Posts filed under ‘Fitness’

Coming clean

Hey loves. I am having a hard time of things lately.

I’m sure it may be noticeable since I sound grumpy in a lot of my recent posts. Part of it is genetic…I haven’t really discussed this on the blog, but…*deep breath*…

I have generalized anxiety disorder.

I won’t go too much into it (for now at least) as far as when it started, how I’m managing it, etc. etc., but ….. It sucks. Sometimes I feel like I’m a crazy person. I freak out over stupid an insignificant things, and can get trapped in a sort of “downward spiral” of negative thoughts. It also means I worry, over-analyze and over-think things. When life’s normal (but shitty) setbacks happen, most people understand that while they suck and can be difficult to deal with, they are just that — part of life. Life goes on. When I’m feeling “normal,” I understand this too and can deal accordingly. Sometimes, though, I just fall apart. It can also cause depression.

One upside (??) of this issue, however, is that whenever I feel like I’m getting into a bad place, I know that it is part of my wiring — the way I was built — and that it’s not just me being crazy (even though I can still be a total nut sometimes). I can look at the situation with a little clarity and know that the stormcloud will pass. I’m trying not to let the negative thoughts that are constantly swirling in my head right now override everything and mask all the great things I have in my life; I’m healthy, I have amazing friends and family, I live in a city I love and I have a cool job. Battling depression and anxiety can make it very difficult to remember these things and cherish them, so sometimes I have to remind myself of them constantly. I don’t want to get bogged down in all the little stuff.

So on that note, I apologize if sometimes it seems like I’m overly crabby, negative or bogged down in unhappy stuff. It’s always a struggle, but is especially difficult when crappy things happen, because I’m still learning how to deal with them. Right now, crappy things are indeed happening and I am just not 100% on my game, or at least not enough to handle them as well as I’d like to be.

*another deep breath*

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WELL. Now that I’ve gotten that “out of the way,” I can tell you about some of the good stuff that has been happening. These are all camera phone pictures since my DSLR is experiencing some uploading issues, so please don’t abandon me (if you haven’t already) for poor photo quality!! I promise to bring back the good stuff :)

Last week I got my first (very hyped up) pumpkin spice latte. This one was a tall iced soy version.

It was actually a little too sweet for me — perhaps it was the combination of the already sweetened soy milk plus the flavoring? It was also a bit too heavy on the cinnamon or nutmeg or whatever powdered spice they put in there. It wasn’t bad, but I’m not sure I’d order one again — at least not like that. I’m just not into overly sugary stuff. Bleh.

On the walk back from my Starbucks lunch break Friday, I snapped a few fun pictures of the neat view I get to pass every day. Not so bad, eh?

The weather was kind of crappy, but I still enjoyed being able to stop and smile for a minute to appreciate what a great city Chicago is :)

Friday night, my friend Kati and I stayed in and played drunken Sonic the hedgehog on the Wii. I totally broke two glasses and hit Molly in the face while playing. Clearly I am not meant to play video games.

Kati kicking ass and taking names

We were up until four in the morning!! Who DOES that??? (Besides adolescent boys)

Saturday (after sleeping in), I got up and went to pick up my race packet for the Chicago Half Marathon 5k with Amy. We got there about half an hour before it closed, so we had to rush around a bit to see everything and pick up the required swag :D

It was held at one of the Navy Pier convention halls. It was funny going to Navy Pier because it’s SUCH a tourist destination that no one who is from Chicago ever really goes there. Too many people, too expensive, too much going on. But it was nice to walk along the lake (as always) and take in some of the fun views. I wish I had thought to take a picture outside, but I didn’t. Oh well!

I found a booth for a Madison 5k that I am super excited about!!!! I will definitely be attending this next year :)

Bucky!

I WANT this medal! :D

Amy was wearing a dress and looked super cute, and I showed up in my workout clothes and no makeup. I looked like absolute crap, but you can’t win em all I guess….haha. I found this AMAZING tech shirt that I totally want. Sorry if you can’t see what it says…

But the back says, “I am slow. I know. Get over it.” I loved this, hahaha. I am such a slow runner because a) I am still new to it b) my knee injury and c) I’m just not very good at running!!! (Not that I should need to justify this, but sometimes I read other blogs and see ladies straight up flying at 8-min/mile paces (or even faster, as is the case with my friend Kara!) and I feel like a total loser because keeping up a 10-min/mi pace for longer than a mile is a huge accomplishment for me sometimes. BUT. I am proud that I am running at all, and working to get better at it — in a way that works for me. So yes, I am slow — I KNOW. Get over it :)

This actually reminds me of a comment Mel made on my last post that totally made me smile!

“I have a ankle/leg injury (actually its a condition) that will basically keep me from ever really running long distances. Sometimes I get frustrated at the gym when I have to stay slow on treadmills even though I can cardiovascular-ly or endurance-ly handle it and I keep comparing myself to the people next to me. In the end, I have to do what’s right for my body and that means preventing further injury. I think it’s hard because you know you’re a strong mofo but your body is not responding! wtf bod?!”

It’s so true — sometimes you just have to do what works best for you, and just focus on that. Love you Mel!!!!!

