FMM: Current Favorites

Happy Monday! If you have taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s questions on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: so others can see your FMM questions and answers. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers by posting your own FMM post and commenting on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Current Favorites

Song – I am diggin’ anything with Pitbull or Flo rida.

Drink – I’m a water girl. I’ve been throwing a fruit flavored tea bag or two into my water bottle at work for a little taste.

Physical feature that you find attractive – My husband’s super sexy muscular arms (I say blushing!). He doesn’t even lift weights though he is a mason and his job requires some serious upper body strength.

TV Show(s) – I’ve been catching up on How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. I love it. It’s cute, witty and I really hope at some point we meet the mother if we haven’t already.

Actor/Actress – I don’t really have a favorite actor. However, I have to say Jennifer Lawrence who played the main character, Katniss, in the Hunger Games was terrific and strikingly beautiful despite being cut, dirty and battered in many scenes in the movie.

Book – I’m reading Sarah’s Key right now and I wish I could devote the rest of the day to finishing it. It’s terrific.

Form of communication – I prefer communicating through letters. Something to be said for good old fashioned pen and paper. I have a severe slight sarcastic edge that is often misunderstood. I have a bad habit of saying things sort of off the cuff and inadvertently pissing people off  though I’ve gotten much better at controlling this. Even worse than my sarcasm is the fact that my every emotion shows on my face. This is a tough one to change, but I continue to practice my poker face. While I don’t actually communicate by writing letters I think if I could I would be much more effective at sharing my point of view and my feelings.

Exercise – I still love running and coming in at a close second is ice skating. I had lesson #2 last night.

Food – I have been on a serious mushroom kick lately; sautéed with a smidge of Earth Balance and some spinach.

Quote – “If we have intelligence, imagination and the ability to dream, things can happen.” Graça Machel (current wife of Nelson Mandela and the widow of the first Mozambican president Samora Machel)

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions. I hope you are having a wonderful Monday. I plan to return tomorrow with a recap of my first week of half marathon training.

Friday fun facts: post Christmas

1. From 12/23/11 to 1/3/11 I will work 11 out of those 12 nights. As a nurse it’s easy to pick up extra shifts over the holidays. It sounded like a good idea back in November.

2. Last night was my 1 night off. I put Carlos to bed at 6:45 (yes he goes to bed that early!) and I was in bed by 7!

3. I leave for Florida in exactly 5 days.

4. The weather looks fantastic for marathon day. A high of 72 degrees and sunny.

5. I’m writing this on my iPhone because my computer is having a sleep over at the Apple store tonight. Fun! Well not so much. My beloved MacBook is suffering from the severe slows since I upgraded to the new Lion operating system. Sadly a clean install is being performed. Let’s just say I’m apprehensive about the whole thing.

6. My Christmas tree came down on 12/27.

7. I dislike how I feel after indulging in way too many sweets over the holiday and beyond. I’m done now and moving on.

8. I am in taper mode of marathon training and I miss running a lot. Weird I know. I will write more on this later. I just read a great article and realized that I have gone about tapering all wrong.

9. I am trying to use up everything in our refrigerator before we go. Pasta with broccoli and cherry tomatoes tonight.

10. I am running a marathon in 8 days! Me!!

Best of running 2011

I saw this on Stephanie’s blog Running to Health and I really love the idea of summarizing the highlights in my first full year as a “runner.” The questions come from Miss Zippy a new to me blog, but one I look forward to reading.

  • Best race experience? I think my best race experience this year would have to be my most recent half marathon in November. I had planned to do the 5k but when I broke my rib in September I didn’t bother signing up for the race. Just two days before the race I was feeling great and since my training plan called for 13 miles I thought I would go for it and do the Monson half marathon instead. It was a tough hilly course but the challenge of it made the finish even more sweet. It was my slowest half but considering where I had been just weeks before it was without a doubt the most gratifying race.
  • Best run? The 22 mile run a few weeks ago has been my best and longest run yet. It pushed me beyond my comfort zone and made me think twice about ever saying “I can’t!”
  • Best new piece of gear? I would have to say that my Garmin continues to be my favorite piece of running gear. I’m no longer stuck running around a track or calculating mileage in my car before a run.
  • Best piece of running advice you received? Do not compare yourself to others. Run within yourself and for yourself first.
  • Most inspirational runner? From the day my son took his first steps at 10 months old he was off and running. I knew I needed to get in shape and do something to keep up with him. Enter running! My son continues to inspire me to become a better, healthier person. I am also inspired by my younger cousin who has run a number of marathons and coaches for Team in Training.
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Amazing in motion! Cheesy I know but true.

