Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 a runner's year in review

Here we are again! At the end of another year of running and just 2 months shy of my 3rd year runnaversary!! WOW. Time is flying.

Here's a list of goals I made for myself from last year and  how I fared:  

1.  Run 1012 miles. I was going to shoot for 1000 but figured I'd throw in the extra 12 for good measure. This year I think I'll come in just shy of 850 - so it's not an impossible goal to shoot for but still challenging. FAIL. Though, truthfully I am not disappointed. I feel pretty satisfied that I did the best I could - I ran more than 10 races this year - had a few PR's, tried new fitness things like boot camp, Zumba and yoga. Total Miles were 721 - I'll get 'em next year!

2.  Run a sub 2:20 half marathon.  Last year I ran a 2:24 - so shaving another 4 minutes off - will be challenging but not impossible. SUCCESS! My best was the Hollywood Half which was 2:19:58! LOL, so it was that close.

3.  Run another marathon.  I will aim for around 5 hours but am flexible when it comes to time. I am still in the 'just finish' zone of such a goal. NOPE - but again I'm OK with it. It wasn't my year to train for it and I think I would've resented the super long miles it would take to get another one under my belt. It'll happen.

4.  Continue this blog. SUCCESS! Here it is!

5.  Run a sub 28:30 5K.  My last 5K I ran in 28:48 so if I focus and work hard, I should be able to achieve it. SUCCESS! How does 26:46 grab ya!? Read about it here.

6.  Continue to maintain my weight loss. SUCESS! Just celebrated my 2 years firmly at goal!

7.  Remember to be thankful.  For family, friends, running, love, this blog, I am incredibly blessed. YES, of-course, there's not a day that goes by that I don't count myself incredibly blessed.

8.  Remember to ENJOY it.  At the end of the day - goals for speed, miles and marathons are great but the most important part is to embrace it. This isn't a chore, this is a privilege. If it becomes a chore then it's time to reassess - don't let anything steal the joy away. (But don't be too quick to give up either!) Yep. For the most part. I started running with Moms In Motion and began running with a few friends. It's been a lovely year in the running books even though I had some set-backs and fell (OK, very) short of the mileage goal - it's all good. I run because I love it. It keeps me healthy and happy and whether it's 70 miles, 700 miles or 7000 miles, I am grateful for every single step.

And what other goodies happened for me?

I turned 40, I got to travel all over the place, I met/made a bunch new endurance friends, I was on The Today Show, featured in Health Magazine, interviewed for NPR Radio and Cook, Train, Race, Eat TV and I was invited to run on a Ragnar Relay team - that race will kick off my  2013 race season and I'll be leaving in just 2 short days - and we'll be filming it for a documentary! 

2012 has been a pretty good year personally and professionally and I believe it's paved the way to make 2013 the best year yet to come!

I am still not sure about my goals for 2013 but will be thinking about it and will be listing them soon.

What was some of your 2012 highlights? What are you hoping for in the new year ahead?


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Being worth it

I hope that you had a wonderful holiday and got/gave some really great stuff! 

My husband prides himself on giving really great gifts. He takes great thought and care and it's one of the many things I appreciate about him. When it comes to gifts, he never just "dials it in."

This year was no different.

So, come Christmas morning, my husband handed me my gift, beaming. And I tore into two packages.

The first was a framed picture of us crossing the finish line of his second half marathon (my sixth of the year) together. I loved it:

Marty & Jen crossing AC half marathon finish line

The second gift. Oh my. I opened the heavy box to reveal a top of the line, brand-new MacBook Pro 15 inch computer.  Um I couldn't hide it. My reaction wasn't one of joy. It was one of, "Why did you buy this? It's way too expensive. We need to take it back." My husband was visibly upset - this wasn't the reaction he'd hoped for.

Now, I need a new laptop. My livelihood lies in having a computer, I am co-owner in a television/film company, I blog, I travel, I will be editing a movie on it and stringing out a television pilot (we just sold a show to DIY network!!)… I was working on a 7 year-old Mac laptop that couldn't even hold a charge anymore. It doesn't have the capability to edit and it's been hanging on by a thread, on the edge of death, for the last six months.

So, hubby really thought this through. It was a gift I needed and should've appreciated.

My argument was, I could get a cheaper one, a second-hand one. My company is finally beginning to generate a little cash flow and my partner and I discussed finding one for me (perhaps second hand but in excellent condition) and having it be my "business" computer. 

Who was I to have this $2000 gift!? Ridiculous. I truly did appreciate the generous thought. I hugged hubby tightly and said, "Sweetie, I'm sorry I can't keep this - but it was very, very thoughtful and I love that you wanted to do something so grand for me. But really, something less expensive will do."

My husband sighed disappointedly. And said: "I know you could've gotten a cheaper one through your company. I know that I could've bought you a less expensive version. I got this for you because you deserve it. You work hard, you will need something of quality to edit on. I saved for months for this for you because I KNEW you would never, ever buy something like this for yourself. You are doing big things, and I believe in you. You are worth a very expensive computer."

And then it hit me. My initial reaction was deep-down based on the fact that I didn't feel worthy of such an expensive thing. And that was the kind of thinking that led me to being overweight my whole life.

Successful people do not question their worthiness of such things. In fact they expect them. Now (even though I'm not a fan of his) would a Donald Trump (or any other top business guy) ever say, "I don't deserve the best." Nope. 

Cheap food, bottom of the barrel gym membership, second rate sneakers, whatever and everything - needn't be great because OK or good (or even in the case of my food) bad - was good enough. Once I started caring about myself, I decided that I was "worth" shopping at Whole Foods for once in a while and I was worth investing the money in a good pair of sneakers and even springing for a boot camp class or yoga groupon once in a while.

