My Day of Small Meals

I have officially taken on the June Yoga Challenge along with Courtney at SweetToothSweetLife and other lovely readers and bloggers.

(You can click on the above photo if you want to check out Courtney’s page)

Basically, the challenge is to incorporate more yoga into your life. You set your own goal as to how you wish to do so. Courtney’s challenge was to incorporate three yoga sessions into her weekly routine. It doesn’t matter how long the session, or at what difficulty, just as long as you do it keeping your own personal goal in mind. Or, you can create a different type of yoga-related challenge, such as mastering a new pose or trying out a new yoga studio for the first time. It’s up to you.

On Fridays, we all check in with our weekly yoga status updates and motivate eachother through those weekly updates as well as through twitter. It’s always more encouraging and motivating working out with others, and this is a fun and different way to do it!

At first I was thinking my goal would be to incorporate one yoga session into my weekly routine, but considering I have already tackled two yoga workouts in the past two days, I figured I could create a heftier goal. I am going to also have a goal of completing three yoga sessions through the week. I am finding I am enjoying this workout first thing in the morning; it is very relaxing and allows me to mentally and physically relax as I begin my day.

The other part of my challenge is working around this big dude who likes to sit directly next to me on the carpet during yoga time.

And inevitably he just HAS to go outside during this time.

He keeps me smiling at least. 🙂

My brain and body could really use the stress relief from yoga. Thank you Courtney for creating this and motivating me to get yoga’ing! It’s always a good idea to set fitness goals for yourself, and I look forward to continuing this challenge.

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Food Recap from Yesterday

I had a day full of small meals and snacks versus three bigger meals and small snacks in between. I prefer to eat this way, but my work situation doesn’t really allow for this type of structure. Well, our schedule was a little different yesterday and it just so happened that it did work out for me. So, here it goes.

Breakfast: Cream of Wheat with cinnamon, brown sugar, and bananas with a cup o’ decaf coffee with cream and stevia on the side.

Snack: the rest of the banana from breakfast with PB2

Snack #2: Unphotographed tuna noodle salad at work

Lunch: Lower-sodium turkey breast, hummus, and avocado wrap

A spoonful (or two) of peanut butter…

Pomegranate no-added sugar applesauce…

Snack: Unphotographed peanut butter M & M’s at work

Dinner: Cooked spinach, pureed black beans, cheddar cheese, and avocado with salt and onion powder

Lastly, pretzels with honey mustard dipping sauce, and then I made myself I small batch of PB2 with honey to finish’er off!

I love these kinds of days! I get to eat all day long. I was extra hungry yesterday too so this worked out perfectly.

I slept much better last night by the way and am very thankful. I had a rough night of sleep the following night and was hoping it wasn’t going to be a reoccurring theme.

Alright, I’m off. Happy Thursday everyone.

Question of the Day: Which do you prefer? Small meals and snacks throughout the day/grazing or 3 larger meals?

I prefer grazing throughout the day but like I mentioned, work doesn’t always make that possible. I feel like my energy level is so much greater when I am eating smaller meals throughout the day and I am able to regulate my blood sugars more evenly versus many highs and lows which makes for a happier me overall.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Haaapppy Hump Day! I AM so happy because I just found out last night that will be attending my first ever healthy living conference this August! I will have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful healthy living bloggers who I have been following forever, meet fellow blogging friends, learn about how to improve my blog, talk about healthy living and food, and soak up every other bit in between! I am on cloud 9 seriously. I cannot wait. WOOOO!

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Yesterday I briefly mentioned how I will be gearing my workouts towards lower impact activities, at least for a couple of weeks until I get my colitis under control. I notice that my body doesn’t respond well recently to running and jumping which makes sense as I am putting a lot of impact on my body (organs included I guess). This might explain my not so beautiful half-marathon experience.

I absolutely will continue to be active through this all. My activities can include: walking, biking, yoga, elliptical, swimming, strength training and more. I will just be limiting my running and jumping exercises for a short time.

Let’s talk about yoga for a second shall we? I haven’t always been a huge fan of it, and I think the one of the reasons why is because I’m not good at it. I am embarrassed to say as a former dancer that I can no longer touch my toes without bending my knees and have lost all flexibility whatsoever. Well, what’s the best way to get better at something? Practice.

Yesterday, I flipped to OnDemand yoga on the TV and found a workout called “Gentle Yoga.” That sounded nice, and guess what? It was nice. It was a little slow moving at first which is something one has to get used to when you’re used to doing majority cardio type exercises. I focused on my breathing like the woman was telling me to do, and took the 36 minutes to really relax and stretch and listen to my body.

Wow. If I can actually let myself be patient enough to ease into yoga, I think I could really benefit from it and even enjoy it! I would love to regain flexibility and I KNOW yoga would help me with this. Also, I believe that if I can learn to manage my stress more effectively, including yoga and breathing exercises, I can heal faster. I am really hoping to try and add yoga into my weekly routine. Maybe start off with a goal of one time per week, see how I am liking it, then increase to two times per week. Huh, I like this idea! A fellow blogger Courtney at Sweettoothsweetlife, started a June Yoga Challenge and although I’m a little late on the ball, I just may join in. I never thought I would say it.

