Monday, March 31, 2014

#27: Happy almost April Fools!

I don't normally pull April Fools pranks, and I've been lucky (knock on wood) that they don't normally get pulled on me. 

This year, get creative. Don't do those same old tired pranks that have been around forever. Seriously, I'm pretty sure I saw the "nail polish on soap" thing on an episode of Leave It To Beaver once, and even he thought it was corny. 

However, if someone would like to do this to my yard, I surely wouldn't mind...

It would save me from having to buy them all myself, I can never convince Shane to let me pick some up at the store. 

And if Shane did this to our fridge, you'd bet it'd stay that way. How cute would it be to have your butter and milk smile at you every day? 

Just be careful not to anthropomorphize (attribute human personality to) your food too much, or it might seem pretty grisly to take a scoop out of that applesauce jar.   

Being on a diet, this next prank might be more of a blessing in disguise. Do you know how many calories REAL brownies have?!

It seems that nutrition isn't exactly a concern on April Fools though. From what I can tell on Pinterest, it looks like these parents throw out all the rules on April 1st. Hope they're ready for all the tummy aches on April 2nd. Why not eat a whole lot of candy instead of fruit? It's not like there's cavities we need to be worrying about or anything. 

How about a grilled cheese made with pound cake and frosting? 

And sure, broccoli tastes much better when it's made from green apple tootsie rolls, frosting, and sprinkles. 

I guess they figure as long as you eat your meatloaf with mashed potato frosting cupcakes, it all balances out somehow. 

Anything involving air horns, party poppers, firecrackers, popping balloons, etc., is almost guaranteed to make a person pee their pants, so if you try one of those, you'd best be ready with a towel. 

I wanna do this at work just to spice up the decor a bit.

Let me just warn you though, if anyone EVER tries to pull the following pranks on me, I'll never speak to you again. These are just evil. 

Notice the source on that one? I have a feeling they're just trying to get us traumatized by store bought cookies and have to satisfy our cravings at the mall. And aren't you glad they offered the "safe alternative" of mayo over toothpaste? 

But why stop with just cookies? Why not ruin all desserts with a nice toothpaste frosting. Y'all people are sick if you think this is a good idea. 

Seriously, is nothing sacred? The only thing that would save me from these donuts is that I don't like cream or jelly donuts anyways. 

So Happy April Fools! Have fun with it! But really, if it involves mayo or toothpaste instead of frosting, you've crossed aline. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

#26: Weekly weigh in

To see all past weigh ins, click here. To see my whole weight loss journey, click here

Wow, is it already time for another weigh in? This weekend I made some poor eating choices, which I'm sure will be reflected in next week's weigh in, but as for this week, we're still doing good. 

My progress: I've lost 5lbs since last week for a total of 20lbs lost...I'm now at 206lbs.
22.2% of my goal complete. 

Shane's progress: He's lost 5lbs since last week for a total of 25lbs lost...he's at 284lbs.
20.2% of his goal complete. 

We have been hitting the gym which has helped out a lot both in burning calories and also giving us an energy boost. Before we started working out, we felt sluggish all day, especially after work. Now we come home from work and change right into our workout clothes, and the exercise keeps us pumped up until bedtime. I'd love to be able to wake up early and get our workout done before work to reap the benefits all day. 

Our workouts thus far have been pretty basic. Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday we run, followed by crunches, (attempted) pushups, and some other ab exercises. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we've been going to the Y and using their weight machines. We're focusing on one body part (i.e. arms) on three or four machines per day until we get more comfortable with the machines and then we'll expand a bit. Shane has been watching YouTube videos to make sure that we have the proper form as well, like keeping your elbows in line or making sure you set the machine to your size properly. 

I also really want to start taking full body progress pictures. While my tshirts are feeling looser and my work pants are more roomy, I just don't know that I feel like I've lost 20 pounds yet. I am hoping that progress pictures will keep me motivated and give me a good visual of all my hard work so far. 

#25: DG Founders Day!

