Quick Tip: Store Natural Nut Butters Upside Down (updated 12/30/14)

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Mine was a bit, well

Meh

I’m usually smooth sailing emotions-wise, but was in a bit of a funk yesterday. Thankfully it only lasted a few hours, there were only a few tears shed, and then I was back to myself. Makes me feel grateful I don’t feel that way very often. There’s nothing major going on. It was just the weight of everything going on and thinking of the future can overwhelm me sometimes. All good now. Nothing a little homemade mocha can’t solve.

Homemade mocha

I haven’t shared a quick tip in a little while and thought it was high time—especially since I have my (hopefully not too) lengthy month-end goal report coming up this week.

I can’t take credit for this one at all. My friend told me she saw it on Pinterest (where else?) so I decided to give it a try. Low and behold, it works!

Teddie peanut butter upside down

Store you natural nut butters upside down! What a simple idea! Anyone who eats any kind of natural nut/soy/seed/etc. butter knows how oily it is at the top and then once you get to the bottom, it’s all dry and unusable. Not a huge problem in the big scheme of things, but a simple solution for a simple problem!

Peanut and sunflower butter upside down

My peanut and sunflower butters at work for my afternoon snack. Here’s what it looks like when you open it:

Sunflower butter upside down

All nice and perfectly mixed. And one of the best parts that’s a bit of a bonus? You kind of get a built-in serving size in the cover!

Sunflower butter cover upside down

Of course, most days I do reach for just a little bit more since that looks like a bit less than two tablespoons, dontchathink?

That’s all for today, folks. Short and sweet, just as I promised!

Update 12/30/14: I’ve found this works best on the glass jars with metal lids, such as the Teddie peanut butter shown above. While the plastic jars with plastic lids generally work, they do occasionally leak the oil all over the place. I haven’t figured out if it has to do with the material leading to occasional leaks or if I tend to not close them as tightly. So, proceed with caution!

Oh, except, this one’s for 2 Cups ‘N Run. I’ve left adequate space in case you don’t want to see the monstrosity that is my runner’s foot.

 

Fair warning.

 

Seriously–hope you’re not eating lunch.

 

Last chance to turn back!

 

Okay, you asked for it.

 

I present you with: Whole Health Hammer Toe

Hammer toe pointing

And just for good measure, the black toenail I got over a year and a half ago after a Warrior Dash.

Runner's toe_black toenail

 

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Friday Favorite: Almond Coconut Milk (Updated)

TGIF, amirite? In what has ended up being a week of sickness and recuperation, I’m happy to finally be on the other side! There’s nothing like feeling sick to make you grateful for just feeling normal.

Today’s favorite has made a regular appearance in my some of my food lately. I happened upon this when I was picking up my usual unsweetened almond milk.

Almond Coconut milk

Coconut is all the rage these days, partially thanks to the CrossFit/paleo community who are firm believers in the use of coconut oil even though it’s gotten a bad rap for having so much saturated fat. So why is it suddenly okay? Since about half of its saturated fat content is actually from medium-chain fatty acids, which are easier to digest than longer-chained ones, it’s not as harmful as we first thought. So not all saturated fat is created equal.

Coconut water is also a great source of electrolytes. I personally don’t love the taste of the ones I’ve tried and I don’t require electrolyte replacement right now, so I don’t drink it. I may revisit the idea once I amp up training and the heat and humidity return to Massachusetts, whenever that may be.

This combo contains coconut milk, however. Like coconut oil, it does contain a some fat. Let’s take a look at the label:

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Amond Coconut Milk Unsweetened nutrition

The fat content isn’t that bad, especially considering I use less than the serving size. One of these usually gets me closer to 8 servings. And there’s nothing wrong with fat in moderation! It keeps you full and is necessary for many things to happen in our bodies.

I want to point out that this isn’t the “cleanest” product out there. There are some added vitamins and other, shall we say, stuff. I would be better off buying an organic version. However, the way I look at it is this: I don’t use it that often and when I do, I don’t use that much. My diet is relatively clean most of the time, so I’m okay with using this. If I find a better, cleaner version in my travels I will buy that instead. It’s all about the amount of exposure over time.

Update: While I still stand by my statements above, I no longer purchase this product. I am now particularly wary of carrageenan, a thickener that comes from red seaweed. However, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill seaweed. For some reason our bodies see this as an invader and so mount a response against it, notably in the GI tract. It can cause inflammation, irritation, and possibly even cancer. If I happen to eat one thing once in a while with this, again, I’m not going to freak out. But since I have almond milk 1-2 times a week, I think I’ll stick to the Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk.

