Cookies: The Frenemy

Cookies are my Frenemy. They bring me much joy, and cause me much grief.

Especially these ones! Lofthouse soft baked, frosted Red Velvet cookies!

Disclaimer  Only one cookie was harmed in the making of this photo.

Disclaimer Only one cookie was harmed in the making of this photo.

“Special Occasion” Eating and Treats

I wanted to talk a bit today about the challenges of managing eating on “special occasions” and/or indulging in “treats”. This is an area where I have become more aware of the challenges and consequences, and yet I still struggle to conquer this situation.

For example, last Saturday, not only did I run a 5K, but later that night I attended my best friend Terri’s bachelorette party. Part of my job was to bring food. I gave this much thought because I knew I would be eating whatever I brought and I wanted to provide myself with lower calorie, somewhat healthy options. But I also wanted to do it in a way that the other gals at the party would enjoy the selections, with the options being kind to their waistlines.

This is what I took to the party:

Fresh Veggie tray (all fresh, local, organic veggies I washed & chopped myself the night before)
French onion dip – not the healthiest, but quite yummy!
Tortilla chips
Salsa
Special K Popcorn chips (sweet & salty)
Lofthouse Red Velvet Cookies

Since I had done the race that morning and burned a good amount of calories, I really didn’t want to spoil my calorie count for the day by splurging too much at this party. I carefully logged on calorie count what I planned to eat, one serving size of everything I brought, plus two drinks of vodka & club soda. This, combined with what I’d already eaten for the day, was going to put me +200 calories over my daily target (even counting the calories burned from my race) – which was an acceptable overage given that it was a ‘special occasion’.

As usual, everything changed once I actually got to the party. I stuck to my two drinks of vodka and soda, but I also indulged in several servings of gummy bears soaked in vodka and others soaked in rum. And one of the gals brought pudding shots, which I quickly refused when first offered to me. Soon all the ladies were sampling the pudding shots and raving about how good they were, I ended up having two of them. (And yes, they were delicious!)

I stuck to my plan of only eating one serving size of everything that I brought. But then Terri’s mom (who, by the way, is one of the coolest mom’s I’ve ever met!) also made homemade pita chips and buffalo chicken dip. I resisted it for several hours but finally gave in, and after tasting how delicious that was, I went back for seconds of that. She also made bacon cheese stuffed pastries, which I resisted as long as possible but eventually caved in and ate several of those. (Also, delicious!) Oh, and did I mention the red velvet cookies? You KNOW I couldn’t stop at just one of those!

All said and done, I’m sure that my day ended somewhere more like +1000 calories over my target instead of the +200 over target I had planned.

Terri& I at her bachelorette party, June 2013

Terri& I at her bachelorette party, June 2013

Now don’t get me wrong, I had a GREAT time at Terri’s party, and I am so happy to be sharing all these special occasions with her leading up to her wedding. I really enjoyed all the food, and drinks, and fun and laughing and all that great stuff.

What I am getting at is that I am having a hard time exercising discipline with food when I get outside of my normal, structured, planned eating patterns. This has always been an area of particular weakness for me, especially when it comes to sweet treats.

Exercising discipline feels too much like exercise…

It is an ongoing, never ending battle. The battle against doughnuts at the office. Birthday cakes. Celebration dinners. Home baked treats. Ice cream on hot days.

I brought home about a dozen of the red velvet cookies from the party. I have eaten one almost every day since then and only managed to abstain on two days.

Cookies: 4, Debb: 2 As usual, the cookies are winning

I find myself spending hours fighting the good fight in my head, trying to talk myself out of eating rich, delicious, sugary treats. It seems like I can resist for so long, but often I give in “eventually” and indulge. And part of me thinks that somehow I did good because of how long I resisted. When the fact is that the calories count whether I gobble them up the moment the urge strikes or if I “exercise discipline” for a torturously long time and then indulge.

In the end, I am unsure how to overcome this obstacle. I do not suspect my sweet tooth is going away anytime soon, I have had it my whole life. There is nothing I love more than sweet treats. However, I think if I am going to indulge at all I need to start just making the decision to do it, do it, and live with it and move on. Instead of fighting and trying to resist and putting myself through the guilt-trip wringer and then still giving in.

Unfortunately, that’s the best I have for this problem, at the moment….

