Monday, January 31, 2011

Ten Days Later

Body Moving: Well, it's been 10 days since my last post, and I am happy to report that I have not given up on Step Aerobics. I have been to 3 classes so far, and while I'm not ready to go to the head of the class, I'm sticking with it. I have definitely had my moments where I'm totally messing up, and I literally have to talk myself out of quitting (or giving the instructor dirty looks). But, I figure that as long as I'm moving my body, I'm getting a work out...and that is a vast improvement from where I was in December 2010. I have also incorporated into my workout a cardio kickbox class and some elliptical. "Variety", I think, is what will keep me exercising.

Good Eats: Thanks to Paula Deen at, I have stumbled upon my most favorite lunchtime dish--Spicy tomato soup. What's even better is that the prep time is under 10 minutes! Just grab your crock pot and throw in the following ingredients:

1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 cups canned chicken broth
1 (29-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (29-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 dashes hot sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

*Serves 6.

For a thicker version of the soup, Ms. Deen melts a 1/2 cup of butter in a saucepan on the stove and slowly stirs in a 1/2 cup of flour. After the combination is thick and creamy, she then adds it to the crock pot. I typically avoid this step, only to keep my soup on the healthy side.

For another tasty treat, try making mini-pizzas on wheat English muffins. I made mine with spaghetti sauce (rather than pizza sauce), low-fat mozzarella, and chopped yellow and orange peppers. This is a great, healthy alternative to your traditional greasy pizza. But, keep in mind they taste best when fresh out of the oven (rather than after being reheated in the microwave).

By the way, I baked these healthy treats at 350 degrees, for approximately 10 minutes, followed by 2 minutes under the broiler.

Let me know if you have any easy, healthy recipes to share!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coming Out of the Fog

Hiya dear blog friends! Well, here I am, back after a few weeks away. I promise you, I had every intention of blogging at least every other day. But as soon as I got back into it, the mother of all sinus infections took over my life. I am telling you, dudes, it was ridic! I felt pretty much out of it for two weeks, which means I did absolutely no working out. All I wanted to do was curl up under a blanket and sleep. And that I did, but toward the end, I was restless. But I did keep up with my healthy eating and here are some highlights.

Freshly-squeeze grapefruit-orange juice with turkey bacon and one egg:

Chef Meg's Tomato Soup (Spark People) with country bread and a mixed greens salad:

Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula Fettuccine (Cooking Light):

Spiced Cod with Broccoli-Quinoa Pilaf (Real Simple)

Shrimp Panzenella (Eating Well):

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili (Eating Well):

But here we are, it's another week and I'm finally getting my butt back into gear. so let's get to the present, shall well? Since getting sick, I've religiously made my own juice every week. I typically stay away from store bought juice due to the high sugar. But lately, I've only had a craving for citrus, so I've stuck with my grapefruit-orange recipe. I LOVE IT! Any juice fans out there? If so, what are your favorites?

Anyhow, for breakfast today, I had a small glass of grapefruit-orange juice and my usual iced skim latte. For the main entree, I cooked up Banana, Wheat Germ, and Oats, as featured in the January/February 2010 issue of Cooking Light. Lately, too, all I want for breakfast is something made with oats. I have always been a huge oatmeal fan, but I am super into finding new oatmeal-like recipes. This one was super easy. Top with bananas, a teaspoon of butter (I used ghee) and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Pretty yummy, although I might switch up the banana.

For lunch, Ryan and I resorted to one of our favorite cookbooks, Ellie Krieger's So Easy for her Tortellini-Spinach Soup. Love love love this one. Her recipe includes carrots, onion, celery and diced tomatoes and it's pretty hearty and filling. On the side, we had a mixed greens salad with cranberries, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, and fresh parmesan with a small dabble of Kraft's light balsamic vinaigrette.

I stuck to my regular water intake for the entire day and had zero cravings for snacks. The only thing I reached for was a dark chocolate calcium disc from Adora. This is huge, as I've been in a super-snack mood lately. When I was sick, I have to say I gave in to some of those cravings on occasion. But today was a success!

