Thursday, February 28, 2008

Zoo; "WHY?"

So, I did get to take the kids to the zoo for an hour. It was great fun, even though I was pretty tired. Calvin was so excited in the reptile house - he LOVED all the animals, especially the snakes he's been reading about with Daddy in his snake book. He looked at one snake and said, "Look, Mommy, it's a rattlesnake!". Sure enough, it was! Another mother nearby was pretty impressed that he knew that :).

Michelle was totally full of squeals of delight when we were inside the giraffe house. She loved them! She also really liked the video of the tigers and leopards at Asian Highlands.


In other news, this week Calvin has learned to say "WHY?". I had never heard him ask it before, but now he asks it all the time. I can see why people say "because I said so"... when he asks "why?" for the 3rd time about the same thing, it does get old. Here we go! My parents will be smiling, thinking about the payback I get to experience.

no zoo yet

Didn't get to the zoo this morning. Took a rest day from working out; woke feeling a little off, so decided not to push it. Then Calvin wet his bed (despite wearing a diaper ---- it got too full and leaked everywhere) and I had to then do 3 loads of laundry. Pillow, comforter, blanket, sheets, you name it, it needed washing. I would have just waited, but then where would he nap this afternoon? So, while waiting for the laundry, I tackled the next project: sorting out Michelle's outgrown clothes. I pulled out all her 12-18 mo and 18 mo stuff and boxed it up to give away. I then got out all the 24 mo and 2T sizes and went through it all. There is SO much that though I filled her dresser and closet with it, I still have a whole box to give to my friend Dez for her daughter Becca (who just turned 2 and is about Michelle's size - taller, but thinner). It's great! My friends have been more than generous in giving me great clothes for Michelle, and now I get to share some of them :). Anyway, by the time I finished the laundry and the clothes sorting, it was 11:45 am, and we were all hungry. Now the kids are napping.

The zoo gate is open until 4 pm, and since we have a membership, it's still worth it to go over there for a short time (we only live 10 minutes away). So I think after the kids' naps, we might just do it anyway. I do still need to clean the house, but it can wait :).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Morning workout; plans for the day

This morning: 7 laps of HPER basement (2.1 miles) in 23:00 for warm-up, then weight training. Today in weight training we alternated lifting weights with agility exercises. Great workout, and nice and challenging. I bench pressed 95 lb on my last set (only 4 reps, but not too shabby!).

Plans for the day: Grocery store, teach a piano lesson, Costco, lunch, kids' naptime (dinner prep, catch up on finances/bookkeeping), 2 more piano lessons, dinner, small group.

I am cramming in all the grocery shopping & errands today because I want to take the kids to the zoo tomorrow :).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wasatch Walkers workout

Met the walkers at the Field House at the U, and had a fabulous workout. I did 8x422m (the track is 211m) at 5K pace (2:25, assuming 28:45 for the 5K) with 2 min rest inbetween. Had no problem completing the workout, and could have gone faster (of course, that was not the goal, but it was nice to feel like there was more speed in there somewhere!).

Talked a lot w/Diane about summer and fall plans. I might do the Nike Women's marathon in SF in October, with Team in Training, to raise $ for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, since my dad was diagnosed w/leukemia a little over a year ago.

Still thinking about the CRIM in August; also considering the USATF Master's national championships in Spokane in August. We'll see what I can talk Loren into :).


workout: 30 min very easy racewalking, and felt GREAT! Awesome to be back in the swing of things. Was going to skip it since I'm working out tonight, but woke feeling sluggish and NEEDED the walk to wake up.


the rest of my day: work (going well so far), track workout w/the Wasatch Walkers


workout: just weights; skipped racewalking because I needed a little rest.


rest of the day: a good day at work - good results :) always help. Then a decent evening at home w/the family. I had neglected to make the chicken enchiladas on Sunday night so that Loren could just bake them Monday when he got home so they'd be ready to eat, so we had some decent frozen pizza instead w/a salad. Then I made the chicken enchiladas.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

MRI; pm workout

Had the MRI today. It took a surprisingly long time! After changing into lovely hospital garb and ridding myself of all metal objects (jewelry, hair clip, watch, etc.) they took me in to the room w/the machine and immobilized my head. They gave me an IV because they had to inject a contrast agent partway through the test. They did a whole bunch of scans, and the machine made an amazing array of noises as it went through its routine. It took about 45 min in the machine, during which time I plotted my workout strategy at the track, and got a little sleep, believe it or not! It was pretty confining in there, but as I have no problems w/claustrophobia, I didn't mind too much.

Should find out the results in a few weeks when I go see Dr. G again. Hopefully it was totally normal, as we expect.


Workout - went to the indoor track because it was pouring rain (cold rain, turning to snow) and I just wasn't in the mood to deal w/the bad weather. I was going to do 10 miles at an 11:15 per mile pace (1:30 per 211m lap), but I felt pretty crappy after 8 miles, so I quit. Got home and felt really abnormally tired. I wonder if I'm getting sick again? The kids bring home an inordinate number of cold viruses during the winter. Really frustrating, as my half marathon is in 8 weeks, and I have still not gotten in any 10+ mile workouts. Hopefully next week I will be able to do it. At least I was smart and quit when I started to feel crappy.

