Saturday, March 30, 2013

10 mile run in Rhode Island - no walking!

So today I set a number of new accomplishments for myself and also learned some things I need to work on in the future.  I officially ran the furthest that I have ever run ever before.  Today I did 10 MILES running outside today with zero walk breaks.  The furthest I had previously run without walking was when I did 8 miles on the treadmill.  The furthest I had previously run OUTSIDE without walking was a 10K (about 6 miles.)  So this 10 mile run was really an accomplishment.  And man, did it take a lot out of me!

I am currently home in Rhode Island for Easter weekend and was lucky enough to have my mom with me for the first 4 miles of the run.  The last 6 miles I was on my own.  The last few miles were TOUGH and it really took a lot of mental coaching to keep myself going.  And physically, it took more out of me than I expected.  I felt really good after doing 8 miles on the treadmill and after my 9 mile run (with walks) last weekend.  However, today I spent a majority of the afternoon just laying on the couch and the floor.  I felt like complete crap and was/am so exhausted!

My recovery from this run was pretty bad and it made me realize that I need to take better care of myself to fuel my body.  I don't think I drank or ate soon enough after my run and ended up feeling really nauseous for the rest of the day.

But once I did get my appetite back... well... I ate.  A lot more Weight Watchers Points Plus than I care to admit.  The main course was this delicious dinner my mom and I had.

I don't know how to make this the correct orientation... it is correct on my computer!
The follow up was a couple small bowls of ice cream topped with some sprinkles my mom had.  I was definitely craving that ice cream (it finally kicked in from last week.)  And oh, one thing I've realized... Sprinkles = trigger food for me.  I just can't seem to leave them be!

Snacks throughout the day included... some Chex cereal, chicken nuggets, Easter cookies, and I did manage to sneak in a bag of cut up vegetables.

I don't know what's wrong with me because even though I know I'm counting points and can't do whatever I want, I somehow feel that running 10 miles lets me binge eat.

I did fine today, but I am a little scared for the rest of the week because we haven't even come to the main event of the weekend yet -- Easter Sunday!  Which includes my grandmother's infamous once-a-year stuffed artichokes and endless other goodies.  Following that I'll be heading to a work conference, that almost always usually leads to me overeating.

The next few days will certainly be a challenge!  But for today... I am proud of my 10 mile run and thankful to my mom for her support through it (and through taking care of my cranky butt the rest of the day)!!

AND ALSO... proud of my Syracuse Orange!!  We're on to the Final Four, baby!!!!  Today we beat Marquette in the Elite 8 round of March Madness and I cannot wait to see what happens in the next game next week!  It was so fun to see status updates with Syracuse pride sweep across my news feed on Facebook, receive text messages, and be associated with such an exciting accomplishment.  Congrats boys!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A little running and politics chat... no big deal.

Hi everyone, we made it through Wednesday!!  And guess what?  I finally weighed in at Weight Watchers.  It wasn't exactly what I wanted to see because I hadn't made it down to where I wanted to be on the scale (aka BELOW the last time that I weighed in.)   But it was a good feeling to get over that hump and finally weigh in again.  I was .8 lbs over from when I weighed in.  And although I should probably be upset with that, I've actually lost about 6 lbs in the past 3 weeks so I am feeling okay with that as long as I can keep my current momentum going.

I definitely have some challenges coming up as I have a number of different trips coming up that will take me out of my routine and pushing me to indulge.  Between Easter (cue: candy overload), a work conference (cue: desperate eating to keep me awake through day long meetings), and a business trip to Texas (cue: barbecue, steak, potatoes, Mexican, and barbecue) it is going to be a tough couple of weeks ahead!

I've been feeling a lot better on my mid-week runs... I got in a nice 5 miles outside today that felt really good, and am gearing up for another long run on Saturday.  I will be doing Saturday's 10-mile run in Rhode Island and am hoping to pull in some recruits to run portions of it with me :)

Here is the Garmin recap from today's run:

I'm really loving the information that comes in off my of runs.  I see today on the run I really didn't keep a steady pace at all, which may have had to do with small bumps and hills, but also when I would remind myself, "Try to run faster!"  Because I did try to remind myself that.

One thing that I think is interesting is those three little drops in my heart rate that sort of correlate to three drops in my pace on the chart above.  I wonder if that is a sign I should have tried harder and kept my heart rate up?  I dunno.  I think it's interesting though!

I don't have much else to say tonight except that I want to share my views on a subject that has been ALL OVER my Facebook news feed this past week: the gay marriage votes taking place this week.  I wrote the following response to a comment that came through my newsfeed that left me itching to chime in.  I know it's not as eloquent or a comprehensive as I could have been, but I wanted to share my thoughts a little on the issue, to someone who had a different view than my own.

I know the person I was responding to is an incredibly sweet and kind and loving person, she is newly married and pregnant and I wish her all the best in the world.  I only even took the time to respond because I knew she was not an ignorant or uncaring person and would take the time to read, truly listen to, and if nothing else, respect someone else's opinion.

