runfreeforever

Live. Love. Run. It's what I do.

Fat Week :)

Two weekends ago was the state track meet…which means that the following week was my FAT WEEK ūüôā
Fat Week is the week immediately following State in which I 1.) am required by my coach to NOT RUN and 2.) can eat whatever I want…to a certain extent. So this being my fat week, I’ve followed my instructions well. It’s kinda hard and kinda weird to not be running every day like usual, but since I only get two fat weeks per year (one after cross country and one after track) I figure I’d better take advantage of it.

My only problem is that while it feels kinda funny to be completely free to eat whatever I want and not burn it off during my fat week, by the end of the week, I don’t want to stop. During my fat week, the only exercise I did was bike a few miles. I went to grad parties and ate plenty of cupcakes and cookies and barbecue pork sandwiches. I ate Oreos and M&Ms and a delicious chocolate cake my middle school running coach made for me:) And I made slutty brownies with some girls on my team. YUM:)

So this week I tried to start up running again and am very sad at how out of shape I feel already. I ran a mile on Memorial Day, two miles on Tuesday (all of which were slow, like 9-minute miles but I still was dying anyways) and three miles today (with my friend’s super fast friend who ran way too fast for this poor girl). I feel so out of shape! I felt like I couldn’t go any faster today and we were only running three miles at slightly under 8 minutes per mile! And then I realized that I didn’t just take a week off, it was more like three. Since I’d been trying to deal with my plantar fasciitis, I’d scaled back on my running a lot more than usual in the last two weeks of track. So now I have the lovely task of getting myself re-motivated and getting back into shape. I gotta start getting ready for cross country in August and for cross country camp in two weeks. I want to stand out this year in cross country, in a good way. Not in the “Oh wow, what happened to her that made her so slow this year” kind of standing out. I want us to have an amazingly successful season again this year like we did last year. And it all starts now. Because if I can get my aerobic base as high as possible over the summer, I’ll be that much ahead of the game when the real season starts, and I can just keep going uphill from there! I’m getting so excited!

And here’s an inspirational video to remind us all to eat our salad… and to give us an ab workout! GO CORE!!

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Strawberry Pineapple Banana Smoothie

Strawberry Pineapple Banana Smoothie

Blend:

1 banana

about 1 1/2 cups strawberries

5 ice cubes (not needed if strawberries are frozen)

8oz canned pineapple and its juice (get the kind in 100% juice)

about 1/4 c. orange juice

I made this smoothie this morning for breakfast and it was the best smoothie I’ve ever made! And with the juice in it, I didn’t even need to add any sugar because it was naturally sweet enough. Smoothies are one of my favorite things in the summer. They’re refreshing, they’re healthy (if you don’t add too much sugar! or ice cream…), they’re easy to make, and they’re delicious! I’m looking forward to finding more yummy smoothie recipes and making up my own to share this summer!

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Healthy vs. Weight-loss

If you ever watch TV, listen to the radio, read magazines, or are exposed at all to society, I’m guessing you’ve heard the countless advertisements for weight-loss programs, supplements, and fitness programs. All of them claim to be the best and claim to make you happy. The message we’re sent says that if you just lose 10, 15, or 30 lbs, your life will be happier, you’ll feel better about yourself, and everything will go your way. But I’d like to disagree with that perceived notion that we have to lose weight and wear a certain size and have a certain number pop up when you step on the scale. I think that an emphasis on health – living a healthy, active lifestyle and making healthy food decisions – is what’s more important than emphasizing weight-loss and dieting.

I don’t know about other people, but when I step on the scale and start worrying about the numbers I see, I have a tendency to immediately think that I’m fat and need to lose weight. I know that I’m at a healthy weight, but sometimes I think we all feel like we weigh more than we should, or think that our old jeans should fit better than they do, or wish that our swimsuits looked better on us than they do. But at least for me, worrying about losing weight makes me go down a snowballing path of worry, lack of self-esteem, a poor self-image, and obsession over food and calories. But then when I get stressed, sad, and worried I just end up eating more chocolate and ice cream. So basically, when I start worrying about my weight, I just end up less healthy than I was to start out with. I don’t think that it’s healthy when I start obsessing over food and calorie intake when I start worrying solely about my weight and the numbers on the scale. There’s so much more to life, so many other things to worry about, that I don’t think that it’s worth it to constantly worry about how many grams of fat were in that cake that I ate earlier or the chili I had for dinner. Eating disorders are scary, like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, and at least for me, worrying about the scale is a great open door for me to head down a path that I don’t want to take.

