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.

photo-780

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.

photo-782

Do you run? What keeps you going? 

 

 

Share

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.

Salata2

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.

salata teas

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!

Share

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.

chicfila

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.

kids with cones

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. 

Share

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

 photo-711

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. 

 

 

Share

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.

 

 

 

Share

Tears of Joy at Walt Disney World

family in front of castle

For the last week my family and I have been in Florida. I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Conference and then we extended our stay after the conference so we could play at all the Disney parks.

I have a lot to share with you including news about fun things on the horizon from Disney, tips for bloggers and social media professionals, advice about how to make the most of a fabulous Disney family vacation, restaurant and resort reviews and much more.

We got back last night…so bittersweet. There’s no place like home but the magic of Disney is so incredible you just don’t want it all to end.

But we are back to reality today and I have thousands of pictures to sort through and so many notes to organize from our trip plus work to catch up on while I was away. The kids went back to school this morning and there will be missed school work to catch up with for them as well, swim practice to attend and a meet tomorrow morning plus many other end of year activities and events.

Life is going to get crazy busy.

But before I dive in head first…I want to share this with you. The biggest take-away from our trip.

Tears of joy.

Admittedly, I’m an emotional gal. I laugh and cry openly as I experience emotions and events that touch me in my life. I laughed a lot on our trip to Disney. As a family, we shared so many special moments of pure silliness and abandoned the illusion of “cool” (matching family t-shirts rock!) and just soaked in the moments of joy and happiness as they came. Truly living life in the moment is really living the dream and it doesn’t happen a lot for me.

And I cried.

chris and ali

First during the conference when I heard Chris Powell, trainer and transformation specialist on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, speak about making the choice to make your health a priority. He is helping transform so many people’s lives and is so inspirational.

Then I cried again when I met Ali Vincent, winner of the show The Biggest Loser whose mantra “Believe it. Be it.” helped her lose 112 pounds and she is now inspiring people all over the world that they can achieve their weight loss goals as well on the Live Well Network.

To attend the conference at this time of my life when health has become a focus for me and then to have Disney focus so much of the conference on good health was incredibly special and very emotional. My life has changed drastically since last July. Losing almost 60 pounds and making exercise a daily habit has allowed me to change my perspective and live my life in such a different, more positive way.

Much more about these two incredible people and my experiences with RunDisney later. I promise.

But first….

When the conference ended and my family played at Magic Kingdom, I cried again. Twice.

 jack with belle

The first time was when we experienced Enchanted Tales of Belle, the attraction at the new Fantasyland. During this experience kids are selected from the group to act out certain parts of the story with Belle herself. Annie was Maurice and she shivered with “cold” while holding on to a prop that looked like she was in the Beast’s dungeon. Jackson was the Beast himself. With a red cape he growled (a bit reluctantly) at different parts of the show and then at the end he danced with Belle.

Jackson is 11 and while he enjoyed it he is also at that age when he is starting to get self-conscience and a bit shy. But watching my little boy dance with Belle brought back memories of when he was a toddler and would dance around the room with me while we watched Sleeping Beauty. He was my prince then and he is today. I’m so proud of the young man he growing up to be. I cried with happiness at the memory but also the knowledge that I am so blessed to be his mom. I love this boy with all my heart and soul.

And Annie.

annie with cindy collage

My 7-year-old daughter who loves Cinderella more than anything in the world. When we met Cindy at the Magic Kingdom and got her autograph it was so magical.

step sisters

Then she met the evil step-sisters and step-mom as well – which was SO fun (Disney characters REALLY get into character at the parks…they do it so well!) But the Celebrate A Dream Come True parade at 3:00 p.m. when all the characters, dancers and floats go down Main Street was incredible.

Maybe it was because it was the last day of our trip and we left the park right after the parade, but I was overcome with emotion. Annie and Jackson sat on the curb, ice cream from their Mickey bars dribbling down their chins…laughing and joking around while waiting for the parade to start. All the characters were fun to see; Stitch, Mary Poppins, Ariel – we love them all.

cropped cindy parade

But half-way through I saw Annie starting to waving wildly as Cinderella’s float came in to view. The evil step-sisters and mom danced around…interacting with the crowd and then the fairy godmother, perched at the top of the float looked right at Annie and blew her a kiss. Annie “caught” it and sent it right back and then she gasped as Cindy and her Prince floated by. Annie looked up with wide eyes and smiled and then looked back at me. For just a moment, we didn’t say a word among the thousands of other park visitors screaming and jumping and waving. But a conversation was taking place in the silence between us. I could literally hear her thoughts – that she was in total disbelief at all that was taking place…and then she hugged me.

