Friday, April 30, 2010

Healthy Up Your Favorites - Frugal Food Friday

I took all the pictures and everything for this post...but then I almost scrapped it...because it's about pizza.  Pizza is not exactly known for being a weight loss food, and I don't have calorie counts for this either.  So more than being about pizza, it's more about taking some of your favorite recipes and making them healthier.

Last Friday my daughter asked for pizza.  We were a bit in the mood for celebrating since the Hubby had a job interview that day (which we'll hopefully find out today if he got it)!  The frugal part of this is that making your own pizza is WAY cheaper than buying it when you're in the mood for something special.

The healthy part of this somes in some modifications you can make to typical pizza.
  1. Use whole wheat flour.  I typically use 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white flour.  We also love to add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of oregano to our dough to make it taste yummier.  (Can you see all that whole wheat and spices goodness?)
  2. Go HEAVY on the veggies.  Load it up!  We love to add bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions.  Some other great options I've seen and are tasty is artichoke hearts, spinach leaves, fresh oregano or basic leaves, zucchini.  If there are other things you love, please leave them in the comments!
  3. Switch out the meat.  You can either leave the meat out altogether or substitute something like low-fat sandwich meat for the higher fat pepperoni. 
  4. Go LIGHT on the cheese.  Just use less.  It's nice to have a little to help "glue" all the toppings on, but you don't need a lot.  You can also buy lower fat cheese, because it's usually quite a bit more expensive, so we prefer the use less option.
  5. Drink some water and eat your salad first.  This helps fill you up, so you don't eat as much pizza in one sitting.
One more frugal pizza tip...make your own pizza sauce.  This doesn't make it healthier, but it does make it cheaper.  We do this by mixing one part tomato paste with one part water.  You could also add some spices, but we don't because we've already added garlic powder and oregano to the bread dough.

I'm not going to put my pizza dough recipe up here because I really have no idea what the calorie counts and everything.  Whatever recipe you use, though, you can always look for ways to make it healthier.  For example last time I made it, I substituted oil for the shortening.  It worked great, it's healthier...and I didn't have to wash out a nasty shortening measuring cup.  (Not a big deal if you have a dishwasher, but I HATE washing those by hand.)

Thursday, April 29, 2010


We have a little saying the in dance business...K.I.S.S. This stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. Why on earth would we have this little saying among us teachers? Well because, whether it is dance or anything else, we know that people won't do it if it doesn't seem fun and easy. Now this isn't to say that people can't do things that aren't simple, but who will really want to?

In the book Food Politics it talks about how the American public is so confused on what to eat even though the dietary recommendations have stayed the same for decades. Once people start talking about carbs and protein and fiber and such, most people just lose interest. It isn't that they don't want to be healthy, but unless it is simple we aren't usually willing to add it to our already full plates (no pun intended!). Diets and exercise programs can overwhelm people, especially if it isn't what you are focusing on...lets be honest- not a lot of us have multiple hours per day/week to analyze
nutrition information, do workouts for each part of the body, plan and prepare meals that will give all the nutrients needed, etc.

So here it is- my very simple tip to help you make your food choices. Assign each food you eat to one of two groups: animal or plant. Animal foods are those that come from animals...meat, fish, cheese, milk, eggs, etc. Plant foods are those that come from plants...fruits, veggies, grains, etc. Each and every meal you eat, make sure your plant foods outweigh your animal foods. That is it! How simple, quick, and easy is that? It isn't eliminating any foods, just making sure that you have more of the great foods for your body and less of the just okay foods. I dare you to try it out this week; I can guarantee you will be making healthier food choices without looking at any labels, counting any calories, etc.

(Side note: do not try and make the argument that cookies are good for you because they have plant foods like flour in them...they still have a lot of animal foods in them too, like butter and eggs. I tried making that argument already but my husband shot it down!)

Triathlon Update: The last two weekends I have run a race: a 5k and a 10k. They were really fun (for more on the races check my blog at HERE). I am feeling good and strong and am starting to add in more and more bike rides along with my runs. I got new shoes which have eliminated the heel pain (more on that some other day). I think I will be ready to do the Biathlon on May 22nd! )

Walking in Circles: Heading Back Home

Dear Skinny Readers,

It's time for me to give up writing to you here. Shall we review what we've learned together in the last few months?

We have discussed walking in all kinds of weather, the kinds of shoes to wear, the importance of buddies and figuring out which way to go. We learned that walking can strengthen your relationships, get you out into your community, that it can be done wherever your travels take you and it is a great activity with children.