Need the reader's help

OK, I have an assignment for Weight Watchers this week. I am supposed to list my strengths. I made a decent list, but it occurred to me that I could get valuable feedback from you, my reader. It can be hard to accurately assess oneself, and the tendency is to leave things out. Whether you know me in person or not, if you feel you have input into this question, I'd appreciate it. You can post a comment or e-mail me.

recent workouts

Saturday: 42:30 for 6k around SugarHouse park. Nice & easy.
Sunday: skipped morning workout to slug in bed after I forgot to set my alarm last night. I will go for a walk after my MRI, during naptime. Hopefully I can get a nice long workout in, despite everything.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Recipe: Skinny Shepherd's Pie

By request, here it is! I made it for Loren and the kids the other night, and the entire pan disappeared in no time. It's a great recipe for WW because 1/4 of the pie is only 7 points, plus it's delicious!!!

Skinny Shepherd's Pie
from "Joy Bauer's Food Cures"

1T olive oil
1 c finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 lb ground turkey
2T low-sodium tomato paste
1T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t dried thyme
1/4 t paprika
1c fat-free low-sodium beef broth
ground black pepper
2-3 lg sweet potatoes (1.5 lbs), cubed and boiled (or softened in microwave)
1/2 c 1% reduced-fat buttermilk or reduced-fat sour cream
2 egg whites
2T shredded reduced-fat cheddar or Swiss cheese
1T grated reduced-fat Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 6-8 cup ceramic or glass gratin dish (I used a deep dish pie plate) with cooking spray.
2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over med-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, 405 min. Add the turkey, and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring, until the turkey is browned, 3-4 min longer.
3. Stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, thyme, and paprika. Cook, stiring, 2 minutes. Add the broth and cook 2-3 min, until the turkey is cooked through and a light sauce forms. Season to taste w/salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, mash the sweet potatoes w/the buttermilk or sour cream until smooth. Season to taste w/salt & pepper. In a large metal bowl, beat the egg whites w/a pinch of salt on high speed until stiff but not lumpy, 4-6 min. They should cling firmly to the side of the bowl when tilted. With a spatula, gently fold egg whites, 1/3 at a time, into the sweet potato mixture, until all the egg whites are just incorporated and not deflated.
5. Spread the meat mixture into the prepared caserole dish, and top with the sweet potato mixture. Sprinkle w/the cheddar or Swiss cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, until the potato topping is puffed and browned around the edges, 30-35 min. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.
Per serving: 403 calories, 41g protein, 44g carb, 7g fat, 2g sat fat, 61 mg chol, 368 mg sodium, 6g fiber. 7 WW points.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I'm still "interesting"

You never want a specialist to think you are interesting. After this visit and this visit over 2 years ago, I hoped I wouldn't be interesting any more. But apparently, I still am.

I had to have medical help to conceive each of my beautiful children. Thankfully, a simple drug regimen sufficed for each of them. But in addition, I have had other irregularities in the past with various aspects of my reproductive endocrinology. Trouble breastfeeding due to lack of milk production, periodic amenorrhea, and a luteal phase defect top the list. I'm grateful that none of those are much to worry about in the big scheme of things. Still, it's unsettling.

Well, the amenorrhea has been a problem again since Michelle's birth 20 months ago. I don't really mind at all, except that it's not the best for your health in the long run - bone density can suffer, primarily, and with osteoporosis in my family, I was concerned.

I went to my family doc (Dr. S) in November, and he got some labs, and they were "normal". He said I was probably racewalking too much (though I only do 25-35 miles per week) and that it was exercise-induced amenorrhea. He said to cut back my training by 25% and see if that helped. Yeah right. I don't think so! My body mass index is totally normal at 22 (or is it 23?), and 25-35 miles per week is definitely not heaping on the miles. I decided that I'd go back to my favorite reproductive endocrinologist (Dr. G) for a 2nd opinion.

So, today was my appointment with Dr. G, and he is just awesome. He took one glance at my labs and said that though the ranges were all normal, they are not really normal. My FSH is greater than my LH, and it should be the reverse. He says this indicates that my GnRH is probably low, which is most likely a function of an incorrect set point for my weight (though there are other possible explanations, including problems with my pituitary). My body thinks I need to weigh more, when in fact I am at a very healthy weight for my height, according to Dr. G. He says I am definitely not exercising too much, and that I should not stop. He was impressed with my weight loss too :) as he remembered that I used to be "chubby". A kind way of saying that I was scarily obese, with a BMI of 38. I digress.

So, what to do about this little problem? Well, he wants to rule out problems w/my pituitary, so he ordered a brain MRI. Cool. I'm going on Sunday to have this done. Should be interesting. He says he fully expects it to come back normal, but since we've had a lot of different issues in my history that suggest the possibility of a pituitary problem, he wants to rule this out.

Next, he is giving me a progesterone challenge, which involves taking progesterone for 12 days and then stopping to cause withdrawal bleeding. If that occurs, that means that there is sufficient estrogen to develop an endometrial lining, which means that I am essentially OK and don't have to worry about bone density, heart problems, etc. If there is no bleeding, then there is not enough estrogen, which would be a problem. He suspects I will be OK since I have no other symptoms (i.e. hot flashes) to indicate low estrogen.

