Monday, April 30, 2012

10k Training Update

This won't be a very long post. I just wanted to share a little update on my 10k training.

The race is scheduled for May. It is a 5k/10k Walk/Run/Roll benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. I ran this race last year. It was my very first 10k and I did pretty well...but I'd like to do better! I haven't raced since I'm nervous and excited all at once.

I love racing because I always seem to push myself harder when I'm running one. I think it is a combination of all the adrenaline and the fact that I'm surrounded by runners who are going fast! I want to keep up! It was actually during a race that I discovered I could run. No joke. I signed up as a favor to a friend and then all of sudden ran a mile without stopping thinking, "WOW. I can do this!" This year I'd like to PR my 10k time. I'm not sure if that will happen or not and honestly, I'm OK either way. But a PR would be fun. Especially because this is my first race in 2012.

I have managed to run my fasted mile during my training- 8:51 according to Nike+. I feel silly sharing it because it is definitely not fast by most runner standards, but for me it is HUGE. As you know, I'm an asthmatic. I was diagnosed when I was nine, but the symptoms only resurfaced about two years ago. I also happened to try out running around the same time and I noticed that after a while, the more I ran, the less asthma attacks I had. I'm not sure what the medical science is behind that phenomenon, but I do feel like running "exercises" my lungs just as it does the rest of my body. I like the idea that there is a healthier way to help control my asthma instead of pumping my body full of steroids and other medications that all have devastating side effects. I do use a rescue inhaler before every run as a precaution. No one needs me passing out on the side of the road or anything! ;) This is why running a mile in under 9 minutes is such an accomplishment for me. I know I will continue to improve, and I hope to eventually run 9-minute miles continuously and, one day, an 8-minute mile, but right now I am thrilled to have finally broken the 9 minute barrier. Before, I'd easily lose my breath when I tried to speed up a run and once I'm out of breath (if its asthma-related) it can take a while to breathe normally again.

Here is my 10k training run schedule (I've been following the Hal Higdon 10k novice plan with adjustments to fit my needs and schedule):

Sunday- long runs (a gradual increase from 4-6 miles)
Wednesday- 5k
Friday- 2 miles (I try to run as fast as I can during the 2 milers because it is a short enough distance that I don't really worry about my not being able to finish due an attack.)

I'm cross training as well, but that is for another post!

This weekend I ran 5.5 miles. My longest run to date during the training. It was definitely a challenge and I learned a valuable lesson- it is no longer spring and I can't run after 8am in the summer. Way too hot! Yuck!

I only have a few more runs before the big race. I can't wait! I'll post updates and (hopefully) be able to share my PR story with you on the big day!

<3 K.E.

Friday, April 27, 2012

"Moo"ve over Dairy!

I have another fabulous recipe to share with you today! Having been dairy-free since I was a twelve-years-old, I've miss traditional milk, ice cream, and yogurt for years. I ate cheese for a while until I developed an allergy and now haven't had cheese (not a piece) for about 6 years. Crazy, right? I honestly don't miss it at all. At first it was very difficult because I was a cheese fanatic. The girl who would eat grapes, apple slices, and cheese hunks as a snack. Eventually, I adjusted and now the smell of cheese is repulsive to me. I can smell it a mile away. I do still keep our fridge stocked with cheese options because I am a good wife like that. ;)

Over the years, companies have realized that people with dairy and soy allergies still want and crave the foods they had to give up. First, the dairy-free milks became increasingly easy to find. I've tried most of them by this point: soy, rice, almond, coconut (in that order). Hemp, flax, and sunflower milks are still unknown to me, but maybe someday I'll give them a shot. I want to give you a really quick run down of my experiences with non-dairy milk and the variety of options available.

I was pro-soy when I first became dairy-free and I now have an entirely different opinion which would require at least an entire post on the subject. For now, let's just say I'm not a fan of soy for many reasons. The taste of soy milk is pretty similar to cow's milk from what I remember. 

Rice milk is incredibly runny and doesn't taste a thing like milk. It is like drinking water with a splash of milk. Yuck! Also, right now rice products are under scrutiny for containing high levels of arsenic so do your research prior to purchasing rice milk to make sure your brand of choice isn't implicated in the scandal.

Almond milk quickly became my dairy-free milk of choice. It is thicker and creamier than rice milk, but not quite as thick as coconut or cow's milk, however. The flavor is slightly nutty, but not strong, and I have found that it compliments everything from cereal to smoothies. When I went cane sugar-free six years ago, I was pleased to discover that most brands offer unsweetened almond milk varieties as well.  Unsweetened vanilla almond milk is amazing too! I recommend the Whole Foods' 365 brand unsweetened and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I've found it has the best flavor of all the brands I've tried and is organic.

Coconut milk is a close second to almond milk with a creamy, fresh taste. There is something about the flavor or texture though that always seems a little funky to me. I haven't figured out what exactly that is, but it isn't a big enough deal to ban the beverage altogether. 

