Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Half the Distance, Twice the Fun?

So I'm 4 weeks into my 12-week training plan for the 13.1 Queens Half Marathon.  I purposefully picked a beginner plan which started out with less mileage than I was used to running, and I have tweaked it along the way.  

I'm happy to announce that I am comfortably sore and tired, but injury-free (knock-on-wood).    I'm attributing this to the oh-so-important rest days and my cross-training.  I've forced myself to work in yoga (yuck) and spinning to my routine, which gives my body a break from running and strengthens muscles that will ultimately help me be a better runner.  I'll admit the yoga has been really good for my super tight hip flexors, so I'll keep it up! This week we tried the Yoga to the People studio in Brooklyn.  It's a great space and the class was very challenging.  I've been running 3-4 days a week for a total of 13-15 miles each week.  The plan is to slowly increase mileage each week, keeping up the cross-training and rest days. 

I'm also running the M-M-Manhattan Hot Chocolate 10K next weekend, which I'm super excited about.  Running followed by hot chocolate...? What could be better than that?

I'll continue to update as my training progresses and I'll definitely be giving a review of the 10K this weekend! :)

Happy Running and Happy Week y'all!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Sparkle, Sports & Stubbornness

Things I'm thankful for this week:

Sparkly Soul headbands. I've never found a better (or more fabulous) way to keep my sweaty mess of hair off my face! Get yourself some sparkle here!

that the Giants making it to the Superbowl! We (yes, we) struggled a bit during the season, but have pulled through in the last few games.  Bring it on, Mr. Brady & co!
also thankful for this beautiful man.

that the Yankees spring training starts in less than 1 month. Which means baseball season is coming! And in case you're wondering, I am available to attend any and all games you'd like to buy me tickets to! :)
K.Hob on the warning track! :)

Beyonce. Enough said.

BEYONCE Me Myself And I by carmlo01

Chocolate milk. Seriously, who doesn't love chocolate milk? It's delicious, I feel like a little kid every time I drink it, and it makes a perfect recovery drink.  Although, let's be real...I'd drink it even if it didn't have the power punch of carbohydrate, protein, sodium & calcium!

that Microsoft Word makes a works cited for me.  I couldn't be more appreciative of this nifty little feature.  I'd definitely fail life if I had to format my references myself. 
Why, thank you, Word for inserting citations for me!

that I'm a stubborn little lady.  After New Year's, I challenged myself to stop drinking, for my health, my wallet and my weight.  I came up with this silly idea just around the time I started my half-marathon training, so it seemed like the 3 month time frame made sense.  Well, let me tell you...this is tough.  Sometimes a girl just wants a glass (or three) of red wine.  Or a beer during say, the Superbowl. But I'm stubborn and I really want to challenge myself.  So...on March 24th, someone better be meeting me at the finish line with a little brown bag of victory!

What are you thankful for this week?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip "Mookies"

It's no secret that I like to bake.  Most of the time I'm modifying regular recipes so they're more nutritious, but still delicious.  So when I noticed we had some overripe bananas, I knew it was time to get my bake on! I always make banana bread (which is delicious) but I wanted to switch it up! After a quick search on Allrecipes.com, I came across a few recipes for banana oatmeal cookies.  However, so many of them included things I didn't have on-hand and don't normally bake with...like buttermilk or shortening (gross).  

So I decided to wing it. 

This resulted in some absolutely delicious (and somewhat healthy) "mookies" (muffin-cookies).  They're shaped like cookies, and look like cookies, but have more of a muffin texture.  Whatever you want to call them, they're yummy.  

Here's my recipe:

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking soda, ground cloves, cinnamon and oats.
3. In a separate bowl, combine butter and sugar.  Add eggs, vanilla and mashed banana.
4.  Add banana mixture to flour and oat combination.  Mix well.
5. Stir in chocolate chips (if desired).
6. Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday Motivation: Do Work!

