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2014: A Year in the Kitchen

7 Jan

As JWD and I scribbled down our 2014 goals last week, one goal really stuck out for me: cook more and cook better. Goal writing is not a long-standing tradition for us (2013 was the first), but it proved itself worthy of a repeat. Before we talk cooking, let’s talk goals.

Thinking, writing, and talking about goals can be a powerful catapult to actually achieving them. The more time you spend with your goals, the more REAL and POSSIBLE they become. We like to write ours down, talk about them together, and then post them on the fridge for all to see. This keeps them front and center in our lives, constantly reminding us of what we value. This is key because goals are easy to forget in the daily bustle of life. Out of sight, out of mind. You must make an effort to keep them integrated into everyday life.

Now, back to cooking! Yes, I already cook quite a bit. It’s probably safe to say I cook much more than the average person. However, what many would categorize as “cooking” I do not. When I wrote “cook more” on my goal list, I meant actually cook. Chop things, knead things, sauté things, braise things, follow recipes, and most of all, enjoy and connect with the food while I cook. “Cooking” in 2013 was on auto-pilot… the same things on the menu every week and a lot of non-cooking type of cooking (ex: a bag of frozen veggies + tofu = stir-fry). So what’s the big deal about cooking? Why is it goal-worthy?

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The heart and soul of cooking is about connecting with other humans, sharing, expressing love, nourishing our bodies, unleashing creativity, and taking it upon ourselves to fulfill one of our most basic needs. Cooking is now optional in our society. I am even guilty of fueling this notion. When I sit down with clients for our initial assessment I ask “Do you cook?” as if it is elective.

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However, eating is not optional. At about the same time Americans excused themselves from the kitchen, obesity and chronic disease rates started to rise. We’ve passed off the important responsibility of food preparation to the food industry and they’ve proven themselves untrustworthy for the most part. It’s time to reclaim this duty. And by doing so we will also reclaim our health, our families, and a deeper appreciation of what we are capable of. Magical things happen when you use your five senses and raw ingredients to create something tasty and nourishing for yourself and people you love.

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Cooking every day is not always realistic in our fast-paced jam-packed lives, but doing it whenever you can find the time will be therapeutic. Start small. Here is how I plan to reach my goal:

  1. Read more about cooking (I’m starting with Michael Pollan’s Cooked).
  2. Continue planning weekly meals and include new (and intimidating) recipes.
  3. Cook for others (watch for your invite in the mail (: ).
  4. Encourage others to cook more by sharing my kitchen adventures and teaching people what I learn about conscious cooking (keep your eyes on the blog!).

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Think about your goals. Then write about them, talk about them, and display them for all to see. Map out a plan to make them happen.

And also think about getting your hands dirty in the kitchen once or twice this week.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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The Minimalist Half-Marathon Training Plan

30 Jan

My relationship with running has been rocky and tumultuous. It is plagued with injuries, heat exhaustion, missed PRs and sprinkled with just enough triumphs to keep me coming back for more. After a marathon, many half-marathons, and countless short distance races, I took a substantial break from racing (almost 2 years). I’ve been working hard to correct my imbalances- strengthen where I’m weak and stretch where I’m tight- and I am ready to run again.

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JWD and I are running a half-marathon that is less than 10 weeks away. We have some pretty lofty time goals :), but our main goal is to train and race injury free. Although I want to train for a race, I don’t want to give up my other workouts, so we are following what I call a minimalist training plan. The plan is to only do three runs per week and continue our weekly strength training sessions and yoga practice. Here’s a look at our running schedule:

WEEK TUE THUR SAT/SUN
1 4×400 3-mi tempo 6-mi long
2 4×800 4-mi tempo 8-mi long
3 3×1600 5-mi tempo 10-mi long
4 6×400 6-mi tempo 6-mi long
5 3×1600 4-mi tempo 10-mi long
6 4×800 8-mi tempo 8-mi long
7 6×400 6-mi tempo 10-mi long
8 4×1600 8-mi tempo 12-mi long
9 3×800 3-mi tempo 6-mi long
10 4×400 2-mi tempo RACE DAY

based on http://www.runnersworld.com/race-training/first-half-marathon-training-plan?page=single

The key to minimalist training is making every running workout count, so there are pace goals associated with each run on the plan (check out the link above). I’m excited to get started!