After my relaxing yoga, I headed out for an easy 30-minute walk, and then it was time for breakfast. Do I even need to tell you what I had? You could look at my last whole entire month of breakfasts practically and learn real quickly that breakfast was indeed a bowl of Cream of Wheat cereal mixed with cinnamon, stevia and just a touch of brown sugar. This is my ‘makes my tummy feel fine’ breakfast and it’s a must on days I have to work; for now at least.

We had a potluck meeting at work over the lunch hour and I didn’t snap any photos mostly because my plate wasn’t very colorful or pretty. Continuing to stick with the low-fiber meals, I managed to find a few options that I was able to enjoy: tuna noodle salad, turkey wrapped mozzarella (courtesy of moi), and a piece of the most fabulous homemade lemon blueberry bread.

I had an evening shift at work and managed to munch on five handfuls of peanut butter M & M’s (my absolute favorite alongside Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups OMG) throughout the course of the afternoon. I ate a banana around 5:30 which held me over until I got home at 7:30. I’ve mentioned this before but whenever I work later, I can never figure out what sounds good to me for dinner when I am home. I am in deed hungry, but I just can’t put my finger on what it is I’m hungry for. So I usually end up having a few small snacks.

I began with a piece of toasted Spelt Bread from Trader Joe’s with peanut butter and jelly.

After that I moved on to a small serving of Fage Non-fat Greek Yogurt with maple syrup, a half of a pair, and one more spoonful of peanut butter. That would have to do. I crawled into bed and read my book but the strangest thing happened to me last night…I could not get tired for the life of me. I read and read and read and instead of getting my normal droopy eyelids after about five pages, I just got more energy as I went along. At about 11:00 (already one hour past my bedtime), I decided I should shut off the lights and try and sleep. I laid in bed for almost 3 hours before finally falling asleep. Then, every time I woke up in the middle of the night I felt like I was ready for the day and full of energy. Is this what insomnia feels like? I didn’t like it. I hope I survive my day today, keeping in mind I am off the caffeine. Yikes.

Recipe Time!

Moving on….I mentioned this past weekend that I was busy in the kitchen whipping up a batch of pureed butternut squash soup. Well, here it is ladies and gentleman. Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (makes about 4-6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups butternut squash, skinned, seeds removed and cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 48 oz. reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. If you have an option for convection roast, use that, if not standard 350 roast or bake is perfect too.
  2. Lightly grease large baking pan with olive oil; place squash, carrots, celery, onion and garlic on pan; use hands to stir and coat veggies with olive oil.
  3. Roast or bake in oven for 25-45 minutes. Baking times vary greatly depending on cooking method (convection roast, roast, bake, etc.). You should be able to pierce the carrots easily with a fork when roasting time is complete, and onions start to take on a sweet scent.
  4. On the stove top, in a large soup pan, add vegetables and broth; cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes then reduce to simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add thyme and sage; stir.
  6. Using an immersion blender or standard blender, puree soup until smooth.
  7. Return to pot; add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Spoon into bowls,  garnish with fresh herbs and serve with whole grain bread or croutons.

After the soup was cooled, I ladled the soup into 6 Ziploc baggies and froze them for an easy and healthy meal in minutes.

Have a great day!

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Unattractive Food Photos

Happy Tuesday friends.

I’m going to start off by saying that yesterday’s day of eats was flat-out U.G.L.Y. I ain’t got no alibi, it’s ugly, yea yea it’s ugly.

To begin with the series of unattractive food photos, we’ll begin at breakfast. I decided to try something new for breakfast: sweet potato with peanut butter. I have been loving this combo for lunch so I figure hey why not try it in the morning? As much as I enjoy my boring old bowl of Cream of Wheat each morning, I thought it would be fun for all of us if I jazzed it up a bit. Enter: the ugliest food photo I think I have ever taken.

The verdict?  I don’t know if it was just the particular day that I wasn’t feeling this combo for breakfast, or if the texture was too much for me to handle in the morning, or what it was; all I know is that I wasn’t havin it. Not one bit. I ate a few bites before pitching it. That was me trying to eat outside the box in the morning. Outside the cereal box that is.

Speaking of cereal box, on to breakfast #2. After my first failed breakfast attempt, I wasn’t feeling very motivated to get creative, plus I was running out of time before work, so I poured myself a bowl of Rice Chex with almond milk and a little sugar. Very boring but simple and tasty, and just what I wanted.

I’m not giving up on the whole sweet potato in the morning bit just yet, but I will go another route next time; maybe puree them and add them into pancakes? We’ll see.

I met up with my mama and miss Abbie for lunch yesterday for a picnic during my break. I packed a Greek inspired low-fiber dish consisting of white rice, chicken, hummus, feta, and avocado. I sprinkled the whole thing with lemon juice and a touch of salt.

Absolutely delicious. I also ate a banana and some nummy Aussie licorice bites mom brought for dessert. I loved spending my lunch break with mom. We ate outside at a nearby park and enjoyed the sun and a cool breeze. I wish we could do that more often!

I mentioned yesterday that I was wanting and needing to get back on the workout wagon. It’s been a little difficult for me lately since I haven’t been feeling very well due to the colitis, and I am finding that lower impact exercises like yoga, walking, and the elliptical are agreeing with me better than higher impact activities like long runs. If I do want to run, it has to be right away in the morning when I don’t have much food in my system yet, and this just hasn’t been happening lately. My body has been favoring sleep and I have really been trying to listen to my body. If that is what it needs right now to heal me faster, that is what it is going to get. I do want to keep moving and I will keep moving, I will just be switching up my activities a bit for now.

