Chubby Girl in Philadelphia

Just got back late last night from Philly with mixed results. I started off strong before I left with a run up the hills of Hopkinton. The challenge then began by a combination of lack of preparation and going outside my typical travel routine.

philly

My daughter had college orientation so I traveled down with her with the intent on working in my hotel room for two days. Seemed simple enough. But, I decided to stay at the Hotel Monaco in Old City so I could get out later in the day and check out a few sites or do a running tour in the mornings. That was the downfall.

I learned this week how breakfast has become such a key success factor in my healthy living journey. The Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton, and Intercontinental hotels all have great buffets. I’m guaranteed a fast breakfast with lots of healthy options. Not so with Kimpton. You have to order up  to your room or at the restaurant. Where I am used to getting food in me within fifteen minutes and then running off to my day, the sit down experience meant that I either ordered up food that I wasn’t quite sure was fitting into my diet or I skipped breakfast altogether because I didn’t have time. Having ate my Skinny Girl bar I always have handy, the day I missed breakfast meant I didn’t eat until after 1:00p.

That starts the downward spiral of food obsession and hunger. The fact that I was still running these two days also meant that my hunger was stronger and my mind weaker. Day one I did a loop through the Old City and then headed to Penn’s Landing to run up and down the bridge stairs and outdoor theater stairs. Then headed to the hotel gym for upper body weights. Great workout, hunger inducing. The next day I stuck indoors to the treadmill as it was already 80 and humid in the morning. Then rushed back to my room to shower and hop on a call. Thus, when lunch and dinner rolled around, I was more focused on getting rid of my hangries and not thinking as much about good choices.

I had a bag of chips from the mini bar. I had a hot dog. I ate a turkey sandwich on a massive whole grain roll (only half, but still!). I had hash browns and a full chicken sausage along with a scrambled egg. I had two hunks of fresh mozzarella cheese (200 calories worth). I even stole some French fries from my daughter’s dinner on the way back to Boston. One of these choices in a week is one thing. To slide at almost every meal over two days was horrible. Yes, I had a crazy good roasted vegetable salad at a brewery. Yes, I grabbed a yogurt and red grapefruit at Temple U while waiting for my daughter at pick-up. Yes, I kept to my workout schedule. But, the scale told me all I needed to hear. Up a pound.

I know I’m paying for it in more ways than the scale. I had my go-to favorite this morning, an egg sandwich (Thomas Light Whole Grained English Muffin, Canadian bacon, fried egg, ultra thin swiss, and spinach). 250 calories of goodness. Instead, my stomach is in knots. I have not had enough plants in my diet and the heavy sandwich that normally satiates me as I go mostly vegan or vegetarian the rest of the day, feels like a rock. I’m also exhausted which is probably from poor eating too.

So, the chubby girl made her way back for a time. I now have to get back on the wagon and push the chubby girl off.

Philly Old City

What I will say is that my goal of doing a running tour was definitely worth it. I didn’t make it to the Rocky stairs this time, but it’s on my list for August when I send my little girl off to college. Instead, running through the historical parks, ducking into the alley where the Ben Franklin Museum was, and catching glimpses of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and a mock up of the original White House, along with a fun challenge at the river amphitheater, was well worth it.

Maybe not all was lost.

 

 

Let the travel begin

The next two weeks are crazy. In NYC as we speak. Heading to Philly. Off to Stockholm and Geneva next week.

I’ve been lucky to have a bit of a hiatus from travel for a month. It went a long way to putting me in control of my exercise and food. Ever sick of the ‘salad’, eating at home let me get creative with vegetables again and even find ways to create salads that I like vs. the rabbit greens you get in restaurants.  And, as much as I try, I hate kale. Why is every restaurant salad now kale!

Day one travel isn’t going quite as planned. I missed breakfast this morning after rising late and scrambling, but was easily able to curb my hunger with a coffee on the way to the airport and tea on the flight. I hit up some NYC restaurant I can’t for the life of me remember the name, but it was on Avenue of the Americas down from the Hilton. Ahi Tuna tar tar and a big ole plate of grilled asparagus hit the spot. I crunched down on a Lemon Skinny Girl bar and another coffee during a conference presentation. Then I promptly lost lunch and snack on the cab ride to the airport due to the worst driving I ever experienced causing me the worst car sickness you can imagine.  So, completely not a bulimic moment, but man it was gross. Thank god for the bag holding my heels (heels removed).