Has anyone else tried a “minimalist” approach to race training?

Thanks for reading 🙂

Drink Your Greens

3 Jan

Happy New Year! It’s the start of a brand new year and a very popular time for questions about detoxing and fasting. Today I’m going to share my advice on that and give you the lowdown on juicing and green smoothies.

So we are all feeling a little heavy, groggy and bloated from too much “holiday cheer”, but do you really need to “cleanse” your body to get rid of all that gunk?

Running on Sunshine verdict: not really. Here’s why…

  •  A normal digestive tract doesn’t need to be manually “cleansed” ESPECIALLY if you have plenty of fiber in your diet. Fiber is nature’s way of cleaning the pipes!
  • Most popular fasting programs have little to NO protein, fat, or fiber. I see this as a major problem. Without these wonderful nutrients, we feel hungry, irritated, and tired. The overall lack of calories also contributes to the fatigue which is the reason for the “no exercise” recommendation that often accompanies many cleansing regimens. A health plan that discourages exercise? Hmm… sounds pretty sketchy to me.
  • Contrary to popular belief, fasting is NOT a good option for weight loss! When you are slashing your calories so drastically, of course you are going to lose weight initially. But what type of “weight” are you losing? Because of the lack of activity, calories, and protein, much of it is muscle mass. NOT GOOD! Losing muscle mass puts the breaks on your metabolism, which is the exact opposite of what we want for weight loss.

I’ve posted about detox diets in more detail here. Check it out!

That being said, it IS a good idea to take steps to “get back on track” or give your body a delicious dose of nutrients to repair any damage done by the constant stream of toxins we take in through processed foods and pollutants.

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A great way to help your body get lean and clean: drink your greens! This is a new commitment for JWD and I. We’ve done it sporadically for a couple years, but we’ve decided to make it a part of our daily routine. Why? I’ll tell you!

  • It’s an easy peasy way to get major nutrition into your body. I am a healthy food expert, and even I fall short of a hefty dose of veggies on some days.
  • Some people take pills, I drink greens. I am a whole-hearted believer in the power of veggies. It truly is the best medicine for whatever ails you. It is the medicine of prevention.
  • It sets the tone for your day! It’s like waking up on the right side of the bed, putting your best foot forward, you get the picture. When you start your morning with a big glass of liquid sunshine, you better believe you’ll be more inclined to put your health first for the rest of the day.
  • It makes you shine! There is something about drinking greens that makes you feel completely vibrant and alive. And if you do it for long enough, you will literally start to shine- hair, skin, eyes, the works. It starts on the inside and makes it’s way to the outside.

Blend it or juice it?

You can drink your greens by juicing or by blending.

Juicing: Juicing requires a juicer which can be a pricy and complex piece of kitchen equipment. I have a very nice juicer and I must admit it only graces the countertop on scarce occasions. When I do dust it off, it’s always worth it. The main benefit of juicing is the lightning fast absorption of nutrients since all the pulp or fiber is removed from the veggies. I know some folks that are completely devoted to their juicers, and for them I have much admiration. Personally, I prefer the simplicity of blending.

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Blending: No fancy equipment needed, just a basic blender. A high-speed blender is needed for blending sturdier produce like apples and carrots. Since the fiber sticks around when you blend, you get to reap its rewards! It fills you up, helps steady your blood sugar, and gives your digestive tract some cleansing love.

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Juice or blend, the choice is yours!

Due to the aforementioned downsides of fasting , Green drinks should not be your sole source of food. HOWEVER they can (and should!) be added to your diet as an extra shot of nutrition or used to replace 1 meal. If you choose to drink your greens as a meal replacement, add some protein and fat like soymilk, Greek yogurt, nut butter, or avocado. This will give it some staying power.

The combinations are endless, so toss the measuring cups aside and start experimenting!

