Are runners crazy?

Don’t tell my mother (Mom, stop reading right here; turn on the TV and find a Cardinals game or something), but we ran during the thunder and impending storms this evening.

No one saw lightning, but our Intermediate Runners coach heard thunder before we started.

“I don’t want to be paranoid, but I don’t want to be stupid, either,” Coach said. So instead of running the entire 5K course, we ran just 2 miles.

I told him I’d rather be considered paranoid than get struck by lightning. Nevertheless, I ran right along with the rest of the crazy people. I needed it (I ate too many Baked Cheetos today).

By the time we finished, it had started to sprinkle, so it was a good thing we exercised caution along with our calf muscles. We still didn’t see lightning, though; I think it was a ways off.

But a normal person would have gone straight home and turned on the local weather. Which is exactly what I did – after we ran. Under the thunder clouds.

And who am I kidding? My mother isn’t watching the Cardinals; she’s watching Ned, Todd and Barry on Channel 7 – the same weather guys I’m listening to as I write. But it’s a good thing I get UACCB alerts – I just got a text saying we’re under a tornado warning, but I didn’t hear the KATV guys say that (Ned, you have to speak louder when I’m typing!).

Are runners crazy?

Yeah, just a little bit.

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I was just kidding

A couple of weeks ago when I said I was going to blog daily about my fitness journey, I didn’t really mean it.

I did mean it, really, but now I realize how boring it will be to everyone – including me – if that’s all I ever talk about. I still want to try to write at least a little something each day, but I won’t continue to bore you to tears about how much I’ve eaten, how fast (or slowly) I ran or how much I weigh.

I am not giving up those things – I’m just giving us a break from it for a little while. That starts tomorrow. Tonight I’m going to do what I said I was going to do, and that’s to tell you what I ate today, because I weigh in tomorrow morning.

Breakfast:

  • Coffee with fat-free hazelnut creamer.
  • Bran flakes with skim milk.

Midmorning:

  • Black cherry “energy drink” mix (the powder stuff in the little packet that you pour into a bottle of water).
  • Banana.

Lunch (with Kristi, at Morningside Coffee House):

  • Veg Head Sandwich (veggies, pepper jack cheese, hummus, alfalfa sprouts on focaccia bread – yum!).
  • Unsweetened tea.

Midafternoon:

  • Coffee with hazelnut creamer (even though I usually don’t drink anything in the afternoons before I run, I was soooo sleepy after lunch and decided to risk the consequences of drinking coffee).
  • 1 piece of Werther’s Original coffee-flavored hard candy (a recently discovered special treat).

Dinner:

  • After the running clinic, Bruce and I went to Sonic. I debated between the grilled chicken wrap (my usual) and the sausage breakfast burrito. The burrito won. We got home, I took one bite and said, “Oh, shoot, I have to write this in my blog!” Bruce was amused.

I do need to continue reporting my daily food intake until it becomes such a habit for me to make the healthy choice. I know we will all be bored to tears before that day comes, but I hope you’ll bear with me.

I promise I will write about more interesting things. I have lots of topics in mind. But for now, I gotta get that first 10 pounds off. Which reminds me … I set a couple of goals this week, for my 10- and 20-pound milestones.

  1. When I’ve lost 10 pounds, I get to buy myself a book.
  2. When I’ve lost 20 pounds, I get a pair of summer sandals. I’m thinking those platform shoes that are fashionable now. This in itself is a milestone; I typically join up with the fashion world about the time the latest thing has faded into the sunset. But I don’t hate those shoes; in fact, I’ve seen some really cute pairs. I told Bruce that if I make that my 20-pound goal, I will hurry to reach it because I don’t want summer to be over before I can wear the shoes.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten on the goals. Once I reach the first one, I’ll set the next one. Here’s the catch: I’ve been up and down so much, losing 2 pounds and gaining 1, losing 1 pound and gaining 2, that I have to maintain the particular goal weight for a week before it’s official (and before I get my reward). That oughta keep me motivated.

So there you have it. I’ll let you know tomorrow night how I did on the scale at work in the morning.

Share your tips with me by posting a comment.

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Holding steady

Today was another birthday celebration at work. Why we had another, separate one after having the big April blowout two weeks ago is beyond me, but at least there was less food this time. A little less.

