Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my lovely mother's birthday, and I'd like to take the time to say a quick thank you to the one who helped me grow into the woman I am today.

First...Happy Birthday!!

Thank you for being my biggest fan and always encouraging me to dream big.

Thank you for teaching me the importance of family. It's funny how Julia and I always wanted to be out and about when we were younger, but now all we want to do is be home with you and learn how to cook your recipes.

Thank you for always helping me see both sides to every story and letting me make my own choices.

Thank you for teaching me what "laugh lines" are :)

Thank you for all that you do! Words can not explain how much I love you :)


This past weekend, I went home to spend time with mom for her birthday. We had a great weekend together! We went for a walk/run together, cooked, canned pickles for the first time, and just spent time together :) It was a perfect weekend!

I was even able to get in my long run without any sidewalks (my hometown isn't too runner friendly like my current city). I was so excited to do my first trail run and it made since a difference. The soft impact of the trails felt great on my joints and made me feel like I could run forever. My long run was supposed to be 6 miles this week, but I ended up running into a past PE coach from middle school and we did 7.5 together! She showed me the trails the local XC team use for their training. It was so nice to have someone to run and chat with :) The weather was in the mid-60s and couldn't have been more perfect.

Last week recap:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 3.4 miles + TRX (sprints and resistance training)
Wednesday: Core Barre
Thursday: 5 miles with 2 miles at tempo pace
Friday: HEAT + cool down jog
Saturday: 7.52 miles
Sunday: 3 miles

Total: 24.66 miles + 3 hours strength training

Yay! I am one happy camper with that. I feel antsy to go for a run tonight or even just hang out on the elliptical, but I'm going to give me body a good rest day and work it hard again the rest of this week!

Have you ever tried canning your own food? Mom and I tried canning pickles for the first time this weekend, and I'm so excited to try making jams and salsa next!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ballet + Pilates = Core Barre

Not only does the class Core Barre sound pretty, but doesn't it just look pretty?

Who wouldn't want to do a workout that looked like that?

The above photos are from a studio called Pure Barre, which is located in quite a few states, and luckily a couple in my city!

However, my first Barre class was not there, but at the Pilates of Fayetteville studio.

It was a surprisingly awesome workout! I'm so used to either running or working out at HEAT studios, which involves hard pounding on my body and an intensity like none other, that it felt so nice to do a workout that was low impact but still gave me the burn I crave.

At first the instructor started with an arm workout, and she advised us to grab 2 or 3 lb weights -- 5 lbs if we were brave. Since I'm used to HEAT pushing me to grab 8lbs to 12 lb weights, I thought 5 would be a piece of cake. My arms were burning. The intensive isometric movements really zoned in on each arm muscle one at a time, and eventually was so intense that I went back half-way through for the 3 lb weights!

Next, we worked on the floor doing ab exercises that focused on form mixed with a little bit of stretching.

The final, and biggest burn session was with the ballet barre. It's funny how such little movements can hurt, but feel so good. This section focused primarily on the legs and butt, and I felt sore instantly. Even though the lower-half muscles were the ones feeling the burn, the class focused a lot on posture and keeping your core centered, which kept your abs engaged at all times.

I don't think I sweated a drop for the first workout in a long time, but I could definitely feel my muscles melting on the inside.

I highly recommend this as a great cross-training or toning class! I can't wait to go back for more.

Even though I love a good workout, the best part was at the end when they served wine, cheese, fruit, and dip. I was eying this set-up from afar the whole time.

Have you tried Core Barre before? Do you have any favorite sweat-free workouts??

Monday, July 11, 2011

Adding Color

Do you ever buy fresh produce for a meal your making and then forget about it and let the rest of it spoil??

I fall guilty of this almost every week and I finally realized enough was enough.

Last week, I began by searching for recipes based on ingredients that I already had in the fridge. Not only was this a money saver, but it was a great way to try new recipes!

I began by rummaging through my refrigerator and immediately picked out a package of portobello mushrooms that have been chilling in the corner for a little over a week (maybe 2?). I prayed they hadn't gone bad yet, and much to my amazement, they were still good! I Googled a few recipes, and decided on a recipe that called for an olive oil plus garlic brushing on the outside of the cap, and then diced tomatoes and blue cheese on the inside. Simple, yet delicious. I'll definitely make this again.

The search for a main entree continued, as I sifted through my Recipe Box on Allrecipes and found a highly rated one for Grilled Cilantro Salmon. The only ingredient I didn't have was cilantro, which was a whopping $ I didn't mind buying it at all. This dish turned out delicious! The honey and cilantro leaves brought so much flavor to the meal. It didn't require much time at all, few ingredients, and was beyond tasty.