Almond Coconut Milk Smoothie

Delicious in smoothies

The reason I really like this product is, as I said above, it contains some fat. Regular almond milk doesn’t contain much of anything, so this has more umph to it. Why this and not organic cow’s milk? I feel it mixes better into smoothies and I don’t mind that it has a slightly lower calorie content. Plus, I eat a decent amount of dairy and like to mix it up. I don’t like using water in smoothies because there’s nothing to it, and I don’t like using cow’s milk because, well, mixing milk with raw spinach just doesn’t do it for me. Almond coconut milk has more presence than water, but not so much as cow’s milk.

Why not soy milk? I avoid soy as much as possible because it’s an endocrine disruptor, a goitrogen (and therefore messes with my already underactive thyroid) and most soy in this country is genetically modified (a Frankenfood!) and in a ton of items we don’t even realize (thus, the cleaner you eat, the more you can avoid it). Okay, I’m done with my little lecture.

What else do I use it in? My oatmeal, for a little extra something-something.

Oatmeal with almonds, maple syrup, almond coconut milk

And I also do a 50/50 mix with cow’s milk in my Not Your Sugar Mama’s Be Cozy hot chocolate.

Not Your Sugar Mama's Hot Chocolate with cow and almond coconut milk

 

Questions: What form (if any) of milk do you consume? What’s your feeling on the coconut rage–love it, over it, or don’t really care?

Have a great weekend!

*I apologize for the size of the pictures. It seems that WordPress changed some options and I haven’t yet figured out why I can’t edit them as much as I could before. Perhaps it’s time to change to a self-hosted site so I have more options? Does anyone have a particular one they suggest?

Sick Day

I am currently on my couch nursing something not so fun. Sinus pressure/pain, slight earache, headache, slight fever. Fun times! I was lucky enough to evade all illness for the entire fall and winter (check out this post for tactics on how I didn’t get sick). I almost evaded this one except that I accidentally used my husband’s toothbrush while he was sick last week. I’m sure the look of horror on my face when I pulled the toothbrush out of my mouth only to discover it wasn’t mine was priceless.

Toothbrushes

The culprit

I was able to evade it for a few days, it seemed to go away, and then came back with a vengeance yesterday. So I decided that given the fever and the fact that this was still lingering almost a week later, I was best off staying home and taking it easy. Plus, when you work at a healthcare facility, you shouldn’t go in with a fever (especially when you work at a cancer center). I could easily get someone with a weak immune system very ill.

I often crave eggs and toast when I’m sick so I compromised and made this for lunch.

Gluten free omelet, sweet potato, salad

I was finally able to finish the second, 950-page, small-type Game of Thrones book (A Clash of Kings) this morning before my hunger drove me from bed. I was hoping to get to the fourth book by the time season four aired, but the third book is even longer, so I don’t think that’s going to happen. Oh, well.

Since I watched American Hustle this morning (I thought it was just okay and way too long), I decided I should try to get something out of the day, so I’m now checking out some documentaries on my Netflix list. First up: National Geographic’s The Human Family Tree. You know one of the things I find most fascinating (not that this is news)? All people on Earth share 99.9% of their genetics. We only vary by 0.01%! So you and I nearly 100% the same! #yesimanerd

I should get back to the show so I can share some more nerdy facts with you on Friday! 😉 I’ll be drinking some freshly-brewed French press (to help with the headache), my friend Emergen-C, and choking down some generic Mucinex and Tylenol Sinus.

Sick day essentials

Questions: Do you have any tricks for staying healthy when everyone around you is sick? What do you crave when you’re sick? Have you seen any good movies lately?

Easy (and Healthy!) Stuffed Peppers

Hi everyone! How was your weekend? Did it go by way too fast just like mine? I was still a bit under the weather, so I took it easy and watched Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2. Yes, I just admitted that. #noshame

What can I say, it’s entertaining. Not the best acting or script, but the scenery is gorgeous and my stuffed up head didn’t want to think!

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

Since the weather is still incredibly cold here in Massachusetts, I wanted to share a quick and easy recipe to warm you up: (gluten-free) stuffed peppers! The best part about this recipe is that you can adapt it based on what’s in your fridge. That’s how this recipe came to be in the first place: I looked in the fridge, saw that we had four bell peppers that we needed to use soon, and decided to stuff them with what was available at the time!

