Friday, September 28, 2012

SNT - September!

Happy Friday, everyone!! I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am that this chaotic month is almost over .. September has been wonderful, yes, but I'm looking forward to a little down time in October :)

So, I'm a day late, but here it is: September's edition of Something New Thursday!

For all new readers: SNT is something that began this past summer. It started off as a weekly post but now will be featured as a monthly post. What is it? To encourage everyone to keep trying new things (to keep ourselves interested in the "food" side of our weight loss journeys while avoiding food ruts which can lead to binges), I challenged everyone to try at least one new food or recipe per week (keeping within our nutritional and healthy food goals!). They then send me a picture to have it proudly displayed in that month's SNT post, with links back to their blogs (if they want to!)

So without further delay .. Here's what was cooking in September!

Tomato Eggplant Bites

Christina (she also ran the Army Run, you can read about it here!) made these. They're nice to look at and look SO delicious!

Heirloom Carrots

My bestie got lots of heirloom carrots in her delivery of local, hand-picked veggies, and gave me a bunch of them to use. They have the same texture and crunch as carrots, but with a nice, mild carrot flavor. So good!
Mmm stuffing ...

Leek Soup

To lighten up the "creamy" soup, Christina made this leek soup with half milk, half cream, and chicken broth!
Sign me up for some hot coup on a cool day!

Greek Pasta Salad

The lovely Christine combined three difference light recipes for Greek pasta salad and came up with her own unique creation. She also added spinach (because who doesn't love spinach?!). Doesn't that look good?!

One Flew Over the Couscous Nest

A creamy and hearty Looneyspoons chicken dish made with lots of mushrooms. Originally made to serve over couscous (hence the name), Christine served it over wild rice. That looks like the perfect dish to make on a cool, autumn day!

Light Stroganoff

Daddy Lego has been working on perfecting his light version of stroganoff. He first made it mid-September and we've had it about four times since - it's SO delicious!! I'll be posting the recipe for it soon :)
Mushrooms, mini potatoes, carrots, onions, and turkey.

Oatmeal PB Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (with flax!)

This is a Looneyspoons recipe that I doctored to make my own. The original recipe is the oatmeal PB chocolate chip cookie, but I added a hint of cinnamon, a touch of vanilla, flax, and used dark chocolate chips instead of milk. I wanted to "healthy up!" this treat!

Banana-Flax Pancakes with Dark Chocolate Chips

If ever I can get Daddy Lego to part with his recipe, I'll share it with you. But yeah, banana pancakes made with flax, half whole wheat flour / half white, and dark chocolate chips. Heaven on my breakfast plate. Served beside apple slices with peanut butter and coffee? Breakfast-gasm.

Kahlua Coffee

I just had to include this. After months of wanting to try this coffee, we finally did. And wow .. It's our new favorite for sure!! Our keurig even seems happiest when brewing it :)

If ever you try something new (a recipe, a new fruit / veggie / snack, a meal at a friend's or a restaurant) send me a picture at We want to see what's on your plates! This also provides us all with ideas for what to make in our own kitchens!

Have a fantastic weekend everyone! Enjoy cooking and baking with all the flavors that fall has to offer! :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

My First 5K Run! - race recap

Be warned: This post is long! :)

So this past Sunday was the big day. The race I'd been training for all summer. The first race to ever enter my train of thoughts.

My Everest.

The 5K Army Run.

Daddy Lego and I woke up at 5:30am after a measly four hours of sleep (we were at a beautiful wedding on Saturday, came home to Daughter Lego with a fever of 102.8 and got to bed way later than we had planned!), had a light breakfast of scrambled eggs and coffee (my stomach was a mass of nerves. I know I should have eaten more -especially carbs- but I just couldn't do it!), and headed out the door to catch our bus.

