Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Status Report

Faster Than the Speed of Time!

We have less than a week left in June!! I can't believe I'm closing in on this running challenge.  Yesterday was my first scheduled rest day.  I've been filling so many pockets of time with squeezing in mileage that I found myself feeling a little panicked the first half of the day, pacing.  By the evening I'd fully embraced the break and was able to utilize the time and energy wisely.

In case you missed it, let me briefly recap what I've been doing:  For the month of June I am running 1/2 mile for each day in the month (meaning I'm adding an additional 1/2 mile each day).  I have allowed myself 2 scheduled skip days of which I have one left.  I'm still exercising as I typically would and the running is in addition to what I'd normally be doing.

The most apparent lesson I've recognized repeatedly is that I was able to find time where I thought I had none.  Time I would normally consider "too short to be useful" I've turned into enough time to run a lap or I've used it to take care of something on my "to do" list so that I'd have more time to run later.  But most of all, I've been overwhelming reminded that time is our most precious commodity and I had been wasting it!

What is making this goal work?

1) Committing publicly.  This holds me accountable.  I've been answering to people daily about where I am with my laps.

Trust me, I felt like running at first, but there have been days where I've had to dig…really deep to get it done.

2) Making it measurable.  I put an actually distance to the challenge.  If I just said I was going to "do more cardio"- I'd lack structure and be more likely to take it too easy on myself.   It's much easier to manage a goal that you can measure.  Speaking of measuring things…how cool is this table runner??

3) Making it big :) Big enough to be exciting but not so big that it feels like a hopeless cause.  If it's not challenging, it's hardly worth the precious time.  I'm trying to set myself up to feel proud.  When you do this, don't be afraid to celebrate your accomplishment.  Chances are, no one will be throwing me a party at the end.  Don't be afraid to celebrate your own victories!  You deserve it :) Plus, you never know who you might be inspiring.


In case you were wondering how I'm feeling (thanks for asking ;)), I actually feel pretty great.  I've had days where my legs feel light and bouncy and days where they feel like lead.  Today they felt fantastic (especially after the rest day yesterday).  I have a feeling they will be sore tomorrow.  I've had days where my runs are the most enjoyable part of the day and days where I want to punch my own face for setting this goal.  I have had tendinitis in my ankle which flares up occasionally, but it's cooperated nicely with this challenge.  On a side note…my shoulder hurts…I'm assuming this was not caused from running.

Your turn!  Tell me about a challenge or goal you've been contemplating!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Run Like You're Late for Something!

It's that time of the Month...

No, not "that" time…but the time when we reveal our monthly 'Focus on Fitness' at the gym.  Each month we focus on targeting a specific goal so that we can record measurable progress in a fitness related area that isn't just pounds or inches lost.

This month the focus is endurance.  While there are countless ways to measure progress in this area, we chose to focus on cardiovascular endurance through running.  For those that choose to participate, we have a program that we are incorporating into their training.  I wanted to do something myself as well, so I came up with this [instantly regrettable] idea.

The loop around the exterior perimeter of our gym's parking lot is 1/2 mile.  Each day in the month of June (our Focus on Endurance month), I will run the 1/2 mile loop the number of times that is equivalent to the number of days in the month i.e.: 6/1= 1 half mile loop, 6/2= 2 half mile loops…6/30=30 half mile loops!  If you are no mathematician, I shall clarify:  By the last day of the month I will be running 15 miles.  Here are a few questions (and answers) that ran through my head:

Q: Is this a good idea?
A: Likely not. 

Q: Is this one of my worst ideas yet?
A: Probably (except for that time I decided I wanted to be a professional softball player after watching A League of Their Own and then ended up with a fat lip and almost lost my 2 front teeth).

Q: Am I still going to do this even though I know it to be a less than fantastic idea?

