My Running Journey…

Ok…so I promised my cousin that I would write about how I got started with running…

Before I begin telling you about my running journey, I want to preface this by saying that everyone’s fitness journey is different and you have to do what is best for you, your body, and your life.  You need to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.  If your body doesn’t like something…it will tell you and there is a difference between challenging yourself and hurting yourself…so listen.

To begin your journey you will need:

1. A good pair of sneakers (running shoes, gym shoes…whatever you feel like calling them). When I started over year ago, I went to the Inside Track store in Mechanicsburg, PA where Jim (Shout-out to JIM!! Whoop! 🙂 ), who is extremely knowledgeable about fits of shoes for different foot needs and activities, helped me find the perfect shoes for my feet! (I have weird wide-toe-box-narrow-high-arch-feet and a neuroma in my right foot…so finding the right shoe is often difficult.) He explained to me that if I was looking for fashion, I came to the wrong place…to go with what feels right…instead of what is attractive. So a year later I went back and bought my second pair!



2. Good Music, Audiobooks, Radio….something to listen to. I find that what helps me keep my mind distracted from constantly looking at the BIG clock on the treadmill is something good to listen to. Often I listen on my TuneIn Radio app to my favorite radio station from back home (SHOUTOUT to 92.5 WXTU!! Whoop!! 🙂 )!! But I also find that a good audiobook or playlist on my iPod does the trick.  The past few days I’ve just had ONE song looped on my iPod because I love the upbeat rhythm, the beat is good, and the lyrics and voice aren’t too bad to listen to either (Avicii’s “Wake Me Up”)!! If I’m distracted, before I know it I’ve run 40 minutes! 

3. A little bit of time EVERYDAY.  Schedule yourself 30 minutes to a hour everyday to exercise.  This is your time to do what is right for your body.  If you can’t run, throw on your sneakers and get a good 30 minute walk in, or do a 30 minute DVD in your living room with your husband or kids. I hit the treadmill 5 days a week for about an hour, but on the weekends I try to find active things that my husband and I can do together.  We walk our local river trail, or walk to the local park, or do a circuit workout together in our living room, or find a new town to explore on foot. If you plan, you will succeed.

4. Inspiration and goals.  Really, a healthy YOU should be your inspiration. But whatever it may be, your kids, your family, etc. think about that and use it to challenge yourself to reach your goal.  I set a goal over a year ago to lose 30 pounds and even though I’ve had a few set-backs, I’m almost there.  We all can’t be RGIII or Heidi Klum and whatever your goal may be it won’t happen overnight, but keep your inspiration and goals in the front of your mind and you will succeed.


So now that I’ve prefaced my running journey, here is my story…

I am going to say something I’m sure many people will say about themselves….

I NEVER liked running. Not as a kid and certainly not as I’ve gotten older.  

In fact, I hated it

I hated it because I knew I wasn’t any good at it. I wasn’t fast. I wasn’t even kind of fast.

Let’s face it….I was slow. Like a turtle. (I like turtles!) 🙂

So through middle school, high school, and college I told myself I wasn’t a runner.

In one of my earlier posts I talked about how I got started with my “healthy new me” about a year ago (see here).  I started my exercises with walking…that’s it. Plain ol’ walking.

Then I was introduced to Leslie. She inspired me to get moving a little harder. 

I got moving and feeling GREAT!

Until I sprained my ankle…and now I have to finally come clean about HOW I sprained my ankle.  I like to tell people that I was “jogging” or “jogging around the neighborhood” because it’s less embarrassing.  BUT the truth is that I was about halfway through a Leslie DVD, in my parent’s CARPETED basement, JOGGING IN PLACE!! 

It’s embarrassing….I know! 

So, after my 2 months of physical therapy…I got back into my exercise routine by starting with Leslie again. Slowly at first, as I was a little afraid that I would have a mishap again.

Then we moved to Michigan.

Since I have lots of time I decided to get up every morning and get my sweat on with Leslie….well, that’s not so easy in a second floor apartment. :-\

We have a free fitness center in our complex so I ventured over one day to see what equipment was available and guess what I found….

Some inspiration….and a treadmill! 🙂

Sooo…I turned to Pinterest (that’s where we all turn when we need help figuring something out, right??)!! 🙂

I’m sure those of you who pin-away daily have seen some of these fitness ideas and maybe have even pinned a few of them….

