Category Archives: Thoughts

What Defines You?

I’ve had a blog idea rolling around in my head for the last few days regarding pride and what defines you. I was listening to the finale episode of Two Gomers Run a Marathon, and a listener asked something along the lines of “did the race itself change your life?”, which sparked a huge discussion about the moments in life that you are most proud of, or define who you are as a person.

This has made me think recently about my life and the things in my life that I am the most proud of and have made me who I am today.

1. Number One of course is being a Mom, and the moment I became a mom was obviously the proudest moment in my life.

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I just realized I have some crazy graphic pictures from my c-section! I’ll spare you those.

2. My 2nd proudest moment and another thing that hugely defines who I am is graduating from nursing school and passing my RN certification exam.  I’ve been a Labor and Delivery nurse for over 6 years now, and have been a charge nurse for 3 years because of the hard work and dedication I put in to continuing my education.  I had to make a lot of sacrifices during this time in my life, but it was definitely worth it.

Number 3 & Number 4 were a real toss up, its hard to pick which one is more important or which has had more of an impact on my life.

3. Losing 115 lbs has obviously greatly changed my life and has a lot of influence on the type of person I am today. I don’t often think about the process anymore because its all become part of my normal everyday routine, but when I think back about the person I used to be at 260 pounds it makes me so proud to have been able to overcome that. At some point that girl had to make a choice … a big choice, and then a lot of little small choices along the way.

This was another topic the Gomers talked about, how they made choices, a big one (to do the marathon). And alot of small choice along the way (to keep working at it every day).

I think in my experience the small choices have definitely been more challenging than the big choice. Without overcoming the small obstacles I would have never been able to meet the big goal.

4. Quitting Smoking – I rarely, if ever, talk about the fact that I used to be a smoker on the blog because its so far fetched from who I am now. But I smoked (regularly, like a pack a day or more) for 8 years from the time I was 18 years old until I quit for good in March 2009. I can remember a time when I would lay down at night and cough myself to sleep, I couldn’t laugh hard without stirring up a coughing fit, and I could not see myself really ever quitting.  I kicked the habit when I found out I was pregnant, and although it was hard I knew there were a greater purpose. Unfortunately a few month after Lincoln was born and I went back to work, I started smoking again. I finally decided to stop because I knew that I wanted to set a good example to him and I didn’t want to leave him motherless because I was so selfish. These thoughts had been weighing on me for a while. I’m so proud that I was able to stop. Its definitely allowed me to live a more fulfilling, wealthy and healthy life.

5. Running – Running has improved my life greatly in many ways. I met wonderful friends, had alot of fun, had some very proud moments because of running. I won’t go into all of the reasons I love running, but becoming a runner is definitely one of the things in life that I’m proud of and greatly defines me.

One of my proudest running moments:

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Coming across the finish line at my first Half Marathon this past January.

And nearing the finish line at my 2nd Half Marathon in February (at mile 12):

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The pictures made me so proud not because of finishing the race, but because of how far I’ve come in my life as a whole.

6. Being a “ethical eater” – I won’t say being a vegetarian, because that’s not really what I’m proud of, nor does it define who I am. What I am proud of though is the fact that I am a free thinker and I’m not just a follower. I use my free thought to choose what I eat. I consider where my food comes from, what it does for my body and the impact it has on the world. I’m not a perfect eater by any means. I’ll talked plenty on the blog about my eating disorder, but I am proud that I can be selfless and thoughtful enough to consider other aspects in eating than just taste.

See Caitlin’s blog about Ethical Eating. It definitely sums up exactly my stance on food and eating. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Anyway, these are some of my proudest moments and some of the things that have led me to be the person I am today.

What are yours?

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Filed under Half Marathon, pictures, responsible eating, Running, Thoughts

Too Many To Count

Haven’t been around much lately. Had a crazy day on Wednesday and some chest pain that eventually sent me to the hospital. Long story short I ended up finding out that I have “too many gallstones to count”.