A bit of background for those of you reading who are not members of Delta Gamma Fraternity... it was founded in 1873 by three girls (Anna Boyd, Eva Webb, and Mary Comfort) who were stuck at school (Lewis School for Girls, Oxford, Mississippi) over Christmas break because of the snow. They decided to form a club with the motto of "Do Good," and later chose the Greek letters Delta Gamma (ΔΓ) as the name of the club. Today the club has grown to an international Fraternity with over 200,000 members. Although Delta Gamma was founded in December, March 15th was chosen as the "official" Founders Day.

Yesterday afternoon the Cookeville Alumnae Association and the Nashville Alumnae Association joined forces with the Epsilon Epsilon - TN Tech chapter of Delta Gamma to celebrate Founders Day at the Lebanon Country Club. I was excited to go as I haven't been able to keep up with everyone as much as I'd like lately and Founders Day is always a really great time. 

We had a nice lunch along with a raffle, a giving tree for donations in honor or in memory of a sister, and our fabulous guest speaker, Fraternity Foundation Director Roxanne LaMuth. 

Mrs. LaMuth gave a speech about the wonderful things the Delta Gamma Foundation and philanthropy, Service for Sight, is doing to help the blind and visually impaired. She shared a lot of interesting history of the foundation, and also filled us in on the latest developments in Service for Sight's newest initiative, Joining Forces, which benefits U.S. service members from all branches of the military who have suffered injuries resulting in vision loss. She has a lot of passion for the Fraternity and our mission and it shows. Her energy is just amazing!

We also had a fashion show featuring hats made by my good friend Julie Ann Mirse of Whimsies by Jules. She's the one in the middle of the front row wearing the white dress with white and black polka dot hat. I got to be in the show and wore a Gatsby inspired headband. Good thing I'd worn my extra long pearls!

I am so proud of Shannon, one of my little sisters, because she won Best New Alumna Member of the Year! She won Collegiate Sister of the Year last year too! She's really racking up the awards, and she deserves it :) 

The best part of the day was getting to see all of my awesome sisters, and especially my DG family. Here I am with my little sisters, Shannon (on my left) and Adrianne (on my right), their littles, their littles' littles, their littles' littles' littles, and so forth. This isn't all of us, but just the ones who could make it to Founders Day. 

I'm so thankful to be a part of such a wonderful organization and share it with so many amazing women. I'm already looking forward to the next Founders Day!

Friday, March 28, 2014

#24: Not a real post

When you write a blog post a day, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to come up with good ideas. This is one of those days. Just look at this picture of the sushi I had for dinner (fire cracker roll and veggie roll) and then come back tomorrow for a real post. 


Thursday, March 27, 2014

#23: Just keep running

Over the past few weeks, I've been working my way through the Couch To 5k program, and I'm proud to announce I just finished week 3 tonight! Shane is already on week 4, but I had to repeat a couple days until I felt comfortable with it. 

I should be done with the program sometime in early May, which leaves me plenty of training time before the Color Me Rad 5k here in Nashville on June 22. We did it last year (see below) but I was only able to make it for maybe one minute of running at a time, and that's being generous. With C25k I am feeling more and more comfortable with running and I feel that I'll really be able to run the whole 5k without stopping come June!

Here are some of the apps and the gear I've been using to keep me going while I'm a run: 

 1. RunKeeper

This app is amazing if you do street or trail running (or a variety of other outdoor distance sports like biking or skiing) because it tracks your time, your route, distance, estimated calories burned and pace. It will also tell you if you've made a new record for time/distance/altitude change, which is pretty cool. Another nice feature is the notes section, which I use to note which day of C25k I'm on and how I felt after the run. The basic app is free. There is an upgrade option which would be handy if you're REALLY into running and your stats. The absolute best part about this app is that you can sync it with a variety of other apps, like MyFitnessPal. When I log into MFP to log my dinner calories, it already shows the calories I burned during the run a few minutes before. 