Source: Pinterest

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Running in the Snow

My half-marathon training plan called for a 6-mile run yesterday.  But, in case you haven't heard (or looked outside), it snowed.  Also, I was exhausted from working until 3 a.m..  AND I had a birthday party to go to at 4 p.m.  So many excuses that forced me to push my "long run" back to today.  Obviously, the snow is still on the ground today.  And when I set out for my run it was 22 degrees (feels like temp of 10!).  I truly don't mind the cold as long as I'm properly dressed.  So I layered up on top with an Under Armour Cold Gear Mock Neck, long-sleeve zip-up and puffy vest.  On bottom I had my Under Armour Cold Gear tights and legwarmers. Top it off with my Trailheads hat & finger-less gloves and I was good to go!
i <3 legwarmers.
Like most runners, I prefer outdoor running to the dreaded treadmill.  I don't understand how anyone can run more than 3 miles on one of those things.  I get so bored so quickly.  So despite the cold & snowy outlook, I was looking forward to my run.  My only "goal" for today was to not fall, which I tend to do a lot on my own, even without snow or ice.  I started out on my usual route to Astoria Park, hoping that most of the sidewalks would be cleared, or at least salted.  No such luck!  Nothing in the park was cleared, and it was packed down and icy.  This was not going to help me reach my goal. 
danger! danger!
 I quickly made the decision to head over to a higher traffic street with lots of businesses and apartment buildings that would have had to clear their sidewalks.  It wasn't 100% cleared, but it definitely worked out much better for me.  Running in the snow is definitely a challenge.  I like that you're forced to slow down and really focus on what you're doing (which is similar to trail running).   You end up working more and different muscles while trying to maintain balance and push against the softer snow areas.  Running on not-so-packed down patches is similar to running on sand, where your impact pushes the snow aside and your legs work harder to propel forward.  

Winter running can be tough and dangerous, so you have to be careful! I try to follow these tips to stay safe in the snow:
-Go slow.  Running in the snow and/or ice is not ideal for speed work.
-Stay away from packed down snow and ice. Slow down and walk if you have to.
-Take your phone with you! Just in case you do fall and hurt yourself.
-Wear/bring chapstick! Nobody likes windburned lips.

snowy city view.

Running in the snow is awesome for so many reasons.  In addition to working those stabilizing muscles, you get to see some beautiful winter scenery.  I found myself smiling on my run just checking out the snowy park and the kids sledding!  Also, much like running in the rain, running in the snow is bad ass.  You feel super accomplished, knowing that most people are hibernating indoors while you're out getting your sweat on! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Cheesy Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...

The free Chobani samples I won. No, I'm not over it yet, thanks for asking.

Friends, both near and far.  Since we're grown-ups now (gross), it's getting harder to keep in touch.  I was lucky enough to catch up with 2 long-distance friends this week, and it makes me so happy.  Love y'all! 
Gosh, I'm so cheesy...

 Soul and R&B music.  Nothing else soothes quite like some Sam Cooke or Otis Redding tunes.  

 Cheese. String cheese, feta, goat cheese...any kind, really.
Roomie & I split this giant goat cheese croquette on our date. Delish.

This post from The Bull Runner.  Super cute.  

That today is Rest Day on my training plan.  I need it. 

Don't forget to think about what you're thankful for today...and what makes you happy! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yo Teach!

Last night I took a spinning class at NYSC (I have a 1-month membership, thanks to LivingSocial).  It was the WORST group fitness class I've ever taken in my life.  And it started me thinking about motivation.  People go to group classes to get a good work out (obvi), but mostly to feed off others and be motivated by the instructor.  

So what happens when the instructor stinks?

A 45-minute class seems like a lifetime.  The energy was non-existent.  We still cycled for 45 minutes.  We still did jumps and hills and recovery.  My legs are sore today.  But this is only because I became my own inner spinning instructor.  I had to repeat inspirational mantras to myself.  I was silently keeping track of the seconds for each repeat.  I pushed myself to increase the resistance or pedal faster.  

