27 February 2013

slippery slope

So while I was more than happy to let you all know how my trip to Houston and very first 10K went, there is a small, minuscule chance I maybe, kinda, sorta, left out the part where I completely and willingly let "vacation mode" dictate my food choices.

Y'know. Vacation Mode. Where you think Oh, hell, I'm on vacation. I'm going to enjoy myself and not worry about calorie counting or points or any of that silly nonsense.  

Yeah. That.

When it comes to blogging, it would be so easy to lie by omission and make y'all think I'm always on the ball and never skip workouts and always make the right choices when eating out. Or that I spent my entire weekend eating freaking salads or something ridiculous, instead of the plate of cheesy enchiladas and lots and lots of guacamole (it was made table side. How ingenious is that?!).

But that's not the reality. And, frankly, who wants to read about someone who is perfect all the fucking time? Boooooooring. Not only that, but reading about someone's pristine life, no matter the smoke and mirrors, makes you reevaluate your own and, in some cases, feel bad about yourself. That's not very motivating.

What is motivating is knowing that real people make bad choices, too. I knew I was on vacation mode and just sat back and let it happen. Knowing I was going out of town, I spent the few days leading up to the trip being very careful and on point. But then, in the span of about three days, I blew through all of my weekly points and my activity points. I have never done that before. I've never even come close to doing that before. It was so bad that by Sunday I was telling myself Welp, you've come this far and you weigh in tomorrow and can reset so you might as well go all the way and was far off in the dark scary No Tracking Zone and way over on everything.

Believe me, I deserved the number on the scale Monday morning and not even Friday's two mile or Saturday's six mile runs were able to save me. Well, actually, without those runs that number probably would have been much, much higher.

That's me being honest with myself and with you. But if I were being really honest with myself and you, I would admit that it's been going on for the past two weeks.

Since going into maintenance mode, I've gotten sort of, well, lax with my food choices. A big part of it was just the notion that after two years of tracking and watching everything I eat I was finally done. Not with the tracking or the watching, but done trying to lose weight. So I eased up a bit. Gave myself a bit of a break. Saw the six extra daily points that Weight Watchers and the 500 extra calories from MyFitnessPal as reason to, eh, not commit as much. After two years of constantly watching what I was eating, it was, well, nice to take a bit of a mental break and give myself permission to slack just a bit.

Wrong attitude to take, ladies and gents.

If anything, I need to be more committed than ever. The past two years were a sprint compared to the marathon of maintenance mode. This is it. This is life. This is how it is from now on and I can't let vacations or special events or holidays become an excuse to give up the healthy lifestyle I've worked my ass off for. Literally.

The past few days have been me fighting sugar cravings left over from the sugar and high calories consumed over the weekend. Might also explain why I've felt so tired and lethargic as of late: my body is detoxing. All I can do is take a deep breath and push on. As Winston Churchill also said, If you're going through hell, keep going.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

25 February 2013

recap: conocophillips rodeo run 10K

Hey. Hey, guess what? The girl who used to walk the mile in high-school and only started running a year ago has officially completed her first 10K!


Right, so, as y'all know I got into Houston Thursday night. Friday morning my uncle and I went on a short two mile run and my aunt and I had lunch with my grandma. After that we headed to the athletic store to pick up our race packets which included our racing bib and t-shirt (which I totally wore on the plane ride home yesterday) and the usual collection of coupons to local businesses.

We also got our chip, which was a blue strip attached to our shoes (yay! My new Minimus have had their first race!). I'd never seen chips like this and, in fact, the majority of the 5Ks I've run haven't even used chips. But in this case it was needed as there were 15,000 participants in the Rodeo Run (that's combined between the 10K and 5K).

There's no way to have that many runners actually start running at the same time, so my uncle and I were waiting several yards back behind the start line for almost 10 minutes before we even started moving let alone running. Because of this we had two race results: the clock time and the chip time.

Thanks to my Polar FT4 HRM I was not only able to keep track of time and watch my heart rate, but as we passed each mile marker I was able to do some quick math to see if our pace was consistent.

That's a mile average of 13:52 and I met my goal of finishing in under 90 minutes! Of 697 runners in my gender/age group, I came in at 659 (yes, 700 female runners aged 30-34. Seriously, this race was huge). I'm very, very happy with those results! Plus, I now have a time to try and beat during the next 10K.

