Archive | April, 2013

Shakeology Review

30 Apr

Note: I am not affiliated with Beachbody in any way.  I am not a coach, nor do I have family or friends that are coaches.  I receive no financial gain from any of my personal thoughts below.  My sample was from a Beachbody coach that is not a family member or friend.  All thoughts are mine alone (well and Adam’s).

Upon returning back to my apartment from vacation I excitedly went to my mailbox hoping to find…a Shakeology sample!  And sure enough once the bags were in from the trunk and I got to my box, I found what I was looking for – my sample had arrived!  Terry G (you can check out his blog here) is a Beachbody coach and recently made a couple posts raving about this Beachbody product.  I had been hearing the buzz for quite some time, and his offer for a free sample was just too good to pass up.  Thanks Terry for providing this sample!

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So, what is Shakeology?

From Beachbody:

Shakeology® is the most delicious, nutrient-dense, superfood-packed protein shake on the planet.

Essentially it is a meal-replacement shake full of tons of super foods and protein.  Instead of a shake that is only Whey protein, it is a shake packed full of nutrients.  This is obvious from the back of the sample – the list of ingredients went on and on!  It touts things like antioxidants, digestive enzymes, phytonutrients, folic acid, biotin, and a whole lot more.  Shakeology is sold as another product of Beachbody – similar to P90X or Insanity.  The tagline for it is: The Healthiest Meal of the Day.

My bias going into it

I’ll be honest:  I’m not a fan of shake meals.  They never satisfy and normally I end up feeling so hungry I make reckless decisions (why yes I think I need to eat this whole box of white cheddar cheez-its).  Back in the young, foolish days when I just wanted to be skinny and health wasn’t really important to me, I did the whole shake meal bit.  But truthfully, I hated every second of it.  Deprivation is a no-go for me.  This theme has stuck with me, and I won’t follow eating plans that make me feel like I’m hurting myself by not eating enough.  So meal shakes don’t have the strongest history with me.  Protein shakes and smoothies however, I do like!  Because Shakeology has the “meal” aspect to it, I was leery to give it a try.  Even if it tastes amazing and is healthy, if it doesn’t fill me up, it’s not going to work for me.

How I liked it

Armed with the sample I headed to the kitchen to mix it up.  I was looking forward to trying the shake and saved it until after a workout.  I wanted to try it two ways.  The first was the powder mixed with water.  I wanted to see what it tasted like on its own without any flavors impacting it. Pure Shakeology, if you will.  Second I wanted to try it following a simple recipe of adding a scoop of protein powder, ice cubes, and peanut butter.

First up… Shakeology alone

IMG_4105I mixed the sample packet with water and blended it in my handy travel blender (an awesome gift from my sister – thanks Jules!).  The powder looked pretty similar to protein powder and dissolved into the water quickly and easily.

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Then I gave it a sip…

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I can’t make this stuff up.  Seriously Adam took this picture of me.  It makes me laugh out loud every time I see it.  Naturally I thought you all might enjoy it.

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It. Was. DELICIOUS.  I mean knock your socks off good.  (Hence the cracked out face above).  I recovered from my shock in order to get this posed approval shot.  But seriously – I was stunned.  It was divine.  Smooth, chocolatey, and legitimately yummy!  Wasn’t this supposed to be health food??

Next up: Shakeology recipe.

After we both tried Shakeology with just water, we mixed up our recipe.  It called for a scoop of chocolate whey protein, ice cubes, and a spoonful of peanut butter.  This puts the shake at about 500 calories – more in the ‘meal replacement’ category.  I could see something like this for breakfast post work-out.  With all the ingredients added (super simple – just the way I like it!), Adam mixed it all up.

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Look at those mad mixing skills.  Such expertise.

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And there’s the sip…wait for it, wait for it…

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BAM!  He loved it.  His reaction was a little over the top I thought.  Someone is feeling a little dramatic.

But then I gave it a try.  Oh Mylanta.  Seriously it was a milkshake.  I wish I could say I was exaggerating.  It was like a chocolate peanut butter milkshake.  I kept sipping it again trying to see if the taste would change or if there would be an after taste.  Or maybe I was just imagining the flavor?  But no – every single sip was a delightful treat.  I ended up drinking the whole thing…not the best idea after a nighttime workout (yeah, I had some difficulty getting up for day 1 post-vacation).  But it was absolutely, fantastically delicious.  A total shock.  Adam even said immediately after trying it…”so I think we should get this.”  Mr. “I don’t really have any interest in Shakeology” himself!

Okay it tastes great, what more?

After drinking the shake I knew two things:

  1. It’s healthy for you.  The stats are really terrific.
  2. It tastes amazing.

An hour or two after drinking the shake I noticed my 3rd revelation: it’s filling.  I went to bed maybe 1 -2 hours after drinking the shake and I actually had difficulty falling asleep because I was so full.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I don’t think I’ve experienced that “full” feeling at any point during P90X (except maybe this past week on vacation ;)).  Eventually I fell asleep, but when I woke up I was still full!  And even this morning I wasn’t starving for my mid-morning snack.  Now before I start praising it as a miracle, I’ll temper that with saying I did eat the shake at night – kind of a weird time to drink a meal shake.  I’m not used to eating at night and it’s totally possible that sort of messed me up.  I would need to try it a few more times to really confirm how long the fullness lasts if I have it for breakfast.  But even with all those stipulations, I feel it is filling enough that I wouldn’t have any qualms using it as a meal.

