Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Tasty, Healthy Recipe...

Before we start talking about the recipe I have 2 things I'd like to share about my training this week:

1. I have changed my 10K training program. I had been doing the Bridge to 10K and I still think that it is a good program. I just don't think it was the right fit for me. My pace is pretty slow and since Bto10K goes by time I wasn't putting in the miles that I had been. I noticed that my stamina was decreasing and, as someone who strives to be a long distance runner, this is NOT something that I want to happen. So now I'm doing a training plan that I found at I chose the "advanced beginner" because it goes by distance, not time, and it has one long run per week which is the run that you build up your mileage in. It's very similar to the half and full marathon training programs out there.

2. I have my first 5K on Saturday!!!!! I'm so excited. I'm also a bit nervous. Not about the running because these events aren't about "beating" the other people. It's more about the social aspect. I'd really like to meet other runners in my area and love to spend time with other people. I'm just not very good at going into a new situation and becoming chummy with others even though I'd really like to. BUT part of the big change that I want to make in my life is living without the fear that has held me back for so long.

Now on to the recipe! As promised when I find a recipe that is healthy and delicious I will pass it on. They'll also be relatively easy to make as we have busy evenings so dinner is on a very tight schedule.

This recipe is for Quinoa with Black Beans. I got the recipe from this blog and then modified it to suite my tastes and also with what we tend to have on hand. If you've never heard of quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-wah“) before (I hadn't) it is a seed that can be cooked and eaten like a whole grain. It provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It is also gluten free. Here is an article all about quinoa and the health benefits it provides.

And this is what it looks like before it is rinsed or cooked:

Quinoa with Black Beans:

1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic salt
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn
2 cans black beans, rinsed & drained
1 cup Mexican 4 Cheese Blend

Heat oil on medium. Saute onion & garlic until soft.

Rinse & drain quinoa. I lined a strainer with a kitchen towel and used that to rinse the quinoa. I was then able to lift the towel out of the strainer and squeeze it to make sure most of the water was out before I put it in a bowl.

This is what the quinoa looks like when it has been rinsed:

Add quinoa & vegetable broth to the pan. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add corn. Simmer 5 minutes.

Mix in black beans and cheese.


Serving size - 1 cup
Servings - 6

PointsPlus value - 7

Calories - 378
Total Fat - 9.7g
Saturated - 4.3
Polyunsaturated - .5
Monounsaturated - .7
Cholesterol - 6.7
Carb - 56.2g
Fiber - 4.6g
Sugar - 2.5g
Protein - 20.5g

The great thing about this recipe is that you can modify it to fit your tastes or even what you have on hand. No vegetable broth? Chicken or beef will work just fine.

If you want a dairy-free/vegan dish you can leave out the cheese.

If you prefer not to eat meatless meals you can add some cooked chicken.

This is going to become a staple in our home. I loved it Monday night for dinner and I loved it just as much today for lunch. I'm not sure how often Rex will want to have it but I can always make a batch and keep it in the house for lunch.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I'm Back in the Saddle Again...

Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly gypsum weed
Back in the saddle again...

Oh, sorry, got a little carried away there!  :-P

I'm back to where I was before I got sick!  Woo-hoo!

Since this was my first illness since I've started running I didn't know what to expect as far as recovery time goes.  Some friends at Daily Mile said for a chest cold it would probably be 2 weeks or so before I was able to go the distance that I had been going and they were right.  This has unfortunately set me back a bit in my Bridge to 10K program.  I was on week , which is 4 10-minute intervals with a 1-minute walk between each one - when I got sick.  When I was able to start running again - after about a week off - I was only able to do 2 of those 10-minute intervals.  Yesterday I was able to do all 4 of the intervals!

Speaking of yesterday's run, I found myself in somewhat of a debate in my own mind as to where I should run.  We had winds averaging about 28mph yesterday.  In the morning the temperatures were in the 40's but the wind did make it feel cooler than that.  Our YMCA has an indoor track that I use when I need the childcare but, whenever possible, I prefer to run outside.

Those of you who have known me for a long time, stop laughing!  I do so like to go outside!   I know that before this past October you would have NEVER heard me say that but, once this running bug hit, I realized that running outside in nature is pretty much my favorite thing to do.

 Since I did not need the childcare yesterday I really wanted to run outside, so run outside I did.  I wore my usual outdoor running tights, shorts, long sleeved wicking shirt, wicking hat and gloves and on top of that I added my new zip-up wicking fleece jacket that I got from Old Navy at 40% off. 

That's right, 40% off!  Score!  I'm so glad we went shopping the day before because, with that wind, the jacket really came in handy.  It protected me from the wind and when I got a bit warm I was able to unzip it yet keep it together at the bottom which allowed me to cool down just enough.

