Take a Hike

Take a Hike

With gyms and yoga studios closed during this pandemic, one of the best things to do is going for a walk or hike. On the days I don’t run, I really look forward to hiking.  

Before the pandemic, I used to walk with friends several times a month. However, with social distancing, that isn’t possible. I usually walk alone or with my teenagers. Walking has allowed me to gain precious conversation time with them. It is amazing what we can talk about without phones, earbuds or other devices. It has brought us closer.

Sometimes you run into a few friends like turtles, frogs and deer. Sometimes we run into a few snakes. They are usually non-venomous and are as scared of us as we are of them!

The trees provide a lot of shade in the North Carolina heat and humidity. It is at least 15 degrees cooler in the shade!

Wildflowers are abundant and everywhere.

Babbling brooks are so peaceful. Standing by moving water is like meditation.

Sometimes you run into things that make you wonder…”What is this red thing”?

Rainy day walks with umbrellas are fun too.

Going early in the day means fewer people and less crowding. I really look forward to my walks. I hope you can get outdoors safely and take a hike. Long walks are truly underrated. It’s good for mental health and good for fitness. Stay safe!

Unwitting Title

Unwitting Title

SoHo House Chicago Margarita
Spicy SoHo House Chicago Margarita

I have acquired the unwitting title of “Margarita Maker”.  I did not seek this title, but everyone talks tequila with me as though I’m George Clooney and Randy Gerber.  As a lifelong calorie-phobe, I have always been on the lookout for low-calorie drinks.  Alcohol was never a requirement in my diet.  Although in college, we drank a lot of beer at fraternities and boy this put me off beer for life.  And, a group of us would go bar hopping as seniors and drink long island ice teas.  Now one of those was all I needed because we ran and didn’t bother with dinner!  We usually got pizza around midnight.  Sigh, youth.

I moved onto vodka and pineapple juice in my early twenties.  I was introduced to this drink by a coworker.  After finding out that my new and cool drink was over 350 calories a serving, I lost interest…

Gimlets, either gin or vodka were my go to drink in my late twenties.  My husband’s uncle, who drove a Porsche 911 made one for me and I loved them.  It is what all the cool grown ups were drinking in the late 90’s.  My early thirties were all about marathon training.   I did not drink any alcohol then because those long training runs were brutal.

What bought me back to drinking was playdates with fellow moms.  I remember a lot of wine playdates.  I am not a wine person and therefore decided to drink something else.  Somewhere in my kitchen was a large stainless steel cocktail mixer with a dozen drink recipes on.  Just twirl to the drink of choice and the ingredients appeared on the side!  Before this margarita immersion, the only margaritas I had were from that fancy restaurant chain “Chi Chi’s”!  The super sweet, goopy, made with fake margarita mix concoctions that came in gigantic glasses.

I made the margarita recipe from my cocktail mixer.  It was too sweet for me and had too many calories.  I did experiment with some other versions, but I did not care for them.  There are many, many margarita recipes out there.  But I came across a simple recipe that is the best margarita I have ever had.  It is refreshing, delicious and not too sweet.  Just for the record, one of these is all I need.

Seshu’s Margarita

1.5 oz Tequila (silver or reposado)

1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice

1 t agave syrup

crushed ice to taste

Combine all ingredients, shake and serve.

Seshu's Margarita
My Margarita with a silver tequila

A Legend…in my own mind

A Legend…in my own mind

The rule is…there are no rules!  For decades, I had three rules that I ran by.

  1. Once you start running, don’t stop until you finish your said miles.
  2. If you can talk when you are running, you are not going fast enough.
  3. No music, that’s cheating.  I am a purist…thank you very much.

So, those rules worked in my twenties and thirties.  Nowadays, I have a phone and GPS watch strapped to my left arm, water bottle or pepper spray in my right hand.  And I will mention the metal plate and six screws in my right leg.  (Fell down the stairs during my second pregnancy at 37 weeks, tri-malleolar fracture…that story is another post).

