Tag Archives: running

Thanksgiving is Just Around the Corner…

18 Nov

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but let’s be honest: I’ve been thinking about it since early October, and I’m already thinking about Christmas. Hey, it’s the malls fault for being all decorated and pretty with lights and Christmas trees. But when it’s all said and done, Thanksgiving is and always has been my absolute favorite holiday. The delicious smells, the wonderful feeling of family and the fact that I go into a turkey coma every year (no matter how much I tell myself to slow down) is all part of the joy of Thanksgiving. 

But even though I almost always have to unbutton my pants come dessert, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try to keep my Thanksgiving just a bit healthier. After all, I’m not trying to gain 10 pounds in one sitting and feel like absolute crap the next day. That would be doing my body no good. So this year in particular, I’m working on adding a little extra healthy oomph to my favorite holiday, and that I will share with you…

#1 I’m running my first ever Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day: I’ll be running the 5-mile Manchester Road Race, but these types of Turkey Trots are all over the place, so I suggest you sign up to0! They are fun, packed with people and it takes the edge of the actual running part of it. To make it even more exciting, my sister and I are dressing up as elves with green tights, elf hats and all! To prep for the race, I’ve been running 3 miles a day with Core Fusion Body Sculpt twice a week, so it’s keeping me in shape before Turkey Day as well. 

#2 I’ll be making a side dish that actually tastes good: Last year I tried to go all, “healthy, healthy” on everyone and ended up making the most disgusting side dishes…ever. My family of course ate them to be nice, but even I could see they had little to no flavor. My gluten free stuffing I tried to invent tasted like dog food. It was that bad. This year, I’m going to concentrate on making wholesome, nutritious food instead of low-cal, “healthy” crap. I’m definitely going to trim down the classic sweet potato pie that everyone knows and loves, and am definitely going to dabble in concocting some gluten free savory cupcakes from the BabyCakes Cookbook I got last year as a gift. Red Velvet cupcakes [see above] are at the top of my list to try this year! 

#3 Or Fake it if you can’t bake it: Not everyone loves to cook, and there is no shame in that. Lots of places allow you to pre-order Thanksgiving sides and desserts so you don’t have to touch a pan. For instance, Healthy Habits Kitchen in Wellesley, MA is running an “Everything But the Turkey” Package, which includes 3 appetizers, 3 side dishes and 2 desserts. How’s that for easy and efficient? Pick ‘n’ choose between tasty apps like Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomato & Olive Spread, Spinach & Feta Triangles and Pumpkin Chipotle Hummus. Side dishes include a Butternut Squash Casserole, Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, and Traditional Stuffing. Oh, and you can’t forget dessert, with favorites like Chocolate Bark and Gingerbread Spiked Pumpkin Pie. View their full menu here. Small servings for 4 cost $59 and full servings for 8 is $99, extremely affordable in my book for the amount of food you’re getting. 

#4 Eat Slowly: Sometimes I forget that the food is not going to fly away on me. I think we all could use a few deep breaths and short breaks throughout the feast. Enjoy your food, chat with aunt Sally who you haven’t seen all year and savor every bite. This meal only comes once a year, after all. Why rush it? 

What are your healthy Turkey Day tips? 

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Hidden Benefits of Running: It’s More than Burning off that Cake

11 Oct

I have to admit: up until this year I absolutely hated running, but I did it. I ran to lose weight, to burn off my dinner, and to look good in my bikini. I’d force myself to go on group runs with my roommates, even though every stride was absolutely painful. I hate this. But I have to keep going, I’d think to myself.

It wasn’t until this year that I began to enjoy running. The weekend of my grandmas funeral, I was filled with a bajillion emotions: anger, confusion, pain, rage, and I don’t know what got into me but I laced up my sneakers and hit the road. It was a beautiful spring day in Boston, and the temperature was in the low 70s. While normally I’d want to quit before the first mile, I simply couldn’t stop this day. I ran and I ran and I ran, letting out all my emotions on the road. I ran three miles that day, and never felt so alive.

