Week #54 Weigh in…and who’s not a 300-pounder!?!!??!

In the fall of 1991, I showed up on the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point campus at 242 pounds. Shortly, it became clear that among offensive linemen there, the expectations was that you would need to weigh 300 pounds to have a chance at starting. (To be fair, there were starters who didn’t weigh 300 pounds, but I definitely felt pressure from my teammates and coaches to get bigger, and 300 pounds was sort of alluded to as the bench mark.

So I ate a ton and worked hard and came back to school after X-mas break in January 1992 at 275 pounds. And in August 1992, at 295 pounds. And around January 1993, I crossed the 300 pound mark and never looked back. I weighed 320 pounds on the day of my wedding in 1996. I weighed 330 pounds in 2000, when I hiked the Grand Canyon. I weighed 360 pounds in 2006, when I took a position as an associate principal. And I weighed 375 pounds in 2008, when I became a principal.

In August of 2009, after a year of bachelorhood and the stress of being a first year principal I weighed 404 pounds, my personal high point.

So this morning, when I stepped on the scale, and it said:


…I might have been a touch excited. 🙂

So to recap, as of this morning, I have hit a 21 year low for body weight, lost a total of 104.4 pounds from my high point, lost 81.4 pounds since August 17, 2012, and lowered my BMI from 49.4 to 38.8 in the same time frame!!

Yep, it’s been a damn good year!!



A 24 Hour Kayaking Menu

In my most recent blog, 40th Birthday…Fishsticks to Sushi-Style, I talked about Chad’s and my first kayaking-camping trip. We took a short trip for our first time, just less than 24 hours, just to see how it would go. One of the biggest challenges was packing, since we had to fit everything in the kayaks. That meant because we’d have limited space, we would have to avoid over-packing, and since most people I know, including myself, pack WAY more than they need whenever they go camping, I wanted to try and pack as wisely as possible. When got home, I recorded my calories burned and calories eaten, just for fun. (Yes, us dietitians are a wild and crazy bunch!)


Our kitchen: a canister of gas which feeds the stove is surrounded by a windbreak, with pasta cooking in our set of pans.

Even though we didn’t have a campfire to cook on (which we saw some campers use with tripods they set up on the beach,) we did, thanks to my father-in-law Gene, have a gas cook stove. We had used this during a trip to the Grand Canyon years ago, and we had forgotten how great it was! This allowed us to boil water for cooking, which it did very quickly. Also, we had a set of 3 pans, a couple plates and reusable camping utensils. All of this took up less space than 2 loaves of bread. Also, because I am a food snob, I needed to have a bit more access to flavor. My indulgence on the trip? My Mobile Foodie Survival Kit! Smaller than a paper towel tube, this travel spice rack provides a little zing to almost any dish…one of my most dorky possessions, but I LOVE IT!

Knowing what cooking methods were available to us, I designed an easy, mostly-healthy menu:

Letting my dork flag fly!

Letting my dork flag fly!

Lunch (In the kayaks)

  • Kashi Dark Chocolate and Coconut granola bars
  • Mini Baby Bel Light Cheese Wheels
  • Trader Joes 100% fruit wraps
  • Apples


  • Velveeta Shells and Cheese: Chad had the original and I has queso blanco. I wanted to have a hot meal, since our lunches and snacks will all be room temperature. (Something to note; we each ate a WHOLE box, designed for 3 servings! We didn’t have lots of other things with this meal and as you’ll soon see, we did burn a lot of calories. The other concern is the large amount of sodium, but as hot as it was, I was fine to use that sodium to replace what I lost in sweat.)
  • I also added a single-serve pouch or ready-to eat salmon for some extra protein and to be honest, to glam it up a bit! Chad had a hard boiled egg as a “side” with his pasta.
  • My flourish was a bit of dill from my traveling spice rack, while Chad used cayenne pepper.

    Salmon with pasta in white sauce with dill...Ooh La La!

    Salmon with pasta in white sauce with dill…Ooh La La!


  • We brought 3 gallons of water, which turned out to be more than we needed. Chad also brought some Crystal Light concentrated flavor enhancer for his water bottle.
  • Chad made up a Nalgene bottle of Salty Dogs for the evening (100% pink grapefruit juice, vodka and a couple pinches of salt. The salt serves the same purpose as a salty rim.) Refreshing!


  • Coffee: We have a French press, but to save space, we used Starbucks instant Via. (I know, some coffee drinkers will scoff at this, but let me tell you, it hits the spot just fine during a camping trip!)
  • Oatmeal: we used the single serve packets so they were already flavored, and you may notice below I had two packets to fill me up for the morning workout. (But I did have extra cinnamon in my spice rack.)
  • Raisins: to jazz up the oatmeal and give and extra burst of energy in the morning.
  • Hard-boiled Eggs: we boiled and peeled them at home so they were ready to eat, with salt and pepper from the spice rack.

Lunch (At the boat landing)

  • Everything Bagels
  • Mini Baby Bel Cheese
  • Hummus

We also packed some trail mix in case we needed more food; like I said, we weren’t sure how long we would be on the water or how hungry we would get. We were able to pack all the food in just two small, soft-sided coolers, one room temp and one with ice. We obviously could have packed either more healthy food or more junk food, but this menu suited us just fine. (In the end, we came back with just a few apples, cheeses and granola bars.)

Now, let’s also look at my calories burned. For me, myfitnesspal.com estimated I burned just under 900 calories per day. Obviously it depends on how hard we worked, but serves as a pretty good ballpark number. Putting food and exercise together (adding Saturday’s breakfast and Sunday’s dinner,) this is what the weekend looked like:Slide1

Slide2I didn’t try to restrict anything I ate, but I didn’t go crazy with treats, either, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how this worked out! Doing the math, with the 1200 calories I try to stay close to and the 884 calories estimated in kayaking, that gives me over 2000 calories per day. Both days were pretty darn close to that, considering there are lots of estimations here and I didn’t make any effort to count calories during these days. Having said that, since it was my 40th celebration, perhaps I should have tried harder to be bad!

