Saturday, June 26, 2010

In a twist

Chocolate, sweet chocolate.

Could you think of a better way to start your day? OK, maybe you can but this morning the chocolate was speaking to me.

"Eat me. EAT ME!" it said.

What choice did I have? I went with a PB&J made with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams and raspberry spread as well as a smoothie made with chocolate smoothie mix, strawberry yogurt and 1 cup of Almond Breeze. The smoothie wad delish, as usual, but the PB&J wasn't as good as I thought it would be. I munched on both during my WW meeting, where we went over portion sizes and how to keep things in control. A lesson that obviously didn't sink in ... but we'll get to that later.

After the meeting, I had to make a couple stops at the grocery and Target. I was powered through the running around by one of these ...

A non-fat latte. Yum!

I puttered around the house, doing dishes and watching the Scrabble documentary "Word Wars" (yes, I'm a nerd) until it was time for lunch. I had picked up some avocados and tomatoes at the store so I knew a veggie sandwich was in store for me.

In addition to the tomatoes and avocado, I put on sliced zucchini, red onions, red bell pepper, alfalfa sprouts and some havarti cheese on the Pepperidge Farms Deli Flat. I put it on the grill pan with some extra zucchini. I finished off the Alexia sweet potato fries, too. I loved the havarti cheese on the sandwich - it totally made it.

After lunch, I managed to get in a HOT walk with Denali before heading to the mall. I brought along some almonds to snack on as I looked for a new pair of khaki pants. Instead, I found myself standing in line at the Auntie Anne's booth. They had given out samples of their almond pretzel, and I couldn't not get one. AH-mazing. And I ate the entire 390-calorie monstrosity. Every. Last. Bite. Thank goodness there's no photo to provide proof of such an indulgence.

Dinner had to be light after that as no amount of shopping burns off that guilt. I went with a bowl of vegetable-barley soup, cut vegetables, roasted red pepper hummus and a wheat pita.

Surprisingly satisying and the veggies are good to snack on as I watch "This Is It." Don't judge - I have to rest up for tomorrow's 8-miler ;)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Out on a limb

Pre-workout fuel: One slice wheat toast with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams and cinnamon roast coffee
Workout: 4.44-mile run in 41 minutes, 20 seconds; average pace, 9:19.

A tree hit me. It did - right in the face. I was just running down the street ... and BAM! The branch whipped across my nose and cheek. No, no. I didn't try to run "through" the tree limb, thinking it was just leaves hanging across my path. Not. At. All. Thankfully, I escaped injury and there are no visible marks on my face. Just the blemishes that have decided to pop up as if I'm 15.

OK, back to the run ...

Let me just say that the weather was fantastic. The humidity finally didn't feel so heavy, and it almost felt cool outside. If every summer morning was like this, I might not long for winter.

We set out to do a SLOW 4 miles after a restless night for Mark and me. We were out to exercise and nothing more. The first mile (9:36) was almost a struggle as I tried to find my legs and wake up. Mile 2 (9:41) was more of the same. As we got to the half-way point on the route, Mark and I just wanted to be done. The only way to be done was to go faster. Mile 3 clocked in at 9:20 and Mile 4 at 9:06. That last 0.44 was ran at an 8:14 pace!

Of course, by the time it was all over, I was feeling good. Ready for a little more. Not another 4.44 miles more but more.

Have a great Friday!

Pleasure's in the 'pudding'

I would like you to meet my new best friend.

Her name is ... well, she doesn't have a name. She's too cool for that. I can tell you a little bit about her, though. She's made with 1 cup of prepared steel-cut oats that have been refrigerated, a container of honey-flavored Greek yogurt, chopped apricots and a healthy dash - or 10 - of cinnamon. Mixed all together, she is perfect - whole grains, protein (from the yogurt) and fruit. Oh, and the taste and texture sort of reminds me of tapioca pudding. Can you say love?
I had this concoction for breakfast yesterday on a whim. I had yogurt that was nearing expiration, some oats that had to be eaten and too many apricots. I was also running behind and didn't feel like reheating the oats with almond milk or trying to cook down the apricots. It was a great breakfast on the go.

