Tag Archives: surgery

Challenge Obesity 5k – “Race” recap

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Last year, I ran my first 5k race around Lake Como in St. Paul. I was so nervous and anxious the few days leading up to the event. But after I completed it, I felt so good! It started a string of 5k events through the rest of 2012! You can check out my last race in November as well as links to all the other races I completed here.

On my birthday, I made a list of things that I wanted to accomplish over the coming year. One important item on that list was to run the Challenge Obesity 5k again. It would be my one-year anniversary since my first and I could compare my progress. I wanted to encourage others to join me, too. The Challenge Obesity 5K race in St. Paul is one of the least intimidating races for beginner runners. When I was looking for a beginner runner 5k to run, this was the one recommended to me by Jen, a priorfatgirl. Many of the people running it have lost weight or are in the process of losing weight – from 20 to over 200 pounds! It’s actually very inspiring.

While my recent back surgery is forcing me to revise that list, I knew that I still wanted to participate in the Challenge Obesity event. And on Sunday, although I couldn’t run, I was reminded of this inspiration and vowed that I would be running this race every year as a re-commitment and reminder of a healthy lifestyle, while kicking off the beginning of the outdoor running season in Minnesota.

However, it wasn’t exactly ideal weather!

The results page describes last year’s weather as 45 degrees, overcast and breezy. You can check out the photos from that race recap post to see for yourself and compare to this year. I also re-read my recount of being a little warm in the lightweight jacket after I had started running. Back then, I was worried about being cold and wet that day. However, the rain held off until afternoon. This picture posted on the Challenge Obesity website depicts the beautiful spring day it actually was on Saturday, April 21st, 2012:

Weather at Lake Como on April 21, 2012 - source

Weather Conditions at Lake Como on April 21, 2012 – (Source: ChallengeCharities.org)

This year, all week, I was checking the weather forecast for race day. We’ve had some pretty unstable weather this spring including numerous SNOWstorms, one of which occurred last night:

April 22 2013 - Weather in MN, early evening.

April 22, 2013 – Weather Conditions in MN, early evening.

That was just the light dusting in the early evening! This morning, I woke up to this:

Tuesday morning, April 23, 2013

Tuesday morning, April 23, 2013 – Notice the additional snow on the trees, chairs and railings!

But I digress… Back to the race…

The week prior to race day, many forecasts showed 40 degrees and overcast with possible rain later in the morning. “Not so bad!” I thought. “Just a little cooler than last year!” …despite the fact that some snow remained on the ground.

But as the weekend drew closer, the weather predictions changed… including lower temperatures and possible rain and snow. “Okay,” I thought to myself, “I ran in 32 degree weather once and it was beautiful. I can handle this.” But on that particular day that I was remembering, the sun was out. So I just imagined it to be a little chillier and to adjust my race attire, accordingly.

And I use the term “race” loosely… Why?

Because I have not been cleared to run yet.

I would be walking this entire race.

Yeah, I was bummed when my surgeon told me that it would be six more weeks before I could slowly get back into running again. (More on that later this week.) But I also knew that since the surgery, walking on the treadmill a couple of times was the most exercise I’d done. And the furthest I’d gone is 1.5 miles. And even that took me 30 minutes. Obviously, I’m still healing.

The Night Before…

My friend Stacy came to town to join me in the race. The two of us went out to dinner with Rob to Forepaughs, a perfect suggestion on his part! The two of us girls split a small cheese plate, a piece of truffle toast and some po ping pork and even finished with some dessert. I did imbibe – two glasses of cabernet sauvignon. That’s not something I tend to do the night before a race.

Sure, I wasn’t running the thing this year, but I was still nervous. I didn’t know if I could make it the full 3.1 miles or if I’d come in last and hold up the entire working crew. So it was nice to have a night out with Stacy. {And I think it was nice for her to dine somewhere where she wouldn’t normally take her 5-year-old!} And although she and I have a tendency to chat for hours, we didn’t make it to bed too late. 😉

Race Day…

I didn’t get up immediately when the alarm went off, but I think I got ready in record time. I was debating whether to wear just a t-shirt or a fleece vest over my Cuddl Dud and under my lightweight jacket. At the advice of both my husband and Stacy, I went with the fleece vest, knowing I could remove it when I arrived.

