Hot, Sweaty, Heavy

Today’s Happy Note: Sometimes a silly little kitchen failure, like the one pictured below, makes me smile!  Needless to say, this batch of oatmeal was ruined.  That is indeed a sea of oatmeal soup.  I smiled!

What was hot, sweaty, and heavy today?  My run, unfortunately!  I woke up at 9 this morning and felt like a sack of bricks.  I took the day off work in the name of packing — yeah, that didn’t happen.  I’m moving tomorrow and have not packed one. single. thing. I haven’t even started my laundry.  For some reason I operate best at night though — I do my best writing, my best cleaning, sometimes even my best yoga, after midnight.  Weird.

So.  I got distracted (happens easily).  Back to the run.  I accomplished nothing all day; my body literally felt like a sloth.  Minus the hairiness part.  But I was damn determined to get out the door.  And you know what? Sometimes getting out the door is an accomplishment in and of itself. I had to bribe myself with the promise of a massage — sometimes I am so lazy it scares me. 😉  But admit it, you have days when you have to bribe yourself to leave the house too.  I know I can’t be the only one.

The run was muy sluggish, but I finished my 8 hilly miles in a little under 90 minutes. I hit up the gym for some much-needed strength training afterwards — I actually crave lifting weights sometimes.  I did almost an hour of arms and abs. It felt great.  And at the end of my epic little workout, you know what?  I felt amazing!  It is so true that you almost never regret a workout, but you almost always regret not doing a workout.

After reading this post on Runner’s Trials, I was inspired to make my own nutrition goals for marathon training!  But first, I want to show you my excellent eats from today — I think this is a pretty good example of what a day like today (8 miles) should look like, ideally, for ME (every body and every runner is different).

Brunch was another avocado-cinnamon-vanilla SIAB, topped with some flax PB, some honey roasted nuts, and a half a TJ’s PB granola bar, crumbled.

I officially declare that I like rice — I used to hate it passionately, probably because my mom always made brown rice when I was little and all the other kids had white rice.  I refused to eat brown rice because I didn’t want to seem any weirder than I already was (I was reallllllyyyy weird).  So, for the last 20 years, I have mostly eschewed rice.  But I really like a nice grainy brown rice.  I ate it with cinnamon, stevia, sunflower seed butter, and TJ’s dark chocolate covered ginger for an amazing afternoon snack.

More snackage.  I had about twice that much chocolate.

Romaine, carrots, peppers, broccoli, avocado, two apple chicken sausages, and TJ’s spicy peanut vinaigrette.  I love giant salads for dinner, but I can never have one and then be satisfied for the rest of the evening.  An hour or two later, I need a substantial dessert.  Enter….

This was a bowl of 2% Greek yogurt, the other half of the granola bar from this morning, a small spoonful (teaspoon?) of sunflower seed butter, and chocolate trail mix, which I had a few too many handfuls of while preparing this.  In my defense, I was frustrated because of the microwave oatmeal disaster, which had just occurred. 🙂

That’s everything, minus two werther’s candies and the unpictured handfuls of trail mix.  I sometimes eat an extra spoonful or two of nut butter when preparing anything that involves nut butter (okay, so that’s pretty much everything I eat…) but I honestly can’t remember if I had any extra today.

Marathon Training Nutrition Goals

1. Four to six smaller meals per day. Time and time again I come back to this way of eating because it works for me.  I would much rather eat every three or four hours than six or seven, thank you very much.

2. Do not be afraid of the whole grains! I can’t tell you how satisfied I felt after that bowl of brown rice this afternoon.  I also love oats and quinoa.

3. Less processed food, more “clean” food. My diet is pretty clean as is, but there are a few things that could stand to be eliminated.  I am going to focus on whole foods, like fish, chicken, fruits, vegetables, greens, some plain greek yogurt, nuts, nut butters, tofu, avocado, healthy fats, and grains, of course.  I don’t intend to eliminate protein powder (especially the simpler ones), but I do want to use it less.  My staples are as follows: spinach, frozen berries, carrots, apples, salmon, tofu, peanut butter, oats.  So simple, so nutritious.

4. Sugar in moderation. I feel better, think better, and run better when my diet is mostly free of processed sugar (i.e., granola bars, flavored yogurts/nut butters, non-homemade baked goods).  I fully intend to continue consuming honey, maple syrup, stevia, baked goods that I have made, good dark chocolate, and farmer’s market pastries (because they’re too damn good to give up).  Once I have a little bit of sugar, I tend to want a lot more, so Iam really going to try to be careful and moderate here.

