Better Choices, Better Results

Archive for April, 2011

5K Update

I kind-of fell off the 5K training wagon while I was on vacation.  I think I over-did my training by doing it two days in a row, because for the next week I had stiff, sore knees.  This tells me that either I’m not ready (physically) for running, or that my form is incorrect, causing extra stress on my knee joints.

I haven’t given up, though.  I’m going to start again, but go slower by not running every day.  I’ll go the every-other day route and hope that my form improves and I’m able to progress.  I’m also going to repeat each training week until I feel like I’m able to fully perform that week’s task without feeling completely wiped out.

This means it’ll take longer to get me there, but I still plan to get there.

I will get there.

I will run a 5K.

I will set a new goal.

It will be a more realistic goal for someone who’s never been an athlete.

I want to run a 5K by my birthday in November.

I’ll keep you posted.


I’m Back!

My trip was great. I did a lot of driving, but at the end of it, I got to see my dear friend Jennifer and experience part of her new life as a herd manager for an alpaca farm.

Alpacas and Llamas are all part of the Camel family. They have cute faces and soft fur and will spit if threatened or scared. They are beautiful, curious, social and timid creatures – skittish when confronted with a person, animal or situation in which they are unfamiliar.

They are not big animals; in fact once shorn, they look very spindly and cute, and you say to yourself, “There’s not much of you under all that fur, is there?

Stated simply, I fell in love with them.

First we visited the farm where my friend works. The animals had been shorn the week prior, so I met them as funny-looking, short-haired, long-necked critters. Actually, I think they are cute when shorn because it’s easier to see their precious faces. I learned that when a farm sees potential in an animal to be a show animal, they will leave the head unshorn, which makes them look like a lollipop; a big, round, fluffy head on a long, skinny neck!

See what I mean? A Lollipop head!

Isn't Lily gorgeous?

Me feeding Graceful Night.

Look at that face!


The next day we drove to Nebraska for the Alpaca show. Little did I know that I was driving into a storm system that was producing blizzard conditions where we were going! I fought the wind and freezing rain the entire way. In fact, the gale-force wind blew a Speed Limit sign onto the interstate! I was driving along and all of a sudden, the car in front of me swerved and there was the sign – with me barreling towards it.  I looked left – I looked right – there was nowhere for me to go, so I slowed as much as I could without getting rear-ended and told Jennifer, “Hold on! We’re going over it!” Yes – I had to run over the speed limit sign, posts and all. I pulled over and we felt for deflating tires. The car was fine. I was not. That little experience shook me up a bit. After that we called 911 and reported the downed sign. It was only a matter of time before someone got hurt.

The show itself was interesting and COLD! Because alpaca fur is very dense and hot, they have to show the animals during the early spring and late fall, while it’s still cool. Every farm also brings fans to blow air into the alpaca pens to keep them cool. There were hundreds of industrial fans blowing 45 to 50-degree air around. Despite dressing in layers, I was freezing!

What a perfect excuse to buy this gorgeous red alpaca cape and matching hat! …and gloves and a blanket and socks and another hat. I really was cold!

The hat's a little over-the-top, but I LOVE the cape!

My friend’s farm ended going home with three 1st-Place wins, a 2nd-Place win and two 4th-Place wins. Not bad for a farm that’s only been in operation since October of last year! Here are some more photos for you to oooh and ahhh over:

This is Pin Up. Look at those eyes!

This is Taffeta (and me).

My friend Jennifer and Snooki.

Little Mr. Ferrari

Eloise. Her Champaigne-colored fur is beautiful!

Angel Eyes

I'll finish with an "Awwww" factor; a 10-day-old Suri Alpaca.


I had a great time and look forward to going back!

On Vacation

I’m going to be on vacation for a few days, so I might not be posting as regularly as normal.  I’m going to visit a friend who’s a herd manager for an Alpaca Farm!

We’ll be traveling to Nebraska to a popular and well-known Alpaca show, where I’ll get to help with the animals and take lots of photos.  Can you imagine how excited I am to do this?

I’ll share my experiences when I get back.

While on vacation, I will:

  • Choose to eat healthier meals. I won’t throw all my progress out the door because I’m “on vacation.”  I will enjoy myself, but will not eat lots of unhealthy food just because I’m “on vacation.”


  • I will continue my 5K training by taking my running shoes and my training schedule.  I’m sure the hotel will have a gym.  If not, I’ll make do with the parking lot.


  • I will take lots and lots of pictures to share with you!


See you in a few days!

