March 31, 2013

Jerry did it!

I am LOVING all the sleepy cat pictures you all have been sending... I think Jerry is tired of me saying, "Oh, look at this one!" I'm so glad that I am making my kids pick the winner, because I could never choose.

Yesterday morning, I spent two hours working on my RRCA certification test. I was nervous about it, because you only get one shot to pass. It was actually harder than I expected it to be, because some of the questions were tricky. But I got this e-mail today:

Yay! I don't really have plans of *actually* coaching right now, but I like having some credibility when people ask me for running advice. Andrea said she'll be my guinea pig first client while we train for the Chicago Marathon, and I'm excited to write a training schedule for her.

During the night, at around 1:00 in the morning, Jerry and I were both sleeping. Then we both were startled out of sleep from a horrible alarm sound. I had no idea what it was, and I was so disoriented from being awakened so suddenly. I may have said some obscenities, and Jerry found the source of the alarms--there were TWO that sounded simultaneously. Our cell phones.

Apparently, we have some sort of setting on our phones that sounds an alarm when there is an Amber Alert in our area. I had no idea that this existed. It took me a good hour and a half to fall back asleep after that.

When I got up this morning, it was still pretty early, so I just laid in bed and thought about what to do with the Rockford Marathon--whether I should do it or not. I made a mental list:

Reasons to do it--I can give it my all, and see my potential for that distance; I can be there when my sister runs her first half-marathon.

Reasons NOT to do it--I hate running longer than 13 miles; training for a marathon isn't fun; I am more likely to get injured; my newly faster pace will probably slow significantly; I don't have extra money to throw around; I'm trying not to travel much without my family this year (which is why I'm not running the Indy half); I really don't care in the slightest what my marathon time is, so improving it is kind of pointless.

When I listed all that, it was pretty obvious what my choice should be. I'm not going to do it. I actually felt relieved when I decided that, which means I made the right decision.

Jerry had to work this morning, so we gave the kids their Easter "baskets" last night...
They wanted fitted Detroit Tigers hats (just like their daddy), so I used hats for baskets--it was hard to fit much in there, but we went easy on the candy, because they really don't need it. They got the hats, a DVD (Life of Pi and Wreck-It Ralph), a chocolate bunny filled with caramel, peeps, and some mini Cadbury Creme Eggs. They were really excited about the hats, so it was a good choice!

They dyed Easter eggs yesterday, and this morning I hid them around the living room, dining room, and kitchen. I counted them before I hid them, to make sure we found all the eggs--there were 21 total. When the kids got up, they had fun finding the eggs. We got down to the last few, and they were having a hard time finding them, so I did hotter/colder to help them.

Well, turns out I had no idea where the last two eggs were. We searched for 45 minutes!! I couldn't find them for the life of me, so they are somewhere in my house right now, just waiting to start rotting and stinking up the place. My house is pretty clean, so it's not like they are hidden amongst clutter--I have no idea what happened to them!

So now that Lent is over (I gave up sweetened nut butters), I got a new-to-me peanut butter to try.
I don't think I've ever come across a peanut butter that I didn't like... until now. This stuff tasted way too oily. Peanut Butter & Co. makes a Cinnamon Raisin peanut butter that is FANTASTIC, so I will stick with that one. I like the idea of the granola in the peanut butter, but the flavor of this just wasn't very good. They have a couple other flavors, but those didn't interest me (one of them has banana, and I'm not a banana + peanut butter person).

Giving up the sweetened nut butters for Lent was pretty tough at first, but I'm glad I did it. I got out of that bad habit of swiping a spoonful here and there and not counting it.

Saving some exciting news for last... Jerry reached his goal weight!!! He started losing weight a few months after I did, and his starting weight was (funnily enough) the same as mine--253. He got down to about 10 pounds above his goal weight, and stayed there for the past couple of years. A couple of months ago, he decided to join Weight Watchers, and focus on reaching his goal weight. And he DID!

In his before picture from 2009, he was 253; and now he's 172--so he's lost 81 pounds! Doesn't he look awesome? :)  I'm hoping he'll write a post about his point of view of this whole journey.

March 30, 2013

True Nature of Cats

(This is a cat post, so if you're not a cat person, feel free to skip over it!)

I have to say, when I was asked to do this Purina ONE trip, I was a little unsure about agreeing to write four posts about it, because I *hate* reading blogs that sound like big advertisements for companies. (I actually turn down a lot of opportunities for that very reason).

But Purina ONE told me that I didn't have to rave about their food; I could write about things I learned or whatever interested me, so that's why I agreed to do it. I LOVED the experience, and I hope that shines through on these posts--I'm always honest about my opinions of products and things, and this isn't any different.

So anyways, on Thursday morning, I met the other bloggers (I think there were about 12 of us) in the hotel lobby at 8:30, so we could take a bus to the Purina ONE headquarters. I was starving, because I knew we'd have breakfast there, and I didn't eat at the hotel.

