My Weekly Focus: Eat More Color!

I feel like it’s been a million years since I last posted, but life sometimes happens. Spring semester for the kids hit with a vengeance on the calendar and it has been everything I could do to keep running and fueling my body as it should be rather than hitting a drive-thru. I can happily report, though, that I’m tackling it well. I finally got into the habit of fruit-infused water (for real! No more crystal light packets or Nuun tablets to make it all more palatable! LOL). My next challenge to myself (and you as well!) is to bring more color into my food. It’s not just about making sure you get a side of broccoli on your plate at dinner, either. I hate taking pills, including vitamins, and know that I can achieve quite a bit just by being more mindful of the food I eat. This is about eating from the entire color spectrum!

  • imageReds – This can include beets, cherries, cranberries, red cabbage, red bell peppers and tomatoes. I plan to add frozen cherries to the chocolate oatmeal I eat some mornings to bring in the red family. I really have to be in the mood for tomatoes, but I like the little grape tomatoes and will also include those and some red bell peppers on an arugula salad that I adore!
  • Oranges – This includes sweet potatoes, carrots, peaches and butternut squash. I actually love orange vegetables. Sweet potatoes are so good in place of regular potatoes and carrots are a great snack in the afternoon when I need that crunch factor that sometimes leads me to eat a bag of chips.
  • Yellows – Pineapple is the first that comes to mind for me when I think of yellow foods. In Dallas, I can usually find a pineapple at the store for under $3, so I get it home and cut it up immediately into chunks. It is a fantastic afternoon snack because of the sweetness. Other foods you could incorporate include lemons, yellow squash (mmmm… roasted yellow squash) and pears.
  • imageGreens – Broccoli, kiwi, spinach, green beans. These are all the old standbys. There are a zillion green veggies to incorporate into a diet. But have you tried arugula is you like your salad a little spicier? How about sugar snap peas? These are fantastic with a mix of colorful bell peppers lightly sautéed so they are still very crisp.
  • Blues/Purples – This was easy for me as well because I love blueberries and eat them on yogurt, with whipped cream as a dessert with other mixed berries, etc. You could also try plums and eggplant, purple cabbage, and even purple asparagus!
  • Whites – You have the standard white veggies including cauliflower, garlic and onions, but have you tried parsnips or turnips? My husband makes a really tasty mashed potato mixing half potatoes and half parsnips. This gives it a little more depth in the flavor and the kids love it!

So, my big goal is to make up my menu plan for next week and then challenge myself to add one additional color to each of my meals. I’m thinking my first order of business is to add a bowl of mixed berries with a little whipped cream (fresh of course!) as an afternoon snack in lieu of hitting my co-worker’s candy dish a few doors down… Wish me luck!

Advertisements

My Weekly Focus – More Water!

Some of my favorite fruitI know that a handful of my in-person friends are making a renewed commitment to shedding some pounds, so I wanted to start a weekly check-in with some tidbits to take away. Weight Watchers helped me so much, but the biggest helper of all was the in-person meetings. The lessons I learned from many on the path stay with me to this day. I know that for various reasons, some people don’t do in-person meetings, so I am attempting to bring those tidbits virtually! The added benefit is it will help me reinforce some healthy behaviors for myself.

This week my focus is increasing my water intake. On Sundays, we have a tradition in which my family and my sister’s family all meet at my parents house for dinner. Yep, we still have a big traditional Sunday dinner. It’s pretty casual and can be pretty raucous at times. The conversation turned to all the things you could use a can of Coke for, like reducing the corrosion on a car battery and cleaning a penny. I immediately turned to my sister (she was drinking her soda from the can) and exclaimed, “Why are you still drinking that? You are willingly putting a chemical in you that takes corrosion off of a car battery terminal!!” It was a good laugh, because that’s the kind of overbearing big-sister I am (ha ha ha!), but there was a bit of concern as well.

Truth be told, I drank Cokes back in the day. A LOT. My modus operandi was to drink the fully-leaded one because I believed that the diet soda was terrible for you. That went on for most of my life. When I first started Weight Watchers, I calculated the points for one Coke and nearly stroked out. I only got 26 points and I decided I wanted to use those for food. I went cold turkey. No sodas at all. No diet, no regular, no zero, no nothing. It was hard the first week, but one of my “rewards” that first week was a big Starbuck’s cup that I could fill with water or iced tea. I won’t lie – the second week is worse than the first, but if you can just get it out of your system, it’s worth it. More than three years later, I can still be seen with that cup in my hands almost every waking moment. The cup is 20 oz, so I am in the habit of refilling at least four times a day for 100 oz.

image“But water tastes awful…” I get it. I thought so too. There’s only so much water you can drink before you want to tear your hair out. It’s both tasteless and has a funny taste all at the same time. What to do? Infuse it! There are so many options that you can find on the internet like at http://www.fruitinfusedwaters.com/, but I have my simple favorites:

