Coz’s Corner: Nature is my Cigarette

Or you might have heard some people refer to it as their church. Either way, it is my addiction. Correction, my healthy addiction. Whether running, walking, biking or just plain sitting, nature is my crack! When I am there, I feel most whole.


Today I wanted to stress how important it is to FIND your healthy addictions. The root cause of what drives to make a better YOU! Sometimes we focus TOO much on our weaknesses and get so busy trying to curb those addictions that we forget to look at the positive!

This is hard to do, and I’m sure, just as hard as quitting smoking or drinking. Its like backwards-thinking forward-thinking positivity. Are you still with me??

I have another healthy addiction and lifetime goal of completing a 5K in all 50 states. Since starting in 2011, I have successfully finished 4 races. I will cover more of that in the near future.

For now, here are some examples of healthy addictions:

1) Zumba
2) Skydiving
3) Rock Climbing
4) Bikram Yoga
5) Disc Golf
6) Running
7) Fencing
8) Cycling
9) Xbox 360 Kinect
10) Dancing

All the options are there, you just need to REMOVE the fear from your head and go out and do it! Get yourself a motivator! For some people, its Jillian Michaels. For others, its that friend that never lets you miss a gym class for fear of going alone.

The point is not to fear whether you can do rock climbing or sky diving. Its about staying active and the journey to finding what makes you tick!

What is your healthy addiction?

My First 5K

Just a few minutes after we passed the Start line!

We did it!  My girlfriend and I finally completed our first 5K!  Wow.  What a rush of emotions.  It was amazing to be two people in a crowd of 4800 participants.  We took our places close to the very end of the crowd since we were in the “walkers” group (although we ran at LEAST a mile of the whole thing!), did a little stretching and let out a squeak when we finally started moving towards the start!  We didn’t actually cross the “Start” line until about 10 minutes after it started, since we were at the end all squished together like an old bag of marshmallows, lol.  But once we got out of our squishy surroundings, we were really able to get into a great routine of walking and running.

But since I’m not the only one who experienced this race, I asked the girlfriend to write a blurb about her experiences for this post. So, without further ado…

Special Notes from The Girlfriend

Our view from the back of the line of participants! We're so far back that you can't even see the START LINE.

The Illinois 5K was simply amazing. Going into it I didn’t think that it would be much of an event, but with 5000 runners/walkers…. it was a sight to see. When Ange and I were getting ready at home, it reminded me of when I used to get ready for track and field in high school. “The Rush”, or as I like to call it – the healthy feeling of competition :) I have always been one for contact sports. Obviously, running in a 5K doesn’t include competitive contact with the ones running next to you, BUT it does require a sense of competition within yourself. The challenge of running the 5K is between you and the ground.

While running in the downtown streets, several community friends were there to cheer us on. “Way to go, Ange and Jess!!” This was the point where my body felt like it could run a marathon. The rush went running through my veins. As we ran into the stadium, thousands of families, friends, and supporters were there to cheer on the race runners, including Angela’s family. It was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment! I would recommend walking a 5K – odds are you’ll end up running to your goal too!

So we finished our first 5K and we loved it so much that we’re going to do at LEAST one more this year!  And, if you didn’t know, Weight Watchers has started a “Walk-It!” day.  Although I won’t be walking on that specific day (which I believe is May 22nd), they did put out this AWESOME training schedule to get people running a full 5K in 6 weeks!  I’m TOTALLY doing this.  It has officially become my next goal.  I also downloaded an application on my phone called “My Runkeeper“.  The girlfriend and I used it on our walk the other morning.  It timed it, made an announcement at every minute (I set it that way), and it tracked it through GPS, so we could see just how far we went and in how long!  The maps/routes can be saved, you can pick from a variety of activities… it’s just awesome!  Definitely gonna be using this a lot.  In fact, I used it yesterday to track my walk from home to work and figured out that it’s .26 miles to the office and it takes me 6 minutes to get there at a leisurely pace.  So, if I walk to work and back, it’s a half mile and if I also walk home and back for lunch, I’ve walked an extra full mile each day!  Pretty schweet.

Just before we reached the turn to the Finish!

If any of you have smart phones, I would definitely recommend checking these kind of applications out.  There’s a bunch of different ones that track distance, steps, etc.  There’s also ones that are just special stopwatches that would be super helpful in circuit training!  You don’t even have to pay for most of them.  Anything that makes working out easier or more fun should DEFINITELY be incorporated into regular activities!

And the girlfriend and I BOTH encourage you all to sign up for a 5K… or a 10K or some other race or competition that will give you a focus or a reason, or maybe just enjoyment of exercise because when you cross that finish line, you too will see that you’ve really just begun :)

Weekly Weigh-In

5% down!! WOOT WOOT!!

minus 3.2 lbs!!  Oooohhhh yeaaaaaaaaahhhh.

