So, on this blog, I try not to focus so much on the day-to-day, but more on the big picture. I have an unwritten rule with myself that I don’t post about that Tuesday when I gained a pound and ate half a bag of chocolate chips (what? That’s totally never happened), and I tend not to post about what I ate for lunch or the amazing workout I had after that. And I certainly never post about my adorably mischievous dog/baby/lemur–mostly because I don’t have any of those things, but even if I did, I wouldn’t post about it. Because it’s obnoxious. And no one cares.
But I’m breaking that rule today because, my friends, I think I’ve officially became a runner. Get that skeptical look off your face so we can proceed. Thank you.
If you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve been half-heartedly trying to start running. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people just chugging along down the street like it ain’t no thang. Running seems to be both the very most basic fitness activity, and the greatest sign of health, endurance, and the ability to push yourself to new heights of awesomeness. Plus, the runners in my neighborhood are usually totally ripped and hot. Marry me?
I started the Couch-to-5K program day one of my Manda Kay Makes It journey, and I’ve done it sporadically since. It’s been a struggle–everything bounces and jiggles, I’m slow, uncomfortable, and have no endurance, my fear of the treadmill is still very real, and I really haven’t seen progress. I’ve always prided myself on being pretty athletically gifted–sports was all I did growing up–but running has provided a pretty shocking look at how truly out of shape I am. I thought by now that I would have a few 5K’s under my belt, and I could start looking at longer distance races, obstacle races, and, eventually, I’d be doing the triathlon I so badly want to do. In reality, I’ve been lucky to make it three minutes without wheezing and slowing down to walk.
Well, that has all changed now, because I am officially training for my first 5K! It’s the Women Run the Cities race (yeah we do) and it’s going down September 23 (two days after my birthday–what what!). So if any of my fellow Twin Citians happen to be out and about that day and see a rather large lady with an inadvertent bitch face on (see below), huffing and puffing along the mighty Mississippi–well, that’s probably me. You should say hi and cheer for me. Then go get me a water and a lawn chair.
The point of this horribly long-winded post is that this past week, I started training for said 5K. I loaded week 3 of C25K on the iPod, mapped out a little less than 3.1 miles on my favorite, slightly hilly, secluded river trail, and got to work. Let me just say, for the record (and to make myself sound more badass), it was sunny, horribly humid and 86°. And I was so not feeling it.
I moved slowly through the thirty minute program, concentrating on my breathing, my legs only slightly feeling like I was dragging the carcass of Bigfoot. When I finished, I had a ways to go to get back to my car, so I thought, “ok, I’m not completely dead, let’s run a bit more. Make it that tree and we’ll be done.” Guys, I don’t know what happened, but after awhile, I realized that I had long passed that tree. My mind had kind of spaced out and I was lost in the music (thank you, Ke$ha). Then, four minutes in, I decided, “well, why don’t you just keep going all the way to the car?“
Every other time I’ve run, I’ve only been able to focus on how out of breath I am, how slow I’m moving, how embarrassing it will be to run an actual race and come in dead last. I’ll be the girl crossing the finish line as night falls and the clean-up crew is sweeping the street. That’s the image on a constant loop in my mind while running.
But for whatever reason, I was able to completely zone out. My breathing was even, I wasn’t struggling. Both Ke$ha and I were feelin’ like P. Diddy. But of course, as soon as I realized how out of breath I wasn’t and how well I was doing, I immediately snapped back to my usual nagging running thoughts: “holy shit, I might literally die. What if I pass out? How embarrassing! Can a heart explode? What if mine does? I wonder if that guy would give me a piggy back ride the rest of the way?“
Just as I was about to slow my roll to walk, My new and improved inner voice cut through the bullshit and said, “keep going. Shut up and show a little character.” I sprinted the last few feet to my car.
I had just run for over eight minutes–the longest I’ve purposely run since high school. I ran at what I thought was a decent clip for 8 whole minutes after doing my usual training program. I know I have a ways to go, and say what you will, but I am crazy proud and it’s given me a little bit of confidence that running a 5K in six very short weeks might not be the craziest idea. Maybe I can do it. Scratch that–I know I can do it.
Have you run a 5K (or longer) race? What goals did you set for yourself during that race?