  • Orange slices – they lend a tasty sweetness to the water when you are having a sweets craving
  • Lime wedge – I ask for limes instead of lemons at restaurants because they have them in the bar and they are something different
  • Lemon wedge – they are ok, but they tend to make the water bitter if you add to many
  • Mint leaves – I love to grab a handful and muddle some of the to really give it a strong infused flavor; the best way to do it is to put them in a small amount of hot water to steep for a bit, then add cold water and ice
  • Cucumber slices – this is the most refreshing way to drink water and is so very tasty on a hot summer day
  • Strawberries – these impart just a hint of flavor and is a great way to get that lightly

So, my challenge to you is to get a cup that you want to carry around everywhere and give this a try. It’s your choice if you want to give up sodas or wean off of them slowly, although I am a big fan of getting it over with quickly. Have I told you that I have an insane amount of energy, even in the mornings, now that I don’t drink sodas???

 

Medal Monday: Michelob Ultra 13.1 Dallas Recap


Marcy and I after the 13.1This weekend, I ran the Michelob Ultra 13.1 Half Marathon in Dallas. It wasn’t a race on my schedule, but when a friend of mine that was organizing the pacers asked if I would pace, I couldn’t say no. This particular race a couple of years ago was my very first half marathon. The course is really nice and it’s MY BIRTHDAY WEEKEND! I quickly asked one of my best running friends if she would be willing to pace with me. I was afraid she might say no because it would mean that we would be giving up an 18 mile training run and she is responsible for pacing our training group. I was so excited when she said YES!

The pace would be a fairly easy run for us with a 2:50 finish. I love pacing runners with a 2:50 or 3:00 finish time. Many times, they are first time runners not sure if they can finish and just praying they don’t get swept up by the SAG wagon. Other times, they are second-time halfers wanting that sub 3:00 finish and unsure if it’s feasible because they remember how bad they hurt trying to complete their first. Whatever their goal, they are some of the friendliest people you will meet at a race. They say thank you to everyone out there cheering them on, keeping them safe and handing them water. They have stories and aren’t afraid to tell them. Stories of how they got up of the couch and lost 100 lbs the hard way. Stories of battling a cancer that is ravaging their body and they want to accomplish something off of their bucket list after facing down death. This is a pretty powerful bunch of runners. We don’t have dreams of age group awards or elite status back here. Pacing this group requires more than just even splits and knowledge of the course. It sometime requires education, such as “what is this ‘gu’ that everyone keeps eating?” But mostly, it requires you to be a top-notch motivator and believing in the runners in the group when they are positive they can’t go any further.

Marcy and I rode together downtown to the start line because the train tracks in downtown were under repair beginning that day, which is about typical. I hate driving downtown because I always get turned around – add a race with closed off roads and I have no idea how I managed to get there. LOL We had to be there by 6:15am so we could grab the pace sticks at the VIP tent and get a group picture taken before the 7am start. The first thing I noticed was that this race felt smaller than it did the last time I ran it, which makes me sad. It’s a good course and one of the few that are in downtown Dallas. We make our way to the start line and immediately begin to see people gather at all of the pace sticks. A few fast selfies with friends pacing other times and we turn our attention to the group. The usual deer-caught-in-headlights looks from people caused me to snap into pacer mode. We began asking questions to warm the up – is this your first half? how has training been going? are you by yourself or with a friend? We quickly told the group that we would be using a run-walk method of 1 minute run and 1 minute walk to get us to the finish. This finish time seems to lend itself well to the 1:1 interval and with newer runners, sometimes that is all they can muster by the time you hit 11 miles. It ended up working out for a girl in the group that was training with the Dallas Galloway group and was well-versed in 1:1’s. There were others that thought they would do a different interval and we encouraged them to do whatever they felt most comfortable with and just stay near the stick because we were running even splits.

imageimageEarly on, Marcy and I encouraged the runners to get water when they could because the water stops were spaced every two miles until we got to mile 7. In some cities, this might be ok. In the heat of Dallas, the first lesson was that you should always carry water, even in late October. I had to make a pit stop at mile 6 (WHY?!?) and send the rest of them on. Four people in front of me at the portos taking their own sweet time resulted in an 8 minute mile for me to catch up to the group. Thank goodness for run-walk, because I really needed walk breaks for a while after that! Hahaha

Some of the best moments of the race include seeing Devanghi hanging out on the corner while down in the M-Streets, cheering everyone on and seeing one of my son’s old hockey teammates on the Katy Trail working a water stop with his school group. Sunny with the BGR girls just in front of the AAC was superb and they gave the runners a much-needed burst of energy with their enthusiasm and a group working one of the final water stops had “Panther Pride” shirts on. I quickly asked if they were the Hillcrest Panthers. What an awesome surprise to see them out there! I yelled “Go Crest” and told them my son was a student there. They all knew him (I hope that’s a good thing!) and we cheered and went crazy for a second before I kicked it into gear to get us all to the finish line. This is why I run. There are so many great people out there and we are all brought together by this crazy thing called running.

