Happy New Year!

I cannot believe we are about to put another calendar year in the books!  Where did 2013 go?  Well, I suppose it went to the same place most of my recent years have gone – to work and school, to church services and grocery shopping, to doctor appointments and birthday parties, to basketball and soccer games.  To all the activities and life-stuff that fills up our daily schedules.  My December, just as every month before it, was filled with plenty of activities and life-stuff…

My last blog post was fortuitously timed.  I said that I was okay with not losing any weight for the month, what with all the Christmas parties and gatherings, and the very next day I hurt myself.  Thankfully I hurt myself doing something truly heroic – vacuuming.  Because we were iced in at the time, I was giving my poorly neglected house some fairly deep cleaning.  I was vacuuming under the dining room table, and as I stooped down to extend my arm, my back went completely out.  The pain buckled my knees, and I fell on top of the still-running vacuum cleaner.  My husband and youngest son heard my cry and came to help me.  I ended up spending the next several days on a heating pad on the couch, with exercise absolutely off my to-do list.  Or more accurately, off my can-do list.

After nine days, the pain had not gotten any better, so I called on a friend of my husband’s who is a physical therapist.  I went to see him at his clinic, and he informed me that my ilium (top of the pelvic bone) had rotated out of place.  What?!?  I really wished I had gone in sooner.  He had to pop my hip back into place, then pop my lower vertebrae back into place.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I felt like a new woman.

I made it through Christmas and all our Christmas get-togethers just fine, but my lower back/hip area started hurting again a couple of days ago.  This time I didn’t wait.  I made another trip to the physical therapy clinic again this morning (thank goodness he could meet with me on New Year’s Eve), and that rotten old hip bone was out of alignment again!  He set everything back where it belongs – again – and sent me home with some exercises for strengthening my lower back and my core in general.  I’m back on the heating pad as I type this, so we are having a very low-key New Year’s Eve here in the living room watching movies.  Which, by the way, is precisely my favorite kind of New Year’s Eve.

So it looks like I won’t start 2014 guns-a-blazing as I would have liked to.  But this is just a minor and hopefully temporary setback.  I somewhat dread going back to the daily grind on Thursday after having been off for a week and a half, but it will be nice to be past the calorie-fest that was December.  And it is so nice to start 2014 already 15 pounds down from where I started 2013.  I can’t wait to make more progress!  (Watch out for an increase in blog posts as I get back in the swing of things!)

Whatever your plans or dreams for 2014, I wish you all the best.  As the old saying goes, I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.  I pray that God will reveal Himself to us in amazing ways this year.  It seems He always does….

Happy New Year, friends!  :)

Iced In = Blog Time

Greetings, friends!  Once again, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  (I warned you it might be sporadic during the holiday season!)  But today is our second day of being “iced” in our house, so I’ve got a little extra time on my hands to bring you up to speed on my progress…or lack thereof.

Thanksgiving got the best of me…I gained two pounds in the last two weeks!  Oops.  I had three Thanksgiving meals: one at work, one at church, and then of course, Thanksgiving Day.  Also, we traveled to San Antonio for Thanksgiving to spend the weekend with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  Between Thanksgiving leftovers and having an Einstein Bagel Bros. right around the corner (my favorite!), I left myself splurge the whole time I was there.  I’ve already lost one of those two pounds, so I hope to be back on track soon.

You know how everyone makes the big New Years Resolution to lose weight?  (I have done this several times to no avail.)  I’m resolving right now to be on good behavior for the month of December.  It’s such a fun time of year, but oh, the temptations that come with it!  My husband and I have several Christmas parties that we’ll be attending, and I know there will be tempting treats and sweets at each one.  Today, I recommit my efforts to working out more and exhibiting more self-control at social events.

I have found that the best way for me to stick to my goals is to revisit The Dream.  Thinking about my wedding dress in its box – which I will open sometime after the first of the year – reminds me how badly I want to wear it again.  Looking online at Caribbean resorts I’d like to visit helps me visualize myself and my husband on the beach for our 15th wedding anniversary.