I was surprised at the size of the headquarters--I think there were three buildings, and definitely a lot of property. They even have a dog park there for employees to bring their dogs to work! Lots of employees bring their dogs and/or cats to work every day. Needless to say, the employees are big pet lovers. It was fun to talk about cats, and not have people roll their eyes at the "crazy cat lady" ;)

There are even a couple of cats that live in the building, and they were SO friendly...

We went in a conference room and had breakfast while we listened to a presentation about the True Nature of Cats movement. It was fascinating!  The whole point of the True Nature of Cats movement is to bring your cat back to "nature", and make his/her life as a pet as close to the natural life of a wild cat as possible.

Purina ONE sent experts to Africa to study the African Wildcat and learn the cats' habits, and then did what they could to recreate that in pets. I'm going to be writing about this in four separate posts, so I'm going to break it down into different segments. Since Purina ONE is a pet food company, obviously they want us to switch our cats to their brand of food. So I'll write about feeding habits on this first post.

Some interesting things I learned about feeding:

*When you put water in a bowl for your cat, she can't smell or see it; sometimes, you may find your cat putting her paw in the water or putting toys or food in the water. This is to gauge the depth level of the water, or see if there is even water in the bowl. A lot of cats actually prefer running water, and there are special fountains you can get for your cat for this purpose.
This is an example of one of the fountains--the water
comes out of the top and flows down to the bowl and

*Food shouldn't be served in a bowl, but rather on a flat dish. Cats' whiskers are very sensitive, and when their whiskers touch the sides of a bowl, it can cause "whisker stress". 

*Food dishes should be placed out away from a wall or corner, because in nature, cats like to be able to see what is happening around them, so they don't allow predators to sneak up on them. If their bowl is facing a wall or corner, then they may feel on edge while eating.

*Cats like to graze throughout the day. If you have just one cat, the best way to feed her is to measure out a bowl of food in the morning, and leave it out for her to come and go as she pleases. I haven't figured out what to do with FOUR cats just yet ;) We learned about puzzle feeders, which I'll talk about in another post, and I think that may help Chandler slow down his eating.
An example of a puzzle feeder--you place a few pieces
of kibble in each cup, and the cats have to reach in and
pull it out with their paws. This makes them "work for"
their food, like they do in nature.

*In nature, cats don't drink much water, because the prey that they eat has enough moisture to keep them hydrated. You can simulate this at home by feeding your cat wet food, or a combination of wet and dry food.

*During a Q&A session with a nutritionist and veterinarian, someone asked about feeding a raw diet to cats. The nutritionist strongly discouraged this, for a couple of reasons. First, you don't know if the meat is contaminated, so there is a safety issue. But also, and this never occurred to me before, cats aren't getting the right balance they need--usually, people who feed their pets a raw diet use the typical chicken breasts and other cuts of meat that people eat. But in the wild, cats don't just eat a nice, clean chicken breast. They eat all the gross parts of their prey, including the head!  

*When cats are spayed or neutered, their hormones change, which can slow their metabolism and cause weight gain. Purina ONE has a food formula called Healthy Metabolism, which has a higher protein content and lower fat and carbs to counterbalance the dropping metabolism. I'm switching my cats over to this in the hopes that Chandler can drop some pounds! (I'm also giving away coupons for a FREE bag of it, which I'll detail below).
I'd say Chandler's metabolism could certainly use some work!

Purina ONE sent me a package of toys, and puzzle feeders and stuff like that to try out, as well as some coupons for free food. They ALSO sent a second box (identical to mine) for me to give away however I choose. I've been putting some thought into how to do this creatively, and my mom had a great suggestion: a cat photo contest!

For the first three posts (this post is number one), I will give away a coupon for a free bag of food ($13.99 value). For the final post, I will give away the box of cat goodies. Here is how it will work: on each post, I will give you a photo topic, and if you want to enter to win the giveaway, you e-mail me a photo of your cat pertaining to the topic. Then, I am going to have Noah and Eli choose their favorite photo from the submissions, and that person will win the free food.

On the fourth week, I will post the previous three winning pictures (one winner for each week); and I will let all of my readers vote for which cat should win the box of goodies. Sound good?

So for today, here is all you need to do: To win a free bag of Purina ONE Healthy Metabolism food, e-mail me a photo of your cat--the topic is "sleepy". Basically, just pictures of your cats looking adorable or funny or awkward while sleeping.
Good thing Phoebe is disqualified for being my own cat,
because she would win, hands-down!
My e-mail address is SlimKatie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Important: Make sure you use the subject "Sleepy Cat" when you send your e-mail (and include your cat's name). Only ONE photo per person, please (not a collage). I will accept submissions until Thursday, April 4th at 4:00 PM EST.  (And remember, the contest is just about fun--you don't need stellar photography skills! My 7- and 8-year old boys are the judges, if that tells you anything.)

