Monday, January 20, 2014

Blazing the Orange with My Girl

Ava, my 5 year old, didn't have school scheduled for today in light of the MLK holiday.  Seeing this schedule change in advance, I requested the day off.  Yay.  What a great idea!  Last night, I asked her if she would be interested in going for a hike.  That question sparked a fire in her eye.  She immediately rattled off the list of supplies required for this excursion - #1 being snacks.  :)  But of course.  

I got up at my usual hour (4:35) to squeeze in an hour of cycling class before the rest of the house started stirring.  Knowing that we didn't have to meet the bus crunch, I dawdled.  After brewing a hot cup of joe, I parked my butt at the kitchen table (in the same spot it's in right this moment) to buzz through a few websites as my hard boiled egg finished up.  Post-shower, I gently nudged everyone from their slumber.  The girls ate breakfast together while I packed a bag.  I wasn't yet sold on the location of our hike, but I knew, wherever we went, that a knapsack of supplies would be necessary.  Within ten minutes, all bundled, we piled into the car to take Alli to day care.  Part of me felt a twinge of guilt as I left Alli behind, but I know she couldn't yet hang with me and Ava.  Another day, darling...

We made a quick pit stop at Staples to pick up two journals.  Ava suggested we chronicle our journey, or as she'd say 'adventure'.  Before making our way across the parking lot to the car, I pointed to the horizon while asking Ava to look 'up'.  South Mountain hovered over the little town of Emmaus.  I informed her that we'd be climbing that mountain.  Instead of backing off or being shy at the idea, Ava embraced all the excitement and reflected it with a huge, bright eyed smile.  

At the trail head, we discovered the perfect walking stick to help her along the way - it was definitely needed.  
Ava hiking up the mountain

The backside of the orange trail (headed east) was icy with patches of hard packed mud.  We also encountered a few icy water crossings.  

Ava prior to crossing the 'run'
Rodale Run

I'm impressed with Ava's determination in climbing the hills and navigating the terrain.  Occasionally, she pulled ahead of me with her head up and her stick by her side.  I couldn't resist in falling back to snap a few pics.    Not as fast as Ava would have liked, we eventually reached the boulder outcropping where we discovered a snow-free rock to sit on.  

I passed out snacks and shortly after we journaled our experience to-date.  I was in heaven watching Ava draw pictures of her observances.  

Soon enough, we made our way back down the mountain.  Ava talked NON-STOP.  She loved the trail, the trees, the rock hopping, the water slowly moving under the frozen surfaces, the dogs we encountered, the bridges, the fallen trees, the...the...the.  We rounded another corner approaching the trail head.  After hitting the road, we jogged to the car and hopped in to get warm.  Hot chocolate was definitely in order.  We had a great time.  I can't wait to embark on another adventure with my baby girl.

The Girls

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Do Your Practice and All Is Coming"

Do Your Practice and All Is Coming.  Sri K. Pattabhi Jois  

I've used this quote in a post before.  I'm too lazy right now to add the correct link.  Pattabhi Jois is the late founder of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India.  I had the amazing opportunity to take a yoga class with him in NYC.  To me, these words of wisdom apply to life, not just the physical practice of yoga.  Practice makes perfect.  Practice takes time.  Practice builds confidence.  There is always the chance of a relapse — perhaps, practice no longer becomes habit or practice doesn't seem as meaningful.  That's okay.  Start over.  Start again.  

This past weekend I had four conversations with four different people about their roadblocks related to their running regimen.  Some women are having trouble jumpstarting their fitness after the holiday; some feel as if they should be progressing faster; and some are trying to balance their mental drive versus their physical ability.  Please believe me when I say that I don't have all the answers.  Okay...there it is in print.  Save it, post it, remember it.  That's the last time you'll see that from me. The purpose of this evening's post is to help coach you through some of this crap.  

You Lack the Motivation to Start a Program
Sounds to me like you're contemplating the start of a fitness program.  You sound pissed enough that you're not motivated to get off the couch.  This is a good sign.  Baby steps, people.  Without understanding where you are in life (job, lifestyle, fitness level, goals), I don't have enough clairvoyance to help diagnose the cause, but I do know that you're headed in the right direction.  Maybe you're not sure of an activity best suited for you.  I recommend that you team up with someone of like interests.  Start talking about your goals, your likes, your dislikes.  Building a relationship with a like-minded partner will help drive both of you towards success.  

You Fell Off the Wagon 
Everyone goes through phases of relapse.  At some point, you may be able to predict your behavior prior to relapse AND you might be smart enough to intervene.  For example, maybe before every major deadline at work you put in longer hours and see an increase in your stress levels.  Reaching for a sugary caffeinated beverage or a candy bar in the afternoon becomes all too common.  Maybe you rush to get to the office earlier by sacrificing your breakfast.  In these situations, you can plan ahead, by preparing an on-the-go breakfast the night before; instead of grabbing that candy you opt for a brisk walk around the parking lot.  Whatever the reasons, always remember that you can pick up where you left off.  Don't kick yourself when your down, just get back up.  

