Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Healthy Meals!

Many of you know that I have a cooking blog, where I try to make healthy, creative, and cultural food. I recently made this post on my food blog as a "Resolution Helper" that contains links to my recipes that are of classic dishes made lighter, and some inventions that are healthy.

I have so many people ask me about food and calorie count, so I thought this might be a good list! All of the dishes are linked to my cooking blog posts.

Lightened-Up Classic Recipes (all linked to the post)

Healthy Recipes from My Kitchen (all linked to the post)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reader Question/Updates/Plans!

Today's Reader Question comes from: sunflowerramos!

I would love to know your eating/exercise habits.
My exercise habits have changed throughout my weight-loss journey. At first, I was soley using the elliptical and walking my dog. That took me through the first 50 lbs. After that, I started running with the C25K. Then I started using The Shred. I like to change it up depending on the season, and how my body feels.
In the very beginning, I was more focused on cardio and building up resistence and working out longer. Also, I bought an elliptical, so I mostly did that.
After I got bored with the elliptical, and the weather was nice, I started C25K.
Then I wanted to start doing weight training for some muscle definition, so I started The shred.
Now, I use a mixture of everything, some days I run and shred, some I just shred, some I just run, some I swim at the Y. I try to do something every day, no matter how short (20 min. shred) or long (2 hour walk with Pumpkin).

My eating habits have been pretty much the same throughout, I've just recently upped my calories.
Here is a snipet from another post where I talked about food and my food blog:
"I try to keep my dinner to 700 calories each night. I also try to make sure I have one starch, one lean protein, and 2-3 vegetables. From the healthy living standpoint, I use almost no pre-packaged products (with the exception of coindiments) and I use minimal canned vegetables or pre-made sides. If there is a specific recipe you want a caloric breakdown for, please ask! Also, most of my meals are made for 2-3 servings (so my husband has some extra). "

Do you use a journal?
For ther first 50 lbs, I used a journal. It really helped me track my food and exercise. It also had a glossary in the back that had calorie counts for common fruits, veggies, meats and starches.
Here is a snipet from a previous post that I wrote about the journal:
"The journal I used, I Will Lose Weight This Time, is set up like a reference book with helpful tips, as well as a guide to calories and fat in certain foods, it also has interactive sections where you can record your weight loss goals, it encourages many small goals. It also has a place for you to put your measurements and a picture.I used the food diary section for the first 3 months of my weight loss process, just so I could get used to counting calories and remembering how many were in each food I ate. It also has little stickers for you to put on the day when you did a good job!The daily journal has a place for your weight, foods you've eaten, and exercise, so you can keep track of it all."

Back in the day when I was starting my weight loss, I would weigh myself on Friday and Monday, hoping to see a -1 each time. Then I started to slow down, and only weighed on Friday, hoping to see -1. Now that I've got momentum working and I've been doing well, I'm going to try to get off the last 19 (yes, I'm down one more!) in the same fashion. It is an unfortunate time (CHRISTMAS!!!) to try to lose the weight, but since my body seems to be working the way I want it to right now, I'm not going to try to hold off and maintain until after Christmas.
It's so interesting how the body works, some months it's torture to lose 1 lb., sometimes I'll take off 2-3 in a week when it seems like I'm just sort of trying.

and now, Plans!
My plan for the last 10 is to have a big old countdown going on, and put in lots of photos of me along the way. Since I'll be at my parents for Christmas, I'll try to gather some photos that mark the lbs. along the way. Now I still have 9 to lose before this starts, but I'm getting really excited. I'm going to need everyone's support, especially now and during the next 2-3 months!

So this might be my last post until after the holidays. I want to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year! Be safe, indulge a bit, have a great time with family and friends, and workout hard!

As an aside,
I am so floored by the support and amazing comments you all left on my 'reward outfit' post! Seriously, it meant so so so much to me. I can't thank you all enough. It's been a long journey, and I'm excited that we're so close to hitting that -100!!! I really do feel so great, and I really appreciate the motivation you all provide.

So I'll leave you with a few photos from our Christmas card session back in November!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My reward outfit :)

With Christmas parties upon us, as well as church and dinners, I wanted to have a nice new outfit to wear because I keep under-growing my clothes! Since I hit -80, I decided to go out and buy something nice for myself. Money is tight, but I had some great coupons... and I deserve it!

So I went to The Limited - one of my favorite stores, because I had a 50% off coupon. I saw the black top, which I LOVED, but couldn't find any skirts or pants that matched.... until I found white pants. Now I've had an aversion to white pants my whole life because 1. only skinny people should wear them, and 2. i am accident prone. JJ convinced me to at least try them on. Well when I put the whole outfit on, I absolutely LOVED it.

I know, to some people white pants is like - - - whatever. Pants are pants. But for me, it's just another super duper high feeling, and it makes me sooooo happy that I've been working so hard. Shopping is so much more fun now when I can go into a store and literally try on anything, and it's not the biggest size they have!

So anyway, there's the new outfit (and the boots were $15 at rack room (another 50% off coupon on already marked 50% off boots!) I clearly don't know how to pose in a photo of just myself... but oh well!

Friday, December 12, 2008


After hovering around the 77-78 lb. lost mark, I finally hit -80 lbs. this morning!
I was kind of in shock... I've been trying really hard to eat less because I haven't been working out as much (stupid cold weather)! So I was hoping to maybe lose 1 or 2 at the most, but I got 3 and hit -80!
So now I'm down to 20 to go. And at the worst time for me, really. Christmas + New Years + Cold Weather = Hard to lose weight!!! I love summer when the produce is fresh and the air is warm and I'm so much more inclined to be active... But no excuses, clearly I can do it.

Now I'm off to go run on the treadmill (boo) - but Sunday it's supposed to be 53! Hopefully I'll get in 4.6 outside then!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Running Shoes! (and the funny story that got me them....)

Since I started running, I knew that my adidas crosstrainers weren't perfect, but were still nice shoes. I wanted to get a pair of running shoes, but I heard they were very expensive. And really, did it matter that much if I, a non-competitive "runner", had running shoes? I didn't think so, but my dad had a different take on that...

About 2 months ago, my sister, brother-in-law, mom and dad all came out to Bloomington to visit. My sister had planned on going running with me Saturday morning, but didn't want to get up as early as I did, so I went without her. Well after I got back from running 4 miles (my longest to date then) I was so happy, and bragged a little to my dad. He then decided to go for a run while I got breakfast ready, and Kristine decided to go with him - one problem, she forgot her running shoes! Luckily, we're about the same size, so she borrowed my adidas'. When they returned from their 5 mile run, she stormed in the house and proceeded to tell me my shoes were crap, how could I possibly run in them, and I NEEDED to get proper running shoes...

Before my parents left that weekend, my dad told me he was so proud of my running accomplishments, and he wanted to buy running shoes for me. He told me that when I came home at Thanksgiving, we'd go buy them because Bob Ronkers, a shoe store in Cincinnati, and the location of registration pick-up, had a store wide sale the day before the race. I was so happy, I'd finally get running shoes!

So fast forward to last Wednesday - my mom, dad, JJ and I went to Bob Ronkers to pick up the numbers and get new shoes. My dad told me a sales person would come up to me and I should tell them it was my first pair, and they would ask me questions and fit me properly. So I was browsing through the shoes when someone came up to me - his name was Bob. He introduced himself and we chatted for 15 minutes about my running and what I was looking for. He then sized me and went to the back room to find some shoes he thought would be good for me. My dad came over with a big smile on his face and said, "Thats Bob!!!" (as in Bob Ronkers, the owner!) He then spent another half an hour with me while I tried on a few brands of shoes and different sizes, he took me to the back room and had me walk on the incline, and he gave me a great pep talk for the 10k the next day. He even told me that I would be OK to wear my new shoes!