Tears are running down my face right now as I write this….as much as they were when it all happened.

It is the magic of Disney that just cannot be duplicated and really can’t be explained. But I’m so thankful that I have this feeling in my heart I know I will never forget.

walking away

My kids asked me if I was ok as we left the park hand-in-hand after the parade ended for the last time (tears were still streaming down my face and I’m not a pretty crier!) I told them I was more than ok. I was happier than I could imagine or remember being in a long time.

Thank you Belle for dancing with my son.

Thank you Cinderella, Fairy Godmother, Lady Tremaine, Drizella and Anastasia; for making us believe we stepped right into your story.

And Thank you Walt Disney, for having a dream and sharing your world with us.

I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Conference. I paid a fee to attend which included the opportunity to participate in conference activities, stay at a hotel and experience Disney World; however, my family and I stayed later at our own expense. I was not asked nor expected to write a post about  my experiences. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

 

 

Share

Moving Forward Past The Goal

I’m a little nervous.

This weekend I’m signed up to run a 10K. I haven’t been running as much as I should and I haven’t been watching my diet as closely as I should. It’s so easy to become misguided when there’s a great Mexican food restaurant on every block and a new gourmet cupcake bakery pops up daily!

So Monday morning I laced up my running shoes and forced myself to hit the track. My music on my phone wasn’t working and I was mad. I was mad that I hadn’t been working harder and now I was going to have to run in silence.

With all that silence comes reflection and the conversation with myself wasn’t all that positive.

 IMG_3843

“Why don’t you have more will power? Why do you still struggle with making good choices with food? Is it always going to be so challenging? Will I ever get ‘good’ at this? Will I ruin everything I’ve worked so hard for?”

There comes a time after you get to your “goal” when people stop telling you that you are doing a good job and that you look good. I knew it was coming and I knew it was going to be hard. Because comments like those gave me strength to do well….to continue working hard.

And I wonder, no I actually worry… do I have what it takes to keep this up – by myself?

I know I have to. I know it’s up to me whether I sink or swim. But there’s that girl that’s still 55 pounds heavier inside me and she says, “you CAN’T do it Jenn, so just stop trying…just GIVE UP.”

And when I hear her I know two things for sure:

1. I don’t want to be that girl again

2. This will be an on-going journey for me. I will struggle, sometimes more than other times, but I will have to work hard at this. For. Ever.

So running on the track Monday I worried that I wasn’t going to be ready for the 10K on Saturday. I thought maybe I would just run the 5K with my family and that would be ok.

But then when I finished one lap, I told myself that surely I could run two. And when I hit two, I told myself that I was almost at three. And then three laps turned into 4 1/2 miles. It wasn’t pretty….but I did it. And If I ran 4 1/2 miles on a track without music or people around to motivate me, that it’s possible that on Saturday I could run two more miles. It’s possible and that’s progress.

And while I was stretching afterwards…I realized that I needed to tell the heavier me who thinks I can’t do it to shut the hell up. That today I did it and maybe I will tomorrow, too. And I’m going to have to take it day by day like that for awhile. Because while I haven’t gained any weight on the scale, I don’t feel as strong as I did – so I need to rededicate myself to this journey.

And I’ve got today, this moment, to make a good decision. And then I go on from there.

I said my mantra several times on the track. I’ve got to remember to say it at other times too.

Be Brave. Be fierce. Believe.

Believe. Because I have to continue on this journey for me and my health and my future.

I can’t go back. I just. can’t.

Do you struggle with weight issues? Have you met a goal and regressed? What do you do when the positive comments stop coming from others and your forced with just the thoughts you’ve got running a muck in your own head and they aren’t particularly positive? 

Share

How to Stay on The Road to Wellness While Traveling

I just got back from Blissdom, an annual conference for bloggers. This year it was held in Dallas, not too far from Houston so I was able to drive up with a couple of friends for the three-day event.

