Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tasty Tuesdays #6 - French Almond Macaroons

With months...er...at least, WEEKS of healthy eating behind me, I felt like making a little treat tonight. This recipe features all the yummy flavour and texture of homemade cookies without all the nasty white sugar, white flour, fat and preservatives. I thought it was okay to post them because they are a healthier alternative to cookies. Besides, everything in moderation, right?

Ingredients round up: ground almonds*, homemade sugar-free strawberry jam, 3 egg whites, sucanat** and 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar.

*Almonds: you can take half a cup of almonds and grind them in the food processor or use 1 cup of the pre-ground variety. Feel free to substitute other nuts. Hazelnuts also work well.

**Sucanat can be found at your local health food store or most better grocery stores. It has a dark, molasses flavour and can be substituted 1:1 for most recipes that call for sugar.

To begin, combine your egg whites and cream of tartar in a deep mixing bowl so that you can whip them on high speed until they form stiff peaks. I used my trusty stand mixer, but you can use a handheld one as well. It should take about 5 minutes of mixing for them to form stiff peaks.

Very quickly fold in your ground almonds and sucanat. Be gentle! You don't want the egg whites to collapse. We're trying to maintain their light, fluffy texture here.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use a tablespoon to scoop out the mixture. Leave about 2" between each macaroon.

Transfer them to a 300-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Watch them closely after the 15min mark. They can burn quickly.

Remove them from the oven when they are firm to the touch and the edges have just started to turn dark brown. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cookie rack to cool for another 10 minutes.

Please note the casualties on the left. Did I mention they can burn quickly? They still taste good. ;)

Time to add the jam! About half a teaspoon should do it. Sandwich them together with jammy goodness...

Love! Each cookie is about 70 calories.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Happiness with a Cherry on Top

Happy Sunday, everyone. Hope you're all enjoying a fantastic weekend. I've been lucky to enjoy some sunny weather with running, dog walking and even a little tennis. I don't usually post on Sundays, but I've been given two blog awards this week that I wanted to share.

First, I have to thank Rae of 5k Rae for the Cherry on Top award:

The Rules:
1. Answer this question: If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you and what would it be?

I know this is a cliche answer, but I wouldn't change a thing. I feel really blessed to be living the life I am and I am thankful for all the wonderful people I've had the pleasure of knowing, the experiences that have shaped me into who I am, and the discoveries I've made about myself and what's important to me along the way.

2. The second thing you have to do is, pick 6 people and give them this award. You then have to inform the person that they have gotten this award.

I have decided to give this award to a few bloggers who have been particularly inspirational to me as I started this little 'project'. In no particular order....
1) Jess at See How She Runs
2) Kyle at Getting Better and Better
3) Fatty Blogsticks
4) Clyde at The Clydesdale Project
5) Ali at The scales say what?!
6) Dawne at It's My Time

3. The third and final thing is, thank the person who gave you the award.
Thank you, thank you, Rae! I first landed on your blog because we share the same name (there are so few of us female Raes!), lo and behold, you have truly inspired me in my running. Thanks again!

Second, I was awarded the Happy 101 award from Joy at Nuggets of Truth:

The Rules:

1. Post who gave you this award

See above! Thanks Joy. Your comments and emails always make my day. You have been very supportive and I really appreciate it.

2. State 10 things you like
1) boston terriers
2) live concerts
3) bubble tea
4) creating things: knitting, quilts, painting, crafts
5) hockey (Go Leafs!)
6) making lists
7) early mornings
8) winter: snowboarding, skiing, skating, warming up by the fire!
9) cheese
10) RUNNING! Yes - I can actually say that with a straight face now. ;)

3. Give this award to 10 other bloggers and notify them with a comment

1) Little Lotta at A Lot of Lotta
2) Juli at Juli's Journey
3) Leah at Obliteration of the Fat Girl
4) Little Fruit Fly in Rainbow Colored Socks
5) Maureen at Mo Sho Runs
6) Lindsay at Thinspiration
7) J at For Real, This Time!
8) Katie at Freaking Awesome Body
9) Syl at Live, Smile, Run
10) Moving Mertle

I'm quite new to the awards thing, so if anyone can tell me how to post them on my blog I would appreciate it. Thanks again!