I would never trade my almond milk...(here comes the dreaded but), but lately my sensitive tummy has been just that- sensitive. So I've switched over to coconut milk for the time being. Hopefully not forever, because nothing beats the flavor of good almond milk,  but for now, coconut will do. <UPDATE: I wrote this post prior to meal planning, ended up skipping Whole Foods this week, and Publix only carries Almond I'm giving it another try. Fingers crossed. I'm really excited!>

There is are two great brands of coconut milk ice cream that are also cane sugar-free, So Delicious and Luna and Larry's Coconut Bliss. Whole Foods has also started carrying a cashew ice cream that comes in several flavors, including pistachio!

I can also eat yogurt, thanks to Armande yogurt made with almond milk and fruit-juice sweetened. I wish my local Whole Foods had the large containers, but no such luck. Anyway, as you can see, there really is no reason for dairy-free individuals to not enjoy delicious alternatives (which I now think taste a million times better than the originals).

And thanks to the amazing people at Nourishing Meals, I was also able to eat a gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free "cheesecake" for Easter! It was amazing, rich, creamy, decadent. Even my dairy-eating mother loved it! The ingredient list was simple, it was a relatively uncomplicated recipe. I guess a little disclaimer is in order though, because it didn't really taste like cheesecake. It was its own thing with its own flavor. I highly recommend it. These cheesecake bites are easily one of my favorite desserts to make. Any dessert that is healthy, full of whole foods, and has great texture and flavor is a winner in my book. Head on over to Nourishing Meals and check it out!

The crazy photo I snapped after taking a bite and realizing this was the last one...oops!

Monday, April 23, 2012

And the weekend continues!

I have survived an entire month alone- except for the cat and he doesn't count! The hubby had to attend a month-long class across the country for his job. I was very anti as you can imagine. I haven't blogged very often during that time because, well, I didn't have much to say that didn't consist of whining about him being gone. And I didn't want to publicize the fact that I was home alone. So I went a little MIA. But that means I have loads of posts that I now feel like sharing. YAY! ;)

We took a couple days off this week to recoup from the trip (OK, OK, he needed time to recoup- I just wanted time with him!) and so our lovely, lazy weekend continues. Love days off!

First up, an amazingly delicious recipe from Daily Garnish, one of my daily reads. I'm not sure if you've figured this out yet or not, but I love food. I love to cook, bake, find and create new dishes. Since my hubby was gone for Easter, I was spending it breakfast-dinner with my family. That meant a very early morning drive for me and not much time to prepare breakfast as the kiddos wake up super early to find Easter baskets and hunt for eggs the Easter bunny left us. Knowing my mom has probably missed my kitchen creations since the wedding, I thought I would make up a loaf of banana nut bread for Easter morning. Can you imagine how excited I was to find a recipe on Daily Garnish for Blueberry Banana Walnut Bread? ECSTATIC! I love baking with blueberries. They are loaded with antioxidants and I always buy a giant bag of frozen organic wild blueberries at Costco. In my opinion, wild blueberries are the most tasty in everything from pancakes to muffins to bread. Not only do they have more flavor, but they also have more antioxidants than regular blueberries. Win!

The final product. This is the whole wheat loaf. Check out that gorgeous color!

To give credit where credit is due, I won't be posting the recipe. Instead, I'll link to it on Daily Garnish. Trust me: it is worth clicking through to make this beauty. The only changes I made to my first batch consisted of replacing the whole wheat flour with spelt flour for the sensitive tummies in my family and using 1.5-2 cups of blueberries instead of 1 cup. I think my oven temperature is off (my next project) because I baked this baby for almost double the time on the recipe and it was still a little doughy.

 I made this bread a second time to welcome home the husband Saturday and used whole wheat flour. It tastes just as good, but took even longer to bake. This time, I used 3 bananas instead of the recommended 4 and it was still uber moist and delicious. I also used more berries than the recipe called for, I always add more berries to every blueberry recipe- I just can't get enough! Honestly, I liked the spelt loaf the best, because I think the straight-up whole wheat irritated my tummy, but the taste was definitely still there with the whole wheat loaf. Use whatever flour you prefer, but definitely make this bread! You'll be glad you did.  Oh, and smear it with homemade Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter. A to-die-for combination!

<3 K.E.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Breakfast of Champions

Good morning!

I have a lot to share with you- two amazing desserts, an easy dinner, and a few other tidbits. However, I have a lot planned for today and there is just enough time to share my breakfast before this funfilled day begins. A sandwich round, smear of peanut butter, a banana, and, since I ran out of chia seeds, ground flaxseeds are sprinkled on top. It is my favorite pre-run breakfast. Speaking of which, it's time for that run.

<3 K.E.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Step One to a Happy Life- DON'T COMPARE!

Good afternoon, blog friends!

This topic is very near and dear to my heart. As someone who has struggled her entire life (literally since I was 9) with body image issues, I know how debilitating it can be when you become stuck in the comparison mindset. "Her legs are more toned than mine." "My butt is too big- it should look like hers." We've all been here at one time or the other!