Ever since then I’ve used running as an outlet, a way to explore and understand myself. I’ve realized running is so much more than looking good in that tight dress and burning off the extra cookie you snuck at lunch. While it doesn’t hurt that running helps burn off some fat, I’ve come to realize that running is so much more than that. Alas, I share with you some of my secret running benefits

1. Admiring Other Active People: When I’m running, I love checking out all the people I stride by. I constantly find myself thinking, “Damn, her arms are nice,” “I love that top,” or “Boy is he cuteeeee.” It’s fun to observe other athletic people like yourself hitting the pavement, especially in the city of Boston where I swear people run outside from sunrise to sunset. 

2. Discovering Hidden Gems: I can’t count the number of amazing places I’ve discovered while on my long runs. From mom & pop shops, spas and trendy cafes to beautiful farms and parks, there are a number of hidden gems I never would have known about if it weren’t for my love of running. 

3. Mental to-do Lists: While running, I mentally jot down all the things I need to do, whether it be grocery shopping lists or little goals I have for the week. It saves time and paper when you organize things out in your head! (Need: apples, peanut butter, trip to the bank, new fall outfit) 

4. Creativity Spark: On that note, my creative juices tend to flow best during a good, long run. I come up with some of my craziest, most inspiring ideas while on the road, and then I write them down as soon as I get home so that I won’t forget. Sometimes I wish my brain would write everything down for me so I wouldn’t have to do all the work! (It’s hard to multi-task!) I’ve come up with most of my blog posts while on the run, including this very one you’re reading right now. 

5. Erasing a Bad Day: Whenever I’m having a bad day/stuck in a rut/feeling sorry for myself/feeling lonely and “extra-single” I go for a run, and by the time I get back I usually have an entirely new mindset. Running is refreshing and can give you a new perspective about things that may seem like THE END OF THE WORLD, when in reality they are just trivial issues. 

6. Familiarize Yourself With Your Pod: When I put my iPod on shuffle, I discover tons of music I never knew I had! From oldies and country to rap and reggae, I like to run to all kinds of beats. Today my faves included “Satisfaction” (Benny Benassi), “Ridin’ Solo”  (Jason DeRulo), “There Goes the Fear” (Doves), and “It’s the Same Old Song” (Four Tops). Told ya, I like random! 

7. Post-Run Glow: I LOVE how I look after a run: glowing, red face, healthy, sweaty, strong. 

8. Appreciating the Outdoors: Before running, I’d go on walks occasionally, but that was pretty much my only dose of fresh air for the day. Now I’m outside nearly every day, soaking up the beautiful weather, feeling the breeze blow through my hair and smelling the fresh scents of fall. 

Do you enjoy running? What are some of the reasons you absolutely love lacing up those sneaks for a nice, sweaty run? 

First 10K=a SUCCESS: 10 Inspirations for Your First Race

19 Sep

So I completed my first 10K this morning. Yup, the girl who couldn’t even run two miles a few years ago, cried in the middle of a 5K once and has never ran more than five miles ran an entire 6.2 miles today! The best part? I couldn’t have felt more alive, energized and motivated during the race, and feel absolutely amazing now! (Well…my legs could use some hardcore hot tub time, but other than that life is good) Oh and I beat my goal time of 60 minutes…59:34 baby! Anyway, I know first-time races can be a little scary, intimidating and a heck of a lot of work, so I put together a little list of inspirations to get you through your next race. Whether it’s your first 5K, your first 10K or your very first run EVER, these little mental motivations got me through the race today and hopefully work for you too: 

1. “I’m going to pace myself and go at a rate I feel comfortable with and know that I can maintain. If I get tired, I will slow down. If I feel good, I will speed up.”

2. “It’s just me and the road. Everyone else doesn’t matter right now. This is my race.”

3. “Just focus on one step at a time, one mile at a time and the finish line will be there before you know it.” 

4. “I am strong, I am healthy, I can do this!”

5. “There will be people who finish way ahead of me, and people who finish way behind me. And that’s OK!”

6. “Everyone is out here for a good cause, and each and every person here is amazing. Support each other. It’s not JUST about the time and it’s NOT a competition.”