Friday, August 27, 2010

242.2 (-4.9)

Can you imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale this morning to see a 5 pound loss!? I mean, this is unprecidented! It is also somewhat a surprise because, while my diet has been okay, I've had a few struggles this week on the exercise front. Thank you all for your encouraging comments on my last post. It seems all those debates with my IFC paid off. ;) In fact, I had a FANTASTIC run last night. It felt easy, I was light on my feet, I didn't struggle with the time increase for my intervals and I was actually the "fast" one (usually my running buddy is the lead pace bunny and I'm the tortoise!). I guess it's proof that ups & downs are inevitable....you just have to persevere through them. I'm learning that now.

I have two Challenges to update you on.

First, there is Clyde's iTouch Challenge where I committed to losing 15 pounds by Labour Day. Well, I have lost 10 pounds so far which leaves me with 5 pounds to go before September 6th. Can I do it? YES I CAN!!

Second, I joined the 100 Days Challenge over at Run Courtney Run. I'm really excited to be a part of this challenge because I think it will keep me accountable as the days cool off and I ease into the good ol' Canadian winter. This was a 'build your own goal' challenge and I have committed to:
1. Run at least 3x per week (check!)
2. Strength train at least 2x per week (um....er....nope. More on this later!)
3. Drink my water (check!)
4. Lose 15-25 pounds (5 down!)

So....ahem....about that strength training. Most of you are probably sick of hearing me acknowledge how important it is and how I really should be doing it. I'm all talk and no action, aren't I? The thing is, I have no idea where to start. I'm convinced that I can/should create my own little home program rather than paying for an expensive gym membership BUT I have NO IDEA where to start. I'd really like to focus on my arms one day per week and my core on one day per week. So now what?

Whew...this is a much longer post than I intended. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

I apologize for not creating my regular Tasty Tuesday post this week. To be honest, I haven’t cooked anything blog-worthy in days. I have been cycling through some old recipes and just eating a lot of vegetables and lean protein. Nothing to write home about!

As an aside, I’d like to write about another recent ‘revelation’ in this journey to fitness: it requires getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

One might think that my recent enthusiasm for consistent running and seeing my cardio improve would make me a happy participant in last night’s jog. But no. Instead I found a zillion negative thoughts going through my head as I started out on the run. I only got through my first set of 4min running, 1 min walking before the negative thoughts started to creep in. What it came down to was my inner fat chick wanting to wimp out on the run. My internal dialogue went something like this:

Internal Fat Chick: My legs are tired.
Rae: No sh*t. You’re actually using them.

IFC: I’m so hot!
Rae: Well, of course you are. You are running. Come on...if you really want to be hot you will have to work hard and get this lard off.

IFC: I’m so sweaty. Look at this...dripping!
Rae: Well...duh! When you move your butt, that’s what happens. At least you put on antiperspirant!

IFC: There goes my breathing. I’m gasping for air!
Rae: That’s just your lungs getting stronger. Besides, this is nowhere near as bad as your first run. Remember that!? Ya –you survived!

I’ve decided it’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I had to address every last cop-out and just accept the fact that it isn’t going to be easy to climb out of the inactive lifestyle I’ve been leading for so many years. I had to acknowledge the fact that running isn’t easy and – for me – doesn’t come naturally. I had to ignore the fact my body wanted me to stop. I had to find a way to keep on pushing and get myself comfortable with the idea that this is the new ‘normal’. And you know what? It worked! It felt SOOO good. I not only did I complete my run successfully, I felt fantastic afterwards. Can you imagine if I had quit after that first interval?!

How do you keep yourself going? Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 20, 2010

247.1 (-2.1)

I can't wait to cruise everyone's blog this weekend to find some inspiration. While I had a bit of a loss, this hasn't been a great week for me. I found myself spending more time on my butt than I would've liked and - at the core of it - I just know I could have done better.

