Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I love the library.

When did I forget how amazing the library is?  I headed to the public library in my town today to get a change of scenery to do some work.  Small town, RI doesn't have a Starbucks that I know of so I figured this was my best shot.  And by golly, it blew Starbucks out of the water!

It is comfy with lots of seating and nice couches!  It is quiet!  It is cozy with just the right temperature, nice lighting, big windows, and greenery!  It has free Wifi, totally stable, with the supercute name of "Harry Potter!"  It is safe, no worrying about weirdos stealing my stuff while I am in the bathroom!  AND, the books!!!

Granted, I didn't take advantage of the books today because I am here doing work, but I forgot what the feeling of being in a room full of books and magazines that are totally mine to browse through.  I sat here with my Nook tucked securely into my purse, hoping nobody can tell that I have transitioned to an e-Reader (woops!) But man, I forgot how great the library is.  I'm loving it!

Via Instagram

Monday, November 21, 2011

The benefit of working from home: breakfast for lunch!

As I mentioned, this week, I am working from home at my mom's house in Rhode Island.  The pros/cons of working from home are debated constantly in articles I read.  It seems to becoming more popular given the increased ease and ability to communicate and connect from almost anywhere with WiFi.  As well, there are debates that working from home can boost productivity, increased work-life balance, and eases over-crowded office buildings and congested commutes.

Personally, I enjoy going into the office.  My commute wakes me up, clears my head, and gets me ready for my day in the office.  I enjoy being surrounded by co-workers and having face-to-face interactions.  I like the comfort and consistency of my office space and my comfy desk chair.  Sure, some days I would much prefer to work out of sweatpants and avoid the distractions and busy-ness of the office.  And yes, I can often be more productive when I get rid of external distractions, interruptions, and just plug away, just me at my computer.  But for now, I think the benefits of working from a centralized office outweigh the cons for me.

However, one thing that I do LOVE about working from home is the ability to prepare and put together hot meals for myself in the comfort of my own kitchen.  Brown bag lunches and eating out can only take you so far.  There is something about putting together a hot meal for yourself that you just can't recreate in the office.

Today I had a delicious breakfast-for-lunch meal of a veggie egg white scramble and whole wheat toast. Before leaving Albany, I had put together a bunch of veggies I had prepared and then been using in meals... caramelized onions, sauteed yellow bell pepper and mushrooms, steamed broccoli and fresh chopped tomatoes.  For the past few days I have been eating egg whites with a large scoop of my veggie mixture chopped and scrambled in, with some of whatever cheese is nearby.  Today it was shredded mozzarella.

This meal is so delicious and it is a perfect lunch for me.  I don't usually eat too much in the mornings and this protein-flavor packed dish is such a great mid-day meal for me.  I would eat this every single day for lunch if I could.  Egg white/veggie scrambles are a far under-used part of my meal repertoire that I am definitely catching back up on this week while I work from home!!

Another PR at the Gear N Beer 5K!

Happy Thanksgiving week everybody!  I am blogging today from my mom's house in Rhode Island, where I will be working from for the week.  I haven't been home for a full week in Rhode Island for quite some time and I am looking forward to getting to spend some quality time with my family and friends while I am in town.

My week at home started out well as my mom, brother, and brother's girlfriend and I went out on Saturday night to try a new restaurant called Razzle Restaurant Wine Bar and Cupcakery in Cranston, RI (read the Yelp! review here).  I forgot to take photos of the food, but it was all delicious!  I split a salad and a pizza with my brother's girlfriend and every bite was pure heaven.  The 4 of us also each chose one of their specialty cupcakes to share.  Between the 4 of us we had an Oreo cupcake, Snickers cupcake, Lemon cupcake, and Apple Cinnamon cupcake.  Now, I have had a lot of cupcakes in my life, but let me tell you these were by far some of the BEST.  They were so moist and fluffy and seriously worth every bite of the high number of Weight Watchers points they consisted of.  Luckily, I planned ahead and had some exercise planned for my week at home.

