September 28, 2016

Huge news!

You know how when someone tells you a secret, and then they say not to tell anyone, and it nearly kills you because you're dying to spill the beans? Yeah, that's how I've been feeling for two months now.

I have been SO SO SO excited to share this on my blog ever since I found out about it in July (on Noah's birthday, actually). I had to wait until I had permission to share it on my blog, and it's been killing me ;)

I'm going to be an AUNT!!

My older brother, Brian, and his wife, Becky, are expecting a baby in March. I never thought this day would come--with three siblings, I thought that I'd probably be an aunt one day, but I had kind of given up hope of it actually happening.

Brian and Becky have some crazy adventures together, and this one is the most exciting yet :) I'm so excited that they live in Michigan now, because I don't know if I could handle being an aunt and rarely seeing my niece or nephew.

One of their crazy adventures: climbing up a mountain to stay the night in a
little pod that is attached to the cliff, and then zip lining down the next day.

Speaking of niece or nephew, I'm not sure what I'm hoping for--of course I love boys, having two of my own; but having a little girl in the family would be fun, too.

In 2004, when I was pregnant with Noah, I would go to Babies R Us pretty often to get supplies for the new baby. One day when I was there, I saw a bib that said "Pilot Bear" and had a bear flying an airplane. Well, Brian is a pilot and loves airplanes, so I thought it would be perfect if he ever had a kid. I bought the bib, and tucked it away in my closet.

Fast forward 12 years to Noah's birthday. I was at Noah's baseball game, and Brian and Becky came to watch the game, too. Becky asked me how I would feel about being an aunt, and I totally flipped out with excitement. After the game, we went out for ice cream, where they told my parents and Noah and Eli. We went out to dinner for Noah's birthday a few days later, where Nathan and Kendall could join us. I brought the bib with me so that I could finally give it to Brian!

These days, the bib means nothing. You could use the internet to find all sorts of "pilot" themed baby stuff, I'm sure, and have it delivered the following day. And if not, then surely Pinterest has a bazillion ideas. But, back in 2004, online shopping wasn't even a thing. So, when I saw the Pilot Bear bib at the store, I just had to buy it.

Ironically, just after I learned about Brian and Becky expecting a baby, I was driving and saw this sign at a reception hall (there are wedding receptions held at the hall, so there is usually a "Congrats" to the bride and groom on the sign out front). I just had to pull into the parking lot to get a picture:

Anyway, I am so happy I get to finally share this news with everyone!

September 27, 2016

One year without injury

Being sick is so frustrating! What started as a sore throat for a few days turned into some serious sinus congestion. Now, instead of a very hoarse voice, I just sound like I'm talking while plugging my nose. I've also been coughing quite a bit.

Poor Noah is still having symptoms from his virus, and stayed home from school today because he was coughing so much. When my kids were little, there was one year that they were both constantly sick with bronchitis. If it wasn't one of them, it was the other. Noah's even turned into walking pneumonia. I had to give them breathing treatments several times a day, and stock up on Mucinex.

I never realized how awful bronchitis was until I got it that same year (all three of us were sick at the same time). I would have coughing fits that were so violent I thought I would literally cough up a lung.

I remember going to the grocery store, completely exhausted and emotional from dealing with everyone being sick, and I saw my friend at the store. She said, "Hey, how are you?" like a normal greeting; and I just burst into tears in the middle of the store. Thankfully, we haven't had anything like that happen since ;)

I hate not being able to taste anything right now! I feel physically hungry, but absolutely nothing sounds good to me (not even ice cream!). And then when I do eat, it's totally unsatisfying because I can't even taste it. It would be very sad to permanently lose my sense of taste! Hopefully, I'll kick this cold soon, and then go another few years before getting sick again.

Anyways, enough about that! I just don't have anything to write about, because I haven't done much since being sick. I did realize that it was September 27 today--which may not mean anything to anyone else, but this was my final "rest day" last year due to my stress fracture. I took six weeks off of running to let it finally heal. I wasn't totally inactive during that time, though--I took walks, bike rides, and used a stair stepper to get some exercise.

Then, on September 28, I ran 2 miles. I was thrilled that my stress fracture had finally healed (after about 10 months, on and off!). I only ran 2-3 miles at a time all through October and November. In December, I started heart rate training, which made a world of difference in how I felt about running (I used to dread it, because I was doing my easy runs too fast; when I keep my heart rate in the correct zone, though, I actually really enjoy it!).

I trained all winter and spring for a 10K in April, hoping to PR with 49:22 or better. I trained differently than I ever had before--I was doing most of my runs VERY slowly, and then once or twice a week, I was running VERY hard for intervals or other speed work. I didn't do any middle-ground running. It was the hardest I'd ever trained, and when I ran my 10K, it all paid off! I crossed the finish line in 49:03, and I was thrilled that I actually accomplished that goal.

Anyway, as of today, I have been injury-free for a whole year! I haven't been running much the last couple of months (maybe 10-12 miles a week or so), and I'm okay with that. Summer running isn't much fun, because it's so hot! I had planned to do my whole Summer Running Checklist, but I admit, I didn't. I finished probably about half the items on the list.

However, I think that taking time off of running (or at least dialing back the mileage a lot) works well for me. It gets me fired up to start training hard for something. Right now, I'm working on dropping the summer weight that I picked up (hopefully, I'll be back at goal by Thanksgiving or so) and then I'll be ready to train like a beast for the Indy 500 Festival Mini Marathon starting in February.

For training, I think I'll probably do something similar to last year--just running 2-3 milers for a little while, and then this winter, build up the mileage. I'm going to create a "Your Best Half-Marathon" plan (soon) so that I can use that to train for Indy. It will be very similar to the 10K plan I wrote, just with higher mileage. I'm looking forward to it!

September 25, 2016

Feeling sick

I honestly can't even remember the last time I was sick. It's been such a long time! However, when I woke up a couple of days ago, my throat was SO sore. When I tried to talk, my voice was really hoarse, and I was clearing my throat all day. My kids had the same symptoms a few days ago, starting with the sore throat and then progressing to major nasal congestion. I just hope whatever I have doesn't progress to that!

