Monday, May 28, 2012

Vacation Moderation?

Is it possible to go on vacation and maintain your healthy lifestyle?  I am setting out to prove it is not only possible, but easy and still enjoyable.   I plan to allow myself a couple of indulgences, it is vacation after all, but for the most part I plan to stick to my healthy eating and exercising lifestyle.

My vacation officially started on Sunday night.  Holiday or no holiday, Sunday is usually the day I have my weekly indulgence meal.  We call it Sunday Funday.  After following a pretty strict diet all week, Sunday is the day we loosen up a bit.  We like to sit on an outdoor patio for lunch, eat chips and queso and drink a beer or two.  I generally eat something relatively healthy, today I had two grilled fish tacos on soft corn tortillas, and I let the tortilla chips and beer be my indulgence.  I like to have my "bad" meal at lunchtime, because I feel like I have the whole rest of the day to burn it off.  I go back to eating healthy for Sunday dinner.  Hubby and I had our own little cook-out for Memorial day eve.   I had shrimp and pineapple on the grill and a glass of red wine.

grilled shrimp & pineapple yum-o
me enjoying my skewer and Candy hoping I drop something
I am pretty excited.  I am off work on Memorial Day, I have to work a 1/2 day on Tuesday and then Wednesday morning I am going to Los Angeles to see an old friend (let me rephrase that: a long-time-youthful-friend) and to see Jack White in concert.  Hubby is staying home to hold down the fort and build a skateboard ramp, but that is a blog for another day.

I will only be out of town for three days.  My goal is to workout at least a little bit everyday and eat healthy most of the time.  I planned my workout schedule so that on Wednesday, the day I am traveling, it will be my rest day.  I just need to squeeze in my daily one mile walk.  On the beach?  Yeah, that will be rough.

I plan to eat sushi (my favorite indulgence) while I am there and  have one other cheat meal.  I am packing snacks for the plane, protein powder for breakfasts and plan to hit the grocery store once I arrive for some essentials like fruit and La Croix.

As far as exercise, besides my daily mile on Wednesday and daily planks, I am planning on running 2.5 to 3 miles on Thursday and Friday morning and squeezing in at least one quick strength training workout.  Maybe some variation of this workout I found on Pinterest.
I love Pinterest.

I have a solid plan and planning to succeed is the first step!  Wish me luck.  I'll let you know how it went when I get back next week-end!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Contribution to Pinterest

I love Pinterest.  I am severely slightly addicted.  I decided to make my own contribution to the Pinterest world. 

Follow Me on Pinterest

I case you don't know me, my name is Lea.  I fancy myself a runner, but I have recently gotten into weight training, which has massively changed my weekly training schedule.  After starting a more serious weight training routine in February of this year, I run less miles a week than ever, but I am smaller than I have been since high school (aka: a long time ago).  Running will always be my first true fitness love, but a more well rounded fitness regimen has really been working for me.  Now my fitness goals are to develop visible ab and arm muscles (Ala Jillian Michaels).  I can do it and so can you.

I have two passions and therefore write two separate but equal blogs.  Running for Dummies is about running, fitness, weight training, nutrition & motivation.  Don't let the name fool you, really smart people like me run too.  :) I hope you will follow me on my blog here and also "like" me on Facebook.  I'll be happy to return the favor for fellow running or fitness bloggers.

My other blog, Fell in Love with a Band, is about my love for music, vinyl, concerts and Jack White.  If you have similar passions, you can follow my blog and "like" me on Facebook.

Of course, no social media portfolio is complete without a Twitter account. You can follow me @Gealenders.

I post my workouts on dailymile here.

I had a few ideas bouncing around in my head, so I made a couple of my own Pinterest Pins.  I hope you enjoy my personal contribution to Pinterest. They say being a contributing member of Pinterest means to not just repin things that other people people pin, but to pin fresh content from the internet and also create your own pins.
I saw someone holding this sign up at a race and it made me laugh.

Is it just me?  OK, I got called out on this one.  I'm not actually 40 yet.  I'm still a youthful 37.

I love my husband!

I couldn't resist adding some Jack White love.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Challenge Yourself

I think it is important to keep challenging yourself, no matter where you are in your fitness journey. Sometimes you commit to making changes for the long run, like you might for New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, per say.  Not to say that you shouldn’t make resolutions at the start of the new year, you can check out my own 2012 resolutions here.   I just think you shouldn’t wait for a new year to better yourself.  Start now.  Yes, right now.  Drop and give me 20.  (I’m serious.  GO!) See, now don’t you feel healthier already?

