Saturday, February 25, 2012

If the shirt fits

I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination. Nine times out of 10, I’m headed to work with spit up or oatmeal on my shirt.

The other one time?


Yeah, I’d be workout clothes.

But there’s one piece of fashion advice that I can share with you: If you are losing weight, there’s nothing more important than having clothes that fit. Sure, it’s can be fun to see how baggy your shirts can get and pull off your pants without unbuttoning them. However, well-fitting clothes will help you to see the physical effects of weight loss and make you feel better mentally. (Read: If you look dumpy, you’ll feel dumpy.)

It’s for that reason that I invited L to go shopping with me. My girl is dropping the LBs and is looking good. Her pants are loose, shirts hanging off – definitely reasons to get some new duds. When I was losing weight, I often went to Clothes Mentor (a consignment shop) to pick up basics but lucky for L, I had received a couple coupons for two free Best Tees from Old Navy via Crowdtap and Old Navy’s Sample and Share program.

Disclosure: My participation in Crowdtap is not related to the blog nor was I compensated. I’m just choosing to share our shopping adventure with you.

We hit up the store after Body Pump and Zumba … and lunch … and started eying the goods.

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All right, all right. I got a little distracted from our task at hand. Cardigans, butterfly dresses and running jackets with thumb holes are hard to ignore!

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L picked up two V-neck vintage tees – one in a gorgeous aqua and the other in a vibrant pink.

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I originally grabbed a couple racerback tanks but later found out they weren’t part of the deal (even though that’s what I had seen on the website). Womp. Womp. I ended up with two ribbed tanks – one in blue moon and one pink striped. It might not have been what I wanted but I wear the crap out of these in the summer so it’s no biggie.

And I’ll be back for the racerbacks. After all, what better what to show off all my work in Body Pump than a fitted tank.


Miles, who was shopping with us, refused to leave empty handed. I found him a lion hat on clearance for $2.97. I bought it in the hopes that it will fit him next winter! Rawr.

And as for my winter wardrobe? Well, it got a little addition.


Check out the coat I got for $9.97 – originally $89.97. Booyah! Even better than that? It’s an extra small – two words that I never thought I would see on a clothing label in my closet.

Oh, and before I go, remember when I said I wasn’t a fashionista? Yeah. Just check out my legging, fleece, fake Ugg combo. I so wasn’t lying.

Are you a fashionista? What clothing tips do you have for someone losing weight?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Love: Luck be a lady

Things are about to get crazy.

After bringing back WIAW this week, I thought I'd revive one of my old features - Friday Love. It might be just for today ... or it might not. We'll see.But since it's been so long, let's skip the introductions and get on with it.

Food. There's this not-so-tiny Greek restaurant not too far from our house that Mark and I love to frequent. I love the exuberant owner and his tzatziki sauce, and Mark loves the braised lamb over noodles with a starter of avgolemono soup. We'd probably eat there every week but since we try to rotate our dining out, we usually only make it once a month or so. In an effort to tide us over, I brought a little bit of Greek to us.

Homemade Avgolemono Soup and Greek-inspired grilled cheese.

I made the soup based on this recipe, subbing rice for orzo, and it turned out OK. I think I blended the eggs and lemon juice too much and it ended up a bit, umm, frothy.

The grilled cheese, though ... yeah. Wow. I had some white (gasp!) pitas in the freezer so I started with those. I added a slice of Provolone (broken in half, one for each side of the inside), raw spinach, diced tomatoes, chopped roasted red pepper and feta. I put it in the skillet and used the tea kettle, bottom covered in foil, to smash it down. Flip and smash some more. Very good.

Nutritionals on the sandwich: 181 calories, 8 grams fat, 12 grams protein and 15 carbs.

 Fitness. When I made my Martian half-marathon plan, I was very set on one thing: I only wanted to run three days a week. I didn't want the pressure of a fourth run as sometimes the mornings can be a bit hectic. However, with fake winter, my 5K and just a general desire, I have been running 4 days a week. And, I have to say, I'm quite happy about it. It just feels good to be running more - mentally, at least.

Life. I feel like such a lucky girl. And not just because I'm mom to the most beautiful boy on the planet. Come on, I'm used to that by now.  No, yesterday I not only won a giveaway on GU Energy Lab's Facebook page (I'll be receiving some of the new Roctane drink mix!) but I came home to find a sample from Procter & Gamble. And by sample, I mean a new full-size (desperately needed) Cover Girl mascara.

I often sign up for free samples that I see on Money Saving Mom so I'm assuming that's where it came from but I'm going to pretend the Beauty Fairy was pushing me to actually put effort into my appearance.

(Read effort as haphazardly apply minimal makeup in the car while parked in the parking lot of your office building.)

What are you loving lately?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A lesson in sacrifice ... or why I'm not giving up shit for lent

I grew up in a Catholic family, attended Catholic school and lived (I swear) in one of the most Catholic cities in the country.
From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, my life was ruled by sacrifice, Boy Scout fish fries, the Stations of the Cross and the desire for what I couldn't have -- sausage links and candy. Or pop. Or hitting my brother. Or ice cream. Or whatever else I had decided to give up for Lent that year.

Even as my religious "practice" waned, I still kept up the ritual of giving up something for Lent. I liked to think it made me a better person and that I was doing it for the glory of God. But let's get real. I was doing it for myself as a way to kick off a diet or renew my healthy lifestyle.

For 40 days, I would give up soda or potatoes or candy and then, on Easter Sunday, I'd hit up the brunch buffet at Granite City and eat my weight in Carmel Rolls and Reggiano Hashbrowns. Total fail on sacrificing for God and total fail on improving my eating because all I was learning was to restrict and purge.

When I realized that Ash Wednesday was this week (thanks to my college roommate for reminding me/giving me an "Oh shit" moment), my immediate reaction was to start thinking of what to "sacrifice" this year.

Enter completely non-nonsensical thoughts of a sleep-deprived mother.

I could give up ice cream, especially the three bites of Mark's I eat each night, because Lord knows I don't need it. Wait. I could give up Diet Coke because that devil aspartame is going to make me need teeth whitening. Or what about macaroni cheese - kryptonite to my carb-loving self. It tasted way too good at the hospital the other day and it's really too easy to make shells and cheese for a side dish. Hot chocolate. Maybe hot chocolate? I know there are way more calories in that cup from the vending machine even if it is teeny tiny.

And then I realized that the only person/deity I was thinking of was myself. If I really wanted to do something for God, I would move my long runs to Saturday and go to church on Sunday. Or at least think about going to church and not running. (Don't even get me started on the notion that it would be me pretending to be pious for a whole 40 days.)

On the flip side, if I want to do something for myself - if I want to make positive changes - I don't need to wait for the black cross on my forehead for the go-ahead. I can do it any time as long as I set my mind to it.

Lent - what are your thoughts?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WIAW: A brief return

I felt like I had finally made my peace with the scale. After nearly eight months of trying to get my pre-baby body back, I resigned myself to the idea that maybe, just maybe, my post-baby happy weight would be more like 129-130 than the 125 I wanted it to be and definitely not the 122 I saw on the scale just shortly before the big news.

Then something happened. I lost two pounds. To say I was excited would be an understatement. I was filled with new energy and new hope that the number 125 would be in my future. My resolve to eat well was renewed, and I recorded my first 20-mile week.

But just as the excitement set in, something happened. This time, not so good. I stepped on the scale yesterday morning and I was up 3 pounds. I know there is no way I gained 3 pounds and it's likely a fluke but it didn't do much for my mood, which was already dampened because my run got rained out.

In an effort to not let the scale (or Fat Tuesday) set me back, I thought I would bring back What I Ate Wednesday just for fun. 



Grits with cheese and dippy egg

Unpictured: Pre-breakfast snack of Fiber One 90-cal bar

Mid-morning snack


Fat-free hot chocolate spiked with instant coffee



"Sushi" salad - Bibb lettuce topped with diced cucumbers, matchstick carrots, cubed avocado, faux crab and a brown rice mixture made with brown rice (duh!), 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon wasabi and a couple drops of Sriracha.

Afternoon snacks

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Apple, Chips Ahoy 100-calorie pack, 1 ounce cashews and Weight Watchers smoked mozzarella string cheese



The Deen Brothers Lighter Slow Cooked Stuffed Pepper (On a side note, this recipe was good but not great. I loved the ease of preparation and nutritional stats but it was definitely lacking in flavor. I would add more salt or even better, season salt, black pepper and maybe some Italian herbs.)