Maaaaaan was it ever cold!! My husband was seriously concerned about nipple chafing!
Hey there, Cindy! haha
We arrived at City Hall with just enough time to visit the bestie (who ran her first 5K too, in 33 minutes!! Holy crappers!!), and find our corral to take in the opening ceremonies, and to stretch. My husband was racing in Cindy's place and was assigned to start in the purple corral, which was the faster group ahead of my red corral, but I stayed with him in the purple group because we really wanted to do this together! I wasn't racing to win or to set a PR - I just wanted to finish still standing and under an hour, so it didn't overly matter to me to be running with the "faster" group (and before the race police say anything - I didn't slow down any racers and I kept pace with them!).

We were quite a ways from the starting line as there were three corrals ahead of us .. But when the cannon was fired to start the race, I started crying. So many emotions were pouring through me. Six months ago, a 5K race was something I'd hear others doing, and I'd joke that I would NEVER be caught running for fun .. And now look at me. I'm running because I LOVE it. I'm an ambassador for #SweatPink and #GirlsGoneSporty and part of this amazing community of runners, athletes and people who are as passionate as I am about healthy eating and active living. And I was about to run my first 5K race.
Got my game face on!! lol
The excitement of the 18 000 runners around me was such a rush - and the people cheering from the sidelines were equally as excited! It was so cool!
Some of the racers from the purple corral. Look at all those people!
It all became real when our group got moving. We started walking to the starting line - I almost started jogging right away, but then I reminded myself to keep my energy for when we actually hit the start and our chip time began counting! So I used that time to grip anxiously onto Daddy Lego's hand and dry my tears.

And then we crossed the line and started to jog. Daddy Lego's goal was to get me to a ten-minute running mark. So we set off on a slow but steady jog. I didn't let the excitement push me to run faster - I knew my limits (and my asthma) well enough to know to take my time! (plus, I uhhh .. Didn't really run for a week and a half except for sprints and ummmm never got past week four of my training program ..)

So we ran. And it was so cool to be running in this group of people. It was awesome to be a part of something so big.

There was one small hill to go up, and it was actually okay for me because I'm now used to running small inclines. Hill number two was more steep and is what started to cramp my lower calves, behind my ankles and up. But I took my time and pushed through and before I knew it, I was headed down hill and breezing past other runners.

We kept on going and I felt great! The down town scene was the perfect backdrop for my run. My asthma wasn't bothering me and I wasn't struggling for breath at all! What I was struggling with was the pain in my calves. I pushed myself as hard as I could go and with my husband pushing alongside of me, I made it to 20 minutes of non-stop running!! That in itself was a PR for me! My mantra: Sweat Pink. Team Lego. Sweat Pink. Team Lego.

I had to take a quick walking-break around 2.5K .. My calves were not feeling right and I knew they needed a rest. So we walked for five minutes and then kept right on going! We grabbed a few sips of water at the water station set on the 3K mark (awesome volunteers!! They kept getting splashed by racers throwing down their cups and just laughed about it!).

My emotions started to swell up on me at the 4K mark for two reasons. One: I just RAN about 3.5K and Two: we caught up with some of the veterans and injured soldiers who started at the beginning of the race (15 minutes before the race began).

Wow. What absolute motivation. Those troops were so unbelievably inspiring. All that they went through overseas, amputations and injuries and more - and here they were, running or wheeling or walking. Holy cow. I quickly forgot the pain in my calves and kept running with a big fat smile on my face and tears in my eyes.

My asthma then decided it was tired of behaving. The cold air is what really did my lungs in - all my training runs were done in the extreme heat and humidity so this cold air wasn't doing so well for my chest. Thankfully, I was running with my inhaler in hand and was able to soothe my asthma over long enough to push to the finishing line.

There it was! The finish line!! The last few minutes of my run flew by and my husband raced ahead to get a picture of me crossing the line.
Coming up to the finish!
WOW!!! What a feeling!!!!
I DID IT!!!! (I finished at 55:20 race time, but my chip time was 45.50!)
And what do you know. I was crying again. And having a mild asthma attack.

