Monday, December 31, 2012

Hello 2013, Goodbye 2012!

Here we are, on the last day of 2012! It's time to reflect on year behind us and get ready for the awesomeness ahead!  I'm a big fan of resolutions and goals.  As long as they're done properly.  Instead of making generic resolutions like "be healthy", "lose weight" or "exercise more", it's important to set yourself up for success!  Creating realistic and measurable goals will hold you more accountable and give you something concrete to strive for in the coming year.  

Before creating my big goals for 2013, I of course had to review my 2012 goals.  Halfway through the year, I checked in on these goals and realized I didn't set the bar high enough.  I had achieved almost every goal and decided to set a few more to finish out 2012.  I was pretty successful again...

1. Complete my second half-marathon. Check! 

2. PR in the 10K distance. Fail. The only 10K race I completed in the second half of the year was recently at the Hot Chocolate 10K and it was rough.  No PR for me!  Maybe I'll kick off 2013 with a new 10K PR at the Joe Kleinerman?

3. Run the 25K Turkey Trot with Dad. BOOM! Big ole check! This one was definitely a struggle but I did it.  Never again though.

4. "Learn" to swim. Fail. This one is just getting indefinitely postponed.  

5. Pass the R.D. Exam and get a job! CHECK and CHECK!  In July I began working as a Clinical Dietitian and in September, I officially passed the exam to become a Registered Dietitian.  

All in all, 2012 was a kick-ass year, in running and in life!  I continue to meet amazing new people who inspire me to be better and do more!  So for 2013, I'm ready to step outside of my comfort zone and push my limits to see what I'm capable of!  My girl Eleanor Roosevelt once said "do one thing everyday that scares you." Although I'm not sure I'm going to do something everyday that scares me, I love the idea of challenging yourself to do things that make you uncomfortable.  To put it simply, I'm ready to #DreamBig2013!

My Goals for 2013:

PR in the half-marathon distance (More specifically sub 2:05?).  I'm running the WDW Half in less than 2 weeks, but will be stopping for all sorts of character photos, so the PR will not come there.  Perhaps NYC Half???

Strength train 2x/week consistently.  Although I dread paying for an overpriced gym, I gave in and joined NYSC so I have no excuse for this one.  Strength training is important for running and for overall health and I want to be a stronger woman!  

Do one unassisted pull-up.  This is sort of random and ideally, it will be more than one.  As mentioned above, I really want to become stronger all around.  It seems silly but I've never ever done a pull-up all on my own and I really want to this year.  

Complete 9+1 NYRR races for guaranteed entry into the 2014 NYC Marathon.  Ahhh! This one definitely scares me.  I'm fine with running 9 races, but thinking that one day I'll run (or try to run) New York is intimidating.  

Do at least 3 races outside of NY State. I have a head start on this goal since I'm already registered for the Cherry Blossom 10-mile race with Beth, Abby and Jen.  As of now I'm also considering Peach Tree for 4th of July and Strip at Night in Vegas!?  I'm definitely still open to suggestions if anyone wants to take a trip!

Give back. Okay, so this one isn't really specific or measurable...but I don't think it needs to be.  I may not have a ton of disposable income, but every year I make sure to give whatever I can to charitable causes.  This year I want to also donate more of time.  I know there are so many people who aren't as fortunate as I am and I want to continue finding ways to give back.

Say yes more.  Whenever an opportunity presents itself, I need to ask myself "why not?" and if I don't have a valid reason to not do something, I need to do it!

Most of all, this year I want to continue working toward being the most healthy, happy and best version of myself!  Cheers!

Friday, December 28, 2012

FIT FOOD FRIDAY: Sweet Potatoes!

Happy Friday, everyone!  It's time for another edition of Fit Food Friday and this week we're talking about SWEET POTATOES!  During the holiday season you likely saw your fair share of marshmallow-laced yams or sweet potato pies, but I'm here to encourage you to reap the health benefits of sweet potatoes all year round!  This sweet orange spud is definitely a food with fitness benefits and here's why:

Sweet potatoes are high in fiber.  Getting adequate fiber promotes a healthy weight,regular bowel movements, lowers cholesterol levels and helps to control blood sugar levels.  However, the fiber might not be the only reason sweet potatoes are good for maintaining steady glucose levels!  Sweet potatoes have been linked to higher levels of adiponectin, a hormone that improves insulin sensitivity. 

