26 JanSpaghetti Squash = Awesome!

Hello everyone! I hope you enjoyed your holidays! If you REALLY enjoyed your holidays, a new year is a great time for a fresh start!

Let’s start off this year with a new recipe! My new go-to food is spaghetti squash. For those of you who have never had it, spaghetti squash is magical! All you have to do is cut it in half lengthwise, rub a little bit of olive oil on it, turn it face down on a cookie sheet, and put it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Something miraculous happens in that oven. When it comes out, use a fork to pull it apart, and it mimics the texture of pasta! Amazing! A zero point food that is delicious and can become anything you want it to be. You can put your favorite marinara sauce on it (1-2 points, depending on the sauce and whether you add cheese), or you can add a little butter and Parmesan cheese (5 points). Today, I decided to try something new, and being the healthy food nerd I am, the results were really exciting! Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you…MEXICAN SPAGHETTI SQUASH!

Mexican spaghetti squash

Approximately 1 cup cooked spaghetti squash (You really don’t have to measure it if you are on Weight Watchers. Most veggies are zero points.)
1 oz shredded cheese
1/4 cup black beans
Salsa to taste (Another magical zero point food, unless there is something creamy, cheesy, or starchy in it.)
A couple of dollops of fat free Greek yogurt (For Fage brand yogurt, which is the kind I use, anything under 1/4 cup is ZERO points!)
1 tbsp. Bolthouse Farms Salsa Ranch Dressing

Put the cheese, black beans, and salsa on the spaghetti squash and microwave it for about 1 minute. Add the yogurt and dressing. That’s it! Yummy deliciousness will follow! You’re welcome.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know if you experiment and try your own combinations! The possibilities are endless!

NOTE (2-17-14): I have recently discovered that the size of the spaghetti squash you are cooking affects the necessary cooking time. You may need to leave it in the oven anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size. If you take it out, and it is not tender yet, just flip it over and put it back in!

05 DecHealthy Holiday Survival Guide!

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It is Christmastime, the busiest time of the year! As you have probably noticed, I have been crazy busy the last few months, and have unfortunately neglected this blog more than I’d like. I am hoping that over the next several weeks, and into the new year, I will be able to focus more on writing new tips, tricks, recipes, reviews, and motivation for everyone to enjoy!

With everything we try to accomplish in the fall/winter months, sometimes we can sometimes neglect ourselves. We try to eat on the go, not always making the best choices. We tell ourselves we don’t have time for exercise, because there is just too much to do! We think, “Oh…it’s the holidays. I will just enjoy it and not worry about what I eat! I’ll start in January.” Lots and lots of excuses… Here is the way I see it. Yes, we are busy. Yes we want to enjoy our holidays. I think there is a way to find a middle ground. Here are a few suggestions for surviving the holidays, while still taking care of your health.

- Find ways to fit movement in when you can. If you have 5 minutes, do some squats or lunges. Later, if you have 5 more minutes, do more! Before you know it, you will have done 100 squats in a day. You can also take a quick walk around your neighborhood and look at Christmas lights, or spend some time playing outside (or inside if you have a Wii, for example) with the kids in your life. The key is to do what you can, when you can. Make YOU a priority.

- Take snacks with you! Always have a little something with you, in your car or your bag. That way, if you are out Christmas shopping or running errands, you won’t need to go through the drive thru. Measure out some almonds or air popped popcorn into plastic bags. Carry protein bars (make sure they are low in calories and sugar). Find healthy, pre-portioned snacks. Carry a banana or an apple with you. There are a lot of options, and it is better to be overprepared than underprepared!

- If you do get caught somewhere without snacks and need to eat something quickly, it is okay to grab fast food once in a while. Just make the right choices. Get a chicken breast sandwich (no mayo), and remove part (or all) of the bread. Get a salad, but be careful of high fat toppings and dressings. Skip the fries! I know. I love fries. They are my weakness. This is why I do not order them! That is a slippery slope right there! There are so many calories, fat grams, and general unhealthiness in those types of foods. If you do a little research and study the menu, you can find better choices in a pinch.