Since beginning this blog, so many people who are struggling with weight have reached out to me. And I keep seeing one common thread. Most are struggling to love themselves. Now many wouldn't admit it out loud but I can read it in their words, hear it in their voice. They feel like they've let their family, the world, themselves down. They feel embarrassed, ashamed, helpless, useless, weak, powerless and less than… not deserving. I believe this is the real root problem for many of us.

All emotions I once felt at 255. And my biggest advice to most of these people who reach out to me is to seriously work on stopping the self-loathing, work on getting rid of all those negative emotions and to start loving and honoring yourself. In order to make the good decisions and carve the time, money, effort and energy it takes to make change, you have to believe in your heart that you are worth working, fighting and living for. 

And I often had to fake it 'til I could make it. 

It took years and I still struggle with feeling worthy of stuff - whether it's a small expense, taking time for myself or a big expense. I often will still think, "I would love that coconut water but whoooa $1.79 for that little thing!? Who am I? I can drink tap water…" "I can't run another marathon, that requires so much time! Who am I to be so selfish with hours on a Saturday to run?" "A $2000 computer? I don't deserve that. No way."

That computer represented the small part of me that still sometimes feels unworthy of great things. Great things that possibly include good health and success.  

I kept the computer. 

Marty was right, I'm worth it.


Question to you: Can you relate? Do you ever feel guilty or unworthy of time away or a good pair of sneakers or anything else? 

PS: Worthy of something doesn't mean putting yourself in debt! If we couldn't really afford this - it would've gone back. While money is still tight - Hubby saved and planned for this expense and it's a true investment into my business. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Two years at my goal weight

This week marks my being at my WW goal for TWO YEARS!

I'm doing a happy dance!

I can't believe it. It's no fluke. I lost the weight and I'm keeping it off. This makes me proud and I'm so grateful that I've been managing this. It's something that I always dreamed of being able to do and even though this has all become a "way of life" for me, the significance in this achievement is profoundly important to me.

And I'm happy because my weight is back in control to around 145.2 (It was up to 150 a month or so ago. 150 is my goal but i like to stick around 144/145).

I've always been a yo-yo person… I was either piling on massive amounts of weight or peeling it off. It's how I've lived my entire adult life prior. Not on purpose, of course. I just never could get it right. I was missing pieces of the puzzle in prior attempts.

Of-course a huge piece of that puzzle was consistent exercise and more specifically in my case, running.

And another piece of the puzzle was eating primarily junky-foods. And when I say junky-foods I'm not even talking about the usual suspects of fast food, ice cream or chips. No. I'm talking about the junky foods that I thought "were good for me." All through my prior dieting life I lived on highly-processed foods that used words like "diet," "low-fat" "fat-free." I would count the calories in instant mashed potatoes, 100 calorie packs, frozen low-cal meals, fat-free pudding, fat free chips, 0-calorie butter spray, artificial sweeteners, "sandwich thins," etc… I lived on packaged, processed junk and I thought I was being a healthy person by doing so. I truly think that what has made the difference in maintaining my loss this time around is eliminating almost all of that. I really enjoy eating more clean and much less processed.

And I'm not judging. If you rely on a frozen meal here and there or eat sandwich thins, that's fine. I just almost exclusively used those products. Personally, for me, I'm more satisfied and less hungry by eating whole foods and healthy fats.

Huh. Healthy eating and exercise works. Who knew?  ;)

I am happier, I feel better, and I'm more satiated. I strive to eat clean now-a-days though I am not always perfect. I will still eat chips on occasion, I will still have a little ice-cream, I love my martini's and Greek food Saturday nights… but I have been able to balance things better overall.

On a side note, lately many people have asked me about the difference between Spark People and WW since I talk about both programs a lot. I have been counting calories at Spark. My WW meeting was an anchor for me when I was losing because I loved the people in my particular meeting. I had a connection to my leader. I am social so I liked looking forward to going to my meeting on Sat. morning. It's kind of why I love my Moms In Motion group so much. I continue to weigh-in at Weight Watchers because it's free for lifetime members and knowing I've got that monthly meeting with the "official" scale has been working for me, so why now?

Spark People, though, is GREAT too. It's FREE for everyone which is the biggest plus over Weight Watchers - it has a tremendous social aspect to it and amazing resources. I kind of consider it the "Facebook" of nutrition because you get all this great nutrition/activity information but you can blog, post pictures, join groups, take challenges, send each other motivational stuff and make friends like FB. I was a Spark member as I did Weight Watchers - there are even Weight Watcher community groups on Spark. To me, it's all about support and surrounding yourself with the right people. So wherever you find those folks, is what matters the most.

I am happy, lucky and blessed. I'll never stop marveling on my good fortune of finding running and along the way, finding my way to this finish line.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Miami Ragnar - I am freaking out

All these months in the making.

The race. The movie. One of the biggest events of my life.

All about two weeks away.

I. Am. Freaking. The. F***. Out.

I've been so focused on making the documentary part of this journey that I have forgotten my own "running" part of this journey. My three legs are: 4.2 miles, 9.9 miles and 4.1 miles.

9.9 miles. In the middle of the night. Who thought this was a good idea?

I can't tell you the panic that is trying to set in. I'm trying to maintain a sense of "WOO HOO - this is an adventure!"

But I haven't ran more than 4 miles since early October, I'm deathly slightly afraid of the dark, and I'm already imagining being chased by pumas, evading alligators and trying to escape boa constrictors  (and any other scary animals I can image live in Southern Fl.)

