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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Happy To Go, Happy To Be Back

We always love to go on vacation, don't we?  I do.  As long as it's organized, I feel like I have the proper clothing packed, and I have at least 4-6 books with me.  Here's a short photo montage of what I did over Memorial Day Weekend:
Hot chocolate & truffle from Kakawa Chocolate House in Santa Fe

Fantastic Basil-Grapefruit Martini made by my big Bro!

Echo Canyon, NM
Beautiful Hideaway 

My sweetie Bud

Random Artistic Shot

Santa Fe Ski Area

What can I say?  A lovely visit with my brother and sister-in-law, great food, good booze, and 5 days of all Bud, all the time.  Escaping everyday life just for a few days is pretty much the cure for stress and the blahs any day.  I have now eaten my fill of green chile covered food for the year and am ready to jump into Summer right here at home.  

Making my to-do list right now...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Another 5K Done....And Scene

Today I ran the Marion Arts Festival 5K, which is usually the first large 5K run where I live.  It is in conjunction with a one day festival for arts and crafts and brings a lot of people out.  

I ran this one by myself, cause the unthinkable happened:  my sister was closed out of the registration.  Yep.  For the first time in its history, the race had to close at 1500 people.  They also had a 1/2 marathon for the first time, too.  Over 900 people signed up for that one.  I had pangs, but knew very well that it would be a disaster, since  A) I haven't trained
B) I haven't trained and C) I haven't trained.  Nope.  Could barely squeeze out a 3.1 miler.  

Last year this race was rainy and a bit gloomy.  Other years it's been chilly in the morning and then comfortable running.  I know 3 miles doesn't sound like much, but when it rapidly warms up in the morning (I think it was around 70 when we started) I sweat like the most disgusting thing around.  

I will say this:  I managed to run up the hill in the cemetery.  All the way up.  It is a total bitch.  You run down a long hill, turn a corner, then immediately begin a loooong climb to the top of the hill.  It's really the only horrible part of the race.  I remember the first time I ran this race--I had no idea about this hill and just about peed my pants.  That was also the first year I started running, and had never heard of actually doing hill work.  

I had to take walk breaks.  Disgusting.  But then I said "oh, f***k it" and stopped being so mean to myself.  That damn sun was beating down, and I could feel myself starting to over heat.  I put the hammer down on the last bit of the race and ran like hell.  It felt good.  Until I crossed the finish line and felt like I was going to toss my cookies all over the people around me.  Oops.  Water!!  Water!!  

Meanwhile, my friend from work, Michael, was pounding out that half marathon.  He's damn fast.  He managed to finish it in 1:27 and placed first in his age, and 10th overall.  Amazing.  We drove the route last night and I was never so thankful to not be running a race.  This half was all over town, on trails, out in the middle of nowhere, and went from gravel paths to cement to black top roads.  Uggh.  I felt nervous for Michael, but he kicked it!  So yes, he managed to run 13.1 miles faster than I could run 3.1.  I find can see the humor in that.  Yes indeed.  I am happy I managed to run the race a few minutes faster than the one I did less than a month ago.  I'm toying with setting a goal to get under 30 minutes for a 5k this year.  I think the best I've done is 29 minutes, and that was many years ago.  I like the idea of signing up and doing races with minimal time to get nervous, so I'm hoping my Saturdays off this summer will coincide with a few 5K's around CR.  

My next race will be the Alliant Energy 4th of July Race.  It's a 5 miler, and my sister is going to do it, so I have to work hard the next month and get my shit together.  I didn't run it last year because they changed the route and it runs in an area of CR where I had my horrible half marathon experience the year before.  I shall defeat you, horrible memories! And then I can drink beer and eat 4th of July stuff that isn't so good for me.  

And how did this go with my 24 day program?  Well, I got up early and drank my *spark* drink which helped me wake up.  I didn't eat anything or take my meal replacement shake.  I didn't relish the thought of running with 24 grams of chocolate protein sloshing in my tummy.  As it was, I had to pee twice before the race started.  After the race, I drank water and had a chunk of bagel.  Then I decided to look at the food tents and got a really yummy vegetarian wrap:  hummus, red peppers, lettuce, carrots, and zucchini in a whole wheat wrap.  It was really quite tasty, and made me feel like I was at least trying to stay on the path of good eating.  I passed up the free spaghetti and garlic bread a local place was handing out to runners.  Just didn't sound so hot at 9 AM!  But hummus did.  

