Thursday, April 26, 2012

Snack Attack

Ask anyone who knows me, when I am hungry, it’s time to feed the beast!  I get extra cranky and irritable.  So now instead of heading to Sonic for a Happy Hour run or raiding my co-workers candy bowl, I have a back-up plan.  I keep snacks in my gymbag, the glove box in my car, Brian’s car and my desk at work.  There is a reason that the shelf life on a twinkie is about 10 years, do you want that sitting in your belly or thighs for 10 years?  I sure don’t!  So clear out that dusty snack pack and candy bar and replace them with a healthy option.  Ideally it’s best to eat fresh fruit or vegetables but if I can’t get to a store, I need to have something on hand to hold me over.  Here’s my favorites.

Larabars-Seriously they are amazing and only have 2-4 ingredients and are each about 200 calories.  They are usually about $1.50 a bar, but most stores put them on sale every other month or so.  When I can get them for a $1 each I stock up with at least 20!  My favorites are pecan pie, chocolate mint and chocolate chip cookie dough.  They have about 20 flavors and have a shelf life of about 6 months.  These are PERFECT to slip in your purse when you are traveling, camping or anywhere you can’t tote fresh produce easily.  On mornings when I don’t have time to make eggs for breakfast these are a perfect replacement and provide me with enough nutrition and energy to get me going. 

Funky Monkey Freeze Dried Fruit-I have seen these at Super Target, and I buy them by the case on Amazon.  My favorite is the Bananamon (Banana with cinnamon).  Each bag has 1 serving of fruit and about 50 calories.  Dried fruit is usually very high in sugar, but freeze dried is really crunchy/crispy.  Remember the astronaut ice cream you used to get on museum field trips as a kid?  It’s like that!!  Except it’s organic, fat free and no sugar added. 

I’m always looking to add options, what are your favorite go to snacks??   

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Can you take a compliment?

Confession: I have a tendency to be what I jokingly refer to as “an attention whore.”  I cannot deny that I get extremely excited when someone posts something nice on my facebook wall, sends me a sweet email, or comments on the blog; in fact, when I get positive feedback I always want to shout it from the rooftops. Now before you start thinking, “wow, this girl is truly full of herself”, the truly ironic part of this “attention-whore” tendency of mine is that it does not come out of a place of self-confidence; instead, it comes straight out of the part of my soul that feels insignificant, unloved, and unworthy.  Deep down, some part of me thinks that if I keep telling everyone when others say that I am kind or loved or smart or funny, others might believe it is true.  If I am being completely candid I have always known that I based my self-worth on the opinions of others; I have always hated this quality in myself!

One of the most unexpected results of my weight loss/running/health journey was that I started to realize that I was strong and I began to gain confidence in myself.  By the end of 2011, I decided I did not want to spend my life looking for a steady stream of praise to fill the leaking bucket of my self-worth and that while facing the depths of those insecurity issues might be painful, I was ready. After everything I had accomplished this past year, I knew I had the inner strength to face those demons and I made an appointment with a counselor.  While it is easy to write about this now, at that time I really struggled with this; even though I always highly recommend therapy to other people, for some reason I felt that I was an intelligent person and I should be able to “fix” this myself.  I am so thankful that I had the courage to admit that I needed help processing these thoughts; in the very first session, my therapist said something so which truly impacted me and helped me to make a connection that I would never have arrived at on my own. He listened patiently as I explained where I was struggling and how I was angry and frustrated at myself for feeling insecure because I thought only 13 year old girls struggled with ‘not liking themselves’, not 31 year old professional women! Then he responded by stating, “Carrie, I do not think the issue is that you do not like yourself.  I think the problem is that you are actually starting to like yourself, and the thought that you might actually be worthy or lovable is flying in the face of everything you have been told or told yourself for the past 30 years.”  The poignancy and truth of this statement struck me to the core. Over the past few months, I have made huge strides in developing an inner sense of confidence, worth, and value that is independent of opinions of others.  I was ready to kick that insecure little girl to the curb! 