So, if my MRI is normal and I have enough estrogen, basically the amenorrhea is a non-issue, and I can just take progesterone every so often to clear things out. This is what he expects to be the case. If the MRI is not normal, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. If the estrogen is too low, we could consider hormone replacement.

All very interesting. I would prefer not to be interesting, but at least my health is very good in all other aspects, and in the scheme of things, this is a minor problem.

Frenetic Friday

I usually keep too busy. Today was no exception.

Workout: 15 min racewalking, then a really great weight training set designed by our instructor, Steve. I wasn't so sure about him at first, but he is turning out to be one of the best instructors we've had. He comes up w/very creative workouts and knows how to push me to do my best.

Morning: Took the kids over to Sarah's to play with her kids (Alex & Sam) for a little while. Then we all went to Kindermusik. A great morning was had by all - busy, with the 4 little ones, but Sarah and I still found a little space to talk.

Midday: After dropping the kids off at school, I went home and quickly ate lunch. Then it was off to a dr appt (more on this later) and then to work.

Afternoon: A few hours on the confocal microscope, looking at my in situ hybridization experiment. I think it worked! Yeah! We're trying to get in situs to work on mouse tissue, because a collaborator is sending us some regenerating digit tips so that we can see if they are expressing a gene we are interested in. We got some day 11.5 embryos from L so that we could test our probes, and though we got questionable results the first time, and weren't sure of our results the 2nd time (needed more controls & better tissue), I think the 3rd time was a charm. Whew.

Evening: Picked kids up from school, then took the family to the Utah gymnastics meet. A great time was had by all. Now kids are in bed and I'm catching up on stuff.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

recipe of the day

From my Joy Fit Club buddy Tina Morris (inducted earlier this year).

Warm Chunky Apple Pie

8-10 large apples (Granny Smith/Gala)
¾ cup Splenda (not the packets)
½ cup water
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Peel and core apples, cut into chunks.

Put apples into crockpot. Add Splenda, water, and cinnamon, mix well.

Cook on low 4-5 hours

1 cup = 1 pt.

DELICIOUS on top of 1/2 c of Dreyer's slow churned vanilla bean, no sugar added ice cream, for 1 more point.

A lesson from my workout

I woke up feeling horribly tired. I did NOT want to go work out, and pressed the snooze bar far too many times. Finally, I dragged my sorry behind out of bed and drove to the gym, getting there 30 min after I intended to. I did my workout and it felt AWESOME. Silly me! If I hadn't have gone, I would have missed out on the best workout of the week.

I did mile intervals in prep for the 1/2 marathon in April. I did 211m (1 lap) recovery inbetween. 1st mile in 9:55, 2nd in 9:57, and 3rd in 9:47. I was pushing myself a moderate amount; I wouldn't say it was a hard effort, but it wasn't easy either. Still, those were pretty fast times and I was pleased, especially with the last one when I was tired.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Weights on Wednesday

Today I only did a very little bit of racewalking to warm up for weight training. We did a great total body workout in weight training.

As for the rest of the day, I grocery shopped, helped a friend with her taxes, played w/the kids, did some laundry, and made a yummy new Shepherd's Pie recipe from Joy Bauer's "Food Cures" book. She gave me a signed copy when I was on the TODAY Show, and mentioned the recipe to me specifically, and so I had to make it. It was great! The kids loved it too.

Then I made a delicious dessert (Gingerbread Roulade with Rum Cream Sauce) from my new cookbook called Small Batch Baking. I only had a teeny bit because the points value was pretty high, but it was SO good!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday tempo time

Today's workout: Easy warm-up to Liberty Park (13 min) then 2 loops at tempo speed of 85% MHR. In actuality, I had trouble pushing hard enough this morning (oh, for a partner or friend to push me, but runners are faster and most walkers are slower...) and so my heart rate was in the upper 150s instead of 162 where I really wanted it. My times were slow too: 14:20 for the 1st loop and about 14:35 for the second. Oh well. At least I got out there and put in the effort. Then I walked home slowly to cool down. My dog Copper kept up with me, no problem. I left Sahara at home, because she just can't keep up on the faster workouts (last time I literally was dragging her around the park!).

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy to be of help :)

It's nice to see that I have inspired someone in her weight loss journey :). You can do it, Anne!!! Anne blogs about being inspired

In other news, I did 8 miles racewalking today, easy, in 1:26 and change. Slow, because I didn't want to rush, and it was a nice long easy day. Sunday I did 6km easy, which was pretty good considering that I felt fairly crummy. I'm much better today :).

Tomorrow... evil tempo workout on tap. We'll see how I do.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Turkey Enchilada Casserole

Yes, all the recipes so far have been either 1) stir-fries or 2) ground turkey recipes, because that's what my friends were asking for.

This one got a Loren rating of very good. If you make it with leftover Thanksgiving turkey (just chop up the white meat finely), it gets a Loren rating of great. Yum!