And that's all I did yesterday is go. Go, go, go. I barely had time to eat lunch, much less go to Greekfest for a gyro as planned. It was another trip to the hospital cafeteria for me.

The build-it-yourself bar of the day was baked potatoes with all the fixins. I had one sprinkled with cheese and a good helping of broccoli. The salad bar was also looking a little better this week and I helped myself to up the veggie quotient. A cup of chicken soup rounded out the meal.

Throughout the afternoon, I snacked on an apple, string cheese and some cut veggies (half of which I accidentally threw on the floor).

Even with all of the snacking, I was ravenous by the time dinner came around. I threw together some Pasta Mama - whole wheat pasta, red bell pepper, eggs/egg whites and basil. The eggs are scrambled, sort of, in the same pan with the spaghetti so that egg coats the strands. AH-mazing.

(Sorry there's no photo. I couldn't take the time to snap one before I dug in!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Path least taken

Pre-run fuel: Slice of whole wheat toast with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams and half a banana. Oh, and Cinnamon Roast coffee!
Workout: 6.75 miles, in 1:02:35, for an average pace of 9:15

"Don't pray for an easier path - pray for tougher shoes."

The quote was posted on the marquee of a hair salon that I passed along my route this morning. After two sub-par runs, the words really spoke to me (even though I think they were meant in a religious context). Sometimes you have to tough it out. Sometimes you have to dig deep. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that turning around isn't an option.

Maybe it was those words, what they meant; maybe it was rest; maybe it was the cinnamon coffee ... whatever it was, today felt good. Our route took us out-and-back on a fairly busy road but, thankfully, includes very few stops. We set a pretty good pace, and my husband asked as to whether I'd keep it up.

"We'll see," I muttered because, to be honest, I wasn't so sure. It was hot, humid. Even at 7 a.m. It was so bad that I seriously considered taking off my top and running in shorts and a sports bra. A scary, scary proposition. Remember how I need to work on my abs? Yeah. 'Nuff said.

I will say, though, that me going all indecent exposure isn't as scar as what Mark and Denali spotted.

A scorpion! I'm not sure I 100% believe Mark but both he and the dog saw something to freak 'em out. We crossed the street at the turnaround so I didn't get a chance to see it. You can imagine my disappointment, I'm sure.

Despite our brush with death, we cranked out a pretty good run. We were all pretty tired the second half but made it through and managed to run the last half as strong as the first half. Tough shoes!

Have you come across anything crazy on a run?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Order's up

What a day. What. A. Day.

I seriously went non-stop from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. between working out and working.

I started the day off with egg whites on a Pepperidge Farms deli flat and a side of sliced tomatoes. And coffee ... of course. One day sans my favorite beverage was enough.

Check out the reading material I picked up form the library! Books filled with vegetarian and clean-eating recipes that I hope to try out in the coming weeks.

An apple and a 100-calorie pack of almonds were also consumed this morning. I work up such an appetite when I swim.

Nothing satisfied that appetite more than my delicious lunch. My friend and I had a lunch date to meet at our favorite downtown deli. They have a large selection of hot and cold sandwiches, cold salads, a salad bar and soups du jour. Everything is so good there that it's hard to choose. I couldn't help but go with a new favorite - turkey with brie, caramelized onions and Dijon mustard. Usually the sandwiches are served on a sub bun, which is grilled, but I opted for whole wheat bread. A cup of tomato soup was also ordered.

I ate all of the sandwich (it was too good) and about two-thirds of the soup. Before I knew it, I had to head back to work and my mile-long to-do list. I barely had time to eat my snack of grapes and cheese bites (those so-so Kraft ones).

All that work had me ravenous by the time I got home. I needed something quick. And easy. I opted for a whole-wheat pita pizza. I topped it with a couple tablespoons of pizza sauce, tomatoes, red onions, red bell pepper and some random turkey pepperoni I had in the fridge. There was cheese, too. Can't have pizza without cheese!

