Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Is too much reflection bad for you? It is if you are feeling sorry for yourself. Time to stop with the PITY PARTY!!

My last post was over a year ago.  WOW! Time does fly by, and sometimes, Life doesn't fly by the way you envisioned it would.  I am not sure why I am writing in this blog now, especially after so much time since I last wrote, but I suppose it is to reflect on better times and times that I wish I had back.  Maybe I am trying to put the past year's events and even events further than just a year ago, behind me.

Lately, I seem to generate more excuses for myself than solutions. I am starting to realize how important it is to leave the past exactly where it is, in the past, and stop making excuses for myself and just start LIVING the way I know I should.

I could go into detail after detail of the issues that I have went through with my fitness levels and how busy my life has become, but I guarantee there are people that have had to deal with my exact (and even worse) situation(s) and don't make excuses AND keep their fitness levels where they need. Knowing that fact makes this past year that much more pathetic and even more the reason to move on and focus on the future.
So if anyone is wondering (which I doubt anyone is even reading anymore); I have gained some of my weight back because I have been making excuses and genuinely just feeling sorry for myself. I guess I have been throwing myself a "pity party" and enjoying the cake and ice cream way too much. I originally lost about 170 lbs. and since that time, I have gained back at least 60 lbs. (and that is on a really good day!)

It's not that I am eating fast food and sitting on the couch all day long, I still eat rather healthy (whole grains, vegetables, not a lot of enriched or processed foods, only water and coffee).  I also work on my house after being at work all day, so I am fairly active all day long.  The main thing I have stopped doing is exercising. Other than walking the dog around the block, I have ran very little, biked even less and a big FAT zero for lifting weights or attending exercise classes over the past four to five months. So when you hear the experts say that you have to exercise AND eat right in order to consistently maintain a healthy lifestyle, they aren't making that stuff up.

So, with all that "boohooing" and "pity partying" hopefully out of my system, I am excited to try something new for a change - looking forward instead of behind me; focusing on a healthier future and not getting frustrated and pissed on how far I have regressed.

It's time for me to quit making excuses and just do what I KNOW I am capable of doing!

Hopefully, the next time I post, it will be less than year and I will be chipping away at that 60 lbs. I gained. That way I won't have to change the name of my blog to "Jason's Weight Gain Journey."

Until then, let's focus on getting leaner and healthier and let the rest fall where they may...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Lessons Learned ~ 2013 Edition

WOW! Has it really been two months since my last post?  I am slacking – BIG TIME! Well, there is one thing I know for certain, no one is sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to read my blog posts (which is good, because then I would have to question your sanity).
Anyway, just to update everyone on my 2013 progress – there IS no progress.  Yes, I am maintaining my weight but my racing calendar has once again changed.  I am no longer planning to do the Southern Indiana Triathlon as I intended but still plan to do the Buckhead Border Challenge Triathlon on July 22nd.  As far as any other summer races; I am hoping to register soon for the Great Buckeye Challenge Half-Iron Distance Triathlon this week.  Yesterday, I paid and registered for the 2013 US Air Force Marathon in Dayton, OH on September 21st! I am really excited about the Air Force Marathon for a number of reasons which I will discuss in more detail in the following paragraphs.  
So, overall, it appears that my race season will start a little later in the year than initially planned but a race season is still a race season regardless of the time of year it is done.  Last year, the race season started early for me and I ended up fizzling out too soon.  This year, I am starting my training and the bulk of my races to avoid what happened last year.  I am still very new to these sports and since I do not have a coach (or the money to get one); I am just trying to learn from my mistakes year to year.  After all, if we don’t learn from most of our mistakes, then how can we ever expect to get better?

Ok, now on to what I have already learned this year: 

Lesson No. 1 – Never expect that your training will go exactly as planned.
Lesson No. 2 – Never assume that tapering for a race is just for elite or “really” fast runners.
Lesson No. 3 – Listen to your body and do the “smart” thing which is not to be confused with the “what we want to do” thing. 
Lesson No. 4 – Never assume that you are immune to sicknesses, regardless of how long it has been since your last sniffle or cough. If you assume that, you WILL get sick!
Lesson No. 5 – If you are sick, and you can’t breathe without hacking up alien life forms, DON’T RACE! Save it for the next one, because there will be other races.

So, with only one race under my belt this year (Derby Day Stakes 10K), I have already learned quite a bit.  Unfortunately, some of those lessons, I had to learn the hard way.  This leads me to address my main topic; getting sick right before race day, and not just any race day, one of the big races on my schedule for the 2013 season.  I am talking about the Kentucky Derby Marathon that I was supposed to run on April 27th.

Let me explain the series of events that led up to one of the hardest decisions I have had to make:

It was about a week and a half before the marathon; I had run a 23 mile long run that previous Sunday and was still feeling a little sluggish two days later.  I never felt still sluggish two days after my long runs so I attributed it to the new idea I had, not really tapering for the marathon.  I have tapered before and had no success so I figured tapering for a race was just intended for the faster runners (Lesson No. 2).  I was willing to try something new so I just kept pushing myself even though something told me that I should take it easy.  I was getting short on breath and staring to develop a cough.  Surely, I thought, there was no way I could be getting sick; I haven’t been sick in over two years, I can’t get sick a week before the race, NO WAY (Lesson No. 4).  Well, I kept pushing the training thinking that I would just train right through the sickness and I would be fine and everything would be better after the weekend.  I came to find out that it just got worse, my cough was getting deeper and I started having real issues breathing, but I kept running little by little even though my body was telling me to stop (Lesson No. 3).  Well, the Monday came before the marathon and I was really having a hard time so I went to the doctor and was told I had bronchitis. What? There was no way I had bronchitis much less this close before the marathon.  I was prescribed an antibiotic and told if I felt better, then, I could race in the marathon, but it all depended on how I felt. Believe it or not, I already had my mind made up that I WAS going to race no matter how I felt (A little of Lesson 3 & 5 here). Well, it got down to Thursday and I ran about 2 miles and had to stop almost every 0.5 mile mark to cough and hack my brains out, but yet I was still telling myself “I was going to run this marathon.”  So how could someone think, just two days before a 26 mile race, that they would still be able to run when they couldn't even make it 0.5 mile without coughing like a 40- year old chain smoker.  But yet, that was my thought process. 

The next day, after much hesitation and deliberation, I listened to my body, and cancelled my hotel reservations; I wasn't going to run this one.  I was going to try and be smart and sit this race out and get healthy (Lesson No. 5 finally learned). I wanted to run so bad but knew I wouldn't be able to finish and wasn't helping myself by being stubborn.  So, I didn't race, but since, I have gotten back on my feet, ran a 10K, not a very good time, but completed and with both lungs intact.
So that is how I learned some very valuable lessons without before really running a single race.  They say training is where you learn how to run your races and that is exactly what happened, I learned lessons by the problems faced during my training.  I learned that I need to taper, listen to my body, do the smart thing and not necessarily what I “want” and most of all, take care of myself and allow my body the time to get better.  

These sound like such simple things, but when you train for months for something and a week before, you have to admit that you aren't able to do it; trust me, it isn't such a simple decision at all.

This experience and the fact that I missed the official start of my 2013 race season is what has fueled a fire to run the Air Force Marathon and hopefully, do it a little smarter this time around. 

The start of 2013 has been a bit of struggle, hopefully that means that I will be stronger and “smarter” towards the rest of 2013. One can only hope.  So for those of you who are training for your own races, best of luck!
Until next time…

I am training for races, getting stronger, and most of all, hopefully getting smarter…just keep running.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Spring Is Here! Time to Sweat Again!

If you read my blogs from last summer, you will find out just how much I love the heat during training.  Well, not so much the heat, but the thick humidity that keeps your sweat stuck to you as you train.  Well, to save you some time, the answer is "notsomuch." I love to sweat during runs, bike rides, and, well...swimming you don't really... OK never mind on that one.  But anyway, I love to sweat and work hard, but to sweat when it is so humid that the sweat doesn't evaporate and sticks to your clothes and it looks like you just went swimming with all your clothes on?

Well, Fall marks the beginning of no water bottles needed on the runs and Spring marks the beginning of sweating buckets of water.  Either way, living in Kentucky, I at least get a chance to enjoy the change in seasons, yes I even get to enjoy the humidity (haha). Although, I do enjoy running in the cold weather, I knew it wouldn't last forever so I welcome Spring and my second full racing season!

