Why I Run

The other day I had the worst. run. ever.

I started too late in the morning. By the time I hit the road it was already way too humid and hot for me and even though I know better, I also ate before I left so I started cramping right away.

My legs were like lead. Each stride was painful. I even tripped on the sidewalk and almost fell flat on my face.

So I stopped to walk. A lot. And I felt generally bad and I wondered the same thing I get asked a lot by others.

Why do I run?

The simple answer: for exercise. I lost a lot of weight through healthy eating and exercise a couple years ago and I won’t go back to where I was. I just can’t. (I’ve chronicled my weight loss journey on my blog. A good starting point is here.)

But it’s more than that.

I have trouble calling myself a “runner”. Real runners (to me) are fast, fit…they make running look effortless. I don’t “look” like a runner. I’m slow and haven’t ever felt a “runners high”, that kick of endorphins that makes running painless. I’m guess I’m just someone who often goes outside and moves awkwardly in a running like motion!

But I’ve been running all my life.

Starting as an awkward 6th grader in upstate New York, running gave me something to focus on. It wasn’t an expensive sport which was good because we didn’t have much money back then. When I moved to Houston in 8th grade, I continued running on the cross country and track teams, but it never came easy to me and I wasn’t particularly good. Plus – I discovered I had trouble sweating properly to effectively cool my body down, so I struggled with heat exhaustion.

In college and in my early twenties, I stopped running, But after gaining weight in the late 90’s, I started back up again. To get back in shape, I trained to walk a marathon in 1999. I ended up running it.

I ran for awhile after that, but I stopped again. And then a couple of years ago I found myself at the heaviest and unhealthiest point of my life.

So I changed my eating habits and I started from scratch with the help of the Couch to 5K plan. (I can’t speak highly enough about this if you are just getting started!) It was as if I had never run before and I remember literally cussing out loud for the first couple of weeks as I started running for only a minute or two at a time.

But after a month I was able to complete a 5K without stopping and I felt proud. I signed up for several more 5Ks then some 10Ks….even a sprint triathlon last summer!  Running events give me a goal. My goal is always to finish. If I can run faster than I ran the last time, even better. But running a race, for me, is never about winning.

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Warning: I’m about to get a little sappy – bear with me. I’ve got a point and I’ll get to it quickly…I promise!!

Here’s the deal. I come from a long line of those who run away from problems. My biological left us when I was 7. My step-dad also left many years later.

I don’t run away physically, but mentally. My MO is to shut down when things get tough…too painful to deal with.

Running gives me something to run TO. When I make a goal to complete an event, I run towards meeting that goal. Along the way I have little goals: just make it to that corner, just make it to that stop sign (and in a race in Brenham) just make it to the cow! Running, for me, is extremely mental. Working through something physically challenging and seeing it through to the end…finishing, that’s when I get my reward…my “high”.

I’m  a little frustrated right now because during the last nine months I was on assignment and wasn’t able to run that much. So lately it’s been like starting over. Again.

And it’s hard. But it’s healing.

So while my run the other day was bad, I got up a little earlier the next day and ran again. And I didn’t eat before I left. And I did better.

Why do I run?

Crazily pursue this thing that I know I’ll never really be good at….that will always be a challenge and will never come easy?

I think I run because of just that…because it IS hard. And that I’m blessed with air in my lungs and two legs to move me forward.

I’m not graceful, nor fast – but I’m a runner.

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Do you run? What keeps you going? 

 

 

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Salata – The Next Generation Salad Bar (Giveaway)

Salata logo

By now you probably can guess that I love to go out to eat, but finding healthy food options (especially  for a quick bite) can sometimes be challenging.

One of my favorite places? Salata.

So when Salata, The Next Generation Salad Bar, recently sent me a gift card to have lunch on them and gave me another one to give away to a, lucky Still Living The Dream reader, I was beyond thrilled. They have a lot of exciting things going on including summer promotions, new locations and new menu items.

I love that Salata doesn’t charge by the weight. You just go down the line and tell them to add whatever you want… they offer unlimited toppings at one set price of $8. But it’s the type of toppings they offer that keep me coming back.

With nearly 50 ingredient options, there is something for everyone.

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Here’s how I built my salad yesterday:

  1. grapes
  2. strawberries
  3. carrots
  4. black beans
  5. cilantro
  6. cucumbers

For just a small amount more ($2 for chicken and $3 for seafood) you can add protein. I added crab meat and topped my salad with fat-free mango dressing (YUM!) and baked pita chips.

Nutrition info (Weight Watchers Points Plus):

Salata’s 10 dressings, all made in-house, are gluten-free. While they are all delicious – they range in calories/fat content. The best options if you are watching your intake? Fat-free Mango and Fat-free Sun-Dried Tomato. Both are delicious but you’ve got to try the fat-free mango…my absolute favorite which is (wait for it) 0 WW points plus! (based on a 1 ounce serving which is 1 ladle at the restaurant) it gives your salad a light but flavorful punch.

Worth the splurge – Chipotle Ranch…not too bad for 3 PP. Delicious but higher in calories/fat – Balsamic Vinaigrette (4 PP) and Lemon Vinaigrette (4 PP).