So I ended up getting Nike Air Pegesus shoes! They were stickered at $85 there, and we got them 20% off - a great deal! I HIGHLY recommend anyone in Cincinnati shop at Bob Ronkers for their running shoes and apparel, as that was all on sale too. Bob even recommended some socks to me, explaining that cotton was not desirable for running as it held moisture. I ended up with zero blisters and no foot pain at the race!

Well, Kristine didn't take well to my dad buying me new running shoes and not her, she suggested it was all a ploy to make it into the blog - lol. How many people even read this? I don't know... but it's funny to me. So THANKS first and foremost to Kris. If you never complained about my 'crappy not running shoes', Dad never would have offered to get me new ones! Thanks to Dad, for buying me my first pair of big girl running shoes! Thanks to Bob Ronkers for helping me find a fantastic pair of shoes, and for telling me I'd be ok to wear them at the race!

Here's a photo of Kris, Dad and I at Thanksgiving... see, you're both in the blog equally :)

and PS - to anyone wondering, around 12,000 people ran the T-day race, so they give you a chip to put on your shoe that calculates when you start and finish - there were so many people I didn't even cross the start line until 10:40!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

10k Race Results!

The results are in! For the first time I ran the ENTIRE 10k race and finished with a time of 1:09:18! I am so thrilled because I was hoping to finish under 70 minutes, and I just made it!
Here is where you can see all of the results from the race, I was bib # 8139.

The race was perfect, it was chilly, sunny, and gorgeous in Cincinnati. The course was the same as usual, so it was comfortable. There are 4 hills on the course, and I even jogged up all of them! I was so worried because my longest run before this was 4.6 miles, but I didn't feel like I was really struggling to keep going until the last half mile. However, at mile 6 I saw that I was 3 minutes away from a total time of 70 minutes, so I had to pick it up and make it in time!

I got new running shoes the day before (to be posted at a later time) and the owner told me I should be ok to wear them, and I was! They were so comfortable and they really did feel great the entire race.

Next year, I'm hoping to complete the 10k in 65 minutes, but I'm doing my next 10k in April, so if I can cut a few minutes off for that one, I might even get down to 60 (It's the 100th running of the 10k, so I'd love for my time to be 1:00!)

We didn't get any pictures at the race, just in the car before. As you can see, my sister and husband were not thrilled about photos...but when the professional ones are posted, I'll see if I can get some of them on here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Awful Run!

So I was all set to do my 5.5 mile run on Saturday morning. I slept in until 8:30, got dressed and left the house. I ran down to the trail to add the extra .9 miles rather than drive down and start at the trailhead. I was wearing my usual outfit, capri yoga pants and a long sleeve t-shirt. What I didn't realize when I left the house, was it was 17 degrees out. I knew it was colder than normal, but didn't think it was THAT cold. The cold really didn't hit me until I was 1.75 miles in. My bare calves started to burn and feel like knives were stabbing them. I was also sweating a bit on my neck, and my sweat was freezing on my neck! So I decided to turn around and go home. I walked for ten seconds, then decided no, I need to do this! So I turned back around and jogged for another minute until I HAD to turn around.

So I jogged back home and when I got in, I felt like I was dying. My legs were bright red and my face was on fire, but freezing. JJ immediately turned on the weather channel and was like Ash, I can't believe you went running when it's 19 degrees now!
So yeah, I don't think I'll ever run again in 17-19 degree weather... or at least I'll bundle up more! So now I'm even more nervous about the 10k on Thursday because my longest run is still 4.6! We'll see how it goes...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Save a Life!

Giving blood has been somewhat of a struggle for me my whole life. I'm not good with needles and seeing blood. I had a very traumatic experience my first time giving blood because I HAD to do it. I was having reconstructive jaw surgery, and they needed to have some of my blood on hand in case a transfusion was necessary during surgery. I think because I went in with the mindset that I had to do it, I freaked out a bit.
My dad is an avid donator, and went with me. He tried to offer support, and in true competitive fashion, race to get the blood out, but it didn't help.

A year later, I was in high school and we were having a blood drive. Because it was during class, I decided to give it a try. Who doesn't want to miss class, right? So I had breakfast that morning at 6:30am, and went to give blood during lunch and 6th period. I told them I had eaten lunch, but that was a lie, I just wanted to donate and get out of class. Well, having not eaten for 6 hours and then donating blood made me so sick. I almost fainted, I got the chills, I was sweating and turned pale white when I finished.

Since I'm type O blood, the center was always calling the house to see if I wanted to schedule a donation... one day I finally gave in. I had to do it on a Saturday and the only center that was open on a Saturday was on the north side of Cincinnati, about 45 minutes from my house. It was the day before my birthday, a Saturday in May - you know, the beginning of tornado season...
So of course, the weather was iffy as I drove to tri-county, but by the time I was in the chair donating, the storms were heavy and the tornado sirens started going off!!! So I finished giving, and I actually felt OK this time, but I had to wait at the center for 2 hours until the storms passed and the sirens stopped going off.

That was the last time I donated, 4 years ago!

Now that I work at the YMCA, and the Red Cross comes here about once a month for Blood Drives, I always feel guilty for not going. So yesterday I saw them coming and decided to bite the bullet and just do it. Well it went flawlessly! My tech was awesome, I barely felt the needle, and I was able to stay calm and squeeze without feeling like the needle was going to pop out! I made sure I ate a banana at 8:30 (I was set to donate at 9) and I had eaten oatmeal for breakfast at 7, so I knew I wouldn't get sick.
I told the tech how brave I was being (lol) and she even gave me a pin (but she said I have to donate again when I'm able to, I think 56 days?)

So why is this in my fit blog? Well, I'm all about being healthy as a whole. It's not just diet and exercise, it's about mental health and spiritual. I am so glad that I was able to donate and hopefully help save a life! I also did a little research and found out that some researchers believe it's good for the body to donate blood and be forced to produce more!

Here's an excerpt from an article on cnn.com
"Each time you give blood, you remove some of the iron it contains. High blood iron levels, Sullivan believes, can increase the risk of heart disease. Iron has been shown to speed the oxidation of cholesterol, a process thought to increase the damage to arteries that ultimately leads to cardiovascular disease."

So if I can do it after 3 AWFUL experiences, YOU CAN TOO! Here is a link to a website where you can search for blood drives in your area. I've also seen some that raffle off gift cards and prizes when supply is really low (I'll have to look for one of those next time!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

T-minus 1 week & 2 lbs.

Well one week from tomorrow is my 10k! I'm getting a little nervous. I was doing really well with my distance building, but for the past 3 weeks I've not attempted more than 4.6 miles! I have been doing lots of hill training, but not distance...
Why? Well my trail is only 4.6 miles, I've been out of town and had to run on my parents trail (which is 3.5 + once around the block = 4.2) and it's FREAKIN FREEZING!!!

So as of now, my longest is 4.6, and I have to run 6.2 in 8 days... I'm a little worried! I'm hoping to do 5.5 this weekend (run from my house to my trail, then run the trail and back to my house) but I think that's the farthest I'll go...eek!

And a little weight update: I'm 2 lbs. away from -80, so I'm hoping when I weight myself friday morning I'll be down 2 (or at least 1) because I'd like to hit my -80 by Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's ALL mental!

For the past month, I've been training pretty hardcore (for my standards) for my 5k yesterday and my upcoming Thanksgiving Day 10k. I usually run 3-4 miles on Sat. and Sun. mornings, and Wed. afternoon, then run 1.5 miles around the block with Pumpkin and shred during the week.