A technique that I have learned through therapy is the practice of ‘mindfulness’; modern psychology defines this as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally; or bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.”  While that may be the clinical definition, for me, practicing mindfulness is just a fancy way of saying that  I am paying attention to what I am thinking or feeling, trying to identify patterns and making mental notes of things that I would like to explore deeper later.  It was this technique that led to my most recent revelation: remember how at the beginning of this post I was talking about desperately wanting compliments? Well it turns out I cannot take them.

I do not know how many of you have seen the movie or read the book “The Help,” but a key scene involves Abilene (the maid) telling her charge (a 3 year old child who is being emotionally neglected), “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” The scene is so powerful, because in our heart of hearts that is exactly what we want to believe about ourselves. What I have come to realize is that no matter how much I desire to hear those words, or even how much I may even want to believe those words are true, the reality is that a conversation between Abilene and I would be more like the following:

“Carrie, you is kind”…..”Well sometimes I am, but I can be really selfish too.”
“Carrie, you is smart”….”Ha ha, I may be book smart but I have no common sense.”
“Carrie, you is important”….”Not really, I am single and definitely have not achieved what I thought I would by the age of 31.”

I am not always be that obvious about deflecting compliments; I often disguise self-deprecation with humor.  This week, one of my coworkers complimented me on my television interview and instead of just saying thank you, I proceeded to point out all of the funny commentary on the segment and then made a joke out of the fact that the host stated that you wouldn’t see me in the first wave of runners, or even the second or that at the end the host said, “don’t ask her about the future, she doesn’t know.” Rather than acknowledge the fact that I was featured because I have an inspirational story, I chose instead to redirect the conversation towards mocking myself and the interview.  Since I am working on being more “mindful” I caught myself doing this and as I started thinking about it I realize I do it all of the time! Obviously I have worked really hard this year to get healthy and lose weight and change my life- so why do I say “well, I still have some more to go” or “I just do not want to gain it all back” instead of just saying “thank you, I appreciate that, or thank you, that is so nice to hear”?

I may be reaching out on a limb here, but I do not think that I am the only person who does this. I also think that responding to compliments by negating ourselves or our achievements simply feeds into the nasty lying voice inside our heads that says that “we are not worth it or not valuable.” And I don’t know about you, but I am tired of listening to that voice and believing those lies! So will you join my challenge this week to accept every compliment graciously? (though if I truly am the only person who is overly critical of myself and who has trouble accepting or receiving praise, that is fine, just let me know- at least I’ll have something else to discuss at my next therapy appointment!) 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

SmartPhone Addicts Anonymous

According to my mother, I am addicted to technology.  She bases this ‘clinical’ diagnosis on the following observations:   my smartphone is never more than 24 inches away from me, it takes every ounce of willpower I have to refrain from grabbing the phone and immediately responding when I hear the chirp that announces that I have a new email or text (for some reason she finds it rude if I would do this during dinner out at a restaurant:), that on quite a few occasions when asked a question my nephew has responded with “Aunt Carrie will just google it,” and the fact that I consider it pure torture to have to sit and watch a television show without playing on my ipad or phone at the same time. I, however, consider all of these practices completely normal and justify them as the evolutionary survival tactics of the modern professional woman- aka multitasking at its finest.

I will not ask you to choose a side between my mother and I (because the truth is she almost always is right 99% of the time), but I thought I would share a few of the  tools/apps/websites that Lexy and I love.

-         Pinterest: I have to be honest and admit that I was a late addition to the pinterest bandwagon.  People would describe it to me and I would think, “really? Why would I want a ‘virtual’ bulletin board to ‘pin’ things to? Doesn’t my internet browser already have a bookmark function?” However, Lexy convinced me to try it and I love it.  I am always looking for new recipes to try, and there is no easier way to collect them all in one location then to “pin” it to my board.  Then when I am trying to decide on something I want to make, I simply go to my pinterest boards and find something that sounds good- one click and it directs me back to the website where I originally found the recipe.  I also pin tons of motivational quotes or things that inspire me. If you want to check out our pinterest boards, here are the links: and

-         Twitter: My favorite thing about twitter is it connects me with some of my favorite health or fitness people and the interesting articles that they post. Free to follow Lexy (@lexylily) or I (@lexrouse) on twitter or to browse the list of people that we follow.