For the adventurous types, Salata will mix dressings. Fun combos include Ginger-lime and Chipotle Ranch and Mango and Chipotle Ranch.

Salata also offers broccoli, tomato basil and tortilla soups and tortilla wraps and has great homemade tea and lemon-aid flavors.

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Summer Tea Promotion:

Speaking of tea and lemon-aid, from now until July 31, guests who purchase a half-gallon tea or lemonade variety will receive one free, reusable Salata tumbler – limit one tumbler per purchase per visit while supplies last!

The house-made teas and lemonades are available in premium flavors like peach lemonade and green tea lemonade, or plum cinnamon tea and the portable jugs are available for $8.00 at any Salata location that serves its signature teas and lemonades. To find the Salata nearest you, visit www.salata.com.

Houston-area Peeps: A New Salata Restaurant Location!

Salata, a Houston-based salad-bar restaurant, has more than 30 corporate-owned and franchise locations in Texas and Southern California and has signed agreements to open 40 more by 2016. They are opening their 34th restaurant (19th in Houston) tomorrow, Thursday, June 19th in River Oaks (1440 W. Grey St.). Doors open at 11:00 a.m. and the first 34 guests to dine will receive a free salad or salad wrap and signature drink of their choice!

A Giveaway!

Can’t make it to the Houston River Oaks restaurant for the grand opening and still want  to try Salata for free? One lucky Still Living The Dream reader will get a $15.00 gift card to check-out Salata’s greatness first-hand. Just leave a comment below telling me what ingredients you love in a salad. Easy-peasy! I’ll select a winner at random on Monday, June 23, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

I was given a gift card to enjoy lunch at Salata. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are my own!

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New Grilled Chicken at Chick-fil-A #GrilledLove (Giveaway)

Chick-fil-A is at it again.

Last year I posted nutritional information and a review of Chick-fil-A’s newest salads and wrap which continue to be extremely popular with their customers. I love the healthier menu options which make it easy to eat well while on the go.

Recently they made a big change to their grilled menu.

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Have you heard about this latest news? Maybe not, because they played it all calm and low key and just kind of snuck these in on their menu without doing a lot of promotion. In fact, even though David and his team invited me and my friends to preview the new items for free at the restaurant in our area in Houston on April 7th, they had actually already been serving the items to their customers for several weeks.

Even though they didn’t make a lot of hooplah, make no mistake…this change is HUGE.

Chick-fil-A has introduced a new lineup of grilled chicken entrees that will give the chain one of the most nutritious and expansive grilled menus across the quick-service industry.

On April 14, the Atlanta-based restaurant chain officially rolled-out three new entrees:

  1. Chick-fil-A® Grilled Chicken Sandwich
  2. Chick-fil-A® Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich
  3. Chick-fil-A® Grilled Nuggets

So you’re probably thinking, what? They already have a grilled chicken sandwich and grilled nuggets – what’s the big deal?

Actually, the items they have been serving on their menu for years have been CHAR-GRILLED, not grilled. Chick-fil-A invested seven years of testing and more than $50 million to reinvent its grilled chicken recipe including the creation of a proprietary grill. This grill sears chicken perfectly on cast-iron grates like it was cooked on a backyard grill, only faster.

What does that mean for you and me?

Chick-fil-A’s new chicken filet is 1 1/2 ounces larger than the fried filet. The grilled recipe is moister, juicier and more flavorful than the char-grilled version offered before. Each grilled chicken breast is marinated with a blend of sea salt, lemon, garlic and savory herbs, and cooked on their newly developed proprietary grill.

My friends (girl scout brownie troop moms) and I were all, “that sounds good – but we’ll be the judge of that!” So we all ordered items from the grilled menu and chowed down, Texas style.

Our verdict? Delicious! Every grilled menu item was so tasty and moist…you can actually see sear marks on the chicken. Did you know that some restaurants have a grill mark press they use to simulate sear marks?! Chick-fil-A’s are for real!

chickfila chicken

Check out the details including nutritional facts on the grilled chicken items:

  • Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Sandwich: The Grilled Chicken Sandwich is a boneless, 100 percent pure breast meat chicken, marinated with a special blend of seasonings, served on a new toasted, multigrain bun (not wheat) with green leaf lettuce and tomato and with a side of Honey Roasted BBQ Sauce. Pickles no longer come on the sandwich to reduce the sodium level. It is priced starting at $4.29 with just 320 calories and 5 grams of fat, making it one of the most nutritious grilled entrees in the quick- service industry.
  • Take it up a notch with the Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich with Colby-Jack Cheese and Applewood smoked bacon for $5.49 with 440 calories and 14 grams of fat.
  • Chick-fil-A Grilled Nuggets: Chick-fil-A Grilled Nuggets are pure boneless breast of chicken that come in the four and six-count kid’s meals are also available in eight-count (140 calories, 3 fat grams for $3.79) or 12-count (200 calories, 4.5 fat grams for $5.59) packs. Grilled Nuggets are made without gluten-containing ingredients and are free of trans fats.

