Friday, May 31, 2013

Non-Scale Victories: I Registered for a Half Marathon

I have officially lost my mind.  Like for realsies.  I have been threatening to register for a September half marathon for weeks now and this morning was the last day to get the discounted registration fee.  So I did it.  I registered for a half marathon!  

I won't officially start training for it until July which gives me all of June to build up my mileage and, you know, get to where I can run 10k without stopping, let alone a full 13.1 miles.  But I'm proud of myself for taking this step.  There was a time in my life when I wouldn't have dreamed of signing up for a half marathon.  Ashley the kid couldn't even do the one mile run in gym class.  If you had told me  then that Ashley the twenty-something would voluntarily sign up for a 13.1 mile run I would have laughed in your face and told you that was impossible.  

Signing up for this race means more to me than just slapping down a (whopping) registration fee and getting a goodie bag on race day.  Because I didn't sign up to race; I signed up to change my life.  I knew when I started this journey that if I really wanted to lose the weight and keep it off forever, the cost of changing myself would be paid in my sweat, pain and tears.  But I also knew that once I paid that price there wouldn't be any turning back.  For me, this race is about moving forward and moving on to a place I've never been and saying goodbye to the girl I used to be because part of paying for change is letting her go.  

I am becoming a new woman.  I will be strong, I will be dauntless, I will do things I thought were impossible.  I will change one day at a time, one step at a time, until I come out on the other side better for having had the experience.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Death, a Birth, and a Run

Since last we spoke, there has been a birth and a death in my life.  My first pair of running shoes died at a ripe old age and my second pair of running shoes came into this world.  Can we have a moment of silence for some old friends who served me well?

And a warm welcome for some new friends who are eager to prove themselves and make their contribution to my weight loss efforts?

The running store I go to is run by a pair of runners who, while not particularly loquacious, really know their stuff and get you in and out the door in the right shoes fast.  One of the two owners commented that my old shoes must be around 8 months old when I told him I thought I needed new shoes. He was close. I've had them for 6.   He asked me approximately three questions: Same thing? What size are you? How do they feel?  He put me in a new pair of Brooks Adrenaline, sent me to run around the parking lot and make sure they felt okay, and had the shoes and a new pair of socks rung up in under ten minutes.  I was out the door and on my way before I knew it.  It was kind of anticlimactic, actually. I took them out for a 2 mile run this morning and I think we're going to do alright together.  

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Fitbit Personal Record

Today I had nothing better to do than walk like a fiend.  My efforts resulted in a Fitbit PR to be proud of: 35,295 steps walked in one day.  That, my friends, is 14.59 miles.  I was stoked, but it almost didn't happen.
I got up this morning intending to check out a new (to me) greenway and explore it while I listened to a few chapters of the third book in The Iron Druid Chronicles (it's way better than it sounds!)  I wound up not really liking the greenway at all.  It had a bunch of litter, it wasn't green enough to count as a greenway, and on top of that it seemed too isolated for me to want to walk it alone even though there were signs announcing that the area was under police surveillance.  I wound up turning back and wandering around a safer part of town to make up for not walking the greenway. Note to self: check yelp reviews before heading to a park/greenway you have never been to.

I got in a good walk, but I was bored after dinner so I decided to go for another walk.  I headed toward one of my favorite parks only to find it swarming with people.  They were having a free concert and apparently the entire city decided to attend.  Don't get me wrong, I love that these kinds of free events are available, but I was there to burn some calories and did not like having to weave in and out of all the slow-strolling park goers ambling along the path.  On top of that there were a bunch of unsupervised hell spawn children on scooters getting in everyone's way.  I stayed until I couldn't take it anymore then headed home.  That was supposed to be the end of my walk, but when I looked at my Fitbit stats I realized that I was tantalizingly close to a daily step PR on Fitbit.  I dragged myself down to the gym and made myself walk on the treadmill until I reached 35,000 steps.  It felt good and I can't wait until I'm able to run that far in a day!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Learning From My Mistakes

I stayed up late last night watching Harry Potter so when my alarm went off this morning I gave it a dirty look and went back to sleep for a while.  The morning was supposed to be cool and I wanted to get in a long run, but it didn't happen.  My knee started hurting and I had to abandon ship at 3 miles.  The last time this happened I decided to push through the pain and I wound up with a worse injury than I would have had if I had stopped.  I learn from my mistakes, though.  I won't be running again until I can get new shoes next week.  Guess this means there will be some hiking/gym time in my near future.

