Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Making It Work

It's amazing what a difference a few days make. Instead of wallowing in my misery, I decided to do something. Change comes from action, right? I had accumulated a ton of points from Christmas shopping through My Points, and I decided I was going to cash them in for Amazon gift cards and get myself a Fitbit. Because I am home so much since it's the slow season for school photography, I've been sitting around, A LOT, playing Candy Crush and watching marathons of just about anything on Bravo. Inactivity does not help with the process of weight loss, nor the funky gray cloud that seemed to envelop me. A Fitbit would help motivate me to move and be active.

With my gift cards, I also got a Jackie Warner exercise DVD, a box of Atkins protein bars and 8 boxes of South Beach protein bars. All for just $14 of MY money!!!

I reached out to friends who I knew had a Fitbit, as well. Having a partner in an endeavor keeps me honest and inspired. A little friendly competition helps get my engine going, as well! I asked Meredith, my team mate from From Fat To Finish Line about her experience with the device and she suggested 10,000 steps a day for me and 15,000 for her. Since I mentioned how excited I was about getting the Fitbit, my friend and team mate Carly has also jumped on board!! Let me tell you, 10,000 steps is a lot. A solid hour of walking/running, getting me through 4+ miles, isn't equal to 10,000 steps! So, suffice it to say, being home, accumulating steps has been keeping my house clean! Any excuse and tactic needed to get some steps in, I'm doing it. I have plenty of spare time, so taking several trips to get the laundry up and down the stairs and away in drawers/closets is not a big deal. It may seem crazy to an outsider looking in, but they don't have to get on the scale for me or wear my jeans!

So I've had my Fitbit Zip ($51.99 on Amazon!) since the 27th, and I've hit my 10,000 step goal every day and two days I've managed to surpass 15,000! To achieve that yesterday, I walked in my neighborhood fast for 55 minutes and took Molly for a half hour walk (a slow 1.3 miles with her sniffing every pile of poop and blade of grass she could get to), along with my regular activity of the day. Not terribly taxing to achieve it, but on Sunday, after pacing for an hour while watching the Oscars to hit 15k, my legs felt like I ran a half marathon!

The Fitbit website is motivating as well. You receive badges for hitting goals in 5,000 step increments. It has graphs and charts and it ranks your friends 1st through 10th place in steps for the week. For those of you that like to keep track of everything, the Fitbit will fulfill your needs. There is even a version of the Fitbit that tracks your sleep and stair climbing total. Gee, this sounds like a review! I'm just excited about it! Let me know if you have one and we can support each other! I'm either Linda Kuil or Linda K. on the website.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Floundering

So, November's race had me down. Finishing last hit hard. Then the holidays hit me even harder. Oh, and then winter had to sucker punch me when I was down. I know it's been insane across the country, but I've only lived on Long Island (except for attending college in Upstate NY) and I have never EVER experienced a worse winter! It's not only been frigid, but we've had umpteen snow storms to boot. Last year we had one major storm that hit the day after Christmas, while everyone was on vacation. This year my kids have used FOUR snow days, along with a couple late arrivals and early dismissals.

While snow shoveling has been a great workout for me, we were running out of places to put the shit!


I've only run 2 races since the half. Charlie, my daughter and myself did a 5k toy trot that was a lot of fun. It was Chelsea's first race and she did great for only having run 1 time before. It was fun to dress up and get together with my Island Running Girls.

Her first race mile!

such CUTE mile markers!

The other race was a 4 mile prediction run put on by my running store, Sayville Running Company, on December 14th. So with a prediction run, you figure out how long it would take you to finish the course and write it down on a slip of paper. You run tech-free and your finishing place is determined by how close your prediction came to your time. The course was side streets that were covered in some ice and snow, so I took it slow, and I finished last, again. That didn't bother me. My knee didn't hurt while I was running and I didn't fall on my fat ass in those conditions, so in my opinion it was a WIN! AND I came in 9th place, so I won a prize! I'll definitely do another prediction run. It was just fun and a good time hanging out at the store with other runners.

My FIRST snow run!