Stock photo from the 'net, not my actual RunKeeper

This was an impulse purchase at REI because it was on sale, but it was well worth the money I spent and then some. After the first few runs, I realized I was huffing and puffing so much that I would give myself the worst case of cotton mouth ever. A quick sip from the bottle and I'm all better! It might seem cumbersome to have to carry a bottle while running, but it does have a nice little hand strap that is adjustable. I tighten mine up so I really don't even have to hold on, it just sits there in my hand. It also has a handy pocket for keys and whatnot. Unless you just NEED to have both your hands free for some reason, a bottle like this is the way to go. 

This is an absolute MUST DOWNLOAD for everyone reading this blog right now. This app is amazing. Basically every time you are walking, running, or bicycling, you just open it up, choose which charity you want to benefit, and go. Corporate and other sponsors donate goods, services, and money based on the distance you cover. The above charities are now only a fraction of what you can support, and they're adding new charities all the time. The other day I ran to support veterans, a few days before that it was Stand Up To Cancer, and today I donated 1/2 a polio vaccine with my 2 mile run. The more distance you cover, the more you donate. You could even keep this running while you're walking around the mall or if you have a really active job and walk a lot. 

4. Last but not least, my favorite C25k app, 5k Runner

Why deal with a pesky stopwatch to time your intervals when you can just use an app? This is the only app on this list I've spent actual money on, but at $2.99, it's worth it. There are a lot of apps like this out there, but this one is my favorite because it's easy to use and you can listen to your own iTunes music. The alerts are nice and loud and it even tells you when you've reached the halfway mark so you can turn around and go back. 

Yes, that's a lot of apps, and yes, I use them all at the same time. I don't have any problems running them all, but I've figured out an order to open them so nothing crashes (Charity Miles first, then open RunKeeper, then 5k Runner). It can be a bit tedious to get going when you're just ready to run, but I really like all three apps, so it's worth it to me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

#22: Spring cleaning

Last night when we were cooking, Sheldon and Charlie both got a little taste of sweet potato and apples. It seems that something didn't sit well with Sheldon, because he got sick all over the upstairs while we were at work, and some after we got home. He's fine now, but we had a gigantic mess to clean up. 

Cleaning up after Sheldon made us start to get in the groove and clean more and more. We have been cleaning almost non-stop since we got home from work and there is still so much more to do! 

Living in this house has been the first time we've been responsible for cleaning such a large space by ourselves. And honestly, I'm not a great cleaner. Shane is amazing, he's the powerhouse here, I just follow his lead and ask what I can do to help. It does take a lot of teamwork though to tackle such a large task. 

Tonight has kick-started us into spring cleaning mode officially. We'd already done some a few weeks ago, like cleaning out our closets a bit, but it's time to kick it into gear. Starting with Martha Stewart's spring cleaning guide, we are going to do our best to get this house into tip top shape. And after we're done I can finally show some pictures of the redecorating and rearranging we've been doing around the house!

If you're a spring cleaning pro, what are some of your favorite tips? What are some things we should make sure we get around to doing? And if you have any time-saving or speedy tips, those would be MOST appreciated. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#21: Tasty Tuesday

Eating the same thing over and over can get pretty tedious, so today I started looking around at various food blogs for inspiration. Even though we aren't necessarily paleo at the moment, we are trying to stay away from bread and grains and work in more healthy fats. Paleo recipes are perfect for that. 

We bought two gigantic sweet potatoes at Whole Foods with no real plan. When I found this recipe for sweet potato and sausage hash, I knew we had to give it a try. We already had all the ingredients except for the onion and the chicken sausage. While the recipe called for ground up chicken sausage taken out of casing, all Kroger had was this apple chicken hot-dog style sausage. Oh well, you make do with what you have. 

Chicken sausage and onions just waiting for the sweet potatoes to finally finish cooking...they took FOREVER.

All of it together. This recipe features an interesting mix of ingredients
like spinach, cinnamon, apples, and onions.  

A closer look. 

Paleo recipes don't normally list calorie counts because that goes against their whole ideology (if you're eating the correct foods, it's nearly impossible to eat over your daily caloric needs) but as we're counting...we estimated it to be around 350 calories per 1 cup serving. It was a very satisfying and filling meal, and had a nice nutrient mix. If made ahead of time, it would make a great breakfast dish to reheat and go. 

