Monday, May 7, 2012

Running for Motivation

I did it.  I officially registered for a half marathon.  No more 10k's just to keep myself in shape and running.  A half marathon.  June 30.  I will actually have to train for this one.
As I've said before, my life has become WAY hectic, and it has been close to impossible for me to find time just to cook dinner - let alone write for my blog.  Right now, we have a couple of weeks of state testing at my school, so I have some much needed time to catch up on all my favorite blogs, and even write a few posts myself.  I really do miss cooking and writing HG reviews on a regular basis. 

One thing that has, in a way, replaced my regular blogging is running.  I was in desperate need of a way to get some new motivation.  I am less than 10 pounds away from my original goal weight of 145 pounds, but I can't seem to quite get there.  I am proud to say that, although the scale has gone up and down a few pounds, I have pretty much been maintaining my weight during the past 6 months or so.  But, I want to lose weight, damn it! 

So, I registered for a half marathon.  I've been running a few 10k's here and there, but I haven't done a half marathon since the Disneyland half in 2006.  More than five and a half years ago.  Pre-kids. 

I have been thinking about doing another half marathon for about a year now, but I just couldn't figure out how to find time for the training.  With working late Mondays and Wednesdays, and trying to spend as much time as possible with my two kids and husband, time is definitely limited now.  So, I run at night after the kids go to bed. And I run early Saturday morning before they wake up.  Here is my current running schedule:

Tuesday  - 5 mile speed run on treadmill (9pm)
Thursday - 4 - 5 mile hill run on treadmill (9pm)
Saturday - 8 - 11 mile long run outside (6am - 7:30am)

Crazy, right?  It's working, though, and that's what counts.  And even though it is so hard to run after a full day of work and kids, or to wake up at 5:30am on Saturday to get ready to run 8 - 10 miles, it has been worth it.  I feel like a runner again.  And the weight is starting to come off again. 

For kicks, I pulled out my running file where I have kept all my times from my previous races.  I had forgotten how fast I used to be, and it has given me even more motivation to train for this half marathon.  While I don't think I will get a new PR (personal record), it is something to strive for next time (and there will be a next time).  Here is my race history:

San Diego Rock 'n Roll Marathon - 6/5/05 - 4:44:29
Long Beach Half Marathon - 10/16/05 - 1:57:28
Orange County Half Marathon - 1/8/06 - 1:55:29 - (my personal record, an 8:58 pace!)
Carneros Wine Country Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon - 7/16/06 - 2:26:21
Disneyland Half Marathon - 9/17/06 - 2:01:22

Apple Valley 10k - 10/24/09 - 58:38
Apple Valley 5k - 10/24/09 - 32:14
Calabasas Classic 10k - 11/8/09 - 1:14:43 (with friends)
Universal Studios 10k - 12/13/09 - 56:36
Calabasas Classic 10k - 11/13/11 - 1:04:46
Universal Studios 10k - 12/4/11 - 1:18:17 (with friends)
Victory 4 Victims 10k - 4/15/12 - 59:08

Mojave Narrow Half Marathon - 6/30/12

I'm so excited to be back in the game, so to speak.  I feel good about my running, am comfortable running up to 8 miles so far, and know it will only get easier as I lose more weight.  I just hope my motivation will last this time and I will finally reach my goal weight once and for all!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Colossal Asian Veggie 'N Chicken Pack

Per Serving (1/4th of recipe, about 1 1/2 cups): 5 Points+
222 calories, 1.5g fat, 811mg sodium, 19g carbs, 3.25g fiber, 9.5g sugars, 30.5g protein 

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 170 - 171

As I've said before, I love making Hungry Girl foil packs.  They are quick, easy, and always turn out moist and yummy.  This recipe had TONS of veggies in it, which I love.  You get so much food for so little calories - awesome! 

My main complaint about this recipe was the lack of sauce.  For all those veggies, there was only 3 tablespoons of oyster sauce, along with a little rice vinegar.  I like to be able to taste my sauce!  Plus, when everything is cooked in the foil pack, the veggies release quite a bit of liquid, watering down the already too-small amount of sauce.  In other words, this recipe needs more sauce! 

