Monday Aspirations

While I’d like to say nothing is ever “all or nothing,” it’s always nice to have a proverbial clean slate on Monday, isn’t it?

033114-monday

Last week, I took a bit of a hiatus with my running. And for the last couple of weeks, I’ve also foregone my weight loss efforts. Don’t get me wrong, with marathon training hitting its peak month, it’s hard to fall completely off the wagon. But, I did skip two runs last week, and while I ate semi-healthy (as my normal diet isn’t so bad), I definitely let myself add in a lot of extra treats. Like brownies and pizza and wino happy hour.

Even though I know the “Oh, well I just ran 6 miles” excuse to eat crap IS crap, I still find myself turning to it. Bah.

So, I made up my mind last night that it was back to the 6am wake-up calls this week, no excuses: Get up early, do pilates, make coffee, pack my HEALTHY lunch, and start the day off on the right track. It’s been a good morning around here already!

We’re checking things off the wedding to-do list and it’s starting to loom into the territory of…REAL. There are only two months until I have to take my dress in for alterations. I’d like to be at my “ideal” weight by then so that (a) the dress fits right on my wedding day—not too big or too tight; and (b) then I only have to maintain!

Here’s to Monday—a fresh start, and a good week. Cheers!

– – –

What’s your goal this week?
How do you like to start your week (or day) on the right foot?

Now that it’s not pitch black all morning, I love taking 10-15 minutes to enjoy my coffee while I watch the sun rise over the lake. Okay, I can’t quite see the lake, but I still see those spectacular colors…and they are something to marvel at. 🙂

The D-Word: Weigh In, Weeks 3 & 4

I may have missed my weigh-in update last week, and admittedly, I wasn’t 100% on track with my healthier eating. Despite that, I still managed some small success!

weekly weigh in 3 and 4

Week 3 Weigh-In: 
Starting weight: 163 lbs.
Last week’s weight: 158.4 lbs.
This week’s weight: 158.2  (-0.2 lbs.)

Week 4 Weigh-In: 
Starting weight: 163 lbs.
Last week’s weight: 158.2 lbs.
This week’s weight: 157  (-1.2 lbs.)

I am officially down 6 pounds in 4 weeks. Woohoo!

Week 3 started out well enough, but the latter part of the week was when work picked up. I skipped breakfast a lot of mornings; I just didn’t have time to eat once I got to work, like I normally do. Not good for your metabolism! I also went running out the door every morning without packing a real lunch, so most days meant a take-out lunch. I made fairly healthy choices, but I still found it difficult to stay under my calorie max when I wasn’t making my own food. On the plus side, I did pack myself healthy snacks (fruit, nuts, granola bars) to munch on during the day.

Week 4 was better; things were cah-razy, but the weekend & start of this week have been pretty good so far. Matt and I didn’t go out to eat a ton over the weekend, nor did I have many drinks. Plus, I’m sure running 7 miles on Saturday morning, followed by 3 hours of bowling, helped torch some extra calories!

I didn’t take many pictures of my eats lately, since none of them were that exciting and I only cooked half (if even) of my meals. Here were a couple highlights:

lean meatballs, spaghetti squash and green beans

Homemade meatballs, Italian seasoned spaghetti squash, and green beans. I made the meatballs with 95% lean beef, chopped onion, mushrooms and french onion soup mix, and popped them in the oven to bake. So tasty! Next time I’m going to add an egg to help them stay together and add a little moisture, but Matt and I were both fans of this simple recipe.

chicken spring salad

Take-out spring salad with feta, cranberries, red onion, grilled chicken and white balsamic dressing. These flavors are sooo delicious together, and definitely “springlike.” The salad wasn’t super filling though, so I rounded it out with a handful of almonds.

chocolate, banana and peanut butter smoothie

Choco-peanut-banana smoothie. My Magic Bullet is making a comeback. I threw a large banana in the freezer (TIP: peel it first…); then blended it frozen with 1 tbsp. peanut butter, some cocoa powder, 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk and a couple ice cubes. It was a good dessert, almost like a milkshake! You could totally add some protein powder or greek yogurt to make this even better for you.

