Friday, February 28, 2014

Virtual Challenge

Last week I was crowned headstand champion.  My 7 year old.  That's right.  I totally took her down.  Proof...

Yes those are frumpy mom sweats.  I have them in several colors and wear them with pride.

Let's just say there were a lot of giggles involved and a big head rush.  I'm not talking about letting the victory get to my head.  I'm talking about blood rushing to and from my already starving brain. Good times.

It has been proven that I enjoy a little competition.  I don't have a "win at all cost" attitude but I do like the adrenaline rush, the sportsmanship, the memories, the challenge, and the motivation it gives me to train.   And I do like to win...just not at ALL costs...and not really against my kids.  Although they take me down plenty too.  Let's just say I suck at riding a rip-stick, the hula-hoop, and Super Mario Cart Wii.

Mostly I like to improve upon myself.  Though sometimes I find myself bored, broke, or un-motivated. Here is something that helps get me going.

Join a virtual challenge.

What, When, Where?  Running a race can be exhilarating.  The people, the swag, the bling, the accomplishment - all awesome.  But there can be other factors that are a bummer like cost, travel, and bad timing.  The beauty of a virtual race is that it can be free, done on your own time (within a date range), and from your doorstep.  More awesomeness.  Many virtual races even offer medals if you opt to pay the fee.  

Here are a few resources.

 US Road Running
Best site I've found that offers all kinds of
virtual opportunities.  The cost can be anywhere from free + depending on race and options selected. Bonus -  Their medals rock.

The Boston Marathon World Run
The Boston marathon is the world's longest running marathon.  This year they are opening an inagural event where any participant can pledge to run/walk/crawl any distance.  Cost = Free!  There is an option to donate to the One Fund which helps families effected by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing if you so desire.  Website states "All registrants will receive a printable bib number, a digital finishers’ medal, and a printable finishers’ certificate."  Sign up by clicking HERE.

Spark People
This site-link is a great training tool.  You can register for a virtual race any week of the year and then simply log your results to see how you did against other competitors. All free.

This site is another example of how virtual racing can have a greater purpose. Each of their races make a donation to a foundation.  If your going to pay to run a race, you might as well get a medal and help a good   cause.  Check out their Voyage to Venus event.

To find additional challenges, make Google your friend.  Search engine ideas...

  • Virtual races with medals
  • Virtual fitness challenge
  • 2014 virtual races
  • Virtual road races
  • Virtual race prizes 2014
  • Virtual 5k (10k, 15k, 1/2, Full,) races 2014

Hoping this gives you additional arsenal in getting your motivation moving!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fat Chance

As I have mentioned I am a bit of a book worm.  I just finished the most fantastic book about the obesity pandemic that is a problem not only in our nation but world wide.  The book is Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease By Robert H. Lustig, M.D.  He is a pediatrician on a mission to help combat the obesity pandemic that is plaguing our world.

As a population we are increasingly getting larger.  He addresses many of the reasons why this is happening, there is so much information in this book that answered so many of my personal questions.  But here are a few main things that he talks about and how you can help yourself to be healthier and by being healthier the weight will take care of itself.  He talks about how a calorie is not a calorie, so the whole theory of calories in vs. calories out does not apply.  This made sense to me as I have struggled to loose weight when just monitoring my calorie intake and adding in exercise.  Your body processes different foods differently and therefore, has a different reaction.  Your body likes real food!  It does not like things from a package.

First off eat your fruits and veggies, don't juice them, but eat them so you get the fiber.  He talks a lot about fiber and how important it is in our diet.  It is my new mission to get more fiber, as this is something I rarely pay much attention to.

Eliminate or at least limit your sugar intake.  Sugar is toxic and addictive.  He talks about how the chemical reaction that takes place in our brain when we eat sugar is similar to that of consuming alcohol.  He talks about how fruit has sugar in it but with the combination of fiber our bodies understand how to process it, but when you eliminate the fiber our body doesn't like it near as well and the consequence of this is we slowly put on the weight.  He also talks about how fruit juice has more sugar in a serving than a can of soda!! YIKES!!!

His recommendations if you must eat something out of a package it needs to:

  • Don't consume your calories through liquid form unless it is in milk he says that our bodies process the sugar in milk (lactose) differently than other sugars.
  • have no fewer than 3g fiber (my trip to the grocery store was very interesting I couldn't find a bread that had 3g of fiber per serving in it).  
  • Sugar no matter what form its listed in (there are about 40 different names for sugar, but dextrose, fructose, glucose, sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup are a few) should  not be in the first 3-5 ingredients.
  • No hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (this is code for trans fat)
  • Skip the fast food
  • If you must go out, order something green, skip the frappuccinos and smoothies, make sure you get some form of lean protein.
He talks in his book about all the different diets from Vegan to Paleolithic diets and many in between and the reason that most people have success with these types of diets is because they are eliminating sugar... that is one component all the diets have in common.  He also talks about hormonal imbalances in our bodies and how to adjust to help yourself.  