Couch to 5k Running


Rainy Day Runner’s Workout



Color Runner Beginner 5k Plan



So with all of this “Pinspiration,” I decided to hit the treadmill running….(haha..get it? RUNNING!) 🙂

I actually started by WALKING….yes, walking…on the treadmill. I did this to get myself used to the way the treadmill feels, and how the controls work. (I was told by my physical therapist that you shouldn’t hold on when on the treadmill because you won’t walk/run naturally…so I needed to get used to the way this treadmill worked and felt.)

Slow and Steady…right? (It’s that turtle thing again…) 

I would walk 5 minutes at 4.0 (brisk) and then boost it up to 4.5 (very brisk) for 5 minutes. I would alternate 5 minutes at each speed for about 30 minutes total. (**Note: these are speeds that work for my body…go with speeds that work for YOUR body!)

Once I was comfortable with the treadmill and controls (after a day or two), I decided to try adding some running.  Again, I alternated between 5 minutes of walking (at speed 4.0) and 5 minutes of running (at speed 5.2-which is a comfortable jog/run speed for ME).

After I felt comfortable with this routine, I decided to challenge myself a little bit.

I would run longer and shorten my walks between runs.  Eventually, I could run 10 minutes and walk 1 minute between….

Then one day…I thought to myself during the last minute of my 10 minute run…

“Hey…I think I could go 5 more minutes!” 

AND so I did! 🙂

Each day I continued to challenge myself to run “5 more minutes” and now I can run a 5k distance in 35:53 and I usually run a total of 40 minutes with a 10 minute cool-down walk.

My goal is to run an actual 5k somewhere, outdoors, with a start/finish line, and hundreds of other people. But for now, I will keep working on my running and LISTENING to my body. 

Again, this is MY running journey….and I hope you find some inspiration here, but remember to do what is right for your body and always Listen to it….it’s a pretty brilliant machine.

I’d love to hear about your inspiration, goals, and fitness journey, so feel free to share! 🙂

Happy fitness!


Have You Had Your GREEN Today??

Hello, Monday!

After a fun and busy weekend with my husband I decided to get my week started with a nice long run….


I forgot to put the wash that was in the washer last night in the dryer and I have no clean workout clothes…danggit. :-\

So, instead…I made myself a green smoothie and got busy with the rest of the 24379302479 chores and things I need to get done before my parents visit us this coming weekend.


Now, I LOVE green smoothies!! 🙂

They are yummy and veggie/fruit packed and a great breakfast on the go!

You can customize them with whatever fruits and leafy greens float your boat for a protein and fiber packed punch!

I get a lot of my green smoothie inspiration from, but I kind of like to throw caution to the wind and make up my own flavor creations!

Here is what I made this morning:

2.5 cups of this into the blender,


1 cup of this into the blender and liquefy, 



1 container of this for protein,



1 cup of this sweet mix,



blend until SMOOTH…:)



Pour into your favorite drink receptacle and sip till your heart’s content! ❤


This is just one version that I’ve made…

but get creative…

Got berries: strawberries, blueberries, black or raspberries? Throw them in!

Got Bananas? Toss them in!

Got Kiwi or Melon? Give it a shot!

Got Kale or other deep leafy greens? Try with OJ as your liquid!

Throw in a tablespoon of Peanut Butter or almond meal for added protein!

SOOOO Go for it!

I’d love to hear what you’ve got blending in your GREEN smoothies, so post your faves below. 🙂 🙂

Happy Blending!

P.s. A Couple of Quick Tips for the BEST Green Smoothies:

  • Blend your leafy greens and your liquid FIRST! This will make sure it is nice and SMOOTH!
  • Use FROZEN fruit (or freeze your fresh fruit) to make the smoothie COLD (no ICE necessary)!
  • Rinse out your blender and cup right after blending and drinking with hot water…when the smoothie dries to the inside it becomes a pain-in-the-you-know-what to clean! 🙂





Breakfast: Avocado and Egg Pizza

Ok…so a second post for today…

This morning I made this for breakfast:



I got the inspiration/recipe here, but I made some changes (as usual). 🙂



  • 1/2 a ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • a dash of each to taste: garlic powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, ground cumin
  • 1 Mission Carb Balance medium-soft taco size tortilla
  • 1 Large egg
  • cooking spray

Cut your avocado in half and mash it (save the other have for lunch or some other yummy reason).



Add 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice and the seasonings to your liking and give it a stir.



Now take your tortilla….and toast it.

I used my panini press because I knew it would get it nice and crispy, but you could pop them on the rack in the oven, or heat it until crispy in a skillet. (BTW: these are my favorite tortillas because they are soft, loaded with protein and fiber, and lower in carbs.)