Another smoothie combo I liked for breakfast on-the-go was a blend of: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (or 6 oz. vanilla greek yogurt), and 1/2 cup frozen strawberries.

I’m not sure my next check-in on my diet will be fabulous, since it will be after my sister run-cation this weekend, but we’ll see… Maybe running 13.1 miles will help. 😉

– – –

Do you have any go-to smoothie recipes? 
Favorite “healthy” take-out lunch? 

The D-Word: Weigh-In #2

Two weeks down & good news to share!

021114-weigh-in

Week 2 Weigh-In:
Starting weight: 163 lbs.
Last week’s weight: 161.4 lbs.
This week’s weight: 158.4  (-3 lbs.)

Holy moly, three pounds! I was pretty surprised when I saw that number. I did well on my diet & exercise most of last week, and didn’t cheat as much over the weekend, so I figured I’d lose 1.5 pounds as planned…but I was stoked to see 3!

I’m sure that won’t happen every week (and it probably wouldn’t be too healthy if it did) so I’ll take it for now. 😉

I added in more strength work this work, so I wonder if the extra muscle building is upping my metabolism? I guess I better keep it up!

Obstacles this past week:
• Being car-less made getting to the gym tricky, but instead of skipping a workout, I made my at-home circuit workout to do one night instead.
• My sweet tooth. I didn’t really indulge, minus a cupcake on Saturday night, but my sweet tooth is starting to nudge at me for chocolate. I’m going to try to find a “healthy” version of a dessert or snack so I can satisfy it this week. Any ideas?? Maybe these?
• Fatigue. I’ve been more tired this past week, because I’ve gotten into a habit of going to bed later over the last couple weeks. It’s starting to catch up with me! I need to be better at making sure I get enough shut-eye.

Achievements of the week:
• I tempered my inner-wino! 😉 Only had a few glasses of wine over the weekend, and none during the week. The easiest way to cut back on empty calories is to cut back on the booze.
• I stayed positive and ran a relatively enjoyable 10-mile run on Saturday.
• I went out for sushi one night, but chose healthier options: Edamame pods as an appetizer, over our usual fried dumplings; and tuna & salmon nigri sushi instead of spicy/tempura/other less-than-healthy rolls.

dreamy sushi

dreamy sushi

Some other yummy eats from the week:

minestrone + added spinach

Minestrone + added spinach. Easy to make, tasty & easy to transport to work for a couple lunches.
turkey wrap with veggies

Turkey wrap on low-cal, high fiber wrap with lots of veggies and hummus. Yum!

blueberry, goat cheese and sunflower seeds saladThe best salad combo ever! Romaine, blueberries, goat cheese crumbles and sunflower seeds. Topped with balsamic vinaigrette.

sloppy joe and almonds“Skinny” sloppy joe, and sour cream & onion almonds from NatureBox. Mmm! I am working through this sloppy joe recipe to share with you all in the next couple of weeks, hopefully.

– – –

Any suggestions on “healthy” sweet treats? 
What are your favorite transportable meals to take to work?

The D-Word: Weigh-In #1

weekly weight in, week 1

Okay, one week down since I started my d-word last week….

Week 1 Weigh-In:
Starting weight: 163 lbs.
Last week’s weight: 163 lbs.
This week’s weight: 161.4 lbs. (-1.6 lbs.)

Yay! My number on the scale is movin’ down, right on track.

– – –

I did a lot of things to set myself up for success this past week.

First of all, I knew my workout game plan for the week. Every day, I knew whether I was going to the gym or not—no hemming and hawing. I could also plan those burned calories in my daily caloric intake, which I tracked with the Livestrong MyPlate app. It was easy to eat enough to ensure I was being healthy and would have energy to run, but also cutting enough to lose weight.