When I really wanted to SCREAM out:

"Yo Teach! See that thing next to you with handlebars & two wheels? It's your bike: Get on it!  And when you tell me I'm "almost there", tell me how much time is left.  Tell me what the next sequence will be.  When you say we're doing something for 45 seconds, please acknowledge when that 45 seconds has ended, so we can come back down.  Stop fussing with the music, which by the way SUCKS.  Definitely stop gently patting the sweat from your nose in the mirror, because you haven't DONE anything to earn that sweat.  Certainly not compared to those of us actually ON the bike, sweating like a beasts, soaking up our 2nd towel!"

Thankfully, this instructor only teaches once a week.  I now know what night I will not be taking spinning class.  [Hint for anyone interested in Astoria: TUESDAY @ 7:30pm]

With all that being said, I'm a firm believer that no one can motivate you to do something if you don't want it for yourself.  You have to push yourself toward the things you want in life, whether they're fitness-related or not.  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Namaste and all that stuff...

Confession: I don't like yoga.  I really WANT to like it.  I don't hate it, but I just can't get into it.  I know it's a great workout and there are so many health benefits of it.  I'm just not into the relaxing, earthy, hippie vibes (see Lululemon's hilarious "Shit Yogi's Say" below).  I prefer more aggression, like pounding the pavement or punching a bag.  

Don't get me wrong, people who do yoga impress the hell out of me.  They're some strong mother f'ers. It takes ridiculous strength and mental focus.  And it gives you a serious stretch!  Which brings me to the point of this post.  My half-marathon training plan calls for stretching & strength, which is important whether you're training for something or not.  So I'm trying to step up my stretching game...by doing yoga.  Lucky for me I have some fabulous friends who actually DO like yoga and take classes at Yoga to the People. And what better way to start this adventure than with a 90-minute Sunday afternoon Vinyasa class at the St. Mark's studio?  

YTTP's mantra.

 The class was packed (duh..it's a donation-based studio in NYC), but the instructor was motivating and the energy in the room was awesome.  I'll go as far as saying I enjoyed the class.  I'm always down for 90-minutes of sweating and anything that releases my tight runner-hips.  I still don't get the breathing and relaxing bit, but I got a great stretch and feel really good. 

So, yoga...I'll be back for more.  More breathing (am I not doing that already?) and much more stretching.   And I might just learn to like you, although I probably won't admit it anytime soon.

Namaste. And Hakuna Matata. :)

It's all Greek (& delicious) to me!

Last week on Thankful Thursday, I mentioned that I won a giveaway on the Chobani Facebook Page for a 12-pack sample of the new Chobani flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Passion Fruit & Blood Orange.  I'm psyched because I never win anything! And who doesn't love free food?! Especially when it's my favorite...Greek Yogurt!

So this week, I got a UPS Next-Day delivery containing a 12-pack of the new Chobani flavors, snuggled in a nest of packing peanuts & ice-packs! 
Presents for Pretty Girls!

Of course, I taste-tested each flavor just for you! It's definitely a tough job, but someone has to do it and if that someone is me, so be it! 

Not your traditional 12-pack...
Now I will preface this by saying, I am already a huge fan of Chobani yogurt.  I don't love the "fruit on the bottom" idea, and typically add my own fruit & granola to the Vanilla or Plain flavors, but I honestly enjoy all of the flavors.  

That being said, let's discuss the newbies:

Apple-Cinnamon: I had heard rave reviews on this flavor, so I was excited to try it myself! Turns out, I didn't love it.  It tastes a lot like granny smith apples, and they're not my favorite.  I also think it could use more cinnamon.  However, my roommate really enjoyed it and as I said, I've heard great reviews from others!  Since it is pretty sweet, it would definitely make a great breakfast or dessert yogurt!