When I got home it was almost time for lunch and I was starving so I made a pasta dish with Trader Joe's vegetable radiatore, baby spinach, shredded carrots, and shredded chicken topped with the spicy Asian peanut vinaigrette I got at Trader Joe's for yesterday's salad.    

It was really good!  The flavor reminded me of a few of the Thai dishes I've had in the past, but a lighter, healthier version.  I might be a little bit obsessed with this salad dressing.  I also learned that you can cook pasta in a skillet much more quickly than you can cook pasta in a pot of water.  Since you're using less water, it boils more quickly meaning the pasta gets done more quickly.  Why didn't this occur to me before today?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pain, Pain Everywhere

I wound up skipping my run yesterday because everything hurt.  I had cramps, there was a dull ache in my lower back, and there was a slight twinge in one of my knees. The first two are definitely shark week related.  The knee is most likely because it's time for new running shoes.  I'm going to ask the gurus at the local running store before I actually buy new ones, but anecdotally I think I'm right.  I first started the couch to 5k program last October, but had to stop a few weeks before Thanksgiving because I started having this horrible pain just below my left kneecap.  I didn't think it was important to get fitted for good shoes when I first started out and the resulting injury put me out of commission until after Thanksgiving.  The twinge in my knee felt sort of like my knee felt in the early stages of that injury from when I was running in the wrong shoes for my foot strike. Running in worn down good shoes is almost as bad as running in the wrong shoes for you, so I want to make sure I get new ones before half marathon training starts in earnest.

Today, I went for an easy hike.  It would have been perfect except that I had to pee the entire time. Normally I take a route that leads me past several port-o-potties, but I wandered down a different path today and never saw any.  It was still pretty out, though.

In the course of my wanderings I went down an unpaved path for a ways and found a trail that looped around and connected to one of my favorite routes.  It wound up being a shorter hike than I usually go for, but I was still happy with my Fitbit stats.

I was aiming for 20,000 steps, but I suppose 15,242 will have to do.  I walked 6.26 miles and climbed the equivalent of 50 floors.  Not bad!

I was craving a salad when I got back to the car which is weird because normally I don't eat salad. Raw vegetables tend to make my stomach hurt, so I typically avoid them like the plague.  I usually do okay with spinach, though, so I used baby spinach as the base for what turned out to be a yummy salad.

I topped it with diced onion, turkey breast, mandarin oranges, sliced almond, and some Trader Joe's Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette.  I enjoyed it.  I'll be spending the rest of my afternoon watching a show called Copper on Netflix.  If I get tired of that I may watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the second time this week.  There are so many amazing moments in the last movie that I may never get tired of it.   

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Yesterday did not go well in terms of eating or exercising or anything diet related.  I was like a toddler--everything I could get my grubby little hands on went straight in my mouth.  I thought I was just having a bad day until my stomach started hurting and then I thought about it and--Oh hey Aunt Flow!  Listen, I don't know who told you about this shindig, but it's a private party and you and your BFFs Cramps and Cravings are so not on the guest list.  That's right, kids.  Shark week cometh and it maketh me want to abandon my diet in favor of eating all the chocolate flavored things. I've been trying to limit my unauthorized nibbling to reasonably healthy things, but I'm not particularly optimistic about my weigh in on Saturday. I imagine there will be some water weight gain from shark week, and some regular weight gain from said unauthorized nibbling, but I'm hoping it won't be too bad. In any case, I decided to get myself back on track today with a morning run in blessedly cooler temperatures than Tennessee has been getting. 

It was much more pleasant than my last run in 80+ degrees of humid misery.  In fact, I actually enjoyed my run today.  I ran at a comfortable pace while I listened to an audiobook.  It was in the 60's which was warm enough to run in short sleeves, but not uncomfortable.  My breathing didn't feel as labored as it did in the heat and when I was done running I took some time to explore a bit on the other side of the river and take a few pictures.

I also discovered that the park has the nicest public bathroom I have ever seen in a park.  Recently cleaned? Plenty of Toilet Paper? Soap?  Not a port-a-potty?  #Score.  In a perfect world I will never have to use that bathroom again, but at least I'll know it's there for future reference.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This Heat Will Be The Death Of Me

This morning I woke up, had a Larabar, put on my running clothes and headed outside only to find the sky looking like it does in the Harry Potter movies when a dementor attack is imminent.  I even felt a few raindrops on my arm.  I went right back inside expecting the sky to open up and pour at any second.  After I had taken off my running clothes and settled on the couch to do some work, I realized that I could, in fact, have done my run because no rain seemed to be forthcoming.  The weather is not my friend.