As with the whole trip in general, we now have confidence we could repeat this, or even take a multi-day trip. We have an idea of what food tastes good after a hot day on the water, and know how much we need to pack, so we won’t have to bring coolers full of food just to have most of it go uneaten…but we may want to pack a few more of those Salty Dogs! 😉

40th Birthday…Fishsticks to Sushi-Style!

I apologize a bit for the length of this one, but as its my 40th birthday post, I reserve the right to ramble!

This June I turned 40. If you know me personally, and missed it, don’t feel bad, because the day passed as any other, which was as I wanted it. I didn’t make a big deal of it because I have had a pretty bad relationship with my birthdays. I remember that even as a kid, birthdays were a bit sad for me; even then I felt life was whizzing by way too fast, and birthdays only reminded me of that. (Pretty depressing for a kid, eh?)

So with a pretty big landmark birthday approaching, I had thought long and hard about how I wanted to handle it…I mean “celebrate.” 😉 Please don’t misunderstand; I am incredibly grateful I am having another birthday. I relish the facts that I am healthy and have a full and happy life. I feel incredibly blessed. And it is because of these feelings that a birthday party just didn’t seem to suffice. I did want to mark the occasion, but wanted to DO something, something I have never done before but that I have been wishing for. (So things like bungee-jumping were NOT on the list!) This spring it came to me…a kayak trip on the Wisconsin River with a night camping on a sandbar! Why, you ask? Well, growing up, my family made countless trips over the river as we were cruising up and down Wisconsin’s highways, and I can remember looking down and seeing the sandbars in the sparkling river, sheltered by the vibrant green along the river bank, and it just looked like a great place to be. I had told Chad that someday I wanted to camp there, and since we recently started kayaking (day trips only up to this point) it seemed like this wish might actually come true.

Before 40 X 40, kayaking on the Red Cedar River.

Before 40 X 40, kayaking on the Red Cedar River in Northern Wisconsin.

I also recently learned another factor that obviously played into my developing this wish…it’s my mom’s wish, too! She told me she had the same thoughts as we went over the river, so no doubt I heard her and adopted this dream as my own. Therefore, I am doubly glad I was able to make this happen…and now I can take her on her own trip someday. (Start looking at your calendar for next year, Mom!)

Now, since my birthday was in June and I’m writing this in August, you are correct in assuming I didn’t do this on my actual day-of-birth. In June we were in the planning stages of moving and Chad’s school year was still wrapping up. Also, the water and air temperatures would have been much colder! And since I’m weird about birthdays, as previously discussed, I didn’t care when we went, as long as it was sometime this summer. Spoiler: I got my birthday wish, and it was everything I hoped for!

Not a lot of storage in my cheap, starter kayak. Chad gets to do most of the hauling!

Not a lot of storage in my cheap, starter kayak. Chad gets to do most of the hauling!

We launched Saturday afternoon to cover a 14-mile stretch of the Wisconsin River, from the north end of Sauk City, Wisconsin to Arena, WI, with one night of camping. (There are longer sections and multi-day trips we could have taken, but having never overnight-ed using our kayaks, we wanted to be sure we could carry what we needed without swamping the kayaks!)

We paddled only moderately hard, and stopped once to stretch our legs. We had eaten breakfast but not lunch by then, and since we weren’t sure how fast we would be traveling, we ate on the water as we went. It was a gorgeous day! Temperatures were in the low 80’s and we had a slight breeze. We did have some clouds, but it was mostly sunny, and Chad and I did our due diligence with the sunscreen. The river was wider than anything we had kayaked on before, and though we saw several groups of people out for short trips in kayak, canoes and tubes, after leaving the Sauk Prairie area we only saw 1 or 2 groups at any one time. After a couple hours it was already past 4 PM. We had made pretty good time, making it more than halfway in just three hours, so we figured we could start looking for a place to camp. We had read that this stretch has miles of sandy beaches and sandbars on which to camp, and no permit is needed, but it can sometimes get crowded. We were hoping to avoid as many people as possible, and not have a RV/Camperland type of population to deal with…that was NOT part of my birthday wish! It didn’t take too long until we came across the PERFECT place! IMG_20130824_173509_849

There was someone already camping on a spot that looked good, so we went ashore on the next sandbar to look around. It had a wide open beach, but high enough that we were sure we wouldn’t get wet from any rise in the river. We could stroll almost all the way around it about 5-10 minutes, and the center had tall grasses…great for when nature called!

I think destiny is telling us where to camp! We added our own cairns to the collection, too.

I think destiny is telling us where to camp! We added our own cairns to the collection, too.

We set up the tent and unloaded our gear, then Chad went about making dinner; even though we didn’t paddle too hard, kayaking is still a bit of work, and with the warm temps, we were deliciously tired and hungry. We ate a tasty meal (more on that later) and watched the sunset behind the bluff. [One thing we did not do, since we didn’t want to have to deal with firewood on this trip without knowing more about the capacity of our kayaks, was have a campfire on the beach. However, next time that is a MUST!]

Sunset on "Sandbar Swader."

Sunset on “Sandbar Swader.”

After a nice stroll around “our island,” (no one ever joined us, so we had the place to ourselves!) we sat down to play some cards and enjoy the cocktails that Chad had wisely packed for us. We knew the next day would be even hotter, so we turned in not too long after sunset, with thoughts of getting on the water early. I fell asleep looking out of

my tent at the water and listening to gulls, geese and fish jumping in the shallows just inches off shore. It was amazing.

The breathtaking view from my tent at sunrise.

The breathtaking view from my tent at sunrise.

I woke up a bit before sunrise, and was able to snap some pictures of the beach without ever getting out of bed! There was a slightly cool breeze, but it never got chilly in the tent. Then I promptly fell into another peaceful sleep while watching the horizon, and we woke when it was full light. We were able to enjoy our hot breakfast and coffee (iced for me, hot for Chad) before we quickly and easy de-camped. We waded out into the water in the warm morning sun, and after a quick splash to freshen up, we were on our way. We left camp at 9 AM, a bit later than we expected, but since we had no schedule, it really didn’t matter!