My goal is to lose 40 pounds, and I was hoping to be at the halfway point by the end of the year.  I’ve lost about 15 pounds so far…and I can live with that.  I don’t think I can lose 5 more pounds in the next three weeks with Christmas gatherings upon us.  (Okay, maybe I can, but I don’t plan to!)  So I’ll settle for not gaining anything this month.  And if my resolution sticks, maybe even lose a pound or two.  But I’m not holding my breath… ;)

I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the ice storm we survived.  I am so grateful our electricity is still intact.  I hope everyone stays safe and warm this winter.  Love and peace to you!

ice1

ice2

ice3

ice4

Chocolate, Chocolate Everywhere!

Chocolate.  Mmmm.  One of my favorite sweets.  It seems chocolate has been popping up in my life quite a bit here lately….

First there was Halloween.  We took our boys trick-or-treating in the same neighborhood we visit every year.  And each year we seem to get a pretty balanced mix of candy – 1/3 fruity chewies, such as Starburst and Skittles; 1/3 hard candies, such as lollipops and jaw-breakers; and 1/3 chocolate goodies, such as Snickers and Milky Way.  This year we somehow ended up with about 90% chocolate goodies!  I let myself nibble on quite a bit of it, but there’s still tons of chocolate goodness left in the boys’ buckets.  I plan on taking it to work and putting it in our candy bowl for students so I won’t have it in the house anymore.

Next there was the onset of cool, crisp fall weather.  Each fall when cooler temps arrive, it stirs up a craving for three things: 1) flannel pajamas, 2) snuggly blankets, and 3) hot chocolate.  I discovered that Swiss Miss makes “diet” hot chocolate that tastes really good.  Only 25 calories and 2g of sugar, so it’s not a costly treat.  (My only complaint is that it doesn’t dissolve quite as nicely as regular hot chocolate.)  I’ve been making a cup nearly every morning at work.  Random Fact: Hot chocolate is the ONLY form of chocolate that my husband likes.  Go figure.

swiss miss

Finally, the women’s ministry group at my church sponsored a fabulous retreat called Café Chocolat.  That’s right – a whole retreat and Bible study based on chocolate!  We spent the night at Camp Paron where we participated in Bible study, sang worship songs, sewed a cozy fleece wrap, and ate TONS of chocolate.  I never dreamed it was possible to have too much chocolate, but I think I got very close!  The bible study was a comparison of chocolate to God’s extravagant love and extravagant grace.  It was definitely a “sweet” time of fellowship!

cafe chocolat

As much as I love chocolate, I think I’ve about reached my quota for November…and we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet!  Guess I’ll just have to focus on pumpkin cheesecake and sweet potato casserole instead.  I’m very much looking forward to Turkey Day, knowing that I will be saving all my splurge calories that week for the biggest meal of the year.  Here’s to turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce!  Bring. It. On.

October Recap (It’s been HOW long since I posted???)

Five weeks.  Yep.  It’s true.  Five weeks since my last post.  Oopsie!

Clearly October was a very busy month for me.  It started with a family trip to Albuquerque and my birthday – woohoo!  Then I got sick – just some upper respiratory stuff.  Then my hubby and I took a mini-getaway to Texas.  Combine all this with the everyday hustle and bustle of life, and it didn’t leave much time for blogging.  Sorry for the hiatus.  Here are a few brief stories to get you caught up…

My family – including my family of four, my parents, my brother and his family of four – went to my hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.  Of course I’d been several times growing up in ABQ, but it remains one of the most amazing events I’ve ever been to.  My husband had been with me once before we had kids, and I took my oldest son when he was 18 months old.  It’d been eight long years since I’d seen those balloons in person.  And it was every bit as magical as I remembered.

Balloons1

Balloons2

We ate our way through Albuquerque, hitting all my old favorite restaurants along the way, but I didn’t gain any weight because we walked and walked and walked around the Balloon Fiesta Park.  We burned off every goodie we indulged in that weekend, including my favorite – sopapillas with honey.  Mmm-mmmm!

Before we could leave ABQ, I caught a cold that several of my family members ended up sharing and missed a couple of days of work the next week.  No exercise occurred.  Then the following weekend my husband and I escaped for a weekend getaway.  I bought him tickets to see Dana Carvey for Father’s Day, and it was finally time to redeem them!  We stayed in the upscale little town of Frisco, Texas, which we had visited last fall for a friend’s wedding.  Again, we ate our way through the town, but again, we walked off most of it in the fabulous Stonebriar Centre mall and a Premium Outlet mall we found nearby.  My favorite meal was at the Cheesecake Factory.  I had their popular Chicken Madeira and a piece of white chocolate raspberry cheesecake.  Heaven.

