Ready, set, health!

Are you as happy as I am that it’s finally Friday?? I’ve had a busy week jam packed with all things health. Here are a few highlights of what I’ve been doing, reading and eating.

1. Learning everything I can about shin splints and how to prevent them. The most common factor? Runner’s World says it’s “too much, too soon.”

Here’s some more advice from No Meat Athlete, Live, Laugh, Eat and Gizmodo.

I’m not sure if any of their advice actually works yet, but I hopefully will be able to say that it does in a few weeks!

2. Foam rolling. HOLY COW does this hurt. I can get through a few minutes on my right leg, but foam rolling on my left leg (the one where I have shin splints, duh) pretty much feels like torture. My strategy has been to apply pressure until the moment right before I feel like I’m going to pass out from the pain.

Don’t know what foam rolling is? I’ve been learning about it from No Meat Athlete, Running Times, and One Twenty Five.

3. Lifting weights…and actually enjoying it! While I do go to a trainer once a week, the goal is to get myself comfortable with performing strength workouts on my own. Strength training is important for about a bajillion reasons. The internet says so.

Currently I’m following (and LOVING) an old series from Carrots ‘n’ Cake….Carrots ‘n’ Weights! She puts together great sets of moves that are super simple and definitely do the job.

4. I can’t stop eating chia seeds this week! I first discovered chia seeds last summer when I tried overnight oats. I have no air condition in my apartment, so having a cool breakfast ready for me in the morning is absolutely necessary.

There are many, many people who explain the benefits of chia seeds way better than I can. But I will give you my favorite way to eat them:

Vegan Banana Breakfast Pudding

In the bowl:

  • 1 banana mashed really well
  • 1 TBSP almond butter
  • 4 oz of almond milk
  • 1 TBSP of chia seeds (that’s 12 g for scale junkies like me)

Mix everything together, store in the fridge overnight and devour the next morning.

I also have grand plans to make these coconut flour chia jam power muffins over the weekend:

Source: powercakes.net via Jodi on Pinterest

 

5. True Orange. I’ve been struggling to stay hydrated this week. I usually have no problem guzzling down water, but lately I’ve been turned off by how bland it is. Enter True Orange. This stuff is good. It makes your water taste like orange juice and has no sugar or calories or fake sugar or weird chemicals. I’m in love.

Right now I’m headed off to a session with my trainer…and if he doesn’t kill my legs I plan to do a 2 mile run on the treadmill after followed by another painful session of foam rolling and foot flexing.

What have you done for your health this week??

Gratitude

I’m feeling a little run down, both physically and mentally, and when that happens I find the best thing to do is express gratitude. The act alone instantly changes my focus and my path. So here we go:

1. I am grateful for my body. I am grateful for the ability to walk, run, move and stand in the sun.

2. I am grateful for my job for many, many reasons. I am grateful it provides structure to most of my days.

3. I am grateful for my apartment. I am grateful I have a safe place to lay my head every night.

4. I am grateful that I have easy and instant access to fresh food and clean water.

5. I am grateful for all the wonderful people in my life who choose to share their energies with me.

6. I am grateful that there is time in my day for deep breaths and quiet thoughts.

7. I am grateful when I smile and others smile back. I am grateful for this small, but mood-lifting exchange with others.

8. I am grateful for the things in my life, even if I sometimes feel that what I have is not enough. Appreciating what I have takes the focus off what I don’t.

9. I am grateful for the Earth. I am grateful for the nature around me that sometimes provides the simplest, but most powerful inspiration.

10. I am grateful when I give love to others and to myself.

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Now….The numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 171.5

This week: 171.5

Change: 0

Total loss: 71.5

Whispers of the weekend

It’s raining, dreary and cold now.

But this weekend, oh this weekend.

The sun was shining.

The drinks were flowing.

I was busy running and sweating 😉

And eating!

Now I’m off to the gym to begin Week 2 of 10K training with strength and stretching! I’m still having shin splint issues…but haven’t had any Charley Horses, which I think might be because I started eating a banana every day again. Major points for potassium.

I know running is putting a lot of pressure on my body, so I’m just being patient with all the random aches and pains, wearing my compression sleeves, elevating my legs and icing as much as possible and hoping my body gets with the program soon. Nothing hurts bad enough too make me think I should stop or cut back.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t rain half as much as is predicted! Happy Monday 🙂

Trust in the must

Some days I wake up giddy to work out. I’m full of energy. I can’t wait to say hello to all the friendly trainers at the gym.

Some days I love going to the park, running, walking, moving.

These last few days were not like that.

