Thursday, January 24, 2013

Spark: the journey

I don't like getting my picture taken. Some people photograph well. I am not one of them. The fact that, at one point, I was about 75 pounds overweight, was a factor, that's for sure. The fact that I'm actually posting pictures is nothing short of crazy for me. You'd better believe I edited pictures. A few of my friends in my Spark group posted pictures today of their journeys. Not before and after pictures, really, because as Susan said recently (I'm paraphrasing, please forgive me), "after ends in the grave." There is no after, because this will always be something I have to work at. The last two weeks have been frustrating. Between having and endoscopy last week and having the flu this week, I have been on the sidelines. Figures. So, to inspire me, I'm going to look at how far I've come, not how far I have left to go. Although, I think I do look cute in my Grand Canyon pictures.

 The blue shirt pictures were taken in 2007, late summer, when my mother in law was visiting from Australia. I think I've given away the v neck t-shirt, but I still have the button up blouse. Two things amaze me: first is how much that fit like a sausage casing in 2007, and second, how big it seemed this summer. I did wear it once, to church, but I actually tucked the blouse in to my black skirt. I don't know if this was me at my heaviest. Probably not. I don't look happy, and I certainly don't look comfortable.
 These pictures were taken in October of 1999. The Aussie and I took a much needed vacation and drove around the Southwest for two weeks. I'm in my mid-30s here, so the weight has started to creep on, but not enough to get me to do much about it. Oh, I'd join a gym every year or so, work out for a bit, maybe take classes for a bit. I wish I could write a letter to who I was then, or time travel like the nasty Senator in Time Cop did. He told his younger self to lay off the candy bars or twinkies. Something like that. I look at me here and I see what I aspire to get back to. I can do it. *knock on wood*

And this. This is me these days. Naively signing up for a DietBet, taking my picture in front of the mirror with their "word of the day." Life has a way of throwing plans aside. I won't be winning that bet, so I can kiss my $20 good bye. Oh well. I'm a work in progress. I'm certainly healthier than I was in 2007. The progress may take a bit longer than I'd like, but it is what it is. Besides, they moved the finish line for "after." It's no longer when I get to my goal. The finish line is a lot more permanent than that. So I'll just keep in mind, while I plod along my path: Forward is a pace.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Better than a parking lot...

Yesterday afternoon on FB, I posted the following:

"Feeling nauseous. I just "liked" a particular marathon page. It may be time to get my act in gear and start running again. The marathon is December 1st. I haven't run, if you call my turtle pace running, since June, when I did the Wounded Warrior Half. Is this enough time to train?"

The responses were very positive, and a friend from church who is a marathoner said "Yes!!!" So I started looking in to various training plans. I am not looking to push it, especially since I haven't run since June and I'm a little bit more creaky in the knees and hips. Hell. I'm closer to 50 than 40. I'm happy I can get off the couch some days, given as spastic and clutzy I am.  What I found is Hal Higdon's Novice Supreme marathon training guide. It's a 30 week schedule. This gives me plenty of time (knock on wood) to prepare for and train for this race.  It even gives me time to complete all 9 weeks of C25K beforehand.

Last night after dinner I told The Aussie to visualize spending a few days in Florida at the end of November/beginning of December in Florida. He says "okay, sounds nice." I then told him why. I said "I promised you that when I was ready to do a full, that you'd have something nicer than the parking lot at Fair Park to look at."

source: Pegasusnews
BTW, I'm feeling nauseous again. I just finished copying the training plan in to my calendar. Yikes.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Roasted Mushroom and Butternut Squash Pilaf

Ever since I roasted mushrooms to make a mushroom bisque a month or so ago, I have been enamoured with them. Roasting can turn regular white mushrooms with little flavor, into a delicious meaty morsel. I've used them in the bisque, I've used them in my loaded veggie chili, and now I'm using them in a lovely pilaf along with roasted butternut squash, baby kale and brown rice and quinoa mixed grains.

I cut up a pound of mushrooms in to chunks, about 8 pieces per mushroom, and I peeled and cut up a butternut squash in to 1/2 " pieces. Each came to about 6 cups of vegetables. I heated the oven to 400 and sprayed two baking pans with non-stick cooking spray. If you have the olive oil flavor, that's great. I sprayed the tops of the veggies, too. Roast them for 20 minutes, rotating trays after ten minutes. You want to make sure the water that comes off the mushrooms has a chance to evaporate.

In the meantime, chop up half of a red onion in to a small dice. If you want to use fresh garlic, chop up or press a couple of large cloves. One thing that I do to make things come together quickly is chunky garlic from a tube. You can find it, along with ginger, garlic paste, and cilantro paste, in the refrigerated produce section of your grocery store.  Get a large sautee pan heating over medium high heat. Drizzle in a tablespoon of nice olive oil. When it's shimmering, add in the onions. I cooked them so that they got a bit of a crisp on them, to add texture. Add in the garlic and quickly sautee.  Deglaze with a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Now it's time to add in your mushrooms and stir the mixture together. Doesn't it look delicious?

I'll let you in on another secret of mine. If you don't have time to make your own quinoa and brown rice for this dish, or any other, for that matter, see if you can find this product: Seeds Of Change organic quinoa and brown rice. It's super easy to cook. Just 90 seconds in  your microwave.