He talks about exercise and how when most people begin exercising it is with weight loss in mind, and are sometimes defeated when the number on the scale doesn't budge too much.  Studies show that exercise alone will account for only 2-3lb weight loss, it is your diet that changes the number on the scale.  Exercise is a great way to improve your health and build muscle, but not a great component for weight loss.  Here is the book from Amazon, and I highly recommend it!  There is more information in the book than I can share with you in one little blog post but I felt like I hit some of the most important parts in the book.
Physical book Kindle Book The cookbook that is supposed to be amazing!! I just ordered it myself!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ice Ice Baby

Stop, collaborate and listen...(you can't quit right here can you)

As a product of the late 80's/90's I was tortured privileged to have the lyrics of this song memorized. In fact, as part of my training on the high school soccer team we would do a wall sit and recite the whole thing. That's how it was timed...we got good and fast.

Another ice I become very familiar with as an athlete was of course the beloved "ice pack".  During track I used to grab a Dixie cup that had frozen water inside and use it as an ice massage.  I would peel off the top to reveal the ice and rub the sore calves, quads, hammie, etc...  It usually ended up down some body's shirt.

With that in mind, here are 7 other ideas for a home-made ice pack.

Frozen Veggies

 In a thrifty move, my husband brought back the extra bags of frozen corn from scout camp.  To make a long story short, they have been frozen-thaw-frozen-thaw-and then frozen again.  Yummy.  So now if there is a need for a flexible ice pack, I've got 5 bags of frozen corn ready.  

Joking aside, this actually works really well.  Just mark the bag so it doesn't get used for dinner after it's gone through the frozen-thaw stage multiple times.

Frozen water bottle

This feels amazing on sore feet.  After the water freezes, roll your foot on the top of the bottle.  Works wonders for Plantar Fasciitis.

Frozen Variety - 

Click on the picture for a link on how to make these easy DIY ice packs.  The dish soap and alcohol options are awesome.  Again, mark the bag so your kiddos (or ice cream loving spouse) don't mistake it for a frozen treat.

An ice bath is also commonly used but I've never been sore enough to want one.  I don't care if it means I'm not a hard core runner.   Brrr!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Diet Game with Friends, What could be better?

Physical book Kindle Book
This book is a go to for me when I need to start into eating better or loose a few lbs.  We have done several contests before using this method and I have loved it  loved my results every. Single. time.  even though during the game I may not have been quite that enthusiastic.  It is really a tough thing to loose weight and change your eating habits to healthier ones, plus if your not already doing a few of the other things it makes the adjustment extra hard.

Here is the basics:
5 small meals per day (carb the size of your fist, protein the size of your palm, and healthy fat the size of your thumb and at least two meals must include 2 fist fulls of veggies)  You are never really hungry if you take advantage of the free veggies at each meal and your eating so often as well.  Meals must be eaten every 2-4 hours and the first within 1 hour of waking.
3 liters water
7+ hours of sleep
20 min of exercise
2 healthy habits one your giving up and one your adding in one
Communicate with at least 1 team mate and 1 opponent.

I think this covers the basics.  The food is a little more in depth, no sugar, no soda, no alcohol, nothing fried, carbs are fruits and whole grains, protein is a lean source of protein such as chicken, fish, cottage cheese or other low fat cheeses, and fats are the monounsaturated fats such as avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil.  You get 1 cheat day (don't over do it or you'll regret it) this is a day off from everything
.  You get 1 cheat meal, and 100 free calories per day to use toward anything except soda or alcohol.

Really this is not too bad, but the fact that you are on a team and you don't want to let them down is a huge part of keeping this going.  We usually put $10-20 per person in the pot and winning team takes all.  I have had people loose anywhere from 5-20lbs in a 4 week period.  All of the things that you are doing here are key to success.  The meals are obviously necessary for weight loss and it is really nice not to have to count calories.  The water, sleep and exercise are also critical to helping you become a healthier and hopefully lighter version of yourself.  The point of the game is health, with weight loss an added benefit.  This is probably what I am headed towards as I am training for my marathon in the next few months it will be necessary for me to fuel properly for my body to function properly.  In addition to making sure I am hydrated.

What is your go-to for diets when you are looking to shed a few lbs?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Wet Test

What is the story behind your arch?

Dip your feet in some water, than walk on a surface that will show your imprint.  I went all out with a cup of water.  After throwing it down on my sidewalk, I hopped in and then out.  Pretty scientific eh? Here are what my arches look like.

Who cares? 

