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Barley with Butternut Squash, Apple & Onion

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This is one of the “meals” (it’s really a side dish but I like to eat it as a meal) I’ve been making for years and usually resurrect come fall/winter.  My family absolutely loves it too, even my little nephew (or at least he did at 4 years old, the last time he ate it)!  I appreciate delicious vegetarian meals that satisfy me and this one fits the bill fo sho. The combination of the creamy squash, chewy barley, crisp red pepper & apple, and the contrasting savories and sweetness–it’s all just magic to me.  And I guess if a four year old boy will relish something that only contains unrecognizable healthy ingredients, it is pretty magical.

Barley with Butternut Squash, Apple & Onion

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup uncooked barley
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups butternut squash, peeled & diced
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup sweet red pepper, diced
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup fat-free chicken or vegetable broth

Bring 3 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a medium saucepan; add barley. Cover saucepan and simmer barley until tender, about 30 to 35 minutes; drain.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add squash and cook, stirring often, until it’s starting to soften–about five minutes. Add the onion and red pepper and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Stir in apple, garlic, thyme, black pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring, until apple is almost tender, about 2 minutes; stir in broth, scraping bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Stir in cooked barley; toss over low heat to mix and coat. Remove from heat and serve.

Serves 4, about 1 cup per serving.

Per serving: 192 calories; 4.2 g fat; 0 g cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrate; 8 g fiber; 5 g protein; 5 Points Plus

Recipe source:


Our Weight Loss Contract

Last month, Dennis and I took a contract out on ourselves.

Dennis, with plenty of help from me, had reached his highest weight ever, and I’d packed on 17 pounds since quitting Weight Watchers in May (a whopping 27 pounds since this time last year!).  I know that’s impressive, but I’d prefer to impress with weight loss rather than gain, thankyouverymuch!

For months we had been talking about an idea we’d been brewing, an incentive plan to help us lose the weight together that didn’t include paying someone else for their help.  So when we finally got completely disgusted with ourselves to the point that even fries and cheesecake couldn’t soothe our nutrition-deprived souls, we put everything down in writing and signed it.

With this contract, we are paying ourselves to lose weight!   The money that we would have spent on Weight Watchers (it’s about $50 a month per person), is going into an online savings account each month, automatically deposited just like the WW payment would have been automatically withdrawn.  We will continue these monthly deposits until we both reach our goal weights, and at that point, we are going to use it to buy a new television!  (The one we have is the first thing we ever bought together, thirteen years ago, and the screen has been displaying a discolored the picture for the last eight.  So a new one would be nice!)  If one of us makes their goal first, then the $50 will go to them each month instead of the savings account, and they can use it to splurge on whatever they wish as long as they maintain their weight.

We each agreed to count our calories, exercise five times a week, and get 7 1/2-8 hours of sleep each night.

So far, we’ve each lost about 10 pounds.  Mine was all lost the first two weeks and then I got lazy with counting calories but I’m back on it this week so hopefully I’ll show a loss again.  Dennis has been keeping his end of the bargain with exercise, but I just now for the first time did a strength routine last night (I feel gloriously sore today) and other than that, have only been walking the dog the few nights a week that I’m home early enough to do so.

I’m also a bit sketchy on the 8 hours of sleep, and so is Dennis.  This has been a struggle for us, especially once my schedule shifted to later in the day which caused him to stay up so we could have time together when I get home, and me to stay up even later trying to get things done like I used to after work when I got off at a decent hour.  But a bedtime of 6 AM is just not OK with me!  I hate waking up in the afternoon and feeling like I’ve already wasted the day, and I usually get up after 6 hours of sleep simply because I can’t stand to sleep in daylight.  So I’ve got to work on going to bed after work and doing things in the morning, after sleeping, instead of in the morning because I just stayed up that late.

So we’ve got things in motion!  I’d totally recommend our plan for couples, because you automatically have someone for support, which I find essential during the journey, but I think it would also be a good plan to do on your own as long as you can find some motivation and encouragement outside of yourself.  There is a good health & fitness blogging community out there and if you’re looking for some help, here are a few suggestions:

Skinny Emmy
This is my favorite weight loss blog because Emmy has a really long journey ahead of her and behind her: she started at 455 pounds, is now at 342, and has another 142 to go!  She is such an inspiration, and her posts are always interesting.

Former Fat Guy
Rob also had a long weight loss journey, once weighing 475 pounds, but finished it and now maintains a muscular and healthy physique.  Check his blog for interesting posts on health, nutrition, recipes, muscle building, and weight loss.