I rested for a few minutes, breathed slow and steady, took a hit of my inhaler, and was okay. The troops were handing out our dog tag medals and I almost hugged the troop who gave me mine - I was SO happy and proud of my first race and so in awe of this troop who fights for our peace!
Hard to tell - But I'm totally crying here.
Daddy Lego and I made our way to the refreshments tent and picked up some water and a box of yummy after-race treats. As much as we wanted to stick around for the awards ceremony, we knew we needed to head home to care for our baby girl (it was so hard to leave her that morning, knowing she was under the weather!).

We started to head out and then heard the cannon go off for the half-marathon race, and I just HAD to watch. I wanted to cheer on my Sweat Pink sisters, whom I knew were running the race. Those athletes were frickin amazing. Even though I was pooped from my 5K, I felt motivated all over again to start running!! One day I know I'll be running that half-marathon!

I wasn't able to get my dog-tag stamped with my race time, but I scanned my bib on the way home and found out I finished in 45.50! I was thrilled with that!! That's a whole 15 minutes ahead of my goal!! I'm going to write that on a sticker and attach it behind my dog tag - that way, years down the road when I'm running 25-minute 5Ks, I'll be able to look back and be proud of my beginning.

That dog tag medal will be the first of many I plan to collect. I want to race and run as much as possible.
A feat of strength for Mama Lego! Proudly sporting my dog tag!!
This race was so well organized - thank you to all the volunteers who helped everything run so smoothly, and to all the organizers for making this race happen! And overall - thank you to the soldiers.

So my first race was an emotional one. And it was absolutely incredible. I know I'll never forget it! :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Motivate My Fitness

So it turns out that I'm human and I have my moments. Here's what I mean. I'll have my next day all planned out: early morning wake up, breakfast on the table, head out for a run with the kids, come back home, do the lunch thing, get the kids down for nap time, and then I could squeeze in a quick session of yoga before heading in for a nap myself (yay late night shifts at work .. NOT.)

And then the alarm goes off and that early wake up just isn't happening because omigosh it's so early and my bed is so comfy and it's still dark outside and the kids are still asleep so I could get in an extra few minutes ..

Then when we do get up, I'm disappointed in myself for not rising earlier as planned to follow through on my exercise goals for the day. And then the lazies come along and I take a few minutes longer to have my morning coffee ..

You can see where this is going.

But do you know what ALWAYS gets me motivated to get back to my regularly scheduled exercise program, even though it's not done at the time I originally planned it? What always gets my butt in action even after settling down with a second cup of coffee and giving in to the lazies? What always gets me into my workout clothes and (enthusiastically) out the door, and with a great big smile on my face?

My #SweatPink and #GirlsGoneSporty sisters.

I read their blogs. I "like" their Facebook pages. I follow them on twitter. I subscribe to their emails. With their daily updates, I am constantly getting reminded of how important exercise is, for my body and for ME - and better yet, I'm always reminded of how much FUN it is, and how fantastic I feel after my workout!
Seriously. Read the #sweatpink and #girlsgonesporty hashtags. Incredible people!

I honestly just need to read a few tweets and see what I'd be missing out on if I didn't get active that day. I'd want to join in on the fun and get going.

The #SweatPink and #GirlsGoneSporty ladies are aMaZiNg at keeping me motivated to exercise and at keeping me accountable. Their share in my success and encourage me not to give up when I'm not having so much success. They help keep track of my goals with me and keep me held accountable to my workout routines (like the #plankaday police!!)

See how AWESOME they are?! Love!!
My fitness family kicks ass. And they kick my ass too, and sometimes, that's just what I need!

Thank you girls, for all your motivation! :)

What do you guys use for your daily dose of motivation?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekend Off!

So I've been learning to listen to my body lately. Last Friday, I was at the point where I was running on empty, coming off a week of craziness at work (ugh more mandatory O/T this week), constant running around (where did ALL those errands come from?!) and zero time for myself - I felt emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted. I needed a break.