I FINALLY did it!  I’ve been working off these past 10 lbs since November.  It seems ridiculous to me.  Ten freaking pounds (after my initial 7 lb loss after the first week) took FOUR months to lose.  But you know what?  The past doesn’t even matter to me.  I’ve reached this important goal and I get to reward myself because of it!

That’s right, people, this woman is TOTALLY rewarding herself for that 5% loss.  The reward?  a ONE HOUR MASSAGE with my favorite masseuse and good friend, Jan!  Strong thumbs, meet my newly grown and shaped muscles.  Oh, this is going to be good.  No, it’s going to be AMAZING.

I’m not going to bore you with all the “what I did right and wrong” information.  I think my body is finally adjusting to eating better and exercising frequently.  I visualize it being slim and toned (still curvy, though!  love them cuuuuurves), and now it’s starting to shape itself into that vision.  I still have a LONG way to go, but I can do it.

The 5K is in less than a month!  My parents and godmother and her family are coming out to support us!  And since the race is on a Friday night, I’m taking the afternoon off work so I can prepare a feast for everyone (although I won’t be partaking fully until AFTER I sweat my bum off).  I love grilling.  Makes life and parties so much easier.

I hope you all have a great weekend!  The weather here is supposed to be gloomy, but it hasn’t stopped me from exercising so far.  The girlfriend and I went on a great 40 minute walk this morning and we plan on doing it tomorrow too.  And stayed tuned because I’m putting up the recipe for Chicken with Amber Lager and Honey tomorrow!  Mmmmmm :)

Kinect to 5K and Beyond

It’s really working.

Just over a month ago, I finally buckled down and started working out regularly. Until that point, my exercise consisted of the occasional walk at the park with the dog and the girlfriend and maybe some leg lifts in the mornings… if I remembered. I felt exhausted a lot of the time, my back was always in pain, and I generally felt pretty lethargic. I watched a lot of TV and ate a lot of food (although I was still following the WW plan to the best of my abilities).

I went to a WW meeting where my leader challenged us to make our activity this week “fun”. I thought about what I could do to make it fun and nothing really struck me as “fun” until I was talking with another WW peep who had a Kinect.  She raved about it all the time and talked about how much sweating she did while she was having fun.  I’d never bought a gaming console before and I didn’t really grow up with them either.  My parents called the TV a “boob tube” for goodness sake!  Video games were not allowed… until my brothers begged for one.  Then I mastered Mario Cart on N64, but that’s beside the point.

I splurged and bought the whole Kinect package and the Biggest Loser workout game (about $410 for an extra game and a 3 year warranty from Target).  My girlfriend and I had a blast playing Kinect games!  So we went out the next day and bought Kinect Sports.  SO MUCH FUN!!  Once I realized just how awesome this technology is and how fun it can be, I buckled down and started working out in the mornings.  And I’ve never felt better.

I’ve learned a few things about myself in the past month and a half that I’ve been working out with the Kinect.

1. I enjoy working out in the comfort of my own home. Just me and the floor.
2. I only stick to a routine when I workout in the mornings. I’m too tired to do it after work, even if I tell myself I will, I won’t.
3. I am very strong. I have lots of muscles that have been waiting to be used again!
4. Yoga, Circuit Training and Box-Fit invigorate me.
5. My back feels soooo much better when I’ve exercised.
6. I AM someone who can be a runner, and I’m building the muscles to be able to do so.

All are great things, but the last one really excites me. You know what I did last weekend? I ran for over 2 minutes straight on my parents’ treadmill! (And then it died on me. I killed it. Twice.) For a woman that weighs twice as much as I should, that’s pretty freaking awesome. And I would have kept going if it hadn’t pooped out on me!

The running/walking has been so important in this weight-loss journey. I’m officially signed up for my first 5K with the girlfriend. We’ve been tracking our training and making sure to get at least one long walk in per week this month. Next month we’ll be doing 2-3 long walks a week. Then we’ll be all set! We’ve also decided to make it a goal to do at least a 5K (or more) in all 50 states! How awesome is that! If you have any suggestions of which ones to go to, please leave me a comment.

My girlfriend inspired me to join Weight Watchers and it was her idea to walk the 5K race of the Illinois Marathon. She’s been so instrumental in this life change that I can’t write this post without giving her a TON of credit. She’s gotten my bum out of bed for morning walks more times than I can count. Her own struggles have forced me to examine my own, even when I didn’t want to acknowledge that they were there. I try to be a good motivator for her now since she’s motivated me so many times before. This journey is one that I reluctantly started with her and I am a better person now because of it. I’m not even 20lbs lighter (yet) and my life is forever changed. Thank you, Bella. You are my love.

And if this blog has inspired you or touched you in any way, please consider donating. I’ve set up a link at the top right side of the blog where you can donate through PayPal. All donations will go towards….

