>What is your “Wool-eee”?

>As I have blogged in a previous entry I recently read the book, “Keeping the Feast”, by Paula Butturini and was fortunate to enjoy lunch with her yesterday and hear her speak last night. The heart of her book is about how a family heals and deals with mental illness, specifically depression. It is an extremely touching and moving book and I commend Paula for talking so honestly about her husband’s depression and helping to lift the stigma of mental illness in society. That is the deep and tough aspects of the book…but there is another cool aspect of this book, as well. Woven throughout the book are these wonderful memories of Paula’s childhood meals and family traditions growing up in a big Italian family. She included the food stories to give herself and the reader a break from the grim reality of the very challenging times of her life surrounding mental illness.

In particular she describes in detail the voglie, “VOHL-yay” or as Americans would pronounced it “Wool-EEE” that can be described as cravings that her family experienced. While this Italian word can mean anything from wishes, wants and desires to longings, fancies or whims, for Paula this word only meant one thing – deep, impulsive hungers for some seasonal feast. She talks about how everyone has their own person wool-ees and throughout the book she describes various ones she has depending on the season. From asparagus to figs, from spaghetti with clams to the multitude of fresh fruit and vegetables she found at the market in Rome where she lived, she described these cravings for fresh, wholesome non-processed food in her life.

I loved all of this stuff about food and began to think about my own wool-ees. In the past, before I joined Weight Watchers I can definitely say I often had cravings for things with sugar in them…cookies, candy, bakery items, etc. However, through my Weight Watcher’s journey I’ve noticed something remarkable. I don’t have cravings for sweet stuff anymore really. I actually do get these wool-ees for fresh fruits and vegetables. And like Paula, they are seasonal! Some of you who have read my facebook status updates regularly can probably attest to this as I’ve raved about things like spaghetti squash, and butternut squash soup recently. During the summer I was more into berries and peaches.

I actually think I would make a distinction between a craving and a wool-eee. For me a craving is more something that is brain or heart hunger while a wool-eee is more for physical hunger. In other words, if I crave something like a chocolate chip cookie I probably am hungry in my head or heart – it is probably a cognitive or emotional need or craving. But a wool-eee is more of a craving that results from actual physical hunger…for good and nutritious food that the body needs. It is amazing what a wonderful “machine” the body really is. I believe that we are hard-wired with these needs in place to encourage us to eat food that we need to live, work and love healthily and productively. We just need to be able to listen more.

>Butternut Squash Soup

>This is so good I just have to post it. I found this recipe in the paper today (parade section) and had to try it…so glad I did! It is pretty easy – it is just a pain to peel and cut the squash!!

Simplest Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs) – I used two of them
3 slender leeks, white parts only, split lengthwise, washed and cut into 1-inch long pieces
3 cups whole milk
3 cups water
Salt and pepper
Nutmeg to taste

1. Peel the squash. Remove the seeds and string, then cut into 1-2 inch chunks. Toss into a large soup pot. Add the leeks, milk and water; salt generously and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the squash is soft enough to mash when pressed lightly with the back of a spoon.

2. Using a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until it is very smooth. It may be thick. Think to your desired constistency with milk or water. Season to taste with salt pepper, and nutmeg. Reheat if necessary. (This soup is at its best when truly hot).

3. Garnish with chopped roasted hazelnuts or walnuts and top with creme fraiche or cream.

Serves 6. Per serving (without garnish): 180 calories, 32 carbs, 6 g protein, 10 mg cholestorol, 7 g fiber, and 4.5 g fat.

When I made it the servings turned out to be a little more than 1 1/2 cups per servings for 6 servings and 3 points a serving. Yum!

>Oh, Those Damn Hills!!

