April 30, 2012
Today I’m busy off gallivanting through the lovely Niagara Falls in chilly Canada 😀 But instead of leaving everyone hangin’ for a week, I’ve asked a few of my friends to talk about some of the ways that THEY keep healthy.
Let me introduce you to my friend, Lil. This girl is probably one of my favorite people in Baltimore. She’s been an amazing friend through all of the ups and downs of the last year and to top it off, she’s the one who finally convinced me to join a gym and start taking some of the classes as a compliment to my training. She’s a self-proclaimed gym crazy and she was nice enough to agree to talk about how she got there. Take a read and leave her some love!
Hello, Katie asked me to submit some entries to her blog while she is away on her honeymoon. I hope that I can live up to her expectations. First of all, let’s all congratulate Brandon and Katie on their marriage and wish then many long years of happiness. OK, enough of all that mushy stuff. I am honored that Katie asked me to write something for this blog. Be kind, I am new to this. So here goes:
I began reflecting on how and when I started working out. When I graduated from college and started my first job in scientific research, I participated in a study where I needed to exercise and keep track of that exercise, so I bought a stationary bike and made up my own plan. I worked out until the study ended, and then I stopped, not because I no longer wanted to exercise but “life” got in the way. My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and I was planning a wedding. That was one stressful year, ugh!
Two years later, my husband and I welcomed our first son. After a few months, I actually weighed less than I did before I got pregnant. It was not healthy though. I lost weight because I was exhausted. Nine months later, I found out I was pregnant again. And my daughter was born in October. It took me two years to lose that pregnancy weight. During that time, I bought an exercise DVD and worked out in my basement when I had the time. And, as soon as I lost the weight I gained with that second pregnancy, I found out there was going to be another addition to our family. Following the birth of our second son, my husband noticed that my self esteem was low. I felt poorly about how I looked and the weight I gained. He bought me a treadmill in the hopes that I would begin to see myself the way he saw me. It was a sweet gesture. I remember running on the treadmill and looking away for a moment, losing my balance and flying, yes, flying off the treadmill into my living room wall. Lesson learned, always, always look forward when on a treadmill.
Fast forward a few months, I bought the Tae Bo video and once again, worked out in my basement. I followed that video for several months, until I started having pain in my knees and I stopped. Then, once again, life got in the way. My husband worked shift work and the kids needed my attention. My exercise needs were tossed aside. Years passed and my exercise needs were still put off. Something I regret now because it would have helped me during those times when being a stay at home mom made me miss the outside world.
Then, my life changed drastically on November 20, 2007, when my lovely daughter died suddenly from viral myocarditis. She was 13 and I miss her terribly. Months went by and I was depressed. I told my husband to check out a local gym because I knew that I needed to find a way to help myself and I didn’t want to be medicated. I knew that endorphins would help me. So my amazing husband once again came to my aid. He signed us both up for the local Gold’s Gym and my gym family has become my second family. Four years later, I still go to the gym regularly, attending classes most of the time. Some days, I do double classes, crazy, huh? And I have signed up to do my first 5K in June. Yay! Regular exercise has helped me to, not only look great on the outside at 45, but also feel great mentally and emotionally. I know that I could not do it without the love and support from my awesome husband. I hope that Brandon and Katie will continue to be as supportive of each other as my husband and I have been of each other. I know that having my biggest fan at my side makes getting through every day so much easier.
ps – that 5k she’s doing? She’s doing it with me! I’m a) pretty excited she’s getting out there for a run (if I don’t start getting my butt in gear she’s gonna beat me, too) and b) pretty excited about the promise of a wine date afterwards…
April 27, 2012
April 25, 2012
The countdown is seriously on for heading up north for the weekend (eek!) and then even farther north for a whole week! Brandon’s taking me on a honeymoon excursion to Niagara Falls and Toronto. I’ve never been to either so I am SUPER excited. One of my favorite bloggers (www.ohsheglows.com) was sweet enough to answer an email from me and gave me a few suggestions for what Vegan friendly restaurants to hit up and I’m hoping we can make it to one or two of them. We will (of course) be checking out a baseball game while in Toronto, so I’m pretty excited about that! Other than that, I’m not sure what all we have planned, but I can’t wait to share 🙂
Because I’ve been in major “eat all of the perishables out of my fridge before we leave” mode, my meals have been the farthest thing from exciting (we’re talking salads, veggie burgers and reheated pizza leftover from the weekend). My workouts have been next to non-existent with the last minute details and work stresses to be dealt with. So figuring out what to write about has been especially difficult this past week. So I thought I share a few posts that I read this morning that were really relevant to me.