So yesterday was my 5k race, it went really well, did a bit below what I wanted on the time (the last .1 mi. was uphill and I was also cramping, but running 3 miles on Saturday morning is standard. Because I was in race mentality though, at the end I was so exhausted from running this long race... and I needed water and food and Starbucks... which I never NEED when I run at home on the weekends...
Then this morning, JJ wanted to go for a run b/c he needs to train for the T-day race, so I begrudgingly went and told him I was going to do 4 miles, even though I ran the 5k yesterday (like it was such a feat!)...
Then it hit me! This is what I do every weekend... just because I was in race doesn't mean I ran any futher or harder or longer yesterday, and doesn't give me a free pass for today, because if it was any other weekend, I probably would have done 4 yesterday and 5 today!

It's times like this when it really hits me - IT'S ALL MENTAL!!!

Ok, I'm done. I just need to remember that when I get to mile 5 on November 27 and want to cry/quit :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

5K Results!

I had such a great race today! It was really cold, but by the end of the race I was warmed up! The weather was overcast and 45 degrees, and the course was pretty hilly. I was the 42nd woman to finish, and my time was 32:42... pretty good! I was hoping finish around 31:00, but considering I was not feeling so good today, I'm happy!
I think there were around 1,000 people there, but I'll get the numbers at work on Monday!
Here's an action shot JJ took right before I finished

Here I am at the start line waiting for the official go

And freezing my butt of before the race!

Friday, November 7, 2008

5k tomorrow!

My first race of the season is finally here! After being rained out in June, and out of town during the Race for the Cure, I finally have a 5k to run!
Unfortunately the forecast is 40 and drizzly, so I'm not looking forward to it much. I also drove the course and it's pretty hilly, so I'm glad I've been working on the hills in my neighborhood!
I'm thinking I'll finish around 33:00 as the hills and weather will slow me down from my original goal of 30:00.
To everyone else racing tomorrow, good luck and have fun :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Avon 40 Mile Breast Cancer Walk

When I was in college, I joined Zeta Tau Alpha. Our national philanthropy is Breast Cancer Awareness. Throughout my college years, I volunteered at many Race for the Cure events, as well as Think Pink! Basketball and Football events at school. I supported the cause, loved the pink ribbon gear, but was never touched by breast cancer, until November 2007, when my mom was diagnosed with it.
She had a lumpectomy, completed radiation the week before my wedding, and began chemo right after Christmas last year. She was a trooper, and beat the cancer! Thankfully there were many women before her, as well as organizations like Zeta, who have supported awareness and raised money for research.
My mom has always enjoyed walking as a form of exercise, and decided that her way to pay it forward was to do the Avon 40 Mile Breast Cancer Walk in Charlotte, NC. She was drawn to this event because it's not a race, it's an event to raise awareness, with most of the money going to research in the city where the event is held (there are about 10 nationwide).
She raised around $9,000! About 1,300 people participated, raising over 2.5 million dollars!

The event was held on a Saturday and a Sunday, with 26 miles the first day and 13 the second. It's not like a race where the roads are closed off, it begins in downtown and winds through the suburbs of Charlotte. There are designated cheering sections every 2 miles or so, where there are rest stops or quick stops with drinks, snacks, toilets, and first aid.
It was extremely well organized, and so much fun!
There were not many spectators because it's on open roads, but I followed Mom and her friend Cindy as they walked from stop to stop. It rained Saturday, so my mom had me wait at mile 13 with dry shoes and socks for her... but not many people had that option as they didn't bring cheerleaders!

I also was lucky to have 3 of my wonderful sorority sisters join me at one of the stops to cheer for mom!

Overall, it was a long, tiring, but AMAZING weekend, full of great stories, inspiration, and awareness. All of the women my age are very lucky to have the women a decade or two ahead of them working so hard to find a cure so we don't have to face this awful disease.

I highly recommend checking into any race that supports a cause, not only is it good for your body, but it's good for your spirit, and that's exactly what a truly healthy lifestyle is about!

Thanks, Mom :) I'm proud of you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

10K Playlist

Here is my newest playlist for 10k training. There are some new, some old, some embarassing... but whatever keeps me running hard, right? This playlist is an hour, so I'll need to add 2-3 songs eventually to make 70 minutes...

Let's Get It Started - Black Eyed Peas
I Love Rock N Roll - Britney Spears
Bombastic Love - Britney Spears
Stronger - Britney Spears Oops I Did It Again
Candyman - Christina Aguilera
Mercy - Duffy
Wonderful World - James Morrison
I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
You And I Both - Jason Mraz
The Remedy - Jason Mraz
Four Minutes - Madonna Ft Justin Timberlake
Sunday Morning - Maroon 5
How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty
Laid - Matt Nathanson
Sing Me Sweet -Matt Nathanson
Car Crash - Matt Nathanson
So What - Pink
Our Song - Taylor Swift

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Say hello to my little (running) friend...

Sadly, my iPod died a slow death over the past few months... the screen died, the battery wouldn't charge, the screen came back to life, then a big black spot took over, then the battery just completely died :( I had to say goodbye to my nano, who lived a good 3 years and ran many miles with me...
I started running without an iPod, and sort of got used to it, but still found it to be a challenge. Then I ran one morning with JJ's iPod, and I ran faster and further than ever... I knew I'd have to bite the bullet and get one.
We're on a super tight budget, but once before I took a gamble with money for my health, and it paid off (I took $500 out of my wedding savings to buy my elliptical, which helped me lose the first 50 lbs.) So I decided to take $150 out of our house down payment savings and buy an iPod. She's so pretty, has 8x more memory than my old nano, and can play movies, and is pink!
I am so happy to finally have a nano again as it really does have a huge impact on my runs... and with 2 10k's coming up, I can use all the help I can get!
Note: That photo was taken right after a run and level 3 of the shred last night.... so I look awful!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Map My Run

I've never used the website www.mapmyrun.com before because I always run on trails that have mile markers. Since I'll be in Hickory this weekend and I should do a 5 mile run, I decided to map out a course for myself while I'm at Lenoir-Rhyne. It was a really fun site to use, and I think I planned out a course with some decent hills and I get to run all around campus... which I miss TERRIBLY!!!
I'm so excited to see my friends, go to a football game, and cheer my mom on at her Avon Breast Cancer walk... so don't count on any updates for a week!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Organic Eating

I've had readers ask me about eating organic, how to choose what you should buy organic, and what the benefits are.

Of course I'd say buy all organic when possible because who wants extra chemicals in their body, but I know with cost and availability, it's not always an option.

I have spent a lot of time reading up on organics, as well as listening to the advice of my sister. My whole family is very passionate about eating organic, supporting local farmers and eating local produce, and fair trade. My sister has a blog called It's Easy Being Green, where she occasionally blogs about living green! I encourage you to check it out.

She published a top 10 organics you should purchase list, and here it is.

Top 10 Organics you should purchase:

1. Tomatoes
2. Potatoes
3. Grapes
4. Lettuce
5. Strawberries
6. Celery
7. Peppers
8. Apples
9. Peaches
10. Pears

For the most part, it's my understanding that if you eat the skin of something, it's best to go organic. I always buy organic canned tomatoes and beans, and not on the list, carrots.
The top 10 safest non-organics are as follows:

1. Asparagus
2. Avocados (pesticide can't be absorbed through thick skin)
3. Bananas (pesticide remains on the peel)
4. Broccoli (crop faces fewer threats, farmers use less chemicals)
5. Cabbage
6. Kiwi fruit (thick peel, again)
7. Mango
8. Onions (few threats)
9. Papaya
10. Pineapple

Reader Question Answered

Erika asks: When you started C25k did you use the C25k podcast? your watch? how did you calculate it?