Sweet potatoes are chock full of nutrients, including beta carotene, vitamin C, iron!  Most people recognize that the orange flesh of sweet potatoes means they are high in Vitamin A/beta carotene, an antioxidant that plays a role in improving eyesight, controlling blood pressure, preventing heart disease and potentially treat certain cancers.  From a fitness perspective, adequate beta carotene levels have also shown to decrease symptoms of exercise-induced asthma!  Remember to add a healthy fat (such as olive oil) when cooking with sweet potatoes to maximize the uptake and benefit of beta carotene!

When it comes to athletes, probably the most important nutrients found in sweet potatoes are manganese and copper.  These two trace play vital roles in muscular function and protein synthesis, yet some runners fail to meet their daily requirements.

Since they're naturally sweet and extremely versatile, sweet potatoes can be incorporated into our diets in so many ways!  Mash, boil or slice 'em up for a tasty and nutritious addition to any meal! If you're not a fan of sweet potatoes yet, but want their nutrient boost, start by making mashed potatoes with half regular and half sweet potatoes or pureeing them to add to soups!

Make sure to tune in next Friday for a new Fit Food! :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Last Thankful Thursday of 2012!

Happy last Thursday of 2012!  This year has been incredible and I have so much to be thankful for!  2012 has definitely been the biggest year for me so far in terms of my career.  This year alone, I graduated from my DI program, landed a job as a Clinical Dietitian and passed my R.D. Exam! All the while having a blast with running, family and friends!  Now 2012 has been fantastic to me, but I have big plans for 2013...starting with the Walt Disney World Half Marathon and becoming an aunt in just a few weeks!!! But before I go crazy about all the things I will be thankful for in the new year, let's finish up 2012 with one last round of Thankful Thursday!

This week I'm thankful...

...that the laundromat was open on Christmas Eve.  It wasn't just was a pretty happenin' place, which made me feel much better about spending my evening alone folding spandex and DriFit tees.

...for kisses under the mistletoe! ;)

...for hot showers after cold runs.  I kicked off Christmas morning with a chilly 4 miles, immediately followed by a hot shower, a mug of hot tea and the WDW Christmas Parade on the couch.  Amazing!
Festive 4 miles on Christmas!
...for my new down alternative pillow.  It feels great on my neck and puts me right into a deep and dreamy sleep, that is until I'm woken up by a snorting, growling bully in my face.

...for new nail polish from Santa!  Hello, sparkly lover! 

...for all of the amazing people in my life.  I'm a firm believer in surrounding yourself with people that will motivate, inspire and encourage you...and that's just what I've done!  I'm thankful for each and every one of you reading this and am excited by all of the amazing things you're out there doing in this world! (Pardon my cheesiness!)  

...for all of the incredible things I have to look forward to in 2013.  I'm hoping to make this my best year yet!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Fit Food Friday: B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Welcome back to Fit Food Friday, where every Friday I'll highlight foods that have great benefits for fitness and exercise!  This week we're getting bananas and focusing on that yellow fruit we runners love so much!  Bananas are a staple in most runner's diets...we grab them before heading out for runs and then celebrate post-run with them...but what is it that makes the banana a fit food?

Bananas are high in potassium-This makes them great for preventing muscle cramping, maintaining electrolyte balance as well as reducing blood pressure and decreasing risk for stroke!

They provide readily available fuel quickly.  Including complex carbohydrate foods in your diet will provide your muscles with fuel stores for longer workouts, but consuming a simple carbohydrate food like a banana provides fuel for immediate use.  The simple sugars in bananas are rapidly broken down to be available for your workouts!

Bananas are easy on the GI tract.  Despite having a good amount of fiber (which helps regulate bowel movements), bananas are generally a "safe food" for people who are prone to GI upset.  Bananas contain fructooligosaccharides (often called "FOS"), a prebiotic that helps to establish a healthy bacterial population in the gut. 

They're "pre-packaged", super portable and very cheap!  Bananas are only about $0.79 per pound and you can easily toss them in your purse or gym bag for a quick snack!

While grabbing a plain banana pre- or post-workout is simple, try slicing it up to add to oatmeal or tossing it in a smoothie with Greek yogurt to maximize the benefits!  Combining the carbohydrate in the banana with a protein (maybe my favorite, peanut butter?!) will help keep you full, stabilize blood sugar and promote a healthy weight!

