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The Post I Dreaded

This is the end of Up Fit Creek. :( I’ve been working really hard to keep this blog new, innovative and updated regularly. Unfortunately, it’s just not working out. My life has changed drastically since Up Fit Creek began. Healthy living is still extremely important to me, but there’s so much more that I just don’t feel “fits in” here.

This isn’t ‘goodbye’, though. It’s merely a transition. I’ve been trying to maintain 2 blogs for quite some time. Obviously that hasn’t been working out for either one of them. Rather than give up on both because it’s too difficult to maintain two, I’m shifting all of my content to the other blog. It’s still me. It’s just me more well-rounded. :)

Please update your readers to the following address: http://pearlsandbluejeans.blogspot.com

I’m going to continue reading and commenting on your blogs, just from my new location. I’m also going to be switching my tweeting to my new handle: @pearlsbluejeans. I’m working on getting my profile all set up and re-following all of you from there.

I don’t want to post this whole “I’m going to miss all the great friends I’ve made…” yada, yada, yada here because I’m hoping you’ll all continue reading at my new location. See ya on the flip side!

Recipes in Review

We’ve been trying a lot of new eats in our house lately. Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve been eating as well as what we thought. None of these are originals by moi so I’ve posted my photos and reviews with links to the recipe source.

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I can’t believe I’ve never shared this first dish on the blog before! It’s one of our all-time favorites, Spicy Beef Noodles from Laura’s Lean Beef.

My husband doesn’t typically like Asian flavors (doesn’t like soy sauce at all), but the peanut butter masks it enough that he doesn’t notice. He actually requested this for his birthday this year and regularly asks for it to be added to the menu. You can adjust the level of heat by how much or how little red pepper flakes you use. A few of my vegetarian friends have made this and suggest using either soy crumbles or 1/2 can of pinto beans in place of the beef. Genius!

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Next is Nacho-rific Stuffed Chicken from Hungry Girl.

Confession: I have her show set to DVR. To be honest, the show is awful. It’s cheesy and she annoys me a little in her delivery. All that aside, I have seen a few really great ideas and recipes. This is one of them.

We really liked this dish and I’ll definitely be making it again. Assembly is pretty messy, but kinda fun.

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The May 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living had some fantastic pasta recipes for the summer. I LOVE me some arugula so I was immediately drawn to the Whole-Wheat Shells with Tuna & Arugula. I knew this wasn’t something my husband would love so it was all for me. I made a big batch on Monday and portioned out the leftovers for lunches during the week.

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Yum! It was good served immediately, but I actually preferred the leftovers served cold. I did make a few modifications to the original recipe. I used 2 cans of chunk light tuna in water because I couldn’t find jarred fillets. I also skipped drizzling the extra 2 tablespoons of EVOO over the top before serving.

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Then there was one we didn’t love so much…Cheese Ravioli with Pumpkin Sauce.

 

I don’t think this is a bad dish. I think we’ve just discovered that we’re not fans of pumpkin in savory dishes. Give me a pumpkin muffin, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin fluff or any other pumpkin sweet any day, though.

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Last, but certainly not least, Triple Layer Cookies & Cream Crunch Bars from Jessica @ How Sweet It Is.  I made them for a church picnic a few weeks ago and people are STILL raving about them. I didn’t cut them until we got to the picnic so check out the photos from her blog as well as the recipe. You’re going to want to make these. Today. Right now, actually. They’re amazing.

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My mission right now is to rely on meals that don’t require turning on the oven. As summer heats up, I do whatever I can to keep the house cool and save our air conditioner from working any harder than it needs to.

What’s your favorite no-bake meal?

Tank of gas: $60

Season pass: $70

2 Packed lunches: about $5

Stuffed otter: $8

Spending the day at the zoo with Peanut…

PRICELESS ! ! !


 

I missed you all! We had a great day at the zoo on Tuesday. Come evening, I was exhausted and my eyes couldn’t focus on the computer screen. I’ll be back tomorrow with a brand new post and my PLANKS Challenge update. Stay tuned!

Detox Day

I had a not-so-stellar weekend in the food department. There was a cookout with friends Friday night, a wedding reception on Saturday evening and the doughnut box at church Sunday morning.

foods I don’t normally eat + a couple too many beers + not enough fruits & veggies = an icky tummy

Monday morning I was still feeling a little sluggish, mentally and physically. I was a little disgusted with myself for falling off the wagon. Why did I eat what I did? I’m all for indulging on occasion so I don’t feel deprived, but some of the things I ate didn’t even taste good while I was eating it. The more I Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda’d on myself, the worse I felt and the harder it was to get my mind around a way to get back on track.

A trip to the gym for strength training was on my agenda, but I struggled to find any motivation. I drug my feet, stalled and tried to think of a good excuse. I couldn’t come up with one. The words of a friend kept running through my brain:

No one has ever regretted working out.

