Tag Archives: Good Habits

Breakfast Burrito and Training Schedule

24 Jun

While some may love their oats for breakfast, I love my eggs for breakfast. I wish I could say that I get bored with these sometimes, but I just don’t. How can one go wrong with so much protein, greens and complex carbohydrates in the morning.

Now that I’ve been training so much I’m eating more calories, so I’ve added an extra egg to my breakfast burritos. Check out this baby:

Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast Burrito

From the bottom up:
Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Tortilla
1/2 cup organic baby arugula
1 slice Trader Joe’s Beef Bacon (I promise it’s under the eggs)
2 eggs over easy
1 TBS Frontera tomatillo salsa

I’m about to complete my third week of half marathon training and this is what the schedule’s looked like this week:
Sunday Warrior Dash
Monday 100 minutes of power walking in fat burning zone with intervals on treadmill
Tuesday Running outside 50 minutes
Wednesday Boot camp
Thursday Personal training session, focusing on core
Friday Day of rest, stretching and foam rolling
Saturday 6 mile run day

My body hurts, I don’t think there’s a single muscle on my body that isn’t sore. It’s great that today is rest and stretch day. My trainer told me today that I need to stretch and foam roll as much as possible so I don’t get sick. I had never heard that before. He told me it won’t necessarily prevent illness, but helps with recovery process and therefore helping prevent injury and illness. I also see this is as another reason to get enough sleep and eat as well as possible.

Does anyone else have a breakfast obsession? As much as I love my breakfast burritos I do like to try new things.

Muffins at Midnight

15 Jun

Midnight is a great time for making muffins.  A few months ago I discovered these vegan zucchini date muffins on ChoosingRaw.com. They are absolutely delicious. I’ve been craving them for a few weeks and now that I’m running more I want to have plenty of clean post-run snacks around.

Zucchini Date Muffins

Zucchini Date Muffins

Not sure that midnight was an ideal time to bake these but I will be so happy when I have them after today’s boot camp.

Also, since it’s gotten warmer I’ve been obsessing over Arugula. This is the third day in a row that I’ve prepared this salad.

ShrimpBlackberrySalad

Shrimp & Blackberry Salad

Ingredients:
1 cup organic baby arugula
1/3 cup organic blackberries
1/2 organic zucchini, sliced
1 small Persian cucumber, sliced
2 TBS green onion, chopped
1 lemon wedge
6 wild caught jumbo gulf shrimp
1 tsp coconut oil

Saute the shrimp in coconut oil over medium-high heat, toss all ingredients in lemon juice and enjoy. This salad takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.

For all of you muffin lovers I leave you with, Muffins, a clip by one of my favorite comedians.

Which seasonal fruits and veggies are you craving right now? Do you have a favorite muffin flavor or recipe?

More than Running

13 Jun

I’ve officially completed my first week of half marathon training. So far so strong.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Joanna's First Half Marathon

As I mentioned I signed up for a special 10-week training program with Armando at my gym. (P.S. He has a guest post coming up soon about massage therapy). The training program includes a boot camp class once a week, a personal training session once a week, a 10-week running schedule and a nutrition expert looking at how I’m eating. Given all I have learned about my body this past March (the resting metabolic rate and SubMax tests) I want to be under careful supervision for this race.

What I’m most excited for is fine-tuning my training. In the past I’d created workout plans for myself for races and that worked just fine. I now want to focus on taking racing to the next level to be stronger, faster and more efficient. I’ve set a goal of finishing this race in under two hours, it’s really going to take some diligent training on my part to accomplish that.

Some things that are different this time around are that I’m focusing on strength training, stretching, foam rolling and eating for endurance sports. Yeah I will do the running, but I really think that for me to get faster and stronger I need to incorporate all of these other aspects of training.

The first week’s schedule looked like this:
Monday – Personal Training Session, focus on agility, balance and strength
Tuesday – Rest day
Wednesday – Boot Camp
Thursday – Running Club, 50 minute run
Friday – Strength and stretch, chest and abs
Saturday – 6 mile run
Sunday – Strength, legs

For you runners do you think about strength training and stretching when you’re training for a race? For you non-runners, does this make running races more appealing to hear that stretching and strength training are crucial components to running?

