Monday, December 12, 2011

Once Every 7 Seconds

No. I'm not talking about how the classic reference to how often men think about sex. It isn't nearly as much fun as that. What I'm talking about is the frequency with which it seems I think about food. It would appear so far that by finally owning the "emotional" component to my eating, I'm now going to be faced with ALL of my food issues. This should be a fun winter.

Admittedly, there are times where my thoughts of food are much more infrequent - but right now, it is too damn often! I didn't really realize how much time I devoted to food. By the time you factor in: making my grocery list, shopping, thinking about what to have for my next meal, talking myself out of whatever it is I want for my next meal, bargaining with myself to get to have at least part of what I originally wanted, calculating the caloric/fat/sodium damage that will do to my daily allowance, tracking what I'm eating, preparing what I'm going to eat, and actually eating - it's like 23 hours a day! A slight exaggeration, but you get what I mean.

this is funny because it's true
This is a problem. But how do I shut it off? It's like people that smoke or drink. I now understand how much time they probably dedicate to figuring out how to get more of what they're addicted to into their system. If guys really do spend that much time thinking about sex, how the hell do they actually get anything done...wait....I think that explains some things. =)

I knew I had a food fixation...obviously...one does not develop this smokin' physique without staying on task - but I didn't really realize how often I think about it. I was washing my car on Sunday. I wasn't hungry in the least. But I found myself thinking about Cheetos. And then rationalizing how I deserved to have them - - I was burning calories washing my car (like 12 of them) - so I deserved a treat (a "single serving" bag is probably like 400-500 calories). That math doesn't quite work out. But even more disturbing was stopping and thinking about how often I could recall thinking about food that day. That's not even counting the times I had forgotten about. And don't worry - I wasn't going to get my freshly cleaned car dirty by going to get chips!

I think it's better when I'm at work. I have my lunch there, so I know what I'm having. It's now freezing and winter, so cost/benefit analysis is too weighted in the cost column to actually leave work to get anything. So work days are a piece of cake - right? Wrong. Today someone brought in doughnuts. And a vendor brought in an entire bag of mini-candy bars. Guess what entered my mind...frequently...all afternoon? It is so damn annoying!!

The good news is that so far I've been able to control myself..so far. It helps that I'm not actually "hungry" because I'm actually planning out my calories for the day, and spreading them out. But I'm like a little kid. Tell me I can't (or shouldn't) have something, and it's all I can think about! I'm going to try and continue to be strong, and not waste entire days focusing on food. And if that doesn't work, I'll look into the return of the labotomy.

On a sad note, I just heard from my sister that they had to put her dog to sleep. I am not a total lover of animals, but I did love Reg. He was the best 80 pound lap dog, ever. He was a good boy, and was just so damn happy to see you every time you walked in.
I'm just hoping that he's somewhere running really fast, because he loved it - and always looked like he was smiling when he did it. I'll try to smile through my next workout in his honor.
RIP Reginald Martin

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"I get so emotional, baby..." -Whitney Houston

I'm guessing it will come as no surprise to you that I've been less-than-on-my-game, lately. The biggest hint may be my complete absence from writing this blog. It's not that I don't think of topics, or feel like I have anything to say. It's because I don't want to be a depressing downer. And I feel like that is exactly what my entries would be. Downers.

I made an agreement with myself when I started this blog that I would be honest. Through the good, the bad, the ugly, the stretch marks, the entertaining, the depressing, the chaffing....I'd be honest about what I wrote about. And I want to stick to that commitment. But for the last few months, I haven't felt like I've had a lot of wins - so I didn't think any of it was worth sharing. But a few days ago it finally dawned on me. All of that "life" crap that I was sure had nothing to do with my attempts at getting health, are right smack dab in the middle of the issue.

Hi. My name is Natalie, and I'm an emotional eater.

There. I've finally said it. I finally SEE it. I never really realized just how much what's going on in my life affects - both positively and negatively - my ability to focus on getting healthy. And getting healthy - for me at least - requires focus. Getting health is a thousand different choices and thoughts a day. And for the past few (5) months, I haven't been making good ones for myself. I've come to the painful realization that my whole goal of "getting healthy" isn't as limited (eating and exercise) as I'd originally thought. It also includes money and family and friends and bills and contentment and self-esteem and time and self-worth - and all the stress that bag of crap produces. I made my own flow-chart to demonstrate my discoveries, but it wouldn't open on my computer. (for anyone that knows about my limited skills with graphics, you'll know what a loss this is that mine can't be used =)) Luckily, I was able to locate the one below. It sums up beautifully what it appears to have taken me 36.67 years to finally understand.

And the last 5 months have been a minefield of triggers, and I've been earning a solid F- for my ability to deal with them in a healthy manner. The stress causers: looking for a job/looking for an apartment/adjusting to my new expenses/unexpected bills/my car breaking down. And what is stress? A damn emotion. Some people respond to stress by "forgetting to eat". I, on the other hand, only want to eat crap. And although the "crap" has changed because of my new budget - and I can't afford to eat fast food constantly - the truth of the matter is that junk food is cheaper than veggies. And the other truth: it tastes better. But what you can't see when you're in the middle of this emotional eating frenzy, is that you're just causing more of the same problem. Eating crap, when what you really want to do is become a more healthy person, just causes more....are you with me people...have any guesses??  Negative emotions.

Stress/sadness/loneliness/etc --> making poor eating choices --> sitting on my couch when I should be working out --> guilt (EMOTION) over not working out --> more unhealthy choices --> back to the beginning.

Looking back on it, it is so damn clear. But at the time....I couldn't see that. Or more likely - I wasn't willing to admit it. Truth bomb: this never-ending emotional eating circle doesn't give a shit if you're stressing about money, or family, or friends, or relationships - it's just glad you're focused on something else, to keep you on the loop.

So now that I see it (finally) - what am I going to do about it?

I'm going to start with my finances. I have been so focused on not digging myself back into the financial hole I was in through the spring of 2010, that I don't really allow myself to see the whole picture. Looking around, I'm not really spending money on unnecessary things - but instead of justifying that I can get a bag of chips for $1.19, I need to put that toward healthier choices. I've had a few sites forwarded to me with cheap/healthy options, and I'll be studying them intently. This is also good for you guys - because I'll send links to delicious things. Although I don't go out much now - I will be doing even less of it in the future. Probably not a really negative, since when I'm stress to the hilt, I'm no treasure to have around anyway. Also - winter is a time of hibernation for me, so I'm more than OK with this decision. Hopefully my friends will like me a little better when I return to the scene - hopefully a little more stress-free and a little healthier. My family has to love me anyway...right?

Next up: Food. Cooking healthy meals (other than Baked Ziti...because let's face it - you can only have that for so long before you completely lose interest. Variety is the spice of life, right?) on the weekends, so I have lunches and dinners (and no excuses) for the upcoming week. There is so much information available these days, I really have no damn excuse to just do it - - and I know I'll have the time! And I'm off booze. The last time I remember feeling fully in control of my life, I wasn't cocktailing. And drinking at your house, by yourself, isn't probably a great thing for a person with a dependent personality to do.


Finally: Exercise. So much easier to do when I'm eating well. And I honestly don't hate exercise - it just seems like time I don't have when I'm busy spending every spare second in my own head worrying about things I don't really have any control of anyway. I'm going to focus on cardio - for which there are machines right here in my building. And then strength exercises I can do right in my own apartment. I have this great nautilus machine - it's called my own ass! I have enough body weight to provide plenty of resistance for a while. Who knows - maybe one day I'll be able to hold a plank for more than .5 seconds, and do a real push-up? Maybe. Once I get that financial piece sorted out, I'll get myself into a cheaper gym and a weight routine. If anyone wants to come visit with me on the treadmills, there's room! Let me know when you want to schedule our first gym-date!

That's my plan. Or at least what I think will help ease some of the emotional burden that's currently causing me to be disgusted with myself. I know I can do so much better than I have been, and I also see that I'm lucky. I finally realized what I was doing before I gained all of the weight back that I'd lost. Yes - I gained about 15 pounds back - - and I'm not particularly happy about that - - but I caught it. I didn't allow myself to gain 140 pounds, again. And honestly - I feel like I need to cut myself some damn slack! I think you have to do that sometimes, or you're guaranteed to fail - and turn right back into the financially destroyed fatty that you most fear!

So there it is. The truth about where I've been. The hope for where I'm going. Thank you for reading my nonsensical ramblings. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for being there. I appreciate all of you, and I'll show you that by being better. Being better for myself, and for you guys.