I had already planned on this weekend being a rest day weekend, because I had such a crazy busy week. It felt good to stay so busy, but at the same time, I really wanted just an hour to relax! I decided to start working on a project that I've been avoiding for a few years now... organizing my photos on my computer.

I've been using iPhoto for three years, and I love it! However, Apple discontinued using it, and now they want us to use Photos (a different program that basically does the same stuff). This would have been a very simple task if all of my photos were dated properly, but somehow, they got jumbled and I knew it would be a huge pain to organize them. Hence the procrastination.

First, I went to Wal-Mart to buy an external hard drive. I have over 20,000 photos on my computer, which takes up a lot of space, so I got a 2 TB hard drive to back everything up to. Since I've been sick, I have spent a couple of days working on the transfer. Eventually, once all my photos are in one spot, I'd like to go through and tag them all with Faces. That will take weeks or even months to do, but when it's done, I'll be SO happy to have all my photos super organized.

I still haven't made up my mind about starting a training plan or some sort of schedule. I really feel like I need a plan to follow, because I'm having a very hard time making myself work out. However, I don't really want to train hard--at least not for a few more months--and I don't want to do long distances. So, basically, I just need to make a plan to stay active, but not really train for anything in particular.

I've been having a hard time tracking my food on the weekends, which is odd--weekends have never really been a particular problem for me. The last two weekends, I had two high-calorie days in a row. My body does fine with just one high-calorie day, but having two in a row makes my weight stay the same for the week. To lose weight, I need to get back in the habit of one day per week. Most interesting to me, though, is the fact that I have consistently gotten right back to normal-calorie days in between. It would be easy to let two days turn into three, and then into four, etc.

Sorry, I really don't have anything else to write! I really hope I can kick this cold soon. Noah said something funny today, so I'll leave with this...

The kids have been interested in roller blading, and Noah's blades were too small when he put them on today. I dug my roller blades out of my closet, and said he could try those on.

Noah: Wow, those rollerblades look really old. When were they made?
Me: I got them when I was about 16.
Noah: Dang, so they were made in the 1900's!

(I haven't even taken any photos I could use for this post! Here is an oldie but goodie...)

Remember that time I wore my helmet backwards the entire 20-something miles of my ride? ;)

September 21, 2016

Busy busy busy

I have been so, so busy lately! I've been looking for a chance to sit down a write a post, but things have been crazy around here. I have about an hour right now to write a quick post. (Not complaining--being busy feels good!)

I've been doing really well with the calorie counting. It still just astonishes me that it's so much easier  (for me, anyway) to eat well and exercise in September versus July. Since I started logging my food again (a couple of weeks ago, after we got home from vacation), I have felt much better, too. More energy, more awake in the mornings, sleeping better, etc.

All I've been doing is following the same things I did last year, when I started calorie counting. It worked so well then, that there was no reason to change it.

I have been listening to my appetite (for portion size), and eating on a schedule. I log my food, and aim to keep the calories at a decent level. I don't have a "cap" on calories, but I typically like to see between 1600 and 2000. I've been aiming for one high calorie day per week, although I had two high-calorie days in a row over the weekend. I don't feel like I'm in a huge rush to lose my summer weight, so I'll just adjust things if needed.

Today is actually the last day of summer--tomorrow marks the first day of fall! I really hope that the temps drop soon. We've had a few days that felt good, but for the most part, it's been in the 80's and humid all month.

Yesterday was my team's first cross country meet. About half of the kids were on the team last year, so they knew what to expect; but the other half were just running their first race yesterday, so that was exciting. It was very hot to run--82 and humid--but the kids all did great! Eli said it was the hardest race he's ever done, because of the heat and the hill (the race has one tough hill to run up). He finished the 1.3 miles in 12:22, which is about a 9:31 pace. All his training is paying off!

Eli charging up the hill!

I got quite the workout at the meet, too. I did the warm-up with the kids on the way to the starting line, and then as soon as they started, I had to run FAST to the top of the hill, so that I could be there to cheer and take photos. I was totally sweaty and out of breath once I got there, but I was just in time to see the first kids approaching the hill. I stayed there for a while, and got to see Eli. A minute after he passed through, I realized that if I wanted to see him cross the finish line, I'd better book it. I took off down the hill and ran as fast as I could to the finish line (not the same direction as the kids) and got there just in time to see Eli finish. I was exhausted.

I've been running in the mornings after I drop the kids off at school, and it feels good to get it done early, before breakfast. When I drop the kids off, I'm already halfway to the State Park, so yesterday, I just went right to the park to run. I'd been dreading running lately, and I realized that it's probably because I stopped heart rate training. I was doing my "easy" runs too hard, and they just weren't fun that way. I decided to get back to keeping a low heart rate during easy runs, and I was right. It was MUCH more enjoyable!

I felt really good the whole way. I had been planning on running three miles, but I ended up taking a detour so I could get in a little more distance, and it ended up being 3.5 total. My mile splits were 10:53, 10:51, and 11:03 at a 144 bpm heart rate--about what I expected.

This morning was kind of chaotic. I had been planning to run five miles or so before meeting Andrea to aqua jog, but then I remembered that today is my dad's birthday. Yesterday felt like a Monday for some reason, so I thought I had another day before his birthday. Anyway, I always make him a pecan pie for his birthday, so while I was getting the kids ready for school, I was also making a pecan pie. It baked while I took the kids to school, and then when I got home, I quickly ate breakfast and headed out to meet Andrea.

I only had enough time to get in a one mile run before the pool, but that was better than nothing. I was already in my running clothes, so it would have been a waste if I didn't run a little. Usually, Andrea and I aqua jog for an hour, but today we cut it short at 30 minutes, since I had to go all the way to Sam's Club. Andrea decided to come with me, and even though it was "just" Sam's Club, it was actually really fun!

We each fell in love with these faux leather jackets, and ended up buying one (different colors).