-         Running Log: I use the free edition of this app on my iPad and I love it.  After every run I add in my mileage and time so that I can keep track of how many miles I have run by week/month/year.  My goal for 2012 is 800 miles and according to my handy dandy app, as of this morning I am at 288.81. What I like about this app is that the information is displayed in calendar format and there are a ton of different symbols that you can use to notate the type of run (for example H=Hill, IT=Interval training, Tr=Treadmill), whether it was a group run, and also where you can notate what effort level the run was on a scale of 1-10.

-         Myfitnesspal: this is the website/app that both of us use to track our calories/nutrition/weight.  I stopped using Weight Watchers e-tools awhile ago and switched to myfitnesspal, because I wanted to make sure that I was tracking more than just points- I wanted to have an idea of how many calories and other nutrients I was eating and also to track the calories I burned through exercise.  The great part about myfitnesspal (besides the fact that there are millions of foods already entered in and also that you can add in/create your own recipes to get the nutrition facts) is that you can link your profile so that you can see what your friends are eating and others can see what you are eating.  That may sound a little intimidating or “stalkerish”, but actually I never look at people’s food diaries to monitor their calories- I look to get ideas for new things to eat, new healthy snack ideas, etc.  Many of you have asked Lexy and I what we eat every day, so if you are curious, here are the links to our myfitnesspal accounts: and

-         Runkeeper:  This is a great GPS app to use when you are walking/running and you want to track your mileage/pace/etc.  All you do is start the app when you start your run/walk and then at whatever interval or time you set (I have mine set for every 5 minutes) and the app will interrupt your music and tell you your distance/pace/time. At the end of the run you can save the run (you will be able to view all of your runs on; the site will show the route/elevation/etc of your route) and you can also choose to  post the run to facebook or twitter.   

Paprika is great- it is pricy for an app at $4.99, but it is WELL WORTH IT
-         Paprika: I love love love this app.  In fact, I love it so much that it probably deserves its own blog post/review, but I would feel too guilty writing about apps that I use or love and not including Paprika.  Basically, Paprika is this awesome app that has a browser built in- so when you surf the web or search for recipes and find one that you like, you can click “save recipe” and if it is one of the 100+ sites it recognizes it will immediately save the recipe into your recipe collection (picture, directions, ingredients, nutrition facts, etc!). No worries if you find a recipe on a site that is not recognized, all you do is highlight each different section of the recipe (i.e. click on the ingredients- hit copy) and then hit the word ingredients on the bottom of the page and save the recipe that way- you can also type in your own recipes.  The best part about this app- you pick which recipes you want to make from your recipe book, hit the little grocery cart icon and a grocery list will pop up of all of the ingredients from the recipe- then you delete which items you already have in your pantry and hit add- and automatically a grocery list is created for you, divided by food section (produce/dairy/meat etc).  I take my iPad with me to the grocery store and check off the foods as I put them in my cart (this is also helpful if I have to go to multiple stores- it is an easy way to keep track of what I have purchased and what I still have left to get).  And when I’m ready to cook there is no running around trying to find where my recipes are or what websites they were on- all I do is open my paprika app and they are all right there!

These are just a few of the ways that my technology addiction has helped in my health/weight loss journey! Let me know if you have any questions about any of the apps/websites- and also let us know if there are apps or websites that you guys use or love!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

For the LOVE of Almond Butter

We ate peanut butter in our house, but I wouldn’t call it a staple.  Once we meet with the Nutritionist he explained about the Omega-3’s and all the nutritional benefits of eating nuts.  We were surprised to learn that a peanut, is actually a legume, not a nut, so when you eat peanut butter you aren’t getting all of those benefits.  We looked at jars of Almond butter in the store and I was turned off by the oil floating on the top, and more importantly the price!  I did some digging around on pinterest and founds it’s just as easy to make your own almond butter (or cashew, pecan or other nut for that matter).  You can follow my pins at “Lexy Lux”-once I have tried and approved them I move them over to “Pinterest Successes” 

Are you ready for the recipe??