I had forgotten about the e-mail that went out yesterday (“Tomorrow is Stephanie’s birthday. We’re getting a cake. If anyone wants to bring other snacks …”), so I walked in unawares this morning. The snacks immediately tried to strike up a conversation: Surprise! Lots of food here! Calling your name! Your specific name, specifically and loudly!

But I was strong. I went straight through the department, past The Cake, the tortilla chips, cheese dip, salsa (at least it wasn’t Karen’s homemade salsa this time), the brownie bites and on and on … and into my office. I turned on my computer while telling myself and my officemate, “I’m not going to eat any of that today, especially after all I ate two weeks ago.”

Then I went back out to go to the bathroom. More food had appeared. That’s when I saw (cue the Jaws music, or the Psycho music) … the fudge-filled Oreos.

I had never seen, much less tasted, a fudge-filled Oreo. And, oh, if you knew how much I loooove Oreos. Well, you can probably imagine. And these were FILLED WITH FUDGE. Fudge. Filled. Oreos.

But I walked past them and never looked back (well, I think I looked, maybe one more time, at the Oreos – in their lovely little blue package. Filled with fudge). I used the facilities, returned to my office and ignored the junk food – all day.

Aren’t we proud of me?

Here’s what I did eat today:

Breakfast:

  • Coffee with fat-free hazelnut creamer.
  • Bran flakes with skim milk.

Midmorning:

  • Another cup of coffee at work, with hazelnut creamer (has fat – I’m still trying to teach my errand boy [Bruce] how to read nutrition labels – he saw “no saturated fat” and thought it meant “no fat at all”; the skinny boy is new at this).
  • 1 large grapefruit.

Lunch:

  • Sonic grilled chicken wrap and Route 44 unsweetened tea. (I finally made it to the grocery store at lunch, plus I didn’t have time to make a sandwich this morning, hence the drive-through lunch again.)

Midafternoon:

  • 1.4 ounces Hershey’s Extra Dark chocolate. (Who needs a stinkin’ fudge-filled Oreo when you’ve got extra-dark chocolate? Not me!)

Dinner:

  • Turkey sandwich with low-fat cheese, spicy mustard, pickles and red onion.
  • Green tea with lemon and a bit of apple cider vinegar (story for another post).

At 12:30 p.m., about an hour before I left for my lunch break, I wrote this: “IT’S OK TO BE HUNGRY!” This was in response to the bounty of junk food outside my door and to the rumbly in my tumbly (as Tigger would say). But I didn’t give in.

The trick, I have discovered over the years – even though I haven’t been successful at convincing my stomach of it – is that it’s all in your head. Well, it’s mostly in your head. Hunger pangs are often legitimate, but much of the time, for a food addict, they are a figment of the imagination. That’s one reason I think diet drugs will never be successful. For many of us, we don’t eat because we’re hungry; we eat to fill another kind of void: loneliness, sadness, anger, fatigue, depression – a hole that only God can fill.

Tomorrow I will run for the first time in nine days. For various reasons (fighting off the insanity pod being one of them), I haven’t been with the running clinic since last Tuesday. I look forward to being out there tomorrow, humidity pods aside (Oh, Lord, can’t you just put the humidity pods aside this summer?).

Did I just say I’m looking forward to running in the humidity tomorrow? This, in itself, is a sign of insanity.

Hey, chefs: Do you have a good recipe that disguises the taste of cooked spinach? If so, please share.

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2 steps forward, 1 step back

I have been busy lately, but less busy than a week ago. I have been stressed lately, but less stressed than a week ago. (Praise God.) Still, the schedule is busier than I would like.

School was effectively over for me last night after I made my oral presentation (with PowerPoint), a culmination of the paper I’ve been writing all semester and turning in 8-10 pages at a time. We still have one class period to go, but the hard work is over. And I don’t have to take my final(!) because I have an A average and he will use my lowest test score (96) in place of the final.

I’m still in recovery from the insanity pod that was noshing on my brain last week. That’s why today wasn’t so successful, foodwise, and how I now know for sure that I must tell you what I eat – every day – or the wheels will come off the bus. The train will jump the tracks. I will “jump the shark.” (If you don’t get that last one, you don’t watch enough 1970s TV. And it really doesn’t apply directly to this conversation; I just like the phrase. And for once I did not make it up. Click here for its origin.)