I have an appointment on Monday with a General Surgeon to find out where to go from here. I desperately don’t want to have to have surgery, but I don’t want to end up making myself really sick if I don’t have the surgery. I just want to do what’s right, but I don’t know what that is.

I’m really frustrated, angry and a little depressed right now. I’m worried about how much work I will have to miss if I do have surgery. I am a “limited benefits” employee which basically means that I get paid more per hour, but I don’t have paid time off or sick leave. When I don’t work I don’t get paid.

I’m worried that I will have to take a significant amount of time off from running and other exercise and I’m afraid what that will do to me physically and mentally. I think I’m worried that if I get out of the habit of exercising for two weeks or more I won’t ever get back in to it and I’ll end up back where I was at 260 lbs. I truly know, (hopefully!) that I would never let that happen, but it is a concern.

I’m afraid that if I do end up having my gallbladder taken out that I’m going to live my life with chronic diarrhea. I know several friends that say they would have never had the surgery if they knew then what they know now and that scares me.

I just have a lot on my mind right now.

I’ve been the last few days trying to rest and recuperate from my day in the hospital. I’m feeling much better now and went back to work right now. In the meantime I’m trying to get in as many good runs as possible because I feel like my time might be limited.

Will update more after Monday’s appointment.

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Filed under Medical Issues, Thoughts

When “Vegetables” Aren’t Vegetarian

Is it unreasonable to expect that something that appears to be vegetarian to actually be vegetarian? or to at least say “non-vegetarian”, or do I seriously have to read the entire ingredient list of everything I buy? Why does meat have to be used as “flavoring”? And what do you do when you accidently buy something and later realize it isn’t vegetarian after all?

I realize the burden is mine and not the food company’s to ensure that I’m eating the foods that I want to be eating and not eating the ones I don’t, but sometimes things can get kinda tricky.

Some things I know to expect meat products in that otherwise may seem to be vegetarian, like vegetable soups for example. I know that for whatever reason vegetable soups are usually made with a base of chicken stock, or sometimes beef stock. Actually Progresso puts on their labels at the top “vegetarian” or “non-vegetarian”. I can appreciate that. But there are a few things that I have bought recently that I apparently didn’t read the label well enough and found out that what I thought was vegetarian actually wasn’t.

This one is probably my own fault, but as a new vegetarian I don’t know all of the places to find hidden animal products like someone who has been vegetarian their whole lives. Apparently beans are a very common place to find animal products, and now I know.

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I’ve been buying these to make quick taco salads with on occasion. Nowhere on the front of the label does it suggest that this product may contain meat. And the nutrition label is located in very small writing on the side of the box, not even on the back. Last night as I pulled a couple of these out of the freezer to make a quick meal I finally read the box thoroughly.

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Can you spot it? Chicken stock and rendered chicken fat. Not that the company intended to hide it. I obviously just didn’t read well enough. Still … what a disappointment. So for someone in my position, what do you do in this situation when you have already purchased something? I also ate one of these a couple weeks ago before I inspected the label closely enough. Do you chalk it up to an “honest mistake” and eat it but don’t buy it again, or what?

What I’ll probably end up doing is giving it away to a family member. But for me the biggest thing about being a vegetarian isn’t actually eating the meat as it is buying the meat. As Michael Pollan suggests, I want to “vote with my dollars”. Those dollars have been voted with now, whether I actually eat it or not. It all comes back to Supply vs. Demand.

Here is another example that actually pisses me off worse than the previous one: Yesterday I went to Fresh Market (our version of somewhere like Whole Foods) and bought a couple of these Smoked Eggplant Empanadas from the deli.

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Sounds safe right? Well the ingredient list prints out on the label after you pick out your item and the cashier rings it up for you.

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This one is much harder to find, down towards the bottom it says that the margarine contains beef fat. Since when is margarine made with beef fat? Isn’t margarine suppose to be made from vegetable oils?

I’m not trying to be psychotic about this, but I think its reasonable to expect that something that gives the impression of being vegetarian actually be vegetarian, or atleast be labeled accordingly.

I won’t even get into cooking vegetables in stock or adding ham hock and bacon to veggies. Ugh!