I love to get grilled nuggets with honey mustard dipping sauce (one of the better choices at 45 calories a serving) with a side of fruit and a diet lemon aid!

Chick-fil-A’s new grilled chicken recipe is also in the Chick-fil-A Grilled Market Salad, Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap and Chick-fil-A Chicken Salad Sandwich.

As someone who tries to make healthy food choices wherever I go, I appreciate that Chick-fil-A makes their nutritional information easily accessible on their menu boards. You can also go online to find a meal calculator.

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What’s on the horizon for Chick-fil-A:

1. On Feb. 11, Chick-fil-A announced that it will serve chicken raised without antibiotics in all its restaurants nationwide within five years. The move marked the first time a quick service restaurant has committed to a 100 percent “raised without antibiotics” standard for poultry.

2. Iced and hot coffee will be introduced in August 2014. Farmer-direct medium-roast coffee was developed especially for Chick-fil-A by experts at THRIVE Farmers. Both will be available in original and vanilla in 16- and 20-oz. serving sizes.

3. Frappes will be coming late 2014 to early 2015! Sustainably sourced by THRIVE Farmers, they will offer Triple Chocolate and Salted Caramel flavors.

4. Smoothies. Word on the street is Chick-fil-A will come out with pineapple mango, strawberry orange and berry acai smoothies made with real fruit and low-fat yogurt sometime in 2015. All smoothies will be 300 calories or less.

Want to be the judge the new grilled items yourself? How about….A Giveaway!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 group with chikfila cow

My friends and I were treated to dinner at Chick-Fil-A in order to review the new grilled items. No compensation was received and, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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Sprint Tri Success! (Massage Envy Review and Giveaway)

I did it!

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On Monday I finished my first Sprint Triathlon – a 400 meter swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run event.

My friend, Tanya, and I have been training for most of the summer and I knew I still had SO much room for improvement, but I finished strong and…

It. Felt. Great.

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My swim was definitely my weakest link. I knew that going into it. I finished next to last (21st out of 22) in my age group (40-44 year old women). But then I picked up speed during transition and passed many people in the bike portion…moving up to 13th in my age group.

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Then…the run.

It was one of the hottest runs I’ve ever done (it’s still summer in Houston!) and after the 12-mile bike ride my legs felt like bricks. I thought I was running close to 11 minute miles but I found out afterwards that my pace was 9:05! I finished the run in 8th place in my age group…11th place overall.

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I’m hooked! Soon, I’m going to sign up for swim lessons and start working towards my next one.

People have asked me how I prepared. I didn’t follow any certain plan but two things I attribute to my success:

1. Having a friend to work out with. Working towards a common goal with Tanya helped me stay motivated, focused and made the process more fun. I couldn’t have done it without her.

2. Taking it a bit easy during the week before which included an hour-long massage!

I worked out intensely for an extended period of time, so taking it a bit easy the week before helped me regroup. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be treated to a massage by my friends at Massage Envy Spa in Houston. They treated me to a 60-minute massage at one of their 29 Houston locations. It was a great experience.

massage envy

The timing for their invitation was perfect. I had no idea how much I needed it until I was done! I thought I’d be in for a relaxing experience…which it was. But when you arrive at Massage Envy you fill out paperwork that helps them get to know your needs and what areas to work on. When they found out that I was preparing to race, they paired me up with a massage therapist, Melissa, who has experience with stretching and deep muscle massage.

The experience was almost like a combination of yoga, stretching and massage. She worked out the kinks in my shoulders (from leaning over on my bike’s aerobars), released the build-up of lactic acid in my legs and stretched out my muscles. It felt so good. I truly felt like she was helping my body heal and prepare for Monday’s event.

One of the reasons I don’t get massages more often is because of the cost. Massages at most spas can be very expensive but Massage Envy Spa offers member clients a monthly massage  for just $59.00, plus any additional massages for the month at just $39.00. While they offer massage at a discounted price, the visit for me was even better than I had experienced at some spas that charge two or three times the amount.

The environment was relaxing (the tranquil water-fall room was so peaceful!), the staff was knowledgable, experienced and caring (they asked me questions about the race and cheered me on…even the folks who worked at the front desk!) and Melissa (my massage therapist) was a pro.

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Thank you, Melissa, for taking my health in your hands and taking good care of me last week. I know that I was better prepared for my big day because of your help!

Whether you are preparing for an athletic event, have a problem area that needs addressing or just want to relax and nurture your body and soul, I highly recommend Massage Envy Spa. A great day to go to Massage Envy would be September 18, 2013 when the 29 Houston-area Massage Envy Spas will donate $10 from every one-hour massage or facial to the Arthritis Foundation during their Healing Hands for Arthritis Event.

A Giveaway!

How would you like to be treated to a free massage? Thanks to Massage Envy, one Still Living The Dream reader in Houston will score a free 1-hour massage. All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me why you need to relax. One person will be selected at random on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, at 11:59 p.m. CST to receive a massage at one of Massage Envy Spa’s 29 Houston locations.

Do you follow me?

Yes? Well, you rock! For every one below you score an additional entry. (If you don’t already do one or all below then no worries. You can still get extra entries by signing up. Just leave a separate comment for each that you do.