Stay tuned and come back next week for another edition of Fit Food Friday!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tis the Season for Thankful Thursday!

Happy Thursday!  Even though Christmas is just days away, I haven't really gotten into the holiday spirit yet!  Let's start this edition of Thankful Thursday to get me into a jollier mood!  This week I'm thankful for...

...getting accepted into the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile race with Beth, Abby and Jen! I can't wait to start planning for this awesome weekend! sweet little old resident who gave me a handmade beaded necklace for Christmas.  He absolutely made my day and the smile on his face when I wore it was priceless!

...this beast.

...for my Secret Santa.  Love youuu! :)  I'm also thankful for lots of holiday party time spent with my amazing friends.  Bring on those laugh lines!

Neon socks, Modell's & VS Gift Cards chocolate.  I mostly drink tea, but sometimes a hot cocoa with a little whipped cream hits the spot! And itwas just perfect in the souvenir mug from the NYC Runs Hot Chocolate 10K!

...that I'm able to spend Christmas day with (most of) my family and celebrate it's true meaning.  In my family Christmas definitely comes even "without packages, boxes or bags."  And I'm so very thankful for that!

Tell me.  Are you in the holiday spirit yet? Or are you being a Grinch?  What are you feeling thankful for?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Year in Running-2012

I still can't believe this, but it's now mid-December and we're just a few weeks away from 2013!  As the year draws to a close, "Best Of" lists start popping up everywhere you look!  We'll start looking back at the top songs/movies/news stories/celebrities of 2012 and also reflecting on the past year of our own lives.  I love the idea of reminiscing over good times as well as learning from the not-so-good times and ultimately making efforts to be better next year.  So when I saw this "Running Year in Review" from Miss Zippy floating around the blogger/twitter world, I decided to jump in on the fun!  

My 2012 Year In Running:

13 races in 2012!
Best Race Experience
My first half marathon, 13.1 series race in Queens.  I loved training and racing in my new home with my family and friends there to support me.

Best Run
NY Runners in Support of Staten Island on what would have been NYC Marathon Sunday.  I was only planning on being a cheerleader for the marathoners as they ran a 26.2 mile tour of our fantastic city, but after Hurricane Sandy I didn't hesitate to join a group of almost 1,000 runners carrying backpacks full of much-needed supplies to distribute to families in need.  I met some amazing people and made new friends.  I'm not even sure how far we ran that day, but it was an incredible experience and just another example of how great the running community is.

Best New Piece of Gear
SpiBelt, hands down.  This thing is perfect for long runs, short runs, any run! It holds my phone, fuel, keys, etc.  I gave in and ordered myself one after recommendations from multiple runners and thanks to Kristin I got a discount and free shipping! :)

Best Piece of Running Advice You Received
"You have a weak ass."-Dr. Metzl

Although I already knew strength training would improve my running and help with injury prevention, I needed his kick in the butt to start doing it!  Since cross-training and adding strength to my fitness routine is now doctor prescribed, it's a must-do.  I already feel stronger and can't wait to see more improvements in my running and fitness.

Most Inspirational Runner
This guy, every time.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
Fun, out of my comfort zone and learning something new with each run/workout!

Tell me about your year, in running or just in life!  What were your favorite moments/biggest accomplishments?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Race Recap: NYC Runs Hot Chocolate 10K

This past Sunday, almost 1500 runners including myself took part in the NYC Runs Hot Chocolate 5K and 10K races on Roosevelt Island.  Running followed by hot chocolate might sound strange, but it's actually a fantastic combination!  This was my 4th NYC Runs event and I'm a big fan. The races are always very well organized and have a small-town race feel...although the popularity of their events is definitely growing!

My cousins Sam and Steph (who in case you didn't know is training for the NYC Half through Team in Training) both ran the 5K race while I opted for the longer 10K distance, which makes sense as I'm supposed to be training for the WDW Half Marathon in a few weeks!
One major plus to this race is the proximity of Roosevelt Island to my home base of Astoria!  After a super quick drive and fairly easy parking, we strolled over to the 5K starting area to find a lot of fellow runners!  The weather was crappy, 40ish and drizzling, but it never full out rained on us which was great.  NYC Runs event do not yet have assigned corrals, so runners organized themselves by pace as able.  I spotted Beth in the crowd with her neon shirt and only had time for a quick "hi" before the 5K runners were off!  The 10K didn't start until 10am so I was able to dart across the island and cheer for everyone during the first mile before I started.