After picking up our stuff, I hung out with Amy for a bit then headed back home to shower and get ready to meet my friend Megan for her birthday. Unfortunately, she forgot her ID at home (!!! d’oh !!!) so she had to cancel. This actually worked out better anyway, because I wouldn’t have been able to stay out for more than an hour anyway. So instead, Laura came over and we hung out and watched TV and made dinner. I love when you are such good friends with someone that just hanging around and doing nothing makes you happy. :)

I went to bed super early because…dum dum dum…I had to get up at 5am for the 5k in the morning! The race was in Jackson park, which is way way way far south in Chicago. It took a little over an hour for Amy and I to get there, so we had to leave around 6. We were sleepy gals, and very nervous!

nervous face on the train

Such a fake smile, haha! I sent this to my dad because he had been checking in with me a lot before the race. Friday he left me the sweetest voicemail telling me that he was very proud of me for “doing these things” (hah) and how cool he thought it was that I am challenging myself like this. It meant a lot — I am so, so lucky to have such great parents.

Anyway, Amy and I got to the race just before it started and had to hustle to check our gear and get to the starting line. After standing around for just a few minutes, we were off!! Even though the first mile felt longer than usual, we still got through it easy peasy. Before we have usually run the first mile then briefly stopped for a walk break, then started up again. This time we got to 1.25 miles (thanks Garmin!) and I suggested that we keep going til we hit 2 miles. Since we both have been off the running wagon somewhat since our last race, it was not easy, but we pushed ourselves through and did it!

I really started to feel the burn after 1.5 miles, and was starting to think that I couldn’t run without stopping for those first 2. But I started talking out loud (to myself, but also to Amy) to keep myself going and let me tell you…I was absolutely shocked that it worked. Some of the thoughts went like:

  • Running is all in your head. You already know that your body is able to do this. The only thing you need to focus on is putting one foot in front of the other. That’s it. Just do it.
  • Focus on the sound of your breath — in and out — and the sound of your feet tapping the pavement. Nothing else. Breathe in, breathe out. Right foot, left foot.
  • Come on brain, don’t crap out of me now. Keep my legs moving. Please.

The last one makes me giggle :) But seriously! I couldn’t believe how much stronger I felt when I started getting into my head and pushing myself. When I was focusing on the second “mantra” about focusing on my breath and my feet, I swear it felt like I was meditating. I’ve never felt anything like it, but it was a totally “zen” like experience. I loved it.

The last half mile of the 5k was the hardest. I kept focusing on breathing, but I could tell I was really slowing down. At this point, Amy took over the cheerleading duties, which helped IMMENSELY. Hearing her telling both of us that we were kicking ass and “DOING IT!!!” I felt like I could finish this thing strong. And crossing the finish line with thousands of people waiting and cheering didn’t hurt either :) This was the biggest race we’ve done so far (estimates were at 22,000 people!!), so it was a really neat feeling. The announcer was also talking about how Apollo Ohno was about to finish, so that put some fire under my butt too — who wants to finish a 5k AFTER Apollo finishes a HALF MARATHON??? Haha.

We thought we were going to collapse and die (per usual) after crossing the finish line, so we sat for a minute, then got up and picked up some bananas and our medals!!!

Oddly enough, our times — while better than the last 5k, when it was a thousand degrees outside — were still not better than the very first 5k we ran. There were only a few seconds difference, but I can’t believe that my fastest time was still my first race — so weird! Perhaps it was because I had been training much more for the first one? Hmm. It’s great to have a running buddy though! :)

Anyway, after walking around and picking up some freebie bars and energy drink things, we hopped on a bus then a train to get back home. I only had a few minutes to shower and get dressed once I got home, because my wonderful brother picked me up to let my do my laundry at his house :) haha. I feel like I’m still in college, but hey! Laundry is expensive!

My parents picked me up from my brother’s to take me out for a short victory dinner at Twist!  — a sweet tapas place. I picked at a few things but wasn’t super hungry. I did have a victory mojito though:) After they dropped me off at home, I was totally pooped and passed out on the couch watching True Blood and Breaking Bad. Unfortunately, I still overslept this morning…whoops!

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Thanks for reading such a long post, and letting me open up about such a sensitive and difficult issue in my life. You guys are amazing!!

September 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm 6 comments

A weighty issue and adventures in working from home

Hey dudes! I’m here! I’m alive!

peaceful times in WI

I’m sorry I haven’t updated recently. I haven’t really had the time or inspiration to sit down and write anything worthwhile, and I would rather not update at all that post some half-assed recap of the boring things going on in my life. Unfortunately, I’m worried that is exactly what is going to happen now, but I’ll try to have a point! I promise!

Ali just tweeted me with some nice words and it occurred to me that I should probably put some of the love back out into the blog world, cause that’s how it works, right?

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On that note, Ali has been having a shitty week. Please combine all of your fabulous mental powers and send a million good thoughts her way, and then some. Someone as sweet, funny, interesting, motivated, strong and all-around wonderful as Ali doesn’t deserve bad stuff coming her way — I have serious faith that she will ninja kick whatever crap is going on in the face and never turn back, ’cause that’s the kind of badass chick she is. Much love to you, Ali!

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Well guys, it’s time to be frank. I have lost my workout mojo. And when that happens, my healthy eating mojo tries to sneak out the back door too.

My pseudo kinda-sorta low-grade knee injury has totally interfered with my running to the point where it can be excruciating to jog across the street to catch the bus. This is extremely disheartening, because I was just starting to feel like I was discovering a new part of myself through running — the total badass, inner fit-chick that was ready to tell my muffin top to take a hike.

