother
4. Take my kids camping.
5. Attend one of Jerry's family functions (his family hates me, and I avoid going).
6. Go roller skating with my kids.
7. Run a marathon. Ran the Cleveland Rite Aid Marathon in May 2012
8. Take the kids sledding.
9. Visit my grandma's grave.
10.Monetize the blog.  (Just did this on my birthday, and it's working out well so far)
11.Try on everything in my closet and get rid of things I won't wear.
12. Go to church at least three times.
13. Try 30 new recipes.
      1. Quinoa Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce
      2. Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Bread
      3. Whole Wheat Banana Bread
      4. Grown-up Hamburger Helper Mac and Cheese
      5. Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
      6. Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies
14. Stay binge-free for an entire year. (Failed this one quickly)
15. Take Jerry on a surprise date.
16. Weigh-in on the first of every month, staying under 137. (Fail--marathon training was not good for my weight!)
17. Go on a nighttime run. Did this Feb. 2012, you can read about it here.
18. Go to a football game with Jerry.
19. Submit my weight loss story to a magazine. Did this Jan 2012, you can read about it here.
20. Try a new fruit.
21. Try a new vegetable. I tried kale, you can read about it here.
22. Meet a reader of my blog. I met two readers at a race.
23. Have a photo shoot done of my family.
24. De-clutter the house and have a yard sale.
25. Complete one knitting project.
26. Complete one crochet project. I made an iPhone cozy
27. Do something spontaneous when the opportunity presents itself (we'll see what it is!)
28. Get a skin cancer screening.
29. Have my friends over for a bonfire (something we used to do annually, but haven't the past couple of years because of the cost).
30. Run and PR a 5k. I ran the Corktown 5K and PR'ed.

January 28, 2012

A super fun photo shoot

The photo shoot this morning ended up being so much fun!  I loved the photographer (she is the same age as me and it felt like we were old friends). I haven't seen the photos, but I have a feeling I'm going to love them.

So here's the story behind the photo shoot... a journalist who works at a company in L.A. contacted me after his wife saw my before and after photos on Pinterest, and he checked out my website. He asked if I would be interested in his writing a feature story about my weight loss to appear in a magazine--most likely a European magazine in Australia and/or the U.K. He also said they would pay me for my story, which of course I wouldn't turn down ;)

I checked out his company's website (to make sure it was legit) and I looked at a similar story they did. I was happy with it, so I said sure. I gave an interview over the phone, and I sent them a bunch of photos. Then they scheduled a photo shoot to get some good "after" photos.

They told me to wear a form-fitting dress and heels, so that is why I bought a new dress the other day (I didn't want to wear the same one that I wore on Dr. Oz). It sounds like the story is really going to focus on my love of cookies and how I didn't have to give them up to lose weight--so they asked me to make a batch of cookies to use in the photos.

The photographer (Juliet) came over this morning and spent a couple of hours taking pictures--mainly in my kitchen. We did all kinds of fun poses--lots with the cookies, some with my old jeans, a couple on the dreadmill in my dress and heels ;)  and some others. I'm super excited to see how they turned out!  But since so many of you asked, here is a picture of the dress I ended up wearing:
Express dress--reg. $99, sale for $25
I REALLY hope that they'll let me post the photos once the story is published, but I don't know yet. Juliet is going to find out what the deal is and let me know. Since a lot of the photos had cookies as a prop, I think they'd be perfect for my blog.
My "prop" oatmeal cookies
One of my goals on my 30-in-30 list was to submit my story to a magazine, so I guess I can cross that one off the list!  Which reminds me, I need to post my 30-in-30 list. I'll post it right after this in it's own separate blog post.

Tonight is my monthly Winers meeting, and Amber is going to pick me up at 7:45 for that. I'm thinking of wearing my dress, even though I'll be WAY overdressed for Winers. I'm just not used to dressing up, and it's so fun!

January 27, 2012

A torture device

I was so looking forward to sleeping in this morning since my kids spent the night at my parents' house and I didn't have to BE anywhere. I even took a sleeping pill last night so that I could sleep through the night. Then at 7:10 this morning, the phone rang. Sigh.