The thing is I'm very lame when it comes to wild life. Even running around my suburban neighborhood, I've been known to have my heart skip a beat by a pigeon who has swooped in a little too close, I'll cross the street if a squirrel looks a little mean. A dog off a leash (even a little one?) Stopped in my tracks. Yeah. I know. I'm nuts. So you can just imagine how I'm feeling about this crazy midnight run thru what I can only envision as a rain forest but probably will be more of a road/running path.

make no sudden moves and no one gets hurt

Perhaps the fear of the dark and animals will make me run faster?


I've been dealing with a chest cold that finally took hold of me last Friday. I'm pretty sure my immune system gave up fighting once I heard the Sandy Hook news. I slumped into a depression and numbness for most of the weekend and submitted to the illness. I just couldn't deal with that news.

But I'm starting to feel a wee bit better, even if I still have a cough in my chest and a heaviness in my heart, so, I did an "easy" four miles today.

But there was nothing easy about the four miles I did at a 11:30 avg. pace. It was tough. I coughed and panted. I thought about doing 5 or 6 but decided that not over-doing it would be better than the mental "see I can do 6 so I can do 9" game that I like to play, for right now. I'm hoping that the five half marathons I did in 2012 will be enough of a 'base' background training that though I haven't clocked many miles lately, those miles will somehow count.

My plan for last minute training is to do another 3 or 4 by Friday and then 6 over the weekend.

Next week, I'd like to do a 4-4-8 type thing.

And then a few miles the week of the race.  I think I'll be OK. I mean, it's gotta be OK. I'm not going to give up or let my team down, so I've got no choice but to suck it up and be great.

That's my plan for the miles. As far as the alligators? I've got nothing yet.


Friday, December 14, 2012

The way I stay healthy on the road

I do a lot of traveling.

Before getting healthy, my traveling was an excuse to eat more and exercise even less. MMM. Traveling meant fast food, room service, indulgent dinners, drinking too much and Cinnabon for the plane. I pulled all kinds of food crap that I would never pull at home. Inevitably, vacation mode would kick into high gear the minute I stepped foot in lovely Newark airport, suitcase in hand.

This is not a good plan if you are trying to lose or maintain your weight. Especially if, like me, you travel often.

This year I was on the road no less than 50 days! I visited California 4 times? (maybe more), Kentucky twice, Maine, CT, Florida, Oklahoma, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, hell I even spent a night in NYC when we were making Linda over for her Huffington Post piece! Whether traveling a lot or a little - traveling does not mean you should or have to undo all of your healthy living.

Sure, being on the road makes things a little tougher. I still battle that "woo hoo, I'm on vacation thing." I also tend to really miss my family so comforting myself with food can be a temptation.

But, with all that practice with traveling, I have come up with a few ways that I keep on a track. I am proud to say that despite all of the traveling I did this past year, I'm just about upon my two year anniversary firmly at my weight loss goal!

So here are a few tips I do when I travel:

1. BYOF. Bring your own food. Yeah. It's a bit of a pain and takes a little planning. I don't necessarily pack a suitcase full of stuff but I have at least enough things in my bag to carry me through my flight. In my bag I'll have an apple, banana, pistachios, and something like a gluten-free snack bar. I might also have a packet of Justin's peanut butter or some baby carrots.

2. Grocery shopping. If you can, try to call your hotel ahead and see if they can book you into a room with a fridge and microwave. If you can score that, then that's great! My business partner and I will hit up a local grocery store and stock our room with essentials - water, veggies, fruits, yogurts, PB, rice cakes, frozen organic meals (I like Amy's) etc. Having stuff to eat on hand will help you to plan your day out.

hotel dinner - Amy's organic enchilada's
and salad with baby carrots

3.  Food on the run.  Sometimes it's unavoidable. You have to eat out. Well, first of all I am no saint. One meal (sometimes two!) per trip is typically a little splurgy. On my last trip to Ohio, I had a steak/potato and martini dinner! But, the rest of my meals, I do try to do the best I can with. I almost always start my day with oatmeal and fruit. Breakfast (for me) is the easiest meal to control and keep in check. It also makes me feel good and fueled for the day ahead and mentally ready to tackle the day.
Chipotle bowl
4.  Fast Food go-to's. I am not an advocate of fast food but if it's something that you're going to turn to when stuck at the airport or on the road, at least go in with a plan. I love Starbucks, for example. I like their oatmeal for breakfast in a pinch or hummus/grilled chicken and raw veggie thing for a snack or lunch. I also will go out of my way to find a Chipotle. I like their burrito bowl. I get mine with lettuce, brown rice, black beans, veggies, tomatoes and guacamole. I skip the meat, sour cream and cheese. This bowl is hearty, healthy, and gluten-dairy free. Au Bon Pan has some good options too. On a delayed layover thru Philly a few weeks ago, I was able to score some hardboiled eggs and a dairy-free/gluten free veggie soup. Paired with a giant bottle of water, I was set.
Starbucks hummus thing - I'm gluten free so
I skip the pita.
5.  Work out. Whether you take a local class, take a run around the neighborhood to check out the place or simple hit the hotel gym, make a little time to get a little sweat in. It really does make a difference. This year while on the road, I did Cross Fit in Northern CA, Barry's Boot Camp in Los Angeles, Yoga in WI, Running in MI - ME - CA - NYC - FL, Kosama in KS, Zumba in OK and hit up a gym in KY. Not only was it fun but it allowed me not to have that "out of my routine" feeling when I got home.

Working out like a celebrity in Los Angeles
So those are some of the things I do when I travel - I'm not always perfect but I do the best I can.