I’ve all but stopped running, and I’m sort of depressed about it. I’m also supposed to run a 5k on Sunday, and having not really trained since my last 5k, I’m terrified that I’m not going to be able to do it. I feel like a failure.

hahah -- my ridiculous sad face

I’ve also fallen on my face and skinned my knee — TWICE — in the exact same spot on my knee. The first time was when I was out a few weeks ago with some friends that were visiting (alcohol was involved), the second was exactly four weeks later, just as it was finishing healing, within TWO BLOCKS of where I had fallen the first time. Alcohol was not involved the second time around, but it was after a seriously lame first date. This time, though, I scraped it even worse. I’m having trouble bending my knee because the scab is so huge, and I must have bruised the bone/joint pretty badly because running, bending it or anything similar really hurts. AWESOME.

Have I mentioned that I am a gigantic klutz? Here’s some evidence from college, when a friend and I were goofing around and both tripped, sending her head flying into our coffee table. I still can’t believe someone snapped this picture.

ridiculous

Yeah, I’m sure you can guess which one is me. That face I’m making is pretty priceless. The next day, she came into my room (we were roommates) and ask me if she had fallen. I started laughing and showed her the picture. She was like OH! I was wondering why I had a bruise on my forehead! Thankfully she was okay, hahaha….oh boy. College.

KLASSY times, my friends

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ANYWHO. I have been feeling like a lazy POS. I have been eating things like pad thai and pizza. And even though my self-control regarding drinking has actually been quite good, I’ve still been having one or two throughout the week. I know that’s not bad at all, but when you’re trying to cut back calories, those extra beer cals are just not necessary.

cheers!

I need to kick my ass back in shape and stop being a wimp.

For a little extra motivation, I picked this guy up from Amazon:

source: Amazon

I’m not a fan of dieting at all, but one of the things that attracted me to this book (and Look Better Naked) was that it promotes a healthy type of eating that you can sustain (or at least sustain some form of it) for the rest of your life. I am never going to be a girl that eats rice cakes for dinner. I like food. But I have a problem with how much food, and knowing the difference between occasional indulgences and eating Thai food and/or pizza for dinner 3 times per week. I need to work on this, so I’m hoping this book can at least be a helpful guide — I don’t plan on following any sort of diet 100%, as that is just not me.

——

I’m working from home today because I haven’t felt well (allergies? congestion? I hope it’s not the beginnings of a cold) and had an interesting break in the day when I started to hear noises coming from my (otherwise very quiet) courtyard. I realized that two of my male neighbors were having VERY LOUD sex. Oh man.

bahahahah. I just realized what an awesome pun that was. Get it? Oh man?

But yeah — LOTS of grunting and groaning. It was pretty hilarious at first, but after awhile I was like AHHHHH this is getting kind of gross and I am trying to work. Trust me, when it comes to getting it on, I am all about it — good for those dudes for getting some “afternoon delight” — but when I start to hear very specific body parts slapping against other very specific body parts, it starts to distract me from work. So I shouted, “CLOSE YOUR WINDOWS!!!” into the courtyard and sure enough, the noises stopped! But not before I called my friend Kati and held up the phone to the window so she could hear and giggle with me first. Hahaha. I am so mature.

——

Time to finish up my work and possibly try to go for a short run to see how the knee is doing. I’m really worried that if it’s still hurting as badly as it was, I’m not going to be able to run on Sunday, and my $40 bucks is going to go to waste. I know it’s nothing to be ashamed of to back out of a race because of an injury, but it’s certainly nothing to get excited about either.

Do any of you have any experience with this situation? I’d love to hear.

Ciao!

September 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm 7 comments

Last weekend of August recap – sadface!

Hi lovelies!

I hope you had a great weekend. I’m exhausted after mine, even though it wasn’t too crazy. There wasn’t any gay Twister involved.

The weather in Chicago has been breathtakingly beautiful lately…it’s almost comical. You wake up every day and it’s sunny, 78 and breezy. What is going on?? I don’t want this to end!

On that note, I can’t believe it’s almost September. Holy crap. Where did the summer go?!?

I spent the weekend with my friend in distress, hoping to cheer her up even the tiniest bit. I think it helped, but it still feels horrible to see a close friend hurting so badly. We spent Friday night out in the suburbs where she was playing guitar and singing in a benefit concert. A bunch of our friends came out to watch and I saw some old friends/teachers/acquaintances, which was mostly fun. I saw a few people that I had no interest in ever seeing again after high school as well, but eh — what are you going to do?

We picked up some beer after the concert and headed back to my friend’s mom’s house, where we used to hang out all the time in high school. We even drank in the same spot we used to sneak booze into way back in the day when we were rebellious teenagers, hahaha — it was such a goofy flashback! Talk about memory lane.

Saturday I spent the day with her for her birthday. I was invited to her grandparents’ house for an old school Italian home-cooked meal, which was amazing. I didn’t want to be rude and snap pictures, but her grandmother made roasted peppers, tomato + cuke salad, roasted lamb, and fried green tomatoes. The best part was that it was all fresh from their garden!!! What a treat! The meal ended on a perfect note with coffee, presents and cake. I hope it made her rough week a little better.

