Saturday, January 1, 2011

Healthy, happy New Year

Plans. Oh, boy, did I have them. Lemon cheesecake bars, my mom’s cheese ball, spinach-artichoke dip. There were about a million and one things I thought about bringing to the New Year’s Eve get-together at my friend’s house. So when I asked him what I could add to the buffet, I was a bit taken aback by his answer.

“Bring stuff you’ll want to eat.”

Well, of course, I’d want to eat lemon cheesecake bars and crackers smeared with cheesy goodness and chips dripping with dip. But that’s not what he meant. He was telling me to bring foods that I would not feel guilty about eating.

Talk about a smack in the face. Here I am fretting about holiday sins and yet I’m planning to bring the temptations. Why would I want to sabotage me?

I knew I didn’t want to set myself up for bad decisions, and I quickly made a game plan to switch up my offerings. Veggies with hummus, fruit with “Healthified” Fluffy Orange Fruit Dip and baked potato skins (I had to have something for the boys).

Knowing that even with my healthy additions that there’d still be quite the spread, I also went in with a game plan. A small dinner of homemade French onion soup and half a grilled cheese, heavy on the tomato. Dinner would be a snack, party snacks would be a dinner.

And a dinner they were, as I was more than right when predicting my friend’s offerings.

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We had deviled eggs (my fave!), pulled pork, stuffed mushrooms, an assortment of cheeses, carrot cake cookies (the bomb!), petit fours and the nastiest pickles on the planet, Horesradish Slices.

I started off slow, making sure to get a bite of everything I wanted as not to feel deprived.

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And then it was game on. Literally.


We busted out the Scrabble board, watching Univision in the background (a five-year tradition now) and put on our competitive faces. I was out to win.

Too bad my crapload of letters got in the way.

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I always had the dern “V”!

Thankfully, or not so thankfully depending on how you like to look at things, the boys were drinking and I was not as DD. Booze makes it very difficult to play.

Just ask Mark.


So, yeah. I won two games – the last by a margin of 140 points. And because I was so into beating the boys, I only went back once twice for a deviled egg and cheese on a cracker.

What did you do for New Year’s?

New year adventures

Races. Improved paces. Increased fitness. New adventures. New challenges.

There are lots of goals to be had for 2011.

They just aren’t mine.

Are you surprised? It's OK. You are as surprised by those words as I am though I've had a bit of time for them to sink in. Before you stop reading, rest assured there are things - even some healthy things - planned for 2011. Eleven things, actually. (Eleven in '11 - I'm so clever!)

The Healthy Strides 2011 countdown

11. Make marshmallows - homemade ones, not marshmallows over a fire like Mark initially thought.

10. Buy a house.

9. Live by an 80/20 plan. Eat 80 percent good and 20 percent not-so-bad.

8. Challenge myself to think of something positive every time I think something mean or judgmental.

7. Limit my sugar intake. The twice daily treats have seem to be a thorn in my healthy eating. I want to get the treat down to one a day, replacing the other with yogurt, applesauce or fruit.

6. Visit my family in Ohio more often, hopefully at least four times.

5. Limit my tears to Hallmark commercials and romantic comedies.

4. Try new things in terms of exercise. Aqua Zumba anyone?

3. Become a tourist in my city/region. I dream about vacations ... New Orleans, Savannah, San Diego. And though those are fabulous places to go, there are things right in my backyard that have drawn my attention. The artisan village that's an hour's drive, the Botanical Conservatory, the state park where we could hike with Denali - I want to go to those places.

2. Turn 30 gracefully ... or as gracefully as I can manage.

1. Stay tuned ...

Till tomorrow, jelly beans. I wish you all a wonderful, healthy 2011.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday love

Pre-workout eats: Cinnamon Chex-Banana Nut Cheerios mix with 1% milk and banana

Workout: ~60 minutes All-Levels Yoga (one class last night, one at 9 a.m. today)

I had nothing but love as I walked out of yoga last night. I had an enjoyable hour in the studio, the instructor was fantastic and there were a few challenging poses but nothing that made me want to leave. All in all, it was a fantastic class.

Except for that time I went toot-toot and, with three other students, it was obvious it was me.