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Sunshine Green Shake 

makes two servings

  • 2 cups coconut water or water
  • 1 banana
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cucumber (peeled and chopped if not using a high-powered blender)
  • 1 handful kale (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 handful spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • Stevia to taste
  • Bonus: for a yummy dose of healthy fats and vitamins, add 1/2 an avocado

Add ingredients to blender in order listed and blend until smooth. Add ice cubes and blend for a colder, thicker drink. Start shining!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Intentions for a New Year

8 Jan

Hello again, friends and Happy New Year!

My long absence can only be explained by severe stress and off-the-charts demands on my time. It’s been a wild ride.

I can’t believe we just wrapped up the first week of 2012! The idea of “New Year Resolutions” is a bit cliche for my taste and the success rate of such resolutions is not very promising. Rather than lofty resolutions, I want to set intentions for the new year to give it some direction and clarify what I want out of this phase of my life. I have spent the first week of the new year reflecting on 2011 and looking forward to what I want out of 2012 and finally, 8 days in, I’m ready to set some intentions. I’ve also been doing tons of yoga to end the old year and start the new which really impacted my goals.

Intentions for 2012:

1. Give to others what I want in return.

This one was inspired by Jen’s New Year post. If I want love, I will give love. If I want kindness, I will give kindness. If I want acceptance, I will give acceptance.

2. Practice loving, kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance with myself.

This one is all about self-love. In yoga, we talk about chakras- points of the body responsible for the reception and transmission of energies. The Heart Chakra is located at the center of the chest and is the center for love, understanding, limitless compassion, empathy and forgiveness. This goal includes stopping the self-guilt, negative self-talk, and taking care of my body with whole foods and exercise.

3. Live with intention.

One of the biggest changes I want to make this year is to practice being present and making every minute intentional. I am such a multi-tasker and while sometimes this is a good thing (and the only way for me to function in my crazy life), it doesn’t always serve me well. This year I want to set intentions for every day, every moment. When I rest, I rest. When I work, I work. This also includes achieving my career goals, fitness goals, engaging in my relationships, and blogging more!

4. Live at my edge, continue to find a new edge, and get rid of the baby elephant syndrome.

In yoga, I find my edge in every pose, breathe into it, push a little further, and find a new edge. This is also a good strategy for life. I want to push my edge a little more and find new potential.

One of my yoga teachers told us a story about baby elephant syndrome that really resonated with me:

An adult elephant can easily uproot huge trees with its trunk; it can knock down a house without much trouble. When an elephant living in captivity is still a baby, it is tied to a tree with a strong rope or a chain every night. Because it is the nature of elephants to roam free, the baby elephant instinctively tries with all its might to break the rope. But it isn’t yet strong enough to do so.

Realizing its efforts are of no use, it finally gives up and stops struggling. After the baby elephant tries and fails many times, it will never try again for the rest of its life.

Later, when the elephant is fully grown, it can be tied to a small tree with a thin rope. It could then easily free itself by uprooting the tree or breaking the rope. But because its mind has been conditioned by its prior experiences, it doesn’t make the slightest attempt to break free. The powerfully gigantic elephant has limited its present abilities based on the limitations of the past- Baby Elephant Syndrome.

Sometimes we let our past experiences and beliefs get in our way. Let go of your baby elephant syndrome! You are capable of so much more than you think! Discover your full potential!

5. Continue to find peace and calmness in the chaos.

This one will be the most difficult for me. My stress response is unreal. Stress is good for my productivity, but terrible for my well-being. I have too darn much I want to accomplish in my life, so I’ve accepted that I will always be living in chaos. Therefore, I must learn to find peace- or I might self-destruct 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

Half Full

13 Apr

First of all, let me direct your attention to the URL box ^^^ above. From now on, I will be blogging from the *new* Running on Sunshine website runonsunshine.com! Bookmark it, people! Or better yet, sign up for an email subscription –>

I also started a Running on Sunshine Facebook Page where I plan to post more casual, everyday photos and tips. Search “Running on Sunshine” on Facebook and “Like” the page! I have to have a certain number of “Likes” before they’ll give me a direct link to the page.

