Monthly Archives: March 2014

Couch to 5K: FINAL UPDATE

Guys, it happened:

I graduated from Couch to 5K.

Thinking I had more than one workout left because of the “free run” button at the end, I went into yesterday’s run primarily concerned about getting to run in my BRAND NEW SHOES (see post below; they’re glorious). However, at the end of the run, I realized that the “free run” was an indefinite button — I could log workouts into the future.

But that meant that after yesterday’s run, my first stab at Couch to 5K was over. Just like that.

For my last workout, I did what I’ve been doing — I ran for about 39 minutes, using the extra few past 36 to make up for (more than make up for, really) any time I took a sip of water or changed the TV station, and did my five minute walking warmup. This amounted to 3.6 miles, all told.

And so, my last three miles of Couch to 5K and my first three miles in my new shoes were one and the same. The passing of a torch, in a way.

I’ll be updating soon with my plans for how I’m going to continue running (and I am, of course, going to continue) and you’ll be hearing about my adventures. The new “title” for my running adventures?

“Project Speed Demon.”

YUP I REALLY AM GOING WITH THAT.

#srrynotsrry

What’s really amazing to me, though, is that I finished the C25K program at all. When I first started, I thought nine weeks sounded like forever. I also felt very skeptical that I could ever, ever, ever finish that much running. I also didn’t believe I’d do it three times a week — let alone 6. I also didn’t believe I’d ever grow to like it.

But the nine weeks flew by; I not only finished “that much running,” but added 6 extra minutes to my daily routine (because I run 12-minute miles, not 10-minute miles, those extra 6 minutes are needed to reach the full 3.1 miles); I run 5-6 times a week happily; I’ve grown to enjoy it — I look forward to it every day.

It probably sounds hokey to say that Couch to 5K changed my life, but I suppose it did. When I started, I was nearly ten lbs heavier and incapable of running a single mile. Now, even though I run slow, I run steady. And as I always say, “That’s not nothin’.” For most of my life, running has felt like a door that’s been closed to me. Mom is good at it. Matt is good at it. My friends were good at it. I never was, but always wished I could be. What I’ve learned, I think, these past nine weeks is that I AM a runner/can be a runner, and that “good” is relative. I don’t need to be FAST to be good. I don’t need to run marathons to be good — although it would be cool to run one (baby steps… baby steps…). The discovery: All I need to do, to be “a runner,” is to run.

And I do run.

And I like it.

A lot.

And for me, that is nothing short of a miracle.

Really.

So thanks, Couch to 5K. Your terrible voice actors and occasionally glitchy logging feature were there for me every step of the way. Literally. You gave me structure and routine, and pushed me harder than I thought I could go (DAMN YOU WEEK THREE). You made me feel accomplished. You gave me a visual representation of how far I’ve come. You kept count for me. You counted ON me to be there three times a week (at LEAST), and always made me want to be better and to keep going. In your strange little poorly-voice-acted way, you changed who I am.

How can I say “thank you” enough times for that?

(But don’t worry, my little App Friend, I have plans for you… you’ll be seeing me!)

SUCCESS, guys. SUCCESS.

Thanks for accompanying me on this journey so far — we’ve got many more adventures to experience, too, what with me and these great new running shoes.

Three more miles.

And then, three more.

Three more after that.

And on we’ll go.

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NEW SHOES.

Long before every YouTube video became viral and oft-posted, there was the very finest video of all time — the one with the guy in drag who sings proudly, “Let’s get some shoes, betch,” and then sets out to do exactly that.

This last Friday evening, my mom called me up. Knowing that Chelsea and I were coming into town the next day to see my cousin star in a school show, she asked what time we’d be getting in. I told her we were driving first thing in the morning.

She told ME that she and my dad had been talking, and that they were very proud of me/my running/my weight loss thus far, and that they wanted to buy me new running shoes to celebrate.

NEW RUNNING SHOES?!

Oh, I was — and am! — so excited!

When Chelsea and I got into town, we hopped in Mom’s Audi and went off to pick a pair.

Coincidentally, with our similar feet and similar stride and similar taste, I ended up getting the same pair my mom has. They’re gorgeous!

I wore them for the first time today, and it was like running on a cloud.

THANK YOU, mom and dad! I appreciate the love and the shoes so very much. Can’t wait to wear them again!