In conclusion, I was just telling my husband I was writing a post that I don’t have a good ending to. Because frankly, I just don’t have a good solution right now. And he said “maybe if you read my post tonight on calorie count it will help”. This is what he wrote:

“And finally, as a good husband I am doing my part to help the wife get rid of the red velvet cookies that are tormenting her nightly in the kitchen.”

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I ran 5K, and no one was chasing me!

Saturday I ran the 5K race “Kona Run” in Northville! That’s right, I ran it!!
My official race time was 38:14 which is, by far, a personal best for me!

Getting ready to start the Kona Run 5K, June 8, 2013

Getting ready to start the Kona Run 5K, June 8, 2013

I am not a runner

If you’ve followed my monthly fitness stats at all, you’ll know that I am really not a “runner”. I’m more of a walker who sort of wishes she was a runner. But, my short little legs have a hard time building up too much speed (I am only 5’2″!). And I used to be an avid hiker. I have a knee injury from a hiking adventure many years ago which likes to flare up and cause me much grief when I push myself too hard trying to run.

Taking-in-the-view copy

Debb-NorthCountryTrail

Debb-holding-Molly copy

Somewhere around 8 or 9 years ago I did a 22 mile hike, in the woods (read: hills!), wearing a 30 lb. pack on my back, and with my dog – who loved the hike but tired out easily and repeatedly wanted to be carried! About 13 miles in, I injured a tendon behind my right knee and it became VERY painful to even walk. Every step was a new experience in pain. Unfortunately, I still had almost 10 miles to go to get out of the woods, there was no choice but to continue. My hiking partner also had a full pack and really wasn’t able to assist with my pack. I hiked in pain and in tears for hours!

My doctor diagnosed it as tendonitis and the problem with it is that while it heals up, it never really goes away. It is easy to trigger a flare up. About 6 years ago I had dabbled with running and found myself over and over fighting with flare ups in that knee.

In 2011 I bought a treadmill and started walking. I decided I’d learned my lesson in the past with trying to run, and bringing on the pain, and this time I would just have to settle for being a walker.

2012 found me signing myself up for a 5K race. Not sure what really possessed me to do that, I knew I couldn’t run it. But my husband and I went, and I walked it as fast as I could, and occasionally jogged a little.

2012 Shamrock'n'Roll 5K Race

2012 Shamrock’n’Roll 5K Race

This was the 2012 Shamrock’n’Roll 5K race in Plymouth, MI. I finished the 5K in 48:22. I wasn’t overly proud of my time, but I was very proud of myself for signing up for it, going and doing it, and finishing it! 🙂 At the time of that race I probably weighed about 138 lbs. and it wasn’t long after that I started putting on more and more weight, leading up to the re-birth of my fitness journey in September.

I am not a runner…Or am I?

So now, I’ve been using my treadmill for the last 9 months or so. I started out walking very slowly the first month. After a couple of months I decided to try out just a LITTLE bit of jogging. I worked in three 1-minute jogging intervals in my 45 or 50 minute walks. My ‘jogging’ speed was 4.0 mph. Which, is really a very fast walking pace but for me at the time was more of a jog. Each month I would add 30 seconds to my intervals. By April I was doing three 3-minute intervals of jogging, sometimes 3.5 to 4 minutes, and I had increased the jog speed the tiniest bit to 4.1 mph. My knee seemed to be cooperating with this VERY small and slow addition of jogging to my workout.

When I got into the month of May, knowing that this race I’d signed up for was in the beginning of June, I decided to up the stakes a bit and see if maybe I could do more running than I thought I could. I started with a week of 5 minutes walking, 5 minutes jogging. The next week I tried 4 minutes walking, 6 minutes of jogging. Then the next week 3/7. Seven minutes of jogging at a time felt like it might kill me, but…my knee seemed to be holding out pretty strong! This gave me hope and determination! Maybe I could be a runner?

Running 3.1 miles makes me a runner, right?

June 8, 2013 finds me standing a the starting line of the Kona Run 5K race in Northville, MI. The race starts at Northville Downs, a horse racing track. We start out with a lap around the track then hit the streets from there. I start out jogging out of the starting gate because, really, who wants to be the one who is walking right from the start right? I am thinking to myself, maybe I could jog all the way around the track then walk as we break out onto the street.

We leave the horse track, out through the parking lot and onto the street. I am still jogging. And I’m feeling pretty strong. With my Garmin Forerunner 10 strapped to my wrist, I am constantly checking time, mileage, pace, etc. I decide, as I’m getting a bit winded, that I will walk for just a few seconds. We’ve gone just under a quarter-mile, my mileage reads 0.20. I decide to walk until I get to 0.25 just to catch my breath, it is only the span of a minute or so. Then I start jogging again.

