Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bummed out

The lake.

Everyone is at the damn lake. My friend Heather and her family, my runner co-worker and his boat and seemingly anyone and everyone who takes BODYPUMP at my gym. 

As for me? I have no idea where the lake is. There's only, oh, 5 bajillion lakes with a 2-hour drive from Fort Wayne and everyone goes to the one. It seems the closest I'll be getting to a body of water is the turtle sandbox-turned-kiddie pool in the backyard. (Thanks for the idea, Jess!)

Life is a beach and then you die. Truly.

But my less-than-waterfront vacation arrangements doesn't mean that I won't be put in the dreaded situation of wearing a bathing suit in front of people. There are 12 people alone who could see me in all my tankini glory as I  tramp out to the turtle with Miles. Yeah, our neighbors have eight kids.

And while I could try to find some shorts or simply leave my summer clothes, especially as Miles isn't up for sharing his digs, to stay covered and confident, it's too damn hot to let a little insecurity get the best of me. 

I've searched high and lo (and left and right) to come up with beach babe tips, and I now present to you the ultimate (or a mediocre one at least) guide to beach bum confidence.

You can't look and feel good if you don't take care of yourself. I'm not talking just eating right and exercising - I'm talking about skincare. Slather on the SPF and get a cute hat. Protecting your skin will keep you from that dreaded blistery red complexion I know all too well.

Check your insecurities at the parking lot. The extra crunch or tricep dip you were hoping to do last night isn't going to help you now. Accept that you have the body you have for better or worse, and you should love it. No one - absolutely no one - has a perfect body and those who might come close aren't likely to be on your beach. Those walking the sand are more likely to be the 75-year-old man in a banana hammock than Gisele in all her airbrushed glory, and Mr. Hairy Back doesn't care if you have cellulite.

Find confidence in something other than a flat stomach ... unless, of course, you have one. Buy yourself a new bathing suit or beach accessory for your trip. I'm willing to bet you'll feel a bit glam in a big pair of sunglasses and bedazzled sandals.

Wear a suit that fits and flatters. I've been dying to wear a bikini my entire life, and I thought that once I was a healthy weight that I would be able to. There's no stopping me, I guess, but I don't feel comfortable in the suits. Instead, I opt for a tankini or even the dreaded one-piece. In fact, on a recent shopping trip,  I was surprised to find that I actually liked a one-piece better. The suit didn't create any unflattering lines and there was padding in the cups. Just a shame it wasn't in my size.

Don't just lie there. Sure you just got a cute beach towel, a new book on the Kindle and you are dying to improve that runner's tan but you'll feel much better about yourself if you move around. We might not be able to run with a stroller on the beach ala Running Chronicles but try some volleyball, Frisbee or simply racing a friend to the water.

The same goes for eating. Load up your beach tote with healthy snack and beverage options - nimble bars, water, True Citrus, almonds, fresh fruit.

Don't take yourself too seriously. The beach is all about relaxing and having fun. Do it.

What are your tips for being a beach babe?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Top it off: Vita review (+giveaway)

I was in a Weight Watchers meeting the first time I heard about them .

Them, the magic treat that promised to keep on my plan and within my points. Them, a 1-point wonder full of chocolate. Them, tasty enough to be a treat but healthy enough to call a pre-run breakfast.

Them being the VitaTop.

About VitaTops:
VitaTop muffin tops have all of the healthy benefits of our delicious VitaMuffin – now even more convenient to carry and eat on-the-run. The VitaTop, a "one-hand" satisfying snack food with the portability of a bar, is easy to eat anywhere, anytime. At your desk or on the road, these handy muffin tops fit conveniently into a purse, briefcase, work out bag, backpack and lunchbox.
During my Weight Watchers' days, I would finish lunch (sandwich thin or taco soup, anyone?) and pop the VitaTop in the microwave for 30 seconds and refresh my coffee. I would sit at my desk and for 5 minutes, I would slowly enjoy the VitaTop and my coffee as if I was eating a sundae. Not in a "let me pretend this banana puree is ice cream" way but it in a "ohmygod I love chocolate" way. I was able to do it all without the guilt.