One thing that is always a challenge for me when I travel is to eat well and stay on my fitness regimen. While I feel like it’s ok to take a break from time-to-time, I try to make the best food choices I can when away from home. I also feel better if I can get in some kind of physical activity when I’m away…especially when it’s for more than two days.

While I certainly didn’t lose any weight while I was gone, I’m happy to say that I also didn’t gain any. Here are some of the things I did to help keep me on the straight and narrow while I was away from home.

Vicki (Houston On The Cheap), Lisa (Milehimama), me, Renee (QPon Junkie) and Bobbie (Clumsy Crafter)

  1. Find someone who is watching what they eat to hang with. The fabulous crew of bloggers from Houston know that I’m trying to be good and were very supportive. They didn’t judge me when I decided to eat Lobster Ravioli, a decadent splurge but oh so worth it, for one meal and they helped me make good choices for other meals. One friend in particular is trying to shed a couple pounds so we helped each other (we even got oranges at Buc ee’s on the way home, yup!).
  2. Bring healthy snacks with you. I packed some breakfast bars, low calorie snacks and fruit in my day bag so when there wasn’t anything good to grab, I had an alternative handy.
  3. Make the best of meals served to you. At conferences many times meals are pre-selected and served to you or there is a buffet with a limited amount of choices. Whenever possible, I try to select lean protein and fruit. For breakfast one morning I ditched the pastries and muffins on the buffet line and selected a hard-boiled egg and fruit. For lunch they had boxed sandwiches. I selected the turkey but only ate a small bit of bread and skipped the condiments chips and cookie. 
  4. Limit sweets. For the love of sugar there were so many dessert opportunities at this conference my head was spinning. One booth had several jars of candy that you could scoop into a baggie and take with you. Another company offered an ice-cream sundae bar (a personal weakness of mine). During one break they even had homemade cookies as big as dinner plates. I just passed them up and busied myself with networking and other free booth opportunities like a 10-minute shoulder massage and having my make-up and fake eyelashes done at the One2One Network booth! Thankfully many companies offered other snacks like the yummy raisin and nut mix at the California Raisin booth. It was hard to say no to all the goodness and I did have a treat or two (hello, salted chocolate, I love you!) but I felt good that I didn’t over do it the entire time.  
  5. Dining out. I try to make the best choice I can with the menu I’ve got. I always look for grilled or steamed seafood as a good option. One evening I went out to eat with some of my fellow SeaWorld Ambassadors at Joe’s Crabshack where I got a crab steam pot. The next evening at a Mexican food restaurant in the hotel I ordered a shrimp taco off the menu (grilled shrimp on a corn tortilla with some salsa and lettuce) which is better choice than some of the other things on the menu (and cheaper, too!)
  6. Bring your work out gear.  I really enjoy working out  in the fitness room at hotels. If the facility I’m in doesn’t have one, I’ll walk the hotel stairs or run around the property. At this conference they offered a fitness class each morning hosted by Soybu workout clothes. It was hard to get up early and the workout was challenging but I felt good starting my day off right. Bonus – I made some connections with some fitness bloggers like Aliah – The Get Fit Diva and Stephanie – Food and Fitness 4 Real AND won a couple of cool workout clothing items from Soybu! Score!
  7. Burn calories during a fun activity. One evening we were treated to a private concert by Chris Mann (from The Voice) and Amber Riley (from Glee). After they left and the club opened up to the public, an 80′s cover band took the stage (Spazmatics). My friends and I got goofy and literally danced for hours.
  8. Get a good night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation was at the event and I learned that when you don’t get enough sleep it can actually negatively impact your ability to lose weight. I haven’t been sleeping well but I have a couple tips and products to try out thanks to this organization. I’ll be posting about my experience soon!
  9. Smile. It’s good for you! (Me and Debra -A Frugal Friend.)
What do you do to stay healthy when you travel? 
Share

Meeting A Goal and Moving Forward

I Did It!

That’s me jumping for joy. I’m a happy girl because after 7 months, I reached my goal weight!

54.4 pounds.

Gone.

Which is a pretty big deal for a short gal like me.

And I feel so much better. I have more energy. My joints and back don’t hurt. I can breathe better at night.

(Although I will never own up to snoring. Ever. Even though Ed said he has proof. Which kinda freaks me out.)