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Recipe: Reuben Casserole

Holy crow, you guys: THIS ONE IS GOOD.

Made it twice this weekend — once in Scranton for mom and dad, and when mom generously donated the extra corned beef and cheese to our cause, we made it again tonight for ourselves.

This casserole hits the same “spot” taste wise as eating a big deli sandwich or pub food — but for a m of the dietary damage!

NOTE OF CAUTION: Portion size is key.

Ingredients:
— 0.5 lbs corned beef, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
— 1 onion, sliced thin
— 2 teaspoons canola oil
— 0.5 lbs sauerkraut (packaged, NOT canned), drained and dried well
— 0.75 cups reduced-fat Jarlsberg cheese, shredded (Wegman’s has it, and it’s not expensive at all)
— Rye crust, crumbled (we used the Weight Watcher’s seedless rye, four slices, toasted then crumbled)
— 2 tablespoons FAT FREE Thousand Island dressing
— 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
— 2 cups canned potatoes
— 1 cup water

Directions:
(Preheat oven to 375)

1. In a flame-proof casserole dish, heat the canola oil and add onion (slice it thin!), cook until browning.

2. Add the stained, dried sauerkraut. Cook until browning.

3. Add 1 cup water, corned beef, potatoes, and caraway seeds. Bring to a boil.

4. Once boiling, drizzle 2 TBSP of the Thousand Island Dressing on top, then scatter the shredded Jarlsberg on top. Lastly, sprinkle the bread crumbs and spray lightly with cooking spray.

5. Cook for 25 minutes at 375, or until crumbs are golden brown.

Yields 4 even cups.

Each cup: 5 PP

We doubled the recipe, giving ourselves each 10PP worth of Reuben casserole for a special Sunday dinner. It did NOT disappoint!

Some Calculations

WEEK EIGHT IS OVER.

Today begins Week 9, the FINAL WEEK.

Wow, wow, wow, wowee wow.

For Week 8, I admittedly didn’t listen to the app very much. I did what I wanted, which was to run three full miles instead of just running for 28 minutes. And in my defense the app is glitching and not letting my log my specific workouts anyway so it all hardly matters.

Here’s my reasoning: Couch to 5K is designed so that if you run a 10 minute mile, you’ll be running three of them by the end of Week 9. Which is all well and good… If you can run a ten minute mile. I would venture to guess that most people (including myself) who are using Couch to 5K do NOT run ten minute miles. I believe I’m capable of it — it’s actually my next goal, which I’ll explain in a later post after I’ve finished Couch to 5K — but if I just follow the C25K program itself without upping my speed, that 3-mile marker is never going to hit. It takes me 36 minutes to run three miles — not 30. See what I mean?

Also worth noting: I usually still run for three minutes of my cooldown.

SO. Here’s what I have been thinking, then. If warmup is 5 minutes. And then C25K says, “Run for 28,” and then cooldown is 5, and if I run for three minutes of the cooldown anyway… then that’s 31 minutes. THAT’S ONLY FIVE MINUTES AWAY FROM 3 MILES. Which is just dumb not to pursue. So I run the full three then walk extra at the end. I use the timer on my phone to guide me in places the app falls short or doesn’t last long enough.

I suppose this means that for Week 9, there won’t be any new surprises or levels of surprise, because I already can comfortably run 3 miles. That is, unless I start running four miles this week…

But that’s not likely.

It would take me 48 minutes and really, I ain’t got time for that.

But yep yep, Week 8 is over.

LET THE LAST LEG OF THE JOURNEY BEGIN!

The initial journey, anyway.

#cantstopwontstop

Couch to 5K Update

WEEK EIGHT IS OVER.

Today begins Week 9, the FINAL WEEK.

Wow, wow, wow, wowee wow.

For Week 8, I admittedly didn’t listen to the app very much. I did what I wanted, which was to run three full miles instead of just running for 28 minutes. And in my defense the app is glitching and not letting my log my specific workouts anyway so it all hardly matters.

Here’s my reasoning: Couch to 5K is designed so that if you run a 10 minute mile, you’ll be running three of them by the end of Week 9. Which is all well and good… If you can run a ten minute mile. I would venture to guess that most people (including myself) who are using Couch to 5K do NOT run ten minute miles. I believe I’m capable of it — it’s actually my next goal, which I’ll explain in a later post after I’ve finished Couch to 5K — but if I just follow the C25K program itself without upping my speed, that 3-mile marker is never going to hit. It takes me 36 minutes to run three miles — not 30. See what I mean?