When I did the C25K, I set up a playlist on my iPod called C25k that was about 35 minutes, I would start the music when I got to the trail, and then would use the Extras>Stopwatch>Timer on my iPod once I began running. I would remember in my head what the time patterns were (like 3 min run, 1 min walk, or whatever) and then I would watch the timer and when it hit the time where I'd start walking, I would walk, then watch for 1 min to be up and start running. I never had trouble remembering because I just naturally remember numbers... but my husband tried using that method and couldn't add or would forget when to run and walk, so he started using the stopwatch and would stop and start it to time the 3 mins and then 1 min, or whatever the breakdown was.
I have never tried a C25K podcast, but if you try one and like it, let me know!
Hope this helps :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Today I ran 4.6 miles without stopping or dying, in 50:26! Even though from miles 3.5-4.5 I cursed running, runners, marathons, and my upcoming 10k's...
4.6 miles may seem like an odd amount, however that's the distance of our trail to the end and back. When I started my 5k training back in May, I only dreamed that one day I'd be able to run the entire trail. It seemed so far, so long, so hard!!! It's taken me months, but finally, I did it.
I have a hard time with self confidence, but today I can honestly say I'm so proud of myself :)
(And I also bought myself 2 pairs of pants off the sale rack for Christmas last night a size smaller than I wear now for some extra motivation!!!)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

4 Miles!

As I said, my next race is the Fall Classic Run at the YMCA. I found out at work that it's a 5k or a 10k, so I decided to shoot for the 10k, and if I feel like I can only do a 5k that morning, that's what I'll do. So yesterday I decided to run 4 miles, giving me 4 weeks to pick up 2 more miles. I was a little worried about finishing 4 miles, but I ended up finishing it just fine, and pushing myself for speed the whole time! I ran it in 42:10! I am so happy with my time, however conditions were perfect, it was 60 degrees and breezy, overcast, and I stole my husbands iPod, which definitely helps me run better and faster.
It just confirmed in my mind that I'm going to have to figure out a way to buy a new iPod (mine died a few weeks ago...sad) if I want to be able to run 2 10k's in November...
So next weekend I'm going to shoot for 4.5 miles on Saturday...but I don't think it will be a problem!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reader Questions Answered:

Today I'll answer questions from "K" and Melissa...

Ashlee- I love your blog and always love to read your opinions! What is your opinion on organic eating and eating clean in general? Also do you keep a food journal and an exercise journal?
I'm glad someone likes my opinions :) On eating organic - I try to eat as much organic foods as possible, but also stay within my budget (my husband is in grad school, after all!) My sister is much more educated than I am on organics, but she often gives me lists of the best foods to eat organic, and those are usually items where you eat the skin. I always buy organic milk and I'm trying out different yogurts to see which I like best (right now the price tag on yogurt is a killer!) I always buy organic canned tomatoes, apples, peaches, grapes, carrots, celery, stock, and beans. I also try to always buy organic meat (beef and chicken) but again, the price sometimes is just too much.
I pretty much eat a clean diet, which means I consume no processed foods or prepackaged things. A few easy ways to do this are stay on the perimiter of the grocery store when you food shop! It's where all of the fresh ingredients are. I make all of my sauces from scratch, and even make things like hummus and salsa at home. I think eating clean is the way to go! You're constantly pumping your body with good for you anti-oxidants and natural forms of vitamins and minerals.

And Melissa asked
I would love to hear more about your day to day life, how your new job is going, how you met JJ, etc. On the weight loss front, what have been your biggest challenges that you have faced along the way, and how have you overcome them?
First off, my new job is fantastic. I absolutely love it, I'm doing a lot of the same kind of work, but it's in the best work environment. The people here are what really make it a great place to be! I also love the benefits of a Y membership!
How I met JJ, well JJ and I met the second night of school our freshman year of college in the lobby of our dorm. The cable wasn't working in both of our rooms, so we went down to the lobby to watch the Bristol NASCAR race on the big screen. We started talking and hit it off... and the rest is history :) We're coming up on our 1 year anniversary December 1, and just celebrated our 5 year dating anniversary on Sept. 3!
At first, my biggest challenges were portion control and exercising daily. Now that I am doing well with those things, I've found my newest challenge to be making healthy eating choices in social situations and at holidays. Last Christmas, like most people, I put on 10 lbs. and then I had to spend all of January working out to get rid of 10 lbs. I had already lost! Since my goal is to reach -100 by February, I know this holiday season is going to be rough. I will allow myself to indulge, but at the same time, I won't allow myself to indulge every night and eat every Christmas cookie I lay eyes on!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Next Race Scheduled!

I finally found a great race for me to run to get in the competitive spirit for my Thanksgiving Day 10k - the Fall Running Classic 5k at the YMCA where I work! It is on November 8, about 3 weeks before my 10k. I'm really excited that I'll have a chance to get a race in before the big one, as training has been on the back burner lately.

I've found myself wanting to be in maintenance mode lately. I'm so proud of how far I've come, and I'm trying to keep losing, but I feel like this could easily be my leveling off weight... However, I'm still techinically 20 pounds overweight, so for health reasons, I'm going to try to keep pushing. I know it will just get harder and harder as I get closer, but I think I've got the right mindset still, and I definitely want to lose another 10 lbs. before holiday season is here - which is my next challenge!
PS - Thank you so much to all of my loyal readers. I really appreciate all of your support and condolences about my Grandpa.
Also, please keep your questions/comments coming so I have material to blog about! It's been slow here because I'm just not feeling as inspired lately!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Since a few of you have asked for a quick update, here it is. Before the bakesale and funeral, I was at -77.5. Then I gained about 4-5 lbs. After being home a week and working out, I lost 2 lbs. (last Friday) taking me back to -75.
I weigh myself once a week (Friday) and I'm hoping to pull another 2 lbs., but if it's only 1, I'll still be happy!
Right now I'm hoping to lose 1-1.5 lbs per week for 4 months, taking me to my goal of -100 by Feb. or so.
I'm not going to try to drop it all too fast b/c then it's more likely to come back on just as fast, but who knows.... with weight loss, sometimes the math just doesn't add up and the body does strange things :)
I'll be sure to post Friday after I find out my new number!

In the mean time, here's a picture from last weekend of Kris (aka my role model and big sister) and me...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Set Backs...

Sometimes in life, you can't plan things. This week my Grandpa passed away, and we had to make a trip to Virginia Beach for his funeral. Being an emotional eater, I hit the desserts hard... So when I got on the scale this morning, I was up 7 lbs. I'm sure a little is water weight and will come off quick, but I would imagine I gained 4 lbs. So now I have a bit of a setback...
The old Ash would have quit. But, the new Ash is going to get back up, put on my big girl jogging pants, and go run.
Yeah, it sucks that now I have to take off another 4 lbs, but what can you do?
Life will always have little set backs.
I just hope the shred and 3 mile run today isn't too hard... wish me luck, it's been a week since I exercised :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Biggest Loser

Ever since this show started, I had wanted to be a contestant. I love competition, I love challenges, I love motivational groups, and I especially love Jillian and Bob.

If you're just beginning a lifestyle change, hoping to lose weight, I'd check this show out! It's so motivational. I used to always watch it while ellipticalling because I would honestly push harder and get a much better workout in. When I'm running on the trail, I hear Jillian in the back of my head with some of her catch phrases - 'push it out,' when I'm doing lunges 'sink it down'!

In the beginning of the season, they show the contestants meeting with doctors to find out what diseases they have, or are on track to get. This resonates with me because the fear of disease is one of the main reasons I started my weight loss. My grandpa has diabetes, my grandparents all have heart disease, high blood pressure, and many other diet/exercise related illnesses. I love my grandparents dearly, but I didn't want to follow in their footsteps in that reguard.

