Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December Birthday and Holiday Fun!

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I said December was going to be a busy month and I wasn't kidding! The Weight Watchers project wrapped and I went back to my normal life, which is a bit less exciting, but not by much. Next up was my birthday. The night before my birthday I had a small celebration with Miguel and the kids, including some yummy desserts that I picked up for the occasion.

How precious is this picture? I'm a lucky woman.

And the morning of my birthday those two little loves almost made me cry with their sweet birthday wishes, getting ready for school like angels and offering to "make your favorite cereal because it's your birthday mommy." Nothing better than that.

I worked that day but I still managed to enjoy it. I snapped this picture of the Golden Gate on my way to the hospital. Taking in that view made my day that much better.

And for lunch I went to one of my faves, Sol Food, and had ribs, black beans, rice, salad and fried plantains ("maduros" meaning ripe, which also means sweet - so good). It was a great meal.

That night Marek went to a birthday party so Ms Myra and I attended the San Francisco Symphony. A few months back Marek and I had a "special night," so now it was her turn. We were a bit rushed so we ate dinner in the car on the way (Panda Express, don't tell anyone). The symphony was the music of Looney Toons cartoons, so fun to hear live! During the performance they projected cartoons onto a big screen over the orchestra.  

After the show we searched for ice cream and ended up at the original Swensen's ice cream. We both had a scoop and chatted like two little girls all the way home. I had such a great time with my girl.

Saturday morning was the next birthday gathering. I'm realizing there were kind of a lot of birthday celebrations and feeling quite loved. I went to breakfast with my mom, the kids and M. I had a veggie omelet and splurged on the home fried potatoes, some bacon and multiple bites of other people's pancakes. Plus, more cake. 

Then it was off to buy a Christmas tree.

And then home to get the holiday decorations started. We couldn't finish though because I had to get ready for dinner out with M to celebrate my birthday. Oh boy, it was so good. I actually had a ribeye steak. That, plus the martini, wine, dessert - well, it's no wonder my weight took quite a jump this week. 

Sunday was round two of holiday decorating and by the end of the night the house was ready for Santa!

And we were exhausted. We piled up on the couch to watch another Star Wars movie. We're trying to get through all six before the new one comes out. 

Oh, before I wrap up - a few final things. I exercised three times last week and, so far, two times this week. My goal right now is three times a week. It's taking mental effort to get myself to go. I'm still of the "ah, skip it" mentality. Sad, right? But I know exercise is VITAL to my happiness. Absolutely vital. So I'm going. And I know, I believe, I'll get the bug again and it won't be something I have to push myself to do. Bottom line, I'm going. Mostly I've been running on the treadmill and then doing random, easy weight lifting. My back has been so bad lately so I'm going slow. 

Speaking of my back, I finally went to an orthopedist to see what the deal is. She took x-rays, talked to me about what she thinks it might be (spinal/disc mumbo-jumbo), and then ordered an MRI. All I remember is it doesn't seem to be awful/need surgery like I'd feared, and she's confident that with physical therapy, maybe some injections and good management I can get pain free. Imagine! I don't talk a lot about it but the back has been so bad lately that I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night in so much pain I can hardly move. And if you watched me put my socks on in the morning you'd think I was recovering from abdominal surgery. It's bad.

waiting to get x-rays
Final thing, and this might be a whole blog post soon, Weight Watchers. I went to my meeting today and got all the details for the new Beyond the Scale plan. I have to say, I think I love it. It encourages people to eat more like I think I eat. Emphasis on lean proteins, some consideration of calories, and sugar and saturated fat are discouraged through having a high Point value.  

The next two weeks are no less splendidly busy than these past weeks have been. Holiday parties, dinners with friends, family gatherings...lots of food and drink I'm sure. It will be a victory to keep up my exercise and not gain weight, let alone lose, through all the festivities. 

Speaking of weight weight jumped by over three pounds from last week. Huh? Ok, I don't think I ate that much. But I reminded myself that whenever I start or increase exercise I usually gain at first. I think it's water retention as the body adjusts to all the new activity. Or maybe I'm PMSing? Ok fine, I ate a lot. No matter, I know what to do, keep plugging along. It will work eventually. I just passed my third year of maintenance. I know as long as I don't ignore the issue, I can tackle it. I'm a bit irritated though because the WW app stopped working for me. I want to track this week but it won't hold anything I enter. I know people all over are struggling with the app and it will take the WW tech people time to get the bugs out but grrr.

