Friday, July 9, 2010

It's OK to be chicken

I didn't want to cook. I had just spent a whirlwind weekend in Cincinnati with family, driven 3+ hours in a hot car and still had to grocery shop and pick up Denali from the kennel. That was enough for a day. Or two.

Instead of picking up a pizza, which was very tempting, or buying a slew of frozen entrees at the grocery, I picked up one of my favorite ready-to-go meals: the rotisserie chicken. My grocery always has them hot and waiting for me near the checkout lanes. While they have several flavors, I like to stick with good ol' plain. It makes it that much easier to dress it up.

(Get it ... the chicken's dressed up! OK, I'm lame.)

Without further ado, the many faces ... or meals ... of the rotisserie chicken.

Monday: Chicken breast slices (about half of breast) with a microwaved sweet potato and grilled summer squash. (With the holiday and all, I forgot that I was supposed to go meatless.)

Tuesday: Wrap with chicken breast, raw summer squash, tomato, red onion and a wedge of the new sun-dried tomato Laughing Cow.

Wednesday: Chicken thigh quarter, broccoli and a sweet potato mashed with Silk Almond Milk, pumpkin pie spice and Truvia.

BBQ Chicken Wrap

Thursday: Wrap with chicken breast (on to breast No. 2), 1/2 T barbecue sauce, 1/2 T light ranch, shredded cheddar and red onion. Grilled until it was all warm and melty.

Friday: Quesadilla with chicken, salsa and homemade creamy avocado sauce. Wait. What is homemade avocado sauce? I took a 1/4 avocado and 1/4 cup 0% Fage, and I mashed it with a splash of lime juice and dashes of cumin, salt, pepper and garlic powder. By the way, this meal scores extra points because I served it with a 1/2 cup fat-free refried beans. Beans that were in a can, which was in my pantry. Operation: Clean Out the Pantry, full steam ahead!

How do you dress up chicken?

On parade

Pre-workout fuel: Uh, nothing. I had to weigh-in at WW.
Workout: 2.2-mile walk with dog

Now I'm not a highly metaphysical man/ But I know when the stars are aligned/ You can bump into person in the middle of the road/ Look into their eyes and you suddenly know.

What a glorious day. Absolutely glorious.

I woke up at 7:15 a.m. - sleeping in, by all accounts, for me. Denali and I had a good walk that involved little pulling and comfortable temps. I lost 1.8 pounds this week without trying. (I know, I know. I need to master maintenance.) I heard a song on the radio that I have loved for months but never knew the name or artist. Thanks smart car radio for scrolling the title - "Say Hey (I Love You)." I had the most fabulous latte from Higher Grounds - nonfat milk, cinnamon and sugar-free French vanilla and caramel syrups. I came to work and found out that one of our most annoying-to-me features will no longer run.

And, over my lunch break, I get to pick up my packet for the Runners on Parade 5K tomorrow. Bonus: Rain is not scheduled for the race or the actual parade, which I'm walking in, and it always rains on 3RF parade day.

It seems like I can say, without a doubt, "Thank goodness it's Friday." I now leave you with a video - not the video - of "Say Hey (I Love You)." Have a glorious day!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hair apparent

Pre-workout fuel: 1 slice whole-wheat toast with smear of peanut butter and Polaner High-Fiber Orange Marmalade and cup of cinnamon roast coffee
Workout: Ran 4.65 miles in 42 minutes, 21 seconds; average pace, 9:06. 2o minutes of "Tank Top Arms" with Cindy Whitemarsh

If there is anything I hate more than running in the thick humidity of this heat wave, it's running with a sweat-drenched pony tail hanging down my back.

Enter the best running hair. Eva.

I parted my hair down the middle and french braided to ear level. At that point, I pulled it up into a messy bun on each side. It's like hippie meets Princess Leia. (I didn't braid any farther down my head because my layered cut causes the braid to fall out.)