This is what I wrote, that sums up my views.  I'm hoping for the best this week, but will also not let a passing fad of equal signs on Facebook be the end of the fight for me.  I will continue to fight because these are my beliefs [expressed through a response to someone's post expressing her opinion of what family and marriage means.]

"I just had to share my point of view on this subject.  I don't think that anybody is trying to say that your view of family is wrong or that you need to change your personal beliefs. That's not the case at all. The fact that our country allows us to have different views and beliefs is what makes us great, one of the principles we were founded on. 

I think what many people are upset about and want changed is the governments ability to say that YOUR lifestyle is better than that of my uncles', or my cousin's, or the many other tax-paying, law abiding men and women in our country. 

We are supposed to have equality in our country. We are supposed to have separation of church and state. We are supposed to have the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

If laws are changed over the next few days, it will do absolutely nothing to your definition of happiness. It will not mean that your view of marriage or a family is wrong. It will not change anything at all that remotely affects your personal rights or lifestyle. It will only extend those same rights to cover all Americans and allow our country to bring our country just a tiny bit towards equality in what will always be a very unequal world. 

I hope you can see that these votes are not a vote for or against your choices. But a vote for equality for all Americans in the eyes of our government. You can personally stand for anything you would like, and I stand for that being the case for for ALL Americans."

I do believe that marriage equality will happen in my lifetime, and SOON (hopefully.)  I believe that by the time I am old and wrinkled I will be sitting around telling my grandchildren about this ridiculous time period in society where gay marriage was illegal.  And they will just stare at me thinking I'm silly because the thought of people opposing something like marriage between two people who love each other is just bizarre.  And they'll say, "But, Gram, hasn't there always been separation of church and state?" And I'll explain that for some period of time the line got blurry and nobody knew why.  I do believe this day will come.  And I'm already proud to be able to say that I was a part of the group of people who truly stood up, in a bigger way than just changing my Facebook photo, to say, "This is not right."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mid week workout update!

Hey everyone, hope you are all having a good week!  I had a busy Tuesday today at work, but managed to get over to the gym during lunch.  I ran my 3 miles that I had on my training schedule and did them outside.  Following Saturday's run, I've realized I just need to get outside and do my runs there.  I'm also loving my Garmin Forerunner!  I'm a little bummed to see I am running so slowly outside and definitely want to try to boost that over the weeks leading up to the half marathon.  I've never timed myself during training runs, I usually know my times just from timed 5K races, which have a different motivating factor.  So we'll see what I can do on my own.

After running I attended a bootcamp style interval training class at the gym at work that lasts 30 minutes.  It's called Tri-fit and I've attended the class a few times now and it is a great little blast of a work out!

I am really going to do my best to attend this class, as well as a Thursday lunch time interval training class that the gym offers as much as possible.  Since I made the decision to stop attending the boot camp class that I loved so much, I have been a little bummed and missing the work outs for sure.  More unsettling is that I can really see where my body is losing muscle and tone from not having that strength training.

So why did I stop?  Well, they moved to a new location that was really inconvenient and difficult for me and it was also very, very expensive.  I had never originally joined the program to have it be a long term thing and after I realized I had been attending for a year and a half... and also paying for a membership at the local pool.. and also for a membership for the gym at work... I just knew I needed to cut something.  Since fitness and health is something that I want to be a part of my life forever, I thought it might make more sense to learn a little bit about strength training myself and find a less expensive way to replace boot camp.

I'm in definite need of a weight training for Dummies book or something, but I'm starting to do a lot of research and learn what I can.  In the mean time, Tri-Fit will definitely be a part of my routine!

This evening, I treated myself... or rather, my brother treated me... to a massage!  For a late birthday present my brother gave me a gift certificate to Spafinder and tonight I redeemed that gift certificate and got an amazing massage from Anthony at Complexions on Wolf Road in Albany.

I like a lot of pressure in my massages and Anthony did an awesome job, relaxing me, but also working out a ton of the knots and kinks that have built up in my muscles from running and sitting at a desk all day.

Complexions is a great spa and one of the things I love about going there is their "relaxation room."  I was able to hang out for a bit in this cozy room before my massage, in a super comfy bathrobe.  I sipped on fresh strawberry water and indulged in a cookie, or two, or three, while I waited.

Guys, I totally did not mean to eat 3 of these cookies but there is something freaky and magical about them.  They are the best chocolate chip cookies ever. They are the perfect amount of soft in the center with a harder outside. They are the exact perfect temperature where the cookie holds up but the chocolate is gooey in the chips.  I seriously don't know how they do it but it is almost worth it to pay the money for a massage and just get a couple of these cookies.  I loved them!

