Sunday Smoothie Sharing – my 67.5 mile Week, Six Things and Breakfast and Dessert Smoothies

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Is it really Sunday May 4th already?!? When did THAT happen? This week has flown by and has been very eventful – my trip to Troy (post coming tomorrow), Lisa had a work trip, the boys had a concert, Chris had a ‘Chem Bowl’ competition, Danny had the SATs … and whew we’re exhausted!

Laura from the gluten-free treadmill is having a link-up for Smoothies – so I wanted to share … but a few other things first!

My Running Summary

Yeah, I said I wasn’t worrying about these anymore … and I’m not worrying about them – but I will still do them on occasion! This was a great week, so here is my weekly summary:

Sunday: Travel & Rest
Monday: 9. miles
Tuesday: Double – 6.75 miles and 9 miles
Wednesday: 10.25 miles
Thursday: 9.25 miles
Friday: 9.25 miles
Saturday 15.5 miles including one mile I saw at 8:03!

Yeah … that is 68.75 miles! It is the most I have run since it was warm last year … and I feel great! I was thrilled just to be out there this week – the coldest morning was in the mid-30s and most days were in the 40s! I had fast and slow days, but really just loved every stride all week long.

Six Things for Sunday

1. Taper Hypochondria – I am directly stealing the title from Running Bear, who documented every little ache and pain he had leading up to his marathon (which I am SURE he ROCKED!) … and it makes me smile, because I totally get it!

And at the same time I have been reading things from others leading up to races from Sara before Boston (which SHE rocked), Salt (who continues to amaze), Laura (who struggled in her Ultra and is slowly coming back), Cori (made the hard decision to skip her marathon), and Aimee (just had to drop).

Obviously real injuries and those niggles we all feel are very different – but it is interesting to me how the impending race has an amplifying effect on every little twinge. I was about a mile into my 15.5 Saturday run and had a little twinge, which was long gone and never returned by the second mile – but it had me thinking about what I would think if I was approaching a race.

Do you suffer pre-race hypochondria?

2. Shape Magazine – I have always been clear that while I am the thinnest and fittest of my life, the impact of having been >375lbs at 23 has a lifelong impact on my body. My skin fits better now than ever, but there is no way I will look like a fitness model … ever.

This week there was an article highlighted for me by Danielle about a woman who was being featured in the ‘Success Stories’ for Shape magazine after 170 lb weight loss … but when things got close to the end the magazine requested a different ‘after’ picture, and the one she had sent showed very clearly what a body looks like after extreme weight loss.

I don’t claim to know any of the inner workings of any of this, but I DO know a couple of things:
Unreality sells – people want to think that there is a quick & easy path to looking like their favorite celebrity or like one of those hardbodies in the marketing materials … so magazines have little interest or incentive to show what extreme weight loss REALLY looks like.
Reality is real – and we need to have more of it. If you read some of the comments, you see many themes, and for me the worst was people saying that seeing an image of a woman who had lost so much and had ‘loose skin’ would be UN-motivating, why not just stay fat in that case?

That just makes me sad – we should be proud of our bodies, and for those of us who have lost loads of weight, we need to own the fact that the result will never be the perfection we might have envisioned at the start. I joke about my ‘4-pack’, how I am really fit and toned but will NEVER have a full 6-pack. And I am OK with that … well, alright, not OK enough to post my picture, but still …

3. Injuries Make Me Sad – the other day I was driving the kids somewhere and saw a young woman who I often see out running in the early evenings most of the year. But this day she was in shorts (always a yay! for warm weather) … and I could see she was taped up in a way that said to me ‘IT band problem’. And her face as she passed by the end of the road and we waved – not her normal smile. Ugh.

And then yesterday morning I saw a guy in his 50s out running as I was getting close to the end. He is another one I see often, but haven’t seen more than once or twice since the fall. And even though he wasn’t far from home, his knee was wrapped and it was clear that the run was a struggle.

And I mentioned all of the other folks struggle with injury, as well as others. I know I am really lucky – 25 years without an injury. But I don’t take it for granted – knowing how much running means to me makes me sad for those who end up hurt.

4. Serendipity – I love when I find out others doing similar things; I had a new friend from my fraternity who ran the same distance (15.5) as me yesterday, and for whatever reason having friends on Facebook who were out for runs at the same time, or on Instagram posting gorgeous weather when I had great weather, or whatever.

Maybe it is a way to have a shared experience across the miles, but it is a small connection that means something when I can’t actually go running with someone else.

5. Hold Crap … Will We Never Learn? – for whatever reason there are times when drivers on phones really bug me. Last weekend in Troy I ran about 15 or so miles between two days, and as I ran I was astounded at the number of drivers talking – and even more so texting … it was appalling! There are just more cars than where I live so I expected to see more … but then returning this week I’ve had two ‘daylight’ runs and was again appalled at all of the phone use. Here is a brutal reminder of how little it takes:

6. Perspective – again on Facebook I had a friend from work who I haven’t seen in a while post “Knowing that I am so out of shape makes me sad…two miles just kicked my butt…darn these bad knees.”

