Monday, June 22, 2009

good eats: guilt-free granola

Granola is easily one of my favorite foods. However, most of the pre-made versions out there have so many added sugars and fats that really just aren't needed. So I thought I'd share my own healthy, yet extremely satisfying version. Try it out! You won't be dissapointed.

dry ingredients:
2/3 c rolled oats (dry)
1/3 c steel cut oats (dry)
1 tbspn raw wheat germ
1 tbspn flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbspn raw unsalted sunflower seeds
2 tbspn crushed walnuts or almonds
2 tbspn raisins or chocolate chips (optional)

wet ingredients:
1 tsp molasses
1 tsp canola oil
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
2 tbspn raw agave nectar
1 tsp almond butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients seperately. Then mix together. Place mixture in a (no-stick sprayed) 8 x 8 glass baking dish. Bake for 7 minutes, then stir, bake 7 more, stir again, bake 5 additional minutes or until oats are golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Serving suggestion: 1/4 cup granola, 1/4 cup almond milk, 1 tbsp blueberries.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

eating bender

Do you ever have one of those weekends where you go a little crazy? Eat a little too much, drink a little too much, party a little too hard? Well lets just say I had one of those weekends.
It started off great. I woke early on Saturday morning and went for a nice 7 mile run before hitting the road for a good friend's wedding in the mountains. Boy how things changed...

I took a little too much time getting ready and ended up being a bit late picking up a few friends I offered to drive up, so in place of a full meal I just grabbed a SuperFood Odwalla Bar to eat on the way. Check out the gorgeous views on the drive:

The Odwalla bar kept me satisfied for a few hours, but by the time the ceremony was over at about 3 p.m. I was about ready to chew my arm off. So in between the service and the reception we decided to meet up with a few other friends for a drink and some apps. And lets just say the menu selection was a bit... limited. After three deep fried pita chips and some not so great spinach artichoke dip I decided I'd rather wait until the reception and see what I could find there. This also meant I was drinking my first glass of red wine on a pretty empty stomach and at an elevation of 9,000 feet might I add.
There was a gorgeous cheese and fruit display at the reception, so I snacked on some berries and grapes before dinner. Of course I forgot to take pictures. Doh!

I had another glass of wine while we chatted and waited for the bridal party to arrive and dinner to be served. The dinner spread was great. Sit down salads and then a buffet including chicken, tenderloin with mushrooms, asparagus, roasted potatoes and fresh bread. I had a little taste of everything but must admit was on to my third glass of wine, so didnt really eat all that much.

I did, however, enjoy an amazing piece of lemon wedding cake and a big portion of the chocolate raspberry too. I am a cake fan. What else can I say?

After the wedding we headed to the local watering hole and I enjoyed a couple late night beers to finish off a pretty awesome night.

As you can suspect in the morning I was a hurting girl. And when we got to the breakfast buffet I walked right past the fresh fruit and headed stratight for the greasy section: breakfast burrito-like concoction, sausage, crossaint, banana bread. That buffet was quite possibly my biggest mistake all weekend. It sure did taste good going down, but it had my stomach in knots the whole drive home. I had a hearty bagel with almond butter and some fruit Sunday evening, but when I woke the morning after my stomach was still hurting pretty bad.

I'm finally starting to feel more like myself today, now that I've had a full two days to recover. But wow! I don't think I'll be doing anything like that again anytime soon. This weekend was definitely a learning experience for me. It sure has made me appreciate my body and realize what a difference good wholesome foods can make.

Even with the stomach issues it was an amazing weekend! So full of love and laughter and happiness. Here's me and the BEAUTIFUL bride:

But the next time I have a weekend trip like this one you can bet I'll be picking the fruit and granola over the sausage gravy. No contest.

Friday, June 12, 2009

feed me friday

I don't know about you, but for some reason my appetitie goes through the roof on Fridays. Maybe it's due to the intense kickboxing classes I've been taking Thursday evenings, or my body knowing that it is almost the weekend. But for whatever reason, every Friday my hunger levels soar and my normal food intake just doesn't cut it. So I've started working what many foodie-bloggers so often refer to as a "green monster" into my routine. And boy does it do wonders! A great big THANK YOU to Angela and Jenna for introducing me to these bad boys! I still eat all my normal meals and snacks, but adding this refreshing addition mid-morning really keeps me on track (and away from the office cookie jar).

Today's mixture:
3 cups spinach
1 cup strawberries
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup organic fat-free greek yogurt
3-4 ice cubes

A little blender action, a couple additional blueberries as a topper and there you have it. Grumbly tummy no more!