The color doesn't really show right in either pic (for some reason, it looks brown), but it's actually a grayish color. It was only $25, and it's the most comfortable jacket I've ever worn! Now, if only it would stop being 80 degrees, I can wear it :)

I also had to get photos developed for the "The Story of Me and My Grandpa" books my kids have been working on for my dad. I wrote about them before on Father's Day, when the kids filled out the books ("The Story of Me and My Dad") for Jerry. I liked them so much that I bought some for my mom and dad as well. They're basically fill-in-the-blank type journals with prompts for kids to write about their parent or grandparent. It's really fun to read them, because kids see things a little differently than adults do, and their responses are so funny! ;)  They'd been working on the book for my dad for several weeks, and all it needed was some pictures. I got the photos developed at Sam's, and the kids put them in the book just in time.

Now we're heading over to my parents' house to give my dad his pie and books. I have another busy day tomorrow; but, this weekend, I should be able to catch up on everything!

September 19, 2016

Some current favorite things

I used to do periodic posts about thing things that I'm into lately, and it's been a long time since I've done one. I always like reading those posts by other bloggers, because I may think of something I haven't thought of before, or discover products I didn't know about. There's nothing super exciting on this list, but through the fall, I'm going to try and remember to take pictures of things that I enjoy so I can make a list of current favorites at the end of the season. Anyway, here are some current things I'm enjoying...

#1. Cold Oats! I've written about these a few times lately. It's been too hot for cooking breakfast, and I (finally) started to get tired of having Larabars. I hadn't eaten much oatmeal over the last year, and bringing back the cold oats has been handy!

#2. Outshine Fruit Bars (Creamy Coconut flavor). These are 120 calories, and SO good! They're kind of expensive, so I don't buy them very often, but if you ever see them on sale, they're definitely worth picking up. The texture is like a creamier version of a popsicle, and there are tiny shreds of coconut throughout.

#3. David's Banana Nut Bread tea + plain black tea. I don't really like herbal teas by themselves, so I generally mix them with black tea. This combination has become my favorite!

#4. Noah asked me to download an app called DrawSomething so that I could play it with him. It turned out to be a really fun game! It's kind of like Pictionary, where you are given a word and you have to draw it and then send it to the other player, who has to guess what it is. I'm a terrible artist, and I can't draw to save my soul, but Jerry and I have shared a lot of laughs over our terrible drawings ;)

#6. Mixed fruit. I've been really into melon this summer, but I love to mix melon with pineapple and grapes for a good combo!

#7. A day planner. I've never been one to use a day planner for the way it's really intended, but I found this one at Michaels for 40% off, and it looked like a good way to track my calories and activities on paper (I miss keeping a paper journal, instead of using apps only). I use the top section for things I have going on that day or appointments; the middle section for my food log; and the bottom section for an activity log. I've seen some really great bullet journals on Instagram, and I really wish I was artistic and creative enough to do that! But a regular old planner works just fine ;)

#8. True Lime flavor packets in Watermelon flavor. Ever since I was a kid, I've been obsessed with watermelon flavored things, and these packets are amazingly good! My stomach doesn't agree very well with Crystal Light anymore (the artificial sweetener causes stomachaches for me) but the True Lemon and True Lime products use stevia, and that doesn't bother my stomach at all. There are a few other flavors, but the Watermelon is, by far, my favorite. I typically mix one packet into a quart of water, so it's not as strong tasting--just very refreshing.

#9. Better Pop (Guilt-Free) Popcorn. I love Skinny Pop, but it's pretty expensive, and when I saw that this had the same ingredients (popcorn, oil, salt) but was $2 cheaper, I decided to try it. Jerry and I both agreed that we actually like it better than Skinny Pop, because it's "fresher". I keep this on hand if I'm having a day where all I want to do is snack. Even if you ate the entire bag, the caloric damage isn't TOO terrible.

#10. I finally ran out of the La Croix water I bought in bulk, and I just can't bring myself to pay $5 for 12 of them; so, I decided to try the Kroger brand, and it's not bad! I find it to be a little fizzier than La Croix, and if they were the same price, I would probably choose the La Croix; but, the Kroger brand is worth the switch. My favorite flavor is the Blackberry Citrus. These waters don't have any sweeteners in them--they're just seltzer water with some sort of flavor.

#11. Making lists. I've always been a list-maker, and I have notebooks that are filled with lists of all sorts. It's kind of an odd habit of mine. This summer, when I was going through a serious bout of depression, my friend suggested that we make lists of 100 things that make us happy. When I did it, I could only come up with 17. A couple of months later, I tried again, and I'm up to 75! My mindset is in a much better place, which allows me to see things more positively.

#12. Scream, the TV series (on Netflix). I am a slasher/horror movie junkie, but I'm kind of particular about the movies I like. I don't like anything supernatural, because I only get scared by things that could actually happen--so serial killer movies are my favorite. Scream is probably my all-time favorite of its genre. When I saw there was a Scream show on TV, I didn't have any interest, because I just thought it couldn't possible be very good--but I finally watched the first episode, and then I was hooked! It follows the same sort of theme for the movie, only with different characters and situations... and it's much longer! It's an entire season (and I believe season two comes out soon). It kind of reminds me of a more gruesome version of Pretty Little Liars in a way.

Well, there you have it! Anyone else want to share something you've been enjoying lately?

September 16, 2016

RECIPE: Cold Almond Joy Oats

This morning, instead of going for a run, I dropped off the kids at school and went right to the rec center to get in the pool. I had to be done and ready to leave the house for my therapy appointment by 9:15, so I didn't have time to meet Andrea (she can't meet until 8:45). It was pretty boring without her! I swam back and forth for a while (it felt like an hour). Every time I was swimming one direction, I could see a clock, and it seemed like the minute had wasn't even moving.

I was too embarrassed to get out of the pool after just five minutes, so I kept going. Finally, at 15 minutes in, I couldn't take it anymore. I got out and showered, then headed home to eat breakfast before going to my appointment.

I'm still on a cold oats kick. My favorite way to eat them is what I call "Cold Almond Joy Oats":

40 grams dry old fashioned oats
13 grams chia seeds
8 grams brown sugar
8 grams shredded coconut
10 grams mini chocolate chips
5 grams of cocoa powder
4 fluid ounces of whole milk
A few drops of coconut extract
A few drops of almond extract

I just put it all in a mason jar, and then seal and shake it. I throw it in the fridge for about 15 minutes, and it's ready. The chia seeds are what thicken it so quickly. (You can do it overnight, if you want, but I always forget to.)

