My Pursuit of Happiness and Skinny Jeans

My journey to a smaller jean size

September Writing Challenge #30: Goals for October

It is the last day of Fitness Cheerleader’s Writing Challenge.  I have really enjoyed this writing challenge.  It has given me good topics to write about for the whole month, which I love since it is often tough to come up with something to write about every day.  I have also enjoyed reading other people’s responses to the challenge where I have discovered new blogs to read, new workouts and some great fitness tips and ideas.

The final topic for the month is looking ahead to next month and listing out our goals for October.

My goals for October are:

1.  Run the Niagara Falls Half Marathon is 2:30 or better.  If you’ve been following along, you know that I have been training for the Niagara Falls Half.  My training has been going very well and I really think that hitting my goal of a 2:30 is very possible.  Today was my last big long run of my training program.  The next few weeks are all about the taper and reducing the mileage.  Today my sister and I ran 20 very hilly kilometres.  It ended up taking us 2:27 to complete the 20k.


Although this last big long run was a little slower than I will need to run on race day, I’m pretty sure it will be okay.  Today’s run was VERY hilly, and I could feel my pace on the hills really dragging.  On the flats my running felt good and I felt in a groove and was often running at a 6:15/km pace.  That is much faster than I need to run on race day.  Hopefully it will work out.

Plus an added bonus for race day, there is a good chance that my friend Kathy (who I refer to as Jack Rabbit, since she is such a speedy runner) may come and pace me on race day.  She actually just ran the Wine Glass Marathon in Corning, NY today and did it in 3:55!   How awesome is that!  She even thinks I could do my half in 2:20.  That would be totally awesome!

2.  Eat Clean!  Although I have been trying to eat clean, there is lots of room for improvement.  I need to do a better job of planning my menus out, getting the needed groceries for my recipes for the week, and then actually sticking to the plan and making it happen.

Saying all that, realistically this will be a challenge for October, since I’m still training during the week, which often messes with my dinner times.  Also, I’ll be away for 3 weekends this month:  next weekend is Thanksgiving and we will be at the cottage, the following weekend I’m going on a scrapbook retreat where we are fed very well, but not necessarily clean recipes, and then it is race weekend.  Keeping this is mind, I’m not going to beat myself up if October isn’t as clean as it could be.


3.  Get more sleep!  Getting to bed at a decent time is often a challenge for me.  Despite wanting to get to bed at 11pm or so, by the time we get dinner made and eaten, deal with homework, get the kids to bed, do any chores that need to be done, and have a bit of time to relax, watch some TV and write my blog, it is usually well after 11 by the time I go up to bed.  I know I need more sleep.  Some days I feel like I am absolutely running on empty. Hopefully I will do better at this in October…especially since I will need to be well rested with lots of energy for the half marathon.

eat train sleep repeat

I’m sure I could come up with some more goals, but I figure I will have a better chance of reaching/fulfilling my goals if I keep them focused and manageable!  Wish me luck.  I will try to remember to check how I did in achieving them at the end of October.

What are your goals for October?


September Writing Challenge #29: Recipe Time!

It is Day 29 of the September Writing Challenge.  Today’s topic:  Share your favourite fall recipe.

The recipe I am going to share is one that I discovered this summer, but it would be a great recipe for the fall.  It is from Clean Eating Comfort Foods 2012.  I have raved about this recipe each time I have made/eaten is Ham, Cheese & Broccoli Casserole.  It is seriously one of the best things I have EVER eaten!


There is a bit of prep work involved for this recipe, but trust me…it is totally worth it!  The recipe can be found here:  Eat Clean Ham, Cheese & Broccoli Casserole.

Do you have a favourite fall recipe?

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September Writing Challenge #28: Home Workout Videos

Hard to believe this is my third last post in the September Writing Challenge…this month has just flown by!  Today’s topic:  Have you ever done a home workout video?  if so, which ones are your favourite?

When I first started to think about this post, the only video I remember using for workouts was P90X, then I remembered years ago doing some Pilates DVD’s in the living room with my sister and my husband.  I really only remember doing it a few times.  The only thing I really remember about the video was sitting in some sort of V-Sit with our arms out past our legs and pumping them up and down while doing some crazy breathing technique.   

pilates v-sit

The move was supposed to look something like this, although I’m pretty sure none of us were even close!  We did not last long with this video, and maybe only did it a couple of times.

