Sometimes…

Sometimes…

Sometimes, even us disciplined and regular runners fall off our diehard pedestals. I am that girl that will say, “…let’s just run up the hill and then go back…” However, for the better part of 2019, I was trying to overcome a few running injuries. Knee pain, hamstring pain and achilles pain kept me from my regular runs. The decreased activity contributed to my 5 lb weight gain. I had a Thyroid Lobectomy in my 20’s and still take a small dose of Synthroid 0.1 mg. So keeping my weight in check has been a life long pain in the behind.

But as I gets older, so does my metabolism. I was struggling with losing just a few pounds. In the past, it would have taken me only a few weeks to lose this weight. Also, my motivation was shot from the pain I felt from running and biking. My activity level was very low along with my mood and energy.

Apple Watch Nike Version

In February, I was gifted an Apple Watch. This watch helped me lose the weight. I never needed motivation to run or bike in the past but my various injuries really ruined my regular exercise routine. The watch has the “Move”, “Exercise” and “Stand” features that show Activity level. It was eye opening to see how little I was moving on the days I didn’t run or bike. I have my “Move” goal set to 510 calories. Working in front of a computer all day, driving to and from carpool and doing housework contributes very little to this goal!

Move, Exercise and Stand Goals

Just seeing that my “Move” goal was not being met on those days motivated me to move! It was like my conscience reminding me that I had work to do. Walking on off days helped me reach my Move goal and lose the weight. I really like the watch’s cellular features. I won’t go into all the features that are cool about the watch. But being able to stream music through wireless headphones and leaving my iPhone at home on my trail runs is great when it is 90+ degrees outside. I feel guilty when my “Move” goal is not met. The Apple Watch is keeping me in check.

Meeting My Move Goals
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!

 

 

 

Only on the weekends

Only on the weekends

My kids told me the that their Dad makes better grilled cheese and better chocolate milk than I do.  How can that be possible?  Well, he adds extra cheese and butter on the sandwich and extra chocolate in the milk of course!  As a family, our diet is mostly healthy and we eat out only once or twice a week.  However, I often find Oreos, Doritos, premixed chocolate milk, yogurt with candy pieces and ice cream of all varieties when my husband B. goes shopping.  I can’t even go on about the secret weekend donut/dessert runs.  These take place early in the morning on weekends when I am still asleep or out for a run.

I have told B. that taste is acquired for healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits.  While sugar is readily accepted by kids.  Kids have more taste buds and their taste buds are more sensitive.  Taste involves not just physical signals but sensory ones too. (Accounting for Taste)  We find food to be tastier if it is plated nicely on pretty dish or a fancy spoon.  Food appears attractive when it it is presented with garnishes.  We are already bombarded with images of unhealthy foods that are loaded in fat, calories and sugar.  And those images are not of fresh, whole foods that are unprocessed fruits, vegetables or grains.

With each meal, I try to include a fresh fruit or vegetable.  I would like my kids to be exposed to these tastes everyday.  Taste can be changed.  For example, people with health issues that are forced to cut back or sugar or salt, find the foods they used to eat previously taste too salty or too sugary after a few months.  The more we eat certain foods, the more we get used to the taste.

While I can’t stop B. from buying junk food, I do have solace in the fact that taste changes with age.  (Taste changes with age)  As we get older, the number of taste buds adults have decreases.  Adults have around 10,000 taste buds and kids have 30,000.  And, we are more inclined as adults to try new foods and new tastes.  Grown ups look at food not only from a taste perspective, but a health perspective also.  I am confident that my kids will eat better as they get older.  Both of them now eat tomatoes, lettuce, onions, olives, broccoli and green beans which was unheard of just a few years ago.

I can assure you that I am not the food police in our house.  With a Dietetics and Nutrition background and I know how to counter the unhealthy food.  I let them eat the unhealthy food, but in limited quantities.  Big desserts in our house are for the weekends only.  I adopted this rule from one of my daughter’s classmates who was lamenting how horrible her life was without weekday desserts.  Before you think I am a mean and awful Mom…during the weekdays, my kids drink chocolate milk for breakfast and lunch.  I pack a little something sweet in their lunch like a small cookie or chocolate.  And they eat a PB&J for lunch everyday at school (their favorite).  I know they will remember the “dessert on weekends only” with great fondness…hardship makes us stronger…right?!

The following recipe is a vegan Hot Artichoke Dip that even my kids love.  It is low in calories and big on taste.  I hope you like it.

 

Hot Vegan Artichoke Dip

2 cans of quartered Artichoke Hearts (14 oz cans)

2 T Vegan Mayonnaise (I use “Follow Your Heart” Veganaise)

2 T Nutritional Yeast

1 t Garlic Powder

1 t Salt

Drain the artichokes and add them to a food processor.  Add the Veganaise, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt and blend until smooth.  If your dip is too thick, try adding a tablespoon of water or several as needed.  Empty into a serving bowl and microwave for one minute or empty into a pan and heat until hot.  I like to eat mine with veggies, toasted baguette slices or toasted pita/chapati/naan.

 

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Hot Vegan Artichoke Dip with Veggie & Baguette slices

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

 

 

 

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