For those of you who don’t know, for Lent I opted to follow a vegan diet, giving up dairy and eggs, to the best of my ability. Even though there were a few hiccups, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and even though I don’t like to label myself as a vegan, I haven’t felt any urge to indulge in cheese or eggs since Easter. For me, its been relatively easy and Brandon hasn’t done much in the way of complaining about it either. BUT, there have been more than a few times that I’ve gotten questioned (in a negative, judgy way), looked at funny or just plain old ridiculed for my choices. I’m pretty good about taking it all, to a point. But there’s a limit to everyone’s patience, a “shove a carton of Ice cream made with coconut milk in someone’s face and demand them to try it and dare me to tell them its bad” kind of limit. I don’t mean to be preachy and would never try to tell someone to be “Vegan” or “Vegetarian”, but I do think that respect for anyone’s lifestyle choices should be mutual. So when I read these few blog posts about a lot of the typical questions and rumors and stereotypes of a Vegetarian/Vegan diet, I decided it would be the perfect thing to share.
I’ll start with a post a few of my friends sent to me
The Challenge of Going Vegan – This was a post that I thought could have been so much more than what it was. Sadly, I think it fell into the same category that feeds into people’s general judgments about a Vegan diet. In particular, I think it does less to highlight the benefits of a Vegan diet and how achievable it can be and more to scare people away from a Vegan diet. Yes, it can be expensive if you’re using a lot of the fake meat products and not even all that healthy for you. I’m the first to admit that Veggie burgers from the frozen section are DARN EXPENSIVE. But a Vegetarian or Vegan diet can be pretty affordable too. ESPECIALLY if you make those veggie burgers! They’re so easy to make and the ingredients don’t HAVE to be overwhelming. If you stick to the produce and things like beans, rice, grains that you know and already familiar with, you can try one or two new things at a time, rather than feeling like everything is new and different. Plus, I truly believe that if you go into a Vegan or Vegetarian diet with the mindset that you have to find a suitable replacement for your steak, that you will not be happy or satisfied. For me, the fun was finding out new flavors, rather than finding a good fake steak (I don’t think there is one, either).
Motherhood-vegan-parenting Next up is this really well written post by a new blog I found this morning. I really appreciated her views on raising a child vegan. With the upcoming wedding, the idea of family inevitably comes to mind. And of course that brings the idea of raising a child as a possible vegetarian. This has come under small attack in random conversations, but I really liked the idea presented here that any diet can be healthy or unhealthy, including vegetarian or vegan diets. The POINT is that we teach our kids how to make the healthiest decisions possible. Not in a restrictive sense, but in a well-balanced sense. It also brings up a great point, that a vegetarian or vegan diet can take some effort at first, ESPECIALLY if you’re idea of cooking is throwing a Hungry Man’s frozen dinner into the microwave, or hey – even a vegan frozen meal. You need to understand how to be healthy as a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan or ANYTHING in order for the diet to be considered good for you.
Finally, shortly after reading that article, I stumbled across this post, over at nomeatathlete, Veggie Myths , where the author takes on what a lot of vegetarians or vegans face each and every day. The dreaded “how do you…” questions. I think he did a great job of generally responding to some common myths about being a vegetarian. Yes we get enough protein, no we don’t think fake meat tastes like real meat, yes we can be athletic and strong and competitive, no we don’t set up tofu shrines and pray to the all powerful soybean every night, etc etc etc.