Turkey Enchilada Casserole
Makes 8 servings

2t olive oil
1 lb ground skinless turkey breast
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ t salt
1t dried oregano
1/4/ t ground cumin
2 (10-ounce) cans enshilada sauce
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped mild green chiles
1t red-wine vinegar
½ c chopped fresh cilantro
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, halved
1 c shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 7x11 inch baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Swirl in 1t of the oil, then add the turkey, half of the onions, half of the garlic, and ¼ t of the salt. Cook, breaking up the turkey with a wooded spoon until browned, about 8 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Swirl in the remaining 1t oil, then add the remaining onions, garlic, ¼ t salt, the oregano, and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, until well softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the enchilada sauce, chiles, and vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the flavors are blended, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.
4. Arrange 1/3 of the tortilla halves inan overlapping layer on the bottom of the dish. Spoon 1/3 of the turkey mixture over the top; top with 1/3 of the sauce and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheddar. Repeat the layering twice. Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake 20 min. Remove the foil and bake 5 min longer or until the cheese is bubbly. Let stand 10 min before serving.
Per serving (1/8 of casserole): 218 cal, 6g fat, 2g sat fat, 49 mg chol, 588 mg sod, 20 g carb, 2g fiber, 21g protein, 168 mg calcium. Points: 4.

Spaghetti with Classic Italian Meat Sauce

This one is a little time intensive, but only because it simmers a long time, which of course makes it taste better!

Here’s a good recipe for spaghetti sauce w/ground turkey, from “The Best Light Recipe”. AWESOME cookbook – it’s from Cook’s Illustrated, and they test everything to be sure that it tastes great in addition to being lighter and better for you.

Spaghetti with Classic Italian Meat Sauce (serves 6)

Do not use ground turkey breast meat (99% fat free) or the sauce will be dry and grainy. To make the meat sauce ahead, follow the recipe through step 4 and cool. Refrigerate in an airtight container for 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. Reheat over medium-low heat, adding water as needed to adjust the consistency. Any shape of pasta can be substituted for the spaghetti here.

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 T olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 t)
1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
2 T tomato paste
2 c low-sodium chicken broth (the cookbook likes Swenson’s organic for best flavor)
1 bay leaf
1/8 t red pepper flakes
1 pound spaghetti
½ c minced fresh basil leaves (I have used the squeeze basil and it works well, too)
Ground black pepper

1. Process 1 can of tomatoes in a food processor until almost smooth, about 5 sec; set aside.
2. Combine the onion, 1t of the oil, and ¼ t salt in a Dutch oven. Cover & cook over med-low heat, stirring often, until softened, 8-10 min. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 sec.
3. Add ½ the ground turkey and increase heat to med-high. Cook, breaking meat into small pieces w/wooden spoon, until meat loses its raw color, about 5 min. Stir in the tomato past and cook until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 2 min. Stir in the pureed tomatoes, canned tomatoes w/their juices, chicken broth, bay leaf, and pepper flakes. Reduce heat to med and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 45 min.
4. Stir the remaining turkey into the sauce and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the turkey is no longer pink and the sauce is thickened, about 25-30 min. Discard the bay leaf.
5. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Stir in 1T salt and the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot.
6. Stir the remaining 2t olive oil and the basil into the sauce, and season w/salt and pepper to tatste. Toss 3 c of the sauce w/the cooked pasta, adding the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce. Divide the pasta among 6 individual bowls, top each bowl with a portion of the remaining sauce, and serve.

Per serving: 440 cal, 8g fat, 2g sat fat, 45 mg chol, 66g carb, 27g protein, 3g fiber, 820 mg sodium.

General Tsao's Chicken

Loren rating scale: Great!

General Tsao’s Chicken
Serves 4 (I always double this one because it’s so good!)

¾ c canned chicken broth, reduced-sodium
2T cornstarch
2T sugar
2T low-sodium soy sauce
1T white wine vinegar
½ t ground ginger (the stronger, the better – I like Penzey’s
2t peanut oil
2 medium scallions, chopped
2 med garlic cloves, minced
½ t red pepper flakes, or 1 dried chili pepper, minced
1 lb uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 c cooked white rice, kept hot.

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, and ginger; set aside.
2. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over med-high heat. Add scallions, garlic, and pepper flakes and cook 2 min. Add chicken and cook until browned all over, about 5 min.
3. Add reserved sauce and simmer until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes.
4. Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Yields about 1 c chicken and sauce and ½ c rice per serving.

Points: 6

Hunan shrimp

Loren rating scale: Very good.

Hunan Shrimp
Makes 4 servings

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
1T + 2t cornstarch
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
2T reduced-sodium soy sauce
1T black bean sauce
1T chili-garlic sauce
1T canola oil
2T minced peeled fresh ginger
1 onion, cut into ¼ inch slices
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
½ pound asparagus (can substitute broccoli), trimmed & cut into 1 inch pieces
2c cooked brown rice

1. Combine the shrimp w/1T of the cornstarch in a medium bowl; toss well to coat and set aside. Combine the broth, soy sauce, black bean sauce, chili-garlic sauce, and the remaining 2t cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.
2. Heat a nonstick wok or a large, deep skillet over med-high heat until a drop of water sizzles. Swirl in 2t of the oil, then add the shrimp. Stir-fry until just opaque in the center, about 3 min; transfer to a plate. Swirl in the remaining 1t oil, then add the ginger and onion. Stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 min. Add the bell peppers and asparagus; stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 2 min. Add the shrimp and broth mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Serve over the rice.
Per serving (1 ¼ c shrimp mixture with ½ cup rice): 270 cal, 6g fat, 1g sat fat, 135 mg chol, 667mg sod, 35g carb, 4g fiber, 20g potein, 57 mg calcium. Points: 5.