Speaking of WW, keep on eye on their social media. I hear you might catch a glimpse of me just after Christmas. I'm not working for them and I'm not a spokesperson - but I did get to do something that I hope will inspire someone, even just one person, to get out there and start living. I can't wait to see it myself and share it with you. Ok, that's it from me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Every Day Comeback

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It's Tuesday and life is cruising along, a bit more excitement than my normal life though. I'm knee-deep in my Weight Watchers extravaganza. I wish I could say more about it but it won't be long before you get to see what I've been up to.

In the meantime, I've been gently focused on my little comeback. I followed through and went to the gym on Sunday. I ran for 3 miles on the treadmill at a very doable 5mph (12 minute miles). I haven't been running lately so I started with a 5 minute warm-up walk (and did a 5 minute cool-down walk too) to allow my body to adjust. The running was great, actually. I was nervous about how it would go but I felt fine. Not just fine, really good. Physically it was definitely a challenge, but psychologically I felt such a sense of relief that I was actually doing something.

So I got to thinking about making a training plan for the Rock-n-Roll half-marathon in April. I do not want a repeat of the Healdsburg half. If you recall, I ran those 13.1 miles with almost no training and it was painful. Lesson learned. I don't have a training plan yet but I'm comforted with knowing I can easily run 3 miles as a base. Definitely something I can work with.

After the treadmill I did some light weight-training and body weight work. I'm not yet following a plan with weight-training, just doing what feels easy and simple while I slowly build up some base strength again. I haven't been to the gym consistently in months, this is going to take some time. And the good news is, I have the time - and the desire.

So I finished at the gym and then it was home to make dinner. I'd had a plan to make a Latin style meal, grilled chicken breast with grilled bell peppers and pico de gallo. I also made Spanish Rice. I was SO HAPPY with how the meal turned out. I chopped up cilantro and rubbed it into the chicken - that with salt and pepper and a little olive oil - YUMMY!!

Seriously, doesn't that look good?
Every homemade meal that is at the crossroads of "healthy" and tastiness feels like such a victory! Then to bed, the workweek is starting so a good night sleep is in order.

Back to it on Monday. I stopped at Baja Fresh and had the Grilled Shrimp Chili Lime Salad -
fresh salad greens & kale, pico, onion, bell pepper, jicama and tortilla strips, topped with fresh avocado and anejo cheese, tossed with chile lime dressing 
I had them leave off the tortilla strips, cheese, and dressing but I added green salsa (sort of in place of dressing) and jalapenos for more flavor. It was great, especially the huge chunks of avocado.

Grilled Shrimp Chili Lime Salad from Baja Fresh

I had a plan to go to the gym after work and I was feeling less than enthusiastic about it. But I used my old trick of "don't think, just do." Reminds me of Yoda - "Do or do not, there is no try." Yeah, Star Wars is big in our household right now.

Anyway, the point is, I made it to the gym. I did 25 minutes on the upright bike and then some simple, easy weight training stuff, focusing on the physical therapy exercises from a couple years ago.

So there you have it, two days of going to the gym. And today I went to my WW meeting, down 1.2 pounds from last week. Nice! Despite feeling like I haven't been that focused, all the little things add up. I guess I'm in the midst of a comeback, not a major one, more the kind I've made before and will make again, a sort of every day comeback. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Trip to Sweden and a Family Thanksgiving Feast

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Another whirlwind couple of weeks. Something tells me it's going to be like this through the holidays. I'm not complaining, I enjoy a bit of intensity and chaos. That is, as long as it's of the fun type and balanced with relaxation and calm too.

One of the big things happening here is that I took a trip to Sweden! Mr M had a business trip and invited me along for a portion of it. Two Thursdays back I flew to meet him in Copenhagen. They served dinner on the flight, Chicken Tikka Masala with rice. I took the croutons off the salad, skipped the dressing, and had only a few bites of the cheesecake dessert. I did eat the dinner roll and butter and saved the cheese and crackers for later. The meal was actually pretty good.

After dinner I took a couple Advil PMs and managed to get a good chunk of sleep. I woke up to a scene of what looked like tundra landscape out the window.

I arrived in Copenhagen Friday morning, met up with M and then we flew together to Stockholm.

I've been to Europe, but not since my 20's and never to any of the Nordic countries. We arrived in Stockholm in the late afternoon and it was already dark - 2pm feels like dusk and by 4pm it's completely dark out. That, coupled with the time change (Sweden is 9 hours ahead of California), threw me for a bit of a loop, but I rolled with it.

That night we walked around the Old Town portion of Stockholm.

And had dinner at a restaurant that served classic Swedish dishes.

We shared two appetizers, one of various fish items, the other a Swedish version of beef carpaccio.

For an entree I had reindeer with a sauce that included lingonberries, served with a gratin-style potato on the side. I couldn't really distinguish the meat from beef, very similar taste.