  1. Follow Still Living The Dream on Pinterest
  2. Follow Still Living The Dream on Twitter
  3. Like Still Living The Dream on Facebook
  4. Tweet this: “I need to relax with a free massage from @MassageEnvyHou http://bit.ly/1dGDQva @jpatrickcomm”

Thank you to Massage Envy Spa Houston for sponsoring this review and giveaway and offering me and one Still Living The Dream reader a complimentary massage. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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Help the Arthritis Foundation by Going to Massage Envy!

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Only 6 more days until my sprint triathlon and I’m getting pretty nervous.

I’ve been training pretty hard for the past 6 weeks or so but I still feel like I’m not quite ready. Last Saturday I ran 6-miles and then on Sunday I participated in a pre-race clinic. My friend Tanya and I had the opportunity to swim and run the actual race route. It was good to get a feel for the course, but the swim is going to be harder than I thought. At times, I felt like I was actually swimming backwards as the wind moved the waves over my head!

I think this week I’m going to take it down to just a few mild work-outs and start to rest.

On Thursday, I have an appointment to get a massage at Massage Envy! I’m so excited…it’s the first one I’ve had in more than a year and the perfect way to relax before the big day. I use to get massages every other month or so and they helped with my joint and back pain so much before I lost weight. I know that once I go to Massage Envy on Thursday, I’ll be back again soon….especially on September 18, 2013.

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On that day Massage Envy and the Arthritis Foundation are hosting the third annual Healing Hands for Arthritis, a one-day national event to build awareness and raise funds to fight arthritis. On September 18, 2013, the 29 Houston-area Massage Envy Spas will donate $10 from every one-hour massage or facial to the Arthritis Foundation which supports arthritis education, research, advocacy and other vital programs and services. Murad®, Massage Envy Spa’s exclusive skin care partner, Wyndmere and BioFreeze will all also donate 10 percent of all sales from their products sold at Massage Envy Spa locations during the event. Over the past two years, this one-day nationwide event has raised over $1M for the Arthritis Foundation.

Massage Envy Spa and the Arthritis Foundation share a common understanding about the devastating effects of arthritis on the body and the potential for massage therapy to relieve and control certain symptoms.Striking one in every five adults and 300,000 children, arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability. Massage therapy can play an important role in alleviating the pain and swelling caused by arthritis, improving flexibility and circulation and reducing stress and anxiety.

What are you doing September 18th? Will you help the Arthritis Foundation by relaxing at Massage Envy? You can find out more information about the Healing Hands for Arthritis event here.

After my massage this week, I’m going to post a review and will offer a massage giveaway for one, lucky Still Living The Dream reader –  so be sure to check back soon!

Thank you to Massage Envy for sponsoring this post. I will have the opportunity to have a complimentary massage at Massage Envy, but will receive no other compensation. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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My Kids Make Me Smile! – A #FABsmile Giveaway!

Summer is almost over which is really bittersweet. While it will be good for the kids to get back to a routine and I personally love the fall season in general, I also enjoy the extra time I get to spend with my kids during the long break from school.

With less than two weeks until school starts, I decided to take the kids on a last soiree to enjoy the sun and sand in Galveston last weekend. While I was packing I asked my kids Jackson and Annie, to bring me their toothbrushes. When they finally brought them to me, I was shocked. The condition of these brushes made it clear to me that they were being used way past their “expiration” date. Matted down bristles with reminents of old toothpaste caked on the bottom. Um – gross.

The American Dental Association recommends flossing every day and changing out your toothbrush every three months. Clearly these were way older than three months and there wasn’t even a bit of floss to be found in the kid’s bathroom. Pretty weird that they didn’t tell me we were out, right?!

Not my best “Mother of the Year” moment! But in my defense, it is hard to remember to change toothbrushes out regularly….right?

Luckily I had heard about a unique program that makes it easy for you to have floss and new toothbrushes on hand. My friends at FlossandBrush.com provided me with a free kit which included a new toothbrush and roll of floss for each of my family members to try out. The clean teeth gods must have been looking out for me because the package of dental goodness arrived the day before we left for our overnight trip!

For just $1.00 per month, per person, FlossandBrush.com ships a box of fresh, quality toothbrushes and floss to your home every quarter. Shipping is only $1.00 per person, but orders of three or more brushes ship for free!

You don’t have to think about when it’s time to get a new brush or count on the kids to tell you when you are out of floss, they just arrive. They offer four different packages including one for adults, one for youth and one for small children that each include an age-appropriate toothbrush and mint, waxed floss…plus a package for $2.00 a month that also includes a carbamide peroxide whitening gel with potassium nitrate (which helps eliminate sensitivity) that can be used with your own tray or one you can purchase separetely from them. By the way Still Living The Dream readers can purchase a whitening tray from FlossandBrush.com for 25 percent off! Just use code “tray25” when you check out. You can find the whitening trays online here.

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We received GUM brand toothbrushes (all in different colors which makes it easy to know which one belongs to each of us) and 60 yards of minty floss.