5. Say no sometimes and recognize hunger vs. not-hunger.  I do not have to eat anything, ever, if I do not want it.  Training for a marathon does not mean that I can (or even should) eat when I’m not hungry.  I can say no to food at parties, extra food on my plate at restaurants, late-night snacks, etc.

6. Above all, listen to my body.  If my body is saying “feed me a giant pile of veggies!” I shall listen.

I should probably start this whole packing monstrosity now.  Blogging is so much more fun though!

My nutrition goals are really just guidelines.  I think that one of the most important things is not to get mad at myself if I have an off-day.  It won’t kill me.

Do you have general nutrition goals/guidelines/thoughts that you live by?  And does anyone out there happen to be an expert on losing ten nagging pounds while training for a marathon? If so, please share. 🙂

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Finals Week Health Challenge

Today’s Happy Note: I got one paper done (8 pages).  I still need to edit it, but getting the first draft out is always the hardest part.  Here’s what’s left between now and Friday: one 15-page paper, one 10 page take home exam, and one in class final.  That’s not so terrible!  I can do it!

Speaking of school, finals, and papers, I want to give myself a little challenge.  I found myself eating way too much this weekend because I was stressed and/or bored.  Finals week(s) is always a difficult time to follow the diet (in the lifestyle sense, not the weight loss sense) that works best for me, so…

Introducing the Finals Week Health Challenge!

There are several components:

1. 60 minutes of physical activity every day (I suspect this one will be the easiest).

2. 6+ servings of fruits and veggies (dried, fresh, frozen, sauces — it all counts).

3. No late night stress snacking: if I am genuinely awake and using energy studying and I need fuel, that is fine, but I am going to try to maintain a semi-decent schedule, and I would like to institute my no after dinner snacking rule (besides dessert, of course).

4. Mental health: tell myself 3 positive/nice things everyday.  Don’t panic; remain calm and know that everything will get done!

That’s it!  Pretty simple.  This is how I try to live most of the time, but things tend to get crazy during finals — think 12 hour marathon paper writing sessions accompanied by a bag of chocolate chips, etc.  Any college students out there who want to join me are welcome! It starts immediately, unless you don’t have exams yet.

Here’s today’s progress:

1. Check.  I did a 6 mile run (which took me almost 70 minutes; it was 85 degrees and I am NOT adjusted to the heat yet) followed by a 90 minute yoga class at The Shala. The actual class and teacher and flows were great, bu I was so disgustingly sweaty that I could hardly concentrate.

2. Check. I have consumed the following today: blackberries, half a banana, frozen berries and pineapple, arugula/lettuce mix, roasted broccoli, and roasted bell peppers.  I think it was probably somewhere around six or seven servings.

3. Not check.  I had my standard dessert after dinner, but felt the need to eat some unnecessary cereal and peanut butter afterwards.  Not sure if it was genuine hunger (I was pretty active today) or stress, but I’m leaning towards the latter.

4. I think I was pretty un-stressed today, and I have had plenty of positive thoughts.  Why, you want to know?  Because I asked a boy on a date(ish) yesterday!!!!  This is a first for me, and I am VERY PROUD of myself.  It’s such a simple thing, but men are a huge source of anxiety for me.  We’re having lunch on Tuesday.  I’ll let you know how it goes! 🙂

I did a 12-miler yesterday; I wasn’t planning on a long run but I woke up early and just decided to do it.  It was a bit slow but I felt really good during parts of it.

Eats:

LOTS of cereal/smoothie/trail mix bowls.  They’re just so easy.  With the weather this hot,I’m really craving cold smoothies and cereal.  I think I only had oatmeal once this weekend!  My favorite smoothie is really simple: about a cup of frozen berries, a scoop of protein powder, either soy milk or greek yogurt plus a little water, a few bug handfuls spinach, and, sometimes, pb or ab.  Anyone have a favorite smoothie recipe I should try?

Dinner tonight was really good and really easy!  I roasted broccoli and bell peppers with EVOO, salt, and crushed red pepper for 30 minutes.  When it had ten minutes left I heated some EVOO in a non stick pan and added several thin sole fillets (it was on sale at WF this week) and lemon pepper.  I heated up a tiny bit of leftover rice in the microwave and washed a bunch of arugula/lettuce to use as a base.  When everything was done I just threw it in the bowl!  Easy and delish.  The sole tasted a little too fishy for me, but whatever.

Yum!  Sometimes it scares me how fast I go through spinach.  Does anyone else have this problem?

Back to the grind for me.  Stay tuned for Therapy Monday tomorrow!

