Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My kids won't eat that...or will they?

I'm no stranger to picky eaters. My oldest used to make me pull my hair out at each meal because he would sit there with the same bite of food in his mouth for 10 minutes at a time,  never swallowing. He was afraid of anything green. If the meat wasn't a nugget, he wasn't interested. My youngest was slightly less picky, but had an obsession with hot dogs and anything chocolate.

My how things have changed :)

We've always served them a wide variety of food and not really "allowed" them to be picky. Still, mealtime was often a battle. One that I was determined to win. We don't make them a different meal if they don't like what I'm making. When they were smaller, it was harder to actually describe the importance of eating good. It was on their plate, it was offered to them...and sometimes they ate it, sometimes they didn't. I worried sooo often that they weren't getting adequate nutrition because they either ate just a few bites here & there or would only eat things that were less-than-healthy.

Now that they are older (5 and 3 1/2) they are not only a lot less picky, but they are awesome eaters and always up for trying new things. If you only every offer your kids chicken nuggets or mac n cheese...of course they are going to throw a fit when you put salmon & brown rice on their plate. Make it fun! Let them know what each food does for their body. Almost every night at dinner, we talk about what we're eating. They know that fish makes their brain think better and helps them learn more when their at school. They know that carrots make their eyes sparkle. They know that eating fiber is good for your tummy and makes you feel full longer than eating junk food. Educate yourself, so you can educate your kids! They soak up SO much and I know mine both love learning about different foods.

It might take a couple of weeks to get them into the habit of eating healthier. Can you blame them? If they are used to junk food- well, junk food tastes good! Make sure they get the chance to discover that eating healthy can be just as yummy. If they know that they either eat whats on their plate, or they will be hungry...they'll get the point that you're making that YOU are in charge and they need to eat whats served so they aren't hungry afterwards.

A short little story- when I was subbing in Austin's kindergarten class week, I had packed a tupperware of blackberries and kiwi to eat out at recess as my snack. I was standing at the table with all the kids who were eating their snacks (hot cheetos, powdered donuts, chocolate chip cookies, fruit roll ups and poptarts, just to name a few!). They saw me eating my fruit and I am not kidding you- at least 6 little 5 year olds asked me for a bite (and no, I didn't share haha). They were 100% willing (and excited!) to eat fruit for a snack instead of the non-nutritious junk their parents had packed. Some of them had never even seen or heard of a kiwi before! Expand their little horizons people- start early and they will learn to love being a good eater!

Tomorrow I'll put up a list of healthy snacks & meal ideas that kids (well, mine at least) love. I found a couple cool links on pinterest that I'll put up as well.

Monday, January 30, 2012

No Excuses!

If you've watched The Biggest Loser this season, you've probably heard the phrase "No Excuses" just a few times :) 

If you want to lose weight, or maybe just get in better shape, you can probably sit down and make a list of "excuses" why its not possible or would be too hard for you to do so

-I just have to far to go/too much to lose and I don't even know where to start
-I can never stick to eating healthy
-Eating healthy is too expensive or doesn't taste good
-I don't have to time to exercise
-I don't like to sweat
-I work all day and don't have time to exercise
-I'm tired
-I don't have the money for a gym membership or fancy at-home equipment
-I'm too old, I can't start working out now
-I'm too busy to pack my lunch/dinner, fast food and eating out is just easier
-I don't feel good
-Its too cold/too hot
-I'm going to start on Monday

Do any of these sound familiar? 

If so, listen to this story. You're excuses won't hold much weight after this.

Every morning when I run, I pass an older couple (in their 60's) jogging together, holding hands. I've always thought it was sweet and the wife and I smile as we pass each other quite often. The husband usually has a more stern, concentrated look on his face. Today I happened to be running in the same direction as them, instead of running opposite and passing. The wife said hello and we ran together and chatted for awhile. 

To my amazement- I learned that the husband is blind. BLIND. 100% of his sight is GONE. He was recently diagnosed with diabetes and high cholesterol and his doctor told him that he needed to get healthy and lose weight as soon as possible. He is not a small man, and I think I already mentioned he's in his 60's. He and his wife are both retired and decided to start running together to get healthy. Running! I don't know about you...but it takes all my concentration when I'm running to watch where I'm going just so I don't trip and fall. Not to mention half of the enjoyment I get from running is looking around seeing things around me. This man is blind and he's a runner. He can't see where he's going, is overweight, deals with complications from both his diabetes and cholesterol- yet is he out there on the trail, day after day...running! His sweet wife runs by his side, holding his hand telling him when to stop or move to the left or right. They both said they were strongly considering running some local races this year. My jaw was probably on the ground as we ran together and they were telling me their story. 