But let's get back to the class. All Levels Yoga was pretty close to the class I thought it would be. We started with a gentle warm-up and moved into sun salutations, warriors, back work, ab work (boo!) and hip openers. There was a gentle flow as we moved through the poses - we were working but not sweating. There were poses for the more advanced (crow) and modifications for the beginners (cobra instead of up dog).

My favorite part of the class, though, was the instructor. I'm not sure what it was about her but I was enamored. She was young, cute and had a soothing (but not overly so) voice. When she came around to adjust down dogs, she put her hands on your back and with firm but gentle pressure moved them down to the sacrum. The placing of the eye pillow had a similar motion. It was fantastic.

And now that I've show love (maybe too much) for last night's yoga, here's some Friday love!

pineappleFood. The weeks leading up to and including Christmas were rough. Cookies, Cookie Dough Dip, Peppermint Bark Gelato, Hot Fudge Pudding Cake, Cinnamon Rolls … Lord. Have. Mercy. It was like sugar overload. Anxious to get back to my normal ways, I’ve been trying to cut back on the sugar. It hasn’t been easy, especially with treats scattering the office and cookies still in the freezer. Determined to make an improvement, though, I decided to start my efforts where I could best control things: at home. I allowed Mark to have the rest of “my” ice cream and my nightly treat for the past two days has been fresh pineapple with coconut cream. So good. All I did was chunk up a fresh pineapple, which have been $1 lately at Kroger, and add a drop or two of coconut extract to some light Cool Whip. It’s sweet but guilt-free. Love. It.

Fitness. This love isn’t about what I’ve been doing. Oh, no. It’s been about what I’ve been missing. When I embarked on my 10-day yoga challenge, I knew that there were parts of my fitness routine that would have to take a back seat. I would give up a day of running per week and I’d hold off on the strength training. Strength training seemed like a good place to start. I figured with all the downward-facing dogs and chaturangas that bicep curls and overhead presses wouldn’t be necessary. And maybe they aren’t … but I miss them. I picked up a new-to-me Jackie Warner DVD at the library and look forward to testing it out sometime next week.

Life. I’ll be honest. After removing my iPod from my workout necessities and opting to listen to audio books in the car (current selection “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"), I’ve been completely out of it in terms of music. I have no idea who’s hot and who’s not, no inkling as to what artist I should be listening to. Now that my Pandora station is off Christmas music, I was able to find something new. Or new to me. “Almost Lover” from A Fine Frenzy.

Give it up for a hot redhead!

What are you fine folks up to this weekend? Exciting plans for the New Year?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Three Things Thursday

Pre-workout eats: Slice of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and sliced banana
Workout: Ran 3.6 miles; average pace, 8:58

1. The last run of December .... the last run of 2010 ... it just had to be an eventful one. Before we even got started, I stepped in dog poo. Thanks, Denali. Thanks, cloudy weather. What would have been 15 minutes into the run, there was an earthquake in Indiana. So what if I didn't feel it (though others I work with did)? There was still an earthquake. I took a corner too fast and came thisclose to falling. Then, just near the end, a dog snapped the cable to his tie-out and came bounding toward Denali, Mark and I. I ended up getting wrapped up by Denali's leash as the two tried to sniff each other out. Super fun.

2. But even though I'm mildly whining about the run, it was a decent one at least. The weather took a 180 from yesterday. No 18-degree, bitter-cold air to breathe in; it was 37 degrees! It was also one of my faster runs in a few weeks, which was nice. It's good to know that I can still run sub-9:00 if I work for it.

3. We still kept the distance a bit light as day 4 of yoga is tonight. It's an all-levels yoga class, and it has a limited description on the studio's website. I think it will be a little more like what I'm used to from practicing at home so I'm feeling good about tonight. No dizzy girls here!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dizzy up the girl

Day 3 of yoga didn't happen. At least not the way it was supposed to happen.

I was signed up for a lunch-time Kriya class. The studio description said the class would include "asanas," physical postures of relaxation; "bandahs," muscular locks; and "mudras," psycho-physical gestures, all of which bring about greater health, peace and the awakening of the principal energy channels, “the nadis,” and centers, the "chakras."

Yeah, I don't know what that means either. I have no idea what the class was about or what the goal was ... because I left after 15 minutes. Shocker, I know.

