Thursday, July 26, 2012

Living Without Routine

I don't know exactly what's keeping me from posting as often as I used to, but I can tell you that it certainly isn't a lack of time. I blame it on my lack of routine. In fact, I'm blaming a lot of things on a lack of routine.

I am pleased to report that I am rocking maintenance, which was something I was really worried about, but I also notice myself feeling a lot more tempted by foods. I have a lot more time to sit at home, and it is in those times where I think the most about eating things. Obviously. I know that I spend a lot more time than I wish I did looking forward to the next meal anyway, but now that I don't have things like work and plans to distract me, I am much, MUCH more likely to grab a handful of Crispix, or convince myself that I need another fudge bar. I am much more likely to eat 100 or so calories over my daily target. I used to be so rigid. Maybe a little too rigid, but I felt good in that place. Although, I admit, I don't know that anyone else around me felt good about me in that place. Apart from JD, my rigidity was hard to penetrate.

I think this place is a good balance, and essentially a good "life lesson" for me, but it's taking some time to get used to. I used to feel like I would love to be one of those people who can make a living out of being a "blogger", but now I can see how that would be a huge downfall for me. Working from home is the perfect way to set me up for failure. But perhaps I'm selling myself short...I mean, I am still maintaining. Maybe I'm doing better without routine than I feel.

Sometimes we just don't know what to do with ourselves...
What is life like for you, without routine; do you like the freedom, or are you like me and need the structure? What is hardest/easiest for you?

Sunday, July 15, 2012


JD and I, feeling the nerves pre-race

As most of you already know, Mr. Light and I ran our first competitive race yesterday! It's known as the Eudora Horsethief 5K, and is held in my little hometown in Kansas. As this race has been around since I can remember, it was an easy choice for our first!


I found myself feeling a sense of nostalgia as I wound my way through the course, pounding the pavement on the paths I walked often as a kid. Like a train, people stopped as we made our way across intersections, and I couldn't help but wonder, "Maybe I know the people in those cars?" And there's a good chance I did. But then I also had to wonder, "Would those people even recognize me?" And there's a good chance they wouldn't, in that passing moment.


I kept my pace, focusing on my music and my thoughts, trying my hardest to forget about the gradual inclines that laid before me. (There were many of them.) I notice when I'm running uphill, I have a tendency to think about how tough it is and that maybe I should stop. I always have to remind myself that as soon as the path evens out, it's better; I can breathe easier, I have more drive, I can continue. I'm always thankful for continuing.
Me and my mom! Pre-race

Near the end at the bottom of the last hill, my beautiful and wonderful mom stood waiting for me. When I got close enough, she put down her camera and started to run alongside me. It was easy to see that she was beaming with pride. Man, I love my parents. I did so many things wrong, but they seem to only remember the things I did right. As we approached the top, I knew it was time to push it to the limit. I said goodbye, and started to sprint down the hill. I quickly realized I was pushing myself way past my limits, so I dialed back my pace for a few meters, but as soon as I turned the corner and faced the finish line, I sprinted again. I was determined to get in under 32:00.

Most awesome face EVER

31:51 was my official time, placing 5th in my age group (out of 8, let's not get ahead of ourselves here). Not bad! Not great, but considering I have only been a runner for a few months and have never been known for my speed, I feel great about it!

Overall, we had a great time, and are pumped for our next 5K on August 11: Small Town, Big Cause!

Have you ever run in a competitive race before? Would you consider it? Leave your experience/thoughts in the comments!

*All of the pictures you see here today were supplied by Ross from! He's a retired professor who enjoys running, but can't anymore because of an injury, so he goes around to different races in the area and takes pictures, which he then supplies to the contestants for free! What a great service, right? Thanks Ross!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Eating Low-Cal, In the Neighborhood

Mr. Light and I have been itching to try Applebee's 550 and under menu, so we thought yesterday after church would be an appropriate time to try it out!
A tip for eating at restaurants that I can't stress enough is to go in knowing what you want to eat. So many chains have their nutrition information and menus listed online, which it makes it really easy! (You can find the Applebee's info in a pdf here.) Since JD and I knew we were going 550 and under, we hadn't really looked at the information beforehand, but I wanted to know exactly what my meal was clocking in at, so I ended up downloading the pdf onto my phone. I love smart phones!
Looking at the menu, I knew almost instantly that I wanted to try the Grilled Dijon Chicken and Portabellos, which only cost me 470 kcal, sides and all! JD opted for the Roasted Garlic Sirloin, which was only 450 kcal.

As we sat waiting for our food, we looked up the items that used to be among our favorites. For me, I usually opted for the Chicken Fajita Rollup. Where this gem is delicious, I found out yesterday that it is 1040 kcal alone. That doesn't even include the fries, which is another 390! And you better believe, I almost always ate it all. That's 1430 kcal in one meal. It wasn't long ago where that number would have been my entire day's allotment of calories. Ironically, someone at the table next to us had ordered my old favorite, and as I watched the waitress approach their table, I couldn't help but notice how huge the wrap was...along with one of the biggest baked potatoes I have seen in a long time! So naturally, when our plates arrived, my first thought was, "where is all the food?" The portions seemed so little, comparatively. Fortunately, my next thought was that it wasn't the lack of food as much as the over-abundance of plate. But when I gave myself a moment to remember that I don't need the food to cover the plate, and that there was plenty for me to eat, I dove in, feeling really good about my choice.
I had already eaten some chicken, here o_O
And you know what? It was delicious! It was just the right amount of food for me (JD said he was still hungry, but that makes sense. Being a male, his body needs to process much more than my own, and my piece of chicken was marginally bigger than his steak). And I still had some calories for dessert when I got home!