On Sunday, my mom and I participated in the Mew's Tavern Beer N Gear 5K in Wakefield, RI.  My mom has been a runner her whole entire life, and I have always been on the sidelines to this hobby of hers.  It honestly gives me so much pleasure to be able to participate with my mom in races and share this passion of hers.  This past year we have completed two 10Ks together, and this race was our first 5K.

Mom and I at the Mew's Tavern 5K November 2011
Jamestown Bridge 10K April 2011
Gilette Stadium 10K July 2011

I was looking forward to doing another 5K to test whether or not my PR from the weekend before was a fluke or a real new standard in 5K times for myself.  Well, I certainly proved that the time wasn't just a fluke because I smashed that time by another 40 or so seconds -- and the Mews 5K was a considerably harder course than the Colon Cancer 5K (lots of hills, including a killer at the very end!!)  I finished with a time of around 30:08 -- which is a big improvement from 30:56 and SO CLOSE to my goal of breaking 30 minutes!

My mom and sister later in the day asked me if I wished I had just ran A LITTLE faster at certain points to have beat that goal.  But I am honestly really happy with that time... and am not sure where in the race to have pushed myself harder.  I am still honestly amazed at my improvements over the past few months and am SO proud of the time of 30:08.

With some of my mom's friends at post-race.
The 5K was a great, well organized race that ended with a big party.  Not surprisingly, since a Tavern hosted the race, there was beer aplenty at the finish.  What did surprise me, was that it was all free!  There were tons of beer selections, including my current obsession, Woodchuck Hard Cider's Fall brew.  They also had a huge post-race meal for everybody.  There was a shockingly large amount of food and beer considering the crowd was +1000!  We really lucked out with beautiful weather so the post-race party was a lot of fun with lots of friendly runners and spectators enjoying the beer, food and sunny weather.  Since I had splurged the night before, I was the designated driver for the day and also planned ahead and brought my own WW-points friendly snacks to keep me from being tempted by the BBQ, mac & cheese, and Chowder feast that was available after the race.

Check out that plate of food!!

Up next I have a 5K Gobble Wobble on Thanksgiving morning that I am running with my 4 best friends. I love that my life has changed to including these different activities with the people I love. I haven't decided yet if I am going to do a relaxed run or push myself to try and reach the under-30 minute mark on Thursday. I will keep you updated!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I am a sucker.

This week I went overboard with my Weight Watchers points and I gained at my weigh-in today.  Usually when this happens I feel guilty and I can pinpoint a day (or a few days!) where I overindulged.  Looking back at this week though, I feel a little different.  I feel as though I had a pretty balanced diet throughout the week and made smart choices on what could have otherwise been a really out of control weekend, full of eating out.

However, what really got me is the fact that I am a sucker for snack foods that make me feel as if I am being healthy when I am really not.  After a trip to Trader Joe’s on Friday, I spent the rest of the weekend munching on almonds, dried banana chips, and Powerberries… little dark chocolate covered fruit juice pieces.  I kept these foods around and munched on them in between meals to curb hunger.  Now, none of these foods are very low in Weight Watchers points but for some reason, they make me feel as if I am eating healthier than I actually am.  Having been working on losing weight for 11 months now, I know my stuff and you would NEVER catch me sitting around just munching on a full fat bag of potato chips or M&Ms unless it was a special occasion and a controlled serving size.

Despite the fact that banana chips aren’t much better than potato chips and the Powerberries compare to M&Ms, I had no problem chowing away at these foods.  I am a sucker for the marketing and the cues my brain picks up from these foods.  Bananas?  Healthy!  Fruit pieces and “Power” in the title? Healthy!  Nuts?  Full of essential fats and protein, healthy!