I’ll take you through step-by-step and the full recipe is at the end.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. The part I skipped, but wished I hadn’t: parboil the peppers until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes, then place in a baking dish. While you are waiting for the oven to pre-heat, sautée some vegetables in a little bit of olive oil (we used onions, garlic, and red and green peppers).

Gluten free stuffed peppers step 1

While sautéeing the veggies and waiting for the oven, simultaneously cook your protein of choice (we used ground turkey). Once it’s done cooking, place it in a mixing bowl with the veggies (we also added chopped tomatoes, which we didn’t want to cook).

Gluten free stuffed peppers step 2

Mix the veggies and protein, then add tomato sauce to your desired thickness, as well as ~1 tsp basil, oregano, and marjoram. Stuff the peppers with this mixture, then add your desired cheese on top (we used the fresh mozzarella we had on hand).

Gluten free stuffed peppers step 3

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the peppers are quite tender and the cheese is melted. You may also choose to put a small amount of water (~1/8″) in the bottom of the baking dish. We didn’t do this and they came out just fine.

Finally, enjoy!

Gluten free stuffed peppers step 4

I added some cooked spinach to the bottom of my bowl, just for a little extra serving of veggies.

Gluten-Free Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

4 green bell peppers, tops cut away with seeds and veins removed

Sautéed vegetables of choice (e.g., onion, pepper, garlic, etc.)

Additional vegetables of choice (e.g., spinach, tomatoes, etc.)

1 pound protein of choice (e.g., ground turkey, beef, bison, tempeh, etc.)

1 tsp each basil, oregano, marjoram

1/2 jar tomato sauce

Cheese of choice (e.g., fresh mozzarella, shredded mozzarella, fresh provolone, etc.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. If desired, parboil the peppers in a pot of boiling water until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and place in baking dish.

Saute your vegetables of choice while cooking your protein of choice. Cook veggies until soft and cook the protein until it is browned. Place both in a mixing bowl and add any additional (non-cooked) veggies. Add the tomato sauce and spices and mix all well.

(If desired: pour enough water into a baking dish to just cover the bottom, about 1/8-inch deep.) Stuff the peppers with the mixture and place in the baking dish. Top with cheese. Bake until the peppers are very tender and the cheese is melted.

Bon appétit!

I’ve also had peppers stuffed with lentils and rice–yummy!

Questions: How was your weekend? Did you make up recipes on the fly? Have you made stuffed peppers before? What have you stuffed them with?

Friday Favorite: Greatist Parcel Favorites

Happy Friday! I’m a little under the weather here, but I really can’t complain since I managed to evade any sickness for the entire fall and winter using this approach. I’m not willing to say, “I’m sick” just yet–I still think I can beat this thing before it gets the best of me.

Emergen-C, echinacea tea, licorice tea, coffee

I usually have my coffee black, but need milk when I feel sick!

For today’s favorite, I wanted to revisit some of the items I received in my Parcel Greatist box (full Parcel Greatist box review post here). I’m personally always curious about how much people actually like the items they received from a subscription box and if they’d make a point to go out and buy them, so I’d thought I’d do a run-down of the items that really stood out and that I plan to buy.

Greatist Parcel Box

December’s Box:

Salamandra Naturals Lavender Soap: This soap was seriously great! All natural and exfoliating but also hydrating. Sign me up! Bonus: if you follow Salamandra Soaps on Twitter, you get a discount! Just use discount code twitter.

Salamandra Lavender Oats Soap back

January’s box (yes, that’s all for December’s box, but this box was much better!):

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds: I enjoyed these so much that I promptly went out and bought more once I was all out. I love that they add more protein, fiber, and Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) to my weekend smoothies.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

Raw Green Organics Super Greens: These are another item that I have thoroughly enjoyed adding to my smoothies! It is a healthy, antioxidant-rich organic vegetable blend packed with EFAs, amino acids, phytonutrients and fiber. It’s definitely on the expensive side, but my small packet lasted me well over a month of having two smoothies a week, so a little bit goes a long way.

RawJuvenate Organic Super Greens

Look at how green it makes my smoothie!