It turned out camping where we did was great for more than just one reason. The next day was a bit windy, and though I don’t know if it was the changing weather or that stretch of water, I’m glad we were rested and fed before we paddled that section. If we stopped the wind would not only cancel out the current, but in some spots we were pushed backwards! Not that it was too rough to deal with; it only lasted for small bits at a time, the breeze felt good, and it was another sunny, beautiful day! Also, the next area we came across did have multiple tents camped together, so we were fortunate not to have that company! We saw a couple bald eagles that morning, and Chad started scoping out other places he would be willing to camp, either on a repeat trip or perhaps a longer one. I take this as a very positive sign that he enjoyed himself; as I was totally geeking out with joy the previous night, raving about our great beach, wonderful weather and the tastiest camp food ever, he seemed stunned that I would be SO happy. After all, we were “just camping,” right? But the fact that he at least enjoyed himself enough to want to do this again made me think I didn’t have some weirdo wish, and that other, more normal people would enjoy this, too!

As we were coming up to the Arena, Wisconsin boat landing, which is quite a busy one, we saw several groups either finishing up or just starting a Sunday day-trip. We were off the water after just another three hours of paddling/floating, and since we worked a bit harder this stretch than the day before, we had a picnic lunch at the landing before we loaded up to head home.

Living life and and loving it!

Living life and and loving it!

As I stood on the beach Saturday night with the sun setting in front of us, I knew I made the right choice when I decided to have this as my 40th birthday celebration. While I do hope that this won’t be the last time I camp on a sandbar, it will always stick out in my memory as the first, and best, time; the time when it was just Chad and I on a secluded sandbar with perfect weather, a beautiful sunset followed by a beautiful sunrise. So am I weird about birthdays? Yes. But I couldn’t be happier that instead of just marking the day as it came and went, I went out and LIVED…isn’t that what we are supposed to be celebrating, after all?

But wait, there’s more! Of course I will talk about food as well, so the next post will follow shortly to address the food and exercise part of the trip.

Weeks 42-52 Weigh ins….And Mea Culpas galore!!

So, this is my first post since June 2nd. My fault. Between finishing up in Rice Lake, starting up in Sauk Prairie, moving my entire life from Rice Lake to Waterloo, commuting 47 miles one way from Waterloo to Sauk Prairie, going to Canada, and training for and completing the 60-mile 3 Days for a Cure, I haven’t made this blog a priority. Mea Culpa. I hope you will accept my apology, and continue to read on.

On my last post, June 2nd, I weighed 303.2. Then Week #42 was 303.6; #43 = 308.6 (Week in Trego at cabin), #44 = 310 (no excuse), #45 = 302.4 (Worked my tail off), #46 = 303.4 (little setback), #47 = 301.6 (getting there!), #48 = 301.6 (static!), #49 = 311.3 (Canada!), #50 = 304.2 (Back to working my tail off), #51 = 300.5 (so damn close!!), #52 = 302.5 (3 Day walk, still a bit swollen and likely water weight, but I’m totally ok with that.)

Tomorrow is my 40th birthday, that means that “40 by 40” has come to an end. Lets review the successes and failures of the year, shall we? I started the year, last August 17th, at 381 pounds. I now weigh 302.5. I’ve lost 78.5 pounds, an average of 1.5 pounds per week!!! I think just about anyone would tell you that is an amazing year and a really healthy rate of loss. Measured in pounds, no doubt, 40 by 40 has been a success!!!

On August 17, 2012, my BMI was 49.38. (Normal is below 25 and obese is over 30.) (Right Michelle?) Today, my BMI is 39.21!! I’m not a mathematician, but that number, 39.2, looks to be below 40 to me. And since the title of this project was “40 by 40,” referencing my goal to have a BMI under 40 by the time I turned 40, and since I turn 40 tomorrow, measured by BMI, again the last year has been a smashing success!!!

My blood pressure, blood sugar, and joint pain were all out of control a year ago. Today, I have a normal blood pressure (though still controlled by medication), my A1C has dropped down to 5.4, well into the normal range, and other than the aches I have from walking 60 miles last weekend…wait a minute, let’s jsut say my joints are in good enough shape that I could walk 60 miles if I wanted to!! Health-wise, this last year has been a smashing success!!!

If there has been a failure, it is this. I hit my 40 BMI goal for the first time in April, after only 8 months! At that time, I reset and established a goal of 35. I did not make it. The last 4 months have been some of the most hectic of my life, and I was not able to focus the way I needed to keep up the pace of loss over the entire year that I had established in the fall and winter. That means I did not hit a goal I had set, and that is failure.

However, through all the stressors of the last 4 months, I never weighed more than 311 pounds, within 3 pounds of the 40 BMI mark, and I continued to trend down in terms of overall weight, even if the pace slowed considerably. The old me was a stress eater. The more I stressed, the more I ate. The new me doesn’t do that. I may occasionally put too much in my mouth, but that happens briefly, for very short periods of time, and then I work out like a madman to try to  counteract the effects. In the last year I’ve learned that exercise is a much more effective stress reliever than eating. Go figure?

I absolutely could not have done as well as I have, without the support of everyone who reads this blog. Making my journey a public things was super scary at first, but the rewards of this public accountability, combined with the unwavering support of so many of you, have made this one of the most rewarding years of my life. Thank so much for that wonderful gift!

My co-travelers on this trip; myfitnesspal.com friends; my mom and sister; (All of them are the same people by the way) have been the heavy lifters. Every week for the whole year, we held each other accountable to completing our food-logs, a critical step in weight-loss by the way, with encouraging words when things were going well, and not so well. I could not have done this with you, Mary Harnisch and Ellen Race. I love you both and am so proud of the changes you have made in your lives in the last year as well!