Questions to entertain me:

1. What food do you go through the fastest?  What do you spend the most on?

2. What’s the craziest thing you did in college?

Breakfast for Breakfast, Lunch, And Dinner

Today’s Happy Note: Had some quality social time with friends, but it didn’t feel overwhelming!  Yay!

I have literally spent the entire day studying, writing papers, preparing projects, and reading articles, minus the two hours I was in class and the three hours I was at work.  I studied while I ate, while I watched TV, while I hung out with friends.  Yuck.  I hate the end of the semester when everything gets all overwhelming.  It’s funny because everyone I know thinks I am like a really perfect student, but I’m actually the biggest procrastinator ever!  For example, I probably did a total of three hours of schoolwork this weekend.  I could probably save myself quite a bit of stress and anxiety if I learned to do things ahead of time.  Hmmmm…

Are you a procrastinator or do you get everything done in advance?

I apologize ahead of time if I am a bit crazy and frazzled for the next two weeks. 😦

I was too busy to exercise today!!!  For someone like me who can get a little bit obsessive, I think this is a really good thing.  And it wasn’t like I was sedentary either.

Eats:

I had one of my most favorite breakfast combos ever this morning but I forgot to take a picture!

It was one packet of Three Sister’s brown sugar and maple oatmeal heated with half a banana and topped with half a serving of Greek yogurt (Chobani vanilla) and a big scoop of MaraNatha almond butter.  Yum.

While I like plenty of other breakfast foods, this breakfast, and similar versions, makes me feel “safe.”  It’s a part of my morning routine.  I can’t decide if this is controlling or a comforting mechanism? I like to set up my mornings similarly every day; it just feels good to know that, at the very least, this one thing can go right.

Lunch was special because I finally got my blender to produce delectable smoothies!  I just realized that I have to include a wee bit more liquid, and that I have to push the ingredients down a few times and then be patient.  It takes a while for it to build up to that serious blender whirling motion, but when it does get there, it blends quite nicely!

This SIAB contained about a cup of frozen mixed berries, a half-ish cup of chobani vanilla yogurt, a half-ish cup of water, 1 scoop Whole Foods vanilla whey protein powder and spinach.  It was quite perfect.  I topped it with Trader Joe’s AB and J trail mix (almonds, berried, and peanuts — muy addictive).  I do wish I had room for ice cubes in my freezer to make it a little thicker/icier, but it still had a pretty good texture as is. Look for many more smoothies in my future.  I’m actually craving one right now.  The power of suggestion is strong!

Some days, I absolutely have to have breakfast foods for dinner.  Ironically, I don’t like cereal for breakfast — it doesn’t seem to keep me full as long as oatmeal — but I love having it for dinner.

This is Three Sister’s Honey Oaties cereal (I am loving this brand) with a bit of milk, some cherry vanilla yogurt, chocolate chips (buried — makes for fun hidden treasure!) and Justin’s honey peanut butter.  Wow, I just realized I had yogurt at all three meals today.  Not the best for someone who is trying to get only one to two servings of dairy a day.  Oh well, I’ll survive.

It looks like I’m on a major breakfast kick!  I can’t help it.  I think it’s by far the best meal of the day.  I like all kinds of breakfast (although as stated above I usually stick to oats on weekday mornings).  Here are a few favorite combos:

~whole grain waffle with fruit and maple syrup

~oats with nut butter

~apple, cinnamon, yogurt, trail mix

~omelette with sweet fillings

~chocolate chip pancakes topped with peanut butter and banana

~yogurt with grapes and nuts

~smoothie with frozen berried, soy milk, protein powder, and nut butter

~pumpkin baked goods of any sort!

What are your favorite breakfasts?

I have a lot of college friends who skip breakfast and this just seems so wrong to me.  Why would you skip such a delicious meal and deprive your body of important fuel?

Sorry for the lame-o post.  I still have more work to do.  Ick ick ick.  Major ick.

I hope you all,on the other hand, do not have massive amounts of work and are enjoying spring.  And lots of yummy breakfasts too!

Anatomy of My Snackage

Today’s Happy Note: I had TWO social activities.  Hey, that’s a lot for me.

I’ve switched from daily creativity notes to happy notes!  I was getting bored (and, um, a bit uncreative) and needed a change.  So far I’ve done positive notes, mini goals, daily creativity, and now happy notes.  The happy note has to be a comment on one happy thing from my day.