One more thing... my beautiful friend Lauren whose birthday just passed celebrated another incredible birthday yesterday!  Lauren gave birth to Sean Patrick yesterday at 11:29 p.m.  He is a perfectly perfect and adorable, healthy baby boy who is seriously cute as a cute can be.  Congratulations to Mommy Lauren and Daddy Sean Michael on the wonderful welcome of their baby boy!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Q&A from my friends!

So, I mentioned yesterday that I often get questions from my friends on food or fitness or whatever, and I thought if my friends have these questions, then maybe a larger population might.  I received two questions in the past week from friends and both people seemed really happy with the answers!  And I figured I'd just take a little time to write them out here.

Question #1: How do you keep exercising and being healthy from being boring?

A friend of mine and I had the following text message conversation the other day.  This portion is word for word translation from the text message.

Friend: "Ugh. Being healthy is soo boring. Got any advise on me feeling that way?"
Me: "Food wise?"
Friend: "Food, exercise. All that healthy crap."
Me: "It's different for everyone but what helps me is having a goal to work towards.  Whether it's a half marathon or trying to lose a certain amount of pounds or trying to push my body to do something new."
Friend: "Yeah, but how do you get past how boring all that stuff is?  Maybe it's just me since I never workout :("

I had a number of different things to say to that.  To start, I felt like she was comparing herself to where I am today in terms of exercise and I told her that she shouldn't do that.  My exercise routine right now is not the same as where I was a couple of years ago when I first started Weight Watchers and working out in general.  A couple of years ago, I felt the same exact way.  I hated going to the gym.  I found it boring and it was a chore to do.  This friend went from not working out at all to trying to do an every day exercise routine.  Doing that is sure to burn you out and get you frustrated.  When I started trying to be healthier, I was happy if I got myself to the gym 2-3 times a week.  And I did not love it and I did not feel as committed to it as I do now.  It definitely took a while for me to work up to where I am now.  It IS a journey.

Second, I let her know to keep trying different things to find out what works for her.  If you want working out to be a long term thing you have to find something that you enjoy.  It will never last if you are forcing yourself to do something.  You've got to keep trying until you find something you want to do.  I now see fitness and working out as a part of my life.  Yes, I originally started doing it to help me lose weight but I have continued with it because I enjoy it.  I've gotten to a point where it isn't a chore, but something that makes me feel good.

I enjoy it because I experimented until I found what I like and what keeps me going.  And it honestly took me a couple years to really figure that out.

I HATE the elliptical.  Some people can get on that thing and elliptical away for an hour.  I find that so boring and torturous.  Even now, I still don't like it.  I am also not one to be able to work out at home.  I could never do it with videos or use weights/exercise on my own.  I find that boring as well.

But what I do LOVE is going to classes.  Whether it's boot camp or spin classes or Zumba or yoga.  There is something about the "live" aspect of the class, the interaction with the other people in the class, the interaction with the teacher, etc.  I love it.  The "live" ness of it and interaction keeps it interesting and keeps me engaged.  Having others in the class and an instructor who knows my name and can push me... That keeps me from getting bored.

It probably all ties back to your own personality type, and I am the type of person that I gather energy from other people.  So classes and RACES are so energizing for me.

Also, what helps me keep from getting bored is challenging myself or working towards something.  I have a hard time getting myself to just go out and run.  I could never and have never run as much in my life as I am right now because I would get bored.  Just going out and running every day?  No thanks, boring.

But what's different and what makes it not boring now is that I am working towards something.  I am pushing myself which makes it hard and exciting.  I wasn't bored at all on my nine mile run this weekend.  Not once in the hour and 36 minutes it took me to complete it.  You know what?  Because it was freaking hard as hell and my mind was occupied pushing my will power and convincing myself to keep going.  No room for boredom up in here!

Her response: "I totally love all that you said.  Thank you for that :)"

Question #2: How do you cook healthy sweet potatoes?

I got a text message from a friend in L.A. asking how I cook sweet potatoes.  She said she'd been having a craving and knew that I eat these a lot.  In fact, I think I've cooked them for her before and she  wanted to know how I did it.

So, my favorite way to make sweet potatoes is to simply just bake them in the oven.  I first scrub the potatoes with a potato brush to clean the skin.  If you are opposed to eating the skin or think it's dirty or something, you can always peel it off, but I think it adds a nice crunch and texture.  You do have to make sure it is clean though!

I then will either cut the potatoes into just small chunks... maybe nickel sized.  Or I will cut them up so that they resemble small french fries.  Then I will put all of the potatoes into a big Ziploc bag with a teaspoon or so of olive oil (depending on how much you are making) and some salt and pepper, then shake it all up so everything is evenly coated then dump it onto a baking sheet.  I always put tinfoil on my baking sheets when I make this because I am lazy and don't feel like cleaning.  

Another option that I do more often is to spray the baking sheet with some Pam Olive Oil spray, put the potatoes down, then spray the top of the potatoes again, salt and pepper them, and boom you're done.

