Friday, June 01, 2012
Hey SparkPeeps. Today is Friday, which is all well and good. But tomorrow...tomorrow is the BEST day. Farmer's Market Day!
If you have a Farmer's Market in your town and haven't had a chance to check it out, I highly recommend it. Everything's fresh and delicious and a lot of it is organic too.
You might be surprised at what you can find there too. It's not all fruits and veggies. In fact, my favorite indulgences - and my very first purchases every week - include a fresh roasted cup of Egyptian coffee and a delicious asparagus egg tart or a homemade tamale with fresh green mole sauce. With deliciousness in tow, I begin my leisurely Saturday morning by taking one "lap" around to look at all the goods. Then, second time around, decide which items to purchase and take home.
Here are my Top 5 Farmer's Market finds - most of these I buy weekly. Because they are just SO good!
1. Spring Mix
I will admit...I have a special "salad guy". I don't know what it is about his spring mix, but I bought it one time last year and it was the most delicious and flavorful salad I've ever had! I'm talking JUST the green portion. After that one time, he never appeared again for the rest of the summer and I whined to my Farmer's Market Buddy, Christina, every single week, "WHERE is my salad guy???"
2. Heirloom Tomatoes
These sometimes look weird, color-wise. But they are delicious. There is just nothing like a fresh, Farmer's Market tomato. Well, maybe home grown...but if you don't have the discipline to garden (like me), Farmer's Market is your next best bet.
3. Green Onions
Green onions are standard and they are cheap in the grocery store. But you have never seen green onions like they have at the local market. They are, in my opinion, one of the best subtle ways to flavor a salad or really any sort of food. They are particularly great in eggs!
4. Goat Cheese
One of my favorite booths at the market is the goat cheese booth. There are at least 10 samples of different sorts of goat cheese, including CHOCOLATE (which actually tastes like chocolate cream cheese). So delicious! My personal favorite is garlic and herb. This stuff is pricey, but a wonderful splurge every so often.
5. Grass-Fed Beef*
*apologies to vegetarians if this grosses you out!
Just as I have my "salad guy", I also have my "meat guy". This farmer raises his cattle as grass-fed all the way up until just a couple weeks before slaughter and then finishes them off with corn. I simply can't say enough about his products. Absolutely the most delicious beef I have ever bought anywhere...hands down. And, while it seems expensive, when I actually compare it to grocery store prices, it's not too different. But, you know, steak is pricey...so it's maybe an every few weeks indulgence. The best part of this is that this farmer knows me and he knows what I like. He makes recommendations, but he always has my tried and true New York Strip ready when I walk up. That kind of service is priceless.
Anyone else have favorite Farmer's Market finds? I'm always up for trying something new!
Thursday, May 31, 2012
If you've been hanging around my SparkPage lately (I'm sure there are LEGIONS of you that have! pssshh), you may have noticed a couple changes recently. I'm not talking about my weight loss ticker or all the pics I keep posting (although, those are great and very motivational...I highly recommend checking them out!) Last night, I changed my "About Me" section to reflect my upcoming races. I've seen this on many pages of runners and tri athletes alike and I liked the idea of throwing my intentions out there for the world to see and keep me accountable.
More subtly, you might have noticed that, in this list of races, there are 3 half marathons...the first of which is MUCH earlier than I originally planned. Yeah, you're right if you're thinking to yourself, "Didn't you just run your first 5k ever?" Yep.
So, here's the explanation. I had signed up for a few 5k races over the next 6 months or so. But it was recommended by my trainer that I work up to at least 10k endurance at my own pace, but as soon as my body allows...to prepare for the Indy Mini next year in May. Last night I went online to see if I could maybe find some 10k races around me in the midwest, so I could gain that valuable race experience before going straight from a 5k into a half marathon.
And then it happened. I stumbled upon the MOST perfect half marathon for me. The Purdue Boilermaker Half Marathon on October 20th. I sat there and stared for what seemed like half an hour. My heart was a-flutter. Why? Because this is my alma mater. I haven't been back in years. I have so many special memories of my time at Purdue and the very thought of my first big race being on that hallowed ground...it literally almost brought tears to my eyes. There really wasn't any other choice. When I saw it, I thought, "I HAVE to do this." And that was that.
Once I realized that the training plan for a half is about 15 weeks long and that I'd need to put that training plan into effect literally...like next week, things suddenly got VERY serious. I have plugged in every single run and crosstraining day in my calendar from now until October. I'm not messing around, y'all. I refuse to go into that race unprepared and out of shape. I know racing isn't for everyone...but, for me, this is a sure way to keep me on track with my fitness goals and also, in large part, my nutrition goals as well.
