Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Detox Day

I had a not-so-stellar weekend in the food department. There was a cookout with friends Friday night, a wedding reception on Saturday evening and the doughnut box at church Sunday morning.

foods I don’t normally eat + a couple too many beers + not enough fruits & veggies = an icky tummy

Monday morning I was still feeling a little sluggish, mentally and physically. I was a little disgusted with myself for falling off the wagon. Why did I eat what I did? I’m all for indulging on occasion so I don’t feel deprived, but some of the things I ate didn’t even taste good while I was eating it. The more I Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda’d on myself, the worse I felt and the harder it was to get my mind around a way to get back on track.

A trip to the gym for strength training was on my agenda, but I struggled to find any motivation. I drug my feet, stalled and tried to think of a good excuse. I couldn’t come up with one. The words of a friend kept running through my brain:

No one has ever regretted working out.

Those words have saved me many times and this was one of those days. I got dressed, put Peanut in the stroller and we headed out.  The fresh air started to rejuvenate me a little bit and the 1-mile walk to the gym got my head in the right place. I still felt pretty ‘blah’ during my first set of deadlifts, but once the endorphins kicked in, I was unstoppable! I increased my weights on almost every exercise and really kicked it into high gear on my treadmill intervals afterward. My friend was right (again). I definitely didn’t regret my workout. It was the perfect way to get back-on-track for the week. I could practically feel my bad weekend choices being sweated out. 🙂

The sun was shining when we left the gym and headed for home. I really wanted to take Peanut for a longer stroll, but I had agreed to watch a friend’s daughter for the afternoon and didn’t have enough time.

For lunch, I made a batch of Kath‘s Chickpea Parmesan aka Chickpea Pizza Scramble. It was so quick and easy to make. And it really does taste like pizza. So yummy! I subbed leftover zucchini for the eggplant and parmesan cheese for the mozzarella. We only had cheddar in the fridge and that just didn’t sound appealing. The recipe says it makes 2-3 servings, but I divided mine into 4 (to get more meals out of it) and served it with a little whole wheat couscous.

When I spotted the recipe, I tweeted @KathEats to see if it would reheat well. She tweeted back that it probably would, just to leave the cheese off and add before serving.  I portioned out the leftovers and, Voila! Quick, healthy grab-and-go lunches. (Note: I had another portion yesterday for lunch and Kath was absolutely right. It reheats extremely well.) It’s amazing how eating something really healthy can make you actually crave more healthy food. 

My afternoon was spent playing outside with two very energetic one-year-olds. It felt like a bonus workout. 🙂 Once Peanut’s play buddy left, it was time to start dinner, Pork Lo Mein.

I found the recipe in my Weight Watchers Ready, Set, Go! cookbook. One thing I really love about the new PointsPlus program is that it “rewards” you for eating more whole foods rather than processed junk. Most of the recipes in the new materials reflect this so I feel like I’m making something healthy rather than something that’s just low in calories. (Disclaimer: I do work for Weight Watchers so I’m a little biased.)

This one was a hit in our house! My husband really doesn’t care for soy sauce so it’s hard for me to find any Asian foods that he’ll like. This one definitely made the cut. He ate two portions, Peanut plowed through some “noo noos” (noodles) and I enjoyed mine, too. A side salad was the perfect accompaniment. I’ll be making it again for sure. and I both enjoyed it and Peanut was loving the noodles. I’ll definitely be making it again!

I got a serious sweet tooth right before bed, but I grabbed a handful of blackberries instead of chocolate. I wasn’t confident that it would kick the craving, but it does. I went to sleep feeling much better, inside and out.

FitBlog Chats

PLANKS Challenge Week 1 Recap

For my first week of the PLANK challenge, I tackled plank on my forearms. My goal was to do this 4x per week and I did it!

Here’s what I accomplished:

Day 1: 1 minute, 2 sets
Day 2: 75 seconds, 2 sets
Day 3: 93 seconds, 2 sets
Day 4: 2 minutes, 2 sets

Horay! The 2 minutes was tough, but I was proud of myself for holding on and getting there. This week I’m moving on to high plank. I’ll report back next Wednesday with my results.


Read Full Post »

Saturday morning I ran a 5k in my fastest time EVER! I beat my previous record by one second, but it’s a PR nonetheless and I’ll take it.

Due to severe flooding in our area, the course was switched up a bit. I was a little bummed when I first found out. It was on the same bike path, just a different section. The original course was on the really flat part of the path that I’ve run a million times. The new route had us going downhill on the way out and uphill at a slight grade on the way back. Not a huge deal, but I don’t like change and it just made me a little nervous. The race ended up being a really small field of about 20 people, mostly men. My insecurities crept up and I found myself just praying that I wouldn’t be last. I know that’s not what it’s about, but it’s still a huge hangup for me.