If I make this again, I would like to experiment with the sweet potato a little more. While the recipe was nice, the sweet potatoes were a little lacking and almost bland. I might try Shane's suggestion of a squeeze of lemon or a bit of something spicy to see if that would bring out the flavor of the sweet potatoes a little bit more. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

#20: That time I got to pet a kangaroo

I have this weird compulsion that when I see an animal, I want to pet it. Not in the way that the little kids see the baby bunny and pet too hard and accidentally strangle it. I just want to touch it and see what it's skin / fur / feathers feel like. 

At the same time, I also have this low-level fear of most animals. I was terrified of dogs until my family got one when I was about 9. I'm still wary about cats. I think I held my gerbil, turtle, and hermit crab maybe once or twice each. 

Petting zoos are a great way for me to work on this love/fear relationship with animals. When that goat gets too close, I can just back off and make it look like I'm giving the little kids a turn. And when the goat licks that kid in the face and the kid acts like it's no big deal, then I'm shamed into manning up and just touching the darn thing. 

Shane and I went to the Nashville Zoo a bunch when we first moved (see one of our other visits here) and I got on their email list. I was elated when I found out they finally opened their kangaroo petting exhibit last fall, and so was most of the rest of the city. That place was PACKED. And from the looks of this rather manly 'roo in the picture below, a lot of those kids had a lot of questions later. 

The kangaroos get the run of the place while humans are confined to the winding sidewalk. The exhibit had opened about a week before we went, and let me tell you, they learned FAST to stay away from the pavement at all costs. Most of them spent their time lounging on the grass or nomming on the plants in the exhibit. Every once in a while you'd see one hop as fast as it could across the path to get to its mates (lame Australian pun intended) on the other side. They had a "get your picture made with a kangaroo!" portion to the exhibit and you should have seen the line, it probably took an hour or so to get through. That poor little kangaroo looked like it had been given lots of kangaroo prozac too to help it through the experience. 

I was patient and it paid off. Just when we were about to leave the exhibit, this little guy hopped by. He (or she, not sure) was going pretty slow and stopped for a minute to munch on some grass and leaves and wandered just out of reach of all the little kids. Once they had been properly scolded by the zookeepers for stepping on the grass, I got to make my move. This is where long adult arms come in handy. 

It didn't feel exactly like what I thought it would. It was a bit more coarse than I expected, or it just really needed a bath. Do zoo kangaroos get baths? Their fur seemed to be like velcro for all the little leaf and grass bits laying around. 

The Nashville Zoo, while small, is a great way to spend a Saturday. And you never know, you might just get to pet some fun animals. 

And before you comment on this post just to tell me I'm crazy, believe me, I know. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

#19: Weekly weigh in & what we're eating

To see all past weigh ins, click here. To see my whole weight loss journey, click here

It's time for another weekly weigh in! I'm proud to say that things are still going really well for both of us, we're moving along nicely. 

My progress: I've lost 2lbs since last week for a total of 15lbs lost...I'm now at 211lbs.
16.7% of my goal complete. 

Shane's progress: He's lost 5lbs since last week for a total of 20lbs lost...he's at 289lbs.
16.0% of his goal complete. 

We've had quite a few friends and family members ask for some specifics on what we're eating. Here's a basic run-down: 

The most important thing we are doing is calorie counting. We're not following some crazy fad diet or drinking smoothies for every meal or depriving ourselves of everything. We're teaching ourselves to make smart choices with what we put in our bodies to have a sustainable lifestyle change for the future. 

We use an online calorie tracker and food log called My Fitness Pal. If you don't have a smartphone, you can use their log online. But if you do have a smartphone, I highly recommend the app. It is a great, free way to track your calories and your progress. If you join MFP, you should friend me! My username is lehorner6 and Shane is seshorner. It never shows your weight but does show your weight loss progress, which is good to help keep you and your friends motivated. 