This year will hopefully start off with the same race as last year, the Heart and Sole Sprint Triathlon in Versailles, KY on April 20th. Last year, it was my very first triathlon and I learned so much from that race alone. I learned about how to seed my swim time properly, perform transitions faster, and so much more.  Well, if I can, I will be doing that race and then, a week later, I will be revisiting the spot of my first marathon, the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville, KY on April 27th.  I cramped up on mile 24 of this race last year and lost my chance of finishing under 4 hours. Unfortunately, this year, marathon training has been rather sluggish so I am not sure if this is the marathon that I will be able to get under that 4 hour mark.  Either way, I will give it my best and that is all I can do.  I may have a great day or I may be walking after mile 20.  What matters is that I finish the race, no matter if it's crawling, walking, rolling, running, limping, or hobbling across, just as long as I cross that finish line.

I have also registered for the Buckhead Border Challenge Olympic Distance Triathlon and will probably do the Southern Indiana Olympic Triathlon too.  After that, sometime in September, assuming I am still healthy, I will do one of the Half Iron-Distance races in Ohio. Then in October, I am doing the Bourbon Chase 200-mile Team Relay Race. I have never done a relay race before so I am really looking forward to that.   

Well, my training is still ramping up, like I said, rather slowly this year.  Not really sure why, but it has taken longer for me to find my motivation to start the season, but I am in my second week of full build training.  I have been running, but when I say full build, I mean training for triathlons. Each week, I try to get in my marathon training runs along with workouts involving swimming, biking/spinning and strength (body weight exercises and weights, stretching, yoga, etc.). I am still no too keen on getting in the pool, but not nearly as bad as last year.  I have been in the pool about 7 times over the past two weeks and have felt more confident each day; my endurance still sucks, but I will build up to that.

I don't know exactly what is in store for me this year, but I do know that I still enjoy it and not one second do I miss the Jason of old. Hopefully, I have put the unhealthy, larger and lazy Jason behind me for good.  I have always heard that people with large amounts of weight loss end up gaining quite a lot, if not all of the weight back within two years of losing it.  Well, I am still in that two year period, but I cannot imagine going back to that lifestyle.  I enjoy who I have become and the challenges I have pushed myself through. I have also met new people, people that are focused, determined and very willing to lend advice or even a motivating message.  The people I have met over the past two years are people that sacrifice their own lives for the chance to race for charities, hospitals, medical research, animals, lost loved ones, and those who cannot get out and race.

So I will end this blog post welcoming the upcoming season similar to the way I did last year, putting the old Jason behind me, welcoming the new race season, and remaining humbled by the people that make up these sports.

Good luck to everyone this year! I hope everyone gets a chance to race and maybe even set a personal record! If anyone wants to share your race events this season, please comment.  I would love to hear what everyone is planning!!

Looking forward to the race season, the training, and yes, maybe even the swimming...but always, looking forward to the running!

Unit next time...

Monday, 18 February 2013

Struggling, No Easier Way to Put it, Just Struggling. But Why?

As I get prepared for essentially my second full race/triathlon season, I am overcome with different feelings.  First, I am nervous about new challenges that I know I will be faced with during the season.  I am also worried about my motivation - Will it ever be the same as it was last year or even the year before when I first started this journey? I am into a little more than 2 years since my weight loss and I am starting to understand why a lot of people that lose a large amount of weight have a hard maintaining the weight loss.  It seems once you have done a lot and worked so hard for things, you would hope that if you keep doing exercising and even back off just a little, then because of all your hard work, your body will just maintain. NOT! WRONG! NO WAY! and what ever else you want to add to those.

Either way, it's the wrong mentality.  Just because someone loses a lot of weight and they work hard, doesn't mean that once the weight is off, the party is over, because it's not.  Actually, it really has just begun.  Regardless, losing weight and KEEPING it off is one of the hardest things I have done.  What is even harder is to look in the mirror and see the weight gain.  Even though the scale says that added weight is there, looking in the mirror and seeing it is very hard for someone who had just got over being used to seeing a 400 lb. man in the mirror.  It's harder to really see those extra pounds especially when so much weight has been lost from the beginning.

Just to give you an example.  Let's say I show you 170 lbs of bricks; that would be a lot of bricks! But let's say I have you turn around and then I take 15 lbs. of bricks away from that 170 lbs. worth of bricks. When you turn around, assuming that original pile of bricks was pretty substantial, you hardly notice any difference.  Maybe a little difference, but certainly not something so dramatic as taking 50 or 60 lbs. away.  Well, that is why I think it is hard for some people (including myself) to see any changes in just 15 lbs. of weight gain.  Sure, I can make excuses like "I am in the off-season" or "work is really busy" or "family life is really hectic right now" or "I really am trying to recover my body."  Now, those can be valid excuses, but not if it's the excuse as to why I gained weight, that should be the reason why I don't have the endurance to go run a marathon right this second or compete in a Half-Ironman, but not why I gained 15 lbs.