I know that my hard work and lifestyle changes which have included making better food choice and daily exercise have gotten me to where I am now but that really, this is just the beginning. Even though I’ve reached my goal, I want this to mark the beginning of a life that is active, healthful and fun. While I still have a sweet tooth and I struggle with stress eating…I will continue to strive to eat well and enjoy treats in moderation.

But exercise is something I actually love to do now! I’m excited about making plans to do things that push me physically and keep me active. In April I want to do a 5K with my entire family and in May I plan to do a 10K mud run with my friends. I’m also thinking about a local tri-atholon and I am definitely going to run the Princess half-marathon at Disney in February 2014!

(Jennifer, you lost 55 pounds….where are you going now? DISNEY WORLD!)

Since I dropped 6 dress sizes (yikes!!) I’ve needed to add some new things to my wardrobe. While this is extremely exciting (new clothes… YAY!) and shopping for clothes now that I’m healthier is more fun, it’s also expensive. So I’ve been spacing out my spending and doing a lot of online shopping to catch great looking clothes at a good price.

Here are some things I have my eye on right now:

I love this red tankini from Spiegel. It’s been a long time since I got excited about swim suit weather and (at least in Houston), it’s just around the corner. This is such a fun and flattering suit at a great price! I’m loving the gold accents.

This copper metallic dress is so cool. I love the 50s/60s vibe and the clean look. This would be fun for a summer party and a great way to show off my arms that I’ve been working hard toning up!

This pant suit is all kinds of awesome. I always wanted to wear something like this and I’m thinking now’s the time. I love the built-in Power Mesh bodysuit that keeps everything “put” because while I may have lost weight, I still have some serious toning to do in the middle. I love that this piece is both bold but forgiving! I’m guessing I’ll have to hem the pants about 6 inches, though!!

Check out Spiegel for some good deals on swim suits, dresses and other fun pieces to build your spring wardrobe. And if you are in between sizes because you are losing weight or just need to keep things “together!” like me….check out their Shape FX line with power mesh in all the right places (like the disco-era pant suit above) so you’ll look awesome!

What clothes are on your radar right now for Spring?

How do you find good deals on line and in stores?

Disclosure: Thank you to Spiegel for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Share

Mamavation Monday – A Pledge

 

In my last post I talked about celebrating my weight loss successes in 2012. I’ve lost about 47 pounds since starting to eat healthfully and exercise regularly. It’s been quite a commitment and I’m proud of how far I’ve come, but I have more to loose and goals to meet in 2013.

I’ve found that if I set goals that are realistic and clearly defined, I’m more likely to meet them. But I can’t do it alone. I need tools and resources and a supportive community in order to be successful. This is especially true at this point in my journey. In the beginning, it was enough to just limit my calorie intake and eliminate things like soft drinks and fried foods from my diet. Then I started to exercise. I started walking, then running a little and adding Jazzercise classes to my weekly routine.

I’ve kind of hit a plateau recently and am struggling to continue losing weight. I’ve exhausted my expertise and need some additional help going forward. When I heard about the online Mamavation Sistahood community, I was immediately interested in joining.

The Sistahood is a community weight loss support group for moms in social media. Moms like me can learn and support one another in weight loss and fitness goals while learning to share healthy habits with their families. They have an online forum where moms can network and help each other and they sponsor challenges (I applied for the #iheartOmron Challenge and am crossing my fingers that I’m selected next month!).

I love that they accept women at all stages of the journey and encourage them to stay active by participating in weekly blog updates and a Monday night online TV chat show. It’s just the accountability I need mixed with the support I know is necessary in order to make healthy living a commitment for a lifetime.

I’ve started a list of goals for the first quarter 2013 and I hope that as a member of the Sistahood, I’ll reach them all and be motivated to continue adding to my list for the rest of the year:

  1. Participate in a 5K with my family by February 2013
  2. Take body measurements by January 7, 2013
  3. Sign up for and begin training for a 10K by March 2013
  4. Lose 10 pounds by February 15, 2013
  5. Run at least 2 times a week
  6. Take a Jazzercise class at least 3 times a week
  7. Blog weekly about my weight loss journey, my goals and tools that have helped me achieve success including healthy recipes

So I’m pledging to join the Sistahood. For me and my family. What about you? Do you have goals for 2013? Is getting healthy on your list? Join me!

Share