See the yummy goodness bake!

I added a side of broccoli to make sure I actually ate some vegetables today and got in some extra water.

Happy Wednesday! Just two more days left :)

Sink or swim

"Why choose to fail when success is an option?" - Jillian Michaels

Workout: 30-Day Shred, 2.25-mile walk with dog and 600-yard swim

I love Jillian Michaels. Seriously, I do. Her workouts are tough in a way that many other workouts are not. She combines upper and lower body moves, as well as integrates cardio into the mix. And, my favorite part, she talks about how difficult the moves are and never does them herself. I wouldn't want to do a billion lunges and anterior raises. Oh, how they are the bane of my existence.

Others things I noticed about 30-Day Shred, part 1m this morning: Triceps were seemingly absent, jumping jacks are not a good exercise for apartment dwellers and I'm not coordinated enough to do bicycle crunches.

After I finished the OnDemand selection, I tried to find a cardio routine so I could avoid the pool. No such luck. So I ate breakfast, got the dog on a leash and set off.

The three of us (Mark came along) went on the normal loop of about 2.25 miles in some seriously muggy weather. Thank goodness I brought water. By the way, I always bring water on walks because it's a good chance to check off some of those eight glasses.

We went at a good clip (thanks, Denali), and I now had no excuses not to make it to the pool for the half-hour open swim. Nothing's changed in a week - I still suck at swimming. Although, I was joined by middle schoolers (not high schoolers) and an older gentleman who swam at the same pace as me.

I managed to crank out 600 yards in the time allotted. I even went a few lengths without desperately clinging to the side of the pool before braving the deep end. I know practice makes, umm, better but the first thing I need to do is relax in the pool ... and get lessons from one of those 12-year-old girls.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Missing my stride

"These shoes pinch my feet, but I love them." - Carrie Bradshaw

It's been that kind of day - the wrong shoes, not enough food/snacks in the work bag, a peeling manicure and an SD card that is never with me.

I "recovered" from my run with some more steel-cut oats as I had made four-servings worth Sunday night/Monday morning. I warmed up on the stove with a splash of Almond Breeze and Truvia. Once they were warm, I added a teaspoon or two of PB and some dried currants. Why do I have currants and not raisins? Not so sure.

Mental note: Add raisins to the grocery list.

Yesterday I found the oats to be uber filling. Today? Not so much. I made myself a strawberry-banana smoothie (frozen fruit and Almond Breeze) and grabbed a 100-calorie pack of almonds. They held me just through the 11 a.m. meeting after which I was already thinking about lunch. I had packed a veggie pita with roasted red pepper hummus and Amy's Black Bean Vegetable soup.

I found the soup on an end cap at Target where it was marked down considerably. I thought it would be like other black bean soups - hearty, with lots of whole beans. You know, like my fave Panera item. Instead it was more brothy than hearty with bits of carrot and corn. It had potatoes, too. And I hate potatoes in soup. Strange but just a fact of life.

Anyway, as you can assume, I ate lunch too early ... raided the afternoon snacks too early ... found myself at the vending machine ... drooling at the Heath bars. I opted for microwave popcorn and a Nutri-Grain bar (hello, high fructose corn syrup. Nice to see you again).

I definitely need to stock up on yummy and healthy snacks for an emergency hunger drawer at work. Any suggestions?

Double down

Workout: Ran 2.11 miles in 2o minutes, 30 seconds at an average pace of 9:30.
Pre workout fuel: Wheat toast (1 slice) with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams

I hate the alarm. I hate it, I hate it, I HATE it. The dern thing went off at 6:30 a.m., awaking me from a decent night's slumber and bringing me right back to reality - acid reflux is still rearing its ugly head. I made my way to the kitchen to make some toast but opted to skip the coffee today.

No coffee = Sad Kim.