Assuming I did what normal, experienced (and smarter) triathletes, duathletes, and other endurance athletes do during the off-season  I would have only decreased my workout and exercise regimen by a maximum of 40% not the 60 or 70% that I have done.  And I also shouldn't be taking off more than 6-8 weeks to re-energize for the upcoming season.  It's simple, I am not getting any younger and I need to be smarter about how to exercise and develop an off-season regimen to keep my "fitness level" where it needs to be so that when I start training, I am not starting back at square one.  That's kind of where I put myself now.  Sure, I may not be starting exactly where I started two years ago, but I damn sure haven't done myself any favors.

Anyway, I am not putting all my errors and nonsensical (got that word form my boss) decisions into this blog post to show everyone how stupid I am, but I am doing it to hold myself accountable and ensure responsibility with this weight loss journey that I decided to put myself though. Yes, I am the one who said weight loss was one of my keys to a better life and so I must take credit for ALL of my misguided decisions. I am also putting this info on here in the hopes that someone reading this and possibly going or have gone through the same struggles can gain insight or understanding that there are others out there who, after weight loss, still struggle with maintaining weight.  I know it is something that I am going to have to watch every day, week  month, year and decade of my life, but I have to understand that is normal and should be expected.  I have said it before, just cause i may not look exactly like the fat man that I was a couple of years ago doesn't mean that he isn't still inside of me telling me to sit down and watch TV instead of going for that run or telling me it doesn't matter how much you eat as long as it is pretty healthy.  Yes, that man still lives inside of me and not listening to him can be harder than it seems, especially when it is 15 degrees outside and the gym is on the other side of town.  Sounds like another good excuse huh? Well, apparently this winter, I have come up with my fair share of excuses and I need to stop.

So I end this blog post specifically speaking to those that may be struggling with weight gain or lack of motivation to get started again.  All I have to say is, I am right there with you and I am slowly getting motivated.  My recommendation for trying to get motivated again would be to try as many different motivational techniques as possible, just do something to get yourself back out there.  Try joining a aerobic class, spinning class, go to the gym when it is slow so you have your pick of anything in the gym to use; have a friend join you for a workout or run; keep a motivational quote book or have a daily motivational quote sent to your email and read them each day; sign up or volunteer for a race or active fundraising activity, join a swim, running, or cycling club; treat yourself to a new piece of workout gear; run with music if you normally don't, or just get out there and start walking. The whole thought is to just get back out there and start a pattern for yourself.  You may not find your motivation instantly, but as you start, your motivation will slowly start to come back and you will hopefully remember why doing this stuff was so much fun in the first place.  It's amazing how easily we are led astray by our very own minds.

Well, that is enough of my belly-aching and it is time for me to get out there and do something. At this point, I don't care if it's a swim, bike, run, basketball game or whatever, just as long as I get out there!  I hope everyone is doing well trying to meet their own goals this year/season.  If you have any interest in sharing any of your motivational techniques or even your goals, I would, and surely some of the readers would really enjoy hearing them.

So yes, right now, I am still struggling, but as in life, anything worth having should be hard to achieve and a struggle to maintain. In the end, we are all better for the struggles throughout our life - it's what may end up defining us.

Next time, I will hopefully be, struggling less, more motivated and ready for what lies ahead; but for now, I will just try to keep my head up.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A New Year, New Racing Schedule and New Challenges

So who is tired of hearing about the fad diets, the newest weight loss pill, the newest workout craze or even how you can get off the couch and run a 5K in just 30 days?  Well, I must admit, this time of year is to the health industry as red meat is too a pack of hungry, rabid wolves.  I watch television and see all the ads and infomercials about these weight loss pills and the newest piece of equipment that "takes inches off your waste in just two weeks."  Well, I am 100% percent sure that for a lot of overweight people in this world, those things are just window dressing for the real truth.  The real truth is what everyone already knows.  It takes hard work, guts, sweat, humility, sacrifice and even sometimes, a little pain to get to a certain weight loss or nutrition goal.  Sure these other things may help your body in some way, but other than surgery, nothing has shown to have a more lasting effect than exercising and eating right.  I am not just talking from my own experiences, but this also comes from people that I meet that had their own weight loss issues and there is usually one constant among them all - HARD WORK!  
People get so frustrated when the weight doesn't just fall off like it seems on other people, but we have got to remember that our weight gains did not just happen in two weeks, it took time to add the weight on and it will more than likely take at least TWICE as long to get off.  I also talk to people who are so frustrated that they haven't lost one single pound after two or three weeks of eating well and starting to incorporate exercise.  Well, I state and ask, so you haven't lost weight YET, but besides that, "how do you FEEL?" After three weeks, we may be so focused on the weight loss that we forget that we may not have that indigestion anymore or we sleep more sound and wake up more refreshed.  We may not notice that we have a little more "pep in our step" and more energy throughout the day.  Those changes are the ones that we need to focus on rather than the weight.  