1 pound of roasted unsalted almonds (we buy in the bulk food section)

Food processor-we tried it in our blender before we bought a food processor, it’s doable, but much harder. 

Mason Jar & Lid

Seriously, that’s the recipe!! 

Pour the almonds in, at first they will be crumbly and as it whirls it will start to get creamier.  It takes a few minutes.  We like it really smooth.  1 pound will fill 1 regular size mason jar.  We normally do about 5 pounds at a time.  These filled jars are like gold at our house, I dropped one and shattered it on the floor, and I thought my husband was going to cry.  I put it on apple wedges, bananas, use it in smoothies, spread on Ezekiel toast, brown rice cakes, make ice cream (more on that one later!) and just devour it with a spoon.  You don’t need salt or sugar or any extra oils. 

Brian likes to go camping and wants to eat clean while he is there so he always stocks up on individual packs of Justin’s Nut Butter, they have lots of yummy flavors.  There are some extra ingredients in them and it’s not as cheap as making your own, but if you want to try out almond butter before you make the commitment to making a full pound, try it out.  I stash a couple in my car and desk at work, there’s nothing like an Almond emergency!!  I also hear that Target's house brand Archer Farms makes almond butter with only Almonds in it.  I haven't tried it, but thought I'd pass it along. 

One time we couldn’t find roasted unsalted almonds and tried raw and roasted salted almonds, both were disastrous for different reasons.  They need to roasted so the natural oils come out and make it creamier.  We had to roast them in the over and there is a fine line between slightly roasted, and SMOKED almond butter.  I wasn’t a fan.  If you are lucky enough to live by a Sunflower Market, they go on sale about every other month for about $5 a pound.  Or you can get them at Whole Foods, or maybe even your local grocery store bulk section.  Go to your pantry and read the ingredient list on your peanut butter or even almond butter at the store.  If there are items in there you can’t pronounce, or don’t know what they are, why are you putting them in your body??

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lexy's Journey: Getting rid of the Garbage!

 I eat, I eat a lot, but it’s food! Not plastic, processed, and packaged garbage that the food industry tries to pawn off as food. I only eat things I can pronounce and now I'm a comfortable size 4.

 When was the last time you had a heaping bowl of propylene glycol and polysorbate? If you eat cake from the bakery at the local grocery store, than you most likely had the same ingredients used in tile grout and brake fluid. Yum!

Yes, it does takes more work to prepare whole foods, but it's worth it. I know what’s in my food and I know it’s fresh. I know my foods have all the nutrients I need to give me lots of energy.

Over a five year period I had gained about 60 pounds and on my 5’4” frame, that wasn’t a pretty sight! In the summer of 2011 I was on the verge of a size 16 and I would have zipper and button imprints on my gut at the end of the day. I hated trying on new clothes and would even cut the tags out of my clothing to feel better. I had been thin most of my life and even competed in Miss America pageants. But after graduating from college and marring the love of my life, I didn't make my health a priority.

It was time for a change, so I spent months eating what I thought was healthy… know those frozen so called “healthly” lunch entree’s and went to the gym at least 5 times a week…. but I saw no results. I wasn’t eating fast food for lunch, but I now realize I wasn’t putting real food in my body either.

This past July I ate my pride “no pun intended” and reached out for help. I met with one of the leading doctors of natureo path nutrition in the nation and now I'm thrilled to say I have lost over 50 lbs and my husband has lost over 75 lbs. I'm eating clean and putting good actual food in my body. You know what, It works! And you can do it too.