My younger self would have never believed it.  But to be fair to myself, I am running longer and faster than I ever did.  Aside from training for marathons back then, I usually ran twelve miles a week in my twenties and fifteen miles a week in my thirties.  That is all it took to stay in shape back then.  Aah, youth.  I run over 25 miles a week now…Dear metabolism…thanks for nothing!

I have come to accept aging and all the rules I have to break to manage.  I think breaking those rules and getting rid of my running vanity has made me faster and able to run longer.  Apple music has made my hot and humid Raleigh runs so much more bearable.  Stopping to drink water is just a necessity in our humid state.  And talking while running is okay too because slow days are necessary to prevent overuse injuries.

A lot of my runner friends have asked me what I listen to when I run.  I have no shame in liking these songs.  Whatever works right?!

I have so many favorites, but here are some tunes with a fast beat that take me up those hills:

Fantasy, Aldo Nova

Original Sin, INXS

Evenflow, Pearl Jam

Magnificent Seven, Clash

Legs, ZZ Top

Dr. Feelgood, Motley Cru

Kickstart My Heart, Motely Cru

Iron Lion Zion, Bob Marley

How Do U Want It, 2Pac

Renegades of Funk, Rage Against The Machine

No Church in the Wild, Kanye and Jay Z

Bullet the Blue Sky, U2

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Bono, U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour, Chicago, United Center, 2015

 

Happy running to you all!  I will have my Chickpea Fry recipe in my next post!

 

 

 

Small Steps

Small Steps

It is the middle of January.  While I haven’t been perfect in checking off everything in my New Year’s to do list, I am on the right track.

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On getting enough sleep:  I have made it to bed at 10:30 only once in the past two weeks.  My bed times have been between 11 pm and 11:30 pm.

On managing my time:  I am doing better on this one.  I have been finishing about 90% off my daily to do list.  However, I haven’t started meditation yet.  I did download several apps to help me do this.

On getting back to my usual running pace and mileage:  This one is going well.  I have managed to get back to doing physical therapy.   I am back to my usual mileage and the physical therapy is going to get me back to my usual pace.

Trying to improve my habits is going to take time and won’t happen overnight.  Small steps will lead to my goals.  I have to remember that each day is a fresh start and a chance to improve.  It’s funny that I am so disciplined in certain areas of my life such as my Vegan diet, exercising and managing the household.  But I slack off with sleep, time management and physical therapy.

I am entering everything I need to do into my calendar.  This way, my schedule is on every device:  iPhone, iPad and Mac.  I have got reminders and alerts on items that involve others.  The calendar will help me become more mindful of what needs to get done.  Hope your New Year plans are going in the right direction also!

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A Brand New Year

A Brand New Year

The New Year is just days away.  Every year, I have friends and family who make resolutions.  Resolutions to change habits, lose weight, do more of something…the list goes on.  Many of them achieve success but many of them don’t make it past March.

I have never made New Year resolutions in the past.  But this year, I plan on improving myself.  The path to change is not easy right?  It is not enough to say “I want to change…”.  There needs to be a plan with details for change to happen.  Writing down the changes you want to make, may or may not help you.  This year, I am writing them down.

Change 1:  Get enough sleep.  Shut everything off and be in bed by 10:30 pm.

Change 2:  Manage my time better.  Write down a schedule for each day of the week because everyday is different.  I will use my calendar to help me from missing events and scramble last minute.

Change 3:  Get back to my usual running pace and mileage.  I have been plagued with injuries and simply need to do my physical therapy in order to improve certain muscles.  I have been blowing off my exercises and it has really affected the way I feel and how I run.

It is a brand new year and I want to make it count.  I want to make it an awesome year for me, my family and my friends.  Will keep you posted on how it is going!  (Pun intended…)

Are you planning on improving yourself this year?  How will you do it?

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Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota Florida

 

 

 

Cauliflower Crush

Cauliflower Crush

 

I love cauliflower.  It tastes good, its satisfying and its low in calories.  This dish keeps me happy and keeps me from snacking after dinner.  I am always looking for new ways to make cauliflower.  Most of my recipes are unintentional.  Meaning, they come about because of what I have in my fridge or pantry!  This dish was accidental, but it is really good if you like spicy Buffalo sauce.  Other vegan buffalo cauliflower dishes have breading, but my version is tasty without the extra calories.  I may try a breaded version after I am back to running my usual mileage and injury free!