I ran the Project Homeless 5K today and I felt really good about it. It was a really pretty morning and the course was right along the river along the boardwalk. The course was very hilly, but I pushed myself to keep going and I didn’t stop to walk at all. That is the good news. At first I was disappointed to see my time of 30:54.64, especially since the last time I ran a 5K last month I had finally broke 30 minutes. But I was talking to some other runners afterwards and they were all commenting on what a tough course it was. Yes, yes it was! So, I was okay with my time. I felt even better when I looked at the results posted on the website this afternoon. One huge advantage of a chip timed race is almost immediate results!!

Here are my stats from today:
I placed 165 out of 282 people (in the bottom half).
I placed 89 out of the 185 women who competed (in the top half – yahoo!)
I placed 10 out of 19 of the women in my age-group (40-45) – dead in middle.

So overall, a good race!!! Save for the pain I now have in my right heel. I can visually see some swelling along the back of my heel – is that the Achilles tendon?? Not sure what I did. My shoes were new earlier this month so it is not that I need new ones. I haven’t been pushing it that hard lately. The only thing I can think is that I’ve been running too many hills or something. Ugh. Those damn hills!! So, I plan to take some aspirin soon and take it easy. There might be more cross training and perhaps a trip to the doctor in my future…we shall see.

>What the Hail?!

>So, there is first time for everything! During my lunch run today I thought I might get rained on. The sky looked a little threatening and within about 5 minutes I felt some really cold rain drops starting to fall. Soon I began to hear and feel the rain, no scratch that…hail falling on me! It only lasted for a few minutes, but it was enough to see it on the ground – about pencil eraser size. After a few minutes it changed to an uneventful spitty rain and I was very glad I had my rain jacket on. So mark it down, hail on Oct 21. It was an awesome run, however. It was one of those runs that reminds me why I run to begin with…great feeling of being alive and strong. Until of course I hacked for like 30 minutes afterwards! But again, so worth it!

>The Key

>So, after a weeks’ hiatus I ran today at lunch. Yahoo!!!! There is hope for me yet! I was sick with this crud for the last week, was not sleeping from this idiot cough and just couldn’t make myself do it. However, victory was mine today. Oh, in related news…Lance Armstrong congratulated me for running 250 miles. How ’bout that.

Someone should do a study (well, they probably have) about the correlation between regular exercise and productivity and then regular exercise and eating well. These things are definitely related for me. During the week I wasn’t running, I felt less productive at work and home (well, I was also sick, but still…) and I ate shitty. Not as bad as before WW, but shitty for me.

So, in case you didn’t know – regular exercise is the key to keeping so many other things in life in balance. Now to remember that again tomorrow!!!! Ha, ha!

>I Need a Coach!

>So, I’ve determined I need my own personal coach. I don’t mean “life coach”, whatever that is. I mean a running coach. I don’t really need someone to run with me, but I need someone to help me set new goals and help keep me motivated. I’ve not been feeling well this weekend so I haven’t been running. As a matter of fact I have not run since Wednesday – ugh. As an attempt to act as my own coach, I did sign up for a 5K for next Saturday – if nothing else just to make sure I run this week! My weekly goal for the longest time has been to run 4 times a week, but truth be told, I’ve been lucky to get 2 in a week the last couple of weeks – either due to being busy, weather changes, or being sick. Part of it is also due to not having a goal to strive for. Maybe it is that 5K’s are just not doing it for me anymore. But, do I start training for a 10K? Do I start training for a half marathon? I’m just not sure. And at this time of year, what is realistic? How can I get my butt in gear to run in the mornings? You see, this is why I need a coach. Or maybe just a subscription to a runner’s magazine.

>The “Sick” Run

>So today at lunch I ran not feeling totally myself. I’m not sick exactly, but I just have an annoying cough. The run was good for the most part – I didn’t even really cough that much. But right after I felt such pressure in my chest…that was the first time I’d ever felt that…ugh. Thankfully, it went away by the time I was done in the shower.