It doesn't look very pretty, but it tastes delicious!

I've been eating breakfast outside lately, because the weather has been nice and cool. It's been in the mid-50's in the mornings! I love it.

At therapy today, C suggested that I consider going back to school. I went to college for three years, but I don't have a degree. I was a psychology major for the first couple of years at Eastern Michigan University, but then my school counselor told me that I basically couldn't do anything with a psych degree. I had no idea what I wanted to do! I switched to the community college after that, taking the required classes to apply for the nursing program. I switched programs a couple of times--dietetics, and even criminal justices--but nothing seemed like the right fit for me.

I was working at Curves at the time, and had just gotten promoted to assistant manager, which meant more money and more hours, so I decided to quit school. After having Noah, I decided to be a stay at home mom/wife, and I have never, ever regretted it. I love being at home!

Right now, the kids keep me very busy; but once they get old enough to start driving and doing things on their own, I might want to do something else. So, C suggested that I look into taking a class or two here and there, to open up my options if that day comes. The thought of it is scary, but also kind of intriguing! I think I would enjoy taking classes.

This afternoon, I looked up my transcripts from EMU. I have no idea if those classes I took will even count, because they're from so long ago! But it's a start. If I'm going to do it, though, I have to pick a major and stick with it. That will require some serious thought.

When I was 18, and in classes, there was usually a lone "old person" (ha! Probably in their 30's) and they always took the class much more seriously than us kids straight out of high school. Now I know why! If I was to go back to school, I'd BE the old person in class, and I'd BE eager to learn. ;)

Anyway, I'm not sure I'm going to do it--it's just a thought right now!

September 15, 2016

Netflix! (And steak fajita bowls)

Holy smokes. Big news, Friends... the documentary is now on Netflix!

I've already written several posts about the film itself, so I won't be redundant. But, I know that a lot of you were hoping to see the film on Netflix, so now is your chance! This is just SO CRAZY to me--me, on Netflix? What?!

I asked the other members of my From Fat to Finish Line Ragnar team if they would be interested in sharing an update about themselves, since the documentary was actually filmed a few years ago. Hopefully, I'll get something to post about them soon!

A lot of my friends have been curious if I was paid for doing the film, so I imagine some of you may be curious, too.

The answer is no--I signed a release waiving any claim to any money the film may make. That said, though, I didn't invest any of my own money, either. Jen and Angela used a LOT of money from their own pockets to produce the film, and I wasn't willing to do that. I had no idea how far this whole thing would actually go!

Also, making a documentary is very expensive, and it doesn't usually result in a big payoff. Most documentaries don't make much (if any) money. So, I have no real ties to this film other than the fact that I was in it. The team was actually made up of several of my blog readers who had written me to share their stories!

I have met some amazing people and gotten some fantastic opportunities because of this film, and I'm so, so grateful for that. The fact that it is now available on NETFLIX is terrifying, exciting, thrilling... I'm not even sure how to describe it. But anyway, if you haven't seen the film yet, and you'd like to, you have the Netflix option now ;)

And if you're a new visitor to my blog because of seeing the film... welcome! I wish I had a more exciting post up today, but much of my blog is just about my ordinary, everyday life in maintaining a large weight loss. Here is my About Me page, where you can get the gist of who I am and what my blog is all about. I would suggest starting there!

Yesterday was Jerry's birthday. He's now 36 years old. When did that happen?! We've been together for half of our lives, which just blows my mind. I was planning to make him a German chocolate cake from scratch (his favorite), but he asked me not to. He's been doing really well with his eating lately, too, and he was afraid that the cake would throw him off. After confirming that he truly did not want cake (I didn't want to not make it, if he was secretly hoping that I was going to anyway), I decided to put the effort into making a yummy birthday dinner instead.

Jerry loves Chipotle, and we don't have one around here, so I decided to make a "Chipotle bar" where we could create our own. I marinated skirt steak all day, and I made cilantro-lime rice (I just added True Lime to the cooking water, and then added cilantro after the rice was done cooking). I sliced a bunch of peppers and onions, and cooked them with a homemade fajita seasoning.

I made a spread on the counter of the steak, rice, fajita veggies, fiesta corn, seasoned black beans, lettuce, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese, and we each made our own "steak fajita bowl" for dinner.

Everything turned out so good! I dare say that it tasted even better than Chipotle. The rice was my favorite part, which is interesting, because I'm not a fan of cilantro; but, I could eat a giant bowl of that rice all by itself. Jerry was thrilled with his birthday dinner, and said he was glad there was no cake, because he was stuffed. (Also, he'd had a "birthday doughnut" for breakfast at work.)

For my close friends' birthdays, I like to share a photo collage on their Facebook walls, usually photos of the two of us together. When I was looking through pictures on my computer for Jerry's birthday, I found so many silly ones of him that I thought would make a funner collage:

These pictures span about 17 years!

Haha! He's goofy and fun-loving, and that's what I love most about him :)


September 13, 2016

Branching out the exercise

I could have sworn I wrote about Dog Day at the Pool, but I guess I didn't yet. It was so fun! As I said, the local wave pool closes for the season, and before they do, they have a "Dog Day". It's $5 to bring your dog to play in the pool for a few hours. We took Joey last year, and he loved it. I was excited to take him again.

Once again, he had a blast! He was never sure what to do, but he was so excited to be there. He kept running all over the place in the pool, grabbing toys and then promptly dropping them. Every time someone would throw a toy for their own dog, Joey saw it and ran after it, too. I wish he'd try out the deeper water, because I'm curious if he can swim, but he likes to stay where he can touch. (The owner of Lucky Puppy, his doggy daycare, said that he prefers the shallow end of the pool there as well).

Like a torpedo, right into the water

Waiting for that guy to throw the ball for his dogs ;)

Not as chaotic as you would imagine
It seems that with 70-ish dogs there, you'd see some fights break out. Can you imagine me from two years ago, when I was scared of dogs? There is no way I'd go into a fenced in area with that many dogs! The Dog Day is actually more like "controlled chaos", though. The dogs got along well, and there was a vet there looking for any signs of aggression (aggressive dogs would be asked to leave). It was just a good ol' day at the pool!