I am not a Runner

10 Jun

Recently I told a friend that I am not a runner. Really. I’m not.

As a young girl, I watched Ironman competitions on TV thinking it was the coolest thing ever and that I could never do that because I am not a runner.

In high school, I had a hard time running a 12-minute mile, I think my fastest was 13:30. Always in the back with the slow pack. In college I dabbled in treadmill and never made it much past 2-miles @ 12-minutes a piece huffing and puffing the entire time.

Then came the late twenties when I tried my hand at triathlon, I did 6 my first year. I’d smoke most people in the water, I felt strong on the bike and everyone would pass me when it came to the run. The fact that they were all  passing me didn’t even matter, I felt slow. My legs were heavy and my lungs never quite big enough. I was not a runner.

I don’t like feeling limited. I don’t like to feel like I can’t do something. So I signed up for a 15k race. Had Armando train me for it. I finished with an awesome pace. I signed up for a 10K. Armando kept training me. A month later I ran it and shaved a minute off my pace. All of sudden I was capable of running 9:15 miles. That was fast for someone who’s not a runner.

This year, I completed a 3.5 mile race and to my surprise was the fastest woman in my company. Two days later I completed a 10-mile race. The 10-mile run felt awesome. Sure people were passing me up, but I felt fast. Legs were strong, I had plenty of space in my lungs, I felt like I was flying. I was a runner.

Running Club

Me after a midweek run

Now I wonder what else I’m telling myself that I’m not capable of that I can actually do. I have a few ideas, but I bet I’m not alone. All those things you don’t think you can do, I bet you can.

Is there something you’ve recently accomplished that you were sure you couldn’t do? What’s something you tell yourself you can’t do?

Schitzo Shrimp and More

22 Apr

Happy earth day everyone! I’m ba-ack. After a month-long hiatus from blogging I am back and ready to share my food and fitness adventures again.

Over the past month I’ve made many changes to the way I eat and workout. For a couple of weeks I have been keep track of my calorie intake via sparkpeople.com to see how many calories I am actually consuming throughout the day. Initially when I began to lose weight and lean out the thing that made the biggest difference was keeping a food journal. I wrote down everything I ate and that way I was accountable for it. I wouldn’t track calories but I used it as a system to make sure I was eating the right kinds of foods.

Now that my goals are more specific – I want to lose 3% body fat – I have to be more rigorous with what I eat and make sure I eat enough calories. The nice thing about that site is that it gives me a breakdown of the types of calories I am consuming. They have a cool pie chart of my fat, carbohydrate and protein intake. What I don’t like about Spark People is the user interface. It loads slowly even on a high-speed internet connection. It’s a very frustrating. There are also lists of foods with nutritional information pre-filled, but many of the specialty foods that I eat like grass-fed ground beef are not in the system. So I have to go to other sites find the nutritional content and enter it myself. I’ve stopped using it and am on the hunt for a different calorie tracking program. If anyone has suggestions I am willing to try it.

On the workout front, I have been working out for longer periods of time, less intensely. It’s very different from running as fast as possible and always going all-out at the gym. It’s a nice change of pace but it’s taking some getting used to. I’m spending more time at the gym. I’ve been planning my workouts around the time CSI and all the crime shows are on so the time flys.

Finally, I have been cooking up a storm. Making sure that I have enough food with me throughout the day. That’s been a bit of an adjustment as well, but I love trying new foods and new ‘clean’ recipes. This was dinner from earlier this week, cheesy corn grits with a zucchini shrimp saute. It was delicious and the recipe is from this month’s Clean Eating magazine.

Shrimp Saute with Cheesy Grits

Shrimp Saute with Cheesy Grits

The recipe is even more delicious than that it looks and it serves 6, I’ve made about 5 meals out of it.

Have any of you made any changes to your eating habits or workouts? Do you have a calorie tracking program that you just love? I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. This is a random piece of news,  but my super awesome brother and I were featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal this past Tuesday.

Throwing out the Scale

17 Mar

This past weekend, I had one of the most informative weekends of my entire fitness-junkie career! I got a Hydrostatic Body Composition test, a Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test and VO2Max test. Some of you may be wondering what in the world these are, so before I get into my results and how they will impact my training (and eating) I’m going to explain a little about each of the tests and why they’re important. If you’re familiar with these tests, skip over this next section and get to reading at the end.

Hydrostatic Body Composition Test
This is a fat test. Without going into too much complex detail, the way that this works is you get weighed on an underwater scale. You go into a tub and submerge your entire body onto this underwater scale, while underwater you blow out as much air as you possibly can from your lungs. This technique is more accurate than a fat scale, body pincher or hand-held body composition scanners at the gym.

It’s actually more important to know your body fat composition than your weight. Say what?!? The reason for this is because someone can be very thin and in the normal range of weight while having a high body fat percentage and on the flip side someone can be on the higher end of the scale and have a low body fat percentage. Also, the fastest and most efficient way to change the way your body looks is to lower body fat and build lean muscle. Read more about body fat tests.

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) Test
This test determines how many calories you burn while at rest. The way the test works is you sit in a comfortable chair for 12 minutes while breathing into a tube.

The importance of this test is to determine how many calories someone needs to lose, gain or maintain weight. It can explain why despite eating a low-calorie diet you’re not losing weight. Believe it or not if you’re not getting enough calories that can hinder weight loss and muscle-building. Our bodies are very complex systems and there is more to meeting fitness goals than just exercising more and eating less.

VO2Max
The VO2max test measures your maximum level of exertion, in other words it measures how intensely you can possibly work-out before you can’t workout any more. It distinguishes if you are burning body fat, muscle & fat or purely muscle as you exercise. This test is performed on a treadmill while wearing a mask and breathing into a tube.

Since I am someone who is interested in burning fat it’s important for me to know my fat-burning zone, so that I can train in the fat burning zone. Since I want to build muscle and keep it on, I don’t want to be in the muscle-burning zone.

These are all very generic explanations of each of the tests, but hopefully you can get the idea of what they are and why they’re important. If you want any further explanation, leave a comment saying so and I’ll have Armando answer your questions.
The Results
I am very happy to have taken the above tests, because now I have an actual baseline to track my results. My body fat percentage is 16.4%, for a 30-year-old female 20-25% body fat is considered good. Naturally I am very happy to have a low body fat percentage. I see this as a testament to the healthy lifestyle changes I have made over the past years and all that my trainer has taught me.
The Changes
As of Sunday I am no longer going to try to hit a number on a scale. Armando has been trying to beat into my head that the number on the scale doesn’t matter, he’s been saying “it’s all about how your clothes fit, the way you look in the mirror and the number on the scale can remain the same but your body and it’s shape will change dramatically” (muscle to body fat ratio). My stubborn-self (what can I say I’m a Taurus) wanted to base things on the scale, so I would weigh myself and allow my moods to be affected by the little digits on the blue screen of the scale. I am finished with that. I am also going to be eating more which will result in having more energy throughout the day. Additionally the trainer is changing up my workouts for me to maximize the amount of muscle I keep on my body.
Well, that’s not entirely true, he’s been telling me to do some of these things all along. There are some habits that die hard, I would do certain things my way and not listen to his instructions. I’ve been able to get very fit and produce some amazing results despite my stubborn Taurian ways. I think I’ll let the expert do his job now and I’ll follow his instructions. I’ll be getting the tests again in the next six months so I’ll have plenty of time to track progress.
Have you gotten any of these tests? If so, how did it impact your training?

Breakfast on the Go, (Almost) the Same as at Home

10 Mar

By now I don’t think it’s a secret that I love to cook and breakfast is no exception. I eat breakfast every single day. I don’t change it up all that much. I find something I like and stick to it for several months. Kind of like when I was eating breakfast burritos all the time. Lately the standard has been oatmeal and eggs.