You can find out more about the True Nature of Cats movement on Facebook and on the Purina ONE website. (If you consider yourself a "cat person", definitely check out the Purina ONE site--I spent a couple of hours watching all the videos, because they're so interesting!)

(Disclaimer: Purina ONE provided my travel expenses and a box of cat toys/food in exchange for my thoughts on their True Nature of Cats movement. As always, all opinions are my own.)

March 29, 2013

Run with me

I'm going to write my posts a little backwards--today, I'll write about my long run, and then tomorrow I'll write about my second day in St. Louis. I'm going to do a series of four posts (on Saturdays) that talk a little about my cats--not enough to bore anyone to death, but I learned some cool things at Purina ONE headquarters, and I'm (attempting to) integrate some of it into my cats' daily lives. I'm not a cat blogger (I don't even know if there really is a cat blogger niche), so I promise to keep it to a minimum for the non-cat people ;)  Cats just happen to be one of my favorite things to talk about!

Anyway, I slept like a rock last night--that NEVER happens! I needed a good night's sleep so badly, too. My kids didn't have school today, so I thought I was going to have to do my long run on the treadmill. I really didn't want to do that because I ran on the treadmill last Friday. I asked my mom if the boys could go to her house for a little bit, so I could run at the Metropark, and she said sure.

It was 43 degrees and sunny, and felt like a good day to run outside. I planned to run 14 miles, rather than the usual 12. I'm kinda-maybe-sorta toying with the idea of running a marathon this spring. In seven weeks. In Rockford, IL. Crazy? Probably. But I've got my base training down solid, and I know I could be ready by then. My sister lives in Rockford, so I can stay with her for the weekend, and she's running the half-marathon. I would love to be there when she runs her first half!

The other reason I am thinking about it is because when I run Chicago in October, it won't be for ME--I'm going to be running with Andrea, since it's her first, and I'll be doing it solely for fun. Since my pace has improved so dramatically from my last marathon, I thought it might be cool to try and do my best. I haven't decided for sure yet--I'm going to run a couple more long runs and see if I still feel like it. ;)

Anyway, so I drove to a school near the Metropark trail, and I didn't really have a specific route in mind. I just figured I'd do two out-and-backs from the car. Since it's spring, and I was outside running, I decided to stop at the bottom of every mile and take a picture from my point of view. That way you can kind of come along on my run with me, except I do all the running :)

I actually did this 14-miler without my iPod. I used to run without it all the time, and I still don't wear it for races, but I've gotten kind of dependent on it lately. Something we were told in the RRCA coaching class is that we should never run with headphones, and we are to teach our athletes/clients not to run with headphones. So I'm going to go back to not using them, at least most of the time.

Mile 1- 8:50
I started on the trail at the high school parking lot, and then about a half-mile in, I entered the Metropark. I started hearing a weird clicking noise, and knew right away it was my shoelace hitting against my foot pod (the foot pod is plastic, and the plastic part of the shoelace was tapping against it with each step--so annoying). So I stopped for a second to fix it.

Mile 2- 8:31
I really had to pee. I considered stopping in the woods, but I had come across a couple of other runners, and didn't want to blind anyone with my white butt. I knew there was a bathroom just after the spot where I took this photo, so I prayed I could make it until then.

Mile 3- 8:47
The bathroom was closed. I almost cried. I knew there was a bathroom open year--round at mile 3.5ish, so I just kept going. The lake was really pretty (unfortunately, you can't see it in this pic).

Mile 4- 8:48
Made it to the bathroom, and I considered leaving one of my shirts there to pick up later. I had worn two long-sleeved tech shirts, and I was pretty warm. I decided to just bear with the heat until I got to the Jeep, and if I was still too hot, I'd ditch the shirt then. I turned around at the bathroom, and headed back along the route. The wind was BRUTAL along this stretch. My pace slowed, and I had to push harder to try and maintain pace.

Mile 5- 8:53
I hate this spot of the Metropark. I have bad memories of running in the heat with Jessica here, and feeling like I was going to die. It's wide open with no shade for a long stretch, and in the summer, it's killer.

Mile 6- 8:47
I started thinking about how once I got to the car, I was only going to be halfway done. I started to think of excuses to stop early and call it a day (something that goes through my head for EVERY run), but I knew I'd end up doing the whole thing. I passed right by the Jeep just before reaching mile 7, and decided to keep both shirts on.
Mile 7- 8:50
I passed right by the Jeep, and decided to keep both shirts on. As soon as I hit mile 7, I decided to slow my pace for the rest of the run. I wanted to run without looking at my watch, and trying to maintain a comfortable pace, where I could hold a conversation (if I had someone to converse with). I haven't run at that comfortably pace for a long time, so I had no idea what it was!

Mile 8- 9:17
This mile felt like it took forever. I was running at what felt to be a very slow pace, and I refused to look at my watch. I just kept telling myself, "It's not a race! There is no reason to push the pace." When I finished this mile, and saw 9:17, I was surprised that it wasn't a 10+ minute mile. So I learned that my "comfy" pace is between 9:15-9:20.