Also worth noting: I usually still run for three minutes of my cooldown.

SO. Here’s what I have been thinking, then. If warmup is 5 minutes. And then C25K says, “Run for 28,” and then cooldown is 5, and if I run for three minutes of the cooldown anyway… then that’s 31 minutes. THAT’S ONLY FIVE MINUTES AWAY FROM 3 MILES. Which is just dumb not to pursue. So I run the full three then walk extra at the end. I use the timer on my phone to guide me in places the app falls short or doesn’t last long enough.

I suppose this means that for Week 9, there won’t be any new surprises or levels of surprise, because I already can comfortably run 3 miles. That is, unless I start running four miles this week…

But that’s not likely.

It would take me 48 minutes and really, I ain’t got time for that.

But yep yep, Week 8 is over.

LET THE LAST LEG OF THE JOURNEY BEGIN!

The initial journey, anyway.

#cantstopwontstop

Mid-Week Update

Some things you should know.

Instead of writing a post that has, say, one direct point, I’m going to update you on a few things.

1. I do think oil pulling is whitening my teeth and it continues to make those same teeth really clean and smooth.

2. I discovered that Dannon makes a Greek yogurt that is chocolate raspberry flavored — and while I’ve been avoiding chemical flavoring, gosh darn, this one is SO GOOD. Like eating a chocolate mousse at a restaurant.

3. Except for yesterday, I have run three miles every single day since Friday. So that’s five out of six days, and that’s 15 miles of running! Except, being that my warmup and cool down add an extra 0.5 or 0.6, it’s actually more like…. 17.5 or 18 miles counting those.

4. Weighed myself in the afternoon, which is really unusual for me to so, but hey, I felt like it. And for the first time in years, I WAS IN THE 160’s!!!!! 169.9… But still. That is a BIG FREAKING DEAL for me. Wahoo! Let’s hope that it sticks or drops before weigh-in later in the week.

5. I really like apples.

That’s all for now.

I am becoming an increasingly lean slow-moving-running-machine, and couldn’t be more pleased.

Refused Pizza and Lived to Tell The Tale

This is not a particularly thrilling post, probably, but I am writing it to remind myself of the logic I must follow to continue avoiding stupid food mistakes.

 

Last night, we went out of town for for a work event (we = Claudia and I) and pizza was being served. I knew pizza would be served, and that we’d be gone until 10PM. So I packed dinner — a little bowl of salad with some leftover tofu, and a tupperware with 3/4 cups of cottage cheese that I seasoned with chives, parsley and (too much) garlic. I also brought an apple for “dessert” on the way home.

This is not exciting news, I know.

But when I was at the event, the smell of pizza was pretty tempting — especially since my cottage cheese had too much garlic powder (I love garlic — I never knew there COULD be too much) and something sweet and savory like pizza sounded clutch. It was even cut into tiny party-size pieces — which is the most dangerous part of all. Why? Because it’s really easy to think “Oh, it’s just a little piece…” and eat it and then it’s over.

So, dumb as it sounds, I mentally stigmatized. Here is the chronology of my thoughts:

6:00 PM: Don’t eat any pizza until all the participants are fed and seated.
6:15 PM: You have to eat your whole dinner before you can even consider pizza. Wait and see if you’re still hungry.
6:30 PM: I KNOW YOU WANT PIZZA SELF YOU REALLY SCREWED UP THIS COTTAGE CHEESE BUT YOU BETTER EAT EVERY BITE.
6:45 PM: Self, if you ate that pizza, it would be over so quickly. You wouldn’t even realize you were doing it. It would just be over and you’d have eaten the points and FOR WHAT?
7:00 PM: I mean, if you think about it, that pizza is probably cold right now. Even if it WAS good pizza while hot, it isn’t hot now.
7:30 PM: There are three little pieces left and we’re starting to take down the event. Do I eat them or throw them away?
8:00 PM: The last three little pieces of pizza hit the garbage can, and did so by my own hand

Crisis averted.