7. “Just get through the race. Crossing the finish line is going to feel amazing, especially listening to all the people cheer me on. Then I can chug water and eat a big breakfast (Mmm)!”

8. “Remember to breathe. In through your nose…out through your mouth…in through your nose…out through your mouth.”

9. “Enjoy the scenery while you’re at it. This isn’t something you see every day and it makes the race go by a heck of a lot faster.”

10. “If I can do this, I can do anything. Next time, I will push myself even farther and continue to challenge myself.” 

P.S.

14 Sep

P.S. I also signed up for my very first 10K THIS weekend, and am super pumped for it. After some wonderful, inspiring comments from readers, friends, and Twitter followers, and some talking myself into it, I suddenly found myself typing in my credit card number in the online registration section with NO hesitation. I’m super excited to run and am hoping the adrenaline rush and positive thoughts will carry me through : ) 

Ta ta for now!

XoXo,

The Healthy Chick

Get Rid of That Guilt: Why Skipping a Workout is OK

9 Sep

This morning, I got up early and headed out to meet my friend at Starbucks for…wait for it…PUMPKIN SPICED LATTES! Yes, they are indeed back and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Not only do I love the flavor, but it makes me ecstatic for the fall season: pumpkins, running outside, not sweating in my 100+ degree apartment, kettle corn, hayrides, apple picking… Seriously, I could go on forever. 

Anyway, as we chatted over our absolutely delicious “fall in a cup” lattes in the park, my friend admitted to something: she felt guilty for skipping her morning run. “I woke up early so I could run before work and then just laid around the house and didn’t do it. Now I’m going to feel guilty the rest of the day.” As I took another sweet slurp of my latte, I reflected on how I’ve been there a million times in the past. Whether I wasn’t “in the mood” to go for a run or skipped a cardio class at the gym due to pure laziness, it’s hard not to feel a little guilty when you skip a workout. I remember in college if I didn’t go to the gym for an hour each day or missed out on my weekly cycling class, I’d completely beat myself up over it. I’m lazy. I’m fat. Now I’m going to gain weight. I may as well not eat for the rest of the day. I should have just gone to the gym. Negative thoughts would haunt me for the rest of the day. Therefore, I’d force myself to exercise on days my body wasn’t feeling it, and skip out on fun dates with friends in order to go to the gym. Looking back now, it’s completely pathetic that I put so much emphasis on my psychotic workout plan.

Now, my mindset has completely changed. I don’t let myself feel guilty anymore because if I decide not to work out, I don’t think of it as a bad thing. The phrases skipping or giving up have such negative connotations to them. It’s not like you gave up on eating healthy forever or decided to drop out of school. It’s one workout for Pete’s sake! Therefore now when I choose not to do a workout, I think of it as just that. This was my decision. My body wasn’t feeling it at the time. I’m going to go with what my body tells me to do, rather than meeting my expectations. 

Once you have this mindset, you’ll never feel guilty about missing a workout again. In fact, I decided to skip  opt out of my morning run yesterday, and ended up having the most fabulous, healthy day because of it. I was able to make a hearty breakfast, do 20 minutes of morning yoga, and go for a long walk with my friend later in the afternoon. Sure I didn’t sweat a bunch or torch hundreds of calories, but I felt good about it and made the right decision for that day. On the other hand, I will be going on a 5 mile run this evening and couldn’t be more excited about it. I’m excited to challenge my body, see what my time will be and run in this gorgeous fall weather. However, if I happened to not be feeling it at the time of my run, I’d chose to do something else and would move on with it. It’s all about listening to your body. 

After all, working out shouldn’t be a chore; you should feel motivated and inspired by it! Whenever friends complain about going to the gym or talk about “forcing” themselves to go, I tell them to stay home and do something else, or go for a long walk to sort things out. If you’re feeling miserable and dragging yourself to exercise, it’s NOT going to be a good workout. And let me tell you: 25 minutes on the elliptical at a slow “I-don’t-want-t0-be-here” pace is going to do nothing for your body or overall weight management efforts. Our bodies need a break once in a while after all. And if you’re someone who exercises nearly every day, the occasional rest day is more than OK; in fact it’s good for your health. We don’t want to overwork our bodies now, do we? 