This post obviously includes a ton of magazine recipes and tonight's dinner also went that route with Real Simple's Grilled Lemon Chicken With Cabbage-Corn Slaw. Awesomely tasty! Chicken kind of bores me sometimes, but this particular recipe was zip-friendly.

Woo! I am really pleased with today's results. I even topped my evening off with 35 minutes on the elliptical and 10 minutes of weights. Woo! It felt great pushing through some of that ... I needed that feeling, especially after my lame sinus infection. Woo! (again!) A FAB start to my week and a FAB return to my weight-loss journey... thanks so much for all your kind words and for always reading Fighting the Pudge. May you have a fantastic evening! Time for Conan! xx

Saturday, January 22, 2011

First 5K (in Several Years) Complete!

What an exhilarating morning! Mel, Danielle, Margie, Brandon, and I ran the Greenville News 5K this morning. It was so much fun to stick together as a group and cheer each other on. This is the first race I have done in years and the excitement was in full force. I am running 5 miles (run/walk - that's our distance training method) on other days, so this wasn't too hard, but boy was it cold! A balmy 27!

Here we are about a 1/2 hour before the race and getting psyched up as we saw about 1,500 other runners/walkers join our ranks.

Mel made signs for Danielle and Margie to wear on their backs! Congrats to them for doing such an awesome job today!

At the start, Mel set the 1/1 pace time on her watch and we were off! Margie just started running last Saturday and she is already racing. I was so impressed. I love, love, love using my All Sports app on my phone to track our mileage along the way. It uses the GPS on my phone to track our route, time, and distance in real time. I love that type of feed back. I would like to find another 5K before the 10K on March 5th and really push it to see what sort of time I can make. This run was for fun and to do it as a group and wasn't too intimidating. I definitely can tell since I have been trying to work out 6 days a week in some form or fashion that my endurance is much better than 1 month ago, but I've still got a lot of training to do. I was so excited to get back into the pool too! I've had three good swims, 2 this week. I was so happy to swim 1800 yards on Tuesday (1 mile), then when I went to the pool on Thursday (STILL a bit sore from Danielle and Mel's killer "The Bruce" workout the night before at the Y) I was quite slow going. After about 500 yards in, I looked on the wall to see a "try me out" swim team workout printed on the dry erase board by the pool side. 3250 yards! The distance seemed mind boggling at first, but then I realized I used to do that daily for swim team in high school. Goes to show me that I had my mind pretty closed at going beyond 1800 yards. This changed my thinking and I swam 2000 yards in all. I'd like to tackle that workout as a cross training exercise, or at least work up to it in the next few weeks.

It was so exciting to cross the finish line and see the excitement on everyone's faces. There's just something about completing a race vs completing the same distance on non race days. Here we are after crossing the threshold!

I have to congratulate my team mate Mel for being such a leader and team motivator! Thanks to her, we have ourselves a wonderful little team and are quite determined! Running with a group is so motivating! Mel's lovely husband Brandon is always out there and sticking with us! My hats are off to Danielle and Margie, who are now officially racers! :-) I had so much fun. The best part was seeing Stephen and Thad (Danielle's husband) at the finish line. That means so much that they were there. It's exciting to have someone at the finish line to give you a smile and a hug.

After the race...
We've gotten into a nice little routine of going to a local coffee shop for a post run coffee warm up before we head our separate ways. Thumbs up to Coffee to a Tea!

On the way home...
So my mom has always liked to walk and jog. As we chatted on the phone about the race and some of my past runs, we got talking about the CRIM 10 Mile Run that takes place in Flint, MI every August. I told her I was planning to come home to run it again. My mom was excited and said she was going to sign up for the CRIM training run and we are going to run it together! Cheers to my mom!!

The next challenge on the schedule is the March 5th 10K Reedy River Run! I need this sort of motivational goal to keep my butt in training. :-)

The Results are in...although not doing this for time, I still want a record!