I’ve been sticking to my 10K training plan, albeit a little reluctantly. So what do I do when those lulls hit? Bribe myself. It works every time.

 

Most of my weekend runs are coerced by promises of lunch at the Whole Foods salad bar. I get my self pumped up the night before for early morning gym session by searching for motivational sayings on Pinterest. And if all methods fail to get me out the door, I promise myself I will only stay at the gym for 10 minutes, and if I hate it, I can leave.

I’ve never left.

 

On Wednesday my training schedule said to do 30 minutes of cross. I had an early deadline at work and used my 6:30 a.m. wake up call to get to the office early instead of the gym. The thought of going to the gym after work, when it’s really crowded, is so undesirable. It was a little bit cold out, slightly drizzling and I was feeling sorry for myself.

But then I happened to glance out my window and saw the most beautiful pink sunset. I knew I had to get outside. I stopped being a wimp, put on some warm clothes and went for a head-clearing walk around my apartment complex.

It was just what I needed.

 

The benefits of exercise continue to amaze me. The power of using a workout to transform a bad day into a good one has been so useful to me.

Yesterday, too, I had a stressful day at work. Nothing has gone according to plan this week and the actual work I had to do was slowed down by phone calls and emails. I had a 2 mile run on the training plan and was dreading it all day.

I was too hungry to go straight after work, so came home and made a quick and simple dinner of eggs and veggies and then finally got to the run.

And you know what? It didn’t suck. Near the end of the 2 miles, I was getting a little antsy to be finished when it dawned on me that an hour ago I wasn’t sure if I would do it at all.

It’s a struggle every day to push against the habits I lived with for 23 years. As weird as this sounds, it’s very strange for me to actually set goals and follow through on them. This thing, where I do what I say I’m going to do, is very new to me. And sometimes it makes me nervous.

I’m learning to have faith in myself. That when the time comes, I’ll do what is right for me, even if it’s the hard thing. That I can depend on myself and trust myself. It’s been a process.

 

When I was traveling around India two years ago and making plans that were shaky at best, my traveling companion would always say “Trust in the must.”

The phrase stuck with me. It obviously meant something else in India, but lately it’s reminded me to believe in my healthy intentions and that, at the end of the day, what is meant to happen will happen.

It’s helped me to stop doubting that I can be successful. This is so cheesy, but it’s helped me to believe that I can do the things I want to do.

It’s Friday, the week is over and everything got done that had to get done. My deadlines were met, my workouts done..and now my sink of dirty dishes are all clean 😉

Putting yourself in the path of least resistance to your goals rarely means taking it easy.

Align yourself with the energy of the universe and then take action.

You will get to where you are meant to be.

 

 

Top 5 apps for staying healthy

One year ago I bought myself an iPhone.

I’m not sure how I lived before that year.

It makes EVERYTHING easier, including being healthy. I use my phone for everything from tracking my exercise and calories to getting to sleep at night. I really believe that having such constant access to the tracking and other apps has helped me stay on point. I’ve been asked a lot about what app I use for running, so I thought it would be fun to share all my favorite apps for healthy living.

1. MyFitnessPal

Having the ability to track my calories on my phone keeps me accountable for what I eat no matter what. I also use it to look up foods when I’m at a restaurant so I can make the smartest choice. The app is super easy to use for everything from building recipes to copying meals from one day to the next (I tend to eat the same thing every day for weeks at at time). Sometimes I’ll put everything I know I’m going to eat in the app at the beginning of the day so if I’m feeling hungry I can look over what I have planned for later and decide whether I want a snack or not.

2. RunKeeper

I don’t think I ever would have completed Couch to 5K without this app. There are tons of distance tracking apps out there that use your GPS, but this continues to be my favorite because of its “coaching option.” You can create tons of complex interval workouts and choose how many times you want it to repeat for great interval training. I also love that you can set it to notify you when you hit a certain distance or time, or both. It doesn’t hurt that the voice on the app has a British accent either 😉 Sometimes I find that the GPS isn’t totally accurate, but I think that has more to do with my phone than the app. Overall this gets a big two thumbs up.

 

3. Convert Units

This thing does everything, currency, energy, mass, temperature, volume, time…I continuously find new ways to use it. I probably open it most when I’m in the kitchen, however, and need to covert grams to pounds or cups to tablespoons. Because I cook mostly for one, I’m always adapting recipes and using this app takes the guess work out of measurements.

4. Sleep Pillow

I decided to download this app one day on a whim and fell in love. I set it to play a “thunderstorm” sound for 15 minutes and I’m usually asleep before it’s over. Since I don’t have air condition, I sleep with a fan on during the summer and I think my brain missed the white noise putting me to sleep. I’m typically a good sleeper (except for when I’m stressed) but there is something about this app that just puts my mind in sleep mode.