It was Noah, and he just wanted to tell us that him and Eli were eating breakfast at Cracker Barrel before school with my mom. Of course I couldn't go back to sleep then, so I got up and procrastinated my run. I only had a 3-miler on the schedule, but it was VERY slushy outside. I ultimately decided to run on the dreadmill instead.

I finished my 3 miles and then took a shower. While I was getting dressed, I was flipping through my Runner's World magazine and I found this quote, which made me laugh (because it's totally true):

During the run, I did a few sprints at a 7:30/mi pace for 60 seconds each--and I kept thinking about how, on The Biggest Loser, that woman (forget her name) asked Dolvett if he'd ever given birth. Hahaha, I realized that when I run sprints, I always pick a focal point (like she talked about) and I focus on my breathing and just getting it done. I'll never be able to do that again without thinking of that woman asking Dolvett if he'd ever given birth.

Jerry and I worked on cleaning the house, and then I got into "project" mode. I went to Lowe's for one simple thing (an outlet plate) and ended up spending $360. I bought new blinds for the living room, which we have desperately needed for about six years. I was horribly embarrassed of the blinds that we had, because they were torn up from when we had Oliver (our dog) and from the kids pulling on them, and the cats messing with them. Here is what they looked like before:
 Terrible, right?! So while I was at Lowe's, I ended up getting new ones that look a million times better:
I also got new vertical blinds for the sliding glass door in the kitchen--they look just like the ones pictured above, only they are vertical.  I got a new thermostat for our furnace, which we've needed for a while. Plus some other boring stuff that we've needed for a very long time, but keep putting off.

While Jerry was bringing the blinds into the house, Phoebe snuck outside. Apparently, she thought it was too cold and she wanted back in. We were cleaning in the kitchen when we noticed she was looking for someone to rescue her from the cold:

This is when she spotted me taking pictures, lol
Jessica came over and brought me some jewelry to wear tomorrow for the photo shoot. The photographer called today to confirm, and she'll be here at 10:00 tomorrow morning. It sounded like she'll mainly be shooting in the kitchen. I'll have Jerry take a picture of me in the dress tomorrow so you can at least see an amateur photo ;)

The school nurse called today and had us pick up Eli from school early because his belly was hurting. I think he might have the stomach flu. He's been achy and moaning about his stomach all afternoon and evening, and he has a low-grade fever. I feel so bad when he complains about his stomach hurting, because there is nothing I can do. Of course this means he gets to skip his swimming lesson tomorrow morning, which he'll be thrilled about.

Well, I still have a lot to get done, so I better get to it!

January 26, 2012

My Victoria's Not-So-Secret Purchase

I got up bright and early today to get ready for my doctor's appointment. Remember how I mentioned that I had a little pucker of skin where my drain tube was after surgery? The skin kind of folded a little while it healed, so Dr. Tepper wanted to fix that with a simple, in-office procedure.

Since I was going to be in Dearborn anyway, I asked Jessica and Renee if they'd want to come with me and then we could go out to lunch at none other than LA PITA--yum!  I drove up there and then gave them my Jeep to go to the mall or out for coffee or something while I had my appointment.

Renee suggested martinis at La Pita, and I was definitely on board with that idea, since I'd never had one before. We each had a dirty martini to start:

I was very surprised that I drank the entire martini. I really thought I would hate it, because I'm not a liquor person at all--but I rather liked it!

Then we had warm pita bread with lots of garlic sauce, and then our entrees of a chicken kabob, rice pilaf, salad, hummus, and more garlic sauce. I was in Heaven! I tried to take a picture for you all, but as I've mentioned before... THIS is why I'm no food blogger:

See that little black ramekin with white stuff in it? That is the garlic sauce, and is my sole reason for living favorite part about La Pita!

And since I got a free birthday dessert, I definitely couldn't pass that up--we shared a piece of carrot cake. It was amazing, despite the fact that I was stuffed from the rest of my lunch.