As a result of my morning run fail, I had to run 3 miles in the hot evening sun.  It was not fun, and I admittedly paused my Garmin a few times to catch my breath in the shade at the greenway.  A lot of running bloggers talk about how you run slower when it's hot.  It has something to do with your body using your blood supply to cool you down instead of using your blood supply to power your muscles.  I totally get what they're talking about now.  I keep trying to run at the same pace I was running when it was cooler and it doesn't work.  I end up taking breaks I shouldn't be taking on short runs which results in whiny blog posts that I know no one wants to read.  I need to just accept that my already slow pace is going to be slower in the hot weather and adjust my running accordingly.  Maybe if I do that I will be able to run longer distances without stopping.  If that doesn't work I'm going to look into the Jeff Galloway run-walk-run method. Since he builds walk breaks into his plan I wouldn't have to feel bad about taking breaks anymore.  It's something to think about I guess.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Computer Trouble

Today was my rest day, but I still wanted to get in at least 10,000 steps so I went for a walk after breakfast.  The temperature was supposed to reach the high 80's today and the sun was already unpleasantly hot by the time I got out the door.  It made for a sweaty stroll in the park, but I got it done and was happy with my Fitbit stats for the day.

I usually eat lunch at around 11 and by the time I got home it was already 10:30.  I had been having problems with the track pad on my Macbook Pro so I made an afternoon appointment at the genius bar and ate lunch while I watched this Irish cop show called Jack Taylor on Netflix.  I studied abroad in Cork, so the accents made for a pleasant flashback.  Plus the show was actually decent which was nice because I don't have cable and I've kind of been scraping the bottom of the Netflix barrel lately.  The other day I actually added a movie called Ghost Cat to my queue. Things are getting kind of dire up in here.  

My genius bar appointment was horrifying and helpful all at the same time.  For the last day or more when I tried to use the track pad on my laptop the pointer would jump around like one of those jumping beans and click/highlight/move toward things unbidden as though possessed.  Of course, when I got the stupid thing into the Apple store and tried to show the genius bar guy what it had been doing it behaved like a champ and passed all the diagnostic tests, but the guy said he believed me and mentioned something about sending my baby somewhere to have a whole bunch of hardware replaced.  See what I mean? Horrifying.  Then he said there may be something under the track pad keeping it from working properly so he took it to the back of the store and I had to wait for about half an hour while he did magic cleaned under the track pad. See? Helpful.  I amused myself by giving the Apple geniuses nicknames based on their style choices.  Example: the guy who was helping me was Mull-hawk Genius because he had a Mohawk with mullet ambition.  

When Mull-hawk Genius came back he said there was debris under my track pad, but he had cleaned it really well and I should come back tomorrow if it starts acting up again.  I still have about a month left on the warranty so hopefully if it is going to start acting crazy again it will do it before then.  I know three is really old for a laptop, but I just want it to keep working until I graduate and finish taking the bar...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sometimes the Universe is Against Me

I did a long (for me) run today, but it was like the universe really, really didn't want me to.  There was a  30% chance of rain after 10 AM so I wanted to make sure I got up and got my run in early so that I could avoid the heat and the rain.  I had breakfast and drank enough water to feel hydrated then waited a while to give myself time to digest.  I had to pee so I went to the bathroom and put on my running clothes.  Then I had to pee again.  After that I filled up my water bottle and got my shoes on, but realized my earbuds weren't where I usually leave them.  I thought maybe I had left them in the car, but no dice.  After looking in the couch cushions and everywhere else I could think of I realized that they were in the dirty laundry in the pocket of a sweatshirt I wore a few days ago on an early morning walk in the rain.  I finally got out the door, but my legs felt dead.  The route I took today had lots of rolling hills and they wore me out so about 3 miles in I started pausing my Garmin while I walked the uphills and then turning it back on while I ran the downhills and flats. Does this make my time deceptive? Yes.  Did it help me actually finish my run instead of giving up at 3.5 miles? Absolutely.  After that, this happened:

Lemony rice and fish stew
It's a lemony rice and fish stew.  I found a base recipe on a blog I read and made a few changes based on what I had.  I used a brown and wild rice blend instead of jasmine, omitted the suggested vegetables in favor of shredded carrots, spinach, and red onions, and added the mint at the same time I added the broth and lemon juice.  I used 3 splenda packets to sweeten the broth (and I used about half the recommended amount of broth.) It still needed something so I sprinkled some Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute into the broth and added red pepper flakes.  By the time the fish was cooked through most of the liquid had cooked off, but I opted not to add more because there was just enough liquid to make for a delicious sauce that was lemony with a bit of kick from the red pepper flakes.  I would totally make this again, which is good because I have another tilapia fillet to use up!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Rest Day

I'm pretty sure I'm signing up for the September half marathon I mentioned yesterday.  And I think I've settled on the Hal Higdon Novice 2 plan to train for it.  Since I originally started with the Novice 1 plan, I am going to do my long run tomorrow this week instead of Saturday like the plan says. I made today one of my rest days for the week because the day before a long run on the Novice 2 plan, you get a rest day.