With that being said, I headed to the gym after work. I started off with 20 minutes on the elliptical, followed by 10 minutes on the stair stepper, and finish off with 10 minutes walking at an incline on the treadmill. I didn’t have any new magazines to read so instead I watched The Real Housewives of Orange County. Some chick was getting married and it kept me entertained for the duration of the workouts. I finished off with my favorite core move on the bosou ball. I really need to get back on my game in the strength training department too. I so easily fall off the wagon on this one.

I headed home to the boys and began contemplating dinner.  While I pondered, I snacked on Special K Sea Salt Cracker Chips with hummus.

When planning meals, I often try and decide on the protein source first, and then build off of that. Last night our main protein source was going to be eggs.

In a pan on the stove top, I sautéed diced mushrooms, added cooked spinach,  and low-sodium deli turkey. In a separate bowl I whisked together two eggs and about 1/2 cup egg whites for Dana and I. Once the mix-ins were finished sautéeing, I poured the eggs onto the pan and began the scramble. During the last minute of cooking I sprinkled in about 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese until it was gooey and melted into the eggs.

I plated them up and sprinkled the dish with salt and pepper and a little squirt of ketchup and enjoyed a proton packed dinner that came together in just minutes.

I told ya it was an ugly day of eats. I guess this one isn’t too bad. Besides my first shot at breakfast, the meals were all very tasty which goes to show that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. I especially enjoyed our scrambled egg dinner.

The rest of the evening was spent watching the drama unfold on the bachelorette.

I loved that Emily told one of the guys off after finding out he was referring to her daughter as baggage and saying some other cruel things about her. What a jerk! He was a nasty one. I’m glad he’s gone. My favorite is still Sean; has been since the beginning. He is sweet, smart, kind, and very handsome. If it were up to me, Emily would choose him. Why do I get sucked in to watching this show every season? Why?

 Later I needed a little snack so I made myself a small bowl of Fage Non-fat Greek yogurt with frozen blueberries and honey.

I also stumbled upon two Milano cookie melts that I saved from an airplane snack during one of our last vacations. For being a packaged cookie, they were pretty darn good. I still prefer homemade of course.

Off to get ready for the day! Peace and love.

Question for you: Have you ever made a dish that turned out completely unappealing to the eye, but tasted awesome? Tell me about it!  I would love to hear from you!

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A Quiet Date Night

Happy weekend!

Recap from yesterday…

My day started off with a follow up appointment with the gastroenterologist regarding my current colitis flare. To give you a quick update, I’m still not feeling very well. The doc is going to amp up the dosage of my medication and has recommended I stick to a low-fiber diet as best as I can, reminding me that some small salads here and there will probably be fine, just don’t go crazy. I told her I had tried to stick to a very low-fiber, low-residue diet, but couldn’t stick with it very long because my body was craving greens so bad, and I wasn’t feeling well because of it. I am going to continue to experiment with my diet, but have decided to only allow myself to experiment at night or dinner time, so that if I do have a negative reaction, I won’t be stuck at work with it.

Anyway, I am continuing my research on different allowable foods and plan to get creative. I got busy in the kitchen later and whipped up (literally) a batch of roasted butternut squash soup for my lunches or dinners next week. People with U.C. can often tolerate cooked veggies; squash, carrots, sweet potato, but are continued to be advised to stay away from cruciferous types of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, because they often cause GI distress. I will be posting this recipe soon! It turned out fantastic.

We made a stop at Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things since we were in the area. I L.O.V.E. LOVE Trader Joe’s. We especially love their Three Buck Chuck.

For lunch…I had some snacks and then made myself one of my most favorite lunches of all time. Spelt bread in this case, with peanut butter, honey and bananas. In my younger years, whenever I got sick with flare-ups, my mom would buy me spelt bread and I seemed to tolerate it well. I thought I would give it a go again.

So beautiful. I actually used PB2 on this one today because I am needing to watch my fat intake right now. Since PB2 only has 1.5 grams of fat per serving, it was a good decision today. I could probably eat this lunch every day and never ever get sick of it. Num.

I made my way to the gym but really wasn’t feeling the best so just hit the elliptical for an easy pace and easy resistance for a half hour.

Dinner and quiet date night….

For dinner I pureed a can of rinsed and drained pinto beans with garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and a touch of chicken broth. This was an experimental dinner btw to see if I can handle brown beans in the pureed form. We cooked up some white rice, and chopped up tomato, cilantro, and avocado, and piled it on a plate. We melted cheddar cheese on the deal and called it one quick and easy dinner.

Whoops, forgot the cheese.

There it is. How could I forget the cheese?!

I was hoping that we had mild salsa on hand to top off the dish but we didn’t, so I ended up seasoning my dish with a little dash of salt and a splash of lemon juice. I didn’t miss the salsa at all. I actually think I prefer the lemon taste (would have used lime if we had it and that would have been great too!).

Dana and I had a quiet date night planned for last night. We waited to finalize any date plans until I knew how I was feeling and since I wasn’t feeling great, we decided to make ourselves a healthy dinner, rent a movie, and stay home.

