Monday, December 31, 2012



I had a long "looking back" post planned, but I never got around to writing it.

37 pounds lost

So much gained...

A picture is worth 1,000 words anyway, right?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It ain't easy...

I've had several people these last few weeks say things to me that were something to the affect of "How do you do it?"

The short answer? In the words of Dolvett from The Biggest Loser: HARD WORK. DEDICATION.

That is the secret. I wish I had a magic pill. I wish I could tell you to read this book or watch this show or listen to this song and it would all just be easy. But it's not.

It takes consistency. It takes showing up every day whether you want to or not and just doing it. It takes climbing back on the wagon quickly when you do fall off.

The formula is simple: eat less, move more - repeat daily.

There are a million tips, tricks, and small details that can go along with it, but it really is that simple.

And the only one who can do it - is you. No amount of books, DVDs, podcasts, TV shows, magazines or motivational quotes are going to flip the switch for you until you decide you want to make the change.

It's not easy. It takes work. But it's the best thing I've ever done for myself!

It's almost a new year - are you making any healthy changes for 2013?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Presents

I've received some interesting edible Christmas gifts this year.
First, my mom sent me a box of fresh California Mandarins and the most delicious dates (also fresh from CA)! 
Then, my grandma sent me this box of over a dozen pears. There are 4 kinds of pears in there, and they're all delicious!

But the best of all, was this bag of kale.  Yes, that's right - I received a bag of kale for Christmas.  This was from one of my co-workers, who always gives me a hard time for the weird (healthy!) foods I bring for lunch.  The other gals on my team got giant Hershey's Kisses - but I got kale.  Which, I'm glad for - a giant block of chocolate doesn't exactly fit into my calorie count! 
I love that the adults in my life have gotten me gifts that fit with my healthy lifestyle.  It makes up for the candy, sweet breads, cookies, and sugared pecans I've received from my students!
It's been interesting this year to tackle those types of gifts.  In the past, I pretty much ate every morsel of sugary goodness in about 2 days and then promised myself that I'd eat healthy after the holidays.  This year, I haven't done that!  I've sampled the treats, and then given the rest away.  I cut up a sweet bread I received and shared it at a holiday party.  I've added chocolate to the communal candy jar in our school office.  I've given things to co-workers with larger families they can share with. 
My basic strategy has been this:  I've sampled the stuff I really wanted and then I've gotten rid of the rest.  Just because it's "the holidays" doesn't mean I should fill myself with crap.  I deserve better than that, and so do you!

P.S. Looking for a last minute gift to give?  Make a batch of these Granola Covered Nut Clusters.  They are amazing - seriously, I can't stop eating them.  Plus, they're gluten free and vegan!  (But seriously, I promise they are delicious.)  I wouldn't categorize them as a health food, but they're a healthier alternative to traditional sugared nuts.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jingle Bell Run

On Saturday, some of my running pals and I got together to run our local Jingle Bell Run.  The fun part of this run is that it is one where people dress up in fun Christmas themed attire.  Not wanting to be left out of this fun, our team decided to sport some fantastic looking tutus.  This was my final race day outfit:
You can't see it real well, but there are jingle bell hair ties on my ponytail and bells on my shoes too.  Luckily, I ran with headphones in so I didn't have to be annoyed with the sound of my own jingling.  Sorry to those around me who weren't so lucky!
This was a fun race!  The course was a lot tougher than the Turkey Troy, which is almost entirely flat.  This course was almost entirely NOT flat.  It was a lot of rolling hills.  My Trot time was 31:07, and my Jingle Bell time was 31:20 (on their chip, but my watch said 31:11).  I was really pleased with that time!  Given the amount of hills in this course, I was happy that my time was just a few seconds longer than in the Trot!
I'm not sure what the next race will be, but we're looking for something short in January. 
In the meantime, here are some pictures from the Jingle Bell fun!
Tutu Making!
It was a sea of tulle!


Team of Tutus - post run!

Almost at the finish!

Mindy warmed us up before we headed out!

Jingle Bell Run 2010 (47 minutes) and 2012 (60 pounds lighter, and 31 minutes!)


Friday, December 14, 2012

For when you think "I can't"...