I found this great dumpling restaurant in the airport and had Asian chicken lettuce cups and Edamame dumplings. It was so yummy and made me immediately forget my cab ride over. The only downside is that since 7:30p (it’s now 9:00p) the fire alarm in Terminal C has gone off 4 times. It’s hilarious how all the travelers look up, groan, and don’t even consider getting up to exit. Me included. So far all is well. Probably the crazy storms messing with the system.

I’ve got minimal time to get home tonight and pack for three days in Philly. I should have done this ahead but again, planning wasn’t in my cards. I think I’m secretly hating having to travel. The biggest thing is to make sure I bring my running gear and Bluetooth headphones. I may have to do a Rocky impression in the City of Brotherly Love. Or, I could jog around Temple University and use their stadium stairs for conditioning; although the real fun would be to do it because I’m going there to get my daughter to her college orientation and I could be the embarrassing parent.  No, I won’t do it, but thinking about it makes me giggle.

Anyway, for the day, I’m not doing that bad. Calories are in check. I hit my standing goal (12 hrs), exercise goal (over 30 minutes), and steps goal (over 10K) on my watch. I’m 100 calories shy on my move goal (400) but maybe after this I’ll get up and walk around the terminal. I’ve got almost 2 hours to kill still after my first flight was canceled and my current flight is delayed an hour. They will kick my out of the lounge in 45 minutes too.

Status

CW – 125.5
Achievement – out of the overweight BMI! Average run 3-5 miles.
Current trouble – I have almost no client presentable work clothes that fit. Down to four dresses I luckily kept from years ago.
Current luck – Old pants that are 2s and 4s in a saved bin fit! Just wish they were light enough for summer.
Working on – 10 lbs to go. Hitting 6 mile run. Climbing Falling Waters, crossing three peaks, including Lafayette, and going down Bridle Path in Fanconia Notch, NH for September. Woo Hoo!

Hitting the trail on the run

Yesterday I had a migraine from h*ll and the day was spent popping ibuprofen, resting in a dark room, and praying for relief. Add to the fact that my Apple watch didn’t charge because my cat pulled out the plug, and there was no tracking of a perfectly awful chubby girl day.

So today, Tom woke me up a bit before 7a for what is becoming a routine morning run along the bike path. He pushes for stride length and speed. I go for steady and distance.

It’s a pretty run, but like any run it can get too familiar and a bit boring. I’m easily able to tell my pace by the song that comes on and where I am on the path. So, I’m starting to mix up my music more and just keep the Zen of it all.

But, I was feeling really great today. A complete day off from any exercise must have been needed because my legs were strong, nimble, and getting into my Zen zone was fast. I was practically singing as I pumped my fists and almost air guitar-ed my way through the first 3 miles.

It was then that I noticed a turn off that would take me on a parallel path through the woods. I’d seen this path before, but never saw where I could get on if I was already heading back to the parking area.

So, I shot off to my right and immediately got the run of my life. I jumped over rocks and roots. I dodged side to side to find my foot holds. I used the rocks and roots to push off of. I ducked and swept away brush. I even kicked up a little mud through a mucky area to smudge my calves in badges of trail running honor. I even collected a couple of hitch hiker caterpillars and a good number of webs.

I loved it. It was so much fun. It broke the monotony of staring down a well known path and it made me feel like a kid again. The best part, after 4 miles, I could have run another mile; I felt that good.  I even came upon Tom as he was in his walk-it-out mode with a massive grin on my face and legs still going.

There are a number of woodsy trails near me in both state parks and local town woods. I’ve been scoping them out for my runs (looking for those that don’t have too much loose rock or are have too many roots where tripping is going to be an issue). But, after today, I think I’m going to prioritize heading to the trail over pavement when I can.

If you haven’t hit a trail – DO IT! If you are getting started, hit the trail to offset the impact and get running faster. If for nothing else, hit the trail to enjoy nature. Love the trail!