Breakfast included the usual piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a banana. When my friend Jen arrived at my place at 7am, I grabbed a fleece scarf at the very last second (knowing it was one I could discard if I got hot) and we scurried out the door, stopping at Caribou Coffee on the way. I needed my race morning caffeine fix with my usual Americano!

Upon arrival…

It was colder than we could have ever imagined! 

The wind was whipping across the lake and the sky was more than overcast, with rain, sleet and snow seeming to be inevitable within minutes.

I had definitely under-dressed!

I hadn’t even brought gloves! I remembered the one time I wore gloves during a race that I got so hot and regretted it. So I just didn’t bring them this time. As we stood in line to pick up our bibs and t-shirts, my hands started to get numb. I jokingly said, “Hey, guys. Do you want to just go straight to brunch instead?” Stacy gave me a look like, “Don’t tempt me! You just might talk me into that!” But instead, she offered me an extra pair of stretchy gloves she just happened to have with her. I am so grateful she had those!

pre-race

Stacy, Jen & I pre-race. Believe it or not, that is a lake in the background.

Last year, I loved checking out pictures or signs on the backs of those people who had worked so hard to lose massive amounts of weight. It was so inspiring! This year, a guy was passing out signs and pins so that anyone could write in their accomplishments and display them as well!

Notice how windy it is with our ponytails blown...

Notice how windy it is with our ponytails blown to one side… as I cuddle up to Jen!

I made Stacy and Jen pat the bear's belly for good luck like I did last year. ;-)

I made Stacy & Jen pat the bear’s belly for good luck like I did last year.

The Race:

While this race wasn’t chip-timed last year, it was advertised as such this year. However, we did not receive any chip, nor did it seem like the bib was equipped with anything. And now that I think of it, I don’t remember seeing any start or finish mats either. Perhaps this had something to do with the weather?

In any case, we lined up at the back, knowing that we all planned to walk it. I’m not sure where the actual start line was, but I’m sure it took us a few minutes to cross it after the race began. So if the race wasn’t chip-timed, I’m pretty sure I can shave at least a minute or two off my final “race” time. 😉

And after we got moving, it really wasn’t half bad being out there! Of course, I didn’t become hot nor need to shed any clothing. We felt some sleet on a couple of occasions, although my hat helped with that. And the wind whipped each time we turned a particular corner, but it didn’t last long. Still, the view along the route looked a little bleak compared to last year!

I urged the girls to go on ahead of me, as I knew I’d be slow. I also knew that if I needed to, I’d stop after the first lap around the lake. When Jen finished the first lap, she called me to find out if I had intended to do the second one. I was feeling up to it, so she pressed on, too. Stacy walked with me and as we saw that the clock at the first lap was at just over 30 minutes, I told her that I wanted to finish this thing in under an hour. Not a good pace, by any means, but it was an accomplishment for me just to have walked this far. It was hard to believe that just six-months ago, I had finished running my first 5-mile race in just under 1:10. Now I was hoping to do a little over 3 miles in about that time.

However, when Stacy and I crossed the finish line, the clock was no longer showing a time. I guessed we would just have to wait to see the results later that day…

Jen, Stacy and Carrie post race with hot beverages!

Jen, Stacy and Carrie post-race with hot beverages!

But by the time we got to the car and were making our way to brunch, we each got an email on our phones titled “results”:

Congratulations Carrie on finishing the Challenge Obesity 5k! 
Your Time of 59:34 with a pace of 19:11 per mile, put you in 119 Overall! 
In your Divison of F3539 your Division Place was 17 out of 19. 
Your Gender Place was 82 out of 89. 
Full race results can be found @ www.wayzataresults.com

How cool is that?! This was the first time I’ve ever had race results emailed to me, not having to wait until later in the day when official race times were posted. And I did make that goal of completing the 5k in under an hour. Certainly nothing to be proud of normally, but having had back surgery just six weeks prior, I was just happy to be out and moving and able to complete it at all!

