Great Run!

At least one hundred times in the last three years, I’ve bumped into a neighbor in workout clothes and we’ve chatted about our mutual love of running.

Despite this almost daily interaction, we had never run together. I had often thought about suggesting it, but I was intimidated by her fitness level: she regularly competes in triathlons and, despite my Marathon success this past January, my weight gain has really crushed my self confidence.

A few nights ago, after we’d bumped into each other walking our dogs, she told me she planned to do an 8 mile training run Tuesday morning and asked if I’d want to join. I hesitated, embarrassed that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but then told her I’d love to.

For two nights in a row, I panicked, worried she’d be so much faster than me or that she’d feel like she had to tone down for me to keep up, and I even debated canceling on her. I didn’t want to be that person, though, so when my alarm went off at 4:45am this morning to get ready, I got up, stretched, and put on my running clothes.

I met up with her and her friend, another super fit runner, and I could feel myself getting really nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. But they were so nice and friendly and excited to run together, I decided I would give it my all and hope for the best.

Nine miles later, we finished as the sun was rising over Lake Baldwin, and I couldn’t believe we were done. We talked the whole time and, except for a quick water stop, we ran the whole route. Because of the high heat and humidity, we committed to a 10:00 minute mile pace; and it felt perfect the entire way.

No pain. No stress. Just a beautiful run and great conversation.

I’m so glad I didn’t cancel, and this gave me the confidence I needed to know that my few extra pounds haven’t diminished my athletic ability or endurance. I can get this weight back off, and I can continue to get stronger and faster at the same time.

I can do this. We can do this.

Bon appetite, my friends!

– Tori

The Yo-Yo’s Fall

It has definitely been a while since I posted, and I have to admit, I’ve been dreading it.

My weight this morning was 148 pounds.

While I know this extra-high number was contributed to by three very salty weekend meals and Aunt Flo, I know that my true weight –which is likely closer to 144 or 145 lbs– is very much a fact.

In the last three years, I’ve managed to put back on 22 lbs from my all-time low in June 2014.

The last ten pounds were packed on in the previous three-four months. No real reason for it, either. My life has been good. I’m not overly stressed, I’m at the tail-end of my graduate degree, and I’m at a really good place in my life. Honestly, I’ve just been overeating and exercising less, and I have no real cause other than a bit of apathy.

As I stared at the scale this morning, though, I decided I was ready to get back on the wagon.

I’m ready to be honest with myself and admit that more of the clothing in my closet is too tight to zip, and that I’m slowly slipping back into my pre-2013 dresses; a weight/size I’m not OK with and don’t want to get back to.

While I’m still down almost 70 lbs from my all-time high (of 214 lbs), I am not OK with the fact that I’ve let myself take so many steps back from my goal weight and all the success I worked so hard to achieve.

I am back to being transparent with myself: tracking calories, exercising daily, and not eating back the calories I burn. This yo-yo is ready to pull herself back up from the ground and bounce back into the proud, fit, and athletic version of myself that I love a HELL of a lot more than this tubby, tired one I’m dealing with right now.

I’m recommitted to sharing my journey here –the good and the bad– and I’m asking all of you to help me stay transparent.

On that note, it’s time for dinner. A healthy, balanced, and not chocolate-centric dinner.

Bon appetite, my friends!

~ Tori

Run, Baby, Run

I’ve been running.

A lot.

After my successful completion of The Great Chocolate Race in early November, I decided to fill the next few weeks with more races. On Thanksgiving, I completed the local Turkey Trot (5k), and this past weekend, I ran in the OUC Half Marathon.


I’m getting faster.

I’m getting stronger.

I’m getting happier.

I’ve basically stopped weighing myself, and I hardly count calories now. I focus on meals as an opportunity to fuel my runs, and, as a result, I find that I obsess less about food and make healthier choices naturally.

I can’t wait for the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge: just four weeks away!

~ Tori

The Great Chocolate Race!

I know I’ve been rather quiet on here the last year or so, but rest assured my interest and passion for exercise, nutrition, and weight loss has never abated.

In fact, in the last few months, I’ve developed a love for running that has become nearly an obsession.

I have always wanted to be a “runner;” that is to say, I always wanted to find the joy in running that so many people I know had, but it always seemed elusive to me. I’d sign up for 5Ks and find myself snoozing my alarm clock, looking for excuses not to go. When I did get myself there (about 50% of the time, sadly, prior to 2016), I would hate every step of the run, and would count down the mileage like a silent prayer to the fitness gods.

But something changed. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but something in me flipped. I think it was in the Spring, at the Winter Park Road Race. I think running the 10K without stopping, setting a personal PR of sub-55 minutes, was the catalyst I needed.