A while back I read ‘The Help’ and have wanted to see the movie ever since. Well, it just so happened redbox had it for us.

We spent the evening cuddled on the couch in our cozies watching ‘The Help.’ That is my idea of a perfect date night.

Now I am off running here and there today. Have a great Saturday everyone!

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My First Half Marathon

It’s time for a recap of my first half marathon experience.

I want to premise this recap by reminding you all that I have been struggling with a colitis battle now for one month or so. A voice in my head kept asking me if I thought it was a good idea to run this race yesterday or not, not to mention the fact that I came down with a 24-hour stomach bug on Friday. Was my body trying to tell me something? I usually listen to my body, but not this time. After all of the training and anticipation of this race, there was no way I wasn’t going to give it my best shot. I HAD to do it. I didn’t care what time I finished in, I reminded myself it was okay if I needed to walk, I just wanted to finish. Period.

The morning of the race I woke up at 5:15 am, hopped in the shower for a quick wake-me-up spritz, put my running gear on that I had placed out the night before, and made myself my usual pre-run breakfast.

I had my usual pre-race jitters. It doesn’t matter if it is a 5k, a 10k, or a half marathon, I react the same way. I give myself plenty of time to use the facilities before a race (and this is if I’m in a flare-up or non-flare up). This is how my body has reacted to nerves for as long as I can remember; before basketball games, before dance competitions, before the Registered Dietitian Exam, etc.

We loaded up the car at 6:15 am and headed to the race.

Upon arrival, we parked, walked to our destination, checked our bags, and headed to the biffy’s (port-o-potty if you will). I forgot to take any pre-race photos and that’s probably because I was totally nervous and more focused on finding the bathrooms before we had to go into our start corrals.

7:15 am rolled around, and it was time to make our way to our corrals. We dropped my brother off in the 8:30 minute/mile area and Dana and I headed back towards the 9:30 minute/mile area. During our other long runs, we averaged a 9:30 minute/mile pace, but we knew that this may be far-fetched today since we had never ran this length before. We gave ourselves some slack and knew we could fall back if necessary, of course.

A woman sang a beautiful version of the national anthem and I tried to use this time to close my eyes and relax. It really was beautiful.

Then the race began. They started letting groups off by start time, and then held the rest, so we were walking in a slow pace to the start. It was a very dramatic moment to me, and it’s the moment that I noticed I had a rock in my shoe. I was about to start running with it when Dana told me I’m not going to want to run with a rock in my shoe. It turned out I had plenty of time to remove my shoe and dump out the miniature rock. Ok, all better. Now, get your music ready. It’s time to rock.

Our corral was set off and it was go time. Immediately I felt the excitement from the cheering crowd holding their awesome signs and from the other runners who were just as excited as I was to be running this race as I was. But I wasn’t about to let this excitement run me into an overly fast pace. We kept it low and slow. In the first few miles, we ran by the 35W bridge collapse memorial site which I had never seen before. We passed the rolling Mississippi River and of course passed hundred’s of energetic spectators and cheerleaders.

We made one bathroom stop around mile 2. Around mile 3 I started to get an awful feeling in my stomach. I thought it was maybe just the jitters and kept praying that it would go away. It felt like my stomach was completely empty and cramping at the same time, and it was bringing me to nausea. I thought that I might just be hungry as I hadn’t eaten for two hours now, so I snacked on a couple of Blueberry Pomegranate Gu Chomps. I also sipped on some water from the water stop and waited 15 minutes or so to see if the pain would go away. Not a chance. It only progressed and got worse.

I kept running up until mile 6, when I told Dana I had to walk. I HATE walking on runs. I don’t like stopping because 1. I find it harder to start back up again and 2. It slows me down and keeps me from reaching the finish line sooner obviously. When I stopped to walk I was fighting to inhale a breath and felt tears beginning to swell. What is going on with me? Then it was time to give myself a little pep talk (in my head of course): Melanie, your body is going through a lot right now with the colitis, the stomach bug, etc. You can do this though, I know you can, but remember that time doesn’t matter today. It is OKAY to walk. No one is going to judge you except for yourself, and you’ll get over it. Take care of yourself and you can finish. I began running again but was only able to run for about 5 minutes before needing to stop again to walk. At this point I made Dana go ahead because there was no way I was going to hold him back like this.

Once I talked him into going ahead, I walked for probably another 5 minutes or so before I tried giving the running a chance again. I was able to run for a long time after that but at a pretty slow pace. I would walk through the water stations and then pick up the running again. I would tell myself that I would run to the sign ahead, or run until I saw some of my family and friends that were there to watch us, and then I could walk but only if I really needed to walk.

When I saw mile 10 I thought okay, one 5k to go. I’ve done how many 5k’s? No big deal. Ha, well, that last 5k seemed like the longest 5k ever (and looking at my time it literally was my longest 5k ever). At about mile 11 we had to run up what seemed like a mammoth hill at the time. I ran up half of it, then walked the rest. I picked up the running again and told myself I cannot stop until I get to that finish line. I am way too close now, and there are so many people watching…and that was enough to keep me going.