Anyone looking to buy a new running shoe should.  Knowing what your arch looks like will help you determine what kind of support your new duds need.  The goal is finding a shoe that helps your feet maintain a more neutral position from touch down to push off.  I stole this chart from Dicks Sporting Goods because it sums up the results of the "Wet Test" nicely.

If you have a medium "normal" arch consider yourself lucky.  You can wear pretty much any shoe that doesn't get in the way of how you run naturally.  Probably best to stay away from shoes that offer motion control.

If your arch is high, you are one of a kind.  This is the least common arch and doesn't really require any help or correction as long as you are running pain free.  Your shoes could wear out quickly on the outside and you may just have to replace them more often.

If your arch is flat, you have a little more work to do in finding a shoe that gives you enough support to keep your foot from rolling in too far.  A "motion control" shoe will most likely have a different color of mid sole, (often grey) and will be a bit firmer.  If you like the support but want a softer ride, you can get a comfy insole that can help.

How do you know if the shoe fits your criteria? 

Often you can ask the shoe guru to point you to the shoes with "----".  If not, many times the shoe box will specify.  I also always bring my smart phone so I can read reviews and look up shoe information after I find one I like.  My kids think shoe shopping could possibly be the most boring thing ever trumping both listening to me explain math and waiting for me to stop talking to everyone on the way out of church. I gotta take my time!  I want these suckers to make me superwomen on the road!

Due to a schedule conflict (a.k.a church calling) I will now be posting on Wednesday and Friday.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Essential Oils in Action

Okay don't be fooled even with all the wonderful things I have in my bag of tricks such as essential oils, foot zoning and herbs to name a few, we still come down with the occasional illness at our house.  A few weeks ago my oldest little boy had a bit of a fever, so I took his temp, 101.6,

 I applied my favorite fever reducing oils, Lavender and Peppermint,

 and waited about 45min to an hour to retemp, and here are the results.

I can't even tell you how much I love using oils.  This is pretty much amazing in my opinion.   What results have you seen with essential oils?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Desperate Measures

It happened last Tuesday.

The storm clouds parted, the sun was throwing down some golden rays, and my legs got an itch...bad.  Not the kind that you can scratch.  The kind where the rabid runner in me just wants to go outside and let loose.

Problem -  my big kids were at school and my baby was napping.

Solution - Become even more of a geek (see previous post).  I measured out the distance between the stop signs on my street and ran back and forth like a crazy women.  My house sits right in the middle so I pass by often and can keep a close eye on things.  After 10 passes I had 4 miles done.  Itch was "scratched", face absorbed some vitamin D, and this Momma was in a good mood.


On a less sunny day.
This dip sits between me and one stop sign.  The incline grade is the same both directions so during my fanatical outing, I hit some hill repeats too.  Two-fer baby!  I contemplated waiting at the top to hitch a ride a couple times but forced one foot in front of the other.

I then continued my desperate rampage by renewing my Runner's World subscription.  The Special Olympic fundraisers get me every year!  At least I can say no to the girl scouts.  Okay, not really.  I've got 4 boxes of cookies coming in March.  Gonna have to up the energy output next month and burn some extra calories because those Thin Mints are divine!...and Samoas...and Tagalongs...oh boy.

Halftime Results

It has come time to own up and post my halftime measurements from the original pics here.  
My goals in review...
Waist - 29 inches      Thigh - 22 inches      Hips - 37 inches
Gulp, here we go.

Waist: 30" - down 1 inch.

                            Thigh: 22 1/2" - down 1/2 inch                    Hips: 38" - down 1/2inch

At least it's all headed the right direction.  Little worried about the hips.  Gonna have to start working my butt off.  Hahahaha!  Get it?  I'm hilarious.  My rear is always the last to go though.  Baby got back.

Link Love

Lastly, I got hooked up with a couple coupon codes that may appeal to you so I thought I'd share.

SLC marathon -  use MKTACTSLC14  to get $5 off.  Expires -  2/17/14
Pro Compression socks - FEB14 to get free shipping and 40% off.  Expires: 2/21/14

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


There has been a lot of hype lately about mindfulness as a new approach to stress reduction, to increasing that inner Zen we are all after.  You know that inner peace you really start to miss a few minute after you have bitten someone’s head off or the shrill tone in your voice has “inspired” the kiddo’s to hide in an upstairs closet for a bit.  In the daily hustle and bustle, under stress we all start to loose track of the here and now. 

Take a quick inventory of your thoughts over the past few minutes, if you look at them I am betting most are not anchored in the present, the hear and now.  If you are anything like me you mind is racing though the past and future at light speed.  I am remembering that I forgot to drop overdue library books off on my way home, wishing I had included some specific piece of advice when I was coaching a teacher earlier today, thinking about what I am going to pack for lunches tomorrow, for the rest of the week, lamenting my lack of a workout today, and wondering if putting the package I need to mail under my car keys will help me remember to send it tomorrow.  I get stressed and tired just thinking about all that stuff.  If you review the list they are all time travel of the mind, they are all forward or backward thinking and this is not only exhausting but stressful.  More importantly they take us away for the joys of the present.  

