My Top 5 Health and Fitness Decisions

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I saw this post on Renee’s blog (forever ago) and loved that it was fun and introspective.  She has made a lot of healthy changes and is a huge inspiration!  It was tough to pick just 5 meaningful healthy moments in my 30+ years, but here it goes…

1. Joining Junior High Cross Country

Okay, so in all fairness, this was not really my decision.  It was my mothers.  She sent me to school on the first day of 6th grade with a bag and proclaimed ‘You’re on the cross country team’.

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I was lucky to find that some of my friends’ moms did the same thing (along with some of my soon to be friends).  Together we tackled 6th grade cross country, chatting through most of our runs and learning how to push ourselves and compete.  Although few of them showed up for cross country on the first day of 7th grade, I was hooked.   And as they say…the rest is history!  (I really did do a post on my running history and lifelong love of running from here to now that’s a fun recap of the years since 6th grade)

2. Listening to my Stomach

In high school, I started really struggling with my stomach.  Sure, there had been signs before then that dairy was not my friend but in high school, it was at it’s absolute worst.  I even remember one day declaring that I was ‘allergic to all food’ because everything I ate disrupted my stomach.  It was here that I learned what I could and could not eat (yes, peanut butter I’m talking to you) before exercise and cross country meets.  Although I can’t tell you the exact day that I became fed up and ready to listen to my body, eventually I did.  I learned what worked for me and what didn’t and changed my diet accordingly.  I was able to go off the meds I’d been taking daily and no longer had to leave a restaurant mid meal to curl up in the car because my stomach hurt so bad.  It was empowering!  Although there have been bumps along the road (I was less conscious in college and had a huge flare up in grad school), overall I am much happier and healthy since listening and respecting my tummy!

3. Buying a Bike

When I lived in Tennessee, I talked about wanting a bike but really didn’t have anywhere to ride one.  Fast forward to my move back home and life in Evanston.  With great access to the lake shore path and plenty of places to ride, I bought my first bike since elementary school and rode it everywhere.  I did Bike the Drive with my family and my first triathlon.  I rode some of RAGBRAI with my mom and then purchased a second (faster) bike.

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There is much fun and fitness Ode to My Bike…and many more bike adventures to come!

4. Committing to 8 Hours of Sleep

Yes, you heard it…I get 8 hours of sleep a night (most nights) and make a point to get myself into bed with enough time to read and unwind before falling asleep.  Although I can’t always get the full 8, I rarely get less than 7 during the week and try to stock up as needed during the weekends, napping when necessary.  Adequate sleep is important for me to function at my best.  When I am well rested, I make better food and health decisions, stay healthy, and manage my stress….all good things!

5. Taking Rainbow Kids Teacher Training

It was on my mat one day at a studio in the city with my mom and friends that I decided that I wanted to teach kids yoga.  Not just incorporate it into my treatments, but really learn how to teach kids yoga. I announced as much to my mom and set out to make it happen.  June last year, I took my training in New York. 

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I loved every moment of it…spending three straight days with like minded yogi’s (some of which who also work in health care) was unbelievable!  I learned so many techniques, games, and ideas that have guided my teaching throughout the past year.  It also encouraged me to push myself to be more creative, energetic, and fun with every session.  I have much more to learn but this definitely sent me down the path of becoming a kids yoga instructor, expanding my therapist role, and reaching my goal.

What are some of your best health decisions?

Honorary Mentions

Adopting Cooper

Flossing my teeth daily

Giving up fast food

Drinking more water

Taking my first yoga class

Cleaning up my diet

Wearing daily SPF

Committing to strength training

Giving up Crystal Lite and (almost) giving up diet soda

Running a marathon (then two)

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Bucket List 2015

It’s already 31 days into January, and I have no excuse!   Well except for the fact that I’ve been super busy living up the start of 2015 instead of planning for the year ahead…I know, so not like me!  But while I’ve been running, working, yoga-ing, studying, and hanging, I have been thinking about what I want this year to look like.  Which leads me to my 2015 bucket list.  It’s going to be a special and memorable year, and it’s going to be a busy one.  So my main focus is on being present, enjoying all the little moments, focusing on friends and family and keeping everything in perspective!  Sounds great!

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2015 Bucket List

LIFE

Set and follow a budget (for real!)

Pass my test

Have a fun stress free wedding day

Stay healthy

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BODY

Do a triathlon

Feel confident in a bikini

Continue to build muscle strength

Keep my skin healthy

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MIND

Be present

Teach more yoga/take yoga trainings

Read good books

Give back and volunteer

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What are you hoping to accomplish in 2015?