This recipe from Weight Watchers’ Take Out Tonight book (as was the last one).

Beef with Broccoli

Just tried this tonight. It was "good" on the Loren rating scale. The scale is as follows: thumbs down, OK, good, very good, great.

Beef with Broccoli
Makes 4 servings

¾ lb beef top round, trimmed of all visible fat, cut into thin strips
2T cornstarch
½ c low sodium beef broth
2T oyster sauce
2T honey
2T reduced-sodium soy sauce
1T dry sherry
1 lb broccoli crowns, cut into florets (4c)
2t canola oil
1T minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced

1. Combine beef with 1T cornstarch; toss well to coat and set aside. Combine the remaining 1T cornstarch, the broth, oyster sauce, honey, soy sauce, and sherry in a small bowl; set aside.
2. Bring a lage pot of water to a boil; add the broccoli and cook until crisp-tender, 3-4 min; drain.
3. Heat a nonstick wok or a large, deep skillet over med-high heat until a drop of water sizzles. Swirl in the oil, then add the beef. Stir-fry until just cooked through, 3-4 min; transfer to a plate.
4. Add the ginger and garlic to the wok and stir-fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the broth mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Add the beef and broccoli and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

Per serving (1 cup): 216 Cal, 6g fat, 1g sat fat, 53mg chol, 425mg sod, 18g carb, 2g fiber, 23g protein, 45 mg calcium. Points: 4.

Szechuan Chicken with Peanuts

Here’s my #1 favorite, from Weight Watchers’ Take Out Tonight cookbook. I love that cookbook!!! I often double this so I will have leftovers.

This one is "great" on the Loren rating scale.

Szechuan Chicken with Peanuts
Makes 4 servings

1 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
3T hoisin sauce (available in the Asian foods aisle)
2T cornstarch
½ c low-sodium chicken broth
2T rice vinegar
2T sugar
2t chili-garlic sauce (available in the Asian foods aisle)
1T canola oil
1T minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded & chopped
2 med carrots, thinly sliced on a diagonal
¼ c unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts (I never get the salted ones because it’s too much temptation to EAT them!!!)

1. Combine the chicken, 1T of hoisin sauce, and 1T of cornstarch in a Ziploc bag; toss well to coat & set aside. Combine the remaining 2T hoisin sauce, 1 T cornstarch, the broth, vinegar, sugar, and chili-garlic sauce in a small bowl; set aside.
2. Heat a nonstick wok or large, deep skillet over med-high heat until a drop of water sizzles. Swirl in the oil, then add the chicken. Stir-fry until almost cooked through, 2-3 min. Add the ginger & garlic; stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the bell pepper, carrots, and peanuts; stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the hoisin sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils & thickens, and the chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute.

Per serving (1 cup): 302 cal, 11g fat, 2g sat fat, 64mg chol, 392mg sod, 24g carb, 3g fiber, 27g protein, 38mg calcium. 6 Points.


I've been e-mailing some recipes to friends who have requested them after my TODAY Show appearance, and I thought I would post them here so that anyone can try them :)! So get ready... here come a bunch of posts!!!


Friday: 15 min racewalking followed by a total body weight training workout, including 3 min cardio (racewalking) in between sets. Great vigorous workout!!!

Saturday: 42 min easy racewalking (did 6.2k). I wasn't feeling so great this morning - was going to do 60 min, but took it easy. I have felt icky and fatigued all day + sore throat, so not sure what, if anything, I will do tomorrow. We'll see.


Progress on the Christmas poundage: in spite of the trip to New York, I am doing VERY well. I lost another 0.8 lb in the last 2 weeks, so I am back at 145.2, which is 0.2 over what I was before Christmas. Yeah! Now I just need to lose 5 more to be more competitive this summer at racewalking.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday workout

Today I decided to do some longer intervals, since I am training for the 1/2 marathon in April. I did 5x5 laps (1.055 km) in 6:40 (which is 6:20/km or so), with 1 lap recovery (about 1:45 each), and then a cool-down. Total workout was 7.39 km and my iPod said 7.55, so that was pretty close. It was a bit harder than it should have been for the speed I was going, but I am still getting over the cold, so I am pleased with the workout. I felt great afterwards.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Workout notes

Tuesday - rest day. I needed it, plus I was not feeling too great. We have a nasty cold.

Wednesday - easy 16 min racewalking to warm up (1.5 miles) and then weight training. Today we alternated weight sets w/cardio, so I ended up doing about 15 more min of racewalking. My HR monitor said I burned 600 calories. I know that's only a very rough estimate, but it was fun to see nonetheless.

NYC, part 4

This is the last part, I promise! :)

After the TODAY Show appearance, we went back to our hotel, checked out, and had them store our bags for us since the car was coming to pick us up at 5 pm, and it was only noon.

Then we walked over to Rockefeller Center again. Loren took me back to Swarovski (the jewelry store) and bought me a beautiful crystal necklace & earrings, for an early Valentine's Day present as well as a memento of our trip to NYC. I am humbled sometimes by what a sweet husband I have!