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Seeing my kids smile makes me happy. Knowing that because of FlossandBrush.com I might have a chance at winning Mother of the Year (or at least regarding good oral hygiene!) NEXT year makes me feel like a better parent.

A Giveaway!

How would you like to win a FlossandBrush.com Prize Package worth $107.00?! One, lucky Still Living The Dream reader will receive both a free annual FAB  membership (quarterly toothbrush and floss delivered to your door) AND a free annual FAB plus White4Life Membership (FAB’s professional grade whitening gel to be used in a custom whitening tray provided by you).

Entering is Easy!

First:

1. Sign up for FlossandBrush.com’s mailing list.

Then:

2. Visit FAB’s Pinterest page and repin an image for any one of the Smile Boards and include the #FABsmile hashtag and a description in your pin that explains why the image makes you smile. In order to enter you must sign up for the mailing list and share your photo link in the comments section of  this post. A winner will be chosen randomly on August 23, 2013, at 11:59 p.m. CST.

I received three regular FAB memberships as well as a FAB plus Whitening Gel Package in order to review for this post. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions (and clean teeth!) are my own.

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Training for a Sprint Triathlon – This is not a Drill!

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My sprint Tri is just 17 days away. On Labor Day morning, while others are packing up the mini van for a trip to the beach or the lake, I’ll be starting the first leg of my swim, bike, run event…and I’m nervous.

Setting the goal to participate in this event was a strategic one on my part in order to keep up with my weight loss and along the road to better health. I’m extremely goal-oriented and in order to continue incorporating exercise into my daily routine, making it a life-time behavior, I’ve been signing up for 5 and 10Ks. To shake things up a little during the summer, my friend Tanya and I decided to try a Tri.

I’ve never had swimming lessons and with no real road bike experience other than riding around on my mountain bike in the neighborhood with the kids, I knew training might be challenging. While the distance for each leg in a sprint Tri isn’t particularly long (the swim is 500 meters, the bike portion is 12 miles and the run is 3.1 miles) together  – it’s a significant endeavor.

Last night I rode 12 miles and struggled. It had been a bit since I had been on my bike. I’m still getting used to her, a beautiful, pre-owned Cervelo Tri bike that was a gift from an ultra-ironman triathlete who doesn’t even know me. There is a beautiful story here about the kindness and generosity of people, especially in this community, that I will share soon. I’m still too overwhelmed to put it into words.

My real weakness will be the swim. I’m basically teaching myself how to freestyle and figuring out the whole timing to breathing and stroking. All of my work has been in the pool but this race takes place in open water. This Sunday I’ll be trying it out for the first time and I know the experience will be different and difficult.

I worry about the unknowns like the open water swim and the two transitions the most. But when I doubt my ability, I repeat the mantra I’ve used since I started my weight loss journey a year ago…Be Brave, Be Fierce, Believe.

And I remind myself that I will not win this race, but I will finish. And that in itself is a victory.

Are you doing something outside your comfort zone? Do you set challenging goals to help keep you physically fit? Tell me about your exciting plans and if you have a mantra that gets you through the tough work-outs. 

 

 

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Lifescript.com: Help For Those Dealing with Depression

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This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of Lifescript.com.

StillLivingTheDream Lifescript Depression

I recently heard about a great online resource, Lifescript.com, which provides medical information, tips and advice that are all written by professional health writers, experts and physicians….including resources that someone who is feeling depressed would benefit from including articles about depression causes and therapies.

I’ve suffered from symptoms related to stress and anxiety throughout my life. Even as a child, especially after my parent’s divorce when I was seven, I had a lot of worry and anxiety. During my first job out of college I coordinated national activities for children with cancer and I started to have trouble with panic attacks and depression. I would travel for work and suffer from extreme headaches that wouldn’t go away and panic attacks where I thought I was going to die. I managed it, but it was difficult.

I had my first baby, my sweet son Jackson, when I was 30 years old. At the time I was a director at a prestigious children’s hospital. A difficult pregnancy in which Jackson was diagnosed in-utero with a kidney problem and problematic delivery caused me to spiral into Post-Partum Depression (PPD).

The first several months after his birth was one of the most challenging times of my life. I had the most beautiful child whom I loved dearly but for reasons I didn’t understand, I couldn’t stop crying. It started as soon as I delivered him via emergency c-section after being in labor for 12 hours and unable to deliver naturally. After his birth in the middle of the night (he was immediately put on antibiotics for his kidney condition), I had to wait several hours to hold him when I immediately tried, without success to breast feed him.

It broke my heart. My first attempts at being a mother and I was already failing miserably.

Jackson's birth - 2001

Jackson’s birth – 2001

I remember being in my hospital room in the early hours of the morning by myself and sobbing. A doctor visited me and asked me if I thought I was going to hurt myself or my baby. I knew from working in a hospital that this question was standard operating procedure, but it felt like an insult to injury. How could the doctor ask if I wanted to hurt him, I just wanted to take care of my baby and I felt so bad that I couldn’t even deliver him or feed him naturally and he already had a medical problem to contend with.

