Elena's Quest

Balancing family, fitness, faith, career and fun!

The Before Picture January 5, 2012

Filed under: General — Elena @ 10:35 pm

Well we have been having some internet problems here so no posts for the last couple of days.  I pretty much work in a fishbowl (aka cube land) so it is hard to try and do it at work – even over lunch hour.

Anyhow, the last couple of days have been busy.  We had senior management in our offices yesterday as one of my partners was celebrating 15 years with our company!  They had a nice cocktail reception for her where everyone said lots of nice stuff.  When senior managers come we wear suits – ick!

Today at work was also hectic.  As I mentioned I am a recruiter and we had a large job fair to attend.  The facility was downtown where our offices are so we walked over.  Believe it or not it was SIXTY DEGREES which is CRAZY in Iowa in January.  It was really nice to get out and meet some new candidates.  I had to wear a suit again.  I really don’t remember the last time I wore a suit twice in one week.  Good thing tomorrow is jeans day since I don’t actually own any more suits!

OK – onto the fun stuff.  As I’ve mentioned I am starting Farrell’s.  Today we had to go get our BEFORE pictures taken.  They basically had advised us to wear as little as possible as anything lose, baggy or long won’t really show what you look like – thus the BEFORE and AFTER will be harder to compare.  I wore tight yoga shorts and a sports bra.  I just couldn’t do a bikini but I figure it was pretty close!  I don’t have the picture but think I will take one myself tomorrow or Saturday (when the program officially starts) so I can post it.  Nothing like putting yourself out there, literally, for accountability!

The lady at Farrell’s said on Saturday we will run a mile, do a sit and reach, see how many sit ups and push ups we can do in a minute and get our starting weight and measurements.  I’ll post all that to make tracking easier.  I think they do a halfway check at 5 weeks (although maybe not the run) and then again at 10 weeks for the AFTER.  Should be interesting and fun.  I am actually really looking forward to getting started!

I think I posted previously that I am most worried about the nutrition piece.  I have been trying to make better choices this week to “get in the groove”.  I’ve made some overnight oats which I found I actually like.  The past two weeks I had pretty much had regular oatmeal every work morning for breakfast.  I was starting to get a little tired of it so decided to switch it up.  I had heard about overnight oats on some other blogs so decided to dig up a recipe.  There are some good ones at Kath Eats Real Food.  I have been doing variations of these and they are YUMMY!

Now to get really honest I am slightly really dreading the no alcohol thing.  I think I mentioned that I LIKE MY WINE!  It is my favorite way to relax at the end of the day – you know wind (wine?) down…… As I understand, there is one “cheat/treat” day allowed per week when a bit of indulgence is OK.  BUT  I am torn about whether or not I am going to take advantage of that.  If I was the kind of person who just wanted one glass of vino and could have it with a cracker and a carrot it would easy.  Unfortunately I am NOT that person and instead want a few glasses of wine and the cheese, crackers and dark chocolate that pair so wonderfully with it!  My guess is this could hinder progress on the diet/exercise front………At this point my plan is to get through week one and see what I think about the “treat” day.  Maybe if I really want it I will go for it – if it seems not that important I will skip it.  Saturdays will be my indulgent days so I guess I just take it one Saturday at a time!



I’m scared…… January 2, 2012

Filed under: General — Elena @ 9:56 pm

As I have been reflecting on what I want for this year I realize I am afraid.  Nervous. Scared. Stressed out.  Why?  I am afraid of failing.  I have always been relatively high strung although I have managed to mellow out quite a bit over the past 10 years or so.  Maybe age and kids help with that!  Anyhow,  I can be a perfectionist and afraid of showing the less than stellar side of me to others.  Today I realized I am afraid of failing at Farrell’s 10 week challenge.  I know I can do the workouts but I am worried about the nutrition side of it.  What if I don’t stick to it?  I am afraid of getting on a road bike again.  Falling hurts and broken bones suck.  Does that make me a big baby? What if I don’t lose this weight I have put on?  I also am planning on doing a marathon this year – what if I can’t do it?  WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK?  Is that what worries me the most?  Or is it really having this extra 10-15 pounds on me that worries me?  Or a combination of both?

