Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Any progress, is still progress!

Are you ready for a half marathon recap?! Of course you are! It has been awhile since I have done a race recap so I am happy to report that I had a great run this past Sunday. I ran in the 2012 Parks Half Marathon that started in Rockville, MD and ended in Bethesda, MD.  I ran this race in 2011 so I was prepared for the course and had a time in the books to beat!
The race started at 7 am which meant an early morning for me. I have run plenty of half marathons prior to this but for some reason I was nervous about this race the night before. I didn't sleep at ALL. I had that fear of sleeping through the alarm, or not having time to take the dog out, or not having time to cook myself breakfast...all these things running through my head until my alarm went off at 5 am.  Luckily the race day adrenaline helped mask any fatigue and I was out the door with plenty of time to spare.

The weather could not have been more perfect. It was crisp fall morning. People were even bundled in jackets prior to the race.  Nothing screams long runs like a cool morning.  Besides the logistics of actually getting to the race on time, I was actually nervous about running this race. I have not been doing a great job of weekend longs run or even week day speed workouts, so I wasn't hopeful for a great performance. I just went out with the goal of clocking 10 min miles and aiming to stay under 2:15.

Normally, I do not care about pace groups. I usually rationalize that all I need is my garmin to know my pace and know how fast or slow I need to run, but this time I put myself between the 2 hour and 2:10 pace groups. Boy, what a difference that made! People were passing me all around. Normally, I try to break free from the group to make room for myself but I couldn't keep up with anyone.  So I did my best to find a comfortable pace and stay with the group the best I could. I was doing pretty good at keeping a 9:30 mile/min pace. I think the pace group really helped me keep up the speed and not slow down even though I would get tired.

I was impressed that I was able to keep this pace throughout the entire 13 miles! There were a few hills that slowed me down, I stopped at every water break, and my hydration belt fell off 3 times. So there were certainly a few things that slowed me down, but I did a good job of picking people out in front of me, catching up to them and then leaving them behind! I picked off one. at. a. time.

As you know, I have a goal of running a half marathon in under 2 hours. Well, I am sad to report that it did not happen this time. I finished at 2:03.  I was SOOO close and was so disappointed when I watched the 2:00 come and go on my Garmin.  But despite not meeting my goal, I was still really  happy with my time. I set a new PR for my half marathon time (previous PR was 2:08) AND I ran this exact same race last year and finished in 2:27. Now that is improvement!! Big time! So I will take that and be very happy about the progress I am making.  Now I just have another excuse to sign up for another half marathon and do a better job of training! I just need to chip away 3 mins, easy, right?!

Here are my times for all 13 miles (not sure what happened during mile 12, it was a long mile):

So another half marathon in the books! It was a great morning and I crashed pretty hard after the race and possibly finished a whole watermelon by myself.  It was well earned! 
Overall it was a strong run, there was great weather and I had an exciting finish. It was also the motivation I needed to keep moving forward with my plans to run the Marine Corp Marathon next month! October will be here soon, I better get running. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

National Yoga Month

Did you know that September is the official National Yoga Month? It is a designation that the US Department of Health and Human Services gave to educate people about the health benefits of yoga and inspire a healthy lifestyle.
To celebrate National Yoga Month, thousands of yoga studios across the country are offering free yoga classes for a week! That means you can try yoga for free! I highly recommend this! Not only is now a great time to start yoga if you have never tried it before, but having access to free classes allows you to try out studios you might not otherwise visit. For more information about a free week of yoga visit the Yoga Health Foundation.  A little nervous to try yoga? Take a look at my post "Thinking about Yoga".  Or take a look at these 10 reasons to practice yoga:

1. STRESS RELIEF: Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body.
2. PAIN RELIEF: Yoga can ease pain.
3. BETTER BREATHING: Yoga teaches people to take slower, deeper breaths.
4. FLEXIBILITY: Yoga helps to improve flexibility and mobility, increasing range of movement and reducing aches and pains.
5. INCREASED STRENGTH: Yoga asanas (postures) use every muscle in the body, helping to increase strength literally from head to toe.
6. WEIGHT MANAGEMENT: Yoga (even less vigorous styles) can aid weight control efforts by reducing the cortisol levels as well as by burning excess calories and reducing stress.
7. IMPROVED CIRCULATION: Yoga helps to improve circulation and, as a result of various poses, more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.
8. CARDIOVASCULAR CONDITIONING: Even gentle yoga practice can provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering resting heart rate, increasing endurance and improving oxygen uptake during exercise.
9. FOCUS ON THE PRESENT: Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind body health.
10. INNER PEACE: The meditative aspects of yoga help many to reach a deeper, more spiritual and more satisfying place in their lives.

To celebrate national yoga month, not only am I practicing more yoga at home and in my gym, but I have volunteered as a teaching assistant for a kid's yoga class.  I learned about a local organization called YoKid. Yokid is an affiliate of The George Washington University School of Public Health.  Yokid provides yoga classes to children to foster self-awareness and to help children realize their full potential, mentally and physically. Yokid has found that children who take yoga classes are less angry, more relaxed and show improvements in coordination.  I started assisting in my first class last week. I help with a class of 3-6 yrs olds every Thursday afternoon.  I will admit to not really knowing what I was signing myself up for. At first I thought it would be fun and I would get to hang out with kids and be crazy for an hour but as my first class came closer, I realized I had no idea how to teach kids yoga or how to make them even interested in yoga concepts. Luckily I have the leadership of a seasoned teacher and I have been able to watch her capture the kid's attention and make yoga relative to their lives.  At the beginning of each class we focus on breathing. Quick, rapid breaths and slow, deep breaths. The kids love the movements of their arms and love the opportunity to just let loose.  It is also fun to move through different yoga poses with them because so many yoga  movements mimic animals. Downward Dog. Cat-Cow. Cobra.  When was the last time you did cat-cow and let out a little moooooo or meow..... Try it, it will surely put a smile on your face. 

I have only had two classes, but have learned so much.  The class is small but every single student has their own personality. There is the wild child that likes to roll up in their mat or run laps around the room, there is the silent, motionless child that isn't really sure about all this moving and would rather just sit and watch, there is the talking child that has something to say about every pose, and there is the bored child that thinks yoga is pretty dang boring and is ready to move on.  All these different personalities make for an interesting and challenging class. Each class is different and I learn more and more about my students each week.

One of the things we do at the end of each class is lie on our mats, close our eyes and picture the perfect place. The students are told that their place could be anywhere with anything. Ice cream, swimming pools, toys, your family, your best friend...whatever you want.  As we talk them through this visualization you see their faces light up and little smiles start to peek through.  This is my favorite part of class and what keeps me coming back each week.

Happy National Yoga Month to you!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

30 day meditation challenge

Happy Labor Day weekend! There is nothing like a 3 day weekend to rest, recharge and catch up on the ever expanding to-do list.  I'm excited that we are now in the month of September.  Fall, my favorite season EVER, is right around the corner.  I love fall for many reasons, but this year I am particularly looking forward to the temperatures cooling down and all this yucky humidity going away.   In addition to cooler weather, I love that fall brings back everything in a pumpkin spice or apple flavor. As I type this, I am sipping on my first pumpkin spice chai of the season. DELICIOUS! It is like a slice of pumpkin pie in a cup.  Since it is still 80 degrees outside, it may be premature to be drinking hot beverages, but the Caribou Coffee shop I am sitting in has their air conditioner up really high, so I think they wanted me to order a hot chai! No complaints here. 