In the Metrowest area and need some suggestions? Here are a few:

Hopkinton State Park
Ashland State Park
Whitehall State Park
Wenakeening Woods Public Access
Callahan State Park
Brentwood Conservation
College Rock and Rocky Woods

 

Running Gives Me Momentum and Happiness

I keep reading articles and blogs about the downside of being a cardio junky. I get it, you need to also build muscle. And, yes, I try to at least get in a day of ab and body work. But, when it comes to kicking up your healthy lifestyle and pulling off weight when you reach a plateau, running seems to be the answer. At least for me.

A month back I completed my first outdoor run through San Francisco. I kept it up and run almost everyday outside. I have even gotten my husband to join me.  If not outside (not running in a heat wave, no, not going to do it), then I faithfully got on the treadmill on incline and matched my outdoor pace. The result (disclaimer – lots of exclamation points to show my excitement):

  • Progress! Not only did I crush my plateau, I lost 9 lbs in the last month. That is 2 pounds above my general trend.
  • Legs! I  developed some amazing legs. They are stronger and that saggy skin I complained of earlier, almost all gone.
  • Body! My overall body shape is much more like an athlete than the chubby girl that lost weight. My shoulders are amazing. I love seeing the definition in my leg muscles. My stomach is flattening out. I even see definition in my chest and my collar bones!
  • Size! I got into a size six blouse and dress in the past week. It is amazing to think that it was only 6 months ago I was in a size 14 and starting to even get tight in that. For a girl that has always been busty (if you are blessed with a size under C you might not understand) the fact I am under an 8 on top is in my world crazy.
  • Affection! Let’s just say that hubby (Tom) greatly appreciates my progress.
  • Bikini bod! Oh yes, I donned a bikini this past weekend. It was my third time pulling on that little amount of fabric to bronze my body. But, the difference was that at 47, I rocked my bikini. I looked like those at my age that were in good shape. I even have to admit I looked pretty good compared to those 10-15 years my junior (at least those that had kids). Not that I should compare or body shame anyone, when I was huge it was a big deal that I always felt like the fat girl.  I don’t feel like that anymore.

So, that is the progress. But, ultimately what is really driving my progress is that I just love to run. While still slow, I have dropped a minute off my mile (12 min to 11 min). I can even run a tad over 4 miles a couple times a week with my typical run at 3 miles. Today, my average heart rate dropped to 147 from 154 demonstrating I am in better shape. And, there are miles in my overall run where I get close to a 10 minute mile.

That is the technical aspect, but the thing that keeps me going is how I feel. Runners high is real. I am in a better mood after and for the rest of the day.  I have energy. I am centered from my meditative approach of tuning into my body and letting things drop off as I move forward. My mind declutters.

Will I get myself back to  an 8 minute average per mile that was my norm at 35? Maybe. Does it matter? Not really. I’d rather go longer (6-8 miles) and know that I can run every, or almost, everyday and do that for as long as I can. Instead of training to run, I’m training to live. Running just makes me happy!

Keep posted, I’m headed to Stockholm and Geneva in two weeks for work. Looking forward to a little site seeing with my running shoes. Can’t wait to share my routes. If you have some suggestions, do share!

Starting weight: 168
Current weight: 127
Weight loss: 41 lbs

Goal weight: 115, but if I like where I’m at when I hit 120 (size, fitness, cholesterol, etc.) then that will be me new normal. Let’s just say I only have 10 more pounds to go. But, the real goal is do I like how I look AND feel.

 

San Francisco Proved I’m Ready for a 5K

I did it! I logged 3.4 miles in a loop from my hotel, to the Embarcadero and back down Market In San Francisco this morning. Man did I feel good – from the runner high as well as the fact that I actually made it.

Getting my chubby girl body running outside has been a struggle to say the least. Old shoes left me with little cushion causing hip pain. Strength in my legs made moving from treadmill to road near impossible. And, I needed to get my cardio and stamina up so that my heart rate stayed lower than 140 (preferably in the 135 range) so as not to collapse.

Getting back to being a runner has been a big goal of mine and the frustration of taking what seems like forever (over 4 months)  only added to my impatience to feeling like I was truly healthy. What finally encouraged me was being able to stay on the elliptical for an hour, getting in some short trail runs on a cushier surface than pavement, and starting to do some squats, lunges and hip exercises for strength. It took a month of concerted effort, but I finally made it.