This will be my last post for a while, as I take some time off and try to relax in the midst of chaos.  As Bud told me yesterday, "You're trying to do too much and it's gonna kill you!"  Let's just say the last 2 weeks in May are chock full and I will be moving through them in a whirl of many things.  I'll get through it!  

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, and to all those runners out there, have fun!  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Another Week of May, Another Week of Crazy

Wow.  May is flying by!  Here it is Monday again.  Last week I did finally buy flowers for the garden, but I still have a few to plant.  Basil, oregano, thyme, and cilantro are all potted and happily soaking up the sun on my back patio.  My death spray seems to have done the job pretty well on my goosey plants, so I still have a large job pulling all those up--so I can make room for a few butterfly bushes and lily plants.  Hope to do that this week--kinda have to do it this week or forget about it.

How's the "diet" going?  Pretty well.  I am very surprised I've been good for two weeks!  I think spending a bit of money on this plan has kept me on the straight and narrow.  I don't want to waste all that money and not have a good outcome.  I have discovered I really really like barley.  I've been making barley salads for lunch--tomatoes, olives, basil, artichokes, beans, lemon juice & olive oil.  That and fruit (what ever is on sale) are my lunches.  I'm supposed to be eating chicken or tuna for lunch, but I don't like tuna, and I just don't want to eat chicken salad for lunch.  I'll try it again next week--which is the end of my 24 day plan.  I'm happy with how my middle feels--not feeling icky and unpleasantly full after eating, feeling a bit more clear-headed.  I didn't realize what a fog I was in eating so much dairy and "white" stuff.  I can't say this is a permanent shift in how I eat, but I will certainly think about what I stuff in my face.  I still haven't had any dairy (day 15!) and I have eaten just a bit of whole grain bread.  I am afraid to "break the seal".  I bought a new battery for the scale and stepped on it last week for the first time in over a year.  To my utter surprise, I have lost weight and even though I didn't measure myself before this started, I can tell I've lost inches.  How much, I have no clue.  But clothes fit better, my legs look thinner, and I just don't feel so heavy anymore.  I think my goal of -25 pounds is doable, and I plan on continuing on the vitamin/appetite control portion of this plan all summer.  Bless my brain for doing this in the Spring, when there are more fruit and veggie options available.  In the Winter this would have been an epic fail.

This will, however, be firmly tested on vacation.  Bud and I haven't eaten out since I started this, and with his support I've been towing the line.  But on vacation, I will be sorely tempted--mostly to eat dairy and drink booze.  Moderation is my mantra!

And did I mention sweet potatoes?  Bud and I discovered sweet potato fries last year and I made some at home, which we immediately loved.  We bake them instead of deep fry them.  Since they're on my list of good foods, I made them last week and now I have to make more this week.  I love them!  Sprinkle them with chili powder and they are an awesome combo of sweet and spicy.  I'll be making a batch tomorrow to eat with my lunches.  

But I still miss my chocolate.  Drinking a chocolate meal replacement shake for breakfast is all that is holding me back from rushing to the store and buying every piece of chocolate I see.  I am thinking about chocolate cake a lot.  Shit--it's my only obsession.  Well--and coffee.  Still no coffee.  I want it, and want it bad--but I don't want to start on the slippery slope.  

What's your latest obsession food-wise?  I have found my imagination and sense of taste recall is amazing.  When I crave something I think about actually eating it, tasting it, and enjoying it.  It helps get rid of the craving.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Book Review: Drop Dead Healthy

Health has been on my mind lately since I've been trying to eat better through a 24 day plan of cleansing and not eating or drinking any of the taste-tastic stuff I love to eat every week.  I'm down to water, fruit, veggies, and meat.  It's been long enough that now I feel guilty for even having thoughts of eating a baguette--like I'm contemplating having an affair on the side.  How quickly our brains turn on us!

I read Drop Dead Healthy this week on my quest to A) Feel better about my plan and B) read another book off my floor.  Yes, I do have stacks of books on my floor.  

I like A.J. Jacobs.  He's funny, and his two year quest to try out all of the ways we can become healthy beings was an entertaining read.   He really does tackle many issues.  Each chapter is about a body part or a body system.  He starts running and explores barefoot running (through Central Park--brave man!);  he gets a treadmill and sets up an "office" on it so he can walk while sending out emails and writing this book.  By the way, he walks over 1100 miles on his treadmill while typing out this book!  Amazing.  He signs up for a triathlon, explores acupuncture, works at his eating habits, and along the way learns a lot about our quest as a society to be healthy.