Go ladies! Sorry I'm not the best race photographer...
 Despite getting minimal sleep and having a few glasses of wine at a Christmas party Saturday night, they had an awesome race! I am loving watching them both get into running and supporting them along the way.  Definitely check out Steph's story at both her Team in Training page and here on PB&P and join me in supporting her!
Congrats Cousins!

Not only did they run their 3.1 miles and get the well-deserved hot chocolate, but they stuck around in the chilly rain to cheer me on and watch me finish! did my race go?  I guess well, considering I went into this race without any goals or expectations.  I'm supposed to be training for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon that I'm running with Dad on January 12th, 2013.  But with my recent focus on strengthening, I really haven't been doing much running and have been taking CrossFit classes twice a week.  I decided to run the first half of the race comfortably and see what my pace was like and how I felt. 

After warming up in the first mile, I settled into a 9:30ish pace which felt hard.  The course was basically two loops around Roosevelt Island, except for a small modification due to damages from Hurricane Sandy.  There was a mix of pavement, sidewalk, dirt paths and puddles to navigate around which included a few small inclines.  As I was finishing up the first loop I was so excited to see my cousins, Steph's boyfriend and their dog Kirra cheering me on!  I checked my watch and realized I had finished the first half in just about 30 minutes and I was still feeling good.  I decided to push through and was hoping to negative split.  The second loop felt even more difficult, like I was pushing harder but not going any faster.  From mile 4-6 I ended up next to a woman from my hood wearing a Hell Gate Running Club shirt and we pushed each other those last two miles.  It wasn't exactly like fishing, but I made sure she did not pass me.  I "sprinted" the last 0.2 miles and finished with an official time of 58:46 (9:29 pace). 

Kirra's too cool for a finisher photo.
This was definitely not my best race and certainly not a 10K PR for me, but I felt strong the entire time and got to enjoy some hot chocolate at the I'm happy.  I'm so proud of my cousins for running the 5K and am looking forward to many more races with them in the future! :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

*Introducing* Fit Food Friday: Beets!

Happy Friday, y'all!  I'm very excited to announce Fit Food Friday's here on PB&P.  Each week will feature a different food and discussing it's health and fitness benefits! 

To kick off the first edition of Fit Food Friday, I bring you Beets!

The beet is a root vegetable that belongs to the chenopod family (with others like spinach, chard and quinoa).  Most people are familiar with the red/purple color of the beet root, but they can be yellow/golden too!  The green leaves attached to the end of beet roots are also edible and taste a lot like spinach or Swiss chard.  While beets (unfortunately) are not most people's favorite vegetable, they're packed with lots of vitamins and minerals and offer up great health benefits to both athletes and non-athletes alike.

Beets are naturally low in sodium & fat and are also good sources of folate, potassium, Vitamin C, manganese and fiber.  Beets do have a high sugar content, which makes them a sweet addition to salads, soups and mixed dishes.  My personal favorite way to enjoy beets is to combine them with goat cheese and/or walnuts on a flat bread pizza or tossed in a spinach salad!

If you are a fellow fitness fanatic, you've likely already read about how eating beets (or drinking beet juice) can improve exercise performance.  Including nutritious root vegetables in your everyday diet will definitely promote a healthy body weight, in turn leading to enhanced athletic ability.  However the key players in the connection between beets and improved performance are nitrates.  These are different than nitrites, which are the preservatives found in processed meats like hot dogs and bacon that have been linked to cancer and other negative health outcomes.  Nitrates have been shown to increase the efficiency of oxygen uptake by our body and muscles. 

There are several published research studies showing that supplementation with beet root juice enhances both power output and VO2 max (maximum oxygen consumption) in cyclists and other endurance athletes.  However, a 2012 study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that single servings of beet juice immediately prior to exercise did not perform short-term performance in cyclists.  Ultimately, further research needs to be conducted to provide solid results that can be extrapolated to larger populations and show true improvements in athletic performance. 

In the meantime, I definitely recommend including beets in your vegetable repertoire for its antiinflammatory and antioxidant benefits...with an added possiblility of improved exercise potential!

A few interesting side notes...Some people do experience changes in urine and/or stool color when consuming beets on a regular basis.  So if you're stool turns pink/red, this is totally normal...but just make sure you're able to identify that the redness is not blood, which of course is not normal.  And finally, if I've inspired you to roast (or steam or pickle) some beets at home, but you prefer not to have pink-stained fingers, you might want to wear gloves during handling! :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday!