Snacking has been one of the challenges for me as I go through Weight Watchers.  I am someone who finds comfort and satisfaction out of eating and the repetition of food-to-mouth.  I’ve definitely worked on breaking that habit but also on trying to find healthy ways to snack and make the right choices about what I am consuming.  Some of my best friends throughout this process have been popcorn, Edamame, and grapes, which allow me to be able to repeat that food-to-mouth comforting behavior.  I doubt I will ever grow out of being a “volume” eater but I am continually working on making smarter choices and eating a balanced and healthy diet.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Colon Cancer 5K playlist

When I first PRed in a 5K in June, I shared my playlist from the race on the blog.  Since I PRed again during this race, I wanted to again share the tunes that kept me going!  I know it has mixed opinions in the running community, but I love running to music and finding new/fun tunes to run to.  I am continually updating my playlists and spending way too much money on iTunes!

This weekend's playlist consisted of:
  • Do You? - Iffy
  • Countdown - Beyonce
  • We Found Love - Rihanna
  • Stereo Hearts - Gym Class Heroes (with Adam Levine)
  • Sexy and I Know It - LMFAO
  • Don't Hold Your Breathe - Nicole Scherzinger
  • Love on Top - Beyonce
  • Give Me Your Eyes - Brandon Heath
  • In the Dark - Dev
  • Better with the Lights Off - New Boyz
  • Mr. Saxobeat - Alexandra Stan
  • Lighters - Bad Meets Evil (with Bruno Mars)
  • The One That Got Away - Katy Perry
  • Mr. Know It All - Kelly Clarkson
  • What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) - Kelly Clarkson
  • Without You - David Guetta & Usher
  • Love You Like a Love Song - Selena Gomez
  • Faster - Matt Nathanson
  • Let's Get Married Remix - Jagged Edge (old school...I know!)
  • Good Feeling - Flo Rida
  • Rain Over Me - Pitbull

Mid-November running & food report

This weekend I ran my first timed, registered 5K since I ran the Freihofer's race in June.  I have been running pretty regularly, working out a lot, and just last week had one of the best runs I'd done in a while of 4.5 miles.  That was the most I had ever done for just a "leisurely" run.

As I may or may not have mentioned before on the blog, since January I have been a part of Weight Watchers At Work.  I attend Weight Watchers meetings and get weighed in every Wednesday and have been doing so since January 19th.  I've had a lot of success with the program and as of my last weigh in, I was at a total of 49 lbs lost!

It has been fun for me to become lighter on my feet and enjoy physical activities such as running, soccer, biking and hiking more  This past year has also changed what I do with friends and loved ones for "fun."  In the past, fun activities when visiting friends often included eating, getting a drink out, staying out late, etc.  Whereas now, they involve cooking meals together, taking a yoga class, and running a 5K.  Which brings me to this past weekend...

I was in Boston visiting friends and we signed up for and ran a 5K together on Saturday morning.

My time for the Boston Colon Cancer "Get Your Rear in Gear" race was an official time of 30:56 at a pace of 9:59 min/mile. Yes you read that right, 30:56!!  That is a full 4 minutes and 28 seconds faster than my PR in June of 35:24.  Can you believe it?  I actually couldn't at first.  I was scared to say my time out loud and get excited because I thought maybe I had made a mistake... maybe I had read the time wrong or read the race registration wrong... was this race actually shorter than a 5K?  Well, no, it was not, I just ran it a lot faster than my previous race-- likely attributed to the fact that I am around 20 lbs lighter than when I ran my last race!!

Besides being proud of myself and my time, this race was special as we chose this race to run in support of a friend of a friend whose father is battling Colon Cancer.  To see her, her family and her friends all coming together to support this cause was really meaningful and gave me a little extra burst of energy.

The race course was around Castle Island in Boston, right along the water.  It was a beautiful day and a beautiful run along the waterfront.  I am looking forward to my next 5K where I can try to push myself more.  I never imagined I'd be saying this, but my running goal now is to break 30 minutes in a 5K.  As for Weight Watchers, I still have ~15 lbs to lose before I am even in the healthy BMI range.  However, I've got some fun goals ahead of me... like breaking into the next number range and reaching 50 lbs!!

Here is to setting and achieving your goals.  And believing in yourself. Cheers.