Mile 9- 9:20
I kept with the slower pace, just trying to enjoy the run. I went over the expressway, which is a tough hill (the only hill I ever do!). I was glad I had brought my handheld water bottle with me, because I felt like I needed some water at this point.

Mile 10- 9:13
I spent this whole mile pretty much trying to guess at what point my turn-around would be. I knew I'd have to turn around at mile 10.6, so I was trying to figure out, from memory, where that was on the road.

Mile 11- 9:15
At the turn-around point, I ate a margarita-flavored Shot Blok. I haven't used any Gu or running fuel at all since my marathon, but I want to get used to it for marathon training. I happen to love the margarita-flavored Shot Bloks!

Mile 12- 9:14
I was really thirsty during this mile, and I only had about 1/4 of my water left. There was a rec center at mile 11.7 or so, and I went inside to ask if they had a water fountain I could use to refill my bottle. Thankfully, they did. So I gulped what was left, and then refilled. Only two miles to go!

Mile 13- 8:50
It's strange, but my body has gotten so used to running 12 mile long runs that I was starting to feel achy at mile 12.1! It was right on cue. I tried a technique I learned about in my RRCA class. When I was tired and felt like slowing down, I did a short sprint instead. I would look at a point ahead of me (like the stop sign) and run hard until I reached the stop sign. It actually helped a lot!

Mile 14- 8:53
This mile was rough. I was tired, and really wanted to stop. I kept looking at the distance on my watch, and when I got close, I noticed that I totally overshot my 14 miles. When I heard the beep of my watch, signaling 14 miles, I pressed stop and then took this picture. My car was about a half mile ahead of this spot!

I walked for a little bit, planning to walk the whole way to the car, but then changed my mind and ran it instead. I felt SO good when I was done.  I was surprised by the fact that I didn't miss my iPod at ALL.

I stretched for a minute by the car. My mom sent me a text saying that Eli needed new shoes because one of the straps on his current ones broke. I drove right to Wal-Mart, and I'm sure I smelled awesome after running 14 miles.

I was right by the mall (where Mrs. Fields is located) and briefly considered getting a cookie for my long run treat, but ice cream was sounding so much better today. I stopped at Kroger on the way home and bought some Butterfinger ice cream. The whole pint is 18 PP, which is actually less than the cookie sandwich.
When I sat down to eat it, I plugged my ActiveLink in to see how many PP I'd earned. I was shocked to see 27 (and the day was only halfway over)!! The most I've ever earned in a day has been 25. I don't know if it was because I'd just run 14 miles, or I was starving, or what, but the ice cream was SO good today.

I was just going to write that next Friday, I won't be doing a long run because my goal half-marathon is on Saturday. I just double checked the date, and it's not until the 13th! I don't know what I was thinking. So I guess I'll be running 16 miles next Friday! My days feel so screwed up since I was out of town last weekend and again Wed-Thurs.

I want to think of something fun to wear to my race. It's called the Martian Half-Marathon, so it's kind of alien-themed. Any ideas?? I was thinking maybe this would be a good race for my muscle pants ;)

March 28, 2013

First time in St. Louis

St. Louis is amazing! Jerry drove me to the airport yesterday afternoon for my 3:12 flight from Detroit. I got there really early and had no problems getting through security or anything, so I walked around the airport a little bit to get in some activity (and work off my nerves). The flight was only a little over an hour, so I didn't want to take a Xanax and be super tired when I got to St. Louis; and I didn't want to spend my PointsPlus on wine before the flight, so I just decided to tough out my fear and fly completely sober.

I was in a window seat, which is what I prefer if I must fly, and once we got close to St. Louis, the ground actually looked pretty awesome with all the snow. We didn't have any snow when I left Detroit.
We arrived in St. Louis uneventfully, thank goodness. I was told to meet my driver at the baggage claim. I looked everywhere, but didn't see him. I noticed on Twitter that a few bloggers discovered each other at the airport, and that a couple of them were even on my flight from Detroit! I met up with them, and we waited for the rest of the bloggers and the driver.

I felt SO out of my element while chatting with the other bloggers, because they are all "professional" bloggers--as far as I know, my blog is the only very personal one. I have no idea why I was asked to go on this trip--the others have hundreds of thousands of followers! One girl even has a Facebook page for her cat, and her CAT has more Facebook fans than I do--BAHAHA. But everybody was super nice, and it was interesting to hear about the different blog niches that everyone comes from.

When we checked into the hotel, I went up to see my room. We were given a goodie bag from Purina ONE, so I dumped that out on the bed to see what was there. I scarfed down the banana immediately, because I was starving.

I looked out the window and was amazed at the view!