My friend J and I headed out for our run this morning and he finished so strong!  I even made him run up a hill at the end.  He was such a trooper; my legs were so dead, I could barely keep up with him!  I want to do a long run tomorrow and get it out of the way, but I can’t decide if my legs will be happy and rested.  Decisions decisions. Also, my running club is doing a small 5k for charity.  I hate 5ks but I feel like I should participate?  To race or not to race?  To do the long run afterwards or not to do the long run?

Caronae fact of the day: I am terribly indecisive.  I used to make my parents crazy saying I wanted one thing and then changing my mind at the last minute.  Oh wait, I still do that.

I won’t lie, I didn’t get much done today.  I did my five mile run and a nice hour-long yoga class, plus had brunch with J, did a little school reading and watched a lot of pointless TV.  But I don’t have class Monday so I feel like I shouldn’t have to start homework until tomorrow!  Lol, that’s just silly 🙂

Snackage:

I didn’t take a lot of food pictures today so I though I would do a round up of some of my typical/favorite healthy snacks and why I like them!  There are a few qualtiies I look for in a snack:

1. Must hold me over: this means that it should be nutritious.  Usually I go fo some (or all) of the following elements: fiber/vegetable matter, fat, protein, smart carbs, deliciousness.  If a snack is healthy as all get out, but it doesn’t taste good, I won’t want to eat it, and will therefore end up just eating what I really crave later on.

2. Portability/convenience: My afternoon snacks (generally consumed anywhere between 3:00 and 6:00 pm depending on lunchtime and hunger levels) are most often eaten between classes or walking to work or the gym or volunteering.  I usually look for something that can be taken in a plastic baggie or tupperware.  BTW, I LOVE tupperware.  If you have extra tupperware, send it to me 🙂

3. Nutrition: This relates to number one.  You will not see me eating 100 calorie packs or processed stuff.  I try to keep the snack as “whole” as possible.

Time for pictures!

Apple with nut butter.  While this was clearly eaten on a plate, you can easily cut up an apple into slices ahead of time, store it in a bag or container, and throw in a spoonful of nut butter (or a Justin’s on the go packet!  Love these!).  Sometimes I sit sheepishly at my desk at work and just smear some of the packet onto a whole apple 🙂

Veggie slices with hummus!  Also can be easily put in a container and thrown in your bag.

Homemade trail mix and/or whole fruit.  I take two snacks if I know I will be out and about for a long time between lunch and dinner.  I like the following for fun, unique trail mixes: nuts, exotic dried fruits (think pineapple or blueberries), whole grain cereal, dried edamame, chocolate chips, animal crackers, etc.

Good old plain fresh produce!  Carrots and peppers are really easy to cut into manageable strips.  I also like cucumber and cereal.  Snacks like this are perfect for when you have several hours before your next meal and you know you’ll be hungry, but you don’t want to get too full.

Frozen yogurt with toppings is my favorite occasional “treat” snack!

Yogurt with random toppings.  I like greek yogurt for the protein, and as long as I don’t eat more than one serving a day, my tummy feels fine.  You can get super creative with yogurt mix-ins.  This one had pb pretzels and chocolate raspberry sticks.

Bars: These are my in-a-hurry or need-calories choices.  They can be a bit processed, but some aren’t bad.  They usually keep my nice and full, but you do have to experiment to find ones that taste yummy to you.

Smoothies!  Smoothies can be a super fun but also filling choice.  Since I am still blenderless (*tear*), I have to buy mine and add toppings if I want them.  I like a little yogurt and a sprinkle of nuts.  Mmmmm.

Okay, I think I’ve covered my most typical snacks!  I’m looking on doing more protein/savory snacks, since I know that carbs/sweet stuff can be a little bit addictive for me.  I’m thinking of plain edamame and hard boiled eggs.  Anyone have any other protein/fat snack ideas?

I hope your Saturday night is going superbly.  Off to a friend’s birthday party 🙂

See you tomorrow!

PS — Averie is giving away some awesome Tazo tea stuff here.  Seriously, the blog fairies love this girl!

Breakfast Heaven

Today’s Mini Goal: Diversify my fruit intake!  I rely largely on apples, bananas, grapefruit, oranges, grapes, and dried mango.  I’m starting to get bored of these guys though, and I need some new fruit friends!  Suggestions?

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet because this girl needs to do some serious damage on her schoolwork pile.