The important thing that I want to do is coat all of the potatoes in oil, and use as little oil as possible.  When you don't use oil, which I have forgotten to do before, the potatoes get dried out.  I bake them in the oven at 450 degrees for about 20ish minutes.  Halfway through while they are baking I pull the sheet out and toss the potatoes around a bit so they move around.  Once they are done.  You will have some lovely, delicious potatoes to eat!

Question #3: What do you think of those health Cadbury Egg recipes that are online right now?

No thanks, not for me.  Some things I just don't have the desire to healthify and will fit into my diet as they are.  To me, a Cadbury Egg is one of those.  As well, Shamrock Shakes (I saw a bunch of "healthy" versions of this online a couple weeks ago, but I went for the real thing.)  I find it more satisfying and enjoy looking forward to these things as "treats."

Also, I know myself well enough to know that it is dangerous for me to bake.  I end up eating way too much crap in the baking process and keeping any leftovers in my apartment... chocolate chips, sprinkles, frosting, etc. is just impossible for me.  It is smarter for me to go out and purchase a treat and really enjoy it then to buy and prepare a "healthier" version.  I would be done for :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

You make me so happy!

Hey guys, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who is always so positive about my training progress.  To the people that tell me that I inspire them, you really have no idea how great that makes me feel.  I know most of my readers are people that I know personally... from high school, family, etc.  So you all know that this whole "half marathon" and "running 9 miles" crap is really not the norm for me.  It's been such a fun journey for me that I'm still on and it means so much to have many of you there with me.

I got a text message from my friend Teenie last night saying that my blog from yesterday had inspired her to go outside and go for a run.  I thought that was amazing and it was such a reaffirming text message to receive.  It's a really cool feeling to be able to inspire positive change in people or make them think, "Hey, maybe I can do that too?" and it really makes me want to spend more time growing this blog and sharing with more people.

Often, I get questions from my friends who have seen my changes over the year and even just asking me a question really makes me feel great.  It's funny to me to have people ask for healthy cooking advice, recipes, or fitness/exercise questions because I don't feel like I am expert.  I am just a regular old person who a couple years ago [somehow] decided to make some changes in her life.  I guess that's maybe what makes it approachable for people to hear me talk about this junk?

There are a few blogs online that really inspire me.  One of which is Runs for Cookies, a blog from a girl who lost more than 120 pounds by taking up running!  One of the things that I've learned a lot about from reading Katie's blog is about identifying, and controlling, binge eating.  As well, I just love her outlook on things.  When Katie does her "long run" each week she uses the Weigh Watchers PointsPlus points she has earned on a special treat.  Lately it's been a Mrs. Fields cookie and frosting sandwich.  Yum!

I decided to do the same for my long run and had been planning all week to take myself out to ice cream at TCBY or Lemondrop or Sixteen Handles or one of the many, many indulgent candy-filled ice cream places that I love going to but have to keep myself away from, haha.  I was excited about going all week and having my "treat" after running but yesterday afternoon when I went out to do errands, for whatever reason I wasn't really in the mood for ice cream (well, in reality, it's frozen yogurt, topped with a shit ton of candy in my case.)  There was one thing that kept popping into my brain as what I wanted for my treat so I decided to just go for it.

Which was how I ended up stopping at a CVS, walking in directly to one of those big bins of Cadbury Eggs they have by the registers, picking one up and going directly to the check out with my debit card to pay for the $1.09 Cadbury Creme Egg.  "Don't judge." I told the check out guy, haha.

I think in the end he loved me because he was like, "Um... the Cadbury Eggs are buy one get one free." and I thought about it for a sec and responded, "Well.  I only want one.  So, do you want the other one?"

He thought for a second and said, "Okay."

So I grabbed another egg, gave it to him, and left to come home and sit and enjoy my Cadbury Egg.  If that doesn't sum up ME in a single interaction, I don't know what does :)

But let me tell you... that Cadbury Egg was GOOD!

Please excuse my chipped nails.  In addition, I ate my Cadbury Egg with a coffee that I had gotten from Dunkin Donuts that I brought home and added my Sugar Free Salted Caramel syrup to.  So good and such a delicious treat!

Now, in full disclosure, I probably continued indulging a little bit longer in the day than I should.  As I mentioned, we had a little bit of a girls night.  I totally forgot to take pictures but I put out a fairly healthy spread of veggies and hummus, chips and salsa, bread and dipping oil, a flatbread pizza, some "veggie birds' nests" and some vegan bakery snacks my friend Andrea brought over.  Well, and beer and wine.  Duh.

It was all delicious but I probably had a bite or two more than necessary.  Especially when I got home at 2:00 a.m. with my friend and raided the leftovers.  Woops!

Oh well, just like I didn't let my walking in my run yesterday ruin it, I won't let that ruin me either this week.  I just had a lovely breakfast of oatmeal mixed with fresh strawberries and cranberry tea and now I'm off the gym to get in a little swim.  Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Happy Saturday -- 9 miles down!!