 

After our wonderful meal, I had to leave to go to my company’s summer picnic. I had high hopes for it, but it turned out to be somewhat of a bust. I know you’re probably like “Duhhh — all company picnics are lame!” But I work for a pretty neat company, so I expected more! Oh well…it was a nice excuse to be outside and sip a free beer! I was pretty stuffed from the birthday lunch, but I managed to nibble on a few bites of a veggie burger (not very good, so I tossed it) and a hot dog (same), plus some pasta salad (mediocre, but over oily. I ate it anyway, which I wish I hadn’t). I felt pretty overly full afterward, and wanted to get in some walking, so I decided to head to the Sprint store to get my sporadically functioning phone fixed. I got off the bus about a mile from where it was and walked the rest of the way, which felt pretty good after so much food.

Too bad I had to sit in the freaking Sprint store for two and a half hours. Argh. I could feel myself getting worked up and frustrated, so I had to keep reminding myself to adjust my attitude…

There is this crazily cheerful bus driver I encounter on my way to work about once per week, and he is always shouting cheerful “mantras” at passengers on the ride (silly, I know) — but often they actually can make a difference. One of his favorites is, “Don’t expect good things to happen if you’re walking around with negative thoughts. Adjust your attitude and keep things positive, and the good stuff will come.”

I find this such a refreshing and inspiring thought. Isn’t it crazy how just saying things like that can make them come true? Walking around with a scowl on my face is not going to bring any positive energy my way, no matter how bad of a day I’m having. When I normally get off the bus for work, I’m already irritated because my stop is one of the most tourist-heavy spots in Chicago. There are out of towners everywhere, which can make it frustrating when you’re trying to hurry and people aren’t paying attention because they’re walking while looking up at the buildings (this is how us “natives” spot you!) or asking me to take pictures of them. But instead of being irritated, I should be thankful that I get to walk past such a beautiful and picturesque spot every day. BAM! Attitude adjusted!

Anywho, I had to keep that kind of thinking going to get myself through 2.5 hours of phone-service hell. I think the issue was finally resolved, but considering how my phone has worked so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if it acted up again. Only time will tell I suppose!

After the phone store marathon, I headed back up to my friend’s for BFF duties, armed with red wine and pizza. We stayed up late talking, goofing around and watching a movie, and I ended up staying over.

We had brunch Sunday, and I rolled with the classic eggs, hash browns, toast bacon. It was greasy as all hell, but pretty tasty. The “toast” they gave us was actually brioche bread, which was super sweet. It’s definitely not something I would order on my own (I don’t like sweets too much), but it was a nice change of pace.

 

source: That Dog's Blog

 

By the time I got home, I actually felt ill from being so exhausted and having not been home since Friday morning for more than an hour. I canceled the rest of my plans for the day in favor of resting and going for a loooonnnnnng walk. My knee has still been feeling very finicky, so I nixed the idea for a run in favor of a longer walk, and turned on an audiobook to entertain me. My route went over to the lake and all the way down past Belmont harbor and back around, which ended up being a little over 3 miles. The best part of the walk by far, though, was the fact that I saw a rap video being filmed in front of the lake. Like, this kind of rap video:

 

I wish I had brought my phone along with me to snap a picture. Needless to say, it was hilarious and incredibly ridiculous.

The rest of the night was spent grocery shopping, cleaning and watching True Blood. I stayed up way later than I should have because my sleep schedule is all wonky, and now I’m exhausted. Need to get back on track!

Catch ya later!

August 29, 2011 at 12:23 pm 3 comments

Mixed feelings on yoga + protein brownie

Oooohhhhhhhhhh, why hello there.

Yes, I know it’s been awhile. I’m sorry!

Forgive me?

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I was in a bit of a rut for awhile, you see. With the increasing pain in my right knee, my runs were becoming more painful and less frequent. This was not only frustrating, but also disheartening. I was feeling my motivation starting to wane as the possibility of running slipped farther and farther away, and other things just sort of followed suit.

Bleh.

So I decided to do something about it, and took my sorry ass to the physical therapist’s office. She had me explain my symptoms (excruciating right knee pain during lunges, squats, and going up or down stairs), history of pain (patellofemoral pain diagnosed at 12, brief physical therapy followed, nothing since) and then watched as I walked, skipped, tip-toed and heel-walked (??) back and forth a few times.

The results? Apparently my right leg is functionally shorter than my left, causing me to favor it and tilt my hips to compensate for the height difference. This makes soooo much sense, as I have always had a feeling that something was a little “off” about my gait. She did some stretching, some pulling, some general moving body parts around, then had me do some exercises to strengthen both my hips and my gluteus medius muscles.

I am very, very excited to continue with this and hopefully get to a pain-free place soon!

——

I went to yoga tonight. To be honest…I’m just not sure I’m ever going to like yoga. I know it’s good for me. I know it relieves stress, improves flexibility and strengthens my body. But I can’t help but find myself thinking, during every damn downward dog, “This suuuuuuucckkkkksss.” Am I crazy? Amy I the only person whose wrists hurt after the third sun salutation? Who looks at the clock on the wall with dread after seeing that there are still 30 minutes left? Parts of the class feel good (I love Warrior 2), but other parts just make me want to curl into a ball.

Oh wait — isn’t that a yoga pose too?

source: Your Yoga Place

Anyway, I decided to go today since my knee is still hurting, but I was really craving some movement for my body. I’m glad I went. It felt great to challenge myself (my balance sucks) and even better to successfully finish the class with only a few minor adjustments from the instructor. I might go again, but for now, I still have pretty mixed feelings on yoga.

