Fabulously on the Move: Conquering 60 Miles for a Cause {Guest Post}

I’ve had the pleasure of watching my friend Alyssa from The Double Chin Diary train for the Komen 3-Day throughout the year… and it’s been incredibly inspiring.  So inspiring, that I asked her to share her story with all of you here at NTTC.

Fabulously on the Move Double Chin Diary | No Thanks to Cake

Alyssa’s story is real, the challenge to complete this race is enormous, and her passion for the cause is deeply rooted in a recent family loss.  Read more below about my inspiring friend and how she’s challenging herself for a cause near and dear to her.

Conquering Sixty Miles for a Cause | No Thanks to Cake

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Hello everyone! I’m Alyssa and I’m so happy to be saying No Thanks to Cake today. I met Kelly at Fitbloggin in 2013 and this past year at Fitbloggin, we were roommates and both winners of an Avocado recipe contest. To say that Kelly is just as amazing in person as she is online is an understatement — she’s a delight in every possible way.

Fitbloggin Avocado Contest Double Chin Diary Alyssa | No Thanks to Cake

I’ve never been an exceptionally athletic person. In elementary school, my doctor had to remind me that while reading was great exercise for the mind, it wasn’t doing my pudgy body any favors. I’ve struggled with my weight since adolescence, and it seems like the past 15 years of my life I’ve been perpetually trying to lose weight. However, in the past few years, my priorities have shifted and it’s now less about the number on the scale and more about how I feel.

On Thanksgiving day in 2014, my wonderful mother-in-law told us she had Stage 3 Liver Cancer. On May 14, 2014, a mere six months after her diagnosis, we held her hand as she peacefully passed away. It was at that moment that I realized the horrible devastation cancer has caused to so many families had now affected mine. Cancer was no longer in my backyard, it was in my living room. A week after she was diagnosed, I accepted a job with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. The 3-Day is a 60 mile walk over the course of three days, and each walker fundraises $2,300 toward groundbreaking breast cancer research and community education. Within weeks of working there, it became clear what my purpose was with this new job.

Not only would I be making a difference in what I did to the millions of women and men affected by breast cancer every day, I would be making a difference to my family.

I signed up for the walk and nervously started fundraising. I asked for donations on my blog, through email, and writing letters, and soon, I had surpassed my goal of $2,300, and have now reached over $2,800. The next big challenge was tackling the physicality of the walk. 20 miles is an awful lot to walk, and for someone who’s not incredibly fit, I wasn’t sure I could do even a quarter of the walk daily, five miles.

Around Thanksgiving last year, I completed a 5k (3.2 miles) where my feet ached the whole last mile. I’ve been a regular exerciser over the years, but always things like bootcamp or swimming, never distance. I started slow. I walked to the post office. I walked to the grocery store. I got bolder and added another mile to a mile. Soon, I was regularly walking 3 miles. I felt my body change. I could walk 3 miles and not feel too sore, so I did 4. Then I did 5. Then, one day, my friend Jason challenged me to do 6. We walked for two hours around a beautiful local lake, and as the sun sank into the horizon, I realized that I had just easily cleared 6.8 miles – more than double the amount I had struggled with just a few months prior.

6.8 turned into 7. 7 turned into 8. 8 turned into 9, and then, finally, 9 turned into 10. This weekend, I tackled my first 10-mile walk. It’s not like strolling through the mall or speed-walking – you need to be conscious of your electrolytes, your dehydration level, using the restroom, wearing the right shoes. On mile 8 of the 10 mile walk, I didn’t think I could keep going. My foot was aching, I was thirsty, and in my mind, I was done. But with the support of my friends and a few well-timed breaks, I kept going. This journey hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth it.

I’m guilty of sometimes having a fat girl mentality when it comes to exercise. “Oh no,“ I think. “I can’t possibly do that, I’m too big.” Well, try telling yourself you’re too big after you’ve just walked 5 miles. Then try 10. Self-worth, validation, pride – these things come easily when your feet have carried you so far. Size has nothing to do with it.