Hey everyone, I hope you all have a great Saturday and have some fun weekend plans.  I'm having a bit of a "Girl's Night" tonight -- which I'm actually really looking forward to.  For a long time living in Albany I had mainly guy friends (I work with a lot of engineers...) and I have really high standards for my girl friends (ehem, some pretty awesome ladies in my life set the bar high!)  However, over the past couple years I've really come to be close and LOVE the girl friends I've made here in Albany.  I'm looking forward to hanging out and catching up with some of them tonight over food and drink.

Why I'm really excited right this moment though is that it is just after noon and I've already finished my long run for the weekend!  Nine miles!  I've been scared about this all week.  Especially since I really wanted to do it outside and the stupid snow we got this week wasn't really helping.  I also was feeling light-headed and not my best this week, for whatever reason.  Anyways, I had a low key night last night... actually ate some pasta mixed with steamed broccoli and chicken sausage, as I thought that'd be good fuel!  This morning I got up and stretched and went out and drove the course I'd looked up and figured out on Google Maps.  I wanted to make sure that the sidewalks were cleared and non-icy.

I was glad I took the time to drive the route because I actually ended up switching it up a bit after seeing some of the roads.  I drank some water this AM, had a Nutrigrain bar, and made myself a new playlist.  I also spent sometime messing around with the Garmin Forerunner watch that I asked for and received for Christmas.  I hadn't used it yet since I've just been on the treadmill but got it all ready to go.  Oh, and I went back to Fleet Feet the other day and returned the first pair of new sneakers and had gotten new ones... that are pink!  So, I was really ready to go and pumping myself up to be in the best position possible to complete this training run!

New sneakers, take 2!
Ready to go!
The first 2.5 miles of the run I felt okay... it was tough getting used to the cold air, changes in elevation, and the wind.  In all my mental "you can do this" talks I'd been giving myself I'd only been thinking about the 9 mile distance and totally forgot that in my first run outside of the season.... I was also going to be really affected by the wind and elevation!! So I am pretty bummed to have to say that I did walk portions of the run.  I made it to about 2.5 miles then I walked up a hill.

However, I am REALLY proud of myself that I started running again and completed the 9 miles!  This is something else that has been a change in me over the years.  I mean, this isn't the first time I've set out to run a certain distance and not been able to make it.  However, a lot of times if I were to set out to do a certain distance... say it's 4 miles and I have to walk at 2... I would probably end up walking the rest of the 2 miles, rather than take a little break and keep going.

Sometimes I have that self destructive mindset of, "Well, I already ruined my run for the day by walking, I might as well just give up completely on this run and try again another time."  It's also the same thought process that sometimes sends me on spirals of, "Well I've been eating like crap for the past couple days so I might as well keep eating junk food for the rest of the week and start over next week."

These little patterns/habits can be really harmful and something I'm working a lot on is not getting down on myself for little bumps or rough patches such as these.  So yes, at 2.5 miles I walked.  I mean, I've been running 3 miles or more for a while now... on the treadmill.  But my body was feeling different running outside, my butt was killing me!  I let myself walk a little, then I kept going.  I had to walk a few other times, but every time I kept running again.  And what I'm most proud of is that I finished the last three miles of the run without walking at all -- miles 6 to 9 I didn't stop at all, and trust me, I wanted to!

I have to say also, I really liked running with the Garmin.  It was so cool to be able to look down and see the exact distance I'd run, my pace, and how long I'd been running.

When I got home and got it connected to the computer and synced too, it was even cooler all the data I was able to get on my run!  I also used a heart rate monitor for the first time.  Here are some of the screen grabs I pulled:

I picked a route to run that was out 4.5 miles then back, which is cool to see how the elevation is a mirror image of itself.  You can also see where I stopped to stretch for a second right after I turned around to return home.  Pretty cool!

And one other thing about the heart rate monitor... I've seen people use these a lot, they go right around your chest, under where your bra sits for the girls.  I always imagined it being tight and uncomfortable, but it really wasn't at all.  I didn't even notice it and totally forgot it was even on.  I also will admit that I smiled a little bit when I went to put it on because I didn't need to adjust the sizing at all.  It fit me perfectly.  Which, I translate to meaning that I am the exact "average" size that they imagine runners to be.  I know, that their market includes men and women so maybe that's not as exciting as it should be to me.  But as someone who spent the majority of my life as a bigger girl, I'm used to most "average" sized things being to small and having to adjust things to fit my bigger size.  To fit into things off the shelf or out of the box in this case... is still an exciting feeling for me :)

Well, I am going to go get something to eat and get ready to hang with the girls tonight.  Happy weekend everyone!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Whatever I Want Friday

What I'm listening to: 

Emeli Sande "Next to Me"

What's Making me Sick: 

Steubenville rapes.

What's Making Me Laugh:

And this...

What I Learned from This Week:

One shocking thing about the HIV-free baby.

Annndd.... my life in an animated GIF.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A post of random pictures...