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I really love quirky t-shirts and one of my favorites in my collection is this one:

I wear it on days when I need a little inspiration, a little reminder to look on the bright side. This shirt will definitely come in handy this week as I pick myself up and brush off Sunday’s race.

It didn’t exactly go as I had planned. We finished, overall we had a good time, but it wasn’t pretty. I wanted to post this recap in hopes of helping someone else out there who had (or will someday have) a less than ideal race day.

In the cocoon, running is my thing. JWD’s thing is soccer, but my thing is running. Since college soccer has come to an end, I begged invited JWD to train for a race with me. I had this wonderful ideal in my brain of spending time training together, lining up on race day together, and setting a PR all while impressing him with my endurance and grit. 🙂

So, we trained. We ran on the treadmill, in the rain, in the freezing cold. I got faster (yay!) because I found it much harder to admit to JWD that my lungs were about to explode than to just.keep.running. I was confident that I could muscle through the race at the pace we had set.

I woke up on race day full of excitement. Usually I’m extremely nervous, but knowing JWD would be by my side calmed my nerves. We rode our bikes downtown to the starting line. The forecast predicted a high of 85* and I could feel that the heat and humidity had already started to set in. As I stood in our assigned corral stretching and waiting for the race to start, I noticed I was sweating. This isn’t that strange because I always sweat like crazy, but it was only 7am and I was already sweating!

The race started and the first few miles flew by. We were on pace and feeling great. Then it all went downhill. I started feeling really hot. I looked over at JWD who was drenched in sweat, and then looked at my own skin. It was dry, hot, and salty. Then I started to feel like I couldn’t breathe. I knew something wasn’t right, so I stopped and walked. I’ve never walked in a race before.

Heat and humidity impair your body’s ability to cool itself, especially if you haven’t had time to adjust to the heat. As I walked, I assessed the situation. I felt my PR slipping away and was beginning to feel the sting on my ego. But my body was overheating, and I had to listen to my body. I knew I could finish the race, but it would have to be at a much slower pace.

We did cross the finish line at the best pace my body could muster in those conditions. Needless to say, I did not get my PR. But I also did not have to be rushed to the hospital which is much more important.

Here’s How I’m Getting Over My Bad Race

  • I Shed a Few Tears. Yes, I cried over my race. When you pour so much effort into training, you are allowed to be upset. It’s okay to vent and sulk a little bit.
  • I Analyzed What Went Wrong. I reviewed the days leading up to the race- how much did I sleep? what did I eat and drink? how did I feel? My body probably just wasn’t used to the heat and humidity. Everyone’s body is different and will therefor react differently under various circumstances. Try to identify the variables that impacted your performance and realize that certain variables are completely out of your control. Anything can happen on race day- weather, illness, injury- and you have to learn to adapt.
  • I Identified The Positives. In every negative situation, there are positives to be found. I realize that under the circumstances, I did the best I could and I finished. Even though it hurt my ego, I was able to adapt to the situation and fight through it. I got to run my first race with JWD, and we will definitely never forget it. I was also able to watch many of my friends fight through the hot, hilly coarse and cross the finish line.
  • I’m Working On Setting New Goals. Now that I’ve put the less-than-perfect race day behind me, I can look forward to my next fitness goals. I can’t wait to start lifting again! Take what you learned from the bad race and use it to improve your training and mindset going in to your next race.

2011 isn’t over yet, so I have plenty of time and plenty of races to set a PR.

My glass is definitely half full (of coconut water).

Don’t forget to bookmark and subscribe to the new site and find Running on Sunshine on Facebook!

Thanks for reading 🙂

First Post of 2011: Crafting and Detoxing

5 Jan

The feasts have been eaten, the presents opened, the tree trimmed and untrimmed. The parties have been given, the champaign drank, the hangovers suffered, the holiday season has come to an end.

Now what?

In my last post I suggested setting some goals for the new year- to give the year purpose and direction. To please the creative creature inside of me, I set my 2011 goals in the form of an inspiration board.