My doctor's appointment went very well. They had a room that was like a mini-OR set up, and I had to lie on the table. The nurse gave me a heated blanket to cover with--love those things! Dr. Tepper gave me a local injection to numb me, so I didn't feel anything. It was very strange to watch her work though--using a scalpel and stitches and all the surgical stuff. I could feel some tugging, but no pain. The stitches she used are internal and will dissolve, so the scar looks just like it did before, only without the pucker.

After my appointment was over, Renee and Jessica picked me up and we went to the mall. They both agreed that the dress I picked out yesterday made me look old--lol, I'm so glad that I have friends that are honest!--so they had found a couple that they liked while I was at my appointment. I tried on one at Forever 21 and it was WAY.TOO.SHORT. Like, you could see my you-know-what if I bend over kind of short.

We went to Victoria's Secret next, which as you all know, I was excited to buy something cute/sexy with my gift cards. I tried on about five things, but I really fell in love with the one I ended up buying. And since there is no way in hell I would ever post a photo of me wearing it, I'll show you what it looks like on the hanger ;)
Super cute, right? And of course it was super expensive, so not only did I have to use both my gift cards, but all the rest of my birthday money as well. Ah, the things we do to feel sexy ;)

After that, we went to Express so I could try on the other dress that Renee and Jessica picked out. I loved it!! I'm a little self-conscious of it because it's strapless, and my arms have a lot of excess skin, but I can wear a shrug with it if needed. Maybe I'll post a photo on Saturday. I think I might wear it to Winers Saturday night, just for fun.

Came home and really wanted to just lie down and digest my food, but I've got a lot of cleaning to do. The kids are spending the night at my parents' house tonight, and Jerry is off work tomorrow, so we're going to be spending the day working on the house. Fun, fun, fun.

January 25, 2012

The big 3-0

Well, I guess I'm 30 now. I wasn't really in the mood to celebrate this morning, until I saw what Jessica brought me just before our morning run:
That would be a mini cookie cake from Mrs. Fields. I think Jess and I must have been twins in another life. Not only the cookie, but she also gave me a card saying that she's going to buy me my first martini! When we went to lunch one day, I told her I'd never had a martini before, but always wanted to try one.

We decided to do an interval run this morning. My knee has been feeling really good for the past few runs, so I figured it would be a good time to do some speed work. I set the Garmin for 1/4 mile intervals, and off we went. We just did 3 miles, and doing the intervals makes the time go by so much faster since you focus on the 1/4 mile increments instead of the run as a whole.
This shows our pace, and you can clearly see the faster intervals
And these are our splits:

We actually stayed really consistent throughout--our faster pace was between 9:03-9:10/mi (with the exception of the last one where we went 8:34); and our recovery pace was between 10:46-11:01/mi.

We both enjoyed doing the speed work, so we decided to try and do it every Wednesday.

The rest of the day has been same old business as usual. I did go buy a dress this afternoon though. A photographer is coming to my house on Saturday for a photo shoot with me--which I'll talk more about after everything is all finalized. The whole thing came about because of Pinterest... shocker, huh? ;)

I realized that my dresses (minus the one I wore on Dr. Oz) are all kind of flowy, because I was always trying to hide my saggy belly skin. Now that I have a pretty flat tummy, I wanted a more form fitting dress. I bought one today. I'm going to show a picture of it to Jessica and Renee tomorrow to get their opinions before I for-sure use it, but I don't have much time to figure everything out.

I'm going to be spending the next two days cleaning my house top to bottom, unfortunately! ;)

Thanks so much for all the birthday wishes! Here and on Facebook (and my e-mail)--I am truly blessed to have all of you as readers of my blog. Thanks for reading!!

January 24, 2012

A birthday shopping trip

I guess skinny girls would like to go on a birthday shopping trip to the mall for cute new clothes--but THIS girl decided to go to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods ;)

First, my dentist appointment. I had to get a cavity filled, and I really was dreading getting my mouth numbed. When I got there, the dentist said that it was just a very small cavity, and not too deep. I asked if I could do it without getting numbed, and he said sure. He said that when the drill starts going, it kind of heats up and that can cause some twinges of pain, but if that happened, they could stop and then numb me.