We round the first corner and start to make our way uphill. The first 2 miles of this course are mostly uphill. But I keep jogging. My breathing is pretty steady, knee feels good, I keep going. Again approaching half a mile I slow down at 0.45 miles and walk until I get to the half mile. I decide at that point I AM GOING TO RUN THIS WHOLE RACE! The only reprieve I decided to allow myself was at every quarter-mile, just that distance of 0.05 mile to walk and catch my breath.

Mind you, I am not running fast, in fact while I look like I’m jogging I feel like I’m moving in slow motion, lol! But I am jogging it and it makes me feel so good, so proud of myself! Around the 1.50 mile mark there is a very steep hill. My husband swears it was Mt. Everest but I think it was not quite that steep 🙂 People around me are slowing down as we climb this hill, many are dropping off to a slow walk. I press on and RUN UP THE WHOLE HILL!!! (OK, so I did allow myself a few seconds of walking once I got to the TOP of the hill, lol!)

As I am closing in on the last mile I have to admit I was really winded, my legs were tired and I wasn’t sure if I could keep running. Luckily the course was downhill the rest of the way and I started picking up speed a bit without as much effort.

The finish area was in a valley down a steep hill, and you had to follow this narrow sidewalk that was winding its way around this park to (presumably) a finish line…somewhere. The problem was it was winding in a circle and you couldn’t really see how far you were from the finish line. I really, really wanted to “finish strong” because this is a mantra that often rolls through my head as I’m working out – “FINISH STRONG!!” But I couldn’t help but start laughing a bit because it seemed like the finish line would never come into sight and I didn’t know how much more “finish strong” I had left in me, lol!

Finally, I am sprinting as fast as I can, the finish line is in sight, I hear the announcer call my name as my feet cross over the chip line. I stumble onto the grass at the end of the chute and drop to my knees, breathless and exhausted. I looked at my Garmin and see my time, 38:18 (I didn’t click the stop on the GPS right away so it recorded 3.14 miles, just a few seconds more than the official race time was recorded at.) Tears stung my eyes as I was overcome with joy.

I ran that! I ran that whole race! 3.1 miles, I did it!!

I am runner at last!

Crossing the finish line Kona 5K 2013

Crossing the finish line Kona 5K 2013

Then I looked up and saw my husband ahead of me in the crowd, smiling and waving at me. He finished 10 minutes ahead of me and also got a personal best time for him – 28:14! Hooray for us! 🙂

Debb_Jim_FinishLine_Kona2013

During my training, remember I was doing only very short intervals of jogging at 4.0 to 4.1 mph. My pace for this race ended up being an average of 4.9 mph!! It’s amazing sometimes, how much more we are capable of, compared to what we think we can do.

Baked Oatmeal with blueberries & bananas

Oatmeal, in my opinion, is one of life’s perfect foods! Delicious, filling, nutritious and low-calorie. It’s easy to make, and you can do a million things with it.

Oatmeal is also one of my favorite comfort foods. When I was a little girl, my mom used to cook oatmeal for me. She made the real “old-fashioned oats” that you cook in a pan (come to think of it, they didn’t even have instant oatmeal at that time, since, microwave ovens hadn’t been invented yet….yes yes, I know, really showing my age here!) Mom would plop the cooked oatmeal in a bowl, sprinkle some brown sugar on it and pour milk in it until when you stirred it, you ended up with something more like oatmeal soup. This thin, milky consistency is what I’ve grown accustomed to and it is soothing not only to my tummy but also to my soul.

My husband, on the other hand, has never been a fan of oatmeal. Or fruit. So, when I came across this recipe for baked oatmeal with blueberries and bananas, I was concerned I would be the only person in my household who would eat it. This situation has, in the past, kept me from trying many baked or crock pot oatmeal recipes that I found intriguing as I hate to go to all the effort and have it be something that doesn’t feed my whole family.

This particular recipe looked so good to me that I decided I really needed to try it, even if I would be the only one to eat it – it just looked THAT good!

Delicious warm out of the oven, and just as tasty reheated later in the microwave!

Delicious warm out of the oven, and just as tasty reheated later in the microwave!