Normally I would just push my way through it and trudge by. But I don't want to do that anymore. By not resting, my anxiety would turn into another migraine, and that was definitely something I wanted to avoid like the plague!!

So my plan for the weekend was to focus on rest, time for myself, and relaxation. First, I had to teach myself what it was to relax (Turn off your thoughts. Get a good book and a blanket. Kick back.) and it was just strange. While the kids napped, I relaxed. At first I kept feeling like I was forgetting something, but then I just realized that it was my constant "go go go" mode trying to kick in again. After I kicked that to the curb, I relaxed.

Lots of cuddles makes for a happy Team Lego!
Holy WOW. Did I ever need that.

I did only things this weekend that I wanted to do. I still did my housework (just because I needed some time off didn't mean my house had to fall apart!). I still went for walks with the kids. I still played and laughed and tickled the kids. I still made sure to workout. I just didn't have a "to do" list and it was wonderful. I concentrated on eating well, exercising smart, and laughing.
Off they go!

Eating well - baked honey garlic chicken, butternut squash with pumpkin spice, and steamed beans. 
My longest plan to date! #PlankADay
This weekend was exactly what I needed. My body doesn't feel tense. My mind is now stress-free. Anxiety is gone. And today, Monday morning, I feel refreshed and energized.
Ahhhhh this is the life!
Lesson learned: it pays to listen to the cues your body is giving you. I needed to take a time-out and now, I feel SO ready to take on the two crazy weeks coming up ahead, and am feeling more clear-headed and less stressed about it! Big yay :)

What do you do when you feel like you NEED to wind down?

Have a fabulous week, everyone! *hugs*

Friday, September 14, 2012

My CrAzY Week

Hey guys!!

Sorry I haven't been writing as much as normal .. What a hectic week this has been! Here's a bit of a recap:

As you've been seeing me talk / tweet about for some time now, I've been accepted to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador! I'm SO excited about being a part of this incredible online community of strong leaders who live their lives as healthy and active as possible. I get to represent Sweat Pink in all my daily fitness rituals, as well as when I'm out and about, running races and (soon to be) organizing events to help promote active living.

I really can't say enough about how friendly, supportive, and motivating these ladies are, and I'm so proud to have been chosen to Sweat Pink with them!

For more information on the Fit Approach ladies at #sweatpink, visit their website here or click on the "I'm a Sweat Pink Ambassador" button on the sidebar! (I haven't had time yet to add my photo and bio to their ambassador page, but it'll be there soon!)

In other news ... I'm sad to say my running partner for the Army Race next weekend has had to back out due to work scheduling conflicts (I'll miss you Cindy!) ... But I'm super excited to announce that Daddy Lego will be taking her place! How cool will it be to cross the finish line of my first 5K race with my awesome hubby?! So stoked!!

I've also signed up for Run With Jess' Cupcake Classic 2012 5K  virtual race, held the weekend of October 14th! It's a super relaxed but fun "race" where you choose your own route, time yourself out, do your best and submit your results online - and as soon as you cross your own finish line, you reward yourself with a cupcake! How sweet is that?! I'm really looking forward to this run because knowing the Army Run will be jam-packed, it will give me the opportunity to run the 5K on my own without worrying about colliding with other runners. Also, since my goal for the Army Run is to finish and still be able to stand (not to have the best time!) I'll be able to work on setting my PR's! Anyone care to join me Sunday, October 14th at 10am to run and eat cupcakes?!

This week has been just CrAzY and I find myself walking everywhere I need to go (helping to tone the legs and bum = happy mama!) and this beautiful weather has been such a joy to be running around in! Grateful for sunny days and new opportunities. I've been really having to learn to manage my time better as I've found myself suffering with a lot of stress and anxiety (had my second ever migraine this week, brought on by anxiety- huuuuuge ouch) ... So my goal for the coming weeks is to focus on doing what I want to do vs. doing what I HAVE to do, checking things off a priority list, and ensuring that I have time to recoup in between. Me time = happy mommy = happy babies!