Be Creative
You missed a run.  The holidays arrive.  Work gets in the way.  Damn weather.  Think on your toes if you can't stick to your usual routine.  Maybe you typically hit the gym on Thursday evenings, but due to a power outage the gym closed early.  Don't go home and sulk about it - BE CREATIVE.  Power walk at the mall - yup, be that person.  Or maybe you go back to your office and run the stairs.  Add in a few burpees after each flight.  Use the gym at your community center or pop in a fitness DVD.  There are plenty of valid reasons for not making a workout, but there's always another option. 

You Expect More Progress
This is a biggie that can also be when recovering from an injury or illness.  
Incorporating fitness into your life is more than just a past time.  For me, it's a lifestyle.  There are so many reasons why I have made fitness a priority.  I am here, at this point in my life, as the result of trial and error; I lived and learned; I fell of the wagon time and time again, only to pick myself back up again.  It's not easy, please do not misunderstand that fine point.  Most of you know that you won't lose 10 lbs. after getting your ass up off the couch to walk one block.  Things take time.  Remember - do your practice and all is coming.  It's difficult to make working out and eating well a habit; it's easier, in my opinion, to let it slip away.  Keep at it.  Let me elaborate.
You want to run because some asshole friend with a blog talks about it A LOT.  There must be something magical about this running thing, so you give it a whirl.  Running sucks.  But you keep at it.  At some point, you're interested, VERY interested in maintaining this activity.  Perhaps, you like it enough that you start talking about it, learning about it and maybe even dreaming about it (I should probably reel that back in...but I won't...cause I KNOW you, deep down, LOVE to run).  Blah, blah...time goes by.  You squeeze in some runs, but life and the weather get in the way.  You fall out of habit and before you know it, days, maybe even weeks, pass and the only running you've done is to the oven when you smell the cookies burning.  Then, there it is...a break in the weather.  "Ohhhh, boy...this is it, " you say.  "I'm going to go for a run."  Shoes, check; watch, check; RoadID, check (I should get paid for that); out the door we go...  Your last run (when was that?) hovered around the 5 mile mark.  Today, you're sucking wind.  Life sucks and running is stupid.  You return home, in tears, only to find that you barely hit 2 miles and that was a weak run/walk at best.  
Every run is different.  Whether you've been training regularly for thirty years,  or you just started - EVERY RUN IS DIFFERENT.  It's too easy to get frustrated with a lack of progress, but take a moment — extended time off from ANY activity will affect future performances.  Keep it real by lowering your expectations.  This is the ultimate mind game.  Your head might want to push you towards 5 miles (you did it before), but your legs might not be conditioned enough (are you freakin' kidding me?).  Cut yourself some slack.  The more you stress about not making 'the mark' the more it will affect your body, both mentally and physically.  This will lower your defense mechanisms and you could wind up sick.  And THAT, my friends, will result in more time you're really behind.  It's a vicious cycle.  
The run won't be enjoyable if you're consistently harping on your performance, your mileage and/or your pace/time.  And that saddens me, because the run is amazing.  

The run is amazing.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Shhh...Don't Tell Anyone

touted my plans for running a 15 miler today.  "Ooh.  Whatcha trainin' for?" I was asked.  Ummm, nuthin.  In my end of the year wrap up, I mentioned a group of women who have been running together for a few months.  If I remember correctly, they couldn't fathom running a marathon.  Fast forward four months later, and they're all in.  We are now loosely following a marathon training plan.  Think of it as training for the training - proof of concept type stuff.  Sometime last week, I was notified that we'd be running 15 miles this Saturday (now today).  Shit.  Fifteen miles.  I haven't run 15 miles since the Philly Marathon (I think) and that was in November of 2012.  Crap.  Oh, well.  I won't be doing it alone.  

So, here I sit, at my kitchen table.  My beautiful Starbucks mermaid cup cradles the dark brew.  It's before 6 am.  Shhh, don't tell anyone.

We all met at the spot only to slip and glide our way to the trail.  At that moment, I received a phone call (originally thought to be a butt dial - cause who the fuck is calling at 5:25 am).  I managed the call - maintaining the innocence of others - while the group, quickly decided that this crap would be for the ducks.  We slid back to our cars to head back home with plans to meet up tomorrow.  I was immediately filled with excitement like a child on Christmas.

Wow.  There's so much I could do.  I mean, I'm up now, I can't go back to bed.  Coffee is in order.  I could start my next lesson for my health coach cert (you knew about that, right?) or I could start organizing whatever.  Everyone is still asleep; they might actually sleep for another two hours.