I think the important parts of the above logic are the notions that it would be over quickly, that I only wanted it because I didn’t want what I had, that the longer I waited the less important it seemed, and most importantly: that I wouldn’t outright die if I didn’t have it.

While some of you, dear readers, aren’t on Weight Watchers or on a wellness journey, some of you are. And so this post is for those of you who, like me, still struggle with food impulse control.

The best advice I can give? Come prepared. Bring a dinner. Bring snacks of snap peas and apples. Bring plenty of water. Don’t give in. Remind yourself how quickly that snack will be over — and ask yourself if it’s really worth it.

It almost never is.

And you, friend, are.

So hang in there.

Are You “Pulling” My Leg?!

Haaaa.

Terrible pun alert.

I wanted to talk to y’all about oil pulling.

Have you heard of it?

Here’s the long story short: it’s an ancient practice in which one swishes vegetable-based oil (olive, sunflower, safflower, coconut etc) in one’s mouth for 20 minutes and then spits it out. Then you gargle with salt water and brush your teeth.

Well, why would anyone ever want to do that?

Depends on who you ask.

I am typically a skeptic of everything, even pharmaceutical products, so color me skeptical about oil pulling — or at least, the benefits most health nuts are ascribing to it. I’ve seen on the internet claims of everything from fighting gun disease to curing acne to remediation arthritis pain. I do not know if any of that is true — no studies back it up, that I know of. There’s lots of testimonial out there that says it works, but not a lot of scientific studies.

And so, you won’t see me saying it heals the entire body and soul.

I did, however, hear that it whitens teeth when done with coconut oil.

And THAT sounded realistic and believable.

So we bought some coconut oil, and are giving it a try.

We are now like three days in, and here’s what I do/think:

I swish for 20 minutes before bed (we watch an episode of Community and swish away) and then in the morning during my getting ready routine.

I use unrefined coconut oil that’s been expeller-pressed.

When I do it, afterward my teeth feel so smooth and shiny that it cannot be understated. No, they are not merely coated in oil. I have found that the gritty feeling that teeth accrue after a day of being teeth is rinsed away and gone after I swish. Doing this before bed, when I wake up in the morning my mouth doesn’t feel ratchet like it usually does either – it feels like it would had I never gone to sleep at all. So for what it’s worth, it cleans your teeth for sure. I don’t know that my teeth have ever been so clean.

As for whitening — it’s only been three days but I do believe I am seeing some results. I’ll keep you posted.

Like I said, you’ll not see me touting this practice as a miracle cure — I’m just here for whiter teeth and thought I would give it a whirl. You can consult with google if you want more info on its other rumored benefits; I’m not going to spout them like some deranged yogi. For all I know, it may do everything everyone suggests and more! And that would be awesome, because for 9 bucks a jar, you could basically fix most ailments.

But in the case that it doesn’t, just remember I didn’t lead you astray or espouse a weird theory.

No sir; no ma’am.

I’m here for clean white teeth; I’ll let you know if I get ’em.

PS — here’s the oil I use.

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An Ode to “The Chelseas”

I dislike that spellcheck always wants to turn plural proper nouns into possessive nouns.

I am speaking, in this title, about the collective Chelsea persona — our supporters, our friends, our partners, our workout buddies.

My Chelsea amazes me.

She is kind, supportive, energetic and always looking for new recipes.

She is there when I am up, down, and in between.

She is the quintessential perfect example of how to love someone who is on the journey I’m on.

BUT WAIT: THERE’S MORE.

Chelsea, who has always been in pretty good shape and who has a body most envy, is not just encouraging me to make changes. She’s making them too.

She considers the points content of her food now, and sees places for healthier substitutions and then enacts them.

She was at first quite resistant to doing Couch to 5K and was insistent that she could do it on her own. After a few weeks, she downloaded the app too. And she gets her butt out there running 3-4 times a week, whether she enjoys it or not. (She doesn’t enjoy it.)

She has begun turning down unhealthy treats at work — banana bread, cookies, etc. because she wants to learn the same type of control and conscience that I’m trying to learn, and she wants to use that conscience whether or not I’m around.

For many people, it takes poor health or a horrifying photo or a shameful realization to begin a wellness journey.

My Chelsea (and maybe your Chelsea, too) just wants to be better. Not necessarily just skinnier or anything like that — she wants to be better.

And she’s working on it.

And I’m so, so proud of her.