Friday, June 8, 2012

Food Friday: Feeling nimble (+ giveaway)

I have a crush.

Healthy Strides

An orange crush.

Would you like me to introduce you to her? And yes, it is a her.

Yogurt Orange Swirl nimble bar

Meet the Yogurt Orange Swirl nimble Bar. It's 120 calories of cute, delicious nutrition.

A bit about her and her friend, the Peanut Butter nimble bar {via their website}:
The nimble bar is an all-in-one 40-30-30 energy, beauty and nutrition bar that keeps you looking and feeling your best in one simple step. Based on the same 40-30-30 nutrition principle as Balance Bar, nimble is made with Truvia® brand sweetener and is the first bar to combine essential ingredients like FloraGLO® Lutein and Beta-Carotene for your skin with 7 critical nutrients for your body, including Protein, Fiber, and Calcium – all for 120 calories.
The folks at Balance Bar, the makers of the nimble Bar, offered me the chance to try these for review after I had participated in a Twitter contest. I've been a fan of Balance Bars so I quickly said yes.

And I'm glad I did.

My biggest complaint with nutrition bars is the calorie count. Clif bars easily clock in at 250 calories and bars marketed to women, such as Luna, routinely come close to 200 calories. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, but I am eating these as a snack or pre-run fuel - not as a substantial part of a meal. If I am going to spend 250 calories somewhere, I want to make it worth it.

And the bars that have fewer calories are often less than nutritional. It's not unheard of to see corn syrup - even the high fructose kind - in a product or crazy artificial sweeteners. The nimble Bar is made with Truvia, a stevia-based product that doesn't give me pause.

As far as taste, the Yogurt Orange Swirl reminds me of a creamsicle and I was a fan from first bite. I'm not as big of a fan of the peanut butter. The first time I ate it, I was a bit thrown off by the texture. It's not off-putting but it lacks a coating or crunch that I've come to expect - it was almost like a fudge. The taste was good but not great. And given I like the orange so much, I've yet to eat more than two.

I love to eat them before a run or when I'm rushing from work to teach BODYPUMP. It's just what I need to get me through a workout without dragging me down.

But you don't have to take my word for it. The folks at Balance Bar have a pretty awesome package for one of you gals.

Balance Bar teamed up with lifestyle expert Laurel House, a.k.a. “Quickie Chick,” for a very special giveaway. The winner will receive:
  • Twelve bars of nimble in two scrumptious flavors - Peanut Butter and Yogurt Orange Swir
  • An autographed copy of Laurel’s just-published book, “Quickie Chick’s Cheat Sheet to Life, Love, Food, Fitness, Fashion and Finance on a Less Than Fabulous Budget”
    A limited-edition retro-50s-style wildflower wristlet by glittersweet® (By the way, I got one, too, and it is totes cute!)
  • Two Bloom Black Ties - a hair tie that is also stylish jewelry. Wear it in your hair or wear it on your wrist. Either way it’s “The Elastic All Dressed Up!”
To enter this contest, leave a comment telling me about what's your #QuickieTip for staying healthy.

Giveaway runs from June 8 to June 13, ending at midnight EST.   Entries after that will be considered null. The winner will be chosen via and will be announced Thursday, June 14. Winner is responsible for contacting me hlthystrides at gmail dot com within 72 hours, or a new winner will be chosen. Open to U.S. residents only.

Note: I've had to disable anonymous comments because of spam. I apologize if this prohibits some of you from entering but I had to do it for your (and my) cyber safety.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Summer lovin'

Oh, summer. How I love thee. 

Let me count the ways.

1. My teacher husband is home. Having Mark free in the morning means I can do things like run by myself. I was going to try to sneak away but Mr. Miles woke up and then so did the dog and Mark. But I was determined. I put on my shorts, laced up my Nikes and declared I was leaving. I went just over 4 miles through the business area between my house and downtown, and it was so fantastic - the change of scenery. Plus, I think it's super fun to look at myself run in store windows. Call me a narcissist or call me a run curious about her form - I don't care.

2. My getting ready becomes a priority. I came home from my run, made breakfast and then went up to shower - all without turning on Elmo. I was feeling so liberated that I actually drew a bath and read about Peter Sagal's Philadelphia Marathon experience in the latest edition of Runner's World.

Ladies, please take note: My husband is awesome. While he was baby wrangling, he managed to make a pot of coffee and delivered a fresh cup to me while I was taking said bath.

3. Lunch dates and errand running. Mark is a busy body; he can't just sit around all day and play video games. Today, he'll take the dog to the groomer, get his own hair cut and return Miles' first pair of shoes (because we can't seem to get his dang foot in them).

Why, oh why, does Miles need shoes? Well, he learned a new trick this weekend.

I am not sure what kind of Mom Karma I racked up to get his first steps on video but dang it if I did.

Look out, summer, Miles is coming for you!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Taking a holiday

I bragged. The universe laughed.

After sharing with you our new bed time routine and excitedly saying that Miles was sleeping later, I was woken up by a distinct conversation.

 "Dog, og, dog, gog," Miles repeated from the confines of his crib at the pre-dawn hour of 5 a.m.

Five. In. The. A.M.

I laid in bed for a few minutes hoping that he would talk himself back to sleep but the longer I waited, the more he talked and I realized that we were going to be up. All of us. I wiped the sleep from eyes, staggered from the bed and scooped up my smiling son. We trotted downstairs for a bottle and coffee as I searched to see the upside in all of this.

This ungodly hour that I hadn't seen in some time. And I found it, of all places, in the blogosphere.