It's a super sexy look, as evidenced by my facial expression. OK, the facial expression was determination in trying to get a view of the style in the mirror.

Denali was not amused by any of this, and he waited anxiously for us to set out for a 5+ mile run.

At least 5+ miles was the plan. About 5 minutes in, I knew it wasn't going to happen. Not because I didn't think my still-sore legs could carry me that far. No, they could. The humidity was thick, and I could see Denali sweltering and panting heavily. Dogs can become severely overheated, which could cause a medical emergency. A couple extra miles isn't worth endangering my dog's health.

So we plodded along an amended route, my buns bopping up and down with each footstep. They stayed secure, for the most part, and I found it to be a comfortable style.

I didn't pass many runners this morning so I have no idea whether the style garners funny looks or those of admiration. Maybe I'll have to try it out for Saturday's 5K ...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thin pickings

Today's lunch was brought to you by Operation: Clean Out the Pantry.

Tuna salad on Thomas Everything Bagel Thin with a slice of cheese and a side of cut vegetables. (Sorry about Feisty Fiona. She forced herself into the photo and tried to steal the sandwich.)

The other day, I found myself waist-deep in the bottom cabinet looking for a box of pasta. I pushed aside a can of garbanzo beans, a can of white beans, two cans of tuna and myriad other items - all of which were purchased with a dish in mind, dishes that were never made. It's a bit ridiculous to have so much food and just let it sit there.

And so Operation: Clean Out the Pantry was born.

Canned tuna, packed in water, is the easiest item for me to use. I decided to whip up a quick tuna salad made with:
  • 1 can water-packed tuna
  • 1/2 rib celery, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped squash-zucchini mix
  • 1 egg white, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic-herb mayonnaise (I received this as a sample in the mail)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
I toasted an Everything Bagel Thin from Thomas in the toaster oven at work, added a slice of cheese and topped it with my tuna salad and sliced tomato. A side of cut veggies along with a Kashi oatmeal raisin cookie rounded out the meal. It was a tasty lunch that looked like I actually put thought into it.

Thanks, Operation: Clean Out the Pantry!

'X' marks the ..., uh, end

Pre-workout fuel: Two whole-wheat waffles with 1 cup mixed berries and 1/3 cup vanilla Chobiani and coffee before the walk
Workout: 2.3-mile walk with dog, 30 minutes "Explosive Cardio" with Kendell Hogan courtesy Comcast OnDemand

Courtesy of a kind and generous co-worker, the copy of P90X Ab Ripper was just what I was wishing for.

Or what I thought I was wishing for.

The 15-minute ab routine is not your average ab routine you find tacked on at the end of a workout. You don't get to ease in with a basic crunch or a plank. And why should it be? This is, after all, P90X. Grrr.

The workout has 11 exercises, and you do 25 reps of each exercise. I like that the video shows how many seconds are left for each move because I wanted to die after just a few reps. Not just because my abs suck - which they do - but because these exercises incorporate leg work, and my legs were in a serious sore state. Thank you, 5-mile run (yesterday), Jillian Michaels (yesterday) and Kendell Hogan (today).

I managed to make it through - sort of - the "In & Outs," "Bicycle" and "Seated Crunchy Frog" before I decided midway through the "Crossed Leg Wide Leg Sit Up" that I should make my tuna salad for work. Nice excuse ... right?

I'm thinking that I might need to make this a challenge, per se. Three days a week of Ab Ripper X for a month or 6 weeks and a reward will be mine. A reward beyond better abs, mind you.

Do you reward yourself for workouts?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heavenly bites

I have a new love. Loves, I should say. I met them both this weekend, and though they couldn't be more opposite, I love them just the same.

First, let me introduce to you a little piece of heaven ... the Kashi TLC Pumpkin Pecan Fruit & Grain Bar.