Look at that!! Isn’t it GORGEOUS!!

Now spread that yummy avocado mixture on top….and you’re almost there!



Cook your egg to your liking…poached, fried, hard-boiled & crumbled, etc. I cooked mine in a small skillet with a little cooking spray.

Plop that yummy, warm egg right in the middle of your avocado & ENJOY!! 🙂

Next time, I think I will drizzle a little of my favorite hot sauce on top.



Calories 308;  fat 17.5g; carbs 27.2g; fiber 17.7g; protein 12.4g


Spaghetti…Yes, Please!

So last night was awful….

I didn’t sleep a wink…my brain just wouldn’t shut off.  In fact I thought multiple times about getting up and writing this at 2 in the morning because I had written it and re-written it over, and over, and over in my head. :-\ 

I got up early and got my run in, but it was tough due to my sleep-deprived body…:(

Anyway…back to the real reason you are reading this…Spaghetti!

So, I need to start by saying that although I LOVE my husband to bits and pieces…he’s not the most adventurous eater. Our weekly meals consist of chicken, chicken, beef in various forms (but usually ground), pork tenderloin, breakfast foods, and…oh yeah…chicken.  He also isn’t a HUGE fan of anything green or resembling a vegetable and doesn’t think we need to have a green component to each meal. He does have a few favorites that we tend to stick to (mostly because I know he’ll eat them and I will make the same thing every night if I know he’ll eat it) like zucchini & yellow straightneck squash, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, and occasionally a salad.

Heaven forbid I have a vegetable AND a salad at dinner….:-o

So, as I pin away on Pinterest, I pin things that I think we can try and hopefully, *fingers crossed*, add them to our weekly rotation of meals.

Last fall, I pinned this recipe for Million Dollar Spaghetti found here and I made it a couple of different times for our church youth group and potluck meetings.  I always received rave reviews and requests for the recipe, but I never thought to try it out with my husband until just recently…


He LOVED it!!

(HOORAY!!!This is where I jump up and down with Joy and the clouds open and angels sing!!) 🙂

However, this recipe makes A LOT…I mean enough for a small army…way too much for just my husband and I (we ate the leftovers everyday for lunch and still had TONS left over!). So, I made it again the other night and decided to cut the recipe in half and add a secret ingredient! 🙂

*Note: I made the full amount of ground beef and red sauce, but only used half for the spaghetti and put the other half in the freezer for later.  I also didn’t use any butter and used reduced fat cheeses and sour cream.


  • 1 lb. ground beef (I used 90/10)
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato based pasta sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups Healthy 8 Veggies from Trader Joe’s, processed in food processor
  • 4 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Light sour cream
  • 1/2-3/4 cup 2% cottage cheese
  • 8 oz. Barilla Plus multi-grain thin spaghetti
  • 1 cup reduced fat shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend because it is what we have in our fridge)

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

Bring your water to a boil and cook the spaghetti noodles according to the package directions.

In a mixer or food processor, blend cottage cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese until smooth.



In a large skillet, brown your ground beef and drain any excess grease, if needed.

In food processor, add 1 1/2 cups Healthy 8 Veggies and process until fine almost paste. **This is a blend of 8 veggies (broccoli, jicama, carrots, green cabbage, red cabbage, green bell pepper, radish, celery), chopped up and ready for use in soups salads, etc. and it is my Secret Ingredient for sneaking in a little more veg!**



Add the finely processed veggie mix to your ground beef in the large skillet and cook for about a minute.  

Add in your favorite tomato based pasta sauce and stir. **Our favorite sauce is Rao’s Homemade Arrabiata, which is a little pricey, but totally worth the extra couple bucks!!**



Lightly grease an 8″x 8″ square pan with a little cooking spray and add about half of the cooked spaghetti noodles.



On top of the noodles, spread the creamy cottage cheese mixture into an even layer.



Add the second half of the noodles on top of the creamy mixture.



Top the second layer of noodles with HALF of the spaghetti sauce….remember you will freeze the other half! (LOOK at that steamy deliciousness!!)



Pop this bad boy into your preheated oven for 30 minutes!

After 30 minutes, take it out and add your shredded cheese to the top and pop it back into the oven for another 15 minutes!



Let cool for a couple of minutes after you take it out of the oven because it is HOT LIKE LAVA and you will save your taste buds….TRUST me! 🙂

Serve with a salad or your favorite veggies, and crusty Italian bread. YUMMO!