Secondly, on Sunday, I did some meal planning & prep for the week’s lunches and dinners. This included my Healthy & Hearty Turkey Chili, which I cooked and then ate for lunch or dinner several days. I also wanted to have a couple salads, so I bought all the fixings & chopped them up so they’d be at arm’s reach.

Thirdly, I packed my breakfast and lunch most days for work. When I got hungry, I had healthy snacks to grab. Come lunch time, when I slowed down enough to realize how hungry I was, I had something healthy to heat up quick. No running out to grab something to-go that’s less-than-good for me.

And here’s a random sampling of eats from the week!

Breakfasts:
Whole wheat toast with Justin's maple almond butter
• A piece of whole-wheat toast with Justin’s maple almond butter. Omg, forgot how delicious the maple almond butter is! I need to get more.
• Kind brand oats & honey chewy bar + a sliced apple to munch on later in the AM.
healthy breakfast: whole wheat toast and a fried egg
• A few extra minutes one morning: An over-medium fried egg on a piece of whole-wheat toast.

Lunches:
turkey chili and crackers
• Most days, I brought in my turkey chili + a serving of Wheat Thins crackers.
• After several chili meals, I changed it up but kept it quick & easy with a Kashi frozen meal from my freezer.
• One day, I went to lunch with some co-workers to Qdoba, where I got a Naked Taco Salad (lettuce, beans, corn salsa & pico de gallo) with grilled chicken. So tasty, and actually pretty good for you (just leave off the sour cream & cheese).

Snacks:
• Fruit—sliced apple, banana, mandarin oranges.
kind nut bar
• Kind brand nut bars. I love that these are non-GMO, made of ‘real’ stuff you can see, and tasty to boot!
• Dried fruit (peaches & pineapple) from NatureBox

Dinners:
salad and cottage cheese
• Salad with veggies, hard boiled egg & ham + 2% cottage cheese
• Turkey chili + 2% cottage cheese
• Mostaccioli with homemade meat sauce (a small portion, Friday’s pre-long run dinner)

Indulgences:
I don’t want to deprive myself of all indulgences, so I tried to balance them when I could. If I had an especially long workout (like Thursday’s 5-miler) and burned a lot of calories, I let myself have a treat as long as it still fit into my daily intake.That said, I totally splurged too much over the weekend!

• Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. These sat on my counter for four days before I ate any! I had three of them on Friday night since I knew I was running so many miles Saturday morning. 😉
• Buffalo Chicken Pizza – definitely not healthy, but it was a yummy Saturday lunch after my 9-mile torture run, so I didn’t care. Balance!
• Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake, made by my friend Liz, for dessert Saturday night. Ridiculously indulgent and made my taste buds sing.
• A Hoegaarden beer (Friday night happy hour) + glass of wine; two cocktails Saturday night; a couple glasses of wine during SuperBowl Sunday

Overall, week one wasn’t so bad. When you plan ahead, it makes it much easier to eat healthy and stay on track. I think my biggest challenge is the weekends. I want to have some drinks, or go out to eat, and it’s tough to do any of that while being on a diet. I know I can afford some less healthier choices sometimes, so if I can keep that to only a handful of times on the weekend (not every meal…), I think it will all balance out just fine!

Healthy & Hearty Turkey Chili

Let’s sum up this day in two words: Chilly. Chili.

The polar vortex is back, but this time I’m arming myself with a warm, hearty chili!

Healthy and Hearty Turkey Chili

This lightened-up turkey chili recipe is super easy and quick to make, and will only cost you 200 calories per cup—yes, really! It’s delicious, and of course, good for you, too: With the mix of lean protein from the ground turkey, and fiber from all the beans and veggies, you’re stomach won’t be growling for hours. It’s the perfect bowl of comfort food on a cold night—whether you’re watching what you eat or not.