The verdict? My husband agreed to try it. He liked it. I made it again the next week and he had a second helping! Then I tried other varieties of the recipe like strawberry-rhubarb, and just strawberry (both, also with bananas). I loved them all. Jim tolerated them, but began asking me to make the blueberry version again. This has now become a staple in our house, I make it almost every Sunday morning. We have it together for breakfast on Sunday, then I have enough left over that I can heat up a piece of it for breakfast all week before leaving for work.

This dish is simple to prepare, has very few ingredients. It does not use any added sugar, but instead uses honey as a sweetener. I personally like to use all organic ingredients – but I’m sure you can make this with any variety of the ingredients that you have on hand. This recipe is also very easy to adapt to any type of fruit or berries you may have at the moment.

Baked Oatmeal with blueberries and bananas:
Modified from: www.skinnytaste.com

Ingredients for baked oatmeal with blueberries and bananas

Ingredients for baked oatmeal with blueberries and bananas

Ingredients:

2 medium ripe bananas, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
1-1/2 cups blueberries (or one pint, or however many you have on hand!)
1 cup uncooked organic quick cooking oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup honey
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (you could use any variety of milk you prefer)
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9″ x 9″ glass baking dish with non-stick spray.

Spread the sliced bananas in the bottom of the prepared baking dish, top with half of the blueberries.
Drizzle 1 Tbsp of the honey over the fruit, sprinkle with 1 tsp of the ground cinnamon. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the oats, half of the walnuts, the baking powder, the remaining 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon and the salt. Stir lightly to mix.

In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining honey, the milk, egg and vanilla.

Remove the bananas and blueberries from the oven. Sprinkle the oat mixture over top, using your fingers to spread it out and even it out a bit. Then pour the milk mixture over top of the oats, distributing evenly so all of the oats are moistened.

Sprinkle the remaining blueberries over this mixture then top with the rest of the walnuts.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. After baking, allow to cool and set for just a minute or two, then cut into 6 servings, or 8 if you’d like to cut down the calories a bit more or if you have a bigger crowd to serve. Cover leftovers (if there are any!) and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl

Whisk up the milk, egg, honey and vanilla

Wisk up the milk, egg, honey and vanilla

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (147.5 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 186
Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5.0g 8%
Saturated Fat 0.6g 3%
Sodium 61mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 33.9g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3.9g 16%
Sugars 10.2g
Protein 4.0g
Vitamin A 1% • Vitamin C 12%
Calcium 2% • Iron 10%
* Based on a 2000 calorie die

The difference a day can make

How often do you step on the scale? Once a week? Monthly? Every day?

There seems to be endless arguments for and against every option. I have a standing appointment with my scale at 6:10 a.m. each morning to review the previous days events and their impact on my body weight. We do not always see eye to eye, but our daily meetings help me to start my day accurately knowing if what I am doing is working or not so I can adjust as needed in the coming day.

What, too soon?

I’ve heard a lot of arguments against weighing in daily; with the key take-away being that people feel their weight fluctuates too much from one day to the next, and they don’t want to get discouraged as they are trying to lose weight. I agree it’s possible for there to be significant fluctuations in weight on a daily basis, however, I believe this is due largely to poor diet and inconsistent weight loss habits. We should use that as motivation to clean up our diets and build more consistency in how we take care of ourselves.

I am a strong advocate for daily weighing so you have the time to react right away if the numbers start moving in the wrong direction. These numbers are also a good evaluation of the quality of your diet, and can even be an indication of hidden health issues. I think that if you’re eating the right things, in the right amounts, your weight should be fairly consistent.

(yes, yes, ladies, I know the “that time of the month” argument, but I think that week goes without saying – stay off the scales for 7 days, you don’t want to see whatever it has to say!)

Slow and steady wins the race

In the past, I used to see my numbers swing up and down quite a bit. But that was back when I was making poor food choices and didn’t have a very strong approach to losing weight. Of course, I didn’t realize all of that at the time. I used to eat a lot of “junk” and at times would just try to eat less of it to lose weight.

    Junk is still junk no matter how much of it you’re eating and it will have the same results in your body either way.

For example, eating a lot of processed and packaged foods – these things are loaded with sodium which will easily cause your body to retain fluid and inflate your weigh in’s. This can cause a big difference on the scale from one day over the next. I’ve found that eating a lot of sugary and/or processed white products can also cause a lot of unwanted action on the scale. Eating a lot of sugar, white bread, pasta or rice seems to clog up the digestive system and add temporary weight until they finally make their way…..um… you know, out.