The best part, I ran a respectable time – 12 minute mile. And, to be honest, some of this was due to waiting for traffic lights and getting a little lost and needing to check in with my phone’s map. Not too shabby. I think I might actually make the under 30 club for a race.

My run was not without adventure. heading back on Market I took a turn after 4th between some buildings where I’d cut through before. It just had been a while ago and I couldn’t figure out where Howard was. Thus, it required checking in with my phone map. Lo and behold, I had a route, I forgot to adjust for walking. Let’s just say that this added not only distance, but also a tour of one of the seedier parts of town – down 6th. Let’s just say that for a little girl on her own early in the morning heading past homeless people and some sordid fellows, I was feeling a bit nervous. But, I did make it back to Market and checked my phone again to put me back on track.

In the end, I certainly needed to push myself a bit more than on a machine, so a Guns and Roses mix helped a lot. I also ran the flattest part of the city. We’ll see what happens when I get home and have to tackle Hopkinton’s hills. But, all in all, not a shabby day.

I can now say – I’m a runner again!

Postcard for Mother’s Day

To all the mom’s out there – Happy Mother’s Day!

Just finished my mother’s day breakfast made by my family: real German pumpernickel toasted and topped with a fried egg, smoked salmon and slices of avocado. A side of fresh berries, mango and banana. A venti Americano. And they even cut up pastries in small pieces so I could sneak in bakery goodness without over doing it. Are you jealous yet? 🙂

Michele at Gustavos in WalthamMother’s Day for me started last night since I have to hop on a plane this afternoon for San Francisco. (a little friendly online shaming below to my friends in SF…) Tom took me out for dinner to this amazing Cuban restaurant, Gustavo’s in Waltham. We shared little plates of everything from marinated pork tips in polenta, grilled lamb, creamy paprika shrimp with radishes and tomato, black been and quinoa salad, and the most amazing roasted cauliflower. Tom also got this seafood stew with a Cuban twist. I don’t know if it is because I’ve been on a healthy living/diet for over 4 months, but this is definitely my new favorite restaurant.

Dinner didn’t fit into what was left of my calorie allotment for the day (although I did work to keep under control and overage minimal), but after 30 minutes to a Jillian Michaels’ circuit training video, 30 minutes on the elliptical, and 30 minutes on a steep treadmill incline, I think I was entitled to an amazing dinner. The true test is to do the same workout today as I am being reasonable in my meals, but my family is also tempting me with crab cakes for later. I even saw a box of chocolates. And I could steal a Twizzler for about 35 calories – Yay!

Yes, for me Mother’s Day is about good food. But, it has also been about feeding my soul. Whether it is visiting the art museums, doing some yoga, pampering at the spa, gardening, or going out for a walk, my Mother’s Days are in some ways a template for how I should be taking care of myself all the time. My family does a lot to take away my daily stress today, which helps. I need to give them a lot of credit for that; after all, they pick up the pieces when I’m road warrior-ing. Yet, what I need to constantly realize and remind myself of is that a healthy lifestyle is about taking care of me not just one day a year, but everyday of my life.

So, my message to all moms today, take care of yourself today and everyday. Think about what gives you the most happiness and renewal on Mother’s Day and work to carry that through always.

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(a little friendly online shaming below …)  — I’m calling out the vendor I’m with this week – Informatica! – to say that the next time they plan their event, think carefully about timing and be kinder to us mother’s out there. Cutting Mother’s Day short is a bit cold in order for us Mom’s to make it to our morning analyst meetings. But, nothing that a good Americano and breakfast banter can’t fix!

 

Top Ten Food Leaps of Faith

As a kid I was read Green Eggs and Ham a lot, being a very picky eater. It didn’t help me then. Not to be discouraged, I read the book to my ultra picky eater son. It didn’t help me then either. Even the Life cereal commercial where Mikey likes it, was more funny than educational on trying new foods.

As an adult and putting on a healthy lifestyle, picky eating is definitely not an option. I take a leap of faith almost every day if I want to both get the nutrition I need and not cause me to do into food boredom. For all of my love of and addiction to food, there is still a lot of stuff out there that I crinkle my nose at. Vegetables are high on that list.