And I didn’t know what to do or say other than to ‘like’ it and give a quick comment of encouragement. But it again reminds me of my total lack of perspective – here I am pushing 50, just going out running long distances at will, good bones and joints and overall health. It really made me stop and think.

Sunday Smoothie

Sunday Smoothie Sharing!

I love that Laura has created a link-up for smoothies … because for the last few weeks I have been all about making smoothies all the time. So I had two recipes to share – one for breakfast and a dessert smoothie. They are both quite good, not really complete meals but

Decadent Ice Cream Sundae Smoothie

This is somewhat of a go-to dessert for me, and I totally love it. It is like an ice cream treat – if you have never had a frozen banana … you have no idea what you’re missing!

Ingredients:
– 2 frozen bananas
– Frozen mixed berries (or fresh, if in season)
– Vanilla unsweetened almond milk
– Grated cocoa or chocolate
– (optional) crushed peppermint or walnuts to top

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The first thing I do is to prep the bananas – cut off the ends, slit the sides and slice into 1″ pieces. This will make the skin fall off most bananas … but recently we’ve had very thin-skinned ones locally so I haven’t worried about it too much. Note: if you leave the skin on, you should really get organic bananas.

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For better blending I suggest doing the bananas in some of the almond milk first. I use the vanilla unsweetened because I found the plain almond milk a bit too savory and it detracted from the banana sweetness.

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Once the mixture is purely liquified, you can add other ingredients. If it is too thick, add more almond milk.

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Dump in a few tablespoons of chocolate bits and fill with the berries, then add more almond milk to fill it to the ‘max’ line. I will often add chopped walnuts or pecans or almonds at this point as well.

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This should be a much thicker combination, and it will slowly combine fully. Here you can see the berry part slowly combining into the main banana mix.

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At this point you should need a spoon to eat the smoothie – personally I like it better this way than as a milkshake consistency. Then I take a little peppermint ‘snow’ (Trader Joes, leftover from a Christmas gift) and mix it in with a spoon and sprinkle it on top.

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The flavor profile is interesting – you get banana throughout, but at first you have peppermint, then berries, and the chocolate sneaks in after that, and the aftertaste combines it all. Because of the banana it is very filling … and really not the worst dessert for you!

Breakfast Smoothie

I love breakfast smoothies as well, combining fruit, yogurt, nut butter and more! Here is one I had yesterday before my long run:
– Pitted dates (loaded with fiber)
– Vanilla Greek yogurt
– Vanilla unsweetened almond milk
– Peanut butter

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This is one of those ‘add stuff to blender and go’! Recipes. For me, I do 1 yogurt serving, 2 servings of dates, 2 tbsp peanut butter, and fill to max with the almond milk.

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My goal was that this was drinkable – so it is much thinner than the dessert smoothie.

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One thing – the dates were not fully incorporated and so it ended up a bit chewy here and there. If you have texture issues I would suggest blending them alone before adding everything else.

So … tell me how YOUR week was? Running, dealing with injuries, experience with body image issues or distracted drivers, and what about smoothies?

Throwback Thursday – The Zoo Crew

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Some of my greatest memories from college are wrapped around my fraternity and the great friends I had there. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the founding, so there will be a big celebration in late April that I will be attending – and as a result my times at the fraternity have been in my mind quite a bit lately.

Theta Xi fraternity was founded at my alma mater (RPI), making our chapter the Alpha chapter and making us feel connected to not just the history of our chapter, but also the overall history of the organization.

But that isn’t why we’re here …

I have a bunch of pictures taken through the years, many on my classic Kodak Disc camera. I also accumulated a few from others, and since two of my best friends (Ken and Jeff) were really good photographers – and Ken took a photography class that gave him access to a darkroom and development equipment – I ended up with even more.

The ‘collage’ at the top is a set of those, and was hung on my wall for a while, and has been safely stored since. You might notice at the bottom right a set of evenly-spaced holes on a tear-off strip. If you don’t know what this is, please setop – you’re making me feel old!

Here are the pictures one at a time:

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My caption was ‘The Big McNugget’ … yeah, not a small guy, and really in need of a shave.

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Ken being Ken. We all know those people who CAN actually pose for a nice picture, but has much more fun putting on a bit of a show. I would say that ~75% of my pictures of Ken featuer ‘personality in action’.

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Jeff – or JT as we called him – could grow a major beard back in high school, and sported one throughout college. He also had a green jacket and overall look that earned him the ‘terrorist’ label back before that was something you just wouldn’t say.

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The crew and the Zoo Mobile – this one Ken took of us out shopping in the Albany area. It is JT, myself and Nigel. Nigel transferred in and quickly became one of our best friends, and the group of us – including Pete K and some others – were inseparable. He definitely played up his British accent for the ladies, and so it is too bad that he left owing the house a decent debt and has basically not been heard from since. I had a brief exchange several years ago after I found him online, but that went cold as well.