In fact, this very morning, I was pretty angry at that alarm for having the nerve to go off so stinkin' early. Of COURSE the thought ran through my head that no one was holding a gun to my head and forcing me to go for a run today. But, right on that thought's heels came another..."Someone WILL be holding a gun on October 20th to start a 13.1 mile race that YOU have said you want to do. So...maybe you should get up and just do it."
Well...wouldn't you know? I got up.
And found I'd lost another pound. And set a personal best 5k time at 41:49. This was not an easy run. I had some stomach issues about halfway through, but I am rather proud to say that I ran the entire first half of that 5k without stopping. That's a big deal for me. It staggers me that my endurance has built up so quickly (literally about 6 weeks ago, I could barely run a 1.5 minute interval). This run this morning was really tough near the end...the last half mile was just sheer determination. But my gosh...I wanted to beat that 5k time from my race last Saturday and I was gonna do it, come hell or high water or the most miserable blister forming on my left heel. I pushed my body hard today.
And I feel amazing! I know a lot of non-runners that HATE running (ha...I was one for YEARS). They look at me like I'm insane and I know they think, "WHY are you doing this?"
[Warning: TMI alert. Stop here if you are overly-senstive]
1. Obviously, endorphin rush is pretty amazing. I'm gonna be honest and say that I do think it's better than an orgasm...because...the feeling lasts ALL DAY LONG. And that's pretty powerful as a motivator.
2. I thought about my Aunt Lois this morning, as I drew a deep breath in and felt my lungs expand...so clear and strong. I literally watched her die as she drowned in her own lung fluid. I don't mean to be crass, but I know that she would want me to take care of these lungs. And to use them to their full capacity...to enjoy life with my breath every day.
3. My legs feel INCREDIBLE. They aren't lookin' too shabby these days, either. *wink* After the injuries that I've seen...the strength that I feel just walking upright is inexplicable.
4. My entire body feels tighter...more compact and like it's finally all working together the way it SHOULD be.
5. My core is just about as fit as it's ever been. Crosstraining with weights, pilates, resistance band, jump rope and my own body weight have completely changed the way I carry myself physically and the level of exertion it takes to do so.
6. My heart. And I'm not talking about the one with blood vessels and chambers...although, that's working pretty nicely now too. There's a feeling of confidence that I've never experienced. Did you read that? NEVER...in my entire life. I have never loved myself, accepted my flaws, had faith that I could change the things about myself that aren't quite right...until now. When I say I'm a completely different person, I quite literally mean that.
And the most exciting part is...if all these things have happened and changed for me in just a short 6 weeks or so of running...what kind of a person will I be by the time I run that half marathon in October? I have no way of imagining it..but I can guarantee strength, confidence, joy and health.
And those are some pretty great guarantees.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I had a rather enlightening FB conversation this morning with my SparkBuddy, MARATHONDAD. This was the gist of it:
ME: Hungry for lunch at 9:30am. Bad sign.
MD: Remember - when you start running more, you need to add more calories to your diet or you will get tired. You dont want your body to go into starvation mode!!!
ME: I don't know how many to add and still maintain weight loss. I've been confused about that. I am meeting my daily SP calorie ranges. Shouldn't I just do that and whatever I burn running is for weight loss? I am a little confused.
MD: The best way I've found is to work out how many calories you are burning in a typical week. Then, enter that into your goals on workout page (in the settings). SP usually uses this information to adjust your daily calorie needs for you.
So, I went through my past two weeks of workouts and averaged how many calories I burned per week. Sure enough, there was an area under my Activity Goals in my fitness section where I could enter how many calories I burn in a week. When I went back to my Nutrition Tracker, my calorie totals had been adjusted.
THAT'S WHEN IT HIT ME. LIKE A 2x4 IN THE HEAD.
I've been doing this wrong for 3 months!!!! NO WONDER those last 5 lbs have been so stubborn! Even though my calorie range has been too low (with my increased activity from running), I have been going OVER on calories without knowing it.
Let me explain...
Let's say my calorie range in SP is 1320-1690 per day.
And let's say I go for a run and burn 400 calories.
So, here I've been thinking that I can eat up to 1690 calories PLUS an extra 400 calories (because I burned that running) and maintain weight.
BUT NO....NO NO NO. OF COURSE SPARKPEOPLE is integrated across pages!!! I JUST realized that the 1320-1690 is already reflecting the number of calories I anticipate on burning every week!
It's already included in my calorie range!!
Wow...I don't know about you, but that just blew my mind. Even though I only go over about 200 or 300 calories per day...that adds up. That explains the stall in weight loss and why it's seemed so slow, even with all my extra activity.
Maybe it's just me...but I figured I'd better share that tidbit in case anyone else was thinking the same way I was!!!!