I started out a little too fast and quickly felt it in my breathing. I reined it in a little and settled into a pace that felt comfortable. I made myself find that point before I looked down at my Garmin. I was really glad when I found that my “happy pace” was still faster than what I normally run. I struggle with keeping a steady pace, but managed to stay pretty consistent for the first two miles, running splits of 9:33 and 9:58 respectively.

That’s when the hill kicked in. It’s more of a grade than a visible “Oh, here comes the hill.” I could still feel it, mostly in my calves where I was already a little sore from my New Rules of Lifting for Women workout on Friday. At one point they started to cramp a bit so I decided to walk a little. That hurt even worse so I picked back up to a jog and rode it out to the finish, obviously at a slower pace. The last 1/4 mile was by far the hardest. My body was done, but I was so close to a PR and I wanted it BAD! My legs felt like Jell-o, but I gunned it and gave it everything I had. I stopped the time on my watch as I hit the line and was a little scared to look down. When I did and saw that 30:59 I smiled and did a little internal happy dance.

A good friend from church is a pretty serious (and very fast) runner and had come out to do the race “just for fun.” He was cheering me on at the finish line which was pretty cool. Once I got some water, he asked me how my run had been. I was a little embarassed to admit that 30:59 was a PR for me. I mean, this is Mr. I-just-won-this-5k-and-I’ve-run-the-Boston-Marathon-twice. Instead of laughing, he was extremely supportive and almost as excited as I was about my accomplishment. While we waited for the awards ceremony, we had a great discussion about running being a personal sport. One person’s goal might be to run a 4 minute mile pace while another person’s can be just to complete a 5k. Both goals are equally as exciting to achieve for the invidivual that set them.

That talk really made me feel so positive about my running. I want to get my 5k under 30 minutes so badly. Some days it seems unachievable and other days it feels just plain silly that I’m actually shooting for a time most “real” runners would consider to be super slow. Having this discussion with someone I respect as a runner made me remember that I run, therefore I’m a real runner. I accomplish something amazing every time I get out there and put one foot in front of the other. My goals are my own. They don’t have anything to do with what anyone else is doing. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quote:

The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

(Baz Luhrman, Wear Sunscreen)

In this case, the race really was with myself. I was the only female in the 20-29 year old division so I got a gold medal!

I’ve received participation medals before, but never as an award based on where I finished. It was pretty cool. I was the 2nd female to finish, but the overall places weren’t divided out by male/female so the boys swept those. The race organizers felt bad when they realized their mistake and said they’d mail them to the top 3 ladies, but we all said it was okay.

There was another first at this race, but it was bittersweet. Remember my not-so-supportive support person? I finished ahead of her and she was not happy. Not even one little bit. This has only happened one other time when she had to pee really, really bad and couldn’t put in any real effort. It didn’t seem to phase her then, but this time she was visibly upset. I congratulated her as she crossed the finish line, but she just rolled her eyes and went and stood off to the side by herself. I let her have her space. At first I felt a little guilty for having passed her, but then I realized how silly that was. My race had absolutely nothing to do with her.  By the time we got in our cars she was speaking to me again although it was still obviously bothering her. I refused to let her mood rain on my parade. I just remembered my quote and smiled all the way home.


Read Full Post »

Peanut and I had a pretty full day of errands yesterday. When we got home, I discovered the water in our town had been shut off for maintenance. Nice of them to let us know ahead of time, right? The radio said it could be anywhere from one hour to a day. Outstanding. 

I made a quick trip to the small grocery store to buy jugs of water. Apparently everyone had already been there because they were sold out. Lucikly we had a few bottles of water in our camper so I brought that in and decided we’d try to get by with that until it came back. The only other option was to drive 30 minutes back to the next closest store and, with gas at nearly $4/gallon, I wanted to avoid that if at all possible.

I was relieved when I realized that the dish I’d planned for supper required no water. It was a cinch to mix up and pop in the oven. Shortly before it was ready, I got started on making the rice.

Rice requires water.


I really didn’t want to use any of the bottled water because I knew we’d want it for drinking and teeth brushing if the water stayed out all evening. That’s when I remembered that we had these:

I don’t normally buy a lot of convenience foods like this because a) they’re almost always higher in sodium and b) rice really isn’t that hard or time-consuming to make so I hate paying extra for them. The only reason I’d picked them up was because they were on sale and I had a coupon, actually making them less expensive than the equivalent quantity of regular brown rice.