As I wrap up August and my failed Whole30 attempt, I look at September as a new month and new opportunity to take on another challenge. One of the blogs I read daily, RunToTheFinish, is hosting a 30 day meditation challenge. While I am all about taking on challenges that push me physically (ie. marathon training), the thought of a meditation challenge actually sounded a bit scary to me.  Sure meditation is just taking the time to sit with your thoughts for a finite amount of time, but have you ever tried to meditate? IT IS HARD STUFF!  For me, I sit down, get comfortable and close my eyes and within seconds, I have a million things running through my mind.  "What am I going to have for dinner?" "Did I send that email?" "Is my phone ringing?" "My foot is falling asleep"..etc, etc, etc. My brain is constantly going, so meditation presents a big challenge for me. 
Additionally, meditating for a long period of time is intimating. Who has an hour to just sit there and do nothing? Obviously, there are more productive things you could do with that hour, so who wants to just sit and do nothing? This is a hard concept for my "getting-it-done" personality to accept. 
But the truth is, meditation, when done correctly, can be the best thing for your mind and body. If you are able to sit and get your mind to a place of complete relaxation,  the benefits are endless.  Here are a few: 

INeedMotivation.com lists 100 benefits of mediation, here are just a few:

5- Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation.
8- Decreases muscle tension
9- Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis etc.
12- Enhances the immune system.
14- Enhances energy, strength and vigor.
15- Helps with weight loss
30- improved performance in athletic events
31- Normalizes to your ideal weight
32- harmonizes our endocrine system
33- relaxes our nervous system
39- Helps control own thoughts
40- Helps with focus & concentration
41- Increase creativity
50- Increased Productivity
56- Develop will power
69- Require less time to fall asleep, helps cure insomnia
72- Decrease in restless thinking
73- Decreased tendency to worry
78- Grows a stable, more balanced personality
80- Helps keep things in perspective
81- Provides peace of mind, happiness
95- Helps living in the present moment

After reading this list, who wouldn't want to meditate?  Well, easier said then done. 
Meditation takes practice and for me, it will take a lot of practice.  And the ironic thing about meditation is when you need it the most, you will most likely be unable to meditate if you have not been practicing. When you are super stressed and you just need to sit a meditate, you will be too worked up to be able to calm down. That is why constant practice is so important. When you find yourself in a state of chaos, it will be easier to find your zen if you have practiced meditation before and now the feeling and place that you need to go to mentally. 

So yesterday was my first day and I am starting slow. 5 mins a day for now. I downloaded the Yoga Nidra Meditation app. The free version guides you through a 5 min meditation which is perfect for me now. Listening to a voice guide me through the 5 mins helps me with my concentration and keeps me from peaking at the clock every 5 mins. 

Do you practice regular meditation? If so, what are you tips?  If no, try it out. Let me know how you were able to bring our mind back to focus when it started to wonder. 

You can follow the other 30 day challengers on Twitter at: #meditate30
Photo from RunToTheFinish

Happy September everyone!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thinking about yoga?

Yoga is something that have always intrigued me. Who doesn't love the idea of a cute yoga outfit and standing on your head to find your inner zen?!
Well, if you have ever taken a yoga class, it doesn't always roll out that way. You walk into a yoga studio  and you are surrounded by beautiful people that have expensive mats and perfect yoga bodies. Immediately you start thinking that you are in the wrong place. You can barely touch your toes and they want you to put your foot behind your head? Um...no thanks, I will stick to child's pose from the next hour.

There is no doubt that yoga can be intimating, but the beauty of yoga is that it is essentially time that you dedicate to yourself to do what your body wants.  I am not a person that has regularly taken yoga classes, but as I have incorporated lots of running and Crossfit workouts in my life, I have found that the 5 mins of stretching and rolling out I do before my workouts is just not enough. My body aches from the physical demands I put on it and I'm emotionally drained from all that life has thrown at me, so the least I can do is spend an hour or more just focusing on something that makes me feel good and yoga does that for me.

Yes, yoga classes can be scary and yes, you will probably see your yoga teach stand on his/her head, but that is not what yoga is about.  A yoga teacher is there to guide you through poses and provide guidance on body alignment and your fellow yogis may have been taking yoga classes for decades to get to the place they are at now, but let me let you in on a little yoga secret.... there is nothing wrong with going into a yoga class, rolling out your mat and sitting in child's pose for the whole hour.   Seriously, this is allowed. You will not be reprimanded or ridiculed, rather your yoga teacher will honor your intention and is basically happy to just see your face in class.  Think of your yoga teacher as a guide that is helping you find your own way. Whatever way that is, is the right way. What ever pose you find yourself in, is the right pose. Whatever pace you are going, is the right pace. Get where I am going?

If you feel up to it, you can work at the poses at your pace and do what your body allows you to do. Everyone in your yoga class is there for the same reason, to focus on themselves. For some people, this is the only hour of their week that they can fully dedicate to themselves. So, does the person next to you care about how high up you can lift your left? Nope, not one bit. They care that you honor their space and have common yoga courtesy.

While I only fit in a yoga class once or twice a week, I continue to learn more about my ability on the yoga mat and the benefits of taking the time to focus on my breathing and my movements.  I have found that clearing my mind to just think about the flow of my body and breath is not an easy thing to do.  For me, it is actually the hardest part about yoga. I have a million things racing in my head and I am constantly having to remind myself to come back to being in the "now".  And that is what I love about yoga. For that hour, I am unconcerned with the world around me and am focusing on my "now" and that is all that is expected of me. No more, no less.

So my suggestion to anyone thinking about yoga is to remember that you are there for yourself. Don't walk into the yoga studio and scan the room to measure up those in attendance, rather walk in, roll out your mat, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and set your intention for the next hour. Your intention could be as simple as " I am here for the next hour and will not look at my cell phone." or "I am here for the next hour and will remember to fully breath in and breath out for each pose." Your intention can be anything you want it to be, but make it and allow yourself the time to fully embrace that intention. While the physical benefits of yoga are numerous, I also find just having the time to breath and clear your mind is invaluable.

Don't want to take the leap of stepping into a yoga studio? Classes too expensive?  There are still options! There are free yoga apps that you can download on your phone that guide you through standard yoga poses and you can also find endless videos on YouTube of yoga instruction.  I have also used www.yogadownload.com and love it! You can download free 20 min sessions and do them in the comfort of your living room. This is a great option for people that travel! Yoga in your hotel room! (there is a great yoga sessions for runners that I love!)

I do recommend that you try out an in-person class at least once or twice. There are always organizations that sponsor free community classes. Find one and try it out. It is extremely helpful to have a teacher to help you with poses and  you will pick up on important pieces of advice during your class.