The route was fairly flat, though there were a few dips along the way but nothing super severe. They also had bands set up along the route which was kind of fun. Mentally it wasn't as bad as I was anticipating. I admit I was worried for the fact that even in all my training I had never run six miles before, although I know that's how most training plans work: you don't actually run the entire distance until the day of the race. I did, though, run it. Well, like 99% of it. My uncle and I ran together the whole time and walked through water stations and walked up two of the small hills, but the rest of it we ran!

Miles 3 to 4 required a bit of work to push through, but once I hit Mile 4, it was Oh, well, there's only two miles left. I can totally handle that. It was cold and overcast as we started out but as the race went on the sun came out and it suddenly got super humid. By the end I was drenched in sweat and managed to catch a slight sunburn. Ooops. Honestly, didn't even occur to me to worry about that.

But at least I'm no longer all pasty Ohio winter white anymore. Not that I'll be able to maintain it, but still.

I spent the rest of the day having to remind myself that I ran a 10K. I RAN A 10K! (It really did work like that, with the caps the second time around). I had a fabulous time and the longer distance really did allow me to find my running groove in the way a 5K can't. For me, and I imagine most people, that first mile out is always the hardest and then after that there's only two miles left and you're done.

My next race is the St. Malachi 5 Miler and my plan this week is to start looking for 10Ks in the Cleveland area!

Have you ever completed a 10K (official race or otherwise)? Do you have a favorite distance to run?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

22 February 2013

hi & hello from houston

Can you believe my first 10K is finally here? Because I sure can't! (And, okay, well, technically the race is tomorrow, but y'know what I mean.) I actually arrived last night after leaving work a few hours early and luckily work is super close to the airport.

Look at all that leg room! Last time I flew was for my 30th birthday to Vegas. I weighed 260. Let me tell ya, flying at 175 is a completely different experience. Not just being comfortable in the seat or pulling the seat belt tighter. I could walk up the airplane aisle with confidence, not concerned my stupid hips would hit accidentally brush somebody. Even just walking through the airport was different. I didn't get winded at all and opted to not use any of the motorized walkways.

I'm staying with my aunt and uncle this weekend and my uncle is racing with me tomorrow, too! This morning he and I went for a short two mile run and I am so looking forward to spring's return to Cleveland. The weather (mid 50s) was gorgeous and should be very similar for tomorrow's race. Today's plan includes lunch with grandma and picking up our race packets. Tomorrow night we're all going out to dinner with my other aunt and uncle and hopefully my cousin.

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

20 February 2013

picture perfect

Yesterday I had every intention of going to the BMV and getting an updated driver's license. Oh yes indeedy, I'm still using my old one, although these days the difference is even more dramatic.

Find me on Instagram: Jill_Grun

Surprisingly, nobody has ever said anything to me about it. Not even the casino. But I'm leaving for Houston on Thursday and am not risking it at the airport. Luckily there is a BMV location right near work and since Monday was a holiday, Tuesday it would be.

That was the plan. Until Monday evening when I suddenly had chills so bad my teeth were chattering and muscles hurt from the spasms. My manager also told me I was burning up and then sent me home. Chills stopped soon after I got home and took a shower, although overnight I had night sweats so bad I completely soaked my sheets. And let me tell ya, that shit ain't comfortable to sleep in once the air hits them and they cool and get that nasty clammy feeling.

Woke up Tuesday sans chills and fever, but with a full appreciation of the phrase "body aches" considering it felt like it was my entire body. So I called off work and stayed in bed with the cats, catching up on shows and sleeping. And thanks to my water bottle from the 2012 CIFF, I also stayed plenty hydrated.

As the day progressed, so did my health. I honestly have no idea what had been going on, but by end of the day it was like I hadn't even been sick and upon waking up this morning I felt infinitely better. Enough that I was up and out the door early enough to get to the BMV when it first opened (rather than going on my dinner break). Walked up to the counter and said "I need a new license because I don't look like this anymore."

And, for the first time in all of the 12 years I've been driving (yes, I didn't start until I was 19), it has my actual weight on it. No more license lying!

After that, I took myself out to breakfast.