A few years ago I did P90X for a summer. 


I would get up at about 5am and do the workouts before my family got up.  It was tough and I was exhausted all of the time.  Along with P90X I was playing soccer, ice hockey, ball hockey and golfing.  The workouts did seem to be making me stronger and I think my shape changed a bit, but I didn’t lose a pound!  I’m pretty sure it was because my diet was crap and I wasn’t putting the proper nutrition into my body.  The program suggested taking all sorts of supplements and I didn’t use anything like that, so I’m not really surprised. 

I’ve still got all the videos on my computer.  Maybe after I run my half marathon I will see about doing the workouts again.  Some of them were fun…others were torture! 

Do you do any home workout videos?  What are your favourites?


September Writing Challenge #27: Meal Replacements and Shakes

We are in the home stretch of September and up to Day 27 of Fitness Cheerleader’s Writing Challenge.  Today’s topic: Do you use any meal replacements or shakes?

I don’t really use meal replacements or shakes. Once in a while I will make a smoothie for breakfast or a snack and throw in a scoop of protein powder, but that’s about as far as I go.  I like eating real food too much to replace a meal with only a drink or shake.

Speaking of food…tonight I made a delicious Clean Eating Hearty Sausage & Cheese Frittata from the Comfort Foods 2012.

frittata It looked delicious even before the eggs were added in!  As with all Clean Eating recipes, this one was a hit with the kids…my youngest just loves frittata!  And this one was loaded with turkey sausage, broccoli, and peppers.  Yummo!  Plus, there are 3 good size pieces left over…there’s my lunch for tomorrow.  🙂

Tonight is the second game of my winter hockey season.  I can’t wait to hit the ice.  It is good exercise, I get to see all my best buds, and there may be a parking lot beer in my future!  Fun, Fun, Fun!!!

Do you play hockey?  Don’t you just love it!

Do you use meal replacements or shakes?


September Writing Challenge Catch Up: #25 and #26

I missed yesterday’s post.  I had a family thing that took me unexpectedly out of town.  So, today I’m playing a little catch up.

#25:  What is something you do well? This is a tough one for me.  I don’t spend too much time thinking about what I’m good at, but a couple of things come to mind.

Multi-tasking.  Both at work and at home, but especially at work.  I have a number of projects going on around the world (Spain, Italy, Great Britain, Russia, Canada, USA, France, and Brazil to name a few).  My projects are all at different phases and dealing with all these different time zones is a bit of fun…but I’m managing to keep everything going, and for the most part, going without too many hiccups!

Running Slow!  I am not built for speed. I’ve accepted that.  I’ve got short legs and not very good running form.  But, I am your girl for long slow runs on Sunday morning!  I like to think I am helping my sister in her training by keeping her out there longer than she would take if she ran alone!

running slow 

#26:  What is one area of your fitness that you’d like to improve upon?  This list is much longer…but I will only list my top two here.

Increase the distance that I can run without stopping.  I have gotten up to being able to run 6k without stopping now. I might be able to run further than that, but I’ve been missing most of my steady runs lately so not sure how far I could go now.  I should try to get out there next Tuesday for a steady run.  Now that golf is finished for the year my Tuesday evenings are one again free to run. 

Sticking to Clean Eating.  I am really enjoying all the clean dishes that I have been making.  I just wish I could do it a bit more frequently.  Things seem to creep up on me and often my menu for the week doesn’t exactly go as planned.  I’m staring to think I should start batch cooking on Sundays and get many dishes prepared for the coming week.  This would also be good as it would give me things that I could take for lunch too.


What about you?  What are you good at and what would you like to improve?


September Writing Challenge #24: Fitness “Gimmicks”

We are quickly approaching the end of September.  This month is just flying by!  Today is Day 24 of the writing challenge hosted by Fitness Cheerleader.  Today’s topic:  Have you even fallen for a fitness “gimmick”?

It’s not like there is a shortage of gimmicks out there, but I’ve never really fallen for any.  I’ve been tempted by a few…most recently the HCG Diet…but it just seemed too good to be true, and I like to eat WAY too much to only consume 500 calories a day!