It has been gross and rainy out since yesterday, but I still wanted to get in 10,000 steps per day. Yesterday I wound up at a local greenway walking in the rain.  I thought for sure I would be the lone crazy out there with it raining steadily, but to my surprise there were other diehard walkers, runners, and golfers out.  I had an umbrella and it honestly wasn't that bad.  I thought for sure I would wind up with drenched socks, but my feet (and the rest of me) stayed relatively dry.  

When I woke up this morning, I got on the scale and found disappointment: no change since last week. Not the end of the world.  I haven't gotten in as much activity this week as normal because I was trying out week 1 of the half marathon training plan. On top of that I ate some naughty things later in the week and I should have known better.  Exhibit A was the lightened up (but still calorie laden) potato soup I made a few days ago.

I'm a weirdo.  For some reason I wanted soup in 80 degree weather.  I went for a short (4 mile) walk after breakfast and to the grocery store after that.  I am going to try to eat better this week and I started today with a lightened up beef and broccoli stir fry with a brown and wild rice blend.

While I was at the grocery store I also picked out a few new things to try.  I decided to give up Lean Cuisine, but Trader Joe's makes its own frozen meals that are made with better quality ingredients. I decided to give a few of them a shot.  

Since taking these pictures I have had a chance to try the Beef Pho Soup and the Reduced Guilt Filet of Sole.  The Pho was just okay.  I know most people add stuff to their pho, but the base broth was really disappointing.  It was pretty good once I added soy sauce and sriracha, but what if I hadn't had appropriate flavor agents on hand?  I might buy it again because I did enjoy the soup once I doctored it up, but someone who didn't know that pho is usually served with various sauces and add-ins might be really upset with this soup.  As for the Reduced Guild Filet of Sole, I actually enjoyed this one.  I read somewhere that the fish is frozen raw and it actually cooks in the microwave so the texture is better than most frozen fish meals.  I'm not actually sure if that is true (mainly because I'm too lazy to get up and check the box) but it would explain why it has to be microwaved for so long (pretty sure it was around 9 minutes).  The method to their madness is becoming clear.
I've also tried the Garden Vegetable Lasagne and really enjoyed it.  It reminded me of the Lean Cuisine Lasagna Florentine, but with fewer calories and higher quality ingredients.  I was happy to know that TJ's sells a satisfying substitute for one of my former favorite frozen meals!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Non-scale Victories: Wearing My "Skinny" Clothes

I know that I've lost weight, but I didn't know until I visited family this weekend and had a chance to try on some clothes that I packed up after I gained weight last year.  I was able to wear most of them when I started law school, but by the end of my first year they were several sizes too small. Even though I held onto them in hopes that I would be able to wear them again one day, a little piece of me worried that I would never lose the weight.

My mom is thinking about having a yard sale soon and she wanted me to go through some of the clothes that I have left at home.  When I found my "skinny" clothes in the pile of old clothes I tried them on on a whim--and they fit!  The picture on the left is me in September 2012 after I gained the weight and even my formerly loose-fitting clothing had gotten a bit snug.  The picture on the right is from earlier this week wearing a skirt that I had given up on fitting into.  It was a great feeling and provided all the motivation I need to keep me moving forward on my healthy journey.  Maybe if I keep it up my "skinny" clothes will be too big for me a year from now!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tough Run

I had a doctor's appointment this morning and didn't get a chance to run before I left.  I had less than an hour of the audiobook I've been listening to and wanted to finish it today, so I headed out for a slow run after dinner so I could find out how the book ended.  