Do you have any budget-friendly meal tips or sites? PLEASE share them! I can't imagine I'm the only one that would benefit!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Baked Ziti - - 8 servings of delicious

I've shared a couple of times on my blog that I am absolutely in love with the Biggest Loser Baked Ziti. It is easy enough for me to make, but tasty enough to make me feel like I'm having a treat. It makes 8 servings (and who doesn't love one session of cooking, and eight meals?!?!) and the best part....dun, dun, dun....I actually like the leftovers! I don't typically do too well with warmed up food - so anything I find that is good out of the microwave is a total victory.

So let me get on with it. Below is the recipe from their book. I also add a 20oz package of ground turkey to this - - it adds some protein, and allows my brain to rationalize that it is even better for me because of it. =) They also get pretty specific about what types of cookware to use - - listen to them! I made this in a non-non-stick pan one time, and it tasted really metal-y. It isn't great. So listen. Surprisingly, they know more about this type of stuff than I do.

First you need to make the "Main Event Marinara Sauce". All of this will be used in the ziti.

Ingredients:
Olive Oil Spray
1 cup minced yellow or white onion
2 T freshly minced garlic
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup water
2 T no-salt-added tomato paste
2 t honey
1 T dried oregano
1 t dried basil
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
salt, to taste (optional)
20 oz package ground turkey

Directions:
Spray a medium nonstick saucepan with the olive oil spray and place over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until just becoming tender (they should not brown), 4 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and with a wooden spoon stir in the tomatoes, water, tomato paste, honey, oregano, basil and pepper flakes until well combined. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 1 hour. Season with salt, if needed.

**Notes from Natalie: I don't add any salt. Also, I brown up the turkey, and add that to the sauce after about 1/2 hour. Then I simmer it all together for 30-45 minutes. And do you see what I mean about the specific cookware!?!? I thought they were full of it.

Now for the Ziti!!

Ingredients:
Olive Oil Spray
1 (14.5 oz) box fiber-enriched ziti or penne rigate (I use Ronzoni Smart Taste - and I prefer the ziti to the penne)
1 (15 oz) container fat free ricotta cheese
2 large egg whites
8 ounces (4 cups) finely shredded reduced-fat mozzerella cheese (you may notice - as I did - that their quantities don't add up here. I use 16 ounces - 4 cups. It still isn't that much....)
1/4 t garlic powder
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Main Event Marinara Sauce (see above)
2 T grated reduced-fat parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450degrees F. Lightly mist a 13"x9"x2" ceramic or glass baking dish with olive oil spray.

Cook the ziti according to package directions until al dente. Drain. (I do this while the sauce is simmering)

In a large mixing bowl, mix the ricotta, egg whites and all but 1 cup of the mozzerella until well combined. (see - - only using 2 cups here wouldn't make any sense. And I love cheese) Add the garlic powder and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir in the cooked pasta until well combined. (I don't add salt, and I think it's just delish...)

Spread 1 cup (I use slightly more b/c of the turkey) of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the prepared dish. Add half of the pasta in an even layer over the sauce. Top the pasta evenly with another 1 cup sauce. Layer the remaining pasta over the sauce. Spoon the remaining 1.5 cups of sauce evenly over the top of the pasta, then sprinkle the remaining mozzerella and the Parmesan over the top.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil (I spray the bottom side of the foil w/ cooking spray, so the cheese doesn't stick) and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10 minutes longer, or until the mozzerella is melted. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces, or spoon among 8 bowls and serve.

Here's the nutrition info (w/o the turkey) per serving:
350 calories, 22 g protein, 57 g carbs, 6 g fat (3 g saturated), 20 mg cholesterol, 8 g fiber, 429 mg sodium

OK you guys! I hope you love it. And when you try it, you need to tell me how it was. And if you come up with any health upgrades, please share!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I'm thankful....

There are times (the last month in particular) when I host a mini pity-party for myself. While I do believe that all things are relative (example: a thin woman can feel the need to lose weight when she gains __ pounds, because that is uncomfortable for her - when I feel like that is just plain silliness, because she is 1/9th my size, and I would like very much to be that tiny) I have no legitimate reason to have this solo festivals of ridiculousness. So for Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to celebrate all of the things (and there are way more than I listed here) why I am one damn lucky lady. So, without further delay - my list of thanks (in no particular order).

I am thankful... for my parents. No matter what my issue - and Lord knows there have been (and continue to be) many...I know I can count on them to always be there to help. Always. Shout out to Sue & Steve. You guys rule.

I am thankful... for my nieces and nephew. I have known for years that kids weren't in the cards for me, and I still totally feel that way - but I am astounded by how much I love these little people. They are so awesomely entertaining. I'm so lucky to be a part of their growing up...and I really can't wait to watch their parents deal with that! Shout out to Macy, Jorey & G. Steve. You guys remind me I'm not completely dead inside.

I am thankful... that I decided to stock up on all sorts of kitchen supplies, even though I never cooked. Now that I cook regularly, this crap is really coming in handy.

I am thankful... that I have a job. This isn't a given these days. And having one I like is a bonus.

I am thankful... for my friends. You have let me live with you, introduced me to hiking and tolerate my anti-fitness, got me a phone when I "lost" mine, met me for countless gym dates, stood in as my IT specialist, and on and on and on. You put up with my victory dances and sass. I have friends from high school that although we only get together every couple of months, it's like we've never been apart. I prefer quality over quantity, and you guys are quality. You're just there...when there is no reason for you to be.

I am thankful... for helpful family friends. When JaLisa decided she wanted to challenge me last week, Mr. G stopped to test some things, and tried to get her started. Then he coordinated her tow and repair. Shout out to you Kenny G. You are handy as hell, and I appreciate you.

I am thankful... for my family. All the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, whatever you call the kids of your cousins, etc. I love that we still get together - maybe not as often as we used to, but we still see each other a few times a year. I love that you allow me to be a part of your lives. I appreciate each of you who does all the work of organizing, so we continue to celebrate holidays together. It's exhausting, but it's awesome. We are lucky.

I am thankful... that one of my grandma's was still alive to read my first (hopefully of many) book. Having your 80 year old granny tell you she really enjoyed your book is a pretty frickin' sweet thing. Shout out to Kay. She's living proof that you should smoke'm if you got'em. She's 80, and still likes her cigs. Enjoy your life, people. You only get one.

I am thankful... for the word "ninja". It never fails to make me smile.

I am thankful... that I still have my health. I may not be as healthy as I like, but I have my health. I can still work-out. I'm not on medication. It isn't something to be taken for granted.

I am thankful... for my sisters. Few people are lucky enough to have close relationships with their siblings like we do - not to mention you guys make me laugh like nobody else can. Ripping that piss-saturated carpet out really bonded us forever. Shout out to Wendy & Mackenzie. I love you.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Post #251: the one where I get my shit together...again

Well...did you guys miss me!??!?

I didn't really realize how much time had gone by since my last post, until I looked at the date on it. Oops. Been missing since October 10th. I wish I could tell you that I'd been absent because I was so busy working out, I didn't have time to post - but that would be a lie. A huge one. And you guys deserve better. So here's what I have been doing...in the form of a "Sometimes" list...

Sometimes...  you finally break down and give ALDI (a discount grocery store in my area) a try, and find it actually isn't nearly as scary as you'd made it in your crazy brain

Sometimes...  your return to the workforce messes with your ability to effectively time-manage yourself...for months...

Sometimes...  you feel like you're eating a lot better than you were, because you're cooking it at home - and then you realize you're still eating processed crap because it's cheap, and it really bums you out

Sometimes...  your costs triple, while your income remains the same - and it takes you a while to figure out how you're going to adjust to these new numbers - because you are terrified that you might slip back into your unresponsible (not a word, but you get my point) financial ways, and dig yourself right back into that hole

Sometimes...  if you worked out for the half the amount of time you thought about working out, planned to work out, came up with excuses not to work out, felt guilty for not working out - you'd be able to run a damn marathon by now!

Sometimes...  it really pisses you off that fruits and vegetables are as expensive as they are. I want the chips. They taste better. And they cost less? Come on world! Give me some damn incentive to eat the broccoli!! (other than it's "good for me")

Sometimes... You have to set yourself up with a weekly weigh-in - because you feel you have no accountability to anyone, or anything, anymore. It's Tuesday, by the way - and you can follow my progress (yes - there will be progress) on my Facebook page (see the link on the right side of my blog)

Sometimes... you make yourself a pan of Biggest Loser Baked Ziti, because it's fairly easy, delicious, makes 8 servings, and you actually like the leftovers - and your kitchen looks like a war zone. That's when you remember one of the major reasons you hate cooking. The clean-up.

Sometimes...  you think you need YC to move to Minnesota so he can babysit you - because even though you know a lot of things: you need to work out, you need to eat well, you can feel much better than you currently do, you can do some amazing shit when you put your mind to it, you're going to love the way you feel when you do all of the crap you're supposed to, your confidence will improve, your brain will work better if the rest of you is taken care of...and on, and on... you just can't seem to make yourself do anything positive on a consistent basis.