Lastly, we all know how lucky I am to have a live-in dietitian. We all know how lucky I am to have a life partner whose love for me is so strong I can sometimes feel it’s presence like it is a physical thing. We all know how lucky I am to have found so young, and held for so long, someone who is the perfect match for me and whom I am comfortable loving for all time. Michelle, baby, I love you so much! And your love, support, expertise, patience and partnership have been so inspiring, so transformative, so comfortable! I don’t know what took me so long to figure it out; but I am so grateful that you hung with me. Thank you for everything you have done for me and with me. I look forward to 40 years of trying to pay you back!!

I have more I want to say, a long post about the amazing experience of the 3 Day, and another about my next goal. But I will save it for another day. It’s time to go home, celebrate my successes, and get ready for the next challenge. Talk to you all soon.

Be careful out there!!

October versus May

Reminder: In case the year has flown by as fast for you as it has for us, Chad’s 40 X 40 year is almost up! He has the Komen 3-day walk the weekend before the deadline–his birthday on August 17–so he will definitely be burning a lot of calories and hopes to finish strong.

This one is for all my friends who love to let their data-geek flags fly!

Chad has had a rough go of it during some parts of the spring and summer, as he has documented the fact he had actually been gaining weight! We have mentioned the reasons for this, diet and exercise (duh!) related to his ending one job while starting another, and moving across the state. I had noticed that the last couple weeks he has not “needed” me to pack a lunch, and often his dinner was eaten on the fly as well.

[As I have previously blogged, Chad and I take a few minutes at the end of each weekend to plan the menu for the week. To recap, he has “RD approved” breakfast foods at his office, and I pack his lunch, unless he has a lunch meeting, but even then he has sometimes requested a lunch if he knows the menu will be unhealthy and he doesn’t have the calories to cover it. For dinners, we eat at home during the week, but usually have a couple of meals out over the weekend. Also, every once in a while he would need to be gone until after an evening meeting during the week, in which case I would plan for a dinner or a snack-meal to send with his lunch.]

After a couple weeks of Chad being disappointed at his weigh-ins, I mentioned how little he has been having his RD-prepared meals. He thought about it and agreed it did seem like a pretty large change in his eating lately, so I decided to delve into his myfitnesspal.com diary (I don’t hack it; he gives me permission.)

I took a look at Chad’s weight loss since his year-long 40X40 project began in August, and saw that October was a very consistent month for him where weight loss was concerned. I compared the meals he ate then to the meals he ate in June (the first 23 days, that is.) I acknowledge right at the start that this is by no means a hard-core statistical study. The two sample sizes are not the same, and I do not address physical activity here, which is obviously a major player in the weight loss equation. (Calories out>calories in = weight loss!) My technique, admittedly, was a bit subjective; I looked at each meal as a “thumbs down” or “thumbs up.” I looked at the total calories of a meal, but also the components of it. If he ate 3 roast beef sandwiches that were acceptable for calories, I still may give it a thumbs down since there were no fruits, vegetables, or whole grain items there. However, it was possible for him to eat out and get a thumbs up, as long as he made healthy choices. So, how did October and June compare for meals?

Percentage of “Thumbs Up” Meals Table
















Both Chad and I think these numbers are quite startling! For those who are a bit more visual:

Percentage of “Thumbs Up” Meals Chart

Thumbs up meals

While his lunches differed a bit between the two months, the other meals’ differences were quite surprising. Breakfast and dinners were even more often eaten “on the fly” than lunches and often ended up having poor components added with healthy items omitted, such as cinnamon rolls for breakfast instead of peanut butter on whole grain toast with a banana. Here is the rundown of how RD-Approved lunches (among other factors) has impacted Chad’s weight loss results:

Weight on 10/1/2012=363#
Weight on 10/31=348#
Loss of 15.4# in 31 days

Weight on 6/1/13=303.2#
Weight on 6/2113=310#
Gain of 6.8# over 21 days

This has motivated Chad to refocus his efforts on making healthy choices, and sticking with what he knows works for him in order to maintain calorie control. It is true that there are more and more healthier options available at restaurants and even convenience stores, but most of us have experienced having the intent to eat well, but having unhealthy choices staring you in the face next to those (less numerous) healthy choices. This can cause anyone to slip and either skip the healthy items or just eat too many total calories.

Also, the summer continues to bring its wonderfully different schedule, and we are hanging on through vacations and moving in order to keep Chad’s BMI down the best we can. (We are enjoying summer activities, like biking on the new batch of bike trails we now have at our disposal in southern Wisconsin.)

Stay tuned for more updates on the home stretch of the 40 X 40 project!

Inside-Out Omelets

Breakfast seems to give people trouble; they don’t want to eat it because they don’t want to take the time, and American breakfasts are often full of the most unhealthy parts of a diet (added sugars, salt and saturated fats.) As a dietitian, I often get breakfast-related questions, and know that despite the fact that people who eat breakfast are more likely to be at a healthy weight and more healthy in general, many people, including the children who we are supposed to be educating about the glories of breakfast, skip it!

I have already posted two breakfast-related posts, one a basic recipe for a breakfast sandwich, and the other about how a typical American breakfast differs from a healthier, Japanese breakfast. But aside from breakfast sandwiches and leftovers, I have found another breakfast favorite, an inside out-style omelet. How many people have salads or sides of veggies with their breakfast? Have you ever tried to cram a cup of veggies into a 2-3 egg omelet?  There just isn’t enough egg to bind it all together, leaving you with and unattractive egg-scramble-mash-thingy. But, since I want to have all my veggies without requiring a dozen eggs, I decided to make a few modifications to the omelet concept to give me a healthy dose of vegetables, which are often hard to get with breakfast.

Inside-Out Omelet

1. Choose your toppings. This is what you would normally put INSIDE the omelet–the “guts”. I generally stay with veggies and a strong cheese. I recently had a lot of leftover crudite (while that’s a “sushi” term, the “fish sticks” translation is relish tray!) so I used a mix of those. [See the notes at the end of the post for other flavor combinations.]

2013-06-13 08.19.18

A beautiful morning rainbow!