A quick 1 minute zap in the microwave and they were ready. I could definitely taste the added salt, but overall it was still pretty good. It made a good accompaniment for our main course, Poppy Seed Chicken.

I found several versions of this recipe online and morphed them all together to create my own.

Poppy Seed Chicken

makes 6 servings

1 1/2 cups cooked, cubed chicken (I used boneless, skinless breasts)
1 can reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
3 teaspoons poppy seeds, divided
3 tablespoons reduced-calorie butter, melted (I used Country Crock Light)
25 reduced-fat butter crackers, such as Ritz
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with non-stick spray.

2. Melt the butter in the microwave. Crush 20 of the crackers and mix into the melted butter. Set aside.

3. Stir together the chicken, soup, sour cream and 1 teaspoon of the poppy seeds. Crush the remaining 5 crackers and stir them in. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.

4. Spread the cracker/butter topping evenly across the top of the chicken mixture.

5. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds and the cheese.

6. Bake 20-25 minutes, until bubbly and heated through.

This was a HUGE hit in our house! My husband isn’t a huge fan of casseroles, but he raved about it and went back for seconds. He liked that it was creamy without being too heavy. Peanut ate a large spoonful and then asked for more. It was great comfort food on a cold, rainy day.

The water did finally come back on around 8pm, but we were under a boil advisory so we made do with our rations of bottled water through the night and into this morning. I didn’t realize how much I rely on water until I didn’t have any

* * * * *

In other news, I’m taking part in the FitBlog Chats PLANKS Challenge!

FitBlog Chats

I’ve been doing plank as part of my New Rules of Lifting for Women Stage 2 workouts so I have a benchmark. Right now, I’m at 2 sets of 60 seconds on my elbows. This is what I did yesterday for Day 1 of the challenge.

Rather than increasing my time, I’m going to aim to try out new plank variations, like some of those Susan posted on Morgan’s blog today. I’m going to do a different variation each week. The first day of that week will be a benchmark. Then, I’ll add time during each effort at that variation. Here are the variations I want to try:

  • Week 1: Plank on Elbows
  • Week 2: High Plank
  • Week 3: Plank with Alternating Leg Lift
  • Week 4: Plank, Elbows on Ball
  • Week 5: Plank, Feet on Ball, Elbows on Floor
  • Week 6: Plank, Feet on Bench, Elbows on Stability Ball

I do realize that some of these are pretty dag on tough and my time at the end of each week may not be very long. Still, it’s all about improving so as long as I can go longer than I did on the first day, I’ll call it a success.

I’m really excited to follow along with everyone’s progress and to post my own as I go.

Let’s get plankin’!

Read Full Post »

 Last April, I ran my first post-baby 5k. My goal was 36 minutes and I finished in 36:24. I was a little disappointed, but still very proud to be back in the running saddle. It also gave me a benchmark, a time from which to improve.

This year I was giddy when registration opened for the 2011 installment of this race and mailed my form back the day I got it.  I didn’t get to prepare quite as much as I’d hoped. It was either too cold, too rainy or both to take the stroller out and it’s hard to get a real workout in on the treadmill when you’re also trying to chase a toddler around the gym. 🙂 Still, I was excited to run the same course and see what my time was compared to the previous year.

Our weight-loss group at church decided to do it as a group, most people walking while my sister-in-law and I ran the course. It was so much fun to have an active social event! Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and felt a certain sense of accomplishment in completing the 5k. For most of them, it was their first.

Since it was an out-and-back course, one of the other ladies in our group had the chance to snap photos as we passed the on the way back. That’s me, sporting my new running skirt and shoes for their 5k debut. Loving them

I finished in 33:40. My goal was to best my post-baby PR of 33:06, set at the Turkey Trot I ran back in November. Just missed it! Honestly, I know exactly why.  There were a few times I know I could have pushed harder, but didn’t. At the turn-around, I slowed to a walk to fix my hair that was driving me nuts. I dilly-dallied, took my time and didn’t get back to running as quickly as I should have. I also let my Garmin control me a little too much. When I looked down and saw a time that was faster than I usually run, I’d tell myself “there’s no way I can maintain this” and slow down a little, even if I was feeling good at that pace. I need to learn to use it as a tool rather than to get preoccupied with the display and psyche myself out.

While I was a bit disappointed, knowing I didn’t push myself the way I should have makes me even more motivated for future races. That’s a good thing because this week I signed up for 3 more races on May 14th, 21st and June 18th. Bring ’em on!

