Getting a little more JOLLY, a little more GREEN, and a little less GIANT.

12 October 2012

Choose the Right

This morning I woke up.

It only got worse from there.

With several spontaneous things happening the night before, the kids' homework had not gotten done. In a last ditch effort to encourage them to be good students, I pressed them to finish it before breakfast. This resulted in fits of frustration for all parties. I felt like such a schizophrenic parent as I pushed my children out the door with a hasty kiss and an "I love you!" after all the anger of the morning. (Anyone else feel like your children's self esteem is sacrificed for the sake of getting everyone out the door on time for school?) 

With the bustle and the pandemonium of the morning my ambition for the day was spent. I didn't want to clean. I didn't want to exercise. I didn't want to care. I found myself googling the hours of operation for the nearest Mrs. See's candy store. And it wasn't even 9 am yet. (12 step program, anyone?)

In a moment of inspiration I decided to change my fate. As soon as my four year old was out the door on her way to preschool, I loaded up the toddler and drove out to Yellow Fork Canyon. It began to rain and I began to doubt (again) if I was up to this day. Honestly, I repeatedly considered bagging the inspiration, veering off my course, and heading straight for Mrs. See's. (It's 4 o'clock somewhere.)

At the last turn before the canyon it truly came down to turn left <-----Mrs. See's or turn right ----->hiking. 

I chose the right. In more ways than one.

Hiking was exactly what I needed today. The trail was deserted. The only company I had was the 30 pounds of cuteness and pack I carried on my back. Without my children along I was able to set my own pace and work my way up the mountain at a decent and steady pace. Cee chatted away on my back in her sweet, sing-songy gibberish. I passed her Craisins, songs, and rounds of counting. And she was content.

Our only companions were the falling leaves and dozens of flighty or curious deer. It rained lightly, reviving the bright colors of the leaves, wood, and grass. Even the dirt seemed more vibrant and rich than the last time I had been on this trail a week ago.

As I meandered up the trail, through the tunnel of wild branches, my imagination worked to revive itself from years of neglect. At first I ignored it, reminding myself that I'm a grown adult and reasonable adults don't play pretend. But before long I found that I was frustrated with my decayed sense of fantasy and wondered when I had become so old and boring.

By the time I began the descent back to the bottom of the hill where my minivan full of responsibility, bills, and business waited to carry me off into the stiff sunset of reality and rules, I had cleared enough creative cobwebs to imagine that I was a Nelwyn, traveling alongside Willow, and returning Elora Danan back to the Daikini...

...Or the tenth member of the Fellowship, packing a happy, little, hungry hobbit on my back...

...Or an Indian maiden who had happened upon a lost pioneer baby and was returning her new treasure to her tribe.

(Looks like I still got it. Fist bump to my fellow nerds.)

As we neared the end of the trail, the rain began to thicken and chill. The affability of the mountain was waning. My little hobbit was the first to complain. (Time for second breakfast, eh?) My charming retreat was quickly unraveling, but it had been enough to fill my cup and return me to the world with a renewed sense of purpose and conviction. I wouldn't go so far as to say it satisfied my need for chocolate. Let's not say things we might regret, shall we?

But...there is magic to be found in the mountains. 

And lost pioneer babies.

10 October 2012

Trail Running: There's a First Time for Everything

And we're breathing...
I don't know if it's absurd or profound that I've had to lose myself to find myself.

Translation: As I've lost weight, I've gained a new sense of me.

With the loss of dozens of pounds I suddenly have the confidence and willingness to do things I never would have dared dream of doing before. I was too self-conscious, too afraid, too anxiety-ridden, too fat, too lazy, too incapable. I was blinded to my abilities by all that fat and fear.

I get angry with myself for losing so much precious time--like all of my 20s and even much of my adolescence--by being so dang petrified to just get up, get out, and get moving. There is a big wide wonderful world out there to be explored and I'm finally feeling brave enough to explore it!

This was my Facebook status last Saturday morning: "I've seriously lost it now. I've woken up at 6 am on a Saturday so I can drive half an hour to meet a 'stranger' where we will then proceed to RUN up a mountain in the cold and dark. Bonkers."

I met Heidi on an LDS Runners Facebook group. She has been running for over 5 years and has been so kind to mentor this newbie runner online. The other day she offered to meet up with anyone who wanted to for a trail run. I snagged the opportunity iimmediately and agreed to be there.

Aaaaand then considered canceling about 37 times. The anxiety of doing something new with someone new was overwhelming. Even the morning of the trail run, I found myself concocting some kind of excuse to not show up. So typical of 281.5 pound Evelyn.

"What if I can't keep up? What if it's too hard? What if I hold the group back? What if I get hurt? What if? What if? What if?!?"