So to wrap things up: next time you find yourself feeling guilty about “skipping” a workout, try to listen to your body and think about what’s right for you. If you really are just being lazy, give it a few minutes and see how you feel, or start by just going for a walk and begin running if you feel like it (not ’cause you HAVE to). However, if you really do just need a day of rest, take one guiltlessly. There is always tomorrow and one little missed workout is not going to make the slightest difference on your overall healthy lifestyle (I wish I had known this in college). Trust me. 

How to Charge Through a Morning Workout (Or Any Workout) Pain-Free

1 Sep


I’m a morning person. I always have been. My roommates in college used to envy the fact that I could wake up right when the sun came up perkier than ever. They also used to loathe the fact that I’d stomp around the apartment with my sneakers slamming cabinets and shuffling around pots and pans to make my morning omelet, as they tried to get their beauty sleep (sorry girls!) So yes, I’ll admit that getting up in the morning is a tad easier for me than the average human being.

However, I am not Superwoman and I too have my days where I want to throw my Blackberry out the window as the annoying alarm rings in my ear. Take this morning for instance. I set my alarm for 7:30 a.m. because I wanted to get my morning run over with before the horrendous 100-degree weather hit. However, I was angry when I heard my alarm go off this morning. Not only did it interrupt a good dream (don’t you hate that?) but I also was not ready to get up. So I sat there for a few seconds debating whether I should go back to sleep or not, and decided to rip the Band-Aid off. Yes, the first few seconds are painful, but once I sprung out of bed I was good to go. Then when I put on my running outfit and sneaks, I knew there was no turning back!

So, no I wasn’t born with super powers, nor do I have any magical advice to give you on how to get yourself going in the morning. But I do have some motivational tips that’ll help you make it through a tough workout painlessly.

1. Spring Out of Bed: As I already mentioned before, getting out of bed is the hardest part, then the rest is a piece of cake! Do whatever you need to do in order to move your body from your comfy cloud-like mattress to a standing position. I use the “rip the Band-Aid off” method, where I give myself a few seconds of recuperating then just jump up before I can talk myself out of it.

Thinking about how great I’ll feel AFTER my workout also helps me get through the initial doubts. Just think: if you go back to bed you’ll already waste a few hours of your day, and probably won’t end up achieving your goals for the day. Just take the day on my friend…really you won’t regret it!

2. Fuel Up! Confession: I didn’t listen to my own advice this morning, and boy do I regret it. Before you set out, make sure you’re properly fueled. First things first: drink a good amount of water before you head out. Then, eat something small yet substantial that’s going to get you through your workout. An apple with some natural peanut butter, Greek yogurt, piece of toast, protein bar, or half of a fruit smoothie all work. Eat something small that you know your stomach can handle. Then when you return from your workout, you can dive into something more filling.

3. Set a Goal… It’s always good to have some sort of goal in mind, whether it’s going a certain distance, doing a certain amount of reps at the gym, or trying a new yoga class. Today my goal was to run another 5 miles, as I hit the 5-mile mark last week and wanted to see if I still had it goin’ on. Alas, I mapped out a route and set off to see where my legs would take me…

4.…But Don’t Take Your Goal Too Seriously: Goals are always great, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve what you set out to do. Today was HOT out. Yes, even at 7:30 a.m. the temperature was already nearly 90 degrees. (So much for beating the heat). Anyway, midway through my run I had to re-access whether running the full five miles was right for my body. I thought about stopping and walking the rest (around mile four) but realized that my breathing was in control and another mile was definitely doable, so I simply slowed down my pace.

Sure, I didn’t run the five miles in record-breaking time, however I DID IT and felt amazing afterward! Had I felt faint or dehydrated, I would have stopped and felt OK about that. It’s all about listening to your body, and not pushing yourself beyond what you’re comfortable with.