Cheesecake Factory

The Monday following our trip, I finally got back on the exercise wagon.  I have only lost one pound during the month of October, but I’m okay with that considering all the activities and foods I enjoyed.  I’m back in the groove with my blog now, too, and I’m going to try my best to stick to my goals during the fast-approaching holiday season.  Halloween is Thursday – and that will provide me plenty of bite-sized temptations – then Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here before we know it!

Don’t be surprised to find a few more gaps in the blog as we enter the holiday season, but I’ll do my best not to have any more five-week lapses.  I’ve missed this!  Thanks for taking the time to catch up with me.  Goodnight, friends!

Candy Corn is Beckoning

Reese’s and Snickers and Twix!  Oh my!  Halloween candy is here!

Halloween candy

I went grocery shopping tonight, and I had to fight with every muscle in my body not to grab a bag of Candy Corn, my all-time favorite Halloween candy.  One thing I love about this time of year is the seasonal baking display that our Wal-Mart sets up every year.  It is stocked with cookie, cake, and pie-making goodness.  I did give in and grab a mix for pumpkin muffins…yum!  But I can use self-control eating muffins.  Not so much with Candy Corn.

One reason I’m glad I started my weight loss plan this summer is that I wanted to see some significant weight loss before the holidays.  I have lost 12 pounds so far – woot! woot! – and I do not want to see all that hard work undone during the holidays.  Thinking about those 12 pounds got me safely through the candy aisle today.  Phew!  And that is really amazing since I saw a big bag of the new White Chocolate Candy Corn M&M’s.

I am so excited that tomorrow is the first day of fall!  I am beyond ready for changing leaves, jackets, scarves, apple cider, pumpkins, mums, and all the cozy things that accompany the season.  Happy Fall, everyone!

Five Reasons I Love the Fair

Well, we went to the County Fair three days ago, and I’m still feeling euphoric!  I LOVE THE FAIR!  While the first six days of the fair were miserably hot, a cold front moved through and cooled things down for Friday, the day we went.  It was about 75 degrees with a nice fall-like breeze.  Perfect. Fair. Weather.  It was a fun-filled night for so many reasons, but here are the top five reasons I love the fair:

  1. THE FRIENDS – We go to the fair with the same family of five every year, and this was our 11th year to go together.  They were a part of a historic event in my life…my very first county fair!  I milked and brushed a cow for the first time in my life…it was epic.
  2. THE FOOD – Corn dogs, funnel cakes, and caramel apples.  ‘Nuff said.
  3. THE PETTING ZOO – I love seeing, petting, and feeding the animals, especially the babies.  Missing this year was the enormous cow you can brush and the freshly-hatched baby chicks, but we had a camel for the first time.  I guess I’ll settle for a camel.
  4. THE FERRIS WHEEL – My absolute favorite ride because you get a bird’s eye view of the fair and the town.  :)  Love me some ferris wheel.
  5. THE MIDWAY AFTER DARK – Although the games are rigged and the rides (and operators) are sketchy, I love the lights and sounds of the midway, especially after the sun sets.

fair favesAs you may have read in previous posts, I have been salivating for fair food, so I saved all my splurge calories for fair night.  I really had my heart set on eating a corn dog, but we got to the fair and saw BBQ nachos advertised.  Yes, please!  That’s what I ended up ordering for dinner, followed by a funnel cake later in the evening.  I ordered my caramel apple “to-go” and ate it Saturday afternoon.  Pure. Heaven.

fair foodEvery Sunday morning we pass by the fair grounds on our way to church.  We are always excited to see the fair being set up, and always sad to see it being taken down.  My boys are already asking how long it will be until it’s fair-time again.  I think one final reason I love fair-time is that it means fall is right around the corner.  I’m so ready for cool weather, pumpkins, and fall foliage.

Thank you, Lord, for a memorable night at the fair and for the hint of fall in the air.  Amen.  Goodnight, friends!