While walking around in circles you can search for hidden treasure (with a GPS), train for other physical events, or take along a camera to record the interesting things you see along the way. I'm sure every one of you can think of other reasons to get out and walk!

I think I've taught you all you need to know without repeating myself. You know how to do it...just step out the door and go! You'll enjoy it, I promise!

I won't be too far away. If you think you might miss me, you can always hop on over to my personal blog, Come What May and Love It, and follow along as I chat about walking, gardens, sewing, family, travels with my husband, and whatever else comes to mind. I can be rather random sometimes. In fact, if you sign up as a “follower”, then I'll know you are there and smile. I'm glad we can be friends. :)

Happy Walking, my friends, and be sure to watch your step!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Perfect Pilates Plank

Last night in yoga class we were doing planks - and I'm feeling the burn today!

Here's a must-watch video. It has great info on how to do a plank perfectly! Learning the correct form helps to:

  • Reduce the chance of injury, and
  • Increase the beneficial effects of the exercise.

Check this out!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Katie: Week 18


Current weight: 144 pounds
Last week's weight: 144 pounds
Total weight loss: 26 pounds

Yes.  Again.  But I actually feel pretty good about that considering all the junk we ate while we were on vacation this past week.  (As if I could be expected to pass up "Buy one Blizzard get the second one for 25 cents.")  And although I only went to a gym once the whole time I was away, we did go to the beach and walk around, go to a museum and walk around, go to a really huge, cool, bookstore and walk around, and go to the zoo and walk around.  So I'd say I wasn't exactly a lazy bum while we were gone.  Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting back into a good routine.  Although now that I'm back my walking buddy is off partying on the East Coast and I miss her already.  Hmm...

Monday, April 26, 2010


The monthly report from Lisa:

One aspect of triathlons that was hard for me to grasp was the transition area. This is where all your gear is, where you switch shoes, clothes, stash bikes, helmets, etc. until you’re ready to use them. When I did my first triathlon, I had read about cutting down time in the transition area, but I didn’t really know what that meant. So, for my triathlon next month, not only am I training my body but I’m also training my mind to logistically go through each event and work on cutting down time in the transition area? Confused? Me too.


There are three events. Each requires different equipment. Sometimes the equipment overlaps. The faster you can transition between events, the faster your overall time will be. Which is good.

Swimming is first. Staring out in just a bathing suit, swim cap and goggles. No need for a towel because you won’t have time to dry off and running will naturally air dry you. (Except if your swimming in a lake or ocean and want to wipe the sand off your feet before you put on your shoes.) Biking: you’ll have your bike, bike shoes (if you clip in), helmet, bike shorts, water, sunglasses. Running: running shoes, hat, sunglasses. So, first you gather all your equipment and lay it out in an easy to remember pattern.

TIP: Right when you get to your transition area after swimming, put your helmet on first thing. You will be docked time if you leave the transition area without a helmet. You’ll also be docked if you take your helmet off before you enter the transition period when you’re done with the bike portion. So remember, put on your helmet first thing, and take it off last thing.

TIP: Some triathletes tape energy bars or gel to their bike handles, so they can eat as they ride. Mostly I think it makes your bike nasty with crumbs falling all over the place, and this triathlon isn’t that intense. But if you’re doing a long one, it’s something to think about…

TIP: Wear or bring clothes that you can wear for more than one event. There are body suits that you can wear for all three events. Expensive, but maybe worth it if you want to be in the Olympics or something. I wore my bike shorts for the running portion, and although they worked fine, the pictures weren’t so flattering. I might need to figure out something better…

TIP: Make lots of mental notes and maybe bring something that will help you locate where you set up your transition area. Some people bring balloons, a bright towel, set up at the end of a line so that when you go to get your bike after the swim, it’s easy to run right to it instead of trying to remember where all your stuff is. And that’s not fun. Trust me.

Well, this concludes my monthly reports on my triathlon training! My bike is currently in the shop getting all spiffed up and I feel good and happy and relaxed about this triathlon. Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kathy Week 17: Katie is in Town!

Week 17 Stats:
Today's Weight: 139!
Last Week's Weight: 141
Starting Weight: 151
Total Weight Loss: 12 pounds

Kathy & Katie at Curves

It is so fun to have Katie and her family in town this week for their college mini-vacation. This morning she and I both went down to the Curves gym for a workout.