Smoothie using RawJuvenate Organic Super Greens

Amala Hydrating Cream Cleanser, Yogurt Mask, and Face Cream: Another expensive item, I know, but I can’t begin to tell you how well this moisturized my skin compared to my regular moisturizer! My usual cream quickly sinks into my skin, hydrating it, but leaving the surface a bit dry. This cream was not only absorbed, but left a barrier on the top of my skin, making it feel smooth and nourished. Add to that the fact that my skin didn’t freak out, and that they use organic plants and custom distill them, and this is definitely a quality product. I will be adding this to my Christmas wish list!

Amala hydrate collection

After having sore heels last weekend, I think I’m back on the upswing. I was able to go out yesterday and felt pretty good. I changed things up and instead of using KT tape and my old orthotics, used only my new orthotics. Both of my heels hurt for the first five minutes of walking, but since they both hurt I decided it was because I was still breaking in my orthotics.

Langer custom orthotic

New orthotic on right, old orthotic on left

Once I started my run/walk intervals (stage 7), they felt much better. The Achilles of my PF foot felt a bit tight, but no pain. The only real problem was my feet felt clunky, almost as though I had cinderblocks in my shoes, to the point that I felt my form was off. It was probably a combination of the fact that I was coming down with something (my legs felt fatigued) and adjusting to the weight/stability of the orthotics themselves. But I just had to get out and enjoy the first day of spring!

Questions: Do you have a subscription box? If so, which one(s) and what are some of your favorite products that you’ve received? Did you do anything to celebrate the first day of spring?

Clean Eating 101

First of all…

Last day of winter 2014

C/o my co-worker. It’s been a loooong winter here in Massachusetts.

In honor of the first day of spring tomorrow, I thought we could think about spring-cleaning our diets! March is also National Nutrition Month, so it seems an appropriate time to revisit our current eating habits, and perhaps tweak them a bit for the changing seasons. I’ve noticed I’m craving fewer warm comfort foods and looking to lighter, cooler foods.

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “Clean Eating.” It’s become a bit of a buzzword lately, but it’s not a new concept in the least. So what does it mean? Clean eating involves eating foods as close to their original state as possible (minimally processed), and ideally free of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals. This is how I try to eat most of the time and incorporating it into your diet isn’t as difficult as it may sound…just take baby steps and little by little all these baby steps will add up to big change!

Here are some main points to clean eating:

-Think outside the box (or bag, package, etc.): Instead of making a box of macaroni and cheese, why not make your own? All you need is some pasta, milk, butter and cheese! Better yet, make that whole grain pasta, and organic milk, butter, and cheese! Be sure to go light on the butter and cheese to avoid a hefty dose of fat. Can’t afford organic? Try doing at least the whole grain pasta and maybe just organic milk. Better yet, throw in some vegetables and have those be the focus of the dish instead of the pasta and dairy!

Some may think I’m weird for doing this, but I like to throw in lentils with my mac & cheese, as well as spinach (not pictured), plus I have some veggies on the side.

Mac and cheese with lentils

-Let produce be the star of the meal: Make sure your meal is at least 50% vegetable and/or fruit, then add in your corresponding protein and grain of choice. Be sure to include enough protein and fiber, as well as a healthy amount of fats, to keep you feeling full longer.

Salad with egg, beans, and nuts

-Watch out for additional fat, salt, and sugar: This will be easier once you’ve cut out more processed food, but many people add these back in to create the same taste as processed food. Enjoy tasting your food the way it should taste, instead of just tasting sugar or salt.

When you do use these, aim for the healthiest, least processed versions of each. For fats, try natural sources such as  such as olive oil, nuts, and avocado.  For salt, aim for sea salt or kosher instead of table salt. The larger granules mean you’ll use less! Finally, in terms of sugar, avoid high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and other processed sugars, and aim for sugars from nature, such as maple syrup or honey. Just don’t add too much!

Maple syrup from Quebec

Maple syrup from family in Quebec

-Be choosy about your beverages: Drink water, tea, and coffee (black or only a small amount of milk/milk substitute and/or sweetener) instead of soda or energy drinks. Limit your alcohol, which is not only a source of additional calories, but promotes fat storage due to the release of estrogen into the bloodstream when you drink it (and when you have excess estrogen, you’re more prone to hold onto weight).

French press coffee with Game of Thrones Targaryen sigil mug

-Portion and timing: Be sure to stick to reasonable portion sizes and to eat about every three to four hours in order to curb hunger before it overtakes you and you overindulge. Need help with what the correct portion size is? Check out this link for more information.