Unpictured: Post-run fat-free fudge pop

How did you fare on Fat Tuesday? I would like to note that I passed up King Cake, brownies, pasta leftover from a luncheon in another department and french bread. Go me!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hello, MOTOACTV: a product review

Anyone who knows me knows that I love my Garmin Forerunner 305.

Well, loved my Garmin.

After nearly 2 years, my favorite training tool was beginning to fail me. It was taking forever to find a satellite. It was taking forever to load workouts - if they even loaded. It was crashing my laptop at any chance it got.

I tried to make things better between us. I  spoke with customer service (the Garmin folks are great!) and got the crash issue resolved. For a short period. I ordered a new USB connector thingy (technical term) from Amazon but it only made it apparent that I was going to need a new cradle - if not a new Garmin. I was scouting discounts and trying to draft a creative, witty proposal to Mark on why we needed to forgo a new dresser for a new Garmin when I got an email.

A very interesting email.

The folks at MOTOACTV had seen my story on Yahoo! and read on this here blog that I had just registered for the Martian half-marathon. I have newish shoes and a pair of tights to get me through training but what I didn't have was a MOTOACTV.

The MOTOACTV, I was told, is an all-in-one GPS fitness tracker and smart music player. It's  the perfect companion to help motivate, track, and share workouts. The device features running, biking, elliptical and stair climbing settings. (No swimming for you, you crazy triathletes.)

After some reading and wallet soul searching, I decided that I had nothing to lose by accepting the generous offer. Within a few short days, I was sent an 8GB MOTOACTV with several accessories - the wrist band, the arm band and the bike mount.

It took me a few days to get everything set up and ready (I got it just before Mark went away for the weekend) but soon enough we were off and running ... literally.

Like any relationship, it took us some time to get to know each other but after two weeks and 10 or so runs, I'm ready to share my thoughts.

Oh, you're just a dainty little thing. Weighing in at 35 grams, the MOTOACTV feels significantly lighter than the hefty Garmin Forerunner 305. It is, however, just as big dimension-wise.

Like an iPhone but not
. Once I got past just how light this thing was, I was enamored with the display. It was like switching from an old Nokia phone to an iPhone. The display is bright and colorful, and the menus are accessed through touch. I felt like the menus made sense, and it was easy to navigate the system to find what I wanted. Also, the color display makes it much easier to see things like pace, mileage, etc. even in the early morning hours. The only downside is that in the winter you will need to take off a glove or have those fancy tech gloves to get to what you want.

Locating, locating, locating. One of my complaints with the Forerunner 305 was just how long it took to find a satellite. It seemed like forever. And by forever, I mean at least a tenth of a mile walk and sometimes longer. The MOTOACTV has a countdown timer to show you how long it takes. For me it's never been longer than 30 seconds and is usually in the 10 second range.

Glitches. I've had a couple times where things weren't working just right. One of my first times out with the MOTOACTV, I hit something and the display changed. I could no longer see my pace, which was crucial as I was doing a tempo run. Another time, the pace showed just "---" as if I lost satellite but I hadn't. I knew that because it showed a changing distance. When I sync'ed the workout, it showed paces for those splits.

End workout. Damnit! I am not a non-stop runner. We pause for poopy breaks (Denali, not me) and intersections and checks on Miles. You can use an autopause setting (which I hated - took 5+ seconds to pause and didn't restart automatically) or you can manually stop-start the watch by pressing a button at the top of the device. However, when doing so it's too easy to accidentally swipe the screen and end the workout. Seriously, my long run on Sunday was in three parts because of it. It would be nice if there was an "are you sure" feature after pressing end workout.

Sync it to me. After having issues syncing my Garmin, I think the sync feature might be my favorite. Once you end your workout and walk in your house, with a few finger strokes, you can sync your workout via a wifi connection. The information is uploaded to your MOTOACTV profile, where you can look at splits, route and other features.

Music to my ears. While I'm not one to listen to music during most runs because I have the stroller, it is nice to have a playlist to zone out to. MOTOACTV users can sync their music via iTunes (or other things I'm sure) directly to the device, eliminating the need for a Garmin and an iPod. You can sync as much as you want but I created a playlist in iTunes and uploaded just that because 8GB fills up fast when you factor in the space the maps require.