What about you? Do you have a day your body seems to crave more food? Any tricks to keep your appetite in control?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

the right marathon

For the past week I've spent what feels like every free moment I've had researching marathons. I never imagined I'd have so much trouble choosing my first. I thought running the race was supposed to be the hard part!

There are so many factors to consider.
- Course (flat, flat, flat!)
- Date (ideally Late Sept - Early Nov)
- Number of other racers (not too big, but not too small)
- Location (i live in colorado so will be training at elevation...bonus points for sea level races and locales where ill have a nice big cheering section)
- Running buddies (Depending on which race I choose, my older sister is considering running with me. HUGE PLUS to have her struggling through it with me!)
- Reviews from past runners re: weather, volunteers, organization (marathonguide has been a HUGE help)

All of that said, I've narrowed my list to a few east coast races I'm really looking into.
Toronto Waterfront Marathon - Sept 27
Toronto Marathon - Oct 18
Niagara Falls Marathon - Oct 25
OBX Outerbanks Marathon - Nov 8

Stay tuned to see which race I choose. And of course, if you have any thoughts or suggestions, do share!

Monday, June 8, 2009

good eats: classic hummus

Hearty hummus in 5 minutes or less:
1 can organic garbanzo beans (undrained)
2 tbpsn tahini
1 tbspn olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 pinch sea salt
Roasted red pepper flakes to taste

Heat garbanzo beans on stove top. When cooked, pour beans and half of cooking water into food processor. Add tahini, oil, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Blend well. Top with roasted red pepper flakes. Serve alongside veggies.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

television fast

I'll admit it...I am a reality t.v. junkie. The hills, the kardashians, even the real housewives. I can't get enough. And normally I'm okay with giving in to this vice of mine. I mean a little t.v. every now and again isn't such a bad thing is it? But lately I've realized all the things on my personal "to do" list that continuosly get swept aside because I've gotten wrapped up in another "What Not to Wear" marathon. There are so many books I want to read, so many recipes I want to try, so many trails I want to hike...

So in the spirit of getting healthy and living the best life I can I'm going to try a little experiment. I'm going to give up t.v. for the remainder of the month. With the exception of the news. (It's part of my job. I'm a PR person.) And we'll see how it goes. Hopefully it'll be exactly the jumpstart I need to get some checkmarks on that to do list.

First up is a book I've had sitting on my bookshelf for months. Haruki Murakami's "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

gym rat

I've always loved exercise. The high after a great run, the burn in your booty while climbing the stairmaster, the second day soreness after an intense lifting session. It doesn't get any better. At least not to me. And through the years no matter how my food choices have changed, my regular need for exercise has never ceased to fail me. Exercise is my drug of choice and for that I am grateful.

But just like anyone else I get bored pretty easy, so mixing up my routine from day to day is very important. I hate doing the same type of cardio two days in a row, so I don't. I'm really enjoying the routine I've been doing for the past few weeks. It gives me a little something different each day.

Of course, as I begin my marathon training this schedule will evolve to include a great deal more running. But for the time being it is working out pretty well.

Monday:45 minutes of Core Central (all over body lifting/cardio class); 15 minute Abs class
Tuesday: 12-20 minutes Stairmaster; 30-40 minutes Interval Elliptical Training; Abs
Wednesday: 4.5-5.5 miles Interval Running; 60 minute Yoga Class
Thursday: 60 minutes of Cardio Kickboxing
Friday: Free day!
Saturday: 60 minutes of Cardio Kickboxing
Sunday: 6-7 mile easy run outside

And there you have it.

In closing this evening I'd like to leave you with this - Today at the gym I overheard a girl bragging about how she'd been there since 4 p.m. It was 8:45 p.m. Now I'm all about getting in a good workout everyday, but 5 hours at the gym seems a bit extreme to me. What do you think? Is 5 hours too much time to spend at the gym?

battle of the bulge

I've struggled with my weight and body image for as long as I can remember. I mean to some degree what girl hasn't? But growing up with three sisters, each of which has legs that seem to go on for days, wasn't always easy. I was the "big boned" one. The jiggly one. The one with a pretty face (i.e. the one who could definitely afford to lose a few pounds).

I was an active kid - I've always loved sports and exercise. I ran, jumped, tumbled and cheered my way through high school. But as my late teens and early twenties arrived, those years of bagels, muffins, and chocolate chip cookies started to take a toll on my body. I couldn't eat the way I used to, even with the amount of activity I was doing.