The final mile of the course is all uphill and can be kind of intimidating because you can see it coming. I could hear the heavy sighing and I reminded them that we would finish this hill together, Marcy and I talking them though it. Baby steps, sixty seconds at a time, swing the arms more, keep your body as upright as possible. To see the smiles on everyone’s faces after the conquering of the hill was the bomb. All that was left was a couple of turns. Thanking them for letting me spend the morning with them, we told them to go grab their PRs because they earned them. This group of runners stuck with us the entire race, through a few tears of “I don’t think I can do this.” To have them waiting at the finish line for Marcy and I as we crossed at 2:49:14 (not too shabby, if I do say so…) was pretty stinking amazing. One of the girls actually won her age group!! Seriously, that never happens!!

imageSwag: This is a race shirt I will wear. It is navy blue and had a cool design by taking its cue from the Dallas BIG campaign. BIG things happen in Dallas with lots of B’s and G’s around town. You stand in between them be cause “I” am part of what makes Big D BIG. I’m a sucker for it, what can I say? Even better? The PACER SHIRT ROCKS! Oh my goodness. Adidas knocked it out of the park with their shirt. At first, we were disappointed because they were supposed to be singlets, but they were so light and airy, that they really kept you cool. There was so much s-t-r-e-t-c-h to this shirt I could have shoved a three hundred pound guy into it with me, but when it isn’t stretched, it was perfectly form-fitting. Definitely some space-age technology going on with this shirt.

Aftermath: I feel as if I have been hit by a car. I think the fast mile mid race about killed my knee because it is so stinkin’ stiff. No bueno. Lots of yoga and stretching, a chiro visit, epsom salt bath and a massage are all on tap for this week because I am running the DRC Half on Sunday for myself in hopes of a sweet PR. Shoot, maybe I’ll even use a pacer to get me there. 🙂

Mid-Season Unexpected Training Derailment

You know how sometimes life just happens? I thought I was pretty good at managing life, but apparently, I was just on a schedule and a creature of habit.  The  minute I was removed from what was considered normal, the wheels fell off. My training has been sporadic and life has just been exhausting.

Three weeks ago, while fighting a respiratory infection that “looked like the beginning of pneumonia,” life hit like a ton of bricks. On the news was EBOLA. No big deal, but it was in my town. But there is zero risk, so we go on about our business. Until you get that call from the 6-year-old’s school. One of the exposed children from the Duncan household attends her school. Fear, outrage, confusion, uncertainty. It all hits you. I’m a pretty smart girl and did well in science, but when your youngest daughter, too young to be allowed to cross the street by herself, is involved, it’s game on. All of a sudden, the hand washing wasn’t long enough. Sixty containers of hand sanitizer were spread throughout the house and in backpacks and cars.  Seriously, you can’t make this crap up. Custodians in spacesuits were in the school every afternoon to clean with Lord only knows what kind of chemicals. The helicopters that hovered over the house day and night were an unwanted disruption to quiet dinners. The media standing outside of the school each morning were confusing to the kids. School, however, became a safe haven for them. Blinds were drawn, recess and PE were kept indoors, teachers and administrators kept the kids safe and protected and loved, business as usual outside of temperature checks and extra nurses on site. Two more cases of Ebola by nurses in our neighborhood rattled everyone’s nerves just when we thought things were starting to die down a bit. Crazier still was that I was asked to work from home while this was all going on. Things were not normal and I didn’t wish for any of this to become the new normal.

My perfect schedule with my perfect lunchtime workouts in my office building gym and runs at the trail that backs up to my office building were put on hold as I attended meetings via conference call. Had I planned for this, I could have made up a dream schedule complete with early morning runs and workouts at home, but it all happened so suddenly that there was no time to prepare. So, therein lies the root of it all. Preparation. It’s more than just writing it on a calendar. It means coming up with a backup plan when life throws you a curveball. I’m nowhere near where I should be on my Plan B, but I will actively be putting something together over the next several weeks.

I’m now back at work and life is looking more like it did a month ago, complete with lunches brought from home and my runs outside on the trail, which is where I am heading now. I have a half marathon to pace on Saturday morning and a half marathon next weekend I will run for time, so be on the lookout for race recaps!

We were interviewed for our local FOX network about lessons learned in the last twenty-one days, and I answered that the world is a pretty small place when it comes right down to it. What I would like to also say: Have a Plan B…