A hard winter, over eating during the holidays and a bummish knee has my weight up. I'm in such a funk. On the last Sunday in January I did a treadmill run at the gym that just did my knee in. I took off almost 4 weeks. I've run/walked a couple of times in the last week and I'm so discouraged. I'm so slow. I'm running about a half a mile at a time to ease myself in. There's no pain during my runs, but a tightness afterwards. I definitely have to get my ass back to the store for new shoes. I have $175 in gift cards from Christmas burning a hole in my pocket, but I just haven't got there. I feel like I can't get out of my own way, running or otherwise.

At the beginning of this month my gym membership was up. I've scoped out a couple other gyms. One had such an amazing deal of $6.95/month I just HAD to check it out. The one perk to this gym was that it offered classes, which my gym did not. Would you believe that that $7 got you a total of 10 hours a week to workout? Yeah. I could go from 11 am to 4 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays every week, ONLY. I actually guffawed! There were other more inclusive offers with two and three year contracts, which just wasn't for me.

Without the gym, I'm struggling to formulate a plan. I have a plethora of workout DVDs (including Insanity!) to choose from and I also got a kettle bell for Christmas. There's no excuse to not workout an hour a day, especially since I have no work at this time, which kind of piled more onto my already full funk plate. Money is tight.

Winging it really isn't working. I need to get a calendar just for my workouts and plot the thing out. With gift cards from all of my shopping through My Points, I have a Fitbit Zip coming tomorrow (!) along with a Jackie Warner exercise DVD. February is almost over and I can not WAIT to turn the page and get my mojo back for March. 22 more days until SPRING!!!!

QUESTION: Has this winter weather crap hit YOU as hard?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hybernation

That's what it feels like. I feel like a bear that ate to prepare for the winter and this weather the northeast has been experiencing has really turned me into a home-body, not wanting to do much of anything, let alone run out there. It all started back in November when Charlie and I ran the Festival of Lights half in Brooklyn. The weather was atrocious. Supposedly it was 24*, but with the wind that was whipping off the East River, I believe it was -100* at times. The whipping wind brought up sprays from the river that instantly turned into ice crystals that pelted our faces and created an icy slick on the course. The race was 2 loops and we turned around between miles 2 and 3 to head back to the start where we would then run out to the turn around at mile 9 to run 4 miles to the finish. Many people hit that turn around, came into the start and threw in the towel. We felt okay at the time and decided to stick it out.

The course was beautiful with views of the Manhattan skyline heading to the turn around and the finish.


Well, once we made the decision to continue, it was do or die. If you went out you really had no choice but to trudge back in. It was torture. Starting out at an 11:00-ish pace slowed down to a snail's crawl, especially the last 4 miles with the wind pushing us back. Cramps in my left calf had me at a dead stand still at times and at mile 12, I had no idea how I would finish. We were out there, all alone. Charlie was a prince and just tried to keep me going. I had no idea he was struggling just as much as I was. He held it all in knowing if he demonstrated just a bit of weakness I would just lose my shit.

all alone with the bridge and that fucking wind


We ran under the Verrazano Bridge 4 times.

The course limit was 3 hours. Since my slowest half was 2:44, I thought we were covered. Add the horrific conditions to the mix and our time was hurting. That last mile took forever. Literally forever. Finally seeing the finish line about a third of a mile away I saw my girls from my running club, Island Girls Running. They all stayed to cheer us in. My friend Danielle ran out to run us in the last quarter mile. That did me in. I started to sob. Somehow I managed to pick up the pace to just get it the fuck done. 3:02. Charlie fell to the ground when we crossed the mat. We got him up, got our medals and a couple of useless reflective blankets, since the wind made them impossible to wear. They just turned into frigging parachutes. IGR took a finish photo and we all ran to our cars. Thankfully we were parked (illegally) not even a block from the finish. 

We got to the car and Charlie lost it. Seeing him cry made me realize just how much he pushed himself to get me through this ordeal. He was in pain, both physically and mentally. He told me how proud he was of me for persevering and finishing that race, when he was with me every step of the way, grinding through it too. I couldn't have done that without him. We crossed that finish line dead last. Our first time ever coming in last. It hurt. It still hurts. However, we could have been those people that didn't finish. We can be immensely proud that we didn't give in and give up.