I don't know where the bravery came from, but I chose to try it. I was so scared that the drill was going to hit some nerve and just shoot horrible pain through my body, but I felt a couple of uncomfortable twinges (like nails on a blackboard kind of feeling) and I asked if it would be done soon. He said yes, and I stuck it out for another 10 seconds (less than 30 seconds total) and the drilling was done!

He quickly filled the cavity and I was done. In and out of the room in less than 5 minutes--and I didn't have a numb mouth. Awesome!

Then Jerry and I drove to Trader Joe's. I'd only been to Trader Joe's once in my life and that was in Minnesota while visiting my brother--so I didn't get to buy anything because we couldn't bring it home with us. I was very excited to check it out.

We spent a while browsing, and I don't know if I just happen to be a cookie magnet, but that store has a LOT of cookies!! We ended up buying three different kinds of cookies. I looked for Cookie Butter, but they were sold out :(   I did find something that looked almost as good though...
That, dear friends, is dark chocolate FILLED WITH Cookie Butter!! I haven't tried it yet, but I will let you know how it is after I do.

The rest of the loot:
Cookies, wine, chocolate covered espresso beans, cookies, beer, peanut butter, wine, and more cookies... and more wine. Going with Jerry was not a smart decision--he's such a bad influence! Actually, the only things he picked out were the beer and the cheese puff things.

After we left Trader Joe's, we went to Whole Foods. First, we drooled over the desserts shopped for a few minutes, then brought our few purchased items to the car. Then we went back in to get some lunch from the salad bars. I chose the hot food bar this time, and after taking little spoonfuls of lots of items, realized that I mostly just had different shapes of pasta covered in different types of cheese. Whoops. But I couldn't very well put it BACK.

We got a chocolate peanut butter brownie to share for dessert--thanks to you all who told me that I just HAD TO celebrate National Peanut Butter Day by eating my weight in peanut butter (that IS what you were implying when you told me it was National Peanut Butter Day, right? RIGHT?) 

After lunch, I felt sick. And we drove home.

It was the brownie that did me in. It was SO RICH. I also bought a cupcake to have for my actual birthday tomorrow, and thanks to the brownie, the cupcake doesn't even sound good right now. It's sitting in the fridge, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it tomorrow. It's maple-walnut flavored.

Today has definitely been a day of indulgence. But tomorrow goes back to normal!

January 23, 2012

A long run and Icespikes review

When I was lying (awake, of course) in bed at 3:30 this morning, I heard thunder and rain outside. I thought, "Yay, Jessica will probably cancel our run this morning!" (even though canceling the run outside would simply mean I'd have to run seven long miles on the dreadmill).

But Jessica is hardcore. She never cancels! ;)  So I sent her a text at 7:00 to see if maybe she didn't realize it was raining and should we cancel. Nope, we were still going to meet at 8:00 at her house.

I'm so glad that we ended up running outside anyway! The rain stopped by 7:45, and the temp was actually in the low 40's. There was a lot of slush, but no more snow. Julia and Johna went with us, too, and we did our seven-mile long run. By the way, Jessica and I decided to switch our long runs to Mondays because it was the most convenient for both of us. I'm going to run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

I love burning that many calories at once!  But I immediately think about what I can eat.  Today, I was thinking of peanut butter, so after lunch I had a couple of spoonfuls. Jessica shares my peanut butter addiction, so she completely understands eating it from the jar ;)

We got a lot of snow over the weekend, and I got a chance to try out a product that is used to keep you from slipping while running (or walking) on snow and ice. Remember how I mentioned that I went to the running store, and tried on a couple of different shoe cleats? They were these rubber contraptions that you slide over your running shoes, and they have little spikes on the bottom of them to help grip the snow. They looked kind of like this:
Well, I found them really difficult to get on my shoe, and once they were on, they didn't feel very comfortable. They also didn't seem very secure on the shoe. So I decided against buying any, and then I went home to research which were the "best ones" to get. On the Runner's World website, a lot of people were talking about a product called "Icespike", so I checked out the website for them and was a little intrigued.