The weather has taken a GREAT turn toward fall, and I love it. Yesterday, after dropping the kids off at school, I went right from there to the state park, where I ran the 5K loop. The dew point was 52 degrees, which is SO much nicer than the 70-something dew point temps we've had lately! I am excited for the leaves to start changing color.

Last night, before cross country practice, Renee and I were talking about running and how we'd like to start thinking about incorporating more than just running into our routines. I told her that I had just been thinking about that a lot lately, and I've cut back on my mileage quite a bit. I've been looking for other opportunities to stay active. I think cutting back a bit for now will help me to get excited to train for the Indy Mini (I don't have to officially start training for that until February). Swimming has never been of interest to me, but lately I've been thinking about it more and more. I'd like to learn the proper way to swim, so I may look into classes or lessons this winter.

Today, I had plans to meet Andrea at the rec center to swim (well, Aqua Jog, if I'm being specific). I have an extra Aqua Jogger (Jerry's) that I brought with me for her to try out. I had about an hour to kill before meeting her, so I decided to just go to the rec early and run a couple of miles on the indoor track.

When I got there, I realized I had forgotten my foot pod at home. The foot pod is synced with my Garmin to give me the distance when GPS isn't available, like on the indoor track. I decided to just turn off the GPS and see if the Garmin even came relatively close to an accurate distance without using a food pod (using just the accelerometer in the heart rate strap).

Interestingly, after several laps, it was reading the same as my foot pod would have shown! I was really surprised. I had read on the Garmin site that the watch was supposed to be "smart" enough to figure it out after a while, but when I tried that on a treadmill, it wasn't even close to accurate. On the indoor track, though, it was actually very accurate! I guess there is no need for my foot pod there anymore.

After a couple of miles, I went down to the locker room to change for the pool, and then I "swam" a few laps while I waited for Andrea (I put that in quotes because I'm sure a swimmer would not call what I was doing swimming, haha). When she got there, we went in the deep end and I showed her how to use the Aqua Jogger. Then we just chatted for about an hour while we exercised, which was awesome. The time went by really quickly, and getting in the pool after running felt amazing.

Andrea loved the Aqua Jogger, so we're going to make this a regular thing. The timing worked out really well, too--I have enough time to get in a short run before going in the pool, and then I'm still home by 10 to get everything else done before the kids get home.

Today, I had plans to go out for lunch with my mom. She had a La Pita gift card, and you never really have to twist my arm to go to La Pita ;) I'm trying to be more conscious of calories now, so I ordered the shrimp appetizer. I'd gotten it once before when I went to La Pita with Eli, and I really liked it. It's butterflied grilled shrimp and vegetables with a really good marinade. I ordered a side of garlic sauce (my favorite!) for dipping. The garlic sauce had more calories than the food, but it was totally worth it! (The garlic sauce is like an aioli--basically just oil and garlic, only thickened with potato instead of egg).

The garlic sauce is that white stuff in the top right; 400 calories for that tiny cup!

The food was delicious and a good way to experience La Pita without a plate containing 1,500 calories worth of food ;)

Finally, this is a bad photo, but I just had to share this pic of Monica politely knocking on the bathroom door while Noah was in there. She is hilarious! The more we get to know her, the funnier she is.

When Estelle wants a door opened, she'll lie on the ground and slide one paw into the room. Then she uses both paws to shake the door back and forth hard, so it's loud enough to annoy us and let her in. Monica, on the other hand, has some manners ;)

September 11, 2016


I can't believe what a big difference there has been in my mood and motivation levels this week. I love having my kids home from school during the summer, but being off of a good routine makes me feel so unproductive and unmotivated. I talked to my therapist ("C") about it at my session on Friday, and she pointed out that I'm much busier during the school year, so the summertime is a big change.

I didn't realize it until this week, but it's true--I stay very busy on school days, trying to get as much done as possible while the kids are at school. In the summer, I seem to lose all motivation. That makes me feel unproductive and "useless", which leads to a depressive episode. Anyway, C gave me some ideas for how to prevent that from happening, which will be easier now that I've identified the problem.

I've had no problem staying on track with my eating this week, either. I struggled with it so much in the summer (until I finally accepted that I gain weight during the summer, and it's okay), but now I feel like it's just going how its meant to. I have a smaller appetite, and I'm not craving ice cream any more (it's so odd--in July, I felt like I could eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner).

Instead, I just made very loose "rules" for my calorie counting--six days a week, I'll eat under 2,000 calories; and once a week, I'll eat over 2,000 calories. That's it! I don't feel like I have to drop this summer weight by a certain deadline, so I'll just take it easy and see how it goes. If I need to adjust my calorie intake, then I will.

Side thought: I also realized that when I want to set a running goal, I definitely should do it for springtime rather than fall. Because I am much more productive during the fall and winter, I am able to train my best for a spring race; but if I was to choose a fall goal race, I would have a very hard time with eating well and maintaining my racing weight. My next goal race is the Indy Mini in 2017, so I have all fall and winter to get down to racing weight and train my best. I like that I don't feel pressed for time!

I'm listening to my appetite at each meal, and interestingly, my calorie intake has only been about 1,600 a day. When I was losing weight last year, I found that I had very little appetite in the fall. I had no idea why that was, but I just listened to it and went along with it. In the spring, my appetite picked up a lot, and then it peaked during the summer. I'm curious to see if this is a pattern for me each year. If it is, that will explain so much!

A big test for me was having a high-calorie day on Friday. I ate 3,000 calories, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to go back down under 2,000 the next day. But, yesterday, I ended up finishing the day at around 1,500 because I just wasn't very hungry. My body balanced everything out.

All of these "insights" really aren't new, if I think about it; but I never really looked at the pattern that is created throughout a year's time. I always tend to think in terms of weeks, rather than a whole year, so I'm curious if my appetite and calorie intake will correlate with my summer weight gain and fall weight loss. Just some "food for thought", so to speak! ;)

Lately, it's still been very humid here. It's supposed to cool down this week, thank God. I like running right after I take the kids to school, so I'll probably continue with that and then take the weekends as rest days. My friend Andrea and I also made plans to meet at the rec center a couple of days a week to swim. Each of us has back pain due to different issues, and we'd like to see if swimming will help relieve some of the pressure. I went with my kids and my mom yesterday--I can't say it really helped my back, but it was nice to do something different.