Over the last year I have slowly but surely made significant changes in not just how much I eat, but more importantly WHAT I eat. (More about that in another post to come!) I have been amazed at the consistency of my weight! Even during the process of losing weight, I was very consistent. Here is an example of what my daily numbers would look like:

Mon. – 125.0
Tues. – 125.2
Wed. – 124.8
Thur. – 124.6
Fri. – 125.0
Sat. – 124.6
Sun. – 124.4
Mon. – 124.6
Tues. – 124.2
Wed. – 124.8
Thur. – 124.0
Fri. – 124.2
Sat. – 123.8
Sun. – 124.0

So what I see is a swing back and forth of just a few tenths of a pound. Whatever whole number I am seeing most frequently is the weight that I will “claim” as my current weight.

By weighing daily, I can monitor if I am on a downward trend or an upward trend. If most of my numbers are going down a little, it’s OK if they jump back up a few tenths of a pound, usually they’ll go right back down the next day or so. Typically I don’t see fluctuations of a whole pound at a time. If I start to notice a plateau where I am bouncing back and forth with the same half pound and never going below it, (or the numbers are going up and not back down) I know it is time to review my food logs and make note of my daily calorie deficits. I will probably find that I’ve been eating just 100 or 200 calories more a day than I really should and that is keeping me in a holding pattern. Usually just a tweak or two in my daily diet will quickly correct the situation.

So, what brought all this up?

What made me think to write a post about this topic, was the way I ate last weekend and how it affected the scale. Last Saturday I attended a Bridal Shower for my best friend, Terri. I anticipated going over my daily calorie budget and I tried to offset it by doing a good treadmill run that morning before I left. However, after 2 glasses of wine, 2 cupcakes, a plate full of pasta salad and chicken salad and lots of other munchies (including M&M’s and jelly beans)….when I tried to tally everything up it came to around 2800 calories for the day. (Keep in mind, my normal daily target is 1350.)

Terri's bridal shower June 2013 - Casey (left), Terri (center), me (right)

Terri’s bridal shower June 2013 – Casey (left), Terri (center), me (right)

The best part of the bridal shower was when I first got there and saw Terri. She hadn’t seen me since we tried on dresses in November.

The first words out of her mouth were “Wow, look at you! You don’t even look like you! I’ve never seen you this tiny!”

And she’s right! She’s been my best friend for about the last 15 years and she never has seen me this thin! That felt really, really good to hear her say. 🙂

One thing I have learned is that it takes a calorie deficit of 3500 calories to lose a pound of weight. I simply cannot starve myself enough to lose a pound a week, my average is 1/2 lb per week by creating an average calorie deficit of -250 per day. Conversely, it seems that about 1250 extra calories in a day can add over 1 lb. of weight to my body. I’m not crazy about this mathematical double standard!

As if the eating frenzy on Saturday weren’t enough to set my scale on tilt…my husband’s 40th birthday was on Monday, so we had cake and ice cream on Sunday! He also had asked me if I would please, for his birthday, make “sour cream cookies” like his Grandma used to make. So I searched the internet, found what I thought to be the right recipe (I had never tasted or seen these cookies he was telling me about), and at 9:00 pm Saturday after being at that shower all day, I made him cookies. And they turned out so delicious that I snarfed down several of them! Unfortunately they were about 135 calories each!

But the cookies were worth it, they made my husband happy, and he said they were “just like Grandma’s”, which made me very happy!
If you’d like to try the recipe I used, you can find it here:
Sour Cream Cookies

I am no longer married to a man in his 30's.  No, I'm not leaving my husband!  He's turning 40!!  :)

I am no longer married to a man in his 30’s. No, I’m not leaving my husband! He’s turning 40!! 🙂

I weighed myself Saturday morning before all this eating of sugar, pasta and the likes, and came in at 123.4 lbs. Sunday morning it was 124.8. By Monday morning I was up to 125.4. I gained a pound per day last weekend! But at least I am aware of it, and now I can really buckle down this week to make sure I quickly counteract this.

And that, my friends, is the difference a day can make.

This observation has really helped me to reaffirm in my mind that even though I am in “maintenance mode” now, I cannot stop being relentless with counting the calories, working out to burn calories, and exercising discipline with my food choices every day. The math doesn’t lie, and neither does the bathroom scale.

    You have to keep it going, if you want to keep it gone!