I can't tell you the number of times people have complimented me on my fitness or weight loss achievements, and then followed it immediately with "I could never do that," or "I wish I had the discipline/willpower/time/energy/money/desire/etc to do that."  Sometimes, when I tell people I'm training for a half marathon, they say "I can't even run one mile, let alone 13! That's crazy!"
Well I'll let you in on a little secret:  I can't run 13 miles either!!  At least, not yet.  And when I started this journey?  I couldn't run 1 lap around the track.  I couldn't do one push-up or lift more than 5 pound dumbells or do reverse crunches.  But I can now. 
I think sometimes we get so focused on the "I can't" we have in our head, that we don't realize this one thing:  none of us can.  No one just walks out the door one morning and runs 5 miles.  You have to build up to it.  You don't just walk into the gym and start doing bicep curls with the 20 pound dumbell, you have to work up to it. 
So I can't run 13 miles right now.  But I can run 5.  And soon, I'll run 6.  Then it will be 7, and 8, and 9, and eventually - I'll run 13.1 miles.  But if I focused on the fact that right now, at this moment, I can't run that much at once - I'd never lace up my sneakers.  Instead, I choose to focus on the fact that I WILL be able to do it one day.  But I have to WORK HARD to get there. 
What's your "I can't"?  You might not be able to do it today, but what steps can you take to turn the "I can't" into "I just did" in the future?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fiesta Chicken Bake

This picture doesn't do justice to the flavor!  Sorry for my poor iPhone photography skills!
This recipe was inspired by this Italian Chicken recipe a friend found on Pinterest.  You should also make the Italian version, because it is AWESOME!!  I mean - seriously delicious, I ate it for a week straight kind of awesome.
Fiesta Chicken Bake
6 chicken breasts (4 oz. each)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 jar (16 oz) salsa
1/2 cup light sour cream
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp (or a few shakes) red pepper flakes
salt/pepper to taste
2 oz. shredded Mexican blend cheese
1. Place chicken breasts a greased baking dish.
2.  Mix beans, salsa, sour cream, flour and spices in a bowl.
3.  Pour bean mixture over chicken breasts, allowing the chicken to poke through.
4.  Sprinkle cheese on top of each piece of chicken.
5.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
I've been eating it all week with a serving of Copycat Chipotle Rice!
Nutritional Info:
(I entered the recipe into MyFitnessPal and said 6 servings - so this is approximate for the chicken and bean mixture only)
Calories: 267
Fat: 4.8g
Carbs: 20.3g
Fiber: 5.7g
Protein: 33.4g

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


One morning last week I felt compelled to spend some time in Hebrews.  Specifically, Hebrews 12:1 - which I've adopted as my mantra for this half marathon training. 

There's one little word at the beginning of that verse - therefore.  Something a former pastor taught me, is that when a section of the Bible begins with that word, it means "because of all that" - and is referencing the verses that precede the passage.  Sometimes I look past this, because chapter 12 is a new chapter.  I forget that the chapters and verse references are things placed in the Bible by man so that we can find passages more easily. 

So, this morning I zoomed in on that word, and went back to the previous chapter.  Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the "Hall of Faith".  This is the chapter that says "By faith...." a bunch of times and references many famous people in the Bible whose faith serves as a model for us.  But, the part of the chapter that caught my attention was the end.  After all the specific people are listed, there's this:
"32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.
But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half,[d] and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us."

I can picture Paul in my head, rattling off this list of things people suffered.  The last 2 verses catch my eye especially.  The "yet none of them received all that God had promised" part - that kind of makes you catch your breath. 

So it's all of that stuff that precedes this verse in chapter 12.  "Since we have such a great cloud of witnesses" is referring to these faithful folks.  Verse 12 is saying - all these people have gone before you and remained faithful.  Many of them were tortured and suffered greatly, and never saw in their earthly lives the promises of God fulfilled.  So you have to have faith.  You have to keep going. You might not see the earthly rewards, but they are there. 

Sometimes, I focus so much on the moment and so much on myself, that I lose sight of the fact that God is doing things in and through my story that I don't see.  That "hindsight is 20/20" cliche is so true in our faith walk, isn't it?  It's always easier to look back and say "Oh wow, look at all of those things God worked out." than it is to think - in the middle of your mess - "I bet God is doing something fantastic here" - but He is. Keep going. Run the race with endurance. Don't stop.



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Salad in a Jar

Have you seen these jarred salads popping up on Pinterest?  I recently started taking salads for lunch and this idea intrigued me.  I shared a few months ago about how I prepare my lunches for the week on Sundays.  Well, prepping salads ahead of time is tough because the lettuce gets gross. 

These jar salads offered the perfect solution!  I packed a set last weekend and by Friday the lettuce was still fresh!  I just dumped the salad out into a plastic bowl and enjoyed!