Meanwhile ... Mandatory overtime at work = grumpy mama. Just sayin'.

I've been working hard on my core challenge for September and am finding lots of success. My planks are getting longer and stronger and I find my tummy is really starting to tone itself with all the sit-ups I've been working on! I'm still struggling with my arm strength for my push-ups but I'm determined to get better with every day that goes by!
My longest plank yet! It's only 18 seconds but that is HUGE!! :)
I try to squeeze in runs as much as possible - even if it's a run home from the bus stop at 1am or a sprint on my way to work - every step counts! I'm looking forward to next week, where I'll have more time to put into my runs! Until then, I'll just keep sprinting :) It's all about making every moment count!

I'll be sending out my Foodie Pen Pal box this weekend! I've had fun picking out things to send. What a fun program to participate in!

Phew! So that was Mama Lego's week ... How is your week going?! Anything new and exciting happening? I'd love to hear and share your excitement with ya! Until then, here are some picture highlights from my week:
Everything in moderation, right?!
WHY do I do this to myself!? Hopelessly addicted and not loving it. But loving it.
Boy Lego on one of our walks this week.
SO obsessed with brussels sprouts!!

Have a fantastic weekend everyone! :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

The 5K Walk of Hope: Ovarian Cancer

My day started off bumpy and kind of rushed .. I'd set my alarm for 7am, which would have given me an hour to get in a quick workout, a shower, and enough time to kick back with my breakfast and coffee and catch up on my favorite blogs.

At least, that's what the plan was. I'd set my alarm, sure ... What I neglected to do what ensure the volume was up!! FAIL!

Thankfully, Daughter Lego woke up around 7:20 so I was able to get up and do the rushing thing. I was able to get in a few bites of breakfast, pack my coffee to go, and run out the door (after getting to briefly say hi to the babysitter, Grandma!)

I met up with some of our team and we headed to Mooney's Bay park, where the Walk of Hope was being held. After losing our balloons that were to be used as our group's go-to meeting place (ha ha, Christine!) we managed to all meet up, get registered, and chat it up before the walk began.

I can't even put into words how much fun I had. Or how beautiful the weather was. Or how positive the atmosphere was. Or how inspiring the crowd was - especially the ovarian cancer survivors, proudly sporting their teal shirts.

I can't put it into words - but I can definitely try to caption it with pictures!

From left to right: Me, Christine, Jan (our amazing fighter!) and Christine. Lovely ladies! I can't even begin to explain how inspiring Jan is. What an incredible lady.
Our team, Jan's Girls!
I was so happy and so proud to be a part of this event! Let's get walking!
The view from behind us as we began the walk. So many amazing people.
Some more walkers!
I could have walked all day with scenery like this. Beautiful!
2K down and still going strong!
Another picture of our gorgeous surroundings. 
Hitting the 2K mark for the second time. 4K down!
As we crossed the finish line, "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey was playing ... The best song to capture the moment and the event. 
We did it! 5K! Love you Chris!!
This group was fantastic. They walked around the event giving out Life Savers Candy to keep everyone's energy going and then took home the team award for most money fund raised!
Stopped for a small treat on the way home :)
We all had a blast! We were getting our walk on and for such a great cause. I felt so much love, respect and admiration for the survivors in their teal shirts. Seeing their positive dispositions after what they've been through really shows that anything is possible! The day also made me realize just how blessed I am, to be in great health and to be able to say the same for the rest of Team Lego and all my family.

Lessons I learned:

1. Don't take life for granted. Live every single day with a smile on your face!! Make the most of every opportunity and cherish the moments you get to spend with the people you love.

2. Get full physicals regularly. And if you truly believe that something is wrong and your doctor won't listen - find someone who WILL.

3. Walking 5K with great company = awesome.

4. When it's cooler outside, keep those muscles moving to avoid stiffness and / or cramping! Also, I may want to invest in some leg warmers for the fall / winter walking and running I plan to do!