In reality, I figured I would just dick around on the Internet. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I'm blessed.  I'm surrouded by a supportive famiy and wonderful friends.  Those beautiful people deserve a medal for putting up with me.  Seriously, folks, I'm a pain in the ass.  You know from reading this blog that I like to run...a lot.  I like to talk.  Sometimes I'm over the top (read this) enough that people label me as 'crazy'.  Eh.  Maybe so.  Then there's the food side of me.  I LOVE food and I'll try almost anything...within reason, of course.  My lifestyle as of the past 10 months does not permit me to indulge in whatever I wish.  No grain, people.  That about sums it up.  Yes, that's right - no pasta.  Uh uh - I don't eat rice.  Bingo - potatoes are out.  All of the foods society has dubbed as 'amazing' don't usually fall into my scope of foods.  That's cool, baby.  I make my own amazing.  
Asian Zucchini Noodles
Santa made sure I had all the tools necessary to make amazing dishes in 2014.  He picked up this handy dandy spiral vegetable slicer.  I have already mastered the art of zucchini noodles.  After running two or three zucchini's throught the slicer, toss them in a colander with a healthy helping of salt.  Place the colander in a bowl and let drain for 20 - 30 minutes.  The slicer cleans up easily, too.  I've also made this dish using cucumber.  I was surprised at how well the vegetable held up.  I'm a huge fan of Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce by Soy Vay.

I know.  I know.  It's not gluten free and it's not Paleo.  I can handle a little bit of this every so often.  Again, I'm a pain in the ass.  Throw a little bit of this into a bowl...maybe 1/4 cup.  Add a healthy dose of garlic powder and crushed red pepper.  Wisk in one tablespoon of almond butter (I love Justin's) and a few splashes of rice wine vinegar.  

Rinse the noodles thoroughly in water.  Squeeze out any excess and add to the kicked up teriyaki sauce.  Just like spaghetti, toss the noodles with the sauce.  Add a sprinkling of roasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions to finish.  


I had this dish for both lunch and dinner today.  Dinner was gussied up with the addition of six spicy, pan fried shrimp.  

Curry Chicken Salad

I cannot take credit for this next recipe.  This curry chicken salad has made a handful appearances at friends gatherings.  My weekend craving required me to get the recipe.  I mixed the shit out of it and brought it to a football party this past Saturday.  I made sure to keep a stash home for future indulgence.  Sadly, it's gone already.  

I used Ina Garten's recipe, but made slight modifications.  I didn't have the time to roast my own chicken as Ina, so I used rotisserie instead.  I couldn't find the chutney she references, so I just grabbed a sweet mango chutney from the international aisle in my grocery store.  Finally, instead of using raisins, I quarted large black grapes.  Stupid sign said they were seedless...that was crap.  Oh, well.  The end result was yummy in my tummy.  

I'm not a fan of all the mayo.  Next time I'll cut 1/4 of the mayo with Greek yogurt.  Maybe that'll work.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside

In case you live in a bubble, or Florida, it's stinkin cold in the Northeast.  It's the kind of cold that forces me to wear a hat around the house.  It's the kind of cold that makes me envision moving to Arizona.  It's the kind of cold that reinforces my love for summer (ahhhh...OBX...).
After Thursday night's snowfall, I stayed home with the kiddies Friday.  Alli's daycare, historically hardcore, closed and Ava didn't have school.  Normally, I would have made alternate arrangements, but I felt I needed to take the day.  It's a funny statement considering I had Tuesday AND Wednesday off.  When you put in thirteen plus (!) years with a company the volume of vacation I accrue is just ridiculous.  I earned the time, so I took it.  Booya.  By Friday night I became a little stir crazy knowing that the frigid temperatures would derail any outdoor activity we might have planned.  Oh well...  The girls enjoyed leftover turkey and cheese quesadillas while the adults picked around the fridge.  We wrapped up the evening with hot tea and cookies.  I bundled the girls in snuggly jammies and tucked them under a few layers of blankets.  I, on the other hand, pulled up my hood, wrapped my skull and crossbones Snuggie around my body and passed out on the couch.  I never made it to bed.  The thought of shifting my weight away from the warmest part of the couch seemed like the beginning of a Shakespeare tragedy.  I woke at 4:30 am with the urge to hit the bathroom.  Nope.  I held off and passed back out.  I was willing to take the risk.  Around 8 am, a little body began poking my calves telling me to wake up.  Instead, I grabbed that little girl, pulled her up over me to snuggle in the hot box I created.  We must have hung out for twenty minutes before my oldest came downstairs.  The three of us piled in the corner of my couch to keep each other warm.  Of course, we were being dramatic, as the house temperature was 65.  Sure, that's cold, but it wasn't unmanageable.  That pellet stove was working hard.  Normally, the temp of the first floor, with the stove burning, hovers between 70 - 85 degrees.  Not today.  
Stay warm...