Like any other self-respecting Midwesterner, especially those with a strong German heritage, I love a potato. Mash it, fry it, bake it, roast it–I’ll take it however I can get it. This summer, thanks to the amazing local farmer’s markets, I’ve become slightly obsessed with baby red potatoes.
I’m also slightly obsessed with figuring out ways to use up the herbs in my herb garden, before your friendly neighborhood bunnies get to them. Who knew they had a taste for fresh oregano? Maybe the bunnies are off in their little bunny homes making a fresh red sauce for their Sunday pasta supper?
I normally would boil and mash these little potato nuggets up with butter, milk, and lots of salt and pepper. But we all know that kind of creamy goodness is not an option in my life these days.
The best part of these potatoes? They are small enough that, thanks to the olive oil, the outside gets so nice and crispy, while the inside stays warm and moist. So. Good.Want to make them even better? I know, I know, how’s that possible, right? Well, try serving them up with a few other summery Midwestern classics: corn on the cob and a caprese brat, both also from your local farmer’s market.
Make this un-recipe now, thank me later. Or, better yet, just bring me some potatoes and ketchup.
Herb Roasted Potatoes
A few baby red potatoes
Some olive oil
Herbs of your choosing (I used a handful each of parsley, oregano, chives, sage, and thyme. You can use dried herbs, you’ll just need a bit more.)
Couple cloves of garlic, smashed (I used six)
Generous sprinkling of salt & pepper
- Quarter the potatoes and chop the herbs.
- On a baking sheet, toss the potatoes and herbs with salt, pepper, and enough olive oil to coat.
- Place in the oven and roast at 425° for about 35-45 minutes, or until fork-tender.
Goals for August
1. Log 100 miles
2. Wear a pair of “normal size” pants
3. Finish Couch-to-5K
4. Complete 15 2-a-days
5. Lose 10 lbs
6. Log my food and exercise every day
7. Take a Zumba class
8. Cut coffee creamer out of my diet
9. Strength train 3 days per week
10. Complete 30 Day Shred
11. Log 100 push-ups, 100 squats, & 250 crunches per week
This is probably the best month I’ve experienced since I began this journey. I haven’t been very forthcoming with this info, but over the past few months–thanks to out of control hormones and, let’s be honest, out of control Manda Kay–I packed on 11 freaking pounds of bloat and water weight. Yikes, right? Well, since August 1, I’ve lost that 11 pounds, plus three more! I’m feeling less hormonally wacked out, spending oodles of time outside and with friends. I’ve been on point with my workouts and even signed up and began training for my first 5K (more on that this weekend). I’ve been feeling some serious love and support from everyone I’ve been coming in contact with (including a few very surprising sources), and just generally living a happy life.
Here’s the specifics on how August is shaping up:
#1: I’m well on my way. To date, I’ve logged about 80 miles. Awesome!
#2: In the one store I’ve tried, I’m not quite there. But I plan on doing more research this weekend, and of course, continuing to drop the lbs to help in the process.
#3: Again, not quite there, but I’m working on it! I have that big 5K coming up in September, after all!
#5, 6, 9, 10, & 11: All on track to be crossed out at the end of the month! I sort of looped strength training in with 30 Day Shred, since it’a big component of that workout, so next month I’ll probably continue with 30DS occasionally, but really focus more on getting on the weight machines in the gym–daunting! Regardless, between 30 DS, all those push-ups, squats, and ab work, not only am I getting my butt seriously kicked, but I’m totes going to be ripped…once I get all this fat off.
#7: Zumba’s happening this weekend. I think. I’m not sold that it’s something I want to be a part of, but I need to expose myself to new uncomfortable experiences and ways of moving my body.
#8: I lasted about a week. Coffee without creamer tastes like watered down nothing to me, a waste of good beans. Since I’m never going to give up coffee (though I have cut way back), I’ve gotten smarter about the creamer I’m using. I still use the artifical Coffeemate stuff, but I’m now using their sugar-free version (less carbs and calories) and religiously measuring the amount (don’t drink your calories!)
There you have it: my progress for the first half of this month! How are you doing on your goals? What have you accomplished this month? What are you struggling with? Let me know!
What if everything that’s happened so far, Amanda, was just practice for when things get really, really good? Are you ready for an even happier high, deeper love, louder laugh, and funkier chicken than you’ve ever known before?