Yoga is really for any age, ability, and size.  Your yoga is what you make of it and the more you practice the more you will find yourself going back to it when your body and emotions need time to recharge.

So as they say... NAMASTE.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why, hello again!

Hello dear readers!
I am so sorry for the sudden blogging hiatus.  I was doing such a great job of daily posts to update you on my Whole30 progress and puff...no mariza!

Well, good news, all is alright! Bad news, I have gotten a bit off track with my Whole30 challenge.

As I have said here on my blog and to anyone that has talked to me about Whole30, I truly believe in the program and the science behind eating good, clean food.  I am living proof that eating food that is not processed or filled with sugar can change your health and body composition. I have and will continue to eat a diet that is filled with fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, and healthy oils, but the other thing I truly believe in is listening to your body.

The combination of marathon training and Crossfit has been pretty demanding on my body.  While I was doing a great job eating 3 full meals and having a snack whenever I was hungry,  I could feel my long runs suffering and my recovery taking longer. So I listened to what my body was telling me and incorporated a bit more carbohydrates into my diet.   If I have a long run scheduled or long Crossfit WOD, I have been adding in some type of starchy carbohydrate.  It isn't something I am adding to my regular meals during the day but in my meal before my big workout.

I have found that it does make a difference in my endurance of I have some type of whole grain and/or starch in my pre-workout meal.  I have more energy and I don't feel completed depleted after my workout.

Now the only reason why I know what I need to eat and what I need to add to my diet is because I have done the Whole30 before.  When you take things out of your diet for a long period of time and start to slowly add them back, you know exactly how they make you feel. For example, I know that dairy makes my stomach hurt and brings back my allergies. So dairy is not an option for me.  I know that having some brown rice or oatmeal the night before a long run will give me the energy I need to run over 10 miles and still have a full day of activity after. I would have never known these things had I not gone through the Whole30 once and recognized the effect that different foods had on my body.

I will still eat a paleo diet 90% of the time, but will listen to my body when it needs a bit more for energy.  No one knows your body more than you, so it is important to listen and take care of your body, especially when you are asking so much of it. (ie. running a marathon!)

So stick with me as I experiment with balancing my nutritional needs with my physical demands.

Speaking of physical demands, I have some exciting news to share with you!

I recently signed up to compete in the Crossfit Capital Affiliate League.  This is a league of area Crossfit gyms that compete against each other for 5 weeks and ends with a tournament to name the champion.  I am on the lower division team with Crossfit South Arlington.   This weekend was our first competition and we won both our WODs (work out of the day)! There are two WODs for each competition and each team competes again one other team.
I was so very nervous for this competition. This isn't something I normally do, so I was completely out of my comfort zone. Up to seconds before we got started, I kept telling myself I had no business being around these other athletes that were super strong and fast!

Well,  nervous feelings aside, I committed to my team and I needed to compete.  4 of my other teammates competed in the first WOD and I competed with three other teammates in the 2nd WOD.  Once my WOD started there was no time to think about my nerves, I just focused my strength and energy on getting through each movement. It was a 20 min WOD with rotations after each minutes. It was HARD but also fun! The gym was full of spectators, many from our gym, that were yelling and helping each athlete get through each movement. Everyone was giving their all and pushing through the pain.

At the end of the day, yes we won both WODs, but there was no boasting or gloating. Rather everyone congratulated each other on a job well done. It is so fun to be a part of something where your competitors push you to be your best but are also there to have fun and make new friends.  Here are some great pictures from the day, courtesy of Becka Grapsy.

Can't wait until next weekend!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Whole30-Day 10

Happy Friday! Excited that it is Friday and excited that I am in double digits of the Whole30. Only 20 more days to go!
It was a rainy day where I could have easily stayed in my PJs all day and watched the Olympics. I am definitely going to have Olympic withdraws next week.  I took advantage of the rainy day to do some serious writing at work and was able to duck out in time to make it to a 5:30 barre class. There is a new barre studio in Clarendon called Lava Barre.

Barre studios are popping up everywhere in the DC area.  As a former dance studio and dance team member, I love the idea of a barre workout. Dancing is a great workout and barre classes are designed for a low impact workout that gives you long, lean muscles. And who doesn't want a dancer's body?! I have tried a few classes at a studio called Bar Method in DC and have also bought several DVDs for barre workouts. While a barre workout doesn't quite give you a cardio workout, it is a good overall workout that utilizes muscles you didn't know you have and incorporates lots of good stretching.  It is also surprising at who quickly the movements get your heart beat up! The local Clarendon Lululemon store does a great job of sponsoring free classes at neighborhood fitness studios and gyms. Every month a different studio is selected and free classes are offered to anyone! (Lulu gear not required) I have taken advantage of these free classes plenty of times. It is a great way to try something new and get in a free, fun workout.  From yoga classes, spin classes and yes, even Crossfit classes, they do a good job of mixing things up each month. So I was very excited to hear that this month's free class was at Lava Barre.  Most barre studios are pretty pricey so it is great to have the opportunity to try out a few classes for free before committing to a package.

The yoga studio

The barre studio (I look a bit like a creeper in this picture)

The workout and instructor were great. As expected, the arm portions of the workout were the hardest for me. I was surprised at how strong my legs have become and how long it took for the burn to start in my legs. I guess all those squats are paying off! A typical workout includes about 5 mins of working each of the major muscle groups and stretching after each group is worked. I knew I was in trouble when my abs started burning after the warm up.  Engaging your core is a big focus here and you are reminded of that the entire hour! The instructor did a good job of choreographing good music to each of the movements and keeping a good pace for all the movements. One of the things I don't like about the DVDs is the pace. After watching the DVDs a few times, you understand the form and movements and don't need all the instruction, so they can get a bit slow. This class moved really quickly and you were always being challenged. Although, I saw a few people that looked very new to barre and could have used a bit more instruction on alignment and tucking!

They don't look heavy, but get super heavy after awhile!

Again, looks innocent, but cause some serious hurting!
This was a fun workout and a good way to end a Friday. I am pretty sure my abs and arms will be pretty sore tomorrow! I have signed up for the next free class and am looking forward to it!

Whole30 Update:

  • Breakfast: 2 eggs, scrambled
  • Lunch: Chipotle salad with steak
  • Snack: cup of almonds and plum
  • Dinner: bunless hamburger with avocado and sweet potato
  • Workout: Barre 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Whole30-Day 9

Today was a bit of a fail. I didn't fall off the Whole30 wagon, but I failed at preparation. Remember I said I was going to a all day conference today? Well, I elected to sleep in a little bit more than I had planned and only had about 30 mins to get ready by the time I climbed out of bed.
30 mins is more than enough time for me to get ready and out the door but it meant no breakfast.
I grabbed a banana for the road hoping that the conference would have fresh fruit or possibly even eggs?Nope. They had coffee and pastries.
So I snacked on a bag of almonds I had in my purse and drank lots of hot tea.
Lunch rolled around and I was hoping for a nice buffet of meat and salad....Nope. Box lunches.
Each box included a sandwich, bag of chips, the biggest chocolate chip cookie ever, pasta salad and an apple.
I ate the chicken out of the sandwich and polished off the apple.  To head off my hunger, I was drinking lots of water and tea.  I came home about an hour before my Crossfit workout and quickly ate a bowl of kale and a plum but didn't want a full belly for my workout.  After my workout, I took Sasha for a long walk and we checked out a neighborhood concert that they have every Thursday night during the summer. Since I had Sasha, I was not able to go into any of the restaurants, but strapped her to a tree where she could see me and ran into a Subway and ordered their roasted chicken breast salad. It was pretty bad. I would not recommend it at all, but I guess that is why you get sandwiches from Subway and not salads. Lesson learned.