  • The Event: 2013 Challenge Obesity 5k
  • The Location: Lake Como – St. Paul, MN
  • The Date: Sunday, April 21, 2013
  • Night Before Dinner: Split with Stacy: Small cheese plate, truffle toast, po ping pork, dessert. Two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Pre-race Breakfast: Peanut Butter toast and banana
  • My Time: 59:34
  • The Weather: Freakin’ Cold! Mid 30s (but who knows with wind chill), overcast, some sleet.
  • Attire: running pants, long sleeved Cuddl Dud shirt, fleece vest, hat, fleece scarf, magic gloves.
  • General Feeling: Sad to not be running, but happy to have walked the most I had since back surgery. Re-inspired by all the runners who’ve lost weight!
  • Uniqueness: Challenge Obesity – people of all shapes, sizes and abilities.
  • Size: Approx 125
  • The Goods: t-shirt
  • The Grub: Water, hot chocolate, hot cider, bananas, apples, cinnamon raisin rolls.

Have you ever under-dressed for a race or other event before?

Have you done repeat races to check your progress?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Post-Op Roller Coaster

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Wednesday marked three weeks since my back surgery. Somehow it’s only been three weeks and it’s already been three weeks at the same time. I’m not doing as good of a job as I thought I would being positive. I’m impatient.

I went back to work last week Tuesday. I meant to go in only a couple of hours, but ended up there for six. I even got on the treadmill that night. Don’t worry, I hadn’t planned on pushing it. I walked just one mile.

And it took me 25 minutes.

That’s right, I was pushing myself to walk 2.5 miles per hour. Rough. But I told myself that I’d continue to do it everyday since walking is supposed to make my back stronger.

But I didn’t. I think that that pace and time may have even been too  much to start. I followed up the rest of the week working five to six hours each days. The sad part? I work at a desk all day, but by the time I got home, I was exhausted.

Physically exhausted. Every night.

The week was rougher than I expected. When I was at home, I felt like I should have been  outdoing so much more… that I felt okay, just a little sore. But then, when I’d leave the house, it just seemed to be too much. I have to remind myself that I feel much better than I did even one week ago. That this is progress. That I should be grateful.

Also, I think I tried to stop my meds too soon. I didn’t want to become dependent on them. I didn’t want to run out and worried that they might not give me another refill. What kind of thinking is that?! By the time I run out, I’d be feeling better than I am now, right? My husband and friends reminded me that I have them for a reason. So I stopped fretting about that. And in the last few days, I’ve tapered off a little bit each day naturally. Now I’m just taking them at night. Silly worry.

I think the hardest part, though, right now is that I look fine to everyone else, so I feel like I should be fine all the time. I can walk normally now – YAY! So I feel like I should be able to move and do just about anything. But instead, I still have a hard time focusing at work and I’ve gone in late a couple of days due to lack of sleep. The pain I have is not nearly as bad, but it is a different kind of pain.

My biggest problem right now may be my mental state.

It’s frustrating that while I can walk, shower, sit, stand and lie down on both my back and side now, that there are still so many things that I can’t do. I attempted the treadmill again tonight  and put the speed on 2.0. It took  me 30 minutes to walk a whole mile. And it was still difficult – over one week later.

Instead, I need to be grateful.

I need to remember that this is just the beginning. I’m going to start charting my walking so that I can see my progress. I think that will help. I need to focus on what I can do. Maybe I should note those things, too. I need to take things slowly and realize that this is a process. While progress is slow, it’s still progress. I’m just anxious and impatient! And the fact that spring is taking so long to come around these parts doesn’t help all that much either.

Phil, you were oh-so-wrong!

So I found a couple of quotes to help get me through this roller coaster of emotions and physical capabilities. Here are a few of my favorites.

Q-Strength

And I think my favorite:

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”

~Hipprocrates

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What kinds of opportunities have you experienced during challenges or times of healing?

To Your Health~

Carrie

Just Ask

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Progress from back surgery has been slow going. As soon as I think things are improving, I feel like I take a step back. But truly, I’m not sure if that’s the case or if it’s just that sometimes I’m not ahead of the pain.

Eats this weekend have been less than stellar, mostly due to family in town and visitors, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! Having people come by has kept my mind off things a bit. I’m told that walking is the best thing I can do to increase my strength and heal. So I’ve been icing and then walking around the house, moving a little more every day. I’d love to go for a walk outside, but our driveway is just too icy to risk it. I’m anxious to be “normal” again.