Normally I wouldn't run three days in a row, but since I started tossing around the idea of training for a half marathon in September, I thought it might be a good idea to see how I would do with week 1 of a half marathon training plan.  I loosely followed Hal Higdon's Novice 1 plan this week, but depending on how I feel after I do another 4 mile run on Sunday, I might switch to the Novice 2 plan.  The two plans are similar, but the Novice 1 plan incorporates cross training and strength on some days whereas the Novice 2 plan has slightly higher mileage each week, but only one day of cross training and no strength workouts.  I know that in the long run I should probably start a consistent strength training program, but for right now I think I need to go easy on my body and not add too many types of workouts at once.  This is not The Biggest Loser.  I don't need to lose 10 pounds per week or have wicked muscles by a certain date.  If I want to make it through either training plan I need to be realistic about what I am capable of and I think the simplicity of the Novice 2 plan might be just what I need to reach both my weight loss and my half marathon goals.   

My legs were tired today, but I made it through 3.14 miles and finished my book.  It was not a great run or a great end to the series, but I'm so tired at this point that I think I'll go to sleep and ponder both outcomes tomorrow.   

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Morning Miles

I stayed up late (for me) last night making a few updates here at Downsizing.  I added social media buttons in the margin to the right, opened a twitter account for this blog, and changed all my internet aliases to downsizingashley (or downsizingblog where downsizingashley was not available). I think all the buttons work, but if anyone has trouble with them, could you let me know?  I also added a new photo to the Progress Photos up at the top and made my recipes tab, also at the top of the screen, more user friendly.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

In addition, I lost my mind and started thinking about training for a fall half marathon.  My longest run to date is 4 miles and I have never even run in a 5k race, but I'm thinking about training for and running a half mary.  I have all the big dreams.

In the interest of starting myself down the path to half marathon glory, I decided to chase yesterday's evening run with a morning run.  I planned for 3 miles.  I did it, but there were stop light (and possibly one or two just because) breaks.  I am also fairly certain I looked like a lunatic because once I got to about 2.77 miles I decided I was not going up any more hills, even little ones, so every time I came to a point where the incline rose I turned around and started running the other direction.  I did this at least three times and I just hope no one I know saw me.  

EDIT:  There is a new link up over at A Daily Dose of Del Signore called Motivational Monday.  I'm linking up a few days late.  


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Evening Miles

I went home for Mother's Day and didn't get back until last night.  I love seeing my family, but visiting home makes it hard for me to stay on track with my weight loss and exercise goals.  My uncle was grilling dinner for everyone and on Saturday before I came home my grandmother said he could grill some veggie burgers for me.  I told her what kind I liked (Boca All American Grillers) so she could pick them up at the store and I went about my day assuming that I would have something diet-friendly on Sunday for dinner.  Fast forward to Sunday.  My uncle shows up with the food he grilled and while there were veggie burgers, they definitely weren't the All American Grillers.  They were the kind with chunks of vegetables which are much harder on my stomach than the kind I wanted. I have Crohn's Disease and there are a lot of vegetables I'm not supposed to eat because they can make me really sick.    

I was really disappointed and the food-related issues didn't stop there.  I told my grandma about the Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt and she wanted me to make it for dessert on Mother's Day.  She was supposed to buy the ingredients, but when I got home she had purchased regular yogurt instead of Greek yogurt.  Greek yogurt has a completely different consistency than regular yogurt. It is really thick whereas regular yogurt is runny.  The taste of plain nonfat yogurt is similar to plain nonfat Greek yogurt, but once again, there is a noticeable difference.  Plus, the nutritional information for Greek yogurt is different than regular yogurt. Important for me is that too much lactose makes my stomach hurt and there is less of it in Greek yogurt than regular yogurt.  

She kept insisting that I should make the recipe anyway, but it turned out horrible.  With Greek yogurt the recipe looks remarkably like cookie dough because it's thick the same way regular cookie dough would be.  It just didn't work with regular yogurt.  It tasted okay, I guess, but texture is important to me and this was runny and looked awful.  On top of that my grandma kept telling people it was my dessert and offering it to people so that everyone had a chance to blame the epic dessert fail on me.  Awesome.  

By the time I got up this morning, did my grocery shopping and finished a few things I needed to get done, the temperature was already in the 80's.  Normally I like to run in the morning before it gets hot, but today I ran two miles after dinner.  It was hot, but I felt better after my run and I was really glad I made myself go.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My First Four Miler

When I woke up this morning, there was sweater weather in May in the South, if you can believe it. In honor of said crazy weather, I decided it was the perfect day to try for my longest run ever--four miles.  I knew that if I went out fast I would never make it the whole way so I settled into a really comfortable 13:09/mile pace and listened to a few chapters of Dead Ever After while I ran.  I took the four mile route I mapped out several weeks ago and have been trying to complete ever since. Today, I did it and it was awesome!  

On another note, I wanted to take a moment to wish my Mom and Grandma a very happy Mother's Day.  I won't post a picture because I don't think either of them would appreciate that very much, but they are both amazing women and they have both influenced me in all the best ways.  I love you both!  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Not Quite As Planned

Today's weigh in didn't go quite as planned, but it definitely could have been worse.  I weighed 147.6, which means that there was no change since last week.  Hmmm.

Looking back over my diet this week, I can pick out several places where I went wrong.  First of all I bought a loaf of white bread that I definitely should have left at the store or replaced with a whole grain or whole wheat option.  Actually, I ate a lot of bread in general and I really should have left it alone.  There won't be any bread on next week's shopping list.

Additionally, I got in a lot more activity this week than I did during the semester and the extra effort left me hungry.  I ate more snacks than I normally would and even though I was within my calorie budget, I don't think the extra calories did me any favors.  I've noticed that if I consistently eat more than 1600 calories per day (even if I have burned far more calories than that) my body won't let go of the weight come weigh in day.  I'm not really sure why that is, but I need to be more mindful of that going forward.  

After my somewhat disappointing weigh in I went about my Saturday.  I wanted to hike in one of my favorite parks, but there was a big event going on so I had to walk at a nearby greenway instead.  It's not really a huge deal, but I was kind of annoyed because 1) I had already driven to the first park and 2) it threw my plans off which the control freak in me hates.  Anyway, here are my Fitbit stats:

I walked 7.46 miles total which isn't bad, but I imagine I would have walked at least ten miles had I been able to go to my first choice park.  I am in the middle of the audiobook version of Dead Ever After, which is the last book in the Sookie Stackhouse series.  These are the books the television show True Blood is based on and I want to know how it ends.  I've only been listening while I am exercising and since I want to know what happens next, I workout longer than I might have otherwise.  It's kind of bittersweet, though, reading the last book in a series. When I finished the last Harry Potter book a few years ago it was like I was going through withdrawal or something.  If I read a series for long enough I start to feel like I know the characters personally so when the series ends it's like losing a friend.  Have you ever felt that way about book/movie characters?  Which ones?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt Recipe

I was trying to read every blog on the whole internet yesterday, and in the midst of my impossible task someone mentioned that they were making Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt.  I immediately got all Gollum like with it and wanted to find the preciousssss.  (Don't worry if you don't get the reference. It just means you are less nerdy than me.  Don't worry if you do get that reference.  It's time to let your nerdy freak flag fly.)  In any case, I googled Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt and figured out what the aforementioned blogger was talking about. The internet is magnificent!  Here's my version:

1 Single Serve Container of Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp Chocolate (or original) PB2
1/2 tsp Vanilla Flavoring
1/2 Tbsp Honey
2 Splenda Packets
1 Tbsp Mini Chocolate Chips

Mix all ingredients together and devour.  Do not share, do not pass go, definitely lick all utensils and bowls clean and feel like you have collected $100.  I  have made this twice in less than 24 hours and am basically obsessed with it.  Hopefully you will enjoy it too!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Non-Scale Victories: And Miles To Go Before I Sleep

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."
~Robert Frost

EDIT: I'm linking up with KTJ Weighing In for Non-Scale Victories.  This week's non-scale victory?  Learning to love the outdoors enough that I do things like hike 10+ miles in a day.

I'm super behind in posting my workouts for the week.  My bad you guys.  Let's catch up, shall we? The picture above is from a hiking excursion I took on Tuesday.  Here are my Fitbit stats for that day.

Clearly I hiked up all the hills.  Unfortunately I ate all the food when I got home so I'm not sure any of it really helped me reach my weight loss goals for the week.  Such is life.

Yesterday I set out for what I hoped would be a run to the river, but wound up being a run until the hotter than the hinges of hades sun made me lose my will to live, or at the very least my will to run.  Failure and defeat.  Insert sad face here.  K, moving on.

I knew it was going to be hotter today than it was yesterday so I planned accordingly.  I got myself up early, drank a lot of water so that I would be appropriately hydrated, ate a Larabar, gave myself an hour to digest, and headed out early.  

It went much better today, probably because it was 56 degrees and not yet sunny unlike yesterday.    My goal was to run to the river and over the bridge this time.  Success.  Not sure if you can read my watch with it that small, but 2.77 miles at a 12:25 pace, 323 calories burned.  And just because I like posting pretty scenes from my runs/walks, you also get a picture of the river from the bridge.