How often to I try and tell myself its too cold to run, or that I'm too tired and have a million other things I could be doing, or that skipping just ONE run really won't make a difference. Oh boy...those excuses seem totally lame at this point. Knowing that a fellow runner is out there running with no sight and multiple other health issues...yet he is out there day after day, no excuses

I told him how much I admired him and what an inspiration he was. I've been thinking about them all day and really hope I get the chance to run with them again. What an awesome example of someone taking charge of their health, despite all of the circumstances that are working against them.

-You don't NEED a gym membership to workout- get out there and run the streets of your neighborhood or local park. Pop a fitness DVD into your DVD player
-Its called a workout because you have to WORK, its okay to sweat
-No matter how much weight you have to lose, you'll never lose a thing if you don't start somewhere. 
-Eventually those 1 lb losses will add up to a much bigger number
-Plan ahead! Pack your lunch so you don't get stuck in the drive thru making a last minute decision, out of hunger
-I guarantee there are people out there fatter than you and older than you who workout everyday...age and size is NOT an excuse
-Make exercise a priority. Schedule it into your daily routine, just like you would a meal or an appointment. Whether it means you get up an hour earlier or workout right before bed...make time!
-Exercise and eating healthy is a lifestyle. Don't make unreasonable restrictions because its highly unlikely you won't stick to it and then your whole healthy lifestyle will unravel. Instead of saying I'm never going to eat pizza again. Limit yourself to pizza once a week, and only 1-2 slices. Pack on the veggies and skip the sausage and pepperoni
-Eating healthy doesn't have to be boring. Get creative! Search online (pinterest!) for healthy recipes and you will discover a whole new culinary world! 
-Don't be afraid of fruits and vegetables! Load up your fridge and produce basket with a variety of produce and make it your go-to snack
-The endorphins you get after working out will make you feel better and less tired, I promise you
-What kind of example are you setting for your children? Are you showing them that being active and eating healthy will make their bodies healthy and feel good? Or do they see you sitting on the couch with the remote and bowl of ice cream night after night? They learn by example! 
-Eating healthy is no more expensive than buying fast food, eating at restaurants, buying cookies, chips & ice cream. Buy in season produce and check ads for sales on meats and dairy products. Buying an apple or orange is a lot cheaper than buying a pack of cookies. 
-Why wait until Monday? Start NOW!


Menu Monday

Monday- Avacado Chicken Parmesan, green beans & salad
Tuesday- Roasted Pork Loin, Quinoa, Carrots
Wednesday- we have church- not cooking!
Thursday- Vegetarian Quinoa Chili & homemade cornbread
Friday- Turkey Chili Dogs, Sweet Potato Fries & Fruit
Saturday- Salmon Burgers, Spinach & Strawberry Salad

And just to re-cap last week, I tried a few new recipes I had found on Pinterest...they were all a big hit! Definitely keepers :) The cheesy vegetable chowder was definitely the best and I could make it once a week- it was THAT good! We ended up going to my in-laws for dinner on Saturday night and so I'll re-use that dinner idea for this week! 

Thanks to Pinterest I have so many dinner ideas I want to try, and not enough days in the week! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chicken Caesar Wrap

Here is one of my favorite, EASY lunches I have during the week. 

1 Whole Wheat Tortilla
3-4 oz cooked chicken strips, cut up into smaller chunks
1 small tomato, diced
Handful of spinach, chopped
Handful of Alfalfa sprouts
2 Tbsp crumbled Feta Cheese
1 Tbsp Ken's Lite Casear dressing

(bad quality, cell phone picture!)

It is SOO good and so filing! It ends up being so stuffed full that I have to fold it and eat it like a taco instead of a wrap. Its packed with veggies and lean protein and with an orange on the side, makes the perfect lunch!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oatmeal Muffins

What you'll need:
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 cups oats
2 tsp vanilla
Handful of chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375
Mix all ingredients 
Pour into a greased muffin pan (I used non-stick spray)
Bake 25 minute, until edges start to brown
*The muffins will stick to your pan when they are hot, so let them cool before removing

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2011 Running Stats

When I run, I use my Nike+ app on my phone to track my mileage, pace, etc. 