Heidi and Ethan and their "Take No Wild Turkey Prisoners" faces
While 281.5 pound Evelyn may still be fiercely whispering doubts, I'm learning to ignore her. I went anyway, and although I got lost on the drive there, I eventually made it. Heidi and her son, Ethan, were wonderful people! They are definitely more in shape than me, but they made no fuss about my heavy breathing or slower pace. I only had to ask to walk one time and I kept up the whole way downhill!

Trail running is fabulous! It's so nice to ditch the hard unforgiving pavement and the sounds and smells of the city for soft cushy dirt, colorful fall leaves, and cheerful bird songs. We covered almost 5 miles round trip and even tackled a 300 foot ascent (talk about a calf workout). We saw deer and lots of wild turkeys. We crunch-crunch-crunched through banks of bright red and orange leaves.

As if the scenery wasn't awesome enough I had the opportunity to meet someone I've admired for awhile as well as pick her runner's brain. I've met several blogging friends "in real life", but this was the first time I've met a running friend. (Does this make me a "real runner" now?) Thank you so much for letting me tag along, Heidi and Ethan! I had a fabulous time and can't wait to do it again!

(Who needs a silly comfort zone anyway?!)

08 October 2012

Weigh-In Wonderings

My weigh-in days have changed to Sundays thanks to the weight loss competition I'm in. I like weighing in on Sunday better than Monday. That way I can make Sunday my "free day" and not be so stressed and guilty about the homemade goodies indulged in on this family day.

I only lost 0.7 pounds this week. I'm not surprised with all the sugar screw-ups I had this week.

Dang that sugar.

Still, that brings my weight loss total to 92.7 pounds lost. Yea!

I have such an internal battle with myself daily...hourly...minutely.

What's so bad about being the weight I am now? I'm a size 12/14. I can shop in the "regular" section of the department store. I'm under 200 pounds. Heck, I'm under 190 pounds for the first time in 9 years. Why couldn't I just say a 93 pound weight loss is good enough?

Some days I'm ready to do just that.

Other days, I'm not.

I'm 5'10" and on a doctor's scale I'm still "overweight" by at least 15 pounds. If I lost 15 pounds I would still be on the very edge of the "good zone".

Pssh! It's only 15 pounds, right? What's the big deal?! That's what I keep asking myself every day.


It's getting so hard to lose weight now. I have to be so very careful about every little thing I put in my mouth. No sugar. No soda. No fun. At least that's what it feels like sometimes.

We're wandering into the holiday season now and I don't want to be so obsessed with weight loss that I can't bake some pumpkin goodies or decorate sugar cookies with my kids. But I don't want to destroy the progress I've made either.

It really is a good thing I'm doing this weight loss competition right now or I would have fallen hard weeks ago. Only problem is it ends a few days before Halloween. Yikes!

I know I write about this all the time, but somehow I've got to find that happy balance. I WANT MY CAKE AND I WANT TO EAT IT TOO, GOSH DANGIT!!!

So maybe I keep going with the weight loss challenge. Then I work to maintain through the holidays, still working out, but not being such a Nazi that I can't relax a little through the holidays. Then pick it back up in January when the fire to succeed is burning brightly.

Sounds like a plan. Until I change my mind again tomorrow.

05 October 2012

Healthy Recipes: Rainbow Pasta

With Forks Over Knives still heavy on my mind I prepared dinner last night. My husband is out of town so there would be no grumbling if I went meatless. But meatless...meatless...How can I do this? While I'm all about the fruits and veggies and making sure they are present nightly at the dinner table, I'm not really sure I know how to cook a balanced meal without meat.

I can cook. I can follow a recipe. But I'm not all that smooth when it comes to thinking outside the box. At least the recipe box. I decided I would give it my best shot and just look what I came up with! Isn't it pretty? So colorful! That's why I decided to call it "Rainbow Pasta".

I'm sure this isn't all that creative in the minds of "real" cooks, but I was impressed. The kids complained a bit about the new dish as they often do with new things, but most of them ate it. No one asked for seconds, but at least they tried it. Me? I loved it! Delicious and less than 300 calories a serving!

Rainbow Pasta (Serves 4)

whole wheat linguine (1/2 package), prepared according to package directions
olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small yellow squash, diced
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
dried basil, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
light Alfredo sauce (1/2 jar)
Italian blend grated cheese

Prepare pasta in boiling water. While pasta is cooking heat olive oil in saute pan. Add garlic and onion. Saute for a few minutes. Add red pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, and asparagus. Sprinkle in basil, salt, and pepper to taste. Saute until tender-crisp.