Can you see our teary eyes? This is after we managed to compose ourselves and commit to the hour and a half drive home. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Fusion Juicer Review

When my friend contacted me about the possibility of reviewing a juicer for my blog, I jumped at the opportunity. You see, I USED to have a juicer, way back when. I hated it. It was such an obnoxious contraption to clean and I didn't have a dishwasher and so "ain't nobody got time for that!" Ever since I sold the thing at my first yard sale to raise money for Relay For Life, Chelsea's been just heartbroken. Okay. Not really. She just really wanted to try it, and so here was my opportunity to turn that frown upside down!

Isn't it pretty?


It was like Christmas day opening the box. I expected the juicer, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a small blender as well! Along with both appliances, there was the instruction pamphlet, a booklet with a 6 week program to help improve your health through juicing, healthier eating and exercise, and a 190 page, full color "raw remedies and juice recipes" book, which even has recipes that include using the pulp by-product of juicing! NO WASTE! I was a little apprehensive about the machine, but once I actually read the step-by-step instructions on how to take it apart and put it back together, my fears were alleviated. So simple.

So now it was time to actually use the new toy. I bought a 5 pound bag of tangerines and enlisted the help of my husband to peel all those little suckers. It was fun having him in the kitchen with me (to boss him around...hehehe...). The couple that juices together...? We just peeled them and broke them in half, which probably wasn't necessary. We didn't pit them, however, and an occasional pit did fly out the chute. Wasn't prepared for that! I guess you should keep the plunger in the chute while grabbing more produce! Lesson learned!




The tangerines were on sale for $1.99 and when they were all "processed" we had almost 4 cups of juice. When you think about it, a half gallon of refrigerated orange juice can cost $2 or more on sale. Yes, I only got half the juice, but 1). it was TANGERINE juice (cant compare the two!) and 2). it was as fresh a glass of juice you can get unless I was in the grove itself and *just* picked the buggers myself.


I had to get another receptacle to catch more juice!

The best part? It was delicious!! Even the boy had some, and he's not a citrus fan! Clean up was pretty easy. I just scraped all of the pulp into the garbage, (you can line the catch with a plastic bag then just toss the bag, making clean up even easier!), washed the top and bottom with warm soapy water and then tackled the blade. Little did I know that having a kitchen brush would be the key to enjoying a juicer. Under running water I just used the brush to get all of the little bits out of the blade and crevices. Easy peasy.

After using the juicer I decided to try the personal sized blender. I already have one of those bullet kind, but I figured I'd give this one a go. I believe the purpose of the pair is to juice and then possibly make a smoothie with the juice and other ingredients that can NOT go in the juicer, like bananas. I make a panzanella salad and the vinaigrette is so much better blended than not, so I tried that.


It's just some olive oil, vinegar, dijon mustard and garlic.
 

Done!

The blender makes it into a creamy dressing, but the garlic gets mixed well throughout so every bite is infused with a little bit of heaven! As you can see, the Fusion Booster has the capacity to make a lot of dressing!

I've used both appliances several more times. I bought a pomegranate for the first time and had the pleasure of getting all of the itty bitty flavor pods out for this recipe.

Pomegranate, apple, grapes, carrots and a bit of ginger! Pretty purple!

I also bought a bottle of Pom Cherry Pomegranate juice, and after a taste test of the two, Chelsea said she preferred mine! High praise! I also used the blender to puree my crushed tomatoes for my Tuscan white bean and sausage soup, since my son doesn't like tomatoes. Well, when they're actually part of the broth, I don't have to pick them out!

With them blended like this, they add so much flavor to the soup AND the boy's getting lots of nutrition!!

One more recipe: apples, carrots and ginger. Jen said it's her favorite juice and now it's my son's, too! Amazing!

This much food...

...makes this much juice.

All in all, I loved the juicer! Yes, it takes a large quantity of food to make just a few glasses of juice, and it's a bit of work with prepping the produce, but if I can get my 17 year old son to ingest a fruit or a vegetable or, *GASP*, BOTH, then it's worth it! I would definitely recommend it for people with children. They think they're having a fresh glass of apple juice and you're able to sneak in a veggie or two. No harm in that!

If you're interested in getting your own Fusion Juicer, head to www.fusionjuicerspecial.com, where you can save $20 off the retail price, PLUS get the bonus Fusion Booster blender, PLUS free shipping, AND choose your color!! You have your choice of black, white or red! I LOVE RED! I also love the fact that it's five payments of $19.99, so you can charge it and not get hit with a big punch on your bill. Then you can shop more ;)

(As with any  review, these are my honest opinions and I have not been compensated for them.)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Back To The Lab Again...

Gosh, I really suck at this, huh? I lost two readers, most likely because there's NOTHING for them to read! It makes me sad, since I only had 113 followers, and now I'm at 111. Like I need something else to bring me down.

I'm just going to put it out there now and get it out in the open. I weighed in at 169.8 this morning, and that's probably only due to the fact that I woke up to pee every hour and a half last night. The 6 flights of stairs I climbed to get back and forth to the bathroom helped burn some calories. I told my friends I've been eating like I'm going to the electric chair, and my working out and running have been half-assed at best. It makes no sense since I've been working less and have MORE time on my hands. (Well, being constantly in the house without distractions definitely doesn't help my eating out of boredom, but it's still not an excuse.) I had two bags of Halloween candy left over, which I usually save for the kids' Christmas stockings, but I managed to polish off a bag of "fun-sized" Kit Kats all by myself. Nobody knows this because they were kept in the basement for me to "sneak" them while doing laundry. A bag of fun-sized candy makes me blimp-sized. The cookies and cream Hershey bars will sit there, I swear. Note to self: next year only buy Jolly Ranchers!

Working out and running have suffered because of my weight gain. I ran to pick up my husband's van from the shop, and two miles managed to frig up my knee. It's not horrific, and I managed an okay 7.25 mile run on it, but it concerns me. Babying an injury only opens yourself up to jacking another part of your body up, and Charlie and I have the Festival of Lights Half Marathon in Brooklyn (a.k.a. the Chanukah Half!) on the 24th. It won't be pretty.

In the last six weeks I've had some bright spots. The Diva Half was on 10/6 and I managed to beat May's half time, but not P.R. If you don't put in the work, you can't expect more. However, I still believe, in my experience, it's the most fun you can have running 13.1 miles, and the ginormous medal is the cherry on top.

I also managed to get a shirt that fit me this year. The Diva shirts run so damn small!!

The best part of running the Diva, though, was finally meeting most of my fellow running chicks from Island Girls Running Club. The group started because it seems that Island Running, another Facebook page, had been semi-hijacked by all of the girls' posts. (Thankfully my friend Gigi invited me to the group!) So, the night before the half, my longtime friend Lynda graciously hosted a pasta dinner at her house, and we had a great time swapping running stories and hearing about a couple of the girls' NYC Marathon training experiences.

flip-flops, *sigh*

This was just a handful of the twenty or so ladies that ran the half. It was great seeing all of the familiar faces on the course, high-fiving and hugging every one of them. It was a definite morale boost! Afterwards, an after-party was arranged and we got to "rehydrate" and refuel. Alicia made slutty brownies- that biatch! LOL Iced, no less!!! My spinach dip was heavenly on a fresh bagel! (See my problem!!!)


We'll have IGR running shirts by December!!

After the Diva, I didn't do much. I worked a lot, which has helped with all the damn expenses that keep hitting us, like the first heating oil delivery, dance costume deposits, Charlie's senior yearbook, etc. I definitely can't race as much as I would like to! However, I was SO looking forward to the Dash to the Finish Line 5k the day before the NYC Marathon. Jen from my From Fat To Finish Line Ragnar Relay team was running it too! We had registered for 2012, but due to Hurricane Sandy, it was cancelled. All I had to do for this one was take the LIRR into Penn Station and walk to the start line, which was at the United Nations. It was the BEST 5k ever. I don't know if y'all know this, ;) , but I L-O-V-E the city, and this course passed some iconic landmarks and finished in CENTRAL PARK! We ran down 42nd St., chatting away, passing Grand Central Station, NY Public Library, Radio City Music Hall, The Plaza Hotel's Oak Room bar (where Charlie and I toasted our engagement), Grand Army Plaza and finally, finishing at the NYC Marathon's finish line in Central Park! It flew by! Jen and I will definitely be working out a plan to run together again. Since she's in Jersey, we live too damn close not to see each other more often!


Thankfully Jen has a smart phone! This is her pic, complete with that cool course map added to the image! Thanks, Jen!! 