I definitely suggest trying one of these 550 and under dishes. If you aren't sure it will be enough to fill you, I suggest ordering a bowl of chicken tortilla soup on the side for only an extra 160 kcal. That still keeps your meal at a caloric input you can feel good about!

I have a lot of respect for Applebee's for offering such responsible foods in responsible portions, which can be really hard to find at most restaurants.

Have you tried any of Applebee's 550 and under meals? If so, what did you think?
Have you found any other restaurants that make responsible food choices easy and worthwhile? I'd love to hear about more options! Leave your tips and thoughts in the comments.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Strawberry Delish

Do you love dessert?
Yeah, me too.

Today, my mother-in-law asked us to finish off the bin of strawberries, so when it was time to prepare lunch, I decided to get a little bit more creative with my dessert. (I always have dessert. Always.) And you know me; I love easy. 

This is what I'm calling "Strawberry Delish." Because it has strawberries. And it is delicious. 
 What I did: 
110g fresh strawberries: 35 kcal  
40g Honey Greek yogurt: 48 kcal
1 Whole Wheat sandwich thin: 100 kcal 

I toasted the sandwich thins (but I think it would have been just as good untoasted), slapped 20g of yogurt on each slice, and then topped the slices with the strawberries that I washed and quartered. 

So simple, so good, less than 200 calories. Reminiscent of a strawberry shortcake, this little dish is great for dessert, breakfast, or a quick snack! (If you don't like yogurt, a great swap would be low-fat chocolate pudding or nutella! Strawberries and chocolate? Don't mind if I do.)

What low-cal desserts do you love to make? Leave any recipes or thoughts in the comments!  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How to: Eat at Chinese Restaurants

As most of you already know, there are few things more anxiety inducing for me than eating at restaurants that don't list calories. Where I try my hardest to avoid them, I know that it's an unavoidable part of life at times. That is, unless you're willing to become a social-eating pariah.
"You want to invite Jamie? Jamie only eats at Panera and Applebee's." how I would imagine that discussion going.
So, as it is, you have to learn to prepare and conquer! One of the biggest calorie-offenders, and one of the hardest restaurant genres to avoid: Chinese.
There are few ways around this, so I'm just going to come out and say it: no Chinese buffet. No ANY kind of buffet, but especially not Chinese. American Chinese food is famous for it's grease and oil, which is unfortunately one of the things that makes it so popular. It is indulgent, and we are Kings.

All that said, my tiny hometown happens to have one of the world's-greatest Chinese food restaurants. (Fun fact: It's actually a Chinese and Mexican restaurant. How do you like them apples?) Where their food is honestly probably mediocre at best, I have yet to find a better tasting crab rangoon. Which brings me to my first survival tip!

Survival tip #1: skip the rangoon. Unless, of course, you're at Jasmin's in Eudora, Kansas. And then eat the crab rangoon, but prepare to expect it taking up quite a few of your calories. I would guess at about 200. That's why I don't eat the tips...just the creamy middle. *ding* Along with the rangoon, you probably want to avoid any of the extras in general. That includes egg rolls, fried spring rolls, and wonton strips. If you MUST participate, do...but know that any of those items will commonly set you back about 150 calories apiece (or a handful or so of the wonton strips), so limit yourself to one.

Survival tip #2: Say yes to the soup! (But keep it to a cup, rather than a bowl, if you can.) In any meal, it is a good idea to start or end with soup. Especially those with a water-based broth, rather than a creamy broth. Soup is usually quite low, and helps to fill you up! Hot & Sour and Egg Drop are both excellent choices. Also about 150 calories, but much more sustaining calories, those are.

Survival tip #3: Get it steamed. If you know you're going to Chinese, go in with the mindset of looking for dishes that are "steamed", or stir fry's that the cook is willing to  fry in broth rather than oil. (I believe this is called "stock velveting"...or at least that's how they refer to it at Pei Wei...) I find that if I go into a meal knowing beforehand what I want to look for/eat, I feel a lot less tempted by other things. It keeps my cravings at bay. Again, this is a really great tip for life in general. (Also to remember for this tip: ask for less sauce. I find Chinese food almost ALWAYS has way-too-much-sauce.)

Survival tip #4: Nothing fried. Ever. If it's fried, it WILL be high. I have no problem indulging in small amount of fried-ness, but when it's your main portion, it's just a bad idea.

Survival tip #5: Keep your protein lean. If you're really uncertain about the calories you're participating in, it's really easy to keep it light with the meat. Best choice always: shrimp. If you're not a fan of shrimp, opt for the chicken or tofu. You can find lower calorie dishes that still include beef, but beef dishes in general are more iffy. Your safest bet is seafood.

Survival tip #6: Use chopsticks. Using chopsticks helps you to eat slower, and only pick up the things you really want. That means all that extra sauce that fell to your plate will stay right there, on the plate!

Do you have any other great tips for eating Chinese? Leave them in the comments!
Do you have any thoughts/comments in general? Leave those too! I love to hear from you:)