I had about an hour until I was supposed to meet everyone for dinner at the hotel, so I took full advantage of the small amount of time I had, and I walked to the arch. I tried to get a picture of me with the arch in the background, but it wasn't nearly as easy as it sounds ;)

I went for a quick walk around the park there, and then went back to the hotel to change clothes for dinner. Dinner was at Three Sixty, a bar at the top of the hotel. You could see a 360 view of the city from there, which was pretty awesome. Dinner was very light--lots of little finger foods. I took two very teeny slices of margherita pizza and two skewers of chicken in a spicy sauce. Everything else looked very caloric, so I decided to skip over it and get frozen yogurt afterward, hahaha. I also had two glasses of Merlot, and a couple of bites of a cheesecake dessert (not very good--the fro-yo sounded much better).

After chatting with the other bloggers for a while, one of the girls and I went to the lobby for the self-serve frozen yogurt shop. We don't have these anywhere near my house, and the only one I'd been in was in Chicago, so I was super excited for it. I definitely went overboard--three flavors of fro-yo (cake, wedding cake, and red velvet cake), and three toppings (cookie dough, crushed Butterfingers, and crushed Oreos). The fro-yo was only 2 PP per half-cup, and I probably had a cup and a half (6 PP). Then I estimated the toppings at 6 PP, so 12 PP for this big old mess was totally worth it...

I went back up to my room at around 11, and tried so hard to sleep, but was tossing and turning all night. I got up and starting typing this post at 5:00 AM, because that was an acceptable time to get up!

This morning, I'm going to the Purina ONE headquarters to learn about the "True Nature of Cats", and then I'm headed to the airport this afternoon. Such a quick trip!

March 27, 2013

Noah's special day

Even though it was expected, I was still bummed to get on the scale this morning and see such a big gain...
I was 133.5, which means I am up 2 pounds from last week. This was expected for a few reasons: 1) I ate a huge amount of sodium yesterday (yesterday morning, my weight was 131.5), and a lot of excess sodium always causes me to retain water for a day or two; 2) I was totally out of the norm this week, between my RRCA weekend and Noah's "special day" on Monday; 3) I went over my PointsPlus this week, although it was only by five. I'm sure that this is just temporary water retention gain, but I still hate seeing it.

I'm happy with the choices I made over the weekend, considering the circumstances, and I wouldn't change anything there. On Monday, Noah stayed home from school for his special day, and we had lots of fun. Before we did anything, though, I ran 6 miles on the treadmill. I really needed to move my legs after sitting in class for 18 hours! Then, Noah decided he wanted us to go bowling...
I'm not a big fan of bowling (and I'm terrible at it), but it was fun to get to spend time with just Noah, doing something he really wanted to do. After that, he chose Red Robin for lunch. He wanted to go there because they have bottomless fries. I looked at all the healthier options I could have made, but I didn't want to eat a burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun, or get fruit in place of the fries that Red Robin is known for; so I just used a heck of a lot of weekly PointsPlus to order a regular burger and fries...
I had a natural burger--beef patty with lettuce, onions, and pickles--and fries, and the total was 26 PointsPlus. It was good! Noah, who was so excited about the bottomless fries, didn't even finish half the fries his burger came with ;)

On the way home, he asked if we could stop for dessert at the Dairy Queen. I said sure, and I knew I still had a lot of weekly PointsPlus left to cover it. I planned to get each of us a small blizzard, but Noah begged for a medium. Since it was "his" day, I said yes. I got a medium for myself as well, which I do regret--a small (or even a mini) would have been plenty after the big lunch I just had.
I took a couple of bites, and it honestly wasn't that good. The Reese's were mostly just the chocolate part (and you all know my favorite part is the peanut butter!). So I actually thought for a moment of just throwing it out and not wasting the PP. But I didn't want Noah to feel bad (he's super sensitive, like me), so I ate it. And ironically, Noah ate about 1/4 of his before he was done--he was too full. I think he learned a lesson about his eyes being bigger than his stomach ;)

I had used nearly all of my weekly PP, which was fine with me; I was specifically saving them for Noah's special day, knowing that we were going to lunch. Noah really enjoyed his day, and that was the most important thing to me.

Yesterday, I ran seven miles on the treadmill, knowing that in St. Louis, I wouldn't have time to run. My eating was fine all day, but my dinner had a ridiculous amount of sodium, which I think is the main cause of my weight jumping up. I made a pita pizza with mozzarella, feta, parmesan, and pepperoni. It was delicious!
I adore feta cheese, but every time I eat it, I retain water like crazy.

Today and tomorrow are going to be a bit of a challenge for me, also. I am flying to St. Louis this afternoon, along with some other bloggers, to go to the Purina ONE headquarters and learn some interesting stuff about cats (nerdy, but definitely up my alley!). We're having a meet and greet dinner tonight at a restaurant, and I'm not sure if we get to order off the menu or if they are ordering stuff for us, so I'll just have to be flexible.