The next several months at home were a fog. I spent the first weeks still trying desperately to breast-feed him. I hired a lactation consultant (who told me if I gave up I would be making a huge mistake for my baby), rented a scale that would accurately capture Jackson’s weight before and after feeding him and pumped around the clock…all to no avail. I remember being so deflated when I read the outside of the baby formula can that said a mother’s milk is best for your baby. Tears streaming down my face I told my husband, “they are trying to market this stuff and even they agree that I’m not giving him what he needs!” I irrationally worried that my baby would hold these failures against me and wouldn’t love me.

With help from medical professionals through depression therapies including medication and Psychological counseling as well as a return to my faith, I was able to overcome PPD. But it was a long road and I really felt robbed of those first several months with my precious child. There were moments of joy, but I was overcome with fear and sadness that I just couldn’t explain to anyone. Some family and friends distanced themselves from me, I suppose because they didn’t know what to do or couldn’t understand what I was going through.

I remember going through the motions and walking Jackson in his stroller around the block even though I was crying. If a neighbor was outside I panicked. I didn’t want anyone to see me in the state I was in. I was so ashamed of what I was going through… the stigma associated with depression is so unfair.

According to Tom Cruise, I should have just been able to exercise and take vitamins and I would be fine. (Which is completely untrue and so irresponsible for him to say. Exercise and a healthy diet is helpful for sure, but is not a cure all for PPD.)

Annie's birth - 2006

Annie’s birth – 2006

My experience caused me to wait a lot longer than my husband and I had planned to have a second child. In an effort to avoid feeling depressed again, I took proactive steps to make my delivery and first hours with Annie more successful. I didn’t even try to breastfeed or deliver naturally. Instead I had a doula who I visited several times while pregnant and then she came to the hospital after I delivered to give me massages. I also had a lot of skin-on-skin contact with Annie, especially when I fed her.

Depression pops up from time-time and I deal with it the best I can. When in the middle of a depressive episode, I feel so alone. But one thing I learned form Lifescript.com is that one of every 10 U.S. adults suffer from it. It helps  that I know from past experience that I can get to the other side, so I don’t feel as desperate when it happens. Better health and exercise has helped me as well and I’m on medication for my thyroid, one of the things that contributed to my depression.

I wish that I had Lifescript.com 12 years ago when first dealing with PPD. Information on the website about managing depression and anxiety and getting support is very helpful. With my recent substantial weight loss and integrating exercise into my daily routine, I also found the section about health and nutrition very informative and can’t wait to try out some of the Six Mood Boosting recipes they suggest as well as a Buffalo Chicken Wrap that looks delicious and is very healthy. I also want to start using flaxseed which has a variety of health benefits including help with symptoms of menopause (like depression); which isn’t too terribly far down the road for me!

Do you want to find more posts relating to depression? Check out these articles related on Lifescript.

  1. Is it New-Mom Blues or Postpartum Depression?
  2. Anxiety
  3. Living with Depression: Nutrition and Exercise

Are  you suffering from PPD/Depression and/or anxiety? Please know that you have nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t feel like you are alone or that you have to get well by yourself. Confide in a friend and/or family member and seek help from a professional. I understand. I’ve been there. Know this…things will get better.

Lifescript’s Depression Health Center features tips, quizzes, recipes and articles – all by professional health writers, experts and physicians – covering postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, bipolar disorder, how to boost your mood with exercise and more. Please visit the Lifescript Health Center on depression for more information.

And to check out this free website, click here!

This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of Lifescript.com. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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New Salads at Chick-fil-A (Nutritional Facts and Review)

My family loves Chick-fil-A. There’s really something on the menu for everyone. Even when I first started my weight loss journey last summer I was able to enjoy eating there guilt-free (I loved getting the grilled nuggets with a fruit cup and diet lemonade!)

StillLivingTheDream Chickfila

Now I’m a lifetime Weight Watchers member, but I still pay close attention to the choices I make when I go out to eat. I was very excited to hear that last month, Chick-fil-A came out with three new salads and a wrap. I’ve learned through my journey that sometimes restaurants offer salads that aren’t really healthy (at some places, you’re almost better off choosing something fried from the menu!) or if they are low in calories and fat, they don’t taste good. So I was really happy when Chick-fil-A invited me and my friends to come to the restaurant to learn more about the new items and their restaurant so we could see how they measured up.

The three new Chick-Fil-A salads include the Cobb Salad, Asian Salad and Grilled Market Salad. We learned that produce is delivered each morning to Chick-fil-A and that they make their salads several times a day from scratch in their kitchen. Chick-fil-A did away with the iceberg lettuce bed they once used to build their salads and now use an organic romaine sweet mix lettuce for all the salads. (YUM!)

Since they were introduced, the Cobb Salad has been the leader in sales so far with the Market Salad closely following in second place. Here is the break down of what is in each salad, nutritional information and what we thought!

StillLivingTheDream ChickfilaCobb

1. Cobb Salad: 430 calories, 22 grams fat, 21 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 39 grams protein (Weight Watchers 11 PP)

Contains fried chicken nuggets, romaine lettuce mix, shredded red cabbage and carrots, roasted corn kernels, shredded blend of Monterrey jack and cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, diced egg and grape tomatoes.