This past Sunday, Justin and I went for a walk to explore some new trails and came up with the grand idea to finally go strawberry/blueberry picking! We've been talking about this for a while, and I guess the heat got to us and we decided to do it. We Googled a couple different local farms, but most weren't open for do-it-yourself-picking on Sunday. We came across one called Ashely Porter Farm & Nursery that said they were open and we could pick our own strawberries. Yay!

We set out on a nice little 30 minute drive, only to find out that their website info was out-dated and strawberry picking was last month. Tear. But they still had lots of fresh veggies, fruit and flowers! Plus, homemade ice cream. (Note: I think I overdosed on ice cream this weekend...but it was oh so good!)

Loving the color!!!

And love, how that turned into this...

Summer Squash Salad.

Very refreshing after a hot day. This was enough to fill me up for dinner, but I'm thinking I might have to pair this with some chicken next time since I'm still a little full from brownies and banana bread at work :)

Summer Squash Salad

2 c. (2 med.) sliced 1/8 inch zucchini
2 c. (2 med.) halved lengthwise, sliced 1/8 inch yellow squash
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. basil leaves
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1/2 c. sliced 1/8 inch red onion, separated into rings
2 med. ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges

In 2 quart saucepan place zucchini and yellow squash; add enough water water to cover. Cook over medium high heat until water comes to a full boil. Boil 1 to 2 minutes, drain. Rinse with cold water. In large bowl stir together remaining ingredients except onions and tomatoes. Add zucchini, yellow squash, onion and tomatoes; toss to coat.


On a side note, I took my previous post about protein to heart today, and I wasn't hungry once!!

After my 3.4 mile run this morning, I made 2 scrambled egg whites plus toast with peanut butter and strawberry jam.

For lunch, I had a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with avocado, swiss cheese and onions.

You may be thinking - I could care less about what you ate today - BUT I'm telling you this because for the first time in a loooonnnggggggg time I wasn't a ravenous lion at 10am OR 3pm. Usually, I'm counting the minutes trying to hold out for my mid-day snacks. I was soooooo happy to NOT by hungry for once.

And since I've already told you about my breakfast and lunch, I might as well add that after my TRX class this evening, I had a protein smoothie for dinner. Delicious.

Life couldn't be better. Thank you protein :)

Do you ever buy fresh produce and then end up not using it all before it spoils?? Where do you like to go for yours?? I typically go to Trader Joes, but the farmers' market is my favorite!

Oh, hello protein. Nice to meet you.

Soooooo maybe protein is old news, but I'm just now listening.

Recently, I've come across a lot of articles that mention the benefits of protein after a workout.

I've read that after a run you should have protein and carbs about 30 minutes after you finish. I've also read that after you do strength training, the ideal post-workout meal is a smoothie with Whey Protein.

I usually don't eat before I run at 5:30am and then post-fuel up around 7am with a bowl of oatmeal. Plus, I bring a snack of almonds to curb my hunger around 10am. Since I tend to turn into a ravenous tiger around 10am, I think it's time to take fueling my body a little more seriously. Especially since I want it to have enough energy to complete my training and stay injury free.

I found a great article from Active that describes what you really need after a 30 minute run to a 60 minute plus workout.

It suggests that after running 3 miles, you should eat a meal filled with fiber to keep you fuller longer. "Try a whole-wheat bagel or a handful of dried figs....Stomach still growling? Eat a little bit of fat, like a few nuts or an egg, to satisfy your appetite..."

After a 45 minute run, don't aim to have a perfect carb-to-protein ratio, but do try to include both. "Just aim for healthy choices. If you run in the morning, freeze a fruit and yogurt smoothie the night before and take it out to defrost before your run. If you're a noontime runner, pack a hummus and veggie pita sandwich to eat after you get back to your desk."

I think the freezing a smoothie the night before is a great idea. I always think about how I don't have time to make a smoothie if I workout at the gym before work, so this will be perfect!

Running longer than 60 minutes? "When you run longer than an hour, you need to focus on refueling — and fast. 'There's a 30-minute window where the body is very receptive to getting carbs back into the muscles,' says Shulman. To know your carb needs, divide your weight in half. If you weigh 140 pounds, you need 70 grams (280 calories) of simple carbs within 30 minutes. Try energy bars or sports drinks because they're quickly absorbed. Getting some protein, too, will kick-start muscle repair. Within an hour of that snack, eat a full meal, ideally in a 4:1 carbs-to-protein ratio. According to a 2006 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, eating carbs and protein together increases glycogen levels more than eating just carbs. Try a bean burrito or pasta with meat sauce to give your body the nutrients it needs, says Shulman."