Those words have saved me many times and this was one of those days. I got dressed, put Peanut in the stroller and we headed out.  The fresh air started to rejuvenate me a little bit and the 1-mile walk to the gym got my head in the right place. I still felt pretty ‘blah’ during my first set of deadlifts, but once the endorphins kicked in, I was unstoppable! I increased my weights on almost every exercise and really kicked it into high gear on my treadmill intervals afterward. My friend was right (again). I definitely didn’t regret my workout. It was the perfect way to get back-on-track for the week. I could practically feel my bad weekend choices being sweated out. :)

The sun was shining when we left the gym and headed for home. I really wanted to take Peanut for a longer stroll, but I had agreed to watch a friend’s daughter for the afternoon and didn’t have enough time.

For lunch, I made a batch of Kath‘s Chickpea Parmesan aka Chickpea Pizza Scramble. It was so quick and easy to make. And it really does taste like pizza. So yummy! I subbed leftover zucchini for the eggplant and parmesan cheese for the mozzarella. We only had cheddar in the fridge and that just didn’t sound appealing. The recipe says it makes 2-3 servings, but I divided mine into 4 (to get more meals out of it) and served it with a little whole wheat couscous.

When I spotted the recipe, I tweeted @KathEats to see if it would reheat well. She tweeted back that it probably would, just to leave the cheese off and add before serving.  I portioned out the leftovers and, Voila! Quick, healthy grab-and-go lunches. (Note: I had another portion yesterday for lunch and Kath was absolutely right. It reheats extremely well.) It’s amazing how eating something really healthy can make you actually crave more healthy food. 

My afternoon was spent playing outside with two very energetic one-year-olds. It felt like a bonus workout. :) Once Peanut’s play buddy left, it was time to start dinner, Pork Lo Mein.

I found the recipe in my Weight Watchers Ready, Set, Go! cookbook. One thing I really love about the new PointsPlus program is that it “rewards” you for eating more whole foods rather than processed junk. Most of the recipes in the new materials reflect this so I feel like I’m making something healthy rather than something that’s just low in calories. (Disclaimer: I do work for Weight Watchers so I’m a little biased.)

This one was a hit in our house! My husband really doesn’t care for soy sauce so it’s hard for me to find any Asian foods that he’ll like. This one definitely made the cut. He ate two portions, Peanut plowed through some “noo noos” (noodles) and I enjoyed mine, too. A side salad was the perfect accompaniment. I’ll be making it again for sure. and I both enjoyed it and Peanut was loving the noodles. I’ll definitely be making it again!

I got a serious sweet tooth right before bed, but I grabbed a handful of blackberries instead of chocolate. I wasn’t confident that it would kick the craving, but it does. I went to sleep feeling much better, inside and out.

FitBlog Chats

PLANKS Challenge Week 1 Recap

For my first week of the PLANK challenge, I tackled plank on my forearms. My goal was to do this 4x per week and I did it!

Here’s what I accomplished:

Day 1: 1 minute, 2 sets
Day 2: 75 seconds, 2 sets
Day 3: 93 seconds, 2 sets
Day 4: 2 minutes, 2 sets

Horay! The 2 minutes was tough, but I was proud of myself for holding on and getting there. This week I’m moving on to high plank. I’ll report back next Wednesday with my results.

Race Recap: A New PR!

Saturday morning I ran a 5k in my fastest time EVER! I beat my previous record by one second, but it’s a PR nonetheless and I’ll take it.

Due to severe flooding in our area, the course was switched up a bit. I was a little bummed when I first found out. It was on the same bike path, just a different section. The original course was on the really flat part of the path that I’ve run a million times. The new route had us going downhill on the way out and uphill at a slight grade on the way back. Not a huge deal, but I don’t like change and it just made me a little nervous. The race ended up being a really small field of about 20 people, mostly men. My insecurities crept up and I found myself just praying that I wouldn’t be last. I know that’s not what it’s about, but it’s still a huge hangup for me.

I started out a little too fast and quickly felt it in my breathing. I reined it in a little and settled into a pace that felt comfortable. I made myself find that point before I looked down at my Garmin. I was really glad when I found that my “happy pace” was still faster than what I normally run. I struggle with keeping a steady pace, but managed to stay pretty consistent for the first two miles, running splits of 9:33 and 9:58 respectively.

That’s when the hill kicked in. It’s more of a grade than a visible “Oh, here comes the hill.” I could still feel it, mostly in my calves where I was already a little sore from my New Rules of Lifting for Women workout on Friday. At one point they started to cramp a bit so I decided to walk a little. That hurt even worse so I picked back up to a jog and rode it out to the finish, obviously at a slower pace. The last 1/4 mile was by far the hardest. My body was done, but I was so close to a PR and I wanted it BAD! My legs felt like Jell-o, but I gunned it and gave it everything I had. I stopped the time on my watch as I hit the line and was a little scared to look down. When I did and saw that 30:59 I smiled and did a little internal happy dance.