I have since left Weight Watchers but my VitaTop love remains. So much so that I found myself "virtually" stocking up on my favorite flavors - Chocolate Mint, Fudgy PB Chip and Apple Crumb. When my cart hit $100, I thought I'd reach out to VitaTop and see if I could share the love.

The company was generous enough to send me a sampler pack. It included
  • Deep & Velvety VitaBrownies
  • Banana Nut VitaTops 
  • Triple Chocolate Chunk VitaTops
  • Deep Chocolate VitaTops
  • Fudgy Peanut Butter Chip VitaTops
  • Golden Corn VitaTops
  • CranBran VitaTops
  • Apple Crumb VitaTops 
  • Banana Nut VitaTops
In the couple weeks since I received the samples, I've enjoyed them as an evening snack, an afternoon treat and slathered in peanut butter before a run.

I have to (try to) limit myself to one a day even though there's no reason to. The VitaTop won't break the calorie bank (100 calories per top) and has enough protein (5 grams) and fiber (9 grams) to take it out of true dessert range.

Apple Crumb VitaTop with cooked apples and stevia-sweetened yogurt
Dessert for breakfast? Try an Apple Crumb VitaTop with cooked apples and stevia-sweetened yogurt
I honestly don't think there's a flavor I don't like but I am partial to the brownies and Apple Crumb. Seriously, the apple can be for breakfast or add a drizzle of honey and whipped topping for some strudel-like action. As for the savory, corn muffin variety is great with taco soup or chili and is far lower in calories than traditional corn bread.

If you are feeling incredibly sassy, you could also cut one in half and cook it French toast style. It would work with the corn muffin, too. With an egg and salsa on top. Just saying.

And you can try it. On me.

The folks at Vitalicious are giving me a Super Sampler pack to give away. In it, you'll find:
  • 4 Deep & Velvety VitaBrownies
  • 2 Chocolate Mint VitaTops
  • 2 Banana Nut VitaTops
  • 2 Triple Chocolate Chunk VitaTops
  • 2 Deep Chocolate VitaTops
  • 2 Fudgy Peanut Butter Chip VitaTops
  • 2 Golden Corn VitaTops
  • 2 CranBran VitaTops
  • 2 Apple Crumb VitaTops
  • 2 Banana Choco Chip VitaTops
  • 6 Fudgy Chocolate mini VitaCakes 
To enter, leave a comment telling me which Vitalicious product you would most like to try.

Fine print: This giveaway is open to residents of the United States. It begins on 6/29/12 and ends on 7/6/12; the winner will be announced on 7/8/12. One entry per person. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Munchkin Munchies: Getting sneaky

My big mouth got me into trouble once this week but did I learn? Nope. No, I didn't.

Last week, I bragged that Mr. Miles was so good about eating his fruits and veggies. This week, bring on the carbs!


For breakfast, Miles had another carrot-zucchini muffin, a scrambled egg and kiwi.

Gone first? The muffin. Then the egg. And the kiwi? Well, it went to the dog.


Miles had an early lunch (cheese, corn and carrots and whole grain  bread) Wednesday because our daycare provider had something special in store.

They were going to the ball game!

Because all of the kids are part of the summer reading program at the library, they got free admission and a voucher for a hot dog, chips and drink. Mark met them at the game and tried to share the meat and lemonade but Miles was too tired.

He did have a fruit pop - orange, judging by the stains on his outfit - but the rest was for the birds. Or dad.


My little guy came home red faced but in a good mood.

And a good appetite.

He devoured the Quick Paella that I made for dinner - even the peas. I guess he's just been wanting some flavor.