For the salad in the picture, I layered:
-Mexican dressing
-grape tomatoes
-red pepper
-black beans
-hard boiled egg
-shredded carrots
The Mexican dressing was the juice of a lime, some salsa, guacamole, and olive oil liquified in the blender! (Found this idea here)
This week I have layered:
-Raspberry vinagrette
-grape tomatoes
-chick peas
- hard boiled egg
-a sprinkle of parmesan cheese
There are also a bunch of jar salad ideas on this blog!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Turkey Trot Recap

Well look at that, it's been awhile since I've posted!

Here's my brief (as in, typed on my phone) update from the Turkey Trot!

Several of us represented Team Phases in our orange Urbanathlon shirts! It's awesome having made these new friends through this journey, makes it a lot more fun!

My 3 goals were:
1. Run a 30 minute 5k
2. Lose 10 pounds
3. Be in the next clothing size.

This is how I stacked up:
1. 31:07 for my time (which was 2 minutes faster than my best, so I was really happy!!)
2. I lost 5!
3. I bought new jeans - in that next size down.

Overall, I'm happy. I set pretty tough goals on purpose. If I'd gone for a 33 minute race, I probably wouldn't have done it in 31:07. If I'd set to lose 5 pounds, I might not have lost anything. It's the whole "shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars" thing. Set your expectations high, you'll try harder to reach them!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Don't Ever Go Back

Saturday evening after I got home from NYC and the race, I started to really process the event in my mind.  To some people, one leg of the Urbanathlon was "just a 5k with 3 obstacles" - and really, that's what it was.  But for most of us on Team Phases, many of whom had never run in a regular 5k let alone one in NYC with obstacles, this was more than just a race. 
For me, this race really marked the "goodbye" to this girl.  The girl who thought that a bright sweater and cute accessories could hide the extra 100 pounds she was carrying.  This girl thought she was happy, and living life.  But every morning when this girl when to get dressed, she was unhappy.  Every time this girl saw others around her doing things like running and exercising, she thought "I wish I could be more like that, but that's just not me."  This girl was pretty good at making jokes and enjoying life, and she wasn't completely miserable - but, this girl was definitely not living life the way God intended.

I don't ever want to be that girl again.  I really, truly have changed my life this time.  It hasn't been "just another diet" or a get skinny quick thing.  I'm now one of those people who run.  I'm signed for multiple races.  Whatever the challenge is - I have no doubt in my mind that I can do it.  This girl I am now?  I'm happy.  I believe in myself.  I know this is the way God intended me to feel.  When I look in the mirror, I don't focus on the 40 pounds I still want to lose - I focus on the arm muscles I have.  I don't dwell on the fact that my mile time is slower than a lot of people, I remember that a few months ago I couldn't even run a mile at all. 
This girl?  She feels JOY.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Goal Setting

Before the Urbanathlon, Mindy had us set 3 goals for ourselves to work towards during our training.  Below are the three goals I chose.
I loved this because instead of an arbitrary date, like "lose 10 pounds by Christmas", there was a specific event I was working towards.  This way, even if I didn't quite make my goals, I was still competing in the event and working hard.  I always get frustrated with "10 pounds by Christmas" goals because I feel like they're easy to not achieve. 
Of my 3 goals, I achieved 2 of them.  I ran 4 miles without stopping.  I finished the race.  But, I didn't lose 20 pounds.  I did lose 15 though, so I'm not disappointed!
Now that the race is over, I decided to set myself 3 new goals for my next race.  This race will be the local Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.  Many members of my Urbanathlon crew are planning to reunite for this 5K!

My 3 new goals to work towards for the Turkey Trot are:
1. Run with an average pace of less than 10 minutes per mile.
2.  Lose the next 10 pounds.
3.  Be down a clothing size.

I'll keep ya posted!'s time to hit the treadmill! Hurricane Sandy was pretty nice to us here, but the rain is forcing my workout indoors!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Urbanathlon Details!