Tomorrow, at the Purina ONE building, they are serving us breakfast, snacks, and lunch; and again, I don't know what the food will be. But I'm just going to make the best choices I can in the circumstances. I'm really excited about this trip! I'll be home tomorrow evening (I'll only be in St. Louis for about 24 hours, unfortunately). Then I should be able to get back to the norm!

March 26, 2013

RRCA weekend

My weekend started way earlier than anyone should have to wake up--I set my alarm for 3:00 AM! I had a three hour commute to Dayton ahead of me, so I got up and showered and all that before heading out the door at 4:00. It was a straight shot down I-75, a super boring drive.

I'm glad I left early, because I passed the exit and had to make my way back to where I was supposed to go. Then I was looking everywhere for a McDonald's or someplace I could go to the bathroom. Anyway, I finally arrived at the Metropark (where my RRCA coach certification class was being held) with about 15 minutes to spare.

The only person in the class that I recognized while waiting for class to start was Matt from Runner Academy. I met him for lunch in Detroit in October with Rik, the day before the marathon; he had interviewed Rik and Ada about our Ragnar Relay team for his podcast. I said hello to him, before class started.

We were sitting at long tables in a U-shape.
We were given our course manuals, and the instructor got started. The first day, we talked mostly about the different types of runners and their needs, the physiology of running, and different running workouts and how they are important to a training program. I was surprised at how quickly the time passed.

They supplied breakfast, snacks, and lunch for us--I was amazed at the spread they had! Tons of freshly baked goods--ginormous muffins, bagels, scones, cookies, breads; fresh fruit--bananas, apples, and oranges; lunch was three types of homemade soup, salad, fresh bread with sandwich fillings; juice and soda, and even candy. My first thought was, "Ohmygoodness, I have to eat ALL OF THIS!" Hahaha, but I had brought some food with me to stay on track.

I did eat their lunch, because it was pretty healthy (and definitely very yummy):
Homemade chicken noodle soup, fresh bread, salad, and an apple. I was tempted to make a whole sandwich, because the bread was really good, but I didn't want to go overboard.

Class ran overtime on the Saturday, and we didn't finish up until 5:15. I drove to Carly's house, and I was really excited to see her. We didn't get to spend much time together in Florida, since she was in Van 2 and I was in Van 1 for the race; also, she left the morning after the race.

I met Carly's five-year old son, and he was absolutely adorable. Then the three of us went to Chipotle for dinner. Afterward, I may have suggested that we got to McDonald's for an ice cream cone ;)  Carly and I got to chat for a while before it was time for bed. I was super tired because of my early start to the day.
Sunday morning, I got up at 6:00 and got ready to head out the door at 7:15. Carly was still sleeping, so I snuck out quietly. The news kept talking of a huge snow storm that was supposed to hit Dayton that afternoon, and I was worried about my drive home.

I stopped for a decaf coffee before class, and picked up a Kashi bar for breakfast while I was at the gas station. The bar was actually really good.
Not really a breakfast of champions, but certainly healthier than the scone I'd been thinking about!

Day two's topics included the business side of coaching (marketing ourselves), sports psychology, injuries, and how to build running programs for individual needs. Normally, I'm super quiet and don't participate by raising my hand to volunteer info, but we did an interesting exercise in the morning when talking about marketing. First we had to list positive things about ourselves that would help us generate clientele; then we had to list positive things that others would say about us; and finally, we had this question:
That one was actually kind of fun to answer! Everyone else in the class seemed to have a hard time coming up with anything, but I just thought of some negative comments I'd gotten before, and wrote those down ;)

I am self-admittedly bossy and boring. I chose egotistical because of my being on national TV a couple of times, one might draw that conclusion about me; I chose snobby because a few of my friends told me that was the first impression they got of me--I'm super shy, and don't talk much, so they assumed I was snobby; and then "sell-out" because I kind of felt like a sell-out when I monetized my blog by putting advertisements on it. So anyway, I actually raised my hand and read my list out loud.

About halfway through the second day of class, one woman was talking about her experience of running while pregnant, when she stood up abruptly and started to walk out of the room, mid-sentence. Everyone was a little confused, and the instructor asked her if she was okay. She didn't respond, and she collapsed outside of the room. Randy (the instructor) yelled for someone to call 911, and about a dozen people were on the phones instantaneously.

I'm not sure exactly what happened to her, but I think she had some sort of anxiety attack. She said that it happened last week, and the first responders said she was okay. She went to the hospital, and I later learned that she was doing fine. But it was still scary to see that happen!

I had been craving a scone like crazy, so I decided to have one for lunch. I had a bowl of soup and instead of bread and/or salad with it, I just had half a chocolate chip scone and half a cranberry scone. GOOD CHOICE--both were amazing!

We spent quite a bit of time working on a detailed running plan for a fictional character who wanted to qualify for Boston. I think that was actually really helpful--we did this in groups of 5-6, and I liked hearing the ideas from the others in my group. After that exercise, I felt very confident in writing training plans, and I'm excited to write my own Chicago Marathon training plan.