Thanks for everybody’s sweet comments yesterday, I was struggling a bit and every time I opened my inbox to find one my face lit up.  As a sort of follow-up question, do you want to be a mother, if you aren’t now? Or a father, I suppose, but I don’t think I have any male readers…

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day — so many options and flavor combinations, and it’s fun to play around with.  It also has to fuel me through my day, at least until lunch.  When I was younger I usually had cereal (typically not a sugary kind, although sometimes I conned my mom into buying my reese’s puffs!), instant oatmeal, or, as I got older and my mornings got more rushed, a bar of some sort.  Until about a year ago I used to always get hungry before lunchtime — usually around ten or eleven my belly would start growling.  I am just not a morning snacker at all, so I always had the dilemma of either digging into my lunch stash early or waiting it out.

Once I started adding some fruit and a little bit of fat and protein to my breakfast, I saw an immediate difference.  I think about this time last year I saw Kath putting a spoonful of peanut butter in her oats, and I thought that it sounded weird, but I tried it and fell in love.  Now I regularly include things in my breakfast that used to sound totally exotic — apples, almonds, trail mix, soy milk, cottage cheese, pumpkin, bananas, dried fruit, coconut!  The permutations are endless.  I usually stick with oatmeal on weekdays since it’s pretty much a no fail option.  I can cook it on the stovetop with spices if I have more time, or heat up a packet of kashi instant if I’m pressed for time (I like the Honey Cinnamon variety).  I can even eat it while walking to class if need be, like I did this morning.

The above bowl, kashi instant made with extra water, cinnamon, a diced gala apple, and a scant 1/4 C trail mix, was absolutely divine.   I could not ask for more from a breakfast.  Tasty.  Filling.  Nutty.  Sweet.  Full-bodied.  Crunchy.  Smooth.  Serious.  Playful.

I prefer to use cereal as a snack since it doesn’t hold me over as well at breakfast, but sometimes I do use it.  I like pretty much all the kashi cereals too, especially heart to heart, good friends, goLean crunch, and goLean berry crisp.  When I do cereal, I like to pair it with some chobani yogurt for protein and a banana, possibly a little bit of peanut butter if I know I’ll be really active that day.  Weekend breakfast possibilities include eggs (sunny side-up) with fruit and toast, french toast topped with fruit, nuts, and yogurt, or waffles.  I also love smoothies when I’m at home; I like to use vanilla yogurt or soymilk, frozen berries, spinach, a few nuts or a spoonful of nut butter, and protein powder or amazing grass.  In the summer I’ll throw in a scoop of peach ice cream for a yummy treat.

What are your favorite breakfasts?

Run:

I had one of the best speed workouts of my life today!  The schedule called for 5×1000 with three minutes recovery between each.  You know me — I can never seem to do exactly what it calls for, and today was no exception.  I converted it to 5×6 minutes with 4 minutes recovery (I’m really OCD and wanted it to be an even ten minutes!)  I was able to push really hard on the speedy parts without ever feeling like I was dying; this is all you can really ask for of a speed workout.  I covered anywhere from .73 to .80 during each six minute hard section, and my pace ranged from mostly 7:30-8:30.  There were a TON of hills going on today, and I was probably in the nine’s on them.  Regardless, it was a really great workout and definitely gave me a nice shot of confidence in my ability to actually run fast once in a while.

Today’s grumble: Garmin will not turn on again so that I can look up my exact data.  It worked fine after the reset and usually seems to turn on, but shouldn’t it turn on all the time?  I don’t think that I’m asking too much of poor Apricot…*le sigh*.

Random Anecdote: Yesterday my mother accused me of “spending too much time cooking”.  Considering what most college students are spending too much time doing, I found this pretty hilarious.  I think my cooking habit is a bit tame…

I hope everyone is having a most excellent week!

Once I complete this half-marathon (March 21st), I’m going to try to switch up my moves a bit.  I love running and I think I always will, but I want to be able to try more things and rediscover activities I’ve always loved too — swimming, yoga, gymnastics, dancing, biking, fitness classes.  What is your favorite way of moving?


OIAJ, SIAB, Protein, Mindfulness

Today’s Mini Goal: Find more coupons.  Then use them.  I’m a poor college student with an inclination towards specialty products and an expensive produce habit.  Anybody have any suggestions for where to acquire coupons/food discounts?

I have a confession:

Hello, my name is Caronae and I stayed in my pajamas until 5 pm today.

This was hands down one of the least productive days of my life.  I woke up at noon, made some OIAJ, read, munched on snacks, went back to sleep, flopped around on my bed having some thinking time.  Finally around five I dragged myself from the bed, called my dad for some motivation (he had already been to some sort of oncology conference all day, so that made me feel like it might be a good time for me to get moving), and threw on some hodge podge running clothes (sidenote: I don’t have a huge winter running gear stash and I don’t have the time/money to be doing laundry every few days, so I often end up running in some really funky outfits).  I didn’t set out with any particular route or mileage number in mind, which was quite a nice little change from my usually highly  regimented runs.  I love this kind of run.  It felt freeing to be able to turn left if I wanted to, or right.  To pick up my pace here or slow it down there.  To stop for water or notice the way the surface of the river moved.  It was nice.