I ate my toast, got dressed and went on my way. I set out on a 4-mile route that I made up when I first began running and wanted to see if I could run 4 miles. Those days were challenging and yet so rewarding because I learned that I could dig deep, push through and accomplish things I hadn't thought possible. The route is mainly residential and includes few stops at intersections, especially in the early miles.

I headed out a decent pace but the more I went, the sicker I felt. I tried going slower. I tried going faster. I tried stopping for a moment and sipping water. I tried taking a small walk break. Each attempt led me to the same conclusion: This run was not going to happen. So I walked home. And let me tell you, I hate having to walk home. I stopped my Garmin but kept an eye on the pace, trying to walk fast enough to my heart rate up.

I did plan for this week to be a cutback week. I just didn't think I would cut back this much. I thought about trying the run again tonight but opted against it. I might try some pilates or another gentle exercise to burn a few more calories but it's more of that "listen to your body" thing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Meal of steel

Growing up in Cincinnati, there was one use, and one use only, for steel-cut oats: Goetta. You didn't make focaccia. You didn't use it in a cake. And you certainly, absolutely, did not eat them for breakfast as CEREAL.

But, today, I broke that tradition. I ate myself a bowl of steel-cut oats with cinnamon, apricots and a drizzle of honey.

I opted to soak the oats overnight so that I only had to spend 10 minutes cooking them this morning. The oats definitely have a different texture than the rolled oats I'm used but I liked them. I also found them to be far more filling than a traditional bowl. I think I need to do some poking around to find some variations but this will definitely be a new favorite.

Not a new favorite? The lunch spot Mark and I tried today.

I should have taken the downpour that started just as I was leaving as a sign that lunch would be no good. The second sign should have been the spelling error on the menu. But, darn it, I had a Groupon!

The menu was somewhat limited - your basic sandwiches, salads and soups du jour - and even more limited as it is Meatless Monday. I could have a veggie sandwich (which had cream cheese) or tuna. I went with tuna and a cup of vegetable soup. While I'm sure tuna is a stretch on MM, I'm fairly certain my cup of vegetable soup failed the test. I couldn't find any beef chunks but the broth looked a little too rich to be a vegetarian vegetable soup. The sandwich and soup were your average. My husband even said that he could have made it - which is saying a lot.

The quality of the meal was matched by the cashier/order taker yelling at her kids and telling someone (a worker) to get out of the way. When a shady looking guy asked to bum a smoke off my husband, I knew it was time to leave. We braved the "rivers" flowing alongside the curbs and stopped to grab a coffee (for me) and a cookie (for Mark).

Tonight we're headed to the baseball stadium for some home run derby action. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather.

Cheerful wake-up call

It was another restless night. Heart burn plus loud neighbors talking about their aversion to being Bible thumpers left me lying awake at 1 a.m. And very, very unhappy. So I got up and did what any sleep-deprived girl would do:

I went outside and yelled at the downstairs neighbors. I told them I could hear everything they were saying and informed them that this was the second night in a row they had woken me up. Quiet would be greatly appreciated.
This little foray into telling people to shut it is a little out of character for me. So much so that my heart was beating out of my chest, and it took me a good 15 minutes to calm down and try to sleep.

Given that I had two nights of less-than-desirable rest, I could have shut off the alarm at 6:20 a.m. and went back to sleep. Instead, I did this:

Yoga with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. (Stop laughing, I'm serious.) The workout was one of the videos available on Comcast OnDemand, and it was one of the few that was less than 50 minutes. It was pretty basic but it had lots of forward folds, which I loved. Stretch those hammies!

Also on tap this morning was another session with Cindy and her Tank Top Arms. Once again, she killed me though it did help that I didn't pair her with Jillian. A 10-minute ab session followed. I totally need to pay more attention to my abs. Or pay attention to them, period.

Happy Monday!

Hash it out

It's incredible. It's edible. It's the incredible, edible egg!

After the 11-miler that wasn't, it was time for breakfast. I decided to make hash and over-medium eggs - it just tasted too good the other night. Plus, my WW leader advised that I should be adding in more protein to correlate with my activity level. Eggs = yummy, filling protein.