I’m definitely expecting a lot more fun…

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The First Step is Admitting There is a Problem

 

 

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And I have a problem!  A work/life balance problem.  This blog is full of signs that my life has been off (let’s not go searching for them), but I can tell you that my stress levels have been through the roof, I’ve gained weight, I don’t have as much time for family and friends (or the BOY) that I’d like, and I feel like life is moving faster than I can catch up.  Just to name a few…

 

Furthermore, I seem to have lost sight of the big picture (a long healthy and active life) by getting bogged (and maybe sometimes dragged) down in miniscule daily stresses.  A change needed to be made!  It was time to figure out a solution. 

 

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I’ve known for a few months that I needed to make a change to my work situation, but I just wasn’t sure what that meant.  Professionally, I love what I do!  I work with incredible people who have inspired me and and encouraged my growth.  However, a job in pediatric health care is physically and emotionally exhausting.  Top that with a 60 mile round trip daily commute, 11+ hour work days, and a desire to train for new and exciting races…well, you get the picture.  Over the past few months,  I’ve had countless conversations with the BOY and my family who have listened patiently and shared their advice and suggestions.   Recently I decided to speak with my company about cutting my work hours from 4 days to just 2 beginning in June making today my last day as a full time employee.

 

This was not an easy decision.  We are taught that after high school, we should go off to college, get a degree, pursue a career, take a job with good benefits, and work hard.  There is no path that suggests it is wise to decrease your income by 50% (while your boyfriend/roommate is in law school non the less), yet this unmarked trail is the one I am looking forward to exploring.

 

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There were a few details that needed to be worked out (ie health insurance), yet the transition (thus far) has gone more smoothly than I expected.  Professionally, this change will allow me to explore other areas of interest and development that I have not had the time or energy to do in the past few years.  Personally, I am looking forward to catching up on sleep, meeting friends for lunch, learning tennis with the BOY, playing in the city with my family, reading more books, spending less money on tolls, getting to know my neighbors, updating my blog, going on vacation, doing more yoga, cooking dinners, responding to emails, taking a class, breathing fresh air, and feeling like a well rounded healthy adult.

Doesn’t that just sound wonderful?

 

Although this change was intended as a trial for summer, I am really hoping to have a more permanent, non-traditional work situation figured out by the fall that allows me to balance my love of working with children, helping others, and developing knowledge and skill, with the joy from spending time with my family and friends, relaxing, and playing!

 

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I am proud to have the courage to take this risk.  And…I am optimistic that I will discover professional opportunities and learn more about myself that will clear the path towards a successful, healthy, and unknown future!

 

 

How do you balance work, life, family, friends and fun?

Have you ever made a big professional change?

Ch Ch Chia-What’s the Hype?

As I was creating, devouring, and sharing this incredible breakfast bowl, I was surprised to see how many people weren’t familiar with chia seeds.

 

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What are Chia Seeds?

 

Chia is a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico.  These seeds are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids and antioxidants, and they also provide calcium, fiber, iron, and magnesium.  Chia seeds were an important energy source for Mayans, Incas and other ancient cultures, and remain a dietary staple in  many South and Central American countries.

 

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Why Eat Chia Seeds?

 

The benefits of chia seeds, also known as salvia hispanica, are plentiful!  Chia seeds can be eaten raw or in a variety of recipes.  Many people even drink them in their favorite juices and smoothies.  Chia seeds are important in hydration.  They can hold 9x their weight in water, which is why they have caught the attention of distance runners.

 

Chia also…

* Provides energy
* Boosts strength
* Bolsters endurance
* Levels blood sugar
* Induces weight loss
* Aids intestinal regularity

 

 

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What Should You Do with Chia?

 

My favorite way to eat chia seeds is for breakfast before a long run.  I love Overnight Oats and of course the Dough Boy Smoothie.  My newest discovery is this Breakfast Chia Bowl.  Chia is a wonderful addition to smoothies and shakes and it’s texture, when mixed with water, lends itself to gels and puddings.

 

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Here are some new recipes to try…

 

Chia Pomegranate Pudding

From Dr. Oz

 

1 oz ground chia seeds

3/4 cup pomegranate juice

 

Directions

Mix ingredients together in small bowl. Let sit for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

 

Chia Tea

10 oz of your favorite iced tea
1 tablespoon chia seeds
Sweeten to taste

 

Directions
Stir chia seeds into tea for about 10 minutes, and enjoy.