Alyssa Double Chin Diary | No Thanks to Cake

Training for this walk won’t bring my mother in law back. Completing this walk won’t bring her back. But what it will do is create more chances of survival for a person who’s just had their world turned upside down by cancer.

A few months before my mother-in-law passed, I told her I would be completing the walk in her honor. She pushed down her glasses slightly, a move she always did when she was trying not to cry. She was honored, and I knew in that moment that the blisters, the aching, and the tears will be nothing compared to what she and so many others have endured. In November, I’ll carry her name with me every step of the way. Besides being an amazing role model of love and courage, my mother-in-law gave me a gift. Her struggle with cancer and departure from this Earth reminded me as I trained for this walk that while my size may describe me, it does not define me. There are limits we place on ourselves that can be easily overcome if we give ourselves the grace to believe that we can. 

Alyssa will be walking the Komen 3-Day in San Diego, CA this weekend.  Let’s send her some NTTC love as she takes on this amazing feat!  So proud of you, my dear!

Want to follow Alyssa and her Double Chin Diary adventures?  Heres’s a few ways that you can keep up with Alyssa:  Double Chin Diary Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest

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Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

We’re just a week out from Thanksgiving, and like the rest of America, you’re probably planning your Thanksgiving strategy.

To get you ready for the biggest meal of the season, I thought I’d share some of my favorite healthy options that you can incorporate into your festivities!  I’ve only made a turkey (breast) once, so I’m probably not your expert in that area… but, I have plenty of apps, salads, sides and desserts that you can make for your special feast.

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup | No Thanks to Cake

Click on any of the images below to see the full recipe, taste-tested and recommended by yours truly!

Appetizers

Appetizers tend to be a dangerous territory.  So, I always try to bring something that I can munch on.  Something that I know is somewhat safe.  Here’s a few of my top picks…

Veggie Appetizer Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

BLT Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes | No Thanks to Cake

Lightened Up Holiday Chex Mix | No Thanks to Cake

Spinach Cheese Ball Appetizers | No Thanks to Cake

Salads

Salads are another way to fill your plate.  I usually try to fill my plate at least half with salad and fresh, healthy veggie sides.  These salads will help you get to your goal of having a healthy Thanksgiving for sure!

Broccoli Cranberry Salad | No Thanks to Cake

Individual Layered Salads | No Thanks to Cake - - Great idea for entertaining.  So easy, and so impressive to your guests!

Summer Pasta Salad with Baby Greens | No Thanks to Cake

Sides

Other “sides” tends to be my danger zone.  That’s where you find the mashed potatoes, the sweet potatoes, the stuffing… all the things I want to load my plate up with.  These lightened up sides can be a great alternative.

Baked Creamed Spinach | No Thanks to Cake

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

Roasted Carrots with Honey Mustard Glaze | No Thanks to Cake

Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower and Tomatoes | No Thanks to Cake

Maple Orange Brussels Sprouts | No Thanks to Cake

Lightened Up Green Bean Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

Desserts

The Thanksgiving meal isn’t quite finished until the desserts roll out… for years, I’ve gone with dessert “minis” as a way to control my portions.  I’m also including this year one decadent dessert… the oreo bars, because they’re just that dang good!

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake

Gooey Pumpkin Oreo Bars | No Thanks to Cake

Pumpkin Spice Cake Ball Turkeys | No Thanks to Cake

Pumpkin Butterscotch Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake

Whatever you’re eating this Thanksgiving, consider how you can make it healthier… and consider your strategy before you step up to the buffet table.  You can do this!!

What food are you looking to enjoy most this Thanksgiving Day?

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Gingerbread Overnight Oats

While I know that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, is it wrong that I have my eyes on Christmas?  Yep, I’m one of those that looks past that fancy feast… and really prefers Christmas.

I mean, there’s something special about the flavors of peppermint and gingerbread that far exceed my excitement for pumpkin.  And, with major retail being in a HUGE rush for Christmas, it makes it even easier to skip over Thanksgiving and look ahead to my favorite wintry holiday

PS.. If you haven’t tried the Gingerbread Biscotti at Starbucks, you should.  So delicious.  A bit indulgent, but worth it.  Tasting that for the first time on Saturday officially pushed me over the edge into gingerbread territory… and inspired today’s recipe.

Gingerbread Overnight Oats | No Thanks to Cake

It’s spicy and rich… and incredibly filling.  I love eating oats like this because I get major mileage out of them… full for hours.  This one is perfect for the season.  Try it!

Gingerbread Overnight Oats

Inspired by My Whole Food Life

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Gingerbread Overnight Oats | No Thanks to Cake

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. chia seeds
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. molasses
1/3 cup skim milk + a splash of milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Place all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Gingerbread Overnight Oats | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Add wet ingredients and stir to combine well.

Gingerbread Overnight Oats | No Thanks to Cake

Gingerbread Overnight Oats | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight, if desired.  If overnight, add a splash of milk in the morning to mix the oats well.  Drizzle with honey, if desired.  Enjoy!  Note:  I’ve grown to enjoy the oats after they’ve sat for just about 30 minutes, leaving them slightly chewy.  Both ways are delicious though!

Gingerbread Overnight Oats | No Thanks to Cake

Gingerbread Overnight Oats | No Thanks to Cake
Per entire recipe serving:

CAL 262; CARB 49g; FAT 4g; PROT 9g; FIB 6g; WW Points Plus: 7

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Feeling Exposed… and Letting that Go

I’ll admit it:  Blogging is a super-weird thing.

I’m working my way into YEAR FIVE here at NTTC, and I’m still surprised by thing that come up through the process.  This week, I had an awesome opportunity to participate in an interview with Women’s Health Magazine.  The magazine reached out requesting an interview for their Weight Loss Success Story series, and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to participate.

I did a phone interview with Ashley at Women’s Health, and we had a great discussion.  She asked me questions about my weight loss story… and I candidly told her about how I lost the weight and about how I gained it in the first place.

Ashley transcribed the conversation into this article that is currently posted on Women’s Health Online.  How amazingly cool is that??

Womens Health Magazine Article | No Thanks to Cake

Excited about the article all week, I got the link from Ashley with the final story, and I completely froze.  I got nervous.  All my words were right there.  All those things I said… talking about how I was embarrassed about appearing larger than someone who was 6 months pregnant and about quitting a 5K halfway through.  It was all true, it was all there for their entire audience (with a much more significant reach than NTTC)… and it scared me to death.

In the blog world, you quickly find your people that you can bounce ideas off of… for example, Emily has been my gut check for my blog redesign, and I immediately reached out to Alyssa for thoughts on the article.

Thank goodness for blog friends!!! In my head, I had made myself nervous about the article… and Alyssa reminded me quickly of why the article existed to begin with:  To help other people who are trying to lose weight and experience what I have.

My story of weight loss is a fun tale peppered with telling progress pics and lots of stories about yoga (the Red Rocks kind, the farty kind, and the one where there were dolphins.)  And, at the same time, it’s a story of the challenges I’ve faced along the way, the emotional eating habits I’ve worked to overcome, and learning to lean on others for support.

Before After | No Thanks to Cake

And in the end, while blogging may be weird… and it may have its ups and downs (especially on the scale,)  every nervous moment of “should I post that” is worth it… if there’s just one person out there that it helps.

Despite my initial pause, I can’t be more thrilled to have been featured in Women’s Health… if real life weight loss is what they’re looking for, it doesn’t get more real than this journey.  And, it continues…

Thank y’all for being there every step of the way!  xoxo

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