Also, one thing we focus on is the exercise or the eating right part, but we forget that to get completely healthy, we must incorporate both.  I will admit it, I have spent the last two months gaining some weight.  Why? Was it because I stopped exercising? Nope, I slowed down a little, but didn't stop.  Was it because I started eating chocolates, ice cream, pizza and fast food? Nope, I stayed with a fairly clean diet.  Well, how did I gain that weight?  I gained it because I forgot one BIG rule.  I forgot that when I am not in full training mode, I don't need to eat like I am in full training mode.  But that is exactly what I did, even though my training didn't stop, but decreased, I still kept eating like I was in full training.  I didn't realize that even though the food was pretty healthy, I didn't need to eat that much to stay nourished.  I know reading this you probably say that I should know that and it is common sense.  But then I also ask that if it is common sense that exercise and healthy eating is the quickest way to a better "you," then why did I weigh so much two years ago?  It's because I became numb, lazy and stopped noticing the signs of my problems.  That may not be the reason or case for anyone reading this, but for me, I admit, that is and was the reason for my weight gain and my original morbidly obese weight.  I  became so HUGE because I chose NOT to "see" it. I was also shown these past couple of months that I am still not immune to weight gain or the problem of "not seeing it."  It's apparently something I have to learn and work on in the future or else it wont be 15 pounds of weight that I add, but more like 50, 60 or even a 100 lbs.

Fortunately, I have very limited time to stay in a "minimal" lethargic state as I have to get ready to train for a marathon at the end of April 2013.  This leads me to my other point of keeping the weight off, it's about keeping yourself accountable.  Scheduling a race or some sort of event months in advance will help you maintain your weight better.  Especially if you are as "cheap" as I am, you will not want to waste money on a race because you didn't "train" for it.  It's as simple as that.  Schedule a race that is manageable within a time frame after a certain "break" period and that will get you back in the gym, pushing away form the brownies and striving to do your best.

So anyway, I stated that I would put up my tentative race calendar in this post so here it is in all its glory:

April 20th - Heart and Sole Triathlon - Sprint Distance
April 28th - Kentucky Derby Full Marathon
June 2nd - Southern Indiana Triathlon - Olympic Distance
July 4th - Bluegrass 10K
August 11th - REV 3 Triathlon Wisconsin Dells - Half Iron Distance
October 18-19th - Bourbon Chase 200-mile Team Relay
December 7th - Tecumseh Trail Full Marathon

I am starting to try to focus on longer distance, endurance races to prepare myself for a Full Ironman in 2014.
Anyway, that's my schedule as it stands for now. If anyone has any suggestions on other good races, please feel free to let me know. I would love to hear about any other experiences in weight loss, races, injuries, etc. Again, I am by no means an expert at anything, just one person trying to share my experiences, both good and bad, with whoever takes the time to read these silly little blog posts   If it helps anyone, then I am extremely happy.  If anyone would care to share any of their experiences or stories, let me know so I can listen and learn.

It may sound like this post has a little frustrating tone to it, but that is because I am somewhat frustrated with myself.  I worked VERY hard for two years and then I stop paying attention? Well, it doesn't and didn't sit well with me, so I want to explain my missteps and/or mistakes in this blog to hopefully help someone else not make the same error. 

So now, I am off to lose the weight that I put on and guess how I am going to start doing it? Yep you guessed it ~ by running...

Friday, 4 January 2013

A New Year and a New You ~ Right?

It has been over a month since my last posting.  I doubt anyone follows my blog close enough for that to even matter but I thought I would post something related to, yep you guessed it, the New Year!!! Why do we wait until the end of the previous year or the very beginning to look at how we need to change our lives or the way we go about each day?  Why don't we do that on March 8th, or May 15th, or October 5th or some other random date? What is so special about waiting until the end of the year to figure out what we need to change in and about our lives and then try to apply it to the beginning of the next? Is it because we eat a lot during the holidays, feel bad about it and decide to lose weight? Is it because we have had some time off and a chance to reflect on the past year and determine the things that need to be changed? Why do we do it? I admit, I do it just like the rest of the world does it; I was just curious as to why?