One thing I’ve realized is how hard it is for me to ask for help. {Although Rob thinks I like ordering him around and that I’m just trying to milk him for all that he is worth.} I’ve taken for granted all of the the little things I can do. And the dishes kept piling up this weekend. Finally, as the end of the weekend neared and family was about to leave, I asked one of the boys to help me load the dishwasher.

That’s it. All I had to do was ask.

And my kitchen is much cleaner for it! I still can’t bend nor pick things off the ground, so I am grateful for the help.

I have my laptop set up on the counter in the kitchen on top of a 5-inch tall box:

Computer

I can stand and check my email, then do a walk around the house. It’s kept me moving without getting bored of walking around. I’ve also started doing one of the things I put on my list of things to do this year – organizing all of Rob’s favorite recipes in one place. And of course, I’m doing this on Pinterest. You can find me here. It’s a work in progress.

And I’m sure you would love to hear about things other than surgery, pain and all the details of recovery. So, I am going to try to get back to my regular schedule and style of posting, which may or may not include Restaurant Impressions or Wine Topics that have been in the works for a while!

And with that, here’s my food journal from Sunday:

Banana – Eaten in the middle of the night in two parts each time I got up to take meds. Best to take pain meds with food, no? Otherwise, I’ve never been a midnight snacker.

Breakfast

Americano from Caribou Coffee – I texted my brother Saturday night that when they stopped by on Sunday morning, I’d love them to bring me one! I hadn’t had coffee in a while and we can’t quite find the right ratio with our new coffee maker. I take my coffee black and I like it strong. But sometimes there’s nothing like some true espresso. He happily obliged. Hint: All I had to do was ask!

I enjoyed my Americano with a Weight Watchers Coffee Cake (not pictured, individually wrapped) and a piece of Dove Dark Chocolate with Almonds.

Snack

Grapes – approximately one cup

Lunch

Cottage Cheese topped with grape tomatoes and a drizzle of Italian extra virgin olive oil & reduced balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper. A version of my Poor Man’s Caprese, if you will:

Caprese

Snacks

Neapolitan Ice Cream – approximately 2/3 cup (Thanks, Rob!)

Remaining Mediterranean Cruise Cafe hummus with 2 pita triangles and half of a cucumber.

Dinner

Can of Ginger Ale

Leftover Brianno’s pizza delivered to me on Saturday by Christina and her son Sam. Thank you!

Snacks

another 2/3 cup of Neapolitan Ice Cream

apple slices

How do you take your coffee?

Has it always been that way?

Cheers~
Carrie

Quick Update…

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I thought that it’d be hard to eat nothing after midnight before going into surgery at 2pm yesterday. But my nerves were enough that I couldn’t even think about it! I was more thirsty than anything, but I was advised not to drink anything either.

The staff at the University of Minnesota Medical Center (Fairview Riverside Hospital) was absolutely incredible. I can’t say that enough. Once my nerves were calmed, I started to get hungry!

The surgery lasted approximately an hour and a half. My only trouble was nausea from the anesthesia after waking up. They did everything they could to make me comfortable. I was told later that I was given the most meds for nausea possible and that this is something I should mention about my reaction to anesthesia if I’m ever to have surgery again!

After that recovery period, I ended up in another room where I Rob could visit me. They’d try to have me get up from the bed and into a chair. Basically, it’d be where I’d spend my last phase of recovery before going home.

Going home!

At that point, I couldn’t even imagine going home. I was so woozy and nauseous. They gave me some Sprite and I tried to eat some crackers, but it didn’t really help much. Eventually, anything that was in my stomach did come up and I felt so much better! The last step was to get me to go to the bathroom, change my clothes and get me out of there. Crazy, I know.

Surgery was at 2pm and I was out of the hospital by 7:30pm.

At home, Rob did everything to make me comfortable in bed. I turned on the TV, took my meds and drifted to sleep. I woke up like clockwork every four hours to take more meds, drink some water, go to the bathroom and I even ate a few crackers! Keeping Sophie off my stomach has been challenging, but I think she’s starting to get it.

