Tuesday, February 28, 2012

King-sized Candy Bars Dethroned

I read two things last week that made my head spin:

1. Taco Bell is going to start making a taco shell made from Doritos.
2. Mars is going to stop making king-sized candy bars.

The first was one of those, "seriously?" moments, like when I first read about Paula Deen's doughnut burger or whoever it was that made the hamburger bun out of fried chicken. Hardees? I can't remember. I blocked it from my psyche.

The second, though, was a little light at the end of a very, very long and dark tunnel. It kinda restored my faith in the hope that someday we might be able to dig ourselves out of the nutritional land mine we've created and reverse from our culture of food excess. 

Naturally, skeptics assume that this move is really just a cost-saving strategy for the company but really, who cares if it is? In the same way I am willing to believe that Paula Deen wants to cook healthier food, I can get on board with a candy company pretending that it cares about the nutrition of children if it helps us make the nutrition of children better. 

To create a positive environment, you have to look for the positive!

But of course, neither of these news stories impact us anyway, right? Because we would never eat at Taco Bell or consider a 500-calorie candy bar to be a snack. Hopefully, for every Doritos shell sold, there will be two fewer king-size candy bars produced and it will all even out.

Right? :) Hey, a girl can dream!

Get out there and get healthy today, even if the person next to you is eating at Taco Bell.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Day the Garrrrmin Died

My Garmin didn't actually die, just the battery.

Anyway, this is a story about a series of revelations I've had recently that have convinced me that I am actually doing a pretty decent job of becoming a pretty decent runner.

Fitness shocked the heck out of me this week!
First, the story of sneaky fitness. On Monday, the baby and I decided we needed a change of scenery so we ran a different route. We usually stay in the neighborhood but we went out on a busier road (yes, dad, we stayed on the sidewalk) for a quick out-and-back five miles. Woah. Yeah, I decided pretty quick that the old scenery was juuuust fine. Between the cars zipping past us, the cross walks jiggling the stroller and waking up the baby, and navigating all of the pinecones and branches from a recent storm, it was seriously the most stressful run I've had in a long time. I could not wait to get home. But, as I glanced at my Garmin to get a look at our pace, I realized that I had just a mile and a half to go and was ahead of schedule. That's right, even with all of this junk in our way I was somehow running faster! It was enough motivation for me to pick up the pace, run through a couple of walk intervals, and take about 20 seconds off our time. Hey, 20 seconds is a big deal when you're pushing a stroller uphill into the wind!

I felt pretty badass.

Then, on Tuesday we went out (on our regular route thankyouverymuch) and did our same old boring run. Except we were freaky fast again, taking a whole 2 minutes off of our total running time. My goal has been to slowly shave time off to gradually get to a comfortable and sustainable 9 minute mile and finish a half marathon in less than two hours. Baby steps.

Wednesday was an elliptical day because we had the baby's 4-month checkup. I know, already?!? He's doing great by the way. Twelve pounds, twelve ounces of awesome!

Then today, I strapped the Garmin to the handle of the car seat (all the better to see it, my dears), and it told me the sad news: battery low. Crap, I thought. How will I know when to run and when to walk? How will I know how fast I am going? How will I know if we beat our time?

I felt pretty bummed out.

I decided I'd just have to wing it. I set the timer on my phone so I would at least know if we beat our best time, and then decided to just run it and see what happened. 

I did pretty great! It was nice to run without watching the clock and I surprised myself with how far I could go without needing to walk. Then, I started to wonder why I was so surprised. I run six days a week, have completed three half marathons and have a fourth next weekend, and I've been doing this for years. Why am I still doubting myself as a runner? I don't know.

But, this week was a "hey doofus" bonk on the head that I've probably crossed the threshold to become a well-conditioned runner. It feels good to be here and know that my body is still transforming.

My Garmin is charging now so I will have it again on Saturday for my long run. I'm excited to see what's in store for me as a runner. Whatever that may be, getting out there and getting healthy every day is what has gotten me there. Get out there and get healthy today...you might surprise yourself too!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Your Brain on Goals: Sticker Shock!

I'm not afraid to admit that I've never really gotten past the most basic form of positive reinforcement: the smiley face sticker. It's the best "atta girl," pat on the head, teacher's pet reward that I can give myself every day. A simple little thing, but sometimes those little things make a big difference, you know?

If you're familiar with my Four Champions of Change (data, consistency, accountability, and intention), then you know all about the power of calendar stickers! In fact, giving yourself a smiley face (or a gold star, a butterfly, a ladybug, or SpongeBob, whatever makes you smile) for each day you hit your mark, you're taking care of TWO Champions: data and accountability. You're collecting data about your daily behaviors towards better health and being accountable to yourself every day. 

