World Vegetarian Day

Today’s World Vegetarian Day, if you keep track of these types of things.

After being a strict vegetarian for more than a dozen years, I slowly started to eat seafood when I was in medical school.

Ironically, it was Gross Anatomy class that made me reconsider my position. I asked myself why I thought it was ok to dissect another human body yet I was totally grossed out by eating a Filet O’Fish?

Further review reinforced that Filets O’Fish are still pretty disgusting, but every once in a while I would eat high quality seafood, which now boils down to about 4-6 times a year.

If health is your goal, consider Meatless Mondays. My Uber health conscious friend G. has been doing this for a few years and swears by its power. Stumped for recipes? Look here.

Some final words with a bit of humor from A. Whitney Brown:

I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants.

 

 

 

Workout Recovery

Last Thursday  night after work, I was feeling pretty strong and decided to run my own half-marathon.

Good news: I came in first place!

Bad news: I also came in last place!

And on Friday morning, I was plenty sore.

I should rely on these strategies more often, but here’s what I’ve found helpful for muscle recovery. foam roller

  • Foam rolling. Oh, it hurts so good. This exquisite torture is worth the myofascial release on the other side, but it really, really kills! One of my friends told me she had to drink two beers every night before getting on the roller. This compact foam roller targets trigger points and gets the job done.

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  • Legs up the wall. I always forget to do this! But it’s great for recovery. Hold as long as you can, ideally several minutes. This is a legit yoga pose; learn the fine points here. 

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  • Aveda active composition. This blend of wintergreen and menthol smells like a Wint-O-Green Life Saver and is a much classier version of Ben Gay.

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  • The Stick. I first saw – and purchased – one of these at the Expo for my first marathon, waaaay back in 2006. It’s a rolling massager for the legs, and it is really helpful to work out lower extremity knots. If only I could find mine! Argh.

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  • Elemis Musclease Active oil mixed with Instant Refreshing Gel. A recipe for heaven. Get them here.

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  • Natural Patches of Vermont Arnica Patches. These were a recent discovery, but they seem to be helpful. They apply like a Band-Aid and can be worn for up to 24 hours. They also have several different essential oil blends for other concerns, like headaches and stress.

I hope these ideas are helpful! Drinking lots of water is also a key to recovery.  

Make A Splash

Fact: I need to consume more water.

Another fact: Plain water is pretty boring.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – you can make “spa water” by infusing regular water with slices of citrus fruits or even herbs.

But this will kick it up another notch: Get fancy with your ice, too.

One way is to add frozen berries or fruit slices to your spa water.

Another is to fill an ice cube tray with coconut water, freeze and use the cubes to give water a subtle hint of the tropics. This would be great with frozen pineapple slices as your “ice.”

 

 

Staying Motivated

Staying motivated to be healthy is an ongoing process for me, and as such, I’m always looking for new inspiration.

Fortunately, I love to run so I usually don’t need this type of motivation to exercise:

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 This list of 20 motivation hacks was helpful to me, particularly numbers 6 (never skip two days in a row) and 2 (make a big public commitment to achieve a wellness goal, like signing up for a marathon).

I also really enjoy reading transformation stories about real people who’ve made life-changing progress toward wellness. Women’s Running magazine has some great portrayals in the sections entitled “Why I Run” and “Women Who Move.”

[A weirder but intriguing set of transformation stories I stumbled upon while researching this post is located here].

Another thing that’s been really helpful to me is to be a member of a group of like-minded individuals. In my case, it’s an online group headed by my friend A, whom I have mentioned here before and is a real inspiration to me. The posts of the other members keep me in line and give me great ideas. Spouse also has a looser competition going on among his buddies from the crew team in college; they’re running a half-marathon in May in the town of our alma mater and it’s a (mostly) friendly race to the finish line. With pride on the line, game’s on!

And I keep a mini-library of inspirational pins, like this one:

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Cute workout clothes also go pretty far in my world!

How do you stay motivated to be healthy?

 

 

 

Kombucha

Have you tried kombucha? Do you like it?

I was introduced to kombucha about two years ago by a yoga instructor who valiantly tries to get me to be more bendy and Zen, two things which do not come naturally to me.

If you’re not familiar with it, kombucha has been variously described as an “immortal heath elixir” and “rotten hippie tea.” 

Bascially, kombucha is sweetened tea mixed with a a yeast/bacteria mixture known as a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (“SCOBY,” I know that sounds more than gross but the idea is similar to how sourdough bread is made) that allows it to ferment and become effervescent.

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Image and recipes @ wholelifestylenutrition.com

How does it taste? The best adjective I can think of is “acquired,” as in, it’s really an acquired taste. 

But so is coffee. And Jagermeister. Many people seem to adapt to them quite well.

To be more specific, kombucha tastes vinegar-y, but in a pleasant way.

You can make it at home, but it seems like a lot of effort:

I occasionally buy it at our local Food Co-op. I like the ginger flavors the best, but here are two brands to try if you’re interested:

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Let me know what you think!

Lean and Mean for 2014

Hmm, what should I eat?

On Sunday night, I got home late from a weekend trip to run in this race (more below), and I found myself staring into the refrigerator and silently asking that exact question.

But notice: “What should I eat?” is very different from “What do I want to eat?”

Want: M&Ms. Tortilla chips. Pizza delivered to my doorstep.

Should: Well, really just about anything else than what’s listed above.

I know this. I do. But like most people, I wax and wane on how stringent I am in applying this template.