Not a bad way to start the morning!  The rest of my day will involve more cooking attempts and possibly a long walk because I feel like being outside.  It's a new feeling, wanting to be outside.  But I like it.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Lazy Girl Garlic Hummus Burger with Greek Yogurt, Feta, and Dill Spread Recipe

This recipe was inspired by the Roasted Garlic Hummus Burger with Parsley and Dill Feta Spread I saw on a blog I read called Running With Guts.  Homegirl has mad kitchen skills, and her recipe sounded amazing, but I just didn't want to work that hard so I tried to make an easier version with fewer ingredients and it turned out amazingly delicious.  Trust me, y'all. If you like hummus, you're gonna wanna make this immediately!

For the Burger:
1/2 Tub of Garlic Hummus (Mine was a 227 g tub from Trader Joe's)
4.5 Tablespoons of Bread Crumbs or enough to form a dough that isn't sticky (mine were the organic kind from Trader Joe's)
Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste
Cooking Spray

For the Spread:
1 single-serve container Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
4 Tablespoons of Reduced Fat Feta (I used Trader Joe's Fat Free)
1/2 Tablespoon of Dill (more if desired or if you can't see flecks of green in the spread)

Mix the hummus, bread crumbs, and pepper until a dough forms.  Form patties with the dough.  I was able to make 2 burger size patties.  Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.  Place the patties in the skillet and cook until it starts to brown. Flip and cook the other side.  They will brown fairly quickly, so now is not the time to wander down the hall to put the clothes in the dryer or get distracted when Maury announces you are not the father.  

While you are waiting for each side to brown, mix the yogurt, feta, and dill in a small bowl and set aside.  If you plan to serve your burgers on a bun, now would be a good time to toast that sucker.  And top them liberally with the spread.  Once the burgers are browned on both sides, they are ready to serve.

I made these for lunch one day and liked it so much I ate the leftover patty for dinner. Hopefully you will enjoy them as much as I did!  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bad Movie Monday

I wanted to take another rest day really bad, but I made myself go down to the gym, put the treadmill on an incline of 13 and walk for a little over an hour.  I  turned the gps off on my Garmin and wore the heart rate monitor to track my calorie burn.  My goal was to hit 400 calories.  Crushed it!

I had a ton of tortillas that I needed to use up so lunch was sweet chili chicken wraps. Apparently McDonalds makes something similar, but seeing as theirs involves mayonnaise and fried chicken and all the inches both will add to the badonkadonk, I'm gonna go ahead and say my concoction was better.

I stir fried shredded carrots, onions, baby spinach, and baked chicken and added some Trader Joe's sweet chili sauce at the end.  I served them on some Low Carb wheat tortillas (45 calories per tortilla) and called it lunch.  It wasn't half bad.  I watched last night's Game of Thrones episode while I ate.  Winter is coming, and I am excited.  If you don't get the reference, google it.

The rest of my day consisted of Bad Movie Monday, brought to my apartment by Netflix.  I watched the Cabin in the Woods which is basically what would happen if The Hunger Games had an ill-advised tryst with the House on Haunted Hill and bad movie baby makes three.  As far as bad movies go it made for a pretty good Monday afternoon.   

Not Quite a PR, But I'll Take It

I had big plans to go for a run yesterday, but then I made the mistake of eating a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and I felt too full to run.  I'm sure oatmeal works as pre-run fuel for some people, but sadly I do not seem to be one of them.  Other things that do not work as pre-run fuel for me include Lean Cuisine pizzas (which I am weaning myself off of anyway) and egg whites.  I got stomach cramps the last time I tried to run after eating either of them. On the other hand, I have done fairly well when I ate a Larabar before I ran so I guess that's another reason to continue my Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar habit.      

My weather app said it was going to rain, but when I looked outside it was just cloudy.  So I decided to go for a walk while I had a window.  It was basically epic.  


Sadly this was not quite a PR in terms of my Fitbit stats, but it was very very close.  Plus I got to enjoy what is probably my last walk in non-sweltering weather for a while.

I genuinely prefer cold temperatures to the summer heat and I'm really not looking forward to running/walking in the heat.  

I have been trying to visit as many local parks as possible in an effort to find the best running routes available.  So yesterday I made my way up to Love Circle Park.  

I was a little disappointed.  It's basically a big grassy hill on top of a big paved hill.  The climb to the top was steep and while the neighborhood was pretty, sidewalks were largely lacking and the people who live in the neighborhood come flying around blind curves like so many bats out of hell.  I probably won't be going back to this one.