Kashi says:

Pie lovers will enjoy the sweet blend of pumpkin, real soft fruit and warm pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger - all sprinkled with crunchy pecans. ... And with 4g of Fiber, 4g of Protein and real fruit, they're as nourishing as they are tasty.

I picked up these bad boys during a Target run prompted by a need for vitamins and a healthy snack to munch on while visiting my family in Ohio. I was instantly drawn to them because they said "Pumpkin." Hello, I love pumpkin! The box also bragged that there was no high fructose corn syrup, and I liked that each bar has just 120 calories.

I have to admit that I didn't have the highest of hopes for these bars. I have tried Kashi Chewy Granola Bars and found them to be a bit dry and not as tasty as the high fructose corn syrup ones. The pumpkin bars, on the other hand ... just AWESOME. The pumpkin top was sweet and moist, and the granola part wasn't too dry.

The other love? Laughing Cow Light Mozzarella , Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil.

What Laughing Cow says:

Rich and creamy mozzarella infused with real sun-dried tomatoes and a savory hint of basil makes a mouthwatering combination. With only 35 calories, this light cheese adds a little Mediterranean pizzazz to your daily snacking.

I had heard from Hungry Girl that these were going to be hitting the shelves this summer, and I was excited to find them at Meijer ... with a $1 off coupon.

I wasted no time in trying the wedges, spreading one on a whole-wheat tortilla and topping it with leftover rotisserie chicken breast and chopped raw veggies (zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes and red onion). Eaten as a wrap, I definitely found it to be creamy and rich with sun-dried tomato flavor. It was a definite winner as far as lunch goes!

Successful long run ... check

Pre-workout fuel: Arnold sandwich thin with a smear of peanut butter, sliced banana and a dash of cinnamon
Workout (Sunday, July 4): Ran 12.16 miles in 2 hours and 36 seconds; average pace, 9:55.

I stepped onto the Shaker Trail path at Miami Whitewater Forest with a plan. A plan for a successful long run so that I wouldn't hit a wall at mile 9 and didn't want to die at mile 10. I would start out slow, much slower than I like, and run slow for the first half of the run. At the half-way point, I would take a Gu and see where my legs would take me. That's it. And you know what? It worked.

The Shaker Trace Trail at Miami Whitewater Forest, a park west of Cincinnati and about 20 minutes from my grandma's house, has an outer loop and inner loop. The inner loop is about 1.2 miles and the outer is about 7.8. The trail, which features multiple drinking fountains (including one for dogs!) and a couple honey buckets, is paved and winds through prairies, wetlands, creekbeds and farmland.

The scenery is just beautiful, and the early miles seemed to just tick away. I made sure to not go faster than a 10 minute/mile pace but tried to not go slower than 10:30. It seemed to be a lot of work, and I was slightly embarrassed as other runners seemed to zip by me. I reminded myself that there is no shame in a 10:30 mile and that it would pay off in the end.

I was feeling really good at the half-way point (6 miles) when I stopped to take my Lemon Sublime Gu. The Gu was a departure from previous long runs when I was eating half a Larabar mid-way through. Though the Larabar provided enough sustenance, it didn't replenish the electrolytes that I was losing in the heat. I gobbled it up, took a sip or two of water and decided to turn around rather than complete the loop.*

*I'm always afraid that I'll just cut a run short if I get too close to home or to my vehicle.

This was the point where I started to kick it up. I allowed myself to run between 9:30 and 10:00 but tried not to focus on good ol' Miles Davis the way I had in the first half. I made a mental note at mile 9 that I was feeling great and at mile 10 when I still had energy. There were a few uphills toward the end, and I made an effort to surge ahead as to not let them beat me.

I was able to keep an eye on distance sans Garmin as the trail was clearly marked, and I kicked it into high gear for the last half mile ... and then some. I believe mile 12 came in at 9:20 if that's any indication.

I walked back to my car (OK, the bathroom) - glowing with sweat and pride at a long run done well.