I really admire my friend Amy, who is a dietitian and fitness/wellness coach. She is very inspirational and always walks the talk. When it comes to clean eating and healthy living for her whole family, she’s got it going on. Thankfully she includes me in a wellness group and often sends poignant quotes, ideas or recipes (even for feeble me!) my way. Thanks, Amy! I really strive to apply her 80/20 principle, which is to eat well 80% of the time and leave 20% for (responsible) indulgences. The main problem is that if I am honest with myself, I’ve spent more time in 20/80 mode than 80/20.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve also been able to catch up on some magazine reading during my two cross country flights. A few blurbs got my attention. One was from the back page of this month’s Self (or was it Fitness? Sorry). I’m paraphrasing here, but the gist was that a friend of a celebrity asked said celebrity – known for her famously fit body – how she did it. Answer? She exercised for health and well-being, but what really made a difference is that when it came to diet, she didn’t cheat. Ever. Celebrity: “You know how you are doing really well and then you go on vacation or to a special restaurant and you go all out? I don’t. Ever.”

A second essay that spoke to me basically said this: Yeah, we all know it and don’t want to admit it, but 90% of how you look is what you eat. My good friend D. and I were talking about this point last week. D. recently completed a fitness evaluation and was – on the eve of a milestone birthday – deemed supremely fit for his age and was significantly leaner than when he previously did the eval five years ago. His numbers were enviable. How did he do it? Exercise was a key component, but he also changed the way he eats, particularly portion size and not stuffing himself to the point of discomfort. (Me: Guilty, Your Honor).

So where does this leave me? As I mentioned above, I ran the Tinkerbell half marathon at Disneyland (part of a series of races sponsored by Disney, which I will extensively post about in the near future) on January 19th. Conditions were perfect, the race went well, I felt strong and the miles quickly flew by. I was #1055 out of 11,490 runners.

But – I was six minutes slower than last year. Granted, last year I was slightly younger and in better shape, but I also weighed about 10 pounds less. Reportedly, every pound lost can yield 2 seconds faster per mile, so 10 lbs x 2 seconds x 13.1 miles = Nearly the whole time deficit. Ugh. To top it off, every pound lost also results in 4 pounds less stress on the knees, and mine have recently started complaining after more than 25 years of running. Double ugh.

So it’s time to do something about it. Here’s my plan:

  • Weigh myself every day. Numbers don’t lie!
  • Drink at least 64 oz of water every day (if you recall, one of my New Year’s Resolutions).
  • Almost entirely avoid alcohol (I already started doing this back in November for other reasons, and I feel great. I used to love a big ol’ glass of wine at night, and at first, I missed it – a lot – but now, not at all. And I sleep a lot better).
  • Continue to run, add new types of exercise, including stretching and some basic body weight exercises (think lunges and push ups) every day.
  • Here’s the hardest one for me: Be accountable for portions. Document calories. Budget them. Spend and save where appropriate.

Not really sexy, but it’s sensible. Now please excuse me while I fill up my water bottle.

Hope Springs Eternal

Sayonara, 2013!

And don’t let the door hit you in the rear on the way out.

When I look back, it really was brewing from the start, but the end of 2013 – which brought both personal and professional setbacks – really crystallized that I was living in my own version of a “Weepies” song, specifically this one:

Yes, this was Not My Year.

But hope springs eternal, and I’ve got a good vibe about 2014.

I’ve alluded to it before, but I have a ton of resolutions to make. First up: Drink more water. I started this a month ago and so far, so good. I’m cheating and counting herbal tea as fulfilling my daily requirement, but meh. I’ve done worse.

Second resolution: Juice more. (Yes, I used “juice” as a verb). This resolution piggybacks onto #1, and frankly, it’s still pretty low hanging fruit when it comes to personal betterment. It also helps that I just ordered the Vitamix I’ve been pining over, and I suspect that the enthusiasm from using my divine new blender will last until at least February.

Third: Add more variety to my exercise routine. I love to run. Period. But I don’t really like to do almost anything else, especially yoga – which I desperately want to like (“Oh, me? Yes, I got this body from yoga! And now I am so Zen and bendy and spiritual and all that”), but I am so absurdly awful at every pose that I had to hire a personal yogi to work one-on-one with me. It’s been three years and I still can’t do a real down dog.

Ahhh, and here is the hard one, Resolution Four: Stop online shopping. This one’s going to hurt. But of course, this is me talking, so there are many different caveats and rules that I am attaching to this one. Like the fact that I can still shop, but I need to actually try things on and make sure they fit before plunking down the plastic. This isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, since our small(-ish) city doesn’t have many good places to shop and our dying, dated mall from the 80s is for emergencies only. 

And if family members require clothing or other items that need to be purchased online, then so be it. Same for gifts for others. It’s really my personal habit that needs curbing.

Part of this is that I also vow to use up my royal stash of lotions/potions/unguents/elixirs before moving on to the next new thing. Right now we probably have enough stockpiled to moisturize our whole family until 2035 or so.

But … overall this represents a radical shift in my current (bloated) lifestyle and there should be a bit of room for discretion, no? Which is why I give myself permission to consider acquiring this as a birthday present to myself when Neiman Marcus runs a gift card promo:

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Prada Small Double Zip Executive Tote

Which would then enable me to use the gift card for this future purchase:

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So, yes, since you can’t get a personality transplant, I’m still me. Flawed, awful me.

But I’ll start 2014 with another “Weepies” song, which I think summarizes my current mindset rather well: