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 :)