Waisting Time
Karen is a reforming yo-yo dieter that blogs her triumphs and failures along the way.  I love her writing style!  Plus, she’s from Kansas too so maybe I’m a little biased for that reason as well. :)

3 Fat Chicks on a Diet!
This site has tons of helpful articles on diets, fitness, food, lifestyle & being plus sized.  A great resource for anybody trying to lose weight.

If you read a weight loss or healthy lifestyle blog, I’d love for you to leave a link to your favorite one in the comments!

And can I just say, I’m so proud of myself for putting a goal weight of 140 pounds?  For some reason I have this idea that 130 is the magic number, despite not having seen it in my entire adult life except when I got type 1 diabetes without knowing it and dropped fifty pounds in three months.  I feel pretty good when I’m 150 and really great when I’m 140 and I know that to get down to 130 would require the kind of life-long deprivation and exercise I could never commit to.  I’ve been to 140 and I think it is do-able for long term if I take it slow and get used to eating less on a gradient.  So, yay me for being realistic this time!  :)

Garlic Chicken & Bacon Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

I made this recipe in the spring and thought it would be nice to share in the fall when it was starting to get chilly.  Not so chilly that you are ready to dig into the really heavy foods, but are just starting to think about it.  That day has come a lot sooner than I expected!  Does it seem like an early fall is coming on in your neck of the woods as well?

If so, here’s a fantastic meal that seems pretty hearty and is totally comforting while still managing to be quite healthy and diet-friendly.  Debbi, the creator of this recipe, calculated it as only about 200 calories per serving (1/8th of the recipe) so even if you ate half of the whole casserole (which would be quite a feat!), you’d probably still be eating less calories than a restaurant alfredo dish would have, and it’s so much healthier!

I thought this dish was absolutely positively scrumptious and although it takes some time to prepare because you have to pre-roast the spaghetti squash, it’s very simple.  I eat a lot of spaghetti squash, but this is only one of two dishes I’ve ever eaten it in with such gusto.  I don’t even like alfredo sauce, especially jarred, and I L-O-V-E-D this meal.  I really felt like I was indulging because meals this delicious usually have a ton of fat and calories.  Not true in this case–it really is like having your cake and eating it too!

Garlic Chicken and Bacon Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 large spaghetti squash, about 2 1/2 lbs.
1 (15 oz.) jar Classico Garlic Alfredo Sauce
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
9 oz. chicken, cooked & chopped
6 slices turkey bacon
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper

Split spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking oil. Place the squash face-down on the sheet and roast in oven at 375 for about 45 min – 1 hour or until tender when poked with a fork on the underside.  Let cool until you can handle the squash without burning your hands, and scrape the squash out with a fork into a 9 x 13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Leave the oven on.

While the squash is cooling enough to handle, cook bacon until crispy and remove to a plate to cool.  Grill onions in the small amount of bacon grease in pan, using additional oil or cooking spray if needed. If you want your onions to get crispy dark edges, let them sit for a minute or two before stirring each time. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Crumble the cooled bacon.

Spread alfredo sauce over the spaghetti squash in the pan, sprinkle on half the cheese, top with chopped chicken, bacon and sauteed onions, then top with remaining cheese.  Bake, uncovered, for about 25 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.

Recipe source: Debbi Does Dinner Healthy

Thankful Thursdays #34: I’m a real person

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I made a thanksgiving resolution to find something to be thankful for every day until next Thanksgiving.  Here’s what I am thankful for this week!

Thursday: That I somehow managed to lose .4 pounds last week, despite only counting points two days out of seven.  Honestly, I don’t even know why I’m paying for Weight Watchers any more.  Actually, I do.  I think paying for it is the only thing that’s keeping me from gaining.  I’m not following the WW plan at all, so it must be those dollars spent that is keeping me from gaining.  I think I may have just jinxed myself, though!

Friday: Once again, our friends, Ben and Ashley, invited us over to dinner, but this time I remembered my camera.  I know my Thursday posts are always on the long side, but forgive me because I’m about to share a bunch of photos of our wonderful dinner with you.  Ben is a foodie, and fabulous chef.  Try not to be too jealous, OK?

Our appetizer: fried zucchini (garden fresh) with Ben's special sauce

The master at work.

Buttered mushrooms & caramelized onions to top the steaks, and a side of potatoes seasoned with smoked paptrika and bacon.

He also made a side of lemony buttered artichokes.