I reached a corner where everyone was yelling, “You’re almost there! Just around the corner!” Sure enough, I rounded the corner and saw the finish line. Out loud I said ‘Oh, Thank God’ and I bolted to that finish line. They announced my name as I was running through and I felt such a great amount of pride at that moment. I thought I would get emotional but I think I was in too much pain to get emotional. In fact, Dana greeted me at the finish and it was a good thing because I felt like I was going to fall over. Immediately, a member of the medical team was at my side with an ice pack and water, and that was just what I needed. Well that, and to sit down, stat.

My official time was 2:20 which  makes for an average pace of 10:42 minutes per mile. I am usually a 9:30 minute/mile runner, but not today, and that is okay. I just finished a half marathon. Wow, what an incredible feeling.

We gathered with our family that had come to watch and then eventually conjured up enough energy for post-race photos.

In the photo above: Kevin’s friend Jeremy, Kevi, Me, and Dana.

My body was so unhappy at this point. That smile on my face and standing up there was taking every last bit of energy in my body. After photos, we made the lengthy trek back to our car (about a mile to our car…..blech) and I tried munching on a banana on the way. I felt such a void in my stomach yet everything sounded awful to me. The banana tasted extremely starchy to me but I know it was just an imbalance in my body so everything would taste off right then.

We headed back to our cozy home making one pit stop at Subway to pick up some lunch. At home, I immediately jumped in the shower, put on comfy clothes and settled myself on to the couch with water, Powerade Zero, and a blanket. This was going to be my spot for a while.

My day of eats minus breakfast which you already saw:

Newman’s Own Thin & Crispy Margherita Pizza that we protein-ified by adding some honey ham (and pineapple) making our very own Margherita Hawaiian Pizza. Num!

My favorite food from today: Froyo from Freeziac. I once again went with Cake Batter Froyo and added brownie pieces, cookie dough pieces, crunch bar bits, reese’s pieces, a dash of hot fudge, sprinkles, and one red gummy bear on top.

It was definitely a lazy food day. We were on the couch until about 3pm after watching a movie and taking a short nap. Then we decided to run and get groceries for the week. Once we got home, I returned to my spot on the couch which is where I spent the rest of the evening before bed.

As mentioned yesterday, TeamOrtho did an incredible job of putting on this event. I would love to go over what I loved about how they organized this event, as well as the amazing supporters and their encouraging signs, but I think I will save that for another post (this one is getting pretty lengthy).

Although I struggled throughout this entire race with some pretty awful stomach issues, I still finished. I will forever take pride in knowing that I completed 13.1 miles in the Minneapolis Half Marathon. If I ever decide to run another half marathon, I will run it when I’m not in a current flare-up. The trouble is, when I registered for this one I was completely healthy, but a lot can change in 3 months so it’s difficult to plan for. I know I can complete a more successful half marathon, without the pains, and actually be able to enjoy it a little more than I did this time around. I don’t think this will be my last one, but who knows!

I am so proud of my husband and my brother and myself for completing our first ever half marathon together. I am so lucky that I got to share this incredible moment with such amazing people.

Thank you for our cheerleaders who came to watch us yesterday, and for those who were cheering at home in spirit! Your love and support meant the world to me and my heart melts from all of the love I felt from you all.

Sorry for such a lengthy post, but this was an event in my life that will never be forgotten, and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you all.

I have the day off today to recover and to get a few things done around the house. I hope you have a wonderful day.

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My Half Marathon Non-Plan Training Plan

Hello there! Hope everyone is having a great weekend. I got hit with some kind of bug on Friday (which actually sent me home from work), but I am happy to say I am feeling much better now. I didn’t photograph any of my food photos from yesterday because they were extraordinarily boring; lots of carbs and fruit because that was all that sounded good to me. I would not let my body stay sick for long and kept a positive attitude all day because I HAVE to be well…I have a big event coming up tomorrow:

My First Half Marathon.

I am getting very excited for it and slightly anxious. Later this afternoon we will be going to pick up our race bibs and such.

Today’s post is going to be about how I prepared and trained for this half marathon. I thought it would be good for me to mentally walk through my training, to help me build confidence in my ability to carry out this run successfully tomorrow. I also thought some of you might enjoy reading it as well!

When Dana and I first decided to register for this half marathon, we began browsing through training plans. Initially, we had found two we were interested in: Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training Plan and Jeff Galloway’s Half Marathon Training Plan. Dana liked one of them, and I liked the other. We had tentatively decided we would each train on these schedules and make adjustments as needed.

Then, one of my reader’s Lisa, who is an avid runner, gave me some wonderful advice as I was contemplating the possibility of not following a strict training plan, and instead just running when I wanted to, and resting when I felt I needed to rest. She wrote: ““For my very first marathon, I followed a training plan and I found that when someone else was telling me when to run and how far to go, it became work and I dreaded it. Since then, I have just run to run and not worried about how far I was going. Two years ago I ran my first sub-four hour marathon and couldn’t have been happier. Now, this is not to say that training plans don’t work, but I found that I resented mine. Like I said, I listen to my body, run longer runs when I feel like it (or have the time- usually on the weekends) and give myself rest when I need it.” I also mentioned her comment in a past post: Enjoy Life While Training Plan.

After I read her comment it was as clear as day for me. I would not be following a strict running plan, instead I would make my own, and make it work for me and my life. I want this process to be enjoyable, and not become a second job. So that’s what we decided to do: A Non-Plan Training Plan.