On the family front.  I have two daughters – 12 and 14 .  Am I setting a good example?  Am I teaching them the right things?  ARE THEY LISTENING????  What if they are NOT?  What if I fail at THAT?  Scary thought there……..

Career.  I work in a very competitive, high stress job.  Which is 100 % commission.  What if I fail at that?  Um – obvious answer there -no paycheck!  Another scary thought…….

Wow do I know how to find things to worry about!

Of course everyone has stresses, fears, challenges, worries, etc.  Some of us worry more than others and we all handle these feelings differently depending on our coping mechanisms and perspective.

For the last few years I’ve been managing my stress pretty well and I think know that my workouts have been a huge part of that.  Since “the break”  I’ve been more anxious and crabby.  Obviously the lack of activity made it more difficult for me to deal with the stresses of everyday life.  Logically I knew that when I could be active again I would be happier but for some reason that was not a big consolation when I was feeling so down!  Now is the time to get back at it!  Just the last two weeks of  regular activity has helped some and, when some of this weight starts to fall off, I know I will feel more positive and confident which in turn will enable me to deal with things better.

Here’s to stress relief!


Happy New Year’s Eve December 31, 2011

Filed under: General — Elena @ 9:54 am

Yesterday I got a nice surprise – my BFF from Kansas City is coming up today to spend NYE with us – Yippee!  We grew up together in Michigan, were in each other’s weddings and took turns being pregnant (1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999).  This was great for swapping maternity clothes!  Anyhow, two years before I moved to Des Moines she moved to KC.  Now we are less than 3 hours apart so it makes for a fun weekend trip.  Here is a pic of us this summer when she came to visit (during broken leg time – note crutches).  Excuse the devil eyes – phone picture!

In honor of a fun NYE in hubby (Tony) and I went shopping last night for filet and crab.  We also got asparagus and stuff for a salad along with cheese, vodka and champagne.  Should be a good time – I even bought a new Victoria Secret sweat suit with some BLING on it for the occasion!

I didn’t workout yesterday so am dressed and ready to head out for a run now.  It is gorgeous for December 31st – completely sunny and looking at a high of 54 today!  Happy NYE Day:)


I ran today! December 29, 2011

Filed under: General — Elena @ 8:38 pm

Well after a relatively quiet day at work today I went to the gym and RAN!  I have only ran once or twice since “the break”.  I don’t really have pain which is good but I can still feel something a little weird in my leg.  My doctor said there will be a “scar” thing for awhile.  Apparently if they x-ray a year later they can still see where the break was.  Good news is that I can resume my normal activities!  So today that meant 3 1/2 miles on the treadmill:)  After about 1/2 mile of warm up walking I did 5 minutes run / 1 minute walk and did that for 30 minutes.  After that I did a 5 minute cool down and some stretching.  It felt GREAT and now I have 6 days in a row of exercise.  How long is it to establish a habit?  I think it is 21 days so I am about 30% there.

After working out I felt like cooking a healthy meal!  I treated the husband to baked salmon, steamed veggies and couscous.

and we drizzled this AH-MAZING vinegar on everything

While shopping with my older daughter a couple days ago we came across All Spice in the East Village of Des Moines.  It was such a cool little place – fantastic selection of flavorful vinegars and tons of oils and spices as well.  If you are in the area definitely stop in and do some tasting.  You can also find them online (click my link).

My kiddos have been keeping VERY busy this break – I am so happy for them.  In addition, the weather has been incredible!  Today was sunny and 50+ degrees.  This is quite unusual (and appreciated)  for late December in central Iowa!

Since they are busy I am driving a lot more.  I must go pick up daughter #1 and her friends now!


Happy Wednesday! December 28, 2011

Filed under: General — Elena @ 9:40 pm

Happy Wednesday!  Well, I did NOT get in the early morning sweat session today.  When the alarm went off I didn’t even realize what was happening and then quickly set it for 30 minutes later said to myself “oh, I’ll workout after work”.   See why I need the accountability factor to re-establish my early morning routine?  LOL!

While at work today I browsed STUFTmama’s blog and got inspired to try Chia seeds.  I decided to venture out to a health food store over lunch to find some.  My quest (since Whole Foods isn’t open yet) led me to Campbell’s Nutrition in Des Moines.  What a fun experience!  Although I was a little rushed due to time I did buy some sunflower seeds, red lentils, dried apple slices and a Raw Rev 100 mini bar – YUM!  Um, completely forgot the Chia seeds though….looks like another trip is in order!

Anyway, after a CRAZY busy day at work I did come home and do a quick 20 minutes on the bike.  It would have been longer but Hubby wanted to go out for sushi and I had to drop Daughter #1 off at a friend’s house so time was at a premium.  This is why it is SO essential for me to get my workouts done in the mornings – otherwise life gets in the way!  I must say, though, that although I wish I would have gotten up and hit it first thing, overall I am pleased to be semi back on track with 5 DAYS IN A ROW of exercise!  While I may not be losing yet I know I am making healthy steps in the right direction.

Speaking of progress – today I was pretty sensible with my food choices.  Again, although I have not started my program yet I am trying to be more conscious about food and exercise choices.  The day was pretty good with only a couple stray dips in to the cracker box!  Dinner at Aparre  was YUMMY – we got a couple rolls and wine (of course).  Hubby is off all week and so are the kiddos so we are  kind of still in “Holiday Break” mode.  This was NOT a normal Wednesday night dinner!

Tomorrow is another day at work and then maybe some grocery shopping for the weekend.  We will likely stay in for NYE so the hubby and I are trying to decide what to make.  I am thinking seafood but he seems to think if we have SURF we must also have TURF!  The deciding factor may be how hungry we are when we go shopping!


Post Christmas Clean Up December 27, 2011

Filed under: General — Elena @ 8:59 pm

Well – today was “clean up” day!  Time to break down boxes, sort presents and find new places for things.  Very enjoyable work and I was extremely happy I had today off from work (work at the office that is)!  I also got to go redeem my Apple Gift Card for my new iPhone 4S.  Exciting!

In addition to cleaning up the house it is time to clean up some other things.  I have tried to get back on track with fairly healthy eating the last day or two.  Additionally, I had decided that I wanted to exercise each day I was off work  for Xmas (Sat – Tues) and managed to do that – YAY!  I walked/ran Saturday and Sunday (with my daughters – one per day) and did the stationary bike for 45 minutes yesterday and 40 minutes today.  This is kind of a jump start on getting back in to shape – why wait for the New Year?!

In that spirit I also went up to Farrell’s to complete my health forms (I had already registered online).  For those not familiar with Farrell’s it is a 10 week workout/nutrition program – details Farrell’s .  I have several friends who have done this and were happy with the results.  It has been a challenge to get back on a regular regime since the ankle break so I figure this would give me some accountability and hopefully help me shed some of the weight I have put on the last few months (I think about 10 pounds).  The session ends mid March which is about the time I will resume running outside with my friends.  I will post regularly about how things are going with the program.  I am most worried about the nutrition part and this is going to have to be spot on in order to lose this extra poundage!

Well tomorrow is back to work but this week is going to be “work lite” as we will be getting off a bit early each day and dress is casual. The only bummer about this is that all my jeans, save one pair, are too tight right now:(  Let’s see if I can kick off the day with another sweat session before heading out the door!


Welcome November 15, 2011

Filed under: General — Elena @ 12:04 am

Hello!  I am a 40 something married mother of 2 gorgeous girls.  I work full time as a technical recruiter and also enjoy fitness, running, cooking, reading and loads of other things.  Life is crazy busy and it is sometimes difficult to fit in everything that is important to me (can anyone else relate – LOL!) .  I am on a constant QUEST to achieve that elusive balance and hope this blog becomes a forum where I can share ideas,  thoughts, struggles and successes with others and they with me!  I have gained so much by reading others blogs and am anxious to get started on my own.  By no means am I an expert on anything so take everything I write as an opinion and not a “rule” or “expert advice”.