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To combat the food rut, I hit up Trader Joe’s Monday night. Oh. My. Goodness. $111 later, let’s just say that opening up the fridge and pantry is a very exciting event right now. I’ll share some of the loot in a later post, but trust — it is good.

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With the aforementioned loot, I decided I wanted to get creative for dinner tonight. And so I did — and then some. Y’all, I made homemade pesto. This stuff was so good that I nearly went weak in the knees. In fact, I’m getting a little tingly just thinking about it. But because I’m too lazy to upload the pictures right now I like keeping you in suspense, the recipe will have to go up in an upcoming post as well. It’s super easy, and super GREEN. Oh my goodness.

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For now, you’re just going to have to settle with an ooey, gooey, high protein, single-serving brownie. I know — life is tough.

Start with a few simple ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup pureed pumpkin (can sub applesauce)
  • 2 T rolled oats
  • 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 scoop protein of choice (this is optional; I used chocolate sun warrior)
  • 1 egg (can sub flax egg)
  • sweetener of choice (I use 1 packet stevia)
  • 5-10 dark chocolate chips.
Whisk egg in a bowl with a fork and add cocoa powder; mix again. Next add pumpkin and stir, then add in oats, protein powder and stevia. Spray a mug or a small bowl with a little bit of Pam spray, then pour in mixture. Stick chocolate chips into the batter, making sure to push them under the surface in different spots. Microwave for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes. Top with maple syrup and devour straight out of the bowl while still hot and gooey. Smile and revel in the deliciousness.
This isn’t super low-cal, but it’s simple, wholesome and packs a great dose of protein for either a mini-meal (for those of you that do that) or a post-run/gym snack. Make this. Right now. You will be hooked — I sure was :D
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I’m hitting the sack, and hopefully preparing for a short trip to the beach tomorrow afternoon for a mid-workday break! Goodnight!

August 2, 2011 at 11:11 pm 9 comments

Fire + ice

Good lord, has it been hot in Chicago lately. I have taken to wearing either next to nothing (while at home only, of course), or workout/wicking clothes most of the time because it’s literally like an oven outside this week. Yesterday’s heat-inspired outfit at least looked somewhat put-together:

I feel like my head looks awkwardly huge here…but yeah, that’s my new Lululemon CRB (cool racerback), a hat to cover up the major sweaties/greasies and some cool, comfy LOFT shorts. Flip flops were obviously worn as well.

This was worn as a work from home outfit, but my working was intended to be at the Caribou nearby. Unfortunately, I got there and paid for a drink before finding out that their WiFi wasn’t working! I feel like that is kind of a big deal for a coffee shop where people sit around and work, so I was pretty annoyed that they didn’t have some sort of sign up or something. Small potatoes, but still. Hmph.

I decided to just go back home and finish my work there. I had rented a Zipcar at 6 o’clock to run some errands, so I didn’t want to waste time walking around to another coffee shop when my apartment was much closer. Still though, I hate being cooped up inside all day. At least it was a good day to hide out in the AC.

It was also a beautiful night for colors in the sky.

Isn’t that incredible? I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it looked at dusk.

Even though I have AC in my apartment and it stays pretty cool because it’s so small, I haven’t wanted to use the oven at all — something about hot food or standing over a steamy pot just makes me want to gag. Tuesday night, I made an Amy’s frozen veggie lasagna that was actually really good. I can’t remember what I ate on the side, but it was some sort of vegetable….

The portion size seemed just right (enough to feel slightly indulgent and filling, but not too huge where it was overly filling or had too many calories). The veggie filling was also nicely bulked up, and while I would have preferred whole wheat pasta, the organic ingredient list was nice. I highly recommend it!

Last night, I went all cold and picked up some sesame tofu (marinated but I don’t think they were fried) from the Whole Foods prepared foods case. For some reason I don’t really like the way sesame oil smells, even though I like how it tastes, so the smell kind of put me off and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m so glad I tried it though — it was AMAZING!

(Sorry for all the crappy camera phone pics). I know this doesn’t look like much, but I promise it was delicious. If you see these, definitely give them a try! I also picked up a lemon-lime Zevia because I was craving soda. To continue with the no-cook theme, I made another massaged raw kale salad. This time, it was just kale, olive oil, sea salt, white balsamic vinegar and garlic powder. I topped it with grape tomatoes.

I love how easy this is to make, plus I feel like I’m eating superfood when I make it (I guess I am!). It’s perfect for hot nights.

So this morning, I finally got to see my doctor regarding the knee pain I’ve been experiencing. I’ve had knee problems for a long time, but they’ve never really interfered with my life like they have been doing lately. I know it’s in part due to my increased running, but I know that that’s just what intensified the problem, not what caused it.

I got up early to work from home for an hour or so, then headed out to see the doc before going into work. My doctor confirmed my suspicions in that it’s not my IT band and likely not my actual knee that’s causing the problem, but it’s actually “further upstream” in my hip. My right hip is tighter and slightly higher up than my left, causing a misalignment and subsequent knee pain. Some physical therapy focusing on hip stabilizing and strengthening, as well as strengthening my gluteus med muscles, should really help, so she wrote me a scrip. I can’t wait!