A good friend from church is a pretty serious (and very fast) runner and had come out to do the race “just for fun.” He was cheering me on at the finish line which was pretty cool. Once I got some water, he asked me how my run had been. I was a little embarassed to admit that 30:59 was a PR for me. I mean, this is Mr. I-just-won-this-5k-and-I’ve-run-the-Boston-Marathon-twice. Instead of laughing, he was extremely supportive and almost as excited as I was about my accomplishment. While we waited for the awards ceremony, we had a great discussion about running being a personal sport. One person’s goal might be to run a 4 minute mile pace while another person’s can be just to complete a 5k. Both goals are equally as exciting to achieve for the invidivual that set them.

That talk really made me feel so positive about my running. I want to get my 5k under 30 minutes so badly. Some days it seems unachievable and other days it feels just plain silly that I’m actually shooting for a time most “real” runners would consider to be super slow. Having this discussion with someone I respect as a runner made me remember that I run, therefore I’m a real runner. I accomplish something amazing every time I get out there and put one foot in front of the other. My goals are my own. They don’t have anything to do with what anyone else is doing. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quote:

The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

(Baz Luhrman, Wear Sunscreen)

In this case, the race really was with myself. I was the only female in the 20-29 year old division so I got a gold medal!

I’ve received participation medals before, but never as an award based on where I finished. It was pretty cool. I was the 2nd female to finish, but the overall places weren’t divided out by male/female so the boys swept those. The race organizers felt bad when they realized their mistake and said they’d mail them to the top 3 ladies, but we all said it was okay.

There was another first at this race, but it was bittersweet. Remember my not-so-supportive support person? I finished ahead of her and she was not happy. Not even one little bit. This has only happened one other time when she had to pee really, really bad and couldn’t put in any real effort. It didn’t seem to phase her then, but this time she was visibly upset. I congratulated her as she crossed the finish line, but she just rolled her eyes and went and stood off to the side by herself. I let her have her space. At first I felt a little guilty for having passed her, but then I realized how silly that was. My race had absolutely nothing to do with her.  By the time we got in our cars she was speaking to me again although it was still obviously bothering her. I refused to let her mood rain on my parade. I just remembered my quote and smiled all the way home.

:)

Peanut and I had a pretty full day of errands yesterday. When we got home, I discovered the water in our town had been shut off for maintenance. Nice of them to let us know ahead of time, right? The radio said it could be anywhere from one hour to a day. Outstanding. 

I made a quick trip to the small grocery store to buy jugs of water. Apparently everyone had already been there because they were sold out. Lucikly we had a few bottles of water in our camper so I brought that in and decided we’d try to get by with that until it came back. The only other option was to drive 30 minutes back to the next closest store and, with gas at nearly $4/gallon, I wanted to avoid that if at all possible.

I was relieved when I realized that the dish I’d planned for supper required no water. It was a cinch to mix up and pop in the oven. Shortly before it was ready, I got started on making the rice.

Rice requires water.

Crap.

I really didn’t want to use any of the bottled water because I knew we’d want it for drinking and teeth brushing if the water stayed out all evening. That’s when I remembered that we had these:

I don’t normally buy a lot of convenience foods like this because a) they’re almost always higher in sodium and b) rice really isn’t that hard or time-consuming to make so I hate paying extra for them. The only reason I’d picked them up was because they were on sale and I had a coupon, actually making them less expensive than the equivalent quantity of regular brown rice.

A quick 1 minute zap in the microwave and they were ready. I could definitely taste the added salt, but overall it was still pretty good. It made a good accompaniment for our main course, Poppy Seed Chicken.

I found several versions of this recipe online and morphed them all together to create my own.

Poppy Seed Chicken

makes 6 servings

1 1/2 cups cooked, cubed chicken (I used boneless, skinless breasts)
1 can reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
3 teaspoons poppy seeds, divided
3 tablespoons reduced-calorie butter, melted (I used Country Crock Light)
25 reduced-fat butter crackers, such as Ritz
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with non-stick spray.

2. Melt the butter in the microwave. Crush 20 of the crackers and mix into the melted butter. Set aside.

3. Stir together the chicken, soup, sour cream and 1 teaspoon of the poppy seeds. Crush the remaining 5 crackers and stir them in. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.

4. Spread the cracker/butter topping evenly across the top of the chicken mixture.

5. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds and the cheese.

6. Bake 20-25 minutes, until bubbly and heated through.

This was a HUGE hit in our house! My husband isn’t a huge fan of casseroles, but he raved about it and went back for seconds. He liked that it was creamy without being too heavy. Peanut ate a large spoonful and then asked for more. It was great comfort food on a cold, rainy day.