1703 420 Brandon Edwards 00:51:35 16:38 35 M Greenville, SC
1704 456 Raina Farrell 00:51:35 16:38 32 F Simpsonville, SC
1705 422 Mel Edwards 00:51:36 16:39 42 F Greenville, SC
1706 680 Marjorie Hintalla 00:51:37 16:39 33 F Greer, SC
1707 1227 Danielle Roland 00:51:37 16:39 35 F Greenville, SC

Friday, January 21, 2011

Back in the Game

Hi everyone! Long time, no talk! I actually fell off of the healthy-lifestyle wagon during the last few months of 2010 (and gained three pounds to prove it!). Luckily though, 2011 has brought a new sense of motivation and dedication to getting back on track! The reason? I got a Wii for Christmas! Haha!

Since Christmastime, I have committed to at least 30 minutes of physical activity, 6 days per week (in an addition to the twice-daily walks with Teddy). Turns out though, that I have had so much fun with Wii, particularly "Just Dance 2" and "Wii Fit"(including such activities as Advanced Step, Rhythm Boxing, and the Obstacle Course), my average has been about 60 to 90 minutes per day. A definite plus of Wii--I don't have to leave my house (which is so helpful, since I have baby Teddy to take care of). But, I sometimes wish I could break a little bit more of a sweat with Wii.

My solution? Dance 101--a dance studio located in the Buckhead/North Druid Hills neighborhoods of Atlanta, Georgia. Dance 101 has a TON of classes, my favorites of which are anything having to do with hip hop. So, for the past 2 nights, I attended Dance Fitness and Hip Hop Fit. Can you believe that both classes were FREE? Dance 101had FREE beginner classes all this week! Between Dance 101 and L.A. Fitness (my current gym), my goal is to plan to attend 3-4 classes each week (2 will most certainly fall on the weekends, since it's so hard to be away from Teddy during the week).

This Saturday, I'm planning to attend Step Plus Abs at L.A. Fitness. I'm a bit nervous though because this ain't your mama's Step class. I have been to this complicated class before and almost wanted to cry, I was so lost. But, it's a good workout (hey, at least I've got my body moving, right?), and I am absolutely determined to learn this advanced way of doing Step. I'll let you know how it goes!

Happy working-out to MacKenzie, Raina, and the "Pudge" community!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Used to be a Runner ... and I Am On My Way Again!

I just came back from the Y and completed a 5 mile run on the track while Stephen played basketball. I have been training for about a month now and feel quite good with my runs. I generally walk for a 5 minute warm-up and pick up the pace at a 1/1 run/walk. I love this training method, introduced to me at my first CRIM Training Run event in the gym at Mott Community College in Flint, MI in April of 2002 (I was 24). I have been thinking about previous races I had completed while working in Flint, and I wondered if I could find the results online. I love the internet! Finding all the results took a matter of 10 minutes! What a great way to track my running career! So, I've done a few, but I am quite a bit older now, many pounds heavier, and not in the shape I used to be. I haven't really had too much interest in my time completions, but looking back, I was pleasantly surprised to see some improvements over the years. I am looking forward to adding to this time line, as I have several races on my training schedule from now until April...and I do believe I'd like to go home and run the CRIM this coming August. I seem to recall there was a half marathon in addition to the 10 mile run, maybe a week later. I will have to do some researching.

So here it is. I am about to turn 33 the last day of this month. My first 5K in years is next Saturday. My game plan was to make sure I had a good warm up before the start so I could go right into my run/walk. Time didn't matter, but now it is starting to. I completed my 5 mile run in 1:22:54, but this was not at race pace, included a 5 minute warm-up walk, and water breaks at each 1 mile increment (YMCA indoor track).

Race Time Line
I remember running these first 2 races with no training practice, I ran the whole time, and I was most definitely huffing and puff. It felt awesome to complete them though!