So, here is my top 10 leaps of faith that turned into the love of a new food (from easier to hardest):

  1. Zucchini: It isn’t that I didn’t already eat zucchini, but it was always the slimy food. no matter how I cooked it (usually stir-fry or pan-fry) it mushed.  The spiralize craze is what helped me turn yuck attitude into a love attitude.  Zoodles only need a light pan fry so the zucchini keeps its crunch with zero slime. I also found a great recipe for veggie pancakes where zucchini is grated with onions and potatoes for a twist on latkes (Jewish pancakes). I’m now going through 3 big zucchinis a week.
  2. Eggplant: Here is another yuck vegetable that unless my mother-in-law had made it, I was not a fan. I had tried to do a vegetable lasagna in the past and slide the eggplant thin to use as the noodles, but I still wound up with too thick slices that were chewy and strangely textured. The trick was to get a mandolin. I purchased an $8 hand held that let’s me slice the eggplant really thin like real noodles and it gave me an amazing lasagna. The mandolin also helped with zucchini, and I shave off “noodles” to create eggplant and zucchini layers.
  3. Jicama chips: Over the years I tried veggie chips. In truth, unless the veggies are incorporated into a corn chip, I couldn’t handle it. But, I saw these 100 calorie bags of jicama chips and one was cinnamon sugar. So, I brought a bag home to try. I actually liked it. They look like potato chips but are a big chewier. But, once you get over the hurdle that these aren’t going to be crunchy in the same way as a potato chip you start to enjoy them.  I went back and got other flavors like chili lime. Turns out, hubby and daughter like them so I need to get more bags so I can still have a snack too.
  4. Spaghetti Squash: Long ago I had seen recipes where spaghetti squash was a substitute for noodles.  That seemed to be a fad, but recently I am bumping into spaghetti squash again.  I never really liked the taste of squash, but these new recipes looked really good – burrito filled squash, squash carborna, pizza squash, etc. Well, tried it again and now I have a spaghetti squash around all the time.  I keep my recipes low in fat and calories, but still use the calorie intense recipes for ideas.
  5. Portobello mushroom caps: These meaty things always brought me back to both the time I hated mushrooms to the awful vegetarian meals of the 70s restaurants of my youth. At a recent client advisory, there were caprese Portobello mushroom caps drizzled with balsamic glaze. It was eat this, or have the killer meal of meat, potatoes and pasta. I went with a salad and mushroom. Best thing I ever did. Loved it so much I made it for myself when I got home that weekend. SOOOO EASY!
  6. Ancient grains: How pretentious can you get, right? I am still convinced the name is more marketing gimmick than nutritional reality. But, when at Whole Foods, how can you not grab the craziest fad power food ever and proudly show yourself buying it at the checkout? So vanity wins out and it turns out that throwing these grains in soup with tons of veggies is delicious. And, if the hype is to be true, I get more fiber and nutrients.
  7. The fried egg: I never had a problem eating eggs per se, but the runny yoke thing always icked me out. Then one day at a restaurant I got a pulled pork sandwich with a fried egg on top.  I was converted. At issue is that the sandwich was during my truly chubby state and not something I can really eat now. However, this experience has carried over to healthy living and I’ll throw a fried egg on almost anything. It’s starting to be a running joke with my hubby.
  8. Kale sprouts: I’m always throwing on spinach to a sandwich rather than lettuce to add to the nutritional value. It might be small, but it makes me feel better. I recently stumbled upon kale sprouts at the market. I’m not a big kale fan but these sprouts seemed a better option to the big thick woody leaves. Now I take the kale sprout and sprinkle them on sandwiches, add to salad, and even atop seafood and soups for that extra nutritional kick.
  9. Paneer: I can’t stand tofu, so when I go for Indian buffet and see the paneer floating in sauce I have to walk on by. Last week I instead decided to try paneer out after looking it up online.  It’s cheese! Well, it was wonderful and I might even try to make it at home.
  10. Shirataki noodles: Remember when I said I can’t stand tofu? Well, it turns out that in noodle form I found a great pasta substitute.  Shirataki noodles are somewhat like rice noodles but a bit chewier. I don’t miss my pasta when I have these 10-15 calorie noodles. They are wanting on nutritional value, but when I load a ton of veggies and lean protein on top or throw into a soup, its perfect.