So had I been a bit more prepared for my day with pre-cooked food and snacks, I would not have been so hungry and sluggish all day. Not a big deal, but something that I will remember next time I am at a conference.

Despite my hungry day, I am excited that tomorrow is Friday and even more excited about the USA women's soccer win. YAY! What an exciting game! Too bad the Olympics are coming to a close. I have really enjoyed watching them and learning about all the different sports. Normally I would just watch swimming and gymnastics, but I am really loving all the events that I can catch on TV! Esp. women's track! Whoa..those girls are amazing!

Day 9 food:
  • Breakfast: Banana
  • Snack: almonds
  • Lunch: handful of sliced chicken breast, tomato slice and apple
  • Snack: plum and bowl of kale
  • Dinner: nasty subway salad with roasted chicken
  • Snack: apple with sun butter
  • Workout: Crossfit: Broad jumps (fun!) and WOD- 3 rounds of: 800 m run, 10 broad jump burpees, 15 kettle bell push ups, and 30 kettle bell swings

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Whole30-Day 8

I am not sure if it was the rainy day or the super humid weather, but I was TIRED today. No energy. Zero.
My job requires sitting at my desk all day and doing a lot of staring into 2 computer screens. So when I am in the zone and working furiously on something, time does fly by but I end up feeling mentally and physically exhausted even though I didn't get up from my seat! Do you ever have those days?  Today was definitely one of those days. I came home and flew straight into the couch. Left overs for dinner tonight!

  • Breakfast: banana with sun butter
  • Snack: plum and cup of almonds
  • Lunch: grilled chicken and steamed broccoli and green beans
  • Snack: fruit cup (pineapple, grapes, and melon)
  • Dinner: left over roasted chicken, kale, and roasted spaghetti squash
  • Snack: banana and handful of mixed nuts
  • Workout: Crossfit WOD: 5x5 back squats
Lunch from work cafeteria 

I have noticed with 6 am workouts that I am hungry by 10 am. I need to do a better job of having a bigger breakfast or having a breakfast #2 so I am not snacking so much on fruit during the day. 

On a more exciting note, I did some school supply shopping tonight. FUN! Seriously, what is it about a box of newly sharpened crayons that gets me so excited?! I absolutely love new school supplies. I may or may not have bought myself a coloring book and crayons. 
The other schools supplies I bought will go to a local 1st grader that was part of an "adopt a family" program that Arlington county puts together to help kids in need of school supplies. I wish I could help this little guy get ready for his first day, but since that might be a little creepy for him, I will just send on the supplies I bought him.  He will be on my mind though on the first day when he is strutting to school with this cool lunch box: 

I am at a full day conference tomorrow, so wish me luck avoiding all the gluten-laden break food that will be freely available. 

Whole30-Day 7

Yay, one week of Whole30 in the books! While week one is done, I never anticipated the first week being the hardest.  Since I have done the Whole30 before, I was ready for the cravings and withdraws, but what I fear is the anticipation of just how long 30 days can be. In hindsight, 30 days is just a blink in time, but when you are thinking about when your next slice of pizza and glass of wine will be served to you, 30 days seems like an eternity! One day at a time....

Today was bagel and breakfast pastry day in the office. So while I was stacking my Tupperware full of lunch in the refrigerator, I was stopped by everyone that came into the kitchen to slice their bagel. I will not lie, as my co-workers were standing there talking to me about the dreaded conference call they have scheduled, all I could think concentrate on was the buttery smell of the bagel.  So I nodded in agreement to everything they said, grabbed a cup of hot green tea to occupy my hands and quickly slipped out of the kitchen. Whew! Survived bagel day unscathed!

Food today:

  • Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs cooked in coconut oil and a banana (yup, I am pretty boring with this meal)
  • Lunch: Left over beef stir-fry with chopped avocado and a plum (plums are super sweet right now, I must get more)
  • Snack: cup of almonds
  • Pre-yoga snack: spoon of sun butter
  • Dinner: Chicken drumsticks and kale
  • Workout: yoga
Since starting the Whole30 the first time and trying to stick with a paleo diet all the time, I have developed a love affair with kale. Holy moley, kale is good stuff.  I am not a fan of cooked greens even in the case of kale, but LOVE having kale when it is chilled and deliciously flavored. 
My favorite way to eat kale is to mix olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce/coconut aminos, and sesame seed oil. Whisk together and rub on the kale. Yup, use your best kitchen tools, your hands, and rub the dressing into the kale. Let the kale sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or over night. Kale is a strong green and will hold up nicely when dressed and in the refrigerator. I could eat bowls of this! 
Kale is also great in your morning green smoothie! 

Here are some of my other favorite kale recipes (not necessarily Whole30 compliant): 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Whole30-Day 6

Opps...Day 6 kind of slipped past me.  Monday nights are a bit busy. Typically, I rush home from work to make dinner and try to eat before 6:30 pm. I have swimming lessons at 8 and try to get to the pool by 7:45, so eating dinner early is a priority.
Swimming ends at 9 and Sasha is patiently waiting for me at 9:15 for her nightly walk. On swim nights I am ready to go to bed immediately.  I am amazed at how tired I am after swimming.  I like to think generally I am in good physical shape, but swimming kicks my butt! I am out of breath after one lap and wake up the next morning feeling sore in muscles that I didn't know I had.  In addition to having the immediate urge to climb in bed after a swim workout, I also get a crazy craving for ice cream! What is it about swimming that makes you want to eat ice cream?! Maybe it is the Baskin Robins that is conveniently located right by the pool!
I fought the craving and took Sasha for a walk and came home to eat an apple with sun butter. YUM sun butter! And then slept hard! I was out in minutes and next thing I knew it was day light. I love those kinds of nights. That is the one thing I notice immediately when doing the Whole30. I sleep so good. I fall asleep quickly and wake up with lots of energy.

I came across these interesting facts on sleep:
  • You could lose 14 pounds a year if you just traded one hour of TV for one hour of sleep.
  • 23% of people get less than 6 hours of sleep a night, only 7% get at least 8 hours
  • Getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night increases your risk of heart attack by 100% (yikes!)
  • One night without sleep leaves you performing like you were legally drunk at a blood alcohol content of 0.08
  • Longer sleep is associated with higher IQ in children
  • A single night of sleep can more than double our ability to come up with novel solutions to difficult problems
Does reading this make you want to take a nap?