The week started off pretty well. My friend and I upped our running spurts to 4 minutes with walk breaks in-between. Our first run went really well and I felt like a rock-star because we even did more intervals that we needed to. The next day, a poor choice in socks left me with a horrible blister afterwards. Ouch. Anyway, things went downhill from there. I haven't run in 3 days. I'm not counting my 7-minute stint on the treadmill last night. :P

It was the same story for food. I demonstrated a fantastic effort for the first half of the week. Then, as things got busy with work, I stopped meal planning and went into scavenger mode. Things got ugly. It culminated in a feast of linguine with pan-seared scallops in a homemade garlic, butter & cream sauce last night. That's what happens when there are no tomatoes or pasta sauce in the house! Oh man....at least Hubs was happy: "YES! We get to have something GOOD for once. Can I make garlic bread!?". ha ha ha

I have to get my mojo back to take me through the weekend. It is going to be full of temptation. Some good friends are hosting a BBQ tomorrow (I'm on salad duty!) and then my mom, sister and niece are coming for a Girls Weekend. I'm going to plan to make meals at home while getting in some activities that will keep us moving (maybe a trip to the zoo with a picnic?).

There are only about 2 weeks left in Clyde's iTouch challenge and I'm 10-pounds from my goal. I'm going to have to be relentless from here on out!!!


Does anyone have any good blister remedies apart from a blister bandaid?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tasty Tuesdays #5 - Stuffed Eggplant

I have to admit, I did a completely improvised recipe for this week's post. I haven't had a chance to buy groceries in over a week and had to find a purpose for some stray vegetables I've been meaning to use up. Behold! The Stuffed Eggplant recipe was born.

I made this up as I went along, so I don't have a nice glamour shot of the ingredients to show you. I used the following: olive oil, 2 medium eggplant, 1 onion, 1 yellow zucchini, 1 green pepper, oregano, tomato sauce, low fat mozzarella cheese, garlic, salt & pepper to taste.

Start by trimming your eggplant. Wash them, cut off the stems and then hollow out each half into a bowl. I found it helpful to run a paring knife along the edge and then scooped the flesh out with a spoon. You'll want to leave about 1/4" around the edges, otherwise your 'bowl' won't be sturdy enough to hold the cheesy goodness that is to come! Chop the eggplant and do the same with any addition vegetables you have on hand. I added zucchini, onion and green pepper.

Heat up 1-2 tsp of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add your vegetables and cook them for about 10 minutes until everything is softened.

Add a good tablespoon or so of minced garlic. If you have more foresight than I did, you can do this before you put the vegetables in!

A few tablespoons of dried oregano give it a nice flavour. Add some salt and pepper at this point, too.

When your vegetables have cooked down, add some tomato sauce. I used the good ole "free pour" technique - probably used about 1 cup. Diced or strained tomatoes would also work well.

It's time to stuff your eggplant. Put them in a lightly oiled baking dish.

This is where things almost went off the rails, but I tried to restrain myself with the amount of cheese added on top!

These cook for about 25 minutes in a 325-degree oven.

The finished product! A great, healthy, vegetable side dish.

This was a hearty pairing with some barbecued chicken breast and cucumber slices.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

249.2 (-3.1) & fifty followers?!

Having a clear and focused goal really helped me stay on plan this week. I'm feeling pretty good about a 3-pound loss. If I can keep losing at this pace I just may meet my goal of losing 15 pounds by Labour Day.

Wait a minute.

Do you know what this means?

I have lost 10% of my original weight. YeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAA- HOOOOO!!!

What's more exciting, I woke up this morning to find I have 50 followers on this little blog. It just made my day. You have all been so supportive and encouraging throughout this process. I'm constantly amazed by all the great advice and the encouragement I've found in BlogLand. I seriously couldn't do this if I didn't have the blog. It's made me extra accountable, pushed me to strive for new challenges and forced me to do a lot more soul searching on how I want to live my life.


Monday, August 9, 2010

say hello to my little friend...

...Little Rae, that is.

Yup. That is a picture of me from about 8 or 9 years ago. I used to be one lean, mean, fitness machine. I was all of 150 pounds and was working out at least 2 hours daily. Hell - I was wearing a spandex outfit!

Can you imagine my surprise when I found this the other day, turned it over, and read the words "10km 56:02 Gag!" written on it. This photo was taken just before I dashed out the door to my first (and only!) official road race. A race that I managed to run in under an hour. I remember being really disappointed in the time, even though I did the run in a snow storm at minus 10-degrees celcius.

What I wouldn't give to be there again!!