I was about to order them when I decided to ask if they'd let me review a set for the blog--and I told them that I keep the blog very honest, so if I didn't like them, I wasn't going to pretend I did! ;)  I received a set in the mail just in time for the snow that dumped on us out of nowhere.

Here is what the Icespikes look like:

You get 32 spikes and the installation tool

They are little tiny screws that have a couple of sharp prongs on the screw head that grip the snow/ice when you run. You screw these directly onto the bottom of your shoes.

I decided to use an older pair of my running shoes, since I don't need these spikes every time I run--just on the snowy or icy days. The instructions were very simple, and the whole process took less than 20 minutes to get them installed on my shoes.  (Yes, my shoes are dirty and stained... but wouldn't you worry if they looked like they'd never been used?)
First, I marked them with a Sharpie (the instructions tell you where to mark)

Then I just used the screwdriver tool to screw them in

This is how they look while screwed in
They felt very secure (much more-so than the slip-on cleats that I tried out).  You get 32 screws, but you only use 12 on each shoe--so you have 8 leftover. The instructions said that the spikes on the heels tend to wear out faster, so you can replace those as needed with the eight extras. The Icespikes will last the life of your shoes (about 500 miles).

I was excited to give them a try, and thankfully, the snow had come in, so I dressed warmly and headed out. I was very surprised that I didn't FEEL the Icespikes on my shoes. They didn't compromise my stride at all, and while running through the snow, I actually didn't even notice that they were on. They made my footing feel very secure and after a few minutes, I stopped worrying about slipping and I just relaxed.

Overall, I think these things are PERFECT for what I was looking for! I wanted to feel safe running in the snow and even ice without wearing a clunky over-the-shoe contraption. My only complaint about them is that they are pretty loud while running on bare concrete. I made the comment to Renee and Alicia that I sounded like a horse while running on a bare patch of road. While running on the snow, however, they weren't any louder than plain old shoes.

Some positives I noted:
*Light and tiny--you barely even notice them
*They don't compromise my stride
*Easy to install
*They actually work really well!
*They're cheaper than the over-the-shoe cleats I tried on at the running store
*While I didn't try them on a muddy trail run, I imagine these would work just as well in mud as they do in snow
*You don't have to worry about what size to buy, because one size fits all

Some negatives:
*They're not something you'd want to put on and take off each time you run. You can take them off, but it would be a pain to do that every time. Having two pairs of shoes would work best.
*They're loud on bare concrete

So I'm happy that I found something I can use to train for my marathon even on our snowy days! Here is the website, in case you want to check it out.

(Disclosure: I was provided the set of Icespikes for free, but I was not required to give a positive review. The opinions I've shared are completely my own).

I had a dentist appointment after my run this morning. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate going to the dentist? My mouth is always so sore afterward--which I know I could remedy by flossing daily like I'm supposed to.  Turns out I have a cavity :(  Being almost-30 sucks as far as my dental health!  I didn't get my first cavity until I was about 27 years old, and since then, I've had two more.

The dentist saw that I was dressed in my running clothes and wearing my Garmin, so he asked about my running. Turns out he's run three full marathons, among other races. He ran the one in St. George that I read about on The Boring Runner's blog--check out the elevation profile on that! After seeing that, I told Jessica that we had our whole strategy wrong, trying to find a FLAT course ;)  (If you've never checked out Adam's blog, you're missing out--despite calling himself "boring", he is very funny!)

Anyway, I have to go back to the dentist to get a filling. Luckily (or not) he had a cancellation tomorrow morning, so I won't have to wait too long.

Jerry is off work tomorrow, and I am SOOO happy about that! We are supposed to go out to lunch for my birthday, but we may not if my mouth is still numb. Either way, I'll be happy to spend some time with him since he's been working so much lately.