This morning, I’m trying to get up and walk a bit. Sitting is the worst position and I’m sore and stiff in the lower back area. But I’m eating, taking meds, sleeping, icing, walking. Getting up is the most difficult thing to do and just sitting is next to impossible. I’m very stiff. But it’s just going to take some time, I know.

Oh! And the leg, foot and pain in the behind caused by the herniated disc is GONE! My big toe and part of my foot is still a bit numb, but nothing like before. They said it will take a bit of time for it to come back completely. I’m in good spirits!

I wasn’t going to post any of this on my blog, but since so many are asking and I felt up to it, I thought it’d be a good place where I can get back to everyone in one place.

And now for the the most original-looking flowers I’ve ever received! So cute….

Puppy Flowers, courtesy of my parents. A-dog-able, no? See his little band-aid?

Puppy Flowers, courtesy of my parents. A-dog-able, no? See his little band-aid?

And just for fun, here is my food journal (of the food I actually kept down) from yesterday!

4 saltine crackers

2 graham crackers

Thank you all for your continuing loving and caring support! Off to rest…

Cheers~

Carrie

Today’s the Day…

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First, here’s my food journal from yesterday:

Breakfast

90-second Breakfast Sandwich

I have no photo of this particular sandwich, but you can check one out here.

2 cups of black coffee at work

Snack

My South Beach Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar (not pictured) was nothing to write home about. I had a coupon, so I thought I’d try them out. I’d take a 35-calorie Dove Dark Chocolate over this 180-calorie bar to go with my coffee any morning.

Lunch

Like the day before, I had veggies and hummus; however, a hard-boiled egg replaced the pulled pork as my protein:

Tues-Lunch

Snack

Blueberries and Blackberries with a Greek yogurt and a 1/4 tsp sugar

Blueberries and Blackberries with Greek yogurt and a 1/4 tsp sugar

I also brought a couple of clementines as a snack, but I so busy trying to get loose ends tied up at work that I didn’t eat them. Overall, it was a pretty {unintentionally} low-calorie day that by the time I got home just after 4pm, I was more than ready for dinner.

Dinner

My surgical nurse said that I could eat a normal dinner, just not eat or drink anything after midnight. So I asked Rob to pick up some take-out from Mediterranean Cruise Cafe. I’d been craving the Chicken Gyros there lately!

asdf

Greek Salad with Chicken Gyros

I normally can only eat about half or less of this, but I ate almost all of it! In addition, although I had already stocked my fridge with a tub of hummus as one of my post-op foods, Rob got me some from the MCC because he knows it is my favorite hummus of all time!

Creamy Mediterranean Cruise Cafe Hummus - post-pita swipe!

Creamy Mediterranean Cruise Cafe Hummus – post-pita swipe!

It’s the creamiest hummus I’ve ever had! He brought home some pita bread along with it. I should have counted how much triangles I had, but I didn’t. I was trying to be intuitive about my eating.

And later, I had a piece of Dove Dark Chocolate – Sea Salt Caramel flavor.

Late Snack

I ate a banana just before bed to help stave off any charley horses.

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So Today is The Day. Surgery isn’t until the afternoon, but since it’s an outpatient surgery, I’m expected to leave for home late in the evening. While I’m told that relief from the back and subsequent pain is immediate and the only pain I should feel is post-op, It’s hard to imagine my back and legs feeling good again. It’s been over a month since I’ve felt my left foot and I’ll be so happy to have it back! The weakness in my legs, even though I’m doing nothing but sitting all day has been driving me batty. But you know what? I have been able to walk, drive, get around, work. For that, I am grateful.

A friend recently told me that her mom would say, “This is only for a season.” I like that way of thinking!

I don’t have any new posts prearranged. And I’m not sure how coherent I’ll be to put together a post right off the bat. So, don’t expect to hear from me right away.

But until then…

Cheers to healing!
Carrie

I Eat Chocolate Every Day

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Whoa.

Do you ever feel like when you go on vacation you put so much time and energy into prepping for it? Prepping things at work for others to take care of for you or doing things in advance so that they don’t have to, deciding what to pack and making sure you don’t forget anything, getting care set up for the dogs or kids… That in and of itself can make one want a vacation!