Then we decided to wander around 5th Avenue for a while, checking out the sights. It was SO bitterly cold outside - it was only in the 20s, but extremely windy. I'm sure the wind chill was zero or below. The good news was that there were lots of stores to duck into when we got cold. We went in Nike, Tiffany's ($30,000 earrings anyone?), Lindt Chocolates, the Gap, and others. We spent a good deal of time in FAO Schwartz, drooling over all the toys that it would be fun to get for the kids. We didn't really buy anything except for a few chocolates, though. We also walked a bit in Central Park so that Loren could see it, and we had a tasty lunch at a small cafe. We finally walked back to our hotel, and had coffee and tea at the coffee shop nextdoor before the car arrived to take us to the airport.

The flight home was pretty uneventful. We left about an hour late, but they managed to make up the time (they totally pad the schedules!). We flew over Toronto, which was fun --- I waved at Sarah as we went over and took a few pictures for her and for Allan. Can you recognize anything, Sarah & Allan?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New York City, part 3

I'm really tired and my cold is horrible, so am I in bed? NO, I'm here blogging the rest of my story :).

While I was getting hair & makeup done, the producer came and talked to me and gave me some last minute instructions and told me what we would probably talk about (there was no script, but a general outline of things we'd cover, including how it feels to be thin, the turning point, describing people's reactions to the "new" me, etc.). However, there were a few surprises, including the apricot Jell-O. I had NO idea they would do that and I thought it was great (if you don't know what I'm referring to, watch the video and you'll know).

Then I got to meet Joy Bauer, and we just discussed a few things before the show. She was very reassuring and wonderful to me. She is quite knowledgeable about nutrition - it's not just some PR thing she does. We had a good conversation about the latest research on artificial sweeteners, and we agreed that they are a great tool when used wisely. She is also just as tiny as she appears on TV. I felt like amazon woman next to her!

Pretty soon it was time to go up to the set, and they walked me around it to tell me where to stand when I walked in, etc. It wasn't too complicated, and I had fun looking around the set and checking out the large TV cameras in the room.

Before I knew it, they were running my "before" pictures and then they told me to walk in to the set. The next few minutes passed so quickly, and though I was nervous, the only way I knew it was that my right leg was shaking during the whole interview (though not enough to be visible, I don't think). I totally LOVED how they got a shot of how much Loren was grinning at me. He has been such a tremendous support!

I felt good about how it went, but wasn't really sure until I saw the video when I got home last night and realized that it did in fact go very well. What a relief! It was so fun seeing Hoda Kotb (the host) get so excited about how great I look now, and it was a privilege to have the chance to address so many people and give them some encouragment and inspiration. I just hope some of them take some advice from the show and are able to become healthier as a result.

OK... that's it for now because I have to get some sleep. I have more to post, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.

New York City, part 2

Got up early on Monday to work out, because the TODAY Show producer was coming to our hotel at 8 am. So because it was still dark and it was VERY cold, I did 30 min on the treadmill (racewalking, easy) and 30 min on the elliptical. Then I showered, had some breakfast, and Loren and I walked over to the NBC studios, a short 5 min walk (the producer called and asked us to walk over and she'd meet us there, because it was so cold).

We walked inside and down the stairs to the "groom room". There were 5 or 6 stations for hair & makeup, and 3 dressing rooms. They had some couches to relax on, and lots of food, but I wasn't hungry - too nervous & excited. The COOLEST thing happened when we walked in - one of the makeup artists said, "Oh, are you one of the fitness models?". That was a GREAT moment. I never thought in my life that I would ever be mistaken for a fitness model.

So first they did my hair. The hairdresser was very complimentary, saying I had nice hair w/good texture. He said I had a lot of hair, too - I wanted it up to show my shoulders better, and he tried to put it in a French Twist but there was no way it was going to stay. So he opted for a classy ponytail look with hair wrapped around 2 ponytails in the back. He said I had more hair in the TOP ponytail than many people have on their whole head! It was fun to be complimented so much :).

The makeup artist got started then, and she did a great job. I hope I can remember some of the things I saw her do, because I'd love to have my makeup look like that all the time. She did have to shake her head at my horribly bushy eyebrows that have no shape. She plucked and shaved but said she didn't have enough time to make them perfect. They do look better, though.

Pretty soon I was all dressed & ready for the show!

I'm going to have to blog more later because I really DO have to get ready for work now :)! Don't worry, I'll finish the story as I get time.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Amazing weekend

This has been such an amazing weekend!!!

Yesterday we boarded the plane in SLC at 6 am, and flew to Minneapolis, where it was cold (21F) and snowing and windy. We changed planes and were 30 min late leaving because the plane had to be de-iced, which was quite interesting. I have traveled by plane a fair amount but had never seen that before.

We arrived in New York La Guardia at 2:30 pm, and there was a driver waiting with a sign that said "Welcome, Tammy Stevenson". He escorted us out to the car, a black Lincoln Town Car, and drove us in to Manhattan. Notable on the way - a very large cemetary in Queens - you'd think the real estate would be too $$$ to have a cemetary like that, but there it was, next to the freeway. We got to our hotel and checked in to the small but well-appointed room, and I immediately changed clothes and went out for a 1 hr racewalk in Central Park. It was SO much fun - went by the ice rink in the SE corner, saw lots of horse-drawn carriages for hire, and of course lots of joggers, dogs, and people. Central Park is SO big - it is absolutely enormous, and it's beautiful too. Loved it!