2. Heat 1/2 T of canola oil on a small/medium skillet to medium-high, chopping vegetables as you heat the pan. I chopped the asparagus smaller, since its a bit tougher, and separated the chives to add as a garnish.
2013-06-13 08.23.203. Saute the vegetables to your preferred doneness. I dislike mushy veggies, so I usually cook them for about 3-5 minutes. I also place them in the pan at the same time, which is less of a hassle. (This is where the size of your cuts can help you make sure everything is the way you want it.)
2013-06-13 08.27.314. Transfer the toppings to a bowl. There is probably enough oil in the pan to cook the eggs as well, so turn the heat to medium low and set the pan aside until you are ready to add the eggs.

2013-06-13 08.29.37

I don’t bother with a whisk or egg-beater; this is a quick weekday breakfast, so a fork is sufficient.

5. To keep things simple, I don’t add any milk to my omelet, though you can if you prefer. I use 2 whole eggs and one egg white, place in a bowl and mixed with a fork.

6. Place the pan back on the heat and pour the egg into the skillet. Depending on how soft you like your eggs and how hot your oven is, somewhere around 2-3 minutes should give you a cooked base. While its cooking, I season it by sprinkling the top with salt and pepper.

7. When the edges are set, roll the omelet. This takes a bit of practice, so don’t get discouraged if its not pretty the first time (it will taste fine and the toppings will cover the omelet, anyway!) You can roll it several times, fold it over once, or fold it into a square package…no rules here!Egg collage8. Because eggs have quite a large ability for carry-over cooking, the inside of the omelet will cook as long as the omelet is not too thick or you pan is too hot. (That would brown the bottom before the heat can reach up through the eggs, and I don’t happen to like browned eggs.) You can always keep the omelet in the pan a bit longer, cover it, and/or leave it in the warm pan while the heat is off to ensure its cooked to your liking on the inside.

9. Now comes the pretty part! Transfer your omelet to a plate, and top with your choice of “guts.” This omelet has the fresh chives added, as well as some reduced fat shredded cheese.


Healthy and hearty…more veggies than your average omelet could handle!

Nutritional Information (Rainbow Version):


Protein (g)

Fat (g)

Carbs (g)

Fiber (g)

2 whole large eggs






1 large egg white






½ T canola oil






¼ cup Asparagus






½ cup Bell pepper






¼ cup tomatoes






¼ C Reduced fat cheese













  • This omelet is a great source of healthy fats and lean protein, but a complete meal should include carbs as well. Add a piece of 100% whole wheat toast or some fruit to complete this healthy breakfast!
  • The amounts of veggies were an estimation, and the nutritional information was rounded to the nearest whole gram using the USDA National Nutrient Database.
  • Looking for more variety? Use can use almost anything you have on hand, but here are some ideas:
    • Tex Mex: Use chili pepper, cilantro, bell peppers and salsa with chili powder and cheese.
    • Puttanesca: Black olives, tomatoes, basil and capers with Parmesan cheese.
    • Greek: Tomatoes, olives, oregano with lime or lemon juice and feta cheese.
    • Use ANY fresh herbs from your garden or farmers market!

Try this simple, inside-out omelet method to keep your veggie intake high while getting a great source of protein (no expensive protein powders or unhealthy meats needed!) Have a healthy day!

Dietitian Check-in: Living La Vida Loca

We all have times in our lives when things are just CRAZY busy. Think of the couple weeks before the holidays, the start of a new school year, final exam weeks, the start of a new job or a big move. At those times, we just keep our heads down and take things day by day. We limit distractions and put all non-essential projects on hold. But when you are working on a lifestyle change, that option is no longer there, since putting things like exercising and eating right on hold would conflict with the whole concept of a lifestyle change. [Click on any chart to enlarge it.]

Weight Over the Past YearAs Chad’s wife, RD and cook, I pay a lot of attention to what he does and what he eats, even when we are not together. For the past school year, I have packed lunches and snacks for him, and he has eaten (mostly) only food that I have cooked and/or packed for him. When he does prepare his own breakfasts and eats “on his own,” he records those things on myfitnesspal.com, which he shares with me. This isn’t to say he doesn’t have a lot of work to do on his end. He spends hours and hours working out, and has had to change his eating habits regarding portion sizes, drive-thrus and countless treats brought to the office. Chad met his weight loss goal early, but has reset his goal BMI for his birthday and has a 60 mile walk (over three days) coming up at the end of the summer.

But right now we are in one of those crazy times. As Chad has mentioned, he is always busy at the end of the school year, with a different party or banquet or cookout almost every night, which can make it difficult to not overeat on a daily basis. Even for lunches, he has eaten maybe 2 out of five days from our kitchen, having more lunch meetings, banquets or other unusual things on his schedule. To make matters more interesting, we are also getting ready to move across the state, prepare to put a house on the market and start new jobs.

Each one of these may have been enough for him to go running to a drive-thru for a “jumbo everything plus dessert,” but his weight had been consistent over the last month, telling me that he is working his plan pretty well! However, as I was writing this, we did have a setback; Chad’s weekly weigh-in showed a gain of 5#.

Last 30 days with TODAY’S Weigh-In

Looking at this graph of just the last 30 days makes this gain seem quite dramatic, but be sure to compare it to the first graph, which shows the past year.

It seems that the parties, busy schedule and reduction in exercise minutes finally did take its toll.

But here comes the “glass half-full.” It may be hard for him to see, but I have just enough perspective to remember his 5000+ calorie days, where his goal is now about 2000 calories per day.
cal burned and consumedAs you can see by the above graph, while there are days he is over his calorie limit, he NEVER has 3500+ calorie days anymore, and in addition to that he continues to burn thousands of calories through exercise. But the graph also shows that his daily workouts have suffered due to his busy weekday schedule.