I'm excited to join with Carrie on this blog and bring my experiences to the masses. Carrie and I have been friends for over 20 years, we have certainly seen each others highs and lows. However, I'm happy we have been able to transform our lives together and it’s a good thing we have unlimited texting. I hope you find our blog helpful and good luck on your own journey to better health.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Carrie's Journey: The Year I Turned 30 I Changed My Life

Cheering on my favorite Reds, Summer 2010, 265 lbs
Easter 2012-over 107 lbs lighter!
There has never been a time in my life where I have not struggled with weight or body image issues. While I was never obese at a young age, cramming my curvy big-boned frame into juniors size jeans was far from pleasant. My self-consciousness was exacerbated by “helpful” comments about my weight; for instance, when I was about 13 my uncle told me he was sure I would be fine as soon as I lost all of my baby fat. Needless to say, the “baby fat” never went away and comments like these, even when well-intentioned, were actually destructive. Food was also my primary coping mechanism and when I was feeling sad or upset I would binge on junk food. Afterwards, I would be extremely ashamed; I knew this was not necessarily normal so I would make sure to hide the evidence so no one would know how many little Debbie snacks or candy bars I had consumed. I also had a complete lack of any nutrition knowledge (I am still trying to figure out how in the heck an intelligent honors student like myself could make it to college before she realized that carbs included more than bread and pasta). Hamburger Helper, Easy Mac, Wonder Bread, and all sorts of varieties of American processed foods were staples in my family’s pantry.

Throughout high school and college, I was around 15-20 lbs overweight. I would bitch about this when my friends were buying smalls/mediums and I was buying x-larges, but I never seriously did anything about it. I was always trying some kind of diet- but you can only eat 5 bowls of cheerios a day or excessive amounts of protein (who cares if it is full of fat and garbage as long as it is carb-free!) for so long. Eventually I would burn out and each time I would end up gaining back the weight, plus a few extra pounds- while at the same time jacking up my metabolism a little more. If you look at pictures from this time you will notice that I had successfully mastered the “turtle pose” – aka stretching your neck out/tilting your chin up to avoid a double chin:) Whenever I saw skinny people I never associated their slenderness with hard work or eating healthy on their part; I simply cursed my German ancestors for passing along the “fat, broad shouldered, wide-hipped genes.”

My weight began seriously spiraling out of control during law school (aka what I like to describe as hell that you actual pay for the privilege of attending). Law school was one of the most difficult times in my life for a myriad of reasons, and I once again turned to food (primarily ice cream, cookie dough, and chocolate) to cope with the stress, depression and loneliness I was feeling. When I graduated from law school, I do not know which was more staggering- my student loan debt or the extra 75 lbs that I had packed on. For the next 3-4 years, I languished in this state; I had resigned myself that I would always be overweight and that I should just accept it. As my friends started getting married, I became convinced that I would never meet someone or get married (even though this was-and still is- something I have always wanted) because I knew that guys had never seen me as an attractive person. I always felt like others saw me as the “fat, funny friend”, a role that I played well; in other words I was the entertaining girl you would like to hang out with, but not the girl you would want to date.

I always joked that I should have been a farmer instead of an attorney so I could wear overalls instead of dressy professional clothes. I played this off as my being a tomboy and not wanting to sacrifice sleep for primping, but the real reason that I did not like dressing up was that I hated how I looked. It was absolutely no fun to go shopping when I was a size 22-24; my only store options were Lane Bryant or the Macy’s women’s department. Once I eliminated elastic waist pants and tunics (seriously, there just is no justifying that), there honestly wasn’t much of a selection. I remember telling a Lane Bryant sales associate how ridiculous I thought it was that Lane Bryant carried skinny jeans- I mean if you are shopping at Lane Bryant you do not need to be wearing skinny jeans! The reality is it was hard to get excited about shopping for and wearing clothes where the whole purpose is to hide as many aspects of your body as possible

