8:00 AM and my alarm goes off. Already I am in a good mood. Why, you might ask? Because my first race of the season doesn’t start until 10:10 AM and that is fantastic! The birds are chirping, the sky is blue – already this is a vast improvement from last year’s Shamrock Shuffle where it was cold, gray, and on the verge of raining. Don’t get me wrong, it was still quite chilly out but somehow the cold factor is so much more bearable when the sun is shining.
I love the Shamrock Shuffle 5K because 1. It supports Tatum’s Bags of Fun which is a great organization that distributes backpacks filled with games, activities, and toys to every child diagnosed with cancer in Indiana. 2. It is by far one of my favorite race shirts EVER. They are so comfortable and soft it is not even funny. And it gives me something green to wear for St. Patrick’s Day. 3. It’s close to home so I don’t have to drive far or fight traffic for a parking spot. BONUS!
This year they made it even better because you got a super sweet green frog medal (the mascot for Tatum’s Bags of Fun). That’s an improvement from last year. I’m always down for some new race bling. They also improved the route from last year as well which is greatly appreciated. All in all – I really dig this race and because I was able to run in the inaugural race last year, I’ll probably want to keep running it every year. It’s not very often you get to be a part of an inaugural race.
Anyway – despite the sunshine it was still pretty chilly and the wind was brutal. Even with these two factors (and don’t forget a couple of hills), I was able to hit a new personal record for a 5K. My last personal record was in June of 2012 when I ran the Fishers Freedom Festival 5K. My official time was 24 minutes and 47 seconds. I’m super proud to say that I broke that PR today with an official time of 24 minutes and 32 seconds. My husband didn’t do too shabby either. He finished in 23 minutes and 40 seconds. We both were able to place in our age divisions, he placed 3rd and I placed 1st. This is the 3rd time we have both placed in a race together. I’m hoping this becomes a regular occurrence.
So my race season has officially started and it’s gotten off to a great start. I couldn’t be happier!
I’ll admit that I have fitness ADD. I find something that tickles my fancy and I engross myself in it until I really can’t stand it any longer. Actually – I’m that way with a lot of things. When I was in 7th grade, I asked my mom to make me salami and cheese sandwiches for lunch EVERY DAY. I ate the same sandwich EVERY DAY for lunch, Monday – Friday, for 7 months before I decided I was on another kick (peanut butter & fluff). I haven’t eaten a salami and cheese sandwich since. No lie. Anyway, when I first moved to Indiana I didn’t have any friends and I had left my family back in Pennsylvania. So naturally I immersed myself in the gym scene where I accidentally stumbled upon Zumba. I instantly fell in love. After the first class I found myself rearranging my schedule so that I could make it to every evening class that was available during the week (that also was taught by my favorite instructor). That love turned into me pursuing my group fitness certification and eventually teaching my own classes. This love affair with Zumba lasted for about 4 years until I decidedly became officially burnt out and it was no longer fun for me. I was dreading going to teach class and after teaching my own class and aside from taking classes from a select few, I found it hard to be part of the class again. So I was on to the next thing. Enter running.
I officially began running in 2011 while I was still in the midst of my Zumba phase. But as I was becoming more serious about running and training, Zumba began to take a back seat. In fact, after Lifestyle Family Fitness became LifeTime Fitness and I lost all of my LesMills classes (BodyPump, BodyAttack, and CXWorx), I really stopped enjoying group fitness all together. The classes at LifeTime Fitness (I only speak of the facility I was a member at, not the company itself) just didn’t measure up to what had been the caliber of classes and the instructors when it was Lifestyle. So I just focused on my running and lifting weights here and there.
Now I’m 3 years into running and while I still enjoy it – I’m looking to add something else to my weekly line up. I want something that is fun and engaging as well as promote long, lean muscles. My friend suggested Pure Barre. I’ve had a few friends now who have tried Pure Barre and absolutely LOVE IT. They rave about it. I also did some research about it and I decided to give it a shot. A nice thing about this company is that your first class is absolutely free so there is no risk in giving it a try. That is a major plus in my book!
I always go in to new workouts and classes with an open mind and try hard not to be biased. After my first Pure Barre class, here are my thoughts:
- The facility is really nice and clean. The front lobby area reminds me of a little boutique where you can buy accessories and Pure Barre gear.
- The front desk gal was super nice and welcoming. She gave me the short tour and a welcome goodie bag.
- The actual workout room is large and spacious. Everything looked clean and smelled clean (which is huge in a fitness facility). There was plenty of equipment (mats, balls, weights, and bands) for everyone.
- During the actual workout – my arms felt like they were getting a good workout despite the light weights, my legs were definitely shaking from time to time during the bar workout (hello plie squats!)
- Although I didn’t sweat, I felt like my major muscle groups got a pretty good workout.
- The instructor didn’t do the workout with the class. She walked around to check form (which I totally can appreciate), but she gave directions on the microphone which was about the same level as the music so it was sometimes difficult to hear what she was saying. Also, because she wasn’t always demonstrating, being new to the class and new to the lingo, I had NO IDEA what was going on.
- The lady next to me took my equipment instead of her own, so I was always 2 moves behind everyone else while scrambled to where her things were so I could also have equipment. That lady was so clueless, she had no idea that she even took my ball in the beginning. So that automatically threw me off from the start. For future reference, stand next to someone who looks like they know what they are doing.
- It was super crowded (good for them, not for me) – so I felt like I was going to hit the person next to me during the upper body weighted segment. Also – it was so crowded that when the instructor did do demonstrations on the bar, it was at the opposite end of the room and her back was facing the group (no mirror) so I still had no idea what she was doing. I tried to look around but the people in the class were all doing different things so I wasn’t sure who was doing it right.
- If you haven’t been going for a while, some of the directions make no sense. Her idea of a pulse and what I call a pulse are two different things. What in the world does pulse, freeze mean?
- The instructor didn’t ask if anyone was new in the beginning of class so when she finally came around to inform me that I was doing it wrong (which I already knew), I had to tell her that I was new and had no clue what she was talking about. After that she did a better job of circling around more to help when I obviously looked lost. Actually, I felt pretty dumb in this class and who likes to feel dumb? Not me.
- I checked my watch every 15 minutes – that’s not a good sign. It seriously felt like the longest hour of my life.
- It just didn’t have that spark for me. If I’m not super into the class within the first 15 minutes, I’m probably not going to come back. I do my best not to leave class in the middle because I don’t want to offend any instructor, but I was seriously ready to go after 20 minutes.
- It is SUPER EXPENSIVE. Even with my teacher discount, it is still $140 a month. Thats a bit pricey for only 1 type of class every day.
All in all – I can see why some people really enjoy this. My instructor was nice, she knew what she was doing, she was rehearsed, and the music was okay. I can tell I will be sore tomorrow because I used muscles that I don’t normally use in my regular workouts, but sadly this workout just isn’t for me. I just couldn’t get into it and for that money, I need to be addicted.
Since my last few attempts at making spaghetti squash have been absolute fails (I’m still figuring out my
new antiquated oven), my latest thing has been zucchini noodles. A few months ago I purchased a julienne peeler to make my noodles. While it does the job, it takes FOREVER and it wastes a lot of the zucchini. I feel bad wasting any food so I went a bought a mandolin slicer that has a julienne blade. Well, the worked too but I still couldn’t use most of the zucchini for fear of slicing my fingers off. The nifty finger guard only works of you are slicing it like chips and not like noodles. So that was kind of a bust (however it does work well for making sweet potato home fries but that’s another blog). Then I saw a picture in my new cookbook Against All Grains of a spiralizer. I had to have it.
I busted it out for the first time tonight to make some real zucchini noodles and let me tell you, my life is now complete. I spiralized 4 large zucchini in roughly 5 minutes! And out came these long beautiful noodles. I cooked them in some olive oil and dumped some pasta sauce on top. It was magnificent. I could twirl my zucchini noodles like real noodles. It was awesome! I will probably never julienne my zucchini or squash ever again. It’s the spiralizer all the way.
