The Tale of Two Races: Hyannis and Salem

I confess I have a slight race obsession. I just can’t help the love I have for the high I feel when I cross that start line with other people that love running just as much as I do (some probably even more!). There’s a certain exhilaration that you get when running through the streets that are usually filled with cars, not having to dodge pedestrians on the side walk and people that aren’t running staring at you like you’re completing some amazing feat. I mean you are accomplishing something big whether you win or come in last, whether it’s your first race or 100th. You’re doing something others can’t. Plus, I love the feel of the medal around my neck after I cross that finish line and search for the nearest bottle of water.

But not all races are created equal. Yes, there’s 5ks and marathons, ironmans and road races. But even the body that you have prepared for that day may not be the same as it was the day before the weekend before. Boy did I learn that the hard way. 

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On February 28th I participated in the Hyannis Half Marathon down on the Cape. As you know, the weekend before I ran an awesome half marathon, I may not have gotten a PR or anything but it was fun and I felt great after running 13.1 miles. This weekend, not so much. The night before I was up late because I had a fundraiser event for the Boston Marathon. I didn’t eat my usual pre-race meal and I had a few (see: 3 ciders) drinks. This messed me up. Three miles into the race, I looked at my friend who caught up to me after I had slowed down significantly and said, “I don’t think I can run another 10 miles.”

Let me tell you, this is the only race that I have EVER seriously considered quitting. I was nauseated, IMG_2366dehydrated and I hurt all over. I was able to stay with her for the first seven miles after she generously gave me one of her shot bloks. But after that I just couldn’t keep up. Every step was more labored, my breathing heavy and my stomach volatile. I had my honey stinger gel which usually gives me a burst of energy, but even that failed me this day. I walked a lot, I promised Jesus (I’m not very religious but some times I can ask him for help) that I wouldn’t drink again until after Boston. Haha, silly but true. I did finally cross the finish line…the slowest I’ve ever done (even slower than the weekend before and stopping to take pictures!), but I finished. Then I threw up, three times.IMG_2363

Fast forward to two weeks later and I’m at the Salem Black Cat 20 miler. The longest run I’ve taken on to date (I will be breaking that this weekend as I take on the first 21 miles of the Boston marathon route…home field advantage has its perks!). I followed my pre race rituals to protocol. I had chicken parm for dinner, I hydrated properly all day and I went to black cat1bed early. I felt great and ready to go the next day. Aside from a minor slip up (okay, major), where my nutrition for the race (one honey stringer gel and one pack of clif shot bloks) fell out of my pocket at the start line, the run went really well. Since I had a lack of sugar in body, I did hit a wall at 16 miles and I had to turn to a run/walk. I ran as hard as I could for 2 minutes and walked a minute for the remaining 4 miles. I missed my goal by only 4 minutes which I don’t think is too bad considering.

Just goes to show, even though I did 6.9 miles more that weekend than I had 2 weekends before, preparation makes a huge difference. As I approach these final weeks of marathon training I’m sticking to my plan. I’m not drinking until post marathon (oh I can’t wait for that post race cider!!!) and before every long run I’m making sure I don’t disrupt my flow. Even though the road to Boston has not been easy for me between bad races, fundraising stress and injuries, I’m determined to get to that finish line feeling good about how far I’ve come!!! IMG_2410
And there is me cheesing as I cross that finish line!
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Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Sorry for being so MIA this week, I spent all last weekend exploring Disney World and running the 8th annual Disney Princess Half Marathon!!! It has been one of the races that I have wanted to run for a very long time and I want to just say, now that I have had the opportunity to run it, I can say I was not disappointed. There are a lot of high lights from the race so let me just pick a few for you.

1. This race starts before the crack of dawn. Yes, I woke up at 3am so that I get the start line on time….at 5:30am. There were about 20,000 other runners that suffered through this early morning alarm with me though and the energy surrounding me made it seem a little less painful.