Sandwich 10PP + Drink 3PP + Fruit 0PP = 13 Points Plus

Blogging from Panera. Can't get much better than that. At least not when a non-fat, sugar-free vanilla latte is involved.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

18 February 2013

the be your own hero challenge

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's--

Actually it's the launch of my new blog redesign! So if you're reading this in a feed or email, I suggest you click on over to see the full blog (and, hopefully, get the Superman reference). Even my Twitter and Facebook page match the new look. The timing was entirely coincidental, but once I realized that the launch day I wanted would also be my 200th post it seemed downright serendipitous.

Over the years of having various online outlets I've always done my own layout and design and I like to think I did a fairly decent job. This time, though, I had a vision I knew I couldn't do on my own so I reached out to others for assistance. After picking a color scheme (oh the irony, considering this is a healthy living blog), I did the header and sidebar graphics and my good friend Mama Marchand did the HTML, my cousin volunteered her photography skills for a new profile and "after" picture, but the biggest and most exciting part was hiring illustrator Meghan Murphy to design a blog mascot. I told her I wanted a nerdy fitness superhero and good goddess did she deliver.

I love that Meghan added the phoenix onto her shirt. Made her a full-fledged superhero instead of just a girl in a cape.

The Be Your Own Hero concept goes back to my two year healthy living anniversary post and as soon as I typed those words I knew it would make the perfect tagline for this redesign. I also knew it would make the perfect theme for my DietBet challenge, which starts March 1st.

Have you guys heard of DietBet? It's essentially an online weight loss competition where you pay a small fee to play, essentially betting that you'll lose the require amount to win, which is 4% of your starting weight and you have four weeks to do it. (DietBet verifies your starting weight with pictures you send to them and if you are one of the winners they verify it at the end the same way.) Once your starting weight is verified you can update it as often you'd like on the website. Some people do it daily, though I opt for once a week. The in-progress weigh-ins are unverified, so at first it was a little startling to see people at their goal within, like, five days, but that's the beauty of DietBet: unlike those Biggest Loser type contests I've done at work, this isn't winner take all. As long as you lose your 4%, you split the pot with the other winners. So it doesn't really matter when the other people reach the goal, my only real competition is myself. There's also a social aspect to the game where you can post what you've eaten, exercises you've done, if you have questions, etc. It's a fun way to meet new people and get support.

I signed up for my first DietBet challenge at the beginning of January and soon after signed up for another one, so when DietBet contacted me about hosting my own challenge I jumped at the chance. I set the bet amount at $20 and the more players that sign up, the bigger the pot that gets split among the winners! (Full blogger disclosure: As host of the game, I get 10% of the pot.)

Like I said, DietBet isn't a challenge between you and the other players, it's about a challenge between you and yourself. It's about stepping up and being your own hero. And even if you don't hit your 4% in 4 weeks goal (I didn't for the first challenge I joined), it doesn't really matter because if nothing else you spent four weeks making healthy changes to your lifestyle that, hopefully, will continue after the game is over.

So go sign up and remember that the more players, the bigger the pot so encourage your friends and family members to sign up, too!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

15 February 2013

head v. heart

I've been on maintenance mode for four or five days now and, let me tell you, it's really fucking weird.

For starters, I get to eat more food now. Weight Watchers ups your daily points by 6 and I still have my 49 weekly points and My Fitness Pal gave me, like, an additional 500 or so calories a day. That. Is. Insane. I understand the logic behind it: you restrict calories when you are trying to lose weight, so it makes sense that in order to maintain you have to increase your daily intake, but still.

Like, okay, so Wednesday is Free Pie Day at Bakers Square. We have a location near work and last week some coworkers went but I wasn't able to join them. We also were all given $5 Gift Cards and so this week I was determined to go. Ate my regular size breakfast and lunch, scoped out the menu beforehand, and not only was I able to fit breakfast-for-dinner into my day but an entire slice of No Sugar Added Cherry Pie.

Not only was I still under my calorie total, but I only had to use two Weekly Points.


It's going to be interesting to see what the scale says on Monday. Maintenance Mode is a whole different beast and part of it is going to be finding the right balance of activity and food to stay where I want to be, give or take two pounds in either direction. Which is another mental obstacle. Just the basic idea that I'm done trying to lose weight is so bizarre.