What are your tricks of travel?


Monday, December 10, 2012

Fat Girls

I caught this story the other day on a friend's Facebook page and then watched and read more about the story today. 

Three women went out to eat and written on the bill was the words "fat girls."

I suppose the server thought this was a good way to remember the table, you know, instead of using a system as complicated as "table 1" or "table 2."

At first glance (and even second glance) I bet many dismiss this as non-news. Or perhaps some might even (like the manager when first alerted) even snicker at the degrading description. I mean, if you watch the video you can't deny that the women, like many in America, they are indeed plus sized.

But that's all you know about them. 

How dare this guy write this on their bill and how stupid is he that he (or someone else) would so callously deliver this message to the people you degrade and the ones who by eating there, PAY YOUR BILLS.

Yes, I'm taking this personally. People who are overweight, know they are overweight. Most (and me included - when I was in that obesity boat) grapple, fret, try, fail, try again, cry, already feel some level of embarrassment,  suffer with depression over it, lose hope and pray for solutions. Losing weight isn't easy. It took me 20 years to get it right and while I live differently now there will always be a small piece of me that (even if irrational) lives with just a little bit of fear that it will someday come back. 

Even if these women feel none of those negative emotions in regards to their size, even if they are "large and in charge," no one (especially in service) should feel it is their right to use such awful descriptions of your customer.  

F you Jeff and your bullshit insensitivity. 

I did get a little choked up as I watched the video. Particularly for one of the women. I felt her pain. I remember how I felt when I was in those shoes. I remembered how I just didn't feel worthy of a lot of things… I was blessed to somehow find the strength to like myself enough to start rolling in the right direction but all-in-all I hated myself then and that's a vicious cycle. You have to find a way to like yourself enough to want to keep making the right choices and not turn to food for comfort. It's so much more complicated than just giving up a bowl of ice cream. I'm not sure how much my then fragile personality, at the time, could've coped with something like this. Now that I like myself, these words wouldn't have power other than to fire me up. I now have that back-bone and confidence to fight back, but back then, they would've just further have beaten me down.

But that's just me. 

All in all, these women look pretty strong, they were brave enough to expose the story, rather than sit in a corner and cry about it. I'm not afraid that they will crumble over the words and that's a good thing. 

We have an obesity crisis in this country. We have an over-eating, over-processed, under-moving society that has developed a comfort-stress-depression-selfsoothing approach to food. We do have to spring to action! There are ways to support and love people enough to lift them up to help them achieve  great goals and health but cruel labels are not the way. I'm sad to see that it's still OK in people's minds to reduce people to that.

If you want to learn more about the story, click here.

Maybe I'm hyper-sensitive but that's how I feel. 

What are your thoughts?


Thursday, December 6, 2012

You never know where the road may go

You never know where the road may lead.

It's funny. Never in a million years did I expect to be living the life I'm living. Running really changed my life and in ways that I could've never predicted.

Back in February of 2010, I was struggling with my weight (stalled for a long time at about half way to my weight loss goal). I had just lost a sister-in-law to diabetes, was still trying to get footing on the next chapter of my career. I went in and out of bouts of depression and was having a tough time mothering my child who was difficult and often frustrated because of some of the special needs he has.

Running led me to this blog, which in turn helped me pick up jobs in the writing world. Those writing jobs helped me to put food on the table while I continued to build my film & TV business.

Running and blogging about running led me to meeting some of my best friends in the world including running buddies and Moms In Motion.

Me, meting up with fellow blogger and dear friend Jason, Angela filming - on location 

at REV3 Portland Maine, filming Jen Small 
Running led to weight loss, good health, better mental mood, less depression, a magazine article and confidence. It's opened doors to opportunity that I would've never imagined.

When you do one positive thing in one direction, other things happen. Things fall into place without even trying. At least they have for me.

Fall races: Top left - Rik (Jerry) Katie - Rik & Katie are the ones who started the Ragnar team!
Top right - hubby and I, bottom - newest runner to the team, Carly, Jen S. and John H.
And my partner and I are making my dream film. A film that will inspire others to run, seek good health, find good friends and make their own dreams come to life. We even now have an IMDb film page now!

How did I get this lucky? All because one day back in Feb. 2010, I decided to start running.

On location with Ragnar film runner, Allison
It hasn't been easy - mainly because making a film is expensive and we've struggled to piece together enough money to be able to pull it off. Also, every week we've been traveling to film the 12 racers - MI, WI, ME, CT, CA, OK, KS, CA, NY, and today we go to Ohio. (I missed the trip to AZ for one of the racers). And finally we'll travel to the race in Miami, Fl in Jan. It's not easy to do all that traveling with little money and a family. My husband had been a rock star - he believes in me and the project. Even my son Ben takes it in stride, bigs hugs, "I love you's" and "see you in a few days, Mom!"

The traveling makes it tricky to keep up on all the running and fitness I want to fit in - but we do our best to keep it a priority -

Angela rocks the bike as I make the best out
of the hotel treadmill in Kansas City, KS
I know we are on the right road. I know that like any tough road or race that if we keep moving forward, even slowly, that we'll get to our finish line.

And as I have learned, staying on the road, putting one foot in front of another and crossing finish lines, is what its all about.

I am so grateful. It's hard to put into words. If I had woken up with a cold, or in a different mood, or if I didn't tell a bunch of people when on a whim I decided to start running… If I hadn't immediately plunked down too much cash on a race that was too big for me… who knows who I would be and where I would be.

What other gifts has running given you?


Monday, November 26, 2012

State of the union: An update on recent goals


OK, so last week I was freaking out about my weight, messy house and life in general.