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2. Every corral gets fireworks. Yes every single one. I was exciting when they went off the first time, then they kept going off and it was awesome! Yes, I am probably going to say everything was awesome because really it was. I was in corral E and the first wave went out right at 5:30am like they said it would happen. It took about 10 for my corral to cross the start line and then the fun began!!!

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3. There are characters ALL over the course. I skipped the first few because the lines were ridiculously long or I just wasn’t interested in taking pictures with them. There was also other entertainment along the course like marching bands, brass drums and gospel choirs. Almost everyone running is in costume too, it gave me so many ideas for next time! This year I ran as Pocahontas which was a good choice because she’s such an underrated character, there was hardly anyone else dressed as her!

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4. We got to run through Magic Kingdom before it opened for the day. As soon as I rounded the corner and saw Cinderella’s castle I teared up a little bit. Disney World has always had a special place in my heart and doing the run was really magical for me.

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5. There are chEAR squads all along the course so there are constantly people cheering you on and making some noise as you run! It was really uplifting and at mile 10 really picked up my spirits. I got a burst of energy and started cheering a long with them. I thanked all the volunteers loudly and cheered on the people around me. I’ve never felt so invigorated after running 10 miles.

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I would definitely do this race again and I definitely recommend it to anyone that wants to run a half marathon or enjoys running half marathons. Here are some of the highlights of why this race was so awesome:

-High energy from races and spectators!
-Lots of entertainment on the course to keep your energy up
-Tons of opportunities to take pictures with characters.
-Wearing a costume
-Music along the course so you don’t need your own!
-Lots of water stops and bathrooms
-Running through Magic Kingdom and Cinderella’s Castle!!!
-Flat course with a few hills
-Lots of water stops!!!
-SUPER organized for such a big race!!!!

Hopefully I see you down in Orlando next year!!!

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Whole 30 week 3!!

We are grinding down to the end of this and let me tell you, while I don’t miss bread and pasta as much. I do miss rice and other grains. I also miss cheese.

As you know, before I started this journey with the Whole 30, I planned it out. I did my research, I found recipes that were compliant and I made sure that I was never second guessing what I was going to eat. Well, I failed this week. Most of my meals were not pleasing to my palate and I ended up scraping most of it.

Breakfast: Sausage and potato hash
This meal was probably my only success for the week. I did end up adding eggs to it every morning, because while it tasted good, after the first day of eating it, I was still HUNGRY!!!
2 lbs white potatoes, cubed (small!)IMG_4814
1 lb Italian mild sausage (read ingredients to find one without sugar)
1 onion finely diced
1 large bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil (or coconut oil), brown sausage and cook through. Remove and place in towel lined bowel. Add potatoes and cook for about 5 min then add onion and saute for about 5 mins then add bell pepper. Stir in cumin, paprika and salt. Stir in sausage. Serve.
Lunch: Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken on baked sweet or regular potato.

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This recipe turned out ALRIGHT. I ate it for three days and then got sick of it. I’ve never really had a loaded potato like this before so I wanted to try it out. The sauce just didn’t do it for me and it was definitely better on a regular potato because it made the sweet potato just too sweet.
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
10 pitted-medjool dates
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lemon juiced
1 tbsp coconut amino acids
1 lb boneless chicken thighs.
Basically just throw it all in the crock pot for 8 hours on low. Bake a potato and top it.
Dinner: Butternut squash soup, burger and side salad.

Not going to bother with the butternut squash soup recipe. It was boring bland and I threw most of it out. I had the burger and side salad but ended up just eating another baked potato. I’m kind of sick of potatoes right now.

Well everyone, stay tuned for my last and final week of the Whole 30!!!