I have mixed emotions when I look at this picture now. On one hand, I am filled with hope and optimism. It reminds me what my body is capable of. On the other hand, seeing this picture is like a kick in the teeth.

You see, this is actually an after picture. Around the age of 23, just as I was starting out in my career and moving into my first apartment in the Big City, I recall jumping on the scale and seeing a number I'd never seen before: 200. It freaked me out and sent me into a "healthy lifestyle" frenzy that culminated with this picture.

I use quotes here because, in hindsight, my lifestyle was actually far from healthy. It included working 60-70 hour weeks including weekends, fueling myself only on venti Americanos from Starbucks and punishing myself 2-hours per day in the kickboxing ring. Did I mention I was running 30-40 miles per week and only indulging in the occassional salad on a 1000-1200 calorie per day diet? Some days I wouldn't even eat. :(

Now, I'm at the other end of the spectrum. It struck me: my life has been one of extremes. I am all-or-nothing when it comes to diet and exercise. It's no surprise I couldn't maintain my old regimen for more than a year or so, but I am horrified to think how easy it was for me to just push all that effort to the wayside and.....give up.

The more I think about it, the more obvious it has become: I need balance. I am finally ready to step up and live my life the way I want to. The way I need to.

There are so many questions swimming through my brain right now:
- How does one pack on 10-pounds per year?!
- Why did it take me 10 years to finally wake up and do something about it?
- What was it that led me to each extreme?
- How can I learn from 150-pound me and the 278-pound me to create the best me?
- Exactly how do I achieve this balance that I need?

I don't have the answers right now, but at least I have the right questions. I think. :P

It's amazing that one little picture could trigger all this!

If you're still reading, THANK YOU! This is the first time I've posted a big out-pouring and I'm still getting used to the idea of sharing really personal stories on this blog. Your comments and support mean the world to me as I figure all this out.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

252.3 (-3.2)

I'm back on the scale, folks. Funny thing is, this entire 3-pound loss has happened since I started running with my friend about a week ago. Since meeting up with her I've felt a renewed commitment to my goals and have been very focused on the diet side of the equation.

This is one of those losses that I've been waiting for. 3 pounds in 5 days IS possible. It seems I've only been able to lose 1-2 pounds per week up until now. I know there is nothing wrong with that, but at my weight, I was expecting to have success more quickly - particularly at the beginning.

In order to keep track, I've decided that I need to set myself an ambitious goal. I've decided to jump on the bandwagon with Clyde's iTouch challenge and commit to losing 15 pounds by Labor Day. One month. 15 pounds. Doable?


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Better Together

Last Sunday I ran into a friend I haven't seen in a long time. Lisa and I have been fantastic friends since we met on the first day of university almost 10 years ago. Over the years we've shared so many things: apartments, clothing, secrets, vacations...you get the idea. Lisa is one of those rare friends that just 'gets' me, and one that I have no problem picking up with right where we left off no matter how long we've been separated because of life getting in the way.

Did I mention that we first bonded over our mutual weight loss struggles? Of course, we were far from overweight at that time (and what we wouldn't give to have those 140 lb bodies now!!), but we went through many diets and detoxes in our day - not all of them healthy!

Anyways, like always, we've picked up right where we left off. It turns out Lisa has been trying to shed her post-baby weight and has been thinking about getting back into running.

Music to my ears! Long story short, I've found a running partner! We've already been out three times since Saturday and have committed to three days per week.

I love running with Lisa because...

1. SHE KEEPS ME ACCOUNTABLE We keep our promises and having that accountability has been amazing for me.

2. SHE UNDERSTANDS! We are both at similar fitness levels, so we are well-matched and have a good idea as to what our limits are.

3. SHE IS HILARIOUS which always makes it a FUN outing.

4. SHE STRETCHES and forces me to stretch with her. My muscles are thankful!

5. SHE IS FAST, YO! She is the hare to my tortoise. Definitely encourages me to pick up the pace while I encourage her to do 'just one more' interval. ;)

In addition to all this running, I managed to get in 9 holes of golf walking (45), 18 holes with a cart (101), and did a pretty intensive hike with the dog. I'm going to get back on the scale Friday morning, and I'm hoping all this exercise pays off BIG TIME!

Hope you're having an awesome week!