So, there are all sorts of random things I want to take about/share today but I figure I will best do them through a series of photos that I've been taking on my iPhone.  I haven't been talking much about what I've been eating on a daily basis, which I did a lot of last week.  I personally think that's fine but I had a few good eats over the past few days that I wanted to share with you.  So, here it goes.  A random Wednesday picture post...

First off, this weather.  Can we get a break, please??  I snapped this at a red light coming home from the gym on Tuesday night.  It really doesn't do it justice because the snow was literally coming down in blankets.  When I left to go to the gym, the snow had stopped, which was what I thought made venturing out okay.  But 3 miles on the treadmill and a hot yoga class later (yes, I tried another one!), this is what I had waiting for me...

This is how I feel about the snow:

Enough already!!!  I am ready to start running outside.  I've got some big runs coming up... like the 9 miles I am supposed to do this weekend and I do not want to have to do it on the treadmill!  Every snowflake that fell I just kept thinking about how long it would take to melt and how much I wanted to be running outside.

Speaking of running though, my feet are getting torn apart.  I hope this isn't gross, but I'm hoping that some runners may have experienced this and could help?  I just am getting blistered and sore and weird pains in my feet.  I have never had one of these before but I think I have a bunion or a corn or something like that on my toes, which makes running, and even walking really painful.  Ugh.  I don't know what to do about it.  I did know I needed new sneaks and went out today to buy some.  Check out these bad boys...

I bought the green laces special because I thought they made them kind of fun.  However, I'm totally disappointed because I literally bought these tonight and then went right to the gym to run 5 miles.  I now have NEW blisters on my feet and I sort of felt like I was having a problem that I had a couple years ago when my feet would go numb when I ran.  I am not sure if the blisters/feelings were just because the sneakers weren't broken in?  I don't know.  But I am going to be going back to Fleet Feet in Albany tomorrow to see what the deal is because blisters are not cool. Until then, I guess these things will continue to be my best friend:

They seriously are magic for blisters.  And by the way, like my orange nails?  Go Syracuse!! We play tomorrow for the March Madness tournament and I can't wait!

Anyways, to continue with the randomness, some of what I've been eating lately has been pretty yummy.  I told you before about the edamame packets I've been having as snacks at work but wanted to share a picture so you can see the label/serving size.  It is pretty decent amount and it is only 2 Weight Watchers PointsPlus!

I also indulged a little this week for one of my worktime snacks.  But what can I say?  Sometimes it's just a milk and cookies kind of day!

Then for a dinner this week I tried a new frozen meal from Trader Joe's.  It was 9 Weight Watchers PointsPlus and it was delicious!!  I love Indian food and often over indulge... the naan, the rice, the sauces, etc.... man, they are just so good.  This meal really did the trick to satisfy a craving for one of my favorite Indian food dishes and was really filling and fast (duh, it's a frozen meal.)  One thing that I did with this that I totally recommend is to have some sort of a vegetable on the side.  The dish comes with a LOT of sauce.  I realized that once I finished the rice and cheese portion of this, I had a ton of the sauce left so I heated up some steamed broccoli I had in the fridge and used the leftover sauce on the broccoli.  I think it would have been even better if I had made some spinach ahead of time and mixed it in at the beginning of the meal.  I may have bought a few more of these meals so that I can try that next time around :)

I love taking frozen meals or packaged foods and "doctoring" them up to make them a little more special (aka my sugar free salted caramel chocolate pudding... yum!)  Oh and by the way, I don't know how to make this picture not sideways.

My dinner tonight did require a little more work on my part though.  Luckily, most of the prep work I had done earlier in the week so I was ready when I walked in the door from the gym to make a quick 10 minute meal and sit down and eat.

I wanted to use up more of that chicken sausage I'd gotten last week so I have two links of the chicken sausage prepared different ways... I started by chopping up the chicken sausage and just browning it on the stove.  Then, half of it I mixed with some spaghetti squash I had roasted yesterday and a spoonful of pesto.  The other half of the chicken sausage I topped with some Shirazi Salad that I made yesterday as well.  Shirazi Salad is really just a simple salad of cucumber, tomato, red onion, and lime juice.  Well, that's all I put in it anyways, but there are different variations out on the Internet.  It is a Persian dish I learned from my old roommate and it is delicious.  In fact, it's actually made an appearance on the blog before!

To make the salad, you just toss everything up and add it all together.  But you don't use regular cucumbers, you use the little mini baby cucumbers that are often in stores labeled as "Persian Cucumbers."  They are on sale this week at Trader Joe's if anyone is interested in trying this out!

If you are interested in trying it, it's a perfect week to do it because today is actually Persian New Year!!!  Happy Nowruz to all of my Persian friends out there :)  I had the pleasure of learning about and celebrating this holiday a couple years ago with my roommate and there is so much delicious food, fun tradition, and familial celebration with this holiday.  I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to learn about it and also add some yummy recipes to my arsenal!

