Mile Marker 2: Park 2 Park 5K

After having run my first 5K, I didn't want to get out of the habit. I saw results, and I didn't want to risk being a "once and done" racer. Right away, I turned around and did the exact same 5K training plan, the only difference being that I knew with certainty that I could run 3.2 miles without stopping, so running on and off for 25 minutes at a time was a breeze. I pushed my speed, I concentrated on staying loose and relaxed, and I got myself ready for race #2 - the Park 2 Park 5K.

So not only could I run with more confidence (because really, its all a "mind over matter" thing, isn't it? Or as someone in my WW meeting put it, "Running is mental." And then someone else chimed in and said, "No kidding, its mental!"), but I was also running with less of me. At this point, I had lost more than 10% of my body weight, and the health benefits from just 5%-10% loss are amazing. 

As I was running with less of me, however, I was starting to run with more people - my dad and brother-in-law, Seth, joined me for this race, and not too long after, I did the Grand Rapids Children's Marathon with H and my sister Valerie and her three kiddos*. Now I'm looking forward to running the Tulip Time 5K (potentially) with a whole crew - Steve, Dad, Mom, Seth, and my friend of 27 years, Rebecca, and her mom, Brenda. And if I need to fly out to Tucson to run a 5K with Jane & Mark, I'll totally do that, because that would mean I'd run a race with every member of my side of the family. (Just say the word, guys!)

*BTW, I could write a whole different post about what it means for my kids to see me lead an active lifestyle.

I don't have any tie-in for this recipe, its just a fav. Maybe try it for Easter brunch, if you're looking for something new!

Baked Chilaquiles
Adapted from Pointless Meals

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)
12 corn tortillas (14g each), cut into 1" pieces
8 oz. diced green chiles
2 cups part-skim shredded mozzarella
4 eggs
2 cups fat free milk
1/2 teaspoon cumin (more to taste)
Salt and pepper 
Salsa, sour cream, hot sauce for serving

Preheat oven to 375 and spray a 9x13 glass baking dish with nonstick spray.

Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet. Add onion and saute until translucent; add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes more. 

Place half of the cut-up tortillas in the bottom of the baking dish, top with half of the green chiles, 1 cup of the cheese, and all of the onion mixture. Top with the remaining tortillas, then the chiles, and lastly, the remaining 1 cup of cheese.  

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cumin, salt, and pepper; pour over the tortillas/eggs/chiles/onions.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until eggs are set and are starting to brown on the edges. Let stand for 10 minute before cutting into pieces. Top with salsa, sour cream, and hot sauce, if desired.

Serves 8, 5 points per serving (sour cream would change points value)


Mile Marker 1: Coast Guard 5K

So why am I thinking of the last 33 weeks in "Mile Markers"? 

Last summer, I decided I would do a Couch to 5K program, and I'll admit, my motivations weren't so noble. Steve has been a runner for a few years now, even doing the Chicago Marathon in 2011.  As much as he tried to convince me to run and work out, I was dead-set against running. So convinced was I that I decided to train and race, and if I hated it, at least I could say I gave it a try "so get off my back." :) 

Turns out, though, that I got hooked, and in the next eight months I would run another 5K, sign up for 2 more 5K races, the 8K Shamrock Shuffle, and register for a half marathon.

The first race I ran was the Coast Guard 5K in Grand Haven, Michigan. Up to that point, I hadn't run more than 3 miles, and that was with a 5 minute break in the middle of that training run. But I had heard about this "Race Day Bump" so I was pretty confident that I could run it beginning to end. At least that was my goal, to finish the race running. I started out at a comfortable pace, and was passed up by quite a few runners. But about halfway through, I started passing all of those folks who blasted out at the beginning. And, honestly, that felt pretty good. Then I turned a corner on the course and it became painfully clear that I was running in a coastal town built on sand dunes. But at that point, I was running near a family with two young kids, between 4-6 years old or so. And I thought to myself, "Seriously? If these kids can run up and down these hills, I can too. My lungs can handle it!" And once I came around that last  curve and ran the last mile along the shore of Lake Michigan, I was in my stride. Anything could be easy after running those dunes...

My time wasn't fabulous, but I finished running, and that was the most important thing to me.

In the 9 weeks of my training program, I had two goals - prepare for the race, and lose weight. I accomplished the first goal, but as for the second goal, I gained three pounds during training. Gained weight. While exercising. I didn't even think that was possible. 

So that's when I joined Weight Watchers. It couldn't be just diet. It couldn't be just exercise. It had to be both. And when I lost 3.8 pounds after my first week, that's when it clicked. 

So as I saw my first 3.2 miles pass in my race, this is the first mile I passed in my own journey - finishing my first race and finishing my first week on Weight Watchers. Both successfully!

Here's the plan that I followed for training - it worked for me, if this doesn't float your boat, I hope you find one that does! (I hear the Couch-2-5K apps are awesome.)