5. Take Advantage of Mind Tricks: I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes exercise can be strenuous and downright painful. That’s when I start playing tricks with my mind. If you know you still have another three miles to go (or another 30 minutes in a challenging group fitness class), thinking about it (and looking at the clock every 10 seconds) is going to drive you absolutely crazyyyyy.

Instead, play mind tricks. Today I blocked out any discouraging thoughts, and instead started thinking about what I was going to do the rest of the way. All the sudden, I was half way around the loop again without even thinking about it. I also like to look at the smaller picture; that is when I’m running a far distance, I’ll use street signs or telephone poles as different benchmarks. That way, instead of thinking about an ADDITIONAL THREE MILES, I’ll take it one sign at a time. Music also helps get your mind off the struggle, which leads me to my next point…

6. Jam Out: Seriously, I don’t know how people exercise without amazing tunes to go with it. But I suppose if you aren’t an Ipod person, chatting with a friend, watching the TV at the gym, or listening to the surrounding noise helps—any distractions really! But if you’re like me, I like my jams, and lately I’ve been really feeling my newest playlist, “Workout Baby.”

I recently downloaded “I Like it” by Enrique Iglesias (feat. Pitbull) and absolutely love it. Actually that’s an understatement. Confession: I played it THREE times during my run this morning; that’s how obsessed with it I am. So, download some new tunes, have your hip, music-obsessed friend burn you a few CD’s. I’m telling you: new, upbeat songs can make all the difference during your next workout.

Hope this helps! Please share your personal motivating tips that help you charge through…

Stuck in a Rut? Go for a RUN!

25 Aug


This may sound strange, but years ago when I was applying to college, I began my college admission’s essay…wait for it…at the gym! Yes, while hundreds of other students put in hours at the library or glued to the computer chair, I began scribbling my essay (that got me into JMU) on the elliptical machine…with a pen and piece of scrap paper. What can I say; a light bulb hit while I was trucking along on the machine and I went with it. I’ve also thought of article ideas on long runs, have worked through job stresses by lifting weights and have tackled my way through life’s toughest decisions simply by going for a long walk.

While this may sound completely out there to you, I promise I have a point. That is that 99% of the time problems can be solved through exercise. Hear me out. Normally when we’re stuck in a rut (whether it be a deadline or a mini life crisis) we tend to shut down and fall apart. That’s how I used to handle problems in high school. If I was upset about a guy, an assignment, or a tricky decision, I’d shut down completely. I’d run into my room, slam the door and just sit there with my problems feeling sorry for myself. But let’s be serious: that gets us no where. In fact, it’s working backwards, and no one wants that.

Instead, next time you find yourself in a tricky situation, or even when you’re having one of those “brain farts,” go for a swim. Or lace up your running shoes and hit the road, even if you only go a couple miles. It’s amazing what our minds can do when we let loose and relax. And that’s exactly what exercise does for us. Not only is it beneficial for weight management and healthy hearts, but exercise is a 100% mind-clearing miracle drug. It cures problems thick and thin, whether it’s anger from your unreasonable boss or a difficult financial decision you’re not sure of. The thing is: exercise gives you all the answers you normally wouldn’t think of yourself. Whether it’s the change of environment or simply getting your body moving, all I can tell you is that it works. And boy does it work well. So I challenge you to tackle your rut the right way, the healthy way for once, and see how wonderful you’ll feel afterwards.

Feel free to share any stories or successes you’ve had by “running through a rut.”

A Runner’s Diet: Hot Tips From RD Allison Rovtar!

20 Aug

So, I wouldn’t really call myself a “runner” per se. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t absolutely LOVE doing it. I remember seven years ago on my 16th birthday when I couldn’t even run a mile without getting winded and let down. Now at 23, I run nearly every day, sticking to 3 to 4 miles at a nice steady pace. I absolutely love the way it makes me feel afterward. I love the wind blowing through my hair. I love how it gives my face this unbelievable glow like no other when I’m finally finished. And I love how it makes me feel strong, healthy and beautiful. Let’s just put it this way: I love running and admire all of you healthy, avid runners out there. But let me ask you this: do you know the BEST way to eat when training for a race? How about what to grab in the morning before your quick 2-mile loop? Do you need to guzzle lots of water before and after? Not a clue? I wasn’t 100% positive myself. That’s why I asked Registered Dietitian, Allison Rovtar from Chicago, to be featured on my blog as a guest columnist. Here she shares hot, exclusive tips and advice for all you runners out there!