Other ways to get sneak about fruits and vegetables (as I've found so far):
  • Veggie-packed meatloaf muffins
  • Pureed fruit stirred into yogurt
  • Chopped up or grated into pancakes
  • Mashed with nut butter on a sandwich
  • Dipped in organic ketchup (look for no high fructose corn syrup)
  • Add color
  • Switch bites. I sometimes do one bite of cheese, one bite of veg.
  • Banana soft serve
How do you sneak in vegetables to your kids' diets?

Disturbing behavior

I could feel the electricity in the air when I walked into work. The newsroom, it was abuzz.

Abuzz with the news that a local TV anchor had been busted for DUI.

It might not seem like the kind of story to get a group of journalists hyped up. People are busted for DUIs all the time and most of them don't even make the paper. It's just that this woman is a bit more high profile and this was her second arrest for a similar charge - the first time being an arrest to remember. Skittles, rum cake and a hair appointment were all mentioned in the police report.

The report for the latest indiscretion was still full of juicy gossip - popping open a newly purchased bottle of wine as she went through the pharmacy drive through and resisting arrest - but it didn't feel so amusing. She has a problem - a real problem - and her behavior, strangely, didn't feel so foreign.

I might not have ever battled problems with alcohol but I've had I had my own unhealthy behaviors and addictions. And most of them involved drive-throughs, just like the inebriated anchor.

I would leave my summer job at the country club and go through the drive through at Skyline Chili, picking up two - maybe even three - cheese coneys and eat them in the five minutes it took me to drive home. I would leave the containers in my car for up to a week, when I'd put them in the trash can as I pulled it to the curb so that my grandma would never know about my late-night eating.

I would eat part of Mark's meal on the way  home from a drive-through. While he would willing give me some of his potato wedges, I didn't want him to know I'd eaten any.

Anything that came in a cone or cup with a straw was picked up on the way home or during a trip to the grocery. Even if it's a safe thing - like McDonald's 150-calorie ice cream cone - it was consumed in the car, by myself.

When I would need a bigger size, clothes were purchased and quickly ushered into the house. If my grandma saw them in my room and asked what they were, I'd simply say that I had gathered stuff together for charity.

I would refuse seconds and then rush to the kitchen to "clean up." It's amazing how much food you can put in your mouth when you are trying to put leftovers in plastic containers.

Even this week, I found myself exhibiting some of those behaviors. I had intended to get soup to supplement my lunch. Instead, I found myself in line at Taco Bell. I ate my two soft taco supremes - in the car - and stuffed the wrappers in the center console. And, yes, I didn't want Mark to see them. Partly, because Taco Bell is bad ... and partly because he always rags on me for my car being messy.

So maybe I have grown. I have changed. But I will always remember what I tried to hide and be grateful that I found the courage to change.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Say cheese (+ you're a handful)

Lucky No. 13

Wouln't you know it - she's the winner of the handful bra giveaway. So who is she? Well, I believe she just rocked a redemption marathon, earning herself a medal and a shiny new PR.

Bobbi, email me your contact info (hlthystrides at gmail dot com) and I will pass it along to the handul folks. (And please forgive me for stealing your photo. You were looking fierce this weekend!)


I could feel the rumble in my stomach. I could feel the draw to the kitchen. I could feel the drool pooling in my mouth.

I was jonesing. For something but what - well, I wasn't so sure. I just knew that my seemingly well-rounded breakfast of egg whites, yogurt and carrot-zucchini muffin was not cutting it. I guess that's what happens when you take a leisurely 1.5-mile walk on a rest day.

I sauntered to the kitchen but before I could start pillaging the pantry, I noticed something suspicious.

The bananas - well, they were looking ripe. Real ripe. Perfect for me, rejected by most. I considered just slathering one with peanut butter and calling it a morning but I couldn't do it. Nope.