As in any plan or project, its important that you take a realistic look at the project and assess and reassess as things change. We have done that a few times already this year, and this seems to be another good time for that. Chad has already adapted a bit to the new situation; even though his workout frequency has changed, he has been able to add variety by adding swimming, outdoor basketball, canoeing and biking to his repertoire. Also, because his weekends are busy, we try to fit in some brick workouts when the weather permits, such as biking and canoeing in the same afternoon. And when it comes to food, he will have a brat at the cookout instead of two, or even munch on veggies and go home to eat a healthy dinner if the potluck food doesn’t fit in his daily plan (i.e. no workout that day.)

So even though life is a bit wild right now, the lifestyle change has to continue to be part of that wild life. Chad is going a great job of keeping his lifestyle changes while adding lots of others to the mix!

“Its the hard that makes it great.”–Jimmy Dugan

As always, the wonderful graphs are courtesy of myfitnesspal.com.

Week #39, #40, & #41 Weigh-ins…and did I mention I’m a half-marathoner?!?!

Folks, I’m sorry about the gap between posts. I often get asked by well-meaning members of the public, almost every day in May and June in fact, “So, school year winding down?” I try to swallow my annoyance at the comment, and say something like, “Not too far now.” I realize that if you don’t work in schools, maybe even high schools specifically (having never worked in a different kind of school, I have no frame of reference) you have no idea that a school year is like the first rise on an roller-coaster. Things just keep going up, and then suddenly, the day after school lets out, you look up from a pile of rubble and ask, “Hey, where did everyone go?” In my job, then, I typically take the rest of June and the first two weeks of July to put a bow on the year just completed, take the last two weeks of July to recover, and starting August 1st, I get back on the roller-coaster for the next ride to graduation.

Not complaining. I like my job enough that I went out and found another one. Its just tough to get some people to understand what I do, when I do it, and that the end of a school year is definitely not a “winding down” kind of a thing. All of that was a long way to say I’m busy and blogging has taken a back seat.

Additionally, I’ve had a hard time being as motivated as I was in Aug.-April. Now that I’ve met that big 40×40 goal, it seems as if some of the weight-loss urgency has gone out of my sails, and it’s not nearly as much fun to write, “No significant loss this week,” as it was to write about losing 5-8# at a time.

I did weigh in at 304 in Week 39, at 304.6 in week 40, and at 303.2 on Thursday for Week 41. This means that I am, for the most part, maintaining my weight at that level and not gaining. However, that is disappointing because other goals are right there for the taking – dropping below 300#, hitting a 35 BMI, weighing 250#, being skinnier than Marcus 🙂 – these are all good goals and ones I haven’t made much progress on lately.

I have been keeping up the physical activity though, and I am confident that when things slow down a bit after graduation, I’ll be back on it.

Speaking of the exercise, if you read Michelle’s post earlier this week, you saw that I successfully completed my first half-marathon. This is not something that was on any goal list of mine; as you can imagine, offensive tackles don’t typically associate fun time activities with long-distance endurance events. However, Michelle wanted to run it, and it coincided with a long-walk training day in my 3-Day walk training plan…so I figured what the hell.

I set a goal of 3:30:00. That was based on the fact that I’d spent lots of time walking long distances, 7 miles or more, in the 16-17 min/mile range. I calculated that to walk 13.1 miles in 3:30, I’d need to average exactly 16:00 min/mile…and I thought this was doable. (Though I was secretly worried that I would not even finish before they closed the course at 4 hours and 15 minutes.)

The kink in my plan happened while in the starting que. I overheard a woman about my age talking with some of the other competitors that she was shooting for a sub-3 hour race. She said that she had done two other half-marathons and that her best time was 3:03. My strategy changed to “Stay within sight of that lady” immediately. Right or wrong, since I was already worried about finishing, I thought if I could stay with her as long as possible, I had a good chance of finishing sub-3:30.

I stayed right next to her, or a dozen steps behind, until we hit the bottom of Observatory Hill. We even struck up a conversation on the climb, one where I shared with her that she was my unknowing pacer. I learned that she was a dietitian; I shared my story with her, in between gasps of air. And she left me in her dust just after mile 2. I was a bit despondent, but I continued to try to struggle to keep her in sight. Even doing some light jogging when the gap started to get too much for me.

However, it seemed that, other than some real pain in my feet, I got stronger as the race went on. I think all of the strength work I did in the winter on the stationary bike, really seemed to help. As we got to mile 7, or 8, I passed her by, and for the only time in the race, I got a bit competitive. I had been running on the downhills as it seemed to save on my joints, if not in pounding, then in time it took to cover it. And as I passed her, we entered a long, sloping downhill. I ran it through, and ended up covering almost all of the next mile in a light jog; my most extended run of the day.

After we left the Arboretum, and then Vilas Park, I too struggled up the steep hill Michelle mentioned. I was alone at that point in the race though and didn’t have anyone to pass or to get passed by. It was a pretty solitary struggle, with a lone spectator at the top of the hill adding his shouted praise. It might actually have been my favorite part of the race.

At mile 11, I had 28 minutes to cover the remaining 2.1 miles to make it in under 3 hours. It was here that I both started to think it was possible, and began to worry that I was going to be just short. I alternated speed walking and really ugly shuffle jogging for most of that two miles. I did however, out of pride, refuse to run the last 1/2 mile, at all. Michelle had sort of intimated that she didn’t think I’d have the mental toughness not to run. I felt that anyone finishing in 3 hours, to run across the finish, who are they kidding, really?

So I walked across the mat in 2:58.xx. Pretty thrilling, really. I was exhausted, but also happy to have completed my first half-marathon. I was a little emotional, worried even that I might start to cry, but I kept it together. My emotions at a time like this are a little conflicted. One, I am amazed that I have come so far in such a short time. Two, I am proud of the effort I have put forward in the last 9 months. Three, I am ashamed that I let myself get so far out of shape. Four, I am embarrassed to celebrate completing something that, the only reason it’s an accomplishment, is because of the decades of no activity. Five,…well, you get the point. It’s not so clear cut for me. Maybe when I get to the point where I accomplish something I know I couldn’t have done at 20, then I’ll feel a more purely happy response.

As always, thanks for reading and…be careful out there!!!