 

Spicy Tangy Buffalo Cauliflower

1 head of Cauliflower, washed and cut into 2 inch florets

2 T olive oil

1/4 C Buffalo sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot, mine is a grocery store brand)

4 T Nutritional yeast

1/2 t garlic powder

2-3 T water

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl, coat cauliflower florets in the olive oil until all pieces are coated.

Roast cauliflower for about 20 minutes until they turn soft and have a little color on the tops. Turning them over once halfway, after 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them as oven temperatures vary.

In a small bowl, mix together buffalo sauce, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, water and salt.  If your sauce is too thick, add another tablespoon of water.

Pour the mixture on the hot cauliflower and serve with your favorite bread, grains or legumes.

This dish serves around 4 people.  And has approximately 130 calories per serving.

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Spicy Tangy Buffalo Cauliflower

 

 

Unbearable Lightness of Being

Unbearable Lightness of Being

Rain is sprinkling lightly.  I am gearing up to run.  A little rain is not going to spoil my workout.  I try to run at least three days a week, usually 25+ miles a week. There are two days that I bike with my workout buddy, M.  Running has been a must for me since I was 14 years old.  It helped me lose weight as a teenager and has become a necessity like air or water.  Most people who don’t run always ask me how I run by myself and why I run so many miles.  The simple answer is “I feel like a million bucks.”  I have this “lightness” after my runs.  I like to call it an “Unbearable Lightness of Being”.  Yes, it is a runner’s high, endorphins…There is a Daniel Day Lewis movie by the same name, but that lightness is not from running!

I wish I could bottle that feeling so my friends, who always shake their heads at me, can feel it too.  If they did, I bet they too would take up running or biking.  This feeling lasts all day.  On the days that I don’t run or bike, I don’t feel light.  Unfortunately, I can’t run everyday because I have a metal plate and six screws in my left leg, (that’s another post!).

M and I have both suffered from overuse injuries this spring and summer.  These injuries are fixable through physical therapy.  Both of us are working through them and injuries are not a reason to stop moving.  When one of us could not run or bike, we walked.  Walking is a great exercise.  It certainly takes longer to walk than run, but it still moves major muscle groups and burns calories.  And the best part, it gets the heart rate up and results in that “unbearable lightness of being”.  Now, I can’t tell you at what mileage or how long it will take for you to feel “lightness”.  Each person is different and therefore, it will be a pleasant discovery for you.

According to most health experts, a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy.  In my suburbia, we don’t walk very much.  Most people drive to their gym and drive elsewhere.  Compared to the rest of the world, Americans are very sedentary.  My mom and dad were really surprised to see how many steps they got in a day.  Their inexpensive Fibit clips have motivated them to get 10,000+ steps a day.  My mom is now understanding how good it feels to walk.  She has lost a few pounds, but isn’t feeling the “lightness” yet.  It takes time and patience.  I like to encourage her everyday because it will happen and she will feel it!  I have included one of my easy post workout snacks below.

 

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE

2 T Jif Peanut Butter Powder

2 T Trader Joe’s Chocolate Hemp Powder

1 T Nesquick or Cadbury’s sweetened Chocolate Powder

1.5  C So Delicious Xtra Protein Vanilla Almond Milk or your milk of choice

Based on the nutrition label on each product, I calculated about 235 calories and 16 g protein.

Combine all ingredients in an immersion blender or regular blender and enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friendship

Friendship

“Don’t walk in front of me…I may not follow.  Don’t walk behind me…I may not lead.  Walk beside me…just be my friend.

__ Albert Camus

 

It is so much easier to make friends as a child.  No inhibitions, no baggage and no preconceived notions.  The majority of adults have an average of two close friends.  Why is it so hard to make friends as an adult?  I am referring to friends other than a partner or spouse.  Family, kids and schedules cramp friendships.  As people get older, they get set into their habits and are unwilling to change.