Now what’s the catch?

Well… you know it can’t be too good to be true.  There is a catch.  It is crazy expensive.  But I suppose you get what you pay for, right??  For a one month supply it comes in around 140 a month (one shake per day).  Probably around a 6 dollar breakfast (if you include the protein and peanut butter).  Put that way, it may not seem so crazy expensive. The argument is “that’s cheaper than a bagel and coffee at Starbucks” or any other on-the-go breakfast.  But for me that argument doesn’t really work – I never eat breakfast out and don’t have a regular Starbucks habit.  So this would be a big change financially for me.  At the end of the day, I just need to decide if it’s worth the investment.  Really that’s what Shakeology is: an investment.

Right after our first sips Adam and I flew to our computers to crunch some numbers and look at the budget.  For two people it would be around 300 bucks a month for this breakfast (our mixed up shake).  Yikes.  I felt all my excitement go out the window.  But then we started brainstorming. What if we only had it every other day or a few times a week?  Surely we’d still see health benefits and could stretch our dollars a bit more.  Or – what if we just try it for a month and see how we really like it on a daily basis?  Or what if we cut costs throughout the month in other ways?  The ideas were flying around, and in the end I think we decided this is something definitely worth trying to fit into our lives and budgets…specifically what that looks like remains to be seen.  I don’t think we’re ready to take the plunge quite yet financially (See Costa Rican vacation post below ;)).  But I’m thinking of beginning to use it when Adam moves to Nashville.  Although we have separate apartments, we share our grocery bills.  When we started P90X, we figured it would be easier to just do all of our meals and food together.  Once he moves I’ll be back to paying for my own groceries, and I tend to eat a little less – so maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to find a way to have Shakeology.

To sum it up

Shakeology is a tasty, healthy, and filling meal replacement (or protein shake enhancer).  It’s delicious and has plenty of truly nutritious ingredients.  However, it’s expensive and an investment to consider before making the commitment.  Would I recommend it?  At this point I’d say at the very least try it and make your own decision.  Once I buy the month supply, I’ll be sure to share my thoughts after more regular use.

-Kelly

 

Edit: Check out my updated thoughts on using Shakeology!

 

Have you used Shakeology?  Have you heard the hype?

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2013 Fitness Goals

29 Apr

While resting and relaxing on vacation this past week I decided to become a little more concrete with my goals for fitness.  I feel like I’ve already come so far and accomplished so much with P90X and my race training…and I want to keep going!  These ideas have been floating around in my head for a few weeks/months, but I’m finally ready to put them to paper.  Adam and I each made our goals and discussed what we’re hoping to achieve before 2014.  I wanted to keep things very manageable and reasonable – it’s far better to exceed than not reach a goal.  I’m a little late for January, but without further ado, my fitness goals:

  1. Finish P90X – successfully become a P90X grad!  Take fit test, pics, and all that jazz.
  2. Complete Insanity – Start May 28
  3. Run a sub 2-hour half marathon
  4. Run 3 half marathons
  5. Complete another round of P90X

I’m really excited to have a “next step” once I finish P90X and my upcoming half-marathons: Insanity!  This is another at-home fitness program from Beachbody (the same maker as P90X).  The program is similar in intensity as P90X (more of a cardio focus though), but a little less time commitment (under an hour) and only 2 months vs. 3.  The biggest complication will be losing my training partner.  With Adam moving to Nashville, I will have to forge on alone in my home workouts like Insanity or P90X.  It will be a challenge, but I’ve had many weeks to get used to the idea.  I’m hoping by the time comes I’ll be ready and mentally prepared to make the journey ‘alone.’  I can always share the updates here! :)

I’ve also really enjoyed combining strength training and running so I know I want to continue with that. It’s actually really exciting to see how far I can push myself physically.  For a while I had gotten used to being out of shape and sort of accepted it as ‘the new norm.’  I’m thrilled to see a life of activity and fitness as my normal – I want to see what I’m capable of accomplishing.  Before starting this journey there were so many things I didn’t really think of as possible – pull-ups, a million push-ups, running miles in the 7’s again.  Hold onto your hats kids, let’s see where this thing goes!

This is just plain hilarious.

Back to Reality!

28 Apr

Le sigh.  Vacation is over and back to reality.  Adam and I just got back from an awesome week in Costa Rica.  I lived in San Jose for a year after I graduated from college and hadn’t been back since!  It was pretty awesome to return after several years away – it felt like not much time had passed at all.  We spent part of the time visiting my old friends, another part doing touristy things like zip lining and visiting volcanoes, and finished up the trip with a few days at the beach relaxing.  The trip was pretty full, but also allowed for some nice relaxation – a perfect mix.  We rented a car and drove to my favorite parts of the country.  This was Adam’s first time in CR, and I wanted to give him a nice overall tour and flavor of the place I called home.

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Time at the beach: perfection!

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On one of our daily walks.

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Breakfast at our beach apartment. (oops.. yep that’s some diet coke there!)

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One of my favorite spots in Costa Rica: Arenal Volcano!

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Relaxing in the thermal waters near Arenal Volcano.

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This. was. amazing.

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Dinner, drinks, and lounging in volcano-heated thermal pools all evening? Yes please!

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We made it! A rewarding climb down to La Fortuna waterfall. We jumped in after this picture.

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Ziplining like a real tourist!

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Visiting with old friends – what a wonderful trip!

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Mango! It was a culinary treat to eat all my old favorites again.