5/3 Riverbank Run 5K Training Plan

This recipe was one from my first week. You know that awesome, bubbly, gooey Spinach Artichoke Dip that you get at restaurants with chips, and you tell yourself that its healthy because it has spinach in it? Here's a lighter version that you can have for an entree! That you can make ahead! That you can freeze! Its a win-win-win-win! 

And how about a little healthy carbo-loading before a race?

Spinach Artichoke Pasta
Originally from Budget Savvy Diva, found via Pinterest

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed
13 1/2 oz frozen and thawed artichoke hearts, roughly chopped (or canned, packed in water) 
13 1/2 oz uncooked pasta (rotini, penne, etc...)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
8 oz low fat sour cream
8 oz fat free cream cheese
salt and pepper
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

Cook pasta according to directions on the box, but 1 minute or so less, since the pasta will keep cooking in the oven during baking. Before you drain the pasta, reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water.

While pasta cooks, heat oil in pan and saute onions for 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute more. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, mix lemon juice, lemon zest, parmesan cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese. Stir in cooked onions and garlic. Add pasta and stir to coat. Add in spinach and chopped artichokes, 1/4 cup pasta water, salt, and pepper.

Place mixture into a greased 2.5-3 quart baking dish, or a glass 9x13 dish (I prefer this dish, as its easier to portion out). Top with shredded mozzarella cheese. 

Bake until cheese is melted and golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Yield: 8 servings


Mile Markers and Monkey Smoothies

I have arrived - last week at Weight Watchers, I made my goal weight! Next step: maintenance. Hmm....

What maintenance means in the WW program is that I get 4 more points per day (yes...) and I have to maintain a weight within two pounds on either side of my goal weight for six weeks.
What I'm going to do here, though, is not part of the WW program, but something that I was thinking about this evening while I was running at the gym and watching "The Biggest Loser." They were taking time to reflect on their time at the ranch and look at how far they've come. So that's what I've decided to do here. Each week for the next six weeks of maintenance, I'm going to look at different Mile Markers along my weight loss journey, different events, decisions, or turning points along the way that have some significance to where I am today with my health. (Why did I choose "Mile Markers?" Check back on Thursday:)

You might be thinking to yourself, "Okay, but where's the recipe for that awesome almond-banana-chocolate protein shake that she drank when she got home from the gym?" Recipes will come, and this isn't morphing into a weight-loss blog or post all of my inner thoughts/dreams/wishes/fears blog. There is a place for those, but this will stay about the food I eat. But the way I approach the food I eat has changed so drastically, not only in the last 33 weeks, but the last year or so as well.

So look for my first Mile Marker later this week. I hope you'll stick with me, and maybe come away with something to buoy your own pursuits as well! What are the Mile Markers on your journey, finished or not?

Oh, okay. Here's the recipe.

Its not a "points-bargain" but it is a good, filling post-workout recovery snack.

Monkey Smoothie
my very own invention!

3/4 cup skim milk
2 bananas, frozen (peel then freeze; won't get goopy)
1/4 cup plain fat free greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons organic or natural chocolate syrup
2 Tablespoons almond butter (I like Justin's Almond Maple Butter)

Put it all in a food processor and let 'er rip! Let it go for about 1 minute, until all banana pieces are well blended and mixture is frothy and full.

Yield: 3 servings (5 points per serving)

Chocolate Fix

How have I not mentioned these before?!?!

These are a mainstay for me, these days. And as a bonus, H can easily help me make these, since its just dumping everything in the food processor and hitting the switch. (Although he does take a little supervision with the switch, otherwise he would just puree it into smithereens, since he loves watching it swirl around!)

Do you remember the handy scoop from these lovelies? I use the same scoop for mini muffins or two scoops for a standard muffin.

Oh, and by the way, mini muffins are only 1 point. Did you hear that? ONE POINT! Woo Hoo!

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins
Modified from healthyisalwaysbetter.tumblr.com


1 ½ cups uncooked rolled oats
¼ cup egg substitute (or 2 egg whites)
½ cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
¾ cups baking cocoa powder
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
¼ cup agave sweetener
¼ cup sugar
½ cup mini chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350. Spray a mini muffin tin or line a regular 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and spray those as well.

Put oatmeal into a food processor or blender until oatmeal is pulverized. Add remaining ingredients (except mini chips) into food processor and mix until well-combined. Add mini chips and pulse only two or three times until combined.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and remove to a cooling rack.

Makes 36 mini muffins or 18 standard muffins.

Or a combination of 12 standard muffins and 12 mini muffins (my combo of choice).

Serving size is for one mini-muffin. For larger size muffins (standard, not jumbo), fill cup 3/4 full.  
One mini muffin = 1 point
One standard muffin = 2 points



Last night, in preparation for a snow storm, I made these (new favorite quesadilla) using leftovers from this. Then I made this for my lunches when we do actually have school this week. I made these for a treat, and they turned out great but cannot stay in our house long. I made this in advance for dinner, but will save those for another busy night this week, and instead, am about to throw this together in the crock pot.

Drive safely, everyone!