I was sweating...Katie, on the other hand, completed each machine with ease, and said she didn't feel like it was a difficult workout, after the more intense workouts she's been doing with the postpartum weight-loss study in Provo.

How can this be? I know I've been working out consistently, and I know that my muscles are much stronger than they were back in January. After all, I completed the Goat Mountain Gallop, right?
I think Katie and I are just used to working out on different kinds of machines. Katie is used to working out with machines where you actually add weight to the workout, and the Curves machines work with pneumatic (air) pressure, so you have to push against the machine in a different way than the ones with weight.

But they must be working for me, because I'm not even sore from the Goat Mountain Gallop last week! I had mild muscle aches for two days. The only residual ache I have is one little toe that is sore; I think it was banged somehow inside my shoe during the Gallop. So I haven't done much walking this week, to be kind to it and let it heal.

Hooray! I'm down another pound!
Did you notice that I'm into the 130s??!! Woo hoo!
The last time I weighted 139 was a year and a half ago.

Even though I haven't been exercising as hard this week, I feel like my body somehow knows that I'm not "in training," and can get back to the gradual weight-loss plan.

So, what are we eating, you ask?

Yum, yum, here we come!

Asian Lettuce Wraps
This nifty little recipe comes from the Northwest Guide to Heart-Healthy Living by Providence Heart & Vascular Institute.
Serves 4

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 pound lean ground turkey
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint ( I have used cilantro here when I don't have mint)
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 cup peanut sauce (see note below)
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (teriyaki sauce makes a fine substitute)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
8 butter lettuce leaves or Savoy cabbage cups

1. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add onion and sauté until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned, 5-6 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, combine cucumber, mint, and lime juice in a bowl; set aside.

3. Add peanut, hoisin, and soy sauces to turkey. Stir and warm through.

4. Place the mixture onto leaves and top with cucumber mixture. Fold sides over filling, roll up, and eat!

Per serving (2 wraps): 209 calories, 24 g protein, 10 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 4 g mono fat, 53 mg cholesterol, 2 g finger, 305 mg sodium.
Caution! You will need extra napkins.
These are so tasty...and a little messy...

Peanut Sauce Substitute:
My husband is highly allergic to peanuts, so I avoided making Asian Lettuce Wraps for a while. (But they sounded so good!) Then I looked up a recipe for peanut sauce on the internet, and just substituted...almonds! Yum! It works really well. Here's my recipe for...
Almond Sauce
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh red chile
1 Tablespoon fish sauce "nuoc mam"
2 spring onions, sliced

Stir together and heat. Do not boil. Store extra in the fridge, and save for future batches of Asian lettuce wraps.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mandarin Orange Cake: Frugal Food Friday

This week the Hubby and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  It's hard to believe that we've already been married 10 wonderful years...but it's true!  (Believe it or not, no wedding pics have been scanned into our computer, and we were married before the digital boom...but here's one from our honeymoon.)
We had a pretty low-key anniversary celebration since he had class that night, but we'll do more to celebrate when the semester is over.  I thought about making pineapple cake since I'd made it for our one week anniversary, but the kids were helping me and wanted to branch out a bit, so we made Mandarin Orange Cake.
Instead of the suggested brown sugar/milk glaze, we topped it with some whipped topping.  It was delicious!  We were a bit surprised that you couldn't really taste the oranges in it.  Of the two, the pineapple cake I shared earlier is our favorite, but this is a great choice if you want a smaller batch and less fruity flavor.

My 5-year-old had her heart set on frosting the cake with the whipped topping.  I'm not sure exactly what went wrong.  I think maybe stirring the food coloring in while it was still partially frozen was partly to blame, because it was a runny...but delicious mess. 
I plan to experiment more with whipped topping as frosting and get back to you.  I had some great success with a previous experiments decorating a baby food lid.  This one stayed looking this way for half and hour or so in the warm kitchen before it was eaten, while the "flowers" on our anniversary cake turned to blobs in less than a minute.
No matter how it looked, definitely got the kids' stamp of approval.  The especially had fun with the mashing the oranges step.
This is once again from one of my favorite cookbooks "Quick and Healthy Recipes and Ideas" by Brenda J. Ponchtera, pg. 217.

Mandarin Orange Cake
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup egg substitute (equal to 1 egg)
1 can 11 oz. mandarin oranges, drained
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
2 Tbl. oil (canola)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients, mashing the oranges, and pour into a 9-inch by 9-inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick coating.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Prepare topping (below).