The snow wasn't coming down at all when we got out of class, but I didn't waste any time getting on the road. I was excited to get home! I only stopped once, to get Subway for dinner. I was tempted to get ice cream or something too (being in the car by myself makes me crave junk food), but I wanted to save my PointsPlus for Noah's special day on Monday.

I'm very happy with how class went, and I will take my exam soon--so I'm not certified just yet. But it was a fun experience, I learned a LOT of great info, and met some really cool people. My instructor was hilarious, which kept class interesting. I'm glad I did it!

March 25, 2013

Motivational Monday #8

My weekend absolutely flew by. I'm trying hard to catch up on everything before I leave for St. Louis on Wednesday! I learned a ton of new running info, as well as confirmed most of what I already knew about running, in my RRCA certification course. It was a great experience, and I'll be taking my certification exam soon. Let's hope I actually pass, because I will be horribly embarrassed if I don't. ;)

I'll write more about the weekend tomorrow, but for Motivational Monday, I will say that I am very proud of myself for keeping control of my eating this weekend. There was an insane amount of temptation, and I handled it well. :)  More about that tomorrow....

Judging from today's Motivational Monday Facebook post, it looks like you all had a great week!

Ashlee ran her longest run ever--15 miles--AND it was her best pace ever! With a 9:55/mi average pace, she's totally ready to rock her next half-marathon.

Nicole and her husband, Ben, ran their first 10K together on Saturday! They crushed their goals, and are looking forward to running the American Odyssey Relay next month (a relay that goes from Gettysburg to Washington D.C.).

Staci ran her first 5K, the Color Me Rad. She was hoping to run the entire distance, and she did it! She's also lost nearly 10 pounds over the past month.

Katelyn ran her farthest distance yet--9 miles!--despite it being windy and hilly. She wrote about the run on her blog, The Hungry Twenties. She even rewarded herself with something she had a craving for--a Cadbury Creme Egg! (I was very impressed when I read her post about the egg... she took it to the register, and the cashier told her they were buy one, get one free. I would have gotten two, and eaten two, but she gave the free one to the cashier to eat!)

I had to laugh when I saw my sister's contribution to Motivational Monday, which definitely wins for most creative accomplishment... she said that she can now contract her glute muscle and actually see her butt cheek lift up. That's impressive! ;)  (Naturally, when I read that, I did what many of you will probably do--I pulled my pants down in front of the mirror and contracted my glutes, of course! And let the record show that I can, in fact, make my butt cheeks dance.)

To read some more accomplishments for this week, you can check out the Facebook post. Here is a snippet of that...

Finally, I wanted to share this--I saw it on Facebook today, which was perfect for Motivational Monday. When I was losing weight, and it got really hard to stay on track, I kept reminding myself that if it was easy, everybody would do it. I knew that when I did it, and reached goal, I could be damn proud of myself for doing something so hard that not many people could do!


One last thing... I meant to post this yesterday, after Ellen's post about maintenance, and I completely forgot. SparkPeople has a team called "At Goal and Maintaining & Transition to Maintenance", which is perfect for anyone seeking help in maintenance. One of the leaders has compiled a TON of resources for people wanting more info about maintenance. I was seriously overwhelmed when I saw the list--it's amazing! I'm slowly making my way through it.

Anyway, here is a link for the list--feel free to share the link with anyone you wish. It's not an ad, nor does it benefit the Spark Team in any way--they just wanted to help get all the info out there so people reaching maintenance have some support! (There are also a few links on binge eating and food addiction).

Great job this week, everyone! You continue to inspire me every day!

March 24, 2013

A guest post on maintenance

I have a special guest post for you today! One of the first blogs that I started reading regularly was written by Ellen. Ellen has lost over 100 pounds, which is inspiring enough--but she's also kept that weight off for nearly eight years! (Ellen is also the reason I'm pretty broke right now--she's the one who introduced me to David's Tea!). Since I'm fairly new to being in full maintenance-mode, I asked Ellen if she could share some of her secrets. Eight years is a very long time to have kept off such a substantial amount of weight, and I would love to be able to reach that milestone one day.

When I read her post, I was pleased to see that I appear to be on the right track--I found myself agreeing with everything she's written (well, except for the yogurt--blech!). Her "before" diet was very similar to mine as well. Enjoy!

Hi, everyone ~
When I was asked to guest post at Runs For Cookies about the topic of maintenance I eagerly agreed, not only because I adore Katie and would do just about anything for her, but also because I feel that the topic of maintenance sometimes gets lost within the plethora of information out there among the more popular topics of weight loss.   There’s a never-ending bounty of diet groups, forums, meetings, books and blogs to support anyone who wants to lose weight.  Unfortunately, information and support becomes scarce once one actually achieves her goal.