But here's the real shockers:

No. 1: The instructor arrived a few minutes shy of starting time wearing all black - from his lululemon top (bastard) to his sweats to his dern fanny pack. He was probably in his mid-50s (at least) and a short little bald fella. He sort of reminded me of Mark's uncle.

No. 2: The words that were coming out of the instructor's mouth. This guy is a real yogi, and he was throwing out yoga term after yoga term as if he was chatting about the weather with some fella he bumped into at the gym.

No. 3: I am easily embarrassed/shy in front of other people. When we were asked to chant, I closed up like a little ball. Not only because I didn't know how to pronounce the verses but I have the worst voice in history. Seriously, ask Mark. He can recount a dreadful night of karaoke on my 26th birthday. Love rock 'n' roll? Not after my performance. Anyway, chanting is not for me.

No. 4: It was 32 degrees outside when I walked into class. The instructor, though, said the optimum temperature for yoga practice is 98.6 and he proceeded to increase the heat in the room. Standing in front of a window, with sunshine pouring through, and a heat vent nearby, I felt like I was in hell. Literally.

No. 5: 15 minutes into class, we had not done one pose. The only thing we had been asked to do - besides listen, chant and breathe - was stand up in mountain.

It was at this point where things feel apart. It wasn't that I was disappointed in the class. I mean, I was but that wasn't the problem. I was standing there, breathing, with heat enveloping me, when I felt an overwhelming urge to vomit. The feeling seemed to radiate to the point where I felt like I was going to pass out. I wish I could describe that feeling but you know it when you have it.

I took a moment, kneeling down, but didn't feel relief. I was going to have to leave. I put away my props, rolled up my mat and apologized to my instructor. I walked into the reception area, grabbed my shoes and threw on my hoodie. The receptionist asked if I was OK and offered me water or a back way to the bathroom. Negative on all accounts. I just needed to get outside.

The cool winter air never felt so good as it did walking to my car. The color of my cheeks began to lighten, my legs felt stronger and the pangs of disappointment had yet to swallow me on the one-block jaunt.

There will be another day, another class, though. Tomorrow. All-levels yoga. It will be better.

Short changed

Pre-workout eats: Whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and sliced banana
Workout: Ran 3.12 miles; average pace, 9:15.

I hadn't broke a sweat. Not in three days. It was bugging me. I needed to feel my heart beat through my chest, to feel my breath become labored, to feel like I was working.

I needed to run.

Mark and I set out to do 4 miles this morning (my yoga class is over lunch) in a brisk 18 degrees. It took no time to feel the air in my lungs, my body working. It felt good.

For the first mile.

But as I paused at the 1.5 mile mark to catch my breath, Mark suggested we cut the run short - from 4 miles to 2.5 - as he was having trouble breathing as well. I compromised at 3, suggesting another loop of the park. As we set off again, though, the cold air burned in my chest and I had a feeling Mark was onto something. It was time to head home.

The run didn't get any easier from there, at least physically. Mentally, I knew we were in the homestretch. I did try to pick it up - as if to compensate for the lack of distance - but dodgy sidewalks didn't make it easy on me. So as I passed our house at 2.68 miles, I decided to run around the block for a 5K.

I came back home to an exuberant Denali and a pull-up lovin' Mark. I hooked up the Garmin and wiped my brow. I peeled off the layers and felt the wet of perspiration. I took a deep breath and I realized that I might not have ran 4 miles but I did do what I set out to do.

What goal did you meet today?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hold on

Pre-workout eats: Strawberry-banana oatmeal
Workout: ~60 minutes Yin Yoga

"Hold on/ Hold on to yourself/ For this is gonna hurt like hell/ Hold on/ Hold onto yourself/ You know that only time will tell"

Ordinarily, I would have been intimidated. It was just me and one other student in the Yin Yoga class. A student who, at least it seemed to me, wasn’t new to the studio or the Yin Yoga class. But I wasn’t. The class design just didn’t allow for it. It was me, and my practice. Her, and her practice.

Yin Yoga is a practice designed to “gently lengthen and strengthen connective tissue by exercising with Yin poses that apply a slow, steady load to the vital tissues (that are connected to the joints).” We were told before beginning that we would be holding poses for 5 minutes, each designed to open the hips.