Doesn’t she have such nice handwriting for a doctor? I seriously love my doc — she is a D.O. as well as a licensed clinical social worker, and puts a lot of focus on holistic health, and always recommends natural and healthy alternatives like yoga, whole foods and natural supplements. Please let me know if you live in Chicago and would like a recommendation! I can’t speak highly enough about her!

When I got to work, I had not one, but two Amazon packages waiting for me. I seriously have a problem! I worry someone is going to nominate me for Hoarders soon…

One item was super-relevant to the doctor’s orders today.

She told me I need to be icing both sides of my knee for 15 minutes every day, twice a day (wow!) so I’m glad this came in the mail. I know I can use frozen peas, but it will be nice to have at least one “real” ice pack since I don’t have any. I still got a bunch of other stuff too though.

I know, I’m insane. Look at all those boxes! But I got some fun goodies, including:

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a book I’ve been wanting to read forever
  • A kitchen scale which will not only be useful for cooking/baking (weight is much more reliable than volume), but also occasional portion checking
  • A 4-pack of dark chocolate roasted almonds that were WAY cheaper than at the store. Can keep some at work for afternoon snacks, some in gym bag, some at home!
  • A (not pictured) locking glass shaker bottle that I will use for transporting smoothies!
  • Another fun surprise that will be revealed soon!

Love. Love love love love love. This is a clear case of the wild hair syndrome, but whatever – I know I will use all this stuff, and I am really jazzed about the new book. I’m also super excited that Mel offered to lend me her Hunger Games books! Thanks, Mel!! :)

Just for fun, here are a few more 5k pictures.

This was my post-race brunch:

Not sure if I remembered to mention the bacon in that brunch or not, haha.

cutie-pie Amy

Amy's face describes exactly how we felt at the end

anguish!

I am going to get back to work, but I hope you are all having a wonderful day and aren’t melting in this heat. I’m going to try to make it to the gym tonight as my knee is finally feeling a little better, but I’m still wary of busting it up even more. See ya!

July 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm 7 comments

Candy + My Second 5k

I wanted some candy the other day, so I busted out my candy bowl.

My kind of candy doesn’t look like most candy, though.

There is just something about a big bowl of fruit that makes me smile :D

Oh, hey — you know what else makes me happy? Did I mention I ran my second 5k on Saturday?

It was H-O-T outside that morning, oh my. The race started at 7:30 and it was already at least a good 80 degrees out. I ran with Amy again this time around, which again was such a wonderful part of the experience. We seem to be able to push each other at just the right times and in the right ways — she likes to go faster than I do, and I tend to take fewer breaks, so with that push and pull, we do better together than I think we would apart.

We pushed through the first mile without stopping, but needed a break soon after that because it was so hot out and we were both needing a break. There was an air quality alert over the whole weekend, so the air felt very thick and smoggy — blegh, not the best weather for running.

Thankfully this time around, I had a new tool in my arsenal…

please excuse the scary post-gym look I have goin' on

That’s right — I got a Garmin!!! I feel like a total poseur wearing this behemoth around, but it really motivates me to see my pace while I’m running, and pushes me to kick it up a notch when I slow down. It also really surprised me to see how fast I run when I’m on the road and not on the treadmill!

After working my way up to faster and longer runs for months and months at the gym, I can actually keep a pretty decent pace — for me, that is (I am in no way fast, and probably never will be). I had always thought I was much, much slower out on the road though, so it really surprised me to see that my pace wasn’t that far off when I took the Garmin out on its first run the other night. It’s still not as fast as I am on the treadmill, of course, and I need to take more frequent jogging or walking intervals, but I don’t suck as much as I thought I did! Who knew!

So back to the 5k — the Garmin helped keep us from taking off too quickly after our walking intervals, which was important because again — IT WAS HOT AS HELL OUTSIDE. There was a decent breeze, but the sun was really just beating down. The distance indicator was what really helped, because for whatever reason, there didn’t seem to be a 2 mile marker! When you’re new to doing races, that 2nd mile mark is a really important motivator.

Even though we stopped at the water station almost at the start of the second mile, Amy and I started to feel a little lightheaded and she even said she started to shiver by the end of the second mile, so we really had to step it down a notch which was somewhat disappointing to both of us. Before the race started we had both said we wanted to beat our last time, but would still be thrilled just to finish. At this point, we were both saying how glad we were that we hadn’t committed ourselves to beating the first time, haha.

A few walking breaks and lots of back-and-forth inspirational yelling, we got about halfway through the second mile and really started to slow down.

On a side note: Amy kept thinking I was saying, “You’re doing great” when I was actually saying “We’re doing great!” which cracked me up because had I said “you’re,” I think it would have sounded so condescending! If anything, she is a better runner than I am!

This was where the people started lining up along the course and were cheering us on, which as I explained after my last/first 5k, meant the world to me. I wanted to hop over and kiss them, I was so grateful!!

Unfortunately, there was also a huge soccer game or some sort of event going on, so at certain points around the course, we would pass a big tent of people grilling hot dogs and burgers. Seriously, guys — when you’re hauling your semi-out-of-shape ass through the last leg of your second ever race at 7:45 in the morning in 90 degree heat, the absolute last thing you want to smell is a friggin’ smoking piece of meat. I kind of wanted to vom.

I did, however, enjoy the smell of meat at SausageFest

When we finally got to 2.75 mi, we started to perk up again, and then — like magic, we passed a setup where a group of people were playing Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry, and as we were passing them, we heard, “Go, go go go Johnny, go!” Amy and I both got huge grins on our faces and got ready to finish strong. Even though we were huffing and puffing and feeling like we were going to absolutely die, we ran our fastest to the finish line.