Michelle’s Half of the Madison Half Marathon Race Report

Madison half before 5.26.13 CroppedMay, 26, 2013 was a landmark day for the fishstickstosushi blog, and the 40 X 40 (now 35 X 40) project. Chad and I both participated in the Madison Half Marathon! Since I am writing both as myself and Chad’s partner in his 35 X 40 effort, not only will I give a race report, but will also share some thoughts on Chad’s great accomplishment!

As anyone who has read the race report for my first half marathon ever has learned, I am a BOP-er (Back Of the Pack-er.) I am not fast. I don’t have long legs, or speedy genes in my DNA. I have never even necessarily trained to be fast, so again, its no surprise that I finish in the bottom third of my races. My training has been to make it through the race, and yes, I strive to improve if I am repeating a race, but that pretty much takes up most of my training time.

In order to stay focused and provide a final goal to help me through the dark, cold winter months, I decided to do the Madison Half Marathon, a spring race that’s part of the Madison Marathon Events series of races. (Actually, the reason this all came together is that Chad was supposed to walk this distance this same weekend as part of his Komen 3-Day training schedule, so it seemed destined.) When it came time to consider my goal time, I was at a loss, as usual. Having only done one half, I didn’t know what kind of improvement to expect. The course, number of participants and weather might be different, so as I always do, I tried to just look at my own race. What could I expect for improvement? I had originally hoped for 2:25:XX, which would be a 10 minute improvement over my last time of 2:36:32, which, admittedly, was me just trying to make it though the 13.1 miles. Could I get 2:25:XX if I tried for it? Again, I used Hal Higdon’s training plan, but I upgraded from Novice to Intermediate, which added some speedwork, which I needed! As I was training, I thought that the 2:25:XX goal might have been to ambitious, and I decided on the following “grading scale” for myself:

A=2:25:XX (or better)

B=2:30:XX (or better)

C=Better than last time of 2:36:32

On race day, wakeup time was 5 AM for the 7 AM start. It was cloudy and breezy with a bit of chill in the 50 degree air. I planned for shorts and a tank top, but instead wore a running t-shirt. I knew I’d be chilly at the start regardless, I just wasn’t sure how much it would warm up! I had an Einstein’s whole wheat bagel and peanut butter at 6, (I just can’t NOT talk about food!) and was able to eat 75% of it. (I always have trouble eating before a race; I still get nervous!) Chad and I got to the Capital square, made one last port-o-potty visit, dropped off our extra gear at the gear check station, and waited at the back of the pack, where the runners turned into walkers, to wait for the start. I kissed Chad good-bye when my 2:20 and 2:30 groups started off, and was more nervous for him than me as we parted ways!

The weather cleared up nicely, and since we ran up Observatory Drive, most people who wore jackets were taking them off before mile two. As it turned out, my clothing choice was just right! (Only runners who have made bad choices will appreciate the joy of this statement!)

Now comes the running! If I was to get an “A” on this race, my average pace would need to be about 11:04 minutes per mile. During the Madison Mini last year, I vowed not to look at my watch until after we came out of the Arboretum, which is around mile 8 or 9, since I wanted to enjoy the run and didn’t want to obsess over times. For this race, though I was still very casual about my time, I was curious about my pace. So I checked my watch at each mile. This is where it gets interesting! I never looked at seconds, just the minutes, but I averaged 11:XX for EACH mile, and there were never enough seconds to throw me off pace! What I mean is, my watch looked like this:11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 1:06, etc.! I was pretty darn proud of myself; not only was I consistently going faster than last year, but my mile splits were a thing of beauty!

A little more on “food;” I stuck with pretty much the same plan as last year. I took water at almost every station, and water + Gatorade when it was offered, and walked through each stop while I tried to drink the whole cup. (I wasn’t walking for more than 1 minute.) A couple exceptions: they were out of cups at mile 10, so I kept going (too bad, what with a huge hill coming up!) and skipped the last station after mile 12…every second counted by then and I was feeling well-hydrated. Also, I did not take any oranges, bananas or Gu offered on the course; I trained only with diluted Gatorade, and my one experience with Gu did not end well.

This course’s mile 10 mark was when we exited the Arboretum, and I thought I had it in the bag, but there were differences in the two courses, and this one was a doozy! We went up a VERY steep hill right in the middle of mile 10. Its one of those hills that from a distance looks like its going STRAIGHT UP! I had to make a choice here. I figured if I walked, like I saw a LOT of people doing, I would loose my shot at 2:25, and it also might give me a mental pass, and I wouldn’t push myself the rest of the race, either. I also knew that I couldn’t try and power up it at a fast pace, so its not like I could gain any real time here, and I didn’t want to bonk because of this hill. Deciding that I would be pissed at myself if walking led to a slower time, I decided NOT to walk. Granted, it could have been the slowest run in the history of running, but I KEPT RUNNING! I heard spectators talking to their runners, saying that more than half were walking up the hill, but they also said there was water and a downhill coming up. I think I may have passed one or two people during the hill, which was nice, but wasn’t the point; I needed to keep up my pace. As it turned out, that was my slowest mile, at 11:50, but it actually kept me thinking that I could make my goal.

After mile 10, I was trying to slowly increase my pace to finish strong, but with enough gas to get me to the line. I was able to pick off several runners and was feeling pretty good. But, for those who are used to running on the isthmus in Madison, all roads that lead to the Capitol (and the finish line) are gently rising uphills! The last three blocks were TOUGH, and it was touch-and-go whether I could make 2:25. This was the first time that I can remember REALLY having to push myself to get to a number that might be just outside my reach. Coming around the final corner, with just a half-block to go, I saw the clock had just turned to 2:25…I kept sprinting (I’m sure that’s not what it looked like at this point) until I heard my name and crossed the line. My time: 2:25:46!