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
As I usually do on Tuesday mornings, I set my alarm for 6am so I could get up and go running. I planned on a short 1.5-2 mile run, as my body is still somewhat recovering from my hilly 5k on Saturday. I didn't want to go too hard too fast and hurt myself. I was really quite thrilled about this run this morning because it would be my first since the race and I've kind of missed running (since Saturday...haha. Wow. WHO AM I?)
Imagine my dismay when I woke up to hear the rumblings of thunder. This is the first time since I started running that I've had any sort of roadblock, in terms of weather. I know...I've been pretty lucky! A full month without a drop of rain!
So, I laid in bed and played out all the excuses and rebuttals in my head...for the sake of this illustration, I will label my inner voices "Gollum" and "Smiegel" (yeeeaaah...you know what's up, LOTR fans!) OK, enough nerdiness.
GOLLUM: Can't run. Might as well sleep more.
SMIEGEL: But...I *could* get up and eat breakfast and maybe it will pass by 7am. Not tired anymore anyway.
GOLLUM: But you'll be late for work.
SMIEGEL: So what? I'm on salary and boss said I could run whenever I want during the day, as long as I get 40 hours in.
GOLLUM: You'll get all wet. Not worth it.
SMIEGEL: I miss running...it IS worth it. No one will be out there to see me. Eddie and Brenda ran a half marathon in pouring rain and strong winds on Sunday. Don't be a wuss.
GOLLUM/SMIEGEL: OK, I'm getting dressed.
Walked outside and got about 0.1 miles and almost got struck by lightning twice. TURN AROUND AND GO HOME. I'm not THAT crazy!
So, I was bummed, right? But I checked the hourly forecast for the day on my phone and saw that the rain would clear up around 8am or 9am. Then, return around 10am. Then, sunny until nighttime. BUT...when the sun came out, it would be 86 degrees and humid. So, if I ran after work, it would be MISERABLE.
So, here is the question...what does a real athlete do in this situation? The fact is...my boss is a runner. She completely understands this conundrum and she has flat out told me that I can take a run whenever I want, as long as I get my work done. I have a private office with a private bathroom. And, even though I share this office with a co-worker, she does most of her work from home and only comes in for meetings. So, it would be likely that I would have the entire office to myself all day.
It was still early.
Quickly ate breakfast, packed my running gear and headed off to work a half hour early. Mapped a run on campus and the minute that rain stopped, I set my phone to "Do Not Disturb" and got out there for my run. The temperature was PERFECT.
You know, it's a good thing I did this because I set a personal best for my mile time today. 13 minutes, which is right on track for my next goal - to run my June 9th 5k in 40 minutes or less.
Looking forward to Thursday's run, although the forecast calls for thunderstorms again. But, as we know now...that's not gonna stop me.
Will it stop you?
Monday, May 28, 2012
Good morning, Spark Friends! It occurs to me that some of us struggle with motivation to just get out the door and get our workouts done. So, today...you have no choice. We are getting up and going for a walk! I'm taking you to the trail where I run or walk about 4 miles between 3 and 4 times a week. It's 7am! Time to get up! You should feel lucky because I usually do this at 6am. You're welcome.
OK, so...out the front door and it's about a 3 minute brisk walk to the trail. On the way, you can hear about a thousand birds proclaiming the beauty of this day!
And, here we are!
Now, how could you not be filled with happiness when THIS is your first sight in the morning?
And, as if that weren't enough...this is your first view of our trail walk...at 6am, the fog is still rising off of this field.
What is that AMAZING smell?!
Honeysuckle! The trail is completely lined with it! Now, you're starting to feel kinda nice, aren't ya? Blood's flowing, legs moving.
Here's our first long stretch, with plenty of friends to say "good morning"!
Beauty everywhere...a pic is worth a thousand words.
And, if you're one of those house hunter types, there are plenty of beautiful homes to check out along the way too!
And, of course, we wouldn't be in Indiana without some farm paraphernalia.
Don't even ask me about this. I have no idea. I'm just hoping this is not some snide commentary on my weight.
There's a bridge coming up...know that that means?
Oooh! Our first Clear Creek sighting!!!
Coming up on the first of two rest areas. But don't even think about it...we are not stopping!
You can see Emmanuel Baptist Church off in the distance (that's where I vote!)
Crossing the street now...and another bridge. Are you feeling energized yet?
OK, we've gotta slow down a bit so I can show you this. The coolest part of the trail for kids and parents. One of the best things our city has ever done for physical fitness education!
I'm quite sure we could fit a game of hopscotch into our Fitness Tracker!
Ummmm....WHAT ARE YOU DOING???
We aren't stopping! GET UP and keep going!!! Just a little bit more...
Oh my, we've run out of trail!
What a bummer. Guess we'll have to turn around and walk back now. Congratulations, you've completed a 4.3 mile walk today. You don't think that was fun???
Let's do it again. Soon. And often. K?
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