Read Full Post »

I had a really bad experience with my running shoe fitting last year. My husband surprised me by taking me to a new-to-me running store while we were away for our anniversary. The store was crazy busy and there were several people being fitted. The store manager (owner, maybe?) did my fitting, but it was clear that he wasn’t thrilled about pitching in to help. Long story short, a rushed fitting + poor customer service = shoes that were too small. When I attempted to exchange the shoes, they insisted that they were the correct size and, because I’d run outside in them twice, wouldn’t accept the return or exchange. I kept running in them because I thought maybe I was the one who was wrong. These are, after all, trained professionals. 4 black, broken toenails later, I shoved them in my closet and switched back to my old, broken down running shoes. Ideal? No. Truth is, I’d just made the transition to being a stay-at-home mom and there wasn’t money in the budget for another pair at that time.

This year, I returned to the fabulous store where I had my very first running shoe fitting: Up and Running in Dayton. Back then, I was one week into the Couch to 5k training plan. Every runner I knew told me that if I was going to commit to this, I really needed to invest some good shoes. I was so nervous when I walked into that store, clearly having no clue what I wanted or needed and afraid I was going to look like an idiot. My fears were quickly put at ease. When the Up and Running staff found out I was brand new to running, they fawned over me and were genuinely excited to help. They were patient and stuck with me as I tried on shoe after shoe, running up and down the sidewalk in each until we found my perfect match.

Going back to Up and Running on Saturday was just as much fun as my first trip. The entire staff was friendly and the store atmosphere was super laid back. They looked me up in the computer to get the details of the shoes I’d purchased there before. They laughed when I hurridly confessed that I’d purchased shoes elsewhere in the meantime, then apologized and told them that I would never stray again. I explained about the bad fitting the previous year and the salesman agreed to do another fitting, just to ease my mind about what size I really needed. I knew the very first pair I tried on was the one I’d be buying. It fit like a glove. I ran up and down the sidewalk outside before confirming my purchase. Turns out, I’d picked the newer model of my very first running shoes, the Saucony Omni.

Pretty, but still tough looking. And soooo comfortable. They feel like they were designed just for my feet. I love them…all over again!

After my fitting, my sister-in-law and I browsed the awesome apparel selection a bit. We drooled over lots of things we wanted, but couldn’t afford, before finally discovering the 40% off sale rack.

I’ve been anti-running skirt for a long time because I thought they were silly. As I browsed the rack I saw a running skirt with built in pants and one with built in capris. “That’s even sillier,” I thought to myself. “Just wear pants or capris. No need to put a skirt over them.” I would never wear a running skirt. Famous last words.

As I was browsing another rack, my sister-in-law held up the ridiculous skirt/pant combo and said “This is cute, but they don’t have it in my size. I think this would fit you, though. Try it on.”

After a bit of back and forth battling (“No that’s stupid.”/”Just try it on.”/”I’ll look like an idiot.”/”Just try it on.”), I finally stepped inside the dressing room and tried on the offending garment while my sister-in-law waited outside the door.

It was the most comfortable pieces of workout gear I’ve ever put on in my life. And very, very flattering. It made my legs look really long and, when you’re 5’2″, you take all the help you can get. After a bit of time justifying the price to myself (still $54 after the discount) I decided to go ahead and buy it. I shook my head as they put it in the bag. A running skirt was the last thing I expected to leave with that day. Or ever. Never say never, right?

(In case you’re wondering, the brand/style I bought is the SkirtSports / Tough Girl Skirt.)

Update on my cousin: Thank you all so much for your prayers, thoughts and kind words! She had surgery to remove the brain tumor on Thursday. It was very sucessful and there were no complications. She’s up, moving around at regular intervals. Most importantly, her spirits are sky high! She and her parents have meetings scheduled this week with the radiology team to discuss a course of treatment. If all goes as planned, she could be home this weekend. She insists that she will do whatever it takes to fight like heck and beat this. Take that, cancer!
What’s your most-loved piece of workout apparel?

Read Full Post »

*cue the Hallelujah Chorus*

I have fallen in love with strength training. Yes, that does warrant the post title. It’s a near miracle.

I’ve been dabbling with weights for most of the winter. The colder months are my husband’s slower time at work which means we’re able to go to the gym together more often. He’d printed off a few workouts to take try. I was beyond bored with bouncing back and forth between my treadmill and elliptical workouts so I agreed to give his workouts a try. He encouraged me to use something heavier than the 5lb. weights I tended to pick up whenever I did something non-cardio. I was surprised by how quickly I started to notice results, not only in the way I looked, but also in how I felt. I was also surprised by how much more I enjoyed strength training when it was challenging!