You may become bored reading my food diary every day (and I’m sure I’ll get bored reporting it), but in reading my “Going public” post of April 5, you became my accountability partner. (Didn’t you know that?) And I think reporting my food is going to be more important than reporting my weight, which this morning was 196 (or 198 on an accurate scale). That’s a half-pound up from yesterday. I’m not too worried about that because of the fluctuations that can occur regardless of what I eat. Nevertheless, I will be reporting my food from now on.

Here’s what I ate today:

Breakfast:

  • Coffee with fat-free hazelnut creamer (same as usual)
  • Bran flakes with skim milk (same as usual)

Midmorning snack:

  • Baked Cheetos (I’m out of almonds at work)
  • Passion-fruit tea

Lunch:

  • Burger, fries and Coke (not my usual iced tea, not even diet Coke but regular Coke)

Dinner:

  • One piece of Bruce’s leftover meat lovers pizza, cold (Mom had ordered the pizza during a recent fundraising drive at work, it was delivered today, and she gave it to Bruce)
  • Three-fourths of the egg salad sandwich that I forgot to take to work
  • Water

Not terrible, in the grand scheme of things, but forgetting my sandwich is what sidetracked me today; at lunch I was in a hurry and just drove through Wendy’s instead of coming home to get my sandwich. I also had been planning to go to the grocery store at lunch (where almonds were on my list), but after pointing the car in that direction I decided to go to the park, sit in my car and read. So my little red Honda turned around and headed the other direction.

The insanity pod is losing its grip on my gray matter, but I feel as though I’m coming off a severe case of bronchitis, or the flu, or some debilitating illness from which it takes a bit of time before you feel your old self again.

And in the interests of rest and more reading pleasure, I’m going to sign off, crawl under the covers with my furbabies and read.

Please share your thoughts with me today. How do you overcome times of “weakness” regarding food choices?

 

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The slow train to sanity – or is it a runaway train?

Friends, you don’t know how hard it is for me to be sitting here writing this rather than strapping on my seatbelt and pointing the car back toward North Little Rock. It’s 7:45 a.m. as I sit down to write this, and if I left now I could be there by 9:15 (Saturday’s Insane Statement No. 1).

If you’ve read Thursday night’s post (which hit the Internet just before midnight, another sign of my weakened mental condition), you know that I have been battling an “insanity pod” – trying to bring some measure of balance back to my life (if I ever possessed any such thing) – by eliminating things from my schedule, even those things that make me seem even more insane for skipping.

You see, Beth Moore is speaking at Verizon Arena in NLR this weekend, and I had bought my ticket several weeks ago, as soon as I heard about the event.

Beth Moore is, in my opinion, the best women’s Bible study teacher – dare I say women’s teacher, period – of our generation. (Oprah might think she herself is the best teacher of women, but Oprah would be wrong; she may mention “Jesus” every once in a while, but it’s not the same Jesus that Beth Moore talks about.)

I had been looking forward to seeing Beth (yeah, we’re on a first-name basis) live for so long it was killing me. My church here in Batesville had hosted one of her Living Proof Live global simulcasts last summer, and it was amazing (of course). We ladies talked that day of wishing we could attend a live Beth Moore event (several in the gathering that day already had). So when I heard the announcement about this weekend’s event, I wasted no time in registering.

In case you’re unfamiliar with her, in women’s Christian circles the name “Beth Moore” is like the name “Billy Graham” is to the world at large. Most church women you meet, young or old, are gonna know her name and have attended at least one of her Bible studies. Men don’t necessarily “get” her, but women love her.

I became familiar with Beth perhaps 10 years ago when “my other Fellowship” – Fellowship Bible Church of North Little Rock – did one of her studies, Living Free. With the first study, I was hooked. Fellowship North has since hosted many Beth Moore Bible studies, and I could name you my favorites, but I’ll save that for a later conversation.

I believe Beth is so popular for many reasons, but here are the main ones:

  • Her depth of insight into human nature and human character, partly because of where God has brought her from personally.
  • Her depth of study of the Scriptures, including the history of biblical terminology and concepts.
  • Her willingness to share the ugliness of her past with those she teaches. By the same token, she is willing to share the ugliness of her present with us. While there is a temptation to paint her as a saint, she would be the first to tell you she isn’t. She is a sinner saved by grace, just like the rest of us who have called on the name of Jesus for salvation. And we all have ugliness that makes us need Jesus on a minute-by-minute basis. (If you don’t think you do, you’re in denial and we should talk.)
  • She makes the Bible come alive. Her sanguine personality is a big part of that, but I think the more profound reasons are 1) the digging she does into the historical texts, through exhaustive research and study; 2) the fact that she has struggled with so many of the same issues we all struggle with, and then some; and 3) she loves Jesus from the depths of her soul.