So an important part of doing the Whole30 and trying to be the healthiest you all the time is getting enough sleep! I think people, myself included, find many excuses as to why sleep is not a priority. "I need to watch this movie, I need to work late tonight, I need to surf the Internet for the billionth hour, I need do the laundry, etc, etc" While all those things are surely important, but not getting enough sleep and being able to function at your best will catch up to you. Sure you can pull an all nighter every so often, but continuing a pattern of little sleep will not only make you a cranky person to be around, but will make you unhealthy and will put you on a path to unhealthy behavior.

So get some zzzzzzs!

My eats for Day 6:
  • Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs cooked in coconut oil and banana
  • Lunch: sweet potato with coconut oil, roasted chicken, and a plum
  • Snack: cup of almonds
  • Dinner: Beef stir fry with steamed broccoli and a LARGE side of roasted cauliflower.
  • Snack: apple with sun butter
  • Workout: Swim-30 mins of 25m laps
I never used to like cauliflower until I discovered what roasting cauliflower can do! My favorite way to eat it is to sprinkle it with olive oil, salt and curry powder, put on a baking sheet and roast on 400 degrees for about 25 mins. I like to roast it until the ends get brown and crispy. THE BEST!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Whole30-Day 5

Oh how I love lazy Sundays.  Sleeping in and watching Andy Murray win the gold medal in tennis made for a nice, slow morning.  No workout for this gal. After lounging around all morning, I took advantage of one of my many yoga DVDs and stretched out all the soreness that resulted from yesterday's brutal workout.  And to make sure all the soreness was completely gone, I treated myself to a  massage. Ah...perfect way to spend a Sunday. Yoga, massage and Olympic watching!

While the day is not over yet, I think I can successfully say that I made it through the whole weekend without any Whole30 cheats! YAY for me! Weekends are tough and ice cream is sitting my in freezer calling my name but here are some of the ways I combat cravings and temptations:

  • If I am craving something, I get some water to drink. Preferably with lemon or lime.  That is normally enough to distract me and quench my craving.
  • Get out of the kitchen. Have you ever found yourself staring inside the pantry waiting for something delicious to just manifest itself? I do this all the time, esp. when I am trying to comply with Whole30.  So when I feeling cravings coming on, I stay as far away from the kitchen as possible. This may seem like a no brainer, but going for a walk, run, or running an errand can work wonders in distracting you. 
  • Eat protein. Having some pre-made chicken or boiled eggs handy really helps. If you are hungry and don't have the patience to cook something, it will be easy to grab that bag of chips to satisfy your hunger. 
  • Out of sight, out of mouth.  Don't even tempt yourself, clean out the pantry for 30 days. Pack away food that you don't want to eat or give it away.  This is hard to do when you live with someone that isn't eating the same as you, so in that case, put their food out of sight. Make sure the first thing you see when you open the freezer is not the box of ice cream!
  • Bring out the yoga mat. Even if you only know 1 or 2 yoga poses, spending 5 mins doing them and just breathing can be enough to get you focused on feeling good enough that you will remember how badly that piece of bread with butter will make you feel. Stretch, breath, and focus. 
  • Don't feed the fire. Sugar cravings can be the worst! Really! You can have headaches, screaming at your family, and basically turning into a sugar demon. When you have a sugar craving, don't feed it with more sugar.  Even though fruit is Whole30 compliant, don't pick up an apple when you get that late night craving for something sweet.  Back to my 3rd point above, eat protein. 
What are your tips for beating cravings? 

My Sunday fuel: 
  • Breakfast: 2 cups of shredded chicken breast (low on groceries!)
  • Lunch: Chipotle steak salad (yes, chipotle again, so delicious!)
  • Dinner: Whole roasted chicken and steamed squash
  • Workout: 1 hour yoga and massage (yes, I count a massage as a workout)
Too bad tomorrow is Monday :(

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Whole 30-Day 4

Today was a special day at our Crossfit gym.  CF gyms across the country and world united to do the same workout, "The 31 Heros WOD". This WOD is dedicated to honor the 30 men and 1 military dog killed in action on August 6, 2011.  What started as a workout shortly after the event to raise money quickly grew to over 430 gyms hosting the WOD.  You can see a list of names of those we honor at the 31heroes website.

So the WOD was:
AMRAP 31 minutes

  • 8 thrusters (85#)
  • 30 pullups + 30 burpees
  • 11 box jumps + 11 burpees
This was a partner workout that was scaled. So as partner #1 was doing the work above, partner #2 was running 400 m with a 25# plate. 

This was a tough one. Somehow I always ended up doing burpees and box jumps, while my partner did thrusters and pullups. So 31 mins of running, burpees and box jumps left my legs VERY tired. 

After that work out, our Crossfit Affiliate League team did another 31 min workout!  This 31 min AMRAP (done about 20 mins after the first AMRAP) consisted of: 
  • 12 burpees
  • 15 kettlebell swings (16 kg)
  • 18 sit ups
  • 400 m run with 25# sandbag
It was quite the workout, esp. after doing another 31 min AMRAP.  Crossfit WODs are not normally more than 30 mins, so doing two 30 min workout was unusual and really tough, but it will help build my endurance and get ready for the DC Crossfit Affiliate League competition. (more on this later)

I mistakenly slept in a bit late so didn't have breakfast before my workout. Boy, did I regret that! Had I known I was in for 2 hours at the gym, I would have fueled a bit better. Lesson learned! 

Here is what my day of food consisted of: 
  • Breakfast: handful of dried mango
  • Lunch: grilled chicken salad with apples, grapes, and strawberries
  • Dinner: Chipotle salad bowl with carnitas. Super yum!!
After a long workout, I did not have much energy to do very much today. A movie, nap, Olympic watching, dog walk and now curling up to a book make up my Saturday. 
Looking forward sleeping really well tonight!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Whole 30-Day 3

Another day down! Overall, another good Whole30 day. No serious cravings but I had the urge to nap ALL day! I gave into the urge around 6 pm and woke up ravenous!
My eats for the day include:

  • Breakfast: Banana with 2 tablespoons of sunbutter
  • Lunch: grilled chicken, hard boiled egg, roasted brussels sprouts, and watermelon (yum!)
  • Dinner: Omelet with bacon, peppers, & onions with a side fruit salad
Tomorrow is Saturday, which is normally started with baking cinnamon rolls or waffles. There is no doubt the weekend will be my biggest challenge.  To avoid giving into temptation, I am planning a hard Saturday morning workout and Sunday morning bike ride, a big Whole30 grocery shopping trip,  a trip to the pool, yoga, and a massage.  I have found I am much more likely to stay compliant when I am doing things that make me feel good and utilize all the energy I am gaining from cleaning up my diet. Of course, digging into a good book and taking lots of naps is on my agenda too. Naps certainly help! 

To prep for my grocery shopping trip, I am planning out my lunches and dinner for next week. I will admit, I was not really prepared to start the Whole30 this week. Luckily I had a few things in the fridge to get me through the week and I was took advantage of the salad bar for lunch, but I am hoping to go into next week more prepared. I have stumbled across this great site: Nom Nom Paleo. There are so many GREAT, yummy recipes that I really want to try.  I am going to pick a few for next week and will report back on how they turn out.  

Happy Friday Everyone!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Whole30-Day 2

For most people that do the Whole30, day 1 isn't really that big of a deal. You may eat differently compared to the day before, but one day doesn't leave you feeling deprived or going through withdraws.  As I have previously mentioned, my diet as a whole has been pretty clean and very low on sugar for the past year so I don't anticipate experiencing too many withdraws or cravings, but I think the thing I will struggle with is hunger!
This morning I started the day with a 6 am Crossfit class. It has been a VERY long time since I have been to a 6 am class. So after finishing up a tough workout, I was able to have my breakfast around 8 am but by 10 am, I was starving! I must be better prepared for morning workouts and hunger strikes!

Despite my desire to eat my keyboard, I had a pretty good Day 2!
  • Breakfast: 2 eggs cooked in tablespoon of coconut oil and a banana
  • Lunch: A cob salad the size of my head (included avocado, turkey breast, tomatoes, 2 hard boiled eggs)
  • Snack: cup of grapes
  • Dinner: beef fajita steak and 1 avocado
  • Workout: Crossfit-20 min AMRAP
    • Run 400 m
    • 20 hand release push ups
    • 5 push jerks (65#)
Day 3 will be the start of my weekend. That is when the real challenge begins! 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Whole30-Day 1

How is it August already? I don't really even remember June and July actually happening! Well, despite the fact that summer is flying by quicker than most of us would like to realize, I am looking forward to cooler temperatures, marathon training, and the Whole30! The Whole30? What exactly is that? I wrote a little about the Whole30 back in December. About 4 months into joining Crossfit South Arlington last year I took part in a 6 week nutritional challenge. The challenge was based off the of the framework and concepts of the Whole30. 

The concept of Whole30 is actually quite simple. Eat REAL food! No processed food or food with added sugar or additives, and stay away from grains. So what do you actually eat? You eat meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, healthy oils, nuts and seeds.  While this is not necessarily a diet (if you need to lose a few pounds, you most likely will) I like to think of this as more of a reset for your body. After feeding your body nutrient dense food for 30 days you feel an amazing amount of energy and you start to recognize how positively your body reacts to eating this way.  For me I did lose weight, but also found that my allergies went away, my skin cleared up and I was able to sleep like a baby!

As cheesy as it may sound, doing the Whole30 did change my life. It wasn't another diet, rather is was learning about food and how my body reacts to it.  As you may know, I LOVE food and love cooking, so diets have always been hard for me but after doing the Whole30 I was able to appreciate and taste what good food should really taste like. When things are not covered in sauce and butter, you learn to really taste things and figure out what you like and don't like. Since doing the Whole30 for the first time last year, I have been somewhat consistent with eating that way all the time.  I am pretty flexible with weekends, but I find that my body can't handle more than 2-3 meals a week of food that contain sugar, grains, or dairy. I start to feel tired, my allergies come back and I start to crave other bad food. It is a vicious cycle. The Whole30 has not only peaked my interested into learning more about nutrition, but has changed the way I feel about food and eating.

So it is time to do another Whole30 and today is DAY 1! My goals for this round are different.  As you know, I am training for a marathon, century ride, and doing Crossfit regularly, so my goals are focused on performance and fueling my body to withstand all that activity. I need energy!! There is a great goals worksheet available for those interested at the wonderful Whole9 website.  I am still working on thinking through this, so will share more later when I have completed it.

So here are the things I will not be eating for the next 30 days:
  • added sugar, real or artificial
  • Alcohol
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
  • White potatoes
Since I have done this before, I am actually excited about the next 30 days! I know it will not be easy but I love the way I feel when I am consistently eating well. When life gets crazy and stressful (which it is now), I rely heavily on other things to give me the energy and balance I need to get through it all.

So have I convinced you to join me?  It may sound extreme and for some people it is, but I like the concept of challenges. If the Whole30 is too much to take on right now, I challenge you to take on something else for 30 days with me. Maybe for the next 30 days you will not drink soda, or you will get 8 hours of sleep each night, or take a 30 min walk every day. Any small change you can do consistently for 30 days will fuel other changes in your life. Trust me. When you are able to cross days of the calendar and look back on your consistency you will realize you are capable of doing something great for yourself. 

In addition to sticking to the Whole30 for the next 30 days, I also plan to blog EVERY SINGLE day for the next 30 days. It may not be long or detailed, but I will post something every day about how the Whole30 is going for me! Keep reading and sharing with me your experiences if you decide to do a monthly challenge.

For more info and a plethora of resources about the Whole30, visit Welcome to the Whole30.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Protein Pancakes

When you omit flour and sugar from your diet you may find that breakfast no longer has the appeal that it use to. Gone are the days of muffins, pastries, pancakes, waffles, or cereal.  While this all sounds devastating and may leave you wondering why anyone would ever give up those beautiful breakfast entrees, there is still hope. For me, breakfast is usually a couple of eggs and a piece of fruit. Or if time permits, I will make myself a big green smoothie. Throw in a banana with some almond butter and you have a go-to meals for breakfast each morning. I make it a point to NEVER miss breakfast. No matter how late I am running in the morning, breakfast gets made or at least assembled. I have found that skipping breakfast sets me up for a long day of always being hungry and snacking mindlessly. If I can start the day with a full tummy, I am more productive and have more energy to get me through the day.

Now I will be the first to tell you that my favorite breakfast foods use to be a fluffy crossiant or big bowl of cold cereal or a nice slice of homemade bread with butter. (I won't lie, I still indulge in these treats on the during the occasional weekend breakfast) But if you think about the goes into making those popular breakfast items, you realize you are essentially starting your day by throwing cups of flour, sugar, and butter into your body. Not the ideal way to start the day.

Every Tuesday at work they are gracious enough to bring in fresh bagels and pastries. You can find the whole office squeezed into the break room slicing their bagels and slathering them with heaps of flavored cream cheese. I will admit to having one on occasion. I mean the first thing you learn in college is to never pass up free food! That seems to be a habit that no one can break! And the interesting thing is I find myself eating it very quickly, as if my body won't notice that I am eating this carb-filled contraption if I eat as fast as I can.  Silly! It doesn't take long for the emotional and physical regret to come on. I immediately want to take a nap, I start to think about how long it is until lunch time and I start to rationlize how acceptable it would be for me to just get one more bagel with maybe less cream cheese this time. And the visious cycle begins.

So to beat the breakfast monotony and ensure I never set succumb to the bagel demons, I am trying to diversify my breakfast foods and find things that are quick and easy to make in the morning but also leave me feeling full until lunch time!

One thing I have recently found to be extra yummy is protein pancakes! These pancakes don't require any sugar or flour, but actually only require 4 items.
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter
Mix the banana (this works better with ripe bananas), egg and almond butter together until they are well combined and form a smooth batter.  This is easily done in a food processor.

Heat the coconut oil in skillet on medium-low heat. And pour a 1/3 of the batter in. ( I can usually get three small pancakes out of this recipe).
The trick here is to cook on low for about 3 minutes on each side. They will burn easily if the heat is too high.