My journey to health and long term weight loss started when I hosted a Christmas party at my house in 2010. When Sarah (a friend of a friend who I had barely known in high school) showed up at my door I had no idea that she would shortly become my own personal Jillian Michaels (and start me on a journey that would change my entire life!) After the party, Sarah and I became “facebook friends” and as I perused her profile I saw that she had competed in a 5k and lifted weights on the same day. I clearly remember thinking, “holy crap, if I ran a 5k that would count as my exercise for two months- I would never run and lift weights on the same day!” I made a casual post on her wall telling her she was my hero. Sarah wrote back thanking me and telling me she could help me if I wanted her to; impulsively I replied and took her up on the offer. Thank goodness I tend to be an impulsive person, because if I had taken a minute to think through what I was asking for, I never would have responded! The first thing that Sarah asked me to do was to email her my weight and my measurements- talk about humiliating! It was embarrassing sending my “fat” measurements to an acquaintance who was already super fit and toned! I was tempted to pull the whole trick that I did when I renewed my drivers license – “yes of course I still weigh what I did when I got my drivers license at 16”, however, Sarah is an extremely intelligent woman and I was pretty sure she would not believe that I only weighed 155 lbs (especially since I was 110 lbs heavier than that). Sarah and I also made plans to meet at her her gym that week. A quick visual here, as proof that I am not lying when I say that I am not a natural athlete- I showed up to meet Sarah at the gym to work out in Skechers Shapeups. REALLY???? Who does that? Instead of laughing hysterically, Sarah kicked my butt and filled my head with all kinds of fitness and nutrition knowledge. I was honest with Sarah that I wanted to change and do something but I also knew mentally that I needed to slowly ease in to this. I was very determined not to be a cliché New Year’s Resolutioner. I justified this to everyone (really to myself) by starting on Dec. 27; in my mind, that definitely set me apart from every other person in the world who started on January 1. Yes, I realize that was ridiculous, but for me it was important mentally to distinguish myself from all of my past attempts at weight loss and from the general belief that all New Year’s resolutions fail.

I decided I would focus on making exercise a regular habit before I made a drastic shift in how I was eating. I am not necessarily recommending this approach for everyone; I know that I would have lost more weight sooner had I switched to eating healthy food immediately. However, at the time this was the right decision for me and in fact I still believe that making exercise a habit first is what led to this journey becoming a permanent lifestyle change rather than just another failed diet plan. I started walking four days a week; Sarah sent me a walking training plan where the mileage gradually increased each week.. What Sarah did not tell me at the time was that she designed the training plan so that in March I would walk a 15k and then would continue to train to walk the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon; I told you she was a smart woman, if she would have told me that up front I would have bailed immediately:) Looking back, I laugh at how ridiculously low my mileage was when I first started, but at the time it was really hard. In the beginning I doubted myself and my commitment level; thus, when I signed up for a gym membership I made sure I signed up on a month to month plan, primarily because I did not want to have the double guilt of paying money to not work out. However, I was really diligent and did not miss one of my scheduled walks! I think what worked best about having this walking schedule already mapped out for me was that I did not have to figure out what to do each day- for someone who has never really exercised, going to a gym and trying to figure out what to do can be really intimidating and overwhelming. I loved that after a stressful day at work I could just go home (or to the gym) and walk without having to think about how many miles I had to go or what machines I had to use.

My first official “race” was the Cincinnati Mini Heart Marathon 15k. I was really nervous- 9.3 miles is a long way to walk and I had never done any sort of “race”. I felt completely out of my element among all of the runners with all of their official running gear, whereas I didn’t even know how to attach my timing tag to my shoe! It was pouring down rain and I was standing there in my blue poncho thinking what the heck did I get myself into! I knew that I could not back out – not only had people sponsored me to walk in the 15k, I had captained a team of people from my work. As I crossed the finish line (in 2 hours and 38 minutes) I had two distinct thoughts: (1) it is really cool to get a finishers medal and (2) there is no way in hell I am going to be able to walk 4 more miles in the half- marathon in 6 weeks!