It's Thursday again, which means it's time for Thankful Thursday!  Let's get right down to it.  Today I'm feeling thankful for...
...snuggly bulldogs.  What's that, you say?  I use that one every week?  Oops, sorry.  But let's be honest--you'd be thankful for this too:

...the super supportive girl in my CrossFit class this week.  Pretty much anyone who has been to CrossFit will tell you how encouraging and welcoming "the box" is.  This week, I really struggled to get out of bed to get to class at 6am, only to find "rope climbs/weighted push-ups" written on the white board as part of the WOD.  Rope climbs are probably my worst nightmare and I was having a tough time with those weighted push-ups.  I was an inch away from collapsing on the ground when awesome-partner-girl said "You're doing great! Just think, lots of people can't even do one regular push-up...and we're doing them with added weight!"  And she is totally right!  Sometimes workouts are hard and putting things into perspective like that can really help reassure/motivate/inspire you. 

...laugh lines.  I don't get people who spend tons of money getting Botox or using fancy creams! I think wrinkles and laugh lines are proof that we're laughing and living and loving life!  Bring 'em on! sprouts and beets.  Okay, I'm thankful for lots of vegetables...but this week I'm loving on these two.  Come back tomorrow for a special post highlighting my love for beets! :)

...this tweet from The Boring Runner:
It popped into my twitter feed on Tuesday and I immediately laughed.  Of course, I'm a huge  proponent of Greek yogurt and love that others recognize how superior it is to extra-sugary "light" yogurt alternatives.  Go Greek!

Okay, it's your turn!  What are you feeling thankful for today?!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Spotlight on Steph: Running for a Cure with TNT

Meet Steph.  

She is my cousin, my best friend and a recent addition to the Team in Training NYC Chapter.  On March 17, 2013 she will run the NYC Half Marathon and complete her first half marathon.  Steph will be training and fundraising for the next three months so that she can raise money to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an incredible organization that works to fight blood cancers.  I couldn't be more excited for or proud of Steph for having the courage to take on this incredible challenge.  Both the training and fundraising will certainly be tough but ridiculously rewarding!  Please join me in supporting her (both emotionally & financially) and stay tuned to continue following Steph's story here on PB&P!

For now, let's get to know Steph a little bit better:

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Stephanie Meyering, I’m a 26 year-old publicist and I live in Astoria, New York with my boyfriend, Kevin and our energetic puppy, Kirra. I love to cook, entertain, and spend time with Kim and my other amazing friends!

What’s your current level of exercise? 
I was a competitive cheerleader for about 18 years and was able to stay in shape for a few years after college. But at the moment my level of exercise is probably not as up to what it should be! I sit at a desk for probably 8-10 hours a day and I’ve been running on and off for about 6 months but have definitely not committed myself to a training program – until now!

What inspired you to sign up for a Half Marathon through Team in Training?
Believe it or not, I’ve had a few inspirations for signing up for Team in Training:

  • First and foremost, in October a colleague of mine, Ellen Kushman lost her battle with blood cancer. A group of my colleagues and others that loved Ellen decided that joining Team in Training to raise money to find a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma. 
  • Secondly, as you know, my cousin and uncle are huge runners! Reading this blog alone, you come away inspired. Their love of running is contagious and I hope to catch the bug! 
  •  Last June, my boyfriend participated in the Ride to Montauk with Team In Training. He fund raised about $3,000 for the cause and rode a 100-mile bike ride! Seeing Kevin meet new people and grow through the process was also a huge inspiration to sign up. 
Raising $1,600 is a big challenge!  That's a lot of money. Are you worried you won’t be able to meet your goal?
Well, yes! But Team In Training provides you with support to discuss fundraising ideas and help you plan any fundraising activities you’d like. In addition, my team has already begun planning our fundraisers and we’re ready and rearing to go! As a team we want to beat our goal of $15,400 and give LLS as much support as possible.

So, how are you feeling as you head into this crazy fitness & fundraising journey?
I’m nervous and excited about this! My first official training run is tomorrow and it kind of feels like the first day of school! This past week there was a kick-off meeting and we met our coaches and now I’m ready to go! I’m sure there will be good days and bad days but I am just going to think about who I’m running for and that by running I  will be helping others!