We are leaning against what we called the Zoo Mobile. It was a little beater that Ken bought, and it really needed some help in terms of appearance, so we decided to really do it up! It was over summer break and … well, you can see the results.

To this day most of us are still in contact, and many of us will be back in Troy in late April. That particular weekend is overflowing with other family things (Proms, music events, etc) which makes leaving more stressful, but I am completely ready and excited to get to hang out with old friends, none of whom I’ve seen in 5 years, and many of whom I haven’t seen in more than 25 years!

So what special college memories do you have? Do you do any reunion things?

Running Blogger Weight Loss Stories Remind Us Of What We Don’t Know

My beautiful picture

In case you can’t tell, I am the 350+lb guy on the left

This week as I have struggled to complete the second and third part of my ‘running story’, I have come across two different posts at a couple of my favorite blogs that tell stories of weight loss and body image from bloggers I wouldn’t necessarily associate with weight loss struggles. It reminded me of how my own weight loss history and body image differs from the perception many people have of me – and how it illustrates that there is often so much we don’t know about people.

Here is a bit from my ‘Weight Loss Story’ journey:

In terms of eating, it is easy to look back and say that I was doing ‘calorie restriction’ at an extreme level. I would have a slice of unbuttered toast and a half grapefruit without sugar for breakfast. Salad with non-fat dressing and rice cakes for lunch. And a very limited dinner – at times I would have one food group per day for dinner. All while running a couple of miles and playing basketball for about 20 minutes daily.

I was fascinated with the feeling of being hungry, convinced that it meant I was losing weight and doing the right thing so long as it was just a hungry, empty feeling and I continued eating 3 meals per day.

Cori at She’s Going the Distance (now TRY to get the song out of your head) wrote about how she found herself 30 lbs overweight and how she struggled with the weight and feelings that came from eating things she knew were unhealthy:

I’ve been asked before if I was ever “fat.” The answer is no, however, I was overweight and unhealthy for my body, height and frame. The picture above might not look that bad, but i was 30 lbs heavier than i am now, a full bra cup size larger and 6 dress sizes larger. Like I said, I wasn’t 100 lbs overweight or anything, but 30 lbs of pure excess weight is a lot when you’re not doing any type of exercise (and I gained it quickly in about 6 months).

The problem was I knew I was eating bad, eating late, and not exercising. The turning point (cause you know everyone has that A-ha! moment) was when I tried to button my “fat jeans” and they barely made the button hole. I turned to my then boyfriend and asked, “Have I gained weight?” to which he replied, “I mean, you’ve gained weight since we started dating.” <— yep, we broke up very shortly after that.

Laura at This is Thirty wrote a couple of great articles over the last couple of weeks – one about food judgment and the other about how she lost 100 pounds! Here is a bit of the first post, where she talks about taking weight loss too far and not focusing on health:

“When I was losing weight, the very thought of food was constantly lurking below the surface – it became a pervasive, almost threatening presence. For me, counting calories was an addiction – and nutrient deficient foods became my drug. Because of that, telling me that I was eating the wrong things or that I was hurting myself by putting artificial sweeteners into my body wouldn’t make me change my eating habits. But it certainly exacerbated my hyper-focus on food”

That reminds me of a conversation I had long ago – where someone said that they would love to find a food that tastes good, was filling, and basically traveled from your mouth to your butt (sorry!) with as little interaction with the rest of your body as possible. And while I didn’t say so at the time, isn’t that pretty much what MOST people looking to lose weight would like? Sure we want to eat healthy, certainly we want nutrition … but there are times when we would just like to feel nice and full … but without any consequences.

Life, unfortunately, doesn’t come without consequences. The good thing is that deciding you are going to eat one meal until you are so full you can’t move doesn’t come with permanent life-altering consequences – it just means you dumped a ton of calories into your body and need to deal with it.

But back to weight loss and body image – I remember seeing friends at a fraternity reunion in the fall of the year I lost weight (1989). Actually one of my ‘little brothers’ brought it up in a conversation last week as he was talking about how many years it took him to visually identify me as the ‘skinny Mike’ rather than ‘fat Mike’. At that 1989 reunion, my body was still ‘reshaping’ (consequences of extreme weight loss) so a common theme was my head looked too big for my body.

Through the years I have met loads of people with whom the topic of weight loss came up – and seldom do any of them look at me and easily believe I once weighed 375 pounds. They just can’t envision it. Which is good, but it doesn’t alter the reality that I still carry that person inside of me every day. I have had many people – even those who knew my history – make blanket statements about obese people and defining characteristics (similar to the professor at NYU recently).

It really has opened my eyes to the power of perception to shape reality.

We all have our own stories when it comes to weight, perception and body image. I have shared mine and will continue to do so, and I love the stories from Laura and Cori. I encourage anyone reading this to share there own on their blogs (or here) or to link to ones they have written – or even ones from other people that they’ve read. Sharing our experiences helps us all grow.

Also, since I am enjoying following so many of you on BlogLovin’ I wanted to get myself involved …

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