So maybe the above article doesn't mention much about why protein, but I have read a few others that mention its main benefits are that it minimizes soreness after a workout, repairs the tiny tears in your muscles, and builds lean muscle, faster. Sounds like the golden ticket to me.

Now, I need your help! Do you use whey protein?? If so, what flavors? Any particular brands? I've noticed they run around $40 to $60 dollars. Is this most bang for my buck? HELP!!

And now, on to my summary of my first week of training this fall!!!

Monday: REST
Tuesday: 3 miles elliptical
Wednesday: HEAT (60 minutes strength training + sprints)
Thursday: 4 mile run
Friday: 2 mile interval sprints
Saturday: 3 mile run + HEAT (60 minutes strength + sprints)
Sunday: 5 miles

Total: 21.43 miles + 2 days strength training

ALSO, I must mention how happy I was with Sunday's run! Well first of all, it was brutal. I set out at 9:30am, and will NEVER do that again. WAY, WAY, WAY too hot and humid. I thought about walking numerous times and reminded myself that I need to go sllllloooooowwwwww and run at a conversational pace. I truly felt like I was shuffling along the sidewalk. I didn't look at my Garmin once because I didn't even want to know the pace.

I was treated with a nice little surprise when I came home:

Ummmmmmm...hello...that's my half-marathon goal pace. This was supposed to be a slow run, and trust me, it felt like it. I don't know how this happened. To some maybe this is slow, but to me, I was ecstatic! I'm already running my goal half-marathon pace during my first long run. YAYYY!! Looks like I might have to set new expectations for myself :) Or maybe...just run slower next time. I'm definitely one to underestimate my ability, so maybe this is a sign that I'm doing just that. Either way, no pressure during the next long run, I'm going to continue to run it easy, and we'll see where we go from there.

PLEASE, please, please let me know what you think about whey protein!! I need all the help I can get!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Yelp! & Dining In

This last part of the week has pretty much been consumed by food, food, and more foooood!!

The girls and I got together Thursday night and we made Pico de Gallo Shrimp Salad. It required no cooking, which is always a winner, was delicious, and affordable since three of us were splitting the ingredients!

We started with some caprese...

Please notice the fresh basil from my plant ;)

We then sipped on "fine" wine, chatted, and devoured our jumbo salads.

Click here for the recipe from Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat. It's such a great recipe because all you need to do is thaw frozen shrimp, let them marinate, and then chop up the pico de gallo. Ta da!

Friday night involved a little cooking for the sweetie. We were supposed to cook this together, but it ended up being a one-woman job and the sweetz did not debate while he sat on the couch drinking his beer.

The main entree for the evening was Tuna Steaks Glazed with Balsamic Vinegar and Basil Oil...

The flavor of the balsamic vinegar complemented the basil perfectly. We loved this! I was so excited to finally make a recipe from my Viva Italia! cookbook. It's probably the first cookbook I've ever read front to back, and I want to make every thing in it!

Last, but not least, we finally completed our first dining experience based off a yelp review, and it was a success!!

Justin found this little gem of a restaurant last week on yelp and has been determined to go. The place - Chubby Tacos. I admit I was a little skeptical. 1 - Mexican is always good. 2 - Chubby Tacos isn't really music to my ears when I'm striving to incorporate more fruits and veggies into my meals. But when I saw that Chubby Tacos had a deal on GroupOn Friday morning, I figured it was time to face the music and go.

It really is just like what everyone said on yelp. It's a little hole-in-the-wall place with delicious, cheap food. Bonus - it wasn't even greasy!! All of the ingredients seemed relatively fresh. There was a great selection of vegetarian tacos, which made me excited even though I'm not one.

Also, the special for today was fried ice cream for $2! I don't think I've ever heard of this until earlier today when I was reading The Hungry Runner Girl and she posted a recipe for it! Fate.

Justin didn't sound as excited about the fried ice cream as I was, so I thought I was going to have at least three-fourths of it to myself...grrrr....once he got a was a race to the end.

We left very happy campers!! I was walking on air as we walked to our car. Can't wait to try more restaurants through yelp and I'll definitely be back to Chubbys.

Have you tried restaurants based on reviews from yelp?? Do you ever write your own reviews?!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nutrition Ed. 101

Ever since I started taking running "seriously," I've become more aware of my overall health and fitness, and thus I've begun to take strength training and nutrition a little more seriously.

I have found that the last two items have been the secret ingredient to overall health and fitness in addition to my running.

I love running, but it doesn't tone everything and leaves me super hungry. This is where strength training and nutrition have come in handy. After reading all of y'alls awesome blogs with great recipes, and nutritional information, I've taken an interest in learning more about the best ways to fill up my body with the good stuff so that I'm not hungry even after eating.

I've even adapted some of your meals into my daily rotation...

