Monthly Archives: August 2011

Getting back on the wagon

So I’m ashamed… I haven’t been talking about it lately, but I’ve fallen off the wagon. Big time.

The last time I ran more than six miles? Well that would be the day of my marathon. I’ve got two big races coming up in the next three months and I feel like I’m behind. In less than six weeks I’ll be running a half marathon and I don’t know if I’m prepared to do my best. I’m sure that I can finish without difficulty, but I may not come close to my PR.

Why haven’t I been running? I have a few million excuses for that. I’ve had a major change in my life in the past few months, going from a gainfully employed engineer and transforming into an unemployed bum (soon to be graduate student). The area around my parent’s house is not conducive for running more than three miles. I hate treadmills.

But the real reason I’ve been slacking is my own laziness. I love running, I truly do, but for some reason I’ve been horribly lazy as of late. Because I have little to do with my day I put off running until the afternoon and then I find that it is too humid outside to really enjoy a longer run. And I’m running alone these days. I used to enjoy a long run every Saturday with my group of slower ladies, but when forced to complete a long run on my own I flake out quickly.

I have less than a week and a half until I journey out west and I want need to make the best of it. I hope to start a proper daily routine in California, one where I wake up before 8am and get a run in before exploring my new home. Until then I need to throw my excuses aside and focus on my goals. Do I want to improve at my next marathon? Of course, but there is no way I will unless I start training properly. Hopefully I’ll create an effective training plan that I can follow over the next few months.

So here is to a new day, a more motivated way, and pushing myself further. Time to go make friends with that treadmill.

Have you ever found yourself off the wagon? How did you hop back on?

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Flexitarianism

At the Healthy Living Summit we were introduced to Dawn Blatner, an RD who wrote the book The Flexitarian Diet. In my previous post I discussed her action mantras that I am trying to instill in my lifestyle. And later for the keynote speech Dawn discussed her book and explained what a flexitarian lifestyle entails.

According to Dawn, a flexitarian is an individual who decreases their consumption of meat without excluding it entirely from their diet. She claimed that vegetarians weigh 15% less and by following a flexitarian diet you can drop up to 30 pounds in a year. (I like those statistics. Who wouldn’t mind losing that much weight?)

Dawn separated flexitarians into three categories: beginners, advanced, and expert. Somehow I’ve been eating a beginner flexitarian diet for quite some time since more than 1/3 of my weekly meals are meatless. I’m proud to say that I plan to become an advanced flexitarian in the next year (9-12 meatless meals a week). After I make the move cross country and settle into my new home in California, I plan to stock my kitchen with more vegetables, fruits, and beans. I’ll definitely need my action mantras to make sure I cook and avoid eating out as frequently as I did in the past…

It seems that meat and poultry are typically the most expensive items a grocery bill. By decreasing the amount of meat we purchase we can cut our bills and reduce greenhouse gases. To substitute meat in a recipe use 1/4 cup beans for each ounce of meat. If it is too tough to get rid of meat all together, cut the meat in half and add beans.

And if  you need to add to the taste, “brighten” the food with acid such as vinegar, citrus, or yogurt. Another great tip Dawn offered was to pair a food you like with an unliked food. By combining the flavors, you will begin to enjoy the unliked food and become comfortable adding it to your recipes.

If you want to steal some fantastic vegetarian recipes, I suggest checking out Laura, Sarah, or Cassie’s blogs. I’ll be scouring the internet for the next few months to find recipes that most satisfy my new cooking style (AKA simple and quick meals) and I hope to reduce my meat consumption.

Have some great vegetarian recipes? I’d love your suggestions! And what blogs do you read to get new recipe ideas?

Sock it to me {Review & Giveaway}

Your feet are two of the most important parts of your body while running, if you don’t protect them properly they may blister (which can be a serious long term issue). Cotton just isn’t going to cut it! We have to remember that our feet will sweat and they need to breath.

Socks come in many flavors these days. My collection includes a wide variety of fabrics and ankle lengths (although I like them short). So when I was offered the chance to test out some New Balance socks with Coolmax Moisture Management, I jumped at the opportunity.

The Verdict: First thing I noticed? These bad boys are soft! I didn’t expect them to feel so fluffy against my foot. I’ve worn them for a few runs recently and haven’t had any trouble with foot sweat (or smell, not that I smell…). They have some cushioning, but won’t feel heavy on your foot. Perfect for summer or fall weather.

Also, these socks are a fantastic deal. You can get a three pack for $9.99 which is much cheaper than other performance socks. You can purchase them from Academy Sports and Outdoors (based in Texas).

And now for the giveaway:
One lucky reader will win a week’s worth of socks (okay only six pair, but on the seventh day remember to let your toesies go free!).