Topping: 2 Tbl. firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. skim milk

Combine sugar and milk.  In the microwave, heat on high until mixture starts to boil.  Drizzle over hot cake.

Yield: 9 servings
One Serving: 1 piece
Calories per serving: 140
Fat: 3 grams
Exchanges 1 3/4 starch

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Portion Control

Lets talk about portion sizes. Obesity is a huge problem and it is partly due to the fact that people over eat. I do not believe there are any "evil" foods that you should never ever eat. With that being said, I do know that you should eat only little amounts of good things. This chart may be able to help some of you visualize your portion sizes.

Or perhaps this will help- try associating a portion size to an object, like below:

1 cup - baseball
1/2 cup - lightbulb
1 0z. or 2 Tbsp - golfball
1 Tbsp - poker chip
3 oz. meat - deck of cards
3 oz. fish - checkbook

This week I heard that the U.S. military is starting to join in the battle against obesity. Their recruiting numbers are down and they are attributing it in part to the fact that the rate of overweight and obese 17-24 year olds (their main recruits) has increased significantly over the past few years. Interesting, huh? It must be a big deal if even the military is getting involved- especially when they have so much to do elsewhere.

So take a moment and study up on your portion sizes- make a little guide for yourself or print one off (WebMD has a wallet-sized one here) and vow to stick to it for at least a week. This way you get to enjoy all of your favorite foods and still keep that waistline down! You will be surprised at how little you can eat and feel just great!

Triathlon Update: Well, today is the day I have to register (or else the price goes up). After much thought and consideration, I think I am going to make my first tri a bi instead. I just haven't been able to train as I was hoping to and I really don't want my first experience to be a terrible one because I am forcing myself when I am unprepared because then I know I won't want to do it again. Plus this event has the option of doing 2 out of the 3 May 22nd will be a biathlon and I will be doing a real triathlon sometime later this summer (I will let you know the date once I do a bit more research.)

Walking in Circles: A Way to Relax

Some days are exhausting, right? You know the kind of days I mean. I had one of those on Monday. Spent all afternoon watching three young grandchildren here at my house. 2 1/2 year old twin girls and their 3 year old brother. By the time they went home I was drained. Don't get me wrong: I love them to pieces and we had a good time with bubbles and games and dancing, etc., but oh, how tiring.

Then sweet Hubby (Grandpa) came home (just in time to say goodbye to the kids while they were being strapped in their carseats), and he suggested the two of us going for a walk in a local natural area which is currently in bloom. Honestly, all I really wanted to do at that time was fall into a cozy chair and shut my eyes....

But we went on that walk, and oh, how glad I am that we did.

Going for a walk doesn't always have to mean exercise! It can be a wonderful way to let go of the energy of the day and fill your soul with peace and calm. We walked the trails in this area slowly, stopping to admire, breathe deep, hold hands, and give thanks for simple, natural beauty. I didn't even take a camera with me.

Wait a minute, then who took these pictures? I did. Last year. :)

Same place. Same time of year. But on a day when I wasn't quite as tired!

We were being quiet, but the deer still wandered off as we approached. :)

Who took this one? The camera was set on a rock with a self-timer. We were all alone then, just like we were on Monday.

Next time you have "one of those days", try taking a little walk. Call it a "stroll". Breathe. Relax. It's going to be alright.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Now, everyone knows that I am in love with good digestion. Fruits and veg and fiber! But, let's not forget about yogurt. I'm not a big fan of dairy in general, but yogurt makes me feel great (and of course, ummm, ice cream).

The good works of healthy bacteria (probiotics) in yogurt have become quite the hot topic the past few years. Grocery shelves are lined with probiotic drinks and "digestion yogurts", but you can really get the good bacteria from any good yogurt--doesn't have to be Activia or anything special.

One of the downsides, though, is that yogurt isn't cheap. The good news: it is SO easy to make. My mom made it by the gallon when I was a kid and we had it in banana smoothies every morning. And really--it is easy! This is all you need:
  • 1 Half gallon of milk
  • 2-3 Tbs of plain yogurt (as a starter)
  • 1 8-10 Qt stock pot
  • 1 4-5 Qt pot with lid
  • 1 Metal or plastic spoon
  • 1 Dial thermometer with clip
  • 1 heating pad
As easy as it is, the best instructions I found were nice and detailed, so you can just check them out here.