MFP has calculated our calorie goals based on our weight and rate of desired weight loss (2lbs a week, the max). My daily goal is 1,210. Shane's goal is 2,400 but he normally eats a bit lower than that. You can also log any workouts you do, so if you burn 200 calories running, that's an extra 200 calories you can eat! We have some general guidelines for what we eat, but really, if it fits in our daily calorie allowance, we eat it. 
What we don't eat: 

  • No (drive thru) fast food. We know it does bad things to our bodies and it's not worth it to us. We have eaten at restaurants like Chipotle and McAlisters, just no chicken nuggets and extra large fries. 
  • Minimal bread / pasta...for calorie reasons. 
  • Minimal dairy. Also for calorie reasons, but Shane is realizing that he might be somewhat lactose intolerant. 
  • Any drink other than water and the occasional glass of wine or hard cider. NO soda or juice. 
  • We don't keep snacky foods like chips or crackers in the house. For me, I know that if I was to try and measure out a portion of CheezIts right now, I'd end up eating the whole box. 

What we do eat: 

  • We don't currently get up in time to cook breakfast but we'd like to be able to have some eggs and bacon or something similar in the future. For now we will have fruit and peanuts or cashews if we get hungry at work. 
  • Lunch is deli meat (turkey for me, ham for Shane) rolled up and then a nice side of veggies like carrots or green beans and usually two servings of fruit like apples, grapes, or tangerines. 
  • For dinner we've had things like DIY pizzas (low calorie flatbreads with yummy toppings), barbecue chicken and veggies, stir fry, bbq bacon hamburgers with no bun, etc.
  • We drink a LOT of water. 
  • No one can survive without treats every now and then. We bought some mini Purity ice cream sandwiches (80 cal each) and discovered these Dole Strawberry Dippers and Banana Dippers. I'm a sucker for chocolate covered strawberries and you get 4 delicious halves for only 60 calories. Shane's bananas weigh in a little more heavily for 4 slices for 100 calories, but still not bad at all. 

Here's a sample meal...this is what we ate for dinner tonight. We stopped by Whole Foods today and got this from the frozen section, sweet & sour chicken, veggie fried rice, and mini spring rolls. Believe it or not, this whole meal was 353 calories and totally delicious. 

We still have some things we want to change with the way we're eating, like working more healthy fats into our diet and getting more veggies and less fruits. Overall I think we're learning a lot and teaching ourselves to make healthy decisions, something we've never really done before. And by making these choices, we're not hungry at the end of the day, and we're still on track to make our goals happen. 

Leave me a comment below if you have any questions about what we're eating, or if you have suggestions for delicious low calorie meals. We're always looking for new ideas :) 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

#18: Book love

As evidenced in this post, saying that I love to read is a gross understatement.  What better place for me to spend a lazy Saturday than at McKay?

I only got about 1/4th of the front of the
building in this picture. This place is huge!
Shane and I knew of McKay because we had one in Knoxville, and were glad to know they'd opened up one here in Nashville. If you live in Nashville, Knoxville, or Chattanooga and you've never been to McKay, you definitely need to check it out. It is like a mega emporium of used (and a few new) books, DVDs, CDs, records, comic books, game systems...basically any sort of media you could want. 

1st floor is books, video games, electronics, DVDs, and VHS
2nd floor is records, CDs, and comics

While I do get a lot of ebooks on the Davidson County Library website, sometimes I just really want a physical book to touch and keep. McKay satisfies that compulsion really well and for a good price. They have pretty good bargains on older books or books they have more quantity of, and you can usually get new bestsellers for a bit off list price. Plus you get more instant gratification than buying off Amazon and you're helping a local business, score! 

The best part about McKay is that all their inventory comes from book lovers like you and me who bring in books and sell them to McKay for cash or store credit. You never know what you'll find but there are always treasures to be discovered. I especially like perusing the bargain fiction shelves for 25 or 50 cent paperbacks. You know that bestseller you wanted a few years ago? Chances are they have tons of them. 

We always hit up the free book bins out front where they put the books they can't sell. They normally have some really cool older looking books that while we might never read them, they do look pretty on our bookshelf :) 

Shane discovering the same calculus book
he used in high school in the free bin.