Speaking of doing something different, the Tour de Troit is on Saturday! I registered for it a long time ago, and I kind of wish I hadn't. I'm definitely not prepared, because I've ridden my bike exactly once this year. Ever since the roads around here were repaved with gravel and tar, I haven't been riding. They're terrible to ride on! One of these days, I want to buy a carrier for my car, so that I can take my bike to the Metroparks to ride.

The Tour de Troit is 30 miles, and I'm pretty sure I can do it, but my butt is going to be VERY sore on Sunday ;) It's not a race, so we can just really take our time. Jerry, Noah, and my mom are doing it with me, and I think Nathan may do it as well. I'm going to practice changing the tube in my tire once more before the ride, so I don't wind up with a repeat of last year's disaster (now watch, I won't get a single flat!).

I'm writing this early in the morning, because Jerry is off work today and we have plans to celebrate his birthday (which is on Wednesday). This morning, we're going to church to watch Noah in a church play. Then, we're taking Joey to the Dog Day at the Pool (the wave pool is closing for the season, so they let dogs swim in it before they drain it).

Pics from last year's Dog Day at the Pool

Later, I think we're going to cook out on the grill and make a campfire at home. We're broke after our vacation last week, so we're keeping it low key, but relaxing around a fire is one of our favorite things to do, so it'll be fun.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

September 08, 2016

Adopt, don't shop

This post is sponsored by Purina. As always, all my thoughts and opinions are honest.

This is a post I should have written a long time ago, but it never really occurred to me. I write about my pets often on my blog, and if I haven't made it clear, they are a huge part of my life. We currently have three cats and a dog, and I truly can't imagine my life without them!

All of our pets were strays or in a shelter before we took them in. I just don't see the point in buying a pet from a store or breeder when there are millions of pets that need homes. I also choose to adopt adult pets, because you get a good sense of their personalities; but, there are still kittens and puppies at shelters and rescues that need homes.

Phoebe is about nine years old, and we got her in 2009. She was a stray that a friend of a friend had taken in, and was going to go to a shelter if someone didn't keep her. She was missing half her tail, and had (still has) a BB under her skin from being shot with a BB gun. I know pet owners shouldn't have favorites, but if I did, Phoebe would be mine ;) It took her a while to trust us and warm up to us, but once she finally let her guard down, she became so cuddly and loving.

I sometimes think that Phoebe has a sixth sense in that she knows when one of "her people" is upset, because she is there in a flash for cuddling. After my jaw and abdominal surgeries, she wouldn't leave my side. And whenever one of the family members is upset or crying, Phoebe is like a magnet to them. She's as light as air (you don't feel it when she jumps on the bed) and as soft as a rabbit. She has the prettiest green eyes, too! Phoebe has given us a few scares (like when she went missing for four days), but I protect her the best I can. I love this cat!

Estelle is the most unique cat I've ever owned. She is about seven years old, and we got her in 2010. Again, she was a stray that needed a home. My friend Andrea said that several people in the neighborhood had been feeding her, but she didn't belong to anyone. Andrea is allergic to cats, so she convinced me to take Estelle in ;)

At first, I wondered if we'd made a mistake, because Estelle seemed almost rude. You could pet her exactly 3-1/2 strokes before she'd bite your hand, and she would then proceed to scold you with a strange series of meows. She was so odd! She's the most curious cat I've ever come across, also. If we bring anything new into the house, whether it's a big box or a bag of groceries, she's all up in there trying to figure it out.

Estelle likes to play the victim, also. She was very clear about the fact that she didn't like that we adopted a dog, and any time Joey would even walk past her, she'd meow and fall over dramatically (actually, she still does this). She's extremely dramatic, which is part of her "torti-tude" (I learned this word from a fellow tortoiseshell cat owner at a Purina event--apparently, torties are known to be vocal and have a bit of an attitude!).

Estelle's favorite place to sleep is on my shins when I have my legs up. It looks incredibly uncomfortable, but she is drawn to that spot. If I'm sitting on my hip, with my legs to the side, she balances on one of my legs. She's a very interesting cat, and we love that about her!

Monica is our newest addition. She is about eight years old, and we adopted her from an animal rescue this past June of 2016. She's a tortoiseshell, just like Estelle, but her hair is long. She absolutely adores human attention, and she loves being petted. When you pet her head, she'll rub her head all over your hand. If you dare stop before she's ready, she'll use her paw to tap you a few times on the hand to remind you to keep petting her.

Interestingly, she and Estelle get along pretty well. Estelle does not like other pets, and I was worried she'd bully Monica, but they tolerate each other better than I'd even hoped. Sometimes, I'll even find the two of them sleeping on my bed together.

Finally, we have Joey, the lone canine in our family. Adopting Joey was one of the best decisions we'd ever made! He is about 2-1/2 years old, and he's a black lab/chow chow mix. My kids absolutely adore him, and he's such a well-behaved dog! We got him from our local animal shelter, where he had been for about three months. He was brought in as a stray (which usually means the owner just didn't want him); and I feel so lucky that he was there the day we went to the shelter. The woman at the shelter said that black dogs are very difficult to adopt out, because they are "less desirable".  It's a shame that people think that way, because they could be missing out on one of the most amazing companions. Like Joey!

All of that was a very long introduction to encourage people to adopt a pet instead of buying from a pet shop or a breeder. This is something I feel very passionate about, and I can attest to the fact that pets from shelters are just as amazing as the ones from breeders, if not more so. I really believe that they know that you chose them, and they are extra grateful.

A common argument against adoption is that "You don't know what you're getting from a shelter; when you get a kitten or a puppy, you don't have to worry about its past". When we got Joey, I was a little worried about that as well, considering that I have kids to think about. However, when you get a pet from a shelter, you can go to the shelter and spend some time with him or her to see if that's the right pet for you. We asked to see a few dogs, and they brought them one by one into a room with Jerry and me. I'm sure the shelter would let you take the dog for a walk, bring your family in, etc. 