5. Starbucks

I’m a total coffee (and Starbucks specifically) addict and before I started learning more about my health, it was not unusual for me to consume a couple of frappucinos or caramel macchiatos a week. This app lets you customize your drink before you order and shows you the nutritional information.  It also keeps track of your favorite combinations. I love playing around with it and building different drinks.

—————————–

Now….The numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 173

This week: 171.5

Change: -1.5

Total loss: 71.5

10K Training Go Time

I can’t believe I’m saying this.

I’m going to run a 10K. I don’t know when. But I will.

And training starts today.

After checking out a few different plans from Runner’s World and Cool Running, I decided to go with Hal Higdon’s 10K training plan for n00bs novice runners.

 

I really liked the simple layout and think it leaves a lot of room for customization. It also only has me running three times a week, which, considering the condition of my knees and shins, is probably a good thing. I also like that it incorporates two days of strength. That’s currently my weakest  (is there a pun here?) area and the one I want to most improve.

I felt so good on my 4-miler Saturday that I’m confident I can push myself even further. Believing you can do it is 75 percent of the battle and I’m pretty sure the other 25 percent is compression sleeves haha.

This is my "stop taking pictures and go run" face

I’m going to continue with intervals of 10 min. running/1 min. walking because it’s working really well for me right now, and Higdon’s plan encourages walk breaks.

I also already have two more 5K races planned for April 28 and May 6, but I think the schedule will work nicely with them.

I wholeheartedly believe that putting your goals out there is the first step to achieving them. So here it is. I’ll also leave you with this picture of delicious trail mix from Whole Foods that I devoured after Saturday’s run.

How’s that for a Monday? 🙂

 

 

 

 

Everything is illuminated

I woke up excited to run Thursday.

It was a bright morning with a slight wind, and a little chilly. I ran slow. I ran steady. I admired the wispy clouds, nodded “hello” at the other morning runners and smiled at the sunshine.

I took time to appreciate the movement of my body. Thanked it for working so hard. For coping so well with all I put it through.

It’s easy to get frustrated. I sometimes get angry that for so many years I didn’t treat my body with the respect it deserved. And now? My knees ache, I’m sore from the gym, my shin splints throb. My body still isn’t used to the physical exertion.

But yesterday I ran through the pain. My mind was strong when my legs were tired. I had my spirit motivating me to complete the miles.

After I finished the run and stretched out my legs, I took a moment to just be still. Let my heart beat slow and my breath deepen.

I stared up at the sun and felt a rush of gratefulness.

One year ago, I thought, I would not have been up before work to run at the park. I would not have seen the sun streaming through the trees. I would not have heard the first signs of spring, chirping birds and a babbling river.

There is pain, there is frustration, there are moments of weakness. Keep going.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” – Lao Tzu

Really, I’m not on a diet

I want to talk about dieting.

I hate the word. I hate the idea.

I’m not on one. But for some reason, that’s hard for people to understand.

When I think of diets, I think of (1) something you pay money to follow and (2) something that you will cheat on or fail at.

I’m not on a diet.

I’m a recovering binge eater who thinks consciously, really consciously, about my eating habits to avoid relapse and to maintain control.

I think I run into this confusion mostly when I express hesitation about eating at a restaurant. People assume I don’t want to mess up my diet.

Not true.

I don’t want to enter a situation that could make me feel like I don’t have control over what and how much I eat.

For most of my life, I ate the bulk of my calories in secret and in shame. I hid and hoarded food, ate until I was sick and then punished myself mentally for the act.

I didn’t love myself, and I didn’t care about how binge eating affected my body.

But all that has changed.

Here’s the thing: I view meal planning, cooking and counting calories as an act of self care. I feel better and stress less when I’m doing all of these things to take care of myself. These things take time, but it means that I’m making my health a priority.

Do I lose weight from doing these things? Yes. But the bigger picture is that I’m taking care of myself. I’m thinking about what I eat. I’m researching health trends. I’m taking time to make sure I want and enjoy the food I’m eating. I’m not just grabbing food from a shelf and eating it as quickly as possible in the glow of a TV.

When you recover from an eating disorder, like binge eating, you have to relearn how to feed yourself.

The idea of going out to eat at somewhere like a buffet for a meal no longer appeals to me on a number of levels because in my mind it could act as a trigger for binge eating. Gaining weight does factor in, but it’s not at the top.

This is something that I really wanted to put out there, because I think there’s a common misconception that anyone who plays an active role in their food choices is on a diet.