About a week ago, I got an email from Nike with my 2011 Running Report

I also use it when I walk to get Austin from school or just take walk with the kids (I like to keep track of how many miles I walk and/or run each week) so my average pace is slower than if it were just tracking my running. I was pretty excited that my fastest mile was 8:17!
Since I ran 583 miles in 2011, I have set my goal at 800 for 2012. I am training for 2 half-marathons this year instead of one, so with the extra training miles, I'm sure it will add up! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Training Programs

If you are just starting out as a runner (or a walker) I thought I would give you a couple of ideas of different training programs that I have used (or am using now!)

I use the Nike+ app to track all my runs. It breaks down my pace, overall time I've been running, mileage & calories burned. You enter your personal data (age, weight, height) and it is pretty accurate. It also keeps a running tally of miles completed and I love to watch the number grow :) Right now I'm at 789 miles (thats over the course of about a year and a half) and can't wait to break 1000! You can also go back in and see your "record breaking" runs- fastest mile, fastest 5k, fastest 10k, fastest half marathon, longest run, farthest run) Its definitely worth the 1.99 and I use it every single day. 

If you are a VERY beginning runner (meaning you DON'T run at all, or can run 1-2 minutes at the most) then I suggest Couch 2 5k. There are several different .99-1.99 apps available for the iphone (and I believe Droid and Blackberry also) Its a 9 week program that takes you from NO running experience to being able to successfully run 30 minutes at a time. Its really well designed and the intervals are challenging, but not impossible. If I never would have done Couch 2 5k, I probably wouldn't be as committed to running or love it as much as I do now. It's great! (I'm actually re-doing the program right now, but working on my speed instead of endurance. I'll start my half training as soon as I'm done with this)

Once you are done and comfortable running a 5k (3.1 miles) you can move on to Bridge to 10k. It is designed for runners who are increasing their distance from a 5k to a 10k (6.2 miles). This would also be a good one to start with if you are already comfortable running a couple of miles at a time. I definitely wouldn't start out with this one if you aren't a runner already though.

And my all time favorite for half marathon training is Hal Higdon's program. There are several different levels (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, etc). I used to to train for my half in November, followed it to a T (besides adding 2 "long runs" to the end of the program) and I felt completely compared to run 13.1 miles come race day. It was hard & I was scared, but I knew I was capable of doing it. I'm definitely looking forward to starting my training again for the race in May. Hal also has a full marathon training program that I'll do when I'm ready (next year?)

If you do not have a smart phone, all you need is a simple stop watch to time your intervals (mostly for Couch 2 5k and Bridge to 10k)

Also, if you don't use a GPS device (Garmin, phone app, etc) then you can go to www.mapmyrun.com
and track your route, so that you can determine how far you ran. 

If you don't like running outside, you can always hop on a treadmill! In that case, you don't have to worry about a device to track your pace, time or distance because the treadmill will do it all for you. Personally, I avoid the treadmill :) It's not my favorite, I definitely enjoy running outside, getting fresh air and not being stuck in the same spot for 1 hour.  But- everyone is different!

So- get your running shoes & some comfortable clothes on and get ready to hit the pavement (or the treadmill). You CAN do it! No matter what fitness level you are starting out at, you ARE capable. Just keep reminding yourself that you are worth it and you deserve to feel and look the best you can!

Happy Running!

Menu Monday

Since I've starting losing weight, I've had a lot of people ask me exactly what I eat on a day-to-day basis. I decided that I might try and start posting our weekly menu each Monday (just dinner) and then randomly post other recipes. 

Since signing up with Pinterest a few weeks ago, I've pinned a ton of different recipes and decided that this week I was going to pick a couple and make them for dinner. Why find a bunch of new recipes and just let them sit there?! 

So, here is our menu for the upcoming week. Its not our normal go-to meals, but I'm hoping to add a few things to our rotation! We're also not eating at home 3 out of 7 nights this week, which isn't usually the case either. Anyway- here it is:

Tuesday: Crockpot BBQ Chicken & a salad
Wednesday: (we have AWANA and will eat at church)
Thursday: (Volleyball dinner, not eating at home)
Friday: Chicken Parmesan in the Crockpot with whole wheat noodles & steamed broccoli
Saturday: Roasted Pork Loin, Quinoa & Steamed veggies
Sunday: (we eat Sunday dinner at my parents house)

I have linked the recipes to the sites I found them on, they have all come from pins I found on pinterest. Since I haven't actually made any of them- I can't tell you how good they are yet :) 