You can top the salad with a packet of charred tomato crispy red bell peppers (add 80 calories, 6 grams of fat, 6 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber and 1 gram protein which is 2 Weight Watcher PP).

They suggest using the Avocado Lime Ranch dressing which packs on a whopping 310 calories, 32 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbs, 0 grams fiber and 1 gram of protein for just a 2 ounce packet (9 Weight Watcher PP)! The Buttermilk Ranch dressing (another popular Cobb salad dressing) isn’t much better with 280 calories, 30 grams fat, 2 grams carb, 0 gram fiber, 1 gram protein (8 Weight Watcher PP). Neither is the Spicy Dressing containing 270 calories, 27 grams fat, 4 grams carb, 0 gram fiber and 1 gram protein (7 Weight Watcher PP).

The verdict: Moms who selected this salad loved the taste. We suggest using the Fat Free Honey Mustard dressing which is a better option with only 100 calories, 0 grams fat, 23 grams carb, 1 gram fiber and 0 gram protein (2 Weight Watcher PP). Karen did this and said it was delicious!

Note: We really like that Chick-Fil-A uses 100 percent refined peanut oil and a pressure cooker instead of an open fryer for their fried food. They also clean out the oil after every three batches and hand bread each nugget.

StillLivingTheDream ChickfilaAsian

2. Asian Salad: 330 calories, 13 grams fat, 24 gram carb, 5 grams fiber, 29 gram protein (8 Weight Watcher PP)

Contains fried chicken nuggets, shredded red and green cabbage, carrots and mandarin orange segments.

You can top the salad with Chinese garlic and ginger wontons (70 calories, 4 grams fat, 8 grams carb, 0 grams fiber, 2 grams protein which is 2 Weight Watchers PP) and honey Thai almonds (40 calories, 3 grams fat, 3 grams carb, 1 gram fiber and 1 gram protein (1 Weight Watchers PP). They also suggest the Honey Sesame dressing 170 calories, 12 grams fat, 16 grams carb, 0 gram fiber, 1 gram protein (5 Weight Watcher PP).

The verdict: This salad is delicious! The dressing really makes the salad great so we don’t recommend using an alternative…if you want to cut down calories/fat try using only half the Sesame dressing packet…a little goes a long way! The wontons and almonds are great, too (Patti said she loved eating the almonds right out of the bag…they have a great little kick to them!)

StillLivingTheDream ChickfilaMarket

3. Market Salad: 180 calories, 4 grams fat, 24 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 29 grams protein (6 Weight Watchers PP)

Contains grilled chicken strips, shredded red cabbage and carrots, crumbled blue cheese, red and green apple bits, strawberries and blueberries.

You can add harvest nut granola (60 calories, 3 grams fat, 8 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber and 1 gram protein which is 2 Weight Watchers PP) and roasted nut blend (80 calories, 8 grams fat, 3 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams protein which is 2 Weight Watcher PP). They suggest the Zesty Apple Cider Vinaigrette dressing (230 calories, 19 fat grams, 16 grams carbs, 0 grams fiber and 0 grams protein which is 7 Weight Watchers PP).

The verdict: This is the healthiest option of the three and also very delicious. They use the normal chicken filets (not the chargrilled chicken) without breading. We especially loved the organic blueberries and strawberries. Angie liked the salad without the toppings. I wanted a little more flavor and crunch but not as much calories/fat, so I  added  half a packet of the nut blend and granola. You could also just pick one of the two and add the whole packet.

The Zesty Apple Cider Vinaigrette was a little high in fat and calories/carbs so I used the Reduced Fat Berry Balsamic Vinaigrette instead (110 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 20 grams carbs, o grams fiber and o grams fiber which – only 3 Weight Watchers points) and it complimented the fruity taste of the salad perfectly. In fact, I only used half the packet of dressing!

Susan loved it with the Fat Free Honey Mustard dressing but said she was excited to try it again with one of their lower fat dipping sauces.

Another dressing option for any of the salads is the light Italian dressing with only 25 calories, 1.5 fat grams, 3 grams carbs, 0 gram fiber and 0 gram protein, only 1 Weight Watchers PP….BUT – in our opinion, what it lacks in fat/calories it also lacks in taste!

Wrap It Up….

We were impressed with the new line-up and love all the choices we can make to tailor it to our own taste and nutritional needs. Chick-fil-A is very accommodating and often make changes to menu items at their customers request. Angie said she would love the market salad chicken served hot instead of cold…which they said they would absolutely do. Love this about Chick-fil-A!

While we didn’t get to sample the new wrap…we did learn some interesting information. They once had three wraps but now just offer one. They use flaxseed oil in their tortillas instead of seeds offering health benefits but also giving the wrap more flexibility so it will roll without breaking. Nice touch! They also got rid of the tomatoes which made the wrap soggy (but I bet if you wanted them added, they would!)

What do you think about the new salads at Chick-fil-A? Have you tried the new wrap? Are you happy about the changes they are making? Let me know!

I was invited to attend a lunch to try out the new salads at Chick-fil-A. I did not receive any compensation and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

 

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Memorial Day Weekend Fun With Friends (but no bugs…thanks to Cutter!)