Drain pasta. Add to vegetables. Gently stir in Alfredo sauce. Serve with grated cheese on top.

You really could adapt this anyway you wanted. Change up the veggies or the spices. Use a different kind of pasta. Add meat if you want meat. So simple!

P.S. My son has a dairy allergy and my daughter has Celiac disease. Instead of making three different meals each night I make adaptions to what I'm already preparing. In this case I boiled up some GF pasta in a separate pan. I set aside sauteed vegetables for Elle's pasta and then added Alfredo sauce to hers separately. For Dee, I took out a serving of combined pasta and veggies before I added the cheese sauce. A little bit of a juggling act, but absolutely doable.

04 October 2012

Weight Loss Competitions WORK!

My weight loss plateaued for several months in between April and September. It seemed no matter how hard I tried, I just could NOT lose any weight. At least permanently. It was so frustrating! I was training for a half marathon for goodness' sake! I could run 10 plus miles at one time but I couldn't lose a single pound?! How does that work?!

With the hope that a little competitive edge could change something for me, I joined a weight loss competition hosted by one of the gals from my Facebook running group. It began on Labor Day and lasts for eight weeks, ending right before Halloween (*sigh of relief*).

Over the course of the eight weeks we do daily tasks, earning points if achieved each day. These are things like "Drink at least 64 oz of water", "Work out for at least 30 minutes" (bonus points for each 15 minutes on top of that), and "Keep a food journal". There are also weekly challenges to do if you're feeling ambitious and want to win bonus points. "Take a daily vitamin", "Try and share one new healthy recipe", and "Eat extra fruits and veggies" are a few examples.

At the end of the eight weeks there will be two different winners. One with the most points and one with the biggest weight loss percentage. To be in the competition you had to pay $25 into the winner's pot. With 30 women participating...that would be a lot of nice, new clothes to fit a nice, healthy body.

I'm not exactly winning so far, especially when it comes to weight loss, but I'm not doing too shabby. I was already doing several of the daily tasks on my own before this competition (look to my "Guidelines" bar on the right) so point-wise I'm actually able to give the group some competition.

For me, the hardest part of the whole thing has been one of the dailies: "No sugar or sweet treats". I thought I had been abstaining pretty well from sugar before the competition, but when I was actually recording it and reporting to a group...not so much. Over the past 4 weeks of the competition, I have lost over 6 pounds, where before...I couldn't lose a single pound. Even though I was "trying so hard". Ha ha!

I know sugar is my biggest weakness when it comes to weight loss. It is a struggle I think I will have for the rest of my life. I am most successful in losing weight and being healthy when I limit myself to having one treat a week. While that may seem extreme to some, it really has taught me what sugar SHOULD BE, and that is an occasional treat and not a daily indulgence. I'm not ready to go cold turkey on sugar, but who knows? Maybe some day I'll gain that much self control. For now, I really enjoy baking a treat with my kids and sharing with the neighbors or relishing a sweet holiday tradition. I don't feel like it's so bad to indulge once in a while.

That being said, I'm a tad terrified for when this weight loss competition is over. And--gulp!--right before Halloween, the sugar holiday of the year! It's hard to have self control when you aren't accountable to anyone but yourself. I'm going to have to dig deep and remember how much better I feel when I'm not partaking all the time. Remind me of that, would you, when I'm whining about gaining some weight back over the holiday season, okay? ;)

One more thing...This week's bonus point challenge was to try a new form of exercise. We were at the library last night looking for a book for Dee's school book report and I took the chance to peruse the workout DVDs. I chose "No More Trouble Zones" by Jillian Michaels.

Honestly, I've been avoiding anything by the good ol' JM. Why? Because she's scary, that's why. Have you seen her on The Biggest Loser? But many of my friends like her, so why not? I'll give her a chance. I was pleasantly surprised. No screaming or yelling or belittling. She didn't try to convince me that I was fat because I had been molested as a kid. Just lots of really tough, but kind of doable circuit training.

Ahhh circuit training. Something else I've been avoiding too. It was hard. But hard is good. That means I needed to do it. I'm realizing just how weak my upper body and abs are. I look forward to having my bum kicked again later this week. Also...I really need to get out of my comfort zone and try some new exercise routines. A gym membership is not in my budget right now, but any other suggestions?

P.S. *whispers* Psst! Psssst! Hey! Since the library is going to need that DVD back, I was considering buying the JM workout until I found it on YouTube just now. And there are lots of others on there too! Free workouts? Woohoo!