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Filed under Food, pictures, Thoughts, vegetarian

The Veggaletta

Today started off with a pretty decent treadmill run. The treadmill is going to be a permanent fixture in my life it seems with the 100 degree weather that we are having lately. I intended to run my usual 5 miles, but somehow I ended up getting started later than I planned and I started getting really hungry. I decided to call it a day at 4 miles, nothing to be ashamed of.

I ran 4 miles in 31:56. I threw in some pretty serious intervals of 8 mph x 1 minutes, then 7.5 mph x1 min, then 2 minutes of each. All in all it was a good workout!

The Hubby has been raving about Jason’s Deli’s new Veggaletta (vegetable muffuletta) for over a week now, so I decided to appease him for lunch today and see what it was all about. I would assume that everyone knows what a muffuletta is, but perhaps not.

The muffuletta is a type of round Sicilian sesame bread, as well as a submarine-style sandwich made with that bread that originated from New Orleans, Louisiana. A traditional muffuletta consists of one muffuletta loaf, split horizontally. The loaf is then covered with a marinated olive salad, then layers of capicola, salami, mortadella, emmentaler, and provolone. The sandwich is sometimes heated through to soften the provolone. The size of the muffuletta is enough to feed more than one person, and many stores sell quarter or half-muffulettas.

A traditional muffuletta looks like this:

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Tim ordered 1/2 of a Veggaletta. Imagine this . (x2)

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The picture is of 1/4 of a sandwich, he had already eaten the other side.

Muffaletta bread filled with grilled portobello mushrooms, provolone cheese, organic spinach, tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, purple onions and our family recipe muffaletta olive mix. How could that not be good?

I’ve been making an attempt to be more conscious about my eating (more on that in another blog) so I decided to for-go the bread and have my 1/4 Muff in an Organic Wheat Wrap.

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I skipped the chips and had a huge side salad with all kinds of healthy veggies instead.

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Pardon my half eaten egg there, I was so hungry I almost forgot to stop to take a pic.

Instead of using salad dressing I used a little oil and vinegar and topped my salad with Jason’s edamame succotash. Perfect!

Tim and I talked at lunch about how there are certain companies that we really respect because we feel that their business isn’t solely based on what is most beneficial to them economically, but also was it best for the consumer. I’ve always thought of Jason’s Deli as one of those companies (as well as Kashi, Amy’s and others). They provide a large variety of healthy choices, mostly organic (they even had organic ketchup) and offer their customers a choice. I was surprise and interested to see on their website that they are allowing their customers to vote on whether they should replace HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) fountain drinks with ones made of cane sugar, leave it the same, or offer some of both options. What an interesting idea to actually ask the consumer?!

I kind of went off track there a bit, but yeah … try the Veggaletta. LOL 🙂

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Filed under Food, pictures, Restaurants, Thoughts

A Strong Run

I woke up at about 5:30 this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. Lincoln insisted on sleeping with us last night and he kicked me all night, finally I just decided to get up. I had such a productive and quiet morning. It made me wish I got up earlier every morning.

I decided to cook up some sweet potatoes that I’ve had sitting around for a while. I mashed the sweet potatoes and added them to pancake batter. I thought I’d surprise the family with pancakes that didn’t contain spinach for once.

I had two pancakes and two veggie sausage links. They were so yummy! Tim said they were the best pancakes he’s ever eaten, thats hard to believe though considering he says everything is “the best thing he ever put in his mouth”. Lincoln seemed to agree though, he ate a whole one.

My pancakes contained:

  • 2 VERY LARGE mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed

The recipe made 9 large pancakes. I love to freeze them for later and reheat for quick breakfasts.

While the sweet potatoes cooked I took the opportunity to finish the latest book I’ve been reading, Dear John by Nicholas Sparks.

I’ve never actually read any Nicholas Sparks books before. Actually, I’ve never been much of a reader at all until the past year or so. Ever since I got my Kindle life changed! I’ve been devouring all the books I can get my hands on now.

I haven’t seen the movie, but the book was amazing! I’d definitely recommend it.