Oh, on another totally unrelated note…are there such things as dog walkers…in Cleveland suburbs? I mean, I saw a woman on my run today walking like 5 dogs today. I didn’t know there was such a thing as dog walkers anywhere besides big cities. Or maybe she just has a lot of dogs. It is hard to say. Things that make you go, hmmm, for sure…

>A Picture Paints a Thousand Words


Okay, so I had a great, great time at the women’s retreat this weekend at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Camp. I always love the pics that my friend Cynthia takes. This year she started our own women’s facebook page which is fabulous! I was looking around at the new page and stumbled onto the pics from past retreats. I came across the one’s from 2007 and I nearly screamed when I saw this…(pics above)

and this…

Just so we are all on the same page here…here is this year’s pic…

All I can say to this is…THANK YOU WEIGHT WATCHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

>Back on the Road Again

>So I did not need to pay at WW yesterday, finally!!! After last week being up AGAIN at the scale and paying my $11.00, I had determined to get back on track. It is not that I was way off track, but just getting a little sloppy with tracking and mostly thinking about maintaining rather than losing. So much of this is a battle of the mind, for sure. SO, this past week I went back to the “losing mode” and went back down to 18 points and what do you know?! Back to where I need to be on the scale. This is why I keep going to meetings…this maintaining thing is difficult – definitely more challenging than the actual losing part. I think this is how people put weight back on…they become lax and let 1 or 2 pounds come back on and not keep it in check. Before you know it, it has turned into 10 or 15 and so on. I think that is why WW has the +2 rule because who really maintains the EXACT amount week after week of their entire life. No one. That is just crazy talk. Our bodies are living, breathing, changing things that are impacted by hormones, time of year, stress, etc.

Yes, weight watching is a continuum and the journey never ends. Right now I’m on “Keeping it in Check Road”. Where are you on yours?

>Wardrobe “Malfunctions”??

>So I broke in my new shoes today during my lunch run. They were awesome and my legs felt instantly better in them. Of course they “ran fast” too and I got a time of 29:05 with my 3.1 miles today! Best yet – not sure how that happened. Perhaps it was the brisk weather, not having run since Saturday, or just Lady Gaga – who knows.

Thinking about my awesome new shoes, made me think about not so awesome things dealing with my running wardrobe choices. I have noticed some runners’ wardrobe malfunctions or maybe just idiosyncrasies lately that I thought I’d comment on. With the cooler weather upon us, I’ve had to deviate from my typical running shorts and t-shirt ensemble that has taken me through basically all of late spring and all of summer (ahhh…those were the days). For example, today I had on the basic black ensemble. I had black running tights/leggings and a long-sleeved black shirt. Yes, I looked like I was either going to rob a bank or go running or run after I robbed a bank maybe. Anyway, the weather is at an odd point right now. Now, don’t get me wrong – I love any weather that doesn’t involve any white stuff, icey stuff or precipitation of any kind. Except, of course for that gentle, warm and refreshing rain that we have discussed before. But the weather right now is pretty cool when I start out, but once I’m half into the run I’m ready to strip clothing off cause I’m so hot. Today, I was hot and found myself rolling up my shirt at the wrists just to get my pulse points free of clothing. I guess the layering option would be a good solution so I could strip in mid run…or perhaps there is an intermediate step between the t-shirt and the long-sleeved, sweat-your-ass-off winter shirt?? Dare I say, another trip to Dick’s!

Then, there is the whole issue of the pockets. This could be a whole blog entry on its own, but I’m already writing so what the heck. Some running clothes have pockets and some don’t. Some pockets are worthwhile for a phone or an iPod (yes, I’m talking to mine again…for now) and some just are not. Today, for example I had to run holding the iPod because it fell out of the “pocket” in the sweat-your-ass-off pants I was wearing about 2.5 seconds into the run. Hey, at least it worked and I didn’t have an iPod malfunction today.

I’m just glad no one reported to university police that they saw a woman catburgler running away from the university carrying someone’s iPod at around 12:15pm today. Hmmm…maybe it will be in the campus newspaper that comes out tomorrow. Stay tuned…