I made a few goals to try to reign the crazy in and I thought I should update you (as not to let you think that I'm just making up stuff, never to follow thru.)

Here were the goals and the update is in red.

Goals for my week:
  • Super duper clean the house. I'm a happier person when things in my house gets in order. The home chaos just spills into everything else. Well, I didn't "super duper" clean, my poor son came down with a fever/strep throat so my house cleaning time was cut. I did, however, super duper clean my kitchen and bedroom which were the two rooms that needed it the most, making me feel much better.
  • Track all of my food at Spark People. Yep. Did this. Even on Thanksgiving.
  • Hydrate. My friend Angela told me about this free App "Idrated" it's kind of dumb but for some reason it is making me drink my water. It beeps at you and reminds you to drink water and gives you little rewards for getting it in. I was skeptical I'd use it but I have. So there you go.  Yep that dumb App is working for me - 7 days fully hydrated and counting!
  • 15 miles running. Close, 12 miles. I was going to run 3 yesterday but my legs felt sore after weight training and decided to take a rest day. Happy that I got a 5 miler in this week. 
  • 30 minutes of strength training (starting slow -- new goal to strength train.) Did it! 
  • Bonus: I have a groupon for a gym that does boot camp, pilates, yoga, spin and Zumba classes. The groupon is for five classes. I will try to use one this week. Maybe yoga - I thought I hated Yoga (because I'm so gawky and non-flexible) but I tried it once (remember?) and want to really give it a fair shot. I am looking to truly start to cross-train, I think it'll ultimately make me a better runner. Nope, but i blame it on limited time due to sick kid - I did buy a fantastic groupon that gave me 30 yoga/bootcamp or toning classes for only $20! And I plan on using them!  
You may or may have not seen my subsequent post about freaking out over my weight. At my WW weigh-in I came in at 151 pounds. My happy weight is 144 and I don't like to get much above 147 so that freaked me out a bit. I'm feeling a bit better with perspective on it. I think I've dipped back below 150 and will continue to mind my food and activity closer until I'm back in my comfort zone.

Hope you had a lovely holiday and your week is going well!

Have you ever bought a fitness related groupon?


Thursday, November 22, 2012

I might be a mess but I'm a thankful mess

Some of my fav. running peeps...

Even though I've been up in weight and feeling ick lately, I would be remiss if I didn't take a pause for the cause (i.e., stop bitching and moaning for ten seconds) to count all of the blessings and great things in my life, especially today on Thanksgiving day.

Despite some of my latest blog postings, I do try to live my life in a state of gratitude. I can probably list 1000 things I am actually grateful for but I will spare you and come up with just a few.

Today I am thankful for:

The peeps. Son, hubby, sister, momma and papa, best friends, Moms In Motion, you guys who read my blog, I'm lucky to have you all in my life…

The Running. My anti-depression drug, my anger management, my celebration companion, my blood sweat and tears, my "I can do anything" proof, my provider of bling, my weight controller, my bringer of more peeps, my everything, 'the journey,' my friend.

The Running Stuff. Sports bra, Nike+ App, Simple Hydration water bottle, my Garmin watch (yes it co-exists with my Nike+ App, Ignite gels, toe socks, good running songs, great (other) running blogs, Runner's World magazine, Saucony and Brooks sneakers (yes they coexist in my closet), fun races, bling, oh  this one could go on forever…

The food. (with the food issues I'm particularly thankful for) Avocados, oatmeal, brown rice pasta, beans, peanut butter (and chocolate peanut butter) Chipotle, Amy's Organics, Udi's bread, Applegate farms yogurt cheese, bananas, walnuts, dirty martini's (is that a food?)….  oh this one could go on and on forever too.

The blog. Wow. How did I get so lucky to have over 329 of you care enough to follow my journey and rantings!?

The job. I work as a health blogger and copy-write editor for a company close to home. I'm so blessed to have this position as it is flexible enough to allow me to grow my production company but keeps food on our table. This job has been crucial in allowing me to pursue my bigger dreams… which leads me to being grateful for...

The film. I'm on this awesome Ragnar team and we are making a movie! I love my partner in the film and I get to be a part of this amazing journey. How cool is that!?

The basics.  Food, shelter, clothes on my back, clean water. We often take these "basics" for granted, millions world-wide lack or fight to have the basics. Even friends in my very own New Jersey are finding themselves without because of Hurricane Sandy.

The health. Without that, ya got nothing.

Oh I'm grateful for plenty; from episodes of Kitchen Nightmares to my car making it to the gas station when it's beyond "E" -- my life is awesome and I'm really a lucky girl.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

What are you most grateful for?


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

And the freak out continues


So I'm slightly freaking out.

I did state a bunch of goals the other day that I'm working on and so far so good -- even with a kid who came down with strep and had me sequestered to the house for 2 solid days. Set back but not out of the goal game completely. Managed to clean my kitchen and bedroom (those were the two that were bumming me out the most). Got in a little run and 10 minutes of strength training.

I have been tracking at Spark People, plus have hit my personal hydration goals for four days in a row.
a little good news

So humming along and then this. awful *WW weigh-in.

Well. My 'official' WW goal weight is 150 (but my personal happy weight is 144) I've been able to pretty much maintain right around that for the better part of two years. I thought I was flirting with 147.5 or so  (thus up 3.5 / 4 pounds that I had reported) but when I went for my monthly weigh in this morning the scale snarled, 151... WHAT? The highest I've been in 2 years and 1 dangerous pound away from having to pay for attending (Lifetime members don't ever have to pay unless they are 2 pounds above goal.)