I like the idea of a 30 day challenge, perhaps to try-out a new lifestyle or healthy habit.  30 days of eating only natural whole foods, 30 days of no sugar, 30 days without Diet soda, 30 days of Yoga, 30 days of walking, 30 days of no alcohol, 30 days of not cursing, 30 days not beating your kids (just kidding).  Just a few ideas.  Do something new every day for 30 days and see how you feel.  After 30 days of staying committed to something, maybe you will have developed a new healthy habit.  The worst that could happen is that you will decide this particular thing wasn’t for you and will you move on to something else, now a better, more experienced person for have given it a shot.  Either way, it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you do exactly what you said you were going to do. Please don't feel like you have to wait for a new month to get started.  30 days starting N.O.W.

Here are a couple of examples of personal challenges that I am doing right now.

Most of mine are long term, but could easily be adapted to 30 day trials.  You will see some of  these are very small changes that take up very little time each day.  It is about creating new positive lifestyle changes, one small step at a time.
  • I run one race each month in 2012.  So far I am on track!  I love running races (and blogging the recaps).  You don't have to be so aggressive.  Sign up for a 5K that is three months from now and Google a "Couch to 5K plan".   Get started today.

  • I run at least one mile a day, every day in 2012.  I run more than one mile most days.  On weight training days I am sure to squeeze in at least one mile on the treadmill, and on rest days I walk a mile.  When I had a pulled muscle in my leg this month, I walked one mile every day since I couldn’t run.  It feels good to strap on those shoes every day, no matter what.  I can’t believe Hubby and I have been doing this for almost 5 months.   We made a commitment and stuck to it.  Now it is second nature and it only takes between 8 and 15 minutes a day, depending if I run or walk. 
  • I do a daily plank.  I started this on March 26.  I started with a one minute plank every day, but as I have gotten stronger, I have built up to 2:30-3 minutes a day.  Sometimes now I do planks twice a day.  Once in the morning with my weight training and then again in the evening at home.  Do I notice a difference in my ab definition and strength? You betcha!  A simple minute or two a day can make a big difference! Now who doesn’t have two minutes a day?

Candy looking on as I do my daily plank
  • I drink 2 tablespoons of raw organic apple cider vinegar diluted in water three times a day before a meal.  I started this one on April 29.  I got the idea when I read Tosca Reno's blog on the subject.  Yes, it tasted gross at first.  Is this what they mean when they say No pain, No gain?  By the start of the second week I was used to the taste, although hubby refers to it as Nasty-Juice.  There are many documented health benefits of drinking raw organic apple cider.   Call me crazy, but I swear I notice a difference in muscle definition in my abs since I started.  I'm going to continue to drink it along with eating clean and working out 6 days a week and see if it continues to make a difference for me like it did for Tosca.  You didn't think I was suggesting that ACV would have any effect on your abs without eating right and working out did you? Of course not.
  • Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (bought at Kroger and Central Market)
  • I keep a journal and read my goals everyday.  I write everyday.  It doesn't have to be a novel or a blog post.  I just try to keep writing private entries to myself.  I always write about my day, my morning weight, a general description of my workout for the day (I keep detailed weight lifting logs separately), about anything exciting or unusual that day, my mood, my lunch, oil changes, periods, sometimes a bowel movement if it seems important at the time. :) How did I know I started my daily planks on March 26 and ACV on April 29?  I looked it up in my journal.  I filled up the front and back cover by writing out  my long and short term goals and aspirations, including goal pictures, so I can read them every day, sometimes twice a day.  Write down your goals and read them every single day!  It really helps me to stay motivated! 
My Journal

Pick something, any small step into a healthier lifestyle, and commit to finishing 30 days of something new. Start today! So tell me, how are you going to challenge yourself?

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Week of Rest & Recovery

Last Sunday I ran the Heels & Hills  Half Marathon.  It was a really fun race on a beautiful course and I was happy with my performance, although not a PR, still pretty good considering I ran it on about 4 hours sleep.   I felt fine after the race, but I must have done something to cause a pulled muscle.

Monday morning I skipped my lower body weight work out to allow my legs to recover, as I usually do after a Sunday race.   I went to work as normal wearing my favorite Target wedge sandals that I wear almost every day.  