I am trying to remember when I first starting training for this half. Throughout the winter I did continue to run, so this spring I wasn’t COMPLETELY out of running shape, but I definitely wasn’t IN running shape. I would say the more regimented training began in March sometime (when it was starting to get nicer outside here in MN).

There wasn’t necessarily a “typical” weekly workout pattern, but usually it was something along these lines:

  • Monday: Cross-train, strength
  • Tuesday : run
  • Wednesday: Cross-train, strength
  • Thursday: run
  • Friday: rest or light walk
  • Saturday: longer run
  • Sunday: cross-train, strength, or rest depending on the mileage from Saturday

It was nice having so much freedom throughout this training. However, it is important that if you do follow this type of non-plan plan, that you don’t let yourself fall off the workout wagon being that it is so flexible. You have to stay very motivated and also learn to listen to your body. I really enjoy working out so staying motivated was fairly easy for me, and I also feel like I know my body pretty well and understand when it’s trying to tell me something.

To help me stay accountable, I recorded my workouts here. I like being able to look back and track my weekly workouts, and as I mentioned before, I thought this would be a perfect time for me to review the past few months, so that I continue to remember that I am prepared. I’m physically and mentally ready.

The big race is finally here.  U.C. and all, I got this. I cannot wait to report back! Yikes!

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Every BODY is Different

Happy Memorial Day!

This weekend has been extremely productive. It has been nice to spend a weekend at home to catch up on things around the house.

How about a recap from yesterday?

Breakfast: Cream of Wheat with maple syrup, cinnamon, and brown sugar. On the side, some cinnamon apple decaf tea.

We did our usual Sunday morning gig of browsing through the newspaper, but unfortunately we didn’t get to cut any coupons because there were no coupons in the paper yesterday! I was incredibly bummed. I love coupon cutting on Sunday mornings. We then went to the grocery store and then home to work on the yard.

It was finally time to plant our vegetable garden. This year we planted: zucchini, 4 different varieties of tomato including 1 grape tomato plant, bell peppers, onions, jalapeno, green beans, and kale.

We decided to buy the pre-grown tomato plants this year because our tomato plants were extraordinarily late last year. When all of my co-workers were bringing in tomatoes to share, mine still didn’t come up for at least another month after that. We are hoping these work out better. We also moved them to a different area in the garden, so we’ll see what happens.

On the deck in separate containers we planted a few herbs: Basil, Dill, and Mint. I have a strong desire to make mojitos this summer if we get our mint to come up!

We worked on the yard all afternoon; trimming bushes, trees, cleaning the gutters, etc. It was a hot and steamy day here in MN at about mid 90’s and very humid, so I was a sweaty mess.

I snapped a couple of photos of some beauties in the yard.

For dinner we bought very lean pork tenderloin which I had marinated in the fridge using this lovely Lawry’s Hawaiian sauce.

The description: “An enticing combination of pure honey, soy sauce and ginger blends with tangy pineapple, papaya and a touch of mango to unlock the flavor secrets of the islands.” I was sold.The pineapple from the marinade also serves as a natural meat tenderizer. I would definitely recommend this sauce.

Nutrition per tablespoon: 20 calories, 0 fat, 250 mg sodium, 5 g sugar. Although I prefer making my own sauces and spices whenever possible, I think it’s okay to “cheat” every once and a while too.

For those of you who have been following my blog recently, what you see on my plate in this next photo may surprise you due to my current health situation and low-fiber, low-residue diet that I had said I was going to try to follow. Enter: greenery.

Alongside my (awesome) grilled pork tenderloin, I made myself an experimental small side salad. No toppings except for a little of my fav Newman’s Own Lite Honey Mustard. I wanted to see how my body would feel after eating one of the most missed components of my normal diet.

Lately, I have been following the low-fiber diet, but the truth is, I am feeling totally crummy and it’s not just from the colitis. My body is craving green veggies and I am getting burnt out of canned green beans real fast. I have been thinking that if I feed my body a little bit of the foods that make me feel good normally, and the food my body is craving (greens), that maybe this will help me heal (as long as I don’t get too extreme about adding fiber back in). I don’t plan to slam down the raw broccoli, beans, and cabbage, but slowly incorporating some side salads and other greens may possibly be the best medicine for me. There is no significant evidence that proves that any particular diet really helps people with U.C., so why not experiment and see how my own body reacts?

I wanted to see how I felt this morning after my salad experiment and guess what? I feel no different, and that’s a good thing. Like, I said, I’m not condoning a veggie smack down by any means, but I am going to continue to experiment and learn how my body reacts to different options. Every BODY is different. I will be very careful and also continue to be cared for by medical professionals.

I am off to make a potato and chive salad (thanks for the chives, Nicole!) for a get together with some of my family and some of Dana’s family later this afternoon. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Have a great day!

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Now, U.C. More About Me

Yesterday I had the day off of work to unwind from the weekend getaway (details to come), and to get myself together before heading back to work today. My morning yesterday started off with a quick 3-mile loop around the neighborhood. I still cannot believe I am running a half marathon in less than two weeks. I didn’t run at all last week being I was not feeling very well due to the intestinal issues I’ve been experiencing lately, and I feel slightly behind in the training. But I will be fine.