Really, really soon–
Things have definitely been looking up for me lately and I’m thinking it’s a karma thing: you put positive vibes out, you get the same back; you do good, you get good. And, my friends, the gettin’ has been good!
After feeling static for so long, I finally feel like I’m back on the upward downward trend–I’m motivated, killing my workouts, eating great, experimenting and getting creative with food and my exercise, spending time with my friends, and finding balance in all of these things.
Earlier this week, with that idea of maintaining balance in mind, I took a rest day from working out and obsessing over calories to spend a sunny happy hour lakeside with a good friend and one of my favorite favorite singer/songwriters: Tristan Prettyman.
I’ve been a fan of Tristan’s for years, now. You know how you have maybe one or two go-to artists that no matter what’s happening in life or what you’re doing, how you’re feeling or looking to feel, their music is the perfect soundtrack? She is that for me. Sitting at work, driving, running, depressed, elated, whelmed–her perfectly simple music suits my life. All of it.
After grabbing a drink (vodka soda with lime: 70-ish calories, thank you), we headed out to the wharf to watch TP do her thang. The crowd assembled, only part of which you can see above, was daunting for someone (me) who doesn’t fair too well in new social situations that involve typically snobby suburbanites and their blonde extensions.
This time, though, it was different.
I don’t know if it was the fact that I knocked that first giant cocktail back pretty quickly, or the fact that one of my favorite people was standing a mere 20 feet away, but I felt oddly at ease. Sure, I had a few moments of “why doesn’t my hair look like that girl’s?” or “how fat do my legs look in these pants?” but for once, my brain wasn’t overrun with these Negative Nancy thoughts. They were fleeting guest stars instead of Emmy-winning leads.
I was able to enjoy myself. Which seems like no big deal, right? But it very much was. I haven’t felt that lack of self-consciousness since…never, maybe.
That feeling continued as Tristan wrapped up and we got to have a little chat with her. As my friend and I were debating going over to say hi, I remember thinking to myself, “if you don’t do it, this is going to be one of those things you regret. And we don’t do regret here anymore, Amanda.” So I may have gushed and fan girled a bit, but I did it. And she loved that my next tattoo (once I hit my goal weight) is going to be of one of her song lyrics that holds crazy special meaning to me. Tristan was so genuine, and gorgeous, and my height, and funny, and exactly what you want your favorite people to be like when you meet them.
We said goodbye to my new bestie, grabbed another drink, and settled down for dinner on the patio (house salad with balsamic and grilled salmon: under 600 calories, thank you). As I put myself into another situation where I would normally be so overly aware of everything and everyone–”is he staring at me? Why is he staring at me? Why is everyone staring at me?”–I found it was relatively painless.
I had a few more moments of feeling “less than”, especially as I squeezed into one of those stupidly ridiculous and infuriating plastic chairs with the arms (my big girls, you know which ones I’m talking about), but those moments were overshadowed by TP afterglow, the company by my side, the perfect breeze blowing off the lake, my amazing hunk of salmon, and the phenomenal kind of people watching that only Minnesota seems to consistently offer.
These little moments, that are so commonplace to most everyone else, and that I feel silly even mentioning, are what this journey is all about for me: overcoming fear and insecurity, finding confidence in my body, my voice, my presence.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past six months, it’s that this life is, indeed, a beautiful one.
If you’ve spent any amount of time on Pinterest, you’ve undoubtedly seen at least 12, 748 posts about overnight oats. If you live under a rock, or are my mother (Hi mom!), then let me tell you: overnight oats is oatmeal that you “cook” by mixing oats and some kind of liquid, then putting them in the fridge to hang out overnight. The oats absorb just enough of the liquid and soften. You know, like how oatmeal does.
Everyone has their own recipe for overnight oats, and their own favorite add-ins (the yumminess you add to flavor your oats). Well, this weekend I jumped on the bandwagon and made my own version of the blogger favorite. I have to admit that I’ve had my hesitations–wouldn’t the oats get soggy? Wouldn’t I end up with a watery mess? In short, no and no. The end result was a deliciously creamy, extremely filling, slightly chewy breakfast concoction.