Happy Holidays everyone!

December 2

The days from Thanksgiving until today mark a time full of difficult memories for me, my mom and my sister. The memories are of my stepfather, Ralph. He died 15 years ago today after suffering a massive heart attack at home. The suddenness and the shock of his death saturated our lives for a long time after. He was the glue that held our little family together. Ralph brought a great deal of happiness to our lives and to the lives of everyone he met. He had one of those personalities, you know the kind that just puts you at ease immediately. His jovial laugh, Rhode Island accent and sincere smile made him immediately likable to everyone he met.

Thanksgiving was the last holiday we celebrated together. My sister was studying in Spain that year. It was a quiet holiday weekend. I lived at home though I had graduated from college earlier that year. I left for work the Monday after Thanksgiving. I always gave my mother and Ralph a hug and said, “I love you.” Ralph worked at home on Mondays. I worked in a small office at the university I graduated from. Most Mondays I would call Ralph to chit chat. This Monday was no different, except when I called my uncle answered the phone and urged me to come home immediately. My uncle also worked from home on Mondays and he and Ralph usually met for coffee. My uncle found Ralph on the sofa, unresponsive. He called 911 and tried his best to resuscitate him. It was too late.

The rest of the day is blur. I had never lost anyone I was close to until that day. Our lives have never been the same especially my mom’s. Ralph was a wonderful man who brought so much joy to our family. He had no children of his own and always loved us as though we were just as special. He was careful not to take the place of our father, but became more of a mentor to me during my awkward, frustrating teen years. Ralph listened and offered advice. He always reminded me that I was perfect just the way I was.

Ralph was a big man who loved to smoke and eat. I mean he genuinely loved smoking and eating. He ate rich Italian cuisine. He smoked anywhere from a pack to three packs of cigarettes a day. He lived his life exactly how he wanted to (and don’t think for one minute that this doesn’t anger me at times when I think about how his life ended too quickly). His death shook me up. It reminded me that we are not immortal. I knew then that I had to start taking care of myself or I too would risk heart attack and other health issues. I was a smoker at the time Ralph died. I quit 13 years ago. My weight issues have taken longer to rectify and my shift to a healthier diet didn’t begin right away, but it was constantly on my mind.

I miss Ralph and still think of him often. I wish Carlos could know him. I can only imagine the close relationship the two of them would have. I know that he would have loved my husband. I also think he would be proud of me for how I’ve changed my life over the past few years.

I ran this morning like I do most Friday mornings while Carlos is at school. The weather has been pleasantly surprising me on my run days. It was crisp and cool but the sun was shining bright. I have been experiencing great runs lately and today was no different. My legs wanted to move and my breathing took no time to get under control. I sped around the reservoir at a comfortable yet noticeably faster pace than usual. I completed 4 miles in just under 40 minutes which is a record of sorts for me since I broke my rib back in September. I thought a lot about Ralph on my run. December 2 will always be a day I remember. It will always be a day that reminds me to tell my family I love them, to hug my husband and son as much as possible, and to appreciate life.

Friend Makin’ Mondays: Holiday Shopping

I did this last week for the first time. I tend to be a day behind because I always post my marathon training recap on Monday. I tried to get this up last night, but I didn’t happen. If you’re new to Friend Makin’ Mondays, please answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so everyone can see your FMM questions and answers. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so after posting your own FMM post on Kenlie’s page take some time to comment on a couple of other posts. Here is this week’s topic!

Friend Makin’ Mondays: Holiday Shopping

1. Do you like to shop? I do like to shop. I don’t always feel like shopping though. I have to be in the mood for it.

2. Have you started Christmas shopping yet? No I haven’t. I can’t seem to get organized this year. I tried to shop some of the Cyber Monday sales but I had so many other things to do today.

3. Did you shop on Black Friday? if so, what did you buy? No I had to work Thanksgiving night. Although even if I didn’t have to work I wouldn’t have gone shopping. It’s madness out there!

4. List a few of your favorite stores. Don’t laugh but two of my favorite stores are Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. I could spend hours browsing through Whole Foods. I also like Target, Loft and Ann Taylor. Those are stores I actually shop in. Then there are stores like Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn that I basically just browse in.