Besides crossing the finish line on 3/17/13, what are you hoping to get out of this experience?
Through training for this half marathon and fundraising for LLS, I hope to become a better person! This will be a challenge for me physically and mentally and I can’t wait to take it on!
Last but definitely not least...What can we help support you and TNT?
If you’re interested in supporting the cause, you can check out my Team in Training Page here:  
Because I am a part of  Team Ellen we also have a team page, you can check it out here: 

In addition to collecting donations on the site, Steph will also be documenting her training and fundraising here on PB&P.  Please donate what you can, help us spread the word and check back to see how she's doing!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Soreness, Seat Warmers & Southern Ladies!

It's that time of week again....Thankful Thursday!  Today I'm feeling thankful for... very sore muscles. I've been waking up pretty much everyday with that "hurts so good" feeling and I like it.  I'm learning a lot of new strength training technique in CrossFit and I'm already seeing a big difference, especially in my running.  Oh and that quad pain?  Pretty much gone.  And Dr. Metzl says my ass isn't as weak anymore!  All good things.

...catching up with some sweet-tea drinkin' Southern belles.  I just love y'all!

 warmers.  These might be the best invention ever for cold mornings when I'm waiting for the car to warm up!

...for Christmas cards.  I love still using snail mail to send and receive warm wishes from loved ones during the holiday season!  We haven't received any just yet, but I can't wait for them to start flowing in! If you're on my nice list, be on the lookout for yours from Rocky & I! :)

Tell me--what are YOU feeling thankful for this week?!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

If you're a regular PB&P reader, you know how much I love pumpkin flavored things!  I especially love using pumpkin when baking because A. I'm obsessed with pumpkin and B. it's a low fat, low calorie, low salt and high fiber food.  It can be used to replace eggs and/or oil in many recipes and creates a really moist product.  So by popular request, I'm sharing my recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, a tasty seasonal treat for only about 110 calories each!


1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups flour (I use half whole-wheat flour)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix pumpkin, sugar, oil & egg together in one bowl.  
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and milk.  
4. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and combine well.  Add vanilla and chocolate chips.
5. Spoon dough onto greased cookie sheet.  Bake about 10 minutes.

Makes about 2 1/2 doz cookies.  The final product is a little fluffier than a typical cookie, but I promise they're delicious and always a big hit! 

Happy (& healthy) Eating! :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Holiday Survival Guide

The Christmas tree is lit, "All I Want for Christmas" seems to be on repeat on the radio, and you're starting to dread the arrival of your January credit card bill. Not to mention tasty temptations like Christmas cookies, candies and egg nog are out in abundance!   To quote my favorite holiday movie, Christmas Vacation..."It's the holidays, and we're all in misery!"

I feel the holidays should be spent with family and friends sharing in the Christmas spirit...not worrying about money, presents and holiday weight gain!  Research shows that average weight gain over the holiday season is around 1-2 pounds for a normal weight person.  For overweight and obese people, holiday weight gain tends to be a little more, up to about 5 pounds.  While fear of weight gain tends to be dramatized and 1-2 or even 5 pounds may not seem like a lot, over several years these pounds add up to an unhealthy weight and increase risk for conditions like diabetes and heart disease.  As with most things, the best thing we can do is to be prepared and have a plan to combat this dreaded weight gain!

Check out my top 5 tips for enjoying holiday parties and events while maintaining a healthy weight:

1.  Just Say No! When your hostess with the mostess offers seconds, don't feel guilted into taking them!  Simply compliment her (or him) on how delicious everything was and how much you enjoyed it.  Also saying no to a few parties or events throughout the month is a surefire way to minimize stress and avoid holiday burnout.  

2. BYO...Healthy options! If you are always underwhelmed by the number healthy side dishes available at a party, bring your own.  This is the smartest way to ensure you can make healthy choices and stay on track with your eating.  It could be as simple as a veggie platter or fruit salad and has the added benefit of making you look like an extremely thoughtful guest!  

3. Be smart about your surroundings.   Standing right next to the buffet or snack table will inevitably lead to mindless snacking.  Focus less on food and more on socializing with family, friends or coworkers by engaging in conversation.  Set yourself up for success by choosing smaller appetizer plates over larger dinner plates.  Decide ahead of time which of your favorite foods are "worth" indulging in and treat yourself to small portions.