And then, we immediately collapsed onto the ground.

They had medical personnel ready at the finish because it was so hot, and they also had fan/misting stations and tons of water and ice waiting. Amy and I both said we felt like we might puke or pass out (not really, but kinda….), so we grabbed some water and just sat immediately to catch our breath. We must have really looked like we were in bad shape, because some guy ran over and asked if we were okay. We half panted, half answered him yes, but apparently didn’t sound very convincing, because he asked us again! Haha. Had I had the energy, I would have laughed, but all I could do was chug water and, you know..not die.

He offered to grab us popsicles, which we gladly accepted, so after he bolted in the other direction and returned shortly after with the 911-popsicles, we hoisted ourselves up and found some shade to cool off. Amy’s temporary roommate (who is from Paris!!! How neat!) was nice enough to come out and cheer us on, so she joined us for a popsicle and some post-race treats as well. The poor girl had to sit there and watch us pant like overheated dogs though! Hah.

Estelle, Amy and me

Aren’t our pink race shirts fun?

I still can’t believe how sweaty we were! Holy unflattering picture.

sweaty beasts

I am so, so glad I bought that visor last week; it really helped to keep both the sun and sweat out of my eyes, and it’s from my favorite brand — Mizuno!

We walked around for a bit and took in the post-race sights and goodies. I stopped at the New Balance tent where the guy on staff told me I desperately need physical therapy because my glute meds are insanely weak. He was super attractive and was sitting there telling me that my butt muscles were inadequate. This was sooo awkward.

When I finally got home around 10, I immediately hopped into an ice cold shower and rinsed off, then climbed into my bed and positioned myself directly next to the air conditioner. After sleeping for a good hour and 45 minutes, I climbed out of bed and made myself the perfect post-race treat: a Fitnessista Green-a-colada!

Into the blender went Fage 0%, unsweetened original PureAlmond, a stevia packet, unsweetened organic shredded coconut, frozen pineapple chunks, frozen mango chunks, vanilla SunWarrior and a big ol’ handful of spinach. It was so insanely tasty I could barely contain my delight. I totally slurped this bad boy down. What do you think of that color? Gross or delectable?

After some putzing around the apartment, I cleaned up a bit then met up with my sister-in-law Lisa and my friend Allison for brunch around noon. We hit up Jack’s on Halsted and I feasted on 2 poached eggs, a piece of whole wheat toast, some fruit and some breakfast potatoes. I also snuck a few of Allison’s fries, and treated myself with a victory mimosa :) I earned it!

Allison and I wandered around DSW for a bit after to escape the intense midday heat, and I walked outta there with two pairs of shoes! One was a pair of sandals that were on clearance that I have already worn three times. The other was a pair of Saucony running shoes that I thought were great in the store, but I realized after testing them on the treadmill that they don’t provide the cushioning/shock absorption I need on my forefoot, so they will have to be returned. I’m not at the point in my running yet where I can run in a minimalist shoe, so the bouncier, the better!

Because I am out of my mind, I went home, changed, and went to the gym! I had so much energy after the 5k and nap that I really wanted to hit the treadmill and do some body resistance exercises. Probably not the smartest choice, but oh well. I only did about two miles and kept it really leisurely on the recumbent bike while reading Redbook. The real magic happened when I did some glute med-isolating exercises, per Mr. Sexy New Balance Man’s instructions, and then some serious foam roller torture therapy. My IT band was obscenely tight, as were my hips, so I could tell it was desperately needed. I took my time and stretched after, and felt immensely better. I think that’s why I’m not really sore today.

Thankfully, this guy arrived in the mail while I was at work today:

That’s a Tiger Tail! I got one per Tina’s recommendation so I can foam roll in-between gym visits, and I’m so glad I did. It can’t quite match up to the giant foam rollers they have at the gym, but I just don’t have the space for one of those right now, so this works great. As a bonus, it works on my neck and shoulders, which feels like a great, deep-tissue massage!!

After the gym yesterday, I made a nourishing meal that my body was really craving.

Salmon! I defrosted a wild Alaskan salmon filet from Whole Foods while I was at the gym, then when I got back, I preheated the oven to 375 and heated up a skillet. After warming up some Pam spray, I seared both sides of the filet for about 30 seconds, then popped it into the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Before putting it into the oven, though, I crushed some black pepper and sea salt on both sides, then topped it with a simple lemon butter sauce:

  • 1T butter, melted
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt + pepper
  • 1T honey
It was sooooo tasty. I used about half of the sauce before cooking, and put the rest on after. It made the salmon so flavorful and a little sweet, which really made it special.
The broccoli had some spritzed olive oil and a sprinkle of Pecorino cheese.

 

Well, this was a looong post and I need to get to bed and snuggle with a very impatient kitty. Keep your eyes peeled for a seriously sweet recipe on my next post…

Have a great night, and if you’re from Chicago, make sure to look at my Chicago Blogger Meetup post!

July 19, 2011 at 3:11 am 9 comments

Small goals + protein needs

Hi there!