Sometimes...  enough is enough, and you get so damn sick of yourself that you just can't take it any more. Enough of the excuses. Enough of the hiding from you guys, because I don't have anything positive to write about. Enough. If I was J.Lo, I'd be training to kick my own ass when I got home.

Sometimes... you actually make yourself a schedule. Like literally start yourself a google calendar to schedule your health - like it's a job. Daily workouts, scheduled. I've also scheduled out to go back over all my literature from fat camp. You know those things that had me feeling like I had the world by the balls? Yeah - that stuff. Cover your nuts, world, cuz I'm back!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Preposterous Statements: why I can't go to the gym

As many of you know, I have given my notice of cancellation at LTF. I just can't justify the cost of their monthly membership, when I don't currently use the services (group fitness & the pool) that would make that worth it. So I have the month of October to figure out what I'm going to do instead. One of my options is the gym in my building. This isn't a long-term solution - - it only has about 5 pieces of cardio equipment, and very few weights - - but would work just fine for a month or two, to get me back on track. So last night I hatched a plan. I was going to get up this morning and go check it out. I was working the late shift today, so had an extra half-hour to work with this morning - so as you can see, the stars were aligning for success! I set my alarm, and drifted off to sleep...visualizing myself workin' it on the elliptical...

How things can change in 8 hours. My excitement over this new option went from red hot at 10pm, to non-existent at 6am. While I was sitting on the can trying to talk myself into it, Remus kept arguing with me! Here's a little of how it went -

Me: just do it.
Remus: but what if people are in there
Me: who gives a shit - you aren't shy, and you'll feel so much better if you go.
Remus: yeah - but is it really worth going through all the work of getting ready to possibly get down there and have people using all of the equipment?
Me: whatever - how likely is that, really?
Remus: well, do what you want - but wouldn't you be better-served by 45 more minutes of sleep?
Me: (silence)

Remus won. I didn't go. I laid in bed, feeling like a lazy pile. I really didn't go because I though all of the equipment might be in use? Really? I can really come up with some absurd shit. And that got me thinking....this isn't the first time I've talked myself out of a workout using this flimsy crap.

But...I can't watch what I want...
So I decided to make a list of my most frequent, toxic, mind-thoughts. A list of crazed confessions, if you will. And let me state for the record: if I heard anyone else using these as excuses, I'd slap them....or at least really want to slap them....but like waxing my eyebrows - I just can't do it to myself. So I thought maybe by sharing them, I might be compelled to stop using them? It's a crap-shoot, but worth a shot! So here are a few more:
  • (typically thought on Sunday night)..."I have to go back to a full week of work tomorrow. I better just take it easy, so I'm ready"....because sitting on my ass at a desk is something I couldn't do if I burned a couple hundred calories the night before. And why isn't this the rationale during the week, when I still have to go to work the next day? No damn idea.
  • "The gym is going to be soooooo busy". Yes - until you hit the jackpot and can install a home gym (to probably just avoid, also), you are going to have to deal with other people there as well. The good news? Some of them might be hot. So just get your ass there.
  • "My shoes are worn out, and I need new ones". Maybe if I was a distance runner. Maybe if I was partaking in some sort of specialized training. Maybe...oh forget it! There is no probable instance in my foreseeable lifetime where my tennis shoes should hinder me from a workout. Short of the soles literally coming off - there is nothing. I could make it through a typical workout in my socks with very little issue - so the fact that I want to blame my laziness on my shoes is asinine.
  • "There probably won't be any good parking spots at the gym, and I'll have to park far away". Ummm - HELLO!! Why the hell are you going to the gym? Heaven forbid you walk an extra 100 feet on actual ground, instead of a treadmill. Idiot.
  • "The channel I want to watch isn't in front of the equipment I like to use". This is what people on twitter would call a #FirstWorldProblem. Basically meaning - there are people in this world with real issues, so quit your damn bitching about something so damn insignificant, and get your ass to the gym - but that hash-tag would be too long.
  • "My comfortable gym clothes are all dirty" to appreciate this one, you have to understand that I don't wear cute things to the gym. I wear some variation of sweatpants and old booze t-shirts. So it isn't like all of my matching separates are dirty. And I could go to the gym twice a day for two weeks, and not run out of t-shirts. Basically, my nice loose stuff - - you know what I'm talking about - the stuff that doesn't make you feel like you're wearing a sausage casing - - is dirty. And it's probably dirty from sitting on my ass around the house. If only my mind could comprehend that all of those slightly tight shirts would fit a whole lot better if I just went to the gym...but alas, my mind is dumb sometimes.
I'm sure there are, and will be more...but this is what I could remember off the top of my head. Now if only I could use this mind for good, instead of evil....

Do you have a favorite go-to excuse for skipping a workout?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Budget: The New Motivation?

I am still struggling to make the time to get on here and blog! I apologize that they're so spread out. I think about things I want to share, constantly - but I'm just not making the time to get on there and do it. That will change. It has to. I miss it. I am learning that I do not adapt quickly to the circumstances around me. I've been working for 2+ months not, and I've been moved for 1+ month, and I'm still not getting it fully together.

I am horrific at time management outside of work - which let's be honest, is probably a direct reflection of the fact that I haven't needed any in well over a year. I am also determined to be more financially responsible than I've been in....ever - so I don't dig myself back into the hole I was in around April of this year. Adjusting to only 2 pay periods a month is much more challenging than I would have thought it would be.

But I'm doing it. And I'll be fine. And I'll get my shit together. And I'll be a frickin' rock-star. It might just take a little longer than I had anticipated - but doesn't everything?

So I have found one major perk to my current $$ situation. It has forced me, now that I actually give a shit about going in debt, to devise a budget. I guess I should be more clear - I've devised many budgets in my life, but I have stuck to exactly zero of them. This time I'm doing, and will do, better. (about damn time....I'm 36) So that perk....you know what you can't do if you're on a budget? Eat out all the time. Specifically - you can't eat fast food all the time. What is one of my major weaknesses? Fast food. TA-DA!!! Problem solves itself! It is magical!

Last weekend, for what may have been the first time in my life, I actually prepared meals for the week. Again - I've hit the planning stage of this many, many, many times...but seemed to always fall short in the execution phase. And as much as it amazed me - it did actually make this week super-easy, because all of my lunches were made. Who would have thought that all of those nutritionists/health-professionals, hell - even Rachel Ray - would have been right!?!? Maybe I should start listening to these guys a little more often. I'm almost a believer! Almost.

Slimming Down to Sexy Food Review: My favorite trial: turkey tacos using the 40% less sodium seasoning + greek yogurt instead of sour cream + a little bit of cheese + sauteed red and green peppers = deliciousness. A couple of notes: I don't know why the hell they put that extra 40% sodium in the regular seasoning. It is completely superfluous. I, and I'm willing to bet you, don't need it! And the issue I've had with even the fruity flavored greek yogurts in the past - the fact that they taste like sour cream - can actually be a huge benefit when you love sour cream, but don't want the completely empty/useless calories. Greek yogurt is proteiny, so the "people in the know" (see also: nutritionist/health people above) say it is a much better option for us.

I also wanted to share a couple of other food-related finds with you. Let me preface this by admitting once again that I am a person who craves immediate gratification. In almost every aspect of my life - food being one of the larger problem areas. Why else would a person live on primarily fast food? You feel like shit when you eat it, and it isn't particularly cheap (don't buy into that dollar menu bullshit - - it's a hoax to get you hooked). Wow - I get easily sidetracked. Anywho...playing in to this, I like to keep a few frozen meals on hand for those times when I need food within 3 minutes, or I'm going to lose it. I have found one that is delicious, and vegetarian, and contains two of my favorite veggies, and it pasta. And its only like 240 calories. VICTORY!!

And because it's fall, I am obsessed with this yogurt. Target's Archer Farms brand is one of my favorite lines. They cover all sorts of crap I don't, and shouldn't, need - but still want. They also have Pumpkin Pie yogurt. It's do damn delicious! I don't think they have it in the fat free variety, and this "low fat" is 170 calories. Kind of a lot for yogurt, but this is like a legit dessert. And if you couple it with the meal above, you still have a reasonable lunch! =)

OK. I think I've rambled on about food enough for a while. I'm going to take a break, but I'll be back to blog about some real shit soon. I promise. I'll cover exercise on the next one. If only a budget helped that one solve itself....