I've also made a few other recipes that I've pinned, so I will get those recipes up soon too! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vision Board

A few weeks ago Rebecca (my cousin & running buddy) and I sat down with a big pile of magazines and a pair of scissors. We were on a quest to find pictures, phrases, words and anything else we thought represented what WE wanted to become in 2012. We both have similar goals when it comes to health & weight loss so it was something we had a lot of fun doing. The next weekend we got together again and arranged all of our clippings on a foam board. I had planned on hanging it on the wall somewhere- but decided I liked it better on my bathroom counter instead:
(these are all phone pictures, not the best quality)
A closer look:
Some of my favorites that I have:
Bye Bye Baby Weight, Hello Miniskirts
Personal Best
Be Healthy Inside & Out
No More Mommy Body
Train To Lose 
(and obviously the pictures of the perfect bodies that I dream of having someday!)
Its a good reminder of the things I want to accomplish and I get to stare at it every morning while I'm drying my hair and doing my make up :) 

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Story

I have never been skinny. But I haven't always been fat. Confusing? Let me explain.

Growing up, I was also chubbier than most of my friends. I was always uncomfortable in my own skin and discouraged by the fact that I couldn't wear the same, cute clothes that they did. I played sports for a few years, but never fell in love with a specific sport so I just gave up. And that was the beginning of weight gain and inactivity. I wouldn't say that my family ate unhealthy, I would just say that I ate a lot of whatever we did eat. My portion control was way off and I have always been an emotional eater and a mindless snacker. Any reason to celebrate called for food. I had a great childhood, had all the love & material things I could ever ask for. I guess thats why I never, truly cared enough to do anything about the way I looked. I knew I was loved, regardless of how chubby I was!

I continued to gain weight slowly through elementary school, and then in middle school decided I needed to lose weight. Instead of doing things the healthy way, I did the complete opposite. I would go days without eating, and then the next few days I'd binge and then make myself throw up. It was a vicious cycle and looking back at pictures from 7th and 8th grade- sure I was thin, but I was also very unhealthy. I knew I couldn't live that way forever, and I was miserable feeling the way I did, so I just started eating again. 

I don't remember ever weighing myself until after high school, so I really don't know how much I weighed back then- I only know what sizes I wore. In middle school I was a size 8 or 10 (at my thinnest) and by the time I graduated high school, I was a size 18. I met my husband my sophomore year of high school and we have been together ever since. Every weekend we would go out to eat several times and the pounds began to pile on. I was still unhappy with my weight, but didn't have the motivation to do anything about it. I'd go on crash diets for a week, give up and go back to to my old, unhealthy habits.

During college I continued with this lifestyle and gained even more weight. I got married in 2005, the weekend after I graduated with Bachelors Degree and although I'm happy with my wedding pictures- I know I'd be a lot happier knowing my dress wasn't a size 16 and that I weighed close to 200 pounds. My husband loved me, didn't ever seem bothered by weight and we were just very comfortable together.

Then the babies came along! My first son, Austin, was born August of 2006. I was miserably sick for the first half of my pregnancy and ended up losing 20 pounds. By the time I was 9 months pregnant, I had re-gained those 20 pounds, plus about 15 more. I lost the weight fairly quickly after he was born, but you would never know since I was so heavy to begin with. 20 months later, my second son, Carson was born.
(pregnant with Austin, 2006)

I gained the same amount of weight with Carson, and again lost it soon after he was born. But my post-pregnancy belly was not a pretty sight. 2 babies is less than 2 years wreaks havoc on your stomach (not that it was ever pretty to begin with!). I began my life as a Stay at home mom, involving myself in play dates with friends and lots of quality time with my kiddos. No where in that time did I take time to take care of myself. My babies always came first. At my highest weight, I weighed more than I did at 9 months pregnant with either child. I had lost the baby weight, but re-gained 25 pounds of mommy-weight. While my kids still come first in many ways- I now realize that putting my health first is going to reward not only me, but them also. They will get to have a healthy, active mom who will be around much longer. 

It wasn't until August of 2010 that I decided I had to do SOMETHING about my weight. At 256 pounds and a size 20, I was completely miserable in my own skin. From the outside- you probably couldn't tell (that I was unhappy, it was obvious that I was fat!). I've been blessed with a very good life- awesome family & friends, a house we love & all the material things that we "need" and "want". However- deep down inside, I wasn't happy. I had no self-confidence and felt held back by my weight. I wanted to love what I saw in the mirror, I wanted to be able to walk into a store-any store- and try on whatever clothes I wanted, not just the ones that would hide the fat the best. I wanted to feel confident, sexy & healthy.