RC: So, you just woke up and you’re going out for a quick 3 to 5 mile run in the morning. Do you suggest you eat/drink anything before? Wait ’til after?

AR: I always encourage my clients to eat about 45 minutes prior to working out. This allows them the energy they may need to have a good run. A good rule of thumb is to have something that includes protein, carbohydrate, and fat. This could mean an apple with 2 tbsp peanut butter, oatmeal with chia seeds, or even Greek yogurt.

RC: What should women in particular be aware of when following a runner’s diet? Anything you’d eat more of? Leave out?

AR: People used to believe that you had to load up on carbs weeks before and this just isn’t the case. Yes, you do want to be sure you are taking in adequate calories from carbohydrates but no need to overdo it! Overdoing it and consuming too many carbohydrates the night before can leave you feeling bloated for race day. Carbohydrates are, however, a necessity as they provide us with the glycogen needed for energy! Complex carbohydrates are key and generally my endurance athletes consume 55% calories from carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 20% fat but these numbers can vary a bit person-to-person. In the days leading up to your event you can up your carbohydrate intake to 60% if desired.

RC: I know many people (not myself) who run well over 13 miles-sometimes more-on a regular basis? What should they be fueling up with? Do you suggest gu, gels, etc? What should you drink?

AR: I suggest runners carry Gu or Gu Chomps with them when planning on running anything longer than 45 minutes. This will help with energy levels and for most people stop them from hitting a “wall” during the latter miles. A good rule of thumb is 1 packet (Gu) or 2-3 Chomps every 45 minutes to 1 hour. During a half marathon or marathon I encourage runners to switch between water and an electrolyte drink at each station. They usually have both throughout the race. For some runners it may be important to walk through the water stations. This way they get enough water in and don’t spill most of it while trying to drink and run!

RC: How do you prep most effectively for a race? A 5k? A half marathon? A full marathon? What kind of meals do you suggest you eat drink before/during/after? The night before?

AR: Each race is going to be different. The mileage plays a significant role in the prep before, during, and after. I always encourage runners to add chia seeds to their meal plan. Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3’s and calcium. A lot of research has shown that when chia seeds are ingested they form a gel like consistency in the gut. This can help slow the breakdown of carbohydrates.

The before routine is going to vary from person to person. Before the Rock ‘N Roll Chicago half, I had a banana with peanut butter and 8 oz. of an electrolyte drink. Experiment with what works for you and do not try something new race day! Marathon runners may need more to eat the morning of. I have had some clients who will have three pieces of whole wheat toast and almond butter the morning of so they are not starving mid race!

Hydration post race is especially important. Be sure to consume water and pay attention to the color of your urine. If it is light yellow a few hours after your race, more than likely you have adequately rehydrated yourself!

RC: What’s your #1 nutrition tip for women athletes?

AR: Rest days! Be sure to listen to your body. Women tend to push themselves to the point where there body begins to breakdown and this is where injuries can happen. Taking a break from running and doing yoga or Pilates is always a great idea!

RC: What do you do to stay fit and maintain a healthy diet? Are you a runner? Do you go to the gym? Any special diets you follow?

AR: Along with being a Registered Dietitian I am also a NASM-Performance Enhancement Specialist, so staying healthy is important! I enjoy running and boxing for my workouts along with resistance training. I work at a gym so it is very easy for me to get my workouts in! As far as special diets I try to ensure complex carbohydrates and adequate protein. At the end of the day my calories usually add up to about 45% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 25% fat.

RC: Thanks Allison! I definitely learned a lot. Be sure to check Allie out on Twitter at Allie_RD for more sweet nutrition tips!

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