Q: Is it going to kill me?
A: Probably not (unless I'm hit by a car en route)

I'm not even one to often sing praises of running, but this month…I just feel like running :)

So here is the deal.  I have to get the laps in that day (can't carry over laps or pre-run them for the next day), but I don't have to do them consecutively.  I can do a few, do something else, do a few more, etc.  Or, I can run straight through.  Also, walking, jogging & running are all acceptable.  Finally, I am allowed to pick 2 days to skip.  They can't be consecutive and I can't skip the last day of the month.  This is the teeny weeny sensible part of my brain talking, know that it's important to give your body a rest.  I will keep you posted on how I'm feeling.  Please know that I respect all runners.  I'm not the fastest or the slowest.  I can't run the farthest, but I respect the distance I can run.  Don't compare yourself as a runner to other runners.  Much like yoga, the only thing you should be measuring is what's happening within the frame of your own body.  Don't let ego get in the way and be kind to yourself for what you've accomplished. I'm on day 4 now, so here is a brief recap of the first 4 days.

So far, there isn't much to report.  I'm still at a pretty easy distance for me.  I've been able to run the entire time.  I've only timed myself once and I was at about a 7:40 pace.

When I run, I rarely take an iPod with me.  I usually just listen to nature and my breath, but inevitably a song gets stuck in my head at some point during my run.  Usually instigated by daily events.

Day 1:  'Telephone' by Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce (my phone was ringing off the hook all day)
Day 2:  'Pontoon' by Little Big Town (I ran past a pontoon boat)
Day 3: The Mr. Roger's theme song (It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood)
Day 4: Puff the Magic Dragon (some guy was smoking when I jogged by, not a fan)

Please note that I am not encouraging others to do exactly what I'm doing.  I am encouraging you to find a physical (or mental) challenge that is right for you and approved by your doctor.  I always encourage letting your body be your guide.

Finally, a few side notes:

a) I've never ran more than 6 consecutive miles before (I've walked more, but that's my longest running distance).
b) I've never aspired to run a marathon or even a half marathon.  My longest organized race is the good ole 5k (3.1 miles), which happens to be my favorite distance :)
3) I'm undecided on whether or not I will share my food journal with you so that you can know how I'm changing my eating habits to support the length of my runs.  Maybe you can give me feedback on that.

Fro-Yo Oh no!

It's feeling like summer, which is great for playing outdoors.  But, all that hard work makes you hungry, right?  What's more refreshing than the most popular summertime treat…Ice Cream!!

To the health conscious ones out there, you may opt to indulge in frozen yogurt as a seemingly healthier choice.  After all, it's often marketed as low-fat and it's got those magical probiotics added to it for healthy digestion, right?

Oh, the audacity of those marketing experts!  I do enjoy this tasty treat, but I had to wonder; How does it really compare to it's creamy counterparts?  Let us investigate:

First we will take a look at Menchies Frozen Yogurt.

These ingredients were found at  The flavor investigated is Original Tart, which would be one with the simplest & fewest ingredients.

Ingredients: Pasteurized & Cultured Skim Milk, Sugar, Water, Corn Syrup, Maltodextrin, Whey, Natural Flavors, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Stabilizer & Emulsifier (Mono & Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Carrageenan), Citric Acid, Disodium Phosphate Contains Live Active Cultures: S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, Bifidobacterium ssp., L. rhamnosus, L. casei

Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 90Cal from Fat: 0
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.0g0%
Saturated Fat 0.0g0%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 115mg5%
Total Carb 20g7%
Sugars 15g
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Protein 3g

Look :) It's Mr. Menchie himself!

Up next, the always popular Orange Leaf:

A similar, but slightly longer list of ingredients.  That list represents what you might find in a number of flavors.  The nutrition chart provides the macronutrients for a 1 oz serving (which is not a serving at all).  A half cup serving would be about 3.1 ounces.

"Scientific" Research

Based on a study I did by sitting near the checkout and listening to people pay for their fro-yo orders (before you get all "she's a psycho and I can't read her blog anymore" on me, know that I tried being reasonable and googling the info first with no success), I have determined that people actually squirt roughly 9 oz!!! in their cup, with a "small" container holding as much as 12 oz!  And if the mystery ingredients in the yogurt aren't enough to get your intestines in a twist, think about that buffet of toppings you peruse, lovingly shielded by the sneeze-guard glass but not quite protected by the boogie picking paws that are reaching into the crushed oreos bare palmed in all their glory.

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to experience frozen yogurt.  Based on my study I think it breaks down like so:

My best guess is that the yogurt alone, in a "small" cup w/ 8 oz in it would be roughly 352 calories.  People are easily adding an additional 200 calories (or more) worth of gummy worms, cookie dough,  crushed nuts, etc.