That’s how I’m feeling right now with this surgery. I’ve stocked up on foods that I believe will be post-op friendly. After Rob did the laundry, I put it all away. I’ve tried to get as much done at work as possible. I’ve checked all the boxes off the list. But I’m anxious. Although they’ve given me some idea of what to expect and some friends have, too…  I don’t know what to expect.

I still have been keeping track and taking photos of my eats, but I haven’t been posting them… Mainly because I’m busy preparing – practically and mentally. Priorities, people.

Speaking of Priorities… {on a lighter note}

Did you know that I eat chocolate every day? I know that when some people set out to lose weight or diet, they take an all-or-nothing approach. They restrict themselves. I, too, have done this in the past, thinking “I can’t have that!” But the truth is, you can have anything in moderation. And since I love chocolate so much, I have it every day of the week. I just had to learn how to handle the moderation part.

Here’s what’s worked for me:

  • I eat dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is richer and hard to eat too much in one sitting. It satisfies me. Whereas, milk chocolate just seems to leave an “I want more” taste in my mouth.
  • After I got used to dark chocolate, milk chocolate hasn’t been very satisfying anymore. I don’t crave candy bars at all! I know that I’m going to get my dark chocolate every day and not feel deprived.
  • I eat small quantities. One Dove Dark chocolate is approximately 35 calories (depending on the flavor variety). Some people like to eat three, as a 100-calorie snack. But I find, I don’t need three. One is enough…
  • …Unless it is sitting in front of me! If I bring three dark chocolates with me to work, I will eat all three. This is why I don’t bring a bag and leave it in a drawer or on my desk in a bowl like some people do. I just pack one dark chocolate in my lunch every day.
  • Out of sight, out of mind. I keep my dark chocolate in a container way back in the cupboard at home. I reach back and grab one to put into my lunch every day. I sometimes will grab one after dinner, too. I usually eat just one per day, but when I do eat more, I don’t think it’s ever been more than three in a day. While this can’t work for everyone, it works for me! I have a friend that says she can’t have them in the house at all. Likewise, I can’t have brownies in the house at all. I would eat too many in one sitting.
  • Variety. While I do love Dove Dark Chocolates, I do try to switch up the dark flavors as well – almond, raspberry swirl and sea salt caramel are my favorites. I like Lindt Truffles, too. One is approximately 70 calories. And back when it was open, I’d sometimes pick up a few truffles at Pardon My French to put in my lunches, too. Keep it interesting!
  • While I know that that some of these brands aren’t perfect, that the higher the cocoa content and lower the sugar content the better, I’ve tried and don’t do well with dark chocolate bars. I have split them up into smaller servings, but there is something more satisfying about opening an individually wrapped piece of chocolate.
  • I savor it. I usually take small bites of my one piece of dark chocolate while sipping my coffee!
  • When dining out, we don’t usually order dessert; but when we do, it’s not always chocolate. In fact, two of my favorite desserts in the Twin Cities are not! When I do order something chocolate, it has to be a decandent dessert that’s worth it. I’m not going to get a mile-high pre-packaged cake sold at a chain restaurant. I’m going to get a decent serving-sized dessert made by a restaurant that has a pastry or dessert chef… someone who really cares about the quality. If I’m going to splurge on the calories – it’s got to be worth it. Then, I’ll split it.

Finally, although I don’t have a ton of photos on hand at the  moment, here is a list of what I ate yesterday:

Breakfast

Magic Smoothiewhile I’ve been using the same concoction, this time I used this peanut butter that came in this month’s Love with Food Box:Fri-LWF PB

And of course, I had 2 cups of black coffee at work with a Dove Dark Chocolate.

Lunch

Hummus & Pork

I ate a small serving of some leftover pulled pork along with some veggies and hummus.

Snack

Blueberries and Blackberries with a Greek yogurt and a 1/4 tsp sugar

Blueberries and Blackberries with a Greek yogurt and a 1/4 tsp sugar

Dinner

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (not pictured). My quick go-to “recipe”:

Cook angel hair pasta until al dente. Brown lean ground beef in garlic olive oil with onions. Add Ragu Parmesan Romano Sauce. Simmer until pasta is done. Top pasta with meat sauce. Sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano cheese.