**Notice our veggies are steamed, sliced zucchini and yellow straightneck squash!!

This serves 6-8 depending on how generous you feel with your serving sizes!

Enjoy! 🙂

My Go-To Snacks for Snacking on the GO!

In my last post I said that my goal is to run a 5k…

It still is my goal, but I mean the outdoor, wind-in-your-face, start-finish line, people cheering you on kind of 5k with hundreds of other people.

Well…yesterday I challenged myself to run a 5k distance on the treadmill…AND I did it!! With the little cheerleader in my head (who looks an awful-lot like my husband ;-)) cheering me on and envisioning running across that finish line in my imaginary 5k, I did it!

I ran 3.106 miles in 35 minutes and 53 seconds! I was so stinkin’ proud of myself that I ran the last 4+ minutes to make it a full 40 minute run (3.76 miles total)!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂


I was so impressed with myself yesterday that I did it AGAIN today! (YAY Me!)

While I was running I was thinking about the different things that I could write about here…(It’s amazing where your mind can “run” when you are running…get it…run…LOL!) 🙂

And something that popped into my head are my go to low-calorie, fast, easy snacks. This is something that I often struggled with when I was first beginning my weight loss journey. I always seemed to be hungry between meals and didn’t know what to grab to satisfy the food monster that lives in my belly.

I now have an arsenal of go to snacks and I thought it might be nice to share.

The first one you might remember having as a kid…Ants on a Log.

*Note: My pictures aren’t the greatest because my camera is 7583427932 years old (ok…so I exaggerated a wee bit) and the lighting in my kitchen stinks, but you’ll get the idea.


  • 2 stalks celery, ends trimmed
  • 1 tbsp Peanut Butter (You can use whatever nut butter you prefer)
  • 1/8 cup dried plum pieces (traditionally you use raisins, but I like the dried plum pieces instead)

This is about 158 calories (give or take depending on your nut butter and dried fruit).

Greek Yogurt


Right not I’m particularly loving these 100 cal Greek yogurts from Yoplait because they are good by themselves as a snack, but I also love to throw a container (well, not the container) of it into my green smoothies! Lots of flavor and protein without a lot of calories…Yum!

String Cheese



I LOVE cheese….but cheese, sadly, is loaded with fat and calories.  With string cheese you get the delicious cheesy flavor without a lot of calories.  I tend to choose string cheese (also called cheese sticks) that are 50 calories or less per stick.  I’m digging the Polly-o mozzarella/cheddar twists…



Now I love all nuts: peanuts, cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, my family….(JK!), but these awesome nuts are conveniently packaged in 100 calorie portions, so you can’t go wrong! My favorite are the dry roasted! 

Crunchy Rice Rolls



My mom introduced me to these yummy little treats! (Thank you to Trader Joe’s for always being clever with snacking options…LOVE Trader Joe’s!)  These lightly sweet, crunchy sticks are rather large and only 45 calories per stick! That’s 90 calories for 2!

Peanut Butter Cheese Crackers


ohhhhh…yet another thing I LOVE! These are so yummy…the regular packages of these sandwich crackers are actually a little high in calories, but these are genius!  They are perfectly portioned to satisfy that peanut butter-cracker craving and only 100 calories per pack! Unfortunately, these are very hard to find at the store, but my lovely in-laws live where they sell them, so we tend to stock up when we visit!




Now, I have to admit…I have never been a very big fan of pickles. Recently, however, I’ve been enjoying the salty/sour tang of these ZERO calorie little gems! (Did you see that ZERO? Here it is again….ZERO!!) I’m sure if you ate enough of these there would be a calorie in there somewhere (besides the boatload of sodium), but you’d have to eat A LOT! 

Frozen Bars



These are for that sweet tooth! These are deliciously sweet for not many calories…the Outshine Bars are only 60 calories per bar and have yummy chunks of fruit in them.  The Yasso Greek Yogurt bars are 80 calories per bar and soooo creamy it’s hard to believe they are only 80 calories.  Both of these come in a wonderful variety of flavors….can you tell I like the coconut flavor??

Dark Chocolate Bites



Who doesn’t LOVE chocolate?!? Even those of us trying to be good with our calories and food deserve a little bite of chocolate every now and then…plus dark chocolate is good for us!  I keep these little packets of dark chocolate bites in my pantry and pull out a packet when I NEED that little chocolate bite!  A packet is 120 calories, but I usually only eat ONE PIECE and leave the opened package on the counter for the rest of the week… I have one bite per day (usually after lunch) and that satisfies my need for chocolate for that day. (You’re probably either thinking I’m nuts or lying…but it’s true!)