Another way to find an adoptable pet is through Petfinder. Petfinder is a website that lists literally hundreds of thousands of pets that are available for adoption. You can search by location, pet type, age, breed, etc. Some of these pets are at shelters and rescues, and some are in foster homes. As I type this, there are just under 300,000 pets on the site that are looking for forever homes (just typing that sentence brought tears to my eyes). 

If you adopt a pet that is currently in a foster home, the foster owners can tell you a lot about the pet's personality as well--so, if you're worried about whether they will get along with other pets, kids, etc, you can always ask. We actually fostered Monica at first, and then adopted her because we liked her so much. 

Petfinder is now celebrating its 20th anniversary! More than 25 MILLION pets have been adopted through Petfinder over the last 20 years. Their goal is to make pet adoption easier by connecting people with the right pets for them. 

You can find Petfinder on their website:
Twitter: @petfinder
Instagram: @petfinder

If you've been thinking about getting a pet, I strongly encourage you to at least go on the website and check out the pets that are available for adoption. It's so hard to look at the site and not want to take them ALL home! 

September 07, 2016

Back to school

Yesterday was the first day of school for my boys. Noah is now in 7th grade, and Eli is now in 5th grade. They are both at the same school this year, which makes things so convenient. They start and end school at the same time (last year, it was an hour apart), so I can drop them both off and pick them both up together.

As I establish a routine for this fall, I decided to establish a bedtime for myself in order to get more sleep. Since I get up at 6:00 with the kids, I'm going to go to bed at 10:00. And instead of watching TV before bed, I'm going to read for 30 minutes. Last night, I did just that--and this morning, I woke up without an alarm at 5:45.

The kids first day of school went really well yesterday. Eli was super excited, and Noah was super nervous, but they both had a great day. When I went to the school to pick up Eli (Noah had cross country practice after school), Noah was out there, too. He told me that he wants to quit cross country.

At first, I thought he was just being dramatic because it was so hot and humid outside, and he didn't want to run. But we talked a lot about it, and I learned that he really doesn't enjoy it. If he doesn't want to do it, I'm not going to make him do it--but I'm so sad that he doesn't like it! Noah and I don't have a lot of interests in common, and running was one thing that was relatable.

He did say that he'll continue to run three days a week, for about two miles each time, for some exercise. He said he enjoyed running when it wasn't for cross country; but running for the team made it less enjoyable (it doesn't help that practice is during the hottest time of day! Today, there was even a heat advisory from 12-8). He also said he likes racing, so I'll make sure to sign him up for a 5K every month or two. That way, he can still race, but train on his own.

I'd like him to choose another sport for school, so he's thinking about wrestling or soccer. I really hope he picks soccer! ;)

As part of my morning routine, I am getting dressed in my running clothes right when I wake up in the morning, and then run after I drop the kids off at school--before I have breakfast or do anything else. Yesterday, I came home and went for a short run (2.1 miles) outside. It was so humid and felt so difficult (it was my first run in a week) that I decided not to do the three miles I'd planned to.

Today, I dropped off the kids and went right to the rec center to run on the indoor track. At 7:00 am, it was already 74 degrees with 93% humidity! I really can't wait for fall weather. When I got to the rec center, I discovered that it felt just as hot and humid inside the building as it was outside, which was a bummer. But, since I was there, I did my run on the indoor track.

I listened to Another Mother Runner while I ran. At around mile 1.8, my knee started to hurt, which was odd. I haven't had any knee problems in a long time! The indoor track is so small (1/12 of a mile) that the constant turning to the left may have irritated my knee. So, once again, I cut the run short at two miles instead of three. I don't mind the short runs, though, as long as I am running 3+ days per week. When the weather gets more fall-like, I'll be more motivated to run more, too.

For the past couple of days, I've eaten breakfast while sitting on the front porch. We don't have a big porch (my dream house would have a huge wrap-around front porch!), so I just sat on the steps while eating my oatmeal. I have finally gotten off my Larabar kick (I was eating one for breakfast every day for about a year!) and decided to bring back oatmeal. For now, I'll eat it cold, but once it gets cold outside, maybe I'll do hot oats again.

Anyway, for my cold oats, I combined 40 grams of dry old-fashioned oats, 1/2 cup whole milk, 10 grams of chia seeds (to thicken), 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, and then a couple of add-ins. Yesterday, I added dried cranberries and coconut. (You can mix it the night before and refrigerate it, or just put it together about 10-15 minutes beforehand and let the chia seeds thicken it.)

It may not look that appealing, but it tastes really good! Today, I added raisins and cinnamon, which I liked even better. I used to do a peanut butter and chocolate version, so I'll have to try that again soon. I wrote a whole post about the different ways I eat oatmeal, which you can find here. The only change is really that I use regular milk now instead of almond milk. I also sweetened it with brown sugar, because I don't have any maple syrup right now, but you can use anything to sweeten it.

Well, I got a lot done yesterday (including a TON of vacation laundry), but I'm still super far behind on email. I'm sorry if you've written and have yet to get a response. Now that the kiddos are back in school, hopefully I can catch up on everything! :)

September 06, 2016

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

When I titled this, I chose the title because it's something my mom always used to say when we got back from vacation. I just looked it up on Google, to see if there was some sort of origin for the phrase, and apparently, it's from a nursery rhyme!

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

Anyway, we are home from vacation. Absolutely nothing went as planned, but we actually ended up having a really great time. We left home Thursday, so here is a brief rundown of our trip:


LONGEST DRIVE EVER to Hershey, Pennsylvania. It took us 10.5 hours to get there. I have no idea how I ended up booking the hotel that I did (I booked it several months ago), but when we got there, it was clear that I hadn't read the Trip Advisor reviews. It smelled very musty, and it needed a good, deep cleaning (and updating). The first room we were in had mold growing on the air vent, so we asked to be switched. The second room was just as bad, except no mold. Thankfully, we were only staying there one night! (I'd paid in advance, otherwise we would have tried to go somewhere else).

We dropped off our bags, and then headed to Hershey's Chocolate World right away because it was already 5:30 pm. The kids wanted to do the "Create Your Own Candy Bar" event, so we chose to do that and the free tour. Jerry and I decided to create each other's candy bar without looking until it was being made, just to see how well we know each other.