It’s that last part that resonates with so many. Beth Moore loves Jesus. If you doubt it, just listen to her for 60 seconds and you’ll likely hear her say it, in so many words. It oozes out her pores.

So I am sitting here on Saturday morning wishing I were back at Verizon Arena, listening to awesome praise music and drinking in Part 2 of her message.

I was there last night for Part 1, knowing I was coming home afterward instead of spending the night with the rest of our group. It killed me to leave, but I was so tired by that point (mentally and physically) it was the only rational thing to do. Or so I thought.

Here is where I confess, and what brings me to tears: My decision not to stay to the end of the conference was based on human logic, not prayerful consideration.

What’s ironic is that human logic is what brought me to this place of imbalance in the first place. Not giving God the time of day, most days, is where my train began running off the tracks.

But let me back up a few days:

Wednesday night I was writing a Suzy & Spice blog post and getting ready to edit the church’s Connect+Scripture blog post before finishing our tax return so I could know how much money we needed to borrow to pay the IRS (our bill is big this year, for a variety of reasons, hence the delay in filing). My mother knocked on the door; she had just gotten out of church and thought she’d swing by to see us.

I didn’t even have time to talk to her. I sort of talked to her, but I was doing “computer things” the whole time she was here. She didn’t stay long, and I felt so guilty. I apologized then, and again the next day, and again yesterday. I also told her to read Thursday’s blog post, which I wrote as a result of this encounter. Or I should say the encounter was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

For it was then that I realized, for sure, that something had to give. And the fact that my mother was the one I had “given up” did not make me happy. When something has to give, your family should not even be on the list.

Mom  and the rest of my family have been the ones to suffer from my imbalanced life for a long time.

My rational self is the one that says things like “I have to go to school because of A, B and C” (those reasons are for another post) or “When we sell the North Little Rock house, X, Y and Z will change and I will have more time” or “I committed to this, and I can’t quit.”

My tendency to overcommit is what will end up killing me someday, if my family doesn’t murder me first.

So in Thursday’s post I talked about the insanity of imbalance. I mentioned needing to take things off my calendar, even things that were seemingly important. (I was thinking specifically of the Beth Moore event.)

My human logic said, “Girl, you’re going to die, or alienate your family, or get fired from your job if you don’t start whittling down your to-do list.”

So the calendar items started dropping like flies, even the one event I had waited so long for. I almost skipped it entirely, but I knew I had to go at least for part of the weekend.

There is another (also stress-related) reason I decided to experience only half of the weekend, and telling you would reveal an unflattering part of me that I’m not ready to share this morning – partly because it’s a long story; you need background info before you judge me too harshly 🙂 and this post is too long already!

A huge irony of this story is that Beth Moore talked about excellence last night – how we need to order our schedules and commitments wisely because “we cannot do a thousand things to the glory of God.” That sentence almost made me weep. It also prompted Kristi to reach across another friend, grab my arm and ask, “Did she consult with you before she wrote this?” (or words to that effect).

Beth’s challenge to us last night was to figure out what God has called us to do (“adopt a succinct life goal”), acquire the appropriate tools to fulfill it (Bible commentaries and concordances, for instance), “endure the hard for the sake of the good” (I’ll expand on that later) and embrace community. (Kristi has been instructed to take good notes for me today so I can hear the rest of the message.)

In the next few days, I’ll share more of what I learned last night, but here’s the challenge I want to leave you to ponder with me, for as long as it takes to discover the answer:

“What would it take to be excellent at what God has called you to do?”

Please share your thoughts by posting a comment.

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Stop the insanity (pods)!

A giant insanity pod has descended upon me and has taken up residence on top of my head. For the past few days, it’s been trying to make its way through my dense thicket of hair to creep into my cranium and wreak havoc with my internal circuitry. It threatens to annihilate me if something is not done to stop it.

What is an insanity pod, you say? You won’t find the precise definition in any dictionary, but an insanity pod is much like the humidity pods that descend upon Arkansas about this time of year and don’t leave until October or November. It’s a presence you dislike, but you learn to live with it, much like you learn to live with oily skin, or a husband who steals the covers. Until it’s time to cry out, “Enough is enough!” or “Out, out, darn pod!”