I grew up a competitive swimmer but have always been pretty terrible with any sport that required hitting, catching or throwing anything!  I am better at endurance and much to my dismay, when swimming, the longer the distance was the better I did.  I really wanted to be a sprinter (isn’t a 30 second race MUCH easier to swallow than a 5 minute one) but alas seemed to be limited on short twitch muscle fibers and had to default to long distances.

In my early to mid 20s I got away from exercise and drank and ate too much which, of course, resulted in some extra weight.  I met my husband and when we got engaged after 2 1/2 years I decided to lose some weight before the wedding.  At the time I think I weighed around 145 and I am 5’8″ so I wasn’t too big but definitely wanted to slim down for the wedding.  Through portion control and exercise I got down to about 125 I think.  This was a little thin but I think the last few pounds came off due to the stress of the wedding.  Once we were married I maintained a weight of 127-132 for several years.  I had two beautiful girls  and gained 33 lbs. with each pregnancy.  The weight came off pretty easily both times although I definitely could tell my body had “changed” a bit.

My husband traveled extensively (actually lived in another state M-F) beginning when my youngest was about 6 months old.  This continued for about 2 years and was extremely stressful as you can imagine.  My husband surprised me with a gym membership to a facility that provided free child care as a way to relive my stress.  This was a LIFESAVER!!!  We joined Lifetime Fitness in Novi, MIchigan and it was a fantastic decision.  Working out was a way to relive stress as well as get some much needed alone time – I was hooked!

I have been fairly active the last 11 years or so (sometimes more active than others).  I have done a figure competition, a 1/2 marathon, a 20K, a duathalon, a triathlon as well as some other events.  It has been a blast!  I LOVE having races or events to prepare for – it gets me out of bed on the challenging days!  I have mostly been loner with training but last year took up running in the mornings before work with a couple of co-workers.  This was a lot of fun and something I hope to resume in March of 2012.  I live in Iowa and will NOT run in the ice and snow although the cold (within reason) doesn’t bother me!

Food has always been more of a challenge for me.  First, I am an emotional eater (happy – eat, sad – eat, depressed – eat, celebrating -eat, bored – eat …..get the picture?)  Secondly I am addicted to Food Network and love trying new things!  Third, I like my wine.  Problem with this is that wine = 7 calories per gram, has no nutrients and goes well with CHEESE!  Of course, it lowers inhibitions so makes me care less about what I eat when consuming it.  I go in spurts on keeping it healthy but have always been active enough so that even if I was indulging I wasn’t gaining TOO much!

Well – that changed.  Two days after my triathlon in June 2011 I was on a morning training ride and took a fall – hello broken leg and good bye active lifestyle – at least for awhile:(  At first I was very conscious about what I was eating since I didn’t want to consume a lot being that I wasn’t moving much.  Additionally, it was just too much of a hassle to crutch around and get a snack not to mention difficult to bring it back to the couch with me!  Once I was able to be in the walking boot I could easily get snacks but still really couldn’t work out.  I also think I was feeling sorry for myself and thus “comforting” myself with food.  Net result – about 10 pounds up on the scale.  That doesn’t sound like a lot but there has been muscle loss meaning I am now a little “soft”.  A lot of my clothes are tight and I do NOT want to buy new things.  I need to take control and get back on track with exercise.  Additionally, I’d like to develop a healthy relationship with food (oh, and wine).

Short term plan – I am starting Farrell’s January 7, 2012.  This is a 10 week exercise and nutrition program.  I will be working on 6 days per week with it alternating between cardio and strength.  In addition, they have a nutrition component which will be AWESOME!

Farrell’s ends mid March.  At this point I will start running with my pals again and prepare for MY FIRST MARATHON which will be October 2012.  In addition to completing Farrells and running the marathon I will do some shorter races throughout 2012.  I have a couple of other ideas I am toying with and will post about them as I decide which direction I want to go.  (thoughts include golf lessons and/or horse back riding lessons as we just bought a horse for my daughter).

I look forward to sharing my journey and hearing about yours through comments and notes.  In addition  I think the blogging community is amazing and am excited to be part of it!