Friday, February 22, 2013

WOW: Living in the moment

Eight more work hours till the weekend. Eating lunch while I plan next week's menu and grocery list. Sixteen  (or 17) miles until the training week is over. A week until payday. Thirty-six days till the Run the Bluegrass Marathon and celebrating with a Sweet & Sassy Redheads BabyCakes Cupcake.

Ten weeks till I get to spend a weekend with the girls for the Wisconsin half marathon "Go Epic or Have Fun" adventure. (Yes, this item gets a whole paragraph to itself.)

Sometimes, it feels like I am so busy planning the future that I forget to live in the now. It's a shame because the now is so amazing - a fresh dusting of snow, sunlight peeking through the sky and being entertained by the disappearing act of a Goldfish-fueled Great Miles Copperfield.

Manduka, purveyors of high performance yoga gear, was inspired this, the magic of living in the moment. Its new spring collection, NOW=WOW, features an array of functional yoga gear in fresh new colors such as Pop, Glow, and Breeze.

And even if you're not a yogi, the lineup is great for the fitness enthusiast. Mats for ab work, bags for heading to the gym and eQua Mat Towels for soaking up all the sweat. And let me tell you from experience, it's impossible not to live in the moment when you have salty drops burning in your eyes

(OMG, I used an emoticon. Please shoot me.)

Manduka is encouraging people to live in the moment (without the burning pupils, I assume) with its #NowIsWow campaign. The digital campaign encourages the yoga (and fitness) community to take a pause and experience the moment - by celebrating life, reveling in nature and embracing the now. Every week Manduka will showcase a new color from the Spring line - in visual collage form - via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and its blog. Manduka will then ask the community to share an image of their own to celebrate life’s stunning moments, guided by that color. Fans can tag their photos on Instagram and Twitter using #NOWisWOW or upload on Facebook. For every entry, Manduka will donate $1 to yoga charity, Off The Mat, up to $1500.

Awesome, right?

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This week's color is SHADE, a lovely shade of gray. Coincidence because Manduka is offering one reader an eQua Mat Towel of his/her own in SHADE, a $42 value, and it's a not so lovely gray outside.

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To enter, leave a comment telling me how you live in the now.

For additional entries (leave a separate comment for each, indicating that you did so):

Disclosure/disclaimer: Manduka sent me an eQua mat towel for my participation in the campaign but all opinions are my own. The giveaway begins Friday, Feb. 22 and will end Tuesday, Feb. 26. The winner will be announced on Wednesday and will have 72 hours to contact me via email or a new winner will be selected. Open to U.S. residents only.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Three Things Thursday: Making $hit happen

I've declared that 2013 was the year that I was going to make shit happen.

I've been pretty vague as to what the shit I want to make happen will look like in an effort to protect myself. I mean, seriously, everyone is on the interwebs (except my grandma), and I don't want to suffer some of the consequences to putting it all out there.

However, I can share some things. Three things, which are all a part of making shit happen this year.

1. This evening, I taught a circuit class at a freight and shipping company through a workplace wellness program that is managed by a local gym. I had initially contacted the gym about teaching a circuit/bootcamp class at its new location, which is near my 'hood, but the manager thought of me when the gym was looking to fill the Thursday night class.

Yes, you could say I was excited.

He said I had free reign to do what I wanted, and I opted to stick with what I know - strength training. There were three circuits and each circuit had three sets. To make it even more fun, the sets in each circuit got progressively harder. Think: Begin with deadlift, end with single leg deadlift. The class went well but they requested more fun. I'm afraid "fun" might be tough for me so I'd love to know what makes group fitness fun for you.

2. I have been mentioning it here and there and thinking about it even more but taking on this new class has cemented my decision. I am going to pursue my personal training certification. I want to make sure that I'm ready and qualified for any opportunities that come my way and being a CPT is key.

I've chatted with a handful of people and done my research, and I have decided that I am going to go through the American Council on Exercise. The owner of the gym through which I am doing the circuit class and a gal I took BODYPUMP instructor training with both recommended ACE, as it's a well-rounded program, has a number of other certifications and, most importantly, is recognized by the NCCA. I also liked that Les Mills certifications can be counted toward required continuing education credits and the ACE certification is among those listed as acceptable for employment by the YMCA.

3. I feel like the details are a little sketchy on this one but it seems that I am going to be an ambassador for Nathan Sports in 2013. I am a fan of the company's Facebook page, and I was entering its daily holiday giveaways. The final giveaway was the chance to be an ambassador, and entrants had to give their mantra for 2013.

Mine? Be epic. Despite my frustrations, it is still my goal, and I'm using my mantra to keep me motivated during this time in my training.

I've filled out a survey for Nathan and I've been told I can expect some goodies but what it actually means, I'm still unsure. Regardless, I'm pretty pumped to work with the company. My first handheld was a Nathan Sports, and I still have the "sleeve." (The actual bottle was lost when I ran the HUFF 50K relay in 2011.) It carried me through several half marathons and my Columbus Marathon training cycle. I busted it out last weekend for my 10-miler and was, well, intrigued to discover a Swedish fish from the fall in the zip pocket.