Something weird started to happen by the very end of the work day.  After walking around normally all day,  I stood up from my desk chair and my left ankle slid off the side of my shoe.  Now, I am clumsy.  REALLY clumsy.  So, at first I didn’t think anything of it.  But then I started walking and every 4th or 5th step my ankle would collapse off the side of the wedge.  It was kind of like I was trying to walk in heels with a foot that was asleep, except my foot wasn’t asleep.  The more I walked, the worse it got.   I had to take my shoes off and limp to my car at the end of the work day.  The strangest part was there no pain, I just couldn’t support my ankle in those shoes.  

Was it the shoe's fault? Or the 13.1 miles?
Source: via Lisa on Pinterest

Tuesday morning, I put on those same shoes and did a test walk around the house in the morning and everything seemed to be fine.  Maybe I should have worn different shoes, but I was walking normally (and fashion before function, right)?  Well, by noon on Tuesday I was having the same problem, except this time, by the end of the day I could feel a pulled muscle on the side of my left leg.  I brought a pair of tennis shoes to work as back up and wore those for the remainder of the day. I skipped my regular Tuesday afternoon run and decided right then that this would be my rest and recovery week.  I would still do my weight workouts on Wednesday and Friday (I already skipped Monday’s weights, remember).  I would still do my daily 2 minute plank and walk (repeat: walk) my daily mile to keep my new year’s resolution of running or walking at least one mile every day in 2012.  No  running.  This week I had to rest.  As hard as it is for me, I knew staying off of it was the right thing to do.  I have made the mistake of running through injuries before and it only extends the length of time and the severity of the injury.

It was strange for me not to work out all week.  In the scheme of a week, two one hour long weight workouts on Wednesday and Friday barely felt like I did anything.  I had these images in my head of the scale blowing up because I didn’t run for a week. I ate the same as I always do, even though I did wonder if I should cut my calories because of the reduced cardio, but I didn’t end up cutting any calories.  Low-and-behold my weight stayed exactly the same all week.

By Saturday I couldn’t feel any more pain. I almost couldn’t believe it was healing so quickly.  Staying off it really paid off.   I decided to continue to let it rest over the week-end just to be sure, and try to run again on Monday.  I am happy to report that this Monday morning on the tready before my weight workout, I felt great!  No pain what-so-ever.  I pushed myself to go faster and harder.  Instead of suffering from the hard work-out, I could only feel elation that I could run again so soon.  Sometimes it takes something being taken away from you to make you realize how much you appreciate it.

The thing about taking time off is that if it wasn’t for an injury (or sickness or other uncontrollable circumstance), I probably would never allow myself to do it for a whole week.  I just finished up the Body for Life 12 week program, so the timing was perfect.  Our bodies need to take a break for more than a day occasionally, probably several times a year.  So this morning I am thankful for the injury, as it gave me a needed break that I wouldn’t have taken otherwise.  I feel like now after a week off,  I can come  back stronger, faster and more motivated than ever. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Healthy Spinach & Turkey Stuffed Mushrooms

(Disclaimer) I am not a cook and this is not a food blog. Far from it. I blog about running and my dog. My blog used to be called running for dummies, for today only, I'll call this blog Cooking by a Dummy. My husband was appalled when when he learned many years ago that I was part Italian. You're Italian and you can't cook?

Over the years I developed enough skills to prepare basic healthy dinners, but when trying new complicated recipes I almost always need to call my more domesticated sister or Mother to help out with the detail.

My prowess in the kitchen begins & ends with my almost-famous glutenous (not-at-all-healthy) green bean casserole, that has been a hit among my husbands various band-mates throughout the years. Green bean casserole aside, I like to eat healthy and I came up with this recipe by combining several recipes that I stole borrowed from Pinterest.  We eat this at least once a week. It is one of my favorite healthy meals of the week.