03 October 2012

Week Workouts and Thoughts about "Forks Over Knives"

I went on a bike ride today with my littlest in tow in the trailer. Her and her baby and stuffed dog. There really is something to be said for having three kids in school and one 25 pounder at home. It makes getting exercise done a tad easier. We biked around the nearby neighborhoods, up and down hills, for 9 miles. I chilled out mentally to my Priscilla Ahn Pandora station while my thighs and bum buuuuuurrrrned. And if I was being honest--which I generally am, almost to a fault--those areas could use all the burn they can get.

(Workouts so far this week: Monday was an hour of Zumba and a half hour walk after the kids were in bed. Tuesday I got my tired bum out of bed and went for an 4 mile run/1 mile walk before the sun was up. Then P90X Ab Ripper and a few reps of push ups and squats.)

Today my brain is full of thoughts on a movie I watched on Netflix yesterday. "Forks Over Knives", a film promoting a plant-based diet. It really is something for everyone to see whether you are a vegetarian or not. The evidence that eating meat and dairy is directly related to cancer is astounding.

While I don't plan on becoming a full blown vegetarian any time soon--Hey! I like a good juicy steak sometimes too!--I do believe that having a diet full of fruits and vegetables and whole grains can NOT be a bad thing. I have never really struggled to eat my fruits and veggies (Thank you, Mom and Dad!), I've never been all that big on meat, and over the last year I gradually cut most dairy out of my diet on my own. So...I'm already kind of leaning that way.

My seven year old son has been allergic to milk since birth. My husband and I have always fretted that he is not and will not develop properly due to lack of all that "healthy" milk fat. "Milk does a body good", right? According to "Forks Over Knives", Dee may be better off than all of us! If nothing else, I'm grateful to let go of the guilt I've felt since we discovered his dairy allergy. Turns out there is evidence that you can live, and live well, without milk. (yea!)

My husband is not as impressed as I am. The man loves his meat. I think he might be more accepting of one of our children telling us they are homosexual than they want to be a vegetarian. (I HOPE I am joking about that.) He is pretty suspicious about this whole vegan thing and thinks it's just another thing I've concocted up to make him suffer. As if serving fruits and vegetables consistently at the dinner table wasn't enough.

I have no idea what the future will bring for our family, especially with the antagonism I feel from my spouse. Honestly, his opinion needs to be taken into account too. But I do feel we would only be doing good to eat even more fresh fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less processed food, and less meat. (This is something the scriptures have told us anyway!) As the mother and key influencer in my family's life I need to learn how to prepare more vegetarian meals and in such a way that they are appealing to my kids and even my manly meat-eater.

Have you seen "Forks Over Knives"? What are your thoughts?

02 October 2012

K.I.S.S. Weight Loss Style

I got ambitious and finally blogged on my main blog under the premise of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). How can I forget the weight loss blog too? So I've reset my 15 minute timer and what happens...happens.

So much has happened since I last posted in July. I'm sad that I've slacked off on recording my weight loss journey. While this blog has served its initial purpose of getting me started and committed to a healthier lifestyle, I have not served it very well back. Bad Jolly Green Giant.

Noteworthy things:

I ran my first color run (Color Me Rad 5K in Orem, Utah). WAY too much fun! Definitely a race I would recommend to a beginning runner. It's not timed and it's purely about having a good ol' messy time. Next year I want to take my older kids along.

I bought my first pair of REAL running shoes. Very glad I did. They have made a significant difference. Along with the super comfy running socks I splurged on too.

I ran my first half marathon (13.1 miles) September 1, 2012 (Running the Gap, Pocatello, Idaho). What an incredible experience! As soon as it was over I was ready to sign up for the full marathon in 2013...

...which I did on opening day. Fall 2013. 26.2 miles. It WILL happen.

And I'm playing the lottery for the first time. And go figure...It's in the state of Utah. That would be the Ogden Marathon Lottery. Frustrating that this race I've heard so many great things about has moved to a lottery system the year I decided to join in, but I'm feeling lucky. *fingers crossed*

I've started taking my kids on weekly hikes in the SLC valley. This has been more fun than frustrating (and with four little ones ages 7 and under, it CAN be frustrating!). I'm trying to teach my children all sorts of things on these hikes (about plants, about exercise, about eating, about life, about spiritual things, about anything and everything). My hope is one day they will remember a few of the more important things from "those hikes we did with Mom".

At the beginning of September I joined an online weight loss competition hoping to jump start my weight loss back to life. I have struggled to lose any significant weight since April. It seems to be working. Mostly because I'm finally finding some will power to abstain from sugar. This is not an easy task, my friends.

Weight loss as of Sunday, September 31, 2012: 92 pounds!! Getting soooo close to that 100 pound mark!

That's about all the time I have today. Hopefully I will be back to expand on some of the more noteworthy noteworthy things. Until then...Happy Tuesday!!