But, unlike with the humidity pods, you have some measure of control – within predetermined parameters – over an insanity pod. For instance, you can control how large it gets and how long it stays attached to your brain – or whether it makes it past your scalp in the first place.

In case you have never heard of insanity pods, we offer this helpful Q&A:

How do insanity pods form? No one knows for certain how the first pod came to be, but it grew and spawned other pods (much like Amish friendship bread). They approach the most vulnerable victim first (they can tell who you are). They begin by spotting someone with an overloaded schedule, too much stress from the challenges of life, a poor diet, the inability to sleep through the night and a merely compulsory reading of the Word. To that they pile on more stress, which leads to impulse eating, more insomnia, uncontrollable drooling, chocolate cravings and a worried mother (well, that last one is just a fact of everyday life, but it becomes more obvious as the insanity pod tightens its invisible tentacles around your nerve endings).

How do insanity pods manifest? The list of symptoms is exhaustive, but, among other things, the pods cause forgetfulness, crankiness, night blindness, a messy house and the Scary Mama Voice when the dogs misbehave (which means when they act like themselves).

Who suffers from insanity pods? As mentioned above, the pods attack the most vulnerable members of society first. The most likely victim is female, age 35-55, premenopausal, works full time, goes to school part time, volunteers at church and takes care of children, an aging parent, a chronically ill spouse or at least two pets – or all of the above. (We should mention that the sufferers include not only the victim, but relatives and members of the victim’s work and social circles.)

What can a loved one of an insanity-pod sufferer do to help? Just stay out of the way, baby.

How does one “stop the insanity”? As with an addiction to alcohol, food, shopping, gambling or Dancing with the Stars, the insanity-pod sufferer, or IPS, must admit her affliction. That is the first and most crucial step. (If the malady is caught early enough, there is no need for a formal 12-step program.) Then she must recite the insanity – er, serenity – prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and sufficient distance from sharp or heavy objects that can be used as weapons.

The next step is to begin removing obstacles to sanity, starting with items (even seemingly important ones) on her social, business and volunteer calendars, even if others don’t understand why this is happening. Would they rather find out about it in the newspaper or on the 10 o’clock news? (“Disgruntled worker takes out 23 colleagues, then turns the staple gun on herself – coming up after the break!”)

Relief can be immediate, much like when an Alka-Seltzer grants the first gut-relieving belch. In fact, when the first one or two items fall off the calendar, the IPS begins feeling lighter and the furrowed brow begins smoothing out. Then recovery can begin in earnest.

Within weeks (or perhaps days, depending the sufferer’s commitment to the program) a balance has been struck – the schedule is more manageable, school is out for the summer, the sufferer’s mother and the dogs are speaking to her again, the husband has stopped sleeping on the sofa. At this point, it is probably safe to approach, but proceed with caution. There could be a relapse. It is best to monitor the IPS from a distance for a few days to be sure equilibrium has, indeed, been restored.

How can you tell when the insanity pod has left for good? As there is no immunization at this time, there is no way to permanently remove the threat of insanity pods. But you can minimize the risk by remaining vigilant. The sufferer should get adequate sleep and exercise, stay hydrated, restrict caffeine, take long baths, play with the dogs, spend time with her husband, immerse herself in a few pieces of quality literature (no, we’re not talking about People magazine), work/play in the garden, write in her blog, eat 1-2 ounces of dark chocolate daily, watch Saturday morning Food Network and/or HGTV, listen to music, visit her mother more often (this should go without saying), pray and read Scripture regularly, and start reading the Sunday funny pages again.

This way, when the fall semester begins and the cycle threatens to repeat itself, the insanity pod will be less likely to try to park its ugly head on top of this particular victim’s. It will simply move on to the next unsuspecting forty-something woman and try to suck out her brain.

Help researchers find a cure for insanity pods! Contribute your suggestions by leaving a comment below. Or just send me a check.

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Biggest loser, or a winning idea?

I had a shock today when I received this group e-mail from my co-worker who is leading our 12-week Biggest Loser competition:

Happy Hump Day! This Friday will be week 9 of our biggest loser. Suzy is in the lead with 4.26% weight loss. Go, Suzy! We still have three weeks to go. Sisters, a lot can be done in three weeks, so don’t give up! I look forward to seeing you Friday morning. Final weigh-in is Friday, May 6.