4. Eat as you would on any other day.  One of the biggest mistakes people make is to not eat all day in order to save calories for later.  While this sounds like it could work, going to a holiday party feeling ravenous can quickly lead to overeating.  Follow your usual eating pattern and make sure to have a protein-rich meal prior to party-time!

5. Keep (or start) moving!  Schedule exercise in around your holiday parties and events.  There's no need to wait for New Year's Resolutions to get active.  Planning your exercise in advance will prevent you from falling off track during the hectic holiday season.  Enlist a friend or co-worker to help you stick to your commitments!

And one bonus tip:

1. Move on!  If you indulge (or overindulge) this holiday season, acknowledge it and get over it.  There's no reason to beat yourself up or continue to sabotage your eating by dwelling on it.  I always like the analogy of getting a flat tire.  If you're driving along and get a flat, you wouldn't get out of the car and slash the other 3 good tires, right?  No! You fix the one problem tire and get back out on the road! 

Here's to a HEALTHY and Happy Holiday season!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

November Foodie Pen Pal Reveal!

Okay, I'm a day late for the November Foodie Pen Pal Reveal post, but better late than never! 

This month, my pen pal Stefanie sent me an awesome package that I can't wait to dig into.  In addition to the snacks, Stefanie included a handwritten note card and a recipe for her grandmother's buttermilk brownies. I love the idea of passing along a family recipe and since I love baking I can't wait to try them out for myself!

So now for the goodies:

She sent TJ's dried raspberries, which are always a good snack and can be added to cereals, yogurts, trail mix, etc.  

Next, I love that Stefanie sent some local flavor with Michigan pure maple syrup.  This will be perfect for my favorite pumpkin whole wheat pancakes! :)

Also in my amazing snack pack...Kettlecorn drizzles with dark and white chocolate!  Sounds like heaven.

Last but not least, a giant bag of trail mix! Right up my alley!

Thanks so much, Stefanie! 

To learn more about Foodie Pen Pals, check out The Lean Green Bean Blog.  For December, FPP will be a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Sandy and pen pals from all over the world will be join in to help! :)

*Edited to add:  Click over to Kid-Friendly Food to see what I sent my foodie pen pal this month, and check out some of her awesome recipes! :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Don't Forget, It's Thankful Thursday!

Happy Thursday! I missed the big Thankful Thursday last week because I was busy running 15.5 miles and enjoying an awesome meal with my family...but let's pick it right back up this week!  This week, I'm thankful...

...for my new car.  And it's heated seats.  :)

...that my nephew baby is coming in less than 2 months! We threw him a fabulous party last weekend to celebrate and I think he had a blast!  

...for my rockstar Dad.  Anyone sick of me saying that yet?  Don't care.  He's awesome and supports me and inspires me everyday.  Also, I'm thankful for this awesome picture of us running together (before he left me in the dust, yet again...).  

...that I got myself some new sparkle! Since I pretty much wear a Sparkly Soul headband on every run, I scooped up a blue and charcoal headband to add to the collection!  

...that my very best friend in the whole wide world is taking on the challenge of the NYC Half Marathon and running with Team in Training to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  This will be her first half and I couldn't be more excited to cheer for her and watch her rock it out.  Please check out her fundraising page and donate to this awesome cause! And keep your fingers crossed that Dad & I will be accepted into the lottery and can run with her! your turn.  What has you feeling thankful this week?!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Race Recap: MHRRC Turkey Trot 2012

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you and yours!  Enjoying good food with family and friends makes Thanksgiving one of my favorite holidays.  Not to mention I'm a big fan of reflecting on all the things we're thankful this is my kind of day!  Another reason I love Turkey Day is because it's becoming a holiday for running!  Turkey Trots are becoming a popular Thanksgiving tradition and I can't think of a better way to start a day of feasting than a few sweaty miles shared with family and friends.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has run our local Turkey Trot.  And my brothers and I would either be out there freezing cheering for him or joining in the kids races. The Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club offers a few distances so that runners of any level can participate in the Turkey Trot: Kids 1-mile, 2-mile fun run, 5-mile and 25K (AKA 15.5 miles).  The last few years I've run the 5-mile race and every time I struggled with the hilly course.  It's not like anything I'm used to running in NYC, but I can push through anything for 5 miles, right?  Sometime back in July, I was reassessing my 2012 goals and decided that this would be the year to take on the challenge of the 25K race.  It sounded like a great idea at the time...