To compensate, I ended up adding soy sauce to my serving.  Although it adds a lot of sodium, it doesn't really add any calories, and it was worth the added flavor this dish was desperately needing.  If you make this recipe, it might be worth it to add a tablespoon of lower calorie stir-fry sauce to each serving for more flavor.  I have found ones for only 20 calories a tablespoon that taste great.  The portion size alone is a good reason to make this dish, even though it needs a little help!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pow! Sock! Bam! Jambalaya

PER SERVING (1/4th of recipe, about 1 1/2 cups): 6 Points+
256 calories, 5.5g fat, 688mg sodium, 30.5g carbs, 3.5g fiber, 6.5g sugars, 20g protein 

The recipe: "300 under 300", page 242

The other night, I actually had some time to cook dinner for my family!  I chose this recipe because I thought it would be something different for a change - not to mention I love jambalaya.  Unfortunately, the recipe didn't turn out.  The photo above is the giving up point of this recipe.  Sadly, it wound up in the garbage after I rescued some of the sausage from the pot.  I was disappointed to say the least, since it was my first Hungry Girl recipe for the blog in quite some time now. 

My problem was the rice.  When I saw that the recipe called for uncooked rice, and that it was supposed to be cooked for 35 minutes, I had a feeling it would actually take much longer to cook the rice.  My rice NEVER got cooked, though, and I'm not sure what the heck I was doing wrong.  I covered it and reduced the heat to medium low, like the recipe said to.  Perhaps the heat wasn't up high enough?  It was hot enough to bubble the entire time, though.  The liquid in the pot got completely soaked up into the still-undercooked-rice, so I added some hot water, thinking that would help.  Nope!  After an hour and a half - yes, an hour and a half! - I gave up on the recipe and called it a day.  Luckily, I never did add the shrimp, so I didn't waste so much food.  But, I really hated having to throw everything away.  The rice was crunchy, though, and it is almost impossible to eat something with undercooked rice in it. 

I am not saying this recipe is hopeless, though.  The flavors were very good, and I could tell it would have turned into a nice and flavorful jambalaya.  It definitely had some heat to it, but I like spicy foods.  My recommendation is to cook the rice separately, and to use that in the recipe instead of uncooked rice.  There shouldn't be a problem with having too much liquid, since there wasn't enough liquid to cook the uncooked rice in the first place.   

Hopefully I will have more success with the next recipe!  I will try to make this again in the future and do a new review for it.  Next time I will be cooking the rice before adding it to the pot!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spicy Chicken Crunchtastic Supreme

Per Serving (entire recipe): 6 Points +
240 calories, 3.75g fat, 897mg sodium, 33.5g carbs, 7g fiber, 3g sugars, 23.5g protein

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 340 - 341

This recipe is supposed to be an imitation of a menu item you can find at Taco Bell.  I love Taco Bell, but I usually avoid it since there are very few healthy options to eat there.  I was pretty skeptical that this recipe would actually taste like a fast food dish.  Surprisingly, it did! 

I did not have a high fiber tortilla to make this with, so mine was probably an extra 50 calories or so.  But, I made another one a day later, and it tasted just as good with the high fiber tortilla.  I'm not sure if it was the fact that the final cooking process made all the ingredients warm, like the fast-food version you can buy, or the fact that the substituted ingredients are similar to the actual thing, but this really did taste like I was eating a fast-food meal.  I even felt a little guilty after eating it, and had to remind myself that it was not the same as eating the real thing. 

Since making this last week, I have made this two more times - both with a high fiber tortilla.  It tasted just as good each time, and I think this is going to now be on my list of favorites.  It definitely satisfied my Taco Bell cravings, so anytime I feel like Taco Bell again, I will make this recipe.  Yum!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cheesy Pigs in Bacon Blankies

Per Serving (1/8th of recipe, 1 pig in a blanket): 4 Points+
164 calories, 6.75g fat, 877mg sodium, 16g carbs, 0g fiber, 3.5g sugars, 10.5g protein 

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 178 - 179

Since I have been so busy recently, and am often not home to cook dinner, my husband actually pitched in and made this recipe for me.  Not bad, huh?  One of my kids' favorite lunches is pigs in a blanket.  So, I figured they would love this recipe.  For their pigs in blankies, we eliminated the bacon, but they loved the fact that there was cheese inside.

This recipe was fairly simple, with a nice twist on a classic favorite.  We added broccoli for a side and called it dinner, but you could definitely eat this for lunch or even a snack.  The calories were low enough where you could easily have two of these and not have overdone it.  These were easy to make, and worth trying.