The water did finally come back on around 8pm, but we were under a boil advisory so we made do with our rations of bottled water through the night and into this morning. I didn’t realize how much I rely on water until I didn’t have any

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In other news, I’m taking part in the FitBlog Chats PLANKS Challenge!

FitBlog Chats

I’ve been doing plank as part of my New Rules of Lifting for Women Stage 2 workouts so I have a benchmark. Right now, I’m at 2 sets of 60 seconds on my elbows. This is what I did yesterday for Day 1 of the challenge.

Rather than increasing my time, I’m going to aim to try out new plank variations, like some of those Susan posted on Morgan’s blog today. I’m going to do a different variation each week. The first day of that week will be a benchmark. Then, I’ll add time during each effort at that variation. Here are the variations I want to try:

  • Week 1: Plank on Elbows
  • Week 2: High Plank
  • Week 3: Plank with Alternating Leg Lift
  • Week 4: Plank, Elbows on Ball
  • Week 5: Plank, Feet on Ball, Elbows on Floor
  • Week 6: Plank, Feet on Bench, Elbows on Stability Ball

I do realize that some of these are pretty dag on tough and my time at the end of each week may not be very long. Still, it’s all about improving so as long as I can go longer than I did on the first day, I’ll call it a success.

I’m really excited to follow along with everyone’s progress and to post my own as I go.

Let’s get plankin’!

I was really excited to share this post with you because I had a great race! When I got home to upload my pics, every single one of them said it had an error and couldn’t be moved from my camera to the computer. WTH?!?! Lots of people from the race staff were taking pictures and said they’d be online, but they’re not up yet. I’ll try to add them later, but for now this will be a pictureless post.

Saturday brought a beautiful morning and I was feeling really good about the race. We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. It was a bit muggy, but not too hot, not too cold and there was a gentle breeze. It was warmer than I had anticipated so I had to rethink my race-day attire kind of at the last minute. Goodbye running skirt with built-in pants and wicking t-shirt. Hello running shorts and tank top.

I’ve run, walked and cycled the bike path where the race was held. When I got to the start/finish line, my first thought was “Oh crap.” We were starting much further down on the trail than I’d expected which meant we’d run to the end and back. No big deal, except this was the hilly part of the bike path. Really, really hilly. No joke hills. I felt a little defeated because I’m not very good at running hills to begin with and I haven’t done much of it at all lately. Oh well. Minor inconvenience, but nothing was going to break my spirit.

When the gun fired, I started off easy and found my groove. I’m really bad about starting off too fast, but I felt like I did a better job of controlling myself this time. As tempting as it was, I tried hard not to look down at my Garmin until I’d reached the 1/2 mile point. I wanted to listen to my body in order to find the pace where I was comfortable instead of letting the display determine that. When I looked down, I was surprised. Turns out my comfortable spot was at a faster pace than I normally run. Instead of psyching myself out and telling myself that I needed to slow down, I just went with it.

At the first hill, I started to get a little nervous. It’s down then up, so I used my momentum and just kept my feet moving. Before I knew it I was at the top. That wasn’t so bad! Conquering that one early in the race boosted my confidence and pushed me to tackle the other, more steep hills a little ways down the trail. Once I got through the hills, I felt on top of the world. Yes, I’d have to run back up the hills I’d run down on the way out, but I was ready for them!

As I neared the turn around, I noticed my 5k buddy looking a little gimpy. When she saw me, she pulled up a little and I caught up to her quickly. Turns out she wasn’t injured, but she had to pee really, really bad. Unfortunately, there were no restroom facilities along the course and no spot in the woods to squat that wasn’t visibile to everyone on the path. We stayed together for a little ways and she said we’d tackle the hills together, but she needed to slow to walk after a short distance and told me to go ahead. She was near tears in pain and I encouraged her to pull off and go across the street to the gas station about half way back to the start/finish line. (Turns out she didn’t. Her pride and ultra-competitiveness wouldn’t let her.) I felt pretty bad for leaving her behind, but I knew she’d do the same thing in my situation and I knew I wouldn’t be upset with her if she did.

My self-doubt kicked in when I reached the hilly part of the course. However, my playlist was jammin’, my body felt great and I just kept pounding the pavement. I felt so good, in fact, that I thought my pace had slowed. This is when the Garmin served as great motivation. One look at my wrist confirmed that I was still keeping up my steady, fast-for-me pace. Hello, adrenaline! I kicked it into high gear as I crested the last hill and realized I was in the home stretch. I gave it everything I had for that last .25 of a mile and it paid off!

My official time on the clock was 31:59, but my watch (which I started as I crossed the line) said 31:32. In my world, this is AMAZING! I was (and still am) on top of the world!

To put it in perspective:

All-Time PR - 31:00

Post-Baby PR – 33:06

Last 5k (4/16/11) – 33:40

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