- When you are attending a holiday event, don’t stress out about what you are eating! You can enjoy yourself, just proceed with caution. Some suggest that you eat beforehand. That is a great suggestion if you really don’t want to eat at a holiday party. Personally, I like to enjoy the things my family cooks that I can only get once a year. I just do it in moderation. If you are attending a potluck, bring salad, or another healthy dish. That way you know there will be at least one healthy item at the meal, and you will know exactly what is in it. Fill half of your plate with vegetables. Then look at all of the food, and decided what you REALLY want. Get a couple of bites of each of those things, so that you are still enjoying the meal, but not going overboard. I feel so much better and have so much more energy when I don’t overindulge. I am able to enjoy events so much more when I eat this way, and I don’t feel deprived.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful! If you’re anything like me, you will find that the holidays are so much more enjoyable when you make good choices. You can have fun with family and friends, enjoy holiday meals, and still have energy left at the end of the day. You can go into the new year feeling great about yourself, instead of being full of regret. Who knows? You may even lose a couple of pounds! It may sound crazy, but it is absolutely possible. Don’t wait for January 1 to become a healthier you. Start now!

13 OctThe Roller Coaster We Call Maintenance

This spring, I reached my goal weight. I was thrilled, relieved, and terrified. Thrilled, because I had worked so long and hard, and had finally achieved my goal. Relieved, because I once thought it wasn’t possible. Terrified, because I had absolutely no clue how to maintain. Losing weight? I had become pretty confident in my ability to do that (finally), after I lost over 100 pounds. Gaining weight? I think we all know I was confident I could do that as well. Maintenance? I had no clue how to do that. I’d never been at goal weight, so I certainly had never maintained.

I embarked on this new journey with a little bit of trepidation, but I was eager to get started. Everyone has different opinions about how maintenance should be done with Weight Watchers. Some eat every point coming to them in weight loss, and they continue this in maintenance. Some eat only their dailies (which increase by 6 in maintenance mode), and others are somewhere in between. I used only my dailies most of the time. Once I entered maintenance mode, I wasn’t sure what I should do. First, I tried sticking to my dailies. I lost two pounds. I knew I needed to adjust my points, or I would continue losing. I tried eating more. I gained…then I gained some more. I went up 5 pounds in total, and showed no signs of stopping. I went back into weight loss mode, readjusted my goal weight, and began losing again. Once again, I reached goal, went back to maintenance, and began gaining weight. I am still tweaking my methods and figuring things out, and I seem to be getting on the right track.

I am still not sure what maintenance will look like for me, but I know I will figure it out. I know that this is where I am meant to be. I won’t give up, no matter how difficult things may get. The journey to healthy living, weight loss, and maintenance is never finished. It takes adjustment to figure out what works for you. Never give in. Never stop believing in yourself.

This is a post I have been holding onto for a long time. I felt like I was holding myself back a little in sharing with everyone, because I am still figuring this out. However, I have realized that by sharing struggles, we can all learn from each other and we can feel a little less alone. Please let me know if you have questions, need support, or if you have suggestions for future posts. You can send me a message on Facebook, Twitter, or email me at the address on the right of the page! (I’m sorry I had to remove the contact form, but I was getting a ton o’ spam!)

12 SepRunning to Remember…

Twelve years ago today, I was on my college campus, just minutes after I heard the news of the terrorist attacks. I stood in the student union and watched the footage of the first plane hitting, then the second. Everyone crowded around the televisions in shock and disbelief. Could this really happen on our soil? This was the land of the free, the home of the brave. If something like this could happen here, what would happen next? What were we supposed to do now? That day, my friends and I did the only thing we knew how to do. We got together and prayed. None of us really knew what to say, but we spoke from our hearts, crying out to God in sorrow, confusion, and fear.

In the days, weeks, months, even years that followed, we tried to process this event. We all came together and remembered. Even if we didn’t know someone who was directly affected by the attacks, we were all affected. We all lost something that day. Twelve years have passed, and we all remember where we were when we heard the news, and what we did next.