So, I think that's all I've got for you today!  I've got some additional posts/things I want to write about over the next few days but I'm not sure if I will get to it tomorrow.  I want to tell you about the Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem I ate at and also share with you a little Q&A of random questions I've gotten from my friends over the past couple days about food and exercise.

Before I go -- a big GO ORANGE to Syracuse in tomorrow night's game!  It doesn't start until 10:00 p.m. tomorrow so it'll be a late night for me but I'm always happy to cheer on the Orangemen!

P.S. I still was too scared to weigh in at Weight Watchers today, even though I'm still going to the meetings.  I think maybe next week I'll be ready?  I hope :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NYC Half Marathon: A recap in being a cheerleader!

So this past weekend I went to New York City for the night with my friend Dani and had an amazing time!  I decided to go and cheer Dani on in the NYC Half Marathon that she was running. Dani and I began training at around the same time and she has been a great support to me as I have gone about my first half marathon.  She brought me to the hot yoga class a couple weeks ago and we've been swapping running plans.  This was her second half marathon, and the professional fan in me couldn't resist the trip to go cheer her on.  She had me totally hooked when she suggested we try a restaurant I've been wanting to eat at in Harlem, the Red Rooster.

Immediately when we got to the city we went to the Half Marathon race expo to check Dani in and pick up her race packet.  I knew right away that it was going to be a good weekend because the race expo was just so damn inspiring!  The walls were filled with little panels that runners could fill out with the reasons why they run.  Dani and I both filled one out and added it to the collection.

I put up "to challenge myself" and Dani added "because it is a happiness spiral."  Something about adding our messages to the big wall makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger -- a community of people from different backgrounds, which different reasons for participating, who are all out to achieve the same goal.  It was then that I started to get really excited to soon join the group of people who are "half marathon-ers."

Some of the posts really made me tear up.  Like these two:

And some just made me smile, because I totally am in the same boat :)

The expo was really fun that definitely I think set the right mode for Dani and I getting ready for the rest of the weekend: silly, fun, and inspiring!

Official pre-race photo :)
We spent the rest of the afternoon grabbing some food and a drink (hey it was St. Patrick's Day weekend!) and checking in to the hotel that Dani had booked.  We ate dinner at the Red Rooster, which was AMAZING (more to come on that later) before an early bedtime for Dani since the race had an early start time of 7:30 a.m.  Before we went out to dinner I shared with Daniella the little surprise I had for her.  I'd spent the night before coloring and had made a special sign to use to cheer her on.  Woohoo!!  Keep it up Dani :)

I have to say that I was so impressed with Daniella's attitude going into the race.  I know that I am going to be a complete spaz the night before my half marathon but she was so easy going.  Her goal for the race was just to have fun and complete the half marathon.  Her attitude really impressed me and made me think I sometimes put too much pressure on myself and the things I set out to do.  She was so positive the whole time!

The next morning Dani set off early to get ready for the run and I followed a little bit later, using the race's iPhone app to track where she was.  My friend Kristen met up with me to take part in the inspirational marathon viewing experience... seriously, two thumbs up to her for joining me on the early, early morning!  Kristen and I were ready and waiting at the 7 mile mark to be able to cheer Daniella on!  I was so nervous that I'd miss her but it was AWESOME to get to actually see her running by.  And we actually did a quick clothing drop off to get rid of some of her extra layers.  Then she was off again!

Then comes the part where I didn't plan the timing right and tried to get to the mile 11 mark, but missed her.  Then tried to get to the finish line, but apparently missed here there.  However, it was so inspiring to see all of the runners finishing.  Especially the people holding hands at the finish line, running with their kids, crying, etc.  It reminded me of that amazing feeling of accomplishment you get when completing a race.  Something that I am SO looking forward to feeling next month!!!

Here are a few more pictures of the race, and of our post-race celebrations.  But I just want to say a huge congratulations to Daniella for letting me be a part of her NYC Half Marathon experience.  She seriously, KILLED it, PRing by a ton and honestly, I think blowing past the expectations she set for herself.  I'm so proud of her and it was such a fun experience to cheer her on!  And thank you to Kristen for joining in the day!!

I don't know why I am awkwardly squatting here...
Again, the squat...
The finish shoot!
Post race mimosa!
At the time of this post we're 38 days until my race in Nashville!  I've got some tough, long runs coming up, and if the snow keeps falling, I will not be able to run outside for a while.  So I'm going to need all the inspiration I can get, but I am so looking forward to joining Daniella in the half marathoners club!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Reflecting on past St. Patty's days & a very happy birthday message!

So another St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone.  I had a great time in New York City this past weekend -- which I'll recap for you soon.  But there's something else I wanted to write about today... there is just something about funny holidays like this one that makes me reflect a lot on the years past.  I don’t get like that so much around more traditional holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter, because like many people, I do the same thing with my family every year.  But times like St. Patrick’s or July 4th, or birthdays!, I tend to sit back and think, “What did I do last year for this holiday?  The year before?  Five years ago?”  Because the days are memorable and because they generally involve friends and fun, it’s easy to remember and interesting to recall where I was, what I did, who I was with, and what was important in my life at that time.  Parties, parades, and friends... I've had some really fun times over the past few years.