Way back in September, when I first started seeing my current therapist, I realized how much I value productivity at the expense of me time.  Today, all I wanted was to snuggle up under my covers with a magazine and some chocolate.  And sometimes, that’s okay.  My therapist used the word “aimlessness” to describe this.  I have to give myself permission to just let go and do something that isn’t going to take me to any specific place.  When I do do this, I almost always feel calmer afterwards.  What’s your favorite “aimless” activity?

Run:

And what was even nicer than my run was the fact that MY GARMIN IS ONCE AGAIN FUNCTIONAL.  The company sent me instructions to reset it and recharge it which ended up working out after a few false starts.  So glad to have you back in my life Apricot (what I named my baby).  There were a few minor kinks:

1. Pace: sometimes it was just blatantly wrong: I’d be charging along at what was probably about a nine minute pace and it would tell me I was running at thirteen.  Not cool Garmin, not cool.

2. GPS Signal: okay, so this isn’t actually the Garmin’s fault, but rather NYC’s.  Seriously, there are two many tall buildings and not enough open spaces here.

3. Total Distance: the mileage thingy was going totally fine until the last quarter mile.  I was at about 7.9 and suddenly it started going backwards (it went all the way down to 7.2 before coming back up).  It never even reached the point at which it had started going backwards.  At first I thought I had been misreading the screen since it was dark, but I’m fairly positive I had about 0.05 miles left one second and then 0.70 miles left the next…

Anyone have any ideas/solutions?

I ended up doing eight miles in just over eighty minutes.  Tomorrow will be a long run and (hopefully) yoga.  I’m aiming for 16 miles, since I’m three weeks out from the race and I want this to be my peak.

Eats:

Really random today because of my bizarre I’m-not-doing-anything schedule.

Apple cinnamon chia OIAJ.  This did NOT fill me up, oddly enough, and I was feeling snackish two hours later.

TJ’s 0% pomegranate Greek yogurt topped with shredded coconut, pb pretzels, and TJ’s chocolate raspberry sticks (of which I had 3 or 4 more).  This was the perfect snack, and also the perfect segue into something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while…

Protein Talk:

Many bloggers, and even some health professionals, have acknowledged that Americans have this inflated view of the importance of protein and that we are far too focused on it.  In some ways, I don’t disagree: we don’t need to be cramming our faces with steak, chicken, and protein powders all day long, especially if doing so means sacrificing other important micro- and macro-nutrients that our active bodies need to function.  But with that said, I like me some protein, and I also physically need it. I talked about my PCOS here so I won’t tell the whole story again, but suffice it to say, my body does not function well on a diet that is too high in carbs.  I think I’m somewhat insulin resistant, and I have always noticed that I look and feel better when I am more focused on fats and proteins than carbs (and by the way, when I say carbs I mean bread, pasta, rice, not fruits and veggies).   I do eat plenty of whole grains, but never in place of protein.

My dairy-free experiment (which has of late turned into a minimal-dairy experiment) has been making me think about protein.  I have noticed that without milk, yogurt, and cheese in my diet I have been eating way more in the evenings and feeling like I “can’t get full.”  I think I probably ate three servings of PB pretzels the other night.  I still want to continue my minimal-dairy experiment, but I think that if I am going to do that while continuing to take care of my body, I am going to need to educate myself about and focus on some alternative proteins and fats.

I often incorporate dairy into my afternoon snack.  I have a few other items in my rotation, but I’m starting to get tired of them.  Here are the most frequent contenders:

1. Fruits or veggies with nut butter (e.g., carrots with ab, apple with pb)

2. Bars (Luna, Lara, Clif Mojo, Kashi, etc.)

3. Trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, and whole grain cereals

I’m starting to get bored of these options and don’t want to revert to yogurt or cheese or milk.  Does anybody have any suggestions for me? I’m not big on protein powders, and while I love meat, tofu/soy, beans, lentils, eggs and the like, I don’t really envision carrying those around for an afternoon snack.  I need some protein advice, help! “Fat” based snack ideas are also welcome.  Thanks in advance!

Okay, back to today’s eats.