Even when in a hurry I don’t skip breakfast nor do I grab anything processed. I am excited to share with you a way to have the same kind of breakfast you would have at home on the go: overnight oatmeal and hard-boiled eggs. (I didn’t say it was going to be glamorous.)

It’s simple you prepare the whole thing the night before in less than 15 minutes and as long as you don’t forget your spoon you can eat it anywhere. I think I’m the last person on the planet to discover this breakfast delicacy. I first read about it on Carrots and Cake or Kath Eats,  I don’t remember which one. After a year of reading about these women preparing this culinary treasure, I decided to give it whirl. All you have to do is soak your oatmeal overnight in a liquid of preference. I’ve been using unsweetened almond milk topped with a sliced banana and walnuts. The oats soak up the liquid and are just as soft as when cooked. Now there are no excuses for not eating breakfast.

Anyone have a another tip for taking a home cooked breakfast on the go?

Four Steps for Drinking Success

9 Mar

I’ve had a few people ask me what my thoughts are about drinking alcohol, I think this is a great excuse for a post. I have a pretty unique view on drinking. This one is specifically for you Alyssa.

Memorial Day margaritas (margarita, Memorial D...

Image via Wikipedia

So what is my drinking philosophy?
The short answer: I don’t drink alcohol (hardly ever).
The long answer: I don’t like drinking alcohol. It upsets my stomach, I’ve never acquired a taste for it, I see it as empty calories (I would rather eat than drink) and I don’t like the way I feel when I’m buzzed. This makes my choices at parties and bars very simple, I choose tap or sparkling water or if the option is available I drink tea or coffee. I am not 100% abstinent from alcohol, I occasionally have a drink or a shot. When I do drink it’s only premium liquor. My philosophy for alcohol is not that much different from my philosophy for food, only the best ingredients go into my temple of flesh.

I also know that this may not be the right choice for everyone but this is what works for me. If you are going to drink at a party or bar, I’d like to offer you these Four Steps for Drinking Success. You can apply this to eating at parties too, I do this when I know I will be around my favorite greasy foods.

Step 1 Remind yourself of your health or fitness goal. This will put you in the right frame of mind and give you a context to start from. For example, while I’m getting ready to go to a party I might say to myself, “OK you want the body of a fitness model and you’ve never been this close before. This is your dream and you’re going to make it happen.” If you have a photo that inspires you, look at it.

Step 2 Make a game plan. Figure out what you want to drink and how many you will have before you arrive. You have a much better chance of sticking with a plan if you actually make one. If you have friends going to the party get a couple to support you in making your best decisions. For example, I decide that I am going to have one shot of Patron at the party and one Margarita without salt and 3 glasses of water. I will call my friend Suzy Q and ask her, “Hey can you check in with me a couple of times at the party and ask me what I’ve had to drink? I want to make sure I don’t go overboard with drinking tonight. I want to be full of energy tomorrow for my workout. You asking me will help keep me in check, I would really appreciate it.”

Step 3 Drink plenty of water. You can mix it up here, you can drink a sparkling water with a strawberry or an orange slice or go with tap and a cucumber. This way you stay hydrated even if you drink more than you planned.

Step 4 If you go overboard, don’t beat yourself up. No one is perfect and sometimes all the planning in the world won’t keep you from caving in. It’s OK, you are human and humans screw up. If you are beating yourself up call a trusted friend and talk to them. When I’m beating myself up I usually dial my brother’s number. (Thanks Pete! You’re the best!) He simultaneously tells me not to beat myself up while having me see where I screwed up so I can learn from my mistake and motivate myself to keep moving forward. Know who that person is for you and call them. 

Most of my friends are drinkers and we get along just fine. But I am curious, are there any readers who share in my philosophy? Those of you who do enjoy your adult beverages more than me how do you handle your liquor at parties?

Random Report: Balls, Hancock and Lunch

3 Mar

Remember that bowling party I went to a couple of weeks ago? Remember how ballsy I was and asked to order off the menu? Well my request was granted and I ordered a grilled steak salad with extra arugula. They prepared it just how I like it, medium-rare and dressing on the side.

Steak Salad

Steak Salad

It’s a good thing I made the request because it was an after work party and I was very hungry by the time I arrived. The buffet food included pizzas and fried mac and cheese balls, which I would have resorted to eating. This way I got to stay on track with eating clean.

This past Sunday was my second Hustle Up the Hancock race. I participated last year and ran up 94 flights of stairs in 20:30. I had a goal of 18 minutes and I DID IT! My final time was 18:05.

Hustle with my trainer

Hustle with my trainer

This is all thanks to my trainer. He had me on a weight-lifting, stair-climbing regimen specific to meet my goal. There’s no better feeling than accomplishing a fitness goal after training hard!

It’s been a busy week this week and I haven’t had much time to prepare meals and shop for groceries, luckily where I work (in the heart of Chicago) I have an abundance of  lunch spots to choose from. Yesterday I chose Freshii and ordered off their Freshii 15 menu. The Freshii 15 is a menu of low-cal, portion appropriate options created by Ashley Koff, RD. I like that they have this option, I think it helps if you aren’t confident with choosing healthy off a menu on your own. It does the work for you.

Freshii 15 menu

Freshii 15 menu

The thing that I really like about Freshii is that everything is customizable and they have almost endless combinations for creating soups, salads and wraps.

Freshii Boostii-q salad

Freshii Boostii-q salad

For lunch I chose the Boostii-q salad because it has all the ingredients I would use at home: greens, bbq chicken (skip the cheese), avocado, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice and a splash of Sriracha (which I have never put into a salad before but now is going to become a staple salad ingredient).

I can’t wait to recharge this weekend. I’ll be registering for races, planning meals, hitting the gym and creating some running plans for the spring and summer.

What have you been up to this week? How do you manage eating healthy during a busy week?

Be Ballsy

18 Feb
Cover of "Ballsy: 99 Ways to Grow a Bigge...

Cover via Amazon

A few years ago I attended a graphic design conference in Atlanta, GA where Karen Salmansohn was the keynote speaker. She’s an author and self-help guru “for people who wouldn’t be caught dead reading self-help.” Although I don’t remember most of what she said during her speech I do remember that I loved her and loved her message.

My favorite of her book titles was Ballsy: 99 Ways to Grow a Bigger Pair and Score Extreme Business Success.

And that’s exactly what I want to tell you, be ballsy about your fitness and nutrition needs.

I’m an observer I watch people, I listen to them and I hear all kinds of reasons why people don’t have the bodies they want. I understand there are some things you can’t control, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about having the balls to demand having healthy food around you all the time no matter what! Guess what, it’s very simple, all you have to do is ask.

Let me give you an example, last week I got an invitation to attend a bowling party. Along with the invite the hostess sent details of the buffet menu and every single item on that menu was deep-fried, highly processed or heavily salted. That led me to a crossroads of decisions. The way I saw it I had three options:
01 Go to the party, eat like crap and feel like crap
02 Don’t go to the party and be an anti-social hermit
03 Grow some cojones, go to the party and ask for a special menu item

I chose option 3. If you think for a second that I was apologetic about being difficult or thought twice about asking for what I wanted, you’re wrong. I was being ballsy! I think Karen would be proud.

For those of you who know me, you know I am bold and don’t mind asking for EXACTLY what I want when it comes to food. Eating healthy and reaching my fitness goals is too important to me to throw away on account of someone else’s menu decisions.

As for the outcome, I’ll have to let you know exactly what happens next week, the party is tonight. The hostess sent me a menu listing of what my options were and there was a grilled steak appetizer over a bed of arugula that would be perfect. In her words, “It shouldn’t be a problem. We’re paying them a lot of money.”

Most people these days are accommodating to all kinds of diets including vegan, vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free, low sodium, various allergies etc. This is no different. So please to all of you reading this (who aren’t doing it already) ask for what you want. Not just in your food choices, but do it in life!

Who says you can’t have it all? I say you can! Just grow some balls and ask for it.

Have you ever been so ballsy that you asked for something you really wanted and got it? What was that experience like for you? Would you have the balls to do it again?

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