Healthy as a Horse

Yikes!  It’s been over a week since I took some time to blog.  As I have mentioned before, I work at a local university, and the first few weeks of classes are absolute madness.  This fall semester has been no exception!

There is a universal guideline associated with every exercise or weight loss program I’ve encountered, and I’m sure you’ve seen it too.  It usually goes something like this: “Please consult a physician before starting this or any program.”  Sounds pretty wise to me.  I probably hadn’t had any blood work done since I had my gallbladder taken out six years ago.  I very rarely get sick, so I assume that I’m a fairly healthy person, but I figured it would be a good idea to have some baseline tests run.

So two weeks ago, I went to have a physical at my doctor’s office.  I’m pretty sure the last time I had a physical was when I was playing softball in high school, which has been…um…some years ago.  I won’t say how many.  I wanted to visit with my doctor about THE PLAN to make sure it is solid and sound.  She said she thought I was on the right track, and we discussed developing healthy habits.  Because I was still having those awful shin splints at the time, she also suggested I take two weeks off from running.

Earlier this week I got the results from my blood work, and everything looks good!  My blood sugar was great and all my metabolic results were within normal ranges.  Today marks the end of my two-week hiatus from running, and I can’t wait to put on those new running shoes again and get back to my walking/jogging routine!  I hate that I missed two weeks due to shin splints caused by poor shoes.  My doctor advised going back to square one and increasing my running gradually, and I will follow that advice.  I don’t want to end up hurting again!

In other random news, I ate at Tropical Smoothie Café today.  Things have been so busy at work that I have not eaten there in over two weeks.  That’s a new record for me.  I usually eat lunch there once a week, then have a light dinner that evening.  It’s worth the splurge every time.  :)  I love that as long as I’m exercising, I can eat Tropical Smoothie and still lose weight.  Makes this whole “new lifestyle” thing a cinch.

tropical smoothie

Stay tuned for more posts this weekend…it’s County Fair time and I cannot wait to go with some dear friends tomorrow night!  There is a funnel cake and a caramel apple with my name on it!  Yeehaw!  :)

A Football Feast!

Happy Labor Day!  Hope that you are enjoying this holiday weekend.  We certainly are!

Saturday we spent most of the day in Jonesboro for Legislative Day at Arkansas State University.  My husband is a State Representative, and he and several colleagues were honored throughout the afternoon.  It started with a lunch at 1:00pm, then we went to a reception at 3:30pm.  The main event was the Redwolves football game at 6:00pm, which we watched from the Chancellor’s Box.  Lunch, a reception, AND dinner?!?  Food was everywhere!

Even though I’m allowed a couple of cheat meals each week, I was hoping that there would be a few healthy options.  The ASU catering team did not disappoint!  Lunch enabled me to get almost all my veggie servings: cabbage slaw with pine nuts, asparagus with crabmeat, and grilled cauliflower.  Delish!  My only cheat at lunch was a piece of strawberry cake.

ASU Meals

I forgot to take a photo at the reception, but it was very nice also.  They had a variety of fruits and cheeses set out, as well as several other appetizers.  I had some cantaloupe, pineapple, and strawberries.  Not really sure how, though, since I was still full from lunch!

I figured there would be some food for us in the Chancellor’s Box, but I had already told my husband I was eating a hot dog and popcorn for dinner, my two favorite ball game foods.  As luck would have it, they had hot dogs for us, and since I did alright at the lunch and reception, I didn’t hesitate to splurge at dinner!  I had a chili cheese hot dog, a stuffed jalapeno pepper, and a Howl cookie.  Never got my popcorn, but my belly was plenty full and plenty happy.  :)

We had an awesome day, and to top things off, the Redwolves won their first home game.  Driving around Jonesboro and around the ASU campus always brings back lots of great memories since my husband and I met here.  Good times.

Stadium

We have been celebrating our Labor Day at home, and tonight we are grilling burgers and eating outside on the patio.  Kind of one last summer hurrah.  I like summer just fine, but not as much as I love fall and winter, and all the events and yummy foods that come with these two seasons.  I’m also looking forward to cooler temperatures so my outdoor exercises don’t leave me in a sweaty puddle.