Feeling a little overwhelmed with all of this information? Here are some easy examples to get you started:

  • Choose fresh, whole fruit instead of fruit cocktail, dried fruit, or fruit leather. Organic is best, but as it can be very expensive, we tend to stick to buying the dirty dozen organic and not worrying about the clean fifteen.
Fruit displayed on DIY industrial shelves

Keep fruit on display and you’re more likely to snack on it.

  • Pick cuts of fresh meat instead of processed chicken nuggets, fish sticks, or bologna. Even better is grass-fed beef, and even better than that is organic meats.
Bison meat on sale

Bison meat on sale = stocked up!

  • Eat whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice instead of white bread, sugared cereals, and potato chips. Again, organic if you can afford it.

Gluten free oatmeal with almonds and maple syrup

Questions: Are you over this winter? Do you consider yourself a “clean” eater most of the time? Do you have any clean eating tips and tricks?

Bone Health, Vitamin D, and Running Woes

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Anyone else celebrating today? I’m one-quarter Irish, which I blame for my inabilty to handle spicy foods and ridiculously pale skin, but also thank for my ability to hold my alcohol well and smize with ease (Tyra Banks reference). I can slightly stereotype since I am the type, right?

Green water fills allthe fountains in Savannah, GA for St. Patrick’s Day 2005

This post is a bit of a brain dump, but I hope you find it interesting and/or helpful in some way.

Lots of studying/homework and housework at house WHD this past weekend. This week in A&P I we’re learning about bone tissue and I found information on fractures and bone density very interesting and relative to my life. Granted, we all have bones so all of the information should have been relative, but you know what I mean…

In terms of fractures, I found it helpful to see a visual of how a fracture heals. I showed the illustration below from my textbook to WHH, who is on the mend from a stress fracture. Did you know that the process below takes 8-12 weeks? So just imagine that if you kept working out with a stress fracture or didn’t allow the proper time for it to heal how much longer it would take! WHH can feel some bumpy areas on his shin, which we’re betting are the result of the bone remodeling in step 4.

McGraw-Hill fracture healing

© McGraw-Hill

In terms of bone density, the book stressed the importance of continually placing stress on the bones in order for them to maintain their strength. While I knew this all along, I think that reading it in a scientific book, versus say a health magazine, makes it more valid in my mind. I know that sounds silly, but I think of my book as not having any fluff in it, so if the author is making a point about something, it’s quite relative and important to our physiology.

So how does stress impact bone strength? When you stress the bones through exercise and other weight-bearing activities, such as strength training, it stimulates bone cells to reinforce your bones, making them stronger and more dense. This is especially important as we get older because we reach our peak bone mass (maximum bone size) between the ages of 25 and 30. Reason #242 (of an infinite amount) to exercise today!

Speaking of bone health, check out how much my vitamin D level finally changed in the past 6 weeks!

Vitamin D Changes June 2013-March 2014

I’ve had chronically low vitamin D, to the point of being deficient back in June. Despite taking 1,000 IU every day since June, my level barely moved June and January. Then, at the advice of the chiropractor I was seeing for tennis elbow treatment, I started taking 10,000 IU every day. He suggested I take it for six weeks, then have my blood re-tested. If it had at that point risen, I was then to reduce the amount back to 5,000 IU.

I’m so happy with the results. I’m back down to about 4,000 IU/day (I only have 2,000 IU and 1,000 IU pills and 5 pills/day seemed a bit excessive). Vitamin D is important for a variety of reasons, bone health being only the tip of the iceberg. And the fact that we use it as a treatment for metastatic colon cancer only drives home the importance of it for me.

Running-wise, it was a bit of a frustrating weekend with my plantar fasciitis after such a good week last week! Maybe I pushed it too much with the amount of running and then adding in the real shoes?

I headed out Saturday intent on moving to stage 8 of Return to Running, but things were not good from the start. As soon as I walked outside my heel was bothering me (out of the blue—felt fine all day prior!). I decided to tough it out a bit to see if I was just sore. I did my 5 minute warm-up walk, then tried to start a slow jog. That lasted all of 10 seconds, and I walked home, for a total of 7 minutes. I was sore from doing Julie’s lower body workout on Friday, so I chalked it up to that.

Walking 3-15-14

The same thing happened when I headed out on Sunday. As soon as I got out the door, my heel hurt. So frustrating! I did tough it out, though, because I noticed my other heel was bothering me as well (when it never really has), so I figured I was maybe just still sore. Once I had been out for about 10 minutes I felt pretty good. Still, don’t want to be doing more harm than good.