Mindfulness is a old but good practice based in eastern philosophy designed to combat these stressors, to give our minds and rest, and to savor the smaller pieces of life by being attentive to them.  To slow down.  It is about focusing your attention as a means of doing this.  And in so doing increasing your ability to do so.  If you think of your attention span as a muscle than mindfulness is an approach to strengthen and exercise that muscle.  

There are tons of books, research, and websites dedicated to the practice of mindfulness, but a great place to start is this month’s issue of Time Magazine. 

Or this step by step guide.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Baked Broccoli

Eating is by far the hardest part of being healthy for me.  I have said before veggies are not my favorite, however, I am learning to prepare them in new ways so I like them.  Here was a trial that worked out pretty good.  My husband loved it and I thought it was pretty good too.  The best part is it was easy.

This was supper yummy, Cut up your broccoli and place in baking dish or on a cooking sheet, drizzle with 2-3 tsp. of coconut oil, or olive oil.  Add a couple of tsp chopped garlic or a few garlic cloves to the oil prior to the drizzling.  Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes or until broccoli starts to brown on the edges.  Sprinkle the top some fresh Parmesan when you take it out of the oven and serve!!!  Even my kiddos loved it.  It was nice and crispy.  I might add a bit of bacon next time if I am feeling like splurging!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sometimes I Amaze Myself

Case Study #1

In January I managed to make it to 9:00 a.m. church before it started 3 of 4 times.  

This is a small feat considering I fly solo with 4 kids on Sunday's.  The hubs was so astonished the first Sunday that he couldn't help but acknowledge my presence over the pulpit as he was conducting.  I gave him a thumbs up sign and nodded as I accepted my praise from the laughing congregation.  The second Sunday he was even more surprised and again couldn't contain himself from announcing his AMAZEMENT.  I think by the third Sunday he was just plain speechless.

(We won't talk about what happened the next couple weeks.  
Let's just say I didn't let the pressure of being on time get to me.)

Case Study #2
Sometimes I pre-make my midday snack 6 hours in advance.

Around 5:00 p.m. I'll open the microwave to heat something up for my starving kiddos (that just can't make it to dinner) to find the midday snack I forgot about. Yesterday it was cocktail sausages left over from a Superbowl party. Don't worry, 60 seconds did the trick.

Case Study #3
Music swap = Best Idea Ever!

Last Saturday I held a music swap at my house with a handful of ladies from my running group.  

The plan:  Everyone in our group created a running playlist from their personal music stash.  Then we burned a CD for each person and exchanged over some light laughter and healthy snacks. (It was more like blowing of steam while chugging DP but whatever.)  Now I have about 5 hours of fresh new music to choose from to give my ipod shuffle an overhaul.  SO AWESOME!!!  We've even created a holiday for ourselves.  The first Saturday in February has now become our running group's annual Music Swap day.  It's already on my 2015 calendar.

Meet Kpod.  A shuffle that gets around as much as she does deserves a name.

Great running tunes give me joy.  If you haven't figured it out, I'm pretty much a running geek.  I can calculate pace in my head and estimate how far a run is no problem.  I know the lengths of all the hills within a 5 mile radius from my doorstep, can tell you how to find the perfect running shoe, and I also now how fast a song should be to meet my perfect BPM (beats per minute).  Yes, I really am that geeky. 

But it's like GOLD when I find an upbeat or fast tempo song that matches my stride.  My feet love to pound some serious pavement when this happens.  Here are a few favorites from my playlist.  (I've included some links at the bottom if you want to sample these tunes)

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Can't Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton)
Imagine Dragons - On Top of the World
Matt Nathanson - Faster
Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines (feat. T.I. & Pharrell) [Will Sparks Remix]
Train - Hey, Soul Sister
Colbie Caillat - Brighter Than the Sun
Michael Franti & Spearhead - Say Hey (I Love You) [feat. Cherine Anderson]
Bruno Mars - Runaway Baby

The beauty of the swap is now I've got a bunch of great new tunes that somehow I've managed to miss along the way.  For instance...

Fall Out Boy - My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark
Awolnation- Kill Your Heroes
Don Omar - Conteo  (I have no idea what this song is about since it's in Spanish.  But the beat gets in my head and pushes me.  Sorry if it's something nasty)

One More Trick
Here's another system I use to find upbeat music.  Most songs have a remix.  If you have a song you like but it's a little too slow, search for it's remix.  Ta-da!  For example...

Lorde - Royals  too slow for me.       But it's remix...        Dubstep Radioactive - Royals  much better!

Hope this helps your playlist overhaul as well...and if you get a music swap together, I WANT IN!!!



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