Blog Maintenance: purchasing a self-hosted domain, hiring someone to go through and add calorie counts to all the recipes, revamping the look of the blog, etc.
Conferences: part of becoming a better blogger is attending blogging conferences. I would love to attend ones about food, health and fitness, and weight loss.
Rewards: when the Reluctant Losers and I reach the goals we’ve laid out for ourselves, I’d love to be able to contribute money towards those rewards. Donations would allow me to do that.
Athletic Events: registration costs for races can cost quite a pretty penny! Whenever myself or the Reluctant Losers decide to participate in an athletic event of some kind, I’d love to be able to contribute some money to those out-of-pocket costs.

So please think about it. If you have been inspired, found a great recipe, or just feel a bit in the giving mood, please donate. All money and what it’s been spent on will be publicly posted, right down to the last cent. Sometimes the generosity of others is the final push a person needs to be able to do great things!

Morning Ramblings

It’s been a great month for cooking so far.  I’ve been able to try a lot of new recipes and stock up on some previously used ones!

New Recipe Tryouts
– Mediterranean Chicken with Couscous
– WW Brownies
– Chinese Noodle Soup with Chicken and Arugula
– Ham and Arugula Crepes
– Crisp Pecan Cookies
Curried Chicken Corn Chowder

Recipe Re-runs (it’s only been like 7 days, so there aren’t as many reruns!)
Homemade Corn Tortillas
Mexican Meatloaf

That’s a lot of cooking!  That’s a lot of eating too.  I must admit, I did not do so well at NOT shoveling it in this weekend.  I was just craving everything in sight!  The two obvious reasons are out the window (pregnancy and PMS), so the only conclusion I have is that I’m working out more and burning a lot of calories, so my body is craving more.  I didn’t even track points!  Goo.  I did keep up with my workouts, though, so I’m proud of myself for that!  Monday started a new day, but I still went over my points.  Damn those fiesta fajitas at the new Mexican place in town!  They were good, though.

How do you all get through the muck when you’ve had a bad couple of days eating-wise?  I’m just doing my best not to snack so much at work (or eat grapefruits and WW snack bars instead), but I’m just craving the carbs when I come home.  Sometimes it’s hard being Irish/Italian!  All you want is pasta and starches.  I KNOW I’m not alone in this, lol.  Exercise has been my lifesaver, though, and fresh filtered water.

Ah well, I’ll get through it.  The switch has been flipped, so I’m not giving up, that’s for sure.  But I need to pull myself out of this rut and get back to basics.  I know how to do the program.  I know what to eat and how much of it is too much.  I just had a momentary set back.  The weather is getting warmer, so my girlfriend and I can take Max on more walks and get ready for this 5K at the same time.  So excited!  I may even do a teeny bit of running.  Don’t want to hurt my knees, though!

Wow.  Lots of random thoughts today.  Thanks for putting up with my babble.  I’ll be putting up the recipes for the Crisp Pecan Cookies, WW Brownies and Chinese Noodle Soup in the next week or two, so look forward to those!  And here’s a little picture to get you excited….

Crisp Pecan Cookies. 2 PP each... and totally worth it!

Illinois Marathon Here I Come!!

Max and Me all excited for the marathon (I don't think he's as excited!)

Friends and (blog) followers,  I hereby announce that my girlfriend and I will be participating in our first 5K!  We are lucky enough to live right in the heart of the Illinois Marathon, so we’ve decided to take advantage.  I already wrote our family members about it, but now I’m inviting you!

I know that some of you are like, “what?  That bia is CRAZY.”  But according to Wolfram|Alpha, a 5K is just over three miles.  Easy peasy!  I can easily do that at the gym.  See?  Not so crazy.  YOU would be crazy not to come down and experience such awesomeness.  Participating in a 5K is on my bucket list and on my girlfriend’s, so we’re absolutely doing it.  Blogging about it keeps me from wimping out because I feel accountable to all of you lovely readers!

So if there’s even a LITTLE part of your brain that’s telling you, “Yeah, I could do that….”, then you should COME!!  I’ve invited over 30 family members.  I’ve promised to grill for them if they come.  If you contact me and assure me that you’re not a crazy stalker person, you can come enjoy a grill out too!  You’ve seen my recipes, people… you know I can cook ;)

I’m really excited.  I’m excited that I’ll be participating rather than cursing at the participants while I get stuck in horrible traffic jams as I try to get to and from my home!  I’m gonna make a t-shirt that has my blog address on it too!!  WOOT WOOT.  I don’t know what color it will be yet, but I guarantee that it won’t be a neon color.  I may be sweating like a snowperson in the desert, but I’m gonna look good doing it!

So, COME!!  It’s April 29-30th and hotels fill up fast, so register and book a room now!  Do it for yourself.  Do it for someone else.  Do it for the hell of it.  Just do it.  You won’t regret it.  Here’s the link again!