Return to Running 3-16-14

I’m still using my old orthotics in my shoes, while breaking in my new orthotics walking around the house, so I wonder if my feet are getting confused between the two and I’m making things worse by switching. I used KT tape both times and I that think for the first time, it made things worse, so the KT tape is staying off for now. I’m hoping to get in another session mid-week using my new orthotics and without any KT tape.

3-16-14 running splits

Not bad pacing for walking more than running.

Questions: Have you had to heal from a stress fracture? Are you worried about your bone health or Vitamin D? What do you do to try to keep your bones healthy? Have you had an injury that just kept lingering and you didn’t know what to do to move on?

Friday Favorite + Crazy Running Update

Today’s Friday Favorite was a gift from my parents when they used the Christmas gift we gave them. Huh? Well, our Christmas gift to my parents was a chocolate tour in Boston’s South End.  They had a blast and picked up some goodies along the way! My favorite item they picked up for us is Not Your Sugar Mama’s Be Cozy. That probably doesn’t mean much to you, so let’s look at what it is:

Not You Sugar Mama's Be Cozy front

It’s a Superfood Chocolate Mix! It contains raw cacao, coconut palm sugar, lucuma, cinnamon, mesquite, Himalayan sea salt, and vanilla. It’s absolutely delicious and good for you! I usually add about a teaspoon into my weekend smoothies.

Green smoothie with Not Your Sugar Mama's Be Cozy

I’ve also had it straight up as hot chocolate, adding a 50/50 mix of skim milk and almond milk.

Hot chocolate with Not Your Sugar Mama's Be Cozy

I love that it’s not overly sweet, but oh so chocolate-y.

I also love that it’s from a local company. NYSM was founded on the lovely Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard (yes, of Kennedy/Clinton/Obama/James Taylor/Jaws fame). If you’ve never had a chance to go, it is a wonderful place! I had never been until I started dating my husband 13 years ago as his family usually goes once a year and they were sweet enough to always ask me along. It’s a bit pricey and very crowded in the summer, but if you go with people who know the island and the quieter side of it, it’s heavenly.

Oak Bluffs ferry August 2012

Oak Bluffs, MV

I digress. This continuous winter weather has me dreaming of the warmer months to come.

Weather lately March 14, 2014

Anyway, back to the product! As you can see from the label, there are a lot of benefits to the ingredients they chose.

Not Your Sugar Mama's Be Cozy ingredients

You can currently only buy it through their online store or at one of the stores listed on their website. I’m hoping it comes to the Whole Foods near me soon so I can try all of their other delicious products! Oh, and be sure to check out their recipe page since smoothies and hot chocolate are just the tip of the iceberg!

Not Your Sugar Mama's Be Cozy inside

So sad to be nearing the bottom 😦

In running news, I’m happy to actually have some news for you! It’s kind of crazy news and may not even end up being news and wasn’t even news I was sure I wanted to share (yes, I was trying to see how much I could cram the word news into two sentences, just for fun—was that obnoxious?). It all started when Lora  shared a post  about Runner’s World giving away a vacation to Iceland. Having had a stopover there this past summer, I’m definitely intrigued to go back! As I read more of her post and checked out the entry website, I realized it also included two entries into the Reykjavík Marathon.

Now, I have never had the urge to run a marathon and figured I probably never would just because of the physical and mental toll, and especially because of my injuries this past year. But as I looked at it the entry more, I thought, “Why the heck not?” Now, don’t get me wrong—I realize my chance of winning this is about 1 in a million.

But I thought to myself, what if I did win? Could I even do it? Let’s see…the race is August 23. That’s about 23 weeks from now. Heck…I actually could! So, yeah, I’ve decided I’m going to start training with the mindset that I will run a marathon in August.

I realize this thinking is completely backwards. I’ve never done a half marathon, not even a 10k (I was training for one when I was injured last January)! Add on the fact that I’m coming back from an injury, and it sounds really, really stupid. This is not how I would normally think.

As cheesy as it sounds, this quote popped up in my head as I was contemplating all of this (whose author is either Les Brown or Norman Vincent Peale, depending on who you ask).

Shoot for the stars quote

The plan is to train for a marathon for the end of the summer/beginning of the fall. If my body isn’t taking it, I’ll scale it back to a half marathon. If my body still isn’t there, I’ll scale back to a 10k. And if I’m not even at that point, I’ll aim for a 5k. Again, backwards way of thinking because it seems like I’m setting myself up for disappointment, but I’m hopeful.