As I say goodbye to 2013, it’s nice to take a look down memory lane and remind myself that although there were some of the rough goes that each year brings, there were also some high points too. It is so important to keep these high points in your memory to remind you that life isn’t that bad and when you are feeling down and out, you can always pull on your best memories to keep yourself in check.
So more as a reminder to myself when I’m feeling bad about my nutrition (or lack thereof), how I’ve fallen off the workout wagon (I will get back on soon, I promise), or how I continuously make excuses why I’m not making it to the gym (it’s freaking cold outside!) – I can take a look back at my 2013 and know that if I did it once, I can do it again, and if I stick to it I can probably do it better.
Without further ado – my top 10 2013 fitness highlights…
1. I climbed 36 flights of stairs. That’s 780 steps and 500 feet straight up in 7 minutes and 6 seconds coming in 3rd place in my age group and 206th out of 1,068 people. Not bad for my first try and not training.
2. I hit a new personal record for my 2nd half marathon. I ran the OneAmerica 500 half marathon in exactly 2 hours, which of course was my goal. I’m so proud of that number and I’m hoping to maybe hit a new PR in 2014.
3. I placed 3rd in my age division at the KeyBank 8K during the Carmel Marathon Weekend. This put me in the running for the Triple Crown Series.
4. I placed 3rd in my age division along with my husband at the Geist 5K this year and we ran the 5 miles back to the car in the rain. It was definitely a memorable race.
5. I won 1st place in my age division in the Triple Crown Series 8K events (KeyBank 8K, Eagle Creek 8K, Hoosier Park 8K). The first time I’ve ever placed 1st in anything!
6. I placed 1st in my age division at the Noblesville Fit Fest 5K. The second time I’ve placed 1st in a race and it was in the same year!
7. With the support of a few friends, I completed my first Whole30 program without any cheats or having to start over. Through this program (and a lot of testing and doctor visits) I was able to determine that I have a gluten and dairy intolerance that was causing some undesirable effects on my body. I have now since remedied those and I am feeling WAY better.
8. I was able to help a friend run in her first half marathon and ensure that she reached her goal of finishing in 2 hours and 30 minutes or less. There were times where she wanted to stop but together we pushed through and we ended up beating her goal by a few minutes. I am truly blessed to have been able to be a part of that experience with her.
9. I tried many new fitness activities in 2013 including CrossFit, SkyZone Skyrobics (trampoline exercises), Insanity, Hip Hop Abs, and Boxing to name a few. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone allowed me to realize that there are some activities that I really enjoy that I never thought I would and others that just aren’t the right fit for me and that is COMPLETELY okay.
10. I had a 2013 goal to run 12 races in 12 months and I met my goal. I used to be that person who said, “The only way I would run is if someone was chasing me,” or “Look at those people running outside. They look miserable.” I never thought I would have enjoyed running as much as I do and I look forward to keeping up with this fitness adventure in 2014. Perhaps 14 races in 2014 should be my next goal. What do you think?
Happy New Year!
At the end of November I had these grandiose plans to watch a Christmas movie every night until Christmas with my husband. Of course then my husband had to go to Texas for work the first week of December so that didn’t work out so well. The following week seemed to fly by as we were preparing to go back to Texas for a company Christmas party. Now all of a sudden we are in the third week of December, Christmas is 8 days away and we have yet to watch a single Christmas movie. To be quite honest, I’m lucky we even got our tree up and some decorations. With all of his traveling early on, my husband didn’t even want to put up decorations in the first place. It wasn’t until I had a good friend offer to come over and help me put up the tree did my husband change his tune. (Thanks Z!)
Even with Christmas music playing around the clock, stockings hung on the chimney with care, and presents under the tree – I felt like I still hadn’t fully gotten into the Christmas spirit. I remember growing up, ever since I can remember, my mom spending an entire weekend baking TONS and TONS of homemade Christmas cookies from scratch and then sending me off to deliver them to all of the surrounding neighbors. I found this very embarrassing as a child but now I think it would be rather fun to catch up with some old neighbors. She would make baklava, pizzelle cookies, chocolate covered peanut butter balls, Christmas shaped sugar cookies with holiday sprinkles, kiffles, macaroons, Madeline cookies, and jam thumbprint cookies. Yeah, my mom was a cookie rock star.