During the trip we *tried* to not totally fall off our P90X/half-marathon training plan…and I can say that we sort of succeeded.  Before departing we knew we weren’t going to do our normal P90X workouts (this had already been decided for weeks), but we wanted to be somewhat active (my half-marathon being the main motivator).  We ended up doing only one run (fail) but walked 3 or 4 miles everyday (win!) and even did a pretty exhausting hike to a waterfall (double win).  Although we didn’t do our normal workouts or training we still managed to stay active, which was great.  On the nutrition front we were so-so as well.  We didn’t follow our post-it note eating habit while away and weren’t super strict with our nutrition.  The two things I missed most when I moved back to the States from Costa Rica: 1. the people 2. the food!!  So I was sure to sample all of my favorite cuisine that I have missed so much.  I really didn’t want to limit this as some of this food I’ve been dreaming about eating for years!  Some cuisine (fresh tropical fruit) healthier than others (rice, beans, Costa Rican chocolates and pastries).  During our last couple days we stayed at an apartment with a kitchen, so we got more on track by making our own food – this helped out considerably.  We had the most difficulty during our first few days in San Jose when spending time with my friends.  A lot of our social gatherings focused on food at some point and we didn’t want to be rude :)  We both feel that we did a relatively good job and didn’t cause toooo much damage.

As with most vacations: it is great to go, but it’s nice to be back.  The month of May brings lots and lots of fun with 2 half-marathons for me, Adam’s graduation from med school, a friend’s wedding, and my birthday!  Our vacation was the perfect kick-start to an exciting next few weeks.  The first May milestone: just 6 days until the mini-marathon – yikes!  It’s really hard to believe it’s almost here.  Let the countdown begin!

Happy to be back and enjoy the vacation pics!

-Kelly

Back-to-Back Half Marathons!

18 Apr

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In the spirit of keeping on keeping on, I signed up for another half marathon!  I’ve been hemming and hawing about it for a few weeks now, but I just decided to go for it this week.

The awesome:

  • It’s near me.  Close races are always convenient.
  • It’s on the smaller side, which will be fun after doing the largest half marathon in the country.
  • It’s around a reservoir; I’m guessing lovely views!
  • No pressure – the mini will be done…this one is for fun.

The con:

  • And this one I’m pretty worried about: it’s only 2 weeks after my other half.

I know, I know…all you marathoners out there are thinking ‘I do that mileage in my sleep.’  Well this marathoner is thinking – woah I really don’t want to hurt myself.  I’ve been feeling pretty strong lately (thanks P90X!), but I don’t like to push my luck.  I think 2 weeks is just a week or two shy of what I’d feel comfortable with to recover fully, but I think it’s doable.  I am going to going to do the second half-marathon as a chance to do something fun and relax – I’m not expecting any PR.

I’ve been thrilled with my running lately, and why not seize the opportunity to do another race?  With Adam moving to Nashville in June, I won’t have many chances left to have my #1 fan in tow (though my mom might object to that title ;)).  Summers are always crazy busy for weekends and there are usually far less race opportunities (at least close ones).  In the fall, there are 3 or 4 all right back to back so this will be a good time to see how many I should sign up for then.  I’m also hoping that knowing I have another race soon will keep my anxiety low on race day for the Mini.  It’s not “hey this is your one and only chance to do well,” so I’m guessing this will keep me more calm and allow me to set appropriate expectations for myself.

The Mini is almost here!!

Just a little over 2 weeks until the mini-marathon, and I am beyond excited.  I got my race confirmation in the mail yesterday and my corral placement.  It makes it seem that much more real.  I am up really close in corral D – which seems like potentially an error (for real people – I’m not that fast, come on!).  Though I was in E last year.  Moving on up ;)  I can’t believe my chance at a rematch is almost here.  I’m feeling good about going into it confident and prepared.  Last year’s mini was a pseudo-disaster…more on that another time.  Let’s just say I’m looking forward to kicking booty!

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Signing off for a bit…

And last but not least, Adam and I are off to a real vacation tomorrow!  We are thrilled for a little R&R and time away.  We’re going to work hard to stay accountable to enjoy our vacation but not completely and totally fall off the P90X (healthy living) bandwagon.  We’ll just do our best!  We are packing some snacks just in case we can’t find anything healthy – that should help…right?  Our goals also include getting in 2 short runs and a couple rounds of ab ripper – though we are postponing P90X for our vacation (a calculated decision based on where vacation and the mini fell).  Things will be quiet for the next bit – see you when I get back!

-Kelly

Have you run any races back to back?  What are your tips for a speedy recovery?

Praying for Boston

16 Apr

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There really are no words, so I won’t say much.  With most tragedies I try to shut out the media.  Normally the perpetrator wants the media to pick it up – he wants to be all over the news.  And someone who chose the Boston – with a million cameras already rolling, clearly wanted a public display of violence.  Very public.  I don’t want this person to get what they want by having it covered to the nth degree…but man alive: I just can’t stop reading about it.  On Runner’s World.  On CNN.  Anywhere.  It’s just so relate-able.  I can just imagine it so vividly.  I imagine my family waiting and spectating at my races and I just feel hollow.  Amid all the stories of heartbreak, there are some incredible ones of helpful and good souls.  Those are always uplifting at times like this.  It’s a beautiful thing to see the outpouring of support from strangers to strangers.  It’s incredibly unifying and a reminder that not all are bad, not all are destructive.