After working long and hard to reach my goal of a 100+ pound weight loss it was as though I’d been handed my Way To Go! You Did It! plaque and sent on my way with nothing more than a quick pat on the back. Suddenly the tools I’d used for years didn’t apply to me, which was kind of scary.  It’s a bit like devoting years of your life to becoming say, a nurse, but then once you graduate you’re expected to know how to perform brain surgery.

235 pounds--"I was unhappy with my life, and it showed
all over my face"
When I was at my heaviest, it wasn’t unusual for me to have a stack of heavily buttered chocolate chip pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast with coffee and lots of flavored cream and sugar.  For lunch I often ate pizza and drank a couple cans of Dr. Pepper while waiting for a cake or cookies to come out of the oven.  Dinnertime was my biggest meal of the day and my favorite dish was homemade fettuccine alfredo with garlic bread and more sugary soda.  And dessert?  Well, I never needed an excuse to have something sweet.

It wouldn’t be unusual for me to consume 3,000-5,000 calories a day.  I have always been an emotional eater and have been known to binge eat when severely depressed or anxious.  I gained the majority of my weight while attempting to deal with major life issues in my early twenties.The first step of learning how to keep the weight off, for me, was understanding why I relied so heavily on food and what triggered my reasons for overeating.

I made small changes at first.  I bought a pedometer and decided to focus solely on moving more.  I didn’t change my eating habits much in the beginning.  Eventually though, as I felt stronger and more confident about my progress I wanted to eat better, so I slowly began eliminating unhealthy foods from my diet.

130 pounds--This was taken right after
reaching goal weight.
These days you can usually find me eating oatmeal and Fage yogurt for breakfast.  Other foods that are always in my kitchen are: sliced turkey, Joseph’s lavash bread, raw spinach, fruit, spaghetti squash and Morningstar burgers.

Now that I’ve been maintaining for almost 8 years, I’ve come to rely on a few things that help me keep my weight under control:

1. Routine is my friend.
I know it sounds boring but in all honesty, it’s a lot easier to maintain a loss when there are no surprises. I really don’t like eating food I’m unfamiliar with. I’ve become pretty good at knowing the serving size of a piece of chicken by sight and I can rattle off how many calories are in a teaspoon of sugar, a tablespoon of cream or a cup of flour like it’s some kind of bar trick.  When I’m faced with eating an unfamiliar food however, I can sometimes tend to underestimate the calories. If I do that too often, it’s a sure sign that I’ll start gaining weight.

2. Life doesn’t have to be about ‘all-or-nothing’.
When I was little, my favorite movie was Willie Wonka and the Choclate Factory.  Oh, how I envied those Oompa-Loompas.  They actually got to LIVE in the chocolate factory and I bet they had no idea how good they had it - edible wallpaper?  Lakes of chocolate?  Uh, can you say Heaven??  Even now, if I could get away with it I’d happily eat cheesecake for breakfast, Donuts for lunch and a tub of homemade ice cream and cookies for dinner.

Just because I can’t do that doesn’t mean that I can’t trick my sweet tooth into believing I’m indulging.  My secret weapon is dessert teas.  Whenever I feel the urge to overindulge, I steep a cup of Red Velvet Cake or Toasted Marshmallow tea from David’s Tea, which - and I am not kidding when I say this - has the most decadent teas on earth (I am not a sponsor nor have I ever been paid to endorse David’s Tea but if asked, I totally would – it’s that good).  If I feel like I’m on the verge of overeating, eight times out of ten, having a mug or two of my favorite tea with a bit of sweetener and unsweetened almond milk will sustain my sweet tooth.

I guess my point is this: it doesn’t have to be ‘all-or-nothing’.  If there’s a food that I can’t see to fit into my diet plan, I’ll experiment until I find something that won’t leave me feeling deprived – and if I can’t find a solid replacement? Then I’ll eat that piece of chocolate cake and not feel guilty about it, but I will try to make a point to eat it responsibly and mindfully.

3. I surround myself with people who support me.
Connecting with others who are walking a similar path has been invaluable.  We all do better when we know we’re not struggling alone. I feel terribly lucky in my life right now because for years I chipped away at my weight all alone, not realizing this community existed.  Here in maintenance is where I’ve found genuinely supportive people who truly want to help each other succeed and are open about struggles as well as successes. It’s the one connection that reminds us we’re all human and that we’re in this together regardless of where we are on our journey.

One final thought: you may have heard maintainers say that it’s harder to keep the weight off than it is to lose it.  I completely agree with that statement.   I used to be terrified that I was always one cookie away from gaining all 100+ pounds back.  These days however it’s all about teaching myself to SIT.  Stay In Today.  The past doesn’t matter; it’s the present that counts. Today is all I have, and I do what I can - here in the moment - to continue improving my life.  That’s all any of us can do, really.

Thanks a lot for reading, and a special thanks to Katie for being such an inspiration to us all.

Nearly eight years after reaching goal!

I hope you enjoyed Ellen's post as much as I did! You can find Ellen on her Facebook page; on Pinterest; and her Etsy shop (she's a talented artist!).

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