Healthy & Hearty Turkey Chili
Makes 10 cups
Per cup: 200 calories / 25g carbs / 4g fat / 16g protein

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 15oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 4oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 15oz. can chili beans
  • 1 15oz. can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 packet chili seasoning (we use McCormick Original Chili)
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika (optional)
  • ½ tsp. oregano (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a soup pot over medium heat, sauté onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery for 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground turkey; cook until crumbled and no longer pink.
  3. Stir in diced and crushed tomatoes, mushrooms, chili beans, and kidney beans. Bring to a boil.
  4. Stir in packet to chili seasoning. For a little extra heat and flavor, add in cayenne pepper, smoked paprika and oregano.
  5. Reduce chili to a simmer, leaving the lid off to boil away excess liquid.
  6. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes to meld flavors.
  7. Serve & enjoy!

healthy recipes - turkey chili - low calorie, low fat, high protein

Psst… Don’t let the toppings get the best of you:

healthy chili toppings: plain greek yogurt, low fat shredded cheese, green onion

Switch out the usual suspects with some healthier options, like a dollop of plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream (you won’t notice the difference), low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, hot sauce, or chopped green onion for some extra flavor.

– – –

What are your go-to comfort foods? 
What other kinds of healthy recipes would you like to see?

The D-Word

I won’t say it—you know what it is. That D-Word. It has such a negative connotation, and seems like some extreme, special circumstance of restriction.

The truth is, a “diet” is really just “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” [–> legit dictionary source]

As a runner and lover of food, my goal is to habitually eat a balanced but super delicious diet. Think: Fruits and vegetables, grains, leaner proteins, complex carbs, and, of course, the occasional treat. {Because who wants to deprive themselves of chocolate and wine all the time? Not this chic.} Honestly, I think I do a decent job of consuming a healthy diet 70% of the time, but it’s that other 30% of the time that I need to work on.

Do I want to lose weight? Sure. Yes. Realistically, I’ve always been one to see the number on the scale go up and down {and up and down}; but over the last couple of years, it’s kind of been on a slow climb upwards… To the tune of 20 pounds. My clothes don’t seem to fit the same. I used to love shopping, but now I go pretty infrequently. {Admittedly, great for the bank account!}

What’s bothered me the most, though, is that I think the extra weight gain has taken its toll on my running. Imagine carrying around a 20-pound backpack on your next long run. No wonder over the last two years {and many, many miles on foot} I’ve struggled with injured knees, tight hips, an achy lower back…and I’ve slowed down a lot, too. I have a good feeling it’s all related.

The Goal
My wedding day is 7 months away {!!!}. If there were ever a time to feel your healthiest, most beautiful, glowing self—I’d say that’s the day. So instead of crash dieting or something stupid, I’m doing this the right way: I am starting now, at the softish weight of 163 pounds, and aiming to lose 1 to 1.5 pounds a week, until I’ve reached a goal weight of 140 pounds.

But most importantly, I’m aiming to reach a goal to feel happy, confident, and good about myself on one of the most important days of my life. After all, if I’m giving myself to my future husband, don’t I want to give him the very best {and healthiest} version of me? I mean, he’ll be stuck with me for a very long time. Even longer, if I’m in such great health. 😉

The Plan
Like I said above, eating a healthy diet is key! That, combined with working out 4-5 days a week, will help me cut down on the flab.

In the past, I’ve found that using LiveStrong.com’s MyPlate is the best way for me to calculate how many calories I should be eating to lose weight, and track what I’m taking in. You can set up your personal account on their website to track your diet on. They also have an iPad and mobile app, so it’s super easy to keep tabs on food and drinks, no matter where you are.

A smart bonus, you can also track your fitness—so if I run 5 miles, it adds back the calories I’m burning. It may seem counter-intuitive to you—if you’re working out to burn calories, why would you eat them back up? Well, if you eat too little, your metabolism slows down, and your body holds on to whatever it can get… Not only won’t you lose weight, but you could gain. Keeping your body fueled {think of it like a machine!} is the best way to keep it revved up and burning fat. Plus, by not limiting your food intake so severely, you cut back on cravings, feelings of deprivation, and general sanity, in my book. 🙂

What You’ll See
Don’t worry, I won’t be a psycho and talk weight loss all the time!