They are not the prettiest pancake in the world, but they are really yummy. I slathered mine with some sunbutter and sprinkled some chia seeds for  added crunch. Served with some sweet cherries and you have the perfect protein filled breakfast!

Here are some other protein pancake receipes that I am eager to add to my menu:
OMG. Pancakes! from Carrots n Cake
Blueberry Flax Protein Pancakes from Eat Spin Run Repeat
Basic Protein Pancake Recipe from Busy But Healthy
The Perfect Protein Pancake from The Fitnesssista

Give it a try! You will find that you are sufficiently full from a quick breakfast and will be jumping off the walls while your colleagues battle the mid-morning fatigue.

Here are some breakfast facts that I found interesting:
  • people who skip breakfast tend to crave more carbohydrates later in the day
  • people who skip breakfast weigh more and have more unhealthy habits
  • people who eat breakfast everyday are 34% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who skip breakfast
  • people who eat egg proteins for breakfast are more likely to feel full during the day
  • people who skip breakfast also tended to have higher cholesterol, elevated insulin levels, and larger waist circumferences

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Minor accomplishments

One of things I love about Crossfit is that you are constantly competing against yourself.  You can go into the gym every day and get by with minimal effort without anyone calling you out. OR you can go into the gym each day and push yourself harder than you ever have. The only person that will keep you accountable is yourself. The only way you will ever make progress and get stronger is if you are constantly pushing yourself to try harder and not giving up. I will admit that there is a lot of stuff in Crossfit that I can't do, but that is what keeps me coming back each week. I look back at where I was last year and my list of "I can't do that" was pretty long. But with consistent work, I am slowing cutting that list shorter and shorter.  Crossfit workouts can be as hard as you make them. You run slow, lift light and call it a day. Or push yourself to be a bit faster and stronger then you were last time. There is something about being around other people that do this day in and day out that motivates you to become a better version of yourself.  There are so many instances in life where I find myself saying, "I can't do that" and walk away, but in Crossfit I don't find myself doing that.  Never once have the words "I can't" come out of my mouth while in the crossfit box.  Rather, I suck it up, modify, and give it a try. If I fail, that is ok. I just try it again.  And while some things take longer than others, I always succeed.
Yesterday was one of those days that I succeeded at something that I have been working on for a LONG time.
I did my first double unders! What is a double under you ask? A double under is passing the jump rope under your feet twice in one jump. Sounds simple, but for me, it has been a struggle.  I have gotten really good at jump roping but the double unders always been a struggle for me. Until yesterday. I didn't do anything differently, but remembered everything my coaches have told me and went for it.  And when it finally happened for the first time, I was in shock because it was so easy! Now that I know what one feels like, I can do several of them. WooHoo! I still have a lot of practice to do to get better, but now I can do them! I am so glad that I continued to stick with these and work on getting it accomplished. It may be a minor accomplishment, but each minor accomplishment whether in Crossfit or in life adds up to a better, stronger, and happier me. On to the next challenge...overhead squats...ugh...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Just keep swimming

Talk about a blog hiatus! It's been awhile since my last post.  Unfortunately, I do not have a great excuse for my lack of posting, rather just letting all the things in my life that keep me busy take priority. Now as I look at the calendar and realize we are already half way through the month of July, I am shocked that the summer has gone by so quickly and that school supplies are already lining the store aisles. I will admit that I always get a bit excited when I see school supplies being put out. For most, the sight of pencils and backpacks is enough to make you cringe, but for me, those sights signal the best time of year! For me, new school supplies meant another school year, which I was always excited for! A shameless admittance...despite the fact that I have been out of school for too many years to count, I still stock up on a few supplies in August. I can't help myself!! Aside from Christmas, it is my most favorite time of the year!

 "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."  Do you know who said this and in what movie?? (hint..one of my all time favorite romantic comedies, cheesy but a fav)

Ok, now I have to redeem myself after that nerdy confession. 

Sadly, I am not going back to school when fall arrives, but I do have something else to get excited for!! Marathon season! That's right! Come September there will be full and half marathons happening every weekend around the country. I can name at least a dozen that are scheduled in the surrounding DC area. I couldn't be more excited! While I only plan to run a couple of half marathons and the full Marine Corp Marathon, the thought of race day adrenaline gives me the goosebumps! I am already laying out my training plans for the full marathon (on on this to come!) and searching through half marathon courses to pick which ones I want to run. I have some pretty ambitious goals for the full and half marathon, not to mention a 10k trail goal that I still need to meet, so I have to get my head back in the training mode. 

One goal that I did not set for myself this year, but is a long term goal of mine is to complete a sprint distance triathlon. A sprint triathlon is .47 mile swim, 12.4 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run. Doesn't sound too terrible for someone that has run a marathon, right? Well, the part that has me a bit on edge is the swim. .47 miles may not sound like much, but for someone whose best swimming stroke includes the doggy paddle, it is a BIG deal!

Yup, I'll put it out there. I am not a swimmer! I took swim lessons every summer at the YMCA growing up and did what I needed to do to get that certificate of completion, but somehow, I sneaked away from each class without any water confidence or real skills.  While I can keep afloat and tread water all day,  I have no idea how to do the proper strokes to get me from one end of the pool to the next. That coupled with a fear of deep waters do not make me the ideal candidate for a triathlon.

So here I am, an adult that wants to do a triathlon but doesn't know how to swim! Does this sound familiar? Do you know someone that wants to bike a century ride but doesn't own a road bike?
Small details...

So what am I going to do about it? I really do want to complete a triathlon. It might not happen in the next few months, but it will happen eventually and I can't let a little thing like the fear of water get in my way.  So I enrolled myself in adult swimming lessons!

Every Monday night I join about 5 other adults that are trying to become better swimmers. We are a diverse mix of folks. Some not even able to tread water, some not ready to get their head wet, and others trying to learn how to swim better for fitness and competition.  Last week was my first lesson and I will admit, I was really nervous, but after a few minutes in the water, I felt more confident in my ability to learn this new skill. Learning to swim as an adult is not easy. If you have ever watched a child swim, they are fearless and just jump in head first. Adults tend to over think things and let fear consume their ability. So much of my problem is my thinking and worrying. So I hoping these lessons will give me more confidence in the water, which will lead to more time in the pool to get ready to complete a triathlon! I'll keep you posted on how things go!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

It's that time again! I love that every month I can count on a box waiting for me that is full of delicious treats. I will admit, doing this for a few months, I am starting to run out of ideas of what I can send. I fear that my pen pal probably lives at Traders Joes and has eaten everything I have bought them (because that is where I have been loading up on goodies!) But lucky for me, my penpal for this month does not live near a Traders Joes and I was able to share some of their awesomeness with her. Head over to Fitness Girl Kitchen Stories to see what I sent Maria!