Do you have any ideas for cheap crap that's still somewhat good for you? Please share....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Don't Be A Hero

Today was the day. I was in charge of watching my two nieces (ages 6 & 4) and my nephew (8 months) at the same time. All 3 of them. At once. I was terrified! The two older ones - no problem at all. They can completely function independently - and tell me what the issue is, if one is to come up. That nephew on the other hand - - well, factoring him in made me nervous. Not because of him - he is awesome, and quite possibly the best baby I've ever met. Seriously. That isn't just my partiality speaking. But I'm uncomfortable with babies. I like them when they hit about 2 years old, and can speak. =)

So I showed up for duty this morning, got the low-down on what to feed them, etc. The sun was shining, so as soon as the boy woke up, we headed to the park. It was maybe like 1/2 mile away. The ladies rode their hot-wheels (I was told not to let them ride their bikes by their mom. I didn't ask why, I just decided to trust this tip and bank bikes.), and it went much better than the last time I took some kids to the park on their self-motorized transportation of choice. Rewind a few years (honestly no idea how many, somewhere between 5-10 is my best guess) to me watching my cousins S & J. J may have still been in diapers, and S is a few years older. S grabs his scooter and J hops on his bike with training wheels, and we're off. We get to the park, we're playing for a while when all of the sudden J looks at me and says "I have poop in my pants". I'm like...OK - this is not ideal. I didn't bring a clean diaper/underwear, and there was no bathroom in site. While I was working through that, J proceeded to inform me "...and I'm NOT riding my bike!". Perfect. So I got to carry his bike home, and then S's scooter the last half of the way. So you see - I have experience with tricky kid vs. park situations.

So back to today - - I load the nephew, the diaper bag, a bottle of water, cheerios, my phone, sweatshirts, jelly beans...you know...all of the essentials...into the stroller. I tell the 4 year old I will not be pulling them in the wagon - if she wants to go to the park, she has to pedal herself there. I go over the rules (basically just the one rule: Stop at every corner and wait for me) with the ladies, they confirm that they understand, and we're off. The trip to the park is almost incident-free. One small hiccup - the 4 year old stopping in the middle of the street to ask which park we're going to, when a car was coming - but other than that, perfect trip.

We get to the park, and there is much merriment. Climbing the rock wall, hide-and-seek, swinging (underdogs were requested, but I refused. I think we all know that would go one of two ways. 1. I fall flat on my face while trying to "run" under them or 2. I don't push them high enough, and their entire swing-encased body hits me in the head, knocking them to the ground. I agree to "push them really high" - so we it all works out). I got to push both ladies, and a friend of the 6 year old who showed up, on the circle swing. I can push really fast, so I am awesome.

Then comes the tricky point of the day. The "fireman's pole". The ladies are scared. I hold their legs the first couple of times down, but then tell them they have to do it themselves if they want to keep doing it. Why did I do that? I don't know. I will never do it again. The 4 year old (who is an attorney in the making) pipes right up and tells me I should show them how to do it. Shit. So I have a choice to make. I can tell them I can't - and lose all credibility when it comes to the ease of playing, or I can buck up and do it. Please keep in mind - I am 36. A good (at least) twenty years removed from my last playground experience. I am also severely too large for these new-fangled jungle-gyms (is that even what they're called these days?). But I knew I had to do it. How can I expect them to try new things, if I'm unwilling to try them?

So I find the steps up. The second my foot hit the first step, I knew I shouldn't do it - but I pressed on. I pushed my FUPA through the smallish openings in the frame to get from landing to landing. Finally I was up where they were, and looked down. HOLY CRAP you guys! IT'S HIGH! No wonder they're terrified! Of course the opening to get out to the pole is one of the more narrow areas, so I turn sideways, and wedge my fat ass through it. I hold onto the pole with both hands, put one leg out around the pole, and go for it.

blisters will form immediately
Mistake. For a split-second I thought everything would be fine. "I got this" were the exact words that ran through my brain. But no more did I have "this" through my noggin', then I remembered one major thing - I do not have nearly enough arm strength to hold myself up. SHHHHIIIIITTTTTTT!!!! That's what I was thinking for the .07 seconds it took for gravity to drag me down to earth. It was only once I landed, praying no one else was around to see my demonstration, that I realized that my right hand was ON FIRE! In my attempt to keep myself from breaking a leg with the sheer force with which I met the earth, I had given myself like a heat blister on two fingers of my right hand. I'm not going to lie - it hurt like hell! And I instantly had a huge blister on my middle finger. In my attempts to be a hero, and show them all of the fun that can be had at the park - I looked like a jackass, felt like a jackass and gave myself an injury. Who knew I could get into such shenanigans with young kids!?!?

But injury aside - it was an entertaining day. And I got a little exercise. And I got to soak in some vitamin D. And in this tundra we call Minnesota - we're never sure how many of those we have left. But I think next time I'll leave the playground demonstrations to their more fit aunts and uncles. I'll just remain the muscle on the ground.

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend, and have an even better week.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

the anti-recipe for success

Since I am in the midst of a segment of my life where I am the least of an authority on how to succeed, I figured I should share the results of some research I have performed that may help you avoid being a failure. That's almost as good as succeeding - right? I am working on serving a purpose, no matter what!

So here's what I've got - - PITFALLS TO AVOID WHEN TRAINING FOR A 5K - by Natalie Kath

Before I move on to sharing what not to do, let me paint you a picture of this period in my life. It was the first weekend in August, 2011. I had just started my new job 5 days earlier. It was a warm summer's eve...on a train bound for nowhere...I met up with the gambler....we were both too tired to sleep...wait! That's not it. So I had started a new job, after over a year of joblessness. I was trying to adjust to having actual duties during the day - things that I couldn't push off to a more convenient time. I was failing miserably in many areas - working out, eating well, prioritizing effectively.... During my month of "Move It 2 Lose It" success (June) I had gotten cocky, and signed up to do a 5K with my cousin-in-law while we were up at Family Fun weekend. Don't ever get cocky. No good can come of it. I don't know that I exercised since the day I signed up. I had also spent a fair amount of time eating like crap. It wasn't great. So now that I have somewhat set the stage, let's get this show on the road.

Pitfall to avoid #1...  when planning to do a 5K (and by "do" a 5K in my world, I mean: walk slowly), and you have a lot of bod to haul along with you on the route, you may want to actually exercise consistently beforehand. Maybe workout a few days a week, for at least a month or so, leading up to the walk/run. It is a bad idea to completely stop working out for over one month prior to this walk, and assume everything will be fine.

Pitfall to avoid #2...  completely ignore the fact that your body needs water the week before your "race". I'll admit it. When I started my new job, I struggled with how to drink as much water as I needed. When I was sitting at home, it was easy to keep the glass full - but as I was training in at my new gig, I would forget. Most days I only got a glass or two in when I got home. Considering you're supposed to divide your weight in 2, and drink that many ounces of water, I was failing miserably. Two glasses of water wasn't enough to support half the weight of my left foot, much less the entire mass of my bod.

Pitfall to avoid #3...  it may not be the greatest idea to eat greasy/fatty food for an extended period of time, and then only eat one meal the day before your walk (or run if you're super-ambitious). And it is definitely not a good idea to make that one meal a plate full of cheesy, salty hotdishes (or casseroles, if you're fancy). Sure...you can try and tell yourself that you're "Carbo Loading" - but the truth of the matter is that any beneficial carbs you may be ingesting are far out-weighed by the amount of fat/butter/salt/cheese, that is not going to help you be successful.

I did not obey any of these pitfalls, and it lead to disaster. I was not feeling great from the start, but when I was almost to the half-way point, my side started to hurt. I couldn't catch my breath. Then the pain got worse. I didn't finish because I felt like I was being jabbed in the side with a knife, and couldn't breathe! Ridiculous and unacceptable. I mean, seriously. I've done 5K's before. This should not have been something beyond my capability range. I know it seems silly - but when you don't take care of yourself, your body will rebel. It was basically Remus' way of telling me that he was winning. His "screw you" to me, if you will. Mark that one for Remus, zero for Natalie.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's Been Happenin'

Holy balls you guys! I have missed you! I've planned to get back to blogging about a million times, and then I always get sidetracked! My apologies for my extended absence, but I've had a couple of things going on - and I foolishly allowed them to keep me from you. I think I might be getting my crap together, so there should be smooth sailing from here on out!

I thought I might give you a rundown on what I've had going on the last month or two - and hope it is an acceptable excuse for going missing.

As many of you know, I was on the job hunt. I know I tried to explain to you what that was like (job hunting is the new dating, etc.) - but the best word to describe it was: STRESSFUL!! I was nervous because I hadn't had an interview for a job in like 14 years...little did I realize that was the least of my concerns! I wasn't even getting calls back for interviews! Seriously. I sent out what felt like a million resumes, and nothing. No response. No phone calls. No nothing. Well - that isn't completely true. I did get two responses from shady people who wanted me to work for them because they travel so much, and were out of the country. No thank you. I wouldn't do well in prison.

