Archive for January, 2012

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Weekend Update: Those Who Can’t Run…Cross! Edition

January 29, 2012

Here’s my weekly wrap-up for January 23 – January 29. My last run was January 16th, and I tried to run on the treadmill yesterday…no dice. The pain in my heel has gone down, and it doesn’t hurt to walk around and I only feel a slight tingle when I go down stairs, but I think more running rest is needed. So…those who can’t run…cross train!

Training Mode: Hiatus. This should have concluded Week 5 of half marathon training.

Days until the race: 47

You can run and tell that: 0 miles. ūüė¶

Busted more moves: One non-challenging session on the elliptical; three sessions on the arc trainer followed by the recumbent bike (one not very challenging, two pretty challenging); two sessions of strength training; one trip to the pool for a swim.

Busted body: Left heel.

Ear candy o’ the week: The weather was so nice the last few days, making me a little sad about being confined to the gym (although check out this, um, interesting piece of equipment). I just wanted to break free and run outside…thanks, Queen…

Let me out, let me out!

The takeaway:¬†Channeling my inner mermaid was fun. I’d, frankly, forgotten how to breathe efficiently while swimming…and some of the finer points of technique…funny how that happens when you don’t swim much over the years! Thankfully a former swim coach friend helped me out. And I got a new accessory. Win!

Goggles!

FASHIONISTA!

Things to work on: finding a doctor, developing a strength training plan.


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Peanut, Peanut Butter…Jelly

January 28, 2012

Anyone else remember that song? No? Now you do!

I love peanut butter. Outside of people with nut allergies, are there folks who don’t¬†like peanut butter? If so, I’m pretty sure I don’t know those folks. The thing I don’t like about peanut butter is that 1 Tbsp. of the good stuff is 3 WW points (80-100 calories, and averaging about 8 grams of fat), and I don’t remember the last time I easily limited myself to 1 Tbsp. If I do, it’s usually under great duress.

Shopping with my mom, we came across powdered peanut butter (it was on a military base…I haven’t seen it sold anywhere else except the Interwebs). The jar boasts that a serving has 85% fewer calories than traditional peanut butter. Appealing, no? So I decided to experiment, figuring that if I didn’t like the taste for everyday noshing, I could at least take it backpacking, where I care about weight and not as much about taste.

 

Overall, not too bad! It’s not the same as Jif, Peter Pan, or even organic or all-natural peanut butters, so if you’re expecting the same consistency or taste, you may be a ¬†little disappointed. But it’s doesn’t taste bad, and I can see enjoying it in recipes, spread on baked goods, or mixed into oatmeal. Emily at the Daily Garnish explains the process used to make powdered peanut butter (oil is squeezed out of roasted peanuts) and provides a review of PB2 and two other options; I was sad to read in a later post on her site that the Trader Joe’s Peanut Flour was discontinued.

So much “diet” food seems to be chock full of strange chemicals or less-than-optimal substitutions (ahem, I’m looking at you, lower-fat but higher-sugar foods!). It’s nice to see an alternative like PB2.

What swaps have you made in trying to eat fewer calories or have a healthier diet?

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Three Things Thursday: The Toolkit Edition

January 27, 2012

Three things for this Thursday? Here are three sites that I like to think of as being part of my virtual toolkit. If I’m looking for ideas, inspiration, or information, here are my go-to sites. I hope to add more to this toolkit, but without further ado, the first three:

1. Greatist – So many good, dare I say great, things about health, nutrition, fitness, and more on this site! I love the lists of things: easy swaps you can make in your life, foods that aren’t as healthy as you think, myths about stretching, and more. I’ve only known about this site for a few days, but I am hooked, hooked, I tell you. When you need a wealth of easily digestible information, you need Greatist. They are up for a health blog award, so if you also gets your kicks at Greatist, vote for ’em here.

2. Pinterest – Sure, you can log in to Pinterest and find an over¬†abundance of wedding ideas, perfectly polished nails, and more cupcakes time to make them. But if you look past the “Everything” category, you’ll find some inspirational quotes (Are some of these cheesy? Yes. Do some of them make you want to get out there on a run or to the gym and kick some ass? Give it a shot, you may be surprised), some great recipes, and some time-saving ideas (like my Salad in a Jar!). So if you’re willing to get sucked into a black hole the first few times you log in, give it a spin…

Pinterest

3. Fit Bottomed Girls – Again, plethora of information, personal stories, and a variety of topics to keep you informed, entertained, and inspired to migrate from a fat bottomed girl to a fit bottomed girl. Love this site.

Fit Bottomed Girls

What’s in your virtual toolkit?

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Be Prepared, or “Sh*t! I Forgot That, Too?”

January 26, 2012

Be prepared, dear readers, I have some questions I hope you can help me out on! Read on.