Multitasking on the Kindle as I fed Miles, I saw Another Mother Runner's post that today is National Running Day. National Running Day. Like, my favorite holiday. Except the ones where people bestow gifts upon me.

While I could have easily cursed the universe for setting me up for a bad run (read: I was effing tired), I embraced the hour. Getting up early meant that I could leave with the boys earlier and maybe log a decent, distance-wise, run. I wouldn't have to rush. I could soak in the miles.

And I did.

We left the house at 6:30 a.m. and ran through the early-morning fog, marveling that we could see our breath on this June morning We wound through the park and then again, waving to walkers, cyclists and runners alike, as we moved at a comfortable clip. I had worried that I would feel tired from getting up early+BODYPUMP last night but it almost felt effortless for the 5.27 miles. Like me and this run were meant to be.

Now, I have to admit that part of this fantastic attitude was not some "Let's go get 'em, National Running Day" mantra but, in large part, due to my hope that Miles would nap on the run and I could come home to shower in peace. Anyone want to guess how that turned out?

Alas, sometimes you don't get what you want but get what you need.

How are you celebrating National Running Day?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Good night, sweetheart, good night

4:45 a.m.

The house was quiet. The sky was dark. My bed was warm. Everything about this morning screamed, "Sleep. And then sleep some more."

There was a part of me, though, that was pulling my body from underneath the quilt toward the dresser where I had laid out my running clothes. I had set the intention the night before to run a few early miles before my guys woke up and tried to set myself up for success. The three wakings by my lovely son made my legs heavy and my body tired. I decided to listen to the morning: I was sleeping.

But that's not the point of this story. No, the point of this story is that I could actually leave my bed at 4:45 a.m. to run with no worries. "Why?" you ask.

Well, my friends, Mr. Miles has officially moved back to his crib. His cute little behind has not been in our bed since the infamous night two weeks ago when he peed on me after punching me in the face for an hour.

Mark and I had always said that we would move away from the family bed when it was time for us and not what other people said. I think we secretly hoped that he would just start sleeping through the night and we would never have to go through sleep training but ... yeah, babies are fickle creatures.

After we managed that first night in the crib, Mark and I decided that we would hunker down, stay strong and make Miles sleep in his room - relying heavily on our bed time routine to set the stage for mid-night practices.

Between 6:30 and 7 p.m., depending on that day's nap schedule, Mark will change Miles' diaper and get him into jammies while I make a 6-ounce bottle. When Miles is ready, I grab him, the bottle and a paci and head upstairs to his room. We sit in the Ikea Poang chair (a million times better than a damn glider), and Miles takes his bottle. When he's finished, in a very ninja-like fashion, I replace the bottle with the paci. We sit for a bit and cuddle before I put him in the crib.

I used to wait until he was 137 percent asleep before putting him down but now I don't care. Last night, he was out. Other nights, he might fuss or say "dog, gog, dog, og" to soothe himself. Unless he screams for 10 minutes (or, what seems like 10 minutes), I let him be.

Until he wakes up, that is. Miles still gets up about once a night, anywhere between 12:30 and 3:30. I hear him first (always, always) and head to the bathroom. I do stuff, wash my hands and make the bottle. I take that bad boy into Miles' room, where I quickly scoop him up, grope for the paci and head back to the Poang chair. He has a bottle, I try to stay restfully awake. When he's done, he gets the paci, a few cuddles and then heads back to bed.

It's at this point when we started this process that I feared Miles would show his fiery personality and scream for ages. I was going to regale you with stories of toughing it out and ear plugs. But I can't. The transition has been remarkably smooth, and there have been just a few occasions where I kick Mark out of bed to get Miles back to sleep. In fact, the only times we (read: Mark) have been tempted to break our rule is the random 4:15 wakeup call.

But I resist that cute face, opting to try a second bottle - which has yet to fail me. Miles goes back to sleep until the blissful hour of 6 or 6:30.

And I say blissful because it is. When we were doing the whole co-sleeping thing, Miles was up by 6 and more likely by 5:45. Now that he is in his own space, he sleeps better. There are fewer middle of the night wakings; it takes less time to get him back to sleep after a bottle; and he sleeps later.

Mark and I are sleeping better, too, making us a much happier family. A happier family because we did what was right for us when it was right for us.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Grate expectations

People like to tell you that food is not a reward for hard work. I beg to differ.

After spending countless hours (or the sum total of two weekends) getting our yard in shape, Mark and I decided that a celebration was in order. A celebration of the grill out variety.

As luck would have it, I had been selected to host a McCormick Grill Mates party via Crowdtap so I had some help.

The company sent me McCormic Grill Mates Molasses Bacon and Montreal Steak seasonings, Brown Sugar Bourbon BBQ Sauce, Spiced Brandy & Herb Marinade (we didn't use this) and Slow and Low Memphis Pit BBQ Rub. I had never used any of the products but I have to say that I was impressed that the barbecue sauce didn't have high fructose corn syrup. Miles eats off my plate, and I hate giving him ingredients like that.

I used the sauce to make barbecue chicken legs. Of course, that wasn't all. I opted to do a tasting menu of sorts - half-slab ribs (BBQ rub), sliders (Montreal Steak Seasoning) and the BBQ chicken.

I had made it a goal to keep things simple for this party but somehow that didn't work.

We had the sampling of meats, Memphis-style Coleslaw, sweet potato salad (made with Molasses Bacon seasoning instead of the other spices), deviled eggs, a slew of chips and brownies.

Oh, and there was pound cake. Grilled pound cake with berries. As much as I loved everything else, this dish was, hands down, my favorite.

OK, maybe it was that.

How was your weekend?