Blood Orange:  I was nervous to try this flavor because I've never had an orange-flavored yogurt, and it is an unusual combo. But this one totally blew me away.  The combination of sweet & tart is interesting but not overbearing.  You do have to give it a pretty good stir, but I was pleasantly surprised that the fruit on the bottom didn't turn the yogurt into a soupy sweetness.  I'd definitely buy blood orange again!

Passion Fruit (2%): I definitely liked this one! It took a bit of stirring to get a nice smooth consistency and it does have a strong flavor but I was into it! It's pretty sweet but not overwhelming. It is similar to the Pomegranate Chobani in that there are seeds, so if you have textures issues, that might be a problem.  

As far as nutrition is concerned, these yogurts are still a great choice due to their high protein content.  Each flavor has 14g of protein in a 6oz. serving!  The Apple-Cinnamon and Blood Orange flavors are 0% fat, so have 140 calories and 0g of fat.  The Passion Fruit is 2% milk-fat, so is slightly more for 160 calories and 3g fat.  All three of these new flavors have 19g of sugar per serving, as compared to only 7g in the plain Chobani or 13g in the Vanilla flavor.  That's not to say they aren't still a great option for a healthy snack or dessert!

Please keep in mind that these reviews & opinions are solely mine, and Chobani hasn't paid or persuaded me to do this (although I kind of wish they would've...).  I truly feel that Chobani yogurts (& their new flavors!) are Nothing but Good! :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Update: I'm in a relationship.

You heard it here first: I'm in a committed relationship. 

Ok, fine I'm still single. 

But I FEEL like I'm in a relationship with running.  In fact, I think it's safe to say I'm falling in love with it.  It is my release, both physically and mentally.  Running is selfish and it's one of the only things I do that is just for me.  

Let me count the ways in which running is my new boyfriend:

1.  We're getting to know each other.  We're in that beginning phase of seeing what each other is comfortable with and I'm learning something new about it everyday. 

2.  I have to schedule time for him (ahem, it).  Just like when you're in a relationship, you have to make time for the other person and schedule dates.  I do this weekly with my training plan. And my handy day-planner.  :)

3.  It makes me feel good about myself (most of the time).  

4. "He" makes me eat more.  Ya know how everyone says you gain weight in relationships?  Yeah...  (Although we do share my favorite food group: carbohydrates!)

5.  Running plays mind games with me.  It is not easy.  It takes a lot of mental strength just to get your shoes laced up and out the door!  I definitely have to reassure myself with positive thoughts and remember that I always feel better after a run than I do before it.

I think I'll keep running around for awhile.  This relationship has great potential and I'm excited to see what's in store for us!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Halfway done!

Today I am thankful for....

Icy Hot.  Sexy, I know.  Okay, just stinky.  But when my legs are happy & tingling, I'm happy too.

Oatmeal. Conveniently enough, January is National Oatmeal Month, so I'm celebrating daily. There are so many ways to prepare oatmeal, I almost never get bored! I always sprinkle in flaxseed, but lately I've been adding a spoonful of peanut butter too! (shocker)

Cute boys at the gym.  Yeah, I realize my beet-red face & sweat-soaked t-shirt isn't likely to snag me one of those babes.  But they sure do motivate me to keep good form and bust my butt!

Rocky letting me sleep in all the way til my alarm went off this morning! While he is still the LAZIEST dog in the world, lately he wakes me up 10 min before I need to be up! But not today! So thank you, Rocky!

Sweatpants.  No need to elaborate on that one.

the fact that I'm officially HALFWAY done with my Dietetic Internship! The hardest part is yet to come, but the end is in sight! 5 months left! Woohoo!

What are you thankful for today?!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quinoa: The Great "Grain"

Quinoa: an ancient "grain" that is actually a seed.  Not only is it high in protein, but it is a complete protein, which means it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids.  This is not common in plant-based foods, so quinoa is a great option for vegans or vegetarians concerned about their protein intake! (One cup of quinoa contains 8g of protein)

I personally LOVE quinoa and use it often.  I describe it as a small, fluffy grain that is also crunchy and nutty in flavor.  It's super easy to cook with, preparing 1 part quinoa with 2 parts liquid and boiling for about 15 minutes.