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We were pretty busy last weekend and took full advantage of the three-day holiday by packing in lots of outdoor time with family and friends. Fun outside in Houston is great, but it can get hot and the spring/summer months also bring uninvited guests (bugs!) to events. Thank you to Cutter for sponsoring this compensated post and providing us with Cutter products to keep mosquitoes from ruining our plans!

StillLivingTheDream swim team collage with text

On Saturday Jackson and Annie participated in their second summer league swim meet. We love swim meets because in addition to the friendly competition and great exercise for the kids, we have the chance to set up tents and visit with friends. I’m not going to lie, Saturday morning meets start really EARLY and usually run about seven hours. In the outdoor Houston heat, it can be draining and since we are a volunteer organization, we all chip in to help with timing, running the concession stand, getting kids sorted at the ready bench, etc. BUT…it’s such a great time to gather with friends in the neighborhood and visit.

In between races, the kids toss around the football or frisbee, play on the playground and make bracelets. Adults get time to chat and catch up as life with young kids takes us in a million directions. In addition to plenty of sunscreen, we also made sure to spray everyone with Cutter Natural Personal Insect Repellent. It’s great for the entire family, especially young kids, because it contains all-natural ingredients including essential oil derived from geraniums proven to an effective alternative to DEET.

StillLivingTheDream mudrun adults

I ran the Original Mud Run 5k Saturday morning so I left the meet a little early. Nine parents decided it would be fun to give it a whirl and formed the “crazy mudders” team. I loved the idea because I’m always looking for ways to get more active and have fun doing it…especially if we can include the kids.

We worried that our plans were a bit over ambitious when we arrived and saw the course…but we jumped in head first (literally!) and ended up having so much fun. We helped each other up, around and over muddy obstacles that challenged us physically and mentally and although we got dirty, we had good, clean fun (except for a couple of bad words I may or may not have said trying to get over the 20 foot cargo net obstacle!)

StillLivingTheDream mudrun kids

The kids joined us later in the day for a shorter fun run just for them. Our lil’ crazy mudders were so cute…from our girls in first grade to the 5th and 6th grade boys…they all had a great time. We set up a couple of tents and hung out during and after the races. Thankfully it was overcast so the heat wasn’t too bad.

Since there was going to be a lot of standing water and obstacles in the woods, I made sure to bring along Cutter Unscented Backwoods Insect Repellant to keep mosquitoes at bay. Backwoods has DEET and works for up to 10 hours, which makes it good for prolonged activities. (After an outbreak of West Nile virus in Houston last year, we want to do whatever we can to protect ourselves.)

StillLivingTheDream BBQ party

After a full day of swim team and mud running, my kids (and me!) feel asleep early Saturday evening. Then on Sunday we went to a friend’s house for a pool party and BBQ. Debi had plenty of hot dogs and burgers and we all added to the buffet by bringing a side item. Cutter CitroGuard, EPA-registered citronella candles by the sitting areas and pool helped keep mosquitoes away so we could enjoy the night outside. Plus, they looked really pretty. I love the different decorative containers they come in and they make great hostess gifts for those outdoor events you attend this summer!

 StillLivingTheDream familypicnic

On Monday, we were all a bit tired and the kids weren’t feeling so well. I think the sun and water finally caught up with them. We let them hang out inside watching movies while Ed and I worked on the yard. We mowed, edged and trimmed and then followed up by covering Cutter Backyard Bug Control Spray Concentrate over the lawn.

Mosquitoes seem to be really bad in our backyard. I’m trying to make sure we don’t have any standing water and to pre-treat the lawn before we spend time out back. Cutter Backyard Spray attaches to the hose and treats up to 5,000 square feet for mosquitoes, fleas, ticks for up to eight weeks.

Plus – mosquitoes just love me. I can be standing outside and get tons of bites and someone else standing by me won’t get any. Some say that those with fairer skin (I’m very light skinned) are more attractive to mosquitoes as well as those who give off more lactic acid and carbon dioxide. I don’t know what it is with me, but I was only out back for just a minute and got three bites before I sprayed myself with Cutter Skinsations Personal Insect Repellant. After that, nothing! I think this one is my favorite repellant from the line because it smells good and contains vitamin E and aloe to moisturize the skin.

In the evening when things got a little cooler (and the lawn was dry from the Cutter Backyard Spray) we let Buddy (our miniature dachshund) back outside to play, cooked hot dogs on the grill, steamed some snow crab and had a little picnic in the back before turning in early for the night. Just one more week of school and we’ll be ready to tackle more outdoor fun activities on our 2013 Family Summer Bucket List Challenge!

Check out Cutter on Facebook for more information about how to enjoy the outdoors bug-free this summer and check back with Still Living The Dream soon (hint: I’ll be giving away a huge Cutter prize pack just like I got!)

What outdoor fun have you and your family been up to? What do you have planned for the summer and how do you keep mosquitoes from crashing the party?

This post was sponsored by Cutter and while I received compensation and product for review, all thoughts and opinions (and extreme dislike for mosquitoes!) are my own. 

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