The Salad Artist Strikes Again!

The Salad Artist Strikes Again!

I just find it very fun and informative to play with salads.  You can pack so much nutrition and fiber into a salad if you work at making them special.

Today I had this:


Mixed greens topped with rinsed Great Northern beans, tuna and Dijon mustard dressing.

The beans and tuna are packed with protein, so this salad will keep me full for quite awhile!

Stay tuned for more Salad Artistry!

It’s Official

I must be CRAZY!  After dinner tonight I was trying to decide if I should train for my 5K today.  It was raining, so I thought maybe I’d skip today and train tomorrow. My mom, being as full of wisdom as she is, said, “Well, if you were in a real race they wouldn’t call it off for rain, would they?”



She was right.  So I put on my running clothes, a light waterproof jacket and a ball cap to help protect my glasses.  I’m nearly blind without them and don’t wear contacts.

Out the door I went, into the rain and wind.  I started out with a 5-minute walk.  Then I had to switch to a jog/walk pattern for twenty minutes.  The pattern is 60-seconds of jogging then 90-seconds of walking.  Repeat 7 more times for a total of twenty minutes.

On the second round of the jog/walk, it started raining harder.

On the third round, it started lightning.

On the fifth round, I couldn’t get through the entire 60-seconds of jogging and I wanted to quit!  It was raining, after all!

I didn’t quit, though.  I ran for 42 seconds of the 60, walked the remaining 18 seconds and then persevered into the 90-second portion of the round.  By the time that was over, I had regained my momentum and was able to finish out the workout.

In the rain.

By the way…that jacket WASN’T waterproof!

I must be out of my mind!

Training…for a 5K!

It has begun.  I can’t believe I actually did it!  I just completed day one of my 5K training program! 

Today’s task was to walk for 5 minutes, jog 60 seconds, walk 90 seconds (repeat for a total of 20 minutes) and walk 5 more minutes.

Let me repeat…I did it!

There were some things I want to do better, but that will come with time and experience.  First, I want to run a little faster, but it was all could do today to keep up a slog (slow + jog) for the entire 60 seconds…especially when I had to jog up an incline.

Second, I’d like to walk faster during the 90-second intervals, but today I was so consumed with getting in some precious, life-sustaining oxygen that I was focused on that.

I didn’t stop, though, and I think that’s important.

I’ll be keeping a photo-journal of my progress.  I now present:  Day One.

This is me (obviously) before my jog.  So cheerful.  So optimistic!  So…able to breathe!

Me, after jogging.  I’m still trying to catch my breath. 


Can you see the sweat?  I continued to sweat, even more profusely, for about 10 minutes after I returned.  Look how curly my hair gets!

I’ll be repeating this same jogging pattern for a minimum of 3 days this week.

Can you believe it?!?!?  I’m training for a 5K!

A Friendly Warning


There’s a new no-calorie sweetener on the market called Ideal.  It’s made with xylitol.  Xylitol, as defined on the Ideal website is:

“a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that can be found in many fruits and vegetables and  is even produced by the human body as part of the normal metabolism of glucose.  With  its low glycemic index, xylitol is a great alternative for people with diabetes since it is metabolized independently of insulin. 

Xylitol is also known for its dental benefits*.  Xylitol inhibits the growth of the bacteria that cause cavities. And though we’ve not tested Ideal® to identify its cavity-reducing benefits, many research organizations (including the Calorie Control Council and the  American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) have identified considerable health benefits  from using xylitol. We encourage you to research this sweet sensation yourself.”

I’m glad there’s another option for sweetening food.  However, many people might not know that xylitol is toxic to dogs.  This warning is also from the Ideal website:

“Dogs digest foods differently than we do, so some foods are not safe for them to eat. Foods like chocolate, apples, peaches, raisins, grapes, avocados, baking soda and xylitol  are not safe for your pet. So, please don’t let them eat anything made with these foods.  If your pet does accidentally eat something made with xylitol, contact your veterinarian immediately.”

I did not read the back of the packaging, but I hope they’ve put that warning on it as well.  However, I know that many people do not read everything about the foods they eat, and my fear is that people will miss this warning and feed their dogs food made with this sweetener.

This post is my way of doing a public service announcement.

If you have pets, especially dogs, do not feed them foods made with Ideal Sweetener.  I have a dog, and because I’m afraid that she’ll accidentally eat something made with xylitol, I won’t be trying this product.

I wish this company the best of luck and applaud them for creating a new sweetener that’s no-calorie and safe for diabetics.

To read more about this product, click here.