Recipe idea for overripe banana

As I stared at the bananas, I was reminded of a recent breakfast I made for Miles - mashed banana laced with peanut butter and slathered on a piece of bread. It was delicious - or so it seemed as he gobbled it up despite the inclusion of a fruit. If the snack was good enough for an 11-month-old, it was certainly good enough for me.

Right? Umm ... maybe.

I was settled on the idea but wanted to look for a way to make it a little less calorie dense and hopefully a little more satiating. Inspired by one of my fellow BODYPUMP trainees (who also happens to be a blogger), I decided to include cottage cheese. Tara puts cottage cheese in many, many of her recipes - probably because she has stock in a dairy farm. Or, because cottage cheese is a good source of protein. You pick.

What I came up with was delicious and filling, and I think it makes a great snack or light breakfast. It might even make a good meal for a picky toddler. Not that those exist.

Healthy snack idea

Do "The Mash" Thin

1 sandwich thin or two slices of wheat bread
1/2 very ripe banana
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter (or 1 tablespoon PB2 if you have some of that lurking around)
2 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, more or less to taste
Drizzle of honey

Toast the sandwich thin on bagel setting, if your appliance has one. While it's getting nice and golden, use a fork to mash together banana, peanut butter and cottage cheese. Add cinnamon, mixing to combine. Spread on toasted thin and drizzle with honey. Enjoy with cup of coffee and the sound of silence as the baby naps.

Note: If you don't like the texture of cottage cheese, mix together the ingredients in a mini food processor or use a substitute such as ricotta cheese or plain yogurt.

Nutrition: 215 calories, 6 grams fat, 37 grams carbohydrates and 10 grams protein

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Priced to sell

I went running today.

In that outfit. It's quite a one at that, don't you think? (Please ignore the incredible undereye circles - we were up at 11:30, 2:30, 4:30 and 5:30.)

First, I'm wearing short sleeves. It might not seem like such a noteworthy thing but we've battling atrocious temperatures and even worse humidity here lately. Sadly, it's only going to get worse (104 on Thursday). As a consolation prize, I think God gave me today - a perfect running day. It was mid-50s with a cool breeze and the air was lacking the oppressive humidity I've come to know and hate. It was just the day for short sleeves.

2. I'm wearing my black Asics bra underneath my white RnR NOLA shirt. Classy. Don't forget - today's the last day to enter my handful bra giveaway.

3. I'm wearing a new (to me) Nike skirt. I'm guessing it was intended to be a tennis skirt but I think it will do just fine as a running skirt. And if it doesn't, I could honestly care less - I picked it up for a $1.75 at Salvation Army. That's one dollar plus three quarters or seven quarters - an amount you could probably scrounge up in your couch cushions.

I was at the thrift store picking up brick-a-brack for Miles' first birthday party and decided to make the obligatory stroll through children's wear. You'd be surprised how much new with tags and brand name kids' stuff you can find (Gymboree, Children's Place, Garanimals). Hanging from a girls' rack was the skirt. I stopped, looked, held it up and decided it wasn't for a girl. I checked the seams and it appeared as if it had been barely worn. Score one for me!

Here are some other places for great discount workout gear:

Marshall's/TJ Maxx. I regularly find Nike Tempo shorts for $15 and capris for $20. My outfit for the Woman's Day shoot (capris plus Under Armour turtleneck) came from there, as did my sassy BODYPUMP outfit. Not all of it is name-name brand but it's worth a look. I haven't bought anything from here - yet - but I regularly see great stuff for great prices. They have most major running brands (Nike, New Balance, Brooks) and most of it is at least 40 percent off. What's great, too, is they have plus sizes.

Running Warehouse. A lot of their stuff is discounted and it's even better when it's on liquidation. If Skinny Runner still has the code available, you get 10 percent off. (Try skinnyd.)

And don't forget the clearance racks. I've found major deals at the local running shop from $7 Mizuno tops to $11 Adidas shorts.