Running straight into the wind slowed me down from my usual pace of 13:45 to around 15:05 but that's ok. It felt great!  I was running outside for the first time in weeks and did I ever feel lucky to be able to do so!

Once again it was weigh-in day today.  I weighed 188.0 this week.  That was up a pound from last week which wasn't too big of a surprise.  Last week I had my 2nd week in a row with a loss of around 2 1/2 lb so I was expecting to maintain or go up a bit this week.  Even sticking to the program and staying within my PointsPlus range I find myself in a pattern of big loss - no loss - no loss - big loss - no loss - no last week's big loss was a really pleasant surprise.  Even with today's gain I'm still ahead of where I would be in a typical 3-week period so I'm happy.

One thing we've been talking about lately at our Weight Watchers meetings is planning ahead what we will eat.  I find this really helps - especially with dinner.  Breakfast and Lunch usually consist of a few choices that I rotate through that are around the same points values.  But dinner can be tricky especially since it involves more than just me.  If I don't have anything planned then I'm tempted to have my husband pick up fast food or take-out which isn't usually the healthiest option.

We've also been taking a class at our church called Financial Peace University to help us out with learning to budget and save money so this "learning to plan meals in advance" thing couldn't have come at a better time.  We all know that, along with not being healthy for our waistlines, fast food and take-out aren't exactly healthy for our pocketbooks either.  So this week we planned most of our dinners out on Sunday and I went to the store to get exactly what we would need for the week.  So far so good...

Here's where I'm going to ask you for a little help.  If you have any great recipes or links to any great recipes please share them in the comments section.  I'm looking for main dishes, sides, new and interesting ways to fix vegetables...anything!  I'm also going to try a few recipes that I've found online and some from my Weight Watchers weekly pamphlet and I'll share those with you in future posts.

Let's make 2012 our most active AND healthiest year!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Word of Caution...

No pain, no gain, right?  WRONG!!!  I want you to throw that mindset out the window before you ever start running.

It is important to ease into any exercise program slowly.  This is especially true with running as it is a higher impact sport.  And, of course, make sure that you have the ok of your doctor.  And if anything hurts while you're exercising it's important to stop and figure out what's going on.  Pain is our body's way of telling us that something is wrong.  Listen to your body!

My favorite beginning program is Couch to 5K.  This program alternates walking and running, increasing the time spent running every week.  It is to be done 3 times a week and 3 times ONLY!!!

You see, one of the biggest pitfalls for new runners is doing too much too soon.  After a few weeks your cardiovascular health improves dramatically and you feel like you could go for miles and miles.  Unfortunately it takes longer for your muscles to catch up.  And even longer still for your bones and tendons to be strong enough to handle daily running and double-digit miles.  Do too much too soon and you risk injury that will keep you away from running for an extended period of time.

Right now I'm at the Bridge to 10K step.  It is still an interval program that is easing me up to the 10K distance.  I'm not even thinking of starting Half training until the middle of April at the EARLIEST.  Why is this?  Because you should only take on Half training after you've been running regularly for 6 months.  If you'd like to learn more about easing into training and why it's so important I recommend the book "Running for Mortals: A Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life With Running."
by John Bingham (of the quote from my last post) and Jenny Hadfield.  They go into detail of what goes on in your body as you become a runner.

Another thing I want to talk about is illness and running.  As we are now entering the height of cold and flu season we'll probably all be dealing with this sooner or later.  Generally speaking, if symptoms are from the neck up (basically nasal congestion, sneezing, that sort of thing) then it's ok to keep doing what you're doing as long as you feel up to it.  The exception to this would be a sinus infection - strenuous exercise with an active sinus infection can make you even sicker.  If symptoms are neck down (chest cough/congestion, fever, body aches) then rest, rest, rest!  You can do so much damage to your body if you exercise with this type of illness.

Right now I have a nasty chest cold so I'm not liking this advice very much.  Who am I kidding, though?  I don't think I'd even make it past my driveway without hacking up a lung.

But it's hard to make myself stay home when it's supposed to be a running day.  I'm supposed to be at Week 1 Day 3 right now!  And I'll admit that missing a day scares me.  It scares me because I fear that I will fall back into my sedentary lifestyle.  That I'll fall off the exercise and healthy eating wagon.  The logical side of me knows that one "off" week is not going to make a difference in my overall training.  But the emotional side has a hard time accepting that.  It's something that I need to work through though.  Things are going to come up that are out of my control and it's important to learn how to deal with them and continue towards my goal rather than letting them stop me like I've done in the past.