Exhibit A from Meals for Miles:

Strawberries, blue berries, black berries, walnuts, and Greek yogurt. Yum! I look forward to this lunch

Or Exhibit B...I can't wait to try some of these recipes:
The Detox Salad from Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat
Basketball sized salad from The Hungry Runner Girl
Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins from MegaNerd Runs
Grilled Tuna over Arugula with Lemon Vinaigrette from Gina's Skinny Recipes
Pico de Gallo Shrimp Salad from Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat
(Plus soooo many more!)

I was flipping through my most recent Runner's World magazine and it had a list titled "Key ingredients to keep handy for no-cook meals". A brief summary of the list included:

Whole-grain pitas and wraps
Canned lentils
Fresh fruit (check)

Canned salmon, sardines, crab
Cooked rotisserie chicken
Deli hard-boiled eggs
Greek yogurt (check)

Healthy Fat
Nuts (check)
Extra-virgin olive oil

All of this means that my above lunch definitely checks off on all three! Good thing I love allll of the above ingredients. Looks like I'm on the right path!

I recently bought my first nutrition book this weekend. Can't wait to learn so much more! I'll give more details once I crack it open.

Are there any books that have changed/inspired you to eat differently? How so? What's your go-to lunch??

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Happy post Fourth of July weekend!!!!

Thank you to all of you who defend our freedom day in and day out.

I celebrated my freedom the old fashioned way... the pool...

...with yummy food hot off the grill...

...and last, but not least, sparklers...

It was the best weekend!! Plus, I got lots of rest, and did lots of reading - my kind of weekend for sure :)

Also, today starts day 1 of half-marathon training! Yayyy!!! It was supposed to be an easy 3 mile run, but my Achilles is being a little funny after my long run on Saturday, so I substituted 3 miles on the elliptical. Not my ideal way to start training, but I'd rather not push it since I have 8 more weeks until race day!

Also, here's a recap from last weeks final week of training freedom:

Monday: REST
Tuesday: HEAT TRX (60 min. of sprints and suspension training)
Wednesday: 4 mile run
Thursday: HEAT (60 min. of sprints and strength training)
Friday: REST
Saturday: 6.5 miles
Sunday: 3 miles

Total: 16.01 miles + 2 hrs of strength training

I'm a little annoyed that my Achilles is being "funny" and am doing my best not to push it too much, but I'm soooo antsy to push myself! This body needs to start acting it's age...but in the mean time...I'm going to finish my suspenseful, page-turning book from this weekend!

How did you spend your Fourth of July?? Did you get a workout in or celebrate with good food??

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Try Something New

I'm a pretty routine person.

I don't like change. I pretty much like to know what to expect and don't like it when life or circumstances alter my chosen plan.

But sometimes, change is good and sometimes it leads me to find new things I love.

My first alteration to my routine came on Tuesday morning. I went to my 6am HEAT Beach Body class thinking I knew exactly what we were going to do that day - 3 minute sprints then 3 minute weights...repeat. I love it. It's intense and it goes by quickly.

Instead, the class instructor replaced weights with TRX suspension training. This involves moving your body through various range of motions and challenges you with your own body weight. It was pretty intense and I'm addicted now. I've been way to scared to try it because I thought I wouldn't be able to walk the next day, which I was really, really sore, but it was the kind of soreness that makes you crave more. The next day when I got out of bed, I felt like my abs were going to rip out of my body. I guess that's a good sign ;)

Check out this awesome video that shows what the class is like:

TRX - Tread & Shred from David Hambridge on Vimeo.

My second "new thing" to my routine involved finding a new running trail. I like having my routine route because I know where the hills are going to be and pretty much know what to expect out of my run. I love this.

However, the other day when I was running my normal route, I noticed a paved path off to the side called Reedy Creek Trail with a poster of a route. Hmmm.....why did I not know about this?

So when I got back from my run, I Googled "Reedy Creek Trail Raleigh, NC" and found that if I took a left instead of a right on my normal route, there's miles of paved trails for bikers and runners.

I was pretty excited this morning to explore part of these trails during my long run, and it made the 6.5 miles pretty entertaining! The first phase of the trail began with the NC Museum of Art. There were several interesting sculptures along the way...


There were quite a few more interesting sculptures. I'll have to bring my camera next time :) The trails were pretty hilly, which was a little bit more of a challenge than I'm used to with my normal route, and in the end I'm very happy with it!

My final "new thing" for the week was cooking with egg whites! I've heard so many great nutritional facts about eggs whites and was excited to make some yummy omelets this week.

They made a delicious dinner during the week and great post-run fuel today :)

What do you think about egg whites? Have you tried anything new this week that you're going to add to your routine??

Happy Fourth of July weekend!!! Can't wait to be poolside!