I still am sad I never was able to be a contestant, because I honestly believe I would do amazingly well, but at the same time I'm so proud of myself for doing this on my own, and not even qualifying to be a contestant anymore!

I highly recommend tuning in, and watching it while exercising! I know I will be.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

10k Training

Every Thanksgiving, my family walks or runs the 10k race in Cincinnati. This year is the 99th running of the T-day 10k! Usually my dad and older sister run the entire race, my husband, brother in law, and younger sister walk/run, and my mom walks. I've run/walked it the past 2 years at a little bit slower pace than the sister/husband/brother in law group. The first year I did the 10k in 90 minutes (mostly walking), the last year I did it in 78 minutes, this year I'm hoping to run the entire race in 70 minutes, allowing for an 11 minute mile.

I love the course, it winds through downtown Cincinnati, then over the bridge to Kentucky, then back to Cincinnati around Paul Brown Stadium (where the Bengals play) and finishing in front of Great American Ball Park (where the Reds play). Cincinnati is quite hilly, and there is a pretty substantial uphill section at the very beginning, then around mile 2 you go up a bridge, and around mile 5, you go back over to Ohio, up another looooong bridge. Those are my 3 worry areas, but I think I'll be OK as I've been doing some hill training in my neighborhood and my parents when I'm home in Cincinnati.

I'll be loosely following Hal Higdon's 10k training program, where I'll be doing 2-3 runs per week around 3-4 miles, and my long run on Saturday or Sunday, building up by .5 miles each weekend. I'm going to do a 10k dry run probably 2 weeks before the race.
I've also found 2 5k races to run between now and then to get myself pumped up about the competition, as my family is VERY competitive :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fajita Pasta

Melissa asked me to post the caloric breakdown in a recent dinner of mine, Fajita Pasta! It was absolutely delicious and quite healthy! As you know, I'm a big eater, so I go for bulk (lots of veggies) and even 1.5 servings of pasta, because the calories allow it! I use the Smart Taste pasta in a purple box, it has added calcium, fiber, and protein, which are 3 things I have trouble getting into my diet. It's also 170 calories/serving, when most pastas ate 200!

Here it is, Melissa! Enjoy :)

Fajita Pasta
½ lb. Rotini or any short cut pasta (3 servings, 595 calories)
½ lb. 99% fat free ground turkey (2 servings, 280 calories)
2 cloves minced garlic (10 calories)
½ red onion, sliced (30 calories)
1 c. sliced button mushrooms (30 calories)
1 zucchini, sliced (30 calories)
1 red bell pepper, sliced (25 calories)
1 green pepper, sliced (25 calories)
1 jalapeno, sliced (10 calories)
Salt and Pepper
1 15 oz. can organic diced tomatoes (75 calories)
2 tbsp. taco seasoning mix (I had Penzeys on hand) (5 calories)
1/4 c. 2% shredded cheddar cheese (70 calories)
Chopped cilantro, Sour Cream or Guacamole for garnish (These vary, so you will have to check the pakage)

TOTAL CALORIES - 1,185, per seving - 592

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt heavily, cook pasta until al dente. Drain, and pour into a large casserole dish.In a large skillet, cook turkey over medium heat, season with salt and pepper. When cooked, pour into the casserole dish with pasta.
In the same skillet, add mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, onion, and garlic. Sautee veggies for 10-15 minutes, until they’re tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour into the casserole dish.Add tomatoes and taco seasoning to casserole; stir well to mix all ingredients.
Top with cheddar cheese and put in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until cheese is melted and pasta is bubbly.
Plate and serve with garnishes.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Large lunch calls for a small supper...

I usually stick to my small lunches and save up my calories for dinner, but every now and then I have to have a larger than normal lunch. On my first day of work, my co-workers took me to lunch and I had a soup/sandwich combo. Since I estimated it was around 750 calories, I had to keep dinner small, but filling. The best way? Loads of veggies! I made a salad with lots of filling iceberg lettuce, a lowfat dressing, and some black beans for protein. In all the salad was around 350 calories!
Lettuce (2 c.)- 30 calories
Tomatoes (1 medium) - 25 calories
Red Pepper (1/2) - 30 calories
Red Onion (1/4 c. diced) - 15 calories
Corn (1/4 c.) - 40 calories
Black Beans (1/2 c.) - 110 calories
Lime Juice (half of a lime) - 5 calories
Cilantro (2 tbsp. minced) - 5 calories
Dressing - 50 calories
(1 tbsp. sour cream, 1/4 tsp. ranch dressing seasoning, 1/4 tsp. taco seasoning, splash of skim milk)
Cheese (2%, 2 tbsp.) - 45 calories
Salt and Pepper
Total: 350 Calories!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I don't snack much during the week because I'm at work, but on the weekends I graze all day long. It's so easy to eat granola bars, fruit snacks, bags of chips, cookies, and even 100 calorie packs. Now the 100 calorie packs are good because of the portion control, but they're full of sugar, bad carbs, and preservatives. Not good! Resist!

My favorite snack option? Veggies and Hummus, or Fruit and Yogurt!
Now here's what I do every Saturday after my weekly grocery shop - I chop up all of my veggies and put them in tupperware or make a mixture in ziplock bags so I can grab and go all week long.
I make my own hummus at home with just a touch of tahini to keep it low fat, and I use plain yogurt with some honey and almond extract for my fruit.
You're SO much more likely to eat your veggies when they're waiting for you like the granola bars in the pantry.

Some of my favorites:
Carrot Sticks
Celery Sticks
Cucumber Sticks or Rounds
Bell Pepper Strips
Cherry Tomatoes
Broccoli Florettes

I also like to get a big melon or pineapple every week and chop it up and keep it in the fridge. You're much more likely to grab pineapple or watermellon chunks over ice cream when it's waiting for you and you don't have to process it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Verdict....

After running the trail today, I decided that I for sure love running outside over the treadmill. It was a bit warm today, but I love the nice breeze, the beautiful fields, the occasional deer and bunnies hopping by, and the fact that I can actually see my progress!
This is a photo of my trail, I'm very lucky to live basically across the street from the trail head, it's 4.6 miles total, which one day soon I'll be running in it's entirety, but for now, I just run 1.5 miles out and back. It has .25 mile markers and is usually not too busy when I go.
There's something so freeing about being able to run outside and enjoy a nice late summer day.
When it starts snowing again, I'll be back on the old treadmill!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My thougts on the treadmill..

The past week has been really hot, and I cannot run in the heat. I decided to run on the treadmill at the Y. There are a few good and bad things I've found from Treadmill running vs. Running outside...
Treadmill pros and cons:
Set my speed at 6mph, run 3 miles in 30 minutes, yay!
I don't have to worry about the weather
I get bored staring at the wall and not seeing my progress
I can't stop looking at how far I've gone
I'm not getting hills that are realistc
Running outside pros and cons:
The scenery changes
The breeze keeps me nice and cool
I can see how far I am because of the mileage markers
I feel like I'm actually going somewhere
It's hard for me to keep my pace
So overall, I think I do prefer running outside. I do like how I can set my pace and run faster on the treadmill, but I also like to be able to feel like I'm going somewhere and build my endurance for hills and elevation.
What do you think???

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reader Questions Answered

Yesterday, Kelly asked: I see that you work out 7x a week -- aren't you concerned about having enough "downtime" in your schedule?