Den's T-bone steak with rosemary butter. As you can tell from the lack of anything else on his plate, this was all he cared about. He was in steak heaven!

My plate! It was soooo fantastic, and I don't really even like steak usually.

Individual apple pie tarts for dessert!

Served warm with ice cream. Pie nirvana.

You might recognize their daughter, Leah, from my Bible class.  BTW, she has renamed me “Caddy.”  Or maybe she’s calling me “Catty.”  (Hope not! lol)  Not sure how she got either from “Veronica,” but it’s kinda cute and I like it. :)

Playing in the sandbox while Daddy makes dinner.

Saturday: Good local restaurants and my zany family.  We had breakfast at Lexi’s, a new diner-type place just a few blocks from our home, and they had the best, biggest, fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever eaten.

In the evening, I went to my cousin, Racine’s, Tupperware party and she greeted me at the door in this getup, calling herself “Mrs. Discofire,” pronouncing it “disco fi-ah” in a perfect NY accent.  She stayed in character almost the whole night, and as you can guess, it was a fun one with lots of laughs.

Sunday: My Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. ALWAYS.

Monday: That we found someone who could fix my water pump for $75, just 1/4 of the price quoted to us at the shop, and that we had exactly that much money in our bank account!  Actually, we were short $5 but my Dad ended up paying us $10 (he does this once a month b/c that’s how much we pay to keep him on our phone plan) so it all worked out.  Booyah!

Tuesday:  That I no longer have to carpool with my husband!!  My water pump started leaking so bad that I couldn’t even make it two miles without having to pull over to refill the radiator with water, so I had to stop driving it last Wednesday.  Because our schedules are different, carpooling meant I had to drive him to work (across town), then drive home, then drive myself across town to work, then pick him up when I got off, and his huge extended-bed F150 is not so economical when it comes to gas consumption.  So glad we both have our own cars again.

Wednesday: I got the job!  As of August 1st, I will be a career employee for the US Postal Service.  Woot-diddly-doot!  I’m a real person now! LOL, that’s what my preacher said when I told him that I got offered a permanent position after all this time.  I’ve been a temp for seven years, so it does kinda feel like I’m real now. LOL!  Honestly, this still hasn’t settled in yet.  It just doesn’t seem real.  I’ve been a temp so long I don’t know if I can handle being a “real person” with job security and benefits.  Ha!

Thankful Thursdays #32: I’m not any fatter

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I made a thanksgiving resolution to find something to be thankful for every day until next Thanksgiving.  Here’s what I am thankful for this week!

Thursday: I didn’t have to cook dinner!  Maybe my enthusiasm seems strange, since I’m a food blogger and therefore should love to cook, but honestly cooking isn’t really my thing.  I love to bake, but I’d rather eat a meal cooked by someone else any day.  Anyway, some friends had us over for dinner, and I was also thankful for the time we had with them as well.  I never remember my camera when we visit Ben and Ashley, so I have no pics of the wonderful taco dinner, which included homemade tortillas and a smorgasbord of fillings, including pork, shrimp , cilantro lime rice, and everything else you can imagine.  MUST REMEMBER CAMERA NEXT TIME.

Friday: the internets. We got a DVD from Netflix that we’ve already seen, but thankfully we were able to watch Dr. Who online with “instant play.”  The more I watch the latest season, the more the new doctor reminds me of a fairer version of my cousin, Tyson.  I know that has nothing to do with being thankful, but it’s wigging me out. Maybe you’d have to know my cousin and watch the show regularly to see it?

Saturday: a husband who is willing to go grocery shopping with me.  Although I do it faster alone, it’s not nearly as fun without him coming up with new ways to annoy me.  His favorite thing to do is to grab random, horrible food items and ask for them like he’s three years old.  For instance, if there was something called cotton candy cereal, he would pick it up, then smile and hold it up and bounce around, saying, “Cotton Candy Cereal!”

Sunday: The current Sunday School teacher for the preschool/elementary class is out of town, so I had an opportunity to teach the twins for the first time in over 6 months.  I didn’t realize how much I missed them!

Monday:  1) For our wonderful Declaration of Independence and the freedoms it gives us as Americans.  2) For Katie, Den’s co-worker, who invited us to her 4th of July gathering, thus sparing us from a depressing holiday spent at home without fireworks since we are too cheap to purchase them ourselves. 3)  For the people at said party, who were so friendly and made me feel at ease despite not knowing a soul there.  Many were foodies, and that helped because we could all relate to the love of food!  4) That we haven’t had war on American soil in over a hundred years.  The party we joined was in Derby, where more fireworks are allowed, and boy it was crazy!  The steady stream of explosions and the heavy haze of smoke made me feel like I was in a war zone, and very thankful that I never have been.  It also made consider and all the more thankful for our soldiers who risk their lives for the sake of others.