This board will hang in my closet and remind me of my goals everyday.

What are my goals, you ask? Here’s a few…

In 2011 I will… continue blogging, aim for one post per week and begin posting a workout of the week, and expand my readership.

In 2011 I will… set a half-marathon PR.

In 2011 I will… become a CPT (Certified Personal Trainer).

In 2011 I will… learn to better manage my stress and commit to a regular yoga practice.

In 2011 I will… make an effort to use my cookbooks and recipe collections (to get us out of our dinner rut).

The new year is also a popular time to give your body a clean slate. The sluggish, bloated, overfed feeling of the holidays becomes blatant, and the urge to detox, fast, and cleanse ensues.

A lot of controversy surrounds detoxing in the scientific world. Is it safe? Is it necessary?   Does it work?

Three Beliefs About Detoxing

It will help you lose weight.

The Truth: Most detox programs (fasting, juicing, etc.) are very low in calories, so weight loss is an obvious side-effect and most of the loss will be water. Because these diets are not sustainable, long-term ways of life, the weight loss probably won’t last. As soon as you return to your normal eating routine (or even just a healthy calorie level) you will likely regain some weight. The worst part about extreme fasting is that it will eventually slow your metabolism and make it harder for your body to burn calories! Detoxing/fasting is NOT a quick-fix way to lose weight.

Your body needs to be cleansed.

The Truth: If I have learned only one thing in my education, it is that the human body is an incredible contraption. It continues to operate even under the most abusive conditions (ahem, Western Diet). When treated correctly, our bodies will detoxify themselves without extreme fasting and cleanses. Our bodies don’t want to be filled with laboratory chemicals and additives. There are many innate detoxifying mechanisms working inside of us everyday. All you have to do is treat your body right (see guidelines below) and it will clean itself.

You have to go all out or it won’t work.

The Truth: Many detox programs are very extreme. The most popular example is the Master Cleanse. The only thing consumed in the Master Cleanse is a water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup concoction. These types of cleanses can be very dangerous and do not, in my opinion, embody a healthy, balanced lifestyle. The side effects of extreme cleanses make it very difficult to lead a normal life. Think unpredictable changes in bowel movements, stinky body odor and breath, breakouts on the skin, nausea, and severe lethargy due to the low nutrient/energy intake. I believe that a healthy, cleansing lifestyle should include exercise and most extreme detox programs advise against exercise because of low energy levels. There’s just something not quite right about that…

Detoxifying your body doesn’t have to consist of starvation. You shouldn’t have to tuck yourself away in your house for a week with a bottle of lemon juice to sleep and purge away all of your toxins. Try these easy tweaks to feel cleansed and healthy.

A Safer (and easier) Way to Detoxify Your Body

*remember that I am not a registered dietitian yet. These recommendations are based  solely on my personal experience and education thus far.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

The best way to heal your body from holiday abuse is with good old-fashioned fruits and vegetables. Your body wants and needs fruits and veggies! They will help to naturally detoxify, nourish, and repair your body. Boosting your intake will make you feel clean and energized in no time. My favorite way to boost my fruits and veggies? Spinach fruit smoothies and green juice (green juice post coming soon!)

Ditch the Chemicals

Cut out highly-processed foods– restaurant meals, fast-food, condiments, prepackaged foods, and sodas. These foods are full of artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, and other additives. Think of it as putting poisons into your body. Our bodies don’t recognize these laboratory chemicals and their presence wreaks havoc as our bodies try to figure out how to process/store them. The same goes for non-organic fruits and vegetables which are covered in pesticides and other chemicals. The best way to detoxify your body is to stop putting toxins into it. Simple.

Give Veganism a Chance

Or at least cut back for a day or two. Animal products are usually more processed and harder for our bodies to digest than plant foods. By decreasing your meat and dairy consumption and increasing your plant consumption you are giving your digestive system a rest. If you do continue to consume animal products, stick to low-fat versions in small portions.