Let's compare this to 2 other favorites.  The classic Dairy Queen soft serve:

Milkfat and Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup, vanilla flavoring, and stabilizers.

I have a feeling they are categorizing numerous ingredients under the name "stabilizers", but nevertheless, this is the list I was able to find on the Dairy Queen website.

They have the macronutrient count of a small vanilla cone being 230 calories, 7 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein.  That's roughly 35 calories per ounce.  That is plain, no rolled in sprinkles, dipped in chocolate or blended into a blizzard.

Final comparison:

Real Ice Cream.  Let's go with my favorite (if I'm having ice cream, this is what I'm having :)) Jeni's Splendid Ice cream:

We'll go with Ndali Estate Vanilla Bean (because if I'm having vanilla, it's going to be pretentious imported, fair trade vanilla):

Nonfat Milk, Cream, Cane Sugar, Honey, Tapioca Starch, Ugandan Vanilla Bean Extract (Fairtrade Ugandan Vanilla Beans, Alcohol), Ugandan Vanilla Bean Powder, Sea Salt. (source)

I do enjoy recognizing all of these ingredients.  But let's see what the damage is calorie wise:
That is a half cup serving.  It's definitely indulgent.  Decadent, real ingredients with loads of calories packed into each bite.  My guess is that one could actually be satisfied by the proper serving size.  Of course, I could be wrong.

So what should you do?  You have lots of options.  I'm not suggesting you never indulge in ice cream or soft serve or whatever it is you enjoy (obviously, I have, hence the incriminating photos).  But I am suggesting you be more mindful about what you are putting in your body.  This about how you feel before during and after having something like this.  Is it worth it?  Do you just need a few bites to savor before it starts to be a habit or duty that you finish it off?  My philosophy on nutrition is simple: 

How can you enjoy a refreshing frozen treat while following that simple guideline?

Try these extremely simple single ingredient options!

You can do the same thing with frozen banana slices!  Just toss them in the blender and they get smooth and creamy like soft serve.  Sometimes we get crazy with the banana and we add a heavy spoonful of almond butter and cacao powder.  You can get crazy with plenty of flavors and mix-ins.    I'm sure other frozen fruits work as well, but these are my favorites.  Try some new combos and send me your recipes!  I'd love to share them here on the blog.  I will, of course, give you the genius credit!

We love it so much that we made a little extra!  Iz (my daughter) took it school and had it taste tested by the students and teachers.  It was a huge hit!

Your turn!  What's your favorite summer treat?  What was the last song you had stuck in your head?  Talk to me people :)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Vegan Experiment…That's a Wrap! Who wants a free training session with me?


Vegan Experiment 2014 is complete!  It was fun, delicious, challenging & easy mixed into a giant bowl of nutrition.  It's been a week since I've been off of the vegan plan.  I wanted to let it simmer for a few days so that I could report my feelings to you :)  Wait, me…talk about feelings??  OK, FINE!

You already know much of what I was eating, although I didn't do a photo shoot with EVERY meal, you got the point, I'm sure.  The food was all delicious and not a far cry from how I normally eat.

Breakfast Recap:

Lunch/Dinner Recap

It was lovely.  However, truth be told, there were many days where I just wanted a flipping egg.  That's really all I missed.  Eggs... and salmon…and greek yogurt, on occasion.   Thankfully, I easily adapt and as long as I have food, I'm a happy girl.

Physically Speaking

Especially the first 2 weeks, I felt great.  I was excited about the plan, so I had a ton of fresh delicious foods prepped and ready to go.  The food was so colorful, nutrient dense &  fibrous.  I basically felt like I was on a cleanse, if you know what I mean (if you don't, don't worry about it…you don't want to).
I was full of energy, I wasn't overly hungry and I felt well hydrated with all of the water dense foods I was getting.

A few weeks into the experiment, as life started getting in the way, I was less prepared, less excited and ready to go back to some of my quick, easy, non-vegan meals.

One of my vegan emergency meals was this veggie juice and "jerky" made from shitake mushrooms.