Tuesday: Puppy antics.  We’ve been taking care of Ben and Ashley’s chickens while they’re away camping and although another friend is taking care of the dogs (there are five of them), we always end up staying to play with and pet them.  The golden lab is about a year old and has a ridiculous amount of energy.  Today he nabbed a squash Dennis picked and rolled around with it, chomping on and playing with it like it was the most delightful thing he’d ever encountered.  At one point, he was rolling on his back while holding it up in the air with his paws.  The joy of a puppy is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday: I’m not any fatter! I got my rear in gear and went to my first Weight Watchers meeting in three weeks, knowing that after all the stress-dieting I’d done (i.e. eating everything I possibly could to calm my nerves–emotional eating is my downfall), I was going to see a big gain.  But I weighed exactly the same.  Granted, the last time I weighed in I had a 3-pound gain due to the heavy clothes I was wearing and the later time of day I went, so weighing the same in the morning before eating, and while wearing shorts, definitely means I’ve got more padding now.  But still.  Technically, I weigh the same as I did at my last meeting. :)  I’ll take it as a victory and move on, counting my points and working toward my goal like a good girl.

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

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I first made this salad back when I was Somersizing and most of my meals consisted of proteins and fats, but it’s actually very any-diet friendly as well.  I used a lot more butter the first time, because I could, but I prefer it this way with less butter and more hot sauce because I like things on the spicy side. If you don’t, you might want to add less hot sauce at first and slowly build up to your own threshold. I’m not usually a fan of blue cheese dressing, but the cool, tangy flavor really compliments the spicy chicken by contrast.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Blue Cheese Dressing
¾ cup sour cream
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Milk or heavy whipping cream to thin, as desired

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ lbs chicken breasts, cubed
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
½ cup hot sauce
5 oz bag of salad greens
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes

To make the dressing, place everything but the cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth and add milk or cream if you want it thinner.  (My photo is not a good indication of this dressing’s appearance, as I went a little heavy on the cream so that it was nearly half dressing, half cream!  It is quite thick before you add milk or cream.)  Add cheese and process until cheese chunks are as small as you like. Store covered in refrigerator 24 hours before serving.

For the salads, heat a skillet over medium-high and add olive oil. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook until center is no longer pink, about 10 minutes; drain off the juice. Add the butter and stir until melted, then stir in the Worcestershire and hot sauce until the chicken is evenly coated.

Divide the salad greens among 4 plates, then add the celery & tomatoes to each. Top with buffalo chicken pieces and serve with blue cheese dressing.

Serves 4

Per Salad (with 2 tablespoons dressing): 450 calories; 25 g fat; 11 g carbohydrates; 3 g fiber; 43 g protein; 10 Points Plus

Recipe source: dressing recipe from, salad recipe by Veronica Miller

Italian Cornmeal-Crusted White Fish

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Some friends who like to fish gave us a couple pounds of crappie and I came up with this quick and delicious coating for it.  I was pleasantly surprised by how good it turned out!  Perfectly seasoned and with a slight crunch to it from broiling, the fish turned out really nice with the moisture locked in from the dressing and coating.  I think you’re going to like this one!

I just have to share something funny that’s related to this recipe before we get to it.  When I searched for “crappie” in the Weight Watchers points tracker online, this is what popped up on my screen:

Let’s take a closer look:

So there’s no entry for crappie, but there’s something called a “crap pie?”  I don’t even want to know!  I just used another white fish to calculate the points. :)

Italian Cornmeal-Crusted White Fish

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Printable recipe with picture

2 lbs. white fish, such as tilapia or cod
Italian Dressing
½ cup stone ground cornmeal
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon garlic salt

Place fish in a Ziploc bag and pour dressing over it, about ½ cup or enough to coat the fish. Allow to marinate 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees; line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking oil. Combine the cornmeal, parmesan, and garlic salt in a bowl and stir well. Take fish fillets one by one and place on a plate, then sprinkle cornmeal mixture over the top. Lift with your wet hand and shake excess coating back into your bowl. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all fish fillets are coated and on baking sheet. Bake for ten minutes, then switch the oven to broil. Keep an eye on the fish and remove once golden and the fish flakes easily when pierced with a fork.