Boston has been a dream of mine (and thousands of others) for many years, and for me, that dream still exists.  I almost feel more resilient.  I don’t want to give this madman the satisfaction of ruining something so celebratory and truly magical.  Though I have to admit, with my big race coming up I do have fear for my spectators (it’s the largest half-marathon in the country and 7th largest running event).  I almost don’t want them to come.  But then again – that’s letting the bad win.  We shouldn’t have to live our lives in fear.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families and victims.  Let’s run for Boston.

-Kelly

P90X: Overcoming Nutritional Speed Bumps

15 Apr

Note: This post was written earlier today before the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.  I’m deeply and incredibly saddened by the event – it’s unbelievable.  I decided to post this anyways to show the incredible importance of  this race to Marathoners – it is any (and every?) marathoners’ goal to one day race Boston.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and all the families affected.  

Happy Monday!  And most importantly – Happy Boston Marathon!  Though I sadly didn’t run it this morning, I did spectate for a bit (via my computer).  Mark my words: someday I will be there!  Yes, I do realize my Marathon PR is 4:11:59 (I need a 3:35:00 – for you non-marathoners, that’s a pretty insane difference).  Yes, I realize I haven’t run a marathon since returning to running from my ankle cast (in 2009).  Yes, I realize I need to have my average pace somewhere in the 7:45-8 min/mile for 26 miles (right now I’m about 9 min/mile).  But – someday it will happen!  I might have to wait until I’m 50 or 60, but I’m very patient :) The time will pass anyways so I might as well have a goal.

Instead of spending my weekend in Boston, I had a great trip to Atlanta for bridesmaid dress shopping.  It was a wonderful time, and we successfully found a dress!  I also had a fantastic little foray into non-P90X eating.  Yep, it happened.  I really did a poor job of following the nutrition guide this weekend.   I have experienced little cheats while on P90X, but this weekend wasn’t the greatest.  I enjoyed a delicious pizza feast at Fellini’s (if you’re ever in ATL – it’s divine!) and just had to help out with cupcake testing for my brother’s upcoming nuptials.  I also let myself enjoy some Easter candy (when I say some – I mean quite a bit more than I should’ve… candy is my Achilles heel).  Instead of just having a little bit of these treats,  I went overboard and had a ‘sugar hangover’ yesterday and a little bit this morning.  It’s incredible how much my eating affects me now that I’m on a stricter nutrition plan.

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We said yes to the dress…at a different store.

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Talk about legitimate thin-crust Italian pizza!

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Post-dress hunting celebration.

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Sampling wedding cake cupcakes!

Yesterday as I traveled back home I was pretty disappointed in myself.  I really worked on encouraging positive thoughts about the weekend and my eating.  As a type A (and I guess just a woman) – I tend to beat myself up.  I think it’s pretty common, but I’ve also found that when I really beat myself up, I’m more likely to continue the behavior that I beat myself up about in the first place!  It’s a vicious cycle.  On the way home I instead tried to focus on the upcoming week and how I would get back on track.  I also thought a lot about where I started and how far I have come – and that it’s okay to splurge a little sometimes.  What I did wasn’t bad or terrible. It’s not something I want to do often, but beating myself up about this weekend would not bring about anything positive.   When I started P90X I did it for two main reasons:

  1. Ego: I wanted to lose weight.  I had gained a couple extra pounds and hey, it would be nice to be on the skinnier side!
  2. Health: I truly wanted to start living and breathing a healthy lifestyle.  Not just a fad diet or short program.

I focused on reason number 2 to encourage myself about my ‘failure’ of a weekend. The reality is that healthy eating is now a part of my life – it’s a habit.  And it’s a habit I want to continue for the rest of my life.  When you start throwing around phrases like “rest of your life,” it takes on a different meaning than just 90 days of a “diet.” Just like everything else in my life, I should expect to make mistakes or have road bumps.  It’s what you do after the mistake or road bump that makes all the difference.  I want to get up, dust myself off, and continue eating healthily and get right back on my healthy-living bike.  Right away- there’s no point in waiting!  When I was younger and the focus was “I want to be skinny,” I’d try diets. If I ate something unhealthy in the morning, I’d throw my whole day away and start the next morning.  It’s this type of behavior I want to get away from.  It’s great to have treats and enjoy food (and life!), I just need to move on quickly from my mistake and not let it drag everything down.  I’ve chosen to view this weekend as simply a small speed bump on my road to healthy eating.  It’s not something that is going to derail me.  It’s not something that will stop me.  And it’s certainly not something worth any energy fretting or worrying about.

These are my top tips for moving past nutritional speed bumps:

  • Think about why you started your journey.  Often this reenergizes me and renews my focus.  Today I felt very empowered while packing my breakfast and lunch knowing that I wanted to continue to fuel my body with nutrients and  the right stuff.
  • Remember how far you’ve come!  I thought about my inches and pounds lost – but more important how fit and healthy I feel now!  I want to continue to feel this way and eating is a huge component.  All the strides I’ve made encourage me to feel proud overall, even if I didn’t have the proudest moments this weekend.
  • Fall back on your habits.  This morning it was very easy to fall right back into eating well because of the habits I have formed.  Thanks to our chopping parties and healthy food in the fridge I could jump back on the healthy bus without a lot of stress or effort.  It was second-nature.
  • Drink lots of water and put a strong focus on getting back on track.  Today I have more water than usual allotted on my post-it note.  Additionally I’m choosing very nutrient dense choices.  For example both whole-wheat bagels and sweet potatoes are on the P90X guide, but sweet potatoes aren’t processed and will end up making me feel better.  I’ll likely keep this intense focus up for 2 or 3 days just so I feel back on track.
  • Remember that one bad meal or one bad weekend of eating doesn’t ruin your plans for a healthy life.  This is but a blip on the radar.  Putting it in that perspective was helpful.  My goal after P90X is the 90% rule.  90% of the time I want to eat very healthfully – but life happens and I want to feel free to enjoy treats on special occasions.  This weekend was my 10%!
  • Get motivated!  Instead of focusing on what a bad job I did – I focused on how great I could become.  I thought a lot about my upcoming goals nutritionally and from a fitness perspective and I felt a lot better about my choices this weekend.
  • Be positive.  Letting me beat myself up would’ve probably led to more stress-induced bad eating-choices.  Instead I accepted my choices and felt good and positive about the future.  Filling my head with positive thoughts went a long way!

Today I’m feeling much better and reenergized about my healthy lifestyle.  All this positive self-talk worked itself into a great 3 mile run at lunch today with an 8:14 pace (or it could’ve been thoughts of Boston)!  I’m back on track and feeling good. I found these two graphics on Pinterest and they sum up my attitude today!  Except maybe replace fat/skinny with unhealthy/healthy.  I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other on my quest to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Happy Monday!

-Kelly

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How do you overcome speed bumps nutritionally?  What do you do to get motivated again after falling off the healthy bus?

Successful 12-miler!

12 Apr

Well I’m pleased to report I had a great run this morning!  Yes, you’re reading that correctly, this morning.  This Friday morning…before work.  Okay so it was a little insane, but what’s a busy gal to do?  I had to squeeze it in some time!  My pace was on the more conservative side with an average around 9:20/9:25.  I stopped a few times and I know I’ve got some inaccuracies in my tracker so I’m not 100% certain, but that’s okay by me.  The weather was cold, at least cold for this week (we hit the 70s a couple days ago)!  My weather app said it would be 39 degrees…but it was a mighty cold 39 degrees.  It was consistently very windy, and I was glad I opted for gloves and ear warmers to shield me a bit.

I ended up choosing the ludicrous time of  Friday morning for my long run because I’m headed out of town this weekend.  I’m going bridesmaid dress shopping with my sister and future sister-in-law in Atlanta!  I’m very excited for the trip, but it also presented some logistical challenges.  A month or so ago I went to Atlanta and ended up doing my long run in a great park.  The difference?  That run was 5 miles, this one was 12.  I didn’t want to be sore and paranoid about hydration on a day dedicated to helping out my soon-to-be sister-in-law.  Nothing says ‘this day is about you’ like “We need to stop and get more water…I need to stretch more…I can’t walk that far…I’m tired.”  Do you see all the I’s in that?  Running this morning will allow me to relax and go with the flow as far as plans for the weekend.  I also did a triple day this week (running at lunch and P90X videos in the morning and evening) to help front load a little bit.  It will be great to not have to think about things!  I should get home early enough Sunday to squeeze in my last  P90X workout.

All the planning and thoughts about the timing of my long run are wonderful and make some sense – but wow when my alarm went off at 5:20, it seemed like just about the stupidest idea in the world.  I kept trying to think of another time I could make it work.  After a couple minutes of letting myself come to the conclusion I needed to run (and possibly dozing back to sleep during that time?) the snooze alarm went off and I went to work getting ready to head out.  In training for the Mini-Marathon, I have focused on keeping all my long runs in the morning.  I want to simulate a race run as much as possible.  In previous training periods I did all my long runs (or any run) in the evening or afternoon, and had quite a shock race day.  This morning I felt like I really was getting my routine down.  I had everything laid out the night before so could just go on auto pilot.  After eating my English muffin and filling up the bottle for my fuel belt, I was out the door!

And yikes, when I turned the corner it was windy.  Cold, I’m-gonna-be-happy-when-this-is-over windy.  Thankfully, the first few miles passed pretty quickly, and happily, I experienced no knee issues.  I noticed my miles were coming in a bit on the slower side: in the 9:10s-9:30s.  I haven’t seen those numbers in a while so it was a bit disheartening, but I reminded myself the goal was just to get the mileage in!  Slow and steady wins the race.

On this particular run, I was excited to try something new (always smart to do it before race day).  Normally I use Gu gels, but I had just stopped by the running store and picked up some chews to try.  Generally when you’re running over an hour it’s important to refuel with something to give your body some carbs and energy it needs.  I try to eat something every 40 minutes if I’m running over an hour.  My chews were pink lemonade flavored and I couldn’t wait until mile 4 to give them a try.  Shocker: I didn’t like them!  Now don’t get me wrong – I loved the taste.  What a great change from Gus (I sort of want them just as a non-running snack)!  But there was something about the act of chewing while running that I found difficult.   Pathetic right?  I did end up finishing the bag over the course of the run.  I could certainly handle them, but it was an important discovery that this won’t be my favorite form of refueling.  I’ll stick to my Gus for now.

Yummy! But… discovered it’s a challenge for me to chew and run.

The rest of the run was pretty uneventful.  Kind of what you’d expect from a dark, cold, early, long, pre-work run.  Wow when I put it that way – the run was actually fantastic given all those modifiers!  Throughout the run I wasn’t really pushing for speed.  I wasn’t slacking, but it was certainly on the slow and steady track.  It was nice to have a relaxing long run.  It was quite a bit windier near the river, which was a good challenge too.