I didn't eat it. I promise.

Breaking tradition: A giveaway

Graham crackers with strawberry Laughing Cow Cream Cheese and sliced banana. Peanut butter and apple "sandwiches."

All of which sound delicious to me ... and all of which received an initial snub from the group of kids who come to the office once a week for tutoring.

But last week I really did it. Oh, lordy, did I do it. I blended 4 ounces of cream cheese with half of an avocado. The mixture was spread on a tortilla and topped with bite-size pieces of broccoli, zucchini and carrot, rolled up and cut in half. It looked insanely good to me but you would have thought I was giving them liver with applesauce on top. It was, hands down, the most rejected snack I've ever made.

I don't take their rejection personally as they'd much rather have a combination like goldfish crackers and ranch dressing or, better yet, Hot Cheetos and root beer but I did feel the urge to redeem myself this week.

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I wasn't quite sure how I would do it, and do it on my terms, until I saw a recipe for Coconut Oil Rice Krispie Treats from Gimme Some Oven in my Google Reader. While the treats have more sugar than I prefer, my personal use of organic whole grain cereal and coconut oil, one of the hottest food trends of 2013, made me feel a bit less guilty.

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I was recently given the chance to try coconut oil through Tropical Traditions' generous blogger program and thus had some on hand to try Ali's treats.

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I combined the oil with butter, gingerbread marshmallows and cereal just as you would any other cereal treat. Genius got the best of me, and I scooped the mixture into a greased muffin pan rather than put it in a brownie pan. No cutting = no temptation to eat the crumbs.

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I'd be lying if I said the kids jumped for joy when they saw the little cereal balls. In fact, I think I scared them so much with the veggie wraps that they would have been trepidation of a candy bar. However, with one bite, the kids were happy. One third-grader ate two, trading a Yoohoo for it, and a fifth-grader asked me for the recipe.

I'm pretty sure I struck gold - and not just with the label. And you can, too. Tropical Traditions will give one reader a 1-quart jar of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil! (Scroll down for Rafflecopter giveaway and rules.)

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 32 oz. 

Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cookie monster: A family post

Miles has pooped on the potty about four times int he past six weeks. Pretty awesome for a kid who's not even 20 months but not awesome because it's just a tease. Like, "Hey, mom, great job noticing that I was making my poop face. I am going to let you think that one day you won't need to buy diapers and can get regular pedicures but, really, I plan to wear Pull-Ups to prom."

Anyway, one of those four times this weekend. Miles has been all like, "Potty. Potty!" but really wants to grunt on the toilet for a cookie. Because he thinks it will work, obviously. After one of these incidents, I saw the poop face, threw him on a potty and saw success. Miles saw a cookie in his hand.

I tell you this because I'm pretty sure he remembered the poop + cookie thing this morning. And I want to tell you about this morning, if only to tell someone.

I had to change a dirty diaper - no catching of the poop face for me as I was trying to drown my sorrows and sweat in the tub.

"Poop. Diaper. Change," Miles said.

"Yes. Miles pooped in his diaper."


"No. We only get cookies when Miles poops in the toilet."

Cue toddler tantrum. For a good two minutes, he screamed "cookie" with tears streaming down his feet and stomped his feet.

And then he stopped. Caught his breath. Looked at me.

"Cookie? Grammy?" Because, obviously, if we call Grammy (my grandma) in Cincinnati, he is going to plead his case and she will force me to give him a cookie.


I highly doubt that my grandma is going to sympathize with his plight. The woman goes to dialysis three times a week and has the most rigorous diet restrictions outside of the Biggest Loser Ranch - no sugar, no salt, no liquid, no flavor. So to even associate the woman with cookies, much less at 8 a.m., is astounding. But that's not the point. The point is: Where the hell did he learn that kind of manipulation? If I wasn't so tired and easily agitated by the tantrum, I would have been applauding his genius.

Instead? Instead, I was sweeping up sesame seeds off the floor.

I had the pantry open as I was making homemade barbecue sauce for slow cooker pulled pork and wanted easy access to the chili powder, paprika and whatever else the recipe called for. Miles reached in and managed to find the sesame seeds - sesame seeds I haven't been able to find for months. He opened the jar and promptly dumped them on the ground.

"Uh oh," Miles says.

Uh oh is right. I guess that's what I get for refusing him a cookie. And, yes, I'm fairly certain that a 19-month-old is capable of retaliation.

I was none to pleased I began to vacuum 1,920,201,937,355 sesame seeds out of the crevices of my tile floor. I mean, have you ever tried to clean up sesame seeds? It's a bitch - they hide in corners, the crevices between my tiles and the dog doesn't care to eat them. It doesn't improve the situation when Miles wants to help, pushing a broom three times his size around the kitchen. Sesame seeds aren't particularly cheap, either. The most irritating thing about it, though, was I had been looking for those same sesame seeds last month and couldn't find them yet my munchkin could in 0.019 second. Next time, I'll know to ask for his help.

Actually, next time, I'll have some kind of pseudo cookie so I can avoid the entire shenanigan. Yes, cookies for the win.