Sticker criteria is easy: I can earn two stickers a day. One is for hitting my nutrition goal and one is for getting in my workout. I don't have to be perfect to get a sticker, just make progress. Most of the time a sticker means I hit the bullseye because I like to aim for 100%. But, sometimes a sticker means I did as well as I could given the circumstances. In the middle of a party weekend I might eat over my calories or stray from my plan a little, but I will give myself a half sticker if it could have been worse. :)

January was a sticker-happy month!
I use my Healthiest Year Ever calendar to track my progress
(and have my 25 Foods to Eat Every Week below it)
I took a look at my calendar this week and smiled at my sticker shock: my wellness goals are going pretty darn well. January was chock full of stickers. February has stickers almost every day, too!  It's so much fun to see my progress build over time and see a visual reminder of the good things I have done for myself. Seeing that reminder not only makes me proud, it motivates me to keep that little parade of stickers going.

If you're looking for a cheap, easy, and rewarding way to track your wellness progress, get yourself a pack of stickers, a Healthiest Year Ever calendar, and go to town with the positive reinforcement. Seriously, you'll be much less likely to skip a workout or eat something crummy when all those stickers are smiling at you.

Get out there and get healthy today. And, earn yourself a sticker!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Miles of Smiles

This has circulated the web for a while but it still makes me smile because it is so true. I honestly cringe when I see pictures of myself running. Either I am grimacing, my skin has been captured in an unfortunately timed jiggle, or I just look like a big ole dork. I'd much rather remember how I felt when I was running, not what I looked like!

Kind of like dancing. :)

Get out there and get healthy today, no matter what you look like!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gluten-free Pizza-Quesadilla-Calzone-Thingy

I've decided to start experimenting with a gluten-free lifestyle. Cause I need more stuff to obsess over, right?

I already don't eat much wheat, but I've read up on it recently (okay, the free sample of Wheat Belly that I downloaded on my Kindle) and while I am not completely convinced that wheat is inherently evil, I am curious enough to tinker around see whether eliminating it helps me get rid of my little pregnancy souvenir. I'm talking here about the poochy tummy, not the baby. I'm keeping the baby, so hands off! 

There are really only three instances of wheat in my life: my morning toast,  my Wednesday night homemade pizza, and my Friday night Papa John's pizza. Pizza is kind of a big deal to me. I know it's not good to put food on a pedestal but I would totally marry pizza if I could. But I digress.

The morning toast was an easy enough substitute. One loaf of Udi's Whole Grain bread instead of whole wheat did the trick and it is dang good! Udi's also makes a pizza crust but my grocery store didn't carry it so I decided to try making a pizza calzone with a gluten-free wrap instead. It was really really good and I will definitely keep this substitution!  Check out how I did it:

I used Food for Life's Brown Rice Tortilla. I defrosted it in the microwave and put it on my pizza pan. It stiffens up fast so you have to move quickly to fill it up and fold it over without breaking it.

I put a little tomato sauce, some spinach (of course), black olives, onion, banana peppers, and green pepper on half of it, and sprinkled one ounce of mozzarella cheese on top. A little italian seasoning and garlic, and then I folded it over. It wanted to pop back open so I used the side of the other pizza crust I was also baking for my husband and son (who for some reason do not want to take part in my food experiments) to keep it closed.

Popped it in the oven at 450 for 10 minutes. The wrap is not pliable at all, so the end result was more of a quesadilla than a calzone since it was kind of crunchy and flaky. No matter to me! It was really good and I totally wanted more when it was all gone.  Good thing I also made a big salad!

I wanted more! You can make it bigger by
using two tortillas on top of each other with
filling between, or just use one and
not fold it over.
Now, I know the purpose of a gluten-free diet is not to just replace glutenous products with other grains. But, since I don't have any medical reason to go gluten-free and am just recreational in my pursuits, I feel pretty happy with my changes.  

And yes, that means I am keeping the Papa John's! That probably makes me a hypocrite but you can go ahead and judge me. I've made my peace with it.

Get out there and get healthy today!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Five Half Marathon Lessons

Not my fastest, not my slowest,
but I ran the whole way!
Top Five Things I Realized During the Tallahassee Half Marathon on Sunday:

1. This race is a lot more fun when I am running (and talking) with my friend Edie. I missed you, girl! You have to run with me next year!

2. It takes a few extra safety pins, but it is possible to cover your muffin top with your race number. However, stuffing your fuel belt with chap stick and a granola bar and then wearing it under your shirt like I did totally negates the slimming effect.