Of course, even though I know I'm finished and happy with where I am, I still sometimes slip back into Fat Girl Mode.

Throughout this whole journey I have always struggled with accepting my smaller size. This is equally, if not especially  true now that I've found where I want to be for the rest of my life. My head is well aware of my weight and dress size and how many miles I run and all the logic and measurable parts of the past two years. My heart, however, sometimes has trouble jumping on the bandwagon. Think about it: I referred to it as reaching "maintenance mode" instead of reaching "goal weight." For some reason, part of me is still adjusting to the idea that after spending pretty much my entire life struggling with my weight, this is it.

Like shopping. Before, I'd buy things and never knew how long they would stay in my closet. Not just over the past two years, but back at my heaviest, too. Now, though, I can buy a piece of clothing and know that I can still be wearing it next year. I've never had that happen before. I'd buy clothing without really thinking long-term about it and would most often not buy the things I really loved because I didn't want to have to part with it a few weeks later. I'd be more concerned with price than anything else, so the idea of being able to invest in a wardrobe and really find my sense of style is going to be fun and, well, interesting to say the least.

At the same time, though, when I do go shopping I sometimes still find myself reaching for larger sizes. At Target yesterday I had to force myself to pull things that were size M instead of L or XL, and even walking into the dressing room I told myself I might be trying to hard with the Mediums, but, nope, every single piece fit flawlessly.

Thing is, even knowing all of that and trying on clothes and really seeing the changes in my body, I still have a hard time sincerely understanding that this is who I am now. This new body is my body and I worked hard for it, but sometimes I still view the world through the eyes of that insecure girl rather than the cool, confident woman I am now. And I am confident. And happy. And fierce and fabulous. And my head knows all of that down to my very bones. It's just taking my heart a little while to catch up.

Psssst. This is my 199th post! Monday will be 200 and there's some exciting stuff lined up, including the unveiling of my new blog redesign! Oh, and of course thank you to my dear friend and fellow yogi John for telling me the statement up above at a time when I really needed to hear it. 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

13 February 2013

What I Love Wednesday: Gwynnie Bee

Y'all know I love me some fabulous fashion but prefer finding a sense of style on the more economical side. Two of my favorite bloggers, Skinny Emmie and Fit and Free with Emily are both huge supporters of Gwynnie Bee and after reading their posts for months, I finally decided to sign up for a trial period.

Gwynnie Bee, you see, is the Netflix of clothes. You look through their gallery of dresses, skirts, blouses, etc., (it's all very work appropriate, but also perfect day-to-night wear) and build a closet/queue of pieces you'd like to try. Like Netflix there are different paying tiers which determines how many clothes you are allowed to have at once, with the plans starting at $35/month (one garment at a time) and going up to $159/month (10 garments at a time). While it might seem like a lot, for roughly the same price you'd potentially spend on a single garment, you get several pieces to try out! There is no time limit on how long you can keep an item and once you mail them back, they mail new pieces out to you.

For my first shipment I got two dresses and one blouse. I am seriously in love with the blouse and may take advantage of the fact that Gwynnie Bee allows you to purchase items you've found through them.

Isn't the neckline just fabulous?! It's super cute and comfy and the ruching very slimming. I wore it on Tuesday for Mardi Gras and the teal accessories (including cute earrings from Mama Marchand) were perfect. It's so versatile  I wore it with grey pants, as you can see, but it would be also perfect with my black skirt or even jeans!

One of the other pieces I received was this super cute black and white tunic style dress.

Awkward smile is awkward

Friday night I paired this with black tights and black pumps, but today it's leggings and ballet flats. As you can see, with this print you don't really need a lot of accessories but I went with big chunky blue earrings. I wore it for a Girl's Night and as I was walking into the restaurant an older gentleman told me I looked lovely.

Why thank you very much, stranger riding his bike through the snowy streets of Cleveland.

Each garment comes with a comment card that you fill out, asking questions like how it fits at various points (arms, neckline, waist and hips) and your overall impressions: is it sophisticated, boxy, trendy, comfortable, how's the material, etc. Then there's a space to write actual comments.

For my trial period I'm on the $79/three garments at a time, but if I decide to continue the service I will probably bump it down a tier or two. Just because I can't quite squeeze/justify that into my budget. But if you're looking for a fun way to spice up your wardrobe for a bit, I definitely recommend signing up for a free trial just to give the service a try.

Thank you so much for all of your words and support regarding my decision to stay at 175. Even after writing all of that I was worried people would think I was copping out, but the exact opposite was true! 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

11 February 2013

why I'm going into maintenance mode

When I started out on this journey way back in January of 2011, I picked a final goal weight of 175. It really was like picking a number out of a hat. Never having been this small before in my adult life (and, let's face it, the body of an 8th grader can't be compared to that of 31 year old woman), I had no idea what I would look like at 175, let alone anything smaller, and it was a nice solid number that sounded maintainable while also allowing me to keep my oh-so-fabulous curves.

Along the way, though, I started to wonder if I was selling myself short so I lowered that number to 160. Then you have to consider that both Weight Watchers and the BMI Chart have 150 as the high end of my ideal weight (with 120 at the low end). At first I thought there was no way in hell I'd get down to 150. Ever. That's, like, half my starting weight. Half myself. How does one even begin to process that? But as I've continued along this journey, the more feasible 150 became. At least it became physically possible, if not mentally.

Saturday night I went out with my friend Lauren and while discussing my weight loss, she said that was something that had never really occurred to her: that at some point I have to stop. I've had other people make similar comments to me, too. When you start out at 311 pounds, the end seems so far off that losing weight is all you can think about. Eventually, though, you really do have to find a stopping point.

Today I stepped on the scale and saw 175.2. Not only is that a total of 135.8 lbs lost, it puts me at just about where my original goal weight was. Knowing this day was coming sooner rather than later, I've spent the past few weeks deciding where I would go from here. Yesterday's run through cold Cleveland solidified the choice for me (it's true: running really is cheaper than therapy). Because the more I consider it, the more I think my original instincts were correct.

I am comfortable at this weight. Comfortable, not complacent. There is a difference. If I ultimately choose to stay where I am right now I don't think I would be settling or coming from a place of  fear.  I run and practice yoga. I have a healthy relationship with food and a healthy relationship with myself. I look in the mirror and I like what I see. I'm rocking a killer figure and look healthy. I also look at my face and know that if I lose too much more weight I'd potentially get into that scary, unhealthy, gaunt looking space.

I guess I look at it like this: Maybe I could stand to lose a couple more pounds, but I do not need to lose the recommended 25 that WW and the BMI tells me to (also, I probably have at least 10 lbs of loose skin hanging around so if I ever get it surgically removed it'll probably put me where I need to be). Fact is, I firmly believe that it is possible to be too skinny, even if you're within your "ideal" range (remember when Star Jones first lost all her weight?) The BMI is antiquated and doesn't take bone frame into account. Some people have a body type that allows them to be thin and it looks good on them. I am not one of those people.

Plus: I like being curvy. I like having a body with a lil oomph. And good goddess am I sashaying with quite the hourglass these days. Ms. Monroe would be proud.

I'm happy and healthy at this weight and that is more important than any number. Yes, I'm still wearing double digit sizes, but a 12 is a far, far cry from the 28 I started at. And, yes, I'll still be considered overweight but it's much better than the morbidly obese I was two years ago.

I confess that when I first came to this decision I was worried that people would be disappointed in me. I started out and was going strong and there is this weird sense of obligation to all the friends and family members who have supported me to push through and go all the way. But then I realized how utterly ridiculous that was because I've already done amazing things and they are happy for me where I am and I need to be happy for me, too. Plus, hello, it ultimately is my choice. Remember, you have to be your own hero and find your own comfort zone and make the decisions for yourself and nobody else.

So this morning, after weighing in, I changed both my Weight Watchers and MyFitnessPal profiles to maintenance mode. I honestly don't know if this is the end. This is a lifelong journey and maybe down the road I'll choose to try and lose the rest of it.What I do know is that I move through life now with real, sincere confidence not just the bravado I faked for so many decades and that means more to me than anything the scale says.

Whether I'm 175 today or 150 a year from now or 120 ten years from now, I've never let The Number define me in the past so I sure as hell am not going to start now.

How did you ultimately decide on your own personal "ideal" weight? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

08 February 2013

100 days soda free

About two months ago I talked about how much I love the Streaks app and that it's great tool that keeps me motivated and on point with certain daily tasks, like not drinking soda.