How did this happen!? Now I will say that I weighed in wearing jeans, a sweater and post an oatmeal and coffee breakfast, so perhaps (if I'm lucky) I can knock off a pound for that... but still. It's still at least 2.5 pounds more than I expected. BOO.

I've been so careful this week with everything. This seriously bummed me out - and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I'm not saying I'm going to be the worst eater ever, but it's my favorite holiday and I'm not planning on being the best either. I will run in the morning but, I'm not gonna lie to you, I'm still planning on indulging a bit (or a lot...) Oh for F$&* sake. It's so annoying.

By the way, and in other annoying news... (I counted the calories before you judge this decision) I have to tell you that I got stuck at work and needed to eat. I was starving and didn't have the food I usually have with me and got coerced into going to Taco Bell today. Now I've given up fast food 99% of the time -- not only am I striving for clean eating but with my gluten/dairy issues, there's usually nothing that will work for me.

So back to Taco Bell. I gave in to going with a co-worker based on this review I read by **a gluten-free blogger about the newish "Cantina Bowl." Her picture of the Cantina bowl was beautiful (I didn't expect it to be as fancy as hers, just kinda nice). If I was going to eat fast food, I thought it kinda looked OK and relatively healthy-ish. But here's my review: It was yucky, messy looking and skimpy.  It provided about a tsp. of guacamole, less than a 1/4th of a cup of beans and hardly any rice or pico de gallo.  I didn't put any dressing on it. I added steak to it and couldn't eat more than one piece of the meat because I found it so blech. But maybe that's just me. Serves me right for going to Taco Bell I guess. I used to LOVE that burrito supreme and nachos supreme in the day (you know, the day when I was 200+ pounds, cared less about 'clean' eating and had no clue of my gluten or dairy issues...) Sigh.

Anyway, a mess I still am but I'm hanging in the fight. I am freaked out about the scale but all I can do is work / try harder - I know T-day is gonna be a bit of a monkey wrench but it's just one long meal. I will have to deal. And no more Taco Bell.


*I am tracking on Spark People because I like the calorie counting program. But like to keep my membership active at WW since it's free to do so, as long as I continue to weigh-in once a month.
** I'm not bagging on that blogger. She has a great site and Taco Bell did set her up with a fancy tasting of the new item at an undisclosed locale… I wasn't expecting that but found the whole thing underwhelming and disappointing...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Taking control of my messy world

I apologize for the very sporadic posts of late.  My whole world feels messy lately.

My house? A mess.

My food choices? A craptastic mess.

Even my email needs to be cleaned out.

This mess has led me to feeling a bit out of control in many areas of my life, weight included.

It's not without good excuse. I've been traveling and working my tail off and my time management skills have been sucking an egg.

But still. I hate this feeling.

I got on the scale this morning and I'm up close to four pounds. It's OK. I'm staying calm and carrying on (and counting calories and trying to get my groove back.) But still. I feel those pounds. I felt like I was running a super speedy 2 miles today and the four pounds proved I wasn't terribly speedy, just carrying around more weight and thus, exerting more effort.

So this week I will un-mess myself. And get in control over some of the stuff in my life.

Goals for my week:

  • Super duper clean the house. I'm a happier person when things in my house gets in order. The home chaos just spills into everything else.
  • Track all of my food at Spark People.
  • Hydrate. My friend Angela told me about this free App "Idrated" it's kind of dumb but for some reason it is making me drink my water. It beeps at you and reminds you to drink water and gives you little rewards for getting it in. I was skeptical I'd use it but I have. So there you go.
  • 15 miles running.
  • 30 minutes of strength training (starting slow -- new goal to strength train.)
  • Bonus: I have a groupon for a gym that does boot camp, pilates, yoga, spin and Zumba classes. The groupon is for five classes. I will try to use one this week. Maybe yoga - I thought I hated Yoga (because I'm so gawky and non-flexible) but I tried it once (remember?) and want to really give it a fair shot. I am looking to truly start to cross-train, I think it'll ultimately make me a better runner.
My first not sucky yoga experience - dare I say
I actually almost liked it?
In other news, I ran a 5K last Sunday - not my fastest, not my slowest -- did Giralda Farms in Madison, NJ, placed 10th in my age group - yippee.  There was a massive hill and I wasn't even sure I was running this until the day before so I'm happy with it overall.

I'm starting to get nervous about Ragnar! With all my focus on trying to raise the money and produce the filming of it, I somehow forgot - I'm actually running this thing!! Well, hopefully my above goals will be a good kickoff to training for it. :-) It's coming quick!! 

What mess do you have to work on cleaning up?


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The results are in! Simple Hydration winner announced

I am terribly sorry about the delay in selecting and announcing the winner of Simple Hydration giveaway.

Sandy hit NJ hard and while I was one of the few lucky ones to retain power thru most of it, I was stranded in Florida and things have been a little off schedule.

But without further ado, thru Random.Org, the Random number generator, a winner has been chosen!

Congrats to Running On Candy for your win.

You're gonna love this water bottle!

Drop me an email so I can arrange the delivery.

If I don't hear from you by November 17th, I will select another winner.


Photo Credit

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Should the ING NYC marathon be cancelled because of Sandy?

I wanted to get in soooo bad. no dice

It's Tuesday October 30th and I am posting from a hotel room in Orlando, Fl. 

I got an invitation of a lifetime to go on a Disney Cruise, my whole family, paid for -- I do some health blogs for a company and they generously included me on their company trip. Of course I was thrilled. My family could never afford such a trip. 

The ship: The Disney Dream.