Race 1
5K - October 20, 2000
MSU / U of M Tailgate Challenge
Flint, MI

Female Age Group: 20-24
Place Name School Name Age Time Pace
13 Raina Allen MSU 22 39:30 12:43

Race 2
4 mile - March 16, 2002
Shillelagh 4M
Flushing, MI

Female Age Group: 20-24
Place Name Age Time Pace
14 Raina Allen 24 46:28 11:37

Here I had such an awesome group of people to train with. I was scared to run 10 miles! In 3 months! However, the drive and the way running made me feel were enough to want to complete such a big challenge. My running group leader knew I wasn't doing all the work I was supposed to be completing on the other 6 days between our long run days. It was so hard to fit it in, but I was able to keep up. I was NOT the best one in the group lets say! Even with training just one day a week with runs of increasing distance up to 12 miles and working out maybe 2 days additionally was enough to get the job done. I completed the CRIM! This is a huge deal in Flint every year. Can't wait to do it this fall. It has been 8 years.

Race 3
10 mile - August 24, 2002
CRIM 10 Mile Run
Flint, MI

Female Age Group: 20-24
Place Name Age Time Pace
190 Raina Allen 24 2:15:08 13:31

I kept up the races through the next year and still enjoyed it.

Race 4
5K - Nov 1, 2002
U of M/MSU Tailgate Challenge
Flint, MI

Female Age Group: 20-24
Place Name Age Time Pace
8 Raina Allen 24 36:08 11:38

Race 5
5K - August 7, 2003
Great Pizza Challenge 5K Run & Walk
Flint, MI

Female Age Group: 25-30
Place Name Age Time Pace
16 Raina Allen 25 34:13 11:01

I was a bit shocked when I looked up this time and discovered it was about 5 minutes better than the previous year, because I did not do the training run for this CRIM. I did train sporadically with a neighbor. The best part was knowing the course, because those Bradly Hills are torture!

Race 6
10 mile - August 23, 2003
CRIM 10 Mile Run
Flint, MI

Female Results
Place Name Age Time Pace
16 Raina Allen 25 2:10:18 13:01

So, here I am, 8 years older at (soon to be) 33 and finding myself infected with the running bug like no other. I have loved re-reading Jeff Galloway's Marathon again (CRIM training run is based on his training method), learning about the "Penguin" from Mel, and reading numerous running blogs. The inspiration is needed.

Here's the plan so far:
1. 5K (3.1 miles) on January 22, 2011
2. 10K (6.2miles) on March 5, 2011
3. Half Marathon on April 30, 2011
4. 10 mile CRIM at the end of August 2011

For the first time, I have a desire to run a marathon at some point in my life. This is the ultimate running goal for me, but I don't have a plan for this part in mind. I definitely want to include more 5K's in here too.

So, here's to my 2011 running year!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It's a New Year and I Am Back! Running!

I have missed blogging and need to make the time to do it.

I've got the running bug again and I love it! I have been super motivated to get into running again now that I have a great group to do the work with. I have had a standing Saturday morning training run date with the girls from work (Danielle and Mel!) since early December 2010. Mel and her husband started doing 5K race after 5K race and I loved how excited and motivated Mel always sounded. Danielle and I soon joined her on various workout adventures.

They introduced me to "The Bruce", a great 1 hour cardio/strength training workout put together by YMCA staff trainer Bruce. I've never met him, but boy did that kick my butt. So, together we are on our way to becoming runners. Mel has been at it for months and this is her first time being a runner. Danielle too! I've always liked running and began seriously giving it a shot back in Flint, Michigan when I was the Aquatics Director for the Downtown Flint YMCA. The famous Flint run is the annual CRIM, a 10-mile run through the city that happens every August.