I have this goal of losing the few pounds I've gained but I accepted that I couldn't easily track or eat in a particularly "clean" style while sampling the local fair. But I did what I could here-and-there, such as avoiding the huge (and quite lovely) basket of bread and crackers with fresh butter that the Swedish seem to serve with every meal. And when it made sense I ordered food that seemed to balance a healthy diet along with enjoying the local cuisine.

Saturday morning was our first opportunity to see the sights in daylight. We spent the weekend walking around Old Town as well as visiting some of the other sights.

A selfie in Stockholm
Our activities included a museum based around an old warship, the Vasa, that sunk in 1628 and was raised in 1961. The ship has a sort-of funny history in that it was a very expensive symbol of national pride and military dominance (for what was a very poor country at the time) but never even made it out of the harbor and sunk entirely within 30 minutes of launching.

The Vasa
The museum is fascinating - the salvaged ship and her contents are now letting the Vasa have its glory, the glory it didn't have back in the 1600's. We also listened to a Mozart concert in the Great Church, Storkyrkan, which was built in 1306. Classical music is so dreamy.

Speaking of music, one night we happened upon a Swedish band from the 70's, Das Vag, who were having a bit of a reunion show. The place was PACKED and we enjoyed a big dose of dancing and beer while listening to some great rock songs we couln't understand. So fun!! Dinner that night was super-indulgent but hopefully all the dancing helped balance things out.

Lunch one afternoon was seared salmon with beets and other goodies, potatoes on the side. I had the lemon buerre blanc sauce on the side and enjoyed the meal without hardly any of it.

a view of Stockholm from Skeppsholmen, the island where our hotel was.
Ice skating in downtown Stockholm.
Did I mention how cold it was? By my California standards anyway...mid 20's during the day. Brr. We managed to squeeze in a lot of sightseeing and fun-having in the four days I was there, I'll close out my trip-telling with a few favorite pictures, in no particular order.

At the Christmas market in Old Town
Another pic of the market
a typical Swedish "fika" - afternoon coffee and treat
Of course, Swedish meatballs
Cafeteria fair at the Vasa museum
walking around town at night. Love that dramatic sky.
Touring the Royal Palace
Another at the Royal Palace
Having an afternoon glass of Glogg in a Swedish cafe
I never made it to the hotel gym while I was there but I did manage to get in plenty of walking, despite the cold temps. On Monday while M was working I walked all over town exploring and picking up chocolate treats to bring home to the kids and friends and family.

We arrived home on Wednesday and I couldn't wait to see my kidlets! I was away from them a week. We talked every day but that didn't keep me from missing them like crazy. We had a nice dinner together, soaking up the love.

Thursday morning, Thanksgiving, I made pancakes for the kids and we enjoyed a lovely lazy morning at home. I also worked on a chocolate cake to take to my mom's house.

We all headed to my mom's in the late afternoon for our family Thanksgiving dinner. Sadly I didn't take any pictures, but the table and meal were just perfect. My mom is a great cook and I indulged in some of everything. I definitely overate, that's so easy to do on Thanksgiving. The family time was much needed after being away. Oh, the chocolate cake turned out really good. I could have cooked it maybe 1-2 two minutes less because it crumbled a bit when I cut it, but the flavor and density were lovely.

As to leftovers, my mom sent me home with a pumpkin pie and a HUGE plate of turkey. Uh oh, I can't keep that stuff around. I passed the pumpkin pie on to Miguel so he and the kids could enjoy it and also gave him half the turkey. I kept the white meat to make soup.

I worked on Friday and then came up to Tahoe with M for the weekend. Because of the trip my schedule with the kids is unusual this month - I spent more time with them the first half of the month and now less the second half. We're missing each other a lot, but I'm thankful for Facetime and phone calls to bridge the distance.

Lake Tahoe
As to my weight, when I got back from Sweden I was 151.4 pounds. Better than I expected but still 1.4 pounds over my "sound the alarm!" weight and 6.4 pounds over my comfortable weight of 145 pounds. It's not easy to eat clean this time of year so I'm taking my own advice and focusing on maintaining my weight at the moment.

For lunch yesterday I had a Ranchero salad with sliced beef, black beans, jalapenos, and pico de gallo. I had them leave off the dressing and I didn't miss it at all.

Last night we met up with some of M's friends for a beer (I actually had a beer and a martini) and chicken wings. I figured a martini has less calories than a second beer, though I'm not sure my math is right. Anyway, later for dinner I cooked a turkey/vegetable soup. M is Italian and likes to have bread a lot. And cheese, olives, dried meats and wine. Oh dear. I'm trying to resist all those little delights but it's not easy and I had a bit last night with my soup.