Hope your Labor Day weekend has been filled with fun.  Fall is only a few weeks away!  Next weekend will be our local county fair, and I can assure you that my cheat meals will be saved for corn dogs and funnel cakes.  Woohoo!

Asics Gel-Nimbus 15 (aka: one-fourth of my paycheck)

New ShoesMeet my new running shoes – Asics Gel-Nimbus 15’s.  Aren’t they pretty?!?  At first I thought it sounded like something from Harry Potter, but they are indeed a magnificent pair of running shoes.  (And they should be for what I paid for them!)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been having some wicked shin splints (but more on the inside of my leg), and I knew that I needed proper running shoes.  I called my sister-in-law, a CrossFitter and a previous resident of Little Rock, and she suggested several specialty running stores in the area.  This past Sunday afternoon, I set out to find the perfect pair of running shoes for me.

Here’s what I learned at my first stop, Easy Runner in Little Rock:

  • I have a “neutral gait,” no special inserts or corrective shoes needed.
  • A good pair of running shoes should last 300-500 miles.
  • I have been neglecting stretching before I run (tsk, tsk, tsk) which could be one culprit of my shin splints.
  • I should be taking in electrolytes before, during, and/or after my run to help with muscle recovery.
  • Asics loves to make very loud shoes.  No dull, boring colors for them.
  • There are special compression socks for running.  They support your arch, have a seamless toe, and wick away moisture.
  • Running can easily become a very expensive habit.  There was all kinds of neat gear in there!

I tried on several pairs of shoes at Easy Runner, but didn’t find any winners.  I did buy some fizzy electrolyte/sodium tabs and a special hand-held water bottle for runners.  I moved on to Academy Sports in North Little Rock…no luck there, either.  Although I did get some running socks there.  My final stop was closer to home at Hibbett Sports in Searcy.  I had already tried on several pairs of shoes at Hibbett last week, but I wanted to look in Little Rock before making my decision.

A nice young man helped me narrow down my options until two pairs were left:  a pair of Brooks and a pair of Asics.  I loved both equally, but the Asics had more rugged soles.  Because all my running is on asphalt, I figured that more rugged was the way to go.  So I handed the young man one-fourth of my take-home pay to buy my first pair of running shoes.

New Shoes x 3I wore my shiny, new Asics Gel-Nimbus 15’s for the first time tonight for a run with a couple of friends from work.  Each of us has purchased new running shoes in the last month, so I had to snap a pic of our new kicks.  :)

My new shoes were a dream!  So springy and comfy.  I think I made a good choice.  Now I’m not only running to “get in the dress,” I’m running to get my money’s worth out of these shoes.  Ha!  I still have a lot to learn about running, but I’m ready to hit the pavement again.  And hopefully it will be less painful now.

Birthday French Toast

Good morning!  I am SO glad the weekend is finally here!  It’s been a wild week.

This week we celebrated my youngest son’s 6th birthday!  Woohoo!  As I mentioned in my last post, he is a very picky eater.  He doesn’t eat a wide variety of foods, the only plus being that he doesn’t eat hardly any sweets.  He doesn’t like cookies, cakes, candy, or chocolate.  Sometimes I wonder if the stork brought me the right baby, but then I remember he gets some of this rejection of sweets from his father.  The only “treats” he likes are things like Teddy Grahams and the occasional Nilla Wafer.

The one sweet my son does like is French toast.  He even likes to dip his French toast in syrup (a BIG deal for this boy with sensory issues).  As soon as we discovered his love of French toast, I set out to find an easy recipe and perfect my French-toast-making skills.  One of the easiest recipes I found was Robert Irvine’s, available at Food Network.  It is super yummy!  And I’m proud to say I have perfected making it on our Cuisinart Griddler.  I’m a French-toast-making machine.

Because my son’s birthday fell on weekday – when the odds of me making a large breakfast and still getting everyone out the door on time are not very good – I promised him that I would fix him a big French toast breakfast today, the day of his birthday party.  Which I did.

French toast

Knowing that today would include French toast for breakfast and birthday cake and ice cream at the party, I have been saving most of my splurge calories for today.  One of the books I’m reading allows two cheat meals each week.  My first cheat meal this week was two slices of pizza with our college students Wednesday night at church.  My second will be today.  :)

Here’s to a great weekend!  Hope you have fun whatever your plans!