Unfortunately Jen couldn't stay long after the race, but we had a great walk/talk back to Port Authority, complete with her saving my life from traffic a couple of times! Distracted walking- guilty! I wandered around a bit by myself on the way back to Penn Station, doing some browsing, and stopping into the Cake Boss Cafe for some over-priced rugelach. Looking forward to my next trip in!

That brings me to today. My hometown, which is all of five minutes away, held the 1st annual Beautiful Bay 10k. Since I'm running the half next week and can't do all the races, I decided to volunteer for the very first time. I had such a great time! I got to the registration area at 6:45 am and haned out bibs to pre-registered runners. I got to meet Jennifer and Katie from IGR, finally, I saw one of Chelsea's elementary school teachers and I even bumped into an old high school friend. After that, 5 of us squished in a car, hopped in front of the lead police car, and one by one were dropped off at the mile markers, stop-watches in hand, to yell out splits. I basically laid claim to mile 5, the mile I thought would be the best. I loved cheering on the runners as they came into view, shouting out their times as they hit the mark. The lead pack of guys showed up at 25:00!! First place male finished in 30:42.7! Holy sh*t! Did I mention there was a $1,000 cash prize for first place? I will be running this race next year. Being close to home and the water views are worth it.

The only things missing from my volunteer experience was Charlie and a cow bell! Oh, and I wish I had made a sign!! There really wasn't that many spectators out, since it was a pretty chilly 46* with a bit of a drizzle before the start. I heard from a few runners we were the loudest. I'm not surprised. I know what it's like to be on the other side, needing the boost, especially towards the end! Now I know what I can get my kids to help with to fulfill their volunteer hours requirement! It would be nice to have them out there when we're actually running a race. Getting handed a cup of water from one of them would make a nice photo op!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Catching Up In Pictures

I spent August 12-September 6 at grand jury duty. I made some great friends and we started a walking group on our lunch break. After sitting around a few hours, with some of the intense testimony weighing heavy on us, it was SO nice to get out into the sunshine and fresh air and purge some of that tension.
 
You might recognize my friend Carly from our From Fat to Finish Line team! We had our own little summer challenge going after she mentioned she was doing one with her coworkers. Carly helped push me and I shed a few pounds, but she did SO fantastic coming in 2nd place at work, losing 12%+ of her body weight!! All of her hard work paid off at her last half marathon on 9/21, setting a PR and getting some race bling, even after having a stomach bug and strep throat the week prior!! 

Charlie and I ran our 4th Smith Point Bridge 5k on September 7th. It started out chilly but quickly warmed up and made the bastard hill of a bridge even more challenging. We managed to PR that course, though, with a 30:07 finish!


Some of this amazing stuff made it into my belly (and onto my gut!)!!


On September 14th I ran the Bellport Run or Walk It Out 5k along with my friend Irene and placed!! Ok, there was only 17 runners, but I finished 1st in my age group (there were no other runners in my A.G.! LOL!) and 3rd female finisher overall!! Only a 15 and 17 year old beat me. Not bad for 40-frickin'-2!!!


My bling from 9/14!


Note to self- STOP TAKING FREE WATER BOTTLES AT RACES! I think 12 are pictured here, which doesn't include the few I gave to Charlie for work and the ones rolling around on the floor of my car!

On Monday, I locked my keys in the car after going to load the groceries. I had to run/walk the half mile home to get my frozen food in the house and call a locksmith. I wonder if anyone got any pictures of THAT while I was running down a main highway, crossing the railroad tracks...

Last night was the expo for the LI Diva Half and I got to meet Ali Vincent, the first female contestant to win Biggest Loser! She's running the half tomorrow, as well, and was trying to convince Tara Costa to run with the girls. Hope she was successful so maybe I'll finally get my pic with Tara!


This will be in my sweaty little hands by 11 am tomorrow!!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A New Lease On Life

I can NOT believe it has been four years since the day I decided to start caring about myself again. I spent most of my life, from I'd say the age of 12, on a "diet," times where I restricted what I ate, how much I ate and tried to increase my activity. I'll never forget getting so upset with my mom because she wouldn't buy me Richard Simmons' Deal-A-Meal. I cried and cried, so she broke down and bought it. That was 10th grade, and my Sweatin' to the Oldies tapes were Betamax. Of course she must have known it was only going to work so long as I stuck to it, and up until then, I had never stuck to anything.