A few years ago, I did do P90X for a summer.  I got up at the crack of dawn every day, jumped around my family room like a crazy person, and ended up exhausted.  I wasn’t eating properly to support all the exercise I was getting.  Along with the full P90X schedule, I was playing golf, ball hockey, ice hockey and soccer.  I just got so wiped out, I couldn’t keep it going.  And, through all of this, I didn’t drop a pound!  I did lose a few inches and I felt like I was getting stronger, but without the proper diet and nutrition to support it, I couldn’t maintain it.

Now, I run, try to eat clean, healthy meals, and it works just fine for me.  No gimmicks, just sensible food and exercise.  Eating clean is easy and tastes great.  My kids even love the clean recipes I make.  Two examples of this:

1.  On the weekend I made Ingredients of a Fit Chick Pumpkin Pie Blondies.  These are AMAZING!!!  I made a double batch and was able to share some with my sister (who shared some delicious pumpkin muffins that she made last week!). 


2.  Tonight I made Eat Clean Mexican Lasagna for dinner.  This recipe is from the Comfort Foods Edition of Clean Eating Magazine.  It was quick and easy, was absolutely delicious, and made the house smell amazing. 

mexican lasagna And the best part, as always with Clean Eating recipes…lots of leftovers! 

mex lasagna leftoversI even gave one to my sister to enjoy.  She came over to pick up some pumpkin pie blondies that I was sharing with her from my double batch.  When she walked in the door, she was immediately asking what smelled so good.  She was pretty excited when I gave her one of the meals to take home for dinner tomorrow. 

Have you fallen for any “gimmicks”?

Do you eat clean?  What’s your favourite recipe?


September Writing Challenge #22: Fitness Survival Kit

Welcome to the first day of Fall, and Day 22 of Fitness Cheerleader’s writing challenge.  Today’s topic is what would you put in your fitness survival kit.

Since all of my fitness lately has revolved around running, my survival kit would be filled with my go to running essentials.

My Running Shoes.  I am still waiting to wear my new shoes on a run.  Hopefully tomorrow is the day!

my fast shoes

My Garmin.  I never go for a run without it.  I’m kind of obsessed with my pace, distance, calories burned…all the good details. 

garmin survival

My run nutrition.  Anything more than a 45 minute run and I will be taking my run nutrition along with me. 

run nutrition

My tunes.  If I am running alone, I need my iPod.  While I’m getting better at running alone, I need some help to keep moving, and that’s where my run tunes come in. 


My fuel belt.  Any run over 45 minutes or so, I need water.  So, my fuel belt is a staple for most of my runs.  It carries my water bottles, but I’ve also got a little pouch on it that holds my nutrition and iPod.  I don’t really like wearing it, but I am too nervous to run without water, so I just suck it up and wear it. 

fuel belt

I will get to put all of my fitness survival kit essentials into good use tomorrow (except the iPod) as my sister and I head out for this week’s 18k long run.

What’s in your fitness survival kit?


September Writing Challenge #21: Coffee

Seriously, where has September gone? This month is just flying by. It is already the 21st, so that means it’s Day 21 of Fitness Cheerleader’s Challenge. Today’s topic: are you a coffee drinker?

I am definitely NOT a coffee drinker. I HATE it. I tried it once, when someone bought me a cup on a drive to go skiing. I couldn’t even bring myself to take one sip. The smell alone grosses me out. I held onto that cup of coffee, just about dying from the smell of it, for over an hour! I have no idea how those of you who like it drink the stuff! Yuck!

My favourite hot drink is a Starbucks Grande, Non-fat, No water, Tazo Chai. It is heaven in a cup.

our chais

Mom and Son chai lattes on the drive to school! Yummo!!!

While the Chai Latte is so delicious, it is also loaded with sugar and quite a few calories. Here is the nutritional information for a Grande, Non-Fat Chai Latte, as posted on the Starbucks webiste….and the way I drink mine is probably worse, since I get mine with no water.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (16 fl oz)
Calories 210 Calories from Fat 0
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol <5mg 2%
Sodium 105mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 45g 16%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Sugars 43g
Protein 8g
Vitamin A 8%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 30%
Iron 2%
Caffeine 95mg
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Just look at the amount of sugar in the thing…43g! That is more than I am technically supposed to be consuming all day, according to MyFitnessPal! In fact, it’s almost double!!! MyFitnessPal shows my target sugar consumption for a day is only 24g. Yikes! 95mg of caffeine probably isn’t a good thing either 😦

I know it is not the best thing for me, but sometimes I just need one! Any my son loves them too. He asks for one just about every day on our way to school. I limit us to one every few weeks. I think today might be a good day for one…it’s Friday…we deserve something for surviving another week!