5. Whether or not it's cool outside - keep hydrated!

I definitely want to be a part of this event next year, and am also wanting to be a part of as many of these walks as possible! Wanna join me for an incredible experience!?

Friday, September 7, 2012

The 411 About Broccoli

You have all probably noticed that a very common side dish you'll find on my plate is broccoli. It's in the majority of my food pictures. Not only does it look great (such a vibrant shade of green!) but it also tastes amazing, is quite filling and goes well with just about anything!
By far, broccoli is my favorite veggie!
Broccoli is loaded with so many nutritional goodies. Here are some reasons why you should try to include broccoli in your healthy lifestyle:

1. Broccoli contains potassium and magnesium, both helpful in controlling blood pressure. The potassium also helps maintain a healthy nervous system and brain functions, as well as helps muscle growth!
Broc served with my turkey buger patty "steak"!
2. Just one cup of broccoli has your recommended daily amount of vitamin c ... Which we all know helps to fight off colds and fights off free radicals in our systems!

3. Your bones will benefit from the calcium and vitamin k found in broccoli. They'll stay strong and healthy and will have a lessened chance of developing osteoporosis.

4. Trying to lose weight? Look no further than broccoli! It has a high fiber content so it can help prevent constipation (and helps keep your system cleaned out!), helps digestion, lower blood sugar, and curbs overeating. Bonus: a cup of broc has almost half the amount of protein as a cup of rice or corn and half the calories!
Broc served on the side of my pineapple-curry chicken with brown rice!
5. Broccoli has the carotenoid lutein which helps prevent degeneration of the eyes, helps prevent heart disease and stroke.

Who knew something so pretty could be so good for you?!

Enjoy your Hulk Trees! (as Boy Lego calls his broccoli, ha ha!)

Broccoli with a small scoop of ricotta mashed potatoes and BBQ pork chops :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ab & Core Challenge - Week One!

So far with my September Fitness Challenge, I've learned the importance of stretching properly before and after each workout. I find I'm not as sore the next day and that my workout is MUCH easier when my muscles are warmed up from a nice stretch!

I've learned a lot about how much I can push my body before I cross that invisible line ... I pulled a muscle in my abdomen this week .. You don't realize just how much you need to use your abs until your body won't let you. Big ouch. Listen to your body and know your limits! Push yourself - but also know when you've pushed hard enough. If something doesn't feel right - check your position, stretch it out, or take a break. 

I've learned the importance of stretching properly before and after each workout. I find I'm not as sore the next day and that my workout is MUCH easier when my muscles are warmed up from a nice stretch!

 I've learned that my workouts are much more fun and I'm able to push that much harder when my little boy is telling me, "Good boy mama! You can do it!" :)
Boy Lego doing the "bicycle" leg / ab workout!
It's really cool when Boy Lego sees me exercising and joins in, too. How inspiring is it to see my fitness lifestyle rubbing off on my kids! My kids have both started to join in on my workouts and we have so much fun! I beam with pride to see them enjoying the activity :)
Team Lego workout! Stretch first!
We truly are role models for our kids. If we want them to lead healthy and active lifestyles, they need to see us leading by example. 
Monkey see, Monkey do! :)
So to recap my first week: injury aside (and lesson learned, thank you, dear abdomen!), I am SO beyond happy with how this week has gone. When I first started the challenge, push-ups and sit-ups were actions I could only dream of doing .. And I'm getting there! I worked on crunches to build my ab strength and am now able to do FOUR proper sit-ups consecutively!! That is HUGE for me! I also worked on planking (the dolphin plank, to be exact .. This pose is a great plank starting point for me!) to build upper body strength for my push-ups .. And I'm now able to do SIX half-push-ups! I'm slowly working on my upper body and arm strength to be able to lower myself down the whole way.
Dolphin Planking .. with company!
I'm so stoked with my results! I'm seeing progress and loving it!! Getting my sweat on feels AWESOME and I'm so proud!!

Can't wait to see where my September challenge will bring me! :)