Confession: I might not have been intimidated by being with just one other student, who may or may not judge me, but I was intimidated that I might be asked to hold downward-facing dog or chaturanga for 5 minutes.

baby pose lying twist - crop 1

lying tree oseyoga sit

We began on our left side, working our way through baby pose, lying twist, supine tree and a shoulder opener. The poses were repeated on our right side, and we finished with a seated forward fold.

It seemed like we were in the poses forever and yet, when the instructor rang the bell to release, it felt just like 10 seconds. Things hurt, in a good sort of way, and I could feel the tension again in my hips. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on the discomfort, hoping that I really could breathe into the connective tissues and help to release them.

When I stood up at the end of class, which blew by, I fully expected a “snap, crackle and pop” as I walked but nothing. Well, nothing more than an awareness that I had spent some serious time with my hips – something I sorely needed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Taking it slow

Pre-workout eats: Peanut Butter-Banana Oatmeal Muffin (make these!) and a banana
Workout: Slow Flow yoga class, ~60 minutes.

I was really hoping not to sweat.

I wasn't hoping to display great balance or flexibility or strength in poses. I wasn't hoping that I would make it 60 minutes without embarrassing myself. I wasn't hoping to challenge myself. I just didn't want to sweat.

My first class at the yoga studio downtown with my Groupon was from 9 to 10 a.m. and from there it would be straight to work. Sweat = Make Co-Workers Mad.

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This is Dream Yoga Kim.

I walked into the studio at 8:45 a.m. , feeling a bit late and unsure - I wasn't certain I could actually take the class as I hadn't registered. My anxiety seemed to melt a bit as I was greeted by the owner, who would also teach the class. She had the voice of a yoga teacher and was welcoming me to the studio and the practice. She inquired about the holidays, my history with yoga and then gave me the rundown of the place - all with a warm glow about her. I was happy to learn that there were lockers for purses, blocks and mats available and a bathroom. I can always use the bathroom.

I set up my mat, went to the bathroom (see, I told you) and sat down. My eyes darted around the room, checking out the hip decor (tin roof, calming colors, big windows) and "sizing up" the class. There were some ladies older than myself. I decided they were stay-at-home moms and retirees. There were some gals younger than myself. I decided they were college kids home at break. There was a woman who reminded me of Natalie Portman except prettier. I decided that she made me jealous.

But I soon had to push that side as it was time for class to start. This was Slow Flow, "a slower paced vinyasa practice that allows for alignment principals and breath synchronized movements with deep hip openers. Helps increase strength and flexibility. " We started lying down, connecting to the breath before moving into salutations, which included lunges, warrior poses, chatarungas and downward-facing dogs.

I was surprised throughout the class that I didn't feel lost. The poses were all things that I had see at least once if not many times before. I was even more surprised (and grateful) that I didn't have any corrections from the instructor. Go me!

What did surprise me was just how "tight" I felt. My hips felt like toffee rather than taffy and forward bends were more like "bend your knees and hope your fingers brush the floor." I think these 10 days should help with that and, God willing, maybe even help with the running.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The day after yesterday

Pre-workout eats: Whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and sliced banana

Workout: Ran 4.18 miles; average pace, 9:06.

Merry “Buy Ornaments for 50 Percent Off” Day.

I hope everyone hit up the Christmas goodies at Target and got themselves some grownup ornaments. I know I did. I picked up some coordinating globes with a red and lime-ish green color scheme for next year.


I also managed to exchange the smallest sweater on the planet. I may be a size small most anywhere … just not the juniors department at Kohls.

P1000311 I’m smiling to distract you from how crappy my hair looks. Geez, do I really have to wait two weeks for my scheduled appointment to get it trimmed up?

Thank you, Mama T., for thinking that I can actually fit into this.

And did you all see those boots? Mark picked those out for me, as well as a cute little hat (sort of like this one), a Starbucks gift card and a massage at the spa.

Oh, and this …


So you’ll excuse me now if I leave you all to play. But no worries … I’ve already installed my Garmin software on the new toy – Dexter.

What was your favorite gift this Christmas?