So the panic set in. And with the panic came laziness. I stopped going to the gym. When I could have used the endorphins most, I decided sitting in my friend's basement and stewing was the better option. (I can make some really good decisions). Skip forward a few weeks, and all of the sudden it happened! I was contacted back by three places. I had phone interviews, and two actual interviews (the third one found someone with matching experience, so I was out of the running). I got one of the my actual interviews. I am now the office bitch at Keller Williams Realty. WOOT! I love all of the organizational, behind the scenes stuff - so this is a really good fit for me. I kind of love it. I also genuinely enjoy the people I work with - and even more shocking - they seem to enjoy working with me!

So I started work on August 1st. Then I had Family Fun Weekend. Then I had to find a place to live. Then I had to pack. Then I had to move. By September 1st.

The apartment hunt was interesting. So many people are renting now, that there isn't a lot available. I went on Craigslist and looked around, and magically found something that is perfect! And it ended up being really close to my sister, her hubby and my nieces and nephew. Perfect! The application process was a bit of a mess - but everything worked out, and I was in! I recruited some fantastic friends and family to help me move on the 1st (basically just took my stuff up to my apartment, threw it in, and then went for pizza).

It has taken me about 2 weeks get fully unpacked. Labor day weekend was a loss - my youngest sister was visiting from Chicago, and it was Granny Kay's 80th birthday party that weekend. I lived among the ruins for a while, but it is finally coming together. And this weekend I get to shop for a new couch!


Then I realized that in my haste to figure out how to schedule my life (it is a major adjustment going back to working full-time after over a year of foot-loose-and-fancy-freedom), that I had forgotten to worry about hooking up cable/internet. That further delayed my return to you. I will work on getting that up and running next week. In the meantime, I will just have to go to the "business center" in my building, and use one of their computers to stay in touch with all of you!

So that is it. That's what I've been up to. It may not sound like much to you - but it was enough to sideline me. =) So now it's time to pull it back together. Start eating well, again. Start going to the gym, again. Get healthy...again.

I'll be back, soon! No more of this "months between postings" business!

Hope you all are well, and enjoyed your summer! Now let's bust it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Under Construction


Any good Minnesota resident knows - if the roads aren't covered with snow and ice, then half of them are being ripped up and repaired in some manner! It seems I can't get anywhere these days without merging, or detouring, or both. It is kind of how I would describe my life in general right now.

Nothing is easy. Nothing is a straight shot. No task can be completed incident-free. Or at least this is the way things seem. Now it could just be my crazy brain is giving me this skewed interpretation....and it is extremely likely that that is the case...but it is still causing me angst. So I am going to take things back, to when I shared everything with you guys. I'm going to be honest - not that I was intentionally trying to not be honest  - but I've gone off the grid. So here we go...here's my vomiting of facts: (that paints a really pretty word picture, doesn't it?)

  • My slacking has been completely unacceptable for the month of July. There is really no other way to put it. And because I am going to earn that iPad - I am now in big trouble for August! Lots of ground to make up. But I will do it.
  • I have been eating like absolute crap. Not just a little. A LOT. Lite on the veggies, heavy on the grease. It is not a recipe (pun intended) for success.
  • I have actually had a few interviews/phone interviews over the past couple of weeks - and hopefully they'll turn into something. Someone has to realize how magnificent I am - right?
  • I have allowed my obsession over my job-hunt completely derail everything else. It made a really handy excuse to be lazy as hell.
  • One bright spot right now is that a book is printed, with my name on it, and that is pretty frickin sweet
  • I have determined that alcohol is not my friend. It makes me walk into pools with my clothes on. It makes me sing karaoke. It has even caused a victory dance to be choreographed, and performed, by me. It basically gives me the green light for all things jackass-like. I need to go back on the wagon. (Please note that I don't have a drinking problem - I've gone over-board twice in the last month, and that's a lot for me over the past couple of years. It is just one more thing I've let slip.)

The one in the blue is me last Saturday night!
 So that's what I've been up to. Just derailing and obsessing. I had made a comment, or at least thought about making a comment, in a previous post about how job-hunting is like dating. It is true. Or at least it's like my form of dating. Or what I can remember of dating ... it's been a while. Here are the similarities, as I see them:
  • Sending out a resume is like giving out your number. You wonder if your resume will get them interested enough to pursue you. With a guy it's like: Will he call? Did he like what he saw of me enough to make the effort to learn more?
  • The interview is like the first date. With the interview you get kind of nervous. You try to be yourself, but it's a guarded version of yourself. Same way on a first date. You get butterflies. Some friends need a cocktail or two before, just to settle their nerves. (hey - maybe I should have been doing that before my interviews?) You try to be as honest as you can without over-sharing. You try to be witty, and sound smart, and smile. With the interview, or the guy, you don't want them to see all of your crazy up front! You want to ease into it over the next few (or few thousand) meetings.
  • Post-Interview and Post-first date: will they call? Was I what they were looking for? Did I say too much? Should I have shared that story? Did they think I was qualified - to be their office bitch, or their girlfriend - because everyone has a bit of a checklist? Did I scare them away? Should I have laughed at that? I was basically just being myself - - was that too much for them?
And I've discovered a negative of this cell-phone carrying, always in touch, day and age! (I can't even believe I'm saying this - because I LOVE MY GADGETS!!) But if you were starting to date before the world had cell phones you might be able to relate to this - - you got sick of staring at the phone, and willing it to ring. You could feel yourself going batty, hoping he'd call. So what did you do? You got the hell out of the house! For any reason! I'm going to go for a walk. I'm going to run to Target, and wander for an hour. This would be the perfect time to buy stamps! Whatever you could come up with to kill some time so you didn't just sit there, gradually losing your mind. But now there are cell phones, that we carry with us at all times. And we get our emails directly to those phones. I am so grateful for technology most of the time - but now it is a bit of a curse!  No matter where I go, it's with me. Taunting me with it's non-ringing and non-email-indicating-buzzing. The good news is that I leave it in the car when I'm at the gym. So I talked myself into going today. It was a nice break. =) And hopefully I'll be able to do it tomorrow. And the day after. Until something fantastic comes my way, and this nuttiness can subside.

So there you have it. Job-hunting is the new dating. And cell phones, for all of their great perks, can be the devil.

I hope you're all having a more productive month than I am! I promise to be more inspiring going forward. Enough is enough!

Monday, July 11, 2011

a wedding, two pools and the "accident"

This weekend I was reminded of why it is that I don't drink very often anymore. Hangover. Major hangover. But at least I did the work to earn it. I had my sister's sister-in-law's (did you follow that?) wedding on Saturday. I tried to be somewhat helpful with a couple of the babies before and during the wedding. I ended up getting out of part of my duties when I got to stop for a beer on the way to the reception, and that is where things started heading downhill. It was delicious. You really can't beat a cold beer on a hot day - and it was h.o.t. The good part about high humidity - at least for me - is that it kills my appetite if I'm out in it. So I wasn't really hungry - but I sure was thirsty. And I had a ride home, so I was thirsty for beer. I did what I could to insure I will never be invited to another of their family functions by going in the pool with all of my clothes on at about 11pm. I figured I hadn't stopped sweating in about 7 hours - why not just finish the job off? Rational thinking...right? I'm not going to lie to you - it was the best decision my booze-addled brain has ever made. I was completely cooled off after that - and could even get in some dancing. I was basically just a visual treat for everyone still in attendance. I was a never-ending display of jackassery.

Then I opened my eyes on Sunday, and was reminded of why I don't do that anymore. Throbbing headache. I threw some water and ibuprofen down my throat, and went back to bed. I laid low for the day, in the AC - and was feeling better in no time. The one positive for me was that I finally let go of my "my arms have to be toned to wear a tank top" dream - and wore one anyway. Were my arms pretty? No. But did it possibly help my already over-heating body stay just a little bit cooler? I think it did. I finally took the leap, and I'm so glad I did! I feel so liberated!

Last week was an epic fail as far as moving my ass was concerned, but I went into this week with a plan. I headed to the gym today to put in somewhere between 5-10 miles - whatever I was feeling once I got there. I did 7. I feel like I was a little dehydrated (see the weekend torture above for the reason) - and my bod just wasn't feeling up to much more than that.  I got my heart rate up, and did some major sweating - so I was feeling pretty kick ass when I was done.

I also decided that today would be the day to head out by the pool for a little bit after my workout. I even got to burn some extra calories by trying to wedge my sweat-soaked body into a swimsuit. No easy task, I can assure you.