Now, back to my box! I got a great box from Mackenzie of Wealth is Health. (Check out her blog, a fellow Crossfit lover!)The best thing about foodie pen pals is that you get sent stuff you probably wouldn't normally buy for yourself, so it really is an indulgence to snack on the contents of your package throughout the month.
I am not the only one that waits eagerly for the package to arrive...
My package this month has lots of good stuff that I have never tried, which is hard since I like to eat everything. Actually, I take that back, I LOVE Luna bars and have had several, but my box contained a flavor that I have not had, Nutz Over Chocolate.  I had this for dessert last night and it was delicious. Just the right amount of chocolate to satisfy my craving. (And I kinda like to pretend these bars are made esp. for me since my maiden name is Luna...)

Chia Seeds! I have been wanting to buy these for a LONG time, but have just not gotten around to doing it. Now what to do with them??! I have no idea, but surely they can be thrown in my morning smoothie.

The other thing I am sure excited to try is Blueberry honey!! Sounds delicious, right? We are so happy to welcome Mr. Honey Bear to the family. He will surely be loved.
Oh, and I am afraid to report that these almonds, aka as the most addicting food ever, did not last longer than a few hours. They were coated in a sweet, savory something.... I am not sure what it is, but I was in love. I couldn't walk away.... It is a good thing that I have no idea what they were coated in, so I can't recreate or buy them again.
There was also some yummy granola and some key lime dip mix included. I can't wait to try both! Everything in this box was truly unique!

Thank you Mackenzie for treating me to many delicious, new goodies!

For more info on Foodie Pen Pals, visit The Lean Green Bean!
The Lean Green Bean

Monday, May 28, 2012

My own 13.1

There is no doubt that Washington DC is the place to be for Memorial Day weekend. While most natives flee as early as Thursday for the long weekend, there is much to be enjoyed here in the city.  Of the many planned events here there are MANY races scheduled. I was so very tempted to sign up for one. I even found myself browsing Craigslist for people selling bibs at a big discount, but the cheapest bib I found for the Alexandria Half Marathon was $50.
While normally I would be happy to pay $50 to run a half marathon, I decided I would save myself $50 and run my own half. So as soon as I got home on Friday I laced up the shoes, slapped on the sunscreen and filled up my water bottles. The weather was pretty warm and I initially planned to just run 6 miles, but once I hit 4 miles, I found my stride and there was a nice breeze following me along the way. 10 miles quickly came and at that point, I decided I would run the whole half marathon distance.
While I missed the screaming crowds normally present during a half marathon,  my run took me along the Potomac River, through Roosevelt Island and back south on Mt. Vernon Trail to Old Town Alexandria. It was a great 13 miles that went fairly quickly. I could have used at least one more water foundation, so I will have to keep that in mind when I set out to run longer than 2 hours again.  Here are a few of the great views I get to enjoy in my "backyard"!

Not quite a PR, but not bad for a Friday afternoon run.

I may take this statement back at some point, but I think going for a long run on Friday afternoon is the best way to start the weekend! 13.1, less or more....helps to get out your stress from the week and set you up for a good weekend! Or at least you have a reason to indulge all weekend if you run 13.1 miles on Friday, right?!

The rest of the weekend was filled with dog walks, naps, eating, and reading.  Sasha is a big fan of lounging in the sun and enjoying these warm days! 

 In addition to getting in a good long run on Friday, this morning I did a Hero WOD. In Crossfit, Hero WODs (work out of the day) are developed to honor service men and women who have lost their lives in combat. The workouts are known to be TOUGH and are designed to really test you! The Hero WODs that I have done last anywhere from 30-90 mins. Normal WODs last about 20 mins. So anytime a holiday rolls around, our gym hosts a Hero WOD and you know you are in for a real good workout.
Today's Hero WOD was "The Seven".  On December 30, 2009, a suicide bomber killed seven CIA officers at a remote base in southeastern Afghanistan.  So to honor them, we did 7 rounds of the following:

  • 7 handstand push-ups
  • 7 thrusters
  • 7 knees to elbows
  • 7 deadlifts
  • 7 burpees
  • 7 kettlebell swings
  • 7 pull-ups
My team of 4 finished in 44:07. It was not easy and left me completely exhausted, but that is what Crossfit is suppose to do if you push yourself hard enough. I will most likely be feeling this workout for many days to come. It makes yoga tomorrow sound really good! 

And my reward for finishing a half marathon distance run and Hero WOD.... my favorite oatmeal cookie. The salted, pecan, chocolate oatmeal cookie from Teasim. If you haven't had one of these, GO NOW to try one. They are delicious!

I hope everyone had a great weekend and spent some time reflecting and thanking those who have served our country.

Monday, May 21, 2012

EX2 Adventure 10k Recap

The weekend weather was sunny and in the high 70s. Perfect weather like that could only mean one thing in my mind....running a race! I will admit it is hard to get out of bed at 6 am on a Saturday but when you have a trail race scheduled, it is almost too hard to sleep.
I have been anxiously awaiting this race for a few reasons. One of those reasons being that it was a trail race. I don't do much trail running (this only being my 2nd trail race) but I actually really enjoy it and always wish I would take more time to go out and do it more often. Of course you don't need to sign up for a race to actually go out and run on trails, but it is nice to have someone else lay out the course and get things prepared for you. This trail race took place in Prince William Forest. This is one of my favorite DC area trails. It is a short 30 min drive from DC and there are plenty of streams and small waterfalls to enjoy. If you live in the DC area, please go check it out for yourself!

This is my 2nd time running this particular race and I enjoyed the trail just as much as I remember. It was a good combination of steep hills and flat terrain.
The other reason that I was particularly excited about this race is because racing and finishing a trail 10k in under 60 mins is one of my running goals for 2012. Last year I did the same race and finished in 1:17:00 which is pretty long for a 10k but it was one of my first races and first ever trail race.
Despite having a pretty diappointing time for my first 10k race, I really enjoyed the race and wanted to do better. As I look back at that race, it really was the impetus for me to start focusing on getting healthier and more physically fit. I really struggled to finished those 6.2 miles especially the hills and I really wanted to be able to hang with the other runners. So I remember finishing that race not terribly happy with my 1:17:00 time, but determined to start doing things that would make me more capable of doing races like this. And this was a race that Brian and I did together and I wanted to be able to hang with him in other races if that was something that we decided to start doing together.

Post-10k smile...
So a year later, many pounds lighter and with much more strength to run up hills, I plowed through the 10k course and had a great time. At the end I was actually wishing it would go for a few more miles (they have a 13.1 mile course that I will def. be signing up for next year!). Unfortunately, I did not meet my goal of finishing under 60 mins. I finished at 63:20. I was wearing my garmin so I knew I wasn't going to make it but still pushed through and finished as quickly as I could.
While I am disappointed that I didn't make my goal time, I had such a fun time racing and it was such a different experience from the first time I ran that course. I am completely ok with not meeting my goal this time and I am actually excited to have a reason to run another 10k trail run before the year is over.
And look what else is pretty exciting:

 I came in 5th place in my age group!! Woohoo!! No need to talk about how big my age group was....BUT....still exciting that I was not second to last, which was the case last year!

I would highly recommend EX2 Adventure races to anyone!! They are really well organized and are usually pretty small.

Any race that has this waiting for you at the end:

is a winner in my book! Watermelon and sprite...my two best friends!