January 22, 2012

A maintenance plan and new goals

Sometimes I wish that, like my kids, I could fall asleep anywhere in any position. Yesterday morning, when Jerry got up for work, he discovered that sometime in the night, Eli had dragged his pillow and blanket into the living room to sleep on the couch. Apparently, he fell asleep in the process of climbing onto the couch...
Isn't that adorable?  I, on the other hand, have had horrible insomnia for weeks now.  It's making me crazy! I've had a lot on my mind, and I think my anxiety might be keeping me up.

Ever since my doctor told me to stop losing and to maintain my current weight a couple of weeks ago, I haven't really given it much thought. But I guess I need to come up with a game plan for maintenance, huh?

While I didn't actually reach my personal goal of 133, I'm going to make my maintenance range 133-137.  The number 137 is going to be my "panic weight"; if I see that number on the scale, I know I need to cut back a little until it gets to the lower end of my range. For the past few weeks, I've been 136, but today I was 137 (no doubt the peanut butter I've been consuming by the spoonful), so I've hit the panic weight.  The goal is to never see 138.

I feel like I will forever be trying to reach a finish line that is in sight, but I'll never actually get there.

I've actually been doing really well at maintaining 136 without much effort--the only thing I'm really focusing on is not binge eating. I've been binge-free for 69 days now. I came very close to bingeing a couple of times, but I keep reminding myself of my determination to make a new binge-free streak of over a year.

I think as long as I'm not bingeing, I should be able to maintain my weight without having to count calories. However, I would really like to start trying to work on the quality of my diet. My diet is far from "bad", but now that I'm training for a marathon, I want to get the most nutrition out of each calorie that I can.

I've actually heard of a lot of people that have gained weight from marathon training, due to the "I can eat what I want because I'm training for a marathon!" mentality. I can completely see myself falling into that trap, so I'm going to do my best to avoid it. I'm thinking about only training three days a week (instead of four) to avoid injuring my knee even more. The run I would cut out is only a 3-4 miler, so it wouldn't make much difference. I'm thinking that I'll do my running on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; then maybe some cross-training one other day (either biking if it's nice outside, or incline walking on the dreadmill). Anyway, the whole point was that if I'm only training three days per week, I don't need to be eating thousands of extra calories ;)

Another thing I'd like to start doing is writing out monthly goals at the beginning of each month and then post about how well (or poorly) I did at the goals at the end of the month. I like to challenge myself, because I almost always learn something new about myself in the process. I'm always impressed at the goals Lori challenges herself with and then achieves!

I'm also working on a 30-in-30 list... 30 goals/things to accomplish between my 30th and 31st birthdays. They'll be simple things, since I only have a year, but just something to focus on now that I don't have to focus on losing weight. Hopefully I'll be done working on it by my birthday on Wednesday!

January 21, 2012

Weight Loss Success Story: How Carly Lost 100 Pounds and Started Running!

Early this month, I received an e-mail from a woman named Carly that I found so inspiring, I asked her to share more about her story. I excitedly read the e-mail to Jerry, and I told a couple of my friends about Carly and how inspirational her story was.

I receive a lot of e-mails from people who say they wish they could run, but they are "too heavy". That certainly may be true, considering running is hard on your body, but if an overweight or obese person gets the go-ahead from his or her doctor, there is no reason that he or she cannot become a runner. Carly has certainly proved that--and she is losing weight in the process.

When I read Carly's story, I just had to ask her to write a guest post so that other people can be inspired as well. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.   --Katie

Update: We invited Carly to join our Ragnar Relay team, From Fat to Finish Line, and she ran with us in January 2013. The team is now part of a documentary called From Fat to Finish Line, available on Netflix and Amazon.

From Fat to Finish Line Carly's before and after photos

Here is Carly's story, in her words:

"Last summer, I received pictures of myself from a wedding I had recently been in. It would be an understatement to say I was unhappy with the way I looked. Something HAD to change.