Half Marathon Data

Fall 2012

Spring 2013

Net Time







212/244 (86%)

151/215 (70%)


1489/1725 (86%)

1098/1469 (75%)

Again, Madison treated me to a great race day! I walked through the finishing chute, picking up food and drink as I went. I was stiff and my butt was feeling that huge hill, but I was too happy to care. When looking at the results of my two different races, as shown above, I have to be loose with any comparisons. I do take a bit of pride, however, from the facts that:

  • My pace improved by an average of 49 seconds per mile!
  • My overall time improved by more than 10 minutes!
  • As mentioned earlier, my splits were quite even!
  • In both the division and gender categories, the percent of runners finishing ahead of me dropped by over 10%!
  • One more parting thought about my racing times and finishing places…I am about to enter a new age division, so LOOK OUT!

While this was definitely a lot to take in, the day was still only half a success at that point! After finishing and grabbing food, I picked up my gear bag and completed my Capitol Square walk to wait for Chad. We had signed up for Facebook updates, and just as I was checking my phone, I saw he passed the 10 mile point with a pace of 13:42 mile pace. I knew that would put him in ahead of schedule, but my mind couldn’t really do math at that point, so I didn’t dawdle and went to the line to greet him.

Madison half after 5.26.13I will let Chad give his own race report; no doubt it will be shorter than mine! But as he was training for this, and as I was waiting for him to finish, I couldn’t help but think of a conversation we had years ago, when I was just starting to do sprint triathlons. I had asked him if he wanted to do one with me, or maybe just a 5K. His response was something to the effect of, “No, because I wouldn’t be able to win, and I’m not doing something I don’t have a shot of winning.” Then there I was, years later, watching him walk a half marathon after losing 100#, with a 3-day, 60 mile walk still on the schedule for this year. I think he DID WIN!

Half marathon results 2.26.13 cropped

Click to enlarge

Spicy Arugula Salad

2013-05-18 11.09.53

A fuschia, great for baskets and a shade lover. See, mom? I was paying attention, and know more about flowers than I can really even believe!

After a long, cold, weird winter, it is finally spring! How do I know? The Madison Farmer’s Market is open on the square! Growing up in Madison with my mom, who is now a Master Gardener, the Farmer’s Market was almost a weekly event…at least in my memory. Mom wanted to get there as soon as possible in order to get the best plants. I remember walking around the Capital Square after mom woke us up before dawn on Saturdays to get to the market early, sometimes amid snowflakes! I also remember people huddled around trucks in the pre-dawn and claiming plants as they were unloaded, the “best” plants never even making it to the stands. After our early morning plant-grab, we were free to take things a little more slowly. That was when we got to eat doughnuts and pastries (I remember my favorite at the time, chocolate eclairs, and chocolate covered strawberries that, again, in my memory, were almost baseball-sized!) We would drink cider and buy delicious produce like sugar snap peas, sweet corn, and apples.

2013-05-18 10.58.30

The Farmer’s Market is really so much more…

Now that I’m all grown up, for someone who gets raging cabin fever in the winter and is a total food geek, the return of the Farmer’s Market is quite an event. But where my mother was mostly about the flowering plants, I am about the food! I buy produce and potted herbs and vegetable plants, and I indulge in a morning pastry! Fortunately, I have successfully converted Chad to a Farmer’s Market junkie, too, and we do what I assume others junkies do; the first lap around the Capitol is to window shop and the second lap is to buy. But the market isn’t the only attraction; there are always other things going on as well; this week we saw the Forward band playing on the street and a couple doing some pretty impressive 2-person yoga on the capital lawn. (I don’t think I’ve ever been closer to getting Chad interested in yoga!)

For my first farmer’s market recipe of the year, I am using something I didn’t even eat as a child…arugula! It is a very flavorful green. People call it peppery, and that’s no joke; it tastes like spinach that has had actual pepper added to it! The recipe I make with it is something I “stole” from a restaurant in New Orleans. I ordered it, tried it, and loved it, so I tinkered until I came up with something close. You can find similar recipes online, but this one is a simple salad with few ingredients and an intense flavor! (Really, this salad packs a punch; it can be made more or less spicy by the amount of spices used.)

Spicy Arugula and Mozzarella Salad2013-05-21 14.35.17
  • 8-10 oz arugula (about 6-8 cups)
  • 8 oz buffalo mozzarella: I prefer the pearl form if you can find them. Use more if you like it REALLY cheesy and creamy.
  • Pepper: 1/2 t if its a strong, freshly ground pepper. If its regular table pepper, use up to 1 t.
    2013-05-21 14.39.41
  • Red pepper flakes: 1/2 t if they are hot flakes (I buy Penzeys hot flakes) or 1 t if they are mild, which is what usual grocery store flakes are.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  1. Rinse and drain the arugula well. If you use greens that are too wet, the dressing doesn’t coat the leaves as well. Place in a large bowl.
  2. Separate the mozzarella pearls (“pearls” just means they are in the form of small balls) and scatter in the bowl. If you don’t have the pearls, dice your mozzarella into 1/2 inch cubes.
  3. Add the remaining four ingredients. If you are unsure of the strength of your spices, start with smaller amount and taste before adding more.
  4. Use a tongs to mix the salad well. The larger the bowl, the easier it will be to mix 2013-05-21 16.46.53without salad flying everywhere. Take the time to mix well, as the leaves can clump together and the cheese will fall to the bottom. You will be rewarded with a well-coated salad.
  5. Enjoy! This salad would ideally be served at the time its made. It can be served as leftovers, but note that the lemon juice will start to wilt the arugula slightly, so while the taste is the same, the greens will be softer.

2013-05-21 16.51.03The good news is that you can buy arugula at many grocery stores now, so you could make this salad all year round, but I feel buying and eating it seasonally gives you even more of that peppery taste.  The great flavor of this green, not to mention the other ingredients in this dish, helps to satisfy your taste buds more than tasteless iceberg lettuce ever could…no need to pour on the sugar-, salt- and fat-laden dressings here! Thank you, farmers!

More notes on arugula: You can easily grow arugula at home, from seed or plants that many garden shops and greenhouses carry. For more information on arugula, check out the More Matters website.