May 2013 – Monthly Fitness Stats

Ok so as I’m posting my stats for May, this will finally bring me up to speed and I’ll have all my months progress reports on here from the time I started getting back into shape up until now. After this I can start putting out some posts of other stuff that’s been on my mind! 🙂

When May started I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with the month, training-wise. This was sort of another “last chance workout” month for me, as the last weekend in May I had an appointment to take my bridesmaid dress in for fitting. That meant that if I was going to lose any more weight, I needed to do it now, because once the pins go in the dress I go into maintenance mode until the wedding in July.

What I ended up doing throughout the month was a complete hodge-podge of various things.

BASIC STATS:

Speed: 2.4 mph starting speed, Max walking speed 3.2 mph. Run interval speed 4.1 mph

This was another 0.20 mph increase over April for starting speed. I am reaching my full speed much quicker now which helps to increase my overall mileage and calorie burn. As with other months, increase speed by 0.20 mph every minute until reaching ‘max’ speed. First set of weight reps during this warmup. Max walking speed stayed the same as last month.

Duration: Aimed for 50 minutes.

Because I did some different things this month, my timing was different all the time, but if I didn’t have a specific plan in mind I just set my sights on basic intervals for 50 minutes.

Weights: 1 to 2 sets, 12 reps

This is the first time in many months that I started to drop off on the weight sets while walking on the treadmill. There were a couple of reasons for this. First, I did more workouts that were other types of strength training and didn’t feel as much need to work upper body during my walks. Secondly, I was doing more speed intervals, outdoor runs and 5K test runs where the weights were just too much distraction.

Incline: 5

Worked on getting consistent with incline at 5, but found this to be very challenging. Found I could do my walking at 5 but tended to drop it down to 4 during run intervals. Also, as the month went on and I started doing more focused goals on my runs I used less and less incline.

Average Burn: 300

I feel the need to comment here, that it bums me out the more weight I lose, the harder I have to work to get my burn! What used to be over 300 calorie burn workouts for me now are often just a little over 200 calorie burns. No fair that I work just as hard, if not harder and now I have to start eating less to maintain because I’m not burning as much as I did when I weighed more!

Ending Weight: 123.6

This is 2-1/2 pound loss from last month. I have now lost almost 27 lbs. YAY ME!! 🙂

At this point I will be moving into maintenance mode, although my “goal weight” was actually 120 lbs. But I need to maintain this size now until after Terri’s wedding in July so the dress I just had sized will still fit me!

OK – so I’ve mentioned a few times here that I was doing some “different things” this month. Here is a run-down of what that looked like.

Cross Training:

There is a workout that my husband found on an On-Demand video by a trainer whose name is Declan. He was following this video doing this workout for some time before our cruise, and when it was about to be taken off the On-Demand menu he wrote it all down so he could keep doing it. This month I started doing this cross training workout with him. I need to start building strength and muscle in my body in areas other than my legs!

This workout is a collection of things like push ups, jumping jacks, planks, high knee lifts, lunges, squats, side-punches, crunches and a bunch of other stuff. It takes us about 40 minutes to do 2 sets of everything and by the end of that 40 minutes I am sweating like I ran a 5K twice! And the next two days my gluts and hamstrings are so sore I can barely walk! I think that means it’s working 🙂

I added this about twice per week and over all cut down my treadmill time to about 3 times per week instead of 4. So, I was actually working out about 5 days a week most of this month.

Strength Training:

I had recently been reading a book called “The Salt Solution” which talks about the epidemic of high sodium diets in this nation and all of the health issues this causes. The author of the book offers up a solution to lowering sodium intake, and outlines a program for eating to break the salt habit. I am not at this point following that program, although I am going to be putting some of the recipes into use.

What I liked in this book was there was an accompanying 6 week workout plan that had a 6 day walking/running plan combined with a weekly strength training plan. I’ve been thinking about following some sort of set plan for a while just to go into auto-pilot and not have to think too much about what I want to do for my workouts and decided I wanted to try this plan. However, I am scheduled to run a 5K race on June 8th ( www.konarun.com ) so I was also wanting to push my training more this month in preparation for the race.

The last week of May, I did start adding this strength training in twice a week. But it is just a short, 20 minute workout. I’m using small weights, they are not more than 5 lbs. each, but they have metal plates that can screw onto the ends to increase the weight as I get stronger. The program is just 7 different exercises and is pretty easy to follow. It doesn’t burn a ton of calories, but I like having something fairly easy some nights that is still helping me build my muscles and upper body strength.