For dinner we went to a little Italian joint called "Pietro's" that had kind of a "mafia-feel", as the person who recommended it to us described it. The food was pretty good homestyle Italian, something you'd imagine that someone's Italian grandmother might cook for you. All the waiters spoke Italian amongst themselves, and many of the customers were clearly regulars.

After dinner we walked to the Metropolitan Opera. We should have taken the subway. It was a long walk (1 hr, fine by me) and Loren's feet hurt a lot when we got there. We did make it just in time, as we got there about 20 min before the curtain, and had to get our tickets from will call. The opera itself (Manon Lescaut by Puccini) was incredible. The sets were truly magnificent - in the first act, they actually brought a horse-drawn carriage on the stage, pulled by 2 large white draft horses. No kidding. The second act is in a palatial residence in Paris, and the set was so ornate and lavish. The singing surpassed the sets, however, and it was a feast for our ears.

We returned to our hotel via the subway, as it was raining steadily, and crashed hard after our long day.

This morning I awoke at 7:15 am and went for a racewalk in Central Park, first thing. I decided to go for a long walk and walked all the way around the whole park. I'm not sure how far it is (I think maybe 6.2 miles - 10k, plus the distance to and from the park from our hotel, so probably 7-7.5 miles total) but it took me 1 hr 20 min. I stopped at a small grocery on the way back and picked up some fresh fruit and muffins for breakfast.

After breakfast, we packed our suitcases (had to change rooms, because we were in the NBC lease room last night and had to move to a different room for tonight, though we still get the NBC room rate) and set out to tour Rockefeller Center. We browsed the Museum of Modern Art gift shop, and then the concourse by the famous ice rink. We spent a long time in a store that had beautiful crystals & jewelry - Loren loves gems, so we had a great time looking in there. Then we decided to take the elevator to the top of Rockefeller Center to check out the views of the city. The sun had come out after the rains of last night, and the view was totally spectacular. It was VERY cold and windy, but we could see the views from inside or outside, so we did some of both.

About 1:45 pm we walked over to Times Square and grabbed a quick lunch at Roxy's deli. That was great - the sandwich (we split one) had a whole pound of turkey on it! I took some off of my half for Loren, and still had plenty. I had a few fries, too, which were great, and the meal came with deli pickles & coleslaw, too.

Our Broadway play ("The Farnsworth Invention") began at 3 pm, and we arrived about 2:40 and picked up our tickets. The play was incredibly well-written (Aaron Sorkin, "The West Wing") and well-acted, and both of us were enthralled, but especially Loren. I think he'd love to see plays like that all the time.

Then dinner at "Bar Americain", where Bobby Flay of the Food Network is the executive chef. Too amazing for words - Loren had Lamb Porterhouse and I had Skate with Chipotle chili sauce & capers. It was fabulous. Wish we could eat like that all the time.

Now we're back and I need some sleep for the big day tomorrow!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Knee is lots better

Today's workout felt amazing. It was just one of those workouts where you feel so good and so strong. I was just going to do an easy 40 minutes on the indoor track. I got up at 3:30 am to be at work from 4-6 am to take photos on the confocal microscope (this is the only time I could do it, since I don't have day care today, and really needed to get some work done), and I felt lousy. My experiment tanked, too, which didn't help matters. But I figured I could still do 40 min racewalking, even though I didn't much feel like it at that point.

I started off the first few laps easy, but then I felt good, and wanted to see how fast I could go, so I pushed a bit harder (paying close attention to my knee, which felt fine). I was doing well; the first mile was in about 10:30. I was able to keep the pace and did a total of 5.9km at 6:32/km. It wasn't an easy effort, but it wasn't all-out hard either. My heart rate was usually in the upper 150s (162 is my 85% max HR goal for tempo workouts) but I felt great - so strong, so smooth, and wonderfully relaxed. After the workout, I stretched, listening to Enya's Watermark on my iPod, and when I closed my eyes, I felt the fan blowing on me and imagined an ocean breeze somewhere. I swear I felt magically transported... ahhhh, endorphins. Needless to say, I am feeling de-stressed and back in perspective. I never knew before, when I was a couch potato, how much I'd love exercise!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tuesday & Wednesday workouts

Morning: 30 min on the elliptical.
Evening: 10 min easy racewalking w/the club, then I did a few sprints on the 211m indoor track. Sprinted on the straights, and went easy on the corners. We probably did 7-8 laps this way, then an easy cool-down. My knee felt fine! Yeah! I will continue adding in a little more here and there as tolerated.

1 mile easy racewalking to warm up, then weight training.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Monday workout

Racewalked an easy 1.5 miles to warm up (15:44) and then lifted weights. My knee is still sore, so I avoided stuff that might aggravate it. It's feeling OK when I racewalk, though, which is what matters the most :) but I'm not going to do any fast workouts for at least another week. My walking club is going to meet tomorrow night, and I'm going to the workout, but I may not do everything the others do.

New career?