Yes, yes, “Be prepared,” is the Boy Scout motto, and, well, I wasn’t a Boy Scout. But! I was a Girl Scout, and I’m the daughter of someone who made his career planning supplies and logistics. I am one prepared gal.

Except for Monday. I broke with routine on Monday. Typically, if I go to the gym in the evening, I come home first and can prepare for an evening workout there. But Monday’s plan was to go to the gym immediately from work. Naturally, I found myself running around like a chicken with its head cut off (nice imagery, right?) Monday morning, trying to pack enough food for lunch, snacks, and pre-workout, and making sure I had everything I needed for the gym.

Headed to the gym and…

This is actually not me at the gym, it's me at home after the gym, clearly looking incredibly sultry. Freak out effect is still the same. And if you're wondering why my face is so red, yes, somewhere in them there genes is some Irish, but click on the pic for a better explanation.

I’d forgotten damned near half of what I needed.

I remembered:

shoes

socks

sports bra

shirt

capris

deodorant

 

And forgot:

inhaler

hair tie

ipod

headphones

lock

 

But thanks be to Walgreen’s for:

hair tie

lock

 

I’m a planner by nature and book-learnin’. Breaking my routine and being so ill-prepared kind of killed my mojo. But I got in a good workout, and did a better job groggily dumping all of my crap into a bag Tuesday morning. Which reminds me of the time that a friend reported that when she got to the gym, her gym bag contained three sports bras and no pants. She works at a school; I’ll forgive her the early morning absentmindedness.

If you’ve ever left essentials out of your gym bag, what did you do to wing it?

 

While I wait to see what’s going on with my heel/ankle/lower leg/blah, ellipticals, arc trainers, and recumbent bikes have been OK. [OK being the operative word…they are fine on my heel, they are not fine for my brain, which gets bored very easily.]

I’ve known for a while that I need to add in a legit (i.e. – I don’t do it twice a year) strength training regimen, but….I don’t even know where to begin. I know how to use weight machines and do some things with free weights, and a few sessions with a trainer gave me some cardio routines (mmm…mountain climbers) to do, but I feel like I’m flailing a little with how to proceed with a set routine and marking improvement. If I were starting a running program, I’d look for a beginner program. Once I did that, I’d focus on improving my speed or distance or both.

But where to begin with TTAR (Things That Aren’t Running)? Amanda over at Fancy Oatmeal talked about the wide range of workouts you can find on Pinterest, and wide and ranging they are. Some are probably questionable and others are probably really great workouts. But where to begin? Is there a Couch to Conditioned program? And what do you call¬†all those random sheets with 100 of these, 50 of those, etc., etc. Is that considered cardio?

If you incorporate strength training into your workout routine, how’d you begin?¬†

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Manic Meal Monday 2

January 24, 2012

It’s Monday, and yesterday brought both manic food shopping and preparation. It would be hard to top the last Manic Meal Monday in terms of ease of preparation, but this comes close, especially if you purchase pre-cut butternut squash and/or pre-cut beef.

The meal o’ the week was inspired by Dominique over at Will Run For Beer, who posted this Burgundy-Style Beef Stew recipe. It was already a WW recipe, but she made it even more WW-friendly by subbing butternut squash for potatoes. The damage is a mere 8 PointsPlus for a very hearty stew.

Recipe (with modifications, based on preference/availability; mine are in bold, hers are in italics):

Ingredients
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb boneless beef bottom round, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth [I used vegetable broth since I already had some open.]
1/2 cup dry red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon) [I used a Carmenere and hated that I cooked with such a good win, but it needed to be consumed.]
20 oz chopped butternut squash the original recipe calls for 3/4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 lb mushrooms [I am not a ‘shroom fan, so this was omitted.]
4 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup pearl onions (the original recipe calls for frozen, but I could not find them in my store) [I cut up one whole, medium yellow onion.]
2 cloves if garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp dried savory [I’m not sure what savory is, and I don’t have it, so…I tossed in a bunch of spices that I like, including cayenne pepper, ginger, oregano, and a little cinnamon, and I liked what came out of the crock pot.]

Directions

1. Mix together flour, salt and pepper into a shallow dish. Coat beef with seasoned flour and shake off the excess.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add coated beef and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer browned beef to your crock pot.

3. Add remaining ingredients to the crock pot. Cover and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low, or until the beef and vegetables are tender.

This makes 4 servings. Oh, look…lunch!

And, funny story related to this recipe:

My mom is in town visiting, and we went to the grocery store together. I was in the meat department, and didn’t find the cut specified in the recipe, so I asked a woman working there about it.

Me: Oh, OK. Hmm…three pounds. Well, I need to find the smallest package. I only need one pound.

Her: Just a pound? What are you making?

Me: A stew.