At this time, a couple of co-workers had started doing weight watchers and were trying to convince me to join with them. I really struggled with this decision because I did not want to pay money for another diet plan and I felt like I was a smart enough person that I should be able to figure out how to eat healthier by myself (with the assistance of the google:) While those were the surface level reasons, the truth is that I was scared. I was terrified to start another weight loss plan, only to fail again. I remember thinking how disappointed and disheartened I would be if it did not work- and how I wasn’t sure that I could mentally handle that disappointment. After thinking about it and talking with Sarah, I decided to try it. On April 5, 2011 I joined weight watchers weighing 250 lbs. I remember how absolutely daunting that felt, thinking that I had over 100 lbs to lose; it seemed so insurmountable. . From the very beginning, weight watchers was different than any other diet I had every tried- simply because it did not feel like a diet. I never once felt deprived and I could eat whatever I wanted, I just had to stay within my points allowance. The one thing I was committed to was that I did not want to eat diet plan food- I wanted to learn how to eat normally, not have to be locked into only being able to lose weight if I purchased and ate the “diet company” food. I focused on eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and creating healthier versions of my favorite meals. I also made the conscious choice not to buy a scale for my house and only weighed in once a week at weight watchers, because I did not want to become obsessed with my weight.

In mid-April, I decided to try the couch to 5k program. I had a lot of doubts as to whether this would work- because I have never been a runner, ever. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the last time I ran a mile was in elementary school for the Presidential Fitness test. I am a huge Cincinnati Reds fan and I decided that for extra incentive I would register for the Cincinnati Redlegs 5k.  Despite my doubts, I stuck with it and ran my first 5k in June! I was so proud that I did not walk once during the 5k, that was a huge step for me. Also I got to go down into the Reds' dugout and take pictures, including one of my favorite player Brandon Phillip's bat cubby!

During the summer and fall, I continued to eat healthy and run 4 times a week (I was doing the same training plan as before, except this time instead of walking I was running using 4:1 run walk intervals). Not only was I losing weight and becoming able to wear smaller sizes, I was starting to realize that I actually might have succeeded in changing my lifestyle- I mean I actually packed running shoes and kept to my running schedule even while on my family vacation at North Myrtle Beach! For the first time in over 5 years I was able to buy clothes not in the plus size department; and when I reorganized my closet and dresser to make room for the new smaller clothes I realized I actually needed a whole drawer for workout clothes- which is funny since it wasn't too long ago that I did not own a single item of workout clothing.

In November I went to Oklahoma and visited Lexy and ran my first half marathon- I did my 4/1 run walk intervals and I finished in 2:42! It was such an exciting experience and definitely something I never thought I would be able to do. My visit to Lexy also marked a huge change in the type of foods I was eating. While I was already eating fairly healthily, including a lot of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, Lexy and her husband Brian taught me a lot about eliminating processed foods. When Lexy first told me this, it sounded crazy to me- but then I quickly realized that eating and preparing real food was not nearly as difficult as it sounds- and it tasted so much better! I remember when Lexy had me try Brian’s homemade almond butter, and it was delicious- I told her that I wanted the recipe. She had to tell me at least three times that there were no other ingredients- it was just almonds! She also made me watch Food Inc., which completely infuriated me and convinced me that I had to switch to organic, whole, non-processed food instead of eating contaminated meat and chemicals. While we were driving back to the airport, Lexy found a Kohls ad showing a food processor black Friday sale; I immediately got on my smart phone and ordered it- and seriously, that food processor has changed my life:) Almost every day as I eat my homemade almond butter I think, what did I do before I had almond butter in my life?:) I never enjoyed cooking very much before, but making my own food has truly become something exciting and passionate about- it has made me a better cook. Honestly, I am an attorney and I don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen- and even though all of the advertising and propaganda tells you that the only way to eat quickly is by buying meals in a box, that is simply not true- eating clean and organic is just as quick as eating processed foods. I won’t go until all of the delicious, easy fun things that I make- but you will see the recipes on the blog I promise! And I guarantee you that after you try my homemade apple cinnamon oatmeal (that takes me 15 minutes to make and it makes enough servings for me to reheat for every day of the week), you will say the same thing that I did, “why the heck did I ever eat microwave apple and cinnamon oatmeal?” This is the first winter I have never been sick, not even with a cold- and I know it is because I am feeding my body good wholesome food.