Note: My grandma, aka Grammy, in all her wisdom said it was my fault as I should have never given Miles the cookie as a reward. Just lots of "Good boy!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spring Training: Week 7

Spring Training posts document my training for the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon on March 30 and my "A" race, the Wisconsin Marathon half, on May 4.

The week, in training:

Monday: 3 miles, treadmill
Tuesday: ZWOW 44
Wednesday: 4.3-mile run, attempt at intervals
Thursday: 4.2-mile run + living room circuit
Friday: Rest
Saturday: BODYPUMP
Sunday:10 miles, long

◊ ◊ ◊

 To describe my training of late, I can use three words: sick, tired, frustrated.

I battled a sinus infection or cold for most of last week, and its remnants are still lingering in my body.

The blocked sinuses became a nagging cough, and I slept on the couch for most of last week as to not disturb anyone else's slumber.

My paces are slowing. Big time. Whatever gains I had made and saw to fruition when I PR'd the 10K in December, I'm fairly certain have disappeared. I'm running slow, heavy and out of breath.

It sucks. And I'm incredibly unhappy though resolved, if anything, to try to push through this effer of an obstacle.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Family, it's what's for dinner

Ladies, it's time to gather round. I have a story to tell you. A story about the time I ate lemon meringue pie off the dining room floor. It's probably a story that would be far funnier had you actually been there but it does trump the time my cousin made me applesauce from a dog bowl while he was baby-sitting.

So make yourselves a cup of gingerbread tea from the depths of your desk drawer (or something that equally smells better than it tastes) and grab a piece of dark chocolate. You'll want refreshments for this.

◊ ◊ ◊

Dinner time was never anything special in my house. I say that not because my mom didn't go to the effort but because it was the time before food television and blogging and when people wrote down recipes while watching "Regis & Kathie Lee." With a pen and paper. Getting creative for my mom was opening the Betty Crocker cookbook and making something that required a) more than five ingredients; b) more than 30 minutes; and c) a trip to the big grocery store. Read: Chicken Cacciatore.

But this story isn't really about Chicken Cacciatore though my mom did make it once, and we all used the same facial expressions as we did in the story about why I ate lemon meringue pie off the dining room floor.

Dinners, basic though they were, were always served and, save for the stretches when my mom worked two jobs or my dad was on second, they were served as a family. We would eat the meal at our table in the solarium, a glorious room that had three walls of windows and was the only space to feature hardwood floors. My mom tried to make balance meals, especially after my stick-thin dad was diagnosed with high cholesterol. There was meat (half ground turkey-half beef), a starch and a vegetable (from a can, with butter). And let me tell you, canned green beans with 2 tablespoons of butter are the jam.

The one thing we never had was dessert. You know, because Dad had high cholesterol. Sucker. Not so much because he was the reason I was deprived of baked goods (which I really wasn't, as evidenced by my size 14 eighth-grade graduation dress) but because he made the mistake of telling (read: whining to) my mom that we never had dessert.

So one weekend, after she had cleared the plates from the table, she came back into the solarium. Carrying a lemon meringue pie. Rather than be grateful, my dad made a joke. Or at least that's what we'll call it, as my mom didn't think it was that funny. And so she threw the pie. At my dad. Good or bad, she missed and it hit the floor. Mom and Dad went to the kitchen to fight, and my brother and I, sitting on the floor, ate the pie.

◊ ◊ ◊

There are two lessons to be learned from this story: Lemon meringue pie tastes good, even off the floor, and even the most volatile of families can eat together.

And eating together is important.

Three or more family meals together has myriad benefits, including:  improved language skills for preschoolers, thinking skills and linguistic development and school performance/better grades; decreased chances of children being overweight, eating unhealthy foods and drinking soda; and lower rates of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use.

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As a parent, I'm obviously not worried about the last part but I do strive to make family dinners at the table (not TV trays) a regular part of our week. Not only do Mark and I get the chance to model healthy eating but it gives us a chance to connect as a couple. It can sometimes be a pain during the week but the one time I like to really go to the effort is Sundays.

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To me, there's just nothing that beats a Sunday night dinner.

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It's the one meal that I have a bit more time to cook (45 minutes rather than 30), and it's a chance to do something heartier, especially on these cold winter days.  Dare I say, Sunday night dinners are the chance to do something fancy.

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And nothing says fancy to me like steak. I picked up a Laura's Lean Beef sirloin on a visit to the fancy Kroger (the big store, just like my mom did) and decided to try the company's recipe for Filet with Balsamic Onions and Gorgonzola. Obviously, I used the sirloin instead of filets.

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I served it with homemmade sweet potato hashbrowns and broccoli, from the freezer and without butter, for a heart-healthy meal to do February proud. The steak was tender and delicious, and Mark and I loved the combination of the onions and blue cheese.

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The best part, though, was sitting down as a family and enjoying a meal together. Or the five minutes we had together before Miles decided he wanted to play on the potty and throw steak to Denali.

And, according to Denali, steak tastes just fine off the floor.

Do you eat dinner with your family? Any tips to get through toddlerhood?

Disclosure: Laura's Lean Beef provided me with product vouchers but all opinions are my own. To learn more about the company, visit its website.