I love to bake, but I’m not very patient and I don’t like cleaning up big messes. So if it involves rolling out dough, rolling dough in sugar or sprinkles, or dipping things in chocolate and setting them out on wax paper to dry you can probably count me out. In fact – in my 6 1/2 years of marriage I’ve only “baked” Christmas cookies once and I think that was our first year together. And I didn’t actually make anything from scratch. I went to the local grocery store, bought every kind of cut and bake cookie available, baked them, and handed them out in pretty tins. So I guess that doesn’t really count. Since then, I’ve just handed out Christmas cards to my neighbors and I make my husband stick them in the mailboxes.
This year I wanted to be different. I wanted to get as Christmas-y as I possibly could in the midst of all of our hustle and bustle with our new house, getting settled, working, and every day life. So tonight, for the first time in my married life, I made Christmas cookies. Actually, I just made cookies but I will call them Christmas cookies because they are for Christmas. I decided to keep my list of cookies short since: 1. I can’t eat the cookies myself due to being gluten and lactose intolerant. 2. My husband doesn’t really eat sweets so the leftovers would probably go bad before they were eaten. 3. I don’t have that many new neighbors to hand out cookies to.
So on my list to make were Blondies (which is like a blonde brownie, I guess), chocolate chip cookies, Heath cookies, and mint chocolate cookies. I figure you can’t go wrong with the basics and everyone likes the standard “go to” cookies. I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies? And the mint chocolate cookies were Christmas-y, sort of. I decorated the festive holiday plates (courtesy of the dollar store) with Hershey Kisses to give it that extra holiday effect and slapped a Christmas card on top to solidify the fact that these were indeed Christmas cookies. I even hand delivered them to my neighbor myself. Mom, aren’t you proud of me? (I’m still debating about the other neighbor. I don’t have their contact info, I don’t know if they are home, and it’s not safe to leave food on the doorstep when you live on a wooded lot.)
Anyway – 129 cookies, 4 cookie plates, 1 special plate for the hubby, and 1 huge ziplock full of leftover cookies, I can officially say I’ve made homemade Christmas cookies. Tis the Season!
So this year I made pumpkin custard which literally was like pumpkin pie filling in a dish rather than in a crust baked in a water bath. Since I only made 4 custards, I was left with some extra pumpkin custard filling. Not being one to waste things, I decided to bake some muffins (which could easily be pumpkin bread if you wanted). In fact – you could probably use this recipe and just omit the pumpkin custard if you wanted and just use the base recipe if you wanted. Either way – these turned out to be super tasty and I’ll be turning this into an after Thanksgiving tradition.
Yields 30 regular sized muffins or 2 loaves of bread
1 cup leftover pumpkin custard
1 – 15 oz. can pumpkin (not pie filling)
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar, granulated
1 cup sugar-free applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup oat flour
1 cup gluten-free baking flour
1 1/2 cups almond flour/meal
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup water
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your muffin tin or lightly grease your glass loaf pans.
- In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin custard, pumpkin, eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract. Set aside. In a larger bowl, thoroughly mix together all of the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring constantly.
- Once everything is mixed together, add the water and stir.
- Evenly distribute the batter into your muffin tins or loaf pans.
- If baking bread – cook for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- If baking muffins – cook for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
This year I made an entirely gluten and dairy free menu for Thanksgiving. I was also in charge of coming up with the dessert. Wanting to keep with tradition I came up with a pumpkin custard which I topped with a fantastic soy whipped cream which tasted pretty fantastic. (It looks like a redi whip container.) It is a super simple recipe and I’ll definitely be making this every year.
Yields 4 – 5 custards
1- 15 oz. can pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 – 16 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar, granulated
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in the coconut milk. Evenly pour into 4-inch diameter ceramic custard dishes.
- Place dishes into an oven safe baking pan. Pour hot water into the baking pan so it comes about 1/2 inch high on the glass dishes.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes before reducing the heat to 350 degrees and baking for another 40-45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
- Serve warm topped with soy whipped cream (or all by itself) or refrigerate and serve cold later.