Today is on track - Kashi GoLean with almond milk for breakfast. I just had a snack of Fage greek yogurt with apples and bananas,which might actually be lunch. As soon as I'm done here we're headed to the gym. It will be nice to work out, it's been quite a while since I've done an actual workout.

I get a little nervous sometimes thinking about how little exercise I've gotten in recent months. I know I'm way out of shape by my own standards. But I'm signed up for a half-marathon in April, which will nudge me. More importantly, I know I enjoy exercise and really want to be fit and able to continue adventuring. If I maintain this lack-of-exercise thing I'll suffer energy-wise and my drive to get out there will dwindle. Can't have that, don't want that. I still have lots of life to live, tons of adventures to go on with the kiddos, and many miles of trails, triathlons, sightseeing, and all the rest to see and do. I have to want to stay in shape or I won't be able to keep up with my dreams.

Speaking of dreams...I think I mentioned something happening with Weight's VERY exciting. I can hardly believe it! I don't know how much I should say so for now, let's just say if you follow Weight Watchers you'll be seeing more of me before too long. Ack! I'm so nervous, my adrenaline is ramping up just typing this. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Weekend Fun and Races to Come

I've had a fun-filled weekend, and inching closer to improved eating and exercise habits.

Thursday night I stopped at the local Latino market for a 1/2 pound of chicken fajita (chicken, onion, bell pepper and seasoning). I put a tiny bit of oil in a grill pan, sliced in an extra yellow bell pepper and some green onions and cooked it all on high. Normally I'd have this with rice or something but this time I just had it with pico de gallo. So yummy.

Friday was quite the day. I enjoyed a nice work lunch at Insalata's, a restaurant in San Anselmo that serves Mediterranean cuisine. I ordered their Herb Poached Chicken Salad with kale, beets, fennel, sunflower seeds, crispy quinoa (baked), and blue cheese. I skipped the dressing, squeezed a little fresh lemon on it and it was delicious!

Mr M was leaving on a business trip so I had an early dinner with him at an Italian restaurant. We shared a beef carpaccio appetizer and I had a small pasta dish with seafood in a light red sauce as an entree. I also had a glass of prosecco. During dinner we learned of the devastation in France, so sad and made me worried for Mr M getting on a plane, to the Middle East of all places. He left for the airport and I had plans to meet up with some friends so I rushed home to change.

We had tickets to see Wonderbread 5 at The Sweetwater, a local music hall in Mill Valley. We were going to celebrate a friend's birthday; my best buddy Michelle was also going so I was super excited.

Happy Birthday Nina!!
The celebration was underway when I heard from Mr M - he missed his flight. I wasn't disappointed. He eventually joined us and the night was a blast! Maybe a little too much drinking but you can never do too much dancing!

After all the debauchery we went in search of a late-night meal. We landed at In-n-Out burger; I had a burger, fries and a milkshake. Not exactly healthy but I'm convinced that meal is part of why I didn't have a terrible hangover on Saturday.

Speaking of Saturday, I had a nice day, including a long walk around town. I'm not running yet, but that will come. In fact, it has to come because...

I signed up for a triathlon! The San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz.

And I'm not going it alone, Mr M signed up too! Thank goodness because I'm going to need a lot of support...from their website:
Swimming from Alcatraz Island was once thought to be impossible. This year, nearly 1,000 athletes will (jump off a perfectly safe boat to) make the treacherous swim, fighting the strong currents and ever looming fear of what lies below the water's surface. This is certainly not a race for the faint of heart. The swim will start the journey but the hills of San Francisco may just be the hardest section on the course: it boasts sharp turns, fast descents and agonizing climbs to test the aerobic endurance and mental fortitude of every athlete. Next racers get to take in the scenic views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge as they weave their way back to the finish line on the demanding run course. Throw in a beach run with a 400 step sand ladder at the end - it's a race you won't want to miss out on!
I think it's best I just put this out of my mind for now because honestly, reading that description is making me question my own sanity! Besides, I've got other things happening right now, like staying focused through the holidays to get back to my happy weight.

As far as events, last year I signed up for the SF Rock-n-Roll half-marathon, which is coming up again in April...only 139 days away! I will DEFINITELY be training for this one, especially after the pain of running the Healdsburg Wine Country Half-Marathon on almost no training. And if I don't train? I won't run it. But I'll train, this was a great race last year and I'm looking forward to doing it again.

As to the rest of the weekend, we basically hung around the house and chilled. I came down with a case of laryngitis and sound awful. The good thing is, I sound way worse than I feel. Oh, and a trip to Costco, which included playing with the largest teddy bear I've ever seen! I put it in our grocery cart and while he didn't come home with us, we shared a good laugh anyway. Closing with a smile.