Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Things I'm thankful for....

The holidays are not my favorite time of year for many reasons, mostly because I associate them with family gatherings in my younger years that involved a lot of not so nice words exchanged usually from family members to me about my weight. I think a common misconception about overweight people is if you tell them they're fat they will want to diet and lose weight. On the contrary, the more my family made fun of me the more I wanted to eat. Like most plump people, I was very unhappy and my family only made me more unhappy. The only thing that made me feel good was food.

I have made many changes in my life to become happier and healthier, the first change I made was about 10 years ago, I distanced myself from the negative influences in my life (aka - my family) and instead of wallowing in everything that made me unhappy I tried to focus on what truly made me happy. It wasn't something I discovered overnight and I'm still learning, but I no longer view food as a source of happiness. Don't get me wrong, I DO really enjoy food. In fact, I enjoy it more now than I ever did when I was a 'Fatty McFatterson'. Now I view food as fuel for all the other fun stuff I REALLY enjoy doing.

I enjoy eating REAL food and cooking healthy meals that taste amazing. I take time to prepare my food and find the freshest ingredients and the yummiest recipes. I love trying new recipes and new foods that I never thought I'd like. I love exploring exotic flavors and spices and blending it all together to create culinary magic that pleases the palate and doesn't go straight to my hips.

So, this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for my health and my new appreciation of food. I'm thankful for all the fabulous friends I've made over the last 10 years and especially more recently in the running world, they are my family now. I'm even thankful for my family because the difficult times I had growing up made me the strong, independent, confident, and courageous person I am today. I'm thankful that through running and my journey of a thousand miles I've reconnected with my mom and some old family friends.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am cooking for my mom, my brother, and my grandmother. The menu will include mostly vegetarian dishes with a small roasted turkey breast on the side. I've said it before and I'll say it again - when planning a meal meat should be the accessory not the main attraction and really isn't necessary at all. Here's what we will be having (be prepared to drool a little): Butternut squash and apple soup, Wild rice stuffed acorn squash, Veggie gratin (think green bean casserole only better), roasted brussel sprouts and wild mushrooms, rosemary mashed potatoes, traditional stuffing with dried cranberries, steamed green beans, homemade cranberry chutney, vegan cornbread muffins, and a small roasted turkey breast. For dessert I baked a cranberry swirl cheesecake and prepared a cran-raspberry compote to serve it with and I will also have my famous pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap pecan crust and caramel swirl. Here's what the cranberry swirl cheesecake looks like:

You may think I've been so busy planning this meal and preparing for it that I haven't had time to run, well you would be wrong. Last week after the half marathon, I did have a little trouble getting motivated early in the week to do much running, but I made up for it at the end of the week. I ran 7 miles Friday night when I got home from work. Then I got up super early Saturday morning and ran a 'sunrise special' (to borrow a term from a fellow runner) 8 miler before I headed into Boston to start my stair climb training off right with a free bootcamp at the Bunker Hill Monument.

We didn't climb the actual monument because there was a huge tour group there. Instead we climbed the 4 staircases that surround the monument multiple times and mixed in some fun body weight exercises in between. Squats, lunges, frog leaps, jumping jacks, burpees, crunches, etc. and laps around the monument up and down the stairs. I felt pretty good for the whole workout. After all, I eat hills for breakfast so a few stairs are like a snack for me.

Sunday I was suppose to run 14 miles according to my Goofy training plan, but I was also planning to run a 5K/5M race with a few friends at 10:00am so it would be tough to do both. Oh and when I woke up Sunday morning I felt every single one of those stairs that I had climbed. So, again I headed out for a 'sunrise special' and squeaked in 13 miles before heading to the race. I had planned on doing the 5 miler, but when my friend said she was only doing the 5K I was super excited and did not even try to talk her into doing more. The race was fun and it was a perfect day for it. Sunny and mid-50s with a little wind.

After the race I went back to my friend Cherie's house and her son Mitchell made us the best cup of coffee in the World! I'm not kidding, this kid really knows how to brew a good cup o' joe. He also made us chocolate chip pancakes and I had brought over some pumpkin bread that we devoured too. What a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning.

This week is a short work week and then it's a 4 day weekend! My running plans for the weekend include a 5K turkey trot, perhaps a short fun run on black Friday, then more Goofy training Saturday and Sunday with a 10 miler followed by a 16 miler. This will be my first 16 miler since Chicago. After the half marathon and my long run last weekend I can say without a doubt that my body is ready for long distances again. I am loving the cooler temeratures and quiet mornings in the backroads of New England. It really doesn't get much better than this.

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