The pool was packed - and had many resemblances to the "kid hell" that I have seen in my nightmares. I went to the back corner and picked myself out a chair. There were like 4 adults by me. It was perfect. I was just thinking I might be ready for my second trip into the water to cool down when I heard the whistles. I assumed it was just break time. I was wrong. One of the young lifeguards came by to tell me there'd been "an accident" in the pool, and they didn't know how long it would be closed. He was young and nervous, so I gave him a break and didn't pry further. Instead I put my detective hat on, and set to trying to figure this mystery out. An accident...hmmm...I don't see anyone looking particularly panic-stricken. I don't see emergency services personnel. I don't see a group huddled together trying to save anyone. So what could this "accident" be? With all of those kids in there - I was certain the first time I went in the water I was swimming around with about a 50/50 mix of chlorine water and urine, so I doubt it was just a pee-accident. And that's when I knew. Someone had a poop accident. Sure enough - there was one of the bikini-clad lifeguards (seriously - when did they start wearing bikini's? That is NOT going to go well if you're trying to save someone!) was over with the net on a stick attempting to fish something out of the kiddie area. All I could think of was Eddie Murphy singing "and then a big brown shark came...." from his Delirious stand-up video. My suspicions were confirmed when a girl that appeared to be about ten greeted her friend by my chair with "someone crapped in the pool". I took that as my cue to leave.

I'll be heading back for a workout tomorrow. Until then, may your day be crap-free!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pity...party of one

I found myself having one hell of a pity party for myself on Thursday. There was no legitimate reason for it, but it was happening. There were lots of tiny things I could blame it on - but the truth of the matter is, I was being a spoiled brat. I have this thing within me that on occasion allows me to feel completely entitled. Like things should go the way that I want them to, and move at the speed I want them to. That's legit, right? It all seems pretty easy, and cut-and-dried to me. I should control everything around me. I am at a complete loss as to why the rest of the world hasn't caught on to the fact that things should happen as I want them to!

Actually - I don't really feel that way about everything in life....or at least I don't think I do. I understand that I have to work to make things happen. That positive things are very rarely going to fall in my lap - - and I already had a horseshoe up my ass when I got this book deal. But when I've been making an effort, I just feel like things should work out. And they should work out quickly. At least some of the time.

So when I caught myself sitting at my desk - staring back and forth between my inbox and my phone, willing someone to contact me with a fantastic opportunity - I decided that was enough. What's the saying? A watched pot never boils? Well watching your email inbox like a hawk doesn't make a new message appear. And longingly staring at your phone won't make it ring - whether you're waiting for a prospective employer to call, or that hot guy you gave your number to last weekend. It just doesn't work.

So I once again had to have a stern talk with myself. I swear - I talk to myself more than I talk to other people sometimes. I guess I have been needing a lot of lectures. But this one was positive, and it seemed to work. I told myself to get my ass off this chair, and go to the gym. Quit using my self-imposed stressful life situation as another convenient excuse to be lazy. In other words - stop frickin' whining, and do something positive. And you know what - I felt so much better when I got home. Endorphins, baby. They're the real deal.

So I need to remember that over the next few weeks, as I continue to look for that perfect employment opportunity....the gym is a great stress reliever, and might just help me remain sane....maybe....

Monday, July 4, 2011

Checking Myself Out

Get your minds out of the gutter people! When I say "checking myself out" I meant I google'd myself. Wait...that still sounds kind of dirty. But you know what I mean. I have been on the job-hunt trail lately - so I was curious what people would be able to find on me if they were looking. I figured on most of it: I have a facebook page, you can find me on Twitter, you can see I'm on LinkedIn, I write a blog...yadda, yadda, yadda....but there was one link I didn't expect to see.

It went a little something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Natalie-Kath/e/B0052XMDZK

this screams professional - right?
HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS!! MY NAME IS ON AMAZON.COM!!! I'm not going to lie! I was somewhat stunned!! I had absolutely no idea my book would be available through Amazon until January! And Amazon even has a place to do a bio and stuff in an area called "Author Central" - which I now, apparently, qualify for!! OMG!!! Now I just need to get a usable picture - because I'm not sure they'd care for this pic of me with my "sexy bitch" goblet.

This was just one of the many fantastic things going on this weekend! I may not have done a ton for my physical well-being (I was a gym slacker, but did get to do one beginner Zumba class on Monday) - but I did a crap-load for my emotional well-being. I spend the entire day Sunday on a deck overlooking Lake Minnetonka with a ton of awesome people, and then got to hang with family and friends on Monday. The weather was GORGEOUS, and I even have a bit of a tan to show for it. It is Monday night and the best description I have for myself right now is "content". This weekend was so great!

So now that I got to enjoy the most perfect weekend, it's time to get back at it tomorrow. I'm going for 10 miles on Tuesday....and I know I can do it.

What's the most shocking thing you found out when you google'd yourself?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Obstacles

I woke up this morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. I had less than 15 miles to go to actually meet my June goal for our current mission. I went to happy hour and dinner with a bunch of friends last night, and was still on a high from seeing all of them. I was determined to not let my stress continue to ruin my life - everything is fine, and it's going to work out.

Then I got out of bed.

As soon as I looked in the mirror, I realized that the horn (see also: blemish or zit) I had developed and tried to treat by ignoring until Tuesday night - on the left side of my jaw had grown. And not just grown - it now had my entire jawline puffy, and it was now painful to touch it or smile. I am not claiming that my jawline isn't normally puffy - I have an anti-chiseled jawline - but it makes me feel like I look like I got punched. Mainly - I think my horn has taken on a life of it's own.

Trying to ignore the pulsating lower quadrant of my face, I got dressed and headed to the gym. The timing was just about perfect - the Twins game was about to start, so I'd have something to listen to. Walking in, I was somewhat more distracted than usual. There were a lot of large trucks working on the outside of the building, and a lot of taped off sections to avoid near the entrance. I clearly wasn't paying enough attention because I quickly realized once I was on the Octane machine that I had stepped in gum. Now I not only had gum on my shoe, but it was all over the foot area on the machine. Thank you, and shout out to, the jackwad that spit their gum out in the gym parking lot. You had to have passed a minimum of five garbage cans on your way out of the building. Hats off to you for waiting until you were in a high-traffic area to spit it on the ground. You're awesome.

In spite of my morning having a somewhat rocky start, I still put on 8.22 miles between the Octane machine (I wasn't feeling it today, and finally just surrendered to those feelings after 5 miles) and the bike. I have less than seven to do tomorrow to reach my goal for June.

I have been feeling somewhat sluggish the last couple of weeks - probably another sweet symptom of the stress I've been feeling. But Friday starts a new month. A month in which I have to do more distance. So I better turn this frown upside down, or get this butt out of it's rut, or go with the notion to get in motion. (sorry - I just made a couple of those up, and they're awful!)

So tomorrow I'm going to wake up in the optimistic mood of today, and trust it will go a little better!

Monday, June 27, 2011

the stress is great within me

make that tacos, and that's been me
This week I've learned that a good positive attitude, and being really optimistic, only takes you so far - and only lasts for so long. Being fully immersed in the job-hunt is stressing me out! And as I have learned - I have some opportunities for improvement where my dealings with stress are concerned! When I'm feeling stressed out, I hoover anything filled with fat and salt. A deep-fat-fryer becomes my best friend. I guess something about the sound of my arteries clogging relaxes me? I also learned earlier this year, as an added bonus, my hair falls out! Awesome! Nothing hotter than a greasy, bloated, bald lady - am I right fellas?!?!

So the good news is that I was able to identify last week that I was in my stress-spiral, and tried to yank myself out of it. I stocked the pantry with healthy-ish vittles, and tried my best to be strong! I have learned (see also: been reminded of) a couple of things:
  1. I LOVE grapefruit. Cut it in half, with a packet of faux-sweetener, and go to town. Delicious.
  2. Plums are yummy. That is all.
  3. Crystal Light might actually be saving me from having complete organ shut-down
  4. When you stop eating a lot of salt, and simultaneously go back to the gym - your pancakes come back at full-force!
  5. Job hunting is like dating. You wait by the phone (or computer) wondering if they'll call (or email). You wonder if you said the right thing. You wonder if they'll like you. 
And although I can totally identify what is going on - I still can't stop myself from wanting to eat crap. Just last night I had to have a REALLY stern talk with myself. It was almost 9pm. I wasn't hungry. But I still wanted to go get tacos. Why? I have no damn idea. But I totally got the win.

I guess I was just feeling stress about the job hunt. But maybe I need to get some perspective. I have been hard at it for like two weeks. A number of the jobs I applied for didn't even close until last Friday. I have moments of extreme positivity, where I'm sure there is someone out there that is going to realize what a fantastic employee I will be, and how much value I will bring to their company. Then I have the lows - which is also tied to my need for immediate gratification - when I don't understand why I haven't heard from them within 24 hours of sending in my resume. I just need to take a chill pill, and trust that something fantastic is coming my way.