This is only a snippet of my snack arsenal, but I hope you found something new or rediscovered an old fave. Please let me know what your fave go-to snacks are…I love variety and would love to try something new!

Happy (& Healthy) snacking! 🙂


Curried Chickpea Salad…Hello, YUM!

A little over a year ago, I decided I needed a change. A change in my diet and exercise…or lack there-of.

I realize that weight and body-image are things that most women struggle with and coming from a family of lovely, wonderfully plump women, I knew that if I didn’t make a change I would have a bigger battle to fight through later on in life.

I wanted to make myself a healthier me. It helped that Mac was willing to do this challenge with me. At my heaviest, I weighed 180+ lbs., which is a lot of weight for my 5’6″ frame.
Me and Mac engagement
(Me at my heaviest.)

So, we started with cutting back on our daily intake of calories, counting calories/reading labels, and making sure we were eating high-protein, high-fiber foods. I kept (and still keep) a food/exercise journal with my daily exercise, foods and their calories, and my water intake. I carried this journal with me EVERYWHERE! I used the app on my phone to look up calories and log them into my journal.

When we started, I hated any exercise other than walking. I could do that…I was good at it. So, I would walk on our local trail and a good family friend introduced me to Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home DVDs. These are AWESOME for the lazy, out-of-shape person that lives inside all of us!

Needless to say, I became addicted! I would get up every morning and do a DVD for an hour before getting ready for work. This became my routine…

Fast Forward to April 2013 (and 25 pounds lighter)…

This happened:

ankleankle boot

What a set-back…two weeks in the boot and 2 months in physical therapy…

But once my ankle was better, I got back to my routine of exercise in the morning, eating right (with the occasional “cheat” day), and keeping my journal.

Since the move to Michigan, I’ve gotten into running! (Even my jaw still hits the floor when I say that!)

I challenge myself to run “just 5 more minutes” everyday. So far I can run 30 minutes without a break and then after a short 5 minute walk another 15 minutes! I’m pretty stinkin’ proud of myself!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

(This is me after my run this morning–my ELF ears are showing!)

My goal is to eventually RUN a 5k! I know I can do it!

So since I try to eat high-protein and high-fiber foods, I decided to make this recipe for Curried Chickpea Salad that my cousin shared on Facebook last week (Thanks, Dusty Jo!). You can find the recipe here, but I changed one thing and subbed in another.

I didn’t have the red onion that it calls for, so I subbed regular yellow onion. I also don’t have cilantro (it’s not a favorite in our house), but I do have lots of dried dill. It calls for 1/4 cup, but I thought that was a little excessive…so I only added about half that amount (1/8 cup).

This was DEEEEEEELICIOUS!! I had it as two lunches. The first day I ate it right out of the bowl by itself and today I added it on top of a mountain of baby spinach and added 1/4 chopped avocado! HELLO, YUM!


This deliciousness is only about 288 calories per serving (2) and it has a boatload of fiber (9.5 g) and protein (10.9 g).

This made me a HAPPY girl!

I hope it makes you happy too! 🙂

(Oh, and I’m almost 40 lbs lighter than the picture at the top of this post!)

Welcome to ELF!!

You may be asking yourself…”What is ELF?” 

Well, recently my husband and I moved to Michigan and since I am currently unemployed, I have accidentally become a……wait for it……HOUSEWIFE.  Cue the dramatic music…

The term “housewife” brings to mind the movie Pleasantville, The Stepford Wives and an old article from Housekeeping Monthly (1955) that refers to the rules a “Good Housewife” must follow.



So, with these laughable rules in mind (not that my husband would require me to follow any of them…maybe in his dreams)…I was not initially excited about the thought of being home all day.

What was I going to do with myself (besides look for a job)?

However, I realized that my housewife status gives me the opportunity to do, make, and create A LOT of the crafty, fun, and delicious things I pin on Pinterest and find in cookbooks, which I didn’t have time to do when working three jobs.  

Let’s face it, I LOVE to cook, bake, and be crafty. It makes me a HAPPY girl.

So, these are my Everyday Life Files or ELF. This is where I will share my adventures and misadventures in cooking, baking, cleaning, fitness, and crafty fun.


Oh…and there is one more reason for the name…

Elf just also happens to be the nickname my husband gave me when we first started dating and he makes me HAPPY, too! 🙂 🙂