Please do try it out! Then eat it plain, drizzle honey on top, mix with fruit, mix with sweetened yogurt from the store... and let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Katie: Week 17


Current weight: 144 pounds
Last week's weight: 144 pounds
Total weight loss: 26 pounds

You know how your weight drops during the week and then goes back to what it was the day when it "counts"?  This happens to me all the time.  All.  The.  Time.  Today being no exception.  So, I guess technically I haven't lost any weight this week, but I'm certainly not feeling upset with myself.  I have been exercising and being active even more than usual this past week.  As in, not just one, but multiple walks to and from campus on the same day, multiple days.  And remember how I'm lifting weights for that postpartum study?  Well, when I started they had me doing one set each of all of the different machines.  Then I was doing two sets each.  Now?  Yep.  Three sets each.  Aye-yi-yi.  On Friday when I did three sets for the first time (and had already walked to and from campus twice that day) I came home and sat on the couch for at least an hour.  I didn't even want to lift my arms.  Yesterday when I did it it wasn't so bad, but it's definitely more of a work out than just doing one or two sets. 

In other news, the battle to keep sweets at bay continues.  I usually do pretty well, but was definitely conquered by some super yummy chocolate chip cookies my friend brought to dinner on Sunday.  I guess it's some sort of strange blessing, but I'm actually really bad at making chocolate chip cookies.  Mine never turn out like I want them to.  So, luckily, I don't eat them here at home all the time, but I am kind of a sucker for a really good homemade chocolate chip cookie. 

Kind of along the same lines, I've also just recently stopped writing everything down in my food journal.  Despite the chocolate chip cookies, I think I've got treats under control enough that writing it down doesn't really make a difference anymore.  And I had gotten to the point where I was just remembering what I ate and then writing everything down at the end of the day, which seemed a little pointless.  So, I've decided to go with the natural flow here and see how I do without it. 

Umm... and sorry for no pictures again this week.  I don't even know what weeks I'm supposed to be doing pictures anymore, that's how bad it's gotten.  But Bryan is almost done with finals so I'm just not going to worry about doing one more thing until next week at the very soonest.

Well, I've gotta go.  Have a great week everybody!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Running Gadgets and Gear Part II

Remember all those nifty things I recommended in my post two weeks ago? (Click HERE for a refresher with pictures!) Now it is time that I share with you some gear and gadgets that I do not recommend for running. They might seem great and useful, but most people don't need them. Life gets so complicated with accessories sometimes; running brings us back to simpler times. It is a minimalist sport. Some people don't even wear shoes while running! (Although those people are not typically running on paved sidewalks and paths like the rest of us.)
          So here's the list:
  • running socks
  • water bottle belt
  • heart rate monitor
  • personal alarm
Here's why:

You may find that you get blisters or have issues with your socks while running, but you may not. I haven't had any problems with this, but my running partner has. She develops blisters on runs longer than 10 miles. So she has specific socks that she wears, but they aren't some expensive set that she found at a specialty running store. She just figured out a particular type that work for her. I wear regular athletic socks and they are prefect for me. So before you go out and buy fancy socks, try what you already have. Make adjustments as you need to. The same goes for gloves and hats. Keep it simple. Or make it fun with some cool shark socks like these.

I discussed the water bottle belt in my last post, but I have decided to officially add it to this list of things I don't recommend. No, I haven't tried one out yet. However, the more I read and hear about other runners' opinions on this the more I see it as superfluous. And obnoxious. And just another expense.

Heart rate monitors are distracting. I can understand having one if you have a condition that you need to monitor, but otherwise it just keeps you thinking about the work your body is doing rather than the fun you are having. It turns a liberating activity into a strenuous workout. To that I say, "No thanks!"

Last is the personal alarm. These are marketed for women in particular and emit a loud siren when you press the panic button. It is designed for safety from predators, but I believe in other methods that also happen to be more affordable and possibly more effective. Fortunately, I haven't had to put these methods to the test, but they are: always have a buddy or group and always run during daylight hours, preferably in very public places. Sometimes a training schedule and time constraints will cause you to run when visibility is low. You can pick up reflective belts or other accessories from military surplus stores for cheap. Still take extra precaution by having one or more person with you, though. These alternatives to the personal alarm will help you to avoid danger and high costs of running accessories. Win, win!

So there are still plenty of other running accesories out there and I haven't tried most of them. My message is that a vast majority of them should be called excessories. I see them as a waste of money.  Running is meant to be simple, so keep it that way. Just as all the authors on here have already demonstrated, healthy living does not have to be complicated, nor does it have to be expensive.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Peaceful Thought

For today's Peaceful Thought I want to share a poem I wrote in 2008, after my first experience competing in the Goat Mountain Gallop.