Lincoln and I ran some mundane errands after breakfast including: grocery shopping, filling up the gas tank and going to the post office. I mailed off my registration for my next race, a 10K on March 6th. I’ve never actually had to mail a registration before, I’ve always done it online, but for some reason this one wasn’t on active. Believe it or not this will be my first ever 10K. I’m excited, I think 6.2 miles will be a perfect racing distance and … no matter how I do I’ll PR 🙂

Lunch was Tofu Stir Fry with brown rice.

Like my old school plate? Its actually my grandmothers; I keep forgetting to give it back.

Lincoln and I took a delicious nap together this afternoon, which I rarely ever get to do. I definitely needed it after waking up extra early this morning.

After naptime I ran 5 miles on the treadmill. It was getting too dark to go outside. Normally I hate my treadmill runs, but for some reason this one was awesome. I let my mind wander while I was running and I kept imagining running the Disney Marathon next year with my friend Bailey and Tim. I thought about how great its going to feel to meet such a seemingly unreachable goal. Who would have ever thought a year ago that that 260 pound, pack a day smoker would be planning on running a marathon?!

My mind wandered more and I thought about all the things in my life that I’ve done that have taken extreme amounts of courage, strength, and determination. I thought about:

  • Completing nursing school
  • Losing 115 pounds
  • Quitting smoking
  • Running 2 Half Marathons and many other races
  • Saving a life
  • Becoming a vegetarian

I’ve never thought about all of those things collectively, and when I did I was amazed at what a strong person I can be. It made for a great run!

I finished 5 miles in 42:23.

Dinner tonight was a Sweet Potato Burrito with Black Bean & Corn Salad.

I think this is one of my most favorite meals ever! I could have easily gone back for a 2nd burrito, and I considered it, but I stopped myself and asked myself “am I still hungry? do I need more?” The answer was no. So I stopped. Yay! I’ve gotten a star everyday on my calendar so far since Sunday for no binges!

I’m off to spend some time infront of the boob tube. Have a great night! I’m sorry to say I’ll most likely be MIA again until Sunday, its back to work time tomorrow night.

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Filed under Food, Motivation, pictures, Recipes, Running, Thoughts

Food Philosophy

Breakfast this morning was extra specially delicious! I had some leftover veggies that I needed to get rid of so I made up this concoction:

A whole wheat breakfast burrito. My burrito contained:

  • broccoli
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • zucchini
  • 1 egg & 1/4 cup Egg Beaters
  • Cheddar cheese

First I sauteed the veggies in a little olive oil.

Then I poured the Egg Beaters and Egg on top and topped with cheese.

I scrambled it all up a bit and wrapped it in a whole wheat tortilla. I had salsa on the side for dipping, but I actually liked it better without the salsa.

Since today is the last day of the Pledge to Be Veg challenge, I have spent alot of time today thinking about my food philosophy. I’ve considered the pros and cons of being vegetarian over the past 30 days, and debated to what extent I’ll continue this lifestyle.

Some of the things I have enjoyed about my vegetarian diet over the past 30 days are:

  1. Knowing that no animals were killed to provide my food.
  2. Experimenting with new recipes.
  3. Exploring new vegetarian friendly restaurants and dishes.
  4. Maintained my weight without counting calories/points or additional exercise.
  5. Learning about nutrition and finding alternate sources of protein, B12, and iron.

There were very few things that I found as negative aspects in the past 30 days, but here they are:

  1. Went to a pizza party with no vegetarian options (cheese wasn’t provided).
  2. Made my family uncomfortable during family dinner at my grandmother’s house (she cooked 2 of each dish, one with meat and one without).
  3. Constantly being asked, “why did you decide to become vegetarian?” and “where do you get your protein?”.

The cons that I faced were easily remedied. In the first instance, I simply did not eat pizza and when I left I stopped by Salsaritas and picked up a veggie burrito. In the second case, I felt bad that my grandmother went out of her way to make two different versions of each dish. I let her know that I appreciated it, but that I could have found plenty of food otherwise. And thirdly, I think its normal for people to be curious about something they consider different, especially when they have always known me as a meat-eater.