Now here is how the giveaway works:
Tell me a little bit about your footwear. What type of socks do you wear and what works best for your feet? Also, make sure to check out information about COOLMAX® fabric to find other shapes and sizes that would please you.

Want an extra entry into the giveaway? Well here are a few options:
1. Visit Academy Sports and Outdoors and let me know which COOLMAX/New Balance socks are your favorite
2. Follow me on Twitter
3. Post a tweet about this giveaway, please include @RunningJewess and a link to this post.

Leave an additional comment for each extra entry.

The giveaway will be closing at noon EST on Friday, September 2nd, 2011.

Note: Open to US entries only. The giveaway I received and the items I am distributing have been provided by COOLMAX®. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own.

Down with free food

On Saturday of HLS we were introduced to Dawn Blatner, an RD who wrote the book The Flexitarian Diet. Dawn gave two amazing speeches that really inspired me to change my eating habits.

Her first discussion was about action mantras. To summarize, an action mantra is three or four words that you can repeat to guide yourself towards making healthier choices. Very simply put, repetition = results. She gave us several examples such as Table-Plate-Chair to help stop grazing. Anytime you want to eat something, remind yourself that you must be sitting at a table with a plate; no more noshing over the sink or out of the refrigerator.

Of course I should note that they are all positive phrases. Dawn noted that negativity is not a true, long-term motivator. Perhaps it will work for you this week, yet eventually it will drag you down. Being positive has always been a struggle for me (I’m a Realistic Rachel), but this is one area where I need to change my point of view.

What resonated the most for me was the mantra for eating out. When considering buying food from a restaurant (because I’m too lazy to prepare dinner), I’ll have to remind myself “Social Not Convenience”. Eating out with friends is completely acceptable, but I need to stop picking up food for myself. I’ve always been full of excuses and reasons not to prepare my own meals, but it is time to change my unhealthy ways.

Also something I’ve always fallen victim to is allowing myself to snack on samples and food brought in by others. A great mantra for this is “No Free Food”. How often does someone bring into the office a box of donuts or cookies and we succumb? Dawn’s tip is to say no to the food, if you really want a donut then you can pick yourself up and go to the store to buy your own.

Hopefully I can keep these mantras in mind as I make my new life change in the next few weeks!

Are there any mantras that you use to get and keep yourself motivated?

Chips for all!

Last Friday morning I was seated in a demonstration kitchen in Reading Terminal with twenty of my closest blogging buddies. FritoLay set up an event to discuss their chips, both the flavors and ingredients that go into making the perfect, crunchy snack.

Do not ask what cowboy hats or huge spatulas have to do with FritoLay...

Of course they began with a bit of propaganda. Did you know that three of their lines use only natural ingredients? And that these chips have just as much sodium as many other snacks? (These are the things I learned). I was definitely surprised by some of the statistics they were giving us.  I’m not sure if their presentation will change the way I view chips as a “healthy” snack, but it will definitely make me check more labels to see what ingredients I am putting into my body.

After the presentation, one of the head chefs started to whip up recipe ideas that the other bloggers provided. Some of the items were to be eaten with the chips, others were chip flavor ideas. First there were two coconut curries which were absolutely delicious. They also whipped up an avocado hummus that was phenomenal and bruschetta quinoa salad. I’m glad they gave us the recipes, now we’ll see if I can manage to make these dishes.

While cooking the chef discussed other flavors that had recently been born around the world. I had no idea that there was a Garden Tomato flavored Lays, but it is absolutely delicious (and addictive when slightly inebriated). Also, check out the flavors that exist in other countries; the UK has Chicken Tikka and Worcester Sauce chips.

Because it was absolutely fantastic and (seemed) easy enough to make, I wanted to share one of my favorite dishes. Here is a recipe to make bruschetta quinoa, this would be the perfect side dish for any meal (and I imagine you could eat it as a main dish as well).

Bruschetta Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Shallots, minced
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
2 Cups Grape Tomatoes, halved
½-1 Cup Vegetable Stock
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/8 Teaspoon Salt, kosher
1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Cup Quinoa, uncooked, make sure to buy a brand that is pre-rinsed to remove the bitter coating
2 Tablespoons Basil, julienned
¼ Cup Manchego Cheese, shredded

Instructions:
· Sauté the shallots and garlic in the oil
· Add the tomatoes and allow to blister
· Deglaze with the balsamic and allow to reduce
· Add the rest of the ingredients except the basil and cheese and simmer until the quinoa is cooked
· Fold in the basil and serve topped with the cheese

How do you feel about chips? Are there any companies you prefer to buy because of their “healthier” nutrition?

Want the recipes for the coconut curry or hummus? Drop me a line and I’d be happy to send them to you!