Then came this book:

I was hooked from the very first page and read it cover to cover in about 2 days. The author is funny, but it’s clear that he’s very serious and passionate about what he’s saying. A lot of the information goes completely against the things women are either taught or assume about lifting. At first, I was afraid this guy was going to end up being a complete nut job and I would regret reading the book. However, the more I read the more his research, logic and phlosophies seemed to be in line with my goals. The information was enlightening and very, very empowering.
I’m only 3 workouts in to the workout plan so I can’t speak to the whole, but so far I’m LOVING it. The instructions for each exercise are well-written and easy to follow. The workouts I’ve done so far have been challenging without being overwhelming. I feel like I’m making the most of my time in the gym without having to spend hours and hours there. And, when I leave, I feel pretty darn tough. 😉

I will admit, I was a bit skeptical about the protein shake thing. The author suggests that you MUST drink one after every workout for various reasons. He then names his favorite brands…and discloses that he and some of his co-authors write articles for these brands’ websites. My knee-jerk reaction was to discount the information as marketing hype that would result in the authors’ financial gain. However, after my first three workouts, my body had begun to form a different opinion. I’m going to start trying post-workout shakes this week and I’ll share my thoughts later.

I know this book has been controversial and that there will be loads of people out there who disagree with the author and with my love for the reading material. For me, it’s been a fantastic resource and I’m looking forward to continuing with the workout plan. Strength training can be daunting. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about it and/or anyone who says: “I’m interested. Now what?”

In case you didn’t know, I have a mild obsession with flash mobs. Being part of one is tops on my bucket list. I found this one when I googled the spelling for “hallelujah” (don’t hate) and had to share because it’s particularly awesome.

Have you read NROL4W? What are your thoughts?

Read Full Post »

Last weekend, I did my very first trail run, the Muddy Leprechaun 4-miler. It. was. AWESOME! I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. It was a touch on the cold side and a bit windy, but I’ll take that over rain or heat any day.

The day was special for another reason. It was my husband’s first race! He’s not a runner and didn’t do any training beforehand to train, but I told him I’d go at his pace and I was fine with walking, as long as we were doing it together. We jogged a little at the beginning, but then mostly walked the rest of the first 2-mile loop. It was so nice to get outside and be active, all with the one I love!

At the checkpoint, W peeled off and I was on my own. A lot of the walkers were only doing one lap so I was a ways back from the last of the runners. The devil on my shoulder was saying “Just stop now. You’re going to be last and you don’t want to make everyone wait for you.” Thankfully, the angel on my other shoulder must be a runner because she was screaming “C’mon! You know you want to really run that trail!”

So I did.

1/4 of a mile or so was on the bike path, into the wind. The turnoff to the actual trail was at the treeline waaaay off in the distance. See it? Kind of? It felt like it took an eternity to get there.

A right turn, a gravel path that ran along the tree line and then into the woods!


I thought it would get harder once I was on the dirt, but it actually felt a lot easier. I’m pretty sure that had a lot to do with being protected from the wind. I did have to watch my footing. There were lots and lots of tree roots and some spots were really muddy.

I loved the sound my feet made when I was running across the bridges.

Coming out of the woods, the trail went back to a mix of sand and gravel. Sort of. With all the rain we’d had the week prior to the race, it felt more like wet cement. Still, the sky was beautiful and the natural surroundings were pretty amazing.

After the stretch in the last picture, it was down a hill, around a corner and just a quick jaunt to the finish line. Guess who ran into a FENCE instead of into the finishing chute? That’d be me! It was a wire fence that only came up about waist high. They had flags tied to it that looked exactly like the flags tied on either side of the finishing chute and spaced about the same. I knew to run between the flags. Obviously I just misjudged which ones. By the time I realized what it was, I’d already run smack into it. Not my most shining race moment. Embarassed doesn’t even begin to cover it. Also not the greatest picture of me ever taken, but I just ran 4 miles in cold and pretty vicious winds. I’m allowed to be a bit scary looking. Oh, and you know you love the stylish Garmin-on-the-outside-of-my-shirt look, don’t you? Sometimes you do what you gotta do…and sometimes it’s just not pretty. 🙂

Overall, I loved trail running. Pounding it out in the mud and through the woods made me feel tough. There was something so freeing about it.

And the swag was pretty sweet…shamrock socks and a pilsner glass!

I had no idea what to expect as far as time went since this was my first trail run. I finished my second 2-mile lap in 24:07 with split times of 11:22 and 12:45. Not bad considering I usually pace between 11:00 and 11:30 on flat, paved courses. And I stopped quickly a few times to take the pictures. All for the love of blogging, I’m willing to sacrifice a little off my time. 😉 

Have you done any trail running? If so, what do you think? If not, is it something you’d like to try?

Read Full Post »