If I can add my own two cents – and I will, I think what people tend to miss when they think about all of the things that aren’t “normal” about a vegan meal, is how fun it can be. When I get asked about things like this, I remind them that a lot of the meals they eat everyday are vegetarian friendly already (pizza, pasta, salads, soups, etc). What I wish, is that people who aren’t vegan or vegetarian and have no inclination to be (which is fine), would just be a tad more open minded about it all. A vegan meal every now and then isn’t going to turn you into a vegan, but if you let go of certain preconceived ideas, it may actually surprise you by being tasty J
Anyone else have thoughts about this – similar posts to share?
ps – as an added bonus, I wanted to share this fun, but informative post by Alicia Silverstone over at http://www.thekindlife.com. I’ve been on a huge kick for trying to go more eco friendly these days and these tips are a good reminder of the little things we can do 🙂 She also has a fun post on ways to get your kids involved too, which you can read here . I love the idea of getting the kids to help sort out the recycling and teaching them why.
April 24, 2012
Awhile back, I mentioned how a year ago, if you had told me I’d be eating, CRAVING breakfast every morning, I would’ve told you that was nuts. Fast forward and I was busy telling you about how I was never going to eat anything other than oatmeal for breakfast for the rest of my life. Clearly an exaggeration, but honest – I ate oatmeal a lot for breakfasts. Overnight oats, steel cut oats, baked oats. Yes yes and yes. I could even get my diner fix in on the weekends with Oatmeal, sliced bananas and a dry English muffin with PB (and those leftover sliced bananas).
Sadly, now that the weather is starting to warm up a bit, my oatmeal tendencies are starting to wane. That’s not to say I don’t still love a bowl of oatmeal, but my desire for a warm and dense heavy bowl of oatmeal in the morning isn’t quite as strong anymore. The few times I’ve tried, I end up not finishing it and being satisfied with a piece of toast instead (also, not a bad option). At the diner, that’s not so hard to accommodate, because I’ve been able to replace the oatmeal with some homefries and keep the English muffin w/ pb & bananas. Still a pretty decent and filling breakfast. The problem is, I can’t cook homefries in my rice cooker….and so I present to you – my new found favorite “will never any other breakfast for the rest of my life” breakfast…
If you guessed organic Fruit loops – you were so right. Each morning I wake up and have a big ol’ bowl of Cascadian Farms Fruity-Os, or some ridiculous name similar to that. There’s (sadly?) no sugar on the outside of these, but they are a fairly healthy and definitely tasty alternative to the Toucan Sam variety. And with the added banana and raspberries, I haven’t missed the sweet sugar at all. Best of all? It keeps me full until at least mid to late morning. Which is something I was pretty worried about missing.
ever switch up your breakfasts based on seasons?
April 20, 2012
Holy what the wha!? Its Friday.
Annnnd I’m still at work.
It has been one of those weeks that has been looooooooooooooooooooooooong, but no less hectic for what felt like a ridiculous amount of time. I swear, our last weekend was two weekends ago.
Since I have VERY little exciting to share about my day, I thought I’d share a piece of news with you that i’ve been holding out on for awhile.
When I first started running, I figured I’d stop at 3.1 miles and call it a success. N. A few weeks into my 5k training, I signed up for an 8k. Its funny to think of how nervous I was about running 5 miles! I figured I’d call it quits after that. ow, when I run in the morning I always think “i’ll just stop after the first 2 miles” and then bang out the 5 mile training run. A few weeks after finishing the 5k, I nervously hit send on my registration for a half marathon. .These nerves made my 8k nerves look wimpy. 13.1 miles? No way no how would that EVER be possible, I thought I’d stop after 13.1 miles.
Not by a long shot…
Shortly before I ran my first half marathon, I very very VERY nervously pressed the send button on my registration for the FULL Baltimore Marathon on October 13th. So nervous in fact, that only a handful of people knew. Until now.
Its very true that I’m nervous about the idea of running 26.2 miles. But I was nervous about a 5k, I was nervous about an 8k and I was nervous about a half. I’m nervous every time I go out for my long run on a weekend. But somewhere in between slowly ticking off the miles and sticking to my training plans, I realized Iwould run 13.1 miles. I can only believe that the same is true for a FULL marathon. My official “marathon” training starts the last week of my Baltimore 10 miler training, so its a good overlap to me.
Is anyone else participating in the Baltimore Running Festival this year???
ps – Happy Friday!
April 19, 2012
Sometimes, I can be a simple girl.
Like, taco night, kind of simple.
I have a lot of happy memories of taco nights with my family. We were never soft taco kind of people. Always the hardshells. Simple, no fuss ingredients. Beef, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and taco sauce.