(Giveaway winners are listed below the poem!)

Goat Mountain Gallop

It comes down to
the way teasels clutch
fistfuls of spring snow.
The red Farmall tractor,
that robin rocketing above the meadow,
four black cows standing knee-deep in green,
a white wicker loveseat on a porch.

Under a watery April sun
barbed-wired fences lined the silence,

Into this great bowl of stillness,
the runners came, and came, and came,

and suddenly, in the far pasture,
there were horses:
thirty or more,
hooves drumming, and thrumming,
wheeling, cutting, charging the fence
with split-second precision,
showing the men how,

while great flocks of geese wove a semaphore
through the sky, ancient signs,
circling, separating, coalescing, always
crying North! North!

No sounds existed beyond the rushing of wings and hooves,
so we ran.


Giveaway Results
First of all, thank you to everyone who so generously donated money to the Clean Water project. I was humbled by your thoughtfulness. I was even more humbled to realize that even walking 13 miles is less than many women have to walk every day to get water--and it's not even clean--for their families. It is heartbreaking to contrast their struggles with the ease of our lives.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I did not ask that you share your donation amounts with me, but many of you did, and I know that we raised at least $250.00 for the Clean Water project. All of the money was donated online - directly to the charity, which uses 100% of the funds for digging wells and placing pumps where they are needed.

And now...the giveaway winners! (Who were scientifically selected using a clever Random Generator on my trusty laptop...)

Winning 2 bars of Carol's handmade Eau Joy soap:
  • Jill (a wonderful friend from high school--lives in California)
  • Ginger (another wonderful friend from high school--lives in New York)
  • Patricia (Katie's mother-in-law--lives in Virginia)
Winning 1 bar of the smells-so-good soap:
  • Sarah (my granddaughter who lives here with me!)
Have a wonderful Sunday everyone, and thank you again.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kathy Week 16: The Goat Mountain Gallop: UPDATE

I galloped Goat Mountain! What a great event for my fitness and the Clean Water project. I'm still on some kind of high from the endorphins. Dear Skinny readers, I have to tell you that I love feeling strong and fit! It was so worth it to go through my training, and to be able to accomplish this goal.

Here are a few highlights of the race.

The view of Goat Mountain from Molalla, where we registered by 7:15 am, and where we finished. The forecast said there was a 30% chance of precipitation. What to wear? Raincoat or shell...long pants or knee-length...I went with the knee-length pants and left the raincoat in the car at the last minute. Good choice - the rain held off, and it was pleasantly overcast the whole way.

At the registration table at Molalla HS. See #278 off to the right? She'll show up again later.

At the start line in Colton, waiting for the race to begin. As you can see, we're in rural country. It was a beautiful walk the whole way. Cows, horses, roosters, llamas, and barking dogs--oh yes, and there were a few goats, too--kept us company. Very little traffic on the roads - yay! And every so often, people on their front porches or in driveways were standing by to cheer us on.

Here we are at the start line, listening for last-minute instructions from the starter-gun guy. He was joking with us, trying to help everybody loosen up.

We're OFF! I was actually #2 in the race for about 3 minutes. Then the gals in the yellow jackets passed me. I held onto a position among the first 10 walkers for several miles. By the time we finished, I think I was about #20. Pretty good, compared to 2008, when I was next-to-last!

There were 8 county sheriff cars that kept track of us along the way. They were stationed at the road junctions, and they kept patrolling along to make sure everyone was ok, that the other drivers were going slowly, that we weren't taking up too much room in the road, etc. At this point, I'm still up near the front. You can see the gals in the yellow jackets. You can also see #278 in the white shirt and white hat in the middle of the photo.

That's the last of the photos from the start of the race. For the first 3 miles, I covered a mile every 12 minutes. After that I was walking a 14-minutes-per-mile pace almost until the end. I slowed down near the end, and averaged 14.5 minutes per mile for the race overall. (In 2008, I averaged 17 minutes per mile, so I shaved nearly 1/2 hour off my time! Wow!)

There are a number of good hills on this course. I did a very fast walk going down the the hills--almost a jog. And then I just powered up the hills. Oh, the training on the Oregon City hills really paid off!

About mile 4, #278 and I started taking turns passing each other. I would pass her going uphill, and she would pass me going down. She introduced herself--hello to Jennifer from Salem! She works in the schools there as a physical therapist. I pulled ahead of her on the steep hill just past mile 5, but by mile 7 were walking together, and we stayed together for the rest of the race.