For a quick and colorful side dish, combine broccoli florets with sliced red and yellow pepper and microwave in a covered dish for 5 minutes, or until tender. Serve with a sprinkle of garlic salt over the top.

Serves 6

Per serving: 246 calories; 9.7 g fat; 9 g carbohydrates; .7 g fiber; 32 g protein; 6 Points Plus

Recipe by Veronica Miller

Thankful Thursdays #28: I made my 5% goal!

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Thursday: Is there anything better than getting baked goods, like homemade banana bread, in the mail?  I bought two loaves, one with chocolate chips and one without, in an online bake sale and had forgotten about it so it was an even sweeter surprise when it arrived!  The chocolate chip (not pictured because I totally ate it all before I even thought to take one) makes a yummy breakfast, especially spread with peanut butter!

Friday:  Life has been chewing me up this week.  First I find out that in order to keep my job, I’m going to have to pass a test I already (barely) passed in order to get it seven years ago.  Tests really stress me out, so needless to say, I’m not thrilled about this.  Then on Friday, a situation arose with someone close to me that put me over the edge.  I was a bit of a wreck on Friday, so I was hugely thankful for the human kindness that helped me through.  While crying at work and after asking for prayers on Facebook, I received a lot of it firsthand.   As the kind words and prayers poured in from these dear souls, God comforted me and gave me the strength I needed to drive to this person’s house and have a heart-to-heart.  While I wouldn’t consider the situation completely resolved, it is much improved and I’m no longer constantly worrying about this person.  So I’m also thankful for that!

Saturday: 11 years of wedded bliss with my soul mate, and cheap fun!  We celebrated our anniversary by doing all the free stuff that comes with a $5 River Festival button and did paddle boats, kayaking (Dennis went overboard twice and gave everyone a good laugh–see pictures of that here), and saw the Marshall Tucker Band live!  Not bad for $5!

Sunday: Aldi!  It’s our first stop for groceries because it’s got the best deals.  I remember back when we both worked for the Church of Scientology and were dirt poor, we could live off of $15 a week in groceries from Aldi!  We make ten times more than we did back then, but Aldi is still a lifesaver when it comes to our tight grocery budget.

Monday:  Books, magazine articles, and Weight Watchers often warns people to watch out for salads at restaurants because although they seem diet-friendly, too often they are fat bombs in disguise.  Well, I’m hugely thankful for this means of eating a large portion of fat without going (too far) over my daily Points Plus allowance, thank you very much!  Using lettuce and other vegetables as the base of a meal makes for a huge, satisfying plateful of food that is very little calories, so I’m totally cool with drowning it in cheese, beans, eggs, full-fat dressing, nuts, whatever strikes my fancy.  If it weren’t for salads, my fat intake would come mainly from the butter in my weekly dessert indulgences, so I’m thankful for these beautiful plates of healthful, satisfying, fatty goodness!

Buffalo Chicken (made with real butter) Salad with (full fat) Blue Cheese Dressing (that I thinned with heavy whipping cream-bwahahahahaha!)

Romaine Salad with Chicken, Cheddar, Apples, Spiced Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette (made with no small amount of extra virgin olive oil)

Tuesday: checking off most of my to-do list!  I have a small planner that I carry in my purse, and I leave it open at my desk at work so that I can add things to each day’s to-do list as I think of them.  By the time I come home, the day is crammed with things to do and usually I just put them off until the next day, and then the next, etc.  Today I started my day with a prayer of thanks for the day itself, and asked God for help in using it to its full potential.  By the time I went to bed, I’d made more checkmarks than I have in a long time.  I really love seeing those checkmarks!

Wednesday: Finally!  I finally did a good job teaching the toddler Bible class.  Not that I was bad before, but I just wasn’t comfortable and knew I could do better.  I did tonight!  God gets the glory here as well, because both Dennis and I prayed about it and I know He was there with me because it was so different.  The children really listened, they didn’t get bored or frustrated, they were adorably polite (plenty of please and thank yous!), they participated with relish, and I think that I got through to them.  Here are the cutie patooties I had in class tonight, working on building arks (the focus of the lesson tonight was Noah and the ark, although since the blocks were out, we also went into the tower of Babel a bit):

You can see how cramped we are and why I was so thankful a couple weeks ago that we’re moving to a new and bigger building at the end of the month!