I had a lot of friends as a child, teenager and as a young adult.  However, having kids really strained some of my friendships over the past decade and I have lost many. Facebook has connected me back to many of those.  These days I have a few really “immediate” friends.  By that I mean friends who I interact with daily and appreciate me for who I am.  They know the good, bad and ugly, yet remain friends with me.

My parents and my two younger sisters are my closest friends.  It’s a different relationship because we’re family.  It’s unconditional.  We are constantly teasing and joking.  Insults are the norm.  Some of our friends are shocked and appalled at the things we say.  But it’s all in good fun.  We have always been there for each other, barbs and all.  I can’t imagine not talking to my parents or sisters everyday and not crack a joke.

My workout buddy “M” and I are friends.  Our friendship is very simple and pure.  We have been running and biking together for almost six years.  We spend countless hours on trails talking about life, family and just cracking bad jokes about people on the trail.  It is nice to talk to a friend that listens to rants and does not judge.  We finish our workouts and say “see you next time”.  My youngest sister always says “I can’t believe M puts up with you for those 8 mile runs!”

Then there are my other friends.  They know who they are!  There are the ones who text me funny gifs long-distance.  There are the ones who keep my neighborhood funny and interesting.

Friendships are a two way street.  I have found that there is no perfect friend.  Some of my friends have shocked me with their views which are polar opposite from mine.  Yet, we respect each others views and agree to disagree.  Even if some of them have made rude or insensitive comments over the years, I have realized that they have a good and caring side too.  As I get older, I find myself brushing off comments and issues from my friends that would have ended our friendship years ago.  I have learned to let things go and it takes a lot of patience. Even if you are an introvert at heart like I am, you really do need to have a few friends.

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Passing by…

Passing by…

I am back on the trail and running at 50% of my usual mileage and running slower.  Sigh, rehab!   I think I have been running and biking on this trail for about 5 years.  My running buddy and I have gotten used to seeing some familiar faces over the years.  We call these dudes our “boyfriends”.  These guys appear to be over 60 and look strong and dedicated.  One of them wears a hydration pack and runs a minimum of thirteen miles from our calculations.  Another guy rides his bike for at least 30+ miles.  So this summer, we haven’t seen any of these guys around.  We cannot figure out what happened to them.  They just disappeared.  We miss them.  I mean, we have gotten used to seeing them every week.  They wave and say “hi” and we wave back.  I hope they come back.  They were so inspirational.  Meanwhile, we have seen a few new ones…not the same though.

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Back on the trail again…although slowly

Back on the trail again…although slowly

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My last post was back in June.  The kids and I were in Chicago for three weeks.  That may seem long to some, but we only see grandparents and cousins twice a year.  Chicago is just wonderful in the summer.  We do all the museums every year and find new restaurants.  Both my kids are into running this summer, so the Lakeshore trail and the Northwestern track were a daily must-do.  Unfortunately, my mom ended up in the urgi-care first and then the ER for two days.  Luckily, all her tests came back normal, although her mystery chest pain is still lingering.  Weight loss is still the key to this mystery.  My twelve year old son got his grandparents some clip-on Fitbits.  So cute.  They have 10,000 daily steps as a goal.  My mom has lost several pounds since…keeping my fingers crossed.IMG_0270On the day we came back to North Carolina, I woke up with the worst sinus infection.  It lasted all of July and even with a z-pak.  In addition to my troubles, I had to have a toenail removed from a subungal hematoma (runner’s toenail).  And, my ankle with the metal plate and six pins was swelling and painful in one area.  Oy vey!  After a visit to the Ortho and three X-rays later, I was put on a “back to running” protocol.  The hardware looked solid and it is a soft tissue issue.  Rhyme intended.  I am really bad at following this sort of thing.  Because in my mind, I am still 18 and invincible.  However, I am taking it easy.  I haven’t run ten miles since Chicago and I have built up to around 4.  Boy, it takes patience to rehab.  I know this all too well having a shattered ankle 9 years go, but it is still hard.  I just want to go run!  I am being good and doing my stretches and exercises.  I keep reminding myself that if my mom can work up to 15,000 steps a day, I too can be patient, have self-control and take it slow.  I will be back.IMG_0271