  • 1 pound of 100% natural lean ground turkey
  • 2 large mushroom caps
  • 5 oz of frozen chopped spinach (steamed) 
  • 1/2 cup of plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 small onion
  •  Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350

Bake the mushroom caps stem side down for 10 minutes. When ready, flip them over and cut off the stem and scoop out the fins. I mean gills. I warned you I wasn't a cook. I can't be expected to remember all the proper mushroom terminology. Maybe this lady on you-tube can better describe what to do here. She makes it look so easy. Mine wasn't as pretty but it doesn't have to be pretty to taste delicious. 

peppers and onions all chopped up
In the meantime cook the turkey meat in a skillet over medium heat and steam the frozen spinach in a separate pot. Hubby is the more experimental of the two of us and often refers to himself as Chef-Boy-Russ-G.  I usually catch him sprinkling some spices into the meat as he walks through the kitchen. I can't be 100% sure, but probably some Creole, Cayenne and Greek seasoning. I can't give you exact measurements, but again, this is not a food blog.

everything cooking on the skillet
Once the meat is no longer pink, drain the grease and add the steamed spinach, peppers and onions. I also take all the mushroom guts (guts? gills? whatever) that I scooped out and add them to the meat mixture. It's all edible, (I had to Google it to make sure). Continue stirring stove top until all is combined and heated through. Remove from heat, add the Greek yogurt and stir it up!

Spoon the meat mixture into the mushroom caps and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.  I build mine pretty high and top with a little Parmesan cheese. Truth be told, we usually have more meat mixture than the mushroom caps will hold, so we end up eating the left over meat mixture right out of the pan while we are waiting for the mushroom caps to cook. I guess normal people would buy a couple of more mushroom caps to have a proper dinner and left-overs. 

There you have it!  An easy, healthy, low fat, low carb dinner for two!  I'd love to hear what you think!

Spinach and Turkey Stuffed Mushrooms

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Keep Running,


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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Heels & Hills Half (and Humidity) May 6 2012

The cutest technical race shirt EVER!
I ran the Heels & Heels Half Marathon this morning in Irving, TX.  If you know me, you already know that my hubby plays drums in a rock band called The Dangits.  Last night, the night before the race, they had a show in Fort Worth.  Being the always-supportive wife that I am, I didn't want to miss his show, but I knew I had to be up early (5:20am gasp) for the race.   So we compromised.  I would stay and watch him play, but the minute the band left the stage, we would load up the car with his drums and I would race home to bed and he would catch a ride to come home later after the other bands performed.  Seemed reasonable enough.  The only thing I didn't factor in is that it is hard to go from a loud concert to a quiet bed and expect to fall asleep as fast as usual.

Amber and me at the show.  Wide awake about 11PM.

I was home by 11:45 and hit the hay, but my adrenaline was high and I couldn't fall asleep right away.  I am sure it was some combination of the concert, my nerves for the race in the morning, and the fact that hubby wasn't laying next to me.  Normally, I would have skipped the show all together the night before a big race, but this is my 7th half marathon now and my 6th just since October of 2011.  I hit my goal at the Dallas Rock 'n Roll Half of a sub 2 hour half marathon, so the pressure was a bit less than usual.  I decided to take it kind of easy and not be so concerned with my finish time. If I don't do as well as last time because I am a little tired from being up too late, oh well.  Let's just run this one and have fun.

I tossed and turned until about 1:00am when hubby came home and didn't fall into a continuous sleep until about 1:30am.  The alarm was set for 5:20.  Yikes!  I am an 8 hour a night sleep kind of girl.  I don't function well without sleep.  I had anxiety dreams about over sleeping and missing the race. When the alarm went off, I jumped out of bed surprisingly fast and felt better than I thought I would.  The excitement of the race was fueling my morning.  I downed a couple cups of coffee and a banana and I was out the door.

They recommended arriving one hour before start time to allow for parking, so I left the house at 6am and headed to Irving/Los Colinas.  I arrived right at 6:30am, easily parked my car (for free) in the plentiful parking spaces in the parking garages near the start line and was ready to go by 6:35am.  I used the porta-potty's that had no lines, were not gross (yet), and was kind of shocked at how easy and painless the whole process was so far.  Usually the driving/parking/bathroom situations are the most dreaded part of a race for me.

Now, I have an hour to kill before the start time.  They start off with the one mile fun run for the little kids and it was cute to see the smiles on their tiny faces as they crossed the finish line, especially the little boy who came in first place. 

Since I had some time to kill and the Mustangs of Los Colinas were right there, I took a few pre-race pictures.

Me and the Mustangs, pre-race
A few minutes before start time I started to look for a pace group to follow.  This race had the Men-In-Skirts Half Marathon Pacers, which was good for a chuckle or two.  I found a 1:55 pacer and a 2:00 pacer.  I wanted to fall somewhere in between, so I choose the 1:55 finisher and I figured if I fell behind I would still do pretty well.   A 1:55 finish time is a 8:58 avg pace, which I easily beat last month in my last 10K with an 8:30 avg pace, but I wasn't confidant that I could maintain that for 13.1 miles.  I was gonna try.

