Friday, November 9, 2012

Food Friday: All Greek to me {+ giveaway}

There were two things I missed when I was limiting dairy during marathon training: cheese and ice cream.

Wait. Make that three things. I missed cheese, ice cream and Greek yogurt.

Whether it's topped with berries and nuts or the occasional granola, stirred into oatmeal or a topping pancakes, it's a delicious snack or breakfast. And healthy, too. Greek yogurt has more protein than traditional yogurts, fewer carbohydrates and less sodium.

But of course you already knew that.

There's a dizzying array of Greek yogurt brands - Chobani, Fage and Oikos (my first foray into Greeks) - and more traditional yogurt brands such as Dannon and Yoplait have come out with their own versions. It's a $5 billion business {source}, with each brand trying to create its own niche. Chobani has a loyal following in the blogosphere and Fage has its own group who appreciate its tang.

But Yoplait is targeting someone else. Someone who can't afford to "spend" 150+ calories on the sugary concoctions of other producers. Someone who budgets snacks. Someone who is busy and needs a quick snack on the go.

Yoplait's Greek 100 is 100 calories and just 2 Points Plus if you follow Weight Watchers. It has 10 grams of protein for staying power and 9 grams of sugar (there are artificial sweeteners in this yogurt). And though it has no fat, it still has a thick consistency that Greek yogurt fans enjoy.

I sampled a bit of this yogurt during the summer, and I found it to be good. A tad sweet but good. It's something easy you can throw into your purse .... I mean lunch bag ... for a quick snack at work without having to worry about calories or portions.

And I do mean you. The folks at Yoplait have generously offered to send a case of the new yogurt to five - yes, 5! - readers.

Happy snacking.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on Sunday, Nov. 18. Winners will be selected at random and announced on the blog Monday, Nov. 19. Winners have 72 hours to claim their prize (by emailing hlthystrides at gmail dot com) or new winners will be selected.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What I wore: Winter running

I woke up this morning to discover two things: Barack Obama is still our president and it was 36 degrees outside.

And while I have nothing to say (good or bad) about one of those facts, the other was a pleasant surprise for me. Thirty-six degrees meant that I could go for a run.

While I will run until its 9 degrees out, I decided that there is no running with Miles in the BOB if it is less than 30 degrees or until we get the weather shield for the stroller. He has seemed to be comfortable in the 40-degree range, his skin still warm and no audible complaints, that the new range seemed doable.

Initially, I was uncertain whether I'd run today or tomorrow but after seeing the temperature (and hearing some familiar fussing), I knew it was game on. I threw on some possibly stinky tights that I had in the living room and headed upstairs to finish dressing as Miles and Mark ate breakfast. I opened up my dresser drawer that holds my running tops. And stared. And stared. And stared.

I had no idea what to wear. At all.

I don't seem to have any difficulty dressing for very cold weather or when the mercury hits 55 but when the air is in that in between stage, I feel like a teenager getting dressed for high school. Or what I think a teenager getting dressed feels like - I had to wear a uniform. A long-sleeve shirt plus half-zip might be OK or it could be too hot. Just a long-sleeve shirt isn't enough and it's chafe-city to just wear the half-zip. There's the ever cute long-sleeve + short-sleeve combo but it's hit-or-miss warmth wise.

After what felt like a half-hour, I decided on an outfit - one that seemed to work out quite well for a sunrise, 36-degree run.

I started with a long-sleeve compression shirt (C9 from Target) and topped it with a highly visible race shirt. To keep me warm during the start of the run, I added wool arm warmers (Smart Wool brand, race swag) and a pair of cheap-o gloves. It's questionable whether it's tights weather but I wore mine (Pearl Izumi) and think it was the right choice. I also wore a fleece hat.

The outfit was warm enough at the beginning and I ended up rolling down the warmers after two miles. Had it not been so windy and a bit sunnier, I'm certain the gloves would have come off. Literally, of course.

Miles is a bit easier to dress when it comes to a winter run. I just layer, layer, layer.

This morning, we started out with rocket ship pajamas (Carters, Target). I then put on a long-sleeve shirt, corduroy pants and socks. His new favorite - light-up Spider-Man boots - are also part of his running uniform. They are fleece-lined, giving his feet a bit of warmth (when he doesn't kick them off) and the waterproof outer material shields the wind. Before we head out the door, he gets a coat, gloves and a blanket. I'd love to say he gets a hat but the shark number from Children's Place was left to flounder on the side of the trail earlier this fall, and I learned that hoods are the best bet.

All the preparation in the world, though, couldn't save my run this morning. My legs were lead, the stroller felt like it was moving through quick sand and I couldn't even muster the energy to run 0.12 mile more to hit a nice even 4. But 3.88 is better than none, especially since we looked so good doing it.


What's your go-to winter running outfit.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Healthy attitude

I stepped on the scale this morning, and I was happy to discover that one of my favorite mother runners was right. My little 5-pound present was, at least, in part water weight. I was down three pounds and back below my "panic" number.

The shock of the scale last week was enough to throw me into full "diet" mode (though I hate to use the term). I have been snacking on carrots, savoring sugar-free pudding cups and counting out Garden of Eatin' Sprouted blue corn chips. My egg scrambles feature Southwest Egg Beaters and my toast is not the Ezekiel flax I've grown to love but Healthy Life 35-calorie wheat.

My food diary feels reminiscent of my Weight Watchers days and old feelings of control and willpower are resurfacing. My mood is positive, and I feel "on track."

