More Stuffed Than The Thanksgiving Turkey

Ahh the holidays. I love them for so many reasons but especially for the food. I love to eat, and holiday food is the best. Turkey and dressing, mac and cheese, desserts, and breakfasts with bacon and eggs.

Me looking at the scale after Christmas.

Me looking at the scale after Christmas.

From this past Thanksgiving through Christmas I ate like I was on death row and every meal was going to be my last.

Which is also why my pants began cutting off my circulation and my Spanx went on strike by the time New Year’s Day rolled around.

I had taken a hiatus from my dread mill, partly because of surgery to my leg last March but mostly because I was just about as productive as a slug.

So right after Christmas, when I put on a pair of jeans from my closet only to realize they were my husbands jeans – AND THEY FIT – did I decide I’d better actually honor my New Years resolution and start working out again as well as eating healthier.

Low-fat, low-carb…I cut down on bacon and other fatty foods. I’ve started eating so many nuts for snacks that I will probably grow a tail and climb a tree soon.

My new friends K and L talked me into going to the gym to do a “step” class. I don’t know if you have ever done a step class before, but it’s where an instructor has you stepping on and off a 6″ high platform while blaring music is pumped out of the speakers overhead and girls with stick-figure bodies in tight little workout clothes surround you.

I had taken step before a few years ago but I was not prepared for this one. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the moves were so fast that I’m pretty sure that I looked like I was doing “the Elaine” dance from Seinfeld while K and L were gracefully going through the movements with ease.

Me at step class

Me at step class

While they were going left I was going right. When they were going up I was going down. I was the complete opposite of what they did.

And with each break, I’d guzzle some water. Half-way through the class I thought my bladder was going to burst. I felt like a puppy near some new carpet.

After class, we decided to continue the workout with crunches. K showed me how to do sit-ups on a machine, and even though I had been doing crunches at home, it was clear that the ones I had been doing at home were the same intensity that a preschooler could handle.

The next morning, I had to literally roll out of bed because my muscles felt like I had been punched in the stomach. But, I went back two days later and my legs didn’t feel like they were full of lead anymore. And I actually enjoyed the class.

And I’m determined to honor my New Year’s resolution until I can no longer wear the same size jeans as my husband, and am back in my old clothes. And if that’s not enough incentive, then I don’t know what is.

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To Eat or Not To Eat

For years I was not a good cook. Not because I didn’t know HOW to cook, but it was hard because cooking for only two people wasn’t always easy. (I’m REALLY not good at math so dividing recipes was a nightmare. Sorry, Mrs. Wylie, but that math tutoring on fractions you helped me with in high school DID NOT stick with me).

My son, Matthew, was always pretty easy to cook for because all I needed to do for him was boil water for his beloved Ramen noodles. Water is boiling? Dinner’s ready!

My friends from my previous employer all knew of my poor cooking skills. (I have been rumored to burn water and I MAY or MAY NOT have made a grilled cheese once, forgetting to add the cheese). On one company trip, the Vice President came to our condo stating that she had been told I was cooking…with vodka…and she was a little nervous. No need to worry, I told her. Turns out, I was a pro at making jello shots!

When I got remarried I was sort of forced to fine-tune my cooking skills. Now, not only was I going to be cooking for five people, but there were now food allergies being thrown into the mix. My step-son, Austin, has Celiac disease, so he can’t eat anything with gluten. My step-daughter, Bailey, has a nut allergy and also eats only gluten free food, and my husband can’t have MSG.

Oh, the joy of cooking…yeah, right. Not ONE of my new family members can eat Ramen noodles…it’s chock full of gluten and MSG.

Making two to three different meals for one dinner time isn’t easy, so I began to get creative with recipes so that I could make variations of the same meal.

Yummy AND Gluten Free!

Yummy AND Gluten Free!

I realized that most ingredients can be easily substituted with gluten free products. This past week I made shrimp scampi – one with regular breadcrumbs, and one with gluten free breadcrumbs. It was a hit. Austin gave it two thumbs up and actually asked for me to cook it again sometime. That was a shock because he is extremely picky…I never know what he is going to like or not like.

Bailey’s favorite meal is my homemade fettuccine Alfredo. The Alfredo sauce is naturally gluten free, but I use GF pasta for her and regular pasta for us. She asks for it every time she is over at our house and it makes me smile because it’s something special that I can make for her.

Cooking gluten free can be a bit frustrating for someone whose favorite foods always start with “enriched flour” in the ingredient list, but I’m learning. And there are still days when I throw a piece of fish in the oven because the kids don’t want to eat what we are eating, even if it can be made GF.

I recently got a nice compliment from the kids. Bailey asked her mother if she could make some of the recipes that I make for her when she is at our house because she loves my cooking.

SCORE!

I found that cooking can be very rewarding when people actually like what you’re spending the time to cook, so taking the time to find out what they love is worth its weight in homemade gluten free pumpkin pie.

I Look Great But You’re Losing Your Hair

I started participating triathlons after a very bad relationship breakup…the kind of relationship where I thought “Woo-Hoo!! I’m gonna marry this guy” and I started scribbling my name with his last name like a high school kid.

Annnnnd then it didn’t happen. Not only did it not happen, but I found myself completely opposite of where I pictured myself. I found myself alone. Not married, but completely ALONE.

So after a month long diet of wine, cookies, wine, ice-cream, wine and pasta, I decided to give up the carbs and get in really good shape. I thought, “That’ll show him. When we bump into each other in the future, he’s going to go “DAMNNNN. I screwed up.” At least that’s what I had hoped he’d be saying. So instead of just joining a gym, I went the extreme route…I signed up for the IronGirl triathlon, and so my training began.

Before I signed up, I don’t think I had really considered the distance that is involved in a triathlon. I hadn’t thought about the fact that I would have to swim 600 yards, then bike 18 miles, then run a 5k. Much too late, I realized that 600 yards is the equivalent to 6 football fields. 18 miles is equal to 72 times around a high school track, and a 5k would be like hiking up, down and back up Stone Mountain. And I was going to have to do this not in just a day, but in less than 2 hours.

Let’s be serious. I’m 43 years old. I’m never going to win a medal in the Olympics so I truly don’t care about my time. I’m not going to break any records except for possibly having the highest number of last place finishes in history. Immediately following the race, many of my friends will run to the timing sheets and anxiously scan their race numbers to find their time. Me? What do I care? It’s not like I’m going to put my race finish time on FaceBook. Can’t you see my status: “Finished my triathlon – came in 600th place, out of 600!!!”

My first triathlon 2007

With each race my primary goal is to not drown during the swim, not hit a pothole with my bike and end up with a massive head injury, and not to have a heart attack during the run portion. Instead I just want to finish the race and get my t-shirt confirming that I have participated in and lived through a triathlon.

Skip forward a few IronGirl tri’s and local sprint competitions, in which I didn’t come in last place by the way. I realized that it wasn’t important for me to get in shape and do these tri’s to impress someone else. It was for me. I was having a great time, getting in fantastic shape, meeting new people and finding out that I was much stronger than I ever imagined that I could be. And you know what else I found out? Having confidence can be very attractive!

And you know what I’ll say if ever I run into that old ex-boyfriend who inspired me to kick start the inner athletic goddess in me?

“Eat your heart out…and by the way, you’re losing your hair.”

My most recent triathlon 2012