Just a few days ago, I was able to reflect in a new way. I participated in the Run to Remember, a 5K and 10K race held to honor those who were lost that day, twelve years ago. It was my first 10K, something I had spent months training for, but it was profound in so many other ways. The event opened with a presentation of the colors, followed by the National Anthem. Then the statistics were read. We reflected on how many adults, children, and first responders were lost. We heard how many children were left without parents, how many people were injured, how many were still affected by post traumatic stress disorder. They were haunting numbers, just as large as I remembered. Then, we were led in prayer. Just like all those years ago, we prayed for God to watch over those who lost someone…to watch over us all, and to help us remember.

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The race began. Once I crossed the start line, it was not unlike other races I had participated in..until I caught up to the firefighters. Two firefighters ran in full gear. The heat was blistering, and they ran the entire 6.2 miles. I ran with them, slightly in front, or behind them for the majority of the race. It was truly an honor to be running alongside them. Along the course, there were firefighters standing to the side, cheering us on, and thanking us for participating. It was incredibly humbling to have a firefighter thank us for running in a race. They risk their lives every day, running into danger when others run out, yet they were thanking us for running on a course. I can’t quite describe what that was like.

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After we crossed the finish line, there was a memorial. There was a color guard and firefighters in full uniform stationed outside. We were given a flag to place inside the memorial. There was a space for each person we lost in the attacks, printed with their name. We were to place the flag beside the name, and write down the name so that we could go online to read that person’s biography. We have all heard the numbers, but to see thousands of names and thousands of flags was staggering. We placed our flags there and left the memorial. Suddenly, the fact that I was standing in the same city where I heard the news, just miles from my school, just hit me. Tears came to my eyes and I spent a moment reflecting…remembering. To take something that I have truly come to love, that has changed my life, and make it a part of this beautiful tribute was something I will never forget.

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03 SepWhat’s on my running playlist? 9-2-13

Hello, everyone! I’m sorry I have missed a few weeks of posting my music! I am less than one week away from my first 10K. I am a little nervous, but I’m ready! I have already gone further than the 10K distance on training runs, so I know I am prepared. Let’s get to the music!

The next five songs from my running playlist are:

Toxic
Britney Spears

Down
Miranda Lambert

Poor Unfortunate Souls (from The Little Mermaid)
Pat Carroll

Cowboy Casanova
Carrie Underwood

Face 2 Face
Mandisa

See you next time! What is on your running/workout playlist?

17 AugA Disney & Fitness Nerd’s Dream at the D23 Expo!

Some of you may know know that I am a certified (or is it certifiable?) Disney nerd. So of course this year, I attended the D23 Expo. The Expo is basically like Comi-Con for Disney. Anything and everything Disney-related can be found there. Since this isn’t really a Disney blog, I won’t give you the full rundown, but I will tell you about the fitness-related portion. I had the amazing opportunity to meet Ali Vincent, the first female winner of Biggest Loser. She was signing autographs and I was able to meet her, get a photo, and have a conversation with her. We talked about what it’s like to lose a large amount of weight and how your life changes. She gave me a “Live Well” token, and what she calls a “grab bracelet.” She puts it on the hand she would grab snacks with to serve as a reminder of her goals. Ali asks herself “Will this snack get me where I want to go, or keep me from getting where I want to go?” It was a really inspiring talk, and I feel so blessed to have met her! It was just like talking to a friend.

Ali Vincent and me!

Ali Vincent and me!

My "Live Well" token from Ali!

My “Live Well” token from Ali!

My "grab bracelet" from Ali.  I wear it every day!

My “grab bracelet” from Ali. I wear it every day!

The next day, Ali gave a brief talk about health, fitness, and runDisney. She talked about how accessible it is. Anyone who has a dream that they can do a runDisney event can do it, one minute at a time, Ali pointed out, explaining the Jeff Galloway run/walk method. This training technique makes it possible for so many more people to be runners. I know it has made it possible for me. Listening to Ali talk about runDisney, and watching a brief video about it, got me even more excited to complete my first Disney Princess Half Marathon and Glass Slipper Challenge next year.