But as I settle into lose mode post-marathon, the thing I struggle with the most is not passing up copious amounts of Halloween treats but whether my efforts are making me healthier. I find myself questioning the foods that I relied on to help me achieve a healthy lifestyle - if that's what I've done. The ingredients in my light bread are lengthy and hard to pronounce. The sugar-free Jell-O, a low-calorie, portion-controlled treat, features its own long list of hard to pronounce words on the packaging and hydrogenated oil. The best of the bunch is the Egg Beaters, which has actual nutritional value - providing 4 grams of protein and a small amount of some vitamins.

Looking for inspiration and guidance, more and more I've been comparing my meals to those of other healthy living bloggers but some seem to eat a diet that is vegetable and nut butter heavy and carbohydrate and meat light, with the complementary pumpkin ale on the side and calcium "chocolate" disk for dessert. Soy is the bee's knees, for beverages and burgers. Nonetheless, I've whipped up extravagant batches of oatmeal, done Meatless Mondays and tried as many nut butters as my limited access and budget allows.

My perception of the HLB diet, I've learned, isn't conducive to weight loss, though. I can't eat 500-calorie bowls of oatmeal, and I don't have time to put together ginormous salads before heading to work. Furthermore, some of them have been accused of restriction and disordered eating - definitely not healthy things.

To look elsewhere - Twitter, Facebook, friends, websites - one is bombarded with things labeled healthy. There's gluten free products, protein-packed goodies. Dr. Oz touts a raspberry pill, and fitness gurus such as Jillian Michaels have their faces on diet supplements. My trainer for BODYPUMP, a role model for health, is a representative for AdvoCare. Books promote eating plant-based, others meat heavy. Seeds are OK but peanuts aren't.

The more I look, consider, think ... the more I get confused. The more this post rambles, gets rewritten, deleted. There might be a larger consensus on what constitutes unhealthy or bad ways to lose weight but the best way to live is a gray area. One isn't inherently healthier for snacking on almonds over peanuts. Granola topped Greek yogurt isn't better if there's 30 grams of sugar. There isn't necessarily an advantage to drinking a smoothie for breakfast rather than eating an egg white scramble with sliced tomatoes on the side.

Healthy has to be a personal definition. It's something that cannot only be defined by ideals but lifestyle and finances.

As I continue to monitor my weight and habits to avoid the winter bulge, I've decided that I'm not going to get caught up in defining the things I'm doing as healthy or unhealthy. Good or bad. Right or wrong. I'm going to make decisions on how I feel.

What does healthy mean to you?

Moving freely

12:21 p.m. Monday: 3.13-mile "runch" (I said hell no to the 21 degrees that morning, opting for a perfectly brisk and pleasant noon-time outing.)

5:14 a.m. Tuesday: Jillian Michaels' "Ripped in 30," week 3 + part of week 4 (Bonus points for completing it after finding a mouse in the living room.)

9:02 a.m. Tuesday: Exercising my right to vote

The plan is working. I'm doing what I want, when I want and letting things unfold as intended.

Last week, I ran 16 miles - two 5-milers and two 3-milers, taught BODYPUMP and got in a cobbled-together cardio session before and after Miles woke up. There were a few walks in there, and I even managed to burn 2,700 calories (thanks for the info, Bodymedia) on Saturday between BP, a visit to the mall, grocery shopping and evening walk.

I will admit that it all feels a little light, as if I'm not doing enough. It's a point my pal Heather touched on when we were enjoying our girl's day out. I've planned this to give myself flexibility and room to enjoy life but there's a part of me that's not happy to just take it easy. Part of it's fear (of gaining lbs and of losing endurance), part of it's habit. But there's also the facts: I like to run. I like to train. I like to push myself.

Thankfully, I have a little trick up my sleeve. Some early morning workouts combined with runches and a December 10K for motivation, and I'm thinking that I'll hit an activity level - in intensity and duration - that I'm happy with.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Girl's day out

There's no better gift you can give a friend than your time.

Well, that and a copy of "Run Like a Mother." Duh.

Note: I did not give my friend a back ho though that fine piece of construction equipment could come in handy when ... well, for something. I'm sure of it.

My gorgeous friend Heather celebrated her birthday on Friday, and today we got the chance to celebrate together. Without kids. Without husbands. Just us. And if you think it's no big deal, we could not remember the last time we hung out just the two of us. I'm thinking it's the 30-some minutes we spent on a 5K course in April.

Pretty sad, if I do say so myself.

As luck would have it, my name was picked in a Beauty Bar drawing at the Aveda experience store, helping us to mark the occasion. I wasn't quite sure what a Beauty Bar was but when I hear the words "neck and shoulder massage," I don't ask questions.

The Beauty Bar experience is much more than a massage. Greeted with a cup of Aveda Comforting Tea, we were treated to an aromatherapy journey, a stress-relieving hand massage, makeup finishing touch and a hair consultation.

For more than an hour and a half, we were scrubbed and rubbed, primped and pampered.

My hands were smoothed, my eyes were de-puffed.

A tinted moisturizer evened out my skin tone, and beautiful green shadows was swept across my eyelid. My locks, still wet from a post-run, shower were deftly braided into a chic style that I'm antsy to re-create.

More than getting dolled up, it was a learning experience. It was incredibly interesting to learn more about my favorite hair care and beauty company and the science behind the products. The consultant, Alisha, who helped me was incredibly knowledgeable and was quick to point out that health and wellness isn't just about eating right and exercising. It's about taking care of you, as a person. 

And today, Heather and I took care of us. Our friendship. And a couple little plastic cards.

Hello, new Mosscara (in Earth). I will wear you tomorrow.