Whole 30 Week 2

 

Week two is in the books of the Whole 30. I won’t lie. I was craving donuts at the beginning of the week. Really badly. I almost broke down. But the thought of going back to constantly feeling bloated and burping all the time deterred me. Plus I want to do this the right way. I’m also feeling better in my own skin again. Can somebody say hello abs? These babies haven’t made an appearance in years. Per the rules of the Whole 30 I have no weighed myself. But I’m loving what I see!!image1

Week 2 menu:

Breakfast: Southwest Breakfast Casserole

Lunch: Spaghetti Squash and meatballs

Dinner: Chicken Stir Fry

Southwest Breakfast Casserole

I was surprised by this one, I usually don’t like ground chicken. It’s just weird to me, but I enjoyed this recipe!

1 red bell pepperIMG_2027
1 green bell pepper
1 onion
1 lb ground chicken
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
7 oz can of chopped green chili

6 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Chop peppers and onion and cook them in a skillet until onion is translucent. Set aside to cool. Add chicken to skillet and juice from the green chili, cook until slightly browned. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and coconut milk. Once the chicken and veggies are cooled to room temperature mix into eggs and pour into a 9-in greased pie pan. Bake for 35-40 min!

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

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Probably my favorite meal this week. I didn’t even miss real pasta and the spaghetti squash was surprisingly filling!

1 lb grass fed ground beef
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp rosemary
2 medium sized spaghetti squash
24 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 egg

In large bowl mix together the ground beef, basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and coconut flour. Mix together with hands until well incorporated, add in egg and continue to mix. Form into large meatballs, about 6-8. Grease skillet, brown meatballs on each side. You don’t have to cook thoroughly, they will cook in the crock pot. Add meat balls to slow cooker, top meat balls with tomatoes, onion and garlic. Serve with fresh basil and spaghetti squash.

Chicken Stir Fry

IMG_2075 (1)So I kind of winged this one. There’s no real recipe, I just took a chicken breast and whatever vegetables I had (mushroom, spinach, pepper, and onion) and sauteed it all together in some coconut oil. It was pretty bland so I found a Whole 30 approved Tahini sauce at Trader Joe’s and added that. It made a HUGE difference. Some times you just have to experiment and see what works for you. I have to say that my meals are usually anything BUT boring!

 

 

Here are some other meals that I tried during the weekend:

 

Sweet potato hash with eggs:

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Prosciutto wrapped chicken thighs with a baked potato and side salad:

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B Good Burger with no bun, avocado and an egg with sweet potato fries:  IMG_2054

The Whole 30

Last year I tried the Isagenix 30 day cleanse and that helped me shed a lot of weight and get me back on track in 2015 when it came to my health and fitness goals. I mananged to lose and keep off 15 pounds, run two 5ks, a 10k, 3 half marathons and 2 sprint distance triathlons. But my body hasn’t completely healed from the hell I put it through when I decided to participate in a bikini competition 3 years ago and fell back down the rabbit hole of eating disorders.

in 2014 I landed in the emergency room with horrible stomach pains and vomiting blood. Turns out at the rip old age of 26 I had a stomach ulcer, which is not unheard of, but not very common apparently for someone my age. My stomach has never been the same. When I eat certain things like the fake sugar alcohols found in a lot of protein bars, or when I get incredibly stressed out I get these horrible, sounds like I’m going to throw up burps.
I knew that I had to do something about this if I really wanted to ever be in my best health. So this year, without having to go through a battery of tests, I decided to cut all the things that might be irritating my stomach. That’s where the Whole 30 comes in.
The Whole 30 isn’t a cleanse or a diet. It’s basically a stripping of your normal diet in order to reset your metabolism and negative effects certain foods have on your system. You don’t eat small amounts of feed, there are no shakes, it’s simply cutting things out. In short, no grains (bread, pasta, rice, quinoa etc.), no dairy, sugar and no legumes. After the 30 days of cutting these foods out, I am going to slowly add them back in to see what effects my stomach. Starting with dairy, because I really don’t want to live the rest of my life without cheese!!!!
So what am I eating to keep my energy up while training for a marathon? Lots of potatoes and squash. Before I even decided to commit to this I did a lot of research and planned out my 30 days of meals. I’m a creature of habit so I can eat the same things throughout the week without getting sick of it as long as I change it up the next week and on the weekends getting creative with eating out yet still sticking to the Whole 30.
Here’s what it looks like:
Week 1:

Breakfast: Spaghetti Squash Quiche
Lunch: Slow cooker Sweet Potato Chili
Dinner: Chicken tenders, roasted potatoes and broccoli
Week 2: 
 
Breakfast:  Southwest Breakfast Casserole
Lunch: Spaghetti Squash and meatballs (slow cooker)
Dinner: Chicken stir fry
Week 3: 
Breakfast: Sausage and sweet potato hash
Lunch: Slow cooker BBQ chicken on a bake potato
Dinner:  Butternut squash soup, burger and green vegetable
Week 4: 
 
Breakfast: Sausage and egg breakfast bites
Lunch: Paleo Meat Loaf, roasted potatoes and veg
Dinner: Slow cooker chicken fajitas with avocado
Snacks: Fruits like apples, celmentines, and bananas. Different nuts and almond butter!
Stay tuned for some of these recipes coming up in the next few weeks!

Protein Pancake Muffins!

I, like many people, struggle with getting enough protein in my breakfast in the morning. Which has been a shame because I’ve found it super important for me to get enough protein in the morning so I don’t crash early on in the day. But my problem is, I get sick of yogurt especially during the winter. I like eggs but I don’t have time to cook them every morning and I’m not a huge fan of reheating them. I love protein pancakes but that’s also hard to travel well…so I decided to combine the famous egg muffin idea with a protein pancake.

Results: SUCCESS!!!

I made these beauties, they’re super easy to make and delicious! Here’s the recipe for you…IMG_1359

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 container (5.3 oz) siggi’s vanilla bean yogurt
  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 scoop of protein (I used Whey Better’s peanut butter)
  • toppings of your choice (I used Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. If it’s too think add either coconut or almond milk. Use muffin liners in your pan (I found that the tin ones are better, the paper ones were hard to peel off and I ended up eating paper). Pour evenly into muffin cups (about 6-8 muffins) place on toppings and bake for about 20 mins or until tooth pick comes out clean.

Serve and enjoy!!!!

 

Staying Motivated

Let’s talk motivation. I get this questioned a lot on staying motivated, especially, right after Halloween. The end of the year is coming and we all have parties and holidays and celebrations are coming. But that doesn’t mean that you just stop working towards your goals, if this is all about living a healthy LIFESTYLE then you should fit eating healthy and working out into the schedule. But in order to stay motivated you have to remind yourself WHY.

WHY did you start this in the first place? What is the big picture? Holiday season is only two months. What about all the hard work you just put in for the past 10?

Keep this in mind to keep going. But I know you’re thinking, there’s so many cookies and so much candy laying around this time of year. MAKE it work for you. Treat yourself to a little candy (keyword here is little) so that you won’t be tempted to over indulge in one sitting. This is why I’m a huge fan of IIFYM. You can have some candy, just cut back on the rest of the day. Want a cookie midday? Go ahead but skip carbs at dinner, and watch how many grams of fat you’re eating. In short, make your other meals as healthy as possible.images

Check your portion sizes too. I have the bad habit of standing at the treats table and just mindlessly stuffing my face. WALK AWAY. Fill a plate and find another spot in the room to chat.

Maybe you won’t get as many work outs in as you usually do, maybe you don’t have as much time. But make the most out of the time you DO have. You can get a killer work out in, in just 30 minutes. You can even get a killer work out in in just 30 minutes while you’re at home! You pigeon hole yourself to just the gym. It’s about getting creative and making time in your day. May be you have to switch your night work outs to morning ones, maybe you have to combine two in one day.