I do work out 7 days a week, and here is my reasoning - I have an office job, though I'm up and down doing things, for the most part I'm planted at my computer all day. I like to get out and exercise after work just because I'm so anxious after sitting all day. On the weekends when I'm home, I don't have a lot going on so I workout all throughout the day and it doesn't seem like I'm working out as much. I really look at my weekends as the time to work really hard.
During the week, my workouts are about an hour, which isn't terribly long.

As you can see, every day I have 3 or more workouts. Now and then, I'll only do 1 or 2 of the 3-4 things listed if I'm crunched for time or just feel tired. If I'm on vacation and can't get to a DVD player, I'll skip the shred, or if it's raining out, I'll skip a run or bike ride. But I do try to get at least one physical activity each day.

Also, and it's a mental thing for me, when I miss one day, I don't feel so bad about missing 2, then 3, then I quit. In order to keep my spirits up and keep myself motivated, I make myself do something every day.

Many days, my body is tired, but not exhausted. I still like to push myself though, and I don't feel like I "need" a day of rest ever. It's a completely personal choice and it depends on each individual's body. I know rest days are important, but I try to avoid them! Again, works for me, might not work for you!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Last 25 Workout Schedule

Working out has always been a struggle for me. It's so rewarding, yet so hard! I think diversification is key to overall good health, keeping all muscles working and moving. For my last 25 lbs., I want to focus on working out hard and long. Here is my current workout schedule for the next few months. However, the running amounts will change up a bit when I begin the 10k training program.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Run 3 miles, Shred Level 3, Walk/Run 1 mile with Pumpkin

Tuesday, Thursday: Swim, Shred Level 1, Walk/Run 1 mile with Pumpkin

Saturday: Run 3+ miles, Shred Level 2, Walk/Run 1 mile with Pumpkin, Bike 5 miles

Sunday: Swim, Shred Level 2, Walk/Run 1 mile with Pumpkin, 1 additional fitness activity as time allows*

Some additional fitness activities I like to do on Sunday with my husband are golf or play tennis.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Swim Workouts

I absolutely love to swim. Now that I'm working in the accounting department at the YMCA, I get a free membership! I am so excited that I get to start swimming again! I was on the high school swim team, and have always loved it! I do find it hard to construct a swimming workout that's challenging and diversified, because I get bored swimming lap after lap freestyle. This is the current workout I use, it takes me about 45 minutes!

500 m freestyle warm up
100 m free kick (with kickboard)
50 m backstroke kick (with kickboard)
50 m butterfly kick (with kickboard)
200 m freestyle pull with flotater between legs
8 50m freestyle sprints on 1:15
100 m freestyle pull (or 50 free, 50 butterfly)
100 m freestyle kick (or 50 free, 50 butterfly)
200 m freestyle cooldown

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Healthy dinner for those who LOVE to eat!

If you read my cooking blog, you'll see that I cook dinner each night and try to make it as healthy as possible. I also rarely repeat meals, but this one was so good, and so filling, I had to make it again, especially since I'm really pushing now to lose the last 25 lbs.
This is seriously one of the largest bowls of awesome food. I could eat like a horse, all day and night, and this is the perfect meal for me! It's very healthy, and large, because it's got tons of veggies stretched out with lots of cabbage and vermicelli rice noodles, skinny ones that really bulk up! Many of the veggies in this can be swapped out for similar calories, such as water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, shredded cucumber, and broccolini.

This recipe is for 1 giant serving! Caloric breakdown below...

Rice Noodle Slaw Salad

2 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 tbsp. muscat orange champagne vinegar (trader joes, sub any vinegar)
2 tsp. honey
2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. thai chilie paste
1 tsp. hot Chinese mustard
1 serving thin rice noodles
1/2 c. sugar snap peas
1 1/2 c. cole slaw cabbage mix or sliced cabbage
1/2 shredded red cabbage
1/2 can baby corn, chopped
1 small block of thai peanut baked tofu (trader joes, sub any tofu around the same calories)

Bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in rice noodles and let them cook for 3 minutes, add snap peas and boil for 1 minute, drain and set aside.
Pre pare the sauce in a large bowl by whisking together garlic, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, chilie paste, and mustard.
Add the onions and stir.
Add noodles and snap peas to the bowl with the sauce, toss to combine. Add cabbages, corn and tofu. Toss to combine, plate and eat at room temperature, or store in the refrigerator and eat cold.

Caloric Breakdown:
Garlic - 10 calories
Onion - 10 calories
Vinegar - 20 calories
Honey - 30 calories
Soy Sauce - 26 calories
Lime Juice - 5 calories
Chilie Paste - 0 calories
Mustard - 5 calories
Cabbage - 75 calories
Corn - 30 calories
Tofu - 160 calories
Snap Peas - 40 calories
Rice Noodles - 180 calories
TOTAL: 591 calories!
Fat - 5g (all in the tofu)

Words of wisdom...from Grandma

This past weekend when I was home in Cincinnati, my grandparents were visiting from Florida. My grandma is very blunt. She tells me I'm her 'special one' and we all know I'm her favorite, even though grandparents shouldn't have favorites! Well, that didn't stop her from this line...

"Ashlee, you look so great. But you know, when some people lose a lot of weight, their faces sort of sink in, but your face is still pretty round."

Yes, Grandma, I have chubby cheeks! They'll always be that way, I suppose.....But they're kind of cute, right?

Things like that remind me that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you won't ever have the perfect body, and your problem areas will always remain that, so embrace them! I love my chubby cheeks, they're very pinchable. Now, if only I could grow to love my hips....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Maintaining for a month

For the past year, I've been working hard to lose 75 pounds. Some months I pushed harder, but I was really focused on losing. For the month from July-August 15, I've been focused on maintaining the 75 lb. weight loss.

During this phase, I've been eating a bit more (healthy things), and exercising a bit less, to keep my calories burned = to calories consumed. It's been really enjoyable to see how my body responded when a few times I'd indulge a bit, and then the next few days get back on track and work a bit more. It's been very encouraging to see that I can maintain my weight for a month while living normally! One of the reasons I chose this month was because I had a vacation which I blogged about, as well as a few trips to Cincinnati for random things, like Becky's 21st Birthday, where I knew I'd be eating some cake!
Those are events that are normal, so it's good to see how I do when I'm trying to maintain a weight during normal circumstances.
(Pumpkin and I at Becky's Birthday!)


Now I'm on to lose the last 25 lbs.!
I will blog a bit more about my plan to lose the last 25, but here are a few maintaining tips...

-When you've reached maintenance, decide if you want to consume more calories, or work out less. I did a combo of the two. It's still very important to exercise at least 5 times a week, but it's also very important to not revert to eating bad foods, or over eating.
I chose to increase my calories to 1600, so I added some whole wheat pretzels in at lunch, an additional piece of fruit with breakfast, and a little more dinner.

-I didn't weight myself once during this time. I went by how I felt, how my clothes fit, and just generally how my body looked. I still ran and shredded, but I don't think my body changed too much.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reader Questions Answered:

1. Are the recipes on your blog healthy? I'm assuming they are but I just want to make sure.
The recipes on my blog, with the exception of my baking and catering, could almost all be considered healthy. From a fat/calorie standpoint, I try to keep my dinner to 700 calories each night. I also try to make sure I have one starch, one lean protein, and 2-3 vegetables. From the healthy living standpoint, I use almost no pre-packaged products (with the exception of coindiments) and I use minimal canned vegetables or pre-made sides. If there is a specific recipe you want a caloric breakdown for, please ask! Also, most of my meals are made for 2-3 servings (so my husband has some extra).
Since I consume the bulk of my calories at dinner, some of my meals might be more calories than you budget, so you can cut down on the serving size.