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I am not a person who is typically content to "drink" their calories. I want to actually eat. I need the satisfaction of chewing. But in the summer, post-workout, I am OK with a protein shake to hold me over for dinner. Here is the recipe for the protein shake I'm in love with! It uses powdered peanut butter!! The whole thing is only 260 calories - and it really does fill you up!
  • 1 heaping scoop of (VegaMixx??) protein powder (I am using vanilla, because they didn't have chocolate - and it is still delicious) = 100 calories
  • 2 Tbls powdered peanut butter = 45 calories (SERIOUSLY!)
  • 1/2 sliced banana = 55 calories
  • 1 cup almond milk = 60 calories
  • ice cubes/water = 0 calories
I use my Magic Bullet, and it is ready in less than 1 minute. Instant gratification is my friend.

UPDATE!! BOOK NEWS!! I guess they are going to reprint in paperback later this year - so it will be available in stores like Barnes & Noble around January 1st! That's pretty damn exciting!!





Do you notice you eat more based on certain emotions? How do you control it?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

But I "earned" it!

I cannot seem to shut my "validation" switch off. I'm not sure if anyone else out there has this particular issue. It is that internal voice that tells you that if you do something good - no matter how small it may be - you are somehow entitled to a reward. I have it in many aspects of my life. It is a major part of what dug me into the financial hole I wrote about recently. But for this post I am talking about my workout vs. food issue.

I have heard it a thousand times - it is more about what you're putting into your body, than how much you exercise. As much as I keep trying to prove that isn't true, unfortunately it is. But how do I stop my brain from telling me it's OK to reward myself with fat/sugar/salt for a job well done? The "I worked out really hard today, so it's OK to have cheese curds" or the "I'm having a salad instead of a burger, so I can pile anything I want on top of it....it's still a better choice". I can rationalize just about anything in this brain of mine. Now that I am actually working out more than I had been recently, this validation/reward issue is really back with a fury! Every day I heard: I did "x" miles today, so it is OK to get tacos and potato oles. I'm an idiot. Or actually - Remus is an idiot. I blame him. I need to get some duct tape to shut him up.

It went on for about a week, and then it dawned on me (again)...why the hell am I busting my ass at the gym, to immediately eliminate any benefit with what I shove in my mouth? Wouldn't it be nice to see a reflection of the work I'm doing at the gym on the scale? So yesterday I went out and got my fridge and pantry stocked with healthy vittle options.

Apparently, I need to put myself on a shopping schedule as well, I guess. One day a week I need to stock up. I abhor the grocery store (and I'm a poet and didn't know it) - so I tend to put it off. It's just easier to stop and grab something on the way home from the gym. But when I have healthy food on hand, I tend to eat it.

YUMMO!! 
I remember them preaching at FC that it comes down to planning - and I have not been. It is time start. I've never been a person who planned out their week of meals, and then shopped for them. I've been a "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-plus-sized-pants-and-hope-when-push-comes-to-shove-I'll-make-a-good-decision" type of girl. Why I still believe that is possible in spite of the 1239834 times I've proven it doesn't work for me, is beyond me.

My biggest issue is: I wait to long to eat, and then want something immediately. When I don't have anything healthy on hand to whip up quick, I make bad decisions. So I'm also going to try and put myself on more of an eating schedule too - so it doesn't get to the point where I'd like to eat my arm, and go for the first thing I can find.

Yesterday was my first run. I did pretty well - except I forgot the noodles for one of my dishes. Otherwise I have three "entrees" planned - that have leftovers I'll actually eat. I have eggs, english muffins, laughing cow, peppers, yogurt and fruit for breakfast (that is usually my largest meal at this point). I bought some 160 calorie chocolate oatmeal (it was really good once I let it cool down a little bit. It doesn't taste as good when you're worried about burning all of the skin off the inside of your mouth - which I think is weird! =)) to have as a snack, or a rush breakfast. I loaded up on string cheese. I have all of the fixins for protein shakes. I got a big bag of pistachios to snack on. I got lettuce to make myself salads (without 600 calories worth of stuff on top =)). I am prepared - which for me is way more than half the battle!

I have already had one small victory. I'm watching my nephew today (he has a fever and is banned from daycare) and I was on the verge of ordering a pizza - but I talked myself out of it.

Now that I appear to have gotten myself in the mode of getting my miles in - no matter if it takes two back-to-back days of hell like last week,or not - it is time to get just as serious and dedicated about what I'm throwing at my face.

How do you guys make sure you eat healthy? Do you plan? Do you have a routine? Do you prep? Do you just know you'll make good decisions? Do you just hope for the best?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Well...I'll be damned!

I woke up Monday morning to a troubling realization. Because I had chosen to use my time rather foolishly over the last week, I was now going to have to basically move into my gym for the next two days in order to meet my mileage requirement for our Move It 2 Lose It mission! I had, as is fairly typical of me and my procrastination tendencies, dug myself into a bit of a hole. In order to reach my goal of 32 miles for this week, I needed to put in at least 14.35 miles both Monday and Tuesday. HOLY CRAP!! I know I am using machines that make it easier than actually walking - but that is a lot of distance to put on this big body!

So I had myself some vittles - 1 egg + 3 egg whites, laughing cow cheese, whole wheat english muffin and yogurt - and headed out. I was trying not to panic. I mean seriously - when is the last time I tried to do anywhere near this much work? Ummm...never? All I could picture was me getting woozy, and falling off my piece of equipment. Then having to call every person that works there, plus a few of the beefy-er weight lifters, over to try and move me. Everyone else just looking at me with pity in their eyes - feeling bad for the fat girl who overdid it. Seriously - I had this whole morbid scene worked out in my head. I really need to get back to work! =)

Octane
So I got to LTF - armed with my 2 iPods and Bonnie - and went to work. I was feeling better...more determined...less certain I was going to be laying on the floor, next to my machine, in a puddle of my own sweat. In short - I was feeling optimistic about actually getting this done. I hopped on the Octane machine. I think I've narrowed down at least part of why it makes me feel like my heart might explode - - it has "running stride" leg movements. And I think we all know that a runner I am not! The bonus is, it gets me further than the Precor does in the same amount of time - so suffer I must. I put in 8 miles. It tracks your laps on the screen, and all I could think about was when we had to run 10 half miles around the track in tenth grade gym. NIGHTMARE!! But I did it! And I didn't even feel like I was going to pass out! I think maybe my brain just took over and knew I had a long way to go before I could leave. Thank you brain! I appreciate you.

recumbent bike
Next I decided it would be OK to do some of my miles on the recumbent bike. I hadn't been on one in years. Hell! I haven't been on a real bike in years! My visions where a bike is concerned involved blown tires (caused entirely by the dimensions of my posterior) and me flipping numerous times into a ditch while kids point and laugh. It's just better to hold off on that for a while. But I'm OK giving this bike a chance. It is nice because you kind of get to sit back and relax while you use it. It is not kind of nice because you are sitting on top of the wall of mirrors when you use it. Let's face it - I just don't need all of this sweaty babe staring back at me from such a close distance. It ain't purty. At least for tomorrow I spied some up on the 2nd floor NOT up against a mirror wall - so I'll be using those tomorrow. I had some technical difficulties getting it all set up to run, but eventually got my 5 miles in in a fairly incident-free manner.

Precor
I was going for 15 total miles today, so I only had 2 to go. I decided the Precor was my best bet, so I hopped on. I have a shameful secret to share with you. Please don't judge me too harshly. I watched "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" while I was on the Precor machine, and I have to admit - I find him adorable. I now see what my 4 & 5 year old nieces see in him. I just might have Bieber Fever! The best part? It made my time on the Precor fly by....well, sort of. I have still never been as happy as when I saw it flash that I was 90% done. I finished with 2.03 miles on the Precor.

15.03 total miles. And I wasn't even completely exhausted! How did this happen?!? Probably because I was well-rested. Tomorrow should be interesting. Wish me luck, folks! I am kind of looking forward to checking out what Bonnie has to say about today. I feel like she got as much of a workout as I did!

What's your go-to machine at the gym? Or what's your favorite exercise?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I've discovered...

The last few days have been tough for me. I have been working to get some things done around the house - and allowed that (plus this stupid lower-back ache that has just finally gone away) to become a really convenient excuse to put off my workouts. Today I was ready to get back at it! I headed for the gym, prepared to put on at least eight miles. My body...well...it had other ideas. I blame Remus. I was just over 2 miles in when I got a serious pain in my right side. I've had this before, and it typically goes away fairly quickly - but not today. At 3.34 miles I threw in the towel. Not to worry kids - I am not deterred! I'll still be at 32 miles by the end of the day on Tuesday - - it's just going to make the new few days even more fun! (and by fun, I mean a cardiovascular nightmare) I am determined to meet my Mission: Move It 2 Lose It goals! I want that damn glitter headband!!