June, 1989


I always had the best intentions of losing weight over summer vacation. One summer I didn't eat a single cookie for 6 weeks. I remember actually marking my calendar. It worked and I got a lot of attention at marching band camp that year, (If you don't know by now, I was an extreme geek.), but who can live without COOKIES? The weight came back and then some.

Fast forward to my first year of college where all I had to do was show my meal card and the cafeteria was an endless smorgasbord. The "Freshman Fifteen" became more like "Freshman Forty." I mean, who can pass up on tortilla chips smothered in pumps and pumps of brightly colored orange cheesy goodness? And they had the most amazing selection of cookies the size of your hand and blondies and brownies to wrap in a napkin to take with you to class, because I'm sure I didn't have enough to eat at the actual meal.

The Romero 7

Then I was a bridesmaid at my sister's wedding my sophomore year in 1991and I wanted to lose weight to look nice in my dress, and also because I had asked my brother-in-law's friend Charlie to be my "+1." Just like the dining hall had enough crappy food to clog your carotids, they had just as many healthy selections, plus there was a fantastic gym and indoor and outdoor tracks at my disposal. I would head to the health center every Saturday morning before my shift at the campus center to weigh in (and grab a handful of free condoms, but that's a story for another time). I could count on losing almost 3 pounds every week when I was diligent in my efforts. I did well and got down to a size 16.

This was all going on between January, when I asked Charlie to be my date, and the wedding, which was March 17th. Lo and behold, Charlie and I were writing back and forth and talking on the phone. I would come home for a fitting and I'd see him at my sister's apartment. We became really good friends and things blossomed, and then so did I. It was like I finally got someone to like me and I didn't need to care anymore. While it is extremely lovely that Charlie has never cared about my size, it also wasn't a good thing, either. I didn't care myself.

I was a fat bride. I had a 3 year engagement and it STILL wasn't enough time to lose the weight! I hate looking at my wedding pictures, even though it was one of the best days of my life. I was marrying my best friend and all I can see is how fat I was. It makes me sad, but I can't change it. Charlie looked handsome though in his black tails, though.

9/17/95


We got pregnant three months after we were married and I had both of my kids before our third anniversary. There were many attempts to lose weight through my years as a wife and stay-at-home mom. I updated my Deal-A-Meal and bought Richard's Food Mover and I'd put the kids in the double stroller every day for a walk. Breakfast and lunch seemed to be easy. While preparing dinner, however, I'd start to graze and then by the time the kids went to bed it would become a feeding frenzy. I think I was under the impression that if no one saw me eat it then it didn't happen. Of course the box of Twinkies would be gone and I'd be gaining weight, but I was in denial. Charlie never called me out on it.

And then back in August of 2009 I had that panic attack in the middle of the night that sure did feel like a heart attack when it was happening. Having a visual in my head of my 13 and 11 year old children going to my funeral was what did it for me. I couldn't live the way I had been anymore. So I started cutting back on all of the cookies and cake and ice cream and candy. I stopped eating late at night. I exercised every day. I never expected perfection. I did my best and if I wanted cookies I'd have a couple and tell myself if I wanted more, I could have more, tomorrow.

Y'all know the rest. Sum and substance (I'm on grand jury duty right now and this is officer lingo): I lost about 50 pounds and then it got harder to continue to lose, so I started using My Fitness Pal on 4/1/11. I hit 75 pounds lost on 7/16/11 and managed to get down to as little as 147 on 10/29/11, where I imagine I was there for all of two days until Halloween hit. I have since bounced around the 150's and even dabbled in the 160's for the beginning of 2013. I am very happy to say that I recommitted myself to better training in regards to running and stricter use of MFP continuously throughout the entire day. After beginning the month of June at 165.8, I am very happy with my 4th anniversary weigh-in this morning.


Down 8 pounds since 6/3 and only +3.8 pounds from my 75 pound loss.


I'm working hard at running faster and I'm being honest with myself about what I'm eating and good things are happening. I celebrated my 4th anniversary with a 4 mile treadmill run in 36:41. I'm excited to see where I'll be come August 17th, 2014!