I started taking small walks every night. After about a month of walking, a lot of research, and a heart-to-heart talk with my doctor, I decided to start the Couch to 5K running program. In order to keep myself going, I immediately signed up for a 5k near the end of the program. I am the type of person that won't stick to something unless I have a plan so this worked well for me.

On the day of my first run that September, I weighed 349 pounds.

It took me over two weeks to get through the entire first week of the program. I would run for a minute, and then walk for 90 seconds every other night. I will never forget how hard those one-minute runs were at over 300 pounds.

Once I stopped feeling like I was going to die after the week one runs, I moved on to week two. If I didn't feel comfortable with a week of the program, I repeated it. I struggled a lot with week four and repeated that a couple of times. Then came week five and I realized that the sneaky folks who wrote the Couch to 5k program hated me: a 20-minute run out of nowhere!

I did the whole 20 minutes the very first time and shocked myself. That was the day I ran my first whole mile.

By the time my 5k race came in late October, I was only in week seven of the nine-week program, but I was determined to try. At that point, I was 330 pounds, and I ended up running the entire 3.1 miles in 52 minutes WITHOUT walking at all!

Up until that point, I had always run alone, but I had a very supportive friend running with me and pushing me. She would encourage me to keep running when I wanted to stop, and made the race really fun. I am sure I would have stopped to walk if she wasn't there.

I actually screamed out my weight in excitement as I crossed the finish line--my running high obviously messed up my brain in that moment! I finished the Couch to 5k program and two months later ran a second 5K race in 45 minutes.

For me, running is almost more mental than physical. The first 10 minutes of every run are the worst, and all I can think about is stopping. I begin to wonder why I ever thought it was a good idea to run. Once I get past the first 10 minutes, however, I love it!

I had a lot of people tell me that running at my weight wasn't safe for my knees, heart, and feet. This can be true, but there is a safe way to get started and proper ways to protect yourself. From the time I started week one, I had permission from my doctor and was sized for proper (expensive) running shoes.

I don't "run through pain" and I am very conscious of my body and if it needs to rest. I had to stop running twice: once for bronchitis and once for shin splints. It took me a week to get back to where I was each time, but the rest and time off was necessary.

In the beginning, I struggled with running in front of other people, afraid of what they were thinking. I work on an Air Force Base, so the gym I go to is not exactly lacking good-looking, well-built men (and very fit women). I am definitely still the biggest girl there. The only way I was able to overcome being nervous about working out in front of them was to just do it! It also gives me plenty of motivation to use proper form and suck in my belly when I work out.

Once they recognized me and saw me shrinking they would stop me and tell me what an inspiration I have been to them. Me? An inspiration at 300 pounds? Crazy!

Since beginning to run in September, I have lost 63 pounds. A BIG part of that is due to changing my eating habits and tracking everything I eat. I work full-time and I am a single mom to a 3-year old, so I have to be very creative to find the time to work out and plan healthy meals.

I recently signed up for a half-marathon in May and I am beginning to train for that. I plan to walk/run it, but my big goal is just to finish. I would love to be able to help anyone who thinks they might be too big to run. Start slow and be mindful of your body and you can do this!"

Carly's Tips for Overweight Runners

*Proper shoes - Go to a running store that will watch you run on a treadmill and fit you in the best shoes for your feet.

*Get the 'okay' from your doctor - You should do this before any exercise program, but being overweight can put an extra burden on your body (it's also nice to be able to compare your numbers from the tests your doc takes after you've been running for a while).

*Start slow - You should be able to walk 30 minutes at a reasonable pace before starting to run.

*Be comfortable - If you're nervous about people watching you run, you will probably be more productive running alone.

*Eat well - Eating nutritionally bad food or too much food makes me feel weighed down when I run.

*Stretch - I thought stretching was nonsense for a while, but since I started stretching, my runs are always better. Plus, it feels so good!

*Don't give up - The first time you run for a minute will not be easy, but it does get better as your body gets used to it.

Carly said that you can e-mail her at:  carlyoleo (at) gmail (dot) com.

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