Her: Blech. You want to use this in a stew?

Me: Yeah…will this not work for stew?

Her: It’s so lean. You need some meat with some FAT.

My mom: Well, she’s kind of on a diet, so I think she wants the lean.

Her: Oh, well, if you’re doing that diety thing, I guess this will work. But I wouldn’t eat that stew.

For the record, the stew was great, and the meat was tender. Enjoy!

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Weekend Update: Benched Edition…Part II

January 23, 2012

Here’s my weekly wrap-up for January 16 – January 22. Warning: it was a lame week.

Training Mode: Unofficially benched. This was Week 4 of half training, and I’ve got some pain radiating into my left heel. I’ve ordered myself to rest, and I’m working on getting a doctor’s appointment, because the pain isn’t really subsiding. Hoping there’s a fix that doesn’t involve being officially benched.

Days until the race: 54

You can run and tell that: 3.5 miles

Busted more moves: a one-hour yoga class, walking.

Busted body: I broke myself. Well, I broke my lower body.

Ear candy o’ the week: Put on a Debbie Downer sketch,¬†repeat. Kidding! Since I can’t run, how about “Patience” from G’n’R? Oh…also not helpful? OK, OK. Here’s one of the most badass songs I know: “All I Do is Win.” Try to NOT kick ass in your workout when you listen to this. You can’t. Fact.

And Snoopy’s in the hoopty.

The takeaway:¬†Resting is tough…

Things to work on: low-impact alternatives

Random couch-sitting thought: I know most people say that it’s almost more painful to NOT do something than to do something when they are injured. They’ve got an itch: you can’t run, all you want to do is run; you can’t swim, all you want to do is swim, etc. I was sitting on the couch the other day (a scheduled run day), and thought, Self, you could just hang out on the couch, and not get back out there. And it would be pretty easy. Confirms for me that this period of rest – and, longer term, keeping up with a good routine through life’s punches – will be tough. It’ll be a challenge to get back out there.

But I accept.

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Three Things Thursday: The DL Edition

January 20, 2012

I’m on the DL. The Disabled List. I’m benched. I’ve got a dull, persistent pain in my lower left leg (discomfort particularly felt near the ankle and into the heel), punctuated by occasional acute pain associated with extra or different impact. Sure, stairs hurt, but did you know that the force of a Metro stopping haphazardly while you’re standing up could send shooting pain up through your hip? No? Now you do! Don’t try this at home, DC, it’s a hot mess on the Metro some days.

Anyway, I’m not sure what’s going on, but it’s pretty clear to me that this is one of those times that I shouldn’t try to run through the pain. Although I’m still learning where that line falls. How do you know when you should push through or rest up?

So here are my Three Things…what I’ll do while I’m on the DL:

1. Eat my feelings. Mmmm. If you’re in the DC area, be sure to check out the DC Shawarma food truck. Not into the goodness that is shawarma? Boom: Food Truck Fiesta.

2. Become a crazy cat lady.

How could you resist that face? Don't you just want to sit around on your ass all day with that face?

3. Drink my feelings. Ahhh, analgesic side effects. Fantastic.

Home-infused fig vodka and fig gin. Tip: the vodka tastes better, but the gin is probably better for sorrow-drowning.

OK, OK, I kid, I kid. I did eat lunch from the shawarma truck (get the pulled lamb), I do have a pretty damned cute cat, and I enjoy sharing my home-infused fig vodka with others. But these things probably aren’t going to make me feel better in the long run. Right now I’m feeling pretty frustrated, hamstrung (actually, no pain there, thankfully), and stifled in my fitness/weight loss efforts.

Here’s a better Three Things list:

1. Try some new recipes to keep things interesting and try to be more mindful of my WW plan while I can’t exercise as much as I’d like (and maybe not rush to every food truck that comes near my office…). Tonight I made Mark Bittman’s Red Bean Paella with Tomatoes (page 300 of The Food Matters Cookbook). I skipped the saffron (didn’t have any) and cut back a little on the amount of olive oil; this was quite the delightful dish.

2. Educate myself. Starting with researching my health insurance and calling around to find out who I can see about this. And learning a little more about leg anatomy, so I can accurately describe where I have pain.

3. Get myself excited about low impact workouts. Serves a dual purpose of fending off the eating-of-feelings and keeping me away from Googling symptoms and freaking out. I haven’t spent much time swimming since I was a kid, but a combo of asthma and occasional bad reaction to chlorine have kept me out of the pool. I’m willing to give it another shot, and a former swim coach friend of mine has promised to help me, starting with sticking my head in a bathtub or bowl of water and re-learning how to breathe. Oh, you want pictures? Ha.

Bring on the rest days…but hopefully for not too long…?

What do you do to keep active (and keep your frustration level down) when you’re on the DL?