Lose the Sugar High (And Sodium Too)

As discussed in this post, added sugars distress the body. And after weeks of pumpkin pies, candy canes, Christmas cookies, and cocktails, your body is probably begging you to lose the sugar high. Cut out the added sugars in your breakfast cereal, soda, ice cream, venti mocha caramel latte with whipped cream, etc. and you’ll be on the road to recovery. These same processed foods are also loaded with sodium. If you’re feeling bloated, cutting back on sodium intake will make you feel better.

Hydrate With H2O

Just like guideline #1, the best way to detoxify and cleanse the body is with good old-fashioned water. Water has probably taken a back seat to all the egg nog and hot toddies, so there’s no better time to start guzzling. Many holiday staples such as high-sugar foods, caffeine, and alcohol dehydrate the body. Water consumption will help rehydrate, fill you up, and flush out toxins. Shoot for at least 8 cups a day.

Following the above recommendations for a week, a few days, or even just 24 hours will help heal the holiday fun damage and make you feel lighter and healthier.

Happy 2011 and thanks for reading 🙂

New Year’s Resolutions and Workout of the Week

30 Dec

I hope everyone survived the Christmas weekend. I did. (barely). It was a wonderful weekend filled with friends and family. I’m a lucky girl! And I succeeded in contributing something healthy to every gathering I attended 🙂

What an exciting week this is. We are on the brink of a brand new year. I love the new year because it offers us a clean slate of sorts– it gives us motivation to initiate a fresh start, a new beginning.

BUT it also signals a time when lofty unrealistic goals are set and broken. New Year’s resolutions have gotten a bad reputation. I think resolutions are great, you just have to know how to set smart goals.

New Year’s Resolution Guidelines for Success!

1) Your resolution should be specific. Specific goals provide focus. (Instead of “lose weight”, “lose 10 pounds”)

2) Your resolution should be measurable. Give your goals a numerical boundary so you can track your progress. (Instead of “increase running mileage”, “increase running mileage to 30 miles per week by adding 2 miles each week”)

3) Your resolution should be attainable and realistic. Choose something that you are passionate about– losing weight, running faster, getting your ab muscles to show, feeling energized, trying one new recipe every week. It’s great to set ambitious goals, but make sure they are realistic or you’ll set yourself up for failure. For example, it probably isn’t realistic for a sedentary fast food junky to resolve that on January 1st they will exercise every single day and never eat fast food again. Set small, realistic goals that you can build on. (“start walking one day a week for 30 minutes and eat one less fast food meal a week”)

4) Your resolution should be time-framed. This will keep you from avoiding your goals (“I’ll start that diet tomorrow…”). Set a deadline for your goals. (Instead of “lose weight”, “lose 1/2 pound each week for the next 6 months”)

New Year’s Day is a great day to work on your New Year’s resolutions. After all of the celebrations have subsided, reflect on 2010. What did you achieve? What didn’t go as well as you’d hoped? Next, look ahead to 2011. What do you see yourself doing? What would you like to work on? Set a few goals, keeping the above guidelines in mind, and put them somewhere where you can see them everyday. (I’ll show you how I set my resolutions in the next post).

Remember that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to. You are stronger than you think! Make 2011 your year!

I’ll let you in on the rest of my 2011 goals in the next post, but here’s one for now. One of my goals is to start posting a “Workout of the Week” on Running on Sunshine.

The first workout I’m going to post is a HIIT workout. HIIT stands for “High Intensity Interval Training”. This type of training is intended to burn fat and improve performance in a short amount of time. It consists of a warm-up, 6 or more sets of high intensity exercise followed by low/medium intensity exercise, and ends with a cool-down. The sets can be done in any ratio you like (1:1, 2:1, 1:2, etc.). I love HIIT training because it is a quick way to blast calories and it can be done on any machine (treadmill, elliptical, bike, road walking/running) and by any fitness level.

Today I did a 30 minute HIIT outdoor running workout with a 1:2 easy:hard ratio.