I think the main reason I disliked running was because I thought I was inherently bad at it, purely because I wasn’t the fastest.

But running, unless you’re an Olympic track star, is not about speed: it’s about going.

Once I realized that running was about the mind-body connection and not about the speed, running suddenly became an addiction.

I found myself amazed by my strength and endurance, and each run I managed to run longer, faster, and with less recovery needed.

Last weekend, I ran in The Great Chocolate Race, a 10+ mile course covering downtown Orlando. My only goal upon arrival was to RUN the whole thing; no stopping unless I truly had to (i.e. shoes untied or some halt-worthy emergency). I didn’t care about my time: I just wanted to be able to say to myself that I never stopped.

Well …it worked.

 

Per my RunKeeper app, I ran 10.52 miles (must have taken wide turns?) in 1:35:37.

1:35:37

That’s a 9:05 Min/Mile pace.

That’s more than a minute faster per mile than I planned, and it was one of the best races I’ve ever had.

I went into the run with the goal of finishing, and I ended up taking 2nd place for my age/gender.

SECOND PLACE!

Overall, I came in 45th place out of ALL runners, and came in 22nd out of all females.

When did I become a runner?

The day I decided I was one.

Bon appetit, my friends, and happy running (or whatever sport tickles your fancy),

~ Tori

Paleo Bar Review: MyHealthyEats Cashew & Cocoa Bar

Hi, friends!

So, I finally had a chance to crack into that shipment of Paleo Bars sent to me by My Healthy Eats over the weekend!

I decided to try out the Cashew & Cocoa Bar first, because, well … CASHEWS ARE MY JAM and who doesn’t love chocolate?

At a hefty 289 calories per bar, I will point out that these babies should likely be considered a meal replacement versus a snack – unless you’re a much bigger person. As a 135 lb woman, 289 calories is a substantial chunk out of my day, so I decided to have the bar as my dinner on Tuesday night.

 

First and foremost: these bars are moist, thick, and LOOK LIKE REAL FOOD.

If you recall my experience with Julian Bakery’s Paleo Protein bars, this is a DRASTIC –and much appreciated– difference.

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Seriously, this actually looks really good. Big chunks of nuts, NO MOLD (again, see my review of Julian Bakery’s bars), and a pretty substantial-looking bar.

I was most impressed by the TEXTURE: it was soft, chewy (think brownie, not tootsie roll), and had a dessert-like flavor on first bite.

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Similar to a LaraBar or the RXBars, the main ingredient of these bars is dates. This is what gives it a sweetness and the moist, thick texture that is such a departure from the Julian Bakery bars.

My husband tried a bite and thought I was having a dessert bar; so that’s definitely a vote of confidence!

All in all, I liked these bars, but I probably wouldn’t have them daily.

Here’s my voting/opinion in summary:

TEXTURE: Perfect! Moist, chewy, and brownie-like.

FLAVOR: Good, but not much different than a LaraBar.

CALORIES: HIGH – 289 is a substantial snack!

SUGARS: The bar is marketed as a “low carb” option, but this is NOT THE CASE. While it doesn’t have added sugars, the first ingredient is “date paste,” which is very naturally sugar-dense. This bar packed a whopping 24g of sugar, which is more than I normally aim to eat in a day. I would strongly advise against these bars if you’re following a Ketogenic or low carb diet.

PROTEIN: The bars are marketed as high protein, but with only 8g of egg white protein –it’s literally the last ingredient– I would consider these to be more of an energy bar versus a protein bar. I told my husband I plan to use the bars as carb-supplements while doing my marathon training this Fall.

Overall, I found the bar tasty and a decent option for those following a Paleo, Primal, Whole30 or vegetarian eating plan. I wasn’t floored by it, but I did find it substantially better than Julian Bakery’s Paleo bars.

That being said, I doubt I’ll be ordering any for myself. At over $4 per bar (almost double what Quest Nutrition and RX Bars charges), it’s definitely not in my price range. On top of that, I aim to eat less than 25g sugars MAXIMUM per day (realistically, I try to avoid sugar fully, as I’m following a hybrid Keto-Paleo diet), so these don’t fit well into my Macros.

For someone not concerned about carbs/sugars and who has more money to burn, these could be a good option. They do taste good, and I’m sure they’d be a nice treat warmed up, but they’re not a viable option for me to consume daily, both from a financial and nutritional perspective.

MY HEALTHY EATS BARS IN REVIEW:

PROS:

  • Paleo/Primal/Whole30 compliant.
  • Vegetarian option!
  • Natural ingredients (not 100% sure if they were organic, but I didn’t research it).
  • No junk fillers.
  • Available on Amazon for easy/expedient delivery.