I hope that when I do post about the trials & tribulations of losing weight, you find it inspiring and motivating. I plan to do a weekly weigh-in, to help keep myself accountable.

On a more exciting note, I want to create and share more recipes with you: Healthy dishes that are also delicious {and probably pretty easy to prepare}. If I can get my future hubs to approve them—the king of good ol’ steak and potatoes himself—you know they’ll be good.

And duh, you’ll see some yummy-looking desserts and a glass of wine here & there, because let’s be honest—life’s too short not to wine a bit!

– – –

Words of advice on losing weight a healthy way?
Any favorite healthy recipes you love?
Have a favorite meal you’d like to see me “make over” into a healthier version?

I’m no expert, though health and fitness has always been an interest and passion of mine. This is just what works for me!

Saturday Morning Tidbits

My usual Saturday morning long run was thwarted by all-night-long freezing rain = icy roads this morning. Sunday morning long run, anyone?

011114-rainy-weather

Water, water everywhere. And yes, our Christmas lights are still up. heh

So, instead of running talk this morning, I thought I’d share some random loveliness with you… Enjoy the musings and pandora’s box that is my brain!

» I usually read every night before bed. I’m a bookworm and I’ll read anything. I’ve been eating up pieces of Bart Yasso’s “My Life on the Run” and it’s a fun, adventurous read.

Bart is my fave!

I love Bart {I’ve gotten to meet him twice now}, he’s the best! But, I haven’t found a really good book to get lost in. Any suggestions?

» I heart Van Morrison Pandora lately. I am an old soul at heart. This reminds me, I’m due to make a new workout playlist…suggestions there, too?

» I said in my goals post that I want to lose weight before my wedding day {August 30th}. I haven’t buckled down too tight yet, but by simply getting back to working out a few times this week & making better food choices {and drinking less vino}, I’m down a pound as of this morning. Woohoo! Sometimes, small changes = big difference.

» My friend, June, signed up for the Green Bay Marathon. So excited for her first marathon, and to have a buddy to run it with. My friend, Liz, (who also ran Chicago) will be joining us, too!

» I love this post Runner’s World tweeted yesterday: Seven Habits of Highly Effective Runners and Eaters. Every one of these habits is something I’ve worked on developing over the last year or two, and it really does make all the difference in the world:

1. Have a support network. My running club. My family. This blog! You guys are the best.

2. Set goals. See: Chicago Marathon in 2013, Green Bay Marathon to come in 2014.

Three sisters = Three marathon runners.

2013 Goal: Run the Chicago Marathon!

3. Keep track of workouts/food. I heart my Garmin & its online tracking; I can see all my workouts on a calendar and exactly what I did. I also like to use Livestrong’s DailyPlate for meal tracking if I’m trying to lose weight.

4. Plan ahead. I love to make race training plans {like…in a strangely obsessive way} and break that down into weekly workout plans. I also try to think ahead so I can bring healthy snacks and meals to work each day.

5. Have reasonable expectations. Instead of thinking, “I have to work out every day,” I know I am busy and will be happy with 4-5 workouts a week. And even though I want to lose weight, I know I won’t drop it quick—planning to lose just 1 pound a week will keep me sane and won’t make me feel deprived.

6. Stay consistent. I try to follow my workout plans & stick to healthy eating most of the time. It’s easier to stay consistent than constantly try to “get back” to consistent.

7. See the value. That’s easy. I’ve never been happier or felt better!

Would I add any habits to that list? You bet: Get enough sleep. Stay positive. Work hard, but keep it fun. I try to follow these rules in my every day life, and so far, so good. 😉

– – –

What are your “highly effective” habits that make you a better or happier person? 

Book suggestions?

Song suggestions?