Minute                    Intensity

1-5                              easy warm-up walk/jog

5-6                              low/medium intensity run

6-8                              high intensity run (as fast as you can sustain for 2 min)

**Repeat minutes 5-8 six more times for a total of seven sets**

26-30                          easy cool-down jog

I was sweating like a monkey when I finished this workout. 🙂

Stay tuned for my 2011 resolutions. Thanks for reading 🙂

Healthy for the Holidays

25 Nov

The holiday season is my favorite time of year. Fireplaces, slippers, baking, family gatherings, and celebrations with friends.

But with all of the snuggling and celebrating, health and fitness tend to take a backseat. Next thing we know, the holidays are over- and fond memories aren’t the only thing we’ve gained.

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Here’s a few tips on how to make your holiday season a little bit healthier.

  • Eat before you go. Never go to a holiday party with an empty stomach. If your stomach is growling, you will be tempted to devour everything in site. Have a well-balanced snack such as apples and peanut butter, greek yogurt, or whole grain crackers with light spreadable cheese. The same goes for breakfast. Even if you have a big feast planned later in the day, stick to a healthy eating routine for the rest of your meals.
  • Share something healthy. If you’re asked to bring a dish or if you’re hosting, contribute some healthy fare. Vegetable side dishes, salads, and fruit can all be festive and delicious. At most holiday gatherings high-calorie foods are plentiful, so there’s plenty of room for something light and healthy.
  • Survey the buffet. When faced with a buffet of food, survey the selection first and then make your decisions. If we simply grab a plate and start at the beginning, we will almost always over-serve ourselves. Maybe the cheesy casserole looks good– until you spot the buttery potatoes at the other end. Choose your favorites and do without the not-so-tempting items.
  • Plan your indulgences. Look at your holiday calendar and recognize the events that you know you will indulge. Plan for these indulgences by maintaining a balanced, healthy diet and exercise routine for the week before the event. And by all means, enjoy your indulgences and don’t beat yourself up about it the next day! By now you all know that I am a huge fan of savoring and enjoying food!
  • Distract yourself. Believe me, I am a lover of food, BUT it doesn’t have to be the focus of your holiday season. Don’t sit right next to the buffet, don’t linger over the hors d’oeuvres. DO participate in fun holiday games and DO enjoy great conversations with friends and family.
  • Resist food pushers. The holidays are full of food pushers- those people tempting you with second helpings and waving rich desserts in front of your face, offering to serve you a heaping slice. IT IS OKAY TO POLITELY SAY NO. There’s nothing wrong with a nice “No thank you. That looks delicious, but I’m stuffed.” Those who care about you will not be offended.
  • Water is your friend. Drink it before and during meals. Drink it in between cocktails. Your body (and your hangover) will thank you.
  • Watch out for “tastes”. Whether it’s taste tests in the kitchen, a sample of the latest frozen cheesecake at the grocery store, or a handful of mixed nuts in the break room, these little tastes can add up to hundreds of extra calories. At this time of year, it is extra important to be conscious of what you put in your mouth.
  • Prepare for leftovers. Getting stuck with mounds of leftovers is a dieter’s worst nightmare. If you are hosting and don’t want half a leftover pumpkin pie calling your name from the fridge, be prepared. Buy tupperware containers, cling wrap, etc. to make it easy for guests to take home leftovers.
  • Squeeze in as much exercise as you can. Everyone is extra busy this time of year which makes it extra hard to find time for exercise. But it’s also an extra important part of staying healthy! So try to squeeze it in whenever you can. Get together with friends for a local Turkey Trot or Jingle Bell Run. Round up the family for a walk after dinner. Organize a holiday walk to look at neighborhood Christmas lights. Park at the back of the parking lot when doing your Christmas shopping. Make it a priority to give yourself 30 minutes a day to sweat. Bonus: exercise releases happy hormones that help relieve stress!

**Something to consider from Nourish: Your Thanksgiving Meal in Calories

Remember to enjoy this special time of year, treat yourself right, and ring in the New Year feeling fabulous about yourself!

I am so thankful for YOU, the readers of Running on Sunshine!

Stay tuned for my holiday adventures!

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for reading (:

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