5. What is the last thing you purchased for yourself? We went to Kringle candle over the weekend and I bought some candles.

6. Do you prefer to shop in-store or online? I love the ease of online shopping but I hate paying shipping charges. If I can get free shipping then I usually buy online. I don’t buy clothing too often online because it can be a hassle to return. Amazon is one of my favorite places to shop online.

7. If you could purchase one thing that you don’t need at all for yourself today, what would it be? If money were no object I would buy myself an iPad.

8. Does your significant other shop with you? Not usually but it is because of our schedules and childcare. I like shopping with my husband. He is a great bargain hunter. Do they love it/hate it? My husband likes to shop but leaves the gift buying up to me.

9. Do you shop at thrift stores? I haven’t in a while but I always have fun when I do.

10. When your holiday shopping do you make lists? I make lists for everything. Google Tasks is my favorite list maker. Yes I definitely have a list of people I need to buy Christmas gifts for. I also keep a list of gift ideas for people throughout the year as they mention things they might like.


After struggling all of my life with weight issues something finally clicked last year. This is the third in a series of posts about the tools I utilized to break the yo yo diet cycle.  Although I am not at what I consider to be a happy weight or even a goal weight I lost over 60 pounds between January 2007 and January of 2010.  I have maintained that loss for over a year now and probably lost a few more pounds along the way.

An important tool I have had all along but wasn’t taking full advantage of was access to information. About a year after my son was born my husband surprised me with a laptop. It changed my life considerably. Suddenly I had millions of healthy recipes at my fingertips and right in my kitchen. I could simply Google ingredients I had on hand and a list of possibilities materialized in seconds.

I always maintained that I could not cook. With so many mouth watering, healthy dishes to try I was actually excited to cook. I stopped saying “I can’t” and just began experimenting. My husband loved the new additions to our typically boring and routine dinners. I almost never make the same thing twice. We rarely eat out anymore simply because we are generally more satisfied by the meals that I make.

Around this time I discovered healthy living blogs.  It started with Roni’s Weigh. I connected to her story immediately and loved her no nonsense approach to weight loss and life after.Through her blog I found an entire community of healthy living bloggers.  I found camaraderie with others who seemed to know exactly what I had gone through all those years.  There was so much support and encouragement from around the blogosphere.

By using information readily available like food labels I started to question many of my food choices. I always had packaged “healthy” snacks on hand like granola bars, pretzels, yogurt cups and crackers. After drooling over many freshly baked blogger treats I tried my hand at baking with the help of my toddler. He was about two at time. He would sit up on the stool and help me mix the ingredients. Now he is cracking the eggs, getting things out of the cabinets and using the hand mixer (under my supervision of course).

Mixing it up

I began making much healthier snacks for less money. My only problem now is making enough so that I get to try it! I have to beg my husband not to eat whatever I make all in one sitting. Some of our favorites are zucchini bread, banana muffins, apple cranberry bread, Anne P’s 5 minute no bake granola bars and just about anything with pumpkin.

We all learned about the food groups and the food pyramid in elementary school.  I learned about it again in nursing school.  I brought myself back to the basics of nutrition.  Each day I strive to include “real” food rather than processed food, natural ingredients instead of chemicals.  I stopped buying many fat free and sugar free products that I had previously relied up in my diet state.  I have traded artificially sweetened yogurt cups for nonfat plain yogurt that I lightly sweeten with fruit or agave syrup. If I do buy something packaged I will spend a little more to buy the organic brand with recognizable ingredients. Some nonorganic favorites are Triscuits and pretzels because of their no nonsense ingredient lists. I keep the refrigerator stocked with fresh fruit and veggies. I make my own salad dressings and hummus. I have limited cereal to oats, Cheerios and granola or muesli.

This is the most comfortable I have been in my own body since childhood. I feel good inside and out.  The changes that I have made are holistic rather than focused on weight loss.

The last tool that I utilized was my support system.  For years instead of asking for help I shunned it.  This time I flat out demanded it as a Mother’s Day gift from my mother.  I asked her to babysit for an hour a few times a week so that I could exercise.  She did this from last May throughout the summer.  I also reached out to my cousin who runs marathon for running advice.  I talked about my fitness goals with my husband and told him how he could help me achieve them.  Instead of trying to do this on my own I let my close friends and family know about my plans so that they could help me.  I even have a few new 5K recruits ready to run with me this spring.

I’ve had the tools all along I just wasn’t using them.  Consider me armed and ready for anything now!