Believe me, I know that jarred spaghetti sauce is filled with sodium and sugar. I’ve tried to make my own, but this is still our favorite sauce. In addition, its a quick weeknight meal that my husband asks for. Perfect meal to prep and not have to think about pre-surgery! {Plus, he gets the leftovers.}

I ate about 1.5 servings.

Dessert

You guessed it – a piece of chocolate!

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Do you eat chocolate every day?

What are your favorite kinds?

Can you eat it in moderation?

Any tips and tricks?

Cheers~
Carrie

Post-Op Foods & Saga Hill Cooking Class

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I’m putting together a grocery list of items I need to buy to have on hand after my surgery. They are warning me that the pain killers are going to have some side effects, in which plenty of fruits and vegetables should help do the trick. 😉 Also, since my husband does not cook, I want to have some easy, fast – meaning 5 minutes or less! – healthy go-to meals and snacks so he doesn’t bring me take-out every night. {Although it’ll be nice a couple of times!} I may be off of work for up to two weeks; but even if I’m not, I want some easy things to grab so that I don’t make any poor choices out of inconvenience. Planning ahead and taking out the guesswork, ya know?

I do know that I could do a few make-ahead meals, but with the pain I’ve been in, it just sounds exhausting at the end of the day. Even after sitting all day, my legs feel like they can’t take any more. I have been cooking a bit, but not enough to put that much effort into it.

Here is my list of meal and snack ideas and the corresponding list of groceries that I will need to shop for since they are not currently in my pantry:

Meals & Snacks

  • Egg Bagel Sandwiches {aka 90-second Breakfast Sandwich}
  • Lean Cuisine Frozen Entrees  – I always have a few of these in the freezer. I don’t eat them everyday, only when I’m in a pinch. My favorite? Salmon with Basil!
  • Chipotle Black Bean Burgers – Currently in my freezer. I can just pop them between a bagel thin and or smear on some guacamole.
  • Healthy Choice Country Vegetable Soup – I know that we are talking a lot of sodium here, but it’ll be an easy way to get in some needed veggies
  • Peanut Butter Toast
  • No Hassle Fruits – see grocery list below.
  • Magic Smoothie
  • Fiber One Brownies
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Hard-boiled eggs

Grocery List

  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Clementines
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Carrots – cut and put in baggies or containers
  • Cucumbers – cut and put in baggies or containers
  • Bell Peppers – cut and put in baggies or containers
  • Hummus
  • Spinach
  • Eggs
  • Lean Cuisines
  • Healthy Choice Country Vegetable Soup
  • Wholly Guacamole or Avocado

To prep

  • Make sure dishes and ingredients are reachable from hip to chest level
  • Cut veggies
  • Hard Boil Eggs

That should be it! This also serves as a reminder if I find myself thinking that there is nothing to eat in the house. I can come back to this past to read about my available options!

But of course, Rob, I won’t mind a little takeout now and then, or even a little ice cream. 😉 I’m just trying not to go overboard while I’m immobile!

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Food Journal for Thursday:

Breakfast

I was running late, so I made a 90-second Breakfast Sandwich to take in the car (not pictured because, uh, I was running late). But if you want to see a photo or learn how I heard about these, click here. Approximately 300 calories with blueberry bagel thin (sweet and savory sandwich!), one egg, and one ounce cheddar cheese.

At work – 2 cups of black coffee with a piece of Dove Dark Chocolate (the one with almonds). Isn’t this message appropriate right about now?

Thurs-Choc

Lunch

Salad

Salad with mixed greens, grape tomatoes, chopped carrots & celery, chopped almonds and avocado

I put the avocado in the container the night before and squeezed a bit a lime juice over it, but it still browned. It tasted fine, though. And that little jar is leftover from a Love with Food sample. Guess what I put in it? Leftover Balsamic Glaze from my Avocado-Bruschetta-Mozzarella Chicken dinner. I used it as my salad dressing!

Afternoon Snacks

Banana (not pictured).

Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Kind Bar courtesy of my February Foodie Penpal. 😉

Kind

Peanut Butter and Dark Choclate Kind Bar

Last night, I went to a Saga Hill Cooking Class with some friends. Knowing that we probably wouldn’t eat until later, I snacked again after work. I had an apple with some Biscoff Spread. Then I went to a small wedge of double cream brie. It could have turned into an all-out binge, but I stopped myself and called my mom instead.

Dinner

When we arrived at cooking class, we poured ourselves some wine. I started with a glass of white, but it was too warm, so I switched to red. For $15, wine is unlimited for the evening. My friend Jen was driving and I could no longer be on meds before surgery, so I took full advantage! Actually, I was a little apprehensive on how I would hold out for the evening. By this time of night, I’m usually just wiped. Luckily, from where I was sitting at our table, I could sit on the stool or stand up whenever I needed to.

I lost count of my wine, but I think we concluded that I had five of their bar-sized glasses. This is equivalent to probably 2 and 1/2 to 3 glasses the size that I would have at home.

In the past three classes I’ve done at Saga Hill, we usually don’t eat until she’s done her explanation of what to expect and have cooked our first item. However, this time she served us little dishes of jambalaya right away!

Jambalaya with Smoked Sausage

Jambalaya with Smoked Sausage

This class was All About The Pig. I thought this would be a good one to give me some ideas and what else I could make for Rob. We learned about pre-packaged bacon versus pork belly. We cut the pork belly into lardons and sautéed them in a little oil. We then learned how to make scrambled eggs the correct way! You should not beat the crap out of thembut should be patient and guide them to ebb and flow in the pan. We finished the eggs with some chives and butter and served them with the bacon and toast:

Scrambled eggs with lardons and toast

Scrambled eggs with lardons and toast

I don’t know if I can ever eat packaged bacon again! Next up, we made our own sausage. Chef Marianne taught us that sausage is made of one-half pork belly and one-half the middle section of the pig (the loin). We each got some raw ground pork and were able to make our own sausage in a way that could easily be replicated at home. We were given ingredients such as thyme, fennel, cayenne, nutmeg, maple syrup, chedder, etc. and were told to be creative. My sausage included fennel, cheddar {like I would have done anything else!}, with a pinch of cayenne, and some salt and pepper. We rolled them in plastic wrap and poached them for four minutes in boiling water. While that was going on, we were served some pork carnitas on a small baked corn tortilla. (Not pictured, the wine must have kicked in at this point.) The carnitas had a great warmth of spice and were uber-flavorful. They were topped with some sour cream and cilantro.

After our sausages were poached, we browned them in a little bit of oil:

Medley of Sausages

Medley of Sausages!

Since there were six of us at our table, we cut each sausage into six pieces to try a little bit of each creation! Here is what my plate looked like:

Sausage bites with potatoes

Sausage bites with potatoes

To be honest – I loved all of them! Each sausage had a very distinct, unique flavor! And each time we tasted one, we could figure out who made it. It was a fun guessing game and a test of our taste buds.

Then we finished off with dessert – which had nothing to do with pork. We learned how to section/supreme citrus. We put Lynn at our table to work and they turned out beautifully!

Thurs-Citrus

One of the chefs gave her the wonderful compliment that in all of his years as a chef, he’s never seen in any kitchen a more beautifully sectioned/supremed selection of citrus!

We each had to make and flip our own crêpe. For some reason, this was a challenge for me. I could get it out of the pan, but not flipped over. One of mine landed on the floor. I guess I just don’t have that flick of the wrist! The citrus {lemon, clementine and grapefruit} ended up in the pan with some sugar and after reducing, some brandy was added to flambée the mixture. We topped our crêpes with the sweetened and flambéed citrus, folded them up and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Thurs-Citrus Crepe

Overall, it wasn’t a low-calorie day. However, I’m glad that our portion sizes were small enough at the cooking class that we didn’t get overly stuffed. And it was still enough to feel like you’d had a good meal!

When I got home, I started to eat a double cheeseburger because Rob had brought home an extra and I didn’t want it to go to waste. WHAT?! What kind of thinking is that? I had already had plenty of food. Lesson learned. I have to eliminate that kind of thinking.

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What easy, fast, healthy ingredients, snacks and meals would you add to my post-op lists above?

Cheers~

Carrie