It was great to have a fast walking partner, who was keeping the same pace I was. I think we both walked faster because we had the other one there, powering along. Did I mention how good it felt to be able to keep that pace?

By mile 8, the runners were passing us pretty consistently. They started out an hour after us, at 9:00 am. Everyone was covering a lot of territory!

The race organizers had water and Gatorade for us at mile 2.5, mile 6, and mile 9. That was sure welcome! (There was also a portapotty at mile 6, but I didn't need it.) I had tried out some little packets of "Hammer Gel" for energy on my long training walk two weeks ago, and I liked it. The packets are 100 calories each, and they gave me a good burst of energy every hour. I also slipped down 3 ibuprofins at mile 5, and I had also taken some at home before the race.

Here we come, heading for the finish line! Josh, Sarah, and Kat (3 of my grandkids) joined Jennifer and me a little way before the finish line.

Great time! It's really 3 hours 9 minutes 51 seconds - the timer is set for the runners, who started an hour after the walkers.

A few more statistics: I walked 13.1 miles, at a pace of 14.5 minutes per mile.
According to my pedometer, I walked 28,777 steps.

Ooh, my knees were pretty shaky for a few minutes. I needed to hang onto something for a bit!

Thanks to my partner, Jennifer, for helping me with my gallop around Goat Mountain! What a day.

Oh, and like Katie mentioned in a recent post, "It's all about getting the cool number and the tee-shirt." So here I am back at home, post shower, with my clean new tee-shirt. I have to say, I had a great day! I hope you did, too.

Remember: It's not too late to enter for the Bubble and Splash giveaway. The giveaway ends at midnight tonight.

Click HERE to donate money for Clean Water projects around the world. The project helps families that don't have access to clean water. You can read more about my project on last week's post.

These women walk farther than my half-marathon every day to fetch water for their families. In a world with so much, it just takes a little to help families have access to clean water. I'd love to have you sponsor me. Together, we can make a real difference!

Then post a comment to tell me you donated, and I'll enter you in the drawing for the fabulous homemade soaps. So simple!

Thanks everyone, for your support with the Clean Water project! So far the donations are right around $200.00! Every little bit helps...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mustard Chicken - Frugal Food Friday

This isn't the most frugal of our favorite family recipes...but it is super easy.  Sometimes a super easy and healthy recipe that costs just a bit more is still frugal because you can throw it together on one of those nights when you otherwise might be tempted to eat out.  This recipe originally came from a recipe card a grocery store was giving out...sorry I can't remember which one.  I also don't have nutrition information on this, but maybe someone with a nutrition calculator can figure it out for us. 

I usually buy the frozen veggies at Costco in their frozen foods section.  I've had good luck finding inexpensive honey mustard or brown mustard at dollar stores are as a generic brand.  I also buy the chicken ahead on sale and freeze it in single meal portion quantities.

Mustard Chicken

Cook: 2 cups brown rice in rice cooker or on stove.

Cook:1 lb. Chicken breast, cut up with water or a little oil in frying pan.  (I usually start with a little oil to cook the chicken and add a little water to help cook the veggies.

Add: 1 pkg. Frozen stir fry vegetables. Cook until thawed and tender-crisp.

Separately combine:
1/4 cup Dijon mustard (We always use honey mustard or brown deli mustard.  We never have dijon on hand to use.  We've used regular yellow mustard.  It can work, but we don't like it as well.)
2 tbsp. Chicken broth (can add 1/2 tsp. Chicken bouillon instead)
1 tsp. Cornstarch. (I usually add more like a tablespoon, especially if you've added a bit of extra water to cook the veggies and/or chicken.)  Stir into cooked vegetable and meat mixture. Heat until thick and bubbly. Add a little water or more mustard/cornstarch mixture until sauce is desired consistency.
Add: 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts (optional)

Serve over cooked rice.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step!

Well hello faithful readers...if I didn't scare you all away last week! :) I apologize for having a bit of a breakdown- it had been a really stressful and quite frankly terrible couple of weeks and it just came out...sorry. The good news is that I am over it and feeling a lot better. Thanks to all of you who offered suggestions; I will keep them in my bag! (Callie: Nick and I did decide to make our menus on Sundays now...we would try and do that before, but we didn't have a set time we did it and so it often got overlooked. So thanks for that tip!)