The dream quickly turned into a nightmare as we went to sea when Hurricane Sandy was tearing up the Caribbean and we headed into it anyway. All of our ports were cancelled and the boat faced 25 ft. swells and two solid days at sea. The pools were closed as was most of the outdoor stuff. It was cold, it was windy. But we made the best of it. And we were glad to return to port and head home. We were weary. The last night on board was as if you were sleeping on a ride that just propelled you high up into the sky and dropped you. All night long.  The trip was to last from Thursday - Sunday. We were expecting to be home in Jersey by this past Sunday night.

We soon learned that all flights home were cancelled. We were rescheduled until Wednesday (tomorrow)...  So we booked ourselves at the All-Star resort at Disney. 

Now, with the airport still closed, we were rescheduled once again for a Saturday flight. Our three night cruise has turned into a 9 day affair. And it hasn't been easy. Our five year old, who has autism is having a very tough time and is out of sorts -- we are all feeling a little frazzled and this "free" trip has become quite costly of funds we don't really have. 

Still, with all of this, I am extremely lucky and very grateful.

I have power (in this very expensive side-trip/stranded situation) I have my health, my family and safety. I have no idea what I'm going home to but I'm hoping for the best. A neighbor says that all looks Ok from their vantage point.

Other friends and family back in NJ and NYC are not so lucky. Over 100 houses in Queens burned to the ground, friends all over NJ lost their homes to devastating floods - no one I know has power and the subway system is in dissaray. All over NYC people are displaced and powerless.

QUEENS after the fire photo credit

So should the NYC marathon carry on? Sorry. But in my opinion, HELL NO.  

As a runner, I can empathize and sympathize with people's sense of loss with the event being cancelled.  I can appreciate those who say, "we're not going to let Sandy stop us!" Or "Americans are strong! We can face any adversity!" But we are still dealing with a city that is still in the dark, it's central infrastructure of the subway system disabled. It's total devastation. 

Yes, if I was lucky enough to get into this highly competitive race and train for months and months only to have it be cancelled I would be devastated, pissed and aggravated by the loss - this is my DREAM RACE - I would bemoan my "bad luck" and be as disappointed as they come - but would understand, ultimately people need to come first.

The city has an obligation to put its people in top priority, help those in need and get its city back on  their feet. With so many suffering loss right now and homeless, it just doesn't seem right to me. And PS I don't see how they can logistically pull this off. I mean with no trains or subways, and with every borough hit like it was - how people will get around and all is beyond me.  

NYC subway platform
Maybe I feel this strongly because it literally hits so close to home for me.

What do you think? 

On a way smaller level, I am disappointed that I won't be able to run the Central Park 5K dash (its finish line is the same as the marathon's) that I registered for on Saturday and I was planning to spectate the race this year.


PS: The Simple Hydration giveaway is now closed -- I will pick a winner and announce within the next few days.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Simple Hydration review and giveaway

this thing even ran Kona!

I am always struggling to figure out how to keep hydrated on my runs. I'm the type of gal that NEEDS to bring water if I'm doing anything more than 3 miles. I've tried to go 4 or 5 without and it's never good. And on long runs I need to bring coconut water (I can't do traditional sports drinks so, particularly for a half, I need to bring my own.) 

I've tried belts (they annoy the hell out of me) and ditto most handhelds (though those are slightly better than belts for me.)

Usually I just carry a disposable water bottle but I hate that that's not the greenest thing to do and I always have to carry it until I get home since I want to at least properly recycle. It's hardly ideal.

While googling "running hydration" I stumbled upon this newer product called, "Simple Hydration." And it looked like something that I actually might not hate!

Brian Hock - runner and
Simple Hydration guy
It was designed by and developed by a runner, a guy named Brian Hock -- so I knew that he knew all of the concerns us runners would have. I loved that he raised the money for his company thru KickStarter as it told me he was passionate and believed in his product.  

So I sent him a note and asked if I could try one for review. He agreed and sent one on its way.

I have to say, I LOVE this thing!

It looks like this:

See how it's thin/kinda flat and then hooked. That's the magic, people. It's designed to comfortably slip into the waist of your running shorts, race belt, pocket - even the back of your sports bra!  And it works!

Holding it in hand (which I did for much of my half) was way more comfortable than a regular hand-held or traditional water bottle. The body is narrow so it just "fits" in hand easily comfortably.

I first tried it on a long run of 8 miles with my running buddies Nicole and Kerry. They both were enthralled with it and checked it out - they gave it thumbs up too. I kept it in my race belt and forgot about it until I was thirsty. Even filled, it was pretty light and comfortable. I used it to carry my coconut water in for my Atlantic City half and it rocked: 

woulda been nice of me to not be such
 a mess for this pic but did just run 13.1
Tried to jazz it up with my medal 

It's BPA free, top-rack dishwasher safe and holds 13 oz. of liquid. It sells for $19.99 and you can order it here.

The owner of the company offers this advice for ensuring the right fit: 

1) On Waistband:
- Be sure you’re using drawstring shorts.
- Be sure that you pull the drawstring pretty snug first, then slide the bottle into your shorts. Most people naturally have an open area in the middle of their back so the bottle will slide in/out easily. The snug drawstring is what holds the bottle in place and keeps it from moving around.

2) On Race Belt:
- Make sure you pull it snug like a drawstring. Then slide the bottle into the belt. Runners have put the bottle(s) on the belt in various locations, so wherever it feels good and works.

3) In Jog Bra:
- We’ve had female runners mention that they slide the bottle into the back area of their jog bra and say it works really well.

Want to try to win one of these bad boys? Brian is offering one to a reader!