Me with our haul. Three of those are Shane's,
the rest are mine. Total spent: $29.
We ended up with a few books from the free bin, along with four paperback books for $3, a few books on deck building so Shane and I can fix our janky back yard, a few philosophical and world religion books for Shane, and a splurge $10 book for me on how to draw cartoon people, just because. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

#17: Charlie and Sheldon

It seems like it's been a really long time since I've included Charlie and  Sheldon in a post, so I thought I'd dedicate a whole post just to them!

I feel so lucky to have such adorable dogs in my life. They keep us entertained morning, noon and night. It is so fun to come home from work every day and have them so excited just to see me. It makes me feel so important and loved, and it's such a sweet feeling. Charlie is definitely Shane's baby and Sheldon is mine. You should see when Sheldon gets upset and scared of something, he starts barking and climbs me like a tree. If I'm sitting on the couch or laying in bed, he gets right up next to my head and sits his butt on my shoulder like a little parrot. 

Sheldon's go-to spot when he gets scared.
While we're at home spending time with them, they tend to go between two extremes: 1) super perky and playful or 2) exhausted and cuddly. My computer is filled with adorable pictures of them curled up on the couch and buried under blankets. Charlie's current favorite spot to hang out is on top of Shane's chest while he's laying on the couch. Precious. His second favorite spot is anywhere else as close to Shane as he can get. 

A common view around here. 
They do some goofy stuff, too. Now that we have all hardwood floor in our house, they have started getting really scared when they hop onto the couch, and they absolutely won't hop onto the bed because their paws slip and slide. One of the funniest things I think they've done lately was right at Christmas time. I had bought a bunch of stuff online and they sent it in a gigantic box. Of course, I had to see how Charlie and Sheldon would deal with being in the box. 

Turns out, not well. They took turns in the box while I called their names and tried to get them to hop out. Sheldon just resigned himself to permanent capture and decided to sit. Charlie looked around all distraught looking for Shane to come rescue him. Shane wasn't home at the time, but when he came home later I tried to show him. Naturally, when Shane got home, Charlie had to show off his big boy skills and hop right out of the box. 

You should've seen them when we bought the baby pool last summer. Sheldon wouldn't even get near it, and Charlie stood there like a bump on a pickle. Not quite the cute, splashing doggie pool party I pictured in the Walmart checkout line. 

They're pretty crazy, but so are we. And they put up with our craziness. We're perfect for each other. 

Looking like the cast of Mad Men.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

#16: An exercise in team building

A little while ago, my company's owners decided to buy all the support staff gift cards so we could go out to Carabba's together. It took a bit of coordination, but we finally made it!

Since we were all meeting in Green Hills, it took a little while for Amanda, Rachel and Gwen to drive over from Brentwood. I had left early to take the mail and met up with Lindsey and Amy right as they were closing up at Green Hills. They realized that the Japanese restaurant across the street had a 2 for 1 ladies' happy hour, so we popped by for a quick drink...or two. We had asked to sit on the patio (we were the only ones out there) and either the waitress thought we were going to town on our drinks or she thought we'd drink and dash because she peeked out the curtains at us about every two minutes. 

My carpool buddies Amy and LIndsey
on our way to dinner.

Amanda and Rachel finally made it through the traffic and we got to meet up for dinner. I've never been to a Carabba's before but the food was very good. For the first time in keeping with my weight loss goals, I actually planned out what I wanted to eat and chose from the low calorie menu. The wood grilled chicken did not disappoint!

This was the first time we've all been able to get together EVER. Lindsey and Amanda had never even met before tonight, although they've talked on the phone a lot. It was nice to spend time together and enjoy each others' company while we're not dealing with crazy people or stressed over a rush project. 

Amy and Gwen, right before Amy said
"You'd better not put this on your blog!" Sorry Amy :)
Rachel and Amanda

Before we left, we decided we needed a group shot, so I attempted an Ellen selfie. She must have really long arms, because it's harder than it looks. 

Amy, me, Amanda, Lindsey, Rachel and Gwen

We had a great time and I hope we all get together again soon!