I have no idea if I’ll always eat the way I do now, or if I will always track my calories. But those choices won’t depend on how much I weigh, they will depend on how I feel.

Right now, I like what I’m doing. I like that I have created a way of life that is designed to overcome binge eating triggers. I like that I don’t go to bed at night regretting my food choices that day and I like the way I feel when I wake up in the morning.

It’s hard to explain all of that, however, when friends want to know why you don’t want to have dinner with them. Having balance and maintaining a social life while working out my eating issues is something that I struggle with. But I’m undoing a lifetime of learned behavior and realize it’s not going to change overnight, or even over one year.

Anyway, this is something I just wanted to get off my chest and share. Maybe you can relate :).

———

Now….The numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 173

This week: 173

Change: 0

Total loss: 70

Glen Rock Opt-In 5K Race Recap

I knew this race would be for me when I read the description “flat and fast” on Active.com.

All week I debated signing up, however, because my last few runs have been terrible. I’ve been having a tough time getting through just 2 miles from a combination of wind and allergies, so I was less than stoked to conquer 3.1.

Also, I had no one to run it with. Would a race alone be any fun?

Enter: Meetups!

A few months ago I joined a runners group on Meetup.com, not actually thinking I belonged in a runners group, but figuring it would give me the motivation to run faster so I could eventually be in a runners group. Wacky logic, I know.

Anyway, I got an e-mail the day before the race that the runners group had posted the Glen Rock 5k as an event and knew it was a sign that I should do it. I RSVP’d immediately, then registered.

Then I started hydrating. The day before I had gone out with some coworkers and drank a bit too much and was absolutely dehydrated (Charley Horses, UGH) so I hit up Trader Joes for some Zico Coconut Water, bananas and Lara Bars.

Saturday I woke up at 7 a.m. Breakfast was half a banana, a cashew cookie Lara Bar and a Coconut Water. Fantastic fuel.

Around 8 a.m. I headed over to the park where it started, which was only a few minutes from my apartment. I was a little shocked to see how few people were there and a little worried that it would mean I would be coming in last.

My nerves soon disappeared as I began chatting with Michelle from the runners group after we found each other by text message. Her longest distance was a marathon, and I told her the 5K distance still felt like a marathon to me! I was so grateful to have her there to distract me from the impending start.

The race kicked off with a playing of the Star Spangled Banner and then all 150 of us (hah!) were off!

The race course was an out and back, which I wasn’t too excited about, but it turned out to be a great thing. Around Mile 1 I saw the winner heading back in the other direction – he was FLYING!

It was a sunny day but cold and I was glad I had chosen to keep on my gloves and ear warmers.

It felt like it took forever to get to the turnaround, but once I passed it I was feeling good again. There were a few spectators along the route who were cheering, which I love.

I got a bit of a stomach cramp around Mile 2 so really concentrated on my breathing and the pain disappeared quickly.

At Mile 2.5 Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” came on my iPod and it was just what I needed to carry me to the end.

No heel striking here!

As the finish line came into site, I knew I could cross it in under 36 minutes – a new PR! I saw Michelle on the side cheering and started sprinting!

My official time was 35:31! More than a minute faster than my first race on Thanksgiving where my time was 36:38. Obviously the total time on RunKeeper is a little off because I started it early and stopped it after finishing, but you can see my splits below:

I’m super proud of those numbers! Every mile was under 12 minutes, which is not the norm for me.

This race definitely gave me confidence in running again. There is something about being surrounded by a bunch of other runners that is always so motivating!

After the race I headed straight to Starbucks for a giant iced coffee and then spent most of the day lying around watching Mad Men. A perfect Saturday 🙂

Hope you all had a good weekend, too!

Avocado Spinach Protein Smoothie

You need to try this smoothie. Don’t let the color scare you.

The other day after work I was jonesing for a smoothie when I saw the avocado sitting in the fridge. A light bulb went off in my head and this delicious, cold and creamy concoction was born.

Avocado Spinach Protein Smoothie

In the blender:

  • 6 oz water
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like the Designer brand)
  • 50 grams of avocado (a little less than 1/2 an avocado)
  • As much spinach as you can fit in your Magic Bullet.

Blend. Add more spinach. Blend more. Enjoy. 
I first started putting spinach in my smoothies after reading all the other bloggers rave about their Green Monsters.

Life has never been the same. For all you non-belieievers, you really can’t taste the spinach. Really. And the avocado just brings this smoothie to another, awesomely delicious, level.

Now….The numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 172.5

This week: 173

Change: +.5

Total loss: 70