I started with a nut butter jar at the end of it’s life cycle. If you’re like me, your nut butter obsession is out of control and you literally scrape the sides of the jar to gather every last bit of the stuff. So rather than recycling my empty-ish jar, I used it as the vessel for my oats. Then I added Quaker quick oats (which work surprisingly well for being instant oats), a little plain Chobani (another obsession), almond milk, and a dash of salt and sugar. I popped those bad boys in the fridge and went to bed dreaming of nut butter and oats frolicking together in a meadow. They were very happy.
The next morning, I was delighted to see how thick and creamy my oats were. Just like real oatmeal! Who would have guessed? To play up the nut butter flavor, I added a heaping tablespoon of chunky nut butter. And what goes better with nut butter than banana? Nothing, that’s what. So half a sliced banana went in as well. And then it was time to dive in.
I was so stuffed by the time I reached the bottom of the jar! Shortly after, and, very surprisingly, without my morning coffee, I headed out for a hike down by the river near my house. I had so much energy, you guys! Are overnight oats a miracle superfood? I think they just might be.
1/3 C oats (can use rolled, instant, or steel cut)
1/2 C milk (use your milk of choice–I prefer Silk almond)
1/2 C plain yogurt (again, use your favorite–I prefer Chobani plain greek yogurt)
1 tsp sugar
Dash of salt
Your favorite add-ins
- In an empty, not rinsed out nut butter jar, or another jar of your choosing, add everything but your mix-ins. Stir to combine. You may want to add more or less milk, depending on the consistency you prefer.
- Cover the jar and place it in the fridge overnight. This seems obvious, given the name of the recipe.
- These oats are eaten cold, but you could sit them out on the counter for a few minutes, or pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds to take the chill out.
- There are an endless possibility of add-ins you could add in: cinnamon and chunks of apple, berries or any kind of fruit, nuts, nut butter, banana, cereal or granola, pumpkin puree, applesauce, etc. Play around, have fun, and try different combinations!
For me, there’s a sense of calm that has surrounded this entire weight loss journey. From January 17, when I took my first step, to right this very moment, I have felt completely at peace with everything that has and has not happened.
What do I mean by that? Well, it means that I haven’t once wavered in my decision to permanently get rid of this huge burden that’s been slowly destroying my life. This time, I know that this weight loss is forever. I feel it deep inside of me. This struggle will be by no means solved immediately. It will be a lifelong journey that I must commit myself to each and every day. And when the scale doesn’t budge, when I don’t workout, or when I make a poor food choice, I don’t lose sleep worrying over it, as I’ve done in the past. It simply becomes part of my story, a moment to be learned from and improved upon.
By no means am I saying that this journey is easy for me, or that I haven’t experienced moments of weakness. There’s been entire weeks where I haven’t worked out–consistently getting myself to sweat continues to be my biggest challenge. My mind still frequently goes to that horrible negative, self-critical place–I see pictures of myself and still can’t help but mentally call myself names and get discouraged at how big I still am. My hormone balance is all out of wack, I’ve plateaued over and over, and I’ve slipped up with my food and portion sizes.
But even realizing the Everest-sized mountain I’m climbing, even realizing how much weight I have yet to lose, and even realizing that my problems with food and weight will still exist when I do get the pounds off, none of that has for one second made me want to throw in the towel. Not once have I thought, “what’s the point? Give me a cupcake!” Not once have I been tempted to revert to my old ways and give up on the big, beautiful life I’m making for myself.
This is huge for me, as a perpetual over-thinker, over-analyzer, over-eater. I’ve developed an internal calmness. I’m no longer yelling and negative and hating everyone and everything. I’m finding happiness and peace in who I am: past, present, future. Embracing flaws and past mistakes. Embracing my increasingly bright future.
This is not a diet. This is not me trying to get skinny. This is not me trying to conform for anyone else’s sake.
This is a new lifestyle. A new way of living my fabulously blessed life. This is me getting healthy and fit and finding my inner badass. This is me making the life I’ve always wanted for myself.
The sense of calm, acceptance, peace, and determination that comes with not only realizing that fact, but living it is monumental. Try it. Wake up each day with the intention of making the healthiest choices for your new normal. Realize that you may slip up from time to time, but after acknowledging and learning from your mistakes, move on. You’re not perfect, but no one expects you to be. Get your mind right and the rest will naturally follow. Make peace with you, be proud of you.
Tell me one thing you’re proud of today.