Rather than worrying about my weight, I think that it’s more effective to make a conscious effort to live a healthy lifestyle. For about the past year, I’ve tried to focus my attention much more on how healthy I am overall rather than just how many calories I’ve eaten or how heavy I am. I think that my mindset is much healthier and happier, and I am much more prone to choose better foods and keep myself fit when I focus on being healthy rather than on losing weight.

I find myself stepping on the scale less often, maybe somewhere between once a week to once a month, rather than every day. And guess what? My weight didn’t go anywhere when I wasn’t keeping an eye on it. It didn’t suddenly skyrocket, and it didn’t suddenly disappear. It just stayed where it was. Not monitoring my weight vigilantly every day, or multiple times a day hasn’t changed anything but my satisfaction with the girl I see staring back at me in the mirror. When I’m focusing on being healthy, I’m not afraid of being “fat” or spending my time worrying about just a number. Sure, I still mess up and don’t always eat healthy or get every workout in. But that’s okay, I just start over and keep going. When I focus on being healthy, I’m content with my body because I’m doing what I can to take good care of it, rather than trying to get rid of part of it. It changes the way I think about every run, every workout, and every meal. It changes my mindset to be making myself the best I can be rather than trying to take off the part of you that I don’t want. It’s a focus on my whole body, rather than just a portion of it.

Have you been focusing only on the numbers on a scale? Have you been obsessing over food and calories, and focusing on a part of your body rather than the whole thing? I encourage you to try changing your mindset on this weight-loss craze. If you focus on being healthy, on eating right and staying fit rather than on losing weight, hopefully you can get out of the pattern of stress, worry, unsatisfactory body image, and disappointment that so many of us put ourselves through!

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Kashi Dark Mocha Almond bars…YUMMM

I found a new favorite granola bar!! The Kashi Dark Mocha Almond chewy granola bars are the best!

They are delicious! They have the perfect amount of sweetness, and they’re especially great for all you coffee lovers out there. But they’re great not only for your taste buds but they’re also good for you! Their number one ingredient is whole grains and they have four grams of fiber, which leaves you full for longer. They also have no high fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. They only have three and a half grams of fat, most of which are poly- or mono-unsaturated fats (the good-for-you fats that could help lower your cholesterol and improve heart health, and is found in nuts, avocados, olive oil, etc. To read more about poly- and mono-unsaturated fats, click here.)

Another plus to these tasty granola bars is their ratio of protein to carbs. these bars have six grams of protein and twenty-one grams of carbs, or between a 3:1 and 4:1 ratio. When you workout or run, especially for extended periods of time, it’s important to get both carbohydrates and protein back into your system within half an hour for proper recovery (to read more on proper recovery click here). The carbs are important to refuel your muscles’ glycogen stores so you are ready to go the next day. Protein is also important to help your muscles rebuild and repair torn muscle tissue. Both are extremely important to get your body working the best. From looking at various websites, somewhere between a 2:1 to 4:1 ratio of carbs-to-protein seems to be the rule of thumb. It may take some experimenting to see what works best for you and your body. These granola bars are right in that range though, so try them out!

When you eat Kashi’s Dark Mocha Almond granola bars, you will probably forget everything I just told you about their healthy qualities and get lost in coffee-chocolaty heaven. I’ve found them at Hy-vee and Target, and I would definitely recommend looking for a box in your own grocery store! Let me know if you love them as much as I do! ūüôā

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Vitamin C is Overrated

I think I’ve come down with the flu or something. I’m achy, have a killer headache, a runny nose, and a cough, and I feel pretty miserable in general. We didn’t have school today since it’s Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, which makes it suck even more that I don’t even get to skip school for this. I couldn’t go running today and had to cancel plans with some friends that I haven’t seen in forever. I know that the flu has been going around lately, and a bunch of people in my show choir have been sick. It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t been getting a ton of sleep lately, either.

But it makes me think, in the midst of this flu season, is there a way to prevent getting sick?? I have a friend who takes a vitamin C supplement all the time and says it helps her not get sick, but I don’t think it really works. She gave me one on Saturday and look¬† at how far that got me. According to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, vitamin C supplements really don’t reduce the risk of getting sick or the duration or severity for most people. However, if you are a marathon runner, it can cut your risk of catching a cold by 1/2! But if you eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, you are likely to get more than enough vitamin C already. Almost every fruit and vegetable contains at least a little vitamin C. So if you’re at the store looking at vitamin C supplements, you would probably do better to leave it on the shelf and don’t look back twice. Instead, head over to the produce section and pick up some oranges. Or any of the following fruits or vegetables that all contain high amounts of vitamin C:

  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, along with their juices
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries
  • Watermelon
  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
  • Green and red peppers
  • Spinach and other leafy greens
  • Sweet and white potatoes
  • Tomatoes and tomato juice
  • Winter squash

Then go home, get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of water, and eat a healthy diet, and you’ll be doing your best to prevent getting sick!