I usually buy Ancient Harvest Quinoa (picture above...usually about $4.99 a box, 8 servings).  I recently came across these packets of Roland Quinoa in the store (below...2 for $5, 3 servings per bag).  They come in different flavored mixes, including Roasted Garlic, Garden Vegetable, Black Bean, Toasted Sesame Ginger, and Mediterranean.  I figured I'd try them out, and bought Black Bean and Mediterranean.  

I cooked the Mediterranean packet, and added a bunch of sauteed spinach and a little feta cheese to complete my meal.  

It was super easy to cook and I'd recommend these flavor packets to others, but I probably won't use them again.  For me, the added seasonings and flavor was too salty.  One serving contains 270mg of sodium, which isn't SO bad, but I prefer to make plain quinoa and add my own seasonings.  I don't cook with salt or use table salt on my food, so my palate is very sensitive to it.  

Either way, quinoa is delicious and definitely packs a big nutritional punch! It can be cooked as an alternative to couscous or rice, prepared as a breakfast dish or even ground down to flour for use in baking.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why Not Eat White?

As a nutrition professional, one of the first things I recommend to people is to include a variety of colorful foods in their diet.  In fact, last year's National Nutrition Month theme was "Eat Right with Color" and I've written a post on "Tasting the Rainbow".  Choosing fruits and vegetables that vary in color ensures that you're getting all of the important vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly.  

That being said, incorporating foods completely lacking in color can be just as nutritional.  These seemingly boring white foods are loaded with bold health benefits!

  • Cottage cheese is a good source of calcium and protein. Be sure to pick low-fat or fat-free options!
  • Garlic is heart healthy, as it works to reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides!
  • Potatoes are low-calorie (as long as you don't add a ton of cheese, sour cream or oil) and higher in fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, potassium and many other nutrients!
  • Yogurt/Kefir is packed with calcium and phosphorus, as well as healthy bacteria to boost your immune system.
  • Onions are similar to garlic in their cardiovascular benefits and they are rich  inquercetin, a flavonoid found to reduce inflammation.
  • Mushrooms are technically neither plant nor animal, so these delicious fungi are able to provide a variety of nutrients that may be lacking from other sources.  Mushrooms are high in copper, selenium, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid.

Eat Right & Eat WHITE! :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thankful Thursday: A New Year & A Short Week!

Happy Thursday! Here's what I'm feeling thankful for in the first week of 2012:

1. This 4-day work week.  Tomorrow is already Friday, in case you didn't know! Woohoo!

2. My foam roller.  As painful as this thing is, it really helps with tightness.
No pain, no gain..right?

3. Board games. Who doesn't love a good game of Clue, Mall Madness or Pictionary? Although I can be a sore loser sometimes, I've never had a bad time playing a board game.  Instant fun with friends.
Oh, you can't tell that the middle picture is a KEY? Come on! 

4. To have finally WON something! I never win anything. Ever. I enter fitness and food giveaways ALL the time and I've never won! Until now.  I won a case of the newest flavors of Chobani Greek Yogurt: Blood Orange, Passion Fruit & Cinnamon Apple.  I am beyond stoked! A combination of 2 of my favorite things: CHOBANI & FREE STUFF! Stay tuned for my "reviews" of the new flavors...

5. Awesome opportunities. At my internship this week, I was able to scrub in for a gastric lap band surgery and I am still excited about it!  I love all things medical, and having the chance to watch a laparoscopic surgery up close was incredible!  I'm blessed with nurses blood and a super strong stomach, so I'm not easily grossed out.   In fact, I'm also thankful I was wearing a face mask, because I was so into it, my mouth was gaping open the entire time! 

What are you thankful for today...?

Monday, January 2, 2012

I'm Officially Training for a Half Marathon!