Speaking of....

I used to drink bottles and bottles of the stuff. Diet Dr. Pepper was always my favorite (and always diet, no matter what other soda I opted for. Of course believing if it was diet it was someone better for me than the regular stuff. Yeah. Not so much) and while often I could go days without drinking it, once I got started it was a bit out of control. Growing up, my mom's Diet Coke was off limits to my sister and I, but mom had a habit of only drinking half a can and putting it back in the fridge for later. In what we considered a daring act of rebellion, Sissy and I would sneak sips when mom wasn't looking.

(Sorry mom.)

But look! Triple digits! Oh yeah, baby. Today is my 100th day being soda free. When I started keeping track, I didn't think I'd last a week let alone this long. Just shows what happens when you set your mind to something and commit. And, honestly, at this point I can't imagine going back to drinking it. I certainly don't miss it and would probably consider it much too sweet and sugary if I tried. Nah, I'm good with ol' H2O.

Also realized that two weeks from today I'll be in Houston, Texas picking up my race packet for the Rodeo Run! I can't believe my first 10K is just around the corner. Hell, I can't believe I'll be running in a 10K. It seriously boggles my mind. Like, I only started running just about a year ago. Great balls of fire indeed.

The training is going well, although I'm still working on being mentally prepared for it. I think Liz made an interesting point in her comment the other day, how her dad runs and he says the 10K is the hardest for him because he expects he should be able to run it like a 5K, whereas with a half or full marathon he gives himself permission to walk if needed. I think that's a big part of it and something I had considered, too, the idea that I know I have it in me to run the entire 6.2 miles versus just being okay with finishing.

Thing is, though, just finishing a 10K is an accomplishment all by itself. Sure, you should always strive for the best and not settle, but it wasn't settling when I embraced last place at my very first 5K. It was giving myself a well-earned pat on the back for a job well done. It was something I had never tried before and just going out there and crossing that finish line deserves recognition, just as this 10K will. Instead of being worried or afraid or stressing myself out, I need to just go out there and have fun and remember that my reasons for why I love running have nothing to do with time or race recognition or any of that superfluous jazz.

Anyone else give up soda? How long have you gone without?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

06 February 2013

homemade pizza hot pocket

One thing I love best about Weight Watchers is the flexibility: I don't have to give any of my favorite foods up, I just have to figure out a way to make them fit into my daily and weekly points plan. Every once in awhile I will go for the real deal, like that one time I pretty much hoarded all of my points for popcorn at the film festival. Those plans always sound good in theory, but never in practice. Especially now that I know the Quaker Oats cheddar cheese popped rice snacks taste strikingly similar to buttered popcorn.

Another time I, well, starved myself for a piece of pizza. Again, sounded good at the time but in the end, eh, not really worth it. So now, when I get that pizza craving I try and get creative. Like with the English Muffin pizzas my mom used to make. A few weeks ago, though, I decided to try something different and came up with my own pizza hot pocket!

What you'll need: Pita Pocket, Tomato/Spaghetti Sauce, and whatever fixins you want. The "toppings" for your pizza pocket are the fun part because it's completely up to you! Maybe you like shrooms and olives on your pizza or wanna throw some pepperoni slices on there. Sky's the limit.

I went with Prego's Fresh Mushroom sauce, the Italian Herb pocket thins pita, and for toppings mini sweet peppers (like baby bell peppers) and one light string cheese stick.

Open the pocket and put some sauce on one side of the pita pocket. I used 2 T. but use as much or as little as you want. Next comes your toppings. As you can see, I really do treat this like a real pizza: sauce, cheese, then my chopped up bell peppers in that order.

Once you have all of your fillers in there, put the pocket your machine of choice. I used my good ol' George Foreman, but a panini press or even a waffle iron would probably work. If nothing else, just treat it like a grilled cheese sandwich and use a skillet, flipping it when the one side is done.

This particular pizza pocket was just under 200 calories and 4 Weight Watchers Points Plus. Obviously your own creation may change depending on what toppings you use and how much sauce or cheese, etc. Either way, it's most likely going to come in way under a regular ol' slice of pizza, but you'll still get that warm sauce, melted cheese, and favorite toppings. Plus you get total control over how much of everything you want AND you know exactly what's going into it.