For the Create Your Own Candy Bar, you use a digital screen to choose the type of chocolate you want, the things to mix in, and then whether you want sprinkles on top. Then, while it's being made (you watch it go down the conveyor), you use another screen to design the label for your bar. Jerry and I designed each other's label as well.

Designing their candy bars

My candy bar on the conveyor

For Jerry, I chose white chocolate with pretzels, cookie bits, and toffee bits, topped with milk chocolate and sprinkles. We started watching it go down the conveyor belt, so we could see what each other had picked. Jerry chose the EXACT same combo for me, only with milk chocolate instead of white chocolate! We thought it was hilarious, because we are way too much alike.

Create Your Own Candy Bar was more fun than I expected it to be. After that, we looked around the shop for a little bit (SO much candy!), and then we took the free tour (you ride on a little cart, which I think is supposed to represent a cacao bean) and see the chocolate making process. They gave us a little fun size Hershey bar when we were finished.

After that, we went to get some dinner, and then went back to the hotel. Thankfully, it was nearly time to sleep, so we didn't have to hang out at the hotel much at all! ;)

We got up early so that we could be on the road by 6:00 am. The drive from Hershey to Virginia Beach took longer than anticipated, because there were three accidents that held up traffic for a long time. We ended up getting there at around 1:00, and we checked into our hotel. Thankfully, the hotel was very nice and clean! (We stayed at the Holiday Inn North Beach). We had a great balcony overlooking the ocean and pool.

There was a lot of talk about a tropical storm coming, so we headed down to the beach right away, to hopefully get to walk the boardwalk before the storm came. It was overcast and a little breezy, but I love that weather, so I thought it was great. We walked the boardwalk, and then turned around and walked back along the edge of the water. Eli was trying to catch little sand crabs (and he actually did catch a few). Jerry and I were watching these little birds run along the water, trying to catching bugs or crabs from the sand. They reminded us of a recent Pixar short called "Piper" (from the Finding Dory movie).

Then we went back to the hotel and the kids went swimming in the pools (there were three--two outdoor, one indoor). Even though it wasn't ideal "beachy" type weather, I enjoyed a margarita while the kids played. (I brought several sundresses, but I didn't get to wear any of them! I wore my "comfy long-car-ride" clothes.)

They swam for a long time, and then we went to the hotel restaurant for dinner. After dinner, Jerry took the kids to the beach again while I met up with Jen and Angela, the producers of the From Fat to Finish Line documentary. I hadn't seen them since the Ragnar in 2013! It was fun to catch up. And sadly, I didn't think to take a photo. I actually didn't take very many photos at all throughout the weekend.

Friday night, the storm got really bad. It was CRAZY windy! The power at the hotel went out, but thankfully it came right back on.

Saturday morning was the worst of the storm. We were amazed at the size of the waves in the ocean, and just how windy it was, so we decided to venture out to the boardwalk to get the full experience. We didn't stay out there long, but we walked a little of the boardwalk and briefly went down by the water to take a quick photo. We had to link arms when walking so that we didn't blow over--that's how strong the winds were!

Notice the palm tree that is knocked over

The outdoor pools were closed at the hotel, and there were SO many people in the indoor pool because of that. We decided to head to the aquarium. I was a little nervous about driving anywhere, because of the winds being so strong, but it was pretty interesting to see the effect of the storm. There were actually several porta potties on the streets (probably for the race) that were tipped over by the wind!

We spent a couple of hours at the aquarium. Eli was like our own personal guide, telling us the names of all the fish ;)

Then we went out for lunch before going back to the hotel. The kids went swimming in the indoor pool, but after that, we really weren't sure what to do. All of our plans had involved the beach! I asked Jerry if he might want to leave early, but the drive was so long getting there that I really didn't want to cut the trip short.

My friend Bonnie, from my Sole Mates Ragnar team, lives on the western side of Virginia. She had been hoping to drive to Virginia Beach for the weekend as well, but the weather wasn't exactly appealing. She'd been asking us to visit for a long time; so, I asked her if she might want some last minute company, and she was thrilled at the idea. We made plans to leave Virginia Beach on Sunday morning, and go to Bonnie's and stay there Sunday night. The kids really liked that idea, too, because Bonnie has a lot of pets and a river by her house where they could fish.

Saturday night, we went to the beach house where Jen and Angela were staying so that we could watch the documentary with them, and anyone else from the FFTFL community that wanted to. Rik and his wife, Cynthia, were there, as well as a few community members. They ordered pizza for everyone, and we chatted for a while, then watched the film. It was fun watching it with everyone, especially Jen and Rik, because they were part of the Ragnar team. We talked about a lot of the "behind the scenes" stuff and had some good laughs.

We got up early again on Sunday, and were on the road by 6:00 to go to Bonnie's. Her house was a 5.5 hour drive from Virginia Beach, and 8.5 hours from my house, so it worked out really well. If we'd stayed in VB another night, we'd have a 13+ hour drive home on Monday; this way, we only had an 8.5 hour drive for Monday.

It was so exciting to see Bonnie! The last time I saw her was at our Sole Mates reunion in Indy in 2015. She was thrilled to have us there, and I finally got to meet her husband, Tim. Bonnie made us a fantastic lunch, and then we went to the river to go fishing. The boys fished while Bonnie and I caught up, and thankfully, Eli caught a fish! I knew it would make his whole weekend if he could catch one. (While I was yelling to Jerry to take a picture of Eli with his fish, Eli dropped it back in the water, so there is no picture.)

We spent the evening at Bonnie's, where Tim cooked amazing steaks on the grill for dinner. My kids loved playing with Bonnie's pets (she has two dogs and nine cats!). I wish we could have stayed longer, but the kids started school today (Tuesday), so we had to leave on Monday morning.

Another LONG car ride home. We got home at around 5:15, and I was exhausted. There is something about riding in a car that is so tiring, which makes no sense. My mom made us dinner, which was so nice! The last thing I wanted to do was cook. We had the kids get their stuff ready for school, and then headed to bed on the early side.

Even with the hotel in Hershey, the long car rides, and the tropical storm, we actually had a fantastic weekend! We spent some quality time together as a family, and I'm so happy I got to see Bonnie. Today starts the back-to-school routine, though, and I'm looking forward to it :)

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