Now, I am currently training with Bob Roncker’s running group to run the Cincinnati Flying Pig ½ marathon! Sometimes I get discouraged thinking on a day that I have a bad run or the number on the scale is not moving fast enough downwards but then I think about how far I’ve come since last year- I have accomplished two things I never thought I would do- I have lost over 107 lbs and I am an athlete! A half-marathoner to be exact:) I am now wearing a size 6-8 and I have 9 lbs left until I reach my weight watchers goal weight (according to the BMI chart I have to be under 150 lbs per weight watchers guidelines). While I am no expert on weight loss or running or eating clean, I am extremely passionate about all three of those things- and I would love to share any advice or encouragement or recipes or suggestions that I may have. If I can change from an obese couch potato to an athlete in a year, I know that ANYONE can- it truly is never too late to change your life! For me this journey has been and continues to be about more than just dropping numbers on a scale- it is about the confidence I’ve developed, the fact that I am learning to love and value myself, and that it has opened the doors to a whole new exciting world ahead of me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Who are We and Why are We Blogging?

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am not a patient person.  AT ALL.  The moment I have an idea, I want to immediately dive in head first and get started; thus, when Lexy and I decided to start a blog in the beginning of February, I wanted to quickly create a blog on a simple template, post the link on our facebook pages, and be off and running- preferably all on the same day.  However, since Lexy and I are both not web design saavy (the very mention of html coding gives me an instant headache) I knew that the immediate launching of a blog was not necessarily the wisest course of action- instead I needed to reign in my tendency towards impulsiveness and instead channel that passion into doing the necessary legwork to make sure that we were creating something meaningful and something that I would be proud of.  I spent the past two months choosing a blog hosting site, buying a domain name (it only took me two attempts to actually buy the right one!), choosing a color scheme, designing page elements, emailing back and forth with Lexy, coming up with ideas for topics we wanted to cover, scrapping the previously mentioned color scheme, swearing at the computer as I tried to correct the pagination and spacing on the blog, etc..; and all the while I have been chomping at the bit to just actually LAUNCH the blog!

Yet now that the time has come to actually launch the blog, I am paralyzed  by one thing- namely, how do you write the first blog post? In my mind, I have visions of the "perfect" first blog post- it is clever, informative, interesting, sassy, and unique enough to entice people to come back and read future posts (or heaven forbid actually subscribe to the blog!).  While I have lists in my head of topics I want to discuss on the blog (like why the heck is it okay for beaver anal gland juice permitted to be included in products for human consumption and allowed to be labeled under the generic title of 'natural ingredient' or 'how the longer I am a runner the more humble I become'), none of these topics seemed right for the first blog topic.  Just as I was about to turn to my favorite research tool and type "what do you write about for your first blog post?" in the google search box, I realized that while the google search might result in hundreds of pages of step by step tutorials or lists of what to do/not to do when starting a blog, those generic answers would not answer the heart of the question: who are Lexy and I and why are we blogging? Lexy and I are not experts about fitness or nutrition or weight loss and the fact remains that we both have full time careers that have nothing to do with the subject matter of this blog (Lexy is a director of development for a non-profit organization and I am an attorney).  I realized that I needed to let go of any visions of a "perfect" first blog post and instead go back to the basics of why Lexy and I even decided to start a blog in the first place- to have a place where we could express our passion and excitement over the new healthier lives that we have created for ourselves over the past year, to give practical and non-sugar coated advice about what we have learned and continue to learn in our journeys, to have a forum where we can discuss questions and struggles that we or our friends/family are having, to keep ourselves accountable and to share motivation and celebrate successes along the way.  This blog started for two main reasons: first, both Lexy and I kept getting questions about how and why we were doing what we were doing from our friends and family and we realized it would be a lot easier to answer them all at one location instead of sending individual emails to everyone and secondly,  right now I am so passionate about nutrition/running/eating organic etc...that I can hardly go fifteen minutes without talking about it and I am hoping that this blog will become a place where I can enthusiastically share that passion without annoying my family and co-workers by discussing it incessantly.

So this is not the perfect first blog post.  The truth is that I cannot promise that this will be a perfect blog- in fact it is still very much a work in promise. What I can promise is that it will be funny, authentic, compassionate, and sassy- because those are the qualities that Lexy and I value and embody.  So I hope you will raise a glass with us and toast to the beginnings of a new adventure!