What I love best about this is all of the variations available. If you're feeding family or friends, each pizza pocket can be up to the individual so everyone gets exactly what they like (instead of trying to decide one type of pizza that will satisfy everyone). It would even be a fun spin on a Taco Bar if you set out all of the options in little bowls and each person gets to make their own!

What are some of your ways of adapting a favorite food into something a little more waist line friendly?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

04 February 2013

running in the face of fear

Today I'm about halfway through the six week training for my first 10K at the end of the month. With the program I'm using, I run four times a week and cross-train three times a week: yoga on Saturdays and kettle bells the other two days. Rest days are built in, but they are optional and you can either rest or cross-train. I've become so enamored with the kettlebells that I usually opt to cross-train on those days, although this past Thursday was one of those days and after the stressful week I had had I decided to skip the morning workout and sleep in. That evening, though, I was so.over.the.week  I came home early and while I wanted to watch Pawn Stars and eat a gallon of ice cream, I instead watched Pawn Stars and used my kettlebells.

Endorphins always trump excessive calories. I mean, I don't have to feel guilty about binging on reality television. (Ridiculous, maybe, but not guilty.)

While recently discussing my training and the fact that I feel physically prepared to run a 10K, I was asked if I also feel mentally prepared.

Ah. There it is. The $64,000 question.

See, while I have no problems at all imagining myself completing a half-marathon and running 13.1 miles, the idea of running a mere 6.2 causes a strange mental block. I second guess my endurance and strength and ability to finish. Which doesn't even make any sense. 13 miles seems easy but 6 insurmountable and, frankly, pretty scary. I mean, what?!

Of course I am well aware this is a comfort zone thing. I'm comfortable running 5Ks and know I can complete one without trouble. Like so much else in life, it would be easy and preferable to stay in my comfort zone. To continue to run just 5Ks because there is no fear involved. A half-marathon is so completely and totally outside my realm of understanding it's impossible to not think I can do it. Look at everything else I've accomplished over the past two years, what's thirteen miles in the grand scheme of 130 pounds? Easy peasy.

But 6.2 miles? 6.2 miles are possible. They are realistic and achievable. A year ago, when I first started running, I wouldn't have thought so but look at where I am now. Completing this 10K just opens a whole new set of doors. This isn't about a fear of failure but a fear of success: as long as I stay at my comfort level I never have to continue to step up and challenge myself. I don't have to put it all on the line and find out what I'm really made of.

It's easy to give into the fear and let it paralyze you. It's safe to shy away from the great unknown, be it running a 10K or even hitting goal weight. It happens everyday in all aspects of our lives. We continue to make the same choices, walk the same path, because we know what's coming. We are prepared and things are predictable  And if things are predictable there is no need to worry our pretty little heads about what's at stake.

Because when it comes to health and happiness, love and life, everything is at stake.

There will always be risks. There will always be missteps, mistakes, and obstacles. There will always be bad decisions and poor choices. Some you'll win, some you'll lose, and some you'll really lose. But that's how we learn. That's how we face new challenges. How we better ourselves and, hopefully, better the people around us.

It's how we find the courage to dig deep and grab our inner lions by the mane and roar the fuck out of this world.

It's a scary, scary world out there. This I know. I spent years eating that fear. Literally. Trapped inside a 311 pound body, I put on the brave face, walked with the false bravado of a sassy fat girl, terrified that someone would find out that in reality I was cowering and trembling inside. It's been a long, very long, process to silence the cowering girl in the corner. It's an ongoing process, too, that requires patience both  from myself and the people around me. I'm not sure it will ever be over, but maybe that's a good thing. I don't want to get comfortable or complacent. And the only thing that will keep that motivation going is my internal refusal to settle down in my comfort zone and to constantly challenge myself to new heights.

The other week I told you that you needed to be your own hero. Well, you'll never know how high you can fly until you take a running leap off the building. Oh, sure, you may crash and burn but then you just stand up, brush off your cape, and try again.

The caterpillar feels safe in its cocoon, sheltered from the outside. In there, it doesn't have to worry about how much life will change. But just imagine how much beauty would be missing from the world if it decided to stay there instead of taking the chance to break free and transform into the butterfly.