When it comes to comparisons the truth is both painful and freeing. Painful because we will always be able to find someone with a body part, talent, job, etc., that is more of the "ideal" than ours. This is a fact of life. We can't have the perfect legs, perfect boobs, perfect butt, be the smartest, have the ideal job, etc. Especially not when we are looking at a standard that is outside ourselves. (Be patient, here comes the freeing part.) Freeing when we realize that there is no standard for anything. That the "ideal" can only be found inside ourselves because we are all unique, all built differently with different goals, hopes, dreams in life. If we're two, totally different people with different aspirations for our lives, how can we compare ourselves?! It just doesn't work!

It is extremely difficult to keep this mindset of no comparisons...but it is so rewarding and I promise your life will be a million times more joyful! To read a more in depth post that not only points out the new faces of comparison (Facebook status updates, anyone?), but also reminds us to avoid being a cause of insecurity in someone else's life, check out Carrots 'N' Cake's latest blog post: Comparison is the Thief of Joy: Thoughts on Social Media. It is a wonderful wake up call for those moments when we really need one!

<3 K.E.

P.S. I owe you an Easter weekend recap. I promise it is coming!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Happy Holy Week and Goals Revisited

First of all, let me apologize for neglecting you for the past week and a half! Yet again, I was traveling for business. These business trips are not typical by any means...the only two I'll go on all year, just happened to fall within two weeks of each other. Go figure! But now I am back and doing my best to cope...more on that later.

I haven't been making any special meals lately. It's clean out the fridge and pantry time over at my place. We have a lot of food already and I'm trying to eat it up instead of buying more. This means oatmeal, chicken, quinoa, get the idea. Using the food I already have is one of my April goals. So far so good!

I will be getting a break from the boring food this weekend for Easter! I'm so excited! Not just for the food, sillies, but also because I will be spending the whole day with family. Breakfast-Dinner. And it will be wonderful. I have a few recipes up my sleeve to try out. If they are yummy I'll share them with you complete with photos and all- I promise.

I wanted to revisit my 2012 Goals as it is the beginning of April and three months have already passed us by far too quickly. If you remember, I shared five goals with you in January. Let's see how I'm doing...

2012 Goals Recap

1.  Practice yoga weekly. Although I dearly love yoga, it hasn't made it into my weekly rotation yet this year. I started strong that first month, but then between trying out a few new group exercise classes at the YMCA and getting back into running, Yoga fell by the way side. My plan is to start doing yoga Friday nights during April and see if that works well for me.

2.  Adhere to a monthly budget. The budget is always a work in progress. However, I think I am progressing! Eating the food already in my pantry comes directly back to this goal. I've been a little off track with my food budget (I get excited when I grocery shop, what can I say?!) and trying to cook and eat the food I've already purchased is really helping curb food spending. It isn't very exciting and I don't necessarily love the food I've been eating lately (which is probably why its been sitting in my freezer/pantry for so long), but I do love not spending money on food! First step, completed!

3.  Eat Clean 80% of the time.  I don't know for sure that I've met this goal, but I think I have come pretty close. Aside from the occasional dirty binge, I've been either making clean foods or eating at places that have relatively clean options (like the Hummus House!). So I'll go ahead a say I'm on track for goal number three. To ensure progress, I'm limiting eating out to once a week for the month of April.

4.  Move my body 4x week.  Now this took some time, but I gradually built up to it. With few exceptions (last week's travel being one of them- and even then I ran once and walked miles and miles all over DC) I'm doing pretty well with goal number four. Some things I've been doing- although incosistently- in March to meet this goal include Spinning, Pilates, running, and strength training. I'm amping it up a notch for April. Here is my workout plan for this month:

Sunday- Run 4-6 miles (I'm training for a 10k on May 12th so this will be increasing from 4 to 6 miles over the next few weeks.)
Monday- Core Performance (My strength training of choice.  Not too intense, but I always notice such a difference on it. It also really helps with my posture.)
Tuesday- Spinning and Pilates at the YMCA (LOVE LOVE LOVE the instructor! She's awesome!)
Wednesday- Run 5k
Thursday- Core Performance
Friday- Run 5k AM and Yoga PM
Saturday- Off

It is kind of intense to have a significant workout every day of the week and two on Tuesday nights, but I have some extra time right now and I really want to amp it up. If it gets to be too much, I have a back up plan that also gives me Wednesday as an off day.

And finally...

5.  Spend an hour each week doing something that is personally enriching.  I have been making a conscious effort to spend time doing things I enjoy. Mostly that has been fitting in my workout maybe I haven't fully grasped the purpose of this goal. Some of my enriching activites in the last few months include, hosting a Baseball Draft party, trying local restaurants in Indianapolis and D.C. while traveling, reading the Hunger Games trilogy, subscribing to Clean Eating magazine, movie dates with my hubby,and last Sunday I went to dinner and a movie with my mom and sister. I have more reading on the agenda for April (finishing up the last Hunger Games novel), there are a few movies I want to see, and lunch dates to plan with friends. I'd also like to fit in a beach trip if possible. :)

As you can see, I haven't been 100% with any of my goals so far this year. However, I really think that is the point of a "goal." It is something you are striving for. As long as I am making steady progress I'm happy, because that means I'll get there. Its the stagnant times you have watch out for!

<3 K.E.