It was a pleasant surprise to discover that I was in the lead, but it made me sad for all 10 of us. Why? (You probably think it’s because I’m insane.)

It’s because I know how much I have struggled on the roller coaster these past several weeks (years, really, but we’re talking about contest weeks here). And if I – who yo-yoed up and down, up and down for two months – am in the lead, it means everyone else has been struggling to stick with the program, too. On the other hand, there are people who are bigger than I, and because the contest is based on percentage (not pounds) lost, I may be leading only percentagewise and not poundwise. But still.

Our little group of losers has a weekly weigh-in but is not really a support group with meetings or any other type of interaction. I think that is why I have struggled; there is no accountability factor except the scale. I think it’s why others have struggled, too. Friday I ran into another participant when we happened to go downstairs at the same time to weigh in (there is no set time to weigh, as long as it’s on Friday). She admitted struggling, too, and I have to believe she and I are not the only ones.

I didn’t even know who the other participants were until recently. There’s nothing formal about the plan except for the weigh-ins, which are recorded by the leader and not really reported to the group (except for the first week, and today).

Nothing against our leader; she’s doing a great job under our time constraints. We’re all busy, we’re doing this on our employer’s time, and there’s not a lot you can coordinate under those circumstances. It takes up about 5 minutes of my time (going from the third floor to the first, weighing, then turning around and going back upstairs) and maybe a half hour a week for the leader (I’m just guessing). But I, for one, would be willing to stay 30 minutes late for a weekly meeting to interact with the other participants and get support and encouragement. I just know that the personal contact is what works for me.

Left to my own devices, I will go nuts, veer off course and be right back where I started, if not worse off. Now that I have gone public with my struggle, revealed my weight and committed to blogging daily about my journey to fitness (click here to read my “Going public” post), I have the blog (and you, my support panel of readers) to keep me on track, but the rest of the group will have the same routines to go back to after the contest unless something changes.

A few months ago I tentatively suggested we ask our CEO if we could have a Weight Watchers chapter at work after hours. I approached a marketing person because I know her better than I know the HR people and she has been at the bank since the beginning. She told me it was really a human-resources matter and that she would pass along my suggestion. I didn’t follow up because then the Biggest Loser contest was starting.

Emboldened by a recent round-table luncheon hosted by our CEO and COO (it was called a “thank-you lunch,” but our leaders invited feedback and questions), I’m thinking of skipping the Weight Watchers idea sent through channels and going directly to the CEO with an even bigger proposal. I’d like to see some type of initiative in our workplace that challenges employees to give up unhealthy habits. Lots of companies offer incentives to its employees for losing weight, quitting smoking and other positive lifestyle changes. Money motivates people, and even if it doesn’t motivate all of us to make permanent changes, it will do so for some. And if I could see one person quit smoking or lose unhealthy poundage – maybe even head off diabetes or heart disease – it would be worth it to me (and, I hope, to my employer, who is so generously involved in community service it astounds me sometimes).

Once I get up the nerve, I’m going to approach Mr. CEO with a deal: If he’ll put some cash behind the initiative, I’ll do the research and find out what has worked for other companies, coupled with statistics on how these programs improve lives and cut employer costs, then I’ll present the options.

Our company gives a lot of money and effort to this community and, I have to say, to its employees, so I think my idea will be received graciously even if the answer is no.

And if he doesn’t bite, I’ll know I tried and I won’t hold a grudge. And then I’ll bring it up again next year. 🙂

Please post a comment and give me your ideas for a program that could work for my company of 200 employees.



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Salad days

Tonight the women’s running clinic did its monthly Miracle Mile. Most Tuesdays and Thursdays we’re in a scenic neighborhood (or cemetery), and on Saturdays we run at the BHS  track. Once a month, though, we run or walk a timed mile at the Southside High School track.

A month ago, I ran my mile in 11:47. Tonight I shaved 41 seconds off my time – I ran it in 11:06!

Sometimes it’s hard to know whether you’re making progress, but the timed mile puts it in perspective. Bottom line: I am getting better (more fit).

When I got home tonight, I was so hungry and really wanted to go to Sonic for a grilled chicken wrap and a Route 44 iced tea, but Bruce had taken the car to church, so I had to make do with what was in the fridge.