Anyone else have this experience where the bigger goal seems much more achievable than the smaller one? How do you handle the fear?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

01 February 2013

how to survive valentine's day

Oh, Valentine's Day. You are, like, a dieter's worst nightmare. Sure, Halloween and Thanksgiving have their challenges, but this is a holiday built around candy and fancy (ie: indulgent) dinners. But have no fear, dear readers! It's the first day of February and Lady Lazarus is here to save your day and your sweet tooth.

Nix the Candy
Be honest: does your sweetheart really need to give you a big ol' box of chocolates to prove their love to you? (If you said yes, you're doing it wrong.) Flowers are nice but last a week at most and teddy bears a bit juvenile, so if you're stuck for a non-sugar gift idea, go old school: write a poem. Paint a picture. My dad always writes my mom the cutest notes in his various holiday cards to her (yes, I peek). If all else fails, any of the items on my Healthy Holiday Gift Guide could also work for Valentine's Day.

Go In With a Plan
If you can't completely give up the chocolate (and, really, who can?) decide how much or how many pieces you can fit into your diet and stick to it. A friend recently asked me how I manage to balance alcohol with my healthy lifestyle and I said it's all a manner of planning and following through. I figure out how many drinks I will have (usually only one) and what kind of drink and once I've had that one drink, that's it. No more. Any other kind of indulgence, like candy or dessert, works the same way. A couple Hershey Kisses aren't gonna kill you or completely wreck you diet. The trouble comes when you mindlessly eat (meaning you have no clue how many you actually had) and then you don't track. Back at my holiday work party, I might have eaten way over what I planned to (see, sometimes we all can plan and still slip up), but I tracked every single one of those stupid mini eclairs so at the end of the night I knew exactly where I stood.

Yes, it might be a wee bit embarrassing to have to track all the chocolate or treats you probably shouldn't have had, but the only person who is going to see your tracker or has to know is you. So just face the music, let it go, and move on.

Get Creative 
Take advantage of the great outdoors by having an activity-based date! Bundle up and go skiing or sledding or just take a walk. If you have any colleges local to you, see if they have a skating rink that offers ice skating. A package for dance lessons, like salsa or ballroom, is not only a great way to burn calories but will also help you as a couple establish a regular date night. And, of course, being the most romantic day of the year, you can never go wrong with a good ol' fashioned roll in the hay to get all hot and sweaty (yes, I went there).

Cook Together at Home
There's no rule that you have to go out to a restaurant for Valentine's Day. In fact, cooking a meal together in your own home can be super fun and romantic. You can even make an afternoon of it: go grocery shopping together for ingredients, pick out a bottle of wine you both like, when you get home put on some background music for ambiance, and get cooking! Not only will you have had a lovely time with your significant other, but you'll have a healthy and delicious meal, and because you bought the ingredients and cooked it yourself you'll know exactly what you're eating so there's no guesswork involved.

Do Your Research
Many restaurants post their nutrition information online, so if you are going out to eat and have access to that info, take a look at it before you head out for the night. I'll even make a list of a few different options with calorie count/Weight Watchers points so that when I get to the restaurant I can decide based on what I'm hungry for, if I did any exercise, how many points I have to play with, etc. If the restaurant you're going to doesn't provide that information, ask them. Seriously. After looking over a menu online, I've emailed restaurants before to get the nutritional info on a particular entree that sounded good. It might take them a few days to get back to you, so give yourself plenty of time.

Split It Up
Consider splitting an entree with your date. Restaurant portions are notoriously huge and way more than you really need: a standard dinner at a restaurant is, really, like two or three servings so save money and your waist line by getting one dinner to share between the two of you. If you both want two different things, then ask for a to-go box right away and put half of your meal in the box so you won't even think about eating it and take it home for lunch tomorrow.

Pick Your Battles
Bread brought to the table. Appetizer before dinner. Wine with the meal. Dessert when you're done. Bet you never realized how many decisions an average dinner out requires, huh? You don't have to say yes to everything but you also don't have to say no to everything either. It's more a question of what is worth the points and/or calories. Maybe skip the bread and have dessert. Or skip both and go for an extra glass of wine. Find that happy balance about what indulges you do want and which ones can be passed on.

What are some of your tips for getting through Valentine's Day without overindulging? 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus
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