One of the things that I’ve found to keep me motivated in my off season from races, is planning my next year. I’ve already picked out what races I want to do next year (full marathon here I come!), I’ve set goals for my off season (cutting a minute off my mile time, and building up my power on the bike). Remember, try to pick goals that are not so scale and body image oriented. I feel like that’s really important this time of the year especially. If you’re like me and you started this lifestyle in order to feel good, don’t bash yourself for over doing it, or skipping a work out. Just make every attempt to do better next time and try not to use food and work outs as punishment. Fitness should be FUN.

This is my fun face.

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The Perfect Protein Pancake (in my opinion at least!)

I recently just fell in love with pancakes again. Well…protein pancakes. Over the years I’ve searched for the perfect protein, and well, I think I’ve found it. These pancakes are the BOMB DIGGITY. I kind of want them for every meal.
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Ingredients

1/3 cup oat flour or blended oats

1 banana
2 egg whites
1/4 cup Almond milk
1 scoop chocolate protein
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp coco powder
2 tbsp PB2
1. Add all ingredients in blender
2. Cook!
3. Mix PB2 (use chocolate PB2 if you want to get really crazy!) with a little water and add as topping!
Calories: 412
Protein: 39g
Carbs: 55g
Fats: 5.5g

Enjoy! I hope you want to eat them all the time too!

 

What is IIFYM?!

Let’s talk food and what you eat. In my last post we talked about Meal Prepping and how to make it simple and more beneficial for your life style. But how do you choose WHAT to eat? That’s probably the biggest question I get from clients.

I’m a believer in the If It Fits Your Macros school of thought. No, this is not all about eating doughnuts and junk all the time and saying “This is good for you!” I like to eat healthy foods, but not ones that are plain and boring. So I often mix it up to keep myself from getting bored and off track, it’s also a great way to keep with your goals and still live your life.

So first, WHAT are macros?

Macros is short for macronutrients, our major nutrients found in foods. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

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One gram of carbs contains 4 calories

One gram of protein contains 4 calories

One gram of fat contains 9 calories

Why are these so important?

Each macronutrient plays a different role in our bodies which is why it’s SO important to make sure you get a balanced diet and you don’t leave one out.

Carbohydrates. They are the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). Your body uses this sugar for energy for your cells, tissues and organs.

Proteins are essential for growth and development. They help build lean muscle mass, and are the energy source when you do not intake carbohydrates. In short, if you cut out carbohydrates, you must use protein for energy which means breaking down your muscles and essentially slowing down your metabolism.

Fats help protect our vital organs, help us absorb fat soluble vitamins and provide us with a high density energy source. There are three types of fats (saturated, unsaturated and trans fat). No trans fat does not equal weight loss. It just simply has been shown that unsaturated fat decreases the risk for heart disease.

How do I figure how much of each I should consume?macronutrients

It’s all about trial and error. Every body is different based on how often they work out, if they have a damaged metabolism from long bouts of dieting, and personal goals such as putting on muscle or losing weight. You can figure out your numbers through an online calculator but those are not going to take these types of things into account.

Having an actual HUMAN help guide you and adjust your macros accordingly as
your body changes is going to be better than any calculator you find online. Once, the numbers are figured out then you can use a food calculator to track your foods and make sure you’re hitting your numbers.

So you’re saying I can eat whatever I want as long as I hit my numbers?

Yes. And no. I will never tell anyone to eat crap all day and say it’s okay. There are still essential vitamins and minerals that you get from whole foods and not from processed foods. But under IIFYM, you can treat your self occasionally and not feel guilty. There is also a difference between having high glycemic index carbs (processed foods) and low glycemic index carbs (whole foods like brown rice, quinoa and potatoes). But that’s another post in itself.

What does this mean?

It’s possible to not have to “diet” to get the body you want. You don’t have to starve, deprive or go crazy trying to slim down.

If you want more help figure all this out, check out my different work out and nutrition plans  I offer.