I’m gonna go take a nap now, hope you all stay healthy!

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The Evil Cookie Monster strikes again

Merry Christmas!

nativity cliparts kids

Jingle Bells! Walking in a Winter Wonderland! Frosty the Snowman! Not-so-silent nights, family, friends, and lots and lots of food are here! Joy to the World!

To all my readers, I dearly hope that your Christmas is filled with love and joy. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I love seeing my cousins and family, singing Christmas carols, drinking hot chocolate, and Рmy personal favorite Рmaking snowmen!

Jesus’ birth is celebrated, Santa comes down the chimney, and……OH NO!!! The Evil Cookie Monster!!!!!!

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

He looks all nice and innocent but then WAIT!!! What’s that around your waistline? What? Why am I suddenly running a minute-per-mile slower than usual?? NOOOO!!!! It’s that sneaky little cookie monster!

If your extended family, neighbors, and friends are anything like mine, I’m sure you must be¬†drowning in an overload of delicious cookies and other assorted treats this holiday season. And I don’t think that I’m the only one who doesn’t stop after eating just one. Or two. Or three. Or even four…or five…..oops……¬†I mean, when there’s so many different kinds to try, you gotta test all of them, right? Just to make sure they all taste good! And then you gotta have a few more of your favorites! My family is full of amazing cooks, all of whom assure me that since it’s Christmas, I should definitely go ahead and have as many cookies as I want! But then this morning I tried running and did not like my mile times at all. I don’t think that I should attribute all of it to the few-too-many treats I’ve been eating lately. I know that the colder weather has something to with it, as well as the fact that¬†I haven’t been keeping up my miles like I should. But still. An almost-ten minute mile??? Really?? I didn’t think I was that out of shape!

So how do we fight this cookie monster? Here’s my battle strategy:

  • Eat when I’m hungry. Don’t eat when I’m not.
  • Don’t mindlessly eat (like while watching tv…or It’s a Wonderful Life or Charlie Brown Christmas!)
  • Say “no” to some food sometimes
  • Take the time to slow down and actually enjoy the delicious cookies and treats
  • Keep in mind that it is Christmas, that Christmas only comes once a year, and it won’t be the end of the world if I do eat a bit (or a lot bit) less healthy than I should this week
  • Keep running!

So I know¬†that fighting the Evil Cookie Monster at this time of year is probably a losing battle. It’s so tempting to have the plates, platters, and cute little tins sitting all over the house, just begging to be eaten. But maybe if we can eat cookies in moderation, it’ll really turn out okay in the end? Christmas will be gone before we know it and the new year will rush in faster than the snow whipping past your windshield. I’m going to enjoy my Christmas, enjoy my family, and enjoy my one or two cookies before they’re all gone!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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My love affair with Zio Johnos

I had Zio Johnos spaghetti for dinner tonight. Delicious.

Spaghetti is the go-to dish for many carbo-loading runners. The night before a big, long race or run, it’s common to eat a large carbohydrate-filled meal such as spaghetti,potatoes, bread, or rice. The idea is to refuel the body’s glycogen stores – the energy supply your body uses up when you run or exercise.¬† When your body’s glycogen stores are depleted, your body must use stored fat for energy. Converting fat into energy to be used by the body is much less efficient, takes more time, and leaves you feeling awful, like you can’t take another step. If you’ve ever heard of “hitting the wall” from long-distance runners such as half-marathoners, marathoners or ultra runners, this is what they’re talking about. However, if you eat the right amount of carbs before the big race, you can prepare your body to have the optimum amount of glycogen already available. Runners’ World, a magazine on running and fitness, wrote an article on carbo-loading the right way so you can get the best results.

My love for Zio Johnos spaghetti comes not only  from its delicious flavor, but all of the memories surrounding it. I love cross country, and I love my cross country team. Several times per year, we have a team dinner with Zio Johnos spaghetti the night before a meet. It was always so rewarding, fun, and relaxing to sit and eat our Zio Johnos together as a team, to know that we were done with another hard week of training, and that we had nothing left to worry about until tomorrow when we would race. Or on other occasions a few friends and I would stop by Zio Johnos to pick up some spaghetti after getting back home from a successful meet. We would celebrate as we crashed at someones house, tired, happy, and no longer hungry. Now that the season is over, eating this spaghetti gives me more than a satisfied stomach but sentimental memories of a successful season, great times with the team, and excitement for next season when I know we will make many more memories and share many more buckets of delicious spaghetti!

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