Once the mushrooms are nicely coated with the balsamic vinegar and the onion garlic mixture, it's time to add in the kale. You can use a bunch of regular kale that you've taken the woody stems off of and chopped, or you can you baby kale. I'm fortunate in that my Kroger has started carrying baby kale in a large clamshell type container. It's probably meant for kale salad, but it hasn't made it that far with me. I keep sauteeing it with garlic and olive oil.

 See, it really cooks down. Keep turning the leaves so that they cook down evenly. Then add in the quinoa and rice mixture and the butternut squash. Toss everything gently, to combine. Adjust your seasonings, adding salt and pepper if you like, and more balsamic vinegar to taste. I finished mine off with a big splash of balsamic vinegar, some freshly ground pepper, and a dash of TrueLemon to give it a little extra zing. This made 6 very large servings. After having 2 last night and 1 for breakfast, I'm guessing I'll be done with the whole batch by tonight. ;)
Roasted Mushroom and Butternut Squash Pilaf
6 cups butternut squash, 1/2 " cubes
1 pound mushrooms, roughly diced (6 cups)
olive oil cooking spray
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 T garlic
2-4 T balsamic vinegar
1 package baby kale (3+ cups) or large bunch, stemmed and chopped
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked quinoa
squeeze of lemon (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Monday, January 7, 2013


Epiphany (feeling)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
An epiphany (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation, striking appearance") is an experience of sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe breakthrough scientific, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective. ...

Epiphanies are relatively rare occurrences and generally following a process of significant thought about a problem. Often they are triggered by a new and key piece of information, but importantly, a depth of prior knowledge is required to allow the leap of understanding.

Yesterday was the celebration of Epiphany at church. The sermon got me thinking about the other meaning of the word epiphany and what the Pastor called "Ah-ha moments." Granted, he's talking about spiritual ah-ha moments, but I started thinking about other types.

I can gripe all I want about not making any progress, but until I actually make myself accountable for what I am doing to myself, nothing is going to change. Part of the new Weight Watchers program, Weight Watchers 360, is about implementing small steps so that they become routines. I have to admit to myself that I have really been lax with tracking. The two weeks in Australia became two more weeks at home without attending meetings. Tracking went out the proverbial door for the month of November. It's been difficult getting my head back in the game, but I have to stop fooling myself. If I keep crap in the house, I'm going to eat it. When we were out on Saturday, I bought myself a Subway combo meal. The sandwich was fine, I had water, but I also selected a small bag of Cheetos. Before opening the bag, I did look up the points. 9 points for a little bag. So, I said, not worth it. But I kept it in my pocketbook anyway. Funny how that little bag opened itself and hopped in to a bowl last night. Granted, I didn't eat all of it, but I made the stupid choice to open it up and start eating Cheetos. Stupid, stupid, stupid. So an ah-ha moment is that I can't have this in the house if I want to succeed at getting healthier and losing weight. Another moment is that I have to stop fooling myself on how much I'm eating and drinking and I need to accurately track and measure what I'm eating. The program won't work if I don't actually follow it. So here's to a fresh start in a new year, new month, new week. Today's a new day. What happened yesterday doesn't need to affect what happens today.



Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Wow, I really dropped off the face of the earth. Well, not exactly, but I sure haven't been blogging much these last few months. Life happens. I can't say that I'm happy to see 2012 in my rearview mirror. I had some good times, for sure (hi Jen and Heather!!!), but I also had some really sucky times. Australia: it's a nice place to visit. The flight is hell. Add the reason we went, and it's doubly so.

So, here I am in 2013. The Aussie and I survived the end of the Mayan calendar, Texas White Christmas snowmageddon / icemageddon, had a great visit from my sister, and had a quiet New Year's Eve with The Aussie and our gang. That's over now, and it's time to regroup, get my head out of my *ss back in the game, and start treating myself better.

Mentally, I have been struggling to get my act together. I'm not the only one. My dear friend Shannon has put out the call and is rallying the troops! We all need to find our spark. I've been reading "It Starts With Food" and "Practical Paleo." I'm not sure I'm looking to go so extreme as to give up my milk in my coffee, but I do need to feed myself more  nutritious food and cut back on the processed "food" that I gravitate towards. I seldom have fast food or soda, so they aren't big concerns of mine. I do, however, like my chocolate and wine. And Chinese food. And cheese... Darn you, TJ's for those lovely little mini brie bites. 

Unfortunately, I've found that the older I get, the harder it is to get weight off.  It isn't just how I deal with food that needs a spark. I finally set up my Active Link and am getting a better picture of how much I am and am not moving. I haven't been doing too badly, but I need to do more. I signed up to run Bold In The Cold 5k in a couple of weeks. My cousin and I have done this the last two years, so it will be good to keep the tradition going. It won't be pretty. He hasn't run all year, I haven't since the summer, and we both have put on some weight. I don't care. I'm doing it anyway, won't even wear my Garmin, and all I have to do is finish.

Healthwise, I finally got myself to a doctor to discuss my owngoing health issues. I'm not looking forward to it, but I have an endoscopy scheduled. Hopefully some light will be shed as to why I continue to have a problem keeping certain foods down.

I also signed up to do Roni's diet bet challenge. I had never heard of this site, but thought "why not?" 4% in a month is a reasonable goal. I can't believe how much activity this challenge is generating!

All in all, January should be an interesting month. I wish all of you the best blessings for your health, well being and prosperity in this new year.