Just before the start time, I look over and notice the girl next to me has her name printed on her bib and it is Lea.  Just like me, without an H.  That is pretty rare.  Now, if you read my race blogs, you know that when the race results are searchable by first name, I like to declare myself first place winner out of women named Lea or Leah and so far, I have been undefeated by another Lea(h)!  The fastest Lea in Dallas/Fort Worth!  Since I know I will never come in first place in my sex or age group, this gives me a small amount of silly meaningless joy.  Now here I was at the start line, standing next to the same pacer as my only competitor, "the other Lea!"  Little did she know I had my sights set on beating her.  Little did I know, she was about to kick my butt.

7:30am arrived and we were off!  I was feeling pretty good.  I easily stayed with the pacer and the other Lea for miles and miles.  It was cloudy, overcast and HUMID!  Within the first mile, my pacers shirt was nearly soaking wet (OK, mine was too).  The course was beautiful, following the Campion Trails in Los Colinas.  While the race name is Heels & Hills it neither required wearing heels or had many hills.  This is what the Heels & Hills official website had to say about that:

"Course: A couple years ago, the City of Irving asked Heels and Hills to showcase their beautiful Campion Trails, and we're happy to work with them as the city paved trail weaves through woods, along the city canal system, by ponds, and beautiful neighborhoods! The course features these trails and the streets in the Las Colinas Blvd / Williams Square area. The word "hills" in the race is part of the "cute" name and not literal. The first two years of the race used a different course which had some hills, but the course for the last three years, since starting to utilize Campion Trails, is fairly flat".

I started to catch myself counting down the miles as early as mile 3.  This is not a good sign of a good mental race.  My mind always gives out before my body does, so I have to try not to focus on miles (i.e. how many more to go) and repeat positive thoughts in my head like, this is easy.  You know, lie to myself.   For some reason, my brain was a little too distracted to focus mentally on the positive like I needed to.  Too much coffee?  Too little sleep?  Probably.

I love the people holding encouraging signs along the course.  They are a nice distraction and give me a little chuckle as I run by.  I recreated my favorite from the race.  

After mile 9, I officially lost sight of my pace group.  I was OK with it.  The excitement and initial adrenaline was wearing off,  I was feeling tired, it was hot and humid, and my lack of sleep was catching up with me.  Just keep pushing, I told myself.  Go as slow as you need to, just don't walk!  My breathing was fine, my legs were fine (my back was hurting a little), I didn't NEED to walk, it was ALL mental and I knew it.  However, I gave in to walking at a water station around mile 11.   I stopped to drink some water and took the opportunity to walk a bit.  It was then, that the 2:00 pacer passed me.  OH NO!  Now, I was OK with not setting a new PR (you can't expect to PR every single race), and I accepted reality of not finishing at 1:55 (that Lea killed me), but I wanted to finish around the two hour mark.  I wasn't going to split hairs about a minute or two.  Not this time.  I tried to pick up the pace to get back on track but I was simply running out of steam.  I know once again, that my mistake was starting the first half of the race too fast.  I finished the Dallas Rock 'n Roll Half in under two when I made a conscious effort not to go too fast the first half of the race.  I was too caught up in staying with the pacer and beating Lea, that this little piece of common sense went out the window.  This whole Lea thing is silly, I know.

At mile 12, Jack sang to me "Stop Breaking Down", but my body wasn't listening to Jack.  I was definitely breaking down.  I fought through the painful last mile, focusing on the cheat/refuel/celebration lunch that I would consume after finishing this race.  I fist pumped through the finish line, because that makes me laugh when I see the race photos (that I never buy).  They hand me my race medal and take my chip timer before I sat in the grass to recuperate with a banana and chatted with a fellow finisher for a few minutes before heading back to my car.

Race Medal

Final Results: 2:01:53

Overall: 58 out of 703.  Not too shabby for less than 5 hours of sleep!
Females 35-39: 13 out of 116
Women named Lea: Dead Last.  Or 2nd place.  You know what they say, 2nd place is first loser.  My winning streak against all running Lea's has ended! 

Overall it was a really fun race, with a super cute technical shirt and medal.  I will definitely run this one again next year and will try to get more sleep next time!

Time for a nap!


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