Now that I feel like I'm finally getting my over-sized posterior back on the straight and narrow, I've discovered (or probably rediscovered, but it's just been too damn long) a few things about this life of mine. They might not be as scientific or enlightened as the Discovery channel - but they are just as true and factual (where I'm concerned, anyway)

I've discovered... that I require visual stimulation while working out. When I'm at the gym, I like to use the same few machines every day and watch SportsCenter. This was tested a couple of weeks ago when I had back-to-back workouts with unacceptable programming on ESPN. One day it was soccer. I know a lot of people probably thing that is great - but I can't immediately think of another sport that bores me quite as much. The next time I went in...the Spelling Bee. Seriously. What is the Spelling Bee doing on ESPN??!!??!?! And I'm not talking one of the later numbers...like ESPN 3 - - but the first one. The real ESPN. I tried to make my own fun by trying to find one kid who looked like they weren't home-schooled, and maybe had a friend other than their parents - but I couldn't find one. I got bored...quickly.

I've discovered... that when you sweat as much as I do, and you put in considerably longer cardio sessions than you're used to - it causes some issues. I have left the gym on more than a few occasions over the last few weeks with my face on fire. It would appear that the repeated and constant wiping (especially using the abrasive gym towels, that are about one notch up from a brillo pad) will cause some irritation.

I've discovered... that actually going to the gym creates a boat-load of laundry! I go through a minimum of two outfits a day. (trust me when I tell you that my gym clothes are not acceptable attire after I put in anything over ten minutes) The good news is that I get a good workout doing laundry at my current location. I have four flights (yes - they're shorter flights - but still....) to get to the washer and dryer.

mutant apple
I've discovered... that although I may look like I would eat anything put in front of me, I am a bit of a food snob. I can't bring myself to go anywhere near anything that is expired. If my fruits or veggies appear to be even the least bit old, I have to throw them out. I don't do well with leftovers - except pasta and pizza. Now I can add that things need to look "normal" to my list. I couldn't bring myself to eat this mutant apple. How weird is that?

I've discovered... that when I am in need of a hair color, and I wear my silver hoop earrings, it really brings out my natural gray highlights. It's nice to have your accessories match so perfectly, and it is a huge bonus to have them accentuate one of your sweetest physical attributes.

On a different note - I saw this on someone's Facebook wall today, and I liked it: 

"it is not how many times we fall but how many time we fall and get up again" ~LBJ

Do you have a quote that inspires you? Please share it!


** If you're having problems getting your comments to post, please email them to me, and I'll post them for you! Don't let Blogger win! =) My email address is: natalie@slimmingdowntosexy.com **

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

what a pain in the ... back?

For the last two days my lower back had been bugging me. I am assuming I am blaming the fact that I've been sleeping on my stomach - since lately I've been waking up laying on my face in a pile of my own drool. (It is dawning on me that I may never get another date if I keep sharing these types of details with you guys, but oh well). Or maybe it's the fact that I've spent hours at my computer lately, bent over trying to read fairly small print? Whatever is causing it, I am not a fan.

back pain blows
Monday I found it to be mildly annoying. I also allowed it to become one of the many circumstances that weren't beyond my control - but I let become the control - that kept me out of the gym. And with the end of week 2 for Mission: Move It 2 Lose It in sight, it is not what I needed to be doing. So I woke up Tuesday, knowing I had a lot of miles to do in order to remain even close to my weekly goal, with a major pain in my back. Getting out of bed, standing straight up, bending over to wash my face - all of these became major challenges. This is not the first time I have had back pain like this. It tends to happen fairly frequently. I'm just not used to it when I'm actually working out. I typically get this when my laziness reaches an all-time high. So I just had to tell myself that the gym would make it feel better. That by working out, I would break the pain's will to survive. That I had to beat the pain into submission. And it worked...sort of. While I was on the machine, I felt pretty good. When I got done, and was driving home, the pain returned. I did finally break down and take an Aleve - we'll see if that helps. If not, we'll do it all over again tomorrow.

Trying to help me eat better has become a world-wide proposition. My sister and I ordered salads from a restaurant Monday night - don't worry, they were grilled chicken, and I ordered the dressing on the side. I guess just doing the dressing on the side wasn't sufficient, however. When we opened up our salads, they left the dressing out all together. Luckily the salad came with pico de gallo and a side of guacamole, so there was enough going on to eat it without. I salute you, local food chain restaurant. Your efforts in helping me cut calories is appreciated. Now if someone could have kept my car from the McDonald's drive-thru this afternoon after the gym, that would have been great. Oh well. It is no longer a frequent lunch destination, and I was having a major craving. Now back to better eating for this girl. I promise.

Today I also received my new arm band for Bonnie in the mail! The velcro is coming off the one I have, and it...well...it stinks....so I thought I could get myself a new one. I decided I needed to try a different color, because black is a little boring. I got myself a pink one...surprise, surprise! I can't wait to try it out tomorrow! I can tell Bonnie is super-excited about it, too.

How do you eat out, and still be calorie-conscious?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hot Fun in the Summertime?

**Note: I just found out this weekend that some people are having an issue posting comments to my blog. I have NO idea what is causing that - and I am so sorry!! If you have a comment that won't post, please email it to me ( natalie@slimmingdowntosexy.com )and I will post it for you! I LOVE the comments people leave, and am totally bummed that it isn't working!! I guess that is what you get for a free program? Please don't stop trying to post them! **

Now - on to the post:

A couple of year ago, while working a collection event, I realized a shocking thing about myself. I would prefer for it to be hot...and I'm talking 90's and humid....than have it be cold. I know. I couldn't believe it myself. And when you factor in that the slightest amount of humidity in the air makes my hair turn into a lion's mane, and makes me start sweating like I'm on fire - it is even more unbelievable.

ouch!
When it appeared that summer had finally arrived last weekend, I got a bit beside myself. My usual sound "pro-sunscreen" stance was temporarily shaken by jubilation over actually seeing the sun. I lathered up my face, but figured the rest of me would be fine - I was only going to be out there for a "little while". How stupid am I? My pasty winterized flesh didn't stand a chance! I was also not thinking clearly when I left Bonnie on for a while - providing me with not only a fantastic red hue - but giving me a sweet band around my ample arm. I took Bonnie off after a while, so I could burn my strap mark, also - but not before a glistening white stripe had been left. I hate being sunburned! I hate the feeling of heat radiating from my skin! I know, I know - I should be used to it! Someone as hot as I am should be used to radiating heat, right? haha But seriously. No more of this. The sunscreen Nazi is back on duty! Just in time for a nice cold snap. (it was like 50 degrees and raining at my cousin's graduation party Friday night) No worries about over-exposure to sun this weekend!! Only in Minnesota.

Speaking of that graduation party - it was kind of brutal. There were a ton of people there that I haven't seen in years. And what do people you haven't seen in a while always ask: "where are you, now?" and "what are you doing these days?". Not questions I love to answer. Let's see - "I am currently living in my friend Linda's basement until the end of the summer, when I will hopefully (segway into answer 2) have found a job I love so I can get out of there, and find a place of my own to live in". These are not answers that make me seem like a settled adult - which you definitely should be at 36. Right?!?! I was reminded by a friend that I could have told them about the book - but that just isn't how I roll. I talked about it with the few who knew about it, and asked - but I didn't bring it up. I get an F- for self-promotion. I suck at it. So I tried to muster up all of the positivity I've been feeling the last couple of weeks, and forge on - with the help of a little sarcasm. My standard answer: "I'm living with a friend in Shakopee until the end of the summer. Hopefully I figure out what I want to do when I grow up by then." Good answer? I thought so.

On a more positive note, I also saw the high-five lady at the gym again on Saturday. She remembered me, and we bonded again over how tough it is to get to the gym and work. I think I may have made a new friend. =)

I have one more thing I wanted to share. Let's call it a: Slimming Down to Sexy Food Review. If you are like me, and think string cheese is awesome - I have a note I wanted to share. I have found that I l.o.v.e. Frigo Cheese Head variety. The regular is only 80 calories. When I was at the store the other day, I saw that they also had a "light" version. It was only 60 calories per piece. I figured it was worth a shot. Mistake. In my humble opinion it is not worth saving the extra 20 calories. The regular one is so much more flavorful! I felt like the light variety was kind of dry, and pretty bland. And when you're treating string cheese as a total treat, because it tastes pretty salty - you want all of that flavor. Am I right?!? So there you go! Regular = delicious, Light = dry and flavorless.

Do you have a question you fear? Or a snack idea to share? I'd love to hear about it - and hopefully this program lets you post it here! =)