Mandatory: Be a follower of this blog - 1 entry and leave a comment on why you'd like one.
LIKE Simple Hydration on Facebook and tell them I sent you! (worth another entry)
Follow Simple Hydration on Twitter (worth another entry)
Tweet about this contest! (worth another entry)

You must leave a separate comment for each entry!

The contest will close at midnight PST on October 29th.
Winner will be announced on or about October 30th

How do you hydrate for a run? Let me know if you decide to try this product!! 


Monday, October 22, 2012

Atlantic City half race recap: Running with love on a beautiful day

Yesterday I completed half marathon #10! 

And this one was special because this was my husband Marty's second half (his first can be read about in his words here).

We headed down to Atlantic City on Saturday afternoon after Marty's sister arrived to watch our son Ben overnight for us. 

Side note - going to AC without gambling and partying is like a kid going to Disney and not going on any rides but I sucked it up and put blinders on. I was there to run.

Heading down I was in a cranky mood. I was anxious about this half. The doubt moved firmly into my brain and took me hostage. I haven't really had a great experience for the last few halfs and was beginning to wonder if this distance was for me worry. I tried to swat it away.

We checked into our hotel and headed to the Expo. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by the race director of the New Jersey Shore marathon. I told him how that was my very favorite race (and the first I ever did, so his race is very special to me) and he was soooo nice. We chatted for a while and he wound up giving me a free tech hat (I love!) and even sent me an email today saying how nice it was to meet us. 

We kicked around the expo and I was disappointed to find that most had packed up already (we got there on the late side) and no one left was selling what I needed. Was going to try salt pills because of the cramping I'd been experiencing.

Oh well.

We then wandered around trying to find something kind of safe to eat (you know me with all the tummy troubles - finding pre-race food is always a joy.) This was taking time and my shoes were beginning to give me a blister!  And this was not helping my cranky mood. We finally found the perfect spot to eat and happiness ensued. (I never learn to plan ahead -- my bad).

We ate went back to the room and was in bed by 8:30 PM  - settled in with a nice episode of Dateline and a giant bottle of water.  Living it up in AC woo hoo.

The next morning I woke up with a stomach ache of course. And was cursing mad about it. Always something. We headed from our hotel and walked about 4 blocks before I realized that I forgot my coconut water (which I drink in lieu of sports drink) We had to sprint back to get it. UGH. I was fighting a bad mood and anxiety and this stuff wasn't helping.

And then we lined up to run. The weather was perfect, the crowd electric and you know what? I was ready.  

I started to run with Marty by my side. I was to pace us. Marty likes to shoot out of the gate and it's my job to keep him under control. So I did that. 

As I started to run on this beautiful day, my bad mood started to melt away. 

And today I wasn't just running with Marty, I was running with someone else too. Today I made a conscience decision to run with Heather. Heather Boyum was a Rochester Moms In Motion member who cruelly lost her life at the hands of drunk drivers. I think of Heather often. 

I put the pink Moms In Motion bracelet on my wrist in her memory, I wanted her there. 

And she was there, mile by mile. Whenever, for one minute I had a moment of my thoughts wanting to turn negative, I had to only glance down at Heather. Heather would 'tell me' how lucky I was to be running today, the weather perfect - the sky blue, crisp and clear -- and running next to my husband and best friend.  If I feared a cramp, Heather would tell me "so what? Shake it out. You'll make it, looking good.  Get us to the finish line!" If I had a tummy ache she'd say, "So what? Poop, puke, pee whatever… you wouldn't be the first runner to have such issues, now enjoy your day! -- you GET to do this, you don't have to do this… you know how many people would want to trade places with you right now?" 

Somehow, Heather just kept reminding me over and over again to appreciate this race, this day and the joy in it all. And I did. That bracelet and thoughts of Heather (whom I never met by the way) just kept pulling me through. 

Heather was a much better running buddy than hubby by the way. He refused to take off his head phones because he needs music and no chatting. Hmmph.

I felt really good and by the last two miles was enthusiastically happy like I have never been during a race. Fittingly, during mile 12 "Beautiful Day" by U2 came on my iPod and Marty said I was loudly singing along (OOPS I thought I was just mouthing the words…!) I mean it really was. The ocean lapping the shore, the sounds and sights of the boardwalk (finish line was on the boardwalk) and all of my luckiness to be running that day. I finished super strong and smiling.  

I've got a renewed love for this distance and my fear has melted. 

So thank you Heather. I know you're an angel and you got me to the finish line and I dedicate that glorious run to you. Hope we can do it again sometime.

Marty, Heather and I did the race in 2:38 - a 12:01 pace or something? But it was perfectly fine. We stopped to pee and I had to loosen my laces so we were probably 11:55 or something. We knocked some time off our previous race time (2:51 at The Jersey Shore.)

A few things to note -

In preparation to this race I hydrated heavily for three days leading up to the race and also upped carbohydrates a little more and potassium/sodium heavy foods. (all with hopes of fighting those dreaded cramps!) 

I also took salt packets and did 2 little ones and 3 gels -- overkill? Maybe but I didn't get any cramps so I don't care. I also carried coconut water with me and drank that during the last 5 miles… the first half I drank water at the stations.

I also ran significantly slower --maintaining mostly 11:30 - 12:15 min miles and then kicked it up at the end. I was pacing Marty so I still have to experiment with what my happy avg. pace might be.  Probably as of right now 11:15 to 11:30, if I'm being honest but who knows? I have plans on committing to a real strength training program (as my MIM running coach, Dana keeps trying to prescribe us…!)  and perhaps training a little more for the next season.

Hope you had a 'beautiful day' too!