 

 

Chia Ice Pops (this is great for hot summer runs)

1 c frozen strawberries
1 c frozen mango chunks
.5 c orange juice
1/3 c chia seeds
1/4 c water

 

Directions

Processes all ingredients in a high powered blender and liquefy. Pour into ice-cube or popsicle molds, and freeze.

 

 

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

From Shape Magazine

 

1/4 cup of chia seeds
3/4 cup of almond milk
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
Small spoonful of sugar (1 – 2 tsp.)

 

Directions
Combine chia seeds and almond milk. Stir in cocoa powder and sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes or overnight until mixture has thickened. Stir and enjoy!

 

 

Raw Spring Power Applesauce

From Raw Vegan Chef

 

2 cups baby spinach, gently packed

3 apples, cored and chopped

1/4 cup chia seeds

juice from 2 oranges

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

dash ground nutmeg

 

Directions

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade.

Briefly process until the ingredients resemble chunky applesauce.

Enjoy! (Note: if you wait 10-15 minutes before serving, the chia seeds will gel with the orange juice for a brilliant texture.)

 

 

More Recipes…

Chia Chipotle Bean Burgers

Chia Fresca From Oh She Glows!

Crockpot Apple Crumble Breakfast Pudding

Whipped Banana Scottish Oats

Honey Whole Wheat Chia Seed Pancakes from PB Fingers

Chia Energy Bars from No Meat Athlete

Chia Margarita

 

Do you eat chia seeds?

What is your favorite chia recipe?

 

 

For more information about Chia Seeds, here are the Top 10 Benefits of Chia Seeds and 10 Unique Uses for Chia Seeds from Wellness Mama.

 

Resources

Dr. Weil

EatRight.org

MyChiaSeeds.com

Natural News

OneGreenPlanet.org

I Can’t Stop Eating

Every couple of months, I have a few days like this where I get some serious munchies and my mind just can’t stop my hands from grabbing a handful of this or a mouthful of that.  It’s like I have a hallow leg…except I don’t.  I am 31 years old with a metabolism the speed of a turtle, so a few days of eating like this does not bode well for my weight, my skin, or my confidence.  Does this happen to anyone else?

 

I know that there are many factors that impact hunger and satiety, including sleep and hormones. Some of which we can control and others that we cannot.  I have had a healthy start to the new year, and I look forward to slimming down a bit before spring. So I am trying to use the following strategies to curb my snack attacks.

 

1. Drink extra water

2. Pick healthier options that take time to eat, like popcorn

 

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3. Brush your teeth…this especially helps to decrease night time snacking

4. Sleep

5. Go for a walk

 

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6. Find other ways to keep busy (ie reading and blogging)

7. Get creative with veggies-fill your soups, smoothies, and burgers with seasonal produce

8. Eat more sweet fruit

 

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9. Close the kitchen by turning off the lights

10. Focus on the big picture!!!

What strategies do you use to stop excess snacking?

So, It’s Friday…

Let’s See…

 

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Where to Begin?  I guess Breakfast makes sense!

 

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Not this morning’s breakfast though….that was eggs with veggies made by my Mom (Thanks Mom!), but yesterday’s breakfast. 

 

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Doesn’t look like anything special, I know!

 

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But it is a wonderfully tasty, hearty, and filling way to start the day, so well worth sharing.

 

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I was intrigued when I discovered this recipe in the Wheat Belly book.  By the way, has anyone read it? Thoughts?

I love a warm breakfast on a chilly morning, so I thought I would give this a try.  I was happy that this easy and quick combination of flaxseed and coconut tasted so good…especially when covered in fresh blackberries.

 

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After breakfast, I made an early trip to the track.  I forgot my running shoes in the car, and had to trek back out to get them. 

Brrr…it was crazy COLD!

 

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I warmed up quickly though once I started my run.  The plan…60 second speed/recovery intervals.

 

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However, about 15 minutes in, I saw someone I recognized on the track.  My friend/coworker was a few paces ahead of me.  I was excited to catch up to her and abandon my speed work.  It was great to chat and enjoy some company for the rest of my run. 

 

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Thursday was a long day at the office, but I was excited for dinner plans with a few of my friends that night.  We laughed the entire time, and I am so lucky to have such amazing girl friends in my life.  Afterwards, I went back to my parents, where I spent the night…hence this morning’s fantastic breakfast.  I unplugged for the day, which was lovely, but I have a lot of catching up to do this weekend.

 

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But, I’m not going to start that tonight.  I didn’t get home until 8:15pm, which is insane.  After another long day at work, I swung by Whole Foods for dinner, groceries, and I just couldn’t pass up this bottle of wine.  One big glass later, I am exhausted, ready for bed, and making plans for tomorrow’s big adventure. 