What about you? Are you a coffee drinker?


September Writing Challenge #20: Healthy Foods

It’s day 20 of the September Writing Challenge hosted by Janice at Fitness Cheerleader.  Today’s topic is 5 new-to-you healthy food options.  I can’t wait to read what everyone else has on their lists and hopefully find some new healthy eats! 

Here are my 5:

1.  Chia Seeds:  I discovered Chia seed this summer.  For those of you asking “Is this the same chia as the ch-ch-ch-chia pets?”, the answer is YES!


Today, Chia is growing in popularity as a food, due it is many health benefits.  See this great post for some of the awesome health benefits of this tiny seed  8 Health Benefits of Chia.

2.  Coconut Oil:  I’m pretty sure I first heard of using coconut oil in a recipe in something that I wanted to make from Clean Eating Magazine.  That does tend to be my source for quite a lot of my healthy recipes!  I just love it.  If you haven’t yet, check out their site.  I had heard conflicting things about coconut oil, so I took to the net and stopped by my go to site for healthy info ( and found these 2 great posts about coconut oil:
            Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
            What to do with Coconut Oil
I’ve used it in a couple of recipes, but one of my favourite things to do with it is pop popcorn in it.  It smells so good, and the hint of coconut flavour in the popcorn is amazing! 

3.  Raw Cacao Nibs:  Again, I first ran across these little bits of deliciousness in some recipes.  One recipe that pushed me to finally try them was Cashew Chip Cookies, from Sarah at Ingredients of a Fit Chick. 

cashew chip cookies

The recipe is very simple and the cookies are to die for!  I highly recommend you try them.  If I can make them, anybody can.  Seriously, I am not a baked…AT ALL!

4.  Stevia.  I know this sugar replacing sweetener has been around for a while, but I just recently tried it.  It was actually making the cashew chip cookies above that I first used Stevia.  You should have seen me in the health food grocery store trying to decide which version of the stuff I should buy!  There are so many options out there in both the liquid and powder format.  In the end I chose a powder, since that’s what I thought the recipe needed.  My first impression was ‘this stuff is SWEET!’  A little goes a LONG way!  I really think I should start using more stevia and get away from sugar. 

5.  Hemp Hearts.  Here is another one that I’ve seen in recipes and just started to hear more about. has a great article about the health benefits of hemp hearts.  You can check it out here.  I bought some for an Eat Clean recipe:  Peanut Butter BackPack Kisses.  Here is how they looked on the Eat Clean Diet site:


I don’t know how the hemp hearts impacted the flavour of these tiny little balls of flavour, but they tasted really good, and were a perfect clean snack. I really should make some more of them. 

So, there you have it.  My new-to-me healthy foods. 

What are your new-to-you healthy food finds?


September Writing Challenge #19: Favourite fall workout

Once again, this topic is a little too “fitness-y” for me.  I don’t really have a favourite fall workout.  As with all of my workouts, all I do is run.  Of course, the cooler temps often make the runs more enjoyable!

I do have favourite fall family activity, though!  Every year for Thanksgiving, we go up to our cottage.  It is so beautiful up there at that time of year.  The leaves are changing, and most of the time, we luck in and have great weather.

It has become a bit of a Thanksgiving tradition that we go for a hike at a place near our cottage called Red Rock.  My husband has been going for hikes at Red Rock since he was a kid.  Now we get a group of cottage friends and our cousins from down the road, and we all go hike through the woods and up to the top of Red Rock.  The views are spectacular and the company is great.  I can’t wait for this Thanksgiving to go on this year’s hike.


DSC_0049 A couple more weeks and we will be back up here, taking more pics and enjoying another wonderful hike with family and friends.

Do you have a favourite fall workout?
Do you have a favourite fall activity?


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