I lazed around after breakfast, sipping coffee, and wondering whether I should take a nap after a restless night. As I was about to give in, the phone rang and we were invited to lunch at an Italian restaurant. It's a local favorite that is not known for being healthy. In fact, it's signature salad has one of the most calorie- and fat-laden dressings on the planet. I wasn't feeling particularly hungry, and I opted for a bowl of vegetable-lentil soup and a mini salad - no cheese, dressing on the side. The soup had little pieces, almost pureed, of broccoli and spinach. It was really brothy and light unlike some of the richer soups I've had.

Even though the soup and salad were good, they weren't very filling. A couple hours later, I needed a snack.

Roasted red pepper hummus, wheat pita and carrots to the rescue! I love, love, love roasted red pepper hummus. I would consider eating it with a spoon if it wouldn't seem so gluttonous.

My snack was so filling that by the time dinner came around, I didn't have much of an appetite. I ended up broiling half a fillet of my leftover tilapia, and I served it with a half-cup of Parm-riffic rice and a pepper-onion mix.

Once again, the tilapia stirred up the acid reflux. I'm not sure what's in the blackening seasoning but it doesn't agree with me.

My rice, on the other hand, awesome. I just kind of made up the recipe as I went, recalling knowledge from too many hours watching Food Network. I sauteed a clove of garlic and half of a small onion (diced), the added the rice. Stir to coat the rice, toast it a bit, and add chicken stock. I used a half-cup of rice and about 1.5 cups of stock. Bring it to a boil. Cover, and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. Add 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, stir and enjoy.

Do you cook with a recipe or wing it?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The 11-miler that wasn't

Workout: 9.95 miles in 1 hour, 38 minutes; average pace, 9:52.
Workout fuel: Half a Banana Bread Larabar before run, the other half at 6.6 miles

I was supposed to run 11 miles today - that's what I wrote on my schedule. I wanted to run 11 miles. Actually, I sort of wanted to run 12 but thought I'd see how I was feeling. I wasn't feeling 12 miles. I barely was feeling 8.

Why? It could be any number of things.

*I didn't sleep well. The blackened tilapia had stirred up my acid reflux, and I was feeling the twinges of an attack as I laid in bed.
*The downstairs neighbor had his dog outside, and I woke up at 12:30 a.m. to the sound of his barks.
*The barking continued until 2 a.m., and I maybe got to sleep again at 2:30.
*Denali dog woke me up at 7 a.m. for food and the morning visit outside.
*I stayed up and got out on the trail about 7:45 a.m., at which point the sun was already blazing.
*It just wasn't my day.

Once again, this long run was split into two but this time I ran the first part by myself (6.66) and the remainder with Mark and Denali. I felt OK but tired the first part. There was some nice shade on the trail and I was able to start off at a slow-to-moderate pace - with several of the miles clocking in at 9:55.

Things changed the second part. Mark was waiting for me with the remainder of the Larabar and a fresh water bottle. I decided to run into the house quickly to use the bathroom and change my tank, which was drenched in sweat. We started off, with about 4.5 miles to get in. The first two, I guess, were a test but doable. Then, once again, I felt like I fell apart at mile 9. I was tired. My legs felt heavy. And I was HOT. I was gulping down water and that in turn caused cramps. It was a vicious cycle.

We stopped about mile 9.5 to refill the water bottle at which point Mark looked at me and said that I wasn't looking so good. "You don't have to do this, you know," he said. I told him that I wanted to get to 10 and then we'd walk the rest of the way. We had to stop to cross a busy-ish street at 9.95, and I knew I was done.

As we walked home, I vocalized how disappointed I was in myself - that I couldn't do the 11. That I had to stop for water breaks and not run and drink. That I didn't deserve to put a sticker on my training schedule.

"But you just ran almost 10 miles," Mark said. "How is that bad?"

And now that I've eaten breakfast, had some coffee, I'm able to say that running 10 miles instead of 11 isn't bad. It's OK. Better even because I listened to my body.