I am a tired lady. My sleeping schedule is seriously out of whack at the moment…I’m finding myself staying up as late as I used to in college! Not that I’m too far out of college now or anything (I graduated in 2009), but since I’m now an “adult” and have an “adult job,” I have to be more responsible about getting a good night’s sleep so I can work hard. Last night I was up until at least 3…It wasn’t intentional, but I get such a burst of energy at night that I find it hard to imagine going to sleep when there are so many other things I could be doing!

Definitely drank a giant iced coffee this morning, made half and half with almond milk.

source: Tom and Lissie

Part of the reason I was up so late is that I worked from home yesterday and got a late start. I focused and worked hard, but it was one of those days where nothing was going right and I couldn’t get the answers I needed to get things done. It was very frustrating, so I ended up working later than I planned to try and get more done. I worked most of the day at Caribou, but this time only bought a large iced tea and brought lunch from home — a small turkey, goat cheese and avocado sandwich on whole wheat and a few strawberries (not pictured).

I finally got home and made dinner around 9, and stuck to a simple combo of whole wheat rigatoni, marinara sauce, pecorino cheese, a Trader Joe’s chicken sausage and some asparagus on the side. It was simple, hearty and delicious.

So as much as I hate doing so, I have gotten back on the calorie tracking bandwagon. I am by no means obsessive about counting calories (I think those people who know the count of every single food offhand are a little neurotic), but I’ve realized that it’s really important to help keep portion sizes in check and to make sure I’m not unknowingly going completely overboard with my daily intake. I know that I need to set small goals for myself in order to make continuous and long-lasting changes toward a healthier lifestyle.

It’s one thing to eat three slices of pizza for dinner — anyone with an ounce of sense knows that this is a caloric meal and, if they’re trying to watch their intake, can compensate to a pretty close balance. That’s not an issue for me. My problem is all the really healthy, nutritious, but calorically dense food that I eat. I love healthy food — I love seeing how many superfoods and nutrient-dense things I can pack into my day, and seeing the benefits both in how I look and feel (hello, glowing skin!). But things like nut butter, chia seeds, Greek yogurt, olive oil, avocado….all these things are very calorically dense. I love all of them, so after tracking my portions and calories very closely, I’ve realized that I usually eat more of these things than I need. Sure, I can balance it out with fewer calories from other things throughout the day, but I doubt I would be satisfied or full if I wanted to stick to the same intake goals.

My point is, as much as I despise calorie counting and feel that it can border on obsessive or disordered in some ways if you’re not careful, I think it’s an important tool that can be used periodically to help make sure you’re sticking to the nutrient and calorie intake that your body needs, but not more than your body needs. My problem isn’t too many cookies or chips — it’s the freakin’ avocado!

On a similar note, I’ve noticed that while tracking on Livestrong.com/The Daily Plate that I almost always go over the fiber and protein “nutrient goals” they set. Fiber didn’t faze me at all — lots of fiber is awesome and most people don’t get nearly enough. But the too much protein thing really surprised me! They’re suggesting I need only 41g per day which I don’t think is anywhere near enough (for health, satiety, muscles, etc), so I decided to look up how much protein I (& women in general) really need per day.

Health.com had a really useful tool that helped cut to the chase (I didn’t want to wade through a bunch of text):

via Health.com

As I suspected, I actually need more than twice as much protein as Livestrong initially told me. I’m guessing they just suggest the bare minimum since most people don’t get enough (or get far, far too much) protein, but I was still really surprised to see such a disparity. Interesting! Glad I have been making sure to get plenty and not listening to Mr. Armstrong ;)

One major accomplishment I made last night was finally setting up my wireless router. Even though I moved into my current apartment at the beginning of May, I neglected to set up a wireless connection for a variety of reasons, the main being laziness, but also because my apartment is very small. I could easily leave my laptop on my coffee table next to the modem I needed to plug it into, and it was never really a problem — just a slight annoyance, the biggest drawback being not being able to use my laptop in bed. I think overall that’s probably a good thing, but I suppose I’ll find out soon enough now that I have wireless!

Funnily enough, the only reason I couldn’t figure out how to set up the router was a faulty Ethernet cable! I thought I was going crazy or at the very least had lost my techie prowess because I couldn’t figure out this silly router for the life of me (it was used, but handed over by my parents so still in great condition). As it turned out though, the cord they included was just busted. As soon as I tried a new one (why didn’t I think of that sooner!) and followed the simple steps on the LinkSys website, I was up and running in no time! Hallelujah!

Another major accomplishment last night was making my first protein muffin, the ones that Gina is always raving about! I wanted a dose of protein (how appropriate!) but also something dessert-y. I know I’m always saying I’m not a sweets person, but for some reason lately I’ve been craving sweets much more than usual. Maybe I’m just not a junk food, processed sugary crap type of person? Even as a kid, I thought Sour Patch Kids and gummi worms were disgusting; they always gave me stomach aches!

I did a pumpkin-chocolate combo for the muffin and it turned out delicious! It was almost like a brownie, but it also wasn’t very low-cal either…I’ll post pictures and the recipe I used later, but I have a feeling I’ll be experimenting with this recipe quite a bit going forward, tweaking it to at least make it the ultimate brownie!

I’m off to finish some work and eat my lunch, then I’m having dinner in Little Italy with my parents for my dad’s birthday! I cant’ wait! Due to the freezing AC in my building, lunch is a steamy cup of lentil veggie soup (in my favorite mug!) and a cold, crunchy salad. I also brought a cup of tasty fruit that I cut up. Have a great day!

July 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm 10 comments

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