Oh wait! Can I be thankful for two things on Wednesday?  Because I’m also thankful that I met my 5% goal at Weight Watchers today!  I’m hoping to be up to ten pounds lost by next week.  (I started going eight weeks ago so I’m averaging about a pound a week.)  I love Weight Watchers!

OK, your turn!  Anything you’re particularly thankful for right now?

Weight Watchers Walk-It 5K

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Saturday morning, my husband and I dragged ourselves out of bed sporting eye bags heavy enough to weigh down our faces so that we could participate in the Weight Watchers Walk-It 5K at Sedgwick County park.  I was so tired that I probably would have gone back to bed if I hadn’t bought a shirt, but I didn’t pay $17 for a special hot pink Walk-It shirt just to sleep through the 5K.  Funny, the things that can motivate you.

I fueled the upcoming walk with my favorite fruit.  Mango!

We arrived a few minutes late, and I was told my leader, Marsha, wasn’t that far ahead so I made up my mind that we were going to catch up to walk the 5K  with her.  I really wanted to introduce her to my husband because they both have a great sense of humor and I knew they’d get along famously.  Dennis tried to talk me into running, but the woman is in her seventies and I thought if we walked really fast we’d catch up easily.  Boy, was I wrong!

Notice the lack of people?  They’re out of sight in the far distance with Marsha in the lead.  I liked the way the sun was streaming through pockets in the clouds.  The clouds were moving quickly and that heavenly searchlight forged along in a steady stream–quite a sight to behold!

Marsha became my figurative carrot on the end of a stick and we walked like a house afire to try and catch up to her.   (I’m not sure how a house afire walks, but apparently it’s very fast because Grandma Millner always used that expression when observing someone walking quickly.)  Have you ever walked so fast that it felt like it would be easier to just take off running?  Usually when I get to that point, I go ahead and start running, but everyone else was walking except the few radicals that weren’t in our Weight Watchers group, and I didn’t want to attract any more attention than  Dennis’ amazing bedhead (I don’t know how he does it, but he wakes up with the same exact hair sticking up every morning!) and my racoon eyes were drawing already.

I know what you’re thinking, but the wind wasn’t blowing.

I know what you’re thinking, but I’m not related to a basset hound.  Doesn’t the background look just like you imagine the Kansas prairie looked before the first settlers?

We passed people.  And passed more people.  Some I recognized from my meetings and I asked each group if they’d seen Marsha and every one of them laughed and wished me luck catching up.  Apparently Marsha has a reputation for being a very fast walker, so we kept our speed up and our eyes on the horizon, hoping for a glimpse of her, but I never even caught sight of my carrot.  But having that carrot definitely made me work harder to finish the 5K than I normally would have.

I have a unique ability to appear as if I’m moving at the speed of molasses in photos, even when I’m running!  Despite the posed look of this photo, I promise I was bookin’.  I had Dennis run way ahead to take a pic so that I wouldn’t have to slow down.  I had a carrot to catch!

GASP! I see babies!

How dare these runners buck the system and pass us during a WALKING challenge?! The nerve.

By the time we finished, I was sore!  Dennis grabbed the camera while I was stretching, so I raised my arm for a victory pose.  (I think I may have invented a new yoga stance!  Or is this one taken already?)  I guess my eye bags were too heavy for me to keep my lids open at this point.

Dennis wanted to show off his flexibility as well. You never know what sort of pictures you’ll have after he gets a hold of the  camera!

You never cease to amaze me, honey.  ;)

Dennis had to see how he fared on the Möbius strip in the park before we left.

LOL, I adore that goof!  Crazy bedhead and all.

Dennis awarded his hard work and support of me (thank you, honey! You rock.) with his favorite fruit, a raspberry bismarck. :)

And I went for a yummy fat-free vanilla cappucino, probably my favorite coffee drink as long as it’s not from Starbucks. Sue me, but I prefer Dillons or Quik Trip.

Although anti-climactic, since I never caught up to Marsha, I thoroughly enjoyed power walking a 5K and the sore feeling that still resides in my hips and thighs reminds me of the only part of working out I enjoy–that lovely sore and spent feeling afterward.  I really need to get my cardio back on–it’s been hibernating for several months now and I can tell my fitness level has suffered!  I know that saying “some day” means you’ll never do it, but….some day. :)

Pressing related questions (pick one, answer all, or ignore–up to you!): Have you ever heard or used the expression “like a house afire?”  What motivates you to push yourself during a workout?  What’s your favorite fruit?  Any fellow Starbucks haters out there?

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