(pictures taken March 2010 at my absolute highest weight)

Right after my oldest son's 4th birthday, I started walking. At first it was 3 or 4 days a week, for 20 minutes each time. It was hard at first. I hated sweating and I hated making the time to exercise because it drove me crazy that I didn't see results immediately. I started logging my calories and tracking every single thing I ate. Whether it was a full meal or just a bite of the kids plate, I logged it using MyFitnessPal. I decided that Friday would be my weigh-in day and so every Friday, I would weigh myself first thing in the morning. I lost between 2 and 3 pounds each week for the first month and felt encouraged and determined to finish the journey that I had been on for so, so long.  After I had lost about 15 pounds I decided I wanted to try running. This made my husband laugh at first and he reminded me that I was the girl who do ANYTHING to get out of running the mile in high school each week. Although he laughed, he encouraged me and told me he knew I could do it. I started using the Couch 2 5k program and completed the 9 week training schedule. I continued to lose weight each week and LOVED the success I felt at completing 30 straight minutes of running. I never thought it was possible. I couldn't run 30 seconds when I started.

I entered my first 5k race on Thanksgiving of 2010, the Turkey Trot.
I finished in 42:17 and was exhausted. I didn't think I would be able to finish, but I did. I hadn't set any time goals because I wasn't sure what to expect. That was my motivation to sign up for another race and beat my time. The next race I ran was a month later in Santa Monica and I beat my time by 4 minutes, finishing in about 38:00. After that, I officially had the "race bug". I wanted to keep running so that I could continue improving my time, and also losing weight. I signed up for several local 5k's and 10k's and a year later, trained for and successfully finished my first half marathon in 3:00:34. I never, ever dreamed that I would be able to run 13.1 miles (much less 1 mile!) but I DID IT! And the best part? I LOVED IT.

(pictures from my 1st half marathon, November 2011)

Am I fast runner? NO WAY! And you know what? I probably never will be. And I'm 100% okay with that. I'm not focused on becoming an Olympian, I'm focused on enjoying myself and getting a good workout in. I'm completely comfortable with my "slower than average" pace (11:00 min/mi). I'm okay with not finishing first. I'm okay with occasionally finishing in the back. I try my best to compete only with myself, not other runners. I have fallen in love with running and the way it has changed my mind, body and spirit. I have gone from a size 20, to now a comfortable size 10 (although I recently tried a pair of size 8 jeans on and THEY FIT!). Running has made me more confident, its a way to clear my head, to remove stress & to tone my body. Although I will never look like Jillian Michaels or Beyonce, I am happy with the way I look and the body I was given. I know its not perfect, but its mine. I know that I'm taking care of it now, and that I'm treating it the way it was meant to be treated! Food is not a band-aid any more, its a way to re-fuel my body. I have learned that the labels "low-calorie" & "fat free" doesn't necessarily mean its good for you- it will most likely leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied. Its all about a balance of fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein. Cutting the processed junk out, and filling your body with natural, clean foods. Its not about shopping exclusively at Whole Foods or Trader Joes and spending a fortune, its just about making smarter choices wherever you shop. Sure there are days I splurge and enjoy a cupcake or a piece of pizza- but that's a treat now, not a normal meal! Its all about balance and portion control.

I am blessed with a completely supportive husband that encourages me to go out and run whenever I get the chance.  My kids know that Mommy is a much nicer person when she gets her run or workout in so they like it too! Getting in shape has changed my life in so many ways and I hope that I can inspire someone else- even if its just one person- to go out of their comfort zone and try something they never thought was possible. You don't have to be rich to lose weight. Just get out there and take it one step at a time, literally. Walking and Running is something we can all do (well, there are a few exceptions, obviously). Its cheap and convenient and doesn't discriminate against age, race or size. If you are feeling stuck and like you need something new to challenge yourself, please contact me! You can email me or comment here, whatever is easiest for you. I would absolutely love to help you in any way I can. I know how important a support system is during this process (and after). Losing weight and becoming a healthier person is so, so rewarding and I would love others to feel the same as I do. I look forward to posting about my running adventures and struggles, healthy recipes that your whole family will enjoy & the journey of losing these last 25 pounds!

Will it be easy? Nope.
Will it be worth it? Oh Yeah.