CONS:

  • Very high in sugar (24g of sugars alone in the bar I ate)
  • High calories (between 250 to 289 in the three flavors they offer)
  • Relatively low in protein (only 8g)
  • Very pricey: Almost $37 for 9 bars! (yikes)

I do plan to try the other flavors this weekend (planned for the days I do my LONGEST training runs for my upcoming marathon), so I’ll post again if I have any additional feedback about them!

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Product Review Coming: MyHealthyEats Protein Bars

Over the last twelve months, I’ve discovered most newcomers to my blog are the result of one of two things:

  • ONE: they read my weight loss story on either The Huffington Post or Daily Mail (or stumbled across my homemade documentary on YouTube) and came here to commiserate/join me on the journey. Weight loss and good health is a lifelong struggle/ambition, and I use this blog to chronicle my daily wins, losses, and draws.

  • TWO:  they have experienced the HORRIFIC customer service that is Julian’s Bakery and/or they’re deeply disappointed in their Paleo Protein Bars and want to see if others have shared in the terrible experience. I’ve been quite vocal about my ridiculous arguments with Julian Bakery about their subpar products, and I think, and many others agree, that the company practices fraudulent product reviews/social media praise to entice new customers, because everyone I talk to is disgusted by the majority of their products.

 

Seriously, CLICK HERE if you want to read some of the trauma I went through with Julian’s Bakery over a case of their protein bars that arrived moldy, rock hard, and with misrepresented calorie information.

That being said, I’ve made quite a few friends from fellow Paleo-advocates who’ve stumbled across my blog while looking for product reviews, or those who’ve also had bad experiences with the same company.

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be contacted by Mr. Paul Easton, the producer of a NEW type of Paleo Protein Bar, who told me he planned to compete against Julian’s Bakery. Per Paul, his company, MyHealthyEats, would not only offer a superior product (anything beats the rock-hard, mold covered bars they sent, but I’m being silly), but that he would stand behind it 100% with a money back guarantee. In fact, he was so confident about the high quality of his bars, he offered to send me a sampler pack to try out and review on my website. I decided to take him up on his offer, letting him know I would provide a  100% honest review -not accepting any incentive or money to inflate my opinions- and he agreed.

Well, guess what arrived in the mail today?!

I already ate dinner (and a snack – whoops!) today, so I can’t dig into a bar right now, but wanted to let you know I’m SUPER excited to try these Paleo Protein Bars (the flavors sound awesome) and I’ll be posting a review for each flavor this week!

Keep an eye out, fellow yo-yos, and I’ll also give some life-updates this week, too!

Hope everyone is doing well! Bon appetit, friends!

~ Tori

Still Here!

I didn’t post Friday-Sunday, but it wasn’t because I fell off the wagon: I was literally just so exhausted each day from my action-packed weekend, I didn’t have the steam (or motivation) to post!

Friday my grandmother came to spend the day with me to celebrate her 74th birthday. She’s like the perfect combination between a crazy, eccentric German woman and a toddler; she’s brilliant and funny, but if you don’t keep your eye on her, she runs off and eats sand or something.

She loves the beach, so I took her to New Smyrna Beach!

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Kidding, kidding, but she does require a lot of energy and attention. She lives alone, so when we’re together she basically pummels me with conversation, which is definitely enjoyable but surprisingly exhausting after a few straight hours.

She’s also a diabetic who refuses to eat right, so I’m constantly aware of what she’s doing, eating, and drinking, making her check her blood sugar and cancelling her order (and getting herself she should be eating) when she turns her head at the restaurant.

Saturday, my husband and I spent the whole day at Disney World and had a blast. We ran around Magic Kingdom all afternoon, and then wrapped up our evening at Epcot. Despite our workout that morning, we still managed to get in an additional 20,000 steps (putting me at almost 38k for the day!) by the time we got home around 11pm. Yeah, needless to say, we crashed hard that night.

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On Sunday, we went out to lunch with friends (Vietnamese! Pho is my jam!) and then went to the Orlando City Soccer Game that night.

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Yes, I budgeted calories for that Jell-O shot, and it was worth it!

All three days, I managed to control my eating and stay on track, not to mention getting in a hardcore workout every morning!

After a successful weekend, I am going into my new work week back down to 134.2 lbs, down a staggering 7 lbs since Monday last week! I know it’s not realistic or sustainable to lose 7 lbs in one week, and I’m sure much of this is water weight, but it still put me in a great mood this morning and further reinforced my commitment to sticking to this as a lifestyle tweak, not a diet.

Hoping for another great week, and I’ll try to get back to posting daily from this point on, but I make no promises.

~ Tori