Come Thursday morning the weather was perfect--Mid 40s and sunny for the 8:30 a.m. start.  I wore shorts, a thin long-sleeve tee, vest, compression socks and (of course) a Sparkly Soul headband.  As I've never run 15.5 miles before, let alone "raced" it, I had no idea how to plan for this race.  Dad had sent me the course map and elevation, so you'd think I knew what I was getting myself into, but nope!  My ultimate goal was to survive (and not cry) and I guess we could say 10:30 min/miles was goal pace (given the hills).  The 25K distance typically draws only about 75-80 runners, most being faster and more seasoned than me, so I also mentally prepared myself to come in last for this race.  

Dad and I at the start

Since I already established that there was no way I was racing 15.5 miles, Dad decided we would just "have fun" and run together.  That plan worked for awhile.  The hills were tough but the downhills helped.  Dad and I had driven the course prior to the race and strategically dropped Gatorade where we wanted it.  I also brought my fuel belt and my favorite Gu Chomps for fuel.  In sharp contrast to NYC races, there was not water at every mile and definitely not many cheerleaders out on this course. There were a few water stations staffed by running club members and volunteers, who were very friendly and encouraging.  And then there were the few families (not affiliated with the running club) who stood out on their lawns or at the ends of their driveways to clap, cheer and hand out additional water to runners!!!  Talk about thankful! That's some awesome "small town" spirit to push a girl through an otherwise tough course.   

My new favorite photo.  Check out our matching form!
I mentally broke the distance down to 5, 5, 3 and 2.5 miles.  I decided early on that if I was going to meet my goal of surviving, I would have to walk most of the hills.  The inclines were hurting my calves and my lower back pretty badly, but I fought through it and felt strong for the first 10 miles.  My Nike+ app GPS was really thrown off, so I have no clue what my pace or splits were, but I also didn't care.  Despite the walking on inclines, I was starting to lose my umph.

Seriously, hills?
After the 10-mile marker, I told Dad to go on his own because I knew he could run faster and I didn't want to hold him back.  I tried to keep him in my sight for as long as I could, but that man is a beast and took off.  He's currently training for another Goofy Challenge in January so this was a good long run for him to practice.
Go, Dad, Go!
As I watched him disappear up over a hill, I turned up my music and dug deep to finish out the last 5.5 miles solo.  I thought to myself, "you run 5 miles all the time, no big can do this."  But I felt super slow and just wanted to finish.  My feet hurt, I was hating the pitch of the road making me run on a slant and I kept feeling anxious that drivers were not paying attention and I would get run over.

Can you see the ridiculous hill wayyy in the distance?

Mile 12 was (gasp!) yet another hill.  I distracted myself by singing (okay, rapping) to myself and thinking about all of the yummy food I was planning to eat later.  Sweet potatoes, turnips, pumpkin pie, beer...oh my! I thought about how I was missing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I thought about how crazy those people are for sitting in the freezing cold for hours to watch that parade.  I thought about how people probably think I'm crazy for choosing to run 15.5 miles on Thanksgiving.  They're right. It is crazy, but in my opinion it's always a good idea to be active and moving and sweating! :)

I was so excited when I saw Mile marker 15 and my Dad cheering me on shortly after! That last stretch was the longest half mile of my life.  The course heads back into the high school parking lot where it started, but in order to make up the complete distance, you have to run a little loop of the parking lot before crossing the finish line.  So you can SEE the finish line, but have to run a loop to actually get there.  Awful!  I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, but I felt like I going backward.

Almost there.
And finally....I crossed the finish line!  With a new PDR of 15.5 miles!

My official time was 2:48:27 (avg pace 10:52) which ended up being 89th of 96 total runners (not last!).  It could have been 3+ hours and I wouldn't have cared.  I was just happy to be done!  The first thing I said to my dad was "Okay, now I can say I've done that.  And I'm never doing it again."

Dad's offiical time was 2:41:01 (avg pace 10:23), which undoubtedly would have been much faster if he didn't stick with me in the early miles!  But I'm glad that he did (thanks, Dad!) because no matter how fast or slow...I love running with that guy!

In the end...I'm so THANKFUL that I survived my first (and most likely last) 25K Turkey Trot and was able to spend the rest of the holiday enjoying family and good food!

What are you Thankful for this Thanksgiving? Did you run a Turkey Trot this year?  Eat a lot of turkey & mashed potatoes? Tell me about it!