2. This may be a stupid question but can you give me an idea of how you go about making your grocery list? I'm trying to be as cost conscious as possible, and I really want to start trying your meal suggestions, but i'm not sure really where to begin with my list. I feel like I will spend a ton of money and I would just keep buying and buying. DH and I are so busy so we (regretfully) don't take time to really prepare healthy meals.I have read your suggestions on your blog about grocery shopping, but I still feel like I would be spending a TON of money. Are there certain "staples" you always have on hand?Any additional suggestions would be great!
It can be very costly to eat healthy! Our budget for food shopping each week is $100, but that also includes household items like cleaning suupplies, dog food, etc.
I plan my meals ahead of time each week by looking at what coupons I have (though it's hard to coupon shop because there aren't really coupons for fresh produce!) Then I also look at the market's circular to see what produce is on sale. For example, when asparagus is 99 cents a pound, we might have asparagus 3 nights that week, I just create meals around it. Same with bell peppers when they're on sale, if bag salad is cheap, i'll have salads for dinner all week.
I also check out to see when organic chicken and ground turkey is on sale, and stock up and keep the freezer loaded with it.
For fruit, I also just have for lunch whatever is on sale - apples, bananas, peaches, etc., to keep the cost down.
Also, frozen veggies are really good for you. They're flash frozen at the peak of the season, so they're still loaded with their nutrients.
Some staples I always have on hand for quick/easy meals are:
Produce: Bag salad mix, canned organic tomatoes, bell peppers, frozen peas, and green beans (i love the steamfresh bags)
Grains: Whole wheat pasta, rice, and sweet potatoes
Protein: Boneless/skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey, tofu
Fruit: Frozen sliced strawberries
Extras: Assortment of light dressings (love trader joes), organic chicken stock, whole wheat pizza crust dough balls, a loaded spice rack, light sour cream and lowfat cheeses
From all of those almost non-pershiables, you can make many of the meals on my blog! Use the tag feature to search for recipes when you see something is on sale.

Monday, August 4, 2008

30 Day Shred Update

Many people ask this question (including myself) what do you do when the 30 days is over? For those who shredded daily like me, you feel kind of lost when it's over!

My current workout plan is this:
Saturday and Sunday - Shred Level 2, Run 3 mi., Bike or Elliptical 30 min.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday - Shred Level 3
Tuesday, Thursday - Shred Level 1, Elliptical 45 min.

I absolutely love the shred, and I continue to do it for a few reasons
- I still get a great workout because now I do all of the moves the "bad-ass" way, the way Natalie does them, so I squat lower, push-up lower, get my high-knees higher, punch faster, etc. So when people ask does it get easier, I say yes and no, because I'm used to is and my muscles are getting stronger, however I push harder so it's still always hard
- It's still a quick, hard, and effective workout, and during the week I really don't want to put in a lot of time
- It's still the most convienient workout for me

For some people, a day of rest is necessary, for me, I feel as though only shredding on MWF gives me enough rest. Again, this is what works for me, your body might need rest, mine does best when I keep pushing!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Workout Clothes

I have tried many brands and options of workout wear, from t-shirts and sports bras, to cotton tank tops, but my favorite is the sports bra tank. It's the lightest and the Nike Dri-Fit stays very cool. It's also sleek and cute!
Here is Nike's website with all of the options available for women's tops. I buy Old Navy Yoga pants, both long and capris, for my pants. They're the most comfortable, to me.
Since I exercise by running, walking, biking, shredding, and ellipticalling, I have cross training shoes, though I am looking to buy running shoes when I begin my 10k training in September. I buy adidas shoes for cross-training.

Anyone have any favorite running shoes you want to recommend???

Need a laugh?

This video is of my Pumpkin post flea and tick medication application. It's not so much me being fit, but it's hilarious. She has lots of energy to keep her mama walking :)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reader Questions Answered

Today's Reader's Question comes from Melissa!
I've been doing pretty good with my healthy eating and calorie counting (around 1200 a day) but there are a few days where I just can't control my cravings and I end up screwing up. Do you ever have this problem and if so, how do you deal with it?

I definitely have cravings often! I have found that at night, all I want is anything chocolate and sweets. While I would love to be able not indulge, sometimes I do! I try to find better alternatives, however, to satisfy the cravings.

When I want chocolate, I like to get fat free pudding pops (preferably no sugar added, watch the calories!) or eat some chocolate pudding. Every now and then, I'll even make some lower in fat cookies. No, they're not chewy and buttery, but they still have chocolate! You can see them here, on my cooking blog. If you're not a great baker from home, try no pudge brownies.

Because this is a lifestyle change, I look at it this way, I cannot stop eating chocolate all together, or sweets, cookies, etc. However, I can find a healthier alternative, and I can eat that instead!

It is also VERY important to remember (and I'm telling myself this, everyone else can just overhear me): Take it one day at a time. This isn't a diet, you don't have to hit goals by exact dates, this is a lifestyle change. Just because you have one bad night, doesn't mean you should say screw it, back to my old ways... There's always tomorrow to turn it around! So you had a high calorie lunch, eat a lighter dinner. Don't skip the workout at night because you went way over on your calories for the day.
Too many times I would go really strong for a month or two, have one bad day, then throw it all away. It's not about how fast you lose the weight (because now, I'm not trying to get it off as fast) it's about your quality of life, moderation, and realizing that it's not ruined by one bad meal or one skipped workout.
::Steps off soapbox::

Seriously, all directed toward myself :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Elliptical

I have always liked to exercise, but it was a hassle because I had to go to the Y and there were certain times when the lines would be long. Also, I've always liked walking, but I don't feel like I get as good of a workout. I was never a runner, either. I always had excuses not to go to the Y or not to go walk outside because I would rather elliptical. After I moved into an apartment somewhat far from the Y, I decided to go and buy an elliptical. I figured if I spend $600 on a machine, it will need to last 2 years in order to be the same as a membership at the YMCA.
I bought a Horizon E95 model, which they do not make anymore, but I think Horizon makes great newer machines. The only problem I have had was a bar on the footplate cracked, so I had to get a new piece, which was $80. I was afraid the machine was broken forever, but it wasn't a problem to replace it.
This machine has 3 different paths or you can choose to set your own. I do the hill climb from the top level. The main problem people have with ellipticals is that because you set the pace, you can slow down easily. I use the mileage counter on mine to make sure I'm moving quick enough. I try to get .75/mi. every 15 minutes.
I have my elliptical set up in my guest room where I have a TV. I purposely elliptical on the days/times when I know I have TV shows on. It takes my mind off the actual exercise, and keeps me from getting bored.
The elliptical is very low impact, but really delivers results - 50 lbs! Because it's not strenuous on the muscles, I ellipticalled for 45 minutes every day, and on the weekends I would do either a 1 hour session or 2 45 minute sessions.


Me at the Indianapolis Zoo dolphin show &
My husband at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

This past weekend my husband and I went on our version of summer vacation. Sadly, it was only a 3 day weekend... but we had a wonderful time!