Details to come…

 

How was your week?

What are you doing this weekend?

 

 

Hot Coconut Flaxseed Cereal

From Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD

 

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup ground flaxseeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, walnut halves or raw hulled sunflower seeds (optional)
1/4 cup sliced strawberries, blueberries or other berries (optional)

 

Directions
Combine the milk, ground flaxseeds, coconut flakes and walnuts or sunflower seeds in a microwaveable bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Serve topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a few berries if desired.

 

Note: I added my cinnamon before microwaving. I would recommend topping with nut butters, more coconut, and fresh fruit.

Healthy New Year Soup

I am swapping the sugary sweet holiday baked goods in for some veggie packed recipes.  Well, at least one veggie packed recipe.  I woke up January 1st with a craving for breakfast.  I whipped up a batch of these Banana Flax Pancakes.

 

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I forget how easy and satisfying these guys are!

 

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The BOY and I spent my last day of winter vacation laying low, and watching some college football.  Despite finishing my antibiotic, I am still nowhere near 100%.  This definitely frustrates me (who wants to be sick for over a week?), and I just don’t have my usual energy levels.  So I took advantage of my last day home finishing my third book this break, Emily Giffin’s Where We Belong (which in my opinion is her best book to date!) and cooking up some food for the week ahead.

 

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We did make one trip out of the house to the grocery store to stock up on some fresh produce for the week.  Since my soup pot was out and clean after NYE dinner, I figured some veggie soup was in order.  I haven’t made a plain veggie soup in some time.  Mostly, because my Mom makes some wonderful soups and is always happy to supply me with her leftovers.

 

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I know that I have commented before on my huge soup pot.  It was a gift to me along with some lessons in soup making when my Mom and our friend Beth came to visit me in Memphis a little over 5 years ago.

 

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Beth makes some wonderful soups, and it was with her in mind that I picked up some cabbage along with all my other veggies for this Healthy New Year Soup.

 

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I think once you’ve made a few veggie soups, you get a feel for what veggies to add, when to add them, and what spices work best.  Needless to say, I ‘m not there yet!

 

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So I just sorta winged it, chopping up veggies and sprinkling in spices to create this veggie packed soup.  The outcome was a thick and hearty soup guaranteed to keep you warm in a winter chill and help you get started with your healthy new year.  However, this doesn’t make it easy to write out a recipe.  I’m not quite positive what I did, if it is typical of making soup, but I know the results worked.  I will do my best to share the recipe but feel free to add in any thoughts or suggestions (I mean you Beth!)

 

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This soup freezes well, so I know that I am well stocked with healthy options for the next few weeks (unless you want some soup and in which case I am happy to share).  Sadly, I downed tonight’s dinner without getting a better photo of my colorful concoction.  What can I say…after my first day back at work, I was starving when I walked in the door. 

 

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So I overcompensated by taking plenty of pictures of tomorrow’s lunch!  I must say that it was tough to get up today.  When my alarm went off at 6am, I had NO idea what the noise was (I hadn’t heard it in 2 weeks).  Even my car seemed a little perturbed to be up and at ‘em before the sun.  But it was nice to be back at work catching up with my friends after the break.  This means that my posts might be a little less frequent as I adjust to the work/life balance and for right now I am done writing because I started book number four, Eat & Run (Thanks Brittany for the suggestion), and I am eager to get back to it.

 

 

Healthy New Year Soup

 

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

10 stalks of celery, chopped

1 package of mushrooms, chopped

1 head of cabbage, chopped

6 carrots, pealed and chopped

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

6 cups of water

1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained

Sea Salt (to taste)

Seasonings (I used a mix of basil, garlic, and a veggie mix)

1 bag frozen green beans

1 bag frozen zucchini (fresh if you can find it, but it didn’t look good)

 

Optional: Add your favorite seasonal veggies and sub in frozen as needed!  Other ideas include okra, corn, peppers, beans, etc.

 

 

Directions

Spray the bottom of a large soup pot with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Add in onion and garlic.  Stir until soft and fragrant (about 5 minutes or so).  Add in celery, mushrooms, and cabbage.

Stir often as flavors begin to blend and veggies soften (another 7-8 minutes).

Add in veggie broth, water, spices, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil (this takes time with a huge pot).

Add in frozen veggies (whatever you want, but I chose beans and zucchini…okra is good too!) and simmer for 2-3 hours.

Freeze in air tight containers and you’ll be set for the winter!

 

 

What healthy recipes are you staring the year with?