This time I made mine a little healthier with garden burger veggie grounds, subbed out the iceberg with some spinach, sprinkled on some Daiya cheese (Best Vegan cheese out there!) and added some sliced avocado. I am WILD I tell ya.
When I was younger, I was amazed that my dad could a) hold a whole taco shell in his hand and seem to eat it without destroying the taco. We remember weird things, no? I, however, continue to have to make the requisite “My taco fell apart after the first bite…so i’m just gonna make a salad and pretend I meant for it to crumble in my hands”. No taco night is complete without taco sauce dripping down your fingers!
Anyone else have meals that remind them of family dinners?
April 18, 2012
Last night was 1 part “pity me” 1 part giving myself a stern talking to. But I promised you (and myself) that I would start my changes IMMEDIATELY, because complaining does no good, if you make no attempts to fix what’s bothering you, right?
So it started with the kitchen. I’ve always said how strong the connection is between what I eat and how I feel. For instance, last week we had a lot of starchy dinners and I ended up taking those in for lunches at work most days. Which means my daily “greens” intake was minimal. Not good. A few weeks ago, I started drinking daily versions of “green monsters”. Which is a scary name for “smoothie with spinach”. After a week straight of a spinach smoothie and salads everyday, going to no spinach cold turkey was ROUGH. I just felt heavy, sluggish and lethargic. I didn’t want to do anything physical and that really shows in my training efforts last week. So this week, I’ve switched back to salads for lunch and some less starchy dinners. So, after my temper tantrum yesterday evening, I hopped back into the kitchen to start with a healthy dinner.
Veggie stir fry with tempeh in a Almond Miso sauce over bulgur wheat! I’ve never cooked with Miso paste before, but after tonight’s adventure, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be using it again. This sauce was a perfect topping for the stir fry and the bulgur wheat kept it a little lighter than had I used brown rice (of which we had none anyhow…). I ripped the recipe out of one of my maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaany cooking/food magazines and its definitely a keeper! I really liked how the nuttiness of the tempeh and almond sauce played off of each other and i’m not sure how tofu would hold up in this dish.
After a healthy dinner (ok and a sliver of homemade banana bread…) it was a little too late for the gym for me, but I didn’t want to let the day go by without really trying to get my heart rate up. So I took advantage of http://www.fitsugar.com and their free fitsugar workouts on fittv. I went through 2 whole body circuits that incorporated dumbbells and some cardio style moves to get your heart rate up. It wasn’t a running workout by any means, but it definitely was better than giving up for the night!
And with last night out of the way – lets talk about today!
Getting out of bed was NOT fun, but I was awake. And I knew that if I didn’t hit the gym in the AM, I’d spend the rest of the day beating myself up for it. I thought about going for my 4 miler that I missed yesterday morning, but then decided that the healthier thing to do mentally was to STOP focusing on what I had missed and start focusing on the present and what I had left to accomplish. If I spend my entire time obsessing over what I haven’t done, it can’t be very good for me. It sounds so negative, doesn’t it? So I chose to stay on track with my training schedule for the week and hit the treadmill for a 3 mile interval run. Even though I didn’t mess around with the incline intervals too much, I did toggle back and forth between low incline and no incline while upping my speed. I rounded out my run in 26:34, continuing to bring down that average pace. My goal is to have a faster “warm up” speed, so I can get more comfortable at the faster speeds. I’m pretty short, so at some point, my legs will only be able to move so fast! Although, I’ve heard that shorter tiny little strides are better than longer strides. Anyone have a preference?
We were nursing a sick kitty last night, so this morning I gave him some extra snuggles and jetted off to work for a long (still not over!) day. Thankfully I’ve gotten my workout out of the way this morning and have tacos waiting for me for when I get home. 🙂 Even though tonight’s usually my Yoga night, I’m going to forgo the class, for the sake of time. Although for the sake of mental sanity, I may throw a few poses in on my own time before bed.
ps – those whole body circuits I fit in last night? I’m feeling them in my hamstrings for SURE. They were a fun way to sweat a little bit, without having to work my way to the gym and fit in a full cardio blasting workout. Definitely will be enjoying them a little more. Who else has used “at home” workouts before?