Where do I go from here?

Tim and I have both decided to continue our vegetarian diets to varying degrees. We agree that we have not missed meat, and that we can’t imagine ever eating chicken, beef, or pork again. Tim has decided to continue eating fish. I don’t plan on eating fish, although I’ve previously stated that I can’t imagine giving up sushi. I feel that fish are living creatures just like other animals that feel pain and suffer just as much as cows, chicken or pigs. I have also realized that there are excellent sushi rolls out there that don’t include fish.

I have not completely decided whether or not to eat mollusks. I feel like they are more like advanced plants than animals. They have nerve bundles instead of brains and don’t think or feel like other animals. Therefore I don’t feel a moral or ethical urge to not eat them. Some say that because these creatures have “eyes” that they are animals, and that you can’t be a vegetarian and eat them. I care less about being labeled as vegetarian than I do about making my own decisions and understanding why I made that decision. Basically, I don’t want to refuse to eat something simply because “I’m a vegetarian”. One day perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, or I’ll learn something I didn’t know and I’ll change my mind on this point, but for now I don’t have any problem eating mollusks.

The Vegetarian vs. Vegan Debate

I have no intention of becoming vegan at this point. I understand the reasons why people do, but at this point I don’t have the time or the energy to devote to planning vegan meals. I also feel like being Vegan would severely limit other aspects of my life. I feel that its reasonable to expect that I can find vegetarian friendly meals to eat in almost any scenario no matter where I am, but I don’t feel the same about veganism. I think it would be extremely difficult to consistently find vegan meals to eat while out in public, at friend’s houses, at family dinners, etc. But I do want to take some steps to reduce my milk, egg and cheese consumption at home.

My dad raises a few chickens on his land and my family eats their eggs. The chickens on my family’s farm are fed healthy diets, have room to move freely and aren’t caged. They do live in a large pen, but they have PLENTY of room. I will try to use only eggs from my family’s farm whenever possible. I usually get a few dozen eggs whenever I see my family, but that isn’t always possible.

I will use dairy-free milk at home whenever possible. I’ve really enjoyed trying almond milk and I recently bought some rice milk to try. This would be one easy way to reduce the amount of animal products we use at home. However, I have a one year old son and I will keep giving him cow’s milk until he’s older.

I started off becoming interested in vegetarianism because of the movie Food Inc., but after I did some research I learned that there were so many good reasons to be a vegetarian. I could list them out, but I really like this video.

So that’s that.

Lunch today was a yummy hummus, sprout and cucumber sandwhich with a bowl of V8 Butternut Squash soup.

I’m looking forward to a good run today. Hopefully I’ll be meeting up with my friend, Bailey, for a run in the park later. Having runner friends rocks! I wish I had more of them.

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Filed under Food, pictures, Pledge to Be Veg, responsible eating, Thoughts, vegetarian

UltraMarathon Man and What’s Next?

I watched UltraMarathon Man a few days ago and I found it incredibly motivational and inspiring. It is about a man who ran 50 Marathons in 50 States in 50 consecutive days. Watching this movie was one of the things that helped push me to make the decision to run in the Half Marathon next week. You should definitely check it out!

Speaking of the Half Marathon … I’ve been thinking recently about what I’m going to do after its over. Since summer I have been working on various running training programs, first the Couch to 5K, then 10K and now the Half Marathon training program. I’m not sure that I’m ready to start a Marathon training program though, or that I even want to run a marathon at this point. What I want to do is be able to do is keep up my endurance to the point that I can run a Half Marathon whenever I want. I wish there was some kind of maintenance running schedule out there that I could do.

I’ve thought about just running the last two weeks of the Half Marathon training program over and over again every week or maybe the last 4 weeks. I’m just not sure what is best at this point. I definitely want to spend more time on the elliptical, weight training and spinning than I have been recently, but I don’t want my running ability to suffer.

Any advice?

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Filed under Half Marathon Training, Movies, Thoughts