I was starving after my run since it had been so long since I’d eaten.  I think my blood sugar was low and I was a bit dehydrated, so I knew exactly what I wanted: a smoothie.  I so wish I had the equipment to create my own right now, but I don’t (hint hint, mom).  I got a mango smoothie from the student center and topped it with one of homemade granola bars (recipe from Averie) all crumbled up and a few spoonfuls of trail mix.  I ate it SIAB style.  Heaven.  On a spoon.

Three-ish hours later I was hungry for another dinner, so I went with it.  I wanted a giant pile of protein with a side of veggies, so that’s what I had.

I ate the chicken from last night’s sandwich with the sweet potato fries and yellow pepper slices.  This hit the spot.

I’m currently sipping on my favorite tea (jasmine tulsi) with a bit of stevia and some plain soy milk.

I did get a few things done this evening — ran, blogged, read some Adam Smith (pin factories, anyone?), and started a collage!

These are picture cutouts I’m going to use.  And yes, that’s a slice of pie and a baby elephant in the foreground on the right.  I adore hands on creative stuff like collage-making.  The pictures are going to get glued on to a large piece of paper that will say “mindfulness.”  I want to put it up above my door.  That word has really been resonating with me lately.  What word would you choose to describe your thoughts of late?

PS — please excuse the misaligned pictures.  I could not get them quite right!

Mindfulness And Staple Food Fun

Today’s Mini Goal: Pick one small part of my day and do it mindfully.  I read an interview with Thich Nhat Hanh in this month’s Oprah Magazine and found myself totally in awe of his thoughts about our simple, daily actions.  We can infuse whatever we do — walking (or perhaps running), drinking tea, listening to someone — with an awareness and a caring.  Beautiful.

I really admire bloggers who seem to have a set pattern of meal-planning and eating, like Meghann or Caitlin, for example.  I tend to try very hard to emulate this and have realized that the organization actually just ends up giving me a sense of anxiety — I do typically eat three meals a day, but my snacks and desserts will vary a lot.  I really like Janetha‘s five meal a day thing.  But again, sometimes I want to have three evening snacks and no dinner, or an extra dessert.  Or a brunch.  Or two big mid-day snacks instead of lunch.  I have tried really hard to orient myself around the meal-snack-meal-snack-meal-dessert pattern, but I just end up frustrating myself.  I think I’ve learned it’s best to listen to my body at this point.

So tonight I had no dinner!  I was in the mood for a giant snack around four and I went with it (huge juicy grapefruit, frozen yogurt, an hour or so later pb pretzels, trail mix, coconut).  Super random, but no harm done.  If it works, I’ll take it, I guess.  Do you tend to have a set pattern for your eats, just eat when you’re hungry, or graze throughout the day?

Part of me feels like there’s hardly a point in wasting thought space over this; people all over the world have learned to give their bodies what the need when they need it.  I think the simple fact that we have so many foods in America — the healthy, the unhealthy, the processed, the natural, the outright bizarre — has created a mindset of overabundance.  I just want to eat whole, healthy foods without thinking about it, but because of our cultural relationship with food, I find this hard.  Not only is there food available everywhere (although, sadly, not everyone has access to it when they need it — this is another paradox of the system that I don’t understand), but we have an odd attitude toward food: I think food should definitely be an artful, social thing, but it is not a love object.  There is a fine line here.  Gena wrote a really wonderful post about this a while back.  In fact, you should most definitely go read her post from today. It’s one of the most eloquent, unique, and empowering bits of food-writing I’ve ever read.  Thoughts?

I’m thinking just working on my mindfulness overall will help me understand (and have compassion, not anger towards) my relationship with food, meals, and cooking.

***

I was not in the mood to run today.  The weather was ragingly nasty (think slush, snow, rain, puddles, and cold all at the same time), so I knew it wasn’t going to happen outside.  I fell asleep after work, and by the time I awoke it was evening, and I hate going to the gym in the evening.  But just as I was trying to talk myself out of it, a friend texted me asking if we could make cookies!  Perfect — I could ask if she wanted to go to the gym first.  Thankfully, she did, and my workout was saved.  I mean come on, once a friend shows up at your door, you’re not going to say, “oh, I changed my mind.”

I meant to do some strength training before my run, I really did, but I hardly had any time before my treadmill time-slot (grrrr — for a rant about this, see this post).  I did a few pull-ups and ab leg-raise thingies.  I’m so technical, I know.

Run (inspired by Janetha’s workout from this post):

Warm up:

10 minutes @ 6.0 mph

Speedwork:

2x (1 minute @ 5.5, 1 minute @6.0, 1 minute @6.5, 1 minute @ 7.0, 1 minute @ 7.5, 1 minute @ 8.0, 1 minute @ 8.5, 3 minutes @ 6.0)

The first two minutes of the set (@ 5.5 and 6) were done at a five percent incline.  I was going to do the set three times through, but I was drained.  This was absolutely killer!  My face was plum red afterwards, which never happens.