Speaking of intestinal issues, after the run I showered up and headed to the doctor to finally get some medical help in combatting my current colon issues. It’s time for me to put it all out there and fill you in on my “issues.” Well, one of my issues. 😉 I’ve mentioned before that I get a little embarrassed talking about my health issues, and growing up and even into my early twenties, I was really shy about sharing this information with anyone, even my closest friends. I have accepted that it is a part of who I am now, and that in learning to deal with my health problems, I can in turn help others who may be experiencing the same thing, or knows someone who is.

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (U.C.) when I was 12 years old. It is an inflammatory bowel disease and U.C. means I have ulcers in my colon. Some of the symptoms I experience include bloating, gas, and far from normal and frequent trips to the bathroom. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details because it’s not pretty, but that gives you some idea. I experience a lot of fatigue and feel uncomfortable a good majority of the time. I am always living with colitis, however there are times when I am symptom free, and I was actually symptom-free for more than two years. When symptoms are present, it is called a “flare-up” or “flare.”

Researchers aren’t 100% sure what causes colitis flares, but many believe it is brought on by stress, diet, or the body fighting some type of infection or other illness. Anyway, I am not quite sure what caused this particular flare as I don’t feel very stressed, but I was thinking back to about a month ago when I came down with a little bug. I was sick for about a week. After that, we were in the Dominican Republic where I was eating foods that are out of my norm. I came home and ate a semi-normal diet for about a week. Then we headed to the boundary waters where again, I didn’t eat foods that I should be eating with my current conditions. All of these factors may have played a part in my current situation, but then again, who really knows.

I started medications yesterday, and besides those, I will be doing my best to eat a low-residue, low-fiber diet, and analyzing the stressors in my life, and make adjustments as needed.

This is a topic that I was unsure of sharing because it is so personal, but have decided I want you all to know because as I have mentioned before, my diet will change slightly compared to how I am used to eating, and also I want to be able to share with you what seems to be working/not working in terms of diet and U.C. There are so many people out there living with U.C. and although each person reacts differently to diet and medications, I want to share my story and hopefully help others out there. Once I get this under control, my diet will go back to loads of greens!

Getting back on track…after my appointment, I met the hubs out for lunch at Cafe Latte in St.Paul. It is located off of Grand Avenue and I absolutely adore that area. We rarely go there and I don’t know why because it is awesome. Great people watching, food, and shops.

Now that I am working towards this low-fiber, low residue diet, I struggled a bit with what to order for lunch. I figured soup would be a safe bet (as long as I didn’t get a bean loaded chili) especially considering the veggies involved were very well cooked, not to mention it was freezing inside the restaurant so a warm bowl of soup sounded perfect. I ordered the split pea soup and an Asiago focaccia roll. Both were great. I loved that the soup wasn’t super salty, just fresh and tasty.

I was definitely in the mood for dessert after having to be poked and prodded at the doc, and there just so happened to be a little frozen yogurt shop that had recently opened down the street from Cafe Latte. How convenient.

I could eat Frozen Yogurt every single day. I love it. I tried not to go overly scoop crazy today. I started with a small base of red velvet and cake batter froyo, then topped it with Reese’s pb cup, brownie, M & M’s, cookie dough, marshmallows, and sprinkles. At this point I was okay with the potential stomach feelings to come, because it was so gosh darn delicious and actually, I felt fine afterwards.

The rest of the afternoon was spent unpacking, doing laundry, getting the car washed, buying pet food, developing boundary water pictures, and grocery shopping. This shopping trip was a food-for-Melanie shopping trip. I made sure to buy foods that would be easy for me to digest, low-fiber, and low residue. Here are some of my purchases.

Cream of Wheat, Rice Chex, White Rice, White Pita Pockets, bananas, canned green beans, canned pears, sweet potatoes (will eat without skin), apples (again, without skin), melon, applesauce, mushrooms (cooked), and creamy peanut butter (limited to 2 Tbsp daily). The pantry is also stocked with tuna, and the freezer full of other lean meats like chicken, tilapia, ground turkey, etc. If I have to switch up my diet, I’m at least going to make sure I am eating well and eating foods I enjoy.

Once we got home from errands, we fired up the grill and threw on lean turkey burgers, mushrooms, and canned green beans for me.

I love grilling. It was the perfect grilling weather too; warm with a slight breeze.

Sorry for such a lengthy post. I have so much I want to share yet I don’t ever want to bore you all with this, and I am not going to let it take over my life. I am maintaining a positive attitude which I do believe will help me heal faster as well. Thanks for letting me share with you another part of who I am. This part is not easy for me to share, so this is a vulnerable post for me, but I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

Have a great day my friends. Can’t wait to catch you up on my recent trip.

(Btw, Dana helped me with the creative post title.)

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Two N.Y.’s

I have landed in my mystery destination! Okay, a mystery to some. 🙂

Let’s here it for NEW YORK! Dana and I have a little get-a-way weekend planned in NY and it begins right now.

We don’t have a ton planned for the weekend, and we did this intentionally. We decided we wanted a low key weekend and we would “fly by the seat of our pants” when it comes to what we will do while we’re here.

Tonight however, we do have plans. We are meeting my cousin Stephanie, and her boyfriend, Jeff for a nice greek dinner. I am thrilled that it worked out for us to get together with them on such short notice. It will be so good to see them.

The only other time I was in New York was when I traveled with my cousin Betsy and our friend Ellen. We stayed with Steph, which was an absolute blast and especially helpful considering the three of us were broke college students. We all look like babies in this photo. I want to say this was about 5 years ago?

I can’t believe it’s been that long already. I am very excited to be back.

*************

The other day I whipped up this beautiful egg white omelette.

If you will remember, I sprinkled some nutritional yeast over the top. Let’s talk about that. Nutritional yeast is fairly new to me. I guess I did hear of it a while back, but didn’t look into it much. I was flipping through Women’s Health Magazine recently and I stumbled upon it again. I have been meaning to try some and this was the nudge I needed. The description I read mentioned it having a cheesy flavor that resembles parmesan cheese. Sounds wonderful right?

But first, What is this stuff?

Nutritional yeast (aka Nooch), is a deactivated yeast. Unlike the active yeast you use in breads, this type will not rise (so don’t try and bake a loaf of bread with it). The product comes in a flake form or a powdered form. It is very popular among vegans as it is plant-based and is packed with protein although it can fit into a carnivore’s diet as well. The flavor does resemble that of parmesan cheese. It is commonly used as a substitute for parmesan.

Nutrition Quick Facts (per 2 tablespoons)

Finding accurate nutrition facts became a frustrating task seeing that each source I viewed was slightly different. With that being said, I will give you a range of data from what I found.

  • Protein: 8-9 grams!
  • Calories: 60-80 calories
  • Fat: approximately 1 gram
  • Fiber: 4-5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 5-7 grams
  • Rich in B vitamins including B12 which is a common nutrient deficiency in vegan and vegetarian diets. B12 is most commonly found in meat.

I am only beginning to learn all of the wonderful health benefits of this new superfood.

How can you use it?

Sprinkle it on:

  • hot popcorn
  • steamed broccoli
  • omelets
  • scrambled eggs
  • pasta
  • salads
  • cook into soups

So far I have only used it on cooked rutabaga and on an egg-white omelet. I am loving this stuff. It looks like powdered gold. I have been becoming more aware of my protein intake lately. I generally don’t eat much meat at home (minus this past week) but do try and get my protein in other ways: greek yogurt, peanut butter, eggs, beans, cheese, whey protein, and now, nutritional yeast!

That’s the cliff notes version of it at least.
How ironic that the two topics in this post, nutritional yeast and New York, share the same initials. Neat, right? 😉 I am a huge nerd.

Alright, I need to go explore this city that we know don’t sleep. Right, all of you Big Willie fans? Gotta get jiggy wit it.

Have a wonderful Friday friends!

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Touchy Subject

Good morning!

Work starts a little later today so I slept in until 7:30, and am enjoying a cup of coffee before I head downstairs to get a run in on the treadmill.

So remember how I mentioned that my soup had a really high sodium content yesterday (not to mention the salty chips)? Well, I could definitely tell later on in the day just how salty it was because I was incredibly thirsty. I was going through water like it was my last chance to ever again drink it.

This made me curious. I had weighed myself yesterday and I was wondering how much water I was retaining after all of that sodium. I stepped on the scale again today…I am retaining 3 lbs of water weight this morning! Now, I am not trying to be an advocate for the scale because really, I hate the scale. I could be feeling phenomenal one morning after a week’s worth of healthy eating and great workouts, and then step on the scale, “not like what I see,” and I am grumpy for the next half of the day.

I need to remember that they’re just numbers. If the pants fit, and I like how I look and feel, and am trying to eat right and stay active, the numbers don’t matter. K, that was my scale rant. It just makes me think about all of the processed foods out there and how much harder our hearts have to work when there is extra fluid flowing around in there.

Since I went there with the numbers and the scale business, I have to say, although I am a dietitian and do watch what I eat, it is obvious I love sweets. Enter oreo bars and ice cream:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around the holidays I did pack on a few extra lbs due to endless holiday cookies staring me in the face daily, and am slowly trying to shed those lbs gained. I am a very active person, and the “numbers” are going down Slllooooowwwwlllly (which is good), but more importantly, my pants are starting to fit better than they did around the holidays.

I am not perfect, I am not a perfect eater, but I do try and balance my diet and never deprive myself of the things I love. If I want chocolate everyday, I will eat chocolate everyday, I am just learning how to moderate that so that it continues to be a “treat” and not a daily snack. I to, have to practice what I preach: It’s all about moderation.

Weight is definitely a touchy subject for most people, including myself, but it is something that so many people are worried about on a daily basis. That’s why I dislike diets so much. Sure some diets will help you shed 30 lbs in 30 days, but what happens once you go back to normal living without the diet? The pounds start to pile on oftentimes more quickly than they were lost which is why I stress the importance of learning to live a healthy lifestyle with healthy food choices and exercise. It is important to enjoy life, and love the foods you are eating, but there needs to be some balance in there.

As I continue to motivate myself to stay active and eat healthy, I will try and do the same for you whether it’s sharing healthy recipes (and sometimes not so healthy ones–remember all in moderation), sharing workouts, fun activities, etc.

I hope your Tuesdays are off to a great start. Get out there and “let me see you do something.” Love those commercials! Off to the treadmill I go (yes our basement is unfinished, that’s not a really bad zebra paint job)…

Hi, Melanie. I am waiting for you…
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