The cool thing about the music feature isn't that you can listen to "Bye Bye Bye" during your 5K - it's that you can see how fast you ran to that song during your 5K when you sync your workout.

For instance, at my recent 5K, I ran my fastest splits to "Bye Bye Bye" and "Jai Ho" and my slowest to "Set Fire to the Rain" and "ET." If I need to run fast, I should listen to the first two. If I need to keep pace in check, Adele's my girl.

Accessorize your life. When you get the MOTOACTV, you get the MOTOACTV - and that's it. The wristband, the armband, bike mount - those are all extra. One could easily spend the equivalent of the device on the accessories, especially if you get the wireless headphones and chest strap (want this!). Sure, it's nice to get just what you need but this girl likes options and options are expensive.

Final thoughts. I like the MOTOACTV. And not just because I got it for free. You see, we've become buddies and I can't imagine going back to the Garmin. Unless I get into triathlons but that's a whole other story ...

Disclosure: The MOTOACTV and accessories were given to me but all opinions are my own.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bottom's up

Sometimes you just need a beer.

Served in a glass from your first 5K ... of course.

Sometimes a baby cries for his mom from the moment he gets up till the moment he goes to bed - even if said mom needs to brush teeth and make dinner.

Sometimes a toilet leaks ... and gets your running shoes wet.

Sometimes the weather is absolutely beautiful ... on your rest day.

Sometimes there's rain and snow forecast for your run day.

Sometimes the kitchen faucet doesn't work and when you buy a replacement it doesn't fit.

Sometimes, after a second trip to Menards, a far pricier model and three hours of paid labor later, you have drinking water that doesn't come out of a sprayer.

Sometimes you forget to buy chicken for your chicken lasagna rollups. 

Sometimes you get the dang "Laugh and Learn Puppy" song stuck in your head ... for the entire day, leaving you singing "I love you/I love you/Morning, noon and night."

Sometimes your co-workers don't appreciate karaoke hour sponsored by Fisher Price.

Sometimes a hungry bug bites you.

Sometimes you feel like a chunk even though your pants size indicates otherwise.

Sometimes you run out of calories for the day and don't give a flying fig leaf.

Yeah. Sometimes you just need a beer.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ten(tatively) scheduled

It couldn't be right. It just couldn't. My training schedule, you see, said I was supposed to run 10 miles today.

 Ten miles.

Ten miles with eight weeks still to go till the Martian.

Who the hell makes a half-marathon training plan where you run double digit runs so early?




 That would be me.

I'm fairly certain I designed the plan to include as many double-digit runs as possible because I do best at 13.1 with higher mileage. Either that or I'm a masochist.

This morning, I was betting on the latter.

Nonetheless, I got myself all gussied up in Pearl Izumi tights, a C9 Target top and Nike quarter-zip -- I am loyal to no one -- and tried to get my head in the game. I thought of Megan and Lee who had already fit in (and rocked) their long runs for the weekend. I reminded myself that for 6 miles (the first four would be as a family) I would get to be all by myself. And I did some fuzzy math and realized that 10 miles would finally get me the elusive 20-mile week that I haven't seen in forever.

So I went.

The first four miles weren't too bad. Good, actually. And by good, I mean that I ran too fast with Mark and didn't have to push the stroller. It was a bit cold - 25ish - but there was little wind and some sunshine.

After Mark, Miles and Denali left me, I headed down a main road to catch a section of the Rivergreenway that I don't get to go down much. It was so nice to wind through the woods along the river and feel completely alone. To be somewhere that didn't feel so familiar.

I could have ran the back end of the park where I run a lot but opted to turn off at a trailhead and run through some neighborhoods that would be considered, maybe, urban. I just kept an eye on my distance on the MOTOACTV and winded through as necessary to build mileage. The one thing I didn't want to do was have to run past the house and loop around because I knew if I did, there'd be no loop.

(Did you catch that part about the MOTOACTV? Stay tuned for a review.)

I finished up at 10.02 with a 10:02 pace, strangely enough. And then I had a bowl of oatmeal with pecan butter and dried apricots. Definitely a win-win situation.

How did your weekend shape up?