Normally these bridges are gorgeous, but holy windy today!

When I got home I realized my average pace was officially on the slower side (didn’t I just do 10 miles at an 8:14 pace last week??).  Thankfully Adam was there to remind me “wasn’t your goal between 9 and 9:30?”  Hmm… I guess I had forgotten that.  I mean come on – it was early, I was barely functioning, let alone remembering what goal I had set earlier in the week!  Adam suggested that my body just knew and remembered what my goal was :)  I stretched as much as I could and got ready for work.  I was very fortunate to have Adam there after the run.  He packed my breakfast/lunch/dinner – what a doll.  That was a huge help in getting me out the door and to work on time.  Maybe it’s a good thing he isn’t doing this race!

After a bit of reflection about my run – I’m really feeling quite pleased with it!  It was tough to do it this morning, but I still managed to complete it.  AND – complete it with little to no pain.  I’ll call that a win-win.  I saw this picture on Pinterest this morning and laughed – an accurate summary of my morning!

Probably true for this morning!

Now onto the weekend and wedding details in Atlanta!  A great start to a great weekend for sure.

Happy Friday, and have an awesome weekend!

-Kelly

P90X Nutrition: Chopping Parties!

10 Apr

One of the biggest success factors with completing the P90X nutrition guide (or really any form of healthy eating) is planning ahead. Adam and I have found this vital in our P90X journey, and I highly, highly doubt we would’ve been as successful if we didn’t figure out our food ahead of time.  Prior to starting P90X I had attempted to plan ahead with healthy food.  This translated to plenty of 100 calorie packs, plenty of fruit (and some vegetables), and trying to keep my fridge stocked.  A couple things I noticed when using this version of planning (i.e. going to the grocery store enough to have a decently stocked fridge):

  •  I ate way too much processed food.  Sure I had some fresh stuff in my fridge, but that ‘fresh stuff’ required so much effort.  Sometimes when I get home from work I just want to turn my brain off and would often choose cheese and crackers over washing and cutting some fresh veggies.  And by sometimes picking the effortless option, I mean every single time I would pick it.
  • I had no idea how much I was eating.  Sure I was choosing to eat grapes, strawberries, or low fat cheese…but just how much?  Absolutely no clue.  Not exactly a balanced diet if you have no idea how much of things you’re eating.  Since getting a food scale, I’ve been amazed at actual serving sizes!
  • A lot of food went to waste.  “Oh a big bag of spinach – that will be perfect this week!”  The amount of times I thought this and then threw said bag of spinach in the trash after not eating it was numerous.  It’s amazing how easy it is for things to get trapped behind other things in the fridge.  Sometimes you just forget what you have.  Before planning and portioning my food I wasted so much.  Not okay.

Solution: Chopping Parties

Adam and I have combatted a lot of these problems with what we have lovingly coined “Chopping Parties.”  Essentially these ‘parties’ consist of washing, portioning, planning, and yes, chopping, all of our fruit, veggies, nuts, cheese, and some meats.  Typically these chopping parties take place either the day we make a big grocery run or the day after, depending on our schedules.  Taking the time on a Saturday or Sunday (or sometimes Monday) to put all of our food into serving sizes means that the rest of the week is just grab and go.  Yes – it’s pretty much that simple.  I can’t tell you how much this has made my life easier.  Now that I have chopping parties I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to my old ways (at least I hope I don’t)!

Before we started portioning everything the idea of packing my lunch every day seemed crazy.  Sure I could throw something together most days, but having a nutritionally sound lunch daily packed by moi?  Turns out it wasn’t as hard as I imagined.  Planning ahead has greatly reduced our stress with following the nutrition guide and increased our success of sticking with it.

The Steps and Tips to a Successful Chopping Party!

  1. Take inventory and make a list.
    • Go through the fridge, pantry, and freezer to see what you already have and what you need.  If you’re just starting out on the road to healthy eating with P90X, consult the nutrition guide.  There’s a great list of food per phase that’s an awesome starting point.  It is crucial to have a plan before going into the grocery store.  This habit alone has really changed the way I look at grocery shopping and the time spent there.  Now it isn’t a place to look (okay meander) for food I might want, it is a place to get things I know I need.  Big difference.  Here’s a typical list for us:

      grocery

      Typical list – split between Costco and grocery

  2. Go to the store!
    • With the list in hand, we head to the store to start collecting and crossing things off.  Since starting P90X we actually joined Costco, so our trips involve picking up big items in bulk (fruit, meat, nuts, veggies) and right afterwards running to a smaller grocery store for things we don’t need 20 lbs of at a time. For us, Costco has been a big time saver.  We typically go twice a month and the grocery store once a week.  When we first started shopping this way our runs took a bit of time, but now that this is our new normal, we split up and can get through things very quickly.
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      My new favorite wonderland!

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      Cart full of healthy goodness.

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      Adam loves Costco!