It's complicated.  So many different ways people work to be healthy, so many of them contradict each other, and so many of them just don't have much science to back them up.  A.J. Jacobs decides the best is the simplest:  get enough sleep, eat healthy, and do some form of exercise every day.  Sounds easy, right?  But then life gets in the way and before we know it, we've fallen into those slacker habits.

Drop Dead Healthy is an entertaining read chock full of all the many choices we have about our health.  It's kind of mind-boggling to have so much presented in one book, but it's done with humor and you become invested in the author's quest to be healthy.  After two years, he's lost 15 pounds and is physically stronger.  He's still working on his quest to get enough quality sleep.  But he does realize that working at being healthy must be balanced with family time.  It's very easy to have gym classes, runs, and workouts take up a lot of time that should be family time.  It's a balancing act that can be tough.

I would recommend this book if you like a humorous look at the many different ways we strive to be healthy.  A.J. Jacobs does all the work so we don't have to--but you can read this at the gym!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Moment of Absolute Positivity: Now I Must Lie Down

It just hit me, just for a brief moment:  bliss and excitement.  Holy shit, that doesn't happen often.  May is gathering steam, and I'm trying to hang on to the train as it flies through the month.  But just sitting here, thinking about this week, and making plans, I had some thoughts so exciting I almost jumped out of my skin!  And I can't blame it on coffee since I haven't had any for over a week.

What the heck am I so excited about?  Sounds stupid, I know, but I'm excited about many things.  My darling niece went to her senior prom this weekend, and I was happy to help her get her hair done.  She looked adorable and very excited.  It made me happy.  It is true, ladies, that sometimes having our hair done is the penultimate in feeling good.  And helping a lovely young lady feel good about herself is even better.

I am finally going to buy flowers this week!  After the shock of walking out in my yard yesterday, and seeing the weeds all over my garden, I am busy making a plan on what to do and when.  Friday is my day off, and it's going to be garden day.  Buying dirt, potting soil, herbs, flowers.  More pea gravel for my side garden.  I can't wait to get everything planted--although this does mean I will not be able to walk or cook at all on Friday.  I will be in pain.  I accept this.  The flowers are worth it.  

And I'm getting out there and running.  The problem with not running for months is that when I do begin again, my body has completely forgotten that six months ago I could run 13.1 miles.  I am not an athlete.  This body was not made to effortlessly run, kick, hit or catch balls without looking completely awkward and geeky.  I wish I was a natural athlete.  I'm a natural eater of all things doughy.  That's my talent. But  am persevering and slowly, very slowly, seeing a bit of progress.  I'm still fairly certain my next 5K will be an exercise in pain, but I don't care.  It will be fun!

And after tomorrow, I will get to expand my food choices.  This makes me giddy.  I made a mediterranean barley salad last night for supper, and it tasted pretty good. (Bud completely ignored it).   But really, I want some pasta.  And I am willing to eat the whole wheat stuff (which I've tried many times, and don't like) again just so I can have some pasta.  I'm going to make some pizza dough that is a bit healthier than the usual and have some grilled pizza!  Can't wait for that!  As I said in my post yesterday, I have slipped a time or two, but overall, I'm surprised at my willpower.  Even reading a kid's novel about a house made from chocolate cake didn't phase me.  

And vacation is coming in a few short weeks.  I will have a moment or two of panic when I realize this in another week as I try to frantically figure out what I'm going to wear.  And take some time to play with my camera.  Bud showed me a fabulous panoramic picture function on it that will be perfect for our trip.

And what excites me most is my trip with Bud.  We haven't been on vacation together for years.  Actually getting on a plane and flying away.  It's only for a long weekend but I'll take it.  And seeing my brother and sister-in-law makes me smile.  We are geeks.  We talk about books, eat good food, and drink.  It will be good for Bud to relax and enjoy being away from it all.  And I am always happy visiting two of my most favorite people on this planet.

And once we get back, I have two days to make food and get decorations for my niece's graduation party.  I'm helping her pull it all together.  Did I mention I have to work those two days?  It's going to be a whiz bang week.

Off to mow.  I sat and read a book yesterday, in between laundry and dishes.  Pictures will be forthcoming of my GREAT GARDEN EXTRAVAGANZA.  But for now, here's some pictures of flowers blooming in spite of my neglect:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Week Without Bread Or Coffee-Am I Really That Stupid?

This is how I've felt many times this week.  And Bud can attest to my battle to stay on course with a 10 day cleanse that has denied my body all the good things in life while making it function on only "clean" foods:  veggies, fruit, and meat.  