As with any structured meal plan, this just goes back to proper planning.  I noticed that when I wasn't armed with what I needed, I felt disorder carry over into other areas of my life.  When I felt this cloud coming in, as soon as I recognized it, I went into crisis prevention mode.  What is this process you ask?  You pick one area that is out of order, ANY area.  Whip it into shape.  Typically a contagion occurs and productivity leaches into the other areas of your life.  For me, I cleaned my car, which led to organizing my closet, which led to cleaning out my fridge, which led me to the grocery store, which led me to Vegan meal prep.  Whew!  Back in the game.

What I Didn't Expect

When I started this experiment, it was meant to be a nutrition experiment.  I had no expectations beyond that.  However, as many of you know, I don't like to do things "a lil' bit", if I'm going to do something, I'm fully submerged.  I'm like Phoebe with the cups & Ice.  Who gets that Friends reference?

My point?  I didn't just stop eating animal products and bi-products.  I watched tons of  documentaries and read books about being vegan.  I spoke with other vegans.  I called restaurants and asked them what vegan options or accommodations they offered.  I sought out vegan bloggers and social media-lites and asked questions and followed their feeds.  If an honorary PhD is offered in Veganism, I'd like to be awarded one, please & thanks. 

As I researched, I was more disgusted by the poor treatment of animals and the environment than I was about the whole "effects it has on my body" issue.  It is heartbreaking, disgusting, devastating, horrific and all sorts of other despicable adjectives the way that humans arbitrarily decide that it is our right to strip an entire habitat or deface a wild creature, or hold droves of animals as captive in foul, unsanitary conditions for our comfort, gluttony or greed.  *Off soapbox-I'll save the rest for later (another post).  Needless to say.  I don't want to be part of the problem and ultimately, I'd like to be part of a solution.  I've yet to create a reverse timeline-(remind yourself of this process by clicking here) POA (plan of action), but one is coming that will involve saving the world.  In the meantime, I am certainly more mindful about what I'm buying and consuming.  

Another factor I had not considered was the sense of community. While I was expecting to feel slightly excluded or like I was 'on my own' in this experiment, the opposite actually occurred.   When I began sharing this experience with others, I found a closeness among other vegans where we could share our experiences and recipes and local hotspot suggestions.  It's a culture and community of kind, open minded people.  Even non-vegans were interested and offered advice or asked great questions.  It was fun to connect with people both vegan and non-vegan.  When I'd go out to eat, there were some amazing restaurants that staff members that were very accommodating and knowledgable.  

What's changed?

Ultimately, My body made no significant changes.  My weight stayed about the same as well as my body fat percentage.  I felt a little bit softer, likely due to the shift in macronutrients being more carb heavy (mostly just water under the skin).  Within a few days that went away.  

Now that the experiment is over, I haven't changed much.  I'm still eating tons of veggies :).  I've had a few comments from people saying "I thought you didn't have to eat that anymore?", but of course, EVERYBODY needs to eat lots of veggies!  Vegan or not, it's natures pharmacy!  I have added eggs back to my diet.  I get mine from a local, non-commercial farm and they are AMAZING!! And I've had salmon a few times <3!  I've had turkey and chicken (in smaller portions).  I feel as though I've released myself from my meat prison where I felt like I needed animal protein with every meal.  My body is much more forgiving when I don't force down 25 grams of protein at each sitting.

What's Next?

Good question.  Glad I asked ;)  I haven't had 2 of my favorite foods since before the experiment: Sushi & Jeni's Ice Cream.  I plan on taking care of that soon…then, I'm ready to dive into the next experiment.  I haven't decided what it will be yet, but I'd LOVE your input.  I'd more than love it.  I'm begging for it.  If you have an idea or if there is something you'd like me to be the lab rat for, let me know.  If it's something you'd like to do and you want me to be your partner in the experiment, please share!  If I pick your idea, I will offer you 1 free private training session with me (if you are local and don't already train with me) or a general meal plan consultation (you don't have to be local for this).  If you do already train with me and I pick your idea, I'll come up with something extra special for you!! Promise :)  Just share your ideas with me here, in the blog comments or on Facebook, Twitter, email…however you prefer.  The next experiment can be nutrition or exercise related (or both!).  Although I am fascinated by all sorts of experiments: economic, social, scientific, etc.  So, over share as needed.  

I still need to update you on my physical challenges from the beginning of my experiment (handstand, split, backbend), but I'm getting long winded, so I'll save it for next time :)