So, what happens when you have a breakdown? What happens when you just get off track for one reason or another? Or when you get really busy and things fall apart...or you have a vacation...or, well you get the point. It is easy for us to control what we eat and our activity level when we are in control, but sometimes we just aren't. We could feel sorry for ourselves and get into a slump, or feel like we failed and stop trying, or we could push on. (How many of us have done the first two? I know I am guilty!)

The way I see it, it took time to get into good habits. And even though we can get out of them super quickly (which sucks), we can get back into them if we give ourselves time again. Try focusing on just one or two things to begin with- once you feel like you are mastering them, add a couple more. Continue on until you are back to where you were before (or better!)

See, I had a few terrible weeks. My workouts suffered; my meals suffered; everything suffered. And it was easy for me to say "well I just undid everything I had been working towards so I might as well not try anymore." I knew that I wasn't just going to wake up one day and all of the sudden be back to all of my wonderfully healthy habits. So I picked two to begin with- drinking water and a bedtime for the kitchen.

I know that when I drink lots of water my body can get rid of its toxins and my skin looks better. It also helps me to not be so snacky. A good rule of thumb I have heard is to drink half of your body weight in ounces each day. This is my minimum. Add some Texas heat, running, and dancing and you can often catch me drinking my entire body weight in ounces throughout the day. It just makes me feel great.

Secondly, I need a specific bedtime for the kitchen or I will snack right up until bedtime...and I know I don't have time to burn those last minute calories I jam in before laying still for hours! This one is particularly hard for me as I often get home at 10pm and haven't eaten since 4pm or so...I just can't seem to make myself go to bed hungry! However I put the kitchen to bed at 9pm now- and that is it. Sorry, but the kitchen is sleeping and there isn't anything I can do about it! Knowing that it isn't even an option helps me to resist temptation.

Those are my two things for this week- we will see how I feel next week and maybe I will add a couple more. I suggest for any of you that are this healthy thing just isn't going to work to make a list of a few things you can do to make yourself healthier- then just pick one to focus on at a time!

Triathlon update: I have been very terrible due to my "slump". However this week I did hit the gym hard already once and have added some new strength training exercises to my regulars. I haven't made myself get in the pool again (which is long overdue) but I am running regularly and have been biking both indoors and outside on a real bike. This Saturday I am running a 10K in beautiful Texas Bluebonnet wish me luck! :)

Food Politics update: Who knew that the Food Guide Pyramid was so controversial? I definitely do not remember it being a big subject in the news in the 90's, but I also was a kid that probably didn't pay much attention to the news. The drama started in the mid 1970's to create a guide for the public that could inform them of nutritional information. There were debates on which department got to oversee it (why was the Dept. of Agriculture giving nutritional advice instead of the Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare/Health and Human Services?) and how to advise people to essentially eat less while not sending the message to "eat less" (corporations/committees wouldn't let anything pass that recommended eating less of its products). Eye opener for sure- don't just blindly follow the Food Guide has corporate interests at heart!

P.S. The Giveaway will close at midnight on Saturday! Over $150 raised for Clean Water so far!!
Here's the the link.

Walking in Circles: With a GPS!

Ever hear of Geo-Caching?

It's another fun thing you can do while walking in circles. It's basically like a little treasure hunt. Using coordinates that are downloaded into a little GPS unit, you can go out searching for little Caches that other people have hidden. Once you find one, after being sure no "Muggles" are watching, you remove it, sign the date and your name, and put it back exactly where it was so others can have fun with it, too.

Last week a few of us went out for a walk and spent about an hour geo-caching around town. I can honestly say we were "walking in circles" a number of times because the GPS readings often fluctuate depending on terrain and structures. It's over here! No wait, now it says it is in this area. Oh,'s THIS way! Here it is!!

This is our little GPS:

Found it! Hidden on a tree branch.

Geo-caching is fun for everyone!

What is this? Be sure to look carefully!

Ooooh, how tricky!

Sometimes they are VERY tiny.

And hidden is crazy places!

Think it's just a rock wall? Look close:

One more FIND for the day!

Okay, I'm going to admit that Geo-Caching around town isn't hugely aerobic because of all the stopping and looking and signing. But who cares? It's fun, it gets us outdoors, and yes, sometimes you DO have to walk a ways to find the Cache. Hooray!

Now go on outside and take a walk. Today! You won't regret it. :)

PS: Interested in learning how to make a great Stovetop Granola? Just follow the link over to my home blog and give it a try!

We'd love to hear from you!

Want to write a guest post for The Skinny? E-mail Katie at kathleenann08 (at) gmail (dot) com.