I hate it.  I have had a few internal meltdowns, and I have made some boo-boos.  I even went for a late night limo ride on Wednesday night with friends (friend's husband turned 40) and was given a plastic cup of margarita. I caved to peer pressure and I drank it.  And felt horribly wretched.  It felt like someone had given me an IV of pure sugar.  It made me kinda queasy.  That's the only sugar I've had this week besides the actual sugar in fruit.  The next day, in penance for my horrible sin, I only drank water and followed the cleanse to the letter.  I have a canker sore in my mouth from drinking so much water with lemon and using lemon juice in everything I eat.  I still love lemons, but I want them with pasta, mixed with olives and goat cheese on a baguette, and in a cake!

I have three days left on the cleanse portion, then I get to leave it behind and continue on the next 14 days, where my diet can open up a bit--and I can drink coffee again!  But still no bread or dairy.  Not drinking pop had proven to be a non-issue, since I don't drink it much anyway.  The only dairy I really miss is parmesan cheese!  And I do miss eating bruschetta.  I have ached for a giant slice of chocolate cake, too.  And working at a place with a cafe that regularly bakes cookies, brews coffee, and makes pizzas has its moments.  And I can't avoid the cafe, since as a manager I have to check on them throughout my shift.  It is taking nerves of steel!

I joined the fabulous Cinderita in her quest to do 50 crunches every day for 100 days.  It's actually pretty simple and takes very little time.  I will have hard abs under all this fat!  And I've been running since I've got another 5K in two weeks and I know my sister is going to kick my ass at this race.  Hills, hills, hills.  

So I'm a bit crabby.  Have I lost any weight?  I don't really know.  Pants feel a bit looser around my waist, but nothing drastic.  My gut doesn't feel icky at all, so I guess not eating the dairy and "white stuff" does have an effect on my digestive system.  This will not stop me, however, from diving into a giant wedge of cheese, drinking a bottle of wine, and stuffing my face with a baguette at the end of this month!  I just know I will suffer for it.  But I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

24 Day Program: Day Three Feels Like Day Eleventy Billion

I have never tried a "diet" program in my life.  Cause I know it won't work.  But this one made me think "Hey dufus, you need to try it!" So I've begun my 24 day program to help me kick some bad habits, clean out my system, and eat foods that my body will crave instead of the bad stuff.

It sucks.  

For the first 3 days, I drink a fiber filled drink in the morning before I eat breakfast.  Then after three days of this, I stop taking the fiber drink until day 8.  In between, I start taking a vitamin packet and a meal replacement shake for breakfast, but everything else stays the same.  At day 8, it's another 3 days of the fiber drink.  Then after that, it's back to the shake and the vitamin packets.  While I'm on the "cleanse" portion, I'm not supposed to have any fried foods (not so tough to do), caffeine, booze, or fat.  The fat part is the tough part.  Making scrambled eggs without any butter is not the best scenario.  But I did, and added cilantro to them to give me a taste sensation in the morning.  

It's forced me to scour the internet for tasty salad recipes.  Lots of fresh veggies, fruits, and lean meats.  Lots of water.  I haven't been drinking enough of that, so I'm going to walk around with a water bottle to keep myself drinking water all day.  This isn't necessarily a problem, since I either drink iced tea or water every day anyway.  Not having coffee these first 10 days has been tough.  The gloomy, cool weather always kicks in that coffee "need" for comfort.  And not eating any dairy is part of the first 10 day plan.  So far that hasn't really been an issue, since I cut way back last month when I figured out skim milk was giving me tummy issues.

So I'm hoping this 24 day program will help me restart my taste buds and give me a different craving--one for fruit and veggies.  Bud is totally on board with me and happy I'm trying something for myself.  He's been warned that what I'm cooking will be super healthy and he's happy to try my recipes.  I don't think he will want to eat all the salads I found that contain beans.  These will probably remain my lunch salads for work.  I can't wait to try some of them.  The key for me to lunch is eating enough that I'm full, enough protein that I stay full, but not so much carbs that I fall into a food coma an hour later.  It's especially important if I'm going to run after work.  I have to eat early enough that I can digest lunch and eat the right stuff so I don't feel gross when I run.  

I did find a wonderful blog that has so many great recipes I don't know what to try first.  Check it out if you're looking for tasty, healthy meals to make for your family or yourself. It's called and as soon as I'm off this first 10 days I'm going to make this bangin' shrimp recipe for Bud and I.  

Will I lose weight?  I don't know.  I hope so.  But for me, the most important thing is learning to eat the good stuff, and kick that sugar craving to the curb--or at least put a leash on it!