I had just enough spring mix left to make one more salad, so I just dumped everything into the container it came in. I had almost all the ingredients I usually put into my all-time-favorite big salad. Here’s what I use (no amounts listed – I just keep adding until the bowl is loaded with veggies):

Suzy’s Spring Mix Salad

  • Baby spring mix (spinach, arugula, radicchio, romaine lettuce – some mixes include herbs, such as my favorite: cilantro!)
  • Onion, chopped (my favorite is red, but I also like green)
  • Radishes, thinly sliced
  • Tomatoes (chop a big one or use cherry or grape)
  • Celery, chopped
  • Turkey lunch meat (all natural, no preservatives)
  • Slivered almonds (you can substitute chopped walnuts, which are also really good for you)
  • Dried cranberries (I use Ocean Spray Craisins) or dried cherries
  • Shredded cheese (Parmesan is my favorite, and I love to grate it fresh)
  • Low-fat or fat-free balsamic vinaigrette (my fave) or ginger-lime vinaigrette

Tonight I added a boiled egg, but I don’t often have those already prepared, so it was a bonus.

I usually put everything but the cheese and the dressing into the bowl, then chop everything again with my hand-held chopper. (It’s not as messy to eat when the greens are in tiny pieces, and the flavors just seem to blend better.) Then sprinkle on some cheese and drizzle on the dressing.

Delicious! My friend Betsy makes a similar salad, and maybe she’ll share her recipe with us.

This salad is fairly low in fat (depending on how much cheese, turkey and dressing you use) and has a good amount of protein, not to mention all the vitamins and other goodies in the veggies.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Please post a comment sharing your favorite salad or fresh-veggie dish.

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False gods

Friends, tonight I had to fill in for one of the writers of my church’s blog, Connect+Scripture. I have to leave the house before daylight in the morning to go to an out-of-town conference, so I can’t stay up and write a separate post for this space.

Therefore, if you’re staying up late, you get a free preview of the C+S post, which will publish at midnight. I hope it speaks to you and challenges you:

[verse]1 Kings 12-15[/verse] – Commentary by Suzy Oakley

Have you ever looked around your little corner of the world, or watched five minutes of the network news, and said to yourself, “How could it get any worse?” How could this world we live in sink any lower into the depths of depravity, self-centeredness and greed?

I think we’ve been saying that for millennia. Each generation is worse than the last, and we think it can’t possibly get any worse than it is now.

Well, my friend, it can. There may be “nothing new under the sun”  (Ecclesiastes 1:9), but there are variations on a theme.

In the days of the Old Testament kings, the theme was false gods. In fact, throughout the history of God’s chosen people, putting other gods before Him was the theme that echoed through the ages.

Can you hear it?

Israel’s worship of false gods was the root of everything that was wrong with the world. Any time we try to be our own boss, to fill a void in our lives that only God can fill, to think we know best, we are worshiping a false god. We may not have the same exact idols the children of Israel had, but anything we put ahead of our Creator is an idol.

We have traded golden calves for golden arches.

I’m speaking for myself here. My personal god is food. This is true for millions of Americans, whether they are fat, skinny or something in between. Some of us eat too much; some of us eat too little. Either way, food has become a god, a way to comfort ourselves, be “in control” or in some other way make ourselves feel better. Food has become an obsession, a god. And any god with a little “g” is a false god.

If you have visited my personal blog in the past week, you know that I have finally “gone public” about my struggles with weight and food. I wanted to throw light on the issue so that it won’t be an ugly, secret sin any longer. A week ago today, I announced my weight (the exact number on the scale) and a commitment to deal with my false god in public, in an effort to help myself and others deal with our heavy burdens (and by “help myself” I mean only by God’s leading – I have to do my share of the hard work, but He is holding my hand).

Tossing out my “golden calf” (and its stinky, insect-infested brothers and sisters) isn’t going to be easy, and I’ve enlisted help. I have hope and joy and a sense of release for finally letting it all hang out, so to speak. I want to stomp that idol to smithereens. But I can do it only by putting God where that big fat cow has been sitting for so long.

I wish I could say that food is my only false god. I also worship at the altar of busyness, bossiness and caring too much what others think of me. (Don’t worry; I’m stopping here. I won’t throw the whole list at you!)

Perhaps your god is money, laziness, workaholism, worry, gossip, the need to be liked. Anything that keeps you from putting the One True God on His rightful throne at the center of your heart is a god with a little “g.”

Let’s keep God on His throne, where He belongs.

What are some gods you would like to work on obliterating?

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