I kept walking and even though I was tired and sore, I made myself keep walking until I had made up for the impromptu rest day I took on Saturday and I had earned enough calories to try the multigrain baking and pancake mix I bought at Trader Joe's last week.

The mix required a whole egg, but I read somewhere that you can make a gel using flax seeds that works well as an egg substitute.  I bought some with the express purpose of using them with the pancake mix.  The pancakes were fluffy enough and the flax seeds added a nutty flavor and texture that I kind of enjoyed.  I ate them standing over the stove.  I guess I'm just that classy. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Weekly Weigh-in

Today's weigh in went really well.  I was down 1 pound from last week.  One thing I have realized from two straight weeks of clean-er eating is that I can get away with eating higher calorie clean meals and still lose weight.  Check out my calorie intake versus burn from the past week:

I know you can't see each day's numbers, but on average I ate 1,665 calories per day and burned an average of 2,048 calories per day.  If I had eaten 1,665 calories worth of frozen meals I probably would have gained weight this week.  Instead, I ate a clean-er diet.  

I ate a lot of egg white omelettes for breakfast with spinach, grilled chicken, and fat free feta, but I also made sweet breakfast wraps with PB2 and sliced banana.   A typical lunch included organic vegetable pasta with baked chicken breast, organic spaghetti sauce, and spinach topped with fat free feta, grapes on the side.  I also made stir fry with brown rice, lean protein, and veggies.  I'm still obsessed with Larabars and have developed a fondness for a low calorie salsa and blue corn tortilla chips I found at Trader Joe's.  The salsa is 5 calories for 2 tablespoons.  My 1/2 cup servings were around 20 calories and 14 of the tortilla chips are 140 calories.  I didn't think 160 calories was bad for a satisfying snack!

I didn't finish my last exam until Thursday morning, but I studied on the treadmill a lot last week and managed to do fairly well with my exercise between that and a couple of quick runs. Here are my step totals for last week:

I was really happy with this weigh-in and I'm pretty sure clean-er eating is going to be a permanent change.  I'm sure the transition won't be perfect, but I'm learning to substitute healthier options for my old favorites.  A good example is the pita pizza I made earlier.  

When I started losing weight last semester I was addicted to Lean Cuisine Deep Dish Three Meat Pizzas.  I have been trying to wean myself off of Lean Cuisine lately and these pita pizzas will make all the difference.  All I did was top a whole wheat pita from Trader Joe's with 1/4 cup of pizza sauce, reduced fat mozzarella, and turkey pepperoni and broil it on high until the cheese melted.  It was wonderful and I felt a lot better and more full after eating it than I ever did with Lean Cuisine.  Clean-er Eating--1.  Processed junk--0.

Friday, May 3, 2013

After the Exam

After I finished my last exam yesterday, all I wanted to do was get outside and get moving. By the time I finished lunch it was pretty hot outside, so I decided a walk in a shaded park was in order.  

I started listening to Hexed: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book 2 and wandered down a different path than the one I usually take.  After a few happy hours of strolling I was calm and content and more than a little pleased with my Fitbit stats for the day.

I stopped at Trader Joe's on the way home and somehow wound up with some impulse purchases in my cart.

I have no idea how those got in there, but the cheese puffs went nicely with the Boca Veggie Burger I ate for dinner last night along with a smoothie.  

I did really good too.  I counted out one serving of the Cheese Puffs and when they were gone I didn't go back for more.  There was a time when I would have eaten the whole bag in one sitting!  I was exhausted, but I promised myself that if it was not raining when I woke up I would go for a run down to the river again, and this time I would try to make it with no side cramps.  When I woke up this morning it was windy and overcast, but not raining so I ate a Larabar, drank some water, and headed out.  

It was a good one.  For my first few runs post-illness I tried running faster than I had been before I got sick and about 1.5 miles in I kept getting these epic side cramps and always wound up cutting my runs short.  I did some googling and I found out that side cramps are sometimes caused by not breathing deeply enough when you run.  I started focusing on taking deep even breaths from my belly rather than my chest after I read that and I haven't had any side cramps since. Today, I was able to run the whole way to the river without walking.  It was a good run overall, but the wind was out of control and was blowing right at me while I was running uphill.  I was wearing a baseball hat and at one point it blew clear off my head!

I finally figured out how to get up to the pedestrian bridge so maybe I can run to the river and across it next time.  The more I run that route the more I come to like it.  The police station is down that way and it's always pretty busy so I feel relatively safe.  That's always a good thing to look for in a running route!