I’m especially hopeful because after my plantar fasciitis had been flaring up in the past few weeks, it’s finally started to feel better because I’ve done something I haven’t been doing: I’m pushing the issue. I bought ones of these based on advice from Emily, have been making sure to ice every day, and even ran two days in a row, going up a level the second day! Plus, I’ve started wearing regular shoes for half the day (I throw on my Cole Haans with my new orthotics, seen below in the middle, or sneakers, back on for the other half of the day).

Shoes shoes shoes

As you can see from above, I’m still rocking the KT tape, but I’m getting there! Finally! And I’m testing it out again tomorrow!

So that’s the big (though not definite) news for now. What about you? Anything crazy and new you’re doing? Anything you’re loving lately?

Adventures in Weight Changes

Possible other title I was considering: How I’ve Gained Weight, Yet Still Fit in My Clothes.

True confession time: I’ve gained ten pounds since this summer and five of those pounds have been since I started this blog in November. Yes, an eyebrow raise is okay.

Weight change past year from MyFitnessPal

Weight change past year. Horizontal lines in increments of 5 pounds.

Say what? Yessir, it’s true. I’m more than okay with it and I’ll tell you why: I was underweight ten pounds ago. Sure, I was still in the reasonable weight range for someone my height. At my lowest weight I had a BMI of 18.7, which was seriously flirting with the underweight zone. At five pounds above my lowest weight I had some measurements done as part of my work’s “Spring into Action” challenge. At that time, I had a body fat percentage of 19.7%.

To put all of these numbers in perspective, here are the ranges for BMI and body fat percentage:

BMI chart

Body fat percentage chart

The other indicator that I was a bit too low? My period got a bit out of whack. Sorry if that’s TMI, but for us women, it’s definitely an indicator of what’s up with our health. You know something’s up when you go from your usual 29-32 day cycle to a 57 day cycle!

Whacky period

Now granted, there were some confounding factors: I was having incredibly painful Graston done at the time (intense pain can signal to your body that you’re not in any shape to bear children, thus throwing off your cycle) and my anxiety started spinning out of control. I was also unable to exercise and it was the summer, both of which dulled my appetite. So all in all, a great recipe for losing weight.

I’m not confessing this because of what I revealed a couple of weeks ago with my history of anorexia because the weight loss wasn’t caused by “Ed” in my head (my therapist used to have me try to separate my voice from Ed’s voice, short for eating disorder). I lost weight because of all of the reasons I talked about above and I’m telling you because I’ve gained back some weight and it’s good weight. I looked too slight for my medium-sized frame, with my ribs and collarbone protruding a bit much. I had such little muscle tone due to my inability to exercise at the time courtesy of multiple injuries.

Top of Arc de Triomphe July 2013

Looking a bit too slim in France

Now, with ten pounds back on me, I feel incredibly strong instead of like someone who’d get pushed over by a slight breeze. My butt is back and so is my (though still miniscule) bust. When the back of your pants are loose because you have no butt to fill it in and your bust seems concave instead of convex, it’s not a good thing. It’s time to gain weight.

Just for a visual, let’s compare some before and after pictures (sorry for the slightly creepy pic of me at the gym; it was the best I could do at the time).

Before and after weight gain

How did I gain the weight? I purposely increased my calories at the end of the summer by eating whole fat dairy and incorporating some protein shakes. I wanted to gain a little weight at this point because I knew I didn’t look good (and when your husband suggests it, you know you really should). If I was going to gain weight, I wanted it to be muscle and the best way to do that is by increasing your protein intake. I’m sure I’ve also gained weight thanks to my appetite this past winter, which has been roaring! As long as I know I’m truly hungry, I trust in my body’s signals and I eat.

Gluten free dinner 3-11-14

How do you know if you’re truly hungry and not just having a massive craving? As always, I rely on my girl, Jillian Michaels, for advice. She suggests asking yourself if you could go for something healthy. For example, “Could I go for some chicken right now? How about a salad?” If the answer is yes, then you’re hungry. If the answer is no, you only want the ice cream in the freezer, then you’re probably just having a craving.

Once I’ve established hunger vs. craving, I then try to find something healthy and filling to keep my body satisfied and nourished. My go-to this winter has been a small bowl of oatmeal with a little maple syrup, almond milk/coconut water mix, and a small serving of almonds or walnuts.