3. Apparently, based on the number of people who referred to me as, "man,"  I look like a boy from the back. 

4. Fatigue makes a difference! The baby got up twice in the night before the race, and I felt it in every step.  I think I was rounding mile 1 when I started having to talk myself through the race. I thought my body had adapted to less sleep but I guess that only counts for folding laundry and running errands, not running 13 miles.  :)

5. Even when I run slow, even when I run badly, even when I am exhausted and bored and lonely, and even when I am mistaken for a boy, crossing the finish line on a race of that distance always makes me feel really proud. I've come a long way as a runner and an athlete and I feel very thankful to be able to run 13.1 like it ain't no thang.

One month to go before the Mardi Gras Half Marathon! My finishing time on Sunday was 2:15:54 (my watch, not theirs), so hopefully I can shave a little off of that and finish a little faster in March.  2:05 would look very nice!

I'll get started on that tomorrow. Today, the way I am getting out there and getting healthy is by taking a nap!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What I Eat (Cause Everyone Wants to Know)

I get asked all the time what I eat, and I always wonder if the answer is disappointing to people because honestly, I don't eat anything secret or fancy or special. 

There is no magic to this at all. It's just a collection of food that results in enough calories to create a moderate deficit and provide the macronutrient breakdown that I want (roughly 30% fat, 30% protein, and 40% carbs). The only thing that really changes from day to day is what I have for dinner, simply because making food in bulk and portioning it out for myself on Sunday saves time and thinking later in the week. My days are busy, and I don't have time to stand around making food! The only special thing I do is weigh my portions on my digital kitchen scale. It keeps me honest.

So, here it is: my daily plate. Nothing fancy, just nice clean fuel for a busy lady! Oh and btw I am not a food photographer so you won't see any of this on Pinterest.

Breakfast: 2 egg whites and 1 egg mixed up and baked with 10 grams of feta cheese, a handful of spinach, some tomato and some red onion. I make five of these on Sunday, pop them in the oven, and have one each morning on whole wheat toast. I also have a cup of coffee with reduced fat milk.

Snack: 150 grams of Cabot Lowfat Greek Yogurt with 100 grams of frozen blueberries and 10 grams of slivered almonds.
Lunch: During the winter I have 1.5 cups of turkey chili, which I make on Sunday from 1 pound of turkey; 1 can each of organic black beans, kidney beans, and tomatoes (all undrained); a bunch of chopped cilantro, a chopped red onion, and about a cup of frozen corn. Add chili pepper and lime juice, let it simmer, and portion out into 5 containers for a grab-and-go lunch. I have this with one sliced apple and 10 grams of all-natural peanut butter. When the weather warms up I will go back to my Change Your Life Salad: spinach, strawberries, baked turkey, and feta cheese.

Snack: An orange, four or five strawberries, 10 whole natural almonds, and 2 ounces of Boar's Head Ovengold Turkey or sliced turkey if I baked one over the weekend.

My version of a turkey burger. :)
Dinner: This is where it gets more complicated. The base of my dinner is a big salad: spinach, tomato, cucumber, red onion, banana peppers, black olives, and green pepper. Then I add the protein du jour: Mondays that's a 4 ounce turkey burger, Tuesdays and Thursdays that's a 6 ounce chicken breast. On Wednesday I make homemade pizza (50-75 grams of Biboli Whole Wheat crust, crushed tomato, spinach, onion, with 1 ounce of mozzarella). I add 7 grams of Brianna's Poppyseed Dressing to my salad if I feel like I want it.  On Fridays we order Papa John's for dinner and I have 300 grams (roughly 2 slices) if I am not running the next day and 400 grams if I am. :)

Dessert: If I'm still hungry after the kids are in bed and I haven't collapsed yet, an orange is the perfect dessert!

Weekends: I stick to this plan for the most part, but usually deviate at some point depending on what we're up to around town. Saturday nights we usually grill so I'll have a small filet mignon and occasionally a glass of wine, and on Sundays we usually have breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs (half whites), 2 pieces of Applegate Farms (clean) bacon, and a whole wheat waffle with a drizzle of honey. 

No I don't have a splurge meal! Since I have detoxed from sugar I don't get those cravings anymore. But that's not to say I eat a perfectly balanced diet every day. Sometimes I use too much salad dressing and sometimes I want a big cheeseburger and a Guinness and sometimes I have one. Sometimes on Saturdays I drink too much wine and subsequently eat too much cheese and crackers. But not often enough to matter.

And yes there are days when I screw it up! Usually when my family is in town and I'm putting out trays of snacky stuff that I don't usually eat, or when I'm on vacation and decide to chuck it all for a few days and eat whatever looks good at the time. It doesn't take much of that before I am craving a return to the routine! I truly do love eating healthy food above all.

95% of the time, this is my diet. I love it! It works well for me and I feel very nourished and content. I eat every three hours or so and stay satisfied all day long. Keeping to a routine like this and keeping my calories clean and balanced makes it very easy for me to get out there  and (you know what comes next) get healthy!