At the end of this year, I actually took some time off from training and exercising and decided that I needed to spend some time with my family and shore up a lot of things at work rather than off somewhere doing some off-season trail run, swimming endless laps, or biking endless hours in spinning class. I must admit that it was nice and I enjoyed the time off, but guess what? I told my family that I would be starting to up my training again as the New Year approached. Well, here it is the New Year and I have kept to my word; I have started increasing the running and swimming, not so much with the biking just yet, but that will be ramping up soon too. I actually gained some weight which was expected, but because I didn't gorge myself this Holiday and stayed smart and really focused on trying to eat good foods, I actually maintained quite well. To me, losing ten pounds or so is so much easier after losing the large amount from before.  Ten pounds is manageable and even justifiable with my eating habits (clean eating or not).  The thing that doesn't let me worry is that I still love exercising, and I know that ten pounds is not the most overwhelming weight loss challenge I have ever attempted and as long as I don't let it get anything more than that.

Now to get back to the New Year's Resolution thing.  Yes, I put together a list of races and other goals that I want to accomplish in 2013 (I will add that list to the next posting this month).  I even cleaned up my office (only a little), did some organizing of old papers at the house, donated some old stuff to Goodwill and even bought a new 8-pack of underwear (really going all out in 2013!)

So, in a sense, we always try to find a way to start fresh, to start new, and the New Year always seems like a perfect time to do this.  We even do it during the week. For example, we usually organize our schedules from Monday-Sunday or maybe Sunday-Saturday, but almost never Wednesday-Tuesday.  Why is that? I think we have to have a designated beginning and end for something to feel absolutely complete. If we start back to work on a Monday, maybe that is the right start of the week, just like when we start a New Year, that is the time to start fresh.

Heck, I even started my weight loss journey as a New Year's Resolution so, two years later, I am still doing the same thing, starting off fresh at the New Year, trying to figure out what I need to do to become a better husband, dad, son, friend and colleague. I am simply doing what a lot of people do at the beginning of each year, trying to figure out how in the world to become a better person for those around us and ourselves. So, to close out 2012, I will say goodbye to last year, I've learned a lot, both good and bad (like when swimming in the nasty, disease and bacteria laden Ohio River, try to keep your mouth closed when turning your head upstream ~ ya think?)

Anyway, here is to a great 2013!  I hope everyone reaches their goals, challenges and dreams this year! You   have to start somewhere right?

Starting 2013 off right, by running, just running...


Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Holidays are Here!! Somebody Help Me!!

Well, it's official, this is the first week of the start of the Holiday season.  I am extremely excited about this (not really, not so much). 

With the Holidays just around the corner, I start to think about the big turkey dinners with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie, green bean and broccoli casserole, rolls so small and light that you can make little dough balls and pop ten of them in your mouth like they were Tic-tacs.

However, those memories are from at least two years ago when I indulged in food like that.  Now, I have to adjust, adapt and change the entire way I eat, especially during the Holidays. It can be difficult because even though I have certain foods that I stay away from, that doesn't mean my family does.  Since I am the cook in the house, I have to cook different things for the Holidays.  I try new things like roasted brussel sprouts and vegetables galore.  I limit the amount of boxed items I use and try to make things from scratch.  Mashed potatoes are not russet, they are now redskin new potatoes. Little changes like that in big meals can make a big difference in the quality and healthy nature of the meal.

Just because the Holidays are here doesn't mean I have to overindulge but on the other hand, it doesn't mean that I have to miss out on awesome food either. I just (try) to use some sense and hold myself accountable when going for that second (and uh...maybe third) helping of food.

So what is everyone doing this Thanksgiving? Spending time with Family? Friends? Travelling?

Also, what is your favorite Holiday staple, healthy or not? I know my family would probably not speak to me if I didn't fix my Oreo crumb /pudding pie.  It sounds (and tastes) like something that would be so fattening, but I use sugar free pudding, low-fat oreos, fat free cool whip and dark chocolate chips, so it's not all that bad. 

Anyway, I would like to hear something that you MUST have every Holiday no matter what. Is it Grandma's Famous mashed potatoes? Buttermilk biscuits or green bean casserole?  I would like to hear!!