Cool down:

20 minutes @ 6.0

Total: 5.0 miles, 47-ish minutes.

Sweet.

My camera battery died during the day so I didn’t end up taking any pictures until this evening.  I thought I would do a fun little round up of my dietary staples, why I eat them, and what they do for my body!

The cast of characters:

We have: trail mix, spinach, yogurt, oats, dark chocolate, apple, and peanut butter.  These are the staples I have on hand tonight; there are several more things that I’d include, ideally: carrots, sweet potato, dried mango, salmon, milk, black beans, and tofu, for example.  But let’s focus on the yumminess pictured above now.

1. Trail Mix:

I usually keep a few mixes on hand because they are easy to grab for an afternoon snack, add to meals to increase their bulk, or take on the go.  I look for pre-made mixes that consist of simple ingredients (nuts, fruit, spices), or I make my own with a bit of dry cereal, nuts, animal crackers, chocolate, and dried fruit.  Trail mixes usually provide a nice dose of fat, protein, and fiber.  They never fail to keep me full, and they can instantly boost any meal’s flavor factor.  Try adding to oatmeal, salads, or yogurt!

2. Peanut butter:

I definitely consider good old PB to be a power food.  I love the fat, carbs, and protein combination that it offers, and the taste is inexplicably delightful.  With everything.  I like mine with oatmeal or cereal, toast, frozen yogurt, or chocolate.  Oddly enough, I don’t really find peanuts (a legume, by the way) all that appealing. But give me a jar of peanut butter and a spoon and, well, we might be soul mates.  PB is full of vitamins, like B and E, and the monounsaturated fat in it is good for your heart.

3. Apples:

I usually get a giant bag of apple’s from the farmer’s market every week (sometimes twice a week, if need be).  Apples obviously provide fiber, but they also have antioxidants and may help prevent some cancers.  I love their textures — sometimes crunchy, sometimes melty, sometimes peely.  Always perfect.  I eat them plain as snacks, with oatmeal, or pb and cinnamon.  They are excellent in baked goods.  I encourage you to branch out in your apple repertoire — there are so many delicious varieties!  My favorites, at the moment, include gala, fuji, cameo, mutsu, and suncrisp.

4. Spinach:

Dark leafy greens are excellent for you.  Spinach has iron, calcium, magnesium, and loads of other good-for-you-nutrients, without packing a calorie punch.  I find spinach to be the tastiest green, although I also love rainbow chard and baby bok choy.  Spinach is also an easily disguisable veggie — you can add it to smoothies, soups, sandwiches,and many other things and hardly know it’s there.  I love the bulk it can give a meal, and I use it as a salad base quite frequently.  Make sure you wash it carefully.

5. Oats:

Oats are easily my favorite whole grain.  Fiber, protein, carbs?  Check.  Oatmeal is my go-to breakfast and never fulls to keep my full and energetic.  I like mixing it with cinnamon, apples or banana, and peanut butter.  It’s also wonderful in cookies, crisps, and, I have heard, savory dishes.  It works well in raw desserts and there are limitless breakfast possibilities with this powerful little grain.

6. Yogurt:

I’ve been doing a little dairy free experiment lately (minus the fro yo I had this afternoon :)), but normally I love yogurt.  I usually go for Greek varieties or Stonyfield, which doesn’t have the fake ingredients that many yogurts do.  It has a lot of protein, which makes it a great breakfast component or afternoon snack.  It’s also got calcium and, if you go for 1 or 2%, the perfect little bit of fat.  I eat it plain, with nuts, fruit, cereal, or granola, and even use it in cooked recipes.  My favorite flavor is either pomegranate or raspberry!

7. Dark chocolate:

One of my favorite simple desserts.  Dark chocolate has antioxidants, and I’ve heard it’s also good for your heart.  I find that a few squares of the good stuff will satisfy my perfectly.  Pictured above is Green and Black’s, a smooth, reliable brand.  I like their Maya Gold and 70% varieties.  Dark chocolate mixes well into hot cocoa, hot grains, yogurt, or pairs well with citrus fruits.  It is also powerfully associated with ideas of love, the heart, and companionship; I think it’s good for the soul.

What are your staple foods and why do you enjoy them?

Okay, happy Friday everyone!  I hope it is a most excellent beginning-of-the-weekend for you!

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