This morning I went over to our local NBC affiliate, KSL, to record the essay that will be the sound backdrop for my before pictures on the Today Show spot. Tom, the sound technician, showed me into the little room crammed with old equipment (looked like it was from the 70s or 80s, really!), film reels, and all sorts of odds and ends. I read my story into the big mic covered with gray foam. I read it three times, changing my inflections a little each time to give the producer some options to work with when she's editing. After I was done, Tom, who apparently had no idea what this was for (other than that the Today Show producer in NYC asked him to do this) asked me who I worked for, and if I was "in the business". I laughed, and told him no, that I was a molecular biologist. He said, "Oh, you have a REAL job!". Then he told me that my reading was really great, and that I was a dream to work with! He thought my inflections were wonderful and I had him fooled into thinking I was a correspondent or something. Ha! What a fun experience!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

back to racewalking!

I did a very easy 3.75 miles (6k) this morning of racewalking. I went around SugarHouse Park, one of my favorite routes. It wasn't that cold at 33F (1C), but it was WINDY and starting to snow a little (another big storm headed our way... sigh). I bundled up with 2 shirts, my Wasatch Walkers jacket, and tights and nylon pants, and off I went. I stayed plenty warm and my time was about 41 minutes. My leg feels pretty good right now - it was great for most of the walk, though I did occasionally notice some soreness. Hopefully it won't feel worse in a few hours; I stretched a lot and will take some naprosyn just in case.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Shoe deal!

OK, so I had to get a new pair of shoes for the Today Show appearance :). Well, I didn't have to, but I wanted some closed-toed ones in case I decide to wear hose (I have a scar on my knee and it might make me self-conscious (thanks urban princess for the fashion tips). So, I went to Nordstrom Rack and they were having an amazing shoe sale - I got this pair of fancy Italian shoes for only $23! Could hardly do better at Payless, and these are real designer shoes.

Today Show update

So, we did find a babysitter (thank you, Sherry!!!) to watch our kids. Even better, she is taking piano lessons for her son in exchange for babysitting. Trading is always a nice thing, especially when it comes to taxes.

Also, they are going to fly us to NYC on Saturday instead of Sunday, and all we'll have to do is pay for the hotel for Saturday night! Yippeee! So we'll get to do a little sightseeing while we're there. We'll be gone early Saturday to late Monday. How fun is that?

It's been a busy couple of days. I spent about an hour on the phone with the producer the other day, getting interviewed about how it felt to be fat, in excruciating detail (y'know, it made me really glad to be thin now, remembering all that stuff), and talking about fitness & other stuff. I then spent about an hour writing an essay for the show, which I'll read as a voice-over above a slide show of "before" pictures/videos. This morning I was on the phone w/her several times again about the essay, travel plans, etc. Next I'm to speak with Joy Bauer, who is the Today Show's nutritionist. From watching some of the segments online, I expect that she will be talking to me in great detail about my before and after eating habits. They usually lay out typical food that you used to consume in a day, and compare it to what you do now. On Monday, I have to go downtown to KSL (our NBC affiliate station) and read the essay I wrote on tape for them to feed to NYC to the producer. Wow. It's really fun, but it is taking a lot of time. I'm so excited!

Here's a link to the website, so you can see what other participants' stories are like.

Easy & tasty recipe

Here's an EASY slow cooker recipe that involves no chopping. It's from my Weight Watchers Slow Good cookbook, and everyone in the family liked it. I wasn't sure we would, since it involves lots of canned stuff, but I added a couple ingredients and I like it a lot!

Fiesta Bean Burritos
Makes 8 servings (8 burritos)

1 x 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes w/jalapenos
1 x 15.5 oz can pinto beans, rinsed & drained (or black beans)
1 x 15.5 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 x 8.75 oz can corn kernels, drained
1 x 4 oz can diced green chiles
3 Tb burrito seasoning (I used Penzey's taco seasoning - yum!)
1 Tb Southwest seasoning (I used Penzey's)
8 whole wheat tortillas (add one point) or fat-free flour tortillas
1 c light sour cream

1. Remove 1/2 c liquid from the tomatoes; discard. Place tomatoes & remaining liquid, the pinto beans, kidney beans, corn, chiles, and seasonings in a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker. Mix well. Cover and cook until flavors are blended, 3-4 hr on high or 6-8 hr on low.

2. Coarsely mash bean mixture w/potato masher or wooden spoon.

3. Heat tortillas according to pkg directions. Spoon 1/2 c bean mixture onto each warm tortilla. Top each w/2 Tb sour cream. Fold tortilla sides over and roll up to enclose the filling.

Per serving (1 burrito, w/fat-free tortillas): 207 Cal, 4 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 0 g trans fat, 12 mg chol, 804 mg sold, 35 g carb, 6 g fiber, 7 g protein, 66 mg calcium. 4 POINTS value. (5 POINTS if using wheat tortillas).

We added some fire-roasted salsa in ours, which was delicious and adds no points. You can also add some reduced fat cheddar cheese if you like. 1/4c is 2 points.

Yay! Elliptical!

I never thought I would be SO happy to be able to exercise, even if it's not racewalking. I did 40 min on the elliptical today and it went fine. Whew. My knee is still a bit sore, but it's definitely on the mend. I may not be able to do a hard workout for a week or two, but who cares? I just want to be able to get some exercise.

I confess that I did do 2 laps of the 211m indoor track racewalking, at a very slow pace (12:30-13:00/mile? maybe 7:30 or 8/km?) and it was fine. No pain. Yay! I am going to take it very easy though, so that I don't end up w/more problems.