Six years ago on St. Patrick’s Day 2007, I celebrated in Venice, Italy with a group of amazing friends I'd only known for a few months at the time.  We’d just spent a week in Corfu, Greece for spring break while studying abroad in Florence.  We put on whatever green clothing we had, and went out for one more night of partying.  Now, I can’t say that Venice was really the most happening place to party in general.  Or that they had any sort of interest in St. Patrick’s Day, but it was a blast.  March 18th was also one of my best friend’s 21st birthday.  Which, despite being in a country where we could legally drink before that milestone, was still a reason to celebrate.  We had so much fun that night in Venice, and have so many silly memories and laughs from that St. Patrick’s Day, the week leading up to it, and pretty much every day of my entire study abroad experience.

Lauren's 21st birthday in Venice, Italy
 It’s crazy to think that was six years ago that we were celebrating in Florence.  What is even crazier is that my friend, whose 21st birthday we were celebrating that night, is right now days away from what will be a life-changing event, as she is 9 months pregnant!!  Now, when we get together, it’s not to roam the wind roads of Venice, but to organize baby stuff, and help get her apartment ready for the new arrival.

Exploring Italy
A visit to Albany!
I am so excited for Lauren and her new adventures ahead of her.  It’s crazy how time goes by.  In the words of John Mayer (and my high school senior quote in the yearbook) “Isn’t it a shame, times of changed.  But isn’t it strange, lifelines stay the same.”  Some days I would give anything to be back living in Florence, almost carefree, exploring Europe.  However, I love where I am now in life and the exciting things that come with getting older.  One of my best friends is going to officially be a mom soon.  I see how happy she is and it makes me happy.  Lauren is one of the bravest, most caring, fun, and happiest people I have ever met in my life.  I feel lucky to know her and can’t wait to meet what will certainly be one of the cutest and by far, most loved, babies in the world!  Congrats Lauren and Sean and happy birthday to my girl crush!

Happy Birthday Future Mama!!

P.S.  Lauren’s sisters threw her the CUTEST shower that I attended a few weeks ago.  Check out these pictures!!  Every detail was amazing and the day was a complete blast.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pi Day and Shamrock Shakes

[As a quick disclaimer I am writing this post from the Blogger app on my phone. I'm currently on a Megabus headed to NYC. I've never used this app so I don't know how it will appear online or where the photos I'm attaching will really show up. Bear with me!]

Hi everybody! Sorry I've been MIA the past couple days. I promise I've been thinking about you a lot, just was super swamped and stressed this week with work that the last thing I wanted to when I got home was spend more time on the computer.

I also sort of realized last night that my post from Wednesday maybe wasn't live? I don't know why but Blogger seems to be sing something weird where it doesn't really push my posts live even when I've hit publish. It's happened a few times now and I'm not exactly sure why and frankly I've been too lazy to really investigate but nonetheless I apologize!

The end of the week went really well, aside from having some challenges at work. I ran 3 miles on Thursday, per my training plan, and in honor of Pi Day (3/14) I let my inner nerd come through and snapped the picture of the treadmill at 3.14 miles!

Friday was a fun day as we encouraged employees to dress green for St. Patrick's Day and had a mini breakfast and coffee for everyone. I got in the spirit a bit myself and dressed up, baked cookies, and held a special challenge for my friends!

When I was in elementary school, my principal used to hold a St. Patrick's Day challenge for students to dress festively and one boy and one girl from each grade would be chosen as the winner and the principal would buy them a shamrock shake at lunch from McDonalds! Now, as you may imagine, this was pretty much the coolest thing possible to me and I would get DECKED OUT every year in hopes of winning that delicious minty concoction that only comes out in March every year.

That used to make things so fun so I decided to offer the same challenge to my coworkers. I am always looking for ways to make being at work a bit more fun and interesting. If you think about how much time we spend at the office each week, it's just not worth it to me to not enjoy yourself and be comfortable and happy and have fun. I think some people forget that sometimes and I'm lucky enough to work in an office that allows and even, encourages, my goofiness and funny ideas.

Some people just ignore my emails all together but that doesn't bother me. If I can make one or two people smile, then it is a success to me. And yes, I include myself in that count of one or two people who smile. My happiness is important in this equation too!!

Anyways, a number of people dressed up in green and it was fun to pick 3 winners that I went out over lunch and bought Shamrock Shakes for. And then one for me of course :)

It made what otherwise was a really busy Friday in the office, a little more fun. In elementary school, Mr. Smith offered this challenge only every St. Patty's but I'm now going to look for more ways to incorporate this challenge/reward concept into my life. And my coworkers for that matter!