  3. Plan the chopping party.
    • Whenever possible we like to have a chopping party right after we shop.  The main reason is to get it out of the way and done.  Another reason is that it ensures all 20lbs of fresh foods get into more air tight containers sooner.  We’ve bought fruit before and had it go bad in just a day or two due to exposure to air.  Putting things in tupperware really seems to increase the longevity of our food.  This past weekend, we chopped the day after shopping and it worked out just great.  It’s really important to pick a specific time the party will happen because it’s soooo easy to say “I already have the food – we can chop later” and pretty soon food starts going bad, and you’re not eating it.  You might think the hard part is over once you’re done shopping, but it’s crucial to remember that portioning/chopping is where the money is at!  Must chop after shopping!
  4. Gather the tools.
    • Before we begin chopping we collect the following:
      • Everything we want to chop or portion.  The fruit from the shelf, nuts from the pantry, turkey slices from the deli drawer in the fridge.
      • Food scale.  This little guy was a game changer and a big part of our chopping parties.  See more thoughts on food scales here.
      • Knives, cutting boards, bowls
      • Tupperware, ziploc baggies, containers
      • Computer with TV episode ready to play

        table

        All the tools and supplies ready.

  5. Push play and get chopping!
    • Adam and I use our chopping parties as a way to catch up on TV episodes.  We don’t watch much TV (I don’t have cable), so we turn chopping parties into something fun for us.  While we slice and dice we relax and watch TV.  The whole process is oddly calming.  Sometimes we’ve used the parties as a chance to chat and catch up if we’ve had a busy week and we’ve even had to do parties alone (gasp!).  I’ve always used solo chop parties to either watch TV or zone out and listen to music.  Sometimes it is nice to be alone with your thoughts.

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      I love chopping parties!

  6. Measure, chop, and weigh.
    • The whole point of the party is to end up with individualized portions of food to facilitate easy grab and go lunch/dinner making.  I use a nutrition database online to look up calories/grams to make sure my servings are correct.  These are the typical things we create:
      • 1 serving size of raw carrots/sweet peas mix (50 calories worth – around 150 g)
      • 1 serving size of berries (blackberries, strawberries, blueberries etc).  I normally have different mixes pre-made for variety – straw/blue or just black alone etc. (100 calories worth – each berry is different..somewhere between 150-300 g)
      • 1 serving size of turkey or chicken.  Sandwich making is super easy now.  We use the Boar’s Head blazing buffalo chicken from the deli and it’s amazing! (100 calories worth – around 3 oz.)
      • 1 serving size of raw almonds (100 calories worth – around 16-17 almonds)
      • 1 serving size of peppers (50 calories worth – a whole pepper!)
      • 1 serving size of arugula or spinach (just dump it out and instant salad!)
      • 1 serving size of sliced cheese (depends on the cheese – but 120 calories worth)
  7. Put everything away and marvel at your masterpiece.  After we’re done chopping we usually feel really accomplished, but also thrilled we don’t have to do much meal prep the rest of the week.  It’s a very liberating feeling.  It also takes my fridge from this:
    fridge

    Before: lots of food but not easy to grab and go.

    fruit

    After: organized and ready for the week!

To Sum it Up

Chopping parties take time, effort, and planning – no denying that.  But front loading the work involved with healthy eating means that we have to be intense about it for just a couple hours a week.  It makes it so easy to say yes to that healthy dinner of a turkey sandwich and fruit instead of my easy white-cheddar-cheese-it-dinners (yes, those used to happen…regularly).

Happy chopping!

-Kelly

How do you plan for healthy eating?  How do you save yourself time while managing a balanced diet?

Race Recap: I Run This Town 15K!

7 Apr

Hooray!  I completed the race!  Friday night I feared the worst with two bags of ice strapped to my legs.  Lately my knees have been causing all sorts of trouble, but I’m thrilled to report that yesterday they cooperated.  I had a very successful run and felt pretty strong throughout.

The “I Run This Town 15K” is a part of the training series for the mini-marathon I’m doing May 4th.  It is a fantastically organized series, and I have enjoyed both the 10K and 15K events immensely.  They have helped me believe in myself, and I know I will have more confidence going into my half-marathon.

Saturday morning I woke up excited, but also a bit anxious to see what was going to be possible with my knees.  I started my half bagel in the toaster and went to the bathroom to get ready.  I ended up cutting it pretty close on timing.  Because I live so near to the start line I kept thinking “oh I live so close, I’m fine.”  My bagel was pretty much the last thing I did on the way out the door.  Yeah – rookie mistake.  I only had a bit of stomach jostling during the race, so I lucked out.

I also had a tough time deciding exactly what to wear.  It was in the low 40s but cloudy, and I had my outfit picked out – but gloves?  or no gloves?  hat?  just an ear warmer?  I ended up going with light gloves, a long sleeved cotton shirt, and shorts.  With everything settled I headed out the door.  I needed to complete 10 miles so I ran the mile to the start line to get my extra mileage. The closer I got to the start, the more I noticed I didn’t see anyone for the race.  No bibs, no runners, no people stretching with a warm-up jog around the canal.  For the 10K, runners were everywhere, so my nerves kicked up that I might be missing the start!  I turned the corner and to my relief things hadn’t started yet – everyone was just already in line.  After making my way up to the start I checked my watch- 7:59.  For a 8:00 am race.  A whole minute to spare.  I was golden.

The training series races don’t have corrals, so the beginning is sort of hectic.  It can be frustrating to have walkers and very slow runners right up at the front.  But then again – I could be slow to the person behind me, so it’s all relative.  I tried to pick somewhere near the front, but not too far up.  I settled upon a spot and awaited the gun.

We were soon off and the first few miles felt great on my knees.  In fact, I was quite shocked at how little I felt any tweaking or issues of any kind.  The temperature was pleasant enough, but quite windy and overcast.  There were points that I was wishing I had pants…so the gloves were a great choice.  Mile 1 clocked in at 8:22.  I reminded myself to pull back.  My goal was between 8:30-9:00.  After all, this was a training run and I’m already dealing with injuries.  Mile 2: 8:26… that’s better.  I continued to feel strong though and my pace remained in the low 8:20s.