So, I did it! I completed the first leg of the Men's Health Urbanathlon! My total time for 3.2 miles and 3 obstacles was 39 minutes.  I'm really happy with this!  My goal was to complete it in under 45 minutes, because I wasn't sure how long the obstacles would take.  The last time I ran an "official" 5K was 2 years ago, and that took 47 minutes - so I'd say I've improved!
The race day was PERFECT weather for racing.  It wasn't too hot, wasn't too cold - plus it was cloudy so we didn't have to worry about sunglasses or anything.  All of the relay teams were able to start in the same wave, so that helped keep our energy up as we waited to start! 
For our leg, we ran about 1.75 miles of mostly flat terrain in the Flushing area of Queens before hitting the first obstacle.  This was a tire field, cargo net crawl combo.  Here's what they posted on the website for what it would look like:
It didn't look like this.  It was totally wimpy in comparison to this image.  There were about 10 rows of tires, followed by one cargo net (which was high enough to bend over and not crawl under), and then 10 more rows of tired.  I was unimpressed.
Then we ran another 1/2 mile or so before tackling the obstacle that had me the most nervous: "Over, Under, Through"  This obstacle was AWESOME.  Surprisingly, my favorite part was the under - crawling in the dirt!  It was a 5 foot wall you had to climb over (or in my case, be shoved over), then you had to army crawl under a wall, and then go through it.  Twice.  Here's a pic of the Chicago obstacle (which was the same in NYC)
After that, we ran the last of our leg and completed the "Traffic Jam" obstacle.  This obstacle was terrible.  It was more annoying than it was difficult.  It was a bunch of bungee cords strung like a spider web between poles.  This was new this year, and I hope they take it away!  It was dumb.
From there, we crossed the finish line and tagged our teammates, who headed into leg 2!
All in all, I felt completely prepared for this race.  It was fun to race without feeling nervous, and knowing that I wouldn't be last.  I actually got to run WITH the pack, instead of chasing behind them the whole time.  This was an awesome experience, and who knows - maybe next year I'll tackle the whole course!?
Here are some pics from the day!!
The leg 1 crew waiting to start!
Starting!  Can you find me? Orange shirt - my friend Alicia is in the orange shirt with the white headband, I'm behind her.
I'm the one in the orange shirt with the blue and green pants. This is somewhere around mile 1.
Finished our leg and cheering on our teammates at the marine hurdles!
My teammate, Laura, conquering the marine hurdles!
Our total time - under 2 hours and not last! Wahoo!
My amazing teammates after we finished!  Love these women!
Most of the Team Phases crew!  There were almost 40 of us!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Featured Again!!

On Friday, I was invited by my fabulous trainer, Mindy, to share a little piece of my weight loss story on one of our local news channels!  Mindy is working with their morning team for a "Fox 43 Get Fit" challenge.  Click here to view my "3 minutes of fame" on local TV! 

I'm working now on my Urbanathlon race recap blog - but, I did survive and it was AWESOME!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Today I have the awesome privilege of being featured at one of my favorite fitness blogs! Clare at Peak313 does a series called "Shed and Share", and I'm this week's "shedder and sharer"!

Check out my story here: Peak 313

By the way, have I mentioned I've now passed the FIFTY pound mark? More than halfway to my goal!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Four months ago today, I did something I'd never done in my whole life - I ran 1 mile outside without stopping. I can picture the moment I hit that mark, and I remember my eyes filling with tears and a huge smile crossing my face. I couldn't believe I had actually run a mile.

Today, exactly 4 months later - I again found myself with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. But this time, it was at the end of FOUR miles. That's the longest I've ever run without stopping. In fact, I didn't even seriously entertain the idea of stopping. There was no moment, even in the last mile, where I had to talk myself into finishing.

Somehow, something inside me finally understands the difference between "hard work" and "too hard". It may have taken 30 years, but I finally found the athlete inside me. And I love her.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pumpkin Goat Cheese Quesadillas

It's the time of year where of all things pumpkin.  This recipe was inspired by one I saw in Everyday (Rachael Ray's magazine, a favorite for new recipes!) and on Pinterest.
Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
(serves 1)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (plain - not pie filling)
1/4 cup black beans black beans
1 oz. goat cheese (crumbled)
fresh cilantro
cumin (to taste)
garlic powder (to taste)
onion salt (to taste)
tortilla (I used 2 and made one giant quesadilla, the brand I use are Food For Life Brown Rice, they are gluten free and found in the organic frozen section)
1.  Mix pumpkin and spices together in a small bowl. (I probably used 1/2 tsp of each spice)
2.  Stir in black beans.
3.  Spray a non-stick pan with olive oil spray.
4.  Spread one tortilla with pumpkin mixture.  Place tortilla side down in the pan.
5.  Sprinkle with goat cheese.  (you can also mix the goat cheese in with the pumpkin)
6.  Top with remaining tortilla.
7.  Flip (Carefully!) when one side is browned and crispy.
Serve with yogurt lime dipping sauce! (Greek yogurt, lime juice, and cumin mixed together)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Things I Never Thought I'd Do: Part 2

Ok so I promised this post last week, but got sidetracked and so here it is.