So I started dieting. To be honest I think I tried every diet in the book. From South Beach to Weight Watchers to diet pills to yes, even hypnotherapy. But nothing worked, at least not to the degree I was hoping for (in hindsight I realize what unrealistic goals I hoped to achieve in such short time spans). So after about three weeks of attempting the newest diet craze, I'd give up and stuff my face with cookies. And those extra few pounds just stuck to me like glue.

And then came college. Binge drinking and late night junk food runs. Enough said. I'd spend hours upon hours kicking my butt in the gym, only to head to the bars and down three shots, five beers and a nice big slice of pizza at 3 a.m. And I wondered why I couldn’t lose the weight? Ha!

Post-graduation I was convinced the weight would just fall off. I cut back on drinking, started eating "healthier" (no more 3 a.m. food runs) and was still running and working out 5/6 days per week. And I did lose some weight. About 10 pounds actually. But I still didn't have that rock hard body or those 6-pack abs that all the other girls at my gym so proudly sported. In fact, people (me included) barely noticed my weight loss. I just couldn't understand it. I worked out just as hard, if not harder than those other girls at the gym, but my body just stayed the same. It was so frustrating...

I'm not really sure when or why I had my "ah-ha" moment. But one day I just decided that eating fat-free, 100 calorie, artifically sweetened, fake food was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I'd become a constantly hungry, food obsessed, still overweight, exercise freak. And I said, NO MORE!

I took a good hard look at the foods I was putting into my body and realized that all those so-called "healthy" foods were really just mounds of processed junk and artificial sweeteners, not doing anything to help fuel my body in a healthy way. Diet cokes, sugar-free snacks, light microwave dinners - all staples in my meal plan. And the thing is I was never satisfied. I would polish off a pre-portioned micro dinner, chug down my diet coke and still be yearning for more.

So as terrified as I was to add full fat (aka real foods) back into my diet, I did. And you know what. It's true - what they say is true. A half a scoop of full fat ice cream is so much more satisfying than eating a whole tub of that reduced fat, artificially sweetened crap. Taking this into mind, I began experimenting with more whole foods. More natural foods. Less processed garbage and more goodies straight out of the garden. I eliminated the artificial sweeteners, kicked my diet coke addiction, and started using raw honey and agave nectar to sweeten up my meals. I've been eating whole grains for years, but I'd always just bought the whole wheat bread with the least calories. Now I look for ones with high fiber content and as few ingredients as possible. Even if that does mean more than 45 calories a slice. If I can't pronounce the first three ingredients on the label, it's probably not something I want to put into my body.

I've also started to incorporate a lot of principles of the raw food diet into my meals. A banana with raw almond butter, to me, is just as satisfying as a Skippy PB and jelly sandwich on light wheat bread. And a whole lot more filling. But that said, I really don't consider any foods off limits. If I really want something, I eat it, enjoy it and move on. I'm no longer on a diet. I've made lifestyle changes I can life with. I use the intuitive eating method - eat when I'm hungry, stop when I'm full. (pretty simple right!?) And I'm losing weight as a result.


I'm not trying to preach here. I'm not a nutritionist or a dietician. I just want to share what has worked for me and how I went from an anxious, food obsessed girl to a happy, driven, healthy woman.

Above all this - the most important thing that I've come to realize on this journey is that being skinny isn't going to make all your problems go away. Sure, maintaining a healthy weight and body shape is a great goal to aspire to. And it has its rewards -more energy, more confidence, etc. But you can only change your outer appearance so much. What is even more important is the inner you. The type of person you are and the type of person you strive to be. I still have a few pounds to go on my weight loss journey, but the fact is I’m finally learning to appreciate myself for the person I am on the inside. And I couldn’t be happier.

So thank you for reading my story, for appreciating it and hopefully learning a thing or two from it. I hope you continue on this journey with me to a better, healthier, more fulfilling life.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

quarter life crisis

In one month I will be turning twenty-five, aka a quarter century old. I'm not complaining, or even freaking out (yet), but I am starting to take a good hard look at my life. And I've realized something... even though I've done quite a lot in the first half of my twenties - lived abroad, graduated from college, moved across the country solo, entered the working world, ran my first half marathon, lost the freshmen 15 (and counting!) - there's a lot I want to do in the second half of my twenties too. And what better time to start than now? Today. Right now. Who's with me!?

So that's it.

That's what this blog is all about. Appreciating the now. Enjoying a happy, healthy, earth friendly lifestyle, all while working towards our own personal goals.

First on my list: training for and completing a FULL marathon. What about you? What's on your list? Start thinking. And stay tuned. I have a feeling this is the start of a beautiful friendship....