If you follow me on twitter, I posted that Dick's Sporting Goods has tempo shorts BOGO 50 percent off and all clearance an additional 25 percent off. Mark found a pair of Nike Tempo shorts for $12, which he delivered to my office along with a matching top and an iced latte.

Yes, ladies, I do believe I have the best husband in the world (either that or he's making up for no longer doing my laundry).

Where do you look for workout gear deals?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Marathon Monday: Week 2

I am training for the Columbus Marathon and following the "Train Like A Mother" finish it plan. These posts document my training. Word of warning: This post bares all.

The week, in numbers
Monday: BODYPUMP (at home)
Tuesday: 5 miles, easy
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 4-mile tempo run + BODYPUMP
Friday: 5 miles, easy
Saturday: BODYPUMP
Sunday: 9.97-mile long run (supposed to be 10 but underestimated distance after technical issue)

I had a pretty sweet deal going ... until my big mouth ruined it.

You see, since the beginning of time ... or since we had an in-unit washer and dryer, Mark has done the laundry as part of our "you clean, I cook" arrangement. I'd do a load here and there but my amazing husband has done 75 percent of the laundry for most of our marriage.

The other day, as I was sorting and putting away clothes, I noticed that one of my favorite dresses had been put through the wash. The strapless dress with a sweetheart neck and coral eyelet holds a special place in my heart as it was purchased in New Orleans during my girls/RnR NOLA getaway. It also happens to be hand-wash only.

I bet you can you guess what happened from here. Mark put it in the washer. I complained. He said something like "If you have a problem with how I do laundry, do it yourself."

Way to kick a girl to the basement, Mark.

I know, I know. Woe is me. It's not such a big deal except that I'm out of practice. I forget that I have to do it. And that's why I found myself in the conundrum I was in on Sunday for my long run: run in satin panties or go commando.

Yes, ladies and gents. I was out of clean underwear. More specifically, run-appropriate clean underwear.

I know many people go skivvie-less for a run as many shorts and skirts have built-in briefs but it's just not my thing. I feel naked and I can hear my butt cheeks slap together. Not cute. Not cute at all. The times I have dared to bare have been short runs, too - not the 10 miles I had on deck.

I am committed (or maybe I should be), though, so I put on my running skirt (the only bottom I had clean, to boot), lots of Body Glide and headed out. Despite my anxiety, it ended up being a very typical long run: company for half, Gu at mile 5, cursing when I realized that forgot to restart the MOTOACTV and accidentally flashing oncoming traffic as I tried to wipe sunscreen-laced sweat from my eye.

Wait. Last part not so typical.

Note to self: Buy some underwear, waterproof sunscreen and tops with built-in support so you're not tempted to go in just bra.

Tell me: Do you go commando?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to teach BODYPUMP: Lessons from a first-timer

1. Wake up at the pre-crack of dawn because you have wretched cramping in your lower abdominals. The irrational fear that you could be pregnant prevents you from obsessing about what could go wrong.

2. Get dressed in a ridiculous yet coordinated outfit inspired by a CrossFit coach you met this week: tank, booty shorts, knee socks and fluorescent Nike Frees.

3. Put on your good ju-ju necklace.

4. Leave the house a bit early so you can make sure you're not running late  in the event you get stopped  by a train.

5. Or decide you need a Diet Coke from McDonald's.

6. Make sure that your workout BFF is coming and brings her woot woot. You will feel assured knowing that her enthusiasm will carry you through if you get lost.

7. Limit the class to just your workout BFF and one other person. There's no pressure to perform for two people.

8. Promise yourself that if you mess up that you'll just have fun with it and discover the ability to laugh at yourself.

9. Cut the ab track short. No one wants to do a bajillion twisting mountain climbers.

10. Oh, know the choreography and stuff. Practice makes perfect and let's just say I've been practicing.

I don't recommend sweating so much that you appear to have peed your pants. But if that's the worse thing to come out of my first solo teaching attempt - and I'm pretty sure it was - I'll take it.