It's official.  I've started my training plan for the 13.1 NY Half Marathon!!!  The race takes place on March 24, 2012 in the beautiful & historic Flushing Meadows Corona Park, home to the 1939 and 1964 World's Fair. 

I'll be doing 13.1 miles around this fancy guy...
 I chose this race for several reasons.  First, it's pretty much 10 minutes from my apartment.  Second, the 13.1 series has a really good reputation and reasonable race fees.  Third, since it's located in Queens and not a NYRR race, you can actually GET IN! Just sign up, and you can do it.  Well, you have to train for it too...but you know what I mean!  

My plan is generally follow this 12-week training program from Hal Higdon, a long-time runner and founding member of the Road Runners Club of America.  This guy knows his stuff.  So I absolutely trust in his plan.  It's created for a beginning runner, which I am happy about since I want to take it easy and stay away from injuries! Although I'm currently running more than the base mileage of this plan, I want to avoid overdoing anything, so it works perfect for me.  Slow and steady wins finishes the race, right?

I'm realizing that training will take up a lot of my time, and although I'm very busy with my internship, I know I'll be able to fit it all in.  Running is definitely my outlet for stress and my training plan will force me to stick with it.  It will also force me to cross-train, which I always struggle with.  Now let's just hope the winter weather cooperates so I'm able to keep up my outdoor running (since that's really my only option!).  

I'll keep updating on how training is going and what challenges I encounter along the way! Wish me luck! :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

NYRR Emerald Nuts Midnight Run

First and foremost: Happy New Year!!!

I am so unbelievably happy to say that I was 100% sober last night and feel fantastic this morning.  Instead of paying big money to have a mediocre time at a bar or club in NYC, my roomate and I ran the NYRR Emerald Nuts 4-mile Midnight Run.  

Decorated & Ready to go!

If only we could train Rocky to take our photos...
We left Queens around 10 p.m. and didn't run into any trouble on the subway or getting to Central Park! When we arrived at the bandshell, we were blown away by just how many people decided to ring in 2012 with a run! There was music, dancing and even a costume contest.

The Costume Contest
We weren't really in costume, but figured since we both dressed all in black, we could be "New Year's Ninjas".  Hence these silly photos:

Despite the crazy number of people, NYRR & Emerald Nuts put together a good race.  Everyone got fun foam hats (ours were shiny, therefore more fun...), blinking lights and Breakfast to Go packs.

Because this was a "fun run", there were no corrals, and everyone just started gathering behind the start line. Again, I was amazed by the number of people choosing to start 2012 on the right foot (pun intended :) ).  I was also surprised at the number of people watching, cheering, or just randomly wandering around Central Park waiting for midnight.

After the countdown to midnight, the fireworks started and we were off! Well, it took us a good 5-minutes of walking to get to the start line, but at least we were MOVING at midnight!

It was roomie's first race ever, so we were eager to get going!

I'd say this was a perfect first race for her, since it's not timed and there are so many people around for encouragement!  We alternated running & walking, and we'll see how she feels today, but she did great!

Look at her go!
As for me, I LOVED taking part in something fun & healthy to start off 2012.  I liked not running for time and spent most of the race just smiling and checking out the fireworks, the ridiculous costumes and the drunk people on the sidewalks.

Cheesin in 2012!

We'd heard a rumor that the water-stop at Mile 2 had champagne, which was more than enough motivation to get there!

Don't usually see that at a race...
 Of course, we grabbed some "champagne"! Okay, fine. It was sparkling cider...but we can pretend, no?


From there on, it was back down the West side to the finish, where we had water, apples & bagels waiting for us.  We did it!  Congrats to the roomie on her very first running race! I'm quite proud of the new runner! Maybe there are more races in store in 2012...

So congratulations to all NYE Midnight runners and I wish you all a very healthy & Happy New Year!

Today for us is all about good food & good friends, as we're hosting a New Year's Day brunch in a few hours.  Cheers!