The walking/running schedule part of the program I will wait until June to begin, after the 5K race.

5K Race Training:

Did a few “test runs” this month to work on my time for the 5K race.
Last year, I did my first 5K and I walked most of it. At the time it felt like I was walking as fast as I possibly could, I jogged a little of it (a very little bit of it), and my time was 47:11. Not a great time to more experienced folks I understand, but to me, I was so happy to just have done it, and to have finished it!

Mid-month I did a 5K on the treadmill and attempted to do as much of it as I could at my normal ‘run’ pace of 4.1 mph. I did it in 42:00!! I couldn’t believe I could do that! I was hoping maybe I could come in under 45 minutes this year.

Later in the month, my husband and I bought ourselves Garmin Forerunner 10 watches so we could start hitting the pavement to be free of the treadmill and still be able to track mileage, pace, calories, etc. This has been fun, and challenging too. Heat/humidity fatigue, hills and wind resistance – these are all new challenges to a girl who is used to always being on the treadmill!

We did a 5K training run outside and to my SHOCK I was able to do it in just a few seconds over 40 minutes!! So now, I can’t wait to see what I can do in that race!

Run Intervals:

On my standard treadmill workouts…I had been (very) slowly working in run intervals. I think I started out with 1 minute intervals every 10 minutes a few months ago and have steadily added 30 seconds to that each month. Last month I was doing three intervals of jogging for 3-1/2 minutes throughout my 50 minute walks. So I was on pace this month to go up to 6 minute walking/4 minute running intervals.

Well, the first week of the month I decided to take that up a notch further and did 5 on/5 off. I amazed myself I was able to jog for 5 minute intervals! The next week I went to 4 minutes walking/6 minutes running and at this point I dropped my incline down to 3. (Yes, I was actually doing the 5 on/5 off at an incline of 4!)
The following week I did 3 minutes walking/7 minutes running. However, when trying to do this outside I found it really hard to keep up the run that long, as my pace seems to increase significantly when the treadmill is not pacing me, so I tire myself out quickly! The last week of May I worked on 2 minutes walk/8 minutes run and I have to say, it was hard for me. Really hard.

I’d like to think I could attempt to “run” this whole 5K race, but I’m not sure my stamina will hold out. We’ll see.

Stay tuned next month for June’s stats – I’ll be trying to follow that Salt Solution workout guide through the month after the race so I’ll give a full report on that next time.

April 2013 Monthly Fitness Stats

April brought with it a fresh sense of determination. After having struggled a bit in March with consistency & intensity dropping off a bit, I knew I needed to kick things back into high gear.

APRIL STATS:

Speed: 2.2 mph starting speed (which is 0.20 increase over last months starting speed), max speed stayed at 3.2 mph.

Duration: 50 minutes

Weights: 3 sets, 12 reps

Run intervals: 3-1/2 minutes at 4.1 mph
(this is a 30 second increase on the interval time, and a 0.10 mph increase on the speed)

Incline: 4-5

I really tried to get up to a consistent 5 on the incline, but I have to admit, that was HARD! Especially on the run intervals. The best I got up to by the end of the month was starting at 5 incline and keeping up with that through the whole walk except dropping it down to 4 during the run intervals.

Average Burn: 306

Ending Weight: 126.0

This is a 2.6 lb loss over last month! 🙂 Considering my initial goal was to get to 130 lbs, I NEVER thought I could or would reach this low of a weight, I am very excited about this!!

The size 8 pants I had bought in the last couple weeks have all been taken back to the stores for credit as they are all huge on me now. I’m feeling very comfortable in size 6 and even a couple of things are fitting well in size 4. I can’t believe just a few months ago I was SO excited to buy size 8 pants and now those just fall off me, LOL!

The Happy Cat

The Happy Cat


This is my cat, “Happy”, affectionately referred to as “The Happy Cat”. This is him doing his imitation of me flopped down, exhausted, after 50 minutes on the treadmill at a 5 incline!

Counting my cookies – MY STORY

Who is this girl, and why is she counting her cookies?

It’s time that I took a minute to introduce myself and give a little insight into the birth of this blog, it’s purpose, and my expectations of it; and what you can expect of it.

My name is Debbie. I am 40 years old, married for almost 5 years to the most wonderful husband (Jim) and we have a 15-year-old daughter (Cecilia). We live in the metro Detroit area and I work full-time in a customer service role with a large national industrial supply distributor.