Meal Prep 101

We’ve all heard the saying “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” Well, in light of the 21 day fix and general meal planning BLOWING up on my facebook news feed I thought I would write a post on my tips about meal prep and how I’ve found easier (and tastier) ways to make my life easier during the week.

I won’t lie, I used to be from the school of thought where you had to eat 6 meals a day and everything had to be carefully measured and portioned out for each meal. No salt, condiments or anything that would add any extra calories. Don’t worry. I have long since moved on from there. However, I do still meal prep. I work full time now as well as train clients after work and write programs for remote clients so cooking during the week is not very feasible for me unless I want to eat at 9:30 at night (ahem, I’m usually in bed by then). Meal prepping can be a daunting task, how do you pick what to make for the week? What do you cook ahead of time? What can wait? Will it go bad before you can get to it? Here’s some things that I have found to help me.

IMG_11301. Plan.
It seems obvious right? But I plan for the next week, probably Wednesday of the week before. I decide what I want to cook and make my grocery list. I make sure all of my meals are balanced, there’s always a healthy carb, protein and a good amount of vegetables. Also, I look at my schedule for the following week.

2. Keep it simple.IMG_0509

Don’t keep it so simple that you’re eating boiled chicken and steamed broccoli
everyday. But don’t try to make your own salad dressing and meat balls from scratch in one afternoon (Yes I did this and I was miserable). I pick dishes that are easy, tasty and healthy. My cook time on a Sunday is usually only about an hour long. Lately I’ve been on a kick with one pot meals, simple and less clean up!

IMG_10593. Get comfortable with eating the same things.

I eat the same meal for lunch and the same meal for dinner all week. But it doesn’t bother me as long as it tastes good. If the meal I’ve prepped is a flop, then it gets a little hard to swallow down. Same goes for the opposite. If I LOVE a meal I’ve prepped I can’t wait to eat it every day. I know a lot of people like variety, so do I. I usually never make the same thing twice in a month so that I can keep it fresh every week.

4. Don’t even try to MEAL prepIMG_0510

If you’re just starting out, don’t try to cook everything. I hate to cook everything on Sunday’s in fear of food going bad. If I have the rare night during the week where I have time to cook again, I’ll prep that food so it’s a quick into the oven or onto the stove. Any little bit helps, so if you’re making something that calls for chopping vegetables or marinating meat, do that ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. I even do this with smoothies, I’ll chop up fruit and put it in a bag until I’m ready to throw it in the blender so that in the morning when I haven’t gotten my coffee yet, I don’t even have to think about it.

5. Skip a meal.

I don’t know if you noticed, but I don’t prep breakfast at all. I love eggs as much as the next person. But honestly, it just one more thing on my plate. I used to do overnight oats as well, but sometimes at night I just want to come home and veg out. So I keep breakfast non-cooked. I’ll have oatmeal that I can just throw in the microwave or yogurt with my own fruit and granola added.

Here’s one meal that I made this week and was SUPER easy and quick:

Pesto Mozzarella Chicken w/ Brown Rice and Spinach (Makes 4 servings)IMG_1157

1 lb chicken
4 tbsp pesto (or you can make your own)
2 Tomatos
2 cloves garlic

1 Package Spinach
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 tbsp Olive oil or any oil of your choice
4 slices of mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice tomatoes. Finely chop garlic. Place chicken breast in oven safe dish. Spread 1 tbsp pesto on to each chicken breast and then top with 2 slices of tomatos. Bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove from oven, place mozzarella on top of eat chicken breast and then continue to bake for another 5 minutes.

Add brown rice and 2 cups water to a pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Once brown rice is cooked remove from heat, add tbsp olive oil, spinach and chopped garlic to the pot. Cover and let it steam, and stir everything together.

Then divide however you would like, Tupperware, eat it right away, feed it to the cat. Whatever you please but you just made lunch/dinner for 4 days!