So let's raise our orange juice glasses and toast to a healthier next week!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Courage to Start

How in the world did I ever get into this situation in the first place? 245 5'6" tall - that gave me a BMI of 39.5. Severe obesity. If my BMI had been just .5 higher I would have been morbidly obese.

Why am I telling you all my numbers? Because I want to lay it all out here. I want you to know exactly where I came from. I want other people to know that they, too, can lose weight. They can become fit. Never think that it is too late.

I wish I had taken a picture of myself the day I started losing weight but I didn't. I don't have a picture of myself at my peak weight but this is of me when I weighed 231 lb:

That striped sweater - it's maternity. And I was NOT pregnant.

This is another one at about the same weight:

I felt unhealthy. I had a lot of aches and pains. My fasting blood sugar was over 100 - usually around 110. I couldn't do all the things that I wanted to do. I couldn't keep up with my children. Even taking a walk left me very winded. I had yo-yo'd back and forth in the past. I know that I needed to get the weight off. I wanted to get the weight off. I was determined to get the weight off.

I started out at . It's a free online program where you can record your food and activity every day. You are given a calorie range to try to stay in every day based on your current weight. It is a good program and I started to lose weight.
This is me at 215:

After about 6 months I was down around 200 lb:

Then I stalled out. I just didn't have the drive or motivation anymore. I used Summer as an excuse. "I don't like summer, I don't feel well when it's hot, when it's cooler I'll buckle down and start losing again."

This went on for about a year.

I was happy with my loss so far but knew that it was not where I wanted to stay.

Eventually the numbers started creeping back up. When I realized that I had gained 10 lb I knew I needed to do something different. I needed to get my motivation back. I was NOT going to gain the weight back. I had friends who were losing weight with Weight Watchers. I had gone to WW in the past but had always quit and gained the weight back when I went back to my binging ways. I wasn't crazy about the 'points' system - I had liked the old exchange system - and I wasn't crazy about the idea of paying.

But I also knew that I wanted to have a place to get support from others who were going through the same thing. My youngest was about to start preschool and I thought that would be a perfect opportunity to go to meetings. I had also heard that there was a new Points Plus program and that it placed a much bigger emphasis on balance and healthy choices than the old program did. One day, a few days before school started, I got a flyer in the mail that said for the next few weeks if I bought a Monthly Pass I would get the 2nd month for free. I took it as a sign. On September 7, 2011 I walked into the local WW center and bought a monthly pass. I weighed in. 216.2 lb.

I followed the program and went to the meetings. I found that I like the new Points Plus program. I also found out that I really like going to the meetings. The weight started coming off again. 5lb...10lb...5%...

Then in October I got the idea that I would like to run in a 5K. Our local YMCA has these 5/10/15K events throughout the year and it looked like fun but I never thought I'd be able to participate. I don't run. I can't run. I hate running. But I decided that I wanted to be able to run a 5K.

I had heard good things about the Couch to 5K program. It's a 3 day per week program that alternates running and walking to gradually ease you in to running 5K. On October 18, 2011 I became a runner. I did the Week 1 Day 1 training which was alternating 60 seconds running, 90 seconds walking for 20 minutes. It was amazing! I felt wonderful! I found myself looking forward to my running days.  Me!  The girl who had always HATED running!  The girl who "couldn't" run! I joined Daily Mile and posted on the newbie board asking for friend requests. I became friends with several wonderful people on there and have received so much support.

Meanwhile, the weight was still coming off. 15lb...20lb...

This is me this past Thanksgiving at 195.4lb:

That's right! I made it to "Onederland!" I had not weighed under 200lb since my first pregnancy so this was a BIG deal!

As I got more and more into running I realized that I did not want to stop at 5K. I set a new goal to run a 10K sometime in the spring of 2012 and to run a Half Marathon in October 2012. I graduated from Couch to 5K on December 17th and started Bridge to 10K on January 2nd. I registered for a Half Marathon that is on October 21, 2112.  It's going to be a lot of hard work but I am ready to take on the challenge!

So here I am today. It was weigh-in day at WW. My weight this morning was 189.4!!! I'm getting there. I'm about 5lb away from being overweight. I never though I'd be so happy about/looking forward to being 'overweight'.

I am so excited about this new phase in my life!

If you have ever had an interest in running I say go for it! Even if you have never run a step in your life, do it! Couch to 5K is a wonderful program. Believe me, it has to be if it got me running! I also recommend Daily Mile - you can track your workouts and get support from some wonderful people. If you do decide to check it out, look me up, CindiP. I always love meeting new people!

I hope that you enjoy reading about my Road to 13.1. Now I want to leave you with some words from John "The Penguin" Binghan: "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."

May you have your own miracle.