Here are a few of my tips to having an enjoyable, yet healthy vacation:

Food Tips:
1. Pack food that you normally eat at home. When you're on vacation, you may find that the hotel breakfast bar doesn't have oatmeal or yogurt, bring some along so you don't sabatoge your calorie count.
Example: I packed yogurt, fruit, and carrot sticks.
2. Allow yourself to have more calories than normal, but still count, and make sure you're not eating more than you're burning.
Example: I try to eat 1200-1500 calories a day at home, on vacation, I bumped it to 2000, because that is around how many calories I burn in a day.
3. Try to eat 2 regular meals per day, and have one meal where you are a little indulgent.
Example: If you eat a big hearty pancakes and eggs breakfast, have a salad with dinner when you go out.
4. Alcohol is something that will need to be cut way back, or out, when you're trying to lose weight. I've never been a big drinker, but especially now, I only drink 1 beer or glass of wine, and I nurse it. Tip: Drink your beer with water, if you have 2-3 glasses of water with 1 beer mixed in, it will last longer.
5. Don't get dehydrated!!! You'll think you're hungry when you really just need to drink some water. Always keep a cooler with you stocked with ice or if you have to, bring bottled water (make sure you recycle those bottles!)
6. Don't bring any extra food, and don't bring extra cash! When we were at the race, the couple next to me was very large, and ate the entire race. They constantly were pulling things out of their cooler. JJ and I only packed water and Coke Zero, so we didn't give outselves the opportunity to overeat. Also, at the ballpark, I was watching people walk by with ice cream, but I didn't bring any extra cash so I could not buy an ice cream.

Remember, just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want all day long. I had ice cream at the Zoo, but I had a veggie wrap for lunch to even it out. At the race, I had some nachos and a beer, but then for dinner I had a citrus chicken salad.

Fitness Tips:
1. Incorporate fitness into your vacation. Sure, everyone loves to lay on the beach, but lay out for half an hour, then play some sand volleyball or throw a frisbee.
2. Go places that require lots of walking - if you're staying in a city, book a hotel that's not so far from what you want to see that you can't walk. We walked to dinner, the ballpark, and did some sight seeting all without the car!
3. Book a hotel that has a fitness room, and use it! If you normally run in the morning, get up and go run in the morning before the day begins and you get too busy to work out.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

C25K Playlist

So basically I love boys with guitars. That's pretty much all I listen to when I run lately. Here's my current playlist...not all current songs, but whatev!

My C25K Boys with Guitars Playlist:
"I'm Yours" Jason Mraz
"I Won't Go Home Without You" Maroon 5
"First Time" Lifehouse
"I'm In Love With the Girl" Gavin DeGraw
"I'd do Anything" Jason Mraz
"Sunday Mornings" Maroon 5
"Everything" Michael Buble'
"You and I Both" Jason Mraz
"Wonderful World" James Morrison
"Hanging by a Moment" Lifehouse

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reader Questions Answered

Today's Question comes from Annie on the nest.com:
I'd like to hear about motivation. How do you do it on days/weeks when you just don't feel like it.

Ahhh, days I don't feel like doing it... Most often it's the weekdays, because on the weekends I work out as soon as I wake up. But coming home after a long day at work and then having to go run/shred/elliptical can be a challenge. There are a few motivators for a few different reasons.

1. I want new clothes so badly, but I won't let myself buy anything until I hit certain sizes. The faster and harder I push to lose the weight, the sooner I get new clothes!

2. It's become a routine, I get home, I work out, so I never plan things for right after work, and if I do, I make sure as soon as I get back from that I work out. I'm a very 'stick to the routine' kind of person, so this really works.

3. My husband gets home before me, gets my water bottle full and sitting out for me and has my shred DVD ready for me at the level I want. We call it getting me 'shready,' yeah, we're cutesy like that. If I don't work out, I tell him to judge me and tell me I'm fat (which he won't, but he does give me motivation)

4. I have many people who know about my situation, and ask me if I did what I said I would do - like the c25k.

5. If you have a workout buddy, you're more likely to stick with the plans, JJ did the first few weeks of C25K with me, he'd be ready to go when I got home, and would make sure I got going.

Overall, when I feel like I just don't want to, I put life into perspective. I don't want to pay taxes, I don't want to go to work, I don't want to pick up Pumpkin's poop in the yard (well, JJ does that one) but I do because I have to. I am taking responsibility and doing what I have to do. In the end, I'm really proud of myself for doing it, and that's a much better feeling than guilt for not doing what I know I should.
If you need a motivator, you just call me, or my husband, he does a good job :)

Ahh, the home stretch just got easier...

Because I got a new job!!! And where you might ask? Well, see if you can figure it out....

Yes! The YMCA! I am elated! It's an accounting job, and one of my fantastic benefits is I get free membership and classes! I was a swimmer in high school, and haven't swam in a long time because I didn't have a pool, so now I'll get to swim and take some deep water aerobics, as well as some yoga and other aerobic classes!
I know not everyone can get a job at their Y, or even afford a membership, but please remember that I lost the bulk of my weight by exercising for free at the bike path and doing the shred, which i got on half.com for $6!
Yay! New job and free workouts!!!

The 250 Calorie Lunch

This is what I eat for lunch every day. Sometimes the veggies change (snap peas, bell peppers, peas, etc.) and the fruit (apple, pear, peach, grapes, banana, mango, etc.) But overall, it's a very filling plate, and only 250 calories! I absolutely love yoplait light yogurt. I should be a spokesperson for them, I eat one every day because I'm not a big milk fan, so it's my main source of calcium. Occasionally I have hummus instead of the light sour cream/ranch dip, but it's a bit more calories/fat, so I will change my dinner accordingly.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

C25K Review

C25K Review

The couch to 5k program is one that has been around for a while, and it meant for beginner runners. I think it would be easy to start if you’ve been sedentary, and it’s even easier to start if you’ve been doing some kind of workout (for me it was the elliptical).

I had hit a -50 lb. plateau because I was just ellipticalling and walking, and my body was still being worked hard, but it was the same muscles and cardio routine. After Christmas and New Years, I gained a few pounds back and then re-lost them with the elliptical, but finally it was spring, and I wanted a new workout to help me continue to lose weight. I decided to do the C25K because I was taking on challenges, and running has been a life-long nemesis for me! I absolutely hate running. I feel like I should love it, my dad was a marathoner, and still runs, and my sisters are both avid runners… but it’s just not in my genes!

I can honestly tell you today, that I enjoy running, thanks to this program! It is so incredibly freeing to be able to look out at the horizon and know that you can run that far. It’s so nice to be out on the running trail in the early morning and see deer running by, I absolutely love it. I’ve still not run a 5k race for time, but I have timed myself on the trail.

Tip: Almost every time I run, I bring my ipod. I have a c25k playlist that's full of upbeat, motivational songs. Sometimes on a Saturday morning, I'll go without it because the trail is so quiet and I love nature, but for the most part, I need music to get me going.

So here is my review of the program…

I set up my schedule to run Tuesday and Thursday as soon as I got home from work, and Saturday and Sunday as soon as I wake up (around 7). It can be done on a treadmill, but I prefer to run outside on my bike/walk/run trail. You can either do the program by time or distance, I chose to do time because I’m a slower runner. Since I was running 4x per week, I did the program in 6 weeks.

Weeks 1 and 2 were very easy for me, and I had minimal soreness in my legs.

Week 3 was when it started to get rough and I had a few “I want to quit” moments.

Week 4 was when I really started to feel like a runner, I could do ½ a mile!

Week 5 was what scared me, a 20 minute run with no stopping. Really?! But, I did it!

Week 6 was 25 minutes, and I did it!

Weeks 7 and 8 were a bit easier for me, once I reached 20-25 minutes, I had no problem getting to 30-35.

In the end, my first 3.1 mi. run was 34:30, right now I’ve got it down to 32:00-ish. Working on speed is my current challenge. On my current workout schedule, I run Saturday and Sunday mornings, 3 miles each morning, just trying to get my 3 mile time lower and lower.

On the off days: For the 6 weeks I did the program, on the off days, I did 45 minutes on the elliptical.

I’m going to start the 10k training in September to get myself ready for the 10k my family runs every Thanksgiving.

Overall, I think this program is great. I had great success with it. It pushed me, but was never too much. I felt so proud of myself after I ran my first 5k, it was like nothing else I’ve ever done.