Thing #2 that I thought I wouldn't do during this fitness journey is: count calories.

I've said in a few previous posts that I didn't want to count calories or points or carbs this time around. But, I am now.

For the past month I've been logging my calories almost every single day. And it hasn't been that bad!

I decided to do it for a few reasons.

One is because I was stuck at a plateau and knew I needed to start looking closer at what I was eating. I've lost 6 pounds since cutting back my calories!

The second reason is because of all the working out and training I've been doing. I realized I needed to start paying closer attention to my food as fuel.

I use the app MyFitnessPal (I'm jsmith626 if you're using that app too, we can be friends!). It's SO easy. I can enter recipes and my exercise too. Plus it uses the camera on my phone to scan barcodes when searching - so easy!

I was eating 1400 calories a day plus I would eat about 300-400 more seeping on what I burned working out. Last week I cut that number back to 1220 calories.

It's tough, but at the same time I am strangely enjoying the challenge of finding the most high quality foods to fit into my daily allotment.

Any other fun calorie and fitness apps you use?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Things I Never Thought I'd Do: Part 1

Part 1 of my "things I never thought I'd do" involves running.

I've been working my way up in mileage, with a goal of being able to run 4 solid miles by my Urbanathlon in a month.  I've been stuck at the 2.5 mile mark for about a month now.  Well, last night I made up my mind that if I could do 2.5, then I could do 3. And I did.

It was really a matter of putting my mind to it, and not quitting.  I had to get through the last half mile repeating things in my head like "You CAN do this." And "there is no reason for you to stop".

Part of the reason I had to make myself get through that barrier is because of this:
Yes, that's my registration confirmation for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Washington, DC this March!
Seriously.  Me - a half marathon.  13.1 miles of running.  This is craziness.  But, I've been so motivated with the urbanathlon training, and now I actually {gasp} enjoy running - so I figure this is the perfect challenge!  I have some awesomely motivating girls doing this alongside me (who are more experienced runners, too!) -and I'm really excited!
I think this quote here really sums up each and every exercise I do now.
I used to be content to give up when I thought I was a little tired, but now I know how much better it feels to keep pushing and to surpass my expectations of how far I can go and how many reps of an exercise I can complete.  Finishing is better than quitting.
Come back later this week when I reveal the 2nd thing I never thought I'd do!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


As I told you last week, I'm currently training with a team to complete the NYC Urbanathlon at the end of October.  One of the keys to this training has been accountability and working with other people.  I wrote about the need for public accountability back at the beginning of the year, and I still think that is hugely important to my weight loss.  But, with this particular training (which is hard and takes a lot of time) it's been really key to have others training alongside me.
I love, love, love my training team!  And not just because we all have pink running shoes.  But really, that is pretty awesome.
I love my team because they are so encouraging.  We are all at different places in our life journey, but we all have the same goal in mind with this race - finish it.  We all want to finish the race and prove to ourselves that we can do things we've never done before.  Each of the women on my team came with a different challenge, and we're all meeting those challenges and surpassing our expectations.  A big part of this is because we have each other.
We meet up at least once a week outside of our scheduled training class to workout together.  We text or email each other to share our workouts.  We cheer each other on, and inevitably when one of us doesn't feel like doing something, the others do - so we push each other!
Another piece of accountability that I LOVE is the GymPact app on my iPhone!!  This app is a free download, but it could cost you big time!  You set up a pact saying that you'll work out X number of times per week, and that if you don't make those workouts - you're willing to pay X number of dollars. At the end of the week, they take the money paid in by those who didn't meet their pact, and divide it up amongst those who did.  I end up with about $2 a week in earnings, which isn't much, but the fact that I would have to PAY money if I didn't meet my pact is what keeps me going.
Here's a shot of my pact as of this morning:
See that "Total Earned"?  You actually earn REAL money if you complete your pact. When you earn $20 total, you can deposit your rewards into a PayPal account and use them! I've done this twice.  Once I spent it via PayPal, and once I had it transferred to my checking account.
Just a few weeks ago, GymPact integrated with RunKeeper, another app favorite of mine.  Now you can count outdoor workouts too!  I love both of these apps because they help hold me accountable, plus they track how far I've come in my workouts.