My journey with health and fitness has been a long one. I have had a love/hate relationship with fitness my whole life. I go through cycles where I get really committed to being active and fit, then I tend to get lazy over a period of time and gain weight and become more unhealthy.

I love the way that exercising makes me feel and of course the way it helps me to look! But it can be challenging to maintain an active lifestyle when you work full-time and especially if you’ve let yourself go a bit, the less “in shape” you are, the harder it is to do the things you need to do to get back into shape.

Several years ago I (once again) reached my typical “fat weight” of about 150 pounds. I am 5’2″ so really an ideal weight for me is around 120 lbs or a little less. At 150 I am wearing size 12 pants, feeling sluggish and uncomfortable and feeling generally unhappy with myself. At that time, my husband and I started watching The Biggest Loser and decided to do a little biggest loser competition of our own. Each week we had a weigh- in, and which ever of us lost the least percentage of our body weight had to clean the cat litter boxes. (We have 2 cats, and 4 litter boxes – this is not a fun job!) Over the course of the year that followed (we started the day after Thanksgiving so that has become our “Fitness Calendar Year”) I lost 11 lbs.

I never quite made it all the way to my goal, I hit a plateau around 138 lbs and felt relatively comfortable there (in comparison to where I had been). That was when the laziness set back in. The frequency of my workouts diminished. I started eating larger portions, stopped tracking my calorie intake, went back to eating more “treats”. Over the next year and a half I had gained back the 11 lb. and then some.

The turning point.

September 2012, I was back up around 150. I had an 8 night cruise scheduled in March and would be standing up in my best friends wedding in July. I knew if I wanted some changes by those events I needed to start NOW. This was when I decided it was time to take control again and get back to where I wanted to be.

The ONLY thing I’ve ever found that works for me to lose weight is counting calories.

No fad diets, nothing crazy, just counting how many calories I eat, tracking how many I burn and creating the deficit needed for my body to burn stored fat and lose weight. So I logged back on to www.caloriecount.about.com and started logging my calories daily and tracking my activities/calories burned. (If you want to follow me there, you can find me under the screen name Starlanna)

You can check out my posts on this blog titled with Month/year to follow my monthly fitness journey summaries where I outline what kind of workouts I did and how I changed it up each month.

February 2012 in Bahamas, weight approx. 140 lbs

February 2012 in Bahamas, weight approx. 140 lbs


November 2012 at David's Bridal

November 2012 at David’s Bridal

May 2013 - after losing 27 lbs.

May 2013 – after losing 27 lbs.


To date I have lost 27 lbs, I went from 150 lbs to 123 lbs and shrunk from size 12 jeans to size 5/6.

Determination to maintain this weight drives me to keep up this blog, I am tired of the yo-yo cycle and I need somewhere to be accountable. In addition, as I will talk about more in later posts, my journey has led me to making a lot of changes in my lifestyle to improve my overall health. Like changing the kind of food I eat and how I arrange my days to include activity. I’m not getting any younger and I am determined get more and more fit and healthy as I grow older instead of gaining weight and watching my health deteriorate – for as much as I can help it anyway. It has been a long, slow process of baby-steps but the results have been wonderful.

Initially, I started logging some of this stuff using the journal tool on Calorie Count. But recently I started looking for inspirational blogs to follow and frankly I’ve just been inspired to start my own.

Let me just say, I know NOTHING about blogging. I am internet challenged, I feel like I am in the generation that just sort of missed out on some of this stuff, but I am up for the adventure of learning all about it!

I am not a professional blogger. This is meant to be a hobby for me right now, a place to track my progress, document what has worked for me and what I’ve learned. Share some insights about how I’ve lost the weight, how I’m keeping it off and how I’m improving my overall health with better nutrition. My main goal is to keep myself accountable to keep going.

My motto is “You have to keep it going if you want to keep it off!

Hopefully, there will be some folks who will stumble across this blog and find it somewhat informative, mildly amusing, and may take inspiration from it or learn a trick or two they might want to try in their own life.

My time to spend on this blog is very limited, since I work full-time and spend a fair amount of my free time working out or playing in my kitchen. I will be reading all comments and will most likely respond to them all but please do not be offended if I do not respond right away.

If you see something that seems crazy to you about my blog, please don’t judge – I am just learning how all this stuff works and haven’t figured out even half the features of WordPress yet. Your constructive suggestions and tips are welcome!