Gluten free oatmeal with maple syrup and almonds

The interesting thing I’ve noticed as I’ve gained weight? My body wants to be where it is now, because I’ve been holding steady the past two months. This is my “homeostasis weight,” the weight at which my body functions best and where my hunger is normal. Whenever I start to reduce calories, even a little, I get an intense hunger, which signals to me that my body thinks it needs to go into survival mode. It’s not good when your body thinks it’s going into survival mode, because it will hold onto fat for reserve energy and use (eat) muscle instead.

Current weight via MyFitnessPal

Holding steady, +/- 1lb. Horizontal lines in increments of 5 lbs.

In order to maintain this weight I work out 4-6 times a week at moderate to high intensity and eat pretty clean, though I always allow room for a small treat every day and for the occasional splurge at family gatherings or a night out. At this weight I can slip up from time to time and also go hard-core and I tend to hang around the same area. And I’m more than okay with that because I’m happy with how I look, and more importantly, with how I feel, which is healthy and strong! Plus, since I gained mostly muscle, my clothes still fits (you know how much I hate shopping!)!

It will be interesting to see what happens once I’m able to run more and the weather gets warmer. I’m predicting my hunger will be all over the place (sometimes running makes me famished, sometimes it dulls my appetite), and there’s a possibility for weight loss. As long as it’s not more than five pounds, and I feel strong, I’m fine with that. Ain’t no thang. 😉

Questions: Have you lost too much weight, intentionally or unintentionally? Did you gain it back? Have you found your homeostasis weight, or the weight where your body seems happiest?

Protein pancake mix

Gluten-Free Protein Pancakes

Hi everyone! Did you have a nice weekend? We had quite a productive one! Not only did we get our homemade shelves up in the kitchen, but I also started, finished, and filed our taxes yesterday! Woohoo!

Here are the shelves (instructions from Amy Krist’s website). I’ve really been liking the industrial look and had fallen in love with these reclaimed wood shelves from West Elm as well as their L-beam wood shelf , but knew we could do something for less money. We only spent around $30 for the wood, brackets, stain, and screws (we already had the wall anchors). Much better than the $200-$250 we would have spent, plus we (or rather, WHH) have the pride of having made it ourselves!

Here they are empty:

West Elm inspired DIY Industrial Shelves empty

And with (most) of their intended items, such as our fruits and veggies that don’t go in the fridge:

West Elm inspired DIY Industrial Shelves filled

Now on to other things I’ve been whipping up lately: protein pancakes (gluten free, per usual)! I made up the recipe based on some other similar recipes I had seen. I need a hearty breakfast full of fiber and protein to fill me up for a good 3-4 hours. After messing around with different combinations, this one finally held me over! It makes about two medium-sized pancakes. The full recipe can be found at the end of the post.

Mix together 1/2 banana, 1 egg, 1/2 scoop protein powder (I use RAW protein in Vanilla), ~1/8 c ground oats (I use regular oats and grind it in our Magic Bullet until it makes a powder, but you could also use them as is).

Gluten-free protein pancake mix

Heat a little coconut oil on a small pan.

Heating coconut oil on pan

Once the oil is liquid, move it around the pan to coat, then put in about half of the batter. Flip the pancake once bubbles start to form and cook to your desired crispiness.

Finally, the best part: top with whatever your heart desires! Some combos I’ve tried are organic raspberries, a little family maple syrup, and fresh ground honey peanut butter from Whole Foods…

Gluten-free protein pancakes with organic raspberries, maple syrup, and peanut butter

…and what I call the “healthy Elvis”—peanut butter, a little family maple syrup, and the other half of the banana cut up.

The healthy Elvis: gluten-free protein pancakes with bananas, maple syrup, and peanut butter.

Whole Health Dork’s Gluten Free Protein Pancakes
Serving: 2 medium-sized pancakes
Nutrition (without toppings):  241 calories, 23g carbs, 10g fat, 17g protein, 71g sodium, 7g sugar

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder (such as RAW protein in Vanilla),
  • ~1/8 c ground oats
  • ~1 tsp coconut oil

Mix together banana, egg, protein powder, and oats while you heat up the coconut oil on a small pan. Once the oil is liquid, move it around the pan to coat, then put in about half of the batter. Flip the pancake once bubbles start to form and cook to your desired crispiness.

Questions: Did you get anything accomplished recently that feels really good to have done? Do you like tweaking recipes to find what works for you? Would you try my pancakes?

As always, I welcome any questions or suggestions! Thanks for stopping by!