After her talk, Ali demonstrated a short workout with exercises everyone can do while waiting in line. It was so much fun to get up and move with her, combining two of my favorite things…Disney and fitness. I hope there were people watching that were inspired to change their lives and get moving! That’s how it starts…one step at a time. Take a chance today, and choose to change your life. The hardest step is the first one, but if I can do it, anyone can!

Believe it!  Be it!

Believe it! Be it!

For more information about runDisney, visit http://www.rundisney.com

For more information about the Jeff Galloway method, visit http://jeffgalloway.com

For more information on Ali Vincent, and her show Live Big with Ali Vincent, visit http://alivincent.com/

06 AugLong overdue update…Give Kids the World!

My fundraiser for Give Kids the World ended a couple of months ago, and I deeply apologize for not updating it until now. Thanks to so many generous family, friends, and readers, $410 was raised for Give Kids the World. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your support.

Here is a link to the donation page for more information on Give Kids the World: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/Kendra_G/weightlosschallengegktw

You can also find more information on their website at http://www.gktw.org/

Again, I am beyond grateful and humbled by all of the support and kind words. I hope to do another fundraiser of some kind in the future!

31 JulWhat’s on my running playlist? 7-29-13

Hello, everyone! Another long run yesterday! This week, it was 5.31 miles at 12.6 minutes per mile. I got an Addaday roller and used it for the first time! It seemed to really help loosen up my legs. I will be writing a blog post with photos and first impressions of it very soon. Now, on with my running playlist!

This weeks songs are:

What Faith Can Do
Kutless
(This one is a little slow for running, but just “happened” to end up on my playlist. It was exactly what I needed to hear this week. Sometimes God speaks in funny ways, but He is always right on time.)

Best Days of Your Life
Kellie Pickler

Doin’ Dirt
Maroon 5

Have a Nice Day
Bon Jovi

Sweet Thing
Keith Urban

Getting Ready
Miranda Lambert

That’s the list for this week! What are some of your favorite songs to listen to while you run, walk or work out?

19 JulWhat’s on my running playlist? 7-15-13

Hey everyone! Sorry I am late on posting this! I had a little injury last week and the doctor suggested I temporarily change my run/walk intervals. I dialed it back a little, and I am feeling much better! I am learning that I have to take these things seriously in order to stay healthy and keep moving forward in my training. My long run this week was 4.36 miles at a 13 min/mile pace. Not too bad considering! Here are the next five songs on my running playlist!

Love Won’t Leave You
Avalon

Viva La Vida
Coldplay

Take You at Your Word
Avalon

Trash Day
Butch Walker

Here’s to Never Growing Up
Avril Lavigne

Well that was quite a mixture! I hope you are finding these interesting! Let me know what songs you have on your workout playlist!

09 JulNever. Give. Up.

“Why is this so hard?!” “I can’t do this.” “I want to quit.” “What was I thinking, signing up for a half marathon? I can’t even run 6 miles!” “I should just forget it. I can’t do it.” This is the cold, negative, logical (or so I thought) side of me. This is the person that so many of us have a tendency to become as we get older. Something happens to us as we become adults. We forget how to dream, how to wish, how to believe anything is possible. Whatever happened to the girl who dreamed…the one who believed I could do anything? I’ve realized something lately. She’s still in there. When a run gets difficult, and I don’t want to go on, I dig deep and I hear her. She says “Keep going.” “Never give up.” “Believe.” “You can do this.” I press on, and I finish. Maybe not as fast as I would have liked, maybe not as…comfortably as I would have liked, but I finish. Deep down, I knew I could. God absolutely knew I could (and would), but sometimes that old negativity comes to the surface and seems so much louder.

When things get difficult, I am trying to bring out that dreamer, the girl who believes I can do anything. I can be an adult with all of this life experience, but I can be a dreamer, a believer, a wisher as well. This is the person God wants me to be. Little by little, this is the person I am becoming..

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