My normal race strategy is to control my start and leave juice for the end.  Therefore, during the first few miles I give myself a couple of milestones to keep from pushing it too early.  I had until mile 7 to control my pace and keep consistent.  At that point I could begin to push a bit more (if my knees felt great).  Then, at mile 8 I could really start going to town if I so desired.  This strategy kept me excited and motivated for the last few miles, but also in control of the adrenaline and desire to run.

During this race I had a funny moment that really reminded me of my age and experiences with injuries.  One of my favorite mantras when I did full marathons was  “Pain is only temporary, pride is forever.”  I would often chant this repeatedly in my head along with several other mantras.  I picked up the tactic from a marathoning book and always really enjoyed it.  I hadn’t done it in awhile and started saying to myself, pain is only temporary, pride is eternal.

Pain is only temporary, pride is forever. 

Well really Kelly – that’s a lie.  If you injure yourself good enough, you could really have that injury plague you forever.  So maybe let’s keep away from the pain part and just run the best you can.  

After my little inner monologue I laughed to myself.  Pride was no longer a good enough incentive!  I started thinking about the other half of my bagel and Adam at the finish line and that seemed to work too :)

When mile 8 hit I couldn’t believe it – I still felt strong!  I had a lot of juice in the tank and my knees were giving me no issues.  I still tried to control my pace as I knew I was already ahead of my goal of 8:30-9:00.  Throughout the race I used one Gu and split it among three different aid stations.  This strategy seemed to prevent the stomach sloshing/cramping I had during the 10K.  I’ll probably use this strategy for my half.

Rounding the corner, I had the finish in sight!  I was soo excited to see Adam (and my half bagel of course).  I wanted to yell and shout at him “Look!!  Can you believe the time?  Can you believe my knees!”  I was still in such shock, I wanted to share in my excitement.  Adam had instructed me to remove my headphones when I neared the end, as last time I was oblivious to them cheering for me.  I was feeling well enough to keep my eyes peeled for him.  I kept looking and he was nowhere to be found.  The finish line was small so I knew he wasn’t there.  Was it possible that I beat him to the end??  I crossed with a smile on my face – quite pleased with how I was feeling: not dead!  In fact, quite strong.  I was very happy to be done, and it was awesome knowing I could’ve cranked out a few more miles.

I collected my banana and water, still in disbelief Adam wasn’t in sight.  He’s never late!  I texted him, both delighted I was early enough to beat him (I couldn’t wait to hear his surprise), and irritated that he didn’t see me cross the finish!  I didn’t have to wait long as I saw him immediately after leaving the finish line area.  His face said it all: disbelief, happiness, surprise, pride!  It was so great to have him there and share in the excitement that not only did my knees not fall apart, I had a great run!

IMG_3636

Better late than never!

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I did get something – a bag, sweet!

After stretching a bit we walked home, a relief to my knees (which of course now started cramping up and screaming).  My knees weren’t all that happy with me but I iced, stretched, and stretched some more when I got home and soon felt better.

The results were soon posted and I found out my average pace was 8:14 with a total time of 1:16:45.  Nothing short of amazing!  I also placed 10th in my division out of 152 – another fun bonus.  2013 is the year of sub 9 races…something very new and thrilling to me.  I really attribute a large bit of this change to P90X.  I can’t wait to see what May 4th will bring – fingers crossed for a sub 2-hour half!

Adam and I had some celebratory Pei Wei asian for lunch (don’t worry – we consulted their nutrition guide and didn’t totally blow the P90X plan)  and had a great rest of our Saturday!  I just keep thinking back to my race and it makes me smile every time!

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Deliciousness!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

-Kelly

Have you ever totally surprised yourself in a race?  

15K In the Morning!

5 Apr

Tomorrow’s the day!  The day I hope I can just cross the finish line! :)  The I Run This Town 15K is a part of the mini-marathon training series and takes place tomorrow morning.  I participated in the 10K about a month ago and had an awesome experience.  My pace was fantastic (like unprecedented-for-me fantastic, see my post here) and I felt strong – I was thrilled I had decided to do it.  I picked up my packet today for the 15K distance and I’m ready to go!  However, I have good news and bad news.

IMG_3629

Do I look ready or what?

The Good:

I’m happy to report low to no race anxiety.  That’s fantastic news for me.  Normally before a race I get so nervous that I make my stomach upset and affect my run.  This has happened for the past couple half-marathons (particularly the mini-marathon last year) and I’ve been trying to combat it more lately.  It’s super unpleasant (take my word for it) and takes a lot of the fun out of racing.  I’m happy my stomach isn’t churning tonight!  Unfortunately the low race anxiety is due to the fact my mind knows I won’t be performing in peak non-injured condition.

The Bad:

I have an ice pack on each knee and will be thrilled if I can finish the thing!  Never mind any pace goals!  My knees are back to giving me trouble.  I pulled out of a half in October due to knee pain, and it is back to haunt me again.  I’m doing my best by icing, hydrating, and taking some pre-race advil.  This evening I’m staying in and having a quiet night to better prepare for tomorrow.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed and just hope for the best at the race.  Send me your positive vibes in the morning as I could use all the help I can get!

Happy Friday and enjoy the weekend!

-Kelly

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Yeah, this is a bummer.