What a rush that was. I did the Jeff Galloway training run and learned to run/walk. This made the impossible possible. When I first started, I was winded after one mile, but we were soon running four miles... and low and behold I could do 12! I did that for two summers. Now, I am up to four miles and have my first 5K on January 22 in downtown Greenville, SC. Mel then posted that she was going to run a half-marathon! Mel's enthusiasm is so addicting. I am now doing the half-marathon too and I have pulled good old Jeff Galloway's "Marathon" book off the shelf and gave it a good dusting. It just so happens that the half-marathon training schedule on his website fits into our time frame perfectly for an April 30th race in Greenwood, SC! I am so excited.

Additionally, Stephen has joined us on one run and may do the 5K, too. We have become YMCA members again and Stephen has got the workout bug. Thank goodness because he has also been my motivation on the evenings that I haven't wanted to get out the door and says "Get in the car, we are going to the Y!" I am so thankful for him. Here's to running!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bust a Move

How's everyone doing on this wintry Wednesday? How many have stuck with their New Year's resolutions so far? I'm pleased to say that I'm doing a-ok so far. I've got some reading in, my daily exercising is building up, and I plan to attack my closet and billfolder this weekend! My friend Sarah also knows of a fun and free Zumba class, so that'll be happening soon.

Moving on ... my day was full of royal wedding news. Like I've briefly mentioned before, I blog for a UK entertainment website, covering music, movie, television and pop culture news. With Prince William and Kate Middleton's recent engagement, I've also covered some of the events surrounding their forthcoming royal wedding. Lots of fun so far. Anyhow, my day plugged along at a steady pace and I only stopped for my three main meals.

I'm an oatmeal fan obviously and regularly feature my go-to staple, Love Your Man Steel-Cut Oatmeal. Please bear with me this week as it's my breakfast through Thursday. But this morning I also had an egg on seven-grain toast on the side, plus an iced skim latte.

For lunch, Ryan and I were in the middle of deadlines, so we had to make it quick. We had a beef burrito from Evol (with jalapeno side drizzled on top) and a salad on the side. I topped my mixed greens with sliced tiny peppers and chopped tomatoes with a tablespoon of Kraft's light balsamic vinaigrette. This carried me through dinner. No in-between snacking, no cravings, no problem.

Once dinnertime rolled around, Ryan resorted to one of his healthy classics: grilled chicken gyros. We serve ours on a whole-wheat pita that's topped with a light greek yogurt sauce. From there, add chicken, some cucumber and some pepper. We LOVE this one!

My daily workout came later in the evening with some "Just Dance 2" on Wii. I know I'm a little late in coming around to this popular game, but it RULES! My Mom got our family "Just Dance 2" while everyone was home during the holidays. Everyone participated, including my Dad and Ryan. Totally addicting and super fun. I danced my butt off so much during Christmas that my arms and legs were sore for days.

So naturally, once we returning to Chicago, I found an on-sale copy at Best Buy. And tonight I busted a move for 30 minutes. This is my ideal workout, too. The quickness of each routine totally keeps me focused and I just love dancing, plain and simple. Perfect timing for me during these winter months, as I'm just not feeling the elliptical right now.

Ok, it's time for me to call it a night. I'm going to give The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo another go. May you have a fantastic evening and a great start to your Thursday morning. Cheers!

How often do you change up your exercise routines?

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year! New Goals! New Me!

Happy New Year to everyone out there in bloggerland! I hope your holiday season was merry and full of fabulous fun and fabulous food. Mine certainly was. Here are some quick highlights from my Mom's fantastic Christmas dinner. On the menu was her classic spinach salad with eggs and slices of bacon plus her olive oil/lemon/vinegar dressing. We've had this at everyday holiday for most of my life and it's fantastic. Our main entree included salmon and steak, asparagus, mashed sweet potatoes, cranberries, and blueberry muffins. I have to include her table setup as well ... she always does an amazing job!

We also had one of her signature apple pies and my husband's homemade pumpkin pie for dessert. And I cannot forget about my Mom's epic cookies. She's made the Santa cookies for decades. I have fond memories of making 'em when I was a little kid. They're fab!

Ok let's fast-forward to the present: 2011. It's that time of year where everyone's making New Year resolutions and gearing up for big life changes. I typically do not make New Year resolutions because I never keep them. But for some reason, this year, I feel more determined that ever to see my New Year's goals through to the very end. Call me crazy! I seriously do feel ready and willing to accomplish a few, albeit small, things.

But before I share my list, I'd like to re-declare my mission with Fighting the Pudge. My dedication to finding my way to a healthier lifestyle with a healthier outlook may have taken a back seat in the last two months, as seen with the lack of posts. But as the saying goes, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." Even though I may have stopped posting, I stayed true clean and healthy eating. Sure, my exercise routine and logging my meals via Spark People also suffered, but I got in some walking and yoga whenever I could. And I'm still getting into my size 10 pants (and one size 8), so I'm ok with that. But in my time off, I noticed that my passion for blogging was burning out. I needed a break.

Anyhow, here I am today, ready to get back to the reasons why I started this blog in June 2010. That means more healthy eating and regular exercising. I still have 15 more pounds (and probably a few extra) to lose. My projected goal is to shed these 15 pounds and then some by May 1. Will I post about every single meal every single day? I don't know. I'm still figuring that out. But I will continue to log my calories and meals via Spark People on a daily basis and photograph my food. I do enjoy the latter.

Ok, I'm getting TOTALLY carried away here, so without further ado, here is my New Year's resolution list for 2011:

- Work on being a better listener (My ADD brain gets ahead of the conversation way too much sometimes)
- Read for at least 30 minutes everyday (I spend too much time on the computer and watching TV).
- Do not waste my monthly magazine subscriptions (No more giant stacks of BUST, Time Out Chicago, Real Simple, Eating Well etc.)
- Join a book club (I'm a book geek. And I want to meet and spend time with other Chi-town peeps).
- Blog when it feels right and when I feel good (to avoid burning out).
- Try Zumba once and for ALL (My Mom loves it)!
- Keep all drawers, closet, and bill-folder organized.
- Say hello to passers-by when walking through the city. (Why not? My sister in Atlanta does this all the time and can't believe we don't).

I am sure a few things will be added to this mix during the coming weeks. This year, though, is shaping up nicely already. I kick off my second semester volunteering for Open Books this month. Ryan and I are also taking our first big trip together in March when we venture to Ireland. This has been a longtime dream of mine since I can remember. I am so so excited! I feel very blessed and aim stay focused on that very fact all year long.

Ok, this is running super long, so let's chat food. My morning breakfast featured a regular staple of mine: Bethenny Frankel's Love Your Man Steel-Cut Oatmeal. It's just too easy to make and a great source of protein. I also had an iced coffee and some blueberry Chobani on the side.

Snacktime came twice today. Before lunch, I grabbed a skim mozzarella string cheese from Frigo. In the late afternoon, I enjoyed a chocolate calcium disc from Adora.

For lunch, Ryan and I consulted Teresa Giudice's Skinny Italian cookbook. For Christmas, my awesome sister got us and my parents autographed copies since my Mom and I, plus Steph, are all huge fans of the Real Housewives reality series (minus D.C.). Anyhow, on Sunday night, Ryan prepared Giudice's Giardino Minestrone soup. Her recipe includes grean beans, diced tomatoes, Cannellini beans, zucchini (we used summer squash since the grocery store was out), onion and some herbs. We also topped ours with a tablespoon of freshly grated parmesan cheese and had some seven-grain sprouted Trader Joe's toast on the side. Super filling and super good!

And lastly, for dinner, we resorted to some leftover salmon for a fantastic veggie salad. Ours included mixed greens, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, and a homemade lemon vinaigrette. For dessert, I had some strawberry Mochi. YUM!

If you've read through this entire post, I sincerely applaud you (and thank you, of course) for sticking with me. I'm excited for 2011 and all of its many surprises. I hope you are too! Best wishes for a happy and healthy twenty-eleven! Cheers!

Do you have any New Year's resolutions?